Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cult-Like Tendency in Modern Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism, part three

I think the word "cult" gets thrown around too easily, but I'm still using it in this series (part one, part two).   I'm not saying "cult," but "cult-like tendency."  Cults don't have history on their side.   They find a new teaching and practice that contradicts historical doctrine and application.  If there is to be a change in what Christians believe and do, it should be accompanied first, if not alone, with serious exegesis of Scripture.   When I say that fundamentalism and evangelicalism have a cult-like tendency, I'm suggesting this feature, the neglect or ignorance orthodox, historical theology.  I'm not saying, however, that fundamentalists and evangelicals don't consider historical doctrine and practice at all.  They do, but they are selective in this, which is also what one witnesses in cults.

Biblical, spiritual matters should be considering first whether it is what God wants, what He said, not what will be popular, "help" with the size of the church or the organization.  The world will clash with the church in a greater, more severe way on certain doctrines and practices, highlighting the difference, the contrast between the church and the world.  A major teaching in the Bible is the suffering of the church.  Jesus said the world would hate His people, like the world hated Him.  1 Peter is a book that teaches the calling to suffer.  A tendency of churches, however, and professing believers, is to try to avoid suffering.  It's natural, but it must be resisted.  A church should just keep walking the right path in doctrine and practice, despite the hostility of the world.  Pragmatic compromises with the world will not help.  They might look like they help in the short term, but they are not honoring to God when they move away from God.  Again, this is all about God, so His honor must stay in the forefront.

Little suffering will occur for a church because they use the King James Version with its underlying received text.  Some will happen, mainly in the nature of being marginalized as kooks or quacks with no proof from the accusers.  There will be those who will not attend a church if a modern version is not used.  It's been programmed in now after years of propaganda.  I know modern version advocates will say the opposite occurs too with people who reject modern versions for the King James, especially in certain areas of the country.  That tide is turning or has turned now.  The point I've made on this is that the church has believed in the perfect preservation of Scripture and that has been forsaken by fundamentalism and evangelicalism, ignoring historical doctrine to do so.  That is a cult-like tendency, to leave the historical doctrine of the preservation of Scripture because of science.  We are seeing the same trend with 6 day literal creationism for views compatible with evolution.  Leaving the orthodox understanding of Genesis based upon worldly thinking is cult-like.  Fundamentalists have not taken this turn on Genesis, but they have moved on the text of Scripture based upon similar "scientific" principles.

A major turn in fundamentalism and evangelicalism away from historical application of Scripture, the practice of God's Word, has been on the so-called cultural issues.  The historical understanding of Deuteronomy 22:5 among Christians has been practiced as men wearing pants and women wearing skirts or dresses.  Historically, true believers have believed that the disobedience of this passage in this way made the violators an abomination to God.  That was the position that Christians took, all of them.   As the culture of the world began to move away from this Christian influence, Christians stood against the world, but over a longer period of time, Christians too have shifted on it, until there is little to no difference between the church and the world in this practice.  In fact, now professing Christians actually attack, mock, and ridicule the historical Christian position and practice on gender distinctiveness in dress as much as or more than the world itself does.

The change in practice on dress did not start with study of the Bible or exegesis.  It started with accommodation to the world and then acceptance of the world's practice.  Christians were no longer obeying Deuteronomy 22:5.  Some interpretational differences came later as fundamentalists and evangelicals attempted to justify their lack of practice.

Understand that accompanying the disobedience of Deuteronomy 22:5 has come the variation in the roles of men and women and the rise of homosexuality.  They are related issues.  First came the God-ordained symbolism of men wearing pants and women wearing skirts and dresses, and then once the symbol was rejected, the roles themselves have moved to the worldly thinking as well.  New arguments arose against male headship and female submission, changing the historical beliefs of Christians.  And this is related to the creation issue, since God created the roles of men and women, and He wanted those differences designed into the external symbolism of dress.  This is clear in Deuteronomy 22:5 and 1 Corinthians 11:3-16.

From my perspective, the arguments against the man wearing pants and the woman wearing skirts and dresses, are weak and ridiculous.  They are not trying to follow what the Bible says, just looking for a way out in order to fit in with the world.  The issue has become political more than exegetical.  You take a position that will allow you to fit in with more people.  There is no history with it.  The people will not refer to positions Christians have taken.  They will not talk about how Christians have interpreted the passages.  They don't want to do that.  They know what it means.  Instead, they  just take pot shots at those who continue believing and practicing the biblical and historical way.  This is a cult-like tendency.  It is illustrated with the rebellion on the dress issue, but it is happening in many of the cultural issues.   The world is turning the church upside down.

