The Intention, and Meaning and Planned obsolescence for the Household Principle

Discussion in 'Baptism' started by kamunk73, Oct 22, 2012.

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  1. kamunk73

    kamunk73 Puritan Board Freshman

    This is a short treatise on the household principal, apart of a larger work for class. Just throwing it out there to see what kind of feedback I get. as note if there are grammatical errors it is because I am still refining the larger work.

    Quite often we speak of the household principle, and defend it and use it by just assuming a set value that has been placed upon it. The principal as it is found in the Old Testament and Mosaic Covenant is often just carried over as being the norm in the New Testament. This short treatise plans to look God’s intention in having it be an integral part of the old covenant, along with it its ultimate meaning, and finally discuss the planned obsolescence for it in the New Testament.

    The household principal it all its simplicity is the idea that where the father or head goes so goes the rest of the family. If the father is cursed then the family is cursed with him, and if the father is blessed then the family is blessed with him. God articulates this as principal feature to the Mosaic Economy in Deuteronomy 5:9-10, and its parallel in Exodus 20:5-6. The first time we see the full effect of this principal is in Numbers 16 where Korah leads a rebellion. The Numbers story reaches its climax in Numbers 16:25-30, with the result in verses 31-33 where all of the household of Korah and those that rebelled with him were swallowed up by the ground, including their possessions. So because of his sin, his wife, and his sons, and his little ones perished.

    The next time this principle can be seen is with Achan in Joshua 7. A lot of people try to say the fact that his entire family dies with them is because of their complicity in the sin, but Lord destroys that theory in Joshua 7:15. "And he who is taken with the devoted things shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the Lord and because he has done an outrageous thing in Israel." The fact that Achan, and his sons, and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and even his tent, get stoned and burned is not because of what they did as individuals but because of his one transgression.

    Considering these two cases, and the prevalence of this household principle we have an issue when we come to the New Testament. In the Book of Acts Chapter 5 we have the story of Ananias and Sapphira. It is well known and commented on that Luke is crafting the telling of his story in the mold of the Achan narrative. They both withheld devoted things, they both were judged in community and they both result in a judgment of death. Luke even uses a rare verb from the Achan account to strengthen this tie. But what is clear in the text is the deliberateness with Luke presents the separation of Ananias and Sapphira. So much so that he points out the exact time that passes in-between their individual trials. As well as the fact that Sapphira has the chance to exonerate herself. In the narrative only Sapphira and Peter speak. Luke does not give Ananias a voice.

    In light the household principle and how we know it have functioned in the Old Testament, as well as Luke's ties to the Achan narrative this should appear to be striking. But it shouldn’t surprise us because scripture testifies to the planned obsolescence of the household principle in the New Testament. Most notably is the Jeremiah 31:27-30
    "Behold the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will sow with the house of Israel and the House of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the Lord. In those days that shall no longer say: The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge But everyone shall die for his own sin. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge."

    Looking forward to the New Covenant Jeremiah points to a day when the household principle will no longer be in effect. Don Carson calls this the overthrow of the tribal representative principle and by its overthrow, it requires the creation of a new covenant. What should be noted about the Jeremiah passage as well is the that just like the giving in the law in Deuteronomy and Exodus, where the household principle was established at the outset of the giving of the Decalogue, so also this overthrow of the principle finds it self right before the prophecy concerning the nature of the New Covenant.

    It should be apparent that the household principle was put in place deliberately in the old covenant, it was then prophesied about to find its end in the New Covenant era and we see in with Ananias and Sapphira a marked difference in administration of judgment then with Achan, proving that the household principle is no longer in effect.

    But the question that we should ask in light of these things is, what was God trying to communicate in the Old Covenant by instituting a household principle, so that the fortunes of the family were based on the obedience or disobedience of the family head? The fact that the household principle had a shelf life prior to the coming of Christ points to idea that God who is intentional in all that he does gave it to his people for the purpose of teaching them about an ultimate reality. The giving of shadows patterned after the reality, God condescending to speak to us on our level about things too glorious to understand.

    And only thing that the household principle relates to, to which it is similar is the nature of the Federal Headship with Adam and with Christ. That on the basis of the obedience or disobedience of the federal head, those represented by Adam or Christ are cursed or they are blessed.

    The household principle while it was in effect taught of these things, and if anything should help to strengthen that there was a covenant of works with Adam in the Garden. And because of his failure everybody who remains in Adam, has the curse of sin and guilt hanging over their head.

    But by faith we are united to Christ as our Federal head as result of that union we are blessed with him, we share in his victory and we are co-heirs with him of the new creation.

