Defining Orthodoxy Relationally: 'It Takes More Than Correct Doctrine to be Truly Orthodox'

Orthodoxy Relationally Defined

Defining Orthodoxy Relationally

“Objective historic theology is Reformation theology.  It is historical evangelicalism.  It is historical orthodoxy.”  So says John MacArthur (Charismatic Chaos: 32). If John’s lips are moving, there’s a good chance I don’t agree with much of what’s coming through them! The narrow and sectarian nature of that statement is appalling. But John is just following in the footsteps of his spiritual forefather, Martin Luther.  Luther said that in the history of the church no one–not Augustine, not any of the Church Fathers–NO ONE other than himself–ever understood “pure doctrine.” He called everything before himself “great darkness.” (Table Talk: §530)  

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Royal Priesthood Part 2 – The Authority of Being Least

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Abusive spiritual authority is epidemic. Reactionary responses to abusive authority are also epidemic. My friends Don Atkin, Greg Austin, and myself address what genuine kingdom authority looks like: a serving nation of priests, not chief executives and “visionaries” of an organization. In this installment, Greg Austin talks about the “descending priesthood” as a necessity for genuine NT kingdom authority.

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Reassessing Father-Son Ministry – Part 4

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There is no scriptural example, anywhere, for the concept of recruiting spiritual sons. Recruitment is practiced commonly today as if it is a heaven-sanctioned methodology.

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Obedience: God’s Gift to Us, Not Our Gift to God

Beehive_geyserThe advice Job’s friends gave him typifies quid pro quo thinking: if you do well, you prosper; if you do evil, you suffer. If you are faithful to God and follow His precepts, only blessing follows; if you don’t follow His precepts, you are cursed—bad things happen to you. It is important to note that God personally appeared to rebuke Job’s counselors for thinking that way. Unfortunately, that is the way most teachers and preachers  (especially televangelists) present the gospel and the way most believers live it. It shows a deep lack of understanding of the realities or the new covenant.

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Reassessing Father-Son Ministry – Part 2

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The theme of family saturates Scripture. The shared covenantal love in the Godhead is to be reflected on earth through natural and spiritual family relationships. The language, spirit, and methods of family are kingdom normal. However, the cults use the principle of family with great effect to win people into their association and to establish unbiblical belief systems and practices. Even the idea of family can be pushed too far.[1]

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Being “Accountable”?

Judge Shaking FingerToo many “accountability programs”–a thoroughly unbiblical concept, see the definition below (1)– betray an underlying mentality of criminality rather than sonship. It is all about being required, as a condition of “membership,” or “discipleship,” “leadership,” or “promotion to position,” to report-in,  on a regular basis, to the equivalent of a spiritual parole officer. This is to make sure you have not misbehaved since the last report in–to measure/”assess” you on how well you have “handled your sin” the previous week, and to assure you are continuing to conform to group norms of doctrine and behavior. If you have misbehaved, you must show/prove adequate repentance for your sin to your “overseeing authority figure,” (pastor, cell group leader, accountability partner, etc.)  or you will be subject to potential “church discipline,” ranging from mild to severe.

A criminal will never be transparent with a cop. He will just lie to protect himself, because the cop has the authority to punish without affection. But a son with a father can be transparent, because a son is secure (or should be) in his father’s love, and his  father is never surprised by his son’s nakedness–he has seen it before . . . many times. He is not interested in punishing without affection. A father’s chastisement is for development unto purpose, not punishment for underperforming to the “standard of God’s Word.”

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Spiritual Abuse: It Takes “Two to Tango”: 'How Does Spiritual Abuse Happen?'

SPiritual Abuse - How to Overcome It

Overcoming Spiritual Abuse

And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name;  take away our reproach.”  – Isa. 4:1, ESV

This is one of those obscure verses with lots of different opinions about what it might mean. I think it has application to the dynamics of spiritual abuse. Sometimes, we can be so broken in our soul, and struggling for identity and acceptance in the wrong places, that we allow those who promise those things for our compliance to their wishes, to spiritually abuse us.

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Spiritual Fathering

I recently had the privilege of doing a podcast with my friend, Stevie Bremner in Peru, regarding the issue of “spiritual fathering:” what is legitimate, and what isn’t.  If you are interested, you can have a listen here:

Football and Fathering

I confess to really enjoying NFL and college football. As far as I see it, there are only two seasons in the year: football season and “other.” I also confess to having a hopelessly irrational thirty-five year addiction and love affair with the New York football Giants. I know, there is no accounting for taste. You can imagine, in recent years, I have been a happy fan. So, if you are a Giant hater, please forgive me, but the Lord often speaks to me and moves me deeply from sports metaphors, particularly football. I want to talk about the Manning family as it relates to fathering.

