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Loving your enemies and the imprecatory passages in Scripture

Loving your enemies and the imprecatory passages in Scripture           By Jack Kettler

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

Similar cross-reference passages are found in:

Proverbs 25:21; Luke 6:27; Luke 6:28; Romans 12:14, and Romans 12:20

In this study, an attempt will be made to reconcile Jesus’s saying in Matthew 5:44 with imprecatory passages in Scripture. Are there two different contradictory ethical systems in the Bible? A look at imprecatory Psalms and other passages will be crucial.

What are imprecatory Psalms?
“Imprecatory Psalms, contained within the Book of Psalms of the Hebrew Bible (תנ”ך), are those that invoke judgment, calamity, or curses, upon one’s enemies or those perceived as the enemies of God. … As a sample, Psalm 69:24 states toward God, ‘Pour out Your indignation on them, and let your burning anger overtake them.’” Imprecatory Psalms – Wikipedia

 Are imprecatory Psalms, and prayers contrary to the text from Matthew 5:44? Can a Christian pray an imprecatory prayer or sing an imprecatory Psalm today?  

 A sampling of imprecatory Psalms, chapter, and verse:

 Psalms 5:10; 6:10; 7:6; 9:19-20; 10:2,15; 17:13; 28:4; 31:17-18; 35:1,4-8, 19, 24-26; 40:14-15; 41:10; 54:5; 55:9,15; 56:7; 58:6-10; 59:5,11-14; 63:9-10; 68:1-2; 69:24-25; 70:2-3; 71:13; 79:6,10-12; 83:9-18; 94:1-4; 97:7; 104:35; 109:6-19, 29; 119:84; 129:5-7; 137:7-9; 139:19-22; 140:8-11; 141:10; 143:12.

 Two examples of imprecatory Psalms:

 “Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.” (Psalms 5:10)

 “I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them, mine enemies.” (Psalm 139:22)

 Imprecatory passages are not limited to the Old Testament. Finding imprecatory passages in the New Testament refutes the idea that imprecatory passages are part of a uniquely Old Testament ethic that is now done away in the Christian era.  

 Imprecatory passages in the New Testament:

 Two examples:

 “But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.” (Luke 10:10-16)

 “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, how long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10)

 Other imprecatory passages in the New Testament:

 Luke 10:10-16; Galatians 1:8; 5:12; 1 Corinthians 16:21-22; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; 2 Timothy 4:14; Revelation 6:10; 19:1-2.

 Jesus’ use of imprecatory language and other imprecatory passages in the New Testament is problematic to those who want to posit an Old Testament, New Testament divide in the area of ethics as a solution for those who see Matthew 5:44 as being out of harmony with Old Testament imprecatory language.  

 Back to the starting question, how are these imprecatory passages resolved with loving your enemies? The imprecatory Psalms offended the well-known Christian writer, C. S. Lewis. 

 C. S. Lewis refers to the imprecatory Psalms as:  “The refinement of malice” and “contemptible.”

 In addition, he said:  “We must not either try to explain them away or to yield for one moment to the idea that, because it comes in the Bible, all this vindictive hatred must somehow be good and pious. We must face both facts squarely. The hatred is there – festering, gloating, undisguised – and also we should be wicked if we in any way condoned or approved it…” (1)

 As seen, Lewis was not impressed with the imprecatory Psalms.

 Unfortunately, for Lewis, the apostle Peter in Acts 1:20 quoted imprecatory Psalms 69:25 and 109:8. In essence, Lewis calls Peter wicked for condoning these Psalms. In addition, in John 2:17, Jesus quotes, “For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me” (Psalm 69:9). When attacking God’s Word as Lewis did, he ended up refuting himself.

 In what follows, three readings from three different authors will be considered to see how this alleged conflict between Old Testament imprecatory language and Matthew 5:44 has been dealt with.

 The next entry is speculative and is one possible solution to the supposed contradictory nature of Matthew 5:44 and imprecatory passages.  

 The Meaning and Misuse of Love Your Enemies in Matt. 5:44 by Dennis Linscomb:  “Therefore, before we try to apply v. 44 to today, we need to realize that it was intended for the audience of the Sermon on the Mount. N.T. Wright puts it this way: “The Sermon on the Mount…makes excellent sense in a Palestinian setting in the first third of the first century [i.e. before the Jewish revolt of 66-70 A.D.]. There is no need to force this material into a post-70, let alone a non-Jewish, setting. It addresses directly the question people were asking: how to be faithful to YHWH in a time of great stress and ambiguity, a time when many thought the climax of Israel’s history was upon them…. The question of how to apply the sermon to different times and places is another matter, and cannot be allowed to dictate the question of historical origins. (Wright 292)

Wright, N.T., Jesus and the Victory of God, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), p. 292.

In conclusion, the following summarizes the main points I have made in this paper:

1.      Jesus presented “love your enemies” as an ideal ethic which his Sermon on the Mount listeners should have as their goal as they dealt with the Roman occupation they faced in the first century. This was not intended to be a universal ethic to apply in all situations.

2.      Although “love your enemies” in Matt. 5:44 is stated in absolute terms and does not contain any conditions or qualifications, that does not mean that there are none. It was Jesus’ teaching method to speak in absolute terminology without giving any conditions or qualifications.

3.      Jesus (and Paul) saw no contradiction in saying that we should love enemies and also cursing them for evil behavior similar to the OT.

4.      Loving your enemies is an objective ethic, but it is not an absolute ethic (i.e. regardless of circumstances) because it very much depends upon the circumstances.

5.      We should use other principles (such as the greater good) & wisdom in determining the application of “love your enemies” for today.

6.      Probably the best application for today of “love your enemies” is at the personal level in cases where there is no threat to life or physical harm.” (2)

 An imprecatory Psalm from the Treasury of David on Psalm 139:22: “EXPOSITION

Verse 22. I hate them with perfect hatred. He does not leave it a matter of question. He does not occupy a neutral position. His hatred to bad, vicious, blasphemous men is intense, complete, energetic. He is as whole hearted in his hate of wickedness as in his love of goodness.

I count them mine enemies. He makes a personal matter of it. They may have done him no ill, but if they are doing despite to God, to his laws, and to the great principles of truth and righteousness, David proclaims war against them. Wickedness passes men into favour with unrighteous spirits; but it excludes them from the communion of the just. We pull up the drawbridge and man the walls when a man of Belial goes by our castle. His character is a casus belli; we cannot do otherwise than contend with those who contend with God.


Verse 22. I hate them with perfect hatred. What is “with a perfect hatred”? I hated in them their iniquities, I loved thy creation. This it is to hate with a perfect hatred, that neither on account of the vices thou hate the men, nor on account of the men love the vices. For see what he addeth, “They became my enemies.” Not only as God’s enemies, but as his own too doth he now describe them. How then will he fulfil in them both his own saying: Have not I hated those that hated thee, Lord”, and the Lord’s command, “Love your enemies”? How will he fulfil this, save with that perfect hatred, that he hate in them that they are wicked, and love that they are men? For in the time even of the Old Testament, when the carnal people was restrained by visible punishments, how did Moses, the servant of God, who by understanding belonged to the New Testament, how did he hate sinners when he prayed for them, or how did he not hate them when he slew them, save that he “hated them with a perfect hatred”? For with such perfection did he hate the iniquity, which he punished, as to love the manhood for which he prayed. – Augustine. (3)

 Spurgeon, commenting on “Love your enemies” touches on the seeming tension of praying for those lost and hating their iniquity in his citation of Augustine.

 The Scriptures are not contradictory when mentioning bad hatred and good hatred:

 1.      “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:15)

 2.      “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Revelation 2:6)

 The first passage says hating your brother is bad. The second passage says hating a false professing person is good. This distinction gets to the essence of the apparent conflict in the ethics of Jesus (Matthew 5:44) and the imprecatory passages in Scripture.

 From Hating the Haters of God by Professor David Engelsma “The Ground of This Hatred

The reason for David’s hatred of these men is their hatred of God. We may read the text this way: “Do not I hate them, O Lord, because they hate thee? Do not I loathe them, because they rise up against thee?” This comes out even more strongly in the original Hebrew. Literally, we read: “Is it not so, them that hate thee, O Jehovah, I hate?” Their hatred of God is put first in the text, as the cause of our hatred of them. Therefore, there is nothing carnal, nothing selfish and nothing “personal” in our hatred. It is not due to any injury that they did to us. Even though in their hatred of God they probably cursed, mocked and hurt us, it is not what they did to us that explains our hatred. We are not being vindictive in hating them. The reason is this only: they hate God. Thus, our hatred is a holy hatred.

We must be sure of this. It is so easy to corrupt our hatred with personal and carnal motives. In this light, we can see how our hatred for God’s enemies is to be harmonized with our calling to love our enemies. In Matthew 5 and Luke 6, Jesus tells us to love our enemies. We read in Matthew 5:43-44: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” We must not hate our enemies but love them. These are people who bear a personal grudge against us. But they are people who are also our enemies for Christ’s sake, for they persecute us.

It might seem that there is conflict between Psalm 139 and Matthew 5, between our calling to hate God’s enemies and our calling to love those who persecute us. This is, in fact, the position of those who say that we may never hate anyone. They view Matthew 5 as contradicting Psalm 139 and they use Matthew 5 to set Psalm 139 aside.

We hold, however, that the two passages do not contradict each other. Both are Scripture and both must be true in the life of Christ’s disciple. There is harmony between the passages, and the harmony is this: We love men who are our enemies but we hate men who are God’s enemies. This can be one and the same person. Insofar as a man hates, curses and harms me, I love him and I show this by doing acts of kindness to him. Inasmuch as the same man hates God and opposes him, I hate him and count him my enemy. The trouble often is that we do opposite: we readily hate our personal enemies but go on loving those who hate God.

The ground of our hatred of some men is their hatred of God. Ultimately, the ground of our hatred of them is our love of the God whom they hate. Our hatred for those who hate God is an aspect of love—love for God. We love this God. We love him with all our heart and mind and soul and strength. Our love for God, by grace, is a “perfect” love, that is, a thorough, complete, extreme love. We love Him as the only God. We love Him as our maker, as verses 13-16 of this Psalm confess. We love him as Jehovah, the God of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Because we love Him, we hate those who hate Him. This is the high spiritual plane that the Old Testament saints stand on in our text.” (4)

 Professor David Engelsma, in the bold highlighted selection, reconciles this alleged contradiction between the imprecatory passages of Scripture and Jesus in Matthew 5:44.

 Like the Psalmist, we should pray:

 “Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You.” (Psalms 5:1)

 In addition, at the same time, Christian ambassadors for Christ can affirm:

 “Love your enemies…” (Matthew 5:44)

 “Loving your enemies” lines up with other passages like, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

 In closing, Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on Matthew 5:44 is appropriate, and his exegesis is trustworthy:  “But I say unto you, love your enemies,…. That is, as the Apostle Paul may be thought to interpret the words of Christ, Romans 12:20. “If thine enemy hunger, feed him: if he thirst, give him drink”: unless our Lord should be supposed rather to regard the internal affection of the mind; since outward expressions of love, by words and works, are urged in the following exhortations: the actions of a man may be hated, and just indignation be expressed against them, and yet his person be loved, tenderness be used to him, and pity shown him: all men, even enemies, are to be loved with a natural love, as men; though they cannot be loved with a spiritual affection, as brethren in Christ: and in natural affection there are degrees, according to the relation and circumstances that persons stand in to one another.

Bless them that curse you: when wicked men curse you, as Shimei cursed David, do not “render evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing”; give good words, use kind language, mild and soft expressions; such as may either win upon them, or put them to shame and silence: “bless, and curse not”; the latter belongs to them, the former to you; “let them curse, but bless thou”: curses better fit their mouths, and blessings thine. Blessing here, does not signify praising them, for that would be sinful, which is sometimes the sense of the word; nor wishing, or praying for a blessing on them, which is right and good; but this is mentioned afterwards, as distinct from blessing; wherefore, it is better to understand it of a sweet and engaging address unto, and behaviour and conduct towards such, whose mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.

Do good to them that hate you; such as hate you in their hearts, and discover their hatred by their actions; do not make returns in the same way, but on the contrary, do them all the good you can; perform all the kind offices that lie in your power; let them partake of your bounty and liberality; if poor, feed, clothe, and supply them, as you are able, with the necessaries of life; and give them wholesome advice for the good of their souls: by “so doing”, you will “heap coals of fire on their heads”; of enemies, make them friends; engage their affections to you, and you may be happy instruments in doing them good, both in soul and body:

and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you. What Christ here commands and advises to, he himself did; for as he hung upon the cross, he prayed for his crucifiers, who were then using him in the most despiteful, as well as cruel manner; saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”: and in this he has left us an example, that we should tread in his steps; and here in he was quickly followed by his holy martyr Stephen; who, whilst he was being stoned, prayed for his persecutors and murderers, saying, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”. This breathes out the true spirit of Christianity, and is peculiar to it. The whole of this is directly opposite to the tenets of the Jews, particularly the Scribes and Pharisees; who allowed of revenge, and keeping anger against any person that had done them an injury, as has been observed: and which were also the sentiments of the Karaites, or Scripturarians, another sect among them who kept to the letter of the Scriptures, and rejected the traditions of the elders, which the Pharisees held: but in this they agreed with them, “that it was right to do good to their friends, and to forgive them that asked pardon of them; but to such men who rendered evil, and did not return to do well, that they might receive forgiveness, ‘it is not forbidden to revenge, and to keep anger against them’ (s).”’

It is indeed said (t) of their former holy men, “Hasideans”, which some have thought to be the same with the “Essenes”, and a sort of Christians; however, were a better sort of Jews; that these “heard their reproach, but did not return it; and not only so, but they pardoned him that reproached them, and forgave him.”’

And it is reported of these men, that they used to pray to God to pardon and forgive all that disturbed them. But the Pharisees, whom Christ had to do with, and against whom he inveighs, were men of another complexion.” (5)

 In conclusion:

 God’s general benevolence or common grace helps interpret Matthew 5:44. In the next verse from Matthew, we read:

 “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)

 Christians made in God’s image can think God’s thoughts after Him. Therefore, the believer can despise unrighteousness and, at the same time, show grace to non-believers. Matthew 5:44 and imprecatory passage such and some of the Psalms are not contradictory. In addition, in certain qualified circumstances, a believer can pray an imprecatory prayer. The book of Psalms is the songbook Jesus used. So following the example of Jesus, the believer today can sing the songs that Jesus sang, including the imprecatory Psalms. 

