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More Bible Twisting and Theological Revisionism

Jun 3, 2017

When I first saw this hit piece I yawned and returned to my bowl of Corn Flakes. Ho-hum, yet another tired, lame case of theological rubbish from yet another leftist activist. I am so tired of these revisionist writers and their revisionist articles.

I have answered them dozens of times now in my books and articles – as have others – but these folks think they are being oh so clever and cute to pen these pieces over and over. They really think they have come up with some new, knock-down argument that will forever silence those who treat the Word of God with respect and not contempt.

scripture twistingAs I say: ho-hum. So very tedious and tiring to have to even read these utterly vacuous and disingenuous pieces. So much baloney is being packed into so little space. It may be time for these folks to find a new day job. But of course as long as the hyper secular left ABC exists, they will keep running with these sophomoric pieces.

Consider one Robyn J. Whitaker, a lecturer in Biblical Studies at Trinity College Theological School, Melbourne University. What her page says is revealing enough: “Lecturer, historian, biblical scholar, social commentator, and author. Areas of expertise: bible, sexuality, gender equality, feminism, apocalyptic, evil, end of the world, religious rhetoric, and contemporary use of the bible in political discourse.”

Now that’s a surprise! She is into feminism, gender equality, sexuality, political discourse, etc. In other words yet another political and theological liberal who wants people to think she actually takes the Word of God seriously. Just another dime-a-dozen theological revisionist pushing her radical left hobby horses. Yawn some more.

Her article, which first appeared in the leftist Conversation, but then was gleefully picked up by the ABC and other leftist media outlets such as the Sydney Morning Herald, takes Christian pastor and tennis great Margaret Court to task for daring to say that marriage is a heterosexual affair.

Whitaker claims Court is wrong, that the Bible is full of all sorts of permissible sexualities, and she should stop taking the Bible so literally. I have dealt with these weak-as-water objections time and time again, but it looks like I must do it yet once more.

In my 2011 book Strained Relations I presented “Ten ploys of the theological revisionists”. Whitaker seems to have run with most of them in her scurrilous and deliberately deceptive piece. She begins her piece with my first ploy: “An old book, an old culture”.

She writes: “Much of the Bible was written 2,500 years ago, when family life was very different.” Whenever you see someone talk about how ancient the Bible is, you know you are dealing with a theological scoundrel. It is as if God is fully culture-bound, and he needs to get with the times.

It is as if God has no transcendent, moral absolutes when it comes to human sexuality, and therefore anything goes. The simple truth is heterosexual marriage has always been God’s morally acceptable vehicle for human sexuality. This is found in the opening chapters of Genesis and continues right through to the closing chapters of Revelation.

She continues this line of attack by claiming that the Old Testament characters were involved in all sorts of alternative sexualities and types of marriage, and this proves that God has zero preference in such matters. Thus she highlights cases of polygamy and so on, as if this clinches the argument, and we can all now go home, case closed.

Um, not so fast. This is a typical trick of the revisionists. They conflate description with prescription. Simply because the Bible describes various behaviours does not of course mean that God approves of those behaviours and considers them to be prescriptive.

Rape, incest and murder are also described quite often in the Bible. Only a real enemy of God and his Word would suggest that God therefore fully endorses and promotes such behaviours. But I have already penned two lengthy articles rebutting this nonsense, so perhaps it is best that I direct you to them:

billmuehlenberg.com/2011/12/19/polygamy-and-scripture/
billmuehlenberg.com/2015/04/09/polygamy-and-scripture-2/

Let me quote just a bit from these pieces:

God in his grace often allowed fallen mankind – including his own people – to engage in activities and behaviours which he is not at all thrilled about. He often showed patience and forbearance as his own people moved away from their pagan roots into the fullness of what he had in mind for them….
Because of the hardness of men’s hearts, less than ideal circumstances were sometimes allowed to proceed. But Scripture is also quite clear as it warns about such situations. Indeed, it directly warns against polygamy in places like Deuteronomy 17:17 where we find this said about future kings: “He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.”
And this is just what happened to the likes of King Solomon. The OT makes it clear that there were very real consequences of his polygamy. This is shown time and time again, and the strong words applied to Solomon are true of all the others: “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4).

Another such quote:

Or as Old Testament scholar Richard Davidson puts it in his magisterial Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament, when we examine the patriarchal narratives where examples of plural marriages are found, “the narrator presents each account in such a way as to underscore a theology of disapproval. The record of these polygamous relationships bristles with discord, rivalry, heartache, and even rebellion, revealing the motivations and/or disastrous consequences that invariably accompanied such departures from God’s Edenic ideal.”
He goes on to state that of the 3000 men mentioned in the OT record, only 33 are involved in polygamy, and “invariably the divinely inspired narrators include their tacit condemnation of these practices. Contrary to other ANE legislation, Mosaic legislation condemns all polygamy, both for the people and (at least implicitly) for the king.”
While God at times may show some grace to the polygamist along the way, “the prohibitions in Lev. 18 – including polygamy – are presented as universal law, applicable to all humanity (transcultural) for all time (transtemporal), upholding the order of creation.”
And obviously the New Testament also enjoins monogamous relationships only. As Norman Geisler summarises, “Our Lord reaffirmed God’s original intention by citing this passage (Matt. 19:4) and noting that God created one ‘male and [one] female’ and joined them in marriage. The NT stresses that ‘Each man [should] have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband’ (1 Cor. 7:2). Likewise, Paul insisted that a church leader should be ‘the husband of one wife’ (1 Tim. 3:2, 12). Indeed, monogamous marriage is a prefiguration of the relation between Christ and His bride, the church (Eph. 5:31-32).”

And New Testament scholar Andreas Kostenberger puts it this way:

In short, the Bible is clear that individuals in the history of Israel who abandoned God’s design of monogamy and participated in polygamy did so contrary to the Creator’s plan and ultimately to their own detriment. The sin and disorder produced by polygamy, then, is further testimony to the goodness of God’s monogamous design of marriage as first revealed in the marriage of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

So much for the ‘polygamy is just peachy’ silliness being pushed by the revisionists. But this will not stop Whitaker from offering us more howlers, including this very lame chestnut: “In the New Testament, Jesus said nothing about homosexual relationships or marriage, except that people should not divorce.”

Oh good grief. This is so far past its use-by date that it seems rather pointless to even have to respond to it. This is Ploy #3 in my book. As I said there, “Jesus never said a word about rape, incest, child abuse, arson or pollution. Are we to argue therefore that these behaviours are acceptable? Is anything OK if Jesus did not specifically condemn it or mention it? The truth is, arguing from silence is always poor logic.”

And Jesus of course fully affirmed heterosexual marriage by directly appealing to Genesis 2:24 in Mark 10:6-9 and Matthew 19:4-6. As theologian and ethicist Stanley Grenz remarked, “Christians maintain that this radical teaching of Jesus forms the heart of the biblical understanding of marriage and as such constitutes the ideal in all eras.” And as New Testament Professor Robert Gagnon says, Jesus

shows no awareness, much less acceptance, of any other pattern – even though no Jew in antiquity could have been oblivious to homosexual relationships among many Gentiles. There was no need for him to comment on whether homosexual unions should be permitted and, if so, whether his stance on divorce and remarriage should apply to them too. The creation texts authorized only one type of sexual union. It would have been a forgone conclusion for him that homoerotic relationships and human-animal unions, both proscribed in Leviticus, were unacceptable.

As I conclude in my book, “Thus heterosexual marriage as intended by God is the measuring rod by which we judge homosexuality or any other sexual expression. As Schmidt reminds us, ‘Every sexual act that the Bible calls sin is essentially a violation of marriage, whether existing or potential’.”

And in another shocker she repeats the myth that only things like homosexual rape and power plays are being condemned in Scripture, not “loving” homosexual relationships. Sorry, wrong again Ms Whitaker. I cover this doozey in Ploys 7, 8, and 9 in my book.

Briefly, homosexuality in all its forms is everywhere condemned in the Bible. There are no exceptions to this. Take something like the judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah which the revisionists like to say is only about rape and the like. As I write in my book:

Some seek to argue that it is homosexual rape that is condemned here, not just homosexuality in itself. Hamilton offers four compelling reasons why this cannot be the case, and then concludes, “Clearly, then, the incident frowns on homosexual relations for whatever reason.”
The revisionist account of this story may be appealing to some, but it is not one that can be derived from proper exegesis or hermeneutics. As Hamilton puts it, this “interpretation can only be evaluated as wild and fanciful.”
The mainstream understanding of this text has always seen homosexuality as being clearly in view. As Robert Gagnon reminds us, “the two most prominent Jewish writers of the first century C.E., Philo and Josephus, interpreted Gen. 19:4-11 to refer explicitly to homosexual acts. . . . For Philo and Josephus homosexual conduct was merely the most outrageous example of a much wider range of sinful excess.”

She also drags out the old canard about “neither Jew nor Gentile” as found in Galatians 3:28. That is appalling abuse of Scripture. This has to do with all people, regardless of the social standing, being one in Christ if they are part of the redeemed. It has nothing to do with people losing their genitals and somehow becoming gender-neutral.

As Ben Witherington comments, “Gal. 3:28 has sometimes been called the Magna Carta of Humanity and there is a sense in which that label is apt, but it is also well to be aware that Paul is not suggesting here the obliteration of the distinctions he mentions in this verse, but rather their redemption and transformation in Christ. The new creation is the old one transformed and transfigured. These ethnic, social, and sexual distinctions continue to exist but in Christ they are not to determine one’s soteriological or spiritual or social standing in the body of Christ.”
It is clear that Paul here says nothing about sexual lifestyles. He could have if he so chose, but he did not. As Paul Copan remarks, “Scripture clearly affirms the equality of all individuals – blacks, women, slaves – because they are God’s image-bearers. The same doesn’t hold true for sexual relationships.”

She closes with this line, straight out of the homosexual activists’ playbook:” Christian values of love, justice and inclusion found throughout the Bible are why so many Christians support marriage equality.” Um no. Biblical love is clearly tied in with keeping God’s commands, as Jesus made perfectly clear.

Biblical justice is always connected with God’s righteousness and holiness. Something like homosexuality which is everywhere condemned in Scripture in the strongest of terms is never something Christians can promote, condone or celebrate. And contrary to her secular left “inclusion” nonsense, any straightforward reading of the Bible makes clear its emphasis is really on exclusion.

Those who deliberately shake their fists at God, exult in their sin, make excuses for immorality, and try to twist Scripture to push an agenda of sin and rebellion – as Ms Whitaker so blatantly does – have excluded themselves from Christ and his holy Kingdom.

Unless they repent and start to agree with God, instead of in effect calling him a liar, they sadly are excluded from God now and will be for all eternity. They are the ones – not Mrs Court – who have a lot to answer for. And so do leftist propaganda outfits like the ABC and the SMH.

www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-02/margaret-court-marriage-bible-isnt-meant-to-be-read-so-literally/8583412

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13 Responses to More Bible Twisting and Theological Revisionism

  • Thanks Bill,

    I fully agree that it was timely to revisit the biblical view in the face of such blather.

    Whitacker’s teaching is so clever and so “reasonable” that for the biblically challenged, it appears to be correct. I shudder for the readers in the media who have no real defence against such teaching. I pity her students, who probably expect to get taught the truth, expect to be trained in how to exegete the scriptures, expect to understand the heart of God, from the teaching and example of their teachers and their diligence in their time of study.

    I know people who have studied under this kind of world view, and as one might expect, out pop little clones. These clones spout the same stuff, and get accepted by the mainline denominations.

    It not only takes clear thinking, but it also takes guts to stick to and propagate the revealed truth these days, even amongst those who should be expected to be friends. Jesus said “I will set ……. against ……….” Matt 10.35 How true, as we see churches and families spit over opinions and feelings about these things.

  • Thanks Bill. Well said. I saw comments from some people in leftist newspapers saying that all “nice” Christians should condemn Margaret Court. I have been thinking recently about Christ’s words to his followers: you will all be hated because of my name.

  • When I am confronted by those who say that Jesus didn’t talk about homosexuality I tell them that Jesus cemented what His father said in his Matthew comment and he had a golden opportunity to state the case otherwise but he didn’t. The fact that he didn’t show that alternatives are not accepted by him or God.

  • What a load of meandering and convoluted nonsense Robyn Whitaker wrote! It would take days to dissect everything, but let’s just deal with two things she claims:

    “Reading the Bible to determine the shape of contemporary marriage is not an easy task.”

    and,

    “In the New Testament, Jesus said nothing about homosexual relationships or marriage, except that people should not divorce.”

    As you wrote, this is far from honest, as arguments from silence are very weak. But I would argue that it’s impossible to ignore Mt 19:4-6 and the parallel in Mk 10:6-9 and not apply them to this issue. Jesus very clearly laid out the foundation for marriage and sexual behaviour right there, and it has a very relevant application. Those principles are timeless and above cultural contexts. The claim that Jesus is only teaching about divorce is shallow at best. (In fact, it is a very weighty teaching since Jesus also affirms the historicity of Genesis chapters 1 & 2.)

    But let’s deal with her second claim; note the sequence of the narrative:
    – The Pharisees put question to Jesus about divorce. (Mt 19:3)
    – Jesus answers by defining the created order and with it marriage. He does not mention divorce. (v4-6)
    – Pharisees ask for further clarification on the law of Moses regarding divorce. (v7)
    – Jesus answers by explaining that divorce was a concession from God, not the designed order. (v8-9) So the foundation of marriage remains.

    Jesus did not answer the first question about divorce with a direct answer on that subject, but on the foundational principle (the created order and marriage) divorce law was based upon. So likewise, it is entirely valid to answer about any deviation from God’s design by referring back to the foundational principles of the created order as determined by God. One would say, you are not just following the light of Jesus’ teaching in doing so, but applying His logic. ‘Read the Manual!’, is often the phrase used when something goes wrong with technology; you are applying this principle – how did the engineer envisage his creation and how it is meant to work?

    It is important to remember this – the central reason for rejecting homosexuality – as one of many possibilities outside the proper definition of marriage – is actually the created order as positively affirmed by Jesus in that passage, deflections about divorce notwithstanding. Any questions about sex? Jesus says, read the manual. For all the modern talk about Jesus only loving people and never judging, there’s no room for homosexuality in the model about the foundation for sexual conduct Jesus teaches.

    So even if Sodom and Gomorrah never happened, even if Leviticus 18 & 20 didn’t exist, if Paul never wrote Romans 1 and 1 Cor 6, we would still be compelled to call it wrong only on the basis of what Jesus is recorded as saying in Mt 19/Mk10. And when we combine that revelation with Jesus’ raising of the standard of sexual morality from the OT in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:27-30) and His condemnation of sexual immorality in Rev 2:14 and 2:20, there really is no loophole to shoehorn homosexuality into the new covenant Christian paradigm. No matter what the revisionists claim, Jesus completely shut the door on all that. New Testament marriage is one man and one woman from different families for life, period. All this matters not just in the way we act, but the way we think. Chillingly at the end of Romans 1, Paul tells us that those who approve of sin are as guilty of it as those who directly partake in it.

    The NT is not morally lax, quite the opposite. From the moral standard that is shown in the OT, Jesus teaches we are now called to more than just outward forms. Christians are called to holiness in walking in the Spirit’s truth and power in the very core of who we are, not looking for clever worldly ways to justify and excuse sin. But that in addition to what Jesus said, that such clear prohibitions against homosexuality exist in both the OT and NT, we are, to echo Paul in Rom 1:20, without excuse. Sodom and Gomorrah were culpable without the light of scripture – so how could we possibly avoid the wrath to come if we ignore such clear repeated teaching? I note that Whitaker also tries to claim “There is nothing like the contemporary concept of sexual orientation in the biblical text.” Well yes, so what? Is she claiming Jesus, as the one through whom all things were made, did not know about all of human sexuality? The hubris she shows is astonishing.

    There’s an even worse thing to realise about Whitaker’s position on this subject. Looking back at Mt 19:7, notice that the Pharisees did not answer Jesus with ‘Hang on, Jesus, we asked you about divorce, not marriage’ (as Whitaker’s narrow ‘Jesus never said anything…’ logic would dictate), but continued on with the logic of His argument. In affirming lifelong marriage between a man and a woman, the Pharisees realised that all deviations from that model were being condemned by Jesus, which is why they responded the way they did.

    So we know that claims that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality – or incest or polygamy, or any other sexual corruption – are shallow at best, but I would call them bordering on dishonest. The conclusion we must come to is that Whitaker’s ability to understand scripture is demonstrably worse than the Pharisees! What she is doing teaching others about the Bible is anybody’s guess.

  • Yes quite so Mark. But we expect no less from these sham theologians and lunar left activists.

  • Another great well written rebuff for these “liberal, lets choose how we interpret the Bible to suit what we want it to say” Bill.

  • Is there no way we can stop the ABC from their constant propaganda and lies? Why is it not possible to enforce the laws that are supposed to control the ABC and prevent this sort of biased, absurd and obvious misinformation.

  • I read the following and thought immediately of Robyn J. Whitaker and her ilk. What they are doing is almost exactly this.

    Deu 32:16 They provoked Him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger.
    Deu 32:17 They sacrificed to devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new ones newly come up, whom your fathers did not fear.
    Deu 32:18 You forgot the Rock who brought you forth, and ceased to care for God who formed you.
    Deu 32:19 And Jehovah saw, and despised them because of the provoking of His sons and of His daughters.
    Deu 32:20 And He said, I will hide My face from them; I will see what their end shall be. For they are a very perverse generation, sons in whom is no faithfulness.
    Deu 32:21 They have moved Me to jealousy with a no-god. They have provoked Me to anger with their vanities. And I will move them to jealousy with a no-people. I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.

    (MKJV)

  • This brought to mind – “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. ” So much deceit and misinformation which could lead people astray. Christians should all stand behind Margaret Court’s Biblical view of marriage.

  • I rang Margaret Court’s church on Friday to congratulate her on her stance and moral courage after reading the so called “theological” comments of Robyn Whitaker.

  • Great article again Bill,

    As a Christian I am appalled that someone who calls herself a Christian and a “lecturer in Biblical Studies’ could write this twisted nonsense.
    Satan must love this twist and manipulation of Scripture to undermine God’s marriage covenant between men and women.

    It’s so sad.
    Phil

  • Robyn Whittaker: A modern day Psalm 14 & Psalm 53 fool (in a “Theological College” ? question on “theological” I guess Satan is a perverse one). Thanks Bill I enjoy your sense of humour re these morons – what a pity it has to be in order to make their rubbish tolerable to think about. Thanks to Wayne also. I will send MCs’ church an email now.

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