Thursday, December 26, 2013

Triquetra and Modalism

On the Tri-Circle (Triquetra)
This symbol is of Celtic origin. 

The triquetra is often found in Insular (Celtic) art, most notably metal work and in illuminated manuscripts like the Book of Kells. It is also found in similar artwork on Celtic crosses and slabs from the early Christian period. The fact that the triquetra rarely stood alone in medieval Celtic art has cast reasonable doubt on its use as a primary symbol of belief. In manuscripts it was used primarily as a space filler or ornament in much more complex compositions, and in knotwork panels it is a design motif integrated with other design elements. Celtic art lives on as both a living folk art tradition and through several revivals. This widely recognized knot has been used as a singular symbol for the past two centuries by Celtic Christians, and by Pagans and agnostics as a sign of special things and persons that are threefold.
Only since the 19th century has the triquetra found a place in Trinitarian theological symbols. However, it falls short of being a representation of the trinity. One should compare it to the three interlocking circles that does, in point of fact, represent the Trinity.
The triquetra is a circle that has been tri folded. 
When I teach about the omnipresence of God I say: God is a circle Whose center is everywhere and Whose circumference is nowhere.
Then, when I teach about the economy of deity, I tri-fold the circle to represent the Father, Word/Son, and Holy Spirit - notice that while the tips of the symbol are separate (demonstrating the distinction between the offices/manifestations/modes) they are all three the same circle; notice that at the center the Father, Word/Son, and Holy Spirit are all three the same individual. In this sense the One God arranges His deity into an economy to facilitate redemption. This configuration is not eternal. God has not always existed in the modes of Father, Word/Son, and Holy Spirit (these modes are necessary to redeem a fallen creation). Furthermore, when the restitution of all things is accomplished the economy of deity will unfold back into the Circle, Whose center is everywhere and Whose circumference is nowhere.
Trinitarians think the triquetra represents a Trinity; however, the triquetra does not adequately represent three separate and distinct persons - as does the three interlocking circles. This fact is an aid in their evangelization, however.  The triquetra brings the truth of the Godhead into sharp focus and is used by those Trinitarians who, in truth, are Modalist but are still using a Trinitarian vocabulary. As I pointed out above, it teaches Modalism much better than it teaches the Trinity.
It is correct that most today see the triquetra as a recent Trinitarian symbol; although it is very ancient in the Church. For example the triquetra was used by the Celtic christians in the early centuries of Christianity as a decorative Celtic knot. It is doubtful that the triquetra was used by the Celts to represent the Godhead because it is never seen standing alone. The Celts  may have used the term Trinity but were by-and-large Modalist. It must be pointed out that Sabellius, himself, used the word Trinity to describe his form of Modalism. The triquetra, however, has only been used to represent the Trinity for the last 200 years; which represents how the view of the Godhead is becoming more and more Modalistic among those who still consider themselves Trinitarians.. 
Some say it is a pagan symbol and should be rejected as having no Christian merit. Other persons would be just as adamant that the cross is evil because it was a symbol used in paganism before it became popular in Christianity. IMHO, a symbol can stand for anything one wants it to stand for. A symbol may represent different things to different groups: e.g. I may employ the rainbow as a covenant symbol, while the gays employ it as their symbol, and Jesse Jackson uses it in yet another way. There is nothing intrinsic in any particular symbol that makes it good or evil - it is the explanation that is put on it. A symbol only has valid meaning within the particular community that is using it.

That the Oneness think the triquetra represents a Trinity of persons only demonstrates how badly we need educated.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Clerical Dress

On Clerical Collar:


The origin of the clerical collar does not stem from the attire of Roman priests. Its genesis is of Protestant origin.
Bishop Jerry Hayes
In the time of the Reformation, many of the Reformed wanted to distance themselves from what was perceived as Roman clerical attire. ... What they began to do, beginning in the 17th century as far as I can tell, is to begin to wear a neck scarf, called a cravat, tied around the neck to resemble a yoke. Thus common dignified attire was worn by the pastor, supplementing it with this clerical cravat. This style can be seen in many of our famous Reformed divines, one of the more famous of whom being Charles Hodge.

Another objection that might be raised is whether or not this neck band or cravat, such as we see Charles Hodge wearing, was in any way distinctive clerical garb. Several 19th century sources reveal that these cravats were, in fact, considered distinctive clerical garb. The following quote is from a 19th century source called The Domestic Annals of Scotland, Volume 3:

Charles Hodge

In the austerity of feeling which reigned through the Presbyterian Church on its reestablishment there had been but little disposition to assume a clerical uniform or any peculiar pulpit vestments. It is reported that when the noble commissioner of one of the first General Assemblies was found fault with by the brethren for wearing a scarlet cloak he told them he thought it as indecent for them to appear in gray cloaks and cravats. When Mr. Calamy visited Scotland in 1709 he was surprised to find the clergy generally preaching in neckcloths and coloured cloaks. We find at the date here marginally noted that the synod of Dumfries was anxious to see a reform in these respects. The synod – so runs their record – “considering that it’s a thing very decent and suitable so it hath been the practice of ministers in this kirk formerly to wear black gowns in the pulpit and for ordinary to make use of bands do therefore by their act recommend it to all their brethren within their bounds to keep up that custome and to study gravitie in their apparel and every manner of way.”

