Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I am starting a new ‘series’ today under the heading: “Emotional Exegesis”. As the title suggests, this new series will focus on examples of exegesis derived primarily from subjective emotionalism, rather than on objective logical principals.
The first post in this series deals with claim made by modern day Jehovah’s Witnesses that, “Jesus is Michael the Archangel”. I cannot think of one of my 50 plus anti-JW books which does not mention this JW belief in a negative light. A simple Google search reveals the same, as well as the bit more refined Google Book search. But are these myriad of critiques based on solid, sola scriptura, exegetical principles, or, does one sense emotionalism behind the responses? Let’s examine what 3 famous, Reformed theologians, noted for their adherence to the doctrine of sola scriptura, have written.
First, John Calvin:
The twelfth chapter commenced, as we stated in yesterday’s Lecture, with the angel’s prediction as to the future state of the Church after the manifestation of Christ It was to be subject to many miseries, and hence this passage would soothe the sorrow of Daniel, and of all the pious, as he still promises safety to the Church through the help of God. Daniel therefore represented Michael as the guardian of the Church, and God had enjoined this duty upon Christ, as we learn from the 10th chapter of John, (ver. 28, 29.) As we stated yesterday, Michael may mean an angel; but I embrace the opinion of those who refer this to the person of Christ, because it suits the subject best to represent him as standing forward for the defense of his elect people. He is called the mighty prince, because he naturally opposed the unconquered fortitude of God to those dangers to which the angel represents the Church to be subject. We well know the very slight causes for which terror often seizes our minds, and when we begin to tremble, nothing can calm our tumult and agitation. The angel then in treating of very grievous contests, and of the imminent danger of the Church, calls Michael the mighty prince. As if he had said, Michael should be the guardian and protector of the elect people, he should exercise immense power, and he alone without the slightest doubt should be sufficient for their protection. Christ confirms the same assertion, as we just; now saw, in the 10th chapter of John. He says all his elect were given him by his father, and none of them should perish, because his father was greater than all; no one, says he, shall pluck my sheep out of my hand. My father, who gave them me, is greater than all; meaning, God possesses infinite power, and displays it for the safety of those whom he has chosen before the creation of the world, and he has committed it to me, or has deposited it in my hands. We now perceive the reason of this epithet, which designates Michael as the great prince. (Calvin’s Commentaries on The Prophet Daniel, Vol. II, Baker reprint, vol. XIII, pp. 369, 370.)
Second, John Gill:
Another prophecy in Dan. xii. 1, 2, 3. represents the second and personal coming of Christ ; for he is meant by Michael, who is as God, as his name signifies, equal to him ; the great prince, the prince of the kings of the earth, and the head of all principalities and powers. (A Complete Body of Practical and Doctrinal Divinity, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1987 reprint, p. 617.)
And third, Jonathan Edwards:
When Lucifer rebelled and set up himself as a head in opposition to God and Christ, and set himself as a head in opposition to God and Christ, and drew away a great number of angels, the Son of God, manifested himself as an opposite head, and appeared graciously to dissuade and restrain by his grace the elect angels from hearkening to Lucifer’s temptation, so that they were upheld and preserved eternal destruction at this time of great danger by the free and sovereign distinguishing grace of Christ. Herein Christ was the Saviour of the elect angels, for thought he did not save them as he did elect men from the ruin they had already deserved, and were condemned to, and the miserable, state they were already in, yet he saved them from eternal destruction they were in great danger of, and otherwise would have fallen into with the other angels. The elect angels joined with him, the glorious Michael, as their captain, while the other angels hearkened to Lucifer and joined him, and then was that literally true that fulfilled afterwards figuratively. Rev xii. “When there was war in heaven : Michael and his angels fought against the dragon ; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not ; neither was there place found any more heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world ; he was case out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2, Banner of Truth, 1979 reprint, p. 606.)
So, it sure seems to me the teaching of the JWs that Jesus is Michael the Archangel, is not nearly as ‘heretical’ as so many adherents of sola scriptura would have us to believe.
Grace and peace,