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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Day at the Shepherd's Conference

Shepherd's Conference has changed a lot since I was in seminary and was required to attend. First there is the increase in keynote session speakers. When I was having to attend, it was only John. That's cool to have one of the most renowned preachers in the world speaking at your conference, but generally, he preached material that he had already preached to his congregation.

Next is the perks. The pastors who have been attending since I graduated get all sorts of great stuff, especially books. I never received any free books when I attended. It is quite the bummer just to think about it now.

Anyhow...

I don't get to attend like I use to. I usually have one day I take off from work to visit on campus. I spend my time catching up with some pastor friends I know from out of town or who I attended seminary with.

As a run down of my day on Friday:

I had a good visit with Bob Chandler who is a pastor and prison chaplain in Oklahoma. I met him through some prisoners I have been corresponding with. They wrote Grace to You years ago looking for materials to help with their Bible studies. I think I sent them some books and tapes and I started up a pen-pal relationship with a couple of them. They told me about Bob and how he regularly came to their facility to lead Bible studies. His studies were the only ones that were expositional and he proclaimed the doctrines of Calvinism, which all the guys who attended just loved. His teaching was a welcomed change from all the health-wealth, Church of Christ stuff they were getting. Bob and I spent a good portion of the day together, along with a couple of his friends who traveled with him. He caught me up on all my prisoner friends I have been writing off and on.

I met Steve Lamm, a regular reader of my blog. Steve pastors a small church called Grace Church in Santee, CA, down in the San Diego area. I spoke with him and his friends and had a great time talking about ministry and raising kids, particularly home schooling vs. public schooling. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with him and I hope to have more in the future.

I spent some time talking with Barry Horner. Barry has written Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must be Challenged, probably one of the most comprehensive critiques of replacement theology, or super-successionism, to be published in sometime. Replacement theology or super-successionism is the default Reformed eschatology which teaches that the Church has replaced Israel as God's people. Those who adhere to replacement theology are generally either amillennial or postmillennial and recoil at the description of their views as replacement theology. They like to consider their position as "fulfillment theology." However, the historical reality is that the hermeneutical principles of re-interpreting the OT with the NT, a heavy emphasis on typology, and the idea that the Church is now Israel, was a system developed after Augustine's allegorical theology he picked up from Origen. Barry contends, and I believe demonstrates rather conclusively, that much of the Antisemitism the Jews have suffered from the hands of Christians over the centuries stems from the heavy emphasis on a replacement theology hermeneutic advocated by Roman Catholicism and that was absorbed by the Reformers after their break from Rome.

I basically stood by Barry as he signed books and peppered him with questions. He was an absolute delight to speak with. I told Barry that my main complaint with his work was that it was not enough. I wanted more. He has in the plans a new website that will specifically emphasize exegetical works interacting with replacement hermeneutics. I hope to have a fuller review of his book at a later date, but those interested in reading a Reformed Baptist reaction to Barry's work can check out Sam Waldron's attempt to answer some of Barry's claims at the Mid Western Theological Studies Blog Also, Barry was interviewed by Chris Arnzen on his radio program out of the Long Island area.

I learned about a couple of more pastors having to resign because of their views on Calvinism. It seems like every year I hear a story about a pastor who was either removed from his pulpit or had to resign because he believed in Calvinism. I have yet to hear of a pastor who was staunch Arminian being ran out of town because of his freewill theism. Maybe they are, but I haven't heard of any. It's not like these guys are rushing head long into their first pastorate breathing Calvinistic fire wanting everyone to swear allegiance to the Canons of Dort. These are men who arrive at their first church eager to love the people and teach the Bible. As they teach verse by verse through scripture, they are faithful to what the text says, refusing to water down any mention of election or depravity and as a result, people get rankled.

This time, however, the men were not in trouble with their congregations. They had run up against the leadership of a domestic missionary sending agency that helps financially with pastors in rural areas where it is difficult for smaller churches to support a pastor full time. The agency basically told the pastors to stop preaching Calvinism (which they weren't) or they would withdraw financial support. One guy resigned his church and is looking for a new church. The second guy was so loved by his church, that they want to attempt to support him full time. I was actually encouraged by that story, from what appeared to be otherwise bad news.

