Tuesday, April 30, 2013


This thought occurred as I was out jogging, but because I had read here and here.  I'm channeling evangelicals and fundamentalists on this.  This is part one.


What's wrong with Victoria's Secret™ models?  Nothing.  That's right -- nothing.  Why?  Here are several reasons:

  1. The only reason you could think it was wrong is if you are fatter and uglier than they are, and you're just jealous.  Get over it.
  2. The only other reason you could think it was wrong is if your wife or girlfriend are fatter and uglier than they are, and you're just jealous.  By the way, that's obvious.
  3. They've made it.  They're successful.  They've had to be successful to become a Victoria's Secret™ model, and you're jealous of they're success.  That's easy to see.
  4. The Bible doesn't say it's wrong to be a Victoria's Secret™ model, and so if you judge it to be wrong, you're adding to scripture like a Pharisee.  You are "above that which is written," because the words "Victoria's Secret™ model" do not appear in the Bible.  And for good measure, you are making the traditions of men into the commandments of God.
  5. You are straining at a gnat by criticizing Victoria's Secret™ models, and that's why there's nothing wrong.
  6. You are ignoring the weightier things of the law by bringing up Victoria's Secret™ models, and that's why there's nothing wrong.
  7. You are minimizing the gospel by criticizing Victoria's Secret™ models, and that's why there's nothing wrong.
  8. The Bible doesn't tell us how long clothes should be, what should be covered, and there are not any pictures.
  9. God looks on the heart, not the outward appearance.
  10. Immodesty is an inward problem and not an outward problem, anyway.
  11. If you say Victoria's Secret™ models are wrong, you are trying to cleanse the outside of the cup, like a Pharisee again.
  12. People who think immodesty is an outward problem are moralists.
  13. You can't judge Victoria's Secret™ models to be unsaved, because salvation is by grace through faith and not by works.
  14. Beyond total nudity, the Bible doesn't have any rules of modesty, so if you say Victoria's Secret™ models are wrong, then you are adding rules like the Pharisees did with Sabbath violations.
  15. Saying Victoria's Secret™ models are wrong is living according to culture and not according to the Bible, so you're putting culture ahead of theology.

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Biblical Take on RAM

When I say RAM, I'm not talking about random-access memory, but about what is called Religious Affections Ministries, which is essentially Scott Aniol, with some help from a few like-minded men he has recruited to help with blog posts.  Scott has written at least two books on the subject of worship, and one of them is required reading in a class I have taught.  Recently online a RAM truckload of criticism has been dumped on RAM (so far here and here), which RAM has answered (so far here and here).  There are a lot of background occurrences that have stirred this recent flurry of conflict, so I'm going to weigh in on everything, because I have some analysis that could be helpful, I believe (after I started writing this, I noticed that Aaron Blumer has provided a pretty good background for the conflict here).

What's Good About RAM

The Lord created us for (Rev 4:11; Is 43:6-7) and then saved us for worship (John 4:23-24).   If we're not actually worshiping, then we're missing the point.  Most do miss that point today.  RAM has some of the best written arguments for traditional or conservative corporate worship.  The RAM guys are good on this (recently the writings of David De Bruyn).  You would do well to read much of what they write.  They are not the only ones that are thinking about it (see here, here, here, and here, for instance), but here is a center that is almost entirely dedicated to that one thing, so it is a go-to place for it.  RAM has added to my thinking about worship, myself already having written a book on music and worship in 1996 (still available).   I agree with a good portion of RAM writings on music and worship, and they do give some well-thought-through talking points in the debate, sometimes called worship wars.

What I have written here about RAM is almost exclusively the good that you will get out of it.  That is a lot of good, as I see it, because it can help you get your head screwed on straight about worship.  What you'll also find, if you read them, is that they are extremely civil, too much so in my opinion.  They are very, very nice about it.  They likely believe in being this way, but they also know who they're dealing with.  People are really, really not going to like what they say in the environment in which we live.  What I've found in the short time RAM has existed is that people generally don't interact with them about their point of view.  Maybe they read them silently without comment, but it seems like Scott Aniol and RAM get ignored by most.  People don't care and it doesn't matter.  They are viewed in a very marginal way by most.  Now they are getting attacked and they are also receiving more attention as a result, which I believe is good overall.

I'm usually a big defender of RAM, almost everywhere, despite their zero defense of me, because I believe in what they are writing.  They are usually getting attacked for something I believe is right and correct, so I have defended them and will likely continue to do so.  I haven't read one good argument against what they say.  None.  Those opposing their point of view are spiritually, intellectually, biblically, and any other possible good way inferior to what they say.

What's Bad About RAM

As you read what I'm about to say bad about RAM, you might wonder how I could be in such agreement with them and yet think there is so much bad.  I'm going to write more bad about them than good, and I'm doing so for a hopeful future for the RAM people.  RAM and I have a very similar view of corporate worship, the worship of a church, but they generally look askance at me, because I use the King James Version and I'm not a Calvinist.  I also criticize people that Scott likes sometimes.  I don't criticize because I don't like them, but because I do.  I want them to change.  That itself is part of my religious affections ironically.  Edwards's book was a criticism.  From my observation, Scott Aniol far more likes associations with certain Charismatics and Southern Baptists and evangelicals, than he would with me, even though I've got far more in common with him on his primary topic.   And yet I still like RAM for what they have that's good.  We can take the teaching of Jesus in Mark 9:40 as it relates to what RAM teaches, that is, "For he that is not against us is on our part."

To start, RAM should be RA, because it isn't a ministry.   Biblical ministry, so all ministry, operates within a church and under the authority of a single church.  RAM is parachurch, so it can't be a ministry.  As a result, even though Scott writes so many good things, it will be worthless for him for eternity.  Like Old Testament worship couldn't operate separate from Israel, ministry in the New Testament fits only in the church.  It's all we see in the NT.   He operates without authority.  RAM is wood, hay, and stubble, because of that, because it is not building with biblical material.   It is another ox-cart with good intentions, I'm sad to say.  If it were just Scott Aniol's blog, I'd say something different, but it's his "ministry."  Service to God is acceptable to God when it is regulated by His Word.  RAM isn't.  It should stop calling itself a "ministry."  Even if Scott sees this way of operating as what's best, easiest for him to maneuver, and to accomplish what he wants, he's wrong.  It undermines his message in ways that I'll deal with later.  Scott, however, is likely just following his own ecclesiology in doing it the way he's doing it.  It's wrong.  Most in the RAM camp will likely just roll their eyes at this paragraph.  I say they do that at their own peril.  They ought to listen.

Now Scott Aniol has joined a Southern Baptist Church and is an elder there, while teaching at a Southern Baptist seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (I had already written about this here).   When I think about Scott's doing of this, I could see how he could justify it to himself.  The seminary is an academic setting, so it doesn't count as "fellowship."  It's academia.  It's a new fundamentalist argument regarding separation.  He has priorities for a church.  Calvinist.  Liturgical.  Conservative.  He's found that in his new church.  He subordinates the SBC cooperative program, the lack of separation, and even faulty eschatology to those priorities.  I'm guessing that if the church was Calvinist, Liturgical, Conservative, and King James Only, the latter would be a deal breaker.  It's how it works today.  Many people function like Scott is, which isn't an excuse.  There are churches around with a better hermeneutic and better separation, but I believe Scott is choosing where he thinks he can worship God the best, according to his view of the world.  How Scott is practicing should not offend most of his critics.  He's taking a fundamentalist and gospel-centered approach.  His church is right on the fundamentals and the gospel, so the other things don't matter so much as it relates to his understanding of unity.  That he's getting criticized by those as being inconsistent doesn't make any sense to me.

