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Posts Tagged ‘postmillennialism’

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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A Question For Premillennial Dispensational Rapture Believers: Explain The Fifth Seal In Revelation!

Posted by Job on September 25, 2009

Revelation 6:9-11 reads

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

The Word of God for the elect people of God. Glory be to God.

For my premillennial dispensational brethren who believe in a pretribulation (or prewrath) rapture that spares the church from the time of sorrow, please explain this text. Who are those slain for the Word of God? Are they Christians? And when will these Christians be slain for their testimony? Does it refer to those believers slain in times past, whether in the Old Testament or at the time that Revelation was written? Or does it refer to believers slain during the great tribulation? (If so, how can any Christian stand under persecution, even martyrdom, without being emboldened by the Holy Spirit, which according to premillennial dispensational doctrine has to be taken from the earth along with the church? Please recall the difference between Peter and the apostles before the Comforter – cowering and fearful and running from their lives – and afterwards – bold and brave witnesses even unto death. As a matter of fact Peter himself went from being the worst – the one who denied Christ three times – to being the boldest. And how can anyone even be saved during the great tribulation without the work of the Holy Spirit? Recall: the Holy Spirit was indeed present during the time of the Old Testament saints. Indeed, the Bible states that the earth’s very existence cannot so much as even be sustained without the Spirit of God.) Or does it refer to believers slain during all ages, from the first (Abel) until the last before the return of Jesus Christ?

To interpret this passage with scripture, let us go to another one in Revelation that touches the martyrdom of the saints, which is Revelation 18:24. Please recall that this chapter refers to the fall of Babylon,  which since the Tower of Babel incident and particularly since the destruction of the temple in 586 has been used to symbolize people and systems that rebel against and oppose God and persecute His elect covenant people, and that Revelation extends this symbolism with personification, describing all that opposes God as a harlot (prostitute), which in this verse is called “her”:  And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. Now as much as I love my King James Version, allow me to quibble with their translation of “kai” to “and” in the phrase “and of all that were slain upon the earth.” Many times, “kai” is just used for emphasis, as an amplifier of degree or a focus of attention. This text should probably read:

“And in her [Babylon] was found the blood of prophets and of saints, indeed all [prophets and saints] that were slain upon the earth.”

However, if you go with the King James Version, which granted carries much more weight and authority than my own, and all which follow its tradition on that text, then “and of all that were slain upon the earth” simply means that in Babylon was the blood of every person that has been murdered, all innocent blood that has been shed. This means that the prior clause “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints” means that “the prophets and saints” (a  New Testament idiom which refers to old covenant and new covenant believers) which means that the blood of Stephen and all other Christian martyrs ever since is contained in Babylon. So with reference to the elect the meaning is the same: the blood of everyone killed because of their faith in God is in Babylon.

So, if we interpret Revelation 6:9-11 with Revelation 18:24, when the fifth seal was opened the martyred souls viewed under the altar should very likely be interpreted to include every Christian martyr since Stephen. This would support the idea of a church that has always been under continuous tribulation. Such an interpretation would be consistent with, indeed fulfill the words of Jesus Christ in John 15:18-20.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

The Word of God for the people of God. Glory be to God.

Now one can hardly claim that those words were only aimed at the apostles. Those words are for all Christians for all time. So what basis is there for believing that there will be a rapture to save the church from a persecution that A) Jesus Christ said that we would face and B) Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to withstand? Now this is not an endorsement of the historicist, preterist or amillennial position that there will be no seven year literal great tribulation. Instead, it is to say that if there will be such a seven year literal great tribulation, the church will be present for it just as it has been present for all other tribulations, the “lesser” tribulations.

Now the prewrath (and mid-wrath) rapture adherent does have Revelation 3:10, which reads “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth”, in his favor. However, that could be fulfilled in a number of ways, including 1) a place of refuge (which ironically rapture believers commonly propose will exist for those who will saved during the great tribulation … again these people will have to be saved despite the absence of a church to preach the gospel or a Holy Spirit to perform regeneration) or 2) death. Do not let the “death” option astonish you, but instead study the scriptures, especially the Old Testament but also in the New Testament. It is a consistent theme that death is a way of being preserved, saved, spared from times of great evil … to be absent from the troubles of this world and present with God! Perhaps the best example of this is the death of Abijah, son of the wicked king Jeroboam, who died according to God’s will so that he would not be corrupted by Jeroboam and also not share in their judgment in 1 Kings 14. A New Testament example: at the time that he wrote Philippians 1:20-26, Paul viewed death as being removed from the extremely trying circumstances that he was living and exchanging it for a better fate. In that passage Paul stated “to die is gain”, but it appears that the rapture adherents have transformed it into “to be raptured is gain.”

