And Another Thing…

This Post grew out of a response I gave to a question posited by “Bob” in a thread on Toby’s Classical Presbyterian Blog.


Considering a good 90% of modern American Christians are at the least Semi-Pelagian you have quite a question that I believe needs to be SERIOUSLY considered and prayed about in a manner befitting Gethsemane. We fret over (albeit very serious as well) sexuality issues while allowing many of our “evangelical” conservative brethren to preach a gospel of Works Salvation that is in many ways more endangering to the future and health of Christendom than the ills of Liberal social ethics. We tolerate the abominable teachings of Finney, Graham, and others while fighting the onslaught of liberalism in a separate arena. Both problems, Arminianism and Liberalism, ultimately are cut from the same cloth hermenuetically. They each want to place the value of Salvation upon the unworthy shoulders of beings that cannot bear the weight of their own sin. Whether in Finney’s theology (see an excellent critique here) that weight is paid by generic “good works” or Liberalism’s “Social Gospel” salvation, which like Finney, comes to embrace Process Theology (a modern-day heresy in its own right) and the idea that Christ’s death and resurrection is not enough for salvation but merely places one in the position to move in the direction of salvation by checking off various benchmarks on the way to earning a place in the kingdom through various “good works”.

The point here is that while it is good that “evangelicals” are fighting the false diversity of Liberal social ethics at the same time they are no better if they deny Sola Fide in the process. To paraphrase something I heard Michael Horton say one time on the White Horse Inn it strikes me as odd that a term like “evangelicalism” can encompass such a broad spectrum of people to include both Benny Hinn and R.C. Sproul who could not be farther away systematically if they tried but are seen as the same because of their shared views on a very narrow slice of theological pie. My Reformed brethren we have to be careful with whom we lie down with and cast our arm around to win secular political battles when in doing so we put ourselves in danger of losing the Kingdom entirely.

Continuing my Walk

For the second installment of my walk of discernment I would like to highlight two past posts I have made on “Adam”. They are not that old so some of you have already read them, but they serve our purpose well.

I thought a nice meaty topic would be in order so I want to discuss an issue that is bearing its head among colleagues and friends here at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. That issue, as one can tell from the title, is whether or not Adam and Eve were actual beings, the Garden ever actually existed, and does “Original Sin” necessitate an “Original Sinner”? These are of course not new topics and though at first glance may seem to be third order worries I however take the position that without an actual Adam there would be no need for an actual Christ. So one could say that I hold this argument to be much more than a simple third order concern.

Why may you ask are people even doubting Adam’s reality? Does not Paul in Romans 5:12 say that all sin came into the world through one man? Jesus himself refers to Adam and Eve in Matthew 19:4,5 not to mention Luke 3 records Adam as being in his geneology. Calvin in his commentary on the Pentateuch recalls that:

So God created man The reiterated mention of the image of God is not a vain repetition. For it is a remarkable instance of the Divine goodness which can never be sufficiently proclaimed. And, at the same time, he admonishes us from what excellence we have fallen, that he may excite in us the desire of its recovery.*

Or Abraham Kuyper:

Like Job, we ought to feel and to acknowledge that in Adam you and I are created; when God created Adam He created us; in Adam’s nature He called forth the nature wherein we now live. Gen. i. and ii. is not the record of aliens, but of ourselves—concerning the flesh and blood which we carry with us, the human nature in which we sit down to read the Word of God.

Or A.W. Pink:

Now, strictly speaking, there are only two men who have ever walked this earth which were endowed with full and unimpaired responsibility, and they were the first and last Adam’s. The responsibility of each of the rational descendants of Adam, while real, and sufficient to establish them accountable to their Creator is, nevertheless, limited in degree, limited because impaired through the effects of the Fall.

Or Charles Hodge:

We are inherently depraved, and therefore we are involved in the guilt of Adam’s sin.

