Dependence on the System
Abstract of a Sermon Preached on Ocober 22, 2000
by Glenn Conjurske
The mystery of iniquity has been at work for many centuries, slowly and
surely, but modern travel and discovery, modern invention and technology,
have given to it a momentum which it never possessed in all the preceding
millenniums. We need only take an occasional glance about us to see that
the devil has brought his program, in our day, very near its ultimate
success. That success will consist of one world religion and one world
government, under the direct and acknowledged control of the devil himself.
We read in Revelation 13:1-4, And I stood upon the sand of the sea,
and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns,
and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as
the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon
gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. ... And all the
world wondered after the beast, and they worshipped the dragon which gave
power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like
unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And in the seventh
verse, And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and
to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues,
and nations. This is the end toward which the devil works, and the
means by which he will bring it to its ultimate success is found in verses
16-17. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor,
free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads,
and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name
of the beast, or the number of his name.
Now it is perfectly plain to us, who live in the present age, how easily
such a tactic will gain its end. Men cannot live without buying and selling.
But then it is equally plain that never before in the history of the world
has this been true. Men could live without buying and selling a century
ago, two centuries ago, a millennium ago, and in every other era since
the beginning of the world. The present state of things, in which men
must buy and sell to live, has been brought about gradually over the centuries,
by the working of the mystery of iniquity, under the direction
of Satan. The devil's end is that all the world should openly worship
him. The means by which he sets the stage for this is the mystery
of iniquity, working gradually behind the scenes, always with the
same end in view, and always, of course, professing to be something other
than what it is. More on that anon.
Understand, for the devil to be able to successfully gain the avowed allegiance
of the whole world, by forbidding them to buy or sell except on that condition,
he must first bring about a state of society in which it is necessary
for men to buy and sell
----a state of society in which they cannot
live without buying and selling. The success of his final stroke is absolutely
dependent on this, and to bring this about he has been at work, behind
the scenes, for many centuries. We have remarked often before that the
devil had almost attained his ends at the tower of Babel, when all the
world was of one speech, and all united together in a common humanitarian
and anti-God enterprise. But God stepped in and confounded their tongues,
and scattered them to the ends of the earth, and the devil's program was
set back five thousand years. It was not possible for the thirteenth chapter
of Revelation to be fulfilled when the Europeans did not know that the
Australians or the inhabitants of the Americas existed. The devil must
bring the world together, by means of discovery and invention and travel
and communication. All this proceeded slowly for centuries, but gained
increasing momentum with each new advance in technology, till in the twentieth
century, by means of rapid travel and electronic communications, the devil
had reduced the world back down to size, and made it manageable for his
But something more than this was wanted. He must also see the whole world
dependent upon commerce in order to live. If the antichrist had come upon
the scene a century and a half ago, and demanded that men worship him
or forfeit their right to buy and sell, the world could have snubbed him.
Men did not need to buy or sell. The mystery of iniquity was making slow
but sure progress even in that day. The steamships plied the seas, the
iron horses thundered over the rails, the telegraph wires were humming,
and international commerce and global consciousness were fast increasing.
The world was shrinking in size, and at the same time becoming more and
more of a controlling power in the lives of the people.
Yet they could live without it. Read the autobiography of Peter Cartwright.
He says, We killed our meat out of the woods, wild; and beat our
meal and hominy with a pestle and mortar. We stretched a deer-skin over
a hoop, burned holes in it with the prongs of a fork, sifted our meal,
baked our bread, eat it, and it was first-rate eating too. We raised,
or gathered out of the woods, our own tea. We had sage, bohea, cross-vine,
spice, and sassafras teas, in abundance. As for coffee, I am not sure
that I ever smelled it for ten years. We made our sugar out of the water
of the maple-tree, and our molasses too. These were great luxuries in
We raised our own cotton and flax. We water-rotted our flax, broke
it by hand, scutched it; picked the seed out of the cotton with our fingers;
our mothers and sisters carded, spun, and wove it into cloth, and they
cut and made our garments and bed-clothes, etc. ...
Let it be remembered, these were days when we had no stores of dry
goods or groceries.
They needed no stores. They were self-sufficient. And this vast land was
filled with families as independent as Peter Cartwright's. They could
have scorned the devil's advances. They had no need to buy or sell.
The same has been true with many in more recent times also. When I was
preaching in Colorado in 1968, I had a salary of zero dollars per year,
faithfully paid by the church, yet I could not live on zero dollars a
year, for I had need to buy, if not to sell. I went out to a ranch, therefore,
and spent a couple of days throwing bales of hay, in order to make a twenty-dollar
bill. I learned that the original owners of that ranch, who had homesteaded
there, went to Grand Junction, a trip of about seventy-five miles, once
a year, and in that yearly trip they did all their buying and selling
for the year. They doubtless could have lived well enough without buying
or selling at all. Whatever was strictly necessary they could raise themselves,
or make themselves. This was less than a century ago.
But the twentieth century has changed all that. Those days are gone for
ever. The civilized world can no longer live without buying and selling.
The devil has secured this, by making all of us, saints and sinners alike,
dependent upon the system. This he has brought about by technology and
invention, and all the world has viewed it with great favor, for the devil
is wise enough to lead the doomed ox to the slaughter by means of a little
corn or hay. The sweat of our brows is unpopular. We must have tractors
and machines and power tools and appliances, and for these the whole world
has surrendered its independence, and surrendered it in fact to the powers
of darkness. Every step in the clandestine working of the mystery of iniquity
is called by the name of progress, and the world delights in all of it.
It gives us ease, and luxury, and leisure
----it gives us freedom,
and pleasure, and wings ----while it makes us ever more and more
dependent upon the system, and brings us nearer and nearer to the final
triumph of the devil's program.
And mark it well, the system upon which we are dependent is the devil's
system. It is the world. The world is a system, a vast and all-embracing
organization. The Greek word for world means system,
or organization, and it is of course the devil's system. He
is the god of it. He is the ruler of it. His is the mind that conceived
it, his are the purposes for its existence, and his is the working which
has developed it. All its progress is progress away from God.
It is the progress of the prodigal, in his route to the far country. It
is the progress of the mystery of iniquity. And it is perfectly plain
to me that any man who has a grain or two of discernment must abhor what
the world calls progress. If you love progress,
you love the world.
Those who know anything of the present state of society, and of the purpose
and program of the devil, as it is delineated in the Bible, must plainly
see that his purpose now goes forward at break-neck speed, and that precious
little is wanting for its ultimate triumph. It is modern technology which
has given the present momentum to the devil's program, in numerous and
various ways, but in nothing more conspicuously than in reducing the whole
civilized world to dependence upon the system.
But I must descend to particulars. The most pervasive element in the dependence
of modern man upon the system is the use of electricity. Electricity plays
a part in almost everything which is done today. I am entirely dependent
upon electricity to produce this magazine. Most of the buying and selling
in the world is done by electronic means. Scales and cash registers are
all run by electricity. The large department stores can't even open and
close the doors without electricity, or light their windowless buildings.
All our lighting is electric. Our refrigerators and freezers are all electric.
Most people cannot heat their homes or cook their food without electricity.
They may heat with gas or oil, but the stove will not run without electricity.
Most of the world wouldn't know how to make a slice of toast without electricity.
Those who do know how do not choose to do so. It is not so easy or convenient
as an electric toaster.
