Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Guilt and Sin Offerings: Are There Types of Sin?

In order to understand the implications of both the Sin Offering and the Guilt Offering I must address two important questions:
  1. What makes a sin a sin?
  2. Are their different types of sin?
As I explore this subject matter my goal is to answer both, to explore Unintentional Sin, Sins of Ignorance, and High Handed Sin, and to provide a more comprehensive view of these two specific offerings found in Leviticus 4 and 5.
  1. What Makes A Sin A Sin?
    a. A careful reading of Leviticus 4 – 6:7 demonstrates that what makes a sin a sin is God's decretive will in stating a thing is a sin. In referencing God's commands as these verses do repeatedly (Lev. 4:2, 4:13, 4:22, 4:27, 4:15, 4:17) this is the only logical conclusion. It also becomes clear that sin need not be an intentional violation of the commands of God, but also encompasses unintentional violations of the commands of Yahweh. What are unintentional sins? These are sins of ignorance; things one does that violate the commands of Yahweh without knowledge of their sinful nature. (Leviticus 5:17). This demonstrates that there are indeed different types of sin.
    b. Not all unintentional sins are sins of ignorance. Leviticus 5:4 mentions “if anyone thoughtlessly takes an oath”, which appears to imply an impulsive act that violates the commands of Yahweh. If we extend that principle to other areas of sin it is very possible that someone could commit an act of sin impulsively, without premeditation to do so, but still understanding their guilt and the fact that the action (or lack thereof) was sinful.
    c. Some might argue that one is not guilty of an unintentional sin; that due to ignorance a material violation may have occurred, but not a spiritual one. However, this view ignores the repeated statements of Leviticus 4- 5:13. We find scripture states that we are indeed guilty. For example, when the Israelites sin unintentionally they are “bringing guilt on the people” (Lev. 4:3), when the Israelites sin as a people unintentionally and “realize their guilt” (Lev. 4:13), when a leader sins and “realizes his guilt” (Lev. 4:22), if any member of the community sins “when they realize their guilt” (Lev.4:27). There are numerous references to guilt associated with unintentional sin in these verses, so the logical conclusion is we are guilty of unintentional sins and sins of ignorance.
  1. Offerings for Guilt and Sin
    The Guilt and Sin Offerings are distinct from the other offerings of Leviticus in two primary ways:
    a. Unlike other offerings (specifically the Peace Offering and Meal Offering), the Guilt and Sin Offerings were not a sweet savor to God because disobedience was symbolically represented in them. Interestingly, post 2nd Temple Judaism sees in the grace of the Sin offering a type of paraclete.
    b. Sin and Guilt Offerings were burned outside the camp. This is symbolic of the fact that God detests sin and all sin separates us from Yahweh.
    c. These offerings imply that atonement is necessary even for sins of ignorance, since these sins required flesh and blood sacrifices. Leviticus 4:3,4 explains the person bringing the sacrificial animal to the priest must “lay his hand upon its head”. This is a sort of passing on of that sin and its guilt to the animal in a wholly symbolic sense. Add to this the clear statements of Leviticus 5:10 and Leviticus 5:13 and the obvious conclusion is that atonement is necessary even for sins of ignorance.
  1. High Handed Sin
    a. A “high handed” sin is an intentional sin committed in knowing defiance of the commands of Yahweh. (Numbers 15:30)
    b. Unlike unintentional sins, both of a personal and national nature, which have sacrifices for atonement, high handed sins had no such sacrifice, nor any hope of atonement. They simply carried a judgment that they be “cut off” since “their guilt remains on them.” (Numbers 15:31)
  2. Conclusion
The Sin Offering of Leviticus 4 is essentially a covering of one's fallen nature, while the Guilt Offering of Leviticus 5 was intended to atone for sinful acts arising from that fallen nature.


