Axioms of Naturalism and Theism

Would any respond to the following from a philosophical standpoint:

Atheists insist that there is no God and that the finite and physical is all that exists. Reality is no more than atoms or their component parts in space. That which is conceived as supernatural is to the atheist the nonsense of ignoramuses. Atheist theories are empiricism, naturalism, secularism, or humanism, and all theology is fabrication, dishonesty, deceit, and superstition.

Atheists put the onus on the theists to prove the existence of God, but the atheists keep themselves from having to prove anything. The atheist’s worldview is frequently connected to evolution, which claims that molecules became people by a natural process over millions or billions of years. This is a belief system about the world and the state of reality. It is a philosophical and metaphysical worldview. For this reason atheistic evolution is rightly described as Naturalism. A molecules-to-man, no God involved worldview. The knowledgeable theist will agree that the existence of God cannot be proven by science; it is not the theistic answer, and it is also not giving up the argument.

A worthy reply would be: If the atheist’s position is true, we cannot have logic, philosophy, morality, or geometry, either, because Nature does not provide these things. The atheist’s position—that Nature gives us truth—cannot be tested by sensation, or any empirical or scientific method.

To the Atheist, if it cannot be felt with the hands, observed by the eye, or known by any other sensory organ, it doesn’t exist. But this is not logically deduced from Nature. It is the atheist’s axiom that cannot be demonstrated.

The atheist must be challenged on his axiom–truth is derived from Nature–by providing the proof.

If he cannot, then the atheist should not object to the Christian axiom that there is a God who has spoken in an inerrant Word, the 66 books of the Bible.

Why should the atheist be allowed his axiom while denying the Christian his own?

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Root and the Fruit

Love and charity should not be separated from the service of God. While it is true that vital religion has as its foundation the true knowledge found in Scripture, and implanted in the heart by the Holy Spirit, it is no less true that Christianity also consists of a right application of the truth to one’s life, grounded on a right understanding in the heart, both the work of that same Spirit..
If the fruit of one’s teaching is in sanctification according to the measure and rule of God’s Word, then it is likely the root of justification is whole. However, if the fruit of one’s teaching results in a denial of love—or other graces of the Holy Spirit—in doctrine or practice, then this is not the Christianity of the Bible, and we have a Biblical ground to question if a person is justified who is not also being sanctified by the Word of truth.
Without doubt, we ourselves must be careful not to censure unjustly those who stray from the truth in word or deed, for we ourselves are admonished to take heed lest we fall .
There are many false prophets in the world, and not every man who teaches in the name of Christ is to be considered a Christian. The spirit of antichrist is a spirit of falsehood, and more often than not falsehood is subtle, not blatant (such is the nature of the FV’ers).
An example of such subtlety is the definition of Christianity given by John Robbins.
In The Trinity Review of May 2004, Robbins defined Christianity as a set of propositions:

Christianity is the propositions of the 66 books of the Bible together with their logical implications. Christianity is the set of Biblical doctrines.

Without doubt Christianity is revealed in the explicit teaching of the Bible and all of its logical implications. However, this is an incomplete definition, for Christianity is more than just a set of ideas. Christianity also includes in its biblical definition the doing of God’s will, not just the knowing of it (hence, the Incarnation). True and vital religion is about faith and practice, belief and obedience. Contrary to the God-man Incarnate, Robbins either completely ignored the doctrine of sanctification in his definition, or it was absorbed into his definition, but in either case it disappeared. Christianity includes not only logical but also practical implications.
An example of this subtlety is Robbins overemphasis on the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

Robbins wrote that the “Gospel of justification through belief alone is the central doctrine of Scripture” (A Companion to The Current Justification Controversy: The Trinity Foundation, 2003, p. 9).

