Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Soverignty of God in Light of the Marriage Mandators

Most people know that one of Debbie Maken's weaknesses is her view of God and his sovereignty. Debbie Maken has one of the most man-centered views of God's sovereignty I have ever seen. In our dialogue, she just melted down when I started refuting her view of God's sovereignty, and all she could do is just say that greater minds than ours have discussed this issue, and we should not try to add what they have already done.

Now, the Marriage Mandators' worst nightmare is here. Dr. R.C. Sproul has put a dialogue online wherein he plays the "devil's advocate," and his friend and mentor, Dr. John Gerstner, responds to the issues raised by Dr. Sproul. All of the common objections raised by Arminians and Marriage Mandators are raised by R.C. Sproul, and John Gerstner devistates them with one broad, sweeping stroke. I don't expect Captain Sensible, Gortexgirl, or Debbie Maken to listen to this. It does not have anything to do with marriage, but it provides a solid theological foundation to point out that, while man certainly can and does pursue marriage, it is ultimately God who will decide when their search will be successful. Of course, this is fatal to their position, because it means that men and women cannot ultimately decide when they are going to marry. That is up to God. Thus, anyone who loathes singleness, and thus goes against what God has said just because he has not given them what they want is engaging in idolatry.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Captain Sensible and Church History

Captain Sensible has just recently posted something on her blog with regards to Martin Luther. I have addressed Debbie Maken's horrible misuse of the reformers before, and it appears that Captain Sensible has seen fit to not read the other side. She is, in fact, quoting Debbie Maken who grossly took Luther and Calvin out of context, and, in fact, even altered quotations in order to prove her position [see my documentation here]. Here is how Luther is quoted by Captain Sensible/Debbie Maken:

"After God had made them male and female, he blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply' (Genesis 1:28). From this passage we may be assured that man and woman should and must come together in order to multiply... Hence, as it is not within my power not to be a man, so it is not my prerogative to be without a woman. Again, as it is not in your power not to be a woman, so it is not your prerogative to be without a man. For it is not a matter of free choice or decision but a natural and necessary thing, that whatever is a man must have a woman and whatever is a woman must have a man..."

'Be fruitful and multiply'... is more than a command, namely a divine ordinance which it is not our prerogative to hinder or ignore. Rather, it is just as necessary as the fact that I am a man, and more necessary than sleeping and walking, eating and drinking and emptying the bowels and bladder. It is a nature and disposition just as innate as the organs involved in it. Therefore, just as God does not command anyone to be a man or woman but creates them the way they have to be, so he does not command them to multiply but creates that so that they have to multiply. And wherever men try to resist this, it remains irresistible nonetheless and goes its way through fornication, adultery, and secret sins, for this is a matter of nature and not of choice

At first glance, this looks to be exactly what Debbie Maken and others have said. However, as I said, these people rarely want you to go and read the entire context. Here is what Luther went on to say:

In the third place, from this ordinance of creation God has himself exempted three categories of men, saying in Matthew 19 [:12], "There are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven." Apart from these three groups, let no man presume to be without a spouse. And whoever does not fall within one of these three categories should not consider anything except the estate of marriage. Otherwise it is simply impossible for you to remain righteous. For the Word of God which created you and said, "Be fruitful and multiply," abides and rules within you; you can by no means ignore it, or you will be bound to commit heinous sins without end.

Luther is therefore willing to say that there are, indeed, three people who are exempted from this commandment. Now, how does Luther understand this third category? Luther goes on later to say:

The third category consists of those spiritually rich and exalted persons, bridled by the grace of God, who are equipped for marriage by nature and physical capacity and nevertheless voluntarily remain celibate. These put it this way, "I could marry if I wish, I am capable of it But it does not attract me. I would rather work on the kingdom of heaven, i.e., the gospel, and beget spiritual children." Such persons are rare, not one in a thousand, for they are a special miracle of God. No one should venture on such a life unless he be especially called by God, like Jeremiah [16:2], or unless he finds God's grace to be so powerful within him that the divine injunction, "Be fruitful and multiply," has no place in him.

