Divorce & Remarriage: Reading in light of covenant theology (Part 1)

divorce5In response to the readers’ questions, I wrote a series of comments dealing with how we should read the Bible’s passages regarding divorce and remarriage in light of the covenant theology we covered in last year’s series on “How to Study the Bible.”

That is, we must not assume that Jesus repealed the Torah and enacted a new law. Rather, in the Gospels, Jesus is interpreting Torah — not under the new covenant but as it should have been interpreted then and there.

In 1 Cor 7, Paul takes the teachings of Jesus and applies them in the Christian context — but Paul is also not making new law. Rather, he taking the principles found in Jesus’ words and applying them in a world where some people aren’t children of God and some are, where one spouse is and one spouse isn’t, etc.

The rules don’t change. Rather, different covenants present different circumstances for applying the same principles. Continue reading

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From the Comments: Aren’t the Scriptures All-Sufficient?

HolySpirit7Jeff R asked,

It’s the one’s that believe that this indwelling is personal and DIRECT, meaning that the Spirit directly influences them apart from God’s word that I have a problem with. They in effect are denying that the word of God is all sufficient. The Bible teaches us that it is. Why do people like this idea of a direct operation of the Spirit for mankind today?

Jeff argued from,

(2 Tim. 3:16-4:1 ESV)  16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  

Continue reading

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Divorce & Remarriage: 1 Cor 7:10-11

divorce5Christopher writes,

One thing you have failed to do in your responses, Jay, is explain how 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 squares with your theology.

Here are two earlier posts on that subject: here and here.

(1 Cor. 7:10-11 ESV)  10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband  11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. 

These offer a much more thorough explanation than I’ll offer here, but because I’m sure other readers have had the same question — here’s the short version: Continue reading

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From the Comments: Is direct operation of the Spirit essential? Part 2

HolySpirit7As is so often the case, the OT sheds light on the NT.

As we covered in a series of posts last year called “The Salvation of the Jews,” we concluded that the Jews, just like the Christians, are saved by the terms of God’s covenant with Abraham. They were saved by faith just as we’re saved by faith. (I’m not going to repeat the argument here in the comments.)

But in the OT, the Spirit was only given to prophets, judges, kings, and a few artisans. Most people did not receive the Spirit. Was the Spirit essential to the Jews’ salvation? Well … what’s the story? Continue reading

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Robbie Seay Band: “Baptize Me in the River”


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Canyon City: “Flicker”

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From the Comments: Is direct operation of the Spirit essential? Part 1

HolySpirit7Jeff R asked,

Do you believe in the Calvinist doctrine, that it takes a direct operation of the Spirit to influence the heart of an alien sinner? I believe that it’s the word preached that influences that heart, causes it to be pricked. It’s the human heart that must decide if it will believe the message given and obey.

I do not believe in Calvinist double predestination. I’m an Arminian. Ish. Not exactly Arminian, but close enough.

Why then must there be a direct operation of the Spirit to keep the Christian faithful?

Why must there be a “must” in your question? Why must something be essential to be true? Why do you assume a black and white world? Continue reading

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Homosexuality: Arguments Opposed, Part 4

gay christianWe are thinking through additional counter-arguments to those in favor of gay marriage proposed by Richard Beck in his blog.

How can it be loving for God to prohibit homosexuals from engaging in homosexual sex?

Well, the reasons given in the scriptures are largely theological and often quite profound, but the question is never, to my knowledge, answered in this way — with one exception. Listen carefully to what Paul is saying in Romans 1 —

 (Rom 1:18-20 ESV) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

First point: Even when God has not revealed his will through special revelation, such as the Law of Moses, the Creation itself reveals enough about God to make certain things very clear — clear enough that even those who’ve never heard of God or his Law can be fairly held accountable for their sins (as Paul explains further in Rom 5). Continue reading

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Songs Without Notes: A Meandering History of Hymnals and Vocal Music, with Rant — Part 5


In many Churches of Christ, the kinds with “worship leaders” rather than “song leaders,” we’ve rejected hymnals altogether, replacing them with projection of the lyrics on a screen (actually, a very good idea) backed by a waterfall scene.

For a while, we projected the notes with the lyrics — but this is becoming unfashionable on the theory that visitors will not know how to read notes and will feel intimidated. Besides, Willow Creek doesn’t project the notes. And they’re big.

As a result, we’re now back to where the church was before the Protestant Reformation, with songs that are often unsingable by the church members, no hymnals, and no notes (all in the name of making our music more accessible to visitors).

Of course, this theory reflects a rather low opinion of the musical gifts of our visitors (we’re just a little too full of ourselves on this point) and surrenders one of the biggest advantages we have because of our Church of Christ heritage: we sing beautiful four-part harmonies. Why do we want to throw this away? Continue reading

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Homosexuality: Arguments Opposed, Part 3

gay christianWe are thinking through additional counter-arguments to those in favor of gay marriage proposed by Richard Beck in his blog.

In yesterday’s post, I pointed out that we are given two biblical templates for life in the image of God — heterosexual marriage and celibate singleness. Both are declared to be in the image of God — and nothing else is.

Why? Well, perhaps this will help our understanding —

This metaphysics of sex, however, only finds explicit statement once in the Bible: “for love is fierce as death, passion is mighty as Sheol, its darts are darts of fire, a blazing flame. Vast floods cannot quench love, nor rivers drown it” (Song of Songs 8:6–7). Otherwise, there is no explicit reflection on the meaning of sexuality nor its place in the cosmic order.

The reason for this absence may be monotheism itself. There is no sexuality in the divine sphere. God, usually envisioned as male in gender, is not phallic; God does not represent male virility, and is never imaged below the waist.

The prophets use a powerful marital metaphor for the relationship between God, the “husband,” and Israel, the “wife,” but the relationship is not described in erotic language. God neither models nor grants sexual potency or attraction. Continue reading

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