Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies 2017

Page 1

Table of Contents Editor's Page ................................................................................................................................... 1 Responding to Revisionist Talking Points about Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage by Sean McDowell .................................................................................................................... 2 Resurrection, Natural Revelation, And Christian Ethics by Andrew J. Spencer* ........................................................................................................... 21 Does Millard Erickson Affirm the Possibility of General Revelation Inclusivism in Christian Theology, Third Edition (2013)? by Adam Harwood .................................................................................................................. 42 Diaspora Discipleship: Discipleship In Pluralistic Communities by Howard D. Owens .............................................................................................................. 55 Deuteronomy 30:14 As An Explanation For Israel's Sporadic Obedience by Adam Howell ..................................................................................................................... 82 A Dichotomist View of Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Growth by Michael Parrott................................................................................................................. 106 Book Reviews ............................................................................................................................. 127 D. A. Carson, ed. The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures. ..................................... 128 Milton Eng and Lee M. Fields, eds. Devotions On the Hebrew Bible: 54 Reflections to Inspire and Instruct............................................................................................................................. 132 J. Richard Middleton. A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology. ..... 136 Elisabeth A. Newbit Sbanotto, Heather Davediuk Gingrich, and Fred C. Gingrich. Skills for Effective Counseling: A Faith-Based Integration. ................................................................. 143 Information for Contributing Scholars........................................................................................ 146

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

Editor's Page James Kinnebrew, General Editor The Christian poet George Herbert once said, “Good words are worth much, and cost little.” The good words in this edition of the Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies will cost you only the time that you invest in reading them. Their authors and I pray that such time will yield a wonderful return. It is a privilege and an honor to bring these articles to you, the students, faculty, and friends of Luther Rice College and Seminary. Please peruse this journal and pick out the articles that interest you. Read them leisurely and thoughtfully; and where you can apply their good counsel, do so to the glory of God. This is our publication’s purpose. Please let us know how we are doing in promoting Christian scholarship that is interesting, useful, and redounding to God’s glory in your life and ministry. If you have suggestions, we would love to receive them.


J. M. Kinnebrew, Ph.D.

Page | 1

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

Responding to Revisionist Talking Points about Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage by Sean McDowell* The Reformation Project (RP) has become one of the leading “Gay Christian” movements in America today. Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian,1 is the leader and most vocal proponent. The organization’s website states the mission and strategy clearly: “The Reformation Project exists to train Christians to support and affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Through building a deep grassroots movement, we strive to create an environment in which Christian leaders will have the freedom to take the next steps toward affirming and including LGBT people in all aspects of church life.”2 With the intent of transforming the church from the inside out, the RP has suggested ten Talking Points (TP) that they believe best advance the case for the revisionist interpretation of homosexuality. Many pro-gay talking points from the past are now gone, such as the claim that David and Jonathan were homosexual (1 Sam. 18:1-4), or that Jesus healed a Roman centurion’s young male lover (Luke 7:10). Although flawed, these ten TPs are much more sophisticated, nuanced, and persuasive than the arguments of previous generations. The leadership of the Reformation Project spread these ideas through books, online videos, blogs, personal conversations, and national conferences. Supporters are encouraged to learn these TPs and to take them back to their congregations to have conversations with the pastoral staff, as well as members of the church, in the hopes of encouraging people with * Assistant professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University. This article is based on a presentation given at the Evangelical Theological Society Convention in 2016. 1


Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian (New York: Convergent Books, 2014).

“Mission & Strategy,” The Reformation Project, accessed May 5, 2016,

Page | 2

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 traditional views to adopt the revisionist approach about homosexuality and same-sex relationships. The goal of this essay is to summarize accurately all ten TPs and then to respond succinctly to each one. I am fully aware that each of these points raises additional questions, has further important nuances, and that in my limited space, I cannot fully do justice to any of them here. My aim will be to respond to the core fallacy of each TP. Matthew Vines has become a friend of mine. I respect him as both a person and a public spokesman for his beliefs. In fact, we have had multiple conversations about many of these issues. 3 In 2014, I attended the Reformation Project conference in Washington, D.C. I was warmly received and welcomed at the conference. This essay is not a criticism of him personally, or of any other individuals in the affirming camp, but of the ideas they embrace and endorse. Ten Talking Points Talking Point #1: Experience and Scripture The first TP relates to the intersection of experience and scriptural intepretation: “Experience shouldn’t cause us to dismiss Scripture, but it can cause us to reconsider our interpretation of Scripture.”4 According to this TP, it is important we not elevate our experience over Scripture. While Scripture instructs us not to rely entirely upon our experience, it also warns us not to ignore it altogether. For instance, in Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus warned against false prophets. He taught that good trees bear good fruit and bad trees bear bad fruit. Jesus gives a simple test for discerning false prophets: “Thus you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matt.


Laura Goodstein, “Evangelicals Open Door to Debate on Gay Rights,” New York Times, June 8, 2015, accessed May 5, 2016, 4

“2014 D.C. Conference Program,” The Reformation Project, 22.

Page | 3

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 7:20). Since traditional Christian teaching on homosexual behavior brings harm to LGBT people (depression and suicide, for instance), then traditionalists should consider the source of that “bad fruit”: their faulty interpretation of Scripture. By contrast, embracing monogamous same-sex relationships brings “good fruit” to LGBT people, and so it must be right. These experiences should cause us to adopt the revisionist interpretation of Scripture. Since Vines believes this is a question of interpretation, not biblical authority, the question is a matter of what the text means. If the larger context of Matthew 7 is taken into consideration, it becomes clear that bad fruit is not about the experience someone has in living out Scriptural teaching, but about disobedience. By contrast, good fruit is about obedience. In the subsequent verses (21-23), Jesus makes it clear that not all those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved, and that he will reject the “workers of lawlessness,” that is, those who disobey his commands. In verse 24, Jesus implies that those who hear his teachings and “[do] them” bear good fruit. Here is the bottom line: good fruit is characterized by obedience to Christ and to God’s commands; bad fruit is sin. Craig Keener notes, “Neither Matthew nor his tradition allows a reader to be content with calling Jesus a great teacher or prophet (16:3-6); one must either accept all his teachings, including those that demand submission to his Lordship; or reject him altogether.”5 Christians who hold to the traditional teaching are not producing bad fruit since they are obeying God’s commands. The reality is that there are many issues of orthodox teaching that can cause considerable hardship in people’s lives. Imagine the amount of distress and anger that would be caused if people followed the biblical guidelines on marriage and divorce (Matt. 19:3-12; 1 Cor. 7). Millions of Christians would experience angst, stress, depression, and frustration over what they believe are unreasonable demands to remain married to someone for whom they no longer feel 5

Page | 4

Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999), 255.

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 “love.” Do we have the authority to change biblical teaching because our experience renders it difficult to live? It is hard to imagine Jesus and Paul adopting such an approach. Experience can certainly cause us to reconsider our interpretation. But it cannot lead us to adopt a view that denies the plain meaning of the text, as TP #1 does. Ironically, on November 12, 2015, the Reformation Project released a mass email with the testimony from Tammi Talley, an associate pastor of a small church in Plano, Texas. The email describes how, at twelve years old, Tammi met a transgender female in her junior high. This began her heart for LGBT people, and she eventually decided to work for LGBT inclusion within the church. After attending the Reformation Project leadership cohort, Tammi concluded, “The leadership cohort equipped me with the tools to biblically support the inclusion of the LGBTQ community in the church confidently. I am better able to explain biblically what our Lord wants everyone to know: there are no ‘outsiders’ in the Body of Christ, and there definitely should not be any exclusion in the church.” In other words, she first adopted the affirming position because of an experience, and then learned the theological justification to back up her position. The Reformation Project may claim that they are not allowing experience to shape the interpretation of Scripture, but this example, and many more, indicate otherwise.

Talking Point #2: Sexual Orientation and the Ancient World The second TP deals with the question of whether or not sexual orientation is an ancient concept, or a modern one the church has not yet considered: “Sexual orientation is a new concept–one the Christian tradition has not addressed.”6 According to TP #2, same-sex attraction and behavior were considered vices of excess, which may be temptations for anyone, rather than the exclusive sexual orientation of a minority of people. Greco-Roman culture would not have 6

“2014 D.C. Conference Program,” The Reformation Project, 23-25.

Page | 5

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 accepted the idea of a lifelong, mutual, monogamous same-sex relationship. Thus, the revisionist view is not overturning church tradition on LGBT people because, until recent times, there has been no such Christian tradition. There are multiple problems with this TP. First, the objection assumes that an understanding of sexual orientation is sufficient to overturn the biblical teaching on sexual behavior as a whole and same-sex behavior in particular. But why believe that? If it were true that there was no understanding of same-sex sexual orientation in the ancient world, then why would it follow that gaining such an understanding means homosexual behavior of any sort is now justified? Even if true, the argument is a non sequitur and is based upon unjustified assumptions. Second, what other behavior, which the Bible teaches is wrong, would be overturned by discovering a modern example of “orientation�? Would divorce be permissive if we discovered a small class of people who simply cannot stay committed to one person for life? What about incest or pedophilia? At this point, many revisionists will cry foul since I mentioned incest and pedophilia along with homosexual behavior. But such protestations miss the point. For the sake of argument, I am not putting homosexual behavior on the same par as incest and pedophilia. Rather, I am comparing the kind of reasoning that is used to biblically justify homosexual behavior and applying it to other sexual behaviors the Bible prohibits. If the discovery of a modern orientation is sufficient to overturn biblical prohibitions against homosexual behavior, then it is sufficient to overturn other sexual behaviors the Bible condemns. Third, the history of same-sex orientation and monogamous same-sex sexual relationships is debatable. While ancient cultures certainly did not have an equivalent sense of

Page | 6

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 sexual orientation and identity as the modern concept, they did have an awareness of inborn same-sex attraction. In Bulletin for Biblical Research, Preston Sprinkle says it well: Aristotle for instance said that some homoerotic desires come from habit, but others spring from nature (Eth. 1148b). In other words, some people are born with same-sex desires. Some ancients even speculated about certain biological defects that cause some men to desire other men. One writer explains that males who desire to be penetrated are born with a physiological defect where semen is abnormally secreted into the anus and sparks a desire for friction (Pseudo-Aristotelian Problemata 4 26; cf 879a36– 880a5; 879b28–30). Soranus, the Greek physician from Ephesus, also believed that same-sex eros is shaped more by nature rather than nurture, but locates the source of the desire in the mind or spirit (De morbis chronicis 4:131, 132, 134) This seems to be shared by Philo, who talks about “the disease of effeminacy in their souls” (VCon. 60; Ab. 136). Another writer believes that (a) both male and female contribute sperm in conception, and (b) both male and female sperm contain a male and female element, and (c) one male/female element will “predominate” in the union of the two (Hippocratic De victu 1 28–29). In other words, sexuality exists on a continuum between male and female. Men may be born less male, and women less female. In both cases, one’s biology contributes to their desire for sex with a particular gender.7 Along with an awareness of inborn same-sex attraction, there are also examples of adult consensual same-sex relations. In reference to pederastic relationships, William Loader observes, “It was supposed to cease by the time the younger man reached his late twenties (and so was reaching the age for marriage), but sometimes did not, and mature adult to adult sexual partnerships, both male and female, were known, the latter generally not looked on with favor.”8 As Loader observes, there are at least some examples of mutual same-sex adult relationships that first began as pederastic relationships. In sum, there is no good reason to think that the “discovery” of the modern notion of sexual orientation is sufficient to overturn biblical prohibitions against homosexual behavior. Talking Point #3: Celibacy and the Church 7

Preston Sprinkle, “Romans 1 and Homosexuality: A Critical Review of James Brownson’s Bible, Gender, Sexuality,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 24.4 (2014), 524. 8

William Loader, The New Testament on Sexuality (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012), 84.

Page | 7

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 The third TP involves the biblical gift of celibacy: “Celibacy is a gift, not a mandate.”9 According to this TP, celibacy is a gift that should not be forced upon anyone. Genesis 2:18 says that it is not good for man to be alone, and in the New Testament, Jesus says celibacy can only be accepted by those to whom it is given (Matt. 19:11-12). Paul says he prefers all to be celibate, but recognizes that people have different gifts (1 Cor. 7:7). Thus, requiring celibacy for all LGBT Christians violates this teaching, which the Christian tradition has affirmed for 2,000 years. In response, while we should not discount the genuine struggle many with same-sex attraction often have to remain sexually pure, this argument fails on two fronts. First, while celibacy may be a gift in some cases, it is mandated in others. For instance, a person not appropriately divorced may not remarry (Matt. 19:9). Such a person is biblically required to be single for life. And what about the single Christian man who never finds a wife? Even if we do not have the “gift,” each of us is called to be sexually pure in such circumstances. Both married and unmarried people are called to sexual purity (Prov. 5:15-20; 1 Thess 4:3-6). In fact, even married couples often struggle with some element of sexual unfulfillment in marriage. Greg Koukl and Alan Shlemon make a helpful distinction between sexual purity and celibacy: Celibacy, on the other hand, is more than merely abstaining from sex. It’s a life wholly devoted to God. Singleness allows a believer to dedicate his time, talents, and resources completely to Kingdom concerns, unfettered by the demands of marriage and family (1 Cor. 7:32). Celibacy entails sexual abstinence since marriage is the only place sexual desires may be satisfied, but it is more than mere abstinence. The requirement of purity applies to all Christians, incidentally, regardless of their gifting. Some are gifted with celibacy and their unsatisfied sexual desires are not a distraction. Others are celibate by circumstance and must make the best of it, in spite of unsatisfied sexual desire.10 9

“2014 D.C. Conference Program,” The Reformation Project, 26-27.


Greg Koukl & Alan Shlemon, “A Reformation the Church Doesn’t Need: Answering Revisionist ProGay Theology, Part II,” Solid Ground (Sep 2015): 7.

Page | 8

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Second, TP #3 equivocates on “lonely” and “alone.” Nowhere in the creation account story are we told that the man is lonely and in need of companionship. Rather, God’s verdict is that he is alone and in need of a helper. What does he need a helper for? To “fill and form” the entire planet (Gen. 1:28). Genesis is making an objective point about the man’s incompleteness, that is, his inability to populate the earth alone, not about his subjective experience of loneliness, which requires a companion. Besides, Jesus, Paul, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist were all celibate, and there is no good reason to believe this caused them to experience loneliness.

Talking Point #4: Gender Complementarity The fourth TP claims that the Bible lacks details regarding the nature of gender complementarity: “The Bible does not teach a normative doctrine of gender complementarity.”11 In other words, while people may agree on “gender complementarity,” there is little agreement over what this actually means. And any attempts to provide a specific model—such as complementarianism, procreational complementarity, or anatomical complementarity—are problematic. Genesis 2, for example, is not about male-female complementarity, but about their similarity in comparison with the animals. The “one-flesh” union is not about sexual union, but about a kinship tie. In response, why is there a need for the text to specifically describe the sexual “fittedness” of the male and female? Sexual complementarity would have been the obvious understanding for anyone reading the text of Genesis 1-2, especially since God gave them the command to fill the earth (Gen. 1:28) and Adam specifically named all the pairs of animals (2:20), seeing their sexual complementarity. The command was for Adam and Eve to multiply 11

“2014 D.C. Conference Program,” The Reformation Project, 28-29.

Page | 9

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 and fulfill the earth, as complements, and this was only doable with sexual complementarity. In The Flame of Yahweh, Richard Davidson observes, “He [Adam] also evidently recognizes that the animals and birds all have mates but he himself does not. Thus, the flow of the narrative leads to the climactic creation of woman, the sexual being God has ‘built’ or ‘aesthetically designed’ to be alongside him as his complement.”12 Nevertheless, Genesis 2 does seem to indicate a sense of sexual “fittedness.” In Genesis 2:18, God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” TP #4 claims that suitable helper refers only to Adam’s similarity with Eve. But this is only half true. As the Hebrew term for “suitable” implies, Adam is being given a helper who is both similar and different from him. Preston Sprinkle explains: The Hebrew word translated “suitable” by the NIV is kenegdo and it is only used here in the Old Testament (2:18 and 2:20). Kenegdo is somewhat difficult to translate into English, since it is a compound word made up of ke, which means “as” or “like,” and neged, which means “opposite,” “against,” or “in front of.” Together, the word means something like “as opposite him” or “like against him.” It’s a complex word that captures how it is that Eve can qualify as the perfect partner for Adam. So here’s the relevant point. If it were simply Eve’s humanness that made her a helper, then the word ke (“like”) would have been just fine. The verse would then read: “I will make a helper like (ke) him.” But to make the point that Adam needed not just another human, but a different sort of human—a female—God used the word kenegdo. This word potentially conveys both similarity (ke) and dissimilarity (neged). Eve is a human and not an animal, which is why she is ke (“like”) Adam. But she’s also a female and not a male, which is why she is different than Adam, or neged (“opposite him”).”13 Furthermore, TP #4 is mistaken about the “one-flesh” union being merely a kinship tie. After describing how the woman was made from the side of man, Genesis 2:24 describes how the man will leave his father and mother, “hold fast to his wife,” and then the two shall become “one flesh.” The pattern is clear: there is a one-flesh union, which consists of one man and one


Richard M. Davidson, The Flame of Yahweh (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007), 37.


Preston Sprinkle, People to Be Loved (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 34-35.

Page | 10

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 woman, and which is oriented towards procreation. The man leaves his household (consisting of male and female), bonds to his wife, and then they will create their own household and also have children in order to help fulfill the command to populate the earth (1:28). Such a union is only possible with complementary genders capable of procreation. Nevertheless, while the “oneflesh” union is much more than sexual complementarity, it is no less. Richard Davidson explains that “the ‘one-flesh’ experience of husband and wife (2:24) involves not only the sex act but also a oneness—a wholeness—in all the physical, sensual, social, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of life.”14

Talking Point #5: The New Testament and Gender Inclusion According to TP #5, the New Testament sets a pattern of expectation towards greater inclusion of sexual minorities: “The New Testament points toward greater inclusion of gender and sexual minorities, including those who do not fit neatly within binary categories.” 15 In his 2001 book Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals, 16 William Webb argues that Christians should adopt a “redemptive-movement hermeneutic” that focuses on broad trends in Scripture. While biblical teaching on women and slavery may seem harsh by modern standards, the Bible moves in a liberating direction towards love, equality, and compassion relative to the original culture. By comparison, says Webb, biblical teachings on homosexuality move in a more restrictive direction, which indicates the prohibitions are transcultural. However, according to Vines and Brownson, the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39) offers a counterpoint to Webb, and provides an important precedent for inclusion of sexual minorities in the church today. In the 14

Davidson, The Flame of Yahweh, 37.


“2014 D.C. Conference Program,” The Reformation Project, 30-32.


William J. Webb, Slaves, Women & Homosexuals (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001).

Page | 11

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Old Testament, God extended his blessings primarily through procreation, but now he extends it through personal faith in Christ. In response, the Mosaic Law did prohibit eunuchs from certain religious privileges, as well as other people (Deut. 23). As demonstrated in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch, these restrictions are removed with the dawn of the new covenant. So does this mean God accepts sexual minorities just as they are? The acceptance of the eunuch was in fulfillment of a prophecy written eight centuries earlier by Isaiah: For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off” (Isa. 56:4-5). God clearly now invites all people into the kingdom, including eunuchs, but they must “choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant.” In other words, in the new covenant, God invites all people to turn to Him in repentance and join His kingdom. This invitation is for everyone, including sexual minorities. Commentator John Oswalt sums up the essence of this passage in Isaiah, and the implications of the conversion of the eunuch in Acts: Significantly, the message concerns the outcast persons: the son of a foreigner and the eunuch. This in itself should give these persons a sense of dignity and worth. They are told not to depreciate themselves. Others might do it, but they are not to acquiesce in it. God will not cut them off; they are not lifeless and fruitless. These words are a concrete expression of the limitless grace of God. Those who seek him (55:6) in sincerity as indicated by turning from their own wicked ways and thoughts (55:7) to the blessed ways and thoughts of God (55:10–11) will find themselves included no matter who they are.17 While there is a movement to accept “sexual minorities” into the kingdom of God, there is no liberalization of the moral standards for sex and marriage that God first revealed in Genesis


Oswalt, J. N., The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 40–66 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1998), 457-458.

Page | 12

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 1-2. In fact, as Webb observes, the restrictions Jesus gave regarding sexual morality actually move in a more restrictive direction than the broader culture (e.g., Matt. 5:27-32).

Talking Point #6: Sodom and Gomorrah According to the sixth TP, the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah involved gang rape and have no application for same-sex sexual relationships today: “Sodom and Gomorrah involved a threatened gang rape, not a loving relationship.”18 In other words, the attempted gang rape in Sodom is radically different from the kind of mutual, loving, faithful same-sex relationships we see today. The rest of Scripture refers to inhospitality, arrogance, and violence as the sin of Sodom, not sexual immorality. And the “sexual immorality” and “unnatural desire” mentioned in Jude 7 refers to the attempted rape of angels, not humans. In response, the judgment against Sodom could not have been a result of the attempted gang rape, for God had already judged the city as exceedingly wicked prior to the arrival of the angels (Gen. 13:13; 18:20). The sins of Sodom certainly included inhospitality, arrogance, and violence, as TP #6 suggests, but none of these are capital crimes under the Mosaic Law. So there must have been another sin(s) that was responsible for why God destroyed the city. After describing various sins of Sodom, such as pride and prosperous ease, Ezekiel 16:50 says, “They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.” Of all the sins described as abominations (to’evah), there is only one sin singled out in the Holiness Code as an abomination—homosexual behavior (see Leviticus 18:22; 20:13). And homosexual behavior was a capital crime in the Mosaic Covenant. The people of Sodom


“2014 D.C. Conference Program,” The Reformation Project, 33-34.

Page | 13

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 committed many sins including arrogance, inhospitality, violence, and possibly homosexual behavior. The “sexual immorality” and “unnatural desire” (Greek other flesh) of Jude 7 could not refer to the attempt to have sex with angels because, as stated earlier, God had judged Sodom before their arrival. The men of Sodom were engaging in this “unnatural” behavior with “other flesh” before the angels came to town to judge the city (Gen. 19:13). There is no indication the men of Sodom knew the visitors were angels, and the “strange flesh” sex was occurring in neighboring cities as well. So, what sexually immoral behavior were the people of Sodom engaging in to warrant God sending angels to destroy the city? Sodom and Gomorrah certainly committed many sins; it is not difficult to conclude that homosexual behavior was at least possibly, if not likely, one of them. It is important not to overstate the case against homosexual behavior from Genesis 19, but it is equally important not to glibly dismiss it as well.

Talking Point #7: The Levitical Law The seventh TP dismisses Levitical prohibitions against homosexual practice: “The prohibitions in Leviticus do not apply to Christians.”19 In summary, Leviticus 18:22 prohibits same-sex intercourse, and Leviticus 20:13 prescribes the death penalty for violators. But since the coming of Christ, the Old Testament law is no longer binding for Christians, and so these prohibitions no longer apply. A few points are worth making in response. First, in Leviticus 18:22 the death penalty is applied to both parties, which implies that the homosexual acts were consensual. The passage is not merely discussing pederasty, rape, or sex between a master and slave. It is discussing mutual homosexual relations. Second, the prohibition is for all same-sex sexual behavior. Leviticus 19

Page | 14

“2014 D.C. Conference Program,” The Reformation Project, 35-36.

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 18:22 says, “You shall not lie with a male [zākār] as with a woman; it is an abomination.” While there are thirteen verses delineating the nature of incest (v. 6-19), there is only one for homosexual acts (v. 22). Why? Because the passage indicates that all male-male sexual intercourse is wrong (master-slave, man-boy, man-man, etc.), and thus needs no qualification. According to Near Eastern studies professor Donald J. Wold, “There is no ambiguity in the term zākār; it always refers to the male gender.”20 Zākār is a general term that encompasses all males. In Leviticus 18:22, the male gender is contrasted with the female gender (nĕqēbâ), as seen in Genesis 1:26–27, which indicates gender is part of the order of creation.” Wold elucidates the key point: The legislator could have expanded upon this term to prohibit sexual intercourse between specific categories of males (e.g., between boys, between adult males and boys, between adult males, between boys and old men, between adult males and old men), since Hebrew words existed for these various categories of individuals within the male species. But it would have been unnecessary because the term zākār in Leviticus 18:22 excludes all male [-male] sexual relations.21 There are three reasons why the specific commands against homosexual behavior in Leviticus 18:22 still apply today.22 First, God threatened to judge both Israel and pagan nations for committing the sexual sins in Lev. 18. God never judges other nations for sowing two kinds of seed in the same field or for wearing garments with mixed fabric. But God threatens to judge the people in Canaan for committing the sins in Leviticus 18, including male–male sexual behavior. As Michael Brown rightly concludes, “And if it was a sin for idol-worshipping Egyptians and Canaanites back then, you’d better believe it is a sin for God’s holy and chosen


Donald J. Wold, Out of Order (San Antonio: Cedar Leaf Press, 2009), 103.


Ibid., 104.


For greater detail on these three points, see Sean McDowell (“Do Levitical Prohibitions on Homosexuality Apply Today?” Christian Research Journal 38, no. 2 [Fall 2015]: 44-49).

Page | 15

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 people today.”23 Second, the commandment not to lie with a male as a female echoes the creation account in Gen. 1:26-27, in which God “has made them male and female.” Third, The NT repeats the prohibition against homosexual practice (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:10-11). Thus, there is good reason to believe the Levitical prohibition of homosexual acts still applies today.

Talking Point #8: Romans and Excessive Behavior The eighth TP rejects the traditional interpretation of Romans and suggests that Paul was condemning lustful, excessive sexual behavior rather than the mutual, loving relationships seen today: “The same-sex behavior Paul condemns is characterized by lustfulness, disrespect, and selfishness, not love and commitment.”24 In other words, the homosexual behavior of Paul’s day was driven by excessive desire and lust rather than loving concern for the other, which is not the case for many homosexual relationships today. Modern understandings of sexual orientation can help us understand that living in accordance with “nature,” as Paul discusses in Romans 1, looks different today than in the first century Greco-Roman world. In response, this argument makes the mistake of interpreting a passage from the bottom up (by focusing on individual words) rather than the top down (by focusing on the broader context). The larger context reveals that Paul is focusing on the practice of homosexuality itself, as a violation of God’s creative norms, not the conditions under which it is practiced.25 The conditions in which homoerotic behavior is experienced—selfless, loving, committed—do not overturn God’s design for all sexual relationships. The context of Romans 1 makes it clear that 23

Michael L. Brown, Can You Be Gay and Christian? (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma Media, 2014), 116.


“2014 D.C. Conference Program,” The Reformation Project, 37-39.


Greg Koukl & Alan Shlemon, “A Reformation the Church Doesn’t Need: Answering Revisionist ProGay Theology, Part I,” Solid Ground (July/Aug 2015): 8.

Page | 16

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 “nature” (at least in this passage) is a reference to God’s creation and his intended function for mankind. God has made himself known in creation, but people reject that truth (Rom. 1:18-23). Homosexual behavior is a particular example of this kind of rejection of created norms that are evident in nature (v. 26-27). William Loader concludes: It is very possible that Paul knew of views which claimed some people had what we would call a homosexual orientation, though we cannot know for sure and certainly should not read our modern theories back into his world...He would have stood more strongly under the influence of Jewish creation tradition which declares human beings male and female, to which he may well even be alluding in 1:26-27, and so seen samesex sexual acts by people as flouting divine order.26 In reference to Romans 1:26-27, Donald Fortson III and Rollin Gram explain that “natural” (kata physin) refers not to individual disposition or social consensus, but in relation to God’s creative norm: “The contrast of ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ here relates to the contrast between the ‘truth’ and a ‘lie’; people had given up the truth about God for a lie in turning away from worshipping the Creator to pursue idolatry. ‘Natural,’ too, is defined in terms of the created order.”27 Kata physin may have a variety of meanings, but in Romans 1:26-27 the context reveals that it refers to God’s original design, which implies that homosexual behavior violates God’s intent for the sexual relations of mankind regardless of the motivation behind those acts.

Talking Point #9: Biblical Vice Lists The ninth TP claims that biblical vice lists, such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1 Timothy 1:9, do not apply to loving, mutual homosexual relationships today: “These lists don’t address LGBT people, but cases of pederasty, abuse, and prostitution. The term ‘homosexual’ didn’t even exist until 1892.” In sum, the claim is that these lists were dealing with a kind of 26

Loader, The New Testament on Sexuality, 323-324.


S. Donald Fortson III & Rollin G. Grams, Unchanging Witness (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Academic, 2016), 328.

Page | 17

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 homosexuality practiced in ancient cultures that Jews and Christians would have universally condemned without question. It would be a mistake to apply these prohibitions to the kinds of committed same-sex unions we see today. In response, it is important to emphasize how seriously God takes sexual immorality. Sexual immorality is included in all eight vice lists found in the NT.28 Unlike food practices, or the day we choose to worship, sexual immorality is never mentioned as a secondary issue over which Christians can agree to disagree (Rom. 14:2-5). Thus, it is vitally important we properly understand what Paul means by arsenokoitai (translated as “homosexuality” in 1 Cor. 6:9). Technically, arsenokoitai means “men who bed men,” which most naturally implies consensual sexual behavior between men. Since arsenokoitai is a new word coined by Paul, the key question is how he came up with the word and how he intends his readers to understand it. The word is likely constructed from the longer phrase found in Leviticus 18:22 in the Septuagint, which implies Paul was rejecting all forms of homoerotic behavior. Richard Hays explains: The Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) of Leviticus 20:13 reads, ‘Whoever lies with a man as with a woman [meta arsenos koitēn gynaikos], they have both done an abomination’ (my translation). This is almost certainly the idiom from which the noun arsenokoitai was coined. Thus, Paul’s use of the term presupposes and affirms the holiness code’s condemnation of homosexual acts. This is not a controversial point in Paul’s argument; the letter gives no evidence that anyone at Corinth was arguing for the acceptance of same-sex erotic activity. Paul simply assumes that his readers will share his conviction that those who indulge in homosexual activity are ‘wrongdoers’ (adikoi, literally ‘unrighteous’), along with the others sorts of offenders in his list.29


Kevin DeYoung, What the Bible Really Teaches about Homosexuality (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015),

74. 29

Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation (San Francisco: HarperOne, 1996), 382-383.

Page | 18

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 There may not have been a perfectly analogous word in Paul’s day to capture what is meant by “homosexuality” or “homosexual” today. But this is irrelevant to the point Paul is making in the various vice lists: unrepentant sexual immorality of any sort, including homosexual behavior, is a serious sin that jeopardizes one’s relationship with God.

