Essential Knowledge

What is this world? Where did it come from? What is its history? What is the purpose of it, and of my existence? What am I? Where did I come from? What should I do with my life? Where am I going?

These are fundamental questions, which everyone ought to be able to answer. No one would think of employing someone, and then fail to tell him what are the terms of his employment, what his duties are going to be, what he will be paid and when, whom he is responsible to, and so forth. No one would send an employee on an errand, telling him that he is to decide for himself where to go, what he is to do there, what information to communicate, and so on. Yet there are people who go through life without ever understanding the reason for their existence, what the rules are, and what they can expect at the end of life’s road. This is a tragic, a catastrophic ignorance!

These are all crucial questions, which must be answered if life is to have any meaning, if the end of our creation is to be realized, if we are to avoid the ultimate disaster — eternal misery — and find everlasting life. Who, if anyone, has the answers to these and other crucial questions? No one — except those who accept the Bible — can answer these questions; because no one else has a coherent view of the world. All the religions of the world, and all the ideologies of the world fail to answer these questions in a rational and logically consistent way, if they attempt to answer them at all. Christianity is never rejected because it is illogical or intellectually unsatisfying — it is rejected because the rejector is a sinner who does not want to believe what God tells Him, and refuses to do what God requires of him. Let’s just outline the coherent Christian explanation of the world by examining the answers it gives to these questions.

What is this world?

This world is a vast and marvelously complex ordered system made to be the stage upon which the mighty acts of God are to be wrought and admired. Human history, as it has been often observed, is “His story”. He wrote it, He scripted it, He produces it, He directs it, He stars in it. And it is all about Him.

Is God then egotistical? Not at all — the wonder of it is that God is humble beyond all other beings, as I will show later on. The thing is, that when a mere man, with all his limitations and defects, sets himself up as an object of adoration and even worship, he is to be despised for it. Why? Because he is a mere man, and not worthy to be so honored. But God is worthy! Everything about Him is beautiful, majestic, exalted! His work is perfect, full of wonders! The vast heavens were made by Him, and He has a name for every star, planet, comet and asteroid. The intricacies of living things are all designed and crafted by infinite wisdom and skill; far, far beyond our understanding! Creation and providence are wonderful; but His greatest work, the work of redemption, is the one in which He takes the most pride. By it, guilty, defiled, wretched, despicable sinners are pardoned, cleansed, and raised to heaven!

Where did this world come from?

It was made by the mere will and word of Almighty God. Before Creation, there was nothing from which anything could be made. It simply came into being when God wanted it to, and took shape in the finished form that pleased Him over the course of six days.

What is its history?

Biblical Christianity is predicated on the historicity of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Bible is composed of two collections of sacred writings, the Old Testament, written originally in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek. The Old testament tells us how the world began, and gives us a chronology of ancient times, from the creation of the world to the re-building of Jerusalem during the time of the Persian Empire. The New Testament covers the most significant decades of human history, from about 5 B. C. to 40 A.D., when the Savior of the world appeared and established His kingdom in the world. A good way to divide history is to call the first part of history, from the creation to the coming of Christ (4041 years) the age of Promise, and the second part (from the birth of Christ to the end of the world) the time of Fulfillment.

Here is a short outline of the history of the world, from beginning to end:

Creation (in Six Days — 6,064 years ago)

The Fall of Man (undated)

Noah’s Flood (in the 1656th “year of the world”, or Anno Mundi)

The Tower of Babel (undated)

The making of the covenant with Abraham (in 2083 A.M.)

The exodus (2513 A.M.)

The conquest of Canaan (2552-2559 A.M.)

Period of the Judges (2573-3023 A.M.)

Founding of the monarchy (3023 A.M.)

Destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (3539 A.M.)

The captivity (3520-3589 A.M.)

Restoration of Jerusalem under Persian Rule (3589 A.M.)

Birth of Christ near end of King Herod’s reign, (4041 A.M.)

Death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, in 4075 A.M.)

Second destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. or 4116 A.M.)

Notice that the Bible is mainly concerned with the history of redemption; and this means that it passes over the history of many great nations. Its focus is Abraham, and his line that runs through Isaac and Jacob (also called Israel) to the children of Israel. It is the history of God’s dealings with the Jews until the time when a Jewish maid was to bring forth the Son of God and the Savior of the world. In the biblical view of history, the pagan nations are important only as they relate to the people of God.

What is the purpose of the world, and of my existence?

To begin with, no one can rationally ask the question of what is the purpose of life without presupposing One who is capable of giving purpose. Purpose cannot exist outside of a purposer. There is a purpose to life because God created the world with a purpose in mind, and governs it according to a plan which He alone could make. Remove God from the equation and then ask yourself who else or what else could account for a purpose to either the world or your own life.

Christianity answers the question of purpose with the affirmation that the world was created and is governed for God’s own glory, and that the purpose of each life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Those who choose to deny God are also left without any purpose in life, any hope that the world is going to make sense, and any reason for living when life becomes unbearably painful. For this reason, where atheism and agnosticism exist, many choose to end their lives in self-murder. Why go through all the grief, if there is an easy exit, and nothing after? I was once poised to commit suicide, and the only thing that kept me from it was the realization that I would then have to meet God, and explain to Him why I violated His sixth commandment, which I was unwilling to do.

What am I?

The Bible is clear that mankind is the creation of God, and that man is unique among all the living creatures in that he was created to be the image of God. You and I are, whether we like it or not, made to be like God in certain ways. This does not mean that we are exactly like Him, for then there would be many Gods; which is impossible, for God is the Ultimate being, and there can only be one Ultimate.

We are like God in many ways. First, there is our physical being. God has no body; but He sees and hears, and makes things, and exerts his power in different places. We are therefore given eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to work with, and feet to walk; and so on. We are, so to speak, “visible gods”.

But the most important part of us is our souls. Unlike the animals, we are spiritual beings, like the angels. God is a spirit; but God is the Infinite spirit, and we are finite. We have souls that will never die. We are therefore, eternal, in a sense — although, strictly speaking, God alone is eternal, because He has always existed, while everything else had a beginning. We possess intelligence, imagination, memory, the power of speech, emotions, the faculty of volition, the power to create, and to shape the world according to our will — like God — but in a limited way. Man was made holy, morally pure, and upright like God; but while God is unchangeably, infinitely, and necessarily holy, man was made capable of falling from the state of holiness.

Man was made to be like God, so that he could be the servant of God, and to rule over the creation for him. He was so until he sinned and became morally unlike Him. That act, called the original sin, constituted all humanity sinners. The image of God still exists, but like the ruins of a city, it is marred almost beyond recognition. That is what we are.Essential Knowledge

Where did I come from?

According to the Bible, man was made from the dust of the ground; and then God breathed life into him. If this seems implausible, it is because the almighty power of God is not taken into account. If it is asked why God did it in this way, the answer is obvious. It shows that man is not just another animal, but a unique creation with a body and a soul. It also indicates that man was made with a special connection to the earth, and yet an intimate relationship with Heaven.

What should I do with my life?

You are under a three-fold obligation to God. First, since He made you and gave you life, you owe Him your life. Second, He has cared for you, kept you from countless dangers, and afforded you many innocent pleasures in the course of your life — most of them unacknowledged by you. Third, He has provided a perfect sacrifice for your sins, should you be willing to receive it, and has now sent His word of salvation to you. You are therefore under the strongest bonds. He owns you. You are not your own property, free to do as you please. If you choose that course, things will end very badly for you — worse than you can even imagine — or if you ever do, you will probably have a stroke, or go mad.

Where am I going?

The Bible teaches that there are only two places where we can go immediately after death: heaven and hell. There is no middle option for those who were neither very good nor very bad. The disembodied soul of the believer in Jesus Christ will be with Him in heaven. The soul of the unrepentant sinner will be in a place of torment. At some time known only to God, everyone is going to be raised from the dead, which means that God will unite every soul to his own body once more. Then there will be the great day of judgment, in which everyone who has ever lived on earth will have to appear before God and receive a final and irrevocable sentence: either to live in everlasting bliss in the kingdom of God on a renewed earth, or to be forever in utter darkness, pain, and the privation of every enjoyment he has known on earth.

These are the answers which the Bible gives to the ultimate and necessary questions. They are not my answers, but the ones given by God in His written Word. They are the answers taught by the church of Jesus Christ since its inception. They have not lost their qualities of truth and relevance because of the passage of time; or because some merely human theory claims to have falsified some doctrine of Scripture. The human conscience testifies to the truth of our accountability to God, condemning us when we do evil, and justifying us when we do the right thing. Why do we fear death, but because we know there must be a day of reckoning for the sins we have committed?

The good news is that there is a way to have our sins blotted out! Jesus Christ is the sacrificial Lamb of God, who has taken away the sin of the world by bearing them in His own body for us. When we trust in Him, believe that He is what He claims to be, He forgives us freely, and gives us the gift of eternal life. Then He begins the work of sanctifying us, which means training us to think and live like a Christian should. He will finish the work that He begins in us, because He has never, and can never fail! Everyone who truly believes will be saved everlastingly.

Do you believe? Will you believe? Come to Christ, and live; or turn away from Him and die forever. You must choose. Do not put it off. Life is short and uncertain. You may never have another opportunity. You may be certain that the Lord Jesus will not disappoint you or let you down! Call upon Him today!

What’s Wrong with the Feminist Manifesto?

A Biblical Examination of “Men, Women and Biblical Equality”, the Founding Statement of the “Christians for Biblical Equality” Organization

PART 1

Introduction: The Organization

Christians for Biblical Equality” [hereafter referred to as CBE] was organized in 1988 to agitate for a radical reconstruction of the Christian family, society, and church life, to make it conform to the reigning spirit of the age – radical Egalitarianism in its feminist expression. It would have been more honest for them to have called it “The Society for the Promotion of Christian Feminism”. In fact, they have now come close to doing just that: the following subtitle has recently been added to their founding document, ”Defining Biblical Gender Equality”.

The name they have chosen for the organization is self-contradictory. It is neither Christian nor biblical to say that men and women are equal in status and also functionally equivalent. What the Bible teaches is not the equality of men and women, but rather that woman was made from man and for man (1 Corinthians 11:8-9) – both which facts are interpreted by the Apostle Paul to prove her subordinate status (11:10). He even states that the man “is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the [image and] glory of the man”(11:7) – which places man in a relation to woman analogous to God’s relation to Adam (see also 11:3). Hence, we are told that godly Sarah obeyed her husband Abraham, calling him “Lord”, and was commended by the Apostle Peter, writing under inspiration, for doing so (1 Peter 3:6).

There is no such thing as a “biblical equality” of the sexes in the sense that CBE means – that is, that the woman is not subordinate to the man. Nor would such a constitution of things be good. God is too wise to have made the family a two-headed monster. The sexes are rather designed to complement each other by assuming God-ordained distinctive roles, and submitting to the performance of specific duties not shared by both. This division of labor according to designed predisposition and capability is wise indeed, and has served the human family well for six thousand years.

The Origin of Modern Egalitarianism

The myth of “Equality”, on the other hand, was the brainchild of a degenerate French philosopher of the so-called “Enlightenment” named Rousseau.  History has shown us its bitter fruit: the Jacobin revolution in France, famous for its “Reign of Terror”, the Bolsheviks and all their mass violations of humanity, Castro’s bloody reign that drove the Cuban people into exile, the “killing fields” of Pol Pot, and Mao’s mass slaughter of dissidents, suspected dissidents, and every believer in any god that He could get his hands on. All the unspeakable, inhuman outrages of these violent revolutions were justified by the specious pretext of “equality”.

The modern form of egalitarian, Marxism, is usually called “Socialism”, which seems innocuous; but it is the same thing as Marxism, Bolshevism, and Communism in its principles. Its adherents are still shedding blood in Socialist revolutions around the world.

Why has Egalitarianism caused so much bloodshed? Because it is rebellion against God, and that is where all rebellion tends – to the contempt of His image in our fellow-men, to self-justification and pride, to ruthlessness in the pursuit of victory and vindication and power. Radical Egalitarianism is rooted in envy and feeds on the hatred and mistrust of those placed over us by the providence of God.  It is anarchistic: it strikes out at all authority and order, except what it can itself impose. All who hate Divine Wisdom love death (Proverbs 8:36).

But quite apart from the disastrous historical record of Egalitarianism is its more immediate threat. Socialism is not dead; and we all know what evils it can produce if it gains the ascendancy in a nation. The lawless Regime under which America groans claims to be big on equality; but we see what this means: we, the people are to be equally subjected to limitless totalitarian rule. But, as in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, some of us are more equal than others. The criminals and usurpers are never bound by the laws they make up and ruthlessly impose upon the masses.

“Equality”, then, is just a specious pretext for the destruction of social order by removing the traditional and necessary authority structures that sustain society and allow it to function in a way that is beneficial to mankind. It is a tool for the abolition of any institution that might hinder it in the illegitimate acquisition and abuse and perpetuation of power. It reduces the complex social order to a mass society of atomistic individuals, stripping them of the protection of their rights by free institutions ordained by God or lawfully imposed by lawful authority.

All the havoc in society wrought by the Suffragettes, and their heirs, the modern radical Feminists, is owing to this demand for equality. Both church and family are on the brink of total collapse – and in no small part due to the ravings of these fools, who refuse to learn anything from the Bible or from history. They choose rather to revise history or to re-interpret Scripture in order to make both bow down to their their idol – their inviolable interpretive principle of “equality”.

How radical is the CBE?

If you think that my characterization is too harsh, just take a look at the website. There you will find book reviews with titles like “When Men Rule(d) the World: Confessions of a Former Patriarchalist”, How to Use Male Privilege to Create Space and Opportunities for Women in Churches”,Why Can’t Women Do That? Breaking Down the Reasons Churches Put Men in Charge”, “How God Sees Women: The End of Patriarchy”. One article is titled “Who Is Pulling Your Strings? Wisdom for Women Clergy and Leaders”.

The Manifesto

These are strong words, and to make them good, I should be able to refute their own official founders’ statement, set forth in a document called, “Men, Women and Biblical Equality”.

I first saw this “Manifesto” as a two-page paid advertisement in the pages of Christianity Today, in 1989. Now it is posted on their Internet website. The “Manifesto” (I will call it that from here on, for convenience’s sake) was removed from the front page of the CBE website and buried in some other place, after I showed them a series of articles that I had published online, refuting their claims; but the original statement is still online here. It has been translated into more than thirty languages; and is still being used to draw in the unwary. It only remains for us to compare the statements in their Manifesto with those found in the Bible to show how shallow – and indeed, without foundationis the idea that the equality of the sexes is a biblical and Christian idea.

My plan has been to go through the document part-by-part, omitting nothing from my expose. This will forestall the accusation that I am only answering their weak arguments – for I have thus been forced to deal with all. In so doing, I have created a complete handbook of the arguments for anyone who wants to study this matter in depth.

Why I Have Written This

Let me be clear at the outset: this is not an “inquiry” or an “examination” of the Manifesto, to see whether it is Scriptural or not. It is a refutation in detail of something so contradictory to commonsense, so contemptuous of the common experience and wisdom of mankind, so disdainful of our fathers in the faith and the Prophets, Apostles, and holy men that authored the Scriptures, so flagrantly insulting to the God who made us and gave us our roles in the created order; that it would be hard to name an ideology more blasphemous and destructive!

I intend, by the help of God, to so thoroughly demolish the claims of the Manifesto, that no one in his right mind can afterward read it without being struck by the fragility – nay, the lack of substance – really, the nothingness of those claims! The author or authors of the Manifesto say that they are willing to let Scripture decide the question. On that we seem to agree; but with this difference: I claim that the loci classici – the passages that speak directly and explicitly to the issues raised must determine the question; whereas the Manifesto will not allow those voices to be heard until a multitude of false witnesses have first been called in against them, and their credibility has been impeached.

The Manifesto presents an alternative method of biblical interpretation based on what they call “the totality of Scripture”. That is all they can do. They cannot defend their doctrines by appeal to the obvious teachings of the Bible, which even the simplest man can understand. They cannot appeal to the traditional teaching of a single branch of the church of Christ. They cannot even point to any nation in more than six thousand years of human history that ever made the experiment of implementing their theory of sexual equality until the Bolshevik revolution.

The Manifesto advocates an interpretive rule that is very simple and easy to understand: whenever a text of Scripture could in the remotest possibility tend to support their position, that is conclusive proof. If a Scripture plainly says something they don’t like, it must be re-interpreted.

PART 2

Full Equality”

The Preamble: First Paragraph

Let us begin, then, with the preamble, which consists of two paragraphs. The first reads:

The Bible teaches the full equality of men and women in Creation and in Redemption (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:23, 5:1-2; 1 Corinthians 11:11-12; Genesis 3:13, 28, 5:1).”

The first thing that we notice is the use of ambiguous terms, and a lack of definition. For the reader may well be puzzled by the term “full equality”. What meaneth this? Is this supposed to mean that men and women are the same in every respect? Surely not! “Full equality”, used here without qualification, would, however, seem to suggest that there are no differences at all in the origins, natures, roles, capabilities, or status of men and women. That is a preposterous claim; but if that is not what is intended, then different language should have been used.

What is needed is language that will distinguish those aspects of human nature that are the same in men and women from those that are not. This would not have been difficult to do, had the authors of this document wished to do so. Their vagueness may be related, however, to their agenda, which is to assert equality of status or rank – “political” equality, if you will – and to simultaneously de-emphasize the differences between the sexes, whose existence tends to support the idea of differing status and sex roles. To assert that the Bible teaches a broad, “full equality” between the sexes would hardly be credible; but this studied vagueness helps to create confusion of categories, and thus hide the real intent from the insufficiently alert reader. In other words, when they say “full equality”, they don’t really mean it. This is propaganda, and should not be mistaken for serious theology; despite the biblical veneer and the proof-texts.

It will hardly clear things up if we read the rest of the sentence. For what is the meaning of “full equality… in Creation”? Again, this is very vague! Will anyone pretend that there are no differences in the biblical account of the way men and women were created, the Divinely-appointed circumstances of their separate creations? Or will anyone claim that men and women are physically identical? Or that they function identically in all respects – physically, emotionally, and mentally? For nothing less will suffice to warrant the term “full equality” in connection with the word “creation”.

There is not much help in the next clause “full equality… in redemption”, either. To be sure, both men and women are redeemed in exactly the same way, by the same priceless blood of Christ. The atonement applies equally to all classes of humankind. Is that all that is meant here? Then how is it germane to the premise? No, once again, we must keep in mind the agenda, which is to justify the abolition of any sex-based restrictions on women in any sphere. This is merely a ruse to open the doors that God has shut so firmly against them. What the words fairly mean is not what they want the reader to think when he reads them. They want to pretend that “full equality in Redemption” somehow means that redemption means a cancellation of sex roles and sex-based distinctions; because they want to find some way to get around the scriptural prohibition against women abandoning the home, speaking in church, appearing before God uncovered, preaching to mixed audiences, and becoming officers in church and state.

This is not a mistaken interpretation of holy Scripture — it is an intentional turning of things upside down for their advantage. Like all radical revolutionaries, they are dishonest. They cloak their intention under fair words, and manipulate – rather than reason and persuade – the minds of their hearers. Mixing Egalitarian ideology and Christian doctrine is like mixing oil and water: they cannot be made to cohere. So it is of the first importance that they be made to seem compatible by means of obscuration – in other words, “smoke and mirrors”.

Now, to the proof texts. Since the Manifesto has failed to furnish us with an unambiguous definition of their position at this point, it is of course impossible to say for sure exactly what the texts are supposed to be proving. But since their agenda is clear, we will not hesitate to examine the texts to see if there is anything in them to support the new dogma of sexual equality. And we begin with Genesis 1:26-28, a favorite with feminists; but unfortunately for them, no real proof of their position:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

As to “full equality”, we find here neither the word nor the thing. The subject is not discussed. Man and woman are made in the image of God, but that does not eliminate all the God-created differences between the sexes. It does not make woman equal to man in status or rank, nor does it mean that they share the identical role. That she is intended to share in the dominion (as a Queen with her King), and in the overall task assigned to him (as his helper) does not make her his equal.

Next we come to Genesis 2:23. It will help if we also quote v. 24 as well:

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

But there is no mention of equality here, and no evidence of equality, either. The expression, “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” does not imply equality, but oneness. Adam is saying that she is a part of him – that they are “one flesh”, as v.24 declares. He recognizes that she is both like, and unlike, himself . So he calls her – not man (Hebrew, Ish), which would imply full equality, but – woman (Hebrew, Isha), which is the feminine form of the word, indicating the difference in sex.

We commonly refer to our children as our “own flesh and blood”; but that does not mean that they are equal to us – only that they are our own natural children. As Paul says, a child “differeth nothing from a servant” (Galatians 4:1), because he is completely subject to his parents.

In fact, the text highlights the fact that Adam was the source of Eve’s being; so how could he ever be merely her equal partner? The clear meaning of the revelatory Divine act by which Eve first began to be, as interpreted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:7-10, is that man is endowed with a dignity and authority that woman does not possess. This is confirmed by the fact that he has the authority to name her, as he does here, before the fall, with her generic name (woman); and as he does again in 3:20, after the fall, with her personal name (Eve). Only someone with authority over a thing (or person) can rightfully choose its name.

Next, Genesis 5:1-2:

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.”

What there is here to justify the claim of equality escapes me. We have already discussed the significance of the fact that both male and female were made in the image and likeness of God. All that remains to discuss is the phrase, “and called their name Adam”. But what, you say, has this to do with sexual equality? Good question. But before the answer, a few notes on the translation are needed.

First, it is probable that the first sentence belongs with the previous chapter, and is a tolodeth that identifies the book that comprises the previous three chapters of Genesis as Adam’s personal history. Similarly, the words in Genesis 2:4 comprise a tolodeth that marks the proper end of the creation account which begins at 1:1. This view is argued persuasively in The Genesis Record, by Dr. Henry Morris.

Second, verse 1 of chapter 5, if the above premise is correct, is only the second instance (the first being at 4:25) of the word “Adam” used as a personal name. Before that time, when he is mentioned, he is the only man, and therefore is referred to as simply, “the man”. He is there uniformly spoken of as “the man” (ho adam); and “man” (adam), without the article, is uniformly used generically.

Third, the Hebrew word, adam, is usually translated “man”, and should be here in 5:2 as well; for God is naming the species, inclusive of male and female – or, in other words, “mankind”. It seems more reasonable, therefore, to render the phrase in question, “and called their name ‘man‘”.

Hence, the meaning of that phrase is that Adam, before Eve was created, had already received from God the generic name of “man”. This is supported by the fact that God had said, prior to his creation, “Let us make man…”; and in fulfillment of this, we read “So God created the man…” And since there is no record of God extending that name to Eve after she was created, it is reasonable to understand that she inherited the name from Adam, just as his children would, because she was of the same kind. Adam, in the day he was created, was mankind, and all the rest of mankind – including Eve – came from him.

This argues inequality. There is surely a connection between the fact that God is everywhere in Scripture represented as masculine, the fact that the Divine Son, the image of God, assumed a masculine nature, and the fact that His first created image was a man – not a woman. It would not be incorrect to say that Adam was distinguished from Eve as the more “God-like” of the two.

Next, we must consider 1 Corinthians 11:11-12:

Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.”

Having already referred to the preceding verses above, the reader should easily see that these verses are not proof of equality. The opposite is true: these truths are spoken for two practical reasons: first as a consolation to woman, lest she be downcast, because it has been so strongly stated before (11:4, 7-10) that man is over the woman; and second, because men are apt to go too far, and to abuse their authority, unless some check is offered to their vanity. Men need to be properly appreciative of women, and to recognize that any superiority they may have comes from God. These considerations, which are given parenthetically, cannot properly be used to deny what is taught in the preceding or the succeeding context.

Then there’s Galatians 3:13:

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:”

Feminists use this verse in connection with the claim that woman was originally free from man’s authority, but was reduced to subjection as a penalty of Eve’s sin. They abuse it to teach that Christ has reversed the “curse” of being under male authority, thus restoring the original equality of the sexes. But this verse plainly has no color of relevance to the subject at hand. As the context shows, the “curse of the law” under discussion is that which brings eternal death on lawbreakers. Bear in mind the intimate connection of verse 13 with verse 10:

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”

Verses 11 and 12 discuss justification from the curse. And in verse 13, we have Christ “hanging on a tree” (the crucifixion) to redeem us from this curse. I repeat – this has nothing to do with some supposed “restoration” of the claimed “original equality” of the sexes. The eternal “curse of the law” (the soul that sinneth, it shall die) is not to be confused with the temporal curse pronounced on Eve after the fall, “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”. Experience tells us that this dynamic is still all too prevalent. Will anyone dare try and persuade a woman in labor that the curse on childbearing has been removed by the death of Christ? Why not, if the other has been? So this verse has nothing to do with the subject in hand. Redemption will eventually reverse these curses – but not yet. In any event, as we have already shown, Adam’s authority over Eve is not founded in any curse, but in the original created order before the fall.

And Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

But let’s look at it in context with verses 26-29:

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

At last we come to the most popular egalitarian proof-text! But what does it really say? Does it say that Jews now cease to be Jews? That Greeks are no longer Greeks, slaves are no longer slaves, or freemen no longer free? Does it say that males and females are now neutered? Of course not! It merely says that those outward distinctions that restricted access to the typical presence of God under Mosaic Judaism no longer obtain; that the status of children and access to God are conditioned upon faith in Christ alone. Parallel statements are found in 1 Corinthians 12:13 and Colossians 3:11, with the difference that “there is neither male nor female” only appears here in Galatians 3.

The text has nothing to do with the abolition of sex roles. In context, it has nothing to say about the social order. To make it into a statement of male and female equality, one would also have to say that it abolishes bond-servitude; contradicting Paul’s strong and explicit teaching elsewhere. Paul recognized the master/slave relationship as valid and lawful, returning the runaway slave, Onesimus, to his master, Philemon. He taught that slaves are to be content in that role, and to serve their masters in the fear of God; while masters are to be just to their slaves, remembering that they have a Master in heaven. (1 Corinthians 7:20-24; Ephesians 6:6-9; Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Timothy 6:1-5; Titus 2:9-10)

And last of all, Galatians 5:1. But we’ll look at it in context, verses 1-6:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”

The subject is the necessity of circumcision for Gentiles, and Paul says that if you are circumcised in the hope of being justified by the law, then you will have missed Christ and salvation. There is not a hint that this text bears on the subject of sexual equality.

So there you have it! Definitions that don’t define and proof texts that fail to prove. It must be remembered that these are their strongest proof-texts. If this is the best they can do, what need is there to read any further? Nevertheless I will examine in detail the second paragraph of the Preamble, which is meant to define their position on holy Scripture.

PART 3

Undermining Biblical Authority

The Preamble: Second Paragraph

The second paragraph of the preamble is a statement of CBE’s view of holy Scripture. As we have observed before, lucidity is not the strong suit of this document. Accordingly, we find in it a weak, ambiguous, and misleading statement on Scripture authority and interpretation:

The Bible teaches that God has revealed Himself in the totality of Scripture, the authoritative Word of God (Matthew 5:18; John 10:35; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). We believe that Scripture is to be interpreted holistically and thematically. We also recognize the necessity of making a distinction between inspiration and interpretation: inspiration relates to the divine impulse and control whereby the whole canonical Scripture is the Word of God; interpretation relates to the human activity whereby we seek to apprehend revealed truth in harmony with the totality of Scripture and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. To be truly biblical, Christians must continually examine their faith and practice under the searchlight of Scripture.

Concerning Scripture itself, we find none of those good old strong terms used by orthodox Protestant theologians: “verbal plenary inspiration”, “infallibility”, or even the more modern (and considerably weaker) “inerrancy”. The statement says that the Bible is “God’s word”, in some sense; that it is in some way “inspired”, that it has some authority; nothing more.

Now, the theologically astute know what this means. All the terms used here have been used before by theological Liberals to disguise their unbelief of God’s holy word. In a public declaration like this, the omission of more robust terms must be presumed to be by design. In a day when most theologians and preachers openly admit that they believe Scripture to be a merely human production, full of errors and prejudices introduced by “primitive” man; in a day when a man can be considered conservative and orthodox, even though he believes that the Bible we have today is very different from the Bible as it was penned; in a day when we are told that dumbing down the Bible is a practical necessity – even if the meaning is substantially altered in the process; in such a time, a weak statement on Scripture such as this can only mean one thing: its authors and subscribers have no intention of denying the modern errors, either because they agree with them, or (which is practically the same thing) they think such matters unimportant. There is nothing in the terms chosen to lead the reader to believe otherwise.

Likewise, concerning interpretation, new and undefined terms like “holistic” and “thematic” take the place of traditional terms descriptive of Protestant hermeneutical methodology: “grammatical”, “normal”, “literal”, “historical”, “contextual”.

Remembering that the point of this whole document is to invalidate the traditional interpretation of many texts, and to substitute novelties that would never have been imagined by unbiased readers, we can discern some of the reasons why this statement has taken the form it has.

For example, the use of the phrase “the totality of Scripture”, used twice in this paragraph, is commonly used to appeal to some supposed “tenor” of Scripture against the plain sense of particular texts. Here, we read not that God has revealed Himself in every word of Scripture; but that He has revealed Himself in its “totality”. Egalitarians, used to reading Scripture with their biases, truly think that the Bible is an egalitarian book. They interpret every passage in the light of their prejudices, and so when they come to what they call a “problem passage” (by which they mean a passage which does not “fit” their views) they evade its plain grammatical sense by an appeal to “the totality of Scripture”. We will see instances of this in this document as we proceed.

The same idea appears in their definition of inspiration, which says that “inspiration relates to the divine impulse and control whereby the whole canonical Scripture is the Word of God”. This sounds like an endorsement of plenary (full) inspiration; but in reality it is something quite different; for plenary inspiration in the orthodox sense means that every word is inspired, which this statement fails to affirm.

Again, we read that Scripture is to be interpreted “wholistically”. This may seem like the Protestant principle of “the analogy of faith” championed by Calvin. Obviously, Scripture must be interpreted in light of the presupposition of its own consistency. But “wholistic” interpretation turns out to be a back door that allows subjectivity to enter into the hermeneutical process.

This paragraph is not just a gratuitous recitation of commonplace truths. It is double-tongued, saying one thing to the initiated, who know the “code”; and something else to the naive and unsuspecting outsider, who will probably interpret it in an evangelical sense out of charity. Why stress something so obvious as the distinction between inspiration and interpretation? Because to them it means this:

The traditionalists think that their interpretation is inspired, and that it can’t be wrong, just because it has held sway so long. But they do not understand how to interpret correctly (as we do). And they don’t appreciate that every human interpretation is fallible and tentative (except ours).”

