Maxey - Broking Discussion
A Critical Review and Defense of
Down, But Not Out

Thursday, July 6, 2000

A Response by Al Maxey to
Darrell Broking's Comments

In my previous response to Darrell I quoted the following from the Expositor's Bible Commentary with regard to David eating the showbread: "The rigidity of the Pharisees' interpretation of the law is not in accord with Scripture itself." I then stated "this is the very principle I sought to convey in chapter two of my book." Darrell believes, however, that "the principle conveyed in chapter two is erroneous," and thus he feels compelled to "correct the erroneous principle and direct minds back to the word of God."

Consider carefully the above principle. It deals with one's hermeneutical approach to God's inspired Word. Is Scripture to be viewed as a legal document which must be searched word for word for the purpose of establishing law, both specified and implied, the scrupulous observance of which assures one of justification and salvation? Must one rigidly bind both declared and deduced laws in order to achieve divine favor? Or, is the inspired Word a collection of documents, fully God-breathed, whose purpose is to reveal the nature of our God, His will for our lives, His plan for our redemption, and our response to His grace? Is it a revelation of His Son Jesus, His life and work, and an invitation to accept His loving self-sacrifice on our behalf? Do these documents contain a divine call to a rigid religion in which we seek to appease an angry God by engaging in strictly regulated ritualistic acts of service and worship (correctly performed, of course), or is it a call to a restored relationship with a loving Father through hearts surrendered to Him in holy living?

The Pharisees' approach to Scripture, and their view of law, was characterized by harshness and rigidity, and the exclusion of all who would not eagerly conform to their interpretations of Scripture or their religious practices and preferences. It cared less for people than for precepts. That is a poor principle by which to live. Darrell suggests, however, that this view is "erroneous." Notice, though, how Jesus characterized the scribes and Pharisees: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others" (Matt. 23:23). Jesus does not condemn these religionists and legalists for their observance of law. What He condemns is an attitude which was so narrow and rigid in its focus that they failed to see beyond the letter of the law to the spirit of it. In their quest for religious exactness they had failed to perceive the very qualities of heart and life which God truly desired of His people. Qualities such as mercy and compassion were left on the wayside, as were the people in need of them, in their quest to be legally correct.

The same is done today by those more intent on achieving perfection in keeping law than in extending love and compassion to people about them who are in legitimate need. Husbands and wives will be torn apart, marriages broken, wives and children cast into the streets, if in the view of these rigid religionists some law inferred or deduced from some passage is not being scrupulously observed. Men will be vilified and excluded from fellowship, for example, if they believe one may acceptably sing and pray at the same time (the "sin" of "mixing acts of worship"). Entire congregations will be shunned if they observe the Lord's Supper with individual disposable cups rather than "one cup." People will be verbally assaulted and their reputations ruined if they dare to eat in a church building, use the "wrong version" of the Bible, have a children's worship, clap during a song or baptism, attend the wrong college, or provide a link on a web page to a source not approved by party potentates. This is what legalistic rigidity in biblical interpretation has led to throughout the ages, and it impacts every area of our walk with Christ. It is this which I decried and denounced. And it is this which Darrell has characterized as "erroneous."

Darrell states that the root of my problem is I have "a lack of respect for Bible authority." He further states, "False teaching on the subject of marriage, divorce and remarriage is just a symptom of his failure to respect the authority of the Bible." Perhaps this is why he hesitates to address any of my teaching on MDR, he's getting to the "root of the problem." Darrell is convinced I have no respect for the authority of the Bible, and therefore I am preaching and teaching Al Maxey's opinions rather than God's Word. It's not Bible authority I have no respect for, Darrell, rather it's party politics.

This is a common tactic, by-the-way; one which has been employed for centuries. If someone can't refute the specific teaching itself, then the "next best thing" is to cast aspersions upon the one doing the teaching. For the record, let me state (as I have stated previously ... and will undoubtedly have to state again): I regard the Bible as the Standard, the final Word, the ultimate authority, by which we determine doctrine and by which we guide our lives before our God. I have the utmost respect for the authority of the Bible. Where Darrell has erred in his "reasoning" is in thinking that if one differs with him then one differs with God. If Darrell and I interpret a passage differently then he concludes that not only is my interpretation false, but furthermore I have no love for God or respect for the authority of His Word. If I truly loved God and respected His inspired Word then obviously I would just naturally agree 100% with everything Darrell said.

The "root of the problem" is NOT that I have no respect for Bible authority; the root of the problem is that I differ with Darrell. That does not mean either of us is a false teacher, or a heretic, or that either of us has no respect for biblical authority. It simply means that two men, who both love their God, have carefully and prayerfully applied themselves to a search for better understanding of a particular subject (in this case MDR) and have honestly arrived at differing conclusions. For one to then begin a process of publicly vilifying the other, and trashing the other's good name and ministry, as is too often the case in such situations, is a horrendous injustice, and certainly not worthy of the name "Christian." The Christian methodology, when two people differ, is to forgo the caustic remarks and simply open God's Word together with love and respect for one another and the inspired writings, and begin a search together for Truth. I hope and pray that is exactly what Darrell and I will pledge to do in this published discussion. Anything less is only a victory for Satan.

There were many things in Darrell's post that are certainly worthy of in-depth examination, but I'm not sure they are "on track" with the objective of this discussion. The charge has been repeatedly made, both in private and in public, by a certain small, yet vocal, element in the church, that my teaching with regard to MDR, as contained in my book Down, But Not Out, constitutes "false doctrine." So far, there has been very little, if any, specific substantiation of that charge provided. We have spent a considerable amount of time examining peripheral matters, talking about David eating showbread, and the like, but some readers must be wondering WHEN we are ever going to begin discussing MDR, and what my opponent finds so damnable with regard to this topic in my book. Frankly, I'm wondering the same thing.

If Darrell wants to undertake a separate published discussion dealing with biblical authority, I will gladly engage him in such a study. If he wants to focus on a debate over the versions of the Bible, I will be happy to study this with him also. I use the NIV in my book, and Darrell writes, "The NIV is often used by individuals wanting to get their man made doctrines from a Biblical text. The NIV is not a reliable standard translation of the Bible and has been worked to support many doctrines of men." Debating the comparative worth of versions and translations is beyond the scope of our current discussion. But, it certainly is an interesting topic, and I would love to pursue it with Darrell in a separate discussion, if he would like.

Darrell also made several statements concerning law and grace that would make extremely interesting topics of discussion, but to pursue these fascinating topics right now would get us so sidetracked from the matter at hand (the specific statements in my book concerning MDR which Darrell believes constitute "false doctrine"), that I must resist anything other than a brief comment at this time (although my invitation to Darrell to discuss them in-depth at another time, or concurrently with this present discussion, still stands).

For example, Darrell said: "That God's grace is inseparable from his law is seen in Titus 2:11-12 where grace instructs, yes it commands, men to live in harmony with God's law." Here is what Paul says in the above mentioned passage: "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age." I fail to see how this passage teaches what Darrell has stated. How does this passage declare that grace is inseparable from law?

Darrell further wrote: "Men make a tremendous error when seeking to quench New Testament law with grace." That is a rather shocking statement to me, and perhaps one day Darrell will allow me to engage him in a more detailed study of this doctrine of his. But, again, this is hardly the time or place for a debate on law versus grace, any more than it is the time or place for an extended debate on "versionism."

Darrell, you made reference to "God's second law of pardon" about halfway through your post. I am unfamiliar with this phrase, and am at a loss as to what you meant. Perhaps you could clarify that phrase to me, and let me know what "God's second law of pardon" is. Thanks.

You stated, "Maxey lists some matters of direct disobedience to God's word (children's worship, or singing with the aid of an instrument)." Again, I would sincerely love to discuss each of these items (and others) with you in some depth, but they clearly fall outside the parameters of this present discussion. At some point I think our readers are actually going to expect us to begin a discussion of marriage, divorce and remarriage --- and specifically what it is you find "false" in my book. Perhaps we could begin to head back in that direction!!!

I was rather shocked to read the following statements by you, Darrell: "The New Testament teaches a 'system of systematic religion.' It is called the gospel ....... The system of New Testament law is so important ....... James teaches systematic religion." I cannot even begin to agree with such a concept. I believe it to be totally false. However, again, our current discussion is not on the nature of the book of James, or whether James teaches "systematic religion," or if the gospel is a system of systematic religion. I would be happy to discuss this outside of this current exchange on MDR, however, if you so desire. In the meantime, if you would like to hear my response to this doctrine of yours, you can access a sermon on my web page on this very topic; a sermon which I have preached several times over the years entitled Our Lord Jesus Christ: The Answer to Systematic Religion and Other Life Challenges. Perhaps you will find it helpful.

Darrell wrote, somewhat more on topic, "Jesus did not speak in English and the original manuscripts were not written in English. In a strictly technical sense Jesus never said 'living in adultery.'" I want to thank you for acknowledging that fact, Darrell. That is a very important point, and you will hear it again when we get to our discussion of the teaching of Jesus Christ on MDR. The entire doctrine of a second union somehow constituting "living in SIN" or "living in ADULTERY" (being a continuous state) is a matter of INTERPRETATION. The Scriptures do NOT state this in those words, it must be inferred by men. Frankly, I believe that inference to be false in most practical applications, and I will attempt to demonstrate such when we get to that point in our discussion.

Yes, the NT documents were not written in English. That is why I spent years at the university, at the undergraduate and graduate levels, studying Greek. I was determined to know firsthand what had been written, and not have to rely on the various translations and versions. To date, I have translated virtually the entire NT word for word. It is an eye-opening experience, and I hope to share some of those insights with you, Darrell, and with our readers, when we begin to pick apart the statements by Jesus and Paul pertaining to MDR.

You wrote: "From the original one may only conclude that Jesus' position is that unscriptural marriages, as pertaining to divorce and remarriage, constitute a continued state of adultery." I'm not sure what "original" document YOU have been reading, but I can assure you that your above premise is not correct. "One may ONLY conclude"?!! I think not! I believe I can conclusively demonstrate that your conclusion is NOT the "ONLY" conclusion which can be drawn from the original, and that it is not even the most logical.

Darrell asked: "Why write a book espousing the position that unscripturally remarried people do not live in sin?" I don't believe I have ever stated this in my book, Darrell. There are indeed examples of remarriages in Scripture which I firmly believe DO constitute a continuing sinful state. For example: It was not lawful for Herod to have his brother's wife. God's law clearly declared that to be a sinful state, and as long as Herod had that woman he was in a sinful state. If a man were to marry his mother or daughter, that too would be a continuing sinful state; or if a man were to marry a man. My book does NOT "espouse the position that UNscripturally remarried people do not live in sin." I have never taught that. However, where you and I need to make a clarification at the appropriate time, Darrell, is in determining what exactly constitutes "UNscriptural REmarriage." Does the Bible tell us? That is the question to which we must find an answer when we get to the teaching of Jesus and Paul.

Darrell, you mentioned that Jesus' statement in Matthew 12:4 --- "which was not lawful for him to eat" --- was a case of Jesus using the literary device known as "sarcasm." I'll have to admit, that's the first time I have ever heard THAT explanation for this passage. I believe that is quite a hermeneutical stretch just to try and justify one's personal interpretation.

You wrote: "Did David have authority to eat the shewbread? Yes he did! ..... As Bible students are aware, the priest of God was able to communicate directly with the Lord through the 'urim' and 'thummin.' When David sought to eat the old shewbread, Ahimelech inquired of the Lord and then after getting word from the Lord he gave David the shewbread (1 Sam. 22:10). David's exceptive clause came directly from the Lord."

Well, that interpretation got my attention! Again, it is certainly one I had never come across before. However, it sent me back to the Bible to do some further investigation, because frankly I don't remember the Scripture teaching that scenario as you have described it. But you seemed so sure of yourself, so I figured I'd better check again. The first place I checked was the gospel records, and, of course, there was no mention of the priest "inquiring of the Lord" and getting permission for David to eat the showbread. I then checked the historical account in I Sam. 21:1-6. Again, no mention is made of the priest inquiring of the Lord.

We are informed that one of the servants of Saul was there that day, however. His name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul's shepherds (I Sam. 21:7). In 22:9-10 we discover this man informing Saul as to what he had observed that day: "I saw the son of Jesse come to Ahimelech son of Ahitub at Nob. Ahimelech inquired of the Lord for him; he also gave him provisions and the sword of Goliath the Philistine."

This passage does indeed tell us that the priest made inquiry of the Lord for David. But what exactly was the nature of that inquiry? Darrell seems to think the priest inquired of the Lord to see if it would be acceptable for David to break the law and eat the showbread. That, however, is pure speculation. Nowhere is this even suggested. In fact, the context of the whole discussion in these two chapters points more to this inquiry being with regard to David's situation with Saul. We find Saul bemoaning the fact that no one was giving him advice on how to proceed, but then he hears that David is able to make inquiry of the Lord through this priest. Saul calls the priest in "on the carpet" and demands an explanation. Saul said, "Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, giving him bread and a sword and inquiring of God for him, so that he has rebelled against me and lies in wait for me, as he does today?" (I Sam. 22:13). Here we see that the "inquiring" is clearly removed from the giving of bread; there is no implied link whatsoever. Indeed, the inquiring, as well as the provisions of food and a weapon, are viewed by Saul as a "conspiring" against the king, not a seeking of legal permission to let David eat the showbread.

Notice also what the priest says rather boldly in response to Saul: "Was that day the first time I inquired of God for him? Of course not!" (I Sam. 22:15). There had obviously been many occasions where David had sought advice of the Lord through this avenue with the priest. David was concerned over his perilous situation with Saul, and had continually sought the advice of his God through this priest. It is this the priest is accused of by Saul, and basically it is this that the priest defiantly admits to (which would cost him his life). Saul obviously could have cared less if the priest had simply made inquiry about eating showbread, but it was the advice David sought in his dealings with Saul, this "conspiracy," that clinched the fate of the priest.

Darrell, the fact of the matter is: your assumptions from the historical account are completely unwarranted, and I believe represent more EISegesis than EXegesis. There is nothing in the account which even remotely suggests that the priest inquired of the Lord as to whether or not David could be given a "divine exception clause" with regard to the showbread. This is a perfect example, Darrell, of how one can read something INTO the text of the Scripture in an attempt to validate one's personal interpretation. That is not sound exegesis of a biblical text, and a lesser man might suggest it reflects a lack of respect for biblical authority.

Well, we are drawing ever closer to our examination of the "final word" on MDR (Matthew 19:9). There remains only one more chapter in my book dealing with the OT canon. I suppose your next post will deal with the material in chapter three (The Prophetic Books) which you believe to be "out of harmony" with God's inspired Word. That chapter examines the teaching on MDR contained within the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Micah and Malachi. After that we will be ready for the NT documents, and the teaching of Jesus and Paul.

I eagerly await your next post, Darrell. May God richly bless this study of His Word, and may we engage in this search for greater understanding with a mutual love and respect for God, Scripture and one another.

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