Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Why You Should Read This Book" Section of "The God of Calvinism"

Moving on in our review of Louis Ruggiero's "The God of Calvinism," we come to a prefatory section entitled, "Why You Should Read This Book" (pp. IX-XI). Part of this section also appears as the reverse cover material.

The section starts out by alleging that Calvinism "maligns God's character," but then goes on to malign the character of Calvinists, suggesting that Calvinism will "leave you simply a dead husk built of theory, academic argument, and self-righteousness, held together by the glue of pride in and dependence on one's own understanding." This malevolent characterization of Calvinists is then illustrated by alleging that Calvinism has a deleterious effect on evangelism and preaching.

It is falsely alleged, for example, that if a Calvinist were asked by someone, "What must I do to be saved," the Calvinist would not tell him, "Repent of your sins and trust in Christ." Yet, I can testify that I have told people this, and I know many other Calvinists who have as well.

A.W. Pink, one of the Calvinists cited in Mr. Ruggiero's book wrote: "Christ merited and obtained the reconciliation of both sides, yet God is not reconciled to us nor are we to Him until we repent and believe. " (The Doctrine of Reconciliation: Conclusion)

James White, another one of the Calvinists cited in Mr. Ruggiero's book wrote: "Hence, I can freely and properly proclaim the duty to repent and believe to all, knowing that those who do so will be those God has drawn to Himself." (David Allen's False Accusation)

R.C. Sproul, another Calvinist cited in Mr. Ruggiero's book wrote: "
The requirement for entrance into the kingdom of God is to repent and believe in Christ." (Now That's A Good Question)

John Piper (also cited with respect to the Calvinist position in Mr. Ruggiero's book) wrote: "This means that in times of relativism (like our own), when people do not cherish objective, unchanging truth, followers of Jesus will be accused of arrogance. They will proclaim that Jesus has all authority -- because it is true -- and that everyone should repent and believe in him and become his disciple." (What Jesus Demands From the World)

And we could go on and on. Mr.
Ruggiero's accusations against Calvinists simply aren't true. In fact Calvinists have read the Bible and are willing to follow the example of Paul who told the Philippian jailer that he must repent and believe, when the jailer asked what he ought to do to be saved.

Mr. Ruggiero also makes another curious accusation. He claims that Reformed theology "rejects the power of the gospel in that it teaches that a person cannot accept it unless they are born again first." What a strange accusation. How is the gospel's power any greater under Mr. Ruggiero's system in which a person can accept the gospel without being born again? It appears that Mr. Ruggiero's system of thought might make man more powerful, but how does it make the gospel more powerful? It's not clear.

Moreover Scripture clearly teaches:

Romans 8:7-8
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
And again:

John 3:3-8
Jesus answered and said unto him, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Nicodemus saith unto him, "How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?"
Jesus answered, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, 'Ye must be born again.' The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. "
And further:

John 10:26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

So, I must respectfully say that it seems Mr. Ruggiero's assertion is hollow. Scripture does not ascribe to everyone the ability to please God, but indeed Scripture makes it quite apparent that in order to see the kingdom of God, one must be born again.

Mr. Ruggiero concludes the section by suggesting that the ultimate measure of any doctrine is this:
No -- a doctrine's truth is fully proven only if its adherents are seen to clearly demonstrate, in their lives and in their character and in their relationships with those around them, the sweet, joyful, abiding love of Christ.
Actually, a doctrine's truth is proven from Scripture, not from the behavior of its adherents. Imagine making a claim like that about a doctrine like "the existence of God," or "the doctrine of the Trinity." Surely, Mr. Ruggiero would not make such a claim in that situation, since he knows that there are many people who claim to hold to such a view and yet who do not exhibit the love of God in their lives.

None of this, of course, should lead one to suppose that I think that love for our neighbor (and especially the brethren) is unimportant. It is vitally important. If you do not love your brother whom you see, how can you say you love God who you do not see? (Sorry my idolatrous readers, you too cannot see God).