So here we have Scripture, greats of the Reformation, and contemporary scholars all pointing to a real Adam. So why do Orthodox people seem inclined to accept that Adam was a real being but we of 2007 seem not to think it either necessary or true? Is it because these old white men did not have access to “knowledge” that we have today and if they just knew about textual criticism, historical criticism, literary criticism, grammatical criticism, and J, E, P, and D then they would also see the “mythical” properties of the creation text? Well would Calvin change his mind on the necessity of Adam’s fall for the reality of Christ’s death if he knew of the Yahwist? The easy answer is to say that proponents of the allegory hypothesis are so taken by accommodation with the sciences that their theistic evolutionary stance forces them to concede that no “Adam” ever existed, regardless of what this position does to their theology, because science has proved Homo Sapiens developed independently. But is this answer sufficient? Is it just simple to say that those who hold there is no Adam because of the supposed inconsistencies in the Hebrew and the alleged “two creations” are “wrong” without delving deeper into the questions behind this stance?

What do you think? Does a Christ automatically support an Adam? Or do we think that the story of Creation, without an actual Adam, is a proper myth that helps us and the early Israelites, Jesus, and the Apostles understand our current predicament and that an actual Adam is not required for the Cross?

*-All quotes taken from


To continue the conversation about a literal Adam a little further let us examine how not having a “real” Adam destroys the need for an actual Christ. Those of you who do not believe in a physical Adam as expressed in the beginning chapters of Genesis need to reconcile how Christ, who Paul explicitly says in 1st Corinthians 15:42-49 is the second Adam, can be the so-called second of something that did not previously exist? Or put in other words how Adam being a metaphor calls for a Christ to die for a fake rebellion.

I think those of you who deny Adam’s reality do not truly comprehend how much the idea of there being no Adam affects the rest of Scripture. It would be like taking away the opening chapter of a novel and expecting to be able to understand the rest of the story. Someone who describes the creation text as myth or folklore must analyze what this does not only to the history of God’s relationship to Israel but to their Christology. Because not only does the non-existence of Adam necessitate that God created the world sinful and evil but it requires that Jesus’ death on the cross is an action that resolves God’s mistake in making an already fallen creation to himself. Not that Jesus was reconciling us, who share in Adam’s rebellion, to God but that God was reconciling his own blunder with himself. Michal Horton in his work Putting Amazing Back Into Grace quotes John Calvin who says,”The depravity and malice both of men and of the devil, or the sins that arise therefrom, do not spring from nature, but rather from the corruption of nature.” In other words it is not that nature itself was created evil but that nature had to of its own accord fall from the perfection in which it was formed to begin with. This has to mean that at some point in the past an “Adam” was given the free will to sin or as the Second Chapter of the Scots Confession defines it:

“We confess and acknowledge that our God has created man, i.e., our first father, Adam, after his own image and likeness, to whom he gave wisdom, lordship, justice, free will, and self-consciousness, so that in the whole nature of man no imperfection could be found. From this dignity and perfection man and woman both fell; the woman being deceived by the serpent and man obeying the voice of the woman, both conspiring against the sovereign majesty of God, who in clear words had previously threatened death if they presumed to eat of the forbidden tree.”

For Jesus’ death on the cross to be as Scripture says it to be necessitates a literal Adam who fell from God’s grace. A fake Adam creates a Christ who has failed and is a liar. For what need do we have of a Savior that saves us from a death that was his fault to begin with? What do we say when we know that Christ did not die because of our own rebellion but because of his own mistake? How can we say that the literally hundreds of times Adam’s sin is called upon by the writers of the Old Testament to show forth the sin of Israel is mere allegory? How can we say Christ died for an allegory or a metaphor and be taken seriously? Adam’s reality is VITAL for the gospel to be real. Without an actual Adam our faith is in vain because Christ’s atonement is nothing more than a big “sorry about that”. This is not the message of the gospel.

More Old Testament Thoughts



By Oswald T. Allis

Until comparatively recent times, the practically universal view among both Jews and Christians was that “Moses wrote the Pentateuch.” Josephus, the Jewish historian, in speaking of the sacred books of the Jews declares: “and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death.”[3] That these words refer to the Pentateuch, that they attribute it to Moses, and that they represent the accepted opinion of Jewish scholars of the past is undeniable. The acceptance of this belief in the Christian Church is shown by the fact that in Luther’s translation of the Bible each of the books of the Pentateuch is entitled a “book of Moses,” and that a similar statement appears in the 1611 Version of the English Bible. The question whether a tradition which is so ancient and so universal is correct is important in itself. But it becomes especially important when we consider the three matters closely connected with it which have already been alluded to: (I) the basis of this tradition, (II) the consequences of rejecting it, and (III) the methods used by the critics to disprove the Mosaic authorship.

