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

and

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. Its 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 up 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 need to be 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.

Dear Jamin,

lucyJamin Hubner offers his advice to a fan.

Apparently, a tender soul stumbled across some disturbing information that contradicts Jamin’s anti-Dispensational meta-narrative.

He asks,

Hey Jamin,

I have recently wanted to become more familiar with the subject of dispensationalism vs. covenant theology. I am currently reading Dispensationalism by Ryrie and have Michael Horton’s book on Covenant Theology (if you have a better recommendation I will purchase it). As I am downloading your lectures on apologetics, I decided to check for articles on this topic and came across your article Where Dispensationalism Came From. In Ryrie’s book he mentions the dispensational scheme that Jonathan Edwards (not that Edwards was necessarily a dispensationalist) put forth in his work “A Compleat History or Survey of All the Dispensations”. Would this not pre-date Darby? As I have not read this work by Edwards, perhaps I am missing the context, but Edwards’ dispensational scheme has some similarities to the seven dispensations espoused by modern day dispensationalists.

In response to this specific question, Jamin replies,

Dispensationalists typically play the pre-Darby card in an effort to justify their system, but is rarely an adequate appeal. The idea is to make associations and draw similarities between Darby and previous thinkers (e.g. Ireneaus, Edwards, some Reformers, etc.) to say Dispensationalism goes back (for some, they would say to the Apostles, while others would say back to the Reformers, etc.). But in reality, the thinkers are simply not teaching Darbyism. Resemblances, vague parallels and similarities are not enough to dismount Darby as essentially the Father of Dispensationalism (nor dismount Scofield as perhaps the chief popularizer). But that’s not to say we shouldn’t acknowledge that Darby had previous influences and that attempts have been made to try and systematize redemptive history, address the application of biblical law, and solve various hermeneutical issues. Certainly there have been such attempts.

Yes Edwards pre-dates Darby (Edwards died in 1758, Darby in 1882). Edwards talked about dispensations – as did about any non-dispensational theologian during the Reformation to Modern Age.

Jamin is one of those YRR guys who counts himself liberated from the shackles of fundamentalist Dispensationalism. Like many of his youthful “born-again” Reformed ilk blogging these days, he tosses out the bath water with the baby.

It isn’t that he was just taught wrongly about Dispensationalism. It is that Dispensationalism is cultic heresy of the rankest order that must be destroyed. Of course, Jamin doesn’t necessarily speak against Dispensationalism with such warlike “take-no-prisoners” language. Rather, he paints Dispensational adherents as a bunch of biblically illiterate dullards enslaved to their traditions.

One of the theological urban myths Jamin has latched onto is the idea that Dispensationalism is erroneous because it has its origins with J.N. Darby in the 1800s. This can be a rather problematic claim, especially if it can be shown there were pastors and theologians who held to Dispensational ideas who predate Darby.

Additionally, Jamin thinks Covenant Theology has a “trail of blood” like lineage that can be traced all the way back to the Apostles. This of course is wishful historical revisionism and should be beneath a guy who hosts a so-called peer-reviewed theological journal.

I’ll consider three problems with Jamin’s response.

First, the historical reality is that Covenant Theology, as an organized theological system, is really just a couple of hundred years older than Dispensationalism, so one can say it is just as “new.” The modern form had it’s beginnings with the emergence of Calvinism. Dutch theologian, Johannes Cocceius, is often designated as the founder of Covenant Theology, publishing his work on Federalism in 1648 after the WCF was hammered out. He is basically the “Darby” of his day.

Additionally, even though there may had been first generation Reformers who laid some ground work for CT, like Caspar Olevianus and Zacharius Ursinus, it was the second, third, and even later generations of Reformers like William Ames and Hermann Witsius who began developing Covenant Theology as we know it today, as they built upon Cocceius’s previous work.

And if we are gonna get a bit closer to home for Jamin, Reformed Baptist articulation of CT came nearly 100 years or more after the credo-Reformed articulation.

