The following is a posting of two messages. First appears a press release that announced the release of my book Rightly Divided a few years ago. I have updated a few details but kept it mainly as it appeared at the time. Below this appears a handful of testimonials for the book, from readers. - JFM
NEW BOOK JOINS OTHERS TO SHAPE TREND
The author of Rightly Divided becomes the latest of several who are taking up never-before-pondered questions about what is and is not New Covenant doctrine.
Arising amidst what has become a new direction in Bible scholarship within the church of Christ, a recently released book by Jesse Mullins, Jr., joins a handful of other fresh studies that challenge long-held assumptions about the meaning and context of scripture in the Biblical books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The book, entitled Rightly Divided, challenges a 500-year-old tradition, one that has been handed down to our age from the pre-Reformation era that was dominated by Roman Catholicism. That tradition holds that Jesus’ public ministry, which is recounted to us in the before-the-cross portions of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, includes Jesus’ declarations of New Testament commandments for Christians to follow today. Mullins disagrees, saying that this is a hand-me-down Catholic doctrine, one that was never fully recognized and corrected by the Restorationists of the past two centuries. Jesus’ binding commandments to Christians began after His ascension and enthronement in heaven, and were delivered to us through Jesus’ chosen vessels on earth, those being the apostles, prophets, and scribes of the New Testament—that is, the New Testament of Acts through Revelation, as Mullins describes it.
Mullins states that he is not alone in that contention. Dan Billingsly, a gospel preacher of 50 years’ experience, is the foremost proponent of that interpretation, and Mullins says that for four years he studied and worked with Billingsly, who now lives in Lubbock, Texas. Billingsly is author of Understanding the Bible and Twenty-five Reasons Why Matthew 19:9 is Not New Testament Doctrine. Billingsly has contended that it was Catholic clergy who in 1486 sought and approved the insertion of a New Testament title page in all Bibles between the end of Malachi and the beginning of Matthew. Prior to that year, no Bible had ever included such a division, he states. Billingsly’s website, incidentally, can be found at www.biblesstudiesbydanbillingsly.com.
Meanwhile, author and evangelist Sam Dawson has contended, in his recent book Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage, that “…the gospels are a Jewish story, not a Christian story.” Dawson, of Amarillo, Texas, also remarked that “The Sermon on the Mount is Old Covenant teaching, not New Covenant teaching.” Mullins and Billingsly argue likewise. Dawson’s offerings can be viewed at www.gospelthemes.com. Dawson arrived at his views independent of Mullins and Billingsly. Dawson expresses his own views on this subject in a 500-page work entitled The Teaching of Jesus: A Faithful Rabbi Urgently Warns Rebellious Israel.
Dawson had this to say of Mullins’ book: “Among people striving to be just New Testament Christians, it is imperative that one has an accurate concept of just what the New Testament is. We have told our friends in denominations that in interpreting the Bible, they need to pay attention to who is speaking, and who is being spoken to. However, in the Gospels, we have not paid close enough attention to the context ourselves. Jesse Mullins’ Rightly Divided is a great aid in determining just what New Testament teaching is.”
Evangelist Dyrel Collins, whose studies are among the best-selling books carried by his publisher, Star Bible Publications (Fort Worth, Texas), takes a somewhat different tack. As Collins, of College Station, Texas, states: “Much of what Christ said applied to Jews only and some of the statements would apply at any time and under any law, such as, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.’ My own study has led me to this conclusion: Only those specific commands which are further elaborated upon, explained, or defined in Acts through Revelation are exclusive commands to be obeyed by the church today.” Collins is at work on a new study that will expound his views in this vein. Meanwhile, his books Marriage is God’s Plan and Assumptions and Additions are available through Star Bible Publications. (Website: www.starbible.com).
None of these authors agree in all particulars, but they are arriving at conclusions that have points in common, and other Christians around the country are contributing to these viewpoints as well.
Mullins, who resides in Abilene, Texas, says his study of the scriptures convinced him that Billingsly is right, and that he took Billingsly’s interpretations as the starting point for his own book. He says he believes his own work has not only substantiated Billingsly’s findings, but has broken additional ground, opening fresh areas of study, particularly with regard to Jesus’ roles as prophet, priest, and king.
“Scripture shows us when Jesus was anointed for each of these offices,” Mullins says. “And scripture shows that Jesus was not anointed as our king or as our high priest until after His resurrection. The only office that Jesus filled prior to His crucifixion was that of prophet—He was the Hebrew Messiah, the Prophet, and as such He spoke as other prophets before Him did, declaring the word of the Father exclusively. He was not His own prophet—He was the prophet of Jehovah. Kingdoms are ruled by kings, not by prophets. Jehovah was king and lawmaker over Israel until He crowned Jesus in heaven. Jesus received covenant authority when He received ‘all power and authority,’ and that was not until after His resurrection, as shown in Matthew 28:18. Prior to the crucifixion, when Jesus opened His mouth and words came out, those words were the words of the Father, not something reflective of the mind of Christ, who was then only the Father’s instrument. That’s what it means to be a prophet. As scripture teaches, a prophet does not speak his own words.”
So what has been the response to Rightly Divided?
“The only way I am able to judge public response to the book is by feedback from those people who have bought and read the book,” Mullins says. “Perhaps that’s a biased sample, but it’s the only sample that I can produce, and it’s the only sample that would have any qualifications for offering opinions. And within that sample, there are more people who express agreement with me than there are people who disagree or indicate uncertainty. By an overwhelming margin.”
The book is the first by this author, who preaches only on occasion and only as invited. For 15 years he served as Editor-in-Chief of American Cowboy magazine, a lifestyle periodical read by 250,000 Americans and circulated on magazine racks across the country.
Although the author says that he did not aim his book at an audience of academics, he allows that if the book finds wide acceptance, its findings will impact studies in theology—in particular the field that theologians refer to as Christology. The book’s findings would also impact conclusions drawn in the field known as “the Search for the Historical Jesus.” Mullins says that he brings no new historical evidence to the “Historical Jesus” debate, but his scriptural interpretations, if accepted, are bound to overturn many assumptions in that field. “To try to summarize these aspects in a sentence or even a paragraph would just be confusing—someone needs to read the book to see how these fields of study are impacted. I wasn’t out to contribute to either discipline, but some things became increasingly apparent as I delved deeper into this subject,” Mullins said.
For more on Rightly Divided, visit Mullins’ website at www.jessemullins.com, where the author has posted information as well as the first two chapters. He can be reached at 817 Elmwood Drive, Abilene, TX 79605 or by calling 469.371.7323. He can be emailed at jfm at jessemullins.com. Copies are available for $16.95, postpaid.
TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW with the author, contact him directly through the addresses/numbers given above.
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT RIGHTLY DIVIDED
“I’ve finished it once, and have started over again. It is the most wonderful answer to so many questions I’ve had over the years. I can’t say enough good about it. Brother Mullins detects every question, and counter-question, that anyone might have, at least at this writing. I wish that everyone could read it with honesty and the will to surge ahead with new zeal through better understanding. What a wonderful gift that [Dan Billingsly and Jesse Mullins] have given to people everywhere." —Barbara Hassell, Ketchikan, Alaska
“This book Rightly Divided is as plain as anyone could have made it to show the right way to divide the covenants. I am so proud to have this book and to know there are more people of the same mind. It would be wonderful to get this book to the brotherhood, to those who are seeking and teaching God’s Word.” —Margie Reagan, Hixson, Tenn.
“Rightly Divided is an excellent source for gaining a better knowledge of the covenants of the Bible. The clarity of familiar Bible passages is overwhelming and I highly recommend this book for easy reading and understanding.” —Lorraine Cornelison, Clarksville, Ind.
“Having read your book from cover to cover, I find it easy reading and smooth flowing… Your insights and explanations of why the Bible must be studied by separate covenants, with no overlapping, not only supports Dan’s [Billingsly’s] work, but gives another dimension to understanding. I am requesting four more copies… Thanks for a much needed work, well done!” —Joseph McGraw, Palm Coast, Fla.
“I’ve just recently completed your book Rightly Divided. Since I’ve received [earlier, and in addition to this] Dan Billingsly’s material, it’s as if I’ve just recently had any knowledge at all of the New Testament. Your book complements and enhances Dan’s work… I told my congregation how I’ve learned from Dan and you and that’s how I intend to keep worshipping. Your book is a great help.” —Kermit Keen, Yawkee, West Va.
“This new book, Rightly Divided, by Jesse Mullins, Jr., is enlightening and thought provoking! The style and logic reminds me of the late Reuel Lemmons. Fact is, Reuel was a distant relative of Jesse’s. The insights of this fine treatise challenge us to study the Word more carefully, that we might embrace truth rather than tradition. May God be glorified by all who seek to strengthen and further the restoration of the faith.” —Eddie Bowman, Galena, Mo.
“Read this book twice before writing… I am now studying with our local elders to show them how important this is… so that we can have an ‘all congregation’ study of this. We must be ‘overcomers’! Keep up the good work.” —Ed Steen, Barboursville, W. Va.
“This book is most enlightening. I am seeing things that I have been looking at for years.” —William Hardin, Dallas, Ga.
FOR THE BOOK'S PREFACE AND FIRST TWO CHAPTERS, AS WELL AS SOME KEY EXCERPTS, CLICK HERE.
You must be logged in to post a comment.