Frenetic Friday


And now to continue to document our descent into moral insanity is your host Keachfan!  Well folks we have a really good show tonight so with out further to do here we go!

I don’t know about you but I am tired of the transgender revolution yet it seem to appear every day in my news feed.  So let’s take a look at a few new bits of information to come across my desk.

First this:

I find it disingenuous how he quotes the golden rule but ignores what the rest of the scripture says regarding how God created them male and female. It just shows that his “Christianity” is subservient to his political career.

And then reality smacks you in the face.

What do you do when you work for the ACLU and your daughter asks you why are you forcing her to go to a bathroom with boys in it?

“I have shared my personal experience of having taken my elementary school age daughters into a women’s restroom when shortly after three transgender young adults, over six feet [tall] with deep voices, entered,” said Maya Dillard Smith, interim director of the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. “My children were visibly frightened, concerned about their safety and left asking lots of questions for which I, like many parents, was ill-prepared to answer, <source>

Well in the case of Maya Dillard Smith she left the ACLU to start her own advocacy group that seeks to find a middle ground, which is also the best name of her website. On it you can see this video:

Of course not everyone in the trans-community are interested in having a middle ground and one has responded in a verbally abusive manner. You can read that if you so desire here fair warning the language used is rough.

And now a quick message from the Religion of Peace

I’m sure you saw this on all the major news networks, in a village in Egypt a mob of 300 men stripped an elderly Coptic Christian woman and made her march through the street.  Her crime?  There was a rumor, a rumor mind you, that her son was having a relationship with a ,Muslim woman.  Yes, no, actual evidence was produced but that doesn’t matter after all a Christian was involved!  Or wasn’t as the case may be.  And to top it all off they also burned down seven houses of some Coptic Christians.  <source >

Politics!

It had to be done.  Well over at the Gospel Coalition there is this post by a member of Thabiti Anyabwile congregation on Evangelical Leaders: Tell Us to Vote for Clinton.   I completely disagree with this viewpoint.  However, Pastor Gabriel Hughes has provided a more articulate reason to disagree with the author’s statement.

Thabiti’s Hillary Problem

The following is a statement that was made on the WWUTT podcast on June 3, 2016. It was made into transcript form to be posted on this blog. Some of the wording may vary a bit.


On Thabiti Anyabwile’s blog through the Gospel Coalition website, he featured a guest post from Nick Rodriguez, fellow church member at Anacosta River Church in Washington D.C., the Southern Baptist church where Thabiti is a pastor. In that blog, Rodriguez gives six reasons why evangelical leaders should tell Christians to vote for Hillary Clinton. Read the rest here

Lastly something to cause End Time experts heart palpitations:
Good night!
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Theology Thursday: Antichrist(s)


Long overdue – thanks one and all for your prayers while I have been recovering – here is the final post on comparative eschatologies, bibilcal/orthodox and unbiblical/fanciful. In this final post, we’ll look at what the major schools of eschatology teach about the Antichrist or Antichrists:

To Postmillennialists, the antichrist is viewed in the past, as various individuals, a movement or spirit (1 John 4:3) of deception. The Apostle John warned that even in his own lifetime, “many antichrists have come (1 John 2:18).”

To most Amillennialists, the antichrist is a future individual who gains political power over the whole world before the return of Christ. Other Amillennialists share the Postmillennial view and point to numerous examples, from Nero to Hitler, and some to the Papacy. Because of the Amillenial view of the worldwide decline of the culture and the church being driven underground, the former opinion makes more sense in the grand Amillennial scheme. Historically, world domination is the goal of every conqueror-dictator. Sooner later one is bound to succeed, at least for a time.

Historic Premillennialists teach that the antichrist is a future individual who inflicts persecution of Christians before the “rapture” at the end of the tribulation period.

Dispensational Premillenialists teach that a future world dictator will persecute both Jews and Christians, reaching the peak of his power after the rapture. “Mid-trib” advocates, say it occurs 3 1/2 years into the 7-year tribulation period.

Theology Thursday: Thy Kingdom Come (Part Three)


This is part three of a brief series on orthodox eschatology, with brief comments on common “mongrel” forms that are considered unorthodox, heterodox, and/or downright heretical.

Today’s post is a summary chart which describes each position, it’s common hermeneutic, and highlights. There are degrees and shades of these, so it can hardly be called an authoritative or even necessarily accurate summary, but a generalization. I’m painting with a very broad brush here, so don’t come down too hard on what you perceive to be an error, but comments, as always, are welcome.

HERMENEUTICS:

Post-mil: Historical, grammatical method; context and genre are
interpretive considerations; Scripture interprets Scripture.
Apocalyptic literature mostly figurative, mostly fulfilled.
Context determines whether literal or figurative. Old
Testament interpreted by the New.

A-mil: As Postmil above. Revelation should be interpreted by it’s
intended audience, the 1st century Church, reassuring them
of Christ’s ultimate victory.

Historic Pre-mil: Historical grammatical method; context and genre
are considered, Scripture interprets Scripture. A “natural
reading” of apocalyptic literature determines whether a
portion is literal or figurative.

Dispensational Pre-mil: Strong inclination toward literalism.
Scripture divided into seven dispensations (periods of
time) in which God acted or acts in different ways towards
humankind.

SECOND COMING OF CHRIST:

Post-mil: Occurs after the millennium (which is not a literal 1000 year
period of time), when a triumphant church has conquered the
culture, planet-wide. A “golden age” of righteousness on Earth
to conclude this present age. The Second Coming initiates a
general resurrection, judgment of all men, and eternal state.

