Interview with Kathleen DeJong on His Mercy Endureth Forever: Psalm 136

Kathleen’s illustrations include both full-page paintings created with acrylics and simple drawings. Not only are the illustrations engaging, they serve the beautiful message of the psalm: God is faithful to his covenant people and to their children. To introduce RFPA readers to Kathleen and this new concept of children’s literature, we recently interviewed her about her illustration work and her upcoming book. Below is an excerpt from the interview:

1. Why did you choose to illustrate a psalm? Why did you choose to illustrate this particular psalm?
Psalms are some of the easiest Bible passages to follow, which works well for a children’s book. Psalm 136 in particular has a lot of beautiful imagery to make art from.

2. Were there any children that you especially had in mind when you creating your illustrations? What did you want them to get out of the book?
I had my nieces and nephews in mind. I want them to see how beautiful and diverse God’s creation is, from fields to mountains and the changing sky, and how amazing his miracles are, like the pillar of fire and just giving us food every day. His mercy endures forever.

3. What do you think is the benefit of a book that contains only the words from a Bible passage with illustrations?
Having this psalm illustrated gives you pictures to think of when you read it. For people who learn in a more visual way, this can even help them memorize the psalm.

4. Was there a particular message you were hoping to get across in your illustrations?
I wanted to get across the scope of God’s creation in many of the illustrations, which I hope I did by keeping the people small and the backgrounds large and colorful. God’s creation is so vast and complex, and yet he made us the objects of his love. For this and all the other things he has done for us we live gratefully every minute.
Retail: $13.95 
36 pages | hardcover
This will make a great Christmas gift!
Available mid-December 2018
 

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Guess what finally came in?

We are SO excited that T is for Tree is finally here!

If you haven't ordered a copy already, you will want to order one! https://bit.ly/2FF3cuD

This alphabet book, written and illustrated by Connie L. Meyer, is a collection of Bible passages, short rhymes, and detailed illustrations designed to teach young children of their heavenly Father’s almighty power and his faithfulness to fulfill the promises he makes to them as children of his covenant. Use this book to instruct your children in the truths of salvation for all of God’s people and especially his littlest lambs.

  • 32 pages
  • hardcover
  • ISBN 978-1-944555-27-6
  • Retail: $17.95
  • Book Club USA: $11.67 | Book Club International: $12

Endorsements:

"Share this lovely ABC book with your youngest children. Mrs. Meyer’s colorful, detailed illustrations please the eyes; her simple, rhyming verses gratify the ears; and the selected scripture texts delight the soul. What better way to introduce our little ones to the alphabet than with the word of him who is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last?"

—Sarah Mowery, children’s and youth literature reviewer for Perspectives in Covenant Education

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

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The Bible and Israel (3)

Having identified the significance of the nation of Israel and having explained the meaning of Jew in the Bible, we move on to another important question—who are the children of Abraham?

Abraham is the father of the faithful, that is, the spiritual father of those who believe. Obviously, the Jews, as they call themselves, claim Abraham as their father: they boast physical and religious descent from him. This was so in the days of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ, but they both repudiated the claim of the unbelieving Jews: “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matt. 3:9). “If ye were the children of Abraham, ye would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39). Paul makes the same assertion in Romans 9:6, 8: “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel… They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.”

Within Israel, even in the days of Christ, there were children of Israel or children of Abraham. And they were found in the most unlikely places! About Zacchaeus, the despised tax collector, Jesus declared, “he also is a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:9); about a crippled woman, whom he healed on the Sabbath, Jesus testified, “this women, being a daughter of Abraham...” (Luke 13:16); about Nathaniel, Jesus exclaimed, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile” (John 1:47), clearly implying that not all Israelites were Israelites indeed—some were Israelites in name only! Others, such as the high priest, Caiaphas, or Judas Iscariot, and indeed the majority of the citizens of Israel, were not children of Abraham, Jews or Israelites at all! The same thing is true of the citizens of the modern State of Israel.

The apostle Paul develops the concept “children of Abraham” or even “seed of Abraham” at some length, and makes it very clear that the children or seed of Abraham include all those who belong to Jesus Christ and who make up what we call in the New Testament the “church.”  For this reason—wonder of wonders—believing Gentiles are also children of Abraham and partakers of the promises of Abraham!

We begin in the book of Romans. We have already seen that Paul restricts the term “Israel” to the elect Jews, excluding the reprobate from the number (Rom. 9:6-8). In verse 23 of the same chapter, having developed the subject of election and reprobation at some length, Paul writes, “that [God] 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.”  

Now, notice how Paul proves his point that God elects and calls his people from the Jews and Gentiles. He quotes from the prophet Hosea: “As he saith also in Osee” (v. 25). This is a quotation from Hosea 2:23 and 1:10: “And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God” (Hosea 2:23). “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God” (Hosea 1:10).

How shall the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea? The answer is—by the gathering of the Gentiles!

Peter also quotes Hosea in 1 Peter 2:10, applying it to the gathering of the Gentiles. In other words, believing Gentiles gathered with believing Jews into the church in the New Testament age are called “the children of the living God” (v. 26) and “the children of Israel” (v. 27). The ethnic, unbelieving Jews, no matter what their genealogical pedigree might be, are not the children of God, not the children of the promise, not Israel and not Jews!

I hope you are beginning to see the implications of this. Whatever God may have promised the Jews in the Old Testament, he did not (emphatically he did not) promise that to the reprobate, unbelieving majority in Israel, the “of Israel,” but only to the elect; and if a person can legitimately claim to be a Jew, an Israelite, an Israelite indeed, a child of Abraham, as all believing Christians can do, as we have seen, he or she can legitimately claim all the promises of God. And we do! No promises were ever made to the reprobate carnal seed; and therefore the reprobate carnal seed has no right to expect any blessings from God. 

But does this mean that God has finished with the Jews, those whose ethnicity is Jewish? No, for Romans 11 teaches that throughout the New Testament age God is gathering a remnant of elect, believing Jews. Paul himself is proof of this, for he was an ethnic Jew (v. 1). God's decree of election and reprobation is being worked out among the Jews: “there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (v. 5); “the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded [hardened]” (v. 7). Throughout the New Testament age, elect Jews and elect Gentiles are engrafted into the organism of God, which is fundamentally Christ himself (see John 15).

Paul explains God's purposes with the physical descendants of Israel: “blindness [or sovereign hardening] in part is happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved” (vv. 25-26). This does not mean that after the Gentiles have been gathered, God will return to his “programme with the Jews” (which supposedly has been postponed for some 2,000 years), but that in the way of gathering the elect Gentiles and (at the same time) a remnant from the Jews “all Israel shall be saved.” The word “so” in verse 26 does not mean “then,” but “in this way.” Romans 11 says nothing about a reconstituted Jewish state, a rebuilt temple or a mass conversion of ethnic Jews just prior to the second coming of Christ. Believing Jews and Gentiles together make up the church of Jesus Christ throughout the New Testament age. There is not, and there never shall be, another way of salvation. 

Before we leave the book of Romans, we examine chapter 4. There, explicitly, Paul teaches that the uncircumcision (a term used of the Gentiles) are the children of Abraham through faith in Jesus Christ. Abraham is “the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised” (v. 11). In fact, Paul repudiates the notion that those who are “of the law” (those who rely on their obedience to the law to be saved, i.e., unbelieving Jews) are the heirs of the promise: “if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect... Therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all” (vv. 14, 16).

Do you believe in Jesus Christ? You are a child, a son or a daughter, of Abraham, and therefore a child of God. Unlike the unbelieving, Christ-rejecting, ethnic Jews, we may legitimately claim Abraham as our father, and with him we may claim all the promises made to him (including inheriting the world, v. 13). 

Next time (DV), we continue our explanation by examining Paul’s teaching on the seed of Abraham in his epistle to the Galatians.

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This post was written by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland stationed in Limerick, Republic of Ireland. 

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Other articles:

The Bible and Israel (1)

The Bible and Israel (2)

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The Bible and Israel (2)

In our first blog post, we demonstrated the status of Israel as a nation is not a political but a theological and exegetical matter. Whatever your political views concerning the Middle Eastern “peace process,” the Bible clearly defines who or what Israel is. We also demonstrated that, while many Christians, mostly of premillennial dispensational persuasion, view the “land promise” to Abraham as yet to be fulfilled, Abraham himself understood it very differently, although he never possessed the land, “no, not so much as to set his foot on” (Acts 7:5). He, despite living in the Old Testament, “spiritualized” the land promise (Heb. 11:13-16), and so should we.

