Jesus and Taxes

jesusconstitutionTime Traveling Kenny Loggins wants you to read this oversized document


I wanted to offer up a comment or two regarding a couple of articles from the Christian Libertarian Institute blog that an acquaintance passed along to me.

Taxation is Theft. Yes, Really


Taxation is Theft. (The Rest of the Story)

The articles are Jamin Hubner’s clumsy, hamfisted presentation for the notion that government taxation is theft and Jesus would never, ever approve of it.

Long time readers of my blog may recognize the name, Jamin Hubner. I tangled with Jamin a few years ago when he was flirting with Biologos-like ideas regarding the book of Genesis and what it tells us about creation. Those articles can be found HERE for those interested. He used to swirl about in my orbit of theological associates, blogging occasionally for James White and Alpha and Omega Ministries, as well as maintaining his own personal blog and doing a bit of podcasting.

His growing notoriety at the time, coupled with a sloppy handling of theological subjects, brought him under the scrutiny of additional critics other than myself and he eventually retreated from the internet blogging world. Since then, he started teaching at John Witherspoon College, received a doctorate from South Africa University (where, ironically, Ergun Caner received his), has become a shill for so-called feminist evangelicals, even being scheduled to speak at one of their navel gazing mugs and muffins conferences next year, and now quotes N.T. Wright liberally.

Somewhere along the line with all of that, he also started dabbling in economic theory and libertarian political philosophy and here we are with these two articles.

His first article quotes a bunch of academics on economics and dismisses any evangelical who cites Romans 13 as teaching that Paul taught taxation was entirely legit and Christians are required to pay taxes. Rather than even addressing what Paul argued in Romans 13, Jamin says he is gonna take it back to what Jesus actually said on the matter from the Gospels. That approach makes me wonder what he thinks about Paul. Seeing that Jesus inspired Paul to write Romans, what he wrote in chapter 13 about Christians and government and taxes would be Jesus’s thoughts on the matter, but oh well.

The second article is an attempt to explain why Jesus believed taxation is theft. According to Jamin, Jesus couldn’t just come out and condemn Roman taxation as theft because He and His disciples would be killed by the authorities. It is similar to how Jesus never came out and condemned slavery, because to do so was counter-cultural and would have the government powers putting a stop to Christianity before it could even get started.

He writes,

Naturally, Jesus’ life and teaching caused listeners to wonder if paying taxes was really necessary (Mt 22:15-22; Lk 20:19-26). Being a good Jew, taxation for him—especially enforced by the secular empire—was theft. But, to go out in the streets and simply decree “taxation is theft, so don’t do it,” would mean immediate death—just as declaring “slavery is wrong” would mean the collapse of the entire ancient economy, with nearly 20% of the populous being slaves. So he never acknowledged the money as being stolen property (i.e., “give unto Caesar what is yours”), as that would have (a) openly legitimized theft and (b) fanned yet more fire for the flames of violent revolution. But he had to fulfill many other conditions in this tight box: (a) don’t leave people thinking Caesar/the state is Lord, since he’s not; (b) diminish the empire and its importance; (b) say this without getting crushed; (c) don’t cause anyone else to get crushed. Good heavens, only God could pull this off!

He then cites and applies a Bible verse out of context, and closes with a friendly reminder that everyone pays taxes because they have no other choice, so don’t stupidly take on the IRS.

Oh boy. Where to begin.

Let me zero in on the key phrase in the title of these two posts: Taxation is theft. The word theft means “to steal.” Stealing is a violation of God’s law; it’s number 8 in the Ten Commandments. If Jesus is God and the Angel of YHWH who brought Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 15:19-20; Judges 2:1-5), I would think that He would be familiar with the 10 Commandments.

So, if He believed taxation is theft, then He believes taxation is a violation of God’s law. If we take Jamin’s view, what he is suggesting is that Jesus basically told the Jews to tolerate, and participate in, the violation of the 10 Commandments by begrudgingly paying taxes to the Roman authorities because they had no choice but to. It would be like Him telling the Jews it is alright to violate the Sabbath, commit adultery, or murder, because you really have no choice and any resistance would bring the Romans in to crush everybody.

reganNothing says lower taxes like Ronald Reagan shooting a gun from the back of a velociraptor

But let’s expand that thinking. If it is true Jesus believes taxation is theft, then any Christian who works for the IRS, or the local county tax offices, or runs a financial business that specializes in helping people with their taxes, like H&R Block, is in violation of the 8th Commandment. The Christians are unlawfully aiding in the stealing from their fellow citizens and the financial folks are helping their fellow citizens prevent the unlawful theft of their money.

Now, let’s move to the Bible and see a couple of significant examples of divinely ordained taxation.

First, during the time of the theocratic kingdom of Israel, the people were required to give a number of tithes from their personal property to the Lord. See for example Leviticus 27:30-33, Numbers 18:21ff., and Deuteronomy 14:18-29. The tithe was a divinely ordained system of taxation. It’s primary purpose was to maintain the state government, which was overseen by a Levitical administration. They were in essence the government that ran the religious duties of Israel’s theocratic kingdom. Because they did not have an inheritance of their own, the other tribes supported them financially.

Second, coming to 1 Samuel 8, near the end of the time of the judges, Israel demanded a king like all the other nations. God grants their request, but institutes a number of taxes that would be required of the people to fund the new kingly administration, 1 Samuel 8:10-18.

If taxation is theft as Jamin and his Christian libertarian pals suggest, then God essentially set of a system of tithes that violate the 8th Commandment. Moreover, when Israel demanded a king, God caused them to sin by forcing them to participate in a system of theft that broke His law. Such is patently absurd.

Now, let’s turn our attention back to a NT passage Jamin highlights. He mentions the story of Jesus and Peter paying the temple tax from Matthew 17:24-27. He writes,

Jesus’ trivializing of earthly authorities and embodied ethical life (e.g., free of theft) led again to the question: “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” [Peter] said “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?”  When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.”

It goes without saying that this is a lot different than the popular, naïve mantra of “just pay your taxes, it’s the law; Romans 13.” And Jesus’ response is not anything close to contemporary justifications of taxation. The very fact that it was and remained a controversial talking point indicates the complex nature of the situation. What does seem clear is that Jesus was rolling his eyes the whole time; “Yeah, like they’re in a position to demand people’s possessions. Sigh, whatever. Just find a coin and give it to them.”

Maybe I’m mistaken, but Jamin seems to be thinking that Jesus is addressing non-Jewish, secular governmental authorities, such as the Romans. But the question about the temple tax again comes from the OT. Jewish men over the age of 20 were required to pay a sanctuary/temple tax on an annual basis. Exodus 30:13-14 reads,

13 This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to the LORD.
 14 Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD.