No doubt, a central doctrine of Christianity is justification by faith alone, and it, like many other doctrines due to their interrelatedness, illumines other doctrines. Yet, Robbins’ contention, at the least an overstatement, and, at worst a heresy, truncates Christianity, and justification in his theology and practice absorbs sanctification, and love is gone.
Where, then, is his justification?
Christianity is the truth, and it must be understood and believed. But in both words and deeds Robbins manifested that he had not “caught, felt, sensed, or encountered” this truth with his heart or his hands.
Perhaps the most noticeable area in which Robbins’ idealistic approach to Christianity was evident was in his attack on Christian’s who offended his viewpoint. Robbins apparently made no efforts to contact men who printed or publicly stated what he believed were “heresies” or errors. Instead, Robbins publicly attacked the men in question with no regard to such Biblical texts as Galatians 6:1 , or other texts that admonish us to seek peace.
God condemns constant and overbearing browbeating, not simply because of its harshness, but also because it is contrary to brotherly love, it is contrary to meekness, and does not seek reconciliation.
Those who are held up by the Spirit will not beat their brethren down.

They are commonly the most severe judges who forget their own weaknesses.

Robbins often boasted, in writing and verbally, that his hero, Gordon H. Clark was “America’s Augustine.”
The great Augustine wrote

We should rebuke in love—not eagerly hoping to injure the person, but earnestly taking care to improve him. If we have such a mindset, we practice what Christ commanded: “If thy brother shall sin against thee, rebuke him between thee and him alone.” Why do you rebuke such people? Because you are grieved that they sinned against you? God forbid. If you do it out of love for yourself, you don’t do anything. If you do it out of love for the other person, you act in excellence. Notice what these words say about whom you should love in doing so—yourself or the other person: “If he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” Do it for other people’s sake then, so that you can “gain” them. If by doing so you “gain” them, they would also be lost if you hadn’t done it….Therefore, don’t let anyone disregard it when he sins against a fellow Christian [or many Christians]. For the Apostle Paul said, “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and would their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ,” because we have been all made members of Christ. How can you not sin against Christ if you sin against a member of Christ?

As one looks at the fruit of John Robbins’ life, he cannot help but wonder if he understood love—or Christ—at all. In his review “Did C. S. Lewis Go to Heaven” Robbins suggested that because Lewis (supposedly) never explicitly mentioned the doctrine of justification by faith alone he may not have made it past the gates of Heaven.
Some who are aware of the acerbic, vitriolic, and damning rhetoric employed by Robbins in his public writings (he never lasted long on discussion boards) cannot help but be braced by the same problem when we ponder Robbins doctrine and practice. The fruit of Robbins teaching clearly results—judging by the public behavior of himself and his followers—in a denial of love and other graces of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, their belief system is deficient as a representation of the Christianity of the Bible, and we have Biblical grounds to question if these persons are justified when they apparently are not also being sanctified by the Word of truth.
God knows. But, let us be warned.
Many who espouse John Robbins views are keen but clueless. They commit themselves to the theologies of Clark and Robbins with too little reflection of their own, and with little if any engagement with sounder theologians who counter or inform them.
As mimics they flatter each other’s intellectual conceit and encourage intellectual dishonesty, which adds up to a lack of spiritual, moral, and mental integrity.
Relying on the assertions of narrow-minded quacks who evidence only the fruit of a barren and “arid hyper-intellectualism” is unwise. Emulating an intellectual morale puffed up in knowledge but accompanied by moral laxity isn’t following Christ.

Men’s thoughts should shape their actions. If the actions are not characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit, should we not conclude there is something rotten at the root?

“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” James 3:13

Posted in Blind Devotion, Theology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Patriarchy Movement

A friend mailed us a series of articles written by Mr. Doug Phillips, a forerunner in what has been referred to as the “Back to Patriarchy Movement.” Mr. Phillips does offer, in a roundabout way, some helpful advice on possible dangers and pitfalls from which much can be gleaned.

Unfortunately, this well-intended series, entitled “God Calls Men to Be Providers,” postulates from the outset that God has ordained, yea, commanded, that the husband and father be the exclusive provider to his family.

To our understanding this is an un-sound statement, and is, though doubtfully at best, simply a speculatively possible implication of the true intent of the Scripture cited, which primarily concerns the care of widows within the church.

Mr. Phillips overextends the biblical teaching on the matter by insisting that the text that he has as his subject, 1 Timothy 5:1-16, precludes a woman from being a provider in the family, resulting in the accusation by Phillips that men who allow their wives to go out in to the marketplace “emasculate themselves” and give their wives over to “serving two masters”.

