20 December 2005

Ex lex?



No law can be set above God, but God Himself should never be thought of as utterly lawless. There are things He cannot do: "He cannot deny Himself" (2 Timothy 2:13). He "cannot lie" (Titus 1:2).

The reason He cannot do these things is not because some higher law binds Him, but because such actions are inconsistent with His own holy character.

Calvin wrote: "We fancy no lawless God who is a law unto himself. . . . The will of God is not only free of all fault but is [itself] the highest rule of perfection, and even the law of all laws" (Institutes 3.23.2).

To the careless thinker, it may seem as if Calvin was either contradicting himself or making an extremely fine distinction (God is not a law unto Himself; but His will is the law of all laws). Actually Calvin was making a crucial point. A proper understanding of biblical law ultimately hinges on this point: While acknowledging that God gives account to no one, we must likewise recognize that He is not lawless. The moral principles by which God rules, far from being aimless or arbitrary, are grounded in His own perfect holiness and are therefore as eternal and unchangeable as God Himself.

It is vital to see this aspect of the law. Unless you want to say that God is capricious, changeable, or even lawless, you cannot deny that certain eternally inviolable moral standards flow from His very character and not only determine the nature of the law by which He governs His creatures, but these principles also circumscribe God's own actions.

If you affirm that much, you have already in effect acknowledged the validity of a fundamental distinction between the moral and ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic code.

Some addenda after reading the first few comments:

  1. I'm surprised the connection between the final sentence and the rest of the post seems like a non sequitur to so many. I'll definitely be expanding on this claim in future posts. But in short, the point seems pretty obvious to me:
    • The term "moral law" normally refers to those principles of holiness taught by the law that are expressions of God's own eternal, righteous, and immutable character. By definition, these are principles that cannot be altered or abrogated.
    • It's evident that some other aspects of the law have been fulfilled and thus either altered or abrogated (Hebrews 7:11-12). Hebrews 8-10 and Colossians 2 outline some of these shadowy, symbolic, and temporary aspects of the law. They are (by and large) symbols, not moral standards, and they clearly serve a different purpose from the eternal, moral elements of the law.
    • It is therefore folly to reject the distinction between moral and ceremonial law on the grounds that there's no "text" (a single proof-text?) outlining such a distinction in those precise terms. It is likewise folly to refuse to see that some aspects of the law are "weighter matters" (Matthew 23:23) just because we aren't given a convenient, explicit list of "objective criteria" to make hard-line distinctions. I'll acknowledge up front that the distinctions between the moral and ceremonial precepts of the law aren't always immediately clear, and sometimes they overlap (the Sabbath being the classic example). But (and here's one of my central points) this is a good example of where our thinking needs to be guided by "good and necessary consequence" and not merely by proof-texting.

  2. If "at first read" anyone thought I was saying "God is 'governed' by" law, you need to read the first phrase of my post again. Then read the second paragraph. I actually began by expressly denying such a notion.
  3. I'm also arguing, however, that this does not necessarily entail the notion that God is so utterly ex lex (without law) that He Himself might act in a way that is inconsistent with the righteous principles of His law, or that He would ever be arbitrary in what He wills.
  4. I'm not intending to suggest that God's character has ultimacy over His will. But the opposite notion strikes me as fraught with all sorts of mischief. When we contemplate the divine will and the divine character, it seems to me that the question of ontological antecedence is moot and wholly inappropriate. This is admittedly one of the difficulties we have trying to fathom God's eternality, but I am convinced that trying to understand God's will in isolation from His character is a serious error, and it's the very error I think Calvin was addressing in the quote I cited above.

Phil's signature

41 comments:

globalfriendshipnetwork said...

its because God is God

Ben said...

I was with you up until that last sentence. Although you may well be right that the distinction exists, I just don't see where the text gives us the objective criteria to tell the difference. If you said "acknowledged the possibility of a fundamental distinction," I would agree. I think we would have to get into a discussion of the purpose of the Mosaic code to determine if the moral/ceremonial distinction is valid and/or relevant.

danny2 said...

good post. one of satan's greatest lies is that he makes people think morality is created by humans, and therefore subject to our interpretation or adaptation.

it's a great encouragement to remember morality doesn't change because they flow from Him and He is unchanging.

