The Error of the Lawless

Recently I wrote an article titled “Another Gospel: Three Ways Bruxy Cavey’s Teaching Denies Christ’s Fulfillment of the Law” in which I made the claim that Jesus did not contradict the law of God in the Sermon on the Mount. I claimed further that to say Jesus contradicted or broke the law is to contradict Jesus’ own teaching. A Jesus who was not completely obedient to God’s law cannot save anyone. Bruxy Cavey teaches that Jesus did contradict the law of God in that sermon, broke the law himself, and taught others to break the law, effectively rendering Cavey’s Jesus a sinner who cannot save any other sinner.

In that article I said that if you actually compare the words of Jesus when he says “You have heard it said” to the laws he cites, you will see that Jesus’ teaching is fully consistent with the law. So, how does Cavey insist otherwise?

Shortly after publishing that article I listened to Part 6 of Cavey’s current series “The Death and Life of God“. During the Q&A session at the end of the message, a question is asked which is directly relevant to his error I addressed in the article. I found Cavey’s answer rather illuminating in terms of demonstrating why he thinks Jesus contradicted and changed the law.

I am convinced that Cavey’s argumentation is entirely void of substance, so let’s take a look.

The Question

A woman from the audience asks a question of Cavey:

“Jesus says ‘if you love me keep my commandments’ and he says ‘if anyone breaks the least of these and teaches men to do so he will be called least in the kingdom of heaven’. How do we know he is not talking about the Ten Commandments, especially in regards to the Sabbath?”

Audience question, The Death and Life of God Part 6 – Losing My Religion (31:56)

The question makes it absolutely clear what Cavey is teaching. As I documented in “Another Gospel“, Cavey teaches that Jesus broke the Ten Commandments – specifically the Sabbath. The questioner wants to know how that is consistent with Jesus’ own teaching about those who break or teach others to break the commandments. Obviously then, the questioner also understands Cavey to be teaching that Jesus broke God’s law and taught others to do so.

Her question is very straightforward that deserves a straightforward answer. What is Cavey’s scriptural justification for teaching that Jesus broke the law of God when he clearly taught that he didn’t? Unfortunately, Cavey responds by talking for two minutes straight without ever answering the question! He never makes reference to the Sabbath, and when he does give examples of Jesus speaking of any of the Ten Commandments he does not even claim that Jesus taught that we are not to consider them binding.

However, in the course of his attempt to appear to answer this question he gives examples of what he sees as Jesus directly “contradicting” or “changing” the law (his words). I think that in examining these examples we will see exactly how it is that Cavey handles Scripture to come to his conclusions, and we will see that he is just flat wrong.

Example #1: Oathes

Starting at 33:33, Cavey gives three examples. The first is regarding oaths. Cavey says:

“He (Jesus) says ‘you’ve heard that you should swear in these ways to keep an oath, I tell you don’t.’ Oh! But the Old Covenant Law said you should.”

Bruxy Cavey, The Death and Life of God Part 6 – Losing My Religion

I said before that all you have to do is read what Jesus says then read the law he is referencing and you will see that they are consistent and do not contradict. Let’s do that.

Jesus says:

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”

(Matthew 5:33-37) ESV

Jesus here references Leviticus 19:12, which says “You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.” and other texts which warn that if you do take an oath you had better perform what you have sworn (Deuteronomy 23:21, Numbers 30:2).

So where is the contradiction? The law says not to swear falsely and keep your word if you swear an oath, then Jesus says just don’t swear at all. That is not a contradiction because the law never commanded the swearing of oaths. Even in the wording Jesus chooses there is no contradiction between the law as Jesus cites it and what Jesus commands.

Notice how Cavey represents the text, though. He says that the Old Testament law says we should swear and do it in certain ways to keep an oath, which is a patently false. Cavey is just misrepresenting the text and turning a warning against swearing falsely into a command to swear oathes! Those are two very different things.

Cavey insists there is contradiction, but to prove it he has to change the text.

