Bruce Morton’s Book Deceiving Winds

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Bruce was kind enough to send a copy of his book Deceiving Winds for review. It has taken me too long to get to this so I apologize to Bruce for that. After having read this book there are several things I think are praise worthy about this book and about Bruce and a couple of things that I think could have used a little tweaking.

Praiseworthy stuff:
First, Bruce has spent a tremendous amount of time studying inscriptions and archaeological evidenced about Roman Asia as background for this book. One of his main points in the book is that the times we live in today are much more like the first century in cities like Ephesus than we may have been taught. He goes to great lengths to demonstrate this and makes a very good case for it through scripture and archaeology. Most of the historical and archaeological background deal with the Artemis and Dionysus cults in Ephesus. He points out things like that culture’s desire for spiritual experience and sensuality and has no trouble making the case that things haven’t really changed all that much. To me, that was the bread and butter of the book. We must never let our own desires trump God’s plan for His church.

Second, you can tell that Bruce really loves God and the church. As far as I can tell he doesn’t have a bone to pick. He isn’t out to get anyone. He is trying to make a difference and is calling on the church to be pure and different from the world. There may be people who disagree with some of his points because they are so entwined with the world that they will have a hard time listening to what Bruce is saying or his interpretations of various scriptures. In the opening chapters he goes to great lengths to show how much God loves his people and how we identify with God as his people. Some really good material in the first four chapters on that.

Third, I appreciate his willingness to tackle some difficult subjects in a transparent search for the truth on these matters, even if that truth is difficult for us to hear. He deals with everything from women’s roles to church leadership and instrumental worship. He goes to great lengths to cite and quote relevant sources and commentaries.

Tweakworthy stuff:
There were a few places in the book that I took issue with. Sometimes historical and archaeological background was the main supporting point Bruce had in his argumentation. In other words, I felt there were places archaeology stood in the place of sound exegesis instead of complementing it. He would hypothesize a potential background for a given verse based on archaeology and then work out his interpretation from there. This means many assumptions had to be made about how Ephesian Christians would have understood things that may or may not be the case. Let me give an example. In chapter six (his chapter on worship based on Eph 5:18-20) he assumes that Paul was in fact condemning instrumental worship because “It is likely that the Ephesian Christians were bringing Dionysus (and/or Cybele) cult-like practices into their assembly…perhaps eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper had seemed the ideal setting for blending Asian cult practices into worship of Jesus.” (p.82). He goes on to say, “The root problem that he writes about in Ephesians 4:17-5:20 is a thirst for the sensual. The use and sound of instruments in Dionysus worship represented an accomplice to the sensational religion. The same was likely true for the Ephesian assembly.” (.94). Those are big assumptions. You can’t do good exegesis through assumptions and historical background alone. To be fair that is not all the exegesis he does but it is his main point that the potential background for Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 5:19 was based on these practices entering their worship assemblies. We really don’t know that and have to interpret the text as it stands without reading these backgrounds into the text.

Second, so much of his archaeological background work is really good and very interesting. But there are times it is distracting and it feels like he is stretching a point just to fit in an interesting bit of background. For instance, there is a long piece about the potential association in the roots of the word “bee” and “care for” that might shed light on 1 Tim 3:3. He gives about a page of background that doesn’t really seem to connect with the text nor seems to be what Paul was really referring to in 1 Timothy 3. Again, background over exegesis is never as good as background + sound exegesis. Now that is a very small point and hardly worth mentioning but I did get that feeling here and there. Nothing major.

Third, it seems he offers little room for others to use historical and cultural background in their interpretation but allows it for himself all over the book. For instance, in discussing 1 Tim 2:15 he chastises Carroll Osburn for turning to Jewish backgrounds and traditions and not just giving Genesis 1-3 a good look as if scripture wasn’t enough for Osburn (p.136). A few pages later Bruce dives into his own archaeological background about Ephesian culture and childbearing on p.148. It left me wondering if Genesis 1-3 wasn’t enough as he said it should have been with Osburn. Like point two, this wasn’t over the top and this may have been the only time that happened in the whole book so again, nothing major.

