Archive for the ‘Steve Kellmeyer’ Category

Does Scripture Commend Roman Practices? A response to Steve Kellmeyer

October 14, 2009

Steve Kellmeyer (Roman Catholic) has provided some comments in response to my post on Forbidding to Marry (link to my post).

Mr. Kellmeyer asks:

Didn’t Christ tell the apostles that eunuchs who made themselves so for the kingdom of God were blessed?

I answer: No, Christ did not tell them that. In the passage to which you are attempting to refer, Christ told the apostles that there are “eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.” (Matthew 19:112) Nevertheless, he neither calls them “blessed” nor encourages folks to emulate them. He certainly does not suggest that it should be a requirement for bishops/elders, apostles, or deacons that they be self-made eunuchs. Thus, this passage would be essentially irrelevant to the question, even if it were more blessed to make oneself a eunuch (but compare what the early church thought of self-made eunuchs)

Mr. Kellmeyer continues:

Doesn’t Revelation have a those who refrained from intercourse with women sing a special song to the Lamb that only they can sing?

I answer: again, no. The passage to which you are referring. Revelation 14:1-5 refers to the 144,000. Here’s the passage:

Revelation 14:1-5
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

The part to which Mr. Kellmeyer was trying to refer says that these 144,000 “were not defiled with women.” It does mean “defiled,” that’s not a gloss on the Greek word ἐμολύνθησαν. The verse also clarifies that these 144,000 are “virgins.” So, if one is going to try to argue that this verse is speaking in favor of general celibacy, one must also take the position that marriage is an example of defilement. Such a position is plainly contrary to Scripture, which declares:

Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

The better understanding of this text is, of course, a figurative understanding. The 144,000 represent the elect. We saw them previously in chapter 7, when they were sealed in their foreheads. Notice that this appears again in the current passage where the men have “his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” One hopes that Mr. Kellmeyer would not take this literally, whether or not he would consider the beasts in the passage literal beasts.

The sense of the purity and virginity of these men has to do with their faithfulness to their betrothed, the lamb to whom they are to be married as the bride of Christ. Thus, they are depicted as not being fornicators who defile themselves, such as with the whore of Revelation 17.

Mr. Kellmeyer continues:

And isn’t it the case that the early Christians who were witnesses to the writing of Scripture, or taught by witnesses to the writing of Scripture, are in the best position to interpret that same Scripture?

I answer:

The Scripture is not only the New Testament, but Old and New together. Some of those who were taught by the Apostles had the same problems understanding the apostles that the apostles had understanding Jesus.

Mark 16:14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

Nevertheless, even if we did accord a special place of prominence to those so-called apostolic fathers who were allegedly taught by the apostles themselves, or the second generation fathers who were allegedly taught by someone who was taught by an apostle, we find only a few of their writings extant, those that are extant existing with rather troubling textual transmission histories, and even then those mostly addressing issues that don’t have much to do with topic of mandatory celibacy of bishops/elders and deacons.

Mr. Kellmeyer concluded:

You know neither Scripture nor the power of God. You are quite wrong.

I answer:

I’ve demonstrated to the contrary. Mr. Kellmeyer’s rebuke is, of course, paraphrased from either Matthew 22 or Mark 12 (parallel passages) in which Jesus points out that there will be no marriage in heaven:

Matthew 22:29-30
Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

One wonders if Mr. Kellmeyer appreciates the impact of this verse on his attempted literal interpretation of the book of Revelation. Recall:

Revelation 19:9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

There is a marriage supper there, and a bride, but not after a corporal and carnal manner. Revelation is full of figurative language which should be understood as such, and should be understood consistently with other passages of Scripture, such as:

2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.


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