Friday, May 25, 2007

Misguided Church Leadership
(A rejoinder to Candace Watters' article Misguided Compassion)

I saw Candace Watters' article Misguided Compassion when it came out, and really didn't think it was necessary to comment on it. However, as I have been thinking through the issues associated with the Mandatory Marriage Movement because I have been writing a book on the topic, and have come to the conclusion that the article was sloppy.

Watters' major point in the article starts with an invitation to an event that was sent to several churches in the area. One of the churches rejected the invitation to the event. Here is the invitation and the relevant section of Candace's article:

Dear Local Church,

I, and a group of single friends, am planning a citywide Christian singles mixer. We'd like your help passing the word on. You probably know some singles who may be interested in meeting other local Christian singles.

So began a request made by one of my friends to some large churches in her city. An opportunity for fellow single believers to meet one another in a classy setting with married chaperones (according to the event's website). So far, so good. When I first heard about the event, I remembered how hard it was to meet like-minded believers when I was single and thought how much I would have appreciated this.

Her request continued,

This mixer is an event designed for Christian singles ... to meet and possibly develop relationships with intent to marry.... This is a great opportunity to meet other Christian singles in our area and why not make the most of every opportunity?

Although most of the churches agreed to at least let their singles group members know about the event, one church declined even that.
A member of that group's leadership team replied:

"[We have] been very deliberate in making our group not a hook up time and finding joy and fulfillment in our singleness, so we would not be comfortable endorsing an event advertising as a place to 'meet and possibly develop relationships with intent to marry.' Thank you for thinking of us and wanting to include us. We would be interested in possibly networking with other singles ministries in the area though, so keep us in mind for that."

That is like a slap in the face to any marriage mandator, and Watters is no different. Of course, I have rarely found a mandatory marriage advocate yet who can accurately articulate the traditional position on contentment in singleness. Watters erects the same fatalistic strawman we have heard again and again:

A quick look at the messages coming out of most singles groups, Christian books for singles and singles websites and blogs reveals a common theme:

"If God wants you married," they reason, "He'll make it happen. If you try to make it happen, you'll risk upsetting God's will for your life. Be the best single you can be and leave the rest to Him."

Later on, she also says:

Thinking it's the compassionate thing to do, people will tell their single friends, "Marriage can't meet all your needs, only God can" or "Don't be so anxious about pursuing marriage, it will happen if it's God's will" and "Just be content in your singleness, enjoy this prime time of your life."

Of course, with one exception, these are not the "messages coming out of most singles groups, Christian books for singles and singles websites and blogs." The message that is being presented there is "If you are interested in a girl, go ahead and pursue her. However, you also need to recognize that God has ordained that you will pursue her, and whether or not you will fail, and if he has ordained that you are not to have her, then you must be the best single you can be, and leave the rest up to him." Of course, most of these folks don't want to deal with that viewpoint. That would involve dealing with ends as well as means, and having to address how they can believe that God is soverign, and yet there are these creatures that have autonomious free will, contra Ephesians 1:11.

Not only that, she says that she thinks there is something wrong with the statement, "marriage can't meet all your needs, only God can." What is the problem with that statement? Can marriage meet your need for oxygen? Can marriage meet your need for the grace of God? Even in the essentials of life, marriage cannot meet needs such as food, clothing, and water. There are many poor married people out there who have problems affording such things.

On the other hand, the idea that God can meet all of your needs is purly Biblical. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus uses a simple argument that, God watches over the birds of the air, and the flowers of the field, and gives them what they need for food. Therefore, how much more important are we to him than these!

BTW, many marriage mandators have tried to read the idea of covenant child rearing into the phrase "seek first the kingdom of God" [v.33]. That is a total misuse of the text. Whenever Jesus uses the phrase "kingdom of God," he is not referring to something external, such as procreation, but something internal, that is, the internal workings of the heart. A.T. Robertson comments on this phrase by saying:

Mat 6:33 - First his kingdom (prôton tên basileian). This in answer to those who see in the Sermon on the Mount only ethical comments. Jesus in the Beatitudes drew the picture of the man with the new heart. Here he places the Kingdom of God and his righteousness before temporal blessings (food and clothing). [Word Pictures of the New Testament].

This fits with how Jesus uses the phrase "Kingdom of God" elsewhere. After the rich young ruler leaves, Jesus says that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God [Matthew 19:24]. He tells the young man who says that we need to love God and our neighbor, and that these are better than burnt offerings and sacrifices, that he is not far away from the kingdom of God [Mark 12:34]. In Luke 9:60, Jesus speaks of someone who is to proclaim the kingdom of God to let the dead bury their own dead. Indeed, in John 3:3-5, Jesus talks about the "kingdom of God" in the context of that wonderful work of regeneration where man is cleansed from his sins, and born again. In each of these instances, Christ is referring to the internal state of the heart. This also fits with the general context of Matthew 6, as the whole sermon on the mount has been about ones internal heart, in relation to how one thinks and behaves. Hence, the view that the mandatory marriage movement has taken of this text to try to get around its clear teaching is totally without warrant.

Unfortunately, other than the gross strawman of our position, and the rejection of a Biblical comment, Watters does not address it any further.

Her biggest problem is that she thinks that the church is engaging in what she calls "misguided compassion." She explains:

It's natural to want to respond sympathetically to friends who are trying to serve God in their singleness while fielding intrusive questions like, "Why aren't you married yet?" Our natural reaction — after agreeing that yes, the person who asked that question is an idiot — is compassion. We want to encourage them in their circumstances. We want them to know they are loved and complete in God's eyes just as they are.

But these responses get compassion only partly right.

Compassion, as defined on Wikipedia, is a "sense of shared suffering, most often combined with a desire to alleviate or reduce such suffering." The entry continues, "Compassionate acts are generally considered those which take into account the suffering of others and attempt to alleviate that suffering as if it were one's own. In this sense, the various forms of the Golden Rule are clearly based on the concept of compassion."

It's not enough to feel sorry for someone. That's sympathy, not compassion. Compassion requires action. The classic example of the Good Samaritan shows that feeling bad about someone's plight isn't enough.

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, "Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back."

We don't know what the priest and the Levite who passed the beaten, robbed traveler on the other side of the road were thinking — they may have felt really sorry for him. All we have to go on, however, is their actions. And in the end, actions are what Jesus graded, telling his audience to "go and do likewise" [emphasis mine].

Anything less is worthless; mere words. James wrote, "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?"

This Biblical model of compassion — both thoughts and actions — motivates many singles who volunteer their time and talents to serve those in need, at a rate higher than any generation in recent memory. Yet when it comes to their need — 86 percent of singles say they would like to be married — those in a position to help them are conspicuously unhelpful.

Right away I think this is totally challangable. First, I would question whether or not it is true that the local church as an organization is in a position to help singles in their quest to find a spouse. Notice, that all of Watters' use of scripture is totally out of context. The good samaritan as well as James are both examples of actions done by individuals rather than actions done by organizations. Hence, right away we see problems.