*It should be noted that these divisions of sin are reflected in the categories of venial and mortal in Catholicism.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Sabbath: Universal Principles and Specific Applications

The relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament is an all too often ignored issue, perhaps due to the difficulties that arise from undertaking such a study. This article is an attempt to address this relationship by focusing on the Sabbath and its role in the life of Christians today. The fact of the matter is that much of the New Testament is founded upon the Old Testament. From the prophecies of the coming of Christ, His life, death and resurrection, to the very teachings of Jesus, on down to the theological principles taught by all of the Apostles, the Old Testament is the very fabric from which the tapestry of the New Testament is woven. This fact tells us that what is true in the Old Testament is indeed still true today. We will examine scripture with an eye to discerning the Universal Principles. That is, those principles that are not bound by time, place and circumstance, but rather encompass all times, places and circumstances. These Universal Principles are designed to do so because they are predicated on God's Unchanging Character. Thus these Universal Principles govern the lives of Christians today. Our responsibility is to recognize the difference between something in the Old Testament that is a Specific Application (something designed to be limited by time, place and circumstance), and Universal Principles. It should be noted that all Specific Applications, no matter how harsh they may appear, are rooted in either Love of God, Love of Neighbor, or both simultaneously.

I. The Sabbath
The word "sabbath" in Hebrew means "to rest." God commanded the Sabbath to be observed on the seventh day of each week.

"And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made." - Genesis 2:2

"And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." - Genesis 2:3

"For [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the SABBATH day, and hallowed it." - Exodus 20:11

"Remember the SABBATH day, to keep it holy." - Exodus 20:8

"But the seventh day [is] the SABBATH of the LORD thy God:" - Exodus 20:10

II. The Purpose of the Sabbath
A. Universal Principle 1: We are only to work for six days and then consecrate the seventh day to rest, as commanded by God.

"So the people rested on the seventh day." - Exodus 16:30

"Remember the SABBATH day, to keep it holy."- Exodus 20:8



"It [shall be] a SABBATH of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever."
                                                                                                                                     -Leviticus 16:31

"And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made." - Genesis 2:2

"And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." - Genesis 2:3

B. Universal Principle 2: The sabbath is specified as a day of rest in which no servile work is done.

Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day [is] the SABBATH of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work [therein]: it [is] the SABBATH of the LORD in all your dwellings. - Leviticus 23:3

Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed. -Exodus 23:12

Ye shall keep the SABBATH therefore; for it [is] holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth [any] work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. - Exodus 31:14

Six days may work be done; but in the seventh [is] the SABBATH of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth [any] work in the SABBATH day, he shall surely be put to death. - Exodus 31:15

Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a SABBATH of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.- Exodus 35:2

And he said unto them, This [is that] which the LORD hath said, Tomorrow [is] the rest of the holy SABBATH unto the LORD: bake [that] which ye will bake [today], and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. - Exodus 16:23

III. Specific Applications
Specific Applications change or may be dispensed with according to time, place and circumstance. We will now examine the Specific Applications from our scripture quotes.

A. Specific Application 1: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.
This Specific Application is designed to teach us how important the sabbath is to God, and how important He considers it for our highest good. This Specific Application is no longer applicable.

B. Specific Application 2: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.
This Specific Application is designed to teach us that the sabbath is mandatory for our entire family, and all who live in our household. By extension this would apply to employees under our management. We should not require them to work. This Specific Application is still applicable. 

"In those days saw I in Judah [some] treading wine presses on the SABBATH, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all [manner of] burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the SABBATH day: and I testified [against them] in the day wherein they sold victuals."-Nehemiah 13:15 

C. Specific Application 3: "Tomorrow [is] the rest of the holy SABBATH unto the LORD: bake [that] which ye will bake [today], and seethe that ye will seethe;"

This application is designed to reinforce the sanctity of the day and its purpose of resting and relaxation. This application was no doubt used as the pretext for the attack on Jesus and the Apostles recorded in Matthew. 

"At that time Jesus went on the SABBATH day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw [it], they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the SABBATH day." - Matthew 12:1-2

However, as Jesus tells us in a subsequent connected incident, it is lawful to do good on the sabbath, which would include feeding oneself and doing works of charity and mercy.

"And, behold, there was a man which had [his] hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the SABBATH days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, “What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the SABBATH day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift [it] out?” “How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the SABBATH days.”- Matthew 12:10-12

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

SEXUAL PURITY THROUGH CONSECRATION

A Sermon On
I Thessalonians 4:3-7

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
                                                                                                                                          - I Thess. 4:3-7


Paul is writing here to the Christians in Thessalonica who were surrounded by the influences of their previous pagan lifestyles, which included religious practices that made sexual immorality a sacrament. It was a normal practice to have sex with temple prostitutes and even for husbands and wives to engage in adultery as a common practice. And while we don't have quite the same culture today, we're not very far from it. All manner of sexual perversion and immorality are considered normal today. The Apostle tells you just as much as his original readers to avoid sexual immorality, to control your body in a way that is honorable and holy, not in passionate lust like the people around you at school, work, at the gym, or on television. They don't know God, but you do. You can lead a sexually pure life.

