The Problem with Abrogation

Shalom,

There is a need for people today to become familiar with the term “abrogation” insofar as how it relates to Scripture.  The principle of abrogation states that earlier revelations are superseded or nullified by later revelations that contradict them. For example; if there were an early portion of Scripture which clearly stated that eating chocolate was forbidden, and a later portion of Scripture which clearly stated that eating chocolate was needed for salvation, under the principle of abrogation the appropriate doctrinal stance is that the eating chocolate is a requirement, and the earlier portion of Scripture can be ignored as it is no longer valid.

There are several major problems with such a concept.  Should later “revelations” be held to replace earlier Scripture, there is no way to hold the speaker of such “new revelation” accountable; there is no way to prove the speaker’s words because they are against Scripture, and therefore no way to know if the speaker is truly speaking for the Lord.  Under the principle of abrogation, literally anyone can come along, claim to have a “new revelation” from the Lord, and promote it as the truth, no matter how great the difference between what the Lord has said, and this “new revelation”.

For us of the Judeo-Christian faith, abrogation serves as a big “red flag” letting us know that something is wrong.  Abrogation holds a host of unsavory implications.   Returning to the earlier example, there are only a few possible conclusions that can be arrived at (were abrogation a valid Scriptural principle), all of which are unacceptable:  the Lord got it wrong the first time; the Lord was lying when he made the first statement; or, should there be an accompanying statement about the earlier Scripture having been corrupted over the years, then the Lord is incompetent to maintain the integrity of his word.  Taking this into account, it is easy to see why Scripture is built line upon line, verse upon verse, with later portions of Scripture being constrained by the earlier portions of Scripture.  Were this scenario to have actually occurred, the correct Scriptural stance is that eating chocolate is forbidden, and whoever it was that said otherwise, later, was speaking against the Lord and this speaker’s words are recorded so that we will know this.

Scripture tells us that the Lord is unchanging; the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  His opinions do not change, his requirements for his people do not change, his purpose does not change.   It does not matter who says a thing, a Rabbi, a Pastor, a “Prophet”, a Preacher, an Apostle, a Theologian, a Pope, or just a man on the street; if their words do not line up with what Scripture has to say, it is not a message from the Lord.

Truly, “there is nothing new under the sun”.  The Messiah himself said that “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law, until all be fulfilled”…

…the earth was still here the last time I looked out my window.

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2 thoughts on “The Problem with Abrogation

    • Shalom,
      Paul’s commentaries contained within his letters are the cause of much dissent within the Judeo-Christian community, but they sort themselves out if you pause to “consider the source”. Paul was a Pharisee before the incident on the road to Damascus, and his time as a Pharisee clearly colored many of his assumptions and teachings. Paul was an excellent writer, having a distinct talent for drawing up summaries on topics from numerous sources (the “love chapter” which draws conclusions from many portions of Scripture is a good example of this). Problems arise, however, when Paul’s source material was not Scripture, but the various early rabbinical writings to which he, as a Pharisee, gave equal weight with Scripture.
      Many of the statements and summaries contained within Paul’s letters are excellent, and many are horrendous. All of what Paul had to say must be held to the same standard as the writings of anyone else, and must be treated just the same as any other writer’s commentary; if it is in agreement with what the Lord has said, hold on to it, if not, throw it out.
      This upsets a great many people for whom the writings of Paul have achieved a place as the “final word” on many subjects of Scriptural importance. I would that as many were equally upset when the word of the Lord was spoken against.
      To those who favor Paul, and believe they should follow his advise, I urge them to, as Paul said, “prove all things; hold fast that which is good”… …hold Paul’s own teachings to this standard; you might be suprised at which ones fall by the wayside.

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