A-mil: The Second Coming occurs after the millennium, which is
this present age. “The millennium” encompasses all of human
history between the two advents of Christ. The Church triumphs
through the purity resulting from persecution. The Second Advent
initiates a general resurrection, judgment, and eternal state.

Historic Pre-mil: The millennium is a “golden age” that begins after the
second coming. After a time of great tribulation, Christ returns
and initiates the thousand-year golden age of peace.

Dispensational Pre-mil: Second Coming before the millennium but
preceded by a secret “rapture,” the catching away of the Church
(living and dead) before, during, or following a great period of
tribulation. He returns and sets up an Earthly, geopolitical
kingdom.

NATURE AND TIMING OF THE KINGDOM:

Post-mil: Began at the first advent of Christ, present reality. Spiritual in
nature, encompassing both heaven and Earth. It grows and gains
throughout the present millennial age until it fills the earth.

A-mil: Began at the first advent of Christ, present reality, encompassing
heaven and earth. It grows to reach a remnant from every tongue
and tribe on earth, but relatively few are saved – over time,
however, cumulatively, it’s citizens are a vast unnumbered multitude.

Historic Pre-mil: While the kingdom has come spiritually, but will not
transform the earth until the millennium the Second Advent.

Dispensational Pre-mil: In no sense present today, it is an earthly kingdom
initiated by the return of Christ, established suddenly and cataclysmically,
primarily as a Jewish kingdom.

In future posts in this series I’ll describe what each group teaches about Antichrist(s), the rapture, the resurrection, judgment, Christ’s reign, Israel, the binding of Satan and his current status, and tribulation, and re-creation. Buckle up!

Theology Thursday: They Kingdom Come! Part 2


Last week I introduced the topic of eschatology (the study of “last things”) and explained why it matters. Readers may want to go back and re-read last Theology Thursday’s post just to get a sense of where we left off and where we’re headed. This time I will introduce the three orthodox (historical, bible-based, well-founded, in keeping with Church teaching for many centuries) schools of eschatology, and list some un-biblical, heterodox (un-orthodox) and absolutely heretical perversions of them.

Over the next two or three weeks we’ll explore the history of each system, the main features of each, and how each system deals with issues and interprets certain Scripture portions. There are three historic and orthodox schools of eschatology, each with solid footing in Scripture and history, which are either embraced or tolerated as orthodox by most Reformed churches (Reformed Baptists, Presbyterians, others). Each has one or two “mongrel” forms which are not orthodox at all, unbiblical, Scripturally unsupportable, and/or downright heretical, damnable lies. I’ll mention and describe these “mongrel” forms, but I’ll try to avoid going off on a tangent about them. That might be hard for me with my background in Charismania, but I’ll try.

Three Schools of Eschatology: Two are “millennial,” one is not.

Today I’ll just briefly summarize all three, and go more in-depth with each in later Theology Thursdays.

Postmillennialism is confessional and orthodox in it’s historic form, but in our day there are two “mongrel” forms of it that have come to shape the policies and actions of certain groups, both on the fringes of orthodoxy and “off the deep end” as well. Let’s look at the major features of Postmillennialism. Orthodox postmillennialism relies on historical-grammatical hermeneutics, include context and genre as interpretive considerations (genre referring to the type of literature among the 66 books of the bible – poetry and song, narrative, instructional, prophetic / apocalyptic, etc), context determines whether a passage is literal or figurative, and “let Scripture interpret Scripture.” To orthodox postmillennialists, the Book of Revelation is mostly figurative and mostly fulfilled in the year 70 AD (“partial” pretorism).

It’s general teaching is a gradual triumph of the gospel, as it spreads and changes lives, to become the dominant force on Earth, influencing law and culture, bringing in a “golden age” in which the Church has subdued the Earth to Christ, and the Lord Jesus returns to a triumphant Church which has conquered the culture, fulfilling God’s charge to Adam, “subdue the Earth.” This “golden age” resulting from the power of the gospel transforming the whole culture of the world is not a literal 1,000 year period, but is happening even now. The Second Coming of Christ occurs after this “millennium” in which the gospel has conquered the Earth. The Lord’s Second Coming initiates the general resurrection, judgement, and eternal state.

Unbiblical “mongrel” forms of Postmillennialism take the form of Charismatic “Dominion theology” in which the world is conquered by naming-it-and-claiming-it, speaking it into being by the word of faith, etc. The other mongrel form of Postmillennialism is so-called “Reformed” theonomy in which even the civil laws of ancient Israel are reinstated, and Church and State become one.

Amillennialism relies on the historical-grammatical method of interpretation. Context and genre are interpretive considerations, Scripture interprets Scripture, Old Testament interpreted by the New Testament. Some amillennialists see Progressive Parallelism in the Book of Revelation; Earth’s history repeated seven times. Most amillennialists are pretorist; either orthodox (“partial”) pretorist or hyper (“full”) pretorist, teaching that either most (“partial,” orthodox) or all (“full” or hyper-pretorist) prophecy in Revelation is already fulfilled by 70 AD. Hyper-pretorism, or “full” pretorism is absolutely heretical! The Second Coming, resurrection, judgment, and recreation have certainly NOT already taken place! “Partial,” or orthodox pretorism, however, as found in historic Postmillennialism and Amillennialism, is within the bounds of historical orthodoxy.

Like Postmillennialists, Amillennialists teach that we are in “the millennium” now; that it is not a literal period of 365,000 24-hour days, but that the “thousand years of peace” described in Revelation is figurative, meaning only “a really long time.” Amillennialism is better named “Non-millennialism.” The prefix “A” means “not,” as in “asymmetrical” (not symmetrical) or “asymptomatic” (having no symptoms).

