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Posts Tagged ‘preterism’

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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Romans 11:26 – When Will All Israel Be Saved? See Zechariah 12

Posted by Job on March 11, 2011

Romans 11:26-27 reads “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” Now John Calvin, despite his being right on so many other matters, erred when he claimed that this passage refers to spiritual Israel, the church. This cannot be the case, because Sha’ul the Benjamite Jew (more commonly known as Saul, or Paul) had already made the distinction between Israel and the church, between natural Israel and spiritual Israel, earlier in Romans (such as Romans 2:28-29 and Romans 9:3-4), and furthermore declares himself to be a member of both natural and spiritual Israel. Also, “when I shall take away their sins” cannot in any sense refer to the church, because Paul is referring to a prophecy that is as yet unfulfilled with respect to national Israel. For we all know that spiritual Israel, the church, has already had its sins taken away.

So, Romans 11:26-27 refers not to the past/present church, but a future event when national Israel is saved and joins spiritual Israel; when natural Israel becomes a member of both groups just like Paul and the other apostles. John Calvin was unable to acknowledge the plain meaning of that text because of his theological bias; the covenant theology framework that refuses to acknowledge a distinction between Israel and the church, claims that Israel was the church of the Old Testament, and that (among other things) where infant circumcision was the covenantal inclusion ritual of the Old Testament church, infant baptism is the covenantal inclusion sacrament of the New Testament church.

So, allowing Romans 11:26-27 to stand as written, when will this event happen? When will Israel’s national salvation occur? The hint occurs in Revelation 1:7, which reads “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” That text points directly to Zechariah 12:10, which reads “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” Now the spirit of grace and supplications (see Romans 8:26-27) is the Holy Spirit. The One who sents the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete (see John 14:16-26), is Jesus Christ. So, Jesus Christ is the “me” whom “they” have pierced, and “they” in this specific context are the Jews, who bear the national responsibility for killing Jesus Christ through the actions of their religious and political leaders in the time of Jesus Christ, Caiaphas the high priest and the Sanhedrin.

So, when this prophecy is fulfilled, the same Holy Spirit that currently indwells the church, spiritual Israel, will also indwell the Jews, natural Israel. And if this prophecy is to be interpreted literally, this will not be the result of individual conversion by way of preaching the gospel as happens with the church, be its members (Messianic?) Jewish or Gentile, but instead an act of national salvation akin to God’s delivering Israel from Egypt and making the covenant with the Jewish nation at Sinai as recorded in Exodus. (It is obvious – to me anyway – that this precludes any notion of “free will salvation.” Just as Israel had no choice in the matter at Sinai, but instead God imposed the Sinai terms on His vassal nation as its Suzerain Lord) they will have no choice to choose or reject Jesus Christ when He comes to fulfill Romans 11:26-27 with respect to the Jewish nation.

And when will this event happen? As Zechariah 12 is obviously linked to Revelation, which deals with the fate of the church (and please recall my position that there will be no “pretribulation rapture”, or even if there is one, it will be a partial one that will leave the vast majority of the church to endure the great tribulation), Israel and the world, this event will happen at some point during the great tribulation. More specifically, as Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 1:7 obviously describe the second advent of Jesus Christ, the best Biblical evidence (again, according to my opinion) is that this blessed event will occur at the time described in Revelation 19:11-21, which is Jesus Christ returning from heaven with His saints and angels to defeat the armies of the beast (or anti-Christ) and – according to those of us with premillennialist leanings – set up His 1000 year kingdom.

It is impossible to claim that Zechariah 12:10, or more accurately the much longer prophecy block that includes much of Zechariah 12-14, has been fulfilled already. It cannot refer to the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem or the Babylonian destruction of the same, as those had already occurred when Zechariah – who lived in the time of King Darius – wrote his book. It also cannot refer to 70 A.D., because of Zechariah 12:7-8, which reads “The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify [themselves] against Judah. In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David [shall be] as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.” The fact that God did not defend Jerusalem in 70 A.D precludes any preterist interpretations of Zechariah 12:10, particularly since preterism holds that Jesus Christ came to punish the Jews in 70 A.D., not to fight and overcome their enemies for them.