The water supply of everybody, in city and country, is dependent upon
electric pumps. If our electricity were suddenly and permanently cut off,
we would all be without water. Those who have their own wells could remove
their electric pumps and put a hand pump in the yard, but they will not
do so while the electricity flows, and could not do so if it ceased, for
there are not enough hand pumps in existence to supply one percent of
the population. We are all dependent upon electricity for the necessities
of life. And all this electricity must be bought. We do not produce our
own. You can go to your local library and find books on wind generators,
or water power, but for the most part nobody uses it. It is too much work,
too much trouble. We are all accustomed to ease, we all love ease, and
for that ease we have sacrificed our independence. Though it is theoretically
possible to maintain a large degree of independence while we depend upon
electrical power, hardly one in a million of us will do so. It is a plain
matter of fact that the dependence of modern man upon electricity makes
him almost entirely dependent on the system.
Another of the most pervasive elements of this dependence is reliance
upon oil. The whole civilized world is addicted to running to and fro
on the earth, and all this running is done by means of oil. Stop up the
supply of oil and gasoline, and the world would be at an immediate stand-still.
We have nothing to fall back on. We do not keep horses and buggies, and
if we did, they could not replace the automobile. Business and commerce
require us to travel too fast and too far to think of doing it with a
horse, or a bicycle. Nothing will do but the self-propelled vehicle, and
they all run by gasoline. We realize that it is possible to use other
fuels, but as things now stand the whole world is dependent upon oil.
And if the world's supply of oil runs out before the antichrist comes,
and some other fuel is used, the whole world will then be dependent upon
that, whatever it is.
And not for travel only, but also for heating and cooking. This is done
in most cases by oil or gas, or by electricity produced by burning oil
or gas. Meanwhile we may drive down any country highway, or walk in the
national, state, or county forests, and see literally tons of good fire
wood going to waste everywhere, lying on the ground rotting, and nobody
cares anything about it. A saw mill a mile from my house throws away tons
of good fire wood every week
----piles it up and sets in on fire.
People don't want it. It is too much work to heat with wood. It is too
inconvenient. We cannot pipe the wood into the house, set the thermostat,
and let the stove run automatically, as we can with gas.
And this brings me to another matter. The more we contemplate all the
component parts of this vast system, the more it appears that they all
conspire together to set forward the devil's program. Wood stoves require
people to stay at home. We cannot set the thermostat, and leave the house
for a week, while we run around the country. There must be somebody at
home to tend the fire
----at least if we have indoor plumbing. The
modern passion to run to and fro on the earth, created by the existence
of the automobile, has made electric heat, or electrically controlled
heat, a simple necessity. Thus the love of ease and luxury pulls together
with the love of running to and fro, and secures and cements the dependence
of the whole populace upon the system. Modern man is addicted to ease
and luxury, and for these he has sacrificed his independence. You understand,
the world was not converted from wood to gas by compulsion, or by an act
of the legislature. Every individual changed by his own choice, and it
is certain that the reason for that choice in almost all cases was the
love of ease and luxury. For that ease and that luxury the whole world,
one man at a time, has bartered its independence. Some years ago I talked
with a man now deceased, who worked for a girls' camp in 1953, when they
took out all the wood cook stoves, and replaced them with gas. Could they
sell the wood stoves? No, they couldn't give them away. They broke them
up with sledge hammers, and took them to the dump, a whole truck-load
of them. Modern man was cooking with gas ----an expression
which has become proverbial for living in ease and convenience ----and
what would he want with a wood stove?
Liberals and environmentalists have little use for wood stoves.
They would like first to regulate them, and then to eliminate them
make us all dependent upon oil. And all the lovers of ease and luxury ----though
to me there is no luxury equal to a wood stove ----play into their
hands. Ungodly men who love their independence, and resent government
control, like to sport some coarse wit on a bumper sticker which says,
My wife yes, my dog maybe, my gun never, but if they understood
the issues a little better, they would sing another tune, and say, My
gun perhaps, my wood stove never.
But this leads me to another facet of our dependence on the system. A
wood stove would be of little use to most of the race today, for where
will they get the wood? They must buy that also. A poor man here and there,
like myself, can usually get fire wood free, if he is willing to work
a little to get it, but if everybody wanted it the supply would soon be
gone. Very few of us own enough land to produce our own fire wood. One
of the most pernicious effects of modern technology and industry is what
is called urbanization. The farms are forsaken, and the people have moved
by the droves to the cities. Some still live in the country, of course,
but most of them do not farm. They live in the country and work in the
cities. I can drive a short distance south on the highway which runs by
my house, and see twenty-five or thirty abandoned farms
house inhabited, but the land lying fallow, the barn going to ruin, or
already collapsed, maybe a horse or two occupying the pasture ground,
but no farming. Those who live on these farms have automobiles, and work
in the cities. The land they use for recreation. Most of the farms nearer
the cities have been converted to shopping malls or apartment complexes.
The family farm has almost ceased to exist. They have gone out of business
by the thousands. This is due very largely to oppressive government regulation,
but also to the fact that men can make more money for less labor by working
in the cities. In short, they can make better money producing luxuries
than they can raising food.
Now the inevitable result of this widespread forsaking of the family farm
has been to put the production of the world's food supply into the hands
of fewer and fewer people. I just heard of the death of a dairy farmer
in this state. He was 52 years old, and was milking 3000 cows, though
he had started with seventeen when he was young. My grandfather milked
about twenty. Here then is one man producing the milk which was produced
by 150 farmers a generation ago. And this is the trend everywhere. Very
few produce even a small portion of their own food today. The result of
this is that most of us must buy to eat, and so buy to live. The vast
majority of the race have simply bartered their independence for ease
and wealth, by forsaking the farms, and seeking easier and more lucrative
employment in the cities, and the whole world is now dependent upon a
very small segment of the population, which produces all the food.
The devil is no fool, you know, and he knows how to bait the hook. He
knows how to lure men to those steps which will advance his own program.
His working very much resembles that of a certain panderer of which I
once read. He courted a pretty girl, seduced her from morality of course,
and then lavished money upon her till she was addicted to a life of luxury,
and ensnared with commitments, neither of which she could afford. He then
cut off her supplies. When she asked for money, he told her he had none,
but he knew where she could get some
----and took her to a house
of prostitution. The devil operates in the same way. He has the race so
addicted to luxury and ease that they will not live on the farms, and
cannot live without electricity and gas and oil. All this brings them
into dependence upon his system, and ultimately upon himself. One of the
first effects of the travel and exploration of the civilized races was
to make the savages in the woods and jungles dependent upon the system.
And the same lure was effectual with them as had been so with the civilized
races. They wanted ease and luxury. They wanted factory-made fish hooks
and knives, they wanted soft clothing and blankets, and for these luxuries
they bartered their independence. For these luxuries the South Sea islanders
made their coconut oil and gathered their spice wood. For these the American
Indians gathered their furs, for these the Africans their ivory. The natives
had lived without any factory-made goods for centuries, but as soon as
these luxuries became known they became necessary. This process has gone
forward in a thousand facets the whole world over, so that now the world
is addicted to luxury, and can no more tell the difference between luxury
and necessity. Aerosol cans have become a necessity in the eyes of the
people, though their grandparents never heard of most of the stuff that
comes in them. In a hundred spheres the luxurious has come to stand in
the place of the necessary, and men do not choose to reverse that process.
Nor could they if they would, for though it was the love of luxury and
convenience which brought them into dependence at the first, the devil
has secured the matter beyond that, so that men are now dependent upon
the system for the very necessities of life.
That dependence has grown to such proportions as to become almost absolute
among ourselves, and particularly in everything which concerns buying
and selling. We can no longer survive by means of trade and commerce with
individuals like ourselves. We cannot live by doing business with our
friends and neighbors. The village blacksmith, tailor, miller, turner,
weaver, cartwright, wheelwright, waynewright, cooper, and cobbler have
all ceased to exist, being all replaced with the factories in the distant
cities. The factories and chain stores have put almost all the individual
craftsmen out of business. Nobody can compete with a factory. While a
man makes one item by hand, the factory makes a hundred or a thousand
by machines and mass production, and who will pay a hundred times the
price for what the individual can make? Almost everything we use is made
by machines, and sold in the sprawling chain stores. It is useless to
think of trading with a few neighbors. We must go to the system for everything.
