Monday, December 12, 2022

My New Book

I have just published my second book. It's a topic that not many people like to talk about -- head coverings and hair lengths as presented by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11. Read at your own risk.

How's that for marketing?

It's available for free as a PDF for those interested. It's also available on Amazon Kindle and in paperback. You should be able to get it in the Apple store soon.

To access the free PDF, click the cover below. I've added the book's introduction below that. If you'd like for me to send you a copy of my book, just reach out.

What would you think if you were told that there was a portion of the Bible that, although it was never lost, was ignored for decades? If you are a strong, Bible-believing Christian, I suppose you would get defensive at first (I’m sure I would, too), but eventually you may want to know more about this text.

Something like this happened in Josiah’s day as described in 2 Kings 22. Josiah was a king who cared about the things of the Lord and wanted to serve Him well. One day, Hilkiah, the high priest, discovered a text that had been in the temple for a long time, but it had been set aside and forgotten. The text was the Torah—Genesis through Deuteronomy—containing inspired revelation. It was the Law that Israel was to observe. Judah was in such bad condition that they were living without their foundational, inspired document.

Shaphan, a scribe, took hold of this vital text and brought it to King Josiah, saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book,” (v. 10). A book? What irony. This Jewish scribe did not realize that the most important document he could ever study or copy down was right there in his hand. Shaphan proceeded to read the book for Josiah.

Upon hearing the Law, the king tore his clothes and lamented. He exclaimed, “Great is the wrath of the Lord that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us,” (v. 13). The Lord heard Josiah’s cry and enabled him to enact a variety of reforms in Judah, promoting lawful living among the people.

Josiah’s response to recovering God’s ignored revelation is exemplary. All of God’s people should deeply desire to embrace every word from God; our desire should be to feast on every word that comes from His mouth.

In many ways, 1 Corinthians 11:2–16 has been a “lost book” for the church in recent generations. Even though this passage is not as foundational to biblical theology as the Torah, and even though it has not been as abandoned as the Torah was in Josiah’s day, the fact remains that it is often ignored, sometimes suppressed, and rarely embraced. It has been dismissed as too difficult, too culturally conditioned, and too unique. It has led many to wonder, “Is it possible for Christians to actually understand this passage and make application today?” The answer is Yes!

In August 2021, I had to reckon with this passage. For the 15 years of my Christian life that had preceded that time, I did my best to sidestep the topic of head coverings and hair lengths any time it would come up. “There’s only one passage about it,” I’d say; or, “We don’t fully understand all of the cultural principles at play.” But these common retorts will not do when one is charged with faithfully preaching through Scripture, verse-by-verse and chapter-by-chapter.

I was a year into preaching through 1 Corinthians and this passage was up next. What would I say? All I could do was exegete the text—and honest exegesis has a way of tearing down man’s attempts to avoid what God has said. This short book is the fruit of that effort.

There is a great deal at stake in this endeavor. This passage is critical to arriving at a sound theology of gender roles in the church and of headship and authority. (There is a reason why Joyce Meyer never preaches this passage!) Further, this passage is a great test of our commitment to consistent hermeneutics. Quite often, otherwise-sound Bible teachers change their interpretive grid when dealing with this passage. We must consider why this is and seek to be consistent with our own interpretive methods.

I have written this to call you to heed the word of God, even though it may seem foreign or strange. First, I will start by examining the text, offering conclusive observations with notes to back up my claims. I am not presenting this material in verse-by-verse exposition like a commentary—there are plenty of those already! Rather, I am presenting this material in more of a debate format. This is not because I want to be divisive about this issue; rather, my goal is to persuade you of the continuing significance of Paul’s inspired instruction to the church. I hope that this format is more efficient at addressing the key points.

Next, I will answer common objections and seek to make application to today. I have also included two appendices that I hope are particularly helpful for church leaders as they wrestle with this passage. This is a difficult text to discuss in the modern age, but Bible teachers must do it—and it does not have to divide a church.

I find it fascinating that most sound Bible readers, commentators, and preachers understand the majority of the apostle’s instructions in this passage. It was written plainly enough. However, when considering modern-day application and significance, there are endless paths people have taken to avoid modern-day significance. Some will disagree with my conclusions on the basis of their own exegetical work. If a person has wrestled with the text and he or she has a clear conscience before God, it is not my job to judge; nevertheless, each one must deal with the text. I desire each one of us to embrace the spirit of Josiah in desiring to listen to the word of God. We must all seek to choose fear of God over fear of man and submissively hear the Lord’s instruction.

Before we read the text and begin to examine it together, I want to share with you seven basic beliefs about the Bible and our hearts toward it. This is the same list I shared with our congregation before I preached through the passage in 2021, and it is vital for us to keep this in mind as we work through the text.

Jeremy Howard  |  October 2022

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