Here we see several members of the 18th c. Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) having their hackles raised over some ostentatious clergymen wearing scarlet cloaks and cravats. Later they hold a Synod where they decide that they ought to wear black gowns and to make use of neck bands. This paragraph shows us two things: the wearing of cravats was considered to be distinctive clerical garb, and the synod of the kirk decided ultimately that modest use of neckbands was permitted. (There are many more such examples in 19th century sources which can easily be researched on Google Books. I invite the reader to see for himself.) Thus when we see all manner of 17th-19th century Reformed pastors sporting preaching tabs, neck bands, and cravats, we should interpret them to be intentionally sporting distinctive clerical garb. We should also gather that the author of these annals, one Robert Chambers, included this anecdote in his work in order to promote the modest use of bands and clerical garb in his day.

The last bit of history to cover regards the origin of the modern clerical collar. According to several sources, including one cited by the Banner of Truth website (no Romanizing group), the modern clerical collar was invented by a Presbyterian. In the mid 19th century heavily starched detachable collars were in great fashion. This can been seen up through the early part of the 20th century if one has watched any period television shows or movies. If we observe the collar worn by Charles Hodge we can see that at first these collars were not folded down as they are today, but left straight up.

Yet in the mid to late 19th century it became the fashion of the day to turn these collars down. You and I still wear a turned down collar. The origin of the modern clerical collar is simply then to turn or fold the collar down over the clerical cravat, leaving the white cloth exposed in the middle. According to the Glasgow Herald of December 6,1894, the folded down detachable clerical collar was invented by the Rev Dr Donald McLeod, a Presbyterian minister in the Church of Scotland. According to the book Clerical Dress and Insignia of the Roman Catholic Church, “the collar was nothing else than the shirt collar turned down over the cleric’s everyday common dress in compliance with a fashion that began toward the end of the sixteenth century. For when the laity began to turn down their collars, the clergy also took up the mode.”

Yet two questions arise: how did the clerical collar then fall out of use among Presbyterians and how did it come to be so associated with Roman Catholic priests? The answer is that up until the mid 20th century the prescribed dress for all Roman Catholic priests was the cassock, a full length clerical gown. Yet during the 20th century it became custom for Roman Catholic priests to wear a black suit with a black shirt and clerical collar, which collar they appropriated from Protestant use. Owing to the large number of Roman Catholic priests in some areas, and due to the fact that some sort of everyday clerical dress was mandated for all priests at all times when outside their living quarters, the clerical collar became to be associated more with the Roman Catholic Church than with the Protestant churches. It stands to reason that once again a desire to create distance between the Reformed and Roman Catholics and the increasing desire throughout the 20th century for ministers to dress in more informal ways has led to the fact that barely any Reformed pastor wears any distinctive clerical dress these days, though plenty of examples show that our eminent forbearers desired to do so.

It is an important part of a Christian minister's uniform. I can tell by the way many ask that they do not approve. Why is that. If they are of the opinion that it is Roman Catholic, they would be mistaken. In our day when Christianity is so put down, I find it a witness for Christ. When I am about town, so to speak, no one mistakes me for a used car salesman. In fact my appearance announces to all who see me that the Kingdom of God is open for business. According to Apostolic Orthodox custom I am expected to wear clergy apparel whenever outside my home. I do not always do that, however.

Although I do not have to defend my actions concerning clerical dress, the collar especially, I will say this: Clerical dress is not RCC. But, in the name of brotherly love I am happy to help educate the uneducated. Clerical dress is customary with the PAW (Pentecostal Assemblies of the World). Much of my Pentecostal life has been spent in and with that group. I adopted my dress from them. Those who associate the collar with the RCC are un-knowledgeable. Trust me, you are the only ones offended. It is respected by the world we are trying to reach with the gospel.

Here is a prediction: Just as we are beginning to see the term "Bishop" used among the Oneness Pentecostals where we never did before (except in the PAW), clergy garments such as the collar will be seen more and more over the next few decades.

As the Christian faith becomes more disliked and the more society attempts to push us into the shadows the more our ministers will force our visibility by their apparel. it is an "In Your Face" kind of evangelistic move.

Clergy apparel is a personal decision I made which I felt would be pleasing to God.  Today many (most) churches (not OP) are leaving the business suit. In time, say 100 years or so, the Op will still be wearing the black business suit to preach in and it will be just as much clergy apparel as the collar is today -- IMHO.


The prophet Elijah wore specific attire that made him recognizable by all who saw him, and the prophet John the Baptist dressed in the same exact way. Historians report that James the half brother of Christ and the Apostle John (if you accept the John of Ephesus as being the apostle) wore priests garments. And Jesus, Jesus did indeed wear the garments of a religious teacher. And, O, there is this: The NT church is the "Tabernacle of David" rebuild -- according to James. It was in the establishing of the OT tabernacle of David that religious garments were assigned to everyone who served in the house of God. So this is very biblical. Christianity is not something else apart from Judaism, it is Judaism in full bloom.

Sources
The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd Edition, 2003
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, 1996
The Presbyterian Encyclopedia, Alfred Nevin, 1880


The clerical collar has been present in the apostolic movement from the very first as this picture of Bishop David T. Schultz bears witness:



Bishop David T. Schultz 
(Pentecostal Assemblies of the World)
(1889 - 1972)




Sunday, November 3, 2013

Is It Peace, or Is It War?




By Mar David Ignatius, Abbot General of the Disciples of the Way (Apostolic)

Many of us were raised on the King James Version of the Bible. As a consequence our biblical memory work was done from that source. I still revere the KJV above all other translation, by and large. There are, however, places where the KJV has not given us the best understanding of the God breathed Scripture. One of those places is Luke 2:14.

We have quoted this passages most every Christmas season and asked ourselves, and our spiritual leaders, “Where is the ‘Peace on Earth’ promised that wondrous night?
Read the different translations of Luke 2:14 in the box below. View the Greek text and the literal translation; you will see that most of us have misunderstood the Angel’s message; perhaps because of pervasiveness of the King James Bible.

page1image8248
(Luke 2:14).
The angel announced "“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (NKJV)

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth, peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (NASB)

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”(NIV)

“Glory to God in the highest Heaven! Peace upon earth among men of goodwill!” (J B Phillips New Testament)

Greek Text:
doxa en upsistois theo kai epi ges eirene en anathropois udokias.
Lit. Glory in the highest to God, and on earth, peace among men of good will.

I have been lightly scolded by well meaning persons concerning my stated position on Islam. I have been told how I was manifesting a contradiction between my salutation of "Peace" and the spirit of antagonism which I display, on a regular bases, toward the Islamic religion.
My first response to that charge is: I am a man full of contradictions at times.
Then I would say: The angel's announcement of "Peace on earth" was not, as most suppose, to all men, but only to those who are men of goodwill toward their follow man. Then I would observe that Islam is a religion of hate and malace toward all; even itself. It is a world religion
that continues to sanction human slavery. A religion, that, once it has subdued all present opposition, turns on its own - even to the point of mutilating the bodies of its women and the enslaving of one half of its population (the females).

The world must understand there is no peace to be had with a religion that has as its goal to "break every cross" (and force, by the sword, the submission of all Christians to the Qur'an), until that religion surrenders its world view - which it cannot do as long as the Qur'an remains its standard for life.

This Christmas season, just as every other Christmas season before it - in recent decades, bombs will be tossed into churches all over the world and the mangled bodies of Christian men, women, and yes - their children, will once again give testimony to the world that Islam does not have "Goodwill toward its fellow man" if that fellow man is non-Muslim. Therefore the House of Islam is not promised "Peace” by the angles; nor can it receive the Christian blessing of "Peace to your house."

Let us not get it twisted. Concerning the "peace" of the Christian, Jesus taught: "And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!" Mt 10 12-13)

Trust me. I can love the sinner and hate the sin. I do love the Muslim, but hate (with a holy hatred) Islam as a culture and religion. When, I say “Peace," I mean the peace of Christ; not the peace of Islam that is conditional on submission to the Qur'an.

So, Peace to You, if you will receive the Peace of Christ: Christian, Muslim, or Pagan; but, War to the House of Islam. 




Thursday, October 10, 2013

Homoousia and the Creed of Nicaea


Homoousia and the Creed of Nicaea
(homoousion to parti)


Many think that by the time of the Council of Nicaea the Monarchian doctrine had all but vanished. What we are about to see will show that thought is far from the truth.
The Arian controversy had reached a fervor, something had to be done, or, it seemed all would be lost. The council was called to forge a document that all the bishops could sign stating an orthodoxy for the Church. Two things were apparent, the orthodox meant to forge a document that would deliver the death blow once and for all to the Arians (followers of Arius). And secondly, the Arian bishops fully intended to remain in fellowship, although they had neither the numbers nor the influence to force an Arian document, they meant to force a creed that was ambiguous enough that they, too, could sign.
According to J. N. D. Kelly, “... it is in the fourth characteristic phrase of the creed, the words “of one substance with the Father, homousion to patri, that the full weight of the Orthodox reply to Arianism was concentrated.” This word “homoousios” asserted the full deity of the Christ. This word implied that the Son shared the very being or essence of the Father. It was a strong word, to be sure; a word with which most were uncomfortable, but by it’s use “subordinationism” was defeated. The word “homoousios” caused most of the bishops concern because it had been, for generations, the watchword of the Modalist Monarchians. That this word was identified as Monarchian is seen from the account of the two Dionysii, a full sixty years before Nicaea. J. N. D. Kelly gives us the account:
“...current interpretation of “homoousios” was provided by the affair of the two Dionysii in the sixties of the third century. Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria, it will be recalled, had been put to much trouble by an outbreak of Sabellianism (Modalist Monarchianism) in the Libyan Pentapolis. When he took forceful measures to eradicate it, the leaders of the ... group made formal complaint to the Roman pontiff, alleging among other things that the bishop of Alexandria declined to say that the Son was “homoousios with God.” There is little doubt that the Sabellians stood for that ancient and, in popular circles, at any rate, widely established brand of Monarchianism which regarded Jesus Christ as the earthly manifestation of the divine Being. To them the Origenist approach, with its distinction of the three hypostases and its tendency to subordinate the Son, was anathema. When they appealed to “homoousios” as their watchword, they meant by it that the being or substance of the Son was identical with that of the Father. The way in which they invoked “homoousios” in their complaint to the Pope is thus highly significant. It suggests, first, that it was already becoming in certain circles a technical term to describe the relation of the Father and the Son, and, secondly, that they expected it would be recognized and approved at Rome.” 
Kelly goes on to say that Pope Dionysius writes to condemn the views reported to him, and that his reply took a markedly Monarchian line.
Along with this event of the two Dionysii, there is Paul of Samosata. In AD 268 Paul of Samosata was condemned by the synod at Antioch on the strength of this very word. Paul invoked ‘homoousios” as his explanation of the oneness of the Father and the Son. For this very word he was condemned. Now, the word that is so identifiable with Monarchianism is being employed in the creed to protect orthodoxy from Arianism.
According to J. N. D. Kelly only a “handful” of the bishops wholeheartedly welcomed the language of the creed (mostly because it was a non-biblical word). These consisted of St. Alexander of Alexandria, St. Eustathius of Antioch, Marcellus of Ancyra, Osias of Cordova and a few others. These bishops welcomed the language of the creed because of the identity of substance between the Father and Son which it entailed. It is more than meaningful to me that these bishops mentioned were, themselves, Monarchians. This is a great testimony to the Monarchian influence upon the Creed of Nicaea.
The Monarchian stamp is visible in at least two places in the Creed of Nicaea: (1)  first, in the body of the creed itself, in the word “homoousios,” of the same being or essence; secondly, in the anathema at the end of the creed which states,
“But for those who ...assert that the Son of God is of a different hypostasis or substance, or is subject to alteration or change — these the Catholic and apostolic Church anathematizes.”
By both of these “characteristic phrases” of the Creed of Nicaea the modern Trinitarian would be placed outside of orthodoxy. Since the Second Council of Constantinople (A. D. 553) (2), the catholic church has taken the position that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are, in point of fact, three different hypostases. If modern Trinintatianism is considered, the Creed of Nicaea is more a statement of Monarchianism than Trinitarianism.