For those who do not follow the sport, the quarterback for the New York Giants is Eli Manning. Eli has won two championships, as well as being MVP in both games. His older brother Peyton won a championship with the Indianapolis Colts. He was MVP of that game, as well as being the league MVP a record four  times.

They are the sons of Archie and Olivia Manning. Archie had a stellar college career at Mississippi state and Ole Miss. However, he got his brains beat out on a weekly basis playing in the NFL for what was a very weak New Orleans Saints team at the time. As  a young lad, I can remember Archie running for his life, getting the dickens pounded out of him, as he valiantly tried to help his team win. Not only did Archie never win a championship, the New Orleans teams he played for, were dismal laughing stocks of the league. Even as a boy, I can remember feeling so sorry for Archie, watching him get literally pummeled, week after week.

To me, this is the essence of fathering: being willing to have your brains beat out, not seeing any success, so someone who shares your DNA can come after you and succeed beyond your wildest dreams. There is nothing like the joy in a father’s heart to see his children realize dreams that he never could. As a “father,” I actually get teary-eyed when I think of the joy that must reside in Archie and Olivia’s hearts when they see what their sons have accomplished.

Paul captures the essence of spiritual fathering so well in one of my all-time favorite verses: 2 Cor. 12:15.  The Corinthians, were a people for whom he was significantly responsible for birthing into the kingdom in the first place, and for whom he had apostolic care and oversight. They were in the process of rejecting him personally, the message he was carrying, and his fathering/oversight relationship to them. He wasn’t flashy enough for them. In the presence of a staggering level of emotional and literal rejection, Paul writes to them and says:

I will very gladly, spend and be spent by you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. (2 Cor. 12:15)

This is the essence of fathering. Folks, there is much talk these days about spiritual fathering. It has nothing to do with networks, accountability, submission, authority, “tithing up-stream,” government, ruling, and other control grids.

A spiritual father is someone whose love for you is unstoppable by circumstance, or your own rejection of him. A spiritual father is willing to have his metaphorical brains beat out, for your sake, that you might succeed. If we really believe in “generational vision” and “generational transfer” and “raising up the next generation,” as spiritual fathers-mothers, our own dreams are the fertilizer for others. The younger generation doesn’t exist to make our dreams come true (It’s nice if it’s mutual, but it is neither necessary nor required). We exist for them . . . our sorrow, our loss, our failure, our lack of “success,” becomes the fuel to make them champions  . . . when absorbed in Calvary, liberty and a prevailing love one with another in relationship. The battles I may fight today, that do not seem to produce desirable outcome, are merely investment in a son’s future victory.

NOTHING offered in genuine faith (not our own imaginations, but genuine relational faith) to, for, in, and on behalf of Jesus Christ is EVER wasted. It is not possible for His kingdom to suffer decrease.  The fruit just might not be in my lifetime. Oh, there will be fruit, as surely as Eli and Peyton are the fruit of Archie’s labor’s spent, how much more so, shall you and I be as the fruit of the Lord’s labor spent?  How much more so, those in whom we have invested our life’s virtue, and perhaps seen no return in our mortal days? God thinks generationally for His purpose, not individually for success. Our individual “success and acclaim,” or lack thereof, is of no concern to Him.

Ah, the issue is, our desire, yes, even our demand to see a desirable determined outcome for our “efforts for Jesus.”   In effect, we still think and act like employees, expecting “just recompense” for “efforts provided.” That is the opposite of fathering.  Our desire and demand to see a determined result on our efforts is nothing other than refusing to let God be God . . . we are still lord’s of our own life, dictating the terms of employment for the factory-master in the sky. So sad. Genuine spiritual fathers have given up their rights to desirable determined outcomes . . . for the sake of Jesus’s interests in others.

If you are interested in more on this topic, I recommend our little booklet: Father-Son Ministry, that re-examines some themes that are prevalent today regarding “spiritual fathers and sons,” particularly the ethos that wants to make younger people the personal property and perpetual slaves on the plantation of an older person’s frustrated carnal ambitions for greatness. That is not spiritual fathering. The booklet can be found in soft cover or Kindle at the Online Mall tab at

Copyright 2012,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact

The Royal Priesthood – Part One

This lengthy post is part one of a two-part teaching. It is an excerpt of my portion of a soon to be released book  which I am co-authoring with Don Atkin and Greg Austin — Royal Priesthood: The Pathway to Kingdom Authority. Part two will soon follow.

