Our last blog gathered and critiqued in its entirety the overall-excellent autumn 2013 video series by David Sproule of the Palm Beach Lakes Church of Christ. This more recent series, although it agrees doctrinally with the other series, is a good example of the need to exercise our spiritual gifts in these last days, especially the discerning of spirits. (Indeed, in this first video, this Canadian pastor claims that all spiritual gifts passed away as a result of the scripture manuscripts being completed, as if the Lord would not have forseen an even greater need for the power of the Holy Spirit in the prophesied “days of Noah”, when persecutions of true Christ followers would multiply far beyond anything the Church ever faced in her first centuries, and the escalating theft of the purity of God’s word would also occur in our times, with the bible actually ending on that note.)
The purpose of this blog is to remind us all of the need to emulate Jesus in treating individuals individually, when the temptation to stereotype is almost insurmountable. Nicodemus, Caiaphas, and Joseph of Arimathea were all Pharisees, an obnoxious, self-righteous bunch who were clearly out to get Jesus. He could have treated Nicodemus and Joseph as indistinct members of that group, guilt-by-association, if you will. Instead, He chose to listen to and speak to their hearts. The covenant marriage stander community receives many opportunities from the Lord to interact with public voices of varying prominence and diverse doctrines. We must do the same with individual discernment if we want to effectively challenge people to seek the undiluted biblical truth. If we fail in this, we act in the flesh rather than the Spirit, and we wind up being far more heat than light, far more noise than persuasion.
SIFC posts two 8 -10 minute audios dated November, 2015 by an unnamed pastor* of the East End Church of Christ in Toronto, Ontario. We do so with heavy disclaimer, noting that this speaker, unlike Brother Sproule, clearly lacks the intellectual curiosity and intellectual integrity in his arguments (off-topic, ignoring context, etc.), and even worse, the sense of the fear of God seems absent that ought to be present whenever publicly discussing a heaven-or-hell topic.
(*according to the church website, they have only one “evangelist” [preacher], Jeremy Diestelkamp who is described on the site as being the son of the former “evangelist”, and a substitute school teacher prior to taking up the church role.)
SIFC NOTE: Our comments are not intended to be a disparagement of the Church of Christ per se. In Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, Jesus had a little something individual to say to each of the seven churches, again, discerning the spirit of each. Anyone who follows this blog is aware that SIFC vigorously disagrees with the current marriage doctrine and practice of her own church, but agrees with the former doctrine as it had been established for 60+ years from inception until in 1973, the leadership under pressure from a group of pastors voted to drastically revise it and publish a “position paper” — to “clarify” existing practice, assuring us that nothing was fundamentally changing despite the new permission granted to perform adulterous weddings and grant pulpits to pastors in adulterous remarriages – but I digress. Our comments are always intended to be a challenge to be unrelenting in moving toward (or back toward, as the case may be), undiluted biblical truth. In other words, to become those churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia, toward whom the Lord had only commendations. He was addressing locations under specific shepherds, let’s not forget, and not denominations.
Part 1, Searching the Scriptures, What Does “Except for Fornication” Mean? – November 2, 2015
(Speaker was addressing a question from a commenter to his site:
“Does someone in an adulterous marriage have to divorce?”)
“No opinion, just bible“, the speaker insists, as if we are to take the scriptural text, as translated, at face value. That is equivalent to saying “we’re not interested in applying the harsh fluorescent light of hermeneutic principles or analysis to our dogma.” Bible version? He doesn’t tell us, but since the word “fornication” (rather than generic, interchangeable “sexual immorality”) has been translated into a few of the contemporary English versions that were derived from the faulty Westcott & Hort Greek translations, and his supporting arguments go far off into left field in Part 1, we’re not at too much of a disadvantage not knowing. But, did this expositor actually answer the person’s question by the end of these two audio files? Indeed, did he even perceive correctly what the question actually was?
Part 2, Searching the Scriptures, What Does “Except for Fornication” Mean? – November 2, 2015
(Speaker was continuing to address a question from a commenter to his site:
“Does someone in an adulterous marriage have to divorce?”)
To “detox” from the from the shallow and misguided definition of fornication found in this audio, we recommend the scholarly research by Rev. Dan Jennings, “Except for Fornication“, and by Sharon Henry, “Jewish Marriage, Biblical Divorce and Remarriage” (both also available in paperback book form). We also remind that the definition of the Greek “porneia” (fornication) only address one law of hermeneutics (Content) out of at least five essential laws, the remainder of which include Context, Culture (History), Comparison, and Consultation, not addressed in either of these two audios. Once these are honestly and carefully applied, it matters very little whether “porneia” includes adultery. It becomes very clear to the honest scholar that Jesus was not using porneia in the context that this expositor wishes.
This speaker goes on to declare that “we must not put limits on people that ‘God didn’t require’, and we must not call ‘sin’ anything He didn’t call sin.” He says this without even showing nominal awareness of the supernatural joining of the one-flesh state, nor of God’s role in the covenant vows of the marriage of our youth (unlike David Sproule, same denomination). Given the heaven-or-hell nature of getting this matter wrong, there should be clarity beyond any reasonable doubt from the evidence that is abundantly available and cost-free, even online. Even an erroneously-divorced second marriage to reconcile with an adulterous true spouse is far less of a costly gamble than an eternity in hell. You cannot go to hell for using a purely man-made device to undo the ill effects of wrongly availing of that same man-made device! As a practical matter, nobody makes that kind of a life-correction without being led and overwhelmingly convicted by the Holy Spirit, and we daresay, without extensive research of their own until firmly convinced. It is far more common for most to take their comfort from what a man says, and abort any further investigation of their own. Every covenant stander prays fervently that the Holy Spirit will intervene and keep their dazed, deceived prodigal far away from such men!
All that said, there’s something very odd about his perception of the question being asked, given that he says up front that the inquirer presented him with some of the missing hermeneutical “C”‘s (which he proceeds to dismiss– with little or no valid support). This strongly implies that his question was from a person in a second “marriage” of the sort that Jesus explicitly defined as adultery on three separate occasions – Matt. 5:32(b), Matt. 19:9(b) and Luke 16:18, where He addresses the third party who would presume to marry someone’s one-flesh spouse after man’s divorce. He proceeds instead to answer the very different question,
“If my spouse is committing adultery, must I divorce them?”
He does this after expending tremendous energy convincing us of the utmost importance of the definition of fornication, which is in reality completely irrelevant to the question he perceives to answer, and only nominally relevant to the question that is apparently being asked. This, folks, is mindlessly parroting denominational dogma without personal examination, and it’s shepherdly cowardice. Contrast this with Brother Sproule who very forthrightly addressed the correct question in videos 8 and 9 of his series, and did so with a significant level of biblical integrity, even though he would agree with an “exception” (wrong in our view) for the so-called “innocent party” or “non-fornicating spouse”, as he puts it. (We would argue that married folk who are still one-flesh with someone by irreversible act of God never “fornicate” – they commit adultery.)
We wrap up with this simple question for both of our Christ of Christ “evangelists”:
Does it make sense to you that the One who told us [Matt. 5:38-39], “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also”….
….would explicitly and repeatedly define adultery as marrying the one-flesh covenant spouse of another person, then proceed to “allow” the ongoing state of further adultery as the remedy for an act or season of adultery?
We think not!
Praise be to God that He is being merciful and bringing some men of God to the restored truth in this area, as well as emptying them of their fear of men, compelling them to speak out in power and forcefulness! For a time, even the best of them will bring some Erasmean, Lutheran or Calvinist denominational biases with them, sometimes even at the cost of contradicting key points in their own message, by the time they come to the wrap-up. In the most forceful rebuke we’ve yet to encounter of “exception clauses” and of pastors who perform weddings over people who have a living, estranged spouse, this Baptist pastor nevertheless tries to reconcile at the end with the false doctrine of “once saved, always saved”, and implies that marriages Jesus called adulterous can be “confessed” and “repented” without actually severing them. Just as the Lord has called standers of many denominations into fellowship with one another, and into a better understanding of God’s word, may He build cross-denominational fellowship with His remnant of true shepherds, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!