Thursday, May 31, 2007

Why is There Such Divergent Views About the Bible?

Dr. Couch, why is it that there are such divergent views about the Bible, such as between premillennialists and amillennialists? Both camps seem to have pretty smart people in them. 
    The answer is easy. For the most part, the amillennial/allegorical Covenant Reformed guys come to the text with a preconceived systematic theology. I believe my systematic theology must come from my exegesis and my careful observations of what the text says. I do not give you a biblical answer as a “dispensational” answer (though the Bible is dispensational). I give you an answer to the text from a literal, normal system of interpretation—starting from Genesis all the way through Revelation. The Covenant guys foist an interpretative system (preconceived Covenant allegorical) over and upon the Bible. For example, often in their OT interpretation, Israel is the church. And the kingdom is allegorized to mean the church. I don’t have to do that! Israel means Israel, and the church means the church! 

    Of course the allegorical guys have the right to be wrong! And indeed, they are! I appreciate much that Reformed allegorist Hendriksen writes in his commentary series, but on the rapture of the church in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 he says, “Premillennialists, according to which Christ comes first for his saints, and seven years later with his saints. The coming is one; but it is a coming both with and for his saints” (p. 94). This is a cop out! It cannot be both. The two prepositions carry different thoughts. Hendriksen is determined to get rid of the rapture that is so plainly taught in this passage. 

    Amillennialist and allegorist A. T. Robertson does a “both and”. He calls this Thessalonian passage a rapture passage but then says that Paul is not clear on his meaning. He writes, “This rapture of the saints (both risen and changed) is a glorious climax to Paul’s argument of consolation. This is the outcome, to be forever with the Lord, whether with a return to earth or with an immediate departure for heaven Paul does not say” (pp. 32-33). 

    How can Robertson say that? Paul does not address the issue of Christ’s return to earth here to judge. The catching up to heaven is something unique for those “in Jesus,” or those “in Christ.” 

    On 1 Thessalonians 5:9, when Paul says church saints are not destined “for wrath,” Hendriksen makes this wrath the wrath of the final judgment. But the context is about the “destruction which will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs” (v. 3). This is a quote from Jeremiah 30 where the prophet is writing about the wrath of the tribulation that will come upon Israel and the world. The “birth pangs” are not about the final judgment of the lost! Hendriksen cops out and violates the context and the discussion that is under way in the passage. 

    I stay with the context! Most of the allegorical guys do not because they have a preconceived agenda. They are Replacement in their eschatology. They replace the church with Israel. In their view God is finished with the Jewish people! 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What is the Purpose of Fasting?

Dr. Couch, the Muslims fast. I was wondering what is the NT teaching on fasting, and, what is the purpose of fasting? 
    Fasting is a picture of something that can emotionally be happening to a person who is under great spiritual or emotional suffering. One does not wish to eat but simply go away and bury themselves in grief. This became a kind of ritual among the very emotional people of OT times, but it carried over into the times of the Jews in the NT period as well. 

    There are two basic words in the NT for fasting: (1) Asitos is used only once in Acts 24:16. A related word, asitia is used only once also and is translated in Acts 27:21 as a long abstinence. Asitos has the idea of not eating. (2) The more common word, used thirty times in its noun and verb form, is neestuo. By seeing where this word is used in the NT we get the idea that it really had an OT orientation. 

    Fasting was not as prevalent in the dispensation of the church age, though as a practice it has not gone away and is still viable for those who wish to do so. Out of the thirty uses of the word neestuo only eight times is it mentioned in the dispensation of the church (Acts 10:30; 13:2-3; 14:23; 27:9; 1 Cor. 7:5; 2 Cor. 11:27). This means that the practice is downplayed and was not as prevalent among Gentile Christians. 

    In giving up food the one fasting is saying to the Lord, “I am going to concentrate on prayer and seeking your favor. I am not even interested in eating!” In fasting Christ did not eat for forty days (Matt. 4:2). When fasting one was not to appear pious and morbidly gloomy (6:16). Those who did were seeking sympathy and wanted people to say, “Oh, are they not spiritual?” To make themselves look religious some of the Pharisees fasted more than once during the week (Luke 18:12). As already mentioned fasting was connected with deep and concentrated prayer (Acts 13:3). 

    I would never tell someone not to fast, though in my personal experience, those who fast often many times brag about their fasting and use it as a practice of “works.” “I fast and you don’t!” Fasting is not a cheap way to cover up going on a diet! It should be practiced because someone is really under conviction and terribly concerned about a burning spiritual issue. God knows our heart and He knows whether fasting is genuine or just for a show! 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What Does the Word Hamas Mean?

Dr. Couch, what does the word Hamas mean? We hear this all the time in the news used of the orthodox Arabs in their war against us and against Israel. 
    The Abrabic word Hamas is part of the Semitic family of words that is related to Semitic Hebrew. Therefore to know Hebrew is to know Arabic (except the letters are somewhat foreign to Hebrew). 

    Technically, the word Hamas is pronounced chamas though the ch sound has been softened. Thus the word: hamas. The word is used several places in the OT. On Isaiah 60:18 where it is used, Unger writes in his commentary: “Violence (hamas, the unjust use of force by the stronger upon the weaker).” This tells the whole story about the evil intent of the Abrabic world against Israel and the West today! 

    In the Hebrew lexicon the word is defined further as: to treat violently, to oppress, to injure, to sin against someone, to tear something away violently, to be violently made naked

    The militant Arabs, who are living out the violence that is natural in Islam, are being consistent with their theology. The vast majority of Muslims are condoning the violent actions of their brothers. Almost no Arabs censor the killing of the innocent infidel who is a non-Muslim. “The religion of the sword” has always characterized Islam. The Hamas organization has picked the right word to describe their activities and their philosophy. Isn’t it interesting that the word love is used to best characterize Christianity! 

    CNN Network has recently done a documentary in which it lumps orthodox Judaism and Christianity with orthodox Islam and violent Islam. Fundamental, evangelical, and premillennial Christians are now seen as the enemy to the liberal mindset. 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, May 28, 2007

What is The Connection Between Isaiah 50 4-10 and Romans: 8:1,32-33?

Dr. Couch, there are some who make a connection between Isaiah 50:4-10 and Romans 8:1, 32-33. What is that connection? 
    The Isaiah verses are clearly prophetic of the Lord Jesus Christ just as Isaiah 52:13-53:12. It seems as if the apostle Paul is drawing from the Isaiah 50 verses to show how those who are connected with the suffering Christ, are vindicated. Christ was “not disobedient, nor did He turn back” from death (50:5). He took the beatings on His back and His beard was pulled out (v. 6). God who would vindicate Him was near Him (v. 8), He would help His Son, and no one could condemn Him (vv. 8b-9). 

