Last Updated on : November 23, 2014
Does Bro. Roberts Give Sound Advice
On The Headcovering Question
in 1 Cor. 11?
The Christadelphian; Feb. 1, 1872, Page 87.
The Christadelphian -- April 1891, Page 65
The Christadelphian April 1895, Page 140
In the above, we have three articles by the pen of Bro. Roberts. Unfortunately, brethren in the Berean fellowship have become disturbed by the question as to whether Bro. Roberts' statement is permitting a view other than that which is Scripturally sound on the issue of a sister wearing a headcovering. They are overly concerned about the idea that they might not be in fellowship with Bro. Roberts if they take a stand which is correct Scripturally. However, we say they should be more concerned about whether they are on the side of Yahweh and the Apostle Paul on this issue, rather than whether a weak position by Bro. Roberts should incorrectly be maintained as a standard to which their group must give adherence.
In the above three articles, Bro. Roberts correctly maintains that a sister who wanted to do what Yahweh commands must wear a headcovering. But he incorrectly states that the commandment of Yahweh must not be maintained if an incorrect understanding is brought to bear by an errorist brother or sister. We feel that such a statement is very incorrect and unsound, for once you admit that Yahweh has presented a commandment to follow in His Word, then there is no other option but to follow what He says and maintain it in upholding the Faith. To do otherwise would be to act the part of a fool as defined in the Proverbs. Very interestingly, the Apostle Paul in this very Epistle to the Corinthians says that the wisdom of the flesh is foolishness with Yahweh.
"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." (1 Cor. 3:19).
When we consider the Word of Yahweh, we must always remember that ALL of His Word must be done. It is characteristically thought that not all of Yahweh's Word needs to be kept. We sincerely disagree with this position. We say that the word of Yahweh must always, constantly, and continuously be kept and never forgotten or forsaken. Consider the following two passages:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Matt. 23:23)
But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Luke 11:42)
Here it makes it very clear that we must always keep the weightier matters of the law, as well as, continuing to keep those that are not weighty. It never ever makes it possible to forget about either parts of it. We are required, absolutely and continuously to keep Yahweh's Word at all times, both the weightier and the not so weighty words. It is the thinking of the flesh that would try to make exceptions where exceptions do not exist. We must remember that the Bible is the only book of books written by Yahweh and therefore must be treated as such. It must be absolutely important to Yahweh to put into print what His conditions for salvation are. It must be important to us therefore to follow them exactly and explicitly. We have no option to treat the one who is the absolute power of the universe in a fashion that demonstrates disregard for His word, as well as Himself. To demean His word is to demean Him. Consider the attitude expressed in the passages below:
He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. (Matt. 10:40)
Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. (Mark 9:37)
And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. (Luke 9:48)
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:48)
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. (John 13:20)
We see that in these passages that anyone who has been sent by Yahweh, as the Lord and the Apostles, if they are received as such, then their word is acknowledged as Yahweh's word. Therefore, when Paul writes we understand that he has been sent by Yahweh and that he speaks the word of Yahweh and therefore all must be received in this manner, which is a very respectful and highly important and responsibility-creating position. Therefore, we accept the words of 1 Cor. 11 as those of Yahweh's, and where it contains a commandment, we accept it explicitly as a commandment of Yahweh which must be followed, and not degraded in any fashion. We find the excuse which is an unscriptural one by Bro. Roberts, for not contending for the word given by Yahweh as a very weak and unscriptural one. There is no justification whatsoever that would permit us to treat the word of Yahweh in this fashion as Bro. Roberts has, at any time and in any part of it. We have to ask the question, why would Yahweh give the commandment and then say that we don't have to obey it if anybody is arguing against it? Why would Yahweh make such an absolute foolish statement? Why would Yahweh go to the trouble to put this comment in His word to treat it in a way where the flesh that is following error, stops us from saying or doing what is right? When would Yahweh permit the flesh to win the battle against the spirit in this fashion? We will look through the Word extensively and never find such a foolish presentation where the flesh determines whether we should follow the word of Yahweh or let things go. Now let us consider in some detail the answers that Bro. Roberts has given in answering the question in these three articles.
