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fhigham

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Lest We Forget
The Clapham Folley
The Berean Stand Against the Dawn (Clapham)
Is there a state of adultery?

"We have been remiss in the past in keeping the clear simple Scriptural teachings of our pioneer brethren on this subject clearly before the Brotherhood. Perhaps if we had, this sad repetition of 1953 would not be upon us.

I thank God we have at least been forced to face this problem, and to perceive the Pharisaism of running away from reality and the problems of others, and "passing by on the other side" of a repentant sinner, just as if we were not all pitiful sinners ourselves, wholly dependant on the boundless mercies of God." —GV Growcott

I would far rather see the Ecclesia full of genuine repentant and sincere divorcees living with the second partners and all faithfully striving to help one another in the race for life, and putting the past behind them, than to see the Ecclesia full of members married to ungodly and worldly outsiders, with their hearts and minds inevitably half with their alien partners. —GV Growcott2

"Lest we forget — Is there a state of adultery?"

1Corinthians 6:16 "What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh."

Whenever Bro. Growcott and I discussed the subject of divorce and remarriage he would always quote the above verse. He would also remind me that the sin was not so much in the divorce as the un-Christlike problems that existed long before the divorce was manifest. He said: "Divorce of any kind is not pleasing to God", but it would not be so much the divorce that would be displeasing as that which caused it.

Bro Growcott felt strongly that the distinction between the Dawn Fellowship and the Berean Fellowship has not been made clear enough in recent years. In an attempt to follow his advice we are reprinting a few writings regarding this vital subject, "Is there a state of adultery?"

This booklet is due to recent conversations from numerous brothers and sisters who do not know what the Bereans stood for when the Dawn/Clapham Fellowship broke away in 1940 and from brethren and sisters requesting to have this information at this time. We must keep the Kingdom uppermost in our minds where, "In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage."

Unfortunately there are some who do not know what the Berean Position on Divorce and Remarriage is. Quite simply put, it does not go beyond what has been agreed by all Bereans in the Berean Restatement.

The following is as close to a Berean position as any can be made:

Berean Position on Divorce and Remarriage with Regard to Fellowship

Quotes from bro Growcott:

I have no desire to press any aspect of the divorce question. I do not believe it is a matter that should be pressed or agitated or become an obsession. Bre Thomas and Roberts had strong and clear and consistent and scriptural convictions concerning it, but they did not agitate it, or make it prominent, or force their convictions upon others on pain of disfellowship. —GVG to Richard Eccl 1973-06-24

Some ecclesias and individuals are high in conviction and low in agitation. Some are the opposite. So the evaluation of the area of the "offence" on which your reasoning rests is at best subjective and deductive, and not concrete and measurable. I feel as strongly about sisters cutting their hair as some do who keep agitating about divorce. 3

But if I and others do not constantly agitate "offence," who is to measure its relative range and intensity? —GVG to ET 1973-07-04

"The Berean Fellowship has always taken a strong stand on Suing at Law for ANY reason. I cannot say the same about the Divorce issue." —GVG to Snelling 1972-05-09

Question: Are you prepared to remain in fellowship with brethren who do not accept your view of the "exceptive clause"? —Snelling to GVG 1972-05-04

Answer: The Berean Fellowship has never had or taken a fellowship stand on the details of the Divorce issue. I have no desire to force one. I have been in fellowship all my life in the Truth with brethren who have different beliefs on the divorce issue. —GVG to Snelling 1972-05-09

Question: would you agree that divorce of any kind is NOT pleasing to God and should be avoided to the maximum extent? —Snelling to GVG 1972-05-04

Answer: This is a difficult question. Human sentimentality is very strong and natural. The human conception of God's holiness is very unnatural and has to be laboriously acquired and nourished by constant application to the Word. Speaking generally and briefly, my answer would have to be Yes. Reconciliation is always to be preferred to permanent schism, especially if both parties have once had a true relationship in the Truth. Where it has always been a brother or a sister vs. alien partner relationship, the matter is different. Certainly we could categorically say that "divorce of any kind is not pleasing to God", but it would not be so much the divorce that would be displeasing as that which caused it.

And what we would do personally is different from what we would impose on others. There are many things I would not do for many reasons, which I would not presume to tell others they should not do, or even advise them not to do. —GVG to Snelling 1972-05-09

Question: What is the precise Berean view on the subject of divorce? Is divorce forbidden in all circumstances? Is this made a question of fellowship? —Needham to GVG 1975-09-27

Answer: There is no precise, official Berean view on divorce, beyond that which is stated in the Berean Restatement of 1960, that divorce is wrong, and remarriage is wrong. This is as far as we were able, and felt it wise, to dogmatize. These are stated as broad principles, and are not intended to exclude the Exceptive Clause where applicable, and the teachings of bro Thomas. 4

I would say the Berean consensus is gradually moving in the direction of the views of bre Thomas and Roberts that: 1. divorce is permitted for adultery; 2. remarriage is permitted if there has been adultery and divorce; 3. it is wrong to sue at law under any circumstances, including divorce. I cannot claim that this (except #3) is officially established and universally accepted Berean teaching. Some Bereans would question #1 and #2.

I would like to add a #4 which has always been the historic Berean view from the days of bro Jannaway and bro Dowling, but not universally accepted, that upon repentance it is possible to receive back into fellowship 1 as man and wife a couple one or both of whom have been divorced and remarried after baptism, provided there are no particular aspects of the specific case that stand in the way. That is, it is theoretically permissible, but each case would have to be considered on its own merits.

At periods in the past this (#4) has been to some extent in eclipse in some Berean circles, but I believe I can say it is at present rather generally accepted. I feel quite sure no Berean ecclesias would make a fellowship issue of it if another ecclesia, after examination, accepted such a couple and accepted the responsibility for them. —GVG to Needham 1975-12-10 —Bro. Fred J. Higham

"The Clapham Folly"

Thoughts gleaned from this pamphlet on Divorce & Remarriage written in the early 1940’s by Bro. B.J. Dowling.

It appears there are some ideas floating around that marriage after divorce is equivalent to "living in a state of adultery". Brethren in the Clapham Ecclesia, England, believed if a woman had been divorced and remarried she would be living in a state of adultery; such being the case, her only remedy was to put her second husband away because she was, in effect, still her first husband’s wife. These brethren reversed, or overturned God’s command through Moses: "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. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. 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; Her former husband, which sent her away, 5

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." [Deut. 24:1-4].

"The definition of ABOMINATION is ‘excessive hatred’." Thus God hates putting away, yet He hates (even more) the Clapham Folly of "to put asunder and return to her first husband."

In Jeremiah 3:1, Jeremiah writes, "They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted?"

The woman had a former and a later husband. Both were her husbands – at different times – this by permission of God ("And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife." (Deut. 24:2).

Although adultery had been committed, there can be no undoing. Adultery is an act, not a state. Christ stated ," For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. [47] But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" And so we see this is the case with the Clapham brethren: they rejected Moses’ teachings, turning God’s command around, and as Christ said "neither will they believe me". They reject Christ making exception in the case of fornication. (B. Wolfe)

******

Below are quotes from brethren now asleep in the Lord, awaiting the resurrection morn. They have left their words as guidelines for those who would follow.

1884, Mar., Inside front cover of "The Christadelphian": "Divorce is inadmissible according to the law of Christ, except in the case he mentions in Matt. 19:9. Where this case arises, and the parties are divorced, they are at liberty to marry again, both by human law and divine. Objection may be well meant, but it is without ground. (R. Roberts)

1891, Dec., Inside front cover of "The Christadelphian": Question: I have been requested to ask your explanation of Matt. 5:32 & Luke 16:18 in view of your statement on cover of last Christadelphian that marriage with a divorced woman cannot be put in the category of adultery.

Answer: Christ's words relate to divorce for insufficient cause (as was at that time common among the Jews). He recognizes no divorce 6

as lawful "save for the cause of fornication." This severs the bond. Human law recognizes this, and we are commanded to submit to human law where it does not conflict with Divine Law. Where the law recognizes man and woman in any case as husband and wife, there can be no question of adultery. (R. Roberts)

******

Notes from bro. H.A. Sommerville, Lake Ariel, PA. :

7. Jesus showed adultery to be an act which not only is forgiven at baptism, but as he has also shown elsewhere, even after baptism. Matt. 12:31. The Scriptures do not speak of adultery as a "state"

—(H. Sommerville)

******

Excerpt from a letter written by bro. George A. Gibson (Toronto, Canada) co-editor and later editor of the "Berean Magazine":

"We wish it to be clearly understood that we do not support, or condone, divorce by brethren and sisters, and much more we do not approve the marriage of brethren and sisters who have been divorced. Neither do we approve marriages of brethren or sisters with the unbeliever. Nor do we approve the breaking of Divine laws of any nature. But we do approve and extend forgiveness to those who have sinned and recognizing their sin have appealed for mercy and forgiveness, because we know that ‘if we forgive not man their trespasses, neither will our Father forgive our trespasses.’ (Matt 6:17)."

"It is a good thing to be zealous for the truth, and to contend earnestly for it, but let us be careful that our zeal is according to knowledge, and that our contending is for the Truth and not something that has offended our sensitive imagination." (G. Gibson)

******

Excerpts from bro. B.J. Dowling from letters to various brethren 1939, 1940:

"…God has spoken and we dare not reject His word. He has caused it to be ‘written for our learning,’ that divorce and remarriage severs all marital relations between husband and wife so completely, that the woman cannot return to again be the wife of the former husband.

Thus it is written and if any man speak on this matter, he should speak as the Oracles of God, for the Scriptures cannot be broken." 7

"Adultery is an act not a state as some claim. Bigamy is a state.

"Another fact that must be remembered is this: For a man and a woman to live together after being legally married is not adultery; it is a fulfillment of the marriage vows." (B.J. Dowling)

******

Excerpt from a letter by bro. E.W. to a bro. Livermore in Canada, 1949:

This is in answer to bro. Livermore saying, "It is not my invention."

"To this I am inclined to agree with you. At least part of it is not your invention, for part of it was invented in the twelfth century, by Peter Lombard (1100-1160). It was he that defined the "Seven Sacraments", which he introduced into the Catholic Doctrine. And the seventh he defined thus: ‘7. Matrimony was the sacrament by man and woman united themselves in Christian Marriage, which was held to be indissoluble by human authority’" [Ancient and Medieval History by Hayes and Moon, page 624.]

"To this seventh sacrament you agree, and history says, ‘It was not until Peter Lombard’s time that their nature was clearly defined.’ [page 624] So according to history you have CATHOLIC DOCTRINE, and you call it Bible Doctrine." (E. Wolfe)

******

The Divorce Question seems to have so many angles and circumstances that once you get on the wrong path there are many trails to become lost on. Let us not go down the path of The Clapham Folly. Where is forgiveness? (B. Wolfe)

(Recommended reading "The Clapham Folly" by B.J. Dowling.) —Compiled by Bro. Bob Wolfe 8


Next we will reprint from the
Dawn Fellowship just what they hold to be vital points when they separated as the Clapham Ecclesia. This booklet was given to me by my grandfather at my baptism who was one of the few remaining Dawn Ecclesias in Canada. —Fred J. Higham

A BRIEF STATEMENT

CONCERNING

MARRIAGE, DIVORCE, AND

REMARRIAGE

Issued by the Presiding Brethren of

THE SOUTH LONDON (CLAPHAM)

CHRISTADELPHIAN ECCLESIA

JUNE 1940

"Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ" (1 John 1.3).

THE above quotation clearly indicates the exalted character of the fellowship to which we have been privileged to attain, and we trust shall be permitted to continue to enjoy. There is certainly no greater honour that mortal beings can receive than the privilege of fellowship, or communion, with God. It is therefore easy to perceive why, in the Scriptures, so much emphasis is placed upon the importance of maintaining the purity of this fellowship, and of not allowing it to be corrupted by any of the countless worldly influences with which we are all unfortunately surrounded. Constant care and unceasing vigilance are required of the servants of God if this inestimable privilege of fellowship with God and His Son are to be continued to us. It does not need to be emphasized here that this fellowship is dependent upon "oneness of mind" in Divine things: in other words, unity of mind must exist between God and ourselves.

Throughout the history of the Truth, and in fact having its roots right back in the history of Israel, there has always existed the danger that the thoughts and the ways of the outside world might insidiously creep into the habits and the mode of life of the saints (or those who have been "called out" from the present evil world to be the children of God and the heirs of salvation), thus destroying this essential unity of mind in relation to Divine things. 9

"As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man" (Luke 17. 26).

We are undoubtedly living in the days when Christ may be expected immediately to return to the earth, and beyond all question the evil conditions predicted by Christ are now in existence. Not by any means the least of these evils is the present-day attitude of the world towards marriage and its obligations.

Divorce, practically unheard of in the circles of the brethren and sisters a generation ago, is now regrettably a subject which continually presses its unwelcome attention upon the Ecclesias throughout the world. Especially is this the case in the United States of America, where divorce is much easier to obtain than, for instance, in Great Britain, with the inevitable result that the evil is far greater in America than it is here. With the prevalence of this evil existing everywhere around them it was perhaps unescapable that sooner or later the Ecclesias in the United States would be exposed to the danger of becoming involved in the evil.

For several years correspondence has been conducted between brethren and sisters, as well as Ecclesias, in the United States and those in Great Britain, with the object of endeavouring to arrive at a common understanding of the Scriptural obligations of the brethren and sisters towards the subject. It has, however, become increasingly obvious that there is considerable divergence of views upon this important subject; and as the question of fellowship is consequently involved, it has become necessary to call special attention to the matter, and clearly to set on record the Scriptural position in relation thereto.

SECTION 2.

MARRIAGE.

Marriage is, without any question, a Divine institution. This is made perfectly clear in the following inspired statement:

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife : and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2. 24).

That it was the Divine intention that marriage so entered upon should be indissoluble is, we think, equally clear from a consideration of Matthew 19. 8, where, speaking of "putting away" and the permission for such given through Moses, Christ adds, "but from the beginning it was not so.—

We think it has to be recognized that soon after the institution of marriage there began to be a well-defined division between the children 10

of God and the children of men: which division has continued to exist throughout all the succeeding ages. Of the latter class it is recorded that "in times past God suffered all nations to walk in their own ways" (Acts 14. 16). We think it follows from this, that God's mind concerning marriage must inevitably be different in regard to the children of men from what it undoubtedly is when applied to His own children.

We would here suggest the wisdom of avoiding the extreme views held in regard to this subject. It is contended by some that "no marriages apart from enlightenment are recognized by God.— To this we cannot assent, for logically it would mean that a man or woman, having contracted such a marriage and subsequently rendering obedience in baptism, would be at liberty to put away his or her partner and marry again, which is contrary to Scripture. We are equally convinced, however, that it is a mistake to suppose that God regards every marriage in the world as an observance of His own institution. How could it be so, for instance, where the contracting parties are avowed unbelievers in God's existence?

The Scriptures recognize and enforce a great difference between "saints" and "the world of the ungodly," and this difference is, we think, most definitely seen in the respective views and outlook upon marriage by the two classes.

Marriage, where it concerns the saints of God, is placed on an infinitely higher plane than when considered in relation to the world generally, although this does not overlook the fact previously noted, that in its origin it is a Divine institution. If this could be more widely recognized, we feel that much of the present controversy would be avoided.

In the cases of brethren and sisters, marriage finds its highest and fullest expression possible of attainment in our present imperfect state. The vast difference between "the world" and "the saints" is illustrated in the following statements by an inspired apostle:

"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives" (1 Peter 3. 1).

"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" (1 Peter 3. 7). 11

Nowhere do the Scriptures speak of marriage in such a manner when applied to the children of men. Such a union as is here contemplated by the apostle is a pre-figurement of the perfect union shortly to be realized between Christ and his immortalized bride, but this cannot possibly be applied to all marriages since the beginning.

SECTION 3.

DIVORCE.

The position of the Clapham Ecclesia in relation to divorce is, we think, very well known and recognized by all in our fellowship. We hold that a brother or sister instituting proceedings for divorce, so acts in violation of the commandments of Christ and his apostles. For instance:

"Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?" (I Cor. 6. 1).

In the unlikely event of any of our number acting contrary to this injunction, the Ecclesia would be faced with the inevitable duty of withdrawing from the offender.

We do not feel it either necessary or desirable to enter here into a discussion of Matthew 5. 32, and Matthew 19. 9. It is our conviction that neither of these statements provides justification for brethren and sisters of Christ obtaining legal divorce from an erring partner, and we think this is the view held by all in our fellowship.

An examination of all the details of the subject of divorce is not conducive to the upbuilding of the saints in the things of our high calling in Christ Jesus; only where the commandments of Christ and his apostles are called in question is it necessary to canvass the subject.

SECTION 4.

REMARRIAGE AFTER DIVORCE.

It is this phase of the subject which is now the more immediate cause of dissension in the Ecclesias. As frequently happens in these circumstances, brethren who differ one from another have gone to opposite extremes in defining their views.

Firstly, we consider the attitude of some who contend that any who, in the days of their ignorance (that is, before coming to a knowledge of the Truth), had been the subjects of divorce and 12

remarriage, and subsequently coming to a knowledge and belief of the Truth and desiring to be baptized into the Name of Christ, must before baptism separate from the one to whom he or she is so married, if the first partner is still living. It is contended that the alliance following divorce is "unlawful" and must therefore be discontinued.

In our judgment this goes beyond what is required for the reason given under section 2. Whatever God requires, wise men and women will conform to in cheerfulness and readiness, but we do not discover in the Scriptures that God requires us so to act. As previously stated, the Scriptures make a sharp distinction between "saints" and "the world of the ungodly." The saints are responsible to the law of God, but He does not impose this responsibility on those who are living "in ignorance." Where, therefore, such a marriage has been contracted in times of ignorance, we do not find that God requires this alliance to be broken when one or both parties obey the call of the Truth.

The ways of God are equal, and He is kind, compassionate and merciful. For example, Paul shows that a man, on coming into the Truth, is not required to separate from an alien partner, notwithstanding the Divine command against unequal yoking.

This is the merciful provision of a kind and compassionate God; and it is our considered view that, on the same principle, a man who has divorced and remarried in ignorance of God's law, on coming to a knowledge and belief of the Truth may not repudiate the contract which was entered into in good faith by both parties before one or both of them were enlightened. It would be contrary to the character of God to require such a man, on his coming to a knowledge of the Truth, to leave a woman (or vice versa) to whom he has been united, perhaps for many years, with inevitable hardship and apparent injustice to herself and probably also to a family. Therefore we cannot endorse this view.

At the opposite extreme we find views held and advocated which in our judgment are quite opposed to the simple and fundamental principles governing the subjects of marriage and divorce. It is not necessary here to deal with supposititious cases or to raise hypothetical questions. We have been made acquainted with certain known cases which have been the causes of much controversy and division in some Ecclesias, and as far as we know no question arises as to the facts themselves. We do not feel it is necessary or desirable here to set out all the facts of this distasteful matter; reduced to its simplest terms it is this:

"A brother or sister of Christ, having been enlightened by the Truth and brought by baptism under the law of Christ, and having 13

obtained a decree of divorce subsequent to his or her baptism, is such a brother or sister at liberty to remarry during the lifetime of his or her previous partner?"

We believe that all in our fellowship should be able unhesitatingly to answer "No." It seems to follow as the simplest reasoning that the said divorce proceedings being unquestionably a violation of the commandments of Christ, remarriage in such a case is but a further act of grievous disobedience to those commandments. This is made perfectly clear by a consideration of Paul's statement to the Ecclesia in Rome:

"Know ye not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law), how that the law path dominion over a man as long as he liveth?

For the woman which bath an husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he liveth, but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man" (Rom. 7. 1-3. See also Cor. 7. 10, 11, 39).

Assuming now, in such a case as we are considering, that the Ecclesia had, in faith- fulness to the teaching of Christ and his apostles, withdrawn fellowship from those who had transgressed in the matter of remarriage after divorce, what must Scripturally be required of them before fellowship is restored?

Paul, in the passages just quoted, plainly says that such are adulterers and adulteresses. Are we knowingly to admit such to our fellowship? If we do, will God accept them to His fellowship or communion? We think not; therefore our position is an unqualified refusal so to act and thereby involve ourselves in the sin. It is, however, contended that if the parties to the alliance recognize the wrongfulness of their action and are sincerely repentant, we have no right to continue to exclude them from our fellowship. We regard this as entirely unscriptural. So long as the unlawful alliance continues the state of living in adultery exists. Their manifest duty is to "bring forth fruit meet for repentance," and we submit that this can only be done by breaking the unlawful alliance. True repentance whilst continuing in the state of sin is an obvious impossibility. It is futile to talk of the Ecclesia's duty to forgive in such a case; this is not the prerogative of the Ecclesia whilst the offenders continue in open violation of God's commands. We have no hesitation in saying that the Ecclesia's duty in such cases is to withdraw fellowship and to remain separated from the 14

offenders as long as the offence remains. If the offenders feel that to break the alliance is impossible, that is their responsibility, and the Ecclesia should not be involved in the unfaithfulness. In the light of Paul's words we can come to no other conclusion.

SECTION 5.

AN EXHORTATION.

Finally, we exhort brethren and sisters everywhere to awaken to the fact that this evil of unfaithfulness in regard to the responsibilities attaching to marriage, and its related evil of divorce, if permitted to obtain a foothold in the Ecclesias, must inevitably result in the speedy disruption of the brotherhood and all that this involves.

The Truth is a priceless possession; laxity in any matter, but we think especially in regard to divorce and remarriage, must inevitably tend to the lowering and the ultimate abandonment of the high standard of morality required of those who are its custodians in these last days.

"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation bath appeared to all men.

Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world:

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our saviour Jesus Christ:

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2. 11-14).

H. B. Skinner & Co., Ltd., London, S.E. 5.


Feb 26, 1975 —Letter from GVG to his cousin

After I wrote the article [in 1971] you have, I ran across the enclosed. It is some thoughts I got together on the question in the early 40’s when we were first having the trouble with Clapham. It was not dated, but I can tell by the paper it’s on, and the typewriter used, that it was about that date.

Generally speaking, it is just about as I would look at the question today, though it should be borne in mind that this was tentative thoughts of 30 years ago. Some points I would express somewhat differently. 15

I had always hoped and prayed that we would not have to face a case, for I was quite sure a case would split us, however it was settled. I felt if we kept hammering for the high standard, and holding out a strong deterrent position, we might be spared the trauma of a case. I still feel that if a body is sound and spiritual enough, it will be spared many such trials.

I always felt that in a showdown I would not be able to logically take the absurd position of ruling brethren Thomas and Roberts as unsound and incompetent on matters involving fellowship. Logically, such groups as the Dawn should not call themselves Christadelphians, for they have taken a stand that rules brethren Thomas and Roberts as unfit for their fellowship.

I thought you may find some useful thoughts in the enclosed. And it will show that my present position is not at all new, though I did not have it until recently with any strong conviction and consistency. I really never had had time to properly study the question. It was a question I found very distasteful, and which I hoped we would never have to face. Also, as you say, any hint of a suggestion that there may be any circumstances under which divorce might be scripturally justified is likely to be seized upon and torn wide open by shallow minds seeking gratification of the flesh.

***

On the suing at law aspect, I would like to add a few thoughts. The idea of its permissibility, and the argument that to deny it is "setting Paul against Christ" is a (relatively) recent development. Brethren Roberts and Walker were very clear on the issue. The new idea came in with bro Carter, who taught suing at law for divorce, wills and insurance (according to his own testimony in the magazine.) I believe he went to Central from either the Advocates or the Partial Inspirationists (Suffolk Street) and apparently he was brought up with this idea, and took it to Central with him. They were quite sound on this point before his time. That is, sound as to their official stand, though the Pearce-Davies (I am not at the moment sure of the spelling) case hinged on these general principles, and these brethren had their defenders in high places.

Bro Roberts was very clear on this point. Read chapter 18 in the original Christendom Astray. Bro Carter dropped most of this chapter, and he told me the reason was that bro Roberts’ views on suing at law were "too highly colored."

Bro Walker was very clear on it. In the Christadelphian, 1900, p 242, he says: — 16

"From Mt 19:9 and 5:32 we cannot help concluding that the law of Christ permits a man to put away his wife for adultery. But it does not require it. From John 8:1-11 we also cannot help concluding that it would be like Christ on the brother’s part to forgive her.

"From 1 Cor 6 it appears that it would be wrong for a brother to go to law with his erring sister-wife "before the unbelievers" to procure legal separation from her. Rather suffer wrong, as Paul says."

He says again. (Chdn, 1906, p 72)

"Question: Is it lawful for a brother or sister to claim a divorce on the grounds of adultery? If so, could such a brother or sister remain "in the Lord"?

"Answer: Although Christ expressly allows putting away "for the cause of fornication" (Matt 5:32; 19:9), there is no warrant for going into the court over the matter "before the unbelievers," but much the reverse. If separation must occur, the parties should remain as they are."

You will note in all the extracts that bro Roberts is very careful not to advocate divorce. He speaks of handling cases where there is divorce. He is quite clear that where there was adultery, and divorce did occur, then remarriage is permissible. Apparently bro Walker agreed on both points: do not seek divorce, but if you are divorced and there has been adultery, you are free to marry. This latter point is clear from his comment (Chdn. 1905, p 94) on the Melbourne case and its aftermath: -

"Melbourne: The interminable strife over the question of marriage and divorce, raised by the misdeeds of some years ago, has reached another acute state. Bro. H. Gordon encloses a typewritten circular giving extracts from bro Roberts writings on the subject, extending over a number of years. The views expressed, which are according to Scripture and commonsense, regard marriage as indissoluble "saving for the cause of fornication" (Mt 5:32). An extreme party in Melbourne wishes to regard marriage as indissoluble absolutely, and apparently division has taken place."

This makes it clear that bro Walker agreed with bro Roberts. In the extracts referred to (which must be about the same ones we have – I have never been able to find any others), bro Roberts clearly teaches there may be remarriage after divorce for the proper cause. It might not be clear from bro Walker’s other extracts (as above 1900, 1906) that he thought so too.

Bro Jannaway was also in agreement as late as 1920 when he published Christadelphian Answers (see enclosed). He says there can 17

be divorce for just one cause. Couples may separate for other causes, but may not remarry. This exactly parallels bro Roberts’ extract #3 in my two pages of extracts.

In the Detroit Pebbles case (1923), all in this area of the ecclesial world accepted the Exceptive Clause (even Walter Livermore at that time – on his own direct admission to me in writing quite recently). The whole issue was whether the Pebbles should be asked what was the grounds of the divorce that had been obtained (before coming to the knowledge of the Truth). All were willing to accept them as man and wife if the divorce had been obtained for adultery.

As to the application of 1 Cor 6 to marriage and divorce, note that both chapter 5 and chapter 7 are all about marriage and divorce. Yet bro Carter stoutly argued that ch 6, right in between them, had nothing to do with that subject. He argued that if you could "go to law" to get married, then you could surely "go to law" to get divorced. He could see no difference. He apparently had no conception of the significance of the "against another" aspect.

Much love, Rene



fhigham

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Posts: 1,023
Reply with quote  #2 
DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE

G V Growcott (1940)

I can find no Scripture which would justify me in requiring a remarried divorcee to separate. On the other hand I find that in a very similar (but far more serious) circumstance – marriage to the alien, adultery against the temple of God – the state created by the adultery is accepted upon repentance for the sake of the children and in hope of conversion (1Cor 7:12-16; 1Pet 3:1-2).

I find divorce and remarriage unqualifiedly condemned as an abomination to God. I find divorcees and remarried persons styled adulterers who will not inherit the kingdom unless they repent. I find the same thing in relation to marriage with the alien. I find it referred to as whoredom, harlotry, adultery, unfaithfulness, treachery, corruption. I find that marriage with alien was one of the principle causes of the flood (Gen 6:2). I find that from this time forward there has always been strife between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, between the saints and the world, and I find that marriage between the two is the closest bond that good can form with evil, and the greatest cause of corruption and danger to the children of God; the strongest union with the world of the ungodly; the most to be feared and condemned. 18

It was by this that the nations of Canaan corrupted and conquered Israel when every other artifice failed. It was this above all things that Israel was warned against and it was this that brought upon them the worst of their plagues.

The seriousness of the offense is illustrated by the record in Ezra 9—"The princes came to me saying…, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations… for they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands. And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and my beard, and sat down astonied until the evening sacrifice. And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness…and I fell upon my knees and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God, and said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens…And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken thy commandments, which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land unto which ye go to possess it is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth forever: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance for your children forever…Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations?…Behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: we cannot stand before thee because of this."

We find that the remedy they found was this, "Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law".

"And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel, Now therefore make confession unto the Lord God of your fathers, and do His pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives. Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, AS THOU HAST SAID, SO MUST WE DO." 19

Such was the inflexible severity of the law of alien marriage. On the other hand, although divorce and remarriage are never approved, and "it was not so from the beginning" we do find that "for the hardness of their hearts" it was allowed, and even such men as Jacob, Moses, Abraham, David, etc, listed among the faithful, had more than one wife and violated the law from the beginning that "the twain shall be one flesh".

Let us therefore keep things in their proper proportion.

When we come to the law of Christ, we find that God’s abhorrence of alien marriage with Belial, of the temple of God with the temple of idols, still the closest and most intimate form of union with the corruption of the world. The twain, saith he, shall be one flesh.

But we find that God’s treatment of the matter is different, although His displeasure and disapproval are still the same. We find that we are working according to different principles. We are to stay with the unbelieving partner and endeavor to win them to the Truth. Let us note well that the union is still adultery, unfaithfulness and whoredom with the world, but we are, once married, to remain with them. There has been a fundamental metamorphosis in the basis of things. The veil has been removed. That which was seen in symbol is now seen clearly. The patterns of things in the heavens have given way to the heavenly things themselves, which must be purified with better sacrifices.