 In seeking the lost, we must love them regardless of how a believer may be treated by them. In standing for God’s righteousness, the believer must hate sin. The Matthew passage and imprecatory passages are dealing with different categories of Scriptures. By forcing or pitting them together, in essence, a contradiction is manufactured but not real. Christians should have a forgiving spirit; this, however, does not negate seeking criminal or civil damages in a court of law or a court of the church when wronged by an un-believer.    

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


 1.      C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1958), 20–2.

2.      Dennis Linscomb M.Div., The Meaning and Misuse of Love Your Enemies in Matt. 5:44, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School 2015.

3.      C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. II, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 265; 286.

4.      David Engelsma, Hating the Haters of God, (Pamphlet, Covenant Protestant Reformed Church)

5.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Matthew, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 137-138.

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

 For more study:

 22 Reasons to Pray the Cursing (Imprecatory) Psalms by Benjamin Kandt

 What are the imprecatory psalms?

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What did Jesus mean when He said to hate your father and mother?

What did Jesus mean when He said to hate your father and mother?           By Jack Kettler

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26 NKJV)

Many young Christians have been confused when first reading this passage from Luke. Is Jesus teaching to hate your parents, wife, and children? If so, it would contradict other passages about honoring your parents and caring for your wife and children. 

This brief study will seek to clear up any confusion about this passage and show that it is not contradictory and is in harmony with the totality of Scripture.

First, the Greek understanding of hate will be considered. Doing this will help in a proper understanding of the Luke passage.

Hate from the Strong’s Lexicon:


μισεῖ (misei)

Verb – Present Indicative Active – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 3404: To hate, detest, love less, and esteem less. From a primary misos, to detest, by extension, to love less.

In contemporary Evangelical parlance, a secondary meaning of “misei” is appealed to. The secondary meaning is “love less.” The passage is interpreted to mean that Jesus is not really teaching a disciple actually to hate but to love your family less than him.

While this understanding is correct, there is far more to the passage on discipleship that needs to be considered.

For example:

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, if you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” (John 8:31 ESV)

Abiding or continuing in Christ’s word is a characteristic of a disciple. In order to abide in Christ’s word, His word must be studied and known. 

Again from the Strong’s Lexicon:


μαθητής (mathētēs)

Noun – Nominative Masculine Singular

Strong’s Greek 3101: A learner, disciple, pupil. From manthano, a learner, i.e. Pupil.

In the following commentary selections, the importance and requirements of discipleship are seen.

From the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges commentary on Luke 14:26:
“26. and hate not his father and mother] It is not so much the true explanation to say that hate here means love less (Genesis 29:31), as to say that when our nearest and dearest relationships prove to be positive obstacles in coming to Christ, then all natural affections must be flung aside; comp. Deuteronomy 13:6-9; Deu 21:19-21; Deu 33:8-9. A reference to Matthew 10:37 will shew that ‘hate’ means hate by comparison. Our Lord purposely stated great principles in their boldest and even most paradoxical form by which He alone has succeeded in impressing them forever as principles on the hearts of His disciples. The ‘love of love’ involves a necessity for the possible ‘hate of hate,’ as even worldly poets have understood.

Va, je t’aimais trop pour ne pas te hair.”

“I could not love thee, dear, so much

Loved I not honour more.” – Lovelace.

Yea, and his own life also] this further explains the meaning of the word ‘hate.’ The psuche ‘soul’ or ‘animal life’ is the seat of the passions and temptations, which naturally alienate the spirit from Christ. These must be hated, mortified, crucified if they cannot be controlled; and life itself must be cheerfully sacrificed, Revelation 12:11; Acts 20:24.” (1)

From Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on Luke 14:26:
“(26) If any man come to me, and hate not his father.—Like words had been spoken before, as in Matthew 10:37-39, where see Notes. Here they appear in a yet stronger form, “not hating” taking the place of “loving more,” and they are spoken, not to the Twelve only, but to the whole multitude of eager would-be followers. Self-renunciation, pushed, if necessary, to the extremest issues, is with Jesus the one indispensable condition of discipleship. He asks for nothing less than the heart, and that cannot be given by halves.” (2)

Cross-reference passages:

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37 ESV)

“Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25 ESV)

In conclusion:

The passage from Luke 14:26 and other parts of Scripture are in harmony and not contradictory.

The two commentary selections address the Luke passage and explain the meaning of discipleship exceptionally well. As Ellicott notes, “He asks for nothing less than the heart, and that cannot be given by halves.” The two cross-reference passages from Matthew and John provide a larger context to Luke. The next verse in Luke provides an additional understanding of what is required in discipleship.

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27 ESV)

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Revelation 2:4 NKJV)

Is Jesus your first love?

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


1.      F. W. Farrar, D.D., Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, Luke, (Cambridge University Press, 1898), p. 251.

2.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Luke, Vol.6, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 313.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

And the new book The Five Points of Scriptural Authority in Paperback,

The Five Points of Scriptural Authority: A Defense of Sola Scriptura” Kindle eBook:

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How to stop CRT Racism in the Church

How to stop CRT Racism in the Church                                                   by Jack Kettler

Critical Race Theory (CTR) is dominating the narrative in many circles. The present primer is on how to stop the divisiveness that comes along with the promotion of this so-called theory in Christian Churches. Confessional faithful churches with enrolled membership, and with membership vows have an advantage. Churches of this nature have a process in which discipline can be dealt with in a proper and decent order because the membership vows require it.

This primer will not deal with the specifics of CRT. The reader is encouraged to read this writer’s review “fault lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe” at

The reader is encouraged to read “The Dallas Statement on Social Justice,” which is listed below. 

What exactly are promoters of CRT doing?

The advocates of CTR are leveling charges of systemic against Christ’s Church and, by implication, individual members of racism. How is this to be dealt with?

Jesus gives us the outline on how charges of sin are to be handled Biblically:
“Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17)

 Other Scriptures that inform the process of discipline:  “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” (Deuteronomy 19:15)

“This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” (2 Corinthians 13:1)

 The importance of this will be seen in the judicial process listed below; the accuser must have witnesses.

 First, the promoter of this so-called theory must put the cards on the table. Said another way, the accuser must bring formal intuitional charges of racism against the church; otherwise, unproven accusations are forbidden. The church cannot passively allow unchecked accusations, which allow discord to spread.   

 If one encounters a member promoting CRT, the individual leveling these accusations must be challenged and warned to bring forth charges against church members or keep quiet under the threat of discipline for spreading discord among the brethren.

 If the promoter of CRT will not bring charges in the courts of the church, that individual themselves must be charged for spreading lies about the church and its members.

 Historic definitions must be used in defining racism:

 For example, the Oxford Dictionary:  Racism: noun

    1 Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism by an individual, community, or institution against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

    1.1 The belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another.

 The present writer has heard promoters of CRT on the radio make accusations of systemic racism, and by implication, individual racism. When challenged by the radio host to the caller, “are you saying I am a racist,” the caller starts dancing around with novel definitions. Established definitions must be used. “This country was built on slavery” is a canard that should not go unchallenged. Slavery was overall regional and agricultural. When building New England, the Puritans did not have slaves.     

 Racism is real:

 There have been cases of outright racism in churches and by individuals. Racism and by churches and individuals must not be tolerated. The present writer knows one individual because of his afro hairstyle was told by one church greeter to go down the street to another church that would be more suited to him. Real racism has and does exist and must not be tolerated in Christ’s Church.

 A biblical understanding of racism:

 Treating an individual with disdain is mistreating a person created in God’s image. Prejudice and discrimination against any individual are sinful; this would include treating people of color differently. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28 ESV) 

 With that said, making an accusation of racism is serious and, if false, cannot be allowed to stand. If researched, one finds that CRT is not using historically established definitions. Instead, painting with a broad brush, accusations that the country is a white supremacist power structure. In short, CRT labels one by their race as an oppressor. Using the dictionary definition listed above, CRT is itself racist. CRT does not believe the Scriptures and instead erects racial distinctions in contradiction to Galatians 3:28.

 If the individual promoting CTR is not challenged to bring charges in the courts of the church, evil fruit will be the result:     “A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:18-19)

 The following rather lengthy citation from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s Book of Discipline is in order. The present writer has had personal experience using this procedure:  Suggested Forms for Use in Connection with the Book of Discipline


_____________ [here insert the title of the trial judicatory] of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church charges ____________ with __________ [here name the alleged offense]: __________ [here give references to applicable portions of the Word of God, and, where pertinent, to relevant provisions of the constitution].

Specifications: That on or about __________ the said ________ did ________ [here set forth briefly the place and circumstances of the alleged offense].

Witnesses and/or Documents: ___________ [here set forth the names of witnesses and/or the titles of documents to be produced in support of the charge and specifications].

_______________ [Moderator]

_______________ [Clerk]

Date: ____________


To ____________:

You are hereby cited to appear before _______, meeting on _______ at _________ o’clock at _________, then and there to hear and receive certain charges and specifications which have been preferred against you by ___________ [here insert the title of the trial judicatory] of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

[In the case of a second citation, add the appropriate warning prescribed by Chapter IV, Section A.1.e, of the Book of Discipline.]

By order of ___________ [here insert the title of the trial judicatory] of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

_______________ [Moderator]

_______________ [Clerk]

Date: ____________


To ____________:

You are hereby cited to appear before _________, meeting on _______ at ________ o’clock, at ________, then and there to give evidence in the trial of ___________ [here insert the name of the accused].

[In the case of a second citation of a witness who has failed to appear after a first citation, add the warning prescribed in Chapter IV, Section A.4.e, of the Book of Discipline.]

By order of __________ [here insert the title of the trial judicatory] of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

_______________ [Moderator]

_______________ [Clerk]

Date: ____________


To ____________, Clerk [or Moderator] of ____________ [here insert the title of the judicatory from which the appeal is to be taken] of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church:

And now, this _______ day of _________, A.D. __________, comes ____________ and gives notice of intention to appeal to ____________ from the judgment of ___________ in the case of ____________ [here insert the name of the accused].

_______________, Appellant

Date: ____________

V. APPEAL (in Judicial Cases)

To ____________, Clerk [or Moderator] of _____________ [here insert the title of the judicatory to which the appeal is taken] of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church:

And now, this ___________ day of __________, A.D. _______, comes _______________ and appeals from the judgment of ___________ in the case of ___________ [here insert the name of the accused], and in support of said appeal sets forth the following specifications of error:

____________ [here insert the title of the judicatory from which the appeal is taken] of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church erred in __________ [here state concisely the error alleged to have been made].

[Additional specifications of error may be filed.]

_______________, Appellant

Date: ____________



To ____________, Clerk [or Moderator] of _____________ [here insert the title of the judicatory to which the complaint is taken] of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church:

And now, this _______ day of _______, A.D. _______, comes ____________ and complains against the action [or delinquency] of ____________ in connection with _____________ [here state briefly the matter of which complaint is made].

In bringing this complaint I affirm that I believe that the session [or presbytery] has erred [or has been delinquent] and that this error [or delinquency] is serious; that I have tried to understand the session’s [or presbytery’s] point of view; that I have seriously examined, in prayer before the Lord, my willingness to be in subjection to my brothers in Christ; and that I have made a serious effort to correct the error [or delinquency] short of entering a complaint.

In support of this complaint I set forth the following grounds:

[Here set forth concisely in numbered paragraphs the grounds of fact, circumstance and law in support of the complaint.]

_______________, Complainant

Date: ____________

VII. APPEAL (in Administrative Cases)

To ____________, Clerk of _____________:

And now, this ____________ day of ____________, A.D. __________, comes __________________ and appeals from the decision of the ______________ on the enclosed complaint of _____________ against actions of the _____________, in order to bring that complaint to _____________ for adjudication.

_______________, Appellant

Date: ____________


(This document was prepared for the use of sessions of local congregations. Presbyteries using it shall make appropriate adaptations.)

A. The Manner of Imposing Censure

The power which the exalted Christ gives the rulers of his church is for edification, not destruction. Therefore, when a member is found guilty of a fault deserving censure, the session shall proceed with all tenderness and in the spirit of meekness, each considering himself lest he also be tempted, with the hope of reclaiming or gaining the offender. They should impose censure with great solemnity, so that all might fear, so that it may be a means of impressing the offender’s heart with a proper sense of his sin, and so that by God’s gracious blessing it may lead him to repentance. They should do all this in accordance with the provisions of the Book of Discipline.

B. Indefinite Suspension

1. When the judicatory has passed sentence, indefinitely suspending an officer or a member of the church from privileges, it is fitting that when the sentence is announced, it be in a gathering of the congregation.

2. The one making the announcement may begin by setting forth the teaching of Scripture concerning God’s fatherly discipline (cf. Heb. 12:7-11), the church as God’s instrument in discipline (cf. Matt. 18:17ff.), and the obligation upon the church to fulfill this role (1 Cor. 5:1-13).

3. He may then announce the censure using the following or similar words:

Whereas [name] has been found guilty by (his/her) own confession, or by sufficient proof (as the case may be), of the sin of [here name the particular offence], we have suspended (him/her) from the privileges of church membership [and/or, as appropriate, the privileges of his office], until (he/she) gives satisfactory evidence of repentance.

4. To this the judicatory shall add such advice, admonition, or rebuke, as it may judge necessary; and it shall conclude the whole with prayer to almighty God, that he would accompany this act of discipline with his blessing.

5. The indefinite suspension of an officer or other member of the church shall be announced to the church in which membership or office is held.

6. After a person has been thus suspended, the minister and elders should frequently converse with him, as well as pray for him in private, that it would please God to grant him repentance. And, especially in connection with celebrating the Lord’s Supper, they should offer up public prayers for any who have shut themselves out from this holy communion.

7. When the judicatory is satisfied as to the reality of the repentance of any such suspended member, it shall permit him to profess his repentance, and restore him to fellowship (and/or, as appropriate, the privileges of office) in the presence of the church.

8. If a suspended person fails to manifest repentance for his offence, and continues in impenitence, it may become the duty of the judicatory to excommunicate (and/or, as appropriate, depose him from office) without further trial.

C. Excommunication and Deposition

1. When the judicatory has passed sentence imposing excommunication, with or without previous suspension, it is fitting that when the sentence is announced, it be in a gathering of the congregation.

2. The minister should then make a brief statement of the several steps which have been taken, with respect to the offender, announcing that the session has found it necessary to excommunicate him. He should begin by showing from Scripture (for example, Matthew 18:15-18 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-5) the power of the church to cast out unfaithful members. He should briefly explain the nature, use, and consequences of excommunication.