How do I do so?

I. Consecration
It is God's will that you be sanctified. The word “sanctification” is from the Greek “hagiasmos”, meaning “holiness” and “purity of life”. However, sanctification itself, though a unique work of God, requires something of us. It requires we make the effort to cease doing evil, and learn to do good. In other words, your part in your sanctification is that you subdue the unholy habits in your life and cultivate principles of holiness. This is essentially consecration. Consecration is an action. It is more than merely a mental assent, or praying a prayer once and being done with it. It is like an athlete training for any given sport. The athlete can't simply say he or she is going to win a gold medal and then sit back on the couch and hope to make that happen without action. The athlete has to train. And training is sometimes difficult. It hurts. Likewise consecration is action, on an inner level as well as external. You see, the spiritual life is real. It isn't just concepts tossed on a page and packaged as suggestions. Consecration is real and you have to put it into action, otherwise you will fail and may even walk away thinking it's impossible or that God somehow failed you. That isn't the case at all. The only failure is that you failed to follow up on scriptural admonitions with affirmative action.

I once saw a hidden camera show where they would secretly follow husbands who were away on business trips at the request of their wives, hoping to find any evidence of infidelity. And as you might expect this show found more than enough evidence that I'm sure destroyed a few marriages. One husband was quite interesting though. The program followed him to the hotel restaurant where he sat at a bar eating his dinner alone. They sent in a decoy- a beautiful blonde model- to tempt him to sin. She flirted, and cooed at him; was provocative and finally asked him to go back to her room with her. The husband looked up from his dinner and said, “You're a pretty girl, but I'm married and I love my wife, so no thanks.” I have no idea whether this husband was a Christian or not, but he certainly exemplified control of his own body and implied he understood at least a basic concept of consecration. He could have done exactly what the Apostle tells us not to do. He could have taken advantage of this woman. He could have defrauded his brother. What is it to defraud someone? Simply put, it is to take something that doesn't belong to you. That woman in the hotel wasn't his wife. She might have been someone else's wife, or in the future she will get married and this husband will have defrauded her future husband of a part of her that was intended for him alone. But he didn't. You see, he demonstrated his commitment to controlling passion and lust for a higher good. He understood the sanctity of his marriage covenant. He had consecrated himself to his wife. And you can do the same. You can lead a sexually pure life.


II. Take Your Thoughts Captive
Now, to maintain this state of consecration and avoid sexual immorality you can do many things. You can get accountability partners, memorize scripture, get rid of occasions of sin in your life, such as computers, certain television programming, etc. However, the most important place to begin is in the mind- your thoughts. II Corinthians 10:5 states, “..we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” There are a variety of things we can do to “take our thoughts captive”, which is where the battleground for sexual immorality (indeed all sin) begins. I'd encourage you to pay careful attention to your thoughts. There is a process to a thought taking root. Sinful thoughts begin as mere suggestions. They can arise from our own frailties and failings, or they can even be suggested to us by the Adversary. Then the thought will proceed to a conversation, where an interest arises in you for that thought. Then you move to acceptance of the thought, followed by captivity to the thought which ultimately leads to manifestation of the sin suggested. You see, sin requires no effort on your part whatsoever, only that you passively accept the initial suggestion, rather than actively rejecting it through consecration.

Consecration then implies we abandon any sense of being a victim of sin. We are not simply prey, unable to help ourselves. You are perfectly able, with the grace of God to live a sexually pure life. Consecration works hand in hand with God's part of the equation, which is sanctification. When we actively engage ourselves in consecration, God will, through the sacrifice of Christ, make us “set apart” unto Himself. So I admonish you to abandon this misguided sense that you can do nothing to consecrate yourself. You can! And through your active participation in your sanctification through consecrating yourself, you are trusting God's Word and promise to you. Anything less is lack of faith.

No I'm not talking about salvation by works. Quite the contrary. The point in observing your thoughts is that it reveals you cannot trust in yourself. You must trust in God alone. This is the entire reason consecration is so necessary.

Allow me to shatter a few comfortable Christian ideas. Consecration is not a comfortable, passive life. It isn't a life where you attend church, pay tithes, maybe have a few spiritual highs here and there with no real demand on you or any substantial responsibility. It is a fundamental change in how we approach God, so that He is at the center and our goal is ever deeper communion with Him. You can live a sexually pure life.


