|1. BENTHEIM CONFESSION||3|
|2. CHRIST ALONE BY FAITH ALONE||10|
|3. THE ROAD TO ENDOR||12|
|5. THE OLD AND NEW COVENANTS AND THE LAW: PART II||26|
|6. K. A. KITCHEN ON THE OLD TESTAMENT: A REVIEW||47|
KERUX is a publication of Northwest Theological Seminary and appears three times each year (May, September, December). Editorial offices are located at 17711 Spruce Way, Lynnwood, WA 98037-7431. Correspondence should be directed to the editor at this address. Subscription rates for one year are: $20.00 (U.S. and Canada); $25.00 (Elsewhere). All remittances should be made payable in U. S. Funds. KERUX is: abstracted in New Testament Abstracts, Cambridge, MA, Old Testament Abstracts, Washingon, DC and Religious and Theological Abstracts, Myerstown, PA; indexed in ATLA Religion Database, Chicago, IL and the Elenchus of Biblica, Rome, Italy.
[K:JNWTS 20/2 (Sep 2005) 3-9]
The Bentheim region (Grafschaft/Graaschap Bentheim) of Germany borders Overijsel in the Netherlands on the east. Noted for its Castle (erected by the Romans when the Tubanten people inhabited the region), its forest and therapeutic sulpher springs, Bentheim came into the Protestant camp in the 16th century and moved towards Calvinism by the 17th. The catalyst in this evolution was Anna of Tecklenburg (1532-1582), wife of Everwin III (b. 1532), governor of Grafschaft Bentheim from 1553 until his premature death in 1562. Anna had become persuaded of more than the teachings of Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthonshe had discovered John Calvin.1 Upon the death of her husband, she devoted her two children, Arnold (1554-1606) and Walpurgis, to being trained in the Reformed faith. The oldest son and future governor of Grafschaft Bentheim was sent to Strasbourg in 1571 to be educated in the academy of the city where John Calvin and Martin Bucer had labored. On his return to Bentheim to assume his role as governor, Count Arnold II called Johan Kemmener to be court preacher in 1576. Kemmener preached
Meanwhile, Count Arnold's mother had advanced the Reformed faith in Tecklenburg since 1574. Most of the pastors there were Reformed in conviction, but observed some Roman Catholic formalities in worship (i.e., the use of an altar and wafers instead of bread in communion). In 1587, Arnold II summoned an ecclesiastical conference for Tecklenburg and its neighboring cities, Schuttorf and Nordhorn. Arnold advanced a new "Church Order" which declared Reformed worship alone to be acceptable. The directory had been prepared by Arnold's brother, Adolf, Count of Neuenar, Meurs and Limburg. The directory had also been submitted to the leaders of the church in Heidelberg for endorsement. When unanimously approved by the church conference in Tecklenburg, it became known as "The Church Order of 1587." On Christmas day 1587, the Lord's Supper was observed for the first time according to the Reformed rubric (i.e., at tables, not at an altar). Bentheim and the other cities of Grafschaft Bentheim followed suit.
Arnold now applied the educational policy of his mother to his realm. A Latin school at Schuttorf was moved to Steinfort in 1591 in order to become a theological academy for ministerial training. But his choice of Conrad Vorstius (1569-1622) to serve as professor of theology (1596) was to prove disastrous. Vorstius had been trained at Heidelberg, Basel and Geneva. He had impressed Theodore Beza during his sojourn in the latter city (1595-96). But in 1599, he was summoned to defend his views on the Trinity by the faculty at Heidelberg. Suspected of Socinianism, Vorstius parried the accusation with a deft defense of his alleged orthodoxy. Count Arnold II rewarded him with appointment as court preacher in 1602. His influence in Steinfort was immense and when he was appointed James Arminius's (1560-1609) successor at Leiden in 1610, his semi-Pelagian sympathies were evident. His translation of select works of Socinus, the notorious Unitarian, clearly indicated his own Socinian tendencies. Vigorously opposed by Francis Gomarus (1563-1641), Vorstius was forced to withdraw from Leiden in 1612. At the Synod of Dort (1618-1619), he was condemned as a heretic and forced into hiding until his death.
In 1604, Count Arnold II summoned a General Synod to convene
in Schuttorf. Representatives from the provinces of Tecklenburg, Steinfort
On his death in 1606, Arnold's five sons divided the territory over which he had ruled. Arnold Jost received Bentheim; he would govern from 1610-1643. This son, unlike his father, arrogated to himself control over the church. He formed a "High Consistory" on October 13, 1613 to which every congregation in Bentheim was responsible. All church officers, including pastors, were appointed (and removed) by this magisterial board. At the same time, Arnold Jost renewed his commitment to the Reformed faith by placing the Bentheim Confession (below) alongside the Heidelberg Catechism. This was done to assure his people and the churches that in doctrine, the Calvinism of his grandmother remained. Every parishioner from 1617 to 1651 was required to sign these twelve articles. But the future of the Bentheim church was as the ruler of Bentheim. And when Arnold Jost's son and successor, Ernst Willem (1623-1693), converted to Catholicism (1668) it marked the inevitable downgrade of a hierarchical state-church.
The twelve articles of the Bentheim Confession are a clear affirmation of Trinitarian and Calvinistic distinctives. In the context of Vorstius's anti-Trinitarianism as well as his Arminianism, the Bentheimers were formulating succinct statements of their orthodox and Reformed convictions. The controversy which was to peak at Dort over the Remonstrance and Counter-Remonstrance is also part of the larger context of this brief confession.
It will be of interest to the readers of this journal that the father of
Geerhardus Vos, Rev. Jan H. Vos, was from Graftschap Bentheim. He was raised
in the Old Reformed (Oudgereformeerde Kerken in
Nedersaken) tradition that includes the ancestors of the Bentheim Confession. His first pastorate was
in Uelsen, at the Old Reformed church there (province of Bentheim). He
next became a minister of the Christian Reformed Church
(Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerken) in Holland (1860-1881). When Geerhardus was
born in 1862, his father was minister in Hereenveen. After migrating to the
United States in 1881 in order to become the pastor of the Spring Street
Christian Reformed Church, Jan H. Vos served with distinction until his retirement
in 1900. He then moved to Graafschap, Michigan, a settlement near Lake
Background for this introduction to the Bentheim Confession has been gathered from several encyclopedias and essays. Most important is the little booklet written by Geerhardus Vos's uncle, Dr. Hendrik Beuker, entitled Tubantia: Church-State Conflicts in Graafschap Bentheim Germany. This work was published in Dutch by J.H. Kok (Kampen) in 1897. An English edition was prepared by the Historical Library Committee of the Graafschap Christian Reformed Church, Holland, Michigan in 1986.
I am particularly indebted to Hans-Jürgen Schmidt and his forthcoming essay "Die zwölf Bentheimer Artikel von 1613 und der arminianische Streit in den Niederlanden." Schmidt's essay is scheduled for publication in the Bentheimer Jahrbuch 2006. Pastor Gerrit Jan Beuker of Hoogstede, Germany was also very helpful in providing German materials.
Finally, I wish to acknowledge the kindness of my son-in-law, Dr. Tucker McElroy, for translating several German documents into English for me. All in all, this article has been a joint project of the saints past and present. Soli Deo gloria!
The translation of the Bentheim Confession that follows was part of a joint class assignment in the Ecclesiastical Latin course at Northwest Theological Seminary during the academic year 2004-2005. The translation of the original Latin version2 was then compared with an English translation of the German version supplied through the article by Schmidt. Dr. Tucker McElroy translated the German version for us. The final version of our translation is
To our knowledge, this is the first translation of this document into English. It was a great joy for the class to work on and perfect what you are about to read. Gratias tibi ago, discipuli!
Articles proposed by the preachers in the ecclesiastical visitation of the Imperial Count of Bentheim in the year 1613 in the month of March and received again and approved in the solemn and also extraordinary assembly in the Castle at Bentheim in the year 1617 in the month of April.
It is asked
I. Concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence
Whether you believe that the divine essence is one and undivided or that Jehovah, our God, is one in number.
II. Concerning the Trinity of Persons
Whether you believe that in the unity of the divine essence or Godhead there are three distinct, equal and coessential personsthe Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
III. Concerning the Person of Jesus Christ
Whether you believe that Jesus Christ is true God in one person, begotten from eternity in an ineffable manner by the Father, and3 true man, born in time without sin from the virgin Mary.
Whether you believe that Jesus Christ was given to us by God [and4] was ordained as Prophet, Priest and King.
V. Concerning the Prophetic Office of Christ in Particular
Whether you believe that Christ [as5] Prophet has declared to us salvation and his way6, and therefore as Arbitrator7 and Internuncio8, is our Mediator.
VI. Concerning the Priestly Office
Whether you believe that Christ as Priest has interceded for us not only in these earthly things, yet also intercedes with the Father in heavenly things; but that also by his suffering and death, as an all-sufficient sacrifice, he has freed us from our sins and eternal death; and so also by way of intercession and payment9, is our Mediator.
VII. Concerning the Kingly Office
Whether you believe that Jesus Christ brought forth and established grace by his suffering, to apply it to true believers and penitents efficaciously by the Spirit, the Word and the Sacraments, and to keep them perseveringly in that grace; and likewise finally through this mode of application and preservation, is our Mediator.
VIII. Concerning the Efficacy of the Merit of Christ
Whether you believe that no salvation is able to be possessed and retained apart from Christ and therefore, the fathers of the Old Testament have been justified and saved no less by faith in Christ, at that time about to come,
5 German: als.
6 Latin: ejus viam; German: den Weg zu ihm (= "the way to him").
7 Latin: Arbitri meaning "referee" (i.e., between two parties).
8 Latin: Internuntii meaning "messenger" (i.e., between two parties).
9 Latin: solutionis meaning "payment of a debt"; German: Erlösung = "redemption".
IX. Concerning Infant Baptism
Whether you believe that infants, no less than adults, belong to the gracious covenant of God and the sign and seal of that covenant, namely baptism, is not to be denied them.
X. Concerning Election
Whether you believe that God before he laid the foundation of the world has chosen us in Christ Jesus; and has ordained us unto the adoption of sons, according to the good pleasure of his will, unto the praise of his glorious grace; and even for this11, that we might live holy and blameless before him in love.
XI. Concerning Salvation
Whether you believe that God wills that all believing and penitent persons be saved: but unbelievers and the impenitent, who obstinately persevere in impiety and unbelief to the end, certainly are going to be sentenced to eternal damnation.
XII. Concerning the Means of Salvation
Whether you believe that in the means of salvation, the beginning, middle and end ought to be altogether ascribed to God, but should not be granted by the powers and works of man and their merits, either completely or in part: notwithstanding12 God working unto salvation, the pious and faithful cooperate through the grace of God.
11 German: und dazu = "for the purpose that".
12 German: obwohl.
Not by the Merit of Works
The soul which with a firm faith cleaves to the promises of God is united with them, absorbed by them, penetrated, saturated, inebriated by their power. If the touch of Christ was healing, how much more does that most tender touch in the spirit, that absorption in the Word convey to the soul all the qualities of the Word so that it becomes trustworthy, peaceable, free, full of every good, a true child of God. From this we see very easily why faith can do so much and no good work is like unto it, for no good work comes from God's Word like faith. No good work can be within the soul, but the Word and faith reign there. What the Word is that the soul is, as iron becomes fire-red through union with the flame. Plainly then faith is enough for the Christian man. He has no need for works to be made just. Then is he free from the law.
