Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Angel of the Covenant

As I noted in the previous post, John the Baptist sends messengers to Jesus, asking him if he is "the coming One," and Jesus sends a message back to John listing his credentials as "the coming One." Then Jesus turns to the crowds who are following him now and he appeals to the prophecy of Malachi 3 & 4 to explain why John's ministry was important for them to discern now that they have decided to leave John and follow him. But Jesus' reference of Malachi 3 & 4 is actually alluding to something more what ordinarily meets the eye. Jesus didn't merely want his disciples to know that John is the "Elijah" mentioned in Malachi 4; nor did he merely want them to know who would visit Israel before the Lord does, as mentioned in Malachi 3. Referencing Malachi 3:1, Jesus tells them explicitly: 
[John] is he of whom it is written, "Behold! I send my messenger (angel) before your face, who will prepare your way before you!"
But Malachi 3:1 actually doesn't say that. Malachi 3:1 says this:
Behold! I send my messenger (angel), and he will prepare the way before Me.
But there is more. If we were to look at the Greek text which underlies these passages of Scripture, the words of Jesus are much closer to the words of Yahweh in Exodus 23:20,1 than they are to Malachi 3. In Exodus 23:20, Yahweh says:
Behold, I send an angel (messenger) before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.

But what does Exodus 23 have to do with Jesus' words about John the Baptist? Many evangelical commentators don't realize this, but Malachi's prophecy is a clear allusion to the promise of conquest mentioned in Exodus 23. Notice the parallels between the two promises of God. Malachi prophesied to the people of Israel, saying:
And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold!, He is coming, says Yahweh of armies! But who can endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. ...Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts. For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts. Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb [Sinai] for all Israel.2
In parallel with this, notice carefully what Yahweh spoke to the people of Israel at Mount Sinai, immediately before Israel ratified their covenant with Yahweh:
Behold, I send an angel (messenger) before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.
When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out,  you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces.  You shall serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. …You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.  
[Then] Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.3

The message of utter destruction upon Yahweh's enemies in the Promised Land is consistent with both prophecies, only the difference between them is that in Exodus 23-24, Yahweh's "angel" (or messenger) of the covenant is going to come and purge the promised land of God's enemies who inhabit the land: the Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, the evildoers, adulterers, and oppressors  who don't fear the Lord; whereas in Malachi's prophecy, the angel of the covenant is going to come and purge the promised land of Scribes, Pharisees, and other Israelites who are just as evil, idolatrous, and oppressive as the Canaanites, Jebusites, and Hivites. 

According to Jesus, John the Baptist was the angel of God who would prepare Israel's way before them. John was the messenger of God who would prepare a highway for Jesus' own arrival in the midst of Israel. Now that Israel's Lord had arrived in their midst, the people of Israel are left with a choice: Do they follow the rulers of Israel and their traditions, while rejecting Jesus and his credentials as the Messiah, or do they follow Jesus and reject the rulers of Israel along with their traditions? Jesus was the lawful King of Israel and the angel of the covenant sent from Yahweh of armies into the midst of the land to conquer and purge out it's idolatrous worship, thereby giving the people true rest. 

But how would Israel respond? 

Jesus explains to the crowds around him how some had responded, saying, "To what shall I compare this generation?" (Matt. 11:16). For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they accused him of having a devil. Jesus comes eating and drinking and the Pharisees accused him of being a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of unclean tax collectors and sinners (11:19). The children of that generation piped a happy tune to them, but neither John nor Jesus danced. And so they played a mournful song instead, but neither John nor Jesus mourned (11:17). Why not? Jesus gives them the answer: All the prophets until John prophesied about the Kingdom of heaven and it's coming-King (11:13), yet many Israelites didn't have ears to hear or eyes to see his credentials. At least, many rulers of Israel didn't see it. The Pharisees were certainly not convinced by Jesus' deeds.

John, at least, heard about the "deeds of the Messiah" and sent a message to Jesus, confirming his faith in the coming-One (11:1-2). And we can imagine that the message which Jesus sent back to him about his miraculous deeds was sufficient to strengthen John's faith (11:4-6). From this we learn that Jesus' closing words were more relevant to his audience than ever: Wisdom is indeed justified by her deeds (11:19). 