I think it's a truism that if you've not experienced consecration in this life, you're going to have a hard time in the next. God didn't call you to impurity, but to live a holy life.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Vexilla Regis Journal: November-December Issue Now Available!

We've brought you another fantastic issue filled with articles that both educate and inspire, and all promoting the Social Kingship of Christ! In this issue...

• Spiritual Warfare, by St. John Chrysostom 

• The Theological Significance of a Literal, Historical Adam by, Fr. Jack Ashcraft 

• Sensation and Perception and the Role They Play in Interpreting Paranormal Evidence, by Tracy Garnett 

• Defensive Weapons: The Armor of God by, Fr. Jack Ashcraft 


• The Inspiration, Inerrancy, and Authority of Scripture by, Rick Lunsford

• Critical Masses: The Age of Iscariot by, John C. Calloway 

• Weaponizing the Arts by, Paul and Phillip Collins

Get your copy HERE!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Responding To Trials God's Way

A SERMON ON THE EPISTLE OF ST. JAMES 1: 1-4
By, Fr. Jack Ashcraft

In recent news we've witnessed perhaps the most terrible persecution of Christians in recent history as ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq are actively beheading Christians, raping and murdering Christian women, murdering Christian children and taking whatever they might have owned. There is no question that these are trials of the magnitude only experienced previously by the early Christians. James was writing to Jewish Christians facing just such trials. They were persecuted, treated maliciously, and even killed. Yet James tells them to “count it all joy”. And while we might not face trials of this extreme, we all face trials daily and need to “count it all joy” as well.

I know you've faced trials in your own life and have wondered, or maybe even asked God, 'What are you doing?' How do you respond when the ripcord snaps? When the lifeboat springs a leak? When you don't have enough money to pay the bills or put food on the table? Most people don't know how to respond to trials God's way. However, you can learn to do so.You can respond to trials God's way.

What does it mean to “count it all joy”?

Counting it all joy is an objective decision- When you “count” something what you're doing is adding up a series of facts to come to a conclusion. You do this in every day life. When you look at your gas meter in your car you add up the facts of your travel through the week to come to a conclusion as to whether you need to put gas in now or later so you keep from running out in the middle of the highway. Likewise you should be adding up the facts of God's record and coming to a conclusion. What are the facts of God's record? Looking at such situations as Shedrach, Meshach and Abdnego, David being pursued by Saul, and the Israelites coming out of Egypt, you can see his record is impeccable. When you encounter difficulties you need to look not at the momentary trials you face, but God's record. He works wonderful things in the lives of those he loves through their trials. You can respond to trials God's way!

So the logical question is, “Why should I respond to trials with joy?”

“Let patience have it's perfect work”

Beyond the desire you should have to always be in the will of God, you have the promise of your endurance having its perfect work. What is this all about? Trials are opportunities for you to put your faith into practice. In secular terms we would say, “Put your money where your mouth is.” Faith is like training in a martial art or any other sport. If you don't practice repeatedly, going through the drills, working the muscles even when it hurts, you won't achieve the results you could. Trials are opportunities to exercise your faith. You see, faith cannot be exercised without practice, and practice only comes with opportunity. Trials are your opportunity to endure and receive the blessing of faith's perfect work.

And now the pinnacle of this admonition. What is the end result of counting it all joy? What is it that God has in store for you?

“That you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

What does St. James mean by “perfect and complete, lacking nothing”? He means God is at work in your life through these trials to mold you and shape you into the image of His Son. In other words, perfection of the divine character in you! When you endure, exercise your faith and trust that God is working in your life- especially in trials- you have no room for complaining or doubt!

When I was in the Army, in order to complete Basic Training and graduate you had to complete a 15 mile march. This march wasn't a simple boy scout jamboree type march, but a march in full combat gear. You wore your steel pot (helmet), web gear, ruck sack, and carried your M16. I had to carry a few additional items, such as field radio, LAW, and M60. The march was in the middle of summer over difficult rocky terrain. The temperature hit 90 degrees and there were only brief 2 minute stops for water. Along the way I noticed that all the guys complaining, those who grumbled about the heat, the terrain, the lack of rest, the lack of water- these guys started dropping like flies. They couldn't make it through to the end. They were too busy complaining to endure by looking at the end result of all this discomfort. It was those of us who busied ourselves with singing platoon songs and staying positive who endured and graduated. Your trials may be heavy burdens you carry across difficult terrain, yet if you keep your eyes on the end result, you can respond to trials God's way.