Chris Freeland said...

I hope you'll expand on your last sentence as well. I had a hard time seeing how the higher law that governs God makes a distinction between the moral and ceremonial aspects to the Mosaic Law necessary.

At first read, it seems to indicate that you believe God is "governed" by the moral aspects of the Mosaic Law.

BugBlaster said...

The sixth chapter of Hebrews reinforces this, when it explains that God swore an oath by himself, in effect, making Him accountable to Himself for the promise he made to Abraham.

But you lost me as well with your last sentence. Kind of a non sequitor. Doesn't really follow.

But I do agree that the moral and the "ceremonial" aspects of the Law had different purposes. The purpose of the moral aspect is obvious. The purpose of the ceremonial aspects is to paint pictures of Christ and foreshadow Him. We are told that all scripture is profitable for ust to study, even those strange ceremonies, so what other purpose could there be?

ajlin said...

Mr. Johnson,

Does this mean that you are going to expound upon the difference between the moral and ceremonial law in future posts? Because, if so, that would be very helpful. Especially in conversations I've had with 7th Day Adventists.

-Andrew

Doulos said...

Good thoughtful post. God as the ultimate source of moral authority and the one Lawgiver is the One from whom His Law flows as a representation of His holy, perfect and righteous character. We redefine or judge this Law and authority at our own peril.

I assume when you refer to distinctions between the moral and ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic law that you are speaking of the intended purpose - one as a moral code of conduct, the other as a types and shadows of the New Covenant to come. Both aspects, however, must be seen as reflecting God's nature and character.

Vermigli said...

Useful post, Phil. I have had discussions on this subject with cultists (Armstrongism adherents and some Adventsts) and they literally hold "the law" (their bastardized and arbitrary version of it...) above God.

In effect, they really worship "the law" and God is simply a personification of this abstract moral code they have erected which they hold to be the all-important thing on their way to "becoming God" (in the case of the Armstrong followers).

In short, they have made their unbiblical view of the law their idol while mocking and rejecting the Person that is the true and living God. This is evident in their making the Almighty sovereign God subordinate to "the law," revealing their idolatry. It is inconceivable to them that God's law has its meaning and authority not because it is just "out there" but because God spoke it and it reflects His perfect holiness.

Too bad they won't read your post.

FJ De Angelis

pgepps said...

I'm *much* more voluntarist than this.

Calvin's meaning turns on an equivocation in the usage of "law"--the same one that makes certain skeptics express outrage at the notion that God would violate a "natural law."

One meaning is an enforced pre/proscription; the other meaning is an observed regularity believed with reason to be unfailing.

God is above all law in the first sense, and the giver of all law; He is utterly faithful in His chosen being, and therefore utterly regular in His moral determinations.

However, affirming the second sense does not justify our arguing as if God were subject to the "laws of [divine] nature" in any sense, and when you talk about "His holy character" as if such character were ontologically prior to His will to be holy, and to all the laws which flow *from* His holiness, you seem to commit a category error--as, perhaps, did Calvin.

God's will, we should be able to agree, is the central, first, and only eternally significant determinant of all things--even God's character.

Anything less is a Demiurge.

Cheers,
PGE

pgepps said...

BTW, *great* graphic. If my input weighs in any scales, I'd say "More like this, please!"

Cheers,
PGE

pgepps said...

Sorry for a third comment, but I just re-read your post in light of my comment, and I may have been agreeing with you against a misinterpretation of your point (i.e., I may have misread you). If so, my apologies for any confusion.

???
PGE

BugBlaster said...

pgepps,
I had to look up demiurge; and here I thought I was well read. :-)

You said:
"God's will, we should be able to agree, is the central, first, and only eternally significant determinant of all things--even God's character."

If this paragraph stands on its own, then I disagree with you, because it sounds like something a muslim cleric could say. The muslim concept of God subordinates everything to his "will" which unfortunately for a muslim is a capricious and not necessarily just will.

But I agree with you if you meant "God's unchanging holy will". From your preceding paragraph, I think you did mean that?? And if I missed your point I apologize!!!!