So, the idea that there must be a rapture in order for Christians to be spared martyrdom seems to be inconsistent with Biblical revelation. It is also an idea that only makes sense for Christians living in the west. Practically everywhere else in the world, Christians face persecution: marginalization, poverty, disease, imprisonment, death. There are two doctrinal systems that have the effect of promoting the idea western Christians should have no part in what Christians in Indonesia, China, Iran, Palestine (and Israel!), India and Mexico (where Roman Catholic/pagan syncretists are persecuting Protestants) by simple right of geography of birth: pretribulation rapture and covenant theology. Pretribulation rapture teaches that Christians not currently under persecution now will never have to face it, because persecution will only come to “the good parts of the world” (i.e. “Christian nations” or “western nations” or “non-socialist nations” … you know, what Glenn Beck was referring to) when the anti-Christ (which 8% of New Jersey residents regard Obama to be) takes over it.

Now ask yourselves … why is it that Christians can be persecuted in some places (including Israel … and read this too!) now without the anti-Christ, but it requires the anti-Christ to happen in others (especially America)? Or that the saints in other places (and times, including in the west … remember the 30 Years War and the Anabaptists?) are not spared persecution, but only the modern American saints are? Only the idea that contemporary western (especially American and possibly British!) Christians are somehow better than Christians living in other times and places, and this fact would be due to America having some special status before God as a unique elect covenant nation, giving us special status within the Body of Christ. Of course, the Bible makes it clear in the Roman and Corinthian epistles that there is no special group or people with a special status, special favor, or special standing before God in the Body of Christ, but instead that we are one Body. Further, the Bible makes it clear that those who are accounted greater according to rank or authority (not standing or value) demonstrate this through being servant roles that cause us to A) serve those who are of lesser rank and authority and B) endure even greater persecution than those who are of lesser rank and authority. So, even if America did have some special standing before God, instead of our being wealthy decadent privileged Laodiceans, we would be poor, oppressed and serving everybody else! If you deny this, read the Beatitudes of Jesus Christ!

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Keep in mind, the version in Luke reads “Blessed are the POOR!”)
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

The Word of God for the people of God. Glory be to God.

Now earlier I mentioned the covenant theologians, from whom the modern concept of the “Christian nation” originated. Covenant theologians believe – or at least believed – that people in “Christian nations” would or should be spared persecution only because in a church-state Christians would control the government, economy, military, police, and religion in a theocracy after the manner of Old Testament Israel. That is why such extreme theonomists and reconstructionists as Gary North and Rousas John (R. J.) Rushdoony deny that the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount apply to Christians, instead stating that it only applied to Jews living in that time. (Curiously, hyperdispensationalists believe the same.) While I believe the covenant theology position to be in error, this statement is aimed primarily at premillennnial dispensationalists.

So if America were this special, Christian nation, it would be marked by our poverty and service, not by our decadent delusions of religious nobility which makes us believe that we are somehow exempt from the sufferings of Christians living in Belarus or Namibia, or for that matter the Christians of the early church. After all, when Paul wrote his statement insisting that those in the Body of Christ were equals, the statements were direct AGAINST two groups of people: the Jewish Christians in the Roman church and the wealthy Christians in the Corinthian church. The Jewish Christians regarded themselves to be superior to the Gentile Christians because of nationality, and the wealthy Corinthian Christians regarded themselves as superior to the poorer believers because of their riches. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to tell both groups that they were wrong. So, then, how can we justify believing that a rapture will come and rescue us from the type of persecutions and deaths at the hands of Muslims that are going on all over the Middle East, Asia and Africa right now, such as the two million Christians that were killed in Sudan, many of whom were tortured, raped, doused with gasoline and set on fire, had their limbs chopped off, or were sold as slaves because they refused to renounce Christianity?