That same tax is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 24:4-10 when king Joash decided to restore the house of the LORD. Described as a levy that had been fixed by Moses (vs.6), the tax was important to reinstate because the previous wicked queen, Athaliah, had raided the Levitical coffers and they had no funds to maintain the sanctuary.

Jesus’s response to Peter regarding the question of paying the temple tax is a Messianic affirmation, not a repudiation of paying taxes. He is God’s son. As the Son of the King whose temple it is, He is not required to pay the temple tax. But so that there is no offense and the law is upheld, he had Peter pay it. Nothing in Christ’s words to Peter suggests He believes taxation is theft or that he is rolling His eyes at the request of a temple tax.

While there is no where in Scripture when Jesus condemned taxation as theft, I think we could all agree that a case can be made that taxes can be unfair and excessively burdensome.

I live in California. Taxes, fines, and levies are placed on nearly everything the state government can get their greedy little hands on. A lot of that tax money is squandered on paying out golden parachute pensions and other retirement benefits for state employees, not to mention ridiculous programs like the green initiative nonsense.

However, the unfair and incompetent mismanagement of tax funds does not mean taxation is theft. Taxes are just a normal and necessary part of maintaining a functioning society. I know for myself, I do not have the skill set to be a fire fighter or a police officer or even a road construction guy. All of those duties are important to having livable townships. Paying for those goods and services are where taxes come into play. And while I may agree that many of those jobs could be given to the private sector, they still cost money to fund. You can call it taxation or paying a fee, but they still be a need to paid for. I mean, the fire fighter needs to feed his family and pay off a mortgage just like I do.

Honestly, these articles are a tad worrisome. All I know is that Kent Hovind often argued in the same fashion that Jamin has. The feds wouldn’t let Dr. Dino get away thinking taxation is theft. I can tell you right now they won’t let Jamin, either.

Talking Halloween and Christians

booAndy Olson of Echo Zoe radio contacted me last week and wondered if I would be willing to visit with him for his monthly podcast. I said, “sure, would love to,” and when we got to exchanging messages about a particular topic, the subject of Halloween came up. We quickly discovered we had similar experiences growing up as Fundy Christians and being told Halloween was satanic and will steal your soul (if you weren’t murdered first in a ritual killing).

So this being October, and knowing Christian parents are probably struggling in their hearts about whether or not they should do something Trick or Treaty with the kids (and at the great risk of receiving a severe wedgie from some of my discernment blogging acquaintances), we landed on that subject. We spent about an hour discussing our take on Halloween. We talk about the Jack Chick Halloween menace worldview, the fact that Halloween marks the beginning of the Reformation, and how folks can actually benefit spiritually from Halloween without losing their soul to the roving covens of black hooded warlocks seeking out blonde virgins to sacrifice.

Give it a listen; and like I always so, listen at 1.5x speed because we sound much more smarterer.

On Halloween

Gleanings from Judges [12]

ammonitesJephthah and the Ammonites – Judges 10-11

The entire book of Judges is a record of man’s fickle unfaithfulness, yet a testimony to God’s steadfast faithfulness. He will not let His people go. He will certainly chastise them in judgment, but He won’t let them out of the covenant He made with them. He is faithful to uphold his promise of judgment when they disobey, drawing them back to covenant faithfulness.

Coming to Judges 10, the chapter opens with a description of a 40 year peace in the land of Israel. It followed after Abimelech died and Gideon had beaten the Midianites. For almost half a century, the country was quiet.

Two minor judges are mentioned in the opening verses. First is Tola, who judged Israel 23 years. After his death, another man by the name of Jair, judged for another 22 years. The text doesn’t tell us who they saved Israel from, or if there was even a foreign enemy to be dealt with. It could be that these men delivered Israel in the sense that they helped the tribes recoup their loses after the Midianite threat had been eradicated and Abimelech’s disastrous fake reign. Furthermore, they could have served concurrently with each other or had overlapping judgeships.

The Background

Whatever the case, however, Israel’s period of rest allowed the people’s heart to return to serving the false gods. Verse 6 names a few they followed: the Baals, the Ashtaroth, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines.

In response to their spiritual rebellion, God sold the people to the Ammonites and the Philistines. The text says God’s anger burned hot against Israel and it was the LORD giving the people over to their enemies. The giving over was all God’s doing in order to fulfill his covenant promises detailed in Deuteronomy 28.

It is also important to note that there are more than likely two oppressions going on simultaneously. The Ammonites on the east side of Israel and the Philistines on the west side of Israel. Hence, the events between Jephthah and the Ammonites that are recorded in 10-12 and those happening to Samson and the Philistines in 13-16. In essence, God is squeezing Israel on both sides that led to them being delivered.

The specific oppression of the Ammonites lasted 18 years. Who were these Ammonites? Recall the story of Lot and his daughters in Genesis 19. After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot lived with his two surviving children in a cave. In an act of sin, the daughters got Lot drunk and each one slept with him in turn. The result of the unions were his daughters delivering Moab and Ammon. Throughout Israel’s history, the descendants of both Moab and Ammon were a problem. In this instance, here in Judges 10 and 11, they were raised up to be the oppressors of the Trans-Jordan tribes for 18 years.

Change of Heart

Eventually, God gets Israel’s attention and the oppressed tribes are broken, confessing their sin. Notice their confession:

We’ve sinned. They stated what their sin was, a forsaking of God and pursuing the Baals. However, note God’s response in Judges 10:13-14, “I’m will no longer deliver you, go and cry after those false gods you now worship rather than me.”

Do whatever seems best. In response to God’s refusal to deliver, the people tell Him to do with them whatever He thinks is best. They accept their punishment and trust God’s dealings with them.

Put away the foreign gods. Continuing in their acts of genuine repentance, they then put away their idols and false religion and returned to serving the LORD.

The Coming of Jephthah

When the Ammonites gathered to do battle with the sons of Gilead, they needed someone to lead them. They turned to a man with a shady background – Jephthah. He was a son of a harlot, so Gilead’s true sons had run him off.

During his exile in the land of Tob, he had joined up with individuals described as “worthless fellows” (Judges 11:3). Those men gathered themselves around Jephthah and they became marauding pirate types who successfully raided the Ammonites.

The men of Gilead, knowing about his feats, called him back to his people to be their leader. Jephthah wonders why they would do such a thing calling him back. He even asks if they would be willing to make him their main kinglike figure. Eventually he makes them swear an oath to him and agrees to lead them.