How do I start doing that? You have to begin to look at that final result and not at the momentary discomforts of this world. When you catch yourself complaining or grumbling, remind yourself that God is at work in your life, perfecting you, bringing you into the image of Christ. That alone should bring you tremendous joy. These trials aren't curses, but opportunities for God to perfect you so that you “lack nothing”. But you have to change the way you think. You have to cooperate with God's grace to receive the blessing. Change your perspective from that of someone looking through a keyhole and trying to see the whole inner room, to God's perspective, where he can see not just the whole room, but the whole house. It is a conscious decision to trust that God is with you, working on you and loves you. As someone once said, “God loves you just as you are, but he loves you enough not to leave you that way.”


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Historical Adam

I. The Historical Consensus of the Church
Throughout the history of the Christian faith the common consensus has been that Adam is a literal, historical person. So much so that Sacred Scripture actually gives us an age for him at death. The New Testament certainly presents this view (see for example I Corinthians 15:45) and thus, since the earliest Christians viewed scripture as inerrant and divinely inspired this consensus is evidenced in the writings of the early church. For example, Irenaeus presupposes a literal historical Adam in his discussion of salvation and the curse that followed the Fall of Adam.

Tertullian, in writing of exomotgesis also presupposes a literal, historic Adam as the first man and progenitor of the human race. He states,

I cannot easily be silent about that thing concerning which also the very head and fountain of the human race, and of human offense, is not silent. I mean Adam, who was restored by penitential discipline to his own Paradise.” 

The examples from the Patristic witness of the early church are numerous and span all of the Church Fathers. This understanding of Adam as an historical and literal person has informed Christian theology across denominational barriers down to our modern era. Indeed it is a fact to say that New Testament soteriology and christology are founded upon this historical consensus and understanding.

II. Challenges to the Historical Consensus
The consensus of the church on this issue went largely unchallenged (outside of minor philosophical debates or heretical sects such as the Gnostics) until the development of what has become known as Darwinism. Darwinism presented the case against a divine Creator and replaced the historical, literal Adam with the “scientific” myth of the gradual evolution of humanity from ape-like creatures millions of years in the past. In such mythology there is no room, nor need for a historical, literal Adam. Today many Christian teachers, pastors, and apologists, in an effort to accommodate Sacred Scripture to what they perceive as unassailable science, have capitulated on the historical consensus. In simple terms, they have rejected the necessity of the historical, literal Adam. Rather than “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered” (Jude 1:3), they have simply compromised that faith. Jewish scholar Louis Jacobs is quoted as saying, “There is no doubt that until the nineteenth century Adam and Eve were held to be historical figures, but with the discovery of the great age of the earth . . . many modern Jews [and Gentiles] have tended to read the story as a myth.” (Jacobs, L. 1995) For such Theistic Evolutionists, Adam ceases to be a real person, and is instead demoted to a mere symbol of the human race in its infancy. Others, such as Alister McGrath, a popular English theologian, see Adam as a gnostic figure. He claims that Adam represents “human potential as created by God but also with the capacity to go wrong”

These modern attacks on the historicity of Adam are not new (in fact they were addressed even by the Church Fathers), and in their current form find their origin not so much in Darwin himself, but in the work of a Jesuit priest, of whom it can fairly be said that he is the modern father of Theistic Evolution. This Jesuit was a pantheist philosopher and self described paleontologist by the name of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Chardin's philosophy is what can be described today as Scientism. He wrote of evolution:

It is a general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow, and which they must satisfy henceforward if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light illuminating all facts.”

The problems with these challenges are numerous and will be discussed herein not from the scientific viewpoint, but from their theological and, to some extent philosophical viewpoint.

III. The Challenges Fail
In addressing the challenges to the traditional Christian understanding of Adam what must first be stressed is their impact on Christian theology as a whole. As noted, such mythologies (albeit under the name of science) undermine soteriology and christology. Indeed the entire soteriological history of Sacred Scripture is rendered a fallacy if Adam is not a literal, historical person. If there was no Adam, then there is no inherited depravity. And if there is no inherited depravity, then there is no need for a “last Adam”, as Paul calls Christ (I Corinthians 15:45). Even such adherents of Scientism as Richard Dawkins noted this impact on the theology of Christianity.