Ironically, the world, including the media, the activists, and the government of our own “Christian nation”, did their level best to ignore this genocide, choosing instead to focus on Muslims murdering other Muslims in Darfur. And let us not forget that the term for which the word genocide was originally invented and applied to, that of the Armenians by the Turks, is still not recognized as such by the U.N. or by the government of our “Christian nation.” It is still more ironic when you consider that the Armenian genocide happened in the same general area that the letters in Revelation were sent, in the Turkey region. That persecution kicked off what was the bloodiest period of Christian persecution in history, the 20th century, that saw 45.5 million Christians killed!

So if there were any geographical or political entity within the Body of Christ that had special status, it would be those Christians because of their poverty and persecution who would come first, not us . It is those to whom the Beatitudes of Jesus Christ were addressed, and premillennial dispensationalism completely rejects that truth for the belief that the rapture will save Christians not yet under persecution from ever having to experience it because the saints who have it easier are the ones who fulfill Revelation 3:10! Never mind that the rich church that was not facing persecution was Laodicea, and the church that Revelation 3:10 was addressed to was Philadelphia. Why was the promise of Revelation 3:10 given to the Philadelphians? It is in Revelation 3:8, which reads “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” The Philadelphia Christians were being persecuted, and similar to the Sudanese Christians, they refused to yield to the persecution by denying Jesus Christ. In other words, they refused to do the same as the apostle Peter did THREE TIMES before he was empowered by the Holy Spirit, yet dispensationalism teaches that this Holy Spirit will be taken away, and those converted during the great tribulation will have to face the greatest time of sorrows ever without it, and will yet somehow stand? How? Why? Because of their free will? Or because of their inherently good human nature untainted by original sin? Followers of Reformed/Calvinist believers in the rapture like John MacArthur and Albert Pendarvis (the latter’s bookstore sells the Scofield Reference Bible) have to answer these questions! In any event, those who claim that Revelation 3:10 refers to Christians being raptured to escape persecution have to deal with the fact that the text was in reference to a Philadelphia church that was enduring it!

Make no mistake. I believe in a bodily literal return of Jesus Christ which I believe will occur after a literal great tribulation which will include a literal and personal anti-Christ. However, I also believe that the church will endure this tribulation, and that we need to be preparing ourselves and those who will follow us in the faith for it in a manner that is consistent with scripture as opposed to believing that we – or our WESTERN descendants – will have an experience of escaping it that will be unique to Christians living in other times and places. At the very least, someone must explain why western Christians alone should enjoy this pleasure!

The Three Step Salvation Plan

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Three Views On Jesus Christ

Posted by Job on August 29, 2009

Lordship view:

Popular with Reformed and Calvinist churches. Jesus Christ is presented primarily as ruling sovereign king. Transcendence of Jesus Christ is emphasized. A main view of the effects of His incarnation was to sanctify creation with His presence, and the emphasis of His work on the cross is that of being the giver and head of the new covenant and to transfer dominion from Israel to the church. This emphasis on Jesus Christ – as Lord and King and head of the covenant – correlates to the aim of such bodies to view themselves as extensions and agents – the Body – of Jesus Christ’s kingship and rule on earth. Because Jesus Christ sanctified the earth with His presence, that increases the prominence of natural theology and general revelation as ways of knowing, understanding and having a relationship with God. Further, it makes it fitting and appropriate for Christians to seek to subdue and rule the earth by political, economic, cultural and military means as a way of worshiping and glorifying God. The Lordship of Jesus Christ is mediated through western culture and institutions which God through His providence used and created to improve worldly conditions, spread the gospel, and prepare the world for His coming. Jesus Christ’s Lordship, kingdom and influence are spread primarily through cultural, political and military means, and such things largely take the role of personal evangelism and missionary work in infant baptism cultures. Thus, attacks on western culture and institutions are seen as direct attacks on God’s kingdom, God’s plan to redeem the world, and ultimately on Jesus Christ Himself. Due to Jesus Christ’s being depicted as Lord and King and thus viewed in the context of European and other Gentile kings (remote, detached, very difficult or impossible to directly or personally know or relate to) worship is liturgical, sacramental, even mystical with preaching de-emphasized to the point where often reading the pastor’s sermon notes is a more productive activity than being present for the sermon’s oral delivery. Very little practical attention is given to God the Father or the Holy Spirit or Jesus Christ’s humanity. Eschatology: often amillennial or postmillennial.