The conference didn't necessarily have a theme
, but most of the keynote speakers spoke on the importance of pastors proclaiming the whole counsel of God when they preach and not mutating the gospel message or compromising the teaching of the Word to accommodate secular society and the feelings of the world. There were plenty of withering critiques of seeker-sensitive model churches and the emergent crowd. I have been reading on some favored blogs of mine comments from bloggers and their readers how MacArthur is becoming a grouchy old man with his criticisms. I believe they are missing John's point if they believe this about him. As a Calvinist myself, I believe God is sovereign in the salvation of His people. I don't have to have Saturday evening seeker services or change the Sunday morning worship time so it reflects a college retreat atmosphere in order to get people to come to church. This accommodation to the whims of worldly people, I believe, runs contrary to the fundamental belief in God's sovereignty to save, along with a denial in the simple sufficiency of the Bible. Phil hopes to interact with some of these criticisms of John in future posts at his blog.

Over all it was good time and the Lord willing I look forward to next years conference.

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15 Comments:

Blogger Kim said...

It's amazing how people will regard the wisdom and teaching of a wiser, older believer, i.e. MacArthur, as "grouchy" criticism. The toleration for criticism is really minimal these days. I got an e-mail the other day accusing me of "slandering" Beth Moore because I disagreed with her bible study methods.

10:41 AM, March 11, 2008  
Blogger Highland Host said...

But Reformed Covenant theologian David Brown and Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, both of whom were neither pre-mil nor dispensationalist (the two are not the same thing) both looked forward to a future restoration of the Jews to the land of Israel and the coming conversion of a large part of the nation (based on Romans 11). To say that these men held a theology that was inherently anti-semitic is absurd.
The question really boils down to how many peoples God has. Covenant theologians say one (the one olive tree of Romans 11), dispensationalists say two.

But modern dispensationalists like Dr. MacArthur (thankfully) admit that these two will be one finally (he says that the Bride of Christ is made up of both Jew and Gentile, 'Because the Time is Near' P. 320), thus admitting that finally there is only one People of God. We simply apply that principle to all of the Bible, that the covenant can be summed up (and see Revelation 21) in God's promise "I will be their God and they shall be my people."

I emphatically reject the label 'replacement theology', and humbly suggest that I and men like myself and David Brown, who see a future restoration for Israel, yet also see that we Gentiles have been graciously grafted into the one olive tree of God's people, ought to be charged with 'engrafting theology' instead. The Jews are broken off through unbelief (not for rejecting an earthly kingdom), and by faith in the Saviour and Messiah, they can be and will be joined back into the olive tree in which we stand by grace.

12:49 PM, March 11, 2008  
Blogger P.D. Nelson said...

What Highland Host said.

Which I am sure comes as no surprise to you Fred when it comes to my views on Eschatology.

8:27 PM, March 11, 2008  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Hey HH,
You stated:

But Reformed Covenant theologian David Brown and Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, both of whom were neither pre-mil nor dispensationalist (the two are not the same thing) both looked forward to a future restoration of the Jews to the land of Israel and the coming conversion of a large part of the nation (based on Romans 11). To say that these men held a theology that was inherently anti-semitic is absurd.

(Fred) I would say they are the exception, not the rule. Horner mentions them in his book as being such an exception. If you read Horner's research, he does a rather compellingly good job of showing that the hermeneutics of super-successionism, or replacement theology, has been the driving catalyst of Antisemitism throughout church history, starting all the way back to Augustine. Now, does that mean all Christian men who hold to the theology that the church has replaced Israel, or is the NT equivalent to Israel, automatically Antisemitic? No. And Horner does make that distinction. However, what he is arguing is that historically, it has been this theology of replacement that has been utilized to practice Antisemitic persecution. This is undeniable.

You go on,
The question really boils down to how many peoples God has. Covenant theologians say one (the one olive tree of Romans 11), dispensationalists say two.

(Fred) Well, I would say perhaps one particular branch of dispensationalism, and I don't think this is the prevailing point of view among serious minded dispensationalist. Maybe among those who are seriously muddled like John Hagee and his Christo-Zionists, but I would not say this about John, or the profs at Master's.