The reason for this is that the Bible gives us the function of the church, state, and interpersonal relationships. We have to be careful about crossing functions just because we think that there needs to be compassion. For instance, the church is not able to exact the death penalty. The Church is not able to judge infractions upon civil law. Likewise, I think people would start complaining if marriages were arranged by the church from the time you were a child. Even other groups, such as the civil magistrates, have their place as well. For instance, would it not be wrong for the civil magistrate to forbid a church to receive someone as a member? I would also say, given Acts 2:45, that it is not even right to have state welfare, as this verse seems to give it to the church. And yet, is it not an act of compassion to carry out acts of justice on behalf of a wronged party? Is it not an act of compassion to want someone to have a good spouse [Watters would have to agree with this]? Is it not an act of compassion to want to take care of people by not allowing someone you deem as unacceptable to become a part of their community? Is it not an act of compassion to want to help the poor and needy? And yet, we see in each of these instances, major moral problems with organizations doing acts of compassion that God has not sanctioned them to do.

Therefore, what I am suggesting is that the church as an organization is not to be a matchmaker, because God has nowhere in the scriptures given that responsablity to the church. Hence, I would say that I agree with the group opting out of such an event.

While there are other problems that the church mentioned as well [such as people worrying about their singleness], I think this is an even bigger problem. I like what he said about "making our group not a hookup time." Indeed, the Bible never presents the church in that way. I have found that, when this happens, most groups end up making an idol out of marriage and the opposite sex.

Now, I am not saying that individuals within the church cannot, as a mentor, help an individual single people find a spouse, if both the single as well as the older married person agree to it. Indeed, Candace is right that, in individual social relations, we are to give a helping hand to people if they need it. However, it is a huge ethical mistake to make that apply to the church as an organization.

Now, do I think that people in today's churches do not value a single person's desire to marry enough to help them? Yes, I do. However, then the problem is that churches are not teaching people that singleness and marriage are equal gifts of God [1 Corinthians 7:7], and, therefore, the desire to marry should not be something that is discouraged. However, as I said above, we need to recognize that, even if we have help, God can, and still might say "no." If he does so, we need to trust him that, either he will make our pursuits successful in the future, or he will have a glorious way of using us in the single state.

Finally, in response to the idea that singles are "anxious" about not being married, I think the apostle Paul summed up what should be our reaction in this situation:

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Of course, the apostle Paul here says we are to be anxious for nothing...even being single. However, we are to simply, in faith, bring our requests before the throne of grace. Also it is interesting that, Candace quotes the survey, and then, in the next paragraph, moves on to say something the survey never said:

Yet when it comes to their need — 86 percent of singles say they would like to be married — those in a position to help them are conspicuously unhelpful.

Seeing the anxiety many singles express about not finding a spouse, parents, church leaders and friends often feel sympathetic.

The survey says that "86 percent of singles say they would like to be married." For some reason, Watters then thinks that that has some relation to "Seeing the anxiety many singles express..." That is a huge leap, and one not at all justified from the report. The report only talked about the fact that most singles would like to be married, not that most singles have some anxiety about not finding a spouse. Also, notice that Watters says marriage is a "need." Where is the justification for that? We are not told.

Candace writes:

What about that ill-served group of singles at the church whose leadership wouldn't even let them know about an event for meeting other believers — for the purpose of "possibly developing relationships with the intent to marry"? Thankfully they found out about it anyway and participated in greater proportion than any of the other churches represented.

I can almost bet that what happened was that that pastor simply didn't say anything about it. It appears that he understood that his church would be doing something unscriptural if they promoted something like that. Hence, I think he was right to remain silent.

However, not knowing much about the event, if the event was arranged by a church, then he should have gone one step further, and taught the singles in the group why it would be unscriptural, on the basis of ecclesiology and the sufficiency of the scriptures, for church organizations to organize things like that. If that were the case, I can almost guarantee that there would have been no singles from that church at this event because if they heard about it from others, they would have had a Biblical response.

However, if they just found out about it by word of mouth, and the movement was put on by individual Christians, then I don't see any contradiction with what the pastor wrote back and said. In fact, he could say everything he said in his note, and still be fine with the people in his singles group attending that event.

Now, how could we revise this situation to make it more Biblically acceptable? First of all, no churches should arrange or endorse such an event, period. If you want to have an event like this, then it needs to be arranged by individuals, and advertized through things like colleges, workplaces, and word of mouth.

Likewise, trusting in God's providence, we would not say that marriage is a "need," or make statements like "seeing the anxiety many singles express..." We would premptorally teach singles to pursue a girl in whom they are interested, but if he says "no" to their request, they need to trust in his providence.

Finally, while I don't think it is inherently wrong, I don't think it is a good idea to make that whole purpose of the event "to meet and possibly develop relationships with intent to marry." In essence, it is "too much too fast." I know it says "possibly," but the addition as an intention of the event is somewhat awkward for people who are just meeting. These things take time.

Therefore, in summary we can say the following things:

1. The Bible does not give the local church the ability to play matchmaker, and hence, churches should not sponser or endorse anything like this.

2. While local church organizations cannot help singles find a spouse, individuals can.

3. Singles need to rely on the providence of God in pursuit of a spouse as Jesus says in Matthew 6.

4. We can reconstruct events like this so we do not have the problems associated with the limitations in the function of the church.
Now This is Interesting

Here is an interesting story about a natural disaster that occured in 1986 in Nyos, Cameroon. Apparently, a man was riding his bicycle when he saw several cattle dead, and so he walked to the nearby village to find out what had happened. When he got there, to his shock and dismay, everyone was dead. He decided to run and get help.

Apparently, when all was said and done, 1746 people, 3000 cattle, and virtually every wild animal in the area was dead. The other weird thing is that there was a lake nearby that had an old folklegend attached to it. Apparently, the legend said that evil spirits once rose out of the lake, and killed everyone living near the lake.

What happened there? You will have to read the article to find out.
Excellent Article in the Westminster Theological Journal

Markus Zehnder has written a wonderful article in the spring 2007 edition of the Westminster Theological Journal. All of us who have ever dealt with the so called "gay Christian" movement have encountered the claim that David and Jonathan were having a sexual relationship. As I am reading this article, I am getting the impression that a whole lot of the stuff used to defend "gay Christianity" is very, very sloppy exegesis. Zehnder brilliantly demolishes this sloppy exegesis, and restores sanity to the story of David and Jonathan.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

More Fanmail from the Mandatory Marriage Movement

Check out this message that was posted to myself, Anakin, and others over on Anakin "Niceguy's Blog:

Most men on this blog are such whiny losers, it is STUNNING. Let's see, you have insulted Maken's race, marriage, husband, and everything else.

Since you have nothing to contribute to society you just bash someone who dares to challenge your crap.

How about getting a job and making a contribution to society. Grow some balls while you are at it. Clowns like you are better single.

Hello, anonymous. You said:

Most men on this blog are such whiny losers, it is STUNNING. Let's see, you have insulted Maken's race, marriage, husband, and everything else.

Ummm, I never insulted Maken's race. What I said was that she was interpreting the Bible through the lens of her Indian culture. That is not "insulting" her race. It is simply recognizing that she has cultural factors that are influencing her exegesis of the text of scripture.

I also have never said anything about Maken's marriage. That is totally irrelevant. And I likewise agree that we should refrain from making such comments.

Since you have nothing to contribute to society you just bash someone who dares to challenge your crap.

Lol, anon, anyone who has read Debbie Maken's book knows that it is *her* that cannot answer the objections levied against her, and it is her that resorts to "bashing," even to the point of thinking that she can know people's motives. Just read her dialogue with me, or her dialogue with Andreas Kostenburger.