But he is not therefore to be lazy or loose. Unless a man is already
a believer and a Christian, his works have no value at all. They are foolish,
idle, damnable sins, because when good works are brought forward as ground
for justification, they are no longer good. Understand that we do not reject
good works, but praise them highly. The apostle Paul said, "Let this mind be in
you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being on an equality with God
emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and becoming obedient unto
death." Paul means that when Christ was fully in the form of God, abounding in
all things, so that he had no need of any work or any suffering to be saved, he
was not puffed up, did not arrogate to himself power, but rather in suffering,
From The Freedom of the Christian Man cited by Roland Bainton in his classic study of the life of Luther, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (New York and Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1950) 230-31.
Saul and the witch of Endor. It's a dark story. One of Israel's darkest moments. A rather intriguing story. Aren't we somehow strangely drawn to this dark story? We would like to peer into the dark cave over the witch's shoulder"What's going on, witch?" If only to satisfy our curiosity. That's how many actually get drawn into the world of darkness and the occult. Just to satisfy my curiosity. Try these drugs; try that fortune-teller. Just have to see for myself. Down, deep into the darknessdark slavery.
Strange, isn't it, how in this very thing the Word of God just does not really satisfy our curiosity. Of all the texts to leave us wondering . . . . What are we to think? How are we to understand it all? The appearance of Samuel in the witch's cave leaves a big question mark. Or a few question marks. What happened? What does a spiritist, a medium, do to make this happen? What did she see exactly? Did it really happen? How did it happen? Can it even happen? Does this sort of thing happen? Channellers todayis that for real, then? And then, of course, the question: what does this text mean for God's people, for us?
The history of interpretation of this text leaves us with a variety of
opinions. And not completely satisfying answers. One commentator says this;
another says that. No, it cannot happen; it was all mind-games between Saul
and the medium. Yes, it did happen; by a special providence. No, it was not
Nevertheless, there are at least a couple of things we should say up front. Up front, because we do have to decide how to approach the text. Even if we can't nail down an insight into all the details. First, of all there is this: the Word of God in the text does not itself raise any questions or doubts about what went on in the witch's cavern.
God's Word does not itself make a problem of this event. So, do we need to make a problem of it? The way it reads is: this is what happenedand that's what happened. Even though our curiosity is not satisfied, there is no indication in the text that says: no, but it didn't really happen the way the woman says it happened. The LORD apparently wants us to read it like this is what happened. Can we do that?
There is, in fact, very good reason to do just that. Consider what happened afterwards. What Samuel said to Saul happened exactly as it had been told Saul in the cave. "The LORD will give Israel into the hands of the Philistines," said Samuel. The LORD did exactly that (chapter 31)! Samuel is a true prophet of the LORD. Also in the textalso in the cavealso in his death! Saul and his sons were dead, next day, in battle against the Philistines. Israel given over by the LORD. Scripture clearly links together Saul's battlefield death and this eventnamely, the LORD's Word through Samuel in 1 Samuel 28.
Second, we should consider this: Scripture interpreting Scripture is
very important for this text. There is a text at the beginning of 1 Samuel
which reminds us very much of this one. It's a crucial linkdecisive. It's in 1
Samuel 3. 1 Samuel 28 is like the inside-out, upside-down version of 1 Samuel
3. Samuel was a young boy in the service of the Lord at the tabernacle in
Shiloh, serving under Elicorrupt priestly house. The word of the LORD was
scarce in those days. The LORD called Samuel three times in the
nightmysterious call, disturbing him. The LORD gave Samuel a word of judgment about
The very first time Samuel prophesied reminds of this, the very last time that Samuel prophesied. Of course, the scenes are drastically different, opposed, contrasting. Yes, this is the inside-out upside-down version. There Samuel, a young inexperienced boy, was called out of a barren womb, and summoned 'before his time' (a young boy!) in the LORD's house where the ark of God was. Here Samuel, an old dead man, is called out of the grave, summoned 'after his time' (he's dead!) in a witch's cave. The contrast could not be greater. There Samuel was summoned from above, from God's exalted throne. God calling up a new prophet from before the ark. Here Samuel is summoned from below, from Saul's self-destructing throne. Saul, through a witch, calling up a dead prophet from a hole in the ground. Parallel events, parallel revelation, though very much a contrasting parallel. It seems that this connection, this relation between passages in the same Bible book, warrants us taking seriously the text exactly as we read it. In light of 1 Samuel 3 we would say about 1 Samuel 28: Yes, this was God's last task for Samuel. And however it happened, and however many details are left unanswered for our curiosity, God got it done. Samuel: a prophet of judgment at the very beginning and at the very end of his prophetic career. Yes, Samuel who also had the blessed task of bringing in David, Jesus, God's new man, in the middle, at the climax, of his career.
Which raises the question: Why would God do this in the witch's
cave? Why would we meet God here, through Samuel, with Saul in the cave?
To teach us, to teach his people, something about Saul. Saul was our man; is
our old man. Saul: he is the king we wanted when God wasn't good enough
anymore. Look what you get, says God. Look at your man. See your old
But then we also remember this: God has his new king for us in the wings, waiting. DavidJesus: he's all around the text. The David story is the cushion around this text, for us who go into this text, into the cave with Saul. David/Jesus in whom we must be found: he's there alreadythank God! David, Jesus, who must be our new man.
As we now listen more closely to the story of the text, we could capture the message of 1 Samuel 28 in this theme: God's rejected king makes a covenant with death. As he does this, we see first that Saul's nature is exposed as he consults a medium, and then that Saul's future is disclosed as he hears from Samuel.
It was dark in Israel. So dark that David, the LORD's anointed, was forced into exileout of the land. The beginning of chapter 28 reminds uslooking back to chapter 27. Chapter 29 reminds us again. David, because of Saul, because of sin, our sin collected in Saul, was forced to play the role of a Philistine. David: a virtual Philistinecounted among the transgressors, the enemies of God's people. His, Christ's, humiliation. A thorough-going exile while the old king, sin personified, ran his course, exhausting himself. There, in his exile, the LORD kept David for the kingdom. David doing kingdom things in his exile (chs. 27, 29-30)!
Here is Saul, then, doing his thing, running his coursewalking in
darkness. Darkness in God's land, on God's earth. See sin, our sin,
exhausting itself. It has to. There is no future for sin under God's sun. God's light has
gone out from him. He walks in darknessno prophet, no Urim, no dream,
no Word of God. Watch sin in fear and terror go creeping off into the
nightwithout God. Watch sin come to a virtual standstill, broken, exhausted,
trembling, prostrate, in the witch's cave. Sin has no future in the land, on
There are three things that characterize the chapter as a whole. Three things by which to read Saul. First, Saul is afraid at the beginning of the chapter. He is terrified at the end. Saul can't shake fear; fear shakes him. Fear has no place in God's anointed. Saul feared; he was terrified. Sin does that. And when sin looks for its own way out of fear, fear only turns to terror. That's what happens in 1 Samuel 28. Watch Saul's fear. It turns only to terror. He went to the witch to get his fear undone. It doesn't workit's terror now. Second, Saul conducts his mission by night. It is night at the beginning of the chapter. It is still night at the end of the chapter. Like Judas, Saul who has betrayed kingship, must work at night. Sin works in darkness. Sin is darkness. Watch Saul walk in darkness. Third, Saul spends a lot of time lying on the ground in this chapter. He's falling on the ground or lying on the ground. Watch sin fall on the ground, dust to dust. Sin goes down like that. Watch Saul fall headlong into his grave. That's Saul: fear, darkness, and on the ground. See, says God, look: sin has no future. The Word of God warns us. Let God make this picture of sin for our instruction. Watch Saul: our sin collected together into one sorry, very doomed man.
Why is this happening? In short, because Saul stopped being God's man. Willfully. Don't feel sorry for Saul. We do. Because he was our choice for King. We have a natural inclination for him. We must break that. This chapter of God's Word helps us. Look at Saul and don't feel sorry. Why not? He rejected Godwillfully, repeatedly. Therefore God rejected him. Therefore God left him. Therefore God did not speak to him. And when God leaves, what's left? Fear, and darkness, and deathtaken upon oneself. Saul turns from God to the only bitter alternative, which is no alternative: he makes a covenant with death. He communes with the dead.
But Saul, like us, does not want to be known for this. He disguises
himself. Ironically, in doing that he un-kings himself. Trades in his royal garb . .
. for something that makes a witch's cave more accessible. Dressed not as
a king. Dressed for death, to meet death. There is however, an ironic
twist. "Saul had removed from the land those who were mediums and spiritists."
We are told right up front. We don't know when Saul did this. It was certainly
And what does Saul do? He walks on, right over God's Word, the K(k)ing's policy of the land. He goes right against itwillfully. With the name of the LORD he makes an oath. "As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing." See that! Using the name of the LORD to defend someone from the punishment which the LORD had assigned to this sin. See how bizarre it gets in the grip of sin? What a tangled web we weave . . . . Saul in disguise, using the name of the LORD in an oath, to defy one of God's own policies, which Saul himself had enforced in the land. What blasphemy, Saul! See? Do not pity Saul. He knows what he is doing. Sin always does. Saul holds fast his sin which has gripped him.
And then the final irony, the greatest contradiction of all. Saul, who is on this so-secret mission to get an illegitimate word from Samuel, he gets exposed in the very act. The moment Samuel appears, Saul is exposed.
It's quite unexpected and completely unexplained. But there it is. Even the woman was caught off-guard; the woman cried out with a loud voice. Something throws her off. And she said to Saul: You are Saul! Yes, Saul, God can find you out anywhere, anytime, anyhow. There is no cover in sin. There is no darkness, no disguise, no name of God, that can protect. Saul is exposed. Saul would not listen to God. So God left him. What does this leave Saul? With nowhere to hide! The road of paganism leading into the grave: and exposed in the very act.
Look at David in chapter 27. David is there as a virtual Philistine: sent into exile because of Saul. Taking on the role of a Philistine. And God hides David very, very well right there in Philistia. Achish is blinded by God, doesn't have a clue about David. God hides David. Now look at Saul: the one who had once sent mediums and spiritists into exile, cut them off from the land, is now disguised in the night while protecting a medium in the land and in the name of the LORD. And using her services. And Saul cannot hide. In the darkness, through the disguise, the woman sees!! "But you are Saul!" Saul exposed.
David sent out; the priests of Nob slaughtered; and paganism given a home with Saul. David is a virtual Philistinein exile; the priests of the LORD are dead; and Saul is a pagan, a Canaanite. For this the Canaanites were sent out of the land, said God in Deuteronomy 18. Who is out of the land now? David. Who is in the land? Paganism has a home with Saul. Not only in his land. But in his heart. This is where Saul's sin brought him. He is a Canaanite at heart. And he cannot hide. He is exposed. His sin will find him out. This is why he cannot and will not remain. For the sake of God's people. For our sake. We cannot have him for our king. Our old man: we must reject him. Let him be exposed. That we may see him and flee. May God deal decisively with him. Please LORD, let it end! Let Saul end. Let sin end.
