Karaites are a new topic of study for me. Some friends seem to use “Karaite” and “biblical” as interchangeable adjectives; they’re not.
I’d appreciate any notes about helpful resources as I try to study this issue in depth. Here are some of my heart’s objections that I would like to examine:
1. Karaite Korner suggests that their main doctrine is that the application of every scripture is a matter of private interpretation.
This reminds me of how each person “did what was right in his own eyes” whenever the community had no righteous judge. It was a bad situation. What would have been the purpose of Moses–and later those he delegated–settling and explaining disputes if we could all just make everything up as we went along? The private interpretation idea is not biblical; Karaite does not equal “biblical.”
2. Kariate Korner explicitly states that Karaites are not believers in Jesus as messiah or son of God.
We are warned in 2 Peter 2 that “false teachers among you will bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them.” If a doctrine denies the messiah, it’s not biblical.
3. Karaites are anti-Rabbinic tradition, but Jesus is a rabbi.
This is what makes Karaites so attractive to my friends, I think. The idea is that they are also anti-rabbinic tradition, rejecting the Babylonian Talmud and whatever else, so because Karaites also do that, they align themselves with the Karaites against the rabbis of, I guess, modern Orthodox Judaism.
First, many denominations are anti-rabbinic. For example, Catholicism is equally uninterested in rabbinic authority. Shall we then align ourselves with Catholic doctrine or call ourselves Catholics because both they and we agree in one point? Of course not; that’s absurd. Being against rabbinic tradition does not make an entire theology biblical.
Second, Karaites, from what I was finding in scholarly articles in the wee hours of the morn, reject the Babylonian Talmud but draw heavily on Islamic tradition and interpretive methods, so instead of Babylon you get Baghdad. Coming from a city other than Babylon does not make the teaching biblical.
Third, Jesus is a rabbi! If Karaites are anti-rabbinic tradition, how can a disciple of Jesus Christ, our master, our rabbi, possibly call himself a Karaite? This makes Karaites anti-biblical in rejecting the whole premise of Jesus’ great commission: going to the nations to make disciples.
It also makes them anti-biblical in rejecting the Tanach examples of such relationships in the prophets and sons of prophets. What did Elisha have to learn from Elijah if Karaite doctrine is true? Elisha should have gone his own direction and done his own thing rather than live under the authority of Elijah if Karaite doctrine is true; but it’s not because Karaite does not equal “biblical.”
4. The Karaite Calendar debacle… I recently watched Michael Rood’s _Creator’s Calendar” DVD. It is long. There is no evidence given in the DVD for adopting the calendar he publishes. Rood tells his testimony, talks about meeting Nehemiah Gordon, and then ends by relating his encounter with Freemasons, which he offers as evidence of divine confirmation that he is correct in his mysterious calculations that he never bothers to explain.
I’m not saying he’s right or wrong. He didn’t present anything that would allow a person to make an informed judgment in that DVD (perhaps it is elsewhere?), but I am certainly not going to follow the Rood-Gordon calendar just because they stick the adjective “biblical” in front of the word “calendar.” That’s not enough for me; I’m sorry.
And the premise of these two men studying the definition of “aviv” and then prescribing to the community of faith what should be done is anti-Karaite, anyway. There is no room for teachers studying traditional and historical documents to promote their views as binding on the Karaite community. To be consistent, the Kariate would have to find his or her own definition of “aviv” barley and work up his or her own calendar. It’s not a community-based theology, which makes it, as far as I can tell, far from biblical.