Why 2 Kings 4:38-41 Shows That 1 Timothy 4:3-5 and 6:17 Do Not Automatically Justify CCM

January 2, 2014

I have deleted this post at this time so that I can fix parts of the article to clarify the position that I have held all along. I have not changed my position on the relevance of 2 Kings 4:38-41 in relation to 1 Tim. 4:3-5 and 6:17 and how they pertain to the issue of justifying CCM, but I do believe that the article will be better by my clarifying what I wrote.

Update:

While I continue to work on the full revised version of my article, I would like to share the following brief statements that present the basic gist of how 2 Kings 4:38-41 argues against the validity of justifying CCM through an argument based on creation.

1. Second Kings 4:38-41 shows that something that God originally created as good for food (the wild vine that produced gourds) was no longer good for that God-given purpose. Based on that data, it is illegitimate to claim based on the nature of the original good creation of God that all substances that God originally gave to man for food (plants and animals) are necessarily all still inherently good for the purposes for which God originally created them.

2. God did not create any musical styles. Even if He had created all musical styles originally as inherently good, a claim that all musical styles are all still inherently good for the purposes for which God originally gave music would similarly not be automatically true just because God would have originally created them .

Rajesh

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10 responses to Why 2 Kings 4:38-41 Shows That 1 Timothy 4:3-5 and 6:17 Do Not Automatically Justify CCM

  1. First, let me say I’m not a fan of CCM, because I don’t think most of it is theologically sound. Second, I don’t think your post comes close to proving your case. In your post you are equivocating on the word “good”. The Biblical issue with food is not a biological one (i.e. is the food poisonous or healthy for you), but instead does it make one unclean/defiled. So under the New Covenant when the Scriptures speak of all food being good for you it is not talking about the food being healthy or non-poisonous, but instead the food does not make you unclean/defiled by eating it. Likewise, the argument would follow for music in that it doesn’t make you unclean/defiled/sinful.

    • Hi Ronnie,

      After doing some research, I see several problems with your reasoning about this passage. Here are some preliminary thoughts.

      1. Elsewhere, as an addendum to your comments, you wrote, “I understand. I would add that the issue of food in the NT is constant struggle for the Jews, because of the dietary restrictions they had under the Old Covenant. Therefore, this issue is addressed numerous times in the NT, and we have discussed some of the instances, but there are more. In each case it is dealing with food restrictions from previous Old Covenant restrictions to the New Covenant liberty. This one of the areas of discontinuity between the Old and New Covenant.”

      You have wrongly understood that everything in NT concerning problems with food was Jewish in nature and pertained to “food restrictions from previous Old Covenant restrictions to the New Covenant liberty.” This simply is not true. The apostles had to deal with incipient Gnosticism that taught that matter was evil and spirit was good. They had to deal with ascetic teaching that did not teach that foods were evil inherently but that abstaining from normal, good things that other people enjoyed was a way to become more spiritual.

      In context, I find no evidence in 1 Tim. 4:1-5 that Paul is dealing with demon-influenced Jewish false teachers in Ephesus who were insisting that certain foods were unclean in the OT sense. Yes, Jesus dealt with Jews who wrongly taught in that respect but the NT provides no evidence that either He or any of the apostles ever dealt with Jewish false teachers who were saying that marrying was wrong, as these false teachers were.

      The demon-inspired false teachers that 1 Tim. 4:1-5 is dealing with are not Jews but people who once in some manner claimed faith in Christ and apostasized: Paul says that these were people “who shall depart from the faith” (1 Tim. 4:1). Their designation as both forbidding marriage and commanding to abstain from foods shows that they were not people who were erroneously following Jewish OT regulations about unclean versus clean foods.

      2. What Paul says here about the teaching of these false teachers could never be said about the OT regulations about unclean versus clean foods. God gave those regulations—they were not demonic doctrine from false teachers. Furthermore, your understanding of regulations about unclean versus clean as Old Covenant restrictions is incorrect because Genesis 7:2 shows that God commanded Noah to take designated numbers of both clean and unclean animals into the Ark, and this was even before the Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, or Davidic covenants had ever been made. In some unexplained manner, God instructed Noah that certain animals were clean and others were unclean long before Moses gave the dietary restrictions (which were also from God).

      In principle, Revelation 18:2 also poses an important problem not just for your understanding about what problems concerning foods the NT deals with but also with respect to our previous discussion about the sinfulness of objects:

      “And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.”