And God does hear. Saul's future is disclosed there in the cave. There are two main things that happen next. With a third thing following, which seals it all. See first how the LORD in the middle of Saul's sin, brings him a Word from the LORD. That is something only God can do. Saul is sinning like a hardened, confirmed pagan, bringing up the spirits of the dead. And right there, God is speaking a Word to him through Samuel. The darkness is not dark for God. He can and does work on. For his purpose. For his glory. For his people, for us. Samuel explains what is going to happen and why. Saul, you rejected the Word of God. God gave the kingdom to your neighbor, tore it
Then comes the second thing that happens. At the word of Samuel, Saul fell immediately full length on the ground. He became virtually dead. Reminds us of Elihearing news of Israel's defeat, the ark's capture, he fell over dead. Saul is here already experiencing a living death. The Word of the LORD through Samuel is true. Saul knows it. Sin knows it. His body feels it. No strength left in him; he had eaten nothing. Sin and God's judgment floor Saul. He wasn't living anymore. Sin saps strength; life grows dim. God's judgment knocks sin flat.
Finally, there is the third thing. The witch, and Saul's servants (great
servants, by the way, aren't theywatch who your friends, your men are . . .
!) impress on him the need to eat. Very remarkable in this section of the text
is the theme of listening. Remember, listening to God is where Saul fell
away, rebelled. Listening to God is not where sin goes, not where sin wants to
go. But listen carefully now in the witch's cave. A remarkable exchange.
Behold, your maidservant has obeyed you, I have listened to your words which
you spoke to me (v. 21). So now please listen to the voice of your maidservant
Notice how the witch's words impress, indeed impose, on Saul a sort of covenant. I have done this for youlistened to you. Now you should do this for melisten to me. That's a covenant agreement. Imposed by this woman of darkness and death. And Saul caves in in the cave. He has gone too far. He cannot resist. He will not. Yes, he doesn't really want to . . . . He eats.
It's a meal fit for a king: the fattened calf. And . . . it's an inside-out, upside-down Passover meal: a meal eaten in the night, with haste, unleavened bread. A covenant meal, of sorts, an exodus meal before Saul goes out. But this meal is not an exodus for Saul: it's the seal on his path to death (as such, it is Israel's new exodus). This meal in the witch's cave seals Saul's covenant with death. He will sit down to eat with one who facilitated his bond to death. It is almost like being fed by death. The woman is a medium, a necromancer: death is her business. These are the fruits of her business. Saul does business with her. And now he can't escape her. He eats unto death, fed by the mistress of death. He is enslaved. He must sit and seal this covenant with death against his will. His last meal. It must remind him of his first meal with Samuel1 Samuel 9: a covenant meal to begin Saul's kingship; now a covenant meal to end it: and what a dark meal now. The king is undoneour man. And then they arose and went away. And it was night . . . .
Saul was our man. Pay attention. Know him well. Identify him. And
break with him. Because he will bring us down. He brings all Israel down.
That's sin's business. Thank God that he was working in that place. Thank God
Thank God that while Saul is self-destructing, willfully in his sin, God has David waiting in the wings. Saul is harboring and living out Canaanitism. Israel, God's kingdom, has no hope in him. He carries in him the seed of death, darkness, destruction. David is in exile, in Philistia; but already from there making new and significant conquests for the kingdom (against Amalekites). Israel, God's kingdom, has in David the seed of new life, even in exile. Saul will go down. That Christ may come. Saul must go down. For Christ must come, the seed of David, God's new man. We need that new man.
And what will we do? We'd rather be with David in Philistia, wouldn't we? It's not easy. Pretty hard to be in exile: being counted with the transgressors. Waiting for what's next. Waiting. Waiting for promises to be fulfilled. But, really, it's the best place to be! Waiting for God no matter whatthere is no better way. David is not a slave under Achish. He is Achish's right hand (think of Joseph, Daniel)! But even more: David is still God's maneven a king of sorts with an inheritance in exile: Ziklag. Because he waited for God. That, more than anything, made David, and his own who were with him, ripe for God's kingdom. Waiting for God: it's ripening for glory, for the kingdom, the eternal inheritance. Saul could not wait. Could never wait; would not! Could not obey; would not! Was his own man. And look at him now. He's not his own man at all. He's a weak slave at the mercy of a witch in a narrow cave lying on the ground covenanting with death. A thorough-going pagan, ripening for Philistine conquest, and death, and then the curse of God. He will be hanged (curse) in his death.
What will we do? Will we reject Saul? That's pretty hard, toowe
desired him, we loved him. Sin: our old man, our old friend, our old king.
How we loved him. Yes, and for the sake of our very salvation, we must put
American Reformed Church
From here he made me see
above my head poverty
On a certain day we
pressed into that house, all
dampened by the seaside air
deluge people damaged
by the Fall.
while sky-borne spirits danced and played
in light that silhouetted forms
upon our haloed up-turned faces.
Phosphorescent ropes as prayers
lowered the stricken man
on his bed, borne by the
radiating hopes of angels
on the roof.
The voices of the earth were met,
silence-ending glory heard,
when he descended and was set
where God stood
The following comments are based on notes taken by Kristin Annette Dennison during personal conversations with her uncle in June 1996.
The 'irony' of this poem is the simple, yet illusory, polarity of
opposites. In the first stanza for instance, 'heaven' is down, earthly, self-ish; 'poverty'
The 'seaside air' refers to Capernaum and environs, leading to a water motif, i.e., the deluge (Noah's flood) generation destined for destruction on account of the Fall. Nevertheless from the reverse arena of their hopes, graces fall from the 'ceiling' turning their faces upwards to the still higher haloed host.
And now the lowering ropes become the reverse image of upward-leading prayers, as if folding the agents 'on the roof' into angelic guise. But the clash of earthly absolutizers ('voices of the earth,' i.e., the Pharisees) is silenced by the heavenly glory embodied in the God-man who 'stood forgiving sins'. And the paralytic went free, healed and forgiven.
Thus the eschatological condescension of God is contained in those brought down to his feet; in that glorious humiliation men, women and children meet the One who forgives sins, reverses all ironies and puts them in possession of heaven itself. In that One is the truly redemptive-historical irony.
James T. Dennison, Jr.
Was the Mosaic Covenant a Redemptive Covenant of Grace?1
Characters for the Dialogue:
Smith: Alias of the writer of this article. He believes that the Mosaic covenant is a covenant of grace legally administered.
Cleaver: Makes objections to the article. He believes that the Mosaic Covenant was a temporal covenant of works relating only to the temporal blessings of Canaan. However, Cleaver does not believe that Jewish believers who were under that covenant received their eternal salvation by that covenant. Instead, that was given to them by the Abrahamic Covenant, which continued to have force at the same time as the Mosaic Covenant but remained distinct from it.2
2 For want of better names, I have chosen "Cleaver" because he cleaves the covenants apart, while "Smith" seeks to forge things together.
Cleaver: "But of course, got to follow up on that article of yours. I've been"
Smith: "Oh, please, have a seat. Cream and sugar?"
Cleaver: "No thank you."
Smith: "Well, I thought we'd read the introduction to the article again, just to get us back on track. How's that?"
Cleaver: "Certainly, suit yourself, whatever you like."
Was the Mosaic Covenant simply a typological covenant of works, promising temporal blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience?3 We deny.
The state of the question: The question is not, "Did the Mosaic Covenant promise temporal blessings for obedience and temporal curses for disobedience?" For we affirm this. The question is not, "Do these temporal blessings and curses carry over into the New Covenant in their earthly/temporal manifestation?" For (we agree that) they do not. Again, the question is not, "Were these temporal blessings and curses types of the eschatological blessings and curses of the New Covenant?" For we affirm this. The question is not, "Were the sanctified works of Israel under the Old Covenant uniquely a type of Christ's work (insofar as they were rewarded with various degrees of blessings and curses)?" For we affirm this.4
4 Also, we should not be misinterpreted as criticizing our opponents for believing that the Mosaic Covenant was a mere repetition of the Covenant of Works with Adam, promising eter-
Smith: "Well, since we were together last time I've rewritten the paper a little bitand switched the original third and fourth points around."
Cleaver: "Fair enough."
Smith: "So now it should read:
(3) Regarding typology: Is it possible to speak of the Mosaic Covenant as a typological covenant if its blessings were not an intrusion of future eschatological blessings? We deny. Instead, we affirm that the blessings (promised to obedience) must have been intrusions of the kingdom to come. Otherwise, they could not have been types of that kingdom. This resolves itself into a similar question, "Is it possible to speak of the Mosaic Covenant as a typological covenant if it was not a covenant of grace?" We deny. Instead, we affirm that the Mosaic Covenant must be a covenant of grace in order to be typological. (4) Was Israel's own merit the ground of her blessings in the land? That is, were the works of Old Testament believers (by which they received temporal blessings and curses in the land) strictly meritorious? We deny.
The position taken (by those with whom we dispute) on questions 2 through 4 (above) is not always clear. However, resolving these questions will
Smith: "Of course, we discussed the first part of this question last time we were together. So I'm going to skip over that and continue reading with the second question."
Cleaver: "But of course."
Smith reads: "Having concluded the first point of our question, we now move to the second, third, and fourth points.
Before embarking on a discussion of these points, let's get before us the big picture that ties them together. Those with whom we contend divide the Mosaic economy5 into two distinct levels that are controlled by two absolutely contrary principles. God's saving grace controls the first level, but Israel's meritorious works control the second.
On the first level, Israel received eternal salvation. God gave Israel eternal salvation by Christ's work alone. But (once in the land) the second level came into effect. In this level, Israel earned all her temporal blessings by her own meritorious works. This second level is the level on which typology functions. Thus, Israel earned those things that point to Christ by her meritorious obedience. She merited Old Testament types and shadows. Typology is dependent on merit. Or merit precedes typology.
Smith: "But that completely undermines typologybecause all typology looks to the future. It's dependent on the sense that it lacks fulfillment. There isn't one kind of typology that simply looks to the past. It all looks to the future."
Cleaver: "Well, perhaps it does that. Maybe we have two types of typology in the Old Testament. One is dependent on the grace of God and looks ahead to the fulfillment of that grace. The other looks back to grace but is dependent on the merit of Israel for its fulfillment."
Smith: "Well, that's the point of the discussion. Can there be any typology like thatone that starts with grace and ends with merit? The other thing I'd like to point out is that you've said some things inconsistent with the views of your friends. For they say that the works principle only promised temporal blessings. But to look forward to the final fulfillment it would have to promise something more (which Israel failed to accomplish). It would have to promise the reward of the eschatological agefor perfect obedience. That's what Christ fulfilled."
Cleaver: "I'll have to think about that."
Smith: "Well, let's get back on track and read on. The view I'm critiquing teaches that there are two levels. And (on the second level) Israel earned a great deal of the Old Testament's typology. She merited all the blessings in the land. Therefore, she merited all the typology tied to these blessings. Thus, merit precedes this typology.
We can summarize our response to this view with the words of Geerhardus Vos.