Example #2: Eye for an Eye

Cavey offers a second example.

“He says ‘an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, you’ve heard that but I tell you love your enemy and turn the other cheek’. But ‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth’ is part of the law – and he says ‘yep, but no more, I’m changing that'”

Bruxy Cavey, The Death and Life of God Part 6 – Losing My Religion

Cavey is referencing Jesus in Matthew 5:38-42. The only way this could be a contradiction or a change is if the Old Testament law commanded the opposite of what Jesus says. So does Jesus contradict the law here? Does he say (as Cavey would have him say) “no more, I’m changing that”? Um, no, he doesn’t.

The concept of “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” is found first in Exodus 21:24 and repeated in Leviticus 24:20 and Deuteronomy 29:21. In each of these texts the law is addressing the legal penalty for criminal activity. This is a penalty to be carried out by the proper authorities (Judges) in Israel. Take Deuteronomy 29:15-21 for example:

“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days.The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Deuteronomy 29:15-21, ESV (emphasis mine)

It is clear in this text that the penalty of “life for life, eye for eye, etc.” is to be administered by the authorities after they have examined the evidence.

Jesus, however, is speaking in terms of personal retaliation. He is making it clear that the original context of this law did not give the green light to administer vigilante justice, or to personally avenge one’s honour when insulted or sinned against. That is entirely consistent with the whole of the law. In fact, the law specifically says as much in Leviticus 19:18!

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Leviticus 19:18, ESV

A modern-day example of this law might be where the death penalty is in place for the crime of murder. Jesus is clarifying what already existed in the law. If someone murders a member of your family you do not have the right to seek personal vengeance, hunt them down and kill them yourself as a fulfillment of “life for life”. That is the responsibility and prerogative of the proper authorities following due process. Also, if someone personally offends you or mistreats you, you are not to seek vengeance, but “go the extra mile” or “turn the other cheek”, etc.

So what is the contradiction? What justification does Cavey have for his assertion that Jesus said ” yep, but no more, I’m changing that “? Again, a careful reading of the relevant texts plainly reveals that there is none. Nothing changes here between Moses and Jesus. As with other examples in the New Testament, Jesus is correcting a false understanding or abuse of the text of Scripture and properly applying it to his hearers.

Example #3 – All foods are clean

The final example Cavey gives is when Jesus declares all foods clean in Mark, chapter 7. I have already examined that text in light of Cavey’s teaching in this article. I addressed other examples Cavey has given of Jesus contradicting the law in that article as well. Just search the heading “Mark 7:19” and you’ll find it. In short, when the context of the law cited is taken into account, Jesus’ words in Mark 7 are entirely consistent with the law. As with Cavey’s other attemps, there is no contradiction.

Conclusion

Cavey never answered the question posed to him in this Q&A session. He talked for two minutes, but never told us how we are to know that Jesus wasn’t speaking of the Ten Commandments when he speaks of obeying the commandments. Sure, he tried to demonstrate that Jesus contradicted other aspects of Old Testament law, but none of his examples are found in the Ten Commandments nor did any make reference to the Sabbath.

Additionally, when we examine Cavey’s examples of Jesus supposedly contradicting the law we see that there is no merit for such an assertion to be found in the text itself. Cavey only sees contradiction because he is imposing his own ideas onto the text even to the point of changing what it says. When we read the Scriptures carefully, in context, and don’t put words in Jesus’ mouth, Cavey’s mere assertion of contradiction simply fades away.

This seems to be an ongoing issue with Cavey’s handling of Scripture. Very often the things he says are present in the text simply are not, and he ignores the things that are present if they contradict his desired conclusion. Bruxy Cavey is not just an honest Bible teacher seeking truth but coming to different yet equally legitimate conclusions than me. He has an abysmal record of handling the text of Scripture properly, or even honestly.

Heed Peter’s warning and flee the false teachings of Bruxy Cavey.

There are some things in (Paul’s writings) that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Peter 3:16-18, English Standard Version

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