Savior view:

Popular in free will evangelical and fundamentalist churches. Jesus Christ is presented primarily as Savior. Heavy emphasis on Jesus Christ’s humanity, particularly the very safe approachable nonthreatening imagery of a baby in a manger and other views emphasizing Jesus Christ’s immanence. Primary role of incarnation is to make Jesus Christ human in order to facilitate a personal relationship with Him: Jesus Christ as friend, buddy, confidante, parent (particularly as it relates to parents’ giving their children gifts, reassurance, and nurturing), “sounding board/venting object”, or even lover. Please note: the ability to accept or reject friendship and personal relationship with another human is always by personal discretion, and both humans have equal rights to set the relationship’s terms, including the depth and intensity of the relationship. Jesus Christ’s deity is depicted in context of His ability to work miracles and teach during His earthly ministry and His being an effective in His role in dying for sins, and His ability to live a sinless life. Jesus Christ’s role as Lord and King is practically limited to His headship of the Body of Christ and is only stated factually or doctrinally as the justification for congregational church polity. In practice, Jesus Christ’s actual rule or dominion is deferred until judgment day, the millennium, and in heaven. The role of the Holy Spirit is to comfort Christians, give Christians friendly but non-coercive and not truly binding moral advice, and to help Christians deepen their friendship and bond with Jesus Christ; to make a relationship that is in many respects little different from a one-sided self-serving relationship with another natural human into a spiritual relationship. Ultimately, friendship with Jesus Christ meets the need of the Christian, first to escape eternal damnation, and second to meet or fulfill personal or emotional needs during challenging, difficult and uncertain lives. Note: a high percentage of people adhering to this form of Christianity are children of divorced parents, people who were abused or neglected as children, low income people, and women. God the Father is depicted in terms of an ideal human father and His relationship with Jesus Christ depicted as the ideal relationship between a parent and son, which is a source of reassurance and comfort (and also a goal) of people whose lives have been affected by family dysfunction and failure to live up to the western middle class ideal family image, with the Body of Christ offering the promise of a true, real stable family that meets true and idealized emotional needs that will finally be fulfilled in heaven. Result is an outsized emphasis on good families as the solution to personal and spiritual needs, with some going so far as to claim that the family is a type of the Holy Trinity or that the Holy Trinity is the model for the family (see Wayne Grudem and James Dobson). Thus, a major goal is the creation and preservation of not only a church system but also a worldly culture (i.e. government, politics, economics, values) that is “family-friendly.” The role of worship is to meet human emotional needs, often meaning entertainment and cathartic release for lower income people and intellectual stimulation for higher income and more educated people. The goal is to relate to Jesus Christ on a personal or human level, often using the relationship with Jesus Christ  as a substitute for flawed human relationships with spouses, parents, children, friends etc. Heavy emphasis on personal evangelism and missionary work, but the driving force is often eschatological beliefs or a desire to “grow the Christian family” (meaning creating more people to enjoy relationships with) and generally rely on human initiative and methodology. Growing integration of psychology and psychiatry with Christianity to meet the emotional needs of church members. Also increasing emphasis on “personal spirituality”, to “worship God my own way” and an increasing conviction that God’s grace accommodates the desire to satisfy or fulfill personal and emotional needs, including giving license to engage in conduct forbidden by scripture. This trend includes – but is not limited to – the emergent church. Preaching  is often exhortary, entertaining or emotionally charged, with an emphasis on narratives that relate to the personal experiences and needs of the listeners that causes them to recognize their own traits – or the traits of loved ones – in the sermons. Eschatology: often dispensational.

Lord and Savior view:

Begins with the Trinity, as God the Father, God the Holy Spirit and God the Son work together to create, redeem and sustain a community of believers as the ultimate goal of accomplishing creation, and such things are done for the pleasure and glory of the Godhead as opposed to the benefit of believers, though believers do certainly benefit and are exceedingly grateful. Jesus Christ is Lord of all for times past, future and present and graciously took upon the role of Savior.  Jesus Christ’s present dominion is not extended to the political, economic, military or cultural systems of the world, but instead is limited to the church over which He is Head and whose dominion all members of the church must continually submit to. The goal of worship and praise is to glorify and honor Jesus Christ, and Christ rewards those who glorify and honor Him by using the Holy Spirit to give them joy and other gifts and fruits. Evangelism is a worship activity done to glorify Jesus Christ, to fulfill the mandates of scripture, to provide Jesus Christ with more servants, to act as God’s servants in carrying out His plan of salvation, and to give more people the benefits of salvation. Christians can appreciate general revelation and natural theology as part of their praise and worship of God, but can only know God through special revelation, which includes the Holy Scriptures and Holy Spirit illumination which reveals the Son who in turn reveals God the Father. A very personal relationship with Jesus Christ is possible, but only on Jesus Christ’s terms which cause the believer to respect Jesus Christ’s holiness and sovereignty. Thus the rules of engagement between Jesus Christ and the believer are not as equals with the focus on Jesus Christ’s meeting the believer’s needs as the believer asks (which is the believer taking the initiative) but rather a relationship where Jesus Christ takes the initiative and it is the responsibility of the believer to obediently respond. In this way, Jesus Christ is Lord and King, but not after the detached manner of human kings, but a King that one can truly know and relate with, a King who allows us to continually eat bread at His table not because He is deficient in any way and needs our company but because it is to His pleasure and glory that we accompany Him. Attacks on culture, governments and institutions are regrettable for such things are servants of God and act to restrain evil, but ultimately are not attacks on Jesus Christ Himself, whose current dominion is now spiritual over the church and whose realized dominion over the earth – one that He will exert with a rod of iron – is yet to come. Presently only attacks against believers are attacks against Jesus Christ. Relationships with other believers are based on shared beliefs, common membership in Jesus Christ’s Body, and exercise of spiritual gifts as opposed to values, family or culture. Emphasis of preaching is to inform people about God’s nature; to reveal God to hearers so that the hearers will respond to the revelation of God. Churches and pastors with this view of God are present within virtually any legitimate Protestant Christian denomination or movement, however such churches and pastors always represent a decided minority in whatever denomination or movement they are in. Eschatology: can be amillennial, postmillennial, dispensational or chiliast. Practically, eschatology is de-emphasized in favor of an emphasis on God’s eternal plan and nature.

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Four Views On The Tribulation and the Millennium

Posted by Job on May 25, 2009

Please click on link to access document.

The Tribulation and the Millennium: Four Views

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Covenant Theology in Reformed Eschatology

Posted by Job on January 25, 2009

Recommended by PJ Miller.

The Significance of Covenant Theology in Reformed Eschatology

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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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Will There Be Temple Sacrifices During The Millennium? If So, Why?

Posted by Job on June 10, 2008

Now Scofield rapture dispensationalists claim that the sacrificial system will be re – instituted during the millennium. Why, pray tell? What purpose would those sacrifices serve? I will granted that some offerings were for worship. But the sin offerings and consecration offerings … what of Jesus Christ’s work on the cross? Now dispensationalists believe in a literal reign of Jesus Christ physically on the earth for 1000 years. (So, for the record, do I.) So because Jesus Christ is on the earth we are going to return to Judaism? When the purpose of Judaism was to create a straight path for the coming of Jesus Christ in the first place? Consider the ACTUAL CONTEXT AND MEANING of the “new wineskins” passage of Luke 5:33-39, which (almost always dispensational!) Pentecostals and charismatics claim means the prior Christianity being replaced with Christianity based on the lesser gifts (the sign gifts) of the Holy Spirit: tongues, healing, prophecy. But looking at the text itself, the Pharisees were questioning Jesus Christ as to why they were not keeping things pertaining to the law, specifically fasting. Jesus Christ told the Pharisees – in the parabolic fashion – that the reason why the Jewish religion and its attendant rituals existed in the first place was to point to and prepare the way for Him. Now that He was present, they did not need those things, because having the genuine article was BETTER than having the things that pointed to the article. Now when Jesus Christ left, we again needed religious doctrines, beliefs, and practices: CHRISTIAN ones that are BETTER than the Jewish ones that Christianity REPLACED. But during the millennium, Jesus Christ will again be physically present. So, if the disciples did not need to fast while in the presence of Jesus Christ, why will CHRISTIANS need to kill doves, sheep, and cows during the millennium? Yes, that is right. I said CHRISTIANS. Please realize that GENTILE CHRISTIANS NEVER PARTICIPATED IN THE SACRIFICIAL SYSTEM. (For that matter, the overwhelming majority of ancient Jewish Christians never did either.) Why? BECAUSE THERE WAS NEVER A NEED TO! So if we do not need to do sacrifices NOW, who will be doing the sacrifices during the millennium? The only answer: THE JEWS! So … Christians and Jews are still going to be separate during the millennium? There will still be two religions? Why just Jews? Why not Muslims? Hindus? Buddhists? Atheists? Witches? Now I made it clear in A Better Replacement Theology For Christians And Jews that Jesus Christ and the apostles never started a new religion, but a new Jewish sect which Gentiles could join as God – fearers (an opportunity already available to Gentiles in the prior Jewish sects) and that Christianity did not become a separate religion until it the Jewish Christians were expelled from the church and the Gentile Christians began to combine Christianity with various pagan and mystery religions and practice, which incidentally happened long before Constantine. So as for Judaism … Christianity, properly practiced, is Judaism proper. The return of Jesus Christ will confirm that fact to Jews, and during the millennium Christians and Jews – or more accurately Gentile God fearers and Messianic Jews – will be one body worshiping Jesus Christ together in the presence of that same Jesus Christ physically present and ruling the earth. Now this is where the “new wineskins” applies to this context. Claiming that the sacrifices will be restored in the millennium explicitly means that what the Jews had under the old covenant was better than what we Christians have today! It is claiming that the old covenant/testament of Jesus Christ concealed is better than the new covenant/testament of Jesus Christ revealed, one based on better promises by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and the Holy Spirit. Borrowing (again) from Hebrews, it is claiming that what was given to man to Moses on Sinai by the mediation of angels is better than what was given to man directly by God the Son Jesus Christ! So I urge you to click on the link below to see a more Biblical explanation of what will happen, specifically regarding to the status of Israel and the Jews. 