PART 4

The Created Order

Biblical Truths: Creation

We have hitherto addressed issues raised within the document’s preamble. The next section is called “Biblical Truths”, and contains 12 points arranged under 4 heads as follows:

Creation Points 1-5

Redemption Point 6

Community Points 7-10

Family Points 11-12

I shall direct my remarks this time to the five points under the first of these heads. The overall picture is clear. According to this statement, the universally accepted understanding of “sex roles” by the Christian church, from earliest times until now, was wrong. Adam and Eve were created as equals in every respect, and Eve was only placed under Adam’s authority after the fall. From there, it is but a short step to affirming that redemption has undone this result of the fall, making the Christian woman fully equal again; and therefore as fully qualified for every function and office in church and state as men are. In order to reach the desired conclusion, the Scriptural data must be stretched in some places, trimmed in others, and much of it ignored altogether. This part of the statement attempts then, to reconcile feminism with the Bible.

Point 1. “The Bible teaches that both man and woman were created in God’s image, had a direct relationship with God, and shared jointly the responsibilities of bearing and rearing children and having dominion over the created order (Genesis 1:26-28).”

We begin with the truism that man and woman both were created in the image of God, citing Genesis 1:26-28. Now this would pass well enough as a general statement, but it is not what the Bible actually says. It needs considerable qualification if proper balance is to be given to all aspects of the truth. For what the Bible really says is that God created “the man” (ho adom) in God’s image – not the woman. The woman was made from man, and is his image and glory, as man is God’s (1 Corinthians 11:7). She bears God’s image – it is true – but in a derivative and secondary sense. She is like to man, yet unlike. She is not his equal, but a subordinate, created to assist him in his calling.

Next, we must consider the assertion that man and woman both at first had “a direct relationship with God”. Where is the evidence for this? Adam was made first, and given the prohibition regarding the tree before Eve was created. He must then have communicated this crucial information to Eve. He was therefore to that extent a mediator between God and the woman. He names her, acting as God’s agent. Once again, the man stands in a direct relation to God, and the woman receives instructions from him that have divine authority for her. The assertion of equality is false.

I have often called attention in my writings to the fact that the so-called “creation mandate” is not a mandate, but a benediction. As such, it has nothing to say about the specific responsibilities of the man or the woman, or the division of responsibilities between them, because it is not about responsibility, but about the blessing of fruitfulness and the successful propagation of the human family until the earth is filled with men. God is to be seen here as granting their natural desire to have a numerous and prosperous offspring, rather than as imposing responsibilities upon them. But after all, even if we grant the premise that God was laying a task upon them for which they would be jointly responsible, it would not demonstrate an equality of gifting, of functions, or of rank between them. For the members of a military unit, consisting of a hierarchy or chain of command, all share in the responsibility to complete their mission, but not equally.

Point 2. “The Bible teaches that woman and man were created for full and equal partnership. The word “helper” (ezer), used to designate woman in Genesis 2:18, refers to God in most instances of Old Testament usage (e.g. 1 Sam 7:12; Ps 121:1-2). Consequently the word conveys no implication whatsoever of female subordination or inferiority.”

The next point is the bare assertion of “full equality”, followed by an argument that falls short of proving it. For the fact that ezer does not always imply subordination does not settle the matter in question. The argument would have substance only if it could be proved that an ezer is never a subordinate. As any interpreter knows, it does not matter how a word is used most commonly; but only how it is used in each particular context that counts. However often God may be said to be one’s helper, it does not change the fact that He does not descend to equality with man in so doing.

However, the case of Eve is very different. Genesis 2:18 reads as follows in the A.V.:

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”

I am not a Hebraist; but I can make use of the language tools that are accessible to all. From this I learn that there are three Hebrew words in the last clause of verse 18: aw-saw'(I will make), e’zer (him an help) and neh’ghed (meet for him).

God here states that the reason for making the woman was entirely for the benefit of the man; and that the role which she had been designed to play was to be not an e’zer merely, but an e’zer neh’ghed. Her life was to be defined in terms of relationship to him – not as his equal; but as a helper created to be subordinate to him and his needs.

Paul says the same thing: “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” (1 Corinthians 11:7-9)

So when Eve is called a helper for man, her subordination is implied. For God does not exist for the purpose of helping anyone; whereas Eve was made for the stated purpose of being Adam’s helper. In other words, God is not defined by the term, helper; but Eve is thereby defined.

Now, to draw a conclusion from the occurrence of one word, interpreting it in a manner which does not meet the demands of the context must be due to either ignorance, carelessness, or an intent to deceive. In any case, it must not be allowed to go unchallenged.

Point 3. “The Bible teaches that the forming of woman from man demonstrates the fundamental unity and equality of human beings (Genesis 2:21-23). In Genesis 2:18, 20 the word “suitable” (kenegdo) denotes equality and adequacy.”

Again we have the assertion that the Bible teaches something, but not a shred of proof that it does teach it. This argument could only persuade someone already predisposed to believe in the myth of equality. Here is the argument: “The forming of woman from man demonstrates the fundamental unity and equality of human beings.” The citation of Genesis 2:21-23 adds nothing to the assertion, for it is only a reference to the account, which teaches no such thing. It is sufficient for my purpose to call attention to the fact that the inspired apostle drew from the same account the opposite conclusion (1 Corinthians 11:7-9, I Timothy 2:11-13), arguing from that inequality that women should cover their heads and be subordinate to men. It is true that man and woman in marriage are one flesh, but they are one in a sense consistent with inequality.

As for the word neh’ghed, translated “meet for him” in the AV, the idea of similarity is included in it, but not equality. Literally, it means “before”, and the range of meanings is broad. The key idea is that of relationship. Eve was to be defined by her relationship to Adam as his counterpart. She is to be his reflected image. John Gill, reputed to be one of the greatest Hebrew scholars of his or any other time, discusses the meaning of the word in context:

I will make him an help meet for him; one to help him in all the affairs of life, not only for the propagation of his species, but to provide things useful and comfortable for him; to dress his food, and take care of the affairs of the family; one “like himself” in nature, temper, and disposition, in form and shape; or one “as before him” that would be pleasing to his sight, and with whom he might delightfully converse, and be in all respects agreeable to him, and entirely answerable to his case and circumstances, his wants and wishes.”

Point 4. “The Bible teaches that man and woman were co-participants in the Fall: Adam was no less culpable than Eve (Genesis 3:6; Rom 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).”

This is not only untrue, but irrelevant. Both Adam and Eve sinned, and both fell, but nothing could be more illustrative of the fundamental inequality of the sexes than the account of the fall. Satan concentrated on Eve, whom he knew to be the weaker vessel, and the more easily deceived (as much as Satan tries to persuade us that there are no significant differences between the sexes, he knows and makes use of his knowledge of those differences every day). She was seduced by being urged to take the initiative, independent of God’s authority and her husband’s. The fruit also appealed to her on a sensual level. Adam was tempted in a different way. He was not deceived, but he failed to accept responsibility for the decision, allowing his wife to get into trouble before acting, and then following her lead into sin with his eyes open.

It cannot be proved that they were equally culpable. Adam’s fall was more significant in the sense that the fate of the race was tied to his own. But Eve’s fall was prior, and the occasion of Adam’s, as Paul reminds us (I Timothy 2:14). Where does the Scripture say that they shared the blame equally? Nowhere. But what if it did? There is no necessary logical connection between equal culpability (if such a term has meaning) and equal status.

Point 5. “The Bible teaches that the rulership of Adam over Eve resulted from the Fall and was therefore not a part of the original created order. Genesis 3:16 is a prediction of the effects of the Fall rather than a prescription of God’s ideal order.”

This point has a grain of truth in it: the words, “He shall rule over thee” do not describe “God’s ideal order”. But this is not a mere passive description of what would happen: it is a penalty – a part of the curse that fell on Eve for her disobedience – namely, that man would now abuse his rightful authority over woman. God intended that she would come to see that, by seducing her husband into sin, she had brought upon herself no end of trouble.

Upon reading the CBE statement, one feels like saying, “Is this all? Have they no better case than this?” He who defends a bad cause must use bad arguments. There are no good arguments for sexual equality. Everything in the Bible presupposes inequality. Hence, to abuse holy writ for the sake of defending a lie, as this document does, is irreverent, sacrilegious, and presumptuous.

We have here a classic case of Scripture-twisting: trying to make the Bible somehow say the opposite of what it explicitly teaches by appealing to verses out of context, or pouring modern assumptions into words that were never meant to bear them. To commit such outrages upon the holy word of God argues great stubbornness and hardness of heart. Such persons will never be won by mere reasoning from the Scriptures. A change of heart is needed, which only God can give.

PART 5

What is Woman Redeemed From?

Biblical Truths: Redemption

Point 6. “The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ came to redeem women as well as men. Through faith in Christ we all become children of God, one in Christ, and heirs to the blessings of salvation without reference to racial, social, or gender distinctives (John 1:12–13; Rom 8:14–17; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:26–28).“

On the surface, this article contains nothing that any Christian could disagree with. Who does not know that “Jesus Christ came to redeem women as well as men”? Who doubts that “Through faith in Christ we all become children of God, one in Christ, and heirs to the blessings of salvation without reference to racial, social, or gender distinctives”? So that one may wonder why it is even here.

But the feminists are building their case, brick by brick. To them, it is significant that both women and men are redeemed; because this shows that there is no difference between men and women anymore. What are women redeemed from? The curse of subjection to men! That the passages they quote have to do with redemption from our bondage to sin does not seem to bother them.

The key to understanding their abuse of these Scriptures is in the last citation, which is one of the most popular and most often insisted upon by Feminists:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)”

But if the gospel frees women from male authority, and bondservants from their masters, then from whom does it redeem men? Since men as well as women are redeemed; then it would seem to follow that men are also redeemed from whatever authority has been imposed upon them. Any sane person will reject this anarchist position. But it follows from their misinterpretation of Galatians 3:28. And I am bold to say that, since it does not free men from the authority of their rulers, neither does it free bondservants from their masters, or women from the authority of men.

This verse has nothing to do with our social relations or positions. The gospel does not affect these things at all. If these relations were lawful before Christ came, then they are lawful afterwards, for Christ said that He did not come to abolish the moral law revealed through Moses (Matthew 5:17-18).

As for bond-service, we have the clearest proof that Paul did not consider the institution to be immoral. He wrote to the Corinthians the following directions:

Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.” (1 Corinthians 7:20-24)

So much for the gospel setting the bond-servant free! That it is bond-servants in view is proved by the words, “if thou mayest be made free”. Only one in bondage can be made free. As a Christian bond-servant, he is spiritually redeemed, not manumitted. He must still fulfill the obligations that accord with his station in life. He is not to run away; but if he can be lawfully set free – say, by paying a price (Acts 22:28) – then he should do so. Freedom is an asset, but not a necessity, in the service of Christ. And the gospel is not intended to destroy the structure of society; which it would have done, if every Christian servant in the first century had claimed a right to freedom, and had abandoned his position!

In just the same way, redemption, in the case of a woman, does not mean that she is freed from her husband’s authority. It does not mean that she has, or ought to have, equal status with her husband in the family, or equality with men in the church, or the community. There is no place in Scripture which teaches that a woman is now made free from her husband’s lawful authority. These Feminists claim that the rule of men over women is a part of the curse which was announced to Eve after the first transgression, which the gospel reverses. There are two misunderstandings here:

First, that Adam was not placed in authority over Eve in the original Divine order.

Second, that the curse was lifted when Jesus Christ redeemed us. Both of these matters were discussed in Part 1 of this series.

We see the word “leadership” substituted for “rule”, “headship”, governance“, or any other word that represents authority throughout this document. The claim is made that the only right which man had to rule over woman was a part of the curse, and before the coming of Christ. He is not to bear rule now; but only lead. But the New Testament does not teach this. A woman is not only under her husband’s leadership; but under his rule. The elders of the churches do not merely lead the churches: they rule over them. This is a good old word that has virtually fallen out of use in modern English. It is a Bible word. Here are some proof texts:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1Timothy 3:2, 4-5)

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. (1 Corinthians 14:34)”

Let us look at the curse which they claim has been reversed; for if any part of the curse is still in effect, then the whole must be:

Genesis 3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

First, there is a curse on the serpent. That this is not a curse on the animal kind called “snakes” is proved by verse 15, which can only mean Satan. The serpent was the innocent victim of the Evil One who possessed him. The point is that the Wicked One was cursed to go about “on his belly” like the snake that he had chosen for his malicious scheme. He was to experience increasing humiliation from that day forward:

First, he failed to utterly ruin mankind; for God in His mercy redeemed Adam and Eve; and many of their numerous progeny would be saved through “the seed of the woman” who would “crush his head”. He failed to destroy any of the elect. He will fail to hold on to the power he now has in the world. And he will finally be utterly defeated when Jesus Christ commands that he be cast into the lake of fire!

Is Satan still under this curse? It has not been removed yet, for we read in the New Testament, “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly…” (Rom 16:20a) Christ is the seed of the woman and of Abraham and of David. And all the spiritual seed of Christ – all who believe in Him – are the seed to whom the promises apply. We shall walk on him ourselves (Luke 10:19), and the Lord Jesus will personally “crush His head”, and finish him off. Satan is still accursed. Why would the curse on Him be lifted? Christ did not die for Him.

Next, we come to the curse on the woman. John Gill explains this much better than I could:

I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception, or ‘thy sorrow of thy conception’, or rather ‘of thy pregnancy’; since not pain but pleasure is perceived in conception, and besides is a blessing; but this takes in all griefs and sorrows, disorders and pains, from the time of conception or pregnancy, unto the birth; such as a nausea, a loathing of food, dizziness, pains in the head and teeth, faintings and swoonings, danger of miscarriage, and many distresses in such a case; besides the trouble of bearing such a burden, especially when it grows heavy: and when it is said, ‘I will greatly multiply’, or ‘multiplying I will multiply’, it not only denotes the certainty of it, but the many and great sorrows endured, and the frequent repetitions of them, by often conceiving, bearing, and bringing forth:

in sorrow shall thou bring forth children, sons and daughters, with many severe pangs and sharp pains, which are so very acute, that great tribulations and afflictions are often in Scripture set forth by them: and it is remarked by naturalists, that women bring forth their young with more pain than any other creature:

and thy desire shall be to thy husband, which some understand of her desire to the use of the marriage bed, as Jarchi, and even notwithstanding her sorrows and pains in child bearing; but rather this is to be understood of her being solely at the will and pleasure of her husband; that whatever she desired should be referred to him, whether she should have her desire or not, or the thing she desired; it should be liable to be controlled by his will, which must determine it, and to which she must be subject…

and he shall rule over thee, with less kindness and gentleness, with more rigour and strictness… the subjection of her to him was more pleasant and agreeable than now it would be; and this was her chastisement, because she did not ask advice of her husband about eating the fruit, but did it of herself, without his will and consent, and tempted him to do the same.”

Finally, the curse on the man was pronounced:

Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

The effects of the curse on the ground can still be seen. It is hard work to raise crops, especially with the simple tools of ancient times. Weeds must be dealt with, and insects and other animals will eat as much as they can get of the ripe fruit. Blights and diseases will destroy their share. The farmer, and even the raiser of cattle must deal with all kinds of problems and discouragements that did not exist in Eden. The curse on the ground, on man’s labor is still in effect. Here is what Paul says:

For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Rom 8:19-21)

The creature” in this context means the lower creation: what we call “nature”. It is not the sons of God, the new creatures in Christ; for there is a patent distinction between it and them. Nature “was made subject to vanity”, that is, cursed for the sake of man’s sin. It is now in the bondage of corruption, but it will be delivered when the sons of God are manifestedat the return of Christ. (see 1 John 3:2; Colossians 3:4) The curse remains in effect.

The curses will never end until Jesus comes again and creates a new heaven and a new earth, in which the glory, peace and perfection of Eden will be restored.

I have digressed from our subject to show that the curse pronounced in Eden was not removed from woman at the first coming of Christ. Like all the other curses of Genesis 3, it remains in effect. So that, even if I were to grant that the subjection of woman to man’s authority was because of the curse laid upon her after the fall; since that curse has not been revoked, she remains under his authority today.

PART 6

Should Women be church Officers?

Biblical Truths: Community

This section, which includes points 7-10, attempts to prove from the Bible that women can and ought to be deacons, elders and preachers. It begins:

Point 7. “The Bible teaches that at Pentecost the Holy Spirit came on men and women alike. Without distinction, the Holy Spirit indwells women and men, and sovereignly distributes gifts without preference as to gender (Acts 2:1–21; 1 Corinthians 12:7, 11, 14:31).”

The key phrase is “without preference as to gender”. But the proof texts do not support this. Just because women have the Holy Spirit and gifts of the Spirit does not mean that He gives the gifts of the Spirit without reference to the sex of the recipient. Elders and deacons must be men, or they could not be required to be “the husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2,12; Ti 1:6) so there is no reason to suppose that women are ever given the gift of government in the church. Moreover, the clear and full instructions of Paul, which the feminists want to hide from our view, preclude any woman from even speaking in the meetings of the church. How then can they be officers? It is absurd.

It is unfortunate for them that they extract a text from 1 Corinthians 14; for it draws attention to a part of Scripture that they would be advised to stay away from, as we shall see. Verse 31 reads:

For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.”

Notice the word, “all” which occurs three times. Paul uses the word, “all”, so (they say) it means women as well as men may prophesy in the church. But the word “all” should always be interpreted in the light of its context. After his completion of the instructions on the use of public gifts in the church, Paul immediately follows with the words:

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)

The meaning of this is obvious. Lest anyone think that he was using the word, “all” (Gr. pas) in verse 31 in a sense that includes females, he states in clear, forceful, and unequivocal language a universal prohibition of women engaging in any of the activities discussed in verses 26-33. The expression “Let your women” implies that the men of the church are to govern their women, and to keep them from speaking. This is a clear proof of the inequality of the sexes.

The force of this passage is remarkable. Notice the repetition of the same command in three ways, to avoid any possible misunderstanding:

Let your women keep silence in the churches:

for it is not permitted unto them to speak;

but they are commanded to be under obedience

A further argument, and a powerful one, is contained in the words,“as also saith the law”. Two truths can be inferred from this phrase. The first is, that the moral law of the Old Testament is still in force. If this were not true, then the argument from its authority would fail. Second, the law speaks to this issue, or else Paul would never use it in this controversy. Where does the law say that women are to be subordinate to men? In every institution of the law of Moses, women are implicitly placed under male authority. Hebrew culture was consistently patriarchal.

But specifically, I believe that he has reference to his previous discussion of the subject in Chapter 11 of this same epistle, in which his doctrine of the superior status of men is based on the Genesis account of the creation of man and woman. One thing is certain: if Paul tells us that the law supports his teaching, then it does. He is an inspired apostle, giving normative teaching for all the churches.

Then, the women are told:

And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home“

Does this need explanation?

Finally, they are warned that the violation of this rule would be a “shame”. The word is stronger in the original. It is equivalent to “an abomination”.

for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

It would be impossible to overturn the commandment contained in these two verses. It is a signpost set deep in the ground with cement. It was put there to guide travelers surely in the right path. Any one who says that the whole tenor of Scripture runs counter to the interpretation I have found, self-contained in these verses, is simply wrong. This plain, natural, grammatical interpretation cannot be overthrown by any sophistry that man can devise. And it destroys the whole foundation and superstructure of so-called “Christian feminism”!

But there is more! Paul is not finished. Knowing the hardness of the human heart; and especially the tendency in women to usurp authority over the man, he gives a stinging rebuke intended for anyone who would presume to reject his teaching:

What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man (anyone) think himself (or herself) to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him (or her) acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (verses 36-38)

The parenthetical words indicate that the neuter gender is used in these places. He is not only rebuking men, but women as well.

Listen to the word of God, you Scripture twisters! Repent of your stubborn resistance to its plain truth! Christian feminism, like all egalitarian dogmas, was born in Hell, invented for the purpose of overturning the God-ordained order of church and society. There is no truth whatever in the assertion that God distributes His gifts without respect to sex!

PART 7

Women and the Ministry Gifts

Biblical Truth: Community

Point 8. “The Bible teaches that both women and men are called to develop their spiritual gifts and to use them as stewards of the grace of God (1 Peter 4:10–11). Both men and women are divinely gifted and empowered to minister to the whole Body of Christ, under His authority (Acts 1:14, 18:26, 21:9; Rom 16:1–7, 12–13, 15; Phil 4:2–3; Colossians 4:15; see also Mark 15:40–41, 16:1–7; Luke 8:1–3; John 20:17–18; compare also Old Testament examples: Judges 4:4–14, 5:7; 2 Chronicles 34:22–28; Proverbs 31:30–31; Micah 6:4).”

Once again, undeniable truth is used to support error. The first statement is perfectly accurate. The second is, however, demonstrably false. The author’s case is so weak, that he finds it necessary to overwhelm us with the sheer number of his proof-texts, in a show of strength. The problem is its declaration that “women are divinely gifted and empowered to minister to the whole Body of Christ”. This might seem innocent; but what it is really saying is that it is proper and orderly for women to be called to be preachers and officers in the church. This analysis will be confirmed by the choice of proof-texts, and in the rest of the document.

I have gone through all of these, one by one, and summarized the relevant contents of each:

1 Peter 4:10–11 We are admonished to use our gifts for God’s glory.

Acts 1:14 Women were present in the upper room when the apostles prayed.

18:26 Aquila and Priscilla took Apollos to their home, where they updated him (for he only knew of John’s baptism) concerning the one that John had introduced to the world: Jesus, his ministry, death and resurrection.

21:9 Philip had four daughters who may have had the gift of prophecy. But the text only says that they “prophesied”. This might be understood of the ordinary setting forth of God’s word which all believers are encouraged to do.

Rom 16:1–7 The church at Rome is exhorted to receive Phoebe with honor, and to assist her in whatever business she came to Rome for.

12–13 They are to greet Aquila and Priscilla for him.

15 They are to salute the sister of Nerius.

Phil 4:2-3 Paul calls on two women in the church who were at odds to be reconciled, and mention is made of “those women which laboured with me (Paul) in the gospel.

Col 4:15 Mention is made of a person named Nymphas, of whom John Gill says “And Nymphas’; which some, unskilful in the Greek language, have took for a woman.”

Mark 15:40–41 “There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.” This is a list of the women who had ministered unto Jesus.

16:1–7 Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Jesus’ body.

Luke 8:1–3 List of the principal women who traveled with Jesus and “ministered unto him of their substance.”

John 20:17–18 “Jesus saith unto her, ‘go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.’ Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.”

Judg 4:4–14 The unusual case of Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, who judged Israel. In a time of spiritual declension, when men had become dissolute and cowardly, God used a woman to deliver them, and at the same time to shame them. See Judges 4:6-9.

5:7 Deborah’s song of triumph, in which she calls herself “a mother in Israel”.

2 Chr 34:22–28 In a time when Manasseh’s son Amon had all but eradicated the true religion from Israel, a single copy of the book of the law is discovered; and the new king, Josiah, alarmed at the judgment which he saw must come upon Israel for their sins, sends to the prophetess Huldah for advice. She prophesies the destruction of Jerusalem. Another exceptional case that proves the rule.

Prov 31:30–31 The God-fearing woman is highly praised.

Micah 6:4 “For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.” Miriam is best known for her song of triumph after the crossing of the Red Sea, which she taught to the women of Israel, and led them in singing. We do not know what else she may have done, until she rebuked Moses and was afflicted with leprosy for seven days. Neither she nor Aaron were equal to Moses, but she was a woman, subordinate to both her brothers, so the sin was greater, and accordingly, she was punished.

No one should diminish the important – really, the indispensable – role that godly women have played in the church throughout history. All honor to those Hebrew and Christian mothers who brought up so many godly sons and daughters by their faithfulness; laboring often without recognition or appreciation! All honor to those wives who made their husbands better men by their diligence to make their homes havens from the world – places of comfort, of beauty and sweet companionship! All honor to those women who spent themselves and their substance supporting the ministries of men who were called of God and ordained to preach the gospel! All honor to those women who opened their hearts and their homes to the poor, making sure that they had something to wear and to eat, and giving them hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Nevertheless, one cannot help but feel that these “proof-texts” have been assembled to give credibility to the notion that woman is on the level of man in all this. But the attempt fails, because the Scripture emphatically opposes it. That ship founders on the rock of 1 Corinthians 14:36 ff and other Scriptures that we will look at later. It is useless to collect a long string of verses that do not teach what the Feminists claim that they do. There is not a shred of evidence that women deacons or elders or evangelists belong to the normal order of things. Two women prophets appear in the Old Testament; and they both arose because the times were so bad that there were no men of the character that was requisite for a man of God. It is significant that no male prophets are mentioned in the records of those times of national apostasy.

Later, a woman of infamy (Jezebel) will to all intents and purposes bear rule over the Northern kingdom, usurping the authority of her husband, and instituting the worship of Baal. Meanwhile, In the Southern kingdom, a woman (Athaliah) will kill all the royal seed of Israel and usurp that throne. Neither one ended well; but in the meantime, it was a great humiliation to Judah and to Israel to be ruled by women. It signaled God’s great displeasure. No man wants to be placed in that position; for we all know instinctively that it is a humiliation, and against nature. Other than these two, Israel never had a queen that ruled instead of a king. Other than the two prophetesses, Israel never had a prophetess as the spiritual authority of the nation.

Point 9. “The Bible teaches that, in the New Testament economy, women as well as men exercise the prophetic, priestly and royal functions (Acts 2:17–18, 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5; 1 Peter 2:9–10; Rev 1:6, 5:10).”

My first observation is that the language is insufficiently clear. Are these three functions of the church? I assume that they are; but whether the church in its character as a community or in its public worship I cannot tell. The title favors community, but the aim of the Manifesto in general, and this section in particular, is to raise women to the offices of the church which have been traditionally occupied by men. Then what exactly are these functions? What is meant by the prophetic function? What is the priestly function? Is there any such thing as a royal function; and if so, what is it? Presumably, the proof texts will shed light on some of these questions; but proof-texts ought not to be used for any other purpose than to prove propositions that have already been set forth definitively. But I will proceed under this disadvantage, and do the best that I can.

Does the Pentecostal event represent an ongoing prophetic function that belongs equally to men and women?

The first proof text offered is Act 2:17-18. This text makes plain that men and women both “prophesied” on that day; and that this was in fulfillment of the pre diction of the prophet Joel. There is no mention of a normative “prophetic function” here, and certainly nothing to indicate that this kind of event ought to be repeated throughout the present age.

You must pardon me if I seem to spend too much time on this particular proof-text: I find it impossible to explain it thoroughly in a few words. And this analysis will save us time when we consider the rest. The words are:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:”

The question remains unanswered whether the event described here represents a so-called “prophetic function” that is normative for the whole present age, or whether it was a unique event of the kind that was only to be expected during apostolic times.

What does “prophesy” mean?

The answer to this question is a part of the larger question of the meanings of the word “prophesy” in various contexts in the New Testament. I will just offer a summary statement from the great Reformed scholar, Albert Barnes. commenting on these verses:

Shall prophesy – The word “prophesy” is used in a great variety of senses:

(1) It means to predict or foretell future events, Matthew 11:13; Matthew 15:7.

(2) To divine, to conjecture, to declare as a prophet might, Matthew 26:68, “Prophesy who smote thee.”

(3) To celebrate the praises of God, being under a divine influence, Luke 1:67. This seems to have been a considerable part of the employment in the ancient schools of the prophet, 1Samuel 10:5; 1Samuel 19:20; 1Samuel 30:15.

(4) To teach – as no small part of the office of the prophets was to teach the doctrines of religion, Matthew 7:22, “Have we not prophesied in thy name?”

(5) It denotes, then, in general, “to speak under a divine influence,” whether in foretelling future events, in celebrating the praises of God, in instructing others in the duties of religion, or “in speaking foreign languages under that influence.”

How does this bear upon the question under consideration? The first question that must be asked is “Which definition best fits the words of the text?” The first two definitions can, I think, be ruled out of the discussion. But if the prophesying spoken of in the text answers to definition 3 above, “To celebrate the praises of God, being under a divine influence”, then all must grant that this kind of activity will and ought to go on throughout this age; but then, is this what is meant by a “prophetic function”? Given the lack of definition in the statement, I cannot say.

If definition 4, “To teach – as no small part of the office of the prophets was ”to teach the doctrines of religion“ is what the authors of this document meant, then I just must say that I disagree; for it seems to me unlikely that this kind of activity was going on. Most of these people had not been trained, as the Apostles had; nor can it be assumed that they were all mentally furnished for that function. Further, the thought of so many voices speaking different languages at the same time would hardly have created an atmosphere appropriate for the teaching of the word of God. If the Pentecostal event is an instance of ”exercising the prophetic function“, then prophesying must mean something other than teaching the doctrines of Scripture.

Is the fifth definition what is meant, ”in general, to speak under a divine influence, whether in foretelling future events, in celebrating the praises of God, in instructing others in the duties of religion, or in speaking foreign languages under that influence”? This seems to accord with all the details of the text. But is this what is meant by the “prophetic function”?

Does this verse lead us to expect that this prophecy is to be an ordinary or extraordinary phenomenon? Is it to be normative, or was it a miracle of the Apostolic age, a “sign of the apostles”?

Several considerations come to mind. First, there is nothing in the text to show that what was happening at that time was to recur, in its essentials, throughout the age. Joel does not say so. Peter said “…this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit… ”

What is meant by the phrase “in the last days”? Does this refer to the entire present age, or the last days of the Mosaic period? Opinions differ. Obviously, it makes a difference to our discussion how you view this phrase. Furthermore, there is nothing in the language of Joel that would help us to determine whether this was a unique event or a standard for the whole present age. He simply says “in” the last days, not “at one point in” or “throughout”. Consider the words of Jesus in Mark 16:17-18:

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

Is this intended to be normative; or is it an eloquent summary of what we saw happening in the book of Acts? Is it prescriptive or descriptive? Charismatics say that it is the normal experience of the church. The reader can draw his own conclusion. But I do not believe that the church is supposed to be awash in miracles. One thing that makes a miracle a miracle is that it is not an ordinary event. My judgment? The passage is descriptive; but there is no evidence that it is prescriptive.

Joel’s words do not decide the question whether Pentecostal happenings were unique to the Apostolic times, or whether they are to continue to the end of this age. His prophecy is a general statement, and is meant to provide a scriptural context for the Pentecostal event; rather than a normative statement concerning the exercise of prophecy in the ordinary life of the church. Like the passage in Mark, it is descriptive, rather than prescriptive.

But Peter, in his sermon, says that the events of that day were the result of a very significant and unique event:

This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” (Act 2:32-33)

The outpouring of the Spirit and the miracles that drew attention to it were proof of the seating of the Lord Jesus at the right hand of God, foretold in Psalm 110:1. This is the significant fact that the whole account leads up to: Jesus is Lord! The kingdom of God has come! Acknowledge his lordship and repent of your sins. Believe and be baptized, and you will be saved from His wrath! The preaching of this message will characterize this whole age; but the historic importance of Pentecost is its unique and powerful witness to Christ’s resurrection and exaltation.

