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 ‘official theology’

Is Your Eschatology Political Or Biblical?

Posted by Job on March 12, 2011

Sorry for the disproportionate emphasis on the endtimes lately. Rest assured, I am not reverting back to my “Heal The Land With Spiritual Warfare” angry Pentecostal days when I was given to much speculation concerning anti-Christ new world order conspiracies. It is merely that I have finally gotten around to reading an excellent book recommended by the Irish Anglican, which is “Interpreting Revelation: A Reasonable Guide to Understanding the Last Book in the Bible” by the late Merrill Tenney, an evangelical theologian who at one point was under the employ of Wheaton College. Now this Tenney was not nearly objective; rather it was quite easy from reading the book to discern that his beliefs tended towards premillennial dispensationalism/pre-tribulation rapture. Fortunately (for me anyways) Tenney pays little attention to his rapture beliefs beyond “gently” mentioning it as a possibility now and then, and instead deals with other issues using my own preferred methodology, which is literal-historical-redemptive interpretation of Bible texts (a hermeneutic that relies mostly on literal interpretation but allows for symbolic and figurative interpretation where appropriate) supported by responsible prooftexting (interpreting scripture with scripture without using verses out of context in order to support some agenda or bias) and appeals to church history. This makes it possible for me to (mostly) agree with Tenney’s scholarship in “Interpreting Revelation” in spite of my disagreement with his belief in (and in this book advocacy of, however mildly) a pretribulation rapture.
Of particular interest are chapters 8 and 9 of his text, which are “The Chronological Approach” and “The Eschatological Method.” In those, Tenney makes the case – though oddly enough this case was not his intention to make – that premillennialism was the eschatological view adopted based on the Biblical (and extrabiblical) text, and that other systems, particularly preterism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism, were developed for political reasons. (Regrettably, Tenney fails to distinguish between his own modern premillennialism – which includes dispensationalism – and historic premillennialism, or chiliasm. His case would have been much stronger, and dare I say more honest, had he done so. That, and his shocking failure to deal with the objections to premillennialism – his own view – as thoroughly as he did with the systems with which he disagrees actually constitute a greater shortcoming than his occasional stumping for the pretribulation rapture.)
First, preterism. Tenney convincingly credits its development with Alcazar, a Roman Catholic Jesuit friar. This Alcazar was a counter-Reformer, which was a duty of The Society of Jesus in general. He developed preterism in order to refute Protestant attacks on the legitimacy of the Roman Catholic Church, as the Reformers polemically used Revelation to refer to this church and its pope as “Babylon” and “anti-Christ.” His method: claiming that Revelation was written in reference to the early church’s struggle with the Jews (chapters 1-12) and paganism (13-19) and had no contemporary or future application whatsoever. Thus, Alcazar followed after a long line that began at the very latest with Eusebius in marginalizing Revelation for political purposes. What is amazing is that Protestant theologians soon began to adopt for themselves a Roman Catholic system created for the very purpose of opposing – and attempting to destroy – the Protestant Reformation, and many have used it ever since despite knowing its original origin and purpose! Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.
Next, Tenney deals with the political origins of postmillennialism: Augustine’s need to defend the declining Roman Empire (and the ecclesiastical arm of the church-state) along with it. The idea at the time – first proposed by Eusebius in his “official theology” created to support the political aims of Constantine, to whom Eusebius served as an “advisor” – was essentially that the Roman Empire through its making Christianity the state religion, was the earthly fulfilment of the kingdom of God, and that the empire and its church would grow (whether by conversion or coercion) to fill the earth and thereby fulfil the prophecies concerning the global reign of Jesus Christ. Of course, this doctrine JUST HAPPENED to provide a religious justification for the need/desire of the Roman Empire to wage war, conquer territory and subdue/repress people. When the Roman Empire began to crumble, Augustine had to rework his doctrines somewhat in order to arrive at the position that even though the present political order – the Roman Empire – might collapse, the visible church destined to gain global dominion (and domination) would continue by attaching itself to whatever political, social and economic order that existed (whether the Roman Empire of Constantine’s time, the feudalism of the Dark and Middle Ages, or our current political hegemony) and adapting to fit it.
To pull this off, Augustine had to use an allegorical/spiritual method of interpreting Revelation (and other texts) that allowed him to strip the text of its intended meaning and assign the meaning that suited his purposes, which of course were the purposes of the empire and its state church. In that regards, we can consider Augustine to be a postmodern reader-response deconstructionist sort whom the Marxist scholar Jacques Derrida merely followed after 1500 years later! One of the things that Augustine had to do was deny a literal first resurrection, that of the martyrs spoken of in Revelation 20:4-6, by making the amazing claim that this passage referred to Christian regeneration! Now while Augustine was technically not Roman Catholic (but rather “proto-Catholic”) it is still amazing that so many Protestants followed his eschatological groundwork when it so blatantly involved willfully denying the meaning of scripture in order to contrive an interpretation that suited his political needs. Now, the Reformers were motivated to remain basically loyal to Augustine’s eschatology because of their commitment to his soteriology. The problem is that where Augustine’s soteriology is easily confirmed by a plain reading of the Bible, one has to reject that plain reading in order to adopt his eschatology. The Reformers erred in not being consistent in their hermeneutics, and with regard to the magisterial Reformers in general, were not free of their own political needs in maintaining their own church-states.
Amillennialism, at least according to Tenney, is little more than an improved or more sophisticated and “realistic” postmillennialism. Thus, it follows the same Eusebius-Augustine theological lineage, and ultimately comes to the same conclusions, even if – again according to Tenney – it makes better use of scripture in arriving at them. For instance, amillennialism also generally denies a literal first resurrection. Which is understandable: if the church and the political/economic/military/religious/cultural systems (the world) are one and the same, then who is martyring the Christians that will be resurrected? However, it should be pointed out that amillennialists do generally acknowledge that evil will increase before the return of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus Christ does return to overthrow and judge a wicked worldly system, a wicked ungodly antiChrist system (as opposed to a personal antiChrist). At best, this system is an attempt to reconcile political eschatology with what the Bible actually says. As stated earlier, this was likely done because these doctrines came as part of a larger packaged doctrinal system (i.e. covenant theology).
Then, there is premillennialism. Tenney does acknowledge that premillennialism was not the consensus view of the early church, though he does regretfully understate this fact. However, Tenney does effectively make the case that premillennialism was a doctrine of many Christians from the earliest times in recorded church history, and naming such people as Papias and Justin Martyr (who wrote mere decades after the canon was completed, as early as 115 AD) as well as Irenaeus. Tenney uses the uncanny similarity between the millenarian teachings in Revelation and those in such apocryphal books as Baruch and Esdras IV as evidence of the existence of chiliast beliefs in the first century church. Of course, many throughout church history have used this fact against premillennialism, claiming that it is Jewish propaganda and misinterpretations of prophecy, but that principle is not used against apocryphal and extrabiblical references that appear in other Bible books (i.e. the book of Jasher and the book of the wars of the Lord in the Old Testament; the book of Enoch and the Assumption of Moses in Jude).
Of course, embrace of premillennialism was far from universal in the early church. However, some of that can be attributed to anti-Jewish bias among Gentile Christians (which scripture tells us was developing as far back as when Paul composed the epistle to the Romans), and more still to a lack of a normative canon, and in particular the fact that Revelation appears to have been among the last books to gain widespread circulation and acceptance. However, it is known that vigorous opposition to chiliasm – and in many cases to Revelation itself, including many who wanted to either explain away its meaning and application or keep it out of the canon altogether – did not arise until Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire, and that this opposition was motivated by the need to depict the Roman Empire as the fulfilment of God’s kingdom. Tenney’s assertion of this point is by no means unique, but is repeated in any number of books on church history, and in particular those that deal with the debate over Revelation’s inclusion in the canon.
A final positive contribution by Tenney is his debunking the common claim that premillennialism received its modern revival thanks to the works of such spurious characters as Cyrus Scofield. The effects of this contribution is somewhat diminished by Tenney’s failure to acknowledge that at least some of the Christians who began investigating premillennialism had social and political motivations. This was true of certain radical Anabaptists in their violent upheavals in the 16th and 17th centuries, and also of Christians operating in the political, economic and social upheavals in the United States and England in the 19th century. Still, Tenney does identify a list of more reputable scholars who contributed to the revival of premillennialism (including historic premillennialism, which again Tenney regrettably does not distinguish) including Johann Albrecht Bengel, Hermann Olshausen, Heny Alford (definitely a chiliast), Johann Peter Lange (somewhat questionable because of his tendencies towards neo-orthodoxy), Andrew Fausset (another chiliast), Joseph Seiss, Franz Delitzsch and Charles Ellicott. Unfortunately, Tenney does the credibility of his effort in compiling that list great harm by including Plymouth Brethren hyperdispensationalist (a position that challenges the unity of the New Testament by setting Paul’s teachings over against those of the gospels and Acts) John Nelson Darby on his list of “reputable scholars”! (Why Darby and not Scofield, who in some respects is actually LESS problematic?)
So, Tenney’s book, despite its problems, helps one arrive at the conclusion is that premillennialism is the eschatological position that, despite is shortcomings, reflects the Biblical text according to a consistent hermeneutic and early church doctrines, and not the political need to assert that a church-state serves as the kingdom of heaven until the return of Jesus Christ. The former view integrates Revelation into a consistent schema of Old and New Testament thought – and not merely thought related to the apocalyptic/eschatological/prophetic – while the latter makes one wonder why Revelation is in the canon in the first place, and especially its application to contemporary Christians.
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My Questions On Many Contemporary Practices Of Spiritual Warfare And Deliverance