So then why do I think that being SBC is wrong?  Here's why.  SBC is rife with false worship and so Scott fellowships with it.  The cooperative program means he's in fellowship with it.  He's indifferent in his separation.  That dishonors and disrespects God in contradiction to Scott's stated philosophy.    When criticism points at Northland for its new worship philosophy, it blows up in Scott's face.  They can hardly criticize Northland when Scott has chosen to be some place else that is worse.

All the problems above stem mainly from a faulty ecclesiology.  They see the true church as all believers, even though that's not how it reads in the New Testament.  Because of that, they see a necessity of unity with all believers.  This means they rank doctrines and make their decisions of fellowship based upon their priorities.  The Bible doesn't teach this.  God is One and doesn't contradict Himself.  A biblical theology will be internally consistent.  It can be because the same God wrote it.  A universal church belief results in all the contradictions.  Some of the liturgy favorable to RAM looks Protestant and Catholic over on the formalistic side of professing Christianity.  I'm not against liturgy, intentional worship, planning for an excellent offering to God like a well-planned and then well-served meal.  I see too much Protestant and therefore Catholic influence on RAM that parallels with its ecclesiology.  If RAM can't or won't separate, it will never be able to preserve biblical worship.  It will be a short-lived mini-movement in a very small branch of fundamentalism.

RAM is selectively culturally conservative.  I've harped on this for years now.  If you are going to take a consistent world view, that starts with one God, and, therefore, one truth, goodness, and beauty, you will look at more than music.  I'm sure that the RAM guys are more conservative than most of fundamentalism all the way around on cultural issues, but they aren't in a few obvious ways.   Modern versions and gender neutral dress clash with their foundational world view.  It's not consistent.

One Bible with one set of Words is one truth.  That fits with one God.   This is the view of historic, conservative Christianity.   I see the RAM clash with this as a bow to modernity.  Designed gender distinctions in dress, the way biblical churches always practiced, relates to one goodness.  Goodness doesn't change.  If our culture had designed into its changes a new definition of male or female dress, I could understand a change, but it hasn't.  It has erased the distinction as a bow to modernity.  This is not conservative Christianity.  RAM does not practice a consistent world view.  This makes RAM less credible to me.  It's not a faithful, premodern practice.


Nevertheless, despite my criticisms, I want to reiterate the value of RAM.  The truths will edify you and lead you to more biblical thinking on worship.  There's very little online of which you can accept everything, but for the one emphasis at RAM, you will be helped greatly.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

“The just shall live by faith”— A Study of the Relationship of Faith to Salvation in its Justifying, Sanctifying, and Glorifying Fulness, part 10

The New Testament indicates that Abraham received life when he believed[i] God,[ii] for the just shall live by faith.[iii]  The verb believe is used[iv] of receiving revelation[v] and of the moment of saving belief in the gospel and in the Christ who is revealed therein, through which sinners become the people of God.[vi]  Such saving faith always leads to continuing faith[vii] in God through Christ by means of the Word, for when God gives the lost saving faith, He will continue to give them faith.[viii]  That is, by means of the exercise of saving faith in Christ at the moment of conversion and regeneration, the lost become those who are believers, those who are believing ones.[ix]  They believe at a point in time, with the result that they continue to believe.[x]  Their belief is not simply intellectual assent, but a whole-hearted committal, surrender, and entrusting of their entire persons to Christ as the Son of God and their own personal Savior,[xi] being assured that He will keep His promise to save all those who in this manner come to Him.[xii]  In contrast, the unconverted are in a state of unbelief[xiii] in Christ.[xiv]  While they can make superficially positive responses to Christ,[xv] they refuse to entrust themselves to Him[xvi] and believe the gospel[xvii] because they reject the testimony to Him of the Word.[xviii]

The adjective faithful/believing[xix] illustrates the Biblical continuity between the initial act of faith in conversion and the continued believing of the regenerate and the related identity of those who have believed in Christ and those who are faithful to Him.  God[xx] and Christ[xxi] are faithful, many individual Christians[xxii] and groups of Christians[xxiii] are specified as being faithful, and all those who believe[xxiv] are the faithful.[xxv]  While there are certainly degrees of faithfulness, and indwelling sin is present and ever active in the regenerate, nonetheless all Christians are specified as faithful, and no text indicates that any believer is unfaithful.[xxvi]  On the contrary, only those who are lost are specified by the adjective unfaithful or unbelieving.[xxvii]  The faithful are all those who have received spiritual grace, been adopted into God’s family, and consequently become church members, rather than only a subcategory of the church or a subclass of Christian.[xxviii]  The faithful are those who enter the everlasting kingdom rather than burning in hell,[xxix] and those who receive the crown of life and who will be with the Lamb rather than being separated from Him forever.[xxx]  Those who come to believe in Christ are made, by supernatural grace, into those who will continue to entrust themselves to Him.  God makes them into those who are characteristically faithful, rather than being unfaithful.

This post is part of the complete study here.


[i] pisteu/w.  The verb appears 248 times in the New Testament: Matthew 8:13; 9:28; 18:6; 21:22, 25, 32; 24:23, 26; 27:42; Mark 1:15; 5:36; 9:23–24, 42; 11:23–24, 31; 13:21; 15:32; 16:13–14, 16–17; Luke 1:20, 45; 8:12–13, 50; 16:11; 20:5; 22:67; 24:25; John 1:7, 12, 50; 2:11, 22–24; 3:12, 15–16, 18, 36; 4:21, 39, 41–42, 48, 50, 53; 5:24, 38, 44, 46–47; 6:29–30, 35–36, 40, 47, 64, 69; 7:5, 31, 38–39, 48; 8:24, 30–31, 45–46; 9:18, 35–36, 38; 10:25–26, 37–38, 42; 11:15, 25–27, 40, 42, 45, 48; 12:11, 36–39, 42, 44, 46–47; 13:19; 14:1, 10–12, 29; 16:9, 27, 30–31; 17:8, 20–21; 19:35; 20:8, 25, 29, 31; Acts 2:44; 4:4, 32; 5:14; 8:12–13, 37; 9:26, 42; 10:43; 11:17, 21; 13:12, 39, 41, 48; 14:1, 23; 15:5, 7, 11; 16:31, 34; 17:12, 34; 18:8, 27; 19:2, 4, 18; 21:20, 25; 22:19; 24:14; 26:27; 27:25; Romans 1:16; 3:2, 22; 4:3, 5, 11, 17–18, 24; 6:8; 9:33; 10:4, 9–11, 14, 16; 13:11; 14:2; 15:13; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 3:5; 9:17; 11:18; 13:7; 14:22; 15:2, 11; 2 Corinthians 4:13; Galatians 2:7, 16; 3:6, 22; Ephesians 1:13, 19; Philippians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2:4, 10, 13; 4:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:11–12; 1 Timothy 1:11, 16; 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 1:3; 3:8; Hebrews 4:3; 11:6; James 2:19, 23; 1 Peter 1:8, 21; 2:6–7; 1 John 3:23; 4:1, 16; 5:1, 5, 10, 13; Jude 5.

[ii] Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23.