Oh, but of course, the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic? So, in order to impress himself, Jesus had himself tortured and executed, in vicarious punishment for a symbolic sin committed by a non-existent individual? As I said, barking mad, as well as viciously unpleasant.”

Teilhard stated rather honestly that:

Creation, spirit, evil, God – and more specifically, original sin, the Cross, the Resurrection, the Parousia, charity – all these notions once they are transposed to an ‘evolutionary’ dimension become amazingly clear and coherent.” 

So rather than allowing Scripture to interpret itself, or relying on the Apostolic Tradition and consensus of the church to inform theology, Teilhard (along with the modern Theistic Evolutionists) attempt to view Scripture through the lens of evolution. Teilhard states openly what most modern Theistic Evolutionists rarely ever dare to admit; that is, fusing evolutionary principles with Christian theology produces an entirely different religion- one that collapses and fails in light of orthodoxy. Furthermore, it is one that cannot embrace the inerrancy of Scripture, since Scripture presents an historical and literal Adam.

Consider as well the various genealogies of Sacred Scripture, many of which trace family lines back to Adam. Those who suggest Adam is symbolic of all of humanity face the problem of proving that any genealogy would include a vague grouping of unknown people as if they were a distinct and literal person. Furthermore, if there is no historical Adam then the very genealogy of Christ as given by the apostle Luke (through Joseph) is fallacious as it includes Adam as a literal person, tracing Christ back to Adam through Joseph. (see Luke 3:23) Also, the exact designation of Adam's age at death (930 years in Genesis 5:5) does not fit the symbolic or allegorical hypothesis. Thus to deny Adam is an historical person is also to deny the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture and to ignore all contextual evidence to the contrary. This does not end with the genealogical. The denial of Adam as an historical person also undermines soteriological history. If Adam is not a real historical person then the Law is unnecessary, as there is no substantive foundation for sin offerings.A symbolic literary figure cannot be used to substantiate the very concept of sin with any degree of veracity, as it would merely be one myth among many in the ancient world. And connected to this is the fact that, if there is no need for sacrifice, no foundation for the inherited proclivity to sin (and indeed the concept of sin itself), then Christ, as Dawkins pointed out, allowed himself to be beaten and murdered for absolutely nothing more than a mythical symbol and fallacious theological extrapolations based on that mythical figure. Simply put, one cannot be an orthodox Christian and at the same time deny the historical and literal Adam. Nothing that follows the story of Adam and the Fall means anything whatsoever if he is simply a literary device.

IV. Conclusion
What must be said is that Darwinism exemplifies a sort of scientific gnosticism that reiterates the ancient Gnostic rejection of the historicity of Adam. The fact is that a denial of the historical Adam by Theistic Evolutionists (and others) is a denial of all the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith and the establishment of an entirely different religion masquerading under Christian theological terminology. Such a denial, in pursuit of a synthesis between Evolutionary myth and Sacred Scripture is really just a cheap reiteration of paganism and panentheism more akin to the Valentianians or Cathars than Orthodox Christianity.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Head Coverings and Gender Roles

“Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head."
(Cor. 11:5).

“There is neither male or female, for ye are one in Christ” (Gal. 3:28)

There is considerable resistance, even among so-called conservative and holiness oriented Christians, to women covering their heads in Church, or to use the more common phrase, to women wearing veils. Now, the veiling of woman is an Apostolic command (I Cor, XI:4-16), and hence the attitude of a faithful Christian is one which accepts Apostolic injunctions without question. Let it be clear from the start that the idea that Paul was only accommodating himself to Jewish or middle eastern practice and that therefore such restrictions no longer apply, is a totally post-modernist and relativist concept. Tertullian specifically states that this command applies “everywhere and always.” The Apostle Paul provides us with two reasons for this practice. The first is that “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man… the man indeed ought not to cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man, for the man is not of the woman but the woman of the man.” The second reason, perhaps less explicit, is that a woman should have a cover over her head (‘power’ being an alternate word for ‘cover’) “because of the angels.” The first reason seemingly speaks to the subordinate role of women. Paul however is not concerned with the sexes as such, but rather with higher realities of which men and women are reflections. As Claude Chavasse explains: “the sexes signify eternal varities, and for that reason they must illustrate the qualities of direction and submission. It is not because Paul is a ‘typical oriental’ that he says ‘the head of the woman is the man,’ but because she is the type of the Church and he of Christ. …just as the Church should have no Head but Christ, so the woman should have no head but her husband.” 

