Wednesday, September 23, 2009

MacArthur Milks the Prodigal Son

Kinda suggested that I might get to Bailey's stuff on the prodigal son here.
Thought MacArthur might be a little more edifying, though. And he is.
He mentions three books of Bailey as his source in the intro. Directly quotes Bailey twice in the book. And Bailey is sourced in half (2) of the footnotes in this book.
Twice as much as I'd like to see.
Yet when I post a comment on a YouTube video suggesting as much- it gets removed as hostile?
Was recently notified that somebody subscribed to my YouTube channel- didn't think I had one.
Glad I don't subscribe to FaceBook.
Even gladder not to Tweet.

Oh well, on with the show this is it...

MacArthur begins by suggesting that "it's not a good idea to try to milk meaning out of every incidental detail in a parable" (viii). I would suggest that he should have followed his suggestion.
Particularly when he milks Bailey for 'cultural insight'.

One of these lactations occur when MacArthur suggests (20,85) that "the idea that God would freely accept and forgive repentant sinners... was a shocking and revolutionary concept. Almost no one in that society could conceive of God as reaching out to sinners". And that this society thought it was "the repentant sinners duty to work hard to redeem himself and do his best to gain whatever degree of divine favor he could earn".

Carson doesn't see such merit theology in their society here. It is also very hard to believe that they were that ignorant of very basic Torah (Exodus 33:19) and prophets ( Psalm 51:17, Isa. 1:11. and Mic. 6:6-8). Would they think that God freely accepting and forgiving Ninevah was novel stuff? Basic stuff that Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai supposedly had to re-teach them after the sacrifices could no longer be performed (when the temple was destroyed)?
Neusner is similarly quite critical of such Rabbinic studies of that period here.

Another lactation occurs when the prodigal son is suggested to be wishing his father dead (45,51). That "any self-respecting father in that culture would naturally feel he had to disgrace the son as publicly as possible- giving him a slap across the face, a public denunciation, formal dismissal from the family, and possibly a funeral".
Young makes a bold claim that Bailey is being anachronistic- by importing modern examples into the first century here. In other words, this is shear speculation. There is no historical reference.

A final lactation occurs when MacArthur claims, the elder son "never really understood or appreciated his fathers goodness to him; but he was happy to receive it and milk it for whatever he could get out of it". Seems a little hyperbolic to me. Almost as mockingly hyperbolic as Luke 15:31.

Apart from these lactations MacArthur does some excellent stuff here. Perhaps unknowingly- even shooting Bailey's gospel directly in the udder:

"And so we're told, Christians should be less concerned about their personal redemption and more concerned about redeeming our culture or resolving the large scale dilemma of our times, such as racial prejudice, global warming, poverty, the marginalization of disenfranchised people or whatever worldwide crisis is slated to be featured cause for the next Live Aid concert(142)".

See Bailey's gospel here and here. Udderly incompatible.

A shame that MacArthur borrows Bailey's cream. Incompatible bedfellows indeed.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fireproofing Your Body and Soul

Spoiler Alert

Does he look worried to you?

Nah. He's a fireman in this movie. Supposedly see's it all the time.

Knows what fire can do. Thinks he knows what the fire will do.

Till he has a revelation of real fire. A fire that can destroy the body. A fire that can destroy the soul. A revelation of Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell (Matthew 10:28). A revelation from Him WHO WAS, AND WHO IS, AND WHO IS TO COME (Rev. 4:8).

Does she look worried to you? Nah. Just angry. Seems like that a lot in this movie.

Husband (fireman) is a jerk. And likes jerking off. Isn't flattering this nurses ego enough. So she finds a doctor to flatter her.

Such doctor turns out to be a philanderer. While her husband becomes convicted of sin- and ceases from being a porn junkie. Her husband then attempts to woo this angry woman back (contrary to 1 Cor. 7:15).

Kinda freaks her out. Kinda concedes that 'people can change'. Kinda concedes that she ought to change.

So they do the 'happily ever after' thing again.

Does she ever get angry again? Does he ever jerk off again (which are not necessarily sinful- see here)?

Do they ever commit adultery again?

Wait a minute you say, "He was never committing adultery. He was just looking at a computer monitor!"

Wait a minute you say, "She was never committing adultery. She was just looking to a flattering doctor!"

Well... Cameron (fireman) and Comfort (evangelist) appear to suggest (The Way Of The Master) - 'It's the same thing!'.

But it's not.

Perhaps you differ, "Jesus said it was the same thing!". But did he? Let's look at this passage.

In Matthew 5:28 you will see that Jesus makes a distinction. He adds the qualification, "in his heart".

To their credit, Cameron and Comfort grant this qualification as well.

But this qualification relegates this commandment to the same definition as the tenth commandment- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife...

A commandment that impacted the apostle Paul greatly (Romans 7:8). The commandment that was actually foremost in impacting Cameron as well.

But such is not physical adultery. We must not get loose with our definitions.

Such looseness would grant virtually everyone virtuous grounds for divorce. Such was not Jesus intent.

The intent of Jesus's charge of coveting in that Matthew passage (and charge of hating your brother in the prior passage)- was to bring our sinfulness to the forefront. To recognize that we would do well to covet the sinless one (2 Corinthians 5:21). To truly love God and our brother made in His image. To know truly monogamous rapturous intercourse with Christ. Lest our whole body and non-virtuous soul be thrown into Hell.

A good reason not to be non-virtuous. And an infinitely better reason to actually be virtuous.

Please allow me to close with some inept wisdom from the Talmud:

A king once engaged two watchmen to take care of his orchard. One was blind and the other lame. still they answered the purpose very well; for their presence was quite sufficient to keep depredators at a distance.
One evening the lame watchman was sitting in the orchard, when his eyes fell upon a bunch of luscious grapes, the first and only ripe ones in the whole place.
"Are you feeling very thirsty?" said he to his blind companion, who was walking up and down, feeling his way with a stick.
"Would you like a bunch of fine juicy grapes?"
"Yes", was the blind man's reply. "But you know we cannot pick them. I am blind and cannot see. You are lame and cannot walk".
"True", said the lame man. "Still we can get at them...take me on your back. I can guide you, and you can carry me to the grapes".
And so they stole the precious fruit and ate it.

Now the next day the king went into the orchard to gather this very cluster of grapes; for he had already observed it as being just fit for the table. It had vanished, and he at once taxed the watchmen with the theft.

"How can my lord, the king accuse me of such a thing?", exclaimed the lame man. "Here I must sit all the days of my life, without moving a single inch; for am I not lame?"
"And how can my lord accuse me of such a thing, when I am blind?" asked the other. "How can the heart long after, or the hands reach that which the eyes cannot behold?"

The king answered not a word. But he ordered his servants to place the lame man on the back of the blind man, and he condemned them to punishment just as if they had been one man.

So it is with the soul and body of a man. The soul cannot sin without the body, nor the body without the soul; the sin of both is the sin of each, and it will not avail in the great day of judgment to shirk the responsibility; but even as the lame and blind watchmen, body and soul will be judged as one.

One would think that the Talmud would understand coveting better than that. One should hope that they understand coveting better than that.
Failing that, they should have little confidence in being fireproof. And far less confidence of being in communion with Christ.

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