Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Benedict XVI, Parables, Perspicuity, and Freedom

July 18, 2011

The Vatican Information Service provided the following partial account of Joseph Ratzinger’s (aka Benedict XVI’s) remarks from 10 July 2011:

“Yet this Gospel narrative also highlights the ‘method’ of Jesus’ preaching; in other words, His use of parables”, the Holy Father added. “His disciples ask Him: ‘why do you speak to them in parables?’ Jesus replies by distinguishing between the disciples and the crowds: to the former, who have already chosen to follow Him, He can speak openly of the Kingdom of God, but to others He has to use parables in order to simulate [sic] a decision, a conversion of heart. This is because parables, by their nature, require an effort of interpretation, they appeal to our intelligence but also to our freedom. … In the final analysis the true ‘Parable’ of God is Jesus Himself … Who, in human form, both hides and reveals divinity. Thus, God does not force us to believe in Him; rather, He draws us to Him with the truth and goodness of His incarnate Son. Love, in fact, always respects freedom”.

(ellipses in VIS’s report)

I. Parables

Ratzinger (B16) is wrong about the reason why Jesus spoke in parables, with respect to the crowd. Jesus himself explained his reason for speaking to them in parables:

Matthew 13:10-17
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: for this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Likewise, in the parallel account in Mark:

Mark 4:10-12
And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

And in Luke:

Luke 8:9-10
And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

The point, therefore, of the parables was not either to “simulate” [sic] or stimulate a decision or to convert their hearts. The point was not provide the crowd with an intellectual challenge, but to leave them in ignorance. The point wasn’t to free the people, but to leave them bound up in their blindness.

II. Perspicuity

It is interesting, though, to reflect on B16’s apparent view of perspicuity, in which even Jesus’ parables are sufficiently clear that human reason/freedom is sufficient to divine their meaning. That goes beyond the Reformed view of perspicuity, in that we maintain that Jesus’ explanation of the parables was necessary for us to understand their meaning. Moreover, one expects that B16 is not consistent in this principle of perspicuity, since consistency would leave no room for an infallible magisterium as a necessity.

III. Love Respects Freedom

B16’s final comment sounds familiar to those who frequently deal with non-Calvinist presentations on God’s love: “Thus, God does not force us to believe in Him; rather, He draws us to Him with the truth and goodness of His incarnate Son. Love, in fact, always respects freedom.”

The idea that “love always respects freedom” is not a Biblical tenet. Biblical love seeks what is best for others. Thus, for example, the good Samaritan is not praised because he respected the freedom of the robbed man, but because what he did was in the robbed man’s best interest – and specifically because he put the robbed man’s interest ahead of his own interest.

While we would not insist that God forces people to believe against their wills, it is by God’s mercy and grace that our wills are changed, that we are converted, so that we love God and believe on His name. Thus, it is true that we are drawn with the truth and goodness of Christ.

Nevertheless, we are hard pressed to say that the love of God always respects freedom. After all, we must not forget that the gospel message has a coercive edge to it. If you will not repent and believe on the Son for salvation, you will perish. Thus, those to whom we preach are not threatened with merely physical death (like a bandit pointing a gun at someone’s head) but with the eternal torment.

Moreover, there is even a constraining aspect to God’s love for those of us who love God:

2 Corinthians 5:10-15
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

But remember, that the service of the Lord is true freedom, for it is written:

Matthew 11:28-30
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

And again:

John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Therefore, we ought not to say that “Love always respects freedom,” but that that the Love of God produces freedom in men who were all their lives in the bondage of sin.


Quick Thoughts on the General Love of God

April 17, 2010

Those who have had to debate Arminians or (some) Amyraldians may have heard them express their errant ideas of the universality of God’s saving love. Nevertheless, God does have a care for the preservation of all things that exist. If he did not preserve them they would perish; their life-and-death matters are all in His hands. This isn’t saving love – Christ only came to save human beings. Nevertheless, it is a lesser species of love that God himself uses analogously to confirm his love to the believers:

Matthew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Notice that not one of those two sparrows falls without the Father and that this should give us confidence because we are more valuable to the Father than many sparrows. Some folks seem to think that the only care God could have toward anything is a saving love – but Christ did not die for birds. He died for his sheep.

