Saturday, March 31, 2012

Drinking from Denominational Wells

Drinking from Denominational Wells

                There are preachers supported by conservative churches of Christ that are drinking in the denominational teachings of grace and faith only. They are not well grounded in sound teaching. They refuse to debate issues in a logical and fair setting.  They would never engage in “much dispute”(Acts 15) with sound brethren to test their views or to show that their views can stand under cross-examination. Yet, they continually quote from denominational preachers and cut off brethren who challenge them on issues of faith only doctrines. One brother made the following comment on Facebook:

JE: If we are saved thru faith, unity is possible between brothers who disagree. If we are saved by faith plus works, unity depends on full agreement on the works.

TB: This is very misleading.  If we are saved through faith, we still have to agree on the object, nature, and content of faith, and how faith should work to prove it is not dead but living. Our brother is dabbling in some basic denominational doctrine here.  In the rest of this article I will demonstrate that our brother has left open too many loose ends in his statement, and has resorted to the same mistakes of vagueness in terminology that has characterized the arguments of “faith only” doctrine for hundreds of years.


                There are masses of people who have been lulled to sleep with a false sense of security.  They believe they are saved, ever so sincerely, based on an interpretation of a few key scriptures.  These are not scriptures that say "one is saved by faith alone", but rather passages that single out faith and IN THOSE PLACES mention nothing but faith.  It is concluded that one need look no further than at what one perceives "faith" to be.

                There are two basic errors in the approach: 1) assuming that a few scriptures can be lifted away from context and other scriptures and still exhaust the subject, and 2) assuming that "faith" in each biblical context is exhaustively defined by a selection of Webster's basic definitions.

                The concept of faith is variously held with a vagueness subjected to each individual's opinion.  Because of the variations in concepts of faith, there are several different APPLICATIONS made from the doctrine of salvation by faith only. For example, if the concept of faith is that one only has to believe in the reality of Jesus (like one might believe in the reality of angels), he may continue to be an adulterer while holding this concept of faith and salvation.  Another person holds that faith in Jesus includes conviction of sin and repentance (would this be faith plus godly sorrow and repentance?).  This person would hold that the adulterer was not really saved if he continues in his sin.  Since there are several concepts and differing applications of the doctrine of faith only, we will look at various cases and show the fallacy of each concept, while showing the correct and scriptural idea of faith.

Case #1:  This man believes in the doctrine of salvation by faith alone.  He perceives "faith" to mean belief in Jesus.  At the moment he believed in the reality and existence of Jesus, he believes (based on his view of scriptures like Jno.3:16 and Eph.2:8,9) he was forever saved.  He believes that because he is saved he should want to quit his affairs (adultery), but such is not essential to his salvation.  He could go on with his sinful activity, suffering only some chastisement on earth, without losing his salvation.

                The first flaw in the above reasoning is the assumption that one can pick a scripture to the exclusion and contradiction of other scriptures.  Other scriptures would show that repentance is essential to salvation and therefore becomes an essential element of saving "faith"(See Lk.13:3; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30,31 etc.).  He assumes that he understands everything about "faith" by the word "faith" itself.  The word "faith" does not say WHAT one is to believe about Jesus, if there is a required level of trust, or whether it is essential that it be expressed in a precise manner that Jesus might demand.  His refusal to consider other related passages is similar to the approach of the Universalist (one who believes that everyone will be saved). The Universalist picks I Jno.2:2 and concludes that since Jesus died "for the sins of the whole world"(that would include even the sin of unbelief), then everyone will be saved.  He refuses to acknowledge other scriptures that would show that though Jesus died for all, the benefits are not enjoyed except under His conditions of faith.  The pick and choose approach to scripture is fallacious.  God did not intend for us to handle His word so carelessly and arbitrarily.

                The second flaw in the case is in assuming that faith and repentance are mutually exclusive words.  Actually, faith is a flexible and often encompassing word.  It is flexible enough to be great or small.  Some people's faith is not large enough to save them.  See Jno.12:42,43.  Saving faith must be large enough to cause the person to repent (Acts 2:36-41; 3:14-19), among other things.  It must be large enough to confess faith in Jesus. The Lord did not promise to save people regardless of the strength, degree, content, or level of faith.

                The third flaw in the case is in assuming that one can add the word "alone" or "only" to the word "faith".  However, the Bible nowhere says that we are saved by "faith ALONE".  The only time the expression is found is in Jas.2:19-24 and here it says "a man is NOT justified by faith alone".

                The fourth flaw in the case is in assuming that God promised to save AT THE MOMENT one acknowledged the fact of Jesus.  But, Jno.3:16 and Eph.2:8,9 do not mention the precise MOMENT that salvation is obtained.  That those passages say it comes through faith does not relate exactly WHEN it comes through faith.  It is by and through faith that one repents and is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:36-38).  To say that salvation comes to us through faith does not necessarily tell WHEN it comes through faith.

                The fifth flaw in the case is in the assumption that a Christian can "continue in sin that grace may abound"(Rom.6:1f), that a Christian can sin, i.e., be adulterers, homosexuals, etc. and still inherit the kingdom of heaven (See I Cor.6:9-11; Gal.5:19-21).  The Lord said such a concept was self-deception.

                The sixth flaw in the case is in the assumption that the phrase "not of works"(Eph.2:8,9) means any activity whatsoever. The context is ignored, and a meaning is forced into the text that was not intended.  Paul was contrasting works of merit or perfect law-keeping (that which would be essential, like the Jews would have to accomplish, if Jesus continued to be rejected) versus receiving God's grace through faith in Jesus.  The interpretation applied would exclude even "faith" from being essential since it is an activity (even if it is an activity of the mind).  Faith is something we "do" and it is described as a "work" (Jno.6:28,29).  If the phrase "not of works" means any activity whatsoever, then even faith  becomes a non-essential activity of the mind.  Paul did not teach that there is no essential activity of faith that is a condition for receiving God's gift.  His point was that we did nothing that merited the reward, God did not owe us, and our works were not sufficient to boast or allow us to feel we had no need of God's mercy offered through His Son Jesus Christ.  Only perfect, meritorious works could offset the need for God's mercy.  Repentance is an act of faith that recognizes a need for God's mercy.  Baptism is also an act of faith that is an appeal to God for mercy and a good conscience before Him (Acts 2:22-41; I Pet.3:21; Tit.3:5).  It is not a work of merit whereby one can boast.  Repentance and baptism are admissions that one has NOT worked perfectly before God, and that one has need of the remission of sins offered on the basis of Jesus' death on the cross.  Baptism is an expression of faith, not an expression of works whereby one might boast.

                The case is full of flaws, contradictions, and fallacious reasoning.  It should be clear to the honest student of the Bible that God never intended such an interpretation on the word "faith".  But, other concepts are hardly any better.

                Before we look at other cases, let us try to get a better grip on the word faith.  The lexicons and dictionaries would use words like "conviction, assurance, trust" as synonyms and definitions on the word.  We must press our faith-only-friends to tell us what all they include and exclude from the meaning of saving faith.  Does "faith" include or exclude:

1) Conviction of sin?  Must one be convicted of sin before he can be saved?  Is this faith plus conviction of sin?  If not, then you must be able to show what all is to be contained within the faith that saves.

