Letters at the OK Corral

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Free Speechifying

Why should Christians take an alien formulation, such as free speech, and make it a given, an assumed goal for which we should strive? Shouldn’t we replace free speech with Biblical Speech, Yahweh Speech, or something of the sort? You are the one who taught me Scripture is the ultimate standard, no matter what; whether the issue is gender, slavery, predestination, or whatever. If the issue is speech, shouldn’t the Christian sanctify in their hearts “Word-Speech,” defined as speech which conforms to the Word of God, rather than Free Speech, which is a thing that permits both vulgarity and Islam? The Word of God is the enemy of both vulgarity and Islam. Why should I embrace a concept which acts as a defense for things which the Word of God is opposed to?

Dave

Dave, thanks. This is a really fascinating subject for me, and I am thinking about a book called something like The Theocratic Case for Free Speech. The short answer to your question has to do with the difference between what Scripture teaches about sins and crimes. When we are talking about sin, we are talking about the kind of speech that the Spirit establishes in the believer. When we are talking about crime, we are talking about whether or not a biblical republic should outlaw a risque joke. I don’t believe so, and it is there that the free speech issue arises. But I really do want to do more work on this topic.

What might be called a frank exchange of views . . .

Light Rule:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” God

Dark rule:

“Hooray for me and bleep you.” Man

Just to spell it out, God has the best rules.

Jason

Jason, thanks.

The Gift of Gab As I have read you repeatedly argue that free speech is a distinctly Christian idea and secularism cannot produce it, I have found myself in the position of the objector which you responded to in your most recent post. I do value free speech (for myself) and understand the golden rule. But, for whatever reason do not feel persuaded by the case that you are making, although I want to be.

The problem is that I also believe (as do you) that the Law is the standard of morality and the Law obviously says things like this, “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die (Due 18:22).” As a result, when I read passages like that, I find myself unable to offer a coherent rejection of some of the things that the Reformers did, like drowning the Anabaptists, even though I am baptistic. I obviously object to their understanding of baptism, but it is more difficult to forcefully object to the idea that a nation that has been largely Christianized should not put heretics to death with the stolid conviction that the Bible teaches free speech.

In responding to this sort of objection, you have repeatedly also stated the inescapable concept that it is not whether a society will punish blasphemy laws but which blasphemy laws should be punished. I understand this to be responding to the idea that a wholehearted commitment to free speech must involve an absolute commitment to free speech in all forms. I understand that there must be some sort of brakes on the concept, e.g. porn, vandalism, riots, etc.

However, I think what is problematic for me is that it seems like at the very point where we are wanting freedom of expression for ourselves, namely the freedom to express our sincerely held religious beliefs, we do believe in a book that seems to be instructing Christians (when they are in charge of the government) to deny that same freedom to others in some respect. As a result, the argument Christians should be allowed the freedom to express our sincerely held religious beliefs because the Bible teaches the importance of free speech, seems to fall flat . . . It feels like you are dodging the force of the “free speech for me but not for thee” argument because it is very unclear in your writing what we are supposed to do with Deut. 18 and you seem very open to applying the passage as the Reformers did one day, although you won’t come out and say so directly.

It seems more natural to just admit that the Bible does not absolutize free speech and argue that it is always wrong to persecute individuals who are speaking the truth. In doing so, you aren’t trying to build some concept for yourself that you might deny for others at the exact same point.

In summary, I find the tactic that you are taking confusing. You seem to be arguing for the freedom of Christians to speak the truth in the public square and largely wanting that to be reciprocal because the Bible teaches the importance of free speech. We believe in the golden rule. We don’t want to kill our mission field. At the same time, you acknowledge that free speech cannot be absolutized and all societies have blasphemy laws. Yet, you don’t really deal with the question (if you have I must have missed it) about what the reformers did and how we actually should interpret passages like Deut. 18.

In order to be persuaded fully as to the Bible’s teaching on the importance of freedom of speech for sincerely held religious beliefs, I think I need someone to come along and directly address the question of how Christians should interpret Deut. 18 and stare squarely at the actions of the Reformers and give a thumbs up or a thumbs down, directly. Should I be working towards building a society that looked like that? Why or why not? What did they get wrong about Deut. 18? How should we understand it today?

