Sunday, July 15, 2018

Q&A session at Spring Hill Church of Christ in South Charleston, WV. This Q&A session is on the Virtual Debate with Allen Bailey.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

This is a virtual debate with Allen Bailey on Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Printable Copy of Dwight's Biblical Opinions Blog

Review of the Kniffen/Battey Debate in Seminole

Brother George Battey commented on the “Open Study” in Seminole, Oklahoma in a cover letter for a proposition for a formal, four-night debate on the subject of divorce and remarriage, that he sent to some of us. He commented: “there were approximately 300 people present and the audience was evenly divided – half favoring the no-exception position and half favoring the exception position.” Brother Battey also commented in his cover letter, “I believe our study together proved two things: (a) people are interested and will attend an open study on the divorce question and (b) brethren can conduct themselves in honorable manner during such discussions.” He also said, “Those who commented felt that, although the study was good, the time allotted for the study was inadequate to fully cover the subject matter. Brother Clint DeFrance [sic] issued a challenge for a longer, four night debate to fully discuss the topic.”

Brother Battey did not give much time in this open study to “The Case of Joseph and Mary” like he had done in both of his pamphlets under the same title “'No-Exception' For Divorce (Is this true?).” His first pamphlet under this title was 44 pages long, and his revised pamphlet (after he noticed some additional arguments), was 68 pages long.

Brother Malcolm did point out to brother Battey that the “humility theory” in “The Case of Joseph and Mary” comes from Catholic doctrine. The Catholics, who always like to reverence and worship Mary, devised this “humility theory” which basically states that Joseph thought Mary was such a “highly favored” woman she was worthy of worship; and, therefore, Joseph wanted to divorce Mary. James Trayler, from Waco, wrote in an unpublished paper he gave to us at the debate: “Most likely such reasoning is rooted in Catholic doctrine. The works of Alphonso Salmeron (1515-1585) contributed greatly to Catholic theology which eventually lead to the veneration of Mary. It was his argument that Mary was far from ordinary. His commentary on the Joseph and Mary relationship (Matt 1:18-20) has Joseph in worshipful posture toward Mary. So much so, he wanted to put his betrothed away privately in view of his supposed unworthiness to [his] wife one who was with child by the Holy Ghost. Reasoning's such as this became the interpretive metrics by which Salmeron elevated the standing of the Blessed Virgin to that of an equal with Christ. In fact it was Salmeron who coined the term 'co-redemptrix' as it relates to the salvation of mankind (Ven. Mary of Agreda, Mystica Ciudad de Dios (Antwerp: H. and C. Verdussen, 1696), P. I, L. I, c.18, n. 274, p. 86b. Alfonso Salmeron, Commentarii in Evangelicam historicam).”

Brother Battey countered Malcolm's argument on “The Case of Joseph and Mary”, that the “humility theory” was rooted in Mary worship, with the idea that brother Malcolm's no-exception doctrine was also from the Catholics. According to brother Battey, the no-exception people do not get their doctrine from Paul in Romans 7:1-3, but from the Catholics and perhaps some others who preach a similar “doctrine of demons.” The idea that this is “Catholic Doctrine” is widespread. There are many Catholics who have at least given “lip service” to the idea of “no divorce” for any reason. The Catholics got this idea directly from the scriptures.

In a testimony to the belief of the Catholics on this doctrine, brother Clint De France wrote in the April, 2015 issue of the Old Paths Advocate in an article entitled “The Battey-Kniffen 'Open Bible Study' On Divorce and Remarriage”, that “This writer noticed two troublesome things about the 'No-Exception' Brethren. First, Malcom [sic] Kniffen claimed that the reason our congregations are divided over this issue is that people are getting divorced. The idea was that if there were no divorce we might be able to get past our different interpretations. But this is not what Kniffen's brethren practice. In the Philippines, divorce is illegal, and yet the No-Exception brethren have bitterly divided the Church in that country. This is terribly inconsistent. It appears bitterness is driving this division even more than doctrinal disagreement and that must change if we are ever to have unity.”

We might point out to brother Clint, who has admitted that “divorce is illegal” in the Philippines, that brethren should not promote divorce in a country where divorce is “illegal.” “No divorce” in the Philippines is both the “legal” and “historical” stance of that country. Perhaps we can thank the Catholics and the apostle Paul for this rather than good people like Raymond Stiner who has worked very hard in the Philippines and is to be commended. But who is “bitterly dividing” the church in the Philippines over divorce in that country? Not us, brother Clint. The Philippines are historically against divorce. Those who are promoting “illegal divorce” are the ones who are dividing the church over divorce in the Philippines. Accusing brethren, who do not promote divorce in the Philippines, of “bitterly” dividing the church over divorce will definitely not promote unity at home.

Brother Malcolm is right about the occurrence of divorce in this country. There was very little divorce and remarriage until after World War II. But married women were placed in the factories where they had ample opportunity to fraternize with those who were married. We are not personally arguing against all cases of the employment by women, but this condition in World War II took its toll on marriage. The horrors of war harmed the moral fabric of our country. Husbands were physically separated from their wives for many years. It caused divorce. This is just a historical fact.

After illegal divorce became widespread, people tried to “justify” their divorces and remarriages. Those seeking divorce were the ones causing the divisions in the churches. It is just like those seeking to change the communion service divided the church over the communion service. Before people sought to legitimize divorce, there was much more peace in the churches (and in the country) on this subject.

Just look at what divorce has done for our country and its churches. There is no statistical difference between divorces for believers and nonbelievers. We do not understand why divorce should be promoted by our brethren, as if divorce needs any promotion in our country where divorce has obviously overrun and ruined many families. Countless millions of children have been violently torn away from their parents. America has no reason to promote it. We shall likely be “vomited out” of the land because of divorce the way it is. Divorce is causing untold problems. This is one American “export” the Philippines can do without. Do we want the Phillipines to have the same problems over divorce that we are having? Putting our own personal lives and our own unhistorical and questionable doctrines ahead of the unity of the church is what is driving division in the churches.

Brother Battey's argument on “The Case of Joseph and Mary” would have Joseph causing his own “innocent” wife, Mary, to be in danger of committing adultery. He being a “just man” was willing to cause Mary to “commit adultery” because she was “highly favored”? What did Jesus say about this? Jesus said: “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” (Matthew 5:32) It seems ironic that Jesus was stating a rule that is so very applicable to his own Jewish mother.

Brother Battey, Clint (and others) would like to remove the applicability of Jesus' statement to his own mother in “The Case of Joseph and Mary.” Therefore, they have basically adopted the position of the Pharisees, and agree with the Pharisees in Matthew 5:31, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.” They believe in “no default” divorce for the Jewish man except in the case of “fornication.” Fornication always requires the death penalty. However, we made brother Battey confess that his absolute statement was wrong, and that fornication does not always require execution. (See Leviticus 19:20) He admitted that this was an “exception to the rule.” We have pointed out in previous posts that a “bond woman” does not have the same marital status as a “free woman.” Perhaps he will believe us now?

Case law indicates that Joseph did not have to fulfill the condition of bringing an evil name upon Mary. But brother Battey will not recognize conditions in case law. All that is necessary, under the law according to brother Battey, is to give the woman the proper “writing of divorcement” or have her executed in the case of fornication. Brother Malcolm correctly stated that Josesph did not have to start a process against Mary. But if Joseph had started a process, it would have been carried out by the elders. So we have a new exception. Divorce is allowable, under the law, except for fornication. Brother Battey has turned this issue completely inside out. We never know what to expect next.

Brother Battey was appropriately asked in the question and answer session if Jesus' authoritative teaching (Matthew 7:29) was not due to the “manner” in which Jesus taught them in the Sermon on the Mount. Brother Battey exclaimed the Jews taught their people just like we do. They basically quoted from the scriptures just like we do. Moses said this and Moses said that (almost book, chapter and verse except those handy references didn't yet exist).

Brother Battey does not seem to be familiar with the manner in which the Pharisees taught their people. But this is understandable because he doesn't want to even recognize the rabbis. He is not historically oriented on this subject. He just wants to know what the Bible says. “Let the Bible Speak.” Therefore, it is not surprising that he cannot describe the Rabbinical Method. We advise brother Battey to get himself a copy of the Mishnah, if he does not already have this extra-biblical source, and read where rabbi so and so said this and rabbi so and so said that. Practically every statement made in the Mishnah is prefaced by what some rabbi said. The rabbis didn't merely quote Moses. Mostly they quoted each other. They almost exclusively quoted Jewish authorities. It was called the “tradition of the elders.” It was not the commandments of God. Matthew 15 and Mark 7 show us that Jesus had problems with the traditions of the Pharisees versus the “commandment of God.” But brother Battey does not want to hear about such traditions. But he admits the tradition of the Pharisees is a biblical subject. Jesus did not have a problem with the Law of Moses. Jesus was exactly right when he said in the Sermon on the Mount “Ye have heard.” They knew what Jesus meant when he used that “politically incorrect” expression to refer to the Rabbinical Method. And it wasn't just a matter of Jewish literacy among the common people either.