Modern industry has put all the craftsmen out of business, and whatever
is left in the world of home-made goods consists almost entirely of machine-made
materials processed and assembled at home, and this by means of factory-made
tools and machines, so that all of us are dependent upon the system for
But more. Not only is the individual craftsman unable to compete with
the factories, but most of us have ceased to know how to make anything.
When I was in the fourth grade our teacher read us a story. I remember
absolutely nothing of the plot or incidents or characters in it, except
one thing. The grandmother sent her granddaughter out to the yard to see
what time it was. The girl (being used to a clock) returned saying she
could not read the sun dial, and her grandmother remarked that Every
time one of these new inventions comes in the door, half our wits fly
out the window. This is true, though half is of course
to be understood as it is commonly used in forceful speech, and not to
be taken technically. The great profusion of modern inventions has left
the whole race witless, and modern witlessness has made the whole race
dependent upon the system. Very few among us could make a pair of shoes,
a quart of paint, a bar of soap, a pair of pliers, or a bucket or kettle
or screw or nail, and if we could, we would be almost entirely dependent
upon the system for the materials from which to make them. Many among
us could not make a loaf of bread, for the modern grocery store has made
the women nearly as witless as the factories have made the men. We must
go to the system for all.
More still. Since almost all the individual craftsmen have been put out
of business, and everything is made by machines in the factories, almost
nothing is produced locally. If I were shut up to what is manufactured
locally, I would be reduced to paper, popsicle sticks, and drill bits.
Lumber is still available from local saw mills, but I do not suppose there
is enough food raised here to feed a hundredth part of the population.
If one city makes paper, we must go to another, across the country, for
a pen or pencil with which to write on it. If one city makes shoes, we
must go to another for shirts. If one produces plates and cups, we must
go to another for forks and spoons. For almost everything which we use
and eat, therefore, we must go to the sprawling department stores and
supermarkets, and almost everything which they sell is shipped to them
from all the ends of the earth, and we are all dependent upon oil for
Thus do all things conspire together in modern industry and commerce to
reduce us all to a thorough dependence upon the system, and the system
itself to a thorough dependence upon oil and electricity.
And as if that dependence were not secure enough, the liberal environmentalists
want also to eliminate all the hydro-electric dams in the country. There
is no sense in this. The rivers never cease to flow, being always replenished
by evaporation and rain, and men may build numerous hydro-electric plants
on a single river. Here is free power, in inexhaustible abundance, as
faithful as the law of gravity, never on and off as the wind is, never
obscured by clouds and night as the sunshine is, and the use of it does
not diminish it. If its power is tapped at one point, or a dozen, still
the river flows on, with as much strength as before. And yet liberal politicians
want to eliminate the use of it. Why? Because they are led on by Satan,
who knows very well what he is about. It is not enough merely to have
us all dependent upon electricity. He wants a global dependence, for reliance
upon the river which runs through our own county will not secure all his
Observe too that we are dependent upon the system not only for the gas
and electricity to operate our luxuries, but also for the parts and the
knowledge to maintain them. And this becomes increasingly so as these
luxuries become more and more sophisticated, by the use of electronic
and computer technology. I can patch a muffler or tail pipe
often done so ----but not a computer. I know good automobile mechanics,
who have been in the business all their lives, who cannot work on the
There are many lesser matters in which men are generally dependent upon
the system. One of these is for medical treatment. The family doctor has
fared worse than the family farm. There is no family doctor in this town,
and I would guess very few of them in the state. For any kind of medical
treatment at all we must go to the large clinics or hospitals. These are
tightly controlled by the government, and too expensive for anybody but
----or the insurance companies, so that most people are
dependent upon the insurance companies also. Modern witlessness adds to
the dependence, for most of us know nothing of the home remedies which
our grandparents used. We must now run to the clinic, and pay out five
hundred or a thousand dollars, for what our forefathers would have treated
effectually by drinking water or vinegar. We run to the hospital for a
$5000 operation for what could be cured, and cured better, with chamomile
tea. The scare tactics commonly used by the modern medical profession
serve also to increase the dependence of any who believe in them. My second
child was born in the hospital, and we wanted to go home after the birth,
but the doctor refused to give his permission, telling us what dire things
would likely happen. We lived a mere six blocks from the hospital, but
he assured us my wife could bleed to death in six blocks. We went home
over his objections, and without his permission, though he was very irate
that we would not bow before his tactics of intimidation. Meanwhile, those
who trust in the modern medical system are reduced to dependence upon
it ----even to bondage to it.
The educational system also controls men. If you go to apply for a job,
they do not ask if you are competent to do the work, but if you are a
high school or college graduate. You must have such and such degrees to
practice (or mis-practice) law or medicine, or to be a police or fire
Most of us are dependent upon the telephone to do our business, and the
world wide web is catching many more, and laying them in the clutches
of the old Spider whose web it is.
Now the result of all this universal dependence upon the system is that
the devil now, for the first time in history, has society in a position
where he can bring about the culmination of his program. The thirteenth
chapter of Revelation can be fulfilled in our day, though we dare say
it never could have been in any other era since it was written. This is
progress, no doubt. With what delight did the world hail the
trans-Atlantic cable, and the transcontinental railroad, but none rejoiced
more than the devil when the golden spike was driven.
There still remain some hardy souls who would like to maintain their independence
of the system, though we think there is a good deal more talk of it than
serious intent. The human race is too soft and effeminate to seriously
desire it. But these folks will say, We can be independent. We can buy
forty acres in the country, and raise our own meat and grain and potatoes,
milk our own cows, gather our own eggs, cut our own fire wood, and make
our clothes of deer skins. We won't drive a car. We won't use electricity.
We will be self-sufficient, having no need to buy or sell, and no need
And how long will this pleasant dream endure? Just until the property
taxes come due, and then the government will confiscate your land and
auction it off. The fact is, we cannot live without money. We cannot live
without buying and selling. We are, all of us, so dependent upon the system
that we cannot live without it. Those who dream of weathering out the
reign of antichrist, by stock-piling food and arms and ammunition, had
better put their energies to work elsewhere. Do they think to fight off
the armies of the world with their little stock of weapons? Do they think
to escape the notice of the government, when they fail to pay their property
What then should we do? The plain fact is, in general, there is nothing
we can do. The mystery of iniquity has wrought so effectually that it
has the whole world dependent upon the system, and ready for the final
stroke. Most of those who have already little by little bartered one liberty
after another for security and ease and affluence and pleasure, will submit
to the last stroke as tamely as they have to the others. All the world
will worship the beast, and the few nonconformists who refuse to do so
will be hunted to the death. But I believe the church of God will be caught
up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, before that final stroke
falls. Whatever saints are on the earth at the time will be persecuted
to the death. Our text says of the antichirst, And it was given
unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them
certainly, to break down their resistance to his claims and bring them
to submission, but to put them to death for refusing. I don't expect to
be here then. I expect the rapture of the church before that day. Meanwhile,
I don't believe it profitable to spend our energies boycotting the system.
Until the final stroke falls, we can use that system for our necessities.
But we ought by all means to recognize it for what it is. It is nothing
other than the mystery of iniquity. We ought to be thoroughly divorced
from it in heart. If we love the system, we love the world, for it is
the world. We ought to use it as Jael used the hammer and nail. These
were unnatural instruments in a woman's hands, and used for a purpose
certainly uncongenial to a woman's heart. She took them up for the necessity
then present, and then no doubt gladly laid them down again.