Another reason for believing that events like this are not to be expected after the death of the Apostles is the fact that there are other things mentioned in the prophecy of Joel that are not observed in our churches today, namely “…your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams”. These sorts of miracles were common in the time of Peter and Paul; but the testimony of the early church fathers is that after the Apostles were gone, miracles became rare. They insisted that the signs of the Apostles were not passed on to them; that they were inferior in every way to those first followers of Jesus. However, as the church deteriorated under the early Popes, the unsubstantiated claims of miracles began to increase. Modern day claims of tongues, prophecies of future events, dreams and visions, immediate healings, etc. have not, in general, stood up to scrutiny; and it is well-known that many of them are simply frauds. They may indeed happen – God is not bound – but not often; and this is the main thing: they do not define any ordinary functions of the church.

So this text should not be alleged to prove that “in the New Testament economy, women as well as men exercise the prophetic function” of the church in our time; unless we mean by prophecy Barnes’ third definition “To celebrate the praises of God, being under a divine influence.” This occurs all the time in our churches, when spirit-filled men and women sing hymns together, take their part in the responses of the liturgy together, read Scripture responsively together, etc. But does this constitute “the exercise of the prophetic function”? I would say, “in part”. But surely the regular preaching and teaching of the word by ordained clergymen and appointed laymen is the chief exercise of the prophetic function. And from this role, women are explicitly excluded.

I have spilled a lot of ink on one proof text; but in the process, I have introduced some principles and some facts which will help us in dealing with the others. The texts are:

Acts 21:9 “And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.“

We have a notice here that four virgins prophesied. Prophesied, in what sense, on what occasions, is unknown. Did they have the gift of prophecy? Did they only prophesy on this occasion? It does not say. Now, why were they mentioned? If women prophesying was an ordinary occurrence, why mention it at all?

Maybe it was because they were so young. Jewish women usually married between sixteen and twenty. Some did not marry, but this was the exception to the rule. If the eldest was twenty when the Apostle visited Philip, and there were no multiple births, the youngest could not be much more than seventeen. If the eldest was sixteen, then the youngest was thirteen or under. It would then be a notable thing that Philip and his wife had brought up four maidens who knew the Scriptures well, and loved the Lord. It would then have been stated as a compliment to him, which makes perfect sense.

I say this only to show that the text is too sketchy to help the Feminist cause. Only by importing their own meaning into it can they make it appear otherwise.

But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.” (1 Corinthians 11:5)

It is almost humorous to see a Feminist using a verse from this passage as a proof-text! They don’t believe a word of the text, and yet they quote it as an authority! Do they cover their heads? Do they believe that not to cover their heads is a disgrace – a symbolic rejection of their female role? Not a bit of it! Yet they shamelessly draw attention to it because it seems to be a prop for their tenuous (I’m being kind) theory of sexual equality.

But what does it prove? That women did, in some sense, “prophesy” in the early days of the church. What’s wrong with this? First, it is not clear in what sense they prophesied. The text does not resolve the question for us. The reference is incidental. The main point is the necessity of covering the head. The fact that this prophesying was being done does not say whether they should be doing it or not. Nor does it give the occasion – whether in the church meeting or not. It is simply said that if a woman prophesies, she ought to cover her head.

1 Peter 2:9–10 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

I do not deny that the church, as a body, women included along with men, is all these things; nor do I wish to. These are glorious privileges, that are ours in common with all the saints in all ages, because of sheer grace!

But does that mean that women are to exercise all the same ecclesiastical functions; or if they do, in the same way? The text does not supply the answer, because the text is not talking about functions or roles at all. If we read it in context, (verses 4-10) we discover that verses 9-10 are part of a contrast with verses 7 and 8. On the one hand, there are the disobedient, that stumble at the word. On the other we have “you which believe”, to whom Christ is precious.

The references are to the Jewish people and the Christian church. Peter says that the honors and titles that once belonged to the Hebrew nation are no longer theirs; but have now been given to the new people of God. The contrast is between these two people groups. But because we have been made the true people of God, our response ought to be gratitude and service. This is where the individual comes into view.

Verse 5 reads: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” That this priestly function is performed by men and women is acknowledged by all; but that is because it is not, per se, a public function. We all pray, we intercede, we bear others’ burdens, we praise God, confess our sins, and praise Him – in private and family prayer, and also publicly, when we pray silently while one man leads. The text does not prove that women are to lead men or the congregation in prayer. That subject is not addressed by Peter here. Other Scriptures answer this question, and I will get to them bye and bye.

The Reign of the saints

Revelation 1:6 “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

5:10 “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”

These texts are intended to prove that there is a royal function which women exercise on an equal basis with men. However, women are not in view here; for it says “kings” not “queens”. (In Greek, the word is in the masculine gender. There is a feminine form of basileus, and it means “queen”.)

To reign is to rule. It is the exercise of authority. The rule that is represented in these two texts is not a rule over the church of God; but over the world. The last phrase may be rendered, “and we shall reign over the earth”. This idea of the saints’ universal dominion goes back into the Old Testament, especially the Psalms and the prophets. Daniel’s prophecy comes to mind:

And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Daniel 7:27)

The idea that there is some sort of rule over the church that women share with men is not in these texts. The rulers of the church exercise ministerial authority, not magisterial authority, in the church in Christ’s name. But none of the names of royalty belong to them. They make no laws; and their formal acts are always subject to the judgment of Christ their Lord.

This completes our survey of the proof-texts for the first statement under point 9.

PART 8

CBE’s Evasion of the Principal Texts

Biblical Truth: Community

We have been looking at the first statement of point 9 of this section. Now, let us direct our attention to the second statement, in which the authors of this document treat us to a lesson in hermeneutics. This would be laughable, if it were not such a serious business. Let me say it again: the way that these Feminists handle the holy Scriptures is ludicrous! It is irrational. It is the turning of things upside down and inside out to try to find a way to inject sexual equality into the Bible. As such, it is sacrilege!

Now, let me say that if you want to know what any document says on any point, you look for a place in it where that particular point is under discussion. Having found that, you look for explicit statements and conclusions. Then, having found those, you have a basis for understanding any incidental references to the same point (apparent or real) in other places.

You do not avoid those places that speak clearly and fully, just because you do not like what they say, and then look for clues scattered throughout the document that seem to support your foregone conclusions. You do not then use these clues (such as texts isolated from their contexts) to create a framework constructed of your own opinions and call it what that document “really” says. Finally, you do not then set aside the obvious message of the key passages of the document on the basis that they cannot mean what they seem to say, because that would go against the framework of opinions that you have constructed. That is not the way a reasonable person would proceed; and that is not how a humble seeker after truth would go about it. However, the document gives us this remarkable statement:

Therefore, the few isolated texts that appear to restrict the full redemptive freedom of women must not be interpreted simplistically and in contradiction to the rest of Scripture, but their interpretation must take into account their relation to the broader teaching of Scripture and their total context (1 Corinthians 11:2–16, 14:33–36; 1 Timothy 2:9–15).”

Here is their justification for burying the three prescriptive texts (listed here; but not as proof-texts) that set forth the proper understanding of male and female sex roles as they are to be expressed in the life of the church. These, they say, are nothing more than a “ few isolated texts”. Few they may be; but they are the only texts that address the exact question at issue. Two or three witnesses to the same fact are sufficient. Nay, in holy Scripture, a single statement, properly interpreted, is enough to establish any fact. The fewness or the plenitude of confirming witnesses them has nothing to do with anything.

Neither are they isolated texts. What does that mean anyway? Does it mean that some text doesn’t belong where it is? Or that it has nothing to do with the context in which we find it? [Someone please explain that to me.] Or is there some quality inherent in the text itself that means it has no authority, so we can ignore it. Isolated from what? Each text belongs in a certain context, and we traditionalists interpret it in that context.

For example, 1 Corinthians 14:36-38 follows logically from the other Pauline directives which are to govern the exercise of the gifts (verses 1-33). And it should be noticed that verse 1 and verses 39-40 are, as it were “bookends” that show the unity of the whole chapter. The latter verses remind us of the things summed up in the first verse – the purpose and guiding principles of the exercise of the gifts: the primacy of prophecy, and the necessity of order. Therefore, it cannot be maintained that this passage forbidding women from speaking in church is “isolated” in any sense; nor that we “isolate it” by taking it out of context.

No matter how few, if these passages are clear (and they are) then no recourse needs to be had to the Feminists’ favorite texts, though they be many.

Next, the word “appear” occurs:

…the few isolated texts that appear to restrict the full redemptive freedom of women”

The texts have already been discredited as “few and isolated”, so now it can be safely said that they only “appear” to contradict their egalitarian theory of sexual equality. Hmm, let me see… How about this one:

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

Or this one:

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.”

Or this one:

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.Does this only appear to contradict the Feminist position?

No, it is not appearance only, but substance, as anyone can see. Accordingly, as we shall see, any stratagems devised to invalidate them must fail.

But then they tell us how to interpret these “few isolated texts”; or rather how not to interpret them:

…the few isolated texts that appear to restrict the full redemptive freedom of women must not be interpreted simplistically and in contradiction to the rest of Scripture.”

Claiming to have already proved the “full redemptive freedom of women” (in the sense that they mean the phrase) they demand that we give up the obvious and natural sense of these texts in favor of interpretations that they have made up out of whole cloth!

First we are told that we must not interpret them “simplistically”. What exactly does this mean – “Simplistically”? I can only guess that it is something that they are attributing to the traditional interpretation – something lacking in the sophistication of former interpreters such as – well, just about every biblical scholar from the church fathers to the eminent Bible scholars of the 19th century, and most of them in the first half of the twentieth. They were all only “simple” men, no doubt, who lacked the intelligence and hermeneutical acumen to understand the complexities of Scripture! Though some of them were admittedly very learned, they were all affected by the prejudice against women which prevailed in their times, and accordingly misunderstood and mistranslated these texts according to their appearance, in contradiction to the whole teaching of Scripture.

I admit that I am “simplistic”: I “simply” take the texts at face value, without arbitrary eisegesis and exegetical gymnastics. I am not one of those sophisticated Feminist theologians who, by virtue of their vast learning and exceptional intelligence, have avoided the fatal trap of interpreting the Scripture according to its mere appearance! Perhaps someday I will attain to the heights and rarified air in which these scholars dwell – but not now. I am just a simple man.

We are also cautioned against contradicting the rest of Scripture by our simplistic interpretation. Thank you very much for the warning! But it is not really necessary. I learned a long time ago that when someone is dishonest or self-deceived, he will often attribute to his opponents the very thing that he is doing. That observation applies here. They are the ones who are contradicting “the broader teaching of Scripture and their total context”. They have it exactly backwards!

Finally, the term, “the full redemptive freedom of women” appears. This is, I believe, the first time that the term is used in the Manifesto. What does it mean? Let’s review what they have said already. Here, in their own words, is the substance of the doctrine that is meant by that term.

The Bible teaches that woman and man were created for full and equal partnership.”

The Bible teaches that the forming of woman from man demonstrates the fundamental unity and equality of human beings.”

Without distinction, the Holy Spirit indwells women and men, and sovereignly distributes gifts without preference as to gender.”

The Bible teaches that both women and men are called to develop their spiritual gifts and to use them as stewards of the grace of God. Both men and women are divinely gifted and empowered to minister to the whole Body of Christ, under His authority.”

The Bible teaches that, in the New Testament economy, women as well as men exercise the prophetic, priestly and royal functions.”

The full redemptive freedom of women” means that men and women are equal in every sense except their biology. There is no difference in the status of men and women. Women are free to do any work and to assume any role in the church that men do if they have the gifts for it. They are not subordinate to men, so they are not to be barred from the diaconate or the presbytery because of their sex. So that any passage of Scripture that seems to deprive women of this freedom must be reinterpreted.

Now, let’s see what that means for the interpretation of the three texts that they wish to revise. I have already discussed 1 Corinthians 14:36-40 in Part 4 of this series. Let’s examine another one of the signposts that they must re-write if they are going to win this debate.

The first of the “few isolated texts” in their list, that appear to restrict the full redemptive freedom of women” is 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. Before looking at the text, permit me to make a few opening remarks.

Paul is dealing with various abuses in the church from the very first chapter of this epistle. This is a subject that differs from the others; for it is merely teaching given to prevent an abuse – perhaps one which was just beginning to take hold. It differs from what Paul says in the other cases he comments on, in that Paul says “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” The obvious reason why he would open this section with this compliment is that the practice of women covering their heads is included in these ordinances. He does not tell them to start covering their heads, as we would expect if they were neglecting the ordinance, or if it was a new practice that they were not familiar with. If he was instituting it at this time, it would have to have been explained in more detail.

The next section begins with the contrasting declaration,“Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not…(1 Corinthians 11:17a). These two statements are obviously meant to contrast with each other. They are like bookends, and clearly mark the beginning and ending of the section under consideration. The passage is therefore independent of both the previous and the ensuing context for its meaning. I do not isolate it by interpreting it as an intentionally differentiated section. It carries within itself all the information that is needed to interpret it correctly, with the help of several links to the book of Genesis contained within it.

Obviously, Paul’s purpose in writing this passage is to deter Christian women from uncovering their heads in public. (Some limit it to the meetings of the church; but there are good reasons for not doing so.) He also prohibits men from covering their heads. His interest, then, is in the clear delineation between men and women that ought to be expressed and maintained by differences in dress (Deuteronomy 22:5).

Paul’s purpose is served by teaching both the men and the women the biblical principles that govern the practice of covering the head. It is not my purpose to expound the whole passage; but rather to show what it teaches that relates directly to the subject in hand. (Those who want a fuller treatment of the passage are encouraged to read my book, The Myth of Sexual Equality. You can purchase a signed copy from ‘Howard’s Classic Books’ on Amazon.com.)

2 “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. 3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

Let’s begin with verse 3. What does it say? It says that everyone but God the Father has a head over him. He is subordinate to the person who is his head. That is what headship means. Man is subordinate to Christ; woman is subordinate to man; and Christ (as the mediator, in His Divine/human nature) is subordinate to God. It is in vain to claim that headship has nothing to do with authority and subordination.

Is man not under the authority of Christ? Then what does it mean to “keep His commandments”?

Is Christ not under the authority of His Father? Then what did He mean when He said “…as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” (Joh 14:31)

Headship means authority. Simple as that. Woman, then is under the authority of man.

4 “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.”

As I said, I do not intend to discuss the practice of head covering; but it is impossible to make sense of what follows without reading these verses. A man who covers his head while praying or prophesying dishonors it; but a woman who does not cover her head dishonors hers. This is not just advice. Verse 6 closes with these words of command, “…let her be covered.”

Then we come to the remarkable statement in verse 7:

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.”

God made Adam in His own image (Genesis 1:27). He was the image of God before Eve was made. He was not an incomplete part of the image of God, which had to be completed by the creation of Eve, as some say. If that were true, it would follow that neither one was made in the image of God. He was made in the image and likeness of God. Here, we read “image and glory of God”. These two words are used together in Hebrews 1:3 to describe the Son of God:

…Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his [that is, God’s] person…”

It would appear that the word “likeness” and the word “glory” are closely related in some way; so that Adam could be called either. Now most people would assume that the same thing could be said of the woman as is here said of the man. But not only does he not say that; he makes it a point of contrast, referring to man as God’s image and glory, while he denies her that dignity, and says that the woman is the glory of the man instead! He further uses that point of contrast to dictate a rule concerning the covering of their heads.

7 “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.”

This text alone demolishes any notion of the equality of the sexes! The battle is over. No other discussion is needed. You cannot possibly establish the Christian Feminist cause while this verse remains in the Bible!

But we proceed:

8 “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

Paul has stated that the man and the woman are not equals. Now he gives us two of the reasons why he says this, both drawn from the account of human origins contained in the early chapters of Genesis. The word, “for” connects verses 8 and 9 to verse 7. It means “because”. These two arguments are insuperable. Verses 7-9 taken in the context of the head covering discussion, demonstrate Paul’s position on sexual equality. It is this inequality that explains why women need to cover their heads, and men must not.

The Feminists know that this text is fatal to their system; and so want to discredit its plain teaching. To cover the head as a sign of submission to male headship is oppressive – a humiliation not to be born! So the passage must be gotten rid of in some way. It is only one of a few, they say (as if that mattered). It is wrongly interpreted if it is isolated from the overall teaching of Scripture (they mean the framework that they have constructed). It’s “real meaning” is – whatever they say it means.

Some try to escape its force by saying that the great Apostle was mistaken, since he was trained in the misogynistic view of the rabbis. The opinion found in this text is not inspired truth, but one man’s opinion. This only shows how desperate some of them are to have an excuse for living lives of rebellion against God’s ordinance. They had rather sacrifice the plenary inspiration of Scripture than admit that they are in the wrong. How sad! There is nothing I can do to help them.

We come now to the third signpost – forgive me,“isolated text” which is 1Timothy 2:9-15:

9 “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. 11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

Paul is admonishing Timothy, his apprentice, to maintain good order and Christian standards of conduct for both men and women. Having addressed the men first, he now turns to the females. He begins by telling them that they must not be luxurious or extravagant in either dress or appearance; which excess is inconsistent with the shamefacedness (bashfulness) and sobriety that are becoming to Christian women. Rather, they are to be modest, shunning the limelight, not seeking to draw attention to themselves. They are to show inner beauty by quietly going about doing beautiful (Gr. kalos, “good, beautiful”) works.

In keeping with this modesty and seriousness, he commands Timothy to “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.” Does this sound familiar? As in 1 Corinthians 14: 34, woman’s silence in the church is an expression of her subjection to God’s order. “Subjection” in this place and “obedience” in 1 Corinthians 14:34 are the same word in the Greek.

In saying “let” he is not merely giving them permission. It translates the imperative mood of the verb. He does not say “women”, which might mean a particular group of women; as if it only applied to one congregation, for example, in which the women were unruly. No – he says “woman”, which shows that it is woman in the generic sense that is meant. And it is not “the woman”, for the article is absent. It is “a woman”, that is, a woman simply considered as a woman – not a boisterous woman, or a foolish woman – just a woman. The command is therefore universal; that is, for all women in all the churches.

Then he adds, with emphasis:

12 “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1Timothy 2:12-14)

Once again, the language is explicit, and impossible to misunderstand. Not only is she prohibited from teaching in the place of the man, which is a usurpation; she is rather obligated to keep silence. This is not a strange or unnatural thing, nor is it oppressive to women.

Anyone, man or woman, who has ever been in a court of law has been required to keep a strict silence until the proceedings are finished. This is to facilitate the hearing of the parties concerned, so that nothing is misunderstood or wrongly recorded. It is necessary for the judicial process to go on without distraction. The same solemnity ought to be observed at the meetings of the church.

Paul gives two reasons for this injunction. The first is the order of creation. This is a brief allusion to the record of the creation of Adam and Eve. Man was made first, and then the woman was made of his substance, to be a fit helper for him. These facts demonstrate man’s superior status, and the reason that the woman is to be subordinate to him, and therefore to keep silence in the church.

The second reason derives from the account of the fall. Eve sinned first, being tempted by the serpent. The fall was begun by her, because she allowed herself to be deceived. Paul is saying that woman is more vulnerable to deception than man is. She was deceived – he was not. The contrast is plain. This is not just a historical fact: it was still true in Paul’s time, and it is still true today. Otherwise, why would it be a valid reason to forbid women from teaching? This is an unpopular fact; but a fact nonetheless. Unless we are willing to set aside the testimony of the Apostle Paul, and the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture, we must accept what is written.

This is the third of those “few isolated texts that appear to restrict the full redemptive freedom of women” – so they say. I say that, like 1 Corinthians 14:34-40, it is a locus classicus, one of those foundational passages which gives the standard teaching on the subject. It is foundational to the relationships between men and women in the family, in the church, and in the broader community.

We have briefly examined what the Feminists would have us to believe are just a few isolated texts that seem to contradict the doctrine of sexual equality, but do not. I cannot for the life of me agree with what seems to me a fantastic notion, and possibly one of the most egregious hermeneutical errors of all time! The passages speak for themselves. They are in entire agreement with each other, and with the background of patriarchal social structure instituted in the earliest times and established by the law of Moses as the norm for the community of God’s people.

Point 10 closes the section labeled Community with a statement that revolves around a word that has been substituted for authority, rule, etc. in the modern church – even in some modern Bible translations. That word is “leadership”.

Point 10. “The Bible defines the function of leadership as the empowerment of others for service rather than as the exercise of power over them (Matthew 20:25–28, 23:8; Mark 10:42–45; John 13:13–17; Genesis 5:13; 1 Peter 5:2–3).”

Notice the deceitful way that this begins: “The Bible defines leadership as…” Wait a minute! The Authorized or “King James” Version, the standard English Bible, does not even use the word – ever! The ESV uses it once, as does Young’s Literal Translation, in Numbers 33:1, where the Hebrew word means “hand”. The AV and NKJV translate the place,”under the hand of”. YLT gives us “by the hand of”. How then can the Bible be said to define a word it never uses?

Besides, the Bible knows nothing of leadership without authority. All through the Bible, we meet with expressions like “rule” or “ruler”, “king”, “lord”, “governor” “dominion”, “kingdom”. These words are incompatible with mere “leadership”. They have to do with authority and the exercise of it; with power, and the exercise of power.

The document before us refuses to acknowledge that there is order and authority in the church and family, as there is in the state. Let us continue:

The Bible defines the function of leadership as the empowerment of others for service rather than as the exercise of power over them. (Matthew 20:25–28, 23:8; Mark 10:42–45; John 13:13–17; Genesis 5:13; 1 Peter 5:2–3).”

Since the Bible does not define leadership, the truth must be that it is the Feminists defining it; but to what purpose? All this has nothing to do with what the Bible teaches. Nevertheless, we must be patient. Perhaps they are saying the same thing that we are; only in different words. The core of this statement is that “the function of leadership [is] the empowerment of others for service”. If we substitute a Bible word for leadership, then we have “the function of [government, or rule, or kingship, or authority] is the empowerment of others for service. Is this true? Does anyone think that this is true? Of course not.

The function of government is to exercise authority, in order to maintain justice and order in society. Everyone knows this! Governments in this fallen world do not always do a good job of this; but nevertheless, that is what they are for (Romans 13:1-7). That is why we are to respect and obey the ordinances and laws of our country, the laws of our churches, the rules given us by our fathers.

The authors of the document, however, need to get far from the notion of any authority of men over women; so they have to resort to the pretext that the exercise of authority itself is not appropriate in the Christian community. So they not only substitute leadership for government; but pervert some passages of Scripture to say that it is wrong to exercise authority at all. And the first Scripture that they offer in support of this is Matthew 20:25-28:

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

The Feminists claim that this verse plainly shows that no one should exercise dominion or authority in the church; but that is not what this says. The key to understanding the verse lies in the choice of the verbs used by Jesus, whose meaning is somewhat obscured in the AV. Any first year Greek student can tell you that these verbs are compounds of the preposition , kata and a common verb. The basic verbs are kurieuouo which means to exercise lordship and exousiazo, which means to exercise authority. Kata, when used as a prefix, loses its ordinary meaning of “down”, and simply adds emphasis to the verb. The compound verb, katakurieuouo then becomes “lord it over”, and katexousiazo,play the tyrant”. See A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures of the New Testament, comment on Matthew 20:26. These words do not speak of the use of power, but the abuse of it. Otherwise the verbs would appear without the prefix.

Therefore, the Feminists are wrong in their understanding of this whole paragraph. The contrast is not between exercising authority and what they call “leadership” without exercising authority. The contrast is between two different ways of using lawful authority. One can use it to hurt people, or to help them. One can use it to make them servants, or to become theirs.

It is virtuous in a ruler to use the advantage of authority to make his people prosper. For example, by executing justice on the wicked, he makes the world safer for the good. By advancing good men to positions of power, he prevents the all too common corruption of the government. Without his authority, he could do none of these things. He would not be a servant of the people, he would be a burden on them, and a curse.

So it is with the rulers of the church. They are not to lord it over anyone; they are to use their lawful authority for the peoples’ edification and blessing. Anyone acquainted with the New Testament ought to be familiar with these words of Paul in 2 Corinthiansverse 8:

For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:”

If the reader will start at verse 2 and read through to verse 11, he will better understand these words in their context.

A final word about Matthew 20: 28, where Jesus saysEven as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” That he served us to the greatest extent possible, saving us by his humiliation and death, does not at all contradict the fact that He is our Lord and Master. Authority is not inconsistent with self-sacrificing service. They should not be set over against one another.

Next comes Matthew 23:8 “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.”

It would be wrong to take these words literally. That would mean that we could not address our fathers as “father”.(v. 9) This text is meant to inculcate humility. There is nothing wrong with a Christian minister being honored with the epithet, “teacher”, or even “master”. Jesus often uses the antithesis as a way of teaching. He is saying that one ought not to desire, much less insist upon, being honored with the titles of the great. He should instead remember that he is just another servant of the One Master of all.

Mark 10:42–45 is virtually the same as same as Matthew 20:25-28, and so adds nothing to the discussion.

John 13:13–17 reads:

Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”

It is hard to see how this applies to the subject at hand. It has nothing to do with “the definition of leadership”. It is a very non-egalitarian verse, after all. Jesus says that He is their Master and Lord; not their “leader”. He is washing the disciples’ feet to demonstrate the humble service that He requires of His disciples, who are going to become the rulers of the church after His departure.

He enforces the lesson with the a fortiori argument. ‘If I, who am greater than you, can humble myself to do this; much more ought you.’ Then in one of those few places that He uses what is almost an oath, the emphatic “verily, verily”, He brings home the lesson: “’The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”

Help me out here. We have servants and masters, people who send people and people who are sent. We have people that are greater than others. Am I missing something? Is it possible that the Feminists do not see that they are shooting themselves in the foot? There is not a word here about “leadership”. There is not a trace of the thing itself. There are explicit references to persons in positions of authority and not one bad word about them. How is this a proof-text for their novel theory of leadership versus authority?

In Galatians 5:13 we are told: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” We might be tempted to dismiss it as obscure, since it proves nothing at all. But in the light of the premise that the Feminists are trying to prove, and the false dichotomy that they are peddling, there is only one way to see this verse: ‘Unless the men who rule the church are willing to surrender their authority (so that they can join with those spiritual persons who are serving one another in love) then they are using their liberty for an occasion to the flesh. Rule is fleshly and loveless. Leadership is loving and unselfish.’

But I’m dying to ask this question. What do the Feminists want to place women in the eldership for? Why can’t they just be leaders without titles? Surely they don’t need positions of authority to exercise “leadership”! I say, lead away! No one’s stopping you. Take your little band of radicals and go somewhere. It’s a free country. Just don’t presume to thrust yourselves into an office from which your sex excludes you, and to change the sacred order instituted by Jesus Christ!

Their last proof-text shows how deliberately perverting God’s word leads to a mind void of judgment. 1 Peter 5:2–3 reads, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”

Who in his right mind would find in this text a proof that ministers must not exercise authority? Let me ask you, what is oversight? Is an overseer on the same level as the ones overseen? Or doesn’t the first part of the word indicate a certain superior position? Surely it does. There can be no question of an overseer exercising authority over others. That is what they are paid for. They act according to their orders from the higher authorities, so that they may enforce the orders given to those under their authority, and thus, hopefully, to get the work done.

Oversight implies authority as surely as it implies responsibility. No one would willingly accept a managerial job that demanded of them a certain result; but which didn’t give them the authority to appropriate the monies they will need to buy supplies, etc. or the authority to give orders to the workers and to hold them responsible. Authority must correspond to responsibility.

Here is what these verses really say:

The oversight of God’s people is not to be taken on because some minister presses it upon you against your will, or your better judgment – and not for the salary you expect to receive. It is only to be undertaken willingly, with a sense of Divine calling to it. Nor is the office to be abused, as by severity towards the people under your care. He is not to “lord it over” the flock of God, but to shepherd it. He is there for its sake; not it for his.

As we have seen in the examination of proof-texts in other parts of this document; there is nothing in them that really proves what they are so desperate to prove: the equality of the sexes, and the propriety of women serving as officers in the church.

This completes my exhaustive treatment of the text and proof-texts of the section titled “Community”. Next, I will turn my attention to the section that tells us what ”Christian Feminism” means for the Christian family.

PART 9

Re-inventing the Family

Biblical Truths: The Family

I wonder if it has ever occurred to the framers of the Manifesto how arrogant and how dangerous it is to advocate the complete reconstruction of society’s fundamental and indispensable institutions! And this remodeling is to be based on an interpretation of Scripture which has no precedent before the nineteenth century, when the secular philosophers of the “enlightenment” began to advocate the revolutionary principle of egalitarianism. The “Christian Feminist” interpretation is sheer Modernism.

They offer us two statements on the family; the basic and most necessary institution in society. It is really astounding that people who claim to believe the Bible can have the hubris to monkey around with this sacred institution, ordained by God himself, in Paradise! What makes it worse is that they are not just fiddling around with a few things that they think need reform: they are striking at the very heart of marriage and the family!

I know I am repeating myself; but let’s review what the Scriptures actually teach about the biblical relationship of husbands and wives. We learned from 1 Corinthians11:7-9 that man has a superior status to woman by order of creation, since he is the image and glory of God; but she is the image and glory of the man. [The words in italics are implied.] She derives the image of God through the man from which she was made. Man was not made to be her helper; but she was made to be Adam’s. She was made different from him in order that she might complement him. Her life is to center in her husband; and from him she is to receive her direction. She is subordinate by the order of creation.

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

This is supported by 1 Corinthians 14: 34-35 and by 1 Timothy 2:11-13:

But the Manifesto says otherwise.

Point 11. “The Bible teaches that husbands and wives are heirs together of the grace of life and that they are bound together in a relationship of mutual submission and responsibility.”

I cannot object to the first part of the statement; for it is literally what the Apostle Peter wrote. But it needs no mention, since it has nothing to do with the question under discussion. The second part, however, is radically unbiblical!

…they are bound together in a relationship of mutual submission and responsibility.”

As I have observed before, the Manifesto generally lacks clarity. The same is true here. The expression, “mutual submission” is not only unclear: I hold that it is nonsense. And it is not clear whether “mutual responsibility” is meant, or that we should read it – “in a relationship of …responsibility”? Probably the former is meant, but a statement of this kind ought to be written with more care.

Now, why do I say that “mutual submission” is nonsense? Because it is impossible for two people to submit to each other at the same time. If the relationship is defined by this principle, then it would seem to be a universal principle that governs the relationship at all times. If not, then what determines who is going to submit at any given time? Who is to decide?

Are they supposed to have an argument, and whoever wins gets to either submit or make the decision? Perhaps they could take turns submitting to each other. Or they could just be like the two very polite chipmunks in the cartoons, each insisting that the other go through the door first, until something happens that forces them to squeeze through together.

But, in another place in the Manifesto, the answer to this question is explicit:

In case of decisional deadlock they should seek resolution through biblical methods of conflict resolution rather than by one spouse imposing a decision upon the other.”

I can only assume that these biblical methods involve a third party in the business of the family whenever the wife chooses to disagree with her husband. Then, this rebellious wife is going to try to get another person or persons to side with her and persuade her husband!