Tim

Tim, thanks, and cogently stated. First, see above on my desire to wrote more on this, and in a fashion that allows me to do a good bit of groundwork first (old v. new covenant, sins and crimes, historical development, etc.) That said, I don’t have any problem acknowledging that free speech is not the standard; Scripture is the standard. With Scripture as the standard, we see that free speech (not absolute free speech, which makes speech the standard) is something that flourishes best in a genuine way in places that have a robust Christian consensus. That said, in an ideal Christian republic, would Deut. 18 be a dead letter? No, it would not be. Would it be used to execute people who use the wrong kind of psalter? No, it would not be. For the rest, I will have to continue to be coy until I have laid down some more groundwork.

Regarding Biblical Law as foundation of free speech:

I grasp that in history the Christian worldview has led to things like free speech. And I like America, and I like the Constitution, and, whether I believe it is biblical or not, I grant that I like free speech. But, apart from some deductions which might be made from certain Christian doctrines, I cannot see the Word of God teaching me to uphold things like free speech and freedom of religion. I do see Moses teaching me that, while aliens in Israel are free not to worship Yahweh, they are not at all free to worship idols within the land. And acceptable speech, according to the Law, could not be simply termed Free Speech; acceptable speech must be speech which conforms to the glory of God, or at the very least, does nothing to detract from it. I believe the Law of Moses contains the best civil law ever seen on planet earth, as it comes from the hand of God, all other civil laws being the best that some man could devise. Please tell me: As a Christian (really, as a human) is it not the case I should reject freedom of religion based on the Word of God through Moses? Isn’t it the case that, should I ever find myself in a position of political power, I should do anything possible, within legal limits, to prevent the building of a mosque, a Hindu or Sikh temple, etc? If not, why not?

Dave

Dave, given our commitment to the Word as the absolute authority, these are all reasonable questions. And first, see above. Second, you say “within legal limits,” but this is precisely the question of what those legal limits should be, and why. I quite agree that church bells and a Muslim call to prayer should not be on the same footing, but in order to explain why it is becoming apparent to me that I will need a little room on the work bench to spread out.

Would you flesh out what you mean by “manipulative arbitrary absolute”? How does this differ on the ground from other forms of tyranny?

BL

BL, the two great dystopic novels are 1984 and Brave New World. For the most part, the former tyranny rests on force and the latter rests upon manipulation and deceit. We are more like the latter. We are more likely to be bribed than threatened—although at times it looks like they might come up with a combination.

For all your labour, a hearty thanks! For some time now I’ve been puzzled by a certain narrative that seems to be pushed by many conservative Evangelicals and wonder if you could comment. The message takes many forms but goes something like this.

The radical Trump supporters have a distinct Evangelical bent to them and are destroying the witness of the gospel for the rest of us and how will the rest of us ever reach a lost world, etc.

The most recent example cited was when Viking Man gave his prayer in the Capitol and the language of his prayer (not the f-bombs as he walked down the aisle) had all the hallmarks of a genuine Evangelical prayer.

Now, I don’t know Viking Man from Adam’s house cat and whether he is regenerate or has any meaningful association to anything Evangelical. Regardless, the actions of individuals in a mob don’t speak for everyone present or for those like me who were sitting on my couch thousands of miles away.

The root of my question is this. Could it be that many in the camp of, let’s call radical Trump supporters for discussion sake, be nothing more than individuals who have enough wisdom to discern the times and see that Western freedom is not only rapidly crumbling but that the only answer or source of any recovery of those said freedoms, has to be founded in the truth of Scripture and thus they “cry” out to Him claiming His authority? In other words some of these folks may have nothing to do with anything Evangelical, but God has provided them with enough revelation to see that He is the source of the freedoms they long for.