Sins of the body have given place to sins of the mind as the main consideration. Under Moses, the Israelite who married the alien had to send her away. We do not, but we must go deeper. Passing over the state created by our act of unfaithfulness (in the spirit of 1 Cor 6:18-20, which is Paul’s explanation of this very thing, see verses 12-17), we must purify the mind that lead to the act. This is the all important thing. Jesus illustrates the same thing when he says, Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her in his heart. This is Jesus’ definition of adultery, and it is in the light and spirit of this definition that we must understand what he says about it. God does not care whether we are Jew or Greek, bond or free, married or unmarried, or how we got that way. He is concerned with us as we are now, and the state of our heart. He can wash us from the vilest sins known to man, if we have got them out of our heart. Adultery is in the heart. We can be the greatest adulterers that ever lived, and yet never touch a woman.

As with marriage to the alien, so I firmly believe with divorce and remarriage. The adultery is in the heart and mind. And, as with alien marriage, the sin is in the act that creates the state, and not the 20

subsequent state itself. It is the act of disobedience and unfaithfulness that we must repent of, and it is the condition of heart and frame of mind that lead to the act that we must purify and forsake. When we are married to the alien, and confess our sin, we are not commanded to refuse them the communion that makes us one flesh with them, but we come under the general instruction to "Defraud (apostereo – deprive) ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time." And again "Art thou bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed."

It is the state we are in when we come to our senses. We are told not to become bondservants of men. But if we do, and realize our error, then we must make the best of it. It is no sin to stay in that condition. Rather the sin lies in failing to fulfill its obligations once we are in it.

There are many things we cannot undo, once done. By divorce and remarriage, we have done an injustice perhaps to one innocent person. By another divorce (putting away, separation) we shall only be doing injustice to a second innocent person, without helping the first, for we cannot return to the first. We have obligations to the second once we have entered into the covenant. And 1 Cor 7:5 shows that these obligations do not consist solely of financial support.

Things cannot be returned to their original state. Israel’s contract with the Gibeonites had to be honored, even though it was in violation of a command of God. We may think that inasmuch as God intended the Gibeonites to be exterminated along with the rest of the Canaanites, it wouldn’t matter anyhow. But God thought differently. The contract, sin though it was, had to be honored, and its conditions fulfilled. And there was no sin in fulfilling the conditions of the contract, though the contract was sin.

I can find no passage where the term adultery is applied to the subsequent state. The adultery is always in the frame of mind that leads to the act, and the act itself. I can find no passage that justifies the term ‘living in adultery’ as applied to a remarried person. I can find no passage that gives me any reason to believe that the term is not applied exclusively to the act that creates the state—the act of divorce or "putting away" and the act of remarriage or making a new covenant, which, though unlawful and adulterous, is binding once it made, just as is alien marriage.

I would not feel justified in insisting upon the dismemberment of a family on the basis of what so far I have found revealed on the subject. It does not help either to belittle, or to overemphasize, the attendant hardship upon those separated and their dependents, or the fact that if 21

the separation we demand is not justified by clear Scripture, we are unnecessarily exposing both parties to further temptation (1 Cor 7:5)

***

Briefly, marriage with the alien is distinctly forbidden, and it is condemned in far stronger terms than divorce and remarriage. It is sin. It is corruption of the bride of Christ with the world. It is adultery of the gravest kind. Adultery of the mind and affections is far, far more serious than adultery of the body.

But the state created by the sin is accepted by God and the Ecclesia upon confession, and forsaking of the adulterous mind.

Where is there one passage to prove that the case, in a lesser way, is not exactly the same with the adulterous sin of remarriage after divorce?

I believe if we could only get God’s true perspective of the relative gravity of sins of the mind and sins of the body, we would never receive the alien marriage without requiring separation and at the same time require separation in the case of a far less important sin.

Is not the bride of Christ "one flesh" with him? Does not Paul say, "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This a great mystery: but I speak concerning CHRIST AND THE CHURCH."

This is the real meaning of Gen 2:24. Here are the realities of faithfulness and chastity and "one flesh", and on the other hand unfaithfulness and adultery. These are the eternal things that cannot be shaken. Present marriage is but a fleshly and shadowy symbol, a convenience for the time to perish with the using. Let us not let its petty problems and difficulties loom out of proportion the big responsibilities we have to guard. Let us put first things first, and learn from God’s merciful treatment of the big things how we shall act in regard to the little ones.

***

Every principle of Scripture and reason tells us that it is far worse to be united in marriage to a worldly unbeliever, a continual and intimate influence for evil, than to a repentant believer who is now resolved to faithfully obey God and help us in the race for eternal life. The Scriptures teach us to accept the former condition; where is there Scripture to tell us to disfellowship the second? 22

Bro Jannaway said, Christadelphian 1892, page 7, "God’s estimate of alien marriages was that they were the most potential of all influences in drawing away the heart from Himself (Exod 34:12-16)."

Bro Roberts (Chdn 1875, p 517): "There can be no doubt about the duty of believers to restrict their matrimonial alliances to believers. And there can be no doubt that sin is committed where this rule is transgressed. But it does not follow that being so married – a believer to an unbeliever – the parties ought to separate. New duties come into operation which require them to keep together. Not to speak of their duty to each other and to their children, the law of the land holds them to the contract, and we are commanded to be subject to kings and governors, and the ordinances of man in all matters where we are not called upon to disobey God."

Does not this apply with equal force to remarriage after divorce?

Bro Roberts (Chdn 1891, p 262): "How could a believer of the Scriptural type take the world into the closest of friendship in husband or wife, without being disobedient, AND WITHOUT BEING POLLUTED?…We have the picture of Ezra…The severe remedy of putting away the strange wives followed – Coming on to ecclesial times, we have the same law of separation enjoined … How then could man or woman, aiming to be holy to God both in body and spirit, safely or innocently make themselves one flesh with another that was not so?"

Bro Roberts (Chdn 1897, p 333): "He has violated every principle of the calling to which the Gospel has called him in making himself one with the world in the person of his wife. He has put his will which ought to be untrammeled in the service of God, under mortgage to an enemy of God … He has sacrificed his power to perform his duty by marrying an unbeliever … Such a marriage is a violation of every principle of loyalty of ‘those that are not Christ’s?" "For two, saith he, shall be one flesh" (1 Cor 6:15). Though Paul here was arguing against fornication, his remarks have application to union with those who, not being his, belong to the HARLOT COMMUNITY." "What we do know is that marriage with the alien is forbidden: that disobedience has always been disastrous."

Bro Jannaway (Chrn 1892, p 7): "Separateness from the world cannot exist where alien unions are indulged in."

Bro Jannaway (Chrn 1892, p 47): "Alien marriages are as powerful to lead away from the Truth today as they were in Old Testament times." 23

Christadelphian 1878, p 401: "Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand." (1 Cor 10:8; Num 25:1-15) The sin of Zimri consisted in unlawfully taking an idolatrous woman – a woman forbidden him for divine reasons. And, therefore, he committed fornication. Then if the conjugal relation between the people of God and the alien were so offensive then, is it less so now? If such alliances turned away the hearts of the Israel after the flesh, will they not turn away the hearts of the Israel after the spirit? And if this reference by Paul to the case of Zimri and his erring brethren mean anything at all, does it not mean that for a brother or sister of Christ to marry an alien is to "COMMIT FORNICATION" or as Paul put it in another place, to "DEFILE THE TEMPLE OF GOD"?

Christadelphian 1878, p 468 **Marriage with the Alien – "Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the Lord your God. Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnants of those nations, even those who remain among you, and shall MAKE MARRIAGE WITH THEM, know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of those nations from before you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish off this good land" (Josh 23:11-13) … It is evident that marriage with the alien may cause departure from the truth, and may end in forfeiture of eternal glory … It is almost impossible for any but those married to an alien, to know what a great hindrance a partner is who is opposed to the truth.

Christadelphian 1893, p 264: "The apostle uses ‘harlot’ in its natural sense; but the word has also a spiritual sense, and the principle he sets forth is so applicable to the one as to the other. His question in ver. 15 may, therefore, be paralleled by the following: "Shall I take the members of Christ and make them the members of those who constitute the mother of harlots or her daughters?" The only permissible answer is, "God forbid." Marriage with a member of the apostasy is, therefore, expressly forbidden … To unite that body (of a believer) with one who has not been bought with Christ’s blood is to defile it. And it is written, "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." What is the extent of the defilement arising out of a marriage between one in Christ and one out of Christ? Is it confined to the married believer? No, for he is but a member of the ‘one body’ … To marry such an one, therefore, produces the same consequences as the touching of a dead body under the Mosaic law. That is, a brother defiles himself, and if not purified, he defiles the antitypical tabernacle or temple of God. What is the process of purification? TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT HE HAS SINNED 24

AND TO ASK GOD FOR FORGIVENESS THROUGH THE BLOOD OF CHRIST … To what extent is this process of purification (recorded in Ezra) applicable to Israel after the spirit? In principle, the whole of it, except the putting away of wives. Why is this not necessary? Because God has forbidden married believers to put away their unbelieving partners … God promises to dwell in a believer, but not in an unbeliever. The basis for the fulfillment of the promise is, Be ye separate, Touch not the unclean thing. How then can God dwell in a believer who contaminates himself by becoming "one flesh" with an unbeliever?

***

The case of Ezra sending away the alien wives and children of the Jews was not because they had previously been divorced, but because believers had married unbelievers, showing the greater seriousness of the latter step.

The Law permitted (without approving) divorce and remarriage for the ‘hardness of their hearts’ but even the law did not permit believers to marry unbelievers, or to stay married to them once it was done, as the case of Ezra shows. Shall we permit the more serious of these offences without requiring separation in the other case, where He has said nothing about separation, but only repentance. Would not we, with our natural reasoning, say that for one who has married an unbeliever to show their repentance they must bring forth fruits meet for repentance by putting them away. But God does not ask this. Nor does he ask it in the case of the lesser sin of marriage.

***

According to Clapham, remarriage after baptism is adultery, and must be forsaken. The remarried person is still ‘one flesh’ with the former partner. But on the other hand, remarriage before baptism need not be forsaken, and the remarried person is ‘one flesh’ with the latter partner.

Then suppose: A man accepts the truth. His wife accepts later. After his baptism, but before hers, they are divorced, and both remarry. Then according to Clapham’s clauses b and c, he is ‘one flesh’ with and bound to her, while she is quite legally and acceptably separated from him and is one flesh with and bound to her second husband. This is a very possible case and shows the improbability of two sets of laws on the matter.

But to further show the confusion, let us also suppose the two people that the above two marry also have the same history reversed. 25

That is, were originally married, and were divorced and remarried while one was in the truth and the other out. I believe, seriously speaking, that it would be impossible for anyone to say who was who and what was what, and who was properly married to who, according to Clapham’s clause ‘b’ and ‘c’ which are well intentioned but impossible of logical application.

***

Clapham says, "It would be contrary to the character of God to require such a man (married before baptism) on his coming to a knowledge of the Truth, to leave a woman to whom he has been united, perhaps for many years, with inevitable hardship and apparent injustice to herself and probably also to the family. Therefore, we cannot endorse this view."

At the outset, this is a dangerous argument for anyone to use, because if anything would appear to the natural mind as contrary to the character of God, it is the crucifixion of Christ. We must determine God’s character by what He does and what He tells us about Himself, not what we think He should do. He can compensate for any hardships if they are necessary, and He is the one to say whether they are necessary, and whether they are, or are not, contrary to His character.

But, if this argument regarding the character of God, and the inevitable hardships, has sufficient weight here to rule and the acceptance of the necessity of separation, and enable Clapham to say, "Therefore we cannot endorse it", does it not apply equally to a man who has left the truth, divorces, remarries and then lives many years and raises a family with a second wife, and then sincerely repents of his former errors and desires to return to the truth, the wife and children in this case being just as innocent as in the first case.

Suppose he has married the second wife while he was away from the truth, and she knows nothing about the laws of God concerning marriage and divorce. Suppose she learns of the Truth and desires to be baptised, some years before he repents and desires to return. Would she be accepted and permitted to remain with him? She was married to him before her baptism. She comes under clause c. So she is accepted and goes on living with him as his wife, he having left the truth. But then he decides to come back. He comes under clause b, and so he must separate form her as a condition of return.

If he refused to separate, would you receive him? If he refused to separate, and you refused to accept him, would you then tell the woman she must leave him to remain in fellowship, after you had fellowshipped her for years while married to him? Would it be right for 26

her to stay living with him while he was out of the Truth, but when he wants to return to the truth, to have to leave him because he could not be received back while he was living with her.

Or would you go on fellowshipping her while she continued to live with him, but refuse to fellowship him as long as he lived with her?

***

In answer to the problem on page 5, according to the Clapham clauses, the two brethren would be considered as married to their first wives, while the two sisters would be considered as married to their second husbands, or if it were reversed, both brethren would be considered as married to the same sister, and both sisters would be considered as married to the same brother. In either case, two could be received while living with the other two, but the other two could not be received while living with them.

***

Marriage is a contract for life.

Divorce is a sin, but, if committed, it breaks the contract.

Once broken, it would require remarriage of the pair of them to renew the contract and live together legally.

Remarriage to someone else after divorce is a sin, but once committed, it is another solemn contract, perhaps with an innocent party.

Jepthah’s vow was a sin, and so was Joshua’s covenant with the Gibeonites, but both had to be honored, once made, and there was no sin in the honoring of it, only in the making of it.

***

It is impossible and unscriptural to interpret "one flesh" as inseparable unto death, for the following reasons:

1. We are told "Let not man put asunder" showing that it is possible for man to put asunder (but not righteously).

2. For the "hardness of their hearts" God permitted divorce, showing that His will from the beginning was that they should be "one flesh" and not "put asunder", but that separation of the "one flesh" could be made. He speaks of the second partners as ‘wife’ and ‘husband’ respectively,

27

 

3. God forbade, as an abomination, the returning to the former partner, who had once been "one flesh" and had been "put asunder".

4. The quotation regarding "one flesh" is used by Paul in connection with intercourse with a harlot. I have heard of no one who would interpret this as a lifelong union that could not be "put asunder".

5. Clapham agrees that "one flesh" can be separated before baptism.

***

God decrees that man and wife are "one flesh". This is His Law. But if they break that law by divorce, if man, contrary to command, does "put asunder", a new state of affairs is created, and if they remarry, they have made it impossible to return to the former state of "one flesh".

I believe that the following conclusions are in harmony with scripture, and that they are the only conclusions that are not attended by insuperable difficulties.

1. Divorce is a sin. It is adultery. The offender is an unforgiven adulterer and must be disfellowshipped. Upon an apparently sincere confession of error and profession of repentance, he must be received back. The contract has been broken, and are no more "one flesh" but may remarry each other, if neither marries another in between.

2. Remarriage (to someone else) is a sin. It too is adultery, but it is the intention and act of remarriage that is the adultery, just as it is the act of divorce (not the staying divorced afterwards).

3. Once the sin of remarriage has been committed, it has created a new state, just as the sin of divorce created a new state, and just as the sin of marriage with the alien created a new state. This new state is the result of sin, but it is not sin itself, just as the new state resulting from marriage with the alien is the result of sin, but not sin in itself.

4. Remarriage is a contract. It is an unlawful alliance, just as is marriage with the alien, just as was Joshua’s covenant with the Gibeonites, but still its obligations must be fulfilled, and cannot be evaded, once the sin has been committed.  28

 

5. These things, marriage, divorce, and remarriage can never be undone in the sense of returning to the original state. Only confusion can result in trying to go back part way.

6. The general principle is, In what state you are when you ‘come to yourself,’ so remain and make the best of it, and ‘sin no more’. God will determine your degree of guilt, and whether He will forgive.

7. One thing seems to me to be inescapable. It is impossible to regard remarriage as a ‘state of sin’ and ‘living in adultery’ when committed after baptism, and not before. There is no warrant for any such distinction, and I think this is the fatal error in Clapham’s stand. If it is a continuous ‘state of sin’ it MUST BE FORSAKEN AT BAPTISM. If on the other hand, those who have divorced and remarried before baptism are not considered in a ‘state of sin’ and ‘living in adultery’ but need only repent for the act of sin which created the state they are in, then this MUST BE TRUE of those who do the same after baptism. The guilt is far greater in the case where the knowledge existed, but, if there is genuine repentance, there is no limit to God’s forgiveness. "her sins, which are many, are forgiven her" "Which of them will love him most? … He to whom he forgave most." There is no hint of different conditions in different cases. Sin must be forsaken, whether committed before or after enlightenment and baptism. Only endless confusion can arise from having two sets of laws.

***

Each partner in a marriage is "bound by the law" to the other as long as the other liveth. This is the law. But if the law is broken, a new state is created. The law no longer applies. It has been violated by an act of sin. They are no more "one flesh". Man has "put them asunder" in direct violation of the law that bound them unto death as one flesh.

We have a law to come out and be separate, and not to marry the alien. But if we break that law, it no longer holds us in regard to that person, and we are under a new law to give them their due according to our contract with them, and ‘defraud them not’.

"One flesh" is a breakable law, not an unbreakable fact – otherwise man could not "put asunder". This is the "law of the husband" that is binding unto death unless broken.

*** 29

Jesus was talking to the Pharisees when he expressed the laws of divorce "from the beginning". There is nothing to prove that acts of unbaptised persons are not considered sins when they are in violation to God’s law, though they may be in ignorance of it. Everything proves just the opposite.

A man is a thief in the sight of God if he steals in ignorance of God’s law.

A man is a murderer in the sight of God if he murders in ignorance of God’s law.

A man is an adulterer in the sight of God if he commits adultery in ignorance of God’s law.

(1 Cor 6:9-12).

***

Intercourse with a harlot constitutes "one flesh" (1 Cor 6:16). "One flesh" is "joined together by God" (Matt 19:6). Can a man who has had intercourse with a harlot never be "put asunder" from her. Is he forever after forbidden to marry another?

***

Lustful desire is adultery (Matt 5:28). Adultery creates "one flesh" (1 Cor 6:16) Does one instance of lustful desire prohibit any other marriage?

***

What actually constitutes the "state of adultery?" Is it being married? If so, it is not cured by separation, but only divorce. Is it the actual act of intercourse? If so, if a remarried couple refrained from this, would they be living in a "state of adultery"? Is it both? If it is both, the first argument stands. They do not cure it by separation. Only by divorce.

Clapham says they must "break the unlawful alliance". Booklet, p 11, para 2. Does separation break the alliance, or is divorce necessary?

***

A QUESTION: Adultery is unfaithfulness to another. Does this not prove that the first wife is still considered as the real wife? Could it be called adultery if the first marriage is already broken?

THE ANSWER: - Adultery breaks the marriage. The term adultery is applied to the whole act of divorce and remarriage as a unit. 30

***

 

fhigham

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Reply with quote  #3 

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE (cont.)

The insurmountable barrier to Clapham’s position is this: If the second marriage is "living in adultery", then remarried partners must, at baptism separate. How can we get around this? We cannot. It is a stone wall, and we keep coming back to it. If Clapham is right on this point, they force us to accept Walter Livermore’s position. It is the only logical one.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as ‘living in adultery’ (I am not now taking into consideration promiscuous harlotry, or more than one man having continuous dealings with the same woman – that would be ‘living in adultery’).

I do believe that remarried persons are living in a continual state of being unforgiven and unrepentant adulterers.

The patriarchs, having more than one wife, were not living in adultery. Their state was not wholly pleasing to God, but it was regular and legalized; it was not adultery. Neither are a man and woman who have been divorced and remarried "living in adultery". They are living in a state which is the result of adultery, just as are those who marry out of the Truth.

I believe that when a couple who have been remarried come to a knowledge of the Truth, they must confess that in the sight of God they have committed adultery by their marriage, not that they are now living in adultery. They are living in a perfectly regular and acceptable state, though they are still unforgiven adulterers.

I believe the same of those who marry out of the truth, and I believe the same of those who divorce and remarry after baptism. God is not a respecter of persons and I believe the same uniform law and conditions hold good throughout. The guilt of sin is increased by the amount of knowledge possessed, but the consequences are the same throughout.

God treats those who are married to the alien just the same if it is done before baptism or after. The consequences are the same, although the degree of guilt varies.

So I believe God regards those who commit adultery by divorce and remarriage both before and after baptism.

We cannot have two laws as Clapham does (clauses b & c) because it is quite possible and probable to encounter both types in the same case, that is, one partner in the truth, and the other out, and the application of two laws here works impossible. 31

Forgiveness is complete regardless of the magnitude of the guilt. If it is possible in the one case for God to forgive without requiring separation, it is just as possible in the other, and it is wholly unreasonable, and without proof, to say that something else is necessary as ‘fruits meet for repentance’.

The magnitude of guilt by reason of knowledge is no barrier to the forgiveness of God, if the conditions of mind and heart warranting it are present. Nor does the magnitude of the guilt alter His laws regarding the matter. The repentant frame of mind is the whole thing in both cases.

Either Walter Livermore or Bro Dowling must be right, for they alone are consistent in their position. Clapham, I believe, disproves itself. If they are right in clause b, they prove that Walter is right. If they are right in clause c, they prove that Bro Dowling and Bro Jannaway are right, but in either case it seems to me that they prove themselves to be wrong.

I am not prepared to accept Walter Livermore’s stand (though his writings are on the whole the most logical and reasonable and considered and temperate of anything I have read on the subject, and he is one of the very few that have not changed their ground) because I cannot share his view of the inseparability of the "one flesh".

I believe it can be put asunder, but NOT RIGHTEOUSLY. If it cannot, there is no point in forbidding it. We are married, and become "one flesh". Then we go into a harlot and become "one flesh" with her (1 Cor 6:16). We could do this repeatedly. Is the "one flesh" in each case an eternal and inseparable thing. One flesh cannot be so stressed to extremes.

I believe the whole secret lies in the fact that "one flesh" cannot be separated – RIGHTEOUSLY, but it can be separated.

And I believe it can be reconciled. I believe it can be reconciled after unfaithfulness and whoredom, but not after a new marriage covenant has been entered into. I am not fully established on this point (and it is not an important one) but it is based upon Deut 24, the symbol of Ezekiel and Hosea, and 1 Cor 6:27.

There is a difference between adultery and remarriage (although remarriage includes adultery). Adultery is not a covenant. Remarriage is. Adultery does not made reconciliation impossible. Remarriage does.

God hates putting away (Mal 2) but here the context shows that the putting away is treachery (margin: unfaithfulness) – not the subsequent separation by the innocent from the unrepentant guilty. It is the 32

unfaithfulness that ‘puts away’ and breaks the ‘one flesh’. Therefore Christ said, If you put her away except for fornication, you cause the adultery, but if it is for fornication, she has already broken the ‘one flesh’.

I believe unfaithfulness breaks the ‘one flesh’ and releases the innocent person from continued contamination with the guilty. Otherwise, if one partner goes astray to harlotry, the other would be forever bound as "one flesh" to a harlot – the temple of God bound to the temple of idols.

The "one flesh" must be dissolved when one partner becomes putrid and corrupt, or how is the separateness and purity of the other to be preserved? Doth not nature teach you? If your hand (your flesh) offend you, cut it off.

But still they should remain unmarried – hoping for a repentance and cleansing of the other. Let them remain unmarried, or let them be reconciled. I think that Walter makes this beautifully clear as he traces the obvious and perfect connection between Matt 19:3-9 and the immediately following verses, 10-12. I had never seen this before.

God will be reconciled to Israel and become her Ishi (husband) and the land shall again be Beulah (married) to Him although their corruptions and whoredoms and adulteries have been legion, and they have been one flesh with many adulterous nations.

And Hosea took back his unfaithful and adulterous wife, as a symbol of the love and forgiveness of God to Israel.

***

I believe Clapham and Walter err on the same point – the inseparability of the "one flesh". The Law hath dominion is built upon this one idea. It takes it for granted, and its whole case stands or falls with it. But whereas Walter is temperate and analytical and logical, I am afraid that Clapham is not. In fairness, it must be said that Clapham is not the greatest offender in this respect, however.

***

I agree with Walter Livermore, and I can’t see how it can be denied, that God’s laws from the beginning (not the Law of Moses) apply to all His creation. The law in Genesis 2:24 has no limitation.

"All have sinned" and "sin is transgression of law" – "Where there is no law there is no transgression". Therefore, if all have sinned, all must be under law. 33

Otherwise what sins are forgiven at baptism? Sins against God’s universal laws, committed in ignorance. "God commandeth all men everywhere to repent" – to repent of what?

Jesus, when speaking of "one flesh" was speaking to the Pharisees (not about the Law of Moses which modified that universal law ‘for the hardness of their hearts’) but about the law "from the beginning". He says, for all men and all time, "WHOSOEVER …

"Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her" (Mark 10:11-12).

How, asks Walter, could he commit adultery against her by remarriage, if the putting away dissolves the first marriage?

This at first appeared to me to be a good and strong point. If the second marriage is adultery against the first wife, surely this must mean that she is still considered his wife.

But think a minute. There are two lines of reasoning which show that we cannot build too much on this, although I was hoping it would be a starting point for a new perspective.

1st: It is the ‘putting away and marrying another’ that is the adultery. That is, the adultery against her is not committed after the putting away, as Walter’s reasoning would necessitate. The putting away is part of the adultery. The whole thing is the ‘adultery against her’, starting with the conception in the heart.

2nd: But there is another point altogether, which changes the whole complexion. This is the only passage where it is said, "He committeth adultery against her." The natural assumption is that the "her" is the first wife – I have never heard anyone suggest anything else – but when we come to look into it we find it unmistakably means the second wife – the "another" whom he marries.

The Diaglott says, "Whoever shall dismiss his wife, and marry another, commits adultery WITH her," meaning obviously the second woman.

The word translated "with" (epi) when used with an accusative as it is here, is also translated "to, upon, on, unto, at, among, over". Where it is translated "against" as in this case in the AV, it always appears to refer to the direct agent or recipient of the action.

I believe an examination of this passage, and the uses of this word, shows conclusively that it is the second woman to, upon, or unto or with, whom the adultery is committed. The same word (and with an accusative) is used in verse 16, same chapter, "He put his hands upon 34

them." Also in Matt 1:16, "Lighting upon him", again, "Take my yoke upon you."

With the accusative, epi is translated "against" 33 times, and "in, into, on, over, to, unto and upon" 354 times.

***

Walter Livermore quotes a case where a man is considered legally divorced in Michigan, but a bigamist in Ontario, where he is arrested on this charge. If he were a brother, what would we do? Clapham cannot answer, because it has already conceded half of Walter’s argument, and should logical concede the other half. If the man was a brother before his remarriage, it would agree with Walter in handling the case, and also with the Canadian government. However, if he were remarried before he was baptised, Clapham would take issue with Walter over the necessary ecclesial attitude, and would side with the Michigan legislature. What shall we say?

First, we are under God’s laws, and man’s. We must obey both whenever possible and God’s at all times.

The pair had broken God’s law when divorced in Michigan, obviously not for adultery, or Canada would recognize the divorce. God’s law had been broken again, when the man remarried, also man’s law in Canada. What is necessary?

First to get right with God. Repentance for both sins of divorce and remarriage. Now God’s laws permit divorce (separation, putting away, bill of divorcement) for unfaithfulness. And all man’s laws (except the Pope’s) permit this, too. Here is no disagreement. God’s law neither requires nor permits going to law. Divorce in God’s sight does not require this, and it is not necessary to satisfy the laws of men, because God does not sanction remarriage anyway. To God they are divorced. To man they are separated.

The Canadian laws would not recognize the first divorce in Michigan (nor would the Pope). But when the man had married again, this second sin had, in the sight of God, established his divorce as actual (though not righteous). He was no more one flesh with the first wife. He could not go back.

And God recognized the second marriage as actual, though not righteous – both acts cutting him off from God and requiring sincere penitence before he could be received back.

But if the man wanted to live in Canada, he would have to separate from the second woman to satisfy Canadian laws, for we must be 35

subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake. He had sinned both against the laws of God and against the laws of man. Man was not concerned with his frame of mind and heart. God was. Man, on the other hand required a different form of satisfaction.

Man’s requirements are often more exacting than God’s. If we steal, and truly repent, God says, "Steal no more," and receive us back. This is not enough for man. We would have to pay the penalty and go to jail. God does not even require restitution: man would not be satisfied with restitution – we should still have to go to jail.

If we repent of adultery, God says, Go and sin no more, but in some places under man’s law, adultery is a punishable offence, and again we would have to go to jail.

In Germany a German may not marry a Jew. Suppose a believing German married a believing Jew. Would God recognize their marriage? Of course. But if they went to Germany, would Germany recognize it? They would not, but would say it was invalid as racial pollution and adultery. Therefore if the couple chose to live in Germany they would have to live apart in conformity with the laws of man under which they were.

Doubtless there were places in the earth in David’s time that forbade a man to have more than one wife. This is almost a universal law at present. What would David have to do if he went to those places? He would have to obey their laws and limit himself to one wife.

The laws of man are so varied that it is very possible and easy to imagine many cases of confusion such as Walter quotes. The only thing we can do is try to satisfy both God and man, and be sure we do the first. Beyond that we can only do our best and take the consequences.

Walter’s conclusion about the confusion of fellowship that would result does not present an insurmountable difficulty. No one would fellowship the man if he chose to live in Canada as a bigamist and adulterer in the eyes of Canadian law. No one would refuse to fellowship him if he fulfilled God’s requirements, and chose to live in a place where his state was not obnoxious to the laws of man, or else, if he could, change the state.

We could not refuse to fellowship David, with all his bloody past and many wives, if he presented himself to us as fulfilling all the present requirements of fellowship. The past is dead. The past is nothing. In whatsoever state you are, serve God, and be content. Be right with Him now in your heart. The past can’t be undone, but "Sin 36

no more". "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be whiter than snow". The deepness of the dye presents no difficulties to God.

What if the extreme case came up of having among us a couple who had been previously married to each other and were now married to other people? This could easily happen under Clapham’s clauses anyway. It is their present attitude and position before God that counts. We are all sinners, washed in the blood of Christ. The flesh is nothing. It is corrupt from beginning to end. We have all failed miserably. "Such were some of you", says Paul, after listing some of the worst excesses of the flesh, "but ye are washed, ye are sanctified by the blood of Christ."