I. The Basis of the Mosaic Tradition Is Four-fold

a. The Claims of the Pentateuch Itself

The quotation from Josephus given above states that the Pentateuch contains “his [Moses’] laws.” This is borne out by the statements of the document itself. As to the Decalogue, it is expressly declared that all the arrangements for that most impressive scene at Mount Sinai when the Law was given were made by Moses, and that the Ten Words were uttered in his presence (Ex. 20:19f.); later he was told to write them (34:27). Regarding the laws of Ex.21–23., we are expressly told that “Moses wrote all the words of Jehovah” (24:4); and the document containing them is clearly the “book of the covenant” referred to in verse 7. All of the laws regarding the erection of the tabernacle and its worship recorded in Ex. 25–31 are given in the form of personal communications to Moses; and the account of the construction of the tabernacle and of its erection is accompanied by the oft–repeated refrain, “as Jehovah commanded Moses.”[4] In Leviticus the words, “Jehovah spake (said, called) unto Moses” (or less freq., “unto Moses and Aaron”), occur about 35 times, 19 of which are at the beginning of a chapter; and 26:46 and 27:34 definitely connect the giving of these laws with Sinai. Numbers closely resembles Leviticus in this respect. Nearly half of the chapters begin in the same way; and the last verse of the book brings us down to the time when Israel was encamped in Moab. Deuteronomy is largely made up of elaborate discourses declared to have been delivered by Moses, the primary aim of which is to rehearse the laws already given and apply them to the new conditions under which Israel will shortly live, and to exhort the people to loyalty and obedience. Chap. 31:9, 24 tells us that Moses wrote the law in a book; and vs. 26 tells us that he commanded the Levities to place this book beside the ark. The meaning and scope of the word “law” in these statements is a matter of dispute, but the natural inference would be that it at least included all the legal portions of the Pentateuch.

What applies to the laws is also true to some degree of the historical portions of the Pentateuch. Of the events of his own day we are told that Moses was commanded to write God’s judgment upon Amalek “in a book” (Ex. 27:14). It is also stated that Moses wrote the itinerary recorded in Num. 33. And there is force in the argument that the writer of this itinerary would naturally he the author of the narrative which describes the history of which it is only a summary.[5] We are also told that Moses gave as a parting legacy to Israel the Song and the Blessing recorded in Deut. 32-33. The fact that these chapters are expressly attributed to Moses favors the correctness of Josephus’ phrase “and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death.”[6] They show that Moses was interested in the past history of his people (32:7, 8); and the author of Deut. 33 might well be the recorder of Gen. 49.[7] It is true that the Book of Genesis nowhere claims to have been written by Moses. But an account of the origin of mankind or at least of the ancestors of Israel such as is given there is required to make the other four books intelligible. Furthermore, the “and” (or, now) with which Ex. 1:1 begins is an indication that this book is a continuation and only in Genesis do we find the history recorded which Exodus continues.[8]

b. The Testimony of the Rest of the Old Testament

References to Moses are about as numerous in Joshua as in all the other books of the Old Testament taken together. They show that Joshua derived his authority from Moses and appealed constantly to what Moses had commanded. These references serve to define the task assigned Joshua after the death of Moses. Chap. 1:7 is typical: “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee” We speak at times of Joshua as Moses’ successor. But such an expression is misleading. Moses was the Law–giver: it was the duty of all who came after him to keep that law and instruct others to do so. In his farewell to Israel Joshua passed on to the elders (23:6) the obligation to obey the law of Moses, which had been solemnly laid upon him. This involved “all that is written in the book of the law of Moses.” Moses had, strictly speaking, but one successor: the One who said of Himself, “A greater than Moses is here.”

Occasional references to Moses are found in 14 other books. In Judges 3:4 it is declared that certain nations were left in the land after the death of Joshua for the purpose of testing whether Israel “would hearken unto the commandments of Jehovah, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.” The books of Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, all refer to the law of Moses.