Nevertheless, God’s works of Providence – his universal preservation – we may rightly call a kind of general love, taking care to distinguish it from the special and unique love he has for the elect. God’s plan for sparrows is that they will live for a time before falling to the ground. Likewise, God’s plan for the reprobate does not involve eternal life, but eternal death. Nevertheless, God preserves for a time the life of even the reprobate showing them such temporal favors as his longsuffering, health, and in some cases riches.

Should someone object that God does not truly love the reprobate because he does not save him from the guilt of his sins, the reply is to ask whether the person will acknowledge that God cares for the sparrows?

And if they will not consider the sparrows, let them consider the ravens:

Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?

But if they will not consider the sparrows or the ravens, consider the lilies:

Luke 12:27-28
Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

These verses not only show God’s general loving provision for all his Creation but also the fact that God’s love for his chosen people is even greater and more special.

Praise be to the Lord!


John Gill on God’s Love

January 9, 2009

John Gill, sometimes falsely accused (particularly by Amyraldians, and quasi-Amyraldians) of being a hyper-Calvinist, had this to say about God’s love:

2. As to the objects of God’s love, it is special and discriminating. He loves some, and not others. It is true, he has a general love and regard to all his creatures. He is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. They all share in the bounties of his providence. He makes his sun to shine on the evil and on the good. He sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. But then, he has chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure. Hence he bestows peculiar blessings on those to whom he bears a peculiar love. David says, Psalm 106:4, Remember me with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: very plainly intimating, that it was special and discriminating; of a different nature from that which he bore to others. A full instance of this distinguishing love, we have in Mal. 1:2, 3, I have loved you, saith the Lord; yet ye say, wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, and hated Esau. And, as I said before, no other reason can be given of this distinction, which God makes among the lost sons of Adam, but his own sovereign will; who will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and will be gracious to whom he will be gracious, let a wrangling world say what they please.

Read this and more of Gill’s powerful insight into the love of God at the following link (link).


"Jesus Loves Me" – Critique of Hymn 633

July 12, 2008

One thing I really disliked about Pastor Shishko’s cross-examination of Dr. White in their debate on baptism was Pastor Shishko’s suggestion that believers should teach their children to sing Trinity Hymnal #633, which the hymnal indexes, “Yes, Jesus loves me!”

First of all, the only religious songs authorized in Scripture are those found in the Psalter – of which there are but 150. Even leaving aside the second commandment, however, and the specific application of that commandment to songs of worship, #633 of the Trinity Hymnal is not a song that has particular doctrinal strength, as we will see below.

Stanza 1
Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to him belong,
They are weak but he is strong.

The Bible does not tell either all children or even children of believers that Jesus necessarily loves them. I realize that this flies in the face of Arminian theology, but within the context of my comments to Pastor Shishko, we can take for granted that Pastor Shishko also rejects Arminian theology as unscriptural.

It is true that Jesus is strong, and there is a sense in which not only little children but all of Creation belongs to Him. Is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Therefore, they are His. That said, many little children are not the recipients of the special saving love that Jesus has toward the elect. Both Jacob and Esau were children of believing Isaac, but God loved Jacob and hated Esau from before their birth, as Scripture tells us.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

This refrain expresses the same theme above, which is objectionable. It is especially objectionable to encourage young children who have not repented of their sins, as well as unbelieving visitors to one’s church, to sing this song. I suppose such a problem could be handled by the minister (or one of the other elders) announcing that this song is to be sung only by those who have repented of their sins and believed on Christ. In fact, such a warning may be appropriate in the case of certain Psalms as well. Those who have not repented and believed need to recognize that the primary, outward manifestation of Jesus, the coming judge of all the world, is discfavor because of their sins, not a Santa-Claus-esque joviality.