Still more evidence? Zechariah 12:2-3 reads “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah [and] against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” This is a reference to how during the endtimes, the Gentile nations will attempt to destroy Israel and Jerusalem. It will be at that time that Jesus Christ makes His return. Where will this return be? The Mount of Olives according to Zechariah 14:1-4. “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which [is] before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, [and there shall be] a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”

Before you stumble at “and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished, and half of the city shall go forth into captivity” and consider that this may refer to the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians or some other event, please recall Revelation 13:7, which speaks of the beast “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” Now the Jews at this point are not “the saints”, but it is rather logical to conclude from that verse that the evil forces will inflict no small damage against Jerusalem and its inhabitants before Jesus Christ comes to save them, just as many Christians will perish at the hands of the anti-Christ before the days of the great tribulation are cut short for the elect’s sake (see Mark 13:20 and Matthew 24:22). Further, please recall that Romans 11:28 refers to the Jewish nation as being God’s elect also, thus Jesus Christ will return to ensure that some of both natural and spiritual Israel will survive the great tribulation. From these passages, it appears that natural and spiritual Israel will be combined into one elect church at the second advent of Jesus Christ.

Finally, consider Zechariah 14:6-9. “And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the light shall not be clear, [nor] dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, [that] at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day, [that] living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” Does this not correlate strongly to the description of New Jerusalem in Revelation 21-22? Revelation 21:23 reads “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof.” Revelation 22:5 also says “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 22:2 reads “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Zechariah 14:11 reads “And [men] shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.” Revelation 21:4? “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

It is simply inexcusable to ignore all this evidence unless one relies on a symbolic interpretation of not only Revelation, but the prophetic Old Testament material of Zechariah and elsewhere, not to mention New Testament prophecy outside of Revelation such as the Olivet discourse (Matthew 24-25, Luke 21 and Mark 13). The reason for such interpretation is the commitment to a theological construct that demands it (with the covenant theologian John Calvin mentioned at the beginning of this piece being an example). The fact that these texts have regrettably abused by many premillennial dispensationalists provides no justification for denying their plain meaning and application. At the very least, in order to be consistent, one must adopt a symbolic or “spiritual” interpretation of such Messianic prophecy texts as Isaiah 7:14 (yes, almah does mean “virgin” in that verse and not “young woman”, otherwise almah would not have been translated as parthenos, which can only mean “virgin”, in the Septuagint by Jewish scholars who lived over a hundred years before Jesus Christ!) and Isaiah 9:6.

Though the date of Israel’s national salvation will be the second advent of Jesus Christ, the question is the date of your salvation. This is so even if you are Jewish, for A) we do not know the day or the hour of Jesus Christ’s second advent and B) tomorrow is promised to no man. The Bible is clear: whether one is Jewish or Gentile, salvation is of the Lord, and there is only one Name by which men will be saved, and that Name is Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, with the common English transliteration being Jesus Christ. If you have not already been saved through Jesus Christ, I urge and entreat you to make your time of salvation right now.

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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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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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Whither The Promise of God That Israel Would Always Be A Nation?

Posted by Job on January 5, 2009

To the post Do Evangelical Christians Consider The Plight Of The Palestinians? I received an excellent reply which asked to justify my comments in light of Jeremiah 31:35-36:

I don’t have time to write a long comment, but one bit struck me:

Even if we accept the Old Testament version of events as history (which of course the Palestinians, being neither Jews or Christians, are not obliged to), that version tells us that the nation of Israel ceased to exist in 586 BC.

Contrast this to Jeremiah 31:35-36:

This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar– the Lord Almighty is his name: “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the Lord, “will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.”

Are these two statement compatible?

My reply: the modern definition of “nation” and what the Bible means when it uses the term are not always one and the same. Further, there seems to be a common occurrence of merging the related but not identical promises to Abraham given in Genesis 12:1-3 and Genesis 15:18-21. Jeremiah 31:35-36 references one but not the other.

So here is my response to the very legitimate question of the promise of Israel’s always being a nation made by God, and I would appreciate responses. When making them, please note two things:

1. I do not oppose the existence of the modern nation – state Israel and I am fully aware of modern Israel’s obligation to defend itself from many enemies (including but certainly not limited to Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, the PLO, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia etc.) that are committed to its destruction.
2. Though I reject premillennial dispensationalism, I acknowledge the historical legitimacy of other forms of premillennialism, and I do not subscribe  to amillennialism, preterism, covenant theology, nor do I subscribe to replacement theology in its classic sense..