Last, he dismisses other scholars conclusions too easily without really digging into the strength of their position. For instance, on pp 104-105 he dismisses Osburn and I. Howard Marshall’s views regarding love-patriarchalism in a few short sentences with little explanation, “The argument is careful and it sounds good to people who are part of an equal rights society. Indeed it may represent the dominant conclusion in the early twenty-first century. However, that does not make it true of Christ. Jesus gave up ‘rights.’ He submitted himself even to death on a cross. He gave himself up for his bride.” If that is the dominant view on Eph 5:21-33 in our world today why not spend a little more space critiquing that view rather than dismissing it so easily.

All in all you can tell Morton is very passionate about this topic and I found the most helpful information being the archaeological backgrounds that were a great reminder to me just how much our culture can interfere with our worship in negative ways. Culture can have a positive impact on worship as well. I think that is an important point to remember. But it is important that we evaluate what we do through the lens of scripture and not just do things solely because we find doing it that way enjoyable.

In a couple of days I am going to do a second post that examines some of his conclusions in the book that will give you more substance than this post.

0 Responses

  1. Really interesting… two different reviews of this text appeared in my Google Reader on the same day!

    For a different take on Bruce’s writing, check out Richard Mansel’s review over at his blog.

    1. you’re welcome! i thought it would be a nice change of pace from the drive-by blast this post got from the other guy!

      I had heard of him before, but I really thought he was a CoC urban legend. oh well…

  2. Matt, I’m on an email discussion list with some guys in our fellowship and I did a discussion with one of them over musical instruments in the OT. He of course maintained that Amos 6:5 shows that God never “authorized” musical instruments in the OT. I showed from 1&2Chronicles that David made preparations for instruments, told Solomon that God had showed him the plan for the preparations, the instruments were played at the inauguration of the temple with God’s approval, and that Hezekiah re-established the instruments and that the writer of Chronicles was recording that to show that it was indeed approved by God. But I did not convince him. I’m sure you will not convince Ken either.

  3. I am going to delete all the comments on this post (including my own) except those relevant to the original conversation because this has deteriorated into insanity. A blog first.

  4. Just so you guys know I am being fair about this I deleted comments from about six different people including myself. If anyone actually wants to discuss Bruce’s book feel free. All other comments can be directed to Jay’s blog – 🙂

  5. Begin reading earlier and note that the atoning blood for king, kingdom, temple and staff involved NO Levite’s “playing. Later, it was Hezekiah’s plan to try to appease the nation of Israel lost in a Civil war BECAUSE of the building of the temple as the King’s Shrine: not in the vilest temple did singers and players enter into any holy place which was the “god’s space.” The Levites who came NEAR (nadab-abihu joke, joke, joke) or entered a holy HOUSE was to be executed. Modern musicians DO go into the holy places of church architecture and they DO claim to be mediators to “bring you into the presence of God.” God made certain that the house attempt was destroyed three times.

    The Levites under the KING and COMMANDERS of the Army STOOD in ranks: the problem comes from a coma which was not in the text. David got His istructions fro Gad the king’s SEER:: A seer is a Stargazer. The only thing God commanded was the two silver trumpets which were blown ONLY as signals and to make a great horrifying NOISE: never called music.

    The MILITARY Levites made NOT A PEEP until Hezekiah decided to offer Burnt Goats to Israel which did not attend.
    The LEVITES made NOISE During the GOAT BURNING for Israel.

    What the Levites DID was “Commanded by David” but not by God.

    No instruments were commanded by God through the Law of Moses: God gave them kings in His Anger and took them away in His anger as He carried out the Captivity and death sentence IMPOSED because of musical idolatry.

    There are many parallels and the INSTRUMENTS which were never IN the house but OUTSIDE in the Slaughter Pits while they made the lambs dumb before the slaughter. NO godly Israelite was even inside the GATES.

    Christ said that God had NOT commanded sacrifices or burnt offerings. There assuredlly was no musical instruments even in the Law of Moses. God ABANDONED te Levi tribe to worship the Astrial Deities. That involved Bruce’s Dionysus/Apollo making NOISE and never music.

    Acts 7 Stephen says that God had NOT commanded the Temple: God permitted David a TENT at a Jebusite high place rather than causing him to be killed for mortal sin. Solomon built the HOUSE but the Jehovah “God” cannot live in or be worshipped in HOUSES or by HANDS: pointing, raising, clapping, picking or grinning.