13 comments:

Scott Jonas said...

I like how you made a connection with Deut. 22:5 and 1 Cor. 11:3-16 together. Few men do that. The 1 Cor. 11 passage helps us understand that God gave women long hair as a “covering” which is also a type of natural “clothing” that she is to wear, and it is to be distinct from the man who is to wear his short. This is also why I personally wear a beard, as I consider it a type of natural clothing that God has given men that makes them even more gender-distinct. There are no commands I’m aware of in the OT and NT for men to wear a beard, but the OT law does instruct men how to wear their beards which implies that they did wear them, and we read in some places that they felt ashamed if it was partially or entirely cut off. Even though it is unruly at times and I want to shave it off, I endure it especially since I want to be an example to women who have long, unruly hair and have an urge to cut it short. For those women who can’t wear long hair because of circumstances beyond their control, I think this is where God’s grace and mercy come into play, but I would still encourage them to wear a cloth head covering or a wig. Many such women do that anyways without anyone suggesting it because they naturally feel a sense of shame, including non-Christians.

I consider 1 Cor. 11:3-16 to be one of the more profound verses in the Bible. God takes something as seemingly unimportant and insignificant as hair length and relates it to something as important and significant as his natural created authority structure. It is obvious that from this passage and Deut. 22:5 that God cares very much about little things and appearances and what we wear, and it is obvious that if we don’t follow his instructions regarding these he considers it an act of rebellion against his authority, his appointed (or created) authorities, and the natural order of how he created things. The 1 Cor. 11 verse that says “doth not nature itself teach you” implies that we can figure out how to act without God having to give us detailed instructions on what he considers appropriate hair length and attire. This verse also tells us that this passage is not cultural, that it is “for today” since it is part of his creation (as you alluded to). I call this “The Nature of Things” principle and also use it when teaching about modesty. We can discern from nature what is modest and immodest.

Even non-Christians understand that it is more natural for a woman to wear long hair and a man to wear short hair. They also understand that it is unnatural for men to wear dresses and women to wear pants (although most will deny the later), and understand that women look sensual in most pant styles unless their cabooses are covered by a long shirt or robe, like women from India often wear (which includes a pant style that is typically very loose and has feminine designs and colors). I understood most of these things before I became a Christian.

I personally don’t believe the 1 Cor. 11 passage is talking about cloth coverings.
But if a woman wants to wear a cloth covering when she prays (or her husband wants her to), I don’t mind it. I think it makes her look even more feminine, meek, quiet, gentle, and submissive. And if a man comes into a church wearing a hat, I don’t see a scriptural reason to ask him to take it off. But it is a often custom to do so and an act of good manners (for example it could block someone’s view) and thus potentially offend others. And there's also no reason to wear one indoors since it's not cold and not raining. Same goes for the women.

JOHN GARDNER said...

Hi men,
If Paul is talking about long hair in 1 Cor. 11, then men should shave their heads. Inserting long hair into vv. 4-7 make them nonsensical. Paul is talking about a physical covering. The historical argument can also be used. Look at most commentaries before 1800 and see what they say. I submit, a physical headcovering is the historical position. See also Gen. 24:54 & Num. 5:18.

Good Discussion
Blessings
John Gardner

Scott Jonas said...


Hi John,

I can’t speak for Kent of course and he may completely disagree with me, but I don’t quite follow why inserting the words “long hair” into vs. 4-6 makes them nonsensical. Inserting the phrase “with long hair” after the words “covering” or “covered” makes more sense to me than using phrases such as “with a hat” or “with a cloth” especially in vs. 5-6 because a hat or cloth can’t be “shorn” or “shaven.” Those later words are usually used to describe something that is done to one’s own naturally grown hair (or an animals hair). Further, the word “hair” is used several times in the overall passage in relation to coverings, while words such as “cloth” or “hat” or similar words are not specifically mentioned as something to be used as a covering.

Further, the Greek words for “covered” or “covering” mean “veil” or “mantle” or “something thrown around one,” and similar (I’m only using Strong’s here). Many Textus Receptus based Bibles older than the KJV (which I’m using) also use the word “anything” instead of “covered” in vs. 4. Some kind of garment made of cloth can certainly fit these descriptions. But so can “hair” and I think that fits best because Paul explains clearly in vs. 15 that “hair” for a woman (long in her case) is given to her as a “covering”. And in verse 14, although a form of the word “covering” is not used, I believe it is implied because of it’s tie into vs. 15 with use of the word “but.” So I think the overall weight of various Scriptures leans towards the use of our naturally grown “hair” as the material used as a “covering” throughout the entire passage.

