Friday, September 21, 2018

Misrepresentation

Anyone who meddles in ideas will be misrepresented. There is no escaping it. I don't claim to be an expert on any issue. But I do enjoy immensely the exchange of ideas. And there are a couple issues on which I think if have a solid grasp. Whatever the issue was, I have yet to have a conversation that either I or the other person(s) did not misunderstand some detail about the issue under consideration. The reasons for this are multi-layered.

Two Kinds of Misrepresenters 

Not all misrepresenters are created equal. I want to create a couple categories so as not to misrepresent them. It would be terrible if I misrepresented the misrepresenters. 

The Innocent Misrepresenter

The innocent misrepresenter is so because he does not have the informational or intellectual capacity to grasp the nuances of the topic. Therefore, he attempts to convey the conversation but cannot do it accurately. What often happens is that the misrepresenter has a preconceived notion about what a particular position states or what certain terms mean. Therefore, they hear an issue discussed through the distortion of misinformation. Far too often people have walked away from my conversations or statements and repeat what they heard, but not what I said. This kind of misrepresenter is not malicious; they are just misinformed. And that is tolerable. 

The Malicious Misrepresenter

The malicious misrepresenter is so because he has an unholy agenda. There may be many motivators for the misrepresentation. I am not so much concerned about the motivation as I am the action. When I encounter a malicious misrepresenter, I will mark and avoid them. When I and others have clarified our position on a topic, and one refuses to state it accurately, then they are a malicious misrepresenter.

My Response to the Malicious Misrepresenter 

When I have confirmed that you are a misrepresenter of the malicious variety, then I will not engage you in conversation. If you are going to misrepresent me, then you are going to have to work hard to find my material so that you can traffic in your devious dealings. 

However, if you maliciously misrepresent one of my friends—and likely anyone—then I will call your hand. I know all too well what it is like to be on the receiving end of malicious conduct. By the grace of God, I will not participate in it. In the interest of being transparent, I must admit that I have had to repent of this sin more than once. But I am asking the Holy Spirit to keep a check on my tongue and spirit in this regard. 

NOTE: As will all my blogs, all comments will be posted. Please feel free to engage. 


Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Need to be Honest with Scripture

I recently posted on Facebook about the need for hermeneutical honesty. The comments got so out of hand that I deceide to erase the post there. However, I have decided to reproduce that post here on my blog. My comments were as follows:
"Do we conservative Apostolics (of which I consider myself) care about hermeneutics in our preaching? I understand fully the concept of preserving traditional separataion. But a high view of scripture demands that you not commit crimes against the context of scripture to do it. We need a revival of biblical literacy and honesty. Preaching scripture soundly ought not to be too much to expect regardless of the setting. I may not agree with your conclusions, but I do need to respect your ability to interpret the Bible. If I disagree with you, then I will consider seriously that I may be wrong. I have a long history of being wrong, so I am aware that is a possibilty. Otherwise, I have no option but to dismiss your claims with respect."
I understand that much of the fury against the post was becasue of the timing. But anyone who knows me is aware that the above post is something that I have been passionate about for a very long time. My post was by no means isolating a recent sermon at PEAK 2018. Conversely, I am not suggesting that I am excluding said message from my post. The Facebook exerpt from above covers every sermon—including my own. I will go further and say, "Especially my own."

One of the primary purposes of preaching is persuasion. Paul wrote the following statement about preaching: "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Corinthians 5.11, King James Version). My contention is that the way we handle scripture ought to have persuasion as its goal. We will convince no one of our view as long as we continue to demonstrate a disregard for context. As Apostolic preachers, we must start taking the Bible more seriously. As long as we misuse scripture to promote personal agendas we will continue to lose the respect of saint and sinner alike.

Finally, let me say that I am not a perfect interpreter of scripture—no preacher is. We all have room for improvement. Therefore, let us work hard to interpret scripture faithfully. 

As will every blog I post, I encourage you to comment below even if you disagree.


Friday, January 19, 2018

Dispensationalism Part 2

Dispensationalism Part 2: One People of God  

Reflection
            In the first blog I discussed the relationship of the two brides/peoples of God to the Oneness of God. While I did not discuss it extensively, I think that made the point clearly that two brides/peoples of God theology is incompatible with the Oneness of God. In this blog I will argue that not only is it incompatible with the Oneness of God, but it is also incompatible with a systematic theology of the people of God. I shall contend that God has always and will always have one covenant people of faith. So the question is, “Who are the one people of God?”

One Covenant People
            The Oneness of God (my first passion) informs my eschatology (my second passion). As noted in the first blog of this series, the two peoples of God theory of Dispensationalism is incompatible with an Oneness theology. So in this blog I will provide an introduction to how I see the one people of God. It is my contention that the people of God have always been covenant people consisting of both Jew and Gentile. Furthermore, God has never been interested in a bloodline, but rather faithline.

