Psychology and Theology: Part 3

In the last two posts, I showed the problems that exist in trying to relate theology and Psychology. Today I want to ask, what is the solution to relating the two. Let me start off by saying that in order to do this both the theologian and the psychologist need to act against their better instincts which suit them so well within their disciplines; the psychologist must be willing to say this is how people work, this is what they are, and the theologian must be willing to say, “the study of human experiences does yield valuable information that does deserve the hard work of integration with Scripture.

The problems I mentioned before was that 1)Psychologists are reluctant to make objective claims,  2) theologians are unwilling to go into the weeds of subjective data 3) we have disciplinary asymmetry. So, what options do we have with these disciplines?

There are today solutions that have become calcified communities bent on standing against each other. Most famously seen between the so-called biblical counsellors and the integrationists. It’s necessary however to address an initial theological idea, an idea that serves normally as a trip-rope for this conversation when in fact it is a red herring, this idea is the sufficiency of Scripture. We need to put to bed the idea that relating theology and psychology in any way compromises the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture, it does not. A theologian can subscribe to the Reformation doctrines of the sufficiency of Scripture and with integrity hold to any of the following solutions mentioned in this post.

Now there are those in the Biblical counselling movement that will say that any alleged contribution of psychology to the problems people face compromises the sufficiency of Scripture. They argue that Scripture is all we need to answer the problems that psychology seeks to address. But this is not the reformed doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. When the reformers formed the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture they meant something entirely different than what the Biblical counselling movement means. The reformers were guarding against the notion that we need a 67th book in the canon, they were guarding against the notion that we need a pope in order to properly instruct us about Salvation. The sufficiency of Scripture really has to do with the book in the canon, not how to relate the books in the canon to the general information that humans can acquire. In summary the relationship of the protestant canon to psychology does not come close to the suggestion of adding a gnostic gospel or a pope. And unfortunately, this lack of care for definitional and categorical precision is characteristic of the biblical counselling movement, though I am very sympathetic with their project, and spent most of my short pastorate thus far staunchly within this fold.

A more relevant attribute of Scripture would be the authority of Scripture, because in what ways Scripture speaks authoritatively about human psychology is in fact the very issue at hand, but the sufficiency of Scripture often serves in these conversations to distract from this attribute and thus to obscure from the real path of Biblically relating psychology and theology.

So, lets take a brief summary of each view and then analyse them:

  1. Nouthetic counselling: Nouthetic coming from the Greek word “to instruct, admonish’. Nouthetic counselling proposes that our actions are predicated on our beliefs about the world. Essentially, if you want to modify your behaviour you need to modify your theological beliefs. More than that Nouthetic counselling insists on the practise of counselling exclusively from the Bible because they take for granted that notion of sufficiency that we discussed earlier. This model is ironically formally identical to what’s come to be called cognitive behaviour therapy in the secular world.

Two initial problems:

  1. Humans are not computers. We are not a collection of mental syllogisms. We act irrationally. And even then we don’t have a perfect script of ideas to compel our action.  Even we are not aware of everything we believe or the nature of our thought or the reasons why we act the way we do.
    1. It insists on working from the Bible as often as possible in the counselling room, and cultivating a strong scepticism toward secular psychology and their insights. If you speak with nouthetic counsellors, you will find they often try to minimize the profundity of psychological insights as though they were obvious and already part of the Christian tradition. My rejection of this comes from a desire to grow and learn in my understanding of a human person. I also do not understand this idea of rejecting the many conflicting insights of psychology because for me as a theologian, there just doesn’t seem to be any ground for it
  2. Biblical counseling

David Pawson is who I have in mind with this solution. The primary distinction he made is the distinction between compin and vitex. Compin-vitex distinction helps us put a finger on two paths of relating psychology and theology

  1. Vitex methods of relating the disciplines are those which are vitally dependant on external sources for understanding the human person and treating problems they face. Your understanding of the person is vitally dependent on external psychology sources
  2. Compin methods of relating the disciplines says that the Bible comprehensively and internally contains the resources to understand the human person and treat problems, comprehensively and internally

This distinction allows Biblical counsellors a bit more bandwidth to learn from secular psychology than the nouthetic approach. Biblical counsellors obviously champion the compin methods of relating psychology and theology and they reject the vitex methods, because they are saying if your system is dependent on external psychological theories then you are compromising the sufficiency of Scripture.

If you believe in the Biblical counselling view that the Bible comprehensively and internally contains resources to understand the human person and treat their problems then you are free to use the insights of secular psychology so long as they don’t become vital. And for those insights that you do glean from secular psychology as a biblical counsellor they need to go through a translation process which baptises those ideas to the point where you can demonstrate how that idea is actually a teaching of Scripture in the first place. Essentially the psychological ideas become a prompt for exegesis (let me go find where I can make this idea come from in the Bible).

  • My problem with the compin-vitex system is that it is dishonest. Every single Christian idea is vitally dependent on external knowledge basis. The alphabet is a secular knowledge base as is geometry, integers and the faculty of special awareness. Secular is just Latin for the world; it’s just referring to the common ideas between Christian and none Christian.
  • I will concede to Pawson that psychology is far more permeated with quasi-religious precommitments compared with geometry. But the compin-vitex distinction is a way of slicing the pie that is not true to the relationship between Psychology and Theology because there is no clear line showing what can be accepted or rejected from psychology. What parts of psychology would Biblical counsellors take for granted? For example they take memory psychology for granted: when you counsel a person you take for granted that they remember some things, and the mechanics of that memory are the very realties memory psychology goes to great lengths to explain, and it does so very often accurately to the extend that it provides us with a reliable account of how and why human beings remember and forget. The Bible commands us to remember but it does not give us a mechanist account of memory which is what Psychology does.

The Biblical counselling model is vitally dependent on that external secular psychology whether they admit it or not.

This points to another problem with the Biblical Counselling movement; it formally distinguishes itself from secular psychology in principle without any concern for the material claims of secular psychology itself.