2) Godly sorrow over his sins?  Must one be sorry he sinned against God before he can be saved?  Is this faith plus godly sorrow?  If not, why not?

3) Repentance, turning from sin?  Must one determine to turn from the practice of sin?  Or may one decide to keep on sinning before, during, and after salvation? If repentance is contained within the meaning of faith, is baptism also?  How can we have unity of faith if we cannot even agree about what all is to be included in the term?  Is faith plus repentance essential to salvation?

4) A longing to be rid of guilt?  Must one's faith have within it a yearning to be released from the guilt of his sins?  Is it faith plus calling upon the Lord for forgiveness?  Is work of the heart any less work than movement of the body to baptism?

5) An understanding that I need the blood of Jesus?  Or, may one be saved even though he does not understand that forgiveness comes to us on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross?  Is it faith plus understanding that we need the blood of Jesus?  How much work does it take to learn who Jesus is and that His blood must be applied to our account?  Is this faith plus learning knowledge?

6) Dying to sin?  Must faith slay the appeal that sin has?  Is faith a certain kind that must be characterized with all this knowledge and attitudes toward sin?  Or, is this faith plus dying to sin?

7) Being buried with Christ in baptism (Rom.6:1-5; Col.2:11-13)?   Is baptism inherent within saving faith, or does baptism come after saving faith?  Is it faith plus baptism?  Or, is baptism something that is an essential element of faith? 

Must faith have the desire to bury the old way of life in an immersion into His death and burial, and may it be expressed in the act of baptism? Must faith be expressed the way Jesus said?  Or, may faith be expressed any way we desire to express it?  Will it save with no expression at all?

8) Being raised together with Him?  Must the faith that saves take one through a death, burial, and resurrection and may that process be expressed in the act of baptism?  Must faith take us through this death, burial, and resurrection?

                You see that when our faith-only-friends are forced to tell us WHAT faith entails many of them will agree that it entails more than a mental agreement to some facts.  Many can see how repentance comes under faith as an essential CHARACTERISTIC or quality of the faith that saves.  With just a little more openness they can also see how baptism is also a part of the process of faith that obtains God's saving gift.  It is hard to see it when one has been told all his life that baptism is a work of law, that it is not essential, and that good preachers have never believed it.  But, it is easy to see if one can block out all preconceived ideas, make a diligent and fresh effort at absorbing what the Bible actually says on the subject, and determine to let the Bible speak for itself.

                Case #2:  This man believes in salvation by faith alone, but differently from the man in Case #1.  This man believes that a man cannot even activate his own mind and will toward believing.  He believes that man is "totally depraved", "wholly inclined toward evil" and therefore cannot even lean in the direction of belief.  If a man is to believe, God must alter the man's spirit and give him the ability to believe.  This man cannot "choose" to believe.  If he could he might have something of which to boast.  Those who believe can only thank God for selecting them and giving them faith.

                This version of salvation by faith alone would look at the man in Case #1 as teaching a "works salvation"(as they think of "works").  It is faith alone from a purely Calvinistic perspective.  It is taught in the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith.  The man in Case #2 looks at the man in Case #1 as "teaching another gospel", "teaching salvation by works", because he believes that man can do the believing.  Since "doing" and "works" are thought of as equivalent, then the idea that man can be taught (do the hearing, listening, examining, evaluating, and concluding), and by such a mental exercise do the believing, is to make man partially his own savior.  If our man in Case #2 will be consistent with his own belief he will conclude that anyone who believes in free-will will have to teach a "works salvation"(as he thinks of "works").  Since free will assumes the ability of man to choose to believe, then man can save himself by believing.  This means that everyone who is not a subscriber to the ideas expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith concerning predestination and the "unchangeable design" of each individual, is a teacher of a "works salvation" and should be marked as "pseudo-christian" or "cultic".  To contend for free will is to make man a partner to the salvation process.  Thus you can see that two people who seem to believe in salvation by "faith alone" can still be poles apart in their basic beliefs about it.  As with Case #1, there are several flaws in the reasoning of our man in Case #2.

                The first flaw in the reasoning is the assumption that man became totally depraved, totally unable to choose good or even prepare himself for good.  That man became sinful is one thing, but to teach that he became so totally sinful as to lose his ability to choose good is an entirely different matter.  It is commonly held among the writers of the Westminster Confession that man lost free-will since the fall of Adam.  The rest of humanity is not even responsible for its evil actions.  All blame is placed on Adam.  We were helpless to resist receiving from him an inherently evil nature.  We had no ability to resist.  We had no choice.  Of course, the Bible does not teach this.  The Bible speaks of the ability to choose (Deut.30:19; Josh.24:15), and that sin is not something you inherit, but something you do (I Jno.3:4; Rom.3:23; Eze.18:20-24).  The very fact that God would command anything of man says that God believes in the ability of man to obey Him.  The very fact that God would hold man accountable and judge man for his actions tells us clearly that man has the ability that he does not exercise appropriately at times.  The idea of the TOTAL INABILITY of man is nowhere taught in scriptures.

                The second flaw in the reasoning is that God must give man the ability to believe and that God must alter man's spirit to give him the ability.  This view is as repulsive as anything taught by Mormon's and Jehovah's Witnesses.  It is a doctrine that in consequence puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of God if ANYONE is lost.  Why does God not alter everyone's spirit if He really: 1)"so loved the world"(Jno.3:16)?, 2)"died for the sins of the whole world"(I Jno.2:2)?, 3)"desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth"(1 Tim.2:4)?, and 4)"is not willing that any should perish"(2 Pet.3:9,10)?? You can see how the man in this case holds to a belief that is far more serious in its threat to sound doctrine than even the man in Case #1.  It is a viewpoint that is "pseudo-christian" and "cultic" to the core.  It denies that God really desires the salvation of all men.  If He really desired it, He would give everyone the same ability to believe.  These two views of faith only do not have any real common ground.

                The third flaw in the reasoning is in the idea that God does everything in the saving of the elect. Peter said that one can make his own calling and election sure "if you do these things"(2Pet.1:5-11). To our man in Case #2, election is arbitrarily decided by God alone, and that man has no part in the way of "choice".  The elect cannot "choose" to remain in sin (they have no real will of their own).  The non-elect cannot "choose" to turn to God away from sin.  Unbelievers are not really responsible for their unbelief. There is no ability to believe.  It cannot be their fault.  It is God's fault because He chooses not to give them the ability.   Who can believe in such a God?  This is the God represented by Presbyterian doctrine.  Is this YOUR God?

                Actually, the man in Case #2 does not believe in "faith only" but in "grace only".  His talk of salvation by faith alone is meaningless.  When examined closely, the two cases are poles apart and can have no real respect for each other.  The first case is modern Baptist belief.  The second case is Presbyterian doctrine.  There is no real common belief in salvation by "faith only".

