Bound by culture & philosophy
The apostles are the authority for inerrant and infallible teaching. But they made some errors based on accepting cultural norms of the day and Greek philosophy.
Certain apostolic teachings we generally refer to as "cultural" are actually errors. There is no hint the apostles thought of these as cultural.
Our authority for knowing truth depends on apostolic teaching. We have no other choice than to accept their teaching; after all, they learned it from Jesus himself. But we need to discover the things they added or changed, and reject these.
There is a difference between apostolic doctrine and true doctrine. This is because the apostles upon occasion taught error. Some examples...
- Many examples of rooting Christian teaching in Greek philosophy — that the physical universe is bad and the body is bad.
- That virginity (being unmarried) is superior. This idea originates with the Greek philosophers and their wrong idea that the body is bad; that only the mind and intellect are good.
- Subservience of women. Paul claims it's because Satan deceived Eve. This is a dumb reason. Adam's sin, not Eve's, required Christ's incarnation.
- Women should not braid their hair, nor wear gold or pearl jewelry, nor wear expensive clothes. Women shoppers today would have to choose inferior clothing that wears out quickly costing them more than if they buy quality clothing. Thus, we see the influence on even the apostles by the Greek philosophers that the physical world is bad.
- Head coverings for women (because of the angels?) and rules of hair length for all.
- Slavery is OK.
- Paul wrongly commands Christians to obey the government since it enforces justice for its citizens, because it is righteous and just. (I'm sure those innocent people wrongly arrested, tortured, imprisoned, banished, and executed would disagree with this assessment). This assumes the government is good, but not too long afterwards Christians were martyred by the Roman government, known for its atrocities.
- That all Christians are to have a similar economic situation; those having more should give to those in hardship.
- The apostles' view of church government was wrong — they shared everything in common. We know this is wrong because they abandoned it after a while. Therefore, we should expect the early church to get church government wrong too, and that is why they had (and still have) heavy-handed church hierarchy with clergy vs. laity.
- That Christians are only to provide charity for other Christians. Examples: (1) sending money to Christians in Jerusalem, (2) helping Christian widows. There are no examples of Christian charity to non-Christians by the apostles. But Jesus did not teach this exclusivity.
- Jesus is coming soon. He didn't come soon.
- Genocide of Jericho was OK.
- Apparently, Paul was not always certain whether his words in his writings were from God or not.
- Paul's teachings were hard to understand, probably because they didn't actually make sense at times. I wonder if this was because he lost his train of thought since dictating and writing was so slow and his mind was so fast.
- Paul claims he doesn't always speak the word of the Lord; in fact, he rarely claims that he does.
- Paul's oratory skills were weak and unimpressive. Even Peter didn't understand him.
- That God ordains and establishes political rulers, including despots and tyrants.
- Peter clearly made an error.
- Gentiles must refrain from food sacrificed to idols. Later, Paul says it's OK.
- Don't stumble your brother. Taken to its logical conclusion this means we can't do anything because it might stumble a weak brother having bad teaching and wrong ideas. For example, we shouldn't teach Sola Fide because it might give someone license to sin.
- Don't exercise your Christian freedom because it might stumble your weak brother.
- Christians using non-Christians as judges in lawsuits because Christians should not take each other to court. In fact, they should not sue each other at all, rather, they should allow themselves to be walked all over by other unscrupulous Christians. But how many times do the apostles list the very bad behavior of Christians exhorting them to change? Is it really right for these to exploit true Christians just because they claim to be Christians?
- Council of Jerusalem canons. These were later discarded with no council whatsoever.
- Confusing the body with the flesh. This is the cause of bad teaching about various topics.
- That people go down into the earth when they die.
- Peter thinking they needed to replace Judas as the 12th apostle.
- Paul ignores the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
- Paul claims to believe everything in the Old Testament while rejecting certain of its teachings.
- Paul misreads the Old Testament account of Hagar and allegorizes it. At first I thought it was OK for Paul to do this, but the more I think about it the less satisfied I am with it; it causes confusion because the content of the allegory doesn't naturally flow from the historical events.
- The writer of the book of Hebrews compares the priesthoods of Melchizedek and Levi based on which descended from Abraham, this, to demonstrate that Christ's priesthood is based on Melchizedek, not Levi. Perhaps this argument would satisfy the Jewish mind but it seems rather far-fetched. It makes Melchizedek's priesthood incredibly significant yet there is almost nothing said about the topic in the Old Testament. Weird.
- Paul claims it is good if people preach the gospel even if their motives are to hurt Paul. This is weird. A person's motives will affect the message and it will certainly affect their ability to feed the flock and to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of others.
- Paul teaches that the purpose of marriage is to avoid sin. This is a very low opinion of marriage.