Luther clearly states that people in the third category voluntarily remain celebate. It is not something where they have no control over whether they remain celebate or not. Luther clearly states that a person who wishes to only begat spiritual children is not sinning. Yet, the Marriage Mandate position is that a person cannot do that. If he has a sex drive at all, it is to drive him towards marriage. Now, why does Luther use such strong language of commanding in the quotation given by Captain Sensible? After the quotation by Captain Sensible, and his explaination of the exemptions given above, Luther then says:

Don't let yourself be fooled on this score, even if you should make ten oaths, vows, covenants, and adamantine or ironclad pledges. For as you cannot solemnly promise that you will not be a man or a woman (and if you should make such a promise it would be foolishness and of no avail since you cannot make yourself something other than what you are), so you cannot promise that you will not produce seed or multiply, unless you belong to one of the three categories mentioned above. And should you make such a promise, it too would be foolishness and of no avail, for to produce seed and to multiply is a matter of God's ordinance [geschöpffe], not your power.

From this you can now see the extent of the validity of all cloister vows. No vow of any youth or maiden is valid before God, except that of a person in one of the three categories which God alone has himself excepted. Therefore, priests, monks, and nuns are duty-bound to forsake their vows whenever they find that God's ordinance to produce seed and to multiply is powerful and strong within them. They have no power by any authority, law, command, or vow to hinder this which God has created within them. If they do hinder it, however, you may be sure that they will not remain pure but inevitably besmirch themselves with secret sins or fornication. For they are simply incapable of resisting the word and ordinance of God within them. Matters will take their course as God has ordained.

Notice, that Luther is objecting against the use of vows to remain single. The reason why he uses such strong language is because the Bible never gives "because a I made a vow" as a proper reason for refraining from marriage. He does allow a voluntary refraining from marriage as an acceptable reason for remaining single [however, I would say he would probably want to agree with Calvin about "the gift of continence]. Of course, Captain Sensible cannot have that, because that means that Luther is not the granddaddy of the Marriage Mandate movement, but a reformer who was reacting against the abuses of a forced celebacy due to a priestly vow. This is a horrible misuse of Martin Luther, yet, sadly, it is the kind of thing that permiates Marriage Mandate literature. The reformers are quoted, without any thought as to their context, and it is taken for granted that what they are saying is consistent with what the Mandatory Marriage Movement is saying.

Also, before I close, I would just like to post this one quotation from Martin Luther which should remove all doubt as to whether or not Luther was teaching the Mandatory Marriage position:

Here I will let the matter rest and leave to others the task of searching out further benefits and advantages of the estate of marriage. My purpose was only to enumerate those which a Christian can have for conducting his married life in a Christian way, so that, as Solomon says, he may find his wife in the sight of God and obtain favour from the Lord [Prov. 18:22]. In saying this I do not wish to disparage virginity, or entice anyone away from virginity into marriage. Let each one act as he is able, and as he feels it has been given to him by God. I simply wanted to check those scandalmongers who place marriage so far beneath virginity that they dare to say: Even if the children should become holy (I Cor. 7:14], celibacy would still be better. One should not regard any estate as better in the sight of God than the estate of marriage. In a worldly sense celibacy is probably better, since it has fewer cares and anxieties. This is true, however, not for its own sake but in order that the celibate may better be able to preach and care for God's word, as St Paul says in I Corinthians 7 [:32-34]. It is God's word and the preaching which make celibacy, such as that of Christ and of Paul, better than the estate of marriage. In itself, however, the celibate life is far inferior.

Notice, that here Luther says something totally self-contradictory to Captain Sensible, namely, that in saying these things, he does not which to entice anyone away from virginity into marriage. Yet, that is exactly what Captain Sensible and Debbie Maken are trying to do! Luther also says that is that a person is to act as he feels it has been given to him by God, not by whether or not he has sexual desires. Luther's view is that whether or not you get married is something that is a personal issue, not a church issue. It is not something where another person can command you to get married. Luther clearly states that each man must decide for himself. Combine that with the fact that Luther clearly states that one of the exemptions from marriage comes from voluntarily refraining from marriage, and you have a really bad misuse of a historical source.

