Archive for the ‘Commands’ Category

God’s Commands vs. Victor Reppert

October 27, 2011

Victor Reppert wrote:

No, I do not hold that YHWH commanded the slaughter of the Amalekites. I hold that either God didn’t do that, or there are unknown reasons why He did. 

1 Samuel 15:1-3 

Samuel also said unto Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, ‘I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.'”

There is absolutely no question that the Lord commanded the slaughter of the Amalekites.  Moreover, the explicitly stated reason for this slaughter is that they attacked Israel during the Exodus.  That does not mean that God did not have other reasons.

Victor continues:

I can see some reason why God might have commanded such a thing, so that in my view the case against it isn’t a slam dunk. So I would not call someone a moral monster who thought that God had given such a command, I think it morally possible that God might have done so, but on the other hand treating someone anyone as outside the pale of moral consideration strikes me as problematic and not in accordance with what I know about God in the New Testament. In other words, I don’t see how these actions could be justified without putting some limits on who is my neighbor, and the parable of the Good Samaritan says we can’t really draw such limits.

But Victor does not need to speculate.  God gives a reason.  The reason is retaliation for prior treachery.  Of course, the sucklings were not a part of that treachery, but the crime was performed by the nation and they are in a federal relationship with respect to the nation.  Absent God’s mercy, the judgment on the nation extends even to those who had no personal part in it.  Indeed, given the lapse of time between the Exodus and Saul, it seems unlikely that there were any alive in Amalek who had been in any personal way involved in the attack on Israel.  So, it is not only the sucklings who are receiving judgment from God for the sins of their fathers, but also the adults of Amalek as well.

One of Victor’s problems is that he is attempting to impose an external moral framework on the situation, instead of trying to extract a moral framework from the situation.  What God does is right.  That should be the premise.  Examples like the commanded destruction of the children of Amalek teach us about the heritability of guilt for sin. 

Victor continues:

I’m not committed to a theory of inspiration that would require me to defend such a thing. In another part of Deuteronomy, the Blessings and the Cursings, it indicates that people will get earthly blessings if they are obedient to the Covenant, and earthly cursings if they are not obedient. But you only have to look as far as Job and Ecclesiastes to see that that’s questionable even within the Bible.

There’s a double problem with Victor’s “theory of inspiration.”  This particular justification is not just part of Scripture, but is a part of Scripture reporting the verbatim words of God.  So, it is not as though the command or justification can be attributed to the narrator of the book. 

Victor’s skepticism does not extend simply to the unidentified narrator, but also to Samuel the seer himself and ultimately to the Lord.

I’m not so naive as to be oblivious to the fact that we know that this is the word of the Lord because Samuel tells us, and we know Samuel tells us because the author of 1 Samuel tells us.  Ultimately, we know that 1 Samuel is inspired because the Holy Spirit persuades us – we the sheep hear our master’s voice.  Nevertheless, my point is to observe the depth of Victor’s skepticism.  How can his “theory of inspiration” have any value if it permits him to doubt the most clearly articulated statements in the text?

Ultimately, Victor and I stand on two opposite camps.  I’m in the camp that – you know – believes what the Bible says and proceeds from there.  Victor is in another camp, one that should be scrupulously avoided.

-TurretinFan

Advertisements

Shelton on Fruitfulness and Multiplication

May 17, 2008

Lee Shelton IV has an interesting article on the command to be fruitful and multiply (link). Shelton seems to take the view that we should – in essence – spiritualize the command to be fruitful and multiply in the New Testament era. I respectfully disagree.

The relevant Scripture is:

Genesis 1:28 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.

This was a creation ordinance. It is not part of the Mosaic law, and it was not fulfilled by Christ. We can see that it was not fulfilled by Christ, for example, from the fact that there is no record of (and no reason at all to suppose) Christ marrying. But more importantly, we can see it from the fact that it predates the Mosaic administration of the covenant of grace, and even predates the fall of man.

While we certainly should make disciples of all nations, spiritually being fruitful and multiplying and replenishing the earth and subduing it to the Gospel, that is not the primary sense of the text, but simply an application we can make via analogy. The primary sense is the literal sense.

We can determine this exegetically. Almost the same command shows up again after flood:

Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

From the two contexts in which see that command, we see that it is a command for literal procreation: a command to have children at more than a replacement rate.

If anyone will argue further, we can see that a similar commands were made with respect to animals:

Genesis 1:21-22
21And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

So also, to Noah God said:

Genesis 8:17 Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.

And it is arguable whether God addressed the following command to the animals or Noah and his family, though the former seems more likely in context:

Genesis 9:7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

Note as well as that this is not simply a command, but a blessing. Viewed as such, we should not consider it as an absolute command. It was not required, as Shelton seems to imagine, that men were required to have absolutely as many children as possible, without considering anything else. Indeed, if that were the case, one would expect to see Jesus with a large family and many children.

Even the papists recognize that the command was not absolute. Thus, they limit the command to married folks, and then further to married folks who engage in copulation. Ultimately, it is all for naught.

The command simply is not universal and unexceptional. There are men who are eunuchs – by nature, by their own will, or by imposition of others. There are women as well who are barren. Indeed, it is God who opens the womb.

Thus it is written:

Psalm 128:3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.

And likewise:

Genesis 29:31 And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.

And again:

Psalm 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

This is not simply for the Old Testament time. No, likewise in the New Testament it is the norm for men to have natural children:

Titus 1:6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

By natural children, I do not of course exclude adopted children, but simply differentiate between children physically and children spiritually.

There can be overlap, certainly. As Paul explains:

1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

You see, the mission field can begin in the bassinet or crib. We are to come to the Lord, and we are to bring our children, following the example here:

Mar 10:13-14
13And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
So, I must disagree with Shelton’s apparent conclusion (which he qualifies by “one might argue that”) “the Old Testament command was merely a prelude to the Great Commission.” It is a prelude – for the promise to Abram:

Genesis 17:6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

is spiritually fulfilled in us, as Paul tells us. Nevertheless, it is a creation ordinance. It has not passed away, though it will (apparently) in heaven. For there:

Matthew 22:30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

May God’s kingdom come!

-Turretinfan

The Real Francis Turretin on: The Commands of God

May 17, 2008

Standing Solus Christus has kindly provided a new transcription of the real Francis Turretin, discussing the subject of God’s commands. (link)


%d bloggers like this: