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Posts Tagged ‘Origen’

1 Peter 3:15 Refers To Testimonies Not Apologetics!

Posted by Job on April 1, 2011

There are three Bible texts that are commonly, widely and purposefully misapplied to suit doctrinal and various other agendas.

Revelation 3:20, which reads “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” is often applied to evangelism because it is convenient to contemporary Arminian/Wesleyan/free will salvation doctrines and practices. The truth is that this text is meant to be applied to a Christian that has backslidden or fallen into severe sin or error restoring a proper relationship or communion with Jesus Christ, and not the Lord and Creator of the universe begging and pleading an unregenerate sinner to accept Him. Even one who adheres to the free will soteriological system must acknowledge that Jesus Christ’s work was accomplished on the cross, and thus it is the Holy Spirit who draws, convicts and saves the sinner.

2 Corinthians 6:14, which reads “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?“, does not apply to marriage, but instead to Christian fellowship. The idea that this verse applies to marriage sets it at odds 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, which states that by being married to an unbeliever, the unbeliever and the children are sanctified (if only in an external sense after the “3a” definition of Strong’s concordance of hagiazō) and that God may use a believing spouse to save an unbelieving one. But how convenient is it to modern Christianity that we instead A) use the unbelief of a spouse as an excuse to obtain an un-Biblical divorce and B) that we choose to maintain fellowship with heretics, apostates etc. first in a local church setting by refusing to remove them from our church rolls, and then on a larger scale by allowing false teachers and churches to remain in our denominations and conventions, and on a larger scale still to various ecumenical and interfaith efforts (i.e. the Manhattan Declaration and many other efforts with Roman Catholics, Jews and increasingly Mormons). The popular meaning of this text is preferred precisely because the true meaning makes this saying “too hard” for so many in contemporary Christianity.

The third text is 1 Peter 3:15, which reads “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear“, which is often used to support the field of Christian apologetics. Now my purpose is not to attack the legitimacy of apologetics itself, although I will say that beyond such things as debunking myths and lies about  the Bible and its doctrines – i.e. attacks on the Jonah and the whale story based on pseudoscience as well as misconceptions held by other religions such as the Muslim belief that Christians worship three gods – I am increasingly skeptical of the utility and the motivations of many devoted to this field. Allow me to propose that were the main modern aim of apologetics, which is increasingly merely to show that a belief in some god (often a false one of deism or pluralism!) is rational and that Christians should be allowed to retain our privileged and influential place in western society based on it, be restricted to the presupposationalist method of Cornelius Van Til, which actually has the gall to take Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 seriously when they say “the fool has said in his heart ‘There is no Elohim!‘” then the number of “apologists” would decrease dramatically, for it would require bearing witness of the truth to the very powerful and privileged unbelievers that they are petitioning for tolerance and inclusion. Say what you want about the Creation Museum types, they know that the world – including a number of evangelicals who professed to be embarrassed by their spectacle – mocks and despises them, and they don’t care.

Still, the main issue is that if apologetics indeed is a legitimate Christian endeavor, its legitimacy should be established by using texts other than 1 Peter 3:15! Now the defender of apologetics would rejoin me by pointing out that the context in which 1 Peter 3:15 appears is dealing with Christian persecution, and that it was part of the attempts to lessen persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire that the church developed apologetics in the second century. While that is true, this field in its original form merely meant publicly answering lies that were being spread about Christian belief and practice, such as a common one of the time that during communion, Christians cooked and ate a newborn baby and then had an orgy. This activity quickly morphed into making Christianity appear more palatable to the ruling elites themselves so that Christians would be granted social and economic mobility in the Roman Empire, and such was a motivation of the infamous heretic Origen, who with his blasphemies earned much praise for his supposed intellectual prowess from the philosophers and intellectuals of his day.

Instead, to find the actual intent of this text, let us view the context.

And who [is] he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy [are ye]: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For [it is] better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

So this context has little to support using rationalist philosophic devices of the sort that the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul denounced in Colossians 2:8 designed to make belief in God every bit as rational – and therefore just acceptable in mainstream society and elite institutions – as is atheism, feminism, Marxism, humanism but instead being able to stand in the day of extreme persecution even unto death by adhering to and giving your testimony. So, 1 Peter 3:15 is less C.S. Lewis (who incidentally was a religious pluralist just as is Rob Bell, and it is amazing and appalling by the great many who love and cherish the former while hypocritically excoriating the latter) and more Stephen of Acts!