He begins with negotiations with the Ammonites and does so with an appeal to history. What is interesting about his speech to them is that he doesn’t doubt that history he recounts and assumes the Ammonites are also familiar with what he is telling them.

First he asks them what it was Israel did to them that they would come and occupy their land. He reminds them further that they did not occupy the land where Israel lived, but that the Amorites had dwelt there. He then tells them they needed to be content with with the area their false god, Chemosh, had allegedly given them.

Rather than heeding his words to them, the Ammonites disregarded them and prepared to make terrible war against Israel. The Spirit of the LORD then came upon Jephthah and he lead Israel in battle against them and subdued them.

Knowing Stuff


I wanted to offer some comments on an article over at Frank Turek’s Cross Examined website,

An Open Question to Presuppositionalists

There have already been some solid responses since it has been posted. James White gave his thoughts during his October 4th, 2016 Dividing Line podcast and Steve Hays posted one of his withering beat down blog articlesI imagine there may be other rebuttals forthcoming.

The author presents a lot things I’d love to touch on, but with my purposes here, I wanted to focus in upon some specific comments he makes regarding methodology, particularly how we know what we know as presuppositionalists. I believe he provides some important thoughts to ponder.

I consider myself a presuppositionalist in my apologetic methodology, though I wouldn’t necessarily be a pure and clean Van Tillian drawn from the veins of covenant theology. I think Van Til did much to set apologetic methodology aright, especially wresting apologetics from the hands of Roman Catholics and Arminians, and anchoring it in a historical, apostolic, and biblical approach. I know for myself, presuppositionalism caused my evangelistic efforts engaging unbelief to leap light years beyond the canned soul-winning presentations I was taught in my Baptist churches growing up.

I have written quite a bit on the topic of apologetics over the years (articles are cataloged HERE for folk’s convenience). Though the bulk of those articles are critical of classic apologetics, I do have my criticisms of the current expressions of presuppositionalism as it is presented online and in social media contexts. Mainly, I am concerned that presuppositional practitioners complicate the terminology and methods to the point no one knows what it is the person is talking about. That presents a real problem. When someone like myself wishes to teach others to think presuppositionally regarding apologetics, I want to make sure folks are not confused as to what it is I am telling them.

I think because presuppositionalists can speak in cryptic terms, the author of the article interacts with what really amounts to a strawman version of presuppositionalism, and that makes it difficult to respond to his phantom. However, I believe his article is none the less useful, because those misconceptions he presents are founded upon what could possibly be an inadequate definition given to him by presuppositionalists. If he received bad information from folks, we cannot fault him when he attempts to offer a rebuttal with bad arguments.

Here is where we can seize the opportunity to sharpen our apologetics. There are two misconceptions he notes in his article I think are important to consider and correct. That in turn will help presuppositionalists to articulate clearly their theology.

The first one concerns what he falsely believes presuppositionalists teach regarding human reasoning. He writes,

… It is my understanding that according to the Calvinistic interpretation of Scripture, human reasoning is so totally depraved that any effort to understand or believe the Gospel is futile. Unless and until the Holy Spirit regenerates the reprobate mind, a person will continue to suppress the truth regardless of how well it is articulated or argued for.

That is not at all what Calvinism believes about total depravity. Total depravity doesn’t mean utter depravity, in that human beings are as wicked as they could be and totter on the brink of savagery and descending into a Lord of the Flies existence (even though that is a real possibility). The idea of total depravity is that sin effects the whole person, the entirety of his being. Every aspect of who a person is, is tainted by sin.

That would certainly include man’s reasoning ability. In fact, Ephesians 4:18 states that men’s minds have a darkened understanding. In other words, their reasoning abilities are clouded, or are the opposite of illumination.

So how does that play out in their ability to reason? Presuppositionalists are not saying men have no ability to reason, nor that they can never understand the Gospel message. What they are saying is that the sinner’s so-called reasoning is at its core hostile to the faith, and will more than likely just lead him to make even more excuses why he should continue rejecting Christ. Thus, a sinners reasoning will never save him, and thus he cannot be reasoned to saving faith.

The author seems to conflate the idea of reasoning with the idea of believing or making a commitment that is efficacious for an unbeliever’s salvation. Certainly a sinner can understand the content of the Gospel. I have personally spoken with a number of hostile unbelievers about the proofs of the Resurrection, the claims of Jesus, and argued passionately for the existence of God. Those unbelievers clearly understood what I was saying, a few acknowledging I made a good case. However, they reasoned in themselves that I was an idiot and rejected my compelling presentations none the less.

While I personally am willing to entertain the unbeliever’s demand for “proof” or answers to his or her hard questions about the Bible, some in my presuppositional circles are not. They are of the conviction that doing so is putting God on trial and conceding to the unbeliever’s rebellion against God.

I, on the other hand, recognize what the Bible tells me about an unbeliever: his reasoning is darkened, and unless God regenerates his heart, he will only remain in that darkness. That doesn’t mean, however, that I never speak with him about the Gospel, answer his pointed questions, or present so-called evidence when asked for it. A lot of the time, the presentation of evidence merely shuts the mouth of the scoffer and exposes his intellectual folly.

carlSure. Whatever, Carl

Secondly is the author’s understanding regarding how it is that we know the interpretation of Scripture. In an imaginary conversation he makes up between a classical apologist and a presuppositional apologist, he states the following,

“In other words, you can REASON from the text. The words of Scripture clearly do not interpret themselves. If that were the case we wouldn’t be having this discussion. You and I disagree about what the implications of Scripture are and therefore you have to attempt to demonstrate that your view is true by engaging in reasoning. Didn’t you say that our reasoning capabilities are fallen and that we should never place human reasoning above God’s Divine Revelation?”

Here is where the author touches upon one of the cornerstone, foundational differences between classicists and presuppositionalists. That being, what is it exactly that informs our understanding of Scripture?

Now a person may ask, “How exactly is that foundational?” It has to do with with ultimate authorities that shape our ability to know. Anyone who gets into a discussion about epistemology and Scriptural authority with a classical apologist will eventually reach the place where the classicist will insist that no one can really know what the Bible is saying or interpret it correctly WITHOUT first having a philosophical grid in place through which we filter our reading of Scripture.

For instance, Richard Howe, at Southern Evangelical Seminary, says that he presents a three-fold formula that builds a cumulative case for the Christian faith. He begins with philosophy that defines our “reality,” that moves him to demonstrating general theism, and then eventually the viability of Christianity. The authority of Scripture in defining Christianity is essentially the caboose in his apologetic train. When I have interacted with graduates of SES, my most notable foil being Adam Tucker (folks can find my articles addressing our exchanges HERE), that is the exact same model they all employ.