3. He shall then announce the censure. He may use the following or similar words:

Whereas [name] has by (his/her) own confession, or by sufficient proof (as the case may be), been found guilty of [here name the particular offence], and after much admonition and prayer refuses to hear the church and manifests no evidence of repentance; therefore, in the name and by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, (he/she) has been excluded from the communion of the church.

4. He may instruct and warn the congregation in the following or similar words:

Beloved congregation, [name] may no longer use the sacraments. (He/she) has no part any more in the spiritual blessings and benefits which Christ bestows upon his church. As long as (he/she) persists in sin, let (him/her) be to you as an unbeliever. We exhort you, beloved Christians, do not wash your hands of (him/her). On the contrary, pray for (him/her) with lamentation. Try to evangelize and warn (him/her) as you would a lost sheep. But do not associate with (him/her) as a fellow believer, that (he/she) may be ashamed and be brought to repentance. This excommunication, beloved, is a warning for us all. Let us fear the Lord and be cautious, for he who thinks he stands must take heed lest he fall. Continue in the true fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, and also with all faithful believers, so that we may obtain eternal salvation. “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”

5. He should then lead the congregation in prayer for the conviction and reclaiming or gaining of the excommunicated person, and for the establishment of all true believers.

6. When an officer is to be deposed, these provisions should be appropriately modified.

D. Readmission of an Excommunicated Person

1. When an excommunicated person is so affected by his state that he is brought to repentance and desires to be readmitted to the privileges of the church, the session of the church which excommunicated him, being satisfied of the evidence of his repentance and contrition, shall proceed to readmit him. It is fitting that the sentence of restoration be openly pronounced by the minister in a service of public worship on the Lord’s Day.

2. It is well that the elders stand with the minister before the congregation.

3. The minister may address the congregation in the following or similar words:

[Name] was excluded from the communion of the church, but (he/she) has now given satisfactory evidence of repentance to the session. Therefore, in the name and by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, we declare (him/her) absolved from the sentence of excommunication, and we do restore (him/her) to the communion of the church, that (he/she) may be a partaker of all the benefits of the Lord Jesus, to (his/her) eternal salvation.

4. The minister may then address the restored believer in these or similar words:

Beloved (brother/sister), be assured in your heart that the Lord himself has received you in grace. Be diligent to guard yourself against the subtleties of Satan, the wickedness of the world, and the folly of the flesh, lest you again become entangled in sin. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit again. I charge you to continue steadfastly in the confession which you have made, humbly relying upon the grace of God in the diligent use of the means of grace—especially the Word of God, the sacraments, and prayer.

5. The minister may then address the congregation in these or similar words:

Beloved Christians, receive this (brother/sister) in love. Rejoice and be thankful, for this (brother/sister) was dead and is alive. (He/she) was lost and is found. Rejoice with the angels, for our Lord Jesus said, “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). Do not look on (him/her) any longer as a stranger, but as a fellow citizen with the saints and a member of the household of God.

6. The congregation should then be led in prayer. It is well in such prayer to thank and praise God for granting repentance and restoration to the one who has been restored; and to pray that he may grow in assurance and joy; that he may walk faithfully, and that just as he has previously caused grief, so now may he be the cause of great joy and edification; that God may graciously enable us to forgive and receive; and that he would enable us all to persevere in faith, hope, and love.

E. Other Censures

Censures other than indefinite suspension from church privileges, or deposition, or excommunication, shall be imposed in such manner as the judicatory may direct.

This process, while lengthy and complex, ensures the rights of the accuser and the accused. In this process, the accuser, the one bringing charges, is warned about the severity of the action of filing charges. If the accused is acquitted, the accuser will be counseled to repent for bringing false accusations.

Why is this necessary?

If those promoting CRT are not forced to put their money where their mouths are, so to speak, division and divisiveness will spread.

If an individual promoting CTR is not willing to bring formal charges against the church and specific individuals, they themselves should be charged with making unproven in the courts of the church for making false accusations.     

A personal observation:

Leveling an unproven charge of racism is offensive, and those accused have every right to have their names cleared in the courts of the church.   

In conclusion:

This primer only touches on how CRT can be dealt with in confessional enrolled membership Protestant Churches.

CRT in the marketplace or places of employment is a different case entirely. Large corporations listen to their attorneys and, for supposed legal protection from employee lawsuits, force their employees into sensitivity training that involves CRT training, among other things. Unfortunately, employees are at the mercy of their employers, which in many cases is merciless.

Churches need to sign on or at least make available the following their congregants:

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel

The Dallas Statement on Social Justice

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

And the new book The Five Points of Scriptural Authority in Paperback,

The Five Points of Scriptural Authority: A Defense of Sola Scriptura” Kindle eBook:

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What does judged by no man mean in 1 Corinthians 2:15?

What does judged by no man mean in 1 Corinthians 2:15?                   by Jack Kettler

“But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” (1 Corinthians 2:15)

At first glance, this passage is perplexing. Regarding the spiritual one, the text says concerning a spiritual person, “yet he himself is judged of no man.” What could this possibly mean? It seems common knowledge that at some point, everyone is or has been judged by others, even spiritual persons.

Two cross-references that help to understand the Corinthians text:

“Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.” (Proverbs 28:5)

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:1)

It appears from the cross-references a distinction emerges from a carnal man and a converted man. This distinction could also be described as the natural man and spiritual man.  

How does Strong’s Lexicon analyze the passage?



Article – Nominative Masculine Singular

Strong’s Greek 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

spiritual [man]

πνευματικὸς (pneumatikos)

Adjective – Nominative Masculine Singular

Strong’s Greek 4152: Spiritual. From pneuma; non-carnal, i.e. ethereal, or a spirit, or supernatural, regenerate, religious.


ἀνακρίνει (anakrinei)

Verb – Present Indicative Active – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 350: From ana and krino, properly, to scrutinize, i.e. investigate, interrogate, determine.

all things,

πάντα (panta)

Adjective – Accusative Neuter Plural

Strong’s Greek 3956: All, the whole, every kind of. Including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole.


δὲ (de)


Strong’s Greek 1161: A primary particle; but, and, etc.

he himself

αὐτὸς (autos)

Personal / Possessive Pronoun – Nominative Masculine 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 846: He, she, it, they, them, same. From the particle au; the reflexive pronoun self, used of the third person, and of the other persons.

is not subject to anyone’s judgment

ἀνακρίνεται (anakrinetai)

Verb – Present Indicative Middle or Passive – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 350: From ana and krino, properly, to scrutinize, i.e. investigate, interrogate, determine.

ὑπ’ (hyp’)


Strong’s Greek 5259: A primary preposition; under, i.e. of place, or with verbs; of place (underneath) or where (below) or time (when).

οὐδενὸς (oudenos)

Adjective – Genitive Masculine Singular

Strong’s Greek 3762: No one, none, nothing.

Strong’s Lexicon: Dictionaries of Hebrew and Greek Words taken from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D. 1890

A survey of some learned commentators:

From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on 1 Corinthians 2:15:
“But he that is spiritual – The man who is enlightened by the Holy Spirit in contradistinction from him who is under the influence of the senses only.

Judgeth – Greek: “Discerns.” (Margin); the same word as in the previous verse. It means that the spiritual man has a discernment of these truths in regard to which the sensual man was blind and ignorant.

All things – Not absolutely all things; or not that he is omniscient; but that he has a view of those things to which the apostle had reference – that is, to the things which are revealed to man by the Holy Spirit.

Yet he himself is judged – Greek, as in the margin, “is discerned;” that is, his feelings, principles, views, hopes, fears, joys, cannot be fully understood and appreciated by any natural or sensual man. He does not comprehend the principles, which actuate him; he does not enter into his joys; he does not sympathize with him in his feelings. This is a matter of simple truth and universal observation. The reason is added in the following verse, that as the Christian is influenced by the Lord and as the natural man does not know him, so he cannot know him who is influenced by him; that is the Christian.” (1)

 From Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on 1 Corinthians 2:15:  “(15) He that is spiritual.—the spiritual man judges all spiritual truth, but he himself is judged by none who are not spiritual. (See 1Corinthians 14:29; 1John 4:1.)” (2)

 From Matthew Poole’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:15:  “He that is spiritual, in this verse, is opposed to the natural man, in the former verse, pneumatikov to qucikov. So that by spiritual here is understood, he that is taught by the Spirit of God, and is by him specially and savingly enlightened.

Judgeth or discerneth

all things, that is, of this nature, the mysteries of God, which concern man’s eternal life and salvation; not that every good Christian hath any such perfect judgment or power of discerning, but according to the measure of illumination which he hath received.

Yet he himself is judged of no man; it may as well be translated, of nothing; and the term judged might as well have been translated examined, or searched, as it is in Acts 4:9 12:19 17:11 24:8; or condemned. The wisdom that is of God is not to be subjected to the wisdom of men, nor to be judged of any man, but only the spiritual man. The truth, which the spiritual man owneth and professeth, dependeth only upon God and his word, and is not subjected to the authority and judgment of men, nor the dictates of human reason: so as the spiritual man, so far forth as he is spiritual, is neither judged by any man nor by anything. There are some that by he himself understand the Spirit of God; he indeed

is judged of no man, nor of anything; but that seemeth a much more strained sense.” (3)

 From the Pulpit Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:15:  “Verse 15. – Judgeth all things. If he can judge the higher, lie can of course judge the lower. Being spiritual, he becomes intellectual also, as well as more than intellectual. He can see into the difference between the dream and the reality; he can no longer take the shadow for the substance. He cannot only decide about ordinary matters, but can also “discriminate the transcendent,” i.e. see that which is best even in different alternatives of good. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him” (Psalm 25:14). He himself is judged of no man. He may be judged, condemned, depreciated, slandered every day of his life, but the arrow flights of human judgment fall far short of him. These Corinthians were judging and comparing Paul and Apollos and Cephas; but their judgments were false and worthless, and Paul told them that it was less than nothing to him to be judged by them or by man’s feeble transitory day (1 Corinthians 4:3). “Evil men,” as Solomon said, “understand not judgment” (Proverbs 28:5).” (4)

 The passage in 1 Corinthians 2:15 is merely saying that a non-Christian is unable to judge a Christian with spiritual judgment since they are non-spiritual.

 While not a big fan of the NIV, in this case, it captures the sense of the passage remarkably well. “The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments.” (1 Corinthians 2:15 NIV)

 For example, a real-life application:

 How could a non-Christian vote (a judgment) or understand if a man were qualified to be an elder in the church? What criteria would be used? The non-Christian may use criteria like hiring a manager at a grocery store. It should be evident that this criterion is not adequate biblically. Hence, non-Christians cannot exercise spiritual judgment since they are carnal and not spiritual.    

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


 1.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, 1 Corinthians, Vol. 2 p. 2454.

2.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, I Corinthians, Vol.7, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 294.

3.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, 1 Corinthians, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 545. 4.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, 1 Corinthians, Vol. 19, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 61.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

And the new book The Five Points of Scriptural Authority in Paperback,

The Five Points of Scriptural Authority: A Defense of Sola Scriptura” Kindle eBook: The Five Points of Scriptural Authority: A Defense of Sola Scriptura

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What is the key in Isaiah 22:22?

What is the key in Isaiah 22:22?                                                                By Jack Kettler

“And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut, and he shall shut, and none shall open.” (Isaiah 22:22)

What exactly is the key of the house of David? This key of David is mentioned in Revelation 3:7. In Matthew 16:19, the keys of the kingdom of heaven are mentioned. Are these keys related? 

Cross Reference Scriptures:

“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; these things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” (Revelation 3:7)

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers does a good job of answering the introductory questions:
“(22) And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder . . .—The key of the king’s treasure-chambers and of the gates of the palace was the natural symbol of the chamberlain’s or vizier’s office, and, as in Isaiah 9:6, it was solemnly laid upon the shoulder of the new official, perhaps as representing the burden of the responsibilities of the duties of his office. In the “keys of the kingdom of heaven,” in Matthew 16:19, and again in Revelation 3:7, as also in the custom of admitting a Rabbi to his office by giving him a key, we have a reproduction of the same emblem.

So he shall open, and none shall shut . . .—The words paint vividly the supremacy of the office to which Eliakim was to be called. He alone was to decide who was to be admitted into the king’s chamber, and for whom the king’s treasury was to be opened. In Revelation 3:7, the symbolism is reproduced in its higher application to the King of kings.” (1)

 Barnes’ Notes on the Bible adds to this and connects the two cross-reference passages:  “And the key – A key is that by which a house is locked or opened. To possess that is, therefore, to have free access to it, or control over it. Thus we give possession of a house by giving the “key” into the hands of a purchaser, implying that it is his; that he has free access to it; that he can close it when he pleases, and that no other one, without his permission, has the right of access to it…

So he shall open … – This phrase means that he should have the highest authority in the government, and is a promise of unlimited power. Our Saviour has made use of the same expression to denote the unlimited power conferred on his apostles in his church Matthew 16:19; and has applied it also to himself in Revelation 3:7.” (2)

 Matthew Poole’s Commentary enhances the information regarding the significance of the key upon the shoulder:  “The key; the government, the power of opening and shutting, of letting men into it or putting them out of it, whereof a key is a fit emblem; whence the delivering of the keys of a house or city into the hands of another, is a sign to signify and confirm the giving him the power and possession of it.

Lay upon his shoulder; he mentions the shoulder rather than the hand, in which keys are commonly carried, either from some ceremony then in use, of carrying a key upon the shoulder, either of the officer of state himself, or of another in his name and stead; or to signify that this was a key of greater weight than ordinary, and that government, which is designed by this key, is a heavy burden, and therefore in Scripture phrase said to be upon the shoulder, as Isaiah 9:6.

None shall shut against his will, or without his commission or consent.” (3)

 Key from the Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon:מַפְתֵּחַ noun masculine key (opening instrument); — ׳מ absolute Judges 3:25; 1 Chronicles 9:27; construct Isaiah 22:22 = (figurative). (4)

 Dictionary of Bible Themes on keys:  “A tool for opening a locked door. Used mainly symbolically in Scripture to speak of Jesus Christ’s victory over death and his authority over believers or of the need of deliverance from the imprisonment brought to human nature by sin and the law.