Before we proceed to these points, let’s first examine the passage together.

Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. Honor widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan. If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. (1 Timothy 5:1-16)

The context shows that Paul is instructing his young protégé, Timothy, in the manner that he and the church should treat women who have been widowed. The context of verse 8, then, is that of a believer who is obligated to care for the widow in his family, whether he is a man or a woman, which is borne out by verse 16. To set aside this context does considerable damage not only to the passage but also to interpretation as a whole, as Scripture ought to interpret Scripture, and be taken within its contextual setting.

The phrase “his own house” in verse 8 has reference to the immediate family not just under a husband and fathers authority and headship, but one in which the woman of 1 Timothy 5:16 might be involved. From the Commentary of Jamison, Fosset, and Brown we read:

But-reverting to v.4, ‘if any (a general proposition, therefore including the widow’s children or grandchildren) provide not for his own (relations), and especially for those of his own family, he hath (practically) denied the faith.’ Faith without love and its works is dead. If in any case a duty of love is plain, it is towards one’s own relatives. ‘Faith does not set aside, but strengthens natural duties.’ Worse than an infidel-because even an infidel is taught by nature to provide for his own relatives, and generally recognizes the duty: the Christian who does not so is worse (Matt. v.46,47).”

The correct interpretation of the passage is simply that those who are able to care for the widows in their own family are to do so, whether they are male or female, while the church is under obligation to care for the widow who has no one to provide for her. A reading of the book of Ruth in the Old Testament gives a view of what this provision for relatives should look like. Any one who has the means to provide for their needy, widowed relative and does not is considered as a heathen.

Hopefully, it can be seen from the preceding (albeit brief) exegesis that Mr. Phillips will not find solid footing for his premise in 1 Timothy, as insisting that it has application only to men. Yet, we have to concur that the primary—but not the sole—responsibility for provision is upon the father and husband, not upon the wife. However, the real question which seems to need addressing is, “Is this responsibility to be shared?” and, if so, “How?” To rephrase the question, “Does the Bible anywhere teach that a woman may assist her husband in providing?” Let’s go back to the book of Beginnings, Genesis, and see where it all started, in order that we might attain an answer to these questions, and, while doing so, a fuller understanding of the God ordained roles of man and wife.

We return to Genesis because we need to examine the foundational teaching of the Scriptures concerning the nature of man (who he was created to be, and what he was created to do) before the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve. We believe this is critical because the institution of marriage was brought into existence before the debilitating and destructive introduction of sin into the created order, and consequently, man’s alienation from his Creator. We must be informed of the biblical and creational backdrop to see the picture properly. Two passages are offered:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26-28)

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:18-25)

Man was created in the image of God. According to the Answer of Question 10 of the Larger Catechism of the Westminster Assembly, How did God create man? “God created man male and female, after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.”

Following the teaching of the Bible, the Catechism teaches that man reflects the image of God in three ways.

First, he reflects the image in knowledge. Adam, before the fall, was capable of understanding God’s revelation of Himself in the created order.

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field…(Genesis2:19-20).

Adam knew what the animals should be called, and he named them appropriately. In other words, the names he assigned to each part of the creation accurately described what they were. In calling the woman Eve (which means “life-giving”), Genesis3:20 says he did so “because she was the mother of all living.”

G.I. Williamson states

Adam (while yet without sin) was a prophet in the highest sense…. He showed himself able to grasp—and express—the true nature of things…. For a prophet is one who can see the truth of God and speak the same for the benefit of others (italics are Williamson’s).

This prophetic role still belongs to all men: Scripture teaches that only those who are united by faith to God, in His Son, Jesus Christ, can fulfill it properly. Christian men and women are both responsible to be prophets in the home, in the church, and in the culture[1].

However, we do not intend to say that all Christians in each of the three societies that God has established exercise this function in the same manner.

The prophetic role in the home, normatively speaking, belongs to the head of the household primarily, and to the wife and mother secondarily. Who will deny the teaching function to one’s co-heir of the grace of life (2 Peter 3:1-6) and to his children? And, children who have the Spirit of Christ have the mind of Christ (as a part of the Body of the Church), and so they, too, in their respective capacities and stations, are able to teach in some manner, and fulfill in some way their prophetic duty and privilege.

