Is there a true Church in this world today?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by IowaGuy, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Well she's right, as the Ethiopian Orthodox Church came about via separation from the main founding line ... of course, there was no Roman Catholic nor Greek Orthodox Church then, just the Church ... The Ethiopians went their own way in the fifth century, when they refused to accept the Christology declared at the Council of Chalcedon (431AD).

    It's an interesting by-line that critics like to say that since Constantine, the emperors were telling the Church what to do. History refutes that absolutely ... indeed the Eastern (Constantinople) emperors tried to silence any discussion of Christology, and failed. They desprately wanted to avoid a split with North Africa, that failed too ...

    Not really, there's only a few who claim, or can claim, apostolic succession.

    Well that's because it's true.

    I can't help that, but that point of view is somewhat over-simplified.

    The Church established on Apostolic Succession was founded in Jerusalem at Pentecost, but it was neither 'Catholic' nor 'Orthodox' in the sense we know it today (as a distinction between east and West), although it was both (universal and true).

    Thus I trace my lineage back to the Church founded in an upper room in Jerusalem 50 days after the Crucifixion.

    The Roman Catholic Church, does not appear as an entity for centuries.

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    I would argue that the fragmentation occurred when they became a national church distinct from the Universal Church from whom they received their foundation.

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi Ahaunu —
    Intersting notes from Küng — always entertaining.

    I think they saw the writing on the wall. They Jews had killed Stepehen, and then they killed James, who might not have been their leader, but was a constant presence in the Temple. Once he was dead, I would have thought no Christian could rest easy. There were running street-battles in Rome between Christians and Jews recorded about this time. Also, there was a general exodus of Christians from Jerusalem in the face of constant Jewish provocation of the Roman authorities.

    The center 'center' had shifted to Rome by then, surely? The Jerusalem see was always an hnourarey rarther than actual or effective see. Rome was the administrative center, Alexandria and Antioch centres of catechesis.

    well that was decided by 50AD, as we can read in Acts?

    He simply can't say that, it assumes far too much. Küng would be obliged to prove that 'Jewish Christianity' — and there was not one single strand, so it's a bit of a misnomer in itself — was the legitimate heir. Where is the evidence that demonstrates this legitimacy?

    Really? Again, evidence? I don't dispute they existed, I do dispute they fully understood who Christ was.

    I rather think this is over-stated, also.

    Nonsense — or rather, erroneous and super-ceded scholarship. The Essenes pioneered a very fundamental and hard-line way, not the way of Jesus at all ... the socialism of Jesus would have appalled them, and his mixing with the sinner and the impure would have horrified them. His way was not Essene at all. The Essenes were also a militant society, and would not endore Jesus' message of love, forgiveness and peace, they embraced none of that.

    Not really — it was a different message altogether.

    OK, but what we also have to accept is Küng is making a number of assertions founded on nothing but his own assumptions, it seems to me.

    But it would be the same inaccurate catch-all as using the term 'gnostic' to brand every strand of thought that turned up in the 2nd century. It's best because it suits the author's polemical position, not because it accurately reflects the reality.

    For too long we've assumed Judaism was set into the classic Pharisee/Sadducee/Herodian/Essene mould — and now we know the picture was a lot more sophisticated and nuanced than that. This author seems intent on bringing back the old, simple, designations, to infer quite inaccurately and polemically that there was an 'orthodoxy' contrary to the Christian position.

    OK — but the Christian Church was never made at home there, was it?

    And remember, if the Jerusalem Christians had their way, there would always be Jewish Christians, to whom the promises of Christ applied, and Gentile Christians, who would always be second-class citizens and to whom the promises would not necessarily apply, as they were not covered by the Covenants made to Israel and recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures.

    So we see the point at which Christianity might have been enveloped by Jewish nationalism, or burst out of that confinement to become a truly universal Way.

    Who were all Greek, so please don't beat up the Roman Church on this point! Be that as it may, the crucial distinction id between the Hellenisation of Christianity, and the 'Baptism of Hellenism', and that has been a constant tension. To put it starkly: Do we use our minds, or do we not?

    Remember that the Hellenization itself began in the face of a philosophical critique that said Christian doctrine was superstitious nonsense of the ill-educated. The Father believed that if it was true, it was legitimately a subject for intellectual contemplation. And people like Arius and later Origen were challenged for attemption to Hellenize Christianity, and others besides.

    Having said that, I think there is an unfortunate dimension in the loss of an Hebrew cultural heritage, and an unfortunate aspect in the almost wholescale adoption of a Roman one, and questionable aspects of the Hellenic ...