As far as "not having jobs" and "not having anything to contribute to society," how do you know that? Do you know our personal lives? Have you ever met any of us? Or do you believe it just because Debbie Maken tells you so? If this is the case, then I would say you are relying on a discredited source.

How about getting a job and making a contribution to society. Grow some balls while you are at it. Clowns like you are better single.

Lol, who is the one who is "insulting" now? Apparently, we show utter hypocracy in not caring that you run off and do the very thing you accuse us of doing to Debbie Maken. Even if you were right that we are the worst people in the world, and have nothing to contribute to society, if we are right, we are right and there is nothing you or Debbie Maken can do about it. I find it so amazing that the mandatory marriage movement can engage in this kind of intimidating rhetoric just to cover up the fact that they have been Biblically refuted.

If you can't answer our objections, don't write anything at all. I am still waiting for someone to deal with the things that we have said. However, I have a feeling I will be waiting a long wait, and will spend most of my waiting time reading rhetoric like this.

BTW, anyone find it odd that the majority of people who write these kinds of messages are "anonymous?"

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Planned Parenthood Shows their True Colors

Boundlessline ran an article that is absolutely funny. Apparently, an 18 year old sophmore at UCLA named Rose suspected that Planned Parenthood was engaging in some illegal activity. Hence, she went undercover as a pregnant 15 year old, and told them that the father was 23.

What happened you may ask? Well, to quote the article "In the course of the conversation with a staff member, she was told to lie about her age so that there would be fewer roadblocks on her way to abortion bliss." LOL, I mean, I could not believe that this was coming out of their mouths. Apparently, she posted it on YouTube [which, convieniently, removed them], but you can still listen to the actual audio here and here.

As far as the morality of the situation, I don't think the Bible condemns Rose's actions as wrong, per se. I mean, I think that the Bible would want us to engage in such behavior, if necessary, to expose things like drug dealing, and mass murder. However, I think the question must be whether or not she had any evidence that such things were going on with PP. If you have evidence that these things were going on, then going undercover would be an appropriate, and moral way to handle the situation.

At least one lawmaker, a represenative from Ohio, said she was dismayed at the actions of PP. In fact, that very article says that PP still might not be out of the investigational woods, even if they win their lawsuit against Rose. I must say that this is an interesting looking into the minds of one of the most evil organizations in America.

Friday, May 18, 2007

More Fanmail from the Mandatory Marriage Movement
(and another comment)

I just wanted everyone to know that Debbie Maken's comments are really sturring up the Mandatory Marriage advocates. They are desperate to defend her comments. Let me give you an example of the rhetoric that is going on some of the blogs.

I made the following comments over on Anakin Niceguy's blog:

Also, sometime in the near future, I am going to send those comments to Albert Mohler. Dr. Mohler is always encouraging couples to get married, even though they may not be financially well off. I wonder what he will have to say in response?

Here is what an anonymous poster responded with:

PC, I don't know if you really are in idiot or you just play one on TV. I have not seen one comment from Maken saying you should only marry when you are rich. Her comments have to do with parity in all ways, education, financial, and spiritual.

Hello, Anon. Did it ever occur to you that it would be suicide to send the comments of Debbie Maken to Albert Mohler when I have misrepresented her? Obviously, such would be absurd, and your very postulating of such a senario shows that you have a ton of bias.

BTW, anon, read my comments that you yourself quoted. Does it look to you like I said Debbie Maken said that someone must be "rich?" No, I said that she said they must be financially "well off." Maken said that they must be able to take care of a family, which means that they have enough income to care for themselves as well as at least two extra people before they marry. If that is not financially well off, I don't know how you define the term.

Also, you refuse to deal with my earlier point that parity is not a biblical concept. That appears to be something Maken and her supporters are using to try to defend comments that are simply indefensible. Clothing indefensible comments under a euphomistic name does not make the comments any more defensible.

Here is another comment from the same blog that Debbie Maken commented on by a man with the nick "SWColorado:"

I once read a story about a judge back in the 1800’s who, when a woman was brought before him on the charge of prostitution, would levy a fine against every man in the courtroom.

So guys, in that same spirit, KNOCK IT OFF! Stop blaming the culture, the church, the singles groups and you for sure had better stop blaming the women. If your God is so small that He can’t provide you with a godly mate for reasons above – you’re pretty close to committing blasphemy in my book.

Hello, SWColorado. Our God is not too small. You see, our God is so big that he can say "no" to our request for a spouse any time he wants. He is under no obligation to give us a spouse no matter what we do.

Of course, it appears that your God, on the other hand, must give you a spouse if you just go about it the right way. It appears that you can twist the hand of God to make him do whatever you want him to do just by simply "Getting Serious about Getting Married." I agree that if a guy wants a girl he should pursue her, but God always reserves the right to say no at any time. That is why he is God, and you are not.

As for both of you, the tone of your comments speak for themselves. If this is the way you answer criticism, then I think it says a whole lot about the substance of the mandatory marriage movement. If the best you can offer is intimidation, then you should really be thinking about how strong the arguments for your position really are. If they were better, you would not have to resort to this kind of language.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

More on Maken's Absurdities About the Income of Men

Given Debbie Maken's comments which I addressed in my last post, I wanted to point out that there is a passage Debbie has used before in the past to try to get people to marry. It is from Martin Luther's The Estate of Marriage. Debbie Maken quoted from it trying to show that men who do not have much money are still to marry. I think in light of her comments that I cited in my last post, it would be good to cite Luther here, as he seems to be shouting to Debbie Maken from heaven:

Finally, we have before us one big, strong objection to answer. Yes, they say, it would be a fine thing to be married, but how will I support myself? I have nothing; take a wife and live on that, etc. Undoubtedly, this is the greatest obstacle to marriage; it is this above all which prevents and breaks up marriage and is the chief excuse for fornication. What shall I say to this objection? It shows lack of faith and doubt of God's goodness and truth. It is therefore no wonder that where faith is lacking, nothing but fornication and all manner of misfortune follow. They are lacking in this, that they want to be sure first of their material resources, where they are to get their food, drink, and clothing [Matt. 6:31]. Yes, they want to pull their head out of the noose of Genesis 3 [:19], "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread." They want to be lazy, greedy rascals who do not need to work. Therefore, they will get married only if they can get wives who are rich, beautiful, pious, kind, indeed, wait, we'll have a picture of them drawn for you.

Let such heathen go their way; we will not argue with them. If they should be lucky enough to obtain such wives the marriages would still be un-Christian and without faith. They trust in God as long as they know that they do not need him, and that they are well supplied. He who would enter into wedlock as a Christian must not be ashamed of being poor and despised, and doing insignificant work. He should take satisfaction in this: first, that his status and occupation are pleasing to God; second, that God will most certainly provide for him if only he does his job to the best of his ability, and that, if he cannot be a squire or a prince, he is a manservant or a maidservant.

Indeed, God has shown sufficiently in the first chapter of Genesis how he provides for us. He first created and prepared all things in heaven and on earth, together with the beasts and all growing things, before he created man. Thereby he demonstrated how he has laid up for us at all times a sufficient store of food and clothing, even before we ask him for it. All we need to do is to work and avoid idleness; then we shall certainly be fed and clothed. But a pitiful unbelief refuses to admit this. The unbeliever sees, comprehends, and feels all the same that even if he worries himself to death over it, he can neither produce nor maintain a single grain of wheat in the field. He knows too that even though all his storehouses were full to overflowing, he could not make use of a single morsel or thread unless God sustains him in life and health and preserves to him his possessions. Yet this has no effect upon him.

