Sunday, February 08, 2015

Come On In, The Water's Fine!

Jon Stewart is right. Jon Stewart is wrong.

In the video (from Dailymotion) below, Mike Huckabee maintains "It is a biblical issue and as a biblical issue, unless, you know, I get a new version of the Scriptures, it's really not my place to say "O.K., I'm just gonna evolve.'"

Daily Kos' Egberto Willies argues

Jon Stewart made minced meat out of that argument. He used the following Bible passages to show the hypocrisy of the evangelicals. If they want to be literally biblical, there is much for them to ponder.

Leviticus 19:19: Keep my decrees. Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.

Leviticus 19:27: Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.

Leviticus 19:20: When a person has sexual relations with a woman servant who is engaged to another man, but she has not been completely redeemed nor has her freedom been granted to her, there is to be an inquiry, but they won't be put to death, since she has not been freed.

Leviticus 21:13: The woman he marries must be a virgin.

Mike Huckabee said it; Jon Stewart or someone had to challenge it, and challenging it with Scripture- that is, on the minister's own terms- is the place to begin.

Except that the comedian and the former governor are not on the same page.  Reverend Huckabee would agree that Scripture, including both the Old Testament and the New Testament, is "god breathed," as the apostle Paul declared it.  But they are operating on different premises.

It is not as if the law, such as described in the four passages from Leviticus (and elsewhere in the O.T.), is useless. It was there, and to be obeyed, until a Savior would arrive, as Huckabee no doubt emphasized as a pastor. (Moses: "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.")  Paul tells the Galatians "it was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made..."

So "the law," John (or someone else) wrote, "was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." All people,  as reformed Christians such as Huckabee will tell you, "sin and fall short of the glory of God."  Keeping the law is impossible. It is why, since the advent, saints and non-saints alike cannot achieve favor with God by obeying the law, committing good works, or doing anything. Everyone is imperfect, hence unable to achieve salvation without a savior.

One commentor explains

Paul says that we have died to the law — even the Jews have died to the law through identification with Jesus Christ. Therefore, the law no longer has authority over us, since we belong to Christ, not to the law. Christ is the one we obey, so that we can bear spiritual fruit. The law is contrasted with Christ, and it is the old covenant law that Paul is talking about — the Torah, the Law portion of the Scriptures. We can be under the law, or under Christ. Being under both is not an option.

The new covenant replaced the old covenant, as understood by the (undetermined) writer of Hebrews when he states "Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises."   This is illustrated by Jeremiah's prophecy, built around and upon the Mosaic Covenant God is said to have made with the people of Israel at Mount Sinai, in which he assured the people of Israel

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant,though I was a husband to[d] them,[e]” declares the Lord.

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God,and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,”declares the Lord.“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Mike Huckabee's scriptural interpretation can be disputed.  His perspective on gay marriage, moreover, is not required given his interpretation. Even his emphasis on the Bible is not one held by all churchgoers, nor even all believers. Surely, however, Reverend Huckabee understands (better than do I) the distinction between the two covenants, in which the Old Testament conceals what the New Testament reveals, and its importance to hermeneutics.

Jon Stewart has ventured into the world of theological disputes, where two few enter. We'll all be the better in the unlikely event that Huckabee, who must play down (as he has) his identity as a Christian minister if he wants to run for president, responds to criticism of his criticism of same-sex marriage. If he does, it will be revealing, and Stewart will have performed a public service.

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