Posted by Job on May 15, 2009

When I first began this site – as well as its now defunct predecessor – it was primarily one devoted to spiritual warfare and deliverance based on what I had learned from reading works by such people as Frank Hammond, John Eckhart, and to a lesser degree Rebecca Brown, Frank Peretti and Derek Prince. (Now where this field is considered to be dominated by Pentecostals and charismatics, please know that Frank Hammond, considered to be one of the most influential teachers in this area, had a Baptist background, having been trained at Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

Now when doing research – inasmuch as web searches can be considered research! – for teachings and material to include, quite naturally I would encounter many statements by Christians opposed to spiritual warfare and deliverance ministries and ignored them, chalking it up to faithlessness and false doctrines. However, one of them did capture my attention. It did not dismiss the possibility of Christians conducting legitimate deliverance ministries out of hand, which forced me to pay attention to it.

However, this article stated that the methods  to cast out demons popularized by Hammond and fellow travelers not New Testament doctrine and did not conform to the example by which Jesus Christ and Paul cast out demons. Instead, the “Pigs In The Parlor” and “He Came To Set The Captives Free” spiritual deliverance techniques far more closely resembled accounts of how rabbis used to cast out demons as recorded in the Talmud and other rabbinical writings. This document further stated that there was a line of Messianic prophecies among the rabbis that when the Messiah came, He would not have to rely on the laborious techniques of the old covenant rabbis, but instead would be able to cast out demons with power and authority, the spoken command. See, for example, Luke 4:33-37. Also note that Paul’s example of casting out a demon was much more after the manner of Jesus Christ in Acts 16:18. And the clincher, as far as I was concerned, was the assertion that the Frank Hammond method was also very similar to Roman Catholic exorcisms! (How ironic that J.P. Moreland, upset over a friend of his having to leave a prominent evangelical post upon this friend of his converting to Roman Catholicism, stated that evangelical Christians should abandon sola scriptura, calling it “Bible idolatry“, and suggested that among other things Roman Catholic traditions on exorcisms was an area where evangelicals should learn from Catholics!)

Now having rejected all of the other arguments against contemporary spiritual warfare and deliverance ministries, this one – that it did  not conform to the example of scripture and that it was an imitation of practices of intertestamental Judaism and of Roman Catholicism – I did not have an adequate answer for. So, I decided that while I would leave the existing spiritual warfare material on the site – reasoning that they are, at the very least, better than nothing and certainly preferable to the modern evangelical trend of relying more and more on psychology and psychotherapy, fields that were largely invented by New Agers, occultists, atheists, and sexual perverts (do a little research, it’s true!) – while refraining from adding new ones until I came across more Bible based doctrines of conducting spiritual warfare and deliverance.

Sadly, I have not encountered such doctrines as of yet, and in the past year or so have focused less on this area and more on “Christianity 101”, things having to do with the basics of the Christian faith and Christian living. Perhaps when I am done with grounding myself in the basics of the faith – matters of which I was very presumptuous and prideful while being wholly ignorant and immature – it will be a good time to investigate the doctrines of casting devils out of people anew.

Still, I have continued to discover more things about the teachings of Frank Hammond in particular that trouble me. First, Hammond takes a vast array of sinful habits and behaviors and attributes them to demons. (I actually had the goal of reproducing Hammond’s “demon groupings” chart on this site and never completed it because it was so large, now I am rather glad that I failed in that undertaking.) But the more that I ponder his teachings in this area, I perceive this as not considering Romans 7. This is not to say that Frank Hammond rejects Romans 7, but I have not seen him incorporate Romans 7 in his doctrines or applications in any careful way. This is very serious, because a study of Romans 7 is vital in discerning whether activity is demonic or simply due to what Romans 7 calls “the body of sin.” Instead, Frank Hammond advocates relying on a Holy Spirit gift for discerning demons. Now how does the Holy Spirit gift for discerning demons operate, and how are we to use it in a church or ministry context? The Bible does not say, so we have to rely on the teachings of Frank Hammond to tell us. Also, where Romans 7 makes it clear that there are some battles with our old natures that Christians are going to have to deal with until we get to heaven, Hammond’s teachings claim that such merely represents failed or incomplete spiritual deliverances, so we have to return to the deliverance ministers to do still more confessions of past sins in counseling sessions and then have still more nested interlocking demon groups buried and hiding deep inside of us, demons and demon groupings that the Holy Spirit gift of discernment failed to identify in previous sessions, out. That does appear to contradict this passage of Romans 7.

Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

Claiming that this passage does not refer to the striving of Christians against the flesh and the need of grace to overcome ignores scriptures that can be used to interpret this scripture such as Galatians 5:24-25 and 1 Peter 2:11. This doctrine makes it appear that Christian living should, save an intermittent battle or three with a demon or temptation, basically be strife and trouble free, and that any Christian who is not experiencing Hammond’s definition of “life more abundantly” is either demonized or still engaged in sin habits that need to be broken, is living under some “generational curse”, has some “demon of inheritance” or that needs to be discerned and broken, and so on.

These doctrines deny the fact that Christian life is supposed to be inherently trying and difficult … one of persecution, chastening and affliction, dying to self daily, carrying the cross or cross-life. It makes me wonder if Hammond or any of the others in his school has ever read Pilgrim’s Progress or anything similar. It also, in a style that anticipated the current Oprahesque style of modern Christianity, which allows a person to reject accountability. Where today a professed Christian who follows the New Agey Dr. Phil psychobabbleanalytical doctrines can simply blame parents, teachers, classmates, spouses, pastors, or any number of emotional or mental problems for their unBiblical behavior, the Hammond school allows a person to simply say “the devil made me do it” and profess a need for spiritual deliverance. Either way, you get to blame someone else rather than yourself, and in this way you deny your need for a Savior and for grace, because you avoid coming to grips with your true nature. Rather than seeing yourself as a wretched sinner badly in need of grace and the work of the cross to impute righteousness to you that you do not deserve and never will, you see yourself as this basically good and decent person against whom there is this grand conspiracy of evil spirits and rotten circumstances to keep the real you, an inherently good and virtuous person, from coming out.  

Either way, it encourages you to hold onto an unBiblically inflated image of yourself and blame other entities – whether human, spiritual or institutional (as Hammond does speak of “prince demons” that control institutions, and claim that Christians should go into directed warfare against them to reclaim these institutions … there goes dominionism gospel of Eusebius and Constantine again!) – for your inability to live up to your own self image, which is an unBiblical delusion to begin with. Legitimate spiritual warfare and deliverance, indeed legitimate Christianity, is concerned with casting off this self – image delusion, which is part and parcel of the old man that needs to be cast off so that we may put on the new man (Colossians 3:10Ephesians 4:24). These doctrines make it appear that the difficult process of discipleship and Christian growth and maturity, as well as coming to grips with the nature of sin and meaning of grace, are unnecessary and unproductive, as it is far better to simply declare yourself and everyone else to be demonized. 

Most seriously, the Hammond doctrines seem to reject or distort the doctrines of original sin, the effects of the fall. They seem to create a picture where man is basically good, and all he needs to do to recover his inherent goodness and virtue is choose Jesus Christ as his Savior. Having done that, any problems or defects are not due to the exceedingly true and vile cosmic and metaphysical nature of the fall and original sin, but instead an evil spirit that is soiling what should by nature be perfect. At the very least, it in effect claims that the result of Jesus Christ’s work on the cross should have been to make us practically sinless with no need to battle and struggle in this life. Either way, Hammond’s doctrines distort or misunderstand either what the Bible says about original sin or the workings of the grace. Thus, Frank Hammond would claim that Paul was a liar when he stated in scripture that God told Paul that His grace was sufficient for Paul to deal with his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:6-9). Instead, Hammond’s doctrine would have us believe that Paul was simply demonized and that confessing his sins and being rid of the root of bitterness due to issues from his childhood that left all these doors open was the solution, nothing about this “for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” doctrine that does not fit into Hammond’s view of victorious abundant Christian living!

Another thing: it is amazing how legalistic and guilt inducing the Hammond method is. It would have you believing that your mind, spiritual makeup, etc. contains this innumerable vortex of labyrinths and doors. The labyrinths are these hidden chambers that can contain a demon or three that must be entered into – with the guide of the Holy Spirit gift of discernment and aided by detailed confessions in counseling sessions – to draw the demons out. The doors are sinful thoughts and actions by which a born again Blood of Jesus Christ washed Holy Spirit indwelt believer can allow a demon or demons in at any time. So, the pruning and chastening process, the battles and temptations with sin, and the need to overcome that the Bible states that all Christians must endure are attributed to some sin (often in the past) that a Christian failed to confess, someone that the Christian failed to forgive, some “spiritual door” that is allowing demons in that needs to be closed, etc.