Stanza 2
Jesus loves me, he who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let his little child come in.

Clearly the first couplet of this stanza presents the Arminian view of the atonement, and not the Reformed view. Indeed, even Arminians usually recognize that Scripture states that “strait” (narrow) is the gate that leads to eternal life. Furthermore, to emphasize, Jesus did not die simply to open Heaven’s gate so that people could clamber up of their own free will. Instead, Jesus died to save his people (those the Father had given him) from their sins.

The second couplet would not be as objectionable if sung by those who had already repented and believed in Christ. For others, such a claim is presumptuous. That is to say, it is presumptuous for unbelievers to claim that their sins will be washed away and that they will be welcomed into heaven.

For believers, however, the second couplet is still objectionable because it seems to deny that justification has already occurred. Those who have repented and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation, have been justified in God’s sight: their sins have been washed. Thus, in the case of those not already baptized, we illustrate that washing away of sins in baptism.

[The refrain, being repetitive, has been omitted, but is to be sung after each stanza as set in the Trinity Hymnal]

Stanza 3
Jesus loves me, loves me still,
Though I’m very weak and ill;
From his shining throne on high
Comes to watch me where I lie.

The first couplet of this stanza is objectionable basically for the reasons above. Obviously, it is true that Jesus love for his people does not depend on us being healthy. That may be an encouragement to those who are sick, as perhaps it was to Job who looked forward to the coming Messiah.

With respect to the second couplet of the stanza, Jesus is enthroned on high, but does not “come to” us personally. He certainly sees our affliction and watches over us. Perhaps the inexactness of theology here may simply be chalked up to an attempt to be poetic. That’s one place where the Psalms have a marked advantage from a practical point (even overlooking the Regulative Principle of Worship), because as the inspired word of God they cannot justly be accused of compromising theology in order to be poetic. They certainly use literary devices, but they do so in a way that is proper.

Stanza 4
Jesus loves me, he will stay
Close beside me all the way:
If I love him, when I die
He will take me home on high.

A more succinct summary of conventional Arminian soteriology than what is presented in this stanza could not be hoped for. The basic theme seems to be that Jesus is going simply to love me throughout my life, and so long as I do my part, I will be in heaven after death. Of course, I must being doing my part at the moment of death, so the stanza seems to indicate, or it will be for nothing.

For a believer, the first couplet is certainly accurate. That is to say, as Reformed Christians we acknowledge that Jesus loves us and abides in his love for us, throughout our life.

Turning to the second couplet, however, we place our confidence in eternal life not in our own love for him, but in his love for us. We know that we will be with him, because he loves us. We know that we will die loving him, because he loved us. We try to avoid suggesting that we get to heaven because we love him, but rather acknowledge that he both works a love of God in us, and brings to God whom we love.

One certainly could try to defend the words of this stanza from a Reformed position, since it is true that if we love God when we die, we will go to heaven. It is also true for the elect that God loves us no w and always. However, as noted above, it seems Pastor Shishko wants to exhort people whose status as regenerate or unregenerate is unknown (such as covenant children who have not yet professed faith in Christ) to sing this song.

In short, while Pastor Shishko scored some minor points in the debate by pointing out that Hymn #633 is in the hymnal that Dr. White’s church uses (a fact of which Dr. White was apparently unaware), the disuse of that hymn by the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Fellowship (the most obvious explanation for Dr. White not thinking it was among the hundreds of hymns found there) is more consistent with Reformed theology and generally more wise than Pastor Shishko’s approach of encouraging covenant children to sing this song, prior to any expression of repentance and faith in Christ.

Furthermore, while the tune to which the song is set is catchy, it’s a doctrinally flabby song that probably just should be avoided: particularly in a culture in which God is misportrayed as omni-benevolent.

“The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble … Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright. Save, LORD: let the king hear us when we call.” (Psalm 20:1a and 7-9)


Update: 13 July 2008 – Apparently this hymn is number 189 in at least some editions of the Trinity Hymnal.