Exodus 19:6 And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.
1 Peter 2:9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.

The unsearchable riches of grace that accrue to believers can obscure God’s eternal purpose for His children, and the planet. If we’re not careful, we can preach and teach a human-centered gospel: a gospel that emphasizes the benefits of salvation to us, and neglects what Father desires to accomplish in and through us, for Himself, and the benefit of others. Not only do we have an inheritance in Christ and in the heavenlies, but Father also has an inheritance in the saints.[1]

It can be hard for us to grasp that His plan of salvation for humanity fulfills something in His plan for the cosmos, not just our eternal benefit. That is, there’s something that accrues to Him, for His delight, purposes, and satisfaction, as well as an inheritance that accrues to us. The plan of God is not just to “save us and get us to heaven.” God had, and has, a redemptive plan for this planet: to fill it with a quality of life that images Himself—that the very life of Jesus would be found in mortal flesh,[2] on planet earth, filling the earth with the glory of sonship, as the waters cover the sea.

Yes, Father has always had a dream. Jesus is the firstfruit/seed fulfillment of that dream. And yet, there still remains a fulfillment in scope and scale that involves all of us as believers. The Seed that was sown in death and resurrection is to bear fruit and multiply in us and through us. As He was sent (apostolically seeded) into the world, so are we.

What is that dream?

That the world will be populated/filled with a caring, serving, kingdom of priests who are prophetically empowered by His death and resurrection life.

As the Scriptures in the opening of this chapter plainly indicate, this was God’s dream from the beginning of His calling a people (a nation) unto Himself at Sinai. The dream finds its realization in the glorious new covenant. There will literally be on earth, a new “nation”—a new people group, a new race, a new creation, a new citizenry whose nature is regal, whose service is priesthood, and whose empowerment is His resurrection life.

They will be governed by the Holy Spirit, serving One King, under His rule, representing His interests to humanity, and representing humanity’s needs to the King: a royal priesthood of new creation beings, a never-before-seen race of humanity, testifying to the world by the quality of their life and existence that He is risen, and the new age has dawned. The end has begun. The kingdom is here: partial, but present.[3] God’s dream is no longer a future hope, but a present reality. That dream is you and I, in Christ.

How does this royal priesthood come about? How does it “work”? How is it realized in humanity? In Part One, we will  look at the issue of a kingly priest in the Seed, Jesus, and then in Part Two, we will  see how that quality of royal priesthood is realized in and through you and I. It’s my conviction that there are fewer topics as vital to God’s eternal purpose, and the accurate, practical manifestation of His life on earth, than this.

Jesus – The King-Priest

The first generation apostles faced many interesting challenges. Before facing the issues of legalism and Gnosticism, they had the formidable task of trying to explain (to themselves and others) . . . “What just happened?”  A resurrected God-Man, Lord of glory who walked among us, requires . . . uh, “a little explanation!”  They also had the difficult task of trying to figure out just how new the “new” covenant is from all that they had understood up to that point.

Imagine being a Levite who has believed in Jesus, seen Him alive from the dead. The week before resurrection, you were serving God by sacrificing animals, and now in one weekend’s time, your career, your devotion to God, everything you have believed and practiced, is blasphemous, and an insult to the God you profess to love. That is a bit of a difficult “change” to process.  Sometimes change in God’s way of doing things is very unsympathetic to the “human complications” associated with aligning with the change He brings. Throw in (“God forbid”) the Gentiles getting in on things, and it’s quite a stew.

I trust we can have some respect and sympathy for the daunting nature of the task facing the first generation apostles.

Of course, the apostles had the Torah, Psalms, and prophets at hand. From that Scripture base, they tried to explain this crucified and resurrected Lord, and to explain the new “arrangement” (covenant) of God’s dealings with humanity. How the apostles handled the Torah, how they interpreted and applied it, is the “scriptural” basis for the legitimacy of Christianity. The first century squabbles with the Jews were all hermeneutical[4] fights. The apostles had the unenviable task of trying to claim continuity with the old order and differentiation from it at the same time. It wasn’t easy then, it’s not easy now.

The Jews took strong objection to how the apostles went about this with nonliteral interpretations and applications. The apostles attempted to explain Jesus from a Torah-base of two primary passages of Scripture: Psalm 2 and Psalm 110. 