    Now, those who are “in Christ Jesus” are no longer condemned (Rom. 8:1). And since the Son was not spared from death (v. 32), no one can “bring a charge against God’s elect. God is the one who justifies” (v. 33). 

    On Isaiah 50:9, Unger writes in his commentary:
Since the Lord is the Servant’s (the Messiah) Helper and Vindicator, doom is the
portion of all who accuse and condemn Him. … Paul reflects on this passage
(Rom. 8:34) and applies it to the believer, because he is united to Christ by the
baptism of the Spirit at conversion (6:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:13), hence is “in Christ,” and
so has the righteousness of God in Christ imputed to him. (p. 1284)
    I highly recommend to those who do not have Merrill F. Unger’s Old Testament Commentary to get a copy. It gives the most messianic of treatments to the older Testament that I know of.  I had the commentary restored and reprinted by AMG Publications.

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Explain 1 Sam. 25:29?

Dr. Couch, what does it mean when Abigail said to David, “The soul of my lord (David) shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord your God” (1 Sam. 25:29)? 
    This is considered one of the first clear passages in the Old Testament that points to life even after death. Abigail was saying that David’s life was tied up, as in a bundle of wheat, with the Lord. David is entangled with God! 

    The rabbinical commentaries say (as found in the Targum) that the prayer is understood to refer to life after death, and it has long been used in Jewish memorial prayers and inscriptions on tombstones. Those so entwined with the Lord in this life will pass on into glory and into His presence. Ellicott writes: “From 1 Samuel and the Talmud, one cannot miss the far-reaching comment by John the apostle in Revelation 6:9 where he writes, ‘underneath the altar (in heaven) are the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they maintained.’ These souls of the righteous are hidden beneath the glorious throne of God waiting for the resurrection.” 

    Notice it is not the bodies that are so bundled up with the Lord, it is the souls! On the 1 Samuel passage, Unger says in his Old Testament commentary that it is a “truly remarkable verse.” He adds, Abigail “meant that God would keep David safe. His life, as it were, was bound up with the very life of God in a precious bundle that no one (not even insane Saul) could touch.” (p. 400) 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, May 26, 2007

How Can Things Get Worse?

Dr. Couch, how can things get worse? On all fronts we find a rushing collapse of morals, values, Christian truth, international stability. Only we dispensationalists who teach a coming apostasy (it’s here) and a rapture and tribulation seem to understand what’s happening. Thanks for your insights. 
    Your question prompted me to share a quote from the Holman Old Testament Commentary (I & II Kings) by Gary Inrig. He writes: 

    “Ours is a society that does not feel very comfortable with “either-or” choices. A postmodern culture embraces a “both-and” mind-set. We want to multiply options, to insist that we can blend different traditions and perspectives. We celebrate diversity and tolerance, embrace ambiguity and uncertainty, and insist on individual autonomy. We must value all viewpoints, and it is arrogant to question someone else’s beliefs. It is intolerant to call someone to choose or commit rather than to validate opposites and to respect all ways. Ours is an age that celebrates pluralism, relativism, openness, inclusivism, and mutual respect. 

    “In many areas of life, these are valuable and desirable attributes. But they confront one major obstacle: the living God, the Lord of heaven and earth, revealed in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is not satisfied with respect. He insists not only on our loyalty but on our exclusive loyalty. He will not allow Himself to be reduced to one possibility in a cafeteria of spiritual options. He forces us to decide. There is no middle ground.” (p. 144) 

    Thinking about the coming Civil War that was about to come on America, poet James Russell Lowell wrote:
Once to every man and nations comes
the moment to decide,
in the strife of Truth and Falsehood,
for the good or evil side.
    This and Inrig’s statement are excellent thoughts that you need to read to your Sunday School and to the people in your congregation! 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, May 25, 2007

Congregational Polity?

Dr. Couch, I have become convinced by you, through the Scriptures, that congregational polity should be elder rule. Why have others not seen this? And what are the advantages and disadvantages? 
    You need my book A Biblical Theology of the Church (Kregel). It is gaining in interest and I know of many Bible colleges that are using it in the Ecclesiology courses. 

    The main reason elder leadership is important is, first of all, it is scriptural. It creates a shared responsibility, supposedly between wise spiritual men (not women). But the negative is obvious. If you have a bunch of men who are driven by carnality, and who thrive on power, you will have impotency and conflict. Many such elder “boards” (or wrongly so, deacon “boards”) love to control the lead elder or senior pastor so that he is in deadlock and cannot get any thing done. 

    While I absolutely believe in elder leadership, because it is biblical, I have come to the conclusion that it is best, at the beginning of a ministry, to have none or only a few men sharing in the pioneering of the church. Elders must be easy going and not be seeking after misplaced authority and power. I am more convinced than I used to be that the Lord gets things done, if you will, through the strong leadership of a leader! He often has the vision and must be free to carry it out and make it work. One of the problems of plurality of leadership is that those “in power” think they must decide on all issues, speak their piece on every minor point, and control everything. This creates deadlock. The elders should trust the pioneer, the leader. 

    Is there biblical evidence for what I’m saying? I think so. 

    The apostle Paul said that he left Titus in Crete “that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you” (Titus 1:5). Notice that the authority was placed in the hands of one strong man. The churches were not fully developed and so Titus was to do what was necessary to make the situations work. Also, Titus on his own was to appoint elders (plural), under the direction of Paul. There was no voting, deciding every detail, among the elders, BECAUSE at this point there were none in the churches! But also I do not think that is their calling. 

    In the church of Corinth there apparently were no elders in the assembly because of gross ineptitude and carnality. There were a bunch of gossips who tried to destroy the authority of Paul. Any excuse will do when one wants to get rid of the leading of a strong man! Generally it seems as if it can be jealousy that brings the worst out of some in leadership roles. It goes to their heads. They want to control simply because they want to control! 

    Unfortunately, most elders seem to go to one extreme or another. They put their thumbs in their mouths, go brain dead, and become spiritually impotent. Or, they think they know better than an older, experienced leader, and they want to take charge. Often more destruction follows rather than the advancement for the sake of Christ. What causes so many difficulties is that people fail to look and see the blessings taking place. There is the failure to observe and care about the spiritual growth of the little people in the congregation. 

Thanks for asking, and consider getting my book on the theology of the church.

Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Why Have Churches Gone Bonkers?