And this is probably the worst practical part of it. The most powerful weapon that Christians have in overcoming temptation and battling the flesh is prayer. Well, Hammond explicitly tells us not to use it, and does so in the very opening pages of Pigs In The Parlor. Hammond states that spiritual warfare and deliverance is not prayer, that praying for God to help us and to overcome in our lives issues that Hammond alleges is due to demons is at best redundant and possibly ineffective. Hammond counsels us that when we pray for things, it is our asking God to grant us something that we do not have already. But, according to Hammond, as authority over evil spirits is something that we have already through Jesus Christ, why pray regarding these matters? Praying when confronted with these issues is a way of ignoring, rejecting, even DENYING the power and authority that Jesus Christ has given you! So … when dealing with what Hammond asserts is demonic activity – which again is either discerned with the appropriate Holy Spirit gifts, or discerned through other means by those lacking this gift using methods that Hammond provides – BY ALL MEANS DO NOT PRAY! (Unless, that is, a prayer for forgiveness of sin,  a prayer to forgive someone that you are holding a grudge against, a prayer to close a spiritual door that allowed the demon in, etc.) Instead, immediately go into spiritual warfare, start binding, loosing, rebuking, and casting out! (By the way, the actual meaning of “binding and loosing” given in the Matthew 16:19 and  Matthew 18:18 that spiritual deliverance ministers often refer to should be investigated … a great many Bible interpreters state that when looking at the context of the passages in which those verses appear, they refer to doctrines, particularly the authority of apostles to establish doctrines for the church, spiritual warfare and deliverance techniques.) 

This I recall, for I was personally practicing it myself for several years. I related in  My Thorn In The Flesh how my mind is frequently assaulted by many manners of evil thoughts. I presumed this to be the work of evil spirits within and without myself, and for years applied the Hammond doctrines. I now realize that these are merely things that I have allowed to enter into my MIND as a result of all of the “entertainment” (movies, TV, music, novels etc.) in my life. Also, for years I refused to do precisely what I needed to about the problem – take it before throne of grace and cast it there in prayer – because these teachings told me not to! After all, praying, according to these doctrines, was weak, defeated Christian living … stuff for babies. (Well, maybe it is according to Matthew 18:3!) If I was to be a bold, strong, powerful spiritual warrior, a world changer on the front lines making a difference for Jesus Christ, I needed to just step out on faith and take dominion and authority over these evil spirits!

And so I did. It reached the point where it was practically automatic. Evil thought enters mind. Say “demon in the Name and by the power and Blood of Jesus Christ I bind and rebuke you and command me to leave and never return.” And so on, so on, so on … if you want to talk about “vain repetitions” then boy I was doing it. Also, so long as I was “binding, rebuking, and casting out” I had no need to humble myself, feel contrition or repentance, and beg God for help. Why? I was a spirit warrior world changer taking dominion, a spiritual He – man!

Now upon trying to discover and build “Christianity 101” these past months, I decided that just maybe I wasn’t as spiritually strong or powerful as I thought. So, I would leave the taking authority warfare to the stronger brothers and sisters, and I would resort to the milk of the weak babes, which was to PRAY. So, I battled and stopped the very many months – years in fact – of automatic “I rebuke and bind you in the …” conditioning … I really had gotten to the point where I did it on autopilot without thinking! … I would refrain myself from the “self – spiritual warfare and deliverance” and simply began to tell God that I was sorry for having or entertaining those evil thoughts and asked Him to forgive me and to shield me from those thoughts in the future. Now even before I received the response that I detailed in My Thorn In The Flesh, the results were much better … cleansing, strengthening, love, joy and PEACE where the “warfare” left me with guilt and conflict.

Now is this to say that I have never benefitted from spiritual warfare and deliverance? No. That is the main reason why I have not removed the materials from the site … my testimony is my testimony and it stands. However, though my testimony is part of my faith, it is the substance or entirety of my faith. My faith is Biblical, not experiental, and it is based on God, not on what happens to me. Had I never existed, God would still exist and His Word would still be true. So, when the time is right, I pray that God will lead me to doctrines on spiritual warfare and deliverance that are faithful to His Word and thereby honor and glorify Him

Sola Scriptura. Soli Deo Gloria. Solo Christo. Sola Gratia. Sola Fide. Any spiritual warfare and deliverance that does not conform to those is but doctrines of devils! Even so, come Lord Jesus!