I say all this, partly in reference to something I read from Douglas Murray a few years back in his book, The Strange Death of Europe. In chapter 16, titled, The feeling that the story has run out, he makes several references that, “. . . Western liberal societies may in fact owe something to the religion from which they arose.” He goes on to say, ” . . . the culture of human rights, for instance, owes more to the Creed preached by Jesus of Nazareth . . .” and asks the question ” . . . how long can a society survive once it has unmoored itself from its founding source and drive?”

All this to say, if a journalist who confesses to be an atheist can recognize to some degree that a free society must anchor itself to the truth of God in order to maintain those freedoms, is it not fair to say that folks like Viking Man and company are simply recognizing that same truth and responding as they know how, all be it in the wrong way? Shouldn’t this be expected to a degree in a nation as large as the US and with a Christian heritage as such? That many who may not have much or anything to do with following Christ, also have enough discernment to at least know who to look to when trouble comes—God, when they find themselves oppressed?

Just a few thoughts rolling around in my head that I’m trying to rightly organize.

Jon

Jon, I think there is much in what you say. I see many of the populist crowds that Trump set in motion as sheep without a shepherd. And they know instinctively that they are supposed to have a shepherd. But a large portion of the evangelical leadership, in this moment of crisis, did their best imitation of B’rer Rabbit. “‘B’rer Rabbit, he lay low.”

Deliverance is a Major Scriptural Theme

My favorite, whether past or future, although I lean future, is “They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.”

Dianne

Dianne, and amen.

George Gilder

I know you are a Gilder fan, or at least have read some of his stuff. Have you read Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy? He makes the case for why and how blockchain will be the next movement of the internet, away from companies like Google and Amazon, and towards a system where security and privacy is foundational. The Cryptocosm, as Gilder names it, can be fairly confusing and I feel like I only have a fingernail’s grasp on it. Here is an interview with Gilder about his book. Of course, everyone knows about Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency, but the Cryptocosm is something much, much bigger. It is a new way of doing money, contracts and privacy. For Big Data, privacy is an annoying afterthought because their bottom line is based on us NOT having privacy, and gleaning and selling data to advertisers (maybe fixing and election or two on the side). Could something like this be a practical means to change the game?

Thanks,

Tim

Tim, yes, I have read Life After Google. It is a very encouraging book, and I recommend it to all. My optimism about the future shares a lot in common with his.

Concern in Costa Rica

I live in Costa Rica with my wife and baby daughter. Three years ago we left the home church we were a part of due to severe theological issues (there was a change in leadership and the new pastor started teaching Marxist ideas in the sermons. The church fell apart shortly after we left.). Since then we have visited many churches near us and are not happy with any of them. Most don’t have great theology, allow female pastors, and are quite lukewarm.

Since COVID, we have been so disappointed, as every church we know of is complying completely with the government regulations – contact tracing, only 50 congregants being able to meet in the building, full masking mandates, social distancing, etc. This really bothers our consciences as we want to be in fellowship with people with “unveiled faces,” and it seems like most pastors here are very naive as to what is actually going on politically and spiritually in this moment – it’s hard to respect and follow a pastor if he’s heartily complying with all this and sees no problem with it. We’ve tried to contact churches to see if there are small groups meeting in homes, but they are all only meeting over Zoom.

It’s been three years since we’ve been part of a fellowship. We have solid Christian friends here and most are in the same boat and having difficulty finding a church.

My question is, what advice would you give our family? The options I see are to join a church that is not great and possibly try to influence it (and put up with the COVID mandates for now), or start a church in our home with our Christian friends that are willing to meet in person (which I don’t feel completely prepared to lead, but it might be better than nothing).

We have been doing the BRC and following Christ Church’s teachings and sermons for about two years now and are so thankful you share your content online. It has been a huge blessing to our family during this time.

Mario

Mario, very sorry for your plight. From what you are describing, it seems to me that you need to start a church in your home.

Modernized Geneva Bible

Doug, I just placed an order of the NT set of the Modernized Geneva Bible. Once the OT is completed will you still use the KJV or switch to the MGB?

Ryan

Ryan, I probably won’t switch over entirely, but I will certainly be using the MGB.

Adoption Question

I’ve been blessed by your blog and just started following it six months ago.

