Friday, August 29, 2014

Reverence and Solemnity: Essential Aspects of Biblical Worship, part 3 of 8

III. Where Does Scripture Speak of Solemnity?

            The relevant texts[1] in the King James Bible on solemn worship are found in several groups.  The first[2] refers to the public gathering for worship as a “solemn assembly”:
Lev. 23:36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.
Num. 29:35 On the eighth day ye shall have a solemn assembly: ye shall do no servile work therein:
Deut. 16:8 Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work therein.
2Kings 10:20 And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it.
2Chr. 7:9 And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly: for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days.
Neh. 8:18 Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner.
Is. 1:13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
Joel 1:14 Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,
Joel 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:
Amos 5:21 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
The second[3] refers to “solemn feasts,” “solemn assemblies,” or specific gatherings for worship as “solemnities”:
Num. 10:10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.
Num. 15:3 And will make an offering by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the LORD, of the herd, or of the flock:
Deut. 31:10 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,
2Chr. 2:4 Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel.
2Chr. 8:13 Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles.
Is. 33:20 Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.
Lam. 1:4 The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness.
Lam. 2:6 And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the LORD hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest.
Lam. 2:7 The Lord hath cast off his altar, he hath abhorred his sanctuary, he hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; they have made a noise in the house of the LORD, as in the day of a solemn feast.
Lam. 2:22 Thou hast called as in a solemn day my terrors round about, so that in the day of the LORD’S anger none escaped nor remained: those that I have swaddled and brought up hath mine enemy consumed.
Ezek. 36:38 As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
Ezek. 45:17 And it shall be the prince’s part to give burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel: he shall prepare the sin offering, and the meat offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make reconciliation for the house of Israel.
Ezek. 46:9 But when the people of the land shall come before the LORD in the solemn feasts, he that entereth in by the way of the north gate to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate; and he that entereth by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate: he shall not return by the way of the gate whereby he came in, but shall go forth over against it.
Ezek. 46:11 And in the feasts and in the solemnities the meat offering shall be an ephah to a bullock, and an ephah to a ram, and to the lambs as he is able to give, and an hin of oil to an ephah.
Hos. 2:11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
Hos. 9:5 What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD?
Hos. 12:9 And I that am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast.
Zeph. 3:18 I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.
The third[4] similarly refers to “solemn feasts” or “solemnit[ies]”:
Deut. 16:15 Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.
Psa. 81:3 Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.
Is. 30:29 Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel.
Nah. 1:15 Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.
Mal. 2:3 Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.
Finally, Psalm 92:1-3 indicates that it is a good thing to praise the Lord, not in public worship only, but also in private, with a “solemn sound”[5]: “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: to shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.”  A “solemn sound” befits both the public worship of “the Sabbath day” for Israel (Ps 92 title) and the Lord’s Day for the church, and also the individual believer’s worship every morning and night (Ps 92:2).