Case #3:  This person believes in salvation by faith alone.  He envisions that it comes at the point in faith when the person "invites the Lord into his life".  He believes that the Lord has no other conditions except that mental invitation.  The Lord will come into anyone's life if only they will invite him in by faith only.  He believes that repentance and confession can be assumed in this invitation, but that baptism cannot.  Baptism is only an outward sign that salvation has occurred.

                As with the other cases there are several critical flaws in the reasoning of this case.  In this case there is an effort to identify WHEN a person is saved by faith.  He admits that a man might believe in Jesus but still not yet "invite the Lord into his life".  Thus, he is qualifying the word "faith".  He is including repentance, confession, and a mental invitation for the Lord to come into his life.  He is right to believe that faith encompasses these things, but he is careless in his view of baptism.  It should also be included in the activity of faith that brings Jesus into the life.

                You may have noticed that "faith only" in this case is not the same kind of faith only as in case #1 and case #2.  Again, the man in Case #2 should look at this as another form of "works salvation"(as he thinks of "works").  The faith described includes all kinds of activity: thinking, reasoning, conviction, sorrow, repentance, confession, and a decision to invite Jesus in.  All of these things were mental works that are credited to the believer.  The man in Case #2 can also argue that this man believes a gospel that makes him a "co-savior" with Jesus.  This man can boast of his confession and invitation as much as others can boast of baptism.  Remember, that the Bible does not make a difference between mental works and outward works.  Also, remember that faith is itself described as a work (Jno.6:28, 29).

                Another basic error in the reasoning is in the assumption that "baptism is only an outward sign" that salvation has already occurred.  Who said this?  Where is this even implied in the Bible?  As much as people say this you would think they got it right out of the Bible.  They do not get it there.  Some man made that up and they simply swallowed it as fact.  The only "sign" implied in baptism is that a death, burial, and resurrection is taking place (Rom.6:1-5; Col.2:11-12).  A death to sin (when faith brings one to turn from sin), a burial with Christ in baptism, and a resurrection to walk in newness of life is the only sign implied.  Nowhere does the Bible say or imply that baptism is only an outward sign of an inward grace or a sign that one has already been saved.  Every scripture describing the baptism of the Great Commission (Matt.28:18-20; Mk.16:15-16) place it into the very process of salvation. "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved "(Mk.16:16) is as simple as 2 + 2 = 4.  "Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins"(Acts 2:38). "...arise and be baptized and wash away your sins calling on the name of the Lord"(Acts 22:16). "There is an antitype that now saves us, namely baptism..."(I Pet.3:21).  The Ethiopian eunuch did not wait for a church service to show others a sign he had already been saved.  When he came to some water he wanted to be baptized and he wasn't happy until he was baptized (Acts 8:36-39).  This indicates that he had no reason to rejoice until after he was baptized.  The Philippian jailor was not interested in showing a sign days or weeks after he was saved.  He was baptized in the same hour he learned about Jesus, and that was at midnight (Acts 16:25-33).  If baptism is only an outward sign, why the urgency?  Why not at least wait till the next day?  Paul talked of baptism as an act that unites one with Christ, using expressions like "baptized into Christ", "baptized into His death"(Rom.6:1-5; Gal.3:26,27; Col.2:11-12).  Doesn't it seem a little curious that baptism is mentioned so frequently as a part of the salvation process and never as a follow-up to salvation?

 Doesn't it seem strange that as much as preachers say that baptism is only an outward sign that the Bible doesn't say it anywhere?  And, when we look at the case of the jailer, it is only after he was baptized that Luke could say he “believed” (Acts 16:33, 34).  Baptism was the action that showed that he believed.  So, baptism is involved in faith, and is not an addition to faith. It is faith that includes baptism in the name of Jesus that allowed Luke to say of the jailer that he “having believed” rejoiced.

    Some have used Col.2:11-13 to show that baptism is compared to circumcision, and circumcision was an outward sign.  The only comparison that Paul makes here is that in both acts a "cutting off" takes place.  In circumcision a cutting off of the flesh takes place.  It is an act that uses "hands" to do the cutting.  In baptism a cutting off of sins takes place, and this is done through faith in the operation of God where hands are not used.  The believer goes down into the water assured that God will cut away his sins on the basis of what Jesus suffered on the cross.  The comparison is NOT that both acts are mere outward acts, but that a "cutting off" takes place in both acts.  Again, baptism is never referred to as a mere "outward sign".

                A fatal flaw in all three cases is the failure to see that baptism is an integral part of saving faith.  Separating it from the process of salvation is a later invention of man.  As our man in Case #3 uses "faith alone" and slips several things under that faith, it is easy to see how baptism can also be slipped under that same word.   When looked at correctly, it is ONLY through faith in Jesus Christ that one will be baptized in His name (Acts 2:36-38; 10:47).  There is no other compelling force that would move one to be baptized.  The Jews who reject Jesus are not compelled to be baptized as a work of law.  It is not found in the law.  The Gentiles who reject Jesus are not compelled by their laws to be baptized.  It is through faith in Jesus alone that one is compelled to "arise, and be baptized and wash away his sins, calling on the name of the Lord"(Acts 22:16).  There is no other reason or compelling force.  I would not be baptized if I did not believe in Jesus (Mk.16:16).  It is only my faith in Jesus that convinces me that baptism should be practiced at all.  I trust Him when He says "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved"(Mk.16:16).  Do you believe Jesus?  Do you trust what He says?   As you can see,  my ideas of baptism come from my complete trust in Him.  It was NOT Jesus who said that baptism is only an outward sign.  That idea came from people who could not trust what Jesus actually said.  They do not believe Jesus.  They do not believe in His inspired apostles and prophets who trusted in Jesus and recorded His last will and testament.  The real issue is not baptism, but whether you really believe and trust Jesus.  Can you take Him at His word?  If so, that is the only compelling force that will lead you to conclude that when you are baptized in His name, your sins will be "cut off", "remitted", or "washed away"(Acts 2:38; 22:16; Tit.3:5; Eph.5:26).

 So, you can see that there is a sense in which baptism comes under faith alone, just as much so as repentance and "inviting Jesus in".  It is a matter of trusting Jesus.  It is like the blind man who had to trust Jesus when He told him to go and wash in the pool to receive his sight.  It is all a matter of trusting Jesus.  Do the men in Cases #1,#2, and #3 trust in Jesus?  They do not trust what He said about baptism.  The only thing they seem to trust is their fallacious reasoning about faith alone.  They do not trust in Jesus.  They trust in an idea of faith that refuses to take Jesus at His word.

                Now, for our brother  to say that faith is a basis for unity, he needs to tell us what is included and what is excluded from the faith that unites.  He has not done so.  It is clear that people who believe in faith alone have various divided ideas about that faith alone.