My question is on adoption. I don’t see much in your archives about it, though I did enjoy the father-driven adoption blog. My wife and I wanted kids of our own but medically cannot have kids, and feel no desire for adoption or pursuing in vitro.

We feel aimless, purposeless. We are 33 and have zero desire to pursue adoption. We are blessed financially and are trying to use that as a ministry and being hospitable. But otherwise are uncertain if we should just force ourselves to pursue some route for children, even if it appears clear the Lord has at least partially closed this door and not moved our hearts that way.

Thoughts?

JP

JP, I would encourage you to stay as you are, but to include something like this in your daily prayers. “Lord, if you want us to have children, we want to have them too.” And because interaction with kids is good for us all, I would encourage you to settle on some children to invest in—nieces, nephews, etc.

Collective Conscience

Thanks for the reply about collective conscience. To go one step further, what will be your response to the elders of the local church if they forbid you to come to Sunday worship in person (but you’re left with the online option) because you don’t wear a mask? Reason for not wearing a mask is because it’s against your conscience. And the reason for forbidding you to come is because it’s against local church community conscience.

Thanks!

Aleksandar

Aleksandar, if you are banned from worship, then I wouldn’t go. But even if there were such a thing as community conscience, it would not be the kind of thing that could develop in such a short period of time. Societal taboos develop over years, or centuries, and not in response to an arbitrary government mandate.

Systemic Racism

Can you write a blog on what this term means as I am hearing it being used a lot these days . . .”Systemic Racism”. . . I think people are using it without knowing it’s true meaning. Thank you . . .

Joe

Joe, good idea.

Family Worship

Do you have any suggestions for what family worship might look like when a family is at different stages of development and comprehensive abilities (2-10yo). Straight Bible reading is fine for the older two and yet too much for the younger two, yet a story book Bible is not helping the older kids as much anymore. I could jump back and forth to try to strike a balance or I could just plow ahead at the highest comprehension level, but wondered if you had some practical suggestions that I may not have thought of. Appreciate you and your family. Keep up the great work!

John

John, I am obviously at a distance, so I don’t know. But I would shorten family worship somewhat, and include a shortened portion for everybody. Perhaps you could have the older kids come prepared to answer questions from a larger assigned reading, where you read a selection from it at the table.

A Textual Question

Several months ago, I asked you a question about the Septuagint vs the Masoretic Text, and Jesus’ usage of them. This was your response: “Emeth, I hope my answer doesn’t confuse things for you further, but here it is in a nutshell. The Jews of the Dispersion used the Septuagint, and the Jews used the Hebraic OT. We can tell this from the fact that Jesus referred to the “blood of Abel” to the “blood of Zechariah,” which was basically giving us the A to Z, the table of contents — Genesis to 2 Chronicles. Chronicles was the last book in their arrangement. The OT of Jesus and the apostles was identical to the Protestant OT, which gives me my baseline.

The Septuagint, however, was undoubtedly used by the apostles, and the Septuagint did contain additional books, along with the variant readings that are creating the question you ask. Remember that Jesus taught in Aramaic, and so the gospel accounts we have are not original, but are rather translations into Greek. And in many cases, in that rendering the Septuagint was used.

Here is the nub. I reject the idea of a sole autograph having sole authority, which I regard as an Enlightenment shift. That would create the problem you are dealing with. Is it “my ear you have pierced” or a “body you have prepared”? My answer is that both are canonical, and both are the Word of God.

Your answer helped me, and I appreciate it. As time progressed, and I’ve done more research, there is something I’d like clarification on if you’re willing.

You said:

“The OT of Jesus and the apostles was identical to the Protestant OT, which gives me my baseline.

With the reason for using this as a baseline:

We can tell this from the fact that Jesus referred to the “blood of Abel” to the “blood of Zechariah,” which was basically giving us the A to Z, the table of contents — Genesis to 2 Chronicles. Chronicles was the last book in their arrangement.”

When I initially dug into that above, I stumbled upon the obvious issue—who the father of this Zechariah was. Matthew 23:35 identifies him as “Zechariah the son of Barachiah”, but in 2 Chronicles 24:20 he is called “Zechariah the son of Jehoiada”.