Secondly, Jamin is just as guilty of playing a “pre-Darby” card, or a “pre-Cocceius” card, and he is mistaken about that card. While it is true certain seed elements of Covenant Theology were written about by pre-Reformed theologians, it is just as true certain seed elements of Dispensationalism was mentioned by similar writers, if not, in some cases, the exact same writers.

Ryrie devotes an entire chapter to this, but Jamin, and his inquirer, over look it. Moreover, Jamin also misrepresents what Ryrie says on this matter. Even Ryrie is aware of over eager Dispensationalists who exaggerate the pre-Darby historical evidence. He writes,

The first strawman is to say that dispensationalists assert that the system was taught in postapostolic times. Informed dispensationalists do not claim that. They recognize that, as a system, dispensationalism was largely formulated by Darby, but the outlines of a dispensationalist approach to the Scriptures are found much earlier. They only maintain that certain features of what eventually developed into dispensationalism are found in the teachings of the early church. [Ryrie, 62].

We can say the same thing about Covenant Theology.

And then third, I am made to wonder if Jamin has even seriously read Ryrie’s book or just merely second or third hand critiques of it. If he has, he didn’t read closely, nor does his inquirer, because the “John Edwards” they mention is not the Jonathan Edwards most people know who preached “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and was instrumental in the First Great Awakening as Jamin suggests.

The John Edwards in question, as far as Ryrie is concerned, was a Calvinistic minister in the Church of England who lived from 1637 to 1716. He published two volumes entitled A Compleat History or Survey of All the Dispensations, and as Ryrie states, the purpose of his books was “to display all the Transactions of Divine Providence relating to the Methods of Religion, from the Creation to the end of the World, from the first chapter of Genesis to the last of the Revelation.” [Ryrie, 66].

In order to keep this anonymous inquirer from being grossly ill-informed on the matters of Dispensational theology, I would refer him to my post highlighting some essential works in Dispensational thinking. Though Ryrie is an obvious choice with understanding background material, there are others who can also offer a fuller perspective on these matters.

The Protocols of the Elders of Dispensationalism

Jamin Hubner is becoming like a YRR version of Jack Chick, but without the funny comics. Whereas Jack Chick attributes all the ills in the Christian church to Roman Catholicism, Jamin attributes them to Dispensationalism. All he needs is an ex-Dispensationalist, Alberto-like whistleblower.

Jamin writes,

Fred mentions a “Dispensational conspiracy influencing American political policy regarding Israel ” that I supposedly believe in. I don’t believe in any “conspiracy,” but if Fred is seriously suggesting that the movement of Dispensationalism has had no impact on US foreign policy with Israel in the last 60 years, he is gravely mistaken and in ignorance of the facts (I would refer you to Marsden’s works for historical analysis on American culture and Dispensationalism, and Meirsheimer’s [sic] The Israel Lobby for at least some introductory observations on a variety of related issues; there’s more sources than these but I can’t remember them at the moment).

For what it’s worth, if Jamin really wants to understand the reason for the recent criticism he complains about in his post, he needs to re-read that paragraph. It’s this sort of borderline, shoot-from-the-hip, crackpot statement that gets him into trouble.

The fact of the matter is that Jamin has such a deep animosity toward Dispensationalism that it has blinded his better judgment as an up-and-coming apologist.

Lookit. If you’re going take upon yourself the role of an internet apologist, to the point of even establishing an on-line, theological journal complete with technical rules for contributors, I guess I am expecting a bit more academic objectivity in the articles you post disagreeing with various points of view. As a reader, I would expect more from a guy who is allowed to post on the blog of a ministry that has worked hard over the years to cultivate a respectable reputation in regards to such matters.

Would it be entirely fair to cite the National Council of Church’s 2007 resolution against “Christian Zionism” and claim it is representative of what motivates Jamin’s theology against Israel? Implementing Dispensationalists in a Zionist conspiracy to manipulate American foreign policy falls in a similar category.