No, submission means that one person makes the decision and the other submits. And the thing that determines who is to do the decision-making is the status of the persons. Any other arrangement is not only impossible: it tortures the meaning of the word “submission” in English, and the Greek word hupotasso. This word derives from the prefix hupo that means “under” and the word tasso, which means “to arrange”. In the passive voice, as here, it means “to subject oneself”.

As to the phrase, “mutual responsibility”, I can agree that both parties have a responsibility to each other. More, they are responsible to God to serve one another in love. He is to serve her by ruling her and the rest of the family well, in a way that is always considerate of her. She is to serve him by submitting to him in everything.

But if the expression means that their responsibilities to each other are the same, then I must reject it, as it implies that they are equal in status also.

As I said, it was not Christians, but the heathen, who first advocated the equality of the sexes. It did not come out of the prayerful study of the word of God. It was seized upon by people in the church who were already inclined to accept it. Accordingly, we should not be surprised that they can find no real support for their positions in Scripture. So they must pile up supposed proof-texts in order to impress the ignorant and vulnerable; as if the number of texts matters, when there is no support for their radicalism in any of them. Ten times zero is still zero!

Nevertheless, I promised at the outset to do a thorough job; not evading anything. So here we go again! The first text to consider is 1 Corinthians 7:3–5:

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.”

There is indeed an equality in marriage in this respect. One partner cannot deny the other that which is due by the nature of marriage. The traditional wedding vows for both the man and the woman include the words, “to have and to hold”. But this does not prove a generalized equality beyond this one sphere. The traditional wedding vows also require the woman to promise obedience to the man in the words,“to love, honor, and obey”.

Next we have Ephesians 5:21 “…Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

Talk about taking verses out of context! The very next verse reads: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Now, I think that any reasonable person would agree that, whatever verse 21 means, it cannot contradict the very next verse. So what we have here is a case of “cherry picking”. There is a rule in hermeneutics that says we should interpret the obscure in the light of the clear. I do not admit that there is anything obscure in verse 21, once we take everything into account (of which more later); but I claim that there is not a verse in the Bible whose meaning is more clear than v. 22: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.”

But what the Manifesto asserts is the exact opposite of this command to wives. Whereas this verse says that there is a one-way kind of submission – that of the wife to the husband – the Manifesto says that the submission goes both ways. But this verse says that she is to submit to her husband as to the Lord, that is, once again in a one-way kind of submission; for who would ever suggest that the Lord is to submit to her as well! Isn’t this reminiscent of 1 Corinthians 11:3, which says that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man?

What, then, does Ephesians 5:21 mean? It seems to me that it is an introductory remark related to the following passage, 5:21 to 6:9, which prescribes duties to all classes of men. Several of these duties involve submission to authority: in particular that of wives to husbands, verse 5:22-24, 33; children to their parents, 6:1-3; bond-servants to masters, 6:5-8. In each of these cases, one group is commanded to submit; and the other group is then commanded to rule over the subordinate persons in Christian love – not abusing their authority. Notice that, in each case, the command to submit is placed first, in the emphatic position; while the cautions against the abuse of power are treated second. This may be because submission is the hardest thing in all the world for a sinner to do.

Taking account the emphasis on submission throughout this passage, I suggest that the meaning of verse 21 is something like this: “In the following duties that require the submission of one to another, let the fear of God motivate you.” This is an interpretation that is in harmony with verses 22 and following, and which emphasizes the last clause of verse 21, that submission is to be “in the fear of God”.

Lest anyone think that this view is novel, or that it originated with me; here is Albert Barnes’ commentary, written in the 19th century:

Submitting yourselves one to another – Maintaining due subordination in the various relations of life. This general principle of religion, the apostle proceeds now to illustrate in reference to wives Ephesians 5:22-24; to children Ephesians 6:1-3; and to servants, Ephesians 6:5-8. At the same time that he enforces this duty of submission, however, he enjoins on others to use their authority in a proper manner, and gives solemn injunctions that there should be no abuse of power. Particularly he enjoins on husbands the duty of loving their wives with all tenderness Ephesians 5:25-33; on fathers, the duty of treating their children so that they might easily obey them Ephesians 6:4; and on masters, the duty of treating their servants with kindness, remembering that they have a Master also in heaven; Ephesians 6:9. The general meaning here is, that Christianity does not break up the relations of life, and produce disorder, lawlessness, and insubordination; but that it will confirm every proper authority, and make every just yoke lighter. Infidelity is always disorganizing; Christianity, never.”

Next we come to 1 Peter 3:1–7:

1“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. 7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

I admit that I’m puzzled by this. Perhaps the reference contained a typo. This could not possibly be a proof-text for Feminism, could it? Verses 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 are explicitly in favor of the traditional teaching. That’s 5 out of 7. Verse 3 is not directly relevant. That leaves verse 7, which tells husbands how they must treat their wives, who, being the weaker vessel, need special consideration and understanding. No one disagrees with that, right? So I’m left scratching my head.

And finally we come to Genesis 21:12.

And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.”

This one is a really a reach: it’s grasping at straws! What could better show the weakness of their position?

For what does the text say? “God said… hearken to her voice”, “her” being Sarah his wife. So this was the normal relationship that they had? Or was the norm what Peter says it was: “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.”

But what else does the text say? There is a lot of biblical background to this; so I will try to be selective and as brief as possible. At the time of his call, Abraham was given a promise that he would become a great nation (Genesis 12:1-3). But he was old, and so was his wife. It seemed to both of them that what was promised was impossible. Chapter 16 records Sarah’s decision to help Abraham beget a son, so that God could fulfill His promise, that Abraham would become a great nation through the promised seed. Since Sarah was past the time of child-bearing, she gave her bond-maid, Hagar, to Abraham as a concubine (a sort of legal “wife” without all the rights of a wife).

A son was born of that union, who was named Ishmael. Abraham hoped that this would be the one through whom the promise would be fulfilled. But when Abraham was ninety-nine and the boy thirteen, Abraham was explicitly told that Ishmael would not be his heir – the one through whom the promise would be fulfilled. He was promised that he would have a son by Sarah, whose name would be Isaac, and that this would be the heir. (Genesis 17:18-21).

Now, when Isaac was weaned, Abraham held a feast in his honor. On this special occasion, Ishmael mocked the child; which greatly displeased Sarah, who now understood that Isaac, and Isaac only, was the one that God had chosen to be the heir.

It is only with this history in mind that the proof-text can be understood. Here is the text in its immediate context:

And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. 10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.

11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. 12 and God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. 13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.

14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.” (Genesis 21:9-14)

Now, we see that this occasion of Sarah’s apparent insubordination was occasioned by her faith in the promises of God at a time when Abraham was more concerned about his first son than the covenant and promise of the Lord. She was quite right in insisting that the two boys would not be co-heirs. In this, she was faithfully reminding her husband of the word of God, which she had personally heard the Lord speak shortly before Isaac was born (Genesis 18:9-14).

But even then, Abraham was not able to act against his natural affection for Ishmael (v. 11). So God intervened and told Abraham that his wife was right; and he would have to reconcile himself to the fact that Ishmael had a different destiny from Isaac. Accordingly, Abraham acknowledged that his wife was right, and obeyed the command of the Lord.

It should be clear, then, that this was an exceptional case, in a matter of great significance, rather than the usual way that their relationship operated. This is the only time in the somewhat detailed account that Scripture gives of the life of Abraham when she even seemed to set herself on a level with her husband. This text is, therefore, in no respect proof of the so-called “relationship of mutual submission and responsibility” of which the Manifesto speaks.

Point 12. “The Bible teaches that both mothers and fathers are to exercise leadership in the nurture, training, discipline and teaching of their children.“

What does this mean, and why is it important? First let’s consider what it means to the CBE. It means that both parents are equal in the realm of child-rearing. This is one of the tenets already stated, and which they are aiming to prove. ”The phrase “exercise leadership” is used to disguise the fact that there is no final authority in their version of the family.

It says that “both mothers and fathers are to exercise leadership in the nurture, training, discipline and teaching of their children.” Now, the truth is that both mother and father have authority over their children. Her authority is limited by his ultimate authroity as the head of the family: it is a delegated authority. When it comes to their children, they are both more than mere “leaders”. But, even the word “leadership” means nothing if not the making of decisions. And the one making the decisions is in control, at least, if he can persuade someone to follow him.

A casual reader would assume that the leadership (control) involved was simply leadership (control) of the children; but this is not what it says.

It says “leadership in” [the process of ] “nurture, training, discipline and teaching”. But if both parents can make decisions about the same thing independently, is this not a design for confusion and strife? On the other hand, if they make decisions together; but every time there is a disagreement they must appeal to an outside authority, then the family is effectively under the authority of whatever outside agent they appeal to at any given time. Thus we see that the tenet of equality in marriage is not only unnatural and unbiblical, but illogical as well.

If this point were granted, however, then it would follow that the parents must be equal in every other respect; for the decisions relative to child-rearing are among the most important that must be made on a daily basis. But this is unworkable. If the man has no final word, and the woman has veto power, then will this not lead to strife, as each parent attempts to win out over the other? And if, as this document elsewhere states, whenever a deadlock is reached, counsel must be sought outside the home, then both will come to the advisor(s) as adversaries, if not enemies. Then what becomes of marital harmony?

But the authors of this document want us to believe that this is all biblical. Here are the proof-texts they offer.

Exodus 20:12 “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”

Here we have a commandment to honor both parents and nothing more. I do not know of anyone who would disagree with this. But what it contributes to the discussion is obscure to me. Father and mother are both worthy of honor; but this verse says nothing at all about the point in question.

Leviticus 19:3 “Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.”

This is to the same effect as the first; and one wonders why the obvious would need repeating.

Deuteronomy 6:6–9 “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”

These words require all Israelites to know and constantly remind themselves and others of the law of God. They were to teach them to their children. Again, nothing here is involved in the controversy. No doubt women were also obligated to keep the law; and to share in the teaching of the children, especially when they were small. But it says nothing for or against the supervisory role of the father, which extended to all things in the household. (Ephesians 5:24)

Deuteronomy 21:18–21 “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”

Granted, both of the parents complain to the magistrates that their son would not obey their voice. So mothers as well as fathers have authority over their son, as I have3 already admitted. The question is – does the father exercise authority over the wife in such matters as instruction and discipline? I maintain that the woman exercises authority in the absence of her husband according to the rules laid down by the husband. And in his presence, she has nothing to say; for her superior will take over.

Moreover, this law teaches us that parents are always to take God’s side, even if it means bad consequences for their own flesh and blood (Deuteronomy 13:6-10). In this case, a son who is incorrigible, must be brought to justice – in this case, death. No one could be put to death without two or three witnesses. The parents would be the last persons to accuse their own son falsely, so they would be the most reliable witnesses against him. The mere knowledge that his parents held his life in their hands should have been a strong deterrent to his vicious ways. But he still went on in his wickedness, and was cut off. The mere fact that both parents gave witness against him proves nothing to the point.

27:16 “Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.”

Presumably, there is supposed to be some significance in the fact that “all the people” (including women) are to say, Amen. But the traditional interpretation does not conflict with this biblical fact. There is no suggestion that because they join in a liturgy, they are therefore equal, in the respect that I am defending. It shows how weak their case is, when they have to heap up all these irrelevant Scriptures in defense of it. But then, most people are not going to bother to check them.

Proverbs 1:8 “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:“

Proverbs 6:20 “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:”

Ephesians 6:1–4 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

Colossians 3:20 “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”

2 Timothy 1:5 “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”

I will not bother commenting on these last five, because not a one of them proves the equality of husband and wife in marriage or even in child-rearing. In fact, I should probably not have commented on any of them; for not one of all these texts prove anything against the traditional view or for the egalitarian view. As I have said before, the Feminists are reading their own doctrines into these texts, and making them say what they were never meant to say.

This concludes the part of the Manifesto that purports to teach us “biblical truths” of which we had not before been cognizant.

PART 10

Are Men and Women called to the Same Ministry roles?

Application: The Community

It is time to pass on to the part of the Manifesto called “Application”. Having (as they imagine) proved their doctrine from the Bible, they now pass on to concentrate on its practical implications.

The Manifesto ends with this section, called “Application”, with five statements: the first two dealing with Community issues, and the final three with the Family.

Before I respond to the Manifesto itself, it is of vital importance to consider how things stand. The reader, if he has patiently followed me through my critique, will be aware that I have not been timid about stating conclusions based on the Scriptures themselves as I progressed in my critique. That is because this is not an investigation; it is a refutation. I have made no pretense that the Manifesto might be right after all, and the traditional view wrong. All that is necessary is for anyone to open the Scriptures and read them, in the fear of God, to know who is right. The point of this critique was not to find out where the truth lies.

I wrote this to show, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the Manifesto is wrong throughout; and that it is also revolutionary, and dangerous. I wrote it for the benefit of those who might be influenced in favor of the Manifesto through ignorance of the Scriptures or through lack of skill in applying the principles of logic and right reason to the questions it raises. I wrote it to show the true character of those people who want to overthrow the Divine order, so that my reader will be better able to recognize the wolf in sheep’s clothing the next time he meets with it.

The first application is to the community, by which is apparently meant the church. I can only speculate about why it is so titled.

Point 1. “In the church, spiritual gifts of women and men are to be recognized, developed and used in serving and teaching ministries at all levels of involvement: as small group leaders, counselors, facilitators, administrators, ushers, communion servers, and board members, and in pastoral care, teaching, preaching, and worship.

In so doing, the church will honor God as the source of spiritual gifts. The church will also fulfill God’s mandate of stewardship without the appalling loss to God’s kingdom that results when half of the church’s members are excluded from positions of responsibility.”

I have called the authors of this document “Feminists”. If you doubt it, then please explain to me why they have deliberately chosen the phrase, “women and men”, where most of us would naturally say “men and women”? After all, they call themselves “Christian Feminists”: I did not invent the label. Whether any of them are Christians is not mine to judge; but the message of their Manifesto is not only unchristian, but unnatural and immoral. Feminism and other forms of egalitarianism are never Christian; for the Bible does not teach egalitarianism.

Egalitarian doctrine has been responsible for the shedding of more blood than any other dogma. Communism and fascism are both professedly egalitarian. It is no accident that they are also atheistic. Tens of millions were murdered and countless numbers tortured or maimed during the last century in the name of the equality of all people, and, by the way, the equality of men and women.

Egalitarianism is revolutionary. It calls for the restructuring of the entire social order. Some Feminists insist that the number of women must be equal to the number of men in every vocation and that women must be paid the same as men who do the same work. They say that any discrepancy in those numbers is an injustice. This is nothing less than a complete rejection of God’s sovereignty, for God appointed women to work at home (Titus 2:5); and He makes both the rich and the poor (Proverbs 22:2. See also Matthew 20:1-16).

God has distributed His gifts to human beings unequally, according to His sovereign will. One is born poor; another rich. The one has little liberty, being bound by his circumstances to spend most of his time providing the basic necessities of life; the other has enough, and is able to do what he wants with his time. Children are not equal to adults. Ignorant people are not the equal of educated persons. God has ordained all these conditions, as it has pleased Him. It is well if someone can improve himself and gain more liberty to serve God; but in general, God has called us to be content in our present callings. It is no shame to the laborer to be under a superintendent. It is no shame to be poor. In God’s eyes, the faithful poor man is better than a rich man who does not believe.

To say that women are inferior in status to men is simply to acknowledge that God has ordained a natural order in human society and the human family which must be respected. It is not about ability, per se. There have been women better able to rule over a nation than most men. Some wives are more competent, wiser, more godly than their husbands. It is unfortunate for such women; but it cannot be lawfully remedied. God’s order must be respected. She must obey her husband in all things. That fact in itself precludes women from divorcing their husbands, which is the ultimate act of disobedience.

There is likewise a general subordination of women to men as a class. This is expressed in the exclusion of women from the offices of the church, the biblical custom of the covering of the head on the part of women and in the silence of women in the church. These things should be encouraged by ministers of the gospel; not discouraged and undermined, as they are in this Manifesto, which says:

The… spiritual gifts of women and men are to be recognized, developed and used in serving and teaching ministries at all levels of involvement: as small group leaders, counselors, facilitators, administrators, ushers, communion servers, and board members, and in pastoral care, teaching, preaching, and worship.”

Let’s strip away the non-essentials and get down to the core of the matter.

The…spiritual gifts of women… are to be… used in… teaching ministries at all levels of involvement: as small group leaders, counselors, facilitators, administrators, ushers, communion servers, and board members, and in pastoral care, teaching, preaching, and worship.”

This I emphatically deny. But, buried in the excess verbiage, is an honest statement of what the Feminists intend to achieve; a statement consistent with the doctrines that they advocate, which are refuted in the earlier parts of this series.

The Manifesto assumes, without proof, that women are given the gifts of government, prophesying (“preaching”) and other gifts which qualify them for the offices that are currently dominated by men. Many men make the same mistake, sometimes mistaking natural gifts for spiritual gifts, and aspiring to offices for which they are not fitted. I deny that God gifts and calls women to those offices from which He has chosen to exclude them, categorically and perpetually.

In so doing, the church will honor God as the source of spiritual gifts. The church will also fulfill God’s mandate of stewardship without the appalling loss to God’s kingdom that results when half of the church’s members are excluded from positions of responsibility.”

The church honors God as the source of spiritual gifts when she recognizes and honors those who use them biblically. But according to these people, the church has never recognized in women the same spiritual gifts that it has recognized in men. If this were true, it would indeed be a tragedy! The promise of the Holy Spirit to lead the church into all truth will have failed! In that case, it would inevitably follow that women would have been abominably treated by even the best Christians we can name until now! Does anybody really believe this stuff?

… the appalling loss to God’s kingdom…”! Please, ladies! Less drama and more reasonable discussion!

It is absurd to make these preposterous claims! First of all, how are we to know that women receive the gifts that belong to the ruling offices of the church? By whose authority are these claims to be substantiated? It is a very tenuous basis that you demand we acknowledge – your own opinions of yourselves, and the opinions of other like-minded persons. Well, I for one am not impressed. For me, and many others, the final authority in matters of religion is the holy Scriptures.

You Feminists claim that by the traditional view of women in the church “half of the church’s members are excluded from positions of responsibility.” Do you hear this, all you women who are content to be wives, mothers and homemakers? This is the opinion that your Feminist sisters have of you. Is your vocation not a responsible one? I have a feeling that you would not only not agree with that evaluation, but that you would resent it. You are responsible to be supportive to your husband in his calling; to make his home a place of refuge from the world, and to rear his children with such a thorough training in sound morals and fundamental knowledge that they will be capable of living responsibly and changing the world for good.

The Feminists flee from this “lowly” calling as unworthy of them; but in fact, they are unworthy of it. They are deserters, having abandoned their biblical role for one that is forbidden to them. They think that they could never be happy as house wives; and this is probably true. If they attempted marriage, it would probably not last two years. What man could live with such a woman, who is constantly contradicting him, doing things behind his back, neglecting the house, spending all his money, and refusing the duty that belongs to her sex unless she can get something for it! There are some men who have so little self-respect; but (I hope) not many.

This is the real tragedy, the “appalling loss to the kingdom of God”! The destruction of the family, the sowing of the seeds of conflict between man and woman! There will be a bitter harvest in ruined lives and institutions as the Feminist vision is increasingly realized. When all the women are judges and congressmen and bishops and CEOs, who will mind the children? Who will meet their husbands’ needs? Who will keep the house? Other women, probably hired women, who will not care about some other woman’s children; though they may be willing to take care of another woman’s husband!

And when women usurp authority over men, no good can come of it; but only a deep resentment in the hearts of the men so disgraced as to be placed under their authority. When women are advanced over men preferentially, either because of some quota, or because the big boss wants a sex kitten in the office, the strength of the institution cannot but suffer. She may not be the best qualified person for the job; but she is there, taking up space, nonetheless.

The next statement goes further:

Point 2. “In the church, public recognition is to be given to both women and men who exercise ministries of service and leadership. In so doing, the church will model the unity and harmony that should characterize the community of believers. In a world fractured by discrimination and segregation, the church will dissociate itself from worldly or pagan devices designed to make women feel inferior for being female. It will help prevent their departure from the church or their rejection of the Christian faith.

I have said enough about the subject of the first two sentences. I want to concentrate on the last two, which read:

In a world fractured by discrimination and segregation, the church will dissociate itself from worldly or pagan devices designed to make women feel inferior for being female. It will help prevent their departure from the church or their rejection of the Christian faith.”

According to this Manifesto, “the church” needs to “dissociate itself from worldly or pagan devices designed to make women feel inferior for being female.”

This seems reasonable enough to most people, I suppose. Who wants to make women feel inferior for being female? Who wants to drive women from the church or to reject the Christian faith? The only problem is, the “worldly or pagan devices designed to make women feel inferior” are those things taught in Scripture which they are attacking throughout the Manifesto; and which I have been defending: the subordination of women, their exclusion from the ministry and the practice of covering the head.

In other words, it is worldly and pagan to expect my wife to obey me. It is worldly and pagan to prevent women from preaching. The biblical custom of covering the head is worldly and pagan. And what else? Dressing like a woman, with long hair, and with modesty? That’s probably worldly and pagan too; since Feminists have generally and visibly rejected that as well.

Anything that reminds a woman of her inferior status and subservient role is a worldly and pagan device designed to oppress women! Did you catch that? “Designed”, it says. Apparently, worldly and pagan men designed these things to conquer women and rob them of their dignity. But these institutions have, for the substance of them, existed from the foundation of the world! How is it that no prophet of God ever inveighed against these “worldly and pagan” practices? Will you dare to say that it is because the prophets were mostly men? Men they were; but they spoke under inspiration against all kinds of errors and abuses. Why not these? Abuses that destroyed and ruined women like this – is it reasonable to think that God can have passed over them for thousands of years without comment?

And how did these wicked practices become incorporated into the congregation of the Lord? How could the Apostles of Jesus Christ have defended these “worldly and pagan” differences based on sex?

The answer is that these things are neither worldly nor pagan, nor are they designed to rob women of their self-respect. They are God-ordained and holy, and designed for the blessing of men, women and children. Men must be free to make their own decisions and their own mistakes without running into opposition from their wives. They need her feminine contributions to their lives – beauty, sympathetic conversation, erotic love, a clean and orderly home, and a woman’s unique devotion to their children. This is what a wife is for, and it is a high calling that will take all that she can give! A woman that can accomplish all of these things will find a contentment and fulfillment that nothing else can ever give her. And happy is the child who is born to parents who live together in love and harmony, according to God’s holy word!

PART 11

How to Create Chaos in the Home

Application: The Family

The Manifesto concludes with a section, called “Applications”which contains three statements on the Family.

Point 3. “In the Christian home, husband and wife are to defer to each other in seeking to fulfill each other’s preferences, desires and aspirations. Neither spouse is to seek to dominate the other but each is to act as servant of the other, in humility considering the other as better than oneself. In case of decisional deadlock they should seek resolution through biblical methods of conflict resolution rather than by one spouse imposing a decision upon the other. In so doing, husband and wife will help the Christian home stand against improper use of power and authority by spouses and will protect the home from wife and child abuse that sometimes tragically follows a hierarchical interpretation of the husband’s “headship.””

This statement confirms that I have neither caricatured nor exaggerated the “Christian Feminist” position on the order God has ordained for the home. Notice the following key words and phrases descriptive of the biblical relationship of husband and wife:

to seek to dominate the other

imposing a decision upon the other

improper use of power and authority

wife and child abuse

hierarchical interpretation of the husband’s “headship.”

Let’s examine each of them, one by one, in their contexts, and the broader context of the teaching of the Manifesto, in order to ascertain their true meaning.

In the Christian home, husband and wife are to defer to each other in seeking to fulfill each other’s preferences, desires and aspirations. Neither spouse is to seek to dominate the other but each is to act as servant of the other, in humility considering the other as better than oneself.”

This creates a false dichotomy between serving each other in love and humility on the one hand, and exercising authority and accepting subordination on the other. But there is no incompatibility between the two. The husband serves by bearing the burden of authority, provision and protection of the family. The wife serves by being his companion and lover, by honoring him, by making and keeping a beautiful home, bearing children, and caring for the young. There is a difference between ruling and domination. One may rule unselfishly; but “domination” implies self-will.

In case of decisional deadlock they should seek resolution through biblical methods of conflict resolution rather than by one spouse imposing a decision upon the other.”

The word, “impose” can have a negative connotation or a positive one, depending on the context. It is clear that the Feminists, with their theory of “mutual submission” view it as a bad thing for a husband to tell his wife what to do. In their opinion, any time that the husband and wife cannot agree on a course of action, they must take up the matter with some person or persons outside the family!

What then? Does the process of conflict resolution that they envision involve a decision made by the third party and imposed on both of them? Or do they have to go back and try once more to decide on a mutually acceptable answer to the original conflict? Or do they argue about whether to follow the mediator’s recommendation or not? And who chooses the mediator or judge? The opinion of the third party might depend on who that person is. Will the husband and wife dispute the choice of the third party and have one more thing to fight about?

Anybody should be able to see that this whole idea of sexual equality and mutual submission is ridiculous! The natural and biblical arrangement of a husband exercising a sympathetic, considerate authority over the family, under God, and in the fear of God, cannot be improved upon. It is efficient and practical. The godly husband only asserts his authority when it is necessary to do so. He does not arbitrarily impose his will; but there are times when a decision must be made, and there is no time to discuss it. Or it may be that there has been a thorough discussion, and the wife still does not agree with her husband. Then the husband needs to have the fortitude to do what he thinks is best; and she must accept the decision and leave the matter to God.

All the while, she must believe that her husband is trying to do what is right; for “love believeth all things”. And if it turns out that he was wrong, he alone will bear the burden of having erred. There can be no argument about whose fault it was. This is how men learn from their mistakes, and grow.

In so doing, husband and wife will help the Christian home stand against improper use of power and authority by spouses”

Let’s notice the blatant inconsistency here. If there is such a thing as the “improper use of power and authority”, then there must be a proper use of it. But this whole document contends that there is no authority in the home; only mutual leadership and mutual servitude. How is this explained? According to the document, any use of power or authority is oppression, domination, and imposing upon another free and equal party.

In so doing, husband and wife will help the Christian home stand against improper use of power and authority by spouses and will protect the home from wife and child abuse that sometimes tragically follows a hierarchical interpretation of the husband’s “headship.

Let’s begin with the last phrase, for it is key: “a hierarchical interpretation of the husband’s ‘headship.’” This is the way the document describes the biblical doctrine of male headship. Notice that “headship” is in quotes. That’s because they have their own definition of headship; and regard our view as unworthy of the name. Now, this view of ours is associated with wife and child abuse. True, it does not say that it causes them (only follows from them); nor does it say that this always happens. But it definitely implies that, if their system were adopted, these things would not happen – that the home would be protected from these evils; which however, our system is at least partially responsible for. Will anyone still dispute that this is a revolutionary document, intended to overturn godly order in our families?

Point 4. “In the Christian home, spouses are to learn to share the responsibilities of leadership on the basis of gifts, expertise, and availability, with due regard for the partner most affected by the decision under consideration. In so doing, spouses will learn to respect their competencies and their complementarity. This will prevent one spouse from becoming the perennial loser, often forced to practice ingratiating or deceitful manipulation to protect self-esteem. By establishing their marriage on a partnership basis, the couple will protect it from joining the tide of dead or broken marriages resulting from marital inequities.”

The paragraph begins:

In the Christian home, spouses are to learn to share the responsibilities of leadership on the basis of gifts, expertise, and availability, with due regard for the partner most affected by the decision under consideration.”

Instead of the scriptural assignment of primary responsibility and authority, “spouses are to learn to share the responsibilities of leadership”.

And this sharing is to be based on “gifts, expertise, and availability”. I take this to mean that, instead of being based on the objective fact of each person’s sex, as the Scriptures teach, it is to be based on the subjective evaluation of multiple factors, of which Scripture makes no mention.

Finally, decision making is not to be based on the fixed principles of the Bible, but “with due regard for the partner most affected by the decision”. This means that, if the wife feels hurt by the decision of her husband, then the integrity of her husband must be compromised so that she gets a pass. The infallible weapons of a woman are two-fold: defrauding her husband and shedding tears. This statement virtually legitimizes them.

Then we are told that “In so doing, spouses will learn to respect their competencies and their complementarity.” It ought to read “each other’s competencies”. As written, it could mean that they learn to repect their own. I only point this out because it is another example of the carelessness with which this supposedly definitive document was drawn up.

But my main criticism of this statement is that it assumes that there cannot be due respect and real complementarity unless sex roles are abolished, and men and women become interchangeable parts in a marriage. This is nonsense. Men and women are different in so many ways – both physical and psychological – that the division of labor according to sex roles is the natural order of things. Men are generally not as good as women at things that women do; and women are not as good as men at what men do. The strength of women is in their femininity; and the strength of men is in their masculinity. There is no such thing as sexual equality: nature is against it, and so is God’s word. For the order of nature was ordained by the Creator.

Further, we are told,

This will prevent one spouse from becoming the perennial loser, often forced to practice ingratiating or deceitful manipulation to protect self-esteem.”

Wow. So the submissive wife is a “perennial loser.” Who knew that marriage was supposed to be a contest? And God’s order “forces” – forces! the poor “perennial loser” to become dishonest? And she must do this to protect her self-esteem? I thought that the way of blessedness was in submitting to the Lord’s will. I always thought that self-esteem is destroyed when we do things contrary to conscience; when we lower ourselves morally by committing sins: for example, a wife stooping to dirty tricks, deceit, sexual blackmail, etc. to control and manipulate her husband. How that could protect her self-esteem I cannot imagine.

Now, we get to learn a new phrase: “marital inequities”.

By establishing their marriage on a partnership basis, the couple will protect it from joining the tide of dead or broken marriages resulting from marital inequities.”

It is obvious that by this is meant the inequality inherent in the relationship defined by masculine headship. This is said to be the cause of “the tide of dead and broken marriages”. They have to say “dead and” because the numbers simply don’t support the idea that traditional marriages are more often broken than “partnership marriages”(to use their expression). Dead marriages are of course, something for which reliable statistices are conveniently unavailable. The known causes of dead and broken marriages are such things as easy divorce, women in the workplace (giving them economic independence and temptation to adultery), pornography and the rampant promotion of the sexual dimension of life, and marriages based on romance rather than wisdom. For thousands of years, men and women have lived in marriage to the same spouse for life. In Christian societies, divorce was a disgrace, and sometimes even illegal. These marriages produced more children per couple than ours do. The economic destruction of both parties that is so often a by-product of divorce was unknown. Children grew up in stable homes, without the sexual confusion that results when parents refuse to accept the sex roles that God has ordained.

Contrary to the dreams of the Feminists, the sure way to destroy marriages is to sweep away the basic and necessary foundations of marriage, namely, the natural order and God’s word, as they do.

Point 5. “In the Christian home, couples who share a lifestyle characterized by the freedom they find in Christ will do so without experiencing feelings of guilt or resorting to hypocrisy.