Dr. Couch, you write often about what is happening in churches. We are amazed at what is taking place at some of our local congregations. Why have churches gone bonkers? 
    For further examples I refer to a recent news blurb from The Lamplighter. One evangelical church advertised a sermon series: “Funky Things Christians Do.” Actually, this isn’t bad—it should be entitled “Crazy Things Christians Do.” Other titles: “The Groovy Ghost” (The Holy Ghost), “The Funky Dunky” (Baptism), and “Daddio’s Dinner” (The Lord’s Supper). 

    You can see how sick this is. Thank the Lord all churches are not going this extreme but enough are to alarm believers that, once we remove ourselves from solid biblical teaching, Katy Bar the Door! Such emotional hype is exacerbated by the Charismatic influence, and by the entertainment garbage that comes into our homes by television. But it is also happening because of the vacuum created by the lack of scriptural teaching. 

    At the best of seminaries our young men coming out are influenced by what is called The Emerging Church idea, or The 21st Century Church concept. They believe we must continually be evolving in order to attract the young yuppy set. (Remember, these are the ones who measure everything by whether they are “Safe” or not!) 

    Another element bringing on the departure from truth in our churches is secular psychology. Almost every evangelical seminary is into this in their counseling courses. This means: “Self Actualization,” “Self Fulfillment.” If you hear on television that “You should be able to fulfill your ‘Dreams,’” this is not an innocent expression. The commercials that use this idea do not mean what you mean. This is warmed over Hinduism. The “name it and claim it” idea comes from this. You can visualize your own reality! 

    All I can add to this is “Hold on to your seats!” It is going to be a bumpy ride! Things will continually get worse not better! Finally, Paul writes:
The time will come when they [believers] will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths (actually, lies).” (2 Tim. 4:3-4)
Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Global Warming?

Dr. Couch, what do you think about the Global Warming issue? And what could it have to do with future prophetic events? 
    In one sense, the issue is not important in my thinking. Let me explain. That the earth is getting warmer seems certain, though right now it is only a fraction of a degree moving up in temperature. Whether this is because of human activity or not also does not affect my thinking. I believe we are indeed moving into the end times and whether God uses human means, natural means, or dramatic intervention means is irrelevant to me. He is sovereign over His creation. In His providence He causes all things to happen—even global warming! 

    But there are some prophetic passages that tell us the natural order will be turned upside down in the tribulation—and that process could even begin now before the full onslaught of that terrible seven year period of wrath! 

    Christ spoke of the signs that would come in the sun, moon, and stars “and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26). 

    In Greek the passage best reads: “Dismay among the nations” (sunoche), or anguish among the “ethnic groups (ethnos).” “Preplexity” (aporia) or the “straits, narrows” carries the idea that the world is left waiting, left in the lurch, puzzled at the “roaring of the sea and the waves.” This may clearly imply tsunamis, tidal waves, pyrotechnics, astral-storms. Because of this men will be dying (expiring, apopsuchos), that is, the breath is going from them, probably from heart attacks. All of this is happening because of “the things which are coming upon the world.” The forces of the heavens will be shaken. This takes place before the coming of “the Son of Man,” Israel’s Messiah, who will come in His power and glory in order to reign in Jerusalem! (v. 27). 

    The Lord Jesus could certainly be paraphrasing in Luke 21 what is written in Isaiah 24. Isaiah writes, “The earth will be completely laid waste” (v. 3), it will be “polluted by its inhabitants” (v. 5), and “a curse will devour the earth. ... Therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left” (v. 6). For more descriptions of the terror coming, one can begin with Revelation 6 all the way through the first part of chapter 19. 

    What part a continued global warming may play in all of this is not known. I know for sure that what is now happening is not taking place by accident. God is at work and this could be some kind of first stage leading up to the beginning of the tribulation. All of this constitutes a judgment from God upon a rejecting world, an immoral population, and a cruelty of the human species never before witnessed on earth! 

    Society will not be changed or converted but the individual can find eternal life in Christ even now! 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Provoke the Jews to Jealousy?

Dr. Couch, what does it mean when the Bible says Gentiles are to provoke the Jews to jealousy
    The Greek word zaloo carries the idea of “jealousy” in the sense of being envious over someone’s possessions. “I envy him for having a new car.” Or, it can often be translated as “anger.” “What you did to me made me ‘jealous’ and ‘angry.’” But the expression “being provoked to jealousy,” as in provoking the Jews to jealousy, is a related Greek word but not the same one. It is a compound from parazeeloo. Para=alongside; zaloo=envy, anger. This word is used in only four places in the NT: (Rom. 10:19; 11:11, 14; 1 Cor. 10:22) 

    In 1 Corinthians 10:22 it is used of the fact that some in the Corinthian church were abusing the Lord’s Table and making God the Father angry. “Or do we provoke the Lord to anger? We are not stronger than He, are we?” That is, “the Lord is furious and we are not going to escape a judgment from Him over this issue!” 

    In Romans 10:19 the apostle Paul quotes Deuteronomy 32:21 where the Lord says, “I will make you jealous (angry, parazeeloo) by that which is not a nation (the Gentiles), by a nation without understanding will I anger (parorgio) you (Israel).” Two different words are used here in a parallelism but both mean virtually the same—to make angry in order to move the Jews off dead center, spiritually speaking! 

    The apostle uses parazeeloo again in Romans 11:11, 14. In the grammar in 11:11 he uses the word as an Aorist Infinitive. “To make them angry.” In 11:14 he uses the word as a Future, or as an Aorist tense. “I will in the future move my fellow countrymen to anger and save some of them.” Thayer believes the word should be translated this way: “To provoke to rivalry, to anger.” The word is used in a similar way in Classical Greek: “To fret, be vexed.” Balz and Schneider add: “To rouse up, provoke.” 

    Paul’s point seems to be that when the gospel is proclaimed about salvation found only in Israel’s Messiah, that this moves the Jews to have a flash of anger. They resent that message. They were not jealous in an envious way, but they were furious! However this anger would cause them to begin to think, probe, and seek out the truth. In time, they would accept Christ as their own, as their Savior and King! 