Consider Jamin’s two examples:

First he notes the George Marsden’s historical analysis of Dispensationalism as proof of what he claims. But searching Marsden’s three major works on American Fundamentalism, Fundamentalism and American Culture, Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, and Reforming Fundamentalism, no where in any of those works does he mention Dispensationalism’s influence on foreign policy regarding Israel. Marsden points out Dispensationalism’s attempts at social reforms in the U.S. and against the rising tide of Communism in Russia during the earlier part of the 20th century, but nothing specifically in regards to Israel.

Now. Certainly there have been individual Dispensationalists and Dispensational oriented ministries that have attempted to lobby on behalf of the State of Israel, but I don’t see their actions as a bad thing. It’s no more a bad thing than Christian ministries lobbying against gay marriage or for homeschooling rights.

Jamin’s second citation, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, is one of those examples of sloppy argumentation and research against Dispensationalism that I had mentioned on a previous occasion. I had never heard of the book, so I had to go to faithful old wack-a-pedia to find some information on it, and what I found was troubling. I was especially troubled an alleged, up-and-coming Christian apologist would appeal to it uncritically as a reliable source for his position, which makes me wonder about his discernment in these matters.

It is one thing to cite from the book; it is quite another to ignore the crushing weight of criticism the two authors have received for their theory. If people like Christopher Hitchens, George Shultz, and a host of other similar “academics,” including moonbat Noam Chomsky, find their work severely lacking and folks like Jimmy Carter, David Duke, and Osama bin Laden give it high praise, it may behoove Jamin to at least take note that a bias may be involved here.

My advice to Jamin if he wishes to continue his crusade against Dispensationalism is to actually deal honestly with what the theology teaches. Stop singling out and focusing on hyper-Dispensationalism as if he thinks it is a theological aberration of what is otherwise considered sound theology. Jamin puts the garden variety Dispensationalism in the same category of error as the hyper variety, so he needs to discard the façade. He doesn’t care for either one. But that is okay. Just refer to my post from last year to gather reliable resources in your study.

Moreover, I hope Jamin reads a bit more widely in history as to Christians and the Restoration of the Jews to the land of Palestine. Surprisingly, the wack-a-pedia article on Christian Zionism is somewhat good as it lays down the historical background. It is important to note that what is now derogatorily labeled “Christian Zionism” was called the Christian Restoration movement in the 18th and 19th centuries. This is an area Jamin needs to evaluate, because something tells me Increase Mather and Ezra Stiles could hardly be implicated in a Dispensational, Zionist cabal.

Israel and the Language of Expansion

What really is at the heart of Jamin’s views of Israel, the modern state of Israel, and whether Israel can lay claim upon the Holy Land? Honestly, it is how one understands the place of Israel in God’s entire revelation.

Is “Israel” of the OT the same as the “Church” in the NT? Was God only concerned with a godly “remnant” in the OT and not with the nation as a whole dwelling in the physical promised land in a geopolitical kingdom? Does NT fulfillment cause us to have “greater light” on God’s purpose with Israel so that now, because of Christ, we re-interpret OT promises of fulfillment made to Israel in light of the NT Church?

In other words, it is a matter of the hermeneutics one brings to the texts pertaining to the promises given to Israel and how we understand those promises being fulfilled. Does the language of Scripture insist we must expand the OT promises of fulfillment to mean merely the NT Church, or will those promises of Israel being in the Holy Land in a geopolitical kingdom certainly be fulfilled in a real, tangible way?

I have explored this topic in previous posts from the last couple of years in my studies of eschatology. Other things began to occupy my time and I dropped off from my series on premillennialism, which i hope to take up again soon.

Additionally, Paul Henebury has been exploring the topic of Israel and expansionist language at his blog and has written some articles worth one’s time reading. Previous articles in his series are linked at the top of the article.

Questions for An Anti-Dispensationalist

Jamin Hubner makes an absurd comparison.

Talking about the history of the state of Israel with Zionist Dispensationalists … is as useful as talking about the history of the Bible with King James Onlyists.