Rob Steele said...

[God's will, we should be able to agree, is the central, first, and only eternally significant determinant of all things--even God's character.]

Well, I don't know. One of the things God cannot do is create another uncreated being. Therefore He did not create Himself. Going further than that, or maybe even this far, seems really really dangerous.

YnottonY said...

God's nature is good before he wills to act. Goodness is properly grounded in his nature, not his will. The famous dilemma in Euthyphro is a false dilemma, from the Christian perspective. This dilemma asks, “Are morally good acts willed by God because they are morally good, or are they morally good because they are willed by God?” If the first idea assumes that God is submitting to some higher abstract law apart from himself, then this would be false. But if the goodness be grounded in God's nature and he wills accordingly, it's correct. The latter idea, i.e. that things are morally good because God wills it, is not the biblical portrayal of our virtuous God.

Incidently, isn't there a moral law behind the Mosaic "moral law"? It seems that the commandment to not commit adultery is applicable to God, in a sense. It's not because he is capable of sexual infidelity, for God is Spirit. The principle behind that law is covenantal faithfulness, and God is everlastingly faithful.

Mosaic law is the contextualization and/or the interjection of divine moral law into a theocratic human society, and the divine moral law (which was behind the Mosaic law) still abides even as God abides. This does not mean that Christians are obligated to follow Mosaic law as a code, but they are obligated to follow divine moral law as it is now expressed through the New Testament to God's people, so it seems that there is a measure of continuity and discontinuity in the matter.

Jim V. said...

As many others have already stated, I would like to see more clarification of the closing sentence. I believe that if a distinction is made between the moral and ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Law (a distinction not found in the O.T. to my knowledge - the Law was always presented as a whole) it must be on the grounds of how one defines the purpose of those aspects of the Law. If one defines the purpose of the moral aspect as providing guidance for everyday life and the ceremonial as typology for the Christ then a distinction has indeed been made. But what if one were to look at a bigger picture and see the Law as a whole unit demonstrating the perfect holiness of God and the chasm that exists between Him and the lawbreaking and rebellious creation? If one views the law in this way then there would be no distinction between the moral and ceremonial aspects of the Law.
Just a few thoughts. I like the kind of discussion this type of topic brings up. Love the blog, Phil.

Rich Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CTDELAYED said...

it will be interesting to see where this goes...

pgepps said...

Yup, like I feared, I misread you.

Very sorry, and sorry if I've caused others to get involved in distracting rehash.

I agree that to consider God's will and God's character as if they could ever be divided is an error; there's an absolute limit of the possibility of thought involved.

You did specify against that reading, and I didn't catch that correctly the first time through.

I'm not a through-and-through voluntarist, just more voluntarist than I thought you were on first reading. I'm pretty sure I follow your point, and agree, now.

To those who responded to my comment, please just note that I used "determine" in the wrong way for this context.

I hope the points about "law" were still useful, perhaps more so now that there's no contra involved.

Sorry for the confusion, thanks for the clarification.

Cheers,
PGE

BugBlaster said...

Thanks for the addendum Phil. Maybe you should have done this post in blank verse and submitted it to a good editor.:)

Prufrock said...

Funny how Lewis never got this, especially given the similarity in his argument undercutting dualism.

Tony said...

Phil, love the blog. However, the term "moral law" is problematic if for no other reason than it's redundant - kinda like "wet water". All law is moral - a Jew was morally required to circumcise his male children as much as he was required to tell the truth. Maybe we could use the terms "Eternal/ Transcendant" and "Temporal/ In-covenanted" to help distinguish law that is reflective of God's character and that which is bound up to a particular time and people.

pgepps said...

Phil, and I'm not a partisan in this debate (I think I agree with you), can we agree that the law (in the Romans 2 sense) is an immutable consequence of God's will/character as He interacts with us--your point in bold--without necessarily holding that the particular Mosaic instructions of the Law, which were given to Israel, were also addressed to us (as opposed to being preserved for examples to us)?

That is, can we understand that God's law is such that murder is always going to be wrong, anywhere, anyhow, anywhy, without agreeing that the Ten Commandments were addressed to 20th-C Americans?

