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

Tuesday, August 22, 2000

A Response by Al Maxey to
Broking's Additional Comments
on the Greek Form Lelusai

Darrell wrote: "The fact that my opponent in this discussion is a man of great knowledge and intellectual ability, has made this exchange a wonderful exercise on the need for Bible based Theology. The challenge of every Bible student is to search all of the obtainable facts on a subject, with a desire to learn and accept only truth."

I fully agree with brother Broking's comments above. There is no question but what the people of this world are in desperate need of a "Bible-based theology." Jesus Himself spoke of those who "nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition" (Matthew 15:6). There has always been a tendency among men to elevate their own uninspired, fallible deductions from the Word to the same level of authority as the clear declarations of our Lord. Such is repeatedly condemned. There is also a tendency to focus on just a few passages in formulating one's theology, rather than carefully and prayerfully examining ALL that the Word reveals with regard to any particular subject.

This is why I have taken the time in my book to examine EVERY passage in the Bible, both OT and NT, which deals with the topic of marriage, divorce and remarriage. It would have been easy to have given in to the demands of many in the religious world and simply focused upon "the final word" with regard to this subject --- Matthew 19:9. I have resisted this temptation, however, as it fails to present the entirety of our Lord's teaching on this most important matter. Although Darrell has refused to even comment upon most of the teaching of God's Word which I dealt with extensively in my book, and although he has repeatedly sought to direct this discussion primarily to a single passage, I have resisted. And I have done so for the very reason he himself stated above.

One of the comments which people have repeatedly made after reading my book is that it is very "Bible-based." Indeed, some have stated it is one of the best they have come across when it comes to giving place to the authority of God's Word, and seeking to examine ALL of God's teaching on the matter, and then bringing that teaching together into a "consistent whole." This is not to boast; it is just a simple observation by others who have studied and benefited from Down, But Not Out. Rather than trying to build a theology upon a single passage, I have instead sought to determine the "whole counsel of God" on this matter, and then, after the evidence is all in, present to the reader that consistent counsel of our God with regard to marriage, divorce and remarriage.

Possessing knowledge and intellectual ability is not incompatible with a Bible-based theology. Ignorance and arrogance, however, quite often are! Hopefully, we can ALL avoid the latter and seek to be intellectually honest enough to examine ALL God has to say about MDR and thus truly form a theology based solely upon His Word. That is exactly what I have sought to do in Down, But Not Out. And if the many tributes to this work are any indication, that effort appears to have been successful.

Darrell wrote: "Scholarship seems to disagree on almost every Bible subject." Again, you are absolutely right in your assessment. This is why engaging in "dueling quotes" will rarely prove convincing to most serious students of the Word. For every scholar who accepts your viewpoint, Darrell, I can easily provide two who support mine! Ultimately, this "proves" nothing except the fact that men, even scholarly men, disagree with one another. There is nothing wrong with providing quotations from others, and indeed such insights are often beneficial in challenging or confirming our own thinking, but ultimately Truth is not always found among those who can boast the greatest number of "scholars" in their camp. Truth typically resides with the remnant unwilling to bow to the beliefs of the masses. Biblical and religious history has demonstrated this repeatedly. Not all who were burned at the stake were "heretics," more frequently it was those lighting the fires and the mindless rabble cheering them on!!

Darrell wrote: "The Bible was written in a manner, which allows the simple, uneducated mind, the same ability to learn the truth on matters of Biblical obligation enjoyed by the educated mind. One will never go wrong when he allows the Bible to be his single guide through life." All I can say to this, brother, is AMEN!!

Darrell wrote: "One who believes in the verbal, plenary, inspiration of the Bible understands that truth does not contradict itself. Therefore the following facts must be induced before any proper deductions can be made." You have pointed out a very important principle of biblical hermeneutics here, Darrell. If one has failed to perceive the clear teaching of Scripture on a particular matter, one's deductions and inferences and assumptions from the relevant texts associated with that doctrine will be flawed. If I begin with the belief, for example, that the focus of Revelation is the great apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church, then my deductions and interpretations will all be swayed by that perception. If I believe that it was written only for the saints of the first century and that it looked to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, then that too will impact my deductions from and interpretation of the text. (I do not embrace either view, by-the-way!)

The same is true of marriage, divorce and remarriage. One can either approach the Word of God with an open heart and mind and simply let the Word speak to the matter (setting aside all preconceived ideas), or one can approach the Word with a theology already firmly in place and use the Bible as a source of "proof-texts." My book began with no assumptions whatsoever. It was simply a search through ALL of God's Word to determine what GOD had to say about the matter. I cared little if the "theology" formulated by this search was popular or traditional. I only cared if it was biblical.

Darrell, I believe you have begun with a theology already in place. This has led you to "deduce" some things from passages which simply are NOT there. And yet you will go to almost unbelievable lengths to validate a position which simply cannot be validated by sound exegesis of the text. I believe this will become increasingly clear to the readers as you attempt to exegete (or should I say eisegete) key passages in the writings of Paul and in the Gospels.

You "deduce," for example, that the word "lelusai can not be a term describing divorce...." because such a view does not agree with your personal interpretation of such passages as Matthew 19:9. But, have you stopped to consider the possibility that your interpretation of Matthew 19:9 may be flawed?! If it is, then this will affect your "deductions" with regard to the import of lelusai. I firmly believe this is exactly what has happened, Darrell. In my view, you have completely failed to perceive the true significance of what Jesus said in that key passage (Matt. 19:9), and thus you are incapable of correctly perceiving the significance of lelusai in the teaching of Paul. To use your words (with only slight modification): "Facts must be correctly induced before any proper deductions can be made." Thus, before we can effectively discuss the teaching of Paul, we must examine the foundational teaching of Jesus. I think this is your cue, Darrell, to begin your critique of the next chapter --- Chapter Five: The Testimony of the Gospel Records.

You made several more statements about lelusai in your post, Darrell, which I believe demonstrate yet again your unfamiliarity with the Greek language. Rather than trying to deal with these flawed perceptions at this time, I will reserve any in-depth refutation until we reach this passage in our discussion of the teaching of Paul. Such analysis will perhaps be more meaningful after we have examined the inconsistencies of your theories with regard to the interpretation of the teaching of Jesus.

I would like to make one final observation, however, on something you said with regard to lelusai. You wrote: "My twelve-year-old son is one who is 'free from a wife.' The act of his birth was passive on his part and from that point until he marries an eligible candidate for marriage, he will be considered 'free from a wife.' ..... After all of the Biblical evidence is introduced and examined, one must eisegete the blanket meaning of divorced into the word lelusai in First Corinthians 7:27."

You state your son is "free from a wife." The point you are making, of course, is that he is "unmarried." My youngest son will be twenty in October, and he also is "unmarried." My son filled out an application the other day (scholarship papers at the university) and one of the questions pertained to marital status. He had several choices: married, single, divorced, widowed. These are the common expressions of our time to describe the various states in which one might find oneself. During the time of Paul, there were also common words and phrases used to describe various states (with regard to relationships).

If one wanted to describe those who had never been married, the Greek term was agamos. This word simply meant "unmarried." Paul uses it four times in I Cor. 7 (verses 8, 11, 32, 34). It is a rather general term and refers to the state of non-marriage, which one could be in for any number of reasons. One who was never married would be agamos. Widows and divorced persons would also be agamos in the broader general sense. However, when further clarification was needed as to the specifics of how one came to be in this state, then other words and phrases were employed in the Greek language. Sometimes other words were even used (like "virgin") to clarify further the condition of the person in the unmarried state. A person may never have been married, and yet still not be a virgin, for example. Such a point was important under the old Law, and was important to Joseph with regard to Mary, and almost caused him to refrain from going ahead with the marriage.

Those in an unmarried state because of the death of a spouse are usually referred to as "widowed." Those in an unmarried state because of divorce are generally called "loosed," or "freed," or "unbound," or one of the other words which conveys the idea of a severing of a bond with another. To my knowledge, there is no place in the Scriptures where a single man (who has never been married; such as your son or mine) is characterized as being "unbound from a wife." If indeed Paul were seeking to speak only to this select group (men who had never, ever married), he would simply have used the word agamos. He didn't. He spoke specifically to those "unbound from a wife." There are only two ways to be "unbound from a wife" --- death or divorce. Frankly, Darrell, (again to use your words, with some modification) "one must EISegete the blanket meaning 'never had a wife' into the word lelusai in First Corinthians 7:27." If Paul were referring to those who had never, ever been married he would NOT have used the word lelusai. And he certainly would not have linked it to the phrase "from a wife." To say that "unbound from a wife" is the same as "never, ever been married" is about equal to calling black white or white black.

Your theory also completely fails to take into account the obvious developing contrast Paul seeks to convey in this passage. If you are bound to a wife, don't seek to be released from your wife. If you are released from a wife, don't seek a wife. To assume, as you have done, that the first statement refers to marriage and divorce, but the second statement refers to one who has NEVER been married, robs this passage of the full force of the almost poetic contrast. This not only violates the rules of biblical hermeneutics, it violates common sense.

Let's rephrase this whole passage in "cowboy" terminology (since I'm from the southwest) for the sake of illustration. "If you are on a bucking bronco, hang on for dear life and don't allow yourself to be thrown off. If you have been thrown off of a bucking bronco, then don't get on one. If you do, however, you haven't violated any law, but you may invite a great deal more bruises on your body, and I'm just trying to spare you further discomfort." According to your theory, Darrell, in the second phrase the writer is speaking to those who have NEVER, EVER even been ON a horse!!!! You interpret the phrase "thrown off of a bucking bronco" to mean "never, ever been on a bucking bronco." That is ridiculous. It also completely undermines the intent of the passage.

When someone has been "unbound from a wife," that person was at one time bound to a wife, but is now freed from that bond. That "loosing" from a wife would be by virtue of either death or divorce. I would be very interested in seeing the passage in the Bible, Darrell, in which the phrase "loosed from a wife" was ever used of a person (such as your son) who had NEVER been married. If you can find even one such passage, would you share it with us?!! This is simply NOT the phrase used to describe those who have never, ever been married. I challenge you to show us even one place where this phrase is so used in Scripture.

As you stated at the beginning of your comments, Darrell, "this exchange (is) a wonderful exercise on the need for Bible based Theology." Your interpretation, and thus your theology, is far from being "Bible-based." Indeed, it is not even logical, nor is it consistent with sound exegesis or the rules of biblical interpretation. It is leading you down a false trail theologically.

I look forward to your critical analysis of the next chapter, Darrell, as we now embark upon the testimony of the Gospel records.

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