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PRE- and POST-ANGST
Like many other things, angst can often have preliminaries and successors…
The latter can become post-angst, for at first in many who wander there may be hope, but at last the assurance that truth is not to be found, so that one might as well do this or that thing, either for pleasure, self-fulfilment or some other inadequate thrust (cf. SMR pp. 368ff., with 292ff.).
Thus at first a person may hold various views which really do not stand up to reason, and feeling disquieted by this, though not always at first admitting it, the person may rove, wander into and over this and that philosophic, religious, theosophical region, diligent at first, more or less despairing at last, until enquiry (as in Athens - Acts 17) may become a manner and habit of life, without ground, without constructive result or accomplishment.
It can then readily turn into
and there are many stages on the way.
In the earliest stages, there may be hostility to some icon or indeed against the truth, because of some lust, desire, aspiration or self-assertion in the strictest sense – NOTHING will tie me! may be the chant (only, alas, yourself cf. Predestination and Freewill Ch. 1, and the clamour of the consequences of such pseudo-solipsistic procedures).
This may be pre-angst, so that the discursive SEEKING may degenerate to be followed by uncertainty, dissipation of mind, body or spirit, so that questing without zest, or with decreasing zest, can occur. Professor Bloom gives a rather fascinating exhibition of one phase of this (cf. SMR pp. 353-364 esp. p. 361). Indeed, the thing may not merely be individual, but to a significant extent generational, as the above citation illustrates. A whole society may ‘catch’ it like some pandemic!
In considering these things, now let us take one actual query which was received by this work of witness, and consider its expression of a not uncommon series of what could almost be called post-angst concerns.
Whether this be the case or not, the reader may judge, or on this form opinion; the point however is not what this case exhibits definitionally, but that it is a genuine expression of something growing ever more common in our Western society, as to specifics, because it has lost its way very largely, in a social milieu where so many regimens of deluded thought are invading that many scarcely know where to begin or end; or if they have some idea, it does not actually stand; and so they sit surrealistic, dissident, dissonant, disquieted, but sometimes inert. The road can be from quest to quietus, or from hope to disillusion, sometimes garnished with assertion, sometimes with sadness, sometimes with cynicism.
It may, then, be helpful to some, to share in the reply presented by Webwitness to an enquiry which pondered the absolute significance of love (undefined, in and of itself), was unsure of the Bible and considered different views of it, was impressed with some prophecies but concerned about others, found difficulty in translation matters as a possible barrier in understanding the Bible, in the canon of scripture, sought dialogue, and cited some special difficulties.
Much of the reply is given below, slightly changed, as it would seem a pity that others could not also utilise this section, since the questions it poses are not rarities.
Thank you for your enquiry of
I understand how easy it is to get into the slough of despond, the muting of hope, whether psychologically or intellectually, and in the latter case it can come to a sort of fibrillation that is very active, but not strong! I should be glad, in the name of Jesus Christ, and on behalf of World Wide Web Witness Inc., to seek to help.
First let me present a thought for you. I cannot enter into dialogue in the sense of moving about on terrain of an indistinct kind. This can be unproductive. I am grounded in Christ, find all light in Him, no problems, no issues of doubt and only delight to the mind, joy to the heart and peace to the life. I cannot walk elsewhere, since I am not there. What however I can do is use a common ground of logic. With this, there is no problem, and this is the procedure in response to your request.
Another idea that may help you is this. When you study mathematics, you find a discipline of acute value, amazing power and utility, and at times run into perplexities, which need address. There are two ways of facing these (at least), and one is this. The student is upset, disquieted or even angry, frustrated or perplexed, deeply involved but to no apparent outcome. How often can the matter be resolved, but it is not so this time. Such a student may become one of the many who declare, Mathematics ? no, not for me. I am not mathematically inclined; or even go further and state, I hate Mathematics, or this, It is a foolish subject.
However since it works so well, the last case is not so common! Again, the student may respond quite differently, and in effect say this: Ah well! trials and adversities are for growth and a necessary or even challenging stimulus. I shall enquire, study, apply myself, seek to increase my general realisation of mathematical principles, and then see if over time, the matter may not be overcome. I expect it will be as before. With mathematicians, that would be a minimal kind of positive response. Others might go further in this direction: Ah! A problem. How often are they met! However, it is clear that such and such principles apply, and with delicate and dextrous application, this will go the way of all problems.
Hence we see a need to be sure of the groundwork, before attacking the superstructure, seeking to comprehend this or that item.
Initially, you need to face the fact of God with all determination. Without that, nothing; with nothing, nothing. For anything you need its basis, cause and structuring. For this step, I suggest you use on the Web, at our site, TRILOGY, which you find on the margin. This takes you to the work, The Shadow of a Mighty Rock. Then read Ch. 1 and Ch. 3.
