Sunday, February 5, 2012

(Addendum) An Examination of Protestant/Evangelical Race Based Special Interest Theology (Part 2 of 5)

(Addendum -  It has been my view for some time that the divine institution of the family was an extension of marriage. With appreciation to some input from others and careful consideration I am amending this view and recognize the special classification and function of the family as a divine institution. I appreciate the input from others on this matter.)

(Revised July 2012)

Outline:

Part 1

   I. Introduction
  II. Race Based Special Interest Theology

Part 2

  III. Divine Institutions
  IV. The Body of Christ and Its Spiritual DNA

Part 3

   V. The Error of Racial Theological Prescription through Racial Identification
  VI. Labels and Their Implication

Part 4

   VII. Human Properties and the Body of Christ: Anecdotal vs. Primary
  VIII. Spiritual Camaraderie Does Not Assume or Require Social Camaraderi
     IX. Social Constructs vs. Spiritual Constructs

Part 5

     X. Racial Narcissism, Racism, and Anthropologicalism
    XI. Black Trophyism/Chasing Down Black People
   XII. Hoisting “Whiteness” Upon Orthodoxy
  XIII. Conclusion

(Edited and Revised Nov 2012)


Part 2

III. Divine Institutions

God has given to humanity a number of divine institutions. These divine institutions are for the perpetuity of humanity. This is observed in Scripture. Understanding these foundational biblical realities is critical to understanding why Race Based Special Interest Theology and its prescriptions are in conflict with God's designs for the body of Christ, not to mention government, marriage and the individual.

The Divine Institution of Self

The first divine institution is the self or the individual. It is based in your anthropology. That is, everyone who is born into this world is an individual divine institution whether they are alive, spiritually, or not.

Therefore, the "self" is an anthropological construct. And with your individual creation comes certain boundaries presenting rights, duties and privileges which are yours and yours alone to manage. Yes, there are regulations from God under which you should operate but still, you are free to ignore them as long as you understand there are always consequences for all of your decisions reflecting the judgment of God either through natural design or direct active judgments by God, himself.

As an adult you are free to make decisions, right and wrong ones, but no one has the right to attempt to take over your volitional capacity and make them for you (though this has been and still is tried on many levels in our sinful world ). Now there are many complex situations in which the "God granted institutional rights" of the self interact with other divine institutions, and herein sits the need to understand divine institutions. This is because, simply due to your being a divine institution all unto itself, with rights, duties and privileges, does not make you either completely independent or dependent of the other divine institutions, rather that you, the self, must operate within the boundaries of other divine institutions while accepting, yielding to, cooperating with and possibly leading these other divine institutions with their own set of rules and protocols given by God again, while simultaneously keeping the integrity of the divine institution of the self or individual intact. And you thought being a Christian was boring?

The Divine Institution of Marriage

Marriage is the second divine institution given to humanity from God and is the combination of man and a woman legally (I will not argue this point other than to say that while I view the legality of a marriage to essentially involve civic adjudication, even if one does not agree, ultimately all agree and most significantly that it is a legal union before God) uniting and forming this proprietary institution. It too, is an anthropological construct. The Bible describes the nature of the divine institution of marriage:
Genesis 2:24 (NIV)
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
But when two people get married, does the divine institution of the individual suddenly disappear? No. It still maintains itself within its boundaries while each person functions within another divine institution, that of marriage.

Ex: Bill likes tomatoes and Tanya likes green beans. As a married couple they go to dinner. Together they determine where they are going; they exercise the function of the divine institution of marriage. But when they order food they exercise the divine institution of the individual or self as Bill and Tanya each order the vegetables of their liking. One protocol does not impose itself upon the other though one acts within the other or along side of it.

The Divine Institution of the Family

The third divine institution given by God for the perpetuity of humanity is the family. This institution is anthropologically based. It consists of a father, mother and children. Sometimes these agents are separated by death, legal decree, abandonment or other matters. Nevertheless, the divine intention in its design is to provide two sources of authority for the children, one being the father, the Commanding Officer, the other the mother, the Executive Officer to whom the children answer.