The Teaching of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ—Who is a Jew?

When Christ, and before him, John the Baptist, arrived on the scene, Israel was under Roman occupation. Many of the Jews expected the Messiah to come, to expel the infidel Romans, and set up an earthly, carnal kingdom in Jerusalem. Many premillennial dispensational Christians still expect the same thing—after the church has been taken away in the so-called rapture! In fact, leading premillennial dispensational theologians teach that Christ’s initial purpose in coming to Israel was to offer to the Jews an earthly kingdom. When they rejected Christ’s offer and even crucified him, God used it for the salvation of the Gentiles, saving the Gentiles through the blood of the cross. Presumably, then, if the Jews had accepted Christ’s offer, there would have been no cross!

John the Baptist was sent as a forerunner to the Jews, exactly because the people needed to be prepared spiritually for the arrival of the Messiah. The people of Israel had become carnal, unbelieving, and self-righteous, a people proud of their ethnic heritage who had to be shaken out of their security and called to repentance. John said to the Jews of his day: “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matt. 3:9). Ethnic Jewishness, warned John, is no indication of salvation or participation in the kingdom of God. Jesus is even more explicit: “If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham... Ye are of your father the devil” (John 8:39, 44). Jesus even declared to fruitless Israel, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matt. 21:43). What that other “nation” was will be explained in future blog posts.

Both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, neither of whom could be labelled as anti-Semitic, teach that to be a physical descendant of Abraham does not make one a true child of Abraham or a true Jew. “Jewishness” is a spiritual, not an ethnic or a political, concept. 

The Teaching of Paul—Who is a Jew?

Paul, another who is no anti-Semite and who is apostle to the Gentiles makes the same kinds of assertions. In Romans 2:28-29, Paul writes, “He is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh, but he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Take Benjamin Netanyahu, the current prime minister of Israel. According to Paul’s—and the Holy Spirit’s—definition of a Jew, Netanyahu is not a Jew. Take the most prestigious, most religious, most orthodox Rabbi who teaches in the leading synagogue of Jerusalem. That rabbi is not a Jew either. Take, on the other hand, a Christian who has never been to Israel, who has no Jewish blood whatsoever, and who is a “Gentile of the Gentiles.” He is, according to Paul’s—and the Holy Spirit’s—definition in Romans 2:28-29 a true Jew. Reader, whatever nationality or ethnicity you may have, if you believe in Jesus Christ you are a Jew! You will inherit all the promises of Abraham, while the ethnic, but unbelieving, physical descendants of Abraham shall be cast out.

Listen to the words of Jesus: “I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:11-12).

In Romans 9, Paul addresses the question: If God promised to save Israel, and if salvation is found only in Christ, why have so many Israelites stumbled at the gospel and perished? Paul's response is not to deny God’s promise, but to clarify or define the meaning of Israel. When God promised to save “Israel,” what did he mean?  “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect, for they are not all Israel which are of Israel. Neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children, but in Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Rom. 9:6-8). Do you see what Paul is teaching here? There are two kinds of people. First, there are the “of Israel.” These people belong in an external sense to the family of Abraham, to his descendants, and to the nation of Israel. Second, there is “Israel.” These people are the elect, the chosen of God, and the ones to whom God promises and gives salvation. The ones who are merely “of Israel” do not really belong to Israel. They are not Israel, writes Paul.

In other words, none of the reprobate in Israel were truly Israel; they were not counted for the seed; and they were not Jews—when they perished, Israel did not perish. When David’s son Absalom perished, an Israelite did not perish, for Absalom did not belong to Israel, even though he was a physical son of David! The same truth applies in every age. The reprobate Jews living in Jerusalem today are not Israel; they are not the children of God; they are not Jews.

In Philippians 3:2-3 the Jewish apostle to the Gentiles writes, “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.”  By these terms, the apostle refers to the unbelieving Jewish heretics who taught that salvation depends on circumcision and on keeping the Law of Moses. Paul does not call them “Jews.” He calls them “the concision,” which is an allusion to the word circumcision—it means mutilation! The circumcision of unbelieving Israelites, and especially of the Judaizers, is not a sign and seal of the righteousness of faith (see Romans 4:11), but is a worthless mutilation of the flesh, of no spiritual value whatsoever!  Paul defines who the truly circumcised are in verse 3: “for we are the circumcision,” where the pronoun “we” is a reference to all believers in Jesus Christ. In the context of Philippi, it is a reference to Gentile believers in Jesus Christ: “We—Gentile believers in Jesus Christ—are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Thus, unbelieving “Jews” are really mutilators of the flesh, while believing Christians, of whatever ethnic origin, are Jews, for they (unlike the so-called Jews) have the spiritual reality of which circumcision was a sign and seal—they have the righteousness of faith and they are circumcised in the heart, or regenerated.

