Saturday, May 1, 2021

Second Temple Jewish Understanding of the "Stranger"

 

The LXX Pentateuch translates גֵּ֖ר as προσήλυτος sixty-three times out of the seventy occurrences of the word in the Pentateuch. The word "proselyte" should be familiar to most students of the New Testament since it refers to a Gentile convert to Judaism. 

"The first definition of προσήλυτος in ancient literature occurs in the writings of Philo. Because he was writing for a Gentile audience, he did not assume knowledge of this unfamiliar word. He described proselytes as people who had left country, friends and relatives, and patriarchal customs, and set themselves under the Jewish constitution. (Spec. Leg. 1.51, 52). The term applies to the Gentile who has adopted the Jewish laws and become circumcised" (Christiana van Houten, The Alien in Israelite Law 182).

The גֵּ֖ר was therefore seen as a convert to Israelite religion and not a pagan in the land as is often claimed by laymen.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Jesus Is Racist and Evangelicalism's Culpability in that Blasphemy

 You may have heard the claim the apostate gay pastor, Brandan Robertson, has made concerning God incarnate. According to Robertson, Jesus was racist and the Bible shows us a scene where He, the everlasting Father, Mighty God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, repents of His racism. 

Why is Jesus racist? Because in Matthew 15:21-28, Jesus excludes a Canaanite from being considered a part of His in-group due to her not being Jewish. He, therefore, is not going to give her the exclusive physical benefits of the kingdom of God that belong only to true Israel.

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said. “But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Notice that Jesus first ignores her even though He hears her. Then He tells her that He was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel, implying that everyone outside of that group will not be given the physical blessings of the kingdom that Jesus has been bestowing on other members of the kingdom, and finally explains to her that "it is not right/good to take the children's bread and cast it to dogs." He picks up a similar instruction here that He gave to His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount: "Do not give what is holy to dogs or cast your pearls before pigs . . ." (7:6). 

You see, Jesus is not inclusive in the way that the modern evangelical is. He holds back the physical blessings/resources of the kingdom from Gentiles/pagans. 

Evangelicals think that this is unloving and horrible but they make excuses for Jesus because He's the eternal Son of God so they figure He has good reasons but they themselves would never emulate Him in this practice because for everyone else it's unloving. 

What our apostate pastor here has done is simply remove the evangelical exemption for Jesus to be unloving and actually labels him as unloving, and that is what he means by racist. Racism here is exclusion based on the woman's race. Jesus is exclusive based on whether one is identified as Israel. He says it Himself. He is only coming to give compassion to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and therefore shows none toward her.

But this is where evangelicals and our gay pastor friend have got it wrong.

Where our gay pastor friend has it wrong is that Jesus is exclusively offering compassionate blessings that belong to the kingdom of God to true Israel and true Israel, according to the Gospel of Matthew, is any Jew or Gentile who believes. Gentiles/pagans, in Matthew's theology, are anyone, Jew or Gentile, who do not believe. That is what this passage is actually attempting to communicate, and that is the lesson Christ is teaching here. So the exclusion is based, not on ethnicity but faith. Her ethnicity is assumed to exclude her because her faith in foreign gods is assumed (at least by the disciples and the reader) by her ethnicity. She isn't a Jew. She becomes a Jew, true Israel, by her exercising faith in the Messiah who is the true Israel. Having now exercised that faith, Christ no longer calls her a dog but "Woman" a term of respect which He uses even for His own mother. He then tells her that all that she has asked has been done for her because her faith is great, showing that the exclusion from kingdom blessings/resources was ultimately due to religion, not race. 

Where evangelicals get it wrong, and where our apostate friend would still have a problem, is that they believe that Jesus has compassion on everyone and gives to them the gifts of love to take care of their physical problems as He runs into them because that is what a loving person does and Jesus is a loving person. In other words, evangelicals have taught everyone, largely due to their simulation into the Enlightenment's inclusivistic, religious Borg, is that love is inclusive. So they really don't know what to do with this passage, and in fact, have set up our young apostate friend with the very interpretive framework of inclusivist assumptions he needs to now judge and blaspheme Jesus as a sinner.

Jesus exclusively meets the physical needs of the covenant community, the lost sheep of the house of Israel, those who are assumed to be a part of that community or those who by faith show that they have joined it. That's why, until this woman exercises faith, she is ignored by Him, told that His works are not for her, and calls her a "dog," i.e., a pagan that is excluded from the kingdom and its blessings. These blessings include physical needs because the kingdom is ultimately not just spiritual but physical, and what Jesus gives physically is a piece of the eternal kingdom in the new heavens and earth. That's what these physical provisions given by Jesus represent.