 www.spurgeon.org/misc/eschat2.htm

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Comparison Of Four Eschatological Positions: Dispensational Premillennialism, Historic Covenant Premillennialism, Amillennialism, Postmillennialism

Posted by Job on June 10, 2008

http://home.att.net/~nathan.wilson/eschtlgy.htm

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When And Why Some Christians Root For Evil

Posted by Job on January 19, 2008

I am a big fan of the Living Waters Ministry of Ray Comfort (and yes Kirk Cameron). Some have their concerns with them; I understand but disagree. But I will use them to illustrate this point anyway. Living Waters printed up all these gospel tracts in anticipation of The Golden Compass being a major hit, but when the movie went bust, they had to give them all away. Again, I like Living Waters, so I am confident that they did this for legitimate purposes: first to counteract the evil of the movie, and to use what they felt would be a phenomenon – or at the very minimum a hit Christmas movie that would be in people’s minds and as such a good conversation starter that one could turn into an evangelism opportunity.

But alas, a great many Christian “ministries” did not have nearly so honorable motives. They had big plans to spend the next few months, years even, talking about how horrible “The Golden Compass” was to anyone and everyone that would listen, not for the purpose of spreading the gospel and shepherding Christian flocks away from dangerous influences, but of spreading their own fame and shepherding CNN, Fox News, and talk radio to their manufactured outrage demonstrations and press conferences to spread their own influence. Case in point: a California former Southern Baptist leader that is leading demonstrations to get an atheist schoolteacher fired for not pretending to respect Christianity has a radio talk show. But perhaps the best example is probably “the war on Christmas” led by none other than Bill O’Reilly, who does not even believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life.

Such people were secretly disappointed inside when “The Golden Compass” was a bust, crying internally when “The Da Vinci Code” didn’t make any money or win any Oscars. And do not be surprised. In the 1980s, these same people did a huge favor for “The Last Temptation of Christ”, a poor quality obscure independent film produced by the notorious Jews against Jesus Christ Miramax company of Bob and Harvey Weinstein (which incidentally once had a distribution deal with “traditional American values” Walt Disney Company) that would have gone completely unnoticed into obscurity, a humiliation for its director Martin Scorcese, had the defenders of “traditional Christian values America” not given it a ton of free publicity. Now the movie has its place in history and is treasured by the left as “the movie that the religious right tried to censor.” Had they left well enough alone, the movie would have quietly gone away. But oh, some folks sure did raise a lot of money and gain a ton of publicity for themselves didn’t they? Well, remember what the goal of the people who attempted to build the Tower of Babel was: to make a name for themselves. Which is the same reason why Pat Robertson is always prophesying natural disasters. He wants them to happen so A) he can get credit for predicting them ahead of time, B) it validates his suspect theology, and C) widespread misery and misfortune means more frightened confused hurting people watching the 700 Club and sending him money. Please pray for and give the real gospel of Jesus Christ to these frightened confused hurting people rather than adding to their misery.