It’s an understatement to say that these two passages, as the apostles applied them, are the foundation for everything we believe in the new covenant era. There are more references to Psalm 110 in the New Testament than any other Old Testament passage. The apostolic exegesis and application of these two Psalms is the scriptural foundation for all other subsequent New Testament doctrine, including Paul’s.

These Psalms were written by and for David. However, the spirit of revelation in the apostles applied them to Christ in resurrection. Apostolic revelation takes precedence over biblical literalism. The Scriptures mean what the apostles say they mean. If we do not believe this, we need to rethink the implications of our belief systems. Much is at stake.

These two Psalms deal with kingship and priesthood as they relate to Messiah. Since as He is, so we are in this world, we cannot bypass the importance of these two Psalms.  I trust you can refer to common translations for reference throughout this chapter, but for fullness effect, I have provided some amplified (and fairly literal) renderings from Ed Corley’s Maschil[5] publications. Please pay special attention to the speakers in Psalm 2.


The Rulers of the Nations Speak

1. What is the reason for this tumultuous assembly of the nations, even the peoples who connive this impoverished device?
2. The kings of the earth assume their stations, and the chief ones of them gather in private conclave against Yahweh and against his Messiah resolving:
3. “Let us tear off the binding restraints they have placed on us, even let us cast off the cords with which they have restricted us.”

Yahweh Speaks

4. The One who remains enthroned in the heavens derides such a resolution with laughter. Yea, even Yahweh scorns them.
5. At that time He makes a declaration to them in His wrath. He even dismays them in His burning anger by saying:
6. “ I have already established my king upon Zion, the mountain of my holiness.”

The Son Speaks

7. I will recount the decree of the appointment. Yahweh said to me: “You are my son: I have begotten you for the day.
8. Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance and the extremities of the earth for your possession.
9. You will govern them with an inflexible scepter of iron. You will break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

The Prophet Speaks

10. This is the time of opportunity, O kings. Diligently consider this. Be admonished, you who rule as judges in the earth.
11. Serve Yahweh with fear and rejoice with trembling. Submit to the Son with a kiss, lest He become angry and you and all your way perish, for His wrath will soon be kindled.
12. O, the blessings of all those who flee to Him for refuge.

Psalm 110

1. Yahweh declared to my Lord (Adoni): “Sit at my right hand until I set your enemies as a stool for your feet.”
2. Yahweh will send the staff of your strength out of Zion. Have dominion in the midst of your enemies.
3. Your people are willing offerings in the day that you wage warfare in the majestic array of holiness-from the womb of the dawning day.
4. Yahweh has sworn and He will not repent: You are a priest forever according to Melchizedek.

5. Yahweh at your right hand will shatter kings in the day of His anger.
6. He will judge among the nations He has amassed bodies. He has shattered the head over the earth. Much!
7. He will drink from the flowing river that runs by the pathway; therefore He will exalt the Head.

These two Psalms are the personal oath/decree of the Father, to the Son, concerning the Son’s inheritance. The lofty sacredness and far reaching implications of a covenantal oath made by the Almighty, by, for, and in Himself, is so exceedingly precious as to occasion awe. It becomes even more wonderful when we understand that this same divinely determinate decree and oath of the Godhead, applies to you and me . . . more on that later!  For now, let’s see how broadly and deeply these two passages permeate the new covenant Scriptures  at the apostles’ hands as they relate to Jesus as king and priest.

Psalm 2 – Apostolically interpreted and applied

  1. Acts 2:30 – Christ in resurrection
  2. Acts 2:36 – crucified and resurrected Lord and Messiah.
  3. Acts 13:32-33 – Christ in resurrection, the first begotten from the dead
  4. Hebrews 5:5 – Christ in resurrection, begotten unto priesthood
  5. Acts 4:25 – refers to the person of Christ, not David
  6. Rev. 2:26 – the scepter of iron promise made to the Messiah is made to the overcomers
  7. Hebrews 1:5 – Christ’s identity, superior to angels
  8. Revelation 1:5; Luke 4:5-7 – implied reference to Psalm 2 as apostolically understood.

We could go verse by verse through this wonderful Psalm, but it would be too much of an excursion for this brief work. I just want to highlight a couple of portions as they relate to Jesus’s kingship.