And yet we have great need to be careful in the use of the world, and
to walk circumspectly. I suppose that when the antichrist imposes his
final test upon the human race, requiring all men to receive the mark
of the beast, he will be dealing with a prepared people, who have already
compromised in numerous smaller matters. The world is already thoroughly
accustomed to yielding tamely to the unreasonable demands of tyrannical
governments, and nowhere more so than in the United States of America.
If all the petty and oppressive regulations which now dominate the lives
of all of us had been enacted at once, a century and a half ago, there
would have been a bloody revolution on the spot. Imagine Peter Cartwright
being forced to wear a seat belt or hard hat, Davy Crockett paying $160
for a permit to build a privy, or Daniel Boone buying a license to shoot
a bear, or getting a permit to burn a brush pile. This was a free country,
but little by little tame conformity has been secured, and those who would
have fought to the death, had the government proposed to chop off both
their arms, have allowed the same operation to be performed a millimeter
at a time, and by the time the shoulders were reached, even the protests
had ceased. We may yet cut down a tree or plant a garden without a permit,
but that may change also. There is tremendous legal and social pressure
upon everybody to conform to the system, and I suppose that pressure will
become greater as the end approaches. I contend that we have liberty to
use the system for our necessities, but we have no liberty to compromise.
As the devil tightens his strangle-hold upon the world, we shall no doubt
be more and more pressured to compromise, first to maintain our luxuries,
and then to secure the necessities of life. At the present time we are
generally only enticed to conform, or to compromise, for the sake of monetary
advantage, but we shall no doubt see more and more of compulsion. Even
now it appears here and there. The Bible plainly teaches us whither all
this is tending, and we ought to be on our guard.
Dave Hunt on Discipleship & Salvation
[We do not infer from the following statement (The Berean Call, November,
2000) that Mr. Hunt exactly agrees with ourselves, yet he explicitly contrasts
the common doctrine of the church today with that of the Bible, and avows
that we need to return to the latter
himself in that we. ----editor.]
I was raised in a very devout family and a sound fellowship of believers.
Yet discipleship was not considered to be for everyone; it was only for
the more spiritual who aspired to a deeper commitment. Biblically, however,
if one is not a disciple, one is not a Christian: 'the disciples were
called Christians first in Antioch' (Acts 11:26). We need to return to
this biblical identification and its reality.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --
n Book Review n
by Glenn Conjurske
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Help! for the Struggling Marriage, by Reb Bradley
Family Ministries, Fair Oaks, California
This book is advertised as a rough manuscript,
and consists of 26 letter-sized sheets. The cover of the paper does not
lead us to expect Bible Christianity inside, for it displays a picture
of a wilted and disheartened man and a high-spirited woman, she standing
aloof from him, and dressed in a shamefully immodest evening gown. Nor
can this picture lead us to expect any understanding of marriage in the
book, for one glance at it must lead us to conclude that the couple thus
portrayed could not be married. A woman in a struggling marriage,
determined to resist her husband's advances, is not likely to dress in
The reading of the book quickly conducts us to the conclusion that it
would not exist but for the modern epidemic of amateurism.
The author knows little enough of proper English
for example, uses sight for cite ----and
knows nothing of the dignity, sobriety, or refinement of literary English.
But what is worse, he knows very little of the theme on which he undertakes
to teach others. His doctrines of love and marriage are among the most
blatant examples of hyperspirituality which I have seen anywhere, and
this is my primary business with the book. These hyperspiritual notions
concerning love, courtship, and marriage have swept over the church like
a flood. They are strongly entrenched, in one form or another, among many
conservative Christians, from conservative Mennonites to independent Baptists,
and now here in Mr. Bradley, who is evidently neither of the above. I
believe these notions are popular primarily as a reaction against certain
carnal views of love which are common in the world, but it is no remedy
to get out of one ditch, only to get into another. These hyperspiritual
notions are generally destructive of earthly happiness, and damaging to
our spiritual and eternal interests also. I therefore take the present
opportunity once more to raise my voice against them.
The book begins with a strong stand against divorce, based upon the Bible
and various studies and statistics concerning the evils of divorce. This
is all well as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough, and really
puts the whole matter on the wrong ground. Instead of insisting that we
keep our vows, though we may have sworn to our own hurt, he labors rather
to reconcile us to a bad marriage, by denying that marriage is intended
to be anything better. God never intended that marriage should be good,
in the sense that the whole human race expects it should be. Under the
heading God's primary purpose for marriage versus our purpose,
we are told (pg. 7), Most of us tend to marry with very romanticized
ideas of what marriage is going to be. With great excitement we anticipate
the relationship that will finally meet our romantic and emotional needs.
God's primary intention for marriage however, is not what most of us imagine
it to be. He has not designed marriage as a place where we can finally
try to get our needs met. He has created it as something much better
far more grand than that. God intends to use marriage to accomplish a
very important goal ----one that is His primary goal for all Christians.
God's primary purpose for marriage is to use it to help shape us into
the image of His Son.
Again (pg. 8), The challenges offered in marriage He capitalizes
on to help shape and mold us into the image of Jesus. To evaluate our
personal success in a marriage we must not then look to see if our needs
are being met, but must ask ourselves, 'Am I demonstrating the image and
character of Jesus Christ?' We determine our success by how much we are
becoming like Christ
----loving and honoring our spouse according
to the specific roles God has laid out for us in the Scriptures. Far wiser
than us (sic), God knows that as we grow into the image of Jesus our greatest
needs are met.
We wonder if Mr. Bradley would apply the same test to a man's business.
Would he call the business successful if it failed to meet the man's needs
to pay his rent or buy his groceries ----yet served by these hardships
to conform him to the image of Christ? On this plan the best success in
every field must be the most thorough failure. This is double-talk. Let
us rather say the man's business was a failure, but the failure was good
for him. In the language of Scripture, It is good for me that I
have been afflicted. A bad marriage may be good for a man also,
yet we find it very hard to believe that on the whole a bad marriage could
possibly be as good for him as a good one ----much less is it something
much better or something far more grand. Marriage
makes or mars a man, but it is not bad marriages which make men.
Some men will excel in spite of a bad marriage, but the fact will remain
that their marriage will be a clog and a hindrance at every step, and
stand in the way of their being what they might have been otherwise. An
ill match, by the endless and hopeless frustration of the most persistent
needs of a man's nature, serves only to augment and intensify all the
burnings which he had supposed it would allay and satisfy, standing always
in the way of his rest and contentment, discouraging his heart and weakening
his hands whichever way he turns. He that marries ere he be wise,
will die ere he thrive, for An ill marriage is a spring of
ill fortune. These proverbs speak true. The marriage colors and
sets the tone of everything in life, and if the marriage is bad, it is
hard for anything else to be good. God knows how to bring good out of
evil, but we are unable to believe that an ill match and an uncongenial
marriage are likely to be productive of more good than marital bliss.
Mr. Bradley's own language indicates that we have needs
which perforce must needs be met, though he denies that marriage
is intended to meet them. But whence come those needs? From God or the
devil? The plain fact is, those needs belong to our nature,
as created by God. Adam had them in the garden, ere he was tainted by
the first breath of sin. It was not good that he should be alone. God
saw this, and said, I will make him an help, meet for him ----suited
to him, suited to satisfy those needs. It was to meet those needs that
Eve was created ----and not to cook or do the laundry, for we do
not suppose they boiled their strawberries, and they wore no clothes.
Eve existed to meet the romantic needs of Adam. If God did not intend
this, then Eve was the first mistake ever made by the Almighty, and a
right glorious mistake she was. So are her daughters. When a complex key
perfectly fits a complex lock, we conclude the two were intended for each
other. If the woman perfectly meets the emotional and physical needs of
the man, we conclude that she was made to do so. Alas, hyperspirituality
delights to deny the obvious. We are compelled to attribute this to pride.