Also, I want people to notice something else about this comment. Notice how, again, Debbie Maken engages in a false analogy. Debbie Maken is good at coming up with analogies that have nothing to do with the situation hand, and then acting as if they do:

When people interview for certain jobs, guess what-- there have to be certain kinds of qualifications in place-- no hospital would hire a doctor who never attended medical school. Why is it that the qualification of earning potenial is always villified? It is one of the elements of consideration for any woman serious about marriage, and no apologies need be had about it. Again, this is a place where parity plays a great deal, and I think that those who have made choices that afford them more monetary rewards should be able to ask for the same in the other partner, as well as asking for the same amount of intellectual development, or parity in looks, etc.

Notice, the whole analogy she uses is a situation where, indeed, a specific qualification should be looked at. However, Debbie Maken totally begs the question as to whether or not this is relevant to whether men should have a specific income when a woman is considering them for marriage. If it is, indeed, a legitimate requirement for marriage, then it is a proper analogy. However, if it is not a legitimate requirement for marriage, then it is a false analogy. In essence, unless Debbie Maken can show that it is a requirement, she has reasoned in a circle.

Let me construct a parody of this argument:

Here I go on the record. Men wanting or desiring Women who were entered in the Miss America pageant, and got honors at Harvard is not a reflection of their lack of trust in God or the fulfillment of their sexual lusts through marriage. It has to do with simple economics of-- will she be able to satisfy me sexually, and monitarily. This sentiment does not deserve an apology. It is amazing to me that Women in this culture are voluntarily voluntarily careless about their looks, and think in an emotional manner that has consequences, and yet they think that their choices should be consequence free from the men that may find them interesting or mate worthy. Lack of beauty and lack of intellegence in women is routinely covered up in spirituality, and I do not think any man should ever have to plead disinterest in the physical appearance or intellegence of a woman in order to prove they are "nice," or "not mean." When people interview for certain jobs, guess what-- there have to be certain kinds of qualifications in place-- no hospital would hire a doctor who never attended medical school. Why is it that the qualification of physical beauty, and intellegence is always villified? It is one of the elements of consideration for any man serious about marriage, and no apologies need be had about it. Again, this is a place where parity plays a great deal, and I think that those who have made choices that afford them better physical appearance and intellegence should be able to ask for the same in the other partner, as well as asking for the same amount of income, and willingness to do whatever the man says, etc.

As you can see, with a parody like this, there is no way Debbie Maken's arguments are rational, because I can use the same thing to prove that it is alright for me to have a single-minded desire to marry a woman from the Miss America Pageant who also graduated from Harvard. She has simply written a false analogy, and hidden it behind the irrational emotionalism of the mandatory marriage movement. She is under obligation to prove that a man must have a satisfactory income from the Bible, or otherwise, her whole argument is nothing more than emotional gobblygoock.

Hence, I maintain, and continue to maintain, that this movement is pure idolatry. Notice, we trust in the man's income rather than trusting in God. What they are saying is, "We are putting our salvation from debt, sexual sin, and lonliness in the hands of ourselves and our husband, and, we will do nothing more than attack the motives, and engage in namecalling to anyone who dares to disagree." That should tell you that this movement should be written off as purely juvinile, and not serious in their pursuit of truth.
Don't Marry that Man of Faith!

Today, I was thinking about a man I once heard of by the name of George Müller. I heard a very interesting story about him. His wife and him never looked to any needs. They trusted in God to fully provide for their needs as they came. While he had a job, and worked, when all of the fees were taken away, he was only left with about $1,800.00 a year to run an orphanage. Needless to say, they were always very, very poor. But, everytime they would need money, they would always get it, as they trusted in God fully to provide for their needs. One morning, apparently they had run out of food for the orphans. So, they set the table, and prayed that God would bring them some food. There was a knock at the door after the prayer, and there stood the baker, who had, only last night, thought the children might want some fresh bread in the morning. Then, the milkman stopped up, and told them that his milk carriage had broken down outside, and that, by the time it was repaired, all the milk would spoil. He had to have it used up. So, as you can imagine, he told them that the orphanage could use it as they had no milk to go with their bread.

Now, that is a pretty impressive story. I went online to find out if it was true, and found out that George Müller really did, indeed, exist. I found that he was a pagan early in his life, but converted around the age of twenty. Here are some interesting facts [including, a better telling of the story than myself]:

