Saturday, July 28, 2007

Reply to Mark Pele: Adam's Monarchical Headship

Hi Mark,

I appreciate your latest contributions to the conversation at DRC. I was feeling mighty alone battling it out with Darryl & Steve there for a while. While you and I may not agree on every application of the social reign of King Jesus, we are at least agreed that society has an obligation to submit to that reign in formal and concrete ways. It’s good to have you around & I hope you can continue to participate in the discussion.

I’d like to address your three points as thoroughly as possible with the time available to me.

1) An argument I will soon be making at DRC is that “general equity” only makes sense in the context of a covenant superstructure. While I agree with the Westminster Confession that OT judicial laws bind us today only as far as "general equity" requires, the value and meaning of any law is determined by its place in a particular covenant context.

The creation covenant established man in his purpose (to glorify God) and his duty, positively, to cultivate the earth, and negatively, to avoid the forbidden fruit. All positive law (command) should be understood as instrumental to humanity’s cultural task and all negative law (prohibition) to be counterproductive to it. Death, pain in childbirth, and toilsome labor are all obstacles to the fulfillment of humanity’s purpose, which is to glorify God through its culture. Abel glorified God by his sacrifice of fat portions from the firstborn of his flock. Cain only brought *some* fruits of the soil, not the best of his first fruits (Gen. 4:3-4). The scriptural contrast is between the quality--not kind (animal vs. plant)--of sacrifices that were offered. Both before and after the fall, God wants the best of what human culture can offer to him, for quality of sacrifice is indicative of the quality of one’s faith.

As well as creating man head of creation, God created Adam head of humanity. In addition to being the original husband and father, Adam was to be prophet, king and priest of the race. First, he was to instruct his children concerning the commands he received from God’s own mouth. Second, he was to rule his wife and children to the purpose of accomplishing humanity's cultural task. (Remember, Adam was originally supposed to live forever.) Third, Adam, as covenant head, was to offer the first fruits of human culture to God on behalf of his family, the entirety of mankind. These, I believe, are all necessary deductions from a close reading of the first chapters of Genesis.

Rather than viewing all of Adam’s responsibilities as being distinct roles, I argue that the original grant of father-husbandly authority necessarily involved Adam coordinately exercising prophetic, royal, and sacerdotal functions. In other words, Adam didn’t take off a “priest cap” before putting on a “king hat.” He was to exercise his prime authority in a simple, holistic way.

Since Eve was taken from Adam’s side, Adam was Eve’s father as well as her husband. The relation of husband to wife is analogous to the relation between Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:22ff.). This was true of the very first human marriage since God’s purpose from eternity was to unite all things in Christ (Col. 1:15-18; Eph. 1:3-14). Human marriage derives its significance from union with Christ. We should therefore expect that as Eve’s husband Adam fulfilled a priestly role.

If Adam’s priority in creation implies the perpetual rule of man over woman (1 Tim. 2:13), it also implies the perpetual rule of a father over his children. Thus, there is strong biblical warrant for thinking Adam’s patriarchal authority involved prophetic, royal, and sacerdotal aspects.

God’s original creational intent for man involved a royal genesis (created in God’s image to rule) and a royal destiny (glorification). Of course, the NT reveals the concrete identity of Adam’s archetype: Jesus Christ. Adam was created after the image of Christ. Jesus Christ was created to be the image of God (Col. 1:15ff.). By his simple act of creating the first man, God immediately brought human kingship into being (Gen. 1:26). By speaking to the newly-created man, God simultaneously brought prophecy and priesthood into being (Gen. 2:15-17). By creating the woman out of man, God made Adam the fatherly and husbandly head of all mankind.

From these considerations, it can be seen that Adam’s vice-regency under God’s sovereign kingship is a fundamental feaure of the covenant superstructure which gives law its purpose. Monarchy was not brought into being by any particular law. Rather, law is presupposed by the existence of a law-giver (God) and a law-executor (Adam). Covenant relationship is primary, stipulation secondary. The creation of man in God’s image is what establishes the necessity of kingly headship.