Talking Point #10: Marriage and the Church According to the tenth TP, marriage does not exclude same-sex relationships: “Marriage is about keeping covenant with our spouse as a reflection of Christ’s love for the church.” 30 Ephesians 5:21-33 is a foundational biblical text for understanding marriage. As this text portrays, marriage is essentially about commitment, which involves keeping our covenant with our spouse as a reflection of God’s covenant with His own people. Same-sex couples can do this just as effectively as heterosexual couples. While commitment is undoubtedly important for marriage, it is not the primary point of Ephesians 5:21-33. Marriage is specifically portrayed as a gendered institution with husbands and wives, not merely “spouses.” As with Romans 1:26-27, Paul refers back to the creation account of male and female as the normative pattern for God’s covenant with humanity (5:31), which is specifically about Christ as the groom and the church as the bride. To ignore the gender component of marriage is to violate the design of marriage in Genesis 1-2, which is the basis for Paul’s analogy. Jesus assumed gender was necessary for marriage. In Matthew 19:3-6, Jesus is asked about divorce. He cites Genesis 1:27 (“…he who created them from the beginning made them male and female”) and Genesis 2:24 (“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”). To denounce divorce, Jesus need only 30

“2014 D.C. Conference Program,” The Reformation Project, 42-44.

Page | 19

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 cite Genesis 2:24. But he includes 1:27, which is irrelevant to the question of divorce, that is, if gender makes no difference in marriage. But to the contrary, Jesus seemed to think of marriage as a gendered institution that required the union of one man and one woman.

Conclusion The Reformation Project is one of the most aggressive, influential, and sophisticated “Gay Christian� movements in America today. Even though their desire to positively reform the church may be well intentioned, it relies upon some egregious theological errors. As we have seen in this article, each of the ten TPs, although novel and forceful, involves misinterpreting Scripture in some noteworthy fashion. It is vital for pastors, professors, and other Christians to be prepared to answer these claims and to equip the body with sound doctrine (Titus 1:9).

Page | 20

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

Resurrection, Natural Revelation, And Christian Ethics by Andrew J. Spencer*

The use of natural law for Christian ethics continues to be a topic of interest inside and outside the Christian church.1 Some Protestants, particularly those who identify themselves as Reformed, remain skeptical about the ability of humans to rightly do both natural law and natural theology.2 Despite objections, there seems to be some scriptural warrant for the ability of humans to rightly conduct observations of nature and, in concert with Scripture, to use human reason to derive and then apply ethical norms that do not arise directly from Scripture.3 Because of the

* Director of Assessment and Institutional Research, Oklahoma Baptist University 1

See Heimbach’s brief overview of recent interest in the topic: Daniel R. Heimbach, “Natural Law in the Public Square,” Liberty University Law Review 2, no. 3 (2008): 686–88. Just a few of the many recent examples include: Jordan J. Ballor, “Natural Law and Protestantism,” Christian Scholar's Review 41, no. 2 (2012): 193–209; E. Christian Brugger, “Rediscovering the Natural Law in Reformed Theological Ethics,” JSocChrEth 31, no. 2 (2011): 174–77; Kevin L. Flannery, “Marriage, Thomas Aquinas, and Jean Porter,” Journal of Catholic Social Thought 8, no. 2 (2011): 277–89; John Goldingay and others, “Same-Sex Marriage and Anglican Theology: A View from the Traditionalists,” AnglThR 93, no. 1 (2011): 1–50; Geneviìve Médevielle, “La Loi Naturelle: Une Analyse Théologique,” Transvers, no. 117 (2011): 27–41; Randall Smith, “What the Old Law Reveals About the Natural Law According to Thomas Aquinas,” Thomist 75, no. 1 (2011): 95–139. 2

For example see Frame: John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R, 2008), 242–50. See also the arguments summarized in: J. Budziszewski, Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP, 1997), 110–12; Mark Liederbach, “Natural Law and the Problem of Postmodern Epistemology,” Liberty University Law Review 2, no. 3 (2008): 783–85; Oliver O'Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order: An Outline for Evangelical Ethics (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 85–87. 3

This runs contra the thesis of Stephen R. Spencer, “Is Natural Theology Biblical?,” GraceThJ 9, (1988): 59–72. Spencer proposes that the scriptural evidence often given for Paul doing natural theology in Lystra and in Athens are examples of a theology of nature rather than natural theology. However, the limitations placed on natural theology by this article may be sufficient to counter Spencer’s objections. Additionally, it is not clear to me from the texts of Acts 14 and Acts 17 that Paul is developing a theology of nature. Of course, Luke’s brevity in summarizing what are most likely longer sermons may contribute to this relative ambiguity. Furthermore, the line between natural theology and a theology of nature is very blurry, as can be evidenced by the “Methodological Interlude” on the difference in Claude Y. Stewart, Nature in Grace: A Study in the Theology of Nature (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1983), 108–15. Barr, partially in response to Spencer’s article, comments on the lack of distinction between natural theology and theology of nature. James Barr, Biblical Faith and Natural Theology: The Gifford Lectures for 1991 Delivered in the University of Edinburgh (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993), 82–83. Others object to natural theology for other reasons, for example, ecotheologian Laura Yordy criticizes and discards Aquinas’ view that there is value in knowing God through creation. Rather, Yordy believes that humanity’s primary relationship toward creation should be one of establishing the kingdom in creation, thus the entire task of natural theology is

Page | 21

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 noetic effects of sin, it seems that a reorientation of the mind through the effects of the resurrection is required in order for human reason to reliably process general revelation into ethical norms. This article argues an emphasis on the effects of the resurrection event on a Christian’s ability to do natural theology is essential to a proper understanding of the relationship between general revelation and Christian ethics. A Working Definition for Natural Theology Natural theology has been defined in multiple ways by different theologians. 4 Taliaferro, for example, defines natural theology as “the process of philosophically reflecting on the existence and nature of God independent of real or apparent divine revelation or scripture.”5 This is a common definition, since natural theology is often taken to be synonymous with proof for the existence of God apart from Scripture or, in this case, even apart from general revelation.6 This definition assumes unregenerate humans are capable of reliably doing natural theology through human reason alone.

determined to be irrelevant. Laura R. Yordy, “Witness to God's Redemption of Creation,” Woldviews 14, no. 2/3 (2010): 211–13. 4

This article is by no means intended to be an exhaustive study on the views of natural theology throughout history, but some examples of different ways of defining the term include the following sources: four are cited in J. V. Langmead Casserley, Graceful Reason (London: Longmans and Green, 1955), 25. McGrath notes one of the difficulties in discussing natural theology in the 21 st century has been a “definitional miasma,” which appears to be an appropriate description of the issue, based on a survey of the literature. Alister E. McGrath, The Open Secret: A New Vision for Natural Theology (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2008), 2. Spencer provides a helpful overview of various definitions of natural theology in the first section of his article. See Spencer, “Is Natural Theology Biblical?,” 59–72. 5

Charles Taliaferro, “The Project of Natural Theology,” in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (ed. William Lane Craig and James Porter Moreland; Chichester, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 1. See also, Alvin Plantinga, “The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology,” in Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings (ed. Michael L. Peterson; New York: Oxford University, 2010), 246. It appears that the difference between uses of the term natural theology tend to be between philosophers and theologians. As is seen here, philosophers tend to view natural theology in the light of this first definition, whereas theologians appear to use the second definition offered below more frequently. 6

C.f, Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1998), 181.

Page | 22

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 A second definition of natural theology is offered by Stanley Grenz, “Natural theology maintains that humans can attain particular knowledge about God through human reason by observing the created order as one locus of divine revelation.”7 This second definition is similar to other common definitions of general revelation,8 but points toward the key distinction that natural theology is the synthesis of general revelation into knowledge. 9 In other words, general revelation provides raw data while natural theology is knowledge based on that data. Natural theology requires the existence of general revelation, but goes beyond it to knowledge of or about God. Grenz’s definition of natural theology appears too broad as it allows for the unregenerate to reliably obtain particular knowledge of God. This definition, like the first, does not appear sufficiently narrow to be supported by a robust conception of the noetic effects of sin due to the fall of man. In light of this discussion, the definition of natural theology for this article will be the ability of at least some humans to acquire accurate knowledge of God in at least some cases


Stanley J. Grenz, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (ed. David Guretzki and Cherith Fee Nordling; Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP, 1999), 82. See also R. C. Sproul, Classical Apologetics : A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics (ed. John H. Gerstner and Arthur Lindsley; Zondervan: Grand Rapids, Mich., 1984), 26. 8

Grenz defines general revelation as “A term used to declare that God reveals something about the divine nature through the created order.” Grenz, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, 54. Jones offers the definition, “General revelation can be defined as God’s revelation of himself to all peoples at all times, in all places.” David W. Jones, An Introduction to Biblical Ethics (Nashville, Tenn.: B&H Academic, 2013), 58. 9

Moore agrees with this assessment of the relationship between general revelation and natural theology. He writes, “General revelation is the self-disclosure of God to all rational beings, a revelation that comes through the natural creation and through the makeup of the human creature. Natural theology is the attempt to build a theological structure on the basis of general revelation apart from God’s witness in the Scriptures and in Jesus Christ.” Russell D. Moore, “Natural Revelation,” in A Theology for the Church (ed. Daniel L. Akin et al.; Nashville, Tenn.: B & H 2007), 71. Spencer contends that general revelation exists, but that there is no biblical example or warrant for the use of natural theology. His argument is that: (1) the existence of general revelation does not necessarily commend itself to knowing God apart from Scripture and (2) the typical examples cited of Paul apparently pursuing a natural theology (Acts 14:8–18; 17:16–34) are actually instances of a theology of nature. Spencer, “Is Natural Theology Biblical?,” 62–71. Spencer’s argument is convincing for the project of apologetics through natural theology, but not for the narrowed definition of natural theology with an emphasis on the regenerate Christian as the natural theologian.

Page | 23

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 through natural revelation and human reason. 10 The intent of this definition is to take into account the sufficient clarity of general revelation and yet account for the simultaneous obscurity of general revelation caused by the effects of sin. Thus natural theology leading to natural law has a limited, but significant, place in Christian ethics.

Natural Theology before the Fall Before the fall, humanity was able to rightly perceive God’s truth in nature and synthesize it into true knowledge of God. There are at least three reasons that explain why humanity could rightly perceive God’s truth in nature prior to the fall. First, Adam and Eve were made in the image of God and thus were given a measure of knowledge of God and about God through their own existence (Gen 1:26–27). Scripture states that God hid eternity in the heart of humanity (Ecc 3:11), which is a way of saying that humans can perceive God’s truth in nature. Second, prior to the fall there was no inherent inclination in humanity to suppress the truth witnessed in nature; humanity was without sin, and therefore did not have the inward bent that obscures the truth about God that could be seen through an unblemished creation; the external influence of the serpent was necessary to tempt the primal couple into willful suppression of God’s truth (Gen 3:1–7).11 Third, prior to the fall, the creation was a more accurate representation of God than it now is. The biblical information about creation prior to the fall is typically limited 10

This definition is similar to the one recommended by McLean, and the conclusion of the concept of the use of general revelation for natural theology will be similar. See Andrew S. McLean, “Is There Epistemological Value to Natural Theology for Christian Apologetics?” (ThM Thesis, Southeastern Bapist Theological Seminary, 2009). 11

It is difficult to find texts that support this point explicitly. Much of what is known about the Edenic state of humanity is known by the via negativa. It may be inferred that since God seems to have been the actor in the “giving up” of people to their irrational rejection of him (cf. Rom 1:18–24), that in the pre-fallen state, humans did not have an inward bent toward suppressing general revelation. More weight is added to the epistemic change in humanity when God himself proclaims “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:22) This may point toward a simple acquisition of knowledge, but another possible interpretation is that the ability of man to know good and evil was shifted. Additionally the necessity of the serpent to instigate the original sin points toward the inherent righteousness of man.

Page | 24

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 to its goodness, but by considering the ability of creation to proclaim God’s glory after the fall (Ps 19:1) and the frustration of creation at the fall (Rom 8:19–21; Gen 3:17–18), it can be inferred that creation prior to the fall was more effective at revealing information about God than it is now.12 Historically, there has been general acceptance of the idea that humans, in their sinless state, could accurately gain knowledge about God through nature. 13 For example, Thomas Aquinas writes, “God is known by natural knowledge through the images of His effects.” 14 Aquinas does put limits on reason, such as lacking the ability to attain to knowing God in his essence. Reason can only get man to knowledge of God’s existence and a good deal about him, but not of God himself.15 These limits to reason’s ability to perceive God through nature applied even prior to the fall. In that time, humans could see God more clearly, much as the redeemed will see and know God in the eschaton, but humans could not know God’s essence without special revelation even while in Eden.16 In the contemporary debate, there is a general consensus among Evangelicals that the fall had the effect of disordering the created order and interrupting the relationships between God and humans, human and human, and creation and humans.17 There are differing opinions among


C.f., McGrath, The Open Secret, 171–217.


For a concise historical overview of the effects of the fall on human reason, see Moroney, The Noetic Effects of Sin, 124–27. 14

Aquinas, Summa, I.12.12.2.


Summa, I.12.12. Part of the basis of Aquinas assertion that man cannot know the essence of God in this life, even through grace, is his view that the corporeal nature of the present life limits humans from seeing the essence of the non-corporeal God. Aquinas looks for a future “freeing” from life in matter, which, he argues, will allow humans to see the essence of God by grace. Summa, I.12.11. 16

Summa, I.94.1.


Exhaustive research would be required to prove this assertion absolutely, but some sources for consideration are as follows. For example, Sudduth comments, “According to Reformed anthropology . . . human

Page | 25

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Evangelicals as to the extent of that disordering, but the fact of the disordering is generally accepted. Arguments against the effects of the fall tend to come from theologians whose evolutionary assumptions require defining Adam and Eve as literary types only and the effects of the fall as a human invention to describe the psychological effects of the incompletely evolved human state.18 By implication, since the fall resulted in disordering of human reason, creation, and relationships, it may be accepted that prior to the fall, human reason, creation, and relationships were rightly ordered and that natural theology was possible.19 The biblical evidence appears to point toward human ability to receive general revelation and integrate it into natural theology. Both the historical and contemporary conversations are in general agreement on this, as well. Therefore, based on these discussions of the effects of the fall, it appears safe to accept that the possibility of accurate natural theology prior to the fall was undiminished and offered some measure of direct knowledge of and about God to humanity. persons were created in a state of original righteousness and holiness.” Michael Sudduth, The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology (Farnham, England: Ashgate, 2009), 111. O’Donovan recognizes that the fallenness of man leads him to misinterpret the created order and often to reject the truth that he perceives in the created order. O'Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order, 19. See also, Gary A. Anderson, “Necessarium Adea Peccatum: The Problem of Original Sin,” in Sin, Death, and the Devil (ed. Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 24–31; Mark A. Gstohl, Southern Baptist Theologians and Original Sin (Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen, 2004), 22–26. In his dissertation, Depp appeals to a general Southern Baptist consensus on the effects of original sin in recent decades. David Aaron Depp, “A Critical Evaluation of the Developments in the Doctrine of Original Sin as Taught at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2002), xxiii. 18

For example, Conor Cunningham, “What Genesis Doesn't Say: Rethinking the Creation Story,” ChrCent 127, no. 23 (2010): 22; Seán. Fagan, Has Sin Changed? (Wilmington, Del.: M. Glazier 1988), 13; Jerry D. Korsmeyer, Evolution and Eden: Balancing Original Sin and Contemporary Science (New York: Paulist, 1998), 122–26; Stephen J. Pope, Human Evolution and Christian Ethics (New Studies in Christian Ethics; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2007), 154–57; Charles E. Raven, Natural Religion and Christian Theology (2 vols.; Gifford Lectures, vol. 2; New York: Cambridge University, 1953), 123–25; W. E. Wibby, Original Sin and Redemption: A Brief Review of the Doctrine in the Light of Modern Thought (Charing Cross: Faith Press, 1926), 21–28; Wilcox has a relatively orthodox view of sin and redemption, but is forced to abandon the literal fall to support his evolutionary theory. David L. Wilcox, God and Evolution: A Faith-Based Understanding (Valley Forge, Pa.: Judson, 2004), 122– 26. See also Warfield’s comments on the effects of an evolutionary worldview: Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, Evolution, Scripture, and Science: Selected Writings (ed. Mark A. Noll and David N. Livingstone; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000), 128–29. 19

K. A. Mathews, Genesis 1–11:26 (The New American Commentary; Nashville, Tenn.: B & H, 1996), 226–31. Schreiner’s commentary on Rom 5:12–21 is also helpful in this regard. Schreiner, Romans, 267–97. See also: John Motyer, “Fall, The,” Wycliffe Dictionary of Theology, 212-13.

Page | 26

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Natural Theology after the Fall After the fall there were at least two significant, deleterious effects that impact the ability of humans to do natural theology. The first effect was that human reason was diminished in its ability to receive and interpret general revelation and thus accurately develop a natural theology (cf. Matt 6:22–23; 11:25–26; 13:1–17; John 1:10–11; 1 Cor 1:18–2:16; 2 Cor 4:4). Scripture is clear, however, that humans still have some ability to perceive God’s truth through general revelation (cf., Ps 19:1–6; Acts 17:22–33; Rom 1:18–23). The second effect was that the creation’s witness to God was obscured as a part of God’s curse for Adam’s sin (cf. Gen 3:17– 19, 22; Acts 14:15–17; Rom 1:18–23; 8:19–21). According to Scripture, it became more difficult for humans to receive general revelation and synthesize a natural theology both because humanity changed epistemically and because the extra-human creation was changed. Historically, in the tradition of Christian orthodoxy, there has been little challenge to the idea that man’s ability to rightly reason to knowledge about God was diminished by the fall.20 Aquinas credits the fall with causing man to lose his “former integrated state in which reason was in full command”; consequently, human beings “suffer the sway of sensual impulses” due to a “penalty deriving from God’s law.” 21 According to Aquinas, what prevents humanity from being completely in line with God’s truth is “passion and habitual wrongdoing” because, as he states, citing Aristotle, “we are born to virtue.”22 At times it appears that Aquinas may remain too


One interesting example of a failure to deal with the issue of sin with respect to the ability of humans to do natural theology can be seen in McGrath’s work. He argues for a natural theology, but makes little or no mention of sin, rather arguing that the subjectivity of humans is what diminishes the capability for natural theology. This can be seen particularly in chapter 5, “Discernment and the Psychology of Perception.” While it would be unfair to draw the conclusion that McGrath denies the impact of sin, the omission of a discussion of sin seems significant. McGrath, The Open Secret, 80–111. 21

Summa, I-II.91.6.


Summa, I-II.93.6. Instead of seeing sin as having radically changed the nature of man from perfect (i.e., capable of living without sinning) to corrupt in nature, Aquinas posits the fall only resulted in a dis-integration

Page | 27

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 positive about the prospects of natural theology in the unregenerate. He seems to imply that pagans can be saved through their acquired knowledge of God, quite apart from Scripture, since the function of Scripture is to bring about “the salvation of men . . . more fitly and more surely.”23 However, as some contemporary Thomists assert, elsewhere Aquinas appears to shut the door on salvific knowledge of God apart from special revelation. 24 This ambiguity notwithstanding, Aquinas does allow for the noetic defects of sin and its dampening of human reason.25 Many other theologians have agreed that humanity’s ability to do natural theology after the fall has been diminished. 26 For example, Augustine argues that “the mind itself, though naturally capable of reason and intelligence, is disabled by besotting and inveterate vices not merely from delighting and abiding in, but even from tolerating His unchangeable light, until it between man’s perfect reason and his body (i.e., the source of his passions and base urges) such that perfect reason remains but the ability to suppress the bodily urges is diminished. Summa, I-II.94.2. The issue of man’s ability to accurately perceive God through the natural ordering becomes somewhat muddied because Aquinas is somewhat unclear in his discussion of the condition of man’s epistemic ability. For example, he argues that special revelation is necessary primarily to increase the number of men who will rightly reason to God (Summa, I-II.1.2.) but that at the same time there is a loss of original justice in man (Summa, I-II.85.3.) that caused a loss of right ordering resulting in ignorance. Aquinas argues, however, that the right ordering is merely an obstacle in the way of right reasoning that can be overcome through an act of the will. Summa, I-II.85.2. Aquinas is attempting to resolve the biblical position that man’s epistemic ability has been damaged by the fall with his respect for Aristotle’s high view of human reason. 23

Summa, I.1.2. This is consistent with Budziszewki’s critique of Aquinas: Budziszewski, Written on the Heart, 190–92. Kreefts’ note explicitly supports the reading that Aquinas is here advocating that pagans can be saved through reason alone: Thomas Aquinas, A Summa of the Summa: The Essential Philosophical Passages of St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1990), 37n11. See also, Thomas. Gornall, A Philosophy of God, the Elements of Thomist Natural Theology (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1962), 34–36. 24

Bruce D. Marshall, “Quod Scit Una Uetua: Aquinas on the Nature of Theology,” in The Theology of Thomas Aquinas (ed. Rik Van Nieuwenhove and Joseph Peter Wawrykow; Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame, 2005), 18–19. 25


Moroney, The Noetic Effects of Sin, 126–27.

Sudduth comments, “According to Reformed anthropology, while human persons were created in a state of original righteousness and holiness, this first state was lost through the fall, and sin has corrupted every aspect of human nature. Sudduth, The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology. For a helpful overview of views of the effects of the fall on human epistemic ability, see also Budziszewski, Written on the Heart, 182; Moore, “Natural Revelation,” 110–11; Moroney, The Noetic Effects of Sin, 27–42; Robert Saler, “The Transformation of Reason in Genesis 2–3: Two Options for Theological Interpretation,” CurrThMiss 36, no. 4 (2009): 275–80.

Page | 28

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 has been gradually healed, and renewed. . . .”27 Calvin agrees human reason was hindered by Adam’s fall.28 Barth holds that humans have some ability to perceive God’s truth in nature,29 but they are unable to reason to God due to the obliteration of the image of God at the fall. 30 Brunner is in agreement with Barth that fallen humans cannot rightly do natural theology, though the two differ on the degree of the impact of the fall on human reason.31 Among more recent theologians, O’Donovan recognizes that the fallenness of humanity leads to rejection of the created order and to misinterpretation of the moral order perceived in creation: the fall has the effect of limiting humans epistemically.32 He also allows that the created order itself has been disrupted by the fall and stands in need of redemption.33 The disruption of the created order is a consequence of the fall that affects what can be seen in the created order apart from any limitations on man’s epistemic ability caused by the fall. The biblical evidence points toward a diminution in humanity’s ability to do natural theology after the fall. A brief review of historical and more recent theological work tends to support the same view. Therefore, it seems reasonable, based on the evidence provided, to accept 27

Augustine, The City of God (ed. Marcus Dods 3 vols.; Hafner Library of Classics, vol. 1; New York: Hafner, 1948), 438. Augustine’s discussion of the effects of original sin is located in City of God, XI, 2. 28

Moroney, The Noetic Effects of Sin, 1–15. For in interesting treatment of the sensus divinitatis with an emphasis on the perspectives of Aquinas and Calvin on the issue of innate knowledge of God, see George Adam Holland, “Doxological Extended Cognition,” Zygon 42, no. 3 (2007): 749–66. 29

Indeed, in commenting on the phrase “in spite of knowing God” in Rom 1:19–21, Barth writes, The knowledge of God attainable through a simple observation of the incomprehensibility . . . of human life, was not taken advantage of.” Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (ed. Edwyn Clement Hoskyns; London: Oxford University, 1933), 75. 30

Brunner and Barth, Natural Theology, 74–75.


Ibid., 27.


O'Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order, 19. O’Donovan generally uses “created order” to refer to the order imposed by God in the creation. “Moral order” is the source for ethical norms discovered in the created order. O’Donovan includes humanity in the created order (see the discussion on knowledge in note 78 below), but accepts that humans have a unique role in the created order. 33

Ibid., 54–55.

Page | 29

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 that the noetic effects of sin had the result of limiting, if not completely eliminating, human capability for reliable natural theology.

Natural Theology after the Resurrection Scripture offers some helpful information on the restorative effects of the resurrection to sinful humans through regeneration. Two purposes of the resurrection were to accomplish cosmic restoration and to restore some humans to a sinless state for the glory of God. 34 First, cosmic restoration is promised, but the restoration of extra-human creation appears to be primarily in the future (cf., Rom 8:18–24; 2 Pet 3:1–13; Rev 21:1–4), though God’s sustaining grace continues to be applied to the created order (Col 1:15–20). This expectation of the restoration of the created order due to the resurrection is the embodiment of an already but not yet eschatology. 35 That is, Christ has reconciled all things to himself (Col 1:20), but the completion of that reconciliation is in the future (2 Pet 3:9; Rev 21). The future restoration of extra-human creation places limitations on the ability of humans to do natural theology, because general revelation still shows the effects of the fall.36 Additionally, the possibility of restoration of the human mind is promised by Paul (Rom 8:1–11; 12:1–2; 1 Cor 2:6–16; Eph 4:17–32; Phil 34

These two purposes are by no means exhaustive of the purposes of the resurrection, but reflect a limited discussion for the purpose of this article. These purposes of the resurrection can be seen in Jones’ definition of the gospel, “the gospel is the message that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected in order to redeem, restore, and reconcile all of creation on humanity’s behalf and for his own glory.” David W. Jones and Russell S. Woodbridge, Health, Wealth & Happiness: Has the Prosperity Gospel Overshadowed the Gospel of Christ? (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel, 2011), 8. 35

See the discussion in Albert M. Wolters, Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2005), 69–86. 36

This continued reality of the effects of the fall on creation is a blessing from God. Some translations render Gen 3:17 to say that the ground was cursed “because of you” (NASB, NIV, The Message, NLT, ESV, CEV, HCSB), while others read “for thy sake” (KJV, NKJV, ASV, Young’s Literal Translation, Darby Translation). The latter seems a more likely rendering because it matches closely with Romans 8. The former rendering catches one aspect of the text, that man’s sin was the cause of the ground’s cursing, but it fails to get the second sense of the text, that it was for man’s benefit that the ground was cursed. Wolters captures the main point of the passage when stating that, “All of creation participates in the drama of man’s fall and ultimate liberation in Christ. . . .this principle is a clear scriptural teaching,” ibid., 56–57. This is illustrated by Christ’s use of a natural evil, namely the collapse of the tower of Siloam, to illustrate a need for repentance in his audience. (Luke 13:1–5).

Page | 30

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 2:5–6; Col 1:15–23; 3:8–11), but Paul indicates that sin still potentially limits regenerate minds (cf., Rom 7:24–25; 12:1–2; Phil 3:12–15). Paul’s most significant discussion of the resurrection and its effects toward restoration of both Christians and the non-human creation in the future is found in 1 Corinthians 15. This text supports both the future reality of complete restoration because of the resurrection, but also the present reality of the fall’s effects. A more extensive study of scriptural evidence for the epistemic effects of the resurrection would be fruitful, but based on this limited study, it appears Scripture teaches there is a present reality of a partial renewal of the human mind as well as a future and complete renewal of the human mind and the whole cosmos to a pre-fallen state. Based on previous discussion of the reasons for the limitations for natural theology, it can be inferred, therefore, that the possibility of reliable natural theology appears to exist for Christians due to the epistemic effects of regeneration on the mind. Historically, orthodox theologians have argued for a future renewal of non-human creation and regenerate humans as well as the present, limited renewal of the Christian mind that leads, in the thinking of most theologians, to a limited ability for humans to do natural theology. As discussed above, Aquinas argues unregenerate man could do natural theology on a limited basis, despite the effects of sin on the creation and humanity. However, Aquinas also understood that the resurrection was necessary for setting the lives of men in order. 37 With this claim, Aquinas echoes Scripture and resonates with other, more recent theologians who discuss the effects of the resurrection on the human mind.


Summa III.53. C.f., Marshall, “Quod Scit Una Uetua: Aquinas on the Nature of Theology,” 1.

Page | 31

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Among theologians since Aquinas, Calvin argues the noetic effects of sin could be reversed gradually38 and, according to Moroney, Calvin believes that “through salvation, which includes the redemption of human reason, God has provided a way for humans to attain right knowledge of God.”39 For Calvin, the resurrection was a critical event in restoring human reason, but it resulted in a progressive restoration that will be completed in the age to come. Barth on the other hand argues that even after salvation, it is only “Scripture [that] moves and inspires him to praise through the creation the God who is so completely hidden from man.” 40 Barth looks for restoration of human reason41 and creation42 in the eschaton, but not before, which contributes to Barth’s negative view of natural theology. Barth’s comments stand in contrast to Brunner’s optimism about the restoration of all things. Brunner holds that, because some vestige of the image of God43 remains after the fall, man is, upon regeneration, once again able to perceive God through creation.44 According to Brunner, then, natural theology is a possibility for humans in light of the effects of the resurrection and therefore nature becomes a source of ethical norms in parallel with Scripture.45


Moroney, The Noetic Effects of Sin, 11. Jean Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.3.10–13.


Moroney, The Noetic Effects of Sin, 13.


Brunner and Barth, Natural Theology, 107.


Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, 283–85.


Ibid., 302–08.


Brunner refers to this as the “formal image of God.” Brunner and Barth, Natural Theology, 23–24.


Brunner writes, “Only the Christian, i.e. the man who stands within the revelation in Christ, has the true natural knowledge of God.” Ibid., 27. 45 O’Donovan offers a cautionary interpretation of Brunner’s natural theology, particularly in the way that Brunner “unquestioningly . . . treats that coalition of classical and biblical elements of thought, which, on his account constitutes our modern notion of justice.” O'Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order, 90. Barth’s criticism, though vitriolic, appears to have been warranted at least in part. Brunner’s intention for the use of natural theology appears to go beyond being a source of authority complementary to Scripture and appears to make natural theology an equal of authority source to Scripture. For example, Brunner writes, “there are certain basic principles, such as, for instance, the primal rights of man, which are a final canon of appeal whenever it has to be discovered what has to

Page | 32

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Among more recent scholars, O’Donovan holds that because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is possible to derive some authentic knowledge of and about God through the created order despite the disruption of creation and the human mind by the fall. 46 In so saying, O’Donovan supports the idea of a present renewal of humanity’s epistemic ability. Of the future restoration of both humanity and creation, O’Donovan writes, “The sign that God has stood by his created order [i.e., the resurrection event] implies that this order, with mankind in its proper place within it, is to be totally restored at the last.”47 Based on the arguments above, there appears to be scriptural warrant for a belief that the resurrection event initiated a present restoration of human reason such that natural theology is possible, despite the fact that complete restoration of the cosmos and human reason are future events. 48 Likewise, there is significant support among Christian scholars, despite the notable

be rendered to each man as his due.” Brunner, Justice and the Social Order, 86. This leads to a somewhat limited role of the exposition of Scripture in determining the implications of natural theology on ethical systems, in Brunner’s conception. See Brunner’s comments on the NT: “The Gospel is revealed as the teaching which does not regulate earthly things but proclaims the Kingdom of God, and the justice which it proclaims is not the justice which is applicable to the circumstances of this world; it is the nature of the new aeon.” Ibid., 112. This presents an unhealthy bifurcation in the exegetes’ role in society and the church; in the church he is bound by Scripture, whereas in society natural interpretations of justice (even those from the unregenerate) may be accommodated. Likewise, the teaching of the Old Testament is reduced to spiritual principles: “That the Old Testament can have no direct meaning for us as a rule of conduct remains in principle true. . . . Hence we must always seek, behind the individual laws, injunctions and institutions, the principle underlying them, the divine imperative which is binding on us today; we can at no point take them over as the letter of the law.” Ibid., 122–23. Brunner’s position on natural theology warrants further evaluation. One helpful resource is resolving this potential difficulty with Brunner’s position on natural theology is Moroney’s discussion of Brunner and the noetic effects of sin. Moroney, The Noetic Effects of Sin, 31–35. 46

O'Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order, 14. Additionally, he writes, “In the resurrection of Christ creation is restored and the kingdom of God dawns.” Ibid., 15. 47



See also Matheson’s discussion in his 1881 Baird Lectures, where he finds the atonement in Christ through the resurrection a necessary part of resolving the difficulties of suffering that can be seen through natural theology. Therefore, the resurrection provides the redemptive effects for human epistemology, but it also provides the information that allows humans to reconcile the continuation of the cursed creation with its original goodness. George Matheson, Natural Elements of Revealed Theology (London: J. Nisbet, 1881), 160–67. See also, Raven, Natural Religion and Christian Theology, 113–16. Murray writes, “The effect of this Gospel [i.e., ‘Jesus and the Resurrection’] was astonishing. The Gentiles who in the Epistles represent the ‘natural man’ found here something that was available nowhere else. It revealed men to themselves. It satisfied fully those needs which they had tried to

Page | 33

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 objection of Barth,49 to support the possibility of at least a limited Christian natural theology in the present age. Therefore, it seems reasonable, based on the evidence provided, to accept that application of the resurrection event to humans through regeneration enables humans to gain some true knowledge of God through creation.