For example, what if every member of the a psychological association become a Christian, or more than that what if they conceded that all of their findings were only made possible by the God of the Bible, and that the Bible was an epistemological authority on our personal problems. Most of the material in psychology would not change if that happened. Because the Biblical counselling movement rejects the idea of secular psychology in principle it undercuts the credibility of the material claims of secular psychology which would remain unmodified even if the  secular psychologist become a proponent of Biblical counselling.

  • Christian psychology view: There is a plain of knowledge that allows us to speak with secular psychologists about human experience on common terms. That plain of human knowledge that allows us to speak on common terms with secular psychologists about human experience, that plain is the horizontal axis of human understanding.

We can call this horizontal domain observed truth. And alongside the plain is the vertical axis or domain of knowledge which is the theological dimension which we call revealed truth. As Christians we are free to learn from all fields of truth because all truth is God’s truth.

Additionally, we trust in faith that all truth has a theological dimension because all truth is God’s truth. Therefore, when we make claims about psychology we are making claims about singular realities with multiple dimensions, one dimension observed, one dimension revealed. In my view this solves the problem of disciplinary asymmetry because the psychological and theological are taken out of competition with each other and instead become complementary fields of knowledge. So in some areas theology may give us more information, thus we have license to reject psychological claims that go against revealed truth. On the other hand we have the license to accept truth as we see it and trust that it coheres with Scripture even if we haven’t done the cognitive work of figuring out how. This enables the Christian psychologist to go further, faster compared with the Biblical counsellor or nouthetic counsellor because he doesn’t have to do that gymnastic work of conceptually baptising everything he observes in the world with Scripture before he can accept it as truth.

In addition the Christian Psychology view really operates from a more rich and biblical theology of creation. The one clincher that is compelling, is that it insists is psychology giving deference to theology. In other words, we must begin our inquiry into the relationship between theology and psychology as Christians first, not as scientists. And more than that, it is only because of revealed truth that observed truth is what it is.

Two other solutions I won’t go into are the “levels of explanation view” and the “Integrationist view”, thought they both have their merits and weaknesses.

Let me end with one practical not.  Psychologists are reluctant to give an objective account of human problems and nature and that is wrong, they should see what is revealed and allow the Bible to have epistemic authority over their field, On the other hand Theologians/pastors from the pulpit are willing to commit a single fallacy and hold mental health hostage to Christian theology or to over promise on the psychological results theology can give. Want to overcome trauma, anxiety or depression come to Jesus and it can happen for you… this is a psychological prosperity gospel. It is no different than a nouthetic Benny Hinn. People in the world overcome addiction all the time, they successfully grieve and get over trauma all the time, they grow and find joy in life without Christ in huge numbers on  daily basis, they develop self-discipline and move their lives in positive directions for the good of those around them and themselves. The opposite is also true, which shows that the gospel can’t make such a guarantee, and to make such guarantee’s is harmful and simply not true.

Can Christ heal trauma and help with depression and deal with anxiety? Can spiritual enlivenment and awakening cause and aid psychological well-being and mental health progress? Can it break through log jams and make huge strides forward in your life? Yes, of course it can.  The problem is with making guarantees. You cannot unless you come to Jesus or if you come to Jesus it is guaranteed. Those might preach and tweet well, but it hurts people and ruins Christians in many cases.

Psychology and Theology: Part 2

Last time I spoke about two problems which cause tension between the disciplines of Theology and Psychology. We spoke firstly about the subjective nature of Psychological claims and the objective nature of theological claims. We then briefly looked at the second issue with Psychologists focus on immediate reality and practice, while theologians tend to focus on objective reality. Today I want to highlight the third tension between Theology and Psychology.

It could best be called disciplinary asymmetry. This is a covert and divisive problem at the very heart of relating psychology and theology. Put simply, Theology and Psychology do not neatly align in their concern or proportion.

  1. Asymmetry of disciplinary concern

Think about it like this, Theologians spend roughly 10% of their time considering anthropology out of all the fields that concern them. Psychologists have one field; they spend 100% of their time studying human beings. What this means is that there are simply not enough verses in the Bible to speak meaningfully into every single situation in Psychology. That is not to say that the Bible does not speak into deep conversations, but rather that the Bible and Theology does not spend enough time teasing out the mechanics of human personality and experience to supply a dogmatic answer to a psychological question.

For example, Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” That statement only goes so far in conversation with a quarter of a million peer reviewed studies in psychology every year. Even if you include other topics in theology to increase the percentage, say maybe including the topics of Christian living and progressive sanctification, to broaden the spoke that speaks to anthropology, but even then the asymmetry is still stark. There is just significantly less Scripture speaking to issues that Psychology speaks to.

2. Asymmetry of Disciplinary proportions

This is actually the main issue. Let’s argue that Theology spends 25% of its content addressing concerns of psychology, even then what we gain in the overlap is lost along the lines of proportionality.

The largest sub-disciplines in psychology is the study of behaviour and cognition: how people act and why; how people think and why. We might think the Bible speaks at length to these issues, but it doesn’t do so in the way that psychology does. The Bible makes ultimate grand objective claims about how humans work because God chose to speak exactly about what he wanted to speak about, that’s how revelation works. The Bible makes metaphysical, ultimate, ontological claims, which while they are true, they are far from human experience. It does speak to human experience like the psalms, but Psalms are not there for us to conform ourselves to David’s psychology, his prayers are opportunities for us to join him in the greater themes of the spiritual life. It’s a hermeneutical mistake to think that what scripture commends to us as worthy of our practise is not that David or a protagonist themselves are template for our psychology (when God shows us their psychology). That is not in the text, there is no license for it, and it’s just as assumption that people make.

The Bible makes claims about how human beings work and even though they are true, psychology describes more proximate causes and mechanism for human behaviour and cognition. Go read an article in the journal of experimental psychology and forensic neuroscience and cognition and you will see a level of detail and proximity to human experience that just doesn’t exist in the Bible.