    Whoa here!

    Christianity was, and is, practical. The fact that it does not appear so today, does not mean it was not in the time of which this writer speaks. I think it was, in its earliest, tremendously practical. The Christian community in Rome had a social services programme that was better than anything the Romans even bothered to attempt, so I find this argument just too simplistic.

    Problem is, one can't separate the revealed teaching from the message of Christ, so this is a bit of a red herring. It's like saying, if the Christians had remained Jewish, and ignored everything that set them apart from the Jews, then they would be authentic Christians ... but they wouldn't, they'd be Jews ...

    So the Trinity is a theoretical concept? But Abraham isn't? The Law isn't? Someone has shown his hand here, methinks ...

    So the former believes but doesn't understand, whereas the latter understand, but don't believe? I don't think it can be simplified like that.

    Like whom?

    God bless

    Thomas
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Yet all three claim a superiority over the moral issues that determine right and wrong in common man; once a gnostic adept has certain 'keys of knowledge' he has attained a certain position from which he can do no wrong ... anything he does will be endorsed by heaven.

    The gnostics divided humanity into pneumatics (very rare, the gnostic master and ?), psychics (their followers, who understood that they needed to have their eyes opened by a pneumatic) and hylics, the vast majority of humanity, who did not have the spark, and could not therefore be saved.

    Gnostic systems were all about 'the keys of knowledge', apophatism was not their thing ... whereas Christianity is not about who you are, but what you do, hence it's a gnosis above knowledge, and we're back into apophatism again.

    The problem is the esoterically inclined (and I include myself in this) make false idols of apophatic doctrine, whereas the true apophats are the poor, the meek, the mild, who just 'do' Christianity for every reason that many people here would criticise them for, and call it 'blind faith'.

    The point is the apophat has faith in what se or she knows cannot be seen nor known, those who pride themselves in their vastly superior spiritual, intellectual (and sometimes esoteric) knowledge, who villify 'blind faith', are invariably more blind themselves, dazzled by the glamour of the idols of their own manufacture ... their way is unique to them, they are special, after all ...

    There is always a strong element of humility that runs through the writings of the really great spiritual writers, and where there is not, then there is just an empty vessel ...

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  5. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Hi, Thomas. As always I would like to thank you on such a great critique.

    I'll need some time to think about it. I'll return shortly.

    :D
     
  6. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    I am not defending them... except that if true remnants of their creed existed, I believe they would have at least as much right to the tradition we call Christianity as, say, the Adventists or the Lutherans. If there is no tradition back to the earliest fathers, but instead there is just some new creed ginned up, while they are Christians by self-declaration and consensus, they do not have the traceability.

    No, the gnostics are a peculiarly self-indulgent bunch. And all that Zoroastrian dualism just gets in the way, I believe. It is not just a matter of being esoterically inclined, I think... but it is a matter of lack of simplicity (some would claim intelligence, but having met pretty smart "saints" in a kinda orthodox sense, I think simplicity is more appropos.

    The great herseiarchs, like the great souls, seem to lay in wait for the one who tries to travel the path.
     
  7. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Sir, I would like to see your evidence that the Essenes as a whole were a militant society. From what I read, this idea of an increasing militant bent has been advanced by J.T. Milik, who viewed the Qumran community, by the time of the war with Rome, as "a centre of military resistance."

    Before looking at two of his arguments I found online, the Essenes could not be categorized as pacifistic: the Temple Scroll, though not of Qumran origins, was highly esteemed, and discussed the rules of military affairs.

    The most significance piece of evidence comes from the militant eschatological ideology in 1QM, which foresees the destruction of the Romans, the primary enemies of God.

    We only have one source of direct evidence telling us an individual Essene was in combat: Josephus. According to him, the author says, "an individual named John was one of the eleven generals of the eleven toparchies of Palestine and was among three leading generals who led a disastrous military expedition in the early stages of war." This evidence cannot be used to describe the position of the group as a whole.

    The author I am reading concludes:

    "On the basis of the limited and circumstantial information . . . it is impossible to determine the extent of Essene militarism or participation in the war against Rome."

    The author also writes about the vows said during initiation, so here is one:

    "In relation to outsiders, the Qumranic initiate apparently made two vows that are significant for the present study. First, the initiate vowed not to retaliate against any man. This vow uses the language of repaying the reward for evil (QS 10.17-18; cf. 11.1-2); Lev. 19.18a is not applied to relations with outsiders but to relations in the community. Included in this vow is the complentary promise to pursue every man with good and the warrant for this ethic, namely that judgement and repayment are God's business."

