NATHANIEL KAPNER: WATCHMAN ON THE WALL
By Rev. Ted Pike
10 Apr 11
We live in a time when leaders of the political/religious right
all too often neither sound warning of danger nor thank those who
reprove them for their failure. Last week, Brother Nathaniel Kapner
was faithful to his conscience and truth as he understands it and publicly
reproved me for my recent "Book of Esther" article.
After 40 years of consideration, I finally published an article charging
that the book of Esther is humanistic and Jew-glorifying and should
not be included in Scripture. (See, The
Pseudo-Biblical Book of Esther -- Mainspring of Zionism) Kapner publicly reproved me, saying that
to deny Esther is to cut out part of inspired Scripture - an act of
heresy leading to perdition. (See Kapner's article, Truly
Understanding the Book of Esther) Kapner, a Russian Orthodox monk,
believes that acceptance of Esther by the greatest and earliest authorities
of the Russian Orthodox tradition legitimizes the book as part of the
In contrast, I place no confidence in either Christian councils or
theologians—much less Jewish “authorities” in an
obscure period of history about which little is known, except that
it preceded the emergence of the Pharisees, whom Christ so bitterly
excoriated. Am I to trust 120 possibly proto-Pharisaic rabbis, “the
great synagogue,” who the Talmud says wrote the book of Esther?
I have observed over a lifetime that high clergy, far from being
truly spiritual, are usually just as political in their own way as
their secular counterparts. They are often less able to hear the still
small voice of God than are humble listeners in their congregation.
Therefore, I believe that church fathers and their decrees and councils
cannot define what constitutes Holy Scripture. Instead, I am
convinced that only the conscience of the deeply sincere believer,
testing whether any alleged Scripture resonates with the witness of
the Holy Spirit, is able to fulfill that role. “But when He,
the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.” (John
anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you have
no need for anyone to teach you…but His anointing teaches you
about all things.” (1 John 2:27)
When a book as blatantly humanistic as Esther fails this test within
my conscience, it is my duty to warn of heresy as boldly as I can!
Thus, Kapner’s warning of my alleged
heresy and my warning
of the heresy in Esther are both manifestations of the same Christian
love and concern—and
duty to sound a warning. Our theological and epistemological premises
differ. Yet we both strive to be faithful to speak according to truth.
It is refreshing to know that America and the world have in Kapner
a watchman who will courageously warn even a friend when he perceives
danger. Here is the note I sent to Kapner: “Thank you for speaking
out boldly for truth as you understand it. Keep it up!”
Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative
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