One other passage from Paul is Colossians 2, in which passage the apostle counters those who sought to persuade the Gentile Christians in Colosse to be circumcised. Notice how he argues—you are already circumcised, he says! The unbelieving Jewish heretics urged physical circumcision, but the Christians in Colosse had “the circumcision made without hands” (v. 11). Christ himself had circumcised the Colossians with an inner, spiritual, cleansing circumcision—why, then, should they seek physical circumcision? If Christ had put away “the body of the sins of the flesh” (v. 11), they did not need the Jew’s knife to cut off the flesh of their foreskin! Besides that, they had water baptism, which was a sign and seal to them of the washing away of their sins by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ (v. 12). Without the Jewish rite, they were “complete in [Christ]” (v. 10).

Are modern unbelieving Jews, living in the modern state of Israel, any different from the evil workers and concision mentioned here in Philippians 3 or the heretics alluded to in Colossians 2? Not at all! Indeed, the application is broader—all who teach and promote justification by works, of whatever religion or church, are dogs, evil workers and the concision; while all who embrace justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone are the true circumcision, the true Jews, the true Israelites, and truly Israel! 

The Teaching of the Book of Revelation—Who is a Jew?

In Revelation 2-3, the ascended Lord Jesus Christ sends messages to seven churches existing in Asia Minor in the first century AD, churches consisting of believers from Jewish and Gentile backgrounds. To the church in Smyrna the ascended Christ declares, “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” (Rev. 2:9). To the church in Philadelphia Christ says something similar: “Behold I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee” (Rev. 3:9). Here, then, is the assessment of the Lord Jesus Christ himself: the unbelieving Jews lie when they claim to be Jews. They are not Jews, but they belong to the synagogue of Satan, the accuser of the brethren and the adversary of God.

These words are not anti-Semitic—they are holy, inspired scripture! A true Jew is a believing Christian, circumcised in the heart, and, therefore, he is a true child of Abraham. To that question—the identity of the true children of Abraham—we turn next time, DV.

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This post was written by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland stationed in Limerick, Republic of Ireland. 

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The Bible and Israel (1)

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READ KNOW GROW

READ KNOW GROW
“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” 1 Timothy 4:13.

#ReadRFPAbooks

“In his inscrutable wisdom God determined from all eternity that he would be revealed to his people through the Bible, his written revelation, the entirety of which we new dispensation believers now have in our hands. And the Bible as a written revelation must be read. God could have revealed himself savingly in Jesus Christ through some other means, but he determined that he would be revealed through a written revelation that must be read. That the revelation of God comes to us in a book with words that are written and must be read is the proof that reading has a significant place in God’s covenant… The necessity and urgency of reading in the covenant is indisputable and could not be emphasized too strongly” (Rev. Brian Huizinga, Standard Bearer, Vol 90, Issue 6, 12/15/2014).

The world we live in is filled with digital technology that can easily distract us and quickly consume much of our time. Using digital technology requires very little effort of our minds, shrinking our attention spans and discouraging us from reading anything which is not brief or easily skimmed. But we are called to read scripture and good, Reformed literature—reading that requires deep and critical thinking. Therefore we must constantly remind one another to read! We must encourage each other to persevere in our reading! May we be a people who understand the importance of reading good Reformed literature and who actively encourage our friends and family members to read! See our complete book selection at rfpa.org.

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I is for Ice

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC

written and illustrated by Connie L. Meyer

The unifying theme of T is for Tree is God’s promises to his people and his almighty power to fulfill those promises.


One of the most important reasons the author chose to write an ABC book was to introduce young children to a variety of Bible texts.

Using twenty-six letters of the English alphabet, children will learn about topics ranging from the rainbow as the sign of the covenant, to God’s directive hand in the hearts of earthly kings, to the promise to God’s people of eternal life with him in Zion.

After each letter of the alphabet is introduced, children read a rhyme that is  limited to three lines. The Bible texts included on each page can be read as a child’s   attention grows and allows.

