Was Matthew Henry a Kinist?

Recently I found some Kinist sources on social media sharing this quotation taken from Matthew Henry’s commentary for Isaiah 2:

1. God set them apart for himself, as a peculiar people, distinguished from, and dignified above, all other people (Num. 23:9); but they were replenished from the east; they naturalized foreigners, not proselyted, and encouraged them to settle among them, and mingled with them, Hos. 7:8. Their country was peopled with Syrians and Chaldeans, Moabites and Ammonites, and other eastern nations, and with them they admitted the fashions and customs of those nations, and pleased themselves in the children of strangers, were fond of them, preferred their country before their own, and thought the more they conformed to them the more polite and refined they were; thus did they profane their crown and their covenant. Note, Those are in danger of being estranged from God who please themselves with those who are strangers to him, for we soon learn the ways of those whose company we love.

Matthew Henry’s commentary; source

The way Kinists interpret this quote is that he is condemning the mixing of different people groups together. According to the Kinist, Matthew Henry does not argue from a theological viewpoint of the foreign religion, but rather the foreign ethnicity: he says the fault of the Israelites was that they were fond of “them” (the foreigners) and preferred the foreigner’s “country” before their own. Therefore, one cannot say Matthew Henry was condemning the embracing of foreign deities, but rather the embracing of other people groups over one’s own kin. This would coincide with the view of Kinism, which says that it is a sin against God’s creative order (akin to homosexuality) for two different ethnic groups to somehow intermix.

Is this the case? Let’s quickly examine a few things…

First, note that Matthew Henry says that God had “set them [the Hebrews] apart for himself, as a peculiar people, distinguished from, and dignified above, all other people”. That is, Matthew Henry is speaking of the old administration, when God’s church was isolated for the most part around the nation of Israel and Judah. Here the Kinist runs into an issue, because Kinists are not Christian Identitarians who believe only white people are the true descendants of Abraham and hence are the true Christians – Kinists fully affirm that non-whites can be Christians. Therefore, for a Kinist to appeal to Matthew Henry’s use of peoples and nations here is erroneous, unless they wish to carry it to a Christian Identity conclusion.

Second, when Matthew Henry speaks of the Hebrews being “replenished from the east”, note that after saying they “naturalized foreigners”, he quickly adds that these foreigners were “not proselyted”. In other words, these foreigners were not converted to the true religion. It is after this quick note that Matthew Henry adds that these unconverted foreigners were “encouraged” to “settle among them” and hence “mingled with them”. If Henry’s concern was along ethnic lines, why would he bring the lack of proselyting up? This brings us to the next point:

Third, we must carefully read Matthew Henry’s concluding warning: “Those are in danger of being estranged from God who please themselves with those who are strangers to him, for we soon learn the ways of those whose company we love.” Note: Matthew Henry says that people are “in danger of being estranged from God” if they choose to please themselves “with those who are strangers to him”. Is this genetic, or spiritual language? It’s clearly spiritual language. Being a stranger to God is to be outside of His covenant, if not outside the faith, and being estranged from God is to be cast aside from His presence – this is the language of scripture. Matthew Henry is speaking, again, of spiritual crimes related to true religion, not genetic crimes related to ethnic lineage.

Fourth, the rest of Matthew Henry’s writings would be problematic for the Kinist, if we are to assume from this one section that he held or was sympathetic to Kinist views. For example, when looking at Deuteronomy 7:3 (a popular prooftext for Kinists to use against interracial marriage), Henry clearly sees it as theological in context, saying it is a warning against “irreligious ungodly marriages” (source). Matthew Henry likewise affirms that Rahab was a Gentile (source), and Ruth an ethnic Moabite (see here), over and against the Kinist claims that Rahab was a descendant of nomadic Hebrews (see here and here) while Ruth was an ethnic Hebrew who lived in the region of Moab (see here).

Kinists therefore read Matthew Henry’s words here similar to how they read Deuteronomy 7:3: by taking the ethnic-sounding parts and reading modern concepts of racial purity into them, while ignoring the theological aspects in the immediate and surrounding context. (See my blog post on the topic here.) Just as with that verse, a closer examination reveals that Matthew Henry was not condoning Kinism in any way, shape, or form, let alone that he was condemning the general practice of different people groups mixing together.

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