For example, additions, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “no temptation….” That is an ultimate theological description of one aspect of addition. Psychology has found there is a very strong correlation between childhood abuse trauma and addiction, and the Bible doesn’t speak directly to the proximate mechanism of that correlation. So a theologian could give a theological account of that correlation through the lens of Scripture, but the theologian would need to  do exegetical gymnastics to claim that the Bible actually explains the proximate mechanism and gives a sufficient account of it. Not saying that the Bible doesn’t  say anything true or relevant to the addictions of adults who were abused as children, but whatever meagre collection of Bible verses speak directly and straightforwardly to this issues, whatever they may be, is far out  of proportion to the understanding of this phenomenon that we can acquire from the discipline of psychology which  offers 1000s of volumes  of journal articles unpacking every angle of this phenomenon, from the cause to the remedy. This assertion disproves no truly Christian claim, steals not anthropological real estate from the theologian.

In summary for this one problem, relating these two disciplines is difficult because of their disciplinary asymmetry. The concern of respective projects and source material and also in proportion to each other’s topics, which impedes the straight forwardness of the task of relating these two disciplines.

The Approach of a Good Pastor

Pastors should be the most positive person in the room. I get that in part from 1 Peter 1:2 which says Pastors are to be “eager to serve.” By positive I don’t mean they steer away from difficult subjects, or they just encourage all the time. But rather, they have an optimistic outlook because they are convinced of the power of the gospel, not because they avoid difficulty.

The pastors I have most looked up in my years of ministry were persistently encouraging AND had consistently high expectations of believers. By encouraging I don’t only mean in ‘word’ but in thoughtful planning and helping believers to meet the expectations. By expectations, I don’t mean man made rules, but rather the application of Scripture in the local church context.

Heavy shepherding is what happens when there is high expectations but not encouraging or supportive environment for believers
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To see the most growth in maturity in a local church, expect the gospel to produce the best possible outcome for every believer. Believe that the Spirit and the Word equip every Christian with what they need to live fruitful godly lives but know that this side of eternity it takes effort and work to be fruitful and godly.

There are many examples we could look at but readily in my mind I feel the sense of this very clearly from the following passages:

“Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required,  yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus” (Philemon 8-9)

“Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1)

“And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.” (1 Corinthians 5:2-3)

What passages would you readily go to that exemplify this ethos?

Book Review: Biblical Church Revitalization by Brian Croft

The rate of churches closing is unable to keep up with the rate of churches being planted in the West. Consider that reality. When churches close, a witness, a lampstand is removed from a community, leaving behind only darkness. Effort, sweat, toil, tears and sometimes blood brought that church into existence, and now where the Kingdom once had an outpost, darkness is left unchecked.

By God’s grace many church members resolve to hold the line and see life surge back into their fellowship. Pastor’s are often called to go in and lead the charge in bringing the church back to a place of effectivity for the kingdom alongside those faithful members. This is what revitalization is all about.

Brian Croft’s book “Biblical Church Revitalization” is about this work. What makes the book especially helpful is that Croft is not just an academic thinking about the task of revitalization, but one who has done the deed.

The goal of Croft’s book is to give a framework for why and how to go about the task of purposefully revitalizing a church. The subtitle, “Biblical Church Revitalization: Solutions for Dying and Divided Churches” puts that aim in the fore.

Croft writes with an easy style. The book is made up of three section, church revitalization defined, diagnosed and done.

In the section of Revitalization defined, Croft lays the foundation of the task as being the Word of God. That is the only true source of power for this kind of task. The pastor who leads this kind of effort needs to focus on prayer, preaching and perseverance. He warns against extremes that can exist in this kind of work, “both the purist and pragmatist approaches are not enough to sustain true revitalization”, and expands on both those approaches giving what I find to be extremely helpful paradigms to think in. I also appreciated his commitment to Biblical health of local churches, he writes, “Whether it is church planting or church revitalization, the objective is not statistical growth. The objective is church health. Certainly statistical growth is a desired consequence—more churches, more conversions, more disciple-makers, etc” and “a biblical objective would be a church ‘body’ that is spiritually healthy and increasingly marked as both ‘deep and wide’.”

His engagement with the text of Scripture in laying the values for a local church which help in assessing its health was something I appreciated, “The objective of church revitalization is simply yet profoundly a God-glorifying, Christ-centered, Holy-Spirit empowered, Gospel-driven and Bible-shaped church expanding, not by church growth techniques but, by an intentional commitment to a Gospel disciple-making ministry as profiled in the church of Jerusalem in Acts 2:42-47”

I found Croft’s qualifications for a revitilization pastor interesting. Following on from the standard characteristics mentioned in 1 Timothy 3, Croft from his experience suggest the following in addition, “Visionary shepherd, High tolerance for pain Respect and passion for the church’s legacy, Passion for multi-generational ministry, A resourceful generalist Tactical patience, Emotional awareness, Spousal perseverance”. It would be useful for call committees of church in need of revitalization consider these characteristics when looking for a pastor.

Croft then asks important questions as one undertakes the task. This is the diagnoses. Where should the effort be put, what are the causes of decline in the church. It is foolish to go into a work of revitalization, not knowing what one needs to throw their weight behind, what are the strategic areas.

Revitalization Done, is the final section. Here Croft shares his story of being part of the revitalization of Auburndale Baptist Church (Kentucky, USA). What did revitalization defined and diagnosed look like in his experience.

I love that the book is practical without being pragmatic, Biblical without pandering to tradition for its own sake.

It is a book I believe is more suited to a pastor than it is to lay people in the church. This is not to say that they cannot benefit, but the way it is written and some of the material will be uniquely suited to a lead pastor in that type of work. The average Christian serving in a church can benefit from the biblical ecclesiology reflected in the book, as well as the motivation for the goal of revitalization itself.

Defining Masculinity

A SINGLE DEFINITION OF MASCULINITY

A serious realist definition of masculinity would need to be more than a singular definition — it would need to be a single superstructure of concepts that explain the unity and diversity of male experience. The best definition of masculinity will maintain the ideal of the concept and still make space for the individuality of each man. To do this, we must first supply a single definition of masculinity, and thereafter unpack the complexity which makes this definition both match reality and workable for all men.