Zionist Dispensationalists are the equivalent of KJV-onlyists? Really? Being one who once consider himself a “KJV-onlyist,” I take it that Jamin believes Zionist Dispensationalists are of the same mind-set as Gail Riplinger, Peter Ruckman, Sam Gipp, Jack Chick, Douglass Stauffer, David Daniels, David Cloud. Individuals who cling to a particular view of textual criticism against all sound fact. One prone to historical revisionism and conspiracy theories involving clandestine heretics secretly altering the truth.

In the same manner Zionist Dispensationalists are prone to historical revisionism and conspiracy theory. They are thoughtless, believing a particularly view of biblical prophecy and the historical outworkings of that prophecy against all sound fact. Worse still, their intellectually blind allegiance is driven by a soul-damning theology.

With that in mind, I have some questions for Jamin:

What exactly is a “Zionist Dispensationalist?” [here after, “ZD.”]

Are ZDs to be distinguished from Zionists?

Are ZDs to be distinguished from Dispensationalists?

Does Jamin believe all Zionists to be Dispensationalists?

Does he believe all Dispensationalists are Zionists?

Would Dennis Prager, who supports the state of Israel, be a “ZD”?

Are all Christians who support the modern state of Israel considered ZDs?

Would any Bible-believing evangelicals who believe there is prophetic significance to the existence of the state of Israel be considered ZDs? Why or why not?

Would those evangelicals who lived prior to the 20th century, before the state of Israel, and who believed in a restoration for the nation of Israel be considered ZDs?

Would J.C. Ryle be a ZD?

Would Jonathan Edwards be a ZD?

Would Charles Spurgeon be a ZD?

Would Robert Murray M’Cheyne be a ZD?

Would Charles Hodge be a ZD?

Can a person not be a ZD and still support the modern state of Israel?

Can a person recognize that the Palestinians are worthy of condemnation on many levels and not be a ZD?

I’ll be curious to read Jamin’s answers if he so chooses to respond.

The Three Simple Questions on the State of Israel

Jamin Hubner tells us again how uber-Reformed he truly is. With his latest series of posts, he attempts to uncover the political machinations Dispensationalism has had upon American foreign policy in the Middle East.

I don’t wish to try and untangle the facts from the leftist propaganda Jamin has put forth for his argument. I do wish, however, to address his challenge he has offered in the form of three questions.

1. Is it even possible for the modern-day nation of Israel to do anything worthy of condemnation?

2. And have they done anything that is worthy of condemnation in the past?

3. If they have, would it not be helpful to acknowledge and understand those events before blindly conceding to every effort to “support Israel”? (Because, if my neighbor commits sin, I don’t want to be responsible for having helped that sin to occur. Wouldn’t you agree? Or is present-day Israel incapable of doing something wrong as a national entity?)

Before I will respond, I will say this: I believe Jamin did himself a disservice when he chose to cut off commenting on his blog, thus isolating himself from any thoughtful criticism from well-meaning bloggers. These challengers could hardly be labeled “trolls” and “hacks.”

As an aspiring internet apologist, I believe this was a bad mistake on Jamin’s part. I have benefited greatly from the various critics who have wandered onto my blog and challenged my arguments. Not only have they sharpened my thinking, the smarter critics have helped me evaluate my arguments and caused me to refine them. Atheist trolls, for example, may be annoying, and take a bit of time to answer, but they can be helpful in a number of ways in these regards.

At any rate, on a previous occasion, Jamin had a lot of the interaction with Steve Hays on the question of Israel and the Palestinians and their responses to one another were played out on the front pages of their individual blogs. (See TF’s review of the exchange).

I think it is important to note that Jamin has an ax to grind with Dispensationalism. His current posts attacking Zionists and uncritically retelling the leftist narrative on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and implicating Dispensational conspiracy influencing American political policy regarding Israel is a shining example of Jamin’s ax.

Regrettably, this blind spot prevents him from interacting with meaningful Dispensational positions on the modern state of Israel, Israel and the NT Church, and Israel’s future restoration, veering him off into a ditch of sloppy strawman argumentation and misrepresentation. Moreover, uncritically citing left leaning “evangelical” NT scholars, like Gary Burge, as one of your sources, also doesn’t help your credibility.