1The Creed of Nicaea Versus the Nicene Creed
In A. D. 325 there was a true ecumenical council conducted in Nicaea, Asia Minor, with 318 bishops present, both Western and Eastern. The Creed of this Council was revised in the year 381 at Constantinople. This Council of A. D. 381, with 150 Bishops, none of which were from the West, produced a Creed that was quite different from the one formulated in Nicaea, just 56 years earlier. Although the Constantinopolitan Creed was (for all intents and purposes) a different document from the Creed of Nicaea, it was injected into the life stream of the Church as The Nicene Creed. This Creed of 150 Eastern bishops (falsely called The Nicene Creed) was, first of all, not ecumenical, because it excluded the Western bishops; and second, it was not Nicene, because it introduced dogma alien to that of Nicaea:
  • eternally begotten Son 
  • places Mary as an equal partner in the incarnation; 
  • places Jesus in an actual right hand position to God the Father; 
  • has the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father (later "and from the Son" was added, just when is in dispute: at first it was said to be at the First Council of Toledo in 400, but that is based of a forged canon; then it was commonly stated that it was added at the Third Council of Toledo, in 589; but what can be said in truth is that the first documented appearance in the Nicene Creed of the statement "from the Father and the Son" comes in the Twelfth Council of Toledo, 681.)
  • places the Holy Spirit in an equal position of worship with the Father and the Son; 

2.  Nicene Anathema Versus Constantinople Anathema 
At the end of the the Creed of Nicaea (in the year A. D. 325) 318 bishops placed the following anathema, to protect the teaching that Jesus was the same hypostasis (substance, essence, being) as the Father: “Whoso assert that he, the Son of God, is a different hypostasis or ousia, ... Or, changeable or mutable, the Catholic and apostolic Church anathematizes.”  History states that many of the bishops present at Nicaea in A. D. 325 were not happy with the wording concerning the oneness of Christ with the Father. However, the Modalist element was strong enough to retain the concept of one hypostasis for the next 228 years, then enter the Second Council of Constantinople, the year was A. D. 553: “If anyone does not confess that the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three ... hypostases, or persons, let him be anathema.”  In the light of the fact that the Council of Nicaea in 325 anathematizes those bishops of The Second Council of Constantinople (A. D. 553), and the bishops of the Second Council of Constantinople anathematizes those of the Council of Nicaea (A. D. 325), one cannot, in confidence, blindly accept the councils as being from God. (In 228 years this “Catholic” church totally reversed its position on the person of Christ; and anathemas were being flung across the centuries.) 


Thursday, October 3, 2013

On the Meaning of the Word, “Katastolē”


On the Meaning of the Word, “Katastolē”
(As it pertains to a woman’s attire)

The Greek noun “katastolē” (Strong’s #G2689; from the verb “katastellō” Strong’s #G2687) makes an appearance but once in the New Testament, in 1 Timothy 2:9. 
“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel (katastolē), with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;”
Katastolē is a compound word: “kata” (Strong’s #G2597) meaning: down; and “stolē” (Strong’s #G4749) meaning: a “stole” or long fitting gown (as a mark of dignity):—long clothing (garment), (long) robe.
Joseph Henry Thayer says of katastolē: “...a lowering, Letting down; hence 2.  in biblical Grk. twice, a garment let down, dress, attire: I Tim ii.9, Vulg. habitus, which the translator, acc, to later Lat. usage,  seems to understand of clothing (cf the French l’habit); ...”

Some have attempted to use the word katastolē to indicate Paul to be teaching that women should wear dresses. But as you can see from the information above, given on the word, that the most which can be said is that the woman’s garment is to be down on her body -  to the point of modesty. Thayer does use the word “dress” in his definition; but, it is to be understood in the sense of attire, or habit. Such as the style of dress for that time period. The argument cannot be made that Thayer is speaking  of a woman’s “dress” as opposed to a man’s “pants” in that such a distinction did not exist in the first century Roman culture, where all men and women wore robes.

When we apply the term katastolē to our time in history the most that can be said is that, whether a woman wears a dress or slacks, the garment should come down on her body enough to protect her modesty.


The picture provided is an illustration of Roman dress in New Testament times.


Deuteronomy 22:5


Deuteronomy 22:5 
(Examined by Laws of Scriptural Interpretation)
By Bishop Jerry Hayes

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)

The Apostle Paul admonishes the Christians to: “Be ye followers of me, even if I also am of Christ.” As human beings, we seem to have a natural tendency to follow others. This is especially true when we find qualities in other people worthy of emulation; and particularly true with such individuals that aspire to leadership.

Throughout the past two millennia the church of Christ has produced many noble persons. But none to parallel the apostles in character and leadership. Therefore, we fancy ourselves “apostolic” in the sense that we attempt in our Christian lives to imitate the apostles of Christ when involved in doctrine and worship.

While an honest attempt to follow the apostles of our Lord is evident in a few areas, such as water baptism and the Holy Spirit baptism, one must wonder about the lawfulness of claiming apostolicity if we cherry-pick only a few points of emulation, while willfully ignoring apostolic example in a multitude of other areas.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-2, “Judge not that you be not judged, for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: with what measure ye meet it shall be measured to you again.” It has given me a sense of privilege to have been brought up in the pews of the church which calls itself “Apostolic;” to have been instructed by ministers which call themselves “Apostolic” has been a matter of some pride. However, in this church and by these ministers I have been taught to judge the denominational church world for their unwillingness to see the true apostolic way. We have preached how unthinkable it is for those of the un-apostolic to disregard sound principles of biblical interpretation. Therefore, it is difficult, and disillusioning, to have the words of Christ (“Judge not that you be not judged, for with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again”) illustrated in the very movement we call “apostolic.”

Jesus did not forbid judging; He only warned that the judgment with which we judge would come back upon us. So it has – a hundredfold! Who among us has not heard about the proverbial “chickens which come home to roost?”

We condemn the Trinitarian’s willful blindness; but, we are no better. When a brother brings to our attention a passage of scripture which seems to say something different from the common thought, and we refused to examine it simply because the “partyline” would be threatened by it’s mere consideration, we identify ourselves with the pot that spends it’s time calling the kettle black.

It is alarmingly sad to find the same traits inside the Apostolic Movement, which we condemn in other groups. (Before you put this tract down, and prove my point, please read further.) Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true, and it will follow as does the day the night, that thou can be false to no man.” My friends, let us be ministers of integrity; if we condemn a trait or an attitude in others, let us be watchful (in duplicate) not to demonstrate the selfsame trait or attitude in ourselves.

We, as apostolics, are strict concerning our laws of biblical interpretation. Some of these laws which are important to maintain a true system of theology are:
  1. The Law of Context; 
  2. The Law of Witnesses; 
  3. The Law of the Addressee; 
  4. The Law of Biblical Example.

We are very stern with these laws of biblical interpretation when expounding on pet dogmas of the church; but, how sad it is to witness the willful breaking of each one of these laws in our attempt to sustain the so-called holiness-standards of most Apostolic assemblies.

A classic example of this miscarriage of honesty is found in the prohibition placed upon apostolic women concerning the wearing of slacks. The only scripture used (to my knowledge) to support such a teaching is found in Deuteronomy 22:5.

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

This paper will examine how these particular Laws of Scriptural Interpretation are ignored regarding the common view of Deuteronomy 22:5 which is held by most holiness groups. I trust that you, dear reader, will study these points prayerfully and honestly; and that your eyes and hearts may be open to a brighter and more joyous day for the Lord’s church.

THE LAW OF CONTEXT
When the “Law of Context” is considered, it is quickly discovered that in Deuteronomy chapter twenty-two the children of Israel were being instructed in the things they were and where not to do upon entering the promised land. It is, likewise, discovered that the dress under consideration is that of a battle garment, such as the garment of a warrior. This prohibition was given to the Israelites because the Canaanites so dressed to worship the goddess of war. Mr. Adam Clark writes, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaining to a man. KELI GEBER, (The garments or arms of men). As the word “geber” is here used which properly signifies a strong man or man-of-war. It is very probable that armor is here indicated; especially as we know that in the worship of Venus, to which that of Astarte or Ashtaroth among the Canaanites bore a striking resemblance, the women were accustomed to appear in armor before her. It certainly cannot mean a simple change of dress, whereby, the men might pass for women, and vice versa. This would have been impossible in those countries with the dress of the sexes had little to distinguish it, and where every man wore a long beard.”

This interpretation is supported by the Hebrew text in that the word translated “man” is the Hebrew word “gerber.” According to Strong’s Concordance #H1397, “a valiant man or warrior;… .” From Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew and English Lexicon, "man as strong, distinguished from women, children, and non-combatants whom he is to defend, ... ."  Therefore, the women of Israel were not to practice the custom of wearing the battle garments of a man of war, as was the custom of the women of Canaan in their worship of Ashtoreth. This prohibition would have been even more important on the holy days of the idol deity.

Ashtoreth was the supreme goddess of Canaan and the counterpart of Baal. The name and cult of the goddess was derived from Babylonia where this Istar (Ashtoreth) was the deity of both love and war. This deity represented the evening and morning stars and was, accordingly, androgynous (male and female) in origin. Under the influence of the Semitic people, Ashtoreth lost the male identity and became solely female. However, the memory of her male characteristic was not  altogether forgotten. This is testified to by the fact that Ashtoreth stood alone among the other Assyro-Babylonian goddesses; thereby, placing her on equal footing with the male divinities. Prostitution was practiced in the name of this idol and she was served with immoral rites by bands of men and women. Part of the
costume for this immoral worship of Ashtoreth was the cross-dressing of her worshipers. Since the origin of Ashtoreth was both male and female, the male worshipers appeared before her as female while the female worshipers appeared before her as male. When worshiped as a God of war, which was her male trait, the women would wear garments of the male warrior. When worshiped as the goddess of love and fertility the man worshipers would have dressed as women. Thus, the people of of Israel where not to practice such customs, for to do so would be identifying with the worship of an idol.

Also, it is a point not to be overlooked that the appearance of the word “abomination” is an indicator toward idolatry. Throughout the Old Testament the word “abomination” is primarily associated with idols and things connected with idols. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia speaks clearly on the word “abomination:” “… And among the objects described in the Old Testament as abomination in this sense are heathen gods such as Ashtroeth (Astarte), Chemosh, Milcom, the ‘abominations’ of the Zidonians (Phoenicians), Moabites, and Ammonites, respectively (2 Kings 23:13): and, everything connected with the worship of such gods. When Pharaoh, remonstrated against the departure of the children of Israel, exhorted them to offer sacrifice to their God in Egypt, Moses said; “Should we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians (i.e. the animals worshiped by them which were taboo, to ebhah, to the Israelites) before their eyes, and will they not stone us?’ (Exodus 8:26...)”

“It has to be noted that, not only the heathen idol itself, but anything offered to or associated with the idol, all paraphernalia of the forbidden cult, was called an ‘abomination,’ for it is ‘an abomination to Jah thy God’ (Deuteronomy 7:23-26). The Deuteronomic writer adds, in terms quite significant of the point of view and the spirit of the whole law: ‘neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thy house and thus become a thing set apart (herem: tabooed) like unto it: for it is a thing set apart’ (taboo). TO EBAHA, is even used as synonymous with ‘Idol’ or heathen deity, as in Isaiah 44:19; Deuteronomy 32:16; and especially Exodus 8:22ff.”

Therefore, the truth of the matter is that the context is one which concerns the worship of an idol God, and the costume which was worn in such worship. Both worship and costume of the worshiper were “abomination” (tabooed), by the God of the Hebrews, unto the Israelites.

A final word on the context of Deuteronomy 22:5 is appropriate here. Within the context of this passage there is the matter of:
  • “When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, ... (verse 8). 
  • “Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with diverse seeds: ... (verse 9); 
  • “Thou shalt not plow with an ox and ass together” (verse 10); 
  • “Thou shall not wear a garment of diverse sorts, as a woollen and linen together” (verse 11): and lastly, 
  • “Thou shall make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself” (verse 12).

An honest question is asked, and has been asked for tens of years, but no one wishes to answer – WHY DO WE PREACH ONLY PART OF THE CONTEXT?? The truth is: We have not ever considered the context! Very few “apostolic” (so-called) preachers have even a hint of understanding concerning the context of Deuteronomy 22.

To lift the scripture (any scripture) out of its context and arbitrarily ascribed to it some disconnected interpretation is wrong – dead wrong.

A text without its context is a pretext.


THE LAW OF WITNESSES
Next, we moved to consider “The Law of Witnesses.” The Scriptures set forth this irreversible precept, “… At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses shall matter be established” (Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16).

Truth is important enough to the God of Truth that it will never be left with only a solitary witness. It was in the spirit of this “law” that Peter wrote, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). Yet, when asked to support the common “apostolic” (sic) understanding of Deuteronomy 22:5 with even one companion passage, those who hold the prohibitive view of this text fail to present a whisper of a reply. Unto what segment of Scripture could they turn?

One could, with hope, look to 1 Timothy 2:9; to only have that hope disappointed. Here, Paul instructs the Christian woman concerning her attire. She is to dress modestly; she is to be sober and not forward in her appearance. In like manner, she is not to braid the hair with gold, pearls, nor dress in other expenses array. However, not a word is written concerning the “cut” or “pattern” of her garments. Again in 1 Peter 3:3 there is, yet, another opportunity for their interpretation of Deuteronomy 22:5 to receive a collaborating witness, and, thereby, become a valid dogma establisher; but, again, sadly they receive no support. Peter tells the Christian woman to emphasize the adorning of “the hidden man of the heart…” above the outward adorning of the physical person; but, alas, not one word about the cut or pattern of the garment to be warm.

It must be acknowledged by the honest Bible student that the New Testament is loudly silent concerning the cut or pattern of garment to be worn by the Christian man or woman. The honest student will, further, acknowledge that the watchword for the Christian attire is modesty. To preach beyond modesty of dress and require some particular cut or pattern of clothing is clearly to preach beyond the scripture. It is to speak where the Bible does not speak. One would think that if the type of garment worn by the Christian was a matter of concern with the apostolic Church of the first century that Paul or Peter would have made some mention of it – at the least. It is not as if they did not address the subject of attire, because they did. However, within this window of discussion, the cut - pattern -  style or type of garment was not thought important enough to mention; and yet  in many apostolic churches today it is the most important thing. It has even become a matter of fellow-ship. Friends, from what quarter comes such teaching? Certainly not from holy Scripture!

By the  apostolic law of scriptural interpretation called “The Law of Witnesses,” which we all adhere to, a doctrine cannot be established on a solitary text. Yet, many have done just that concerning Deuteronomy 22:5 in prohibiting Christian women from wearing slacks. When we condemn others for establishing doctrine on a solitary passage (such as Trinitarian water baptism - which is established solely on Matthew 28:19), then proceed to do the very same thing ourselves regarding the dress code, we demonstrate doctrinal dishonesty. This is conduct unbecoming the apostolic ministry.