This divine institution is the most racially exclusive form of government on earth with the exception of lawful decree which includes adopted members, but again that is the exception. It is, in general, a genetic self-interest form of government for the family which makes its primary objective the interests, welfare and advantages of those who anthropologically qualify as a member of that family.

The divine institutions of family, marriage and the individual maintain their integrity with respect to their protocols. And this should have in view children. While children are subordinate to parents, even in the the divine institution of family, the authority given by God to parents has limits which are intended to be observed. Children have certain divine rights via their existence as an individual, a divine institution in itself. Hence, parents must explore and determine right and wrong boundaries and aid their children in learning all of them as well and the proper and most effect ways of executing all of the rights, duties and privileges of all of these.

The Divine Institution of Government

Government is the third next or forth divine institution which was established in the Genesis record and observable throughout Scripture. Just like the individual,marriage and family, government is an anthropological construct. It does not require anyone to be alive spiritually in order to be part of its construct and participate in it. Its conceptualization as an institution was created by God and given, as all others, for the perpetuity of humanity. God, in speaking through the Apostle Paul, reflects this truth in understanding government’s divine sanction and authority:
Romans 13:1 (NIV) 
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
While individuals and those married will function within government, their divine rights, duties and privileges as individuals and married persons do not disappear. The operation of the divine institutions of self, marriage and family come with you into government and maintain their unique protocols with their special sets of rules which only apply to each divine institution while they all operate within the fourth divine institution, government, and adhere to yet, another special set of rules and protocols meant only for government. And all of this occurs while again, the integral boundaries and protocols of the other divine institutions operate.

Get the picture?

Divine Institution of the Individual:   unique divine protocols
Divine Institution of Marriage:            unique divine protocols
Divine Institution of Family:                unique divine protocols
Divine Institution of Government:      unique divine protocols

All will observe the protocols of the other while operating within one another while still maintaining the integrity of their own separate protocols.

Each of these is regulated by separate rules with separate protocols. And though some of the rules and protocols of each divine institution might use similar language as to its objectives and may even share some objectives (though much of their objectives are clearly different) they are still regulated by separate protocols and doctrine or rules. So it is inappropriate to impose upon one institution, the objectives, protocols and doctrines of another in order to operate that other divine institution. For example, the rules and protocols of marriage are not intended as rules and protocols to form and operate a government vice versa.

The Divine Institution of the Theocracy of Israel

The Theocracy of Israel was formulated and instituted by God. It, unlike the four already mentioned, was a specialize institution with respect to anthropology and spirituality. It has two dimensions to which one belonged and participated, one being anthropological membership and the other spiritual. So as a divine institution the Theocracy of Israel was both an anthropological and spiritual construct and had specific protocols and doctrines which applied only to it and not outside of it or upon other divine institutions.

I will not go into detail here about its protocols and doctrines but will make clear that to fail to understand its boundaries as a divine institution is to start out, as one would with any misunderstanding of a divine institutions, on a road to misapplying much of Scripture and formulating an injurious theology.

The Divine Institution of the Church

The divine institution of the church is currently the last divine institution given to humanity for its perpetuity with its inauguration and subsequent formation founded in Christ's life, death, and resurrection. Depending on your theology the church either has been born out of Israel and is the fulfillment of Israel, the church has replaced Israel or the church has been inserted, dispensationally, but all agree on one thing, the protocol today for God's people is found in the church and not the Theocracy of Israel.

However, the church is not for humanity’s anthropological perpetuity but for its spiritual perpetuity. Hence, the church, the body of Christ, is a spiritual construct. In order to enter and participate within its construct only requires one to be alive spiritually, that is be born again which is available to anyone by exercising faith in the gospel of Christ.