Secondly, since faith is dead without works (James 2:19-24) why should we want unity based upon a dead faith?  Wouldn’t that be unity with the devil?  JE said: “If we are saved by faith plus works, unity depends on full agreement on the works.”  But, unity would also depend on full agreement of the faith, the content of faith, the required activity of faith, and knowledge of what activity can be excluded from real, saving faith.  As we made observation in the three cases above, there is no agreement as to what is included and excluded from saving faith.  So, with which of the three cases above would JE find agreement?  JE will not discuss this matter because he does not wish to be pinned down. I would encourage all brethren to beware of drinking too long at the wells of denominational writings.        

Terry W. Benton

Friday, March 23, 2012




 Do you know Jesus?  How well do you know Him?  Do you know Him as “Wonderful”?  Is He the most wonderful thing that has ever (and will ever) happened to you?  Do you know Him as your greatest “Counselor”?  Do you turn to him for the best decisions and directions for your life?   Another thing that makes Him Wonderful, and the most qualified  “counselor”  is the fact that He is also “Mighty God”?

Isa 9:6

6 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NKJ)



1. The Jews would not concede that a man could be called “God” without blaspheming God.

2. They have managed to explain some verses away. Isa.7:14 is an example.


1. But this verse topples the argument against a “child” being called ”Mighty God” without blasphemy.

2. The verse, from their own Bible, says that this “Mighty God” would first come as a child is born and then later would be called  “mighty God”.


1.  Isa 7:14

14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (NKJ)

 a. Sign - a virgin, son, name called “God with us”.

 b. But, even if sign -young woman, son, name called “God with us”, -= it is still not “blasphemy”, else the Jews’ own sacred writings are blasphemous.

2.  Micah 5:2

2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands

of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose

goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." (NKJ)

 a. Bethlehem the place from which the “Ruler in Israel” comes.

 b. This ruler is from “everlasting” - the mark of deity or godhood.

3.  Ps 110:1-4

The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool."

 a. “my Lord” is someone higher in rank that David.

 b. But, “The Lord” said something TO the one higher than David.

 c. This person would sit at God’s right hand, and would from there conquer  all enemies.

2 The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!

 a. This “Ruler” would rule in the midst (not abandon the country to find friends in another place).

 b. This “Ruler” would proceed from Jerusalem or Zion.

3 Your people shall be volunteers in the day of Your power; in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, you have the dew of Your youth.

 a. His “power” would attract “volunteers”.

 b. His “volunteers” would be attracted to the “beauties of holiness”.

4 The LORD has sworn and will not relent, "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." (NKJ)

 a. This ruler was determined to also be a “priest”.

 b. This implies a “change of the law”  because it is not based upon the law that combined with the Levitical priesthood.  See Heb.7:11ff


A.  Three of Many Examples of His Power, and the Reason He Would Be Called “Mighty God”.

1. Healing over a distance.  Jno.4:46-54

2. Miraculous Catch of Fish Showing Power Over Creatures of Nature. Lk.5:1-11

3. Stilling of the Tempest.  Power over the Elements of Nature. Matt.8:23-27


A. He provides a way of escape.  “Mighty God”.  1 Cor.10:13

B. He is “able” to help.  Heb.2:9f

C. The power of His word. Heb.4:12.


Who else could fit the prediction of “Mighty God”?  Do YOU know Him in this way?  If not, isn’t it time you started getting to know Him?

Terry W. Benton

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Who Teaches a “Doctrine of Demons”?

Who Teaches a “Doctrine of Demons”?

Exchange with Robert Waters                                   Message #23852 on Focus on Truth

Re: [Focus_On_Truth] Re: Moses versus Moses

Robert Waters to Terry,

TB: It does not hurt me because you misuse 1 Tim.4:1-3 and apply it to others, It just shows that you are not being honest. The passage does not say "forbidding people who have no heterosexual marriage after they have divorced to marry", but just simply "forbidding to marry". You CHOOSE to apply it to people that forbid some marriages they believe JESUS said would be "ADULTERY". If you can apply it that way to me, then I can apply it to YOU, because you "forbid to marry"(doctrine of demons) the homosexuals who have no marriage, and you forbid to marry, the woman in 1 Cor.7:11 whose husband will not take her back. You forbid to marry such people as Herod and Herodias, and you forbid to marry those who have no marriage such as minors, and you forbid to marry those women who were put away without divorce papers.

 rw: First, you are not really dealing with what I said.  You are just venting.  (There are several questions in this post. Will you answer them? At the end of this post are 3 questions you did not reply to in my last post.) The “forbidding to marry” that Paul put in the light that you do not like was the practice of telling people they cannot marry anyone at all, i.e., they cannot have a marriage.  This is evidently what YOU do or teach regarding people who are divorced and by definition have no marriage. I’m talking about people who are of age, according to Paul (1Cor7:36): men and the women having reached “the flower of her age.”

 TB: So, when Paul and Jesus told people that they could not marry ANOTHER without committing adultery, Paul and Jesus are thereby forbidding to marry. The option you give in 1 Cor.7:11 is remain unmarried or wait out the present distress for no telling how long.  Yet, even in that time-slot you have Paul "forbiddding to marry".  You have women "put away" but unable to marry until and unless her husband gives her the paper, if he ever does, and you have Jesus "forbidding to marry" when she is at the mercy of a man giving her a paper.

Rw: I do not tell homosexuals they can have no marriage.  They can. But God says it is not to be with one of the same sex.

TB: So, there are other verses that have to be brought in, and the "forbidding to marry" does not include unlawful marriages. You make my point.

Rw: I would not forbid Herod or Herodias to have a marriage, but I can see, based upon what John said that they could not legally be married to each other.

TB: So, again, you concede that "forbidding to marry" does have other restrictions.  An unlawful marriage is always forbidden.> You forbid to marry those who have no marriage who Paul said to "remain unmarried" even though it is God's way for all people to "avoid fornication" (according to your logic). >

rw: This is another passage that is often perverted without care that their interpretation has Paul contradicting himself.  The context is: “the present distress” which if overlooked will result in a wrong interpretation of Paul’s teachings.

TB: Well, even then Paul is saying that certain people must remain unmarried for no telling how long.  That is forbidding to marry in this case.  This shows that you cannot apply the "forbidding to marry" statement to all relationships and under all circumstances. You cannot escape the fact that the only forbidding to marry that Paul could be talking about is where a person could lawfully marry without committing adultery or incest or homosexuality.> So, your game does not work unless it works for you too. Paul is speaking of those who have a legitimate right to marry, not those who do not.  >

rw: This brings us to the question of whether a divorce, as prescribed by God (Deut. 24) actually did anything.  Evidently you think it did not and that the couple that is divorced are still married.  This is beyond absurd.  You did not answer my question on this matter.

TB: I have pointed out that God did not "prescribe" divorce. But God did control it and regulate it so that a man would not be so hasty and reckless in his decision to divorce. Jesus is the one that said it was suffered to put away because of the hardness of your hearts. Jesus is the one who said "but from the beginning it was not so".