Psalm 2 deals with God preemptively “setting” His King on Mt. Zion in the face of the rebellion in the nations. The raving mad[6] rebellious leaders of the nations cannot get past the eternal covenantal decree that has gone forth in eternity past in the Godhead! In a modern way, it is like saying: “It’s too late boys, go ahead, scheme all you want!” “I beat you to it!” I have already set in My king!

Christ in resurrection is the king over the nations. The English word “set” in verse six is a Hebrew word nāsak (yasak), meaning to “pour forth.” It is a reference to the anointing a king would receive from a prophet’s horn as he would receive investiture to the throne of the kingdom. The “setting in” of a king (as well as a priest and prophet) including a “pouring forth” (please keep this phrase in mind for later . . . it is going to be significant) of the anointing oil.

The apostles refer to Jesus’s resurrection as the fulfillment of His “setting in” as the King upon Mt. Zion. The apostles also interpreted and applied Mt. Zion to you and me, the people of God. We are the Zion of God.[7] Jesus, by His resurrection from the dead is the Davidic king promised in Psalm 2 and the new creation nation is His “nation/s.” This is going to be very important for you and me, in what is to follow in the section regarding Pentecost. We’ll get there.  For now, catch this:

Jesus is king by resurrection.

Psalm 110 – Apostolically interpreted and applied

  1. Matthew 22:41-46 – baffled the Pharisees
  2. Matthew 26:63-65 – enraged the high priest
  3. Mark. 12:35-37 – gladdened the common people
  4. Mark. 16:19-20 – released the power of God
  5. Acts 2:27 – accompanied the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
  6. 1 Corinthians 15:24-26 – is effective until death is conquered
  7. Eph. 1:1-23 – obtained a complete triumph for His body
  8. Hebrews – 1:3, 1:13, 8:1; 10:12-13; 12:2 . . . wow!

As in Psalm 2, we could go verse by verse into a detailed examination of the priesthood of Melchizedek. Again, it would be too large an excursion for this brief chapter. Suffice it here to make a few significant points.

Psalm 110 is the covenantal oath/promise made in the Godhead concerning Christ in resurrection as king and priest. The author of Hebrews (see the verses above) ties in Messianic kingship (Hebrews 5:5-6) with priesthood associated with resurrection. Jesus is the new high priest.

The language in Hebrews 5:5 is interesting. The English reads  “begotten.”  The Greek is from the word ginomai, meaning “to come into being.” The apostles did not apply this to Jesus’s natural generation from Mary, but His being the firstborn from the dead in resurrection, as a king and priest!  His “begotten-ness” is as a resurrected king-priest, the first of a nation that is to follow!

Melchizedek is the only character of the old economy that we know functioned as both priest and king, something the Mosaic order strictly prohibited. The two offices were not to be found in a single individual,[8] yet in Melchizedek, they were. The apostolic authors applied Psalm 110 to Jesus in resurrection as a fulfillment of a unique priesthood, not according to Aaron and the Levitical order, but according to Melchizedek.

So, we see Jesus: declared to be king by a covenantal oath/decree/promise of the Godhead in Psalm 2 and declared to be priest by a covenantal oath/decree/promise of the Godhead, fulfilled, by the resurrection from the dead.

 Jesus is high priest by resurrection.

 As glorious as this is, as marvelous and praiseworthy as this all is, there is yet more glorious good news.  The apostles did not stop in their application of these glorious verses to Jesus. The apostles linked them to us in Him, the body, the nation–the people of God

Copyright 2012 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact

[1] Eph. 1:18.
[2] 2 Cor. 4:11.
[3] A present reality with a future consummation.
[4] The science and art of biblical interpretation.
[5] Maschil Numbers 1 and 3. Pinecrest Bible Training Center, Salisbury Center, New York. 13454. No date. I have taken editorial liberty in changing Ed’s references to Jehovah to Yahweh.
[6] That’s the sense in Hebrew. Some believe, with good reason, that in Daniel 7:25, the phrase referring to the “little horn” desiring to “change times and laws” would be better rendered “decree” than “laws” as the word in Hebrew is singular. I am easily persuaded that the animus of the “little horn” of Daniel is directly aimed at the decree of Psalm 2 concerning the kingship of the Son. This is the raving mad ambition of the little horn and the kings of the earth: undo the eternal decree concerning the Son, sealed forever by His resurrection. He who sits in the heavens, laughs at them. Do you feel like shouting praises? I do.
[7] Hebrews 12:22
[8] In an interim sort of way, Samuel somewhat functioned in an “executive” as well as priestly and prophetic capacity, but he was never “anointed” as king.