Now with that being stated, I’ll offer my own “Dispensational” answers to his three questions.

1. Is it even possible for the modern-day nation of Israel to do anything worthy of condemnation?

Yes, certainly it is possible. Jamin, I guess, thinks all Dispensationalists believe the current State of Israel is above any condemnation for actions the government may take against their enemies. Does he really believe John Hagee speaks for all Dispensationalists who support Israel? This is just fallacious reasoning.

I recognize, as the Scripture teaches, that Israel, the people of God, will experience a future restoration in a promised kingdom; however, they are currently in a state of apostasy. Paul says as much in Romans 11:7-10. I believe an initial fulfillment of Ezekiel’s dry bone prophecy has taken place with the Jews returning to their promised land. Even Reformed guys who see no “future” kingdom for Israel in a millennial kingdom, cannot just dismiss the unquestionable and unique circumstances that has taken place in the land of Israel the last century or so.

Yet, in spite of that unique history, this does not mean they are in a right relationship with God at this point. They won’t be, at least I believe they won’t, until Christ their true Messiah returns (Zechariah 12:10ff.).

2. And have they done anything that is worthy of condemnation in the past?

I am sure they have, though no immediate examples come to mind. Just like there have been things Americans have done that we could perhaps be condemned for. Say for example our country’s involvement with slavery and the deplorable way our government has treated the Indian nations, essentially “enslaving” them to total government dependency on reservations.

But the fact that America has done things in history past that is worthy of condemnation does not mean we need to halt the American experiment and adopt dull-minded, European socialism as our political worldview.

In the same way, the Israeli government has done things worthy of condemnation, but does that mean we dismiss the threat Palestinian Muslims are against the Jews in Israel? In spite of those things Israel could be condemned for, they pale in comparison to those things the PLO-Hamas and the leaders of the Palestinian movement can be condemned for. For instance, the last I saw, no Jews were teaching their three year-olds to be suicide bombers against Arabs.

3. If they have, would it not be helpful to acknowledge and understand those events before blindly conceding to every effort to “support Israel”? (Because, if my neighbor commits sin, I don’t want to be responsible for having helped that sin to occur. Wouldn’t you agree? Or is present-day Israel incapable of doing something wrong as a national entity?)

I am not really sure how to answer this last question. It’s almost superfluous. The idea of “condemnation” begs a question: How is Jamin defining it? What does it mean “to be condemned?” Is Jamin saying that if Israelis have done some terrible things against civilian Palestinians, their overall defense of their country and people in a sea of rabid, Islamic Jew haters who want to wipe them off the face of the earth is some how questionable? Then we can no longer support them as a nation? Or perhaps he thinks this is some big theodicy for Dispensationalism?

I am all for acting neighborly, but if acting neighborly mean I have to become a martyr, to paraphrase what the Israeli prime minister recently said in a speech to the UN: “I would rather have the bad press today, than an eulogy tomorrow.”

Okay. I have answered his questions. Are my replies sufficient? I don’t expect him to like my answers, but he has been answered.

Dispensationalism in Translation

Jamin Hubner continues to dabble with internet apologetics. Never missing an opportunity to bash dispensationalism, he writes,

The reason the word “dispensation” doesn’t appear in newer translations is for the same reason we don’t see alot of the same words: there are better translations. And in the case of οἰκονομίαν there is “stewardship” or “economy.” But, I guess it makes sense: if you want to prove Dispensationalism, you had better use a translation that contains the word “dispensation,” regardless if that translation is really the “best” or not.

The subject of Jamin’s post this time is KJV-onlyism and hyper-dispensationalism. It is true that hyper-dispensationalists, as a group, are for the most part KJV-only. Most folks, however, are probably not aware of this fact. Hyper-dispensationalists are a fringy bunch of wackos that normal Christians these days have never encountered. Their churches are small and non-influential. It would be like me saying that the New Wine Apostolic Pentecostal Church or the Strict Baptist “Gospel Mission” Churches are KJV-only.

But Jamin’s target happens to be much larger. He’s aiming at Dispensational theology as a whole. While it is true all Dispensationalists would agree with Jamin that hyper-dispensationalists are fringy and teach theological error, much in the same way all serious minded Calvinists believe hyper-Calvinists are fringy and teach theological error, Jamin, however, thinks ALL dispensationalists are fringy and teach theological error.

I reckon this is a typical perspective from a young man who is still in his “cage stage” as a new Reformed Covenantalist.

But moving back to the citation at hand. Does one need for the Bible to say “dispensation” (in this case, the KJV particularly) in order to believe the Bible teaches dispensationalism? Is a modern Bible translation the “silver” bullet for Dispensational theology?

First, the English word “dispensation” is transliterated from the Latin, “dispensatio” which means exactly what Jamin says it means, “an economy,” “stewardship,” “management.” Though I would agree that a clearer, English translation of the original oikonomos and oikonomia would be “economy” or “stewardship,” that still does not explain what Paul meant by the use of those terms. This is something Jamin doesn’t explain. In other words, one does not need the English word “dispensation” in his Bible (i.e. the KJV) in order to believe Scripture teaches the theological concepts of “dispensationalism.”

A few quotes may help clear up some misconceptions on Jamin’s part:

From Craig Blasing’s article in Progressive Dispensationalism, 108, 109, 111:

The apostle Paul uses both oikonomos and oikonomia to describe God’s relationship with the world. Most of these uses refer to Paul’s own office as an apostle of Jesus Christ. God, the Master of the world, entrusted to Paul, along with others, the apostolic responsibility of proclaiming a new revelation. Paul referred to this revelation as the mystery (or mysteries) of God and Christ …

this use of the word dispensation refers to a new order, a new arrangement in the overall relationship between God and humankind. …

The relationship between God and human being should be thought of as a dispensation, a management relationship which He has instituted. …

As Paul discusses this new dispensation in his letters, three things stand out about it: (1) It is structured by certain features of a new covenant which God inaugurated to fulfill and replace the covenant He made with Israel at Sinai; (2) no distinction of race, gender, or class are being drawn in the bestowal of blessings from this new covenant – they are given to all who believe in Jesus Christ; and (3) the new dispensation is being revealed in the community that gathers in the name of Jesus Christ, the church…

… [B]y using the word dispensation (oikonomia), the Bible presents a way of understanding God’s relationship with human beings in terms of arrangement (dispensations) which He has instituted in the course of history. He manages the way in which human beings are to relate to Him and to one another through these arrangements which He has set up. The church is the new dispensation which God has organized through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. It differs in important respects from the dispensation that was in place prior to Christ. And yet it is not wholly different. This dispensation is the fulfillment of the previous one, and as we will see, it looks forward to a future arrangement in which all the promises and covenant of God will be completely and eternally fulfilled.

And then from Rolland McCune, who holds a more classic understanding of Dispensationalism, from his, A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity, vol 1, 107:

…dispensations are “distinguishable economies.” That is, there are some features in each particular economy that make it sufficiently different from the previous or following economies. The feature creating such distinctions is revelation, specifically progressive revelation. In other words, not all revelation calls forth a new economy. …. these various economies with their progressive revelation are part of “God’s purpose.” It is God who charts the course for history, dispensing new revelation and inaugurating new economies according to His own will.

So how exactly does re-translating the word “dispensation” dismantle Dispensational theology?

Article XII and The Age of the Earth

In this post over at AOMIN, Jamin Hubner attempts to clarify the doctrine of inerrancy with some liberal oriented Hebrew scholar guy.