The first article is entitled, "Is It A Shame?" Here we have someone writing Brother Roberts about a sister who refuses to break bread with a sister who is bareheaded and who founds this upon 1 Cor. 11:5,6. Brother Roberts starts out by stating that "Paul treats the matter as one of taste purely." Where he obtains such an answer from in the Word can not be stated. Since when is the Word of Yahweh a matter of taste purely? Since when is the Word of the Power of the universe something that can be treated lightly, or even ignored when an errorist opposes it? Since when does the flesh dictate its will to Yahweh and Yahweh submits? Since when does the Spirit ever do anything but kill the flesh when it opposes it? Doesn't the Scriptures in Rom.8:5-10 say,
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Rom.8:5-10)
Doesn't the Scriptures say something very similar in Gal.5:16-25:
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Don't these passages demonstrate that the flesh and the Spirit are at constant and continual open and unrelenting warfare with each other? Isn't it obvious that from these passages only one can and will win? Therefore, to treat Yahweh's Word in this fashion is to treat Him in this fashion. Such an attitude can only lead to a surrender to the flesh and the killing of the Spirit. In other words, the loss of the Spirit, for there is no compromise in this battle with the flesh, is a triumph for the flesh. Fortunately for Brother Roberts this only represents one battle with the flesh and not the whole war. See "The Camp of the Flesh vs. The Camp of the Spirit."
Now we proceed to the next sentence which is also Scripturally incorrect. With the Spirit, how can anything be a "probably"? Such indefiniteness only applies to the flesh. Yahweh is unchanging and what He says is never a "probably" dependent on the moment. We can find such positive statements as the following:
For I am the LORD [Yahweh], I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. (Mal. 3:6).
My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. (Psa. 89:34).
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17).
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it. (Num. 23:19-20).
They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. (Psa. 102:26-27).
And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. (Heb. 1:12).
We are also told that Christ does not change:
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Heb. 13:8).
Furthermore, we are commanded not to meddle with those who change:
My son, fear thou the LORD [Yahweh] and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change: For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both? (Prov. 24:21-22).
Brother Roberts then completes the thought that "there was need" for what Paul under inspiration stated. The Apostle Paul would never be saying anything but what was needed. How could anything given by inspiration be unneeded or inappropriate? How could there be a guess as to whether something was needed when the statement that was given was under inspiration? Could Yahweh be wrong as to what was needed? Of course not! Inspiration can never be wrong! Yahweh can never be wrong! Yahweh is always absolutely and unconditionally right.
Next he indicates what is said is not as vital as a principle. We feel that Yahweh said it and it governs conduct and is therefore important. Any commandments of Yahweh is important and can not be treated as unimportant. Brother Roberts is at least minimally right when he says, "they are indirectly related to the higher aspect of things." We feel that he is trying wrongly to establish a smaller matter of law which Yahoshua says, as we have seen, must still be done -- not left undone. Again, we see that Yahweh never lets you ignore His Word. It all must be done!
Brother Roberts then says, "The position of woman appears to have been submitted to Paul's judgment and advice, in the same way as other questions related to her in 1 Cor. 7:1." Since this epistle is based on those questions which were dividing the ecclesia at that time, there was no "appears" to it. Along with all those questions that he is going to answer under inspiration, this was another one of those matters. We must emphasize that this question, along with others, were answered under inspiration and made a part of the New Testament record at that time. Yahweh knew that it should be part of His inspired book for all time. This is exactly how he felt. Furthermore, since He knew the end from the beginning, He knew at the beginning of this creation He was going to include it in His inspired record. This is how important this matter is to Him. It was important enough for Him to include it in His inspired record and it is important therefore for us to learn it, teach it, and follow it -- which is what He directs us to do in His Word about His Word. Finally, there is no if, and, or buts about it in His Word. In this manner, we are directed to obey all His Word.
Brother Roberts then makes a possible reason for why Paul (under Spirit guidance) gave such advice. The advice that is given is very sound and Scriptural. If he had kept on this course, he (Bro. Roberts) would never have given such wrong direction himself. About the middle of this explanation, he wrongly says Paul stated, "Finally, he dismisses the matter as one of no practical moment." Where does he have the right to say that the Spirit guided Apostle issued such words? Why would the Power of the Universe ever say such a thing? Why would EL ever choose to give an inspired record for all time and then tell us that it is of no consequence and doesn't need to be followed? Isn't such a view that of saying that Yahweh wasted His breath? Isn't that more of the flesh and not of the Spirit at all? Isn't that changing Yahweh into a man like us? Isn't that turning Yahweh into a fool like man? Isn't it foolish to spend the time recording a record and then dismiss it of no practical moment?
Brother Roberts makes another blunder when he says, "The privacy of a house alters the case. Paul is discoursing of public assembly only..." Where does it state this in all his, that is the Apostle Paul's, record? Doesn't the record, if fairly and unemotionally looked at, require the understanding that this is at all times?
This principle is clearly shown in our article on the sisters' headcovering. Look at it closely and objectively before continuing this article.