It is not only wrong, but totally and completely dishonest to permit in oneself what is condemned in others!


THE LAW OF ADDRESSEE
The third law to be considered is the “Law of the Addressee.” When we speak of the “Law of the Addressee” we mean that: consideration MUST be given to whom a particular passage is written or addressed.

When we were children there was a song that was sung throughout our churches which one does not hear so much anymore; the song said, “Every promise in the book is mine, every chapter, every verse, and every line.” It appears to me some of the Lord's people have taken these words far too literally. Every verse and every line of the Bible was not written, nor is to be applied, to everyone. The Word of God clearly differentiates between three classes of people to whom the Scripture is addressed. The Bible has been written to the Jews, Gentiles and Christians. What has been written to one group should not – must not – be applied to any other group unless there is a clear reason to do so stated in the passage itself. The apostle Paul demonstrates this distinction in 1 Corinthians 10:32. Here the apostle instructs the church to “Give non-offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God.”

When we read a scripture (any passage of Scripture), we should always ask ourselves: To whom is this speaking? In order to even begin an interpretation, the addressee must be established. If it is written to the Jew we would misunderstand its meaning if we apply it to the Gentiles or to the Church. On the other hand, if it was written to the Church we would be led astray if the message would be applied to the Jew or the Gentile. Likewise, what is written to the Gentile could not be properly interpreted if applied to the Jew or the Church. First Corinthians 10:32 clearly shows that the Jew is not the Gentile nor the Church; the Gentile is not the Jew or the Church; nor is the Church the Jew or the Gentile. Once we acknowledge that the Word of God has something to say to all three groups of people, the basic law of good manners should be observed; namely, “Do not read other peoples' mail.”

It remains only to be ask, “To whom is Deuteronomy 22:5 addressed?” Are Christians being addressed? No? Unto whom is this passage speaking? The answer, of course, is the Hebrews. Not only is this passage written to the Hebrews, but it is located in one of the five books of the law!

Now, in Colossians 2:14 Paul informs the Christians that the “ordinances” of the Law were blotted out by the blood of Christ. Before the scripture is quoted one must consider the word “ordinances.” The meaning of the word is remarkable in its ability to embrace Deuteronomy 22:5. Notice the meaning of the word “ordinances:” an authoritative decree or directive: an order. One would not attempt to deny that Deuteronomy 22:5 is an ordinance. The interest of all this to the Christian is that this ordinance was never repeated in the New Testament; on the contrary, the New Covenant did away with the ordinances of the law.

Concerning this very thing, one must take notice of the following passages:
  • “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the Cross” (Colossians 2:14).
  • “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by which we draw nigh to God” (Hebrews 7:18-19). 
  • “And this word, yet once more, signify as the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain”(Hebrews 12:27).

It is a thing unthinkable, but nonetheless a reality, that: no matter that Deuteronomy 22:5 is an Old Testament ordinance, no matter that it is someone else’s mail, some open it – read it – and try to force its precepts on Christians who have been set free from the law. We might as well require every Christian to wear fringes on their shirts, and build banisters around the roofs of their houses – same chapter of the Bible.

To ignore the Law of Addressee is not only wrong and dishonest, it is also ignorant.


THE LAW OF BIBLICAL EXAMPLE
Lastly, permit me to consider the fourth, and final, law of interpretation addressed in this article; namely, the “Law of Biblical Example.” This will be the briefest examination of the lot. Simply this: Where is the “example” (anywhere in the Old or New Testament’s) of the way many apostolic ministries, and fellowships, teach and practice Deuteronomy 22:5; namely, prohibiting women from the wearing slacks?

What!?

There is no example; you say?

However, you will require it nonetheless; you say?

That is not only wrong, dishonest, and ignorant, but my friend it is also arrogant — which is, perhaps, the greatest sin of all.


IN CONCLUSION
In conclusion something must be said for consistency. It has been said, “O consistency, thou art a virtue.”

I marvel at the inconsistency among many who claim the apostolic faith in their practice of Deuteronomy 22:5. Most, if not all, limit the censorship on women to the wearing of slacks. Not much, if anything, is thought of a man’s shirt, coat, hat, socks, etc. If Deuteronomy 22:5 is to be understood in the traditional prohibitive sense, then all such garments must be censored. Inconsistency is the pitfall of every false doctrine. Something is inherently wrong with our reasoning and logic when we cannot be consistent with our own laws of biblical interpretation.

Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary unto salvation. There is no truth or doctrine, necessary for our justification, and everlasting salvation, but that is, or may be, drawn out of that fountain, and well of truth. Let us diligently search for the well of life, in the books of the New and Old Testaments, and not run to the stinking puddles of man’s imagination, for our justification and salvation.



Apostolically Speaking
☩ David Ignatius

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Parable of the Tree


My gaze was captured by a majestic tree growing in the midst of a glen. I was mesmerized by its beauty and awesome semblance of strength. Season after season I passed that way, if only to be inspired by the tree’s cathedral ambiance transferred onto its surroundings. Its kaleidoscope of color made life dance where motion would otherwise be absent. Season after season, the movement through the mysterious cycles of life and death seemed to transport me through the seasons of my own life. The tree was ever changing, moving, always greater than before.