The prophetic role in the church belongs, primarily, to those who are called to teach and preach—and the preaching function, the prophetic office, is by Scripture confined to qualified males only.

However, in regard to the culture, we know of no direct teaching of Scripture that forbids woman to teach men, although many abuse Scripture significantly be taking Paul’s words to Timothy about not allowing women to teach or have authority over a man to mean in the culture, when Paul explicitly says that the churches of God have no such practice, thereby limiting the sphere of his injunction to the church alone.

Man in his original state also reflected the image of God in holiness. Adam, before the fall, was the possessor of a heart that was completely devoted to God. He could say, in the words of the Psalmist, “God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” (Psalm 73:26). Therefore, Christian men are wholly devoted to God in purity: they are holy, as He who saved them is holy. This is the basis of a man’s priesthood: he is set apart, that is, he is holy, in his priestly office as husband and father (if he has children).

In one other way man reflected the image of God, and that was in righteousness. Adam, before the fall, was the one who ruled the creation on God’s behalf, by God’s decree.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1: 26-28)

To sum up in the very apropos words of Williamson concerning Adam; “Because he knew the Lord’s will (as a prophet), and desired to serve Him only (as a priest), he was also able to do the works of righteousness as a king of creation.”

So then, we have in Genesis 1: 26-28 the determination of God to create man in His image, and in Genesis 2:18-25 an account of the sixth day, of how the LORD formed the animals, and how Adam named them. He did this in his reflective role of Prophet, Priest, and King.

After Adam names the animals, we are told that there was not a suitable helper found for Adam, obviously referring to the parade of animals that had just taken place. In verse 18, God has already stated that it wasn’t good for man to be alone (not lonesome, or lonely, but by himself, solitary, as in the only), to which we refer back to Genesis1:27,

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

This teaches us that the determination of God was always to create both male and female, contradicting that teaching which would have us believe that it wasn’t until after He created Adam that God realized the man needed a counterpart. Adam was created needing Eve to be “complete”.

Adam could have no conversation with the animals, he “couldn’t relate” to them. Therefore, he had no intimate, confiding relationship with the created order. While he shared with his Creator certain communicable qualities, there was none to be found who was his equal. Without this helper fit for him (she was “made to order”), he was powerless to fulfill the mandate to populate and subdue the earth. Without Eve’s help and godly influence, Adam would not be able to give to the LORD the godly offspring that He desires (Malachi 2:15). Clearly, God had given the institution of marriage for more than companionship. In His sovereign decree, He had determined that man, male and female, would act together to reflect God in his image of Prophet, Priest, and King over all of creation. (It should in no way be established that the woman was in any way subordinate in regards to fulfilling the mandate given to Adam. Certainly, the Scriptures tell us of the subordinate position of the woman as regards function, but she was by nature his equal, having been taken from his side, not his feet!)

An illustration of this theme is found in Michelangelo’s depiction of the creation of man that is found in the Sistine Chapel. In the motif, Adam is portrayed as reclining upon the Earth, with his outstretched arm almost, but not quite, touching the outstretched right arm of God from the heavenlies. God has His left arm wrapped around Eve’s shoulders, perhaps to symbolize His omniscient awareness that there is more to come for Adam. Though speculative, the plausibility of this interpretation of Michelangelo’s work is compelling as we consider the general equality of men and women taught in Scripture, and contended for by Christianity.

B.M. Palmer wrote:

God created first the individual—the man, who was the compendium [essence] of all His creative acts—made in His own image, with reason, conscience and will, and appointed as ruler over the creatures. Then, from his substance an exact counterpart was fashioned, the reflection of his own being; the mode of her derivation establishing identity of nature, and a unity which is not weakened by diversity.

A final quote from Robert C. Harbach will suffice to strengthen the importance of this perspective:

…Without the woman, man could not (1) express his social and covenant nature, his God-given friendly nature, could not (2) execute God’s command to propagate the race (1:28), nor (3) begin the generation of the elect church, nor (4) be God’s means to the production of the seed of the woman. He was in need intellectually, physically, and psychically of a human being like himself, corresponding to him, his counterpart and complement (Studies in Genesis).