I object to the use of the term, “lifestyle” when what is being considered is really much more serious – namely, what I prefer to call a “way of life”. A lifesyle has to do with what is superficial, like a hairstyle, or a style of dress. A way of life is really a reflection of culture, the sum total of societal norms. What the Feminists advocate is not merely a change of lifestyle; but of a way of life that has worked well (allowing for the sinfulness of both men and women) for hundreds of generations. The word “lifestyle” tends to minimize the radical nature of the Feminist vision.

These “partnership marriages” are supposed to be “characterized by the freedom they find in Christ”. There is no such freedom to make marriage what we want it to be. This is not freedom, but license. The theological term is antinomianism, which means any teaching that diminishes or destroys the obligation of Christians to keep the moral law of God, either in part, or as a whole. The words of the Apostle Peter apply here: “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” (2 Peter 2:19) The freedom found in Christ is a freedom from the dominion of sin. Jesus saves us so that we may become holy, sanctified by His word. This is the true liberty, and our highest happiness.

The advantage of partnership marriages, we are told, is that couples who engage in it “will do so without experiencing feelings of guilt or resorting to hypocrisy.” Why would they have feelings of guilt, if the Bible so clearly supports them in it? Following one’s conscience does not cause guilt feelings. When you are a Christian, and the whole world is against you; but you are assured that you are doing what is right, God’s spirit will assure you, and give you peace. If you are oppressed by feelings of guilt, it’s probably because you are doing something that you know to be wrong, or at least, that you don’t know to be right.

Another advantage of the partnership marriage is that the couple is “freed to emerge from an unbiblical ‘traditionalism’ and can rejoice in their mutual accountability in Christ”. This is just more of the same stuff – the condemnation of traditional marriage as unbiblical, etc. By now, it needs no comment.

Finally, the Manifesto declares that adopting the partnership marriage lifstyle will allow the couple to “openly express their obedience to Scripture, will model an example for other couples in quest of freedom in Christ, and will stand against patterns of domination and inequality sometimes imposed upon church and family.” Yikes! What a perversion of the truth this is!

First, the partnership marriage is “obedience to Scripture”. We have seen already that this is the diametrical opposite of the truth.

Second, it is said to be “an example for other couples in quest of freedom in Christ”. God forbid! One bad apple spoils the barrel. It is too true that sinners (and the saints are still sinners) will be tempted to that which is sinful.

Third, it will allow them to “stand against patterns of domination and inequality sometimes imposed upon church and family.” Once again, headship is equated with “domination”; as if a man cannot be both strong and decisive, and yet kind at the same time! And does not this reflect a fundamental distrust of men, if not a dislike of them? I suspect that this is the reason why so many women are unwillingly to marry men who are manly.

I don’t deny that there are men who are chronic – or even criminal abusers of their wives. It is all too common in our day, and growing worse as our nation moves away from God. Even good men often wrong their wives, because no one is pefect. But – and this is not meant to justify the wrongs of men – is it not just as true that women frequently wrong their husbands? This fact, the fact of human sinfulness, is no justification for abandoning God’s institution; or remodeling it in the attempt to make it perfect. Nothing on earth will ever work as it should while people are sinners. We all sin every day in thought, word, and deed.

This concludes our examination and critique of the Feminist Manifesto, known as “Men, Women and Biblical Equality”. There only remains the postscript, which precedes a list of the authors and then of the signatories to the document. You may be interested in their names. Some of them you will recognize.

PART 12

Postscript

The Manifesto closes with these words:

We believe that biblical equality as reflected in this document is true to Scripture.

We stand united in our conviction that the Bible, in its totality, is the liberating Word that provides the most effective way for women and men to exercise their gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit and thus to serve God.”

On the other hand, I believe that “biblical equality” is a myth that is opposed to Scripture, and devastating to the family, the church, and the broader society. The church in all ages before our own has always affirmed and protected traditional sex roles. I believe that the claim of “faithfulness to Scripture” for such a vile, unbiblical and destructive doctrine is tantamount to blasphemy. I believe that men and women must use their gifts within the framework that God has really ordained; and that they greatly err who think otherwise.

I believe that this refutation is justified by the fact that the CBE still propagates this document in several languages around the world. Something ought to be available that refutes it directly. I am not aware of any other such thorough refutation extant. It has been an arduous work; but I hope to be rewarded by the help it will give to some who need to be equipped to stand against it; and by some who may be kept by it from making one of the biggest mistakes anyone can make in life – namely, by marrying a spouse who does not understand how marriage is supposed to work, or who is unwilling to accept the role that belongs to his or her sex.

Howard Douglas King

Last revised on May 10, 2022

The Biblical Basis of Christian Agrarianism

What in the World is Christian Agrarianism?

Agrarianism is a philosophy that is based on the belief in the primary importance of agriculture. Agrarians attempt to understand and articulate the ideal relationship of agriculture to the various social institutions. We believe that the physical, spiritual and social well-being of mankind depends on a common understanding of, and commitment to, man’s most ancient, and only necessary, occupation. Accordingly, we seek to articulate social theory that gives agriculture its due honor; and to urge reforms that will tend to encourage homesteading and subsistence farming as a way of life. Unfortunately, most of the agrarian literature does not represent a biblical worldview. I am trying, therefore, to propound a form of agrarianism that is both distinctively Christian and consistently scriptural, by gathering the truths scattered throughout the agrarian writings into a coherent system that rests firmly on the foundation of Holy Scripture. That is what I mean when I use the term, “Christian Agrarianism”.

What then is my purpose? Ultimately, I want to show that some of the most massive, intractable problems that we face as a society are the result of a fundamental error — the failure to define the proper corporate calling of humankind by the Word of God. That’s right! One of the main reasons that we are in the mess we are in today is because we have neglected the simple Scriptural fact that God appointed man to be a tiller of the ground. And we will never see the establishment of a truly godly social order until we return to our agrarian roots. Please take note that for some of us this point is not merely academic. I am a Christian Postmillennialist: I cherish the hope that the world will yet see a flourishing and enduring Christian social order before the bodily return of Jesus Christ to this world at the end of history. But whether or not you share that expectation, the question of man’s corporate calling is still relevant to our critique of the dominant culture.

But before I can hope to demonstrate the connection between our modern world’s repudiation of agrarian social order and the prevalent evils of modern society, I must first show a biblical basis for my agrarian belief. That is my aim in this essay.

A Proper Historical Perspective

I have been accused of teaching a new and extreme doctrine. And I admit that it may appear to be novel or extreme if it is misunderstood. So please note: I am not saying that we must all immediately sell our homes and set up farming homesteads. What I am saying is that, according to Scripture, mankind was created to till the ground. I am saying that this truth of man’s corporate duty must begin first to register, and then to resonate in our consciences. I am saying that society as a whole must somehow, sooner or later, return to a social order directed to the end for which man was made — the subduing of the uncultivated earth, the re-creation of Eden on a worldwide scale, the conversion of the wilderness into a garden that will bring forth the wholesome and the beautiful, for the praise and glory of the Creator.

This is not a new idea, but it was held almost unconsciously, as a presupposition, until the modern age, because there was no practical alternative to an agrarian order. Food production simply demanded the labor of the larger part of mankind. Man ate bread by the sweat of his brow. The rich and powerful were those who owned the most of the productive land and livestock, and the shape of society reflected this reality. Only recently have other forms of wealth superseded in importance the ownership of real property.

There never has been a church council or synod that declared the Bible to be an agrarian book. But that was never necessary, because before the industrial revolution, society was founded on agrarian principles. Since the beginning of time, most people were engaged in some way in the cultivation of the soil. No one doubted that this was proper and natural, so there was little reason to discuss it. But now we have only two percent of the population engaged in agriculture, an all-time low. The family farm is disappearing. the shift has been drastic, but few foresaw it, for it came suddenly and unannounced. Theologians didn’t debate the probable impact of the abandonment of the agrarian order beforehand — the few that raised the issue were not heeded.

It is a little known fact that the great American theologian, Jonathan Edwards deplored the change from a village-based agrarian lifestyle to an urban and commercial society. “The chief calamity, for Edwards, was the temptation to market behavior: ‘exceeding extravagant’ consumption, ‘continual’ indebtedness, ‘common people’ pursuing status through wealth, and ‘county towns’ affecting ‘to be like the metropolis. ‘”(Law and Providence in Joseph Bellamy’s New England, Mark Valeri, p. 81)

Joseph Bellamy, a crucial figure in New England during the years leading up to the War of Independence, and a disciple of Edwards, spent the latter part of his life defending Calvinism, while warning against the consequences of offending God by a mad rush towards commercialism and away from traditional agrarian community life. Valeri comments on the connection between the theological and the economic:

“Contrasting theories of human nature revealed profound disagreements about the growth of commerce and its chief premise: the autonomous pursuit of wealth in an open market. Bellamy wrote of self-denial and the subjugation of self-interest when the proponents of the market lauded self-interest as the proper means to prosperity. The debate about original sin was furious because it referred to that most mundane of matters—the economy. ” (Valeri, p. 77)

For Bellamy, not only the agrarian way of life, but Christian society itself was at stake. “In 1762, he warned Connecticut’s magistrates at the annual election that the spread of market behavior portended the total collapse of society. In the fluctuating values and prices of the market, merchants filled “their traffic full of deceit and fraud. ” Commerce lured people to forego their stewardship over and cultivation of the land, only to deal in the chimerical and fabricated world of money, where “luxury, idleness, debauchery” and “dishonesty” reigned. ” (Valeri, p. 89)

Seeing The Trees, But Missing The Forest

We tend to accept without question the things that were already established when we came into the world. A native citizen of Rome under the Caesars would never have seriously considered that the great Empire to which he owed his status and privileges might rest on a false foundation — that it was in fact an unrighteous nation, committed to the idolatrous worship of false gods and wicked men, that could only survive by preying upon the weaker surrounding nations. He would not be very open to the suggestion that his wicked nation was doomed from the start, and that, however long it survived, it carried within it the seeds of its own destruction.

In the same way, modern man takes for granted the legitimacy of the modern world, and is not easily persuaded to entertain the thought that it might be built on a false foundation. Even Christians, when they begin to see that the technological society has certain elements built into it that are harming the church and the family in obvious ways, find it hard to believe that the technological society itself might be the problem. The initial response is to look for some adjustment that can be made — ideally an easy and quick adjustment — in order to render at least that part of the technological society upon which his own welfare depends more bearable.

As an example: the godly man who learns that “public education” is just a euphemism for the systematic enslavement of his child to the state religion through the corruption of his child’s mind and soul is apt to see that he must do something immediately to protect his child — but he will rarely look further than is required to solve the immediate crisis. He may lack the categories of thought to deal with the deeper crisis of creeping (and now leaping) statism. The same man may be frustrated that he can’t support his family on one salary, and may reluctantly ask his wife to work outside the home as a solution to the urgent necessity of his present need for money. Ask him why the system is putting such financial pressure on his family, and he may answer. “Life is complicated and exhausting enough! It takes all my time and energy just to keep up. I don’t have time to worry about things I can do nothing about! ”

And so it happens that the question is rarely asked — are the evils of our modern world inherent in its system of organization and in its foundational principles? My aim is to show that technological society could never have existed if the rulers of this world had not decided that it was in their best interests to set at naught some of the most basic teachings of God’s word — that the system would be impossible to sustain if mankind ever began to operate on the principle of obedience to the whole word of God.

The Idea Of A Corporate Vocation

The assumption of modern man is that any occupation is as good as any other, as long as it’s not outright sinful and pays well. But this view is seriously flawed. Let me illustrate it this way: a fire company has a basic mission — to put out fires. While everyone in the company has a specialty, and a defined role, yet each one is there to fight fires. The driver does not sit in the cab while the others risk their lives. Furthermore, there is no entertainer in the company, no banker, no merchant, and no attorney. In terms of the mission of the fire company, such skills are not needed, and would constitute a waste of resources.

In the same way, mankind has a mission which every human being ought to be somehow involved in furthering. For God has given the human family a clearly-defined mission. That mission is the sacred stewardship of the soil from whence it came, and by which all life is nourished. It is the cultivation of the soil for the production of nutritious food and beautiful living things, to the glory of the Creator. That is the distinctive message of Christian Agrarianism — that whatever our individual gifts and callings may be, our corporate task is — and has always been — to make the world a garden.

This is not to deny the Great commission. It is to understand it. For the goal of redemption is not only to save us from wrath, but to save us to a life of godliness, which means, among other things, that we are not to be at odds with the corporate vocation of mankind that we are to fulfill God’s original purposes for mankind. God was not mistaken in creating man as he is, and the ultimate happiness of the creature called man is naturally to be found in the work that God gave to him in the beginning. Of course, the vocation of the church is to convert and train disciples of Jesus Christ. But the church has a temporal mission as well. The church has always seen it as a part of its duty to proclaim God’s truth to the powers that shape our lives. To critique the culture and offer proposals for the reform of society is in my view just to love my neighbor as myself. By changing public policy, we do good to all – especially to the poor. If we fail, we have done our best: we were faithful.

In the meantime, we must do what we can to change our way of thinking and our way of living. While it is true that we cannot all become farmers; some young men might seek employment at a farm. My last job before retirement was at Tractor Supply Company. I assembled the lawn tractors, farm equipment and so forth. I was not and am not ashamed to be called a “non-practicing” agrarian. I did what I could.

Next, we shall look at what Scripture has to say about the proper corporate vocation of mankind.

The Proper Corporate Vocation Of Mankind

Let us begin at the beginning — the Book of Beginnings. Here the Christian finds the only authoritative account of the origin of man, his true nature and Divine calling. Here we learn that after the whole creation had been completed and furnished more gloriously than any palace, populated with magnificent creatures and decorated with an abundance of fruitful vegetation, provided with rivers of pure water and abundant minerals, ceiled over with a sky that never threatened — God planted a garden. It was not enough that God had created a whole beautiful world for His children — His care was so great and so personal, that He set aside a special spot in the midst of its natural (but uncultivated) beauty for them. Here, He Himself planted a garden! The first gardener was God Himself!

The garden has been planted. All is in readiness. What remains to be done? What is lacking? “There was no man to till the ground. ”(Gen. 2:5) Just as the narrative in Chapter one stops to tell us that “the earth was without form and void”(Gen. 1:2) beforeit tells us that God imposed order on the confused mass (vss. 6-9); just as it informs us that “darkness was upon the face of the deep”(vs. 2) before the Divine command,” Let there be light! ”; just as we are shown that the man could find no suitable helpmeet in the creation (vs. 20) before we are told of the creation of woman — so we are shown a “defect” (of incompleteness) in the perfect world before the second account of man’s creation. The thoughtful listener will in each of these cases find an indication of purpose. Just as the woman, for example was made for the purpose of being a helpmeet to man, so the man was made for the purpose of tilling the ground.

Not that it was the only purpose for which God made mankind. Man was created for the purpose of manifesting the glory of the Creator in many ways. But the specific way in which the creation of the first man is presented in this crucial narrative is that the man was made to meet the need for the cultivation of the garden. (Even in a perfect world, it seems, a garden will become a jungle if it is not tended. ) But not only here (2:5) — but in verse 15 we find the same truth — “God… put him in the garden to tend and keep it. ”

From this I conclude that the proper, basic calling of mankind is the cultivation of the soil. First, Adam and his family were to maintain (“dress and keep”) the Garden of Eden in which they had been placed. But in time they were to address the task of bringing out the beauty and utility of plant and animal life throughout the whole world for God’s glory and the benefit of mankind. In the original benediction of the first pair, the words “fill the earth and subdue it” show that the uncultivated lands outside the garden were gradually to be brought under cultivation as the human family expanded. The garden was a God-given model or prototype for the rest of the earth.

The Adamic Benediction and Man’s Original Dominion

This understanding of things is based on the benediction found in Genesis 1:28. The well-known passage in Genesis 1 which relates the creation of man on the sixth day reads as follows:

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Now, it is not hard to see that in verse 28, God is not telling Adam, or anyone else, to take over an ungodly society for Christ (as some teach) — but rather making explicit man’s relationship to the lower creation in the time before that terrible event which we call “the fall of man”. In this all-too-brief period of innocence, Adam is serving the purpose for which he has been created — to be God’s gardener, a tiller of the ground. God has provided for him and His wife a wedding present — a home of surpassing beauty, comfort and convenience, made by His own hands with special attention to the needs of the first pair. But the rest of the earth is left in an uncultivated condition.

Clearly, it has been left for Adam’s progeny to make its own place in the uncursed earth after the pattern of the Garden of God, progressively expanding the actual dominion of man until the whole earth is occupied, and under cultivation. In the historical and literary context, the words, “and subdue it” could have reference to nothing else but to the cultivation of the virgin soil, and the conquest of its wildness for man’s ends. The earth was not yet under a curse, and so would offer no resistance to man’s efforts, and there was no human opposition to subdue. In any event, this is not a command to subdue the earth, so much as a blessing on man’s efforts to do so. (Of which, I will have more to say in a moment.)

The animals played an important part in the ecology of the garden, and were by these words explicitly declared to be under the authority of Adam. If the birds wanted to eat the berries before man could pick them, presumably Adam had the moral justification to exclude them by whatever means was necessary. Likewise, the cattle could be denied the delicacies of Eve’s flower plots. If Adam wanted some muscle to plow his cornfield, he was entitled to yoke oxen, and use their labor as he pleased. He could ride the horses. He was free to use the milk, the honey, and so forth made by other creatures.

Moreover, this affirmation of man’s dominion takes place in connection with a blessing of fertility upon his kind. The words are “And God blessed them, saying…” What he said was then a blessing or benediction– not a mandate, command, covenant or commission. (Though it has been called all of these things. ) The triplet, or double-parallelism “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth” is used for rhetorical effect. God is going to bless Adam with an exceedingly great number of descendants. This is more in keeping with the language of a promise than of a command. The verb used, furthermore, is not “take dominion”, but “have dominion”. It was not something to be attained, but something freely granted as God spoke the words.

This is not to say that the words do not contain a revelation of the will and law of God for mankind to us. They do reveal the natural order and corporate vocation that God established for man and the lower creatures. But to Adam and Eve, it was a blessing.

A further proof that these words contain a benediction rather than a mandate is found in the fact that nearly identical words are used in the immediately-preceding context with respect to creatures that could not have understood them at all — much less have been obligated to obedience by them. They make sense only if understood as a benediction in this case:

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. (Genesis 1:22)

This benediction is repeated at the inauguration of the “new creation” after the great flood:

And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. (Genesis 9:1,2)

The scope of the benediction (And God blessed Noah … and said…”) is otherwise the same, giving Noah and his many descendants dominion over the animals, but with this notable difference: the animals will now have to fear for their lives, for they will be food for man in a world where suitable and adequate food sources – particularly mature fruit and nut-bearing trees would be scarce for years to come. Man does not thrive on herbs – these were given to the animals for food. Grain crops would need to be grown from the seed Noah (I assume) had brought with him. He would need to find level ground with a depth of topsoil before planting. The animals would be an important element of his diet; and some of them would become dangerous, as verse 5 implies.

When the original economy of the world is alluded to in the eighth Psalm, it is once again quite clear what it is that God conferred on Adam, and what the proper scope of his authority is:

6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:6-8)

Again, the Adamic Benediction would have been understood by Adam as a blessing on him and on his progeny as they engage in the culture of the soil outside the garden. He did not need to be told to multiply, or to lay the earth under cultivation; he would have known to do this out of godly self-interest. Every species of living thing naturally pursues its own interests.

Neither does this benediction have in its purview our ungodly Technological Society, although the development and use of tools of all kinds is implied (God needs no tools to plant a garden, but man does). These words of Divine blessing would have been understood as having reference to Adam’s place and role in the world as a tiller of the ground. The development of machines as a means of enslavement and conquest would never have occurred to him. The false ideal of technological “progress” for its own sake had not yet arisen.

The original dominion of mankind was a peaceful dominion. Even the lives of the animals were safe, for Adam and his wife were explicitly given a vegetarian diet, as were the wild “beasts of the field”. There is no reason to assume that Adam’s dominion included the right to kill, anymore than man’s headship over his family contemplates that possibility. No doubt it included the right to breed them for desirable traits, to restrain them (fencing), to train and work some of them and to use their products (milk, honey, wool, horn).

We have seen what was the original calling of man, in the period of innocence. Now let us consider what Scipture teaches about man’s calling in the period subsequent to the fall.

After the Fall

Man served God for a brief time in a state of innocence. But this idyllic state was not to endure. Sin entered in, and death by sin. The first indication that man’s relationship with the world had been sadly altered was the curse on the ground. No more was the ground to “bring forth abundantly” the food of man. Whereas man had had a daily feast of rich fruits, he was to be reduced to eating the food designed for animals:”…and you shall eat the herb of the field. ”(3:18b) The ground was henceforth only to yield its increase reluctantly.

The second indication of a dreadful change in the fabric of the world was the covering that God made for them — “tunics of skins”(3:21). Animals had been killed, sacrificed for man’s sake. But not yet by man — God was the first shedder of blood. Permission to eat flesh was not granted until after the deluge had wrecked the earth’s productive capacity, and that vegetable diet that the world had always known in abundance before had become scarce.

The third indication that man’s relation to the world had changed was the ejection from paradise. Man was not worthy to remain in the beautiful house God had built for him. The cherubim and the flaming sword were to remind him that there was to be no way back. Paradise was to be left to decay, rather than house a miscreant. “…therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. ” (Genesis 3:23) Once again, the vocation of the man is explicitly stated. His status had altered, his location also — but not his basic calling.

What does Scripture say about man’s calling in the restored Paradise?

The great disruption had occurred. The life of the man was no longer easy. His very survival would often be in question. His life, though greatly prolonged, would never reach to a thousand years. More importantly, Adam now had to concern himself with the terms of his new relationship with God. That he had such a relationship is clear. He had a specific promise that his seed would finally destroy the serpent. That this was a promise of redemption in Christ is beyond doubt. It implies all that the Bible teaches regarding the restoration of paradise for the new redeemed humanity through the second Adam.

Christ our Redeemer is the great theme of Scripture and of human history. Redemption restores creation to its original purposes. In the prophecies of Scripture, God is depicted as reversing the curse, restoring the fruitfulness of the ground. Man is to enjoy the fruits of his labor, and rest in them without molestation. This shows that the vocation of mankind abides unaltered. In the restored paradise, he is a gardener still. God’s plan for man has not changed.

Individual versus Corporate Calling

Now, let me state an important caveat. To say that man’s corporate calling is agriculture is not to say that every individual is called to be a farmer. For God has not limited all men to the identical task, nor given all men the same gifts or aspirations. Godly Abel was a shepherd, and his murderer was a tiller of the ground. The Scripture allows for many vocations, and the division of labor is a sound principle. But the fact remains that the task set for mankind as a whole is to make the earth a fruitful garden. If we specialize in — for example — tool-making, it should be to make tools which will help in some way to accomplish the overall task. They may be tools to make clothing, or tools to build houses, or tools to plow the ground or harvest crops. They may be simple hand tools, or the more complex tools that we call “machines”. But what gives the specialty legitimacy is that it improves the way that the whole community works together to support the common agricultural enterprise, realizing the God-created potential of the land.

Modern man is in rebellion against his God-ordained vocation.

If as a society we have a different goal than “subduing the earth” in this Biblical sense, then we are in outright corporate rebellion against our Maker. If we are employed in work that undermines this Divine plan, or we are in a legitimate field, but using methods which work against the purpose of God, we are also in rebellion against God. We cannot excuse ourselves by saying “I have to make a living! ” God knows how to provide for those who put His purposes ahead of their own earthly interests.

A Dangerous Course

In most of human history and over most of the world, man has had no alternative to agriculture. Only in recent times did it occur to us to abandon the ancient norm and leave our food production in the hands of a few specialists. The final cost of this risky experiment has not been measured. But it is clear that we are using and destroying more resources than any generation in history. And it is becoming more obvious that the food produced by mass industrialized cultivation is inferior, unwholesome and sometimes dangerous.

We have taken a detour from the biblical plan in favor of hedonistic lifestyles and the values of materialism. We have abandoned our calling to exercise godly dominion over the earth, and instead are exercising an ungodly and destructive dominion. Modern man no longer sees himself as God’s image, but as God himself! He claims autonomy and sovereignty over the universe. He is making up his own rules as he goes along — he sees no need for a knowledge of the past. But as a result of our rebellion, we are nearing a crisis, as productive agricultural land becomes scarce.

If we valued the earth’s resources according to their utility in sustaining and enriching our lives, then air and water would be joined in the same class by topsoil. If we honored men according to the value of their contribution to the well-being of society, the farmer would be among the upper classes. This alone shows how upside-down the values of the popular culture are.

We Americans who have been born since the Second World War have never known hunger, but that is no guarantee that we will not. If God is still the moral governor of the world, then it is all but certain that we shall experience hunger before long — in spite of our present domination of the world, and in spite of the apparent security which our wealth and influence provide. And it is likely that we will be ourselves the cause of it. For we are on a suicidal course of destroying the productive capacity of the earth.

G. T. Wrench, in his book, The Restoration of the Peasantry documents the history of Roman agriculture, and shows that mighty Rome could not sustain its agricultural output because the productive lands passed out of the hands of the farmers into the hands of urban moneylenders and thence to the effete aristocracy. Thus, the lands were only an additional source of income to the owners, and not their very lives. They were neglected or else exploited, and soon lost their fertility. Rome relied in the end on North Africa to feed its millions. This is not the only cause of the decline of Rome, but it is one that few are aware of today. We are on a similar course, with multinational corporations and bankers owning most of the productive soil in America, rather than freehold farmers.

Our Utter Failure as God’s Stewards

Man was made from the ground, and his natural environment is the fertile land and the open air. Nothing can change this — it is how we are made. Moreover, the Creator gave mankind in the beginning a stewardship over the soil. Coordinate with dominion is responsibility — a steward is accountable for what he does with his Master’s resources. Modern man has failed miserably in this regard, and when he is called to account, he is likely to lose all that he has or ever hopes to have. For history shows nothing even approaching the rate of destruction of productive land that we achieved in the last century, and are continuing apace in this new millennium.

We have sown the land with death, rather than life. Millions of unexploded bombs and shells and land mines defile the land in the war zones of modernity. In southeast Asia, making prosthetics for people who have stepped on mines is a major industry. How shall we answer to God for this new abomination of desolation?

We are “making progress“ in other areas, as well. The EPA notwithstanding, pollution continues but slightly abated. The Chesapeake Bay is cursed with an over-abundance of a tiny but deadly creature called physteria, which attacks fish and man. The cause seems to be the runoff from chicken “factories”. The chickens live in a cruel captivity out of the fresh air, and their droppings are piled up to compost outside, and then be mixed with cattle feed for extra protein. (Remember that next time you want a hamburger. ) The cattle eat it — they have no choice. But large quantities of the droppings wash into the water and nourish pfiesteria, which are threatening the fishing industry around the bay.

And what of the productive farmland taken out of use by developers to be paved over to make roads, parking lots, or airports? Or, if not, turned into golf courses, parks or suburban estates, where food will never be produced? What of the so-called “public lands” where private ownership and agriculture are outlawed? And the landfills that leak toxins, farming practices that deplete the soil and kill beneficial microbes, massive erosion, mega-mining, nuclear testing and accidents, large-scale clear-cutting of forests, oil spills — the list is endless! These things are often condemned, but they go on because of the money behind them. Some people don’t care if they kill us all, as long as they can have more — and ever more — to waste on their own useless selves.

Rates of erosion were already high enough in the twenties that our national government took action and formed a bureaucracy to deal with it. Now it is much worse. Whence these unprecedented floods of the great rivers all over the world? It’s very simple. Precious soil eroded from the lands cleared but not protected by vegetation fills up the riverbeds, leaving little room for the water that fills them during the rainy seasons. These floods will continue to devastate the lives of millions of the world’s peasant farmers, and increase, for each flood carries more soil away — unless there is drought. Drought is equally destructive — the soil dries up and blows away.

What is it going to take for us to abandon this suicidal course? Judgments of God may depopulate the earth and end our capability to destroy. Or a true revival of biblical faith and subsequent reformation may come in the mercy of God, and change man into a preserver and life-giver instead of the most destructive beast on the planet. But something must end it. It is God’s earth, after all — and He will act — we can be sure of that. Are we going to be on His side then? Or will we be the ones opposing His purpose?

You can listen to an early edition of this essay at http://northcountryfarmer.com/?p=266

Howard Douglas King

What’s Wrong with the B.C. Dating System?

The Great Importance of a Certain Date

Have you ever noticed the special care that Luke used to nail down the exact year that John began to preach? (Luke 3:1-2) It is not only the fifteenth year of the Roman emperor, but also the year in which all these other dignitaries were in office. Why be so full and particular? As far as I can tell, there is nothing like this attention given to any other date in the Bible. Should we attach some great importance to this date?

And why did the people speculate that John might be the Messiah; or Elijah, who, according to Malachi (ch. 4:5), was to precede the coming of Messiah?

And what did Jesus mean when he said “The time is fulfilled”? (Mark 1:15)

The answers to these questions are matters of biblical chronology; a branch of history that is concerned with the dating of biblical events.

The short answers to our questions are these:

The date was so important that it was given special attention because it was the year when the Jews expected the Messiah to appear.

That is why they thought that John might be the Messiah; but he told them that he was only a herald. Since the purpose of John’s ministry was to announce the Messiah, he faded out of the picture soon after he had born testimony to Christ (John 3:30), being imprisoned and then murdered by Herod.

The Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, had appeared not long after John started baptizing. (Luke 3:21) John proclaimed Him to be “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world”. At his baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a dove and God the Father spoke from Heaven, saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”.

Jesus began to preach forty days after His baptism, by which time John was in prison. And what did he preach? The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the good news.” (Mark 1:14-15)

The identity of the Christ was therefore authenticated by the time of his appearance as well as the witness of God’s herald, the words of the Father, and the visible descent of the Spirit.

B.C. Dating: an Impediment to the Study of Chronology

Most Christians do not appreciate the importance of chronology (or, by the way, geography) to the proper understanding of Scripture. They tend to read the Scriptural record as a collection of isolated incidents, rather than a continuous history. Only an acquaintance with biblical chronology can correct this tendency.

It does not help that an artificial system is being used to date the events of Old Testament history. This system is no improvement – but rather a detriment – to the understanding of the Bible. I refer to the system of B.C. dating. This is the system used in nearly all the Bible dictionaries and other sources used for studying and teaching the Bible.

There are several problems with B.C. dating. To start with, it is inaccurate. Our Lord was not born in the first year A.D., but probably in what is now called 5 B.C. (The inventor of the system made a mistake at the outset.) Besides, B. C. dating is backwards, counter-intuitive and difficult to keep straight. Moreover, as Anstey has shown, many of the accepted B.C. dates are contradicted by Scripture.

But the basic problem is that it is a system that no one has ever used in real life. It is completely unnatural. No one has ever been able to date an event he has witnessed from an event yet future. Every dating system known to man has measured the passing of time from some defined point in the past. This odd feature of B.C. dating passes unnoticed; but it is highly significant. Because of this, all the B.C. dates are artificial, and must be derived indirectly, from calculations that make assumptions about the validity of the dates that are the basis of those calculations.