Our initial definition of masculinity will be this:

Masculinity is a man’s optimization of his capacity for fitness.

There are three simple elements to this definition — optimization, capacity, and fitness. Let’s consider them in reverse order.

Fitness

Fitness is the basic idea here — Fitness refers to one’s ability to fulfil a role or task and overcome barriers in the pursuit of a particular goal compared to other men pursuing the same goal. A high school student may be very competent in debating in his school’s debate club, and utterly incompetent in a debate team at WITS. In both scenarios, his capability to overcome barriers is made up of his immediate peer context and his debating ability, both cultivated and natural. The barriers before him are not just logical and rhetorical, but competitive with peers, testable with regard to his lecturer, and formative with regard to himself. His fitness is measured by his fixed capacity to make logical deductions and follow arguments, combined with the production expected from him by his competitors, lecturers, and self.

Capacity

Everyone has a ceiling of competence; we call it their capacity. This capacity is both fixed and flexible. A paralytic man will never run a 100m race in 12seconds, but he may find a way to strengthen his muscles over which he has physical control. The better I get at Olympic lifts, the higher the ceiling of my fitness grows — even if that ceiling has a set growth cap beneath Matt Fraser’s.

It is here that the diversity of men, from individual to individual, finds its abstract home in defining masculinity. Not every man has the same capacity for fitness. Fixed and flexible ceilings for capacity is how we account for diversity among men.

Optimization

Optimization refers to making something as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible. It is purposefully rising to the top of one’s flexible ceiling of capacity through pursuing fitness.

This is the GPS of masculinity. Fitness is to some degree an intangible concept, and every man has some sort of capacity. But optimization is always a choice. Optimization, then, is the proper domain of responsibility — it is the hinge upon which the futures “Great Man” and “Wasted Potential” both turns.

The clear weakness of this definition for masculinity is that it could be copied and pasted onto a definition for “Femininity.” This is also why masculinity cannot just have a simplistic definition but requires an expanded definition to fully grasp what we mean by “masculinity”.

An Expanded DEFINITION OF MASCULINITY

Let us consider how this definition really works itself out in an intricate and diverse world that accounts for every man everywhere. To do this, we must clarify the three facets of masculinity which make our singular definition possible. These aspects are, so to speak, what masculinity is made up of.   

The three facets of masculinity are: Maleness, Manliness, and Manhood.

MALENESS

Maleness is biological masculinity — this is, most basically, a man’s XY chromosome. In the biological aspect, a man’s optimization of his capacity for fitness reveals itself as the pursuit of the highest attainable strength, speed, lodging, sexual and hunting proficiency, and other body-oriented skills that are primal. These are the least complex capacities. This isn’t to say that one cannot pursue them in a profoundly sophisticated way, but rather that all other fitness relies upon and presupposes the basic optimization of the ability to overcome the highest number of physical obstacles. This is why Scripture especially connects the biological aspect of strength with maleness, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13 emphasis mine)

Maleness is fixed. There is nothing refutable about the distinctiveness of male biology from female biology. It is in fact the only God designed division in the human race (see Genesis 2-3). In this regard, maleness is the irreducible and crude evidence that the human species is divided along a single line — and not only are men men, but they equally are not women.

The distinction between maleness and femaleness is what allows masculinity and femininity to have the same definition, while differing significantly. That is: masculinity is a man’s optimization of his capacity for fitness, and femininity a woman’s optimization of her capacity for fitness. A man’s fitness is composed basically of a male genetic composition, from which the manly observable characteristics emerges — a woman’s fitness is composed basically of a female genetic composition, from which the female observable characteristics emerges.

Note that the formula is the same — the optimization of one’s capacity for fitness — but the variables are all different: male in one, female in the other, starting from different places, and running along parallel, but separate paths.

MANLINESS

Manliness is cultural masculinity — this is a man’s ability to climb a societal ladder and overcome more abstract barriers related to social wellbeing and existence. This fitness is fundamentally creative — touching areas like critical thinking, persuasion and problem solving. If maleness is the masculine genetic composition, manliness is the masculine observable characteristics — the aspect of masculinity which crosses the fixed biological with the socially constructed.

Manliness is the cultural understanding of maleness that confirms the legitimacy of male fitness and measures their value. Manliness is the set of games used to test, nurture, and employ the brute capacity of maleness. So, while strength lies appropriately within the sphere of maleness, culturally defined manliness may quantify to what degree that strength can be reliably incorporated with other fitness in the form of work, combat, or provision.

So I would say, manliness is a social construct, but so is an enchilada — and culinary rules have been adapted through practice over time to the unchanging palates of human biology. In like fashion, manliness is “relative” in a sense — its customs vary from culture to culture — but it remains accountable to fixed, unchangeable physical realities.

On interesting note, we can probably distinguish between two kinds of manliness — fraternal manliness and paternal manliness. These are two ways of looking at the same fitness. Fraternal manliness measures fitness relative to other men, whereas paternal manliness measures the usefulness of a man’s fitness in the sphere of his responsibility for his family and community. If we take the fitness of hand-to-hand combat, for example — with regard to other men, a man’s ability to fight with his hands is a primal motivation for other men not to disrespect him too much (fraternal manliness), while this same skill is a way of securing physical security for his family (paternal manliness). It is this paternal aspect of manliness and the responsibility of optimising it that makes sense of Douglas Wilson definition of masculinity, “…the glad assumption of the sacrificial responsibilities that God assigned to men.[i]

Cultural masculinity (manliness) is something the Bible is concerned with preserving, in fact breaking the cultural manifestations of masculinity is considered a sin. Note the law in Deuteronomy 22:5, “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.” And what I believe is the New Testament repetition of this principle, “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him,” (1 Corinthians 11:14). Both of these teach the adoption of cultural norms that expresses manliness, or at least not breaking cultural norms relative to ones gender.