The prophets only occasionally mention Moses by name. They refer more frequently to “the law.” But that by this they mean “the law of Moses” is indicated by the fact that his is the only name ever connected with the law, Aaron being merely his mouthpiece.[9] The final word of the last of the prophets is “Remember the law of Moses my servant.” Just what is covered by the word law may be a matter of dispute, but that the Old Testament attributes the law of God which was Israel’s most precious possession to Moses and to no one else is so obvious that detailed discussion is here unnecessary.

c. The Testimony of the New Testament

The New Testament makes it quite clear that Jesus did not dispute the Old Testament canon as accepted by the Jews, but fully accepted it as the Word of God. He challenged only their misinterpretation of it and failure to follow its teachings (e.g., Lk. 20:37, Jn. 7:19). This is made especially clear by Luke 24:27, 44, which indicates that Jesus recognized as already in existence the divisions of the Old Testament as later defined by Josephus, and that the “writings” of Moses (Jn. v.47, cf. Lk. 16:29, 31) to which He referred were the Pentateuch. He quoted the Decalogue (Ex. 20:12, Deut. 5:16) with the words “Moses said” (Mk. 7:10) and added a quotation taken from Ex. 21:17 and Lev. 20:9. When the Pharisees raised the question of easy divorce (Mt. 19:3), He appealed first to Gen. 2:24; and then, when the appeal was made to Moses’ “command” (Deut. 24:1-4), He declared that Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of their hearts. When the question of levirate marriage (Deut. 25:5) was placed in a ridiculous light by the Sadducees for the purpose of making the resurrection seem absurd, Jesus appealed to the words uttered at the Bush (Ex. 3:6) which in Mk. 12:26 are referred to “the book of Moses” and in Mt. 12:31 ascribed directly to “God.” That Paul held the same view is indicated by Acts 28:23. Such passages as Rom. 10:19, 1 Cor.9:9, 2 Cor. 3:15, indicate clearly the viewpoint of the New Testament on this question, which is that “Moses” and “law” are equivalent expressions.

d. The Voice of Tradition

Since the higher critics do not deny the antiquity and practical universality of the tradition that the Pentateuch is Mosaic,[10] but rather affirm that their own view is essentially a modern discovery, it is not necessary to prove this in detail. A few facts, however, may be noted. The earliest extra-canonical witness to the Old Testament canon is Ecclesiasticus (written about 250 B.C.). There we read, “He [Jehovah] made him [Moses] to hear his voice and brought him into the dark cloud, and gave him commandments before his face, even the law of life and knowledge, that he might teach Jacob his covenants and Israel his judgments.”[11] Second Maccabees speaks of the “commandment of the law which was given . . . by Moses” (7:30). Philo, who was an older contemporary of Josephus, attached such importance to the books of Moses that he assigned the Pentateuch a unique place among the Old Testament books. In the Talmud it is declared that any departure from the teaching that Moses wrote the Pentateuch would be punished by exclusion from Paradise.[12] Among Christian scholars, one of the first to refer to the “five books of Moses” is Melito, Bishop of Sardis (cir. 175 AD.). In all of the lists of the Canonical Scriptures given by the Church Fathers the Five Books of the Law are given a unique position; and they are frequently called the “books of Moses.”[13] The simplest explanation of this tradition is that it represents the teachings of the Bible itself.

II. The Consequences of the Rejection of the Claim that the Pentateuch Is Mosaic are Very Serious

a. The first consequence is the rejection of all the positive external evidence, both Biblical and extra-Biblical, as to the authorship of the Pentateuch. This is to be done, not on the authority of older and better evidence, as no such evidence has been produced. It is to be done in the interest of a theory, the correctness of which has never been proved. And since this rejection of external evidence necessarily involves and includes the rejection of the testimony of the New Testament and, most important of all, the testimony of Jesus as recorded in it, the question of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch becomes a matter of very vital concern to the New Testament Christian. Unless he is prepared to treat it as of no importance whether Jesus is correctly quoted in the New Testament, or whether He accommodated Himself to Jewish prejudices and accepted traditions which He knew to be false, or whether He was in such a sense a man of his age” that He was as ignorant as were His contemporaries of the “facts” which the critics claim to have discovered, the Christian of today must regard the question of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch as no less important than it was held to be before the rise of the higher criticism first called it into question, and then positively rejected it.