Excursus: From Natural Theology to Natural Law In order to establish the link from natural theology to natural law, an excursus is required. To move from natural theology to a concept of ethical authority in natural law, three logical steps must be taken.50 First, there is an objective reality that can be known, such that there can be a source of natural law. Second, natural theology must be possible. Third, the product of natural theology must be natural law. satisfy in their own institutions and it explained more reasonably than in any other way the experiences that had come to them in their contacts with the unseen world.” Albert Victor Murray, Natural Religion and Christian Theology: An Introductory Study (New York: Harper, 1956), 139. Van Til’s discussion of the difference between the regenerate and unregenerate mind support and follows this discussion nicely: “[W]e have before us the Christian and the non-Christian conception of the moral consciousness of man. Summing up the matter we may say (a) that there once was a moral consciousness that was perfect an could act as a source, but only as a proximate source, of information on moral questions; (b) that there are now two types of moral consciousness which ultimately agree on no ethical answer and on no ethical question, namely, the non-regenerate and the regenerate consciousness; (c) that the non-regenerate consciousness denies while the regenerate consciousness affirms that the moral verdict of any man must be tested by Scripture because of the sin of man.” Cornelius Van Til, Christian Theistic Ethics (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R, 1980), 24. 49

There is some question that Barth was successful in avoiding the remnants of natural theology when he was doing his own theology. See Stewart, Nature in Grace, 109n47. Barr raises this question, as well, and casts doubts on Barth’s independence from natural theology. Barr, Biblical Faith and Natural Theology, 128–32. 50

Erickson’s unpacking of the doctrine of natural theology shows a similar construction of the logical steps. He outlines the following assumptions: (1) “that there is an objective, valid, and rational general revelation”; (2) “the integrity of the person perceiving and learning from creation”; (3) “that there is congruity between the mind and the creation about us.” Erickson, Christian Theology, 181. Most advocates of natural law focus on the inward witness to the natural law and move from there. Budziszewski focuses on natural theology (my term, he uses the idea of observation of design) as confirmatory of the conviction of conscience. J. Budziszewski, What We Can't Not Know: A Guide (Dallas: Spence Pub, 2003), 84–85. In another discussion, Budziszewski recognizes the reality of general revelation through creation that allows for natural theology that points toward the existence of God, but does not include it in the basis for natural law. Budziszewski, Written on the Heart, 180–81. Taking this into consideration, though, even if the knowledge gained from natural theology is not necessary for the substance of the natural law itself, the natural theology’s product is no less necessary for the conduct of natural law, since without knowledge of the creator and the moral weight that gives to the conscience, there can be no ethical authority for the natural law. Further development of this connection is warranted, but exceeds the scope of the present investigation. Barr sees natural law as a “gateway to natural theology.” Barr, Biblical Faith and Natural Theology, 101.

Page | 34

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 That there is an objective reality which can be observed in nature has been assumed as a foundation for this article and accepted by the theologians discussed herein. Scripture affirms the reality and perceptibility of general revelation (e.g., Rom 1:19–20), and theologians are in general agreement that there is an objective source of revelation in nature. Aquinas, for example, in his discussion of the four laws argues for the existence of natural law, which is a partial but unblemished representation of God’s eternal law. 51 Even Barth, who rejects the exercise of natural theology, supports the concept of general revelation. 52 Brunner 53 and O’Donovan 54 support this view in concert with many other theologians.55 Accepting that there is such a thing as an objective natural law, the next step is to determine the degree to which natural law may be known by human beings through general revelation. The argument of this article up to this point has been for the ability of a limited population, specifically Christians, to know something of God through general revelation. Setting aside the contentions of those, like Erickson, whose rejection of the enterprise of natural theology is based mainly on the inclusion of non-Christians as proper participants in the task,56 51

Summa, I-II.92.2. Artigas argues that Aquinas held that the undisturbed teleology seen in the natural order is what allows man to rightly perceive the eternal through nature. Mariano Artigas, “¿Hay Un Sentido En El Universo?,” Anuario Filosofico 41, no. 3 (2008): 559–75. 52

Brunner and Barth, Natural Theology, 107–08. Spencer rightly points out that Barth rejects not natural revelation, but the concept of natural theology that includes building a theology apart from Scripture. Spencer, “Is Natural Theology Biblical?,” 62. 53

Brunner comments, “the creation of the world is . . . a revelation, a self-communication of God.” Brunner and Barth, Natural Theology, 25. 54

O'Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order, 76.


I have discovered no theistic scholar who rejects the existence of an object reality such as natural law. Rationally it appears that only a form of theism which allows for the mutability of God, such as process theism, would reject the idea of a stable natural law. 56 Erickson writes, “The core of natural theology is the idea that it is possible, without a prior commitment of faith to the beliefs of Christianity, and without relying on any special authority, such as an institution (the church) or a document (the Bible), to come to a genuine knowledge of God on the basis of reason alone.” Erickson, Christian Theology, 181.

Page | 35

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 the restoration of the regenerate begun by the resurrection event seems to have implications for redeemed human reason: namely, that natural theology may be possible for Christians. As discussed above, there is a renewal of the mind of a Christian due to the resurrection. However, the renewal of the balance of creation is in the future. Still, natural revelation is a present reality despite the limitations imposed by the fall. In light of these points, it seems that optimism about the task of natural theology for Christians is warranted. However, it still needs to be proved that a product of natural theology is natural law. Natural law can be defined as absolute truth gained through reason that allows for evaluations of good and evil. 57 Natural law relies on: (i) the existence of accurate data in nature, inside or outside of a person; (ii) the ability of human reason to rightly discern that data; and (iii) the ability for human reason to process that data into norms.58 The first two steps are aligned with natural theology, as has been discussed in greater detail above.59 At first hearing, the third step


The number and variation of definitions for natural law are as a sea that has no shore. The purpose of this article is not to exhaustively discuss and refine a definition of natural law. Therefore a commonly acceptable definition of natural law will be used with the understanding that some difference in wording or connotation may be desired. See, for example: J. Daryl Charles, Retrieving the Natural Law: A Return to Moral First Things (Critical Issues in Bioethics; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2008), 18; Grobien writes, “The authority and clarity of the natural law depended on the human capacity to comprehend it and implement it through human law.” Gifford A. Grobien, “What Is the Natural Law?,” in Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal (ed. Robert C. Baker and Roland Cap Ehlke; St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia 2011), 19. Budziszewski defines natural law as “the reflection of eternal law in the very structure of the created rational mind, directing us to our natural good.” Budziszewski, Written on the Heart, 61. For a succinct review of Aquinas on natural law, see Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights, 398–403. 58

The same logical progression from general revelation to natural law is mentioned by Schweiker in his objection to the use of natural law in Christian Ethics. William Schweiker, “Understanding Moral Meaning,” in Christian Ethics: Problems and Prospects (ed. Lisa Sowle Cahill and James F. Childress; Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim, 1996), 84–85. This three step formulation is much simpler, but bears similarities to the five step formulation necessary for natural law that Lisska attributes to Aquinas. Anthony J. Lisska, Aquinas's Theory of Natural Law: An Analytic Reconstruction (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996), 137. 59

Budziszewski traces an argument that is similar to the one made above for natural theology in his Christian defense for natural law. First, the natural law is obscured. Budziszewski, Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law, 182; Second, the effects of the resurrection are necessary to do natural law: “Indeed [natural law] needs to be written upon [the heart] again this time with transforming power. Until this is accomplished, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we discern the law of God more through the consequences of its violation than through the witness of clear conscience.” Budziszewski, Written on the Heart, 182. Third, natural law should be subjected to Scripture: “The doctrine of natural law is best grounded in the study of nature independent of God’s Word but in the Word of God itself.” Ibid., 183–84.

Page | 36

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 sounds something like the so-called naturalistic fallacy––the incorrect arguing from what is to what ought to be.60 This accusation of fallaciousness against natural law would be deserved if appropriate limitations to the process of derivation were not applied. The proposed limits are that natural law must be seen as representing a Creator and that it must be processed in light of redemption.61 On the first point, natural law that does not accept the Creator denies the reality of the created order in which the law is to be found,62 and it is not useful for Christian ethics.63 On the second point, natural law that does not take into account the necessity of the resurrection event will not work within a fallen created order.64 If these two proposed limitations apply, then it seems that a redeemed human reason could rightly move from natural theology to natural law. Having established parameters for a natural law developed via natural theology, the next step is to determine the degree of authority of natural law for Christian Ethics.

Natural Law and Christian Ethics In discussing the ethical implications of natural law, 65 O’Donovan argues, “knowledge of the natural order is moral knowledge, and as such it is coordinated with obedience. There can be


Budziszewski briefly deals with this argument. Budziszewski, What We Can't Not Know, 108.


O'Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order, 85.


Ibid., 63.


This is the crux of Heimbach’s argument: Heimbach, “Natural Law in the Public Square,” 685–702. The objection that natural law will not work apart from a Christian framework raises the question of what use natural law is outside of Christian ethics. That question deserves a much more in depth analysis than will be provided here, but a brief answer would be that there are three uses of Natural Law outside of Christian ethics: (1) if non-Christian natural law is done in light of a law-giver, then it can provide a contact point between Christianity and the unregenerate natural lawyer for making ethical arguments; (2) natural law can provide a sense that something is not right when the reality of the world is in discord with natural law, thus causing the unregenerate to search for a lawgiver; (3) natural law can have the effect of constraining the unregenerate from sinning. 64

O'Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order, 85. O’Donovan avoids “using the classic term ‘Natural Law’ in the course of [his] exposition of created order . . . despite points of strong sympathy between our account and the more realist versions of Natural theory” 65

Page | 37

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 no true knowledge of that order without loving acceptance of it and conformity to it, for it is known by participation and not by transcendence.”66 For O’Donovan, truth requires obedience, even truth found in nature; natural law, if it is known, by definition has ethical authority. Given the continued fallibility of the human mind and the unrestored corruption of the created order, it seems that improper elements of natural law derived due to the lingering effects of the fall could result in apparent ethical authority for laws that do not truly reflect the eternal law. The corrective that O’Donovan requires is special revelation. O’Donovan’s proposed corrective answers a common criticism of natural law, namely that it is conducted apart from Scripture. 67 O’Donovan’s perspective is that natural law and special revelation must be held together.68 Indeed, since the resurrection is necessary to restore the effects of the fall and the resurrection cannot be known apart from special revelation, 69 it follows that natural law cannot be rightly discerned apart from special revelation because special

because of the confusion over the limitations, such as have here been prescribed. Ibid. Instead, O’Donovan prefers the term moral law “which is how we shall refer to that wisdom which contains insights into the created order when it is formulated explicitly to direct decisions.” Ibid., 190. 66

Ibid., 87. According to O’Donovan, knowledge that has the created order as its object has four characteristics. First, it must “be knowledge of things in their relations to the totality of things.” Ibid., 77. Emphasis original. It is not a comprehensive knowledge, but rather a comprehension of how the things that are known fit into reality. Second, it must be knowledge from within. Ibid., 79. Since the knowledge is of the whole, it must be knowledge from inside the created order because there is nothing outside of it. Third, it must be knowledge “from man’s position in the universe.” Ibid., 81. Emphasis original. Because of the unique position of man as vice-regent of the created order, the knowledge must be from that the perspective of one fixed between God and the created order, made in the image of the former but a part of the latter. Fourth, knowledge of the created order must be “ignorant of the end of history.” Ibid., 82. Emphasis original. That is, because the final end of history is properly known by the Creator alone, any proper human knowledge of the created order must necessarily allow that the end is not entirely predicted by the regularities of past events. It is important to remember that O’Donovan describes not knowledge as it is for humans, but knowledge as it ought to be for humans in light of the redemption of the whole created order founded in the resurrection event. See also, Budziszewski, Written on the Heart, 185. 67

For a concise discussion of some of the more common objections to natural law, particularly among Christians, see Budziszewski, Written on the Heart, 110–12. Also, ibid., 70. See Frame’s objection: Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life, 244. 68

O'Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order, 19–22.


See Moore’s comments about Paul’s preaching in the Areopagus: Moore, “Natural Revelation,” 83–84.

Page | 38

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 revelation is integral to the created order. O’Donovan writes, “We are not to think of [special] revelation as conferring upon man a knowledge of created order which he has never possessed before . . . . Rather, [special] revelation catches man out in the guilty possession of a knowledge which he has always had, but from which he has never won a true understanding.” 70 Natural law is only a valid source for Christian ethics inasmuch as it is developed in light of the resurrection and corrected by the content of Scripture. 71 The next question, then, is what need there is for a natural law if it is subject to Scripture.72 Although infallible and inerrant, Scripture is also limited in scope. That is, the technological content of Scripture is subject to the historical and cultural limitations of its human authors. 73 Therefore, when a new technology, such as in vitro fertilization, arises and the possibility of three biological parents for one child comes into existence, a new moral issue is


O'Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order, 89.


Bromiley’s comments on natural law tend to support this use and content of natural law. Goeffrey W. Bromiley, “Natural Law.” On this, Calvin notes that the author of Psalm 19 spends 6 verses discussing general revelation, but the balance of the psalm expounding wonders of special revelation. Calvin notes that the psalmist attributes salvation to the work of special revelation. Calvin, Institutes, 28–28. (1.6.4) Barr is unsympathetic to this reliance on Scripture (cf. Barr, Biblical Faith and Natural Theology, 108.) but this seems to be due to his rejection of the infallibility of Scripture. Ibid., 198. Van Til comments: “The distinction between revealed and natural theology as ordinarily understood gives rise to a misunderstanding. It seems to indicate that man, though he is a sinner, can have certain true knowledge of God from nature but that for higher things he requires revelation. This is incorrect. It is true that we should make our theology and our ethics wide enough to include man’s moral relationship to the whole universe. But it is not true that any ethical question that deals with man’s place in nature can be interpreted rightly without the light of Scripture.” Van Til, Christian Theistic Ethics, 16. 72

Others besides O’Donovan argue for the necessity of doing natural law in concert with Scripture. One example of a Catholic scholar who makes that argument is Matthew Levering, “Knowing What Is “Natural”,” Logos 12, no. 1 (2009): 137. 73

This statement is made cautiously, with the intent of maintaining a very high view of Scripture and the understanding the statement could be easily misconstrued. What is meant is that the human authors of Scripture could not write about, for example, a helicopter because such a thing would have been incomprehensible given their conceptual framework. Erickson’s discussion on the definition of inerrancy is helpful if further clarification is desired. Erickson, Christian Theology, 259–63. See Frame’s comments about the need for information outside of Scripture for Christian Ethics. Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life, 159–60.

Page | 39

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 raised to which Scripture does not speak directly.74 Certainly, Scripture provides building blocks for making a moral decision about in vitro fertilization, but moral knowledge apart from Scripture is necessary to develop an ethical formula for dealing with the morality of in vitro fertilization. Natural law, derived from observations that the natural procreative event involves sperm and egg from two biological parents, informs the Christian ethicist that two biological parents are the norm and that the introduction of a third person into the parenting relationship is abnormal, even if three biological parents are technologically possible. 75 Scripture affirms the nature of a nuclear family, thus confirming the norms of natural law; therefore in vitro fertilization can, at least in some circumstances, be ruled morally blameworthy.76 Despite the necessity for natural law informing Christian ethics, it must be clear that the primary source of ethical information is special revelation. Scripture is necessary because, even after regeneration, principles of natural law can be misread due to the fallibility and finiteness of human reason. Regenerate human reason has been improved by the work of the Holy Spirit, but due to finitude and fallibility, it is still subject to being deceived by the cursed created order. 77 In their interpretation, both special and general revelation are subject to the vagaries of human reason cursed by the fall. However, only special revelation begins without distortion from the curse because of divine inspiration. Therefore, when apparent conflict arises between special and


This example is borrowed from O’Donovan. O'Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order, 92. Van Til seems to counter this argument, writing, “If it be objected that the Bible clearly does not say anything about many problems of the day, we reply that this is not really true. The Bible does say something about every problem that we face if only we learn the art of fitting to our situation that which Scripture offers either in principle or example.” Van Til, Christian Theistic Ethics, 26. 75

This argument could be extended for either surrogate mothering or IVF via donor.


There are many subtleties which could be teased out of this argument, but the example will serve to illustrate the point at hand. The scope of this article does not include an in depth evaluation of the morality of IVF. For a concise evaluation of IVF, see John Jefferson. Davis, Evangelical Ethics: Issues Facing the Church Today (3rd ed.; Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R, 2004), 90–98. 77

Page | 40

Van Til, Christian Theistic Ethics, 23–24.

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 general revelation, the primacy of authority should be given to Scripture. Nonetheless, without an appeal to norms discerned from the created order through natural theology, Christian ethicists would be unable to apply scriptural principles to newly arisen technological issues. Therefore, natural law done in light of the resurrection must have authority for Christian ethics along with, but subject to, Scripture.

Conclusion This article has sought to demonstrate that acquiring true knowledge about God from nature is possible for Christians, due to the restorative effects of the resurrection on creation and human reason. Because natural theology is possible, natural law may be derived from that natural theology. Since natural law may be rightly derived from natural theology, natural law has authority for Christian ethics. Still, due to the lingering effects of the fall, Scripture is a necessary corrective to natural law. Therefore, it seems that natural law has authority in Christian ethics inasmuch as it agrees with the principles of Scripture and is developed in light of the effects of the resurrection event.

Page | 41

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

Does Millard Erickson Affirm the Possibility of General Revelation Inclusivism in Christian Theology, Third Edition (2013)? by Adam Harwood* Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology has been used by generations of seminarians and pastors. It was first published in three volumes in 1983, 1984, and 1985. The volumes were combined and published as a single volume in 1986. In 1998, it was published as a second edition (hereafter, CT2). In 2013, Baker released a third edition (hereafter, CT3). Erickson’s work is a magisterial accomplishment through which the English-speaking church has been edified. I built upon his view of moral responsibility in my Ph.D. dissertation 1 and currently require CT3 as the primary textbook in my systematic theology courses at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. It is with this backstory of high regard for and use of Erickson’s work that I offer this friendly assessment of his view of general revelation and human responsibility. I will attempt to demonstrate that Millard Erickson’s view of general revelation and human responsibility in CT3 includes a stronger case than CT2 for the possibility of general revelation inclusivism, a term coined by Christopher Morgan for the view that people “can respond to God in saving faith through seeing him in general revelation.”2 General revelation

* Associate Professor of Theology, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Note: I am thankful for the feedback of Millard Erickson, Chris Morgan, Rhyne Putman, Tim Walker, and Randy Everist on an earlier version of this paper. The interpretation of Erickson’s view, of course, is mine alone. This paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in San Diego, California, on November 21, 2014 1

Adam Harwood, The Spiritual Condition of Infants: A Biblical-Historical Survey and Systematic Proposal (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2011). 2

Christopher W. Morgan, “Inclusivisms and Exclusivisms,” in Faith Comes By Hearing: A Response to Inclusivism, ed. Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2008), 32–33, 36–38. Quotation from 36. Consider also this definition, 38, “General Revelation Inclusivism: People may come to saving faith by means of general revelation but not by world religions.”

Page | 42

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 inclusivism is discernible but explicitly ruled out in CT2.3 In CT3, however, the possibility of salvation via general revelation is strengthened and statements ruling it out are adjusted or disappear. I will address the issue in three sections, spending the bulk of my attention on the second section: 1. What is Inclusivism? 2. Summary and Assessment of Erickson’s View of General Revelation and Human Responsibility in CT2 and CT3 3. Implications for Southern Baptists What is Inclusivism? Inclusivism is the view that God saves some people through the work of Christ who never hear the message of the gospel. Recent discussions of this view began fifty years ago with the publication of Raimundo Pannikar’s The Unknown Christ of Hinduism.4 In 2008, Christopher Morgan traced the development of the traditional classification (exclusivism, inclusivism, pluralism) in the literature and the attempts to account for the variety of exclusive and inclusive


Erickson seems to rule out salvation via general revelation in his How Shall They Be Saved?: The Destiny of Those Who Do Not Hear of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996). See, for example, 158. Even so, the present study has limited itself to statements on the matter found only in CT2 and CT3. 4

Raimundo Pannikar, The Unknown Christ of Hinduism (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1964). The following works advocate for an inclusivist view: Norman Anderson, Christianity and Comparative Religion (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 1970); Clark H. Pinnock, A Wideness in God’s Mercy: The Finality of Jesus Christ in a World of Religions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992); John Sanders, No Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the Unevangelized (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992); and Terrance Tiessen, Who Can Be Saved? Reassessing Salvation in Christ and World Religions (Downers Grove: IVP, 2004). Works which advocate for exclusivism include: Ronald H. Nash, Is Jesus the Only Savior? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994); D. A. Carson, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996); Daniel Strange, The Possibility of Salvation Among the Unevangelized: An Analysis of Inclusivism in Recent Evangelical Theology, Paternoster Biblical and Theological Monographs (Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster, 2002); and Faith Comes By Hearing, ed. Morgan and Peterson. Mulitviews books on the subject include: Through No Fault of Their Own? The Fate of Those Who Have Never Heard, ed. William V. Crockett and James G. Sigountos; What About Those Who Have Never Heard? Three Views on the Destiny of the Unevangelized, ed. John Sanders (Downers Grove: IVP, 1995); and More Than One Way? Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World, ed. Dennis L. Okholm and Timothy R. Phillips (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995).

Page | 43

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 views. Morgan notes Daniel Strange’s nine views from particular to universal accessibility and Terrance Tiessen’s distinction between inclusivism concerning those who do not hear the gospel and those who are saved by God through Christ by means of another religion. Then, Morgan proposes the following theological taxonomy for responses to the following question:5 “Is there any basis for hope that those who do not hear of Christ will be saved?” Term 1 Church exclusivism 2 Gospel exclusivism 3 Special revelation exclusivism

Reply to the Question No, outside the church there is no salvation. No, they must hear the gospel and trust Christ to be saved. No, they must hear the gospel and trust Christ to be saved, unless God chooses to send them special revelation in an extraordinary way—by a dream, vision, miracle, or angelic vision.

4 Agnosticism

We cannot know.

5 General revelation inclusivism 6 World religions inclusivism 7 Postmortem evangelism

Yes, they can respond to God in saving faith through seeing him in general revelation. Yes, they can respond to God through general revelation or their religion.

8 Universalism

Yes, everyone will ultimately be saved.

9 Pluralism

Yes, many will experience “salvation” as they understand it because they embrace their vision of the real.


Yes, they will have an opportunity to trust Christ after death.

Representatives Cyprian; Fourth Lateran Council (1215) James Borland; John Piper William Shedd; Second Helvetic Confession 1.7 (1566); Westminster Confession of Faith 5.3, 10.3 (1646); Bruce Demarest; Timothy George J. I. Packer; Millard Erickson; Harold Netland; John Stott John Sanders; Terrance Tiessen; Clark Pinnock; Amos Yong Karl Rahner; Hans Küng

John Peter Lange; Gabriel Fackre; Donald Bloesch; Jerry Walls John A. T. Robinson; Madeleine L’Engle; Jan Bonda John Hick; Paul Knitter; Gordon Kaufman; Langdon Gilkey

The information for this chart was drawn from Christopher W. Morgan, “Inclusivisms and Exclusivisms,” 25–36. Robert B. Stewart, “Can Only One Religion Be True?: Considering the Question,” in Can Only One Religion Be True?: Paul Knitter & Harold Netland in Dialogue, ed. Stewart (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2013), 10, states of positions 1–8: “All of the positions are particular in nature. They all agree in affirming that salvation is available on the basis of the atonement of Jesus Christ.” Emphasis his.

Page | 44

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 In 2008, Morgan categorized Erickson’s view as agnostic. Erickson’s statements in CT3 (2013) present a stronger case than CT2 (1998) for the possibility of general revelation inclusivism. Summary and Assessment of Erickson’s View of General Revelation and Human Responsibility in CT2 and CT3 In his chapter titled “God’s Universal Revelation” in CT3, Erickson provides a helpful summary of the nature of general revelation, addresses some of the key biblical texts, distinguishes between general revelation and natural theology, addresses general revelation and human responsibility, and closes with implications of the doctrine. There are no surprises in the early sections of Erickson’s chapter. He identifies the loci of general revelation in nature, history, and moral conscience. And he appeals to texts such as Psalm 19 and Romans 1–2 to assert that creation and conscience testify to the existence of a creator and universal lawgiver.6 Erickson then considers “holy pagans,” a term for people mentioned in the Bible who may have had faith “without prior exposure to the special revelation.” He raises and deals with the examples of Melchizedek, Cornelius, and Abimelech. Also, Erickson mentions examples of cases in which “when presented with special revelation, a person recognizes that the author is the true God.” He cites Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, and the sailors on the ship with Jonah. Erickson’s point in citing the latter three examples is that “when special revelation came, it awakened the realization of the general revelation’s authenticity.”7 Erickson’s view of holy pagans is consistent with Morgan’s category of special revelation exclusivism. Erickson then considers the optimistic view of general revelation found in Aquinas’s natural revelation against Barth’s rejection of general revelation. He then finds in Calvin a


Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 123–26.


Ibid., 126–27. Quotations from 127.

Page | 45

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 mediating view which affirms general revelation without affirming natural theology.8 Also in this section, one word is added in a sentence which is significant for the present study. In “General Revelation, But Without Natural Theology” (CT2), Erickson states: “General revelation evidently does not enable the unbeliever to come to the knowledge of God.” 9 In CT3, the sentence reads as follows: “General revelation evidently does not ordinarily enable the unbeliever to come to the knowledge of God.”10 The addition of the word “ordinarily” in CT3 seems to indicate a slight movement in Erickson’s view. In the next major section, arguments for the possibility of general revelation inclusivism can be detected. The view was present in CT2 and strengthened in CT3. Erickson begins the section by explaining that Paul’s arguments in Romans 1–2 indicate that “the knowledge of God that all humans have, if they do not suppress it, should bring them to the conclusion that they are guilty in relationship to God.”11 Next, Erickson compares people today who have not heard the gospel with Old Testament believers who also had not heard the gospel. Erickson asks regarding people today who have not heard the gospel: What if someone then were to throw himself or herself on the mercy of God, not knowing on what basis that mercy was provided? Would not such a person in a sense be in the same situation as the Old Testament believers? The doctrine of Christ and his atoning work had not been fully revealed to these people. Yet they knew that there was provision for the forgiveness of sins, and that they could not be accepted on the merits of any works of their own. They had the form of the gospel without its full content. And they were saved.12


Ibid., 129–37.


Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998), 195.


Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed., 137. Emphasis mine.


Ibid., 138.



Page | 46

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 A touchstone for Erickson’s argument is that the basis of the salvation of Old Testament believers should be equated with the basis of salvation for people who live after the cross of Christ who are not reached with the message of the gospel. It is true that there are similarities between Old Testament believers and the unreached who express faith after the cross. As examples of this similarity, consider that the God who reveals himself to both groups through creation is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; also, both groups look to God’s mercy for their redemption. The weakness in Erickson’s view is found in his apparent equating of Old Testament believers with people who live after the cross of Christ and are not reached with the message of the gospel. He writes, “The doctrine of Christ and his atoning work had not been fully revealed to these people.” But it is not only the case that Christ’s work had not been revealed to Old Testament believers; Christ’s work on the cross had not yet been accomplished. Paul explains in Rom 3:22 (and other texts) that the righteousness of God is for all who believe in Jesus Christ. Paul continues in the chapter to indict both Jew and Gentile of sin (vv. 22–23) and declares that they are “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (v. 24). Verse 25 accounts for Old Testament believers because the propitiation was to be received by faith. The verse continues, “This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” It seems that God justified people by applying the saving work of Christ on the cross to those individuals who expressed faith in him prior to the cross of Christ. This is why Paul states a few verses later that “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Rom 4:3; cf. Gen 15:6; Gal 3:6; Jas 2:23). In this section of his chapter in CT3, Erickson makes five statements which affirm the possibility of general revelation inclusivism:

Page | 47

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 1) A person might be “accepted as were the Old Testament believers. The basis of acceptance would be the work of Jesus Christ, even though the person involved is not conscious that this is how provision has been made for his or her salvation.”13 2) “(Some evangelical theologians) are simply not sure that the biblical witness excludes the possibility. They are willing to leave open the possibility that God has not told us everything on the subject.”14 3) “Is it conceivable that one can be saved by faith without having the special revelation? Paul seems to be leaving open this possibility.”15 4) “That there is a possibility of somehow entering a relationship with God on this basis seems to be required by Paul’s words, ‘So that [they] are without excuse’ (1:20).”16 5) Erickson quotes Harold Netland, who explains that “we cannot rule out the possibility that some who never hear the gospel might, nevertheless, through God’s grace, respond to what they know of God through general revelation and turn to him in faith for forgiveness.” Erickson states that Netland “sums up well the position that I find most adequate in dealing with the several lines of evidence.”17 Of the five claims above which affirm the possibility of general revelation inclusivism, only Statements 1, 3, and 4 appeared in CT2. Statements 2 and 5 were added in CT3. Statement 2 indicates that inclusivism should not be ruled out and appeals to a lack of information on the subject. Statements 3 and 4 affirm the possibility of general revelation inclusivism. Statement 5 seems to be the strongest point at which Erickson self-identifies with the possibility of salvation through general revelation. In Statement 5, Erickson describes and identifies with the possibility of general revelation inclusivism. Also, a concluding statement which rules out inclusivism appears in CT2 but does not appear in CT3. That sentence reads: “Thus in effect the general


Ibid., 138.




Ibid., 140.