      In this passage that is clearly talking about end-time events, John relates that an angel from heaven informs him that Babylon will become a “cage for every unclean and hateful bird.” Undeniably, a holy angel from heaven cannot be mistaken about his understanding of earthly things, and he says that there are birds that are unclean. Since God created the birds, how can the angel say that they are unclean?

      The angel certainly was not following misguided Old Covenant Jewish teaching about unclean vs. clean animals or foods.

      Revelation 21:27 also challenges your position that there are no unclean things that can defile:

      Rev 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

      3. The error that Paul is dealing with is not demonic false teaching having to do with Old Covenant restrictions, and the teaching that he gives in 1 Tim. 3b-5 to counter this demonic false teaching does not support your view that Paul is merely using “good” in the sense that it does not make one “unclean/defiled.” Paul is certainly alluding to Genesis 1 when he says that “every creature of God is good.” His statements effectively counter various kinds of false teaching about foods, including ascetic teaching that taught that not eating certain good things that God has given will make you more spiritual.

      The positive teaching that Paul gives here certainly includes the idea that what God created as foods fulfills His purpose of “giving fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17; part of Paul’s preaching to pagans). Other Bible teaching says the same thing that God gave foods to man to satisfy his God-given appetite and need for food (Gen. 9:3; Ps. 103:5; 104:15). This is a very important biblical truth, so demonic teaching would certainly target it for distortion.

      Elisha and the prophets who were with him discovered from a distasteful experience that those gourds were no longer (because of the effects of the Fall) one of the plants that God had created to accomplish the purposes that God speaks in many places in Scripture that food has of sustaining man’s life and satisfying him. Second Kings 4 thus accomplishes precisely the purpose that I wrote that it did in my article of showing that not every created plant or animal item that man finds in the world after the Fall is good for food. Similarly, just because God created musical tones does not prove that all human arrangements of those tones after the Fall are inherently good for the purposes that God gave music (for man’s good and His glory).

      4. The points that I made in my post about how 2 Kings 4 relates to 1 Timothy 6:17 are valid, regardless of any alleged problems with my handling of 1 Tim. 4:3-5. Some advocates of CCM and Christian rap argue that God created music for human enjoyment and therefore all instrumental music is inherently good to be enjoyed by people as music.
      Second Kings 4 shows, however, that there were vegetables that God created before the Fall that after the Fall were no longer for people richly to enjoy; they were noxious to humans. Similarly, even if the claim were true that God created all music styles (which He certainly did not do), it still would not follow that all those styles were automatically inherently beneficial for man after the Fall. Just as there were naturally created vegetables that were not inherently good for man to enjoy as food after the Fall, so there would be at minimum the possibility that there are musical styles after the Fall that are not inherently good for man to enjoy as music.

      In conclusion, I believe that what I wrote is valid and the critique that you made is not valid.

  2. Hey Rajesh,

    Thanks for the response. In reference to what was the nature of the prohibition against eating. Paul was writing to Timothy, an Elder of the church, about a number of false teaching from different sources and on different topics such as myths and genealogies(i.e. 1 Tim 1:4; 4:7) teaching of Jewish law(i.e. 1 Tim 1:7), teaching of false knowledge(i.e. 1 Tim 6:20), desire for material gain( i.e. 1 Tim 6:5) , etc. Timothy had a believing Jewish grandmother and mother, and knew the Scriptures (i.e. Old Testament) from childhood( 2 Tim 1:5; 2 Tim 3:14-15), so I’m not sure if the abstaining from eating meat was purely asceticism or also had the influence of Jewish dietary laws, but either way it doesn’t change the main point. The reason for not eating meat in both cases was for spiritual/religious good not biological health. So it is that vein that the Apostle is responding that all things are good and not to be rejected as long as one receives it with thanksgiving. The Apostle is not claiming that one can eat or drink poison as long as they bless it, and neither is that the intent of those who use this verse as justification for CCM music. One expects a reader to grant a writer to have a bit of common sense and not interpret them in an extreme wooden literal sense that makes their thoughts nonsensical. The Apostle is making an argument in context against those who are attributing spiritual harm to things ( e.g. food, marriage, and I would add for those like you, “music”), he is not dealing with physical/biological harm and therefore your 2 Kings 4:38-41 reference is indeed an equivocation of the word good. It is a bad case of proof texting and not exegesis.