    The author goes on to talk about how two other elements of Qumranic ideology seems to contradict the vows. The community must not withdraw their wrath from the ungodly, but must conceal it. The prosecutiona and punishment of the ungodly happens during the Day of Vengeance. As for this concealed hatred, it cannot be said that all Essenes shared this view, according to the author. During the present day the idea of non-retaliation and good deeds to the ungodly apply, but, if some Essenes did engage in military opposition to Rome, it was because they believed the final days had arrived.

    Non-retaliation in early Jewish and ... - Gordon M. Zerbe - Google Books

    Anyway, Gordon M. Zerbe's book is what I found on a quick search. I just need your evidence for why you think the Essenes were a militant society. Also, I would like to read more than the summary of the source I just quoted from. I need to read all of chapter 3. Gordon Zerbe disagrees with you.
     
  8. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Okay. Now that I have read the chapter, I have a better picture of what is going on here.

    I found the introduction interesting. There is no scholarly consensus on the origins of the Essenes or the relation of Qumran to the Essene movement. Some scholars see Qumran as a headquarters. Other scholars view Qumran as an offshoot of the larger Essene movement.

    Anyway, here is a significant passage regarding non-retaliation and outsiders in QS1:

    ". . . to return with humility the proud of spirit, and with a contrite spirit the men of power, the pointers of the finger, the utterers of injustice, and the possessors of wealth. For as for me, my vindication belongs to God . . ."

    The Essene upholds non-retaliation in the present order of time, but their hatred is revealed during the end of time, when the judgement of the wicked occur and the elect participate in God's judgement.

    Sounds similar to what Paul wrote:

    "For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

    But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

    Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

    Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

    Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
    (1 Corinthians 5:12-6:3)

    My question is this: does the view of the Qumran community represent all Essenes?

    Refer to Josephus and Hippolytus for this issue.

    Hippolytus lists the oaths into the Essene order as follows:

    " . . . to keep just dealings with men and not to injure anyone in any way, but neither to hate one who injures (oneself) nor an enemy, but to pray for them; to contend together with the just."

    Josephus' version reads:

    " . . . to keep just dealings with men and not to wrong anyone, whether of one's own resolve or under another's order; but to hate always the unjust and to contend together with the just."

    Hippolytus says something contrary to Josephus' version: "but neither to hate one who injures (oneself) nor an enemy, but to pray for them." Hmm . . .

    Josephus version has good arguments behind it: we know that, from Qumran, followers are told to hate the sons of darkness, but to love the sons of light, that "there is no call for a prayer for one's enemies in Essene writings," and that "Hippolytus adds a Christians touch to his account of a Jewish heresy."

    There are good arguments for Hippolytus' version: "Josephus seems to revise his accounts of the Essenes elsewhere more than Hippolytus does, there is no evidence that the sectarian ideology of 1QS was shared by all Essenes, Hippolytus' version accords with the pacifistic depictions of the Essenes in Josephus and Philo." Also, "why a Christian Father would deliberately assimilate his account of a 'heresy' to a Synoptic saying of Christ is difficult to explain--or why he should depart from the text of Josephus if it lay before him in its present form," writes M. Black.

    The author concludes:

    "It remains possible that Hippolytus documents a perspective characteristic of other Essenes."

    I really like this idea, because I think the Essene movement was diverse. I will take this conclusion as my position. It is possible some Essenes did not have concealed hatred for outside oppressors.
     
  9. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Also, if the Essenes at Qumran were a militant society, then Qumran, if Josephus and Philo are correct in their estimates of the total Essene population, comprises only 5% of total Essenes at the height of Qumran's heyday! Just thought I would throw that in there, because I forgot to do so.
     
  10. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Okay, this is a long debate. And the Milik-Mason side of the discussion is notoriously ill-documented. What it comes down to is what emphasis should we place on Josephus? I like the Atkinson/Magness conclusion

    - Gale - Enter Product Login

    I think they pretty well show that based on the internal evidence from Qumran the Josephusian interpretation (the Essene-Qumran link) is pretty convincing.

    Pax et amore omnia vincunt
     
  11. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Could you explain, please? What do you mean by "notoriously ill-documented?"

    I thought the issue was whether or not Qumran represents all Essenes?

    All of this hinges on Essene eschatology and how an Essene interprets the end of days, and if all Essenes interpret the end of days the same way.

    By the way, I cannot access your information in the link.
     
  12. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Go here Gale - Enter Product Login

    And sign up for free trial or go to

    atkinson magness qumran - Google Scholar

    Milik was not the most consistent and objective of the original DSS scholars. And Mason does not document his claims well (in terms of archeological proof versus liguistic and cultural proofs).