View from the Mountain Crag

May 10, 2008
The air was clear, and I could hear the bleating of sheep beneath me. On this particular day, I had sought solace for my reading on the crag of a mountain, high enough up the side that I could enjoy a cool mountain breeze. Since it was the south face of the mountain, there was also plenty of light for my reading, and stretching out below me was a burbling brook fed (I suppose) by a mountain spring or by the melting of snow from cap of the mountain towering behind me.

I had climbed to this perch, and figured no one would interrupt my scholastic pursuits, but the air’s clarity had an unexpected side effect. I could hear not only the birds chirping, but also the words of the shepherds tending their flocks of sheep on a plateau below me.

How or why they brought their flocks up to that mountain plateau, I will never know. Perhaps it was the clarity of the water, perhaps it was the greenness of the plateau pasture, or perhaps it was the convenience of a mountain-side cave into which they could herd their flocks at night. Whatever the cause, my outpost gave me a full view both of the shepherds and their flocks.

I could hear the mother sheep calling to their lambs, and the lambs bleating back. But amidst the sheep, I could hear the shepherds talking: sometimes to themselves, sometimes to each other, but often to the sheep.

In fact, it was the call “Here sheep!” (in the shepherd’s native tongue) that first caught my ear. What a marvelous sight it was to see. For what appeared to be a single mass of sheep coming from the distance shortly split into the two flocks, each following their shepherd – as the shepherds moved away from the book and into the meadow.

Of course, it was not only a call that the shepherds used, but occasionally a sturdy staff (was it oak? I could not quite make out its composition) was called to bear to the rumps and ribs of wayward animals.

I could see that the shepherds were friends, for they were not fighting for the sheep amongst themselves. Thus, I was somewhat puzzled over the division. My first theory was that they simply want to split up the sheep into two flocks to better distribute the sheep throughout the meadow. Soon, however, I recognized that this was not the case. Each shepherd viewed the flock as his own.

From my vantage point I could hear the shepherds as they went around throughout their flocks, calling each sheep by name, tending to their injuries, checking their health, and assisting the ewes in giving birth. I realized that the shepherds considered the sheep their own. They took a personal interest in their sheep.

The broad meadow was itself mostly flat. But at the edges of the meadow furthest from me, there was a dreadful precipice, extending a hundred or more feet to some more gentle slopes below. I had noticed this precipice first when viewing the mountain from afar, for it served turn the brook on the plateau into a sparkling ribbon of a waterfall that seemed perpetually graced by a rainbow in the daylight hours, and into a strand of soft silver in the moonlight.

But this beauty was best admired from the foot of the mountain. From the plateau, this cliff was a danger: an accident waiting to happen for any sheep that trotted off on its own.

The shepherds naturally appreciated this danger to their flocks. From time to time I would hear them shouting out warnings to their sheep to stay away from the edge, for it was dangerous. Once in a while, I would see the shepherds tan the hides of a sheep that started walking too close to the edge.

Mindful of my purpose in climbing to my lonely perch, I turned my nose back to my books. It was not long, however, till I heard the unmistakable bleat of a falling sheep – the sound of its “baa”-ing rapidly disappearing in the distance, followed by the muffled but audible “thump” of sheep making an impact.

I saw from my vantage point one of the shepherds holding his head in hands, weeping for the sheep that had fallen. After a while, he seemed to regain his composure. Then, I saw another sheep approaching the cliff edge. This time I saw the shepherd call to that sheep by name – warn him of the danger – and even strike a few blows with his staff to try to scare him back to the flock. But this stubborn sheep refused to hear. Instead it kept going as it was going.

Soon, I was sad to hear a recap of yet another unsuccessful experiment in the field of ovine aviation. More grieving from the shepherd followed. I admit I was astonished to see it. Looking across to the other side, I noticed a similar pattern with the other shepherd. A wandering sheep would leave the herd and make its way toward the edge.

The other shepherd likewise would call to his sheep, warn it of the danger, and smack it with the stick. There was a difference, though. If it seemed that the sheep was two stubborn to heed the warning and the beatings, the second shepherd would use the crook of his stick, to grab the sheep, and turn its neck back to the flock, thus saving the sheep from a gruesome demise.