In determining the function of the ceremonial law we must take into consideration its two large aspects, the symbolical
and typical, and the relation between these two. The same things were, looked at from one point of view, symbols, and, from another point of view, types. A symbol is in its religious significance something that profoundly portrays a certain fact or principle or relationship of a spiritual nature in a visible form. The things it pictures are of present existence and present application. They are in force at the time in which the symbol operates. With the same thing, regarded as a type, it is different. A typical thing is prospective; it relates to what will become real or applicable in the future.6
The main problem to understand is, how the same system of portrayals can have served at one and the same time in a symbolical and a typical capacity. Obviously this would have been impossible if the things portrayed had been in each case different or diverse, unrelated to each other. If something is an accurate picture of a certain reality, then it would seem disqualified by this very fact for pointing to another future reality of a quite different nature. The solution of the problem lies in this, that the things symbolized and the things typified are not different sets of things. They are in reality the same things, only different in this respect that they come first on a lower stage of development in redemption, and then again, in a later period, on a higher stage. Thus what is symbolical with regard to the already existing edition of the fact or truth becomes typical, prophetic, of the later, final edition of that same fact or truth. From this it will be perceived that a type can never be a type independently of its being first a symbol. The gateway to the house of typology is at the farther end of the house of symbolism. This is the fundamental rule to be observed in ascertaining what ele-
ments in the Old Testament are typical, and wherein the things corresponding to them as antitypes consist. Only after having discovered what a thing symbolizes, can we legitimately proceed to put the question what it typifies, for the latter can never be aught else than the former lifted to a higher plane. The bond that holds type and antitype together must be a bond of vital continuity in the progress of redemption. Where this is ignored, and in place of this bond are put accidental resemblances, void of inherent spiritual significance, all sorts of absurdities will result, such as must bring the whole subject of typology into disrepute.7
In this section, Vos indicates that nothing in the Old Testament was a type unless it was a symbol. That is, to be a type it had to be a real blessing from the heavenly throne of God.
Take the sacrifices for instance. They were both sacraments and typessacraments of the Mosaic covenant of grace and types of Christ. The only reason they were types is because they were intrusions of the grace of Christ to come. In other words, the only reason they were types is because they were sacraments of the covenant of grace.
Of course, the blessings given in Christ are fuller than those given through the sacrifices. But they gave the same grace in substance. They were eschatological intrusions of the grace of Christ to come. That is why they could be types of Christ to come.
As Vos states, "the things symbolized and the things typified are the same things." This explains how "what is symbolical with regard to the already existing edition of the fact or truth becomes typical, prophetic, of the later, final edition of that same fact or truth." For "The bond that holds type and antitype together must be a bond of vital continuity in the progress of redemption"8(emphases mine).
Therefore, we should not speak of two separate levels. The typological "level" of the Mosaic covenant was fully dependent on and integrated with the "level" of eternal salvation. In other words, there aren't two sharply defined levels of the Mosaic covenant. We can make theological distinctions in the Mosaic covenant, but these distinctions don't amount to making two entirely different levels.
Thus, to make the typological aspect of the Mosaic covenant a separate level (governed by a totally different principle from that of eternal redemption) is mistaken.
In the end, it undermines the insight of Vos (which we hope to show is taught in Scripture). In their view, Old Testament types are on a separate level, entirely distinct from eternal redemption. As a result, these types are not symbols. They can not arise from an intrusion of Christ's eternal redemption in history. They are not intrusions of eschatological grace. They become mere abstractionsabstractions from the whole history of redemptionand arbitrarily overlaid on top of it. They do not flow from the organic continuum of redemption and revelation."
Cleaver: "That's a rather extreme charge Smith. I don't know anyone who would actually say that."
Smith: "Of course not. I'm sure they'd shrink from itor at least I'd hope so. But I believe that's the implication. And you can see it in the way many of your friends preachalways focusing on the discontinuity of the old and new covenants. They seem to give so little reflection to how every Old Testament text is a positive intrusion of Christ's eschatological grace."
Cleaver: "But what about discontinuity?"
Cleaver: "Well, we can discuss this more later. Read on."
Smith: "Just to remind you, Vos is suggesting something crucial about the typology of the Old Testament. Nothing was a type unless it was a symbol. That is, nothing was a type unless it was an intrusion of Christ's grace to come.
The two things are so interrelated that they can't simply be divided into two levels. This is especially the case if these levels are governed by two opposing principles. That is, if one is governed by grace and one is governed absolutely by works. They can't be governed by two principles that are in absolute antithesis to one another."
Cleaver: "I thought you believed in a relative contrast between the old and new covenants?"
Smith: "Yes, I do. But that is different than an absolute contrast. A relative contrast suggests that there is relatively more grace in the new covenant than the old. I believe this is consistent with Vos's view. But if meritorious works governed the typological level, then it is in absolute contrast to the covenant of grace. These two things are not compatible."
Cleaver: "Alright, read on."
Smith reads: "We now summarize our critique. All Old Testament typology was dependent on the intrusion of Christ's grace in it. Therefore, Christ's grace (and not human merit) was the foundation of all Old Testament typology.
God gave this grace more immediately in the exodus. But after the law
at Sinai, he administered this grace through their faith and obedience. Still,
his sovereign grace (as revealed in the exodus) was always the first cause of
And further, God did not produce merit within the Israelites. Thus, he did not reward their sanctified obedience10 because the Spirit worked merit in them. This could never be. Besides, God ultimately gave them these blessings because of his covenant of grace with Abraham. Just as he gave them their obedience by graceso he rewarded their obedience by grace.
This gracious arrangement was set forth in the Mosaic covenantespecially in its final form in Deuteronomy.
Our claim is that the Mosaic covenant is a covenant of grace uniquely legally administered. And this legal administration was according to the pattern of the covenant of works, but it was not a covenant of works properly speaking. Thus, we might say it was patterned after merit, but it was not merit properly speaking. (It was not even merit in the way that we may speak of Adam's work being meritorious.) Israel's obedience resulted in the removal of curse from their inheritance. Thus, it was a type of Christ's merit (which finally took away the curse separating us from the eschatological inheritance of the Spirit.) But it was not merit properly speaking.
God gave Israel their inheritance blessings by redemptive graceeven when he gave them this grace through their sanctified obedience. Therefore, their works were not meritorious. And there are not two levels of the Mosaic covenant or economyone determined by redemptive grace and the other determined by merit.
[Further, Paul contrasted the eschatological justification in Christ to the works of the law. But (insofar as this contrast refers to the state of the regenerate under the Mosaic covenant) it is only a relative contrast. In it, Paul only contrasts the sanctified works of Israel (as types of the work of Christ) to the work of Christthe reality.]
2) Were the temporal blessings simply temporal blessings or were they foretastes/intrusions of the eschatological blessings yet to come in Christ? We deny that they were simply temporal blessings and affirm that they were intrusions of eschatological blessings in Christ. This resolves itself into another question, "Is it possible to speak of the blessings of the Mosaic Covenant as intrusions of future blessings in Christ if the Mosaic Covenant was not a covenant of grace?" We deny.
The two crucial propositions of this point are the following: (1) the theocratic blessings of Israel ultimately arose from the grace of the Abrahamic covenant. Therefore, they are intrusions of the redemptive grace of God. (2) When Israel partook in these blessings, she anticipated the blessings of Christ to come.
(1) The blessings of Israel ultimately arose from the grace of the Abrahamic covenant.
Those with whom we dispute partially agree with us on this proposition. We all agree that Israel initially possessed her blessings by grace. However, according to them, she retained those blessings by meritorious works. By works she stored up more and more of those blessings.
Both groups agree that God first gave Israel her blessed state by grace. However, we believe that God continued to give Israel her blessings by gracenot by merit.
Thus, the question at issue is whether God gave Israel these blessings by his redemptive graceeven after he gave them the law and brought them into the land. The question is not whether there is a difference in the way God administered his blessing to Israel before and after the law. For we acknowledge that after the giving of the law there was a change in the administration of his grace. After the law his blessing was more clearly mediated through Israel's faith and obedience.
However, Christ purchased these blessings for Israel by his death and resurrectionjust as he purchases our sanctification by his death and resurrection. He simply mediated those blessings to her by giving her faith and obedience. She received these blessings by faith and obedience in the same way that we (and the saints of the Old Testament) continually lay up treasures in heaven by faith and obedience.
God gave Israel the blessings of the land in fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. Thus, these blessings arose from the covenant of grace. This was also true of the blessings God gave her once she was settled in the land. They arose from the Abrahamic covenanteven though God gave them to Israel through her sanctified obedience.
And sometimes he gave them to her in spite of her disobedience in the land. This is another indication that they finally came from the Abrahamic covenant.
These claims do not detract from the fact that Israel's blessings had a special function in the land. To quote Geerhardus Vos (who notes the unique function of Israel's obedience after denying that it was meritorious):
The connection . . . belongs not to the legal sphere of merit, but to the symbolico-typical sphere of appropriateness of expression . . . the abode of Israel in Canaan typified the heavenly, perfected state of God's people. Under these circumstances the ideal of absolute conformity to God's law of legal holiness had to be upheld . . . When apostasy on a general scale took place, they could not remain in the promised land. When they disqualified themselves for typifying
the state of holiness, they ipso facto disqualified themselves for typifying that of blessedness and had to go into captivity.11
Then Vos emphasizes the gracious nature of this arrangement, beginning with these words, "This did not mean that every individual Israelite, in every detail of his life, had to be perfect, and that on this was suspended the continuance of God's favor."12
On this most fundamental level we agree with Vos (while adding our own unique nuances).13 Among these nuances is the claim that Israel's blessings were a partial reversal of the curse given to Adam. In this way, Israel's blessings anticipated Christ's final reversal of the cursehis eschatological justification. As such they were blessings earned by the resurrection of Christgiven before the time. Through these blessings Israel partook in the inheritance of the age to comelifted to glory and seated with Christ in heavenly places. (We will expound on this in more detail in its own place.)
This leads us to our next point.
2) When Israel partook in these blessings, she anticipated the blessings of Christ to come.
God gave Israel the blessings of the land by grace. Therefore, God purchased these blessings for Israel by the work of Christ. Christ's blessed life was truly anticipated in these blessings (for those who possessed him by faith).
We do not wish to claim that these earthly blessings were absolute embodiments of graceas if possessing them meant possessing grace (ex opera operata). That is at odds with all of Old Testament history. For many wicked
12Ibid., pp.127 and 128.
13 We have quoted Vos here on specific claims. Still, this is not a work of historical theology, and we have not done two things required in a more exact presentation. First, we have not done justice to the many nuances of Vos's view. And second, we have not compared these nuances with our own and those of Cleaver. However, we would claim that the sections of Vos's Biblical Theology quoted support the main thrust of our argument against those with whom we dispute.
But believers had vital covenant union with God. And for them, the blessings of the land were blessings of that vital union. Thus, they communed with God in all these blessings.
However, those with whom we dispute distinguish two levels in the Mosaic economy (or covenant). The first is the covenant of graceby which righteous Israel had union with God. The second is the meritorious typological levelwhere we find the blessings of the land. According to them, these two levels cannot be confused.
If this is the case, the blessings of the land cannot be vital blessings of union with God. That is, righteous Israel did not participate in God through the blessings (because these were on an absolutely separate level14). As a result, the blessings of the land were not real eschatological intrusions for anyone.
We hope to show that the blessings of the land were the blessings of union with God. And they were the blessings of vital union with God for the righteous. Thus, while we can distinguish these blessings from the final reality, we cannot separate them from itthe final reality of life in God himself.
Deuteronomy 7 and 8, Psalm 67 and 2 Kings 13:22 and 23 indicate these points.