I guess I have in mind the fact that I have never heard a persuasive argument in favor of Christian Sabbatarianism, and that Christ's example seems to clearly contra-indicate such a prescription.

I'm guessing one of your points in a future post will be to develop the "good and necessary consequences" of the view you here articulate, so I'll reserve any further questions until you've gone there.

Cheers,
PGE

Alana Asby Roberts said...

If the moral parts of the law embodied certain timeless moral principles inherent in God's nature, then those principles would outlast even the total abrogation of the law. Such a change would be possible only at a time when the writing of God's Law would shift from the tables to the hearts of people (Jeremiah's New Covenant). The law was a way of accessing God's will. We now have a better way. It is regeneration. The law becomes informative, no longer binding as law, even when the moral principles found within some parts of it remain binding. This may seem like a small distinction but it's important because the biblical language really does wipe away the law as a whole, and consigns those who want to keep any part of it to the curse of failing to keep all of it (see Paul's discussion with the Galatians). Adherence to the law is a fall from grace.

Ben said...

Phil,

Perhaps I thought you were saying something you were not. When I hear people talk about the moral and ceremonial (and often civil) aspects of the law, most often they are trying to categorize laws in one of those divisions in a vain attempt to define authoritatively which are normative for today and which are not.

I believe that the law taken as a whole has moral, ceremonial, and civil implications (aspects, if you will), but that we have no warrant to parse which laws are moral and which are ceremonial. The law is an indivisible unit.

candleman said...

Hi Phil,

You state - "The term "moral law" normally refers to those principles of holiness taught by the law that are expressions of God's own eternal, righteous, and immutable character. By definition, these are principles cannot be altered or abrogated."

Can you provide some examples of what you consider to be "moral law" that are principals that cannot be altered or abrogated?

Thanks!

{{{Candleman}}}

Ephraim said...

alana said:

"This may seem like a small distinction but it's important because the biblical language really does wipe away the law as a whole, and consigns those who want to keep any part of it to the curse of failing to keep all of it (see Paul's discussion with the Galatians). Adherence to the law is a fall from grace."

Alana, I'm not picking on you specifically, you just happened to say what most who visit here think. Perhaps it would be a good idea to explore the difference between "observance" and "reliance". To this add the terms "adherence" and "keep".

If "observance" of Torah means a fall from grace, then all of us who are obedient to His commands have fallen. Yes, this includes all of you who refuse to commit murder, adultry and so on. And we will continue to fall as we "observe", or, "keep" different parts of Torah (the "moral" aspects if you must categorize). Now if a person "relies" on their "observance" of Torah to maintain a proper relationship with YHWH, then, yes, a fall from the strength of grace will result. You're on your own.

There are many aspects of Torah that were given to Israel to create a culture of people that would reflect the character of YHWH to the unbelieving people from the surrounding nations. That should sound familiar. Other "parts" were given to obtain and maintain a level of physical (or ritual) cleanliness that would allow the presence of YHWH to dwell with His chosen people as they sojourned toward the Land. Those same "ritual" or "ceremonial" parts were also meant to accomplish one part of the Israelite's sanctification. Some might call it a "righteous lifestyle". YHWH called it obedience.

Yeshua did not "wipe away" His Father's instructions. He said that was not His purpose and that He would not do it until all is fulfilled. If someone thinks that "all" has been fulfilled, please explain, as that would include (among other things) the completion of all the prophetic details of how this age will end. I personally don't think we're there yet.

So YHWH gives Israel a marriage agreement in the form of instructions that at the same time expose His attributes to them and, details their responsibilities for maintaining His love and blessings towards them during their time on earth. This was written on stone (and other medium) for Israel to study and obey.

So then Yeshua comes and renews the marriage agreement through a better covenant, one that would cause His Father's instructions to be written on the hearts of His people for them to study and obey. So that they would reflect His attributes to the unbelieving peoples in the nations around them.

Obedience to YHWH's instructions is what separates His people from the rest of the nations.

Lev 19:18 "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD."