    Hebrews 9:7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year,
    not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

    Hebrews 9:8 The Holy Ghost this signifying,
    that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest,
    while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

    Hebrews 9:9 Which was a figure for the time then present,
    in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices,
    that could not make him that did the service perfect,
    as pertaining to the conscience;

    Hebrews 9:10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings,
    and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

    I believe that it must be close to terminal to IMAGINE a Holy (wholly) Spirit God needing to be entertained, appeased or even seduced in all paganism. We cannot GIVE God anything including compose new Scripture called sermons and songs.

  6. The discussion of the Levites IS about Bruce’s book: the Bacchus or Dionysus worship began at Mount Sinai and continued until Jesus Came.

    The literature of the time insist that the Jews worshipped Dionysus and they expected Dionysus to be their messiah.

    I didn’t save all of the discussion: is it still available for e-mail?
    I agree that you have been fair but your mentors set out to do mind altering and have recently BOASTED that they had purged all of the Church of Christ doctrine. I still believe that professionals cannot read black text on brown paper. You could make it in any field.

    1. Ken,

      I am going to keep this on topic. Please quote for us all the literature that connects Bacchus and Sinai. It is certainly not in the Bible and it is amazing to me that people put so much stock in extra-biblical accounts written sometimes millenia later. So put out there the most convincing stuff you have on connecting Bacchus by name to Sinai. If that is so, it is connected with Bruce’s book….just very, very distantly connected (a statement I am sure you will disagree with 😉

      Also, I can email you all the stuff you wrote here. No problem.

    2. Aren’t you even curious that Stephen got himself murdered for telling the Jews that God had not commanded a HOUSE and that God had “turned them over to worship the starry host” because of musical idolatry at Mount Sinai. Moses predicted blindness until “another prophet” came and Paul said the Jews were blind and deaf when the word was read in the synagogues (1 corinthians).

      The Bible defines the PLAY word many times and was used by Paul and Peter under terms such as sport, revel etc. You really have to go to the literature of the day because no lexicons define but show how words were used. I would think that contemporaneous scholars would have as much value as modern theologians. In fact most of those imposing performance music with or without instruments appeal to scholars so I quote the rest of the story to prove that they are not reading original resources. I have copied some Coffman to my review of your review of Danny Corbitt: you have to read the extra Biblical literature to grasp what the writers are pointing to. There is no “musical” content in any of the singing passages: it was called cantillation or rhymic prose as in “Speak to one another.” That’s pretty clear CENI.

    3. Ken,

      I wrote a response to your last comment but deleted it. I have nothing left to say. I have brought up scriptures you haven’t addressed that completely contradict what you are saying. I have asked you questions you haven’t answered. I have asked you to clarify things and you haven’t. Things just get muddier and muddier. I am going to have to check out of this discussion and will delete any comment on this post that is not directly and specifically referencing the content of Bruce’s book.

  7. Communications from Bruce indicates that he is not convinced that the king, kingdom, sacrifices and the warrior Levites was God’s abandonment intead of God’s old pattern. Since Psallo never had any musical melody connection, 2 Chronicles 29 is the PROOF that the not-commanded Burnt Offeing of the Goats as a way to appease Israel was “a” spirit telling them that God now commands instrumental praise. I can’t find an e-mail for bruce so maybe someone can supply.

    We were discussing Hebrews so I have collected the whole book of Hebrews on one page for easier discussion:

    I have posted 2 Chronicles 29 in two places proving that when they PLAYED the instruments ONLY for the burnt-offering of Goats as a POLITICAL APPEASEMENT, the instruiments as always were COMMANDED BY DAVID under the King and Commanders of the army.

    The Levites STOOD in miliary ranks ABSOLUTELY SILENT while the non-goats were offered for an ATONEMENT which is not worship.

    1. Ken,

      I mentioned several instances of psallo in the LXX that don’t fit your definition but you haven’t responded. I also asked for you to give me specific quotes that link Bacchus to Sinai but you haven’t provided that either, as least not that I can tell. Can you point me the right way here?

    2. Some Psallo in the LXX: I don’t remember your texts although I did discuss one of them.

      1 Samuel 16.[16] Let our lord now command your servants who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp: and it shall happen, when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play with his hand, and you shall be well.