Deuteronomy teaches that God gave Israel blessings through her sanctified obedience. But chapter eight shows that God still considered these blessings to be gifts of his grace. Therefore, Israel did not earn these blessings by
Deuteronomy 7:12 says, "Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which he swore to your forefathers."
Verse 13 continues, "And he will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock in the land which he swore to your forefathers to give you."
In these verses, God tells Israel how she will maintain the blessings of the landand how she will increase in them. It expresses the conditional promises of the Mosaic covenantsimilar to Leviticus 18:5 ("the man who does these things will live by them"). Here it is "because you listen to these judgments" (v. 12). This is a faithful rendering of the Hebrew word akev and can be translated "as a consequence of." It is clearly a conditional promise.
But does this mean it is meritorious? The text leads us away from this conclusion. It teaches us that these blessings result from the Abrahamic promise. It is "because you keep" that "God will keep with youHis covenant . . . which he swore to your forefathers."
The blessings that follow result from the covenant sworn to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They come from the covenant of graceeven when they are given to Israel because of her obedience. God is simply mediating these gracious blessings to Israel through her obedience. Thus, even her obedience functions within the covenant of grace.
This is again emphasized by two other factors: (1) the repetition of the oath sworn to the forefathers at the end of verse 13, and (2) the use of the Hebrew word hesed in verse 12.
First, God repeats his oath to the patriarchs in verse 13. The words "which he swore to your forefathers" (to describe the land) are not incidental. They emphasize the gracious nature of the blessings.
Clearly, God's redemptive grace is the source of Israel's blessings in the land. God himself emphasizes this. In the same context where he mentions the Mosaic covenant's conditions and blessings, he underscores their gracious nature. They result from the hesed of the Abrahamic covenant.
The theocratic blessings flow from the Abrahamic covenant. They flow from God's redemptive love. But the blessings enumerated are those of the Mosaic covenant. Thus, the theocratic blessings of the Mosaic covenant flow from the Abrahamic covenant. This can be seen in the following way: If the people keep the conditional promises of the Mosaic covenant they will find themselves recipients of the unconditional promises of that covenant. These unconditional promises flow from the unconditional promises of the Abrahamic covenant. Thus, all theocratic blessings ultimately come from the Abrahamic covenant.
Further, the blessings promised to Abraham were eschatological in nature. That is, God promised Abraham that he would be heir of the world (Rom. 4:13). The blessing promised to Abraham (Gal. 3:14) was the eschatological gift of the Spirit. This was his true inheritance (Gal. 3:18). Therefore, he looked ahead to the eschatological city whose maker and builder is God (Heb. 11:8-10).
Again, the theocratic blessings in the land flow from God's "keeping" his covenant with Abraham. Therefore, these blessings must be a foretaste of eschatological blessings. That is, the blessings promised in the Abrahamic covenant were eschatological in nature. Later theocratic blessings arose from these promises. Therefore, they must have been an intrusion of eschatological blessings.
Through redemptive history God comes closer and closer to his
people. He progressively unveils his heavenly presence to them. And he does
this harmoniously (i.e., organically). Thus the earlier Abrahamic covenant
The Abrahamic covenant unfolds into the Mosaic covenant (administering partially mixed eschatology), which, in turn, unfolds into the New Covenant (which administers semi-eschatological blessings). In this way, the New Covenant is the final unfolding of the Abrahamic covenant.
These conclusions cannot follow unless the Mosaic covenant was a redemptive covenant of grace in Christ. It also lends further support to our previous claim, that the blessings of the law were not based on strict merit. And it strengthens the point we are making here, that these blessings are not simply temporal blessings. All three covenants administer God's eschatological presence redemptively. Therefore, they administer eternal salvation. This is the thread that runs through them all.
The fact that the central blessing promised is God's lovingkindness underscores that this is a covenant bond with God himself. It was a sweet bond. In it God possessed Israel with his lovingkindness when he gave them the blessings of the land. Thus, in possessing the blessings of the land, Israel possessed God's lovingkindnessyea God himself. What a sweet foretaste of eschatological life.
God was present in the land. And it was natural that God's love would mean blessing for his people in the arena of his presence. Thus, they received blessings in the land as a foretaste of future eschatological blessings. In these blessings they possess the eschatological love of Christ before the time. Yeah, in such blessings they receive Christ himself. Truly, the theocracy speaks of him."
Cleaver: "Very interesting, but I still think that Deuteronomy 7 and 8 speak of different things. Deuteronomy 8 is about God's grace in delivering Israel in the exodus, but Deuteronomy 7 is about Israel's later merit in the land."
Smith: "Even with the emphasis on hesed in Deuteronomy 7?"
Cleaver: "Well . . ."
Cleaver: "Go ahead."
Smith reads: "The connection between Deuteronomy 7 and 8 supports what we've seen in chapter 7. For there God says, "he will multiply you" (7:13) in his hesed (7:12). Deuteronomy 8:13 repeats the word "multiply." Lest when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied (8:12-13).
These two passages unite the two chapters together. They are both speaking of Israel's later blessings in the land. The word "multiply" emphasizes this. For multiply does not simply designate God initially giving Israel the land. It also points to God later giving Israel blessings in greater or lesser degrees (multiplication), and that through her obedience.
And in chapter 8, God says that the same grace involved in the exodus is at work in these blessings in the land.
"Lest you say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth. But you shall remember Jehovah your God, for it is he that gives you power to get wealth; that he may establish his covenant which he swore unto your fathers, as at this day" (Deut. 8:17-18).
The flow of thought in chapter 8 clearly connects the blessings in the land (mediated through Israel's obedience) to the mercy of the exodus. In chapter 8, we find that the blessings of the land arise from God's covenant mercies to the fathers just as they do in chapter 7.
Thus, Israel's obediencethrough which these blessings are mediated to hercannot be meritorious. They arise from the grace of Christ to come. This is clearly indicated in these passageseven if the new covenant progresses beyond Deuteronomy 7 and 8 (relatively speaking)."
Cleaver: "On first glance, you may seem to be right about Deuteronomy 7 and 8. But I believe that Scripture interprets Scripture. And from the rest of the Old Testament you certainly don't get the impression you're giving to this text."
Cleaver: "No, which Psalm is that?"
Smith, handing Cleaver a Bible: "Perhaps you'd like to look it up."
Smith and Cleaver look up the Psalm and read it together.
Cleaver: "Interesting, but how does this support your point?"
Smith: "To answer that, do you mind if I just continue to read my paper?"
Cleaver: "No, that's fine. Go right ahead."
Smith reads: "Psalm 67 highlights God's mercy and salvation as the source of his blessing (v. 1), even the blessing of Israel's increase in the land (vv. 6 and 7 in the English translation). The structure of the Psalm connects them.
This language most likely alludes to various passages, including Leviticus 26:4 and 20. In Leviticus 26:3-4 we read: "If you walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; then I will give your rains in their season, and the land will yield its increase, and the trees of the field will yield their fruit."
This speaks of the conditional nature of the Mosaic covenant. It points out its unique legal administration. But Psalm 67 indicates that God's mercy is the ultimate source of this legal administration (and its blessings).
That's how Psalm 67 can have an eschatological referent in the center (v. 4 framed by similar language in vv. 3 and 5). It is precisely because these blessings (in the land) arise from God's mercy (v. 1) that they can make God's name known throughout the earth (v. 2). It is precisely because these blessings arise from God's mercy that they can point to the final eschatological blessings in Christ. Because they arise from mercy they anticipate final eschatological blessings. As such, they transport the Psalmist into the eschatological futureto call upon all the nations to praise him (vv. 3 and 5).
The Psalmist anticipates God's future eschatological mercy in his merciful blessings to Israel. That is how he sees its eschatological fulfillment in Christ.
If Israel earned these blessings by her merit, they would not anticipate future blessings in Christ that arise from mercy.
If Israel earned her blessings by merit, there is no eschatological vector in the Psalms or in any portion of the Old Testament.
But the Psalmist knows otherwise."
Cleaver: "Perhaps, but maybe that's just talking about Israel's return from captivity and not her later blessings in the land. For surely, Israel's retention of the land was by her merit."
Smith: "But how can you say that after we've looked at Deuteronomy 7? Isn't Deuteronomy 7 clearly speaking about Israel's continual blessings in the land? And that multiplication is by God's hesed. If Psalm 67 refers to God's mercy in increasing Israel's blessing, why should that be restricted to her return from exile? Isn't it more likely that it reflects on all the increase God gives Israelincluding that of Leviticus 26:4?"
Smith: "Haven't we seen from Deuteronomy 8 that the Old Testament doesn't make an absolute distinction between God's mercy in the exodus and his continual blessing of his people? In fact, it makes the mercy of the exodus the proof that Israel's continual blessings arise from his grace."
Smith: "So, if the Psalmist reflects on return from exile, would not the mercy of that exodus argue that Israel's continual increase is by God's mercy too?"
Smith: "Certainly there's a difference. But it's not an absolute difference. Israel's obedience isn't meritorious."
Cleaver: "You've made some good arguments Smith. But somehow, it still seems to me that Israel earned blessings in the land by her own merit, even if God gave her the land by grace."
Smith: "Cleaver, tell me what you think of the following passage. (It's the next one in my paper.)
'And Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. But Jehovah was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet.' That's 2 Kings 13:22-23."
Cleaver: "Well . . ."
Smith: "Isn't it clear that God ultimately keeps Israel in the land because of his covenant mercies to the fathersnot because of their own merits?"
Cleaver: "It's been interesting Smith, but I think I need to get home and take a hot shower."
Smith: "Of course."
Cleaver: "Then maybe sit by the fire and read the Bible for a while."
Smith: "The Psalms perhaps."
Cleaver, getting up: "Thanks for having me over."
Smith, escorting Cleaver to the door: "Any time Cleaver. You know that, any time."
Testament: A Review1
In this hefty tome, we have what may be Kitchen's magnum opus (at least for students of the Bible). Projected for years, I recall his lament when I first corresponded with him in 1975it is "badly held up, and likely to remain so at present." Praise God, it has happened. Here is a tour de force to knock the liberal-critical socks off the enemies of history, the enemies of facticity, the enemies of biblical credibility, the enemies of orthodoxy. Tragically, but predictably (given the blinders they wear), they will dismiss it as 'rot,' even as Kitchen himself has quipped vis-à-vis the title. In fact, the rot arises from the pipe dreams and hallucinations of the mainline historical-critical fraternity of the past 200 years. Minimalist, Deuteronomist, Documentary hypothesist, reductionist, anti-supernaturalist: they are all purveyors and spewers of rot. And they have all met their well-deserved match in Professor Kitchen.
Would that Kitchen had not sullied this magnificent apology for the historically reliable biblical record with the late date for the Exodus (i.e., 1300 B.C.), instead of the biblically authenticated 1447/46 B.C. (per 1 Kgs. 6:1). Sadly, this defect skews Kitchen's presentation of the Mosaic era and its sequel, the period of the Judges. But our author is back on track with the United Monarchy and thence happily, with no deviations, to the post-Exilic era.