Perhaps the polite world looked with scorn and loathing at Paul’s unreserved fellowship of these erstwhile degenerates. We know they so looked on Christ. But God, and the children of God, look on the heart. "Let him that is without sin among you cast the first stone."

I would far rather see the Ecclesia full of genuine repentant and sincere divorcees living with the second partners and all faithfully striving to help one another in the race for life, and putting the past behind them, than to see the Ecclesia full of members married to ungodly and worldly outsiders, with their hearts and minds inevitably half with their alien partners.

No one seems to foresee and dread the latter eventuality, if we, as we are commanded, receive back these adulterers with the world without requiring them to separate from the worldly alliance.

But we must erect a manmade barrier against the first happening. The only consideration should be, does God require it? If not, we have no right to, whatever we fear the consequences to be.

It is God’s truth, and God’s ecclesia. If we do what He requires, He will see to the safety of His own.

People that are held from sin by the fear of ostracism, and encouraged to sin by the removal of this fear are not material for God’s building. The true ecclesia of God contains none of such, and an ecclesia whose members are restrained only by fear has nothing to live for. Fear will never give us the power to overcome the flesh. It will only drive it underground to fester. We must have love and zeal, and love does not need bars and gates. It is held to the path of truth by an irresistible attraction. If love is present, we have nothing to fear. If it is not, nothing will help us, whatever fearful restrictions we make in our anxiety to restrict where we cannot persuade. —G.V.G. 37

Approximately 30 years later in 1971 Bro. Growcott began his in depth article on Divorce and Remarriage with these words referring to the beliefs and statement by the Dawn Clapham.

What does the Scripture Teach about Divorce and Remarriage?

July, 1971

Dear brethren and sisters of the Berean Fellowship

This is an urgent and fervent plea for unity on the sound basis of the teaching of our pioneer brethren Thomas and Roberts and the whole Christadelphian Brotherhood from its very beginning down to at least the 1920's.

About 30 years ago, a new theory on Divorce and Remarriage was introduced, and laid down as a law and a first principle that all must subscribe to. Faithful brethren of that day - bre. Dowling of Worcester, Gwalchnai of London, Sommerville of Hawley, and others - perceived the destructive and unscriptural implications of this new theory, and fought against it.

Some of us, being young and inexperienced, did not realise the danger of this new theory, and we did not fully appreciate the great efforts the more experienced brethren, some of whom had been personally associated with bro. Roberts, made to oppose it.

A doctrine that locks the door (in all practical senses) on a repentant sinner - this is a terrible doctrine, an impossible doctrine. It is a doctrine of well-meaning people completely out of touch with life and reality and the true spirit of Christ. It is a doctrine of people who do not understand the whole instructive, developing, transforming, educating purpose of our present existence. It is a panic reaction that the corruptions of the world are going to overwhelm us. This danger is always very real, but the safety and solution is not in new and unscriptural rules, but renewal of our inner life and personal dedication.

If we approached even approximately close to the fulfilment of the divine requirements for the Bride of Christ, we would need have no fear from the danger and example of re-admitted and repentant sinners, however weak in the faith they might be.

We have shut our eyes to reality, to human needs. This is why we have dried up spiritually. When the original living fire and internal 38

first-love strength of a community starts to dry up, it has to raise harsh barriers to keep the world from being sucked into its vacuum.

Sadly, I find very many Christadelphians more ready to condemn and expel than to take the trouble in compassion to disturb their own comfortable little lives and to actually put aside their own interests and pleasures and get out and really try to help the weak, and share their burdens and problems and sorrows. This has been a great source of shame, embarrassment and distress to me.

We have been remiss in the past in keeping the clear simple Scriptural teachings of our pioneer brethren on this subject clearly before the Brotherhood. Perhaps if we had, this sad repetition of 1953 would not be upon us.

I thank God we have at least been forced to face this problem, and to perceive the Pharisaism of running away from reality and the problems of others, and "passing by on the other side" of a repentant sinner, just as if we were not all pitiful sinners ourselves, wholly dependant on the boundless mercies of God.

I thank God that faithful brethren proclaimed and defended the true principles of forgiveness and reconciliation, even when I could not clearly perceive them myself, because of inexperience in the spirit of Christ and the realities of life…

[Between these paragraphs Bro. Growcott answered Bro. Randell’s points — The complete article is available on request]

… These basic truths should again be re-emphasized in closing:—

Marriage is for life: to break it is a very serious sin — an "abomination."

Going to law against another for any reason (including divorce) is a very serious sin against the deepest principles of Christ's law in Matt. 5-7.

Divorce and remarriage are evils, and are to be utterly avoided as long as there is any possible hope of scriptural reconciliation. (On this point, the Berean Restatement was never meant to contradict the consistent stand of the early Brotherhood in harmony with the teachings of bre. Thomas and Roberts. I can testify personally to this as I had the most to do with it. It went just as far as the Brotherhood chose to go. There are many who would never have accepted it if they had understood it to repudiate the convictions of bre. Thomas and Roberts and condemn them and their beliefs to disfellowship.)

* * * 39

We all have much to learn about spiritual things, about what love and compassion really are and really call for in help and service to the weak and straying. This present problem and controversy is to teach us many things, if we will face it and learn. At best we perceive the divine beauty of the Christ character as through a glass darkly. We are all, like the unconverted Paul, self righteous Pharisees at heart, especially if we are, or fancy ourselves to be, zealous for "purity" -- that is, other people's purity. If we were so zealous for purity in ourselves - real deep-down purity of heart and thought and emptying of self and of service unto others - purity from all the daily-repeated ugliness and selfishness of the flesh - what divine and heavenly places the ecclesias would be!

* * *

Finally, beloved brethren and sisters, may I very strongly urge this. It is much easier, and more exciting, and more spectacular, to break down than to build, to scatter and stampede a flock than to gather it together in love. We have laboured together for years to build.

Before you support any new movement to break up the Berean Brotherhood on this the very verge of the Master's return, give to the convictions of our bre. Thomas and Roberts all the weight which their deep knowledge, and spirituality, and lifelong service to the truth, deserve. If they were wrong in vital matters of fellowship, what hope have we, who depend on their God-provided help so greatly. Could we write Eureka, or Elpis Israel or Christendom Astray? Look at the puny efforts of all who have tried to supplant them.

These brethren were not ignorant men, they were not changeable men, they were outstandingly consistent men, stable men, and they left a consistent record throughout lives of complete dedication to the service of the Truth. They did not (in the words of this article), "Seek to subvert God's Word to satisfy their own desires or to excuse some close to them."

On the contrary, they were spiritually minded men, deeply versed in the true spirit of the Scriptures; they were compassionate and realistic men. They had no emotional orthodox fetishes about marriage. They recognised that God who appointed marriage could regulate as He chose, and as He did in such a great variety of ways in the past, clearly manifesting that He was not blindly bound to the technicalities of His own ordinances, but adjusted them to man's needs in wisdom and in love.

These brethren recognised that God alone could solve its problems and promulgate its laws to bring the greatest good and least evil out of 40

what is simply a passing provision for the present weak, stumbling mortal existence —

"In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage."

Do not be misled into an unsound position that rejects these brethren and all who believe like them as unfit for fellowship. Consider their teachings, and the teachings of Scripture, prayerfully and with an unbiased mind. Let us examine the processes of our own thinking, and free ourselves as much as possible from blind and unreasoning emotion, and from fetishes and prejudices unconsciously absorbed from worldly and orthodox sources.

I for one deeply value, and daily thank God for, the providentially-provided help and guidance of these two brethren, apart from whom I would never have known the glorious saving Truth of God, and I stand with them until the end. —G.V. Growcott, July, 1971

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THE CLAPHAM FOLLY

 

INTRODUCTION

During the last few years it has become painfully evident that the Clapham Presiding brethren have nursed the fond ambition to become an ecclesiastical Supreme Court to settle all matters of doctrine and to decide all questions that might arise in the Household of Faith and, moreover, that all brethren and sisters in their fellowship in all countries would be compelled to wholeheartedly and unreservedly accept their decisions on pain of excommunication.

However, the old adage is still true: "Ambition is like a kite it cannot rise in a calm", therefore, the wind must increase.

A ripple was observed in the Los Angeles ecclesia which afforded the needed opportunity for Clapham. They fanned the breeze. Exciting letters followed each other rapidly and even the cables that lie on "the bed of the deep, where the hurricanes sleep" were used to waft the newly-found wind of doctrine beyond the seas. - Ephs. 4:14.

However, as there is now an ominous lull in the breeze, some brethren have thought the time opportune to briefly point out the dangerous tendencies of the few arguments (mostly assertions) used to sustain the crochet by which the Clapham Presiding brethren hoped to reach the goal of their ambition. Hence, the following pages.

B. J. D.

 

 

THE CLAPHAM FOLLY

I have before me a copy of a very interesting and instructive letter addressed to the Recording Brother of the Los Angeles ecclesia and signed by Brother F. E. Wood on behalf of the Clapham Presiding brethren of the year 1933.

It is dated December 5th of that year and is a companion letter to one dated September 15th, 1933, written by and addressed to the same persons as the letter before me. The September letter has already been published in our booklet "The Clapham Change". Both letters deal with the same subject, namely: Divorce and Remarriage. One is a signal to the other and in the December letter, the Clapham Presiding brethren give further advice (as requested) as to the course to be pursued in the case of one who had been guilty of the sin of Divorce and Re-marriage but after some years had become repentant and was seeking forgiveness and the helpful benefits of ecclesial association and fellowship.

These well-beloved, unpretentious and well-informed brethren of 1933, after expressing their dislike of any contentious discussion of such a subject as Divorce and Re-marriage which they styled "unsavory and debasing" went on to say, and I quote as follows:

"As, however, in your letter you cited a specific case we commented accordingly.

The matter to be investigated is the present state of mind of the person applying for refellowship. In our experience it is invariably  because that where a person applies for refellowship to an ecclesia which IS based on rigid adherence to the commandments of Christ both in letter and spirit, the person concerned has done everything  possible to put himself or herself in a right position before applying for refellowship. This fact, of course, does not absolve us from the responsibility of closely investigating the motive prompting the application for refellowship.

In our opinion there is a very close parallel between marriage. with an alien and re-marriage after divorce. Both are equally reprehensible in the light of Scripture teaching but we must beware of 'judging before the time comes'.

We assure you our object is to be constructive and not contentious merely for argument's sake, and would deal with the specific case you have on hand in the spirit of Christ, and then direct our attention and energy to the deeper and more ennobling things of our most holy faith.

Sincerely your fellow labourers in Christ's service,

For and on behalf of the Presiding Brethren of the Clapham Ecclesia,

 F. C. WOOD,

Assisting Recording Brother.

Brother T. Lloyd-Jones,

Recording Brother: Los Angeles Christadelphian Ecclesia,

 Los Angeles, California."

__________________

The Clapham Presiding brethren of the Berean fellowship of 1933 were "more noble" than those of 1940-41, inasmuch as they have shown by their letters that "they searched the Scripture daily", and therefore were better qualified and more competent to "expound the way of God more perfectly", on the subject of divorce and remarriage, than their brethren of the later date, who simply say, "we think" and "we believe". - Acts 17:11 and 18:26.

If they were not all "wiser than their foes" who now repudiate and denounce their teaching on this matter, the majority certainly were. Casting reflections upon the memories of the deceased will not add to the prestige of the present incumbents of the chair. There were a few among the Clapham Presiding brethren of 1940, who for some reason exhibited an excessive eagerness and unbounded determination to cause dissension and bring about division over this "unsavory and debasing subject".

Obviously, because of this, a few who should remember, found it expedient, in order to keep themselves within the fold, to say, they had no recollection of the letters of 1933.

But fortunately, there are many on both sides of the ocean who have a distinct recollection of the Clapham attitude toward this matter in 1933, and several have copies of their letters.

This thing was not done in a corner as some would insinuate and it is a mean and unworthy act to intimate that it was. Why not acknowledge the facts and admit that Clapham has changed? What folly to deny this fact as the Clapham editor does.

Of course, if the Clapham Presiding brethren have an impelling desire to make new articles of faith for themselves and those for whom they do the thinking; they are quite within their rights, having the same liberty as others to do so.

But when they insist that their so-called "advanced thinking" must be "wholeheartedly endorsed" by all in their fellowship, then it is that they go beyond our Statement of Faith, and we have no other alternative than to respectively decline and with the Lord's help continue to walk in "the old Paths".

Clapham's course in this matter reminds us of Butler's famous lines concerning the Churches:

"What makes all doctrines plain and clear,

About two hundred pounds a year,

And that which was proved true before,

Prove false again, two hundred more."

The last two lines minus the words "two hundred more" truthfully describes Clapham's position, for that which was proved true in 1933, in 1940 they attempt to prove false again.

Just what the unworthy motive was, we cannot positively determine, but we know there must have been some ulterior and compelling reason for such a right-about-face movement.

Some have intimated that the sole inducement for the change was the belief that it would pave the way for a new magazine - one tnat would be the mouthpiece, not of 160 ecclesias, as the Berean Christadelphian was, but rather the mouthpiece of one ecclesia and that must be the Clapham ecclesia.

Other ecclesias would be required to wholeheartedly "approve their sayings" and no difference of opinion as to the correctness of their sayings would be tolerated.

This, of course, would facilitate the early development of an hierarchy that would lord it over God's heritage.

It would also destroy that "ecclesial independence" which Bro. Roberts (who foresaw this evil) so urgently pleaded in the "Ecclesial Guide" and other works. However, be the motive what it may, one thing is certain, the kindly and helpful words of the unassuming and unpretentious 'Clapham Presiding brethren of 1933, form a striking and pleasing contrast to the preremptory demands of those who occupied the chair in 1940. Concerning the letter, it may be said, "This their way is their fol1y". - Ps. 49:13.

 

GOD'S WAY OF REASONING

"Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be as crimson, they shall be as wool." - Is. 1:18.

To reason is to mentally discriminate and distinguish between facts concerning persons, things and conditions so as to arrive at conclusions in accordance with all the facts.

To reason accurately every circumstance must be taken into account because circumstances alter cases.

If any circumstances be omitted the conclusion must to that extent be wrong.

For example, in considering a case of Divorce and Re-marriage, the nuptial vows in the first marriage and also in the second, must be taken into account. If in either instance they are omitted, a very serious blunder has been made. The Clapham brethren in their consideration of such a case, stress the nuptial vows in the first marriage while in the re-marriage they are either purposely or carelessly omitted.

The failure to consider a circumstance of such paramount importance as the nuptial vows in the second marriage must inevitably render their conclusion or decision absolutely wrong. No such error in judgment can be found in the Scriptures. In the inspired Oracles everything is made as plain and clear as it can possibly be made. - Deut. 24:3,4.

The Deity recognizes the vows made in the second marriage as binding and obligatory "until death us do part", and the woman becomes the wife of the latter husband.

Not a word is written in this law regarding Clapham's new philosophy which requires the remarried divorcee to terminate this new "alliance" and return to her "former husband", concerning whom they say: "he is her husband." All this is mere chaff which the Clapham brethren have gleaned from false teachers and is not worth the ink consumed in writing such words.

On the contrary, just the opposite is taught for the Holy Oracles further stipulate that if "the latter husband die, his wife cannot return to" again be the wife of "the former husband".

By this Law of God she is debarred, restrained and denied the option of again being his wife, nor can he again be her husband. - Deut. 24:4.

This is Heaven's decree and from it we learn how God would have us deal with such matters when they arise. Paul declares, "it was written for our learning," and coupled with other Scriptures the man of God is thoroughly furnished and able to deal with every phase of the question whenever it may arise.

It is that which God the Lord hath spoken by His servant Moses concerning the matter of Divorce and Re-marriage, and the prophet like unto Moses said:

"If you believe not his (Moses) writings, how shall ye believe my words?" - John 5 :47.

The same God who "at sundry times" spoke by Moses, spoke also by His Son and to correctly believe the moral precepts of the one, we must believe the other; for the God who spoke by them hath said, "I am the Lord, I change not."

In this instance, it is Clapham that has changed and they now call us "heretics" because we claim there is perfect harmony between the sayings of Christ and the writings of Moses and Paul.

As we shall see later they now ask us to exclude and discard Moses' writings on this question because it completely shatters their hobby and leaves not even a crutch to support them, but more anon.

 

REASONING BY ROTE

The major folly of our Clapham brethren consists in the medieval system of reasoning which they have adopted. They reason by rote, that is, by mechanical repetition coupled with a parrot like use of words and phrases which they have learned from false teachers. These phrases such as "a state of adultery", "prolonged adultery", etc., etc. are not to be found in the Scriptures and should therefore be viewed with suspicion. They simply express the view of some, as to what they think should have been written there to prove what they believe. Thus, they seek to improve the Oracles of God.

The above phrases are not only unscriptural but they are ungrammatical because adultery is an act, not a state, however much they may multiply words to deceive.

It really affords little help to us to be told simply what some people think or what they believe, unless it be accompanied with infallible proof. What really counts is a "Thus saith the Lord, to which we can point as did Christ and Paul, saying, "It is written." That is all-sufficient criterion or standard by which correct judgment can be reached. This can never be superseded by mechanical repetitious methods of reasoning, which we must now further consider.

A century ago false teachers had recourse to this repeating system to bolster the dogma of eternal torment. The argument ran like this. Quoting Mark 9:45,49: "Every one shall be salted with fire"; they said, "to salt" means to preserve, therefore, the wicked cast into hell, shall be preserved in life by the fire, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.

They failed to take into account the destructive nature of fire and their argument prevailed for the time.

Later it was learned that to salt anything with fire in the valley of Hinnom meant to cast burning coals of fire upon it to ensure its destruction, in accordance with the words of the Psalmist, "Into smoke shall they consume away." - Ps. 37:20.

Where all the important facts and circumstances are not taken into account, the mechanical repeating system is sure to go wrong.

 

NOW WHAT'S WRONG HERE?

The Scriptures teach that if a divorced woman is remarried to another, while her first husband is living, she thereby breaks the marriage vows made to her first husband and by so doing, she commits adultery.

But our "put asunder" brethren go beyond this and claim that the remarried woman by faithfully performing her marriage vows to her second husband in compliance with the words, "until death us do part", thereby commits adultery, therefore, they must be "put asunder".

It requires only a grain of common sense to perceive that there is something radically wrong in the latter proposition, which fails to take into account the nuptial vows of the second marriage which are precisely the same as those of the first marriage and the fact that she was unfaithful in the first instance, affords all the more reason why she should endeavor to be strictly faithful in the second.

In the first instance the woman although divorced by her husband, should have remained unmarried until her husband's death and thus have performed her vow, "until death us do part".

But by marrying a second husband, while the first still lived, she proved unfaithful to the above vow; thus committing adultery, "she shall be called an adulteress." Rom. 7:3.

This sin stands against her until repented of, and forgiveness sought in the manner set forth in the Scriptures to which we shall shortly refer.

But now, having made the same marriage vows to her second husband, it becomes her solemn duty, despite her failure in the first instance to faithfully perform those vows "until death us do part", instead of putting him away as our "put asunder" brethren claim she should do. However, the commandment of the Lord is explicit: "Perform thy vows."

If a woman is divorced and remarried while her husband lives, she commits adultery; and if her second husband divorces her, and she remarries while he lives, she commits adultery once again, and so on every time she is divorced and remarried, under the above circumstances she commits adultery.

Let us now digress somewhat abruptly perhaps by retracing our steps far enough to enable us to view our subject from a different angle. We shall do so by asking an important question. It is this:

May a divorced woman remarry while her former husband lives? But you will say, we have considered this question and found a negative answer. That is true. The inspired Scriptures furnish us with an affirmative reply as well, and this when fully considered in conjunction with the negative answer gives us the Divine perspective or viewpoint of the matter, and affords and supplies us with a proper conception and a comprehensive grasp of the whole question.

The affirmative reply to our question is found in Deut. 24:2 and reads as follows: "She may go and be another man's wife."

At first sight, some may ask, how can a "yes" and "no' answer to the same question be made to harmonize? The answer is simple. It is because Heaven's seeming opposites, always blend, while man's contrast seldom if ever do.

The happy and convincing feature in this case is, our Master does the blending.

The above quotation from Deuteronomy is part of a decree on Divorce and Re-marriage, which the Lord commanded Moses to publish in Israel and which became the Law of the Realm for more than fourteen centuries.

Beside this it is a portion of the Oracles of God which were written for our learning, and should therefore receive our most careful consideration, instead of being treated as if it was only a bit of Jewish tradition scarcely worth the reading, which is the manner in which some of our brethren trust it.

This decree makes special mention of a provision which the Lord made for a woman divorced under the circumstances described therein. If the husband gives his wife a bill of divorcement and sends her out of his house, when she is departed, "she may go and be another man's wife."

The decree also stipulates that if the latter husband "hate her" and divorce her, or if "the latter husband die", the former husband cannot take her to again be his wife."

But if "the former husband" should insist upon taking her to again be his wife, knowing that she had been remarried, after he had divorced her; his action would be regarded as "an abomination before the Lord", causing the land to sin. The definition of abomination is "excessive hatred".

There is one important fact mentioned in the latter part of this decree, which if omitted, the mind of the Deity would not be as fully understood; it is this, that while God hates divorce or putting away(Mal. 2:16), there is another thing which He regards with more extreme or excessive hatred and that is the thing which our 'Clapham brethren unfortunately teach, namely: that the former husband is the woman's true husband after that she has been divorced and remarried to another. This is their identifying phrase, "The former husband, he is her husband." Thus, they reverse the judgment of the most High God, and we regret to say, it is just as the late brother Wm. Smallwood of Toronto Canada wrote when commenting on: Deut. 24:1,4.

"These brethren, in their new-born wisdom and ignorant zeal, would reverse this order and insist on the husband rejecting his second wife and take the first one back again."

Some eight centuries or more after this decree was published in Israel, the prophet Jeremiah referred to it saying:

"If a man put away his wife and she go from him and be another man's; shall he return unto her again, shall not the land be greatly polluted?" Jer. 3: 1.

If the land was polluted by the former husband returning to his divorced and remarried wife, so that it could be said: "The former husband, he is her husband," how can the conclusion be avoided that the same teaching will now mentally pollute and corrupt the community, in God's sight, wherever the same abomination may be taught today?

 

REJECTING THE ORACLES .OF GOD

Brother F. W. is probably the oldest and most reckless of the few who have written in defense of the Clapham revolution of 1940.

He fully realized that the Lord's decree by the hand of Moses made a complete wreck of the Clapham revolution and therefore desperate measures must be adopted to neutralize its deadly effect.

He therefore boldly rejects it, saying: "Don't use this language - the former husband - he is her husband." - See his booklet page 18. His words are endorsed by brother M. ]., who is Editor of the "Dawn" of the new philosophy.

In the language of the Oracles of God the phrases "the former husband" and also "the latter husband" are both used in the Decree and the Apostle Peter wrote saying:

If any man speak, let him speak as the Oracles of God." 1 Peter 4:11.

The beloved physician Luke informs us that the Old Testament Scriptures are the Oracles of God. See Acts, Chap. 7:38.

These brethren (F. W. and M. J.) say, "No, don't use that language." There can be no doubt in the minds of our readers as to whose advice we shall adopt and follow; the Apostle Peter was inspired, today no man is thus favored.

To thus reject a portion of the Oracles of God as these brethren do, is a very dangerous proceeding; first because God has "magnified this word above all his name" (Ps. 138:2); and secondly because the God who spoke by Moses, spoke also by His Son, saying:

"He that rejecteth me and receiveth not my word, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." John 12:48.

Brother F. W. attempts to justify himself in rejecting this portion of Scripture by saying: "It was nailed to the cross."

They were the ordinances of meats and drinks and special offer" ings on special days, including the Sabbath, all of which were types and shadows of Christ and the rest that remaineth for the people ot God. These types and shadows, as such, were all nailed to the cross in the one great offering of Christ. See Col. 2: 14-17.

Brethren F. W. and M. ]. would make the law of divorce and remarriage, a shadow of good things to come and thus "corrupt the word of God." See 2 Cor. 2:17.

Some of the early Corinthian brethren dealt with the divine precepts of the Law of Moses in the same flippant manner as F. W., - nail it to the cross.

They were so "puffed up and confident that they were right in their boasted freedom from all the authoritative commands of that Law, that they approved of one of their ecclesial members having "his father's wife". - 1 Cor. 5:1-3.

Paul promptly corrected their great error and gave them to understand that this brother's action was a gross infraction of the moral precepts concerning marriage, contained in the divine Law of Moses as set forth in Lev. 18.8; and that they should have "married" rather than to be "puffed up" over the grievous sin of believing that the divine moral precepts concerning marriage were nailed to the cross.

 

To set aside any portion of the inspired word, by nailing it to the cross, because it cannot be reconciled with one's own personal vision, is surely "handling the word of God deceitfully". Paul's use of the word "fornication" in the foregoing case, instead of "adultery" may indicate that no marriage had been performed.

 

YEARNING FOR EZRAS AND NEHEMIAHS

"Oh that there were more Nehemiahs today." The case of Nehemiah is a very unhappy citation for the defenders of the Clapham revolution to make, since not one of them would follow Nehemiah's example in requiring his brethren to put away their alien wives. They would not tolerate such a proposal today.

It is simply a specimen of their sporadic ebullitions intended to make people think they are saying something worthwhile, when really they are not.

However, it is worthwhile for us to note that the class whom Ezra and Nehemiah urged his brethren to "put away" are Clapham's favorites today in the matter of forgiving the sin of divorce and re-marriage.

If any of the alien class be guilty of this sin and later obey the truth, the Clapham brethren will receive them without terminating their sinful alliance. They will be permitted to live together for the remanider of their lives in the so-called "state of adultery".

The class objected to by the Clapham brethren are not such as Ezra and Nehemiah would have put away the alien who served other gods, but believers who are well represented by a couple in California who in their earlier and less informed days were guilty of the sin of divorce and re-marriage.

Several years later they realized their sin and were devoutly repentant and confessed their sin and expressed their desire for the helpful associations of ecclesial life.

When interviewed it was found that their two hearts beat as one on all the first principles of the truth: they were perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment.

They also believed that a divorced woman was a divorced woman whether she was in the truth or not - she was the divorced wife of another man and therefore should not marry during the lifetime of her former husband. Their former baptism marked the only difference between them and Clapham's favored class, at the time of their repentance and confession of sin, and the brethren thought that no reasonable person would hold this against them as it certainly was no crime.

Yet strangely enough the Clapham brethren claimed that their sin having been committed after they were baptised, they must separate or be "put asunder", before they could be received into fellowship. Had they committed their sin before they were baptized, they would have found forgiveness without separation on the basis of Clapham's favored alien class. Furthermore, if an Episcopalian or a Roman Catholic should commit this sin they would knowingly be acting in defiance of the rules and tenets of their respective churches which they believed to be founded upon the Bible, and therefore would be as guilty of sin as any Christadelphian could possibly be. Set upon a confession of the faith and baptism, they would be received into fellowship by Clapham, without separation on the basis of their favored alien clause.

These features we regard as an exceedingly discordant element in Clapham's new philosophy to which we could never assent. From a Scriptural point of view it would appear that the Clapham brethren have acted very unfaithfully and unjustly in this matter, for it is written:

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9.

"Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow." Isaiah 1:18.

There is no demand for any additional sacrifice lest any should boast. The sacrifice provided "Christ" is all sufficient.

In this connection we shall quote from a letter written in 1939 by a highly esteemed brother, a member of the Los Angeles Ecclesia - it reads as follows:

"To us it seems much more in keeping with the spirit of the law of mercy and forgiveness to leave the matter of forgiveness in the hands of the Judge, and in the meantime do what we can to encourage and help an erring brother and sister who, except for the one offense of divorce and re-marriage some twelve years ago, to all appearances have since been living more in harmony with the Divine principles than some of these who so strenuously object to fellowshipping them. As we see it, the Scripture principle has been upheld in the acknowledgment of wrong doing, the same as is required in cases of alien marriage, and therefore there should be no conscientious scruples about receiving them, and leaving the final decision to the Judgment."

In this new philosophy God granted repentance and forgiveness of sin together with the blood of the Covenant are of no avail with erring brethren and sisters, unless the "debasing" put asunder edict of Clapham be complied with.

Little wonder that our beloved brother, the late Frank G. Jannaway wrote of the crochet as "debasing". Debasing it is and as such can find its only proper resting place in "the Roman dung-hill of decretals". (Luther)

 

THE ZEAL OF EZRA AND NEHEMIAH

Just a few words about the zeal of these two great reformers, who lived about one thousand years after the Law of Moses had been given.

The Jews were returning from their captivity in Babylon where they had mingled with these people and learned their ways and some of their teachings, such as the immortality of the soul and allied notions. They had married strange wives who served other Gods, and these women had turned away the hearts of their husbands from serving the God of Israel. Deut. 7:4.

Ezra, who was a leader, and Nehemiah, who had been appointed Governor (Neh. 5, 14), were very zealous of the Law of God, and their great aim was to reclaim their people from the service of other gods.

Therefore, they commanded the Jews to separate themselves "from the people of the land" and from their strange wives and "those who were born of them". See Ezra 10:3,11.

The demand of the Governor was for complete separation from the people of strange lands - men, women and children - that the Jews should, once more be a separate people unto the Lord.

Had the question of divorce and re-marriage among themselves arisen, the questioner would have been referred, at once, to Deut. 24:1-4, which was sacred to them as Deut. 7:4, or any other part of the book.

The word "Deuteronomy' means, repetition of the law and the book contains the severe penalties for disobedience to that law.

We can imagine the unpleasant reception that would be given them if F. W. and M. J. should have approached either Ezra or Nehemiah, saying: "Don't use that language - the former husband, he is her husband" (see their booklet page 18), where they refer to Deut. 24:4. They claim that "putting away" does not separate the first husband from his wife - "he is her husband" and the woman put away is still his wife. F. W. and M. J. reject the Scriptural phrase "the former husband".