This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]           In Genesis 43:3 the verb “to protest,” intensified with the infinitive absolute, is rendered “solemnly protest” (·dIoEh d∞EoDh);  the KJV margin reads “protesting protested.”  A similar use appears in 1 Samuel 8:9’s “protest solemnly” (‹dyIoD;t d§EoDh).  These two texts are the only ones other than those referenced below that employ a form of solemn in the KJV.
[2]           The Hebrew noun h∂rDxSo is employed in these verses.  The word occurs in the Hebrew OT in Lev 23:36; Num 29:35; Deut 16:8; 2 Kings 10:20; Is 1:13; Jer 9:1; Joel 1:14; 2:15; Amos 5:21; Neh 8:18; 2 Chr 7:9.  TWOT, pg. 691, supports and provides a possible explanation for the development of the meaning of “solemn, sacred assembly” for h∂rDxSo.
Note also that in 2 Kings 10:20 the assembly Jehu proclaimed for the purpose of exterminating the worshippers of Baal employed the “solemn assembly” language in allusion to the Scripture language employed of the feasts of Jehovah.  On the days of solemn assemblies to the true God work was not to be done, so proclaiming a day of solemn assembly to Baal would give the worshippers of the idol the leisure to attend to Jehu’s command and consequently be exterminated.  To assume that the worship of Baal was genuinely solemn, as the worship of Jehovah truly was, would be an invalid assumption.  However, it is nonetheless true that false worship can have a kind of solemnity to it while rejecting other essential features of true worship—such as, for worshippers of Baal, recognizing the true God as the One who must receive worship.
[3]           The Hebrew noun dEowøm is employed in these verses.  The word occurs in the Hebrew OT in Gen 1:14; 17:21; 18:14; 21:2; Ex 9:5; 13:10; 23:15; 27:21; 28:43; 29:4, 10–11, 30, 32, 42, 44; 30:16, 18, 20, 26, 36; 31:7; 33:7; 34:18; 35:21; 38:8, 30; 39:32, 40; 40:2, 6–7, 12, 22, 24, 26, 29–30, 32, 34–35; Lev 1:1, 3, 5; 3:2, 8, 13; 4:4–5, 7, 14, 16, 18; 6:16, 26, 30; 8:3–4, 31, 33, 35; 9:5, 23; 10:7, 9; 12:6; 14:11, 23; 15:14, 29; 16:7, 16–17, 20, 23, 33; 17:4–6, 9; 19:21; 23:2, 4, 37, 44; 24:3; Num 1:1; 2:2, 17; 3:7–8, 25, 38; 4:3–4, 15, 23, 25, 28, 30–31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 47; 6:10, 13, 18; 7:5, 89; 8:9, 15, 19, 22, 24, 26; 9:2–3, 7, 13; 10:3, 10; 11:16; 12:4; 14:10; 15:3; 16:2, 18–19, 42–43, 50; 17:4; 18:4, 6, 21–23, 31; 19:4; 20:6; 25:6; 27:2; 28:2; 29:39; 31:54; Deut 16:6; 31:10, 14; Josh 8:14; 18:1; 19:51; Jud 20:38; 1 Sam 2:22; 9:24; 13:8, 11; 20:35; 2 Sam 20:5; 24:15; 1 Kings 8:4; 2 Kings 4:16–17; Is 1:14; 14:13; 33:20; Jer 8:7; 46:17; Eze 36:38; 44:24; 45:17; 46:9, 11; Hos 2:9, 11; 9:5; 12:9; Hab 2:3; Zech 3:18; Zech 8:19; Ps 74:4, 8; 75:2; 102:13; 104:19; Job 30:23; Lam 1:4, 15; 2:6–7, 22; Dan 8:19; 11:27, 29, 35; 12:7; Ezra 3:5; Neh 10:33; 1 Chr 6:32; 9:21; 23:31–32; 2 Chr 1:3, 6, 13; 2:4; 5:5; 8:13; 30:22; 31:3.
Note the rendering of dEowøm in various texts in the Vulgate;  e. g., in 2 Chr 2:4 the “solemn feasts of the LORD our God” is rendered as solemnitatibus Domini Dei nostri, in Is 33:20 “the city of our solemnities” is civitatem solemnitatis nostræ, in Lam 1:4, “solemn feasts” is solemnitatem; in Lam 2:7 “solemn feast” is solemni; in Eze 36:38 “solemn feasts” is solemnitatibus; in Eze 45:17, “solemnities of the house of Israel” is solemnitatibus domus Israël;  see also Eze 46:9, 11, Hos 9:5, etc.