Despite the power of the gospel to change the lives of those who believe it, Amillennialism teaches that the great majority of humanity will reject the gospel, and the Lord will return to rescue a persecuted remnant rather than a triumphant, world-conquering Church which dominates the planet-wide, “Christianized” human culture. It is often called pessimistic eschatology, but that is a misnomer. Optimism or pessimism depends on one’s point of view. The remnant does indeed overcome the world, but not in the form of a “golden age” where the whole world is majority-Christian and truly living in the power of Spirit-filled holiness. The Scriptures are replete with Remnant types and narratives, from the fist family to the tiny surviving remnant of those who fled from Egypt, those emerging from the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, etc. Amillennialism teaches that the Lord returns to rescue a persecuted remnant, and that the Second Coming initiates the resurrection, judgment, and final state of humanity.

Premillennialism
takes three forms in our day. Historic, Dispensational, and Progressive. Only Historic premillennialism is orthodox! Dispensational Premillennialism is heterodox at best, but usually heretical in that it offers two different plans of salvation – one for Jews and another for Gentiles), wrongly dividing the people of God. The little Epistle to the Ephesians is the antidote for such foolishness. The Progressive form of premillennialism, first appearing in the 1980’s, teaches that the meaning of Scripture changes over time, and that Scripture means “whatever it means to me, at the time I read it.” This is a complete departure from the historical-grammatical process, which understands that the meaning of any portion of Scripture is whatever the author and the Holy Spirit intended when it was penned. This is “liberal theology” run amok. “Progressive Dispensationalism” will get no further consideration in this series, but it bears mentioning since it has found a place in some “Emergent” churches.

Historic Premillennialism relies on the historical-grammatical hermeneutic, context and genre are interpretive considerations, and Scripture interprets Scripture. In a “natural reading” of Revelation, context determines whether it is to be interpreted literally or figuratively, and the Old Testament is interpreted by the New. In Historic Premillenialism the literal 1,000-year reign of Christ on Earth is to be seen as Christ-centered rather than focused on mankind and it’s destiny.

Dispensational Premillennialism’s hermeneutic has a strong inclination towards literalism. Scripture and history are divided into 7 dispensations, prophecy is interpreted literally, and the Old Testament is interpreted by the New. The whole bible is divided into 7 time periods (dispensations) in which God acts in different ways toward men, and whenever possible, Scripture is to be interpreted literally.

Historic Premillennialism goes waaaaaay back to the late first century. Premillennialism, as it’s name suggests, teaches that the Second Coming of Christ initiates a literal 1,000 year period of unprecedented peace on Earth, under the physical and political reign of King Jesus from Jerusalem, capitol city of planet Earth, followed by a rebellion, Armageddon, judgment, the destruction and re-creation of Earth and it’s inheritance by those who were saved in this present world. In Historic Premillennialism, the Second Coming is not separated from the “secret rapture” described in Dispensational Premillennialism by years of time (3-1/2 or 7 depending on one’s “pre, mid, or post-tribulation” persuasion). In all three orthodox schools of eschatology, the catching-away of the Church to meet the Lord in the air is not a separate event from the Second Coming, but simultaneous with His coming to Earth in judgment. Only in Dispensational Premillennialism are the two distinguished from one another, occurring as separate events with some period of time between the two.

In Historic Premillennialism, the chapters in Revelation appear in chronological order, the enthroned saints are on Earth, there are two physical resurrections (the just and the unjust are resurrected separately); Christ returns before the millennium but after the tribulation period. The Second Coming ushers in a literal 1,000-year period of planet-wide transformation.

That’s a kinda-sorta summary of the three basic forms of orthodox eschatology, with brief notes on un-orthodox variations of each. This is a lot of information in just a few paragraphs! It could easily become very confusing… so,

Next Week: A Chart to make this a little easier to keep all these different schools of thought organized in summary form.

Until then,
Robin

Theology Thursday: Thy Kingdom Come!


Welcome to another Theology Thursday! This is the first of a series on the promises the Lord has made to His people, to set everything to right in this world, and to re-create it unspoiled by sin. Theologians call this broad category of prophecy “eschatology.” And though I have written on this topic before, my remarks were limited to criticism of the single school of eschatology that has become the majority report among evangelical Christians in our time. This time I want to expand to the other schools of thought, to explain them, and to expose the “mongrel” forms of eschatology that have gained ground in recent years. While I lean towards one, I am by no means certain of it, nor would I make any one of the three historic schools of thought a test of orthodoxy.

Is Eschatology Important?

Inasmuch as one’s eschatology results from one’s hermeneutics (their way of interpreting Scripture) and on one’s view of the nature of God’s Kingdom, it matters a great deal! It is not, however, a primary test of orthodoxy (right doctrine) unless it omits or denies any or all of these three essential points:

The future, physical, bodily return of Jesus Christ to Earth;

The resurrection of all the dead, both righteous and unrighteous, along with the living, to face the judgment of God;

The future and physical destruction of this planet, and it’s re-creation by God into a perfect world, unstained by sin and forever free of it’s effects.

It matters how one interprets Scripture:

If one’s hermeneutic demands literal interpretation of all Scripture, then one’s eschatology will demand a very literal 1,000-year period of time, a “golden age” on Earth prior to it’s destruction and re-creation, during which Christ will reign literally from a literal throne in Jerusalem, and the Earth will be subdued. Literal interpretation of 1,000 years of peace is called “millennialism,” and takes two distinct forms – one historical and orthodox, the other recent and heterodox (unorthodox at least, if not heretical).

If one’s hermeneutic follows the historical-grammatical method, it does not necessarily follow that a “golden age” lasting a literal period of 365,000 24-hour days is required by Scripture. This is “non-millennialism” and also takes two forms, with historical-orthodox and modern-heterodox versions.