Keys for opening doors

Judges 3:23-25; 1 Chronicles 9:27; Luke 3:20; Luke 11:7; John 20:19, 26; Acts 5:23

The symbolic use of keys

As a symbol of Jesus Christ’s, complete authority

Revelation 3:7 See also Isaiah 22:22

As a symbol of Jesus Christ’s ultimate victory over death and hell

Revelation 1:18

As a symbol of Satan’s ultimate defeat

Revelation 20:1-3 See also Revelation 9:1

As a symbol of Jesus Christ’s authoritative ministry through his church

Matthew 16:19 usually understood as illustrating how God’s forgiveness is made effective through preaching the gospel.

As a symbol of living faith

Isaiah 33:6 See also Matthew 13:52

Being locked up as a symbol of obstacles to faith

Galatians 3:23 See also Luke 11:52” (5)

 In conclusion:

 From the commentary evidence, it is seen that the keys are related. The key of David prophetically looks forward to the true and final key holder, the Lord Jesus Christ. In Matthew 16:19, the keys were given to Peter initially. Later in Matthew 18:18, the keys were given to all the apostles. They were apostolic keys, enabling the apostles to act in the name of Christ.

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


 1.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Isaiah, Vol.4, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 479.

2.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Isaiah, Vol. 3 p. 604.

3.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Isaiah, Vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 375.

4.      Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, Charles A. Briggs, Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers), p. 836. 5.      McConville, Manser, Martin H., Dictionary of Bible Themes (Kindle Location 7). BookBaby. Kindle Edition.  

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

And the new book The Five Points of Scriptural Authority in Paperback,

The Five Points of Scriptural Authority: A Defense of Sola Scriptura” Kindle eBook: The Five Points of Scriptural Authority: A Defense of Sola Scriptura

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Can evolution account for human consciousness? An essay

Can evolution account for human consciousness? An essay                            by Jack Kettler

Thoughts and questions:

In this essay, it will be considered: how did “you” become “you?” and the evolutionist as a metaphysician.                             

The evolutionary theory tries to explain how the physical life forms evolve. Said another way, “Natural Selection” seeks to explain the origin of things that have physical characteristics. Evolutionists claim that this also involves immaterial entities like the human conscious going beyond the material or physical. However, it is problematic for the theory, if consciousness has no physical characteristics, how can it evolve? Is the human consciousness material or immaterial? A strict materialist would say that human consciousness or the mind is physical and nothing more than electrical and chemical interactions. Seemingly, this would be the most consistent attempt to explain this. However, in this case, human consciousness would be nothing more than a mind in a vat.

The existence of human consciousness is a dilemma for the evolutionist. If the conscious is non-material, human consciousness is problematic for the evolutionist. How can materialism produce non-material entities like the laws of logic, ethics, mathematics, and science? How in evolutionary theory do the mechanisms of consciousness work and arise within the purely physical? Attempts to explain this, it seems, are merely metaphysical speculations. Consciousness has no physical existence in the world. Quantifiable dimensions of consciousness would be needed. How can this be done? Therefore, consciousness exists beyond the physical, and evolutionary theory adds nothing in refutation or confirmation.

What exactly is self-consciousness?

When considering human consciousness, it is not an abstract concept. It is how each individual has an identity, which is distinguished from others. Human consciousness is self-awareness.   

Consider this about Self-Consciousness:
“Human beings are conscious not only of the world around them but also of themselves: their activities, their bodies, and their mental lives. They are, that is, self-conscious (or, equivalently, self-aware). Self-consciousness can be understood as an awareness of oneself. But a self-conscious subject is not just aware of something that merely happens to be themselves, as one is if one sees an old photograph without realising that it is of oneself. Rather a self-conscious subject is aware of themselves as themselves; it is manifest to them that they themselves are the object of awareness. Self-consciousness is a form of consciousness that is paradigmatically expressed in English by the words “I”, “me”, and “my”, terms that each of us uses to refer to ourselves as such.” (1)


 The following quotes from philosopher Rene Descartes and Early Church Bishop Augustine are examples of how one is self-aware of their personal identity. 

 Rene Descartes – B. 1596 – D. 1650, philosopher, mathematician, and a scientist who created logical geometry:  “I doubt; therefore, I think, therefore I am.” – René Descartes

“But what then am I? A thing that thinks. What is that? A thing that doubts, understand, affirms, denies, wills, refuses, and that also imagines and senses.” – René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy

“When I turn my mind’s eye upon myself, I understand that I am a thing which is incomplete and dependent on another and which aspires without limit to ever greater and better things…” – René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy

“And what more am I? I look for aid to the imagination. [But how mistakenly!] I am not that assemblage of limbs we call the human body; I am not a subtle penetrating air distributed throughout all these members; I am not a wind, a fire, a vapor, a breath or anything at all that I can image. I am supposing all these things to be nothing. Yet I find, while so doing, that I am still assured that I am a something.” – René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy

 Descartes believed that the intrinsic property of thoughts is when the subject becomes aware of the thought itself. Thus, Cartesian dualism produced the dictum “cognito ergo sum” or I think; therefore, I am.

 Augustine – B. 354 – D. 430, was a theologian, philosopher, and the bishop of Hippo in North Africa:

      The power of memory is great, very great, my God.  It

     is a vast and infinite profundity. Who has plumbed its

     bottom? This power is that of my mind and is a natural

     endowment, but I myself cannot grasp the totality of

     what I am (Confessions 10.8.15).

      But where in my consciousness, Lord do you dwell? . . .

     You conferred this honor on my memory that you should

     dwell in it.  But the question I have to consider is,

     in what part of it do you dwell? . . . I entered into

     the very seat of my mind, which is located in my

     memory, since the mind also remembers itself.  But you

     were not there … All these things are liable to

     change.  But you remain immutable above all things, and

     yet have deigned to dwell in my memory since the time I

     learnt about you (Confessions10.25.36).

      Where then did I find you so that I could learn of you

     if not in the fact that you transcend me? (Confessions 10.26.37).

 Both Augustine and Descartes were aware that they were something more than just a functioning corporeal object. Both men rooted this self-awareness ultimately in God. Evolutionary theory cannot convincingly explain why a physical body could have developed a self-conscious identity. In other words, how did “you” become “you”? How did “you” end up in a physical body? Was it an accident or chance?  Do “you” have a continued existence after the body wears out?  In Christian theology, there are debates about the origin of the soul, which involves human consciousness. One theory is called traducianism, as opposed to what is known as creationism, a unique special creation of a new soul at each conception.

 In conclusion:

 In the present reality, the continuation of ongoing macroevolution cannot be observed. Similarly, the evolutionist argues for ongoing unobservable daily evolution of new personal human consciousness’ coming into existence. Can evolution explain each child’s birth and the growing personal self-awareness as ongoing evolution? If so, it would seem then, rather than God behind the origin of the soul, which involves a human consciousness, it is miraculous personified evolution purporting to be a daily occurrence. If this is true, has evolution taken on the character-like attributes of personality. If so, it reminds one of how chance is often used, which supposedly causes and directs things. Contradictions aside, those who allege incorporeal entities evolve daily have not made the case of how this happens. Those attempting to do so have contradicted the very premise of science, that it is through observation and experiment since the incorporeal cannot be measured or seen. In the case of human consciousness, the evolutionist is very religious, having faith in the unseen, a closet religious metaphysician laid bare. In addition, the disciples of evolution choose not to notice the shift from observable science to a religious-philosophical argument when it comes to explaining self-conciseness.

 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


 1.      Principal Editor: Edward N. Zalta, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Self-Consciousness,” (First published Thu Jul 13, 2017; substantive revision Tue May 12, 2020),

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

And the new book, “The Five Points of Scriptural Authority: A Defense of Sola Scriptura

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Living on the edge of eternity

Living on the edge of eternity                                                                by Jack Kettler

After experiencing a controlled stopping of the heart and restarting it, an awareness of eternity’s closeness became very real. Hence, the title of this study. It is not true later in life; everyone from conception onwards is living on the edge of eternity. Humanity’s life span is incredibly short. This study will look at several Scriptural texts that emphasize this reality.

Scriptures on the shortness of a man’s life:

“For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.” (1 Chronicles 29:15) (KJV unless otherwise noted)

“Oh, remember that my life is a breath! [some translations use “wind”] My eye will never again see good.” (Job 7:7 NKJV)

From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Job 7:7:
“That my life is wind – Life is often compared with a vapor, a shadow, a breath. The language denotes that it is frail, and soon passed – as the breeze blows upon us, and soon passes by; compare Psalm 78:39:

For he remembered that they were but flesh;

A wind that passeth away and cometh not again.” (1)

 “For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow.” (Job 8:9)

 From John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on Job 8:9:

“because our days upon earth are a shadow; man’s time is rather measured by days than by months and years, being so short; and these are called “days” on earth, to distinguish them from the days of heaven, which are one everlasting day, in which there is no night of darkness, either in a literal or figurative sense, and which will never end; but the days of this life are like a “shadow”, dark and obscure; full of the darkness of adversity and trouble, as well as greatly deficient in the light of knowledge; there is nothing in them solid and substantial; the greatest and best things of this life are but a vain show; in heaven there is a better and more enduring substance: everything is mutable and uncertain here; man is subject to a variety of changes in his mind and body, in family and outward estate and circumstances: and life itself is but a vapour, which appears a while and soon vanishes away; or rather like a shadow, that declines, is fleeting, and quickly gone; see 1 Chronicles 29:15.” (2)

 “He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.” (Job 14:2)

 From the Pulpit Commentary on Job 14:2:  “Verse 2. – He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down. Few similes are more frequently used in Scripture (comp. Psalm 103:15; Isaiah 28:1, 4; Isaiah 40:6, 7; James 1:10, 11; 1 Peter 1:24), and certainly none could have more poetic beauty. Eastern flowers do not often last much more than a day. He fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not (comp. Job 7:2; Job 8:9; 1 Chronicles 29:15; Psalm 102:11; Psalm 109:23; Ecclesiastes 6:12, etc.). Shadows are always changing; but the shadows which flee away the fastest, and which Job has probably in his mind, are those of clouds, or other moving objects, which seem to chase each other over the earth, and never to continue for a single minute in one stay.” (3)

 “Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah” (Psalm 39:5 NKJV)

 “For He remembered that they were but flesh a breath that passes away and does not come again.” (Psalm 78:39 NKJV)

 “Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?” (Psalm 89:47)

 From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Psalm 89:47:  “Remember how short my time is – The word rendered “time” – חלד cheled – means duration; lifetime. Psalm 39:5. Then it means life; time; age, the world. Literally, here, “Remember; I; what duration.” The meaning is plain. Bear in remembrance that my time must soon come to an end. Life is brief. In a short period the time will come for me to die; and if these promises are fulfilled to me, it must be done soon. Remember that these troubles and sorrows cannot continue for a much longer period without exhausting all my appointed time upon the earth. If God was ever to interpose and bless him, it must be done speedily, for he would soon pass away. The promised bestowment of favor must be conferred soon, or it could not be conferred at all. The psalmist prays that God would remember this. So it is proper for us to pray that God would bless us soon; that he would not withhold his grace now; that there may be no delay; that he would (we may say it with reverence) bear in remembrance that our life is very brief, and that if grace is to be bestowed in order to save us, or in order to make us useful, it must be bestowed soon. A young man may properly employ this prayer; how much more appropriately one who is rapidly approaching old age, and the end of life!” (4)

 “For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as a hearth.” (Psalm 102:3)

 From the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Psalm 102:3:  “3. Like smoke or, in smoke, a natural figure for speedy and complete disappearance. Cp. Psalm 37:20; James 4:14.

Are burnt as a hearth Rather (cp. P.B.V. and R.V.), burn as a firebrand. He compares himself to a sick man whose strength is being consumed by the burning heat of fever. Cp. Psalm 22:15; Jeremiah 20:9.” (5)

 “Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.” (Psalm 144:4)

 “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1)

 “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” (Isaiah 2:22)

 From Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on Isaiah 2:22:  “(22) Cease ye from man . . .—The verse is wanting in some MSS. of the LXX. version, and is rejected by some critics, as of the nature of a marginal comment, and as not in harmony with the context. The first fact is the most weighty argument against it, but is not decisive. The other objection does not count for much. To “cease from man” as well as from “idols” is surely the natural close of the great discourse which had begun with proclaiming that men of all classes and conditions should be brought low. The words “whose breath is in his nostrils” emphasise the frailty of human life (Genesis 2:7; Genesis 7:22; Psalm 146:3-4). Looking to that frailty, the prophet asks, as the psalmist had asked, “What is man? (Psalm 8:1). What is he to be valued at?” If it could be proved that the verse was not Isaiah’s, it is at least the reflection of a devout mind in harmony with his.” (6)

 “The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely, the people is grass.” (Isaiah 40:6-7)

 “I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass.” (Isaiah 51:12)

 From Matthew Poole’s Commentary on Isaiah 51:12:  “Who art thou? How unreasonable and distrustful art thou, O my church! How unlike to thyself! How unsuitable in these despondencies unto thy own professions and obligations!

Of the son of man which shall be made as grass, of a weak mortal and perishing creature.” (7)

“But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.” (James 1:10)

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14)

 From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on James 4:14:  “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow,…. Whether there would be a morrow for them or not, whether they should live till tomorrow; and if they should, they knew not what a morrow would bring forth, or what things would happen, which might prevent their intended journey and success: no man can secure a day, an hour, a moment, and much less a year of continuance in this life; nor can he foresee what will befall him today or tomorrow; therefore it is great stupidity to determine on this, and the other, without the leave of God, in whom he lives, moves, and has his being; and by whose providence all events are governed and directed; see Proverbs 27:1

For what is your life? Of what kind and nature is it? What assurance can be had of the continuance of it? By what may it be expressed? Or to what may it be compared?

it is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away; which rises out of the earth, or water, and expires almost as soon as it exists; at least, continues but a very short time, and is very weak and fleeting, and carried about here and there, and soon returns from whence it came: the allusion is to the breath of man, which is in his nostrils, and who is not to be accounted of, or depended on.” (8)

 “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1 Peter 1:24-25)


 Whether the above texts compare a man’s life with grass, smoke, a breath, a flower, or vapor, they emphasize the frailty and shortness of human life. Even a non-Christian would agree that a man’s life is short and fragile.

 Implications for life:

 Given this reality about the shortness of life frailty, some may conclude it is time to party. Others may seek and reflect up the meaning and purpose of life.

 Does your life have meaning is it significant? What will happen after your last breath? How can a person know? There are many theories about this? Are these theories nothing more than unprovable speculations? If not, how do you know? This writer has perfect peace about the last breath and entering into eternity. Ask how it is possible to have this peace.     