Note also that dEowøm, because of its fundamental meaning of “appointed time, place, or meeting” (BDB) and its derivation from dAoDy, “to appoint,” supports the Regulative Principle of worship, namely, that whatever is not commanded in Scriptural worship is forbidden.  See for further information on the Regulative Principle as a crucial Biblical teaching.
[4]           Deut 16:15 employs the verb gÅgDj, while Ps 81:3; Is 30:29; Nah 1:15; Mal 2:3 employ the noun gAj.  The verb occurs in the Hebrew OT in Ex 5:1; 12:14; 23:14; Lev 23:39, 41; Num 29:12; Deut 16:15; 1 Sam 30:16; Nah 1:15; Zech 14:16, 18–19; Ps 42:4; 107:27.  The noun occurs in the Hebrew OT in Ex 10:9; 12:14; 13:6; 23:15–16, 18; 32:5; 34:18, 22, 25; Lev 23:6, 34, 39, 41; Num 28:17; 29:12; Deut 16:10, 13–14, 16; 31:10; Jud 21:19; 1 Kings 8:2, 65; 12:32–33; Is 29:1; 30:29; Eze 45:17, 21, 23, 25; 46:11; Hos 2:11; 9:5; Amos 5:21; 8:10; Nah 1:15; Zech 14:16, 18–19; Mal 2:3; Ps 81:3; 118:27; Ezra 3:4; 6:22; Neh 8:14, 18; 2 Chr 5:3; 7:8–9; 8:13; 30:13, 21; 35:17. The Latin Vulgate renders gAj as “solemnity,” solemnitas, in texts such as 2 Chr 7:9; Neh 8:18; Ps 81:3 (Lat. 80:4); Is 30:29; Eze 45:17; Hos 2:11; Mal 2:3, etc.
[5]           NwøyÎ…gIh.  The noun occurs in the OT in Ps 9:16; 19:14; 92:3; Lam 3:62.  The idea of “meditation,” not in the Eastern mystical sense but in the Biblical sense of active thinking about God, is also found in the word (cf. Ps 9:16; 19:14; Lam 3:62).  Biblical music is both solemn in sound and of a sort that encourages active use of the mind in thinking on the character of the Lord.  Concerning the solemnity idea in NwøyÎ…gIh here, note:  NwøyÎ…gIh . . . a musical notation (prob. similar to the modern affettuoso to indicate solemnity of movement) . . . solemn sound” (pg. 32, A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible, James Strong.  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009).  “Kimchi . . . explains higgâyôn to be ‘the melody of the hymn when played on the harp’” (pg. 44, The Psalms, with Introductions and Critical Notes, vol. 1, 2nd ed., A. C. Jennings and W. H. Lowe.  (London: Macmillan and Co., 1884)).  Higgaion . . . means ‘meditation,’ and, combined with Selah, seems to denote a pause of unusual solemnity and emphasis” (Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown.  (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), on Ps 9:16).  Higgaion . . . befits the solemn theme” (pg. 116, Psalms 1-50, Peter C. Craigie & Marvin E. Tate.  (Nashville, TN:  Thomas Nelson, 1983)).  Higgaion, a call to deep reflection or solemn musing . . . [in Psalm 92:3] הִגָּיוֹן [is] ‘solemn heart-musing’ to accompany the harp. For this seems the only plain sense of NwâøyÎ…gIh y™ElSo. It is upon the heart-strings, so to speak, as well as harp-strings” (pgs. 33, 278-279, Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms, Andrew A. Bonar.  (New York, NY:  Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860)). 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cultural Issues Are Essential for Evangelicals, Just for Bad Reasons