      Latin: 1 Samuel 16] iubeat dominus noster et servi tui qui coram te sunt quaerant hominem scientem psallere [Play] cithara [Cithara] ut quando arripuerit te spiritus Dei malus psallat [play] manu [hand] sua et levius feras

      The word psallo means pluck or smite something with your HANDS or FINGERS and never with a PLECTRUM: whatever you do to anything other than a stringed instrument or bow is EXCLUDED.

      The Greeks used “psallo” in connection with singing only in the sense that it was used of “shooting forth hymns” which were like shooting forth arrows:

      Pind. O. 9.5 But now, from the bow of the Muses who, shooting from afar, send a shower of such arrows of song as these on Zeus of the red lightning-bolt and on the sacred height of Elis,

      [35] of the dead. My mouth, fling this story away from me! Since to speak evil of the gods is a hateful skill, and untimely boasting is in harmony with madness. [40] Do not babble of such things now. Keep war and all battles apart from the immortals

      The muses in Revelation 18 are called sorcerers.

      LXX: I will confess you among the nations, O Lord; and
      I will sing (psalo) to your name.” Psalms 18:49 (quoted in Rom. 15:19),

      LXX: Sing (psalate) to the Lord, O you his saints, in recollection of his holiness.’ Psalm 30:4,

      LXX: God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with a sound of a trumpet. Psalm 47:5

      LXX: Sing (psalate) praises to our God, sing praises: sing praises to our King, sing praises. Psalm 47:6

      For God is king of all the earth: sing praises with understanding. Psalm 47:7

      LXX: praise the Lord, because he is good;
      sing (psalete) to his name, because he is good.’ Psalms 135:3,

      My lips shall rejoice when I sing (psalo) to thee; and my soul, which thou has redeemed. Psalm 71:23
      Moreover also my tongue shall dwell all the day upon thy righteousness; when they shall be ashamed and confound Psalm 71:24

      LXX: I will praise the Lord in my life; I will sing (psalo) to my God as long as I live.” Psalms 146:2,
      I will confess you, Lord, with my whole heart,
      because you have heard the words of my mouth;
      and I will sing (psalo) to you before the angels.’ Psalms 138:1,

      When Psallo is used in connection with an instrument it just means to play or pluck. Psalm 33 (32) is one of the true psalms or mizmores:

      Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; praise becomes the upright.
      [1] Praise (confess) the Lord on the harp;
      ……PLAY [psalite] to him on a psaltery [psalterio] of ten strings. 32:2
      [3] Sing to him a new song;
      …[4] play skillfully with a loud noise. Psalms 32:3LXX

    3. Wouldn’t Job 21:12 go against your rule of thumb about how psallo is always used and what you say it never means?

      Also, I would like to talk with you some more about the points you are making. If you are up for it I would like to ask you some questions about some of the points you are making and hear your thoughts. Let me know if that is alright…I will probably do it on the Jacob post rather than this one.

    4. Sounds fine to me. I don’t know about the LXX in Job but I will do research.

      They take [nasa lift up] the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ. Job 21:12

      The Latin reads:

      12] tenent tympanum et citharam et gaudent ad sonitum organi

      Teneo a. To have possession of, have the mastery of, to control any thing:

      The message in maybe the oldest book in the Bible and certainly in agreement with the Babylonian legends. This might have been just a wild party but it sounds like many ancient fertility rituals which men like Plutarch claims is what was happening in Jerusalem.

      The predictable results were;

      Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. Job 21:14

      What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him? Job 21:15

    5. I thought you had said in the past that psallo can only mean to pluck but here in Job 21:12 psallo is used of the timbrel which was a tambourine percussion instrument. So I was asking if maybe your definition of psallo was too strict or didn’t allow for ALL of the uses in the LXX.

      Here is one example of your take on psallo:

      “Psallo by itself just means to PULL with your fingers and NEVER with a plectrum.”

      Well, what about Job 21:12 where he uses the word as a verb meaning to play basically a tambourine? How do you play a tambourine by pulling with your fingers?

      You also wrote,
      “The translators of the LXX clearly understood that it was because of musical idolatry at Mount Sinai that God had turned them over to worship the starry host.”

      Please back that up. How do you know that so clearly. Please explain in as concise a manner as possible. I am not arguing for instruments here. I am wanting to have a discussion about some of the points you are making that are huge, sweeping generalizations that seem to miss the point and draw what seem to be some, not all, but some invalid conclusions.

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