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Divorce And Remarriage: Four Christian Views [Paperback]

By H. Wayne House (Editor)
Our Price $ 18.70  
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Item Number 48603  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   269
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2000
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN  0830812830  
EAN  9780830812837  

Availability  1 units.
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Item Description...
When it comes to divorce and remarriage, everyone appeals to Scripture---but no one agrees on what it says. In this book, four Christian thinkers (J. Carl Laney, William Heth, Thomas Edgar, and Larry Richards) debate the more perplexing points. Each essayist presents his own view and critiques the others. Case studies apply theories to real-life situations.

Publishers Description
Divorce. No one likes it, but it doesn't go away. Even among Christians, the divorce rate continues to climb. How should Christians approach this issue? May Christians ever legitimately divorce? If they divorce legitimately, may they remarry? Not everyone who appeals to Scripture agrees on how we should understand what it says about divorce and remarriage. In this book, four authors present their distinct perspectives. Carl Laney argues that the Bible indicates that marriages are always intended to be permanent, that there is never a need for divorce and that remarriage is never permissible after divorce. William Heth contends that while there are legitimate biblical grounds for divorce, there are no legitimate grounds for remarriage after divorce. Thomas Edgar defends the position that Scripture allows for divorce and remarriage in cases of adultry or desertion. Larry Richards holds that Scripture, while decrying divorce and the pain it causes, points to a God of grace who will not condemn those who divorce and remarry. Such a sensitive debate cannot remain abstract, so a case study accompanies each position, followed by critical responses from each essayist. The result is a thoughtful, helpful resource for all who wish to think biblically about a crucial issue confronting the church.

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More About H. Wayne House

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H. Wayne House is distinguished research professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Faith Evangelical Seminary in Tacoma, Washington, and adjunct professor of Law, Trinity Law School of Trinity International University. He also leads Bible study tours to Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Rome, Greece, and Turkey.

Dennis W. Jowers is professor of Theology and Apologetics at Faith Evangelical Seminary in Tacoma, Washington. He holds degrees from the University of Chicago (B.A.) and Scotland s University of Edinburgh (M.Th., Ph.D.)."

H. Wayne House currently resides in the state of Oregon.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
An exegetical wrestling match - not for the faint of heart  Jan 7, 2006
The Rev. Fr. Johann W. Vanderbijl III

My mother divorced her first husband because he beat her repeatedly and severely. (He evidently did the same thing to his second wife, allegedly attempting to strangle her in front of my older half-brother.) She was excommunicated by the Church of England for doing so, an act that caused her to lose her faith for a long period of time. Nonetheless, she did get remarried to my father and I am the second of their two children. All this to say that I must admit that I approach any book on divorce and remarriage with a certain presupposition firmly in place - just like the four different writers. Perhaps it is best to be up front about the myth of total objectivity and at least be honest with regard to one's particular slant. Having said that, I agree with all of the writers that the Scriptures must be allowed to speak for themselves and in trying to find a solution to this very emotional and difficult subject one must strive to be as objective as possible, however hard that may be.

Some of the basic principles of biblical interpretation that I was taught at seminary involve:

1) a determination to use the whole of God's revelation (and to avoid like the plague the temptation to use only texts that support your particular view or, worse, to use one part of Scripture to contradict another - there are many forms of this, one of which is to assign the offending portion to a later redactor or editor and another is to repeat ad nauseum that this is the ONLY place that the "exception" is to be found, giving the impression that the "exception" may be explained away in one or other fashion) in an attempt to present a studied and balanced conclusion of all the biblical data (Edgar makes an excellent case in his reply to Laney's chapter on page 62: "Any adequate analysis of Scripture on this subject must be based on all the passages. All the passages must be allowed to speak and must speak in harmony with all the others. To interpret some as if the others did not exist, and to then use the resulting interpretation as the basis to deny the explicit statements (exceptions) of those not originally taken into consideration is not really basing one's view on Scripture. It is instead a selection of passages which, taken by themselves, seem to fit the interpreter's presuppositions and then using these to get rid of those passages containing specific statements contrary to the interpreter's presuppositions.");

2) a determination to interpret a passage within the larger and more immediate context within it's own historical sitz-im-leben;

3) a determination to prefer the most obvious interpretation rather than to perform amazing feats of mental and exegetical gymnastics to prove that some obscure meaning at the far end of the semantic range of the word in question is really what the author meant to say.

and 4) a determination not to base one's argument on silence. In other words, the fact that text does not say anything about a specific subject (either affirming or denying) does not mean that it is open season for interpreters to shoot down another's reluctance to be dogmatic. Deuteronomy 29:29 says: "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." That which is revealed is sufficient for us to live godly lives...speculating on that which has not been revealed is moving into areas where we may wander if we wish, but only with extreme caution.