Either one or both of these Governors, in all probability, would have ordered them "back to Babylon", saying: We are as zealous over anyone part of that sacred book as another; why not? It is divine, we will reject no part of it.

Brethren F. W. and M. ]. attempt to "lead the hearts of the simple" to believe that we lack the zeal of the ancient Governor of Judah; whereas, the lack of zeal for the Oracles of God is found to be on the other side of the fence which they have erected on this question.

They are obsessed and fascinated by the words "put away", and wherever found, they seize upon them to bolster their views, only to find themselves wholly out of harmony with the inspired writers who use them.

 

 

 

DESTROYING THE FOUNDATIONS

One of the most daring and destructive devices adopted by the Dawn Party to give pretense to their hobby is the dangerous expedient of representing Joseph and Mary as being married at the time that the former was "minded" to put her away.

They say that "if Joseph had put away Mary and married another woman he would have committed adultery." This could only be true if Joseph and Mary were married, but they were not. Mary was Joseph's espoused wife or as Bro. Roberts expressed it - "his intended wife", and again Bro. Roberts wrote: "Mary althogh unmarried, was under espousal to Joseph." See Nazareth Revisited, page 32.

The correct use and meaning of the word "espoused" is shown by Paul in the following:

"I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." 2 Cor. 11:2.

But "the marriage of the Lamb" has not yet come and a part of the multitudinous prospective bride is still engaged making herself ready.

F.W. and M.J. surely know that "the son of the Highest" was to be born of "a virgin" and not amarried woman. See Is. 7:14 and 9:6. Matt. 1:23.

Why the perversion of facts? Why misrepresent Joseph and Mary as being married at the time he was "minded" to put her away privily?

It was all done to find that much needed and still unfound "fine example", as they style it, for putting asunder man and wife like the couple in Los Angeles, Calif. who were baptized before their sin - the unbaptised are not required to separate?

In their careless and reckless hunt for a "fine example" they render the virgin birth a myth, and furnish a basis for the Josephite claims.

They falsely charge us with blunders where there are none, but in the case of Joseph and Mary they have made an egregious blunder, yes more, it is a fundamental error, and "If the foundations be destroyed" what shall the righteous do?" Psalm 11:3.

Christ was born of the will of God, and not of the will of man: and while the overshadowing of Mary by the Holy spirit did not eliminate from either herself or her son the natural tendencies to sin (Rom. 7:20, Heb. 4:15), it did this for the son of the virgin - it gave him a strong bias in the direction of good, that he might refuse the evil and choose the good. Is. 7:15.

In this manner he was "a body prepared the man whom God made strong for himself." This revealed truth must not be tampered with. Instead of developing "the fine example" anticipated, it proves to be "a fine example" of the heedless and thoughtless manner in which the Clapham defenders write.

How could a young unmarried man who was "minded" to break his engagement with his fiancee be a fine example to a married man who had a desire to divorce or put away his wife?

The old adage is still very true: "It is better not to know so much, than to know so much that is not so."

 

THE SIN AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT

Some have thought it expedient to disfigure their records by classifying the sin of divorce and re-marriage as a sin against the Holy Spirit - an unpardonable sin; therefore, they refuse to accept such under any circumstances.

While in reality, this is no worse than Clapham's position, it is difficult to conceive of anything more childish and extreme.

But, there never was a religious error too utterly absurd, but that some sober brow would adopt it and bless it and attempt to prove it with a text, so we are not surprised at anything when some men's prestige is at stake.

The unpardonable sin is made very plain in Matt. 12:24-31, Christ wrought great miracles among the Jews, by the Holy Spirit and some of the Jews attributed the miracles to the power of Beelzebub: this was the sin against the Holy Spirit for which there is no forgiveness.

In the days of Paul and Apollos the sin against the Holy Spirit consisted of the declension of such as had been "partakers of the heavenly gift" - the Holy Spirit, and had wrought miracles: if such should later fall away, and attribute the miracles they had formerly wrought to some other power than the Holy Spirit for such there was no forgiveness - see Hebrews sixth chapter, verses 4, 5, 6. The Apostle John also refers to this as "a sin unto death". 1 John 5 :16.

 

"BE NOT WISE IN YOUR OWN CONCEITS" - ROMANS 12:16

One of the "Dawn" standard bearers (Bro. H. S.) in an effort to render null and void the words of Paul in 1st Cor. 7:27:

"Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed,"

writes saying, "these words were written to brethren who were all legitimately married in the Lord."

This statement is absolutely untrue. Paul's words in verse 27, were written in response to inquiries made by some who had unbelieving wives and husbands and were disposed to leave them, vs. 13. Furthermore, the statement made by Brother H. S. is simply increditable in view of Paul's testimony in 1 Cor. 5:1, that the ecclesia was actually "puffed up" over the mournful fact that one of their members had taken his father's wife. This was a flagrant infraction of the divine Law as given by Moses and recorded in Lev. 18:8, which I hope our Clapham friends will not regard as nailed to the cross, as the "puffed up" Corinthians obviously did.

Moreover, Paul in his first letter to these Corinthians, asks the question: "How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?"

Baptism into Christ is a figure of Christ's death and resurrection. See Romans 6th Chapter.

"If the dead rise not, then is not Christ risen, and if Christ be not risen ye are yet in your sins." These "some" in the ecclesia were "yet in their sins," not "in the Lord" as Bro. H. S. represents them.

The Corinthian ecclesia was probably one of the most corrupt in doctrine and practice of any with whom Paul had epistolary intercourse. Some of them ate and drank to excess - were drunken at the Lord's supper. Several other evils existed in their midst as mentioned by Paul. Paul found also, that they placed the words of men "above in that which is written" in the Oracles of God. Some said, I am of Paul"; another, "I am of Appollos"; still another , "I am of Cephus"; and some others said, "I am of Christ." 1 Cor. 1:12.

At that time the ecclesia at Corinth were far from being the ideal community that Bro. H. S. would have us to believe - "all legitimately married in the Lord". He would have us believe that Paul's instructions "art thou bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed," was wholly uncalled for in such a community: simply, an idle remark!

The conditions were just the reverse, however, we are happy to note in the second epistle, that the ecclesia responded nobly to Paul's forceful reasoning and importunities to mend their ways, and they became an exemplary ecclesia.

 

HAVING SWERVED FROM THE TRUTH

Bro. H. S. has failed to distinguish between a Sadducean believer and a brother of Christ, or one who believes in the resurrection of the dead, and one who does not.

He regards as sound in the faith - "married in the Lord," a community who were "puffed up", because one of their members had boldly nailed to the cross the divine laws of marriage as given by Moses, and had taken to himself, his father's wife, doubtless thinking to himself, we are free from Moses' Law and now it's all in the family!

Bro. S. bids fair to become a compeer of Bro. F. W. for looseness and inaccuracy of statement.

The latter nails anything and everything to the cross that is antagonistic to his views. He fails to see any difference between "a virgin" and a married woman; and he thinks that a young unmarried man who breaks his engagement with his fiancee, sets a fine example to a married man who wishes to divorce his wife! His reasoning is a bit obscure to say the least.

Both men fail to "speak as the word of God" on the question under discussion, and one of them makes the astounding request: "Don't use that language!"

These men have proved their own incompetency to render "true judgment" on the question of divorce and re-marriage.

They have "swerved from the truth" on this matter, as taught by the early believers and by the faithful Clapham brethren of 1933, and may well be described in Paul's words to Timothy, 1st Epistle, 1st Chapter and 6th and 7th verses, as having

"Turned aside to vain jangling (quarreling); desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm."

This is the crop that never fails. It was all too plentiful in Paul's time and it has crept up in every generation since Christ and Moses.

Apart from Christ, Moses stands out as the greatest teacher and lawgiver of all time. His five books contain the only record we have of God's revelations to man, and also the only history we have of mankind for the first twenty-five hundred years of the world's history. It is therefore a record of vast importance to us.

Christ paid high tribute to his writings when he said: "If ye believe not his (Moses) writings, how shall ye believe my words?' John 5:47.

Moses' voice like that of God's son, was the Voice of God, for God spoke by them both (Heb. 1:1), and the voice of one does not contradict nor render null and void the voice of the other.

The words of both are the words of God and the man who dares to tamper with those words a spoken Christ and Moses shall be judged by those words in the last day. John 12:48.

The books of Moses therefore constitute one of the most important volurnes ever written. The origin of the earlier portion of these books is most interesting.

Methuselah lived with Adam two hundred and forty three years, learning from him the world's history up to that time. The former wrote it upon two pillars or books as they were called, and Moses had access to these books. God left himself not without a witness. See Adam's Synchronological Chart or Map of History.

"Moses because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives but from the beginning it was not so." - Matt. 19:8.

Moses, the servant of the Lord, did as the Lord commanded him (2 Kings 18:6), therefore Paul when preaching at Antioch in referring to the period when Moses issued the above decree said that God "suffered their manner (habits, customs) in the wilderness." Acts 13:18.

At this time God, by the hand of Moses was delivering this nation of slaves from the cruel hands of Pharoah, but they proved to be a very rebellious and stiff-necked people; yet for his Holy Name's sake he suffered their manners and hardness of heart in putting away their wives, sometimes for a very trivial offense.

It is written, God "suffered them" that is, he ensured them with a feeling of grief and sorrow because of their perversity and their persistence in this evil.

"Charity suffereth long" and charity is one of the most constraining characteristics of the Deity. The decree of the Lord stipulates that when the husband has given his wife a bill of divorcement and hath sent her out of the house, "she may go and be another man's wife."

In many instances, this would be a dispensation of mercy to the woman driven from her home by a hard-hearted husband. It was a wise and merciful provision, which would greatly alleviate her distress of mind.

 

THE LATTER HUSBAND - HE IS HER HUSBAND

This is proven beyond question by another stipulation in the decree; namely, that if the latter husband died, the former husband shall not take her again to be his wife. It is further declared that such an act would be "an abomination before the Lord."

The definition of the word "abomination" is excessive hatred; so while the Lord hates putting away (Mal. 2:16), he regards with excessive hatred any act or claim that would again render the former husband, the woman's husband.

The "Dawn" party's claim is that the former husband is the woman's husband; but the Lord's ruling is against them and precludes the possibility of their claim being "right in the sight of the Lord."

This precautionary measure was inserted in the decree for the maintenance of purity as opposed to the "abomination" of defilement. See Deut. 24:4.

One of our correspondents writes, "The Dawn party claims to be striving for purity.' These are "good words" and the speech "fair" (Rom. 16: 18), but they should remember that Paul wrote, saying: "If a man strive - yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully." - 2 Tim. 2:5.

It is not lawful to oppose or reject, nor to discredit or suppress any portion of "the Oracles of God". The "Dawn party" should reverently and carefully study the words of the living God as a whole, especially those portions which their leaders endeavor to sidetrack; for a knowledge of the whole counsel of God is essential to enable us to "strive lawfully".

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and has been written for our learning," and if we neglect certain portions which are essential to a knowledge of God's ways, we do so at our own loss and peril. Read Romans 15:4 and 2Tim.3:16.

God has spoken on the subject of divorce and re-marriage, showing us plainly whom He regards as the woman's true husband, and our wisdom lies in a thankful recognition of the fact; and if we reverence the word He has spoken and which He has "magnified" above His Name (Ps. 38:2), and accept God's Oracles as our counsel rejecting the advice of a careless man, who says, "don't use that language", we may ultimately reach that pinnacle of conviction which enabled Paul to say: "Let God be true, but every man a liar." - Rom. 3:4.

 

TAKING AWAY FROM THE WORDS OF THIS BOOK

A curse is pronounced against any who take aawy from the words of the last book in the Bible - Rev. 22:19 and this should at least, cause all to fear to thus trifle with any portion of the inspired words of God, lest they be held answerable in the like manner.

However, the Dawn party do not hesitate to adopt this dangerous expedient when the demands of their new philosophy call for it.

The words they wish to have deleted "from the sacred page" are these: "The former husband."

F. W. writes (and M. J. endorses his words), saying: "Don't use this language: the former husband - he is her husband." When we ask, why not? Their implied answer is: because it militates against our teaching, that there is but one husband in the case· and the words we object to renders our position a hopeless wreck.

That is precisely the case, for everybody knows that in divorce and re-marriage there are two husbands: "the former husband" and "the latter husband".

These words are used in the Deity's decree in Deut. 24:1-4; and as the Lord never uses meaningless terms, we are assured thereby, that the re-marriage of the divorcee is real and not a sham as the Dawn party claim. The Lord meant just what he caused to be written for our learning: nothing less and nothing more.

The use of these terms in the Lord's decree is an acknowledgment and recognition of the fact that the divorced and remarried woman is the wife of "the latter husband" and not of the former.

F. W. and M. J. admit that there is a difference between the Divine decree and their "put asunder" edict, and the difference is very great.

The former is real and practical, teaching us that which is "right in the sight of the Lord" in all cases of divorce and remarriage; while the latter is unreal in all its pronouncements.

It is a figment of the imagination - a sinful and corrupting bogy, conceived by petty minds and set up by false teachers to deceive the hearts of the simple, and "if possible secure a reputation for advanced (?) thinking.

The Dawn party have exposed their unscriptural methods. If the mind of law of God is against them, they repeal it, and request us to desist from speaking as the Oracles of God on this matter. Shall we follow them and adopt their habit and custom and desist? There can be but one reply: "Be ye followers of God as dear children" Eph. 5:1, and "speak as the Oracles of God". -1 Peter 4:11.

 

 

fhigham

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(Cont. from above)

"FROM THE BEGINNING"

"In the beginning God created man - male and female created he them, and the Lord said, a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave unto his wife and they twain shall be one flesh" - literally so in their offspring. Gen. 1:27 and 2:24.

The Spirit ideal state and condition for a man and his wife is well expressed in the following words:

"Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity; for that is thy portion in this life."

This standard of perfection in married life was maintained along the geneological line from Adam to Lamech, the father of Noah. Lamech had two wives. Whether this was an innovation by Lamech, or that he simply conformed to the customs of some of the nations who had forgotten God, cannot be determined. It may have been the latter; because the way of the Lord had been so greatly corrupted upon the earth, that God brought a flood of waters upon the earth and destroyed them all, save Noah and his family.

In the following 1,000 years a good beginning was made, but as time rolled on, it proved to be anything but a millennium of peace on earth and goodwill among men.

About this time we find Moses enacting laws as the Lord commanded him, for the government of the people of Israel.

Among them we find one forbidding their kings to multiply wives unto themselves and concubines as well, frequently divorcing a wife and casting out an obstreperous concubine.

Still the Lord "suffered" or endured their ways and "manners" not only "in the wilderness" but throughout the most flourishing periods of the nation's history, causing David in his riper years to say: "His mercy endureth forever."

The moral precepts of the divine law of Moses were designed to make the people of Israel "a holy nation" (Ex. 19:6) and the Apostle Peter points out that those precepts whenever and whereever they are honored and magnified, will do the same thing for the Gentiles - taking out from among them "a people for his name - a holy nation" - 1 Peter 2:9, and Paul wrote saying, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning." Rom. 15:4.

Therefore, when we are confronted with an ecclesial question such as divorce and re-marriage our appeal should ever be

"To the Law and to the Testimony," Is. 8:20, rather than to the wiseacres and highlights of any community however advanced or wise in their own conceits they may be.

"In men this blunder I have found. They think their views alone are sound."

Therefore, they are determined to maintain their own prestige rather than to submit to anything that Moses and the prophets may have to say, although Christ hath said, "If ye believe not his (Moses) writings how shall ye believe my words." - John 5:47.

Moses has given us the mind of the Deity as to which man is the woman's husband after she has been divorced and remarried and the inspired record is -"The latter husband." - Deut. 24:3,4.

The latter husband, he is her husband, and she cannot return to her former husband to again be his wife. This is the divine decree, definite and plain and "written for our learning". (Rom. 15:4) God, the Lord hath spoken, what more can we ask? ·To ask more involves doubt and unbelief, but for all who believe the Bible to be wholly inspired and that we should speak as the Oracles of God this will be an all-sufficient reason for the declaration "let not man put asunder" the man and wife whose remarriage God has recognized.

On this basis, and on this basis alone, can a case of divorce and re-marriage be scripturally dealt with.

Every case must be dealt with on its own merits or demerits as the case may be; and the chief merit is sincere repentance and confession of sin; for it is written:

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 1:9. "All manner of sin shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Spirit." - Matt. 12:31. "He will abundantly pardon." -Isaiah 55:7.

"Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow." - Is. 1:18.

They must also "forsake" their way (Is. 55:7) of divorce and re-marriage, which has been opposed to God's way "from the beginning".

Four hundred years before Christ, God spoke to the Jewish people saying, that a man should be "faithful to the wife of his youth", and not put her away, "for the Lord hateth putting away." - Mal. 2:14-16.

This teaching was always disquieting to the Jewish mind as witnessed by the words of the disciples of Jesus, whom he taught the same doctrine; they view his teaching with apprehension, saying: "If the case of a man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry." - Matt. 19:10.

Jesus pointed out that the husband in putting away his wife, "causeth her to commit adultery" he becomes a contributor to her sin, when she breaks her nuptial vows to him, by becoming "another man s wife".

Jesus further pointed out that the man who married her that was put away, had committed adultery and was also an accessory to her sin, because he had married the divorced wife of another man, who while she remained unmarried, the way was open for reconciliation with her former husband. But now that she has become "another man's wife" the possibility of such a reconciliation no longer exists; because according to God's law regarding divorce and re-marriage, she cannot return, even if the latter husband dies, to again be the wife of 'the former husband'." See Matt. 5:32, 1 Cor. 7:11, Deut. 24:3,4.

If "the former husband" should again become the woman's husband, that would be "an abomination before the Lord" - not right in his sight, that is according to the Oracles of God; but not according to the Dawn party who contend that "the former husband" is the husband of the divorced and remarried woman despite anything the Oracles of God say about it.

They admit they are not in harmony with the Scriptures, when they request us not to use the "language of the word of God -"the former husband".

"Come let us reason together, said the Lord," Is. 1:18, and if we consent we must "reason out of the Scriptures" (Acts 17 :2); we must "search the Scriptures". Only by appealing to the Law and Testimony (Is. 8:20) can we learn how to "Execute true judgment, showing Mercy and Compassion." Zechariah 7:9.

"Having compassion one of another." - 1 Pet. 3:8.

"For I desired Mercy and not sacrifice." - Hos. 6: 6. Cases of divorce and rc-marriagc are very infrequent in our midst, but when they do occur, they must be dealt with and dealt with only according to the Scriptures.

But when the parties have been legally married by the powers that be, which are ordained of God, Rom. 13:1, and seeing that such marriages are recognized by the Deity - (Deut. 24:3,4), and the parties have realized their error and hardness of heart and have sincerely repented and confessed their sin; as the Clapham brethren of 1933 said, "What more can we ask?" Only the most obstinate and self-righteous could object to their fellowship. We should give them all the helpful benefits of ecclesial association and life.

 

A GOOD CONFESSION

The Dawn party have made a good confession through their representatives, Bro. Frank Walker, their chief exponent, and Bro. M. Joslin, their editor, who endorses the former's words.

The confession is made perhaps inadvertently but nevertheless accurately. They find themselves in collision with the language of the Deity when speaking of divorce and re-marriage (Deut. 24:3,4) and they presume to correct Him, saying "Don't use this language: the former husband, he is her husband." What consumate and brazen-like arrogance to dare to rectify the language of the Most High God!

We have styled it a good confession but good only in one sense, namely, that should lead them to rectify their own error; otherwise it is a lamentable confession.

They have tried to foist a foolish explanation upon their readers. It goes somewhat like this: "Under certain circumstances a married woman whose husband was still living, was allowed to live in adultery with another man because of her chastity". It is too silly for refutation; it is deserving of ridicule only. It reminds one of the sign over the door of a wood-turning factory: "All kinds of turning and twisting done here."

Their pathway is beset with difficulties at every turn. They should pause and consider. Let them ponder over the fact that He who made man's tongue does not require to have his "language" corrected, and those who say "don't use it", may be called to account for their language.

Better for them to repudiate that corrupting crochet (Jer. 3:1) which by adopting political strategy, they sought to pin as a "rider" to our statement of Faith, so that the person accepting the latter must accept the former also.

"The Dawn party" should retrace their steps getting back on the sure foundation of the Oracles of God, being "rooted and grounded" in them (Col. 1:23), walking in the "old Paths"; accepting all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27) on every question, rejecting, nothing that God has caused to be "written for our learning". - Rom. 15:4.

There are vicissitudes and trials enough in the work of the Truth for the few short years that we have to live, without adding to them by unnecessary animosities and divisions which arise from the ambition of men to lord it over the ecclesias. "0ne is your Master, even Christ and all ye are brethren."

fhigham

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Reply with quote  #6 
This article was written and circulated to all Bereans by Bro. Growcott in 1971
This resulted in the formation of The Four Points Group which is similar in teaching to the Dawn/Clapham Group

What does the Scripture Teach about Divorce and Remarriage?

by G.V. Growcott   July, 1971

 

Dear brethren and sisters of the Berean Fellowship,

 This is an urgent and fervent plea for unity on the sound basis of the teaching of our pioneer brethren Thomas and Roberts and the whole Christadelphian Brotherhood from its very beginning down to at least the 1920's.

 About 30 years ago, a new theory on Divorce and Remarriage was introduced, and laid down as a law and a first principle that all must subscribe to. Faithful brethren of that day - bre. Dowling of Worcester, Gwalchnai of London, Sommerville of Hawley, and others - perceived the destructive and unscriptural implications of this new theory, and fought against it.

Some of us, being young and inexperienced, did not realise the danger of this new theory, and we did not fully appreciate the great efforts the more experienced brethren, some of whom had been personally associated with bro. Roberts, made to oppose it.

A doctrine that locks the door (in all practical senses) on a repentant sinner - this is a terrible doctrine, an impossible doctrine. It is a doctrine of well-meaning people completely out of touch with life and reality and the true spirit of Christ. It is a doctrine of people who do not understand the whole instructive, developing, transforming,  educating purpose of our present existence. It is a panic reaction that the corruptions of the world are going to overwhelm us. This danger is always very real, but the safety and solution is not in new and unscriptural rules, but renewal of our inner life and personal dedication.

If we approached even approximately close to the fulfilment of the divine requirements for the Bride of Christ, we would need have no fear from the danger and example of re-admitted and repentant sinners, however weak in the faith they might be.

We have shut our eyes to reality, to human needs. This is why we have dried up spiritually. When the original living fire and internal first-love strength of a community starts to dry up, it has to raise harsh barriers to keep the world from being sucked into its vacuum.

Sadly, I find very many Christadelphians more ready to condemn and expel than to take the trouble in compassion to disturb their own comfortable little lives and to actually put aside their own interests and pleasures and get out and really try to help the weak, and share their burdens and problems and sorrows. This has been a great source of shame, embarrassment and distress to me.

We have been remiss in the past in keeping the clear simple Scriptural teachings of our pioneer brethren on this subject clearly before the Brotherhood. Perhaps if we had, this sad repetition of 1953 would not be upon us.

I thank God we have at least been forced to face this problem, and to perceive the Pharisaism of running away from reality and the problems of others, and "passing by on the other side" of a repentant sinner, just as if we were not all pitiful sinners ourselves, wholly dependant on the boundless mercies of God.

I thank God that faithful brethren proclaimed and defended the true principles of forgiveness and reconciliation, even when I could not clearly perceive them myself, because of inexperience in the spirit of Christ and the realities of life.

This message is, primarily, an answer to a six page article being circulated among you, entitled: "Scriptural Teachings Concerning Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage, Part One."  This article is obviously extracted, sometimes word for word, from Clapham literature, so I have at times digressed to answer Clapham arguments, and point out Clapham unsoundness, not contained in the article.

But first, I would like to give the true Scriptural stand of bro. Roberts on the subject, teaching with which bro. Thomas was in harmony, and which bro. Jannaway shows to have been the accepted and unquestioned belief of the Christadelphian Body at least into the 1920's. It was subsequent to that time that this new error was introduced. The following are all the statements by bro. Roberts on Divorce and Remarriage that I have ever been able to find.

 1.  1879, Aug., Inside front cover: We regret being (un*)able to think you did right by marrying, first wife being yet alive. *The "un" in parenthesis is not in the original - I suspect it's omission is an error.

 2.  1882, Apr., Inside front cover:  There is nothing in the law of Christ to interfere with the remarriage of a man and a woman who have been previously divorced from one another. The law of Christ rather favours every kind of reconciliation and triumph of peace.

 3.  1883, Pg. 31: Question: Can Christadelphians lawfully disannul the marriage contract and marry for any other reason than that given in Matt. 5:32? If a husband or wife renounce the Truth, does that free the other from the marriage tie, so that he may marry again?

 Answer: No. "The Lord hateth putting away" (Mal. 2:15). The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth: but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will: only in the Lord." (1 Cor. 7:39). Nothing disannuls the marriage contract but death or adultery. Incompatibility, from belief or other cause may lead to separation, but the separated parties must remain unmarried.  (1 Cor. 7:11).

 4.  1884, Mar., Inside front cover: Divorce is inadmissible according to the law of Christ, except in the case he mentions in Matt. 19:9. Where this case arises, and the parties are divorced, they are at liberty to marry again, both by human law and divine. Objection may be well meant, but it is without ground..

 5.1885, Sept., Inside front cover: There is nothing in human law or divine to prevent a man marrying again, from whom his wife has been divorced for unfaithfulness.

 6.  1883, May., Inside front cover: Marriage is the voluntary, professed, and consummated companionship of man and woman for life, recognisable, and (if necessary) enforceable by the community in which they may dwell.

 7.1888, June., Inside front cover: The law - at least in England - will punish neglect, but divorce is only granted for cruelty or adultery.

 8,1888, July., Inside front cover: It is a man's prerogative to pardon the worst offence in his wife. If a brother chooses to exercise this prerogative, his brethren are not called upon to interfere. If he becomes a partaker in her wickedness, that would be a different thing.

 9.1891, Nov., Inside front cover: The safest way, in the doubtful position of the case, would be to receive the brother back. Adultery is not to be compromised on any terms,  but marriage with a divorced woman cannot be put in this category. It was wrong to marry an unbeliever. If the brother admits the wrong, receive him, and let the Lord judge.

 10 1891, Dec., Inside front cover: Question: I have been requested to ask your explanation of Matt. 5:32 & Luke 16:18 in view of your statement on cover of last Christadelphian that marriage with a divorced woman cannot be put in the category of adultery.

 Answer: Christ's words relate to divorce for insufficient cause (as was at that time common among the Jews). He recognises no divorce as lawful "save for the cause of fornication." This severs the bond. Human law recognises this, and we are commanded to submit to human law where it does not conflict with Divine Law. Where the law recognises man and woman in any case as husband and wife, there can be no question of adultery.

 11. 1892, Pg. 422: There seems nothing difficult about Matt. 5:31 & 32. The words of Christ amount to this, that his law recognises no cause of separation between husband and wife except conjugal infidelity. Human law in his day recognised many other causes, and even allowed a man to put away his wife if he had lost taste for her. By the law of Christ, a wife put away from any cause "saving for the cause of fornication" is the man's wife still, and anyone marrying her is guilty of adultery. He does not mean that if divorced from a proper cause, a woman may not marry again. His words must be taken in their connection.

 12.  1898, Pg. 377: We returned to Melbourne on Fri. May 6th. Some pain has been caused by the shocking misbehaviour of one brother, and the highly unscriptural action of another in connection with it, in seeking redress in the Divorce Court. The incident has discouraged the brethren somewhat. They have not, however, the cause for shame that they would have if they tolerated or countenanced such infractions of the divine law. When brethren confess their sins and forsake them, they are entitled to forgiveness; but when they defend and vindicate them, they stand in the way of their own mercy.

(The following is the Melbourne intelligence relating to this matter

 in "The Christadelphian" -  1898, Pg. 363 - the previous month).

"We regret that we have had occasion to withdraw from bro. Middleton, on account of his maintaining the principle that he was justified in petitioning before a Gentile court of law for divorce from his wife.  Bro. & sis. Roberts sailed for New Zealand on May 25th.

 13. 1898, Aug., Inside front cover: If it is right for a sister to be married to an alien (which will not be maintained by those who are enlightened in the law of the Lord), it is not wrong for a sister to be married to a divorced husband

 14.  1898, Sept., Inside front cover: It was the children of a "mixed marriage" that were the subjects of a passing allusion in 1 Cor. 7:14, and the "cleanness" and "holiness" had reference to legitimacy.

               (End of Robert Roberts quotes).

     *    *    *

 Note from No.'s 3 & 11 (10 years apart) that bro. Roberts not only had absolutely no doubt of the meaning of Matt. 5:32, but that he could see no room for anyone having any doubt about it. To his clear discernment, it was inescapably obvious. Some of us with less discernment have taken longer to see it.

 The following is by bro. Jannaway, "Christadelphian Answers", an oft consulted standard work among us (published in 1920) Pg. 212.

 "For one reason, and only one reason, does the Lord permit divorce, and that reason he gives is adultery (Matt. 5:32). In certain circumstances the parties are permitted to separate, but they must not form any other alliance. (1 Cor. 7:11)

    *    *    *

I would like to add two quotations not directly related to divorce and remarriage because it is obvious, from both reason and experience, that the more divorce and remarriage are discussed among us, the more important it is to keep the basic Edenic marriage law clearly before the mind. One is by bro. Thomas, 1848, before all the above quotations, one from 1895, after most of them.

1848: Elpis Israel, Pg. 50: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Thus Adam pronounced upon himself the sentence that was to bind them together for weal or woe, until death should dissolve the union. This was marriage.

1895, Chdn, Jan. (Law of Moses): Marry whom you will, but once married, man and woman are one flesh by divine law, and "What God hath joined, let not man put asunder."

Now bro. Thomas in 1866* said that "Jesus forbad divorce upon any other ground than wife's unfaithfulness." So if we see contradiction between these two brethren's statements (1848 & 1895) of the basic marriage law, on the one hand, and their specific teachings on the Exceptive Clause on the other, then we must assume that both these highly qualified and highly stable brethren - providentially raised-up brethren - completely reversed themselves each at the end of their lives, one one way and one the other!  This is absurd.