When faced with persecution – whether facing certain death/torture/imprisonment or merely the mocking comments of acquaintances and coworkers – Christians must put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). (Yes, I remain a supporter of the Bibleman children’s video series even if my interpretation and application of that text has narrowed somewhat.) This is not “if you see a watch lying on a beach, you will not conclude that the watch made itself, but that that this watch had a creator!” type dissembling. Instead, the Christian is to give his testimony in such cases. This testimony consists of two parts.

The first part is the evangelion, the kerygma, the gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for our sins and raised from the dead for the purposes of granting eternal life to those who believe. Christians must know the gospel. Christians must understand the gospel. Christians must be willing and able to explain the full, true gospel to anyone under any circumstances, whether it is your friends and neighbors mocking and distorting your Christian beliefs and lifestyle during a social outing at the beach, a Harvard University dean grilling you about your commitment to multiculturalism and tolerance during your interview for a tenure-track faculty position, or a Muslim jihadist holding a scimitar to your neck threatening to rape you, pour gasoline over your body and set you afire, and then – to make absolutely sure that you are dead – chop your head off unless you convert to Islam.

The second part is what the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ has done in your life. How has becoming a Christian changed your life? In what ways has it transformed your character? What mighty works have you witnessed? What mighty works have you performed in Christ’s Name? What is the evidence of the power, the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit, working in your life, and who other than you can bear witness of this evidence?

Make no mistake, it is by the power of our testimony in Jesus Christ that is personal, rooted in and given authority to by the Bible, and therefore shared by the universal church, that we overcome. We do not overcome by in philosophical exercises and games that due to their often flawed and limited nature (as they are the work of human speculation and not of God) are in many instances (more than the apologists will admit!) are not consistent, trustworthy or sound and also give a flawed, distorted or even inaccurate picture of the Person that is the Object and Author of the testimony.

2 Timothy 1:8 affirms this in telling us not to be ashamed of our testimony of Jesus Christ, and calls the power of the gospel the power of God. The apostle John stated that his reason for writing his gospel was to record and spread his testimony and to bear witness of its truth in verse 21:24. Further, Acts 14 describes how Paul and Barnabas withstood and overcame the persecutions and counter-missionary efforts of the Jews by “speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

In the opening of the first epistle to the Corinthian church, the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul states that if the testimony of Jesus Christ is confirmed in the Christian, then this same Jesus Christ will on the last day confirm the Christian, and the Christian will be counted as blameless in judgment! A chief use of our testimony is in evangelism to win converts, as Paul told the Thessalonian church in verse 1:10 of his second epistle. It is only after the completion of testimony of the two witnesses of the apocalypse that the beast will be suffered to martyr them (Revelation 11:7). Revelation 12:11 says that in addition to the Blood of Jesus Christ, it is our testimony of Jesus Christ that overcomes Satan! Revelation also reveals that there is a tabernacle of testimony in heaven, and calls the testimony of Jesus Christ prophecy!

But principally, and this recalls Ephesians 6:11, it is made clear in Revelation 12:17 that Satan’s war is with those who keep the commandments of Jesus Christ and have His testimony! Having a testimony in the absence of obedience is not sufficient, for Jesus Christ told us in His parables that such makes you a goat that will be cast into outer darkness and not a sheep. Meanwhile, keeping the commandments of Jesus Christ in the absence of a testimony is not sufficient, for we are justified by faith in the One whom we are supposed to testify of, and not by works.

So, our testimony is a primary, chief spiritual warfare weapon! The famous “armor of God” passage of Ephesians 6 calls the word of God “the sword of the spirit” in verse 17, and many exegetes have noted that it is the only offensive weapon. Well, a legitimate testimony generated by the Holy Spirit and given utterance by one in whom the Holy Spirit indwells bears witness to the Word of God, which is Jesus Christ! In John 16, where Jesus Christ speaks of the persecution that His apostles and His church will endure for His sake, Jesus Christ states that the Holy Spirit will not speak of Himself, but instead will speak of what He hears? Well, Who does the Holy Spirit hear? Jesus Christ! Your testimony may not be the sword itself, but how can it be any less than either the handle that the cutting, two-edged blade is attached to, or the hand of the Christian that takes hold of the sword and wields it!