And as you operate within this divine institution (the church) and as this institution operates within and among the other divine institutions, you need to understand that it, too, has separate protocols with separate doctrines regulating it. And those protocols, with its authority and doctrines, belong only to the spiritual body called the church. Like all other divine institutions, no other divine institution is designed or intended to take over and regulate another by using its God given protocols and doctrines intended for just itself and not other divine institutions.

Obviously there are more complex paradigms to the relationships but what is at issue and is the main point which will serve you in understanding what remains to be read is that one divine institution is not designed to be usurped by another nor that its proprietary protocols and doctrines, which are intended for its operation, should be thrust or imposed upon another divine institution, no matter how idealistic or sincere one might be or regardless of any benefits which may occur. A right thing done in a wrong way is wrong.

IV. The Body of Christ and Its Spiritual DNA  

What gives a man or woman entrance into the body of Christ? Does a human property or a spiritual property? Clearly the answer is a spiritual property. This is because the body of Christ is a spiritual construct, not a human one:
1 Peter 2:4-5(NIV)
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house
One is united with Christ when they believe the gospel. As a result they are spiritually regenerated (born again) and positioned with Christ, they are sanctified with Christ in the heavenlies:
Ephesians 2:6 (NIV)
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
From this Paul declares that:
Ephesians 2 14:-18 (NIV)
14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Taking Scripture out of Context to Remedy Anthropological Conflicts

Now you might have heard or experienced the previous passage from Ephesians being taken out of context and used to deal with social antagonisms between races (black/white) or ethnicities and cultures but understand, it is being used incorrectly, purely in an out of context application. And this is, in part, because of what we just covered, ignorance of divine institutions and their distinctions and contexts.

This context clearly has to do with those who were Jews and were identified as “God’s people” verses those of who were outside of Israel, namely Gentiles and how the separation between them has been resolved. So now there is a new order for God's people which is strictly spiritual in its identification. It has nothing to do with racial issues themselves, at least as God proclaims. So I suggest we yield to God who reveals to us clearly in its context that it was about whom God’s people were and were not and that now, all may be. Current social conflicts between races, cultures and ethnic groups are not about whom God’s people are and are not.

The Theocracy of Israel vs. the Body of Christ (The Church)

God's people, at one point, did have an identity which was essentially- in part- based in human properties, though this was not the qualifier to be a genuine child of God. So when someone outside of Israel became a believer in the promised Messiah he or she not only spiritually identified with Israel but did so, anthropologically as well (genetics, geography, culture and customs).

But understand something, even though this use of human properties and constructs were used as identifiers which resulted in a specific culture that had its civic protocols and values bound directly to its theology, the true clash between Israel and those outside of Israel was not genetic, geographical or cultural, it was theological. Israel was the product of theology and its theology not the product of itself. But today, with Special Interest Theology, what do we have? We have a theology which is a product of racial, ethnic, and cultural interests.

Special Interest Theology’s Errant Identification with Israel

Israel faced many difficulties, from Abraham all the way to its existence as a kingdom with David and his descendants. There were social difficulties to say the least. Very commonly Race Based Special Interest Theology forwards its arguments for special consideration by appealing to identification with the social struggles of Israel. So when groups attempt to use their identification with Israel as identical to their own anthropological problems in order to develop a proprietary theology, they err, not understanding that while Israel did have anthropological concerns as part of their objective, it was with specific theological objectives and the specifically stated interests of God in mind, not personal or human interests in mind. But more importantly, it is to fail to understand Israel's definition, boundaries and limits as a divine institution.

Israel’s social problems stemmed from their theology and not their theology stemming from trying to remedy their social problems which the fundamental structure of Race Based Special Interest Theology. However, for those who would ignore the entire construct of the Theocracy of Israel and its special protocols, they will simply use this as a reference point of appeal in the formation and practice of their Special Interest Theology by directly claiming sameness with the Theocracy of Israel in their own social and spiritual context. This is a fundamental error that must be rejected every time no matter the emotional or sentimental temptation to permit it for the sake of someone going through difficulty.