Well, statement two is incompatible with history. Israel lost control of their land in 586 BC, not long after its writer Jeremiah urged the southern kingdom to submit to Babylon. And about 700 years later Jerusalem was burned to the ground and the Jews were scattered into a diaspora. So, statement two would have to be “never except for a huge gap between 586 BC and 1948 AD, and especially between 132 AD and 1948 AD.”

So the only way to reconcile Jeremiah 31:35-36 with the rest of Biblical revelation and of history is to conclude that it did not refer to the physical nation or land of Israel, but the people of Israel. And to confirm that, go to Exodus. The Exodus account is clear: Israel became a nation when God brought them out of Egypt. Yet they did not possess the land of Israel until after 40 years in the wilderness. Again, they were a nation, but wandering in the wilderness and not in Israel.

So Jeremiah 31:35-36 was a promise that the natural seed of Abraham would always exist as a people. That promise is true, and evidence of that is the discovery of Jews who can trace their bloodline in such exotic places as Ethiopia and India. But making the claim that it refers to Jews always living in and controlling the land of Israel would be hard to reconcile with the facts of history.

This is more so when you consider the nature of the Sinai covenant, especially as spelled out in Deuteronomy. The Sinai covenant was not unconditional as was the covenant that God made with Abraham or the Davidic Messianic covenant. The Sinai covenant was conditional. Which meant that for the nation of Israel to remain in the land of Israel (for the people of Shem to dwell in the tents of Canaan, remember Noah’s famous curse against the son of Ham, as the land of Israel is actually the land of Canaan, the Jebusites built Jerusalem if I am correct) and to continue to control Israel, it had to keep the Sinai covenant.

We know that Israel did not keep the terms of the covenant, and that is why 586 BC happened. Make no mistake, and the Old Testament prophets declared, that the falling of the northern kingdom to the Assyrians and the southern kingdom to the Babylonians was the result of Israel’s breaking of the old covenant. And this same Jeremiah that you quote spoke of a new covenant.

Israel’s living in and controlling the land of Israel was tied to the Sinai covenant. Again, the book that best spells this out is Deuteronomy, written by the leader of the nation of Israel at the time, Moses, who himself never set foot in the land of Israel.

Premillennial dispensationalism tries to get around the fact that Israel broke the terms of the conditionial Sinai covenant by claiming that it was the unconditional covenant with Abraham that gave Abraham’s descendants eternal control of the land of Israel. However, http://www.gotquestions.org/Abrahamic-covenant.html does an outstanding job of exposing this false belief. It is based on inappropriately joining Genesis 15:18-21 and Genesis 12:1-3 together. Genesis 15:18-21 simply promises land to Abraham and his descendants. We know that this promise was fulfilled, as Abraham’s descendants were given the land of Israel. That was not what Jeremiah 31:35-36 was referencing.

Genesis 12:1-3 is the unconditional covenant that makes promises to make Israel into a nation. That was what Jeremiah 31:35-36 was speaking of. And why did Jeremiah write Jeremiah 31:35-36? To address people who claimed that the fall of Judah to Babylon meant that God was breaking the Abrahamic covenant. Jeremiah was reminding Israel that the Abrahamic covenant meant that the natural children of Israel through Isaac would always exist as a people, not that they would always live in and have control of the nation of Israel. Again, continued living in and controlling the nation of Israel was conditioned on keeping the Sinai covenant.

Now interpreting scripture with scripture is a legitimate way to interpret the Bible, so adding Genesis 15:18-21 to Genesis 12:1-3 or even using one to interpret the other would appear, in isoloation, to be valid. The problem is that Genesis 12:1-3 and Genesis 15:18-21 do not appear in isolation. We have to consider those two statements in the context of the rest of the Bible. The issue with modern premillennialism (which, yes, does differ from historic premillennialism) is not so much that people add those two promises to Abraham together, but rather that in doing so they reinterpret or outright ignore/reject other parts of the Bible, especially the Sinai covenant, its conditional nature, and basically everything that happened after 721 BC when the northern kingdom destroyed Assyria. Interesting thing about the northern kingdom’s tribe of Dan … they never at any time kept the Sinai covenant. The book of Judges reveals that the tribe of Dan fell into apostasy immediately after Israel possessed the land. Do you know the result of that? The tribe of Dan is not listed among the 144,400 in Revelation. They are replaced by elevating the half tribes of Joseph to two full tribes. If that doesn’t prove that God was serious about the Sinai covenant, I do not know what does.