In Matthew 13:58, we are told that "He did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith." In Mark 6:5-6, we are told why. He could not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. He only ends up doing a few things for a few people who we assume believed. Likewise, Jesus often lets people know that these things are being done in "accordance with your faith," not apart from it. Being a member of the covenant community must be assumed (i.e., that one has faith does not always need to be explicitly stated but there must be something about the person where it can be assumed) or explicitly stated in order to receive the blessings of the kingdom, physical or otherwise. This is what evangelicalism gets wrong and sets anyone up to read these passages as sins on Jesus' part since it is a sin to be unloving, and by unloving, they mean it is a sin to be exclusive with our physical resources. Evangelicalism has indoctrinated us to believe that if we have the ability to help someone in need, we should help them no matter who they are. But that's not what Jesus does or commands, and so when they run into passages like this they need to make up some excuses for Him. Our apostate pastor just isn't doing that because although raised in an atmosphere of evangelical assumptions, he is no longer an evangelical and can stop making the excuses while still holding on to the assumptions.

In this way, evangelicals can rant and rave all they want over his statements but the truth of the matter is that they put the ideas in his head that led him there. In that regard, their failure to understand and teach Christ's love as exclusive to Christ's kingdom people has condemned even Christ Himself for not living up to their man-made religious ideals of what love looks like. 

But Jesus gets to define love, not the Enlightenment cult of inclusivism that makes the reception of Jesus as Lord secondary to acts of true love. Jesus isn't the key of God's love in Evangellyfishism. So when Jesus says that it is "not good" to give the physical help and compassion that belongs to God's people to a people who are not God's people, that's love. Love is exclusive. It is exclusive to God and it is exclusively through God's Son. Matthew 11:25-27 states:

At that time Jesus said, “I praise youFatherLord of heaven and earthbecause you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligentand have revealed them to little childrenYesFatherfor this was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my FatherNo one knows the Son except the Fatherand no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him. 

The Father, His love, His blessings, all that He is, is exclusively revealed by the Son, not to everyone but only to those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him, and He is not revealed to some, as stated here explicitly. For some reason, evangelicals can't make the connection between that exclusivity and the exclusivity of physical blessings of the kingdom. Until they do, evangelicalism will always carry with it the potential to blaspheme, distort, ignore, or replace the true Jesus Christ, who loves and commands His people to exclusively love, by teaching that all men are due the love of God and His people.



Thursday, February 4, 2021

The True Nature of the Religion of Liberalism/"Progressivism"

Two men were seeking the affection of a young lady. Both decided that one night each of them would go to the father and ask to court her. The one took the usual long roads that led to the girl's house. The other man, however, thought that if he could get there first, he would have an advantage. So took a shortcut through the pig farm that would give him a straight path to her house. When he showed up first, however, his request was denied by her father. Just then the other man showed up and asked the same question. The father told him yes. The first man was confused as to why he was denied when the other man who came the same night and stood on the same porch with the same question was granted his request. The father replied, "Because what ended up mattering the most was not that you arrived at the same place, but rather what road you took to get here."

I often get labeled as a liberal by fundamentalists. Strange but true since liberal evangelicals see me as the staunchest of fundamentalists. I figure if fundamentalists and liberals both don't like you, it probably means that you're not brainwashed by either one of their cults.

But what is liberalism really? I get labeled that because of the way I may date a biblical book like Daniel, or pay attention to genres that evangelicals and fundamentalists often ignore like in the case of Ecclesiastes, or concede to the idea that a biblical author may have compiled sources in Isaiah or the Pentateuch (this last one is particularly weird since they are fine with authors using sources in any other book since those books state it explicitly, i.e., Luke, Psalms, Proverbs, etc.). 

But none of this has to do with what makes up liberalism. Yes, liberals believe similar things about Isaiah or Jonah or Daniel, but they have attempted to undermine the authority of the Bible with these things and in no way do they accomplish that goal. In fact, the real reason why they have attempted to use this information to undermine the Bible's authority is because they are attempting an apologetic justification for a liberal epistemology. And that is the true identification marker of a liberal, his epistemology. How does he come to know what he knows about God, Jesus, heaven, hell, sin, the atonement, the virgin birth, etc.?

Liberal epistemology is self-referential  à la Kant or Schleiermacher. One knows what is true through his own reason and/or intuitions. The Scripture opposes this idea by saying that man cannot know these things in his finite and fallen nature and therefore must receive and has received revelation from God to inform him.

The liberal does not like that because it refutes his religion so he seeks to undermine biblical authority by showing it to be so human that it is prone to err, and hence, it is in the same boat as any other group of human beings who are left to their own intuitions.

Couple that with the arrogance of the Enlightenment in seeing itself as "progressing" in its understanding of spiritual things (a faulty non sequitur of an assumption made because it has progressed technologically) and now the liberal thinks he or she has some ground to critique the Bible for being more evolved in some places and lesser evolved in others in its understanding when judged by ours.