Bro. Thomas' statement is too brief and passing to assert with certainty that he taught remarriage was permissible for this cause alone. Without much clearer evidence of "contradiction" we must assume in fairness that these two brethren were in agreement. It is absolutely certain they were in agreement on the primary issue before us, the Exceptive Clause, and so was bro. Jannaway, many years later.

There is not a current brother that I know, or whose writings I have read, that has a tenth of the Scriptural knowledge that these pioneer brethren had, and I freely and happily include myself in this comparison. The comparison is so lop-sided it is pitiful. There is no comparison. If we did not have the brilliant, stable, providentially-provided light of the works of these brethren - if we had to depend for help on the poor little flickering candles in the earth today - what pitiful straits we would be in!

Bre. Thomas and Roberts knew the Scriptures as few men have ever known them, and they entered fully into their beautiful and transforming spirit - a thousand times better than those who now repudiate their teaching. Many years ago I came to the firm conviction, daily strengthened ever since, that bre. Thomas and Roberts were divinely and providentially raised up to revive the Truth of God and the Body of Christ in these last days, and that they laid a sound foundation of Truth - all the Truth - as regards fellowship and salvation.

They were not inspired. They were not perfect. They were not always right in everything. But when it comes to the basic beliefs involving fellowship and salvation, it is my ever increasing conviction that, in the providence of God, they gave us a complete and sound foundation. This present controversy has greatly strengthened my conviction of this, and to this extent I am therefore thankful to God for this controversy.  We must be forced by bitter circumstances to learn more deeply, and the false often is effectual in bringing out more clearly the true.

In this matter, and in anything sufficiently serious to involve fellowship (and the proponents of this new theory themselves contend it is a matter of fellowship, and therefore a first principle), I stand with bre. Thomas and Roberts, just as bro. Roberts in turn expressed his unity with bro. Thomas:

1893, Pg. 128: "To the charge of holding 'that the knowledge of Scripture, in the writings of Dr. Thomas, have reached a finality', we plead guilty.  Our judgment is distinctly to the effect imputed - that in the writings of Dr. Thomas the Truth is developed as a finality, and that they are a depot of the Christian doctrine. In this sense we are "committed to Dr. Thomas". God used him in the doing of His work. In His sight and with His help, we shall hold fast to the Truth brought to light by his means." (End of quotation).

45 years of gradually getting closer and closer to these two wonderful men, of repeatedly learning by experience their tremendous and invaluable help in maintaining balance and stability, and getting closer to the spirit of the Scriptures, and correcting the natural tendency of the flesh to crotchets and extremes - has adamantly convinced me that I could never take a fellowship stand about anything that would condemn them in their firmly stated and long-held convictions. If they were so wrong as to be unworthy of fellowship, what hope has anyone? If this matter involves fellowship, and if we consider this new theory the only sound and Scriptural one, then we have no right to call ourselves Christadelphians and claim we represent the Truth brought to light by the labours of these brethren. Rather we are a new group in the earth, claiming we have new light essential for salvation,  that they did not have.

I have read many things in the works of bre. Thomas and Roberts that have grated upon me at first. Almost invariably (I believe I could safely say invariably without qualification) I have with further study and experience and the passage of time gradually come closer to them and have perceived that my own view was immature and out of balance. I have gone through exactly the stage these young brethren in Houston are going through, but thankfully I held fast to bre. Thomas and Roberts as far as fellowship is concerned, until my own understanding developed.

This cry we hear so much today in defence of this new theory, raised against the teachings of bre. Thomas and Roberts, "We want the Scriptures, not the teachings of men!" this has been the battle-cry of error right from the beginning. When you hear that piously proclaimed, be well on guard!

For reference, I have numbered the paragraphs in the 6 - pg.  article 1  to 45, and in each case I will give the paragraph number and the first word at the left end.  My paragraphs I will number at the right end.

*    *    *

1. (There)  True:  we must get to the fundamental principles.                 [1

2. (Let)  True. Unquestionably, the basic law of marriage from the beginning is one                     [2

man, one woman, for life. For a professed brother or sister of Christ, any breaking of this bond is a very wicked and abominable sin in the eyes of God. It is essential that this be very strongly emphasized, and constantly kept before the mind.

Any lightness in the consideration of this solemn life-covenant should be resolutely             [3

 fought wherever it appears. Always in the world, and perhaps never more so than in our day,  this covenant has in actual fact been lightly regarded, though at times subscribed to by lip service. Today in the world it has largely sunk to a mere animal level.

 We must steep ourselves in the pure atmosphere of the word of holiness, and do our       [4

utmost in fervent prayer to guard ourselves against absorbing any of the corrupt atmosphere of the world around us.  THE MARRIAGE BOND IS FOR LIFE  AND ANY BREAKING OF IT IS A TERRIBLE SIN.  Once it is entered into, everything possible should be done to preserve it, and restore it if damaged.

 3  (First)   Here the article begins to lay its major premise, upon which all the  rest of                   [5

the  argument is built. The major premise is utterly false.  It is 1) that the Pharisees are trying to get Christ to interpret the law of Moses, and 2) that in reply he is interpreting it.  Both assumptions are impossible.

 In the first place, the last thing the Pharisees wanted to do was to give  Christ the                  [6

appearance of an authority judging between their rival groups. This would have accomplished the very opposite of what they were trying to do. It would simply divide them, and make them look foolish, and it would exalt Christ as an arbiter in the eyes of the people. If they had come in sincerity, as some occasionally did, this explanation might hold water, but we are told they came "tempting him."

 Remember what happened when Paul merely said in the Council that was trying  him,        [7

"I am a Pharisee: for the hope of the resurrection of the dead I am called in question." Immediately there was an uproar, and the Council which had been trying to preserve a united front to condemn him was torn into factions. No indeed, the Pharisees did not want to set Christ up as a judge among their factions!

 And the other assumption is equally invalid. The fundamental and very dangerous              [8

 fallacy of this article is that Christ is teaching two different laws at different times, and that it takes an involved argument to decide which is which.

 The fundamental and simple and beautiful truth of the matter is that Christ is       [9

always and everywhere teaching his own law of life, and that we do not need any involved reasoning to decide what to believe...that we can rest with simple confidence and faith upon all he says. Bre. Thomas and Roberts, with their much greater knowledge of the Scripture and discernment of it's spirit could see this so clearly and unquestioningly that the thought of difficulty in the matter was foreign to their minds.

   *   *   *

 To support the theory that Matt. 5 - 7 is a commentary on the law of Moses, Clapham         [10

 points to the next chapter (8:4) -- the cured leper --

 "Show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded."

 Was Christ teaching his own law here?  Of course. His law is to submit to the powers that be.  Christ's law taught obedience to the law of any land we live in. The law of Moses had a double claim to obedience as being directly from God, which man's laws are not. But Christ was not teaching the law of Moses, any more than he would be teaching the law of the United States if he told us  (as he would)  to fulfil any regulations of the Board of Health if he had cured us  (as he did here)  of a quarantined disease.

 Continuing  3  (First)  "The school of Shammai only allowed divorce for  adultery."                  [11

 The introduction of these traditions of men about the "school of Hillel" and the "school of Shammai" is entirely beside the point. Furthermore, it is a dangerous and confusing obscuring of the picture. That we should need these traditions to explain a first principle of Scripture  struck me as  strange thirty years ago in Clapham's literature.

 In the first place, it is, at best, just a tradition. Human tradition is notoriously   [12

undependable. That this should be needed in this elaborate building of a case against what to bre. Thomas and Roberts was the simple and inescapable meaning of Christ's words, is surely a warning red light! In the second place, human tradition is not consistent in it's testimony about these two men (or "schools"), in the very aspects upon which this article depends for it's basic premise. Four of the few "authorities" that I possess throw doubt on the positive assertion in this article that "the school of Shammai only allowed divorce for adultery." Here are three of them...

 1. Hastings Bible Dictionary, Vol. 3 Pg. 275:  "Marriage - The school of Shammai treated the second clause (of Deut. 24:1) as the significant one, and emphasised 'unseemly' which they interpreted as meaning immoral or at least indecent conduct." So according to this "authority" (and it is as good as any) --

 a.)  The teaching of Shammai did not restrict divorce to adultery.

b.)  The teaching of Shammai is at best indefinite.

 2. Speaker's Commentary, N.T., Vol 1 Pg. 30 (under Matt 5:32)  "The school of Shammai interpreted the unclearness strictly of adultery, or at least immodest conduct. Again, pretty indefinite to build a case on.

 3. Peake's commentary, Pg. 716 (under Matt. 19:3): "...the view of Shammai that a man could put away his wife for serious misconduct only."  Again, indefinite.

 The 4 th.  (Edersheim, Life and times of Jesus, (Bk 4, Ch. 2 Pg. 331-336) is the most interesting, for it puts the matter in an entirely different light altogether...that none of the Jewish teachers actually limited divorce to adultery... that at very best, it was a matter of advice and not law. Here we can begin to see how the Pharisees hoped to build a case against Christ concerning the law. Speaking of Shammai's teaching (Pg. 333),  "This must not be regarded as a fixed legal principle, but rather  as an opinion and good counsel for conduct...Hence it is a serious mistake for commentators to set the teaching of Christ on the subject by the side of that of Shammai."

 Further (Pg. 334):  "it must be again repeated that no real comparison is possible between Christ and even the strictest of the rabbis, since none of them actually prohibited divorce except to the case of adultery."

 This puts the matter in a much clearer light (if true). As Ederheim  says in introducing        [13

the whole section (Pg. 322),  "Probably they also imagined  it would be easy to show on this point a marked difference between the teaching of Jesus and that of Moses and the rabbis, and to enlist popular feeling against him."

 It was not at all (could not have possibly been) trying to get Christ to determine                  [14

between the rabbis. This could only work to the Pharisees' confusion and Christ's enhanced stature with the people. It was rather  (as they supposed) Christ's new law against Moses and the rabbis. THIS is what they wanted to trip him on. This is clearly illustrated on another occasion. (John 8:2).

End Section #1  of GVG/RANDELL article. (To Be Continued)

fhigham

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Begin Section #2 of GVG/RANDELL article. (From Above)

 "Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned, but what sayest thou?" They thought they had him. He had taught either forgiveness if possible, or divorce, if necessary. They claimed Moses law demanded death. He pointed out that Moses Law presupposed a righteous nation carrying it out, and obeying it themselves. He showed their zeal to be hypocrisy, and he put them in the position of Judah before Tamar (Gen. 38:24-26).

 So much for Hillel and Shammai, and the shaky and undependable "authorities" and traditions of men.

  *   *   *

 The picture is equally clear and conclusive as viewed from the other side. Christ               [15

came solely and exclusively to proclaim HIS OWN law... the new law...rising far above and superseding the Law of Moses which was now "waxen old and ready to vanish away": The "old wine in old bottles."

 "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time, the Kingdom of God is preached." Luke 16:16

 "The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."

 Let us get this picture clearly. He was the new: He never taught the old. It would                [16

have been confusion. And when they sought to get him to be a judge according to the Law of Moses, he very resolutely rejected the idea (Lk. 12:14) --

 "Man, who made me a judge and a divider over you?"   He kept the picture clear.

 Jesus came solely to teach his own new law, and if we can but see this clearly                  [17

(as bre Thomas and Roberts did),  all these fogs about him teaching the Law of Moses in Matt. 5 - 7 and elsewhere will fall away.

 The very two passages (Matt. 5:32 & 19:9) in Christ's teaching which this article by          [18

the laborious and inconclusive Hillel - Shammai argument, tries to transfer from Christ"s law to the Law of Moses, show by their very context and construction how impossible this interpretation is, as we shall clearly see.

 #3 (First):  "Christ chose  neither (Hillel or Shammai). This should teach us  that both             [19

were  wrong."

 This does not at all follow. In the first place, tradition is confused and we do not really know what these men taught. And in the second place, Christ was not concerned with either teaching the Law of Moses or judging between the speculations of the rabbis.

 #3 (First):  "If a man under the Law could divorce his wife for adultery, the  school of               [20

Shammai would have been correct, and Christ would have so stated."

 This is pure groundless presumption, as to what Christ "would have stated", and needs no further refutation. We could with equal right assert, "If the man who sought Christ's help in judging between him and his brother was correct, Christ would have so stated." He did not come to teach the dying Law, but a new and living way. Building a long chain of elaborate argument on such weak links as "If such were the case, Christ would have said so." is surely obviously unsound and dangerous. There are various times Christ chose not to answer a question directly, or even not at all. He had one purpose only.

 #4 (Second):  They were asking . . " In the Law, were there any teachings [21

concerning divorce?  What were they?

 They weren't asking any such thing. This completely misses the point. They were not asking him to explain the Law. They were asking him his teachings --"What sayest Thou? -- and trying to set him against the Law. This was what they were always trying to do.  He had declared -- to his disciples, but publicly, in the great foundation statement of his glorious new law of life in Matt. Ch 5 to 7 --

 "It hath been said (directly quoting the Law),  Whosever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement. But I SAY UNTO YOU  (clearly contrasting HIS law,  His authority,  His new teaching, with Moses Law) --

 "But I SAY UNTO YOU that whosever shall put away his wife saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery."

 In this basic, public, primary declaration of his new law (Matt. Chs. 5 to 7),    [22

he specifically, six times (as I shall consider more fully later)  quotes the Law of Moses, and then directly contrasts his new infinitely higher law with it, with the same clear formula of contrast each time: "BUT I SAY UNTO YOU."

 And at the end (Matt. 7:28-29): : "The people were astonished at his doctrine (NOTE:  HIS  doctrine): for he taught them as one having authority."

 This is the Scriptural background of Matt. 19:9, not the foggy unclear            [23

traditions and legends of men about Hillels and Shamais. He had publicly contrasted his new law with Moses' Law on this very point, and they wanted to trip him into an open denial and contradiction of Moses'  Law. This was their constant aim.  And NOT -- as this article asserts and as it=92s whole chain of argument requires -- that they were asking him to explain the Law of Moses and judge between their squabbling factions.

 #5  (Here):  "The question of remarriage is not in the question."                          [24

  Very true! An important and significant point!  But how can it in any way be considered as helping the argument of the article?  Rather it helps to destroy it. "The question of remarriage is not in the question." No, of course not. It could not be, for under the Law of Moses (it was on the issue of the Law they were trying to trip him) -- under the Law of Moses there is not, and could not possibly be, any connection between the divorce of one wife and marriage to another.  Under the Law there is no such thing as "remarriage" for the very term pre-supposes monogamy, and the Law permitted polygamy.  Under the Law, there was no such thing as committing adultery with one wife against another wife.  This can only be under the Eden Law, Christ's Law, the one man, one woman law. Divorce of one wife, under polygamy, has no connection with a man's relations to his other wives, either possessed at the time or acquired later.

 But-- note well -- though not in the Pharisees'  question  (as it could not be)  [25

it is very much in Christ's answer, (Matt. 19:9).  Consider that well -- the question of remarriage is very much in Christ's answer, which very clearly shows that Christ is not teaching the Law of Moses, but his own law, which goes back to the ordinance from the beginning, and pre-supposes monogamy.

 When, therefore Jesus says, "Moses suffered so and so  .  .  but I say unto        [26

you,"  and then speaks of marrying another as adultery, he is clearly proclaiming his own law and not Moses', for under Moses'  Law marrying another was quite irrelevant to the question of divorce. The article later on makes a weak attempt (#24) to explain away this obvious flaw, which I shall consider later.

 #6  (Christ's):  Good!  A restatement of the basic marriage law: one man, one       [27

woman, for life.  It is good to keep that very prominent. 

 #7  (We):  "The terms 'put asunder' and 'put away' are the same as divorce."    [28

 This seems to imply they are always the same, which is not correct. It is not quite that simple. There are 3 principle words in the New Testament which are used for the separating of man and wife: chorizo (to separate, put space between), aphiemi (to send away, to cause to go), and apoluo (to loose, to set free). None are

used exclusively of divorce. There are also luo and lusis, used once each: they are verb and noun, related to each other and to apoluo. The  3 principle words are translated inconsistently in the Auth. Ver. in connection with the marriage relationship, they are variously rendered --

 Chorizo: put asunder, depart.     Aphiemi: put away, leave.  Apoluo: put away, divorce.

 Paul uses 2 of these words in 1 Cor. 7:10-13, and they are not translated consistently. In vs  10 & 11, depart is chorizo. In vs  11 & 12, put away is aphiemi. In vs 13, leave is aphiemi.

 As applied generally, apart from marriage, these words are translated:          [29

Chorizo: depart, separate.

Aphiemi: suffer, leave, forgive, let alone, forsake, omit, yield up, send away.

Apoluo: send away, loose, release, let depart, dismiss, set at liberty, depart.

 Christ uses chorizo and apoluo of the marriage relationship, but never aphiemi.   [30

But he uses aphiemi very frequently in a general sense (other than of marriage). When I speak of Christ's use, of course, I refer to the rendering of his words in Greek, as we have them in the gospels. More on the actual language he spoke later, as it is a factor in this consideration.

 Paul uses chorizo and aphiemi and luo and lusis of the marriage relationship,   [31

but never apoluo.  He uses apoluo in the general sense  (other than marriage).

 The use of these words in Scripture in connection with this subject

appears  haphazard, but there must be a basic pattern, for it is the word of God, and "Every word of God is pure" --  that is, true, correct, right, perfectly suited.

 In the Old Testament, the picture is similar. There are various words            [32

involved,  ,and translation is not consistent. In neither language does there appear to be a word specifically and exclusively meaning marital divorce, although one in the Hebrew may be this: kerithuth, cutting off. It is just used 4 times: twice in Duet. 24:1-3, once where God says he did give Israel (10-tribe kingdom) a bill of divorce (Jer. 3:8), and once where he asks Judah (2-tribe kingdom) to produce her bill of divorce

(Isa. 50:1), implying that she had been given none.

 Note the context in Jer. 3.  The sin for which the bill of divorce was given is    [33

 described as both fornication (vs 1,2,6) and adultery (v 8), and it is clear it all refers to action after marriage. I shall go into the significance of this later in considering the meaning of "fornication". In translating this word "kerithuth" into Greek, both the Septuagint and the N T (as in Mt. 5:31) use an entirely different word from any of the above considered. It is "apostasion" - a standing away from.

 There is another interesting word in the Old Testament. It is gahrash. It is    [34

translated "divorce" in Lv. 21:14, 22:13, Nm. 30:9. It is also used of a woman "put away" from her husband, in Lv. 21:7, and Ez 44:22. It is the word used in Sarah's demand, "Cast out this bondwoman," which God tells Abraham to comply with. More on this later.

 #8  (Are):   Good.   The basic Edenic law again.

 #9  (Let's):   "Any time Christ speaks to his disciples (therefore to all his        [35

Household of Faith), he makes no mention of any permission to divorce, or to remarry."

 Now this is put forward as the basic rule to determine which of Christ"s teachings and commands apply to us, and which do not. In the first place, it is a very dangerous idea that we must decide, by elaborate argument, whether or not he is teaching us. But this is the rule this article establishes, and by this very rule it destroys it's own argument and proves the opposite of what it contends for.  Furthermore, the above (italic) extract from #9 is obviously untrue as a statement of fact.

 The article here refers us to Lk 16:18, and emphasises the fact that the   [36

Exceptive clause is not here mentioned, and proceeds to build on this an artificial distinction between what Christ taught the Pharisees  and what he taught his own disciples. Now note very well to whom Jesus IS talking in this Lk 16:18:

 V14, "And the Pharisees heard  all these things and derided him."

V15, "And he said unto them" -- note well --  "he said unto them"

 . .and then vs 16-18 follow: Christ speaking directly to the Pharisees.

 Now it is of no great consequence to me whom he was teaching, because I am   [37

convinced he was always teaching his own glorious new law, and  never the old "ready to vanish away" Law of Moses. But it is of GREAT  consequence to the whole argument of this article whom he happens to be teaching, and the article quotes this Lk 16:18 to illustrate and confirm this supposed rule that the Exceptive Clause is spoken to the Pharisees and the new law without it to the disciples. And we find the very case here quoted to "prove" this,  actually proves the very opposite!  Let us test the rule a little further.

 Let us look at Mt chs 5-7, the very beginning of Jesus' recorded teaching -     [38

the very heart and foundation of all his teaching. Mt .5:1 -- "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came to him: and he opened his mouth and taught THEM."

 And  3 chs later, at the close of this long discourse to his disciples --            [39

 Mt 7:28-29:  "And it came to pass when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people

were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as one having  authority, and not as the scribes."

 If there is any place in the gospels where we can say with absolute assurance that Jesus is quietly, authoritatively, specifically, fundamentally, teaching His law to His disciples, then this is it. Sound Christadelphians have always regarded these three chapters as the glorious foundation of the law of Christ - the new law, as contrasted with the old law of Moses. Bro. Roberts extols these chapters repeatedly and lovingly.

 I emphasise this strongly because some of the Clapham arguments, in their    [40

anxiety to get rid of Matt. 5:32, are positively frightening in their determined attempts to divert this whole discourse into a mere commentary on the Law of Moses, that was ready to vanish away.  Here indeed is the new wine in old bottles!

 Now our main point at this time:  Matt. 5:31-32 - right in the middle of the   [41

discourse, in a series of direct contrast with Moses Law, no argument with the Pharisees, no conflict with anyone --  a quiet, authoritative teaching of his own disciples. And we have the Exceptive Clause. So the "rule" completely breaks down again, the second time we test it.  Luke 16:18 to the Pharisees: no mention of the Exceptive Clause.  Matt. 5:32 to disciples: Exceptive clause given, in a direct contrast with the Law of Moses.

 In fact, there are only four places where this "rule" can be applied to the      [42

teaching of Christ: Mt. 5:32 & 19:9, Mk 10:11 & 12 and Lk 16:18. In 2 of them, as we have seen, if it proves anything, it proves the very opposite of what it is claimed to prove.  I could just as justifiably argue, from Lk 16:18 & Mt. 5 that when Jesus speaks to the Pharisees, he does not mention the Exceptive Clause and when he speaks to his disciples he does. But this would be equally erroneous as arguing the other way, as this article does, for it is 2 one way and 2 the other, to the Pharisees, in a controversy, one with the exceptive clause, one without. To his own disciples,

in simple teaching, 1 with the Exceptive Clause, 1 without. Doesn't this clear and striking pattern teach us something? And let us note: among the 4 cases, Mt. 5:32 stands unique as part of a long, authoritative discourse to his disciples, with the "multitudes" also listening, and here the Exceptive Clause appears.

 #10  (Second)    We now come to the strangest part of the whole article.  Spend  [43  

some time with paragraphs 10 and 10; look up the passages and get the picture clearly.  Analysed, and with the quoted passages put back in their right places, the article again "proves" the opposite of what it contends for.

 Briefly, the picture is this. The article takes Mt. 19:10-12 (eunuchs) away     [44

from Mt. 19:9, (the Exceptive Clause) and attaches it to the end of Mk 10:11-12 (the basic law without the Clause). Having done this, it attempts to prove something about the law without the Clause which, when the verses are put back in their proper place in Scripture, "proves" (if it proves anything) the very opposite to what is being argued.

 Let us look closer. Much is made in para. #10 of "in the house" in an endeavour [45(which we have seen broke down in 2 previous tests) to prove that Jesus taught different laws to different people. The more I think of this theory, the more dangerous I realise it to be. We have seen that what he says here, to the disciples "in the house" in Mk 10:11-12 (basic law without the Exceptive Clause), is the same as he says to the Pharisees out in the open, in Lk 16:18. In Mark 10, as the article mentions, he also adds the reverse rule, saying a woman commits adultery if she puts away her husband and marries another.

 The article calls attention to this later point to prove Jesus cannot be           [46

teaching the Law of Moses on this occasion, but his own law, for the Law of Moses had no provision for a woman initiating a divorce. I have no quarrel with this, for I believe Jesus is always teaching his own law, but the attempt to use it to make a distinction between his teachings to different groups is dangerous. And it does also strengthen my argument (see my para. 25) that Mt.19:9 can't refer to Moses' Law because the wording is inappropriate to its circumstances.

  But the point is not even then as strong as it appears, for "authorities" (for what they are worth) tell us (and anyone can easily confirm this) that --

 1.  In the Roman world (the then existing constitution), women could divorce

husbands.  We know that many Jews (perhaps the bulk of them - as today - lived by Gentile law). ("The Grecians of the New Testament.").  And --

 2.  Under Moses' Law, in Christ's day  (and before)  a woman could "put away" her husband by being sufficiently offensive to force him to divorce her and that this was not at all uncommon. So in practice, the Law worked both ways. (But all this is really beside the point either way).

 #11  (To):   Here comes the strangest part. The article says  "to support the      [47

above conclusion, we would go to Mt.19:10: 'His disciples say unto him, if the case of a man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.'  What did they mean? We find the answer is in v 9."

 WHAT verse 9 does the article refer to? Mk 10:9 or Mt.19:9? It must be         [48

Mt. 19:9, because the article has just quoted Mt.19:10, and says the answer to it is in v 9. And what is Matt. 19:9? It is the key verse of the whole issue - the law with the Exceptive Clause!

 And the article goes on to carefully prove that this Mt. 19:9 (with the           [49

Exceptive Clause) is for Christ's faithful disciples: "Them to whom it is given."  Let us read further in the article (still in #11) -- 

 End Section #2  of GVG/RANDELL article. (To Be Continued)

fhigham

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Reply with quote  #8 

Begin Section #3 of GVG/RANDELL article. (Continued From Above)

 "Rather than get into such a problem as revealed, then would it not be good to remain unmarried?  Christ then said to them,  "All men cannot receive this saying, "SAVE THEY TO WHOM IT IS GIVEN." (Article's own capitals).

 What "saying" is referred to here in Mt.19:11?  The article says it is Christ's  [50 saying in v 9, (by which it must mean Mt.19:9) --  the 2nd.  previous verse. This is, of course, the Exceptive Clause. The article here is giving its opponents a stronger argument against itself than some would of themselves feel justified in taking out of the passage. Many take "this saying" to refer to the disciple's statement in v 10 ("It is better not to marry"). This, I believe, has been the usual understanding of this passage, and fits really better with what follows about eunuchs.

 But the article asserts "this saying" is Christ's saying in v 9, so it               [51 inescapably pins itself down to the conclusion that Mt.19:9 (Exceptive Clause) was given to Christ's faithful disciples, for the article very carefully identifies them as "they to whom it is given." And it goes on (end of #11) to tie the knot tighter by describing the other side --

 Christ said, (last clause of verse 12), "He that is able to receive it let him receive it." The others are those who do not obey Christ because of hardness of their hearts. These 'cannot receive this saying'."

-- still clearly referring to "this saying" in Mt.19:9 - (Exceptive Clause).            [52

#12  (We have):   Another re-statement of the basic Edenic law. There can never be a

Scripturally acceptable divorce without first there being a very abominable sin.

#13  (If I):    Quite correct.  We must obey all the Lord hath spoken.

 #14  (We still):   Passages to consider - Mt.19:7-9;  Mk 10:3-5;  Mt. 5:31-32.

 #15  (First):    Mt. 19:7 --  Pharisees still trying to tempt Christ.

 #16  (The next):   The article says that Dt 24:1-4 is the only place in the Law    [53

 (of Moses) where divorce was permissible. This is not correct. There are

at least 3 other regulations involving divorce - (Ex 21:11; 21:4;  Dt 21:14) which all undermine the arguments of this article. I shall consider them later.

 Matt. 19:8: The permission of Deut. 24:1-4 was for hardness of heart. Very     [54

true. Keep this well in mind, for the article proceeds to elaborate a theory about the meaning of Deut. 24:1-4, that inexorably narrows its only possible application down to the exact circumstances of Joseph and Mary, and therefore forces us, if we accept the article, to the monstrous conclusion that Joseph, blessed of all generations on earth to be the foster father and to bring up the infant Jesus with a father's loving discipline, was a hard-hearted man. On the very contrary, God tells us he was "just" (dikaios, righteous - a term applied to God himself.)

 #17  (Two):  The article hammers away at this hardness of heart theme,            [55

showing  (very truly) what a terrible thing it is, and it concludes --

 "A man of God who had betrothed a woman to be his wife, would have

a soft heart towards her and forgive any previous sin of uncleanness

because God would forgive her if she sought forgiveness."

 So clearly then, by this new theory, we must conclude that Joseph was not     [56

only hard-hearted, but he was not even a "man of God" at all.

 #18  (Let):  "what Christ really is teaching is that, under Moses' Law, God allowed them to put away their wife  for one certain cause; but if they wanted to please God, they would not want to do so"

 So Joseph did not want to please God! This expression "for one certain cause"  [57 is slipped in without proof, and it cannot be proven. The Scriptures  do not state that Deut. 24:1-4 was "for one certain cause" far less do they say that that "one certain cause" was what the article claims it was. Truly, we could say it was for "one certain cause" if we define that "one certain cause" as "because he hath found some unclearness (ervah davar: thing of nakedness) in her." But this is just reasoning in a circle and does not get us any closer to the meaning. Incidentally, the only other place this expression "ervah davar" occurs is Deuteronomy 23:14, and it most certainly there does not mean what this article says it means in Deuteronomy 24:1, but I believe it gives us a guide as to what it really does mean.

 But inasmuch as Christ is giving his own clear law, and not teaching the soon-   [58passing-away Law of Moses it is not important that we determine what the "thing of nakedness" covers. We just need to prove (1) that Christ is teaching his own law and (2) that the theory of this article about Deut. 24:1-4 is unproven and unsound.

 This paragraph #18 again tries to make a distinction between Christ's teaching  [59

to his disciples and his teaching to the Pharisees. I have shown this rule disproves itself. And when we consider (1) that there were very sincere men (as Nicodemus and Paul) among the Pharisees, and (2) that there were always some men of honest hearts in the audiences that listened to Christ as he went about teaching and in his many encounters with his adversaries, we realise how impossible and how dangerous is the theory that he taught different laws to different people. Christ's whole life was a perfect unity of teaching, from his earliest  recorded words, "I must be about my father=92s business." More and more we perceive and marvel at that perfect unity and harmony in all he did and said.

