Horrendus Eisegesis from Evangelicals in the Culture War

Wow, I don’t know what to say recently about the just horrible carelessness of Christian leaders in regards to their handling of scripture. For example, first we have Dr. Voddie Baucham. Now, this very much surprises me, because Dr. Baucham gave an excellent sermon about home schooling for an American Vision conference. However, according to Candice Watters, he made a rather interesting interpretation of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:

Why? Because “the Bible gives us one standard for spiritually mature manhood. We are not given one standard for pastors and another for laymen. Moreover, one could argue by implication that we do not have one standard for single men and another for married men.” And that standard for biblical manhood, as detailed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, is “the ability to lead one’s own family .” He says,

We prepare our sons to be godly men in view of their responsibility as husbands and fathers, and whether or not they eventually fill those roles, we have given them the greatest tools available for serving in any capacity, even that of elder/pastor in the church.

Well, there you go.  Apparently, somewhere in the text of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 it not only says that these are the qualifications for elder, but also that these are the qualifications for a Biblical man. Where that is I don’t know. In fact, I pointed out that one of the qualifications listed here is “able to teach.” Now, I know many wonderful men of God who are married, who fall all over themselves when they try to teach something. They are just not that great of a communicator. Again, while these are excellent qualities for a Biblical man to have not all of them are essential to being a Biblical man, and I have no idea where that is coming from in the text of 1 Timothy 3 or Titus 1.

Next, we have Dr. Russell Moore and Mark Chanski, again, two other guys who have done a whole lot of good. However, again, in this podcast, I heard the eisegetical throwing out there of  1 Timothy 5:8 assuming that it applies uniquely to a man, even though contextually it seems to be applying to a widow, and, possibly, to both men and women!

Now, a little better attempt at exegesis was made by these two men in this program when they tried to say that the text of Genesis 2-3 connects man with his work as a gender role, and woman with childbirth as a gender role. Now, I readily agree that 1. The man was certainly given the task of working the ground, and 2. Most men will want to be bread winners more than most women. However, to state that work is the man’s “gender role” is, I believe, to do a great disservice to the text. Yes, Adam is connected to the work of the ground in Genesis 2, but, in Genesis 4, Abel is a shepherd. Also, to make matters worse, Abel’s sacrifice was accepted while God rejected the sacrifice of Cain, the worker of the ground. Hence, the male gender is not necessarily connected with working the ground. Hence, there is something more going on here than connecting the man with his work as a gender role. Also, I can’t find any reason whatsoever to make a gender role out of work in general either. It is simply not in the text.

Now, this is not to say that men will not desire to work more than women. That may be, and I think is true. However, for example, I think it is true that most boys like to play with toy trucks rather than dolls, and most girls will like to play with dolls rather than toy trucks. Yet, is that anywhere in the Bible? No of course not. In the same way, while I would say most women will want to take care of the children, and most men will want to work, where does the text say that it must be this way? While this is certainly better than the first to examples, I still disagree.

I think we need to be careful to separate things that are traditional and countercultural from things that are Biblical. They might be identical, but they need not be. We all want to return back to the good old days of the 1930’s, and the reality is that God is telling the church that we need to mature, and not simply go back to the way things were, but become even more Biblical than they were back then. Until then, the kind of outragious eisegetical mistreatment of texts like we saw in 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, and 1 Timothy 5:8 will not stop.

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3 Responses to “Horrendus Eisegesis from Evangelicals in the Culture War”

  1. ladyelaine80 Says:

    Adam,

    I read your comments on the Line in regards to this. Thank you. It’s nice to know I’m not the only person to think that there’s something amiss here….

  2. Gerv Says:

    If you are disagreeing with this understanding, where do we find the separate biblical standard for spiritually mature manhood for laymen?

    An a fortiori argument suggests that if those are good things in a leader of God’s people, they are good things to aspire to in one of the led, as well. And we choose our pastors by how well the potential candidates do. As you say, we don’t pick pastors who are unable to teach.

    Claiming that someone is not a biblical man because they don’t meet all these criteria is indeed wrong. But presented as an aspiration and a goal, IMO there’s nothing wrong with it – just as there’s nothing wrong with presenting sinlessness as a goal, even though none of us (in that particular example) will reach it, and no-one says we aren’t Christians because of that.

    1 Timothy 5:4-8 is telling the “children or grandchildren” from verse 4 that they need to provide for their elders first, and only those for whom no such provision is available should be put on the list of widows. So yes, there is no explicit statement that this applies only to men. But within a worldview which says that men should lead their families, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that the responsibility for making that happen, if not always the actual work (which will depend on individual circumstances) rests on the men in the family. As their eldest son, I certainly feel primary responsibility for making sure my parents are cared for in their old age, when they come to need it – based on large part on my understanding of this verse. Are you saying it is wrong for me to feel that?

  3. otrmin Says:

    Gerv

    If you are disagreeing with this understanding, where do we find the separate biblical standard for spiritually mature manhood for laymen?

    The point is that these standards were never meant to be a standard for spiritually mature manhood. Some of them are, certainly, but you cannot get that from this text. My point was that, because of this, it is total eisegesis to read into this text the idea that we are defining a Biblical man, because that is simply foreign to the context. We are in the qualifications for an elder, and one would expect that there are going to be some general qualifications of Christian character, as well as certain aspects of God’s calling [able to raise a family, able to teach, etc.]. Hence, one must go elsewhere to find the qualifications for a Biblical man.

    Also, I have never said that a young boy who wants to grow up serve God as a husband, or a young girl who wants to grow up to serve God as a wife should be discouraged from so doing. I just simply disagree with the idea that we should assume that they will do it. I would argue that we need to be raising our children to be Godly in whatever situation they are. If they grow up, and God says “no” to their request for a spouse, we need to have already prepared them to live a Godly lifestyle in the state to which God has called them. That is why I believe that we should not raise children to be husbands and wives, but rather, to follow God in all of their ways, whether it be marriage or singleness.

    There is also certainly nothing wrong with wanting to take care of your parents in old age, but, again, I think that I would argue that it must come from both sexes. I would think that, if you are a woman, and you see your mother hurting for money in her old age, that you would want to feel the primary responsibility to help her. That is why I think it is good to see the husband and wife as a team in this regard, both in regards to breadwinning, and [by extension to] helping your parents.

    God Bless,
    Adam

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