Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Aaronic Error is Alive and Well

(Please note that when I write "Aaronic Error" I am not referring to any error of Joseph Smith.)

One of the stories from Exodus came to mind as I thought about the "atomic heresy" mentioned by Bishop Selwyn back in 1854 (see previous post). The tale of Aaron giving into the Hebrews desire for gods and the creation of the golden calf is in some respects an example of the deterioration of an ordered system into a disordered one.
"For they said to me, ‘Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’  And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.”  (Exodus 32:23-24)  
People have attempted to justify Aaron's actions by saying that he was buying time for Moses' return, or that he was frightened into casting the golden calf, but these have always sounded like poor excuses for someone who was left in charge and who would become the High Priest of the people.

So what was Aaron's error? Should he have stood firm and repeated the commandments?
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,  but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:2-6)
Should he have engaged the people in a facilitated conversation about the usefulness of idols in some individual's spiritual development?

Should he have asked to Indaba about it?

I think you can see where I am going with this.

Our modern priestly class in the Episcopal church may be following in the path of Aaron. When they approve of one innovation after another (gender neutral language, removing references to the devil from baptisms (CofE), open communion, same sex blessings), they are following the lead of culture (the people). When they are awed by the results (the election of Gene Robinson = the calf walking out of the fire), and when they bluster and blather and cast blame far and wide (it is all those fundamentalists fault, so sue them) when they are caught defying the commands of God, they show themselves to have fallen into the Aaronic error.  

Can our modern Aarons look forward to the reward of Aaron?

Perhaps, but only if they repent.


  1. The Israelites were acting as if Moses would not return. TEC is acting like Jesus is not going to return. Idolatry is still the issue.