> Your logic says that Paul is condemning himslf in 1 Tim.4:1-3 for telling someone that they must be reconciled or "remain unmarried"(1 Cor.7:11).  >

rw: No, the non-obscure passages verses are: 1-2, 7-8 and 27-28.  The only way to harmonize verse 11 with these is to see that he is talking about a couple that is separated but not divorced—they are still married.  The context supports this idea.  (See Bloomfield.)   See also:

TB: You are saying they are "still married" when Paul said they are "unmarried". You are forbidding the unmarried to marry, and you are accusing Paul of teaching "doctrine of demons" by telling this couple to "remain unmarried".  You cannot escape this.  > Obviously if they cannot reconcile they must "remain unmarried". >

rw: Where does the “except for fornication” fit in on this?  Obviously it is missing completely.  There is no hint of it.  Thus it is evident that Paul is not teaching the traditional doctrine that you teach.  A couple is to remain in the separated condition, and of course the “present distress” also comes into play.  It applies for the time period specified. To apply it to all time is to ignore the context.   Paul does not say anything about fornication nor does he say anything about the death of the spouse, which indicates he is not dealing with divorce and what he did say was in view of the present distress. The context: “the present distress” is the all important factor.  But you completely ignore it because it hurts your effort to justify our doctrine.

TB: You are trying to dodge the point here. We are discussing the fact that Paul did forbid some unmarried people from marrying another person when reconciliation cannot be had between the two had become "one flesh".  You now want us to think that you have covered your tracks by saying it was only for the present distress.  But, other unmarried people were free to marry during the present distress to avoid fornication.  But, here you have Paul teach a doctrine of demons.  Shame on you Robert, because you prove here that you are not honest and own up to the fact that you are teaching what you call a "doctrine of demons" in others.> So, your logic says that Paul later condemned himself for teaching a doctrine of demons in 1 Cor.7:11. Robert, your charge does not effect me at all, because I am convinced that you are wrong, and that your charge is against Jesus and Paul.  >

rw: Evidence does not affect some people.  Some have no concern for truth.  People love tradition and will say and do anything to defend it.

TB: Yeah Robert, you do love your traditions and you will do anything to defend it, even manipulate the evidence.> Now Robert, I have proven that you are deliberately making a false charge against people like myself who teach that the divorced should not remarry another and thereby commit adultery.  >

rw: No, you have proved no such thing.  All you have done is recite the same old arguments that traditional defenders have settled on, regardless of the fact that they do not allow the scriptures to harmonize and that their doctrine has God punishing innocent people for the sins of another.

TB: Robert, you are the one not allowing scripture to harmonize and you have God punishing innocent women because a sinful man will not give her a writing of divorce. You are merely reciting your same old traditional arguments that you have settled on regardless of the fact that it has no biblical support or harmony.> You are misusing 1 Tim.4:1-3 for the sole purpose of promoting prejudice. You even pervert 1 Tim.4:1-3 and add some special words to set it up as if it means that the divorced must never be told that they cannot remarry. >

rw: What special words are you taking about.  Don’t need to do that.  It is plain enough as it is. 

 TB: The special words you insert are words like "forbidding the divorced to marry" or "forbidding heterosexuals to marry". There are lots of words you imagine into the phrase that is not there and you allow other verses to regulate the extent of the application of that phrase while disallowing me to bring in other unlawful relationships such as those Jesus said would be adultery. If it is plain enough as it is, why do you start bringing in other passages when someone points out that you are forbidding certain people to marry. The legs of the lame are never equal.> You know it does not say or imply that. You get to that conclusion by first twisting other texts such as Matthew 19:9 and 5:32 so that it only means "putting away without a divorce paper". Then, having reached your erroneous conclusion, you start applying 1 Tim.4:1-3 to people including many major scholarly translators for putting the word "divorce" in those and other places and believing that the divorced cannot remarry, but even there the legs of the lame are not equal because where does that leave a person who was not given a divorce paper? It leaves them in a situation where they are "forbidden to marry" until that husband breaks down and gives them the paper. You are playing the game of the Pharisees. Until you stop teaching like the Pharisees that the divorce paper makes all putting away acceptable to God, I will believe more strongly that you are aligned with the Pharisees than you can ever be that I am teaching the doctrine of demons.

rw: Terry, I want you to continue on this list because you are a good writer.  But if you continue to make the false charge that you are making you are not likely to be here much longer.  I have clearly shown that the charge you make is false.  This is not the same list that we were on some time ago where this kind of thing was not rebuked by the owners.  You know the charge you make is false.  The divorce papers do not make all putting away “acceptable” to God – the act by the men.  It does, however END THE MARRIAGE.  You need to get his point.  The man may have sinned in divorcing his wife, NEVERTHELESS, it ended the marriage; otherwise God gave a divorce law for no reason at all.

TB: Robert, I don't really care if you want me on this list or not. You are teaching what the Pharisees would have been perfectly fine with. They could easily accept your sayings.  You are saying that it is wrong to put away, but after you do the wrong thing and put away anyway, God accepts all remarriages after the paper is given.  This is what the Pharisees taught. Give the writing of divorce and God accepts it.  He's disappointed that you decided to do that, but since you have decided to do it, He will accept the divorce paper and recognize any new marriages as legitimate.  My charge is not false, but if you are able to influence the list owners to side with you in this matter and remove me from the list, then I will gladly leave the list. You will not be allowed to make false charges toward me, and then hold me to a different standard.  You may get away with it on this list, but you will not get away with it ultimately where it counts.> You know that the "doctrine of demons" accusation never did apply to me. >

rw: It does if you teach the traditional doctrine that DW teaches.  I hope you will show me that you do not teach the same thing.  But some have deviated from the traditional doctrine (evidently not liking the idea that it needlessly punished the innocent, which has God being unjust) by teaching that one who is divorced may also mentally divorce the other.  Where are you on this?  Do you have no problem at all with telling an innocent woman, who her mean husband divorced, that she cannot ever marry?  

TB: Do you have no problem telling an innocent woman, whom her mean husband put away, that she cannot ever remarry unless she can get her mean husband to give her a writ of divorce?

> So, unless there is a better case you can make, I am fully convinced that the Pharisees would be content to say that if you are going to divorce make sure you give a writing of divorce and it will be lawful to divorce for every cause when you do it this way.  >

rw: I have observed that your wording has changed.  You are now taking about “lawful” rather than “right or wrong,” which I have been trying to get you to see.  Indeed, a divorce, regardless of the reason (the man made the choice and it was not contested) ENDED THE MARRIAGE, which allowed the woman to marry another.

TB: I've noticed that you say that a woman could not lawfully remarry if she has a mean husband who won’t give her the writing of divorce.  You are saying the same thing the Pharisees taught in principle.  All divorce is legitimized by a husband giving the piece of paper.  They would be very happy with your position, but they were not happy with Jesus' position.

> That is what you teach too. I see no difference between you and them.  >

rw: The problem that I have been having, prior to the above wording, is that you have been saying that I think it was ok for a man to divorce his wife for any cause.  I have not said that and do not believe it.  He may well have sinned, but that does not mean that the woman could not be freed by the certificate given to her.

TB: But, you are saying that she cannot be free to remarry until and unless he gives that piece of paper.  The Pharisees said "whoever divorces let him give a writing of divorce" (Matt 5:30). That is what you teach too. But Jesus said something different  than you and them.