Having considered the other article on sisters' headcovering, let us proceed with the second answer that is provided in the April 1891 Edition of The Christadelphian, page 65. Here his answer is very sound until the very end when he says, "The matter has little application in our day, except in so far as it discredits the foolish tendencies to put woman on a par with man." This is a statement that mixes truth and error, because the Spirit guided Apostle Paul gives an answer that "discredits the foolish tendencies to put a woman on a par with man." This statement is very true and he effectively dispels this problem along with others on this issue. We feel that in all of the three articles by Bro. Roberts, that he does not give an exhaustive answer to this question -- one which Paul does, under Spirit guidance. There is no question that Bro. Roberts believed a woman should be covered and that the Scriptures were requiring it. If anybody wanted to argue this case, they could never have seen the articles by Bro. Roberts where this fact is clearly established throughout. Our only exception to his answer is that he constantly tries to turn it into a matter of little moment. It is hard to picture that the Power of the Universe would ever have taken the time to give an account which is of little moment. Furthermore, if what is said about the woman is understood, then it is absolutely and positively certain that it is wrong to say that it "has little application in our day." The Spirit guided Word tells us that the woman was formed after the man and was given as a help meet for the man, and when she chose to become the lead in the transgression and therefore brought about the fall, not only of herself but also the man, when she was sentenced by the Elohim, her sentence encompassed being made subject unto the man as a means whereby the salvation of women can be obtained. There is absolutely no other way for this to occur. Woman has tried down through the millennia to counteract that sentence which she is under because of her leading role in the transgression and which she can never change, for Yahweh set up the elements of the foundation of the world upon this principle. Woman can never be saved on any other principle. It is the only method by which a woman can obtain salvation. Every effort in any other direction must always fail. It is always giving heed to the law of sin and death, otherwise known as the flesh. We must remember that the flesh is always at enmity with the Spirit and will finally be destroyed by it. There is no time when the Spirit and the flesh can ever compromise or get along together. As we have seen, the Scriptures require that the flesh will finally meet its end in death for eternity.
We now come to the last and third in this series of presentations on this matter by Bro. Roberts. As per usual he makes a very clear and plain observance that the sister who is striving to do what is right, must wear a headcovering. Again, it is emphasized that he never looks at all the important points which would have made it possible for him to avoid such a wrong conclusion.
He categorically states, "The question of woman being covered or uncovered in the exercises of worship is not of very great importance, and may easily become a hurtful question. Though Paul introduces it in 1 Cor. 11:1, he also dismisses it as an inadmissible topic of controversy. 'If any man be contentious,' he says (on the subject), 'we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.'"
It is hard to believe that so late in his life (April 1895, page 140 of The Christadelphian) he could have ever made so blatantly wrong a statement. He first acknowledges that the headcovering of a woman is involving "the exercises of worship". It is hard to believe that anything that is Spirit guided, even the direction of Yahweh and how He must be worshipped, could ever be considered of "not of very great importance." Why wouldn't Yahweh state that how He is worshipped is very important? In fact, isn't this process the most important thing that we can do in our service to Yahweh? How could Bro. Roberts claim that how we are spiritually guided to worship Yahweh is not of very great importance? This does not make any sense to anyone who is considering living a life in obedience to Yahweh. We must state that on many other occasions he gives wise council on the Spirit guided Word. It has to be wondered why he would ignore all the positively Scripturally true statements that he has given on this subject when he deals with it here. The only thing that can be stated is that he is trying to avoid all the problems that this subject which requires the crucifixion of the flesh would manifest. How he could "dismiss it as an inadmissible topic of controversy" can not be understood by anybody guided by the Spirit Word and common logical sense. We are told in Jude 3:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
How could there be in existence any man that is contentious that we should not argue with him? It seems that it MUST be a must in the life of those who are Yahweh's true servants. In 1 Cor. 11:18-19, which is part of this whole presentation, it is clear that such heresies will make those who are committed to the truth apparent. Consider what is stated below:
For first of all, when ye come together in the church [ecclesia], I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. (1 Cor. 11:18-19).
Here we can readily see that part of this controversy involves the fact that there will be heresies and that there will be arguing that will make the approved manifest. The very argument that is involved is what produces the approved people and not the situation where if someone chooses to argue, you just ignore them. How one could come to that conclusion on this passage will never be known except on the basis of submitting to the flesh instead of fighting it. How could anyone make such a wrong statement in their explanation of these passages, that ignores this straightforward statement of the Word bearing on this very case?
Bro. Roberts proceeding with a very sensible argument for why a woman should do it, then makes another incorrect statement when he says, "but, as already said, he dismisses it as a matter not to be debated one way or the other amongst brethren." As we have already seen, the text here and in Jude requires a debating of the foolishness that someone would seek to enter into the ecclesial arena. How such Scripturally correct and easy-to-be-understood passages could be ignored can only be understood under the wisdom of the world, which is foolishness to Yahweh (1 Cor. 3:19). Characteristically, it is only the belief of brethren who are unfortunately guided by the flesh on this issue that agree Bro. Roberts is correct. For anyone who is Scripturally sound, the only logical answer is the one that we have presented on this issue.
