Monday, July 30, 2007

Dialogue with Mark Pele Continued

Mark, thanks for the good quality interaction here at UO! We may not come to full agreement on what the Scripture teaches, but we can agree the Bible is supremely authoritative for faith and all of life.

1a) Law and Covenant

You wrote: 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.

My point was simply that the covenant curses make man’s cultural task more difficult. I fully agree that the curses do point to our need for God’s grace and redemption, and I thank you for pointing that out. The fact that God was gracious in cursing the earth, rather than annihilating creation and humanity, is very important and provides proper balance our understanding how grace relates to nature.

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.

I’m going to have to take the opposite view from you here, Mark. Man was given his cultural task before woman was created (Gen. 2:15). This implies that he was first given dominion over all creation (Gen. 1:26), which is confirmed when we see him exercising it in naming all the animals (Gen. 2:20). Adam also named Eve (Gen. 3:20). The authority to a give a thing its name (which biblically enacts something’s purpose) implies oversight, i.e., dominion. Of course, this authority of oversight should be construed as always in subjection to God’s authority.

It is a unique feature of my theology that Adam’s covenant headship is the same thing as his kingship. I don’t expect anyone to accept this view on hearing it for the first time; I only ask that the possibility be considered. I disagree that Adam’s federal headship was only typologically figurative of Christ’s. The type-antitype relationship does not imply unreality in typal anticipations: Aaron was a true priest; David was a true king, yet they both typified Christ, the ultimate revelation of God’s authority. I don’t think possession of real federal headship throughout the duration of Adam’s life is inconsistent with the fact he was elect.

1c) Adam as Eve’s Father

“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.

On the contrary, every act recorded in the Bible (especially in Genesis) is fraught with deep significance. You may choose to find no further significance in the fact that Eve was taken from Adam’s side, but I don’t think my view is as far a stretch as you make out. I encourage further reflection on the matter, with attention to the highly symbolic hermeneutic employed by the biblical and patristic authors.

2) Genetic fallacy

My point was simply as you state well: “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) God’s Kingship vs. Human Kingship

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.

In the quotation underneath the last heading, you admitted that human kingship does not in itself infringe on God’s kingship. The dignity of Christ’s pre-eminent Apostleship (Heb. 3:1) is not undermined by the apostleship of the Twelve. On the contrary, the lesser apostleship derives from the greater, as the Church’s mission derives and extends from Christ’s (John 17:18). There is no contradiction between God’s kingship and human kingship, especially when it is understood to be subject to God.

We may disagree with the papal claims, but we must not let our “Roman revulsion” draw us into a rejection of legitimate kingship. The popes may be wrong, but they always understood their authority as vicars of Christ to be subject to Christ’s authority. The papal claim to possess Peter’s prime apostolic rule does not in itself negate Christ’s pre-eminent rule over the Church. So, I would disagree the papal institution by its very existence constitutes a rejection of Christ as supreme lawgiver. Rather, various popes and councils may have transgressed the bounds of the proper exercise of their authority. The papal acquisition of of temporal power in the west arose from the political vacuum created by the isolation of Roman emperors in the east as their hold over formerly imperial provinces waned. I suggest that our judgment of the rise of the papacy must take account of its salutary role in maintaining western order for 700 years.

4) Kingship and Eldership

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.

What you call eldership I think is best understood as a kind of “general kingship” or patriarchy, the royal calling which belongs to all fathers. I agree that patriarchy preceded the Mosaic covenant and the Israelite monarchy. However, when you say that “Saul, David, Solomon and Rehoboam [were] all anointed by elders,” I agree in the sense that eldership involves prophetic and sacerdotal aspects. Samuel, Zadok, Nathan and Ahijah were all either formally prophets or priests. However, no king of Israel ever reigned by the authority of elders. Rather, the sacrament of royal anointing set kings apart for a special purpose above their brethren. Royal authority derives from God’s calling which is prior to (but not independent of) confirmation by patriarchal authority.

Israel was not a democratic republic in the sense that its rulers were legitimized by majority vote. Its government was not “by” the people. Rather, the prominent heads of great families governed by God. Under Moses, the Lord sovereignly established the later Israelite institutions as instruments of his kingly rule over the pre-existing tribal structure. Later, his overarching divine monarchy established both Saul and David’s royal houses to further the program of redemption. God did not cease to be King of Israel when Saul became king.

After the Exile, the synagogue system arose to compensate for the loss of the Temple priesthood. Similarly, the great empires were used of God for the good of Israel once the monarchy ceased. At the ascension Empire became an instrument of Christ’s rule. Following the A.D. 70 judgment, Constantine’s conversion was the Lord’s next significant redemptive intervention in world affairs.

You are free to disagree with this account of human government, Mark, but I hope it is clear by now that monarchy isn't inconsistent with God’s sovereignty or Christ's lordship.

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.
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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

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Major Essay: In Defense of a Theology of Cross and Glory

"Once the majority view, Christendom has fallen out of favor even with most proponents of Christian culture. Yet, Christendom is the only cultural program that has been tried. It lasted for over 1500 years, demonstrating significant—even extraordinary—stability, and perhaps is not completely beyond resuscitation. I feel honored to advocate for the venerable tradition of Christendom on this forum."

Dear friends, things have been pretty quiet here at Unpopular Opinions, but I've never been busier writing. There are a couple of significant conversations that are currently on hold, to which, I intend to return (Are you out there Eric and Russ?). Soon, I hope to resume discussion about the so-called rule of law (constitutionalism) and the biblical basis for monarchy.

However, the urgent task at hand has been to provide a defense of what has been termed "theocratic transformationalism" over at De Regno Christi. The intensification of my activity at DRC began with a critique of the "Two Kingdoms" theology of Westminster Seminary California represented on the blog by Darryl Hart, a well known Reformed historian. So far, I have published three parts of an essay (here, here and here) demonstrating compatibility between theocracy (established religion) and our Lord's example to eschew violence in propagating the faith. I find no contradiction between the Lord's command to "Resist not an evil person" and the Christian magistrate's duty to punish ungodliness and commend true religion (1 Pet. 2:14; Rom. 13:3-4). So far, I have published four clarifying posts also (here, here, here, and here). I plan to complete the essay in two or three more installments.

We live in the twilight of liberalism. The Enlightenment's legacy has never been weaker. The Puritan, Republican, Communist, and Sexual Revolutions have come and done their worst. The scientific foundation of Darwinism totters. The Church of Jesus Christ remains.

Lift up your heads and take courage. The King is coming. Will we be ready for his appearing?