b. The second consequence of the rejection of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is the admission that the account of the ” ‘Mosaic” age given us in it is a fundamentally erroneous one. Moses is the outstanding figure. He is mentioned more than 500 times in Exodus to Deuteronomy. But, if all the legal codes of the Pentateuch date from long after Moses’ time, and if the history is late and unreliable, Moses becomes a decidedly elusive figure; and it becomes difficult if not impossible to account for the prominent role assigned him. His reputation is vast, but the deeds which serve as the basis for it are no longer to be regarded as his. He becomes a kind of legal fiction.

c. The third consequence of the acceptance of this theory is the adoption of a low view of the authority and credibility of the Bible as a whole. For, as will appear in the course of the discussion, it is only by rejecting or amending the statements of Scripture that the evidence cited above can be overthrown.

III. The Method Employed by the Critics Is Responsible for These Radical Consequences

a. It is characteristic of this method that it is divisive and destructive of the unity and harmony of Scripture. The slightest variations in diction, style, viewpoint or subject matter are seized upon as indicative of difference in author, date, and source. Differences are frequently magnified into contradictions. A book which is full of contradictory statements cannot speak with the authority of truth and cannot be in a unique and special sense the Word of the God of truth.

b. It is characteristic of this method that it largely rejects the claim of Scripture that the children of Israel were in a unique sense the object of divine guidance. The tendency is to substitute for the uniqueness of God’s dealings with Israel, the uniqueness of Israel herself, her special genius for religion.

c. It is characteristic of this method that it minimizes or rejects the redemptive supernaturalism of Biblical history and endeavors to reconstruct it in terms of naturalistic evolution. The miraculous element is viewed with suspicion and regarded either as evidence of the late date and unre-liability of a narrative, or as proof that it represents a primitive and unscientific account of phenomena in which a modern writer would see only the operation of natural processes.

In view, therefore, of the strength of the Mosaic tradition, the serious consequences of rejecting it, and the drastic methods made use of by those who do this, the question whether Moses wrote the Pentateuch should be of vital concern to everyone who has any knowledge of the Bible or any interest in it

The Five Books Of Moses. Oswald T. Allis. The Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co. 1943. Pages 5-12

Some Light Reading

Seeing as we are discussing issues with the Book of Genesis I though it would be helpful to link several articles that help to cast light on my thoughts more clearly.

The Time Element in Genesis 1 and 2
by Oswald T. Allis (former Prof. of OT at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia)

Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony

by Meredith G. Kline (former Prof. emeritus of OT at Westminster Seminary, California)

Because it Had Rained: A Study of Genesis 2:5-7
With Implications for Genesis 2:4-25 and Genesis 1:1-2:3 part 1
& part 2
by Mark D. Futato (Robert L. Maclellan Professor of Old Testament at RTS-Orlando)

Commentary on the Book of Genesis: Chapter 1
by John Calvin

Commentary on the Book of Genesis: Chapter 2

by John Calvin

Working through Discernment

Working through Discernment

By Benjamin P. Glaser

As anyone who reads this blog semi-regularly knows I am in a period of discernment and prayer as to what my future in the Presbyterian Church (USA) will be for me and my family. As part of this discernment process I have decided to work out some central passages in which I differ from the majority of my colleagues in seminary and the general view of the PC (USA). It is important to remember when reading this that these writings are not intended to be full treatises for publication and may seem not to be fully exegeted, that is not my goal. My goal is to test my beliefs against a subjective audience and see if what I believe is so outside the denominational witness that a move is necessary both for the health of my own conscience and my ability to give an honest witness to what Scripture is teaching.