The woman was made for the man, says Paul, and we might know
this if Paul had never existed. Nor was she made to conform him to the
image of Christ, by being a thorn in his side. Adam was no sinner, and
had no need of this. She was made to satisfy the needs of his masculine
nature. This was the purpose of marriage from the beginning, and where
has God ever altered that purpose?
If these hyperspiritual principles, so commonly applied to love and marriage,
are true, then they ought to be applied in all other spheres as well.
Let us now say, We must judge the success or failure of our personal
eating habits not by whether we are healthy or unhealthy
alive or dead ----but by whether we are being conformed to the image
of Christ. Far wiser than we, God knows that our greatest need is met
if we are conformed to the image of Christ, though we die of malnutrition,
or starvation. God's primary purpose in our eating is not our life or
health. He never meant that our food should meet our nutritional needs,
but that our sufferings for the lack of it should conform us to the image
of Christ. If this is foolish, it is not one whit more so than Mr.
Bradley's assertions concerning love and marriage. If God's primary purpose
for us is to conform us to the image of his Son, it does not follow that
this is his primary purpose in marriage, any more than it is in eating.
He giveth us all things ----from the dinner table to
the marriage bed ----richly to enjoy, that our physical
and emotional needs should be met thereby, and that we might give him
Mr. Bradley continues, Sadly, most of us have been under that false
notion that God means for our mate to meet all of our romantic and emotional
needs. We marry, fully intending to have our spouse be all that we ever
wanted in a mate. Shortly after the wedding though, we begin to think
that our new partner has a lot of changing to do. In fact, it appears
they are far from being able to fully meet our needs. Instead of being
fully committed to our idea of what a marriage is all about, they entered
in with their own ideas of what marriage is to be
their own list of needs they expect us to meet.
Thus does hyperspirituality impugn the work of God
is really an attack upon the institution of marriage itself. The assumption
which lies at the base of such talk is that the woman is not meet for
the man ----nor he for her. They do not complement each other. His
needs must be met at the expense of hers, or hers at the expense of his.
This author seems to have no conception of the perfect accordance of masculine
and feminine natures. Her need is to be loved, and his to love her ----her
need to trust, and his to be trusted ----his need to tell her of
her charms, and hers to hear of them ----and surely the need of
both of them to kiss and caress and embrace. In all this we see the most
exquisite wisdom, as well as the most consummate goodness, of the God
who created us male and female. But where has he been, on what planet
has he lived, who supposes that the needs ----the desires ----the
dreams ----of a man and woman in love are discordant, independent,
incompatible, opposite? This, I repeat, is an attack upon the institution
of marriage itself. Our dreams and needs were never meant to be fulfilled ----at
least not in marriage. And if not in marriage, where? Observe: Sadly,
most of us have been under the false notion that God means for our mate
to meet all of our romantic and emotional needs. God, then, according
to Mr. Bradley, does not intend that marriage should meet our romantic
needs. God, then, is the creator of needs which
can never be fulfilled ----unless in extramarital affairs. He created
those needs only to afflict and torment us, in order to secure our spiritual
progress. He created us, as it were, with an inveterate craving for chocolate,
and placed us in a warehouse full of it, so that the very aroma continually
inflames our cravings. He invites us to partake, but when we do so, we
find the chocolate to be but drain oil and sawdust. This is Mr. Bradley's
view of marriage. Those lovely feminine creatures, who so captivate our
hearts and so kindle our desires, are far from being able to fully
meet our needs. And this he attributes not to man's ignorance or
carelessness or failure or sin, but to the purpose of God for marriage.
This, we say, is an attack upon marriage itself, and an insult to the
God who created it. We think it an insult to femininity also, and women,
we suppose, must think it an insult to masculinity.
He writes further (still on pg. 8), Men and women are different
in their unique expressions of self-centered love for each other. A woman
frequently marries looking for fulfillment in her relationship with her
husband. Her husband, on the other hand, marries looking for fulfillment
outside the marriage in his job or in a hobby. In a normal marriage we
find a wife trying to get her needs met in her husband and a husband wanting
his wife to be with him while he gets his needs met outside the home.
Wives tend to want relationship. Husbands tend to want companionship.
God, knowing this, puts these two together with the intent that overcoming
their differences will help make them more like His Son. He wants neither
one to try to get their 'needs' met in the other. He put them in the relationship
to learn to be givers not takers. God knows that that is our greatest
One problem in understanding the truth of this is that the wife's
needs do sound more noble than her husband's, since she puts so much emphasis
But this is error from beginning to end. What he calls self-centered
love is in reality nothing other than true romance, but he writes
as one who knows nothing about it. It is certainly not true of a man in
love that he seeks fulfillment outside the marriage. He seeks it in the
same place a woman does. He puts every bit as much emphasis on the relationship
as she does. What Mr. Bradley actually describes is no doubt the experience
of a couple who are not in love, and he reproaches the real thing on the
basis of that defective experience. And all that he writes on this theme
rests on the assumption that man and woman are not meet for each other.
They are different in their unique expressions of [what he calls]
self-centered love for each other, and not different in such a manner
as to complement and fulfill each other, but only to thwart and frustrate.
And God, knowing this
----and evidently having purposed
and designed it ----puts these two contrary beings together,
that they might be thorns and scourges to each other, in order to promote
their deeper spiritual needs. This is an attack upon marriage itself,
and upon the wisdom and goodness of the Creator of it.
But if Mr. Bradley knows nothing of the nature of true love, he knows
no more of the true difference between masculine and feminine natures.
If, as he thinks, true love is selfless, then it is certainly
false to suppose that the wife's needs do sound more noble than
her husband's. Noble or not, the woman's place in true romance is
always more selfish or self-centered than the
man's. Her deepest need is to be loved. Her husband's deepest need is
to lavish his love upon her
----though a man who has never been
in love may know nothing of this. He is the giver, she the receiver, and
in this they are a true picture of Christ and the church. Long after the
event my wife and I recalled a chance meeting we had once had at the corner
of the cafeteria when we were in Bible school. I told her that what I
had noticed in that meeting was how she looked, and she divulged to me
that what she had observed was how I looked at her. I recalled that she
had looked pleasing, while she recalled that I had looked pleased. I was
pleased that she was pleasing, and she was pleased that I was pleased.
And all this was a simple expression of the different but complementary
natures of man and woman, as God created them. His deepest emotional satisfaction
is to tell her of her beauty and charms, and her deepest satisfaction
is to hear of them. His deepest pleasure is to give pleasure to her, and
her deepest pleasure to receive it from him. Yet we would not care to
call the woman's place or needs less noble than the man's. They are both
precisely what God has made them. Nor could any man in love dream of faulting
a woman for her self-centered desires, for it is the deepest
satisfaction of his own heart to meet them, and if she had no such self-centered
desires, she would hardly be meet for him.