Again, I would invite you to read the entire sermon yourself. It is not that long, but it will give you a feel for just how far off Maken's [and, by extension, Captain Sensible's] misrepresentation of Martin Luther is. It is sad to see Captain Sensible not read the other side, and just blindly assume that Debbie Maken is correct in her interpretation of the reformers, when her interpretations of their writings have absolutely no credibility. The reality is that this is a movement that has come about in the twentieth century, and has no historical foundation before Albert Mohler and Debbie Maken.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dr. D. James Kennedy Dies

In case any of you haven't heard, Dr. D. James Kennedy, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian church has recently passed away. Dr. Kennedy was a man who knew how to stand up for the gospel, and he will be greatly missed. I can only hope that other Christian leaders will take the baton and run with it. In a day when the gospel is attacked from all sides, Dr. Kennedy was a man who stood strong against the opposition of the enemy. I pray that God will raise up more men like Dr. Kennedy to fight the good fight. I also pray that he will be an example to us so that we do not cave in under pressure when we are called to stand up and be counted for the gospel. Instead, let us stand up and show that God has made foolishness out of the wisdom of this world [1 Corinthians 1:20] just as Dr. Kennedy did.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Reconsidering Something
(and a few miscellaneous items)

Now that I have had the time to focus on the study of the Hebrew Bible, I have had time to refine my views on certain texts. When you are taking classes in Hebrew Exegesis, and reading several books on the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, you are going to have the opportunity to refine your position on several things. I figured it would be good to get a post started, and get some feedback.

Upon further study, I am considering another interpretation of Genesis 1:28. As a theonomist and a postmillenialist, I found that it was somewhat of a departure from classic reconstructionist beliefs. To start out, here is my translation of Genesis 1:26-28:

26a. And God said,
26b. "Let us make man in our image,
26c. after our likeness
26d. and let them reign over the fish of the sea,
26e. the birds of the sky,
26f. the beasts,
26g. all the land,
26h. and the insects that crawl on the land.

27a. Then, God created man in his image.
27b. In the image of God he created him.
27c. He created them male and female.

28a. And God blessed them
28b. and said to them,
28c. "Be fruitful,
28d. multiply,
28e. fill the earth
28f. and dominate it,
28g. and reign over the fish of the sea,
28h. the birds of the sky,
28i. and every living thing that creeps upon the earth."

My position is that of Wilhelm Gesenius, the famous Hebrew grammarian, which is articulated in his grammar:

(c) To express a distinct assurance (like our expression, thou shalt have it)2 or promise, e.g. Is 65:18 but be ye glad, &c. (i.e. ye will have continually occasion to be glad); and Is 37:30, y Ps 110:2; in a threat, Jer 2:19. So especially in commands, the fulfilment of which is altogether out of the power of the person addressed, e.g. Is 54:14 be far from anxiety (meaning, thou needst not fear any more); Gn 1:28, &c. (for other examples, such as 1 K 22:12, 2 K 5:13, see below, f). Most clearly in the case of the imperative NiphÇal with a passive meaning, e.g. Gn 42:16 Wrs.a†'he ~T,a;w> and ye shall be bound; Dt 32:50, Is 49:9 (Is 45:22, see below, f).

There are many strengths to this perspective. First of all, it fits nicely with the context of God blessing them in 28a, there are other examples where where this combination clearly means a blessing [Genesis 17:20, 28:3, 48:4, Leviticus 26:9, Jeremiah 23:3, Ezekiel 36:11]. Also, it avoids the problems of having to deal with women who are infertile sinning.

However, Reconstructionism has historically taught that this text is one of the reasons why the Church will one day conquer the world through the preaching of the gospel, because God has commanded man to take dominion here in this text. Thus, if we do not take dominion, we are, in fact, going against the commandments of God. Thus, the question is whether or not my interpretation of this passage is consistent with the reconstructionist perspective.

My first thought is to think that I don't really need Genesis 1:28, as we also have the Great Commission. However, what if we took a different interpretation of this passage, one that enabled one to hold that this was a command, that the command is about dominion, and that women who are infertile are not sinning? I think the solution is to consider that this is a command that was originally given to Adam and Eve, but is, by extension, given to humanity in general, and not to every individual within humanity. Thus, humanity in general would be under the obligation to exercise dominion, however, only humanity in general would be under the obligation to "be fruitful and multiply."

The weakness of this position is that it is difficult to reconcile with the afore mentioned information, and is also difficult to reconcile with verse 22. For instance, if humanity does not increase and multiply, then they are engaging in sin. However, we would have to make sense of how it is that animals can sin. However, that is utter nonsense. It is an attractive view, but it is difficult to work out those issues, and make them consistent with the rest of the text.