If this is the case, then why on earth would one adhere to an interpretation of 1 Peter 3:15 that causes us to take our only offensive weapon and hide it in its sheath? There can be only two reasons. The first is the lack of a testimony or an ability to articulate it. Such a person does not need to verse himself in suspect philosophical arguments. Instead, this is a person who is either unregenerate or immature in the faith and therefore urgently needs to attend to the former or the latter. That person doesn’t need to give some apology of Christianity but needs to hear and believe a testimony of a Christian so that he too can begin giving his own testimony!

The second reason why so many Christians are willing to abandon their offensive weapon is simply a desire to avoid giving offense, especially to the people whose approval we crave. Being lovers of this present world like Demas, we forsake the testimony of Jesus Christ with all its power, and instead resort to the arguments of men that have a form of godliness but denies the power thereof! We are supposed to turn away from these tactics and the thinking that motivates it!

These people know fully well that the gospel, the testimony, the message of the cross is foolishness to the world, an offense to those who do not believe. So, instead of using 1 Peter 3:15 to strengthen themselves in order to stand against the world and suffer abuse, shame and persecution because of this testimony, that text is twisted to avoid giving just such a testimony! 1 Peter 3:15 is misappropriated to justify giving the world something that it can accept because it is of the world – that being a human argument – in the place of bearing witness to something that the world hates and rejects because it is of the Holy Spirit that convicts the world of evil, which is a legitimate testimony! You can either give an apology and be embraced by pagans as a genius and hero like Origen, or give a testimony and be slain with rocks as was Stephen and also Antipas. If you love this present world, then you are an adulterer or adulteress who is an enemy with God (James 4:4) so as a result of your inner condition, perhaps an intellectual exercise will suit your aims of being loved by this present world. But if you love the world to come, then you will pick up the sword of the spirit and give your testimony!

Also: come let us reason together, Isaiah 1:18, does not refer to apologetics either. Instead, that text – and its context – is an exhortation to the children of Israel to return to their obedience of the Sinai covenant and its blessings, or else they will reap the covenant curses. It is a prophetic call to repentance by reminding Israel to “think about what you are doing and its consequences … you know of God and His ways and how He is both holy and merciful, so if you continue in your sins He will punish you because He is holy, and if you repent and fear YHWH then He will be merciful,withhold punishment and instead bless you!” Of course, while Israel is to use, rather than deny and suppress, their rational logic, the object of this logic is an appeal to what they already know about God based on God’s self-revelation to His covenant people. So rather than attempting to prove that God exists, this text is based on a presupposition of God’s existence, and is establishing the folly of knowingly disobeying the commands of the YHWH whose existence and attributes they already fully know of and do not deny!

Again, this is not a missive against apologetics itself. Instead, we should stop using texts that apply to testimonies and obedience and knowingly, willingly abusing those texts by using them in a way that they ought not to be. Yes, some examples of doing that do seem to appear in the Bible (most notably Jesus Christ’s creative appropriation of Psalm 82:6 in John 10:34) but lacking the inspiration and license of the Holy Spirit to write authoritative scripture, we should restrain ourselves from such things.

And it is particularly harmful if the motivation for this misapplication of Bible texts is a desire to avoid incurring the offense of the world with our testimonies by substituting something more acceptable to the world in its place. Jesus Christ said that if we are ashamed to testify concerning Him in this life, He will not speak on our behalf on judgment day (Mark 8:38)! If you have a testimony within you, the Bible is clear: you must share it, and share it boldly, meekly, fearlessly, humbly and often. But if you do not have a testimony within you, then that is a much greater problem. Address that deficiency immediately by:

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Posted in Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, evangelical, evangelical christian, evangelism, false teaching, Jesus Christ, testimony | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Did Jesus Christ Die For Judas Iscariot?