We put down this volume even more convinced of the historicity of the events of the Old Testament and are thereby confirmed once more in our faith in the inerrancy of the inspired Word of God. One measure of serious attention to these issues of historicity and credibility (let alone infallibility) of the biblical record in contemporary evangelical and Reformed institutions (seminaries, colleges, Bible schools, seminar groups, learned associations and societies) will be whether Kitchen's book becomes required reading. If evangelical and Reformed students, pastors and Old Testament professors are truly serious about the text of the Old Testament and its historicity, this volume will be mandatory. If they are not, Kitchen will be mere window dressing as filler on syllabi and bibliographical lists. Let us hope that the community Kitchen aims to serve with this magnificent volume does not respond in kind with the inevitable response of his liberal detractorsthe book is ROT.
Kitchen inaugurates his investigation of the Old Testament in
parallel with extant outside sources in the era of Israel's kingsspecifically the
era from David to Zedekiah (1010 to 586 B.C.), including the tragic division
of the united kingdom on the death of King Solomon (931 B.C.). Foreign
kings listed in the biblical record are reviewed for extra-biblical clues from
Shishak of Egypt to Evil-Merodach of Babylon. Then Kitchen reviews the mention
of Hebrew kings outside the Bible from Omri to Zedekiah. Using
Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian and local sources (i.e., clay seals, bullae, etc.), he
Kitchen moves on to the Babylonian Exile and Return (ca. 600-400 B.C.) with the same resultsthe biblical record is credible and the biblical writers are reliable (65-79). And this measured against the extant Babylonian and Persian records.
Kitchen now returns to a detailed examination of the data for Saul,
David and Solomon (81-158). He discusses the famous 1993/1995 Tel Dan
inscriptionfirst extra-biblical record of the name "David"
(Byt-Dwd="house of David," 92). He notes the exact parallel with Bit-Khumri
(Byt-'mry="house of Omri"), an inscription not in dispute. He then draws on his extensive
Egyptian knowledge to identify the pharaoh of the Gezer gift (1 Kgs. 9:16)
and Solomon's father-in-law (1 Kgs. 3:1) as Siamun (979/78-960/59
B.C.)(108). In the process, he vindicates the historicity of Kings and Chronicles:
"the assumption that . . . the Chronicler would crassly contradict Kings is
naïve and simplistic, and implies a lowbrow level of stupidity that we have no
warrant to ascribe to that writer" (114). In a passing review of the visit of
the Queen of Sheba, he notes that she is "pre-Deuteronomic" (i.e., well
before 621 B.C., the critical-fundamentalist date for the first publication of the
book of Deuteronomy). Why does Kitchen use the Arabian queen to puncture
this tired liberal canard? "After 690 [B.C.], never again do we find any
Arabian queen playing any active roll whatsoever in history" (117). And as for
the liberal-critical objection to Solomon as the author of Proverbs, Kitchen
cites no less than forty surviving texts of ANE wisdom coterminous with his
10th century B.C. era in history (134ff.). Oh, but we must remember, these
myth-making liberal scions of the academic establishment (T.L. Thompson,
I should alert the reader at this point that Kitchen's detailed examination (and refutation) of historical-critical theories and conclusions is tedious work. It is not always exciting (and it is quite often technical, cf. the voluminous footnotes), but it is essential to unmasking the fabrications and fantasies of the higher critical mind. My only regret is that he does not explore the philosophical underpinnings of the historical-critical mythmakersbut alas we can't have everything from this polymath. Nevertheless, critical theories evolve from critical worldviews, i.e., philosophy. Uncover the philosophy at the base and one understands even better the unbelieving nonsense of the superstructure.
Retreating towards the third millennium B.C., Kitchen considers the evidence for Israel's presence in Canaan prior to 1209 B.C. This is the unimpeachable statement of the Merenptah Stela (159). But this reviewer must humbly suggest that with respect to the era of the Judges, Kitchen departs from his own principle of verificationinternal biblical dates. That is, our author condenses the 300 years of the Judges (internal data from the years the Judges judged [Jdg. 11:26] plusmore importantlyActs 13:18-20) to "almost 170 years" (1210-1042 B.C.). Politely, we say "fantasy!"
Kitchen's proposal for Joshua's conquest of the Promised Land is very helpful. He argues for a 'blitzkrieg' model in which Gilgal serves as a base of operation. Rapidly penetrating the center of Palestine at Jericho and Ai ('divide and conquer' before Julius Caesar), this remarkable strategist fans out to the north and to the south. Complete occupation and settlement came later following these knockout blows to Canaanite centers of strength (161ff.). Kitchen thus sidesteps the historical-critical allegation that Joshua did not completely conquer Palestine. Settlement (full occupation) occurred during the period of the Judges (174).
On page 217, Kitchen sallies forth against the Deuteronomistic myth that dominates the Old Testament academic guild. This issue needs to be of concern to our readers since the historical-critical (=liberal) approach is beginning to seep into allegedly orthodox or more conservative evangelical and Reformed seminaries, denominations and churches. The higher critical nose of the camel is already inside the tent. The so-called Deuteronomistic Theology is one of its insidious test cases. Kitchen uses his expertise in Egyptology to observe: if the pattern DPCD (disobedience, punishment, contrition, deliverance) common to the era of the Judges is an invention of the 7th century B.C. (Josianic Reform of 621 B.C.), which the higher-critical fraternity has maintained as gospel since the days of her high priest, Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918), then we must date the Egyptian documents of the 13th century B.C. to the 7th century B.C. as wellfor they demonstrate a precisely duplicate DPCD paradigm (217ff.). The absurdity of this postulation in the latter case (absolutely no doubt about the provenance of the Egyptian materials) makes the Deuteronomistic theory absurd. But the blind follow the blind, like lemmings trekking to the cliffs, in full defiance of the concrete data from the era itself (2nd millennium B.C.) that acts as a control upon the hypothesis. It reminds me of the old adage: "don't bother me with the facts." Or, as Kitchen notes, the Deuteronomistic theories "are not fact, merely dogma" (234).
This volume is sprinkled with fascinating insights into the text of
Scripture. For example, our author provides documented evidence of catalepsis
in snakes. This phenomenon is important to the understanding of Ex.
7:8-12 where Moses confronts the wizards of Egypt. Cataleptic states may be
induced in snakes (cobras, etc.) so as to make them appear as rigid as
sticks. That the Egyptian magicians were just thatmagicians,
not miracle workersis patent when the genuine miracle worker's snake-stick devours
their mere (rigidified) snakes (249). At the same time (with all due appreciation
for his background illumination), Kitchen's treatment of nine of the ten
Kitchen provides a superb review of the debate over first and second millennium B.C. covenant documents. Reprising and expanding work previously published in his two books (Ancient Orient and Old Testament; The Bible in its World),2 he vindicates the Mosaic milieu for the Sinaitic covenant. The case is made primarily from ANE treaties (more than 80 of which have been recovered over the range of the 3rd to the 1st millennium B.C.), especially those with the marks of the 2nd millennium upon them (particularly relevant to demonstrating the Mosaic provenance of Exodus and Deuteronomy). Only treaties from this era have prologues and benedictions and maledictions (291). No 1st millennium B.C. treaties have these elements. This point is essential to obviate the higher critical (Deuteronomistic) reconstruction of the Mosaic covenant, i.e., it originates in the 7th century B.C. and is projected backwards into the hoary past of Israel's beginnings. Kitchen describes the entrenched un-historical view of these mythologists as follows: "this whole development [ANE treaty comparisons] was not acceptable to the 'old guard' in biblical studies, for whom a nineteenth-century belief in a late 'law' (sixth/fifth centuries), after the prophets, and 621 as the definitive date of Deuteronomy were absolute dogmas to be fanatically defended, even at the cost of the facts to their contrary" (290). In this remark, Kitchen details the critical-fundamentalist creed that Moses was invented after the prophetsthe law is a late development in Old Testament religion, succeeding the prophets
Kitchen is nothing short of brilliant in picking apart the Deuteronomistic hoax piece by piece (299-307). He contends that it is an ideologya presupposition manufactured as a sacred cowthe golden calf of higher-critical fundamentalism. "It has also become axiomatic in some quarters that whatever the Deuteronomists wrote is theological fiction, not history" (300). And Wellhausen, Briggs, Cheyne, von Rad, Noth, Thompson, Van Seters and a host of others echo "Amen!" Kitchen's review should give any honest scholar pause. In fact, we may hope that every honest scholar would be compelled by Kitchen's argumentation to repent and believe the record of the Word of God. Would to God that it would be so!
On a passing note (297), Kitchen provides a poignant reflection on the etymology of the name "Moses" (Ex. 2:10). He dismisses an Egyptian original opting for Hebrew Mashu ("one drawn out") > Moshe ("'he who draws out,' i.e., his people from slavery, when he led them forth"). Kitchen thus gives a prophetic-revelatory nuance to the naming of Moses that reinforces the inspired insight of Heb. 11:25-26.
Continuing with his march towards the beginning of the Bible,
Kitchen next advances to the patriarchal era that is regarded as wholly mythical
by critical fundies. Kitchen intends "to test the degree of reality/fantasy, and
to note any date indicators" (315). His review (noting the
toledoth markers in the book of Genesis) demonstrates, from contemporary 2nd and 3rd
millennium B.C. records, the credibility of the events recorded in Genesis
11-50. With illustrations drawn from military campaigns, covenants/treaties,
marriage laws and king lists, he succeeds in puncturing the "wildly
excessive skepticism" of the mythological patriarchs club. En passant, he levels the
Noteworthy is Kitchen's devastating refutation of the higher critical myth that monotheism was a late development in Old Testament religion, dependent on the Babylonian Exile. This dogma of the critical fundamentalist establishment is anchored in the evolutionary theory of the history of religions, i.e., hoary animism yields to polytheism (many gods) yields to henotheism (one out of many gods) and finally reaches monotheism (one god only) as primitive man advances ever upward (?ascent of man) through successive phases of developmentally religious enlightenment from the 3rd to the 1st millennium B.C. Applied to Hebrew religious development, enlightened Jews became illuminated when exposed to the Babylonian pantheon and (mirable dictu!) pure Jewish monotheism sprang forth, but only after 586 B.C., not before. This philosophical, evolutionary, even dialectical methodology flies in the face of the facts amassed from the primary records of the eras in question. A profusion of data on monotheism from the 2nd millennium B.C. forward is presented by our author. Thus, it is not incredible that the patriarchs and their successors worshipped but one God only.
Related to the evolutionary reconstruction of Old Testament religion is the reduction of the patriarchs to a miragea mirage of the Hebrew monarchy. This tenet of higher critical methodology suggests that the patriarchs are actually symbolic foils for religio-cultural events of the Hebrew monarchical period. For instance, according to this higher critical fundamentalism, the garden of Eden is actually a projection of Josiah's Deuteronomic reform back into the mystical realm of origins. And the serpent in the garden becomes the foil of the false prophets whom Josiah purged from the land. Eve then becomes the symbol of the Baal cult priestesses (or sacred whores). Such wholesale reconstruction must be labeled ideology, not biblical theology.