Now, I also have had time to look carefully at this text, and consider the interpretation of our Mandatory Marriage friends. They would say that this text gives us a command for [almost] everyone to marry and produce offspring. This is also a text used by those who say that it is a sin for people to get married and never have children. However, that view is difficult to reconcile with 28e, as, if the commands to "be fruitful and multiply" are commands which imply that [almost] every human being is to have offspring, then, reading the text consistently, we would also have to say that [almost] every human being is to fill the earth. The reality is that I know of no one involved in this movement who is the father [or mother] of 7 billion children! However, to be consistent, the folks that use this text to say that [almost] everyone must get married and have children or that all married people must have children must be consistent with their interpretation and say that [almost everyone] should have 7 billion children, and everyone who is married must have 7 billion children. That is simply absurd. Yet, it seems like the people involved in this movement want to take one interpretation of the first two imperatives [making them applicable to individuals], and yet make the third imperative applicable to humanity in general. However, that is totally arbitrary. If you read the first two imperatives in a certain way, you have to read the rest of the imperatives in the text in that way as well.

However, it is interesting that the afore mentioned view that I am considering can make sense of this problem. If God commands humanity in general to increase and multiply, he also is commanding humanity in general to fill the earth. Thus, as I said, it is an attractive view, but one I am not ready to jump on just yet.

Also, I happened to go over to Anakin Niceguy's blog, and found that he posted this article today. I clicked on the post he originally wrote, and that can be found here. It is about an article by Thabiti Anyabwile which can be found here. Now, I must say, to be fair, I like the idea of Anyabwile's article. Honoring your parents is something that we don't take seriously anymore. We need to love our father and mother, and, in doing so, we will be obedient to the law of God. However, Anakin rightly was disturbed by this comment:

But biblically, it seems that mature adulthood is defined by marriage and parenthood. In other words, the Bible reserves adult status for those who leave mother and father and cleave to a spouse (Gen. 2:24).

Apparently, Anyabwile has taken the time to reply to Anakin in the comments section of his blog here [his nick is "FellowElder"]. In his response he writes:

1. Pretty spiritual girl, marriage is not merely a "civil institution." It's a creation ordinance. It preceeds every civil organization/government in human history. It's established by God's governance at the beginning of creation. This is why marriage in some form is universal. Which is also why marriage and childrearing are normally associated with adulthood. Gen. 2:24 doesn't explicity state marriage is a marker of adulthood, true. However, the entire creation account establishes marriage and childrearing as typically central to adulthood.

Let us take a look at Genesis 2:24. Again, here is my own translation of the Hebrew text:

24a. Therefore, a man forsakes his father and mother,
24b. cleaves to his wife,
24c. and they become one flesh.

We need to understand what is being said here. The key to the interpretation of this text is the construction "imperfect+!Ke-l[;." This is a relatively common construction in the Pentateuch and the historical books, and thus, we should see how that construction is used in that context. Here are the instances by stems. For those who do not know Hebrew, I will use a bold font to indicate where the text is translating the specific Hebrew phrase:


Genesis 32:32 Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of the hip.

Numbers 21:25-27 Israel took all these cities and Israel lived in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all her villages. 26 For Heshbon was the city of Sihon, king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken all his land out of his hand, as far as the Arnon. 27 Therefore those who use proverbs say, "Come to Heshbon! Let it be built! So let the city of Sihon be established.

1 Samuel 5:5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor all who enter Dagon's house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.

1 Samuel 19:24 He also stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Therefore they say, "Is Saul also among the prophets?"

2 Samuel 5:8 David said on that day, "Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him reach the lame and the blind, who are hated by David's soul, through the water tunnel." Therefore they say, "The blind or the lame shall not come into the house."

Genesis 2:24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.


Genesis 10:8-9 Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, "Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD."

Numbers 21:13-14 From there they journeyed and camped on the other side of the Arnon, which is in the wilderness that comes out of the border of the Amorites, for the Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. 14 Therefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of the LORD, "Waheb in Suphah, And the wadis of the Arnon,


2 Samuel 22:47-50 "The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; And exalted be God, the rock of my salvation, 48 The God who executes vengeance for me, And brings down peoples under me, 49 Who also brings me out from my enemies; You even lift me above those who rise up against me; You rescue me from the violent man. 50 "Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the nations, And I will sing praises to Your name.