I don't know that I'll be writing the critique of the Sword of the Lord Lordship salvation article.  I missplaced it or lost it and I'm not going to work that hard at getting it back.  If it shows up or you send it to me, I'll write on it, because I want to.  I'll be continuing the series on prayer.  I'll be writing on the Anderson/White video.  I don't have the time to write about those today, because it will take more effort there.  I have time for this, because it relates to my last post, which touched on cultural issues.


Evangelicals differentiate themselves from fundamentalists and other separatists on cultural issues. They call them non-essentials.  A big chunk of fundamentalism is moving that way too, by separating historical fundamentalists from cultural ones.  What I'm contending with this post, and I think it is obvious enough to write on it, is that evangelicals don't think that cultural issues are non-essentials.  In certain cases, maybe most, there is nothing more important to them than cultural issues, except for different reasons than for separatists.

People like myself, and our churches, deal with cultural issues like any other biblical subject.  We read the Bible, we study it, we get the interpretation, and then we apply it.  We apply the Bible to cultural issues, since that is what Christians should do (really will do), and obey God by doing so. We don't relegate these to non-essentials.  We see that the biblical authors dealt with them and expected obedience in them.  We assume we should too.

Churches like ours, people like me, make the application of the Bible to cultural issues and are unabashed in doing so.  It's just like any other subject, perhaps the only difference being that cultural issues are what is most controversial in their application, because they usually mean differentiation from the world.  People want to fit in.   

Enter evangelicals.  They say that cultural issues are non-essentials. They say the Bible is silent on these things.  They say that people who apply the Bible to cultural issues generally are speaking where the Bible is silent, so these people are going beyond what is written.  Usually they also say it is legalistic to make these applications, and the people making those applications are legalists, even Pharisees.

Evangelicals use fitting in as a strategy. They call it contextualization or incarnational.  They don't want to be judged on cultural issues.  They want to be left alone and not be thought to be less for not applying the Bible in those areas.  In certain cases, they will say that they are theologically conservative and culturally liberal.  They attack separatists and fundamentalists for teaching that the Bible is authoritative or clear on cultural issues.  They mock them over this.  They go after them in public, in advertisements, and on blogs.  They separate over them.  They marginalize them.

Evangelicals gladly take the members from separatist churches.  Separatists, those who teach personal separation from the world, evangelize and hopefully win someone to Christ.  They begin to teach, and then that person perhaps discovers he can be a Christian and be just like the world. He makes that choice, the evangelical church takes him in.  Welcomes him in.  And why is he there? It isn't the theology.  It is the cultural issue.  They know it.  They use it as a strategy.  They advertise their music all the time.  They constantly talk about their no dress standard.  It is essential for them.

Usually when I hear the evangelical reasoning behind their cultural positions, it is either perverted or just superficial.  Many times it is pragmatic.  They have got a lot of mileage out of "first in importance," taking that from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.  They say that they are diminishing these cultural issues to make the gospel of first importance.

I am saying that cultural issues are essential for evangelicals.  Why do I say that?  They must, must be loose and leftist culturally.  Must.  It is a must.  They must, not because of anything the Bible teaches, but because that is essential for their success.  Even the Calvinists, who trumpet their own theology, and their own dependence on dense theological thinking and heavy-duty, on the ground they are actually pragmatists.  They want to keep teaching their Calvinism or reformed theology to people who won't come if the dress isn't casual and the music isn't trendy or contemporary in style. Their churches must entertain quite a bit too with their activities.  They have to have those trappings.

What I'm talking about is about as obvious as anything to the world, that this is the way evangelicals operate.  Marketing is essential to evangelicals.  Rick Warren in his purpose driven church book said that musical style choice was the single most important point to the success of a new church.  You have to get the musical style choice right or you won't succeed.  Not everyone is as blatant as that, because they won't say it, but I don't know of any evangelical (I'm not saying there are none -- I just don't know of any) that would not be this in at least a basic way.  It is important to them not to stop a particular musical style or casual dress, but to be open about this -- this is what is essential to them.  Evangelicals will fight for this, um, "non-essential."

I've noticed that how evangelical Presbyterians oft times deal with this is by separating personal musical choices from what is used in their churches.  For instance, I know that evangelical leaders like Carl Trueman and Douglas Wilson both believe that there are limitations for corporate worship, going to something far more traditional and conservative, while having their own play list to be Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan and the like.  I'm sure some semblance of the regulative principle holds them back.

Evangelicals say, the gospel, the gospel, the gospel, the gospel.  Alright, test.  If the gospel is what it is, what really matters, then let's just have Sunday best in the dress, suits and ties and modest dresses, and then very reverent, sacred, classical, conservative organ and piano.  Your churches will stay the same, since it is the gospel, right?  Nothing would change, because you're not dependent on those things, because it is only the gospel.  Great, huh?

And I'm talking about just the services.  We could go further with the mixed swimming activities and their own entertainment habits at the movie theater and rock concerts.  And a lot of social drinking of alcohol in their midst as well.  All that could be cut out, and it would not effect one iota the size of their churches, because these things are non-essential?  No way.  Their churches are built on allowing all of these things that people want to do in the world, to fit into the world.  These are essential for evangelical churches to keep the size they are.  And that is all heading further and further left and loose, what we would call worldlier.