From Scripture and other testimonies we have shown: 1) that the responsibility of labor was first given to the husband, Genesis 2:15, and, 2) that the woman was given later as a helper for the man, that he might fulfill his responsibilities, Genesis2:18.

We agree, then, that the primary responsibility for provision is upon the father and husband, not upon the wife. Yet, this responsibility is to be shared, in that Eve comes alongside to help Adam fulfill it. To say she is not responsible in any manner would deny the very reason for her being there. Although Adam was previously the one solely responsible to God in his role of King to provide, first for himself, Eve comes to fill that which he was lacking, and they together exercise dominion[2] in this way (as well as in reflecting the image of God as priest[est] and prophet[ess].

We might suggest at this point that Eve was as much Adam’s “counterpart and complement” in providing for the first family as she was in other ways, and leave the matter there. But, because we have stated that a man is primarily responsible for provision (not solely), we would go on to examine how or when the assistance on the part of the woman occurs.

Proverbs 31:10-28 gives the well known description of a virtuous woman:

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

We learn here of the manifold labors of a godly, virtuous woman. She not only does these things diligently and well, but according to the passage, she does them for her family, and in the culture. It is asserted that “she seeketh wool”, “she bringeth her food from afar”, and so forth and so on. Granted, if she is married, a woman is to do these things under the authority and headship of her husband as Paul teaches in Ephesians 5, but the passage clearly shows how she responsibly helps her husband in providing for the household.[3]

Returning to the 1 Timothy 5 passage with which we began, we now understand why in verse 16 Paul would say, “If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them”, which clearly proves that men alone may not be the only means of provision in the home.

Returning to Mr. Phillips’ contention that men who allow their wives to work outside the home “emasculate themselves,” we reply that the emasculation occurs when men prohibit their wives unnecessarily from taking part when able in the family’s provision.

As to the contention Phillips makes that women who do work outside the home serve two masters, we simply would reiterate that this contention, apparently based on Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13[4], is an unnecessary confusion of truth, as the text has as its decided meaning the idea that no man can love both God and money at the same time, and that to force its application upon the marital union is the use of a very poor hermeneutic. Moreover, such a poor exegete as the man who accepts the patriarchal understanding of these verses undermines his own authority, in the home and in the church, which is “the ground and pillar of truth.”

A further concern we have with the Patriarchy Movement involves not only a misapplication of certain biblical truths, but the resulting confusion of biblical principles between societies established by God in creation and providence.

Principles that apply to the family are confusedly carried into the societies of the church and culture; principles that are intended to apply to the church are carried inappropriately into the family and the culture; and principles that are given to guide Christians in regard to the culture are applied to the family and the church. The confusion of these varied principles is detrimental to these three societies.

An example[5] will illustrate our point.

We have noticed that some patriarchal assemblies assign to the men the function of headship in that they give “heads of households” certain rights and privileges in the public assembly and in the culture that Scripture assigns to them in their own households, but which Scripture does not assign to every head of household in the church or in the culture.

A man may be the “elder” of his family, leading them in family worship by God’s command, but nowhere does Scripture carry this responsibility into the church or into the world.

Further, because a man has the final authority in decision-making in the home, as a function given him by God, it does not follow that only men are to be the decision-makers in the church, or the only ones with a vote in the cultures politics.

The confusion caused by this overextension of the headship principle into the church and culture is noticeable.

First, when the headship principle is overemphasized, women lose their right to give their consent to those who have the rule over them, a right gained most fully in the Congregational polity, but conceded to in Presbyterianism.

Second, and similarly, a woman’s right to choose who has the right of rule over her in the culture is lost when patriarchal practice denies her the right of suffrage at the voting place.

Third, some Patriarchal assemblies believe and practice that because a man is the head of his house implies he should be the one to serve the Lord’s Supper to his family in the public assembly. In Protestant doctrine and practice this responsibility has fallen on the pastor and the other elders, who are given the oversight of the flock, and not on every head of household without exception.[6] Yet, in some patriarchal assemblies we observe the headship principle extending itself further than Scripture dictates in dictating that heads of household should be the one serving the Supper.

