As I’ve said over and over on the pages of this blog, once you abandon the foundation of Genesis, everything else in the Bible is up for debate. I am never happy when I am proved right, but it continues to happen with monotonous regularity. The latest example comes from a formerly conservative, orthodox university. Wheaton College is no friend of creation science and, apparently of Biblical orthodoxy. This new book was written by one of their professors, John Walton, along with Walton’s son. Walton is well known in creation science circles as a well-known follower of the BioLogos movement. He’s spoken for BioLogos and written for them, as well as publishing numerous books on origins, including coauthoring a textbook on origins that claimed Adam and Eve were non-literal but rather archetypal.
I should note before going any further that the book has not been released yet as of this writing, but will be out shortly. The information I am getting about the book is from what the press releases and public statements by Walton and son are telling me, as well as reviews by people who have received review copies. Entitled The Lost World of the Torah, the book attempts to explore the “genre of Torah in relationship to what we learn from the ancient Near East.” According to a press release from the Waltons. This particular press release is incredibly revealing, given it came out in response to a blog that got a lot of social media traction and essentially accused the Waltons of surrendering to the homosexual lobby and giving up the commands of the Torah regarding marriage and homosexuality. In response, the Waltons issued the aforementioned statement.
Interestingly, they also said in that statement: “I proposed, among other things, that the Torah’s purpose in its context is to provide covenant stipulations, not a comprehensive moral system.” They do go on to say that same-sex issues are not addressed in the book, which, given I have not read it, I will accept at face value. However, I think the Walton’s in writing this book, have pushed the ball just a little further down the slippery slope to outright apostasy. Here is what I mean by that.
By labeling the Torah as not being a moral code, the Waltons are being very consistent with their low view of Scripture in general. Considering what the elder Walton has written about Genesis, this is hardly anything new. However, this low view has now been extended to the remainder of the Torah. Walton and son apparently think that God was not actually giving the Israelites rules to live by when He gave them the Torah. Instead, they seem to have been suggestions. This view is not borne out by the evidence.
For example, in the law, the Israelites were commanded to put special borders on their garments for religious significance. These borders, called phylacteries, were to have the books of the law sewn into them. It was a symbolic, rather than moral law. However, the Jews clearly took it as binding since, at the time of Jesus, they were still doing this, and Jesus actually rebukes the Pharisees for making them bigger to show off. That’s just one example of something that the Walton’s need to be able to explain. The Jews also repeatedly refer to the Law or Moses when speaking to Jesus, usually upset because He or His disciples appear to be in some violation of it or some minutia they had added to it. The Apostle Paul also regarded the Law as a moral code, referring to it as our schoolmaster to show us our sin.
However we understand the Law today, the Jews in Jesus day, and the early Christians clearly understood it as a moral code. I am unsure how there is a way around this for Walton and son. Of course, given their low view of Scripture, it is quite possible they will do what amounts to hand waving and dismiss the dozens of New Testament passages that refer back to the Law as a moral code. However, Christians who are serious about serving God would be wise to not follow in their footsteps and elevate the textual criticism of man above the inspired word of God. “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15 (If the Waltons don’t doubt that verse too.)