[iii] Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38; pi÷stiß.  The noun appears 244 times in the New Testament: Matthew 8:10; 9:2, 22, 29; 15:28; 17:20; 21:21; 23:23; Mark 2:5; 4:40; 5:34; 10:52; 11:22; Luke 5:20; 7:9, 50; 8:25, 48; 17:5–6, 19; 18:8, 42; 22:32; Acts 3:16; 6:5, 7–8; 11:24; 13:8; 14:9, 22, 27; 15:9; 16:5; 17:31; 20:21; 24:24; 26:18; Romans 1:5, 8, 12, 17; 3:3, 22, 25–28, 30–31; 4:5, 9, 11–14, 16, 19–20; 5:1–2; 9:30, 32; 10:6, 8, 17; 11:20; 12:3, 6; 14:1, 22–23; 16:26; 1 Corinthians 2:5; 12:9; 13:2, 13; 15:14, 17; 16:13; 2 Corinthians 1:24; 4:13; 5:7; 8:7; 10:15; 13:5; Galatians 1:23; 2:16, 20; 3:2, 5, 7–9, 11–12, 14, 22–26; 5:5–6, 22; 6:10; Ephesians 1:15; 2:8; 3:12, 17; 4:5, 13; 6:16, 23; Philippians 1:25, 27; 2:17; 3:9; Colossians 1:4, 23; 2:5, 7, 12; 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 8; 3:2, 5–7, 10; 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:3–4, 11; 2:13; 3:2; 1 Timothy 1:2, 4–5, 14, 19; 2:7, 15; 3:9, 13; 4:1, 6, 12; 5:8, 12; 6:10–12, 21; 2 Timothy 1:5, 13; 2:18, 22; 3:8, 10, 15; 4:7; Titus 1:1, 4, 13; 2:2, 10; 3:15; Philemon 1:5–6; Hebrews 4:2; 6:1, 12; 10:22, 38–11:1; 11:3–9, 11, 13, 17, 20–24, 27–31, 33, 39; 12:2; 13:7; James 1:3, 6; 2:1, 5, 14, 17–18, 20, 22, 24, 26; 5:15; 1 Peter 1:5, 7, 9, 21; 5:9; 2 Peter 1:1, 5; 1 John 5:4; Jude 1:3, 20; Revelation 2:13, 19; 13:10; 14:12.
Note also the 67 uses of the adjective pisto/ß: Matthew 24:45; 25:21, 23; Luke 12:42; 16:10–12; 19:17; John 20:27; Acts 10:45; 13:34; 16:1, 15; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 4:2, 17; 7:25; 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:18; 6:15; Galatians 3:9; Ephesians 1:1; 6:21; Colossians 1:2, 7; 4:7, 9; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Timothy 1:12, 15; 3:1, 11; 4:3, 9–10, 12; 5:16; 6:2; 2 Timothy 2:2, 11, 13; Titus 1:6, 9; 3:8; Hebrews 2:17; 3:2, 5; 10:23; 11:11; 1 Peter 4:19; 5:12; 1 John 1:9; 3 John 1:5; Revelation 1:5; 2:10, 13; 3:14; 17:14; 19:11; 21:5; 22:6.
The words pisto/w (2 Timothy 3:4), aÓpiste÷w (Mark 16:11, 16; Luke 24:11, 41; Acts 28:24; Romans 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:13), aÓpisti÷a (Matthew 13:58; 17:20; Mark 6:6; 9:24; 16:14; Romans 3:3; 4:20; 11:20, 23; 1 Timothy 1:13; Hebrews 3:12, 19), a‡pistoß (Matthew 17:17; Mark 9:19; Luke 9:41; 12:46; John 20:27; Acts 26:8; 1 Corinthians 6:6; 7:12–15; 10:27; 14:22–24; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 6:14–15; 1 Timothy 5:8; Titus 1:15; Revelation 21:8) and ojligo/pistoß (Matthew 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; Luke 12:28) complete the word group in the New Testament.  Naturally, at different points the various words in the word group are placed together;  e. g., 1 Corinthians 14:22 contrasts toi√ß pisteu/ousin with toi√ß aÓpi÷stoiß.

[iv] The classification in the rest of this paragraph is not a comprehensive examination of all that is involved in every usage of pisteu/w in the New Testament.  It provides an overview of all uses as background for the uses of pisteu/w that relate to sanctification, the subject of the paragraphs that follow.  The classification of the uses of pi÷stiß follows the examination of the uses of pisteu/w.   

[v] The aorist of pisteu/w is employed for receipt of revelation about Christ that preceeds the aorist act of saving faith in John 4:21; 10:38; Acts 13:41; Romans 10:16 & Hebrews 11:6.  In John 4:21, Christ commands the woman at the well to believe (Gu/nai, pi÷steuso/n moi) in the Word of God that He is speaking and revealing, so that she might come to saving faith, for receiving the Word is necessary to come to saving faith in Christ (John 10:38), although the unbeliever can exercise a kind of faith in Divine revelation that falls short of saving faith (John 2:23-3:3; Acts 8:13; 26:27-28).

[vi] The aorist of pisteu/w is employed for the instantaneous transaction of justifying faith in Matthew 21:32 (publicans and harlots believe the gospel as preached by John the Baptist, while the chief priests and elders did not believe, nor feel remorse, in order that they might believe); Mark 16:15-17; Luke 8:12; John 1:7; 4:39-41; 4:53; 5:44; 6:29-30; 7:31, 48; 8:24, 30; 9:36; 10:38 (where aorist belief in Christ’s miracles, receipt of revelation about Christ, preceeds the aorist act of saving faith); 10:42; 11:42, 45; 12:38, 47; 17:8, 21; 19:35; 20:29, 31; Acts 4:4, 32; 8:12-13 (genuine conversion in most, spurious “faith” in Simon the sorceror); 9:42; 11:17, 21; 13:12, 48; 14:1; 15:7; 16:31; 17:12, 34; 18:8; 19:2 (what Paul assumes was a true conversion, although it was not one at this point); 19:4; Romans 10:9 (summary action for both belief and confession, although belief, unlike confession, must take place at the moment of regeneration); 10:14; 13:11; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 15:2, 11; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 1:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:12 (cf. v. 11-13); 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:3.

The future of pisteu/w likewise regularly represents the point of saving conversion, a fact supported in the contexts where belief as receiving the Word is under consideration (John 3:12; 5:47), where belief is shown to be entrusting (Luke 16:11), and, of course, where specifically saving belief is in view (John 11:48, cf. v. 42, 45 & 12:11; John 17:20; Romans 10:14).  In Matthew 27:42 (cf. the aorist subjunctive in Mark 15:32) the Jewish religious leaders make a mocking promise to believe if Christ rejects the way of the cross, while  one of the thieves crucified with Christ comes to saving faith in the crucified Christ (Luke 23:42), and after Christ’s death, because of His High Priestly intercession, the guard of Gentile soldiers watching Him are born again (Luke 23:34, 47; Matthew 27:54).