"Keeping" this part of Torah will not cause anyone to fall from the grace He has offered. In fact, there are many instructions in Torah, the "keeping" of which would never cause you to stumble or fall. I'll leave that where it is unless Phil wants to open it up.

Shalom

Denise said...

Maybe the distinction between the moral and civil parts of the Law can be found in the NT. There its clear which laws are obligatory to all believers (9 out of the 10 are commanded to ALL believers). These are the ones that reflect His holiness in all matters of life for all people, not just Israel and not just in, say, worship.

Just a thought.

Denise

Denise said...

Alana said, "The law was a way of accessing God's will. We now have a better way. It is regeneration."

What do you mean? Regeneration is the giving of a new heart, a heart of flesh and removal of the heart of stone. This has always been true for all believers, in the OT and NT. Accessing God's will is always known by His Scripture, which also is true for both OT and NT believers.

I'm confused about what you're trying to say.

Denise

HZ said...

Something to consider is that Paul uses the 'law' language in different senses. In Romans he talks about the Gentiles who do by nature the things contained in the law. He also defines sin by the law - by the law is the knowledge of sin: this launches out into those universal statements of condemnation and justification in Christ alone.

As to law keeping being opposed to grace or a fall from grace, the OT Jews were commanded to keep the law: this is a major theme in the OT- and this was not opposed to grace: Abraham's righteousness was by faith, as is ours: Paul's contention in Romans 4 is that from the beginning, we have never been justified by works or had any cause to boast in ourselves. Part of keeping the ceremonial law, inherent in the sacrificial system, was not to rely on one's own efforts, but to look to the Messiah for deliverance, both personal and cosmic. Grace teaches us to do the things that the law teaches us to do - 'denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, etc.' I believe the situation in Galatians is that the Jews are trying to return to the ceremonial aspects of the law which prefigured Christ's work in time (as such, they do reflect the character of God, but on a different model than creator/creature) - such as circumcision for Gentiles - after it has been fulfilled. In doing so, they are twisting it out of its context of grace: it becomes merely a merit system, and as such, is a fall from grace. If you reject the fulfillment of a system designed to shadow its fulfillment, you have only the ordinances, apart from all the gracious undergirding. And they were condemned by their unfaithfulness to those ordinances.

All of this makes me want to go back to my Bible and study out the law language more comprehensively.

Alana Asby Roberts said...

Ephraim,

The difference between observance and reliance is superficial. It reflects the superficial difference most people see between "getting saved" and the whole experience of redemption. If you cannot let go of the law, as law, to define your relationship with God, then you are depending on it no matter what you may call it.

I am familiar with the history of Israel. I suggest you become familiar with the history of the Church, especially the destructive influence of Judaism and how hard Paul fought to defeat it theologically. Christ did not renew Israel's marriage covenant with Yahweh. That is waiting for a later time as Isreal continues in unfaithfulness to her Divine husband, and is left to the jealousy of seeing God focus on the Gentiles, with a small Jewish remant. (See Romans 11, esp. vs. 7-11)

Rather, he came to the Jews and he came to the Gentiles and "He made both groups into one by breaking down the barrier of the dividing wall by abolishing in his flesh the Enmity: that is, the Law of commandments contained in the ordinances." (Ephesians 2:14-15) The Law is the enmity between Jew and Gentile; Christ abolished it. Those are the words.

You said: "If "observance" of Torah means a fall from grace, then all of us who are obedient to His commands have fallen." I think you missed the distinction I was making between loyalty to the moral principles found in the law, and following The Law as The Law. I was simply insisting that we can desist from murder and hate without making it an obedience to the Law. We ought to do it out of obedience to God whose nature informed the law in the first place. (And by the way, that law/God distinction is thoroughly biblical. Paul says that through the law he died to the law so that he might live to God: Galatians 2:19. The Law, though good and just and holy, was just a training tool: 3:24.)

Now we have grace, the grace of regeneration. Now the law we must follow is in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33)- that is, an inward impelling toward the eternal timeless principles of holiness. The law then serves as information about holiness, not as the thing that impells us to do it. And that's merciful, because many specifics of the law can no longer be followed. Just this morning my husband commented impishly, "Well, I'm resolving to be extra careful this year not to covet Dave's manservant." I hit him, of course. We both still knew that coveting is a sin. But we don't desist from coveting because it's against the law. We do it because we hate coveting, just as God does. That's grace.