Nevertheless, the proof a doctrine is not the personality or holiness of its adherents. Proof of doctrine is determined by the one measure of doctrine, Holy Scriptures, as Mr. Ruggiero himself seems to admit in his "Introduction" section, which we will address next time, if the Lord wills.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Ergun Caner's Introduction to Louis Ruggiero's Book

Continuing my review of Mr. Louis Ruggiero's book, The God of Calvinism, I come to the foreword by Ergun Caner. I had previously analyzed the auto-biographical aspects of that forward (here) so let me continue on to discuss the substance of Ergun's statements.

Ergun writes:
Though this seems like quite a simple doctrine, in our overwhelming impetus for world evangelization, a new movement has arisen. This new form of Calvinism teaches that God created some (if not most) people for damnation. In short, God only loves a few.

Certainly this movement's leaders have attempted to state this in a more loving way, but their favorite texts, such as Romans 9:13, buttress their belief that God desires to create people to specifically go to hell.
Obviously, sending the reprobate to hell is not the only purpose of the reprobate. There were many unbelievers who are the ancestors of believers. What non-Jewish person can claim that their ancestors from the time of Abraham to Jesus were all believers? So, God has more use for the reprobate than simply in sending them to hell.

Nevertheless, God does sometimes have as one of his purposes in creating a person the destruction of that person. This is plainly taught by Paul:

Romans 9:17
For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
Notice that the destruction of Pharaoh was not an end in itself. As a result of the destruction of Pharaoh, God's name was widely declared and God's glory and power were manifested.

But even more, I'd go on a few verses more to this:

Romans 9:21-24
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Is God the potter? Does he have the power to make a vessel (a person) to dishonour - to build "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction"?

Caner goes on to describe what he thinks the thesis to Louis' book is:
His thesis is simple: in proclaiming that God's love is conditional, these new preachers have changed the nature of God Himself. They have changed His attributes. This is a vital distinction, and a pressing issue.
Now is as good a place as any to note that there is nothing particularly new about Calvinism. Perhaps Dr. Caner only recently became aware of it, but if he did even a modicum of research into the subject, he'd be aware of Baptists like Charles Spurgeon and John Gill teaching this many generations ago, not to mention the many non-Baptist Calvinists. It's hardly a new issue or position, either in Baptist circles (Caner is a Baptist) or outside them.

Moreover, who is making God's love conditional? Calvinists teach that God's election is unconditional and they take heat for it. Calvinists do not teach that God's love is conditional.

In contrast, folks like Caner teach people that "Jesus loves you, but ..." with the "but ..." being that God will still send you to hell if you don't do what he says. What love is this? A love that is conditional on man's obedience does look like a conditional love. On the other hand, a particular love for God's peculiar people (Deuteronomy 14:2 and 26:18; Titus 2:14; and 1 Peter 2:9) is unconditional.

God is the shepherd - he is the author and finisher of our salvation (Hebrews 12:2), saving us despite our demerit, not because we fulfill some conditions. The God of Calvinism is the God of the Bible and His love is unconditional.

Praise be to the Lord, the Almighty!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Louis Ruggiero's "The God of Calvinism"

Louis Ruggiero (aka LouRugg) has written the dangerously-titled book, "The God of Calvinism: a Rebuttal of Reformed Theology."

Ironically, the book has as front-matter before the (first) dedication "A Prayer at West Point Chapel." The prayer reads:
Make us choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be contented with a half truth when the whole truth can we won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when right and truth are in jeopardy.
Mr. Ruggiero does not make any commentary on the prayer, so it is hard to know whether he appreciates the significance of a prayer to God that God "Make us choose" something. Does Mr. Ruggiero believe that God can make someone choose something? If he does, then he's a compatabilist: someone who thinks that God's directing of men's choices does not take away the character of "choice." In other words, if the prayer is answerable in the affirmative, it means that a choice can be a choice without being a "free" choice.

The prayer is a very Calvinist prayer in that sense. It recognizes that God can make us choose things, while it remaining true that we choose those things. Once a person realizes that, a lot of false objections to Calvinism fade away.

Does this point render the rest of Louis' book moot? With God's assistance, we will explore this shortly, Lord Willing.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Two Ninety-Nines in the Hadith Literature

My friend Dr. White recently (September 28, 2010) mentioned two stories from the hadith that have a similar theme and use the number ninety-nine. These stories also came up, as I recall, in a recent lecture that Dr. White provided in his polemics class. Since one of the listeners was asking about the stories, I thought I would provide them here (not to endorse them in any way, but simply for easy references).