    The atkinson-magness paper I cited is pretty much accepted as the definative proof that Josephus was correct in stating that the sect was centered there and was representative of the Essene leadership prior to the War.

    Now does that apply to all Essenes? Of course not. What the Atkinson/Magness paper does is lay to rest any concerns Qumran was not Essene.

    Now the question becomes how does the archeological findings match up to other ancient sources? Where Philo and others differ from Josephus, I would side with the latter (because of the Atkinson proof). What does this say of the de Vaux-Milik controversy? Well, de Vaux had his archeological problems (which Milik jumped on). And of course Milik was correct in pointing out possible other alternatives. But IMHO he went well beyond that (kinda like the Rationalist he was raised to be) in pointing out the "logical" problems. After 40 more years of excavation Atkinson has shown that de Vaux was pretty much spot on in his analysis (pretty surprizingly IMO) by showing the clothing and pottery and set-up and other hard archeological evidence do not support the thesis that Qunran was not Essene.

    And we have too little historical data (the Romans did a real number on the Essenes) so we are left with Philo, Pliny and Josephus. And Atkinson just supports Josephus to the point where I would "second tier" P&P where they differ.

    Pax et amore omnia vincunt.
     
  13. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi Ahanu —
    The same goes for the Pharisees and all the Sadducees ... nothing is quite as simple as it might appear.

    As for 'militant', I did not necessarily mean military ... the Jesuits are the Soldiers of Christ, and the Church sometimes refers to Herself as the Church Militant ... but that was never a licence to go round hurting people.

    From the DSS we do get an idea of the importance of purity, and as ever this spills over from spiritual to carnal, to racial, and so on ...

    ... we are safe to assume that Our Lord's attitude to the sick, the sinner, the foreigner, et al set Him at odds with the 'hard-liners' of the Law, be they Essene or Pharisee. Too often such movements can end up as 'spiritual elitism' no different than the fiscal elitism of the rich, and I think Jesus tended to see through the hypocrisy of the spirit, as well as the flesh.

    On the other hand, Jean Danielou had put forward the argument that the triforme institution of the Church — Bishop, presbyter, deacon — was modelled on the Essene pattern, and Saul of Tarsus was baptised and educated in Christianity in Damascus (after his illumination and years in Arabia) where there was an Essene presence, and it is assumed that they were Essene converts to Christianity.

    There are even theories that The Letter to the Hebrews was addressed to Essene priests, be they converts or in contention with Christianity.

    In the same way, the Johannine corpus argues against the dualist tendency to divine humanity into sons of light and sons of darkness and equating the former with the spirit and the latter with the body, a tendency which can be seen (or read into) Essene writings.

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  14. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    John the Baptist was neither Essene or Pharisee; I think the movement John the Baptist created emerged from an Essene movement, much like how the Báb's own movement emerged from Shaykhism. John the Baptist may have learned from Essene teachers, and then originated his own teachings in an Essene atmosphere. In other words, John made innovations in Essene eschatology, which switched the attitude to the sick, the sinner, the foreigner, and so on. John the Baptist believed that, during the appearance of the Messiah, Judgement Day arrived. After reading about this concealed hatred among Qumran Essenes until Judgement Day, it is not hard to imagine how interpreters could have different understandings of what that meant.

    Jesus was neither Essene or Pharisee; I think the movement Jesus created emerged from John the Baptist's movement. Jesus also originated his own teachings in whatever John the Baptist's movement was called during that time.

    However, discovering these transition phases seem impossible, but I think that is what happened.
     
  15. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    "he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

    Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
    (Matthew 3: 11-12)
     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    I think this explains it ...
     
  17. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the link! Ha! I did not know merely spitting could be so controversial!

    I'm not familiar with the history of the debate, so I educated myself here:

    The Problem for Identifying the Qumran Community as the Essenes Old Testament Story

    I thought it provided a good introduction. I wanted to understand the problem.

    Eleazar Sukenik proposed the Qumran-Essene link.
    Lawrence Schiffman proposed the Qumran-Sadducees link.
    Norman Golb argues the scrolls have no connection with Qumran; instead, they were left there by people fleeing Jerusalem during the First Jewish Revolt.

    I wanted to look up arguments against the Atkinson/Magness paper you cited. I found another blogger writing the following argument:

    "The problem, in my view, is that the sectarian documents do not present a unified perspective on many issues. The Damascus Document and Community Rule are fairly consistent, but the calendrical scrolls reflect both the 364 day solar calendar predominantly preferred by the sect and the usual lunar calendar condemned by the sect as completely incorrect.