However, the aspects of fraternal and paternal manliness are also seen in Scripture. Consider the appeal to paternal manliness in 2 Samuel 10:12, “Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God: and the LORD do that which seemeth him good” (See also 1 Samuel 4:9). Here the appeal is to men in competition with other men but with the purpose of securing physical security for their families and the cities in view.  Nehemiah 4:14 repeats the same paternal manliness idea, “… Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” We also see a more complex expression of paternal manliness in 1 Timothy 5:8 which says, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

On the other hand, fraternal manliness seems to be behind the commitment shown in Jacob when he wrestles with the angel (read Genesis 32:22-31), and a blessing comes because of Jacobs fraternal manliness, “Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (emphasis mine). Jacob earlier shows the cultural practise of brute strength when in Genesis 29:10 he singles-handily moves the stone off a well when a group of shepherds were waiting for more men to help them move it.

MANHOOD

Manhood is individual masculinity — this is a man’s making manliness his own. It is in his manhood that a man makes games for himself which optimize the fitness of maleness and manliness. These higher fitness characteristics are soft relational skills such as sympathy, empathy, humility, and self-confidence, as well as beneficial skills such as emotional intelligence, goal-setting, and recovery from failure.  

It is in this sphere that a man may also remove aspects of manliness ideals which are counterproductive to his manhood ideals. For example, a man may have made himself very strong through physical training (maleness) and winning physical confrontations (manliness), but this may be indicative of a underlying aggression that compromises his ability to be at peace with himself and with his family. Take for example the account of David and Abigail. David has been disrespected by Nabal, thus with his strength and speed (optimized maleness) which have been forged in war and combat (optimised manliness), he goes out to express fraternal manliness – to use these optimisations for fitness in wrecking Nabal. Abigail comes and pleads with him in great humility. This action has the effect of cultivating David’s manhood (individual masculinity) and he realises that he needs to tweak this instance these aspects of manliness that will be counterproductive (see the account in 1 Samuel 25)

A man may therefore seek to optimize the complexity of his strength (maleness) and physical confidence (manliness) by seeking emotional security. By doing this, he learns that in the same way maleness fitness characteristics do not measure up to manliness competencies (if you are strong but dumb, or weak but smart, you will lack a degree of respect and confidence – See Saul as perhaps an example of this, strong but cowardly in 1 Samuel 10). So also manliness fitness characteristics do not measure to manhood fitness characteristics— protecting and providing for one’s family, and winning competitive matches with peers, does not directly translate into being a good husband, father, friend, or person.

We see this idea in Scripture in places like Proverbs 4:10–15 which describes a father who protects his son by passing on wisdom, helping him build godly character, and teaching him to reject the lies and temptations of the world. This father protects not only his son but the generations to follow as the wisdom he shares gets passed on. Also, while the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:23 that “the husband is the head of the wife,” he quickly puts to rest any notions that this leadership allows for selfish male dominance. He completes the sentence with, “as Christ also is the head of the church.” The passage goes on to say that husbands should love their wives “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (verse 25). In addition, Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

In would be interesting in your reading of Scripture to see where this definition in its various substructures are exemplified for us. I think it is helpful in explaining and accounting for the standard realities of masculinity while allowing for individual expressions of it.


The concepts of this article are a reworking and expansion of an article written by Paul Maxwell. Unfortunately at the time publishing I have been unable to find the original document and have been informed it is no longer available.
[i] https://dougwils.com/books-and-culture/s7-engaging-the-culture/masculinity-without-permission.html (accessed 2020-09-06)

Psychology and Theology: Part 1

At least three things cause tension between Theology and Psychology, today I want to explore two:

1) Psychology and subjectivity.

Psychology[i] is a soft science. It is susceptible to philosophical influences because the target of its study is immaterial (the human mind). Even the most secular materialistic psychologists acknowledge that the object if there is such a thing, of study in psychology, is abstract.

Still, psychology finds legitimacy in studying the human mind based on the idea of “logical positivism”. Logical Positivism came into existence to fix the disconnect between philosophy and human experience. Philosophy was stuck trying to figure out ultimate reality, giving a secular explanation of it. Then on philosopher, Edmund Husserl suggested that we put a pin in that question and simply take for granted what is common to human experience as real. Psychology builds on this as well as pragmatism.

Due to these philosophical origins of psychology, there is a general avoidance of making claims about what humans are, how humans work, or any other objective claim. Consequently, psychologists tend to go from description to prescription. Psychologists will preform a scientifically rigorous study of human behavior, memory, cognition, perception, sensation etc and then another psychologist will make suggestions for clinical application in a separate paper.

It is this reluctance among psychologists to make objective statements about reality that makes it difficult for their to be dialogue between themselves and theologians, since theologians are primarily in the business of explaining objective reality.

  1. Theologians don’t like learning from psychologists

Theologians have an issue with thinking pragmatically. They are happy to make objective claims about reality and give the task of translating those claims into daily life to individual believers. This omission is comparable to the psychologists omission of dealing with objective reality. Theologians neglect the immediate reality, that is the subjective data.

Theologians have a legitimate reason for this, since the discipline of theology and orthodoxy is an objective field of study. The neglect of subjective human experience is easy for theologians since their source material and object of study is the Bible. The Bible itself needs no modernization, progress and integration. The Word of God is fixed, definite and authoritative, which is why it is an excellent source for theology. Science however is progressing, and modernizing, and thus dialogue between the two is difficult.

 

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[i] As a discipline, not including fields such as psychotherapy and psychiatry

 

Sandra Haag’s Story

The following is an excerpt from a booklet my mother wrote, she is now at home with the Lord after serving Him as best as she could. In her zeal for evangelism she mingled her story of coming to know Jesus with an apologetic against pretty much every major religion. I have removed the extensive apologetic section with a desire just to share her story in particular

I came from England to South Africa in 1962. In 1965, at the age of 16, I worked as a nurse at the Frangwen Maternity Home, where I met lovely Jewish people. They were always kind to me and appreciative of good nursing care.