 #19  (We):  The article comes to Matt. 19:9.

 #20  (Quote): 

The article quotes Matt. 19:9, omitting the exception, and points out that it is   [60

(other than the mention of the exception),  exactly the same as Christ's law elsewhere where the exception is not mentioned.  Very true. If this proves anything, it proves that it is the same  basic law all through - Christ's law - the (rare and very undesirable, but necessary) exception being mentioned twice - the first two times- two witnesses. And then, just as we would expect, not again. But the basic law, the law that bears down on each individual heart, being emphasised and kept to the fore. The Exceptive Clause is a terribly sad provision for solving a tragedy. It is like taking care of a death. Surely we would not expect it to be given any more prominence and repetition than necessary to establish it for the rare cases of tragedy where it may be needed --  and even used then with the greatest reluctance. To keep repeating this sad and ugly possibility every time the beautiful and powerful "until death" marriage law is emphasised, would certainly be getting things out of proportion.

 It is this very commendable attitude of keeping the prominence of the         [61

exception to a minimum, keeping it in the background, keeping it from casting its ugly shadow of tragedy and failure over every bright nuptial beginning - it is this reasonable and proper attitude (but carried to an extreme), that has unfortunately led us into our present dilemma, wherein many have completely lost touch with the sound teaching of the first 80-100 years of the truth.

 The article demands that the Exceptive Clause be repeated every time this    [62 subject is mentioned, before it will believe. This is unsound and unreasonable from many points of view. The Pharisees, in the face of clear evidence, demanded a sign - - laid down their own rules for God's revelation. Wisdom will take God's revelation as it is --  not asking for more, and not labouring to get rid of what is there -- and humble contemplation will more and more see divine wisdom in it as it is.

 #21  (1):  No contradiction in God's word.  Absolutely right!  But we must be       [63

 careful not to infer and create contradiction when there is none, just to support a theory. I am tremendously saddened at attempts to see  'contradiction' both in Jesus' clear and consistent teaching, and also in the writings of our pioneer brethren on those teachings.

 An exception is not a contradiction. It is axiomatic that "the exception         [64

proves  the rule." An exception confirms and establishes a rule, showing the rule is not just indefinite and general, but universal outside the stated exception.  Many rules are general and exceptions are understood to be possible, but if we say "This is the only exception", we confirm the rule's universality in every other case. This is surely an obvious and elementary fact of language and reason,  and to try to stigmatise a clearly expressed exception as a contradiction  is to make language and reasoning meaningless.

 It is recorded in Mark 8:12 that Jesus said  (to the Pharisees - note)  "There   [65

shall no sign be given unto this generation" - PERIOD - no exception.

 In Matt. 16:4, the same incident is recorded --  "There shall no sign be given unto it, BUT the sign of the prophet Jonas."

 It is not essential that we prove this is the same incident. The illustration   [66

is just as clear otherwise, but actually this can be demonstrated to be the same incident beyond any reasonable doubt. Why did Mark omit the exception that Matthew recorded in the same incident?

 Are we to throw out this beautiful exception - the sign of the prophet          [67

Jonas  -- just because Mark does not mention it?  Are we to demand that Mark have it in before we will believe?  Are we to charge "Contradiction" as the world is so quick to do in any seeming discrepancy?  Note again,  Matt. gives the exception;  Mark recording the same incident does not.  Is it conceivably possible that the supporters of this article have any difficulty with this contradiction?

 Let us consider another similar "contradiction". As we shall see later, the    [68

article (#28) speaks (rightly, I believe) of Exo. 22:16-17 as describing the same circumstances as Deut. 22:28-29: the violated unbetrothed virgin. The article appears to find no "contradiction" in the fact that the Exodus account gives an exception not contained in Deuteronomy 22, and it is this very exception that is essential to the article's use of this case in its argument:--

 Deut. says the man must marry her --PERIOD , no exception.                           [69

Exo. says the man must marry her - BUT if the father refuse to give her, the offender must pay a fine.

 Now it is this last exception, only given in Exodus, that the article      [70

depends on to make the woman available to fit its theory of Deut. 24:1-4.

 Continuing #21  (1):  "Paul makes no provision for divorce or remarriage."           [71

 And yet in the one place where the article (#41) confesses Paul is speaking  of the remarriage of a divorced person, it has to rend two contiguous and obviously directly related verses apart (1 Cor. 7:27-28) to prevent what appears to it to be another 'contradiction.'

 Continuing #21:  "When men, because of personal desires, seek to subvert the     [72 God's word to satisfy their own desires or to excuse some who may be close to them."

 It is true that this is a tendency of the flesh, and must be guarded against.   The  article itself is not free of that danger. We must all be careful. But we will make no headway, and we put ourselves in a very dangerous position, when we infer that the opposition to our theories must be for some evil and self serving motive. I have no reason to question either the motives or the sincerity of the article, and it would be much more conducive to the proper spirit among us if the article were equally charitable to the brethren it refers to.

 #22  (How):   The article says that, in explaining the permission of Deut. 24,     [73

 "Christ answers them:  First: because of the hardness of their hearts, and Second: for fornication."

   This is a completely untrue and impossible reading of Matt. 19:8-9, made    [74

even  more impossible by the very parallel frame of words in Matt. 5:32.  This article says very little about Matt. 5:32.  We shall see that it is fatal to the article's arguments. 

 Continuing #22: "Even under the law of Moses a man could not put away his        [75

wife if it was for the purpose of marrying again."

 Under the Law of Moses, which permitted polygamy, there was no connection

between putting away one wife and marrying another.  There is regulation of the treatment of wives, one against another  (Exod. 21:10; Deut.21:15-17), and according to Exod. 21:11, if a man in this case would not treat his wife as commanded, he HAD to put her away.

 From the various regulations, and from the historic examples in Scripture,   [76

it would appear that polygamy, if not the most common form, was surely very common. Certainly it would appear that most of the individuals mentioned in Scripture, where we know of there marital state, are revealed as polygamous: Abraham, Jacob, Gideon, Elkanah, David, Solomon, most kings of both kingdoms, etc. In a society where women outnumber men (because of war and the greater ordinary hazards to the male), and where children were an asset and not a burden (in a rural economy), and where singleness in a woman was a great hardship, and where barrenness was a shame and a reproach, we would expect to find polygamy common, if permitted. Here we see God's practical working. Monogamy is the ideal, but polygamy was permitted where (due at the root to man's sin upsetting the divine pattern) a lot of single women would be a greater evil and sorrow.

 This picture must be borne in mind -- the general prevalence of polygamy and the relation of Moses' Law to this fact, for it puts everything in a different light, and shows the argument of this article to be completely out of touch with reality.

 End Section #3  of GVG/RANDELL article. (To Be Continued)

fhigham

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Begin Section #4 of GVG/RANDELL article. (Continued From Above)

 Continuing #22:  "Once an Israelite took a wife, and took her into his house as   [77 his wife indeed, there would be no provision to divorce her."

 This is not true. It is based on the article's unsound assumption of the          [78

meaning of the grounds for divorce in Deut. 24. It is disproved by Exod. 21:4 &11 and Deut. 21:14, as we shall see in considering # 27 to #29.

 Continuing #22    "Christ does not allow in his statement divorce for any          [79

cause whatsoever once a woman becomes a man's wife in very fact."

 This is unproven and untrue.

 #23  (The word):   The Greek word for except does not mean "may" as the           [80

article states.  This is an error from misreading Strong's Concordance.  "May" is given there as the pronunciation of the word, not its meaning.

 The teaching of Christ (Matt. 5:32; 19:9) is not  (as this paragraph states) in accordance with Deut. 24, because in both cases it is clearly and carefully given by Christ in direct contrast to Deut.24.  Nor, as the article asserts, does either Christ's teaching or Deut. 24 limit the permission to cases of pre-marital sexual relations. As to Deut. 24, I have shown this by other regulations of the Law, by the case of Joseph, and by the example of God with Israel. (Jer.3)

 As to Christ's teaching (Matt. 5:32; 19:9), this assumption that he limits it to pre-marital unchastity is based on an erroneous understanding of the meaning of "fornication", as we shall see later in full detail.

 Randell Paper -  paragraph 24.

 #24  (Under):   "Under the Law,  Christ was condemning the  practice of            [81

violating the rights of the first wife, and putting her away illegally, and then adding to his sin by marrying another woman to take the place of the wife he had wrongly put away.  Christ says that such a marriage was adultery - that is, adultery against the first wife."

 This is not true. This is wholly artificial and strained language as applied to  [82  conditions under the Law. In the first place, as I have shown and shall further show, Christ in Matt. 19:9 is not teaching the Law of Moses, but his own law. And in the second place, under the Law of Moses which permitted polygamy, no action a man did in connection with one of his own wives is ever, or could ever be spoken of as adultery. This is just twisting the meaning of words.

 Christ's words in Matt. 19:9 -- part of his law in direct contrast to the Law  [83

of Moses: "But I say unto you" - Christ's words here are tied directly to the previous phrase, "but from the beginning it was not so" --  the original monogamous ideal: one man, one woman, for life. This they fit perfectly. Monogamy, the "from the beginning" ideal, is the essential foundation to give Matt. 19:9  any meaning. It cannot be fitted into the Law of Moses, and straining the word "adultery" to make it apply to a man's relation to one of his own legitimate  wives surely shows the unsoundness of the theory.

 These paragraphs (#22-24) try to establish that in Matt 19:9, Christ is       [84

explaining the Law of Moses. Let us look very closely at Matt. 19:8-9:--

 Vs 8: "Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives."

 That is the Law of Moses. That is all concerning the Law of Moses.

Now begins the contrast --

 "But from the beginning it was not so, and* I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery."

 THAT is the law of Christ - the law of God "from the beginning." That is the    [85simple and obvious construction, and there is no other possible construction. That is how bre. Thomas and Roberts read it, and there was no question in their minds: no doubt: no difficulty. (Bro Thomas could read the Greek.)

 * This word "and" at the beginning of V 9 is "de", the common word for "but," [86

 and exactly the same word as the "but" in V 8. In English we do not use a double  'but' in such cases. It is like a double negative. In English the first 'but' covers both phrases, and therefore 'and' is correct for the introduction of the 2nd. phrase, but in the original it is,  "But from the beginning . . . but I say unto you."

 In the original, the beginning of verse 9 is exactly the same as the beginning  [87

of Matt. 5:32, where Christ is directly contrasting his law and Moses' Law in 6 particulars:  "It hath been said...But I say unto you."

 The construction here is exactly the same as Matt. 5:32. The Law of Moses is  [88 spoken of, then follows the direct contrast with Christ's law. This is obviously the case in Matt. 19:9, even considered alone.  Compared to the parallel Matt. 5:32, it is even more inescapably the case.

 #26  (Deut):  The article asks, "What is the uncleanness for which Moses permitted divorce?

 #27  (Let) to #29  (Therefore):  The cases under the Law where a woman could    [89

lose her virginity before marriage.  

 The article quotes Exod. 22:16-17 & Deut. 22:28-29 (unbetrothed virgins        [90

enticed or forced) and Deut. 22:25-27 as circumstances supplying the woman envisioned in Deut. 24, according to the article's theory.

 It is a very strained theory; a theory that appears artificial and contrived on  [91

the face of it. But more: it is directly disproved by 3  other cases of divorce in the Law: Exod.  21:4 & 11 and Deut. 21:14. And these paragraphs (27-29) inexorably close in on Joseph as a 'hard-hearted' man,  'not a man of God.'

 Let us look at the 3 other cases of divorce under the Law. They are very          [92 interesting and instructive as to the ways of God, and how he deals with the weaknesses of men, and the actual realities of the circumstances under the present dispensation which sin has created. I quote these cases to illustrate the fallacy of this article's strained theory of Deut. 24, and the incorrectness of the article's statement that "Once an Israelite took a wife, and took her into his house, as wife indeed, there would be no provision to divorce her."

 Exod. 21:2-4:  A Hebrew slave (sold for debt, Lev. 25:39; or theft, Exod. 22:3)   [93

is given a wife by his owner. He 'takes her into his house' in the full sense of the words, he has children by her, she is his wife for a period of up to 6 years. Then, when the time of his service is ended, if he chooses to be free, he must leave behind

both the wife and the children. Here clearly is divorce in the full sense of the word: the complete severance of a legitimate, consummated marriage of years duration.

 Exod.. 21:7-11: A Hebrew girl sold as a slave-wife (obviously because of        [94

poverty in the family). We may wonder that such practices were permitted, but we are repeatedly impressed that God deals with man with very practical reality in the present sad and woefully imperfect vale of tears, though the beautiful and perfect ideal is always present in the waiting background.

 If the husband subsequently takes another wife (v.10),  he must continue to       [95

treat the previous one equally well, or he must let her  'go free.' Here again, a clear case of divorce: the termination of an established marriage relationship - enforced upon the man if he will not fulfil his obligation.

 Deut. 21:10-14: The captive taken in war. She is permitted a month to          [96

 mourn.

V.13: "After that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife." Note the consummation.

V.14. "And it shall be, if thou find no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will. Thou shalt not sell her, because thou hast humbled her."

 Here again is divorce. Both V.13 (go in unto her) & v.14 (hast humbled         [97

her) show that the marriage has gone beyond the point where the article draws the line for permission for any divorce under the Moses' Law.

 This list is not necessarily all cases. There may be other cases of regulation  [98

or example or type which help to open up and balance this picture for us: to get us in touch with actual realities. God's word is a beautiful unity. God's ways are not our ways. We are repeatedly impressed that God's ways -- infinitely above ours -- always combine holiness of purpose and principle and ideal with compassion of operation toward weak and stumbling mankind.

 #30 (Fornication):  "Fornication, therefore, is unchastity, or premarital sexual intercourse".

 This is an untrue and unproven assertion, and is the root of much, if not         [99

most of the confusion on this subject. It is absolutely groundless. The more we look into the English (fornication), Greek (porneia) and Hebrew (Zanah), the more we conclusively find --

 1.      That fornication in all three languages includes all sexual unchastity.

 2.      It is used principally (in preference to 'adultery'  in the  Scriptures for the after marriage infidelity of a wife.

 Take the trouble to do this: check through all the  scriptural uses in the     [100

Old  Test. of 'zanah'  (fornication) and 'naaph'  (adultery).  This can most easily be done in the Englishman's Hebrew Concordance:

Pgs 389 &1344  (zanah & taznuth, a derivative),  and pg. 782 (naaph). It can also be done with Strong's or Young's, but not so easily. And check these passages in the Greek of the Septuagint and note that the Septuagint consistently translates zanah by porneia, and naaph by moicheia.

 This is one aspect of the subject in which, the more we look into it, the      [101

more overwhelming the evidence becomes. If we think this matter is important enough to be concerned about as to fellowship, then let us at least take the time and trouble to thoroughly search it out for ourselves, and get the full picture.

 The elaborate case that is built upon the word   'porneia'   (fornication)            [102

to escape the obvious and simple meaning of Matt. 5:32 & 19:9 falls completely to the ground when the words and their uses are examined.  English, Greek & Hebrew all agree, and the Septuagint and the quotations from the Old Test. in the New Test. tie the Hebrew and Greek inseparably together.

 Porneia" (fornication : zanah) includes all sexual sin, including adultery, in  [103

 English, Greek and Hebrew. "Moicheia" (adultery: naaph) is a more limited term. As soon as we get a true picture of the Scriptural use of these words in connection with this very matter (marital unfaithfulness), we see very clearly why it was much more fitting and expressive and natural for Jesus to use fornication instead of adultery. And it greatly strengthens the truth on this matter, and the position taken by Bre. Thomas and Roberts. Jesus uses it in exactly the same sense and meaning

that God repeatedly uses it in Ezek. Ch. 16, 23; Jer. Ch. 3, etc.

 Merriam-Websters'  3rd. New International Unabridged (accepted as the basic   [104 authority everywhere) defines 'fornication' as --

 1.      Human sexual intercourse other than between a man and his wife.

 2.      Sexual intercourse between a spouse and an unmarried person.

 3.      Sexual intercourse between unmarried people.

 Note that the definition on which this theory depends as the only meaning of    [105

the word is third in order, after 2 other meanings which destroy the theory. And Hebrew and Greek and Bible usage agree perfectly with this.

 In Ezek. Chs. 16 & 23, God uses the word for fornication (zanah) 40  times    [106

concerning Israel's unfaithfulness to him, and the word  for adultery (naaph) only 6 times. In these chs., and in Jer.Ch. 3, both words are used for the same offence (which in this case is a woman, Israel, playing the whore against her husband, God), as will be seen from Ezek. 23:43, where both words occur. This clearly shows the fallacy of this article's argument built on an artificial definition of 'fornication'  as exclusively non-marital intercourse.

 Notice that after she was "old in adulteries" (moicheia), they commit           [107

whoredom (porneia) with her, and she with them. Read these two chapters through carefully, and note the continuous and repeated use of zanah (porneia in the Septuagint) for Israel's relations with the Assyrians  and Babylonians. In Ezekiel

Ch. 16, note --

 V..8: "Thou becamest mine (God's)."    [108

V. 20. "Thy sons and thy daughters whom thou hast borne unto me."

Then, after this --

    V. 22. "Thy whoredoms" (porneia).  V. 25. "Multiplied thy whoredoms" (porneia).

    V. 28. "Played the whore" (porneia). V. 29. "Multiplied thy fornication."

    -- And so on through the chapter, repeatedly using porneia of a married woman.

 The Septuagint in these chapters translates consistently, using moicheia     [109

for naaph (adultery), and porneia for zanah (fornication). It is inescapable from these 2 chapters that both words are used for the same offence: a wife's unfaithfulness. Note that Strong's says that in Old Test. usage, zanah (the Hebrew equivalent of porneia) more often refers to adultery, less often to "simple" fornication. Why the two words?

 In the light of these chs., and in the use of the words generally in the           [110 Scriptures and in ordinary language (Hebrew & Greek), and in their basic root meanings in these languages and in English (all consistent), it is perfectly clear why Christ used porneia (fornication) and not  moicheia (adultery) in Matt. 5:32 & 19:9. This is why: 

 Porneia (fornication, harlotry, whoredom) strongly carries the connotation    [111

of a continuous way of life and character. Moicheia (adultery), on the other hand, connotes single acts, and does not necessarily carry the atmosphere of continuance or character. Distinguished, then, in this sense, Christ appears to be saying, by his choice of words, that single acts of unfaithfulness (moicheia), while a terrible abomination  and possibly having terrible consequences for the rest of life that cannot be reversed, can be forgiven by the partner if there is true repentance and forsaking; but that fornication (porneia, harlotry, whoredom) as a fixed way of life makes continuation of a marriage impossible, however loving, Christlike and forgiving a partner may  be.

 The way of Christ is always for forgiveness and reconciliation where that    [112

is  possible, and where there is repentance, regardless of how bad a sin may be. The way of Christ, as so faithfully expounded in this matter by brethren Thomas and Roberts and those who followed them,  provides a healthy solution to an intolerable condition of corruption,  but it is also merciful to temporary weakness and folly.

 I believe this is also why, in Ezek. Chs. 16 & 23, God almost exclusively       [113 uses zanah (fornication) instead of adultery, though He uses the latter also in the same context and for the same offence, fencing off this current Clapham error and showing its fallacy.

 A proper understanding of the meaning and Scriptural uses of                        [115 adultery/moicheia/naaph and fornication/porneia/zanah completely destroys the false theory built on a false meaning, and beautifully exemplifies the Truth as brethren Thomas and Roberts believed it.

 It will be noted with deep interest that bro. Roberts covers this distinction  [116  between temporary failure and permanent addiction very beautifully in his remarks on divorce (#8). I had not seen the force of this until someone recently in this controversy grossly misinterpreted  him to make him say that one sin by the wife irreparably broke the marriage and there could be no reconciliation. If someone had not just happened to ask him this question in 1888, we would not have this record of his reply, and it would have been difficult to defend him against this terrible accusation.

 I would suggest that you go through your Bibles and mark all places where   [117

naaph and zanah occur in Hebrew, and moicheia and porneia in Greek. It will give a sound understanding of the true Scriptural use of these words, and show clearly why Christ used porneia and what he meant.

 Naaph (& derivatives). are always translated adultery  (and derivatives):      [118

never anything else (1 exception - 'break wedlock' :   same meaning). And every time adultery occurs in the O.T., it is naaph in original (1 exception: Prov.  6:26). The Septuagint always translates naaph by moicheia.  And where the N.T.. quotes from the O.T., it always uses moicheia for naaph (as thou shalt not commit adultery).

 Zanah (& derivatives). are always translated fornication, whoredom,            [119

 harlotry  (& derivatives): never anything else. And every time fornication occurs in the O.T., it is zanah in the original. The Septuagint always translates zanah by porneia. And when the N.T. quotes from the O.T. it always uses porneia for zanah (as Rahab the harlot).

 Likewise, in the N.T., moicheia is always translated adultery, and adultery   [120

in the (A.V.) is always moicheia in the original. And porneia is always translated fornication, whoredom, harlotry; and fornication in the A.V. is always porneia in the original.

 So we have an unvarying and unbroken chain of usage in English, Greek,         [121

Hebrew, O.T., N.T. & the Septuagint version --

ADULTERY/moicheia/naaph.      

FORNICATION/porneia/zanah.

 Gesenius (the most widely quoted authority on Hebrew) defines zanah:          [122

"To commit fornication, whether married or unmarried."

 Henry Browne: Dictionary of Scriptural words in Hebrew, Greek and English:-- "NAAPH/moicheia/adultery."

"ZANAH/porneia/fornication."

 Davies' Hebrew Lexicon: ZANAH: "fornication" --  used of a married woman,   [123

of an unmarried woman, of religious apostasy or unfaithfulness to God, regarded as whoredom or adultery since the covenant between the Eternal and His people Israel was compared to a marriage union."

 Robinson Greek-English Lexicon: PORNEIA: : "Fornication, lewdness: used of   [124

adultery, of incest, and generally of all such intercourse as Mosaic Law interdicted."

 I quote these "authorities", not as final arbiters, but to show that the very   [125  limited meaning of porneia and its Hebrew equivalent zanah, upon which this theory depends, is quite unsupported from any direction, and is contrary to the universal understanding of the very meaning of the words.

 #31  (We):  ."The fact that Christ in 1 verse, (Matt. 19:9), uses 2 entirely           [126

different words would mean that he  means two different things."

 I have shown the complete groundlessness of this argument based on             [127

porneia, which is so vital to this theory, and of which it makes so much. I have shown that the word Christ used is the exact equivalent of the word God overwhelmingly used of His unfaithful erring "wife" Israel. I have shown why porneia here is more appropriate than adultery would be, for it connotes a way of life.

 End Section #4  of GVG/RANDELL article. (To Be Continued)

fhigham

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Reply with quote  #10 

Begin Section #5 of GVG/RANDELL article. (Continued From Above)

A further point to make it even stronger. For simplicity, I have spoken           [128

throughout of Christ "using" porneia, meaning that this is the word we find in the Greek of the gospels. However, it is absolutely clear that Jesus spoke Hebrew. It is common to speak of the Palestinian language of that time as 'Aramaic',  but it is spoken of as 'Hebrew' in Lk. 23:38, Jn; 5:2, Acts 21:40, etc. That Jesus spoke in Hebrew is clear from the fact that several times his actual words are quoted, and then translated, as: talitha cumi, ephphatha, eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani. When he spoke to Paul from heaven, it was 'in the Hebrew tongue'  (Acts 26:14).

So Jesus actually did not use porneia at all, but the Hebrew zanah: Exactly     [129

the same word as God did in Ezek. 16 & 23 concerning His erring wife Israel. This does not change the picture any, it just binds the bonds even stronger, for zanah we have far more copious usage than porneia.

#32  (Some):  This paragraph attempts to prove that Deut. 24:1-4 could not        [130

 refer to adultery, for the Mosaic penalty for adultery was death. I do not take issue with this, for it is beside the point, as Christ in Matt. 5:32 & 19:9 is not talking of Deut. Ch. 24, but giving his own law. Actually it is clear that Deut. 24 does not restrict divorce to adultery, for Christ contrasts it with his own law which does restrict divorce to adultery; and Christ calls Deut. 24  a  'hardness of heart' provision, which his law was not.

Christ's law goes back to the Edenic one-flesh law -- indissoluble except by  [131

death  or by the wicked and persistent introduction of a 3rd.  flesh into the relationship, destroying the ideal 'one flesh'  and making it impossible. Two cannot possibly continue to be  'one flesh'  where one partner insists on introducing a 3rd. party into the relationship.  This must destroy the ideal, scriptural 'one flesh' union -- and this obvious fact Christ's wise and merciful law recognises.

God does not deal with technicalities, but realities. There is an ideal, but      [132

it can be destroyed by wickedness.  When one partner insists on destroying a marriage by corruption,  Christ's law reasonably and mercifully frees the other. If the law were otherwise, we would have to accept it, but surely this provision appeals to the mind of reason and holiness. To perpetuate a dead form just for a technicality has no appealing element of goodness and reason. It is only the mind of the flesh that delights to do that. God's laws for man are wholesomely based on reason and reality.  To meaninglessly bind an innocent victim to a destructive lifelong yoking to corruption, or to condemn them to lifelong sterility, has no appeal to loving reason, only to harsh Puritanism.

Under the Law of Moses, adultery meant death. Does the Law of God bind an    [133 innocent partner perpetually to death? Surely the enlightened mind of brotherly love is not so cruel that it could inflict this on others without the clearest and most specific of commands.  What it binds on itself is one thing: what it binds on its weaker brethren  it must answer for before their elder Brother. The mind of flesh, rooted in orthodox hypocrisy,  delights to do this as its strange conception of 'holiness',  but the Law of God, as the Spiritually-minded bre.Thomas and Roberts understood it, is more merciful and realistic.

 It is said it will "open the doors to corruption." How does freeing a man or    [134

a woman from a corrupt partner "open the doors to corruption."? It is said the provision will be abused, and adultery will be committed just to open the door for divorce. Let us then deal with the abuse, and not throw out the law itself. What we need is not new and ill-advised man-made walls, but a far deeper sense among us of the realities of sin and righteousness, and of the deadly abomination of adultery or of anything else outside the divine ideal of marriage: perfect inseparable oneness of love.  Let us emphasise the positive realities of the beauties of holiness, in this as in every thing. Let us not fear disaster from being merciful and kind, but rather build something that is strong and holy enough that it can afford to be merciful and kind.

 The fact that the righteous Joseph was about to put away Mary  (the word    [135

here is apoluo, and  Diaglott has 'divorce, ' just as the  righteous God gave the 10-tribe Israel a 'bill of divorce' for adultery, shows that Christ's words about permission to divorce for hardness of heart clearly refer to divorce for lesser causes. To me this is conclusive. I believe it should be to anyone. Matt. 19:9 cannot possibly be a definition of the hardness-of-heart Deut. 24 provision  (as this theory makes it),  because it would condemn both Joseph and God for hard hearts.

 #33  (Also):"They knew they had no answer"      If Jesus'  statement in Matt.19:9 was given as an explanation of Deut. 24, the Pharisees would have had plenty of answers to confuse him with, as I have shown.  In Christ's direct contrast in Matt. 19 to Moses' hardness-of-heart permission,  he took them back to God's Edenic law, and they knew it.

 #34  (In):    We finally come to Matt. 5:32,  the rock on which this new theory   [136  founders.  This article says very little about this verse, though if it is to establish its theory, it must completely dispose of this verse.

 Recent Clapham literature indicates that they have completely lost the        [137

picture  of Matt. chs 5-7 as the most powerful and comprehensive and transforming presentation of Christ's glorious new way of life, as contrasted with the Law of Moses, and have now swung right around to regarding these chapters as a defence of the Law of Moses against the traditions of the Pharisees.  Christ, they now say, is not quoting the Law, and then giving his new law: "But I say unto you."  Rather (they say) he is quoting the traditions of the Pharisees, and then defending the Law against them.  How utterly impossible a theory this is, will be apparent to any who unbiasedly consider these three chapters, especially the 6 contrasts in Matt. 5:27-43, as we shall see.

 In their obsession to get rid of one verse (Matt. 5:32) that destroys their     [138

theory, they have lost the living force of the 3 most beautiful and powerful chapters of the Bible. Truly they speak diffidently about the address having  'present day applications': the 'principles' they say, remain, but there is clearly none of the fervour and enthusiasm about these 3 chapters that we find in the writings of bro. Roberts and other sound writings on the Truth. There is clearly no perception of the perfect unity of all Christ's life and teachings, of the undeviating, single minded purpose of all his teachings. He was, out of all the ages, as he said in the synagogue at Nazareth, anointed to preach the Gospel of salvation -- to preach it in every act and word and thought of his perfect life, right up to his nailing the law of carnal commandments to the cross in his death.

 To 'prove'  Christ is teaching and defending the Law and not contrasting it   [139

with his own new law, Clapham points to the words: "Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, but to fulfil." (Matt. 5:17). 

 How beautifully true this is, properly understood! The whole Law, every           [140

ordinance, every sacrifice, pointed straight to him as its glorious fulfilment.  He was everything in reality that the Law in shadow foreshadowed and portrayed. The Law was nothing --  meaningless --  without him. Truly, he did not come to destroy the Law, any more than the flower 'destroys' the seed, or the blossom the bud.

 But he did not come to perpetuate the Law. He did not come to teach the Law. He came to take it away. The Law was old wine in old bottles. The Law was "waxen old and ready to pass away." As soon as he appeared, the Law had fulfilled its purpose and run its course:--

 "The Law and the Prophets were until John: since that time the Kingdom of heaven is preached."  -- note the significance in the contrast of what was 'preached' or taught.

 "The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."

 Throughout, we have the emphasis on this sharp contrast between what        [141

had been preached and what was now being preached. In the face of this, can anyone assert that in his most notable address he was teaching and defending the Law of Moses?

 Let us perceive the true picture. Let us perceive the sharp deliberate            [142

contrast between the old wine and the new. He did not come to destroy the Law, to break it down, to teach a less rigid holiness, but he did come to terminate it, to "take it out of the way", and to nail it to his cross, not to teach it.

 Again, those who teach the theory of Christ preaching the Law of Moses  in    [143

Matt. 5:32, point to his words (Matt 5:19):  "Whosoever shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be the least in the Kingdom."

 True indeed! It was the law of the land. And it was the Law of God,  still in    [144

full force for 3 1/2  more years, and as a national legal code for another full generation. He taught obedience to it, and he obeyed it perfectly himself, even as he did everything perfectly. But in the end, despite his perfect obedience to it and submission to it, it cursed him in his very hour of greatest submission and obedience, to show that it was indeed a "ministry of condemnation".

 At the very hour when he was - at the turning point of all the ages --          [145

fulfilling  in perfect obedience the reality of every shadow sacrifice that had ever been offered under the Law, and in the very act of supreme obedience and sacrifice itself, the Law cursed him, and thereby 'destroyed' itself.  It broke itself upon the impregnable rock of his divinely-fortified holiness. The full force of it's curse came upon him, and he suffered it and bore it away.

 It had to be removed. It was a barrier to life. It cursed everyone who ever came under its power, even the perfect Son of God himself, and as long as it stood, no one could attain to life -- only to cursing and condemnation. I am showing how impossible is this theory that he was ever teaching the Law of Moses.

 Truly, the Law was "holy, just and good" (Rom. 7:12). Truly, the Law was       [146

"ordained to life" (v,10). Truly, it is said, "He that doeth these things shall live by them." BUT IT COULD NOT GIVE LIFE, ONLY DEATH --

 "If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been given by the law." (Gal. 3:21).

 When the Law came on the scene, mankind was already under curse. And        [147

the Law, of itself, provided no way of escape from that curse, but rather added to it -- doubled the burden of curse upon mankind. The Law required an offering of purification for the very circumstance of birth itself. By that very ordinance, it demonstrated its own inability to give life. It demonstrated that for anyone born of Adamic flesh,  THERE MUST BE A SACRIFICE -- not a shadowy typical animal sacrifice, but a true sacrifice, even the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."

 In the very birth of Jesus himself, the Law required that Mary be purified,    [148

and that a sacrifice be offered (Luke 2:22-24). Even Christ himself had to be circumcised (Luke 2:21) -- the cutting of the flesh.  Even Christ himself had to be baptised (Matt. 3:15) -- the washing away of sin, the burial unto death: "I have a baptism to be baptised with -- "

 The great message of the New Test. is the  CONTRAST  between the Law of   [149

Moses, the "ministration of death and condemnation" (2 Cor. 3:7-9), and the glorious new law of Christ, the  "ministration of  righteousness" (v.9 - read Romans, Galatians and Hebrews). Christ's glorious "Sermon on the Mount" is not a teaching of the Law of Moses, the "Law of carnal commandments" imposed "until the Seed should   come"  He WAS  the seed.  The seed HAD come. He came proclaiming a glorious new law.

 This new law did not contradict or violate the law of Moses. Rather it went  [150

far beyond it. It was infinitely higher and deeper and broader and more heart-searching in every respect. The Sermon on the Mount  is its most beautiful and comprehensive exposition, and right in the midst of this glorious new message we have Matt. 5:32,  given in direct CONTRAST to the hard-heart provision of Moses' Law.

 How essential, then, as he began his mission to Israel, as he began to           [151

publicly proclaim this Law-superseding, glorious new message of life --  how essential that he carefully warn them that he was not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfil! They must understand the true relation of his new wine to the old wine in the perishing old bottles of the law. It was not conflict,  but consummation. It was not destruction of the Law, but fulfilment and absorption.

 How essential that he solemnly warn against breaking the least                    [152

commandment of the Law and teaching men so!  This was not the way of escape from the Law's burden which  "neither they nor their fathers were able to bear."  Jesus came proclaiming liberty, but not license. In exchange for the death bringing servitude of the Law=92s external and mechanical bondage, he offered the true freedom of an infinitely more searching and demanding law --  a law that required every fibre of energy and zeal and lov and devotion that man could ever possess. This was the freedom of complete bondage to holiness -- the freedom from the "freedom" of license and indulgence and sin and at last, death.  Paul had to contend with this same danger, and issue this same warning: "Ye have been called unto liberty, only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh." (Gal. 5:13).

 How beautifully this contrast between the external law of carnal                  [153

commandments and the inward law of Christ is brought out in these 6 examples that Jesus quotes in Matt. 5:21-42. What a loss when we have to throw them aside -- completely reverse their true meaning and deepest teaching, just to get rid of a verse that does not fit our theories! We look again briefly at the introduction --

 "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain, and his disciples came unto him, and he opened his mouth and taught them, saying -- "  (Matt. 5:1-2)

 We look at v.3:  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of   [154

heaven." Here, in its fulness, he lays out before us the Gospel of the Kingdom.

 "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted"..."In thee  and in  thy Seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed."

 "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" -- "Thy Seed shall possess the gates of his enemies" -- "All nations shall serve him."

 "Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness" -- "As  truly as I live, saith the Lord, the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of God."

 And so we could go throughout this whole glorious Gospel teaching. Let us then look at the 6 great contrasts with the Mosaic Law. We shall note that Christ does not contradict the Law. Rather in each case he goes infinitely beyond its requirements to the eternal principles of which the Law is but the most elementary and partial and external expression.

 No.1 (Matt. 5:21):  "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time."             [155

First of all, this word "by" should be "to". This makes it much clearer and more conclusive that he is quoting the Law of Moses. If we retain the "by", it must be in the sense of "by means of" --  that is, "God said by means of" the ancients: Moses and the prophets. I have checked this in every version of the Bible I have and every one (except just 1 of little authority) other than the A.V., uses "to" and not "by": "It was said to them of old time." The list using "to" includes: Rev. Ver., Amer.,  Stan. Rev.,   Diaglott, Rotherham, Bagster, Nestles, Weymouth, Goodspeed, Berkley, New Century, New English, Basic English, Douay, Geneva, (1560 AD, before AV),  Moffatt, Berry, Amplified, Young. I,  Also Phillips, New World.  I  suggest you look them up and convince yourself.

 There is no preposition (to or by) in the original, but the article "the" is in   [156

the dative case (tois). The dative case is that which indicates the indirect object. "Them of old time" (literally "the ancients" -- tois archaiois) is the indirect object here.  A "Greek Grammar" (Jays) says...

 "The dative case is used for the indirect object, and may be translated "to"   [157

 or "for". That is: "It was said to (or for) the ancients."

 I desire to make this conclusive because this makes it even more inescapably clear that Jesus is quoting the Law. To say, "It was said to them of old." And then to directly quote the Law, "Thou shalt not kill:" - - surely can mean only one thing, unless we have a theory to defend which requires us to deny the clear meaning.

 So in this first case we find Jesus is undeniably quoting the Law,  word for  [158

word, then contrasting it with his new higher law: "But I say unto you." Check the Clapham rule here - that Jesus is quoting  the false Jewish traditions ("Thou shalt not kill") and then explaining  the Law of Moses ("whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in  danger of the judgement"). It creates an absurdity. Can anyone believe that in this series of  6 very parallel contrasts, in some of them Christ is contrasting the traditions of men with Moses Law, and teaching  the latter; and in some of them (without any indication of change) he turns right around and quotes Moses'  Law and then contrasts his own law with that?  What confusion!  How would anyone know what to follow?

 No. 2   (Matt. 5:27):  "Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, 'Thou   [159

shalt not commit adultery.' " Again, an obvious and undeniable direct word for word quotation from the Law, followed by: "But I say unto you." Again  check the Clapham rule:  Jesus is quoting the false Jewish traditions  (Thou shalt not commit adultery") and answering them by teaching the  Law of Moses ("Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath  committed adultery with her in his heart"). Again, absurdity.

 No. 3  (Matt. 5:31).  "It hath been said, 'Whosoever shall put away his wife, let   [160

him give her a bill of divorcement,' " again followed in exactly the same pattern by the direct contrast, "But I say unto you". Even standing alone (but especially in the light of the first two cases and the general background of the whole address to his disciples), how can anyone assert with a straight face that he is just quoting false Jewish traditions, and then teaching the law of Moses?

 Now --  if he is --  let us, just for a moment, just for the sake of the           [161

argument, suppose that he is teaching the Law of Moses. We have noted the tremendously searching character of his first two  "But I say unto  you" pronouncements.  They forbid the very inner hidden roots of anger,  even though unexpressed;  they forbid the slightest inner incipient  thought of impurity,  calling it adultery  (adultery was punishable  by death under the law he is supposed to be explaining).

 Now this  3rd.  "But I say unto"  must be in harmony with the high spiritual   [162

teaching of the first two. We are told by the proponents of this theory  that: "A Jew who faithfully and sincerely carried out all the teachings of Christ in this chapter would be fulfilling the precepts of the Law in the way most pleasing to the Father." (Clapham booklet on divorce.).

 Note then the dilemma this theory creates. We must interpret Jesus' answer  [163

 here (as in 1, 2, & later contrasts) as the deepest expression  of the true meaning of the Law of Moses, "the spirit behind the Law", we are told. What does Jesus say?--

 "But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery." Now  the article tells us elsewhere with great vehemence that whoever took  advantage of this was hard-hearted, that God was not pleased, that a man of God would never do this.  But here Clapham tells us (and this article is Clapham arguments from Clapham literature) here we are told that a Jew who followed Matt. 5:32 would be "fulfilling the Law (of Moses) in the way most pleasing to the Father."

 But getting back to the true meaning in this third case (Matt. 5:31-32).       [164

It is quibbled in Clapham literature that v. 31 is not word for word from the Law of Moses. (Note that contrast one and two are word for  word, but they still tell us they are just the false traditions of the Jews). They say here of contrast three --

 "These words (Matt. 5:31) will be found nowhere in the Pentateuch.  They were tradition."

 Now we are dealing with 3 languages of transmission: Hebrew, Greek and     [165

 English, and Christ is summarising four verses (Deut. 24:1-4)  into one, and yet to any reasonable person it must be perfectly obvious that he is referring to the provision of Deut. 24. There are many  quotations from the Old Test. in the New Test. where the wording  differs much more than here, but a direct quotation is attributed.  Compare Deut. 18:19 with Acts 3:23;  Amos 9:11-12 with Acts 15:16-17;

Matt. 21:5 with Zech. 9:9  and many many others.

 To any reasonable mind, Matt. 5:31 is an obvious reference to, and a correct  [166

summary of Deut. 24:1-4.  I find no evidence anywhere that anyone has ever questioned this until this new theory was developed.  This is strengthened by the same pattern and the same contrast in the very parallel passage in Matt. 19:8-9. There  Jesus specifically attributes the permission to Moses.

 The Clapham theory, and the theory of this article, has to have Christ          [167

teaching the Mosaic Law in Matt. 5:32. If this cannot be established, this theory collapses. We have to believe that Christ, out of the  blue sky, without any external questioning or controversy, right in  the middle of a planned and systematic teaching of his own disciples -- it has to have him, without warning or explanation, introduce as  his teaching a precept of the law contrary to his own law, and then  again, without warning or explanation, go back to teaching everything  that is in harmony with his own law.

 And we are warned by this theory that we must of ourselves discern that in [168

this one spot he is teaching contrary to his own law which we must not follow on pain of disfellowship.  How can anyone ask us to believe that? What confusion if we can say, right in the middle of any discourse by Christ: "That does not apply to us. We must not follow that: just the verses before and the verses after."

 Note too, that this theory tells us that in the other  5  contrasts,  he is        [169

bringing out the deep spirit of the Law, well-pleasing to God, and in harmony with his own law, but here, and here alone, he is teaching a precept of the Law of Moses that was displeasing to God even as part of the Law of Moses, and completely out of harmony with his own law.

 Let us follow the pattern of these 6 contrasts through to further confirm    [170

the truth that Jesus is quoting Moses'  Law, then giving his own in contrast.

 No. 4   (Matt. 5:33):  "It hath been said to them of old time, 'thou shalt not forswear thyself,  but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths.' " See Num. 30:2; Deut. 23:21; Lev. 19:12.

 Is this the Law of Moses, or the false traditions of the elders?  Note, for     [171

this theory to be true, these cases of  "It hath been said"  must be false traditions that Jesus is correcting by giving the true teachings of the Law.  By this theory,  "Thou shalt not kill",  "Thou shalt not commit adultery",  "thou shalt perform thine oaths" must be false traditions needing to be corrected.  Jesus continues in vs. 34 --.

"But I say unto, Swear not at all . . . but let your communication be  Yea, Yea, [172

and  Nay,  Nay,  for whatsoever is more than these cometh of  evil."

 Is that a teaching of the Law of Moses in contrast with the false traditions  [173

 that oaths must be honoured?  Did the Law forbid oaths --  or did it in some cases require them?  Do we have here the Mosaic Law,  or do we have Christ's own glorious, new, infinitely higher,  never-before-heard-of principles of perfection? No wonder the people 'were astonished at his doctrine' - No anger, no first beginning of impure thought, a plain, simple, never-violated Yea and Nay,  no resistance to evil, blessing and loving everybody.

End Section #5  of GVG/RANDELL article. (To Be Continued)

fhigham

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Begin Section #6 of GVG/RANDELL article. (Continued From Above)

 

Truly in the marvelous wisdom of God we can dimly discern these glorious  [174

principles of perfection deep-hidden in all previous Scripture, beginning with the coats that covered Adam and Eve in their sin and shame. And this includes the whole Law of Moses, as everything else. The sacrifices, the ever-present deaths and reminders of death, were the most glorious part of the Mosaic Law. Every sacrifice was an expression of hope, and a promise of peace, and an exhortation to love, if men could but see it.

 But we must keep the Law of Moses in Scriptural perspective. It was a         [175 'ministration of condemnation' added because of transgressions, 'that every mouth may be stopped and all the world be guilty before God.'  It was a strict penal code, a 'ministration of death,' necessary to the regulation and control of unregenerated flesh, but of itself powerless to the flesh's reformation and purification. The Law strictlycommanded --

 "Thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee: thine eye shall have no pity upon them." (Deut. 7:16).

 "If thy son, or wife, or friend, which is as thine own soul, shall entice thee (to serve other gods) .  .  . thine eye shalt not pity, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him, but thou shalt surely kill him: thine hand shalt be first upon him." (Deut. 13:6-9)

 "Thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; hand for hand; foot for foot." (Deut. 19:21).

 This is the Law of Moses, and we are not under it.  Judgement will truly be   [176

carried out by God on all wickedness, but not by us in this present dispensation. This "eye for an eye" Law is not a matter, as Clapham suggests,  of man  'demanding the maximum penalty.'  It is a matter of faithfully fulfilling the Law of God  (like Saul and the Amalekites)  that gave the responsible individuals no scope one way or the other: "Thine eye shall not pity." A private individual, faced by the case of Deut. 13:6-9,  MUST carry it out. He could not follow the spirit of the Law and bless and spare the offender. Matt. 5:38  (to which we now come) is the Law of Moses, and not the "false traditions of the Jews."

 No. 5   (Matt. 5:38):  "Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye,      [177

and a tooth for a tooth."

 In the light of what I have just quoted (Deut. 7:13 &19)  can anyone dare to   [178

assert that Jesus is here quoting the false traditions of the Jews,  and that in v.39  he is teaching the Law of Moses: "But I say unto you that ye resist not evil"?  Surely it would be impossible to be more clear that he is quoting the Law of Moses word for word,  and then giving by contrast his own new law, for an entirely new dispensation,  now being heralded, and very soon to begin. The Law of Moses, of course, presupposed an enlightened nation with righteous rulers and true teachers - - a nation centered in the Holy High Priesthood as the supreme court of appeal, and with the immediate presence of God manifested between the Cherubim. This is the essential foundation of the Law of Moses. Conditions were far from this in the days of Christ. Both the Law and the nation were on the verge of death, breathing their last, utterly broken down and corrupted.

 No. 6  ( Matt. 5:43):  "Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy   [179
neighbour and hate thine enemy."

 This is the highest and final contrast. Here he leads into Godlikeness and perfection (vs 45-48).  Here Christ's law reaches its supreme pinnacle in universal love and benevolence. It is the last and greatest contrast in which the proponents of the new theory believe they have the strongest argument that Christ is condemning the false traditions of the Jews, and teaching the Law.

Their whole argument rests on the word 'hate.' It is said that the Law never commands  "Hate thine enemy",  and such precepts of the Law are quoted as -- "If thou meet thine enemy's ox going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him." (Exod. 23:4)

This objection, raised  to prove Christ was not talking of the Law of Moses,  [180 completely collapses when we note two facts.  First,   Christ  uses this exact same word "hate" (miseo) as a requirement of his own law: "If any man hate not his own father, wife, etc...he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). No intelligent believer rejects this part of Christ's law, just because it has this word "hate",  nor do they have any difficulty in understanding how Christ uses it here to emphasise the complete necessary supremacy of devotion to him.

 So if we argue that Christ cannot be referring to the Law in Matt. 5:43 because of this word 'hate' , then we are reasoning that the Law of Moses was a higher and more loving law than the law of Christ. This, of course, is absurd.

 And  second, there are many passages in the Law to which the comparison   [181

of Christ (love neighbour, hate enemy) can very properly and naturally be applied,  as --

 "Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days forever" (Deut. 23:6) - spoken of the Ammonites and the Moabites.

 "Thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword." (Deut. 20:13)

 "They warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses, and they slew all the males." (Num. 31:7)

 "Ye shall chase your enemies and they shall fall before you by the sword."

(Lev. 26:7)

 "Smite Amalek: utterly destroy all: spare not, slay man, woman, infant, suckling." (1 Sam. 15:3 - see Exod. 17:14)

 In the light of these passages, how can anyone deny Matt. 5:43 is a clear           [182

reference to the Law, just as the previous 5 were?  But it is argued, 'That all refer to national enemies, not personal enemies.'   Very true, but where is the difficulty? How does that help to prove Jesus is not talking of the Law?  Jesus does not specify personal enemies.  In fact, his contrast here between 'neighbours' and 'enemies would point, if anything to group enemies.

 The Law of Moses was a narrow, restrictive, national law. It made a              [183

distinction of treatment between some people and others, merely on the basis of whom they happened to be  ('Love neighbour, hate enemy').  It commanded the destruction of certain enemies.

 The Law of Christ sweeps all such distinctions away, and commands             [184

universal  benevolence, after the example of God who sendeth His rain on the just and the unjust, and who has blessed the wicked and rebellious nations on earth infinitely more than they deserve or appreciate.  It does not mean that wickedness will be unpunished, but it emphasises the glorious fact that the present dispensation is one of love and entreaty and blessing and non-resistance, after the example of Jesus himself: "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of: the Son of

Man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." (Luke 9:55) --

 See John 3:17.

 In 5 previous places, Christ's quotation of the Law, and contrasting it with  [185

his own law, is obvious and inescapable. In this 6th. and highest and culminating contrast, there is absolutely no ground for breaking this consistent pattern, and interpreting it otherwise. It would be utterly incongruous.

 This was the great new lesson --  of sweeping away all barriers and  radiating  [186 universal benevolence --  that his disciples (and we ourselves) find hardest to fulfil. ONE THING IS SURE:  the more we understand the depths of the teachings of Christ in these 3 chs., and the more we live that teaching in our lives, the less we could possibly believe that he is simply explaining the Law of Moses.

 The Law of Moses, like the rest of Scripture, truly carried within it the seeds of the law of Christ, but it had certain restrictions and ordinances and principles of action -- suited for their own time and circumstance -- that were utterly incompatible with the full and universal manifestation of the spirit of Christ's law. So the Law had to be taken away. The ENMITY had to be taken away.  Paul sums it up in saying (Eph. 2:14-16) --

 "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in his flesh the ENMITY, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace."

 Surely here is an inspired and inspiring commentary on this 6th.  and            [187

greatest contrast between the Law of Moses and the law of Christ! So the pattern throughout the 6 is consistent and beautiful, culminating in this last.

 Christ is always, with perfect unity and consistency, living and teaching     [188 his own new law of life, never the 'ministration of death.' His life was a perfect, harmonious, single-minded entity. Therein lies its irresistible power and beauty. Do this. Find a red letter Bible, and read all Christ's words straight through. You will be deeply impressed by the utter unity of all he said -- always  the new wine in new bottles. Never any confusion with the old.  Even in cases where he is most directly confronted with the Law of Moses, he goes back beyond and up above it: "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"  What is the answer?

 "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath"  (Going back to God's original appointment in Gen. 2:3)

 "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." (by whose law, - Moses' or             [189

Christ's?)

 "It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath"  (as applicable today as the moment it was spoken).

 Christ's law reiterated 9 commandments, but not the Sabbath.  But  Christ did not did not 'destroy' the Sabbath: he absorbed it -- he spread it 7 days wide. He made every day a Sabbath, a day of God's work and not our own, every day a refraining from one's own natural interests and desires and advantage.

 Let us remember that when they asked him, "Is it lawful .  .  . ?", they were not asking him to explain Moses'  Law. They were quite satisfied they knew that. They were saying, in effect,  "We know what Moses said about this: do YOU say it is lawful to do so and so .  .  .? -- trying to set him against Moses. Consider again, faced even more directly with the Law --

 "Which is the greatest commandment of the Law?" Again his answer goes    [190

earlier, higher, the first law of Eden --  "This is love, that we keep his commandments -- 

 "On these 2 commandments (love God, love neighbour)  HANG  all the law and the prophets." These were greater, older, higher than the Law. They stood eternally above its passing carnal commandments  "imposed until the time of reformation". The Law simply was a temporary appendage, for a temporary purpose, hanging from them.

 Clapham quotes "Leave thy gift before the altar" (Matt. 5:24) to "prove"         [191

Christ was teaching the Law of Moses in the Sermon on the mount.  Surely this is childish!  Altars go right back to the beginning, to the beginning of sin and the divine provision for sacrifice and atonement.  The principle is timeless, from the promise in Eden of the slain lamb,  to the great culmination in the Paradise of God:  "We have an altar whereof they have no right to eat which serve the Tabernacle." We cannot cut the infinite scope and beauty of Christ's teaching down to fit merely into the narrow literal confines of the temporary Mosaic ritual.

 Returning to the article's #34.  Note that in this paragraph it admits that     [192

the "It hath been said"  of Matt. 5:31 does refer to Deut. 24:1-4, which Clapham takes great pains to deny, as destructive to its theory.  If as this article admits, Matt. 5:31 does refer to Deut. 24, then it runs into the direct contrast of Matt. 5:32, "But I say unto you" - proving that the provision of Matt. 5:32  (Exceptive Clause)  is not the same as, but contrasted with, Deut. 24.  Clapham clearly  perceives this, and labours mightily to "prove" Matt. 5:31 is false tradition and not Mosaic Law.

 #36  (With):   We must take all the law of Christ, and not just part of it. We      [193

must make it all fit harmoniously together.  Matt. 5:32 & 19:9 are just as much the law of Christ as any other part.

 #37  (One):    "If Christ does not allow a brother or a sister to divorce and remarry, we should read such in the writing of the Spirit through the Apostles."

 This is mere presumption. It is like the Jews demanding a sign, when they  [194

 had all the signs God considered necessary.  Are not 2 clear statements by Christ himself sufficient?  If not, how much more would be needed?  Do we have to demand it be revealed just as we say, before we will believe? If there were 4  places, would we demand 8? The Scriptures are ONE:  one perfect, God planned unity.  The fact that different books were written by different men is incidental. If a specific and secondary exception is sufficiently covered in one place, it doesn't have to be in another. Its all one book of God.

 I would expect (if our personal expectations are worth anything) the picture  [195

to be just as it is, and would be surprised if the Exceptive Clause were more prominent. Why make that over prominent? It is given right at the beginning in Christ's most comprehensive and systematic statement of his new law. It is given again the next time the matter is discussed.  Surely any more repetitions would be giving undue prominence to a very sad  (and hopefully very rare)  circumstance, especially in the light of the propensities of the flesh. Paul does mention it obliquely in passing, to prevent his advice to the divorced to remain single being misinterpreted as a command. The article has to woefully wrest  Scripture to get away from this, as we shall see #41.

 It will be noted that Mark. 10 (while obviously recording the same incident  [196

as Matt. 19 -- see context)  not only omits the Exceptive Clause but also that part of the question directly related to it.--

 Mark: "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?"

Matt.: "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?"

 Why the difference in reporting the same question? "Contradiction"? No. Mark is clearly concerned with the general law. Matthew gives more detail, and includes both the Exceptive Clause and that part of the question relating to it.  How do the proponents of this new theory explain the variation?

 Continuing #37  (One):  "Dare any of you... go to the law before the unjust...?"    [197

 I do not believe anyone in the Berean fellowship would for a moment suggest or condone going to law against another for any cause. This has been a firm, clear and agreed stand from the beginning. Bro. Roberts spoke frequently and vehemently against it. Truly it is good that this principle be kept clear, and repeated frequently, but to so introduce it in juxtaposition with the basic theory of this article is to create a misleading impression that those who are against this theory countenance going to law against another.

 #38  (We):  "There can be no contradiction in the Word of God."                          [198

 To this all will heartily say Amen!  But let us not manufacture artificial 'contradictions' as straw men to knock down.

 #39  (With):   Referring to 1 Cor. 7:27:  "Bound to a wife: seek not to be            [199

loosed."

 The article here clearly (and correctly, I believe) defines "loosed" as that which is forbidden in the basic marriage law, namely  (I suppose the article means), divorce.  However #40 makes this unclear,  for it makes a point of saying the 2nd. "loosed" of v. 27 is a different word from the first.

 #40.  (Now):  "Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife." The article          [200

 makes  a point of the words "loosed" being different,  but it does not say what it thinks this proves. Actually the difference is simply between a verb (luo: to loose) and its related noun (lusis: a loosing).  Strong says the noun lusis is derived from the verb luo.

 The article says this second "loosed" means "divorced" and this would          [201

seem the obvious and simple meaning from the context. It is the common Greek word for loose. In usage, it was employed to signify divorce.

#41 (Now):    The article refers to the immediately following sentence: "But    [202

and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned ." V. 28.  Here we find in the article another strange claim of 'contradiction' , and another strange manipulation of Scripture, wresting two contiguous and obviously-related verses apart because together as they are in the Scripture they do not fit this theory.

 First, let us consider this claim that 1 Cor. 7:27-28  is a 'contradiction' if       [203 read together as it stands in Scripture.  The related section is verses 25-28. The obvious line of reasoning is this:-

 

V. 25:  "Now concerning virgins": should they "abide as is"?  (V. 24).  "I have  NO COMMANDMENT  (note well) to give."

          "I give my judgment -- advice -- as one who is specially qualified to give guidance to the Ecclesias .  .  .

V. 26:  "I suppose (that is, it appears to me to be best)  that a man (virgin) stay

as he is. (It would appear from "man" in the answer that "virgin" in the question refers to both sexes. This agrees with Greek usage).

V.  27:  "But suppose you are already bound to a wife?  Do not seek to be loosed."

"Or you have been married but have been loosed (divorced) from a wife? Do not seek a wife."

V. 28:  "But if you do marry (the one just mentioned), it is not a sin -- that is, I am not commanding you (see V.25), I am advising in answer to inquiry. "And if a virgin (unmarried person) marry, she (or he) has not sinned."

 It is so inescapably obvious that Paul is giving advice. He takes great pains  [204

to make this clear: 'I have no commandment; I give my judgment; I suppose.' How then could anyone possibly see a 'contradiction' just as vs. 27 & 28 stand together? It seems so obviously reasonable and in complete harmony with the whole chapter and so crystal clear to understand it as the brethren always have: "I advise you to stay single, but you do not sin if you marry."

 On this matter of finding "contradictions" where there are none, and then      [205

building arguments on them, just another word in illustration of the groundlessness of the alleged 'contradiction' between bre. Thomas and Roberts (see my pgs. 3 & 4 - 1866 quotation). It will be noted that there is an apparent contradiction between quotations #7 and #10 from bro. Roberts (see my pg. 3).  No. 7 says the law of England at that time permitted divorce for adultery and cruelty;  No. 10 mentions adultery only. To resolve this 'contradiction' it is necessary to know that divorce by English law at that time for cruelty  (divorce a mensa et thoro: "from table and bed") did not allow remarriage; divorce for adultery ('absolute divorce') did. In alleging 'contradiction'  between witnesses known to be reliable and competent, there must be very strong and clear evidence. This is a basic principle even in human law. If an unknown factor can be reasonably suggested that would reconcile apparent 'contradiction', it must be accepted.

 Having discovered this supposed "contradiction" between vs. 27 & 28 of 1 Cor. 7, the article on the strength of it takes the terrible liberty of wresting  v. 28 away from v. 27, to which it is so clearly connected by the conjunction 'but'. And why?

To make it stop saying, what it continues to keep saying as long as it is together as in Scripture:  "You, the man 'loosed' from a wife, do not sin if you remarry."

 If I felt at liberty to treat Scripture like this, to wrest verses apart           [206 because together they say what I do not agree with, or to take Matt.19:10 and move it to  Mark 10, so that it refers to Mark 10:9 instead of Matt. 19:9 as it stands in Scripture -- if I felt at liberty to do this, I am sure I could make Scripture prove or disprove anything.  There is absolutely no contradiction in 1 Cor. 7:27-28, just as it stands together, and just as it has always been understood together.  We have neither reason nor authority to rend them apart. No one would think of doing it if they did not have a theory to justify.

 End Section #6  of GVG/RANDELL article. (To Be Continued)

fhigham

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Reply with quote  #12 

Begin Section #7 of GVG/RANDELL article. (Continued From Above)

 #43 - 45  (In conclusion):  On the basis of its theory, which I believe I have proven to be unscriptural, the article makes some final unproven assertions which have no basis in Scripture.