Abraham Was a Gentile
            The terms circumcision and uncircumcision mean Jew and Gentile respectively. Paul’s defense of Gentile justification apart from circumcision was that Abraham was justified while uncircumcised—i.e. Gentile (Romans 3:27; 4:25). The argument is this, if the Jews denied the justification of the Gentiles because they were uncircumcised, then they would have to deny the Justification of father Abraham.
            The Gentile calling of Abraham is exhibit one in the case that God has always had one covenant people. I can’t make a full argument here about Gentile participation in the Old Testament Israel. But I will make a couple of surface, but significant points. Firstly, in the Old Testament many Gentiles came to participate fully in Israel, so much so as to be bloodline members of Messiah—Rahab and others. The New Testament, among many metaphors, makes Gentiles members of the “commonwealth of Israel” (Ephesians 2:11-22).  Jew and Gentile are one body (Ephesians 4:4), one new man (Ephesians 2:15), one tree (Romans 11), with one hope (Ephesians 4:4).  The covenant people of God have always been about faith and not race.
           

Please subscribe and leave comments. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Dispensationalism 1b: Replacement Theology

Dispensationalism 1b: Replacement Theology
            I want to write this blog as transition between the first blog on this topic and the next blog on this topic—hence Dispensationalism 1b. Dispensationalists often accuse non-Dispensationalists (like myself), specifically those who do not hold to a two brides/peoples of God theology, of teaching “replacement theology.” There are those who teach replacement theology, but I am not one of them.
            I am going to state what I believe in this blog. However, I am not going to present arguments in defense of what I believe at the present time. I will make the argument for my eschatology incrementally in subsequent writings.
            So what do I believe? I believe that God has always had one covenant people that consisted of Jew and Gentile. God has never been interested in an ethnic people, but rather a faithful people. I believe that the New Testament Church is a renewal and continuation of the Old Testament church in which Gentiles have full covenant access to God in Christ by the Spirit. The church and Israel are not two peoples, with two plans and two destinies. God has only ever had and will only ever have one Covenant people who consists of both Jew and Gentiles. The church does not replace Israel; the church is the Israel of God consisting of both Jew and Gentile in one body.

            I will make my argument for this position in future blogs. As always, all feedback is welcome. Please comment on the blog. All comments will be posted—especially the ones who disagree with my conclusion. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Dispensationalism Part 1: Dispensationalism and Oneness Theology

Dispensationalism Part 1: Why Dispensationalism is Incompatible with Oneness Theology

            Eschatology used to be that subject that I resisted thinking about. I didn’t understand it. I feared it. I thought that it was too esoteric to be worth my effort to understand it. I have come to realize that nothing could be further from the truth. There is a blessing in reading and understanding the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:3). Once one accepts the blessing of the book of the apocalypse, it will connect other theologies in a way that nothing else can.
            I am writing this blog series to put in my own words what I believe about this topic. I have been misquoted so many times on this issue that I have decided to go on record. If anyone in the future should decide to speak for me about what I believe, then it can be compared to what I actually believe. Most of the cases where someone has said what I believe, that person has never spoken to me. By writing this blog series I will clarify publically my eschatological position. Obviously, I will not be able to clarify it all in this first installment of this series. It will take the subsequent contributions to paint the full picture of my position.

Clarification
            Before I proceed to the purpose of this blog, I want to make a clarification. Please read the following carefully. There are those who self-identify as dispensationalists who are NOT the target of this dispensational series. For example: Dr. Nathaniel Wilson has done an excellent job of apostolicizing dispensationalism. I take credit for coining the phrase, “Wilsonian dispensationalism.” I wrote about it in a finals paper for a Wilson University class. I hope to do a blog that specifically contrasts Wilsonian dispensationalism with classic dispensationalism. Dr. Wilson has written his reformed dispensational view in his book Rightly Dividing the Word. At this point I will allow Dr. Wilson to speak for himself. Just wanted to clarify that Wilsonian dispensationalism is not the object of my scorn. Although I don’t fully agree with his view, his view is compatible with core Apostolic theology
.
Dispensationalism and Theology Proper
            Finally we are at the point of the post. The point is how classic dispensationalism relates to theology proper and specifically how the two peoples/brides component of the dispensational model conflicts with an Oneness views of God. The two peoples/brides concept is central to classic dispensationalism. It is not incidental, but fundamental to making dispensationalism work. It’s like love and marriage, horse and carriage; you can’t have one without the other. Donaldson (2011) correctly argued that dispensationalism doesn’t work without the distinction of Israel and the church as separate peoples (Donaldson, The Last Days of Dispensationalism).
            Classic dispensationalism  not only sees two brides, but does so in a way that is not palatable to Oneness theology. Notice the following quote from Larkin (1920):