    The household principle was a shadow of this great reality, a shadow of Federal Headship with Christ. And now because the reality to which the household principle pointed to has come in the work of Christ on the Cross it is no longer necessary for it to exist in the New Covenant.

    God in former days spoke in a manner to which we could comprehend but now in this final day, in the light and the glory of Christ, to cling to the shadows would be blasphemous. God gave the household principle to the Israelites to teach of this greater reality. God spoke through Jeremiah looking towards a day when it would be obsolete and that day was the cross, and all its glory. The reality to which the household principle pointed was Federal Headship in Christ. Because only those who are united to Christ will be blessed by the steadfastness of the Father for a thousand generations.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
  2. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    If I'm reading you correctly, probably the biggest flaw in your argument is your assertion that "household principal was established at the outset of the giving of the Decalogue." There was certainly a "household principle" at work throughout Genesis. Some of the simplest examples are God's dealings with Noah and with Abraham.

    That omission seems to be the foundation for your misreading of Jeremiah 31. Notice that the New Covenant is contrasted with the Mosaic Covenant, and not with the Abrahamic, or with any other earlier administration of the Covenant of Grace.

    In the New Covenant Administration, the things that were tacked on to the Covenant of Grace (the Nation-State of Israel, and especially the ceremonial system, which was all bound to the temple) are removed. One thing that has always existed as part of the Covenant of Grace, and thus as a part of God's gracious dealings with men, is the principle that the children of believers are in the covenant. This was not tacked on as part of the Mosaic Administration.
  3. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    If "household" is a creational principle, and not merely an Old Testament-religious principle, then your argument has zero force.

    Since "household" as a concept continues to be used in the NT, both naturally and spiritually (see e.g. Mt.10:6, 25, 36; 12:25; 15:24; 24:45; etc.; Act.7:42; 10:2; 11:14; 16:15, 31, 34; 18:8; Rom.16:11; 1Cor.1:11, 16; 16:15; Gal.6:10; Eph.2:19; Php.4:22; 1Tim.3:4-5; 5:8; 2Tim.4:19; Heb.3:1-6; 8:8, 10; 10:21; 11:7; 1Pet.2:5; 4:17);

    and since Christ and the church still shows interest in husbands, wives, and children (see e.g. Mk.10:1-16; Eph5:25-6:4);

    it isn't clear from Scripture to me that "household" is either outmoded or a shadow. I do not intuit that I must read all such OT references as inherently belonging to a period of planned obsolescence, nor do I find the NT directing me to such a conclusion.

    I don't think you can get to your conclusion from the data, if you have not already intended the conclusion from the start. :2cents:
  4. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    As the sins of fathers and mothers still bear downwards most heavily on their own children, I think it would be a terrible hole in the comfort of our faith if God did not still as Rev. Buchanan says, show an interest in and make special promises to households. I can't see how any of us sinful people could work up the awful temerity to have children.
  5. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Rev. Buchanan, with all respect, I think you've misunderstood what our brother means by "household principle."

    I think it is clear from this quote that he is not referring to the household as an institution, but the principle that there are blessings or curses that are given to a household (as a part of God's economy) based on the position of the head of that household before God.
  6. kamunk73

    kamunk73 Puritan Board Freshman

    Federal headship and representation would be the creational principal. I am setting up a distinction between Federal headship and the physical way in which blessings and cursing are passed down through generations in the old testament.

    correct me if I am wrong but you would affirm that because you are federally represented by Christ, that the children of your flesh are equally represented. That they are co heirs with you and with Christ in the eternal inheritance.

    Secondly I read through all the passages you gave about the idea of Households presented in the New Testament. I'm saying that we can not speak of households. I can describe my family as my household no problem, but I would turn your attention to Heb 10:21, 1 Peter 2:5, 4:7 Gal. 6:10. Eph 2:19. These passages which you sent to me underscore that there are only two households in all of history. The Sons of Disobedience and the Sons of God. The sons of disobedience receive the curse for sin. While the Sons of God, those adopted in to the household of God receive the eternal inheritance on the basis of their union with a Federal Head. The only way into the Kingdom of God is by perfect perpetual obedience to the covenant of works. Christ has kept it as federal head of the true house of Israel, and only by faith we are in union with him. Its not on the basis of who I was born to physically that brings me into relationship with Christ.

    I apologize if this is just a brief reply.
  7. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I do not agree that the bolded portion of your statement accurately represents the OT way of things.

    Not unless they share my faith, which is a principle of the NT indistinct from the OT.

    So, if "there are only two households in all of history," my argument follows that the same facts obtain under the Old Testament orders of covenant-administration as under the New.
  8. kamunk73

    kamunk73 Puritan Board Freshman

    At the outset I mentioned that this was part of a larger work and as such it was not my aim to do a full treatment. The examples of Noah and Abraham do I feel help to establish my position rather then to discredit it. by saying that it was instituted in the mosaic merely was to point to the fact that it was there God placed it as part of the covenant.

    I would begin to respond by saying that we are operating with two distinct brands of covenant theology. I should have prefaced what I originally wrote as coming from a 1689 London baptist background. I would also refer you to read Petty France's treatment of Kingdom and Covenant on this board.

    To put it simply, covenants administer Kingdoms, the are what legally constitute a people as a people of a Kingdom. The Kingdom of God operates in relation to the covenant of works. To belong to the Kingdom of God requires perfect perpetual obedience to the covenant of works. The covenant of grace is the covenant of works kept for us, the promise of the seed of the woman. The New Covenant is the covenant of grace accomplished in history. As a Baptist, we do not say that the Abrahamic covenant is an administration of the covenant of grace. The covenant with Abraham is the covenant that governs what becomes of the nation of Israel. To be born a Jew was to be born into the kingdom of Israel. The requirement to circumcise is placed not upon the parents to do to their children, but upon those born into the kingdom of Israel. Therefore it is always administered to the Son's of Israel. In the covenant of grace which belongs to the Kingdom of God, all those born into the household of God are under the obligation to be baptized. Only in the great commission is there the positive command given to baptize, and Paul says in Corinthians that his mission was not to go about baptizing, instead its something we must do in light of peoples response to the Gospel. Because as they are born into the household of God they are given the command to be baptized.

    If we truly believed in a household principle in the new covenant then my spiritual inheritance which is mine by faith would be passed on to my children, but as Rev. Buchanan noted our children must be individually united by faith to Christ to receive any spiritual blessing.
  9. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Welcome to the PB, Greg.

    Children placed by God's providence in Christian homes do have the inestimable spiritual blessing of being born and bred in Christian homes, which should not be despised by them or others.

    Those born into non-Christian homes have the curse to be born and bred in non-Christian homes.

    Both under the Patriarchal, Old Covenant and New Covenant, faith must be exercised by those outside or inside the covenantal administration in order to salvation. Unbelief doesn't annul the fact that God has been peculiarly good to those raised within the covenantal administration.

    Being born outside doesn't mean that you will be inevitably lost; being born inside doesn't mean that you will be inevitably saved.

    You, interestingly, mention Achan and his family. The punishment of a sinner along with his family for a particular sin-crime was not the usual way things were done under the Mosaic administration, anyway, but who knows what trouble is brought on a family in God's providence by the evil decisions of Dad, Mum and others.

    Neither is the case of Ananias and Sapphira what usually happens in this New Testament period when particular sanctionable sins are committed by church members. Clearly flagrant untruth and other sins should be dealt with by church sanctions, but we don't ordinarily expect such a clear example of God's chastisement or judgment.

    Here are some threads that refer to Achan:
  10. kamunk73

    kamunk73 Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for the welcome Mr. Tallach

    I'm not denying that children of believers are privileged by their proximity to the gospel. Before the cross as we move through redemptive history the close we get to the cross, the clearer the types and shadows become. This can be demonstrated by the sacrificial system as it is instituted by God to be a type of the sacrifice which Christ. We see elements in the sacrifice of the animals for Adam and Eve, the call for Abraham to sacrifice his son, but the clearest picture of an atoning sacrifice is in the mosaic economy.

    This is the same with how the household principle changed in history. The passing on of blessing/cursing in genealogical lines is true in Noah and Abraham, but its in the Mosaic where God places it in the giving of the Decalogue that we see how it points to Federal Headship with Christ even clearer. Only in Christ does God show his steadfastness for a thousand generations.

    The Jews born closer to Christ had a clearer picture presented to them in types then those who were farther away. The London Baptist Confession uses the language going up stairs and getting closer to the heavenly things in describing the moves through history.

    And so now children born in a christian family have even more privileged then Jews born in Jesus day because to them on a daily basis they are constantly exposed to gospel in all its glory. The accomplished work of Christ fulfilling the the promise that has transcended all of history, that a seed of the women would crush the head of the serpent. Even though they are highly privileged in terms of their exposure, the right to the Kingdom of God does not pass though physical temporal genealogical lines to them.
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