    I’m not sure what you reference to Genesis 7:2 about clean and unclean animals are supposed to prove. You are aware that Mosaic Laws given on Mt Sinai were in large part a codification of the laws God had already given to the people, right? Do you think God never commanded the people to not murder, not steal, etc. before Mt Sinai? Likewise God had given them dietary laws. However, my point was/is that at Mt Sinai the Mosaic Covenant was established and the laws were codified and expanded in that covenant that the Jews accepted and lived by.

    Your handling of Revelation is very superficial. Revelation is not a book to use for proof texting by searching for words and phrases and then making arguments. Revelation is an apocalyptic book that is full of symbolic language. Often it is referring to Old Testament prophetic teaching and things that are said and mentioned are not to be taken literally. So even in verse 18:2 where you try to make the argument that the unclean birds and unclean animals are talking about the Jewish dietary laws is wrong-headed. The verse is not referring to Mosaic Law at all, but is referring to ungodly and demonic aspect of the world using figurative language. Notice the language in that verse and the one that follows it:

    2 With a mighty voice he shouted: “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’ She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal. 3 For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”

    Who/Where is Babylon the Great? Not a literal place on the map, but a concept or name given to a literal place. “Dwelling for demons”, “every unclean bird”, “every unclean and detestable animal”, “nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries”, “kings of the earth committed adultery with her”, and “merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries”. These things are not to be taken literally, but referring to the ungodly/demonic world powers and all its idolatry. But here is the problem that you are creating for yourself that you seem to just ignore. The Apostle not only says in 1 Tim 4, but also in 1 Cor. 8, Romans 14:20, and other verses that all food is good to eat with thanksgiving. It seems you are disagreeing with the Apostles and arguing that not all food can be eaten, because some of it is inherently sinful? Could you please explain that?

    In conclusion if you critique of CCM is valid then you are likewise critiquing the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 6:17 and 1 Timothy 4, because the Apostle also says God provides us with everything for our enjoyment and everything God created is good if received with thanksgiving. Yet, you are arguing that some things God created before the fall are no longer good. So in essence the Apostle is saying all things created are good, but you are saying, no that are not, because some things are poisonous as you refer to 2 King 4:38. However, I’m sure you realize the Apostle does not mean poisonous food is good, and therefore you shouldn’t uncharitable argue that CCM advocates mean literally everything is good. That is why I still say you are equivocating on the word “good”. I contend that the Apostle is saying that all food is good in the sense that it is not spiritually harmful to eat. He is not speaking about or concerned with biological goodness. Just like you are not arguing that CCM music physically harms people, but that it is spiritually harmful/sinful. Your argument that the Apostle can’t mean that all food is good, because some food is poisonous and will kill you is really kind of silly as no one interprets the Apostle to mean that.

    • Ronnie,

      As you can see, I deleted my original post because I realize that I did not make clear my view as I should have. I will repost the article after I have clarified my views. We can then resume our discussion of this matter.

  3. Hey Rajesh,

    OK. Sounds good.

    Ronnie

  4. Rajesh,

    One point in reference to each of your points.

    You stated:
    “1. Second Kings 4:38-41shows that something that God originally created as good for food (the wild vine that produced gourds) was no longer good for that God-given purpose. Based on that data, it is illegitimate to claim based on the nature of the original good creation of God that all substances that God originally gave to man for food (plants and animals) are necessarily all still inherently good for the purposes for which God originally created them.”

    This is the argument of the Apostle when he says:

    Romans 14:20
    20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. *All food is clean*, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.

    1 Timothy 4:4-5
    4 *For everything God created is good,and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving*, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

    So you have to explain what the Apostle mean when he says everything God created is code and to be received with thanksgiving.

    Second problem is with your second point:

    “2. God did not create any musical styles. Even if He had created all musical styles originally as inherently good, a claim that all musical styles are all still inherently good for the purposes for which God originally gave music would similarly not be automatically true just because God would have originally created them .”

    If you can validate the previous point then you still haven’t proved anything in reference to CCM music. All you would have proven is that it is possible for some music to no longer be good. But this could be true of classical music, the traditional hymns that are sung, and just about all other music. The onus is on you to show that the Scriptures now teach CCM music is sinful.

    • Ronnie,

      I’ll take your second point first in my response. Isn’t what you said exactly what my title implies?