I knew that the grieving shepherd could see how the other shepherd was preserving his flock, and finally my curiosity got the best of me. I shouted down to the grieving shepherd to ask why he did not do as the second shepherd did.

It was difficult to communicate because of my own lack of familiarity with the dialect of the shepherds, but eventually I came to understand the situation. The grieving shepherd explained that it was love of the sheep that prevented him from turning their heads back to the flock. “For you see,” he told me, “I cannot force them to love life. I love them too much to do that to them. If they wish to destroy themselves, I must be content with the choices they freely make.”

Then, I asked the other shepherd why he did not do as the first shepherd did. He also replied that love was behind his actions. He told me, “I love my sheep so much that I would die for them myself. I realize that they may not be as free as they like, but I truly believe that at the end of the day, they are happier for it. If I am willing to sacrifice myself for the lives of my sheep, is it so bad if I occasionally force them back from the cliff face?”

These reasons made me wonder, which shepherd really loved his sheep more? The shepherd who did everything in his power to preserve the sheep, or the shepherd who held back, because he was more concerned with the sheep’s freedom than the sheep’s life.

And you, dear reader, as you have read this fictional account: what say you? Which shepherd loved his sheep more? Why then will some claim that our loving Shepherd, who calls his sheep by name, might let some perish so that they can have something they view as freedom? Aren’t we a little shocked by a shepherd who lets his sheep plunge to their deaths over an issue of “free will”? I trust we are.

Moreover, God can work more powerfully than any earthly shepherd. He has the ability to change the heart: to replace a desire to try to fly with a desire to be among the herd eating the green grass.

As the Apostle Paul explained it, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

Now, we don’t believe that the supposed “freedom” (some sort of self-deterministic autonomy from God) even exists. No, there is nothing that happens apart from the will of God – there is nothing that is “free” from divine predetermination. But suppose such freedom did exist! Suppose that man’s autonomy were similar to the wooly-headedness of the sheep on the plateau pasture. Would not a loving Shepherd make every effort to save the sheep, not only appealing to its head with tender words, to its hide with the blows of a disciplining staff, but also to its neck?

Can we believe that a sheep’s neck can be too stiff for a shepherd to turn it? Perhaps. But too stiff for God to soften it? God forbid! For God is the Almighty one. He does whatsoever he pleases and no one can stop him.

So then, let us recognize the love of God, which is able to overcome every obstacle and save those whom the Father has given to the son.

With Paul, “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) So then, repent of your sins, and trust in the Good Shepherd. Hear His voice, and enter into His love, dear reader.

Praise be to the Lord!


Psalm 103

April 26, 2008

For those who enjoy music – for those who are merry – for who simply wish to worship God – here’s a beautiful rendition of Psalm 103 – feel free to sing along:

Bless God and don’t forget his grace!


Great New Flurry of Content from GreenBaggins

April 14, 2008

GreenBaggins has provided a flurry of new content, which appear to be sermons. I found them interesting, and they mesh somewhat with the series of Patriarchy-related posts I have been presenting. Additional sermons are available as well, at the GreenBaggins website.

Submission? What’s that? (Ephesians 5:21-24)
Husbands, Love your Wives (Ephesians 5:25-27)
Marriage and the Church (Ephesians 5:28-33)
Children, Obey your Parents (Ephesians 6:1-3)
Parenting: Nurture not Exasperation (Ephesians 6:4)



Reverencing One’s Husband

April 12, 2008

I came across this interesting post from a woman explaining to younger woman some considerations for a mate, and for those already married some suggestions for improvement. (link) It seems mostly correct, and so I commend it for reading, with a couple of quibbles and comments.

The verse in question is:

Ephesians 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

But is cited as:

“Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

I would take issue with the reduction from reverence to respect. The Greek word at issue is
φοβέω, which is the cognate and root of our English word “fear.”