As far as the whole "Lots of prophecies haven't been fulfilled yet" this objection is only valid if you insert the word "prophecy" into the Sermon on the Mount. Christ said he would not abrogate the law till all, or the whole, had been fulfilled. In the absence of an object for "all" we must revert to the subject of the sentence, namely the Law. Did Christ fulfill the Law? He did. He did it by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13)

Alana Asby Roberts said...

HZ,

When Paul talked about Abraham's faith in Romans, he had already discussed it in Galatians (written before Romans). Abraham, in fact was pre-law.

Why then was the law brought in - 430 years after the promise of faith to Abraham? Because of transgressions (this sounds like moral law) until the seed came to whom the promise was made (Christ). (Galatians 3:16,19)

Why else was law brought in? To "Keep us in custody under the law, being shut up unto the faith that was to be revealed." So while Abraham was justified by faith (as were people for over a millenium before him) when the law came in, faith had yet to be revealed in the way it is now. A definite shift happened when Christ came, fulfilled the ancient promise of faith, and abolished the law (see my answer to Ephraim).

Finally, I want to point out that in this discussion in Galatians, Paul indiscriminately talks about being "under the Law" - for instance in 3:24-25. I don't think this leaves room for the distinction between moral and ceremonial - but you will have to decide that for yourself when you study it again.

But I should clarify my own thinking on the point about the fall from grace - it does refer to seeking to be justified by law, and not to merely oberving it (Galtians 5:4). Yet I think the danger of keeping the law unnecessarily is related to this, still.

Don't lose any weight over this debate, dear friend!

HZ said...

Alana, as always, you're very kind. I would have to disagree that Galatians being written first affects the context of Romans (considering the universal way Paul uses the law in Romans, it seems to actually support the distinctions), and that the language of Gal. 3:23,24 is in disharmony with a ceremonial law distinction. Paul makes the point in Romans that there is a basic continuity between how Abraham was justified, and how I am justified. This carries right through the giving of the law. I think that when Paul is talking about being 'under tutors' in Gal, he is referring to the shadowing portion of the law as in Hebrews: the law as a schoolmaster specifically to lead to Christ. This does not speak to fundamental discontinuity between Israel and us; rather it speaks to continuity: the Israelites looked forward to what we look back on: the working model was a real, working model, and it signified the real fulfillment. All of it comes together and coheres in Christ: the synthetic operation of law and grace has not changed; it is only when we wrest the law out of the redemptive setting in which it functions, and the grace in which we stand, that we abuse the keeping of the law into something opposed to grace.

Ephraim said...

Alana,

I appreciate your careful, studied answer. It is, of course, the standard "church" answer, but you did a fine job ordering your arguments.

btw, since you mentioned that Paul had tried very hard to convince the believers in Galatia not to rely on the superficial, outward observances of rabbinic Judaism, what was it that he was asking them to rely upon and observe? And why?

You first.

Ephraim said...

One more thing you may want to consider:

Act 10:10 But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance;
Act 10:11 and he *saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground,
Act 10:12 and there were in it all {kinds of} four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air.
Act 10:13 A voice came to him, "Get up, Peter, kill and eat!"
Act 10:14 But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean."

Peter disobeying a direct command of the Lord because he would not eat anything unclean? Didn't he get the memo, the one that said his Messiah did away with that Law that YHWH had given?

While peter's vision had nothing to do with the eating of foods, his immediate reaction is telling indeed.

Phillip M. Way said...

perhaps the post should be titled Ex Lax.....

Phil Johnson said...

Rich: "For the record, there is NO exegetical basis for dividing the Mosaic code into these nifty little component parts. NONE! But then again, every time some makes a post like this you pull out the old 'I'm not a scholar and I don't have a Sem. Degree' card."

Well, on behalf of myself and all the readers of my blog, thanks for a fine, albeit anonymous, example of "scholarship."