I do think it's odd that Paul waited until the end of the passage to define his terms but he's not known for great writing style and clear dissertations. But for some reason that is the way God chose to leave us his writings.

Scott Jonas said...

Hi John,

I can’t speak for Kent of course and he may completely disagree with me, but I don’t quite follow why inserting the words “long hair” into vs. 4-6 makes them nonsensical. Inserting the phrase “with long hair” after the words “covering” or “covered” makes more sense to me than using phrases such as “with a hat” or “with a cloth” especially in vs. 5-6 because a hat or cloth can’t be “shorn” or “shaven.” Those later words are usually used to describe something that is done to one’s own naturally grown hair (or an animals hair). Further, the word “hair” is used several times in the overall passage in relation to coverings, while words such as “cloth” or “hat” or similar words are not specifically mentioned as something to be used as a covering.

Further, the Greek words for “covered” or “covering” mean “veil” or “mantle” or “something thrown around one,” and similar (I’m only using Strong’s here). Many Textus Receptus based Bibles older than the KJV (which I’m using) also use the word “anything” instead of “covered” in vs. 4. Some kind of garment made of cloth can certainly fit these descriptions. But so can “hair” and I think that fits best because Paul explains clearly in vs. 15 that “hair” for a woman (long in her case) is given to her as a “covering”. And in verse 14, although a form of the word “covering” is not used, I believe it is implied because of it’s tie into vs. 15 with use of the word “but.” So I think the overall weight of various Scriptures leans towards the use of our naturally grown “hair” as the material used as a “covering” throughout the entire passage.

I do think it's odd that Paul waited until the end of the passage to define his terms but he's not known for great writing style and clear dissertations. But for some reason that is the way God chose to leave us his writings.

JOHN GARDNER said...

Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered with long hair, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered with long hair, dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she had really short hair. For if the woman be not covered with long hair, let her also have really short hair: but if it be a shame for a woman to have really short hair, let her be covered with long hair. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head with long hair, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. (1 Cor. 11:4-7 SJV (Scott Jonas Version ;).

Verse 6 is the nonsensical verse for me. For if a woman has short hair, let her also have really short hair.? Do we allow men to pray with hats on in our churches? Why or why not? Is a godly woman who lost her hair to cancer treatments praying with a headcovering on being disobedient here? It seems to me that God wouldn't inspire 16 entire verses of the NT to tell us that women should have long hair and men not. Just look at any 2 year boy and a 2 year old girl that hasn't had a haircut yet (Doth not even nature itself teach you)

Also, many use Paul's appeal to creation in 1 Tim 2:13-14 to rightly prove the teaching that women should not teach nor usurp authority over the man is not cultural or temporary. However, 1Cor. 11:8-9 doesn't seem to be treated consistently.

Good Discussion
Blessings

Jon Gleason said...

John, verse 15 doesn't tell us that long hair is THE covering Paul spoke of earlier. It does tell us it is A covering.

Paul says a woman's head is to be covered. Verse 15 tells us long hair is one way that could be done. If a woman did not have long hair, either because she was a new believer or for health reasons or some other reason, he was telling them that they should still cover their heads. But for those who have long hair, God has given them a covering.

We can't read "long hair" into the prior verses the way you have, because it is only one of the ways a woman could cover her head.

Verse 6 is saying if a woman doesn't want to have a covering of some kind, then she is trying to act like a man, and she might as well go all out with it and go with really short hair. If you aren't willing to look like a woman, then put your rebellion fully on display and look like a man. But if that embarrasses you, then you are acknowledging you shouldn't look like a man, so look like a woman.

So taking your SJV, I'll give you the Revised SJV (RSJV):
Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered (with long hair or with something else), dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered (with long hair or with something else), dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she had really short hair (and was trying to look like a man). For if the woman be not covered (with long hair or something else), let her also have really short hair and look like a man: but if it be a shame for a woman to have really short hair and look like a man, let her look like a woman and be covered (with long hair or something else such as a veil). For a man indeed ought not to cover his head with long hair or anything else, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

JOHN GARDNER said...