    Ellicott concurs and writes: “The reason why salvation had been extended to the Gentiles was to stir up the Jews to emulation. Their privileged position had made them negligent and apathetic. The sight of others stepping into those privileges was to rouse them from their apathy.” (p. 248) 

    The idea of anger seems to make the use of the word more clear. The Jews at first became incensed with the salvation proclamation being made by the Gentiles. After all, the gospel was about this Jew, the Lord Jesus Christ, who claimed to be the promised Jewish Messiah! With a tinge of anger, many of the Jews searched out this claim and came to Him as their Savior and Lord! 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, May 21, 2007

Believer's Rewards

Dr. Couch, is 1 Corinthians 15:41 about believers receiving rewards, one having a different reward of glory over another? Some commentators think so. 
    I do not believe that is the case. The context is about the fact that there are different bodies for people and animals, all given by God in a sovereign manner. Biological life all has different and unique bodies (v. 39), so do the heavenly planets and stars (vv. 40-41). As the Lord gave us one kind of body for this life, “so in the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor (insignificance), it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised by power; it is sown a natural body, is it raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body” (vv. 42-44). 

    The context is simply telling us we are going to receive a “new deal,” an eternal, imperishable body that will live on and on into the ages! 

    I wrote in The Popular Bible Prophecy Commentary (Harvest):
This heavenly spiritual body will be re-created by the Lord from a heavenly source and not an earthly one. However, it is still a real and tangible body, yet without “dishonor,” “weakness,” and earthly limitations. (p. 414) C. K. Barrett writes in his commentary: “Thus throughout the natural order variety reigns. The resurrection of the body must be understood in the light of this fact.” (pp. 371-72) Charles Hodge adds from his commentary: “As the heavenly bodies differ from the earthly bodies, and as one star differs from another star, so the resurrection body will differ from our present body.” (p. 346) 

    To summarize 1 Corinthians 15:41 is not about levels of rewards; it is addressing the fact that the new resurrected body will be unique from our present condemned and limited body. 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, May 20, 2007

When Did Roman Catholicism Actually Begin?

Dr. Couch, when did Roman Catholicism actually begin? 
As the decades that followed the apostolic period, the hierarchy of the church became more and more centralized and strong. The bishop of Rome became dominate as the leader of all the churches. This happened gradually until finally the idea of a bishop was that he became a “general” who was over the pastors of the little regional churches.
Gregory (590-604) and Nicholas I (858-867) are two early popes who began the centralization process. But it was Gregory VII (circa. 1000 AD) who left no shadow of a doubt about his opinion of the complete subordination of the European kings to papal authority. He argued that the power of absolving from sins belonged to the priesthood in each country and that the kings could not receive absolution without the authority from Rome. 

Thus, all the kings, princes, and the people, were dependent on the pope, both from the spiritual and the temporal position. At a council in Rome in 1080, this principle was given a full sweeping application. All the nations were to be subservient to the pope and to Rome. Gregory saw himself maintaining a sovereign theocratic control over all of Christendom through his ambassadors. He held to a strict accountability virtually present in all walks of life over the kingdoms of Europe. 

Gregory carried out three reforms that solidified Catholicism over kingdoms. (1) He enforced celibacy over the clergy. This brought on terrible immorality among the priesthood. Many priests kept mistresses who had abortions. While many of the common people knew this, the Church tried to cover up such scandals. (2) He uprooted simony, i.e. the appointment of priests and bishops by the kings of the various countries. Now they would be appointed directly by the pope. This took the so-called “spiritual” control of the churches out of the hands of the kings. (3) He stopped all control of the temporal powers over the priests and the churches in their own countries. The lands the Church owned belonged to the priests and to the Church in Rome. 

Many believe that the absoluteness of the Church was now made firm with the efforts of Gregory VII. And this control carried itself all the way into the period of the Reformation.

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Thoughts About Our Culture Today

Dr. Couch, you have some interesting comments about our culture today. Do you have some other thoughts to share on this? 
Our culture has lost all sense of authority. If the Bible has been destroyed, there is no higher authority to appeal to but one’s self. Now in most courtrooms people do not take the oath on the Bible. They simply swear on themselves that they will tell the truth! They become the arbiter of what is right and wrong. Everyone is doing what is right in his own eyes! 

Biblical authority is also being lost in our Christianity. Doctrine no longer rules and governs. I have friends who teach in some of the old line Bible schools who tell me they can no longer teach doctrine with a certain sense of authority and absoluteness. They have to present ideas to this generation of Bible college students like this: “I want you to consider these verses about the rapture of the church!” “If you don’t mind, here are ten views on this doctrine. Pick and choose which ones you like.” 

Often, this is happening in churches. People think they have equal knowledge along with the pastor. They can repudiate him and reject his teaching. Unfortunately, this is good if the pastor has not paid the price to learn his exegetical craft! Yet, there still should be a respect. In my opinion, the only valid reason one should leave a church is when the leadership is no longer teaching the Word of God. 

This overall mentality of questioning of authority is of course madness! It will in time destroy our culture and our churches. 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, May 18, 2007

Restoring Fellowship

Dr. Couch, why is it impossible for some Christians to be able to restore fellowship when there is a relationship broken? 
The answer is simple—just plain old stubbornness and carnality. The apostle Paul put it this way to the Corinthians: “For you are still fleshly (carnal, operating by the senses) for since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” (1 Cor. 3:3). You cannot color this any other way. When fellowship is shattered by one party, it is because of sinful carnality. I have observed through the years that this comes about because of the sinful stubbornness of the hypocritical super fundy who prides himself on his perfection. That in itself shows his sinfulness. 

The inability to say “I’m sorry” is also a characteristic of the trouble-maker. They cannot confess the fact that they have shattered a relationship because they cannot admit openly to others and to themselves that they sin! They pretend they are perfect! 

Generally, these folks are willing to forever break fellowship rather than to look at themselves and apologize. They are incapable of doing that. The Bible tells us that such people are revolting against someone who has done nothing against them. Proverbs 18:19 could read, “A brother ‘revolted’ against is harder to be won back than taking a strong city. And contentions (wars) are (strong) like the bars of a castle.” Once the fundies attack it is impossible to restore a relation unless they confess their carnality and the fact that they have tried to destroy a fellow Christian. 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Am I Spiritually Sick?

Dr. Couch, am I spiritually sick?
If you are under 35 you very well may be spiritual sick. You may have the disease called The Postmodern Syndrome. Here are some of the symptoms:
  1. You go to church to get emotionally charged up with rock music, yelling and screaming, dancing around the isle with hands in the air.
  2. You are not interested in the deep teachings of God’s Word. You prefer “feel-good” emotional “how-to” messages.
  3. You want short devotionals at church. Nothing boring like Bible teaching verse-by-verse from the pulpit!
  4. You probably have some doubts about certain Bible doctrines—inspiration of Scripture, the return of Christ, etc. Especially prophecy—can’t listen to anything that might be divisive! And after all we really can’t be dogmatic about the return of Christ!
  5. You are more interested in personality issues rather than the strong authority and standard doctrines of the Bible.
  6. You want to be “authenticated,” whatever that means! (Secular psychology)
  7. You do not like Bible teachers (like Dr. Couch) who say, “This is what the Bible says!” That is too dogmatic and “pushy.”
  8. You say you are not into church growth but ironically, you are into the church growth movement!
  9. At church you want food courts, tennis courts, workout rooms, etc.
  10. When you take your kids to church you want to know if they are “safe.” You don’t ask about what they will be getting spiritually from the Word of God.
  11. As a yuppie parent you know more about green fungus on the walls, unsafe spinach, and asthma than what the Bible teaches. Again, the key idea here: “Is my kid safe?”
  12. You take your kids to the doctor three times each month. You give them prescription drugs for stopped up noses instead of using the old nose drops like my generation did. (I don’t know how we survived!)
  13. At worship service, as some churches are doing, you express yourself by painting watercolor images or producing a video message DVD! Self expression supposedly helps you learn about God! This helps you engage in “honest conversation” and ultimately will aid you to search and find the truth! (This is actually happening at some postmodern assemblies!)
  14. You say you are a Christian but you practice humming and staring at your navel while sitting in the lotus position at the Friday morning workout in the church gym.
  15. You use playdough to mold an image of yourself which shows how God has you in His hands. If the playdough droops a bit, that illustrates how God is an ever-changing deity. (This really happens in some churches)
  16. You are into a “hyper-individualistic pursuit of faith” rather than into searching the Scriptures to understand objective and unmovable doctrine.
  17. You are trying to establish your faith with an inward journey, trying to have your “felt-needs” met.
  18. You believe secular psychology is helpful in bringing enlightenment to the Bible.
  19. You believe “Commitment and Sacrifice” is some kind of new online game.
  20. Because you are so into Christian rock music with all the hot instruments, you think an “organ” is some kind of body part.
  21. To show congregational unity the folks in the church pass a beach ball around the auditorium. (This actually happens)

Think it over. 
Dr. Mal Couch 

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Doubting the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment

Dr. Couch, I have some friends who are doubting the doctrine of eternal punishment. Is this a growing trend? 
   Yes, of course. And it is just warmed over liberalism creeping into our churches, and even into our Evangelical congregations. The pastors are being mum about strong authoritarian truth. They do not want to appear too dogmatic or biblically pushy. Expect heresy to grow. Without the strong, "Thus saith the Lord" from the pulpit, error will compound. Satan loves what is happening with the growing trend of the lack of teaching of the Bible!

    People get mad at God over the eternal damnation doctrine. "How could God be so mean?" "How could He send people to hell?" The critics never bring up that the Lord has provided a positive way of escape through trust in Christ. The writer of Hebrews even mentions this and writes: "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard" (Heb. 2:3). And, "We have had good news preached to us, … it did not profit [some] because it was not united by faith in those who heard" (4:2).

Below are some of the key passages of Scripture about eternal punishment. The love of God counters this terrible truth by the gospel of salvation found only in Christ Jesus.
  • For those who have transgressed against Me, "their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched; and they shall be an abhorrence to all mankind" (Isa. 66:24; Mark 9:48).
  • Many will awake from the dust of the ground, some "to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt (rejection)" (Dan. 12:2).
  • The lost "will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matt. 25:46). (Punishment is eternal; new life is eternal!)
  • The sinner will be cast into "the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 25:30).
  • The unrighteous wealthy man "in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, … and said, 'I am in agony in this flame'" (Luke 16:23-24).
  • "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15).
    While the contexts of the above passages may be different, the point is the same. There is an eternal separation from God and there is a punishment for sins that is terrible. Being a righteous and holy God, His justice demands that evil be judged. He cannot have sin in His holy presence! Again, people can escape this sure judgment by trusting Christ as their Savior. God's love counters His justice, but again, it must be accepted by the evil doer. Without Christ, and His substitutionary death for sinners, there is no hope!

    Thanks for asking.
    Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Is the Rapture in the Olivet Discourse?

Dr. Couch, Is the rapture in the Olivet Discourse? 
Oh, heavens no! The only reason such an argument came to be is because of Matthew 24:40-41. "One taken and one left!" Remember one of the key rules of interpretation: context, context, context! The context of the Olivet Discourse (chapters 24-25) has to do with the three questions the disciples asked Christ just prior to His arrest and death on the cross. They asked, "When will these things be (the destruction of the temple), and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (24:3).

With these questions the Lord did not then turn to the issue of the price of eggs in Poland! He answered their questions and filled in the curiosity they had about the end times and Jewish things. But you ask, "Did Christ not prophecy about the coming church?" Yes, in 16:13-20 He gave a quick tease about the coming church but He did not elaborate on the subject. This is what I call a cryptic prophecy in that it would not be fully explained and revealed until the book of Acts.

"One taken and one left." It is from this statement in Matthew 24:40-41 that the idea of the rapture comes in the minds of those who read too quickly. It is caused by what I call "a mental identification." That is, "it sounds" like the rapture, and, the brain just kind of stops there! Contact determines what this means.

If one goes on in the large passage, one finds that the "one taken" is brought before the King when He arrives to reign in His kingdom. That discussion begins in verse 44: "For the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will." This has to do with "the Son of Man." This is a messianic title about the King coming to rule in Jerusalem; it is not about His coming to receive up to Himself the church saints in the church resurrection (those IN Christ) and the rapture of the church when the living church saints are "jerked" out of here! The passage goes on and shows the evil slave (the one taken) is brought before the Master and "cut in pieces" and assigned a place where there is "gnashing of teeth" (vv. 50-51). The one left enters into the blessings of the kingdom!
That this is the right interpretation is confirmed in Luke 17:34-37 where Christ discusses the same issue. "One is taken and one left" (v. 35). "But where?" the disciples ask (v. 37a). Christ answers, "Where the body is, there also will the vultures be gathered" (v. 37b). In other words, as He said in Matthew 24:50-51, the evil and unfaithful Jewish servants are taken to judgment and killed!

In my just released Luke Commentary I wrote on chapter 17:34-37:

"This is obviously not the rapture of the church at which the saints on earth are caught up to heaven and given new bodies; and the dead in Christ are raised (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Here in Luke and in the parallel reading in Matthew 24-25, Jesus is talking about His coming as Israel's King. The one taken is the "evil slave" who did not have faith in Jesus' messianic reign (Matt. 24:48). He is taken before the Master for judgment because he did not stay alert (v. 43), "for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will (v. 44)."

And in the recently released Tim LaHaye Popular Bible Prophecy Commentary I wrote on Luke 17:

"When the Lord returns to earth to establish His Davidic rule, some will be ready and others won't. While some view this as a reference to the rapture, when one will be removed while the other is left, the context does not appear to have the rapture in mind. Some will be taken before the Lord and judged."

The expression "will be left" – aphieemi. The expression "left behind" is exactly the same in the Matthew 24:40-41 as in Luke 17:35-36. Some wrongly say the word means "left behind" in all cases and therefore is referring to the rapture. This is not true. The Greek word aphieemi can also be translated forsaken, to forgive, forsook, leaving. Context determines the meaning.

Summary. Some years ago I had Dr. Rusty Penney write an article for me on this subject. He summarized with some excellent points:
  1. The context of Matthew, and of this passage itself, shows Christ was speaking about His coming to reign and not the rapture.
  2. Matthew 23 Christ was giving a denunciation of the Jewish leaders and was proclaiming that their house was desolate. This leads to the judgment mentioned in chapter 24.
  3. The destruction of the temple is also in view in the context, not some event for the church age.
  4. The disciples had no understanding of the church or of the rapture at this time. They were asking Jewish questions.
  5. The disciples understood the "end of the age" had to do with the tribulation and judgment period just before the Messiah returns.
  6. When the disciples asked about a sign of His coming they would be asking for a sign of which He would fully reveal of Himself as the Messiah, not as the Head of the church.
  7. If Christ is answering specific questions the rapture is excluded in His answers.
  8. Christ in Matthew refers to the "birth pangs" and the fact that "few would be left" just before He returns. He is referring to the period when the Jews are back in the land just prior to the tribulation. He is paraphrasing Jeremiah 30.
  9. The disciples would have understood "the gospel of the kingdom" as the good news about the messianic reign, not simply about the gospel of personal salvation alone.
  10. In Matthew 24 Christ refers to Jewish issues: "the Sabbath," "those living in Judea," "the abomination of desolation (that takes place when the temple is rebuilt)," and uses the strong messianic term "the Son of Man."
  11. Matthew 24:31 cannot be the rapture because the entire context is dealing with Christ's Second Coming.
  12. The ones "taken" are removed for judgment not heavenly blessing.
  13. For the rapture to be mentioned in Matthew 24, the context, or part of the context at the end, would have to be changed to dealing with the church age, not the tribulation.
It was mainly (but not exclusively) with older dispensational writers that it was taught the rapture was in Matthew 24. Upon closer examination of the context of the passage, most changed their minds! But unfortunately there are often holdouts who "won't give up the ship"! This is why, we all must work on our objectivity and avoid our subjectivity! After all, we are handling God's Word and we want to know what He says and not simply what we think.

Conclusion. "Certainly the church, the body of Christ, cannot be in view in these statements [about one taken and one left]. The Lord was not describing the Rapture, for the removal of the church will not be a judgment on the church. If this were the Rapture, as some commentators affirm, the Rapture would have to be posttribulational, for this event occurs immediately before the Lord's return in glory. But that would conflict with a number of Scriptures and present other problems …" (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)

    Thanks for asking.
    Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What Is Happening in the World?

Dr. Couch, I know you have written about this before but where do you think we are today-that is, what is happening in the world? 
While I am not a date-setter I believe we are closer to the Middle East falling apart than we can imagine! One of our generals in Iraq recently said if we just pull out of that country, Iran has said it will move in to fill the vacuum. He predicted our gasoline would go up to $9 a gallon! Saudi Arabia would not stand for such an Iranian invasion and would suddenly move against that country. Full scale war would break out, and of course, one of the targets in the conflict would be Israel. 

Meanwhile, most of the American people, specifically the younger people, and the populations of Europe, are enjoying themselves to the fullest. Drugs, entertainment, promiscuity, homosexuality, etc. are running rampant. Half of our young people have some form of sexual disease. There is no stopping AIDS. The use of drugs is not slowing down! We are deep into moral decay but few people believe it. 

Watch how psychology and fear rule in the reporting media. "Are you SAFE?" is the standard question on news reporting. We do not take personal responsibility. The government must make us SAFE. Common sense is out the window! When something tragic happens someone has to be blamed. I saw a piece yesterday where little kids on the playground were "stressed" out when they played touch tag. "Someone is running after me," they whined. So touch tag was removed from the playground! Stupid madness!
We are a sick, sick society, and few understand this or see it. 

In my opinion, apart from a super miracle, there is no turning back! The Bible is so repudiated in the cultural arena that its influence will never return. I am sure some reading this will disagree. So only time will tell whether I am right or not. 

We have moved to the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah. 

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Who to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And clever in their own sight. (Isa. 5:20)

Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done?
They were not even ashamed at all;
They did not even know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At that time that I punish them, they shall be cast down. (Jer. 6:15)

The Bible tells us an apostasy is certain in the last days. I believe we are there! 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mid-Acts Dispensation?

Dr. Couch, some argue for a Mid-Acts Dispensation, splitting the sixth (dispensation of grace) into two parts. They do this because they say the gospel was not TRULY sent to the Gentiles in the early stages of Acts. Though the church started at Pentecost, they note, Gentiles did not come to Christ until later. They put it this way:
  • – Dispensation of Grace to the Jews
  • – Dispensation of Grace to Jews and Gentiles.
How do you answer this? 
    I really get tried in my spirit with arguments like this. I have found that folks who have such strange views generally have a hidden agenda. They are being argumentative and also they prove how little they know! 

    By the way, where would it say “The gospel was NOT sent to the Gentiles in the early stages of Acts,” as if it was prohibited? This is an attempt to read something into the historical narrative that is not there. Christ had already said the gospel would go “even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The gospel would spiral out from Jerusalem to Judea, to Samaria, and to the remotest parts. 

    This may seem tough, but again, I smell an agenda that has no objective merit.
    First, as you well noted, the church is mentioned from Acts 2:47 all the way up to 9:31. Thus, the church was called the church early on in Acts. It is only common sense that the church would begin in Jerusalem with Christ’s promise to the disciples to wait there for the coming of the Holy Spirit. To split the dispensation of grace is then something that comes from an argument of silence, and this is not good enough to be contending for a new (point #6B) dispensation!
    If we’re going to split this dispensation I guess we have to make the division at Acts 8:4-on because Philip went down to Samaria in these verses and preached the gospel to the Gentiles there. This whole argument then starts to get silly. 

    You mentioned some “big” guys who hold to this split dispensational view. It amazes me how one can go off onto the side road instead of staying on the main thoroughfare with the thousands of good dispensational teachers who don’t see this problem! 

    It reminds me of the guy who goes into a room and sees the table set with a big plate of barbeque ribs but spots a dead mouse on the floor in the corner. Instead of heading for the ribs he heads for the dead mouse going, “yum yum”! There always seems to be someone who gravitates to the lesser view rather than that which makes the most biblical sense! 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, May 11, 2007

Did Moses See God in Human Form?

Dr. Couch, what is going on in Exodus 24:9-18? Did Moses see actually God in human form? 
    This at first glance seems to be a tough passage. But looking carefully at all that is said here, it is not. While the passage does say the elders and Moses “say the God of Israel,” what is really happening? 

    Verses 9-10 may be the summary section of the passage. The details are spelled out in the verses that follow. “Seeing God” may simply mean they witnessed some kind of effusion that reflected His glory. (Effusion means “a pouring forth”) The verses go on and tell us that Moses and Joshua then go up closer on the mountain, and into a thick cloud. The Lord spoke out of the cloud. From the cloud His glory was made manifest. 

    If Moses and the elders did see God in human form, it would have been the Angel of Jehovah, or God in revealed physical form, that is, the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only member of the Trinity who was revealed in flesh. In many ways, this Exodus 24 passage is not strange. The Angel of Jehovah (God) made many appearances throughout the Old Testament. (Jacob even wrestled with God [Christ]) And those who heard His voice and saw Him in physical form knew they were standing before God but the full revelation of the Son, and the fact that He would appear in flesh on a permanent basis, had not been completely explained. 

    The apostle John, and Christ, made it clear that God the Father is Spirit and that no one has ever seen Him (John 1:18; 4:24). 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What Is A DD Degree?

Dr. Couch, I notice that you have a DD degree. What is that? 
    This an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. It is conferred upon Bible teachers who have made a contribution in some field of theology or biblical scholarship. About 100 years ago this was the standard theological academic degree. The Ph.D. came to America slowly and for some time had little influence. It was at first a European university degree and unfortunately was more philosophical in nature than textual. Therefore in Europe it represented more liberal and secular academics in the field of theology. 

    If you look in the front of most of the old Bible theologies and commentaries you’ll find that the old guys generally had an earned Master of Arts (MA). But after some years of making a contribution as pastor, or seminary teacher, they were honored by some school with a DD degree. 

    Do not make fun of the DD degree. Some years back it represented the best in scholarly achievement! In the 1920s and 1930s many schools were giving a bachelor of theology (B. Theo.). Then the Th.M. became popular, followed by a Doctor of Theology degree (Th.D.). The most recent upper level degree put forth in theology has been a D.Min., or Doctor of Ministry. 

    Looking at the seminary studies of Dr. John Walvoord one can observe the spread of theological academics that he invested in. He held a BA degree, a Th.B., an MA, a Th.M., a Th.D., and was conferred upon by Wheaton College with a DD. I personally hold a BA, a Th.M., an MA, a Ph.D., a Th.D., and a DD. My degrees come from some of our best institutions but also several medium size schools. The Th.B. died out long ago and is generally speaking no longer conferred. 

    The purpose of degrees is to represent work accomplished and discipline exerted in order to better prepare to serve Christ. Degrees do not make anyone more spiritual nor do they make anyone smarter. They may show that one has honed certain skills in order to better tear apart and explain the great truths of the Word of God. They certainly represent a lot of discipline and research put forth in order to know more deeply spiritual truth. What comes out of the heart and the mouth of the teacher of Scripture is more important than the piece of paper hanging on the wall. When I face the Lord at the Bema Seat He will not be impressed with my academics. He will ask if I was faithful in serving Him with what I was blessed to be given! 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Examples of Games Christians Play

Dr. Couch, you often speak of “Games Christians play!” Give some examples. 
    Generally speaking, what drives Christian Game Playing is: (1) “envy, strife, and division” that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 3. (2) The “disability” of some Christians to look at themselves. Here are some of the things that help us identify Christian Game Players:
  • (1) If they have differences they just sneak out into the night, leave and tell no one they are going.
  • (2) When they first come to your church they say: “Oh, this church is just what I am looking for!” Don’t believe it until they have been there for some time.
  • (3) They pride themselves on their perfection and “holiness.” Watch out! They’ll judge you and stab you in the back!
  • (4) They’ll tell you, “No, I’m not from a fighting fundy denomination!” But they are and you’ll find it out later!
  • (5) When they start to leave (which they won’t tell you about) they quit giving their offering. A sure sign they are about to bail out!
  • (6) The games they play are usually negative! They don’t like: Awana, this or that person teaching their kid, etc., etc.!
  • (7) They are “rule” oriented. They are extremely tight in their Christian walk, very judgmental, legalistic, usually King James only.
  • (8) The wife does all the griping. The husband just looks like a bump on the log! Watch out!
  • (9) If you are a new pastor, be careful of the first couple who takes you out to dinner. They often are the ones who will do a surprise attack some time later.
  • (10) They do not sit down and discuss problems. They can’t because they know they are wrong in so many of their views. So they will just look sour and stay their distance.
  • (11) Another sign they are about to leave is that they will start coming to church late and leave early. That means they are about to punt the ball and head out the door!
    In all my years of ministry I have seen this kind over and over. People who do these things are spiritual cowards, immature wimps, and deadly to a warm, open congregation. Let them go! Don’t run after them and say, “Oh, please, what is wrong!” They love to be begged! You don’t need these folks. 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Why Are Some People So Drawn to Covenant Theology

Dr. Couch, why are some people so drawn to Covenant Theology when, as you correctly point out, it is not textual and biblical? And, how did it come about?
    For an excellent summary of Covenant Theology I suggest the book Dispensationalism, by Dr. Charles Ryrie (Moody). He has an excellent review of this false theological teaching. But here is a synopsis: 

    Covenant Theology promotes two covenants, (1) the covenant of works, and (2) the covenant of grace. Both ideas are not found in the Bible as admitted by J. Barton Payne, Louis Berkhof, and Charles Hodge. They say, and admit, that these so-called covenants are implied but not explicit in Scripture. Our early parents could have "worked" for salvation but they failed because of sin. This has to do with the Covenant of Works. Christ then agreed by a covenant, in eternity past, to be the Redeemer—the Covenant of Grace. The Bible does not say this about Christ. It says however that He was faithful and obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. But that does not constitute the making of a covenant (a contract) with God the Father! 

    Covenant Theology does not appear in the writings of Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin. The earliest traces of the covenant idea are found in the second level of Reformers such as Andrew Hyperious, Olevianus, Eglinus, and William Ames (1576-1633). But the first to systematize the false views of Covenant Theology was Johannes Cocceius (1603-1669). Little was known at the time of this system. A theologian by the name of Herman Witsius (1636-1708) was mainly responsible for extending the idea of the Covenant of Grace back into eternity past. 