So liberalism has really nothing to do with whether you think there are one or three Isaiahs. 

Likewise, orthodox Christians better get wise real fast since the new liberals can affirm the Trinity and virgin birth (those were just originally denied by some liberals as a part of their antisupernaturalist apologetic--other liberals were fine affirming them). Instead, they are see in our day in their arguments that degrade the Bible to a compilation of human experience that may contain error about gender roles, sexuality, and critical race theory when compared to our enlightened understanding of these things.

In other words, these fundamentalists who are trying to safeguard Christianity from liberalism because they're looking for external denials of certain doctrines have missed the mark. Yes, whoever denies those things is not a Christian but whoever affirms them may still be a liberal in the church, infecting it with a completely foreign religion due to its completely opposite epistemology. 

In that regard, it isn't simply a matter that the person has come to the same place as other Christians have on certain issues. What really matters is what road they took to get there. 

Some More Reformed Commentators of the 16th Century on the Image of God

"Some refer [the image] to dominion over creatures, that humans should preside over all just as God does; others connect it to the mind. but I think the image and likeness is what we call the law of nature: "What you would have done to you, do to others!' This image is inscribed and impressed on our hearts. Brute beasts do not have this; rather, nature has assigned animals of every kind to protect themselves in life and body. Therefore, those who attend to justice, who seek God, who imitate God and Christ in innocence of life toward all as well as doing good to them in turn--these are the ones, in the final analysis, who bear that ancient image of God, which has been cleansed and restored by Christ. For just as in Adam we are all corrupted, so in Christ we are all renewed, when, having been endowed with the divine mind, we conduct ourselves according to the character of Christ." (Zwingli 1484-1531) 

"Adam himself, who felt and experienced this image before he first sinned, was able to discuss the image of God much more explicitly than his descendants. The difference between Adam and us is like that between someone who was endowed with sight for a while but became blind, and someone blind from birth. The former can argue about colors because he saw them once upon a time; the latter, because he has never seen colors, how can he dispute about them? In the same way, because we were conceived and born in sin, we cannot understand or explain the true nature of this image except insofar as the Scriptures teach us about it and to the degree that we regain it in this life in Christ and by faith . . . It cannot be regained except by being regenerated by faith in Christ. Truly, may it happen that we may be adopted as God's children, renewed by the Holy Spirit; and begin again to resemble God, until God's perfect image in us is finished and completed in the age to come." (Johannes Brenz 1499-1570)

". . . the image of God according to which humans were created is called the law of human nature, by which one ought to be absolutely eager to do good to all, just as God does. That [image] is possessed neither by brute beasts nor by the impious and the unjust, but rather by those who cultivate righteousness and bear the character of God the Father by imitating Christ the Son of God through their mercy and kindness, innocence of life and gracious generosity. These are the ones who truly bear the image of God--that image according to which they were made, which was immediately corrupted by Adam, and by which Christ was truly cleansed and renewed." (Konrad Pellikan 1478-1556)

"The image of God has two principle parts: wisdom and holiness. Concerning wisdom, Paul says, 'Put on the new self, which is created in knowledge after the image of him which created him.' This wisdom consists in three points. First, he knew God his Creator perfectly, for Adam in his innocence knew God as far as it was fitting for a creature to know his Creator. Second, he knew God's will, as far as it was fitting for him, to show his obedience thereunto. Third, he knew the wisdom and will of his Creator touching the particular creatures: for after Adam was created, the Lord brought every creature unto him, presenting them unto him as being lord and king over them, that he might give names unto them. Whereby it appears that Adam in his innocence knew the nature of all creatures and the wisdom of God in creating them, else he could not have given them fit names; and when God brought Eve unto Adam, he knew her at the first and said, 'This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman, etc.' The second part of God's image in us is holiness and righteousness, which is nothing else but a conformity of the will and affections and of a person's whole disposition both in body and soul to the will of God our Creator." (William Perkins 1558-1602)

"My understanding of the image of God is this: that Adam had it in his being and that he not only knew God and believed that He was good, but that he also lived in a life that was wholly godly; that is, he was without fear of death or of any other danger, and was content with God's favor . . . For this reason, too, if the should transgress His command, God announces the punishment: 'On whatever day you eat from this tree, you will die by death', as though He said: 'Adam and Eve, now you are living without fear; death you have not experienced, nor have you seen it. This is My image, by which you are living, just as God lives. But if you sin, you will lose this image, and you will die.' So we now see what great dangers and how many varieties of death and chances of death this wretched nature is compelled to meet with and to endure in addition to the execrable lust and other sinful passions and inordinate emotions that arise in the hearts of all. We are never secure in God; apprehension and terror cause us concern even in sleep. These and similar evils are the image of the devil, who stamped them on us." (Luther)