Rw: Was that not the purpose of the divorce decree in the first place?  If the man was wrong was the decree that showed she was free of no value?  Who was to determine whether the man was justified or not?  No one.  Was the woman lost if she married another because the man was not justified in giving the divorce?  Terry, you talk about me not being honest.  Unless you answer these questions and the others that I have posed to you, it will be glaringly evident that you are not honest—unless you repudiate your teachings, which I hope you will do.

TB: I'll say it again. These regulations were for the hard-hearted and controlled the man from hasty divorce. It was suffered judgment, and it was case-law that said certain things may be done and if they are, here is the ruling.  The man could not take her back "after she has been defiled". The one flesh law of Gen.2 was still in place, but this case-law regulated the ability of the hardened to get back the woman he sent into the arms of another man to become defiled. Would the woman be lost if she married another man when her husband would not give her the writ? Your position has huge holes in it, and it is glaringly evident that you are not honest.> Further, since your doctrine says that a put away woman cannot marry until and unless her mean husband gives her the certificate, then here is a woman that Jesus forbids to marry (a doctrine of demons according to you).  >

rw: So, Terry, do you actually believe that a woman that was separated from her husband could marry another man?  Do you think Jesus did not deal with this issue?

TB: You are dodging the point again.  Jesus dealt with fornication as well as the adultery that results when one divorces and remarries. However, you are teaching a doctrine of demons (according to your logic)since your doctrine says that a put away woman cannot marry until and unless her mean husband gives her the certificate, then here is a woman that Jesus forbids to marry (a doctrine of demons according to you).  >

> So, in addition to you taking the Pharisees position, you are also to be charged with teaching a doctrine of demons in forbidding to marry a woman who cannot get her certificate from her husband.

rw:  How can you charge Jesus and me with “forbidding to marry” when the scenario is a case where the woman is in fact married.

TB: I don't charge Jesus. I charge you. You are the one saying that a woman had to get the certificate from her mean husband else she can never remarry. You are the one making the arbitrary distinction between putting away and divorcing that is not inherent in the text.

rw: This was the problem that Jesus condemned his accusers of practicing and it shut them up.  But in our country, and in most places in the world, women can initiate the divorce.  Thus, in such cases the problem of one being “put away” but not divorced is not such a big problem.  However, those who teach the traditional doctrine (telling people who have no marriage that they cannot have a marriage) are putting people in the same position the Jewish men were putting their women by putting away and not giving the bill of divorce.  It deprived(s) them of a marriage, family, home, sex, and happiness.  Furthermore, it often causes them to turn from the church and God. Thus, God appropriately called the “forbidding to marry” concept “doctrines of demons.”>

TB: When you stop doing it I'll stop applying these things to you (isn't that what you said above to me?) Then it is fair game for me to say it back to you with an even stronger case against you.  >

rw: You stop teaching people who have no marriage that they cannot marry, and stop breaking up marriages where one has been divorced, and I promise I will no longer apply the teaching of Paul to you.  I do not teach what the Pharisees taught and you know it.  It has been explained to you very plainly and you most definitely have not misunderstood.  Divorce for any cause is not right—Jesus condemned the Pharisees for it.  But he did not say the divorce did not end the marriage—it did.  It still does.  Thus, when one is divorced you may condemn them for their evil that brought things to that severing of the relationship—but don’t ruin their lives by telling them they cannot have a marriage.  Brother, you are going to stand in judgment for those actions if you do not repent.  And if you keep charging that I teach the same thing as the evil Pharisees you are going to stand in judgment by FOT management. I have been patient.Oh, here are some questions you dodged:1. Do  you think a divorced (not for fornication) person is still married?

TB: Bound but not married. Married speaks to presently involved relationship. A person can be married but not bound, and bound but not married. Herod was married to Herodias but not bound. The woman in 1 Cor.7:11 is bound but "unmarried".

2. Well, if Jesus said a divorced woman could not marry then where did Moses say it? TB: Gen.2 - "one flesh".

3. Also, what good was a divorce in the first place? (if it did not free the woman)TB: I've already addressed this several times.

Brotherly,Robert Waters

TB: Was Deut.24 saying the same thing as Gen.2? Was Deut.24 "so from the beginning" or did it trump Gen.2 only in hardened hearts?  Would the Pharisees teach that when you divorce give her the writing of divorce?  Would the Pharisees teach that all divorces carried out with the writ of divorce will be recognized and approved by God?  Do you teach the same?

Terry W. Benton

(Note: Robert never answered those questions.  His teaching is the teaching of the Pharisees, and therefore, his teaching is a doctrine of demons that teaches the very opposite of what Jesus taught.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The "Let Man Put Asunder God's Way" Argument

The "Let Man Put Asunder God's Way" Argument

The Argument Stated:

RW:  But we are saying that if a divorce is done God's way then the divorce does what was intended for it to do. Actually, when a divorce is done God’s way God is doing the “putting asunder” – or at least having a part in it. But when man does the putting asunder his way (merely putting away) the divorce is not God’s way and therefore if she marries another she commits adultery, as well as the man who marries her (Matt. 5:31-32).

RW: The O.T. clearly taught that when a man was intent on getting rid of a woman, he was commanded to give her a certificate as opposed to just sending her out of the house, which would not be a divorce at all, and would result in sin if her sexual needs were met by another man, even if she married. It would be "man" putting "asunder" his way, wouldn't it?

The Argument Answered:

First, does the Bible say how to "put asunder God's way"? There is one statement (not command) showing how they commonly did it (Deut.24:1-3). But, that is not a command from God on how to do it correctly.  Others did it by an oral witness system. Our system allows the couple to already be  out of the house, then lawyers draw up papers and then it is over legally.  Would we say that since all these do not conform with the COMMAND of Deut.24:1-3, that these all constitute adultery?  There is no command on how to divorce properly.  Where is the scripture? Jesus denied that the writ of divorce was God's way of putting asunder. He said:

Matt 5:31-33

"Furthermore it has been said,'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.'  32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. NKJV

Jesus is clearly saying that the writ of divorce is not "God's way" at all. He said if you do this and marry another, the writ of divorce will not have prevented "adultery". Divorce assumes the writ of divorce. The writ of divorce did not keep the woman that was divorced from being "defiled" in a second marriage under the Law (Deut.24:4). So, what is the only way to divorce God's way?  "Except it be for fornication".  Man's way was to find some uncleanness in her and put her away with a writ of divorce.  God never commanded it.  But, since hardened people were doing it, then God put a national judgment into place.  What was it for? It was to regulate something suffered in the state, namely, legalized divorcing and defilement.  This is much like other things that God suffered or allowed without approving it. He suffered and allowed polygamy for a time.  He allowed incest for a time. He allowed the hardened to divorce their wives and another to marry her.  Did He view it as the ideal He approved in Gen.2? Not at all. He merely tolerated it and controlled it.  Why?  We don't know for sure it may be that it was because it was a national kingdom, not a spiritual kingdom of righteousness, and hardened hearts and concessions had to be made within an imperfect world while working toward the more ideal kingdom within kingdoms. It was a less perfect stage that was being prepared for better things.

Secondly, what the argument would mean then, is that Jesus should have said: "If the divorce is done God's way you can divorce for every cause".  Or, "you can put asunder what God joined together if you do it God's way, with the divorce papers". Or, He could have said that "I don't approve of divorce, but when you do it you need to do it with a certificate of divorce and then put it in their hand and then send them out of the house". The Pharisees would have been thrilled to hear this, and so would the disciples.  Jesus said something that could not be accepted by all men.  What RW is saying is that Jesus said something all could easily accept. This cannot be what Jesus was saying because the Pharisees and the disciples would not have had any problem with the idea as long as they gave a certificate of divorce there was no adultery or defilement in the next marriages.

Thirdly, let us carefully observe that the Bible shows that Moses did not command a divorce or a procedure for divorcing "God's way".  To establish this point, we need to make an observation about the structure and wording of different versions of Deuteronomy 24:1-4.

1 When a man taketh a wife, and marrieth her, then it cometh to pass, if she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some unseemly thing in her, that (this should be "and") he writeth her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house, ....

(Please notice that in this version there is not a "command" to write a divorce, nor is there a command telling HOW to divorce properly. All we have so far is a contingency statement leading up to a ruling in verse 4.  "If" this happens, and this happens, and this happens, THEN the ruling in verse 4.  There is no command to divorce, nor a command about how to properly divorce. Nor is there a three-step command about how to divorce properly as some brethren assert.  This is very important to observe as we go along).

2 and she departeth out of his house, and goeth and becometh another man's wife,...

 (Still no command in this version, and this rendering is what matches the Hebrew text. So, we go along reading a series of contingency statements and still no command of any kind, and the sentence is still not through stringing the series of contingency statements).

3 and the latter husband hateth her, and writeth her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, who took her to be his wife;

(Each underlined word shows more contingency statements strung together and still no command is given. We will not get to the command until all of these conditional statements are brought into the ruling of the command in verse 4).

4 her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD; and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

(Now we have the apodosis of the long protasis. This means that in Hebrew we cannot see a command at all until we get to verse 4 and the only command is that when this series of things happen (not are commanded to happen), then the ruling is that the first husband may not take her back "after that she is defiled". The ruling is that the original husband could not take her back, and please observe that even though she was given a certificate of divorce, it did not make the second marriage undefiled. The woman is "defiled" now that she has been married again. Keep this point in mind, because Jesus will call this defilement "adultery" to get the attention on this matter that so many had conveniently overlooked. There is no command to divorce in verse 1-3, nor is there a command on how to divorce properly.  There is a series of conditions that lead up to the ruling in verse 4.)

My Observations:

1. Jesus said this was "suffered" because of the hardness of your hearts, "but from the beginning it was not so"(Matthew 19:3-8). Jesus does not allow this contingency passage which regulated the hard-hearted violators of Gen.2 to be used as proof that God will accept remarriages or the legitimacy of the writ of divorce. The one flesh rule still applies when the man gives a writ of divorce. Therefore, when he or she marries another there is defilement of a sexual nature. It was obviously tolerated or suffered to be so, else the woman would have been punished or stoned for marrying and committing sexual defilement. 

2. The contingency statements do not authorize a man to put away his wife.  A contingency statement only tells "if" this happens, "then" here is the ruling.  The ruling is that if those things listed in verse 1-3 happen then the former husband "may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD".  This is not legislation designed to tell the woman she is free to marry whom she would if she can get the writ of divorce.  It is legislation designed to control the state from being over-run with hardened men frivolously divorcing, creating the defilement situation, and then wanting to take back the woman he caused to be defiled. God was not "protecting the woman so that she would always be free to marry" but protecting the woman from reckless behavior in her husband.  How does it control him?  He is made to think long and hard before he writes a divorce. He may not be so lucky the next time and he may not ever have her back again after she is defiled in another marriage. It is not designed to protect the woman from "defilement". She is defiled in a second marriage even though it was allowed.  It was not designed to protect her so that she can have another marriage. She could have that legally under what was tolerated at the time.

What About The KJV and ASV?

Let us observe that these versions are usually good, but they are not always accurate in every case or passage.  The KJV was one of the best in its time, but we have acquired many more manuscripts, and accumulated richer insights through many archaeological discoveries since its time.  However, in this case, the text was not carefully rendered in the way the Hebrew text presents it. One writer observes regarding the ASV: It's only weakness is that since 1901 we have considerably more information concerning manuscripts, texts, archaeology, and biblical geography than was available in 1901. We have also learned a great deal about the "syntax" and "idioms" of the Koni Greek language of the first century.

Another wrote: The ASV had the ill-fate of being released just before many of the major manuscript and archaeological discoveries were made which forever altered the way we approach the work of biblical translation and revision. In 1877, Philip Schaff (who was the director of the ASV translators) said that only 1500 manuscripts of the Greek New Testament were available to them. There are now close to four times that many available! The Greek papyri have also come to light since the publication of the ASV (the Chester Beatty Papyri and the Bodmer Papyri perhaps being among the most significant). Knowledge of ancient versions in various languages has increased. These, and other, significant advances have made the ASV very much "behind the times" with regard to biblical translation and revision.

Dr. Jack P. Lewis writes, "It is not at all suggested that these tools radically change the biblical message, but each new insight is a welcome one for the English reader!" For example: Psalm 16:9 speaks of one's heart being glad, and "my glory rejoiceth." Actually, Assyriology has shown that this word literally means "my liver rejoiceth" (the liver was believed at that time to be the seat of one's emotions). In II Kings 18:17, Jeremiah 39:13, and others, such words as "Tartan," "Rabshadeh," "Rabsaris," and "Rabmag" are not proper names, as the ASV translators believed, but rather are now known to be titles of individuals. These were things that simply were not known at the time the ASV translators worked, but which have since been discovered.

The assertion that the ASV renders every passage most dependably accurate, and especially this passage, is willful ignorance.  David Willis made the observations from the Hebrew structure of Deut. 24:1-4 (which we cannot print here), which is why most of the modern versions have corrected the mistake made on v.1-2. David said: "what is VERY significant I think is this....look at the last line of :1 (reading right to left).  The second word and the fourth word begin with "I".  This is the way they say "and" adding an "I" to the verb.  Now....look at :2.  The second (from right), third and fourth words also begin with "I". This means that all these words are a sequence of actions....verbs in the conditional (protasis).  They continue the list of "if" actions started in :1.  Now look at :3.  More verbs beginning with "I".  Now look at :4.  The second line begins (on right) with a word that starts with a letter that looks like "W".  That is "shalach."  That tells us where "who sent  her away" is.  Now keep going left.  Notice that the words DO NOT begin with "I" this is where the sequence of "and's" ends and the apodosis is given.  It is a command that he may not take her again.  I believe it is the ONLY command in these 4 verses."