 #44  (We): One who has remarried commits adultery, therefore remaining in     [207

this condition would continue to commit adultery."

  The article makes this bold statement, and makes no attempt to prove it. It is untrue and unprovable.

 #45  (Therefore):  "Therefore the only way either one or both could be               [208

received back into fellowship is to first separate from the sinful union, and then after repentance could be received into fellowship."

 A bold assertion, unproven and unprovable. In legislating that such couples must separate, and such families must be broken up, we are going beyond the command, and tampering with powers and forces far beyond our control. We are blithely legislating financial burdens and further needless disruption and sorrow, and lifelong physical abnormalities.

 I find that the spirit of some in regard to this problem is condemning  and   [209
punitive, rather than loving and compassionate, eager to run and meet the repentant sinner.   Brethren write to me that these sinners  must be "punished" - that they must by all means be deprived of the fruits of their sin. I find this harsh viewpoint very distressing.  I cannot feel it is the spirit we are taught to have toward erring
brethren. Our kindness and compassion must balance our purity and zeal, or we are but 'holy' monsters. Christ was the purest and most zealous of all men. He was also the most compassionate and loving  and understanding toward the weak and the sinner.

 This new theory is, as bro. Roberts described a similar well-meaning but    [210erroneous theory about the permanent exclusion of those who contract alien marriage, 'monstrous'. This theory is monstrous because it is out of touch with reality -- because it legislates sorrow just for the sake of sorrow, to punish the sinner. It shuts the ecclesial door of comfort and strength and love and companionship on a repentant sinner just when he needs them most.

 If we had the power of God, if we could turn back the clock, if we could      [211

expunge solemn life-commitments, if we could restore virginity, if we could put children back in the womb, if we could undo actuality, then perhaps this theory might be realistic. But we cannot do these things.  We cannot change facts.  We can only with our tampering make a bad situation worse, and a sad situation sadder.

 This theory requires both partners, innocent or guilty, to live the rest of their lives in what is for most people a sexually abnormal condition, under great temptation  (1 Cor. 7:5) and it makes no provision  for a normal family life for any children involved.

 This theory involves an utter incongruity for which I have in vain sought a   [212

logical and scriptural justification for 30 years. According to Clapham's clause B, the brother at present at issue in the controversy could never be received back as long as he maintains relations with  his present wife.  According to clause C,  his present wife, if she pass a scriptural examination,  must be accepted while in her present relationship to him, and she must be told it is her duty to fulfil that covenant-relationship. This is an impossible situation.  If one cannot be accepted, it is on the grounds that, as this article claims, their present state is 'adulterous'. It is absurdity to say of a married couple that the state of one is adulterous and the state of the other is pure. To such confusion does adding to the word of God lead us. Honestly face this impossible anomaly, do not avoid it or turn from it, but think it through to the end, and it must force any sincere and reasonable mind to the conclusion that this theory cannot possibly be correct.  There must be a solution with practical, wholesome hope on which a sound new future can be built.

 The teaching of Christ, as faithfully expounded by bre. Thomas and Roberts,  [213
present a simple solution to this impossible dilemma of this new theory. Adultery is a dreadful abomination, and divorce is a terribly sad evil, but the way of Christ is a facing of the facts, and of dealing with them, and of clearing away the broken remnants of the old failure, and of laying a new, cleared foundation with hope for the future. It does not condone the dreadful sin that lies at the root of the
problem, but it does provide a logical and practical solution, and extend mercy, and offer hope for a normal rebuilt future, and it does not perpetuate a dangerous lifelong abnormality that can serve no useful purpose.  Divorce, in the one extreme case permitted by Christ, is the surgeon's knife to cut out the cancer of incurable adultery and permit the rebuilding of a normal life.

 * * *

 TO SUMMARIZE:  Numbers indicate my [right hand] paragraph numbers. 

 The teachings of bre Thomas, Roberts, Jannaway, and the whole Brotherhood up till at least the 1920's is clearly established:  Matt. 5:32 & 19:9 are part of Christ's law, and permit divorce and remarriage in case of adultery.

A new theory  -- the Clapham error, was introduced in the 1930's.  Leading and responsible Berean brethren of that day fought it as unscriptural.

An article is being circulated attempting again to introduce this error among us, and requires  its acceptance as a condition of fellowship.

The article's purpose is to get rid of Matt. 5:32 & 19:9 as the law of Christ.  My purpose is to show the many errors of the article, and to establish Matt. 5:32 and 19:9 as the law of Christ, in harmony with bre Thomas and Roberts.

The article's basic premise is that Christ was teaching the Law of Moses in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:32) and in Matt. 19:9.  This truth is that Christ was always teaching his own law.               [5

The article says the Pharisees were trying  to get Christ to explain the Law, & to adjudicate between Hillel & Shammai.  The truth is they were trying to trap him into a contradiction of the Law.     [5

The article's statements about Shammai are questionable, and its deduction on this point are incorrect.       [11-14

The article bases its arguments on such obviously weak grounds as:  "If Shammai were correct, Christ would have said so."  This is presumption.                [19-20

Matt. chs. 5-7  were to Christ's disciples:  they contain Exceptive Clause.    [ 21-22

Under Moses' Law (permitting polygamy) marriage to one woman could not be adultery against another.  So Matt. 19-9 cannot refer to Moses' Law.        [24-26

Several different common words are used for suspension or termination of the marriage relationship.  There is no specific word for divorce.                  [28-34

God gave Israel a bill of divorce for adultery (Jer. 3:8).   [32

God told Abraham to divorce Hagar many years after the birth of child.

(Gen. 21:10-12) .[34

The article postulates a rule that "When Christ speaks to his disciples, he makes no mention of permission to divorce or remarry,"  and that it is to the Pharisees  that he gives the Exceptive Clause.  Rule fails on 1st. 2 tests.       [35-42

Article takes Matt. 19:10-12 and attaches it to Mark 10:10-11 to prove that the marriage law without the Exceptive Clause was to Christ's disciples.   Put back in right place (after Matt. 19:9), these verses teach the very opposite.             [43-52

Article says Deut. 24:1-4 is only place in Law where divorce permitted. Untrue. [53

Article retricts Deut. 24 to pre-marital unchastity.  By its arguments it makes Joseph hard-hearted, not a man of God, not wanting to please God.            [54-56

Only other occurrence of 'ervah davar' (thing of nakedness), in Deut. 23:14 ,

certainly cannot mean what article says it means in Deut. 24.    [57

Article says Christ teaching different laws to different people & we must  decide.   [59

Article sees  'contradiction'  if Exceptive Clause is part of Christ's law:  Exceptive Clause is not 'contratiction'        [63-64

Sign of Jonas:  Matt. has exception; Mark hasn't.       [65-67

Violated virgin:  Ex has exception (which article needs); Deut. hasn't        [68-70

Article says those who disagree "subvert God's Word to satisfy desires." Unfair  .[72

Article says once marriage consummated, Israelite couldn't divorce. Untrue.      [77

Article says taking another wife (under Law) was adultery against wife put away.

Truth:  Under polygamy, no connection between wives, and no relation with any legal wife could be called adultery:  proves Matt. 19:9 not refer to Law.   [81-83

Article says Matt.19:9 is explaining hard-hearted provision.  Truth:  Matt. 19:9 given in direct contrast to hard-hearted provision.             [84

Wording of Matt.19:9 exact parallel  to Matt. 5:32 --"But I  say unto you."      [86-88

Three other provisions for divorce under Law (Exod. 21:2-4-7-11; Deut. 21:10-14); these prove that article's theory about Deut. 24:1-4 is incorrect.         [92-98

Article says fornication (porneia) is pre-marital unchastity, as contrasted with adultery.  Its theory is largely built on this error. I show exhaustively that fornication/porneia/zanah mean any unchastity in Eng., Heb., Grk.,  OT., NT.,  & Sept., and that it is used much more by God in OT for a wife's habitual    [99-129unfaithfulness than is adultery.  Christ spoke Heb:  used same word God did.

God, especially in this matter of marriage, has always dealt with, and provided for, reality, in light of man's frailty.  He does not perpetuate dead forms to establish technicalities.  Christ's permission is reasonable, merciful, constructive, realistic, and conducive to  holiness.  [131-134

Matt. 5-7: most comprehensive statement of Christ's new law, in contrast to Moses'

Law.  Clapham has completely swung around to theory that Christ is teaching Mosaic Law in contrast to Jew' false traditions.   [136-139

Mosaic Law was 'old bottles'  -  'ready to vanish away.'  Christ never taught it. [140

Law was 'ministration of condemnation': Cursed Christ in fulfilling it.          [144-5

Law could only curse:  had to be taken out of way.    [146

The great introduction to Sermon. on Mt:  Everlasting Gospel: New Covenant.  [153-4

The 6 great contrasts between Christ's new law and Moses' old Law.   [155

All vers except AV use to (was said to them):  grammar cofirms.  [155-157

#1.  "Thou shalt not kill":  Moses' Law or false tradition?   [158

#2.  "Thou shalt not commit adultery":  Moses's Law or false tradition?         [159

#3.  The Exceptive Clause.  Direct contrast with Law.  New theory's dilema :-

Christ's 'But I say; here must be in harmony with high spiritual characteristics of his first 2  'But I say'  pronouncements.              [161-162

 Another dilemma:  Clapham says Jew who followed Matt. 5:32 would be 'most pleasing to God."  Article says he would be hard-hearted.               [163

 Clapham quibbles:  Not word-for-word from Law>  Ans:  Most quotes from OT in NT not word-for-word.  Most varyfar more than this.              [164165
#4.  "Must perform oaths":  Moses' Law or false  Jewish tradition?     [171-173

#5.  "Eye for an eye":  Moses's Law or false Jewish tradition?                 [175-177

#6.  "Love neighbor, hate enemy":  the word 'hate':  Clapham says  not fit the Law.

Quotes to prove it does, &  this is crowning contrast --  Moses vs Christ.             [179-187

Christ always teaching own law, even when directly confronted with Moses' Law: Sabbath -  Greatest command  -  Gift before altar.                           [188-191

Article says if Christ permits divorce & remarriage, we'd read it oftener.

Like Jews: demand sign.  The teachings are clear.  We must accept as is; not dictate.  It's just as would expect: 1st. 2 times:  over-prominence not good.     [193-195

Mark omits Exceptive Clause:  also omits part of question leading to it.  Why?   [196

Go to Law against another: Berean position firm:  bro Roberts vehement against. [197

Article sees 'contradiction' in 1 Cor. 7:27-8 as it stands: most separate 27 & 28.

Truth:  no contradiction.  Paul very clear:  advice, not command.  Anything  could be 'proved' by separating verses on plea of 'contradiction.'       [198-206

Article's final erroneous, unproved, unrealistic conclusion:  can never return while 2nd. marriage exists.  Article's theory harsh & unreal:  demands dangerous, unnatural lifelong condition, solves nothing, cannot restore original conditions, only create more sorrow, perpetuate open  wounds all around.   [207- 211

 The great oncongruity:  1 partner acceptable; other rejected for adultery.         [212

Christ's wise & merciful law deals with reality, lays new foundation, make possible a natural, normal new life, and brings good out of evil.             [213

   *   *   *

  These basic truths should again be re-emphasized in closing :--   Marriage is for life: to break it is a very serious sin - an "abomination."

 Going to law against another for any reason (including divorce) is a very serious sin against the deepest principles of Christ's law in Matt. 5-7.

 Divorce and remarriage are evils, and are to be utterly avoided as long as there is any possible hope of scriptural reconciliation. (On this point, the Berean Restatement was never meant to contradict the consistent stand of the early Brotherhood in harmony with the teachings of bre. Thomas and Roberts. I can testify personally to this as I had the most to do with it.  It went just as far as the Brotherhood chose to go. There are many who would never have accepted it if they had understood it to repudiate the convictions of bre. Thomas and Roberts and condemn them and their beliefs to disfellowship.)

 *   *   *

We all have much to learn about spiritual things, about what love and compassion really are and really call for in help and service to the weak and straying. This present problem and controversy is to teach us many things, if we will face it and learn. At best we perceive the divine beauty of the Christ character as through a glass darkly. We are all, like the unconverted Paul, self righteous Pharisees at heart, especially if we are, or fancy ourselves to be, zealous for "purity" -- that is, other people's purity. If we were so zealous for purity in ourselves - real deep-down purity of heart and thought and emptying of self and of service unto others - purity from all the daily-repeated ugliness and selfishness of the flesh - what divine and heavenly places the ecclesias would be!

       *   *   *

Finally, beloved brethren and sisters, may I very strongly urge this.  It is much easier, and more exciting, and more spectacular, to break down than to build, to scatter and stampede a flock than to gather it together in love. We have laboured together for years to build.

 Before you support any new movement to break up the Berean Brotherhood on this the very verge of the Master's return, give to the convictions of our bre. Thomas and Roberts all the weight which their deep knowledge, and spirituality, and lifelong service to the truth, deserve. If they were wrong in vital matters of fellowship, what hope have we, who depend on their God-provided help so greatly. Could we write Eureka, or Elpis Israel or Christendom Astray? Look at the puny efforts of all who have tried to supplant them.

 These brethren were not ignorant men, they were not changeable men, they were outstandingly consistent men, stable men, and they left a consistent record throughout lives of complete dedication to the service of the Truth. They did not (in the words of this article), "Seek to subvert God's Word to satisfy their own desires or to excuse some close to them."

 On the contrary, they were spiritually minded men, deeply versed in the true spirit of the Scriptures; they were compassionate and realistic men. They had no emotional orthodox fetishes about marriage. They recognised that God who appointed marriage could regulate as He chose, and as He did in such a great variety of ways in the past, clearly manifesting that He was not blindly bound to the technicalities of

His own ordinances, but adjusted them to man's needs in wisdom and in love.

 These brethren recognised that God alone could solve its problems and promulgate its laws to bring the greatest good and least evil out of what is simply a passing provision for the present weak, stumbling mortal existence -

 "In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage."

 Do not be misled into an unsound position that rejects these brethren and all who believe like them as unfit for fellowship. Consider their teachings, and the teachings of Scripture, prayerfully and with an unbiased mind. Let us examine the processes of our own thinking, and free ourselves as much as possible from blind and unreasoning emotion, and from fetishes and prejudices unconsciously absorbed from worldly and orthodox sources.

 I for one deeply value, and daily thank God for, the providentially-provided help and guidance of these two brethren, apart from whom I would never have known the glorious saving Truth of God, and I stand with them until the end.

                                -- G.V. Growcott, July, 1971.

End Section #7  of GVG/RANDELL article.    END OF GVG ARTICLE

fhigham

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Reply with quote  #13 


GRACE AND TRUTH
THE DIVINE BASIS OF FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION

“YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS”

For the above reasons we must therefore pause and consider the fundamental principles contained in Christ’s teachings of the inner‐man with respect to adultery (Matthew 5:27–32) and more broadly, how Christ wants his disciples to be motivated by “the righteousness that comes from God” in contrast with the righteousness of man (Matthew 5:20). The Lord Jesus Christ’s law of the innerman with respect to adultery forms only one aspect of a broader interlocking theme encompassing six examples (Matthew 5: 21‐48) by which the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:20) is contrasted with what Paul, the great interpreter of his Master’s words calls, “the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9). This remarkable contrast, which forms such an important element of Christ’s introductory teaching, is played out until the very end between those who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous and treated others with contempt” and he whom they mocked, “trusted in God”, and “saved others but cannot save himself” (Luke 18:9; Matthew 26:42–43). Christ’s teaching and example established a great gulf between false shepherds who were ravenous wolves, and the good Shepherd; between healthy trees that bear good fruit, and diseased trees that bore bad fruit; between those who do the will of the Father and those who the Lord declares “I never knew you”; between those who “hear and do his words” and those who “hear and do them not” (Matthew 7:15–27). To correctly understand Christ’s teachings with respect to divorce and remarriage, we must see how it forms a part of his broader doctrine, and in searching out the matter, we must accompany the Lord in his ministry to behold Yahweh’s “true religion”.

Man’s religion has a tendency either towards a Judaistic spirit or a belief that “God’s grace is all sufficient for salvation”. This tendency can be present in the body of Christ, as is illustrated by the Lord’s warning to the seven ecclesias (Revelations 2&3). The Judaistic spirit is illustrated with the first of the seven, and the “Grace is all sufficient” by the last of Christ’s seven messages. Both are particularly applicable to the Christadelphian body of this age before the thief like Advent of the Lord.

The Laodiceans had a confidence but not a true faith, for what Christ describes as the Laodicean spiritual condition is the antithesis of faithfulness. True faithfulness is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen, as illustrated by that woman who knew she was “wretched, pitiable and poor”, who said in herself “if I only touch his garment, I will be made whole.”

But the Laodiceans thought they were whole! (Matthew 9:22; Revelations 3:17). True faith encourages the hopelessly blind to be able to respond to Christ’s gracious, faith‐inspiring offer of healing, “do you believe that I am able to do this?” The answer is emphatically “yes!” But it did not enter the mind of the Laodiceans that they were blind (Matthew 9:28–29; Revelations 3:17). Despite their wretchedness, love will draw the disciple to Christ to wash his feet (Luke 7:38) by responding to the needs of even the least of his little ones (Matthew 25:40). Though such a faith is convinced that any mountain blocking the disciples’ path to the kingdom (1 Corinthians 13:2) can be removed, Christ only deems as “the righteous” (Matthew 25:37; Luke 7:50) those who demonstrated that they understood “if I have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). The woman of Luke 7:37‐50, in faith and love, washed the feet of the “Amen” or true faithfulness” (Revelations 3:14; Isaiah 65:16). This love was the first thing to decline in those seven ecclesias and in its place there arose a harsh Judaistic spirit that was manifested in their treatment of others (Luke 18:9; 1John 2:7–11).

The problem with the ecclesia in Ephesus was that they had relaxed their first love; the cause is implied in the opening title used by the Lord who “walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks”. The spirit of Christ was no longer seen in them that they might be constituted the ecclesia of the “living deity”. If as a “witnessing” community we are to burn brightly, then the light exhibited must be a reflection of “the glory of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth” and makes plain that Christ is in us individually and as an ecclesia. The warning for us is that although Ephesus was an apparently vigorous, strong ecclesia opposed to error, and would not “bear with those who are evil”; they in fact did not exhibit the characteristics and very purpose of a lampstand! If they did not change, Christ, whose teaching they so vigorously defended, would come and remove their light stand! (Revelation 2:1–5). The spirit word and its power were not causing them to grow in love. They were industrious in defending the truth, but the truth was not working in them individually or ecclesially to reflect (i.e. make alive as a witness) “the glory of the only son full of grace and truth” ESV. They had forgotten and consequently fallen from their first love. They had abandoned that love which was evidenced by works that characterise their thankful appreciation of Christ’s sacrifice (Ephesians 2:12– 13). For that reason the Lord exhorts them to do the first works (Revelation 2: 6); works which reflected Paul’s exhortation—“speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love”(Ephesians 4:15–16).

“Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees you shall in no case enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20)

The book of Deuteronomy is Moses’s inspired explanation of the law, to that which the law was designed to lead, even to the righteousness of faith. Israel however, “being ignorant of the righteousness  that comes from God and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:3–4). Paul could therefore say that God made Christ “our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1Corinthians 1:30). In Deuteronomy 6: 20–25 a father teaches his son the meaning of the law, humbly describing that it was not by his wisdom or any man’s wisdom, nor by his might or any man’s might that he or Israel was delivered from the power of sin; that Yahweh had given commandments that we might fear Him for our good; that He will keep us to the coming of His kingdom and that “it will be righteousness for us if we are careful to do all this commandment”. This section of Deuteronomy 6 illustrates the righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees—humble thankfulness for what Yahweh had done for a man who knew that there was nothing in him for which he could boast; except by the trials through which Yahweh had caused him to pass, he learnt about Yahweh “who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth” and that in these things Yahweh delighted (Jeremiah 9:24). This knowledge transformed his life and filled him with a determination that as the heavenly Father is, so this humbled man, despite his sins, would be in the world.

In Luke chapter 18:9–14 the Lord Jesus told a parable “to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and treated others with contempt”. It was a parable about two men who went up to worship, one a Pharisee and the other “a sinner” (verses 10 & 13). The Pharisee separated himself from this sinner and “standing by himself, prayed” for all to hear, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector”. By contrast the tax collector who stood afar off, conscious of his fellow worshipper’s righteousness, adopting the spirit of Deuteronomy 6 prayed “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” This humble confession justified this man, and is the “righteousness” which the Lord said must “exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees” for entry into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5: 20). The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees nullified the spirit of the law and negated the first and greatest command expressed in the context of Deuteronomy 6, because this type of thinking is incapable of loving Yahweh and “thy neighbor as thyself” and therefore incapable of beholding “the glory of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth”.

This digression I hope will help the reader appreciate that the Lord’s teaching on adultery of the heart (Matthew 5: 21–48) needs to be understood in its spiritual context and when taken as a whole, it is the way by which we might “enter the kingdom of heaven”. These general principles have a direct bearing on every aspect of the disciple’s relationship with their heavenly Father. The Lord Jesus Christ shows that true perfection of that relationship is governed by the nature of our inner self towards our fellow men and women. We can at this time only consider a few aspects of this most important part of our Lord’s teachings.

fhigham

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Reply with quote  #14 

THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF SACRIFICE IN SEEKING RECONCILIATION

In Matthew 5: 21–24 the Lord immediately establishes the arena of judgement in which he alone will sit to examine. In contrast with the act, the Lord considers the mind and spoken word as if it were the deed already performed. The Lord had said in verse 17 that he had come to “fulfil the law”. Its fulfilment, he states in another place, rested in one’s undiminished love of God who “loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins”. The disciple, in thankful response under trial, makes plain the Father’s character by “loving one another” as the Father loved us, who “while we were enemies were reconciled to God by the death of his son”. This knowledge strengthens one’s faith so that under trial we are able to love our neighbours as ourselves (Matthew 22:37, 38; 1 John 4:10, 11; Romans 5:10; 1 Peter 2:20–24).

Anger is primarily the displacement of the love of God from our minds, a wilful disregard of what God has done for us in Christ. If anyone has reason to be angry because of one’s rights being violated, it is Yahweh. If anyone has the right to call transgressors “thou empty and worthless one”, it is Yahweh. If anyone has the right to say “thou fool”, it is Yahweh. The apostle Paul reminds us, “You that were some time alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works yet now has he reconciled, in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Colossians 1:21–22).

If we through God’s grace have been so constituted, how can we manifest a mind that is of the world, the angry, abhorring, vengeful mind of the children of disobedience? From where then does adultery of the mind arise; from the mind of God or from the spirit of this world? From where does an angry, unforgiving, intolerant, unmerciful, irreconcilable spirit arise? Is it from friendship with God or friendship with the world? James states, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust and have not: you kill and desire to have… You fight and war….” By so doing the minds of these brethren were joined with the world and James calls them, “adulterers and adulteresses”! “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?”(James 4:1–4). Paul adds, “that all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and evil speaking, be put away from you with all malice: And be kind one to another tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31–32).

The Lord has called us to do this because Yahweh has first reconciled and forgiven. We can love because Yahweh first loved us. The gift we therefore bring to the altar of Christ (Matthew 5:23–24) is that which God has already first given to us by way of example, as set forth in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. If that gift which by our acknowledgement is provided by God, then it can only be received by God if we are reconciled towards those who have “something against us”. The Lord Jesus Christ is not interested in seeing his disciples upholding their rights; this is not the example he left us to follow, but rather have we done all in our power to heal, forgive and be reconciled? There may be in our brother’s or sister’s mind an enmity that we know of, that has caused them to have “something against us” and it may stand in the way of their salvation. It does not matter therefore whether our actions in causing this enmity were right or wrong, because “when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life”—that is, his resurrected life in which we are commanded to walk in newness of life, following his example (Romans 5:10; Romans 6:4: 1Peter 2:20–24).

fhigham

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Reply with quote  #15 

JUSTICE, MERCY AND TRUTH—MATTHEW 5:25–26

Immediately preceding Christ’s words on adultery (Matthew 5:27–32), the Lord, not without significance, speaks of a debtor and his creditor. In this parable the Lord presents three principal characters—the creditor, whose rights have been abused and seeks redress, the debtor, and the judge who is Yahweh. The creditor being fully persuaded that the facts of the case are all in his favour, has no hesitation in appealing to Yahweh’s law to vindicate his rights. He dogmatically appeals to the letter of the law, which he feels no doubt will reveal the true character of his debtor. However in so doing, he lovelessly condemns his debtor to judgement without mercy, and unknowingly abrogates the very essence of the law to which he appealed. It is these words of Christ that leads James in his consideration of this very law to which the creditor was so quick to appeal, to speak of “the royal law”, because it is intimately connected with “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart…”

“If you really fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘you shall love your neighbour as yourself’ you are doing well” (James 2:8).

Where does such consideration leave the creditor in Christ’s parable and in James’s consideration? For if the old covenant taught anything, it taught that all were under condemnation because of sin. This realisation should have evoked the spirit of mercy. This spirit should have likewise permeated the debtor in his willingness to settle their differences. How much more should we have this spirit; we who live under the bonds of the everlasting covenant, purged through God’s unbounded love and mercy with the blood of Christ, who did no sin, who died and redeemed us from the burden of incalculable debt! “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgement is without mercy to one who showed no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement” (James 2:12–13).

We are to be judged by the law of liberty, not the law of an eye for an eye or just recompense for damage incurred. How thankful we ought to be for this, for what flesh will stand before the great judge if grace and mercy are not the characteristics of his law of love? It is this grace which must find its spontaneous outworking in the newly created lives of the children of light as manifestations of Yahweh’s character. We follow him who suffered for us, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21–23). The “law of liberty” frees us both in this life and that which is to come from the continuous chain of sin and retribution. Woe unto us who without exception, longingly desire God’s mercy, if we make Christ’s example—the law of liberty and the law of love—a law of condemnation and of judgement that in any way erects barriers or even destroys the principles of reconciliation and forgiveness! I have seen individuals and entire fellowships utterly destroyed because they refused to face these pressing responsibilities.

We deceive ourselves if we think that by adopting unscriptural principles we can compel ecclesial debtors to pay unscriptural penance, erecting unscriptural barriers in the name of maintaining ecclesial peace, that only serve to prohibit any possibility of reconciliation. When I have seen ecclesias do this, more and more cases arose which only served to compound the unscriptural, unloving, UnChristlike position they adopted, eventually tearing them apart until their witness for Christ was no more! However, when as a fellowship, we take the yoke of Christ upon us and learn from him who is gentle and lowly in heart, we find “rest for our souls” in surrendering to his example, though at first the mind of the flesh may think that it is too hard and we recoil at the prospect. Regardless of how difficult the problems are that may arise in ecclesial life, when Christ is by our side “his yoke is easy and his burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–29).

When the facts of a particular dispute are examined and we inevitably appeal to God’s law to support our respective positions, it will not be a simple question of whether we are right or wrong, but whether the spirit of Christ was the governing principle at the heart of our actions. When we stand before the great King, he will not be interested in whether we can justify our actions by an appeal to his law in a cold legalistic manner, but will judge our spirit or disposition towards our fellow man or woman irrespective of the facts. Have we allowed any opportunity for reconciliation to pass? And even if all attempts failed, has love been our patient rejoinder, declaring that the path to reconciliation remains open, and if it was closed, that it was not by our doing? Why? Because by our new birth being “born from above,” born “not of blood nor the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12–13) we are a godly seed. We know that he (God) is righteous and “that everyone that does righteousness is born of him” (1 John 1:29) and “are of God” (2 Corinthians 5:18).

What is this ‘righteousness’ that the sons of God are to do? Bro. Thomas explains in one of his many treatises on God manifestation, “The manifestation of the Yahweh name is only initiated, not completed in the person of Jesus Christ. The manifestation of Deity in flesh by the Holy Spirit or truth is amplified in the characters of true believers among men, who are ‘partakers of the Divine nature’ in its constitution, as the earnest of their future participation in the Divine substance… He is manifested in them through the truth affectionately and righteously believed. If ‘the truth as it is in Jesus’ is in men, thus Christ who is the truth, is in them and the spirit of Christ is in them, for ‘the spirit is the truth’” (1 John 5:6).

The evidence of God’s love was his reconciliation to himself of his enemies. The supreme sacrifice was the giving of his beloved son, forsaken, violated, wronged, despised, rejected, whipped, spat upon and cursed, for truly what man did to Christ was done unto his Father. Tragically, we can return to that “old man” state as enemies arrayed against Yahweh, if by our actions we hinder the revelation of God’s work in us by consciously choosing not to follow Christ’s example in our responses to the personal and ecclesial trials through which we pass. Situations will arise in our lives which will help us gain a deep appreciation of that work and its motivation, that is, the spirit of forgiveness, mercy and love. If His work of reconciliation is central to that revelation of God, how much more should be his children’s, if we are his children indeed?

Reconciliation becomes the paramount issue of Christ’s parable; “whilst thou art with him in the way” (Matthew 5:25 R.V.). Of course the debtor must acknowledge his/her sin, must forsake his/her way. But the disposition of the creditor is often the primary means by which repentance can be facilitated and a true and lasting reconciliation forged. Yahweh in His grace, mercy and forgiveness becomes the great example of what the mind of every wronged brother or sister should strive to be. Upon a purely human basis, this reasoning obviously has certain shortcomings, for the debtor could very easily point out the blatant shortcomings of his creditor, if not on the current dispute, then most certainly on many others. Such a realisation ought constantly to temper the creditor’s attitude, who should perceive, that both he and his debtor are unredeemable debtors to God if His grace was not extended, lest he fall into the position of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21–25).

The lot that is therefore common to all God’s servants is our need for continual reconciliation and mercy. As Yahweh is our creditor, we must “seek Him while He may be found”, to “call upon Him while He is near” and to forsake our wicked ways and thoughts and “return unto the Lord” while we are in the way, in the day of opportunity, before we come and stand before Him as our judge, that He will have “mercy” and “abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6–7).

 

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