It is reading into a text one's own experiences and superimposing them as if whatever remedy was given for that particular context is applicable, all the while ignoring many critical elements which differentiate the two. Interestingly many who claim to  reject Special Interest Theology often are guilty of this hermeneutic, though they do not recognize what they are doing.

Our Identification is Spiritual and Based Solely in Christ

And as we saw in the earlier Ephesians passage God is telling us, through Paul, that no such thing exists now, in the body of Christ. There are no human properties such as genetic or geographic ones regarding how we, the people of God, seek to identify and establish God’s objectives because these objectives are spiritual ones. But more specifically, these church age objectives have nothing to do with resolving social issues between various races; this has to do with spiritual reconciliation with God.

But added to this is what Peter says:
1 Peter 2:9-10
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Where God’s people were specifically, in part, once identified via genetics and geography (though they still had to be born again by faith to receive individual spiritual blessings), today, God’s people-his children-are now only identified through spiritual properties.  This magnificent and critical point cannot be stated sufficiently in light of the problems among Christians of different anthropological classifications.

The body of Christ is not anthropologically based, it is spiritually based, and to introduce anthropological considerations is to violate this proprietary construct of God! The body of Christ is built upon and centered on a DNA that has nothing to do with human properties; it is spiritual DNA, the DNA of Jesus Christ our Lord.

7 comments:

Glenn said...

Hi Alex,

I am always interested whenever anyone writes about the Divine Institutions. I have never seen the Theocracy of Israel or the Church defined as Divine Institutions before (Gary Kukis has the best summary of the Divine Institutions I know of at this link). Can you provide me with a link, a book, or some other reference so I can do some more study on this?

Glenn

Alex Guggenheim said...

Hello Glenn,

I will work on getting a response with resources, I am pressed right now. My inclusion of the Theocracy of Israel was due to its meeting the threshold.

Glenn said...

Hi Alex,

No problem, I don't mean to press you. I just haven't seen those institutions included in the "Divine Institutions" before.

I understand what it is to be busy and whenever you have time is alright with me.

Glenn

Alex Guggenheim said...

Glen,

Two things.

1. I could have and probably should have separated marriage from family. I have always view family as an extension of marriage but its boundaries and parties are more broad and its classification likely distinctive as an institution.

2. As to the Theocracy of Israel, it simply is my view after reading many sources that it meets the threshold. In fact, Gary does a good job of describing and defining what qualifies as a divine institution.

I have used Charles Clough's material from Chafer quite a bit but frankly I have utilized material from Reformed writers to Lutheran to Baptist and non-denom over the years and formed my conclusions based on that.

The greatest emphasis of reason for including Israel's Theocracy is because it, indeed, was established by God with the perpetuity of humanity in mind, both anthropologically and spiritually.

Khanh said...

Alex,
Referring to your use of Eph 2.
Doesn't this refer also to the hostility of cultures between Jews and Gentiles? Jews believed they were culturally/religiously superior therefore Gentiles could not be part of God's people. Or they had to convert to Jewish ways (circumcision Moses Law - Acts 15) to be God's people.

Than why can't it be APPlIED to ethnic hostilities today - that only Christ can offer a true peace to the racism problem when we are one in HIm.

Alex Guggenheim said...

The hostilities of the Jews and the Gentiles were theologically driven, not culturally though cultural issues were part of their distinction. The Jewish culture rose from their theology and not their theology from their culture. The clash between races has nothing to do with theology, it is cultural. They cannot be imposed on the context of the Jewish/Gentile problem because they are not the same context hence, their remedies are not the same.

terriergal said...

I appreciate your approach, though it's pretty verbose and most will read it and think it too esoteric. I understand what you are saying and I agree. I was also grateful that you showed how this whole thing still applies no matter whether you are Dispensational or Covenant, amill or premill, etc. Thank you!