This argument matches what we are finding in most all post 1901 translations. Please observe the following:

Deut 24:1-4

"When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, 2 when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man's wife,  3 if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, 4 then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance. NKJV

1 If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, 2 and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, 3 and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, 4 then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance. NIV

"When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, 2 and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man's wife,  3 and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.NASU

WHEN A man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a bill of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house,

2 And when she departs out of his house she goes and marries another man,

3 And if the latter husband dislikes her and writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies, who took her as his wife,

4 Then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife after she is defiled. For that is an abomination before the Lord; and you shall not bring guilt upon the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance. AMP

24:1 "When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, 2 and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man's wife, 3 and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance. NASB

1 "When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, 2 and if she goes and becomes another man's wife, 3 and the latter husband dislikes her and writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies, who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring guilt upon the land which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance. RSV

In fact, I could not find a post 1901 version that retains the rendering of the KJV or the ASV.  Why is that? Is it because all of these are modern and liberal? Or, is it because the Hebrew never really said "let him give a writing of divorce" and the knowledge of Hebrew structure and syntax has corrected the mistake made in those versions?  It does not cause any liberal ideas. It actually prevents the liberal ideas that are now being circulated.  Why do some of our liberal brethren want to hold on to the KJV and ASV rendering? Because it is the foundation of a faulty premise, and that premise is crucial to the new wave of traditionalism that teaches that all divorces are fine with a writing of divorce, and all remarriages are fine if the "command" is followed to "give a writing of divorce".  It is most likely that people will have their ears tickled by this new traditionalism, and that new traditionalism feels a strong need to retain those versions that make it sound like divorce was commanded in Deut.24:1-4.  Now, let us look at the wording as it is presented in the KJV:

Deut 24:1-4

1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

(That sounds like a command doesn't it? The problem is that the Hebrew text does not have the apodosis at this point. The expression "then let..." is not there in the Hebrew text. But, that is not the only problem.  Let us suppose that the text actually DID say "then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house".  What would that mean?  Well it would mean that any time we find some uncleanness in our wives, we are commanded (have no choice but to) to divorce her. That is not what the text actually says. The ASV is even more emphatic that  "he shall write her a bill of divorcement". It allows no choice, and it means that we would have to know what is "some uncleanness" in order to fulfill this command. Even these more liberal brethren don't want to face those matters demanded by this rendering.  So, it becomes clear that they only want a certain aspect of the KJV and ASV, and it is a clever maneuver for them to cast doubt on all who would prefer "these modern (liberal) versions over the faithful and trustworthy KJV and ASV.  Those old dependable versions are under "attack", they say.  They don't like those versions on other issues like "hell" in the place of Hades and tartarus, but now on THIS passage, it becomes handy to try to protect those versions and cry foul to those who question the rendering.  Let me caution the reader to be careful about those claims. Now, let us go on with the rest of the passage in the KJV).

2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.

 (Here it sounds like the text is saying that she may permissively go and be another man's wife. Actually, it says "and she goes and becomes another man's wife". In this case it is not saying "she may (permissibly) go be another man's wife", but is stating a fact that she may go be another man's wife. The passage is stating circumstances that may happen, and if they do, the ruling is that he cannot take her back after she has become defiled in that second marriage. Why would Moses say she may "permissibly" go and be another man's wife, and then tell us that she "is defiled" in doing what she was permitted by divine law to do?  She was permitted by society and hardened hearts to do this legally, but God was not giving approval.  God was merely tolerating it).

3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;

(The interesting thing here is that "and write her a divorce" is the same structure in verse 1.  Why would the KJV not put "if the latter husband hate her, then let him give her writing of divorce"?  It has the same structure in both places. Thus, the evidence favors thinking that the KJV and the ASV got verse 1 and 2 wrong, but verse 3 right).

4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. KJV

(Here is the ruling, the apodosis of the four verse contingency statements and ruling.  Now, what do we conclude?  We conclude that the only command is for the first husband not to think he can take her back after he put her in position to be defiled. That would be a greater defilement than God would tolerate).

Didn't Jesus and the Pharisees Agree That  the Divorce Paper was Commanded?


No, all we would have to do is ask where God commanded people to give a certificate of divorce, rather than  just show that there is evidence that He tolerated it and suffered it and regulated it. I would flash on the screen under Matthew 19:7 (where the Pharisees asked why Moses commanded the writing of divorce) verse 8: "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so, and I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery". The Pharisees developed the idea that it was commanded but later had to admit that it was only permitted.  Then, I would flash up on the screen Mark 10:3 where Jesus did not state that it was commanded to give a certificate of divorce, but instead we would just read the verse and see that Jesus asked them "what did Moses command you?" and then we would read the next verse where the Pharisees could not prove that God commanded a divorce with a writing, but we would see that they could only say "Moses permitted..."(verse 4)   Then we would look at the actual wording of the Hebrew text to determine which versions or translations got the structure correct. People can easily see that there was no command there at all and that there was no instructions on how to divorce "God's way". 

When the Pharisees said "commanded" in Matthew's account, Jesus resorted to "permitted".  In Mark's account, when Jesus asked "What did Moses command"?, the Pharisees wanted to ignore what was actually commanded by Moses in Genesis 2 "the two shall be one flesh", but they could not get a command out of Deut.24, so they settled on admitting that that passage only gave a "permissive" statement, not a command. The divorce paper was a long established custom that society established due to hardness of heart.  God did not institute divorce and how to divorce in Deut.24. It was going on as a fact long before Moses mentioned it here. To one brother who holds this idea that the divorce paper was installed here as "God's way to divorce properly", I asked: That practice had been developed by society for years before Deut.24:1-2.  It had been tolerated, but not commanded by God.  Can you tell me where it first got started?  Can you tell where God first commanded it?  Are you saying that there had been no such practice of giving a certificate of divorce, and then suddenly God started commanding it in Deut.24?  Can you point us to the phrase in Deut.24:1-4 where God commanded the writing of divorce for the first time in history?  The question could not be answered, because there is no command to divorce in Deut. 24, and there is no evidence that this is where "proper divorce" was first installed by God.  It had been going on for many years, and this had been a socially acceptable way to do it.  Deut.24 is NOT God now commanding how to divorce properly.


Jesus said the certificate of divorce would only cause further adultery "except if be for fornication".  He seems to intensify the facts that Moses commanded a man and woman to be one flesh and stated that when a man divorces his wife and she marries another "she is defiled" (which Jesus intensifies into our conscience by using the word "adultery"). So, "one flesh" is Moses' command. Divorce was what was "suffered" due to hardness of heart. Remarriage brings "defilement" (except the divorce be for fornication) even though it was tolerated under earthly kingdoms. Those who think the kingdom of heaven is worth more than everything can accept the saying that "whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery".  Those who do not know how valuable the kingdom of heaven is will never be able to accept this saying. Instead they will make up their own traditions of men.  They will tickle the ears of people who are ready to be told that it is all right to put asunder what God joined together providing that you give her a certificate of divorce.  This is the new traditionalism, but it is not God's way.

Terry W. Benton