    Covenant Theology came to America with the Puritans through the writings of Francis Turretin and Herman Witsius. Charles and A. A. Hodge of Princeton expounded this view in their systematic theologies. J. Barton Payne (whom I knew personally), who was a Covenant theologian, admitted that the Covenant of Grace was not really in Genesis 3:15, which many such Covenant Theology teachers tried to claim. He had to be honest and say that the word "covenant" was not even in the verse. Oswald Allis, a Covenant theologian, also concurred and added that, if this covenant was in Genesis 3:15, "it was cryptic," i.e. it was buried or hidden somehow! Ryrie comments:
This is all very strange and hard to swallow, especially when the biblical covenants with Abraham, Israel, David, and others are so clearly and specifically revealed [in Scripture]. (p. 190) Many of the Covenant theologians, such as Charles Hodge and Herbert Carson cite scriptural references for the Covenant of Grace using the Abraham Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, and the covenants with David. With intellectual and spiritual dishonesty they simply plaster the Covenant of Grace over on top of these true covenants clearly mentioned in the Word of God! 

    One of the biggest faults of Covenant Theology, along with the fact that its so called “covenants” can not be found in Scripture, is (1) the claim that one interprets the Old Testament by interpreting back with the New Testament. The Covenant guys do not fully believe in progressive revelation, i.e. all of the Bible is flowing forward. The Old Testament should be taken as it is. While there is fulfillment in the New Testament, this is not the same as to what they mean. They re-write the Old Testament by the New! 

    (2) The allegorical interpretation that comes out of Covenant Theology. This is driven by the fact that the OT is interpreted by the NT. The kingdom mentioned in the Gospels is the Church, and therefore the idea of the kingdom in the OT is allegorized and spiritualized away rather than taken literally. 

    James Orr gives a correct criticism of the raw failure and dishonesty of Covenant Theology:
It failed to seize the true idea of the development [of the Bible], and by an artificial system of typology, and allegorizing interpretation, sought to read back practically the whole of the New Testament into the Old. But its most obvious defect was that, in using the idea of the Covenant as an exhaustive category, and attempting to force into it the whole material of theology, it created an artificial scheme which could only repel minds of simple and natural notions.
    On the subject and personal level I believe that Bible teachers with limited grasp attach themselves to Covenant Theology for two reasons: (1) Elitism. They like to claim that they are "Reformed" in their theology. This has a classical ring to their ears that makes them feel somehow intellectual! This generates a sense of false pride. (2) They do not let the Bible speak for itself and take it in its natural, normal meaning. They prefer to impose a false system on the Bible that cannot hold up to fair scrutiny. 

    Ryrie well summarizes:
  1. Cov. Theo. was not the doctrinal system of the early church.
  2. Cov. Theo. is not based on specific scriptural passages.
  3. Cov. Theo. has a hermeneutical straightjacket that forces Scripture in reading the NT back into the OT, in an artificial typological interpretation.
  4. In order to maintain a unity in the means of salvation, CT occasionally speaks about salvation by the Mosaic Law.
    Finally, some say, “Well, is not dispensationalism a new view and is not found in Scripture?” WRONG! The word dispensation (oikonomea) is used to describe the period of the church age, the Mosaic Law, and possibly the coming earthly, historic, literal millennial kingdom (which most covenant guys would deny). This is mentioned in the books of Ephesians and Colossians. Dispensationalism is not an artificial system imposed upon the Bible. We can clearly OBSERVE the various changes in the economies of the Bible, i.e. the dispensations! Remember OBSERVATION is one of the keys to Bible study. The covenant theologians have to ASSUME the reality of the so-called Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace because they are not in the Bible! 

    What I find most interesting is that the covenant guys have no answers as to what is happening in the Middle East. They have no comments about the Jews returning back to their promised homeland. I am convinced that most covenant guys are anti-Semitic, at least by their silence concerning Israel. 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, May 7, 2007

What is Happening with our Christian Universities?

Dr. Couch, what is happening with our Christian Universities? 
    I take it you are referring to the paganization of the Liberal Arts schools that claim a Christian stance. There are only a few that are holding the line and giving a firm biblical orientation to the courses they teach. But in time, they will collapse into cultural socialization and become pagan in what is taught in the classrooms. Many Christian universities already teach evolution in their biology departments. In fact, at Baylor in Waco, the faculty almost held a sit-down protest when some professors were going to come in and explain creationism. 

    The downhill progression of Christian schools of higher education goes something like this: (1) a Bible institute, (2) a Bible college, (3) a Christian university, (4) and in time, within that Christian university, a separation of influence of the Bible with the Liberal Arts courses. 

    I am examining a book written by a Wheaton (my old school) professor entitle The Idea of a Christian University, (Arthur Holmes, Eerdmans). The book is used for orientation of freshmen Christian university students. It is superb brainwashing, ungodly, deceiving, and tries to tell the kids about how wonderful the world really is. It reeks of feminism. I could not find the masculine pronouns “his, him,” but only the feminine “she.” Men are now but appendages to the world of women. And this is what is stuffed down the throats of young Christians going to the big Christian schools. 

    The book proudly proclaims that “Culture was ordained by God.” John uses the Greek word cosmos to describe worldly culture. He adds, “For all that is in the world (culture, cosmos), the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of abides forever” (1 John 2:16-17). 

    The book goes on: “We meet the apostles who talk of the Lordship of Christ in everything, and in their missionary work use cultural vehicles, even Greek philosophical concepts, to communicate the gospel.” WOW! Mercy on the poor little freshman Christians!
    One more quote that will make you gag: “Implicit in the doctrine of creation is a cultural mandate and a call to the creative integration of faith with learning and culture.” Where in the world does the author find such concepts in the Word of God? I haven’t the foggiest notion! 

    Another book equally damaging for Christian college students is The Transforming Vision, by Brian Walsh and J. Richard Middleton (IVP). Young students are likewise brainwashed into believing that Western Christian culture was bad, missionaries of years past who tried to remove the pagan influence from converts were awful, and integration of world views, or certainly a good dose of tolerance, is the thing to do in our multi-cultural environment. Can you imagine trying to tell that to the apostles Peter and Paul! 

    I believe our Christian and biblical witness in this culture is just about over. Persecution is not far away. Our Christian youngsters are being brainwashed in supposedly Christian settings that will weaken and destroy them if they are not thoroughly grounded in God’s Word! 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch