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

Wednesday, May 24, 2000

A Response by Al Maxey
To Broking's Comments on Chapter One

Darrell begins his critical review of chapter one with the following observation: "Much of the content of chapter one is opinionative and not worthy of debate." Let me attempt to place this rather shocking allegation in perspective. Chapter one of my book Down, But Not Out contains 9371 words (according to my computer). In the body of his critique, however, Darrell only quoted a total of 15 sentences (162 words -- 1.7% of the whole) from a single section near the end of the chapter. This, of course, clearly illustrates his view that the vast majority of this chapter is "not worthy" of discussion. In essence, Darrell has dismissed 98.3% of chapter one as "opinionative and not worthy of debate." To be "opinionative" is to "hold unreasonably or obstinately to one's own opinion." Thus, Darrell has declared 98.3% of chapter one to be the unreasonable and obstinate opinions of Al Maxey, and as such not worthy of discussion among serious thinking disciples of Christ. One would almost think that any man's random rambling on the nature of MDR as perceived in the Pentateuch would contain just by chance a greater percentage of foundational fact than is attributed to me by Darrell. By his statement one is almost left with the impression that I set out by design to obstinately exclude fact and to include only unreasonable opinion, and that I was extremely successful in doing so! This opening statement by Darrell clearly goes beyond the parameters of a critical scholarly review of an author's work, and has brought into question the motives and integrity of the author himself.

May I call the reader to carefully note, however, that his declaration that this first chapter is "opinionative" is not substantiated by a single shred of evidence. It is imperative that those who engage in a critical review of another's work "provide the evidence" of their allegations if they expect to be regarded as credible. I would call upon Darrell to provide both myself, and the readers of this discussion, *direct quotes* from chapter one which reflect mere obstinate opinions of the author, and which have no sound, reasonable, biblical exegesis to support them. Again, please note that not even ONE such example has been provided, and such a tactic is neither fair to myself nor the readers of this discussion. If indeed the vast majority of this chapter is "opinionative and not worthy of debate," then it behooves the one making such a charge to substantiate the same with direct quotes from the text which can be clearly demonstrated to be solely Al Maxey's obstinate, unreasonable opinions, and which can be clearly demonstrated to have no sound, biblical exegesis supportive of them. I shall expect such documentation to be forthcoming.

It should also be pointed out to the reader that in the vast body of information in chapter one, which was so casually dismissed as unworthy of discussion, I provided in-depth biblical exegesis of *eight* additional passages from the Pentateuch dealing with the subject of MDR. Were these all so poorly and unreasonably exegeted that they were unworthy of comment? Were my interpretations and conclusions all completely false? If so, then it would be the perfect opportunity for Darrell to provide the *evidence* for the readers of this discussion (using *direct quotes* from this chapter, of course) of my flawed and unreasonable exegesis of these important passages from God's inspired Word. And yet all eight were passed over without a single comment, other than his opening statement declaring the whole to be obstinate, unreasonable opinion unworthy of further discussion. One of my professors in graduate school always used to say, "Be Specific!!" This phrase appeared on every examination he gave. And believe me, he meant it!! In his view, there was no greater scholarly failing than an unsubstantiated statement. I would urge Darrell to consider this in his present and future posts during this discussion. You've made the charge, brother --- now, "Be Specific!" ..... provide the proof. Jesus, before being led to the cross, asked the same of His antagonists: "If I said anything wrong produce the evidence!" (John 18:23, NAB). I ask only of Darrell what the Lord asked of those who were critical of Him, His work and His teaching.

In his first paragraph Darrell has implied that I "used" Deuteronomy 24:1-4 "as a pattern for Jesus' doctrine of marriage, divorce and remarriage." Let me clearly state for the record that I have *nowhere* stated in my book that this passage is "a pattern" for the teaching of Jesus Christ with respect to MDR. Indeed, I do not believe it is!!! Further, I have gone to some lengths to try and demonstrate that our Lord does NOT base His teaching on this passage, but rather seeks to direct the hearts and minds of those who hear Him back to God's original intent; His IDEAL. When His antagonists that day sought to pin Jesus down to one of the several popular interpretations of this passage from Deuteronomy, Jesus refused to be caught in their web of deceit. He accomplished this by NOT using this passage as the "pattern" for His teaching, but rather by returning to God's original intent. A careful reading of the Matthew 19 exchange clearly shows Jesus doing this.

In chapter five of my book I make the following observation: "The Law of Moses, to which the Pharisees appealed in their discussion with Jesus that day in the tetrarchy of Herod Antipas, was far more a witness to the sinfulness of men's hearts than a revelation of God's intent for marriage. To perceive the heart of God, one would need to return to the beginning, NOT to Law. THIS IS WHAT JESUS DID. To facilitate and promote understanding of the will of God on this matter, one must perceive how it was 'from the beginning,' RATHER than seeking that insight from the legal provisions enacted due to the sinful attitudes and actions of men's hearts." (Caps added for emphasis, ahm)

The Law of Moses, and specifically the provisions of that law found in the Deut. 24 passage, are NOT the basis nor the "pattern" for the teaching of Jesus Christ on this vital subject. The foundation upon which Jesus based His teaching, and to which He directed His hearers, was the original intent -- the IDEAL -- of God Almighty. He didn't appeal to the Law of Moses, rather He appealed to the way it was *meant* to be "from the beginning" (Matthew 19:4,8).

Perhaps where Darrell was confused as to my beliefs on this matter can be traced to a statement I made in chapter one. I wrote: "The final passage in the Pentateuch which deals specifically with divorce and remarriage is perhaps the most frequently quoted of them all. Our understanding of the teachings of both Jesus and Paul with reference to this subject would certainly be incomplete without it. Thus, it is imperative that one fully appreciate the significance of this Scripture, Deuteronomy 24:1-4, before endeavoring to interpret the teachings of the New Testament writings."

One simply cannot discount the immense value of understanding the background material and information for a particular event or passage. It would be difficult, for example, to fully appreciate the significance of our Lord's exchange with His critics in Matthew 19 without some knowledge of the lifestyle of Herod Antipas and Herodias in whose tetrarchy this exchange occurred, and of the heated theological debate being waged at that time over the interpretation of the passage in Deuteronomy, a debate into which the antagonists of our Lord sought to embroil Him. In short, our understanding and appreciation of any event or passage can only be enhanced by attempting to examine it within its historical, biblical, social, linguistic and theological context. To do otherwise is a failure to practice the age-old principles of biblical interpretation. THIS is all I was suggesting in my above statement from chapter one. I was not suggesting the Deuteronomy passage was a "pattern" for the teaching of our Lord, but merely that our understanding of the event in Matthew 19 would be enhanced if we were better acquainted with the very OT passage with which our Lord's antagonists sought to entrap Him that day.

Darrell wrote: "The premise that God 'views' (present tense) divorce and remarriage as he did when Moses penned Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is without Biblical support." I don't believe God's view of divorce has ever changed. It is the same today as it always was. It has not varied at all. Perhaps it is best stated in these words from the final book of the OT canon: "I hate divorce" (Malachi 2:16). In the verse just prior to that we are told clearly: "Do not break faith with the wife of your youth" (vs. 15). In verse 14 we are told that the Lord "is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant." Interestingly enough, just a few verses later (Mal. 3:6) we are informed, "I the Lord do not change."

Our God's view of divorce has not changed at all, which is exactly why both Malachi and Jesus directed the hearts and minds of their hearers right back to God's IDEAL, His divine design for marriage ..... "the way it was from the beginning."

Notice the following direct quote from chapter one of my book: "As before, it should be stressed that although God permitted the issuing of such certificates, this did not thereby imply His approval of the state of divorce. Anything less than the IDEAL can only be regarded as displeasing in His sight, even though He makes compassionate provisions for those victimized by such tragic occurrences. Divorce was never a part of God's plan for marriage; it holds no place in His IDEAL. It was because of the hardness of the people's hearts toward one another that God 'permitted' divorce. This provision served only to prevent further abuse and cruelty toward one's spouse, not to grant divine approval (Matthew 19:8)."

A few paragraphs later in chapter one I wrote: "These provisions of God's Law in no way suggest He is pleased with the tragic failures manifested in the lives of His people. They have failed to achieve the IDEAL, and that grieves Him."

I believe God's view of the breakdown of these "marriage covenants" (Mal. 2:14) has not changed in the least from then to now. He hates it. But even in the face of such tragic failures to achieve His IDEAL, His grace, mercy and compassion shine through to those victimized by the hurtful actions of others. It is this aspect of our God, and the healing that He so lovingly provides to those down, but not yet out, that I sought to illuminate in my book.