Another thing to avoid is emotionalism. Just because my mother was divorced and remarried doesn't make it biblical. So it unhelpful to ask questions like: "Does God expect the battered wife to remain, waiting helplessly for the next outburst of fury? Does God expect the victim of constant verbal abuse from a spouse who can only prop him or herself up by cutting down the partner, to continue being diminished and demeaned?" (cf. p. 69) Questions such as these tend to cloud the issue and bring in more confusion than clarity. In short, we are to be as honest as possible and to avoid any form of deceit no matter how well meaning our intentions may seem to be.

Having said this, how do the four different writers (J. Carl Laney: No Divorce and No Remarriage; William Heth: Divorce, but no Remarriage; Thomas R. Edgar: Divorce and Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion; Larry Richards: Divorce and Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances) handle the biblical text in their various attempts to arrive at their respective conclusions? They all seem to agree that God's original intension for Man was for marriage to be a permanent bond between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:20-25). It is from the Fall on that their views on the indissolubility of marriage, impropriety in marriage (mixed marriages, adultery, abuse, desertion, and so on), divorce and remarriage go in different directions. St. Matthew 5:31-32 and 19:3-11 (the two times an exception is made with regard to ideal permanence of marriage) seem to be the field most fought over. Laney seems to put a lot of stock in the fact that the New Testament authors had different audiences...yet, when all the biblical passages (which really have only one Author) are used harmoniously and as complementing each other, this argument is hardly worth the paper it is written on. The absence of the exception clause in Sts. Mark and Luke is no different to the absence of the birth narrative in St. John...or to the absence of the Magi in all the Gospels save St. Matthew. Laney's argument (cf. especially his comments on page 199) seems to support a situational type of ethic in which the audience influenced the moral instruction written to them by the Apostles.

Each writer also references Deuteronomy 24 and they apparently agree that the law seems to be regulating the present practice of divorce. The fact that Jesus actually says as much in St. Matthew 19 is not disputed. It is the exception clause that seems to be the real stickler.

The comparing of Ezra 9 and 10 and 1 Corinthians 7 also seemed to raise problems as the writers struggled to deal with the historical situation leading up the act of "putting away".

What is interesting (if not bewildering, especially for the lay reader!) is the way they explore the meaning and semantic range of certain words such as "cleave", "put away", "not bound" and "porneia". Clearly their language skills are pitted towards their own interpretations!

Another particular beef of mine is how writers tend to use the Early Church Fathers or the Reformers to back up their interpretations. They either seem to indicate that there was perfect unity and agreement amongst these our esteemed forerunners or they write them off completely as having fallen into error if they do not agree with them or they use only one part of their interpretation while ignoring the other side of the same coin. Laney is a good example of this last tendency. On page 38 he writes: "While the church fathers held that divorce was permitted for adultery...they did not interpret the exception clause to allow for remarriage. This interpretation of the divorce texts remained the standard view of the church in the West until the sixteenth century when Erasmus suggested that the "innocent" spouse had the right not only to divorce, but also to contract a new marriage." In other words, it seems Laney is using the lack of teaching on the "exception clause" in the Early Church to support his view against remarriage. But he shoots himself in the foot when he adds: It is significant that those who had the closest contact with the language and culture of the New Testament did not regard the exception to apply to remarriage." Thus his own argument can be used against his view on divorce.