While digging into that, I came across this scholarly article:

“The Blood from Abel to Zechariah in the History of Interpretation,” New Testament Studies 60 (2014)

Partially this article comforted me, in that it proved there was an ancient tradition among the Latin church fathers (and especially Jerome) on interpreting “Zechariah the son of Barachiah” and “Zechariah the son of Jehoiada” as the same person—I would have had a hard time swallowing it if that was something we JUST discovered in the modern age. I’m always leary of pulling a Joseph Smith.

But the article also bothered me, for similar reasons. It indicated that the ‘canonical’ interpretation of “Abel to Zechariah” was not how any father of the church interpreted this passage for the first 1500 years.

I’d appreciate reading your take on this. Church Fathers aren’t authoritative, I know—but we also don’t want to be pulling Joseph Smiths, here. I’m struggling with understanding the balance.

And here is its conclusion:

“To which Zechariah did Jesus refer in his remarks about the righteous blood ‘from Abel to Zechariah’? Why did he single out these particular individuals, Abel and Zechariah? Exegetes through the centuries have struggled with these two questions as they encountered Matt 23:35. The Greek Fathers often identified Zechariah with the father of John the Baptist and apparently understood the reference chronologically—all the righteous blood from the beginning of the world up to Jesus’ own time.

The Latin Fathers, on the other hand, often identified Zechariah with the murdered prophet of 2 Chron 24:20-2 and seem to have thought that the heinous nature of the deaths of both Abel and Zechariah prompted Jesus to mention them. The most popular interpretation today, relating Zechariah to the story in 2 Chron 24 as the final murder mentioned in the Bible viewed canonically, arose in a situation when the printed Hebrew Bible had firmly established Chronicles as the final book of the Bible. We have seen that exegetes throughout the centuries have usually not even considered such an explanation as they were completely unfamiliar with an order of books for the Old Testament concluding with Chronicles. The ‘canonical’ interpretation of Matt 23:35 proves convincing only in an era which allows little deviation in the sequence of scriptural books. Though we have lived in such an era for a number of centuries now, neither Jesus nor anyone else could assert the same until the late fifteenth century. It is doubtful whether the ‘canonical’ interpretation can do justice to the blood of Zechariah.”

Emeth

Emeth, thanks. Here are a couple of additional factors, with no definitive solution from me. Gleason Archer has a reasonable treatment of it in his Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. He takes the Lord’s statement straight up, and argues that the son of Barachiah was martyred in much the same way as the son of Jehoida was. Now this would mess with my chronological canonical argument, but it avoids having to assume a scribal error in Matthew. The problem with the Latin fathers’ approach is that Jesus really does seem to arguing in an A to Z fashion, and the son of Jehoida was not a Z.

Paedobaptism

I did as you suggested and acquired the infant baptism book edited by Dr. Strawbridge. I read Jeffrey Niell’s chapter on the newness of the New Covenant. I’m no longer in the position of “affirming paedobaptism but possibly persuaded to the other side.” I’m just a paedobaptist. He’s right. The Reformed Baptists are wrong about what is new in the New. Thanks for the recommendation.

Andrew

Andrew, you are most welcome.

The Next Stage . . .?

Would evangelicals who are currently masking go along with to stay consistent or change their mind and resist if some sort of carbon capture mask is invented and the government requires them for the sake of climate control?

Paul

Paul, what a delightful suggestion. Why are you giving them ideas?

An Exegetical Slavery Question

Exodus 21:1-6 ESV says: “Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.”

The bit about needing to leave his wife and kids if he goes free is so strange to me. Now, it would seem that he could buy, or beg, them from his master, but this passage rubs me the wrong way.

Do you have any commentary on this particular passage you could direct me to?

Nathan

Nathan, sorry, I don’t. And generally speaking, believing commentaries often glide over such angular passages. My take is this. The slave knew what the rules were when he was offered a wife while in his servitude, and so he knew that this hard decision would be in front of him very shortly. Either he would make arrangements with his master beforehand, such that they could all go free, or he was in effect agreeing to stay when he agreed to get married. I don’t think this law was a device for separating families, but rather a device to prevent a master from insisting on keeping a slave when his indentures were up—simply because he was married. The master could not own him permanently without his consent.