Thanks for the comment Mr. Gleason. Indeed, V15 says her hair is given her for a covering. However, it is to cover herself before God because she is the glory of man (v7). But her long hair is a glory to her (v15). That glory needs to be covered as well when she goes before the Lord in prayer. Hence, the need for a physical headcovering. Also, I don’t think your explanation of verse 6 resolves the nonsensical, “for if the woman has short hair, let her have really short hair.

It seems to me that the plain reading of this passage would lead one to the position of a physical headcovering for the women of God’s churches. The ole Bible on a deserted island test would prove true here. The historical position is on the side of headcoverings. Paul’s appeals to the permanent facts of headship (v3.), creation (vv.8-9), angels (v10), and nature (vv.14-15) disallow the viewpoint that headcoverings were temporary and/or only local to Corinth culture. The” judge in yourselves, is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered” question is to be understood as rhetorical with the answer no.

More could be said but the link below provides some points probably better than I can make them.

http://headcoverings.org/other-resources/donahue-charts-on-covering-custom

Blessings
Thanks for the good discussion.

Jon Gleason said...

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Brother Gardner.

"But her long hair is a glory to her (v15). That glory needs to be covered as well when she goes before the Lord in prayer."

Except the text doesn't actually say that this glory needs to be covered as well.

Verse six certainly makes sense if "long hair" actually means "long". The "covering" of verse 15 is peribolaion, which Thayer says is "a covering thrown around, a wrapper" giving a mantle or a veil as examples. If it isn't at least shoulder length, it would be hard to see how it could be a peribolaion.

A lot of women wear their hair a lot shorter than that. Verse six would have been addressed to them.

The thing is, if you don't see the last half of verse 15 as referring to the requirements listed above, what is it there for? You have to read it in the context of what has come before, and if it doesn't mean that long hair is a covering for her head as discussed earlier in the passage, what does it mean, and why did he say it? It certainly seems to have horribly confused things to stick it in where he did, unless it means what it clearly says.

I readily concede that verses 4-7 don't sound like they are talking about long hair. But that is because they are talking about a general principle and not long hair. Verse 15 adds that long hair fulfills that principle.

It's an interesting passage. We have friends here who are Brethren, and this is a line-in-the-sand practice for them. Some of the Baptists in Northern Ireland are militant about head coverings. I've read all the arguments. I always come back to verse 15, and I've never encountered anything that really makes sense. Usually, I hear the SJV approach you gave above, but I don't think that fits with verse 15 at all.

There are other questions surrounding the proper application of the text today, of course. The principles of authority and visible submission are timeless. Lev. 10:6 suggests that Aaron and his sons had their heads covered during the consecration of the tabernacle, so the particular application of the principle that Paul is making here might not be timeless.

All that said, if you believe your wife should use an additional covering over her long hair, it's hard for me to see how that will displease the Lord for her to do so. If we keep our hearts towards Him, He'll keep on refining our practice.

JOHN GARDNER said...

Thanks Bro. Gleason for the reply. Could you point me to a commentary with the long hair is the headcovering view before say 1850?
Blessings

Jon Gleason said...

I haven't searched that extensively, but Adam Clarke (died 1832) said this on verse 15.

"The Author of their being has given a larger proportion of hair to the head of women than to that of men; and to them it is an especial ornament, and may in various cases serve as a veil."

That is not a "long hair is THE headcovering view". That is saying that long hair serves as a veil.

The requirement of earlier verses is for a veil.

I do find myself amazed that some will refuse to accept the only veil that is specifically mentioned in the chapter (long hair), and yet willingly accept hats, berets, scarves, etc., which aren't veils at all.

JOHN GARDNER said...

Thanks for the reply Bro. Gleason. I had thought of writing 1800 instead of 1850 in my somewhat rhetorical question to you specifically because I was aware of Clarke’s note on v15. However, I think he clearly endorses the physical headcovering view in his notes on vv 4-5. He interestingly speaks of hats and turbans in his notes on v4. My main point is that the long hair view is the new position. It is as if Christians for 1800 years have missed this particular doctrine and it isn’t until recently that we found v15. Pastor Brandenburg writes this of the Perfect Preservation doctrine but I think it surmises my point perfectly.
“If all Christians represent the only written position on a doctrine from the time of Christ for even 1700 years, at least our bias should be toward that position. If there were to be a new position to overturn it, the way one would expect Christians to see that accomplished would be through some dedicated, serious exegesis of Scripture. Genuine Christians would see that the particular doctrine was not in fact taught in the Bible and would show work done in the way of examining the passages that have taught that doctrine. If every Christian believed that doctrine, these Christians with the new exegesis would be showing that all of those Christians had apostatized on that doctrine or position. The Bible does not have two meanings. The former meaning would be exposed as a fraud and the new meaning would be revealed as the original position of the apostles. Christians would celebrate this return from apostasy and to God be the glory!