Ibid., 141.


Harold A. Netland, Encountering Religious Pluralism: The Challenge to Christian Faith and Mission (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2001), 323, in Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed., 141.

Page | 48

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 revelation serves, as does the law, merely to make guilty, not to make righteous.”18 The sentence could have dropped out of CT3 for any number of reasons, but it should be noted that the sentence ruled out general revelation inclusivism. The material above can be illustrated as follows: CT2 “General revelation evidently does not enable the unbeliever to come to the knowledge of God.”19 Statement 1 – some not conscious of provision for salvation made by Christ Statement 3 – possibility of faith without special revelation Statement 4 – possibility of relationship with God apart from special revelation

CT3 “General revelation evidently does not ordinarily enable the unbeliever to come to the knowledge of God.”20 Statement 1 – some not conscious of provision for salvation made by Christ Statement 2 – inclusivism not ruled out Statement 3 – possibility of faith without special revelation Statement 4 – possibility of relationship with God apart from special revelation Statement 5 – affirms possibility of God’s forgiveness apart from hearing the gospel

Inclusivism via general revelation ruled out

Erickson claims to be agnostic on this issue. Observations of the changes between the texts of CT2 and CT3 indicate slight movement in his view. By citing his affirmations of the possibility of general revelation inclusivism, I am attempting to assess accurately Erickson’s statements in CT3 regarding general revelation and human responsibility. Erickson desires to distance his view on the salvific extent of general revelation from that of John Sanders and Clark Pinnock, primarily because they are “confident” of their view. 21 In neither CT2 nor CT3 does


Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed., 198.


Ibid., 195.


Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed., 137. Emphasis mine.


Ibid., 138. “This view is held by more evangelical theologians than is often recognized, but most of them are not saying that they are confident that there are persons saved this way, as Clark Pinnock and John Sanders affirm.” This statement was added in the third edition.

Page | 49

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Erickson affirm that some will be saved via general revelation. In CT2, Erickson repeatedly ruled out the possibility. In CT3, however, Erickson affirms that salvation via general revelation is possible. This seems to indicate a change in his view between CT2 and CT3.

Erickson Raises and Replies to Three Objections to the Possibility of Salvation via General Revelation Erickson anticipates three objections to his view regarding general revelation. The first two objections appeared in CT2; the third objection was added in CT3. Objection 1: “(T)he fear that special revelation is being displaced by general revelation, or by human discovery.” Erickson replies to Objection 1: “If, however, the special revelation witnesses to the existence of a general revelation, it does not honor that special revelation to reject the idea of general revelation.”22 Assessment: Neither Objection 1 nor its reply carries implications for the present discussion because inclusivism affirms the possibility of the salvation of persons who have not heard the message of the gospel and made an explicit commitment of faith in Jesus Christ. Objection 1 and its reply address the confirmation of general revelation in special revelation, not salvation via the witness of general revelation apart from special revelation. Objection 2: “(T)he missionary enterprise will be diminished if the possibility is allowed of some being saved without hearing the specially revealed gospel.” Erickson replies to Objection 2: “This, however, is basically a pragmatic argument, not a biblical one. We do not, as


Page | 50

Ibid., 139.

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 evangelicals, adopt the most useful theological conclusions, but rather, those most faithful to Scripture.”23 Assessment: Objection 2 and Erickson’s reply are unchanged between CT2 and CT3. A footnote, however, is added in CT3 to support his reply to Objection 2. In the footnote, Erickson cites John Piper as an example of this objection. 24 Erickson also cites the view of Douglas Geivett and Gary Philips and regards their reply to be “more philosophically sophisticated and nuanced.”25 Erickson explains that Geivett and Philips “acknowledge that from the statement ‘All those who respond in faith to the explicit preaching of the gospel will be saved,’ it is not possible to deduce ‘Only those who respond in faith to the explicit preaching of the gospel will be saved.’” Erickson then details how their objection could be stated more accurately and how their view fails to account for the question of infant salvation.26 Erickson’s equating the unevangelized today with Old Testament believers was addressed earlier in this paper. To restate, it is not only the case that Christ’s work had not been revealed to Old Testament believers; Christ’s work on the cross had not yet been accomplished. The conditions for justification described in the Old Testament required only believing God (Gen 15:6; cf. Rom 4:3; Gal 3:6; Jas 2:23). After the cross, however, the New Testament provides examples of explicit confessions of faith in Christ only. It is insufficient to cite Geivett and Philips’s claim that it is not possible to deduce “Only those who respond in faith to the explicit preaching of the gospel will be saved” to argue that the New Testament does not require an 23



John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003),

119–20. 25

Douglas Geivett and Gary Philips, “Response to Alister McGrath,” in Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World, ed. Okholm and Philips, 194–95, in Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed., 139n34. 26

Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed., 139n34.

Page | 51

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 explicit confession of faith in Christ to be saved. If one argues that it is possible to be saved in this way, then one is arguing a view which is neither prohibited nor advocated in the New Testament. At this point, one wonders if Erickson appeals to an argument from silence. Objection 3, introduced in CT3, is that “everything has changed so radically with the coming of Christ that comparisons to the situation of Old Testament believers no longer apply.” In reply, Erickson states, “This last contention is insufficiently argued.” He contends, “Romans 1:20 means that God holds persons responsible for failure to fulfill conditions that they could not possibly meet.” Also, Erickson says Objection 3 fails to adequately account for the question of infant salvation. In addition, the objection does not articulate “how much must be believed in order to be saved, especially as applied to the young who are not old enough to exercise saving faith.” Erickson also states that the “restrictivist view” “tends to treat time in a commonsense Newtonian fashion” rather than “a more relative view of time.”27 Assessment: Erickson may be correct that Objection 3 is insufficiently argued. If so, this does not render the claim untrue; perhaps it is an accurate proposition which is insufficiently argued. It is not necessary to conclude that Rom 1:20 indicts people who fail to respond to conditions they cannot meet. It is for this reason that Erickson raises, for the second time, the question of infant salvation. When working to untangle this theological knot, it is important to distinguish between those who have not heard the gospel from those who cannot hear the gospel. Infants and the mentally incapable fall into the latter category. If condemnation comes only after people attain moral capability and after committing their first act of transgression, then the


Page | 52

Ibid., 139–40.

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 morally incapable are not yet under condemnation. 28 Thorough treatments of revelation and soteriology should account for the eternal state of infants and the mentally incompetent, but not at the expense of setting aside indications from the New Testament that morally capable people have only one hope for justification before God, repenting of their sin and believing in Jesus. Implications for Southern Baptists I will conclude by exploring the implications for Southern Baptists, the denomination in which I serve. If this assessment is accurate and Erickson now affirms the possibility of salvation via general revelation, then such a view would run contrary to the views expressed in the Southern Baptist Convention’s statement of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message (BFM). Article 4 of the BFM states, “There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.” Erickson’s statements in CT3 affirm the possibility of the view described by Morgan as general revelation inclusivism, a view which is not consistent with this statement in the BFM. The key sentence did not appear in the 1963 edition of the BFM, but was added in 2000. One of the members of the BFM 2000 Study Committee, Albert Mohler, addresses the rationale for inserting this particular sentence. After rehearsing some of the challenges posed by universalism to mainline denominations and by inclusivism as adopted by the Roman Catholic Church, Mohler notes that “some Southern Baptist seminary professors and other leaders began to raise the issue.” Mohler explains, The 2000 committee took this challenge very seriously, and a clear, concise, and unambiguous sentence was added to the opening paragraph on salvation: ‘There is no 28

Such a view has been called inherited sinful nature (in contrast to inherited guilt), and is consistent with Article 3 of the Baptist Faith and Message 1963 and 2000, which state that Adam’s “posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.” For a brief explanation of inherited sinful nature, see Adam Harwood, “Inherited Sinful Nature: A View Permissible as Both Biblical and Baptist,” SBC Today, December 9, 2012, at:; for a fuller treatment, see Harwood, The Spiritual Condition of Infants.

Page | 53

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.’ This sentence clearly precludes any form of inclusivism or universalism—any suggestion that a sinner can be saved apart from a conscious response of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ prior to the sinner’s death.29 Millard Erickson’s work has served Southern Baptists—as well as the larger, global Christian church—for decades. Perhaps it would be both impossible and unwise to search for a systematic theology textbook which aligns perfectly on every theological jot and tittle with the BFM, especially on a theological issue as difficult as the possibility of salvation via general revelation.


Albert Mohler, “Article IV: The Doctrine of Salvation,” in Baptist Faith and Message 2000: Critical Issues in American’s Largest Protestant Denomination, ed. Douglas K. Blount and Joseph D. Wooddell (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), 40.

Page | 54

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

Diaspora Discipleship: Discipleship In Pluralistic Communities1 by Howard D. Owens* Our world is not different from the world of Jesus’ day. His disciples were surrounded by the temples and rituals of Greek and Roman religions.2 He and his followers lived among various diasporas. A large portion of Jews still lived dispersed from their homeland. The maintenance of the Roman Empire precipitated the deployment of the Roman army, a multinational military force. Like the army, Roman peasants and Roman slaves, many of whom were of peoples conquered by Rome, were scattered voluntarily and involuntarily. International merchants traveled and migrated from their homelands to establish trade networks. Living among these diasporas, Jesus and his disciples must have encountered or at least learned of the religions of their day. We too live in a globalized world. David F. Wells observed that “almost every religion is a religion in diaspora. . . . In fact, almost every religion is represented somewhere in our large, Western cities as well as in many cities outside the West. American cities are becoming microcosms of the entire world and not least, of its religions.”3 Wells continued by explaining how a “sense of toleration” develops for the sake of civility, and how philosophical pluralism arises. Instead of religions being distinct, at least in the West, people begin to see them “tending

* Assistant Professor of Missions, Luther Rice Seminary 1

Originally presented as “Being Distinct in Pluralistic Communities: Behaviors for the Followers of Christ” (paper presented at the 2014 Southeast Region meeting of the Evangelical Missiological Society, Columbia, SC, March 29, 2014). 2

William J. Larkin, Jr., “The Contribution of the Gospels and Acts to a Biblical Theology of Religions,” in Christianity and the Religions: A Biblical Theology of World Religions, ed. by Edward Rommen and Harold Netland (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1995), 72. 3

David F. Wells, “Christian Discipleship in a Postmodern World,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 51 (March 2009): 24.

Page | 55

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 toward the same end.”4 How, therefore, can followers of Christ demonstrate the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and his way in such contexts? Jesus exhorted his followers in the Gospel of Matthew to distinguish themselves in their pluralistic context with the following four behaviors: 1. To wish for the well-being of people outside one’s family, nationality, or religion (Matt. 5:47). 2. Not to pray with meaningless repetition (Matt. 6:7). 3. Not to be anxious about material needs (Matt. 6:32). 4. To seek greatness by being servants of others (Matt. 20:25).5 Jesus contrasted explicitly these four behaviors with the habits of the followers of other faiths. We must apply these exhortations today given the diasporas of our world, the pluralistic communities that result, and our missionary mandate. Christ commissioned us “to make disciples of the nations . . . teaching them to obey all that he commanded” (Matt. 28:18-20). Jesus Christ is unique, and his way is distinct from all other religious paths. His disciples, therefore, are not to behave like the followers of other religions. The Diasporas of Jesus' Day The diasporas of Jesus’ day were not at the same scale of the diasporas of our day, but they were nonetheless present and the resulting pluralism was no less incipient.6 Three groups of the Roman Empire lived in diasporas, soldiers, peasants, and slaves. Roman soldiers originally came from the Italian peninsula, but with the expansion of the empire, their ranks were filled 4



The fourth behavior is also discussed in Mark 10:42 and Luke 22:25.


Enoch Wan, “Diaspora Missiology,” Occasional Bulletin 20, no. 20 (Spring 2007): 3.

Page | 56

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 with men from “Spain, Africa and the Danube regions . . . [or] other areas within the empire.” 7 This multiethnic force was dispersed from their homelands to maintain the order of the Empire, as defined by Roman law. Foreign soldiers were granted citizenship, and all soldiers sometimes were granted “settlement rights” in lands subdued by Rome.8 Roman peasants were forced to serve in foreign provinces as soldiers or they migrated to foreign provinces for economic reasons. 9 Slaves, who accounted even for the population growth of Italy at the time, were conscripted and dispersed from their homelands after being conquered during the expansion of the Roman Empire.10 Diasporas of Jesus’ day were also created for global commerce. Jesus lived during a time of unprecedented commercial growth.11 Patrick Manning, in his book Themes in World History: Migration in World History, explained that “a web of direct commercial ties . . . linked a very 7

Richard Hingley, Globalizing Roman Culture: Unity, Diversity, and Empire (New York: Routledge,

2005), 56. 8

Ryan M. Geraghty, “The Impact of Globalization in the Roman Empire, 200 BC-AD 100,” The Journal of Economic History 67, no. 4 (2007): 1044; Hingley, 56. Claudius Lysias, the Roman commander instrumental in sparing Paul’s life to fulfill the prophecy that Paul would bear witness in Rome, was evidently Greek and had purchased his Roman citizenship. . Acts 22:28, 23:26; J. H. Skilton, “Lysias,” Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 3, ed. Merrill C. Tenney (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976), 1013. The Roman commander may have bribed “a Roman official” to receive Roman citizenship, and he may have received it under the reign of Claudius given the Roman name that he chose for his new identity. Clinton E. Arnold, “Acts” in John, Acts, vol. 2, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary, ed. Clinton E. Arnold (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 441-442, 447-448. 9

Geraghty, 1039-1049.


Walter Scheidel, “Human Mobility in Roman Italy, 1: The Free Population,” The Journal of Roman Studies 94 (2004): 2 referenced in Geraghty, 1043. 11

Andre Gunder Frank, who traced cycles of economic growth and contraction between 1700 B.C. and 1450 A.D., identified the 100 years surrounding the life of Christ as a period of economic expansion. Andre Gunder Frank, “Bronze Age World System Cycles,” Current Anthropology 34, no. 4 (August-October 1993), 389. Patrick Manning also identified this period as a time of unprecedented commercial growth . Patrick Manning, Themes in World History: Migration in World History, 2nd edition (Florence, KY: Routledge, 2012), 100-101 and (March 22, 2014). Jan Nederveen Pieterse labeled Rome as a globalizing force and an economic force, Jan Nederveen Pieterse, "Periodizing Globalization: Histories of Globalization," New Global Studies. 6, no. 2 (2012), 15-17.

Page | 57

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 large portion of the world, with active points in the eastern Mediterranean, South China, and India, and with connections to Europe, West Africa, East Africa, Indonesia, Central Asia, the North Pacific, and the western Pacific.” 12 This commercial web was maintained by “trade networks” or “trade diasporas.” According to Manning, families of certain ethnic groups—including Armenians in western and Central Asia and later, Mande-speaking West Africans known as Wangara—sent family members great distances to establish autonomous, self-governing communities, so that they could serve as hosts to traveling merchants from the homeland, and assist them in conducting their trade. Such trade diasporas were central to long-distance commerce until the modern period.13 Diaspora Jews, though their dispersion originally was involuntarily, probably became points of contact in an elaborate trade network connecting “Parthian and Roman lands.”14 The writers of the New Testament recorded the presence of diasporas in their accounts of Jesus’ life and Paul’s establishment of mission churches in Macedonia. John described encounters between Jesus and/or his disciples, and Samaritans and Greeks. Jesus ministered among the Samaritans and the women at the well (John 4). The Greeks were identified on two occasions. First, the Jews wondered if Jesus was going to leave Palestine and go “to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks” (John 7:35). Second, Greeks in Jerusalem for Passover sought Jesus through the intermediaries of his disciples (John 12:20). Luke identifies “Jews living in Jerusalem, and devout men, from every nation under heaven” in Acts 2:5, who were in Jerusalem for Pentecost. Some of these pilgrims may have been proselytes from Parthia, Media, Elam, Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia Minor, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, Rome, Crete, Arabia (Acts 2:5-11). 12

Manning, 88.


Ibid., 89.

Page | 58

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 A similar multiethnic crowd must have been present at Passover only 50 days earlier. Simon of Cyrene is well-known for helping Christ carry his cross to Golgotha. Cyrene is in present day Libya (Matt. 27:32). The presence of dispersed people is implied by the inscription ordered by Pilate to be nailed to Jesus’ cross, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews” (Matt. 27:37). Pilate ordered the inscription to be written in “Hebrew, Latin, and Greek” (John 19:20).15 In the Acts of the Apostles, Paul meets Lydia, when he was at a place of prayer in Philippi. She was from Thyatira, in present day Turkey, and lived in Philippi, located today in Greece. Her distant relatives may have been from Greece, because members of Alexander’s army, who were from Macedonia, settled in Thyatira about 300 years earlier. 16 She operated an international textile business, probably a family business. Her specialty was the sale of purple fabrics (Acts 16:14). She probably was part of a trade network that linked her textile business in Philippi to Thyatira. She was acquainted with the efficiencies and challenges of global commercial supply chains. Because Lydia was from Thyatira, she probably had family in the city (Acts 16: 12-15, 40). Her business in Philippi also must have had some link to her city of origin, because the dye used to color the purple fabrics came from the area of Thyatira.17 Lydia was responsible for the 14

Richard Foltz, Religions of the Silk Road: Premodern Patterns of Globalization (York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 31. 15 John comments that the Jews read this inscription, but the soldiers would likely have been able to read it, too, along with perhaps other “devout men, from every nation under heaven” who may have been present for Passover. 16

E. M. Blaiklock, “Thyatira,” Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol.5, ed. Merrill C. Tenney (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976), 743. 17

The color for the dye came from the madder root. Blaiklock, 743. Clinton E. Arnold, “Acts” in John, Acts, vol. 2, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary, ed. Clinton E. Arnold (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 372.

Page | 59

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 commercial activities of her family’s purple cloth business in Philippi, and received her product from Thyatira.18 She may have been acquainted with identifying and entering new markets. Philippi was a Roman colony, and the Romans, like the rest of the ancient world, viewed purple fabrics as a sign of “high rank and nobility.”19 Knowing this market niche in Philippi, her family may have seen a business opportunity and set up a branch of their trade network in Philippi, with Lydia in charge of this point of sale.20 Many Jews lived as a dispersion, away from their homeland, and many Jews had returned to the land of their fathers. In either case they lived among dispersed Roman soldiers, peasants, and slaves. They encountered in their daily lives international merchants. The Jews learned to integrate into these contexts, and yet remain a distinct culture. Ethnē of Jesus’ Day The Jews viewed themselves and the peoples of the world in “us-them” categories. All peoples foreign to the Jewish people were referred to as the goyim in the Old Testament and the ethnē in the New Testament. These terms are translated as “Gentiles” or “nations.” Stephen Hre Kio, when he studied Matthew’s use of ethnē in his Gospel, suggested that the former tax collector may have been inclined “to polarize . . . Jews and Gentiles.” 21 This dichotomy may


D. E. Hiebert, “Lydia,” Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 3, ed. Merrill C. Tenney (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976), 1011. 19

B. Van Elderen, “Purple,” Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 4, ed. Merrill C. Tenney (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976), 960. 20


Arnold, 372.

Stephen Hre Kio, "Understanding and Translating "Nations" in Mt 28:19," Bible Translator (Practical Papers) 41, no. 2 (April 1, 1990): 231 and 235, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed March 24, 2014).

Page | 60

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 have been based on the religious affiliation of these groups, for the term designated “those outside the spiritual house of Israel, who do not belong to the Body of Christ, i.e., heathen.”22 Matthew used another term that also has been rendered as “nations,” “Gentiles,” or “pagans,” ethnikoi. Stephen Hre Kio, and Kukzin Lee and François P. Vilijoen examined ethnē and ethnikoi in the Gospel of Matthew to determine if the nation of Israel was to be included in the closing commission of the Gospel to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:18-20). While these authors did not reach the same conclusion, they did underline the occasional disapproving nature of these terms, when Israel was not included. While Hre Kio did not include in his study Matthew’s use of ethnikos, Lee and Vilijoen did. In the instances where Matthew used the term ethnikos in particular, they concluded that it “always renders a derogatory meaning in Matthew (5:47; 6:7; 18:17).”23 The ethnē or ethnikoi, however, were not categorically despised in Matthew’s gospel.24 Christ taught that they would be included in “the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 8:11). Jesus exclaimed that Gentile saints of the Old Testament, the Ninevites of Jonah’s day, the Queen of


Hans M. Weerstra, “Mission to the Nations: A Biblical Word Study of Ethnos,” International Journal of Frontier Missions 19:3 (July 1992): 101. Jack Finegan and D. A. Carson refer also to the connotation of a nonbeliever in the use of ethne by Matthew in his Gospel, Jack Finegan, Myth & Mystery: An Introduction to the Pagan Religions of the Biblical World (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Book House, 1989), 13-14; D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” in Vol. 8 of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. F. E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), 159-160. 23

Lee and Viljoen, 2. Contra Weestra, who insisted “neither the Lord nor the disciples used the term in a disparaging sense,” Weestra, 100. The Lord, however, showed no appreciation for pagan behavior in Matt. 5:47, 6:7, 6:32, and 20:25. Jesus also differentiated the church from pagans. If a brother in sin does not listen to the call to repent from the church, he is to be treated like a “Gentile” or païens (Matt. 18:17). Lee and Viljoen did not discuss this contrast of the church with Gentile or pagan. They delimited their study to the use of term ethnos and did not consider Matthew’s use of ethnikos. 24

John D. Harvey, “Mission in Jesus’ Teaching,” in Mission in the New Testament: An Evangelical Approach, ed. William J. Larkin and Joel F. Williams (Maryknoll, NY, 1999), 37-39. John read an early draft of this paper, and advised that I “nuance how the Gentiles are presented in Matthew’s Gospel.” This section is an effort to achieve better balance in Matthew’s presentation and Jesus’ view of “the nations.”

Page | 61

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Sheba of Solomon’s time, would judge the Jewish generation of his day, because these Gentiles accepted the message of God, while the Jews of Jesus’ day rejected his message (Matt. 12:3842). He provided for the needs of Gentiles, a Roman centurion, a demoniac of Gadarenes, and a woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon, when he learned of their need (Matt. 8:5-13, 28-34; 15:21-28). He remarked that the centurion’s faith surpassed the response of any Jew whom he had encountered up to that day (Matt. 8:10). He foresaw “sons of the kingdom” harvested from the world (Matt. 13:38-39). They also would inherit a “kingdom prepared . . . from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:31-34). Finally, Jesus designated all nations as the scope of his follower’s mission in the Great Commission of Matthew. His followers were to disciple the ethnē, by baptizing them and by “teaching them to obey all” that Christ commanded (Matt. 28:18-20). The greatest emphasis on the term ethnē in missiological writing in the last 40 or 50 years has been on the “ethno-linguistic” signification of the term ethnē. These studies have been the basis for the ensuing and present emphasis on identifying and reaching the remaining unreached people groups with church movements capable of discipling them in obedience to Christ’s final commission.25 Weerstra, therefore, concludes that “the priority of our focus should always be to disciple those people in people groups . . ., among whom the Church of Christ has not yet been established.”26 Christ, therefore, admonishes his followers to demonstrate the distinction between 25

John Piper also considered who the “nations” were in the Great Commission, but he limited his study to the use of the entire phrase panta ta ethne. He, therefore, did not elucidate the significance of the term, when Jesus used it or ethnikos in these four instances, where he was addressing the behavior of his followers in comparison to the behaviors of nonbelievers. John Piper, “The Supremacy of God among ‘All the Nations,’” International Journal of Frontier Missions 9, no. 3 (July 1992): 81-98. Weerstra, 99. Ralph D. Winter and Bruce A. Koch, “Finishing the Task: The Unreached Peoples Challenge” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, ed. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009), 531-546. 26

Page | 62

Weerstra, 101.

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 themselves and the followers of other faiths, the ethnē and ethnikoi, and to demonstrate that they serve a God unlike any other god.27 Pluralism of Jesus’ Day A side effect of these dispersed populations was the spread of ideologies and religions. Jan Nederveen Pieterse, in his article on the “phases and centers” of globalization, noticed the existence of traits typically associated with post-modern times. The basis of his conclusion was M. J. Versluys’ identification of an “inherent pluralism” and his recognition of the “multiple identifications” of King Herod.28 The figure who “was appointed king of Judea by the Romans was ‘by birth an Idumean (i.e. Edomite), by profession a Jew, by necessity a Roman, by culture and by choice a Greek.’”29 Manning identified this era as a time in which major new traditions developed in religion and ethical philosophy. . . . Of course both religion and the concern with ethics had been part of human society since the very earliest of times. But the prophets and philosophers of the first millennium BCE may have been addressing the new problems brought by the larger-scale organization of society, in addition to the age-old problems of small human communities.30 Jesus’ exhortations in the Gospel of Matthew, therefore, are timely for his followers today as they disciple the peoples of world, while facing the philosophical and sociological challenges of the day. Given the current diasporas of cultures and religions and the command of Christ to disciple the nations, his followers today are to be distinct in the pluralistic communities of their day and demonstrate the uniqueness of the Lord.


Because Matthew uses the term “the nations” to designate pagans—nonbelievers--in his Gospel and because of the necessity to baptize, Jesus is saying to disciple nonbelievers. (Matt. 5:47; 6:7, 32; 18:17). 28

M. J. Versluys, “Exploring Identities in the Phoenician, Hellenistic and Roman East,” Bibliotheca Orientalis 65: 17 quoted in Nederveen Piertese, 16. 29

C. Taylor, Sources of the Self (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989) quoted in Nederveen Piertese 2012, 16-17 and 2007, 9.

Page | 63

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Greetings in Pluralistic Communities The first means by which followers of Christ were to show themselves distinct in their pluralistic communities was by wishing for the welfare of followers of other faiths. Christ reasoned with his followers, “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matt. 5:47). Christ presented this challenge at the conclusion of his efforts to correct misunderstandings of the second greatest commandment. His listeners had been taught to love their neighbor and to hate their enemy. Jesus corrected this inaccurate instruction by saying that they were to love and pray for their enemies and persecutors. They were to love their enemies, in order to be consistent with the character of their Heavenly Father, who provides sun and rain for the “evil and the good” (Matt. 5:43-45). He concluded his correction by underlining the necessity to do more than sinners and pagans. His followers, therefore, were not to wish only for the welfare of their brothers (Matt. 5:43-47). Matthew used the term “brother,” adelphos, or “brothers,” adelphē, in three ways in his Gospel. He used it first, and most often, to refer to male siblings. For example, he referred to the male siblings of Judah in the genealogy of Christ, Peter’s brother Andrew, or the brothers of Christ (Matt. 1:2, 4:18, and 12:46-47). The second signification of “brother” was to refer to individuals who are related, but Matthew did not define explicitly the relationship. For example, Christ taught on murder occurring when one hates his or her brother. He also identified the injustice of one who criticized a brother for a minor issue, while the critic was guilty of a greater fault (Matt. 5:22, 18:15). Finally, Matthew used the term to refer to Christ’s followers. In one incident, Matthew used the term “brother” to contrast Christ’s siblings with his followers. While Jesus was teaching, his mother and brothers came to speak to him. When their presence was 30

Page | 64

Manning, 90.

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 announced to him, he identified his mother and brothers as those, who did “the will of My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 12:50). Those who do not do the will of Christ’s Father are not his brothers. Jesus, therefore, instructed his followers to be distinct from the followers of other religions by greeting not only their siblings or fellow followers of Christ, but by greeting people who were not his followers and do not do the will of his Father. The greeting was not a simple “Hello!” The greeting probably was “Shalom,” and it was meant to express one’s interest in another’s “goodwill” and “desire for the other person’s welfare.”31 Christ’s followers were to be distinct in their pluralistic communities by wishing for the welfare of the diaspora populations around them, despite their religious affiliations. They were not to love only their friends. They were to love their enemies, in order to be consistent with the character of their Heavenly Father (Matt. 5:43-45).32 Daniel is an example of one who demonstrated this love and wished for the well-being of people outside his family and religion.33 Isaiah prophesied that Jerusalem would be ravaged by the Babylonians, and Jeremiah instructed the soon to be exiles how to treat their conquerors. Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “‘Days are coming when all that is in your house and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the Lord. ‘And some of your sons who will issue from you, whom you will beget, will be taken 31

Robert H. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), 99. Leon Morris. The Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992), 133. Jesus alludes to a salutary formula in Matt. 10:12. 32

The greeting of people outside the Christian faith community was a reflection also of one’s love for the followers of other faiths, the real topic of this passage. This love for the followers of other faiths was to be a “generous, warm, costly-sacrifice for another’s good.” D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” in Vol. 8 of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. F. E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), 158. 33

David is another example. He mourned, fasted, and prayed for his adversaries, when they were sick, “as though it were my friend or brother.” Ps. 35:11-14.

Page | 65

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 away, and they will become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon’” (Isa. 39:5-7). Jeremiah counseled the exiles to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare” (Jer. 29:7). Daniel was one of these exiles who applied Jeremiah’s counsel. His God-given wisdom was recognized by Nebuchadnezzar, his conqueror, who promoted him to positions of leadership within the Babylonian government. If Daniel had not worked for the welfare of his enemy, he would not have remained in these positions of leadership in both the Babylonian government and the Persian government that followed (Dan. 1:18-21, 3:46).34 When his rivals wanted to slander his reputation, they could not use his work to benefit the Persian Empire. They only could use his practice of prayer (Dan. 6:4). If followers of Christ fail to live by Christ’s teaching and the example of Daniel, Christ asks them, “What do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matt 5:47). Some manuscripts have the term “publican” or “tax-gather” in Matt. 5:47 and not the term “Gentile.” The understanding is acceptable. The Jews did not equate themselves with the tax-gathers, who were ostracized because of their association with the Romans, the oppressors of the Jews. The tax-gathers, therefore, were treated like pagans.35 The term “tax-gather,” Philip Wesley Comfort explained in his New Testament Text and Translation Commentary, was probably “a carryover from the previous verse. If we trust the documentary evidence the variant cannot be original. The entire verse is lacking in some witnesses (itk syss), probably due to 34

Daniel even wished that an imminent judgment on the Babylonian king had been meant for the king’s enemies (Dan. 4:19)! 35

R. Earle, “Tax Collector,” Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 5, ed. Merrill C. Tenney ς,” Theological Dictionary or the New Testament, vol. 8, ed. Gerhard Friedrich, trans. by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), 103-104. Matt. 18:17.

Page | 66

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 homoeoteleuton—both 5:46 and 5:47 end with the same last three words.” 36 Jesus’ original intent, therefore, was that his followers distinguish themselves from the followers of other religions—the Gentiles—by expressing their desire that the followers of other faiths prosper. He began this section of the Sermon on the Mount correcting some misunderstandings about the second greatest commandment, to love one’s neighbors as oneself. The original intent was not to treat one’s enemies differently, but to love them also. To wish for the welfare of one’s enemies, not just for the welfare of fellow followers of Christ, is consistent with the intent of the second greatest commandment. Christians love their diaspora neighbors by wishing for their welfare, though they follow other gods. Christ expects his followers to distinguish themselves from other religionists by seeking their welfare.