If one interprets the Scriptures according to one’s own imagination and “whatever it means to me at the time,” who knows what you believe anyway.

It matters how one sees the kingdom of God:

Is His kingdom political? Physical or spiritual? Of this world or the next? What is our role in His kingdom?

Some schools of eschatology (the study of future things) require that the kingdom of God is – or is to be – a physical and geopolitical one set up here on Earth. Others teach that the kingdom of God is spiritual and alien to this world, but that it’s influence will overcome the world and usher in that “golden age” where it becomes a physical and geopolitical reality in this world. And still another teaches that the kingdom is not destined to overcome this world, but to be in it and to rescue a remnant of it’s citizens (by means of the gospel) until the Lord returns, judges, and destroys the present creation.

It matters how we interpret Scripture! It matters how we view the King, His kingdom, it’s nature, and our role in it!

But it is not a test of whether or not a person is truly a Christian, unless, as I said above, it omits or denies any or all of those three essential points above.

In the next few thrill-packed episodes of Theology Thursday, we’ll look at the three basic schools of eschatology, what they teach, and warn against heretical forms of them that defy the clear teaching of Scripture. We’ll look one at a time at Postmillennnialism, Amillennnialism, and Premillennialism.

Theology Thursday: Who Is Israel?


He is NOT A JEW who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is OUTWARD in the FLESH. Be he is a Jew who is one INWARDLY; and circumcision is that which is of the HEART, BY THE SPIRIT; not by the letter, and his praise is not from men, but from God (Romans 2:28-29, NASB).

For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be HEIR OF THE WORLD was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith… it is by FAITH, in order that it may be in accordance with GRACE, so that the promise will be … to those who are of the FAITH of Abraham… (Rom 4:13, 16 NASB).

…it is NOT THE CHILDREN OF THE FLESH who are children of God, but the children of the PROMISE who are regarded as descendants (Rom 9:8).

Romans 9:25 quoting Hosea 2:23

I will call those who were NOT MY PEOPLE, ‘My people,’ and she was not beloved, ‘Beloved.’

For THERE IS NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN JEW AND GREEK; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for WHOEVER will call on the name of the LORD shall be saved (Rom 10:12-13).

So then, THOSE WHO ARE OF FAITH are blessed with Abraham, the believer (Galatians 3:9).

There IS NEITHER JEW NOR GREEK … for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to CHRIST, then YOU ARE ABRAHAM’S DESCENDANTS, heirs according to promise (Gal 3:28-29).

…the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise IN CHRIST JESUS through the gospel (Eph 3:6).

So who is Israel, theologically speaking? Israel is the people descended from Abraham’s faith, rather than just his genealogy. Israel is hugely multiplied by the adoption of believing Gentiles into the family of God.

Is this so-called “replacement theology?” Not at all! This is simply the bible’s definition of the community, or “nation” if you will, now comprised of “those from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:9)” who have been purchased for God by Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. The political (earthly) theocracy that was ancient Israel no longer exists, though the physical descendants of Abraham certainly do, and as the Apostle Paul observed, “that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25);” but “they are beloved for the sake of the father; for the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable (verses 28-29).”

Dispensationalists wrongly divide the people of God by maintaining a distinction which Christ has wiped away.

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups (Jew and Gentile) into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall (Eph 2:14).

Replacement? No! Augmentation, multiplication, adoption, and ultimate redemption? Absolutely yes.

SPECIAL NOTE TO KEACHFAN READERS: Theology Thursday posts are likely to be sporadic for the next couple of months, as I am traveling and may not be able to post regularly and faithfully every Thursday while I’m away from home.

Theology Thursday: Still Waiting for the Rapture!


Below is a news article I saved on my computer 14 years ago (by the way, it’s the very same computer I still use today! To find out how, see my other blog). Though the author misrepresents the parties on a couple of minor points, I think it’s worth digging up and re-posting once every decade or so. Especially since more and more TV “evangelists” and radio preachers are making more noise about bible prophecy today than ever before. Even in the scary days of the Cold War, when everyone expected the human race to destroy itself in a nuclear holocaust, and even years after “experts” in bible prophecy like Hal Lindsey made predictions that failed to come true; even though they have been proved wrong again and again, people still buy their books, support their TV and radio shows with donations, and attend their seminars and promote their views. Now the focus is on the middle East and far East, and on the rise of Islamic terror instead of Russia, Israel, and the PLO. The names change, but the story remains the same: “Within the next 10-20 years, it’ll all be over and we’ll be outta here.”

I want to chat about why this weird, escapist theology remains so popular even though it is little more than 200 years old. No one in all of church history from Acts to beyond the Reformation ever taught any such thing. The Pilgrims and Puritans never imagined such fanciful stuff. The Reformers never proposed any such thing. Historic premillennialists never taught such wildly irresponsible science fiction stuff. But rather suddenly (historically speaking), it has become the majority report among evangelical Christians. I would like to know why! And next Theology Thursday, I’ll offer a couple of possible explanations. And of course, I will recall and remind us of Jude’s call for his bretheren to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all delivered (note that: Not “discovered,” delivered!).

Dispensationalists Promised Rapture to Avoid Violent End

By: Grace Halsell
Scripps Howard News Service
GRACE HALSELL, a resident of Washington D.C., is the author of Forcing God’s Hand:
Why Millions Pray for a Quick Rapture – and the Destruction of Planet Earth
,
released by Crossroads International Publishing.

While we got through Y2K with scarcely a hitch, a growing number of Americans still say the end is near.
Christians have been talking about the end of the world for 2,000 years. So what else is new? Actually, a new doctrine – and an astoundingly popular one – turns the old meaning of End Times and even of Christianity itself upside down.