Mr. Bradley evidently knows nothing of this, and there are no doubt a
myriad of married couples who possess nothing of it. But such unfortunate
souls ought to say, We are in this plight because of our own ignorance,
our own carelessness, our own pride or presumption, our own unfaithfulness,
our own selfishness, our own sinfulness
----because we failed to
ask counsel, or to listen to it, because we made haste, because we have
been selfish or unkind ----but surely not because God has purposed
that marriage should be nothing better than this. The man who starves
in winter because he did not work in harvest has no business to say it
is God's purpose that we should starve in winter, that we might be conformed
to the image of Christ. No more has the man whose emotions are starved
in his marriage any right to attribute this to the purpose of God. Let
him rather say, I have failed ----failed to act wisely or
cautiously ----failed to secure the romance which would satisfy
my needs, or lost it by my own carelessness or sin. To impute this
unsatisfying matrimony to the purpose of God is the surest way to multiply
such marriages, by making the young people conscientiously careless and
indifferent to the one thing needful to make a good marriage, teaching
them to marry without the romance which is the only thing which can satisfy
them. All of these hyperspiritual teachers allow the necessity of natural
physical love, but they slight and belittle and disallow the natural emotional
love, without which the physical love is only an empty shell. And thus,
in a mistaken reaction against what they conceive to be amiss in the world's
views of love, they create a remedy which is immeasurably worse than the
supposed disease. In an ill-advised endeavor to lift love and marriage
above the carnal ideas of the world, they in fact reduce them far beneath
the world's level, making marriage to consist of no more than an empty
and unsatisfying physical love, coupled (as it ought to be) with a spiritual
commitment, but devoid of the emotional delights and bonds which alone
can satisfy the heart, or give any meaning to the physical union of male
and female. The world's view of marriage is beyond measure superior to
this. Even in this degenerate day the world knows how to delight in romance,
but we know how often these hyperspiritual teachers counsel the young
people to marry without it, telling them it is unnecessary or deceptive,
something to be feared and shunned and avoided, something which will lead
them astray from God's real purpose in marriage ----seeking always
to substitute something spiritual in the place of the natural love which
is as pure as Paradise, and which was as necessary to satisfy Adam in
the garden as it is to satifsy our own hearts today. And with or without
such counsel, the young people who sit under such teaching will naturally
conclude that they ought to marry without that emotional love which nature
teaches the whole race to desire.
And here lies the great evil of these hyperspiritual doctrines. Their
certain tendency is to add to the number of struggling marriages,
by teaching the young people neither to value nor seek the only thing
which can make a marriage anything more than drudgery. If romantic fulfillment
is not God's purpose in marriage, then surely it ought not to be our purpose.
If this is not God's purpose, we ought not to seek it. We ought to marry
without any reference to it. Nay, on Mr. Bradley's plan, we ought to shun
and avoid it. We ought to marry one for whom we feel no romantic desires
whom we may selflessly serve ----one to whom we can freely give,
and expect nothing in return ----but certainly not one from whom
we have any reason to expect romantic fulfillment. This would be to run
counter to the purpose of God. God never meant that marriage should give
us this, and if this is not the will or purpose of God, we are astray
to seek it. Following Christ means the laying aside of our plans
and goals and the adoption of God's. Therefore, if we share God's goal,
and wish to become like Christ, then we will can (sic) rejoice when we
encounter the opportunities for growth afforded by suffering. (pg.
10). A suffering marriage fulfills the purpose of God ----meets
our greatest needs ----while a satisfying marriage must fail to
do so. On this plan, to what conclusion can a spiritual person come, who
is determined to lay aside his own plans and goals, and share God's
goal for his marriage, but that he ought to seek a suffering marriage,
and lay aside his dreams for a satisfying one? He ought to marry a woman
who has no romantic charms in his eyes ----better still, one who
has no character ----that he might welcome the difficulties
of marriage, embrace his opportunities of suffering,
and so be conformed to the image of Christ.
But if people want troubles and sufferings, that they may be conformed
to the image of Christ, and if such is the primary purpose of marriage,
methinks they might find trouble enough at an easier rate than this. Let
them multiply their debts, become surety for strangers, move to the tropics,
fast twice in the week, join the army, run for president
let them stay away from marriage. It was once a common saying, Better
half hanged than ill wed, and we think better a quarter hanged four
times than half hanged once.
But we have no need to conjecture and theorize concerning God's purpose
in marriage. God gives us a pretty plain indication of it when he says,
To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every
woman have her own husband. It is better to marry than to
burn. If they cannot contain, let them marry. But how
in the name of common sense can marriage prevent fornication, how can
marriage allay our burning, except by meeting our emotional needs, and
satisfying our romantic desires? Satisfied love sees no charms,
says the French proverb. It sees no charms in others, being satisfied
with one. It therefore commits no fornication. But how will a marriage
which cannot meet our emotional needs keep us from this?
Under the heading The most successful marriages, Mr. Bradley
writes, A study of marriage in history reveals that long-lasting
marriages are generally those which are more 'role' oriented than 'romance'
oriented. That is, those Christian couples who marry with a clear understanding
of their biblical roles, and have as their primary purpose to carry them
out, are generally happier in marriage than those who marry in order to
get their needs met. (pg. 8). But this is abundance of confusion,
every way we look at it. The second sentence says something entirely different
from the first, though introduced with that is. Yet taking
the two together, a long-lasting marriage is virtually equated
with a happy one, and a successful one. But everyone knows that in a myriad
of cases this is the reverse of the truth. Many long-lasting marriages
are only long-lasting drudgery or affliction. And we deny the validity
of the whole first sentence. What study of marriage in history
reveals this? Who performed this study, and when, and where, and how?
Such a study is impossible in the nature of the case. There is not one
godly marriage in a million concerning which we could have any knowledge
whatever of whether it was role oriented or romance
----or whether it was the primary purpose of the
parties to fulfil their roles, or to find romantic fulfilment. And the
second sentence is no more valid than the first. It is confusion at best.
It is no doubt true that those who marry with a clear understanding of
their biblical roles will usually be happier than those who don't, but
this is another thing from what Bradley affirms, that they will be happier
than those who marry for romantic fulfilment. Bradley contrasts the wrong
things, affirming that it must be either this or that, when in fact it
may be both. He sees only the two extremes, and never perceives the alternative
which lies between them. We may marry with a clear understanding of our
biblical roles, without making it our primary purpose to carry them out.
We may marry with a clear understanding of those roles, and a firm determination
to fulfil them, and yet for the purpose of finding the fulfilment of our
But not content to impugn marriage as God created it, and as the whole
human race instinctively understands it, Mr. Bradley must impugn marital
love also. In company with the whole host of hyperspiritual teachers on
this theme, he thinks to replace the emotional delights of romance with
some kind of spiritual, non-emotional, and disinterested love,
which we are persuaded has never yet existed on the earth, and which could
not be worth much if it did. He writes (pg. 8), What we have come
to believe to be right romantic 'chemistry' is actually nothing more than
'self-centered' love. Most people are romantically drawn to those who
gratify them, so marry with expectations of being fulfilled by their mate.
That type of love is not true selfless love, but is self-centered, basing
its attraction on personal gratification. ... Needing someone is not evidence
of a selfless, giving love for them
----contrarily, it is evidence
that you want them for the emotional fulfillment you will receive from
them. It is a reasonable estimate to suggest that 98% of all Christian
marriages today are based on this dangerous form of self-serving love.
But the fact is, Adam needed Eve, by God's own testimony, and it was to
meet that need that she was created. She was not created as an opportunity
for him, that he might selflessly serve her, but as a help to him
helper, as Tyndale translates it ----meet for him, meet to satisfy
the need for which she was created. And as a prelude to creating her,
the Lord God put Adam through the lengthy process of naming the creatures,
in order that he might feel his need, when among all the creatures which
the Lord had made, for Adam there was not found an help meet for
him. Thus did the Lord God, in the creation of Eve, minister to
that self-serving love which Mr. Bradley condemns. He speaks
of God's original purpose for marriage, but he knows not what
And what is this true selfless love? It is mere assumption
that true love is selfless, and false assumption too. Mr. Bradley's understanding
of the whole theme is very shallow at the best, and his reasoning is full
of fallacies and false assumptions everywhere. Here he assumes that love
must be either self-centered or selfless. This
assumption is false. Everyone knows that there is a selfish element in
----and especially in romantic love. Let her be as the
loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times;
and be thou ravished always with her love. (Prov. 5:19). Is this
The plain fact is, selfless love does not exist. It is impossible to conceive
of either man or woman being in love, and not being jealous. The
reward of love is jealousy. This proverb is true, and what could
the love be worth which was without it? What woman would care to be loved
by a man who felt no jealousy for her? Such love would be an affront to
a female heart. We shall likely be told that this is the world's idea,
and that jealous love is selfish and carnal. But no, for the LORD,
whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Ex. 34:14). Jealousy is
indisputably selfish, and this belongs to love. These notions
of selfless love do not come from the Bible, any more than
they do from human experience. Has Mr. Bradley never read that love
is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave? (Song of Solomon
8:7). This is of course romantic love
----marital love ----and
what has jealousy to do here, if this love is selfless?