Then a man with a need for wood took the tree’s life. The hands of the man were gifted and his eye true. From the offering of the tree a beautiful piece of furniture was fashioned. It happened that I was invited to view the piece. I stood amazed at the craftsmanship of the carpenter. How clever were the saw cuts and the hammer never left a track. The pegs were ever so strategically placed and the tongue and grove ever so tight. The dovetailing incomparable. The master craftsman had taken the tree from the glen and fashioned a thing of true beauty and utility. As admirable as the workmanship was, I remembered the tree when it grow in the glen, and was sad. It was alive then, ever changing, moving, always greater than before. 

I think the thing that was the source of my sadness is that even though the tree had become a thing of beauty and utility at the hands of man, it was no longer living, no longer changing, no longer moving, and could never be more than that made by the carpenter, forever frozen in the form of the carpenter's vision. It could no longer be greater than it was before.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Truth on Tithing



Malachi 3:8-10

“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9  You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. 10  Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.


Here is the truth: Those who are opposed to tithing are people, almost without exception, who have "Will Worship Religion" (Colossians 2;23). They want to worship God according to their own will. That is, they want a religion that will not cost them anything. For this reason MOST of them do not support a local church regularly in spite of what they say. They are grasshoppers that leech off of the ecclesiastical institution of the Kingdom of God, wanting to reap the benefits of established Christianity (baptism, weddings, funerals, marriage counseling, prayer when they are sick, hospital visits, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, missionary work, Christian charities, etc) without any commitment to institutionalized Christianity that produces these services. 
Somehow, they hide behind the idea that tithing is keeping the Law - which is wrong. Tithing has ALWAYS been God's program from BEFORE the time of the Law (Abram, Genesis 14:20; and Jacob, Genesis 28:22).
I could debate the issue with them, but, it would do no good. They will not see truth, because they do not want the truth.
The Israelite had more than one tithe. The first and main tithe was for the living of the priest (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:21). The second tithe was something like a savings for the family to make the required trips to Jerusalem each year (Deuteronomy 14:22ff). There was a third tithe every third year which was for the welfare of the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29). We, as NT believers are not concerned with the second and third tithe (which were added by the Law), our concern is with the first tithe that goes to the support of the ministry.
Now, having said that, I do have  a bone of contention with the way most pastors teach tithing. The biblical principle of tithing is to honor God with the first ten percent of one’s “increase.”
Since we live in an economy where hard currency is the commodity of barter, in most evangelical churches the congregant is encouraged to pay the tithe from the gross (instead of the net) of their paychecks. For some time this has concerned me, for the following reason: When Israel was instructed to tithe it was always from the increase from their crops and livestock. 
There are two things I want to mention: 
First: the Israelite was not permitted to reap the corners of their fields (Leviticus 19:9-10); this was left for the poor, fatherless, an strangers (those who had no fields to plant and harvest). It was part of the welfare system of the country. So, the corners of the field were not tithed because it was not part of the “increase” of the farmer. The corners of the fields, being the welfare system, corresponds to the Social Security deduction (and any other taxes that goes to support the poor) from the paychecks of God’s people. To require, then, God’s people to pay tithe from the gross of their wages is requiring more than God demands of His people. A further point one should consider is this: If one tithes on the gross, including the Social Security, when it comes time to draw on that money, no tithe will be owed on the SS check until the amount drawn surpasses the amount that was paid in. I just wonder if a senior who has paid in to SS $100,000 in a working career and retires with a monthly check of $1,200, will be permitted to remain a voting member of the church without tithing for the 7 years it takes to recover the money that has already been tithed on. 
Furthermore, since the principle of tithing is ten percent of the “increase,” to figure how much tithe one owes is not as simple as the amount of money coming through one’s hands. Let me explain: 
Consider the fact that Israel was an agricultural society and their tithing was unique to that type of economy. Not only did the Israelite not tithe on the corners of his fields, he only tithed on the INCREASE of his goods. For example, When all things were equal, if he had 100 calves born in his herd in a season, he would have been increased 100 calves and he owed the Levites 10 calves; which he either took to the temple or converted to money and took that to the temple (Deuteronomy 14:25).  However, if the Israelite’s herd produced 100 calves and a flash flood caught his herd and killed 50 of those calves, then, the man’s INCREASE would not be 100 but 50 calves. In this case the Israelite, being considered here, only owes the Levites ten percent of the 50 calves that he was actually increased - which would be 5 calves instead of 10. When this principle is converted into modern day economics one sees the challenge. The money lost, or spent, in making 100,000 dollars a year income is not to be counted into the increase. E.g. a farmer who sells his crops for 100,000 dollars, but, has a 70,000 dollar seed, chemical, fuel,  equipment, and labor bill, has not been increased 100,000 dollars. 
When determining the amount of tithe owed, it may be a good rule of thumb to look at one's annual tax return and tithe on the taxable income minus the social security payments (since SS is taxable income, but is the corners of the field). Of course one's church will need one to spread that out over the year so it can meet its payroll, etc. So, estimate this year’s tithe from last year's taxable income (minus the social security payments). One can adjust the tithe payment at the end of the year.

Of course, when this is considered some saints will not "owe" any tithing at all. In such cases it will be remembered that God loves a cheerful giver, and all giving of a person in poverty is a love offering which does not go unnoticed by Jesus Christ (Luke 21:2). Because one does not "owe" tithe does not exempt one from giving. Malachi speaks of robbing God in tithe and offering. There is a difference between the two. One may not owe tithe, but remains obligated to God with whatever offering one's faith may allow.
This, most likely, will not make me popular with the pastors and business managers of many churches, but who will deny that I have written the truth?


Apostolically Speaking
☩ Jerry Hayes