The Murderer of Ninety-Nine Men:

Sahih Al-Bukhari 4:56:676

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

The Prophet said, "Amongst the men of Bani Israel there was a man who had murdered ninety-nine persons. Then he set out asking (whether his repentance could be accepted or not). He came upon a monk and asked him if his repentance could be accepted. The monk replied in the negative and so the man killed him. He kept on asking till a man advised to go to such and such village. (So he left for it) but death overtook him on the way. While dying, he turned his chest towards that village (where he had hoped his repentance would be accepted), and so the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment quarrelled amongst themselves regarding him. Allah ordered the village (towards which he was going) to come closer to him, and ordered the village (whence he had come), to go far away, and then He ordered the angels to measure the distances between his body and the two villages. So he was found to be one span closer to the village (he was going to). So he was forgiven."

Sahih Al-Muslim 37:6662

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: There was a person before you who had killed ninety-nine persons and then made an inquiry about the learned persons of the world (who could show him the way to salvation). He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine persons and asked him whether there was any scope for his repentance to be accepted. He said: No. He killed him also and thus completed one hundred. He then asked about the learned persons of the earth and he was directed to a scholar, and he told him that he had killed one hundred persons and asked him whether there was any scope for his repentance to be accepted. He said: Yes; what stands between you and the repentance? You better go to such and such land; there are people devoted to prayer and worship and you also worship along with them and do not come to the land of yours since it was an evil land (for you). So he went away and he had hardly covered half the distance when death came to him and there was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment. The angels of mercy said: This man has come as a penitant and remorseful to Allah and the angels of punishment said: He has done no good at all. Then there came another angel in the form of a human being in order to decide between them. He said: You measure the land to which he has drawn near. They measured it and found him nearer to the land where he intended to go (the land of piety), and so the angels of mercy took possession of it. Qatada said that Hasan told him that it was said to them that as death approached him, he crawled upon his chest (and managed) to slip in the land of mercy.

Sahih Al-Muslim 37:6663

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying that a man killed ninety-nine persons and then he began to make an inquiry whether there was any way left for him for repentance. He came to a monk and asked him about that, and he said: There is no chance for repentance for you. He killed the monk also and then began to make an inquiry and moved from one village to another village where there lived pious persons, and as he had covered some distance, he was overtaken by death, but he managed to crawl upon his chest (to the side nearer to the place where the pious men lived). He died and then there was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment and (when it was measured) he was found to be nearer to the village where pious persons were living equal to the Space of a span and he was thus included among them.

The Man with Ninety-Nine Huge Scrolls of Bad Deeds:

(Saheeh Sunan al-Tirmaidhi, 2127 - source of translation below)

Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-Aas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: A man from my ummah will be summoned in front of everyone (at the scales) on the Day of Resurrection, and there will be brought out and unfurled for him ninety-nine scrolls, each scroll extending as far as the eye can see. Then Allah 'Aza wa jal will say: Do you deny any of this [i.e. your bad deeds]? So the man will reply: No, O Rubb (Lord) Then it will be said: Do you have any excuse or any good deed (to compensate)? The man, in a state of terror, will answer: No. It will then be said: No, indeed you do have good deeds and no injustice will befall you this day. So a parchment will be taken out for him, upon which there will be the Testimony of Faith: (Shahadah) There is no deity but Allah and that Muhammad (SAW) is the Slave and Messenger of Allah. The man will say: 0h Rubb (Lord), what is this parchment in comparison to those scrolls! It will be said to him: No injustice shall befall you. The scrolls will then be placed in one of the scales and the parchment in the other; the scrolls will be light in weight, whereas the parchment will be heavy."

Quasi-Interview with Carl Trueman on Rome as "Default"

Someone recently quoted Dr. Carl Trueman to me in this way:

“Every year I tell my Reformation history class that Roman Catholicism is, at least in the West, the default position. Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination… in the light of these facts, therefore, we need good, solid reasons for not being Catholic.” -Dr. Carl Trueman

The ultimate source for this quotation is a Reformation21 article from Dr. Trueman (link). Rather than trying to parse the quotation myself, since Dr. Trueman is still around, I asked him for his comments, which he kindly provided by email and gave me his permission to publish. The bold questions below are the questions that I posed to Dr. Trueman, but otherwise the material below the line is Dr. Trueman's response to my inquiry.