The same basic approach is utilized when interpreting Scripture. For the classicist, the proper interpretation of Scripture cannot be determined by just reading the Bible. A system of hermeneutics must be established first before anyone can read the Bible properly. So, for the classicist, it is naive, and a bit dishonest, for the presuppositionalist to say he starts his apologetics with Scripture. The presuppositionalist has smuggled in an outside authority, that being his system of hermeneutics, which is the true ultimate starting point, not the Bible. That system is ultimately determined by philosophy that interprets reality. Again, see this article I wrote responding to this very argument made by Richard Howe against presuppositionalism.

The presuppositionalist, however, understands that God desires to communicate with mankind and has thus created man with the ability to communicate not only with Himself, but also other men. In other words, the hermeneutics needed to read and understand Scripture is hardwired in men.

Think about it: people don’t need to learn a separate, philosophical grid first before they can read cook books, or instructions for changing engine oil, or The Lord of the Rings trilogy. As long as they have the basics of reading, a person can instantaneously determine if what it is he is reading is history, or poetry, or a story, or even a recipe to make a pie. The same is with Bible. A Christian doesn’t need to have memorized Aristotle’s philosophy for reality to understand Scripture, especially the Gospel. It is how God made man to communicate.

Presuppositionalists need to recognize the importance of clarifying these two truths. If they are concise in explaining what is meant by the totality of human depravity and its impact upon man’s basic reasoning, along with how it is we know about God and what it means when we say Scripture is our starting point, they will be making great strides in helping Christians understand how to defend the faith in a biblical fashion.

Evangelical White Lies – A Book Review


Evangelical White Lies
Mike Abendroth
146 p., paperback

Pastor Mike Abendroth has graced the Christian church with a new book. When he is not hosting his No Compromise podcast or preaching at Bethlehem Bible Church, he is writing and publishing insightful, cutting edge material addressing sloppy thinking among Red State, Evangelical Christians.

Unlike his previous book, Sexual Fidelity – (see my review HERE), that focused on a singular topic, biblical sexuality and ethics, Evangelical White Lies addresses and corrects a variety of shibboleths that have become pronounced among evangelical Christians because of bad teaching, or bad doctrine, or just an overall mishandling of Scripture. For example, the common myth that missionaries must suffer and live in near poverty conditions to really be missionaries, and the idea of making the OT stories simply illustrations of moral character in a flannel board fashion.

Other topics include the claim that Christians must tithe per Malachi 3:8 (I heard a sermon at least once a year about that when I attended an SBC church), addressing the imbalance of Christians focusing too much on marriage and family, and the silliness of churches pursuing environmentalism and so-called “green” initiatives.

Overall, there are 12 chapters covering specific white lies that have wormed their way in among the pews of American, evangelical Christians. Each subject is written in Pastor Mike’s signature NoCo style that is fun and conversational for the average believer. They are also mercifully short; a person can probably read this book through in a couple of sittings.

The chapters are,

  • You can live the Gospel
  • You just need more time
  • Christians must tithe
  • Missionaries must suffer to stay humble
  • Work is only a means to an end (work is strictly secular)
  • The focus is on the family
  • Bodily exercise does not profit
  • Green is God’s favorite color
  • God fits in a box
  • The weather is a thing
  • God speaks outside His revealed word
  • Bible characters make perfect models for morality

In a way, Evangelical White Lies is a specially unique apologetic work. Rather than presenting a defense of the historicity of Jesus, or the reliability of the Bible, or arguments against the existence of God from atheist critics like the standard apologetic books, Pastor Abendroth presents an offensive against the terrible application of bad teaching that has become the default conviction of many in evangelical circles. Instead of training Christians to defend the faith against hostility, he is training them to defend the faith against stupidity.

As I understand it, Pastor Abendroth has a list of several other evangelical white lies he can expose. I would certainly encourage him to pursue cataloging them with the hope that he will publish them in an ongoing series of books. They would be a fabulous blessing for the Church.

Beth Moore Loves Her Some Evangelical White Lies!


How Idolatry Ruined Israel

goldencalf1 Corinthians 10:1-14

I want to continue looking at Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians regarding eating food sacrificed to idols and the extent of Christian liberty. Previous three posts can be seen here,


Just to recap, the Corinthians believed they could maintain their previous, non-Christian relationship with the pagan culture of Corinth. That attitude further convinced them they were at liberty to join in the ceremonies and other festivities of the pagan temples. In fact, given the tone of Paul’s letter in regards to the matter, they were rather insistent about their participation.

That insistent attitude, however, was ruining their testimony with unbelievers, as well as leading other Christians astray into idolatry. Rather than telling them they have that liberty, yet to be mindful of the so-called “weaker brother,” the standard interpretation of these passages, Paul confronts them with a sharp rebuke telling them to get out of those places altogether. Their liberty does not give them that right; in truth it was really a false, self-serving liberty.

Over the course of 1 Corinthians 8-10, Paul, I believe, presents his case for the Corinthians rejecting their false liberty  around four broad areas, 1) It was a danger to believers, 2) It disqualified one’s overall ministry, 3) It ruined Israel, and 4) It disrupts the fellowship of the brethren.

With this post, I come to the third area Paul presents as to why the Corinthians must get out of the temple and stop eating idol food. That is, idolatry ruined Israel.

Paul breaks down his argument along three points,

The Record of Idolatry – He begins by directing his readers back to the OT history of Israel. That he would bring up the OT is interesting. He is primarily interacting with gentiles when he writes the Corinthians, offering correction to individuals who wouldn’t necessarily be familiar with the OT at all. Paul, none the less, instructed them in the history of Israel, because the OT is so vital to understanding the promises of Christ and how they relate to the Christian Church. There is application to be made from God’s dealings with Israel who were His people, to the Christian Corinthians who are also His people.

The Corinthian church came from somewhere. Their existence is anchored in history, so Paul is essentially instructing them in that history. Additionally, Christ was there as well with Israel. That of course is because Christ is God, and like he was with Israel, so to is He with the Corinthians.

There are similarities between the Israelites and the Corinthians. Just as the Israelites were called out from bondage to Egypt, Christ called out the Corinthians from bondage to sin. Just like God protected and provided for Israel in the wilderness, so also Christ protects and provides for the Corinthians.

However, in spite of having God and Christ with them – seeing the cloud of glory, seeing the miracles, and having God provide directly for them – Israel involved themselves with sinful, idolatrous activity. They are what Paul describes as examples from whom the Corinthians can learn by observing God’s dealings with them.