But dispensational premillennialism teaches that 721 BC was the start of Israel merely being punished for breaking the Sinai covenant, and in 1948 the punishment was over. As a matter of fact, Paul Meier, who wrote “The Millennium” series of books that – among other things – promotes Bible codes, claimed that the punishment for breaking the Sinai covenant was only the 60 year captivity in Babylon, and what happened to Israel thereafter was actually Israel being punished because most of them refused to return to Israel but stayed in Babylon. Well, Meier’s argument breaks down when you consider that A) not all of Israel was sent to Babylon, but that the poor was left behind and B) it completely ignores the northern kingdom.

And that is yet another problem. Dispensationalism starts by referring to all of Israel, then it shrinks to just the two tribes that made up Judah, then it enlarges to include all of Israel again. Why? Because if you don’t shrink it to include Judah, then you will have to deal with the fact that the 10 northern tribes were not restored to all of Israel, only the two southern tribes were. The land formerly occupied by the 10 northern tribes basically went to the SAMARITANS. (Of course, the later books of the Old Testament reveal that the Samaritans included natural descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that is why they figured so prominently in the gospels and Acts, to the point of Jesus Christ making the special effort to reveal Himself to the Samaritan woman at the well. But they were not Jews or considered to be part of the nation of Israel in any sense.) But now, it has to be expanded to all of Israel so that the descendants of those who returned from Babylon can stake a modern claim to the land given to all 12 tribes.

So we have to points of contention that are critical to premillennial dispensationalism. First is the combination of Genesis 12:1-3 and Genesis 15:18-21 when later Biblical revelation (not to mention historical events) doesn’t support it. Second is willfully misusing the term “nation” in Genesis 12:1-3 and in other relevant places to be the modern meaning of “nation – state”, a combination of a land and a government. Genesis 12:1-3, Jeremiah 31:35-36, Exodus, etc. do not use that definition, which is western. When the relevant Bible passages say “nation”, they are referring to a PEOPLE, such as a tribe (or confederation of tribes) or ethnic group, people united by common lineage. Now the epitome of the modern definition of “nation” is America, which is not defined by a single ethnic group, people group, or lineage but is an amalgamation, and indeed the people who are actually indigenous to our nation – state are a tiny part of the population and have very little – if any – power in it. So, the “nation” of America (out of many, one, e pluribus unum, tons of different races, nationalities, ethnic groups etc. combining to make one entity that is defined by a political entity and a land mass) and the “nation” of Israel (which literally means the natural genetic descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel and exists no matter which political entity they reside under or where they live whether it be in Egypt/Alexandria, Canaan, Babylon, the Greek Empire, New York City/Miami, Mumbai) are direct contrasts with each other. It is one of the classic divergences between what the Bible meant to its original hearers when it was written and what it means to contemporary audiences (especially those in the west, who are completely influenced by the western – Roman! – notions of nation – state and city – state and empire – state that often contain many races and ethnic groups as opposed to the east and other parts of the world where tribes and such still very much exist and influence thinking, even in the cases of tribes that are in the same basic ethnic or racial group … if you doubt that do an Internet search on “Rwanda genocide”).

Now I should point out that I disagree with some of the older fashioned amillennialist sorts, the line of thinking in a lot of conservative Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant circles that opposes the existence of the state of Israel. I have no problem with Israel’s existence, especially when you consider that Jews do in fact need a place of last resort that they can flee to because of persecution and other crises, and no other country on the world want that place to be their own country. (I personally wouldn’t mind that country being America, but I am not a democratic majority.) And if you look at current events in Europe, its allowing itself to be Islamized and assent to sharia law, it does appear that many Jews may have to leave that continent for Israel in the near future. So yes, I can say in a very real way that I do support Israel and the Jews. I am merely pointing out that the existence of Israel is a very bad deal for the Palestinians, who are in a tough spot that cannot be resolved with either politics or military force. People who use questionable premillennial dispensational assumptions to support Israel’s simply crushing the Palestinians beyond doing what is necessary to defend themselves (and I do agree by the way that Israel’s bombing and invading Gaza is a legitimate and perhaps necessary measure to stop being pelted with rockets) are ignoring that fact.