Posted by Job on March 10, 2011

According to those who believe in universal atonement (or unlimited atonement) the work of Jesus Christ on the cross makes salvation possible for all but certain for none based on the doctrines that A) Jesus Christ died for the sins of all humans and B) a person must accept this fact in order to make His work efficacious. So, let us apply this to the case of Judas Iscariot. Did Jesus Christ die for his sins, and make salvation possible for this character?
If this is the case, then why did Jesus Christ call Judas Iscariot the son of perdition in John 17:22? In that text, Jesus Christ said that He had preserved from falling all of the apostles except this one Judas Iscariot, and that the exception of Iscariot was so that the scriptures would be fulfilled. Since the fate of this Judas Iscariot was foretold in the Bible, inspired by the same Holy Spirit that works regeneration, in no sense was his salvation possible. The idea that the death of Jesus Christ makes salvation possible for all cannot possibly be so in the case of Judas Iscariot. Or if it is so, then with respect to Judas Iscariot the death of Jesus Christ was in vain. After all, Iscariot was not one born out of due time. He knew Jesus Christ personally, heard Jesus Christ preach, and saw His many works. So, if redemption was possible for everyone, then would not Judas Iscariot, one of the original twelve, one of those sent out two by two who did mighty works in Christ’s Name (Mark 6:7-13) including healing the sick and casting out devils, be foremost among whom it was possible?
Yet, why did Jesus Christ say of Judas Iscariot that it would have been better had he never been born, as recorded in Mark 14:21 and Matthew 26:24? It is logically incongruous to say of a person on one hand “Jesus Christ died for his sins, making his salvation possible” and then on another “it would have been better for him had he never been born!” In the former case, Judas Iscariot had a chance at salvation. In the latter case, the one actually recorded in the Bible, he had no chance.
Also, it can be said with a high degree of confidence that Jesus Christ Himself stated that His atonement was not intended for Judas Iscariot. Where was this? The famous text of John 15:13, which reads “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Who are the friends of Jesus Christ? He says so in John 15:14, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” In this section, Jesus Christ was speaking to His apostles during His high priestly prayer and discourse. As the apostles are the foundation of the church, when Jesus Christ addressed His apostles in this manner, He was addressing the entire church through them, with the apostles’ acting as the church’s representatives.
So, the summary of John 15:13-14 is “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends, and you (meaning first the people that He is directly addressing, and then through them the church that the people that He is directly addressing represents) are my friends.” And when Jesus Christ says “I am dying for my friends and you are my friends”, Judas Iscariot has already left! Judas Iscariot had departed the room, and thereby from the perspective and effect of these words of Jesus Christ, from those who Jesus Christ identified as His friends that He died for, in John 13:26-30! Judas Iscariot was not alone when he left, but Satan had entered into Judas Iscariot. And of course, Satan is not a friend of Jesus Christ. Despite the claims of Origen and others who adhere to universalism, Jesus Christ did not die for Satan! And it is also true that Jesus Christ did not die for those who Satan rules, those whose father is Satan according to the words of Jesus Christ in John 8:44-47!
And it cannot be said that Judas Iscariot was unique; the one person in history for whom Jesus Christ did not die. Atonement is either universal or it is limited, and the mere exclusion of Iscariot makes it limited. Also, it should be said that even Muslims who read of Judas Iscariot were aware of the implications, as the (false) Gospel of Barnabas was almost certainly written and definitely advanced by Muslims specifically as a polemic against Reformation doctrines, of which limited atonement is one.
While limited atonement is a truth, it is equally true man cannot and does not know the identity of the people that this act of Jesus Christ is limited to. For instance, some early Jewish Christians felt that the work of Jesus Christ was limited to members of their nation, but that false idea was destroyed upon the conversion of Cornelius. Further, Reformed Baptist William Carey, an adherent to limited atonement in its true form, exposed false doctrines based on distortions of limited atonement (created for the political and cultural purposes of European church-states) against “evangelizing the heathen” for the abominable doctrines of devils that they were with his successful missionary work in India. Further still – and very sadly – up to 88% of children born and raised in evangelical Christian families and churches leave the faith upon adulthood (a fact that challenges not limited atonement doctrines, but rather free will salvation ones, as why would all these people, having been raised with the message of the gospel and heard it hundreds of times all their lives, knowingly brazenly reject Jesus Christ and choose an eternity in a lake of fire instead)?

So, please recall the words of Jesus Christ: many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 20:16, Matthew 22:14). It is the duty of those who are called and chosen to make their calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10); to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Philemon 2:2) in accordance to the manner laid out for us in the scriptures (Acts 2:38, Romans 10:9-10). If you have not received the free gift of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ, do it now.