He continues to make a very sound case when he says "...and indeed in all other public assemblies, for the absence of covering seems to indicate a boldness and lightness of character in woman not conformable with the spirit of the Truth." At this point he returns to the following foolish conclusion: "...but if there is any disposition to raise contention on the subject, the best way is to consider peace, and give in to the scruples of the critics -- it does not matter much one way or other." It is hard to believe that the definition for peace as described in the Scriptures could ever permit what is said in the above quotation. The Bible makes it very clear that you never give into the peace that the flesh defines because some critic wants to be governed by it, and you are supposed to therefore not argue with them. Consider the following passage:
And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thess. 5:13).
INWARD PEACE THROUGH OUTWARD TURMOIL
The Truth can give peace, and in this peace it can preserve a man amid all the troubles and turmoils of life. Not that he will never know trouble. A righteous man cannot be in this present evil world without knowing trouble: but there is a trouble that is OUTSIDE and a trouble that is INSIDE -- as regards causes.
Christ's troubles were great, but they were all outside; inside, peace was his experience: "My peace" as he called it. So it will be with his brethren. They may know trouble among men, but in their own hearts towards God, peace reigns.
But even this peace is a thing of conditions; and it is the conditions we have to watch. When have we the greatest peace? Is it not when we see the most clearly and believe the most heartily the things declared to us by the Truth? It is the vivid sense of those "things" that imparts peace. -- Bro. Roberts
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27).
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. (Matt. 10:34)
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: (Luke 12:51)
Fellowship and Division
There is such a thing as "the Truth." There is such a thing as "coming out from among" and "having no fellowship with" the indifference and error and evil that prevail, however many may have become insensible to the obligation.
It is the recognition of these that leads to division, and not any insensibility to the advantages of union. The many are indifferent; a few are faithful. Hence the fermentation. It was Christ's understanding of men, and his foresight of the working of things among them that led him to say- "From henceforth there shall be division" (Luke 12:51-52).
The result is inevitable in an evil world, so long as there's any faithfulness left. It is insinuated that withdrawal from errorists is an evil thing. This is a fashionable sentiment, but it is not in accord with the mind of Christ as expressed through the apostles. Love and union are beautiful. They are the most exquisite manifestations of intelligent life possible upon earth, and the earth will yet see their universal triumph when the purpose of God is finished.
But meanwhile, there are other duties. The loving John says concerning those who "bring not the doctrine of Christ" that the faithful are to "receive them not into their house" (2 John 10). And Jesus, in his message through the same John, commends one ecclesia for acting on this discrimination, and condemns one for not --
"Thou (Ephesus) CANST NOT BEAR them that are evil, but have tried them that say they are apostles, and hast found them liars" (Rev. 2:2).
"Thou (Thyatira) sufferest that woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants..." (Rev. 2:20).
Schism is the result of acting out these principles, and it is a good thing, if intelligently and faithfully done. It is a painful and apparently unfriendly process: but there is no choice with those who would be friendly to God first.
The Truth has been an obscure and weak thing from the beginning. From its nature it cannot become popular, because it runs counter to human feeling in so many practical ways not seen at first. Its true friends know this, and they are not working to obtain public success, or even public notice. They are simply carrying out orders. Christ calls for the exhibition of the Light, and they exhibit it.
Hence, it is apparent that peace can only be achieved on the basis of the spirit and not the flesh. There is no rest for the wicked (Isaiah 57:20-21): But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
There can be no rest for the flesh, only for the spirit. Hence, it is Scripturally sound to argue against any of its manifestations. We have seen this conclusively earlier in our presentation. The scruples of a critic can only lead to our demise if he is unanswered. We are always told to answer a fool in Proverbs.
Again, he concludes with the quite unscriptural statement, as we have seen all the way through this dissertation, when he says "it does not matter much one way or other." The flesh definitely loves and agrees with such an agreeable decision. Since there is no compromise in the warfare with the flesh, it means that the flesh is happy with the agreement, and it has brought about our own destruction. Such an end is absolutely horrible to any individual that thinks they are on the side of the Spirit, when they are not. We ask our Brethren to consider carefully what has been said, and disregard the wrong view of Bro. Roberts on this part of the subject. His advice there is absolutely and totally unscriptural. However, what he says on the subject in general regarding what a sister should do, is absolutely and totally correct. We will look forward to anything you might have to say on this subject, so please do not hesitate to write us.