Barabbas Doctrines

David Smitherman
Victoria, Texas

Most people are familiar with the man whose name titles this article. It was evidently customary to have a prisoner of the peoples' choice released at the Passover (Mk. 15:6; Jo. 18:39). On this particular occasion, the people were given a choice: Barabbas or Christ. With one voice the mob cried "Not this man (Christ), but Barabbas." What a terrible choice! We shudder today when we think of men wanting Barabbas instead of Christ. This choice is even more astounding when we look at the characteristics of the two men. Peter gives us an excellent description of our Lord in I Pet. 2:22-25. Notice, on the other hand, the character of Barabbas: (1) He was a murderer (Mk. 15:7). (2) He was a robber (Jno. 18:40). (3) He was an insurrectionist (one who rises up against authority, rebellious), (Mk. 15:7). (4) He was a notable prisoner (Matt. 27:16).

People today are making the same choice that the Jews made over 1900 years ago. Today the choice is between the teachings and doctrines of Christ and "Barabbas doctrines" -doctrines with the same characteristics as the man the Jews chose over Christ. By this choice men are saying "Not this man, but Barabbas". Let us look at a few "Barabbas doctrines".

(1) The theory of evolution - This theory is very notable, being taught in most of our educational institutions, both secular and religious. This theory, if believed, will rob a man of all belief in a Supreme Being, of all appreciation for the wonders and beauty of this earth and our universe and of all self-respect when he realizes that he "evolved" from "primeval ooze" or some low form of animal life. It murders his desire to learn of, serve and worship the God of Heaven and earth. It certainly is a rebellious doctrine for it directly contradicts the one and only infallible authority we have, the Bible.

(2) The "new morality" - This is unquestionably notable and popular. It is also a robber -robbing man of all decency, self-respect, respect for others and of a standard by which to govern his life. One's standard is himself and what he thinks is right under various situations. He himself will live like an animal and will in turn treat others the same. The "new morality" doctrine will murder if it is believed and practiced. It will murder all desire to live a pure, righteous and holy life. It not only is a doctrine in rebellion to the laws of God in the Bible but it is rebellious to those things which "even nature itself teacheth" us to be wrong.

(3) "We don't have to have authority for all that we do" - Who doubts the notoriety of this doctrine among our brethren? It sounded good and caught on fast a few years ago. It was a popular "argument," used to "prove" just about anything brethren wanted to prove. A rebellious doctrine? Look at Col. 3:17; 1 Pet 4: 11; 1 Cor. 4:6. What has it robbed brethren of? It has robbed them of any kind of standard by which to determine the righteousness or wrongness, scripturalness or unscripturalness of a thing. How can the older brethren who used this doctrine to "justify" their institutions condemn with any consistency the "tongue speaking", movement among the younger generation? Years ago when these young men were sitting at the feet of the older brethren, they were told you did not have to have authority for all you did. These younger men believed it and began to apply it. They can "justify" their tongue speaking on the same grounds their elders justified their institutions: "You needed no authority for what you did - we need none for what we do."

How shameful that men today (both Christians and non-Christians) will choose a "Barabbas doctrine" over the teachings of Christ and repeat the shameful scene and awful chant of long ago: "Not this man, but Barabbas." "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (I Tim. 4:16).

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 48, pp. 9-10
October 14, 1971