I remember on one occasion taking an eight day old for his bris. The rabbi used to come to a house next door to the Frangwen where he would perform the bris. Afterwards he would give the baby a little wine on a cotton dummy.The name of one Rabbi stands out clearly in my mind and that is because the staff had a nickname for him. His name was Kopolosky but the staff called him Chopitoffsky. Later on in my search for God, the bris (circumcision) of Jewish males helped my faith grow in the one-true God of the Jews because I thought it could only be God who would lead people to cut a small baby exactly on the 8th day toprevent bleeding. Only God would know thousands of years ago before there were blood tests and medical knowledge that the 8th day was the safest for circumcision.


It was quite an experience being so young and watching babies being born seeing a caesarian section for the first time. Later when I married I had three of my own babies at the Frangwen, two boys and a girl. When the girl was in her sixth month she became ill and died. Her name was Karin and she was my second child.

She had croup and wasadmitted to thbe Fever Hospital, after a few days the doctor said she was well enough to take home. That afternoon I went to visit her with my sister Christina. She was in a private ward with a sign on the door saying “Put amask and gown on before entering”. My sister is an eyewitness to what happened next. A blonde nurse came from the infected wards, ignored the rules on the sign and went into Karin’s ward picked her up and repeatedly kissed her on the mouth and face trying to make her smile for her visitors. I was shocked and my heart sank at the nurse breaking the rules, because I had nursed at the Frangwen, I knew all about germs and spreading them andthe importance of barrier nursing. My sister turned to me and said, “Sandra tell her to stop it.” I said “No it’s too late. She’s already kissed her and if I complain now she might be unkind to Karin, and anyway she’s coming hometomorrow.”

The next afternoon I went to pick up my beautiful red-cheeked blue-eyed baby. Pushing her home in her pram I noticed she had a temperature and was ill. Within about 24 hours she had virtually stopped passing urine. My doctor sent a sample of her urine away for testing. The results showed she had an infection which needed treatment with certain antibiotics all of which had sideeffects. The antibiotic the doctor chose had the side effect of causing vomiting.

I tried so hard to make her well, and I knew if I could keep the antibiotic in Karin’s stomach for at least 20 minutes it would be absorbed into herbloodstream and then she could start getting better. I tried to shush her and keep her quiet so the antibiotic would stay in her stomach, but to no avail. Within 5 minutes she vomited it out and she steadily grew worse. I asked the doctor if I could bring her to his rooms every four hours so that he could give medicine in injection form, but he said she must go back to hospital, a paediatrician was called in, but nothing helped.

Daily Karin became weaker. One Sunday night I went to visit her. She was lying on her back. She tried to suck her thumb but was too weak. Her hand just flopped back on to the bed. She was too weak to grasp even a small rattle I held out to her, and then she started to vomit. I quickly lifted her up fearing that she would choke, and was shocked to feel how weak and light she was. She didn’t feel like my strong sturdy baby any more. I think it was then I knew she was dying.

The next morning my husband and I were called to the hospital. when we arrived the nurses must not have been expecting us because the curtains were not drawn around ber bed and there lay her limp little dead body under a sheet. I remember thinking that what only happens to others has actually happened to me, but my main concern was still Karin. I felt guilty because I’d let her retun to hospital and chided myself. Surely if I’d kept her home I could have loved her better?


The next day I went to see Dr Heitner and asked him where Karin was. I meant Karin, not the dead body. He said I must ask a minister or priest. I walked to the Roman Catholic Church and asked the priest for help. He said God had chosen Karin from a lot of children. This was just empty talk, it did nothing to fill the vacuum that was searching for truth. I thanked him and left. Outside was a nun, I ran to her thinking she would be able to help. She told me to go inside and ask the priest, I told her I already had..
My mother said nice things to me such as “Its all right love, don’t worry you can have more children”, but I didn’t want placating. I wanted more. I wanted satisfying ! I did not know God was using the megaphone of pain to drive me into my Faithful Creator’s arms. But who was my Faithful Creator? 


God made Adam and Eve. That means He made Karin and I too. I now know that in the Tenach (Old Testament) a gentile Ruth joined herself to the Jews by joining herself to Naomi, and that God even named one of the Old Testament Books after her, the book of Ruth. Only two books in the Old Testament are named after women. The other one is Esther, who was a Jewess. You know I used to think all the Tenach (Old Testament) prophets were Jewish and was glad to discover that Great men of God such as Abraham and Noah were Gentiles. It makes me feel more comfortable knowing God uses Jews and Gentiles. Integrity tells me there can only be one God. Is he only the God of the Jews? Then why did he allow me to be born? I know now that He promised through Abraham blessings would come upon all the nationsof the earth and that brings me a white gentile into the big picture.


All my life l’d been surrounded by white gentiles until I came to South Africa where I met black gentiles too. My parents and family, my school teachers, my neighbours were gentiles. In other words they were not Jewish or Christian. A mistake which is made by Jews and the world is that if you’re bom into a white non-Jewish family it makes you a Christian, except for Muslims. etc. This is not true. My father is an Italian Roman Catholic, my mother Church of England (Protestant) and my husband was Lutheran (Protestant). We had all been christened or baptised as babies or children. All this did was give us small doses of Christianity that stopped us from catching the real thing. As you can gather this is organised religion. I call it organised Immunity. 


I was 21 years old when Karin died and had only met 2 real Christians. They were different. The same love that is now in my heart was in their hearts. Love that is gentle, kind, merciful but trueful. Love that does not care about oneself but puts the other person first. I know this love is not human. If it were, the world would be a lovely place. The one and only Christian I’d met in South Africa had given me a Bible a few months previously. I went home to my flat in Hillbrow and although there were sympathy cards with comforting words they meant nothing to me, but the words I read in the Bible were empowered by God because they were alive, supernaturally alive. I read Thess 4:13″Brothers we do not want you to be ignorant about those who die, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope, we believe that Jesus died and rose again. So we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have died in Him.” Peace and Joy entered my heart as the Holy Spirit healed my hurting heart.It didn’t stop even when I put the Bible down. A supernatural power was with me, a voice speaking deep within my heart, words that loved me and Karin, words that as I walked in the streets said ‘Sandra look at the children in their prams and pushchairs, what are their lives going to be like, what suffering isin store for them.’ words that healed like cream on a wound and said Karin is in Heaven being loved by her faithful Creator. 