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


 1.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Job, and Vol. 5 p. 325.

2.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Job, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 167.

3.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Job, Vol.7, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 244.

4.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Psalms, Vol. 5 p.1458.

5.      Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, Alexander Francis Kirkpatrick, Psalms, (Cambridge University Press, 1901), p. 594.

6.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Isaiah, Vol.5, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 424.

7.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Isaiah, Vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 640.

8.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, James, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 70-71.
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

The Five Points of Scriptural Authority: A Defense of Sola Scriptura

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Impotent “Upper Story” Pietism, a Hellenistic Dreamworld

Impotent “Upper Story” Pietism, a Hellenistic Dreamworld             by Jack Kettler

In this primer, the author borrows from Francis A. Schaeffer’s use of the expressions “upper story” and “lower story.” The phrases will not be used in the same way Schaeffer used them. Schaeffer used them as a divide between the rational as opposed to rationalism. This study will use the terminology in the sense of Greek Platonic dualism with its ideas/forms, invisible/visible motif.

Greek dualism can manifest itself in Christianity as false piety, seeking to escape the material world. The “upper story,” in contrast to the “lower story” is where the pietist seeks to find retreat. In fairness, the pietist would not agree with the assessment that escaping labels or describes Pietism accurately. There are many manifestations of Pietism, making it hard to identify. Some religious groups have elements of Pietism.  

Brief definitions:

·         Pietism stresses personal prayers and meditations over religious formality and doctrinal orthodoxy and Christian political activism.

·         Piety, on the other hand, is the quality of being sanctified and reverent, strived for by all believers.

For those wanting a hilarious and accurate look at Pietism, the film Babette’s Feast is excellent! It is a thoroughly enjoyable film and won an Oscar. There are many manifestations of Pietism. Because of this, the present primer will take a narrow view and focus on the extreme dichotomy between the spiritual and material, as seen in some groups influenced by Pietism. The use of the terminology false Pietism is an important qualification of this primer. True piety is something to be practiced and sought after by all Christians.    

In Pietism, Christians strive to escape to the pure spiritual “upper story” world, and not be contaminated by the “lower story” or sinful material world. In Pietism, there is a spiritual/material or upper story/lower story divide. In Pietism, the material world is sinful and hopeless, “why polish brass on a sinking ship.” Because of this pessimism, the pietist must escape. Sometimes this dualism comes in the form of the “Higher Life movement,” where the experiential take precedence over doctrinal confessions. Historically one aspect of this dualism manifested itself in the monkish life, for all practical purposes, navel-gazing. Today, many have heard the phrase that a person can be so spiritually minded that they are no earthly good. The “cultural mandate,” as developed by Abraham Kuyper, is missing in many pietistic circles.


Hebraic thinking posited a unified view of man and God’s world. The spiritual and material were not in conflict. There was one world, and it was God’s world. God was concerned with how humanity lived in the world. Hence, God’s law is a guidepost or instruction manual on how to live in the real world. God instructed Israel how to worship Him. It involved the real world. For example, tithes were brought to worship with material things such as grain, oil, animals. Inheritance laws and instruction for education are important. The correct doctrine is important; false prophets were condemned.  

The Western world and its legal tradition are built upon this Hebraic thinking. Considering the birth of Christianity, Christ did not repudiate this viewpoint. He encouraged it. Jesus did not repudiate God’s law. See Matthew 5:17. God’s law was not a manual to escape this world, but to provide Godly order in society. Today this worldview is called the Judeo/Christian worldview.

Back to Pietism, which is often manifested as detachment from the material world and its concerns. In some cases, of Pietism, the dichotomy between the spiritual and material reveals itself as some things are spiritual, and others are not. For example, prayer meetings are on a superior level than engaging in Christian political activity. Biblically, these two activities should not be juxtaposed.         

The roots of false pietism:

In Greek philosophy, the spiritual/material dualism is seen in the writings of Plotinus, the third great master of Hellenistic thought.

Plotinus argues that the material world is evil, and the goal is to escape to a higher level above. Plotinus, in his first Ennead, puts it this way:

“Since Evil is here, “haunting this world by necessary law,” and it is the Soul’s design to escape Evil, we must escape hence. But what is this escape? “In attaining Likeness to God,” we read. And this is explained as becoming just and holy, living by wisdom, the entire nature grounded in Virtue…. And elsewhere he [Plato] declares all the virtues without exception to be purifications….The solution is in understanding the virtues and what each has to give: thus the man will learn to work with this or that as every several need demands. And as he reaches to loftier principles and other standards these in turn will define his conduct: for example, Restraint in its earlier form will no longer satisfy him, he will work for the final disengagement; he will live no longer, the life of the good man such as Civic Virtue commends but, leaving this beneath him, will take up instead another life, that of the Gods….What art is there, what method, what discipline to bring us there where we must go?” (1)

The final goal for Plotinus is as follows in the second Ennead:

“There is another life emancipated, whose quality is progression towards the higher realm, towards the good and divine, towards that Principle which no one possesses except by deliberate usage but so may appropriate, becoming each personally, the higher, the beautiful, the Godlike.” (2)

According to Plotinus, we must seek disengagement, and leave things beneath us. The “higher realm” or the “upper story” is what is essential.

In general, in Pietism, the goal is similar to Plotinus that is to escape to the higher realm:

The goal for the pietistic Christian is to escape worldliness. To accomplish this, Pietism turns inward in order to flee this world. Pietism can be described as quietism and retreatism; in other words, an escape. Pietism is quiet and has nothing to say as society degenerates, other than escape or retreat. The problem is, eventually, there is nowhere to hide. Another danger of a pietistic higher life movement as it is sometimes known can include a downplaying of the importance of doctrine. For example, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals find common ground in the “upper story” tongue-speaking movement. 

Observations on Pietism:
“Nietzsche may have been accurately describing the feeble pietism that surrounded him, the saccharine portraits of Jesus from childhood, but he could not have been more incorrect in his analysis that as a religion of the “sick soul,” the preaching of Christ was simply a message of resignation to the powers and principalities. On the contrary, it was the most radical renunciation of the herd mentality that keeps us addicted to the power brokers of this age.” – Michael S. Horton  “Prayer and action … can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive. Prayer without action grows into powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates into questionable manipulation.” – Henri Nouwen  “The doctrine of vocation or calling gained currency as men began to take time and history seriously. If the goal of the Christian life is a Neoplatonic flight from this world, then pietism has effectively undermined the doctrine of non-ecclesiastical callings. To speak of having a calling is usually to speak of the clergy and clerical office.” – R. J. Rushdoony  “The purely emotional form of Pietism is, as Ritschl has pointed out, a religious dilettantism for the leisure class.” – Max Weber

 Karl Barth describes Pietism as a phenomenon that promotes individualism rather than social mindedness. If this is true, on the surface, Pietism may appear to be God-centered, when in reality, it may be man-centered under cover of religiosity.

 Barth referring to a pietist named Gerhard Tersteegen whom he had sympathy:  “For him, the world was only a deafening noise from which one must escape!” (3)

 “The Nine Spiritual Laws of White-Wine Pietism” by Craig Parton:

1. Doctrine divides.

As one white-wine pietist told me recently: “Who cares how many natures Christ has? It’s enough to just love Jesus.” The point regularly made by white-wine pietists is that the quest for theological depth, clarity, and maturity lead one away from Jesus Christ and the Scriptures and frustrate the work of the Holy Spirit.

2. Subjectivity is spiritual.

White-wine pietists encourage people to look inside themselves to their very core. Here one finds purity of motive, willingness to follow God, good thoughts, marital fidelity, and truth-telling. To the extent these qualities do not exist in one’s heart, the more one must strive to obtain them through various well-tested ladders of ascent (for example, fasting, accountability groups, a “discipleship” relationship, prayer, and displaying “integrity” in one’s profession). While the Reformation identifies the heart as the problem, white-wine pietists see it as the answer.

3. Liturgy dulls.

White-wine pietists distrust ordered worship – it shackles the heartfelt response. These pietists in confessional churches incessantly clamor to “update” worship so that the “spirit can lead.” Thus Lutherans, for example, now experience the strange phenomenon of having an Amy Grant song in the middie of a “modified” Divine Service. In response to questions about this dubious practice, a white-wine pietist told me roughly the following: “We’ve been doing this liturgy-thing for years and nobody knows what they are saying anymore. It’s only meaningful and alive to you because it’s new to you. Anyway, the liturgy is a sixteenth-century German invention. Frankly, it’s all rote and boring to us (and too hard to understand) and to our children. By the way, can you believe how the public schools dummy down to the lowest common denominator? It is scandalous!” The result is that we now have more user-friendly services because the historical (and thus liturgical) service doesn’t “work” for white-wine pietists who have specialized needs within varying age groups, as well as soccer games at 12:10 P.M. on Sunday.

Pastors of white-wine pietists are encouraged to use their word processors on Thursday night to rearrange the liturgy in order to “surprise” victims on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, evangelicals coming to the Reformation come precisely to get away from “surprises.” (A “surprise” on Sunday morning is usually prefaced with the “worship leader” asking: “Does anyone have something that they would like to share this morning?”) The stability of an historic liturgy and its constant reminder each Sunday that we are in need of the gospel and the forgiveness of sins is what I, for example, found so utterly compelling about the Lutheran Church. Instead, white-wine pietists encourage services that end up being cheesy, mid-1970s praise meetings (but without bell-bottom pants) that eclipse the gospel, promote a theology of glory, and teach the congregation that they don’t “participate” unless they’re up front with the white-wine Yuppie “leadership team” doing piano bar music.

4. The Sacraments are scary.

White-wine pietists neither promote nor defend growth in and by the sacraments. Why? Because the objective forgiveness of sins in the means of grace is gospel through and through. White-wine pietists drink from the chalice of the law and either turn sacraments into ordinances or downplay their centrality in the Christian life (“once a month is more than enough – and why not do it on Sunday night so it is less time-consuming?”).

5. Catechesis is for teenagers or intellectuals.

The new white-wine pietists (like their forefathers) disdain the systematic learning of Christian doctrine. Catechesis, it is thought, smells of Rome, and we all know how little good catechism class does them, right? There is the perception among white-wine pietists in confessional churches that confirmation classes are to be endured and that works like Luther’s Small Catechism are to be thankfully put on the shelf at the end of the eighth grade. The concept of a thorough theological education from the earliest grades through adulthood is gone. Pietism has killed it. White-wine pietists keep the coffin nailed shut.

Vacuous Sunday school curricula that catechizes one in the theology of glory (with no emphasis, of course, on the sacraments) are brought in wholesale and fed to the children. Youth rallies stress the inner spiritual life over objective growth in faith through the means of grace (word and sacrament). Yet no one understands why kids are leaving confessional churches in droves for the evangelical movement as soon as they get to college. Of course, they are! Why stay? Johnny Angel goes to college and soon realizes that the evangelical parachurch organizations and other non-denominational Bible churches do a theology of glory with more enthusiasm and quality. The very churches that bemoan declining membership have set the next generation up for the completely logical next step.

6. Small groups promote “real” growth and “accountability.”

I thought I had left the horizontal approach to Bible study back with my white-wine pietist past. Not so. The Relational Bible Study School of Theology is being resuscitated by the new white-wine pietists operating in confessional churches. The result is an erosion of confidence in the value of corporate worship tied in with the worship of all Christians throughout time, in the sacraments and the word as the only sure means of growth in the Christian life, and in the liturgy as both cross-and counter-cultural.

Pietism created The Horizontal School of Theology. That school will never support an emphasis on confessional orthodoxy or on sacramental corporate worship. Small groups within churches that do not foster commitment to corporate worship and thus to the means of grace are enemies of the cross of Christ. The premise of such groups is that word and sacrament are not enough to meet individual felt needs. Everyone is different, so everyone must be met on a different level. Some have daily sins to confess and to be absolved from and some don’t. All have something different they need or want from the church salad bar on Sunday morning. This is a malignant American individualism, and it smells of Lucifer’s droppings.

7. Doctrinal hymns are elitist, but praise choruses edify.

As the white-wine-pietist son of a Lutheran minister told me recently, the first priority should be on whether the song can be sung easily and only then should one focus on the text of the song. Since the key is to experience God directly, immediately, and quickly (like an Egg McMuffin), the easiest way is by using the ubiquitous Maranatha praise book dearly cherished at the local McChurch.

It is known among trained musicians that within certain groups simply playing certain chords will immediately elicit the response of closed eyes or raised hands (somewhat like Pavlov’s dogs salivating at the ringing of a bell). It has nothing to do whatsoever with any content that is being sung – it is simply a matter of musical form eliciting a certain emotional response. Because of their abject ignorance of doctrine, the new white-wine pietists disparage the historic hymnody of the church and encourage a musical style that allows them to put one arm around their girl-friend and the other in the air. While Bach signed his works with “Soli Deo Gloria,” the music of white-wine pietism is signed with the godly reminder that it is “used by permission only, Big Steps 4 U Music, License #47528695, copyright 1986, administered by Integrity Hosanna Music, Incorporated.”

The hymns of the Reformation are often theologically dense and difficult to sing. They can elicit an emotional response too, such as contrition, falling prostrate in fear of God, or despairing of the merit of one’s good works. The impression is given that because there is a language and style to learn, and that it is difficult, it is not worth making the effort. If I had listened to this kind of advice during the first year of law school, I would never have become a lawyer. To those who say you can put any content to any praise chorus and get the appropriate result, I respond: Then why don’t we put the content of Luther’s catechetical hymn “From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee” to the Beach Boys’ “Fun, Fun, Fun ‘Til Daddy Takes the T’ Bird Away”?

8. The Holy Spirit hates apologetics.

White-wine pietists despise apologetics, because it deals with rational argumentation, and pietists distrust the mind. The heart promotes worship while the mind just gets in the way. The new white-wine pietists are no different from their sixteenth-century predecessors (and Luther’s nemeses) the so-called “Zwickau Prophets,” Carlstadt and Muenzer – they put the head and the heart at war with one another. While we would gladly agree that no human effort (intellectual or otherwise) can ever be attributed as the cause of regeneration or saving faith, Scripture calls us to give a defense of the hope that is within. This takes work, study, and contact with the objections of unbelievers. White-wine pietists don’t do well in these waters, though to their credit they often socialize well with unbelievers. It is easier to attack apologetics as trying to “argue people into the kingdom” than it is to do serious, time-consuming study. Historically, pietism has ignored and disdained apologetics, placing it in tension with the “testimony from the heart.” Historically, pietism has ignored and disdained apologetics, placing it in tension with the “testimony from the heart.”