1.  See the parallels in Greek below:
Matthew 11:10 -- Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you. δού, γ ποστέλλω τν γγελόν μου πρ προσώπου σου, ς κατασκευάσει τν δόν σου μπροσθέν σου

Exodus 23:20 -- Behold, I send my messenger before your face, that he may keep you in the way, that he may bring you into the land which I have prepared for you. δο, γ ποστέλλω τν γγελόν μου πρ προσώπου σου να φυλάξ σε ν τ δ, πως εσαγάγ σε ες τν γν ν τοίμασά σοι
Malachi 3:1 -- Behold, I send my messenger, and he will observe the way before my face. δο, ξαποστέλλω τν γγελόν μου, κα πιβλέψεται δν πρ προσώπου μου
2.  Malachi 3:1-2, 5, 4:1-4
3.  Exodus 23:20-33; 24:3-8

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Who is greater than John the Baptist? (Matt. 11:1-19)

In chapter 11 the theme of wilderness wandering comes to an end and the theme of Israel's rest in the land along with the subsequent rise of their promised King begins. But because I have already commented in an earlier post about how this theme of wilderness wandering begins and ends with Jesus' response to John the Baptist, I will move on to discuss the following statements within chapter 11 which concern the relationship between John and Jesus. 

Matthew 11:7-15 says:

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold! Those who wear soft clothing are in king's houses! What then did you go out to see? A Prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written,
"Behold! I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you."
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
When John came baptizing in the wilderness, every Jew around the region of Judea understood that he was a true prophet of Yahweh. His ministry and message was very influential among the Jews. Even Josephus, the Jewish historian and contemporary of Jesus' apostles, comments about the great influence of John the Baptist in his day. Commenting on a war between Aretas, the king of Arabia, and Herod the Tetrarch, and how Aretas’ armies destroyed the forces of Herod, Josephus writes:
Now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptizer; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness toward one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that washing would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it
…Now, when many others came to crowd about him, for they were greatly moved by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it in to his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself in to difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God’s displeasure against him.1
When Jesus asks rhetorically, "What did you go out to see?", he knows that many among the crowds who are following him once followed John "the Baptizer" also. Jesus also knows that they didn't go out into the wilderness to see something ordinary and weak, like a reed shaken by the wind; nor did they go out to see an ordinary ruler dressed in expensive "soft" fabrics. They went out into the wilderness to see something unique and rare in first century Israel. They went out to see a prophet of the Lord. But Jesus reminds those who have ears to hear that John was much more than a prophet. He was an angel. And as an angel, John was commissioned to prepare the way for the great procession of Israel's King. John was he of whom it is written,
"Behold! I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you."
This "messenger" is angelos in Greek. It's the word from which we translate the word "angel" in English. Angel means messenger though. Sometimes it refers to an angelic creature, but most often in the Scriptures the word simply refers to a messenger. Even the word "gospel" is derived from this word, meaning the "good message" or "good news" (evangellion in Greek). In this case, John is the "messenger" referred to in Malachai 3 and the destined-one whom Jesus confirmed as "Elijah to come." Malachai 3:1-5 says,
Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.  But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
According to Malachi's own prophesy to Israel, Yahweh promises a "messenger" who would prepare the way for Him (Yahweh). And then, immediately after this, we find out that the Lord, whom the people of Israel are seeking, is promised to "suddenly come to his temple" after this messenger arrives. The Lord who comes to his temple is then given a descriptive title. The Lord is described as "the messenger of the covenant in whom you (the people of Israel) delight." This, according to Jesus' own enigmatic words, is the direction in which Jesus was aiming his rhetorical questions about John. Jesus knows that among his own crowd there are many Israelites who once followed John. And those who stopped following John and started following Jesus are doing so for a very good reason. They know John was a prophet of the Lord. But Jesus declares that he is actually more than a prophet. He is the messenger of almighty God who would prepare Israel to meet their Lord, the messenger of the covenant.

Jesus confirmed this when he said, "For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

This reference to Elijah also comes from Malachi. Malachai 4:1-6 says:
For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.  But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.  And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.  And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.
What we learn from Malachi's prophecy is that a Prophet like Elijah (i.e. John the baptizer) would be sent by Yahweh to “turn the hearts” of Israel (i.e. call them to repentance) before “the awesome day of the Lord comes…[to] strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” And the Lord himself is that angel of the covenant who “will suddenly come to his temple” and “strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” This is consistent with the themes of soon-coming judgment upon the land of Israel and its temple which we have already learned from Jesus elsewhere in Matthew's gospel (here, here, here, here, here, and here). John was a messenger of God's good news for the people of Israel. He was a messenger sent from God to turn the hearts of Israel back to Yahweh, away from Herod's idolatrous temple, it's illegitimate priesthood, and it's Christless Judaism, and towards the face of Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus meant when he said, "Among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

Jesus did not mean that Christians in the 21st century would be greater prophets than John. Nor did he mean to infer that no human being in history  had greater dignity than John the Baptist. Some scholars have suggested instead that Jesus was referring to John's spiritual understanding, and that those who are least in the kingdom of heaven were promised to have greater spiritual intimacy with Christ through the pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit, which John never experienced because of his death prior to that event. But I think that's an embarrassing exegesis of the text itself because that's not even remotely alluded to in the text itself. 

Jesus says explicitly that John is the messenger whom Yahweh had prepared for the revelation of the Lord and his coming in judgment upon the idolatrous land of Israel. And so, when Jesus said that "the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he," he was referring to those Jewish disciples in his day who were following him and heralding his good news. They would be greater than John the Baptist. They would be greater messengers than John before the Lord suddenly comes to his temple, striking the land with a decree of utter destruction. Their message would have a greater impact upon the people of Israel than John the Baptist. 

How do we know this is the case? How do we know that Jesus is referring to Jews in his own generation? Because in the same paragraph, Jesus says that the "kingdom of heaven" had already begun with John. Jesus said: "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence..." (present tense). The kingdom of heaven began with Yahweh's messenger, John, who was born within the same year as Jesus.2 Jesus was referring to Christian Jews who were messengers of his gospel, living in the kingdom of heaven within that generation, while awaiting the coming of the Son of Man in 70 A.D.

We now know, as a matter of historical fact and consistent biblical exegesis, that Jesus did come in 70 A.D. to judge Israel, end the old covenant age, and restore the godly people of Israel as he promised; and all those faithful, spirit-filled Jews who followed their Messiah, Jesus, were much greater messengers of the gospel than John ever could have achieved in his lifetime. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

1.  Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18.5.2
2.  Mary and Elizabeth were pregnant at the same time. See Luke 1:39-45

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Trinity in John's Gospel

Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John's GospelFather, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John's Gospel by Andreas J. Kostenberger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a superb book. It is very well organized and easy to read. The apostle John loaded his gospel with helpful literary insights and allusions to the unity and plurality of God, which would have been familiar to first century Jews and proselytes to Judaism. This book helps draw out all of those literary insights and allusions. There are also a good number of important translational insights. And to top it all off, there is an entire section devoted to the theology of evangelism & mission derived from John's gospel.

View all my reviews

Jakob Van Bruggen on Paul

Paul: Pioneer for Israel's MessiahPaul: Pioneer for Israel's Messiah by Jakob Van Bruggen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After reading his other two theological books by P&R publishing I thought this one would be as helpful. It actually showed me how nit-picky and arbitrary his opinions can actually be at times, overriding some valuable insights endorsed among other scholars. The greatest disappointment was his chronology of Paul's life and letters, which affects the majority of his insights. Even though there were a handful of interesting insights, it was only a handful -- which was very disappointing for a 400 page book.

View all my reviews

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Future Men

A young man ought to follow the pattern of biblical courtship. But words by themselves protect nothing, and nowhere is this more evident than with words like courtship. Calling something by the right name is no protection. Living before God with a right heart is our only protection. Unless wisdom governs, words are like proverbs in the mouth of a fool--like the legs of a crippled man (Prov. 26:7). So it doesn't matter if it is called courtship, biblical courtship, or covenantal dating. What matters is more intangible. Unless wisdom governs, as I am fond of saying, courtship means that six idiots are involved instead of two. In dealing with mysteries, wisdom is essential, and a set of wooden rules is useless. 
 ...A young man who wants a wife needs to remember certain key principles as he approaches the whole matter. What are some of the essential principles? The first is that attitude is first. In the arrogance of youth, one of the things which potential suitors demand is "a checklist" so that they can be in control of the process. But an attitude of wise submission shows deference and humility to those in authority. 
 Secondly, maturity matters. The conservative Christian world is generally consistent in creating "marriage nerds." In the secular realm, "worldly wisdom" is certainly immoral, but is far more cautious about the responsibilities of marriage than Christians are. As a general rule--not in every instance--but as a general rule, marrying before adult maturity is very foolish. 
 Third is the principle that young men have to know their limitations. Like a twelve-year-old boy who believes he can compete in a basketball game with grown men, many young men think they have a high view of marriage when they only have a high view of themselves. But one of the most essential characteristics of a husband is one of the most difficult combinations for men to achieve--confident humility. This is very hard to find in young men, and in our midst, it is not yet abundant. 
 A fourth principle is that of preparation: if you were going to live in a foreign country, would you prepare? If you were going to become an astronaut, would you prepare? If you were going to become a concert pianist, would you prepare? And so how do your sons prepare for the mystery of marriage?
 ...In all this, parents of daughters must be prepared to exercise a judicious authority. Parents of sons must be prepared to give godly and restraining advice. ...We live in a fallen world in which God works redemptively. This means that nothing can be assumed to be in submission to God. But it can be assumed to be in submission to Him or not. It must be one or the other. Consequently, we must consider all things as a blessing, or as a curse, depending upon its relationship to the Word of God.1

