In last month’s e-teaching, I challenged a premise—held by Anabaptist and other holiness groups—that Jesus established new moral standards during His Sermon on the Mount that were higher than those found in the Law of Moses. The basis of that Anabaptist premise is the assumption that Jesus’ six “You have heard…but I say to you” statements are each examples of Him quoting a standard found in the Law of Moses followed by “a new, higher standard” that was, from that moment on, binding on His followers.
No doubt you’ve heard of Mennonites. Perhaps also of the Amish. Maybe even the Brethren and Hutterites. All fall under the heading of “Anabaptists,” who trace their roots to 16th century Germany and Switzerland. Their predecessors were part of what is known as the Radical Reformation, a response to perceived corruption in both Roman Catholicism and the expanding Magisterial (state-wedded) Protestant movement led by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others.
The early Anabaptists, like the early Christians, were pejoratively named by their persecutors, but in their case because of their distinct doctrine of re-baptizing adults who had already been baptized as babies. The word anabaptist means “one who baptizes again.” Anabaptists noticed that infant baptism, practiced by both Roman Catholics and the Protestants of their day, wasn’t found in the New Testament, and that the apostles seemed to baptize only those who were old enough to understand the gospel, repent of their sins and follow Christ.
I was going to write this month about someone else’s sins, but then, before I could throw the first stone, my conscience got the better of me. So I’m going to tell you about one of my own recent sins, and for two reasons.
First, anyone who serves in public ministry eventually becomes aware of the fact that there are people who think more highly of him (or her) than they should. This is especially true in these days of media ministry when folks don’t personally know those whom they are following, and an “image” can easily hide all the warts. When confronted with one’s admiring fans, one has a choice: Do I allow these folks to remain deceived, or do I shatter their false perceptions by letting them see what those who are close to me know only too well?
Although not a popular subject, most Christians who lean towards a literal interpretation of the Bible’s prophetic passages believe that Scripture foretells of an unprecedented, worldwide tribulation, one that will immediately precede Christ’s return. Descriptions of that worldwide tribulation can easily be found in the Book of Revelation, many of the Major and Minor Prophets, and in the teachings of Jesus. For example, during His Olivet Discourse, speaking about the time prior to His return, Jesus said,
For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short (Matt. 24:21-22).
In my February e-teaching titled Three Questionable Beliefs Christians Hold Concerning Modern Israel, I attempted to show that, because God is a moral being, He has not always historically sided with the nation of Israel. A moral being cannot side with people who become immoral. And for the same reason, God never gave the descendants of Israel perpetual, unconditional, sovereign right to the land called Palestine. If He did so apart from moral considerations, He would not be a moral being. This is Bible 101.
There is a biblical story set in Samaria, the capital city of Israel, during a time when it was surrounded by a foreign army. The siege dragged on for months, and food prices behind the city walls had skyrocketed. People were dying of starvation. Some of the Israelites resorted to cannibalism in order to survive the famine. The crisis had reached its tipping point, and death was certain, either from hunger inside the city or from the sword and spear outside.
You might be wondering why I would write on the subject of polygamy. Let me assure you it is not because I’m advocating it for anyone or considering it myself. I think polygamists—whether they be ancient biblical characters or their modern counterparts—generally err on a grand scale. I also think, however, there are some good reasons to study what Scripture has to say on the subject. One is because it can teach us something about our own relationship with God. I hope to provoke your thinking, as always. But first, some trivia:
In this final article that addresses “Divine Divorce Doctrine,” I want to respond to some of the common arguments and objections of those who advocate divorce for anyone who has been previously divorced and remarried, followed by remarriage to their original spouse if possible, or celibacy if not possible, until their original spouse is dead.
My hope is to rescue those who are coming under the influence of Divine Divorce Doctrine—before their marriages and families are also left as carnage in its foul wake.
Last month’s e-teaching generated a lot of interest, receiving 4,700 views on our website so far. In that teaching, I did my best to show that God does not require of divorced and married Christians what “Divine Divorce Proponents” claim He requires, namely that they divorce again and remarry their first spouse, or live celibate lives until that person, to whom they are allegedly “still married in God’s eyes,” is dead. If you didn’t read that article, it would be best that you do before you read what follows.