We must not forget that there are “Two Brides” mentioned in the Scriptures. One in the Old Testament, and the other in the New Testament. The one in the Old Testament is Israel, the Bride of Jehovah; the one in the New Testament is the Church, the Bride of Christ. (The Greatest Book on “Dispensational Truth” in the World)

            In Larkian dispensationalism, which no one can logically claim is not dispensational orthodoxy, you not only have “two brides,” but you also have two husbands—the Father and the Son. So you have two peoples, two plans, two destinies, and two divine persons. Classic dispensationalism is fundamentally trinitarian per the dispensational fathers.
            My further point is that I am not sure that the two brides/peoples of God  of dispensationalism can be transformed to be compatible with Apostolic theology. Let’s see what the covenantal distinction between Israel and the Church looks like with the Oneness of God. You have the one person of God married to Israel, then divorcing her, marrying a Gentile bride, rapturing her out on their honeymoon, and then marrying the Jewish bride again while keeping his Gentile bride. The two peoples of God theology ultimately has Jesus married to two brides at once. There are multiple levels on which this is wrong. But allow me to list one. A bishop must be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2). However, the two peoples of God theory has Jesus, the bishop of our souls (1 Peter 2:25), as a polygamist.


  Click here to listen to a recent lesson I taught on this topic. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Divorce and Remarriage: May Both Parties in a Divorce Remarry?

My answer to this question is going to cause some people to jump off my bandwagon. Many Apostolics believe that the "innocent party" may remarry, but the "guilty party" may not remarry. In most cases, terms like "innocent" and "guilty" are are misleading. The Bible does not discuss the MDR question in terms of guilt or innocence. Rather, it discusses MDR in terms of covenant. The concept of covenant brings me to my first question. 

Whom Does A Broken Covenant Release?

For those who do not believe both parties are freed to remarry in divorce I have a question:

  • Is a broken covenant still in force? The answer to this question is, "No, it's broken." If it is broken enough for the party who did not break the covenant to remarry without committing adultery, then it must no longer be binding. If the covenant is no longer binding, then what covenant is being violated if either party remarries? The covenant can't be binding for just one party; it's either binding for both or neither. The only biblical answer is that once the covenant has been broken legitimately then both parties are free to remarry. 
In Deuteronomy 24.1-3 the woman in whom the uncleanness was found was free to go be another man's wife after she was put away with a bill of divorce.  She could not be another man's wife just being put away, because there was a covenant still in place. But if she was given a bill of divorce—even though the uncleanness was in her—she was free to remarry. There was no way to release just one party from the covenant. Again: it's both or neither. So the answer to the question about the so-called guilty party remarrying is, "Yes, they can!"

Friday, October 13, 2017

Divorce and Remarriage: What is the Purpose of Divorce?

When discussing MDR the conversation usually surrounds whether remarriage is ever permitted. And if it is, when is it permitted? The purpose of this blog is to demonstrate that inherent to a biblical divorce is the right to remarry—it's assumed. There is no other biblical purpose for divorce other than to free the parties to remarry. If divorce does not include the right to remarry, then it would differ nothing from separation.

The text that provides the basis for this idea is Deuteronomy 24:

When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. (Deuteronomy 24:1-2 KJV)

Moses commanded to give a bill of divorce in addition to putting away one's spouse (Matthew 19:7). Why would he do that? If neither putting away (separation), nor a bill of divorce (divorce) freed the parties to remarry then why not just "put away" one's spouse? Because if they were just put away without a bill of divorce, then the marriage covenant is still binding. Therefore, if the "put away" wife were to remarry, then she and the person she married would be committing adultery (Matthew 5:32; 19:9 YLT). 

Putting away a wife without a bill of divorce put her in a bad situation. Another man could not marry and provide for her, and she couldn't provide for herself well. So to put away a wife without a bill of divorce was to deal "treacherously" with them (Malachi 2:14). It is putting away, and not divorce that God hates (See here). Therefore, to prevent men from putting their wives in this position, Moses commanded that if they were going to put away their wives that they would also give them a bill of divorcement.

There is a simple reason for commanding to give a bill of divorcement when you put away a wife: And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife (Deuteronomy 24:2). It was so that she could go marry another man! To remarry was the only purpose of the bill of divorcement. The theological conclusion then is this: if the divorce is valid then remarriage is necessarily permitted, In Jewish and biblical thought, the debate is never about  whether remarriage is permitted, but whether they were given a bill of divorce when they were put away. There are the additional concerns about valid causes for divorce. But biblically, if the divorce is valid; the remarriage must also be valid. Remarriage is the purpose of divorce!

As always, all comments will be published. ESPECIALLY the opposing comments made with the reader's name.