Formerly, for 1,800 years, the church held to a theory of “no pain, no gain” – that is, salvation came through trial and tribulation and obedience. This new doctrine, less than 200 years old, holds that while God expects us to wage a cataclysmic war to destroy the planet, born again Christians need not suffer one moment of agony. They can be Raptured, wafted up to heaven where in grandstand seats they can watch the holocaust below.

The Rapture is a key, indispensable ingredient to understanding this new doctrine. Until the mid-1800s and the preaching of two men, John Darby of England and a Tennessean, Cyrus Scofield, no one, whether Catholic or Protestant, held the view that Christians had such an easy escape hatch. Scofield (1843-1921) in particular made the Rapture doctrine popular with his Scofield Reference Bible.

“Scofield implanted his own ideas in the Bible. This meant that many in the pew failed to distinguish between the words of Scofield and those of the Holy Spirit,” writes Joseph M. Canfield in “The Incredible Scofield and His Book.”  The Darby-Scofield doctrine – called dispensationalism – teaches that God from the beginning planned certain time periods or epochs – called dispensations – all centered in Israel. It teaches that Jerusalem’s mosque must be replaced by a Jewish temple, that Christ will return to establish a Jewish kingdom, sitting on a throne in the third temple in Jerusalem and presiding over Old Testament style temple worship such as sacrifices of red heifers.

By some estimates, as many as one out of every 10 Americans accepts this theology. Large and influential seminaries that teach the doctrine include the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia College of the Bible, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles and about 200 other colleges and institutes. There are more than 100,000 students in bible schools and 80 to 90 percent of the teachers, as well as their students, are dispensationalists. Of the 4,000 Christian ministers who attend the National Religious Broadcasters convention annually, at least 3,000 are dispensationalists.  The theology pervades Assemblies of God, Pentecostal and other charismatic churches, as well as the 15-million member Southern Baptist Convention and independent Baptists. Reportedly, this is the fastest growing religious movement in Christianity today.

Dispensationalist books rival if not outsell the popular John Grisham novels. Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth,” a best seller for more than 10 years, has sold more than 25 million copies. In the late 1990s, evangelist
Tim LaHaye’s series of four books dealing with the Rapture sold nearly three million copies.

The Dallas Theological Seminary, fountainhead of dispensationalism, has graduated many of the pastors now preaching dispensationalism in some 1,000 nondenominational Bible churches located throughout the United States. In these burgeoning segments of Christianity, theologians, pastors and seminary presidents teach the same doctrine that cult leaders such as Jim Jones told his followers as he led them to death: The end is coming soon. So let’s get on with it. Let’s be ahead of the crowd. Followers drawn by the appeal of the free Rapture ticket dig deeply into their checkbooks to reward their preachers and build huge churches. Elevated by money and acclaim, ministers of Armageddon theology wield power and are authority figures in their communities, often with more influence than leaders in institutional churches or of scholars or theologians in orthodox Christianity.

The dispensationalists say the world is getting steadily worse, that we need do nothing to save our forests, rivers, air. They sharply criticize the status quo, but make no effort to change it for the better. They preach about a God of wrath, of vengeance and war. They portray Christ as a five-star general leading all the armies of the world, slaying billions of unbelievers. As for that final battle, “I’m not worried,” said television evangelist Jerry Falwell in a summation of his Rapture doctrine. “You know why? I ain’t gonna be here.”

Why has this fanciful theology remained so popular in spite of dozens of it’s promoter’s predictions failing to come true for decades?  Does anyone else remember that Russia was going to invade Israel and hasten Christ’s return by no later than 1988?  I do.  I read it in Hal Lindsey’s book – which still sells a zillion copies a year.  How did this theology get to be the majority view among evangelicals?  Why is it that even in Reformed churches these days, no one talks about eschatology (and thus, the only ones who do talk about it are heard)?

Comment below!  Next week I’ll propose some answers of my own.

Theology Thursday: The Gift of Tongues


The Truth About The Gift of Tongues

©1999 by Robin Arnaud

While still active in the charismatic movement, I became disillusioned with the obvious disparity between the bible descriptions and accounts of the charismatic gifts, especially the gift of tongues. If it is supposed to be a sign not to believers, but to unbelievers (1 Cor 14:22), why had I never heard an unbeliever interpret a message in tongues at church? If it is a prayer language, then why did we use it so extensively as part of our corporate worship when 1 Corinthians 14 tells us not to? I was overwhelmed with questions and suspicious of even my own experience. So I began a study of the bible and of early church history in order to determine the true biblical nature and purpose of the charismatic gifts. I was not seeking to prove or disprove anything, only to discover the true nature and purpose of the gifts. Here are the results of that study:

=================================

The PURPOSE of Tongues

God is a God of order and design (1 Cor 14:33). When He does something, He does so with a plan and purpose. The Lord did not speak in parables, for instance, just to be clever or to appear profound. Scripture teaches that He used parables with the express intent of hiding the truth from the non-elect (Mark 4:11,12) and revealing it to the lowly (1 Cor 1:26-29). Likewise, miracles and gifts are to be understood as having a particular purpose. They served as signs validating the message which they accompanied (John 20:30,31; Acts 2:43, 4:16; 2 Cor 12:12; Gal 3:5; Rom 15:17-19). The purpose of the impartation of gifts by the Apostles (both scripture and subsequent church history demonstrate that the gifts were bestowed only by the Apostles and no one else – ever) was to validate the Apostles’ teachings.

Why do some bible teachers claim that tongues is Satanic?