Three weeks after their marriage, they decided to depend upon God alone to provide their needs as already indicated. They carried it to the extent that they would not give definite answers to inquiries as to whether or not they were in need of money at any particular moment. At the time of need, there would always seem to be funds available from some source, both in regards to their private income, and to the funds for his vast projects soon to be discussed. No matter how pressing was the need, George simply renewed his prayers, and either money or food always came in time to save the situation. On February 19, 1832, he records an instance of healing by faith. Suffering from a gastric ulcer, he believed God could heal him and four days later he was as well as ever. In the spring of 1832, he felt he must leave Teignmouth. Craik, his friend, had gone on to Bristol for a visit, and Mueller felt led to go there also. On April 22, he preached his first sermon in Bristol. A friend offered to rent Bethesda Chapel there for a year if the two men would stay and develop a work. Agreeing not to be bound by any stipulation, Craik and Mueller accepted the call. On May 25, 1832, the Muellers settled permanently in Bristol which became his home until he died. A long association with the chapel on Great George Street also began. In July of that year, Bristol was visited with a plague of cholera which took many lives, but none of those among whom he and Craik ministered. On September 17, 1832, his first child, Lydia, was born.
It was on February 25, 1834, that George Mueller founded a new Missionary Institution which he called "The Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad." It had four objectives:
1. To assist Sunday Schools, Day Schools and Adult Schools, and where possible to start new ones. 2. To sell Bibles and Testaments to the poor at low prices, and if necessary, to give them free of cost. 3. To aid missionary effort. (This was to provide financial aid to freelance missionaries.) 4. To circulate tracts in English and in various foreign languages.
The Orphan House became a fifth objective, and the most well known enterprise, yet it is right to point out that Mueller was greatly used in developing the other objectives as well.
On March 19, 1834, a son, Elijah, was born but he died the next year, June 25, 1835, from pneumonia, leaving the Muellers with only one child--Lydia. The summer of 1835 found Mueller himself in very poor health, slowing down his pace and giving him time to write "The Narrative of the Lord's Dealing with George Mueller."
For some time he had been thinking about starting an orphanage in Bristol. On December 9, 1835 he presented his burden at a public meeting. No collection was taken, but someone handed him ten shillings and a Christian woman offered herself for the work. After five days of prayer $300 came in and it seemed they might now have enough money to rent a house, equip and furnish it. The other request was for Christian people to work with the children. His basic aim was to have a work - something to point to as visible proof that God hears and answers prayer. His heart went out to the many ragged children running wild in the streets, but that was a secondary reason for starting the orphanage.
He rented Number 6 Wilson Street, where he himself had been living, and on April 11, 1836, the doors of the orphanage opened with 26 children. These were girls between seven and twelve years old.
The second House was opened on November 28, 1836, to care for children from babyhood to seven years of age. In September, 1837, a third house was opened for boys over seven years of age.
Illness plagued Mueller from time to time, and in late 1837 he was very weak. This time his head provided the discomfort. He went to Germany in the spring of 1838 as well as in February, 1840, when he saw his father for a last time. Presumably he still had not accepted Christ as George noted, "How it would have cheered the separation on both sides were my dear father a believer." He died shortly thereafter. The years 1828 to 1843 were surely years of trials for Craik and Mueller as they prayed in everything. All were properly clad and everyone sat down to regular meals in the Houses. Mueller never incurred a debt, and God supernaturally provided for everyone. A well known story indicates the kind of life that was lived:
One morning the plates and cups and bowls on the table were empty. There was no food in the larder, and no money to buy food. The children were standing waiting for their morning meal, when Mueller said, "Children, you know we must be in time for school." Lifting his hand he said, "Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat." There was a knock on the door. The baker stood there, and said, "Mr. Mueller, I couldn't sleep last night. Somehow I felt you didn't have bread for breakfast and the Lord wanted me to send you some. So I got up at 2 a.m. and baked some fresh bread, and have brought it." Mueller thanked the man. No sooner had this transpired when there was a second knock at the door. It was the milkman. He announced that his milk cart had broken down right in front of the Orphanage, and he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it. No wonder, years later, when Mueller was to travel the world as an evangelist, he would be heralded as "the man who gets things from God!"
By March, 1843, he felt the need for a second home for girls. On July, 1844, the fourth house on Wilson Street was opened--the total of his homeless waifs now being 130. A letter received on October 30, 1845, changed his entire ministry... he was now age 40. Basically, it was a letter from a local resident complaining that the noise of the children was a nuisance. They were vastly over-crowded and there was not enough space for land cultivation, washing clothes, etc. He gave the letter much thought, listing the pros and cons. If he were to leave, he would have to build a structure to hold at least 300 orphans at a cost of $60,000. On his 36th day of prayer over the dilemma, the first $6,000 came in for a building program. By June, 1848, he received all of the $60,000 which he needed. He had begun to build the previous year on July 5, 1847, at a placed called Ashley Downs as the bulk of the money had been sent in. Building Number 1 was opened in June, 1849, and housed 300 children with staff sufficient to teach and care for them. It was a seven-acre site and finally cost about $90,000 as legal expenses, furnishings, and land purchase brought the price up higher than anticipated. The old houses on Wilson Street emptied and everyone was now under one roof.
Mueller was becoming a well known Christian leader. He answered some 3,000 letters a year without a secretary. Besides his orphanages, the four other objectives of his Scriptural Knowledge Institution claimed his attention and he continued his pastoral work at Bethesda Chapel also.
In 1850, he felt the need for a second orphanage. Donations began to come in miraculously again and finally, on November 12, 1857, a second building housing 400 children at a cost of $126,000 was built. Number 3 opened on March 12, 1862, housing 450 children, and costing over $138,000. It was housed on 11 1/2 acres. Number 4 was opened November 5, 1868, and Number 5 on January 6, 1870. These last two cost over $300,000 and housed 450 each.
From 1848 to 1874, money came in to improve and expand the work which went from 130 orphans to 2,050 during this time and up to 13 acres. Mueller describes these days, writing in 1874:
But God, our infinite rich Treasurer, remains with us. It is this which gives me peace. Moreover if it pleases Him, with a work requiring about $264,000 a year...would I gladly pass through all these trials of faith with regard to means, if He only might be glorified, and His Church and the world benefited...I have placed myself in the position of having no means at all left; and 2,100 persons, not only daily at the table, but with everything else to be provided for, and all the funds gone; 189 missionaries to be assisted, and nothing whatever left; about one hundred schools with 9,000 scholars in them, to be entirely supported, and no means for them in hand; about four million tracts and tens of thousands of copies of the Holy Scriptures yearly now to be sent out, and all the money expended...I commit the whole work to Him, and He will provide me with what I need, in future also, though I know not whence the means are to come.
His own personal income varied around $12,000 a year, of which he kept for himself $1,800 giving the rest away.
His fellow worker, Henry Craik, died on January 22, 1866, followed by the death of his wife on February 6, 1870. She was 72 and had suffered from rheumatic fever. James Wright married Mueller's daughter, Lydia in 1871 and also replaced Craik as his associate. Mueller himself remarried on November 30, 1871, to a Susannah Grace Sangar, whom he had known for 25 years as a consistent Christian. He was 66 and she in her late forties, a perfect companion for him in his ministries still ahead.

Mueller decided to fulfill the many requests for his appearance around the world. Turning the work over to Wright, from 1875 to 1892, Mueller made 16 preaching trips to various sectors of the world...

It was on January 13, 1894 that his second wife passed away after 23 years of marriage. He was now 89 years old, and was living out his days in Orphan House #3. He preached his last sermon on Isaiah's Vision, March 6, 1898 at Alma Road Chapel in Clifton. On March 10, 1898 the maid went to his room, and found him dead on the floor by the side of his bed. The funeral in Bristol on March 14th has never been surpassed there as tens of thousands lined the streets. The grief of the orphans was evident. He was buried by the side of his two wives...

Over 3,000 of his orphans were won to Christ through his ministry by the Holy Spirit.

As most of you remember [yes, this does have a connection], I commented on a blog entry yesterday about a woman who wants to have a rally basically because she did not get her own way in the dating scene. She is now giving more details, and what we are finding out is that her post was as vague as her "pseudo-relationship." Anyway, Debbie Maken has taken the time to comment on the post. I want you to contrast Debbie Maken's comments with the life and attitude of George Müller:

Here I go on the record. Women wanting or desiring men who earn well is not a reflection of their lack of trust in God or their pecuniary interest in money through marriage. It has to do with simple economics of-- will he be able to provide for a family. This sentiment does not deserve an apology. It is amazing to me that men in this culture voluntarily choose jobs and professions that are dead-ends, they make educational decisions all along the way that have consequences, and yet they think that their choices should be consequence free from the women that may find them interesting or mate worthy. Lack of ambition and lack of development of talents in men is routinely covered up in spirituality, and I do not think any woman should ever have to plead disinterest in future earnings of a man in order to prove they are "nice," or "not mean." When people interview for certain jobs, guess what-- there have to be certain kinds of qualifications in place-- no hospital would hire a doctor who never attended medical school. Why is it that the qualification of earning potenial is always villified? It is one of the elements of consideration for any woman serious about marriage, and no apologies need be had about it. Again, this is a place where parity plays a great deal, and I think that those who have made choices that afford them more monetary rewards should be able to ask for the same in the other partner, as well as asking for the same amount of intellectual development, or parity in looks, etc.

I do want you to start that revolution, and I have some ideas. Please email me through my blog--, and give me your email, so that we can communicate.

Well, first of all, if you are going to start a revolution, you might want to get arguments that are rationally defensable, rather than just this irrational emotionalism.

Worse than that, did you catch what she said here? The man who a woman women marries must be able to take care of a family monetarily beforehand. Well, apparently, Debbie Maken would have to say that her daughter could not marry the Reverend George Müller. While Müller did, indeed, work hard to take care of his family, he did not make enough income to even support his work at the orphanage, much less a family and children.

I just would like to point out that, in the end, history has remembered the Reverend George Müller. In fact, the website from which this was taken, is entitled "Faith Hall of Fame." He is someone who was recognized on a PCA website. There are many Christians today who have not even heard of Debbie Maken. Therefore, for Debbie Maken to make these kinds of comments in light of a great man of faith such as George Müller is simply incredible.

