Jesus Christ Is Lord

That every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

Posts Tagged ‘Jerome’

The Early Church Fathers: Amillennialism and Universalism

Posted by Job on October 15, 2008

According to William J. La Due, who can hardly be considered fundamentalist (he has been a professor at St. Francis Seminary and Catholic University of America) in The Trinity Guide To Eschatology (which I do not recommend) Irenaeus of Lyons, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Hippolytus were millennialists. It was those who came later, such as Origen, Jerome, and Augustine who rejected it, and Origen and Augustine in particular for amillennialism.

What happened? Simple: the influence of Greek paganism. From La Due’s writings, it is easy to connect the dots and come to the conclusion that 1) amillennialism was required for universalism and 2) universalism was needed to resolve the conflict between Christianity and Hellenism. Despite the claims of universalists that their interpretations are more consistent with the overall body of scripture, the truth is that Origen and the rest simply used a grotesquely out of context interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:28 (When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all) to justify their refusal to reject Greek pagan religion.

La Due further stated that the first prominent theologian to try to merge Christianity and Hellenism was Clementine of Alexandria, who died in the early 3rd century. This Clementine was the first Christian advocate of purgatory. By this Clementine imported the Greek mythological concept of purgatory into Christianity as a key component of universalism. (The Vatican II returned to Clementine’s doctrine by using purgatory to facilitate “all religions and good people who follow them lead to heaven” pluralism as opposed to “everyone whether religious or not and good or evil goes to heaven” universalism.)

Augustine incidentally rejected universalism. Further the Roman church did not get around to officially condemning Origenism in 543 and 553. (Augustine’s view of purgatory, by the way, were much closer to Jesus Christ’s parable of Lazarus and the rich man than they were to contemporary or historic Roman Catholic doctrine on the matter.) However, only Origen was so condemned, not Gregory of Nyssa, Clement of Alexandria, or the many others that played with this doctrine, including Ambrose of Milan. La Due suggests that the real reason why Origen was condemned while the many other universalists were not was Origen’s proto – Mormon doctrine of pre – existence, not universalism. Perhaps condemning universalism would have meant condemning purgatory as well?

In any event, it certainly looks like Origen and his fellow travelers rejected the endtimes views of the early church because millennialism (and ultimately eternal punishment) made doctrines that conformed to the worldviews of the Greeks unworkable. We see the same thing going on today, with not only so many leading evangelicals following the lead of Vatican II Roman Catholics and theological liberals in adopting pluralism to please the current philosophical mindset, but many also adopting annhiliationism (the belief that sinners will simply cease to exist based on the notion that the worth of man is so great that God cannot judge mankind as He sees fit without being considered cruel and tyrannical). By contrast, Augustine taught that the reason why sinners would be resurrected and receive new incorruptible bodies on judgment day would be so that the flames of the lake of fire would never consume them!

Alas, it is regrettable that so many Reformed evangelicals either believe in the pre – tribulation rapture (i.e. John MacArthur or Albert Pendarvis) or amillennialism (e.g. R.C. Sproul). It is even more regrettable that many Reformed amillennialists insist that amillennialism was the mainstream position of the early church. On the other hand, it does appear that my oft – proposed theory that the Constantism (the Roman imperial church and the Roman Catholic Church) adopted and promoted amillennialism to justify its goals of co – opting Christianity for political and military ambitions – dominionism or official theology – is problematic, as amillennialism has to go with the practice of worshiping saints and Mary and the doctrine of purgatory as yet another thing that cannot be blamed on Constantinism because it predated his takeover of Christianity by at least 100 years. Amillennialism is not evidence of how the Roman Empire took Christianity off its path, but rather how the Roman Empire adopted a faith that had already long veered from its apostolic foundations.

So instead, amillennialism, purgatory, saint and angel worship, and the heresies concerning Mary were simply attempts to make the faith acceptable, conformed with, and relevant with the world. Am I exaggerating, then, to say that Clement and Origen of those days are the emergent leaders like Rick Warren, Erwin McManus, Rob Bell, and Dan Kimball or political Christians like James Dobson, Barry Lynn and Bill Moyers today? Not a whole lot, and probably not at all. Whether it is Hellenism or enlightenment rationalism or postmodernist consumerism, James 4:4 and Romans 12:1-2 still applies.

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I Have No Choice Left But To Join The Predestination Camp

Posted by Job on November 22, 2007

Update: though I am now TULIP, I will not take the chauvinistic attitudes against LILAC Christians as exhibited by things like this link: The “god” Of Arminianism and this: Free-Willism Preaches Another Jesus. Claiming that free will Christians aren’t going to heaven cannot be supported by honest interpretation of scripture. Thank you. 

I was raised in free will Christianity and had an entire worldview shaped around it that seemed quite logical to me. However, it is now based on that same logic that I must reject the doctrine of Jacobus Arminius with regards to the salvation of man. The tipping point for me was reading an excerpt of a letter from Pelagius, opponent of Augustine and Jerome, to Demetrias. In it, Pelagius, who espoused free will and denied the existence of original sin, asserted that God had given all men the strength to choose good or evil, and that it was our responsibility to use it. He did allow that said strength was somewhat limited, but that God knew that limitation for He knew how much strength He gave us. Still, God gave us sufficient strength to continuously exercise good over evil.

Keep in mind that this is a holy God who hates sin and loves His creation. So then, why then would this God not give us enough strength never to sin at all, knowing that the result would not only be the corruption that He hates but the damnation of His creation to eternal wrath? It it has to be because either He would not or that He could not. Go one way and God is not a God of love. Go another way and God is not all powerful. The result of either is having no God at all.

Also, consider that man does have the ability to choose salvation, even if this ability is not inherent in man but rather a gift of the same common grace that is available to all men. That, then place the responsibility on God to get men to accept salvation. To use a business analogy, God would then be the salesman, humanity would be the consumer, and Jesus Christ would be the product. If this is so, then that makes God the worst salesman in the history of the universe! Consider that fast food restaurants have no problem selling expensive unhealthy low quality food that any benefits derived from eating will disappear like chaff in a furnace (the negative health effects will last somewhat longer especially if you consume such “food” with any regularity) but God’s Son is available for free with immeasurable benefits that accrue over time and last an eternity.

And what are the consequences of passing up McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, or the Chinese food buffet? Missing a meal or having to “settle” for a sandwich made from whatever you can find in your refrigerator. (I suggest living with those consequences whenever possible.) But the consequences of passing up Jesus Christ is eternal wrath. So is our God so incompetent a salesman that He is unable to convince even an utter fool of the merits of His FREE merchandise? Considering not so much that the sovereign holy righteous God would never immolate and humiliate Himself before man in order to beg His acceptance in the first place, but this scenario requires believing that He would do such a thing only to be grotesquely incompetent at it.

Make no mistake, the existence of free will makes every the failure of each and every man that rejects God a failure of God … a failure due to some flaw, unrighteousness, or lack of knowledge in God that cannot be blamed on man. And this is very important in questions regarding the goodness or fairness of God. You may with your human judgment condemn God for being partial, arbitrary, and even cruel for refusing to save everyone. That is fine with me. The reason is that for me the existence of God is made self evident by virtue of creation. I find the existence of a God that may appear less than fair according to limited human understanding by refusing to save everyone preferable to that of a God that is clearly incompetent by any understanding that wants to save everyone but is not only incapable of accomplishing it, but moreover only succeeds in saving a small number! It appears that we are so often needful to believe in a God that is “fair” to suit our own purposes that that even a reasonably competent God – let alone the God of the Bible that is sovereign, holy, high and lifted up, righteous, loving, gracious, and powerful – gets rejected in the process.

So I am now forced to cease resisting the meaning of John 10:25-28Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

Are you willing to accept the free gift of salvation? If so, please follow the Three Step Salvation Plan.

Posted in Calvinism, Christianity, election, predestination, Theodicy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 104 Comments »

 
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