It’s so translated in many places in Scripture, for example:

Revelation 19:5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.

It goes beyond simply respecting. Reverence is a great translation here, and its disappointing to see many modern translations using “respect” in place of reverence.

That’s my first quibble, and my second is like unto it. My second quibble is that reverencing/respecting is more about the woman than the man. With those quibbles in mind, I’d recommend reading the article (for unmarried women) as though the article was an explanation of ways to make your responsibility of reverencing your future husband easier. I would certainly agree that it would be wise in a society like the modern one, for women to consider whether their potential mate is someone who they could easily reverence, or whether the task will be a very difficult one. (In a more partriarchical society, that consideration should be undertaken by the father.) Part of that consideration is the woman’s own ability to reverence her father. A girl may be able to identify certain characteristics about her father that make it easy or difficult to reverence him. She can then use that to her advantage in considering potential suitors. If it takes brains to gain her reverence, then she should be looking for a man with brains – if strength, strength – if Scriptural understanding, knowledge of God’s word, and so forth.

Hopefully young men will read this too, and profit from it. Young men often want and need to marry. It would be wise for young men to seek ways to be a reverence-able mate. It’s a big challenge, because young men are often foolish, headstrong, and unaware of their weaknesses. Here’s the advice: find ways to make it easy for your future bride to reverence you.

This leads me to the intuitive portion of the post. The intuitive portion is this: the easiest husband for a woman to reverence ought to be the one who is most capable of loving her as himself. Contrariwise, the easiest woman for a man to love as himself is the one who most reverence’s him. In other words, men and women are complementary.

It is the same between us and Christ. His extreme love of us should inspire from us the greatest possible reverence. It will also inspire love, certainly, but the command to us is:

Psalm 2:11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

which also applies to the authority relationships in which we find ourselves (whether husband and wife or master and servant ):

Ephesians 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

Finally a word of caution:

1 Peter 3:6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

The point here is that there is no virtue in obeying one’s husband and reverencing him if that reverence is from terror/fright (πτόησιν). In other words, it is not as though a woman should reverence her husband in a servile manner, like a whipped dog, but in a dignified manner flowing from a loving desire to give the honor that is due the position (not the man who occupies it).

May God give each us grace in our respective roles in life,


P.S. If a woman has been providentially given a husband who makes reverence very difficult, this command can be as difficult as it can be for a husband to love a shrewish wife as himself. The purpose of this post is not to condemn but to exhort: no wife is completely reverential, and no husband is completely self-sacrificing.

Thanks to Patrick Chan for pointing me to this post.

Love God – Don’t Sin – and Don’t Make Excuses

March 28, 2008

I read some rather feeble responses in letters to the editor at PSU today, on the topic of the Bible’s testimony against homosexuality. (link)

Let me summarize the flaws in the letters.

1. Misuse of “Love one another.”

Apparently the author of the first letter thinks that convicting others of sin is unloving.

But Scripture says:

Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

We can show our love for one another by correcting one another’s faults. Of course, we must do so in a loving manner, but the command to love one another is qualified this way:

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Jesus called people to repentance, and we can show love by humbly following in his footsteps.

2. Failure to Distinguish Between Moral and Ceremonial Old Testament Law

Oddly, the author of the first letter groups homosexuality (which he apparently recognizes is condemned in the Old Testament) together with “eating pork or shrimp, wearing linen and wool at the same time, commingling crops and premarital sex.”

Except for the “premarital sex” item, all those items are ceremonial law restrictions. In contrast, the prohibition on extramarital sex (including both premarital sex generally, and homosexual sex in particular) is a feature of the moral law, summarized in the Decalogue under the heading, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

The ceremonial law has passed away, having been fulfilled in Christ.

3. Argument from Silence / Argument from Failure to Appreciate Christ as Logos

The author of the first letter argues, “Jesus never spoke of homosexuality.”

Presumably the person meant that none of Jesus’ recorded speeches in the gospels deal with homosexuality. But Scripture notes, first of all, that not everything Jesus said is recorded:

John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

But, Jesus did speak against sexual lust:

Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

It would seem odd to imagine someone so presumptuous as to argue that Jesus meant only that heterosexual lust was inappropriate.