Kitchen now turns his attention to the Hebrew prophets. He decimates the Deutero-Isaiah standard of Old Testament critics by noting that "pseudo-Isaiah" who allegedly writes from Babylon in the 6th/5th century B.C. (not Isaiah's 8th century B.C. provenance), demonstrates "no first-hand knowledge of the metropolis of Babylon" (379). Surely this is strange in a person raised by the waters of Babylon, not the walls of Hezekiah's Jerusalem. Here I must register a slight demur. Kitchen is a bit too dismissive of conservatives who maintain that Cyrus (Is. 44:28; 45:1) is named, in advance, by supernatural revelation. In fact, a slightly troubling aspect of this massive book is Kitchen's penchant for pushing the revelatory aspect of Scripture into the background, while advancing the historical or contemporary documentary aspect to the foreground. Surely a sound methodology would credit both illustrative background and the Bible's claim (which it makes more than 4000 times) to be the Word of God. As in so much of sound biblical reflection, the truth lies in a both/and approach, not an either/or approach.
We also have a salient analysis of pseudonymity in Old Testament prophecy. According to our author, such a prophet (e.g., second Isaiah who borrowsbetter, steals!Isaiah's name to enhance his acceptance) would be no prophet at all, merely a "deceiver" who claims the prophetic mantle by relaying prophecies after they have come to pass. All who are currently being mesmerized by theories of biblical pseudonymityespecially in evangelical circlesshould memorize this section (389-90). It is a sober slap up side the head of reality, not (pseudonymous) fiction.
Kitchen next reviews the attempts to prove that biblical creation and flood narratives were borrowed from Babylonian and other ANE models (422ff.). This standard liberal view has been subjected to careful deconstruction by Alexander Heidel and A.R. Millard (among others). The disjunctions between the biblical and extra-biblical narratives are numerous and insurmountable to the case for dependence. Withal, the parallels in mega-structure are suggestive of a uniform historical bedrock: creationfloodscattering of the nations is common to biblical and extra-biblical narratives.
Before concluding this review, let me register my disappointment with the publishers in one aspect of the format of this volume. Kenneth A. Kitchen is a world-class scholar with superb academic credentials. Can anyone believe that Oxford University Press or Cambridge or Blackwell or Brill would have allowed this volume to issue from the press with hand-drawn or hand-traced maps and illustrations (603-42)? Undoubtedly many of these are from Kitchen himselfand they look like the work of an artistic amateur (stick to Egyptology and biblical history, Kenand leave drawing to a 21st century Leonardo da Vinci). This is bush league in a major scholarly tome (the type-face of which is beautiful) that deserved world-class maps, illustrations and drawings. The back of the book, once one skips the deplorable drawings, contains useful subject and Scripture indexes (643-62).
"[O]ne can only shake one's head in sorrow over the sad history of
Old Testament scholarship in the last two hundred years" (497). But why are
we surprised? In this post-Enlightenment, post-modern age when 'science' is
ideology, when nations (Germany, Italy, Russia, China, Vietnam, Iraq) have
been tyrannized by ideology, when 'might makes right'why should we be
surprised that the gurus of the academy ignore facts, twist and contrive hard
data and otherwise pervert the Word of God? Does Kitchen naively believe
that they think, write, lecture, fulminate, and pontificate without
presuppositions? That they do not bring a philosophical agenda to the table
before they look at the text, the facts, the archaeological record, the world? They have been
taught since Immanuel Kant that the world is what they make itso why not
the world of religion, especially the Old Testament and the New Testament?
If ultimate truth is in me and my reconstruction, then I force the biblical text
In the meantime, we have Kitchen to thank for providing a path in the morass for the true believer. We praise God for his "job well done!"
This volume should be required reading in every evangelical and Reformed seminary in the world. It is a 'Bible' of common sense, hard scientific data (not fantasies) and fidelity, in the main, to the inspired Word of God. If it is not on your seminary reading list, ask for a tuition refund (and transfer to Northwest Theological Seminary where we will require that you read it in order to be educated, not programmed). For we regard Kitchen's On the Reliability of the Old Testament not as ROT, but as a Rich Omnibus of Truth.
[K:JNWTS 20/2 (Sep 2005) 58-62]
Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson, eds., Hell Under Fire. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004. 256 pages. Cloth. ISBN: 0-310-24041-7. $19.99.
This is a book that deserves noticeespecially since Hell is no longer noticed in many evangelical circles save as an epithetic swearword. In a culture immersed in denial, we are not surprised. More's the pity that leading evangelical and even Reformed spokesmen have joined the parade to root Hell out of the cosmos. In the avant-garde evangelical and Reformed salons of our day, Hell has been vanquished, banished to nothingness, dismissed as a whim of a less compassionate, less enlightened era of Christianity. These anti-Hell elites have been evangelized by no less than the most famous annihilationist apologistEdward Fudge (a lawyer who has served as an elder and Sunday School teacher at the Bering Drive Church of Christ, Houston, Texas). It was Fudge's broadside, The Fire that Consumes (with an endorsement by no less an evangelical paragon than F.F. Bruce"it gives me pleasure to commend Mr. Fudge's exposition of this subject"), which caused all Hell to be extinguished. The once-upon-a-time orthodox Clark Pinnock commented: "I know of no book which answers [Fudge]." Pinnock continued by noting that the doctrine of eternal torment is "outrageous""a God who would do such a thing is more nearly like Satan than God."
All of which goes to prove that the 'orthodox' are predictablethey
will become unorthodox as they rise to fame and fortune! Now, fawning
evangelical and Reformed progressives rejoice that Fudge annihilated Hell and
Avoiding the embarrassing observation as to whether or not any of this hellish revisionism comports with the Word of God, methinks I smell the rat of utopian and elysian dreams from time immemorial. Only now, progressive evangelical and Reformed personalities have bought the mess of pottage. We are certain to be informed that the "latest scientific" findings have discovered an "outmoded" holdover from a less advanced period of man's scintillating progress toward nirvana. (One wonders how progressives succeed with this canard in view of the barbarity of the 'enlightened' 20th century and even our own short centuryto date filled with, dare I say, hellish images of fire and smoke and horror!?) Our revisionist Bible-scholars cadre will trot out "fresh" exegetical studies that shed "new light" on the words of Jesus and the New Testament writers. These words will be found to mean the very opposite of what dictionaries and lexicons have said they have meant for centuries. "Hell" will be discovered to mean "Heaven"an annihilationist's paradise. And "eternal" will no longer mean "without end"; it will now be found to mean "a different quality"thus "eternal life" does not mean life without end, rather it means life with a different quality (no doubt in a one-world, utopian socialism akin to Stalin's Potemkin villages; one wonders what the inhabitants of the Soviet hell, i.e., the Gulag, would say about that bit of redefinitionWalter Duranty trumped by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn). And our revisionist historians will note that "Hell" was a holdover from pagan cultures that made its way into the interpretation of the Bible. (Here we will have to remember to split a very fine hairdevilish problem that!between whether the Bible contains the pagan notions or whether the Bible has been interpreted in concert with the pagan notions.) Somehow, so we will be told, horrid paganism seeped into Christianity.
But we must identify this new fraternity of progressive evangelical and Reformed theologians. These are big names in the pantheon and big players in the broad evangelical and Reformed game. There is the late Philip E. Hughes of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. And there is John W. Stott, the Urbana phenom. And there is Clark Pinnock, the near-sighted Socinian. And Basil Atkinson and John Wenham and Michael Green and Earle Ellis and Nigel Turner and Robert Brow and David Powys and Stephen Travis. These are all movers and shakers in the current 'feel good' climate of evangelicalism. Their inroads are already being felt, especially in 'young evangelical' circles. Check out the belief in Hell at the leading evangelical colleges and seminaries; James Davison Hunter saw it fading more than 18 years ago (Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation, pp. 33-40). What must the inevitable downward spiral reflect now!? The trickle down will begin to show up inevitably in avant-garde circles amongst even the most conservative and Reformed bodies. Watch for it! Hell is disappearing not only from consciousness of the pulpiteers of our day, but also from the consciousness of the pew in our day. How the Prince of Hell must love it. Screwtape Redux!!
The editors of the above volume have assembled a team of scholars to reaffirm the traditional Biblical doctrine of Hell's eternal punishments. Most of the essays are clearly written, well documented and amply unveil the crucial issues. Some are throw aways (Ferguson); others are inconsequential (Block). Moehler's historical survey is helpful. Morgan's research is superb. Edward Fudge remains the major obstacleyet our authors fail to budge Fudgeat least, not sufficiently to dent his case or his broad evangelical and Reformed appeal. Our book provides some flack, but no annihilation of the contemporary supreme annihilationist.
Which raises the questionwho can vanquish Fudge? May I suggest Jonathan Edwards? Morgan does trot out Edwards, but not in his full-bodied, devastating manner. It is the antithesis that most miss in Edwardsthat is, the eternal opposites of a sweet Heaven and a horrid Hell. As the nature of God is so sweetly anchored in his love, hatred or indifference (which is hellish in
James T. Dennison, Jr.
[K:JNWTS 20/2 (Sep 2005) 62-66]
Eleonore Stump and Norman Kretzmann, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Augustine. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 307 pp. Paper. ISBN: 0-521-65985-X. $22.99.
The "Cambridge Companion to" series is providing useful overviews
of the thought of major Christian thinkers in the history of the church (as well
as many other philosophers and literary persons). This volume on
Augustine features a series of essays on the North African father in an attempt to
articulate his thought to a 21st century audience. James J. O'Donnell leads the
We find a very different tone in John Rist's piece on "Faith and Reason" in Augustine (26-39). "Augustine normally holds that in this life we can know a certain amount about God by reason alone, but not enough for happiness and salvation" (26). Students of the Westminster Standards will recognize a kindred spirit in this view of Augustine and chapter one of the Confession of Faith.
The article on evil and original sin (40-48) repeats the standard litany of Augustine's struggles on these points. It was the emptiness of Manichaeism that precipitated this issue: evil is mere privation (i.e., the absence of good); original sin arises from the Devil's own iniquity or superbia ("pride") which Augustine explains as the "love of one's own excellence" and "a desire for perverse elevation," both of which reduce God Almighty to second placesecond to Self! Tragically, an abundance of this is abroad in contemporary evangelical and Reformed circlesespecially leadership circles.
Augustine's view on the divine inspiration and authority of Scripture borders on dictationthe Holy Spirit writes the words of the Bible through the human author (cf. Confessions 12.14.17). But we miss comments in this essay on Augustine's salient and trenchant hermeneutical interaction with Tyconius.
Macdonald's chapter on the divine nature is nebulous and not very useful. On the other hand, Mary Clark's on the Trinity is very good (91-102). In developing and confirming Western (and some Eastern) Trinitarian thought, Augustine affirms the divine unity in trinity with circumincessio and perichoresis of the divine persons. Clark notes the non-Platonic nature of Augustine's doctrine, which should give pause to suggestions that Augustine was a Christian Platonist. The service Augustine performs is not any new, creative articulation of the Trinity; rather he provides a firm standardization of the vocabulary in the discussion: ousia (Greek) = essentia (Latin); homoousios (Greek) = consubstantialis (Latin); hypostasis (Greek) = persona (Latin). And Augustine provides an intriguing reflection on triune personality as it relates to human personality in imago Dei.
Roland Teske provides a choice quotation on "Augustine's Theory of Soul" (116-23): "If we should define a human being such that a human being is a rational substance consisting of soul and body, there is no doubt that a human body has a soul which is not the body and has a body which is not the soul" (De Trinitate 15.7.11). This should give pause to the "no distinct soul" fraternity in current Christian circles. With respect to the vexed question of the creationist or traducianist view of the origin of the soul, Teske notes Augustine's agnosticism.