2 Samuel 22:47-50 "The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; And exalted be God, the rock of my salvation, 48 The God who executes vengeance for me, And brings down peoples under me, 49 Who also brings me out from my enemies; You even lift me above those who rise up against me; You rescue me from the violent man. 50 "Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the nations, And I will sing praises to Your name.

The first thing we should notice is that the stem does not make much of a difference. The meaning of the phrase is pretty consistent throughout the stems, although the stems of preference for this construction are the Qal and the Niphal. We also need to be careful of not taking into account the context of Genesis 2:24. If we do not, we fall into the fallacy of termus technicus. It seems that, when we examine Genesis 2:24, we find that what is more important is the arrangement by context. Genesis 2:24 comes after a narrative, whereas 2 Samuel 22:50 comes in the context of a Psalm. Thus, while the meaning is similar to the other instances, it is not necessarily parallel to Genesis 2:24.

Now, note the meanings of each of these texts. The construction is telling us that an action happens in the present because of what happened in the narrative. For instance, because of what happened in 1 Samuel 5 with the priests of Dagon, they do not tread on the threshold. Because Nimrod became an excellent hunter, he is called a great warrior for the Lord in the present. Because Saul prophesied, people say "Is Saul among the prophets?" It is because of what happened with Jacob that the Israelites do not eat the sinew of the hip, and it is because of Israel's inhabitance of Heshbon that those who write proverbs say what they do. We can see that, over and over again, when you have this construction at the end of a narrative, it always means that something happens in the present because of what happened in the narrative.

Thus, if we apply the study of this construction to Genesis 2:24, we find that the text means that the reason why people get married today is because of what God did back in the garden of Eden. Therefore, any reading of this text that says that the text is stating that marriage is a "marker of adulthood" is exegetically unwarranted.

However, as I said, I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Anyabwile has hit the nail on the head when he talks about how children need to be more obedient to their parents. I see way to many children get into their teens, and then they just go wild, and don't care about their parents at all.

Also, it is good to see Anyabwile doing work on Islam as well. James White, Michael Haykin, and Thabiti Anyabwile will be doing a conference on Islam. Also, there is a debate of Anyabwile debating a Muslim here. So, again, we have to be careful that we don't become imbalanced, and make sure that we don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Interesting Class this Semester

This semester, I have the privilege of taking a class in Middle Egyptian. The reason why my school offers it as a supplement to their M.A. in Old Testament and Semitic studies program is that it is a very important language to the study of the Old Testament, not only because the culture of Egypt is very important, but also because Egyptian is a language that is somewhere between and African language and a Semitic language. Much of the vocabulary is very similar to Hebrew, and thus, it provides us a way to understand the development of Hebrew vocabulary.

However, another interesting aspect is the fact that Egyptian can be used to at least cast doubt on the authenticity of Wellhausen's Documentary Hypothesis. The reason is that the vocabulary in the Pentateuch is highly Egyptian. Thus, it is likely that the authorship of the Pentateuch came from Egypt [Moses would thus be a strong candidate].

However, it is somewhat frustrating because Egyptian has a hieroglyphic script. The alphabet is:

Egyptian Vulture
Reed Leaf
Double Reed Leaf
Quail Chick
horned viper
House plan
Animal Body with Tail
Folded Cloth
Basket with Handle
Ring stand for a vessel
Loaf of Bread
Rope for tethering

That is a little different from the "aleph bet gimel daleth" I am used to. The problem is not really learning the pictures and the sounds of the letters. The problem is learning the order of the letters in Egyptian.

However, Egyptian also uses logograms and determinatives just like Akkadian, which I was already studying before my acceptance. However, Egyptian simply loves determinatives. So much so that my professor says that you can easily tell word divisions by determinatives. A lot of determinatives also decrease vocabulary. For instance, the Egyptian word for "sun" and the god "ra" are essentially the same word. How do you know which is the word for the god, and which is the word for the sun? Yup, determinatives. The determinitive indicating that the word means "sun" is a circle with a dot in the center, and the determinitive indicating that the word means "the [sun] god" is a picture of a deity sitting down.

If I have sparked your interest, this web page has some excellent information on ancient Egyptian.