Yes, this is how I joined myself to the One True Living God of the Jewish people, through the kind and gentle Jew, Jesus.


By the way I don’t know if Karin died as a result of the nurses kiss or if the germs of the original croup spread throughout her body. What I do remember is the docior saying she died from bacterial shock. On a lighter note, a few days after she died my littie two year old son Warren asked me what insect spray was for. When I told him, he said, “Mommy, why đon’t they have one like that to kill germs? Then we could have sprayed all the germs and Karin wouldn’t be dead but alive.” We do know she is alive and in Heaven with herFaithful Creator.

Understanding Zechariah 14 – Part 6

Today is our final look at Zechariah 14 where we see the holiness of the Jerusalem to come. Verse 20-21 reads:

20 And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the Lord.” And the pots in the house of the Lord shall be as the bowls before the altar. 21 And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holy to the Lord of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the meat of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day.

This passage has the peculiar reference to bells on horses. A strange thing to mention. Well it would have been strange to Zechariah’s audience as well. According to Leviticus 11 a horse is ceremonially unclean. Yet in this new Jerusalem, things that were once regarded as unclean are now not only clean but holy. The inscription on the horses’ bells is the same as that on the high priest’s turban. Consider the original giving of this inscription:

The inscription on the bells of the horses is the same as that on the high priest’s turban! Notice the original context of this inscription:

“You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the Lord.’  And you shall fasten it on the turban by a cord of blue. It shall be on the front of the turban. It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. It shall regularly be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord. (Exodus 28:36-38)

The high priest in the Levitical priesthood wore a seal of holiness which took away the lingering iniquity of the people’s consecrated gifts. Now Zechariah sees a time when the most common everyday items would be as pure and consecrated as the garments that the high priest would wear in the holiest place of the temple (Exodus 29:29-30).

Clearly this has implications for New Covenant saints. The high priest’s holy crown which he would bear before God’s own presence prefigured the perfect holiness of Jesus our high priest (Exodus 29:6). Christ’s undefiled holiness makes the spiritual sacrifices of His people acceptable to God; but one day all our lives will overflow with radiant holiness. We will have not only the imputed righteousness of Christ, but we will be transformed to be holy as He is holy.

Zechariah then drives the point harder by bringing up pots and pans. The cooking pots in the temple are going to be as holy as the basins in front of the altar. Even the most common pot would become holy, holy enough that one could use it to make a sacrifice.

If this is all speaking about a literal temple, why then is there no demand for the strict distinctions between holy and common? If this is what Ezekiel saw in his vision, why is it not a restored temple as per the law? The notion that all things are alike holy (as Zechariah is driving home) totally contradict the idea of a literal millennial temple. E.B. Pusey writes well when he says:

“In this priestly-levitical drapery the thought is expressed, that in the perfected kingdom of God not only will everything without exception be holy, but all will be equally holy.[i]

Zechariah ends by saying, “And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day” some translations have Canaanite. The background of this is probably from Nehemiah’s day when Tobiah the Ammonite had storage rooms within the temple courts and the Canaanite merchants from Tyre sold merchandise in Jerusalem on the Sabbath (Nehemiah 13:4-9, 16, 20-21). With these considerations, Zechariah could be thinking about the pollution of merchants just as Jesus spoke against in the temple courts. MacKay explains,

“The mention of the Canaanite is not to debar any on racial grounds, but on ethical and spiritual. ‘Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life’ (Rev. 21:27)[ii]

Through this series I hope you can see that Zechariah’s prophecy is describing the removal of the present creation and the resultant establishment of God’s eternal kingdom.

 

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[i] E. B. Pusey, The Minor Prophets: A Commentary, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1950), 414.
[ii] MacKay, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, 319.

Understanding Zechariah – Part 5

Today is our penultimate study of Zechariah 14,  and we come to verses 16-19. This passage speaks about what happens to the Gentile nations after the climactic events of the previous sections.

16 Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths. 17 And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them. 18 And if the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which the Lord afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. 19 This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths.

Yesterday we saw the terrible end of the nations who attacked Jerusalem. There are Gentiles that are around after the Day of the Lord. Even though previously they were strangers and enemies to Israel and Yahweh, these remaining Gentiles now become worshippers with the Israelites. These Gentile surviving nations participate in a newly formed and ongoing celebration of the Feast of Booths. This pictures for us how the Old Testament Feast of Booths is wonderfully fulfilled and the depth of meaning behind it.

What does conversion of Gentiles to the New Covenant look like? It is not circumcision or the mosaic law’s ceremonies, but rather the worship of the one true God. The phrase “go up” in v16 is a term used of pilgrimage to Jerusalem. What New Covenant reality is this Old Covenant language being used to express? If we take it in a literalistic fashion, then it is a going backwards from what Jesus had taught (John 4:23). No, it is expressing the same thing John sees in Revelation 7:9, a great multitude that no one could number from every tribe, tongue and nation standing before the throne and worshipping the lamb (Revelation 7:9). John also notes that the multitude were holding palm branches in their hands (Revelation 7:9), which echoes’ Christ’s triumphal entry in John 12. However, it also fits in with what is written in Zechariah 14v19 about the celebration of the Feast of Booths.On the first of this seven day feast, the Israelites would, “take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days” Leviticus 23:30).