Gerald O'Daly (159-70) suggests Augustine anticipates Descartes on the impossibility of non-existence in a sentient=cognitive being. Gareth Matthews repeats this observation (269-70). That is to say, cogitatio means ergo sum for Augustine as for Descartes. O'Daly continues by observing Augustine's corollary endorsement of the law of contradiction together with "the evidence or testimony that commands assent" (164). These three prongs establish a form of foundationalism or classic synthesis of reason and faith.
Matthews's article notes the influence of Augustine's linguistic theory which dominated theology into the 17th century. Words, according to Augustine, function as signs and significations (cf. especially 191ff.). Even the Reformers talked like this.
Bonnie Kent on "Augustine's Ethics" (the longest essay in the volume) tells us Augustine believed that ethics is "the enjoyment of God" (205). Here is yet another anticipation of the Westminster Standardscf. Shorter Catechism, Question and Answer one. The moralists of Augustine's day were the Stoics for whom virtue was its own reward. In contemporary amoral society, ethics is whatever fits the pleasure of the performer. God, let alone virtue per se, is passé. The almighty Me-principle is god!
The book concludes with two chapters on "Augustine and Medieval Philosophy" (253-66) and "Post-medieval Augustinianism" (267-79). These are useful if superficial treatments of Augustine's impact down to Wittgenstein. There is an extensive bibliography (280-96) and a brief index (297-307).
With a few exceptions, these chapters must not be read in isolation
from reading Augustine himself in order to correct the bias of the authors, as
well as giving the great 4th-5th century Christian a more balanced reading
James T. Dennison, Jr.
[K:JNWTS 20/2 (Sep 2005) 66-67]
Henry Bullinger, The Decades of Henry Bullinger. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2004. 432 pages (v. 1), 602 pages (v. 2). Cloth. ISBN: 1-8927777-38-X. $65.00.
This reprint of the Parker Society edition (1849-52) of Bullinger's major work is a welcome addition to the current availability of the 16th century Reformed corpus in the vernacular. Bullinger's impact on the English-speaking world was immense in the 16th century, as this edition demonstrates. The Parker Society project was a 19th century attempt to release the materials bearing on the English Reformation of the 16th century. Bullinger's Decades contained two sections dedicated to young King Edward VI (1537-1553). Latin editions were circulating with Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley and the 'proto'-Puritans by 1551. The first English translation appeared at the height of the Elizabethan era (1587).
In his role as successor to Ulrich/Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531) at Zurich, Bullinger (1504-1575) dedicated himself to preserving and extending the Zwinglian Reformed Reformation. His efforts to move the theological consensus of Switzerland beyond the magisterial Reformation to national confessions (i.e., his contribution to the First Helvetic Confession  and his authorship of the Second Helvetic Confession , not to mention his Orthodoxa Tigurinae ecclesiae ministrorum Confessio ) resulted in the Consensus Tigurinus, produced jointly with Calvin in 1549.
The Decades are often regarded as sermons. While that may be true of
a few, the whole is more likely a literary product articulated for the
weekly "prophesyings" in Zurich. As Peter Opitz has pointed out in preparation of
his definitive, critical edition of the
Decades: "in their final written form,
the sermons appear to be literary fiction rather than a printed version of
The formal outline of the Decades is predictable for this era of the 16th century Reformation: Ten Commandments, Apostles' Creed, Lord's Prayer, Baptism and Lord's Supper. Opitz suggests that Bullinger attempts to follow the order of "salvation history," i.e., Pentateuch to Prophets to Gospels (ibid., 106). The result is an obvious Christocentric orientation which uses the Scriptures, the church fathers and the Reformers for supportcertainly a commendable method for those who still long for the elusive consensus in Reformed theology.
James T. Dennison, Jr.
[K:JNWTS 20/2 (Sep 2005) 67-69]
Mark Goodacre and Nicholas Perrin, eds. Questioning Q: A Multidimensional Critique. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2004. 201 pages. Paper. ISBN: 0-8308-2769-2. $19.00
The mystic which Q holds over the liberal academy is now beginning to manifest itself in conservative evangelical and Reformed circles. The irony of this seduction to higher critical methodology anchored in synthesis not antithesis is a testimony to the poor state of academic exposure ad fontes ("at the sources") in these circles. Evangelicals are ever the Johhny-come-latelies, now aspiring to the recognition of the establishment guild which has held a tyrannical lock on New Testament source criticism for over 125 years (since H.J. Holtzmann, 1832-1910). Not even the late William Farmer, who crusaded against "mythical Q" from the 1960s, could dislodge this academic and 'scholarly' pap.
Goodacre and Perrin to the rescueor attempted rescue. This is a
technical and difficult book, but it is nevertheless a very important book. Here
are young specialists in New Testament source criticism who are not afraid to
say "the emperor has no clothes"i.e., the theory of Q is an academic
But there is one essay which every evangelical and Reformed pastor and seminary student should read because it is a tour de force of the philosophy behind the evolution of Quelle theorie ("Q Theory"). The "Introduction: Reasons for Questioning Q" by Nicholas Perrin (pages 1-12) is a miniature masterpiece in summarizing the elements which spawned the Q chimera. First, Q emerged from German romanticism (19th century)an era of rhapsodic deification/divinization of volksreligion ("folk religion") as the most pure, most natural of mankind's eternal longings. Stripping away the post-primitive religion of the hierophants, sycophants and other modern 'agenda' mongers would bring us back to 'pure religion and undefiled'. Second, in the same romantic vein, Jesus of Nazareth was regarded as the siren geniusa great, if not the greatest, "teacher of timeless truths". Aha! The Jesus without dogma emerged with the face of a 19th century German romantic.
As these disparate strands were formulated in the Schleiermacher
(the quintessential German romantic) and post-Schleiermacher era, one thing
was lackingan organizer of the romantic myth into a cohesive
reconstruction (??a romance) of the Synoptic gospels. H.J. Holtzmann was the man called
to the liberal critical vanguard for such a reductionism as
this.1 To the nascent romanticism of his time, Holtzmann added a dash of imperious German
idealism (Hegel) and projected a gospel behind the gospelsa 'sayings of
Jesus' source which he labeled L (for 'Logia'). Holtzmann's L recreated Jesus, via
his 'words', in the image of 19th century neo-Kantians. (The reader is
beginning to realize that philosophy and culture dominate this
theorizingnot truth or the Bible. In other words, the emergence of Q [Holtzmann's L renamed]
is culturally conditioned, contextually generated and peculiarly 19th century
in ethos.) Neat! Jesus becomes just like post-Enlightenment 19th century
liberals. This bit of snake oil was sucked up by the academic dupes of the age
as the 'assured results of the scientific investigation' of the origin of the
But Peerin concludes: ". . . theories like Q, spun in the loom of modernity, should be held up to the light of one of the more useful insights of postmodernity, namely, that cultural conditions can impose themselves heavily on scholarly methods and conclusions" (8). "What makes this swelling fascination with Q particularly unsettling is the fact that Q has never been found. We have no manuscript of Q, no attestation in the early Church Fathers or elsewhere that such a text ever existed. We have no hard evidence at all for Q" (9-10). Touché!
James T. Dennison, Jr.
[K:JNWTS 20/2 (Sep 2005) 69-72]
David E. Aune, The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and Rhetoric. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003. 595 pp. Hardback. ISBN: 0-664-21917-9. $49.95.
Recently, New Testament scholarship (following a tradition in the Early Church and Reformation) has given more careful attention to rhetorical conventions. Aune's dictionary seeks to provide the reader with the necessary background to embark on the rhetorical (and literary) study of the New Testamentand in many ways it succeeds (at least on the rhetorical side of things).
Aune's entries on rhetorical terms are helpful. For instance, his sections on Exordium and Digressio are detailed and insightful. He also includes briefer entries on Narratio, Peroration, Proomium, and Prolepsis. However, he does not have sections on Probatio, Confirmatio, Transitus, or Strophe. Some of the less obvious terms among these (such as Probatio) might be helpful in subsequent editions, especially since some New Testament scholars use these
On the rhetorical triadEthos, Pathos, and LogosAune provides an extensive discussion of the first two. He also has a significant entry on enthymemes, which are the rhetorical form of logical syllogisms (in which one premise of the syllogism is assumed rather than stated). Page 153 presents an interesting chart of "Enthymemic Content." Further entries include the Diatribe (as an oral-literary style) and Chreia.
Aune deals with each of the New Testament epistles, noting some of their rhetorical conventions and suggested rhetorical structures. What is especially helpful about this volume is Aune's reference to the work of other scholars. In discussing a certain point (the use of rhetorical conventions by an author, suggested rhetorical structures for a letter, or literary techniques represented in a gospel), he continually refers to the views of other New Testament scholars. Sometimes this becomes a mini discussion in the history of New Testament scholarship (see for instance his discussion of Parables, pp. 332-333). Thus, one acquires a venue into modern New Testament scholarshipwith references to more extensive work on a topic.
Of course, this work is also titled a dictionary of New Testament
literature. And while rhetorical conventions function within literature, they do
not comprise its totality. So Aune also has entries on Literature, Literary
Criticism, Narrative Criticism, Narrative Asides, Novels (Greco-Roman
novels), and Prose Rhythm (which may be used in Acts). He also includes
discussions of Chiasm (along with Ring Composition), Inclusio, Intercalation, Irony,
and other literary techniques. He has discussions of Character and Plot, but
these are too brief to be very helpful. (Still, he at least distinguishes between
flat and round charactersrepeated again on Mark, p. 293). In his sections on
the gospels and Acts, he discusses their literary techniques, noting views of
various New Testament scholars, and giving examples from the text. On
The selections on New Testament books and letters provide mini-introductions to each of them. But Aune's material on their authorship, sources, composition, and literary context is decidedly higher critical (with rare exceptions, see comments on the Messianic secret in Mark, p. 293), and must be handled with care. Also, even where his rhetorical and literary material is helpful, he rarely provides useful theological insights to his readers. Still, the rhetorical and literary insights of this volume can get you thinking about these yourself. And his references (within the entries) can refer you to more extensive work (fully referenced in an extensive bibliography at the end of the book).
Aune's higher critical preoccupations are further disclosed in entries on Early Christian Literature. Thus, he includes entries on "Q" (Sayings Source)extensive for this work, the Gospels of Thomas and Peter (with an entry on the Apocryphal Gospels), on the Acts of Paul, Peter, Phillip, Thecla, and Thomas, and on the Apocalypses of Paul, Peter, and Adam. Further entries include the Pseudepigrapha NT & OT, The Testament of Levi, and Second and Third Baruch.
And there are entries on works from the early church such as the Shepherd of Hermes, The Letters of Ignatius, First and Second Clement, The Letter of Barnabus, and Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians. Aune's discussion of rhetorical conventions in First Clement and the Asianism of the letters of Ignatius reveals the influence of rhetoric on writers of the early church. Again, the New Testament is not far removed from them in its use of literary conventions.
New Testament writers used rhetorical conventions extensively. If we
are to understand the dramatic redemptive-historical message of the New
Testament, we would do well to study rhetorical conventions. God the Son (who
is the paradigm of all human speechand finally of all useful rhetorical
and literary techniques) was made flesh. And he used these rhetorical and
literary conventions to bring his word home to the Churchto bring himself to
Scott F. Sanborn