The Church Fathers in discussing this issue make it clear that this “subordination” in no way implies that women are inferior to men or in any way limited in their relationship to God. Paul himself says that “in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female.” However, within the social relationship, reflecting the relationship of the Church to Christ, she does have a subordinate position. As Ambrosiaster says “Although man and woman are of the same substance, the man has relational priority because he is the head of the woman. He is greater than she is by cause and order, but not by substance. Woman is the glory of man, but there is an enormous distance between that and being the glory of God.” Severian of Gabala, another early father is even more explicit: “what we are talking about here is not nature but a relationship.” Under normal conditions the majority of women live within the married state. The family is in fact the building block of any healthy society. Those imbued with Progressive socialist indoctrination – conscious or unconscious – no longer consider the family as a norm and whatever loyalties they have are more oriented towards the government, which encourages single parent “families,” same sex “marriages,” homosexuality and a host of parallel agendas. But for the Christian, the family unit remains the norm, and to understand the proper status of women in the married state we should turn once again to Paul, who speaks to this in Chapter 5 of his letter to the Ephesians: “For the Church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all thing. Husbands love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it: that he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life. …so ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself… This is a great sacrament.”

I am fully aware that militant feminists dislike this passage because it speaks of obedience. Yet, under normal circumstances the father is head of the family. In this he reflects the presbyter who is “father” to the local Christian community, and both in turn reflect God who is “our Father in Heaven.” The father of the family is spiritually responsible for those under his care, and following the teaching of Our Lord, he can say: “if you love me you will obey my commandments.” He is of course himself under the obligation of obedience to Christ. He rules the family by “divine right,” – “right” being an older word for “law.” If he rules by other than divine right, that is, if he institutes his own private rules for those of God, he becomes a tyrant. If indeed the head of the family is to pattern his behavior after Christ, the woman should have little trouble in giving him obedience. The end result of such a relationship is that the family itself becomes a microcosm of the Church, or a Nazareth in which the children can grow up “subject” to their parents as Jesus was to his parents. Paul tells us in the next sentence that children are obliged to obey their parents. It will be argued that this is a rather “idealized” picture, but if the normal has become only an idealized picture in our age, this is indeed a tragedy, the fruits of which we see all around us.

The Progressive feminist agenda holds that women and men are equal in everything. It is the subordinate role that agitates and infuriates the Progressive woman. Now clearly justice requires that working women should have equality in the workplace. There is no justification for paying women less or making them work longer hours for the same pay as men. But this in no way militates against the Pauline precept. The Progressive feminist attitude is not entirely modern. John Chrysostom commented in the fourth century that “a woman does not acquire a man’s dignity by having her head
uncovered but rather loses her own. Her shame and reproach thus derive from her desire to be like a man as well as from her actions” (Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians, 25.4). He likens the situation to a governor approaching a king without the symbols of his office, and holds that a woman in covering her head in church is approaching God with the symbol of her office. For those in the Christian faith, the same subordinate role requires their obedience both to the rule and to the superior who is spiritually speaking, Christ. If there is “rebellion” in the family, there is even greater rebellion in the orders, and this very often starting with the superiors who are themselves refusing obedience to Christ. All this does not deny that women are of the same substance as man, but rather gives expression to a relationship between them. As Ambrosiaster says, “man is the head of the woman. He is greater than she is by cause and order, but not by substance. Woman is the glory of man, but there is an enormous distance between that and being the glory of God.” (Commentary on Paul’s Epistles). Augustine further comments that “it is not as though one part of humanity belongs to God as its author and another to darkness, as some claim. Rather the part that has the power of ruling and the part that is ruled are both from God” (Against the Manicheans 3.26.40).

The idea of obedience is of course not without its difficulties. Paul stresses this with regard to marriage. It is forgotten that if obedience is incumbent upon the wife, it is also incumbent upon the husband to be Christ-like. Like a king who rules by divine right - that is by God’s laws, so also the husband must rule as an alter Christus. If he were to rule by his own law, he would in fact be a despot. If then the husband is truly Christlike, then obedience becomes a blessing. What is frequently not realized is that it is far better to live under obedience than to be placed in command. Of course we are all under obedience to Christ, but as is true in any organization, Obedience flows from the “top,” through a hierarchy of authorities to those below. Obedience is not blind and can never be used to command what is sinful. One must always understand what one is obeying.