Bottom line: it was the Sinai covenant that allowed Israel to live in Canaan under God’s protection, not the Abrahamic or Davidic covenants. And the Sinai covenant was broken by Israel. If it hadn’t been, then Israel wouldn’t have fallen to Assyria and Judah wouldn’t have fallen to Babylon. That was precisely what the Old Testament prophets and the Chronicler addressed … people who were claiming that God had forsaken His promise to Israel. They replied “God didn’t forsake us, but we forsook God” and then took them right back to Exodus, Leviticus, and especially Deuteronomy (which is precisely why liberal scholarship denies that Deuteronomy was written by Moses, but was instead written during the exile, and the rest of the Old Testament edited to reflect it as a way of Judaism’s “covering its bases” to account for its defeat by Babylon).

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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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The Error Of Hyper Preterism

Posted by Job on February 13, 2008

Hyper Preterism Renounced

Hyper Preterism Renounced

For the last couple
of years, I have struggled with the doctrines of hyper preterism. The
doctrines also known as “realized eschatology” or “covenant
eschatology” or “full preterism” teaches that the eschatological events
of Scripture were entirely fulfilled in 70 AD with the destruction of
Jerusalem. 5solas.org holds to the belief that there remains a future
coming of Christ, along with a future physical resurrection of the
dead. Hyper preterists claim the resurrection was a spiritual
resurrection that took place in 70 AD. They teach a plethora of other
doctrines, which if you care to study you can learn about them at http://www.preteristarchive.com
or just head on over to the 5solas.org forums and read the numerous
discussions that have taken place there.Of all the heresies I’ve
encountered, I don’t think there is anything craftier than the doctrine
of hyper preterism in that it is extremely deceptive and has fooled a
good many seemingly theologically sound people. Most of the hyper
preterists that I know seem to be strongly grounded in the faith; that
is they have studied the Scriptures for years, they are seemingly
soteriologically sound, and seem to genuinely live out the life of a
true believer in Christ. Regarding their outward character I usually
cannot speak a single bad word about them. Some of the best theological
literature I’ve ever read on non-eschatological topics has been written
by hyper preterists! Usually the hyper preterist is very familiar with
the Scriptures, and has a good grasp of logic and rhetoric. They are
expert debaters, and no doubt most of them are very intelligent and
well learned individuals having a solid education in logic, rhetoric
and hermeneutics. BUT in spite of all the positive character
traits of hyper preterists, I believe their teaching on the
resurrection is not only wrong concerning its timing but also
concerning its nature. The error of Hymenaeus was great enough that it
prompted Paul to write the following things about him:

1 Tim 1:18-20,
(NKJV), This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the
prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage
the good warfare, (19) having faith and a good conscience, which some
having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, (20) of
whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they
may learn not to blaspheme. …2 Tim 2:15-19,
(NKJV), Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who
does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (16)
But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase to more
ungodliness. (17) And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus
and Philetus are of this sort, (18) who have strayed concerning the
truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow
the faith of some. (19) Nevertheless the solid foundation of God
stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let
everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

All of this begs the question, “Are modern day hyper-preterists committing the same error as Hymenaeus and Philetus?”

1 Cor 15:12-20,
(NKJV), Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the
dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the
dead? (13) But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is
not risen. (14) And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain
and your faith is also vain. (15) Yes, and we are found false witnesses
of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom
He did not raise up; if in fact the dead do not rise. (16) For if the
dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. (17) And if Christ is not
risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! (18) Then also
those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. (19) If in this
life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
(20) But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the
firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