The Warning of Idolatry – As Paul notes in 10:7, Israel engaged in building a golden calf as recorded in Exodus 32. He goes on to remind the Corinthians how they also committed sexual immorality in Numbers 25, complained against God in Numbers 21, and also complained against God’s chosen man, Moses, in Numbers 16. Each one of those instances involved elements of pagan worship. They worshiped false gods, engaged in sexual immorality, and ultimately reject God and Christ.

Those OT events stand as examples, or illustrations, the Corinthian church needs to ponder. They should learn from their tragic example. Just like Israel had first hand experience with the true and living God when He brought them out of Egypt, the Corinthians did as well, especially in experiencing salvation. With that in mind, Paul is warning that they need to consider their slouching toward disobedience with their abuse of liberty. As he writes in 10:12, the Christians needed to take heed, lest they fall into idolatry and incur the judgment of God. Their continued persistence in participating in pagan temple could at any moment destroy them as a church.

The Call to Put Away Idols – Paul then finishes up his warning by reminding the Corinthian’s in 10:13 of God’s promise to take care of His people. He does so by writing that none of them will be overtaken in a temptation, and will never be tempted beyond what they are able to bear.

This verse is misunderstood. The typical view of what Paul is stating here is taken as him telling the Corinthians that when hard trials come their way, particularly in their individual, personal lives, God won’t give them more than they can handle. In reality, however, that isn’t always true: sometimes a person does get a lot and they can’t handle it on a personal level at all.

That is not at all what Paul means with this verse. In the context of our discussion about them abusing their liberty in the pagan temples, the Corinthians would be tempted to involve themselves in the temple ceremonies because it is cultural. As I noted in a previous article, they would see the temple, not merely as a place of idol worship, but as a cultural center where those who want to get ahead in society would gather to be seen and heard and to gain influence among peers. If they were to cut themselves off from those opportunities, there could be severe, financial and cultural repercussions. At least that is the worry on the part of many in the church.

However, the greater good they could do is flee from the blatant idolatry in those temples. The Corinthians need to cut their participation in those places out of their lives, and if they experience uncomfortable persecution and financial hardship, God is faithful, writes Paul, to help them. He provides the way of escape, as it were.

The much greater harm is the idolatry itself. For just like it destroyed the nation of Israel over the course of their history, it too will certainly destroy the Corinthians. That is why Paul commands them to flee from idolatry. It is not a matter of the extent of their Christian liberty, but obedience to the Lord.

Truth or Territory – A Book Review

truthTruth or Territory: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare
Jim Osman
227 p., paperback

Shortly after I came to know the Lord, I began attending a Baptist church that had an unhealthy fixation with spiritual warfare techniques. Leaders modeled such practices as praying hedges of protection around individual people, their homes, and our church, binding Satan, and identifying territorial demons who ruled over neighborhoods and cities.

I remember once how a prayer walk was organized during which members of our church marched around the parameter of the state university campus in our town in a “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho” fashion binding demons and claiming authority over the place in Jesus’s name. Thankfully, the campus wasn’t too big, because I just remember it being blazing hot that day.

On another occasion, a deacon teaching our Sunday school class solemnly warned us of how foolish it is to leave your house or dorm room without spiritual protection from God. He lectured us on the importance of praying a hedge around ourselves and our families so as to prevent demonic influences in our lives.

Still another time, we had a Southern Baptist “evangelist” named Sam Cathy come to our church to lead a series of revival services for the week. Each evening he entertained us with his fantastic adventures fighting demons. He told us of how demons were typically behind every sinful choice a person made. He told us how he commanded demons to tell him their plans, and in one case, the demons were arranging homosexual liaisons for a particular pastor with the intent of bringing him to be the president of the SBC and exposing him in a devastating, nationwide scandal.

My church was supposed to be a non-Charismatic Baptist church, mind you; yet the books of Frank Peretti and the counseling of Neil Anderson shaped the spiritual environment.

What I was taught about the devil, demons, and spiritual warfare is not isolated. The average church-goers today, both charismatic and non-charismatic, believes genuine spiritual warfare involves binding Satan, identifying and fighting off territorial spirits, and praying up hedges of protection around themselves and their families. This extremely misguided perception of our enemy is why Jim Osman’s book is an important polemical work addressing the topic.

Osman is the pastor of Kootenai Community Church in northern Idaho. Like me, he came to the Lord in Christian circles that had an aberrant perspective of the demonic. He was taught the same superstitious nonsense I was taught about fighting Satan. Methodologies that Osman rightly identifies as more akin to Harry Potter novels than biblical Christianity.

His study is broken into four parts (all beginning with the letter “E” so you can remember them).

Part one is where Osman establishes the biblical principles regarding spiritual warfare. He opens by bringing us to our starting point, the authority of holy Scripture. As he points out, one’s personal experience often trumps Scripture, especially among the modern spiritual warfare practitioners.

He then provides a brief overview of 2 Corinthians 10 and explains how our battle with spiritual forces has to do with defending biblical and theological truth and nothing at all with taking back physical territory allegedly held by a hierarchy of demons. He ends the first section discussing our true enemy that is a spiritually lethal combination of the Devil, the world, and our flesh.

The second part exposes the key, unbiblical practices of spiritual warfare teachers. He spends five individual chapters exploring what he calls “carnal weapons,” that he defined in the first section in his study of 2 Corinthians 10. Those five practices are praying hedges, hexes, binding Satan, rebuking Satan, and spiritual mapping. Osman thoroughly goes through each one, looking over the proof-texts spiritual warfare experts use to defend them and explains why many of them have nothing whatsoever to do with “spiritual warfare.”

Part three explains four important biblical perspectives that comes along with spiritual warfare teaching. He answers three questions, Can a Christian be demon-possesed?, Is Christ’s authority ours?, and What about exorcisms? The fourth perspective is what the Bible teaches regarding spiritual warfare and Christian sanctification and he answers the notion that demons are the source of a person’s sin problems.

Lastly in the fourth section, Osman spends a couple of chapters examining Ephesians 6 and the whole armor of God. He provides an exposition of the passage, contrasting what Paul actually taught on the subject of spiritual warfare and what spiritual warfare proponents teach. It is a well done part of the book.

In my opinion, pastor Osman has provided Christians with a valuable apologetic resource. He is training Christians how to think about spiritual warfare by addressing a topic that is pretty much avoided because no one really knows exactly how to interact with the claims put forth by a number of alleged spiritual warfare experts. His book not only debunks their assertions, but also gives the reader a much needed response in dealing with a pervasive false teaching that has infected numerous congregations. It is well worth the investment.

Let’s Talk About the Christological Hermeneutic

emmausI want to discuss a Twitter exchange I had with some Reformish acquaintances concerning the so-called Christological Hermeneutic (CH for our purposes here).