Certain conservatives are trying to stop the slide culturally, but it is tough when they have not been making theological arguments.  It's very tough when they have been the ones defending, defending, defending cultural agnosticism.  Very tough.  The ones trying to hold back the decadent slide toward the precipice won't be able to do it, because they've been a part of it.  It won't work.  It will get worse.  They will have to admit they were wrong.  The Bible isn't silent about these things. They will have to get off their non-essential track.  I'm not holding my breath for this, because I'm not hearing it.  I hear continued digging in on that old emphasis, but at the same time trying to stop it a little in the areas they are most concerned.

They have some interesting pragmatic ways of keeping out the undesirable culturally.  As this comes to me very quickly, the first one that I think is the unity of the church argument.  Unity must be an essential, so they pick a music style that will allow for unity.  This is the doctrine of unity---voting for the favorite music style you like or want to hear the most.  They can't say they know what God wants to hear.  They can't say that there is possibly a music style that will not carry theological truth, because it is too irreverent.  But all this is because the license here is an essential to evangelicals, more than anything.  I contend it is more essential than the gospel.

Here is one that is tell-tale that I mentioned in my last aside in the last post.  The Strange Fire Conference says that the music is the entrance to Charismaticism.  It isn't a doctrinal entrance, but a musical one.  Growth of Charismaticism is most attributed to music.   Several said that and no one disagreed.  No one pushed back with "ahem, that's a non-essential."  Heads nodding.  Is anyone going to do anything about that?  What will be done to stop this horrible thing?  What?  Nothing will be done to stop strange fire from growing.  They won't.  They can't.  It would disrupt an essential.  If it wasn't essential, then wouldn't they do something about the chief cause of strange fire?

Some evangelicals won't admit that their churches are larger because of all the liberty they allow on these cultural issues.  Others will push these.  They will say this is how to get it done.  At least those who say it is the way, like Rick Warren, are being up front and honest about it.  The Conservatives give you the faux appearance that it is just because of their theology and their preaching, not because they won't say no to almost anything culturally.  They can't.  It's an essential.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ferguson and Changing Social Structure or Infrastructure

At the beginning of my last post, I ticked off a few future posts I want to do.  I failed to mention another one I'll be doing, Lord-willing.  The Sword of the Lord sends me its publication and in the last issue, they wrote a horrible piece, entitled, Renouncing Lordship Salvation.  I'll write a critique of that upcoming.


I'm not going to comment on who is guilty, whether Michael Brown or Darren Wilson, in Ferguson. What piqued me during this event has been the consideration of whether evangelicalism needs involvement in changing social structure or infrastructure for successful integration of blacks into their congregations.  Put another way and in the form of a question, will evangelical white leaders fail at reaching blacks with the gospel if they don't work in a very public way at making society more fair for black people?  A few ideas sent my thoughts in this direction.

From my vantage point, the most well known black conservative evangelical is Thabiti Anyabwile, and I read what he wrote about the Ferguson situation (here 1, here 2, here 3, here 4).   By the way, I don't think people understand the plight of black America without knowing the division at the turn of the 20th century between Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Dubois.  This would require reading Washington's book, Up From Slavery, but even further over twenty years ago I scoured the writings or works of Washington in print that included all of his Sunday evening talks (example) at Tuskegee.  It would also be worthwhile to read the theology of Martin Luther King, Jr. in his writings and the black liberation theologian, James Cone.  I have read all those out of a curiosity and desire to interpret and discuss the issues rightly.

African Americans made a plain choice to follow the path or ways or instruction of W. E. B. Dubois related to Washington dying at a young age without a successor.  A convenient, albeit unsuccessful, "solution" was chosen, which was to rely on government. Since then, the same mistake has been repeated again and again, reminding me of the adage about insanity:  "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  Old Testament principles about government could be applied successfully, if followed, but those are being rejected for something less sure than a full court heave.

In addition, I had preached in the last few months for five or six weeks mid-week about marriage, including 1 Peter 3 and 1 Corinthians 7, which reminded me of the New Testament approach to societal structures.  If God was amillennial or post-millennial, could Peter or Paul each talk like he does in those epistles?  No way.  Christianity is not designed to change social structure.   I would say that New Testament, biblical, Christianity is ambivalent or agnostic to social structure, and even further than that.  The New Testament takes a more extreme view than even ambivalence.