In
Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth he wrote that a denial of
a “resurrection of the dead” is indeed a matter of life and death. He
affirms that a belief in the resurrection was absolutely necessary if
one was to have any hope in Christ. He also says that if there is no
resurrection that we as men are the most pitiable. Simply summarizing,
Paul states emphatically that if we were to deny the resurrection, our
“faith is futile” and we are still in our sins! And this is exactly
what hyper preterists are doing today by denying the resurrection.To be
fair, I will present to you what hyper preterists would say to that
charge. Hyper preterists today say they believe in the resurrection of
the dead so this charge is not valid. They however would amend their
argument stating that it occurred in 70 AD and it was a “spiritual”
resurrection; that it was different than what most Christians expect to
see when we read the Scriptures. Well, friends, if that’s the case,
then either those who hold to a future physical resurrection are lost,
or those who hold to a past spiritual resurrection are lost. To me the
critical issue is the nature of the resurrection. And this is what
makes hyper preterism so deadly. Mark my words, we do not believe in
the same “resurrection” and because of that, one group has to be right
and the other group has to be wrong. To erroneously deny the nature of
the resurrection is to commit the same error that the cultists do when
they deny God’s attributes. A denial of the nature of the resurrection
is a denial of the resurrection in the same way a denial of God’s
attributes is a denial of God Himself!To further illustrate my point,
genuine Christians and followers of cults like Mormonism and the
Jehovah’s Witness claim to believe in God and have faith that Christ’s
atonement has been applied to them. But the truth is Christians and the
followers of these Cults are worlds apart because they believe in
different gods! The Christian looks to The Christ or the Son personhood
of the Sovereign Triune God of Scripture while followers of the cults
look to a god or christ that deviates greatly from the description
given to us by the Bible. In reality, the followers of the cults are
worshipping a god of their own mind or imagination. They don’t know the
Jesus true Christians know. And in the same way those who claim to
believe the teaching of hyper preterism believe in a resurrection that
is completely contrary to the same resurrection in which I believe.
Because of this deviancy in the meaning of the resurrection, one of us
has no hope and one of us is lost in their sins as Paul rightly states.
Christ’s resurrection was physical. He was the first to be resurrected
and I believe I will be resurrected in exactly the same manner. Those
who don’t share this hope with me do not know of the hope I have in
Christ and have swallowed the gnostic lie of Hymenaeus thus painting
themselves not as genuine Christians, but as damnable heretics unless
they repent. These are harsh words, but they are not my own, but those
of the Apostle Paul’s. I like to think of 5solas.org as haven for truth
on the Internet. For a period of a couple years I have thoroughly and
honestly investigated the teachings of hyper preterism. I approached it
carefully and closely listened to both sides of the argument. I have
met some people that I consider to be good online friends and it pains
me more than anything to say this – but I cannot embrace them any
longer as brethren in Christ if they continue to embrace the teaching
of hyper preterism. This pains me greatly because I truly love these
people. But I must stand for truth rather than knowingly turn a blind
eye to their serious and deadly error in hopes that God may grant them
repentance. To not do so would be unloving, and in fact murderous.
Therefore as owner and webmaster of 5solas.org, I hereby renounce the
doctrine of hyper preterism and declare it to be neo-hymenaenism. It is
a lie of Satan used to ensnare and deceive many, and if it were
possible, even the elect.

http://preteristheresy.blogspot.com/

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Preterism Versus Futurism Debate!

Posted by Job on November 6, 2007

geocities.com/lasttrumpet_2000/debate3.html

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Someone Explain Amillennialism To Me

Posted by Job on October 27, 2007

It appears that preterism is a manifestation of amillennialism. If I am correct, amillennialism holds that the 1000 year rule of Jesus Christ refers to Christ currently ruling NOW from heaven, and that the 1000 years is merely a metaphor for “a very long time.” I do not have a problem with 1000 years not being taken literally. What I have a problem with is the fact that Revelation seems to say that Jesus Christ will physically return, defeat the anti – Christ and the false prophet, and set up a kingdom on earth for a time, and at the end of that time will be the final destruction of ALL God’s enemies, including Satan and death.

Saying that Revelation 19 – 20 refers to Christ’s FIRST advent and that His rule of the earth takes place NOW by virtue of the saints preaching the gospel … does that not defy what Paul wrote in Ephesians? If Christ is ruling from heaven and Satan is bound, then why do we need to contend against Satan’s kingdom with the full armor of God? And if you want to interpret the Bible allegorically, that is fine. But amillennialism holds that Revelation 19 and Revelation 20:8-15 describe a singular Day of the Lord, but Revelation 20:1-7 refer to conditions that have existed ever since the Day of Pentecost!