Prayers in Pluralistic Communities All religionists pray. Muslims pray five times a day as one of the five pillars of Islam. Hindus and Buddhists pray with the chanting of mantras. Traditional religionists communicate with the spirit world when they inform a hunted animal of their need for food before they kill it, or when a shaman or healer interacts with the spirit world through incantations. 37 Christians likewise pray. How they pray is the second means by which they distinguish themselves in their pluralistic communities. Jesus instructed his followers to pray in the Sermon on the Mount without perpetuating the patterns of pagan prayers. Jesus said, “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless


Philip Wesley Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 2008), 13. 37

Winfried Corduan, Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 167, 169.

Page | 67

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:7-8). Jesus disapproved of how followers of other faiths prayed. He explicitly stated not to pray “with meaningless repetition,” because this was the general pattern of their prayers. He also explained that the repetition was unnecessary, “because your Father knows what you need, before you ask him” (Matt. 6:8). Jesus nonetheless taught his disciples afterwards how to pray (Matt. 6:9-13). The problem with the practice was not the repetition. Jesus prayed three times in the garden that he would not have to face the cross (Matt. 26:39-44). Paul prayed three times for his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:8). Jesus told the parable of the Persistent Widow to “show that at all times we ought to pray and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1-8). Jesus ended this parable with the following instruction: “Now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?” (Luke 18:7-8). Given Jesus’, Paul’s, and the widow’s persistence, repetition was not the issue. These persistent petitioners were conscious of the meaning of their words. In the case of Christ and the Apostle, they recognized and submitted to the will of God, though it was contrary to their petitions, and ended the cycles of their requests. The operative word in Jesus’ exhortation is “vain” or “meaningless.” The problem is that the meaning of the words are not known by the one praying, who repeats them like a mantra or incantation.38 For example, Christians may use the phrase “in Jesus’ name” in a meaningless manner, when they are not cognizant of the significance of the phrase. Christians may use the phrase habitually to mean, “Okay I’m about done praying and I am about to say, ‘Amen.’”


Page | 68

Craig Blomberg, Matthew (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992), 115-116.

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Sometimes they may use the phrase “in Jesus’ name” as a mantra or magic formula based on Jesus’ instruction that “If you ask in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14). To pray “in Jesus’ name,” however, “means to pray in keeping with his character and concerns and, indeed, in union with him.”39 Ending a prayer with this phrase does not satisfy Jesus’ intentions. He could be paraphrased to say instead, “If you ask according to my character and will, I will do it.” Jesus did not say, therefore, to end prayers with the phrase, “In Jesus’ name.” He said to pray as he would pray. To use the phrase otherwise is a pagan approach to praying. For example, according to Robert H. Gundry, the followers of religions in Jesus’ day “larded their prayers with long lists of divine names and hoped that at least one of the names might prove effective for an answer to their praying. (Knowing the name of a god and pronouncing it correctly was supposed to give a certain power to manipulate the god.) Jesus describes the practice as ineffectual.”40 Two of today’s world religions existed when Jesus taught about prayer, Hinduism and Buddhism. The oldest texts of Hinduism date from 1500 B.C. The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, was born in 560 B.C.41 Jesus lived in a time of globalization and when the teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism were being spread by the adherents of these faiths. What did he know about how they prayed? Both of these religions use the chanting of mantras as part of their prayer life. Was Jesus thinking of the practice of chanting mantras when he said not to pray with “meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do” (Matt. 6:7)?


Rodney A. Whitacre, John (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 355.


Robert H. Gundry, Commentarty on the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010),


Braswell, 25 and 45.


Page | 69

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 The chanting of mantras is repetitive and meaningless. Richard Foltz explained the prayer habits of predecessors of today’s Iranians in his book Religions of Iran. These religionists used verses from the Vedas as incantations. Foltz explained that these verses are formulaic incantations, known only to the privileged priestly class and memorized so as to be performed under specific circumstances in a strictly defined way. Even by the time the first Brahmin priests transcribed them twenty-seven centuries ago these verses were no longer completely understood, but that surely bothers us more than it would have concerned them. As with any magical undertaking, the important thing was to ‘do it exactly right,’ not necessarily to comprehend what was being done, as long as the desired result was obtained.42 The Hindus use mantras to focus their concentration and to venerate a preferred deity or one’s guru. In his 1970’s solo hit “My Sweet Lord,” George Harrison combined Christian vocabulary and Hindu mantras. Early in the song the lyrics are influenced by Christianity. For example, “My Sweet Lord, Hallelujah.” But the latter half of the song has two mantras weaved into the lyrics. One of the mantras is for Krishna, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare43 A mantra that is chanted by Buddhists is The Mantra of Chenrezig (The Buddha of Compassion), Om Mani Padme Hum. Winfried Corduan explains that the phrase means “‘om the jewel is in the lotus, hum.’ Om is, of course, the ancient Hindu phrase expressing the All; hum is a variation thereof. Which jewel is in which lotus is a matter of great scholarly debate.” 44 Tibetan Buddhists chant this mantra to invoke the benevolent attention of Chenrezig. Chanting it once invokes one blessing, twice two blessings. Tibetan Buddhists use prayer wheels to multiply the repetition of the mantra. With each rotation, the practitioner is accredited to have chanted the 42

Richard Foltz, Religions of Iran: From Prehistory to the Present (London, England: Oneworld Publications, 2013), 12; emphasis added. 43


Page | 70

George Harrison, “My Sweet Lord,” 2009 Digital Remaster, Umlaut Corporation/EMI Records Ltd.,

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 mantra the number of times the mantra is written on a scroll inside the prayer wheel. 45 The spinning of the prayer wheel has nothing to do the cognizant prayers of Tibetan Buddhists. They spin the prayer wheel to win the benevolent attention of the Buddha of Compassion, “supposing that they will be heard for their many words” (Matt. 6:7). The problem for Jesus with this pattern of praying is that, first, his followers may be persistent, but they do not know the meaning of their prayed words. Second, when they pray, they repeat a mantra or incantation thinking that the repetition will guarantee God’s favorable response. The repetition of a meaningless prayer formula is not a way to approach God and to invoke his benevolent intervention. Jesus explained, therefore, “Do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8). This second distinctive behavior for followers of Christ in pluralistic communities is a reflection of their relationship with God, the Father. If they pray like the followers of other faiths or chant Scripture or songs meaninglessly like followers of other faiths to garner their petitions from God, they insinuate that God is no different from other gods. If they understand him in a pagan way, then they do not know the God that they are commanded to love with their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deut. 6:5, Matt. 22:37). By praying as Jesus commanded, therefore, his followers distinguish themselves from the followers of other faiths and demonstrate that the God who hears their prayers is unlike other gods. Anxiety in Pluralistic Communities The third behavior that should distinguish followers of Christ in pluralistic communities is not being anxious about material needs. Jesus commanded, “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What


Corduan, 239.

Page | 71

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’” (Matt. 6:31). Jesus gave two reasons to refuse anxiety about material needs. First, the followers of other faiths “eagerly seek these things.” Second, God the Father knows that Christ’s followers need these material provisions (Matt. 6:32). The first reason that Christians are to refuse anxiety about material needs is that nonbelievers are anxious about these things. In his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Craig Blomberg wrote, “Anxiety characterized pagan religions, which were dominated by fears of a capricious and despotic deity who constantly had to be appeased.”46 The gods of these religions were apt to change suddenly. They were unpredictable gods. They were not trustworthy, and they were abusive or oppressive—tyrannical. Followers of such gods turn to a variety of measures either to appease these deities or spirits or to ward off misfortune. They may turn to amulets, necklaces, other jewelry, or objects that they believe emanate a preemptive power. What could be the amulets of the Christian? Crosses, Bibles, a particular tie, coat, or shoes? Followers of Shintoism may leave gifts or sacrifices to gods or dead ancestors to appease them.47 Living family members are obliged to venerate, feed, and care for dead ancestors lest some evil befall the living. Tibetan animists may change the name of a child, in order to hide the identity of the child from malevolent spirit beings, who would otherwise harm her.48 What motivates Christians to choose particular names for their children? Do they believe that a blessing is intrinsic to that name? Anxious followers of other faiths will turn to Shamans, healers, or mediums for advice regarding the solution to a 45



Blomberg, 126.


Braswell, 66-67.


“Demons and Divination,” National Geographic (December 1993), 18-19.

Page | 72

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 present problem or to alleviate anxiety about the future.49 How could the request that the pastor, the youth leader, or Sunday school teacher pray for a Christian be comparable to pagan means of alleviating the anxiety of a particular trial? The followers of pagan religions may watch for omens or other signs. 50 What signs do Christians seek for assurance or warning of imminent danger? The followers of Jesus Christ too can seek assurance via any of these practices. When they do, they are not distinguishing themselves from the followers of other faiths, as Christ commanded them. Windfried Corduan linked ritual to anxiety and challenged the followers of Christ about their reliance on ritual instead of trusting implicitly in their heavenly Father. He wrote, Most actions performed in a religious context involve some sort of ritual. These rituals may hold different meanings for each person participating in them, as well as for each religion that employs them. My own observation is that anxiety never seems to be too far away. Someone may object that the people who participate in a ritual (such as a Sundaymorning worship service or funeral service) do not admit to any anxiety at all. But such assurance belies the feelings that may have gone into the construction of the ritual to begin with. How would these people feel if suddenly they could no longer attend the ritual?51 Because pagans deal with anxiety through these various practices, Christians risk not being any different if they fall into the same tendencies. So Jesus commanded, “Do not be anxious then, . . . for all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek” (Matt. 6:32). Jesus gave the second reason not to be anxious for material needs, “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matt. 6:32). Because God the Father knows the needs of his creatures, anxiety is a contradiction of the Christian profession that God cares (Matt.


Irving, Hexham, Understanding World Religions (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 51, 73-76.


Moyer V. Hubbard, Christianity in the Greco-Roman World: A Narrative Introduction (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010), 35-36.

Page | 73

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 6:30).52 Anxious Christians, who rely on any ritual or other means to deal with anxiety, aside from faith in God the Father, are either practical atheists or practical pagans. They live as though God does not exist or as if they trust other means to placate the spiritual source of their material provisions. Either one of these lifestyles is “an affront to God.”53 All humans, and especially followers of Christ, are worth more to him than flowers and birds, and he knows they need “all these things” (Matt. 6:26, 30, and 32). Non-Christian religions are never evaluated positively in the Gospels. They are considered to be, as William Larkin wrote, “Either blind ignorance or willful rebellion. . . . [They] make long prayers hoping to find the right words which will manipulate the deity into compliance . . . [and they] run after material security, but Christians need not because of the assurance of the care of a heavenly Father who knows what they need.”54 In a pluralistic society Jesus’ followers must be different. Carson wrote, “The follower of Jesus will be concerned to have a distinctive lifestyle, one that is characterized by values and perspectives so un-pagan that his life and conduct are, as it were, stamped all over with the words, ‘Made in the kingdom of God.’”55 Like the second distinctive behavior for Christians, the refusal to worry about their material needs is related to their conception of God. When Christians refuse to be anxious for 51

He adds that the “The basic human tendency is to increase ritual.” Corduan, 35.


Carson does not distinguish the two reasons, because pagans are anxious and God knows our needs. He suggests that the two reasons are to be distinguished from pagans and to maintain a consistency between profession and behavior. D. A. Carson, The Sermon on the Mount: An Evangelical Exposition of Matthew 5-7 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1978), 92. 53

“Worry is practical atheism and an affront to God,” Robert H. Mounce, Matthew, vol. 1 of New International Biblical Commentary (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), 61. 54

Larkin, 78.


Carson, 92.

Page | 74

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 their material needs, knowing that God the Father exists and needs no appeasing ritual to provide for their needs, they demonstrate that he is unlike any other god.

Greatness in Pluralistic Communities Jesus gave his final teaching on behavior that is to distinguish his followers in pluralistic communities, when he and the twelve disciples were headed to Jerusalem for his crucifixion. Along the way, he explained to them that he would be betrayed, condemned, flogged, crucified, and resurrected. James, John, and their mother approached Jesus to request that James and John sit on his right and left. Jesus did not rebuke them for their request; he simply explained the criteria to have these places of honor. After the brothers claimed that they would give their lives as Christ would, Jesus affirmed them, but said that he could not promise them these places of prominence. Only the Father would determine the greatest of his followers (Matt. 20:20-23). When the other disciples learned of this discussion between James, John, and Jesus, they “became indignant.” They too wanted to be the greatest of Jesus’ followers. Jesus, therefore, explained how his followers were to “become great.” He said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matt. 20:25-28) Again Jesus’ followers in their pluralistic communities are not to emulate a pagan or Gentile belief system when they seek to be the greatest among their peers. Hre Kio examined the value of translating this phrase as “rulers of the world,” as is done in the New English Bible. This rendering would include the Jewish rulers. Hre Kio concludes, however, that “it is not likely that

Page | 75

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 the meaning here has suddenly changed to rulers of the world in general, since in the previous passage the term is understood to mean ‘Gentiles’.”56 Ironically, the leaders of a group, however oppressive they may be, become the models of greatness for the oppressed.57 Michael J. Wilkins explained, “For oppressed people who have experienced such hardships, capturing positions of power and authority is the only way they can think of gaining any measure of self-respect and significance.”58 This form of “greatness” evoked “conquest by violence and government by oppression, as opposed to the beneficial service that Jesus [was about to] talk about.”59 Hierarchies are integral to Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. In Hinduism, the caste system reflects both one’s ascendency through the transmigration of the soul towards moshka, and ascendency in the social order.60 A similar caste system exists among the Dolpo, a Tibetan Buddhist people group in Nepal. In the movie Himalaya, the son of a deceased Dolpo chief asks his grandfather how many lives it takes for one to become a chief. His grandfather explains that their family had been chiefs for many years, and that it was his grandson’s turn next. His grandfather explained that the boy’s father passed at his death from the highest level of Dolpo society to the realm of Padmasambhava.61 For Chinese and Japanese religions, the hierarchy of this present life is independent of one’s spiritual ascendency. Nevertheless, social hierarchies are to be observed strictly. In 56

This passage is rendered in the The Good News Translation as “rulers of the heathen.” Hre Kio, 235.


Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, trans. Myra Bergman Ramo (New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc., 2000), 46. 58

Michael J. Wilkins, “Matthew,” in Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, ed. Clinton E. Arnold (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 124. 59

Gundry, Commentary on the New Testament, 88.


Hexham, 139.

Page | 76

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Confucianism, the “five basic relationships” are between son and father, younger brother to older brother, a wife to her husband, a junior to an elder, and a subject to a ruler. 62 The first member listed in these relationships is to show piety, humility, obedience, deference, and loyalty to the second member of the relationship. The second member in the relationship is to show to the first member kindness, gentility, righteous behavior, humane consideration, and benevolence. Corduan identifies ren (jen) as one of the principles at the heart of how these roles are fulfilled by the members of Confucian society.63 He translates this principle as “‘the attitude of seeking the welfare of other people.’”64 While this attitude is laudable, he explains that it falls short of an unconditional love and is only the “inner basis for carrying out what would otherwise be simply mechanical roles in society.”65 Shinto society is similarly ordered in the following levels: emperor, shogun (military leader), feudal lords, samurai, peasant farmers, artisans, and merchants. The underlying principle of Shinto society is the bushido code. “The code promoted loyalty and obedience from one group to the other, emphasizing the virtues of politeness, honor, courage, and reserve.”66 Jesus also acknowledges hierarchies among human beings moving from the lowest members to the highest.67 As evidence of his faith, a Roman centurion explained these dynamics.


Eric Valli, Himalaya, DVD (New York: Kino International, 1999).


Corduan, 294.


The other principle is li or propriety. Corduan, 293.


Corduan, 293. Ibid.



George W. Braswell, Understanding World Religions, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994), 75. 67

Hellerman explains that “social stratification occurs among humans wherever two or more are gathered.” Joseph H. Hellerman, Embracing Shared Ministry: Power and Status in the Early Church and Why It Matters Today

Page | 77

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 He confessed his faith that Christ could heal his servant with a command. He explained, “I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it” (Matt. 8:9). The great men among the pagans are viewed as being at the top of the hierarchy and the least members serve them. Jesus affirms the opposite. The greatest are at the lowest levels of the hierarchy. Joseph Hellerman also captured the pagan hierarchy of Jesus’ day in his book Embracing Shared Ministry. Pagan authorities “used their power and authority almost exclusively in the service of their personal and familial agendas.”68 They used their authority to “humiliate or abuse their inferiors . . . [to] enhance their own status.”69 “Honor,” he explained, “was the most prized social commodity in the Roman world during the New Testament era.”70 They used the taxes that they collected from the lower classes to enhance their own prestige. Hellerman explained, Taxes collected by Rome’s elites and other local dynasts were not earmarked for public works undertaken by faceless government agencies. Those taxes instead became the personal riches of the empire’s well-heeled elite minority. These individuals then used their wealth—tremendous amounts of it, in fact—to engage in public works. . . . Roman aristocrats became the personal patrons of local municipalities. Town fathers responded, in turn, by publically honoring them for their generosity.71 Leaders of Jesus’ day and of the present age seek to maintain the advantage over other people. Regarding the 2014 conflict between Russia and the Ukraine, Robert Kaplan wrote,

(Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Ministry, 2013), 33. Jesus acknowledges the present stratification and identifies himself with the “least” in that hierarchy. Matt. 25:40. A stratification will exist too in the kingdom. Matt. 11:11. 68

Hellerman, 26.


Ibid., 30.


Ibid., 56.


Ibid., 63. Jesus, therefore, adds the idea in Luke 22:25 that his followers were not to pursue greatness like the pagan kings, who “are called benefactors.” The indictment is that these rulers paid no price for the public works—the betterment of the community. They may have been honored in their society for the improvements, but the improvements were made because of the labor and taxes of people from the lower levels of the society.

Page | 78

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 “Western leaders often think in universal terms, while rulers in places like Russia, the Middle East and East Asia think in narrower terms: those that provide advantage to their nations or their ethnic groups only.”72 Romans invited people from the lower levels of society to their meals to enhance their superiority. 73 Hellerman, when commenting on Jesus’ parallel teaching in the Gospel of Mark, reasoned that the Roman readers of this Gospel would have found Jesus’ argumentation that the greatest in the societal hierarchy were the servants to be “utter nonsense—indeed, if put into practice—social suicide.”74 In Jesus’ hierarchy, his followers who are at the lower levels of the present social order and who serve and give the advantage to the members at the higher levels are the greatest. Jesus explained, “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:27-28). This last distinction of followers of Christ in pluralistic communities is in relation, like the first distinction, to the followers’ relationship with other people. This collection of teachings for Christ’s followers to be distinct in pluralistic communities began with his instruction that they love their neighbor and their enemies, to pray for them, and to even wish for their wellbeing. The greatest in Christ’s hierarchy of his followers are the ones at the lower levels, for their role in the present society is to work for the well-being and advantage of the others in the human hierarchy.


Robert D. Kaplan, “Old World Order: How Geopolitics Fuels Endless Chaos and Old-School Conficts in the 21 Century,” Time, March 31, 2014, 33. st


Orations 24.34, quoted in Hellerman, 43.


Hellerman, 42.

Page | 79

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 While his followers live among the followers of other faiths in a globalized world, they distinguish themselves from other religionists by not seeking the higher levels of human hierarchies to acquire greatness. They accept the lower levels and serve the people on the higher levels. They demonstrate, therefore, that they are followers of Jesus Christ, who served, died, and was resurrected as a ransom for the nations. Conclusion: Christ’s Commands and the Great Commission In his Gospel, Matthew recorded Christ’s instructions to his followers to live distinctly from the diasporas among whom they lived and whom they would disciple. By these behaviors the followers of Christ demonstrate either that they are distinct among the followers of other faiths or that the Lord is unlike any other god. First, Jesus instructed his followers to wish for the welfare of the followers of other faiths. These religionists living in diaspora were the neighbors of his followers, and his followers were to love them. Second, Jesus instructed his followers not to pray by repeating incantation-like phrases. Their heavenly Father already knew what they needed. How they prayed was a reflection of the Lord’s distinct character. Third, Jesus instructed his followers not to be anxious for their material needs, because this anxiety was a trait of the followers of other faiths, among whom they lived. God the Father knew their needs. Their ability to trust him was a demonstration that that he was unlike any other god. Fourth, Jesus instructed his followers to seek greatness by being servants—by giving the advantage to the other person instead of seeking greatness by having the advantage over other people. By accepting the lower levels of human hierarchy and ascribing greater honor to these levels, the followers of Christ distinguish themselves again from the followers of other faiths, who consider the ruler at the top of human hierarchy as the greatest.

Page | 80

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 The responsibility of Christians living in a world of diasporas is to live by the Great Commission. While Jesus disapproved of pagan behavior and instructed his followers to avoid their behaviors, he commanded his followers to disciple these diasporas—the ethnē. He commanded them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). Jesus desires that all peoples turn from their false gods and know the only God. By obeying Christ’s commandments, followers of Christ are a distinct witness to others within their pluralistic communities, and demonstrate that the Lord is unlike any other god.

Page | 81

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

Deuteronomy 30:14 As An Explanation For Israel's Sporadic Obedience by Adam Howell

The book of Deuteronomy not only describes Israel's failures in the past, but it also seems to indicate that Israel will be unable to respond to Yahweh in obedience in future generations as well. An emphasis in Deuteronomy is that Israel will not obey, and indeed cannot obey. However, within the book of Deuteronomy and the historical books of the Hebrew Scriptures, there are small pictures of Israel's obedience. The problem is that one must combine these two ideas, that Israel is unable to obey, and yet, Israel obeys. The thesis of this paper is that Israel is in fact able to obey Yahweh, and Israel's disobedience is a product of its unwillingness to obey rather than its inability. The key to understanding Israel's ability to obey is found in Deuteronomy 30:14 and the surrounding context. Also important for the discussion is the nature of obedience under the new covenant. The new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:22-32 indicates that God's people are enabled to obey by means of the Spirit of God (presence) in their hearts. Although the exact location of the presence of God differs, this presence is still the means to genuine obedience if in fact God's people are willing. In this respect, the ability to obey under the Moab covenant and the new covenant are identical, namely that God's presence dwells near his people. To demonstrate that Israel was able to obey, this paper will examine initially the nature and extent of Israel's obedience. In light of our understanding of God's presence, was Israel able to obey? If so, how did they obey and what was the extent of their obedience? Secondly, this article will explore the nature of the presence of God in Deuteronomy. In what Adjunct Professor, Boyce College, Southern Seminary Online

Page | 82

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 way is God present with his people, and does that presence have any bearing on Israel's ability to obey? Finally, we will examine the similarities between the Moab covenant and the new covenant. The renewal of the covenant at Moab appears to be very similar to the new covenant, especially concerning the nature and extent of obedience. In light of these observations, this paper will seek to show that Israel obeyed Yahweh genuinely, yet sporadically, by means of the actual presence of God demonstrated in his narrative presence in torah. 1 Therefore, Israel's genuine, sporadic obedience is similar to the genuine, sporadic obedience of new covenant believers who wait for the future day when their hearts will be circumcised, enabling perfect obedience. Israel's Inability to Obey Some have argued that Israel was completely unable to obey the commands of Yahweh because their disobedience is so paradigmatic and prevalent throughout Deuteronomy – 2 Kings. Since disobedience actually preceded the giving of the law at Horeb, Paul Barker argues that disobedience was an ingrained paradigm for all generations of Israel. 2 Moses brings the golden calf incident to Israel's mind in order to show that the Moab generation was sinful just like the Horeb generation (Deut. 9:13-29). In fact, he says that "you" were the ones who "sinned against the Lord," "provoked the Lord to wrath," and were "rebellious against the Lord" (Deut. 9:16, 22, 24 respectively). Moses not only references the golden calf incident, but he also indicates that this same rebellion occurred at other places along Israel's journey (Deut. 9:22). Barker argues


Editor’s note: “Torah” has several potential meanings. Frequently, the word refers to the Pentateuch specifically, but it can also refer to “instruction” in a more general sense. In this article, “torah” (with a lowercase “t”) denotes the general sense of the word as “instruction.” Contrarily, “Torah” (with a capital “T”) indicates the canonical text. Readers should note, however, that the senses of the word overlap, since the Torah (the canonical text) is torah (instruction). 2

Paul A. Barker, The Triumph of Grace in Deuteronomy (Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster, 2004), 88-92.

Page | 83

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 that this rampant rebellion and conflation of generations indicates that these incidents in Israel's history were paradigmatic for the nation as a whole, and that each subsequent generation was doomed to failure just like its predecessors.3 Barker says that the "spies incident" is also paradigmatic for the nation of Israel. 4 In Deuteronomy chapter 1, Barker imposes a concentric structure that puts the spies' report at the center of the chiasm. 5 Immediately following this report of the spies that the land was good (Deut. 1:25), Moses indicates that in an act of rebellion, "you" failed to enter the land. Again, Moses puts the failure of the past generation on the heads of the current generation. According to Barker, the conflation of generations indicates that the new, Moab generation is akin to those at Horeb regarding its inability to obey. The spies are mentioned explicitly in Deuteronomy 1, but they are also alluded to in 8:7,10 with references to the "good land." In addition, in 8:15, Moses uses terminology reminiscent of 1:27 and 2:7 to bring to mind that Israel failed to enter the land at Kadesh Barnea. Israel's rebellion against the report of the spies is a paradigm of their national sin. Barker concludes, "There is no reason given why the hearer-reader should expect Israel to behave any differently now than it did in the past."6 Arguably, the most direct statement of Israel's inability to obey is in Deuteronomy 29:3. In this passage, Moses indicates that God has not given Israel the ability "to understand God's dealing with them."7 The metaphors used in 29:3 of the various organs that are unable to perform


Barker, Triumph of Grace, 88-92; see also J.G. McConville and J.G. Millar, Time and Place in Deuteronomy (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), 48. 4

Barker, Triumph of Grace, 24-8.


Ibid., 18-19.


Ibid., 73.


Michael A. Grisanti, "Was Israel Unable to Respond to God? A Study of Deuteronomy 29:2-4," Bibliotheca Sacra 163, no. 650 (2006): 179.

Page | 84

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 their proper functions indicate emphatically that Israel is unable to comprehend God's wonders properly.8 Some scholars argue that 29:3, being surrounded by descriptions of the grace of God during the wilderness wanderings, indicates that Israel was unable to understand God's commands at one time, but now, they are able to respond properly to God by means of the giving and expounding of the law.9 Others argue that Israel's failure to understand in 29:3 is "ultimately God's responsibility," and Israel should not be held accountable.10 Barker and Hafeman conclude that 29:3 is a statement of Israel's complete inability to obey until Yahweh creates in Israel sensitive, obedient hearts under the new covenant.11 Grisanti gives a convincing proposal for the view that "Yahweh sovereignly provides spiritual perceptiveness to those who trust him."12 According to this proposal, "The statement in 29:4 [English verse number] was not meant as a word of condemnation, but as a statement that should have motivated God's people to seek genuine covenant conformity, which always required a faith relationship with him."13 Grisanti uses four ideas from the Old Testament to argue his case. First, he says that the Old Testament motif of a remnant indicates that God causes a "genuine faith relationship" with some "individual Israelites."14 Secondly, the national focus of




Christopher T. Begg, "Bread, Wine and Strong Drink in Deut. 29:5a," Bijdragen 41 (1980): 273.


See Grisanti, "Was Israel Unable to Respond," 188 for those who hold this view.


Barker, Triumph of Grace; Scott Hafeman, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995). 12

Grisanti, "Was Israel Unable to Respond," 188.




Ibid., 190; Block links faith with obedience by showing that a lack of obedience indicates a lack of faith. (Daniel Block, "The Grace of Torah: The Mosaic Prescription for Life [Deut. 4:1-8; 6:20-25]," Bibliotheca Sacra 162, no. 645 [2005]: 19); Hamilton speaks about Old Testament Israel and says, "for probably a small percentage of the population at large, faith came by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (James M Hamilton, Jr., "God With

Page | 85

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Deuteronomy 29-30 extends this provision of faith to the nation as a whole.15 Thirdly, the nature of the Mosaic covenant does not rule out the possibility of an internal effect of the law. Deuteronomy 5:29 indicates that keeping the commands and fearing God is an issue of the "mind." In addition, many passages in Deuteronomy speak of things that influence the heart of a person for the good, and most of these are related to the torah in some way. 16 Finally, the Old Testament idea of an inner spiritual reality shows that one function of the demands of Yahweh was to elicit obedience from the heart rather than mere outward conformity. 17 Deuteronomy regularly places the emphasis of the law on loving, fearing, and serving Yahweh (Deut. 4:30; 6:2, 5, 13, 24; 7:9, 12; 10:12, 20; 11:1, 13; 13:4; 28:58; 30:6). This type of vocabulary shows that the law was intended to work on Israel's heart in addition to giving them statutes by which to live in the land. Therefore, rather than seeing Deuteronomy 29:3 as an exhaustive statement of Israel's inability to obey, it should be understood as Israel's inability to obey apart from Godgiven perceptiveness to the internal intention of the law.18 One final passage that explicitly portrays Israel's inability to obey (serve) Yahweh is Joshua 24:19. This passage recalls Deuteronomy 30:15-20 when Joshua tells the people to "choose this day whom you will serve" (Josh. 24:15). The people rashly respond to this command in 24:16-18, and Joshua quickly rebukes them with an explicit statement of their

Men in the Torah," WTS 65, no. 1 [2003]: 124); see also John Sailhamer, "The Mosaic Law and the Theology of the Pentateuch," WTS 53, no. 2 (1991): 254 and Barker Triumph of Grace, 124. 15 Grisanti ("Was Israel Unable to Respond," 190-1) argues that a major difference between the old and new covenants is that the participates under the new covenant are all believers whereas under the old covenant, not all of Israel were able to see with eyes of faith. Therefore, the provision of faith was extended to all Israel, but all Israel did not necessarily receive it. 16

Barker, Triumph of Grace, 159. The passages that say the Torah has a positive influence on the heart are: Deut. 4:9; 6:6; 8:5; 11:18; 17:19-20; 26:16; 30:1; 30:14; 32:46. 17


Grisanti, "Was Israel Unable to Respond," 192.

One must keep in mind here that this internal dependence is only one intention of the Law, and even then, it is not a primary intention of the Law.