4. Argument from Human Weakness

The author of the first letter concludes: “Humans are incapable of being perfect. That goes same for those who are in the Bible — both teaching and being taught. Those who taught also failed in some parts of their biblical life.”

This is mostly true (the perfect teacher, Christ, excepted). It’s quite irrelevant to the issue, though. We ought to be careful not to be puffed up with pride because the sin of homosexuality is not alluring to us, because we should be aware of our own failures in other areas. Nevertheless, homosexual desires and behaviors are sinful. Nobody’s perfect – true; which proves the high standard of the moral law.

5. Argument from “Some/Many Scholars Say”

The author of the second letter promotes a tenuous theory that the Old Testament prohibition on homosexuality (as well as many of the ceremonial laws) were added around 7 B.C. He claims that “many religious scholars” accept this theory. I would be mildly surprised if the number of such scholars couldn’t fit in a phone booth. There are some “scholars” who will write anything in order to get published. If such scholars (who make the 7 B.C. claim) even exist, their scholarship is laughable in the extreme. The ancient origin of the Old Testament is well and abundantly established.

6. Argument from “You believe the wrong parts of the Bible”

The author of the second letter shows his true colors pretty quickly when he says: “I do not have a problem with Christians who preach the major themes of love and the golden rule, but when a person rashly adopts every thought presented in the Bible without any questioning, they will face judgment from me.”

The problem is, Scripture as the rule of faith is a central tenet of Christianity. If the Bible says it, then we believe it, and that ends the matter. That doesn’t mean that we don’t search thoroughly to determine what the Bible says. We do search. But, when we follow what Scripture says, as best we understand it.

That’s how we submit ourselves to God’s revelation in Scripture. That’s how we love God. After all, as Scripture says:

Exodus 20:6 (and Deuteronomy 5:10) And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

Deuteronomy 11:1 Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.

Deuteronomy 11:22 For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;

Deuteronomy 19:9 If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the LORD thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three:

Deuteronomy 30:16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

Joshua 22:5 But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Daniel 9:4 And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Or, most simply of all:

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

May God give us grace to keep his commandments,


Anti-Spanking Propoganda

March 1, 2008

I have previously noted that corporal punishment of children by their parents, especially their fathers, is a Scriptural mandate. Liberalism does not approve. Liberalism views spanking a form of child abuse, and seeks to outlaw it. In some places, such as Sweden, Liberalism has succeeded in that objective. In other places, parents continue to have the right to raise their children in love.

The Apostle Paul explains:

Nevertheless, modern liberalism opposes spanking out of a false sense of love, and a false concept of what love is. Most amusing in this opposition to love was an article posted at MSN Health. The article attempted to demonize spanking by trying to link it to bad behavior.

The article made various allegations. Perhaps they are even true. Although I have provided a link, I don’t suggest that anyone read it (link). Nevertheless, if one reads it one will find a curious, seemingly anachronistic reference to sexual deviancy.

You see, in general liberalism doesn’t like to speak of sexual behaviors as “deviant.” After all, liberalism is the largest voice for the sexual deviancy of fornication and especially homosexual fornication. The only reason to use that kind of terminology is to try to confuse non-Liberals.

Why would that be done? Because the piece is essentially an apologetic aimed at drumming up opposition to spanking from social conservatives.

Don’t get me wrong: spanking can be abused. We must discipline our children (corporeally when necessary), but we must do so in love, not in rage. Furthermore, we must teach our children what is right and wrong when it comes to sexual behaviors. We cannot oppose liberalism on child discipline but swallow the camel of sexual deviance endorsed by liberalism in the various forms of extramarital sexual relations.

We should not buy the anti-spanking propoganda, but we must learn from the cautions it provides. We must teach our young men how they should behave themselves. Furthermore, we must be cautious to implement spanking and other forms of corporeal discipline for the benefit of our children.


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