[vii] Thus, many of the aorists of pisteu/w in John express the initial action of saving faith, which leads to continuing faith.  For example, the aorist belief of John 4:39-42 leads to the present tense belief of 4:42;  the aorist belief of 8:30 leads to the faith expressed with a perfect participle in 8:31;  9:35-38 presents the sequence: “Are you a believer (present tense, pisteu/eiß)?” (9:35);  “Who do I need to believe (aorist, pisteu/sw) on?” (9:36);  “Me,” (9:37);  “I am a believer [having just become one]; Pisteu/w,” (9:38) and so I now recognize You as Lord and God, the One who deserves worship: Pisteu/w, Ku/rie: kai« proseku/nhsen.  Outside of John, comparisons are present such as the present participle in Acts 2:44 and the aorist participle in Acts 4:32, or the aorist imperative in Acts 16:31 and the perfect participle in 16:34, or the present and aorist in 10:43 and 11:17, or the interplay of tenses in Romans 10:9-14; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; cf. also the contrast in the aorist and present subjunctives in 1 John 3:23.
The handful of instances of the imperfect of pisteu/sw provide only limited further support for a durative character of saving faith.  In John 12:11, the imperfect is iterative and distributive, used of many coming to saving faith in Christ at different times because of the raising of Lazarus (cf. John 11:42, 45, 48). Acts 18:8 is another distributive use of the imperfect for many coming to conversion and being baptized.  John 7:5 & 12:37 speak of continuing unbelief in Christ, as does John 5:46.  John 5:46b does, however, provide some evidence for a durative character to saving faith—if those spoken of had been believing in Moses, they would have been believing in Christ (2nd class, present contrary-to-fact condition).  Finally, John 2:24 speaks of Christ not entrusting or commiting Himself to those who had not truly come to saving faith in Him (cf. 2:23-3:3).

[viii] Thus, note the present infinitive of believe in Philippians 2:13;  the people of God have faith in both its initial and continuing aspects given to them.  The other present infinitives of pisteu/w in the New Testament are durative;  see Luke 24:25; John 12:39; Romans 15:13; 1 Timothy 1:16 (not an exception because of the present tense of me÷llw—the verb appears 92 times in the present tense, 17 times in the imperfect, once in the future, and never in the aorist).

[ix] Thus, Scripture frequently employs a substantival present tense participle of pisteu/w to designate believers.  Note Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:42; John 1:12; 3:15, 16, 18, 36; 5:24; 6:35, 40, 47, 64; 7:38-39; 11:25-26; 12:44 (belief in the Son is belief in the Father also); 12:46; 14:12; Acts 2:44; 5:14 (believers added to the Lord’s church through baptism); 10:43; 13:39 (note the present tense of “justified”; compare the sense of Genesis 15:6;  all who have their confidence in Christ are currently justified through the sole instrumentality of faith, a condition that began at the moment of conversion); 22:19; Romans 1:16; 3:22; 4:5, 11, 24; 9:33; 10:4; 10:11; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 14:22; Galatians 3:22; Ephesians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2:10, 13; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Peter 1:21; 2:6, 7; 1 John 5:1, 5, 10, 13.

It is worthy of note that all believers, not a subcategory of believers who have entered a Higher Life, are designated with the substantival present participle of pisteu/w;  no text in the Bible indicates that only some believers are specified with the substantival present participle of believe, or contrasts some believers that are within this category with other believers who are allegedly not so, while the category of being one who is believing is entered into at the moment of saving faith (cf. John 9:38 & many other texts), not at some later point.

The present indicative of pisteu/w in relation to conversion provides further evidence that the people of God are those who are believing in Christ’s Person, work, and Word.  Note John 1:50; 8:45-46; 9:35, 38; 12:44; 14:10 (a question with ouj expects a positive answer); Acts 8:37; 27:25; Romans 10:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:14.  Note also the present adverbial participle in 1 Peter 1:8 and the present imperatives in Mark 1:15 & John 12:36, indicating that the response to the gospel is not initial belief alone, but also continuing faith.  The use of the present tense of in matters other than conversion also supports a durative idea;  see Acts 9:26; 15:11; 24:14; 26:27; Romans 6:8; 14:2; 1 Corinthians 11:18; 13:7; 1 John 4:1.

[x] The aspect of the Greek perfect of pisteu/w encapsulates the combination of the point of conversion and the continuing faith in the regenerate;  see John 3:18; 6:69; 8:31; 11:27; 16:27; 20:29; Acts 15:5; 16:34; 18:27; 19:18; 21:20, 25; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 3:8; 1 John 4:16; 5:10.  The two instances where pisteu/w in the perfect is not used for personal conversion (1 Corinthians 9:17; Galatians 2:17) also both illustrate the aspect of the perfect as a portrayal of point action with continuing results.

[xi] The idea of committal or entrustment in pisteu/w is exemplified in Luke 16:11 (committing or entrusting true riches to a person); John 2:24 (Christ’s not committing Himself to the unregenerate); Romans 3:2 (the Word of God being entrusted or commited to Israel); 1 Corinthians 9:17; Galatians 2:7; 1 Timothy 1:11; Titus 1:3 (an administration of the gospel being committed or entrusted to Paul, or (1 Thessalonians 2:4) to Paul and his associates.

[xii] The element of assurance in pisteu/w is validated in all the texts where the idea of trusting or entrusting is prominent;  cf. Luke 16:11; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 Timothy 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:12.  Compare 2 Timothy 3:14’s use of pisto/w, “to be sure about something because of its reliability, feel confidence, be convinced” (BDAG), for “the things which thou . . . hast been assured of,” and also the important pei÷qw word group.

[xiii] Compare the uses of aÓpiste÷w, used in the New Testament only for disbelief in the resurrection of Christ (Mark 16:11; Luke 24:11, 41) and for those who do not believe and are consequently are eternally damned (Mark 16:16; Acts 28:24; Romans 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:13 (cf. 2:13 with 2:12b)).

[xiv] John 6:36, 64; 10:25-26, 37-38; 16:9 (present tense); 7:5 (imperfect); 1 John 5:10 (present participle and perfect tense verb)

[xv] That is, they can have a temporary belief without possessing a root in themselves (Luke 8:13), a belief that the Lord Jesus is from God and a doer of miracles without genuine saving faith and the new birth (John 2:23-3:3; Acts 8:13-24), a belief that does not displace a predominant love of self, so that one is unwilling to confess Christ and endure religious persecution (John 12:42-43), and a belief that Christ speaks the truth (John 4:50) or that is an assent to doctrinal orthodoxy (James 2:19).  Scripture never uses the perfect tense of pisteu/w for the “faith” of the unconverted, and John never uses the present tense in such a manner, either.  The use of the present tense in Luke 8:13 is specifically limited in context (oi≠ pro\ß kairo\n pisteu/ousi), and the character of the belief as mere assent is also very clear in the context of James 2:19.  The testimony of Scripture is clear that saints exercise saving faith at a particular moment in time, and that their belief then continues, while the ungodly neither exercise saving faith nor have a persevereing faith.

[xvi] In Jude 5, those spoken of are eternally destroyed because they are those who never come to faith (tou\ß mh\ pisteu/santaß, aorist participle).  In John 3:18, the one in a state of unbelief (oJ . . . mh\ pisteu/wn, contrasted with oJ pisteu/wn ei˙ß aujto\n) is already condemned (h¡dh ke÷kritai) because he has never come to place his faith in the Son of God (o¢ti mh\ pepi÷steuken ei˙ß to\ o¡noma touv monogenouvß ui˚ouv touv Qeouv).

[xvii] Mark 16:15-17.

[xviii] Believing in a person and believing his message are closely related (Luke 22:67; John 10:25-26;  Matthew 21:25, 32; Mark 11:31; Luke 20:5;  all these texts are aorists).  The Jews do not have God’s Word abiding (to\n lo/gon . . . oujk e¶cete me÷nonta) in them, because they do not believe (ouj pisteu/ete) in Christ (John 5:38).  They should believe the testimony involved in Christ’s works (toi√ß e¶rgoiß pisteu/sate) in order that they might come to faith (iºna . . . pisteu/shte) in Christ as the Divine Messiah (John 10:25-26, 37-38).  In John 5:44-47, the unconverted Jews were not able to come to faith in Christ (du/nasqe . . . pisteuvsai) because they were seeking honor of each other and not seeking the honor that comes from God alone (do/xan para» aÓllh/lwn lamba¿nonteß, kai« th\n do/xan th\n para» touv monou Qeouv ouj zhtei√te) and because, although they trusted in (hjlpi÷kate) Moses, they were actually in a state of unbelief in the Word written by Moses, and so were unable to believe in Christ or His Word (ei˙ ga»r e˙pisteu/ete MwshØv, e˙pisteu/ete a·n e˙moi÷: peri« ga»r e˙mouv e˙kei√noß e¶grayen. ei˙ de« toi√ß e˙kei÷nou gra¿mmasin ouj pisteu/ete, pw◊ß toi√ß e˙moi√ß rJh/masi pisteu/sete).  Furthermore, remaining in unbelief concerning earthly things testified to by Christ (John 3:12a, present tense) prevents one from believing in heavenly things He speaks of (John 3:12b, future tense; cf. the example of unbelief (in the aorist) in Christ’s miraculous healing of the man born blind, John 9:18).  Apart from signs and wonders the Jews would by no means believe (∆Ea»n mh\ shmei√a kai« te÷rata i¶dhte, ouj mh\ pisteu/shte, John 4:48, cf. 20:29), but even after Christ did vast numbers of miracles, they could not believe because of their hardened hearts and blinded eyes (John 12:38-39).  Because the unconverted refuse to believe the Word, they will believe a Satanic lie (pisteuvsai . . . twˆ◊ yeu/dei) when it is set before them and be damned because they did not believe the truth (oi˚ mh\ pisteu/santeß thØv aÓlhqei÷a, 2 Thessalonians 2:11-13; contrasted with aÓdelfoi hjgaphme÷noi uJpo\ Kuri÷ou who have pi÷stei aÓlhqei÷aß).

[xix] pisto/ß.  The translational difference between faithful and believing is a product of the adjective presenting the passive or active ideas of pisteu/w; pisto/ß is either “1. pertaining to being worthy of belief or trust, trustworthy, faithful, dependable, inspiring trust/faith, pass. aspect of pisteu/w” or “2. pert. to being trusting, trusting, cherishing faith/trust act. aspect of pisteu/w” (BDAG).  The large majority of the time in the New Testament pisto/ß refers specifically to faithfulness;  it is translated faithful 53 times, and believe or believing only 8 times out of its 67 appearances.  All the references where is predicated of non-animate objects necessarily refer to faithfulness, as only animated beings can actively believe;  hence deeds can be faithful (3 John 5, “a faithful thing thou doest,” pisto\n poiei√ß), the mercies of David are “sure” or faithful (Acts 13:44), Scripture is faithful (Titus 1:9), and various sayings, in particular the words of God (Revelation 21:5; 22:6), are true and faithful (1 Timothy 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11; Titus 3:8).  The complete list of references is: Matthew 24:45; 25:21, 23; Luke 12:42; 16:10–12; 19:17; John 20:27; Acts 10:45; 13:34; 16:1, 15; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 4:2, 17; 7:25; 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:18; 6:15; Galatians 3:9; Ephesians 1:1; 6:21; Colossians 1:2, 7; 4:7, 9; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Timothy 1:12, 15; 3:1, 11; 4:3, 9–10, 12; 5:16; 6:2; 2 Timothy 2:2, 11, 13; Titus 1:6, 9; 3:8; Hebrews 2:17; 3:2, 5; 10:23; 11:11; 1 Peter 4:19; 5:12; 1 John 1:9; 3 John 5; Revelation 1:5; 2:10, 13; 3:14; 17:14; 19:11; 21:5; 22:6.

[xx] 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 10:23; 11:11; 1 Peter 4:19; 1 John 1:9.
Lightfoot points out the close connection between believing and faithfulness in the idea of pisto/ß and its Hebrew and English cognates:
The Hebrew hÎn…wmTa, the Greek pi÷stiß, the Latin ‘fides,’ and the English ‘faith,’ hover between two meanings; trustfulness, the frame of mind which relies on another; and trustworthiness, the frame of mind which can be relied upon. Not only are the two connected together grammatically, as active and passive senses of the same word, or logically, as subject and object of the same act; but there is a close moral affinity between them. Fidelity, constancy, firmness, confidence, reliance, trust, belief—these are the links which connect the two extremes, the passive with the active meaning of ‘faith.’ Owing to these combined causes, the two senses will at times be so blended together that they can only be separated by some arbitrary distinction. When the members of the Christian brotherhood, for instance, are called ‘the faithful,’ oi˚ pistoi÷, what is meant by this? Does it imply their constancy, their trustworthiness, or their faith, their belief? In all such cases it is better to accept the latitude, and even the vagueness, of a word or phrase, than to attempt a rigid definition, which after all can be only artificial. And indeed the loss in grammatical precision is often more than compensated by the gain in theological depth. In the case of ‘the faithful’ for instance, does not the one quality of heart carry the other with it, so that they who are trustful are trusty also; they who have faith in God are stedfast and immovable in the path of duty? (Lightfoot, Commentary on Galatians, sec. “The Words Denoting ‘Faith’”)

[xxi] Christ is a faithful High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 3:2; cf. 3:5, Moses’ faithfulness as a type of Christ), and a faithful witness, (Revelation 1:5; 3:14; 19:11).  Christ’s faithfulness in Revelation is set forth as a pattern for the believer’s faithfulness.  Christ was a faithful witness unto death, and Christians must likewise be faithful unto death (Revelation 1:5; 2:10, 13; 3:14; 17:14; 19:11).

[xxii] Moses as a type of the faithful Christ (Hebrews 3:5);  Paul (1 Corinthians 7:25; 1 Timothy 1:12);  Timothy (1 Corinthians 4:17); Tychicus (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7);  Epaphras (Colossians 1:7); Onesimus (Colossians 4:9);  Silvanus (1 Peter 5:12);  Antipas (Revelation 2:13) & Abraham (Galatians 3:9).  The use of pi÷stoß for Abraham illustrates the continuity between those who are believing and those who are faithful;  Abraham is the father and the pattern of the people of God, for he was faithful/believing and so are they.  Similarly, those who love Christ—as all do who will be saved (John 8:42; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Ephesians 6:24)—are the faithful/believing who receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10; James 1:12).

[xxiii] Paul and his coworkers (1 Corinthians 4:2);  the wives of deacons (1 Timothy 3:11);  the children of qualified overseers (Titus 1:6);  & male church members with the ability to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2;  “faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also,” pistoi√ß aÓnqrw¿poiß, oiºtineß i˚kanoi« e¶sontai kai« e˚te÷rouß dida¿xai, are all the regenerate men, the believing and faithful men, in the church with teaching ability;  Scripture gives no category of unfaithful and unbelieving men who are properly church members—the unfaithful are the unregenerate who are eternally damned, Revelation 21:8).