Page | 86

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 inability "to serve the Lord." Israel's inability here should be understood similarly to Deuteronomy 29:3. Some could argue that this "service" is the same as that in Acts 17:25 where God cannot be served because he does not need anything. However, in light of the Deuteronomic understanding that the word "serve" means covenantal faithfulness, Joshua 24:19 is best understood as Israel's inability to keep the promise they have just made in vv16-18. Israel on two other occasions in this short passage says that it will serve the Lord (vv21, 24). Joshua is skeptical about their obedience and therefore made a covenant with the people at Shechem. 19 One fascinating aspect of this final chapter of Joshua is that immediately following Joshua's statement about Israel's inability to serve Yahweh, the text says, "Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel" (Josh. 24:31). It is important to recognize that something enabled Israel to "serve the Lord" even though Deuteronomy and Joshua are confident that Israel is "not able to serve the Lord." Israel's Obedience From the above discussion, it appears that Israel is unable to obey apart from a work of Yahweh in the lives and hearts of individual Israelites. However, one must account for the passages of the Old Testament that demonstrate Israel's obedience. These two ideas must be combined in order to understand the full biblical witness. The following section argues that Israel's obedience was genuine, sporadic, and in response to Yahweh's initiative. The first instance of Israel's obedience is in Deuteronomy 2:37. Yahweh commands Israel not to harass the people of Ammon in 2:17-19. The reason they should not harass the Ammonites 19

Stek says, "‌circumstances occasioned doubts concerning desire or promised courses of action. The specific purpose of 'covenants' was to add a guarantee of fulfillment to commitments made." (John H. Stek, "Covenant Overload in Reformed Theology," CTJ 29, no. 1 [1994]: 25). Therefore, in light of Joshua's doubts about Israel's obedience, he made a covenant with them at Shechem.

Page | 87

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 is that Yahweh has not given Israel Ammon's land. The land that Israel was commanded to occupy (the land of Canaan) is always said to be given into their hand by Yahweh. The land was God's possession, and only he was at liberty to disperse it.20 In Deuteronomy 2:17-19, Yahweh said to Moses that the land of the Ammonites had not been given to Israel as a possession. In other words, it was not part of the "promised land," and therefore Israel was obedient to the command of Yahweh by not drawing near to the land of the sons of Ammon. The second instance of Israel's obedience concerns the defeat of Sihon and Og. Deuteronomy 2:26-36 describes Israel's defeat of Sihon, and 3:1-17 describes Israel's settlement in Bashan. Both stories parallel Numbers 21:21-31. Although Yahweh gave the lands of Sihon and Og into Israel's hand, Israelite soldiers were the people who defeated these two kings (Num. 21:24, 35; Deut. 2:33-36; 3:3-8). One could argue that since Yahweh had already done the work of handing over Sihon and Og that Israel was not legitimately obedient. However, this conclusion takes human responsibility out of the picture. In order to maintain both divine initiative and human responsibility, one must see Israel's obedience here as genuine. Millar says, "The conquest of the Transjordan is held up as an example of the way things should be done."21 Moses would not have portrayed the defeat of Sihon and Og as a paradigm for obedience if it had not been genuine obedience. The final two instances of Israel's obedience find their command in Deuteronomy and their fulfillment in Joshua. The first is the command to occupy the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Deut. 1:21; see also Exod. 33:1, 3). This command is fulfilled in Joshua 3-8,


Hans E. von Waldow, "Israel and Her Land: Some Theological Considerations," in A Light Unto My Path: Old Testament Studies in Honor of Jacob M. Meyers, ed. Howard N. Bream, Ralph D. Heim, and Carey A. Moore (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1974), 498. 21

J. Gary Millar, Now Choose Life: Theology and Ethics in Deuteronomy (Downer's Grove: Intervarsity; Leicester, England: Apollos, 1998), 69.

Page | 88

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 21:43-45, and 23:14-15.22 The latter two passages refer to Yahweh's fulfillment of his promises to the forefathers, and yet, these passages affirm that it was Israel who "took possession" of the land. Joshua 3-8 tells the stories of the early conquest of Canaan, and this conquest was the means by which Israel obeyed Yahweh and took possession of the land. Joshua 8 concludes with the renewal of the covenant at Mount Ebal, which is the final demonstration of Israel's obedience. The command to build an altar at Mount Ebal and write the words of the law on stone pillars is given in Deuteronomy 27:1-8. From "uncut stones" to offering sacrifices on the altar, Joshua, and by extension Israel, obeyed each detail of this command. Perhaps there are other instances of obedience within the life of Israel, but these will suffice for the present discussion. These simple instances of Israel's obedience give one the criteria by which to determine that Israel's obedience was genuine. First, Israel responded to an initiative of Yahweh. Barker points out several verses in chapters 1-3 that employ some form of the phrase, "The Lord said to me" (Deut. 1:42; 2:2, 9, 17, 31; 3:2).23 Each verse demonstrates that Yahweh has involved himself in the life of Moses, and by extension, in the life of Israel. In some places, this initiative of Yahweh takes the form of a command (Deut. 1:21; 2:19). Other references to God's initiative involve God's covenantal promises to the patriarchs. Scholarship generally agrees that God would fulfill his covenantal promises unconditionally. 24 Therefore, these promises were the overriding initiative that God set forth in order to call his people to obedience. In the few cases described above, Israel's obedience is genuine because it was the response to God's initiative. Secondly, Israel's obedience is genuine because it demonstrates a dependence on 22

Jeffrey Townsend, "Fulfillment of the Land Promise in the Old Testament," Bibliotheca Sacra 142, no. 568 (1985): 329. 23

Barker, Triumph of Grace, 41.


See Walter Kaiser, "The Promise Theme and the Theology of Rest," Bibliotheca Sacra 130, no. 518 (1973): 135-138 for an example of the promise theme in the Old Testament.

Page | 89

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Yahweh. Since each instance of obedience above carries with it the idea of God's initiative, for Israel to follow through in obedience indicates that they were in some way, though perhaps a minor way, trusting Yahweh. When Israel was commanded to leave the sons of Ammon alone, that command was prefaced with, "the Lord said to me." When Israel was commanded to enter the promised land, they were told that this movement from the wilderness was a result of God's promises to the patriarchs. When Israel was commanded to defeat Sihon and Og, they were told that Yahweh has given them into their hand. The worship at Mount Ebal was intended to give Israel an opportunity to recognize the greatness of God, particularly in his giving them the law. Each time Israel obeyed, its obedience was in response to either a direct command of Yahweh or an implicit initiative by Yahweh. Therefore, when Israel obeyed, at least in these instances, they were respectful and fearful enough of Yahweh and his commands to carry out his revealed desires.25 One more thing should be said about the nature of Israel's obedience. Israel's obedience is only sporadic and temporary.26 One does not have to read far after each of the above instances of obedience to realize that Israel was not entirely faithful. One example is the command to enter the land and conquer the people of Canaan. Israel failed to dispossess the Gibeonites, and in Judges 1:21-36, one learns that seven of the twelve tribes of Israel failed to drive out completely the inhabitants of their respective territories. As it pertains to obedience to the law of God, Israel was consistently disobedient. The first thing Israel did at Sinai was to build an idol as a false representation of Yahweh (Exod. 32). Almost immediately after the death 25

Millar argues that fear is a vague term for obedience in Deuteronomy since Israel is on an ethical journey. The author cannot explain obedience any further than abstract terms like fear, serve, love, etc., because this Law will continually be reinterpreted in new situations. See Millar Now Choose Life, 45. See also Grisanti, "Was Israel Unable to Obey," 192, and Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005), 586. 26

Page | 90

Barker, Triumph of Grace, 125.

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 of Joshua, Israel began to make covenants with the surrounding nations and intermarry with them (Judg. 2:1-3; 16:4ff.). Both of these actions were forbidden in the law. Israel's obedience was not only sporadic, but it was also temporary. None of these instances of Israel's obedience indicates that it had experienced the necessary change of heart that is required for perfect obedience (Deut. 30:6). Therefore, Israel's obedience was not permanent. The record shows that Israel was rampantly disobedient, and it is understandable that many scholars conclude that Israel was unable to obey Yahweh. However, there are at least four instances mentioned above that evidence Israel's obedience. The sporadic and temporary nature of Israel's obedience does not rule out the fact that their obedience was genuine. They acted in response to the initiative of Yahweh and thus demonstrated at least some fear of Yahweh. It appears there is a contradiction in the book of Deuteronomy. Israel is unable to obey; yet, Israel genuinely obeys at times. The next section will answer how Israel was able to obey in light of their drastic tendency to disobey. Deuteronomy 30:14 The key to understanding how Israel was able to obey in light of their apparent inability is found in Deuteronomy 30:14. Deuteronomy 30:11-14 is part of the larger section beginning in 30:1. 30:1-10 is undoubtedly oriented in the future. The temporal ‫ כי‬clauses in 30:1-3 and 10 point to the future. In addition, the use of the Hebrew imperfect indicates incomplete action, and here, probably refers to the future.27 Therefore, 30:6, when Yahweh circumcises the hearts of Israel, is clearly future-oriented. Some scholars extend this future outlook into verses 11-14, saying that the word on Israel's heart and in her mouth is the eschatological torah written on their


Wilhelm Gesenius, Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar ed. E. Kautzsch, trans. A.E. Cowley (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2006), 316, §107i; Paul Jouon, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew trans. and rev. T. Muraoka, (Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 2000), 2:366, §113b.

Page | 91

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 hearts in the new covenant.28 The arguments that 30:11-14 deal primarily with the future are strong, and they will not be completely disregarded here. However, there is also a sense that the word is near Israel in the present. The use of the word "today" indicates that Deuteronomy 30:1114 refers to the present.29 The word ‫ יום‬occurs 167 times in the book of Deuteronomy, and at least forty-seven of those occurrences are used with the definite article to indicate present time (‘today’). Of the forty-seven occurrences of ‫היום‬, twenty-seven of them are used with some form of ‫ והמצ‬or ‫צוה‬. Deuteronomy 30:11 is one of the examples where the definite article is used with ‫ יום‬in conjunction with the ‫מצוה‬/‫ צוה‬word group. Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that there is also a present aspect to 30:11-14.30 Millar captures both the future and present ideas well when he says, "Ultimately divine action is necessary for the consistent fulfillment of the spirit and letter of the law. In the immediate present Israel is equipped to 'choose to serve Yahweh'."31 Israel is unable in the present to obey Yahweh indefinitely and therefore vv11-14 look forward to the future day when Yahweh will circumcise Israel's heart, enabling permanent obedience. However, in light of Israel's obedience prior to its new heart in the eschaton, one can also see in 30:11-14 the explanation for Israel's present obedience.

Divine Presence in Deuteronomy Israel is able to obey by means of the presence of God near the people of God. The presence of God that enables obedience is manifested primarily through the "word" that is on Israel's heart and in its mouth (Deut. 30:14). Peter Vogt has made a convincing argument that the 28

Barker, Triumph of Grace, 182-98; Grisanti, "Was Israel Unable to Respond," 194; Steven R. Coxhead, "Deuteronomy 30:11-14 as a Prophecy of the New Covenant in Christ," WTS 68, no. 2 (2006): 306-8. 29

Gesenius, Hebrew Grammar, 404, §126b.


J. Gordon McConville, Grace in the End: A Study in Deuteronomic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), 137; Coxhead, "Deuteronomy 30:11-14," 308 n12. 31

Page | 92

McConville and Miller, Time and Place, 82.

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 presence of God in Deuteronomy is displayed in torah.32 Additionally, Goldingay presents the idea of the "narrative presence of God" in the Old Testament.33 Combining these two ideas, this section will argue that Israel was able to obey because they had the genuine presence of God in their midst by means of the narratives of Yahweh's mighty acts and the consistent public declaration of the Torah.

Divine Presence in the Torah Peter Vogt uses Deuteronomy 4 to combat the idea of "demythologization" in Deuteronomy. According to Vogt, Deuteronomy 4:7-8 and 4:32-34 place an emphasis "on Israel's unique experience of Yahweh's nearness and their status as recipients of Torah."34 He goes on to say that 4:7-8 and 4:32-34 are linked, and thus, "the sense here is that the nearness of Yahweh and the Torah are closely related."35 Vogt argues that this connection is so close that "Yahweh's immanent presence is firmly established through Torah. He is not 'relocated' but is, rather, present in some way through Torah – the manner that he, as the unique God, has chosen."36 If Vogt's arguments are true, then he is implying that the presence of God is with the people of God in a very real and unique way, namely, through the torah. Since the torah was given, both at Horeb, and now again at Moab, the torah was near them, and in fact, Deuteronomy 30:14 indicates the same. Therefore, if one understands Vogt correctly, one can conclude that Yahweh's presence in Deuteronomy is with Israel by means of the torah.


Peter T. Vogt, Deuteronomic Theology and the Significance of Torah: A Reappraisal (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2006), 113-59. 33

John Goldingay, Old Testament Theology: Israel's Faith (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2006), 99.


Vogt, Deuteronomic Theology, 129.




Ibid., 130.

Page | 93

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Although Vogt's arguments are convincing, he does not speak specifically to the situation in Deuteronomy 30:14. The question now stands, Is the "word" on Israel's heart the torah? The connection must now be made between the word on Israel's heart and the torah in order to conclude that this "word" in 30:14 is representative of the presence of God. Barker argues that Deuteronomy 1:1-5 links history with law, and that "Moses' words are identified with Yahweh's words and are identified with torah (v5b)."37 Therefore, as early as the introduction to the book of Deuteronomy, Moses' words are linked to torah. Throughout Deuteronomy, when Moses speaks of the statutes, commands, rules, ordinances, etc., he is speaking of Yahweh's torah. Barker also observes in 29:28 that the "revealed things" are sufficient for genuine obedience and are best interpreted by 30:11-14.38 The revealed things are best understood as the immediate context of Deuteronomy.39 Braulik has done an extensive analysis of the word ‫ דברים‬and concluded that it parallels the "commandment" in 30:11. He says, "Both [terms] refer to the whole legal corpus, including parenesis."40 Coxhead says that the "commandment" in 30:11-13 refers to the whole of the Mosaic law.


He claims that the "word" of Deuteronomy 30:14 is the "Mosaic

commandment or torah" that is expressed in 30:11.42 In conclusion, the whole of the Mosaic law is summed up in the term "commandment" and this term is parallel to the "word" on Israel's heart in 30:14. Therefore, one is correct to see the "word" on Israel's heart as the torah. So far, we have determined that the presence of God is in torah, and that this torah is the 37

Barker, Triumph of Grace, 13-4.


Ibid., 139-40.


McConville and Millar, Time and Place, 82.


G. Braulik, "Die Ausdrucke fur Gesetz im Buch Deuteronomium, Biblica 51, no. 1 (1970): 45-9, cited and translated in Barker, Triumph of Grace, 183 n472. 41

Coxhead, "Deuteronomy 30:11-14," 314.


Ibid.., 318.

Page | 94

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 "word" that is near Israel. The logical conclusion is that the presence of God was near Israel in Deuteronomy 30:11-14, and therefore, Israel was enabled to obey. The next step in the argument is to show exactly how God's presence was in torah. Vogt's conclusions are solid, but he regularly says that Yahweh's presence is in the torah "somehow."43 Goldingay presents the idea of the "narrative presence" of God, and this form of God's presence explains Israel's obedience.

The Narrative Presence of God Goldingay defines the narrative presence of God as his presence "in the telling of the story of the great acts whereby God created the world, brought Israel into being and has delivered it over the centuries."44 This idea of the presence of God not only helps one understand exactly how Yahweh was with Israel, but it also provides the motivation for their obedience. The narrative presence of God is found in both the historical and legal sections of the torah, and therefore, to the degree that Israel encounters either the narratives of God's mighty acts or the commands of God, it encounters the divine presence.45 Janzen summarizes this idea well, …the word Torah embraces both the provision of Yahweh's law and the narration of Yahweh's saving acts. Law and story are two modes of one and the same agency: the Torah of Yahweh's life-giving action. (As such, Torah – especially given its placement in the ark – can be taken as a form of Yahweh's saving presence in Israel's midst.) Correspondingly, belief in the story and obedience to the law are two modes of one appropriate covenant response."46


Vogt, Deuteronomic Theology, 129, 130.


Goldingay, Old Testament Theology, 99.


Ian Wilson, "Divine Presence in Deuteronomy," TB 43, no. 2 (1992): 403-6.


J. Gerald Janzen, "The Yoke That Gives Rest," Interpretation 41, no. 3 (1987): 261-2 [italics mine]; see also James A. Sanders, "Torah and Christ," Interpretation 29, no. 4 (1975): 372.

Page | 95

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Gordon Wenham has written an insightful book, entitled Story as Torah.47 In this work, Wenham uses literary critical theory to show that the genre of prose/narrative always intends to portray a didactic message. The narrative is not for the sake of story-telling alone, but the narrative is "implicitly didactic, because it involves the reader's imaginative involvement." 48 Although Wenham uses literary material from modern fiction, he applies this theory to the Old Testament. He says, "‌the Old Testament books do have a didactic purpose, that is, they are trying to instill both theological truths and ethical ideas into their reader."49 Wenham not only thinks that the Bible has this didactic purpose, but he says that the didactic potential of biblical literature is seen most clearly in historical narratives. He says, "It is evident that historical writing makes a much stronger claim on its readers than fiction: this is what really happened and is important, is at least implied by every historian."50 Particularly related to the Old Testament, Wenham argues, As far as the Old Testament is concerned, despite modern scholars' doubts about their historical reliability, there is no doubt that most of the Old Testament narratives claim to be historical and were read that way by their first readers. Because these accounts profess to be dealing with the historical origins and later experiences of the nations, they were doubtless perceived by their readers as having intrinsic authority. Therefore, to identify their ethical norms and values should clarify their didactic purpose.51 Wenham's work is helpful for understanding how Yahweh's presence could be near Israel in the torah. If the torah encompasses the entirety of history and law, and if the historical narratives have the particular ability to present a didactic message, then it seems that as Israel


Gordon J. Wenham, Story as Torah: Reading the Old Testament Ethically (Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark, 2000). 48

Wennham, Story as Torah, 12.


Ibid., 3.


Ibid., 12


Ibid., 13.

Page | 96

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 continually repeats its story to subsequent generations, it will encounter the presence of Yahweh anew. The narrative presence of God is both the proper method of experiencing the presence of Yahweh and the motivation for genuine obedience. The narrative presence of God is seen most clearly when Israel rehearses its history and/or reads and recites the law. Since the presence of God is found in torah (and the associated narratives), it follows that Israel would experience the presence of God as they memorize and declare the stories of their history (Deut. 6:6-7). Israel is commanded to "teach" Moses' words to their children and to those who are going over the Jordan (Deut. 4:10, 14; 6:1, 7-9; 11:19-20; 31:12-13, 19). Moses tells Israel that when children ask the meaning of these statutes and rules, they should repeat to them the history of Israel beginning with slavery in Egypt and ending with the exhortation to obey (Deut. 6:20-25).52 In addition, the Deuteronomic legislation indicates the importance of repeating the torah. Deuteronomy 31:9-13 recounts Moses' legislation on the reading of the law. It is to be read at regular intervals, in the presence of the people of Israel, and for the purpose of learning "to fear the Lord your God" (Deut. 31:10; 12a; 12b-13 respectively).53 The legislation for the king (Deut. 17:14-20) and for the prophets (Deut. 18:9-22) also points to the importance and appropriateness of Israel continuing to hear its story. Millar says that the law of the prophets indicates that "[Yahweh] will keep speaking; it is the work of Israel to keep listening."54 Finally, Israel's tendency to forget is evidence that it is proper for them to


Block, says that this passage is set in the context of everyday living instructions (in "The Grace of Torah," 4). Therefore, the idea of teaching the children should be part of normal daily instruction. 53

Millar, while speaking of Deuteronomy 31:9-13, says it was a "necessity that Israel re-enact the decisions at Horeb, Moab, and Shechem at each and every moment of their national existence" (McConville and Millar, Time and Place, 84). 54

Millar, Now Choose Life, 129. Millar sees the idea of "journey" as central to Deuteronomic theology. The prophets would expound the Torah for Israel in future generations as the life and situation of Israel changed. Therefore, as Israel continued on its journey, the prophets would have been a necessary office if Israel were going to continue to experience the presence of Yahweh.

Page | 97

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 continue hearing their narrative history. Millar says, "God's people, then, must immerse themselves totally in the atmosphere of the divine word, because they need to counter their innate tendency to forget. All kinds of visual and memory aids are necessitated by their weakness."55 Peter Vogt, after examining the work of J.P. Sonnet, concludes, "It seems that there is an important relationship between receiving the words of Yahweh and passing them on."56 The passing on of Israel's history and Yahweh's commands is the means by which Yahweh's presence is experienced and perpetuated in Israel. Not only is the perpetual passing on of the narratives of Israel the proper method to maintain the presence of Yahweh, but the proper motivation for Israel's obedience is also found in the narratives of Israel's history. The argument so far has stated that because Yahweh's presence was with Israel in the narration of the torah, Israel was enabled to obey. Obedience and narration of the torah are linked in this way. Namely, as Israel tells its story of the mighty acts of Yahweh, it portrays the true character of Yahweh, which elicits enough fear to cause Israel to obey, and enough faith to believe the promises of this great God. Several passages indicate that the telling of Yahweh's mighty acts should be the motivating factor in Israel's obedience. Firstly, Deuteronomy 1-3 is probably the most extensive rehearsal of Israel's history in the Pentateuch. Moses portrays an accurate history of Israel, including their failures. However, whether describing Israel's obedience (Sihon and Og), or describing Israel's failure (spies), Moses paints the picture in light of God's great character. In Deuteronomy 4, Moses then gives a strong exhortation to Israel to obey the commands of Yahweh. Moses places within his exhortation remarks that "your eyes have seen" and "you heard the sound of words" (Deut. 4:3, 9, 12). In other words, the indicative about who God is and what 55

Ibid., 166-7.


Vogt, Deuteronomic Theology, 156.

Page | 98

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 he has done for Israel is intended to be the motivation for the imperative that Israel might obey the commands of Yahweh.57 Chapter 4 then ends with Moses' introduction to the law, and he again alludes to the defeat of Sihon and Og in order to bring to mind Yahweh's great act in giving these two kings into Israel's hand. The indicative is motivation for the imperative. Secondly, Deuteronomy 10:12-13 links fear of God with obedience. The narratives evidently have the capacity to elicit enough fear to enable obedience. As Israel regularly heard of the wonders of Yahweh, they would have sporadically and temporarily experienced a genuine fear that led to obedience. The link in 10:12-13 with the fear of God follows the narrative of the new tablets of stone (Deut. 10:1-11). Moses does not explicitly appeal to Yahweh's mercy for preserving Israel, but surely, Israel would have remembered Moses' intercession when he was on the mountain forty days and forty nights (Deut. 10:10). This remembrance would have brought to Israel's mind the true character of Yahweh as merciful and patient. After this recognition, Israel would have the proper motivation for obedience, namely, fear of God elicited by the character of God. Once again, the presence of God in the narrative of his people was the motivating factor for commanding Israel to fear Yahweh. Thirdly, Deuteronomy 29:1-2 rehearses the history of Israel by recalling the things the Lord did in the land of Egypt. Grisanti says that these verses echo Exodus 19:4 where Moses gives the "divine rationale for the Law."58 In Deuteronomy 29:1-2, as well as in Exodus 19:4,


Gerhard von Rad, "Ancient Word and Living Word," in From Genesis to Chronicles (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005), 92. Von Rad uses the term "paraclesis" to describe Deuteronomy. He says that the indicative that the promises of God would in fact stand is what leads to the imperative, namely, Moses exhorting obedience. Diepold also says, "The reality of the covenant enables the indicative and the imperative to fully unfold one another, to that the indicative does not become cheap grace, but also so that the imperative does not degenerate to worksrighteousness" [my translation]. Peter Diepold, Israels Land (Stuttgart, Germany: Verlag W. Kohlhammer, 1972), 100. 58

Grisanti, "Was Israel Unable to Respond," 178.

Page | 99

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Moses refers to the history of Israel in order to motivate them to obedience.59 Deuteronomy 29:67 recalls the defeat of Sihon and Og once again as the motivation for present obedience. Deuteronomy 29:8 makes the connection clear with the vav-consecutive and the perfect to indicate a resulting exhortation (‫)ושׁמרתם‬.60 Therefore, the command to obey in 29:8 is couched in the historical narrative of Israel. Finally, Joshua 24:2-13 rehearses God's mighty works on Israel's behalf as motivation for obedience. This narrative precedes the statement, "Now therefore, fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness" (Josh. 24:14a). Once again, the idea of fear is linked to obedience following a motivating narration of Israel's past. Space will not allow us to mention the times when the reading of God's law elicits obedience (2 Kgs 22:8-23:27; Neh 8-13), but these passages also demonstrate that the history of Israel and the regular reading of the law are proper motivations for obedience. This section has sought to show that Israel was able to obey because the presence of God, in the recitation of the law and the narration of Israel's history, was the proper means and motivation for obedience.61 The final issue to address is whether this understanding of obedience is legitimate. In order to demonstrate that it is, we will compare the Moab covenant and the new covenant, especially regarding the nature and extent of obedience. Moab Covenant and the New Covenant The key to understanding the nature of Israel's obedience throughout its history is to


Ibid. Grisanti says, "This historical summary serves as a motivation for action (cf. Deut. 1:30-32; 11:2-


Gesenius Hebrew Grammar, 335 §112aa.



Contra Moshe Weinfeld, who says, "…the chief incentive employed by the deuteronomic school to induce the nation to observe its teaching is the concept of national reward," in Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1972), 307.

Page | 100

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 recognize the similarities between the Moab covenant in Deuteronomy 29-30 and the new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:22-32. As previously demonstrated, the Moab covenant involved the presence of God among his people in the torah and the narratives of Israel's history. In the new covenant, however, the presence of God is not only among his people, but it dwells within them.62 Ezekiel 36:27 says, "And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules." It seems that the means for obedience in the new covenant is that the Spirit of God (presence of God)63 is near his people (within them), similarly to how the torah (presence of God) was near Israel in Deuteronomy 30:14. In both covenants, this presence of God was the means and motivation for obedience. Deuteronomy 30:1-10 actually looks forward to this future day with the concept of circumcision of the heart. It is reasonable then to view Deuteronomy 30:14 as a picture of the new covenant at least, and at most, a seminal form of the new covenant. The presence of God enabled and motivated obedience under both covenants. Further similarities between the Moab covenant and the new covenant will solidify this understanding of Israel's obedience. First, both the Moab covenant and the new covenant look forward to a fuller fulfillment. Deuteronomy 30:6 indicates that Israel is looking forward to the day when Yahweh will circumcise their hearts, enabling permanent obedience. 64 Israel was able to obey in Deuteronomy 30:14, but perfect and continual obedience was lacking. Likewise, the


Weinfeld says that with the law written on the hearts, it will not be "enforced from without through learning and indoctrination which could be forgotten or put out of mind, but would be implanted in a man's heart so that it would not depart from the heart and not be forgotten," in Weinfeld, "Jeremiah and the Spiritual Metamorphosis of Israel," Zeirschfirt fur die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 88, no. 1 (1976): 26. 63

Thomas McComiskey, The Covenants of Promise: A Theology of Old Testament Covenants (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985), 89. 64

Millar, Now Choose Life, 182. He says, "The complete fulfillment of Deuteronomy 30 remains elusive, and will do so until the day of God's final intervention in human history, when finally we shall be able to live in the way God requires, to love him with heart and soul and strength."

Page | 101

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 new covenant awaits the return of Christ as its final fulfillment.65 Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:22-32 speak of a transforming work of God on the inner nature of believers, but neither passage indicates that this inner renewal occurs before the Second Advent of Christ. Barker summarizes the link between these two covenants well. Speaking of Deuteronomy 30:6-8, he says, Perhaps an eschatological perspective is helpful here. The New Testament makes it clear that the circumcision of the heart is associated with identification in Christ's death and the giving of the Spirit [i.e., the new covenant]. Yet it is also clear that Christians do not yet perfectly love and obey. Perfection belongs to the eschaton. However, with the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the eschaton has broken into the current age. The changing of the heart by Jesus' death and the giving of the Spirit is a guarantee of perfect obedience in the end. This is the end of a process called sanctification, rather than the immediate result of a single action. This perspective of a gradual process is not apparent in Deuteronomy 30. It anticipates the one future event, guaranteeing perfect obedience.66 Therefore, neither the Moab covenant, nor the new covenant enables perfect obedience. Rather, both covenants look forward to a day of future fulfillment. Moab looks forward to the new covenant and the guarantee of perfect obedience whereas the new covenant looks forward to the Second Advent of Christ when its guarantee will become a reality. Another similarity is that obedience in both covenants was ultimately a matter of faith. Sailhamer argues that the author of the Pentateuch "seized on the Abrahamic narratives" in order to show that "'keeping the law' means 'believing in God.'"67 His general conclusion is that faith is the primary means of any form of obedience. Similarly, Grisanti argues that God grants the ability to see and understand to those who have faith in God and are given this ability by God's 65

Walter Kaiser, "The Old Promise and the New Covenant: Jeremiah 31:31-34," JETS 1, no. 1 (1972): 20. He says, "‌only in the eschaton will God's presence dwell fully with men." 66

Barker, Triumph of Grace, 178 [italics mine]. See also Adrian Schenker, "Unwiderrufliche Umkehr und Neuer Bund: Vergleich zwischen Dt 4:25-31,30:1-14, Jer 31:31-34," Freiberger Zeitschrift fur Philosophie und Theologie 27, no. 1-2 (1980): 106. When comparing the two covenants he says, "The Deuteronomistic theology stands under the centrality of change and reconstitution that will definitely happen. Jeremaic theology leads to the circumcision of the heart,‌ and is the new creation, combining God's will and thinking." 67

Sailhamer, "The Mosaic Law," 254.

Page | 102

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 initiative.68 Under the Moab covenant, faith was granted to those who heard the narrative torah and were given eyes to see the didactic purpose of the story.69 Only then does the actual presence of Yahweh in the torah become apparent and effective. Under the new covenant, the presence of God is only given to those who have faith. Once again, these two covenants are more similar than one would originally think. The final similarity is that both covenants enable only temporary, sporadic obedience. Under the Moab covenant, Israel had moments of genuine victory, but these moments were fleeting at best. Under the new covenant, the Apostle Paul did the very things he did not want to do, and was unable to do the things he wanted to (Rom 7:7-25). Therefore, there is a continual battle that believers must fight until the day that the guarantee of perfect obedience becomes a reality. For Israel, sporadic obedience came through the recitation of its history, causing fear and dependence on the Author of that story. For new covenant believers, sporadic obedience comes through a deep dependence on the presence of God's indwelling Spirit. One more note should be added about the similarities between these two covenants regarding disobedience. If the Moab generation and new covenant believers have been given the ability to obey, then why did neither Israel nor new covenant believers obey? The God-given ability to obey does not guarantee the willingness to obey. In fact, the Deuteronomic term, ‫ קשׁה־ערף‬indicates a lack of willingness rather than a lack of ability. Van der Woude says, "The image derives from cattle used as draft animals, whose power seems to be concentrated in the


Grisanti, "Was Israel Unable to Respond," 188.