The argument I am making is essentially rhetorical at this point, aimed at evangelicals who have given up on justification by faith and the clarity of scripture. As these the reasons why Protestants could ultimately not be accommodated within the Catholic Church so, my argument goes, those who abandon these points have no real reason for continued separation. What then is left? Nothing but institutional continuity and the creeds of the early church. So these people should be honest, do the decent thing, and return to Rome, as Frank Beckwith did. And students in my class should understand that justification and clarity are vital, not just side issues. Yes -- we need good reasons not to be Catholic; and I have them.

Of course, it should be obvious that the fact I have not returned to Rome (or, for me, gone there for the first time) means that institutional/historical continuity a la Rome are of much less significance than justification and clarity. To use my arguments, as some have done, to imply the superiority of Rome to Protestantism tout court is nonsense; my argument is simply that Rome is superior to liberal Protestantism and the kind of woolly evangelicalism of those who think that scripture and justification are areas where we can agree to differ within the evangelical camp. Not so.

Now, to your questions:

Question 1: When you say "Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination" do you mean to embrace the idea that institutional unity and historical continuity are the marks of a true church?

Not for a Protestant. The word is central. But, if you don't think the word is clear, or that justification by faith is crucial, what's left of Protestantism?

Question 2: If we consider institutional unity as a standard, given that there were multiple apostolic sees on the Eastern side of the East-West Schism of 1054, and only Rome on the Western side of that schism, doesn't that mean that Eastern Orthodoxy is the "default position"? Likewise, since the Eastern Orthodox have not formally innovated beyond the 7th ecumenical council (contrast with the additional 14 alleged ecumenical councils of the Romans), doesn't the Eastern Orthodox church have the greater claim to historical continuity on a global scale?

Sure. But 99.99% of my students are either Western, or (as with Koreans) from a church situation determined by the Western categories of Roman or Protestant.

Question 3: Is the subject matter of Question/Answer 2 the reason that you limited yourself to "at least in the West" in the comment? If so, couldn't it similarly be said that in England the Anglican church similarly has the greatest claim to historical continuity and institutional unity?

No. Because Anglicanism breaks with Rome, theologically at least on the issue of authority, word and sacraments. So I see Anglicanism as Protestant and subject to the same strictures above.

Question 4: Is institutional unity more important than orthodoxy? If yes, then were councils like Nicaea and Chalcedon a mistake, in that they led to disunity?

Not at all. Unity is a function of orthodoxy (see Rom. 16 -- the divisive have wandered from the truth). But see my preliminary comments on the nature of my argument.

Question 5: When you speak of historical continuity, what do you mean? Do you simply mean that the differences between Rome's doctrines and the once-for-all-delivered apostolic doctrines have come to be gradually, and that the Reformation was a sudden move back to the apostolic doctrines?

I am using a virtual hendiadys, where one thing -- the Roman succession and the institutional unity it represents -- is described using two phrases, institutional and historical. Not primarily a doctrinal point.

Question 6: Do you agree that in discussing any doctrinal distinctive, the advocate for the distinctive bears the burden of establishing the truth of the distinctive? In other words, would you agree that it would be wrong to say that a dogma like the Bodily Assumption of Mary is the default position unless one can give sound reasons to reject it?

Yes. Though here you get into the differences over authority which devolve from rejection or acceptance of scriptural clarity. Reject it, you get the Pope, you get the later developments with no basis for rejecting it. Look at Newman -- he writes `Development' while a Prot, converts before it is published, and then is able to pretty much swallow everything Rome teaches and changes. He is consistent -- but thinks in a way far different to a Protestant.

Question 7: Is it fair to say that your comment to your class is intentionally provocative - aiming to be didactic in the sense of spurring the students to develop their thinking, as opposed to an attempt to strictly define a theological "default" position?

Yes. See my preliminary comment. It is designed to get people to sit up and think, to catch attention (while still, I believe, being true -- for all the reasons above). The fact that I am answering your questions indicates that I have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams!

