In the first two articles I posted on the identity of the sons of God in Genesis 6, I stated the default position of most in the Western church and refuted it with some negative argumentation. In this article, I will now begin to offer a positive argument for the position I hold. As far as I am aware, there are three common positions held on the sons of God in Genesis 6, one of which I will not concern myself for lack of space and time.
Plain and simple, the position I hold is the position commonly called the “godly line of Seth” view. This position has historically been held by many Protestants, but was most famously championed by Augustine in his City of God. In City of God, Augustine spends the first half of the tome arguing in the negative against those who had claimed that Rome had fallen as a direct result of her abandonment of the Roman gods for Christianity. Augustine argued that those who worshiped the Greek and Roman gods worshiped demons, while those who worshiped Christ were worshiping the one, true and living God of the universe.
In the second half of this multi-volume work, Augustine develops a biblical theology of Christ. He traces through each book of the Bible a Christocentric hermeneutic of redemptive history. If you’ve never read City of God before, it is worth it just to see how he understands how God has worked through the different epochs of redemptive history to bring about His purposes.
History according to Augustine, more than anything else, is God’s story. However, it is not merely God’s story. History is more precisely the story of how God brings about His redemptive purposes through providentially directing the activities of the city of God and the city of man. From the dawn of creation, God has always had His people, and His people are distinct from all other people on the face of the earth.
Nehemiah Coxe picked up this idea of tracing God’s redemptive activity through the word of God when he wrote Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ. Coxe’s unique contribution was that he demonstrated how God’s redemptive work in redemptive history was uniquely covenantal. Of course, as everyone knows who is familiar with this work, Coxe largely borrowed from Congregationalist John Owen in setting out his framework.
Both Augustine and Coxe subscribe to the “godly line of Seth” view, but we should beware lest we subscribe to a view merely because it is affirmed by a theologian we respect. Our minds and our hearts must be bound to Scripture. We must never elevate a man or a creed on par with Scripture. With that in mind, let us take a look at some Scriptural proof for the “godly line of Seth” view.
Our First Parents
In Genesis 1 and 2, we see that Adam and Eve were made holy and happy. They had never sinned, they were naked, and they were unashamed. God had only given them one rule, and that was that they should not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As we know well, our first parents did eat of that fruit and, doing so, they plunged all of their progeny into sin and misery.
However, in Genesis 3, God offered mankind some hope. After having conducted His trial and found the man, his wife, and their deceiver guilty, God rendered His verdict. Upon the woman, He placed a curse, that she would have pain in child-rearing. Upon the man, he placed a similar curse, that he would no longer have joy in his labors. Before pronouncing these curses, though, God pronounced a curse on the serpent, a curse that came with hope for mankind.
“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel” (Genesis 3:15; NASB).
This pronouncement is what many theologians have labeled the proto-euangelion, which basically means the first gospel proclamation. In it, Adam and Eve were given a promise that one of their descendants would eventually set right all that they had destroyed in their rebellious act. Thus, we can imagine the effect that their oldest son’s fratricidal act would have on them.
Cain, Abel, and Seth
In Genesis 4, we witness the murder of one of Adam’s sons at the hand of his other son, likely the one through whom the promised Seed was expected to come. With this act, Cain cast some doubt over the promise God had made on that dismal day in the garden. Through whom was the promised Seed to come? Certainly not Cain!
The second half of Genesis 4 and Genesis 5 serve as a contrast of sorts. After Cain kills Abel, his lineage is detailed for us in the remainder of chapter 4. It is filled with violent, evil men. Chapter Five, however, reestablishes hope for mankind. Adam and Eve have a third son, Seth, and through him come godly men such as Enoch and Noah. On the arrival of Noah, Bible translators provide for us a chapter break. Yet the story is not over.
Do Not Be Unequally Yoked
Just as mankind’s hopes were dashed at the murder of Abel, so too they were dashed just after the godly line of Seth was established. What Moses tells us is that even this godly line was compromised. In fact, it was so corrupted that God saw fit to destroy the earth with a deluge. How was this godly line of Seth compromised? Through marriage.
Throughout the Bible, God forbade His people from intermarrying with pagans and idolaters. He established godly lines (e.g. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David…) through whom He established His covenants and promises, and through whom He would eventually bring the Seed of Abraham: Christ. The “godly line of Seth” argument is that God did not begin this covenantal headship work with Abraham, but with that promise in Genesis 3.
God has always His people, and those people have always had earthly representatives. Today, the Mediator between God and man is the man Jesus Christ. When one is found to be in the people of God under one of these covenant heads, to marry outside of that line is synonymous with apostasy. It simply is not to be done.
To do so will lead to idolatry and sin, as it did for the Israelites in the days of Balaam and still does in the church today. God’s people are not to be unequally yoked. Rather, we are to remain faithful to the God who called us out from among the nations.
Having given my negative and positive arguments for the “godly line of Seth” argument, I plan on giving some applications of these truths in my next article.