It would be a “fallacy of composition” to take what Jesus commanded of the Jewish leper (to offer the legal gift according to the Law of Moses in Matthew 8:4), and then conclude that everything Jesus commanded thereafter pertained to the Law of Moses. We cannot extrapolate a single commandment to the leper into a general rule about all of Jesus' commandments. We cannot take the part (command to the leper) and make it pertain to the whole (Gospels entirely consisted of commandments of the Law). But this is the kind of “fallacy of composition” the exception brethren want us to make when they think they have discovered a single Gospel command.

Brother Malcolm correctly pointed out that the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 was commanded by Jesus to “keep the commandments” of the Law of Moses to inherit eternal life. But when brother Battey thinks he can find a “new commandment” (John 13:34, Matthew 18:20) which prophetically pertains to the Gospel, or does not destroy the Law (like love), he jumps to the blanket conclusion that every commandment Jesus gave pertains to the Gospel. (This includes Matthew 19:9.) He is looking for a “simple hermeneutic.” Like Clint, he is looking for that certain “false dichotomy” or general rule that will make the interpretation of Matthew 19:9 simple and automatic. He is looking for that “either or” and the mutually exclusive disjunction rule to use as a general and perhaps an almighty divining rod. The Gospels are either the “New Testament” or they are the “Old Testament.” But this disjunctive rule won't work as a general rule or a “simple hermeneutic.”

Brother Battey is looking for another distinctive “but I say” clincher. However, this “but I say” clincher has proven to be wrong because Jesus had a problem with the Pharisees in the Sermon on the Mount (not the Law of Moses). Jesus had a problem with what they had heard from the Pharisees in the Synagogue. But if brother Battey were healed of his leprosy (if he had leprosy) would he have to obey the commandment Jesus gave to the Jewish leper and offer his gift according to the Law? No. Brother Battey would rightly conclude that Jesus gave this commandment to a Jewish leper under the Law. He knows he couldn't obey this command even if he would. He knows that context is always very important (except in the case of Matthew 19:9).

But we do have a “simple hermeneutic” about Jesus' teaching. "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." (1 Peter 2:22) Jesus did no destructive teaching. He never blasphemed. He was not a hypocrite. We use this rule as a guide throughout the Gospels. Once we realize what sin is, then we do not accuse Jesus of sinning EVER. Jesus thought one of the worst sins was hypocrisy. Constantly getting Jesus into situations where Jesus accuses the Pharisees of sinning (and then sins himself) simply cannot be tolerated. Jesus was no hypocrite. He never used doublespeak.

The scheme of redemption required Jesus to be a perfect sacrifice. Jesus did no sin is one of the few absolute and categorical statements that we make and that we accept about Jesus. For example, Moses said in Deuteronomy 4:2, “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.” This is a good definition of obedience. This would keep a Jew from sinning. Therefore, we do not accuse Jesus of adding to, subtracting from or outright rejecting the Law of Moses (like Clint De France did in his advertisement of the “Open Study” in Seminole, Oklahoma). One definition of sin is: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4) Brother Battey and Clint do not seem to take this definition of sin (missing the mark and acting unlawfully) very seriously. But we do.

Clint accuses brother Malcolm of stretching his analogy when brother Malcolm compares marriage to the relationship of Jesus with his church. (Ephesians 5) But what about stretching the analogy of making a will before you die? First, you make your will (while you are alive) and then the will becomes effective (after you die). Therefore, Jesus gave Matthew 19:9 before he died and then it became effective after he died?

Does this general rule even pertain to Matthew 19:9? Isn't this a “fallacy of decomposition” concerning giving a will and executing a will? In Matthew 19:9, the Pharisees asked a present tense question and they got a present tense answer just like we should expect. But we heard a lot of equivocation from brother Battey about what the definition of is, is. Brother Battey says the disciples of Jesus all understood what the Law is. They understood that Jesus was speaking about the future because Jesus contradicted the Law. They recognized it was a contradiction. Therefore, they knew Jesus could not be talking about the current Law and was talking about the future kingdom law even though his disciples exclaimed “it is not good to marry.” They exclaimed the present tense in a future sense of the word according to brother Battey. If they all understood when someone was contradicting the law on this issue, then why did the Pharisees ask their question in the first place? Why were there two schools of thought on the subject? Why did the disciples exclaim “if the case of the man be so with his wife it is not good to marry” instead of “it will not be good to marry”? (Matthew 19:10)

There is a problem with stretching the analogy of Jesus giving his will and then executing it later. Jesus said: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:12-13) Did Jesus give a partial will before he died? Is it normal to give a partial will before you die? Isn't this stretching the analogy of a last will and testament procedure?

But Jesus did not tell his disciples everything about the kingdom while he was alive. Jesus left much of that to the Holy Ghost. Jesus also said to his disciples: “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.” (Matthew 16:19-20) Were the disciples of Jesus both legislators and executors of his will? (This was a very good question by brother Don Bounds from Bloomington, Indiana.) The disciples legislated many things Jesus had not given them in the Gospels. At other times they did not legislate at all. For example, Malcolm pointed out the disciples of Jesus did not bind “foot washing” even though Jesus washed their feet. (John 13:8-9) Therefore, what practices and examples were bound? Was “foot washing” bound by the example and the command of Jesus? Brother Malcolm correctly pointed out that many concepts in the “Law of Moses” were simply “brought over”, borrowed and placed in the New Testament. They are pretty much “timeless or eternal” truths under any law.

Brother Battey makes much out of Paul's expression “the Lord” in 1 Corinthians 7. He infers Paul got some of the commandments by the Lord from some other avenue than by divine inspiration (such as Jesus' preaching ministry). However, Paul was not one of the original apostles, and he did not accompany Jesus from the baptism of John. (Acts 1:22) Malcolm correctly quotes from Galatians 1:11-12, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, it is wrong to make too much out of “the Lord” expression in 1 Corinthians 7.

Brother Battey plays “fast and loose” with his implications in the “Open Study.” He likes to insert implications where there are no such implications. For example, Jesus agrees with the Pharisees and disagrees with Moses. (This is an unlikely scenario. In fact, it is usually the opposite. Jesus disagrees with the Pharisees and agrees with Moses. Jesus was not an adversary of Moses. He was a champion of the Law. But Jesus was an adversary of the Pharisees. Brother Battey constantly chooses the wrong enemies for Jesus.)

Brother Battey has Jesus agreeing with his enemies, the Pharisees, and disagreeing with Moses in Matthew 19:8. “He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives [for every cause]: but from the beginning it was not so.” There is no such implication in this passage. This implication exists only in the mind of brother Battey. The “every cause” position was the position of the school of Hillel (not Moses). Jesus was just answering why Moses gave them a writing of divorcement. We could more appropriately have implied [for unchastity] but Jesus did not make that implication either. But Jesus explicitly states it was for unchastity or fornication in verse 9. No implication is necessary. Brother Battey defines “some uncleanness” or “matter of nakedness” as “every cause.” (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) How brother Battey gets “every cause” out of “a matter of nakedness” is strange. How can he get many causes out of one cause?

In Deuteronomy 24:3, the secondary cause listed for divorce (“hate”), is a more likely candidate for “every cause” than the primary cause for divorce (“matter of nakedness”) listed in Deuteronomy 24:1. A man can control the “putting away” for a “matter of nakedness.” But he cannot control why the second husband puts his former wife away. This is purely descriptive of what is likely to happen and is not prescriptive of something which God necessarily approves.

We do not believe that the woman had a right to become the next man's wife. The term “she may go” used in the King James Version is often translated “and she go” in many translations (even in the King James Version in Jeremiah 3:1). This is descriptive of what the woman is just likely to do as Matthew 5:32 is descriptive of what the “innocent woman” is likely to do after she is put away. She is “caused” to commit adultery. Furthermore, her original husband may not take her back “after that she is defiled.” (Deuteronomy 24:4) Moses states in Leviticus 18:20, “Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour's wife, to defile thyself with her.” In Numbers, 5:13, Moses speaks about the Sotah ritual. He says: “And a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and there be no witness against her, neither she be taken with the manner.” Therefore, in Deuteronomy 24:4, a man may not take a wife back who has been “adulterated” or defiled. If an innocent wife can be defiled (Matthew 5:32) by a second marriage, then why cannot a guilty wife also be defiled by a second marriage?

Brother Allen Baily, in the question and answer session, also inserts an implication where there is no such implication. Mark 10:12 states: “And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” Brother Baily interprets this passage to mean a woman has a right to initiate a divorce. In fact, he uses the word “initiate.” Jesus denied this right. When Jesus denied a Jewish woman the right to divorce, he did not imply that a Christian woman has a right to initiate a divorce. No implied right to any exception is implied or can even be inferred from his passage. But some Jewish women, such a Herodias, were claiming the right to divorce. Jesus was acknowledging this trend because the Jews were being assimilated.