Traditions and commentators throughout the Ages are marvellous aids that help us in our search for proper biblical understanding and application, but they are only aids and should never be used (or abused) as evidence against the Scriptures themselves. Edgar speaks to this on page 136: "I do not agree that quotation of other's opinions is adequate basis for argument. They must be proven by exegetical arguments...Theology can only arise from an exegesis and harmonizing of all the passages on a given subject"

The writers of this book all claim to use the Scriptures. They all refer to and deal with the same texts, either in their own chapters or in their response to each other. And yet they still arrive at radically different views. None of them believe this is due to the fault of Scripture (although Laney's problem with the exception clause comes dangerously close) - they all blame the other's faulty exegetical methods. In this, they are most probably correct. Thus it is left up to the reader, bless his or her heart, to figure out for themselves, using the basic exegetical rules outlined above, which one of the writers deals most honestly with all the biblical data before them.

Without having read any other material by these four writers, I can only base my conclusions on what they have written here in this book. It seems to me that Edgar strives to deal most faithfully with the biblical text, steering clear of an emotionalism evident in Richards and exegetical gymnastics or outright denial as in the case of Laney and Heth. Although both Heth and Edgar allow for a biblical divorce (Richards seems to hold that both divorce and remarriage is wrong, but, as we live in a sinful world, we should simply seek forgiveness and move on - that may be an over simplification of his view, but that's what he seems to be saying here), Edgar alone seems to fulfil all the criteria for proper hermeneutics, taking into consideration all that has been written on the topic in Scripture, comparing the various scriptures with each other being careful not to make one contradict the other, taking into consideration their different historical situations, always preferring the clear meaning of the text rather than looking for obscure possible translations to bolster his view, and finally he does not base his position on the silence of some of the texts.

shows how easy it is to misinterpret this area  May 11, 2003
This book by evangelical Christians shows how easy it is to misinterpret this area of marriage and divorce. If you read this book and get confused, read David Instone-Brewer's "Divorce and Remarriage: The Social and Literary Context" for a extremely scholarly approach to trying to determine what these verses meant in the 1st century context. The whole teaching of the Bible can set you free. Did you know God is a divorce'? Do you know the reasons He gave Israel a divorce? It is all there but is seldom taught.
A fascinating book covering many beliefs about divorce  Apr 15, 2002
This book contains a debade among four leading Evangelical Christian theologians on the topic of divorce and subsequent remarriage. They are between a rock and a hard place, because they all believe that the Bible is inerrant and is the Word of God. Thus, it must be internally consistent, and error free. Yet the Bible clearly says different things about if and when divorce is permitted. In some cases, the Bible instructs some couples to divorce. In other cases, passages say that divorce is optional. In still other cases, it says that divorce is not permitted. Watching these four intelligent, devout, thougtful theologians try to harmonize the Bible's passages on divorce is impressive.

Unfortunately, they do not deal with the obvious explination: that the Bible describes an evolution of religous and cultural thought over a little more than a millennium, and we must seek our own answers today.

A polite fight  Nov 12, 2001
In some ways this book is incredibly amusing. The four writers hold radically different views (no divorce and no remarriage; divorce but no remarriage; divorce and remarriage for adultery and desertion; and divorce and remarriage under a variety of circumstances). They not only give one presentation of their own views but get to comment on the presentations of the others. You may come away from the book slightly light-headed, but the format ensures that no-one gets away without criticism. The funny bit is that, although the writers are all fundamentally opposed to each other's interpretations, they all go out of the way to be really nice about each other first. It's like "Mr X is an incredibly nice man and a good Christian - I am now going to show you how he allows people to commit adultery and leads millions astray."

There are a couple of dangers of having such a book. One is that you may be trying to decide which of the four writers is right. Don't forget the option that they may all have valid points to make, but that the truth might be a fifth explanation that none of them would entirely agree with. The second is that all the arguments, some of them finely constructed, may discourage you from being able to find the truth. Remember, just because some Christians make it sound complicated, doesn't mean that it isn't actually simple and understandable.

Four conservative Christian views  Mar 11, 2000
A well written book in which four sincere, intelligent conservative Christians extract biblical passages in support of four completely different views on divorce and remarriage. No consensus appears to be possible on this topic. Each of the authors's cases appear quite strong. A frustrating book if the reader is looking for a single belief concerning divorce and remarriage. An excellent review of the ambiguity of the Bible on these two topics.

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