Fourth, we have also noticed that some patriarchal assemblies only allow men to give prayer requests from the congregation, on the premise that men are the priests of the family and home (in those assemblies where women are allowed to speak the Patriarchal mindset still creates tension for the congregants if a woman does speak). How does this separation within the priesthood get defended? Only by referring to the headship principle given for the marriage union, in the family, which headship principle, to repeat necessarily, Scripture nowhere applies to the societies of the church or culture when speaking of the roles of men and women[7].

The statement “men are priests in the home” requires some qualification. Certainly, the principle means that men are to pray for their families. And, their priestly, prophetic, and kingly duty is to lead their family in daily worship to the Lord. But doesn’t the idea of priesthood, presumably taken from 1 Peter 2[8], also belong to believing women and children? If so, why shouldn’t the women and children give prayer requests and even pray publicly, when appropriate? If they are priests, they, too, should be allowed their priestly privileges.

The principle of a man’s priesthood in the home we believe is applied arbitrarily, and, we think it creates a separation in the local church. Furthermore, this practice results practically in removing the essential equality that exists between the members of the church and creating a class system that goes contrary to the spirit of Jesus and Paul, who in both doctrine and practice elevated the status of women and children in the covenant community.

We do not doubt that the Patriarchy Movement has arisen due to the abdication of responsibility on the part of men, and other reasons that have given resurgence to Patriarchal mindsets and convictions. However, we must be careful that the cure for these types of ills, in the family, church, and culture, are not worse than the disease.

To take away from the God-ordained role of helpmeet given to married women, or the priesthood of believers that includes believing women and children, is just as serious an error that we must avoid if we are to be faithful to Scripture.

A return to Patriarchy in any form is a retrograde action. Over the centuries Christianity has discarded patriarchal ways, though somewhat slowly, through the actions of Jesus, whose entourage consisted mainly of women, and Paul, who had the audacity to go to the women praying by the river, for it would appear he did this before he visited the fellows at the city’s synagogue (Acts 16:13ff).

Though as Jews both Jesus and Paul were part of a society that degraded women (for instance, the testimony of a woman in a Jewish court of law was inadmissible simply because she was a woman, an ad hominem argument), neither one acted or taught in a way that should be construed as degrading women.

These two, Jesus and Paul, established principles (the former foundationally, the latter consequentially) that have led to the liberation of woman from Patriarchal forms found in Jewry and Mohammedism. Patriarchy, if practiced on the scale that the Patriarchy Movement desires, would return us to the old wineskins (and perhaps to the old wine of legalism). Christianity sets captives, and women as well, free. We should not return to what a past from which we have been freed, which is tantamount to a dog returning to its vomit.

According to Dinesh D’Souza

Christianity did not immediately and directly contest patriarchy, but it helped to elevate the status of women in society.[9]

Tyranny is demanding from men what God does not sanction or condone.

Christianity has gained ground for women’s rights, giving them a biblical equality, and Patriarchy takes away from these God-given rights, Patriarchy is contrary to God’s will for the home, the church, and the culture, and Patriarchy is nothing more than a revived tyranny, requiring what God does not.

[1] This statement will come as a surprise to some, but the fact of the matter is that the Scripture records that there were prophetesses in the church at Caesarea: Acts 21:8-9.

[2] The idea of Dominion as a doctrinal and practical issue has in recent years become a point of both contention and division. The advocates of Dominion Theology—who more often than not are also Reconstructionists and Postmillennialists, two other errors which plague the Church—are too numerous to mention or cite here. They generally postulate that the Creation Mandate of Genesis 1 to “subdue the Earth” is synonymous with the Great Commission of Matthew 28. The problems with such an understanding are 1) the Genesis passage belongs to all men without exception, who are comprehended in Adam, while the Matthew passage is given to the Church, and firstly, the apostles, who are Christians; 2) the required action in Genesis is to “subdue” while in Matthew it is to “teach” (such confusion of verbs would be humorous if it were not so dangerous to souls); and, 3) the objective in Genesis is the subduing of Nature, while in Matthew it is to persuade men whom God makes willing to be persuaded (Psalm 110:7). Dominionism, inherent to the Patriarchal mindset, has as a consequence a tyranny over souls rather than the subduing of Nature, and the author has seen more than one marriage and family collapse as a result of a Dominionist, Reconstructionist, and Postmillennial husband demanding his wife’s submission. They make themselves as gods, not understanding that God alone can subdue men, and under God men subdue Nature.