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jsm
jsm
1 year ago

I have been as unconvinced as many have been of Doug’s position on free speech. I think Pastor Wilson and many others assume that since our republic and much of western civilization was built by christian men they must have had biblical reasons for codifying free speech and freedom of religion. Christians may have done their best to create societies based on biblical law. However, in their application, they were not infallible. There are many cases were their application of biblical law was inconsistent or just wrong. The christian men who wrote the constitution were also products of their time,… Read more »

J.F. Martin
J.F. Martin
1 year ago
Reply to  jsm

I’m looking forward to how Pastor Wilson parses out this idea. I’m guessing this is not helpful…but I’m free to say whatever I want, just as I am free to eat wild mushrooms…at least once. The philosopher Steve Martin asked; “Is it ok to yell ‘MOVIE’ in a crowded firehouse?” All words have consequences. If liberty is an inalienable right from our creator…at least as a tenet of our government, then freedom of thoughts and the freedom to express those thoughts in spoken and written word should follow. I don’t know what the founders thought about slander and libel, but… Read more »

Kathleen Zielinski
Kathleen Zielinski
1 year ago
Reply to  jsm

I too am looking forward to Doug’s thoughts on free speech. That said, I don’t see a biblical basis for a significant chunk of the US Constitution. Where in the Bible do we find free elections? Or an independent judiciary? Or for that matter a legislature elected by the people? I think there are only two consistent positions. If you want Western democracy, with its emphasis on individual rights, then we’re basically a secular country in which Christianity is just another belief system. If you want a Christian government, then much of Western democracy flies out the window. Pick. You… Read more »

Malachi Tarchannen
Malachi Tarchannen
1 year ago

Kathleen, There is a third option–neither. And not incidentally, this is the option that our Founding Fathers chose. We are neither a democracy nor a theocracy. Our nation was founded by people who understood that when God set up a government in Israel, it was to the core *representative*. America was founded as a representative government, patterned after both the Biblical system and the Roman system, which is where we get our dual chambers. It was also founded to be separate from the Church, which is why we don’t have a “national religion” but not divorced from the Church, which… Read more »

Kathleen Zielinski
Kathleen Zielinski
1 year ago

drewnchick, when I said democracy, I actually meant democratic values, like free speech, free elections, pluralism and individualism. Not that we are a true democracy, which I agree we are not. That said, my point still stands that hardly any of those democratic values are actually found in Scripture, and most of them are flat out in conflict with Scripture. Israel didn’t have free elections; it went from judges to kings. Korah, Dathan and Abiram found out that it didn’t have free speech either. Biblical governance may not be theocratic in name, but there’s a definite family resemblance. And I… Read more »

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago

“free speech, free elections, pluralism and individualism”

Three of those four have been eroded drastically in recent years. Even pluralism is questionable when half the republic are considered potential domestic terrorists based on their beliefs (not actions). Still, it’s the best form of government to date, as no other nation has similar levels of innovation, prosperity and religious freedom–especially a multicultural one. But the ideas that led to these things are certainly under attack–especially since the inauguration.

As for our system vs. theocracy, it never took Israel very long to fall into idol worship, prostitution, etc. either.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago

“And I would go a step further and argue that democratic values made Roe v. Wade and Obergefell inevitable.”

I’m not sure about “democratic values” but the Constitution certainly didn’t make such decisions inevitable. For one thing, the 10th Amendment has been all but ignored and the Supreme Court was never supposed to have the power it now does–much less Chairman Xiden and his executive orders. The problem is we haven’t enforced the Constitution like we should have, and now it will be a much bigger challenge to do so.

James
James
1 year ago

I do not know of any Bible passages that endorse a representative republic. While I would not support making America a monarchy (there be great disagreement over who should be king!), it seems monarchy may be the most biblical, and perhaps the most stable form of government, though a limited one would probably be preferable to an absolute one, because of man’s sinfulness. The most common argument Christians use against monarchy is that the people asked for a king when they rejected the Lord, but it is hard to use that against monarchy, when one sees that Saul, even when… Read more »

Henry
Henry
1 year ago
Reply to  James

There are 2 examples that I can think of that hint at some principle of democracy or representative government. The first being in Deuteronomy 1 when Moses tells the people to choose wise and respected men from their own tribes to be set over them. How exactly they were chosen isn’t said but the people are the ones who chose them. The second is the fact that in some sense the king needed the consent of the tribes. It was the people who demanded a king and so they got Saul. When he was shown and proclaimed king, the people… Read more »

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  James

“The title “King of kings” suggests an endorsement of monarchy”

Nope. There’s nothing prescriptive about that. It simply described what was common and understandable at the time. I Samuel 8 gives a very detailed warning against earthly kings, and we saw it play out.

James
James
1 year ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

The title “king of kings” does not prove that monarchy is mandatory, and I don’t believe it is. I do not know why God did not want the Hebrews to have a king at the time of Saul, but I think there is enough about kings in the Old and New Testament to prove that God is not opposed to monarchy. If God opposed monarchy, he would not have ended the book of Judges with the words “There was no king in Israel, everyone did as he saw fit.” About the title King of Kings, it must be said it… Read more »

ashv
ashv
1 year ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

Everybody remembers 1 Samuel 8 but doesn’t remember Deuteronomy 17:15. God told Samuel that the Israelites were rejecting Him because they were not patient enough to wait for a king from the tribe of Judah, as they should have known to do from Jacob’s blessing of Judah as the royal tribe.

As we are called to be imitators of Christ, faithful civil rulers of God’s people should be kingly.

Malachi Tarchannen
Malachi Tarchannen
1 year ago
Reply to  ashv

Just food for thought: It is perhaps a point of agreement among us that God has ordained earthly government as one of the three principal spheres of authority He has given us. On the basis of that agreement, I propose that the form in which the civil government takes is less important…PROVIDED that the magistrates acknowledge God’s Law and ultimate rule over them. Unlike the other two spheres of authority ordained by God–Church and family–in which God has proscribed both the structure and inter-relationships, I am less certain that God has proscribed or defined the civil government for us. That… Read more »

Anne
Anne
1 year ago

Nathan, re that passage in Exodus, I recommend Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus by Gary North (available on his free books page as an ebook), chapter 5. His understanding of it relates to the bride price that would have been paid to the wife’s father by the master (the master gave him a wife in Ex 21:4). On p 213: “the master would have had to pay a bride price to her father. This assured the father that the man who was taking legal authority over his daughter was competent financially… as a weaker vessel, she was… Read more »

Peter Leach
Peter Leach
1 year ago
Reply to  Anne

My experience is that the reconstructionists are the most helpful guys for tricky ot laws, because they really have to take them seriously! Good recommendation.

On this particular one, I think I found Jordan more persuasive than North. IIRC he doesn’t make the dowry as significant (it isn’t in the text, after all). He’s also briefer, and his book Law of the Covenant is also available free on Gary North’s website.

Anne
Anne
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Leach

Appreciate the recommendation. I added it to my kindle. Thanks!

ron
ron
1 year ago

JP,
FWIW, my wife and I found the Creighton Model (https://www.fertilitycare.org/) helpful when struggling with fertility issues. These matters can weigh heavily on the heart and spirit. God Bless you and happy hunting.