By contrast, the Bible dates events naturally, by eyewitnesses and other authorities, in their relation to the dates of past events; and connects them to a continuous chronology that is ultimately anchored at the creation of the world. These dates are called “Anno Mundi” (A.M.) which means “Year of the World”.

The Uncertainty of A.D. And B.C. Dates

If the Bible gave us the exact count of years from the creation to the beginning of the A.D. era, then we might easily date the creation in terms of that many years B.C., and other biblical dates could then be converted to B.C. dates by subtraction from that number. So, for example, if Christ was born 4,041 years after the world began, but five years before A.D. 1, creation would be correctly dated at 4,046 B.C., and other dated biblical events could likewise be dated in B.C. terms. So, the Exodus, which is dated 2,513 A.M., might be said to have occurred in 1,533 B.C.

But Scripture does not give us the exact count of years from the creation to the birth of Christ. Rather, it gives the count of years from the creation to the baptism of Christ, when he was anointed with the Holy Spirit and was formally revealed as the “Messiah”, or “anointed one” – the “Christ”. Daniel predicted that Messiah would appear at the end of 69 “weeks” from the year of Israel’s deliverance from the Babylon captivity in the first year of Cyrus. (Daniel 9:25) Actually, the word “weeks” in our English Bibles is misleading. The Hebrew text uses the word, “sevens”. The prophecy specifies the time using the unit of a hebdad. It is obvious from the time of fulfillment that these were sevens of years.

The Old Testament chronology is linked at the point of the decree of Cyrus to a sixty-nine week (four hundred and eighty-three years) span. This is arrived at by adding the “seven weeks” to the “threescore and two weeks” of Daniel’s “seventy weeks” prophecy. That span of years terminates at the public appearance and anointing of Messiahhis baptism, not his birth – in the beginning of the seventieth week.

His exact age at that time may have been thirty years, depending on how one understands Luke 3:23, translated in the A.V. as “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age”. A. T. Robertson however, approves of William Tyndale’s translation: “Jesus was about thirty yere of age when he beganne” [that is, to teach]. Robertson says that the AV translation is grammatically “impossible”. But whether Jesus’ baptism was as early as 25 A.D., or as late as 28 A.D. is uncertain. Hence we cannot be as precise with B.C. (or A.D.) dates as we can with A.M. dates, which are accurate to the year, and are anchored at the creation of the world. So that we can say with certainty that Christ was baptized in the year 4072 A.M., according to the inspired and infallible Word of God.

True, the use of the B.C. method suggested above yields results close enough for most purposes. Even allowing for the inherent range of error, it shows how far off most of the chronologists are in dating the Exodus, which occurred in 2,513 A.M. Or @1,533 B.C. One runs into dates as wide of the mark as 1,652 B.C. (Fausset), and 1,490 B.C. (Ussher, Barnes, Smith, Easton). Ussher is an interesting example, because he gives the correct A.M. date for the Exodus; but because of errors in the latter part of his chronology, his B.C date for it is way off.

There is No Reliable Secular History Before Alexander the Great

One reason for these discrepancies is that there is not enough solid data from secular or biblical sources to construct a history of the period from the close of the canon of Scripture, during the Persian period, to the era of Alexander the Great, that succeeded it. There is nothing that can be called a true history apart from the Hebrew Scriptures before Alexander. And as to the Jews, this was the period in which Israel had no prophet, the centuries of God’s silence that ran from Malachi to John the baptist. The chronology of this period was, of course, recorded by the Jews, in their “Seder Olam”; but that is not inspired Scripture.

For these reasons, I conclude that unless one accepts and correctly uses the prophecy of Daniel’s seventy weeks, he cannot know, even approximately, how long this period was. But it must be known for any B.C. date earlier than this period to be correctly reckoned. The “canon of Ptolemy” is supposed to be reliable, and it is the only apparent “bridge” between Cyrus and Alexander. But it is really useless because, despite the genius and learning of Ptolemy, his chronology must be rejected as conjectural. Ptolemy was not himself a witness to the length of the Persian period, living, as he did about 700 years after the reign of Cyrus; and he also failed to cite any ancient sources for his chronology. But most important, the acceptance of his dates runs into conflict with the dates given in the biblical chronology. (For further discussion of the problems with Ptolemy’s chronology, see The Wonders Of Biblical Chronology, by Philip Mauro, page 8.)

The ancient Romans dated everything from the supposed date of the founding of their city, which was, according to the Julian calendar, in 754 B.C. This would be approximately 3292 Anno Mundi, the 14th year of Amaziah, King of Judah. However, there is no synchronism — no dated event specified in both Roman and biblical records — by which we can directly connect the biblical chronology and the Roman without using B.C. dates.

Biblical Chronology is Irreconcilable with Secular Chronologies

We should not be surprised, therefore, to find that the dates given in, or deduced from, the chronological statements of Scripture do not agree with the accepted dates for events in ancient history. But what do we do when discrepancies occur? Which is more certain, the dates derived from holy Scripture, or those assigned by the uncertain traditions of men?

The unprejudiced student of chronology will soon discover that secular B.C. dates often rest on a combination of facts and conjecture that is by no means rock-solid. Whatever problems may exist in systematizing the Bible’s chronological statements; at least Scripture contains a continuous record of successive events that were given their dates by contemporaries, working within a common framework, counting from the creation of the world. There is no other such record in all the annals of the ancients – nothing that even makes a pretense of it. (Admittedly, if there had been any such record besides the one handed down in the fifth chapter of Genesis, it would have perished in the Great Flood.) Moreover, an orthodox doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture requires us to believe that all the chronological statements of Scripture are infallible.

I submit that Christians would be a lot more conversant with the Bible’s history, and much less confused about its chronology, if Anno Mundi dates were used as the ordinary way of referring to the times of biblical events. Let the scholars use their B.C. dates while they debate about the reconciliation of this or that pagan nation’s historical records with the Bible’s. A Christian chiefly needs to know the chronological information that the Omniscient Author of holy Scripture has seen fit to reveal in the Bible itself. The Christian thus equipped will find his understanding of the Bible clarified and enriched thereby.

Howard Douglas King

May 6, 2015

Last Revised April 30, 2022

What is a Sinner?

A sinner is not just someone who is not quite perfect. Nobody is going to wake up in Hell and say, “If only I hadn’t stolen that cookie when I was a child, I wouldn’t be here!”

A sinner is not someone who tried his best to be good, but fell short. No one is going to stand before God and say, “I admit I failed; but you are a God of mercy, so I know you won’t be so harsh as to disregard all my sincere efforts. So which way to the pearly gates?” Jesus didn’t die to make up for our shortcomings.

A sinner is someone who is under the dominion of sin so completely that he is usually not conscious that he is sinning. A sinner may be very sure of his own goodness — or at least of his sincerity. But if he is, then he is just practicing self-deceit. A sinner is not good. He’s not even trying to be good. He doesn’t want to be good — he wants to do what he wants, even if he knows it to be evil. He sins from the heart. Yes, he sometimes shocks even himself by doing something so bad that he didn’t know he was capable of it. He may be surprised by a temptation and fall into a sin that he never premeditated. But this does not mean that he didn’t make a choice, and do it intentionally.

What constitutes a sin

There are three things that can make any act a sin. The sinner sins in all these ways:

1) He commits acts that are sinful as to the matter. These are acts forbidden in themselves by the moral law of God. He may keep some of the commandments of God in an outward sense, but not all; and none in the true and spiritual sense Jesus insisted on in the sermon on the mount.

2) He acts from an unlawful motive. Even when doing something lawful in God’s sight, often it is only for show, or for gain, or for other evil motives. Sometimes God’s interest happens to coincide with his own; but where self-interest reigns in the heart, you have nothing but sin. We ought to have God’s will as our supreme motive for everything we do. Self ought to be secondary; and the minute we see that God’s will and ours conflict, we must sacrifice our selves.

3) He sins in his manner. He does something lawful — perhaps even with good intentions — but in a way that is not lawful.

Sin is deceitful

A sinner sins in thought, word, and deed, all day long, all the days of his life. He may be outwardly moral, and seem a good neighbor and a responsible citizen, but this is only the outside that he has learned to create to impress his fellow-man or himself — perhaps to impress God. But God sees what is inside, and that is the only thing that matters. That is the true man.

Sin is exceedingly sinful

We have all seen villains depicted in plays and movies and in novels that are so morally offensive that we find ourselves wanting very much to see them severely punished. We may be moved to anger, as if it were not play-acting, but something happening in real life! But there is no villain in any story that is worse than the common, garden-variety sinner is in real life. Listen to how Jesus describes the things that are generated by the evil heart of man:

And he said, “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:20-23)

In the New Testament epistles, written to churches, or bodies of believers, there are found “catalogs of sins”; such as Romans 1:28-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:8-11. I used to think that these lists referred only to those who have not been converted, or to believers before their conversion. I did not realize the truth of Paul’s words “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18). I did not see that those lists describe me!

The Saints are Still Sinners

The truth is that the saints are still sinners. They are no longer the blind and powerless slaves of sin, it is true. There is a new nature, and it increasingly shows itself; but the old self is still there, living within, fighting against the new self. We have stopped doing many things which we used to do, and begun to learn our spiritual duties; but we are very, very far from perfection. We need to hear this: we need to be humbled by our sins. We need to learn to see our sins as God sees them: to hate our sins, and to use all means to avoid them. We need to “watch”, which in Scripture means to “be on guard” against occasions of sin and sudden temptations. These things we will not do if we remain blind to the evil that is in our bosoms.

The very fact that the saints are unable to conform themselves completely to the will of God, even though they desire this most sincerely and ardently shows how completely corrupt the sinner is, and demonstrates the native strength of sin in the hearts of all men.

What it Means to be a Sinner

One of the most painful aspects of the Christian life is the knowledge of the sinfulness of man: both our own, and that of others. It is not a pretty picture that we see as we observe our own lives; and it is not encouraging to view the progress of human affairs without the illusions that most people embrace to make life more bearable.

In addition, it is grievous to realize how blind people are about their own miserable state. Our catechism teaches us that we are born into “a state of sin and misery.” (See Westminster Shorter Catechism Questions 13-19.) The Catechism explains our awful plight in the following words:

Question 19: What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?

Answer: All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of Hell for ever.

This is a good summary of the terrible condition that we are in. There are 5 elements, which we will consider one by one:

1. The sinner is alienated from God.

2. The sinner is under His wrath and curse.

3. The sinner is liable to all temporal miseries.

4. The sinner must soon die.

5. If the sinner continues in this state until death, he will be damned forever.

1. Alienated from God

We are not born innocent, or in fellowship with God. A child does not have to be taught to rage whenever his will is crossed: he has to be taught not to. The psalmist said, “They go astray from the womb, speaking lies”. God must act to change the heart before we are even desirous of His fellowship. In our hearts, we are all God’s enemies. (Romans 8:7)

But God is also our enemy. He is, so to speak, forced to oppose us, for we are out to sabotage His holy and good plan for the world of men. Our evil thoughts, sinful words, wicked actions, and corrupting influence on others cannot be ignored. The One who cares for the widow and fatherless cannot sit smiling while his subjects oppress them. God is so far from being pleased with us, that he counts us His enemies. The sinner needs to understand that this is a terrible thing: the danger is extreme! We are in need of reconciliation, and there is nothing we can do to remove his enmity: only He can do that. (2 Corinthians 5:19)

2. Under His wrath and curse

We are not to think of God as losing His temper like we do. When He is angry, it is not something He regrets and tries to repress. His wrath is like the righteous indignation with which a man fights to drive an invader from his home with deadly force. No, when the Lord God acts in wrath and fury, it is willingly, with His whole self. He is therefore “greatly to be feared”, as the Scripture says. (Psalm 89:7)

What is the significance of the curse of God? What does it mean to be under His curse? A curse is a malediction; as a blessing is a benediction. It means that, while we are in our sins, God wishes us ill. It means that God has fixed and declared His intention to destroy the sinner. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. God never goes back on His curses; for God’s purposes are unchanging, and when He gives his word, He means it. That is why, if God is to bless us; there must be someone else who was willing and able to bear that curse for us, in our place. (Galatians 3:14)

We must understand that His curse is not something that is owing to a moment of passion, when God “forgets himself” as we do; or “doesn’t know what he is doing” or “doesn’t mean what he’s saying”. God’s curse is deliberate, well considered. From eternity, He has intended to curse those who would despise His good laws, and who would rather choose to do evil. Nothing can make Him change His mind on this. Truly, the fact of God’s wrath and curse should make every sinner tremble!

3. Liable to all temporal miseries

There are innumerable ways to suffer; and human beings have a practically infinite capacity for pain. It requires no proof that life is filled with misery. Though we would rather dwell on our dreams and ambitions of happiness in this life, few ever approach happiness; and those who do so do not find their happiness in temporal things, nor do they live free of sorrow. Rich or poor, old or young, no one can insulate himself from pain, so that he is not touched by it. This is the will of God for sinners in this world.

But this sad state of affairs need not last forever: eternal happiness may be ours, if we die as true Christians. And Christians receive many compensations, even in this life: inner peace, joy, and communion with God and His people — not to mention a thousand promises of preservation, protection, and His constant care.

4. Soon to die

Who ever thinks about death? Our culture constantly sets before us images of death and dying; but in such a way that we rarely if ever think what it is like to die, or what it means to die. People will do almost anything rather than willingly give up their lives. The fear of death absolutely drives us. (Hebrews 2:15) We are so afraid that we cannot allow ourselves to think that we are afraid.

Billions take refuge from that fear in the various religions of the world; by trying to conciliate whatever powers there may be to be faced after death. Some try to convince themselves that there is nothing after death; but this too is motivated by their fear of death. The way that men view the world and the way they live are rarely (if ever) determined by rational consideration. The world-views that men hold to are a consequence, in large part, of the way they have chosen to hide themselves from the reality of death, and the fear of what is beyond. It may truly be said that, in the hearts of men, the terror of death reigns: that is, unless Christ who has conquered death, lives in us.

Every one of us will certainly die; and then he must stand before his Judge to give an account of his life, and enter at last into his eternal destiny as a saint in Heaven, or as a sinner in Hell. (Matthew 25:46)

5. Damned forever without repentance

Forever! What one word has more of hope or of fear in it than this one? If death is not the end — and no one really believes that it is — then what awaits us on the other side? It must needs be wonderful beyond all imagining or dreadful beyond our worst fears if only because it is our eternal destiny! Eternal life (John 5:24) or eternal death! (Matthew 25:41) Everlasting joy or everlasting woe!

People refuse to confront facts that, if true, cannot be endured. If a man finds that he is ruined with no way of escape; he often loses his reason, rather than face dishonor, shame, poverty, or whatever it is in which his entire happiness consists. But no ruination that we can ever face here can compare with damnation; for all else is temporary. Ordinarily, we find ways to bear what we must; and we have family and friends, who help us bear up. But our chief consolation as Christians, when we are in any trouble, is that nothing in this life lasts forever! But damnation is forever. Oh, my friends! Damnation is forever!

What the sinner must do to be saved

If you have never repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus Christ to save you, you must do it now! The wrath of God is about to fall upon you with all the crushing weight of His infinity and eternity! Make your escape while you still can — tomorrow may be too late! Flee from the wrath to come! Cast away anything that will hinder you in your flight! Be assured, there is no other way! There is salvation in Jesus Christ; and in no other! (Acts 4:12)

Stop putting it off, making excuses, clinging to the miserable life that you have been living, which is worth nothing! Go to God, confessing that you are a wretched, evil thing, that you are unworthy to be taken notice of by such a great and holy God, that you deserve to be cast away forever for the greatness and multitude of your sins. Beg Him to receive you for the sake of His dear Son, who came into the world to save sinners such as you are. Remind Him of His promises to hear and receive us if we will only humble ourselves and accept His free grace. Surrender to Him unconditionally — stop your stupid, ruinous fighting against the authority of your Creator. He is your God! Fall down before Him in worship and be grateful that He deigns to invite your worship! These things you must do, or you are lost, and lost forever! (Mark 9:43)

What the Saints must do

With blessing comes responsibility. If you are among those blessed ones whom God has, by sovereign grace called into His kingdom and glory, this is what you must do: you must pity, preach to, and pray for those who are in such awful danger as this! (2 Corinthians 5:11)

If sinners are to be saved, there must be some way for God to reconcile those who are alienated from Him. Jesus has satisfied the honor and justice of the offended majesty of God; and thus made a way for God’s forgiveness and favor. Should we not tell them this? (Romans 10:14)

If sinners are to be saved, there must be an appeasement of God’s righteous anger. This also was accomplished when Jesus died in the place of sinners. Is this not worthy to be proclaimed? (Romans 1:16)

If sinners are to be saved, there must be a lifting of the curse. Some way must exist whereby God neither breaks His word nor carries it out. Infinite wisdom has found out the way: the curse falls on another who is by nature indestructible. He bears the awful load for us, in our place; and is not crushed — only because He is Divine. The elect sinner, bound to Christ in a mystical union that has existed from eternal ages, is freed from the curse forever. Is this not good news? (Luke 8:1)

God has promised to save a great number of sinners from all the nations of the earth! If we are believers indeed, should we not believe this, and pray for the soon fulfillment of this blessed word? Are we not taught to pray, “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”? If we are sincere in that prayer, we will pity the lost, preach the gospel to them, and pray for them.

Pity, preach and pray!

Glory to God! Amen!

Howard Douglas King

Last Revised July 29th, 2022

Are You a Biblical Christian?

And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26c)

What is a Christian? There are many different ideas of what a Christian is. Some people call themselves Christians, who yet have no distinct idea of what the term properly means. Plainly, all men are not Christians; but what does the word really mean?

The Bible tells us that the term was first used in Antioch of Syria, where there was a congregation of disciples of Jesus Christ. It was these disciples who were first called Christians. But what is a disciple of Christ? In general, a disciple is a learner, or a committed follower of some teacher. But it is not merely a student of certain ideas, laws, or principles that is meant by a disciple. It is not enough to profess our adherence to certain ideas or formulations of truth. The word “disciple” implies a discipline, or rule of life that is followed, in imitation of the master. In the ancient world, a disciple usually lived with the master, as the twelve lived with Jesus. A disciple imitates his master, living in obedience to the principles taught by him.

The Bible has a great deal to say on this subject; but for brevity’s sake I will confine myself to the words of Jesus Himself, in which He declares what it is that is required of a man in order to be His disciple.

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

Jesus must take precedence over one’s most sacred relations: father, mother, wife! If it comes to a choice of losing my family or disobeying my Lord, I must be willing to lose my family.

And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)

I must be willing to take up the cross of persecution and suffering for the sake of Jesus and His gospel, and persevere in that course, even if it should mean my death.

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33)

I must be willing to give up everything I own, and to trust only to the provision of my heavenly Father, or I am no Christian. To love the good of this world more than God is idolatry. Like Jesus, I must be content to have no place to lay my head.

In all three of these statements of Jesus, it is stressed that to be a disciple of Jesus is to be totally devoted to Him. True discipleship is laying down my life for the sake of Christ.

This devotion would be wrong for any mere man to ask. Only one who is both God and man could properly ask to be put first at all times, before all persons whatever! This is a commitment which it is lawful to make only to God. It follows that the Christian, the true disciple of Jesus, is one who believes that He is God.

And that means that a Christian believes all that He taught — about Himself and about the Divine inspiration and authority of the Bible.

So to be a biblical Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ, means to live a life committed to learning, believing and obeying all that Jesus taught; and to following His example of unwavering faith in the truth of holy Scripture, of steadfast hope of the resurrection, and of self-denying, sacrificial love to God and man.

Do these words describe you? Are you a biblical Christian? Or have you been pretending to be something that you really are not? Most people who call themselves Christians are mere pretenders. They hope to be saved, but have never counted the cost. Their profession is so superficial that no one who knows them well will put much stock in it.

Many believe that faith alone saves. It is true that we are saved by faith, and not works; and that everyone who believes will be saved. But that is only half the truth.

The other half is that faith without works is dead (James 2:20). Real saving faith always shows itself by good works! There is no such thing as faith without repentance; and repentance is a change of heart that always issues in good works.

Many have been taught that discipleship is an option, and only affects rewards; but this is a lie! Discipleship is just true Christianity. If you opt out of discipleship, you are opting out of salvation and eternal life. Listen to what Jesus says:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Let me assure you, this is no trivial matter. Consider the following words of Jesus:

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

Are you wise or foolish? “Let no man deceive you. God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

“The Third Day” and Resurrection

“And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:” (Luke 24:44-46)

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

Have you ever wondered what Jesus and Paul were referring to when they said that the Scriptures predicted the resurrection of Christ on the third day? I have been unable to find a single clear and unequivocal prediction of this in the entire Old Testament. Of his death and resurrection, yes; but nothing about His three days in the grave.

But there must be another kind of prediction just as compelling for them to have said this. I think I have found it, and I would like to share my findings with you.

Typical Prophecy

Jesus promised His unbelieving generation a sign, citing the case of Jonah, who was like a dead man – three days in the belly of the whale – then delivered from death (Jonah 1:17;2:10).* The record of Jonah, then, is a prophecy, albeit a typical one, of the death, burial and resurrection of the Savior.

“But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:39-40)

I believe that Jesus is here authorizing us to look for Him in the Old Testament in the form of types and figures. Fifteen times, Jesus predicted that he would be raised from the dead on “the third day”. The significance of this phrase is found in the way it is used in the Old Testament.

Examples

When Abraham was going to sacrifice his son, he fully expected that God would raise him from the dead to keep all the promises concerning him:

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” (Hebrews 11:17-19)

In the original account, it is noted that the mountain came into view on the third day of the journey. A thoughtful reader might well ask why this is even mentioned, for it is of no apparent importance. But it makes sense as a marker of the theme of resurrection.

“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. (Genesis 22:3-4)

While in prison, Joseph interpreted the dreams of two inmates. In this account, the number three is prominent, appearing in all 9 times (3 X 3)! On the third day, the butler and the baker were “raised” from their dungeon.

 

“And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.” (Genesis 40:20)

Joseph imprisoned his brothers, then let them out after three days.

“Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies. And he put them all together into ward three days. And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God: If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses: (Genesis 42:16-19)

The law of purification for touching a dead body requires washing with holy water on the third day.

“He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days. He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean. (Numbers 19:11-12)

Gill comments:

“on the third day; from the time of his touching the dead body. Aben Ezra intimates, that there is a secret or mystery in this and the following number seven; it may respect the third day of Christ’s resurrection, who, as he shed his blood for the expiation and purification of sinners, so he rose again the third day for the justification of them:

and on the seventh day he shall be clean; which may denote the perfect state, or sabbath of rest, which remains for the people of God, when all Christ’s purified and justified ones shall be clear of all sin, and be the spirits of just men made perfect:

but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean; whoever is not cleansed from his sins by the blood of Christ, shed for the remission of them, and is not justified from them by him that rose from the dead the third day, will never be cleansed in the world to come, or in the eternal sabbath; but it will then be said, “let him that is filthy be filthy still”, Rev 22:11.”

The Gibeonites, who were under death sentence as Canaanites by the ban of God, deceived Joshua; and when he found out three days later, they must have thought they were dead men; but the oath he had made to the Lord stood, and their lives were spared.

“And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them. And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim.” (Joshua 9:16-17)

In the history of David, as he is pursuing the Amalekites who had burned and plundered Ziklag while he was away, we find this interesting account, full of seemingly gratuitous detail:

“And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water; And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights. And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days agone I fell sick.” (1 Samuel 30:11-13)

When the son of Elijah’s hostess died, Elijah raised him from the dead in the following manner:

“And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again. And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” (1 Kings 17:19-22)

Hezekiah was first told by Isaiah the prophet that he would die of his disease, but when he prayed, God heard him, and promised him that he would be healed the third day.

“Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, ‘Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.'” (2 Kings 20:5)

Hosea recognized this pattern when he said to Israel, then facing the judgment we know as the captivity:

“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.” (Hosea 6:1-2)

This is difficult to interpret. Some, as Barnes, find in it a direct prediction of the resurrection of Christ; but I think this is forced. The context favors an explanation in terms of Israel “He will raise us up” and the coming captivity. I think the meaning is that national resurrection was certain after a short time. Isaiah and Jeremiah had already foretold it. Perhaps the “three days” represent the three generations of kings of Babylon – Nebuchadnezzar, and his son, and his son’s son – that would reign over the Jews before they would be set free (See Jeremiah 27:7).

Esther knew that it could mean her death if she entered the king’s presence uncalled for. As she said to Mordecai:

“All the king’s servants, and the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty (3 times 10) days.” (Esther 4:11)

But in view of the danger the Jews were in, she bravely determined to risk her life by seeking an audience with the king. She fasted for three days, and then:

“Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house. And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.” (Esther 5:1-2)

So she – and ultimately, the Jews – escaped death.

These are a few examples of the pattern. There may be others that I have not recognized. If my theory is correct, then all these instances together amount to a prediction of the resurrection of Christ on the third day; which Jesus and Paul assure us is in the Old Testament Scriptures.

Why This Pattern?

Now I am going to suggest a reason for the association of “the third day” with resurrection. Let us consider the first mention of the term, “the third day” in the Bible:

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.” (Genesis 1:11-13)

On the third day of creation, trees and grass sprang out of the ground. I suggest that this is the origin and basis of the association of “the third day” with resurrection. In the resurrection, the bodies of the saints will come out of the ground, where they have been “sown” like seed:

“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

Notice the expression in Genesis 1, “let the earth bring forth”. Isaiah, the most elegant of the prophets, describes the resurrection poetically in similar terms:

“Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. (Isaiah 26:19)

Admittedly, this is speculation; but whatever the reason, it is a fact that Scripture commonly associates the term “three days” or “the third day” with death and resurrection.

Why it Matters

But what does it really matter how long He was in the grave? First, it was important to mark the fulfillment of the prophecy and confirm His identity as the Messiah. Second, it was to confirm that He was really dead. Lay a severely injured man, who is in shock or a coma, but not dead yet, on a cold stone slab for a couple of days, and he is unlikely to ever revive. This should remove any possible doubt that Jesus actually died.

The accounts make it plain that Jesus did not pass into a coma, but rather that he cried out with a loud voice, “It is finished!” and then “gave up the ghost (spirit, breath)” that is, He stopped breathing. It was so obvious that He was dead, that His tormentors didn’t bother to follow the Roman custom of breaking the victim’s legs (which was to make sure that he died of suffocation, being unable any longer to raise himself to get air into his lungs). John records that when His side was pierced with a spear, water and blood flowed from the wound, another sure sign of death. The following note is from a website called “gotquestions.org”:

Question: “Why did blood and water come out of Jesus’ side when He was pierced?”
Answer:
Those who were flogged would often go into hypovolemic shock, a term that refers to low blood volume. In other words, the person would have lost so much blood he would go into shock. The results of this would be:
1) The heart would race to pump blood that was not there.
2) The victim would collapse or faint due to low blood pressure.
3) The kidneys would shut down to preserve body fluids.
4) The person would experience extreme thirst as the body desired to replenish lost fluids.

There is evidence from Scripture that Jesus experienced hypovolemic shock as a result of being flogged. As Jesus carried His own cross to Golgotha (John 19:17), He collapsed, and a man named Simon was forced to either carry the cross or help Jesus carry the cross the rest of way to the hill (Matthew 27:32-33; Mark 15:21-22; Luke 23:26). This collapse indicates Jesus had low blood pressure. Another indicator that Jesus suffered from hypovolemic shock was that He declared He was thirsty as He hung on the cross (John 19:28), indicating His body’s desire to replenish fluids.
Prior to death, the sustained rapid heartbeat caused by hypovolemic shock also causes fluid to gather in the sack around the heart and around the lungs. This gathering of fluid in the membrane around the heart is called pericardial effusion, and the fluid gathering around the lungs is called pleural effusion. This explains why, after Jesus died and a Roman soldier thrust a spear through Jesus’ side (probably His right side, piercing both the lungs and the heart), blood and water came from His side, just as John recorded in his Gospel (
John 19:34).”

The fact of His resurrection depends on the fact of His death, and the fact that those who loved Him did not try to revive Him, but rather gave Him up to be buried, as past hope – as well as the long period of time He was left in the tomb – all add important confirmation that He was truly raised from the dead on the third day. This is one of the pillars of the Christian faith. Without it, as Paul says, our faith is in vain:

“But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins… But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:13-17, 20-22)

*Please note that Jesus was not “three days and three nights” in the grave – 72 hours, according to our mode of reckoning. He died on Friday, was laid in the sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea that day, and his body rested through Saturday into early Sunday morning. This was “the third day” after He died, counting inclusively, after the Jewish manner. If He had remained in the grave for three full days, then He would have risen on Monday morning, which would have been called the fourth day. As John Gill explains (see his commentary on Matthew 12:39), a “day-night” is just a calendar day, and any part of a day was, in Jewish idiom, counted for a day.

Howard Douglas King

June 8, 2015

Last Revised July 8, 2022

The Testimony and Martyrdom of ANNE ASKEW

Introduction

The following account is taken from the old book, Cross and Crown, by James D. McCabe, a collection of accounts of the martyrs of the Protestant Reformation period. The section headings, introduction, and conclusion are mine.

Why would anyone want to hear the story of one of the church’s martyrs? From the human point of view, it seems like nothing but a tragedy of hopelessness — the good and beautiful trampled into the dust by gigantic, unstoppable forces of evil. But from the Divine viewpoint, it’s the story of one saint’s super-human courage, strength, and triumph! She looked the devil in the face, and did not flinch. She dared his minions to do their worst, and braved their furious hate! She overcame them by the blood of the lamb, and the word of her testimony, and she is now in heaven, out of the reach of any evil, at rest, surrounded by saints and angels, held in honor by all, awaiting the day of Jesus Christ, and the glorious resurrection!

All honor to her! And to the countless unsung heroes of the Great War! All glory to the Lamb, who gave them the victory! We may be sure that her death was not defeat, and that it was fruitful in glory to God, as well as confirming the truth of the gospel. Why would someone willingly die for a lie? Would people of character and sober judgment give themselves up to bitter pains for a delusion?

So let us fortify our own hearts by contemplating their courageous lives and deaths. Here, then, is one of the numerous examples of men and women who gave their all for Jesus Christ. Let us hear the true story of Anne Askew.