2) Regarding 1 Sam 8:10-22 and Deut 17:14-20, I recommend reading this article by Joseph Crisp. Here are a few remarks of my own:

a. Israel was intended to be a royal priesthood, i.e., the whole nation was to be a "kingdom of priests" (Ex. 19:6) Yet, immediately at the beginning of that nation's history we have the institution of the Tabernacle cult and the Aaronic Priesthood. The priesthood existed as a separate class in Israel, and presumably does not contradict the idea of all Israel having been a priesthood in a general sense. By analogy, why should a distinct kingly line in Israel contradict the general royal character of Israel?

b. The theory that because Israelite kingship historically arose as a rebellion against God's kingship (1 Sam. 8) so that therefore monarchy must forever be associated with the rejection of God's rule, is problematic for a number of reasons.
  • First, it is a commission of the genetic fallacy. The impure origins of a particular historical institution have little to do with what God intends to do. As the OT history shows, the house of David was established, and the future Messiah would come from it.
  • Second, the integrity of monarchy has nothing to do with the particular circumstances of the Israelite institution. Monarchy predates Israel: Adam, Noah, Melchizedek and Abraham all were royal figures.
  • Third, Christ's office is a real kingship. To continue to hold such an attitude against monarchy in general is to distort our evaluation of who Jesus is and what he does. This prejudice if allowed in our thinking would derogate from the significance Christ's authority holds for the practice of human authority.
  • Fourth, such an attitude is, I believe, rooted in the anabaptist-antinomian-liberal suspicion that human authority is really only an arrogant imposition of one ego over others. Such a suspicion calls all government into question, and is essentially treasonous in tendency. It is impossible to maintain civil order when such a spirit predominates.

c. The New Testament teaches there is a hierarchical order in God's kingdom. Our Lord told his disciples they would sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt 19:28). In the Church there is an order of apostles, prophets, teachers, etc. (1 Cor. 12:28). This is how the body of Christ is organized (v.27).

3) In itself, the institution of monarchy does not take any glory away from Christ, the King of kings. Rather, since the time of the abolition of dominion, authority & power is not yet (1 Cor. 15:24), kingship remains a perennial aspect of the created order. This does not confuse God's kingdom with the kingdoms of this world. My eschatological position is that the locus of universal authority and rule is in Heaven, but that the New Jerusalem (Heaven) is descending to earth now (Rev. 21). Kings and their peoples are to walk in its light.

Heaven and earth will eventually coalesce, to achieve the consummation and glorification of all things, but even now, Heaven is breaking into the present. Christ’s rule and judgment has spectacularly done so at various historical points (e.g., Pentecost, the Judgment of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Constantine's conversion, Charlemagne’s coronation). So, while I do not absolutely identify earthly monarchies of the present with the consummated kingdom of God, they are real anticipations here of future blessedness. It is true, we are pilgrims "who have here no continuing city" yet we are even now pressing into and toward the eternal city.

Mark, for further elaboration of my theory of sacred kingship I recommend the following three posts: The Kingship of all Believers, The Kingship of all Believers 2, and The Kingship of all Believers and Monarchy. Thanks for your interest in this topic and may God richly bless you.

Andrew Matthews


MarkPele said...

I talked briefly with my pastor about this. I had an approach for how to respond, but he ended up taking a much stronger view on the issue. I'll first deal with my approach and deal with his in a later comment, I think.

1a) Law and Covenant – while I think I mainly agree with your point here, I think we disagree on some of the finer issues. First, the curses of God on the earth are not per-se obstacles to us fulfilling our purpose of glorifying God through our culture. They do strike at the heart of our work on earth, but I think that they are, in fact, pointing us towards God. In other words, it was GRACIOUS of God to curse the earth in that specific way to lead us towards our need for redemption. The law (and more specifically the perfect standard in contrast to our inability to meet that perfect standard) is a taskmaster that leads us to Christ.

1b) Adam as King – Adam was a de-facto prophet, priest and king, but that does not mean that God established monarchy through Adam. God merely put Adam and Eve in a specific relationship with each other. They were a family unit, and a church and a state, but to imply structure on that family unit solely because there was, in fact, only one “leader” is to add to scripture in this case. Adam is pictured as a federal head in opposition to Christ, but that's pretty much the extent of his role, and that role is only figurative, not literal, since we can presume that Adam and Eve were, in fact, believers based on their later conduct.

1c) “Since Eve was taken from Adam’s side, Adam was Eve’s father as well as her husband.” Uh. That's a complete fabrication that has no Biblical justification, and doesn't add to your argument. I'll agree that Adam was a priest, but your “proof” for that is way off.

2) Genetic fallacy – I think that the way that God uses an office does not prove the correctness of the office itself. Just because Jesus is our King does not lend credence to the idea that human kings should exist. So, I think we are at a stalemate in that argument. The mere existence of the Davidic Kingdom and God's use of that in prophecy does not justify monarchy, but at the same time, the way the monarchy came about and the fact that every single human king failed miserably in keeping the requirements set forth does not, in itself, condemn monarchy.

