Another Flaw in the Perfect-Harmony Theory Another Flaw in the Perfect-Harmony Theory Farr

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Another Flaw in the Perfect-Harmony Theory Another Flaw in the Perfect-Harmony Theory Farrell Till Inerrantists boast that the Bible possesses a thematic unity so amazing that it can be explained only on the basis of divine inspiration, but the facts do not support this claim. As we have noted in past issues, the biblical writers, like the theologians of all ages, often disagreed in important doctrinal matters. One such disagreement concerned Yahweh's willingness to forego promised vengeance when evil-doers turned away from their wickedness. The prophet Jeremiah taught that when Yahweh pronounced punishment upon a nation for its sins, the judgment wasn't necessarily final, for if the nation repented and turned from its evil, Yahweh would relent: Then the word of Yahweh came to me, saying... "The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it" ([ref001]Jer. 18:5-8 , NKJV with Yahweh substituted for the LORD). The statement seems clear enough, and inerrantists will even appeal to it to explain why certain Yahwistic prophecies appeared at times to go unfilled, as in the cases of the prophecies against Tyre and Egypt ([ref002]Ez. 26:3-14 ; [ref003]29:8-14 ). The solution to the problem is as simple as claiming that the nations prophesied against repented, so Yahweh spared them as he had done in the case of Nineveh ([ref004]Jonah 3:4 ; [ref005]4:11 ). In the absence of any textual record that these nations did indeed "repent," one can employ this dodge with at least a dubious degree of success and claim that just because the Bible doesn't specifically say that the nations repented doesn't mean that they didn't, but there is a story of national repentance recorded in the Bible that is impossible to harmonize with this theory that inerrantists have dreamed up to explain why Yahweh's pronouncements of judgment were not always executed. In this case, the problem concerns Yahweh's execution of vengeance on a penitent nation in flagrant violation of his promise to show mercy on nations that turned from their evil ways. Inerrantists tout Yahweh as a god who is infinite in all of his attributes. He is infinite in knowledge, power, goodness, mercy, justice, etc., etc., etc. So if his nature was to "relent of the disaster" that he had pronounced upon a nation that subsequently repented of its wickedness, then his infinite goodness, mercy, and justice--and especially his justice--would require him to relent for all penitent nations, wouldn't it? In one particular case, however, he refused to relent for a people whose penitence and religious reformation were perhaps unparalleled in biblical history. When Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, assumed the kingship in Judah, he "did evil in the sight of Yahweh" ([ref006]2 Kings 21:2 ). He rebuilt the altars of Baal that his father had destroyed, offered his own son in pagan sacrifice, and "did much evil in the sight of Yahweh, to provoke him to anger" ([ref007]21:3-6 ). He even put graven images in the temple ([ref008]21:5,7 ). So provoked was Yahweh that he vowed to destroy the nation of Judah: And Yahweh spoke by His servants the prophets, saying, "Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols), therefore thus says Yahweh God of Israel, `Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. So I will forsake the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become victims of plunder to all their enemies, because they have done evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day'" ([ref009]2 Kings 21:10-15 ). Manasseh's evil ways continued after the prophetic judgment was pronounced. He "shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another" ([ref010]21:16 ), and then he died, apparently a natural death, and "rested with his fathers" and was buried in the garden of Uzza ( [ref011]21:18 ). Manasseh's son Amon then became king, but he was assassinated after reigning only two years. In those two years, however, he carried on the tradition of his father and "did evil in the sight of Yahweh" ([ref012]21:20 ) and worshiped and served the idols his father had installed in the land ([ref013]v:21 ). Then on Amon's death, his son Josiah was made king and reigned for 31 years ([ref014]22:1 ). It was in the reign of Josiah that the phenomenal religious reforms previously mentioned occurred. The "Book of the law," presumably lost for some time, was discovered in the temple during renovation work and was presented to Josiah in the 18th year of his reign ([ref015]22:3-10 ). Upon hearing the book read in his presence, king Josiah, realizing that the commandments of the law had not been observed by his people, rent his clothes in a gesture of penitence ([ref016]v:11 ). He called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem and read the "Book of the Covenant" to them ([ref017]23:1-2 ). He then swore to observe the commandments and statutes of the book "with all his heart and all his soul" ( [ref018]v:3 ). There followed, as I said, a religious reformation that was unparalleled in biblical history. Josiah ordered the removal of all relics of Baal from the temple and burned them outside Jerusalem "in the fields of Kidron" and carried their ashes to Bethel ( [ref019]v:4 ). He removed from office all the idolatrous priests who had been ordained by his predecessors ([ref020]v:5 ) and burned their wooden images. He tore down all the ritual booths in the pagan "high places" and cast out their priests from Geba to Beersheba ([ref021]vv:7-8 ), put an end to human sacrifices to the god Molech ([ref022]v:10 ), and destroyed many other pagan worship sites too numerous to detail ([ref023]vv:11-15 ). He even carried his reforms into the northern kingdom of Israel, where he destroyed all the pagan shrines and executed all the priests "of the high places" ([ref024]vv:18-20 ). On his return to Jerusalem, he ordered a Passover celebration the likes of which "surely had never been held since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah" ([ref025]vv:21-22 ). He ordered an end to the cultic practices of mediums and spiritualists and the worship of "household gods and idols" ([ref026]v:24 ). The story of Josiah's reforms ends with this statement: "Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to Yahweh with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him" ([ref027]v:25 ). David was a man after Yahweh's own heart ([ref028]1 Sam. 13:14 ), who had done "that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh and turned not aside from anything he [Yahweh] commanded him all the days of his life" ([ref029]1 Kings 15:5 ), so if Josiah's godliness exceeded even David's, his personal character has to stand without parallel in the Old Testament. One would think, then, that if any nation were ever entitled to have Yahweh "relent" of the disaster he had pronounced upon it, Judah under the reign of Josiah would certainly have qualified. But it didn't. After all the reforms of Josiah had been described in detail, the writer of 2 Kings made this astonishing announcement: Nevertheless Yahweh did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him. And Yahweh said, "I will also remove Judah from My sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, `My name shall be there'" ([ref030]23:26-27). From this one can only conclude that it wasn't always true that when Yahweh spoke "concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it" that he would "relent of the disaster" that he had thought to bring upon it if the nation turned from its evil. Judah certainly turned from its evil, in terms of the biblical sense of evil, in the reign of Josiah, yet despite this national repentance, Yahweh refused to relent of the disaster he had pronounced upon it. One chapter later, the writer of 2 Kings concluded his book with an account of Judah's destruction by the army of Nebuchadnezzar. The repentance of an entire nation brought no mercy from the infinitely just Yahweh. So what does this do to the claim that the Bible is so unified in its themes that only divine inspiration can explain its amazing harmony? Inerrantists cannot argue that Jeremiah prophesied in a time different from the era of Josiah, because Jeremiah claimed that he received his revelations from Yahweh "in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign" ([ref031]1:2 ). Jeremiah, then, was a contemporary of Josiah, so if Jeremiah received his "revelations" in the 13th year of Josiah's reign, he received them before the reforms that began in the 18th year of Josiah's reign. Therefore if Jeremiah's words in [ref032]18:7-8 were true when he received them from Yahweh, they should have been applicable to Josiah and the penitent nation of Judah under his reign. But they weren't. Why? Perhaps some inerrantist will accept our offer of space to explain how that Yahweh's reaction to Josiah's reforms was consistent with the promise he had made through Jeremiah to withdraw his wrath from a nation that turns from its evil. Having seen similar offers in past issues repeatedly spurned, our readers probably won't hold their breaths until we get a taker. [ref001] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?Jeremiah+18:5-8 [ref002] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?Ezekiel+26:3-14 [ref003] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?Ezekiel+29:8-14 [ref004] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?Jonah+3:4 [ref005] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?Jonah+4:11 [ref006] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+21:2 [ref007] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+21:3-6 [ref008] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+21:5-7 [ref009] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+21:10-15 [ref010] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+21:16 [ref011] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+21:18 [ref012] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+21:20 [ref013] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+21:21 [ref014] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+22:1 [ref015] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+22:3-10 [ref016] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+22:11 [ref017] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+23:1-2 [ref018] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+23:3 [ref019] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+23:4 [ref020] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+23:5 [ref021] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+23:7-8 [ref022] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+23:10 [ref023] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+23:11-15 [ref024] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+23:18-20 [ref025] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+23:21-22 [ref026] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+23:24 [ref027] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+23:25 [ref028] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?I+Samuel+13:14 [ref029] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?I+Kings+15:5 [ref030] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?II+Kings+23:26-27 [ref031] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?Jeremiah+1:2 [ref032] http://www.calvin.edu/cgi-bin/bible?Jeremiah+18:7-8

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