Calvinist amillennialists or post-millenialists interest me, because of what appears to be an obvious contradiction.  If you think that salvation is totally dependent on God, you're monergistic, how can you connect changing societal structures to reaching a particular segment of the population with the gospel?  And this is where the Calvinist evangelicals are.  They employ rap.  They start food pantries.  They encourage dressing down.  They talk a lot about racial reconciliation.  And contextualization.  This includes the Tim Keller way in New York City with his professorial talks, evening jazz "worship," and no mention of same sex perversion, all key in getting it done there. They speak and act like all these are necessities to help the gospel along.  Be Calvinist if you're Calvinist!

Amillennialists and post-millennialists see the current age as the kingdom of God and so recognize the reign of Christ not just in the hearts of believers today, but impacting societal structure change. They brainstorm the dawn of the kingdom (which relates to Augustine and bifurcation of truth that I wrote about), allowing for mission creep.  It's now not just about the gospel, but commencing functional structures of the kingdom. Amillennialism and post-millennialism trigger the weird cousin of liberation theology, dominionism or reconstructionism.

I believe the position of Anyabwile and those like him in fact hinders the gospel.  Often the same Calvinists who argue that cultural issues, i.e. "non-essentials," which are merely obedience to the Bible or sanctification, the practice of New Testament Christianity, serve to undermine the gospel, hone in on this cultural issue.  They essentially argue that the gospel will fail without the accompanying support of societal structure change.  This is more than a strain of evangelicalism.  It is mainstream.  It does sabotage the gospel, akin to the new measures of Finney.

1 Peter 3, the whole epistle, and then 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 both weigh in on the relationship of Christians to social structures.  In 1 Peter 3, Peter could tell masters to sell their slaves or propose they run.  Paul could have done the same with Philemon.   But no, to those under oppressive government, he says, "Submit."  To slaves under masters, he says, "Submit."  To women under unsaved husbands, he says, "Be subject."  He elevates conversion of those in government, of the master, and of the husband.  Peter says, we're strangers and pilgrims in this world, and this is how you act like it.  You don't attempt to change social structure, because that just confuses people as to where your loyalties lie.

From 1 Corinthians 7, we see Paul's message that Christianity was never designed to disrupt social relationships.  Folks at the Corinthian church used their Christianity to justify all manner of social change.  Paul corrects that.  The essence of vv. 17-24 is don't turn Christianity into changing social structure; instead, make sure that everybody understands that spiritual regeneration can exist in any societal situation.  The Bible reveals a right understanding of government and of history, but the New Testament is single in its focus of what Christians should be and do.

We can die a thousand different ways, including that brain eating amoeba in shallow warm fresh water, which most often kills young children.  But Paul had a desire to depart.  Jesus took away the sting of death.  Everyone -- blacks, whites, reds, yellows -- needs to heed what Jesus said: "Be not afraid."  Fear God, yes.  But unscriptural fear fuels bad decisions and then philosophies for so many people.  Anyabwile validates a particular behavior motivated by fear.  When someone trusts the sovereignty and providence of God, like Jeremiah in Lamentations, the mercies of God are new every morning, great is His faithfulness.  That's the message people need to hear.  Not anxiety.

The gospel defeats fear.  Fear of death is a tool of Satan.  And the fear of man brings a snare, one common for evangelicals.  It should be repudiated, but there is a fear of the charge of racism.

Changing social structure merely rearranges the deck chairs on the Titanic.  You might have the best arrangement, but it's a waste.  Instead, we should be manning the rescue boats.  We're strangers here.  When Jesus comes, He Himself will change the social structure.  Until then, that practice might seem tempting, but don't go there.   Instead, let's act like we don't belong here.


As an aside.

For the most part, America rejects, shall we call it, the Honey Boo-Boo subculture, whose appeal is not acceptance, but felt superiority.  The culture at large (white culture?) scorns that subculture, mocks it, deservedly so.  Booker T. Washington also proposed the repudiation of the inferior -- you read that in his 'Sunday evening talks' at Tuskegee.