[xxiv] Acts 10:45; 16:1; 2 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Timothy 4:3, 10, 12, 5:16; 6:2.  None of these passages even hint that some who believe are not faithful.  Indeed, 1 Timothy 6:2 (And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort, oi˚ de« pistou\ß e¶conteß despo/taß mh\ katafronei÷twsan, o¢ti aÓdelfoi÷ ei˙sin: aÓlla» ma◊llon douleue÷twsan, o¢ti pistoi÷ ei˙si kai« aÓgaphtoi« oi˚ thvß eujergesi÷aß aÓntilambano/menoi. tauvta di÷daske kai« paraka¿lei.) specifically identifies the believing and the faithful.  Those with “believing” masters—clearly all Christian masters, all who are “brethren”—are to honor their masters because they are “faithful and beloved.”  pistoi÷ . . . kai« aÓgaphtoi÷ is translated correctly in the Authorized Version, for as “beloved” (aÓgaphto/ß) in the verse signifies “one being loved,” the passive sense of aÓgapa¿w, so “faithful” (pisto/ß) is the passive sense of of pisteu/w, that is, “faithful” rather than “believing.”  That is, the masters are specified as “faithful and beloved,” rather than “believing and beloved.”  Consequently, the two senses of pisto/ß are equated as identical categories in 1 Timothy 6:2.  The “believing” are the “faithful.”

[xxv] Matthew 24:45; 25:21, 23; Luke 12:42; 16:10-12; 19:17; Acts 16:15; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:2; Revelation 2:10; 17:14.

[xxvi] John 20:27, the verse containing the only use of pisto/ß in John’s Gospel, as well as the only use of a‡pistoß, is no exception.  (The noun pi/stiß does not appear in John’s Gospel.)  The Apostle Thomas is not specified as one who is in the category of the faithless, but as one who is on the way to such a category, but is stopped from becoming faithless by the almighty power of the resurrected Christ—a power He exercises on behalf of all His people.  Thomas had affirmed that he would by no means come to faith in Christ’s resurrection without seeing physical evidence of it (ouj mh\ pisteu/sw, John 20:25—an attitude Christ had condemned in the unregenerate Jews, 4:48), but upon the appearance of Christ in His resurrected body, the Lord exhorted Thomas to not become faithless and unbelieving, but faithful and believing (mh\ gi÷nou a‡pistoß, aÓlla» pisto/ß, John 20:27), accompanying His exhortation with supernatural grace and power, the kind of supernatural grace and power exerted by the risen Christ whenever He brings a sinner from darkness into light (cf. John 6:44), resulting in Thomas’s great confession of Christ as his own Lord and his own God (ÔO Ku/rio/ß mou kai« oJ Qeo/ß mou, 20:28), and Christ’s recognition that, as evidenced by his confession, Thomas was now in a state of believing, having passed out of his position on the road to faithlessness to a state of faith and consequent faithfulness (pepi÷steukaß, 20:29, so that Thomas was now pisto/ß, not one on the path to a‡pistoß, 20:27).  The Lord Jesus’ word, mh\ gi÷nou a‡pistoß, aÓlla» pisto/ß, was Christ’s command to Thomas not to continue on the pathway toward becoming a faithless unbeliever, but rather to become a faithful believer, and His command was accompanied by effectual grace that made His Word so.  By His word of command, Christ created the universe out of nothing (cf. the uses of gi÷nomai in John 1:3; 10 & Genesis 1:3, 6, etc.), and by the same omnipotent word of command, He created faith within Thomas.  By his unbelief in the act of the resurrection, Thomas was in danger of becoming an unbeliever in Christ generally, and the Lord effectually interposed to deliver His beloved sheep from such a possibility by bringing him to a belief in the resurrection.  “Stop becoming an unbeliever,” or “Do not be becoming an unbeliever,” mh\ gi÷nou a‡pistoß, using gi÷nomai, “to become,” is a different command than mh\ i¶sqi a‡pistoß, “Do not continue to be an unbeliever,” using ei˙mi÷, “to be.”  John’s Gospel is very capable of clearly distinguishing gi÷nomai and ei˙mi÷ (cf. John 1:1–2, 4, 8–10, 15, 18 & John 1:3, 6, 10, 12, 14–15, 17).  As Peter’s faith was, considered independently of Christ, able to fail, but because of Christ’s High Priestly intercession for Peter, the Apostle’s faith was certainly not going to fail, but would certainly be strengthened (Luke 22:32), so the Apostle Thomas’s faith, considered independently, was capable of failure, but Christ’s effectual work on his behalf as Mediator guaranteed that Thomas would not become an unbeliever (cf. John 17);  instead, Christ’s command of power in John 20:27 immediately and effectually turned Thomas from the path towards unbelief and brought the Apostle to make his great confession to Christ, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
Indeed, as John 20 is the climax of John’s Gospel, Thomas’ confession of the crucified and resurrected Christ as his own Lord and God (20:28), consequent upon Christ’s effectual command and exercise of supernatural efficacy upon Thomas to be a believer (20:27; cf. 6:44-45, 65), is a paradigm of the character of saving faith in the Son of God as exercised by the unbeliever (John 20:29-31).  Thomas’s faith-response to the revelation of Christ is paradigmatic for the Divinely-enabled response of faith in the conversion of the lost and for the continuing Divinely-enabled faith-response to greater revelations of the Person and work of the Triune God to the believer.  Thus, considered in context, John 20:27 is so far from proving that a true Christian can be a‡pistoß, “unbelieving/unfaithful,” instead of pisto/ß, “faithful/believing,” that it affirms both that conversion involves a transition from being a‡pistoß to being pisto/ß and that Christ prevents His people from ever falling into the category of a‡pistoß as He preserves every last one of them unto His eternal kingdom.

[xxvii] a‡pistoß.  The complete list of references is: Matthew 17:17; Mark 9:19; Luke 9:41; 12:46; John 20:27; Acts 26:8; 1 Corinthians 6:6; 7:12–15; 10:27; 14:22–24; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 6:14–15; 1 Timothy 5:8; Titus 1:15; Revelation 21:8.  In every instance, with the sole exception of Acts 26:8, where reference is not made to persons, but to an event that is deemed hard to believe or incredible, it is very clear that the a‡pistoß is an unconverted person, one who is contrasted with the people of God, one who is under the control of Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4) and whose eternal destiny is the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). 
However, the noun aÓpisti÷a is used in the Gospels for not only for the lack of faith of the unsaved (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:6) but also for the weakness of faith of the people of God (Mark 16:14) that reduces their effectiveness in service (Matthew 17:20; Mark 9:24).  Paul restricts aÓpisti÷a to the unconverted (Romans 3:3; 4:20; 11:20, 23; 1 Timothy 1:13; Hebrews 3:12, 19) in the manner that the entirety of the New Testament restricts the status of a‡pistoß to the unconverted.

[xxviii] Ephesians 1:1, cf. 1:2ff.; Colossians 1:2.

[xxix]  Matthew 24:45 vs. 51; 25:21, 23 vs. 25:30; Luke 12:42 vs. 46; 16:10-14 (the unfaithful are without true, spiritual riches, like the unconverted Pharisees); 19:17 vs. 22-27.

[xxx] Revelation 2:10; 17:14.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Genius of Name-Calling

You pretty well know that your winning the argument, when the other side starts calling you names.  That's when the discussion has descended to the elementary school playground.   Name-calling is where it was going to end, when they had nothing to start with.  I'm a Calvinist in those "debates," because it is premeditated that you're going to win.  In fact, mark it down as a "W."

Name-calling characterizes the scoffer.  And scoffing is characteristic of an unbeliever.  2 Peter 3 says that scoffers are walking after their own lust.  Lust isn't an argument.  Wanting it your way doesn't convince anyone.  So you scoff.

The genius of name-calling is it works.  It's first the false bravado of the weak, keeping the other weak with the tribe.  It's gangster method for sake of intimidation.  Understand the name-calling represents either laziness or low intelligence.  It is carnal convenience.  You don't think or you don't feel like it.

You'll see a recent example in an exploding comment thread, best manifested by the word "ketchup."  Yes. "ketchup."  Professing adults used "ketchup" (here, here, and here).  Shame on them. (You'll see that "ketchup" is gone in the links, thanks to the moderators! :-D)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Jesus and the Definition of Marriage

Everybody took their shot with Jesus, the Sadducees among them Wednesday of passion week had their best denier-of-the-resurrection question ready for Him.  It probably worked every time with the Pharisees, which had the wrong idea about the afterlife, despite believing in resurrection.  The Sadducees spun an absurd scenario based on actual Old Testament levirate law in which one woman married seven brothers.  They asked (Lev 20:33):  "In the resurrection whose wife of them is she?"

In the Matthew version (22:29), Jesus started with "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God."  The Sadducees were different than the Pharisees in that they didn't depend on tradition for their beliefs, but on the Pentateuch, taking a Moses priority for all interpretation of the Old Testament.  Jesus is saying, "Moses debunks your speculation," which was based on their rejection of the supernatural ("the power of God"), the liberals that they were.  That worked nicely with the Pharisees, because the Pharisees thought people would be married in the afterlife.  However, it didn't work with Jesus.

With the above background, consider the next part of Jesus' answer, because in it, He lays out some detail in the definition of marriage that is helpful in today's discussion.  I watched a debate on same-sex marriage between Douglas Wilson and Andrew Sullivan.  Sullivan, who claims to be married to another male, claimed that Jesus had nothing to say about it.  That wasn't true, but it is especially false as we consider what Jesus said about marriage and procreation.  Jesus Himself said that marriage related directly to procreation.  The same-sex supporters say procreation is not a prospect of a marriage definition, because you've got some 'heterosexuals who can't or are past the point of having kids.'   Let's just listen to Jesus in the Luke edition of this story (20:34-36):

34 The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: 35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.

First, what is Jesus saying?  One, people in this world of these temporal bodies marry (v. 34).  Two, those who make it to the world to come in those glorified bodies after the resurrection of the dead will not marry (v. 35).  Three, they won't marry because they won't die any more, being equal to the angels (v. 36).

You've got to look closely to follow all of Jesus' argument.  It's not hard, but you've got to do some thinking.  A surface understanding blew the Sadducees away, but this section also deals nicely with the reason for the definition of marriage, coming from Jesus.  Angels don't marry.  They were created all at once and none of them die.  Since none of them die, they don't need to procreate.  People in the world to come, who make it there (because they're saved), will not be married either because they won't die.   Get it?  Jesus explains that people marry because people die, so it is necessary to procreate.  People who die need to be replaced.  Procreation is what replaces them.  This is replenishing the earth.  This happens from a man and a woman only.

Second, how does this apply to the definition of marriage?  Angels don't marry because they cannot procreate.  Men don't marry men and women don't marry women because they can't procreate.  A fundamental part of marriage in general is that it must be between a man and a woman, because only they can replenish the earth.  Only a man and woman can procreate.  If people were like angels, they would not need to marry.  This is what Jesus is saying.  At a root level, marriage must be between man and a woman based upon a fundamental understanding of procreation.

Now remember, Jesus is the Creator (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:1-3).  We've been endowed by our Creator with certain inalieanable rights.  Do people have the right to marry?  Yes.  By definition of the Creator they do.  And our Creator said that procreation is one aspect of the definition of marriage.  Men and women, speaking of them in general, marry in part because mankind can only procreate with a man and a woman.  Procreation is Jesus endorsed, Jesus originated, legitimate, authoritative argument against same-sex marriage, based upon Luke 20:34-36.  Procreation eliminates same-sex marriage.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ought We to Pray to the Person of the Holy Spirit? part 2

This is the second (and last) part of my discussion of whether or not it is appropriate to pray to the Person of the Holy Spirit.  Part 1 is here. Owen, in his classic Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, argues that it is indeed appropriate.  Briefly, what Owen affirms is that Biblical benedictions are originally a form of invocation or prayer, so that the Divine benedictions that mention all three Persons of the Trinity demonstrate that prayer to each of the Persons is appropriate.  Thus, consider the following texts:

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. (Revelation 1:4-5)

Owen argues that these benedictions involve invocation of the three Persons mentioned.  Therefore, Scripture provides warrant for prayer to the Holy Spirit, as well as to the Father and the Son.

While sympathetic to Owen and recognizing his tremendous theological prowess, my initial reaction to this argument was negative.  Owen is not infallible, of course—his arguments for, say, paedobaptism or limited atonement are erroneous.  Consider the following sentence:  “May you receive grace in the eyes of the judge, and peace with your boss at work.”  Why would 2 Corinthians 13:14 or Revelation 1:4-5 actually involve prayer to the Father, Son, and Spirit, but a statement like my preceding example not require prayer to one’s boss or a human judge?  Are they not identical?  Thus, I found Owen’s argument unconvincing.

However, things are not quite so simple.  Maybe the two statements are not really identical.  Consider the explanation of Owen’s argument for prayer or invocation undergirding Divine benedictions below, from Commentary on Hebrews 7:7 (“And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.”)  I have put my comments in below in brackets [like this].  I would highly advise looking up the passages Owen references, as they definitely contribute to his argument:

But what if Abraham was thus blessed by Melchisedec, doth this prove that he was less than he by whom he was blessed? It doth so, saith the apostle, and that by virtue of an unquestionable general rule: [“And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” . . . The words prevent an objection, which is supposed, not expressed; and therefore are they continued with those foregoing by the conjunction de, as carrying on what was before asserted by a further illustration and confirmation of it. And there is in them,

1. The manner of the assertion; and,
2. The proposition itself: —

1. The manner of it is in these words . . . “Without,” beyond, above, “all reasonable contradiction.” A truth this is
that cannot, that will not be gainsaid, which none will deny or oppose; as that which is evident in the light of nature, and which the order of the things spoken of doth require. . . .

2. The proposition thus modified, is, That “the less is blessed of the greater;” that is, wherein one is orderly blessed by another, he that is blessed is therein less than, or beneath in dignity unto, him by whom he is blessed, as it is expressed in the Syriac translation. Expositors generally on this place distinguish the several sorts of benedictions that are in use and warrantable among men, that so they may fix on that concerning which the rule here mentioned by the apostle will hold unquestionably. But as unto the especial design of the apostle, this labor may be spared: for he treats only of sacerdotal benedictions; and with respect to them, the rule is not only certainly true, but openly evident. But to illustrate the whole, and to show how far the rule mentioned may be extended, we may reduce all sorts of blessings unto four heads: —

(1.) There is benedictio potestativa; that is, such a blessing as consists in an actual efficacious collation on [conference on], or communication of the matter of the blessing unto, the person blessed. Thus God alone can bless absolutely. He is the only fountain of all goodness, spiritual, temporal, eternal, and so of the whole entire matter of blessing, containing it all eminently and virtually in himself. And he alone can efficiently communicate it unto, or collate [confer] it on any others; which he doth as seemeth good unto him, “according to the counsel of his own will.” All will grant, that with respect hereunto the apostle’s maxim is unquestionable; — God is greater than man. Yea, this kind of blessing ariseth from, or dependeth solely on, that infinite distance that is between the being or nature of God and the being of all creatures. This is God’s blessing . . . an “addition of good,” as the Jews call it; a real communication of grace, mercy, privileges, or whatever the matter of the blessing be.

(2.) There is benedictio authoritativa. This is when men, in the name, that is, by the appointment and warranty, of God, do declare any to be blessed, pronouncing the blessings unto them whereof they shall be made partakers.

And this kind of blessing was of old of two sorts:

[1.] Extraordinary, by virtue of especial immediate inspiration, or a spirit of prophecy.

[2.] Ordinary, by virtue of office and institution. In the first way Jacob blessed his sons; which he calls a declaration of “what should befall them in the last days,” Genesis 49:1. And such were all the solemn patriarchal benedictions; as that of Isaac, when he had infallible direction as to the blessing, but not in his own mind as to the person to be blessed, Genesis 27:27-29. So Moses blessed the children of Israel in their respective tribes, Deuteronomy 33:1. In the latter, the priests, by virtue of God’s ordinance, were to bless the people with this authoritative blessing:

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee; the LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; the LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them,” Numbers 6:22-27.

The whole nature of this kind of blessing is here exemplified. It is founded in God’s express institution and command. And the nature of it consists in “putting the name of God upon the people;” that is, declaring blessings unto them in the name of God, praying blessings for them on his command.  [That is, Owen argues that this type of blessing involves both the declaration of blessing to men and the invocation of God for blessing.  Men declare God’s blessing and invoke Him for it;  the One invoked, or in the case of the Trinitarian Divine Persons, the Three who bless are the Three invoked.] Wherefore the word “bless” is used in a twofold sense in this institution:  Verse 23, “Ye shall bless the children of Israel,” is spoken of the priests; verse 27, “I will bless them,” is spoken of God. The blessing is the same,—declared by the priests, and effected by God. They blessed declaratively, he efficiently. And the blessing of Melchisedec in this place seems to have a mixture in it of both these. For as it is plain that he blessed Abraham by virtue of his sacerdotal office, — which our apostle principally considereth, — so I make no question but he was peculiarly acted by immediate inspiration from God in what he did. And in this sort of blessing the apostolical maxim maintains its evidence in the light of nature.

(3.) There is benedictio charitativa. This is, when one is said to bless another by praying for a blessing on him, or using the means whereby he may obtain a blessing. This may be done by superiors, equals, inferiors, any or all persons mutually towards one another. See 1 Kings 8:14, 55, 56; 2 Chronicles 6:3; Proverbs 30:11. This kind of blessing, it being only improperly so, wherein the act or duty is demonstrated by its object, doth not belong unto this rule of the apostle. [While the benedictio charitativa does not relate to Hebrews 7:7, if one looks at the texts Owen quotes here, it is clear that prayer to the God who gives the blessing is involved in the benedictio on the people.  Thus:

14 And the king turned his face about, and blessed all the congregation of Israel: (and all the congregation of Israel stood;) 15 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which spake with his mouth unto David my father, and hath with his hand fulfilled it, saying, . . .

Here, the benediction upon the people is the invocation of the Blessing One for the blessing.  Note the same thing below:

55 And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying, 56 Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant. 57 The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us: 58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers. 59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require: 60 That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else. 61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day. (1 Kings 18:55-61)

Solomon’s blessing the people was his prayer to God for God to bless them.  The same holds for 2 Chronicles 6:3, and Proverbs 30:11 appears to be another definite example of this benedictio charitativa.]

(4.) There is benedictio reverentialis. Hereof God is the object. So men are said often to “bless God,” and to “bless his holy name:” which is mentioned in the Scripture as a signal duty of all that fear and love the Lord. Now this blessing of God is a declaration of his praises, with a holy, reverential, thankful admiration of his excellencies. But this belongs not at all unto the design of the apostle, nor is regulated by this general maxim, but is a particular instance of the direct contrary, wherein, without controversy, the greater is blessed of the less. It is the second sort of blessings [the benedictio authoritativa] that is alone here [in Hebrews 7:7] intended; and that is mentioned as an evident demonstration of the dignity of Melchisedec, and his pre-eminence above Abraham.

Obs. 4. It is a great mercy and privilege, when God will make use of any in the blessing of others with spiritual mercies. — It is God alone who originally and efficiently can do so, who can actually and infallibly collate a blessing on any one. Therefore is he said to “bless us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things,” Ephesians 1:3. There is no one blessing but he is the sole author and worker of it. But yet, also, he maketh use of others, severally, in various degrees of usefulness, for their communication. And this he doth, both to fill up that order of all things in dependence on himself, wherein he will be glorified; and also to make some partakers in his especial grace and favor, by using them in the collation of good things, yea, the best things, on others. For what greater privilege can any one be made partaker of, than to be an instrument in the hand of God in the communication of his grace and goodness? And a privilege it is whose exercise and improvement must be accounted for. I speak not, therefore, of them whose benedictions are euctical [“Euctical . . . Expecting a wish; supplicatory.”  Webster’s Dictionary] and charitative only, in their mutual prayers; but of such as are in some sense authoritative. [Yet notice that all these kinds of benediction have prayer undergirding them.] Now, a man blesseth by the way of authority, when he doth it as an especial ordinance, as he is called and appointed of God thereunto. Peculiar institution gives peculiar authority. So parents bless their children and households, and ministers the church: —

1. Parents bless their children in the name of the Lord several ways: . . . By prayer for them. So David blessed his household, 2 Samuel 6:20. For besides the duty of prayer absolutely considered, there is in those prayers, by the appointment of God, an especial plea for and application of the promises of the covenant unto them which we ourselves have received. So it is expressed in the prayer of David, 2 Samuel 7:29. “Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord GOD, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.” . . .

2. Ministers bless the church. It is part of their ministerial duty, and it belongs unto their office so to do:

(1.) They do it by putting the name of God upon the church. This was the way whereby the priests blessed the people of old, Numbers 6:27. And this putting the name of God upon the church, is by the right and orderly celebration of all the holy ordinances of worship of his appointment. . . .

(4.) How they bless the church by prayer and example, may be understood from what hath been spoken concerning those things with respect unto parents. The authority that is in them depends on God’s especial institution, which exempts them from and exalts them above the common order of mutual charitative benedictions.

(5.) They bless the people declaratively; as a pledge whereof it hath been always of use in the church, at the close of the solemn duties of its assemblies, wherein the name of God is put upon it, to bless the people by express mention of the blessing of God, which they pray for upon them. But yet, because the same thing is done in the administration of all other ordinances, and this benediction is only euctical, or by the way of prayer, I shall not plead for the necessity of it. . . .

Thus, Owen’s argument is that the benedictio authoritativa, charitativa, and reverentialis all involve prayer to God for the benediction invoked upon those that receive it.  His argument from 2 Corinthians 13:14 and Revelation 1:4-5 for the lawfulness of prayer to the Holy Spirit, is, therefore, that the authoritative benediction of blessing upon the church recorded in these passages involves prayer to that God who is invoked in the texts for the specific blessings mentioned.  Thus, 2 Corinthians 13:14 involves a prayer to the Holy Spirit that He will produce communion in the saints, and Revelation 1:4-5 a prayer to the Holy Spirit that He will produce grace and peace in the saints.  What about my counter-example, “May you receive grace in the eyes of the judge, and peace with your boss at work”?  This would be a benedictio charitativa which actually involves an invocation of God;  namely, that God would give the person receiving the benediction favor in the eyes of a human judge and peace with his human boss.  Stated in a Trinitarian fashion like 2 Corinthians 13:14, the statement would be:  “May the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit give you grace in the eyes of the judge, and peace with your boss at work.”  And this, Owen would argue, does indeed presuppose the invocation of or prayer to all three Persons of the Godhead.

What do you think of Owen’s argument?  Is he right?  Why or why not?