A wide variety of colorful illustrations will capture the attention of young children as they listen to the words that are read to them.

 

“He casteth forth his ice like
morsels: who can stand before his cold?”
—Psalm 147:17
________

I is for Ice

Cast out across the land.
Our God sends forth his bitter cold.
Before it, who can stand?

* This book will not be automatically sent to RFPA book club members. You must preorder this title to receive it.

** Book club members' discount and free shipping will apply, however, when they order this title.

 

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"Share this lovely ABC book with your youngest children"

The Reformed Free Publishing Association is pleased to present T is for Tree: A Bible ABC book written and illustrated by returning author and illustrator Connie L. Meyer. Connie is the author of the book Gottschalk: Servant of God published in November 2015. The expected release date of this title is January/February 2018.

 

"Share this lovely ABC book with your youngest children. Mrs. Meyer’s colorful, detailed illustrations please the eyes, her simple, rhyming verses gratify the ears, and the selected scripture texts delight the soul. What better way to introduce our little ones to the alphabet than with the word of him who is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last?"—Sarah Mowery, Children's & Youth literature reviewer for the Perspectives in Covenant Education magazine

 

T is for Tree

written and illustrated by Connie L. Meyer

The unifying theme of T is for Tree is God’s promises to his people and his almighty power to fulfill those promises. Using twenty-six letters of the English alphabet, children will learn about topics ranging from the rainbow as the sign of the covenant, to God’s directive hand in the hearts of earthly kings, to the promise to God’s people of eternal life with him in Zion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


One of the most important reasons the author chose to write an ABC book was to introduce young children to a variety of Bible texts. After each letter of the alphabet is introduced, children read a rhyme that is limited to three lines. The Bible texts included on each page can be read as a child’s attention grows and allows. A wide varies of colorful illustrations will capture the attention of young children as they listen to the words that are read to them.

 

T is for TREE
That grows where waters flow,
With leaves that never wither;
A blessed man is so.

"Blessed is the man...[whose] delight is in the law of the Lord…And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."—Psalm 1:1–3

 

PREORDER

This book will not be automatically sent to RFPA book club members. You must preorder this title to receive it. Book club members' discount and free shipping will apply, however, when they order this title.

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Taking Scripture Seriously

‘Both sides take the Bible seriously.’ This is a common claim heard in the debates about women-in-office and homosexuality. Christians who favor the approval of women-in-office and of homosexuality make this statement in order to establish their views as legitimate interpretations of the Bible. So they make it appear that they and their opponents are the same in that both take Bible seriously. But even if those who approve of women-in-office and homosexuality do take the Bible seriously, whatever that may mean, their view and approach to Scripture must be recognized as radically different from those who believe the Bible prohibits women-in-office and condemns homosexuality.

In 2002 JI Packer walked out of an ecclesiastical assembly in protest over a decision by that assembly that gave approval to homosexual unions. In this 2003 article in Christianity Today Packer explained why he walked out of the assembly. I only share with you his explanation of how the two sides have radically different views of Scripture. After reading the second paragraph I immediately thought of Rob Bell. Here is what Packer wrote about the two views of Scripture,

One is the historic Christian belief that through the prophets, the incarnate Son, the apostles, and the writers of canonical Scripture as a body, God has used human language to tell us definitively and transculturally about his ways, his works, his will, and his worship. Furthermore, this revealed truth is grasped by letting the Bible interpret itself to us from within, in the knowledge that the way into God's mind is through that of the writers. Through them, the Holy Spirit who inspired them teaches the church. Finally, one mark of sound biblical insights is that they do not run counter to anything else in the canon.

The second view applies to Christianity the Enlightenment's trust in human reason, along with the fashionable evolutionary assumption that the present is wiser than the past. It concludes that the world has the wisdom, and the church must play intellectual catch-up in each generation in order to survive. From this standpoint, everything in the Bible becomes relative to the church's evolving insights, which themselves are relative to society's continuing development (nothing stands still), and the Holy Spirit's teaching ministry is to help the faithful see where Bible doctrine shows the cultural limitations of the ancient world and needs adjustment in light of latter-day experience (encounters, interactions, perplexities, states of mind and emotion, and so on). Same-sex unions are one example. This view is scarcely 50 years old, though its antecedents go back much further. I call it the subjectivist position.

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