One section from Jamin’s corrective caught my attention:

So, what does the Chicago statement on Inerrancy have to do with being a young-earth creationist? As I’ve pointed out numerous times before (via blog/podcast), this is a common error of association where critics of inerrancy either conflate the Chicago statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978) with the Chicago statement on Biblical Hermeneutics (1978-1982) and assume that article XXII in the latter somehow requires YECism, or, it is simply assumed that all Chicago-inerrantists are YECists. Both assumptions are false . Nothing in the Inerrancy document requires being a young-earther, nor requires a person to agree with everything Gleason Archer has to say. The Chicago statement on inerrancy also doesn’t require “sweating bullets thinking about the high number of those said to have left Egypt with Moses.” [emphasis mine]

I have previously tussled with Jamin over the disconnect that exists between his defense of inerrancy and his disdain for young earth creationism.

It’s weird, really.

I find it perplexing how groups of evangelicals who claim to have a strong commitment to presuppositional apologetics, confessional, Reformed theology, and historic Christianity, would be so out-of-touch with their inconsistency on this matter.

Usually the main response by these old earth enablers is to say, “Well, B.B. Warfield (or theologian “X”) didn’t believe an old earth conflicted with inerrancy. Are you telling me this theological giant was inconsistent?”

Yes, I am.

I’ll state it again: YES, I AM.

Let me go back and point out some things from Jamin’s comment and show you why I say that.

He asks,

So, what does the Chicago statement on Inerrancy have to do with being a young-earth creationist?

He’s certainly correct to imply that the framers of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy [CSBI] didn’t intend to defend YEC or OEC with their comment. That much is true. But their use of language is such when defining their understanding of the Bible’s historical accuracy and truth claims about origins, that to be an affirmer of inerrancy as outlined and defended by the CSBI, as well as adhering to OEC or theistic evolution, is woefully inconsistent, as I will explain in a moment.

continuing along,

As I’ve pointed out numerous times before (via blog/podcast), this is a common error of association where critics of inerrancy either conflate the Chicago statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978) with the Chicago statement on Biblical Hermeneutics (1978-1982) and assume that article XXII in the latter somehow requires YECism, or, it is simply assumed that all Chicago-inerrantists are YECists. Both assumptions are false .

The CSBI can be read HERE and the CSBH can be read HERE (with commentary by old earth creationist, Norman Geisler).

Perhaps there are people who “conflate” the two documents. What I have done, however, is to direct folks to the CSBI, article 12, that reads,

WE AFFIRM that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

WE DENY that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

Article 22 under the CSBH is something of a supplement to this point. It reads,

WE AFFIRM that Genesis 1-11 is factual, as is the rest of the book.

WE DENY that the teachings of Genesis 1-11 are mythical and that scientific hypotheses about earth history or the origin of humanity may be invoked to overthrow what Scripture teaches about creation.

I believe both of those statements are clear and concise. How anyone can claim they leave open the possibility of a deep time view of Genesis is bizarre. Unless our interpretation of language has so succumbed to postmodern dribble our words no longer have any real meaning.

Moving along to Jamin’s concluding comment,

Nothing in the inerrancy document requires being a young-earther…

Maybe he means to say it doesn’t require adhering to YEC because the framers didn’t come out and say “Believing in inerrancy requires you to be an young-earther.” But the principles of inerrancy they defend certainly demand a commitment to YEC if one is to affirm the CSBI and remain consistent.

The reason is quite simple: While I heartily agree that Genesis isn’t a “science text book,” it most certainly is a “history text book.” Genesis 1 and 2 records the real, factual history of God Almighty creating the heavens and the earth.

According to the language of Genesis 1, God did His creating in the space of 6 days. Furthermore, if we take the genealogies of Genesis 4, 5, 10 and 11 seriously as a historical, chronological record (and there is no exegetical reason why we shouldn’t), God’s historical act of creation took place around 6,000 years ago.

So, as a Christian convinced of, and committed to, the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture, I understand Genesis 1 to be revealing factually accurate history. It is, as article 12 affirms, free from falsehood, fraud and deceit.

This means God isn’t accommodating a “non-scientific” minded people by giving them “theological” stories that have no meaning in reality. Moreover, Jesus and Paul didn’t deceive Christians when they affirmed the history of Genesis in the NT. And, our understanding of creation (and how to read Genesis) didn’t come to full flower UNTIL the 1800s when “science” broke through primitive, religious dogma.