Hamilton, ("God With Men in the Torah," 124) says, "We can therefore conclude that some Israelites who saw the fire and heard the voice (Deut. 4:36) were hardened like the Egyptians. Others, perhaps most, experienced a temporary desire to obey (Deut. 5:23-27) but had not been given a heart to carry through on their earnestness. But for at least Moses, Joshua, Caleb, Aaron, and Miriam, and probably a small percentage of the population at large, faith came by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

Page | 103

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 neck. Whoever resists the yoke is "hard-necked."70 The cattle certainly have the ability to follow the one whose hand is on the yoke, but they are inherently stubborn and unwilling. In the Moab covenant, as in the new covenant, the lack of obedience is a product of human unwillingness rather than inability.71 Conclusion In light of the previous discussion, there is still no doubt that Israel displayed rampant disobedience throughout its history. However, where Israel did obey, one must discover how it was enabled to do so. This paper has intended to show that Israel was able to obey in exactly the same manner that new covenant believers are able to obey. God's people obey by means of his presence near them. Under the Moab covenant, God's presence was in the narration of the torah, both history and law. Under the new covenant, God's presence indwells believers. Both covenants present obedience as sporadic and temporary, yet hopeful for the day that obedience will be perfected. This study has not shown conclusively that Israel's obedience was to the law. The examples used within this paper indicate that Israel obeyed in particular historical circumstances. Perhaps the examples of Israel's obedience in this paper could be connected to the law in some way, but it is my thought that the sporadic nature of Israel's obedience does not include obedience to the law. More work will have to be done in this area, particularly distinguishing Israel's obedience in general from Israel's obedience to the law. This distinction also helps to maintain the purpose of the law, namely to expose sin rather than to bring salvation through 70

A.S. van der Woude, Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament, vol. 3 eds. Ernst Jenni, Claus Westermann, Mark E. Biddle, trans. Mark E. Biddle (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997), s.v. "qesheh." 71

The thought that humans are able to obey but unwilling is found in Jonathan Edwards, "A Careful and Strict Inquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of that Freedom of the Will," in The Works of Jonathan Edwards vol. 1 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2003), 3-93.

Page | 104

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 perfect obedience. This paper has also intentionally omitted a discussion about the connection between the "word on the heart" in Deuteronomy 30:14 and the "law on the heart" in Jeremiah 31:33. Part of the reason for leaving out this connection is mentioned in the previous paragraph. There seems to be a distinction between obedience in general and obedience to the law. The fact that Jeremiah mentioned the ‫ תורה‬explicitly could indicate that Jeremiah is referring only to an obedience to the law. Even under the new covenant, believers do not obey the law. Law-righteousness under the new covenant comes through faith in Christ (Rom 10:5). This understanding of lawrighteousness is similar in the old covenant, but with its own nuances. However, the space is not available here to investigate this particular connection between the two covenants. Although Israel's obedience was not necessarily obedience to the law, it was still genuine. Therefore, one must not discount the fact that Israel did obey. God's presence enabled and motivated Israel's obedience. Likewise, God's presence enables and motivates new covenant believers to obey. Obedience cannot create purity, and therefore all of God's people look forward to the day that Yahweh will create new hearts in his children. Only then, after the initiative and work of God, will we be able to obey perfectly.

Page | 105

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

A Dichotomist View of Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Growth by Michael Parrott* In his landmark book The Shallows, Nicholas Carr notes the role of cartography, i.e., mapmaking, in the maturation process.


Simply put, the process of maturation moves

increasingly towards more detailed and complex mapmaking. In terms of the process of Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Growth there should be more advanced mapping of this process as it proceeds towards a mature, thorough, and detailed explanation. For years research has shown that our current culture is learning more through visual images than words alone.2 Therefore, by mapmaking, creating charts and visual depictions of the process, the current culture will more easily understand Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Growth. Additionally, the process of mapmaking will highlight transformational relationships within the dichotomist design, which, in turn, will help to clarify the biblical data while reducing or eliminating inaccurate connections. This article seeks to demonstrate that a dichotomist view of Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Growth based upon the biblical data can be visually mapped. Such a map will distinguish between the two substances of man’s design, integrate man’s functional characteristics, indicate the impact of sin nature and then new nature upon man, visualize the Spiritual Growth process, and show the impact of the glorified state upon man. The goal

* Assistant Professor of Bible, Cedarville University 1

Nicholas Carr, The Shallows (New York, NY: W. W. Norton and Company, 2011), 40.


Ibid., 144-148. By comparing SAT scores that were dropping in reading and math skills while IQ scores were increasing, it became clear that there is a “transformation in the way people think about intelligence” (147). Carr notes as evidence the research of Patricia Greenfield, a UCLA psychologist. As Carr summarizes Greenfield’s findings, “the rise in IQ scores ‘is concentrated in nonverbal IQ performance,’ which is ‘mainly tested through visual tests.’” (147)

Page | 106

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 motivating this effort is to advance and mature our knowledge, functional explanation, and practice of the spiritual transformational process. While there have been some attempts to chart the process of Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Growth, these attempts have been limited. Dallas Willard’s map of the spiritual formation process in his book, Renovation of the Heart, uses a series of concentric circles moving from the innermost to the outer most – spirit, mind, body, social and soul – to explain the human design. 3 While each area is explained within the following chapters, there are no additional visual images that further develop his basic chart beyond a single diagram on the following page that focuses on only one aspect: the impact of all the internal and external influences that act upon man’s will. 4 An earlier map of man’s design can be found in Ray Stedman’s book Authentic Christianity, in which he identifies the biblical use of “heart” as referring to the combination of the terms “soul” and “spirit”. In Stedman’s diagram the larger circle is called the “soul” while the inner circle is called the “spirit” of a believer. He identifies a control center in the center or “spirit” of a believer where Christ is Lord and from which He begins to establish His Lordship in every area of the believer’s life through conquering each of the multiple control centers in the outer circle called the soul. He identifies these other areas as money matters, devotional life, possessions, recreational life, business life, family life, church life, and sex life.5 One of the advantages of this diagram is seeing that spiritual growth is a process and that there is an overall control center in man. A difficulty here is how the overall control center affects the multiple control centers in the soul when the overall control center 3

Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002), 38. This description of human design is more closely related to a tri-chotomist position. 4

Ibid., 30, 40.


Ray C. Stedman, Authentic Christianity (Waco, Texas: Word Books, Publisher, 1975), 93.

Page | 107

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 (spirit) is under God’s rule. Another map of man’s design can be found in Earl D. Wilson’s book, The Undivided Self. 6 His mapping of man is a significant advance in understanding Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Growth and as a result I will have more to say about his mapping of the process as this article develops. The need to address this topic is urgent. As Robert E. Coleman notes, “far too little attention has been given to the nurture of believers in how to live their faith.”7 What is needed is a clear explanation and mapmaking of the functional ontological structure of man (the substances that man’s attributes adhere to) in the transformational process. Distinguishing between the Substances of Man’s Basic Ontological Structure The basic ontological structure – that to which

Physical Design

human attributes attach or adhere – of a human’s design is Spiritual Design

identified in Genesis 2:7, “Then the Lord God formed man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Moses records the basic makeup of each person (Figure 1): there is

Figure 1. Basic Human Design Genesis 2:7

a physical part (dust from the ground), a spiritual part (the breath of life), and the person as an integrated whole being (soul). 8 The use of a circle in the center is meant to focus upon the functional, controlling, and central role the immaterial part has


Earl D. Wilson, The Undivided Self, Bringing Your Whole Life In Line With God’s Will (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1983), 19. 7

Robert E. Coleman, “Foreward,” in Discipleshift (Zondervan, 2013), np.


This is known as a dichotomist view of man as compared to a trichotomist view. However my view is more precisely a modified dichotomist view as explained by John Feinberg, “Man is to be seen ontologically as a combination of two substances, a material substance and an immaterial substance. Words like spirit and soul are not the name of the immaterial substance any more than words like flesh, bones, heart are the name of the material part of man taken as a whole. Instead, words like soul, spirit, heart, mind, affections, will in their ontological sense

Page | 108

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 within man and is not to suggest that the immaterial part has a physically specific location within the physical body. This is a functional mapping of man’s ontological structure and the spiritual transformational process. Since the material and immaterial substances of man are most likely co-extensive -- that is, they occupy the same space together -- it is not possible to map the functional relationship of these substances without separating them visually, as in Figure 1. John Feinberg notes, “In terms of a phenomenological description of man (how he appears and operates in the world) Scripture indicates that the total person is always functioning as man acts in the world – in other words when Scripture pictures man relationally it does speak about him functioning as a whole person in regard to others and God.”9 Therefore, man is uniquely designed to interact with both the material world and the immaterial world.10 According to the Theological Wordbook, “Dust-man became living-man by God’s grace; therein lies his humility and his dignity.”11 To understand this design each part needs to be examined and explained. First, man is part of the physical world by being taken from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7).

designate various functional attributes (or simply functions) of the immaterial substance. Thus, just as the body has a reproductive, respiratory, digestive function, for example, so the immaterial part of man has a rational, volitional, emotional, spiritual (religious) function. Such a view avoids, on the one hand, postulating a new substance for every word referring to man’s immaterial part, and on the other hand, takes into account that these words can be used interchangeably on occasion, and yet that does not necessitate an impossibility of figuring out what the substance we are talking about is nor does it necessitate throwing up our hands on the ontological question and opting for a relational view of man as all that is taught by Scripture.” John S. Feinberg, Of Men and Angels, T 203 Workbook, Angelology/Anthropology (Portland, OR: Western Baptist Press, 1980), 101. 9

Ibid., 101-102.


Ronald Allen, The Majesty of Man, 83.


Allen, R. B. (1999). 1664 ‫ע ר‬. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (687). Chicago: Moody Press.

Page | 109

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Human Physical Design: The Material Substance What does it mean to be made of the dust of the ground? In the study of life, including human anatomy, all life is carbon based – this is the chemistry of life. The human body is 61% oxygen and 23% carbon. This means that 84% of the human body is made up of these two elements. Ginger Allen notes that, “The human body is made up almost entirely of 13 elements. Oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen make up 96% of our body’s mass. The other 4% of body weight is composed almost entirely of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, and iodine.” 12 These elements are naturally found in the earth’s crust along with a number of trace elements that are also found in man. In the very nature of man’s physical design we see man’s finiteness and the humility man should embrace.

Applicable Range of Meaning

Man’s Physical/Material Part or Body as a Whole Tissues that constitute the body Man’s origin or biological nature Ethical use – the physical part which is affected by the corruption passed down through Adam. Non-neutral use where some of the Ethical nuance is still in view13

Table 1 Basic Terms Relating to Man’s Material Part (Substance) Old Testament New Testament Terms Term Basar Soma Sarx Ezek. 10:12; Isa. Matt. 6:22; I Cor. Gal. 4:13; Eph. 2:15; 5:28-31; 10:18; Gen. 9:27; 15:44; Rom. Col. 2:5; 1 Cor. 6:16; 2 Cor. 2:21,23,24. 6:12; 8:10 4:10,11 1 Cor. 15:39; 2 Cor. 12:7; Col. 1:22 Rom. 1;3; 9:3; 1 Cor. 10:18 Rom. 7:18; 8:8,9; Gal. 5:17; 2 Cor. 1:12; Col. 2:18 Rom. 1:3; 4:1; 9:5; 9:8


Ginger Allen, From Dust to Dust, February 15, 2012,, accessed May 20, 2015. 13

Douglas Moo, “Flesh” in Romans: A Challenge for the Translator, 369-370. Moo evaluates this category suggested by James Dunn and agrees that many of the “neutral” uses of sarx still retain a negative or ethical nuance. Glen S. Scorgie, Mark L. Strauss, and Steven M. Voth, ed. The Challenge of Bible Translation: Communicating God’s Word to the World. Essays in Honor of Ronald F. Youngblood (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 365-379.

Page | 110

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 When Scripture refers to the material part of man it uses several different words – basar, soma, sarx – and phrases – body of sin, body of death, body of humiliation, earthen vessel, natural body, spiritual body – the glorified human body. Table 1 identifies the basic terms as they relate specifically to the physical body. Table 2 relates to the use of the different phrases as they are used that have a bearing on the physical nature of man. In listing these terms in the two tables it becomes apparent that sin has affected the physical part of man. After considering the spiritual part of man, the impact of sin upon man’s design will be addressed.

Phrases that relate to the physical part of man.

Body of Sin Rom. 6:6 Body of Death Rom. 7:24 Earthen Vessel 2 Cor. 4:7 Natural Body 1 Cor. 15:44, 52-54 Spiritual Body 1 Cor. 15:44, 52-54

Table 2 Basic Meaning The Physical Body with reference to the The Physical Body without reference to Ethical Influence – either positively or the Ethical Influence – more ontological negatively in focus. The physical body that is controlled and conditioned by sin14 Human mortality as a result of sin Man’s finite weakness as a physical being. Man’s unglorified earthly body Man’s glorified physical body15

It is important to note here that the physical substance of being human is never said to be evil itself. Greek dualism makes this mistake by treating what is physical as imperfect. What is important to our discussion here is that being a physical or material being is not by itself sinful.


Here one aspect of the sin nature continues to exist in a believer, namely the corruption passed down from Adam. The other aspect of the sin nature, namely mankind’s legal standing before God as condemned is not in view here as it has already been dealt with by our union with Christ (Romans 8:1) as believers (disciples of Jesus Christ) who now have His righteousness, are declared righteous, and are family members. 15

This phrase clearly has a positive ethical nuance to it as sin is no longer influencing the glorified human


Page | 111

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 The existence of sin in humans since Adam is an aberration of what it means to be human, not an essential characteristic of it. This is a critical distinction since Adam as well as Eve were fully human yet without sin before the Fall, and Christ was fully human but without sin. In Table 2 there are a number of phrases that address the physical nature of being human. All of them except one, “Spiritual Body,” applies to every human being since and including Adam, except Jesus Christ when the phrase has a negative ethical nuance. Human Spiritual Design: The Immaterial Substance When God breathed into man the breath of life (Genesis 2:7) He gave man an immaterial part, a spiritual part, an invisible substance as part of the human design. There are a number of biblical terms related to this part of human nature: soul (nephesh and psuche), spirit (ruach and pneuma), heart (lebh and kardia), mind (nous, phronema, phronesis), affections – emotions (rachamim and splangchna), will (ratson, boule, Thelma), and conscience (suneidesis) as identified in Table 3. There are also a number of phrases that are used to describe the operation of the immaterial substance in relationship with the material substance: natural man, spiritual man, carnal man, old man, and new man. A quick study of Table 3 shows the vital role of the “heart” in the immaterial part of man. The heart clearly embraces man’s ability to think, feel, choose, and make ethical decisions (conscience). Scripture has much to say about the heart: Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” Proverbs 4:23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Luke 6:45 says that it is the heart that is primary in determining what a person says: “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is Page | 112

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” James C. Wilhoit says, “At an individual level the battlefield is the human heart. …The heart/soul is the center of our being and where our growth is solidified.”16 Dallas Willard agrees, “The human heart, will, or spirit is the executive center of a human life. The heart is where decisions and choices are made for the whole person. That is its function.”17 Ezra actually “set” his heart to seek God.18 Renald Showers summarizes the central role of the “heart” noting that A study of the Scriptures indicates that the heart, when considered figuratively, is the inner control center of the human being. Out of it flow all the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). It is the location of human character (Luke 6:45); therefore, it is the aspect of man about which God is most concerned (I Samuel 16:7; I Thessalonians 2:4). The heart serves as the seat of all the spiritual (Proverbs 3:5), moral (Mark 7:20-23), intellectual (Hebrews 4:12), volitional (Daniel 1:8), and emotional (Proverbs 15:13) aspects of man’s life. Thus such things as the human will (2 Corinthians 9:7) and lust (Romans 1:24) function through the heart.19


James C. Wilhoit, Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic,

2008), 21. 17

Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002), 30.


A practice that Ezra demonstrates in Ezra 7:10.


Renald E. Showers, The New Nature (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1986), 36.

Page | 113

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Applicable Range of Meaning

Soul Nephesh, Psuche

Fundamental Concept of the term(s)

Focus is on man as an integrated whole, a living human being as in Gen. 2:7

Refers to the whole person: material and immaterial part.

Gen. 12:5; 49:6; Num. 30:3,5; Rom. 2:9; 13:1 As a reference to self – Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25 As a reference to “life” itself – Rom. 11:3; Phil. 2:30; Deut. 12:23; Psalm 6:4

Refers in general to only man’s immaterial part

Refers to man’s inner life in general

Page | 114

Table 3 Terms used to describe Man’s Immaterial Part (Substance) Spirit Heart Mind Affections Will Nesama Lebh, Nous, Rachamim, Ratson, Ruach, Kardia Phronema, Splangchna Boule, Pneuma Phronesis Thelema Focus is Focus is Focus is Focus is Focus is on the on the upon the upon man’s upon animating inner life basic emotional man’s power that of man – cognitive life – Gen. ability to gives life Rom. and 43:30; 2 make to the 2:29; 2 reflective Cor. 6:12; choices – whole of Thess. powers of 7:15; Col. Dan. 8:4; man and 2:17; 2 the mind: 3:12; Luke can relate Cor. 5:12 understandin Philemon 24:51; to God – g, reasoning, 7, 12, 20; Heb. 2:4 Gen. 2:7; judgment Phil. 1:8; Ps. 51:10; and deep 2:1 78:8; reflective Prov. and 20:27; meditative Rom. thinking – 8:16; I Luke 24:45; Cor. Rom. 12:2; 14:14; 2 2 Thess. 2:2; Cor. 4:16 Eph. 4:23

Prov. 20:27; Gen. 41:8; Dan. 2:1,3; Matt. 26:41 As opposed to one’s outer life

Conscience Suneidesis

Focus is upon man’s ability to make moral or ethical judgments – Rom. 9:1; 2:5; I Cor. 8:113; 10:2311:1; 2 Cor. 5:11; I Tim. 4:2

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

Refers to a specific aspect of man’s inner life not specifically categorized below

Refers to the seat of man’s appetites or desires – Deut. 12:15,20; 14:26; Psalm 107:9; Prov. 25:25

Refers to man’s intellect

Refers to man’s emotions

Refers to man’s will

Refers to ethics – distinguishing good from bad

The seat of emotions – Lev. 26:11; 2 Sam. 17:8

As the center of life and vitality – Luke 8:54-55; James 2:16 In reference to an attitude – Rom. 11:8; 2 Cor. 12:18; Phil. 1:17 Mark 2:8; I Cor. 2:11

– Rom. 2:29; 2 Thess. 2:17; 2 Cor. 5:12 As the seat of religious experienc e – 2 Cor. 1:22; 4:6; Rom. 5:5; Eph. 3:17; Col. 3:15

Intellectua l activities including one’s intentions and purposes – Prov. 16:9; Rom. 1:21; Eph. 1:18; Gen. 6:5; Matt. 15:19-20 The seat of emotions – Rom. 1:24; 10:1; 2 Cor. 2:4 Seat of the will – Rom. 2:5; 6:17 Rom. 1:21; Rom. 2:14

Luke 24:45; Rom. 12:2; 2 Thess. 2:2; Eph. 4:23

Gen. 43:30; 2 Cor. 6:12; 7:15; Col. 3:12; Philemon 7, 12, 20; Phil. 1:8; 2:1 Dan. 8:4; Luke 24:51; Heb. 2:4 Rom. 9:1; 2:5; I Cor. 8:1-13; 10:23-11:1; 2 Cor. 5:11; I Tim. 4:2

Page | 115

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Integrating Man’s Functional Characteristics into the Visual Map By including what has already been said about the “heart” (man’s ability to think, feel and choose), the diagram to the right (Figure 2) can be applied to show

Think Do


how a man functions as an integrated whole person or Feel 20

as a living soul in the real world. Each characteristic of man’s immaterial part relates to a corresponding part of man’s physical part. Therefore, the ability to think,

Figure 2. Man’s Pre-Fall Design Genesis 2:7

feel, and choose appear on the chart where these two substances meet – this would correspond to the human brain as it connects with the immaterial part. The lines between these characteristics suggest how they interact. For instance, the “do” characteristic of man shows man making choices based upon the interaction of one’s thinking and feeling from his or her immaterial part through one’s physical part into the world. This entire diagram actually sits in the context of the world where it is nurtured. While Adam lived in direct contact with God (walking in the garden) and with the serpent it is important to note as John Feinberg observes that Adam had “the power or ability to choose equally between good and evil. Prior to the fall it was just as easy for Adam to choose good as to choose evil, for not having sinned, he wasn’t weighed down by a sin nature that inclined him toward evil.”21 The ability to think, feel, and choose are also characteristics of what it means to be made in God’s image. Thinking addresses man’s ability to form thoughts, understand, and know what 20

I am indebted to Earl D. Wilson’s insight into the interrelationship between thinking, feeling, choosing, and doing which he defines as the four aspects of human personality. I have applied this relationship in my diagram. Earl D. Wilson, The Undivided Self, Bringing Your Whole Life In Line With God’s Will (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1983), 19. 21

John S. Feinberg, No One Like Him (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 639.

Page | 116

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 is real. Dallas Willard notes the critical nature of thinking saying, “Belief cannot reliably govern life and action except in its proper connection with knowledge and with the truth and evidence knowledge involves.” 22 It is important that this faculty of man’s being operate correctly. Similarly, the importance of healthy feelings is evident in the perfect man, Jesus Christ. John 11:35 notes that “Jesus wept.” Jonathan Edwards says, “True faith mostly depends on having the emotions of God, loving the things He loves.” “We must not only experience divine emotions, but we must open our hearts to them and to the Light from which they spring, until our hearts form habits that will express themselves in action.” “If we are going to be emotional about anything, shouldn’t it be our spiritual lives?” “Our emotions should be deeply moved. Christ should move us more deeply than any other thing, for He is the source of our heart’s life, and our heart’s feelings were designed to perceive Him.” 23 Likewise, man also has the ability to make choices. This raises the question as to just what kind of freedom man has to choose. David Ciocchi notes that, “Calvin believed that our acts are governed by God, but he called them free in that they stem from our nature and are not forced upon us against our will.”24 This ability to choose according to one’s nature is the basic idea of compatibilistic freedom. This relates directly to being made in God’s image in that God acts only according to His nature. Impact of Sin Upon Man’s Design Sin’s entrance to the world affected every part of man’s design (Figure 3). Paul notes the universal effect of sin in Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Sin has 22

Dallas Willard, Knowing Christ Today (New York, NY: Harper One, 2009), 3


Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections (Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing, 1959), 22, 34, 45.


David M. Ciocchi, Human Freedom, in Christian Perspectives On Being Human, ed. J.P. Moreland and David M. Ciocchi, 107.

Page | 117

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 occasioned not only man’s guilty standing before God, but also his inherited corruption. Man’s entire design was and is darkened by sin. Romans 8:10 says, “the body is dead

Think Do


because of sin.” And Paul explains in Ephesians 4:18-19


that all are “darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they,

Figure 3. Natural Man I Corinthians 2:14

having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” John Piper notes the extent of this condition: The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). David said in Psalm 19:12, “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.” In other words, we never get to the bottom of our sinfulness. … No one knows the extent of his sinfulness. It is deeper than anyone can fathom.25 All people are “dead in trespasses and sins.”26 Mark 7:21-23 notes how all this works through the heart to produce sinful acts: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Paul says in Romans 3:9b-12, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.” John Feinberg uses John Calvin’s view to describe man’s condition: Calvin says that our wills are bound as a slave to sin, and hence we cannot do anything in our natural state but sin. … we sin spontaneously and voluntarily in accord with our 25

Piper, Finally Alive , 46.


Ephesians 2:1.

Page | 118

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 desires. As unregenerate, we only desire what displeases God. …we have voluntary free will, i.e., we act spontaneously according to our nature, but since the spontaneous thing for us is to sin, our will is in bondage to sin.27 This is a desperate situation for man. His thinking, feeling, choosing, and acting are all against God and His ways. Paul describes this person in I Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” The condition of man apart from God is one of “lostness”. He is unwilling to come to God and unable to come. But yet man needs God as Augustine wrote, “Thou awakest us to delight in Thy praise; for Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee.”28 A natural man may seek to appear religious and righteous through outward actions, and may even attempt to use his actions as a way to God. However, man cannot change his or her darkened human heart by outward imitation, ritual, deeds, or any other means. There must be a change, a true transformation, one that is done to man, one from outside himself, and it must come at the level of the heart. Feinberg describes this change, “Only when someone turns to Christ is the will’s bondage broken. A new nature is implanted, even though the old sin nature also remains, and through God’s grace and enablement, the regenerate person can will the good.”29 Ezekiel 36:26-27 notes this change, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart


Feinberg, No One Like Him, 640. It is important to note here that I’m holding to a compatibilist specific sovereignty model of God’s providence rather than an indeterminist general sovereignty model. This means that those who hold to a libertarian free will may take issue here with me. Feinberg responds to this on page 641, “However, if humans have libertarian free will after Adam’s fall, then even a sin nature cannot causally determine them to sin. As to true freedom involving only choosing good, philosophical indeterminism would not count this as any freedom, especially if people cannot do evil because they are glorified. Divine enablement to do good and glorification which makes it impossible to do evil would both count as causal determinism, and hence there would be no freedom in the libertarian sense.” It is for these reasons that I hold to the compatibilistic free will view. 28

Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, trans. E. B. Pusey, The Confessions of St. Augustine (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996), Conf, Book 1 Chapter 1. 29

Feinberg, No One Like Him, 640.

Page | 119

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” Renald E. Showers says, “the new disposition is the new nature, the new spirit promised here is also the new nature. This means that the promise contained in this verse corresponds with the promise of the law of God in the heart found in Jeremiah 31:33. It also means that God is referring to what will come through regeneration.”30 Since “I am my main problem”31 and “you may be totally blind to the deceitfulness of your own heart” 32 and “our nature is so rebellious and so selfish and so callous toward the majesty of God that his holy anger is a natural and right response to us” 33 and “we so strongly prefer self-reliance that we cannot come,”34 there is an urgent need for “a new preference, a new ability,…”35 which is none other than a new birth, a new heart, a new spirit, a radical change of one’s disposition. Piper says, “God made us alive” is virtually the same as the new birth. …36 This is what we need – the miracle of spiritual life created in our hearts. And the reason we need it is that we are spiritually dead. We are unable to see or savor the beauty and worth of Christ for who he really is. Those who are not born again do not say with Paul, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).37


Showers, The New Nature, 43-44.


Piper, Finally Alive, 49.






Ibid., 53.




Ibid., 55.


Ibid., 55.

Page | 120

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Impact of the New Nature on Man’s Design What then changes in man when he or she


comes to faith in Christ? Paul says in Romans 8:10, Choose

“And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of



righteousness” (Figure 4). The inner man is now alive to God. This is the truth Paul addresses in Romans 6:11 Figure 4. Babe In Christ where he says, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead

I Corinthians 3:1,2a; I Peter 2:2

to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” There is now the new nature, God Himself, residing inside man. It should also be noted here that there is real evidence that this change has indeed taken place. Consider the experience of Saul coming to Christ and beginning a new life as the Apostle Paul. When he first came to faith we are told that others feared him not believing he was indeed a disciple of Jesus (Acts 9:26). However, Barnabas was so convinced that Saul was now a true disciple that he “took hold of him and brought him to the apostles” (Acts 9:27). This could have been an incredibly dangerous decision by Barnabas if Saul was not changed. How did Barnabas know Saul’s conversion was real? Luke records the answer in Acts 9:27: Barnabas had heard Saul’s testimony that “he had seen the Lord on the road, and He had talked to Him.” Moreover, Barnabas had heard Saul “in Damascus speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord.” John Piper notes, “I have a 100-year-old commentary on I John in my library called The Tests of Life by Robert Law. It’s a good title. What it means is that John wrote this letter to provide the church with tests or criteria for knowing if we have spiritual life, that is, if we have been born

Page | 121

C h o o s e

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 again.”38 There is evidence that can be seen or discovered through questioning a person who claims to be a new disciple of Jesus Christ that real transformation has begun. The interaction between man’s thinking, feeling, choosing, and doing is noted by the lines between them on the diagram. These relationships can be further explored by drawing an arrow at the end of a line either going one way or both ways. This will allow additional relationships to be identified and explored as the biblical text is consulted for each one. One of the fascinating relationships moves from thinking to choosing to feeling, and suggests as Earl Wilson has written that “you can choose your emotions.”39 This is consistent with commands like, “Consider it all joy” (James 1:2) where the emotion of joy can be experienced (chosen) by simply thinking the right thing. Without exploring this relationship more here it is worth mentioning that a number of interrelationships are suggested by this diagram. However, each possible relationship must be explored biblically first rather than imagining a relationship in light of the diagram. Visualizing the Spiritual Growth Process The believer who grows does so because he or she is rightly related to the work of the Holy Spirit in his or her life. Paul describes the spiritual man in I Corinthians 2:15-16: “But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” It is God who causes a believer to grow (I Corinthians 3:7). Paul describes this work of the Spirit within the believer in Philippians 2:13: “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” God produces both the desire and the ability to act – note that this is the


Piper, Finally Alive, 123.


Earl Wilson, 137.

Page | 122

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 opposite condition of the natural man who is unwilling and unable to change his condition even though he or she may attempt to fake or improve his or her true condition. In contrast to the natural man, the spiritual man bears fruit (Figure 5), which includes Christian character (John 15; Galatians 5:23-24) and conduct (John 15; I John). Note carefully that it is only the spiritual man or woman who grows. John notes four stages of growth







discipleship process: infant, child, youth, and Think

father (I John 2:12-14). The ability to move Choose


through these stages is dependent upon the Feel

believer being rightly related to God throughout the process. Since the “sword of the Spirit is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17) and “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-

Figure 5. Spiritual Man I Corinthians 2:15,16; Hebrews

edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, 5:14 of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12), it is critical to know God’s word (Ephesians 5:17) and depend upon the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) as one grows. Spiritual growth will result in specific evidence of the believer being under God’s control – he or she will do the will of God through God’s power – as well as general evidences of a life aligned with God as found in Ephesians 5:18-21. The Spiritual Man or Woman consistently chooses God’s will moment by moment and decision by decision. Each choice results in spiritual fruit: godly character and conduct as well as morally good and just deeds towards others. Note that in the diagram the triangles outside the circle are the fruit produced by God through the believer as he or she is rightly related to God’s

Page | 123

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 work through the Holy Spirit in his or her life. The inner triangle that includes the ability to think, feel, choose and do should be seen as a grouping that rotates together to produce the fruit identified by the outside triangles. Since outward evidence does exist to show inward reality, does the outward action always indicate an inward change? Obviously the heart can be deceived and fake an outward form of religious ritual without truly being changed – this is the case of the

Think Do


non-believer or natural man. However, a believer can actually act inconsistent with who they really are. This


type of a believer is called a carnal man – a person who has been changed internally at the heart level by the new

Figure 6. Carnal Man

birth but still lives in defeat outwardly, failing to

I Corinthians 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:12-13

demonstrate his true internal condition (Figure 6). Paul mentions this type of person in I Corinthians 3:1-3, “And I brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, are you not walking like mere men?” Notice several things about this believer: this believer has not grown since coming to Christ; this believer remains a “babe in Christ”; time has passed and he or she still hasn’t grown; this believer is acting inconsistently with who he or she is at the core of his or her being. Paul knew that these people were true believers because he was there when they came to Christ and saw evidence of spiritual life within them.