In this case, black America should join in the disavowal of its own Honey Boo-Boo, rather than embrace and defend.  Evangelicals should stop pandering to this destructive practice with their Christian rap and hip-hop and Jesus Junk and so much more other "Christian" Honey Boo-Boo (this is how they say you get multi-ethnic; not the gospel).   Think of what Peter revealed about conversion in 2 Peter 1:3-4:

[H]is divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:  hereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Salvation elevates us.  We become partakers of the divine nature.  Jesus came to bring us to Him not lower Himself to our level.  He became a man, yes, but a perfect man.  He has called us to glory and virtue, not the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Booker T. Washington said "build a better brick."  Build a more beautiful brick.  But first admit the ugliness.  Turn it down.  Shun the Honey Boo-Boo.


A further aside.

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  Yes.  Buuuuuuuuuut.  Your church might shrink from a lack of diverse worship styles.  Those styles are not the power of God unto salvation, just the power unto shrinking your church size.  Of course, those are genuinely saved people that are leaving, that you could keep with worship styles.  The gospel has saved them, but they've got to have their way on a few things, and you've got to make sure they can have it.  There is nothing wrong with what they don't like, but they've got to have what they want as saved people by the power of the gospel.

Worship styles are said to be non-essentials (worship styles are the kind of non-essentials you need a 75% rule for).  This is the one area that Paul didn't know there could be disunity (1 Cor 1:10).  It is essential that they are non-essential.  You could lose people if you don't have diverse non-essential styles.  It is essential you try to keep those saved people in your church, who will leave over those non-essentials.  The power of the worship style is greater than the power of the gospel.   Salvation perseveres except in the impossible-to-overcome trial of not getting the worship style you want.  They themselves say that worship styles are non-essential, which is why they'll leave if they don't get what they want.  On the other hand, the people who believe there is sacred music, who don't think styles are non-essential, since they are worship, it is essential they see worship styles as non-essential.  They are factious if they will not allow for multiple, diverse styles, because they don't care if supporters of diversity will leave the church.  They must see worship styles as non-essential

The 47% need government programs and hand-outs to stay in one party, so there will be programs that redistribute wealth and there will be hand-outs.  You can be very upset at that, because of what it does to the country.  A large percentage of church attenders need their worship style to keep coming, to stay in the church, so there will be diverse worship styles.  The former is pandering, because that is government, but the second you've got to act like it isn't, because that is only church.

When I recently watched a chunk of the Strange Fire Conference, a couple of speakers said that the entrance to the Charismatic movement was the music style.  That received "Amen"s.  But worship styles are non-essential.  They are only an entrance to the Charismatic movement, even though they are amoral.  Get it?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Reverence and Solemnity: Essential Aspects of Biblical Worship, part 2 of 8