James Claypool
James Claypool
1 year ago

I would point out that in Exodus and Deuteronomy it is reported that Moses chose wise men, who hated bribes, to be rulers over tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands. While Moses chose them, he would have had input from the people. Moreover, once they entered the land it would be up to the people to choose men for this purpose. The system was to be a bottom up appeals court, with supreme appeals going either to the king or the Sanhedrin depending on the nature of the question. Also in the mix were Levites who were to give advice on… Read more »

jsm
jsm
1 year ago
Reply to  James Claypool

I would grant you have a potentially valid argument for free elections. However, you conflate offensive speech and blasphemy. There is a huge difference between calling someone a viper and claiming Jesus isn’t the son of God. Both idolatry and blasphemy were crimes in the old testament. The context of the new testament, which is the church infiltrating a pagan society, does not undue the standard of justice laid out in God’s law. In a society comprised overwhelmingly of Christians, the desire would be for our laws to be as close to God’s standard of justice as possible. You assert… Read more »

Ken B
Ken B
1 year ago

Talking of the Geneva Bible, I have an original, not quite complete and somewhat water damaged edition published in 1597. It was rescued from being burnt during demolition of an old house. It was before the letter J had entered the language. It has belonged to several families, the earliest entry is 1637. Whilst we have to serve God in our generation it brings it home to you that we believe because of earlier generations. We are not the crowning pinnacle, but just part of a continuation from the beginning. I often wonder what these families were like back then… Read more »

ashv
ashv
1 year ago

I’m going to take up the extreme anti-free-speech position at least for argument’s sake. “Freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press” are tactics, not principles, and they benefit people who want to subvert authority. It was a popular issue in the Revolutionary period due to the influence of pamphleteers on the Patriot side and it was put into the Bill of Rights to keep the anti-Federalists (who, naturally, wanted to retain the ability to subvert the central government) onboard with ratifying the Constitution. In more recent history the exponents of “free speech” have been communists: the ACLU and other… Read more »

Farinata
Farinata
1 year ago
Reply to  ashv

Free speech is very often a canard. But isn’t it also something like an application of the golden rule? After all, given the distinction between sins and crimes, I do not want to be punished for disagreeing with someone over matters that are not of the first importance. Does not the law of charity command me to give equal deference to my brother?

J.F. Martin
J.F. Martin
1 year ago
Reply to  Farinata

I know it’s not a storehouse of truth, but the Wikipedia “Freedom of Speech” page is quite interesting. Definitely a slant that free speech was often resistance to the Catholic Church. Also interesting is how young the Chicago Principles are…and apparently not taught to media/communications students.

ashv
ashv
1 year ago
Reply to  Farinata

The golden rule doesn’t let us equivocate between good and evil. Adam should have killed the serpent in the Garden, not argued with it or listened to it.

We should give deference to our brothers, and we should obey the golden rule. It’s very rare for this to be the meaning intended by the term, and if that’s what we mean we should just say it instead of trying to repurpose terminology whose history is entirely anti-Christian.

Kathleen Zielinski
Kathleen Zielinski
1 year ago
Reply to  ashv

OK, but here’s the problem. I read a wide variety of opinion — left, right and center — just to find out what arguments are being made and by whom. And there are an awful lot of leftists who aren’t that sold on free speech either, because they see it as primarily empowering Trump supporters. So they want to dump it too. Everybody — left, right and center — assumes that their viewpoint is the one that will be in power once the smoke clears, and in fact, we don’t know who will be in power tomorrow, never mind once… Read more »

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago

The leftists are the ONLY ones calling for an end to free speech. In case you missed it, Big Tech has “cancelled” tens of thousands of accounts/videos and gives dubious/Orwellian “fact checks” on some of the few things they allow. I have friends who are victims, including one who lost his Facebook account along with a group of several thousand people. It’s not just social media, either. It’s banks, payment processers, email software and many other things businesses and non-profits need. Almost all of them were “cancelled” for political views–not inciting violence. On the flip side, dozens of politicians and… Read more »

Allen Wilkins
Allen Wilkins
1 year ago

My circumstances are almost identical to those of Mario from Costa Rica though I am in Tennessee. Church has become a social club with a twist of Jesus. I’m not immune to this syndrome. I want to be surrounded by friends who are Christians. I want that to be my social club. But it has to be something more as well. I know I can’t go back to a place where the leadership has revealed themselves to be fools. I’m far too foolish on my own. Seems Rev Rabbit-heart and his warren are everywhere. I’m guessing there are more like… Read more »

Kristina Zubic
Kristina Zubic
1 year ago

I thought it was Br’er Fox who lay low?