Christian Apologetics Society

Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God."
- Matthew 22:29

Isaiah 55:11
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it
Gen 1:3
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light
Matthew 26:26
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body."
Malachi 1:11
My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty.
John 20:23
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 2:14
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
Luke 20:38
For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.
Rev 21:27
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
1 Cor 3:15
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Psalm 51:5
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.
John 3:5
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
1 Timothy 3:15
but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Acts 22:16
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Didache Text Contradicts Christian Belief?

Does the Didache text contradict Christian belief? That seemed to be the question one visitor to CAS had on their mind this past month when we found "didache contradict christian belief" in our analytics report of keywords.

Our immediate thought was, no, the Didache (pronounced die-dah-kay) does not contradict Christian belief as it was written by 1st Century Christians and was widely circulated and used by the 1st Century Church. In fact, it wasn't until the 4th Century that the Didache was formally and forever excluded from the canon of the scripture, not for being false, but for being a church manual. Personally, we would have liked the Didache to have been included in the Bible as it would have saved centuries of fussing over the mode of baptism and whether abortion is permissable.

The Didache is one of our favorite early Christian writings due to its being short and containing instructions for how Christians are to baptise. We suspect the Didache's forementioned instructions on baptism may be one of the key sticking points as the Didache does not support baptism by immersion only. Readers can find copies of the Didache text in several places including Wesley Center Online (our favorite) and the Calvin Christian Electronic Library (CCEL). If you have never read the Didache, take a moment and do so now. We'll wait as you'll be finished in just a few minutes. Try the Wesley Center Online version, it has fewer distracting footnotes and commentary. We'll get a fresh cup of tea meanwhile...

Oh, good, you're back!

One of the more interesting aspects of the Didache is it seems to have been written about the time of the Gospel of Matthew. There are many parallels between the two documents. In chapter 7 of his book "The Influence of the Gospel of Saint Matthew on Christian Literature", Edward Massaux includes a table with parallel texts from the Didache and the gospels of Matthew, Luke and Mark. Massaux points out that one could easily append the Didache to the end of the gospel of Matthew as the Didache seems to start where the gospel of Matthew ends.

So does the Didache contradict Chrsitian belief? No, we don't find the Didache contradicts Christian belief. We do think that the Didache does contradict many individuals' personal Christian beliefs and personal interpretations of scripture, but those are two entirely different things. So what are some of the seeming contradictions?

Baptism

The Didache is the earliest known Christian writing to detail just how Christians are to baptise. The writers of the books of the Bible seem to have assumed that their readers were already familiar with details of baptism and never provided any instructions. So sola scriptura Christians, who have interpreted various passages in the Bible to mean baptism is by immersion only, will experience dissonance where the Didache states:

    7:1 But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize.
    7:2 Having first recited all these things, baptize {in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit} in living (running) water.
    7:3 But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water;
    7:4 and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm.
    7:5 But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
    7:6 But before the baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able;
    7:7 and thou shalt order him that is baptized to fast a day or two before.
    The Didache


Thus, we have never had any disagreement with those who prefer to immerse converts in cold river water. That preference seems both Biblical and faithful to 1st Century practice. But to insist on immersion only sems to contradict both the Bible and early Christian practice. For some reason, humans like absolutes and tend to insert "only" at the drop of a hat.

Personally, we see the greatest contradiction between the Didache and baptism being that many Christian congregations immerse only once, where as the Didache and all the early texts on baptism indicate three immersions were/are used.

Fasting

Many modern Christian congregations are opposed to fasting, often because it seems Catholic. Thus, those individuals would likely have some discomfort reading:

    8:1 And let not your fastings be with the hypocrites, for they fast on the second and the fifth day of the week;
    8:2 but do ye keep your fast on the fourth and on the preparation (the sixth) day
    The Didache


1st Century Christians fasted twice weekly on Wednesdays and Fridays. Who knew? One wouldn't discover that reading the Bible alone. Might be interesting to discover when and why Catholics seemed to have dropped fasting on Wednesdays. The Didache also seems to shed some light on why many Christians meet on Wednesday evenings. Might the modern tradition be related to the fasting practices of 1st Century Christians? Hmm...

Lord's Supper

Fencing the table seems to have been the norm in the 1st Century. Those modern Christian congregations that practice open communion ("Everyone is welcome!") seem to be in contradiction to the instructions left by our 1st Century church fathers:

    9:10 But let no one eat or drink of this eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord;
    9:11 for concerning this also the Lord hath said:
    9:12 {Give not that which is holy to the dogs.}
    The Didache


The Didache makes clear that the Eucharist was to be received only by baptised Christians. "Give not that which is holy to the dogs." is a quote straight from Matthew 7:6. No contradiction with scripture there.

Also, the use of "eucharist" in verse 9:10 and the phrase "that which is holy" in verse 9:12 seem to indicate that 1st Century Christians considered the bread and wine to be more than merely symbolic. Some Christians may find this aspect of the Didache to contradict their personal beliefs or what they have been taught by other Christians regarding the Lord's Supper. Those individuals might consider re-reading the gospel accounts of the last supper in light of Isaiah 55:11 and Genesis 1 and ask themselves what happened when the voice of God (Jesus) went forth saying "This is my body." (Matthew 26:26) Why do all the gospel accounts of the last supper use the Greek verb "to be" (is, am are)?

Abortion

The Didache also makes clear that from the 1st century the Christian doctrine concerning abortion is that its wrong, with no exceptions. Those Christians that are pro-choice or make exceptions for rape or incest are likely uncomfortable to read:

    thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born
    The Didache


We find no contradiction with either scripture or Christian belief regarding abortion. Again, there may be some contradiction with personal interpretations or preferences. This is yet another example of why we wish the early church had included the Didache in the canon of scripture. Christian doctrine on abortion would have been firmly set and the early 20th century exceptions on contraception that led to today's abortion controversy would likely have never gained traction.

In closing. We are fond of the Didache as we are of all of God's word. Its easy to to see why the Didache was widely copied and circulated among NT churches and was considered for inclusion in the modern canon of scripture. Does the Didache contradict Christian belief? We don't see it, but your personal interpretations of scripture and the doctrines taught to you by others may prove otherwise. Seek the truth.

Related Posts:
The Geek of Immersion Baptism
Protestants Joining Catholics in Confession Comeback
The Holiest of Nights


Source: The Didache or Teaching of the Apostles

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2 Comments:

Blogger Cheryl said...

I would agree it doesn't contradict scripture generally, but because it reflects the cultural and historical conditions of when it was written, it reflects the interpretations of scripture held by many believers from its time. I don't think this means we should accept it has God's word as revealed by the Holy Spirit, so I also agree it was correct for the early church fathers not to include it as part of the Bible.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Welcome, Cheryl!

>" it reflects the interpretations of scripture held by many believers from its time."

Bearing in mind that the Didache was likely written before most of the New Testament including several gospels, the only "interpretations of scripture" would have been regarding the Old Testament, including the Apochrypha found in the Greek Septuagint.

>"I don't think this means we should accept it has God's word as revealed by the Holy Spirit"

Does the Didache contain truth? All truth is from and of God and leads us closer to God.

The Didache has the same authority as your ministers sermon or a best selling book in a Christian bookstore. Personally, we accord it a bit more authority as the Didache dates from the 1st Century and is closer to the Apostles than anything modern.

God bless... +Timothy

11:10 AM  

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