    Furthermore, 4QMMT reflects halakhic positions more like Sadducees, than Essenes. The classic example is about the purity of streams of liquid (4QMMT, B, lines 55-58) where the sect’s interpretation matches that of the Sadducees as reported in Mishnah Yadaim 4.7.

    The likelihood that the sectarian scrolls don’t reflect a single group helps explain texts that are difficult to reconcile with Essene beliefs such as the War Scroll (attributed to a peaceful non-violent sect?!)."

    The Biblia Hebraica Blog: Challenging the Essene Hypothesis

    What does Magnees have to say about this?
     
  18. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    The DSS per say is not part of the published Atkinson/Magness series (yet, I think they will comment). It should not be surprizing to find non-sectarian works in a community library, so if this is a community library (I do not know how to prove that) it is possible that writings not produced by the sect are present.

    Think of the great library of the Caliphite, there was a lot more than just Muslim-authored texts. Now shrink the size of the community and the library and you get something like the monastic library of Nag Hamadi, and it yielded non-sectarian texts.

    There is no good reason to believe the challenge to the Essene hypothesis IMHO as long as it is based on an unprovable idea (that the library would contain no non-sectarian works).
     
  19. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Okay, Radarmark, at the moment I agree with the Qumran-Essene link.

    As for you, Thomas, I agree with you that Jesus' teachings were contrary to Qumran Essenes and that Christians and Essenses are not identical (so, yes, I get what you are saying); however, you have no proof that all Essenes believed the same thing, or that a leader could not reinterpret Essene eschatology and create his own movement.

    Warning: speculation below.

    Since you are Catholic, I will begin with the words of Pope Benedict:

    "It appears that not only John the Baptist, but possibly Jesus and his family as well, were close to the Qumran community. At any rate, there are numerous points of contact with the Christian message in the Qumran writings. It is a reasonable hypothesis that John the Baptist lived for some time in this community and received part of his religious formation from it."

    John the Baptist could of been taken up by Essenes, for Josephus says they actively sought "other persons' children, while they are pliable, and fit for learning, esteeming them to be of their kindred, and form them according to their own manners." This would explain why John the Baptist shaped his message the way he did:

    "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

    And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

    For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

    And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey."
    (Matthew 3.1-4)

    While the gospel of Matthew sees John the Baptist's ministry as a fulfillment of Isaiah 40.3, the Qumran-Essenes view the verse as a call for separation from society and to live in the wilderness as God's true society:

    "When such men as these come to be in Israel, conforming to these doctrines, they shall separate from the dwelling-place of the men of perversion in order to go to the wilderness to prepare there the way of truth, as it is written (Is.40:3): ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God!’—this means the expounding of the Law, decreed by God through Moses for obedience, that being defined by what has been revealed for each age, and by what the prophets have revealed by His holy spirit."
    (Manual of Discipline 8:12–16)

    The next similarity is new to me. The Essenes considered their community to be a new temple:

    "When such men as these come to be in Israel, then shall the party of the Yahad truly be established, an "eternal planting" (Jubilees 16:26), a temple for Israel, and- mystery!- a Holy of Holies for Aaron; true witnesses to justice, chosen by God's will to atone for the land and to recompense the wicked their due. They will be "the tested wall, the precious cornerstone" (Isa 28:16) whose foundations shall neither be shaken nor swayed, a fortress, a Holy of Holies for Aaron, all of them knowing the Covenant of Justice, and thereby offering a sweet savor. They shall be a blameless and true house in Israel, upholding the covenant of eternal statutes. They shall be an acceptable sacrifice, atoning for the land and ringing in the verdict against evil, so that perversity ceases to exist."
    (The Manual of Discipline 8.4-10)

    Although what John the Baptist taught was not exactly the same, his teaching shares a similarity:

    Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

    And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
    (Matthew 3:8-9)

    This idea presupposes a living temple of men.

    In the Temple Scroll, God promises to create a new sancuary during the beginning of a new era:

    "I will accept them, and they will become my people, and they will be with me for ever. I will dwell with them all the days and I will sanctify by my glory my sanctuary, upon which I will cause to rest my glory until that blessed day when I will build my sanctuary, establishing it for all time, conforming to the covenant which I have made with Jacob at Bethal"
    (Temple Scroll 29. 7-10).


    A true sanctuary and ideal worship are anticipated by Qumran-Essenes and John the Baptist.
     
  20. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Qumran-Essenes and John the Baptist anticipate a true sanctuary, a "true Church."
     

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