My exchange began when I had tweeted out a link to Matt Waymeyer’s blog article entitled, Luke 24 and the Christological Hermeneutic.

In his article, Waymeyer explains how the CH is a manner of interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures that seeks to find references to Christ on almost every page. “In this way, truths revealed about the Messiah in the New Testament are seen as the key to discovering the real meaning of the Old Testament Scriptures.” Proponents claim Luke 24, that tells the story of Jesus and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, is a proof-text that demonstrates the interpretative priority of the NT when reading the OT. Jesus and the Apostles, then, interpreted the OT according to the CH and set a model for the Christian church to follow.

Waymeyer then lays out three reasons why Luke 24 is not presenting for us an interpretive filter through which to read the OT,

  • There is no record of which OT texts Jesus cited when speaking to the two disciples. Advocates of the CH then wrongly assume that Jesus is referencing OT passages that do not explicitly mention Him as the true Messiah of Israel.
  • When Luke writes that, “He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures,” it is believed that “all the Scriptures” means that all the Scripture of the OT must speak of Jesus in some fashion. The words, “all the Scriptures,” however, are better understood as the entirety of the OT Scriptures entailing the three main divisions: The 5 books of Moses, the writings, and the prophets. In fact, Luke 24:44 even suggests this is what Jesus did when he stated, “all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled”
  • Luke 24:27 specifically says that Jesus spoke about “things that pertain to himself,” meaning he directed the disciple’s attention to those clear, undeniable passages that spoke of Him. Jesus was not presenting an interpretive grid that grants permission for Christians to adopt a typological and Christological hermeneutic that finds Jesus in the pages of every portion of the OT.

In response to my tweeting out that article, I had a number of fine men leave me some challenging objections. I thought I would offer a fuller response here at my blog.

– Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 10

The first couple of objectors raised 1 Corinthians 10:4 where Paul talks about Christ being the spiritual rock that followed Israel through the desert. Because he uses the word “spiritual” at least 3 times in the opening verses, it is only clear that Paul is modeling the CH for the readers of the NT.

Some thoughts in response. First, 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 is in the middle of a section of Paul’s letter in which he is telling the church at Corinth to get out of the pagan temples and to leave off attending their idol feasts. As he lays out his case as to why they should abandon the pagan festivals at Corinth, Paul explains that one of the main reasons is idolatry destroyed the people of Israel. That is his point here in chapter 10.

Next, because Paul is warning the Corinthians about their idolatry when participation in the pagan feasts and temple ceremonies, he draws their attention to the history of Israel and how their flirtation with idolatry led to their physical and spiritual demise. In the same way Israel’s idolatry ruined them, the idolatry the Corinthian Christians were engaging in at the temple festivals will ultimately bring them to ruin.

Last, the word “spiritual” does not mean Paul is spiritualizing the historical events that happened to the people of Israel. The point he is making is simply that Israel’s provision came from a spiritual source, that being God. He provided the water, the food, and the protection, pictured as a rock, and yet the children of Israel left off trusting in his provision and committed idolatry against Him.

Because Jesus is God, and in the same way He was there among the Children of Israel present in the rock that protected them, He is also among the Christians at Corinth. Paul exhorts them to recognize that truth, see the example that Israel was for them in their sin, and to flee from following their ways into idolatry.

– Romans 5:14 and Christ as a type of Adam

Another challenger pointed me to Romans 5 and Paul’s discussion about the imputation of Adam’s sin and Christ’s righteousness. Specifically I was asked a series of questions pertaining to Romans 5, “Did all die in Adam? If so when? How do we know? Was it true before Paul wrote? was Adam a type of Christ? Did he become such only at the very moment Paul penned Rom?” Let me provide a couple of responses to them.

Did all die in Adam? If so when? How do we know? Was it true before Paul wrote? – I’ll cover the first four questions quickly because they are all related to the extent of Adam’s sin. I have to confess that I am not quite sure how my inquisitor believes those question demonstrates the CH and a typological approach to reading the OT through the lens of the NT.

At any rate, we know all men died in Adam because that is what God said to Adam in the garden if he were to eat of the fruit, “In the day that you shall surely eat of it, you will die,” Genesis 2:17. Certainly my challenger does not believe the OT is vague or unclear about the extent of Adam’s sin? Paul even explains as much in Romans 5:12 when he writes how physical death is a stark indicator of the extent of Adam’s sin. The whole OT bears out that theological truth throughout its pages.

Was Adam a type of Christ? Did he become such only at the very moment Paul penned Rom? – I believe he is referencing Romans 5:14 which states, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”

The key question I have in response is, what does Paul mean when he says Adam is a type of Him who was to come? Is he modeling for us an overarching principle of the interpretative priority of the NT over the OT? I don’t think so; certainly not in the manner the CH requires. The word “type” just means “example” or “pattern,” and in the context here of Romans 5 and Paul’s teaching on imputation, he is saying that Adam imputed his sin to those who were his people, i.e. all humanity, in the same way that Jesus imputed His righteousness to those who are His people, i.e. all who believe in faith.

– All heroes in the OT were shadows of Christ. Matthew 12:40

Still another objector chimed into the conversation by tweeting out that he believed all heroes in the OT were shadows of Christ. He referenced Matthew 12:40 where Jesus states, “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Three thoughts,

First, I don’t necessarily disagree with that idea. I even noted in a previous article that I believe types of Christ exist in the OT. But those types that foreshadow the coming of Christ and the work of redemption He will accomplish are generally rather clear with a discernible anti-type in the NT. For instance, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, and David, can all be consider true types of Christ and we draw that conclusion because events in their lives clearly depict Christ’s ministry. So put another way, a student doesn’t have to go on a type hunt in order to determine if some OT person is a type of Christ.

That said, however, are all OT heroes types of Christ? Not necessarily. Gideon could be labelled a hero, but I would not necessarily call him a type of Christ. I would say the same thing regarding such individuals as Samson, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, and Isaiah for instance. And Jonah wasn’t really heroic. God had to make him go to Nineveh and while he eventually went, he grumbled all through his ministry to the people there. The only real connection to Christ is God sending a massive fish to swallow Jonah. In the same way God delivered him from his watery tomb, so too will God deliver Christ from His.

Lastly, recognizing OT types, however, is far different from a typological hermeneutic that results in the CH and the principle that gives interpretive priority to the NT over the OT. Just because we can recognize an event or person from the OT as foreshadowing the life of Christ does not mean we are to depart from a normal, historical-grammatical approach to a CH approach to the Bible that allows the NT to reinterpret and spiritualize what is recorded in the OT.

– Are We Required to Preach Christ When Preaching the OT?