The new white-wine pietists, unlike their fundamentalist forefathers, do go into the marketplace to “win the lost.” But their method of winning the lost is presenting a theology of glory based on their “lifestyle of integrity,” their “model family,” or by showing unbelievers how “tight” their “fellowship group” is. Mormons and all other moralists or anyone else with their lives halfway together, however, should be profoundly unimpressed. A reasoned and vigorous (and thus apostolic) defense of the cross is simply gone. In fact, it is arrogantly mocked as a strictly unspiritual endeavor. The “good news” preached by the new white-wine pietists is never really that good, because the bad news of the law is never fully grasped or preached in its awful severity.

9. Growth in faith comes through obedience to the law.

This is the central theological sulfur of all strains of pietism. The Reformation in general, and Luther in particular, were emphatic that the prime function of the law was to slay and kill Adam, the first pietist. Growth in the Christian life is a growth in grace – that is, a growth in the life and salvation given by Christ and springing out of the daily forgiveness of sins. A focus on the forgiveness of sins will always push a person to the means of grace, where a holy God promises and delivers that forgiveness. The new white-wine pietist, true to his origins, has an individualistic and pragmatic interest in the church. Pietists interest themselves in the work of the church to the extent that it fosters relationships, love for God “fellowship,” a growing commitment to small groups, and access to God unencumbered by the means of grace or by liturgy, in favor of more emotional worship.” (4)

 Gary North explains the helplessness of Pietism when it comes to real-world issues:  “Christian pietists who self-consciously, religiously, and confidently deny that Christians should ever get involved in any form of public confrontation with humanism, for any reason, have recognized this weakness on the part of antinomian Christian activists. They never tire of telling the activists that they are wasting their time in some “eschatologically futile reform program.” Such activism is a moral affront to the pietists. Those of us who have repeatedly marched in picket lines in front of an abortionist’s office have from time to time been confronted by some outraged Christian pietist who is clearly far more incensed by the sight of Christians in a picket line than the thought of infanticide in the nearby office. ‘Who do you think you are?” we are asked. “Why are you out here making a scene when you could be working in an adoption center or unwed mothers’ home?” (These same two questions seem equally appropriate for the pietist critic. Who does he think he is, and why isn’t he spending his time working in an adoption center or an unwed mothers’ home?)… The pietistic critics of activism also understand that in any direct confrontation, Christians risk getting the stuffings – or their tax exemptions – knocked out of them. They implicitly recognize that a frontal assault on entrenched humanism is futile and dangerous if you have nothing better to offer, since you cannot legitimately expect to beat something with nothing.” (5)

 More on the dangers of Pietistic dualism in Churchianity or Christianity part 6-retreatism pietism Churchianity and the recovery of Christianity:  “All dualism since Ockham, and especially as expressed in pietism, has had the cultural effect of weakening the church and strengthening the state. With its retreat inward, pietism was completely unable to combat the forces of the Enlightenment, just as Lutheranism was found powerless with the rise of the Third Reich. The Enlightenment perspective saw the state, not the church, as the truly universal institution; the church was the area of private faith, whereas the state was the realm of reason. The state would therefore assert itself as the new arbiter of order. Given pietism’s primary concern for ‘spiritual life,’ it did not contest this claim. The same is true of modern evangelical pietism. It has allowed the state to move into and control most of life, and we have given up the majority of that ground uncontested. While on the one hand emphasising the church and spiritual life, pietism actually allows the church to become an essentially peripheral institution, irrelevant to life in the world… An immediate offspring of this dualism and pietism is retreatism.” (6)

 In the real world:

 When the state asserts its authority over the church, for instance, the pietists are not up for the fight. Because of its withdrawal from society, Pietism creates a power vacuum that the state will gladly rush in to fill. Sadly, in Pietism, political action is viewed with suspicion because of its dependence upon Greek Platonic dualism. Escape to the “upper story” is an escape to nowhere. Additionally, as noted by Plotinus, “There is another life emancipated, whose quality is a progression towards the higher realm.” In other words, the invisible and the world of ideas is superior to the visible and the imperfect world of forms. The problem with this is that it is fiction.   

 Jesus did not limit the Christian life to only private worship or gospel preaching only. 

 “Your kingdom comes, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mathew 6:10)

 God’s world is a unified whole, not Greek “upper story,” “lower story” dualism.

 Retreating and evacuating is a methodology for loosing culturally in history. Andrew Sandlin has noted this when he quotes Winston Churchill:  “Wars are not won by evacuations…. We shall fight on the beaches, and we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” – Winston Churchill

 Bio: Andrew Sandlin is a Christian minister, cultural theologian, and author; the founder and president of the Center for Cultural Leadership in Coulterville, California; faculty member at Blackstone Legal. Wikipedia

 Thank God, that Churchill was not a pietist. Churchill’s call to battle helped save Western Civilization. Thankfully, the majority of Christians during the War for Independence were not pietists. During the War for Independence, in the English parliament, the conflict was sometimes referred to as the Presbyterian revolt or that the colonies have followed the Presbyterian parson, John Witherspoon.   

 A conclusion, it can be said; the philosophical positions advanced by the Greeks influenced the areas of epistemology, ontology, ethics, and teleology and that the Greek influence is a sufficient explanation for positions that have been adopted by some western religions and philosophy. Regrettably, this includes Pietism.

 These Greek concepts have influenced present-day Pietism. While admitting that Pietism may not be aware of the source of some of its positions, it nevertheless is dependent upon Greek philosophical ideas, namely, fleeing to the “upper story.”

 Mark Rushdoony describes what has been the result of Pietism in our culture:     “Pietism, in fact, saw Christianity as a retreat from earthly, worldly concerns, which it increasingly abandoned.” (7)

 The present reign of the Lord Jesus Christ is not Pietism:

 “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:25)

 According to Paul in 1 Corinthians, this reign is a present reality and will climax in the Second Coming.

 Jesus did not teach, “Do not waste your time polishing the brass on a sinking ship.” Not only is this contrary to Christ’s present reign, and it is implicitly bad eschatology. 

 Christ reigns in both the upper and lower stories. In both the invisible and visible. In the world of ideas and forms. Anything less is a truncated Christianity. Christians must engage the culture and transform it.

 The cultural mandate:

 “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

 “In the total expanse of human life, there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’” Abraham Kuyper

 Christians must proclaim the Lordship of Christ over every aspect of life and culture, not flee to the “upper story.”

 The reader should consult, Messiah the Prince, by William Symington to learn more about Christ’s present reign and the implications for the present world.

 Escaping Cultural Relevance – Gary North:  “Here is a major dilemma For the modern church:

Christians confidently affirm that “the Bible has answers for all questions.” But one question is this: What relevance should Christianity have in culture? Modern antinomian Christians emphatically deny the judicial foundation of Christianity’s cultural relevance in history: biblical law and its biblically mandated sanctions.

Most Christians prefer pietism to cultural relevance, since civil responsibility accompanies cultural relevance.

They seek holiness through withdrawal from the prevailing general culture.

This withdrawal has forced them to create alternative cultures – ghetto cultures – since there can be no existence for man without culture of some kind.

Mennonites have achieved a remarkable separation from the general culture, though not so radical as tourists in Amish country like to imagine, by abandoning such modern benefits as electricity in their homes and the automobile.

But they travel in their buggies on paved highways, and they use electricity in their barns.

They are always dependent on the peace-keeping forces of the nation.

Pietistic Christians have longed for a similar separation, but without the degree of commitment shown by the Amish.

They send their children into the public schools, and they still watch television.

The result has been catastrophic: the widespread erosion of pietism’s intellectual standards by the surrounding humanist culture, and the creation of woefully third-rate Christian alternatives.

The ultimate form of personal Christian withdrawal from culture is mysticism: placing an emotional and epistemological boundary between the Christian anger the world around him.

But there is a major theological risk with all forms of theistic mysticism.

The proponents of theistic mysticism again and again in history have defined mysticism as union with God.

But their primary motive is to escape social responsibility and social ethics.

By defining mysticism as metaphysical rather than ethical, mystics have frequently come to a terribly heretical conclusion: their hoped-for union with God is defined as metaphysical rather than ethical.

They seek a union of their being with God.

The mystic’s quest for unity with God denies the Bible’s ultimate definition of holiness: the separation of God from the creation.” (8)

 In closing, Bavinck’s Critique of Pietism:  “Like so many other efforts at reforming life in Protestant churches, Pietism and Methodism were right in their opposition to dead orthodoxy. Originally their intention was only to arouse a sleeping Christianity; they wished not to bring about a change in the confession of the Reformation but only to apply it in life. Yet, out of an understandable reaction, they frequently went too far in this endeavor and swung to another extreme. They, too, gradually shifted the center of gravity from the objective to the subjective work of salvation. In this connection it makes essentially no difference whether one makes salvation dependent on faith and obedience or on faith and experience. In both cases humanity itself steps into the foreground. Even though Pietism and Methodism did not deny the acquisition of salvation by Christ, they did not use this doctrine or relate it in any organic way to the application of salvation. It was, so to speak, dead capital. The official activity of the exalted Christ, the Lord from heaven, was overshadowed by the experiences of the subject. In Pietism, instead of being directed toward Christ, people were directed toward themselves. They had to travel a long road, meet all sorts of demands and conditions, and test themselves by numerous marks of genuineness before they might believe, appropriate Christ, and be assured of their salvation. Methodism indeed tried to bring all this—conversion, faith, assurance—together in one indivisible moment, but it systematized this method, in a most abbreviated way, in the same manner as Pietism. In both there is a failure to appreciate the activity of the Holy Spirit, the preparation of grace, and the connection between creation and re-creation. That is also the reason why in neither of them does the conversion experience lead to a truly developed Christian life. Whether in Pietistic fashion it withdraws from the world or in Methodist style acts aggressively in the world, it is always something separate, something that stands dualistically alongside the natural life, and therefore does not have an organic impact on the family, society, and the state, on science and art. With or without the Salvation Army uniform, Christians are a special sort of people who live not in but outside the world. The Reformation antithesis between sin and grace has more or less made way for the Catholic antithesis between the natural and the supernatural. Puritanism has been exchanged for asceticism. The essence of sanctification now consists in abstaining from ordinary things.” (9)

 As noted by Bavinck says pietistic, “Christians are a special sort of people who live not in but outside the world.” Thus, in Pietism, platonic dualism manifests itself, and to use Schaeffer’s terminology, they attempt to live in “upper story.”

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


 1.      Plotinus, The Six Enneads, Vol. 17 of Great Books of the Western World, Trans. by S. Mackenna and P.S. Page, (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952), pp. 1.2, 1; p. 6. 1. 2, 3; p. 7. 1. 2, 7; p. 10. 1. 3, 1; p. 10.

2.      Plotinus, 2.3, 9; p. 45.

3.      Eberhard Busch, Karl Barth and the Pietists: The Young Karl Barth’s Critique of Pietism & Its Response, (Wipf and Stock (June 15, 2016), p. 19.

4.      Craig Parton, The nine spiritual laws of white wine pietism, Intrepid Lutherans, https:// vdma. /2010/11/18/the-nine-spiritual-laws-of-white-wine-pietism/

5.      Gary North, Tools of Dominion, (Tyler, Texas, Institute for Christian Economics, 1990), p. 15.

6.      Christian Concern, Churchianity or Christianity part 6-retreatism pietism churchianity and the recovery of Christianity, online resource, https: // Christian concern. com/

7.      Dualism, Rev. Mark R. Rushdoony is president of Chalcedon and Ross House Books. He is also editor-in-chief of Faith for All of Life and Chalcedon’s other publications. https:// sites. Google. com/site/world view address/clients/dualism

8.      Gary North, Leviticus: An Economic Commentary; Introduction, (Tyler, TX, Institute for Christian Economics, 1994), p. 2-3.

9.      Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ, trans. H. Bolt, Editor J. Vriend, translator, Vol. 3, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3.567–68.

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

 The Fallacy of Pietism by R. J. Rushdoony

Churchianity or Christianity part 6 retreatism pietism churchianity and the recovery of Christianity see parts 1-5 at

How Pietism Deceives Christians by Bob DeWaay

The Bane of Pietism and the Murder of the Preborn by Pastor Matt Trewhella

Pietism: The Reason Pastors Aren’t Involved

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

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What does the Bible mean when it says, “All Israel shall be saved”?

What does the Bible mean when it says, “All Israel shall be saved”?           By Jack Kettler

“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, there shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” (Romans 11:26)

·         How has this passage been interpreted historically?

·         For example, is the apostle looking beyond the Old Testament typology of Israel to the larger Church made up of all of God’s elect consisting of both Jews and Gentiles? 

·         If Romans 11:26 is taken at face value, it seems to be saying that everyone in Israel literally will be saved.

·         If so, would this mean every Jewish person throughout all of history will be saved, or only at some specific time in history?

Points two and four or some variation with qualifications; are the two major viewpoints or interpretive approaches to the passage.

First, was Paul referencing other Old Testament Scriptures in Romans 11:26?

“But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.” (Isaiah 45:17)

“And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 59:20)

“At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:1)

The above three passages, reiterate the theme that is seen concerning Israel’s redemption throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.

For example:

“And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” (Genesis 17:7)

Paul most certainly had the above passages in mind when he penned Romans 11:26. These Old Testament passages affirm what is said in Romans 11:26; they do not answer the introductory questions about how many in Israel, what time period, and does Israel a type of a larger group of people to be saved.

It is always helpful to survey how Romans 11:26 has been interpreted in the past. There are several competing interpretations.     

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges describes some of the different approaches to interpreting this passage:
“26. And so all Israel shall be saved several interpretations of these words are in themselves legitimate. They may refer (A) to the natural Israel, the Jews; or (B) to the “Israel of God,” the true Church of Christ. Again, if the reference (A) is adopted, the prophecy may mean (a) that then all the elect of Israel shall at length be gathered in—the long process shall at length be complete; or (b) that every individual of the then generation of Jews shall be brought to Messiah’s grace; or (c) that “all” bears a less exact reference here, as so often in Scripture, and means “in general;”—“Israel in general, the Jews of that day as a great aggregate, on a scale unknown before, shall be saved.”