What we would be asking from those who reject this old doctrine is to show the above. Show the way the old, wrong position was changed, and how that serious exegesis triumphed. That's how we would deal with any doctrine in a faithful, God-honoring way. If they cannot do this, then please believe the position established by common faith among those indwelt by the Holy Spirit.”
Source: http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2011/11/explaining-role-of-holy-spirit-in.html
Regarding “veils”, it isn’t in the text. They women are to be covered. The older translations say men aren’t to pray having anything on their head. And the women aren’t to pray bareheaded. I think both translations bolster the physical head covering view. I think God is specifically vague in the description of the headcovering so we won’t go legalistic on it (i.e. you must have a square, white cloth made of lace that is 9”x9”). I see it kind of like modesty in dress. The covering can be pretty much anything that covers the head. The text is about headship, glory, and order. It is about why women should cover and men shouldn’t. You make a good point that Jewish men cover their head and pray. We make this text about the woman when the real change was for the Jewish man of old. Think of v4 and the Jewish men today praying at the Western Wall with their yarmulkes on. Maybe more later…
Blessings
Thanks for making me think on this…

Jon Gleason said...

Hello, Brother Gardner. I wrote a long response, but it hasn't appeared, so I guess it got eaten by cyber-space. I saw on another thread that a comment disappeared, so maybe blogger has been misbehaving. Anyway, here we go again. I'm running short on time, so this might be my last comment on the topic.

1. History is on your side, I agree. Most historical commentators have not believed that long hair is a covering as per the earlier verses.

2. Exegesis, I believe, is not on that side. Few older commentators, if any, actually exegete verse 15 in the context of 4-7. Calvin doesn't even address 15 at all. Gill does, but makes unsupported assertions that it doesn't take the place of a veil. He doesn't say why, he just says it. He doesn't address the use of "anti" ("for"), which often means "in place of" or substitution, as in Christ gave His life "a ransom for (anti) many."

If long hair takes the place of a veil, then that seems very strong to me, in context. A.T. Robertson is the only older commentator I've found addressing that, and he interprets "anti" as "answering to" rather than "in place of" but gives no reason for saying so, he just says it.

3. "Veils" is indeed in the text. Both Greek words for "covering" here are veils.

4. The Old Testament point is important. The principles of headship / authority and gender distinctions are very clear here, and timeless. Some argue that the specific application (head covering) is NOT timeless, but cultural.

The standard refutation has been that it can't be cultural and must be timeless, because of the reference to angels, and because the principle is timeless. But angels were just as present in the Old Testament, and gender distinctions and headship / authority mattered in the OT as well. All the reasons cited here for headcoverings were present in the OT when men prayed with their heads covered, and God told Aaron NOT to uncover his head during tabernacle service.

God gave differing instructions in another cultural setting. Why? Those who say headcoverings are for all times and places haven't really answered that.

The principles / doctrine of gender distinction and headship are obviously timeless, across all cultures. The OT may tell us that this particular application is not timeless. I'm not ready to draw that conclusion, but I understand why many do.

JOHN GARDNER said...

Thanks for the reply Bro. Gleason.
I’ll end with this.
1) History is big. They weren’t perfect back then, but we are much closer to (if not already in) the “falling away” (2 Thess. 2:3) than they. It doesn’t mean we can’t have sound doctrine. It just means there will be fewer and fewer of us adhering to it. The physical headcovering view today is in the minority which tells me it’s probably right.

2) When folks are talking about long hair they don’t say your head is covered. They say you have long hair. Contra wise for short hair. I don’t think I’ve ever said to a guy that his head is so not covered with hair. I said your hair is short. Paul had and used words for hair (1 Cor. 11:14-15; 1 Tim. 2:9) but didn’t in vv1-13.

3) If Paul is saying women should have long hair, isn’t he just stating the obvious? Women love their hair. It is their glory. Go compare the men’s and women’s shampoo sections in the store next time you’re there. Did God inspire a half of chapter of Scripture to tell us that women should have long hair? Something that happens naturally.

4) Verse 6 is nonsensical with the long hair view. If she is not covered with long hair (which means she has short hair) you should cut her hair really short…?

Thanks for the amicable discussion.