Fred Kirbo recognized the value of Jewish history on the subject of “Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage” many years ago. He said in his sermon on “Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage”: “Now friends, look here! There were two schools of thought going at that time (and they were red hot!). There was the school of Shammai and the school of Hillel. They were divided on the very subject we're talking about right now: the marriage question. Some of them were teaching the Law of Moses allowed them to divorce for every cause (that was the school of Hillel), while those of Shammai taught that they could only divorce for the one cause of fornication. Now, you can easily see what school Jesus goes with here; the school of Shammai. Why, there was a great division on the marriage question even before you and I ever thought about arguing the question. Now, I want to tell you something and I want you to take it home with you. This came from a brother up north just a few days ago. I thought that this was good thinking and just good sound sense. He said, 'You know, long before we ever studied the marriage question, they were having trouble over it back yonder under the Law of Moses, whether they could divorce for one cause or for any cause. Now, since there are so many hard things about the Law of Moses on the marriage question (it even caused trouble among themselves; they couldn't get together on it back there), why don't we try to find out what side the Lord was on, then we'll settle this thing.' On whose side was the Lord? Whom did he favor? Since they couldn't agree back there when they were arguing the question, let's find out from Jesus. Let's find out which was right: whether they could divorce for one cause or for every cause. (And he ought to know, brother! If Jesus doesn't know, I don't know of anyone who does!) They had put the question to him, 'Is it lawful?' And Jesus replied, 'There is but one cause: Fornication!' Now, that's going to save a lot of argument! That's going to save the trouble of going back into the Old Testament Law and digging around back there...studying polygamy, and David's wives, and Jacob's wife, and all of these many different things that you and I, Brother Buffington, used to study so much about. If you want to save a lot of time and trouble, all you have to do is ask Jesus, and he'll tell you! He said that there wasn't but one cause. Now, we could say, 'Well, maybe he didn't know,' and then head back over there and go to digging up all of these many difficult cases. But you know, I'm just pretty well satisfied to take Jesus at his word and say that he's right about it.”

All we can add to what Fred said here is “amen.” We listened a lot to Fred's sermons growing up. He was interesting, homey, plain, funny and sometimes even crude. He was unique. We usually remembered his sermons. More than this, we noted his every word. We don't worship him now, like we did when we were young, but he was a good man. Fred was one of our childhood heroes. Several times Fred referred to us as his “Timothy” with a big smile on his face. It was a special treat and an honor.

Some have tried to imply that Fred was “not his own man.” If brother Homer Gay had lived, they say, Fred would have merely “agreed to disagree.” Some claimed our grandfather, H. E. Robertson caused Fred to get off the fence and to make trouble over this issue. But those of us who knew Fred disagree. Fred wanted to go to heaven. He said this many times. Fred also knew if he ever “got off the fence” on this divorce issue he would get himself in trouble. He would pay the price. It is reported that he said he would have to get himself, “a cow, a sow and a plow and go to farming” because he knew he would no longer be the popular fellow that he once was just by taking a stand on the conservative side of the marriage question. But he also knew he must stand for tempered reason on this subject against the coming tides of divorce. He sometimes commented that he felt like he was standing in the sea trying to hold back the tide.

Fred knew about the history of Shammai and Hillel. He didn't discount their history or their debate like some do. He knew Jesus wasn't operating in a “historical vacuum.” There were good reasons for Jesus to say what he said. “But we guess that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.” Fred was not of that sort.

Fred knew about the debate between Shammai and Hillel, but he never reported the original source. Therefore, we went to ask the local rabbi about the source of the debate in the early seventies. We figured the local rabbi ought to know. He did. As we surveyed, with some perplexity, the volumes of Hebrew writings (oral traditions) at the back of the synagogue, the Jewish Rabbi gave us the Jewish answer we had been searching for in his ancient Jewish writings. The source of the debate was in the third division of the Mishnah (Women) in Gittin 9:10. We could not read the Hebrew writings, but we remembered the source. It was not from Adam Clarke (or any other Christian commentator). Christian commentators mentioned Shammai and Hillel often enough but they never seemed to cite the original source. It was frustrating. But this was the original source, straight from a Jewish rabbi and his Rabbinical Traditions.

So, this “Goy” left the synagogue with a smile on his face. It was before the age of the internet. Now there was no excuse to be ignorant of this historical debate. This knowledge was hard won in those days, but it is easy to find on the internet today. The rabbi was actually an unbiased observer who was merely curious as to why some Goy would be interested in some of his ancient Jewish traditions. But his traditions told us that Jesus was not operating in a historical vacuum. Jesus addressed real issues. He was not just spouting some new Christian doctrine. Therefore, Jesus was a real historical figure. Unknown to the rabbi, it increased our faith in a certain Jewish Messiah who knew very well his Jewish roots.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Clint's Small Precursor to the Debate in Seminole

We have used the debate in Seminole as a “case study” for some of the concepts we have entered into our previous posts on our blog. Unfortunately, we believe that many of these concepts require repetition because some of them are not often heard in some pulpits. Therefore, these concepts are sometimes foreign and require some repetition. Debate also helps to counterbalance some of the sacred cows we encounter. Real world examples, such as the debate in Seminole, can be helpful too if it is not used as some kind of peer pressure tool to keep the herd in check. Dialog is beneficial too. However, it is very difficult to have dialogs when the subject matter is basically taboo or does not fit the norm in a particular brotherhood or congregation.

Clint De France, on his very informative and interesting web site, has given us a very small preview of some of the ideas which may be debated by brother Malcolm and brother Battey in Seminole, Oklahoma on Saturday, March 14 at 6:00 p. m. in the Jeff Johnston Fine Arts Center in Seminole, OK at the Seminole State College. In Clint's post, "Are the Gospels Old Testament Books?", Clint explains: “This writer will be moderating an open Bible study between Malcom Kniffen and George Battey on the subject of divorce and re-marriage, in which the subject of this article will be a major point of discussion.” Since Clint will be the moderator in this debate, and the subject of Clint's post “will be a major point of the discussion”, we want to review the subject matter of Clint's post. We have no ill will against Clint. But we strongly disagree with some of his statements.

At the start of his post, Clint asks these questions: “Do the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John belong to the Old or New Testament? Put another way, do the Gospels reveal the Mosaic Covenant of God with Israel, or the Christian Covenant of God with the Church?”

Our answer is simple. Must we take brother Clint's choice? We do not even accept the wording of the questions that were “Put another way.” For example, part of the choice, “do the Gospels reveal the Mosaic Covenant of God with Israel” is irrelevant and incidental. But in fact they do. Why does Clint even juxtapose this part of his statement against the revelation of “the Christian Covenant of God with the Church”? We suppose that Clint wants us to decide one way or the other. Why? Once again, we are presented with a “false dichotomy” where we are expected to decide one way or the other. Either choice would be wrong. It is typical “black and white” thinking which supposes that these are the only two alternatives; and that these alternatives are mutually exclusive. But they are not only two alternatives; and they are not mutually exclusive. Also the difference between the conjunction “and” and the disjunction “or” also makes a big difference. “And” combines. The exclusive “Or” separates. Clint wants us to separate that which can be combined. Jesus taught a “preparatory Gospel” and he confirmed the truth of the Old Testament. These efforts were not contradictory. This is how we would explain the work of Jesus.

Let us give this example. In brother Battey's pamphlet “'No-Exception' For Divorce (Is this true?)” on page 22, brother Battey has a section entitled VARIOUS PROBLEMS. Brother Battey presents this division under that section: The no-exception position ignores the mission of John.

This is a misrepresentation. We do not ignore the mission of John. As proof for this false representation, brother Battey says that we claim: “During His earthly ministry, Jesus could not teach anything differently than what Mosaic Law already said. Jesus is restricted to clarifying Mosaic Law. He spends His entire life-calling people back to the Mosaic Law without teaching one statute of His soon coming, new kingdom.” We deny every single misrepresentation. We are not even sure how Jesus doing something is even related to his false proposition that our position ignores John's mission.

The Prophets gave the authority for the work of John the Baptist. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Mark 1:1-3) Was it necessary for the Prophet Isaiah to define every single action that John the Baptist took in preparing the way of the Lord? Would Isaiah have to give the complete details of John's work for his work to be authorized? This was unnecessary just like it was unnecessary to describe the dimension of every single board which Noah placed in the Ark. However, the building of the Ark was authorized.

We defy brother Battey, or Clint, to show us where this Baptism of John was a “new covenant” work. It was a transitional work. It was a preparatory work. But it was not part of the “new covenant.” If it were part of the “new covenant”, then why did Paul rebaptize those who knew only the Baptism of John? (Acts 19:1-7) This work was a transitional work between the institution of the covenants and it was provided for by the Prophets in the Old Testament.

John's Baptism was a baptism of repentance. This baptism required the Jews to “get ready” for the coming kingdom and the new covenant during this transition period. Repentance requires an “existing law.” When Jesus asked the Pharisees where the Baptism of John came from, they would have known had they been able to associate the work of John the Baptist with the “messenger” we can read about in Isaiah 40:3 or Malachi 3:1-5. But they could not do that just like they could not recognize the return of Elijah the Prophet in Malachi 4:5. Elijah was a great prophet under the Old Testament. John, who came in the spirit and the power of Elijah, was claimed by Jesus to be the greatest prophet under the Old Testament. Jesus said: “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11) Why was John the Baptist less than the least in the kingdom? Answer. He was never in the kingdom.

Brother Clint says: “This writer... believes that indeed the Gospels should be reckoned a part of the revelation of the New Testament of Jesus Christ, and that the majority of the teaching and instruction found within the four Evangelists is in fact binding on the Church.” Whatever the writer believes, there is no general rule like this which can be applied to Matthew 19:9.

Clint also says: “Christ and His apostles were subject to the Law of Moses (Galatians 4.4), however from John the Baptist to the Cross is the continuous message that the Messianic Kingdom (the Church) is “at hand” (Matthew 3.2, 4.17, 10.7; Mark 1.5; Luke 16.16). And Christ himself often teaches things that would have no application at the time, but would later apply to the church.”

In Matthew 19:9-10 the disciples of Jesus knew that Jesus' teachings immediately applied to them as Jews under the Law. What Jesus said in Matthew 19:9 did have an “application at the time” contrary to the inappropriate rule which Clint tries to impose on Matthew 19:9. Jesus did not spew forth meaningless and inapplicable answers to Jewish questions. His statements were always very much to the point. Matthew 19:9 did not “later apply to the church.” Clint has introduced a disconnect between the questions which the Pharisees asked Jesus and the answers which Jesus gave to them. Clint would like to separate the answers from the questions. Clint uses disjunctions. The answer which Jesus gave to the Pharisees was both appropriate and applicable at the time.

Brother Clint appeals to the time when the Gospels were written. He says: “The first reason why the Gospels cannot possibly be considered Old Testament books is that the Apostle Paul attaches the abrogation of the Law of Moses to the death of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2.14), which is seen in Jesus’ post resurrection claim, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth…” (Matthew 28.18). Formally, the New Institution began on the Day of Pentecost and all of this transpired in approximately A.D. 33. However, the Gospels were not written for years after! Matthew was written around A.D. 50, Luke A.D. 58, Mark A.D. 68, and finally John in A.D. 90. So, the earliest Gospel was written almost twenty years after the Old Testament was nailed to the cross; the last Gospel forty years after that!”

What difference does it make when the Gospels were written? They were histories. They refer to events that took place in the past. They were accurate accounts. They were inspired. When we describe events in the past, we cannot imply that those events necessarily pertained to the future. The Gospels were historical and written so that we might believe. (John 20:31)

Clint has Jesus adding to the Law, taking away from the Law and basically blaspheming, contradicting and outright rejecting the Law. Clint says: “Jesus taught New Testament teaching in public settings as well, such as in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5.1-7.29, Jesus gives instruction and doctrine that adds to the Old Testament teaching (Matthew 5.21-22), subtracts from Old Testament teaching (Matthew 5.31-32), and rejects Old Testament teaching (Matthew 5.38-42); but when giving these teachings he gave a qualifying charge: 'Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven' (Matthew 5.17-19) By saying that the Law and the Prophets must be obeyed until 'all is fulfilled' he was saying, 'until the Son of Man is risen from the dead' (Luke 24.44-46).”

Indirectly charging Jesus with blasphemy is a serious thing. But brother Clint manages to do it. Brother Battey manages to do it too. It seems that Clint is following in brother Battey's footsteps. This is a bad thing. The Jews could not prove Jesus was guilty of sin. (John 8:46) But brother Clint and brother Battey indirectly do claim that Jesus was indeed guilty of sin. Clint should be more careful or else he might well be accused of charging Jesus with blasphemy. This is a serious thing.

Clint uses a slight of hand technique where Jesus gives with his right hand and takes away with his left hand. Jesus both affirms and denies his support for the Law. Jesus says he is not going to sin against the Law; but then he goes ahead and does it anyway. How can Jesus say he is not going to do something and then with impunity go ahead and do it? Sounds like some of our politicians. I am not going to do that but then proceeds to do it.

It reminds us of the parable Jesus gave to the Pharisees about the two sons. One son said he would not go, but he went. The other son said that he would go but he did not go. Jesus asked the Pharisees: "Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.” (Matthew 21:28-32) Jesus was also baptized with the Baptism of John to “fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15) But the Pharisees were not baptized. Jesus always fulfilled the righteousness of the Law because Jesus was not a hypocrite like the Pharisees. Jesus never said one thing and did another. Jesus never asked anyone to do something that he could not do himself. He could always do more. He never accused anyone of breaking the Law and then broke the Law himself. Exception preachers invariably and indirectly make Jesus as a hypocrite.

Clint claims the “Be Attitudes” (Matthew 5.1-7.29) were additions to the Law of Moses. No. They were blessings prophesied by the Prophets. What makes them additions? Why doesn't Clint just run a few references on these “Be Attitudes” like we did? “Blessed are the poor in spirit....” (Psalms 51:17, Isaiah 57:15, Isaiah 66:2) “Blessed are they that mourn....” (Isaiah 61:2-3) “Blessed are the meek....” (Psalms 37:11) “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness....” (Isaiah 55:1, Isaiah 65:13) “Blessed are the merciful....” (Psalms 41:1) This took us a few minutes looking in the margin of our King James Version for references from the Old Testament. Verse 29 is just hyperbole to emphasize some good advice. Perhaps Clint is forgetting that Jesus was infinitely familiar with the scriptures and the blessings prophesied by them? Jesus knew and greatly respected the scriptures. But Clint does not give the scriptures their due respect. However, Jesus gives them his respect. He recounts their blessings.

In Matthew 5:21-22 Jesus pointed to the underlying causes of murder. Murder stems from rage and anger. This is not an addition to the Law. This is just why people go out and kill other people even under the Law of Moses.

In the account of Cain and Able, the Lord actually predicted that Cain would sin. Cain was angry because his brother Abel's offering was accepted and his was not. “And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” (Genesis 4:6-7)

The Lord was very graphical. We can almost see a lion or a wild beast crouching at the door ready to take Cain as he exits from his house. Satan also crouches like a lion and is lurking at our door and ready to take us for his prey. Cain immediately went out of his house and invited his brother out into the field where he killed him just like the Lord had predicted. The Lord could see it in Cain's face. It was the first murder. And it all came about because Cain was angry with both God and with his brother.

Jesus was also using graphical language to emphasize the reasons for murder. He was not adding to the Law. He was using hyperbole. There is no literal council on this earth waiting for the man who calls his brother a fool. However, we need to be sure that God will judge inappropriate anger. We also need to understand that people brought up in oral and vocal societies often used vivid language for emphasis and to strengthen the memory of their accounts. They were not prevaricating when they exaggerated for emphasis. They also were not creating new laws. They were just communicating. Perhaps people in the social media might call it “drama.” But Jesus was a powerful communicator. Unfortunately, Clint is mistaking Jesus' graphical language and intimate knowledge of the scriptures for creating new laws.

Murder proceeds from the heart. Those things which proceed from the heart are those things which defile the man. (Matthew 15:11) Jesus said this in the context of accusing the Pharisees of vain worship by teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:9)

Just before Jesus gave the underlying cause for murder in Matthew 5:21-22, he made this statement in Matthew 5:20. “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus had a problem with the Pharisees. Jesus did not say, except your righteousness exceed the righteousness that is in the Law, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus himself was justified by his righteous under the Law. Jesus did not have a problem with the Law. He had a problem with the Pharisees. In fact, the Pharisees hated him and were trying to kill him. Perhaps that is why Jesus pointed this out about the righteousness of the Pharisees.

Just before Jesus made this statement about the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, he gave a disclaimer and made sure they understood the constraints under which he was operating. Clint and brother Battey see no such constraints. When they do see them, they simply ignore them or they claim that Jesus was merely qualifying the reasons for the sins he was about to commit in the sermon which he was about to preach. They give these constraints token recognition. Brother Battey says emphatically that Jesus was the Messiah (and he implies that, as the Messiah, Jesus could do pretty much whatever Messiahs happen to do). This is doublespeak. Jesus was not his own standard. He did not live by the idea that every man should do what is right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6) The Law of Moses was a standard by which Jesus conducted his entire life in virtually everything that he said and he did. Jesus went by the scriptures in his temptation; and Jesus went by the scriptures in his Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was totally aware of his limitations. People talk about “Walking Bibles.” Jesus was a “Walking Bible” and more. Jesus was the Word made flesh. (John 1:14) He in no wise engaged in any form of self mutilation or self destruction except when he died to the Law on the Cross. Jesus nailed the Law to the Cross because he was that Law. The Law died with him. How is that for identity?

What were Jesus' limitations? Jesus explains: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Was Jesus “least in the kingdom”? No. Jesus' life was completely circumscribed by the Law. He was not “least in the kingdom of heaven” by any means. He is much more. He is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” (Revelation 19:16) That is the title engraved on his thigh.

Clint says Jesus “subtracts from Old Testament teaching (Matthew 5.31-32).” This is likely the scripture in which Clint is really trying to make his point. Clint believes that Moses allowed divorce for virtually any reason, except for fornication. But, according to Clint and brother Battey, in the case of fornication, the person must always be executed. Clint virtually adopts the position of Hillel (except for the exception part). Hillel allowed divorce for fornication too. But Jesus was more conservative than both Moses and Hillel. Jesus only allowed divorce for fornication. Therefore, Jesus “subtracts from Old Testament teaching.” When Jesus subtracts from the Old Testament, he leaves the exception (according to Clint and brother Battey) available for Christians.

No Clint. Jesus subtracts from the “tradition of the Pharisees” and not the Old Testament. Clint and brother Battey constantly confuse and consistently conflate the problems Jesus had with the Pharisees to Jesus' supposed desire to subtract from, add to and simply reject the Old Testament. But Jesus had no such desire. Jesus specifically said in Matthew 5:17-20 that he had no such desire and that he would do no such thing. But brother Battey and Clint will not take Jesus' disclaimer (except in “token” form). They merely give his disclaimer and the constraints Jesus was working with “lip service.” They reduce Jesus' disclaimer to a mere inconvenience for them when they try to make their arguments.

We repeat. Jesus did not say that their righteousness must exceed the righteousness found in the Old Testament. Jesus was not comparing their righteousness with the Old Testament standard. Instead Jesus said that their righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus was comparing against the false righteousness found in the scribes and the Pharisees. He was giving examples where the Pharisees went wrong. These were not examples of where the Old Testament went wrong. It is horribly wrong to equate the righteousness found in the Old Testament with the righteousness found in the scribes and the Pharisees. They are simply not the same thing.

The righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees was based upon their “oral traditions.” The “oral traditions” are not in the Old Testament. Jesus subtracts from the traditions. Brother Battey does not want to talk about the traditions because he supposes it is not even biblical to talk about the “traditions of the elders.” However it is biblical because Jesus speaks about it himself in Matthew 15, Mark 7, Matthew 23 and Matthew 5:21-48.

But the Pharisees had indeed subtracted from the Law of Moses. Jesus had not subtracted from the Law, but they had subtracted from the Law. And this is what Jesus was concerned about. Jesus was defending the Law against the traditions. Brother Battey and Clint do not recognize that Jesus was the supreme defender of the Law against the oral traditions. Therefore, they find themselves on the side of the Pharisees.

How had the Pharisees subtracted? Well they had eliminated the proper cause for a Jewish man to divorce his wife. Hillel had basically concluded that the Jewish man had access to “no fault” divorce. All the Jewish man had to do was to give his Jewish wife the proper “writing of divorcement.” And both Clint and brother Battey essentially agree.

However, Jesus said if the man practiced “no fault” divorce, he was causing his wife to “commit adultery.” This was not speculative Christian doctrine. This was something that was happening every single day among the Jews. That's why they were “A wicked and adulterous generation.” (Matthew 12:39)

But brother Clint and brother Battey have taken a position which makes it practically impossible for a Jewish man to violate the seventh commandment. It was practically impossible for a man to commit adultery. Therefore, Jesus was wrong to call them an “adulterous generation.” However, Jesus was right. Brother Battey and Clint are wrong because they have essentially aligned themselves with the Pharisees against Jesus. They just don't know that yet. Perhaps some day they will.

Brother Battey claims The no-exception position ignores the problem of polygamy. Jesus also ignored that problem. Brother Battey has a more serious problem. The exception was not intended for a woman. A Jewish woman could not initiate a divorce. She could not put her husband away for fornication. She could not give her Jewish husband a “Get.” But brother Battey and Clint both want the Christian woman to be able to divorce their husbands for fornication. But this is not found in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Matthew 5:31-32 and Matthew 19:9. We challenge them to find where Jesus said the woman could divorce her husband in any of these passages.

If Jesus addressed the problem of polygamy, he did it only indirectly. Jesus was talking about a man causing his wife to commit adultery by putting her away. This act also caused him to be involved in her adultery. He also committed adultery by causing her to commit adultery. She was “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.” In Matthew 19:9 and in Matthew 5:31-32, Jesus did not address the situation of a Jewish man keeping his current wife and getting himself another woman. He only addressed the problem of a man putting away his wife. This problem was not about a Jewish man having multiple wives.

Clint says that Jesus rejected the Law of Moses in Matthew 5:38-42. Jesus was not talking about “due process of the law” in these verses. He was speaking about taking personal and unlawful vengeance. Everything had to be established in the mouth of two or three witnesses. The Jews did not have the right to take the Law into their own hands.

In this post, we have referred to some of the teachings of brother Clint and brother Battey because we strongly disagree with their teachings. We don't know them personally and have no particular ill will against them. In fact, we like Clint's web site very much. We do ask that Clint, as the moderator of this debate, will take a “head count” of those who agree with brother Battey's “humility theory” in “The Case of Joseph and Mary.” Perhaps they need remedial or comprehensive reading classes?

There is a difference between just reading and being able to comprehend what we read. To read successfully, it is necessary to make reasonable interpretations of the inferences and the implications that are always present in any set of passages. Brother Battey has made some interpretations about “The Case of Joseph and Mary” that are simply beyond the pale. Actually, our jaws dropped when we read his interpretation.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Some Responses to Our Questions for Brother Battey

We did get some replies to our inquiry about agreement or disagreement with brother Battey's position on “The Case of Joseph and Mary.” We can definitely say that, in general, there has been a lot of interest for the blog post on “ Some Comments and Questions for Brother Battey.” Activity levels have been high.

However, activity levels are one thing and serious replies are another. Naturally, we got some very negative replies; and, from our perspective, we also got some very positive replies. Some people are actually glad that we have openly challenged brother Battey's “alarming biblical interpretations and conclusions.”

We can definitely say that brother Battey has been very open about his position on brother Malcolm's preaching in Moore, Oklahoma. One preacher claimed that we should take the Matthew 18 or the escalated discipline route with brother Battey like Jesus said that we should. Of course, brother Battey did not take that route with brother Malcolm. (We are “causing problems” and brother Battey is just “contending for the faith” we suppose?)

Brother Battey has announced a contest between himself and brother Malcolm on Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. in the Jeff Johnston Fine Arts Center in Seminole, OK at the Seminole State College.

We do not mind advertising this event and hope that it will be more than just a Preacher Fest with the presence of a few entourages who are just there to cheer on their respective champions. Of course, neither speaker can be expected (or should be expected) to completely represent all viewpoints, and this event will not be “the be all and the end all” on this subject. But it should be interesting.

Brother Battey has framed his position as a contest between Jesus and the Law. One preacher stated “the Law of Moses permitted divorce for virtually any reason, except in the cases of capital sin when the death penalty was mandated.” Of course, according to brother Battey and some others, Jesus took a more conservative “Christian” approach than this. He merely allowed divorce for fornication. Consequently, the Seventh Commandment, “Do not commit adultery” has been seriously compromised by Brother Battey, who takes the very unhistorical approach of not recognizing Hillel or any of the other rabbis, but brother Battey virtually adopts Hillel's position (except Hillel believed that divorce for fornication was possible). Hillel was much more of a Jewish authority than brother Battey, but Jesus said that Hillel was wrong. (Matthew 5:32) Therefore, brother Battey's position is also wrong. Liberal divorce laws make it practically impossible to violate the Seventh Commandment.

Brother Battey was at a “preacher's study” in Ardmore, Oklahoma recently reciting his “'No-Exception' For Divorce (Is this true?)” pamphlet on brother Malcolm's sermon in Moore, Oklahoma. Brother Battey said: “Now, Don't talk to me about the Rabbinic Schools, and how there were two schools of rabbinic thought, and how the one said this and another…. I don't want to know about the rabbis! I want to know about the law of God.”

Why doesn't brother Battey want to know about the rabbis? Well, presumably it is because he wants to take a very solid biblical approach. But his approach is very unhistorical. He wants to pretend that “the tradition of the elders” is not a biblical subject. Well, anyone who has ever read Matthew 15 and Mark 7 knows that “the tradition of the elders” is a very biblical subject, and that the traditions of the elders were very germane to the constant problem that Jesus had with the Pharisees. In Matthew 15 and Mark 7 Jesus was contending for the “commandments of God” against the “traditions of the elders.” However, brother Battey consistently confuses and constantly conflates Jesus' opposition to the traditions of the Pharisees with his supposed opposition to the Law of Moses. Incidentally, brother Battey tries to turn Matthew 15 and Mark 7 into a future abrogation of the Jewish “Kosher Food Laws” given by Moses. But Jesus was merely opposing the current false “purity laws” contrived by the Pharisees. This is another false and confusing conflation by brother Battey where he tries to combine false purity laws with the Jewish Kosher food laws. “Traditions of the Elders.”

We suspect that brother Battey does not want to know about the rabbis because he knows that the house of Shammai contended for the cause of divorce for unchastity. This certainly does not help brother Battey's position that all Jewish women who were guilty of fornication should be executed. The grounds for divorce given by the rabbis are found in the Mishnah.

Gittin 9:10 A. The House of Shammai say, “A man should divorce his wife only because he has found grounds for it in unchastity, B. “since it is said, Because he has found in her indecency in anything (Deuteronomy 24:1).” C. And the House of Hillel say, “Even if she spoiled his dish, D. “since it is said, Because he has found in her indecency in anything.” E. R. Aqiba says, “Even if he found someone else prettier than she, “since it is said, And it shall be if she find no favor in his eyes (Deuteronomy 24:1).” (Neusner, 1987)

As we can see, the rabbis emphasized different terminology in Deuteronomy 24:1. Their definitions ranged from the very strict definition or emphasis of Shammai to the ultra-liberal definition or emphasis of Hillel. However, Shammai actually tried to define the words that were the most appropriate for the grounds for divorce. As we have tried to emphasize in other posts, “some uncleanness” or “a matter of nakedness” or “indecency in anything” is the same Hebrew terminology used throughout Leviticus 18 and 20 for having inappropriate sexual relationships (fornication) with those who were prohibited. Claiming that a “matter of nakedness” in Deuteronomy 24:1 cannot refer to fornication is like claiming that a discovery of “nakedness”, in Leviticus 18 and 20, cannot mean fornication. The idea is absurd.

Some preachers object to citing Hillel and Shammai in the divorce controversy. They are like brother Battey in that respect. Brother Battey said: “I don't want to know about the rabbis!” One preacher said: “In regard to Shammai and Hillel: these men were simply Jewish scholars and philosophers. I hear people today reference Adam Clarke and James MacKnight. These men like Shammai and Hillel are just scholars.”

This is partly true. They were just men with an opinion. Everybody has one. However, Hillel and Shammai completely dominated the divorce scene among the Jews in the time (and just before the time) of Jesus. Their interpretations were the “official positions” among the Pharisees. They were the “primary” and the “original” sources for the accepted “official positions.” Their opinions still hold today in Rabbinic Judaism. This means they were much more than just important commentators and philosophers like Adam Clarke. Adam Clarke, as far as we know, could not impose his will upon the general populace. But Hillel and Shammai could certainly impose their interpretations upon the Jews. The positions of Hillel and Shammai were actually used in legal proceedings. Therefore, Jesus had to deal with their legal opinions because Hillel and Shammai were legal authorities who had to be dealt with.

But brother Battey will not recognize the history of Hillel and Shammai. He will not even mention their names. “I don't want to know about the rabbis!” He wants to take a strictly biblical approach. He claims the Pharisees came testing Jesus because “Herod Junior” had killed John the Baptist for criticizing Herod's marriage. The Pharisees wanted the same thing to happen to Jesus that happened to John. This is the only reason brother Battey has given (that we know about) for why they tested Jesus. He will not even admit that the Pharisees wanted to discredit Jesus by getting him involved in their Jewish debate. But Jesus did not shy away from answering their debate. This is an important lesson for us.

We should not fail to cite the most obvious, important and appropriate player in this entire issue (namely Jesus). Jesus defined the grounds in Deuteronomy 24:1 as “fornication”, and we accept his very authoritative definition.

Brother Battey claims that Jesus contrasted his grounds for divorce with Moses' grounds for divorce. In Matthew 5:31-32, brother Battey claims that Jesus quoted Moses verbatim. However, notice Jesus' quote in Matthew 5:31 very carefully. “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.” Is this a quote from Moses? We defy brother Battey to find such a quote in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 where the “writing of divorcement” was given. This is what the Jews had heard from the Pharisees in their synagogues because they could not read this in their Holy Scriptures. (It was not because they were illiterate that they could not read this, as brother Battey claims. It was because their “oral tradition” was not in the Holy Scriptures.) It was misplaced emphasis by the Pharisees. The Pharisees really did not care about the grounds for divorce. All they cared about was the administration of the divorce certificate. But Jesus gave the grounds for divorce in verse 32 (in contrast to no grounds at all given by the Pharisees in verse 31). Furthermore, Jesus told them that they were causing innocent wives “to commit adultery.” In verse 32, Jesus specified that “fornication” was the only ground.

In Matthew 19, Jesus contrasted his answer with a question posed by the Pharisees. Notice carefully this contrast. It was a question posed by the Pharisees versus an answer given to them by Jesus. There are three very important content correspondence indicators or factors in their question. The first content indicator in the question is “is it lawful?” The second important content correspondence indicator in the question is “for a man to divorce his wife?” (because the Jewish man was acting upon his wife and not vice versa). The third important content correspondence indicator in the question is “for just any reason.” See our post "Chronological and Content Correspondence."

But brother Battey says the answer to their question is found in Mark 10:5. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.” That is, Jesus merely acknowledged that divorce was possible and that was his answer to their question in Matthew 19:3. Brother Battey says that Jesus agreed with their answer.

However, Mark 10 is not very parallel with Matthew 19 in many respects. First of all, they asked this question in Mark 10:2: “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.” They left out the “for just any reason” clause. They just asked him about the possibility of a Jewish man divorcing his wife. But in Matthew 19:3 they asked: “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause.”
In Matthew 19:7 the Pharisees asked Jesus: “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?” But in Mark 10:3 Jesus asked them: “What did Moses command you?” These questions seem to be exactly the opposite concerning who was asking the question. In Matthew 19:7 the Pharisees were asking the “command question”, but in Mark 10:3 Jesus was asking the “command question.” (In any case, what Moses said was important.)

Perhaps by Mark 10:4 the Pharisees had gotten Jesus' point? They answered Jesus: “Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.” That is what Jesus had said to their “command question” in Matthew 19:8. “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives.” Perhaps Jesus was testing them with his “command question” to see if they had gotten his point? “Command” does not mean “permit”, like brother Battey says. Brother Battey says that “permit” equals “command.”Brother Battey is trying to force some parallelism on these passages which is simply not there.

Brother Battey is trying to prove that the answer to their question is only: “For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.” However, the precept Moses wrote is not the same as the reason Moses gave the precept. This is where brother Battey makes a mistake. What is the precept? Is the precept just that “Moses suffered divorce” or is it more extensive than this? In Matthew 19:9 Jesus explains his conclusion about Moses' precept: “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” He continued from the “hardness of heart” reason Moses gave the precept with the “And I say” conjunction that summed up the precept Moses gave. This summation was not a contradiction against Moses. In Mark 10:2 they did not ask about the details for “every cause”, and in Mark 10:5 Jesus did not tell them the details for “every cause.” However, the exception is implied in their question and in Jesus' answer.

In our previous post, we did not agree with brother Battey's position that “fornication” always required execution and that Deuteronomy 24:1-4 did not provide divorce for fornication. Brother Battey believes that Deuteronomy 22 and Deuteronomy 24 are mutually exclusive. Brother Battey emphatically exclaims: “No divorce for fornication, EVER (under Mosaic law).”

In Jeremiah 3:1, Jeremiah said: “They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord.” What does it take to “play the harlot”? We suppose God would have destroyed them for spiritual adultery? But he did not.

Again, we read: “And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.” (Jeremiah 3:8) Brother Battey says the woman must be executed for such sins. But how could the prophet Jeremiah use this kind of figurative language for adultery and divorce if divorce were impossible for adultery? We realize that God, as God, can do whatever he wants. Nevertheless, the prophet Jeremiah used a legitimate analogy where God put Israel away for adultery.

We recommend against brother Battey's mistake that Jesus, as the Messiah, could do whatever he desired to do when he was on the earth. He emphatically claims that Jesus was the “Messiah”, and implies that, as the Messiah, Jesus could do whatever. But when Jesus was on the earth, he was “under” the law. (Galatians 4:4) Furthermore, Hebrews 4:15 states: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus could be tempted, and he could have sinned, but he did not. This is why Jesus was a perfect sacrifice. These facts are just part of “The Scheme of Redemption 101” information that can easily be found in the scriptures. Brother Battey asks: “Jesus sinned, who said that”? Well brother Battey has said that indirectly on more than one occasion. In fact, brother Battey said it immediately after he asked this question. Brother Battey claims that Jesus could willfully contradict (and consequently “sin”) against the Law of Moses. However, brother Battey does not view such contradictions as sin. Nevertheless, we submit that Jesus did not blaspheme or destroy the Holy Scriptures.

Brother Battey does not consider “conditional language” in “case law” very seriously. For example, If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. ”(Deuteronomy 22:13-19)

These passages have the obvious If/then constructs of “case law.” The conditions follow the “if” and the consequences follow the “then.” We ask a very important question. Does the man have to “give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her”? Does he have to fulfill the conditions for a test of her virginity? Brother Battey leaves out the man's choice in the matter and makes the “public example” route always mandatory. “She must be executed.” What about divorce? Well, it looks like the man forfeited that option under the laws against “double jeopardy.” It says: “he may not put her away all his days.” We see more than one option available in this “case law.” (So did the rabbis.)

The Jews had another test, that was discontinued by the Pharisees in AD 40 and certainly did not survive past AD 70, for women “going astray” in their marriage. This test bears some investigation. This was called the Sotah. A reference to the “ordeal of the bitter water” can be found at this internet site for Sotah.

Numbers 5:12-31 talks about the Sotah in these conditional terms: “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man's wife go aside (Sotah), and commit a trespass against him, And a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and there be no witness against her, neither she be taken with the manner; And the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled: Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest ....” (Numbers 5:12-15) The terms “taken with the manner” means pregnant. The Jews divorced a woman who was pregnant and did not give her the “bitter water” test because there was no doubt the woman was guilty. Some Pseudepigrapha works actually apply the Sotah to Mary. (This is a very mysterious and complicated subject.) We are personally glad that Jesus “nailed it to the cross.”

Brother Battey pleads the “humility theory” in the case of Joseph and Mary. Joseph was a humble man and in awe of Mary. Therefore, he wanted to divorce her because he wasn't good enough for her. He cites Robert Gundry, McHugh and Salmeron as proof for his “humility theory.” Brother Battey has Joseph considering options (such as “public example” and “divorce") which were designed for sinners instead of the virgin Mary of which, brother Battey tells us, Joseph was “in awe.”

The “suspicion theory” is the predominant theory. In this theory, Joseph naturally suspects that Mary has fornicated or sinned. The “suspicion theory” rightly assumes that there were options available for dealing with sinners.

However, some preachers seem to agree with brother Battey. In our estimation, brother Battey may have backed some of his fellow preachers into a corner because the “humility theory” as a minor opinion will certainly hurt their credibility.

Brother Battey believes Moses gave divorce for many causes except for fornication. Moses did not allow divorce for fornication, but Jesus did. Therefore, brother Battey has Jesus at odds with Moses.

One way that brother Battey pleads for many causes under the Law of Moses is to cite examples of divorce for servants and women taken in military conquest. We call these “red herrings.” It is obvious that servants did not have the same “marital status”as free women.

For example, Leviticus 19:20 it says: “And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.” Since she did not have the same marital status as the free woman, she was not put to death like brother Battey claims that all such women should be. Perhaps brother Battey will stop using servants and women taken in military conquests as examples of putting women away because they were not always executed when they fornicated?

Circumstances for a servant under the Law of Moses can be very odd. “Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then is master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.” (Exodus 21:1-6)

We finish this post with a quote from a preacher who does not believe our position because it is just way too complicated. He said: “One of the reasons I find your position untenable is that you have to encompass heaven and earth to come to your conclusions. I live by the principle; 'Anything that hard to prove can't be right'". Somehow, our brother finds his side of the issue simple and believable?

We have a solution for our preaching brother. We have been trying to prove that Matthew 5:31-32 and Matthew 19:9 are not for Christians. Let's drop this Jewish debate and just be done with it. Then we will concede that all our points are simply “moot points.” Then all the complexity that we must deal with in this Jewish debate will suddenly be gone. But we predict that won't happen. Sadly, we shall continue to be forced into this complicated Jewish discussion by those who desire to justify their marriages by using Matthew 19:9 and Matthew 5:31-32 as their justification.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Some Comments and Questions for Brother Battey

There will be an "Open Bible Study" where brother Malcolm Kniffen will present his position on "There is no-exception for divorce and remarriage in the gospel age" and then brother George Battey will present his position on "There is an exception for divorce and remarriage in the gospel age." It will be held at Seminole State College on Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. in the Jeff Johnston Fine Arts Center in Seminole, OK. Some of our friends have asked us to submit some questions for the “question and answer” period.

Some of brother Battey's positions are not very plausible. Such is the case in brother Battey's explanation of “The Case of Joseph and Mary?” in his PDF “Response to Malcolm Kniffen.” In “The Case of Joseph and Mary”, in Matthew 1:18-25, brother Battey avoids the obvious cause for divorce. The obvious cause is that she was “found with child.” This means that Joseph would naturally suspect that Mary was guilty of fornication during their betrothal period. While the Holy Ghost's role in Mary's pregnancy is important, brother Battey overemphasizes it to the point that he makes it the primary reason that Joseph wanted to divorce his wife. Brother Battey transforms Joseph's wanting to divorce Mary for fornication into Joseph's wanting to divorce Mary because he is afraid of the Holy Ghost conception. Why does brother Battey do this? We are introduced to a very novel reason for divorcing your Jewish wife. You want to divorce her because you are afraid of the Holy Ghost conception. We ask brother Battey: Is fear of the Holy Ghost conception a good reason for divorce?

Brother Battey very unconventionally states: “Notice the facts of this case: Mary was found to be 'with child of the Holy Spirit.' In other words, Joseph didn't just find out that Mary was pregnant. He found out she was pregnant with a 'child of the Holy Spirit.' Joseph doesn't want to make Mary a 'public example.' Why? Because the child she is carrying was 'of the Holy Spirit' and Joseph knew that. Why then was Joseph wanting to divorce Mary? Let the Bible speak: Matthew 1:20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.' What was the problem? Joseph was afraid. What's he afraid of? He's afraid to marry a woman who is having a child 'of the Holy Spirit.' You would be afraid to marry a woman like that too. (If you wouldn't be afraid, you ought to be!)”

We question brother Battey's “facts of this case.” We also question his very novel and erroneous interpretation. First, let us present the actual passages from the King James Version. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1:18-20) Brother Battey wants to “Let the Bible speak.” Therefore, we have done so, and we think it is obvious that the passages do not support his interpretation. We ask brother Battey: Have you really “Let the Bible speak” in this case?

Second, the statement “she was found with child of the Holy Ghost” does not mean that Joseph understood the reason Mary was found with child. The scriptures do not even imply that he understood this extraordinary event. It merely states the fact that “she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” Therefore, we ask brother Battey: Did Joseph really understand that Mary's pregnancy was “of the Holy Ghost”?

Third, due to “cause and effect” reasoning, fornication would be the normal “cause and effect” conclusion. Fornication was even the obvious criticism which the Pharisees cast at Jesus when Jesus accused them of being illegitimate. They responded: “We be not born of fornication.” (John 8:41) We think they meant “like you were.” We ask brother Battey: Didn't Joseph believe that Mary was pregnant because of fornication?

Fourth, we question brother Battey's facts because of the actions which Joseph was considering. Would Joseph have been weighing the various courses of action which could have been taken for fornication had he known Mary was pregnant by the Holy Ghost? Knowledge of such a conception would have removed all possible guilt. Joseph was a rational man as well as a just man. He would have immediately realized Mary was innocent based upon her miraculous conception. After all, the Holy Ghost doesn't go about doing evil. As a rational man, he contemplated all the possibilities which were available to a man who understood the scriptures. The possible options for fornication were “death by stoning” (or “public example”), private divorce and simply taking no legal action at all by accepting his betrothed as his wife. These were the three possibilities under the Law of Moses. Therefore, we ask brother Battey: Can't at least three options be considered when fornication is a factor under the Law of Moses? Why did Joseph consider taking one of these three options?

But brother Battey does not believe in more than one legal option for fornication under the Law of Moses. We suspect that this is why he has so much difficulty with the obvious facts of this particular case. Brother Battey clearly states the one and only option for fornication. We quote: “a man could not divorce an unfaithful spouse because all unfaithful spouses were to be executed.”

However, Joseph believed Mary was an unfaithful spouse. But, unlike brother Battey, Joseph did not decide to have Mary executed. Joseph decided for the private divorce option. This is exactly opposite to what brother Battey states was possible. But after a special revelation from the angel of the Lord, Joseph finally decided that he would keep his spouse. Who is right about these options, brother Battey or Joseph? We ask brother Battey: Didn't Joseph believe Mary was an unfaithful spouse when he decided to divorce her? Didn't the angel of the Lord come to convince Joseph that Mary was not an unfaithful spouse like he had supposed? Why did the angel of the Lord try to convince Joseph that Mary was not an unfaithful spouse if Joseph already knew about the Holy Ghost conception?

Brother Battey said brother Malcolm cannot refute that an unfaithful spouse must be executed. However, Joseph did. The angel of the Lord did. And Jesus also refuted brother Battey's idea that execution was always necessary for fornication. What about the woman taken in adultery by the Pharisees, brother Battey? Was she executed or not? She was not executed but Jesus saved her from an unlawful and unmerciful death at the hands of the Pharisees. The Pharisees thought execution was the only option. Would brother Battey agree with the Pharisees? From all appearances, it seems that he would. However, Jesus lawfully dismissed her accusers and told her to “go and sin no more.” We ask brother Battey, did Jesus violate the Law when he made this choice? Did Jesus violate brother Battey's absolute assertion that she must be executed? Why didn't Jesus have the woman taken in adultery stoned? See "More Correspondence Scenarios."

Fifth, the angel of the Lord informed Joseph that Mary was pregnant of the Holy Ghost after Joseph had already decided to divorce her. Brother Battey has obviously missed the timing of the events. “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1:20) Therefore, the angel of the Lord was trying to change Joseph's mind and stop him from divorcing Mary for fornication. The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph to show him that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Ghost. If the Holy Ghost conception was the primary reason Joseph was going to divorce Mary, then why would the angel of the Lord tell Joseph about the Holy Ghost conception after he decided to divorce Mary? Is brother Batteys' timing of the events correct?

Sixth, there is no indication that Joseph was actually fearful of the Holy Ghost conception. Brother Battey makes fear of the Holy Ghost conception the primary reason Joseph wanted to divorce Mary. He states: “What was the problem? Joseph was afraid. What's he afraid of? He's afraid to marry a woman who is having a child 'of the Holy Spirit.' You would be afraid to marry a woman like that too.” But fear of the Holy Ghost conception is not even given as a secondary reason for divorce in these passages. In fact, Holy Ghost conception is given as the primary reason that Joseph was not afraid to take his wife. We ask brother Battey: Didn't Joseph change his mind and decide not to divorce Mary instead of deciding to divorce Mary after the angel of the Lord told him not to be afraid? Was Joseph really afraid of the Holy Ghost conception?

Seventh, the idea that Mary was “highly favored” and to be feared by Joseph misses the point. What did Joseph fear? He feared that Mary was a sinner (not a highly favored woman).

Brother Battey has gotten himself into trouble in this case because he is trying to impose his erroneous conclusion upon the facts of this case. But instead of changing his erroneous conclusion, that a woman must always be executed for fornication, he has decided to change the facts of this case. Therefore, we ask: Is brother Battey trying to change the facts of “The Case of Joseph and Mary” to fit his conclusion? Is he trying to create a contradiction between Jesus and the facts of this case? Did Joseph actually have more options because he was afraid of Holy Ghost conception than he would have had if Mary had simply fornicated? How does the “public example” option actually fit in with this fear of the Holy Ghost? If fear of the Holy Ghost would not be an option, then why would Joseph, as a rational and just man, even consider it?

We have noticed that brother Battey likes contradictions (especially between Jesus and the Holy Scriptures.) On the other hand, we like correspondence between Jesus and the Holy Scriptures and we believe correspondence is absolutely necessary. We should be on our guard against preachers who are constantly contending for contradictions between Jesus and the Holy Scriptures. We ask brother Battey: Did Jesus contradict the Holy Scriptures or not? Did he engage in destructive teaching? What does it take to destroy the scriptures? Also, what are some of the “terrible implications” of contradicting or blaspheming the Holy Scriptures? See more on this at the "Waco Address."

As a prophet like Moses, brother Battey believes that Jesus had the right to contradict the scriptures. He quotes Deuteronomy 18:18-19, “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.”

Of course, Deuteronomy 18:18-19 does not say Jesus would contradict Moses during his earthly ministry. One very important thing which Jesus taught was that he had not come to “destroy the law.” (Matthew 5:17) However, brother Battey believes that Jesus could refute the Law. Furthermore, brother Battey believes that Jesus was contesting the Law when he used the formula in the Sermon on the Mount, “You have heard … but I say.” Brother Battey said that Jesus used the expression “You have heard” because the people were illiterate. However, Jesus and his brothers, James and Jude, were not illiterate. Furthermore, Jesus knew what had been emphasized in the “Oral Traditions” in the synagogue. That is why he used the expression “You have heard.” See our posts "Traditions of the Elders" and "More on Correspondence."

Brother Battey believes that what the Jews had “heard” in the synagogues from the Pharisees could be read almost verbatim in the scriptures. What they heard corresponded with the Holy Scriptures. But we noticed how brother Battey “Let the Bible speak” in “The Case of Joseph and Mary.” We do not consider brother Battey's account of Matthew 1:18-25 to be anything close to the scriptures. The Pharisees claimed the very same thing. But we do not consider their “Oral Traditions”, to always have corresponded with the scriptures. They put emphasis on the passages that was never intended. The Pharisees emphasized the scriptures about like brother Battey emphasized the scriptures. We ask brother Battey: Can it be proved that Jesus used the expression “You have heard” because the Jews were illiterate? Do we know the first century literacy level? Do we know the literacy level of the people Jesus addressed in the Sermon on the Mount? Also, is there any “misplaced emphasis” in what the Jews had heard in the synagogues among the Pharisees?

Did the “tradition of the elders” contradict the scriptures? (Matthew 15ff. and Mark 7ff.) Did Jesus condemn the Pharisees for transgressing the “commandment of God” with their traditions? If Jesus condemned the elders for transgressing the commandment of God with their traditions, then why didn't he condemn himself for contradicting the scriptures in the Sermon on the Mount with his teachings? Was Jesus a hypocrite?

Brother Battey does not seem to have much respect for extra-biblical history. We notice this implicit ridicule of extra-biblical history (probably the “Oral Traditions”) when brother Battey complements brother Malcolm. “He uses scripture.” It is a good thing Jesus criticized the Pharisees for their “Oral Traditions” which were extra-biblical. We have merely pointed this out. Jesus opposed many of the extra-biblical traditions of the Pharisees. We believe Jesus upheld the law and opposed some of their extra-biblical traditions. On the other hand, brother Battey believes Jesus opposed the law; and brother Battey equates the extra-biblical traditions of the Pharisees in the Sermon on the Mount with the law of Moses. Who is standing for the scriptures here? Brother Battey has Jesus at odds with the Holy Scriptures. Are the extra-biblical interpretations of the law equal to the law? Brother Battey will not mention the extra-biblical conflict between Shammai and Hillel. Does brother Battey desire to suppress a well-known Jewish debate?

Now we want to point out some opposition that we have to some of brother Battey's extra-biblical history. Brother Battey, where did the idea of the “Guilty Party” come from? We cannot find this idea in the Gospels. Brother Battey believes that the innocent party (party not guilty of fornication) could divorce the guilty party (party guilty of fornication) be they male or female. Brother Battey believes this so called right applies equally to all the parties. But it never says this in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Matthew 5:31-32 and Matthew 19:9. It always speaks about a man putting away his wife. It does say in Mark 10:12 “And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” We believe that Jesus said this because people like Herodias were putting away their husbands. For example, Herodias put away her uncle Philip which was contrary to the law. Some preachers seem to think this passage makes the “Christian” woman equal with the man and gives her the implied right to divorce her husband for fornication. Others seem to think this is an absolute prohibition given to Christians because Jesus said it “in the house.” In any case, no exception is implied for the woman. Were Jewish women equal to the man in matters of divorce?

Another contradiction that brother Battey likes to cite is between Deuteronomy 24:2 and Matthew 19:9 concerning the supposed right for the woman to remarry in Deuteronomy 24:2 (but not in Matthew 19:9). Brother Battey likes this supposed contradiction because it helps his position. The following table lists all the possible contradictions and correspondences between Matthew 19:9 and Deuteronomy 24:1-4 concerning the woman's supposed right to remarry or not.

Deuteronomy 24:2
Matthew 19:9
Contradiction or Correspondence
Some adherents we know about
Woman may marry again
Woman may not marry again
Ronny Wade,
George Battey
Woman may not marry again
Woman may marry again
None we know about personally
Woman may not marry again
Woman may not marry again
Clark Carlo,
Randy Deems,
Dwight Hendrickson
Woman may marry again
Woman may marry again
Malcolm Kniffen,
Ervin Waters

Some of us contend for possibility number 3. We have presented many reasons why we believe that Jesus did not use “destructive teaching.” Possibility 3 is consistent with our contention that Jesus always supported the Holy Scriptures. There is correspondence. Possibility 4 also supports correspondence.

Randy Deems introduced possibility 3 in a previous issue of the TVOTT. Some of us have believed in this possibility for a long time. We mentioned it in a previous post. We admit that it may be somewhat new, but it is not new to us. And it is not new to translators. For many years, we have known that different translations treat the presentation of the conditions and the consequences given in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 quite differently. The format of the conditions and the consequences is supplied by the translators.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 consists of compound condition(s) leading to conclusion(s) or consequence(s). This is often found in “case law.” Protasis (condition) and apodosis (consequence) are common terms applicable to “if/then” constructs found in “case law.” These conditions or consequences may or may not please God. A condition is sometimes described rather than condoned. Jesus admitted in Matthew 5:31-32 that innocent Jewish women were caused to “commit adultery.” God was not pleased with it. It was just an ugly fact that described the circumstances. Unconditional divorce, given in Jewish traditions, violated the Holy Scriptures. The Jewish men were guilty of the same adultery which they forced upon their Jewish wives.

In Deuteronomy 24:4, the Jewish man could not take his Jewish wife back “after she is defiled.” Why is she defiled? It is difficult to say. However, the fact remains that “she is defiled.” The rest is merely conjecture. At this point, we invoke the “safe argument” which brother Battey says is not safe. Questionable situations are not questionable to brother Battey. But the interpretation of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is questionable. However, we accept the interpretation of Jesus.

To support position 3 in the above table, and to prove the Kings James Version translators could have translated “halak” in Deuteronomy 24:2 in descriptive and conditional terms such as “and she go” instead of the misunderstood consequential and permissive terms such as “she may go”, we refer to Jeremiah 3:1. In that verse, the King James Version translators actually did translate the word “halak” as “and she go.” Note Jeremiah 3:1 in the King James Version: “They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord.” It is properly translated as a likely possibility and a condition instead of as a misunderstood permission and a consequence in Jeremiah 3:1. Is permission for the woman to remarry in Deuteronomy 24:2 the only possibility?

We take brother Randy's suggestion and cite Young's Literal Translation. There are others. “When a man doth take a wife, and hath married her, and it hath been, if she doth not find grace in his eyes (for he hath found in her nakedness of anything), and he hath written for her a writing of divorce, and given [it] into her hand, and sent her out of his house, and she hath gone out of his house, and hath gone and been another man's, and the latter man hath hated her, and written for her a writing of divorce, and given [it] into her hand, and sent her out of his house, or when the latter man dieth, who hath taken her to himself for a wife: Her former husband who sent her away is not able to turn back to take her to be to him for a wife, after that she hath become defiled; for an abomination it [is] before Jehovah, and thou dost not cause the land to sin which Jehovah thy God is giving to thee – an inheritance.'” (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) Notice that Young uses many compound conditions and then concludes with the ultimate consequence. All those compound conditions are not necessarily approved by God.