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Another Reason To Question Whether The Roman Catholic Church Is The Anti – Christ

Posted by Job on October 20, 2008

The fact that the reformers (and those who rejected Catholicism in times prior) frequently called the Roman Catholic Church the anti-Christ is often used to give theological and historical weight to people holding onto that view. While you will not find a bigger opponent of those that have cast aside the Bible for manmade tradition in order to facilitate their idolatry of images, the host of heaven, and humans (including “saints”, the pope, and “Virgin” Mary), I still have found the idea to be quite suspect. My prior reason for believing so is because the anti – Christ will deceive and lead the whole world. While thanks in large part to the new world order forces doing their best to promote religious pluralism, mysticism, syncretism and secular systems masquerading as religion (including liberation theologies of Barack Hussein Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr.) there is nowhere near the opposition to Roman Catholicism as there once was, chiefly among Protestants but also among other religions, we are nowhere near the day when the whole world will be deceived by and follow the so – called bishop of Rome, who has the same title, pontifus maximus, that Roman emperors such as Constantine held in their pagan state religion. (Constantine merely moved from being pontifus maximus in the prior pagan state religion to being pontifus maximus when the empire adopted “Christianity”, a fact which people who defend the decision of the church to acquiesce to Constantinism rarely mention. My suspicion is that Protestants tiptoe around this fact because Constantine called the Nicea ecumenical council that defended the truth of the divinity if Jesus Christ from Arianism. In doing so, they ignore the fact that even if any human had the spiritual standing to convene an ecumenical council Constantine certainly was not that human, a fact later borne out when Constantine called ANOTHER ecumenical council to adopt Arianism and immediately began persecuting people who believed in Jesus Christ’s deity. Constantine’s motives were political and military,  not religious. Even if Constantine did actually see a cross in the sky with the famous “in this conquer” slogan, it was a demonic deception in a pagan society that was utterly demonized. Protestants should be truthful enough to declare that nothing good came out of Constantinism and have enough faith to state that the true apostolic faith over issues like the deity of Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity would have won out without needing a pagan state to call ecumenical councils whose edicts were imposed with the sword.)

Yet how far are we from the day that the whole world will follow the so – called bishop of Rome? It would require 1) a major theological move on the part of the Roman Catholic Church and 2) for the nations of the world who have suffered at the hands of Rome or who themselves have major religious objections to forget or abandon them. While both (or either) are certainly possible when God sends the spirit of strong delusion, the truth is that said delusion can cause the whole world to follow any institution or leader. So while that does not preclude the Roman Catholic Church, there is no reason to definitely say that it will be them when it could just as easily be some secular political leader or entity, or the leader of some now obscure eastern religious movement such as the Tibetan ones that are oh so popular among the left (keep in mind that jainism was equally obscure until first Ghandi and then Martin Luther King, Jr. popularized its tenets). 

So what of the position of the reformers and those similar? Well keep in mind that the reformers were adherents to amillennialism, whose first major exponent was Origen and which was cemented in the Constantine church (and ultimately a great many churches that splintered out of her, including not only the Roman and Orthodox Catholic churches but also many Protestant churches, especially the state and liberal churches) thanks to the work of Augustine. Though its modern adherents deny the extent to which it is true, amillennialism relies on allegorical interpretations of the covenant, prophetic, eschatological and apocalyptic passages of the Bible. (Otherwise, Origen’s theories that everyone, including possibly Satan and demons, would be saved and that there could be an endless number of falls of mankind and creation into sin requiring an endless number of redemptions throughout eternity; in other words there was no permanency to Jesus Christ’s work because as Origen was working from a naturalist pagan structure as opposed to a Jewish spiritual one – please read Why The Early Church Fathers Were Millennialists And Why The Gentile Church Quickly Rejected It For Sadduceeism and he Early Church Fathers: Amillennialism and Universalism, would have been impossible.)

Therefore, it is extremely unlikely that the amillennial reformers, who to one degree or another accepted an allegorical or nonliteral interpretation of not only the millennium but a great many other prophetic and eschatological concepts to give them a temporal meaning and fulfillment, believed in a literal beast, man of sin, anti-Christ, etc.

When you consider the dominionism aspect of amillennialism, this becomes even more so the case. Dominionist amillennials (and this incontrovertibly included Roman Catholics but Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, the Church of England, and all others who basically rejected a separation between church and state, advocated the right of the state to use violence and other measures to enforce church doctrines and accepted infant baptism as a method of initiation into the church – state system) believe that we are in an allegorized nonliteral millennium now where Jesus Christ is ruling the earth from heaven through the church, which happens through the transforming moral and cultural effect that the church has on societies as well as any influence that the church exerts on civil magistrates. 