[3] The Patriarchy movement has adopted some strange ideas in regard to women who are single or divorced. For instance, it is taught by some of these Patriarchal groups that a woman who is single or divorced is to have an Elder in their assembly act as a “surrogate” father, providing protection and direction to the supposedly helpless females in their midst. One wonders how such women as Lydia, Mary Magdalene, or even the judge, Deborah, might have responded to such treatment.

If a single woman works outside of her home, under a male, is she submitting to his authority in the same manner as a wife submits to her husband? Surely this is not a biblical doctrine, but Patriarchal leaders teach such nonsense. The inability to make such simple and proper distinctions disqualifies the Patriarchal mindset as a biblical one.

[4] “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

[5] The example just given to directly answer Mr. Phillips from Matthew 6:24 and Luke16:13 also serves as an example of the confusion we are speaking about.

[6] The problem will arise in some patriarchal assemblies, if it hasn’t already, of how those women and children who are believers with a right to the Lord’s Table are to be served when no “head of household” is in the home, or cannot make it to the public assembly when the Supper of the Lord is being served. We assume the serving will fall to the “elders” of the assembly, which is a recapitulation to Protestant doctrine and practice.

[7] An appeal to Ephesians 5 is unwarranted and unsupportable. Paul plainly states that in addressing the headship of the husband and wife he is deriving his principle from the relationship of Christ to the Church. To say there is a one-to-one carry-over would imply too much. For instance, the husband, if equated with Christ in every way, must then atone for his wife’s sins, which, of course, is blasphemy.

[8] “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ…But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light…” (1 Peter 2:5, 9).

[9] Created Equal: How Christianity Shaped The West, Dinesh D’Souza (Imprimis: A Publication of HillsdaleCollege, November 2008).

Posted in Blind Devotion, Theology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Hope of Glory

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:15-16).

The Apostle Paul calls us to intensely love the truth. However, love for the truth without love for our neighbor is a love that is feeble and weak, if it is love at all.

Just as God has united himself with men (the Infinite with the finite, the objective with the subjective), he has united Justification with Sanctification. He has united the truth and our actions, and any separation of these two things is unbiblical. If we love the truth, and we love each other, we grow up into Christ.

To grow in our love for the truth we need to be exposed to it. This is a process: the pastoral ministry, and primarily the preaching of the Word, is used by the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ in such a way that it nourishes all the limbs of it according to the measure and proportion of each one. In the preaching and teaching of the Word each member gets what he needs. When the Spirit of God speaks in the ministry of the Word the whole body is made alive.

By the pastoral and teaching ministries the church is quickened: it gets life from the Holy Spirit who has bound himself to the Word of God.

From this it follows that just as this body cannot live without Christ neither may any one grow up spiritually who separates himself from the other members of Christ’s Body, which is his Church.

Love for Christ begets in our hearts a love for His people. If we are joined to Christ, we must be joined to his body.

“Well,” you might say, “I am waiting for this body to be more loving, more lowly and meek and forbearing, before I can join myself to it.”  It is an error to wait.

On the other side of the aisle, some perhaps are members on paper, but not in their hearts.

Stop waiting, and show your love for Christ by loving each other. Be joined to one another, not just in word, but also in deed, for love is like the sinews that hold our own bodies together: Without sinews, our limbs would come apart. Without love in the church, we shall be split apart. With it, we cannot be separated!

The root of the problem is not epistemological. Neither is it political, social, or economic. It isn’t even intellectual. Deficiencies in these things are symptomatic. The root of the problem is spiritual, and it goes back further than Neo-liberalism, Neo-modernism, Liberalism, Modernism, Evolutionism, the Renaissance, or the Enlightenment. The problem started with a man, but it wasn’t with Freud, Darwin, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, John Dewey, Thomas Aquinas, or Epicurus.