Of these various possibilities we prefer on the whole (A. c,) as the most in accord with the context, and with the analogy of Scripture. The explanation (B) is in itself entirely true: the final glory and triumph of the Gospel will surely be, not specially the salvation of the Jews, but that of the Universal Church—the immortal Bride of the King Eternal. And it is extremely important to remember the full recognition in Scripture of all its true members as the “seed of Abraham” (Galatians 3:29). But this is not the truth exactly in point here, where St Paul is dealing with the special prospect of a time when “blindness in part” will no longer characterize Jews as Jews. And the “Israel” of Romans 11:25 is probably the Israel of Romans 11:26, as no distinction is suggested in the interval.—Again, the reference marked (A. a), though perfectly true in itself, is less likely here because in Romans 11:15; Romans 11:25, we have had already a prediction of a restoration of Jews, en masse, to grace; whereas the process of gathering in the elect of all ages is continuous, and thus, on the whole, gradual.—Again, the reference marked (A. b), though the Divine Plan may, of course, intend no less, is far from analogous to the main teaching of Scripture as to the developements (even the largest) of grace in this world.—On the whole, then, we adopt the interpretation which explains the sentence as predicting the conversion of some generation or generations of Jews, a conversion so real and so vastly extensive that unbelief shall be the small exception at the most, and that Jews as such shall everywhere be recognized as true Christians, lights in the world, and salt on the earth.” (1)

In the next commentary selection, a view will be considered that “all Israel” refers to all of Israel at a specific point in history will be saved.

It will be helpful to consider Matthew Poole’s Commentary on Romans 11:26 for the first or the (A) entry viewpoint as noted by the Cambridge commentary:  “Here is a third and chief part of the aforementioned mystery, that in the end,

all Israel shall be saved. By Israel is not meant the whole church of God, consisting of Jews and Gentiles; so that word is used, Galatians 6:16, and elsewhere; for then, what he spake would have been no mystery at all: but by Israel here (as in the precedent verse) you must understand, the nation and people of the Jews. And by

all Israel is not meant every individual Israelite, but many, or (it may be) the greatest part of them. So all is to be taken in Scripture: see John 6:45 1 Timothy 2:6, and elsewhere. Look, as when he speaks of the conversion of the Gentiles, and the coming in of their fulness, there are many (too many of them) still unconverted; so, notwithstanding the general calling of the Jews, a great many of them may remain uncalled.

As it is written; the apostle had this by revelation, but he proves it also by Scripture. All are not agreed from whence these testimonies are taken; the former is found (with some little variation) in Isaiah 59:20: as for the latter, some think it is taken from Jeremiah 31:33. Others think, that he joineth two places in Isaiah together, (as he did before, Romans 11:8), and the last words are taken out of Isaiah 27:9. The Seventy have the very words used by the apostle. These prophecies and promises, though they were in part fulfilled when Christ came in the flesh, {see Acts 3:26} yet there will be a more full and complete accomplishment thereof upon the Jewish nation and people towards the end of the world.” (2)

 John Calvin represents a second view or (B) entry, as noted by the Cambridge commentary as a type for all of God’s elect people from the Jews and Gentiles.    

 It would be good to consider his line of reasoning from John Calvin on Romans 11:26:  “26. And so all Israel, etc. Many understand this of the Jewish people, as though Paul had said, that religion would again be restored among them as before: but I extend the word Israel to all the people of God, according to this meaning, — “When the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also shall return from their defection to the obedience of faith; and thus shall be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be gathered from both; and yet in such a way that the Jews shall obtain the first place, being as it were the first-born in God’s family.” This interpretation seems to me the most suitable, because Paul intended here to set forth the completion of the kingdom of Christ, which is by no means to be confined to the Jews, but is to include the whole world. The same manner of speaking we find in Galatians 6:16. The Israel of God is what he calls the Church, gathered alike from Jews and Gentiles; and he sets the people, thus collected from their dispersion, in opposition to the carnal children of Abraham, who had departed from his faith.

As it is written, etc. He does not confirm the whole passage by this testimony of Isaiah, (Isaiah 59:20,) but only one clause, — that the children of Abraham shall be partakers of redemption. But if one takes this view, — that Christ had been promised and offered to them, but that as they rejected him, they were deprived of his grace; yet the Prophet’s words express more, even this, — that there will be some remnant, who, having repented, shall enjoy the favor of deliverance.

Paul, however, does not quote what we read in Isaiah, word for word;

“Come,” he says, “shall a Redeemer to Sion, and to those who shall repent of iniquity in Jacob, saith the Lord.” (Isaiah 59:20.)

But on this point we need not be very curious; only this is to be regarded, that the Apostles suitably apply to their purpose whatever proofs they adduce from the Old Testament; for their object was to point but passages, as it were by the finger, that readers might be directed to the fountain itself.

But though in this prophecy deliverance to the spiritual people of God is promised, among whom even Gentiles are included; yet as the Jews are the first-born, what the Prophet declares must be fulfilled, especially in them: for that Scripture calls all the people of God Israelites, is to be ascribed to the pre-eminence of that nation, whom God had preferred to all other nations. And then, from a regard to the ancient covenant, he says expressly, that a Redeemer shall come to Sion; and he adds, that he will redeem those in Jacob who shall return from their transgression. By these words God distinctly claims for himself a certain seed, so that his redemption may be effectual in his elect and peculiar nation. And though fitter for his purpose would have been the expression used by the Prophet, “shall come to Sion;” yet Paul made no scruple to follow the commonly received translation, which reads, “The Redeemer shall come forth from Mount Sion.” And similar is the case as to the second part, “He shall turn away iniquities from Jacob:” for Paul thought it enough to regard this point only, — that as it is Christ’s peculiar office to reconcile to God an apostate and faithless people, some change was surely to be looked for, lest they should all perish together.” (3)

 The following summary of the three most prominent views by Simon J. Kistemaker is constructive:Three Interpretations

A. “The Most Popular Theory

“All Israel” indicates the mass of Jews living on earth in the end-time. The full number of elect Gentiles will be gathered in. After that the mass of the Jews—Israel on a large scale—will be saved. This will happen just previous to, or at the very moment of, Christ’s Return.

 For the names of some of the advocates of this theory, see p. 307.


a. The Greek word οὕτως does not mean then or after that. The rendering “Then all Israel will be saved” is wrong. In none of the other occurrences of this word in Romans, or anywhere else in the New Testament, does this word have that meaning. It means so, in this manner, thus.

  b. This theory also fails to do justice to the word all in “all Israel.” Does not “all Israel” sound very strange as a description of the (comparatively) tiny fraction of Jews who will still be living on earth just before, or at the moment of, Christ’s Return?

  c. The context clearly indicates that in writing about the salvation of Israelites and Gentiles Paul is not limiting his thoughts to what will take place in the future. He very definitely includes what is happening now. See especially verses 30, 31.

  d. Would it not be strange for God to single out for a very special favor—nothing less than salvation full and free—exactly that generation of Jews which will have hardened its heart against the testimony of the longest train of Christian witnesses, a train extending all the way from the days of Christ’s sojourn on earth—in fact, in a sense, all the way from Abraham—to the close of the new dispensation?

  e. The reader has not been prepared for the idea of a mass conversion of Israelites. All along Paul stresses the very opposite, namely, the salvation, in any age (past, present, future) of a remnant. See the passages listed under 11:5, p. 363. If Rom. 11:26 actually teaches a mass conversion of Jews, would it not seem as if Paul is saying, “Forget what I told you previously”?

  f. If Paul is here predicting such a future mass conversion of Jews, is he not, contradicting, if not the letter, at least the spirit, of his earlier statement found in 1 Thess. 2:14b–16:

  “… the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and do not please God, and are hostile to all men, in that they try to prevent us from speaking to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But upon them the wrath [of God] has come to the uttermost”?

  g. The immediately following context (11:26b, 27) refers to a coming of “the Deliverer” who will turn away godlessness and remove sin from Jacob. Was not that the purpose of Christ’s first coming? But the popular interpretation of Rom. 11:26 predicts a mass conversion of Jews in connection with Christ’s second coming. That theory is, accordingly, not in harmony with the context.

  For these several reasons Interpretation A. should be rejected.

 B. John Calvin’s Theory

“All Israel” refers to the total number of the elect throughout history, all those who are ultimately saved both Jews and Gentiles. In his Commentary on his passage Calvin expresses himself as follows:

  “I extend the word Israel to all the people of God, according to this meaning: when the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also will return from their defection to the obedience of faith, and thus will be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be gathered from both …”

  The same view is defended by J. A. C. Van Leeuwen and D. Jacobs, op. cit., p. 227; and, in a sense, by Karl Barth, Der Römerbrief, Zürich, 1954, p. 401; English tr., p. 416.


In as far as Calvin interprets the term Israel spiritually—“Israel” refers to the elect—his theory must be considered correct. Cf. Rom. 9:6. Also his claim that the section, verses 25–32 (considered as a unit), describes the one people of God cannot be successfully refuted. On the other hand, Calvin’s application of the term “Israel,” in verse 26, to all the people of God, both Jews and Gentiles, is wrong. In the preceding context the words Israel, Isrealites (s) occur no less than eleven times: 9:4; 9:6 (twice); 9:27; 9:31; 10:19; 10:21; 11:1; 11:2; 11:7; and 11:25. In each case the reference is clearly to Jews, never to Gentiles. What compelling reason can there be, therefore, to adopt a different meaning for the term Israel as used here in 11:26? To be sure, at the close of verse 25 the apostle makes mention of the Gentiles, but only in order to indicate that the partial hardening of the Jews will not cease until every elect Gentile will have been brought into the kingdom. Accordingly, Paul is still talking about the Jews. He does so also in verse 26b. Even verse 28 contains a clear reference to Jews. Not until verses 30–32 are reached does the apostle cause the entire body of the elect, both Jews and Gentiles, to pass in review together.

  Therefore, while appreciating the good elements in Calvin’s explanation, we cannot agree with him in interpreting the term “all Israel” in 11:26 as referring to all the elect, both Jews and Gentiles. A passage should be interpreted in light of its context. In the present case the context points to Jews, not to Gentiles, nor in verses 26–29 to a combination of Jews and Gentiles.

 C. A Third Theory

The term “All Israel” means the total number of elect Jews, the sum of all Israel’s “remnants.” “All Israel” parallels “the fulness of the Gentiles.” Verses 25. 26 make it very clear that God is dealing with both groups, has been saving them, is saving them, and is going to save them. And if “All Israel” indicates, as it does, that not a single elect Israelite will be lacking “when the roll is called up yonder,” then “the fulness of the Gentiles” similarly shows that when the attendance is checked every elect Gentile will answer “Present.”

  For the meaning of “will be saved” see on 1:16, p. 60. For Jew and Gentile the way of salvation is the same. In fact, their paths run side by side. Opportunity to be saved will have ended for both when Christ returns. As indicated previously, the two—“the fulness of the Gentiles” and “All Israel”—constitute one organism, symbolized by a single olive tree. It should be clear that if, in the present connection, fulness must be interpreted in its unlimited sense, the same holds for all in “All Israel.”

  The words “And so” are explained by Paul himself. They indicate, “In such a marvelous manner,” a manner no one could have guessed. If God had not revealed this “mystery” to Paul, he would not have known it. It was, in fact, astonishing. The very rejection of the majority of Israelites, throughout history recurring again and again, was, is, and will be, a link in the effectuation of Israel’s salvation. For details, see above, p. 366, 367, 377, 378 (Rom. 11:11, 12, 25).

    Although, to be sure, this interpretation is not nearly as popular as is theory A, among its defenders are men of recognized scholarship (as holds also, of course, for theories A and B). Let me mention but a few.

  One of the propositions successfully defended by S. Volbeda, when he received his summa cum laude doctor of theology degree from the Free University of Amsterdam was: “The term ‘all Israel’ in Rom. 11:26a must be understood as indicating the collective elect out of Israel.”

  H. Bavinck, author of the four-volume work Gereformeerde Dogmatiek [Reformed Dogmatics], states, “ ‘All Israel’ in 11:26, is not the people of Israel, destined lo be converted collectively, neither is it the church consisting of united Jews and Gentiles; but it is the full number which during the course of the centuries is gathered out of Israel.” Cf. H. Hoeksema, God’s Eternal Good Pleasure, Grand Rapids, 1950, p. 465.

  And L. Berkhof states, “‘All Israel’ is to be understood as a designation not of the whole nation but of the whole number of the elect out of the ancient covenant people … and the adverb οὕτως cannot mean ‘after that,’ but only ‘in this manner.’ ”

  For a similar interpretation, see H. Ridderbos, op. cit., p. 263.

  Not only scholars of Reformed persuasion and Dutch nationality or lineage have adopted this interpretation, but so have many others, as is clear from a glance at Lenski’s commentary on Romans, pp. 714, 726, 727. See also O. Palmer Robertson, “Is There a Distinctive Future for Ethnic Israel in Romans II?,” in Perspectives on Evangelical Theology, Grand Rapids, 1979, pp. 81–94. These interpreters are convinced that this is the only interpretation that suits the text and context.” (4)

 A fourth theory: A partial preterist assessment of Romans 11:26:

 All Israel will be saved: Notes on Romans 11:26 by Gary DeMar:  “As with most theological positions, there are a variety of interpretations of this passage: (1) The salvation of every racial/ethnic Jew. This is an impossible interpretation. Why preach the gospel to the Jews if they’re all going to be saved?”[1] (2) the salvation of believers–racial and spiritual Jews–throughout history. This position changes the meaning of Israel, going from literal (Rom. 11:1) to spiritual (11:26). While it’s possible; it’s unlikely; (3) the salvation of a remnant of Jews at the end of history. This is the position of the Westminster Confession of Faith (Q. 191 LC). Two-thousand years have passed since Romans was written. The Jews have had plenty of time to be “jealous” (Rom. 11:11). The Jews in Paul’s day were jealous. That’s why Jews were persecuting the church; (4) salvation of those Jews who survive the Great Tribulation. This becomes a debate over when the GT took/takes place. A remnant of Jews was saved prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, therefore, the GT is a past event; (5) the remnant of Jews living during the period of covenant transition until the time Jerusalem was judged and the temple destroyed. This interpretation makes the most sense given the time indicators in the passage.

“I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin” (Rom. 11:1).1. Paul is describing the remnant in his day (11:5) in the same way that Elijah was describing the remnant in his own day (1 Kings 19:10).

·         The remnant is alive “at the present time” (11:5), that is, in Paul’s day. It’s this remnant that Paul hopes to save through the preaching of the gospel, many of whom have already been saved (cf. Acts 2:5–12, 37–41).