Then perhaps you could proceed to LIBRARY (also on the margin) and find the volume It Bubbles, It Howls, He Calls, Ch. 9 (or simply call up webwitness.org.au/call9.html).
In fact, this is the method, but I have supplied all the hyperlinks here above.
When you have this clear, you find that in proceeding we have taken the steps of showing that God is, that He has spoken and that this speech is in the Bible, the only authorised speech of God Almighty to makind.
What however does He say about this speech ? How does He characterise it ? A person might write to another and say this, Look I do not have much time for this, and I have prepared a slack and careless letter in order that you might get some help, but don’t be too sure of any of it. I just dashed it off.
We need therefore to see what He says about His writing. This is covered in The Shadow of a Mighty Rock (SMR) Appendix D.
Here we find that there is on the contrary, a most stringent indication about the honour God gives to His word and the contradistinction between it, absolutely, and the words of philosophers and other men who propound either in the name of this or that god or godlet, philosopher (see Appendix III below), or other intuitive or discursive talk. In particular here, a study of Isaiah 41, 44-45, 48 and , Matthew 5:17-19, I Peter 1:8-12, II Peter 1:16-21 is useful, but there is a vast array, and the reference noted adds to these.
In our site, we have on multitudes of occasions shown how this applies, and how well. Merely one application is the resolution of the problems at which secular philosophy stalls (cf. SMR Ch. 5).
By this stage, you are not only ready for prophecy, but it is logically just to consider it. In the trilogy, the proof comes first, and the verifications second. If it is true, it must work: all that works is not true, since some slick things work for a while in some circumstances; but all that is true, works. Here a study of SMR Chs. 8 and 9 is not merely relevant, but this or some such coverage, really is obligatory. The thing must be known and known well, as in any other study, and this means studying your material. The simple, clear-cut, incisive, decisive, progressive presentations from the Bible re Tyre and Sidon for example, Nineveh (cf. SMR pp. 713 ff.), concerning the Messiah, the Gospel, the history of the Jewish race, the Jewish treatment of their Messiah, the Gentile treatment of Him, the date of His death, the developing state of the world to follow it, the special and patterned developments to show themselves as His return in judgment draws near: all this is shown in prophecy, much in great detail.
As to the last, it is best discovered further, I think, in Answers to Questions Ch. 5 .
The scope of prophecy, fulfilled in large measure in my own life time, is so vast, so amazing, so profound, in many respects so simple, so multiple in scope, so precise in measure in so many things so patterned for simultaneity, that I for one would find it impossible to believe otherwise, even were there nothing else to look at, whereas in logic, these are merely verifications. Things are transpiring in spirit, in human nature, in society, in politics, in war, in education, in churches, in wanderers without truth, in fiddlers with the faith, in the Jews, in Israel, in the Gentiles, in theological education, in military affairs, in environment, to such an extent that history being no mere assemblage of kaleidoscopic kind, but inclusive of personalities and deceptions, wars and crimes, writhings and sudden episodes of violence, any attempt to cover it in this way would be not merely ludicrous but some mere use of this or that pattern, giving here a little lift, there a failure to cover the basic features.
Here however there is not merely a coverage of Jew and Gentile affairs alike, and in contradistinction: it is so apt as to merit praise had it come from the lips of a current commentator looking at the scene; so pity as to occasion astonishment; and so precise with that the hand of the Master is attested.
There is nothing like this because there is no one like God. This of course is just what He says, Himself (Isaiah 41, 43, 48). However, as in other things, you have to know your stuff, and find out what it in fact says, what is in fact happening and carefully contemplate the result. Impressions are no more adequate here than in science, and scientific method is one which is stressed greatly on our site. It has its respected place, when used with the rigour required.
Are there however some prophecies which require deep thought ? Of course. When you are dealing with God, or rather when God is dealing with you, you can expect the clarity of simple and profound teaching (the Bible calls it ‘milk’), since God is gracious, but also the teeth-testing T-bone, to use your term, which is to humble the arrogant, instruct the learning and stagger the mighty. It is often so in other classes! (cf. I Corinthians 3:1-4, 2:4-6, Proverbs 25:2). Some things are, as for students often in a Class, put for your challenge which in turn, when met, allows and enables a progress in basic understanding, in this case with the not so unpleasant scent of sweat. It is the sweet result which overpowers it.
You mention a special case, well-chosen here, on Matthew 1:15 relative to Hosea 11:1. Material on this will be provided for you as an appendix to this (Appendix 1 in this letter), since I do not wish to interrupt the schematic coverage at this point.