Nothing has suffered so much at the hands of these hyperspiritual theorists
as the Greek word agaph (agapé), which we properly translate as
love in English. And we affirm without misgiving that if any
who speak English may wish to know what the Greek agaph means, they need
only look under love in any good English dictionary. From
the love of God, to the love of good, to the love of evil, to the love
of friends, to the love of women, to the love of pleasure, to the love
of ice cream or peanut butter, our English love is nothing
other than the Greek words agaph and agapaw, noun and verb. But these
hyperspiritual teachers love to tell us what the Greek word means, always,
of course, affirming that it means something different than we ordinarily
mean by the English love, and always affirming a good deal
of false theory in the process. Bradley says, The word agape is
devoid of emotion or feeling. It describes a commitment based on an act
of the will. This definition is very common in the church today,
even among those who would repudiate the most of Mr. Bradley's hyperspiritual
notions, but this is only shallow ignorance. The definition is certainly
false. Even if it can be proved beyond a doubt that agaph sometimes means
commitment without emotion, this is no proof that it never means anything
else. Bradley writes further, We would have been in trouble if Jesus
had commanded us to have affection (phileo) for others in the same way
that we have affection for ourselves, because so few of us like ourselves.
He took it for granted though, that we all agape (are unconditionally
committed to) ourselves. (pg. 13).
Agaph, then, means unconditional commitment, devoid of emotion or feeling,
and this is the love which he puts at the foundation of a
good marriage. By God's design, we are to love our wives without liking
them. No wonder the poor girls are to expect no emotional fulfillment
in marriage. And no wonder Jacob's seven years of waiting for Rachel seemed
unto him but a few days. He loved her intensely, but didn't like
her. But Mr. Bradley's definition of agaph is certainly false, as a glance
at the usage of the Greek word in the Greek Bible will abundantly prove.
The Septuagint uses this word in II Samuel 1:26, where David speaks of
the love of women. And fancy this in II Samuel 13:15, Then
Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred wherewith he hated her
was greater than the unconditional commitment
----devoid of emotion
or feeling ----wherewith he had loved her. And by means of
this unconditional commitment ----based on an act of the will ----devoid
of emotion or feeling ----he was so vexed, that he fell sick
for his sister Tamar, and was lean from day to day.
This single example should serve to put these hyperspiritual definitions
in their true light.
In the Song of Solomon 2:4-5 (translated from the Septuagint) we see,
Bring me into the house of wine: set love before me. Strengthen
me with perfumes, stay me with apples, for I am wounded with love. His
left hand shall be under my head, and his right hand shall embrace me.
Does this look like unconditional commitment, without emotion or feeling?
Does this look like being uncompromisingly devoted to them [to our
spouse] seeking to get back nothing in return? (pg 10).
Once more. Set me
----is this selfless? ----Set
me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm, for love is strong
as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals
of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. (Song of Solomon 8:7).
Is this without emotion or feeling? The plain fact is, this is a description
of passion, not of commitment, and that passion is called love ----and
agaph love too.
Our author will have it that love is a commitment to give, without seeking
to get anything for ourselves. We do not believe that even the love of
God can pass this test, but waive that. It is certain that romantic love
cannot, nor would it be worth anything if it could. Who would want it?
Surely no woman could. Selfless love could only be an unpardonable
insult to her. Though her whole feminine nature revolves around being
loved, this does not mean being selflessly served, but being desired for
her feminine beauty and charms, and her desire for such desire is no more
selfless than a man's desire for her. The very term love must
be cold and meaningless to a woman's heart, if it were entirely selfless.
Ne'er again such bliss as love's first kiss, says the old
proverb, but on the plan of this selfless love the bliss must
all evaporate. Imagine a young man telling his lover, I intend now
to give you the bliss of love's first kiss, and I want you to understand
that I do this solely and entirely for your pleasure. This is a kiss of
love, and I neither seek nor expect any pleasure for myself in it.
Such a kiss would be utterly contemned, and no creature with a grain of
femininity in her soul would stoop to accept it. Such a kiss, and such
love also, would be an irreparable affront to a woman's nature.
The man who marries a woman for the purpose of giving to her, without
getting from her, wrongs her beyond repair, for in fact he has nothing
to give her
----nothing which can meet the needs of her feminine
heart. Her deepest need is to be desired, for all her feminine beauty
and charms, physical and emotional, and how can he meet her needs, who
wants nothing from her? If he has no passion to possess her for himself,
he cannot meet her needs.
And observe how Mr. Bradley describes the workings of this selfless
love. I have observed that those who are most susceptible
to emotional pain are those who are trying to get their needs met in the
relationship. I've noticed that those who are primarily oriented in giving
to their mate rather than taking from them, handle so-called emotional
abuse much better. When we want nothing from others we don't open ourselves
up to be hurt by them.
It is this very attempt to get fulfilled that makes an individual
susceptible to getting 'hurt' by their mate. They look to the other to
be satisfied in some way. It is their desire to receive that has made
them vulnerable to hurt. A broad look at human relationships reveals that
people often are not hurt easily by those from whom they expect nothing.
For example, the insult offered by a bum on the street doesn't hurt you
the way it would coming from the lips of your mate. Why? You have not
opened yourself up and made yourself emotionally vulnerable to the transient.
You have no expectations of him
----his opinion of you is unimportant.
In fact, were it your purpose to minister to him, you probably would perceive
his insult as a sight of his spiritual emptiness. The selfless nature
of your love would spawn understanding and compassion. However, for your
mate, you lack the same selfless concern ----you look to them for
something to satisfy you. In doing so, you make yourself vulnerable to
insults or the pain of rejection.
In plain English, what Mr. Bradley is pleased to call selfless love
is in fact the most selfish love on earth
----if it can be called
love at all. Whatever it is, it stands aloof from being hurt. It will
not make itself vulnerable. The man who has this selfless love
cares nothing of what his beloved thinks of him. He wants nothing
from his wife. And (if anybody can believe it), the woman who has this
selfless love cares nothing what her husband thinks of her ----no
more than she cares for the opinion of the bum on the street!! If her
marriage is troubled, her troubles arise from the fact that she has not
yet attained to this selfless and emotionless love ----or
in plainer English, that she has not yet ceased to be a woman, that she
has not yet become a stone.
We are persuaded the author must know better than this in his experience
much more that his wife must know better in hers ----but hyperspirituality
is as much given to denying the obvious as it is to repudiating the natural.
This gives to these doctrines an appearance of superior wisdom, as well
as superior spirituality, and they are therefore readily embraced by pride,
and widespread in the modern church.
The quintessence of hyperspirituality appears on page 22 of this treatise,
where the author says, The primary reason we find ourselves in the
condition that says, 'I will tolerate no more,' is that we have sought
in a relationship a fulfillment which can only come from God. We
can no more approve than Mr. Bradley can the spirit which says, I
will tolerate no more
----though we suppose that meekness
itself must sometimes be driven to say, I can tolerate no more.