Howard Douglas King

How Anne Came to be Persecuted

THERE lived in Lincolnshire, in the reign of Henry VIII., a knight, of ancient and honorable family, Sir William Askew by name. He resided at Kelsay, his ancestral home, and was the father of several daughters and a son. Close by him lived his most intimate friend, a Mr. Kyme, who was a man of great wealth. Mr. Kyme was the father of a son who was just entering upon manhood, and who would one day be the heir to his vast estate. Wishing that the young man should marry and settle down early, he began to look about him, as was the fashion with parents in those days, for a wife for his son, and his choice fell upon the eldest daughter of his old friend, Sir William Askew. The young people were betrothed, but before the marriage could be solemnized, the lady, who had been greatly averse to the proposed union, died. Sir William then proposed to Mr. Kyme that his son should marry Anne, his second daughter, who was more beautiful and attractive than her sister had been. The knight was not willing to lose the chance of an alliance with so much wealth, and Mr. Kyme, on his part, was very anxious that his son’s wife should be a member of such a good old family. Young Kyme does not seem to have been very much concerned as to whom he married, but Anne Askew was earnestly opposed to becoming his wife. She begged her father not to compel her to marry a man whom she did not love, and who was personally disagreeable to her, but Sir William turned a deaf ear to her appeals, and in due time the marriage was celebrated.

Anne Askew was not only a beautiful and high spirited woman, but she was also well educated for a woman of her time, and was possessed of unusual mental gifts. She was a very pious woman, and having become a wife, she endeavored faithfully to discharge her duty to her husband. They lived together in peace for some time, and she bore him two children. Yet she could not bring herself to love her husband, or even to feel attached to him, and there is very good reason for thinking that he was not worthy of such a feeling on her part. There were frequent causes of discontent between them, and their married life at length became entirely the reverse of happy.

About this time the English Bible was given to the people by means of the printing press, and one of these copies came into the possession of Anne Askew, or Mistress Kyme. She read it with avidity, and it had the effect of working a complete revolution in her feelings and life. Up to this time she had been a Romanist, but the perusal of the Scriptures opened her eyes to the errors of Rome, and she soon abandoned her old faith and became a convert to the religion of Jesus Christ as set forth in the Holy Gospel. Her Bible readings were watched with suspicion by the priests, who were quick to advise her husband to compel her to abandon a practice which they declared to be full of danger. Mr. Kyme, who was a bigoted Papist, endeavored to compel her to discontinue her studies, and thus drew from her the avowal that she was no longer a Romanist, but a follower of the doctrines of the Reformation. Instigated by the priests, he ordered her to give up her religion, and return to his own faith; but she refused, telling him that her conscience was not subject to his control. He treated her very cruelly on account of her change of faith, and at length finding that he could not force her into obedience to his tyrannical demands, turned her out of his house.

She at once repaired to London, where she found friends, and began a suit for a divorce from her husband. The probability is that she abandoned the suit, finding it would be impossible to obtain justice at the hands of the Roman Catholic judges by whom her case would be considered. She resumed her maiden name, however, and steadfastly refused to return to her husband, or to have anything to do with him. She found friends at Court, and the queen, Catharine Parr, became warmly attached to her, and is said to have made her one of her ladies in waiting. Continue reading

Are We Following Our Dreams, or Following Christ?

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mat 16:24)

The world tells us that, to be happy, we must follow our dreams. Remember the Mother Superior’s song in the Sound of Music? “Climb every mountain. Ford every stream. Follow every rainbow, ’til you find your dream!”

The Christian life is something different altogether. God does not call us to enjoy heaven on earth. He does not promise us a rose garden. He cares nothing for our vain, egotistical plans and dreams. The life of a Christian is not a comfortable one in which our every desire is fulfilled. It is a life of carrying the cross. It is a life of great difficulty, humiliation, struggle and considerable pain.

This is true even in the rare case of those who seem to be sincerely devout and yet are outwardly prosperous, blessed with health and family and every earthly happiness — “successful” as the term is now used. Even those people often experience sudden reverses, and hidden sorrows that are excruciating, that deprive them of the joy their prosperity would seem to promise.

I do not say that Christians ought to bear the cross: but that he is no Christian who does not bear it. Jesus said,

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)

Lest we should miss it, this necessity of voluntary, daily cross-bearing appears twice in Matthew’s gospel, once in Mark’s, and twice more in Luke’s. “But what exactly”, you may say, “is meant by his cross?”

First, the cross must not be confused with those adverse circumstances of our life that all men suffer. It is something voluntarily “taken up” by Jesus’ disciples.

Second, the cross is an instrument of death; Jesus was willing to die, and so chose to carry the cross for our sake. We are to carry the cross for His sake in return. This means the surrender of our own cherished plans, hopes and dreams to the Savior; for the man on his way to crucifixion has no longer any plans of his own. Carrying the cross implies the recognition that, on the way to life, we must first die to ourselves. This reminds me of Jesus’ words in John’s gospel:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. (John 12:24-25)

Jesus’ death could have been avoided; and thus the carrying of the cross prevented. We also can avoid the cross by refusing to confess Christ in our words and actions. If we live like the world, the world will love its own. I do not recommend this course; for God most severely chastises his children when they take the road into Bypath Meadow. If we are His, he will not give us an easy road. If we succeed in avoiding the cross, and are not chastised, then it will be even worse for us; for that is proof that we are none of His, and eternal punishment awaits us. Someone has said:

“If your profession of Christ has cost you nothing, it is worth nothing.”

Someone may say, “We preach the unpopular doctrines of God’s Word when all have abandoned them.” It is well. But we must beware of resting in our doctrinal fidelity. Most people today don’t understand or care about such nice distinctions as the difference between Arminianism and Calvinism. The world around us has the attitude,”If you are friendly and pleasant to others, it’s alright if you are also a “religious” person, as long as you don’t try to convert anybody.” There is little or no personal cost to identifying as an ARP (whatever that is). This is not really bearing the cross, is it, brethren?

It is a soft — nay, it is a false Christianity that holds all the doctrines of the Bible and yet shuns the cross! He who does not bear the cross has never truly repented. Repentance is unconditional surrender to the Lordship of Christ. It is the taking up of the cross. It is the embracing of persecution, opposition, the hatred and scorn of the world, and the resolving that we shall confess Christ to the world, no matter what it may do to us! This is not an option! Consider the following Scriptures:

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:17)

For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (Philippians 1:29)

Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: (2 Thessalonians 1:5)

If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: (2 Timothy 2:12)

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)

There are some who once took up the cross; but then put it down again. Things got too hot for them, and they turned back. Such must begin again. The cross awaits us each morning. When is the last time you started your day by taking up the cross anew? Every day must begin with our personal devotions, in which we once more deliberately surrender our lives to Him that gave His precious life for our worthless ones!

It is well to set goals and plan for the future; but we must do so in prayerful submission of all our wishes to the will of our God and Savior. And there is danger in setting our hearts too much upon our dreams, because they usually will lead us out of God’s will eventually. Even lawful goals must often be sacrificed in favor of God’s will. God is jealous. He will not allow us to worship any idol; and if a good thing becomes an idol, it may be taken from us. Remember that even godly Abraham was called to sacrifice Isaac, in whom all his hopes and dreams were embodied. Isaac was not Abraham’s idol (as far as we know); but God tested him to see where his deepest commitment lay.

If that position I have worked for so hard and so long can be had by just agreeing to some small compromise; the temptation may be too much, and giving in to it will lead to a life empty of any meaning.

This was Lot’s mistake, when he pitched his tent toward Sodom. You cannot enjoy the world and Christ too. You cannot serve God and Mammon. Consider that the church of the first century was not composed of the rich and noble; but mainly of slaves! (See 1 Corinthians 1:26-29) Why should it be any different for us now? We must ask ourselves, “Am I willing to lose everything for the sake of obedience to God? Am I really?”

I close with these words of Albert Barnes, commenting on Philippians 3:10-11, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

“Paul wished to be just like his Saviour. He felt that it was an honor to live as he did; to evince the spirit that he did, and to suffer in the same manner. All that Christ did and suffered was glorious in his view, and he wished in all things to resemble him. He did not desire merely to share his honors and triumphs in heaven, but, regarding his whole work as glorious, he wished to be wholly conformed to that, and, as far as possible, to be just like Christ.

“Many are willing to reign with Christ, but they would not be willing to suffer with him; many would be willing to wear a crown of glory like him, but not the crown of thorns; many would be willing to put on the robes of splendor which will be worn in heaven, but not the scarlet robe of contempt and mockery. They would desire to share the glories and triumphs of redemption, but not its poverty, contempt, and persecution.

“This was not the feeling of Paul. He wished in all things to be just like Christ, and hence he counted it an honor to be permitted to suffer as he did. So Peter says, “Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings;”(1Peter 4:13). So Paul says (Colossians 1:24) that he rejoiced in his sufferings in behalf of his brethren, and desired “to fill up that which was behind, of the afflictions of Christ,” or that in which he had hitherto come short of the afflictions which Christ endured.

“The idea is, that it is an honor to suffer as Christ suffered; and that the true Christian will esteem it a privilege to be made just like him, not only in glory, but in trial. To do this, is one evidence of piety; and we may ask ourselves, therefore, whether these are the feelings of our hearts.

“Are we seeking merely the honors of heaven, or should we esteem it a privilege to be reproached and reviled as Christ was – to have our names cast out as his was – to be made the object of sport and derision as he was – and to be held up to the contempt of a world as he was? If so, it is an evidence that we love him; if not so, and we are merely seeking the crown of glory, we should doubt whether we have ever known anything of the nature of true religion.

“Being made conformable to his death – In all things, being just like Christ – to live as he did, and to die as he did. There can be no doubt that Paul means to say that he esteemed it so desirable to be just like Christ, that he would regard it as an honor to die in the same manner. He would rejoice to go with him to the cross, and to pass through the circumstances of scorn and pain which attended such a death.

“Yet how few there are who would be willing to die as Christ died, and how little would the mass of people regard it as a privilege and honor! Indeed, it requires an elevated state of pious feeling to be able to say that it would be regarded as a privilege and honor to die like Christ — to have such a sense of the loveliness of his character in all things, and such ardent attachment to him, as to rejoice in the opportunity of dying as he did!

“When we think of dying, we wish to have our departure made as comfortable as possible. We would have our sun go down without a cloud. We would wish to lie on a bed of down; we would have our head sustained by the kind arm of a friend, and not left to fall, in the intensity of suffering, on the breast; we would wish to have the place where we die surrounded by sympathizing kindred, and not by those who would mock our dying agonies. And, if such is the will of God, it is not improper to desire that our end may be peaceful and happy.

“But we should also feel, if God should order it otherwise, that it would be an honor, in the cause of the Redeemer, to die amidst reproaches – to be led to the stake, as the martyrs have been — or to die, as our Master did, on a cross. They who are most like him in the scenes of humiliation here, will be most like him in the realms of glory.”

What You Need to Know About God

There is nothing more important than to know what is the true nature and character of our Creator God. Why? Because He deserves to be honored, worshiped, loved and obeyed. Because He is our lawgiver and the one who will judge us at the last day. Because we are sinners, and doomed to eternal misery for habitually breaking His laws, unless He should choose to pity and forgive us.

God Exists, And You Know He Does

But someone might say, “Why does it matter what I think about God; since I’m not sure that he even exists.” My answer: He does exist; and His existence is obvious. There is no rational explanation for the existence of our world except a Creator of infinite power, Intelligence, and skill.

That’s nonsense”, you say? “Everything evolved by random events over a very long time”, you say? But that is impossible. Randomness is not a cause, and time is not a cause. There must be a First Cause that is able to account for the existence of the elements of the world from which all things derived. Nothing comes from nothing. There had to be an adequate cause for the existence of the universe and the laws by which it operates.

You Already Know God

Further, you do not need to be told who God is; for you already have an idea of God that is as definite as the idea you have of your self. You have known Him all your life; for what is called “conscience” is his voice. We are all familiar with the experience of heeding conscience and also of resisting it. We all know what it is to feel guilt – to fear the wrath of God.

If You Have Ever Prayed

The universal instinct to pray when we are in trouble is proof – both that God exists, and that we know Him. When we pray, we show that we believe the following truths about God:

That He is a personal being; otherwise He could not understand us when we pray.

That He is the Creator; and we His creatures; else why would He care?

That He is everywhere at all times; else how could He hear us and give immediate help?

That He is all-powerful; otherwise, why go to Him with unsolvable problems?

That He is good; otherwise we would not dare come to Him.

That He is holy; for in trouble, the consciousness of our sin and unfitness for His presence is usually intense.

That He is merciful; otherwise we would have no reason to pray.

That He is unchangeable; else we would not know what to expect.

All these foundational truths about God are implied in the simplest act of sincere prayer to Him.

So Why Does it Matter?

This leads us back to the question, “Why does it matter what we think about God?” The answer is, because it matters to Him. How do you fathers and mothers feel when your children treat you with ingratitude and disrespect? Well, then why would you think that it doesn’t matter to God what we think of Him, or how we treat Him?

Why We Should Be Grateful

Because God is good, He made beings capable of sharing His happiness. He made us capable of joy and wholesome pleasure, so that we may enjoy all that is good in life. Best of all, we have the privilege of knowing God.

God Cares What We Think Of Him

It matters to God what we think of Him because He made the world so that He might make himself known to us as He truly is. He is deeply offended when people misrepresent Him: either by making or worshiping idols, or by teaching anything contrary to His own representation of Himself, found in the Bible.

Why Can’t He Just Ignore Bad Behavior?

The simple answer to this is that God is far more patient than we are, and bears with our innumerable offenses as far as His wisdom permits; but that God is the supreme ruler and judge of all men. If God does not judge, who will? Is it fitting that God should allow His creatures to commit every sort of crime against Himself and man and yet escape punishment? That would be poor government indeed! It would encourage bad behavior while discouraging the good.

Besides, God hates sin as much as He loves righteousness. He actively opposes evil and promotes His good purposes with total determination. It would contradict His character and disposition to treat evil and good the same.

Why Can’t He Just Forgive?

First, God is by nature merciful, and so is disposed to forgive; but He cannot forgive where there is no repentance. Who among us would forgive someone who does not cease to deliberately abuse our kindness? So it is no mystery why God must punish sin.

Second, He cannot forgive without an acceptable satisfaction: for by every sin His majesty is offended, His character impugned, His honor traduced, His justice outraged, His laws violated!

Why Does Hell Go On Forever?

Why does he not set His prisoners free after they have paid their debt? “Paid their debt”, you say? But that is just the problem – they can never pay it! Since the damned are incapable of repentance, they can never stop sinning! The longer they are in Hell, the more furious will be their rage against God; and their unhumbled hearts will be hardened even more. So the debt continues to run up even as they are being punished! No, there can be no hope of ever clearing the debt.

But God Is Supposed To Be Love, Isn’t He?

God is love”! If it were not so, there would be no point to this discourse, and no point to anything we do. But God’s love toward us is exercised in a particular way, according to His wisdom and goodness, and in a way that accords with perfect justice.

This is the unique message of Christianity. None of the false religions of the world remotely resembles the marvelous gospel of Jesus Christ; in which God’s love to man is manifested through free and sovereign grace.

The wrath of God cannot be appeased by our doings; for no matter how good our deeds may seem to us, they only seem so, since good fruit cannot come from a bad tree. God’s anger cannot be appeased by our sufferings, for they are of no value in proportion to the gravity of our offenses. It can only be removed by a sacrifice acceptable to a holy and just God. That sacrifice is the suffering and death of Jesus.

That one, only, perfect sacrifice upholds the inviolable justice of God, appeases His just wrath, and reconciles hateful sinners to God. It is sublimely simple: our sins are laid on Jesus, and punished there. His righteousness then becomes ours, and we stand from henceforth justified before God. The Lord Jesus Christ has taken our place and suffered for us so that we might be set free. Since the whole work of reconciling sinners to God has been accomplished by God’s dear Son, there is nothing for us to do but to repent of our sins and believe the good news, by this means receiving the salvation offered to us in the gospel!

Repose upon the infinite mercy and grace of God in Christ, who has come into our sinful world to suffer that we might be saved! You can trust Him! Do trust Him! Receive Him and be at peace with God forevermore!

 

Eschatology and the Use of Time Texts: A Hermeneutical Method

Eschatology and the Use of

Time Texts:

A Hermeneutical Method

Introduction

The New Testament writers constantly associate the second coming of Christ with the resurrection of the dead, the destruction of the earth by fire, the judgment of the world, the glorification of the saints, and the inauguration of the eternal state. But many Bible students differ as to the order of the events.

And some assert that there are large gaps of time between some of these events. Dispensational Premillennialism, the eschatology that reigns in the popular religious culture, claims that there are gaps all over the place. According to them, there is a gap of thousands of years in the seventy weeks prophecy of Daniel, that there is a seven-year gap between the “rapture” (secret coming of Christ for His saints) and the “revelation” (open coming with His saints), and yet another gap of a thousand years between His coming and the end of the world. They claim that, instead of one general judgment, there will be several judgment days separated by large gaps of time.

It behooves us therefore, as we inquire into the subject called eschatology (“last things”), to ask if there is Scriptural warrant for belief in any or all of these gaps; and to determine, if possible, what is the biblical sequence of events.

How, then, do we proceed? Where do we begin?

For one who has never studied this question independently, there are usually many assumptions that have been drilled into him. It is easy and natural for such a one to unconsciously read Scripture in terms of these assumptions, rather than to explore the context, discover the theme and scope of a passage, determine the meanings of words from objective sources, and so on. It is crucial, therefore, to acknowledge our biases at the outset, and to be aware of assumptions that we are making as we study.

This cannot be done without bringing to our enquiry a strong desire to know the truth. So the very first thing to do is to ask God for light from His word; and for the willingness to change our minds when we find that there is no biblical evidence to support our belief, and that we have believed something solely on human authority.

The next thing in order is to choose an objective plan of study that is scriptural, logical, and practical. There is too much data, in too many different forms, in too many languages for most of us to do a full induction of all the relevant eschatological texts and harmonize it all into a system. (Some very smart men have tried to do this, but usually with bizarre results.) It is well to realize that we do not need to understand all the prophetic passages of Scripture before we can know that we’re on firm ground.

Another problem is that it matters a great deal where we start; not only our assumptions, but what we choose of all the texts of Scripture as our beginning point. One way to begin is to attempt to exegete certain passages that are considered key to eschatology. This is not a bad plan for someone who has already received sound training in hermeneutics, but it is inevitably a disaster for the incompetent logician, the novice interpreter, and well-intentioned souls who have nevertheless been indoctrinated in error. For it will be obvious, if one thinks about it, that if we begin with false assumptions or with a starting point that we are prioritizing in terms of wrong information, it is likely that we will go far astray in our conclusions.

It is necessary therefore to choose a method that will yield assured results, while using our finite resources of time and intellectual ability. This is not a pipe dream: it is actually quite attainable. The Dispensationalists are right about one thing: the Bible was written to be understood.

Time Texts: Establishing the Sequence of Events

In the study of eschatology, we are seeking to understand the sequence and timing of the great events that will bring history to a close. This is the essence of eschatology, and when we have ascertained these critical facts, we will have a solid foundation for further studies in unfulfilled prophecy. In order to determine these facts, it is reasonable to look for definitive statements that unambiguously state or necessarily imply that:

(1) an event will occur before, after, or at the same time as another event, or

(2) an event will occur at a definite stated period from another event, or

(3) an event will occur immediately after, shortly after, or long after another, or

(4) an event is near or far, from the point of view of the foreteller.

I call these scriptural references, “time texts”; and I believe that the most important issues in eschatology can be settled objectively simply by observing and giving due weight to these “time texts”.

There are several ways that Scripture can indicate the timing of an events, but these are generally more subject to uncertainty than time texts. A time text will usually contain a conjunction, preposition, adverb, or other part of speech that indicates a definite temporal relationship between two events. Examples include when, while, till or until, before, after, now, then, begin, end, shortly, soon, immediately, first, last. We may later add to this list, but it will give us a good start.

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As I was saying, I will begin by running a search in the New Testament for texts containing one of these temporal keywords: when. And I’m going to limit my search to a Pauline epistle that everyone agrees speaks unambiguously of the second coming of Christ, 2 Thessalonians. Our search immediately yields two relevant results:

(1) “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8)

(2) “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10)

Notice the occurrence of the word, when, and the clauses that it connects:

Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:”

I conclude that the first clause and the second are contemporaneous. The rest for troubled believers and the coming of Christ with the mighty angels to judge the ungodly happen at the same time. This is confirmed by the second example:

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”

This tells us that the punishment of the wicked at the coming of Christ coincides in time with the glorification of the saints.

To summarize, the use of the word, “when” in both these texts tells us that the following events must occur at about the same time, or at least in rapid succession:

(1) The saints’ enemies are recompensed.

(2) The living saints enter into their rest.

(3) The Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His angels.

(4) The Lord takes fiery vengeance on those who have not believed the gospel of Christ, to their everlasting destruction.

(5) The saints are glorified (resurrected and exalted).

Needless to say, if the “rapture” and the “revelation” are really two distinct events separated by a gap of seven years (instead of two aspects of the same event) this is a strange way of speaking about them!

Applying the Method to 2 Peter 3:3-14

3 “…There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

7 “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

11 “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”

I have argued that the correct interpretation of prophetic passages can be assured if we attend to the particular words and phrases within each passage that indicate its temporal context. The application of this method will allow us to construct a temporal framework for eschatology that is independent of our presuppositions; that rests upon a solid foundation of explicit statements of Scripture and necessary inferences made therefrom, rather than questionable assumptions that we have made, or some man-made system that we have been taught.

The usefulness of this method may be demonstrated by applying it to the text before us. This text has in view the bodily return of Christ prophesied in Acts 1:11 by the angel which said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” It unquestionably predicts the end of the world in its relation to the return of Christ. It will be shown that the time-texts in this passage interpreted in their natural sense and force, allow for only one understanding of the temporal relationship between the great final events of history.

3 “…there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

It is implied that even these mockers know that Christians believe His coming will change everything. There is no hint in this entire passage that there will be a secret coming of Christ to receive His saints, years before the coming to judge the world spoken of here, and the sychronisms in the passage (of which more later) exclude such a possibility.

5 “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:”

The kosmos perished; not the heavens and earth themselves. This means the natural order that existed before the flood. That pre-flood environment, which was so wholesome that even fallen men were able to live ten times as long as they do today, is gone completely! All flesh, with the exception of the inhabitants of the ark, perished! The Noahic flood is therefore a fit type of the actual end of the world, that will take place at the second coming.

Every field geologist knows by experience that there are, to use Ken Ham’s memorable words, “billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth”. This is just as we would expect, since Noah’s flood actually occurred! There are huge fractures in the middle of the ocean floors that run around the globe, the very thing that we would expect, since the Genesis account states that “the fountains of the great deep were broken up”! The failure of the unregenerate to acknowledge the truth about this great universal judgment, the evidence of which is to be found literally everywhere, is due to their willful ignorance. Better arguments will not solve the problem – only the Almighty Spirit of God can convince them.

7 “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

The destruction of the existing heavens and earth by fire is synchronous with the day of judgment. And there is only one day of final judgment (though it may certainly take more than one day’s time). This requires us to understand that the present age of history does not end — as the antedeluvian age did — only to be followed by another. The end of the age is the end of the world, and the time of final judgment.

The phrase, “Heaven and earth” is often used in Scripture to mean “all that is”, or the whole created universe. “The heavens” or “heaven” is not just the earth’s atmosphere; for the sun, moon and stars, are set outside the atmosphere in what we call space. The word, “Heaven” can used of any region or all the regions which lie “above” the earth. Hence it is most natural to understand these words to say that the entire created cosmos will be destroyed and then restored. (See Psalm 102:25ff)

8 “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Peter intimates that the world may last for thousands of years yet, in order that all of the future generations of the elect may be saved.

10 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night;”

It is not a secret rapture, but the revelation of Christ as King and Judge of the world, descending upon His enemies with legions of angels, in terrifying fire, that will come as a thief in the night. Gill comments: “It will not be known what hour he will come; he will come suddenly, at an unawares, when he is not expected, to the great surprise of men, and especially of the scoffers.”

“… in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

The phrase, “in the which” indicates another synchronism. Peter reiterates that the second coming coincides with the of the end of the world. The latter event will be awesomely violent and terrible, a spectacular and utter destruction – as if God wanted to show in one unforgettable moment His infinite displeasure with all that man has polluted by his sin.

11 “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?”

Dreadful though it will certainly be, we are to “look for”(anticipate) and “hasten unto” (eagerly await) the end of the world. Why? Because it coincides with the fulfillment of our hope of personal resurrection, glorification, and vindication; and because it marks the beginning of a perfect world in which God shall dwell forever with His people, and receive all the glory due His holy name!

13 “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new!” It is as nothing to our God to throw away a whole universe and make a new one. He will give His bride this most magnificent gift on her wedding day!

14 “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”

Instead of telling Christians to pack their bags for the rapture; or to look for a Millennium after the coming of Christ, or a Jewish “Kingdom Age” before the end of history; Peter exhorts to a holy life, one that is consistent with the awfulness of the momentous events that are sure to come: the revelation of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the conflagration of the universe, the judgment of all men, and the establishment of the glorious and eternal world to come!

Further Examples from the New Testament

We have examined a few of the fuller eschatological passages, and our conclusion is that the purported “gap” that, according to the Dispensationalists’ claim, lies between the so called “rapture” and the “return” is disallowed by the time texts. Wherever we look in the N.T., we find the same thing:

Colossians 3:4 “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

His “appearing” cannot possibly be a secret rapture, and our “appearing in glory” can only refer to our resurrection or transformation into His image at His coming, when we shall be caught up to meet Him in the air.

1 Peter 4:13 “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

When will believers’ sorrow be exchanged for joy? When Christ’s “glory shall be revealed” – not seven years before.

1 Peter 5:4 “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

More of the same – Peter refers to our glorification here under the figure of “receiving a crown of glory”.

1 John 2:28 “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”

1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

John adds his voice. The hope is the appearing of Christ, when believers will be vindicated and the apostate will be ashamed. He sees no gap between the time when the saints are glorified (made “like Christ”) and the time of Christ’s appearing.

1Thessalonians 4:15-17 “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

These events take place at the “coming” of the Lord, when “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God”. Hardly a secret rapture! This is when “the dead in Christ shall rise”. Then, those believers who are alive at that time will be transformed and caught up with them to be forever with the Lord.

Acts 3:19-21 “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

Peter exhorts the Jews to repent, so that their sins might not testify against them when Jesus comes again. “The times of refreshing” and “the times of restitution of all things” are terms for the endless ages of bliss foretold throughout the Old Testament in connection with Messiah’s reign. Jesus must remain in heaven, upon His mediatorial throne, ruling over the earth from thence until it is time for the eternal kingdom to be inaugurated. At that time, He will return, destroy all His remaining enemies (including death itself, which will be swallowed up in victory by the resurrection of the righteous dead), and bring in the eternal state of glory.

Matthew 25:31-46 “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels… 6 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

We have been told that this is not the general judgment of all men at the end of the world, but the judgment of nations at the beginning of the millennium, to decide whether they will enter the kingdom age of Jewish ascendancy. But that is not possible, seeing nothing is said about a kingdom lasting only a thousand years, but rather the judgment is to life eternal or everlasting punishment! That can only apply to individuals. Did not Jesus call believers His sheep? Did He not tell the Pharisees, “Ye are not of my sheep?” Did He not comfort His own, saying “Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom?” And warn the Pharisees, “Hypocrites, how can ye escape the damnation of Hell!” And who are Jesus’ “brethren”, whose treatment is in view in this judgment? Jews? Since when? Matthew 12:47-50 clearly refutes the idea that Jesus regarded blood relationship to himself more than spiritual relationship:

47 “Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

Enough has been shown to see that the Dispensational interpretation of this passage is fanciful and ridiculous. What, then, does it actually teach? The order of events is as follows:

Christ comes with all the holy angels, and takes His seat on His glorious throne of judgment.

1. All nations – that is all people who have ever lived on earth — are gathered before Him.

2. Then he judges them according to their works:

3. First, He separates out His people, and summons them into His eternal kingdom of glory.

4. Then He curses the rest of mankind to everlasting punishment.

5. Then – that’s all! History is over!

Let’s compare this with the general judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15:

11 “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Once again, we see an awesome personage on a glorious throne, set to judge the world. We learn from v.12 that this person is God, and are reminded of Paul’s words in Acts 17:30-31,”And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”

It is Christ Jesus the Lord, both God and man in one person, on the throne of His glory! The earth and heaven seem to “flee away”: at His coming, the heavens roll up and the elements melt. Next, we read that before Him are gathered all nations, here styled, “the dead, small and great”. Then we read that the dead are judged according to their works. Then the righteous, whose names are written in the book of life, enter into life; while the wicked go away into everlasting punishment. There is nothing conflicting in the two accounts: the order of events is essentially the same, despite their different modes of representation.

Dispensationalism claims to “make the Bible understandable” by following its literal sense; but what we have seen is that it ignores the plain literal meaning of plain literal statements that tell us the temporal relationship of key eschatological events over and over again. It claims to have the final interpretation of many difficult passages, written in the often oscure language of prophecy, sometimes called “apocalyptic”; upon which passages it attempts to impose a literalism that does not fit the data. Then it uses the strange results of its misguided inquiries into these darker passages to justify forcing an alien meaning upon the plain and clear passages, in defiance of the temporal information found in them!

Believers who have been exposed to this bizarre system often complain that it is confusing. No wonder! It is confusing because it pretends to be founded upon the plain meaning of the Scriptures, but constantly contradicts the Scriptures – often the very Scriptures it adduces to prove its point!

Time Texts in the Parables

It is an axiom of sound interpretation that one cannot press every detail of Jesus’ parables as representing some truth. The reason for this is that each parable contains an artificial scenario constructed for the primary purpose of making a particular point. There may be many related truths represented in this artificial scenario. Often we know what truth is being taught in a parable because we are familiar with the general teaching of Scripture, so that we recognize familiar truth when we see it; but if we are not careful, this can lead to “eisegesis”, which means reading our own ideas into the text. So the surest way to interpret any parable is to follow Jesus’ own interpretation, whenever it is given. Here is an example of such a parable, with the keywords indicating time in bold typeface:

24 “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:24-30)

followed by Jesus’ own interpretation of it:

36 “Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:36-43)

First, Jesus tells us what the various elements of the parable represent. Notice that the field is not said to be the church, but the whole world (kosmos) of men. This is not a proof text for the presence of mixture in the church, as it is so often used by the Reformed. In this parable, it is the good seed (that is, the produce of the good seed) that represents the children of the kingdom, or the church; just as the tares represent the children of the wicked one, or the world in its bad sense. What is most germane to our purpose is the identification of the harvest, and the expression, “the end of the world (aiwn, “age”). This marks the end of history, and the beginning of the eternal state. In the next verse, it is called the end of this age. This aligns the following eschatological events:

1. The end of this present age.

2. The purging of the earth.

3. The final judgment of the wicked.

4. The end of the mediatorial kingdom of Christ.

5. The beginning of the consummated kingdom of God (“of their Father”).

During the present age, the Son of Man reigns with absolute power from His throne in heaven, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to fulfil His office of Mediator, and the whole work of redemption. He has not been given all authority in heaven and earth just to save His people from their sins; He is ruling over His enemies as well, and bringing all their wicked plots against Him and His people to naught. Hence, “His kingdom” is associated with the present age in this parable. At the end of the age, still acting in his authority as mediator, and with the angels as His servants to execute His sentence, Jesus Christ shall raise the dead and judge the world in righteousness.