Why this festival though? Why is it singled out so? It is the last of the religious festivals of the Israelites, so in a way summed up the worship of the nation (cf. Deuteronomy 16 and Leviticus 23). It was also one of the festivals which aliens were permitted to participate in (Deuteronomy 16:14). At this time people would live in booths made out of branches to remind them of the period Israel spent in the wilderness and how God preserved them and kept them (Leviticus 23:42-43).  It was also a time to remember the Lord’s on-going preservation of them in the harvest (Leviticus 23:39; Deuteronomy 16:13-15). Thus, this celebration was a rejoicing in what God had done and what He is doing now.

Considering this double rejoicing it was a feast characterised by joy (Deuteronomy 16:14-15). That’s why the redeemed nations celebrate it with joy. We see here an eschatological significance of this festival as the former enemy nations now become worshippers and come together to give honour to their rightful King.

Most appropriately the text puts a harvest celebration in juxtaposition to withholding rain. In Chapter 10:1 we see it is a blessing and Christ Himself uses it as an example of kindness (Matthew 5:45). These things are withheld from the rebellious. In Deuteronomy 28:22-24 with withholding of rain is named as one of the curses God would give for covenant disobedience. Here that same curse is made over the nations since God rules them all.

T.V. Moore comments,

“In this future condition, the present mingled state of reward and punishment shall end. Now God sends rain on the just and the unjust, then he will separate the good and the evil, and render unto every man according to his works”[i]

To say that the nations who do not celebrate the feast of Booths will not receive rain is simply another way of saying that those who will not follow Israel’s Lord will not receive His blessing. Why is Egypt mentions especially? Andrew Hill helps:

“Egypt is singled out for mention, perhaps because it was the origin of the Hebrew exodus (of which the Feast of Tabernacles was to be a reminder, Lev. 23:43), and in the past it was a nation that ‘had suffered the most from the plagues at God’s hands. If it did not participate in the future, it would suffer again’”[ii].

In Isaiah however, we see Egypt as sharing in worship with God’s people in the future. These pagans must then be converted (19:19-25). In our passage in Zechariah, Egypt represents those who refuse to worship. In must be noted that Revelation uses Egypt as a type of Satanic world system which persecutes God’s people. The trumpet and bowl judgments of God’s wrath all harken to the plagues God sent on Egypt when Pharaoh refused to release the Israelites. In Revelation 11:8 the city where the two witnesses are killed is symbolically named Egypt. Why would Egypt kill the witnesses? It is because of the plagues which come against Egypt, including drought (Revelation 11:6, 10). Today the prophetic witness of the church is a painful reminder to the unrepentant that already God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness of men who supress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). In the future day that Zechariah sees, Egypt as well as all unrepentant nations will forever suffer the unmitigated plagues of God’s wrath ( cf. Revelation 14:10–11; 15:1; 18:8; 21:8; 22:14–15, 18–19).

If, however, this feast is speaking about a literal reinstitution of the Feast of Booths, Lanier comments:

Are these interpreters ready to accept the restoration of the Old Testament feast with its offering of animal sacrifices? During the feast of tabernacles, which began on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, daily offerings of animals were made by fire, 199 animals of all kinds were offered, “besides the continual burn-offering, and the meal offerings thereof, and the drink offerings thereof” (Num. 29:12-38). Among these daily offerings was “one he-goat for a sin-offering.” Jesus is our sin-offering, and if we go back to offering he-goats for sin-offerings we must reject Jesus as a sufficient offering for our sins.[iii]

It is a reading of Scripture as if Hebrews 9:10 was never written and the New Covenant had never come, “They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.”

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[i] Thomas V. Moore, A Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, Geneva Series of Commentaries (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1993), 313.

[ii] Hill, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, 270

[iii] Lanier 1965, 633

Understanding Zechariah 14 – Blog 4

The next section of Zechariah I will cover is v12-15. It reads

12 And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13 And on that day a great panic from the Lord shall fall on them, so that each will seize the hand of another, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other. 14 Even Judah will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance. 15 And a plague like this plague shall fall on the horses, the mules, the camels, the donkeys, and whatever beasts may be in those camps.

This forms part of a larger section that goes up to verse 19. In this chapter Zechariah describes how the Lord secures final dominion of the nations.

This verse is a flash back and bigger picture of the scene described earlier where the Lord comes to fight against Jerusalem’s enemies. His wrath is swift and gruesome as he destroys man and beast as they stand. A plague eliminates large chunks of the armies while the surviving warriors turn their weapons on each other in terrified confusion, obviously echoing previous Old Testament battles where God had done a similar thing in defence of His people.

God promised a rotting-disease-type of curse in the covenant curses made to Israel in the situation should they become disobedient (Lev. 26:16–17, 25, 39; Deut. 28:21–22, 25, 27–28, 59–61), this may be the allusion made to how Judah will have victory over her enemies. Now however those curses turn to Israel’s enemies.

There is so much military imagery in apocalyptic texts, and many anticipate a military conflict in the Middle East before the 2nd Coming of Christ. That however overlooks the deeper significance of related prophecies.

As I have already demonstrated, Jerusalem is a symbol for the church at the end of this age known as the tribulation: it is the church on earth, surrounded by enemies. Thus, the armies sent against her need not be the same forces as used in military campaigns, even though physical force may doubtlessly be involved.

There is additionally no need for them all to be gathered in one locale. Wherever the church is the nations will assault her. John saw a vision of these nations as they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city (Rev. 20:9a). The camp of the saints are God’s people preserved in the wilderness of this world (Rev. 12:6, 14), and are also called the “beloved city.” To oppose her, these deceived nations marched up over the broad plain of the earth. This warfare is recapitulated for us in Revelation 11:7; 13:7; 17:14.

The vision Zechariah receives and gives is that of total decimation and terror among those opposing God and His people. All their military materials are brought to naught as the sword issues from Christ’s mouth (Revelation 19:15,21). In their great confusion they destroy each other. Verse 14 brings in the thought, “Even Judah will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance”. At the end, the church faces her final battle. But as they are about to be overrun, the glorified church in heaven returns with the Lord in this final battle as the victorious armies of heaven (Revelation 19:8, 14). As was promised the earth they share the spoils of the victory, they indeed inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).