But our concern is with Mr. Bradley's talk of a fulfillment which
can only come from God. What fulfillment is this? We must suppose
he speaks of the fulfillment of our emotional needs, as this is his theme
throughout, and this is what men seek in marriage. But the plain fact
is, if such fulfillment could have been found in God, Eve would never
have been created. Adam had God, and was pure from all taint of sin besides,
and yet his emotional needs were not fulfilled. God said, It is
not good that the man should be alone. He had emotional needs which
could not be fulfilled by God, but only by a woman. If they could have
been fulfilled by God, Adam had no need of Eve, and God was mistaken to
say it was not good for him to be alone. We of course believe that God
meant to fulfill the need which he had created in the heart of Adam, but
he meant to do this by creating Eve, and not by filling it with himself.
Those who seek the fulfillment of that need in God alone are evidently
more spiritual than the Creator of Eve ----and they will surely
reap disappointment for their presumption.
There are yet other matters in which the author manifests both his ignorance
and his hyperspirituality, as in his seeking to substitute spiritual joy
in the place of marital happiness.
But we must draw this review to a close. The book contains some good,
and may even do some good to those whose hopes of emotional fulfillment
are already blasted in unsatisfying and uncongenial marriages. These have
made their bed, and ought to lie in it. Certainly it is good to persuade
them to stay there, make the best of their sufferings, and love their
mates as selflessly as they can. By good character a bad marriage may
be made a good deal better, though no marriage can ever be good without
romantic fulfillment. It is right enough for all who suffer in unsatisfying
marriages to take their miseries as a bitter medicine from the hand of
their Father, while they cease not to rue the ignorance, carelessness,
presumption, or lack of character on their own part which put them in
such a plight. It is altogether right for all such to weep out their sorrows
----to cry every day of their lives, Oh, God, this
is a very hard scourging, but help me to bear it, and to profit from it
also. All this we would preach ourselves. But whatever of good this
book contains in that direction is spoiled by its mixture everywhere with
the hyperspiritual doctrines which we have discussed above, and those
doctrines must inevitably do harm. We are sanctified by the truth, not
by hyperspiritual ignorance and error, and we fear that these hyperspiritual
doctrines, which attribute to God those evils which ought to be laid to
the account of man's ignorance and carelessness and sin, will be more
productive of unbelief and disillusionment in the end, than of sanctification.
It is certain that they will do untold damage to those who yet have hope
of obtaining emotional bliss in a good marriage.
It is not our purpose to condemn Mr. Bradley, though we will probably
have to bear some reproach for doing so. But we know nothing of the man.
It is his doctrines of which we speak. Those doctrines are false and harmful,
and we believe those who take the place of public teachers in the church
of God ought to be held responsible for their utterances. Mr. Bradley
doubtless means well, but he darkens counsel by words without knowledge,
and we can only counsel him, as indeed we must ten thousand others in
the present-day profusion of amateur ministry and unfit ministers, to
put away his pen till he has been taught and sent of God.
The Righteousnesses of the Saints
by Glenn Conjurske
It is written in the book of Revelation, chapter 19, verses 7 & 8,
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage
of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her
was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white:
for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
Observe first, the translation is not so clear as it could and should
be. Righteousness is plural in the Greek, and the article
appears before saints. The fine linen is said to be the
righteousnesses of the saints, according to a perfectly literal
translation of the original, and something equivalent to this is adopted
by almost all the more recent versions. Thus:
----the righteous acts of the saints.
----the righteous acts of the saints.
----the righteous deeds of the saints.
----the righteous acts of the saints.
----the righteous acts of the saints.
----the righteous living of the saints.
----the righteous acts of the saints.
All agree upon the meaning of the text, and it cuts up by the roots the
prevailing notion that the bride's wedding garment stands for imputed
righteousness. We could not for a moment consent to apply the white linen
to imputed righteousness, though the word righteousness were
singular, but as it is plural, such a notion has not the shadow of a leg
to stand upon. Observe also, his wife hath made herself ready.
She was not the passive recipient of this righteousness. She has done
something herself, to make herself ready.
We do not mean to imply that the common English version is necessarily
in error in rendering the Greek plural as an English singular. There is
something to be said for that, and we shall allow Darby to say it. He
translates the place the righteousnesses of the saints, but
adds in a note
----to which I add the bold type, The Hebrew
plural of acts expressing a quality is used for the abstract quality itself.
This may be the case, by analogy, here [though this is Greek, not Hebrew].
See Psalm xi.7, where in Hebrew it is 'righteousnesses,' but it is actual,
Yet many there are who are strongly determined that this white linen shall
be imputed righteousness. We suppose that many of them are so disposed
because they know very well that if they have no imputed righteousness,
they have no righteousness at all
----for of righteousnesses
they have none worth the name. They cling to the antinomian gospel precisely
because it is easy. It requires nothing of them, and this suits them well.
Whenever we (or the Bible) speak of righteousness, they flee immediately
and instinctively to Isaiah 64:6, and triumphantly inform us that all
our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. They love to dwell on the
word all, and to press it for all its worth, to prove that
no saint can have any righteousness of his own. They find this doctrine
very comfortable, and they bask in the lurid light of the dubious fact
that at our best we are all filthy ----that all of our righteousnesses,
not all our sins merely, are as filthy rags ----that we never walk
worthy of the Lord, unto all pleasing ----never do anything
at all which is pleasing to God ----that the undefiled in
the way, who walk in the law of the Lord, do not exist, in short,
that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. This pleasing fantasy
absolves them of all their responsibility to be anything other than filthy,
while they fold their hands in balmy sleep, and dream of imputed righteousness.
But they have mistaken the case. According to their view of the matter,
our text in Revelation must needs be rewritten, to say, The marriage
of the Lamb is come, and his strumpet hath made herself ready. And to
her was granted that she should be arrayed in filthy rags, dirty and black,
for the filthy rags are the righteousnesses of the saints. Then
they may hold this verse in one hand, while they hold in the other, All
our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Then their Bible will be
consistent, and their hope secure. Then they may take their place with
all confidence in the bride of Christ. But as the Bible now stands, they
must have a lie in either one hand or the other. And what would any first-grader
conclude from the discrepancy? Why just this, that if the righteousnesses
of the saints are fine linen, clean and white, then those righteousnesses
which are filthy rags are certainly not the righteousnesses of the saints.
It is not the saints who speak in Isaiah 64, but convicted sinners, of
the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This really ought to
need no proof, while Revelation 19:8 stands in the Bible
while its own context stands. To apply Isaiah 64:6 to saints is one of
the most blatant examples possible of what I call proof text theology.
By this method men take a sentence or phrase which seems to support their
position, wrest it violently from its own setting, and use it to prove
whatever they wish to believe. A simple reading of the context will be
sufficient to prove that Isaiah 64:6 cannot be the language of saints.
Taking the verse in connection with those which immediately precede and
follow it, we read,
Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those
that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned:
in those is continuance, and we shall be saved. But we are all as an unclean
thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade
as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And
there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to
take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed
us, because of our iniquities. Could any man in his senses apply
this language to saints?
So very far from any notion that God will accept those whose righteousness
is filthy rags, the immediate context tells us, Thou meetest him
that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, and the nature of the
case requires us to understand this meeting as one of acceptance, as when
the Father ran to meet the prodigal. Two of my Jewish translations (Isaac
Leeser and I. M. Rubin) read, Thou acceptest him that rejoiceth
and worketh righteousness, and Gesenius in his Hebrew lexicon defines
the Hebrew word as meaning to make peace, and translates this
verse thou makest peace with him who rejoiceth to work righteousness.
So speak these Jews, but immediately lament, But we are all as an
unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Yea,
there is none [among us] that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth
up himself to take hold of thee. This is clearly the language of
convicted sinners, and to apply it to saints is as much against the text
itself as it is against the theology of the whole Bible.
OP&AL is a testimony, not a forum. Old articles are printed without
alteration (except for correction of misprints) unless stated otherwise,
and are inserted if the editor judges them profitable for instruction
or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's
own position is to be learned from his own writings.