One final challenger asked about preaching Christ when we preach from the OT. In other words, shouldn’t we be faithfully pointing people to the Jesus of the NT when we preach the OT? Personally, I don’t think so. Of course we should proclaim Christ when the OT passage under consideration warrants it, but that won’t be all the time. One would be hard pressed to faithfully present Christ from the story of Abimelech in Judges 9.

Now that doesn’t mean there are no spiritual truths to be found in such passages, just that it is not about Jesus. Now I understand that is like dragging nails against a chalk board in the ears of my Reformished friends because they have been fed this idea that ALL sermons, even ones from an OT narrative, must have a Christ-Gospel focus when a preacher preaches. But really? The plan of redemption is certainly an important component to the plans of God, but if the passage directs our attention to God’s sovereignty, or his justice, or His dealings with man’s sin, it would be amiss to downplay those truths just to pull together some fanciful interpretation that is supposedly Christ focused when such is not the case at all.

As a Christian, I am much more concerned about handling accurately the Word of God. I believe a Christian is gravely mishandling the Scripture when we manufacture types and shadows that don’t really exist. We not only dishonor the Lord who gave us the Bible, but we do a great disservice to those who hear us preach.

Plagiarism Hunters

plagiarismThe latest evangelical “scandal” in recent weeks has been the discovery of plagiarism on the part of New Testament scholar, Peter O’Brien.

O’Brien, who is the professor emeritus at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia, has written a number of popular evangelical commentaries. The first one I ever secured was a handsome copy of his fabulous work on Colossians from the Word series which I picked up used for like 10 bucks. He has also written on Ephesians, Philippians, and Hebrews for the Pillar NT commentary series.

His works are extremely well-done; being both well researched and crafted in a readable style that even lay-level individuals can benefit from, not to mention that he is conservative, an increasing rarity for commentary writers these days. The charge of plagiarism is almost laughable considering that O’Brien has the reputation of being an expert scholar in his field of NT studies.

According to this article, the story began over in Korea when a NT scholar published 22 commentaries in less than 7 years. Such an amazing accomplishment obviously raised red flags of suspicion. His work was challenged, and he was taken to court over the matter of plagiarism. When egregious examples were uncovered, in his defense, the Korean fellow pulled O’Brien’s commentary on Hebrews as proof that commentators often cite other commentators without attribution. In the case of O’Brien, he allegedly cited William Lane’s commentary on Hebrews in a number of places without noting it.

I agree with Stanley Porter’s take on the issue that he lays out in his article, that given the demand for Christian publishers to produce commentaries, the lack of competent scholars to write them, and the glut of commentaries already in print, a failure to properly cite sources is a real possibility among commentators. The question is whether or not it was intentional, as if the guy is a lazy, glory seeking slob, or accidental, which happens to everyone at some time or another.

In regards to O’Brien, I happen to side with the accidental conclusion. He’s gone on record insisting that any plagiarism was completely unintentional and seeks to correct it. I happen to take him at his word.

That being said, however, there is a squad of truthers who inhabit social media and the bloggosphere who insist any hint of plagiarism in any person’s work only reveals the dark heart of a cheating scumball. It doesn’t matter how small the alleged plagiarism may be or the explanation of how such horrific malfeasance could have crept in under the nose of the writer, nothing can be done except to savage the person publicly and burn his or her career to ash.

mobDoug Wilson is one who has come under the rancorous scrutiny of a particular blogger who has made destroying his ministry a white whale. Charges of being a serial plagiarist have been leveled against him. No matter how he tries to explain himself (see HERE for instance), he is considered such a villain, that his accuser is to be unquestioningly believed even though it has been soundly documented she is making stuff up against him.

Now I don’t want people to misunderstand me. I think plagiarism is bad. Even as a low level internet blogger, I do my best to cite my sources and provide link backs to individuals who may have influenced my thinking on some issue. In fact, I had an anonymous avatar plagiarize me once. The faceless entity cut and pasted an article I wrote answering a particular point of apologetics and posted it to a web forum in response to an atheist he was haggling with about the existence of God. I wouldn’t have even known about it if it wasn’t for another atheist who recognized it as my writing and alerted me to it.

I expect everyone who is a serious writer/researcher/publisher to take plagiarism seriously, primarily for the reason we should guard against any sloppy laziness on the part of writers, and to have the backs of those clever individuals who were clearly plagiarized.

But I think we need to keep in mind that when it comes to theological writing, especially commentary publishing, if there are dozens and dozens of commentaries on the book of John (and this can be over the course of centuries), how many ways can a scholar comment upon John 3:16 before he begins to repeat what others have already stated? If a scholar ever reaches a place where he is attempting to be fresh and novel with his theological commenting for the fear of a plagiarism scandal brewing around him, he is beginning to wander into dangerous territory.  The idea of “fresh” and “novel” usually gets us N.T. Wright’s views on justification and the cranks over at Biologos.

Additionally, should our immediate response to any and all instances of alleged plagiarism be to conclude that it is truly the work of a sinister scoundrel? Can no one be extended the benefit of the doubt? If they are apologetic and equally embarrassed can we just say, “Go back and fix it and be more careful the next time?”

Sadly, the one area where I believe plagiarism is an uncontained wild fire is among Bible preachers and teachers. That is because it is really easy for overworked, beleaguered pastors who don’t manage their time well to scour the online sermon prep sites in order to pull their message together. Study time is finished in a snap and the pastor can return to the more important things like hospital visitations and organizing the local shelter outreach.

I am familiar with a pastor who preached mediocre messages that felt like he hurriedly tossed them together on a Saturday afternoon. However, one Sunday the message was coherent and somewhat heartwarming. It even had an alliterated outline and a powerpoint presentation to go along with it. Soon it became noticeable to everyone when he started preaching these well crafted sermons every week both Sunday morning and evening.

Knowing what the guy’s preaching was like for a number of years before this marvelous change caused people to wonder how he found the time to spend on study, especially to add an accompanying powerpoint presentation. It wasn’t until one thoughtful congregant bothered to Google his outline and quickly uncovered the website from where he was copying his sermon.

Now discerning people, at least discerning people who have a deep, abiding love for integrity, would be aghast at such a revelation. I’ve spoken with some folks from my orbit of friends about this situation and they would insist on the pastor’s immediate dismissal for basically being an embezzling thief. Harsh.

Instead of him being confronted for thieving other people’s intellectual property, however, the greater majority of the church saw his copy-catting sermon notes as an inventive way to invest wisely in his sermon prep. He didn’t have to spend valuable time sitting at a desk all day slaving over a Bible lesson. What a tragic way for a pastor to think about ministering God’s Word.