Paul warned Timothy that in latter times many would fall away from the faith, giving heed to “seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” Since Christ rendered Satan and all his demons powerless by His death and resurrection, the only power demons now have is the power of deceit. Demons are deceiving angels. They get people to listen to their lies by making their lies attractive and alluring. Paul called them “seducing spirits” (1 Tim 4:1). A major reason so many folks believe it is Satanic is because there are so many “gifts” which do not validate the Apostles‘ teaching. Remember the slave girl with “a spirit of divination” who followed the Apostle Paul crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation!” (Acts 16:16-18). It turned out that her “prophesyings” were the work of a demon in spite of her message! Paul cast the demon from her and she stopped prophesying. How could Paul tell that the servant girl’s “gift” was demonic? Two reasons:

1. No Apostle had imparted the gift to her, and

  1. Her prophesyings used Paul’s ministry to validate HER message instead of the other way around! They served a purpose directly opposed to the one intended for genuine gifts of the Spirit.

Charismatic gifts today are often used to “validate” someone else’s ministry or teaching – someone whose teachings are NOT those of the apostles. They use the Apostles’ writings and borrow their words, but they use them to give credibility to their OWN ministry. A demon did exactly that in Acts 16! So it stands to reason that a seducing spirit would use that same tactic today – not to confirm the apostles’ doctrine, but the doctrines of a modern-day messenger who teaches something much different.

-The Bible’s Description of Tongues-

I. The FORM of Tongues in Scripture: Whenever we see tongues mentioned in the bible, it ALWAYS takes the form of a structured foreign language – never “ecstatic gibberish.” One common and persistent peculiarity of many Charismatics is the teaching that tongues-speaking is “of men and angels” – even the language of Heaven itself! This idea is lifted from 1 Corinthians 13:1 where Paul writes, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels…” Even a casual reading of this passage demonstrates Paul’s use of hyperbole as a literary device. “Even if I could” rather than “because I can.” Looking at the verse further: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels and have not love…” Paul was not asserting that he could speak in the language of the angels any more than he was asserting that he had no love! 1 Cor 13:1 is no justification for claims that tongues can be “the language of the angels.” And even if it were so, how could an unbeliever interpret it (14:22)?

A) In Acts 2, many people from many places heard the gospel preached In their own dialects. Peter told the crowd that that event was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel (Joel 2:28ff), which makes absolutely no mention of tongues at all but speaks of prophecy, dreams, visions, and signs. Paul later wrote that tongues are “for a SIGN… to unbelievers (1 Cor 14:22).

B) In every event subsequent to the one in Acts 2 where tongues was present, “the Holy Spirit fell on them… “Just as He did on us at the beginning (Acts 11:15-17),” which must mean that tongues on those occasions were like the tongues in Acts 2 – a verifiable foreign language, a sign to unbelievers.

C) The Pentecost form of tongues is the same as for all later forms of tongues-speaking. Every reference in the bible to tongues speaking employs the same basic terminology, implying similarity of form.

D) The Corinthian episodes are defined in terms fully compatible with those in Acts. Paul writes, “no language is without meaning” (1 Cor 14:10). He compares tongues to worldly languages and asserts that all of them have coherent meaning. Tongues, biblically, is certainly not the incoherent babbling gibberish that I witnessed in my charismatic and Pentecostal churches.

 

II. The CONTENT of Tongues in Scripture: Tongues was a revelational gift – a vehicle of revelation from God to man. Tongues brought revelation from God as surely as the gift of prophecy brought revelation from God to the prophets and apostles of old. Thus, tongues must be understood in scripture to have brought inspired, inerrant, and authoritative communication from God to man:

A) The first occurrence of tongues is defined as prophetic by Peter (Acts 2:11-18).

B) Tongues are almost always related to other revelational gifts in scripture (Acts 2, 19, 1 Cor 13 and 14). In Acts 19 they “spoke with tongues and prophesied.” In 1 Corinthians tongues are dealt with at great length in association with prophecy. The difference was that prophecy was the ability to speak infallibly the will of God in one’s own language, while tongues was the ability to speak infallibly the will of God in a language one had never learned. In both cases it could interpreted by UNBELIVERS.

C) Tongues are specifically said to be a speaking of mysteries (1 Cor 14:2). When the word mystery is used in scripture it is always in terms of revelation. A mystery spoken becomes a revelation.

The content of tongues, then, is seen to be infallible, inerrant, inspired revelation of God’s mysteries to man. The tongues we see today among Charismatics and Pentecostals surely does not measure up to this lofty biblical standard. In fact in every service I ever attended in twenty years as a charismatic where tongues was used, it never took the form of a discernable foreign language, and its “interpretation” was never treated as an infallible revelation from God. It used to trouble me very deeply that a direct word from Heaven could be treated so lightly by the hearers – instead of writing it down and being careful to obey it and publish it, the people would nod and say, “Thanks, Lord, for that good word,” treating it more like a divine Hallmark card greeting from Heaven than a revelation from the Sovereign Master of the universe. The Almighty is not sitting on His throne blowing kisses to people on the earth – His word should be treated with the utmost care and held with extreme reverence – just as we claim to treat the bible. But tongues are not treated that way today.

III. The Purpose of Tongues in scripture: As I mentioned at the beginning, God is a God of order and design and when He acts, He does so with a purpose and plan. We see that parables had a specific purpose (Mark 4:11,12); that miracles have a particular purpose (Jn 20:30-31, Acts 2:43 and 4:16, Rom 15:17-19, 2 Cor 12:12), and likewise that the gift of tongues served a very specific purpose: They validated the Apostles’ message, and they were an anticipated sign of covenant curse upon unbelieving Israel.

A) Tongues were a sign to validate the message of the apostles (Mark 16:17), and Paul’s in particular (Acts 10:44-46, 19:6). ONLY the Apostles had the authority and ability to impart the gifts to others through the laying on of hands or prayer. None of the people they laid hands on could pass he Holy Spirit or the gifts on to others. There is not a single instance in scripture nor in subsequent church history to support the contention that anyone other than the Apostles could “impart” the Holy Spirit and His gifts. Those who received these sign-gifts at the hands of the Apostles were not able to pass them along to others. If they were, then it would not have been necessary to send Apostles to Samaria in order for them to receive the Holy Spirit (and other examples). The example of Ananias (Acts 9:10-19) is often used to attempt to refute that argument, but the text does not say that Saul spoke in tongues or prophesied. It says only that his eyesight was restored and he was baptized in water. We don’t hear any more about Saul until way up there in chapter 13, where the Apostles laid hands on him and Barnabus. The fact that Paul passed the charismata to others was one of the proofs that he was to be counted among the Apostles (Acts 19, 2 Cor 12:12, Eph 3:7ff). It was extremely important to establish Paul’s apostleship with “the signs of an Apostle (2 Cor 12:12),” because God’s inclusion of the Gentiles was such a radical departure from the old covenant. It was also important that Paul be counted as an Apostle because Paul wrote most of the New Testament. That is why many of his letters to the churches open with the phrase, “Paul, an apostle by the will of God…”

B) Tongues were a sign of covenant curse upon unbelieving Israel.Since this is probably the most neglected and most misunderstood purpose of tongues, it bears a lot more explaining, so be sure to examine these scriptures closely and in context: Paul explains this use of the sign in 1 Cor 14:21-22:

In the Law it is written, ‘by men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers will I speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,’ says the Lord. So then, tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign not to unbelievers, but to those who believe” (NASB).

Bear with a lengthy explanation now:

1) The Old Testament teaches that Israel was a special people to God. He was bound in a special covenantal love to Israel alone among the nations of the earth (Deut 7:6-8, Amos 3:2), thus only they received His law (Deut 4:10-13, Psalm 147:19-20), His oracles (Rom 3:2), the covenantal sign of circumcision (Rom 3:1) – indeed, all the promises and means of covenant life (Rom 9:4-5, Eph 2:12).

2) This covenant with Israel was a two-edged sword. Covenant life was one of both privilege and responsibility. Obedience brought both spiritual and material blessings, and disobedience brought spiritual and material curses (see Deut 28:1-68 which describes alternate covenant blessings and covenant curses).

3) Israel was a nation of people accustomed to signs (Matt 12:38, 1 Cor 1:20-22). Within the covenant contract they were given warning signs which would serve to indicate that the calamities which would befall them were indeed the judgments of God on them. One of the most often-seen signs was the loss of national freedom and self-rule (Deut 28:49). It is also referred to in similar context in Jer 5:15 and Isa 28:11. In scripture after scripture, foreign tongues was a sign of covenant curse on Israel.

Most often it was the language of the foreign occupiers of Israel, but at the dawn of the New Covenant it becomes especially poignant. All of this becomes relevant to the gift of tongues in the New Testament by the fact that Paul applies the sign of covenantal curse (Isa 28:11) to his explanation of the gift of tongues in 1 Cor 14:21-22. The fact that Paul lifted this scripture out of a passage dealing with covenantal curse is extremely significant! To grasp it’s impact you need to look at the reference Paul is quoting in his 1 Cor 14 discourse – Isa 28. In the very heart of God’s rebuke against Israel is the verse Paul quotes… the one that gives the sign of the curse (verse 11). Of course the Isaiah passage referred to the impending Assyrian invasion of Israel, but the Apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, applies it further to the future and climactic judgment upon Israel subsequent to their rejection of Christ.

4) Christ, the “Messenger of the Covenant,” (Mal 3:1) and “Ratifier of the New Covenant” (Luke 22:20), came to, lovingly courted, and taught Israel. Yet Israel refused His overtures (Matt 23:37, Acts 28:17-31, Rom 9:31-32 and 10:3). The generation to which Christ ministered was rapidly filling up the measure of the guilt of their forefathers (Matt 23:32). Jesus even went to far as to tell them that that single generation would bear the guilt of all righteous blood shed on earth – from Abel to Zecharaiah (verses 35 and 36). It is a judgment they themselves repeated at His trial: “His blood be upon us and our children! (Matthew 27:25)” Therefore, that generation (Matt 23:36 and 24:43) was to receive the fullness of God’s covenantal curse: God would send Roman armies (Luke 21:20) to raze the temple (Matt 24:2) which the Lord left desolate (Matt 23:38). Thus the sign of judgment (foreign tongues) was given to Israel for a period of 40 years between Christ’s ascension and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans in 70 AD. God was turning from Israel to the Gentiles (Matt 23:37-38; Rom 9:24-29 and 10:19-21)!

5) Tongues had a particular application with regard to Jewish unbelief in light of the New Covenant. In Acts 2 the Jews in particular were called to attention (verse 12), after which they were charged with having slain the Lord of Glory (v 22-24). The double-edged sword of covenant curse fell hard upon then, with the result that many were cut to the heart and repented (Acts 2:37) to follow Christ.

6) The Corinthian church itself is further glaring evidence that tongues was a sign of covenantal curse on Israel! Acts 18 records that Paul’s 18-month-lomg ministry at Corinth (verse 11) was characterized by extremely heated opposition from the Jews. While teaching at the Corinthian synagogue, Jewish opponents resisted the gospel to the point of blasphemy, causing Paul to call down a curse upon them (verse 6). Resistance to the gospel was so violent in Corinth that the Lord appeared to Paul in a vision, promising special protection from harm (verses 12 and 13). In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul makes reference in the opening verses to the Jews and their desire for signs (1 Cor 1:22). Paul’s citation of Isaiah 28 should be decisive proof. In chapter 10 Paul dealt at length with “our fathers” and their disobedience and judgment, and warned the Corinthians of the same predicament if they weren’t careful (10:1-12).

Tongues then, were “for a sign” – a sign to unbelieving, Christ-rejecting Israel – and in particular, the generation that had murdered Christ. Tongues was God’s prophesied and anticipated sign of covenantal curse.

IV. The transience of Tongues in Scripture: Because scripture demonstrates what the PURPOSE of tongues was – to validate the APOSTLES’ ministry and to serve as the covenantal sign to Israel, it necessarily follows that once those purposes were achieved, the sign would cease. Even those who believe in modern-day tongues speaking agree that the canon is complete – thus they cannot possibly use the gift today in the same sense that it was used throughout the New Testament – inerrant, infallible oracles of God to man.

Modern-day manifestations of charismatic gifts defy the biblical and historical form, content, and purpose described in scripture, and thus it is clear that today’s form of tongues is an unbiblical counterfeit.

 

Theology Thursday: When was Revelation Written?


One of the reasons that I call myself an “orthodox preterist” is my belief that John’s Revelation was written prior to the events of 70 A.D.

This position is at odds with the majority of today’s bible scholars who place the date closer to 90 A.D. This difference, of course, completely changes the way that the book of Revelation is interpreted, whether by preterists or by futurists.  In today’s post I hope to offer evidence of why I believe Revelation was written prior to 70 A.D.

We simply won’t know in this life which position is accurate, but I hope to describe how John’s book dates itself, and thus my position has a basis in Scripture itself rather than in speculative interpretations of archaeological findings, tradition, and theory.

Practically all sources for a post-70 AD dating of Revelation derive their opinions from Irenaeus (130-202 AD).  Irenaeus, perhaps in defense of his own eschatological position (historic premillennialism) in his book Against Heresies, states:

We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision.  For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.

It’s rather difficult to even figure out exactly what Irenaeus is saying in this rather obscure passage.  Is he talking about John or the Antichrist, that was seen in his day?  Also, who saw him?  The statement suggests third hand information on the part of Irenaeus.  Second, we also know Irenaeus is not accurate in dating other events.  In the same book he writes that Jesus’ ministry lasted 15 years and that He lived to be almost 50 years old!  (Against Heresies, 2.22.5).

One of the best ways of dating a book of the scriptures is to let the book date itself.  All orthodox Christians believe in the infallibility of the scriptures, so “let scripture interpret scripture:” 

Rev 17:9-10 seems to put us within 14 years of John’s vision, and it definitely puts it at a pre-70 AD date.  The passage states there are 7 kings, five have fallen, and one is.  In other words, the 6th king is currently ruling.  Verse 9 attaches these kings to seven mountains, which most everyone agrees is a reference to the city of Rome.  The ten Roman emperors from Julius Caesar are:

1. Julius Caesar (49-44 BC)

2. Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD)

3. Tiberius (14-37 AD)

4. Gaius (37-41 AD)

5. Claudius (41-54 AD)

6. Nero (54-68 AD)

7. Galba (68-69 AD)

8. Otho (69 AD)

9. Vitellius (69 AD)

10. Vespasian (69-79 AD)

 Interestingly, the passage also tells us the 7th king will continue “for a short time” (unlike the previous 6).  As the judgement of God and vindication of Christ drew near, Roman emperors didn’t last very long. Some ruled for less than a year before they were murdered.  But there is no possible way to equate the “6th king” of Revelation with Domitian, as Irenaeus does.

The next passage is Rev 11:1-2.  According to this passage, the temple was still standing at the time of the writing, yet it predicts a trodding of the holy city by the Gentiles for 42 months.  Note that the time from Rome’s declaration of war on Jerusalem until to the fall of Jerusalem was almost exactly 42 months.  This passage is strong evidence that Revelation was written at least 3 and a half years before 70 AD (still in the time of Nero).

The next passage to look at is Rev 13:18.  The number of “the beast” is 666.  The Hebrew spelling of Nero (Neron Kesar) has the numerical value of 666.  But even more interestingly, many ancient Latin manuscripts of Revelation have this number changed to 616, not 666.  Why?  Well, when you spell Nero Caesar in Latin, it has a numerical value of 616.  So apparently the early church knew who the beast was. But in a futurist eschatology of course, this wouldn’t fit.

Third, all the Jewish symbolism in Revelation is strong evidence that Judaism was still vibrant in the church when this book was written, and we know Judaism was extremely prevalent in the Christian community before 70 A.D.  After 70 A.D., Judaism and Jewish influence dwindled very rapidly.  Additionally, note that the entire theme of Revelation is one of imminent judgement and destruction.  70 A.D. most nearly fits with the “imminence language” of Revelation.  It is a stretch to make this language fit something thousands of years in the future.  Specific passages of Revelation almost exactly match wordings used in the historical writings of Josephus and other eye-witness accounts of the Roman conquest of Jerusalem.

Preterist eschatology is largely the basis for my own cessationist arguments against modern Charismatic manifestation gifts as well (to be published here in future editions of Theology Thursday), and in my opinion, a strictly futurist eschatology must allow for the continuation of the charismata until the Second Advent.

This is of course not to argue for a “full” preterist eschtology!  Full preterism is heresy! Christ’s Second Coming is yet future, as is the resurrection and judgment of the righteous and unrighteous alike.   But hopefully it offers a view of one basis upon which those of us who are orthodox preterist (Amillennial and Post-Millennial)make the case for our position.