My plan is to do this bi-weekly and in a systematic and chronological way. Therefore the first question I will begin with is Adam and Eve and the majority belief in the Old Testament scholarship of the PC (USA) that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are separate accounts and are disconnected explanations of the creation of man. (cf: documentary hypothesis).*

*- It should be noted here that not all positions will be covered but just the main position of the PC (USA)

1) Man and Woman created in Genesis 1:26-27

2) “Adam” and “Eve” (Man and Woman) created in Genesis 2:7,18,21-22

Now modern PC (USA) (and all mainline) Old Testament scholarship gives the following explanation for this supposed “double creation” event.

1) Gen. 1:26-27 was written by the Priestly Source and Gen. 2:7,18, 21-22 by the Yahwist

2) Both accounts arise out of other near east creation texts. Therefore the text is not meant to be “complimentary” but necessarily conflicting. In other words Genesis 1 is the view from God’s perspective and Ch. 2 is Man’s perspective.

Here is where I disagree with this hypothesis. The mention of the creation of humans in 1:27 in no way makes the second mention in chapter two “contradictory” or even competing. While it has been the recent tradition of OT scholarship since Wellhausen (and to a lesser degree Spinoza) to make these two statements I believe the second statement to be easily refuted. Not only throughout Jewish tradition have these two chapters been treated as one narrative but Christ in Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9 quotes both from Gen 1:27 and 2:24 in one thought (as well as attributing Mosaic authorship to the whole of the Torah in Matt 8:4, 19:7, 22:24, Mark 1:44, 7:10, 12:19, 12:26, Luke 2:22, 5:14, 16:19, 20:28, 20:37, 24:27, 24:44, John 1:17, 1:45, 5:45, 5:46, and 7:23). Now one may say here that Jesus is just following his ritual, not necessarily giving credence to the view of chapters 1 and 2 being of the same tradition. In other words the critique says that Christ’s use of both chapters; giving equal voice to both 1 & 2 as if they are telling the same story, does not necessarily mean that both speak with the same voice or having the same author. Christ, since he had voluntarily emptied himself of divine knowledge (as seen in his not knowing the Day of Judgment), and had “forgotten” or even more implausibly Jesus chose not to share with the apostles the truth he knew about the writing of Genesis 1 and 2 thereby quoting from both honestly outside of the truth we now hold.

I cannot begin to describe how this view does damage to Chalcedonian Christology. However in the interest of giving a more thorough understanding of how dangerous this last statement is to historical orthodoxy let us look at one example of how this critique breaks down orthodox foundations of how we see Christ.

Chalcedon says:

The distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved

Now if according to the last critique that by emptying himself Christ necessarily gave away his knowledge of past events-which is what is being said by those who deny the Mosaic (or singular if you will) authorship of Genesis 1 and 2-it is then illogical to say then that the divine nature is not affected by the bodily nature, which in and of itself denies historical Christology.

Denominational News

Presbytery lets Mt. Lebanon church leave, with property
Thursday, October 18, 2007

Almost six months to the day after voting to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA), Beverly Heights Church in Mt. Lebanon was granted its dismissal today by the Pittsburgh Presbytery.

The Presbytery’s 174-73 vote, with two abstentions, means Beverly Heights will move its 400-member congregation, along with its buildings and grounds, to the more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Finding Agreement with John Frame

I also used to say that one should never leave a church if that church needs him/her in order to survive. But from God’s point of view, no human being is indispensable. If he wants a weak church to keep going, he will supply the gifts that church needs. On the other hand, I have come to the view that it is not a tragedy when a tiny, stagnant, sick church folds up and dies. It is better for the members of such churches to be part of living, dynamic fellowships than to stay forever in a situation where they are constantly discouraged and, most likely, not being properly fed.

As someone who rarely, if ever, agrees with John Frame I find in this section from his work Evangelical Reunion (cf. Rev. Toby Brown’s already linked discussion) a paragraph that is quite refreshing. I find myself presently at a time of much discernment and prayer as to my future in the PC(USA). As I think about this I am often troubled by further deepening the already wide gulf between the denominational landscape. What I personally struggle with is whether I am called to be like Jeremiah and others prophets (certainly not calling myself a prophet, that would be absurd) and stay in an increasingly apostate denomination preaching the gospel where many minds are shut to it or seek to follow the example of Matthew 10:14 and shake the dust from my feet and move on to another town.