The question of canon, the actual assemblage of that staggeringly homogeneous set of books (as to message and substance) from an equally staggering heterogeneous set of climes, places, cultures and so on, yes and times, is one of interest, already covered in your reading (if you resolve to buckle down to the task of a thorough knowledge of your subject so that you can understand and progress, as in any other) in SMR Appendix C. This deals with the Gospel of Thomas, for example, which you will find, was never mentioned in the many formal listings of early New Testament scholars, and is not even a consideration for inclusion. In the 1940s, one of the same name was found, but according to F.F. Bruce, the eminent British scholar, this is not identical with the one mentioned but never accepted in the early Church literature (“The Canon of Scripture”, 1988, p. 201), which so far from being amongst the acknowledged works, was even “stigmatized by Origen as heretical” (p. 201).
There were always efforts (and indeed Paul warned of the insertions of philosophy – Colossians 2:8) to put things into the church AS IF (pseudipigrapha) they came from reputable characters, or were true, when they were merely the Gnostic or other attempts to use Christianity as a basis for philosophy; and more recently in our own time, theologians have tried much the same by ‘interpretations’ which are merely vain philosophy seeking to clothe herself in scriptural terms. This too was predicted, and especially for our own Age (II Peter 2:1,18ff., 3:3-5 cf. Joyful Jottings 12). In this way is fulfilled the word of Christ, that as His return (Answers to Questions Ch. 5) drew near, so if it were possible the very elect would be deceived: such would be the scheming, squirming work of false christs and false prophets (Matthew 24).
Such spurious attempts to slide outside things into the inner witness of Jesus Christ and His works, provided to the church are sometimes seen condemned by eminent early Christian scholars, but never listed with the scriptures. Indeed, Irenaeus, one of the most influential early scholars, declared that his Gnostic opponents produced “an indescribable multitude of apocryphal and spurious scriptures.”
As to the Gospels, of great impact is the fact that this early Christian emphasised the precisely fourfold character of the Gospels, saying “as there are four quarters of the world in which we live, and four universal winds, and as the church is dispersed over all the earth, and the gospel is the pillar and base of the church, and the breath of life, it is natural that it should have four pillars, breathing immortality from every quarter and kindling human life anew. Wherefore it is apparent that the Word, the architect of all things … has given us the gospel in fourfold form, but held together by one Spirit” – (Against Heretics, 3.11.8).
So certain was this that it even occasioned reflection on it!
What delayed the final draft of the New Testament canon was not any question of the vast bulk of the books, known and indicated before the end of the 1st century, and repeatedly attested in the next, or of some novel additives; but rather was it questions of this or that element of the works received in various sites, which did not have our current ease of contemporary communication. The final results were to reflect not what seemed good at all, as criterion, but what was received as having indeed come from the apostles or their close and involved associates. It was about Christ and those appointed, anointed and predicted to present for Him. There were no ring-ins among the books, only final agreed, universal concordances on some minor matters, of what was long known.
Recently some further questions were put to me on canon, so that you have the help of further reading on this, to be found at Sparkling Life in Jesus Christ Chs. 1, 2, and 3 (webwitness.org.au/ss1 and so ss2 and ss3) in addition to the SMR Appendix C coverage.
Also, fascinating material has
come from Pickering from Canada, in the realm of statistics, and this is
mentioned in the SMR coverage at p. 562, The Kingdom of Heaven
Canon is in fact, when you see it in the light of WHO God is, WHAT HE declares about His word and words, and what we find, a staggeringly delightful topic, but you need to know it in detail, and comment in realities, not feelings on this topic. The wild and the unwieldy, the windy treatises of philosophers got nowhere. Not for nothing did Paul condemn the empty-headed 'wisdom' of this world in its endeavours to find God without His finding them, both in His word and His son, the two in a co-ordination so intense, that it resembles the light of dawn as it touches the waiting earth.
On this point, see The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch. 9, which deals with what God says about what He says, both in inspiration and transmission. There is no substitute for being informed on the nature of a case, before commenting on it. He has provided that His word be kept and has been acknowledged in early Councils with clarity; it is kept. He has indicated that it will endure; it does. He has predicted that many false teachers, prophets and christs were to come, and many even from within the church would come and seek to waylay, trick, deceive many; and they have done so. In considering the word of God, do not forget God. His New Testament word attested itself from the first century in large components (SMR Appendix C), and if it took longer to establish with finality the case with some few books, yet this acknowledgment came, and has endured.
No body of religionists ignoring the Gospel has any relevance to such determination. In all these things, remember that it is not in vague feelings but with precision that matters must be handled, when questions arise. It is then that the matters as shown are most intensely delightful, rather as when one finds the answer to a mathematical problem, adhering to the parameters and principles, all things coming into place.
The Church is in one sense a warrior in a war, and whether in early or late days, there have been people to be dealt with, battles to fight as the devil tries to stage a take-over in full or in part. This was revealed by early churchman Irenaeus, whose industry in this war was considerable. As in other wars, there is no room for complacency, and if none is perfect, and none but He among men is, yet both in ancient and modern times the works of sheer patient heroism, determined faithfulness are prodigious.
Thus Athanasius was five times thrust out, but his insistence on biblical doctrine prevailed in the end. Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer, like Tyndale, though highly placed, gave their lives not only in the sacrifice of death, but in the sacrifice of life, in their intense work, like that of thousands of others, to adhere to the clearly defined Christ and the book of the Lord, which then as now, is subject to no doubt (cf. Isaiah 8:20, Matthew 5:17-20), though assailed as if by habit by the continually useless but always breathily threatening partners of the enemy of souls, who alas can destroy only themselves. Some of course may take pleasure in bringing others with them (as in Luke 11:46-52, esp. the last verse of this). Yet their efforts merely help enact what is to be, in terms already adequate (cf. (II Thessalonians 2:10!); for no one can be moved, who has moved into the fold of Christ (John 10:9,27-28). God cares for His people as well as His word!
If minor matters in days of small communication facilities in the world, hindered the finalities of a few things for a time, in the Canon's listing, not at all was the vast corps of the New Testament in any doubt, though heretics tried their hardest to insert, pervert, alter, use the name of Christ for their own philosophic penchants. Even in the first century there was attestation of a great accumulation of works, even in those days, in those circumstances, with the opposition they had to face.
It has not merely been, however, a matter of courage, though this has been prodigious, or perseverance and industry, spirit-enabled work of distinction, to defend, foster and feed the people of God. It has been the Lord Himself who is mighty, who has strategically overcome the strategies of death and the devil, the wanton destroyer and the cunning Judas alike, whether in the first two or three centuries, or in the Reformation or later, and preserved the magnificent clarities which persist, though many in their vagrancies despise them, as they do in the end, their own souls.
Of course, this was war, and of course it was won. Men today as then can throw out the canon or the text or meddle with both, but it will not alter either.
As God has provided for the preservation of His word, so He has defined it in the Old Testament, in the nation of the Jews (Romans 9) as He said, and in the New Testament in that other international ‘nation’, the church of the Gospel of Christ, so that the word of God endures as Peter declared to be the case (I Peter 1:24-25), being first given as Peter and Paul declared to be the case (I Corinthians 2:9-13, I Peter 1:10ff., II Peter 1:16-21). It is nothing to do with the thoughts of man as criterion; after all, it is the word of God. The church had to recognise it, and it did. It should have taken care and it did. Since Christ is alive, that is hardly surprising.
It is not available for people to add stray books of this or that, which may come to light here or there, as if God had omitted to keep what He said, for a century or two, for a millenium or two, and wished to resign from His assurance of Psalm 111:7-8. Jots and tittles are not so important in their fulfillment because books are lost! (Matthew 5:17-19). The early testimony of the church is replete with the scope of the work, and the body which acknowledged them all to fine detail in the end, was not creating anything, merely acknowledging what it was all about: in the New Testament, Jesus Christ and the testimony of the apostles, to which He gave such certain authority and power (as in John 14:26, 15:26-27, 20:21 cf. Acts 1) together with that of those whom, in their midst and activities, they acknowledged (as in II Peter 3:15-16).
This brings us to your interesting presentation on the Bible as army orders or beautiful stories. There are such vagaries, perhaps, in the vast range of human reaction to the word of God. This is not surprising, since people vary in the way they deal with what they like or want, or dislike and do not want, in very varied ways! This is simply one illustration of that fact. I think that while the points you mention are indeed extreme, there is a wider range than this, one more textured. One of those textures is what God says about the matter in the book concerned.
How is it to be characterised ? How does one characterise ALL the words of someone ?
It is NOT army orders. It DOES contain orders. It contains love, beauty, frank exposures, exhortations, tender intimacies, poetic appeals, deep remonstrations, analyses of human conduct, forecast of results (ALWAYS fulfilled); yet these not merely given by megaphone, but rather in the gamut of wonderful emotion. At times the martial call comes, as it does from a father or mother. At times it is passioante, as when a car is approaching your child at 45 miles per hour! You see this vast variety in Jeremiah for example, yes, and in Christ’s own speech, Matthew 23:37ff., and the rest of Ch. 23!). The former is almost infinitely tender, the rest or much of it, some of the most excoriating exposures ever made by anyone about anything!
I think the real extremes of approach, thaht people often take, qualitatively are rather more like this. There is the view and understanding, deeply and always verified, that the inspired word of God is like God, reliable, faithful and careful, precise and yet not merely precisionist, as if dealing with people and issues but careful on detail in the meantime. It is not trying to impress, but with an elegant beauty and adequate care getting on with its topics, putting main things in major emphasis and letting you work out things if you are picky, for yourself, as the scribes often tried to do, ‘having Him on’ as our vernacular has it (but with no effect, as in Luke 11:48-54).
It was the normal reaction when they failed to tangle Him up when they tangled so vehemently with Him, to substitute for the failure one always finds when the enemy attacks the word of God. They set about planning His death. This was popular in the frustrated guile of 'dealing' with the prophets quite often, too! (cf. Christ's words in Matthew 23:34-35).
That is what people have done with the truth for countless seeming generations; and our own is no exception. Naturally, the word as given does not err; God is not a nitwit, and has complete control as He states (I Corinthians 2:9-13). Minor transmissive errors may creep in (see The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 9), but these are of only the slightest significance. What He said He would do, He has done, as there shown. This is what one finds in countless occasions, always returning filled with admiration for the competence of the content of the word of God, the restraint and the freedom, the force and the truth. It is rather like being a worker in diamonds: they never cease to astonish with their beauty and strength.
The other major extreme, is simply the work of those who
The 'liberal' messes have been so ludicrous, as further information comes to hand that it is good for a laugh, but no more; and as a student who heard such debased stuff for a good time, one can speak with knowledge. Seeing it presented in one seminary, and rebutted in the next was good experience! The Lord Himself was of course always my stay, whether He used (as He did) some old gentleman’s library, made available, or some new seminary, or simply the exposure of the errors of the assault corps, through my own mind by His own presence, showing the logical grounds or the understanding necessary to deal with the futile assaults people try to make, professors not least, on the Bible. (Cf. SMR pp. 68ff., 378ff., 1004ff., 1185ff..)
The same has been found when one has been under assault from learned opponents, even in major Assembly (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 11), and this most markedly so!
Incidentally, as one who has had to study Latin, French, English, Hebrew and Greek and translate, I can say that I do not see any substantial or relevant problem in translation. To be sure it can, as can mathematics or engineering, present deliciously challenging considerations, and require considerable artistic, scholastic, patient and thoughtful discrimination in seeking the VERY BEST way of putting the substance with due respect to the form and syntax of the matter. Specialists as elsewhere can help, but as elsewhere also, they have to be watched. It is only in God that one trusts. However this discriminating work is not a frustrating but an energising one, as one sees the solutions and tastes the fruit of the labours of many over the millennia in this field.
One is sometimes filled with admiration at the labours down the Ages, of many Christians, as with the work, in general, of Keil and Delitzsch in the Old Testament. Their knowledge is prodigious and their work provides massive consideration from other languages, history, the Bible, the cultures and so on. In the end, there is a rich heritage which comes, as in English, from studying the words, their background, their developments, their usages and so on, and then with even greater joy, appreciating to the full what is written. I do not find that translation, especially with all the readily available accessories of today, the slightest problem to real understanding, if you work at it and seek understanding, as is right, as rubies (Appendix 2 deals with your problem). It is merely that even greater finesse of perfection can appear, as a reward for effort, as in other spheres, that is all.
Thank you once again for your enquiry.
Seek the Lord with ALL your heart and you will find Him, is advice we find in the Bible, at Jeremiah 29:12-13, for Israel in its peril; and great is the joy of finding that treasure (I Peter 1:8, Ephesians 3:8). Fascinating as are the advanced skiing procedures, yet just to zoom down the slope in the first instance is a delight! As Jesus declared, “This is the work of God that you should believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29). The scope of His invitation and therefore interest is one of the most delightful aspects of biblical teaching (Colossians 1:19ff. is a categorical presentation of this). Reason requires (SMR), but does not substitute for faith.
Robert E. Donaldson
for World Wide Web Witness Inc.
Matthew 2:15 and Hosea 11:1
First note that No Thanks for Angst … Ch. 8 would make a good preliminary reading for this topic. Prophecy like other topics, requires study, and this would help.
Will God who uses the term ‘Israel’ (Prince of God) to designate both the Messiah – in context – and the nation, in its place – announce that He personally will redeem many from His people, even from death, become their ransom (as in Isaiah 11, 52-53 by incarnation), through His Son (Psalm 2), and carry out the anti-execution warrant to save many from among mankind by becoming the sacrificial victim Himself (Hosea 13:14, Isaiah 49-55), speak of His Son and then exclude Christ in its meaning, when His Son is mentioned in this very context of dramatic intervention, Hosea!
Such a thought would involve a lapse so profound as to displace the integrity of scripture, its conceptual cohesion, that resonance of realism which shows the manner of history in Him who is able to control all events (Ephesians 1:11), and make them speak (Isaiah 44-45), as He will. Nothing less than this (Isaiah 48) is His standard.
Just as in Isaiah 49:3, it is the Messiah who is THIS ‘Israel’, carefully differentiated from anything the nation by itself could even begin to supply (Isaiah 41:27, 51:19-20), so here where as so often intimated, God is to become man, the ‘son out of Egypt’, His CALL requires a fulfillment of such rather unusual language tied to an incarnation revelation in this same book, as also to an historical past. What was called for, comes, and so is this prophecy fulfilled.
Hidden in God’s hand, into whose ‘mouth’ as Messiah come from eternity to time for this purpose (No Thanks for Angst … Ch. 8), the Father has set His words for promulgation on earth (cf. John 12:48-50, Isaiah 49:3, 51:16), it is He who is the crucial focus, the acme of tenderness with the timing of infancy correlative, and both with the unimpeded love of the Messiah (Isaiah 41:27-42:1). Prefiguring the Christ, Israel came out, having escaped death; and so did He.
Thus the extreme tenderness which follows after Hosea 11:1, that of a virtual infancy measured in its early months, is fulfilled also, for Israel the nation, in Egypt was already long grown; while Christ in Egypt would actually be engaged in being taught to walk! In Hosea 12 you see the entire exposure of Israel’s inadequacies and sins, so that when in Hosea 13 God declares (just as He did in Ezekiel 34, which is explicit on the Davidic line for this Messiah) that He will do it HIMSELF. THIS ransoming action, this Messianic work, this incarnation into infancy, is thus refocused and the line is not forgotten which He took. Out of Egypt does THIS Son come, and with transformative results, overcoming the weakness of the former sally, so that the strength mentioned in Hosea 13 might be shown in its fulfillment. The substitution is not only one of atonement but one of attainment.
The blending of these concepts is best fulfilled in what utterly meets the case, both conceptually in terms of the Son who is to be the WAY in which God destroys death as in this book He indicates He will assuredly do, and effectually, in the practical realities of a new-born or very young child indeed. Thus there had to be this NEW EXODUS of this NEW ISRAEL, that regal but suffering Figure who is contrasted with the nation as so often (e.g. Isaiah 41:27 with Isaiah 42:1ff., Isaiah 51:19-20 with Isaiah 52:13-53:12). A SON and not His own, one merely to be dismissed from sight in this transposition of divine truth and deepest intention culminating in Hosea 13 in the incarnation!
What the nation failed to do, He HAD to do; and where they issued only to ruin, He issued altogether for triumph. This time, not leaving dead the elder sons of Egypt, but the innocents whom Herod slew, THIS ‘Israel’, this Son came to redeem from death, giving not the life of others, but His own, coming into that land where the death of the innocents under Herod was all too gruesomely practical reminder of their NEED to have the Saviour, yes out of Egypt. It was now HE and not Egypt which would now be the ransom for His people (Isaiah 43:3 with 42:2-4).
Christ would constitute this ransom in Himself. Thus just as the sacrificial nexus was instituted from Egypt on, even as they first came out (Exodus 12), so was the sacrificial Saviour following the route for a different ending, and a new beginning for the nation which, as in Isaiah 49:3, evangelically He supplanted, He being their sole resource.
This then was no mere incident but a pivotal, a basic point, a foundational issue, in which the ‘shadows’, as Hebrews puts it (10), are replaced by the ‘substance’, the sacrifice of animals emanating from that day at the Passover, terminated by that of Christ, called alike out of Egypt and coming, unlike the Israel of that day, not to FAIL to enter the promised land, but to BRING that promised land with Him, at the conceptual and spiritual level. “The kingdom of heaven,” He said, “does not come with observation … for indeed, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:20).
In such a basic matter as the Cross, then, the omission of such a parallel and a meaning would be like omitting the vice-regal flag on the governor’s car in this land, a matter so singular as to call for comment. Its emplacement however is merely to be expected, and in this his presence is ‘fulfilled’ when the flag is there, confirmed, verified, the sign signaling the fact. The majestic overview of type and substance, token and fact, illustration and labour itself, is thus not truncated but consummated.
As these vast axes are in place, on which history and meaning, salvation and sentence all turn, so do they turn. And they do not turn without notice! Such is the way of God, to illustrate and confirm; to build parallels and then teach, and by this to instruct. In this way, the tender years of the Christ are indicated, the Son is indicated, the incarnation is indicated in a way parallel to Israel, and indeed able to be developed in that line, but peculiar and special to Himself so that only in Him is the language and are the concepts concluded adequately and aptly. Only thus is the word of Hosea 11:1 fulfilled.
Translation ? of text or heart ?
(cf. Colossians 1:13* )
You mention the harsh or unreasonable, and so on, translation of the case of many turning away from Christ, in John 6:60. The point has never seemed to me to be one occasioning difficulty. To be sure, Christ rules out cannibalism, or even mystic eating in which He is in ANY way consumed digestively, in John 6:62-64. He was speaking not in terms of flesh as the matrix, but SPIRIT, and says so. It is apparent from any study of the Old Testament and its sacrifices, that He as the Lamb of God (John 1:29) had to be taken inwardly in some sense; but as MAN was not to be murdered (this wickedness was not sanctioned, though this action was foretold, and then used), let alone eaten as if He were gastrically digestible food.
This is abhorrent indeed, a sort of murder PLUS! In SPIRIT as He said, with HIMSELF IN HEAVEN “where He was before” as He SAID, He was to be “eaten” necessarily by FAITH (Hebrews 11:6). This corresponds with John 6:40 where SEEING the Son of man is salvation (spiritually in each case). (For a thorough treatment of the RC position, see SMR pp. 1032-1088H.)
It is a matter equally of RECEIVING Him (John 1:12-14) for WHO HE IS (as also in Matthew 16:13-17). All of these ADEQUATE WAYS of becoming His, inter-relate in one domain: HIS ACTION and HIS PERSON, HIS IDENTITY on the one side, and FAITH IN HIM AS SUCH and as having done such, on the other.
Now then, to the word which you mention in terms of translation. The term “hard” which you cite in John 6:60, is given in various translations as “hard”, “difficult”, “harsh”, “hard to take in”, “more than we can stomach”, and in these, you see the sort of liberties in which some styles of translations, engage. One gets used to the attitudes of the translators, and can use the loose ones for ideas, the more strict ones to prevent adding to the word of God: for some of them come near to exposition, rather than translation!
Let us then turn to the Greek. The term transliterated skleros is found in our English derivations, such as scleroma, sclerometer, in turn, a type of hard, tumorous tissue, and an instrument for measurement of the degree of hardness. Sclerosis is defined as an increase of hardened tissue at the expense of more active tissue. The Greek CAN figuratively (as can the English for ‘hard’) be used to refer to an attitude of severity, harshness, figuratively even one grievous or painful; but the underlying thought has to be realised first, before one wafts off into figurative applications. In Acts 9:5 it is used in respect to Paul, in that it is “hard” for him to “kick against the goads”! It IS hard for people who kick against Christ, no doubt about it, and the harder they kick, the harder is the goad. Only in His mercy are many spared till they learn, as Saul did, to become Paul!
- So, with this knowledge of what the word is about, and its extremes of possible application, precisely as in English, we look at the context and find that the references to eating Him and drinking His blood were not welcome by many, not necessarily because of obviously ludicrous cannabilistic interpretations, since He had excluded these if the norm of spirit had not done so, but because it was all about HIM, not animal sacrifices which were of course eaten in some cases, such as the Passover.
- It made HIM the centre, HIM the sacrifice, and receiving HIM as the objective source of one’s salvation through HIS OFFERING OF HIMSELF, in a very specific, non-vague sense as the Redeemer. This was to replace the former regime, in principle just as Moses had predicted would have to be done when the Messiah came (Deuteronomy 18:15ff., cf. Psalm 2, 22 and Joyful Jottings 25) . They did not always take kindly to such things, as for example, when He visited Nazareth, where the issue was quite simply, His being the MESSIAH!
- It also meant this, that man to man, there was ONE man who could stand (as perfect sacrifices had to symbolise) without sin, and the gulf between His spiritual status and their own, even that of those who “ran” the Temple, was as are the heights to the abyss. Pride never likes that ‘hard’ saying. Back then to the translation, it is just that it was a “hard” saying, difficult to a) comprehend or b) assimilate or c) accept, or d) more than one of these.
- There is no problem, except for the sayings themselves; and as to these, there is no problem, provided you DO accept His sacrifice as sole, sufficient, oblation for your sins. The ‘problem’ is personal (Luke 14:37ff.), not propositional.
- If you do not, then the thing can appear to the distraught, distressed or otherwise rebellious soul just what school teachers often seem to bad boys: violent, aggressive, intimidatory and a whole host of things which often have no more objective basis than this, that they are there to bring you to your proper stature, by HARD WORK!
With Christ, the hard work was
His, but it was to bring them to repentance, humility in reception, dispensing
with their deception in the interests of their salvation, so that smitten,
they might be saved. Here was God at work, and as usual, men like to work
with Him or even FOR Him, if by any means their pride might be spared, their
illusions of goodness, instead of their seeing that before the sight of God,
“all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). It is only then
that they may be dressed with the robes of HIS righteousness (Isaiah 61:10),
lovingly arrayed as there, upon them, and say:
“I will make mention of Your righteousness, even Yours only”
(Psalm 71:14-16). Cf. Highway to Hell.
Colossians 1:13 in the AV, has this: “who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.”
Paul in Corinthians is scathing on philosophy of this world, as is the prophet Isaiah from whom in part, Paul draws in this (I Corinthians 1, Isaiah 28-29).
- Measuring themselves by themselves, he declares, they are not wise (II Corinthians 10:12), and he proceeds to expose this plagiaristic business, not to say blasphemous, of making
- some OTHER Jesus with
- some OTHER Gospel and
- some OTHER Spirit (II Corinthians 11).
It is as if those who lack the truth, want a basis, and seek to steal the name of Jesus for their own affairs, without either His word or His Gospel (cf. Jeremiah 23:16-22, 30). Small wonder Paul declares in Galatians 1 that there is no other Gospel, and that even if HE HIMSELF were to preach something other than the one which the ONE GOD has given in HIS OWN WAY through HIS OWN SON to mankind, he too would be accursed.
- The Gospel is bound even as to WHAT THEN HAD ALREADY BEEN PREACHED, IN PAUL'S DAY (Galatians 1:8). When God speaks it is not man's thoughts which are His mouth; indeed, which of us would even like his neighbour to speak and address his thoughts to OUR mouth! He sent His prophets and His Sn, and to conserve His portrait and His covenant, His apostles and their co-workers, all being centred on Christ, both as to come and as having come and as He was and was observed to have been (Acts 1). When God has finished speaking (as in Revelation 22:18-19), whether the Gospel (Galatians 1) or the account concerning the whole gamut of His works centred in the Saviour, there is nothing more to be said. Men can speak their minds; but then, theirs is not the mind of God.
Thus it is easy to say that
it is obvious that love, or this or that, is and must be real, and so on,
that this is fundamental and that on this one will build. However, before
you find God, there is really no basis for this logically. You have to erect
preferences – for example, love of peace, of best development and so on, as
preliminaries. Or again, some might decide that strife is better (like Heracleitus,
or Nietzsche), and laugh at the meekness of love, the sacrifices of its heart
and the excellence it seeks. Not so, say they.
But then, you can say ANYTHING, if logic is no bar. If logic is used, you come to God (SMR as above). Without this, anything IS said. You can show its errors, but without truth as such, with WHAT do you show it ? Indeed, with what can they assert it! Only with knowledge of the absolute truth is it possible to have any basis for any prescription; and a relativistic concept leaves nothing with which to defend it. You cannot, after all, deny absolute truth and imagine that this is an absolutely true statement!
In terms of inconsistencies
primarily, the assumptions of the successive generations are dismissible;
and these are bound to appear in the self-exultant ways and will of man; so
that philosophies of man never endure, for the next generation or two dissects
them freely, and their presuppositions are exposed and dismissed as mere
special pleading, or worse. You see some of this in detail in SMR Ch. 3 and Predestination and Freewill
Section IV. An interesting special
case occurs also in SMR pp. 360-364.
In fact, an interesting comment in the enormous “Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions”, edited by A. Scott Moreau, is found on p. 462. Calvin and Luther*, it is said, played significant parts in the development of the notion of fundamental dignity and freedom, and the contemporary claims are not a little the result of the momentum built up in the 17th century. Western culture, they assert, now seems totally concerned to adopt such a perspective.
In fact, it is natural if much overplayed outcome of Christianity, that the concept of individual worth should lead to the provision of value, which some then seek to enshrine in “rights” or the “obvious”. The excoriating wit of a Voltaire can also expose some of the pomp and pretension to which mankind is so readily vulnerable, while the mellowing effect of some humanities made for a brighter assessment; though others did the opposite.
In short, there is nothing which can erect a citadel of certain values, unless you either
know God, in which case, nothing is
erected: it is simply there. This is the source of guilt, of conscience,
of people being able to have values which diverge from any norm, and
it issues essentially from the combination of the fact of God and the
feature of human imagination which is the result of the creation of man
in God's image (cf. Little Things Ch. 5 and Repent or Perish Ch. 7, It Bubbles ...
Ch. 9, SMR Ch. 1). It is natural that a value-added
product like man shoudl either conserve the values given, inehrent and
imposed or mamke some of his own. This propensity is merely one of
innumerable illustrations of the verification of the status of man.
- make presuppositions and assumptions, preferences and criteria of your own. These are no more certain that your perspective, no more imposable or objective than your own desires, devices and aspirations.
People often want to make it otherwise, but it never lasts in logic. What IS can NEVER prescribe what OUGHT to be, just as NO TRUTH can never find any, even with which to say there isn’t any! It all becomes a writhing mass of self-contradiction.
NOTE: *In so doing, they were actually stressing the necessities of individual faith and the grandeur and glory of God in His love, concern, provision and care; and of course, while they were high profile teachers, they were neither alone then nor in preceding ages. However, this was starkly in contrast both to the system approach which enslaved men under the captious authority of man, as no less to the concept of RIGHT as if man could clamour and claim from God rights to be wrong, rights to be a sinner, not even addressing where "right" came from, and Him whose rights they clamorously despised; far less, His splendour whose righteousness alone could pardon their wrongs (II Corinthians 5:17-21).