The Preface to the Second Edition begins, “Five years have passed since the publication of God, Marriage, and Family. The first edition of this book was published in 2004 and that Preface began with this statement, “marriage and family are good gifts from a great God” (11). That set the tone for the reader. The next sentence in the 2004 Preface reads, “Unfortunately, in our day the Master’s Manual is often neglected and even rejected.” Six years later, 2010, a second edition goes public (published six years later, five years of research). That a second edition was published six years after the first means a lot of information has been written.
Satan has incrementally eroded marriage and the family for a long time (Eph 6). The authors recognize, “we human beings, whether we realize it or not, are involved in a cosmic spiritual conflict that pits God against Satan, with marriage and the family serving as a key arena in which spiritual and cultural battles are fought” (15). Satan is behind all the efforts to dismantle any and every design by God. The efforts take many forms but to try to list all of them will only incite someone to say “you forgot . . .” I believe there are two major causes for the erosion of marriage and family. One, the theological learning institutions abandoning the authority of Scripture. Two, feminism.
First, the authority of Scripture is the key and when it is set aside other influences guide decisions. Most often societal influences have a greater sway, i.e., trends dictate belief positions. Think about it . . . that is natural. Learning institutions, especially religious, must ‘trend’ with the times or it is a plight akin to self-destruction; they will slowly fade out of existence. Fact be known, liberal institutions denial of biblical miracles and reinterpretation of the text were without any factual foundation. Their radical conclusions were based on mere hypothetical naturalistic premises that render the Bible’s supernaturalism impossible a priori. Think of liberal religious institutions like a ship without a rudder; the one with the most hot air has greater influence. Many, many churches are pastored by men (and women) who were taught something other than Scriptural authority.
Second, feminism should have been countered by theological learning institutions. The sad fact is that it is taught at many religious and almost all secular institutions. Feminism is not simply equal pay for men and women: If that is what you believe, perhaps it is one of the advantages of feminism. The ‘movement’ touches every aspect of marriage and family. For example, the wife’s relationship with her husband, with her children, the idea of one man for a lifetime, protection of the unborn, responsibility at home, preservation of life, roles at home and the church (not excusing men, stay on target here). This movement has devastated marriage and the family. I believe it would not have had the level of impact if theological institutions had remained faithful to Scripture. There are other causes for the erosion but these two are the major ones. The past fifteen years seem to have incrementally increased the moral effects.
The second edition is published with these additions. “We wanted to incorporate the many constructive suggestions for additions we received . . . a steady stream of publications on marriage and family . . . [address] controversy erupted on several of the topics addressed in our book, such as divorce and remarriage and singleness. . . . [include] certain smaller but important topics we did not explicitly or extensively address in the first edition, such as parenting teens” (13). In addition the authors address one movement that has grown “sometimes called the ‘family-integrated church approach’ that requires evaluation from a biblical and theological perspective” (13). A summary of new information is given on page 14.
Both editions begin with this line: “For the first time in its history, Western civilization is confronted with the need to define the meaning of the terms marriage and family (15). It is not that Truth has changed; it is always Truth. “Your Word is Truth” (John 17:17). What is happening is an overt clash of worldviews. A non-biblical worldview rejects the transcendent Creator who is personally active in nature and history and admits no external activity of God distinguishable from natural processes and human events. Scientific empiricism is the decisive test of reality and truth requires that one omit/denounce all personal divine reference. A biblical worldview is the opposite. The supposition, based upon Scripture, that a sovereign, personal God designed an ordered universe to function in a particular way, and the finest achievement of the creature is to discover that design and fulfill it. At its essential level, this design is not open to change or redefinition. God has revealed his authoritative will in a finished revelation to man, and each person’s task is to obey that will by fulfilling the appropriate role God has assigned to him/her in the overall design for creation.
These two worldviews are labeled “Judeo-Christian view of marriage” and “human rights, self-fulfillment, and pragmatic utility on an individual or societal level” (sometimes called 'humanistic') (15). The authors, however, recognize a worldview stems from something; it has a foundation. They note that the chaos in this issues “is merely symptomatic of a deeper seated spiritual crisis” (15).
The authors' foundation for all they write is the holy Scripture. They affirm this in three ways: “God’s Word is not dependent on man’s approval . . . Scriptures are not silent . . . the Bible offers satisfying instructions and wholesome remedies” (16).
Finally, we should ask, “Why this book? What does it do that others on marriage and family do not do? The answer: most other books on this subject are ineffective, in part, because of the “lack of commitment to seriously engage the Bible as a whole. The result is that much of the available Christian literature on the subject is seriously imbalanced” (18). The authors believe that many books on marriage are too micro in their treatment, leaving out instruction that “embrace God’s plan for human relationships in their fullness and completeness” (18). Translation, popular books are more “superficial remedies” than addressing the more broader issues like, “What does it mean for a husband and a wife to become ‘one flesh’? How can it be that, once married, husband and wife are ‘no longer two, but one’” (18). Hmm, I’ll wait to the end of the book to affirm or have a different opinion on this. I can affirm this from the authors, “It seems that the dynamics and effects of sin are poorly understood in our day.” The Puritans excel in this area; they had amazing insight into human depravity.
This forum is dedicated to the discussion of the book by Andreas J. Kostenberger and David Jones
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