2. There is no mention of a future tribulation or an “after the rapture” period in Romans 9–11.

3. Paul wants to save “some” of his “fellow-countrymen” (11:14).

·         He is speaking of the present.

·         What help is Paul’s “ministry” (11:13) going to be more than 2000 years in the future?: “So these also now have been disobedient, in order that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy” (11:31).

4. Save them from what? Save them from the coming judgment upon Jerusalem that took place in A.D. 70.

Endnotes:[1] “Some see [‘all Israel’] in a diachronic sense, namely, that ‘all Israel’ refers to the nation as it has existed throughout history and that will have a share in the world to come (Sanhedrin 10:1) after the resurrection. Others take it in a synchronic sense where ‘all Israel’ refers to the nation only as it exists at a moment in history, particularly at the end of time as a part of the eschatological program. The second alternative is preferred. Moo states, ‘No occurrence of the phrase “all Israel” has a clearly diachronic meaning.’ Furthermore, the context speaks of Israel’s rejection of Messiah and her hardening, which was to continue until the time when the fullness of Gentiles should come in. Then, in sharp contrast, at a particular moment in history, ‘all Israel’ will experience salvation” (Harold W. Hoehner, “Israel in Romans 9–11,” Israel: The Land and the People–An Evangelical Affirmation of God’s Promises, ed. H. Wayne House [Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1998], 156).” (6)

 In closing:

 Romans 11:26 is a challenging passage to interpret. In the viewpoints surveyed, all have elements of truth. Thankfully, salvation does not hinge on a perfect interpretation of this passage.

 This writer agrees with the Cambridge commentary that:  “Of these various possibilities we prefer on the whole (A. c,) as the most in accord with the context, and with the analogy of Scripture. The explanation (B) is in itself entirely true: the final glory and triumph of the Gospel will surely be, not specially the salvation of the Jews, but that of the Universal Church—the immortal Bride of the King Eternal.”

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


 1.      The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, H. C. G. Moule, Romans, (Cambridge, England, Cambridge University Press, 1892), p. 199-200.

2.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Matthew, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 519-520.

3.      John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Romans, Volume XIX, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), pp. 437-439.

4.      Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary, Romans, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1982), pp. 379-382.

5.      Gary DeMar, American Vision, All Israel will be saved: Notes on Romans 11:26, (online, 2004)

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

THE DUAL STATUS OF ISRAEL IN ROMANS 11:28, 3 three views by Matt Waymeyer

 And so all Israel will be saved’: Competing Interpretations of Romans 11.26 in Pauline Scholarship by Christopher Zoccali

 Commentators on Romans 11:26, “All Israel will be Saved” Collected and analyzed by Eli Brayley

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What does the Bible say about education?

What does the Bible say about education?                                          By Jack Kettler

What does the Bible say regarding education? As much as it seems unthinkable, should Christians turn over their children to non-believers to be educated? In this study, both the Old and New Testaments will be surveyed to answer this question. Some noteworthy Christian thinkers will be quoted who have worked out the philosophy and theology of a distinctively Christian education.

Old Testament texts that mention education:

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” (Psalm 32:8)

“My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” (Proverbs 1:8)

“Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.” (Proverbs 4:13)

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (Isaiah 54:13)

New Testament Texts that mention education:

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“And, ye fathers provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Colossians 1:28)

“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17)


Some of the passages above do not specifically mention the Word of God, like “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

To believe that Proverbs 22:6 can be understood to be instruction minus the Word of God is preposterous. It is presupposed in Scripture, exhortations to learn, educate, and to seek knowledge and wisdom embraces the Word of God as the starting point and ends with man. Government education starts with an autonomous man and his wisdom as the starting point and ends with man’s opinions. Since both approaches have different starting points, both will end at different end places.  

The above is a shortlist of passages on the topic of education. It is incontrovertible that the Word of God is the fountainhead of righteous education. Furthermore, it is indisputable that not one example of Christians being encouraged or commanded to submit their children to non-Christians for education can be shown.           

Reasons for a distinctively Christian education:

1.      God commands it. See above (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

2.      God, in general, forbids socializing with the pagans. – “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV)

3.      It is profitable. See above (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

The wrong reasons for sending children to pagans to be educated:

1.      Socialization is important and supposedly missing from a Christian education.

2.      Who will evangelize the pagans in the government schools?   


The supposed lack of socialization in Christian education is an outright lie.


No doubt, there are cases where Christian students witness to others in pagan government schools. However, evangelism can be a two-way street. What about the recruitment techniques conducted by pagans in ongoing attempts to convert Christian students into paganism? The main thrust of Christian education is learning to think biblically and evaluating ethics, science, and history in terms of a Christian theistic worldview.


There is no such thing as neutrality. The next two points are reasons to protect Christian children from ungodly educational indoctrination.

1.      Creation is not taught in government schools. Christian children are subjected to ongoing Darwinian propaganda. This propaganda has been the ruin of many.

2.      The sex education in government schools in an abomination to God. Examples need not be given. It should go without saying, how could any parent allow their children to be subjected to this type of perverted indoctrination? In the past, Christian children could, with parental requests, have their children opt-out of the ungodly indoctrination.    

Observations and implications of non-Christian education by notable scholars:

A bio: Gordon Haddon Clark was an American philosopher and Calvinist theologian. He was a leading figure associated with presuppositional apologetics and was chair of the Philosophy Department at Butler University for 28 years. Wikipedia

Gordon H. Clark has this to say when summing up his chapter on neutrality:

“There is no neutrality.

Obviously, the schools are not Christian. Just as obviously, they are not neutral. The Scriptures say that the fear of the Lord is the chief part of knowledge; but the schools, by omitting all reference to God, give the pupils the notion that knowledge can be had apart from God. They teach in effect that God has no control of history, that there is no plan of events that God is working out, that God does not foreordain whatsoever comes to pass. Aside from definite anti-Christian instruction to be discussed later, the public schools are not, never were, can never be, neutral. Neutrality is impossible. Let one ask what neutrality can possibly mean when God is involved. How does God judge the school system, which says to him, “O God, we neither deny nor assert thy existence; and O God, we neither obey nor disobey thy commandments; we are strictly neutral.” Let no one fail to see the point: The school system that ignores God teaches its pupils to ignore God; and this is not neutrality. It is the worst form of antagonism, for it judges God to be unimportant and irrelevant in human affairs. This is atheism.” (1)

A bio: Rousas John Rushdoony was a Calvinist philosopher, historian, and theologian and is widely credited as being the father of Christian Reconstructionism and an inspiration for the modern Christian homeschool movement. Wikipedia   

Rushdoony’s book was on the Christian apologist Cornelius Van Til, was titled By What Standard deals with many ideas relevant to education:
“The Christian thinker, laboring as he often must on alien ground, has too often embraced as his own a non-Christian principle which he believed would be fruitful in terms of Christian thought. He has made bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh a principle which he has believed would bear fruit in a Christian world-view. This resultant hybrid world-view he believed would fall heir to this world’s substance and show mastery and dominion over the human mind. In this expectation, early Christian thinkers embraced Platonism; the scholastics, Aristotelianism; the men of the enlightenment era Cartesianism and rationalism, and men of the 19th and 20th centuries, Kantianism, existentialism, and other alien brides, hoping thereby that in the dark they held Rachel. But, ‘in the morning, behold, it was Leah’!” (2)

 In his book, The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum, Rushdoony analyzes both Greek and Roman education. He identified both as humanism and as statist:
“The statist purpose of humanistic education was even more clearly emphasized by the Romans. According to Grimal, “Roman morality has a very distinct aim — the subordination of the individual to the City.” Religion and piety had reference to the City, for the gods with the gods of the City, and religion, by binding man to the gods, bound them to the City of the gods. . . .

The liberal arts curriculum thus had a statist orientation. Man’s liberty, man’s salvation, was to be found in faithful subordination of himself and all his being to the City of Man. The chief end of man, a political and social animal, was to glorify the state and to serve and enjoy it all the days of his life.

It is not surprising therefore, that Christianity came into rapid conflict with Rome and the entire world. It was a battle between Christ and Caesar, between the City of God and the City of Man, for control of the world and of history. One hand, the emphasis was on the triune God and His eternal decree, and on the other hand the emphasis was on the primacy of time, on the civil order as the order of the incarnation and divinity, and on the temporal decree of the total state.” (3)

Rushdoony makes another astute observation that has implications for all of life and in particular, education:
“God is thus the principle of definition, of law, and of all things. He is the premise of all thinking, and the necessary presupposition for every sphere of thought. It is blasphemy therefore to attempt to “prove” God; God is the necessary presupposition of all proof. To ground any sphere of thought, life, or action, or any sphere of being, on anything other than the triune God is thus blasphemy. Education without God as its premise, law which does not presuppose God and rest on His law, a civil order which does not derive all authority from God, or a family whose foundation is not God’s word, is blasphemous.” (4)

 A bio: John Gresham Machen, (born July 28, 1881, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.—died January 1, 1937, Bismarck, North Dakota), American Presbyterian theologian and fundamentalist leader.

Born to a prominent family in Baltimore, Machen later studied at Johns Hopkins University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the universities at Marburg and Göttingen. In 1906, he joined the faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary. He criticized liberal Protestantism as unbiblical and unhistorical in his Christianity and Liberalism (1923) and struggled to preserve the conservative character of the Princeton Theological Seminary. He left Princeton in 1929 after the school was reorganized and adopted a more accepting attitude toward liberal Protestantism, and he helped found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1914, Machen was suspended from the ministry by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., for his opposition to modern liberal revision of the 17th-century English Presbyterian creed, the Westminster Confession. Following his suspension from the ministry, he helped found the Presbyterian Church in America, which became the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1939. Machen was a major theological voice in support of conservative Christianity. Encyclopedia Britannica

 Machen had this to say about public education in 1923:  “A public-school system, if it means the providing of free education for those who desire it, is a noteworthy and beneficent achievement of modern times; but when once it becomes monopolistic it is the most perfect instrument for tyranny which has yet been devised. Freedom of thought in the Middle Ages was combated by the Inquisition, but the modern method is far more effective.” (5)

 Another incisive observation from Pretoria, South Africa:  “What is more, the Old and New Testaments are not only the basis and pattern for Christian education; they also constitute its content. Christian education is through and through about these two Testaments, otherwise it ceases to be Christian education, unless it has been used to mean the approach in all teaching, and not the content. It is for this reason that Paul the apostle reminded Timothy, “All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for  teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16, 17). It is against this background that the history of Christian (Religious) education is traced from the Old and New Testaments.” (6)

 Christian education is in direct conflict humanistic or statist ungodly education. Christian education requires a sacrifice financially; nevertheless, Christian education is the standard and the fountainhead of all knowledge. This view can be called “Scripturalism.”  

 Scripturalism, the following is a paraphrase of Gordon H. Clark on the Christian starting principle:  “Scripturalism (all knowledge must be contained within a system and deduced from its starting principles, in the Christian case, the Bible).”

 From the principle of Scripturalism, the implications of knowledge are stated. The Bible contains the Christian’s starting principles or presuppositions. Therefore, it can be said that God speaks to us in the Scriptures with human language utilizing logically structured sentences in which He tells us the difference between right and wrong. The Christian worldview has the necessary preconditions to talk intelligently and give justification for the use of logic, science, and morality. In ungodly education, nothing can be defined as right or wrong since there is no fixed law system.  

 The mixing or synthesizing a God-centered and man as the ultimate determiner of interpretation-centered education is the destruction of knowledge. How exactly? The following quotes from Cornelius Van Til explain:
“How shortsighted and how uncultured, then, are the efforts of believers in Christ when they seek for snatches of worldly culture for themselves by placing themselves, as they think, on common ground with those who are not believers in Christ. How dishonoring to their Christ if they allow that any culture endures unless it be because of the power of his resurrection in the world. If you have been taken out of the miry clay, do you jump back into it because of some glistening objects that you see in it? Do you run back into the house now almost burned to the ground in order to save your silverware? It is only those who are believers in Christ that will inherit the earth and all the fulness thereof.” (7)

“Non-Christian education is Godless education . . . Godless or nontheistic education is therefore also non- or anti-Christian education. Godless, non-Christian education naturally becomes humanistic, i.e., man-centered. If man does not need to live for God, he may live for himself. If then we want a God-centered and truly Christian education, we will have to break away completely from the educational philosophy that surrounds us.” (8)

 In closing, the Bible, the fountainhead of all education and knowledge:

“The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.”  – Immanuel Kant

“The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the holy scriptures…[and] are found upon comparison to be part of the original law of nature. Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these.” – Sir William Blackstone

“The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed.” – Patrick Henry

“Should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a schoolbook? Its morals are pure; its examples are captivating and noble. In no Book is there so good English, so pure and so elegant, and by teaching all the same they will speak alike, and the Bible will justly remain the standard of language as well as of faith.” – Fisher Ames

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” – James Madison

“By removing the Bible from schools we would be wasting so much time and money in punishing criminals and so little pains to prevent crime. Take the Bible out of our schools and there would be an explosion in crime.” – Benjamin Rush

“If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instruction and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.” – Daniel Webster

“Education is useless without the Bible,” “The Bible was America’s basic textbook in all fields,” “God’s Word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.” – Noah Webster

“It is impossible to enslave, mentally or socially, a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom.” – Horace Greeley

“The Bible is the only force known to history that has freed entire nations from corruption while simultaneously giving them political freedom.” – Vishal Mangalwadi

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


 1.      Gordon H. Clark, A Christian Philosophy of Education, (Jefferson, Maryland, Trinity Foundation), p. 60.

2.      R. J. Rushdoony, By What Standard? (Tyler, Texas, Thobern Press, reprinted 1983), p. 1-2.

3.      R. J. Rushdoony, The Philosophy Of The Christian Curriculum (Vallecito, CA, Ross House Book, 1981), p. 5-6.

4.      R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law Vol. 1 (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian and Reformed, 1984), p. 127.

5.      John Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans Publishing), p. 14.

6.      THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION The University of Pretoria, Chapter 5, page 2.

7.      Cornelius Van Til, Essays on Christian Education, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1979), p. 8.

8.      Louis Berkhof, Cornelius Van Til, Foundations of Christian Education, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, reprinted 1990), p. 3.

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

 For more study:

 Education and Upbringing in the Old Testament – by H. J. SCHILDER


 A Christian Philosophy Of Education by Gordon H. Clark

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