You conclude
I emphatically reject the label 'replacement theology', and humbly suggest that I and men like myself and David Brown, who see a future restoration for Israel, yet also see that we Gentiles have been graciously grafted into the one olive tree of God's people, ought to be charged with 'engrafting theology' instead. The Jews are broken off through unbelief (not for rejecting an earthly kingdom), and by faith in the Saviour and Messiah, they can be and will be joined back into the olive tree in which we stand by grace.

(Fred) Interestingly, you articulate Horner's position. His only addition, and one I would add as well, is that the Church does not equate OT Israel, and that God does have a future for Israel in which they will be restored to the land. As for the rejection of the label "replacement theology," I am unsure if you can get away with that and be honest with historical theology in general. It is not a false label given to Covenant Theology by mean-spirited Calvary Chapel dispensationalists. Even Reformed CTers utilized the term, like Lorraine Boettner. All that the label identifies is the theological view that believes the Christian Church has replaced Israel as God's chosen people. As far as I have always understood, this is garden variety covenant theology.

I would love for you to pick up the book and do a review. I am sure you would enjoy it much more than you did Mac's "Because the Time is Near." =-)

6:48 AM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Steve Lamm said...

Fred,

I began to attend Shepherd's Conference at the right time - when they started giving away great gifts!

Actually, I began attending after rejecting the seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven philosophy that was promoted by my association. I was a church-planter for a while and was sent to all the big seminars. Lot's of things bothered me which I don't need to go into here. I needed to hear John address these issues to regain my senses!

Anyway, I find it refreshing that John MacArthur has the backbone to proclaim the truth about a biblical methodology. naturally some will complain. The same thing happens to me whenever I disagree with Warren or Hybels among my purpose-driven pastor friends.

You know what really upsets these guys is that Grace Community Church is a huge church and has been for quite some time and Christ built that congregation on the foundation of sound expository preaching and good NT based ecclesiology! That rins contrary to all the modern notions of "contextualization."

It was great to meet you. Come on down to San Diego and spend a few days. Love to have you.

Blessings,
Steve

9:43 AM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Dr. Sam Waldron said...

Thanks for mentioning our blog. Let me say that I do reject the description of my views as replacement theology most heartily. You may see why in my about to be published book, MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response. One other comment. Augustine did not originate the idea that the Church Is Israel. You may find this idea stated emphatically and repeatedly by Justin Martyr, the Premillennialist, in the 2nd Century 200 years before Augustine.

The Lord Reigns,
Dr. Sam Waldron

2:56 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Hey Sam,
I look forward to the book on John.

Well actually, a lot of those guys got their stuff from Origen who originated a lot of the allegorical approach to scripture to begin with. Regardless of who originated what, the point of Horner's book is quite simply that Augustine, who is undeniably the most influential theologian for the next 1000 years was the one who popularized Replacement theology. Additionally, it was his theology that drove the persecution of the Jews by the church. That is Barry's point, and I believe it is a point that cannot be refuted. To do so would be to deny historical fact.

Fred

4:49 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Highland Host said...

If God has only one people, does it not follow that the Church in the Old Testament was identified with national Israel, and therefore that the Church today is that same people? If we seek the Church in the Old Testament, we find it in Israel. In the New Testament that same Church is enlarged to take in the gentiles who are grafted in. How anyone can call this 'replacement theology' I do not know.

As for the accusation that we employ Origen's allegorising approach to the Bible, that I deny for myself. But the Prophets use symbolism and imagery, a fact that no sensible person will deny. Now I might very well say that the Dispensationalist who says that Zechariah's Mytrle trees in the bottom represent Israel in a low state of allegorising (I refer to a sermon I once heard at a Brethren Assembly). But that would be silly, and it would get us no-where. The fact of the matter is that what we have here is a disagreement about how symbolic language is to be interpreted. One says that the symbol means this thing, another says it means that. For either side to accuse the other of allegorising in this context is to miss the point. For unless you really believe that at some point there will be (or was) visible in heaven a gigantic dragon and a woman with the moon under her feet (which would be silly), you lay yourself open to the same charge.

And actually I enjoyed MacArthur's book. I just didn't agree with it.

4:26 AM, March 13, 2008  
Blogger Highland Host said...

Fred. On the subject of dispensationalists, the ones know are NOT 'Seriously muddled'. They are old-fashioned Plymouth Brethren, of the sort that my grandmother was brought up among, and that her sister, my great-aunt, was joined to all her life.

2:34 AM, March 14, 2008  
Blogger Highland Host said...

Oh, and Calvin said
: "When the Gentiles have come in, the Jews will at the same time return from their defection to the obedience of faith. The salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be drawn from both, will thus be completed, and yet in such a way that the Jews, as the firstborn in the family of God, may obtain the first place." (commentary on Romans 11.26)

Calvin obviously wasn't a supporter of replacement theology!!! I think I'll stick with him rather than Boettner, Provan et al. Calvin thought that the Bible taught that the Jews would have 'the first place' in the one people of God. No replacement there!
Of course Calvin could be carelessly read as saying that 'the Church is Israel now'. That would be unfortunate. Actually what Calvin and those theologians such as myself who think he was right here are saying is 'Israel is the Church then'.

5:29 AM, March 14, 2008  
Blogger Dr. Sam Waldron said...

Let me respond to Highland Host and his comment abut Calvin. Believing in a future mass conversion of Jews does not relieve one of the burden of Anti-Semitism or Replacement Theology for Horner (5, 39-40). You have to believe in a distinct national and territorial future for ethnic Israel in the promised land. Calvin is everywhere cited as an example of replacement theology by Horner (Horner 6-7). You and Horner need to talk and figure out what qualifies and what does not qualify as replacement theology. By the way, I don't have time to check, but what he cites from Calvin on Romans 11 and what you cite are quite different. Could you please explain this?

The Lord Reigns,
Dr. Sam Waldron

9:59 AM, March 15, 2008  
Blogger Highland Host said...

I have e-mailed Horner, and I await his reply. I cite Calvin from the 1960 translation in the 1990s Eerdmans edition. Perhaps he's citing the Beveridge Calvin Translation Society edition, which was apparently not very good (which is why the CTS got John Owen of Thrussington to do a new translation).

I shall compare his citation with my books when I get his book.

10:12 AM, March 15, 2008  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Hey HH, (and Sam)
I want to respond to some of your comments, but I have a bunch of stuff on my personal plate at the moment. Give me a day or so, bro.

Fred

1:10 PM, March 15, 2008  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Sorry to have kept you hanging with a response. My wife is expecting our fourth child and we had to busy ourselves these last few days preparing the nest.

At any rate...

HH stated,

If God has only one people, does it not follow that the Church in the Old Testament was identified with national Israel, and therefore that the Church today is that same people?

(Fred) I would say only in the sense that there is one redeemed people in the plan of God, but I believe there is enough distinction between God's dealings with those people manifested in Israel and his dealings with those people now manifested in the Church.

Continuing...

If we seek the Church in the Old Testament, we find it in Israel. In the New Testament that same Church is enlarged to take in the gentiles who are grafted in. How anyone can call this 'replacement theology' I do not know.

(Fred) The NT church is certainly different in many respects. I particularly see that distinction demonstrated by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that was not active in the same way during the OT. Moreover, I believe there is a uniqueness to the New Covenant that was not experienced in the OT. For example, the emphasis upon the internal change of heart that was not as emphasized in the OT. I think the term replacement theology is appropriate if one suggests that all those promises, particularly the fulfillment of the land promises were absorbed by the church, that so now there is no longer a future hope of a redeemed Israel reigning out of the land. I thought Horner did a good job of developing this point.


Moving along...
As for the accusation that we employ Origen's allegorising approach to the Bible, that I deny for myself. But the Prophets use symbolism and imagery, a fact that no sensible person will deny.

(Fred) I would agree that a sensible person recognizes the use of allegory or types between the OT and NT. I certainly don't believe the ten headed dragon in Revelation is a real, Godzilla like monster ready to burn down the world. I also know dispensationalists are just as guilty of employing such nonsense as well. Hal Lindsey's poison spraying helicopters in Revelation 9 is a good example.

But, allegorism is another matter all together, especially the allegorizing of the OT promises made to Israel so that now they are not fulfilled in any future redeemed Jewish nation, but spiritualized to be applied to the church. This is where CT or amillennialists have been deficient in proving their case as to why spiritualizing of prophecy is a necessary hermeneutic to employ. Their handling of specific passages promising a future restoration of Israel in a literal land is just ridiculous in many senses. Preterists like Gary Demar and Hank Hanagraff are good examples of what I mean where they twist the reading of Matthew 24 on its head to get all of Christ's words and the book of Revelation fulfilled at 70 AD. It's just deplorable in my mind.

The fact of the matter is that what we have here is a disagreement about how symbolic language is to be interpreted. One says that the symbol means this thing, another says it means that. For either side to accuse the other of allegorising in this context is to miss the point. For unless you really believe that at some point there will be (or was) visible in heaven a gigantic dragon and a woman with the moon under her feet (which would be silly), you lay yourself open to the same charge.

(Fred) It is true we have a disagreement, but our example at hand is not particular images like the dragon of Revelation, but the spiritualizing of specific promises made to Israel as a particular people in the land that are turned into heavenly homes in a new heaven and new earth that are inherited by the Church. That is where Horner is disagreeing.

You point out.

Fred. On the subject of dispensationalists, the ones know are NOT 'Seriously muddled'. They are old-fashioned Plymouth Brethren, of the sort that my grandmother was brought up among, and that her sister, my great-aunt, was joined to all her life.

(Fred) That may be correct. My thinking is along the lines of classic American evangelical dispensationalists like those you find in your typical Calvary Chapels or along the lines of John Hagee and his crowd. Compared to the dispensational men who teach at Dallas or even Master's, Robert Thomas writing a massive two volume work on Revelation from a dispensational perspective, those individuals are certainly muddled when it comes to the explanation of their eschatology.

And as to Calvin, the various citations Horner points out in his book has Calvin saying that the term "Israel" is applied to all the people of God. He saw the restoration of the Jews as not being a distinct people with in the entire kingdom of God, but as being absorbed into the Church so that they complete the entire kingdom of God. There was not a specific future for national Israel as he relates in his commentaries in Romans and Hosea.

At any rate, I am sure you will have much more to say. I look forward to the response my friend.

Fred

7:42 PM, March 16, 2008  
Blogger Highland Host said...

And here is the unspoken assumption of Dispensationalism. You assume that the Church is a new thing, and not the 'one olive tree' of Romans 11. But this is to confuse matters. You assume that the Church is a basically Gentile body, and so that if Israel is said to be converted, it is 'absorbed', and Jews cease to be Jews.
This is to give in to the prejudice of unbelieving Jews, who insist that one cannot be both Jewish and Christian. Why not? If Christ is the fulfillment of the Law and the Messiah of Israel, then following him is the most Jewish thing you could do!
If by 'a specific future for Israel' you are referring to a Millennial Kingdom in which Jesus will reign as the Davidic King in Jerusalem, then BY DEFINITION only premillennialists can hold to such a thing. But on Iron Sharpens Iron, Horner spoke as if he simply meant that Jews will always be Jews (Moses, etc.). There may be some people who would disagree, but they would by the same token have to say that, after the resurrection, we will no longer be male and female.
In the present age (i.e. before the Second Coming), to distinguish the Church and National Israel is surely to commit a category error, since the Church is not a nation. if a majority of the people in France (say) were converted, would it follow that France had been swallowed up in the Church?
In fact, owing to the Jewish nature of the Church, and the "first place' (as Calvin puts it) of the Jews in the Church, it would be far more correct to say that the Gentiles have been swallowed up in the Church (which is only a translation of 'ecclesia', which is used in the Septuagint for the congregation of Israel) than to say that the Jews, whose Church it is, have been. How can Israel be absorbed into Israel? This makes no sense to me.

My reading of MacArthur in 'Because the Time is Near' is that in the end there will be one people of God. I agree. And I will go one further. That people is Israel, into which we Gentiles have been graciously engrafted.
As Paul says in Romans 11, at present we are in an anomalous situation, where a majority of the natural branches have been broken off, so that the Israel of God now presents a mainly (but never exclusively) Gentile appearance. The day is coming when the proper order of things will be restored.

1:52 AM, March 17, 2008  

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