We are supposed to respond to negative cultural trends, we are supposed to do it in a God – honoring realistic fashion. We are to do it in a way that brings honor to Jesus Christ and spreads His gospel to all that will hear it. It is not to be done for self – seeking self – aggrandizing purposes, and it is certainly not to be done to try to impose your will on people. Using legitimate legal and political avenues to prevent an untoward establishment from opening near a school or residential neighborhood? Fine. Using protest marches, boycotts, and other coercive street thug intimidation tactics to prevent them from opening anywhere and everywhere? Certainly a Christian should have better things to do with his time. What is the goal anyway? To stop people from sinning, or to convert them from being sinners? The former is a fool’s errand, the latter is a task which Jesus Christ has given to those who are willing to be counted as fools by the world for His sake.

You know the phrase “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”? Well, each new day brings us that much closer to the return of Jesus Christ than the previous one. Unless you are a post-millennialist (the leftist social gospel and ultimately liberation theology doctrines derive from this), then you should embed the meaning of the coming return of Jesus Christ in your daily Christian living: the closer we draw to return of Jesus Christ, the more evil the world is going to get. 2 Peter 3:4Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” is not my motto. I do not believe that things are just going to go along as they always have until one day out of the blue the anti – Christ is just going to stroll into the temple and commit the great desolation and the great tribulation is going to just happen out of nowhere. Some disagree with my interpretation of Matthew 24:38, but to me it says that things are going to gradually get ever more wicked, ever more depraved and perverse, with passing time. Even without that, when one considers Luke 21 and Mark 13 goes into detail the birth pangs of the endtimes described in Matthew chapter 24 verses 7, 8, and 9 would still strongly support that conclusion.

So, this world is coming to an end, and conditions are only going to get a lot worse until the end comes. Instead of following after false, self – interested, or even sincere but misguided people in trying to correct it, we need to be Christlike through submission to the Will of the Father by studying the Bible and applying its doctrines to our lives. Instead of trying to impose righteousness on a world that wants to be wicked by trying to pressure wicked governments and corporations to coerce people – which by the way only makes those worldly entities even more powerful and evil even when they succeed – we should emulate the work of Jesus Christ and His apostles and disciples. Our response to the wars and rumors of wars should be to tell everyone that Jesus Christ is the prince of peace and that we as His followers are children of peace. Our response to the greed, avarice, and materialism of this world should be to lay up our treasure in heaven and give generously of our money and time to help the poor. Our response to the sensuality, lasciviousness, and self – indulgences of the world should be to choose temperance, self – control, and humility. We will not eliminate poverty, but we can demand just and dignified treatment of the poor. We cannot stop the famines, pestilence, and diseases, but we can and should help any and all that we can with individual and church action. Even if we never overturn Roe v. Wade, fail to prevent gay marriage, and never make a dent in the divorce rate, many of us can adopt children or become foster parents, and still more of us can volunteer at the various children’s mentoring organizations, or even at public schools whether our own children or in them or not.

There is so much good that can be done, so many opportunities to glorify and serve God by showing love, mercy, and compassion to those that are less fortunate, why do Christians spend so much time tilting at windmills? Simple: tilting at windmills brings fame, money, and self – satisfaction. Lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. From such, turn away. Instead of following after spiritual ambulance chasers that sensationalize and exploit selective evils to feather their own beds and suit their own ends, follow the example of Jesus Christ so that you might serve Him the way that He desires you to in a fallen world. And yes, that may even include passing out some of Living Waters’ tracts somewhere, like maybe outside a movie theatre. The Golden Compass may not be playing there anymore, but don’t worry, something else just as bad or worse is. It is just that the usual culture warrior fearmonger suspects didn’t tell you so because the evil in those movies were not as easy for their highly paid marketers to use to create fundraising drives and their public relations people to get them booked on Michael Medved and Larry King.

The Golden Compass

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You Should Preach Like a Dying Man To Dying Men!

Posted by Job on November 20, 2007

From Theology.Wordpress.com

Preach like a dying man to dying men

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