      I categorically reject your assertion that “the onus is on [me] to show that the Scriptures now teach CCM music is sinful.” By that line of reasoning, I would have to show from Scripture also that every berry or mushroom or fish [that we know from objective human experience is poisonous] is also poisonous. No, I do not have to show that from Scripture alone.

      The value of 2 Kings 4 is that is shows that Scripture records a plant that was created by God that was noxious to humans. I could just as easily say that the burden is on you to explain why a plant created by God is poisonous to humans. Why are foods that are poisonous to humans not edible even if they are received with thanksgiving, the word of God, and prayer? Or, are you asserting that they would all become miraculously good for food if we prayed over them, etc?

      • Hey Rajesh,

        You stated:
        “I’ll take your second point first in my response. Isn’t what you said exactly what my title implies?”

        Yes, but I also stated that you must first explain how your first point is not a critique of the Apostle, because the CCM advocate is quoting the Apostle Paul and one must assume they are meaning the same thing the Apostle means when they say “all things God created are good”. Therefore, to claim they are wrong without explaining this is likewise by implication saying the Apostle is wrong.

        You stated:
        “I categorically reject your assertion that “the onus is on [me] to show that the Scriptures now teach CCM music is sinful.” By that line of reasoning, I would have to show from Scripture also that every berry or mushroom or fish [that we know from objective human experience is poisonous] is also poisonous. No, I do not have to show that from Scripture alone.”

        Rajesh you are making category errors. Once again you are confusing the physical and the spiritual. No one expects you to show what “berry or mushroom or fish [that we know from objective human experience is poisonous] is also poisonous” from Scripture, because that is not the purpose of the Scriptures. As the Apostle Paul teaches the Scriptures are given for the following:

        2 Timothy 3:15-16
        15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

        The Scriptures teach us what we need to know for salvation in Christ and instructions in righteousness. These are spiritual things. If you are claiming CCM music is sinful then the onus is on you to show this from Scripture. On the other hand no one is claiming the purpose of Scripture is to instruct you on what food is poisonous or what type of exercise is good or bad for you, because of the physical repercussions, therefore you are under no obligation to prove this from Scripture. As I said before this critique is extremely confused and makes no sense.

        You stated:
        “The value of 2 Kings 4 is that is shows that Scripture records a plant that was created by God that was noxious to humans. I could just as easily say that the burden is on you to explain why a plant created by God is poisonous to humans. Why are foods that are poisonous to humans not edible even if they are received with thanksgiving, the word of God, and prayer? Or, are you asserting that they would all become miraculously good for food if we prayed over them, etc?”

        Actually I have already answered this in the post above. But here is the gist of the answer again. First of all, some foods are poisonous just as some animals will not kill you (i.e. snakes, lions ), because of the fall. When the Apostle Paul says all things are good that are received with thanksgiving you have to read him in context. The Apostle Paul is not making an absolute statement about the physical goodness of all food to the body, but instead he is dealing with those who claim that food which is normally eaten, should not be eaten for some spiritual benefit or the opposite they cause a spiritual detriment. The Apostle Paul is saying all the food you normally eat is good to eat and will cause no spiritual harm if you eat it with thanksgiving. Eating it with thanksgiving is not transforming the food, but is eating it in faith ( all things done without faith is sin ) and trusting in God.

        So you seem to reject that and are trying to make an argument about the physical/biological goodness of things which is strange, because you are not critiquing the CCM based on a physical/biological goodness of music. CCM music is not physically harming organs in the body or killing people when they hear it or produce it, but instead you are saying it is spiritual bad or sinful. Therefore, the CCM advocate is right to appeal to the Apostle who is also refuting those that are making a spiritual argument about food, but you turn to a biological argument about food being poisonous which is a non sequitur.

        It seems if you are having such a hard time to prove your accusation that the CCM music is sinful then in humility you should be much more cautious about making that charge, because ironically you could be guilty of trying to point out a speck in your brothers eye and have a log in your own.

        • Ronnie,

          You say, “The Apostle Paul is saying all the food you normally eat is good to eat and will cause no spiritual harm if you eat it with thanksgiving. Eating it with thanksgiving is not transforming the food, but is eating it in faith ( all things done without faith is sin ) and trusting in God.” Where do you get “normally” from “every creature of God”? If you are saying that you believe that Paul is not talking about all foods in this statement, then why does this apply to all styles of music? (Actually, this whole discussion is ludicrous to me because what Paul says in 1 Tim. 4:3-5 is not at all about music. The only reason I even chose to deal with it in that respect is because CCM and Christian rap supporters falsely use this text to justify their positions.)