BTW, just so you know, George Müller lived in the ninteenth century, so, he could not be effected by any "modern cultural thinking on marriage."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

When Emotions Get out of Control

As many of you know, I read the blog over at While I disagree with their position on many issues, they have several very useful articles, and I would, indeed, recommend that my readers read the blog, as it has some useful information on things on which I can agree with Boundless, and, if you agree with my position on Courtship and the Mandatory Marriage Movement, you can see how the polemics of each system are developing.

Yesterday, Motte Brown, one of the contributors, posted an article wherin he linked to this blog entry. My first reaction to the article was, as usual, one of adrenaline pumping. I mean, there is really nothing but nasty anti-male comments in the article, hasty generalizations, and totally irrational thinking. Here is a sample of the tone of the blog post:

Guys, I’m mad at you. And I don’t like being mad. I’m not a bitter, angry single girl. I’m a fun person. And I realize that women have their share of dysfunction, too. Someone else can blog on that at his or her leisure.

But I’ve had it. I’m fed up with guys who are supposedly looking for a relationship that leads to marriage, but they don’t know how to get the job done. I'm more and more convinced that an untold number of Christian men are in this camp.

Ummm, Ok, so, where is the providence of God in all of this? Well, she has an answer to that question.

Many of the men with whom I’ve spoken – and there’s been a legion – still operate within the “God will provide/I’ll just have a feeling/the Lord will point her out to me” framework. In the meantime, they’re getting older, odder and more removed from reality with each mouse click, movie night or 80s party. But they’re still there…ready for the next serial online relationship or opportunity to “hang out” indefinitely with whomever is available.

So, now we have a mockery of the providence of God. Let us set the record straight. No guy thinks that God is just going to "give them a feeling," or that "the Lord will point her out to me." We recognize that God is the one who is soverign over all creation and ordains whatsoever comes to pass [Ephesians 1:11]. While we believe we should, indeed, pursue a spouse and marriage if we so desire, we recognize that it is God who ultimately determines whether or not that pursuit will be successful, and when it will be successful. As King Nebuchadnezzar said:

Daniel 4:35 "All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?'

Doesn't sound very much like it is all up to the man as to whether or not marriage will happen. It sounds like God's providence plays a part in everything that happens in the world.

What this woman is really upset with is because marriage was not coming according to her timetable. Note this portion of her article:

When will it become so? When we're neighbors in the nursing home? When we're established in the New Jerusalem? Face it: we’re enabling them. We're living in a perpetual church youth group, and no one is going off to college.

One of my best friends has been talking to a guy on eHarmony for three months. You heard right – three months. And yes…they are still on eHarmony. She offered to give him her phone number, but he ignored her suggestion. Yet she likes him, she’s invested in him, so she’s allowing this to continue. She maintains her subscription to stay in touch with him! I understand completely. I’ve been there. But basically, she is paying to email this guy. Does anyone else have a problem with this? She deserves so much better! She and I have been talking recently about the courage it will take for her to call it quits. To put her foot down. It will be hard. As my sister says, “It shouldn’t have to come to this.” But it has.

In other words, guys and gals can just push God around, and demand marriage from him just by doing the right things, and going about it the right way. In other words, marriage is something that is totally in the hands of man, and it is up to man as to whether or not it will happen, and when it will happen. I mean, you can almost hear Pelagius speaking from the grave in this kind of a statement.

Secondly, I have a question for her friend. Instead of writing to this person on the E-mail at E-Harmony, why doesn't she give him her private E-mail address so that they do not have to keep subscribing? That would be a whole lot easier then having to pay money every month to keep this stuff up.

Also, why doesn't the author have a problem with her not doing what I have suggested? You would think that, if the woman could avoid doing this, she would. However, here is a clear way she could easily avoid having to e-mail like this, and she doesn't do it. Why does she have no problem with that?

While she states that women may have something to do with this, it is only mentioned in passing, and only as a way of saying that her post is not entirely anti-male. However, the author does not mention any of these problems, and therefore, her assertion that women have some blame is just that...mere assertion. When someone says that someone has something to blame, but only mentions it in passing, you have to wonder just how serious they are about the claim.

This, however, is not the worst part of her post. Here is, by far, the nastiest part of her entire post:

Ladies, in case you still don’t get it, these "relationships" are going N-O-W-H-E-R-E, and we need to realize this sooner. Maybe it’s time to organize the Million Single Woman March. Let’s start making the signs now. We need to stop the madness! Women, unite! And guys, if you're not "in it to win it," get off the dating sites. Get out of the mixers. Stop messing around. Those of you who are directional and intentional, keep it up...and help your friends, ok? Let's make this a group project.

As I mentioned before, the mandatory marriage movement is all about intimidation. They cannot defend their views from the Bible, and many of their interpretations are simply laughed off by Biblical scholars. Do you really think that this kind of intimidation is going to be a substitute for an argument? You see, when folks dialogue with me, there are pages of the Bible turning, we have Hebrew and Greek texts open, with Grammar books for each on the table, and we are careful to not engage in the formal fallacies of logic. I am not saying we always succeed in being careful, but we try to do our best to honor God in submitting to His word.

However, notice what we have here. We have people engaging in irrational emotionalism. Dr. Andreas Kostenburger, while making a plug for his book, "God, Marriage, and Family," states the following:

Third, if you want to read a fuller account of God’s purposes for marriage and singleness and many other related issues, such as parenting, adoption, abortion, artificial reproductive technologies, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, and so on, read God, Marriage & Family (Crossway). It is much more thorough and wide-ranging than Debbie Maken’s book, which is focused on a fairly narrow topic (and then often argues from experience rather than Scripture).

Isn't that the truth! This is all about emotion, rather than about scripture. It is all about how ones experience makes you feel rather than what the Bible says. That should be obvious from the fact that I have gotten the responses I have from Darren Allen, and from others who are not intrested in a fair exchange.

Finally, the author ends up with another characture of our position:

He wants a relationship that’s easy, convenient, familiar, and requires no cost or concession on his part. He wants it to just “work out,” and he has past patterns to prove it. I wish him the best. Truly. But more than that, I hope – and pray – that God will grab him and show him what’s what. I hope that an older, wiser Christian man will come into his life and give him the facts. I hope he’ll realize that moving toward marriage is more than just “seeing what happens.” I hope that someday he’ll have the opportunity to put this into practice.

The first sentence is patently false. I think it might be more proper to reword it as, "He wants a relationship where he is not forced to give what I in my selfishness demand him to give." As we have seen throughout this article, things didn't go the way she wanted them to go, and therefore, she is now upset. Again, I have to keep pointing out the childish behavior of the marriage mandators who think that men are childish. The hypocracy of this movement is simply unbelievable.

As far as an "older" and "wiser" Christian man grabbing him, I have dialogued with many of these "older" and "wiser" Christian men, and even with folks such as Debbie Maken herself. The results are there to read for yourself. As you can see, far from "giving the facts," most of these folks were simply left to do nothing more than attack my motives, and misrepresent what I said about Hannah. This is not wisdom, folks. The apostle Paul aptly described this stuff in his letter to the Colossians:

Colossians 2:20-23 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Notice, Paul says that there is a set of rules out there which have the appearance of wisdom, but are, in actuality, of no value against sensual indulgence. It is almost as if the apostle Paul is speaking these words to the marriage mandators from heaven. The only law that has any value is what is found in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. To bind laws not found in the Bible upon the contiences of Christians is to deny the sufficiency of the scriptures.