Now take away the fact that it is totally inconsistent with the literary narrative in a way that nothing else written by John (or anything else in the Bible) approaches, even in Revelation, then it is ALMOST ACCEPTABLE if one buys that Satan being “loosed a little season” in Revelation 20:3 refers to the great tribulation. This link does say that Satan being “bound” in this dispensation means that He cannot bring in the full anti – Christ system as of yet. But even altering the chronology of the narrative in such a destructive way does not account for the text explicitly saying that Christ Himself would physically return and rule the nations with a rod of iron! Suggesting that the Body of Christ would do so until the great tribulation completely denies everything that Christ said not only in the Gospel of John about the tough road of persecution, marginalization, and rejection that lay ahead for the church, but also those very same things in Revelation 2 and 3.

Now amillennialists are correct in arguing that pre – tribulational dispensationalism creates a dangerous theological and political mindset for the church. Watching John Hagee in action, that has become my own personal belief. But is not conservative dominionism and triumphialism, manifest destiny, due to the notion that Christians can rule the world for Christ Jesus? That with the combined power of the church and state, we can subdue the infidels – excuse me, unbelievers – and crush the opponents of Jesus Christ through worldly means? Now of course George W. Bush is NOT a Christian, but though his adventure in Iraq is often blamed on premillennial dispensationalism, the notion that he can go over there and spread “western values and democracy” (which let us face it the religious right uses as a proxy for Christianity) seems a lot more like amillennial triumphialism to me. And then of course there is the “social gospel” of the “Christian” left that we saw so quickly and easily morph into liberation theology, socialism, communism, and political deism.

My theory for the origin of amillennialism: traditional scholarship until recently held that the Book of Revelation was written very late (as late of 96 AD) and not widely circulated until still later. By that time, the early church had come up with endtimes doctrines without it, and those doctrines were what can be considered proto – amillenialism. It is well known that when the early church WAS confronted with Revelation, they did their best to dismiss it. Attempts were made to leave it out of the canon, and when that failed there was an attempt to claim that it was not written by the apostle John, but another John. The latter effort was an attempt to say that the book had a useful spiritual purpose, but IT IS NOT LIKE THE THINGS DESCRIBED IN IT ARE ACTUALLY GOING TO HAPPEN!

The sticking point was always Revelation 20:1-7. The given reasons was that it was “too materialistic” (meaning describing the coming Kingdom of God in natural terms, a physical Christ ruling over a natural earth rather than a spiritual or eschatological one) and “too Jewish” (for Jewish eschatology had long centered around a Davidic king Messiah ruling the natural earth – and the lion shall lay down with the lamb and you shall have many bountiful harvests as said in Isaiah and similar). But the real reason was that Revelation 20:1-7 contradicted what had been established church doctrine for decades. What amillennialism does is resuscitate the endtimes doctrines that existed PRIOR to Revelation.

What this does, in effect, to exclude Revelation from the canon by claiming that it contains no new information, and return the church to the state that existed before Revelation was written; before the Revelation to John was given. It functionally claims that the canon was ACTUALLY complete and finalized with the revelation from God to man finished with the prior 65 books. I am not making this up: one of the main arguments used in support of amillennialism by that very link is that the millennium is mentioned nowhere else in scripture!

While I understand that scripture must confirm scripture, there are plenty of very important things historical and theological in the Bible that are only mentioned or referenced in one place, and the Gospel of John is a huge repository of them. Instead, the things in the Revelation that DO correlate strongly to the other places in the Bible are used to establish the few things that DO NOT, i.e. Revelation 20:1-7, as being true. That is a consistent principle of Bible interpretation that for some strange reason is only abandoned in this one passage to suit this one doctrine.

Since Revelation is forbidden from revealing any actual new information of significance save the vision of Jesus Christ by amillennialism, the doctrine accomplishes what the early church dissenters failed: keeping the Bible down to 65 books. And not ENTIRELY incidentally, amillennialism completely removes the nation and people of Israel from having any significance whatsoever in current or future events, which would seem to contradict Paul’s statement that God has not cast aside His people but rather is instead still dealing with and has plans for them in Romans.

Posted in Christianity, endtimes, eschatology, liberation theology, social gospel | Tagged: , , , | 76 Comments »

 
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