          On a related note, I do believe that 1 Tim. 6:17 is broader than 1 Tim. 4:4-5, and I think that you do to. So, do you again say that Paul is saying that all the foods that you “normally” eat were given by God richly for you to enjoy?

          If I am understanding your view correctly, you would say that neither 1 Tim. 4:3-5 nor 6:17 applies to those poisonous gourds even though those are plants that God created? If that is your view, then you need to explain why these statements still apply to all music without exception? If you do believe that they are not all-inclusive in the one realm (plants potentially used for food), how do you know that they are necessarily all-inclusive in the other (music)?

  5. Hey Rajesh
    ,
    You stated:

    You say, “The Apostle Paul is saying all the food you normally eat is good to eat and will cause no spiritual harm if you eat it with thanksgiving. Eating it with thanksgiving is not transforming the food, but is eating it in faith ( all things done without faith is sin ) and trusting in God.” Where do you get “normally” from “every creature of God”? If you are saying that you believe that Paul is not talking about all foods in this statement, then why does this apply to all styles of music? (Actually, this whole discussion is ludicrous to me because what Paul says in 1 Tim. 4:3-5 is not at all about music. The only reason I even chose to deal with it in that respect is because CCM and Christian rap supporters falsely use this text to justify their positions.)

    I get the “food people normally eat” from the context. So what is the context of the Apostle’s statement?
    1. People are being told they should abstain from eating food they would normally eat
    a. It makes no sense to tell the people to abstain from food no one ever eats(i.e. poisonous food ).
    2. They are being told to not eat this food for spiritual reasons which is why the Apostle says people will abandon the faith by following the deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
    a. There is no concern about the biological effects of the eating, but instead this is a religious practice.

    So this is the scenario the Apostle is responding to and therefore when he says “…nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving …” “… for everything God created is good …” he is not thinking or talking about eating things you never ate before because they are harmful physically and I’m sure the people were not thinking they could now go eat poisonous plants, but you are liberty to eat all things that you normally would eat and it will not harm you spiritually as the false teachers have been saying.

    But this kind of language is not unique in the Scripture and it is also the way we often speak. Here is another example:

    John 12:18-19
    18 *Many people*, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how *the whole world* has gone after him!”

    In the verse about the Pharisees claim “the whole world” has went after Jesus. I guess one could argue that this literally means everyone in the world, however the context for this statement is set in the preceding verse where it specifies “many people” went out to meet Jesus. So it is not everybody in Jerusalem, but instead a large crowd.

    You stated:
    “On a related note, I do believe that 1 Tim. 6:17 is broader than 1 Tim. 4:4-5, and I think that you do to. So, do you again say that Paul is saying that all the foods that you “normally” eat were given by God richly for you to enjoy?”

    Yes, I think 1 Tim. 6:17 is broader because it is talking about more than food, however I don’t believe it is talking about literally everything. In this context he is referring to rich. Of course if one is rich they tend to have a lot things for their enjoyment and pleasure, even a wider variety of foods, therefore the Apostle is saying to the rich don’t be arrogant or put your hope in these things you have, because it God who has provided them for your enjoyment. So even here it is not talking about all everywhere, but all things that they have or may get.

    You stated:
    “If I am understanding your view correctly, you would say that neither 1 Tim. 4:3-5 nor 6:17 applies to those poisonous gourds even though those are plants that God created? If that is your view, then you need to explain why these statements still apply to all music without exception? If you do believe that they are not all-inclusive in the one realm (plants potentially used for food), how do you know that they are necessarily all-inclusive in the other (music)?”

    Yes, I don’t believe either of those verses are talking about poisonous food. In 1 Tim. 4 I don’t believe the Apostle is even thinking about the physical or biological effect of food when he says it is good, but instead it is good in the sense that it doesn’t harm you spiritually with God. So likewise music is good in the sense that it doesn’t harm you spiritually with God would be argument if I was quoting this verse. The music and food analogy doesn’t work perfectly because music can’t do you physical harm as poisonous food can. However, from a spiritual prospective even poisonous is good in the sense that it doesn’t harm your relationship with God, but I don’t believe the Apostle is teaching that you can eat it and it is good for you physically.