Notice the following from the end of chapter one: "In the Law of Moses God issued a challenge to His people to rise above the misery about them and strive for the IDEAL. To the degree they succeeded, their lives were blessed; to the degree they failed, they experienced distress. Those who refused to live up to God's call, and who inflicted suffering upon their spouses, God punished. For those who were victimized, God graciously and mercifully made provisions in His Law for their relief."

Darrell wrote: "Al's second post dealing with the introduction to his book also contained these words, 'I think, however, that we must not discount the inspired writings of the OT in our search for the FULL counsel of our God on this subject.' When inspired gospel preachers preached the full counsel of God they were bold to declare total abolishment of the Old Law..."

I couldn't agree more, Darrell. I do not preach that men today are bound by the Law of Moses. Such is *not* what I was suggesting. I was merely indicating the value of the Old Covenant *writings* for our understanding today. With regard to the OT writings, Paul wrote: "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Romans 15:4). He obviously wasn't referring to the NT writings when he said this (many of which were not even yet written), but rather to the OT canon. Yes, we *can* learn from them and be encouraged by them. Yes, we *can* receive guidance from them. Paul told Timothy, "from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness...." (II Timothy 3:15-16).

Yes, even today, under a new dispensation, if we are to preach and teach the FULL counsel of our God, we must include all the writings which are declared to be "God-breathed." True, not all "laws" and "ordinances" contained in these writings carry the same weight today as then. Christ has indeed nailed to the cross the legal code of the Old Covenant. Thus, the "shadow" has been superseded by the "Substance" (as per the teaching of the book of Hebrews). However, one can still see the nature of God shining forth from these OT writings, and that witness should not be discounted in our search for the mind of God on any subject.

For example, with regard to MDR, are we to discount the worth of the Lord's declaration "I hate divorce" simply because it appears within the pages of the OT canon?!! I think that statement is just as true a reflection of God's view of the matter today as it was then. Some realities simply transcend the parameters of specific covenants, and of time, space and culture. Leviticus 19:18, for example, has become a spiritual "lighthouse" for the Christian dispensation --- "love your neighbor as yourself" --- and yet it was a commandment found in the "dark waters" of the Law of Moses. Just because something appears within the pages of the OT writings, or was a provision of the Law of Moses, does not thereby declare it to be worthless for encouragement or guidance today. My only concern, as per my previous post, was that when we seek to fully know the mind and will of our God that we examine ALL the writings which are God-breathed, keeping in mind, of course, the dispensation in which we presently live, and the new covenant by which we presently relate to our God, and those specific areas in which the Substance has clearly superseded the shadow.

All I have sought to do in my book is present the teaching contained in the writings of *both* covenants, utilizing the writings of the old covenant to help us understand and better appreciate the teaching contained in the writings of the new covenant. I have never suggested a return to the Law of Moses as a means of justification or salvation. Rather, with regard to MDR, my advice has always been that we seek to fully understand the provisions of the Law of Moses so as to be better equipped to correctly interpret, and place in proper perspective, the teaching of Jesus and Paul.

I tried to make this premise clear at the very beginning of chapter five. Note the following statement from that chapter: "Before an in-depth study of the specifics of the Lord's teaching on divorce and remarriage, it would be beneficial to examine each of the passages contained in the Gospel records for the purpose of placing them within their proper historical, cultural, and theological context. Perceiving the pertinent background information about a passage is often critical in properly interpreting that passage. Any hermeneutic which fails to do so is suspect, and any position promoted from such shallow study should be viewed with suspicion. The statements of Jesus were not given in a vacuum, but rather reflect an intimate association with, and cognizance of, His times. Only by an awareness of those times can one fully expect to appreciate the depth of His teaching on this subject." And, I should add, only by an awareness and understanding of the OT teaching on this subject can we fully expect to appreciate the depth of our Lord's teaching on MDR. Again, this is *not* to suggest those OT teachings are the "pattern" for our Lord's teaching. They are not. But, our understanding of His teaching will be less than complete without a thorough knowledge of this background, and in some cases foundational, teaching presented in the OT writings.

Darrell writes, "Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is passť in relation to New Testament doctrine on marriage, divorce and remarriage." The word "passť" (which comes from the French) means "past; out of date; old-fashioned." With all due respect, Darrell, I couldn't disagree more. Frankly, I would hate to characterize ANY part of God's inspired Word as being "out of date" or "old-fashioned." That is an unfortunate choice of a word, and I doubt that you really intended what is implied by that word. I hope not, anyway. There is no question but what some aspects of the old covenant have been abrogated by Jesus Christ, our Substance who replaces and fulfills the shadows. However, if you .... and especially the readers .... will go back and carefully and prayerfully read once again the in-depth exegesis of the Deut. 24:1-4 passage which is provided in chapter one, I think you will discover that the view of our God on this matter, with which we are presented in that text, is very much relevant to His people even to this day.

Just by way of a singular example, our understanding of the nation of Israel's unfaithfulness to her God, and its characterization in Jeremiah 3, is based largely upon this text in Deut. 24:1-4. From this we learn something about how God perceives unfaithfulness of *any* nation, and what defiles a people, and His reaction to this. If only our nation today would heed the warning found in these passages!!!! Note the following statement from chapter one: "By examining this parallel between Israel and the faithless wife of Deuteronomy 24, one can draw the reasonable conclusion that it was the latter's acts of immorality, and the attitude of complete indifference, and unwillingness to change, that constituted her defilement." In light of our present day and age, I hardly find the insights of the passage "passť." Not only are these godless attitudes detrimental to a people in covenant relationship with their God, but they are detrimental to an individual in covenant relationship with their spouse. The insights of Deut. 24:1-4 are hardly passť. Indeed, much misery could be avoided on a grand scale if more would heed the lessons and learn from the teaching of this God-breathed passage!

Darrell wrote: "That God recognizes when divorce takes place is not the issue over which Al Maxey and I are divided. God sees every divorce granted today. Many divorced will even go and marry again, and God sees this too. But in a majority of cases God calls the new marriage 'adultery' ...." It is true that Darrell and I differ greatly on his concept of the majority of remarriages being a continual "living in sin." This will be dealt with more fully when we come to that point in our examination of the teaching of Jesus Christ. I would even go so far as to state that this is probably one of the most important differences that Darrell and I have with one another's perspective of MDR. But, the reasoning behind each of our views will be presented in-depth later in this discussion. At this point, however, just let me state for the record that I do indeed believe *some* remarriages are "adulterous" or sinful in nature. I don't deny that at all, nor have I denied it in my book. Indeed, our Lord's statement in Luke 16:18 makes this very clear in the Greek, as will be alluded to later (and to which I allude in my book). I am certainly NOT advocating that ALL remarriages are perfectly acceptable in the sight of God. Some are not!

Darrell wrote: "The reality is that God's law, to which all men are amenable, says that when the IDEAL is cast aside in transgression, one or both parties involved in that divorce may not marry again. If they do they live in sin." Perhaps Darrell will provide us with the passage in which that "law" is clearly declared by our Lord. But, again, perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves. I know this will be thoroughly discussed when we reach the teaching of Jesus Christ. Suffice it to say at this point that Darrell and I disagree. The reasoning behind both of our interpretations will become evident later.

Darrell concluded his third post in this discussion with these words: "Dear reader as this post in the Maxey - Broking discussion is centered on Al's view of Old Testament doctrine and Deuteronomy 24 being consistent with New Testament doctrine on marriage, divorce and remarriage, what think ye? Is my 'impression' a far cry from what Al actually teaches?"

Brother, I believe it is!! The antecedent of your "impression," as per the quotation in the previous paragraph of your post, was: "Al Maxey's IDEAL actually encourages people to live in the sinful state of adultery." Again, nothing could be further from the truth. It is my belief that as this discussion progresses this will become abundantly clear to the readers. I leave it to their capable, discerning hearts and minds to make an honest determination once the evidence is in.

You made an interesting statement in your concluding remark. You stated that your post "centered on Al's view of Old Testament doctrine and Deuteronomy 24 being consistent with New Testament doctrine" on MDR. There is no way anyone, from reading your post, would ever know WHAT my view of OT doctrine was, and certainly not whether it was consistent with NT doctrine or not. You completely by-passed my in-depth exegesis of eight of the nine passages from the Pentateuch, and only quoted 15 sentences of my treatment of the Deut. 24:1-4 passage. This hardly qualifies as a "centering on" my views.

To those readers who desire to know "what Al actually teaches" on OT doctrine with respect to this subject, and its compatibility with NT teaching, I would encourage you to go to the source: Al Maxey. Don't place too much stock in the unsubstantiated, highly subjective impressions of another. Please go and read chapter one for yourselves in light of Darrell's judgment that "much of the content of chapter one is opinionative and not worthy of debate." "Examine everything carefully" (I Thess. 5:21). Once you have done so, I then pose to you the same question as my brother in Christ: "What think ye?"

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