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Posted in Bible, Calvinism, Christianity, Islam, Jesus Christ, limited atonement, Muslim, Reformed, soteriology, universalism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Why The Early Church Fathers Were Millennialists And Why The Gentile Church Quickly Rejected It For Sadduceeism

Posted by Job on October 16, 2008

This can be considered a supplement to The Early Church Fathers: Amillennialism and Universalism. Why were the church fathers millennialist? Simple: Christianity was never originally a new religion – nor was it intended to be by its founder Jesus Christ – but can accurately be described as a Jewish sect. Was it true Judaism, fulfilled Judaism, or what Sinai Judaism pointed to? Yes, but it was still Judaism, and it offered accommodations to Gentiles that were little different from, say, what the Pharisees of that time offered. (Whether other Jewish parties like the Sadducees, Essenes, etc. accommodated Gentiles who did not wish to become circumcised or otherwise fully convert to Judaism is of little consequence.) So rather than Christianity being a separate religion that has replaced or even exists alongside Judaism, it is helpful to consider that Biblical Christianity is Judaism, with Gentiles practicing what the Jerusalem Council and later the Pauline epistles gave to us, and Messianic Jews practicing what the Jewish Christians – including the same apostles who guided and instructed the Gentiles – did. Of course, in practice, Messianic Jews retain a lot of things related to Talmudism and eastern European Ashkenazism that have nothing to do with the practice of James and Peter, and we well know what westernism has done to Biblical Gentile Christianity. For a longer treatment of these topics, please consider A Better Replacement Theology For Christians And Jews.

So now that it is established that Christianity is in fact Jewish, it then becomes easier to understand why the early church, including the Gentile apostolic fathers who received the faith from the apostles, were millennialists. The reason is that millennialism doctrine was long established in Jewish thought prior to Christianity. It is very much reflected in the eschatological passages in the prophets and writings (especially Isaiah and the Psalms), the idea that the Messiah would rule the whole world. Jesus Christ’s refusal to set up an earthly kingdom was a major why the Pharisees rejected Him. Further, even Jesus Christ’s own followers, after His resurrection, still expected Him to set up a literal rule of the earth according to the early verses of Acts 1. So when Jesus Christ went to the right Hand of the Father promising to return, the Jews felt that upon His return Jesus Christ would fulfill the Messianic prophecies concerning His literal earthly rule that had been part of Judaism many centuries.

Please realize that these prophecies cannot be cast away. Not only does that damage the doctrines of infallibility of scripture and the rule of faith, but the all important doctrine of progressive revelation. God did not reveal mankind everything at once, but only rolled out revelation gradually, primarily through His prophets, with the ultimate and completed revelation being Jesus Christ. See the prologue to the epistle to the Hebrews for verification of this. (Incidentally, the concept of progressive revelation also explodes the lie common to liberal scholarship that Judaism lacked any real concept of a spirit world, an afterlife, or even mature doctrines of angels and demons before their interactions with Zoroastrianism during the Babylonian exile. Needless to say, the references to the dead children of Job, Jeroboam, and David as well as God taking Enoch and Elijah going to heaven on a chariot of fire make the claims that Judaism had no concept of righteous people having an eternal afterlife with God ridiculous.)

So, the millennial expectations of the Jews was not only a part of progressive revelation, but a huge part of it, and became even more pronounced during their captivity in Babylon and subsequent domination by the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. As a matter of fact, it remains a component of Orthodox and Conservative Judaism to this day, and is a major reason why the alliance between said Jews and dispensational pre – tribulation rapture evangelicals is so successful: both believe in the coming of Messiah, both believe that the Messiah will convert one side to the other, and both are willing to wait and see who is right (while each believing themselves to be).

So whether the Apocalypse of the Apostle John, better known as the Book of Revelation, was read by the other apostles or not (as some evangelical scholars assert that John wrote Revelation before he wrote his gospel) claiming that they did not teach that Jesus Christ would return to set up an earthly kingdom is rather difficult to sustain. It would require rejecting or either completely reinterpreting the Old Testament scriptures in a way that not a single teaching of Jesus Christ recorded in the gospels or the writings of the apostles who learned from Jesus Christ (the original ones including Matthias directly, Paul by revelation) supports. So then, while the scenario where Jesus Christ returns, rules with the saints of the first resurrection for 1000 years while Satan is bound (does amillennialism and preterism even allow for a first resurrection since neither suffers a literal interpretation of Revelation 20 and denies a linear timeline governing Revelation 19 and 20), and then there is the final battle followed by the great white throne judgment given in Revelation 19 – 20 may be an enlargement that contains new material, it is consistent with what Jews believed prior. Asserting amillennialism, then, is akin to saying that the Jews who lived in Jesus Christ’s day and time and prior were wrong, and the Gentile Christians who came along 200+ years later were right and did a better job of interpreting scripture than the Jews did. Of course, the post – apostolic fathers church, especially the Alexandrian allegorists, did have this belief. But when you recall that these were the people who gave Christendom the practice of praying to angels, pictures and statues, and a Mary that they claimed remained a virgin, we are not bound by their pretensions.

Now I mentioned earlier that the Pharisees believed in the millennium, which leaves out the Sadducees. Why did the Sadducees reject the millennium? Simple: because the Sadducees were Hellenists first, Jews second. The best example of this group was Herod, who obeyed the Jewish commandment not to eat pork while disobeying much more important commandments in murdering people, including members of his own family. Even the Roman Caesar noted that it was safer to be Herod’s pig than his son. The Jewish worldview is a spiritual, otherworldly one. By contrast, the Hellenistic worldview was, while not quite secular in the modern sense of the word, was definitely naturalist and this – worldly. Therefore, the Sadducees were only able to accept the Torah, and even there a despiritualized interpretation of it, as valid. (It was made easier for them by the fact that the Old Testament scriptures used at the time, the Greek Septuagint, already contained some concessions to the Hellenistic mindset.) The Sadducees rejected the writings (i.e. the Psalms) and the prophets. This meant that they not only denied the resurrection (as the gospels explicitly state) but the millennium, because they rejected all spiritual things. (Please recall that even the Greek “gods” were merely superhumans that lived in the natural plane, and that the Greek “underworld” where the dead went was literally underneath the physical surface of the earth, not spiritual at all.)

Now the Pharisees, on the other hand, believed in spiritual things, so that was not their error. Their error was A) failing to fully understand them and more importantly B) failing to understand the implications of spiritual things on earthly matters. That was why Jesus Christ criticized them for failing to use mercy in their interpretation and the administration of the law, for the law was not an earthly institution intended for regulating human affairs (the position of the Saduceees) but a spiritual thing that God gave mankind to teach man about His nature, so the Pharisees should have used the law to show the same mercy to the people that God had always shown Israel.

When you understand that the Sadducees rejected the resurrection, the millennium, the writings, the prophets, and even the more spiritual aspects of the Torah in order to create “Greek Judaism” that was more Greek than Jewish, (Hellenism with external Jewish customs and regulations that not only had no spiritual content but was also totally devoid of morality) then that also explains why the post – apostolic fathers church rejected millennialism for amillennialism. Now the precursor to this piece stated that millennialism had to go in order to accommodate such ideas as universalism and purgatory that made Christianity more acceptable to Greek pagans, not only for the purposes of mere popularity (Origen was regarded as a great intellect by the Greek pagans for telling them that they would ultimately be saved whether they converted and lived godly lives or not!) but because they made spiritual biblical Christianity more accommodating to naturalism and other pre – existing Greek constructs.

After all, did Greek paganism afford different fates to people in the afterlife based on how they lived and worshiped in this life? Nope. There was no basis for the different reward, because there was no single all powerful creator to mete out rewards and punishments. There were many gods, and serving one was as good as serving the other. So no matter who you worshiped or how you lived, everyone would receive the same fate: the underworld. The purgatory and universalism doctrines of Origen, Clementine, Gregory, etc. removed the idea that some would receive good and others evil in the next life. This was not because the Greco – Romans were so committed to egalitarianism, indeed quite the contrary. In that culture women and children had no rights, there were more slaves than citizens, and the rulers only cared about the poor literally starving to death inasmuch as its potential to cause mass revolts. And the Greco – Roman religion did not hold out equal status in the afterlife as the hope or aim of their religion. Quite the contrary, the purpose of their religion seems to have been to use drunken orgies to forget the difficulties of their daily existence, which was why the actual practice of their religions was most common and popular with people who had the lowest status: women, slaves, and the poor. So then, the reason why the idea that people will get different rewards in the afterlife based on which God they served in this one was so offensive to the Hellenistic mindset was because this concept is unworkable without a spiritual reality that opposes pagan naturalism. The Origenic Christianity, then, did require them to reject multiple gods for one God, but allowed them to worship according to a system that, while spiritual in theory, was practically and effectively little different from the prior pagan mythology. Again, there is a reason why cultured pagans who had no intention of converting came from far and wide to listen to Origen’s lectures and left praising his great intellect.

So this brings us back to the issue of millennialism. For the events of Revelation 19 – 20 to be fulfilled in a literal fashion, Jesus Christ ruling the nations with a rod of iron along with angels and resurrected martyrs … not only spiritual but on a fantastic and grand scale. Now please recall that the Sadduccees rejected the spirituality of the Torah, instead regarding it as only being useful for history and for governance. In a similar fashion, Jesus Christ literally ruling on earth could not coexist to the Hellenistic natural mind. So, the rule of Jesus Christ over the earth had to be accomplished naturally, through human institutions. Jesus Christ rules the church, but the church rules the earth by controlling political, economic, military, religious, and cultural life. In short, dominionism.

Of course, it was no small thing to separate it further and make it even less spiritual. Jesus Christ rules the earth through His rule of the church, but His rule over the church is not direct and personal, but rather through His VICARS on earth, or His appointed representatives. Except that Jesus Christ does not even need to directly appoint His representatives by way of a revelatory anointing or calling. Instead, said vicars are chosen by the church itself, either from among the church leadership or the emperor, as head of a church state, that has the ability to appoint them. (Please note that the church really never opposed the practice of Roman emperors taking the prerogative to name bishops until the doctrine of the primacy of the bishop of Rome was fully matured, and even then the right of monarchs to appoint at least some bishops was never denied. After all, so long as the monarch was a baptized Christian, he was part of Christ’s rule of the earth, especially those monarchs that the prelates themselves either crowned or used political manuevers to help get into office.)

So, though this sort of amillennialism alleged that Jesus Christ was ruling the earth during a symbolic millennium that inaugurated when Jesus Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father, the fact was that the His rule was limited to a church that moreover was free to govern its own affairs through Christ’s vicars and totally ignore Him. Jesus Christ’s actual Person was reserved for mystic experiences (which you had better believe that communion/transubstantiation is certainly one!) and even those are not for the purposes of exerting any authority over the church – let alone the world – but rather for the mystical experience of the believer. Thus, Jesus Christ’s actual return was an event believed only in theory with no practical doctrinal or theological implications, because the church was already allegedly accomplishing what the long history of Jewish Messianic progressive revelation was supposed to teach the church to expect. All that remained was final judgment, something not only intangible and far off, but a great deal less important than such things as, say, getting your deceased relatives out of purgatory and into heaven with your good works.

So, amillennialism does the same to millennial doctrine – and possibly to Christianity itself – what Sadduceeism did to Judaism. It removes the spirituality that Jesus Christ will literally fulfill in favor of a system for gaining, maintaining, and exerting earthly power through humans and institutions. That the Protestant reformers generally continued to be amillennial, then, is a great shame. It is not unfair to propose that the first generation Reformers went on to set up state churches that greatly involved themselves in civil affairs because of it. It is also fair to propose that the “free churches” that were not part of either the Catholic or Protestant state church system were generally open to other doctrines. We can guess that the reason for this is that if you are not a state church but instead are being persecuted by a state church, then it is rather difficult claim that Jesus Christ is ruling the world with a rod of iron through your influence in governmental, economic, and military institutions, and even more difficult to explain why, with Jesus Christ already in heaven and Satan bound, the dominion that amillennialism states and implies not taking place even in the church, let alone in the world. I can propose that the reason why the early reformers held on to amillennialism was because of they were so steeped in it from Roman Catholicism, and also because of the Augustine to which they were so deeply indebted. In other words, for the same reason why the reformers continued to support infant baptism.