BTW, I should also note that I am all for dating only those you desire to marry, and using that time to get ready for marriage. However, to expect things to go as you want them to go, and not trust in God and his providence because you are afraid you might get hurt is exactly the same outcome based theology of which we are often accused. Where are these people's faith in Christ? Where is their trust that God does things in his time? Were is the trust in the providence of God that, although we have our desires and we pursue them, it is ultimately God who decides whether these pursuits will be successful? The man-centeredness of this position is absolutely sickening.

In the end, I have to ask how accurate Andreas Kostenburger's observations were at the end of his dialogue with Debbie Maken:

In conclusion, I am struck by the man-centered nature and emphasis in Maken’s work. She calls on the unmarried to “get serious about getting married.” Is reality really as simple as this? Is lack of serious pursuit of marriage really and ultimately the most pressing problem, and getting serious about getting married the solution? It seems that Maken’s emphasis is almost unilaterally on man’s (or woman’s) initiative, while God’s providence and the Holy Spirit’s leading are disparaged. Are we not to trust God as to his timing and his way of leading in this intensely personal area of our lives? In the end, one wonders just how Christian Maken’s thinking is and to what extent shallow theology masks a focus on people going out and trying to force the hand of a recalcitrant and ambivalent God who has largely left humans to their own devices.

Indeed, I have often wondered how Christian much of this thinking is. That is why I am currently writing a book which I hope to title The Mandatory Marriage Controversy, in which I will expose some of the fallacious thinking of these folks. That way, if a man who is not trained in the issues involved ever runs into this movement for the first time, he will know how to respond to this movement. I hope it will also be helpful to women who run into advocates of the Mandatory Marriage Movement, in that it will both be a vaccine against their emotive appeals, and also to get women who are already involved in the movement thinking in a clear manner about the issues.

I should, again, make a word of disclaimer. I am not referring to many in the movement who actually are capible of carrying on a calm, well reasoned conversation. I have ran into these folks and, although they are a precious few, I cannot say many of these things that I have said in this post about them. I can only pray that they will realize that the movement is taking on this irrational intimadating character, and try to intellectually save it before it is written off much like radical KJV onlyism is. However, this is what happens when emotions get out of control, and start becoming the foundation of truth. Once you allow your emotions to become the standard, and stop thinking with God and his word as the standard, you will inevitably have these kinds of things happen. The sad thing is, it is happening with the support of men such as Albert Mohler and James Dobson. This is why we need to use discernment even when listening to Christian leaders.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Fristianity Problem

The Fristianity problem is a problem that has come up in presuppositional apologetics. People who use this argument tend to ask why it is that we cannot construct a worldview which is like the Christian worldview with one acception...that God is a quadrinity rather than a trinity.

I was thinking of the naivette of such an argument the other day. The idea that you can remove one of the foundations of a web of belief, and not have that web of belief changed is simply irrational. Michael Butler expresses this well when he says:

The only way we know that God is a Trinity is that he revealed it to us – mere speculation or empirical investigation would never lead us to this conclusion. But the Fristian worldview, which is, ex hypothesis, identical to Christianity in every other way, asserts that its god is a quadrinity. But if Fristianity is otherwise identical to Christianity, the only way for us to know this would be for Fristian god to reveal this to us. But there is a problem with this. Supposing Fristianity had inspired scriptures (which it would have to have since it is all other ways identical to Christianity), these scriptures would have to reveal that the Fristian God is one in four. But notice that by positing a quadrinity, the Fristian scriptures would be quite different from the Christian Scriptures. Whereas the Christian Scriptures teach that, with regard to man's salvation, God the Father ordains, God the Son accomplishes and God the Spirit applies, the Fristian scriptures would have to teach a very different order. But exactly how would the four members of its imagined godhead be involved in man's salvation? More fundamentally, whereas in the Christian Trinity we read that the personal attribute of the Father is paternity, the personal attribute of the Son is filiation and the personal attribute of the Spirit is spiration, what would be the personal, distinguishing attributes of the members of the Fristian quadrinity? What would their relationship be to each other? Further questions flow out of this. How would the quadrinity affect the doctrine of man and sin? How would redemptive history look different? What about eschatology? This all needs to be spelled out in detail. This illustration reveals a general problem. One cannot tinker with Christian doctrine at one point and maintain that other doctrines will not be affected. It does no good for the proponent of Fristianity to claim that the only difference between his worldview and the Christian worldview is over the doctrine of the Trinity. Christian doctrine is systemic and a change in one area will necessarily require changes in others. It is necessary, therefore, that the advocate of Fristianity to spell out how this one change in doctrine affects all other doctrines. But once this is done, there is no guarantee that the result will be coherent. [available at]

Indeed, one of the many problems with this type of position is that the people proposing it have not thought through the implications of what they are saying. Fristianity is a modern idea. The first question we should ask is, "How do we know of this God?" We must recognize that, if this God is the precondition for intellegability, then the world would have been unintelligable until the end of the twentieth century [which, interestingly enough, is about the time atheism started to feel the pressure of the Transendental argument]. The unbeliever might have one of two responses. First he could say that people knew about him, but there is no documentation that they did. However, such totally destroys the study of history. If we can assert that something happened from total silence, then it would mean that one might be able to say that the crusades actually didn't occur, and that the only ones who knew that they did not occur kept silent about it. In other other words, it is an argument from silence which is always fallacious.

However, if one is going to keep in step with Fristianity, one could suggest that the knowledge of the Fristian God is innate. Again, this is problematic. Why? Because of the fact that innate knowledge is not salvific. Hence, if you say that God was known innately, but not known specifically, then you have to believe that is not merciful. In other words, one would have to believe that no one was ever saved until the end of the twentieth century when people started receiving "revelations" of this Fristian god. Also, if every man were held responsible for their sins every second of the day, no man would be able to stand. We would all die an quick, and powerful death because of our sin. As David said, "If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?" [Psalm 130:3]. So, hence, Fristianity would also have to hold that, because the wages of sin is death, and there is no mercy in God, God would exact payment for our sins right when we come out of the womb [because we are sinners out of the womb]. In essence, we would die immediately. However, we know that many ancient figures lived long lives. Hence, the Fristian view of God would be impossible.

One could say that, in the Fristian worldview, innate knowledge is salvific. However, that would be absurd. If that is the case, then what is the point of the specific revelation the Fristian is now receiving? Who cares about that revelation if general revelation is enough?

Not only that, but it would mean that no one could have ever known that they were saved, given that there was no specific revelation to tell us what one must, at least, be desposed to believe in order to be a Fristian.

Also, how would we have known anything about God? Classic Christian theology has taught that specific revelation is needed to understand general revelation. Hence, without the specific revelation, God becomes unintelligable.

As one can see, Fristianity is a total impossibility. By answering each of these objections, the Fristian would move farther and farther from the Christian worldview. By stating that God is a quadrinity, you must reject other Christian beliefs, and thus a person cannot hold that they believe all of Christianity, and that their only point of departure is that they believe God is a quadrinity. Worldviews work together, and you cannot change one belief in the worldview without the rest coming down with it as well.