With that view in place, “anti – Christ”, then, becomes anything that opposes the church’s dominion over the earth. In particular, it results in a false Christianity or a false church that takes dominion of the earth over the true church instead. Thus, when the reformers and like minded amillennialists spoke of Roman Catholicism being the anti – Christ, it was only in a nonliteral allegorical sense. Further, it was based on the Roman Church having the same position that the reformers wanted for their own churches. Make no mistake, the churches set up by the reformers were not merely spiritual and religious competitors, but also political, military, and economic rivals. The result was not only well over one hundred years of warfare between Roman Catholic church – states and Protestant church – states both calling each other anti – Christ for opposing each other’s desires for amillennial dominion of state and culture that was allegedly in the Name and to the glory of Jesus Christ in heaven but in reality was a violation of James 4:4 and a host of related scriptures that say that there is no marriage between sacred and secular, Christian and worldly. Now recall, this was something that God used the hard line of demarcation between holy and defiled in the Jewish law to teach the church … if the Jews could not even use tools to cut stones to build an altar for sacrifices because the tools were unholy and their touching the holy altar would defile it and make it unholy, what made them think that the church could come into such intimate contact with pagan cultures and adulterous rulers?!

And as a direct result of this worldview, both Roman Catholic AND reformation church – states persecuted Anabaptists and others who rejected infant baptism and the lack of separation between church and state. Consider this: the amillennial dominionists in the Roman Catholic and early reformation churches grotesquely misinterpreted such Bible events as Hagar’s being subjected to Sarah, the lord of the estate compelling people in the hedges and highways to come to the wedding feast, and Peter picking up two swords to coerce people into membership of “Christendom”, or the church – state in which membership was usually initiated by infant baptism. (Which is why it was called “Christendom”, or kingdom of the christened or infant baptized, as opposed to Christiandom, or kingdom of confessing Christians.) These abominations were institutionalized by Augustine at the very latest but almost certainly existed before then. The worst was the “two swords” when Peter (as always until his indwelling by the Holy Spirit) misunderstood the teachings of Jesus Christ and responded “here are two swords” in response to the words of Jesus Christ to which Christ, frustrated by their inability to understand and having His mind occupied with other things at the time (His very soon trip to the cross) replied resignedly “it is enough.” The dominionist allegorists claimed that Peter’s erroneous notion of believing that Jesus Christ was somehow speaking of a violent overthrow of the Roman Empire (and likely also the Pharisees and Saduccees if they resisted!) was correct in the sense that one sword of Peter referred to the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the second sword of Peter referred to the power of the state to compel people to (externally of course) submit to the former!

So, you had Catholics and reformers calling each other anti-Christ because they were both claiming that the other were wielding a false gospel sword and a false state compulsion sword. But please realize that both Catholic and Reformed states persecuted certain Anabaptists and other groups who A) rejected the notion of church states, B) rejected the coerced initiation into said states including but certainly limited to infants baptized by their parents and C) especially rejected the church’s getting the state to heavily fine, imprison, or even execute those who rejected their religious AND civil authority. This was why Reformers often persecuted and killed Anabaptists who agreed with them on every doctrinal point save those regarding the church using the coercive power of the state (or possessing such power and authority itself by having its own police and army), and particularly why many Reformed states followed the policy of Roman Catholics by making the rejection of infant baptism by getting rebaptized as adults (which is the origin of the term Anabaptist) which in addition to being an act of sincere religious dedication to the gospel was also public rejection of state church authority or dominionism a capital crime

This is, after all, why some scholars claim that Michael Servetus was burned (the Roman Catholic AND Reformed church states twisted yet another set of scriptures to justify the practice of burning heretics, and furthermore the typical method was to use green wood so that the victim would die very slowly, often over the course of hours!) was primarily initiated by the civil magistrates of Geneva for his opposition to infant baptism (making him a subversive to civil authority) rather than by Calvin over his rejection of Trinity. But make no mistake, Calvin fully believed in the right of the state to execute Servetus based on Calvin’s dominionist convictions (even if Calvin’s true motives were Trinity he nonetheless testified against Servetus in a proceeding where a city state considered him a political subversive based on his opposition to infant baptism, the primary method which people were initiated into Genevan citizenship, please realize that Calvin himself was never a Genevan citizen as he was never born or baptized there) and therefore fully participated. And keep in mind: where Servetus was the only heretic killed during Calvin’s tenure, many dominionism rejecters were imprisoned, expelled, or executed by other Reformed states. 

Note that while the Reformers did call Anabaptists heretics and frequently sought their suppression and persecution to the pain of death, they seldom if ever called them “anti – Christ.” Why? Because Anabaptists and similar had no designs on civil power, indeed they rejected it. (Please note that I am aware that certain Anabaptists did have designs on civil power and were willing to use subversion and violence to get it; Anabaptist was a wide, poorly defined category, and it was helpful to the cause of the rulers of Reformed states to associate all of their opponents with the subversive radicals who would violently take control over an area and then forcibly redistribute wealth and property.) So because certain Anabaptists rejected any claim on the second sword of Peter, the one which Augustine and those who came after (indeed including the reformers) claimed belonged to the true church – state, they were not a competing religious – civil power system, and hence were not a false or anti – Christ system competing for power. Instead, they were merely “heretics”, a religious system competing for souls, because of their rejection of “Christendom.” If they were “anti – Christ”, it was only due to their promulgation of doctrines that opposed not only the right but the theological imperative of the Reformation to set up church states, and also because their movements were drawing the Roman Catholic expatriates that the Reformation church states badly needed in their rival system with Rome. After all, if you are competing with earthly systems, it is all about having enough citizens to A) create capital for your economies – please note that Calvinism is credited with spurring the development of modern capitalism – and B) produce soldiers to fight in your armies. 

So, the next time you encounter someone that asserts that the Roman Catholic Church is the anti – Christ, see if that person is rejecting a literal interpretation of Daniel, 2 Thessalonians, Revelation, etc. in favor of an allegorical one and merely resents the Roman Catholic Church for having the huge numbers and political, cultural, economic, etc. influence, the second sword of Peter, that he wants for his own church, and by the way you had better believe which Islam also wants and which communists and Hugo Chavez socialists want as well. (Incidentally, Hitler and Mussolini wanted it also. With Hitler in particular, please consider the rumors of his “the spear of destiny” occultism but do so with a grain of salt.) In other words, someone who wants to exchange the Roman Catholic anti – Christ system for his own. 

Or it may simply be someone who is unaware of this history. If so, that person needs to be reminded of the awful history of both Catholic and Protestant dominionism. And that person also needs to be reminded that in these last days, Catholic and Protestant dominionists are now marching hand in hand, with the American and western religious – political movements (the religious right and the religious left, and by the way these movements even include people from other religions such as Mormons in the religious right and Muslims like Keith Ellison in the religious left, and Jews in both, and we have already mentioned the incorporation of doctrines of jainism – similar to Buddhism – in the religious left) leading the way. How ironic that so many of the politically affiliated evangelicals and fundamentalists who do interpret the prophetic, eschatological, and apocalyptic passages literally (with the appropriate hermeneutics of course!) and believe in a literal anti – Christ are at present supporting movements that are setting the world stage for the coming of the man of sin just as the amillennialists are. The two sides that are supposed to represent different doctrinal systems and in many cases believe themselves to be opposing each other (especially in the case of the religious right versus the religious left) are in fact being manipulated by those behind the scenes to work together! Well, when you consider that scripture prophesies that the anti – Christ will deceive the whole world, it is not a surprise, but instead may yet be a manifestation of it.

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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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Jesus Camp: Bewitching Our Children With False Doctrines

Posted by Job on April 29, 2008

When I first started this website, I enthusiastically endorsed Jesus camps, thinking that they were an excellent way to turn children into spiritual warriors – as it WAS initially a charismatic spiritual warfare site – from an early age. Well … WOW WAS I WRONG! Jesus camps use the evil combination of spiritually seductive charismatic slain in the spirit frenzy and dominion theology politics. Instead of teaching children to pray for their enemies, to show kindness to the poor and elderly people, to interpret the Bible and discern doctrines, to worship and praise the Lord in a dignified manner becoming His glory, and to exhibit the fruits of the Holy Spirit, these folks are feeding these children false Christian doctrines and fascist notions of merging church, state, culture, etc. that will makes any of them that internalize this spiritual evil easy pickings for the anti – Christ and moreover very willing workers in the plot to create the climate where the man of sin will take power. The more things like this come out, as well as things with the Jesus Seminar, Mike Huckabee, Jeremiah Wright … Bible believing Christians have to start speaking out. There is something seriously wrong with both the religious right and the religious left, and we have to start boldly opposing it with the Word of God.

Watch this video below and pray for these children … and for their parents. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7157148037183248346

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