Page | 124

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 However, this is the reverse of the problem of the natural man. The natural man will try to be outwardly who he is not inwardly, while the carnal man will not try to be outwardly who he is inwardly. Both act contrary to their inward nature. The problem in evaluating these two “actors” is that the truly non-believing or natural man may be mistaken for a believer while the true believer who persists in sinful living may be mistaken as a non-believer. However, Paul did not seem to have this difficulty. He was able to identify the Corinthians as believers but carnal as opposed to natural men and women (I Corinthians 3:1-3). This means that getting to the real heart condition will take a deeper level of intentional effort to reveal what lies behind the visible practice. Impact of the Glorified State upon Man’s Design In the glorified state, believers are free from all the effects of sin within their being. The ability to think clearly, feel fully, choose only


what is right, and do only what glorifies God is an



eternal experience. Without the presence of sin’s corruption in the flesh, the Glorified Man can no


longer choose sin. Since a man can choose only what accords with his nature, man in the Glorified state will choose only what is righteous, or what

Figure 7. Glorified Man

I John 3:1-3 accords with the Glorified nature. In I Corinthians 15:42-44 Paul talks about this new glorified

body. He describes it as an “imperishable body,” a body “raised in glory” and “power”. It is a “spiritual body.”

Page | 125

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017 Conclusion Visualizing Spiritual Formation and Growth clarifies what takes place practically during the process of sanctification, and encourages further progress towards Christ-likeness. Likewise, a map of the process suggests a number of pathways in which man’s thinking, feeling, choosing, and doing interact. These pathways require further investigation from a biblical perspective. Earl Wilson has provided a good foundation for doing so in chapter four of his book, The Undivided Self, in which he investigates a number of interactions from a biblical and psychological perspective. Finally, visualizing man’s ultimate Spiritual Formation points to the future hope of the glorified body and spirit when sin no longer may be chosen. This hope should promote holy living in the present. As John says in I John 3:2-3, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know what when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

Page | 126

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

Book Reviews __________________________________________________________________ Joshua Stewart, Editor Welcome to the book review section of The Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies. I am pleased to be able to share four book reviews in this issue. In the future, the editorial board would love to see this section of the journal grow in its offerings. In order for this to come to fruition, I would like to invite readers to contact me about the possibility of reviewing books for the journal. At this point in time, I am working toward growing the list of publishers willing to provide review copies of new releases. I am also working toward building a database of prospective reviewers. If you see a recent release or upcoming release that you would like to review, please contact me. In either case, please include in your email a curriculum vitae and a list of your areas of interest. At this time, we are only considering potential reviewers in a graduate program or higher. Shalom lekha, Joshua E. Stewart, PhD Book Review Editor


Joshua Stewart, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Old Testament Hebrew & Greek at Luther Rice College & Seminary.

Page | 127

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

D. A. Carson, ed. The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2016. Pp. 1248. ISBN 978-0-8028-6576-2. $65.00 (hardback). Sometimes it is tempting to believe that the battle for the Bible is in the distance, or at least that the division between the good guys and the bad guys is clear and immutable. However, reality does not support that belief. Scholars who once affirmed the authority and truthfulness of Scripture in its totality begin to hedge, then question, and then deny the accuracy of the Bible. It starts with a nuanced definition, then moves to a “more honest reading,� and finally leads to a call for others to evolve for the sake of compassion. The pattern of wavering from Scripture is nothing new for scholars, though often new arguments or innovative variations of arguments need fresh rebuttals. In the past, Carl Henry brought together a collection of leading scholars to contribute to Revelation and the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958) and D. A. Carson and John Woodbridge mustered leading conservative scholars to publish Scripture and Truth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983) and Hermeneutics, Authority, and Canon (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986). These volumes were central in answering the attacks against Scripture of their day and demonstrating that it was rational and possible to hold to a faithful reading of Scripture in the face of critical scholarship. The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures is a volume that meets that need in the present. The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures is the product of an initiative born from the Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. This book is perhaps more complete than the others. It contains thirty-five chapters by scholars who value Scripture and recognize its place as the central authority in Christian life. The volume is divided into seven parts of varying length. The quality of the essays overall is high, which is

Page | 128

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

rare for a project of this size and scope. Unfortunately, due to the breadth of the volume and the constraints of the review format, the essays cannot be discussed in detail in this review. Part one consists of a single essay: an introduction by D.A. Carson. This chapter functions as a literary review, examining major works and themes in the study of the authority of Christian Scriptures. Part two picks up several historical topics, including essays on the use of Scripture by the Church Fathers, the relationship between natural philosophy and biblical authority in the Seventeenth Century, an examination of the Roman Catholic understanding of Biblical authority in the last two centuries, plus another seven essays. Each of the essays is a worthy contribution to the study of the history of Scripture in its own right. The third part contains fourteen essays on a variety of biblical and theological topics. Peter Williams addresses Bart Ehrman’s attacks on Scripture; Bruce Waltke examines the relationship between myth, history, and Scripture; Craig Blomberg writes about how Jesus saw the Old Testament; and Kevin Vanhoozer deals with moving beyond the text to apply Scripture to contemporary questions. The other ten essays deal with the nature of the canon, diverse historic interpretations of the Old Testament, dual authorship, and other questions central to a robust doctrine of Scripture. Part Four goes where many evangelicals fear to tread: into questions of philosophy and epistemology. These six essays touch on topics such as hermeneutics, the relationship between science and Scripture, non-foundationalism, and the nature of truth itself. Contributors like Michael Rae, Paul Helm, and Richard Lints bring their experience and expertise to bear on important questions that need to be addressed by evangelicals. Part five includes four essays relating Scripture to other religions. These chapters meet the challenges of pluralism, the Qur’an, Hindu Scriptures, and the Buddhist Sutras. They show that it is reasonable to believe in the authority, integrity, and inspiration of Scripture despite

Page | 129

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

competing claims from other religions. The Bible is necessary for Christianity and distinct from the ancient scriptures of other religions. In the sixth part of the book, Daniel Doriani wrestles with the big picture of Scripture. He argues that it is both necessary to take and read Scripture and difficult to do so. This penultimate essay addresses some practical questions about interpretation, while calling readers to be faithful in the task of interpreting. Part seven also contains a single chapter. This is another by Carson. It is a collection of short responses to common questions about the Christian Scriptures, including historical, theological, and canonical questions. This final essay is perhaps the best quick resource to answer today’s common questions about Scripture. The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures is a timely volume. It wrestles with ongoing arguments about the place of Scripture in the life of the Church. One criticism of this volume is that it does not break new ground, but focuses on tilling the fertile fields of conservative bibliology. However, if the essays repeat arguments penned in an earlier day, this is simply because new audiences need to be exposed to those ideas. At the same time, given new and innovative attempts to erode the authority of Scripture, the essays in this volume address those debates in gracious fashion, submitting the argument of innovators to trenchant analysis and careful critique. The greatest contribution of this volume is its engagement with current scholarship from outside of conservative Christendom. The volume is designed to buttress the defenses of scriptural authority against a never-ending barrage of skeptical criticism. This volume goes well beyond the simple, formal defense of the authority of the canon by demonstrating the limits of biblical authority and discussing the application of theological method, limits of interpretation, and usefulness of Scripture in the face of religious

Page | 130

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

pluralism. This is a volume that is comprehensive in scope, though many of the essays could have been expanded to fill volumes on their topics. This is the sort of volume that is an oasis for the conservative scholar studying theology in a world filled with caustic attacks on Scripture. It is a reference volume suitable for slow reading on Sunday afternoon and quick consultation for contemporary argumentation. The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures is likely to be a useful resource for years to come. Andrew J. Spencer Oklahoma Baptist University

Page | 131

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

Milton Eng and Lee M. Fields, eds. Devotions On the Hebrew Bible: 54 Reflections to Inspire and Instruct. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015. Pp. 186. ISBN 978-0-310-49453-9. $16.99 (paperback). For students of the Hebrew Bible, whether their skills are remarkable, raw, or rusty, editors Milton Eng and Lee M. Fields have produced Devotions On the Hebrew Bible. The editors’ primary objectives are to encourage the study of the Hebrew Bible and to demonstrate its spiritual importance (13). To this end, each of the 54 articles is meant to “bring out some grammatical or lexical insight which cannot be gained in English translation alone along with some point of spiritual application” (13). Among the contributors, well-known names include Bruce Waltke, Daniel Block, Mark Boda, Karen Jobes, Nancy Erickson, Miles Van Pelt, Robert Chisholm Jr., Bo H. Lim, Andrew Hill, and Tremper Longman III. These names along with less prolific authors, round out a linguistically skilled, theological eclectic, and gender-diverse ensemble of 38 contributors. Devotions is structured with an Introduction (13-14), 54 Devotions (15-171), List of Contributors (173-180), Grammatical Terms Index (181-183), and Hebrew Words Index (185186). The devotions cover all 39 Old Testament books and are arranged according to the Hebrew order. No author contributes more than two articles. No book has more than four articles associated with it. The structure of each devotion is made up of (1) the chapter title and Scripture reference; (2) the untransliterated Hebrew text, without cantillation marks, and a parallel English translation from a modern version of the author’s choosing; (3) the body of the article; and (4) any footnotes – intentionally kept at a minimum (14). Every article is less than 600 words. This means that readers who resist the urge of digging deeper can digest any given article in a matter of minutes. Taken once a day, these pill-

Page | 132

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

sized devotions will last for nearly three months. A devotion a day keeps the rust away! Swallowing one devotion per week will draw out the reading for a little over a year. The overall scope of these devotions is broad – both in themes discussed and insights gained. Contributors discuss dozens of literary devices like wordplay, intertextual parallels, recursion, hendiadys, and inclusio as well as grammatical, syntactical, and lexical issues. Moreover, all the contributors show why their insights matter with regard to interpretation and translation. After finishing this book, any distant memories of particles, jussives, and verbless clauses will come into focus again. Unfortunately, Devotions does not include a parsing guide for difficult forms or a glossary for rare words. This omission was probably the only way to keep the book slim and the articles under 600 words. The English translation to the right of the Hebrew text helps to fill this void, eliminating the absolute necessity for a lexicon. Authors freely and frequently point out weaknesses in the English translation, offering revised translations of their own. The quality of the devotions varies from author to author…but not wildly. Some authors focus so much on their Hebrew insight that they leave no room for a spiritual application e.g., Bryan Beyer (50-52) and Mark Mangano (97-99), while others like Hélène Dallaire (18-20), Robert Chisholm (53-55), Sarah Fudge (94-96), and Peter Vogt (142-144) do include an application but one consisting of only two or three sentences. At the same time, the opposite criticism could be said of a couple authors who tilt most of their content toward application but fail to point out why knowing Biblical Hebrew is necessary to glean their insights e.g., Daniel Block (91-93) and Karen Jobes (154-156). Nevertheless, the sweeping majority of the articles achieve the editors’ coveted blend of instruction and inspiration. Several devotions stand out among the crowd. Paul Wegner’s articles

Page | 133

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

on 1 Kgs. 3:25-26 (56-58) and Mal. 3:1 (117-118) are exemplary. Verlyn Verbrugge, to whom the book is dedicated (12) and whose article was published posthumously, draws out the full power of the wordplay in Isa. 5:7 and concludes with an apt application (62-64). Milton Eng deftly highlights the contrast between the “singular you” in the Ten Commandments and the “plural you” of the Law in Ex. 19 (24-26). Bo H. Lim’s article (82-84) on Hos. 1:9 is packed with insights. His other article on Lam. 3:22-24 is just as good (151-153). Nancy Erickson centers on one preposition in Job 42:7 and then drives the point home (128-130). Similar praises could be sung for the articles by Tremper Longman III (119-121), Beth Stovall (111-113), Bruce Waltke (125-127), Miles Van Pelt (145-147), and Frederic Clarke Putnum (134-136, 148-150). Though the quality of content is high in Devotions, several editorial criticisms should be noted. First, the Hebrew text size is conspicuously small throughout. Second, the Hebrew versification is not followed consistently: Ps. 42:11 (20) and Ps. 62:5 (43) follow the English versification; all other references follow the Hebrew versification and provide brackets when the English differs. Similarly, the heading in the Hebrew text of Ps. 128:1 is omitted (36), perhaps again due to versification confusion between the Hebrew and English. Third, transliteration practices are inconsistent. Hebrew words appear both transliterated (33) and untransliterated (36) in chapter titles. Transliterations are displayed in both italics (36) and in plain text (72, 98, 148, 155). Hebrew phrases are transliterated on one page (148) while untransliterated elsewhere. Additionally, the Hebrew term “hiphil” appears in both italics and plain text on the same page (106). Lastly, David Duel’s article (22, n. 1) includes a mistaken citation. Because the author provides this citation to substantiate his main argument, this unfortunate error undercuts the main thrust of his article. Overall, these errors are minimal but are substantial enough to be considered in any future revision.

Page | 134

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

In summary, Devotions acts as a lean exegetical toolbox. Each insight provides another exegetical tool to be used elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible. Those seeking to sharpen or revive their knowledge of Biblical Hebrew will, no doubt, receive this book with open arms. Jonathan Ray Napa, CA

Page | 135

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

J. Richard Middleton. A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014. Pp. 336. ISBN 978-08010-4868-5. $25.00 (paperback). The primary aim of this book is to defend the reality of an earthly eschatological hope. N. T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church has popularized this approach to the believer’s final destiny. J. Richard Middleton (Professor of Biblical Worldview and Exegesis at Northeastern Seminary) provides a more scholarly, yet still accessible, treatment of this issue. Middleton has had a long interest in holistic eschatology and this book, in many ways, represents the culmination of a great deal of research on this subject. Chapter one provides a historical survey of the problem’s origin and development. (Middleton similarly concludes this book with an appendix that helpfully charts the demise and return of holistic eschatology throughout church history.) According to Middleton, most Christians today tend to view the final state in an ethereal, non-earthly sense. This approach to the believer’s final destiny ultimately has its roots in Greek Platonism and leads Christians to ignore the cultural mandate. Within chapter two, Middleton addresses the Old Testament [OT] roots of holistic eschatology by discussing the meaning of the “image of God” and God’s original intent for creation. Here, Middleton builds upon his earlier work, The Liberating Image, and argues that the image of God primarily involves culture-making, which then represents the primary reason for humanity’s creation. Middleton primarily defends this reading by arguing that God’s vision for human beings is inherently earthly (cf. Gen. 1:26–28), and that the human calling involves developing and transforming God’s creation, and mediating the divine presence as his earthly

Page | 136

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

representatives (39–49). An important aspect of Middleton’s argument here is the manner in which culture-making is emphasized within the early chapters of Genesis, especially Gen. 4. Chapter three then discusses the plot of Scripture and attempts to describe God’s unfolding plan of redemption. Middleton’s main concern is to highlight the Bible’s plot from beginning to end in order to clarify “God’s unswerving purpose to redeem earthly creation (rather than take us out of earth to heaven)” (17). Here Middleton modifies the conventional scheme of creation-fall-redemption-consummation by representing the Bible’s plot as the following conceptual (not literary) chiasm: 1) Plot Level 1: Creation and the human calling; 2) Plot Level 2: Abraham/Israel; 3) Plot Level 3: Moses to Jesus; 4) Plot Level 2: The Gentile Mission; 5) Plot Level 1: The Human Calling Restored (59–71). Middleton then discusses the relevant OT material in chapters four through six. For Middleton, the OT serves as a fitting backdrop to the picture of redemption in the New Testament [NT] because of its “full-bodied, this worldly character” (78). Chapter four addresses the Exodus narrative as a paradigm for holistic salvation throughout Scripture. Chapter five then examines how the remainder of the OT presents a picture of holistic salvation that encompasses comprehensive human flourishing. Middleton particularly focuses on wisdom and prophetic literature within the OT. For Middleton, human flourishing results when humanity conforms to the divine intention (97). Additionally, Middleton argues the OT presents a picture of holistic salvation through the “critique of injustice that pervades the prophetic literature” and the “expectation of restoration found in many Old Testament prophetic oracles” (95–96). Finally, Middleton argues that there are seven components of restoration that highlight the holistic picture of salvation in the prophetic literature (105–106). Restoration in the Prophets, according

Page | 137

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

to Middleton, certainly involves inward transformation. Nonetheless, he rightly notes that restoration for the Prophets is undoubtedly earthly and concrete. Middleton’s discussion of OT theophanic texts (chapter six) is a particularly important piece within Middleton’s argument because of its impact on how he interprets texts like 2 Pet. 3:10–13. For Middleton, these texts depict YHWH bringing cataclysmic judgment upon the world as a means of bringing about earthly flourishing. In particular, Middleton concludes these OT theophanic texts depict YHWH bringing judgment upon “sin and evil” (109, 122–24). Additionally, Middleton argues OT texts that depict God’s judgment impacting celestial bodies should be understood as imagery that involves judgment of angelic beings (117). Ultimately, Middleton concludes the judgment portrayed in these texts is transformative and redemptive (125). With chapter seven, Middleton begins to address the relevant NT texts. He first explores the relationship between resurrection and the restoration of humanity’s earthly calling. Middleton first briefly addresses the hope of resurrection in the OT (137–39). Importantly, Middleton notes that Dan. 7 links the resurrection of the oppressed righteous with their restoration to earthy rule, a concept that is then picked up in Second Temple Judaism (139–40). Turning to the NT material, Middleton then emphasizes the link between the eschatological rule of God’s people and resurrection in texts like Rev. 5:10 (145–147, 152). Interestingly, Middleton correlates this theme with the cultural mandate (154). Chapter eight then addresses the NT expectation that the end will involve some form of cosmic, cataclysmic transformation. Middleton here explores five key texts (Acts 3:19–21; Eph. 1:9–10; Col. 1:19–20; Rom. 8:19–23; 2 Pet. 3:10–13) and considers how they depict salvation and the object of deliverance in each text. According to Middleton, these five texts exhibit the

Page | 138

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

following pattern: 1) salvation involves God “redoing something, fixing or repairing what went wrong” (i.e., restoration, renewal, redemption); and 2) this salvific work is applied holistically (163). Middleton also examines Rev. 21–22 and suggests this text depicts our final destiny as a cosmic temple that should be understood as a restored Eden-temple (163–68). Finally, Middleton stresses the reality that the “New Jerusalem” of Rev. 21–22 is a city, which then suggests the cultural mandate has been restored (172–73). Middleton then addresses the NT texts that depict cosmic destruction at the Parousia in chapter nine. Here Middleton examines the Olivet discourse, Rev. 6, 2 Pet. 3, Heb. 12, and Rev. 20–21. For Middleton, these texts must be understood within the background of OT theophany traditions (181–82). This is perhaps the most important chapter within the entire book. Middleton’s conclusions regarding Rev. 6, 2 Pet. 3, and Rev. 20–21 are particularly worth noting. According to Middleton, the “stars” who fell from heaven in Rev. 6:13 refer to divine judgment of corrupt heavenly powers, while the disappearance of the sky (v. 14) is symbolic of God coming in judgment (187, 189). Middleton concludes the earth is not destroyed in 2 Pet. 3 because Peter uses the verb euriskō in v. 10 to suggest it is actually “found” or “exposed” (190). Finally, Middleton argues the “passing away” of the cosmos in Rev. 21:1, 4 should be understood as transformation because of Paul’s use of the same verb (parerchomai) in 2 Cor. 5:17 (205–206). Middleton then addresses the biblical texts that suggest heaven is our final destiny in chapter ten. Here he organizes his discussion around three kinds of texts: 1) those texts that contrast earth with heaven and imply our ultimate hope is heavenly; 2) texts that depict a heavenward “rapture” of believers; and 3) texts that suggest heaven is an intermediate state between our physical death and the final state. A key cog in Middleton’s argument within this

Page | 139

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

discussion is what he terms the NT’s use of an “apocalyptic pattern” whereby our salvation is being prepared in heaven but later revealed on earth (212–21). Beginning at chapter eleven, Middleton then addresses the ethical implications of holistic eschatology. Middleton first explores the holistic nature of Jesus’ gospel and does so primarily by focusing on Luke 4:16–30. Middleton primarily interprets this text through the OT vision of the kingdom of God, which was earthly and related to God’s reign (243–45). Middleton also helpfully addresses misunderstandings about the kingdom, particularly in terms of the view that it is to be identified with the Church and is heavenly in nature (246–49). Chapter twelve continues to explore the ethical implications of holistic eschatology by expounding on Jesus’ comments in Luke 4:25–27. Here Middleton primarily considers the expansive scope of God’s kingdom that encompasses “outsiders.” From there, Middleton argues we today can appropriate Jesus’ message in two ways: 1) not limiting the impact of salvation to the “soul”; and 2) breaking down human boundaries that cause believers to erect “us” vs. “them” divisions. While Middleton’s central thesis is well-defended and convincing, this work is not without its fair share of problems. On a minor note, I do find the content of the book wanting at certain points. His discussion of the meaning of the imago dei is interesting and clearly builds on his earlier book, The Liberating Image. However, it would have been nice to see a lengthier treatment of this issue, especially with regard to the relevant NT material. Perhaps, the significance of “culture-making” for understanding the ethical outworking of holistic eschatology could also have been fleshed out a bit more in chapters eleven through twelve. Further space also seems needed in chapter nine, where Middleton addresses cosmic destruction in the NT. The five texts handled in that chapter are quite controversial and Middleton’s

Page | 140

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

treatment of them left me looking for more detailed exegesis. Admittedly, one of the greatest strengths of this book is its engagement with the historical, exegetical, and ethical issues related to holistic eschatology. While this bird’s eye view perspective is valuable, it is also the book’s “Achilles heel” and will leave some readers wanting more engagement with the biblical text. There is also just cause to wonder how Middleton would construe the mission of the church. Middleton’s understanding of the imago dei undoubtedly leads him to emphasize “culture-making” at various points within the book. So much so, that Middleton even works the concept into his understanding of the Bible’s plot. (Incidentally, one should question the appropriateness of using what he terms a “conceptual plot” to address an inherently literary matter (59, n. 7).) Middleton does state, “the Great Commission is best understood as a rearticulation of the Abrahamic calling, the vocation of the people of God to mediate blessing to all the nations of the world” (69). Middleton also seems to avoid correlating the Church’s mission with Wright’s notion of “building for the kingdom.” Nonetheless, it would have been helpful for him to articulate the relationship between the Great Commission and “culture-making” more precisely. Perhaps most problematic is Middleton’s discussion of biblical texts that depict heaven as the believer’s final destiny in chapter ten. Here Middleton creates an unnecessary disjunction between a heavenly hope and an earthly final destiny by defending “soul sleep.” His treatment of 2 Cor. 5:6–9 is particularly problematic. While he rightly stresses Paul’s comments regarding resurrection in 2 Cor. 4:14, he too quickly dismisses the possibility that believers can inhabit the intermediate state and the consummation within a resurrected body. Furthermore, Middleton’s appeal to an “apocalyptic pattern” within these texts may be viable at points, yet it does not seem appropriate for grappling with a text like Phil. 1:23. Additionally, while Middleton’s discussion

Page | 141

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

of Matt. 24:40–41 is careful and well-reasoned, his treatment of 1 Thess. 4:13–18 is also wanting. In particular, while Middleton seems aware of C. Blaising’s recent defense of the pretribulation view (see pg. 226, n. 26), his critique of this approach to the “rapture” seems exclusively aimed at classical dispensationalism. Ultimately, Middleton seems too quick to dismiss a heavenly intermediate state. Overall, the contribution of this book is noteworthy. Middleton defends his central thesis well and writes in an accessible way that would allow undergraduate Bible majors, graduate students, and pastors to grasp his argument. Technical discussions are limited to footnotes and helpfully allow the reader to pursue certain issues in greater depth. Having said that, like any exegete, Middleton does draw some questionable conclusions (e.g., his largely non-Messianic reading of Dan. 7) but these oversights do not detract from the legitimacy of his overall argument. I would warmly commend A New Heaven and a New Earth to most anyone with an interest in this subject. Mark Owens Cedarville University

Page | 142

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

Elisabeth A. Newbit Sbanotto, Heather Davediuk Gingrich, and Fred C. Gingrich. Skills for Effective Counseling: A Faith-Based Integration. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016. Pp. 486. ISBN 978-0-8308-2860-9. $40.00 (hardback). Sbanotto, Gingrich, and Gingrich have written an integrative handbook for helping skills that is filled with references to professional evidence-based clinical perspectives, but also contains extensive references to Scripture and makes ministerial applications. Dr. Sbanotto is an assistant professor of counseling at Denver Seminary, as well as a consultant, speaker, writer, and counselor. Her colleagues, also professors at Denver Seminary, bring a wealth of experience to the topic. Both have many years of experience as educators and counselors, having served overseas and in the United States. The text is designed with four target areas of helping skill development. These include establishing the helping relationship, deepening it, growing it, and lastly consolidating gains and terminating the helping relationship. The authors provided clear and detailed explanations of helping skills with exercises designed to challenge students. The authors made suggestions and guidelines for practicing these skills with friends and family, and for conducting formal videoand audio-taped training exercises. They also provided reflection questions for intrapersonal growth. In addition to the descriptions and use of each skill, there is a diagnostic implication section in each chapter, along with clinical tips and cautions for working with people who have specific mental health symptoms or diagnoses. Also included in each chapter is a section discussing “Biblical/Theological Connections" and multicultural applications. Chapter 2 addresses the person of the counselor, including desirable skills and personal qualities needed in counseling. Perception, attending, reflection, and clarifying skills each have their own chapter, devoted to explaining and engaging students not only in reading about them,

Page | 143

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

but applying them to the practice exercises within the chapter. Intuitive empathy, the use of metaphors, and confrontation are also explored in an easy to understand, but solidly rounded manner. The appendix contains expanded skill training options. Strategies for growth are outlined, and Prochaska's Stages of Change model is presented. Readers will find many tips and ministry applications to help clients reach the goals they are working toward in the counseling setting. Chapter 14 encourages the reader to think systemically, and to consider the context of the person seeking help. Readers were introduced to the family systems approach, Bronfenbrenner's framework for human development, the use of eco-maps. Moreover, readers are encouraged to engage the larger environment through advocacy. There is certainly a biblical mandate for one to address needs of hurting people. Our authors remind us that individuals exist within systems and that understanding context is as important factor in effective counseling. Chapter 15, entitled "Appreciating the Sacred" contains up to date information about empirically supported religious/spiritual interventions for Christian therapists who work in a setting requiring health care billing. Generic spiritual interventions are described, which might be fitting when working in a mental health or school setting, but explicitly Christian interventions are also provided. Some comparisons between spiritual direction and psychotherapy are also made, which beneficially reminds helpers that there is much similarity between these paths to healing. Some discussion about the different goals and/or work settings of the Christian therapist, spiritual director, chaplain, and biblical counselor might spring from this section when used in the classroom. A detailed chart of religious interventions is included in this chapter, which is a very helpful reminder of the multiple ways a counselor might expand his or her repertoire of

Page | 144

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

spiritual interventions. Ideas beyond encouraging Bible study, prayer, and church attendance are included, to remind counselors of other ways to help clients expand their spiritual lives. A final chapter is focused on ending well, which is a critical goal for counseling. Termination of counseling and referrals need to be well planned, and the authors provided guidance on these topics. They also explained the need for consolidating the gains made, and developing markers of such growth for clients as they exit the counseling process. According to the authors, this text meets the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) standards, and is helpful if one is working through a degree program leading to professional licensure, or working toward a degree with ministryfocused career goals. Communication skills for counseling and the helping professions are the same universally, but for those who desire a faith-based perspective that is also filled with relevant information from the research literature in the mental health field, this training manual will be extremely helpful.

Ann M. Kerlin Luther Rice College and Seminary

Page | 145

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

Information for Contributing Scholars Purpose: The purpose of The Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies is to provide academic and practical studies to support those in ministry and to edify the people of God. Submission Guidelines To submit an article for consideration, email the General Editor at Submission emails should include two attachments: 

An information page

The article itself Information page attachments should be single-spaced. Please offer a brief abstract of the article (250 words or less), a brief biography of your institutional affiliations and research interests, and a contact email. The biography should include your name. Article attachments should be double-spaced. Articles should be formatted according to the 16th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style or the 8th edition of the Turabian A Manual for Writers of Re- search Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Do not include your name within the article attachment. The Luther Rice Journal conducts blind peer reviews. General Guidelines for Articles

Follow the Turabian 8th/Chicago 16th manual of style.

Double space the entire text of the article, with the exceptions of footnotes, block quotations, and subheadings (see below). Do not add additional line spacing before or after paragraphs.

Cite using footnote/bibliography style (see chapters 16-17 of the Turabian manual or chapter 14 of the Chicago manual).

Use one-inch margins all around (top, bottom, left, right). Specific Guidelines

The title should appear in bold type at the beginning of the article. Begin the text of the article on the next line. Do not make an “Introduction” subheading.

Format subheadings according to page 393 of the Turabian manual, or section 1.91 of the Chicago manual. First level subheadings should be centered, capitalized, and bolded. Second level subheadings should be centered, capitalized, but italicized.

Make every effort to keep subheadings simple and straightforward. On average, articles should contain no more than one subheading for every four pages of text. Page | 146

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

Before a subheading, insert a triple space, or two blank single-spaced lines. After a subhead ing, double space as usual. Single space footnotes internally, but insert a blank single-spaced line between footnotes.

Single space block quotations internally, but insert a blank single-spaced line before and after the block quotation.

Abbreviate books of the Bible according to pages 339-343 of the 8th-edition Turabian manual.

Indent paragraphs by pressing the “Tab” key. Do not indent paragraphs with the “Space” bar.

Position page numbers at the bottom middle of the page.

For fuller details about submission requirements, please go to the journal website:

Page | 147

Luther Rice Journal of Christian Studies Vol. 2, Spring 2017

Book Review Submission Guidelines Book Review Editor: Joshua E. Stewart Thank you for submitting a book review for LRJCS. Please note the following matters. The book review editor reserves the right to return a review for rewriting, to shorten it, or even to reject it if it departs substantially from these guidelines. Format Please use the following format for the heading of the review: Author. Title. Place of publication: Publisher, date of publication. Number of pages. ISBN. Retail price (cloth/paper). Please type your name as you wish it to appear on the review, along with the name of your institution or place of ministry, followed by your city and state. For questions pertaining to formatting, please follow the latest edition of the Turabian Manual. Generally we ask our reviewers to stay within 800-1000 words per review. In rare cases, when reviewing key volumes or reference works, we may allow a higher word count. However, this should be discussed with the book review editor prior to final submission. If you must use Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek we ask that you use a Unicode font. Policies Our goal is to publish reviews that are critical, creative, and courteous. In general a review should include an exposition of the positions taken, the methodology employed, and a critical evaluation (positive or negative) of these. The work may be related to other literature in the field. Personal polemics should be avoided, and reviews should not be used to promote one’s favorite idea. Submission Please submit your document as a .doc or .docx file. Also submit a .pdf version of the file. These files should be submitted to the book review editor as an email attachment. Due Date The LRJCS is published yearly, in January. Accordingly, we ask that reviewers submit reviews by the first of December.

Page | 148

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.