43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Now that all God’s enemies have been subdued and destroyed, the work of Christ as Mediator is finished: and the Mediatorial kingdom of Christ, having been handed over to the Father, is now called the kingdom of their Father. (See 1 Corinthians 15:22-28.) Jesus still reigns (under God) as head over His church and the holy angels, for His kingdom of is an everlasting kingdom (cf. 2 Peter 1:11).

Time Texts in the Olivet Discourse

Next, we come in our investigation of the time texts of the New Testament to the so-called “Olivet Discourse”. For several generations now, it has been widely taught that, in this address to His disciples, Jesus outlines the events that will occur at the end of the church age. But, in this discourse, was Jesus really talking about the end of this age? Most of the great commentators, at least until the nineteenth century, did not see that as the theme of this prophecy, and for good reason. Before the reader dismisses the thought as an absurdity, let me beg his indulgence long enough for me to endeavor to show him from the text itself what is indeed its focus. If I fail in this, the blame be upon me! The first clue is found at the beginning:

Matthew 24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.

Matthew 24:2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Mark 13:1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!

Mark 13:2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Luke 21:5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,

Luke 21:6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Our first consideration must be that the remark of our Lord that occasioned the question of the disciples and the subsequent discourse had nothing to do with the end of the world; but rather the end of the temple and the presently-constituted Jewish nation. This is of the utmost importance, for it establishes the scope of the answer to follow, and leaves no uncertainty about it. Unless compelling evidence appears in the answer to show that Jesus has gone beyond the scope of the question, we have no reason to expect it to do so.

Matthew 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? Mark 13:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,

Mark 13:4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?

Luke 21:7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?

Considered in the light of the foretold destruction of the magnificent Herodian Temple, the natural questions would be “When will it happen?” and “How will we know it’s about to happen?” These are the very things asked by all three, and in the same order. I take it as certain, then, that the following discourse will have as its aim to answer these two questions. This will become abundantly clear as we advance through the discourse itself, but first I have to pause to answer an objection.

Matthew’s “Third Question”

For some would object, “What of the other question, ‘what shall be the sign of …the end of the world?’ Did not Matthew intend to indicate that this was a third and distinct additional question?” In answer, notice first of all that Matthew alone records this third clause. I reason thus: if he did, then why is there no trace of it in the other accounts, especially Luke’s, which is the latest and most complete of the three? Moreover, if Christ had answered three distinct questions, then knowing that fact would be essential to the understanding of what follows in the discourse. How then, in that case, could we account for the fact that Mark and Luke leave them out completely, seeing that would certainly result in a misreading of the message? This is, to my mind, a conclusive argument.

Therefore, it is necessary for us to understand that the question that Matthew records as “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” is a single question, the same in substance with the one that Mark records as “What shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” and that Luke gives as “What sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?” It is better to understand Matthew’s last clause as part of a single question, rather than as embodying a completely new thought – especially one unrelated to the remark of our Lord that precipitated the questions in the first place!

The Sign Of Thy Coming”

Mark’s questions read:

Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?”

And Luke’s:

Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?”

These things” means the same thing in both questions, and can only mean the things that Christ has just predicted. So in Mark and Luke, the second question is what the sign will be that accompanies the destruction of Jerusalem. Now, we know that Matthew is recording the same address, in the same order as the other two; so it must be that he is stating the same questions in different words. It should be clear then, that the “coming” of Jesus, spoken of here, is another way of saying “the destruction of Jerusalem”. We shall see that the evidence in support of this assertion is overwhelming, but we will only mention the fact at this time, and leave the proof for later.

But one more word for the thoughtful reader: is it probable that the question of the time of Jesus’ Second Coming would have occurred to those who at this point had little or no understanding of biblical prophecy, who had Jesus yet with them, and who could scarcely believe that He would ever really go away? What distinct idea could they have had of a “second” coming, seeing his plain predictions of his coming death and departure from the world were hid from them?

The End Of The World?

There are at least three alternative ways that this clause may be understood:

(1) By its couching of the terms, and by its expansion of the questions, the gospel of Matthew reveals a peculiarly Jewish perspective on the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem, described so simply by the other two. For him as an Israelite, the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem would seem like nothing less than the end of the world!

(2) Indeed, Matthew may simply have meant “the end of the age”, for so the word is (aiwn). A Jew acquainted with the prophecies would have known that the coming of the Messiah was somehow connected with the destruction of the city and the temple (Daniel 9:26), and the end of the present world order. There is precedent in Scripture for understanding “the end of the world” as the last days of the Jewish state in Hebrews 9:26, where we read:

For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

The word rendered “world” is aiwn (“age”) and the word translated “end” is sunteleia, which means “full end”, or “consummation” of an age. Paul wrote the general epistle to the Hebrews (compare 2 Peter 3:15 with 1Peter 1:1 and 2 Peter 3:1) some years before Jerusalem’s destruction. He was writing, therefore, in the time of the consummation of the Old Testament age, prophesied in Daniel 9:27.

(3) In any case, it is certain that the disciples did not at this time have the same clear view that they would later have of the end of the world. Besides, the Jewish expectations, as taught by the reprobate Rabbis, were diametrically opposed to what Jesus taught, which could only have engendered confusion in their minds. For this reason, it seems to me more likely that these words in Matthew amount to indications of the questioners’ imperfect knowledge of future events, the result of their indoctrination in Rabbinical traditions, and nothing more! In other words, the Matthean form of the question may simply reflect the disciples’confusion about future events.

What, then, of the discourse itself? Does it not contradict my conclusion by an obvious emphasis on the second coming and the last days, thus giving a full answer to Matthew’s “third question”? Well, let’s look at the evidence.

The following is a list of all the references to “the end” or “the end of the world” in the three parallel accounts of Jesus’ answer to their questions in Matthew, Mark and Luke.

Matthew 24:13 “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

Mark 13:7 “And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.”

Mark 13:13 “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

Luke 21:9 “But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.”

In summarizing the data, we note the following:

1. There is not a single occurrence of the phrase,”the end of the world” in Jesus’ answers to their questions.

2. The phrase, “the end” occurs five times in the three accounts, but Matthew 24:13 and Mark 13:13 record the same words, and the same is true of Mark 13:7 and Luke 21:9. So Jesus only used the words three times in the prophecy; and none of these occurrences compel us to understand them as references to the end of the world.

3. If these three occurrences mean “the end of the world”, and not the end of Jerusalem and its temple, then Jesus never answered the question that we know he was asked: “When shall these things be?” but rather He answered another question as remote from His own remark and their question as anything could be!

Hence, there is no foundation for the view that the focus of the Olivet discourse is the end of this age, as Matthew’s form of the question seem to suggest. Further, as we shall see, unmistakable time stamps appear in this discourse; that leave it beyond doubt that what the disciples were concerned about, and what Jesus was talking about; was the end of the Jewish nation, the utter destruction of its capital, holy city, and temple, which was accomplished by the Roman army under the command of Titus, in 70 A.D.

Time Stamp Number 1

Our next task will be to look for temporal references in these three parallel passages. It will be necessary to look for other kinds of evidence besides the simple “time-texts” that we have used in the analysis of other passages. For while there are time-texts of the sort we’ve been considering here, there are other indications, which I will call “time-stamps” that tie the Olivet discourse in to the prophecies of Daniel, and that fix the limit of its fulfilment within the first century A.D. So that, contrary to the popular view, it turns out that this famous address does not refer to some far off, “end-time” events — is not an eschatological passage at all!

This fact, which many find incredible, is easily demonstrable. A determinitive time-stamp is found in all three accounts:

Matthew 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

Matthew 24:33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

Matthew 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Mark 13:28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

Mark 13:29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

Mark 13:30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

Mark 13:31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Mark 13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

Luke 21:29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;

Luke 21:30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.

Luke 21:31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.

Luke 21:32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

I direct your attention to the words:

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:32)

The salient facts are these:

1. These words state in the most impressive and emphatic way that all of Jesus’ prophecies in this discourse would find their fulfillment before the generation then living would pass from the scene.

2. They are found at the end of the discourse in all three gospels. If there were any prophecy in the entire discourse that concerns the end of the world or the second coming, it would have to have found its fulfilment long ago.

3. The Greek uses a double-negative (where we read in English, “shall not”) to underscore the certainty of this fact.

4. Jesus declares the impossibility of His words failing of fulfillment, in the declaration that follows: ”Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.”

Some say that the phrase, “this generation”, used here, does not mean the generation of Jews then living. If this were true, it would invalidate my argument entirely. But I am content to rest my case on the evidence. How often did Jesus use this expression in the gospels? What does this expression mean when it is used?

There are six occurrences of the phrase, “this generation” in Matthew, as follows:

1. (Matthew 11:16-19) In this case, it clearly means the generation that had known John the baptist and Jesus.

2,3. (Matthew 12:41-42) “Here” means “in this place and time”. Jesus is greater than Jonah or Solomon, but those to whom He preached, the Jews of the generation then living, did not honor Him accordingly.

4. (Matthew 12:43-45) This could not possibly have reference to the Jews as a race. Jesus is unmistakeably referring to the tremendous change effected by His presence in Israel: the healing of multitudes, the casting out of unclean spirits, and the conversion or outward reformation of very many, that resulted from the preaching of the gospel. He is saying that this state of affairs will not continue, but will be remarkably and decisively reversed, so that the generation then living will end up seven times worse than it was when He came on the scene. This is not just a prediction concerning the future course of the nation indefinitely, or of some future generation; but a rebuke addressed to those present, and a warning, to which they should have taken heed.

5. (Matthew 23:29-36) In this passage, the men of that generation are compared with their fathers (vs.30-32). Jesus solemnly declares that the most terrible judgment will fall upon this generation, in whom the wickedness of their fathers has come to its culmination.

6. (Matthew 24:32-34) Verse 33 tells us that those to whom he spoke would witness “all these things” that he had been talking about. Verse 44 can only mean the generation then living. It is similar to Matthew 16:28, “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

There are four occurrences of the phrase, “this generation” in Mark:

1,2. (Mark 8:11-12)

3. (Mark 8:38)

4. (Mark 13:28-30) There is nothing new here. All are best understood in the way that I have been advocating.

There are eight instances in which the phrase, “this generation” occurs in Luke:

1. (Luke 7:31-34)

2, 3, 4. (Luke 11:29-32)

5,6. (Luke 11:47-51)

7. (Luke 17:22-25)

8. (Luke 17:29-32)

In all these cases, the same Greek word is used (genea), and the word properly means what we would call in English a “generation”. In every case where Jesus says, “this generation”, it is capable of that meaning, and in many cases it cannot be otherwise understood without doing violence to the words. Unquestionably, Luke 17:32 and its parallels in Matthew and Mark are intended to set a time limit for the fulfillment of the prophecy. I therefore hold it as established that the Olivet discourse addresses a series of events that must have occurred in the first century.

This is not unreasonable. Consider that the violent abolition of the Mosaic system would have been traumatic for the disciples. They would have required reassurance of the most potent nature. Jesus’ prophecy changed the terrifying events surrounding this great upheaval into proofs of His infallibility. It transformed what would have seemed like the dismal winter of the world into glorious summer! It gave them the assurance that they would not only survive, but triumph in the midst of severe persecution. And it motivated them to patiently bear all things, until they saw the fulfillment of all that Jesus had predicted. To miss this time marker is to miss the message of the discourse, and the uses for which it was designed.

Time Stamp Number 2

But there is collateral proof of the time context of this discourse. Consider the following parallel listing of texts:

Matthew 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

Matthew 24:16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

Matthew 24:17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:

Matthew 24:18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

Matthew 24:19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

Matthew 24:20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:

Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Matthew 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

Mark 13:14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

Mark 13:15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:

Mark 13:16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.

Mark 13:17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

Mark 13:18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.

Mark 13:19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

Mark 13:20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.

Luke 21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

Luke 21:21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.

Luke 21:22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

Luke 21:23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

We have been told all about the “great tribulation” that is supposed to take place after the church is secretly removed from the earth, during which the anti-Christ reigns over the whole world, the abomination of desolation is set up, the “mark of the beast” is imposed, and so on. None of that is going to happen! For, as these verses show, the great tribulation and the abomination of desolation are history! Tim LaHaye’s scenario may sell a lot of exciting books, but it is pure fiction, just the same. Here’s why.

What Matthew and Mark call “the abomination of desolation” (following the language of Daniel’s prophecy) is plainly a different way of referring to the same event that Luke, for his Gentile readers, describes as “Jerusalem compassed (surrounded) by armies”. The final assault of these armies of Rome is going to result in its complete desolation, because “these are the days of vengeance”, when all the innocent blood shed in Jerusalem through the centuries, culminating in the shedding of Christ’s blood, is going to be avenged. So the disciples are here forewarned to flee Jerusalem with all haste when that time comes. History tells us that, thanks to this warning, they were able to flee to Petra, and so they were spared. Flavius Josephus was present with the Roman forces when that happened, and he documented the ensuing bloody havoc in his last book on The Jewish Wars. The account matches the prophecy to perfection. There was indeed“ great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people”. Very many “fell by the edge of the sword”, and many more were “led away captive into all nations”. And Jerusalem has been “trodden down of the Gentiles” (under Gentile control) ever since!

If this is true, then what do we do with the references to the coming of Christ?

Matthew 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Mark 13:26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. Luke 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

In order to understand what is meant in the Olivet discourse by “the coming of the son of man”, it will be useful to look at two parables: that of the absent householder, found in Matthew 21:33-45, and that of the king and the marriage feast, from Matthew 22:1-7). The first one reads:

33 “Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.

37 “But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

42 “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.”

This should hardly need comment, since even the blind Pharisees understood enough to know that it did not bode well for them! Let us just note the critical points:

1. The householder is God.

2. The vineyard that He planted is Israel.

3. The husbandmen that he let his vineyard out to are the Jews.

4. The servants who were sent to get what was owing to the householder are the prophets.

5. The son who was killed is Christ.

6. In the parable, the householder comes to exact retribution upon the Jewish nation, and to extend the kingdom to the Gentiles. The destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the Jews are Divine judgments upon them for all their crimes, but especially for the murder of the householder’s dear son.

7. Nevertheless, Jesus makes it clear that He, “the stone the builders refused”, having “become the head of the corner”, is the one who will execute the judgment of God in His own person.

It should be obvious from the correspondence of these facts to the subject matter of the Olivet discourse that this “coming” of the Son to wreak vengeance upon Jerusalem for its rebellion against God and shedding innocent blood is what is referred to in the Olivet Discourse as “the coming of the Son of Man”. Another parable strikingly confirms what is is a prominent theme of the gospels:

1 “And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3 and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” (Matthew 22:1-7)

What armies? The Roman armies, but viewed as the armies of God and of Christ, sent by divine providence to carry out the judgment against the proud Jews in the most humiliating way – by hated pagans! Consider these relevant words from Daniel:

25 “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the Prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” (Daniel 9:25-26)

But do the gospels support this interpretation? Abundantly! In Matthew 10:23, the twelve were told that they would not be able to fulfill their mission to preach the gospel in every city of Israel, before the Son of man would come. In Matthew 16:28, Jesus tells them that some of them would not taste death beforel they would see the son of man coming in his kingdom. Neither of these predictions can possibly have some coming of Christ in the distant future in view, for they were addressed to particular persons then living, to be fulfilled in their experience!

Many of the parables have in common the theme of a man taking a long journey into a far country, and settling matters with His servants upon His return. They use this same Greek word for “come”, “coming”, “cometh”. The references are too numerous to cite.

When Jesus was before the Sanhedrin, He boldly affirmed that He was indeed the Son of God, and that they would soon learn the truth of it by the dreadful experience of His coming upon them in His wrath:

61 “But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:61-62)

63 “But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. 64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:63-64)

This is not a reference to the personal, bodily return of Christ. No human eye can pierce the heavens, and see the Lord sitting on God’s right hand of power; and just so, no one would see with their bodily eyes the Lord Jesus with His angels when He came upon the Jews to destroy them in 70 A.D. But they would see the evidence of both facts in the fulfilment of His prophecy delivered on Olivet just before His death.

One more difficulty, and then we are done. What do the following texts mean, if the Olivet discourse is not about the Second Coming?

Matthew 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Mark 13:27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

I understand these verses to refer to the gathering in of the elect to the kingdom of God’s dear son. Jesus had said that the kingdom would be taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles. These times, since the destruction of Jerusalem, are “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). Before that happened, the Jews used their influence with the Romans to induce them to persecute Christians. When Jerusalem fell, that great obstacle was removed. Also, the Apostles, who had mainly confined their ministries to Palestine until then, afterward went as missionaries throughout the world, and the gospel took hold everywhere. The silver trumpet of jubilee, proclaiming liberty, was blown in one long, resounding note, and God’s messengers (for so “angels” may be rendered) have gathered in a great many of His elect all over the world since those days.

Time Texts in Paul’s Teaching on the Resurrection

There is perhaps no passage in the Bible more rich in eschatological data than 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, which reads:

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

I have italicized all the indicators of time – both of sequence, and simultaneity. Here are the main truths:

1. The saints are going to be raised when Jesus comes again (v.23). This is explicit, “at His coming”. It is His last act as the Redeemer of God’s elect. He declared in John 6:38-39 “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day”.

2. This will be the end of the mediatorial kingdom of Christ (v.24). Jesus Christ is the one Mediator between God and man. He is both a prophet (one who speaks for God to men) and a priest (one who speaks and offers sacrifices from man to God). But He is also our king, ruling over all things to secure our salvation; protecting us, defeating all His and our enemies, making evil turn to our good, pouring out the Spirit upon us, furnishing us with every grace, and providing for our every need, to bring us to glory.

3. He will then resign his commission to the Father. (v.24) But this kingship to which He has been appointed for the purpose of saving the world will only last until the work of redemption is completed. When all the elect have been saved, Jesus will return in glory. The dead will be raised, and Jesus will have accomplished the end of his kingship.

4. He will have subdued all His enemies. (v.24-25)

In v.25, paul alludes to Psalm 110:1, which reads: “A Psalm of David: The LORD said unto my Lord, ‘Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool’”. The LORD is God the Father. David’s Lord is Christ. Christ is going to sit at God’s right hand – that is, He is to reign over all things, as God – until God makes His enemies his footstool.

He is not going to be passive, waiting for His Father to do it for Him. He and His Father are one. They act in unison. Verse 2 reads “The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.” To reign is to exercise power. We see that exercise in verses 5 to the end. Christ is there seen as an invincible conqueror.

5. The last enemy Christ will defeat is death; that is, by the final salvation and resurrection of His saints. (v.26) It bears repeating what Jesus said in John 6:38-39 “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day”.

This passage confirms what we have already seen: that there will be no more sin or death after the second coming of Jesus Christ. The doctrine that mortal men will live alongside regenerate men in a millennium wherein Christ rules strictly by Jewish law is not compatible with this doctrine of the Apostle Paul.

6. Jesus Christ, the God-man will henceforth be forever subject to God. (v.27-28) For while He is equal to God as touching His Divinity, being the Eternal Word; He is less than God as a man, despite the sinless, holy, righteous nature of His humanity.

God will then “be all in all”. All the glory will be His. Then will be fulfilled, “The kingdom is the LORD’s.” (Psalms 22:28) Remember the parable of the tares (Matthew 13:24-30,36-43), where it is written that, at the end of the world, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father”.

This harmonizes perfectly with everything we have learned from the other passages we have studied.

The Time Context of the Book of Revelation

I have presented the case that the Olivet Discourse of our Lord Jesus Christ had to do – not with the end of this age, but rather the end of the age of the Old Testament; and not with the personal return of Christ at the end of this age, but with the virtual “coming” of Christ to judge Israel for their rejection of God, and their murder of the prophets and of the Messiah. This coming of Christ is called by Luke, “the day when the Son of man is revealed”; and the final book of the canon calls itself “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”. This is no coincidence: it may be said that what the three accounts of the Olivet Discourse are to the other three evangelists, the Apocalypse is to John. Or, to put it another way, there are three synoptic gospels and there is John’s: there are three little “Apocalypses” and there is John’s.

Now, I will aim to show that the book of Revelation, like the Olivet Discourse, is primarily concerned with the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem. And once again, we will begin at the beginning, with a clear time text:

Rev 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

It is astounding to me that so many interpreters of this book have failed to see the significance of this text. Those who love to say,”God says what He means, and means what He says.” are strangely reluctant to apply that dictum here, where it makes the most sense to apply it! How is it that the plain force of these words has been evaded?

Some would refer us to the words of Peter in 2 Peter 3:8, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” The problem is that they cannot show any reason why those words of Peter should be applied to these words of John. In the original context, Peter is explaining that God has a different perspective on time than we do. Moses says concerning Him, “From everlasting to everlasting thou art God …a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” whereas the children of men “are like …the grass “which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth”. (Psa 90:2,4,5,6). So it is clear that 2 Peter 3:8 has nothing to do with how we are to interpret Scripture.

What Peter means is that when short-sighted men conclude that God cannot possibly mean to fullfil his word, or that He is not able to, simply because such a long time has elapsed without its fulfilment, they are seriously mistaken. That does not mean that “shortly” can arbitrarily be made to mean something in this context other than what it means in ordinary usage.

Nor will it do to say that the word shortly is used differently in the apocalyptic language of the prophets, and so may be here. For this is the introduction to the Apocalypse, written in plain prose, for the purpose of indicating what the book is about. In a similar case, (Daniel 10:1) we read ” In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.”

And when the angel Gabriel addressed the time of fulfillment of this vision, He said, “Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.” (Daniel 10:14) The vision that he mentions is of events that would soon commence, but that were not to conclude until the days of the Messiah. We learn from a later prophesy, in Daniel 12, that the duration of the period from the time of the first vision to Messiah’s appearance is to be seventy “weeks” or sevens, apparently 490 years. Now, if some 500 years is “many days”, which means “a long time” in Daniel; how can the two thousand years (at least) reaching from John’s vision to the bodily return of Christ be considered a “short” time?

Nor can the word, “shortly” be explained differently because the prophecy of John reaches as far as the end of the world. For it is only said that the purpose of the book was “to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass” – not that nothing else would be included but what “must shortly come to pass”. The main part of the book is about just that, but there are references to things which had already happened, as well as things in the far distant future.

The same Greek word (tacos) rendered “shortly” here is rendered “speedily” in verse 8 of the following parable:

1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. (Luke 18:3-8)

It is vengeance that is the object of the woman’s suit – not personal vengeance merely, for its own sake, but God’s justice, executed by lawful authority on a wicked person who had evidently had no pity on this widow. The blood of all the martyrs who have died in Jerusalem and Judea likewise calls for vengeance. And it is vengeance which God’s elect cry to God for day and night (Revelation 6:9-11):

9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

But Christ promises that vengeance will not be long in coming, and that He will personally see to it when He comes (Luke 18:38). It is only “a little season” (Revelation 6:11) that the souls of the martyrs must wait, and then the great Stone that the builders rejected will fall on their enemies, and grind them to powder!

Further confirmation is found in verse 3:

Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

And again at the end of the book (Rev 22:10):

And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

In both cases, the Greek word is eggus, which means “near”. The root idea is “to squeeze”, so the word has a connotation of something exerting pressure. “Time presses”, we say in English, when we are short of time in preparing for an event. The word signifies that these things were almost upon them. The deadly dangers spoken of in this book were to press on their minds and make them feel the urgent need to be ready!

So shortly means shortly! And thus we have our first time text in the very first verse of John’s Apocalypse. Rather than being a preview of the full sweep of the Christian era (“historicism”) or a foreview of the end of the world (“futurism”) the Revelation of Jesus Christ is a prophecy concerning the things that are about to take place, “in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (“preterism”).

Other Time-Texts in the Book of Revelation

Another obvious indicator of the time when the book was written is that the temple is still standing (Revelation 11:1). Most of the time, when we read of the temple of God in this book, it is the heavenly temple. But this is clearly a temple on earth, with an outer court capable of being trodden by the Gentiles (v.2, with Luke 21:24). The ludicrous fantasy of Dispensationalism, to the effect that a future temple in earthly Jerusalem is in view, does not deserve a second’s consideration. The lack of definition or explanation shows that this is the temple that John and his readers had always known, and none other. This means that John must have written the apocalypse before 70 A.D. Despite the existence of a contrary tradition (which by the way hangs on one man’s ambiguous statement), there is nothing in Scripture to forbid this early dating of the Apocalypse.

Indeed, this is confirmed strongly by the fact that the fall of Jerusalem is predicted in the book, and not mentioned as a thing past. How do we know that it is Jerusalem in view? For one thing, there are two women in the book, and the contrast between them is stark. One of them is a harlot – a wife who has committed adultery – and the other is a virgin bride. These women represent two cities. The bride of Christ is identified as the city of God – the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-10). But where there is a New Jerusalem, there must be an Old Jerusalem. The harlot is a perfect representation of the earthly Jerusalem that killed the Lord Jesus and persecuted the Apostles and the early church until Christ came and destroyed it in 70 A.D., using the Roman armies as the instuments of His vengeance.

Verse 8 of chapter 11 shows that “the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” still stands; but it is the place where the two witnesses are killed, and it begins to fall in verse 13. The next clear reference to Jerusalem is in 16:6, “For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.” Chapter 17 represents the city of Jerusalem under the figure of “Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots” “drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” and chapter 18 depicts its fall in the most dramatic way, concluding with the unmistakeable identifier, “And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth (the word ghs should be translated land in this and many other places).” (See Matthew 23:34-36)

The next thing we read is:

1 And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: 2 For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. (Revelation 19:1-2)

This reminds us at once of Luke 21:22-24:

For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

Revelation, then, far from being a book about the progress of this age, or of its last days, is a book about the last days of the former, Mosaic age; when Jesus Christ was revealed from heaven as the true and rightful King of Israel, the Son of God, and the Almighty Redeemer of God’s elect, in the final destruction of apostate Israel.

I know by experience that it is difficult for someone indoctrinated in the errors of Dispensational Premillennialism to see Scripture in its true light. The truth at first seems a distortion, and it may take some time before the weight of the arguments set forth herein is duly appreciated. But I trust that enough has been said to let in a little light from God’s word, that has been so long obscured and clouded over by the doctrines of men.

Howard Douglas King

Last Revised June 6th, 2022

“Kinism” is Racism in Disguise

Kinism seems an innocuous name; but I have found it to be a euphemism for white supremacy and racism. I love my family; but Jesus Christ and the church He purchased with His own blood are my first allegiance; and they will be my family forever. The gospel does not dissolve family bonds: I have a special love for, and responsibility to my family, regardless of whether they believe or not; but the fact is, they are enemies of God and His Christ until they repent.

But what did Jesus say about this?

“While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Mat 12:46-50)

And what else? “

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luk 14:26)

And Paul wrote this: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
(Gal 6:10)

So I am shocked by the attempt to reconcile white supremacy and racism with the Christian faith. The following is an example of the conversations I have had with these people.

The Cause of Controversy

I published this opinion of the SCOTUS situation on the 12th of May, 2022: “Why doesn’t Chief Justice “The Coward” Roberts release the final opinion and make it a fait accompli? Then there would be no more point to the violence being committed against them and their families. What’s he waiting for? And why hasn’t the leaker been revealed and arrested? Roberts should be impeached. Clarence Thomas should by rights be chief justice. He’s the senior justice, a staunch conservative in his interpretation of the law, and at least as able as Roberts. Plus, he has guts!”

[For the record, my negative evaluation of chief Justice Roberts is not based on his performance in this case alone; but the many defections from the constitution which seem obviously to have been in response to pressure from the outside. But I should not have treated him with disrespect, in view of his office. I do think he should be fired because he has shown himself to be arbitrary, and subject to influence.]

In return, I received this from another blogger with which I have had conversations before – some good and some bad. He claims to be a Christian, and I think he believes himself to be. But look at this!

John Doe

“I am not sure how I got on your email notifications list, I think probably from when we were talking a couple years ago. I often do not read your many notifications, but this one concerning the SC leak/Roberts/Thomas was over the top.

Yes, I oppose abortion and would like to see Roe v Wade struck down. And of course, then abortion will return to being a State issue, as it clearly is under the Constitution. It may then wither away or expand, as the several states decide.

I am not a fan of Roberts, but am not sure what his impeachable offense here is, other than not immediately ruling as you like. Under that criteria various partisans -right and left- could advocate the impeachment of all the justices. But now the heart of the matter.

You want Clarence Thomas to be Chief Justice? Seriously? Clarence Thomas is a Negro, a miscegenationist, is divorced and remarried, and is a practicing Roman Catholic.

Thomas is at war with both racial order and the Biblical definition of family, and is an active part of what the Reformers identified as the Antichrist church. Any political system that does (I am sure he meant “does not”) preserve the family and racial distinctives is a worthless system and contrary to the God ordained purpose of civil government. If Thomas can be a “conservative” then the system is not worth conserving.

Race, religion, and regional culture come first -then politics afterward among *your people*. Making political alliances with those outside your people, and outside your religion, will inevitably fail. Like most Boomers, you are stuck in an “Americanism” fantasy that is crumbling before your eyes.

I do not wish to blog against you and will not post about this. But like with a relative of mine who is still into the QAnon madness, I felt the need to give you a few points of reality to ponder.”

Me:

“I only care that Justice Thomas is the only justice on the court who over his long career has consistently defended the constitution, which is his job. And BTW, this shows me that you are a Racist, by any definition of the term. Look into your heart, John. Your denigration of other races goes way beyond a natural preference for your own. The Christian church is made up of all the families of the earth, and we are commanded to love them with a fervent love, receive them, and treat them as our own kin. You are deep into sin here. If you claim to love Jesus, you need to keep his commandments.”

John Doe:

“I have publicly stated that I am a Kinist and a White Nationalist for years. Call that racist if you will; I do not care. To love other families does not mean you treat them as your own or let them live in your house. The same goes for other races of men. I did not say I hated Clarence Thomas or Blacks, or that the gospel should not be preached to them. I said nothing in my email message to you that is sin by any reasonable Biblical definition.

Do you think Jesus Christ sinned in Matthew 15:26 when he spoke of a foreign woman as a “dog”? He did not deny her a blessing, but he made a distinction between his race and hers, and in the focus of his ministry. Do you think R.L. Dabney sinned in his Defense of Virginia when he spoke of the Negro bloodline as a “vile stream from the fens of Africa”?

And to be clear, I am not actually asking what you think about Jesus or Dabney, because at this point I do not care what you think on any subject. I am not ashamed of my race or my ancestors, or of the Antebellum South and the chattel slavery practiced there. I am truly sorry that I ever wasted my time reading your material.

Please remove me from your email list.”

Me:

“You repeat your talking points but evade the scriptural references because they condemn you:

‘And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging.’ (1Pe 4:8-9)

‘I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.’ (Eph 4:1-6)

To these may be added a myriad of Scriptures which require daily interaction with and care for “one another”.

At your request, I have removed your name from my contact list, but not you from my prayers. You need Jesus, John.”

Sad, isn’t it?

Howard Douglas King

May 13, 2022