            The New Testament renders three different Greek words with forms of reverence.  The Gospels indicate that the Son of God must receive “reverence” (Matt 21:37; Mr 12:6; Lu 20:13), and Hebrews 12:9 indicates that if human fathers deserve “reverence,” God the Father is so much the more worthy of reverent submission.  The word employed in these verses[1] means “to cause to turn (in shame), to shame” or “to show deference to a person in recognition of special status, turn toward something [or] someone, have regard for, respect.”[2]  It is to “give heed or regard to, respect, reverence,”[3] “to show respect to a person on the basis of his high status.”[4]  Elsewhere in the New Testament the verb is employed of showing “regard” for and connected with “fearing” (Lu 18:2, 4), is rendered “shame” (1 Cor 4:14) or “ashamed” (2 Thess 3:14; Tit 2:8).  The related noun is rendered “shame” (1 Cor 6:5; 15:34), and means “the state of being ashamed, shame, humiliation” or “deference to a person in recognition of special status, respect, regard,”[5] that is, “respect, reverence.”[6]  The word indicates “a state of embarrassment resulting from what one has done or failed to do,” focusing “upon the embarrassment which is involved in the feeling of shame”[7] and which is associated with a “change of conduct, that return of a man upon himself, which a wholesome shame brings with it in him who is its subject” (Trench).  The Father and the Son are shown reverence when believers, conscious of and ashamed of their sin, approach God with deference, deep humility, abased subjection, and profound respect, recognizing that this One with whom they have to do is the omniscient and infinitely holy King.  Such reverence is not optional—those who show God reverence live (Heb 12:9)—those who do not die.
            Hebrews 12:28-29 indicates that God must be served or worshipped[8] with “acceptably with reverence and godly fear:  for our God is a consuming fire.”  The only other text in the New Testament with this word for reverence[9] translates the word as “shamefacedness” (1 Tim 2:9).  This word for reverence signifies “modesty, with . . . resulting respect.”[10]  It is man’s “attitude in face of . . . the awful, wherever and however manifested. It is dread . . . of the violation of the [standard]. Its opposite is hubris. It is thus ‘reverence’ before God . . . respect for the one visited by the [grace] of God.”[11]  Hebrews 12 associates reverence with “godly fear.”[12]  One can compare Ephesians 5:33, where “reverence” is the standard New Testament verb for “fear,”[13] signifying “to have a profound measure of respect for, (have) reverence, respect, with special reference to fear of offending.”[14]  The “godly fear” of Hebrews 12:28 is employed of the prayers of Christ in Hebrews 5:7, where the Father accepted the Lord Jesus’ prayer “in that he feared.”  The noun is related to the adjective meaning God-fearing, devout, reverent, or pious[15] found in Luke 2:25 and Acts 2:5; 8:2.  “Godly fear” involves “that mingled fear and love which together constitute the piety of man toward God”;  the devout man:
[Is] accurately and scrupulously performing that which is prescribed with the consciousness of the danger of slipping into a careless negligent performance of God’s service, and of the need therefore of anxiously watching against the adding to or diminishing from or in any other way altering, that which has been by Him commanded[.] . . . [T]he [one with “godly fear” is the] anxious and scrupulous worshipper, who makes a conscience of changing anything, of omitting anything, being above all things fearful to offend [God].[16]
Noah had such piety when he was “moved with fear”[17] to build the ark (Heb 11:7), acting out of anxious “concer[n] [and] reverent regard.”[18]  Such reverence and godly fear are necessary if believers are to “serve” or worship God “acceptably”[19] (Heb 12:28), that is, in a way that is “wellpleasing” and thus “acceptable” to Him (Rom 12:1–2; 14:18; 2 Cor 5:9; Eph 5:10; Phil 4:18; Col 3:20; Titus 2:9; Heb 13:21).[20]  Reverence and godly fear are the necessary attitude for acceptance before a God who is a “consuming fire” (Heb 12:29).

This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]           e˙ntre÷pw.  It appears in the NT in:  Matt 21:37; Mark 12:6; Luke 18:2, 4; 20:13; 1 Cor 4:14; 2 Th 3:14; Titus 2:8; Heb 12:9.  The related noun e˙ntroph/ appears in 1 Cor 6:5; 15:34.
[2]           BDAG.
[3]           Greek-English Lexicon, 9th ed., G. H. Liddell & R. Scott.  New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996 (LSJ).
[4]           Louw-Nida.
[5]           BDAG.
[6]           Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Henry Thayer.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1978 (reprint ed.) (Thayer).
[7]           Louw-Nida.
[8]           latreu/w.
[9]           ai˙dw¿ß.
[10]         Louw-Nida.
[11]         Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Kittel, Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, & Gerhard Friedrich, eds.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 1964– (TDNT).
[12]         eujla¿beia, found only in Hebrews 5:7; 12:28.
[13]         fobe÷w.
[14]         BDAG.
[15]         eujlabh/ß.  See BDAG, LSJ.
[16]         Synonyms of the New Testament, Richard Chenevix Trench.  London: Macmillan and Co., 1880 (Trench).
[17]         eujlabe÷omai.  The word is found elsewhere in the NT only in Acts 23:10.
[18]         BDAG.
[19]         eujare÷stwß.
[20]         See BDAG on the related adjective euja¿restoß, the references to which are listed above.  In Hebrews 12:28 eujare÷stwß is a hapax legomenon.  Note also the verb eujareste÷w, found in Heb 11:5-6; 13:16.