Also, notice the abiguity in the Fristian worldview. We don't know much more about it that that there is a quatrine God. It almost seems as though the worldview is, itself, inconceivable as it has not worked out many of the problems above. There just seems to be no framework there, and thus, no worldview. Michael Butler is certainly right to conclude:

Thus without providing the details of Fristian theology, this objection loses its punch. It can only be thought to be a challenge to Christianity if it, like Christianity, provides preconditions of experience. But without knowing the details, we cannot submit it to an internal critique. Until this happens, we can justifiably fall back on the conclusion that there is no conceivable worldview, apart from Christianity, that can provide the preconditions of experience.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Update on the Mandatory Marriage Situation

I want to point everyone to an excellent sermon by Dr. John Piper. The marriage mandators seem to hate this sermon, because it calls us to set our priorities straight. It calls us to see marriage as a wonderful gift, but, at the same time, as a finite creation. That is, marriage, while it is a wonderful gift of God, is something that is created by God, and will cease one day. Therefore, God's gift of eternal salvation is a far greater gift, and singles should take their joy in it.

I would also like to propose a new attack upon the marriage mandate movement. This is from a text in 1 Corinthians 9:5:

1 Corinthians 9:5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

The problem I am suggesting with this text has to do with the age of Paul when writing 1 Corinthians. Remember, Paul was converted shortly after Jesus' death [around 32 A.D.]. The dating of 1 Corinthians is not that difficult. Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, gives the following information regarding the dating of 1 Corinthians:

Paul wrote this epistle from Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:8, 9, 19) while on his third missionary journey. It was probably written in the spring of 54 CE as is evident from the following data: (1) The letter was written some years after Paul’s first visit, since Apollos had ministered there (Acts 18:26-27; 1 Cor. 1:12) and Timothy had also been sent there (Acts 19:22; 1 Cor. 4:17). (2) This letter was written sometime after his first letter (cf. 1 Cor. 5:9) and probably not in the last year of his ministry in Ephesus. He mentions that he intends to spend the next winter with the Corinthians (1 Cor. 16:6), a visit which, nevertheless, is not to be identified with the three-month stay of Acts 20:3. This latter visit (Acts 20:3) reads as though it were at the end of Paul’s Ephesian ministry, while it is doubtful that 1 Corinthians was written at the end because otherwise the chronology does not fit with data in 2 Corinthians. (3) This letter was written in the spring because Pentecost is just around the corner (1 Cor. 16:8).

I believe this information is very damaging to the mandatory marriage movement. Why is that? Because, in order for Paul to be 22 at the time he wrote 1 Corinthians, he would have had to have been born at the time of his conversion! In fact, if he were 29 at the time he wrote 1 Corinthians, he would have been 7 years old at the time of his conversion. The best the marriage mandators can hope for is that Paul was a teenager at the age of 13 when he was converted, in which case he would have been 35 when he wrote 1 Corinthians. However, that would seem totally self-contradictory to their movement, given the text in question:

1 Corinthians 9:5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

However, the mandatory marriage advocate could just simply say that Paul is simply asking the question as to whether or not he has that right, and does not give the answer. The problem with that viewpoint is that it doesn't take into account the fact that Greek can use constructions in which the author is clearly expecting a positive answer or a negative answer. The Greek of this expression in this text is very clear. The phrase begins with "mē ouk echomen." The mē here expects a negative answer to the main clause. However, the main clause in Greek is negated. In other words, the Greek text literally expects a negative answer to the question, "Is it the case that we do not have a right to take along a believing wife?"

A.T. Robertson gives the following information about this construction:

1Co 9:4 - Have we no right? (Mē ouk echomen exousian;). Literary plural here though singular in 1-3. The mê in this double negative expects the answer "No" while ouk goes with the verb echomen. "Do we fail to have the right?" Cf. Ro 10:18f. (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1173). [A.T. Robertson Word Pictures of the New Testament]

Hence, the Greek text very clearly expects the very opposite answer that a mandatory marriage advocate would give. Thus the contradiction with the mandatory marriage position should be obvious.

BTW, I also wanted to let people know that good ol' Captain Sensible from the Gift of Singleness blog is at it again. He has recycled the old "you said barrenness was like being a nerd" "argument." Not only that, he also complained when someone posted a comment on the Boundless blog that he didn't like. He quotes what he doesn't like and then comments:

"Remembering that in the New Testament Jesus said agreed with his disciples saying that it would be better to not marry."

What?!?Boundless, are you going to address this? By posting this comment, you have now given a wide platform for the idea that Jesus said it would be better not to marry. Are you going to do anything about that? Or just leave it unchallenged?

Notice, he thinks that Boundless should take the time to answer all criticisms that ever get thrown its way. BTW, I know what it is like to be in their position, and if I answered every criticism leveled against me, I would never get anything done at school or otherwise. However, aside from that, again we see this utterly irrational idea that we need to in some way censor comments that we don't like. I also have a question. Why doesn't Captain Sensible defend his position? Why is he waiting on Boundless to do it? If we are so stupid, and the mandatory marriage movement is so brilliant, you would think he would jump at the chance to show us up.

However, again, as I said, the folks on this blog are moving off into a very cultic form of this movement. Even Philippa, who says she agrees with a large portion of what Debbie Maken has to say, says even she thinks Captian Sensible can be annoying. I can only hope that by the grace and mercy of God the folks over on the gift of singleness blog will be brought to their senses, and stop doing so much damage to the body of Christ.
Eastern Orthodoxy, Icons, and Worship

Robert Letham has just come out with a new book on Eastern Orthodoxy. The section on Icons is extremely helpful. I like this quotation:

For the Reformed, everything is iconic. God has imprinted evidence of his own beauty and glory throughout creation. In the words of the Psalmist, 'the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge' (Ps. 19:1-2). And again, 'O LORD, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth!' (Ps. 8:9). In line with this Paul can say that 'his envisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made' (Rom. 1:20). Every blade of grass, every tree and flower displays the glory of God. Every square inch belongs to Christ, the mediator of creation (Col. 1:15-17, Heb. 1:1-3). If icons are windows to draw us to God, opened books lead us to heaven, so too is the entire order of creation-the beauty of the hills, the colours of the grass, sea and sky, the trees and plants, the changing of the seasons. [Through Western Eyes; Eastern Orthodoxy a Reformed Perspective p.160-161]

What an incredible section! Notice that icons and images are a very important part of worship. Hence, the issue is not over whether we should use icons, the issue is over whether or not icons are part of general or specific revelation. The Bible presents images as part of general revelation. Hence, when we talk about the specific revelation of God, we cannot say it refers to images.

However, notice further implications of this observation. We therefore do, indeed worship God with images every day of our life. However, what kind of images? Images that are evil and wicked, or images that are pure and Godly? That is a difficult question for most men who either love the gore found in many video games, or who love the thrill of pornography. We need to be careful, because our entire life is an act of worship. Therefore, we cannot profane the worship of God by using images that are displeasing to him.

BTW, I would recommend this book by Robert Letham very highly. It is certainly not easy reading. In fact, he goes through and discusses the seven ecumenical councils, giving their historical context, and showing how they relate to Orthodoxy theology. Therefore, it is not something you will be able to read in five minutes. However, many of the topics addressed are very important to the emmergance of Eastern Orthodoxy to the theological scene here in the west.

Eastern objections to Sola Scriptura is a topic I will have to take up in a blog entry one of these days. There arguments, while at times paralleling Roman Catholicism, have some slightly different twists.