On the contrary, modern-day scientism presents an alternate view of history that undeniably contradicts everything recorded in the first chapter of Genesis. The proponents of this alternate view insist the Scripture is, in the record of creation, filled with falsehoods, fraud, and deceit.

How then can one affirm an inerrant Bible, yet attempt to harmonize two entirely different views of creation history? It’s impossible; and it is inconsistent to what article 12 of the CSBI affirms.

With All Due Respect, Hubner’s Latest, Triumphalistic Screed Against Rosenberg is Just Lame

Jamin Hubner has turned his guns towards dispensationalists:
(Cross posted at AOMin)

The unsound theology of historic Dispensationalism has produced many bad fruits. There’s the rotten apple of eisegesis forged by the faulty hermeneutical principles of unnecessary literalism. The foul-smelling equivocation of cosmic escapism with the gospel. And the sour notion of two separate destinies for Israel and the church, a seven year tribulation, the re-institution of sacrifices, and so on and so forth.

Man, Oh man. Unsound theology? Eisesgesis? Unnecessary literalism? Sour notions? So on and so forth? Them dispensationalists sound like they’re trouble.

He goes on to describe one of the rottenest dispensational fruits of all:

But there’s one particularly bad fruit that stems from the large tree of non-covenantal – and often anti-covenantal – thinking: hard-line Christian Zionism.

I don’t think Mahmoud Abbas could have said it better.

What stirred up Jamin that he felt it necessary to expose the dark underbelly of dispensationalists?

Joel Rosenberg wrote a post.

Yep. Joel Rosenberg, political analyst and popular novelist, who happens to adhere to dispensational beliefs.

The problem, however, is two-fold: A) Joel Rosenberg didn’t advocate for Christian Zionism in his post. He pointed out the wrongheaded statement made by the Vatican that Israel is no longer the chosen people of God, a sentiment Jamin happens to share as a Reformed covenantalist guy: and B) It’s Joel Rosenberg, political analyst and popular novelist.

First, if one were to read the post that Rosenberg wrote for David Wheaton’s Christian Worldview website, all he did was to note what a Vatican synod stated regarding the current day Israeli and Palestinian conflict. The synod officially proclaimed pretty much the same thing every wacky Jew hating leftist says about Israel: they should placate the Palestinians and give up territory they took after (and let’s be honest here) Muslim hordes attacked them. No mention about the Palestinian authorities abusing and killing their own people, nor them running their territory like a concentration camp.

Anyhow, Rosenberg turned to Scripture and briefly, like in 5 or 6 short paragraphs, explained what the Bible says about the Jews and God’s love for Israel. Now I guess if you are a chest thumping young Reformer guy wanting to make a name for himself, you could construe a few brief comments to mean Christian Zionism, and accuse the author of equating biblical Israel to the modern Israeli state. No matter, because what Jamin did was to merely use the post to launch into criticisms against the dispensational view of Israel and the Church.

Which brings me to my second point: it’s Joel Rosenberg. You know, the political analyst and novelist. It’s like shotgun blasting baby ducks in a pond. Could he had not picked a more worthy dispensational opponent to examine? Someone who has actually written at theological length on the subject of Israel, the Church, and dispensationalism. Barry Horner (and he isn’t even dispensational)? Robert Saucy? Harold Hoehner? Instead he goes to a popular, Christian novelist? That would be like me being appalled at something Charles Stanley wrote against Calvinists and then launching into a rant against Arminians. C’mon.

When I left a comment at his blog pointing out the disingenuous use of Rosenberg as an example of dispensational theology, Jamin retorted that he doesn’t need to be familiar with what current day dispensationalists write and his lack of familiarity with their theology is irrelevant to the overall arguments he was making. Okay, I guess. My follow-up comment got deleted. And I thought I was nice. Pointed, but nice. I think the last time I was deleted was when I was poking at some KJV-only folks. Oh, well.

If he chooses to remain safely in his Reformed, covenantal bubble that’s his business. But it will only make any criticisms against dispensationalists appear to be petty and lame.