What is even stranger still is how premillennial pre – tribulation rapture dispensational evangelicals (as opposed to fundamentalists with this same eschatological orientation) have practically adopted some things pertaining to amillennialism, and are the new dominionists as a result. On one side is the religious right, who believes that the duty of the church is to exert influence over the nation’s laws, culture, and morality (if not spirituality). On another side is the third wave charismatic movement, especially those influenced by the Word of Faith/prosperity doctrine teachings that the church must reclaim the dominion over the earth that God gave to Adam as a precondition for a worldwide revival that will evangelize the globe and fulfill the prophecy for the return of Jesus Christ. Now both these movements, the Southern Baptist dominated former and the Pentecostal dominated latter (generalizing just a tad, I know), come together in two ways. One is the notion that an undivided fully sovereign biblical Jewish state of Israel must continue to exist at all costs, and that the United States must not only ally with Israel, but use its economic, political, and military might – including aggression – to defend Israel, with the church’s exerting all the influence (pressure) that it can on our government to ensure that it does so. So, we have the notion that Jesus Christ is acting to accomplish His redemptive purposes not only through the SECULAR state of Israel, but through the United States as well. So, Jesus Christ’s rule on earth at this time is not only primarily manifested through Israel due to its singular importance in dispensationalism, but it is secondarily – but still vitally! – manifested through the United States whose military, political, religious, and economic dominance of the globe allows Israel to remain sovereign so Jesus Christ can rule through it, and through the church that makes sure that the United States accomplishes its divine purpose of protecting Israel so that God may continue to use it.

How does it come together the other way? In the person of none other than Sarah Palin, the woman who was born Roman Catholic but rebaptized into Pentecostalism, and has been fully steeped in third wave Pentecostal dominion theology preaching (see video below) and is herself perhaps the single leading figure in the religious right now that other figures have died or marginalized themselves.

And that little nugget is something to think about.

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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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Origen Pagan AMILLENNIALISM Gave Us The Religious Right Political Agenda!

Posted by Job on June 13, 2008

See article below from Soli Deo Gloria:

Worse Than Fascists: Christian Political Group ‘The Family’ Openly Reveres Hitler

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Amillennialism Was Invented By PAGANIZED Origen! Postmillennialism Was Invented By UNITARIAN George Whitby!

Posted by Job on June 11, 2008

Millennial and Rapture Positions

End Time Charts: Rapture Positions Compared

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Kenneth Copeland Video: Jesus Christ Had To Be Born Again

Posted by Job on December 15, 2007

This heresy that Kenneth Copeland, Fred Price, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, (all of whom just happen to be under investigation by Senator Charles Grassley, who incidentally supports Mitt Romney) and other famous Word of Faith teachers, Jesus Christ being born again, is called adoptionism, that Jesus Christ progressed to godhood. Mormons, if you might recall, have a very aggressive version of this doctrine that was rejected by the church in 268 AD when Paul of Samosata introduced it out of his belief that Jesus Christ could not have incarnated as flesh because of the dominant Greek pagan (Plato) doctrine in the culture of the time that spirit was good and matter was evil, and so the two cannot mix. Interestingly enough, that is the same reason why Roman Catholics claim that “Virgin” Mary had to have been immaculately conceived and never sinned … that Jesus Christ could not have been carried by the womb of a woman born in sin. That, incidentally, was the same position of Paul of Samosata.

Back to Mormonism, since Copeland, Price, Meyer, Dollar, and many others – in addition to claiming to be “little gods” through their perversion Psalm 82:6 of out of context (I am grateful for Bob George of Realanswers.net answering my email regarding this question back when I was still a Word of Faither), all that is required is to claim that God the Father also was a man who became God and the concept of pre – existence, which was given to us by Origen (who fans of Joseph Smith the prophet with 33 wives, some of them already married to other men, lived long after the time that the church supposedly fell into complete apostasy and took the teachings on pre – existence with it).

Courtesy of The Heresy Hunter.

From Crackle: Kenneth Copeland Jesus Christ Had To Be Born Again

Posted in apostasy, blasphemy, charismatic, false doctrine, false preacher, false preachers, false prophet, false religion, false teachers, false teaching, heresy, Jesus Christ, Kenneth Copeland, Mormon, mormonism, prosperity doctrine, Word of Faith | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

 
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