Question 8: Do you have anything else that you'd like to say about this comment or its use by Roman apologists?

If I didn't have good reasons to be a Protestant, I would be a Catholic. But I am not. That gives some idea of how I rate the two systems. Having said that, I'd rather spend time talking to Catholic friends who think God knows the future than Socinians who call themselves evangelicals but reject the biblical understanding of God.

Compare and Contrast

Jesse Morrell: "If it were up to God, everybody would repent and be saved." (Facebook status on 11 January 2011)

Jesus: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." (Matthew 28:18)

Nebuchadnezzar: "all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" (Daniel 4:35)

It is truly remarkable to contrast the powerlessness of God in the synergistic system to the power of God in the monergistic and Biblical description.

Conflicting Gospel Narratives!

Steve Hays recently posted a similar item to his blog, and so I thought I would post something to my blog in a similar vein. What we have here is two accounts of Israel getting a king.

The first account is the judgment account, in this account having a king a judgment brought down upon the people as a curse for their rejection of God.

1 Samuel 8:4-22
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, "Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations." But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, "Give us a king to judge us."
And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, "Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them."
And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said, "This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day."
Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, "Nay; but we will have a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles."
And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD.
And the LORD said to Samuel, "Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king."
And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, "Go ye every man unto his city."

The second account is what I would call the mercy account. In this account, God is giving the king as mercy upon Israel:

1 Samuel 9:15-16
Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying, "To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me."

In this second account, the king appears to be a great blessing for the people of Israel, whereas in the first account, the king appears to be a curse. I guarantee you that if these two accounts were in two different books, we would be told that this was a Biblical contradiction. But the fact of the matter is that both aspects are true. The king was a blessing and a curse. The king brought judgment and mercy.

There is a third account as well, one that is almost neutral, although it tends toward the critical side:

1 Samuel 10:17-25
And Samuel called the people together unto the LORD to Mizpeh; and said unto the children of Israel, "Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you: and ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us."
Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes, and by your thousands. And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken. When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found.
Therefore they enquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come thither. And the LORD answered, "Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff."
And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.
And Samuel said to all the people, "See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people?"
And all the people shouted, and said, "God save the king."
Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.
And if this third account were in a third book, we'd probably be told that this third account was a later account that smoothed some of the harshness of the first account. But, of course, it's all one book.

There is actually a reference to this event in another book. That book is Deuteronomy:

Deuteronomy 17:14-20
When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, "I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;" thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.
But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, "Ye shall henceforth return no more that way."
Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.
Isn't it remarkable that this book, written long before Samuel (notwithstanding the notions of the higher critics who deny Mosaic authorship) predicted that the people would demand a king and set regulations for that king, even without approving their rejection of God! This is a great example of one of the prophecies fulfilled in Scripture, even before the New Testament era.

And how was that King to be educated? He was assigned the prefect of the congregation of the doctrine of the faith and two bishops. Haha! No, that's not it. He was given the Torah - the Scriptures. He was supposed read from them, and learn to fear God from them. That's because the Scriptures are powerful and instructive. Simply by reading them, one can learn the fear of the Lord. They are true and convey the Truth to the reader.

God inspired that great prophet Samuel (who had a house, and sons - sorry ascetics) to write at least the first ten chapters of the book of 1 Samuel (or so it appears from 1 Samuel 10:25). And regardless of who wrote the powerful words of 1 Samuel, it should be clear that there is no contradiction amongst the narratives. The Israelites rejected God and got what they asked for - a king who was a burden to them. Nevertheless, at the same time the king was a savior to them, to save them out of the hand of the Philistines. And both the salvation and the judgment were intended by God in the one act of giving the people the king.

So when we read "conflicting" accounts in the gospels, we should be careful to realize that even seemingly conflicting accounts can sometimes be reconciled. Consequently, we should not be eager to find contradiction, but eager to find the harmony.


P.S. I wouldn't be the least surprised to discover that some higher critic has already tried to suggest that chapter 9 is from a different author than chapters 8 and 10. Of course, criticism of 1 Samuel tends to take a back burner compared with criticism of the Torah itself, but surely some skeptical scholar has taken aim at some of the other books.