Unfortunately, the internet, with its never ending sermon prep websites are never going away, and it will forever be a welcoming temptation. Logos is also another big culprit that adds to this problem as well. Pastors and teachers need to rediscover the seriousness of study and the impact their labor in the Word of God has in their pulpit and among the people they shepherd. That passion is only stirred when churches see the importance of sound, doctrinal preaching drawn from the exegesis of Scripture. Encourage your pastors and Sunday school teachers along those lines.

And of course, the plagiarism witch hunters aren’t helping either with their life destroying crusades. If they could take it down a notch, that’d be better for everyone all around.

The 10 Myths of Teen Dating – A Book Review

10mythsThe 10 Myths of Teen Dating: Truths your daughter needs to know to date smart, avoid disaster, and protect her future.

Daniel Anderson, MEd, with his daughter Jacquelyn Anderson, MEd

254 pages, paperback.




On occasion I receive promotional emails from publicists plugging an author and the new book he just wrote. They’ll ask me if I would be interested in a copy so I can write up a review for my tremendously high quality, but low trafficked blog. Typically I give them a pass, because the books I am offered are usually oriented toward women issues or topics I have absolutely no interest in, like red hot Amish romance novels.

Recently, however, I was contacted about a book written to debunk the myths of teen dating. My interest was stirred with that offer for a couple of reasons.

First, the book is specifically aimed at the parents of teen girls. I have two girls who will be teenagers in a few years, and any club I can obtain to beat back the hordes of hormone riddled boys intent on grabbing them by the hair and dragging them away is appreciated. And secondly, the book is advertised as helping parents navigate the dark, murky waters of teen dating where all sorts of unsuspecting peril lurks underneath the surface ready to pull a father’s little princess to the drowning depths below. So yes, obviously I have an interest.

I responded with my mailing address and promised the folks that I would read over the book and provide a review, so here we are.

The author is a fellow named Daniel Anderson, and according to the bio blurb on the back cover, he is a veteran high school teacher in Oregon who was troubled by the way teens conducted their dating lives. If the teen dating scene is anything like the various raunchy, teenage angst movies that dominated the late hours of early era HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax that I used to sneak watching as a kid, I can completely understand his concern.

His adult daughter, Jacquelyn, who is also a school teacher, participated with the writing as well. She provides her perspective and color commentary on what it was like to be raised by her parents as each dating myth is debunked.

In the introduction, Anderson further explains that over the course of his high school teaching career he watched teenagers date each other and what he saw was not pretty. He was so moved by what he was witnessing he started teaching his students about dating relationships. Eventually, he accumulated enough material that he was able to pull together the book I hold in my hands.

Anderson picks, in no particular order, what he considers the top 10 dating myths teen girls evidently struggle with. Each chapter explores and debunks one of those myths.

They are,

1) If I had a boyfriend I would be happy
2) I should trust my feelings
3) I’m in love
4) Sex will enhance my relationship
5) Love and sex are the same
6) Sex comes without consequences
7) It’s okay to break up and get back together
8) He will never hit me again
9) A rebound relationship is just what I need
10) Serial dating and living together will help me stay married

Now. Does Anderson and his daughter debunk the myths? Well, I suppose so. Each chapter is filled with lots of statistics about teen pregnancy, divorce rates after couples live together, and how premarital sex will ruin a girls life. If you are looking to get academic like information about teen dating, packaged in a readable style, the book pulls together a lot to mull over.

But honestly, any number of relationship themed books meant to address the terrible blight the American hook-up/dating culture has pushed on to the average teenager will contain similar information. Laura Schlessinger, Focus on the Family, and Family Life Today, all offer a cornucopia of books addressing how girls and guys are to navigate the teenager dating scene. I’m sort of at a loss as to what this particular book is meaning to offer that those other ones did not.

What I was expecting with this book, after receiving the promotional email discussing it, was a helpful presentation on how to navigate our teen daughters through the dating/courtship rituals while honoring Christ. At least that is what I took away from the email I received. Maybe I read too much into it.

Regrettably, I was disappointed, because the book had none of that at all. The focus was not on Christ at any point, and the Christian worldview took a backseat to the statistical presentation. In fact, the author even stated that the book would intentionally avoid focusing upon the Christian faith in his introduction under the section, “The Bible is Not Enough.” He explains how he is a Christian, but his perspective as a teacher in a public high school in the very liberal city of Portland, Oregon, provides him a unique clarity as to how the secular world views the Christian faith.

Even though he believes “the ancients” (what he calls the wisdom of the Bible) have a voice to be heard in the discussions regarding teen dating, the Bible is not enough in our modern culture. (Evidently, guys and gals were different before the 20th century, who would’ve thought!?). “I think the Christian community often believes that the word no, some extra prayers, a few sermons, and the spiritual bromide of Scripture are all that every person needs for a better life,” he writes. “What is missing from Christian writing on sex and dating,” he laments, “is scientific information and practical tools to help your daughter.” His book is designed to correct that deficiency in Christian relationship literature, or so he claims.

I am not sure what Christian books he read in research for his, but they cannot all be lacking a discussion of scientific and statistical data when it comes to relationships. He mentions Josh Harris’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye, but certainly that can’t be the only one he read?

Like I noted above, there are tons of Christian dating/relationship books on the market; and I have read over a lot of them given my circumstances raising five kids. Everyone I have read definitely employed the data-mining of statistical and scientific information interwoven with the discussion of the biblical text. I mean, Focus on the Family practically thrives on statistics about sex and dating.

As a Christian father who seeks to raise his family in the fear and admonition of the LORD, statistical and scientific data is really a secondary issue for me. I could care less how many couples who live together before marriage wind up getting divorced. What I care about is focusing my children on what God thinks about the purposes of relationships between boys and girls. I place a high premium on boys and girls dating because God places a high premium on boys and girls getting married. Sure. Getting pregnant as a teen girl has grave circumstances, but I want my sons and daughters to understand that sex outside of marriage is sin before a Holy God, not just that having sex could lead to pregnancy and messes up their lives in the future.

I thought this book was a missed opportunity. While the information presented by Anderson may be statistically scientific, and perhaps helpful, I believe the readers would had been better served if it had been interpreted and applied through a Christian worldview. Ultimately, what girls, and even the guys, need is a right relationship with the Lord. Only the Gospel can orient their hearts to think correctly about dating.

Even if a girl or guy has the best, most truthfully accurate information about busting dating myths, unless they have a desire to act upon that information, it is pointless to know. Only a spiritual change can apply that knowledge correctly, and the means for obtaining that spiritual change was completely ignored in the pages of this book.