“All attempts to solve the various problems and end the seemingly interminable crises of the twenty-first century will not be successful” unless it is recognized that the problem of sin which began with Adam and Eve is always the ultimate problem, and that unless this problem is solved, no other problem can be.

When our first parents disobeyed God in Eden, the basic issue at stake was phrased in the form of a question: Hath God said… (Genesis 3:1).

The problem with sin is that it denies God is God. Sin denies what he is by denying that he has spoken a sure word that is disobeyed at one’s peril. Doubting God’s Word led to the fall of our first parents into sin, and this doubt of the Word of God is at the root of what ails the church today. To be clear: the sin of the church is its failure to adhere to the teachings of God’s Word. She doesn’t believe what God has said, or, she doesn’t know what God has said to begin with.

The remedy for sin is Christ, and, following this, to teach what God is in Christ, what the Church is as Christ’s Bride, and to do all this primarily from God’s Word, the Bible. Although great men of faith—men such as Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Bunyan, and others—have given us their thoughts on what God is, who Christ is, what the Church is, and what the Church ought to be, we believe that the Bible is the only infallible guide of faith and practice, and that in it is contained the doctrine of Christ, which is all we need to know for life and godliness. The works of men may echo Scripture, but they cannot attain to the same great height.

And so to Christ and to the Bible we would encourage the church to return. We would plead with her to return to her first love. God has revealed in Christ, the living Word, the embodiment of what he has revealed in the written Word. By looking at Christ, and at his Word, we can know the Gospel, the only Truth that can solve the problem of sin and set men free. Only by knowing Jesus by faith can we rightly know what God is, who Jesus is, and what the church is and ought to be.

Without doubt the church on Earth (the church militant) has declined. She suffers from the enemies of blind Devotion, Traditional Faith, and Ecclesiastical Tyranny, by which her children are in many places kept in bondage. This trilogy of evil, this Hydra of Hell, has led some to make shipwreck of Faith and a good Conscience, and led in other cases to the overthrow of the faith of some; but, we have hope that it is only of some, not all, nor the most: This causes us to give thanks to the Lord and King of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone upon whom the Church is built, through whose mercy we desire to build up the weak-kneed and faint-hearted who with us are in expectation of our glorious hope.

When Jesus comes to take his Bride to himself, she shall fully and finally be pure and spotless, and free from all ills. For this reason, and following the example of the Lord Jesus and the apostle John, we shall not speak sharply to His Bride, or condemn her as wretched and miserable. We shall not lay anything to the charge of God’s elect. But we shall not shirk our duty in exposing to the Bride her enemies, some of whom are within her pale.

Though God is to be avenged for evil done to the apple of his eye, we do not ask to be the avengers. Taking the form of servants, we shall endeavor to build up God’s people wherever, however, and whenever we are able. If the power of God is to appear in his people, we must uphold the divinely ordained union between the people’s faith and the Bible, this mutual relation being the ground of all spiritual growth under the guidance and blessing of the Holy Spirit. If we fail in this, we believe we must be condemned for unfaithfulness, and have to confess that we ourselves are not of Christ’s body.

Our only aim is to serve our Savior, and those who are able and willing to be taught.  We do not seek our own fame and estimation, nor are we afraid of the judgment of men, although we would be glad to receive their instruction from God’s Word (2 Timothy3:16-17).

Understanding that the church militant has largely disavowed that God’s Word is to be her only rule of faith and practice, and that this failure belongs to the church membership as a whole, we shall endeavor that the members of the church, which have been shaken and are out of place, be restored into their place, and that good order be restored. This is our hope of reformation (2 Corinthians 13:9), which is not a return to the past, but a present and future hope in God, for his glory and for his people.

The only mark that we shoot at is to teach God’s children so that they may serve their Savior in spirit and in truth (John4:23, 24). This requires faith and obedience: sound doctrine and practice. Our argument is not for right doctrine alone, but for right practice as well. If God is pleased to bless his Bride in this way the Church will once again become a city set upon a hill, and a light to the nations.

This also we wish, even your reformation (2 Corinthians 13:9)

Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Posted in Theology | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment