Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Old Testament's Revelation of Christ [Pt.3]

by Rudolph P. Boshoff

[Continued from Pts. 1 & 2]

II.c Jesus in Old Testament Typology

Patrick Fairbairn (1969:42-43) describes typology as the dramatic unity of Scripture by looking at Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament Christian faith foreshadowing God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.  John Walvoord (1969:63) adds to the fact that typology is concerned with (1) typical people; (2) typical events; (3) typical things; (4) typical institutions; and (5) typical ceremonies. Walvoord (1969:64) mentions five points to describe how Jesus fulfils Old Testament typology and we will reflect just on a few of these:

i. Typical People

Aaron – Aaron was a type that revealed the Christ in the function of His humanity and priestly work. Aaron was man and Christ was truly man acquainted with our human weakness to identifying with us and being our intercessor. As Aaron Christ would become the perfect mediator that would aid all humankind in their stance before the God of Israel. Even though Aarons extent of ministry was solely to the nation of Israel, Jesus in the full extent of His grace became the intercessor to all those who are His. The Book of Hebrews gives a clear indication that Aaron was a type of Christ. Aaron was appointed to a Sacred office as Christ to His Priesthood (Heb 5:4-6) and represented ministry in the earthly realm as Christ would be appointed to the heavenly (Heb 8:1-5). Aaron’s duty was to administer the old Mosaic covenant but Jesus would minister the new covenant sealing it in His blood (Heb 8:6). Aaron had to sacrifice as a daily institution but Jesus would offer sacrifice once and for all in His blood (Heb 7:27). 

Abel – Walvoord (1969:64) mentions as Abel was slayed for his righteous sacrifice because of the jealousy of Cain, so Christ was slain for the world, because of His righteousness proclaiming the new promise by the religious Jews. The reason God ultimately accepted the sacrifice of Abel was because he offered a sacrificed by faith (Heb 11:4) and so Christ’s sacrifice was accepted. Abel believed what was revealed concerning the sacrifices and offered a lamb as a blood sacrifice in contrast to Cain’s bloodless offering. Abel is therefore a type of Christ in life as a shepherd as well as his manner of sacrifice foreshadowing the necessity of His death. Jesus Christ is presented as the true Shepherd who made a blood sacrifice to God in obedience to the legal requirements of God.    

Adam – Walvoord (1969:64-65) says that both Adam and Christ entered into creation through a special act of God absolutely sinless acting on behalf of those whom God considered in them representatively (Rom.5:14). Adam is the head of the Old Creation but Christ of the new Creation. Adam was disobedient by Christ is contrast as the one who remained obedient to death (Rom 5:12-21). The very terms “first Adam” and “last Adam” are applied to Adam and Christ representing the first representative of God on earth and the future representative of God both in heaven and earth (1 Cor. 15:45-47). There is also a reference to Adam being the husband of Eve as a type of the bridegroom in relation to the Church as the bride. 

Benjamin – Benjamin foreshadowed in his two names, two aspects of the person of Jesus Christ in that He would suffer and ultimately be raised to glory. Benjamin’s mother Rachel with her dying breath named her newborn son ‘Ben-oni’, meaning “son of my sorrow.” Jacob, however, named him Benjamin, meaning “son of my right hand.” As Ben-oni, Jesus Christ is depicted as a son of sorrow to Mary (Luke 2:35) and would be subjected to suffering and ultimate death. As Benjamin, Jesus Christ would be “the Son of my right hand” to God the Father (Heb.1). Benjamin was also victorious as a warrior tribe and so Jesus would be victorious overcoming sin and spiritual death for us (Walvoord 1969:65). 

David – David is most commonly recognized as a type of Jesus Christ. David is depicted as first a shepherd and then King. David was called by God and was rejected by his brethren having to face danger and threat of death by the then anointed King. In David’s exile, he took a gentile wife and later ruled over Israel in complete sovereignty and power. Jesus Christ is depicted as the great shepherd of the sheep before ascending to the throne as the Messianic King. Jesus was also called by God but rejected by the Jewish religious system and brethren, facing danger and death, because of the claims he made. Jesus also did not come just for the lost sheep of Israel but ultimately brought all those who were lost in even the gentile world unto Himself subjugating them to His rule and authority as King (Walvoord 1969:65). 

Isaac – Walvoord (1969:65) mentions that Isaac is regarded as a type of the Church which composes the spiritual children of Abraham (Gal.4:28) which becomes new creatures with new natures as a result of the working of the Holy Spirit of God being redeemed from the old sinful nature [Ishmael] (Gal 4:29). Both Christ and Isaac have miraculous births anticipated in advance being the ‘only begotten’ (John 3:16, Heb 11:17). The Sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22 foreshadows the promise of a lamb, Jesus Christ, in which He was our substitute for our sins. Genesis 24 also depicts a type of prophetic picture of the Holy Spirit securing a bride for Christ relating to all the details of the story of Isaac and Rebekah. 

Joseph – Joseph’s life is paralleled as a type in numerous instances of Christ’s work and ministry, and his life is seen as one of the most compelling examples of this fact from the Old Testament. Both Jesus and Joseph were born because of special interventions from God (Gen 30:22-24, Luke 1:35). Both Jesus and Joseph were dearly loved by their fathers but hated by their brethren (Gen 37:3-4, Matt 3:17, John 3:35, 15:24-25). Both Jesus and Joseph were rejected as rulers over their brethren and robbed of their robes, conspired against and thrown in a pit of death (Gen 37:8, 18, 23; Matt 21:37-39, 26:3-4, 27:35-37; John 15:24-25. Both were sold for silver and became servants which was condemned even though they were innocent (Gen 39:4, 11-12, Phil 2:7, Isa 53:9, Matt 27:19, 24). Both Jesus and Joseph were raised from humiliation to exaltation by God, and in their exaltation, even the gentiles were blessed (Gen 41:1-45, Acts 15:14. Rom 11:11-12, Eph 5:25-32). Both finally receive recognition as savior and redeemer [Christ in the future] (Gen 45:1-15, Rom 11:1-27) being elevated to a place of honor and safety (Gen 45:16-18; Isa 65:17-25) (Walvoord1969:66-67). 

Joshua – Joshua means “Jehovah saves” and is the equivalent of the Greek name ‘Jesus’. Joshua as a type signifies Christ as being a successor to Moses, Christ succeeds both Moses and the Law (Joh.1:17, Rom.8:2-4, Heb.7:18-19, Gal.3:23-25). Jesus Christ was victorious as Joshua in an area where Moses had failed (Rom.8:3-4) and both Christ and Joshua interceded for their own before God (Josh.7:5-9, Luke 22:32, 1 John 2:1). Joshua distributed and allotted land to his people and Jesus Christ allotted gifts and rewards to His Church (Josh.13, Eph 4:11-13) as the ruler of His Church just as Joshua was the ruler of Israel (Walvoord 1969:67). 

Kinsman-redeemer – Christ is foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament as our Kinsman-redeemer. He had to be a relative related to the person or inheritance to be redeemed (Lev 25:48-49, Ruth 3:12-13, Heb 2:14-15). Jesus fulfilled this by becoming a man having the sins of the world imputed to him where redemption was accomplished by a payment of the price (Lev 25:27; Rom.3:24-26; 1 Pet 1:18-19; Gal 3:13). Walvoord adds that the entire order of redemption is a prophetic picture of Jesus Christ that would come and redeem the world through the sacrifice of Himself (Walvoord 1969:67). 

Melchizedek – Walvoord (1969:68) mentions that Melchizedek (Gen.14) was a King who was blessed by Abraham with a tithe after his conquest with the Kings. So Christ is also a priest forever like Melchizedek (Ps.110:4, Heb 5-7) and he will also be the King of righteousness as Melchizedek’s name foretold bringing forth bread and wine as a sign of the new covenant of his blood.    

Moses – Moses predicts that one will come like unto himself (Deut.18:15-19) where he foreshadows the reality of Christ. Like Moses Christ will be a redeemer and saviours (Exo.3:7-10, Acts 7:25) rejected by their brethren (Exo 2:11-15, John 1:11) during a period where they would be separated and redeem a quality people (Exo 2:16-21, 2 Cor 11:2, Eph 5:25-32). Both Moses and Jesus are received by Israel at their second coming (Exo 4:19-31, Rom.11:24-26) being both priests and advocates (Exo 32:31-35, 1 John 2:1-2) prophets (Num 34:1-2, John 12:29) intercessors (exo.4:19-31, Heb.7:25) and rulers and Kings (Deut 33:4-5; John 1:49). Like Christ, Moses died before the Israelites could enter the Promised Land. Now let us turn our attention to events that would foreshadow the coming of Jesus Christ.

ii. Typical Events

Clothing of Adam and Eve – In Genesis 3 we see the devastating effect of the Sin of Adam, as a result both Adam and Eve realize their nakedness and god clothes them (v/21). God clothes them because of their physical needs but there is also a deeper reality in that God was foreshadowing a promise that he would supply them complete garments of righteousness that would be wrought through the death of His provisional lamb (v/15-16) as seen throughout scripture (Walvoord 1969:69). 

Preservation in the Ark – An extraordinary type is depicted in the judgement of God of humanity in a flood (Gen.6-8). Noah and his family are commanded to build an Ark as a type of refuge to the coming tides that would allow them to escape the coming wrath and destruction of God. Similarly, the arrival of the person of Christ is a sign of judgement on the wicked but secures the place of God’s people in Christ (2 Pet 2:5, 7) (Walvoord 1969:70).   

Deliverance from Egypt – Walvoord (1996:70) recognize that the entire story of Israel being delivered from Egypt being brought to the Promised Land is a type of what Christ achieved for every single believer in his or her salvation. All the elements of deliverance, the plagues, and even the Passover to the crossing of the Red Sea are connected to what Jesus achieved in and through the Cross. Israel is delivered through the same waters that killed the Egyptians; similarly, Christ suffers the death that brings forth our salvation. In the wilderness Israel receives manna from heaven (Exo.16:4) which foreshadows Jesus being the bread of life while the water from the rock speaks of Christ smitten so we can have eternal life (Exo.17:6).   

Entrance into the Promised Land – Israel’s crossing the Jordan with its piled up waters into the Promised Land is a shadow of the death of Christ as a means of victory. The Angel of the Lord, which is Christ in His preincarnate form, went before the Israelites and by His power; they achieve victory in their conquest (Walvoord 1969:70-71). 

iii. Typical Things

Old Testament Sacrifices – The Sacrifices of the Old Testament are clear types of what Christ would suffer as the coming Messiah (Walvoord 1969:71-72). Just to mention a few examples; Rosen (2006:32-33) indicates that the Passover lamb was to be one without blemish and we know that the New Testament text reveals the reality that Jesus was perfect and without blemish (Deut 15:21, Isa 53:7; 2 Cor.5:21, Gal.2:20, 1 Pet.1:19-20). The Passover lamb was marked for death and Christ was marked for death (Isa 53:7, 1 Pet.19-20). It was also ordained that none of the Passover lambs bones was to be broken (Exo 12:3, 5) and we recognize that none of Jesus Christ’s bones were broken (John19:32-33). Israel was instructed to consume the lamb with bitter herbs (Exo12:8) because bitterness speaks of mourning (Zech 12:10) of the firstborns that was slayed in Egypt (Exo 12). The blood of the lamb had to be painted on the doorposts and lintels (v.7) as it resembles the reality of the cross Jesus would die on.     

The Tabernacle – Louis Talbot (1942:11-12) mentions that the tabernacle was a typical presentation revealing a spiritual reality designed by the God of Israel to provide a temporary place of worship for the children of Israel in their wanderings prefiguring the person and work of Jesus Christ. The tabernacle included the service of the high priest and his sons where Jesus Christ is our faithful high priest and his believers are priests. The court and the gate prefigure Christ being the way to the Holy God and the tent of the congregation represents Him dwelling in the midst of His people. The brazen altar foreshadows the cross and the offerings upon the altar Christ as our sacrifice and the laver of brass represent Christ as our cleanser. The golden candlestick shows Christ to be the light and the table of shewbread reveals Him as the bread of life. The golden altar of incense portrays Christ as our advocate with the Father and the Ark of the Covenant and the mercy seat shows Christ as our God at the throne of grace. The Day of Atonement also reveals the cross and Christ returning into His glory. The Shekinah Glory upon the finished tabernacle reveals the favor of God on the temple and foreshadows the presence of God within the temple and Christ.

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Old Testament's Revelation of Christ [Pt.2]

by Rudolph P. Boshoff

§ II. A Review of Christian Scholarship 
on the Person of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament

II.a Introduction

In this section, I will show what prominent Christian Scholars believe about the person of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Old Testament. Norman Geisler (2002:7) emphatically states that Christ is the thematic unity of the whole of Scripture and revelation. Even though this section will focus solely on how  Christian Scholars evaluate the reality of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament, we recognize that Jesus claims unambiguously that He is the central message of the whole sweep of the Old Testament (Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39; Hebrews 10:7; Matthew 5:17). This is the central focus that preoccupies these scholars and they look at language, imagery, categories, and the text to answer these questions surrounding prophecy, typology, and Theophany.    

II.b Defining Major Scholarly Views: 
Jesus as Promised Messiah in Old Testament Prophecy

i.“Jesus as the coming Messiah”- Richard N. Longenecker (2001:7-8) points to the earliest Jewish Christian community was convinced of the fact that Jesus Christ was the long expected Jewish Messiah. It is important to note that this was a political and nationalistic expectation where Jesus would have been the coming redeemer of the nation of Israel that would rival and ultimately overthrow the then current political system of Rome. There was therefore a prevailing eschatological expectation that was embedded in the Jewish expectation in where this Messianic figure would ultimately inaugurate the final age and be the deliverer and King for God’s people as the Anointed One (Dan.9:25-26a). Haasbroek (2004:37-38) mentions that this Messianic King’s foundational task would be to restore what Adam lost and He would ultimately bring back creation and God’s people to their intended glory. The Messiah is therefore an actual individual that would be raised by God to a place of pre-eminence with the task and vocation to accomplish this task (Isa.53:4; Luke 2:11). Haasbroek (2004:39-40) points to that fact that Jesus was recognized by His own disciples to be this Messianic figure and the ultimate fulfillment of Gods promise (Matt.16:16; Mark 8:27-31; Joh. 1:41, 11:27). 

ii. “The Messiah as the preexistent One” - Aquila H.I. Lee stipulates another dimension that is important to our understanding of the Jewish Messiah (2005:100-102). She mentions that that coming Messiah was preexistent. Now this might seem like a foreign idea to contemporary Judaism and the current expectation of the Messiah, but she shows emphatically that there was a common understanding for this to be a reality. Even though some scholars (Dunn 1992:72) hold that there was no conception of a preexistent Messiah prior to the Similitudes of Enoch, Lee notices that the Messianic King was seen as a manifestation and embodiment of a Spirit sent by God. William Horbury (1998:108) urges that the descriptions of this Jewish Messiah were not incompatible with his humanity or position as king and that the portrayals consistently revealed in the Old Testament Scriptures shows the Messiah amongst the ancient Jews as preexistent (Isa.9:5, Mic.5:1). He then (Horbury 1998:169-191) infers from a number of texts from the Septuagint (nl. Pentateuch, Prophets, and the Psalms) that the Messiah was preexistent. He mentions that the Messiah was (a) light: Isaiah 9:1, 5; (b) a divinely sent Spirit: Amos 4:13; Lamentations 4:20; (c) had an angelic character, star: Numbers 24:17, Isaiah 11:1-2; (d) was endowed with the title ‘anotle’: Zacharias 6:12; and was in existence prior to the creation of heavenly bodies: Psalm 72:5, 17; Psalm 110:3).   

iii. “The Messiah as Divine regent” - The Messiah was not only held to be the eschatological fulfilment of the Jews or preexistent in early Jewish thought, but the expectation was also that He would be ultimately divine. James H. Charlesworth (1988:132) shows that Jesus refers to God as ‘Abba’, which is deduced from the Aramaic noun, “The Father” (3 Macc.6:3, 8). Jesus implicitly announce that he is not just referring to God as ‘ābînû’ (m.Yom 8.9), which would have been a generic reference to God as the One ordering all of Creation, but, Jesus alludes to God as the actual base of His own self-identity. Even though rare in ancient Judaism, Jesus Christ hyphenates a transcendent quality of Sonship that implicitly reveals the true nature of Him as the expected Messiah. Charlesworth wants us to notice that it is important to note that Jesus did not proclaim ‘Himself’ but rather calls attention to the dawning of God’s ultimate rule and we should be cautious to infer from the Gospels that it readily seeks to identify Jesus as god explicitly in His own self-understanding (1998:135). This is not a point I agree with that we will look at again in later in this paper where I will show that even though the authors had a primary concern to show how Jesus fulfilled His demanded function, he was still revealed as divine. The gospels seek to describe a functional revelation of Christ as well as an ontological revelation of Jesus Christ.           

iv. “The Messiah as the Only King” - Another aspect that is important is that the Old Testament depicts God to be the Only King and desires universal divine rulership (Psa.145:10-13; cf. 93; 96; 97; Isa.33:22, 52:7). Prolific scholar N.T. Wright (1992:302-307) mentions that there is only One King over all of Creation and that is Yahweh our God (hegēmon depotes). Even though there are kings that are functioning on earth, the kingdom of God, historically and theologically considered, is essential to Israel expectation in their hope that Israel’s god is the only King. 

The idea of Israel’s God becoming King in the unfolding historical expectation and stipulated traditions is seen manifest in the coming of the Messiah (Wright 1992:307-309). God’s kingdom is fully revealed in the coming of the Messiah inaugurating the Kingdom rule (Psa.110, Isa.9:6) and we clearly notice this is the exact reality of the coming of Jesus Christ in the New Testament (Matt.1:23, cf. Isa.7:14). The coming of Jesus Christ is also the eschatological fulfillment of Israel’s messianic hope and expectations but more so, Gods coming to His people (Wright 1992:310). Richard Bauckham (2008:109) affirms Wright’s point in that early Jewish Israel understood the uniqueness of God to be both the only sovereign Ruler of all things but also the only Creator of all things. In early Christology the Messiah is seated on the divine throne itself exercising divine sovereignty over all of the cosmos (2008:21-22) participating in the unique activity of creation (2008:26).   

v. “The Messiah as the coming Lord” - Stemming from the above-mentioned perspective of Yahweh returning to earth Michael F. Bird (2014:52) writes that Jesus without a doubt knew Himself to be divine. He adds that Jesus as Messiah was conscious that in him the God of Israel was finally returning to Zion to renew the covenant and to fulfill the promise Yahweh made to Israel about a new Exodus. The Isaianic declarations emphatically states that Yahweh will return and rule in Zion to judge Israel’s enemies and to dwell amongst His people (Isa.40:3, 52:7-10).  

Bird (2014:55) shows that these motifs are not isolated speculations but also evident in other prophetic books that exemplify the end of Israel’s exile entering a new Exodus where Yahweh will return to Zion to judge Israel’s enemies and dwell with His people (Ezek.34:7-16, 22-24). Jesus fulfills in all these expectations and even believes within Himself that He is finally Yahweh returning to Zion and scriptures like Luke 19 in the New Testament affirms that Jesus as Messiah (Luk19:38, cf. Psa.118:26) is Yahweh returning to Zion (Bird 2014:57). 

We will next look at Old Testament typology and the reality of Christ revealed by it.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Word of God Speak: A Response to Professor Bobby Killmon

Bobby Killmon is the Dean of Biblical Studies at Indiana Bible College, a Oneness Pentecostal institution. Killmon wrote a blog post entitled John 1 Is Not a Separate Person of a Trinity wherein he has sought to debunk the notion that “the Word/Logos in John 1 is not a separate person of a trinity.” I was pleased to find this article, and I assumed that Mr. Killmon, a professor of biblical studies, would provide good interaction with the biblical text. However, upon examination, I noticed that this article affords almost no interaction with the prologue of the fourth gospel and merely rehearses the well-trodden arguments of Oneness Pentecostals and other theological unitarians. 

Killmon begins his article by asking, 
“Should we use 2nd-4th century creeds and philosophical developments are [sic] how they understood the ‘Word’ in Jn. 1?”
He answered, 
“In order to do this we must dismiss the entire OT usage of the term word and all material outside of Scripture used by Jews of the time.” 
Killmon has implied that the manner in which trinitarian Christians arrive at their understanding of the λόγος is by merely parroting the creeds and some ambiguous “philosophical developments.” This notion, however, is negated by a vast body of exegetical literature that has been produced by Christians for nearly two thousand years. The means by which we should understand John’s Word is an examination of what John actually wrote. Only then, after apprehending what the apostle has said, can we then move on to the analogy of Scripture. Ironically, however, Killmon never interacts with the prologue. 

Killmon then went on to appeal to the utilization of the term “Word” as it appears in the OT:
Numbers 22:38 says, “…the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.” Jer. 23:9 says, “…because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.” These references are clearly about the utterances of the prophet spoken by divine inspiration. Even though this “word” of the Lord is spoken of as independent of God, no one can seriously claim these show a second person. This is being readily admitted today by many non-Oneness scholars, such as noted Cambridge scholar James Dunn. Regarding passages that seem to show the Word being independent of God, Dunn states, “…that is more an accident of idiom than anything else.” He further argues, “But for the prophet the word he spoke under inspiration was no independent entity divorced from Yahweh.” Even Rudolf Bultmann says, “God’s word is God…” Dunn affirms this too stating, “God’s word is God’s act … the manifestation of his power, the real manifestation of God.”
Killmon should feel acute cognitive dissonance in his appeal to both Bultmann and Dunn. Neither of these men shares virtually any of the theological commitments possessed by Killmon, including any orthodox understanding of biblical inspiration or inerrancy. In any case, I suppose Killmon believes ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ 

One would think that learning what John means when he wrote about the λόγος would require that one examine what he actually wrote. Instead, Killmon appeals to a handful of texts in the OT, which are essentially irrelevant to what John wrote. Killmon has essentially argued that since the term “word” is used in the OT to refer to something impersonal (e.g., a prophetic word), John cannot, therefore, intend to identify the Word as a person distinct from God. This sort of argumentation is surprising from a “Dean of Biblical Studies.” Taking the use of a term as it is found in two texts within the OT and imposing that definition upon another text without actually considering what that author wrote is both illogical and eisegetical by definition. Using Killmon’s method, one could take the term άρτος (“bread”) as it occurs in the Septuagint and insist that Jesus Christ is made up of flour, water, and yeast.1 Such an interpretive method is absurd and commits essentially the same error that Killmon accuses trinitarians of committing.

There are multiple pericopes within the OT which describe a personal Word. For example, Genesis 15:1 states that “the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision.” Abram calls this Word, “O Lord God” in v. 2. If the Word is identified as “Lord God” and appears and speaks with Abram, the Word is necessarily personal. In 1 Samuel 3 we are told that the Word of the Lord was revealed to Samuel and “stood” by him (vv. 7, 10). The chapter concludes in v. 21 with, “And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.” This Word is distinguished from God (v. 21), speaks of God in the third person (v. 13) and is said to have “appeared” and “stood” with Samuel. Clearly, this Word is personal. 

While there are many other OT texts which one could marshal in order to further disprove Killmon’s narrow definition of either dabar or logos, I will now turn to his assertion regarding second temple Jewish literature. Killmon continued, 
Scripture speaks clearly in Psalms and the Prophets of the Word being God Himself acting in creation, in judgment, and in salvation. This is simply OT language used in its right and typical function. Even G. F. Moore says, “It is an error to see in such personifications an approach to personalization. Nowhere either in the Bible or in extra-canonical literature of the Jews is the word of God a personal agent or on the way to come such.” Catch that. This isn’t about PERSONS! Further, NOWHERE in any Jewish literature of the time does saying it’s persons exit. Dunn further admits that, “…a considerable consensus has been achieved by the majority of contemporary scholars would agree that the principal background against which the Logos prologue (Jn. 1) must be set is the OT itself…” The OT, not later doctrinal development. We are against this interpretation. We are anti-trinitarian in this sense.
Not only does the OT describe the Word in personal terms, there is a vast body of second temple literature which does as well. The Aramaic Targums include many passages which identify the Memra (i.e., the “Word”) in many of the same ways the NT identifies the Son of God. Targum Jerusalem translates Genesis 1:26, “And the Word of the Lord created man in his likeness…” In the same way that John identifies the Word as the one through whom are things were made (1:3), Targum Onkelos states, “And the world was made by his Word.” Whereas John associates the Word with light in John 1:4, Targum Neofiti states, “The earth was void and empty and darkness was spread over the face of the abyss, and the Word of the Lord was the light.” The Targums interpret Genesis 15:1 similarly: “Fear not…My Word will be your shield.” 

Some interpreters have argued that the Targumic Memra is merely a linguistic device that was utilized in order to distance God by means of circumlocution.2 The difficulty with this view is that the Targums translate the OT Angel of the Lord, who is both identified as Yahweh and is clearly portrayed as personally distinct from God,3 as the Word. Thus, if one asserts that the Angel of Yahweh is personal, then necessarily, the Targumic Memra must be similarly understood.4

Killmon concluded,
As one man poignantly said, “Right readers must read rightly.” Necessarily then, we must first approach the Bible correctly as the inerrant Word of God. Then, we must read rightly or interpret it correctly by not presupposing our own ideas and reading them into the Scripture. The “Word of the Lord” must be defined by the OT usage, not a post-New Testament invention. The only way one can see a trinity in the reference to the “Word” in John 1 is to presuppose it, ignore the OT usage, interpret it a new way, and disregard the first century usage as well. This is telling “eis-egesis” (reading your meaning into the Bible) not true exegesis (drawing the meaning out of the text’s intention). Which approach is Christian? Which treats Scripture as the inerrant Word of God? The way we use Scripture tells on us. I want to not only say I love and revere His Word, but in my practice demonstrate this is true.
In the final analysis, Killmon commits the very sin that he accuses orthodox Christians of committing, namely, he imports an interpretation upon a text from elsewhere and forces that text to fit his pre-conceived paradigm. His assessment of the use of “word” in the OT and in second temple literature is shallow and inaccurate, betraying even a cursory understanding. Killmon never provided an exegesis of the relevant text and instead appealed to two other texts whose relevance consists only in the fact that the term “word” appeared in them. That isn’t exegesis. Rather, such an approach is, ironically, intensely eisegetical.

1 John 6:48.
2 Martin McNamara, Targum and the Testament Revisited, 2nd Ed., (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 162.
3 Gen. 16:7-13; Zec. 1:12; 3:1-2.
4 For a more in-depth consideration of the Targums and for an exegesis of John’s prologue see Michael R. Burgos ed., Our God is Triune: Essays in Biblical Theology (Torrington, CT: Church Militant Pub., 2018), 106-42.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Old Testament's Revelation of Christ [Pt. I]

by Rudolph P. Boshoff

§ I. Introduction

I.a Background

There has been an increasing trend in Christian Scholarship that the Old Testament Scriptures is not a central revelation of Jesus Christ or His divinity. Marcus Borg (2000) evidently finds Jesus to be a sage but not a divine and Bart D. Ehrman (Bird 2014) speculates what it meant when we spoke of Jesus as being Lord over all.

Some evangelical Scholars have been of the opinion that the very central focus of the Old Testament was essentially Jesus Christ. In this study I will show that Scholars affirm how Jesus was significant to the Old Testament context and then press on to look at two key Scriptures that would affirm that very fact. In conclusion, we will show that the story of God was indeed the story of the revealed Jesus Christ.

I.b Objective and Key Questions

The primary objective in this paper will be to explore the Old Testament references to Jesus Christ. I shall attempt to answer three key questions:
1. What have theologians, both historical and contemporary, taught about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament? 
2. What does Scripture teach about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament? 
3. Based on the evidence of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament, who is he?
I.c Thesis Statement

The Old Testament reveals a picture of Christ that shows him to be the Messiah, Angel of the Lord and ultimately divine.  

I.d Methodology

The introductory part of the paper will (a) state the research problem, (b) highlight three key questions, (c) define vital terms and (d) conclude with a tentative practical supposition of the antecedent clause of the thesis statement.
Step 1: This step will describe current views within Christianity about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament including important features that will develop the basis of my investigation. Each view will utilize the works of significant scholars like Bates (2015), Bauckham (2008), Bird (2014), Borland (1978), Charlesworth (1988), Geisler (2002), Haasbroek (2004), Horbury (1998), Lee (2005), Loader (2001), Longenecker (2001), Rosen (2006), Robinson (2013), Stephen (1998), Talbot (1942), Walvoord (1969), Wright (1992). I will show what each scholar’s perspective stipulates in Old Testament prophecy, typology, and Theophany concerning the preincarnate Christ. 
Step 2: This step will focus on the Biblical teaching concerning Jesus Christ as revealed in the Old Testament with the focus on the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13-14) and Jesus as Immanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:14). For the book of Daniel, I will use Bauckham (2008), Gowan (2011), Hammer (1976), Horbury (1998), Longenecker (2001) and Macleod (1998). For the Book of Isaiah I will use Bruce (2008), Nägelsbach (1980), and Wiersbe (2002).
Step 3: This step will conceptualise a theology extracted from the key ideas and applicable passages in Scripture by showing how the New Testament authors found what they believed about Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures. I will then also construct a Biblical perspective that will show that Jesus Christ was more than just the coming Messiah of the Old Testament was and that the story of God is the story of Christ.
In conclusion, I will show that Christian scholars have positively affirmed the deity of Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures and that we can show biblically with absolute assurance who the God of the Bible is in the Old Testament because of the revelation of Jesus Christ.

[Continued in Pt. 2]

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Jesus is Not the Father Redux: A Response to Clayton Killion

I linked to an article entitled A Look at Three Passages Oneness Pentecostals Use to DemonstrateJesus is the Father in the “Worldwide Godhead Symposium” debate group. Clayton Killion, a Oneness Pentecostal, took the time to respond at his Lectionary blog. While I appreciate his willingness to write a cordial response, his effort divulges significant logical, exegetical, and theological problems.

The purpose of my article was, as the title states, to address the main texts Oneness Pentecostals appeal to in order to justify their claim that Jesus is the Father in human flesh. While other aspects of Oneness theology and Christology depend on other texts (I address dozens in my book, Against Oneness Pentecostalism: An Exegetical-Theological Critique, 2nd Edition), these three texts are the main passages marshaled specifically to prove Jesus is the Father. Not recognizing this, Killion began his article with a mischaracterization: “According to Burgos, we Oneness Pentecostals appeal to only a handful of texts—no more than six—in order to build our Christology.” This statement is a straw-man as I clearly do not believe (nor have I ever written or said) that Oneness Pentecostals build their entire Christology on a handful of texts. Rather, my contention in the article was that the three texts in question are those predominantly utilized in order to demonstrate that Jesus is the Father. Killion went on to write,
Anyone who has read David Bernard, Nathaniel Wilson, David Norris, Daniel Segraves, Jerry Lynn Hayes, or Jason Weatherly can attest to this fact. I find Burgos’ above statement astounding—given that he has written multiple books in response to our doctrine, engaging all of the aforementioned authors.
The only thing astounding here is the mischaracterization he put forth from the outset. Moreover, unless Killion believes that the statement “Jesus is the Father” is a comprehensive summary of Oneness Christology en toto, there is absolutely no basis for his mischaracterization of my article.

Killion wrote, “Every Biblical passage that you have studied with respect to trinitarianism, we have studied vis-à-vis Oneness dogma. We build our teaching on the whole of scripture—just as you claim to do.” Really? Exactly where is the Oneness Pentecostal systematic theology? You can find a systematics text that reflects what I believe in virtually every Christian bookstore. Precisely where is this comprehensive Oneness Pentecostal theology found? Even those Oneness works which attempt to address more than the doctrine of God don’t even come close to attempting a systematic treatment of biblical doctrine. I assert the reason why there is no Oneness systematics text, is because Oneness Pentecostalism is incapable of theological consistency as it is built upon the misguided use of prooftexts.1

Killion then addressed what he characterized as my “exegesis of Isaiah 9:6.” This is confusing since I didn’t provide an exegesis of this text in the relevant article. Rather, I appealed to pp. 98-101 in my book which does provide an exegesis. What I did provide was a few sentences which explain why I don’t believe the phrase “father of eternity” to mean that Jesus is God the Father. If Killion does desire to interact with my exegesis, it has been in print for three years. He responded to my summary by asserting that I have adopted the “EXACTLY [sic] the same logic that Jehovah’s Witnesses use in order to prove Jesus is not God at all.” Essentially, Killion has argued that in the same way that the Watchtower explains away Immanuel on sematic grounds, I too have explained away the phrase “father of eternity.” He concluded, “If Jesus’ name Abiad/”Everlasting Father” does not literally mean he is the Father, then Jesus’ name Immanuel/”God with us” does not literally mean that he was God.” This statement, however, divulges a logical fallacy that is at the root of Killion’s quant claim. First, the claim that I am engaging in the same hermeneutic as a suborndinationist cult is mildly amusing and totally unfounded.2 His argument erroneously presupposes the univocality of the words "God" and "father." Second, it is a bald assumption to suppose that “father of eternity” necessarily identifies Jesus as God the Father. Without any justification or rationale whatsoever, Killion equates the phrase “father of eternity” with God the Father. Third, I do believe with abject consistency that both “father of eternity” and “Immanuel” are titles of deity. However, my contention is that within the context of a title, the “father of…” construction is a Semitic linguistic convention that is designed to characterize a subject and not identify a subject. Thus, to call the Son of God “father of eternity” is to attribute eternality to him, and not to characterize him as God the Father.

Monday, October 7, 2019

What is the Bible?: The Patristic Doctrine of Scripture [Review]

What is the Bible?: The Patristic Doctrine of Scripture.ed. Matthew Baker & Mark Mourachian.(Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2016), 224 pp.

With the contemporary shift away from modernist/Enlightenment-influenced exegetical and hermeneutical practices,1 contemporary theologians are revisiting the works of their theological forebears. Studies on the exegetical and hermeneutical practices of the church fathers are numerous, but a definitive look at patristic bibliology is lacking. What is the Bible?: The Patristic Doctrine of Scripture aims to supply substantive information in this area by carefully examining the writings of several eastern patristic authors. What is more, however, the book aims to show the effect that these writers have had on recent theologians. Thus, the book is divided into two parts. The first covers “Approaches [to Bibliology] in the Christ East” dealing with the doctrine of Scripture as it appears in the writings of Origen of Alexandria, the so-called “Desert Fathers,” Ephraim the Syrian, John Chrysostom, Saint Maximus the Confessor, and others. The second part covers “Modern Approaches [to Bibliology] Inspired by the Fathers,” detailing the work of George Florovsky, Justin Popovic, and T.F. Torrance, ending with a brief history of modern biblical criticism.

One of the things that is helpful about this book is the several needed corrections it brings to discussions about the interpretive methods of Origen and Chrysostom, men who are typically set in diametrical opposition to one another as regards their understanding of the nature of Scripture and how it is to be read. Origen is typically painted as a wild-eyed allegorist who has no regard for grammatical-historical exegesis, who sees the Scripture as putty to be made into whatever the interpreter desires. However, this is not the case. Origen did engage in fanciful exegesis, if allegorical interpretation of his kind can justly be called exegesis, but this was only part of his interpretive process. For Origen, the Scriptures were tripartite, mirroring the composition of man and, by implication, the Trinity, being comprised of a body (the grammatical-historical meaning of the text), soul (the ethical/moral meaning of the text), and spirit (the anagogical meaning of the text). Just as the body and the soul and the spirit of man are intended to be in harmony with one another, so too the body and soul and spirit of the Scriptures are to be in harmony with one another.

Friday, September 27, 2019

On the Logic of the Biblical Counseling Movement & the Question of Accreditation

by Michael R. Burgos

A Holy Insurgency

An insurgent movement seeks to invalidate and dethrone an established occupier. Insurgencies are almost always grassroots; a rebellion by everyday visionaries against systemic wrongdoing. From its inception, the biblical counseling movement has been a theological insurgency. It has sought to restore the church’s understanding of counseling as an intrinsically theological task for which the Scripture is sufficient. The biblical counseling movement has simultaneously sought to refute the psychotherapeutic establishment and integrationist counterinsurgency.

Key to the success of any insurgent movement is the establishment of new institutions which serve to herald and pursue the cause. In the case of the biblical counseling movement, many new institutions have been formed. These include accrediting bodies which have set ethical and theological standards for the practice of biblical counseling. Chief among these accrediting institutions is The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). By design, the certification ACBC offers is not recognized by any governmental agency. There is no sanctioning body which has granted validity to ACBC. Rather, ACBC looks to local churches and other Christian ministries to recognize its credibility. In so doing, ACBC has intentionally bucked the bureaucratic expectations of our culture. It has, upon the basis of the Lordship of King Jesus, set up shop on biblical terms. Whereas Licensed Professional Counselors and Licensed Mental Health Counselors depend upon the state to approve their labor, ACBC and the biblical counseling movement has sought the approval of heaven.

The logic of ACBC (or any other biblical counseling certifying body) as an institution is clear. ACBC has effectively repudiated secular counseling accreditation as even relevant.1 Just as the Lord’s Supper and the public exposition of the Word of God resides within the jurisdiction of the local church, so does the cure of souls. There is neither a need nor a basis for governmental oversight or approval in these matters. Rather, the authority for ministry is bound up in the charter given by Christ to his people.2

Honor the Lord Your FAFSA…

Inasmuch as counseling is the prerogative of God’s people, so is theological education and ministerial training. In our day, most who desire to enter into vocational ministry first attend either a Bible college or seminary (or both). This formalized training comes at a price, as the average MDiv costs upwards of $45,000.3 Fortunately, most conservative seminaries accept federal student loans such that seminarians may become enslaved4 to the federal government just prior to entering the ministry.

Truly, the vast majority of conservative Protestant seminaries would not exist were it not for federal money. Those seminaries who reject Caesar’s cash derive much of their funding from tax exempt local churches—as it should be.5 In order for a Bible college or seminary to lay claim to federal money, that school must become accredited by either a regional or national accreditor that is recognized by either the U. S. Department of Education (DOE) or Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).6 So too, there are other reasons institutions seek accreditation. For example, recognized accreditation is a form of statist approval, without which, an institution is generally considered illegitimate at best. Jamin Hübner has observed, “Higher-education in the ‘developed’ world, whether religious or not, tends to be arranged to favor education that is validated by a government.”7 Subsequently, “Accreditors generally function as an arm of the state.”8

Accreditation says almost nothing about academic rigor, let alone an institution’s fidelity to Scripture.9 Consider Union Theological Seminary (UTS) in New York City. UTS has regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, as well as national accreditation from The Association of Theological Schools. While UTS has the most prestigious accreditation possible, the education it affords is a morass of unbelief.

While most equate “accredited” with “legitimate,” achieving accreditation merely reveals a school’s conformity to the administrative and financial expectations of the accreditor, and by extension, the federal government. Recognized accreditation cannot answer the questions most students might ask of a Bible college or seminary: “Is the faculty faithful unto God?,” “Is the curricula effective and God-honoring?,” “Will I receive the best training here?,” or “Will an education at this school prepare me for the mission field?”

Any doubt about government control through recognized accreditors should have evaporated when the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) implied that Gordon College’s policy on homosexual practice was out of step with its accreditation standards.10 A similar example can be seen in the treatment of the Master’s University by one of its accreditors, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). WASC has sought to enforce ethical standards and practices upon Master’s,11 just as with NEASC and Gordon College. One would expect a Christian institution to form its ethical practices upon the basis of a Christian worldview rather than the transient mores of a regional accreditor.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Montoya's Return: A Consideration of Acts 2:38 and Oneness Pentecostalism

“You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” Most adults who were reared in the 1980s recognize that line from the novel come cult classic, The Princess Bride (1987). Inigo Montoya’s humble rebuke of Vizzini’s misuse of the term “inconceivable” gained traction in living rooms across America and consequently secured a memorable place in pop culture history.

In light of the emphasis placed upon Acts 2:38 by Oneness Pentecostals, I am compelled to invoke Montoya’s reply. Oneness interpreters harmonize Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 by interpreting the ὄνομα of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the ὄνομα of Jesus.1On the Oneness view, the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the name of Jesus. This harmonization is what sparked the Oneness movement under the guise of a “revelation,”2 and it continues to be a crucial and universal interpretive principle within Oneness theology, christology, and soteriology.

A second consideration related to Acts 2:38 is whether water baptism is necessary in order to receive the forgiveness of sins. Although not universal among all Oneness adherents, the largest denominational expression of Oneness Pentecostalism3 holds that Acts 2:38 is the salvific plan of God en toto, and that baptism and the subsequent reception of the Spirit with the evidence of tongues is necessary for salvation. However, this view, as well as the Oneness understanding of baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ,” runs into severe exegetical, logical, and theological problems. In order to address these concerns, I have provided an exegesis of Acts 2:38 and a consideration of Oneness Pentecostal teaching on this text.

And Peter said to them: Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)4
Πέτρος δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς· μετανοήσατε φησὶν καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦεἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν καὶ λήμψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος· (Πραθεις Αποστολων 2:38)5
Peter’s Spirit-empowered sermon convicted his listeners such that they were “pierced through the heart.”6 After hearing about their involvement in the crucifixion of Christ and his subsequent resurrection from the dead, the crowd asked, “What shall we do brothers?” Peter’s reply is the concise imperative: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ.” Luke placed the verb “repent” prior to φησὶν,7 giving emphasis not upon baptism, but repentance. The two verbs μετανοήσατε and βαπτισθήτω are joined by the conjunction, but do not grammatically accord since βαπτισθήτω is singular and μετανοήσατε is plural. Some interpreters have sought to capitalize on this abnormality, suggesting that “be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ” is a parenthetical command that does not result in the forgiveness of sins.8 In this way, interpreters have attempted to neutralize any ground for believing that baptism is necessary to obtain the forgiveness of sins. The difficulty with this view is that it ignores the function of the pronominal adjective ἕκαστος as it is joined to the plural genitive ὑμῶν. So too, the plural pronoun in “for the forgiveness of your sins” indicates that there is a group under consideration.9 Thus, while βαπτισθήτω is grammatically singular, both verbs are intended to be understood as plural in force.

The preposition ἐπὶ takes the dative, giving the familiar “in the name of Jesus Christ..”10 The preposition can easily take the meaning “in,” but Acts 2:38 is the only place ἐπὶ occurs within the “in the name of…” construction in the NT.11 Since the two verbs are joined by a conjunction, it is possible to take “in the name of Jesus Christ” as modifying both repentance and baptism. That is, Peter may not have told his audience to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ only, but also to repent in the name of Jesus Christ. This alone would divulge that a baptismal invocation or formula is not in view. One doesn’t say “Vacuum and take out the trash, each one of you, in the morning,” if what one means is that the floors can be left dirty until the afternoon.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

A Critical Evaluation of the Anti-Biblical Counseling Movement

            At nearly fifty years old, the biblical counseling movement (BCM) has given most of its attention to both internal development via continual reformation to the biblical text and its ongoing turf war with secular psychology and the integrationist movement. However, there exists another interlocutor, namely the anti-biblical counseling movement (A-BCM) as it exists among conservative Protestants who simultaneously reject psychology and the resultant psychotherapies. This movement, beginning in late 1980s,[1] has received little attention from within the BCM, likely due to its small size and somewhat inflammatory approach. Despite any attention the A-BCM received in the early 1990s, it is virtually now ignored by the BCM.
            The leaders and most vocal advocates of the A-BCM are Martin and Deidre Bobgan. Martin Bobgan has a doctoral degree in educational psychology, and he and his wife have produced a substantial number of books and articles which seek to refute the existence of the BCM on biblical and theological grounds. The Bobgans were initially supportive of the BCM, even collaborating with Adams on several projects.[2] That support was withdrawn and the Bobgans began to attack the BCM continually.[3] Despite the A-BCM’s attempts, the BCM has enjoyed considerable success within many churches and institutions. However, the A-BCM has made some inroads into several notable churches and ministries. For instance, Martin Bobgan spoke against the biblical counseling at C. H. Spurgeon’s own, Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.[4] Additionally, the Berean Call, the ministry started by the late Dave Hunt, has continued to promote the Bobgans A-BCM materials.[5]
            While the Bobgan’s book entitled Against the Biblical Counseling Movement: For the Bible is one of many texts which voice opposition to the BCM, this text articulates all of the major arguments of the A-BCM in a single volume. This paper will interact with those arguments presented in Against the Biblical Counseling Movement, demonstrating that the A-BCM’s major objections are unfounded and predicated upon faulty logic and, in some cases, legalism.
An Evaluation of A-BCM Objections
            The A-BCM has raised a series of objections that strike at the very heart of the BCM. Below I have provided a summarization of each main objection followed by my own critical evaluation.  
Objection I.
Biblical Counseling is Integrationism
Biblical counselors teach a novel form of “psychoheresy” (i.e., psychology) “by using the unproved and unscientific psychological opinions of men.”[6] Namely, biblical counselors engage in the same self-focused method of the secular psychologies.[7] BCM focuses on problems and not sanctification. “Biblical counselors too often attempt to solve problems at the surface level, or they attempt to discover something about the inner man through various methods of exploration.”[8] The counselor-counselee paradigm is unbiblical and derived from the secular therapeutic culture, and sets the counselor up as an expert.[9] One to one counseling is unbiblical and also a takeover from secular therapy. Charging for counseling is unbiblical and illegitimate.[10]

            The BCM originated as a theologically conservative and Calvinistic project which sought to recover the ecclesiastical and institutional ground taken by an influx of secular therapeutic practitioners within conservative evangelicalism.[11] The BCM waged a “jurisdictional conflict”[12] with psychology and psychiatry, as these disciplines encroached upon territory formally occupied by those who recognized the Bible to be the sufficient means of instruction for Christian soul care. This was a movement that sought to recover the heart and soul of the inerrantist church through theological polemics and the recovery of a positive model of counseling.[13]
            While conservative Protestantism had focused its efforts upon defeating the threats of modernity, it had failed to adequately answer the psychological revolution of the post-civil war era.[14] The post war era brought with it a terrific need of biblical soul care. Instead of meeting the needs of the public with a robust practical theology, the church effectively handed over responsibility of its soul care to the new “science” of psychology.[15] In the aftermath of the great wars of the twentieth century, psychology had solidified its place within the church. The BCM, taking its cues from its Reformation heritage, sought to reform the church’s understanding of counseling back to the teaching of Scripture; effectively dislodging psychology from its place within evangelicalism.
            Biblical counseling is the practical and timely application of the Bible’s teaching to the life of someone who has problems, questions, or some kind of trouble.[16] Biblical counseling is not the proclamation of the facts of the Christian faith in the abstract, but the particular application of biblical truth to specific events, persons, and things.[17] Therefore, biblical counseling has existed long before what we know today as the BCM. What Adams began in the 1970s was merely a return to the cure of souls that had been a fixture within the church for millennia. That the BCM wasn’t innovating may be seen in its dependence upon the soul care of English-speaking puritanism, the reformers, and even the patristic writers.[18] Hence, any claim that the BCM is merely a twentieth-century novelty, or that it is contrary to the church’s tradition of soul care is misguided and dependent upon a mischaracterization of the BCM from the outset.
            The theological and methodological vision laid by Adams in the 1970s has been built upon, refined, and even corrected by the BCM itself.[19] Although much development and reformation continues in the third generation of the BCM, the presuppositions and general principles of the movement have remained unchanged. At its root, the fundamental presupposition of the BCM is a theocentric worldview expressed in the historic Reformed faith and its commitment to a high view of the Triune God. Unlike liberal Protestantism, with its subjugation of biblical revelation to the acids of modernity, or the modern therapeutic culture, which founds its presuppositions on the transient ground of moral individualism, Reformed Protestantism has received the canon of Scripture as the only sufficient and infallible rule of human faith and practice. As a product of Reformed thought, the BCM has always been predicated upon the reformation principle of Sola Scriptura.[20] Thus, from its inception, the BCM has sought to make the contents of its counseling biblical.
            Given this presupposition, biblical counselors seek to address the issues of their counselees using a theological lexicon and a biblical worldview. The content of biblical counseling is Scripture, and its shape imperatival. While there is a time for listening and the gathering of information regarding a situation, biblical counseling is directive, giving concrete applications of biblical truth to a person’s life. Thus, the notion that biblical counseling is “self-focused” is an inexcusable mischaracterization. Not only can one survey the literature published by biblical counselors in the last fifty years and see that this assertion is untrue, but even the most cursory examination of the BCM refutes such a claim.
            The Bobgans claim that the biblical counselors focus on “problems and not sanctification,” and that biblical counselors have baptized the problem-centered approach of psychotherapy. This objection is curious since there are numerous apostolic examples of problem-focused counsel. The apostle Paul spent the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians writing about his reader’s problems, but he was simultaneously focusing upon sanctification. Hence, it is a false dichotomy to suppose that focusing on people’s problems is contrary to sanctification. Moreover, even if one were to ignore the biblical examples, it would be a genetic fallacy to suppose that since psychotherapy utilizes a problem-centered model, it is therefore wrong.[21] Addressing someone’s pornography addiction through the specific application of the Bible’s teaching on idolatry is not “surface level” problem solving. Applying the Psalms to the heart of the depressed such that they find solace in communion with God is not superficial problem solving. Rather, biblical counseling is always imperatival and has sanctification as its goal.[22]
            Because of the existence of the counselor-counselee paradigm, the Bobgans have accused the BCM of integrationism. To these charges it must first be observed that the Bobgans have gone beyond what is written in Scripture to make these arguments.[23] There is no text prohibiting the use of “counselor” language. Rather, the language of “counselor” and “counselee” reflects a biblical category of function among God’s people. Scripture depicts those who give wise counsel as a great asset,[24] and the apostle Paul engaged in one on one counseling among the believers in Ephesus.[25]
            Second, the notion that biblical counselors are assumed to be experts by all who seek their counsel is misguided. Rather, one seeks the aid of a counselor because he believes that the counselor has wisdom sufficient for the task. A Christian who struggles with doubt wouldn’t likely seek the counsel of a new believer, but one who is mature and who has weathered the affliction of this life and is yet faithful. While upholding the importance of ordained churchmen as especially responsible for counseling, the BCM has always asserted the need for every believer to become a biblical counselor.[26]
            The rationale one would use in order to sell a book on the subject of counseling to Christians (e.g., the many books the Bobgans sell to Christians for profit), is the same rationale one would use in charging a fee for counseling. The Scripture warns of those who peddle God’s truth for a profit,[27] but it does not prohibit either Christian writers, ministers, teachers, or those whose vocation is counseling from charging a fee for their labor.
            The apostle Paul gave a specific justification of earning a living from the ministry in 1 Corinthians 9:1-18. In this pericope, Paul sought to exemplify the doctrine of Christian liberty. In their earlier correspondence, the Corinthian church had questioned Paul regarding eating meat offered to pagan idols.[28] Within the relevant era in Corinth, most butcheries incorporated a token pagan ritual and therefore a diet of meat generally connoted an assent to paganism.[29] Recent converts, having been introduced into an entirely exclusive theology wherein the Christian God is the only suitable object of devotion and worship, would have naturally struggled with parsing through whether eating meat was tantamount to a return to their old way of life. Paul addresses this issue by recognizing that “idols are nothing in the world” (8:4), and that believers are free to eat meat, but must temper their liberty when around those whose consciences are weak. It is on the heels of this discussion that Paul gives an illustration of this principle. In 1 Corinthians 9:4-5, Paul noted that in the same way, one has the freedom to eat or drink or to take a wife, those in the ministry have a “right” (Gk. exousia) to earn their living from the ministry. In the case of the church in Corinth, Paul chose not to exercise this right for strategic reasons (vv. 12-13). It is certain, however, that Paul did receive payment from other churches.[30] Thus, we may discern from Paul’s example that charging for work in the ministry is up to the liberty of the individual believer and his conscience.[31] It is legalism to assert, as the Bobgans do, that it is unlawful or unbiblical to charge for biblical counseling.  
Objection II.
Specialized Education in Biblical Counseling Unnecessary & Unbiblical
The BCM movement is guilty of making pastors feel intimidated because of a lack of specialized training in biblical counseling.[32] The Bobgans reject the notion that any specialized education should be offered for those who are seeking to become equipped to engage in counseling. If pastors 100-300 years ago could “preach the Gospel and teach the Word concerning the on-going walk of the believer in sanctification,”  and they didn’t have specialized education, no one needs such training today. Biblical counseling training serves to intimidate pastors, making them feel inadequate for ministry.

            As previously noted, the BCM is a resurgent movement which has sought to recapture the the ecclesiastical and institutional ground taken by psychology and psychiatry practitioners. An examination of conservative Bible colleges and seminaries demonstrates that most do not teach the sufficiency of Scripture for soul care, but the necessity of secular theories and the accompanying methodologies. Hence, there is a great need for a return to the all-sufficient resources of Scripture for soul care, and that is precisely what the BCM has sought over the length of its existence.
            It is only within the context of a dearth of true practical theology that one can describe biblical counseling training as “specialized.” Most seminary training focuses its curriculum upon the public ministry of the Word through teaching and preaching, but very little on the private ministry of the Word (i.e., counseling).[33] “The typical seminary curriculum has just one counseling class in 100-credit-hour master of divinity degree.”[34] It is a mischaracterization to assert that the BCM is attempting to add some new form of training otherwise unknown to seminarians.[35] Rather, biblical counseling training a return to biblical theology for Christian soul care. Furthermore, it is more likely that any pastoral intimidation is due to a lack of fluency with psychological diagnoses given the culture’s slavish devotion to the psychotherapeutic establishment. Biblical counseling effectively demystifies the psychological lexicon, viewing human problems through a biblical framework.[36] Even if one were to grant that biblical counseling training is some sort of specialty, there is no biblical text which prohibits one from gaining extraordinary knowledge in the care of souls.

Objection III.
Parachurch Counseling Centers and Counseling Ministries Within Churches Unbiblical
Any “biblical counseling ministries that operate outside the church, those that function as separate entities inside churches, and all organizations that train biblical counselors for ministries that are visibly separated from the biblically ordained ministries of the Church”[37] are unnecessary and unbiblical. “A step forward for those in the biblical counseling movement would be to discontinue all biblical counseling centers that operate outside of a church.”[38]

            From its inception to the present day, the BCM has stressed the need for the local church to be the means of meeting the counseling needs of believers.[39] The BCM has never been a movement which has emphasized any form of ministry outside of the local church. Adam’s initial model of biblical counseling affirmed the need for every believer to counsel,[40] but emphasized the ordained minister as the quintessential counselor of God’s people.[41] The BCM has always recognized that “The authority for counseling is granted through Christ’s Church.”[42] One can see the BCM’s commitment to the supremacy of the local church in its correlation of biblical counseling and church discipline.[43]
            The presupposition underlying the Bobgan’s rejection of any parachurch counseling organization is a rigid definition of the church that is itself unbiblical. When the Bobgans say “discontinue all biblical counseling centers that operate outside of a church,” they are implying that “church” means what Christians do in a building on Sunday and other worship times. This definition, however, is too narrow to be biblical. While the Scriptures do use the term “church” to speak of a local fellowship (Rom. 16:5), the Bible also speaks of the church in provincial terms (Acts 9:31), and even the church catholic (1 Cor. 15:9). Powlison and Lambert note that “The diverse use of the term church in the Bible provides a strong biblical justification within which Christians may organize themselves to serve in activities we call parachurch.”[44]
            The local church is clearly the focus of the redemptive efforts of the Triune God on earth, and therefore, parachurch ministries should serve at the pleasure and for the good of the local church. Parachurch ministries which either compete with the church, or are completely outside local church authority are indeed unbiblical. However, if a parachurch organization exists serve and complement the local church and its mission, its ministry is legitimate:
The centrality of the local church congregation is actually an argument for principled parachurch ministry—so long as such ministries direct their energies toward the church’s thriving. That is so for seminaries, prison ministries, and international missions societies. It is so for counseling ministries and every other form of faithful and useful parachurch organization.[45]
            The BCM has made use of parachurch ministries which recognize the supremacy of the local church. Biblical Counseling parachurch ministries do not, as the Bobgan’s have asserted, replace the local church. Ironically, the Bobgans run a parachurch organization (i.e., “PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries”), and even implicitly support the role of other parachurch organizations such as seminaries.[46] It would stand to reason, therefore, if parachurch counseling ministries are unbiblical, then so are parachurch anti-counseling ministries. Additionally, there is no biblical imperative, whether explicit or implicit, which precludes the existence of parachurch counseling ministries. Hence, the Bobgan’s objection to parachurch counseling is, like their objection to making a living from the ministry and the existence of biblical counseling training, predicated upon an extrabiblical prohibition.  
            It has been shown above that the three main objections raised by the anti-biblical counseling movement depend upon mischaracterizations of the BCM. So too, the A-BCM’s objections to earning a living from counseling ministry, biblical counseling education, and the existence of parachurch counseling ministries go beyond what is written in Scripture, even landing in bald legalism. Particularly in the case of earning a living from the ministry, there is a clear didactic text which has specifically precluded the Bobgan’s objections. Yet, the Bobgan’s do not hold their objections consistently, as they act in conflict with these objections by the very existence of their own ministry.
       The BCM is founded upon the bulwark of biblical sufficiency and has ably sought to expand the vision first articulated by Adams to local churches throughout North America and beyond. It is a movement that, while undergoing continual reformation, remains committed to fidelity to the biblical text and the local church.

               [1] David Powlison, The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2010), 217-8.
               [2] E.g., Martin & Deidre Bobgan eds., Prophets of Psychoheresy I (Santa Barbara, CA: EastGate Pub., 1989).
               [3] E.g., Martin & Deidre Bobgan, Competent to Minister: The Biblical Care of Souls (Santa Barbara, CA: EastGate Pub., 1996); Against Biblical Counseling: For the Bible (Santa Barbara, CA: EastGate Pub., 1994); Stop Counseling! Start Ministering! (Santa Barbara, CA: EastGate Pub., 2011); Counseling the Hard Cases: A Critical Review (Santa Barbara, CA: EastGate Pub., 2016).
               [4] Martin & Deidre Bobgan, A Church’s Unholy Alliance with the Four Temperaments (Santa Barbara, CA: EastGate Pub., 1992), 2.
               [5] E.g., Martin & Deidre Bobgan, 06/01/2004, “Christ-Centered Ministry Vs. Problem Centered Counseling,” The Berean Call, Accessed 09/05/2018.
               [6] Bobgan, Against Biblical Counseling, 100.
               [7] Ibid., 19.
               [8] Ibid., 20.
               [9] Ibid., 19, 75, 82, 91.
               [10] Ibid., 88-9.
               [11] Powlison, The Biblical Counseling Movement, 40-1, 51.
               [12] Ibid., 1-2, 15.
               [13] The initial work was Jay E. Adams, Competent to Counsel: Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1970), and continues with recent efforts such as Powlison’s work in Eric L. Johnson ed., Psychology and Christianity: Five Views, 2nd Ed. (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010).
               [14] Heath Lambert, The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 34-5.
               [15] There exists significant reason to doubt the credibility of psychology as a legitimate science given its inability to follow standard scientific procedures. Subsequently, there is good reason to question the validity of the myriad of psychotherapeutic modalities which are themselves predicated upon experimental psychology. John Horgan has noted that in 2015 more than half of 100 studies published in “major psychology journals” had failed a replication test “despite painstaking efforts to re-create the original experiments.” John Horgan, 07/01/2016, “Psychology's Credibility Crisis: the Bad, the Good and the Ugly,” Scientific American Mind, 27.4, 18. In his book length evaluation, Dr. Brian M. Hughes has noted, “Second-rate replication records, paradoxical paradigms, enigmatic measurement practices, cryptic statistics, and unconvincing sampling conventions all stand as ubiquitous reminders of why psychologist’s enthusiasm should be tempered.” Hughes concluded that although psychology “considers itself agile at producing authentic insights about the human psyche,” psychologists should instead “feel torrents of collective embarrassment running down their spines.” Brian M. Hughes, Psychology in Crisis, (New York: Red Globe Press, 2018), 119. Cf. Alex B. Berezow, 07/13/2012, “Why Psychology Isn’t Science,” Los Angeles Times; Michael J. Formica, 08/16/2008, “The Failure of Psychology and the Death of Psychotherapy,” Psychology Today, Accessed 09/05/2019.
               [16] Heath Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016), 13.
               [17] Some critics of the BCM have wrongly characterized it in reductionistic terms, claiming that biblical counseling is about merely identifying sin and giving the counselee a few Bible lessons. E.g., Darlene Parsons, 12/15/2017, “Biblical Counseling Training: Inadequate Education, Problematic Resources and Questionably Educated Leaders,” The Wartburg Watch, Accessed 09/03/2019. See also Kathryn Joyce, 06/14/2017, “The Rise of Biblical Counseling,” Pacific Standard, Accessed 09/03/2019.
               [18] Mark A. Deckard, Helpful Truth in Past Places: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Counseling (Fearn, UK: Mentor, 2010); Fraser, Developments in Biblical Counseling, 91-107; T. Dale Johnson, “A Case for Religious Liberty in Soul Care From a Historical Perspective,” The Journal for Biblical Soul Care, 1.1, 34-55; Timothy J. Keller, 1988, “Puritan Resources for Biblical Counseling,” Journal of Pastoral Practice, 9.3, 11-44; Jeremy Lelek, Biblical Counseling Basics: Roots, Beliefs, Future (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2018), 9-11; John F. MacArthur et al., Introduction to Biblical Counseling (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1994), 21-43; David Powlison, 2008, “Looking at the Past and Present of Counseling,” 9Marks Journal, 5.6, 18-21; Cf. John Weaver, The Failure of Evangelical Mental Health Care: Treatments That Harm Women, LGBT Persons, and the Mentally Ill (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2015), 20.
               [19] Lambert, The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams, 87-138 and J. Cameron Fraser, Developments in Biblical Counseling (Reformation Heritage Books, 2015), 59-90.
               [20] For a concise articulation of the sufficiency of Scripture as it relates to counseling see Wayne A. Mack, 1998, “The Sufficiency of Scripture in Counseling,” TMSJ, 9.1, 63-84.
               [21] For a concise explanation of the genetic fallacy see Richard A. Holland Jr., Benjamin K. Forrest, Good Arguments: Making Your Case in Writing and Public Speaking (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2017), 43.
               [22] Adams wrote, “Biblical change is the goal of counseling.” Jay E. Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling: More Than Redemption (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1979), 234. See also Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling, 292; Robert W. Kellemen, Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 260; and Stuart Scott’s work in Stephen P. Greggo, Timothy A. Sisemore eds., Counseling and Christianity: Five Approaches (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012), 167-70.
               [23] Cf. 1 Cor. 4:6.
               [24] Prov. 11:14; 20:18; 24:6.
               [25] Acts 20:20; v. 31; cf. Rom. 15:14; Col. 1:28.  
               [26] Jay E. Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1973), 9.
               [27] 2 Cor. 2:17.
               [28] 1 Cor. 8:1. The abruptness of the introduction peri de tōn eidōlothutōn (“Now concerning meat sacrificed to idols”) implies that this topic was one that was featured in the Corinthian correspondence to Paul (cf. 1 Cor. 7:1).
               [29] Alex T. Cheung, Idol Food in Corinth: Jewish Background and Pauline Legacy (Sheffield, UK: Sheffiled Academic Press, 1999), 35-38. See also Khiok-khng Yeo, Rhetorical Interaction in 1 Corinthians 8 and 10 (Leiden, NL: Brill, 1995), 95-101.
               [30] Phil. 4:16-18; cf. Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:8.
               [31] This view is also reflected in the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors Standards of Conduct § III.C. See 10/04/2016, “Standards of Conduct,” Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Accessed 08/28/2019.
               [32] Bobgan, Against Biblical Counseling, 11.
               [33] Eph. 4:11-16.
               [34] Bob Kellemen, Kevin Carson eds., Biblical Counseling and the Church: God’s Care Through God’s People (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 34.
               [35] Welch, referring to the Christian gospel and the Scriptures, has suggested that intimidated pastors “Already know the most helpful truths” See Edward T. Welch, 12/17/2018, “Five Encouragements for Pastors Intimidated by Biblical Counseling,” 9Marks, Accessed 09/04/2019.
               [36] An excellent example of this is Michael R. Emlet, Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses & Medications (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2017).
               [37] Bobgan, Against Biblical Counseling, 58.
               [38] Ibid., 90; cf. 71, 94.
               [39] Kellemen et al., Biblical Counseling and the Church, 184-5. David Powlison, 2014, “The Local Church is THE Place for Biblical Counseling,” CCEF Now,  2-3.
               [40] Adams, Competent to Counsel, 41-2.
               [41] Adams, Competent to Counsel, 65-7;
               [42]Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling, 279. See also MacArthur et al., Introduction to Biblical Counseling, 301-10; Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands (Philippsburg, NJ: P & R, 2002), esp. 18ff;
               [43] E.g., Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling, 278-80.
               [44] David Powlison, Heath Lambert, 2019, “Biblical Counseling in Local Churches and Parachurch Ministries, Journal of Biblical Counseling, 33.2, 14-15.
               [45] Ibid., 15.
               [46] Bobgan, Against Biblical Counseling, 9, 187.