1.  Douglas Wilson, Future Men [Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2001], pp. 145-148

Better to marry than to burn

Christians often interpret Paul's statement in I Cor. 7:9 (i.e. "it's better to marry than to burn") as though, as a general rule, it's better to get married hastily than to be consumed with sexual passion. But as Gordon Fee points out,1 Paul does not say (as the ESV & NIV translate it), "if they cannot exercise self control, it's better to marry than to burn with passion." Rather, in the Greek, Paul says, "if they are not exercising self control (i.e. practicing continence), it's better to marry than to burn with passion."

In context, Paul is referring to those people in Corinth who are doing the same sorts of things as some of the married couples in verses 1-7 are tempted to do, i.e. indulging in sexual immorality.

And as Fee also points out, the formation of clubs which associated with and indulged in cultic prostitution is but one example of a very common sin throughout Corinthian culture, and Paul alludes to that association two other times in this first epistle to the Corinthians. The antidote for such deeply rooted  sinful practices, Paul says, is marriage. Fee notes carefully: 
In this case, then, Paul is not so much offering marriage as the remedy for sexual desire of 'enflamed youth,' which is the most common way of viewing the text, but as the proper alternative for those who are already consumed by that desire and are sinning.

Leon Morris's comments are in complete agreement with Fee. Commenting on verse 9, he writes:
But this depends on their having the gift of continence. If God has not given them this gift, they should marry (a command, not a permission), for it is better to marry than to burn. NIV adds with passion, which yields a good sense and may well be right. But the verb could be understood of burning in Gehenna, and this is supported by the fact that there is no cannot in the original; the Greek means 'if they are not living continently.' Paul has recently said that the sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God (6:9-10).2

Archibald Robertson comments on the meaning conveyed by the active/middle voice of this verb which Paul uses here for "exercising self-control". He writes: 
What is meant by this failure to have power over themselves is partly explained by εγκρατευονται (present tense in both verbs). A prolonged and painful struggle seems to be intended, a condition quite fatal to spiritual peace and growth.3
Ben Witherington's comments on 1st century Corinthian culture also support Fee's observations. He writes: 
Because of work or because of arranged marriages, Romans frequently looked outside the home for pleasure and for much else that we would associate with home and family. ...A good deal of this background information comes into play in 1 Corinthians 7 because of the household setting of the ekklesia.4  
He concludes with these remarks: 
The repeated theme of sexual passion or misconduct and, in response, Paul's stress on self-control (cf. vv 2, 5, 9, 36, 37) probably tells us more about the problems in Corinth than about Paul's view of the purposes of marriage.5 

And finally, the comments of Charles Hodge are succinct concerning the importance of interpreting these statements within a first century Corinthian context. Commenting on verses 9 & 10, he writes:
If these verses and others of like import, are to be understood of men generally, and not of men in the peculiar circumstances of the early Christians, then it must be admitted that Paul depreciates marriage, and that he represents it as scarcely having any higher end than the sexual intercourse of brutes. This cannot be his meaning; not only because it is contrary to Scripture, but also because Paul elsewhere, Eph. 5:22-33, represents marriage as a most ennobling spiritual union. ...This must therefore be borne in mind in the interpretation of this whole chapter.6

1.  Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The First Epistle to the Corinthians [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987], p. 288-9
2.  Leon Morris, The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: I Corinthians [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1985], p. 105. Emphasis in bold is mine.
3.  Archibald Robertson, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians [Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1975], p. 139
4.  Ben Witherington III, Conflict & Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995], p.173
5.  Ibid., pp. 176
6.  Charles Hodge, A Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974 reprint], pp. 111-2. Italics mine.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Vaughn Ohlman, the "practical theonomist"