3) My pastor pointed this out more eloquently, but I was on the way... If Christ is the King of the church, do you thus believe in the Papacy? Should the church be ruled by an earthly king? You see, the church is a Monarchy-Republic. Christ is the monarch, and the elders form a republic. This is perhaps why the Reformers saw the Pope as the Antichrist – because he sought to put himself in the rightful place of Christ as the king of the church.

4) The eldership was always the basis for Old Testament rule. We see an expansion of the role of elders in Numbers 11, but their role was not created in Numbers 11 – we see elders in Exodus 4 – when Moses and Aaron were to see Pharoah. We see elders throughout the Mosaic Law as the primary maintainers of law and justice, with only the mention of a king in Deuteronomy 17. Saul, David, Solomon and Rehoboam are all anointed by elders. So, we see that the eldership continued even during the monarchy.

MarkPele said...

My pastor's eloquent comment was that the monarchy of Israel (and more so the monarchy of the Roman Catholic Church) symbolize the rejection of Christ as Head and supreme lawgiver.

In the Old Testament, the prophets and judges brought word and commands from the king to the people. The people obeyed, but quickly turned away to anarchy - doing what was right in their own eyes. When push came to shove at the time of Samuel, the people "wanted a king like the other nations." God gave them the man they wanted - Saul - a natural leader who was strong, outwardly humble, outwardly Godly, who could save them from their main enemies - the Philistines. God later relented and brought them a king who would be after His own heart, but still a king who disobeyed the only real commands set aside for kings in the law. The history of subsequent kings was spotty, with only a few kings that actually led the people towards godliness.

In the same way, the Roman church longed to put above them a king like the other nations. A supreme ruler who would represent Christ. Yet, we see man's natural inclination, which is to deny Christ. So, we see the Pope in many ways is leading his people away from Christ.

Jack said...

Shall I comment on this as well, or should I wait for another?

I generally agree with Mark's points above (though the Presbyterian slant is debatable) but here are a couple of points he does not raise:

1. "These, I believe, are all necessary deductions from a close reading of the first chapters of Genesis." But, surely, if they were necessary deductions you wouldn't feel compelled to qualify them with "I believe". If a thing is necessarily true, it is irrational not to believe it. But I think you realize that the case is far from compelling and this is my primary objection to your approach. If you would limit yourself to claiming that monarchy is sometimes the best form of government in a particular context, we would have no argument but by making the stronger claim that it is inherent in human nature, you set yourself a much higher standard of proof which you have yet to meet.

2. "The priesthood existed as a separate class in Israel, and presumably does not contradict the idea of all Israel having been a priesthood in a general sense. By analogy, why should a distinct kingly line in Israel contradict the general royal character of Israel?" Your argument here actually proves the opposite of what you intend by highlighting the contrast between the establishment of the Levitical priesthood and the monarchy. God clearly established the authority of the Levites with exacting detail in His law. But where is the parallel clarity with regard to the monarchy? And since even the Levitical priesthood is later shown to be transitory and imperfect, how much more should we be suspicious of claims for an enduring imperative in the case of monarchy?

Andrew Matthews said...

Hi Russ (a.k.a., Jack of Clubs),

1. It is true I am not absolutely certain about very detail. I'm willing to consider other alternative theories. However, at this time, I'm treating the Genesis material as a highly condensed account of what occurred in the beginning. The sequence of creation, God's first revelations of his will, and Adam & Eve's first actions are all highly significant precedent setting events. There is a whole lot there that is not obvious from a surface read of the text.

Adam as federal head of the race is the most important type of Christ (in both positive and negative ways) in all the OT. His office must be understood as the anticipation of Christ's and in light of it. Jesus is the Son of Man, the son of Adam, with an even greater correspondence than he is son of Abraham or David.

2. My initial reaction is that priesthood in general was not abolished with the Levitical order. Christ is high priest in a true priestly order, the royal-sacerdotal ministry of Melchizedek (wich I believe was inherited from Adam). And Christians belong to this priesthood, by virtue of being covenantally incorporated in Christ.

The priestly ministry of Christ involves a real sacrifice and real intercessions in which Christians participate. The intercessions are heard in a true temple sanctuary, the heavely court room. The Church's apostolic ministry has also been given the keys of the kingdom: the power to bless and curse (binding and loosing), which is a sacerdotal function carried out in service to Jesus' royal-priestly authority.

In short, I argue the Church is a priestly kingdom in which both kings and priests minister. I'm interested in hearing your reaction to these ideas.