I'm not quite sure what motivated your little outburst or if you've even posted here before (perhaps with another anonymous moniker?). I certainly haven't a clue who you are and have no recollection of ever communicating with you before. I just want to make that clear, lest readers imagine that you are the victim of a long, frustrating debate with me, in which I dodged your questions about the law by playing stupid.

That didn't happen. In fact, I looked, and I can't see where the subject has ever even been broached on my blog before, except once, rather obliquely in a comment thread, when the actual subject was pacifism.

I'm not dodging the exegetical issue about the law; I'm merely rejecting the facile argument of those who seem to think "exegesis" is all about citing short proof-texts that employ the specific terminology of the traditional threefold division of the law. I do intend to give a thorough biblical rationale for seeing the moral aspect of the law as something separate from its ceremonial aspects. In fact, if you'll patiently re-read what I wrote in the above post, you might notice that I've already begun that.

I ought to acknowledge up front, however, that if you're implying that an appeal to logic is somehow incompatible with "exegesis," you're probably not going to like much of what I have to say.

Still, I would hope you'll calm down a bit and make an effort to try to grasp the point I'm actually making, rather than firing off any more of these anonymous high-decibel tirades that are without any context to help me make sense of where you are coming from.

To be clear: I don't care if you want to remain anonymous. Feel free to do that if you like. But if you stay anonymous, you don't get to be catty. On the other hand, if you prefer to continue the taunting tone, that's OK, too. But you have to say who you really are—especially if you're going to imply that you've been through this debate with me before—which I don't believe you ever have.

Fair enough?

ib.carlos said...

Drats! Visiting this Blog makes me wanna quit my job tommorrow and start Seminary (a compliment)!

I could 'lay hands suddenly' on all my ORU "Bible Professors" and their counterpart WoF TBNsters whose dross I spent my younger years lapping up! That mess left me deeply susceptible to these bouts of "dunce-cap" syndrome I often get hit with while laboring through some of the comments left here (another compliment)...Grrr!

Oh well; perhaps one day I'll be "studied" enough to wrest these meta-issues with the big boys (& girls)...then It'll Be On Like Donkey Kong!

GeneMBridges said...

Incidently, isn't there a moral law behind the Mosaic "moral law"? It seems that the commandment to not commit adultery is applicable to God, in a sense. It's not because he is capable of sexual infidelity, for God is Spirit. The principle behind that law is covenantal faithfulness, and God is everlastingly faithful.

If I recall the argument looks something like this (paraphrased)

God cannot be an idolator, for He alone is worthy of worship.

God cannot make an image of Himself, for He is invisible.

God cannot violate the Sabbath, for the Sabbath is for man and He is our Rest.

God cannot take His own name in vain, for it is His name to use as He pleases.

God cannot disrespect His parents, for He is eternal and without parentage.

God cannot commit murder, for all life is His to give and take, and all deserve to die as sinners.

God cannot commit adultery for He is Spirit and is faithful to His people.

God cannot lie, for He is the Well of Truth.

God cannot covet or steal, for He owns all creation. One cannot covet or steal what one already owns.

Alana Asby Roberts said...

Ephraim,

I think that WAS the memo. You're the judaizer who didn't get it.

Either that or you're funning me.

Whatever the case, I can't take this conversation seriously any more.

Alana Asby Roberts said...

hz,

Truth to tell, I found your reply unusually difficult to work through. Perhap's it's just too far from my thinking right now. Either way, the exegetical reasons I stated for my ideas about The Law still hold true as far as I can see. I think I understand your ideas - and yet when I look at the actual words in which Paul speaks, they do bely such a division as far as I can honestly see.

However I have much more to do to broaden my grasp of this subject biblically, and I still have to read Phil's latest post and...I'm sure we'll continue this discussion as we go along.

Ephraim said...

Alana,

I went to your blog and found that you are a thoughtful person, attendant to detail, perceptive and quite dedicated to your faith. So your response to me was somewhat of a suprise.

If by my words I have offended you, I am truly sorry. Please forgive me.

Perhaps I should not have tried to challenge you in that way.

I do hope that you comment on the latest posts from Phil. If you do, I will try to be more considerate.

Shalom