Vaughn Ohlman, the "practical theonomist" and reformed baptist who has written a couple self-published books which are popular among the formalistic, baptistic crowd of "reformed" Christianity, says that he holds to "the Grammatico-historical method of interpretation," and that he believes "every text of Scripture must be interpreted with an understanding of both the language that was used, and the context/culture/historical setting in which it was given."1 Immediately following that assertion, he declares that:
All Scriptures are sufficiently plain that there are no facts of history or linguistics which are so obscure, or lost in time, that Christians living today, with revelation of the Spirit and diligent searching of all of Scripture, cannot understand what God would say to them through that text.2

But here is where it gets interesting. He then goes out of his way to make clear that he rejects the "redemptive historical" interpretation of Scripture insofar as it rejects, as a methodology, examples within the historical narratives of Scripture to be considered normative for applying Christian ethics  today. This is what he must strictly adhere to in order for his books on "biblical" marriage (here and here) which reject dating and courting altogether, as well as his requirement of "headcoverings" for women (here) and absolute patriarchal authority (here) to seem convincing among "biblically" sensitive Christians today. Ohlman says he finds that aspect of redemptive-historical method which does not presume upon all historical examples of Scripture as being normative for Christians ethics, contradict our understanding of the issues raised in II Tim 3:16-17, the linguistic nature of many of the texts themselves, the way these texts are treated in the NT, and the way most commentators and preachers have treated those texts and examples throughout history.3

Ummm... the redemptive historical method contradicts the "linguistic nature of the texts themselves"? Is he serious? Can he be so narrow minded as to miss what is obvious from the text of Scripture itself? When a christian chooses not to presume that the various examples of behavior found throughout the historical narratives of Scripture are normative for Christian ethics in every generation, that is not at all the same thing as denying the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures (II Tim 3:16-17), nor does that lack of presumption inhibit the Scriptures in their entirety from being "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (II Tim 3:16). Ohlman is not simply mistaken in this regard. He is wrong as well.

Secondarily, the way in which these "texts are treated" by the New Testament  authors affirms and confirms the solid foundation of redemptive historical interpretation, and that the historical narratives per se cannot be interpreted as standing laws which are normative for Christians ethics in all generations, but must be interpreted in light of their own redemptive-historical context. For example, God clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins in the garden. And in Deuteronomy 22:11-12, God says, "You shall not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together." Should we therefore disregard the narrative of redemption or the historical context of those passages and conclude that Christians ought to clothe themselves with animal skins only, and to avoid wearing clothing which use plant fibers (as linen does, as apposed to wool which is made of animal hair). Should we also conclude that it is immoral for Christians to wear clothing made of synthetic fibers? After all, God clearly clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins, not polyester

Consider another example. The Law of God says: "You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself." Later on the New Covenant we find Jesus wearing tassels on his garments (Matt. 9:20; 14:36; Mark 5:25; Luke 8:43, 44). Should we therefore conclude that all Christians at all times wear tassels on their garments too? Vaughn Ohlman's hermeneutic necessarily accepts these historical examples as normative for Christian ethics today. But don't misunderstand my main point: Vaughn Ohlman may not accept it himself. How can that be? Well, that can only be if his hermeneutic is arbitrary at this point. And if it's arbitrary, it's inconsistent too.

Last of all, Ohlman asserts that his interpretation is "the way most commentators and preachers have treated those texts and examples throughout history." That is simply not true. But even more embarrassing is the fact that he doesn't mention any commentators or preachers, let alone "most" of them, who support this narrow-minded claim of his. All one would have to do is take a cursory glance through the Nicene and Ante-Nicene church fathers, and the popular protestant reformers like Calvin, Luther, Bullinger, Zwingle, Knox, Baxter, Bunyan, Henderson, Rutherford, Owen, Turretin, etc.. in order to realize how bogus this claim of Ohlman's is. Such claims of his are a mask to cover up his bogus scholarship. "Most" commentators and "preachers" throughout history did not treat the various and widespread historical narratives of Scripture as standing examples of law which are normative for Christian ethics at all times. Ohlman needs to step down from his hermeneutical high horse to see what reality is like.

Sadly, Ohlman recommends Greg Bahsnen's books on theonomy ("By This Standard," "Theonomy In Christian Ethics," and "No Other Standard") on his blog. I say sadly because Dr. Greg Bahnsen spends an exhaustive amount of time demonstrating that this aspect of redemptive-historical hermeneutics, which Ohlman rejects, is fundamental to a consistent theonomic interpretation of Christian ethics contained within the Bible, and that Ohlman's rejection of such historic principles are an embarrassment to the "theonomic" community.

2.  Ibid. 
3.  Ibid.