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

Saturday, August 30, 2008

MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto - Rejoinder #2







Sam is a Dispensational Man


Continuing with some rejoinders to Sam Waldron's book, MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto - A Friendly Response.


Sam harangues John's dispensationalism through out his book. He even infers in the concluding chapters that John's adherence to dispensational theology brings him precariously close to the line separating heresy from orthodoxy. Sam devotes a five page chapter chiding John's description of himself as a "leaky" dispensationalist (19-23). The language is such that I get the impression Sam is annoyed he can't place John into his pre-fabricated box which reads on the side, "What dispensationalists believe." He even suggests John was being dishonest with his audience by separating his premillennial views from classical dispensationalism.

Anyone who is the least bit familiar with John's teaching ministry over the last 30 plus years knows he is one to shun theological labels. For instance he would affirm all 5 points of Calvinism. And I imagine if he were pressed, John would consider himself Calvinistic. However, he would still not embrace the label "Calvinist" to describe his views. The primary reason John has an aversion to labels is because theological labels can be confusing. They can imply more than what the person may affirm, or perhaps not enough. John's concern is to allow biblical terminology to define his convictions, not just a nondescript theological label. Where a theological label is biblical, John would affirm it. However, if that same theological label also encompasses ideas that fall outside of a biblical description, then those ideas must be rejected. This is certainly true for John's views of dispensationalism and hence the reason he often jokingly considers himself to be a "leaky" dispensationalist.

In his book, Sam cites some of John's concerns regarding dispensationalism he mentioned in his Shepherd's Conference message. They are legitimate concerns. Things like sensationalistic novelizations of the book of Revelation which read like science fiction, the idea God had a plan "A" with Jesus being the Messiah but His rejection by the Jews made God move to a plan "B" with the gentile church, the whole "carnal" Christian doctrine, and of course the antinomianism resulting in a "no-lordship" view of salvation." These areas of classic dispensationalism are certainly worth criticizing, and I would even say, reforming.

By the way, I find it a bit inconsistent those Reformed critics of dispensationalism who speak of how Christians should "always be reforming," implying there is always room for Christian Churches to grow in their knowledge of God's Word with the submission to biblical doctrine properly understood. But if dispensationalists advocate reform in their own system, like for example progressive dispensationalists, that is some how a bad thing that reveals confusion on the part of the dispensationalists. I digress...

Any how, is John presenting a dishonest perspective to his audience when he calls himself a "leaky" dispensationalism and distinguishes his premillennial perspective from these troubling doctrines found in classic dispensationalism as Sam implies?

Perhaps it would be helpful to consider a definition for dispensationalism and what better author could we find to start us off than Charles Ryrie who wrote a book called, of all things, Dispensationalism:
A dispensation is a distinguishable economy in the outworking of God's purposes... The phrase "the outworking of God's purposes" in the definition reminds us that the view point in distinguishing the dispensation is God's, not man's. The dispensations are economies instituted and brought to their purposeful conclusion by God. (28-29).
Dispensational author, Renald Showers, has an even more concise description in his book, There Really is a Difference: A Comparison of Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theololgy:
A particular way of God administering His rule over the world as he progressively works out his purpose for world history... the different dispensations are different ways of God administering His rule over the world. (30)
Thus, we see that a dispensation is an economy or way in which God works out His sovereign administration or rule over the world. I probably would add a more precise remark that it is specifically His sovereign rule over His redeemed people, or maybe God's sovereign rule over the world with His redeemed people as the focus.

How then can Sam object to such a basic definition? Surely he believes God works out His purposes in different ways as He reveals those purposes over time? In fact, I will be so bold as to say that Sam does adhere to dispensationalism in this simplistic form. The plainest example is the dispensations of the Old Testament and the New Testament. God obviously administered His sovereign rule differently in the OT than He does now after the NT. The OT had God revealing Himself specifically to a theocratic nation named Israel. The NT has God revealing Christ to the entire world that includes gentiles along with the Jews. Moreover, Sam is a Reformed Baptist. He understands the sign of the New Covenant to be a confessional believer immersed in water, rather than an infant being circumcised, or sprinkled if you are a Presbyterian. These examples are clearly differing ways God has worked out His purposes over time.

But, I am sure there are readers saying out loud as they read this that dispensationalism entails much more as a system than this simplistic definition. Keith Mathison states as such in his book when he writes, Dispensationalism must be defined in terms of its unique essence, namely that which distinguishes it from other systems of theology (Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?, pgs. 3-4). I certainly agree, but I believe that Sam overstates these distinctions as he comments on his objections to John's premillennial message. He wants to paint John as being dishonest when he calls himself a "leaky" dispensationalist, when in reality John is merely defining his position along those lines he believes are biblical, but happen to be definitive of dispensational thought.

John provides an extended definition of his dispensationalism in the 2nd appendix of his book Faith Works (219-233), as he interacts with many dispensational writers who deny lordship salvation. He writes,
Dispensationalism is a system of biblical interpretation that sees a distinction between God's program for Israel and his dealings with the Church. It's really as simple as that. (FW, 219)
The "unique essence" that John points to that makes him "dispensational" is God's program for Israel and his dealings with the Church. It is that distinction which makes him a "leaky" dispensationalist. For Sam, or anyone for that matter, who thinks such a distinction makes John dishonest or brings his position to the point of bursting the boundaries of orthodoxy, is merely exaggerating his disagreement with him.

For Sam, and the many folks who object to John's definition, their objection centers around how John and dispensationalists in general make a distinction between Israel and the Christian Church. I will be exploring those objections in the future, but suffice it to say, non-dispensationalists see such a distinction between Israel and the Church as separating God's redeemed people.

But honestly, is John's distinction between Israel and the Church so novel a doctrine that it falls outside the pale of orthodoxy? All biblical doctrine will have those advocates who adhere to an imbalance of that doctrine. Advocates for padeo-communion is a good example within non-dispensationalist camps, as is preteristic ideology. Just because there are dispensationalists who have an imbalanced perspective between Israel and the Church that they do promote two different ways of salvation for OT Jews and NT Christians does not make John's position biblically unwarranted. In my opinion, Sam is being a bit dishonest himself by categorizing John's dispensational distinctive with those who may error. His position needs to be dealt with as John has defined it, not as it is perceived by a non-dispensational critic.

Now, Sam does deal with the Israel/Church distinctive in his book, so it will be that subject I hope to take up next.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

No-Frills Airlines

Just when you thought having to pay 25 dollars for an extra bag was bad enough...

We laugh, because it is close to being true.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

FBT Podcasts

I began last week updating my long neglected podcast. Lot's of folks have been asking me about it for sometime, and now, after a couple of technical hiccups, I should be updating it with three or so podcasts twice a week. Many of them are already MP3s available for download on Fred's Bible Talk.

I began with a series on Christian Spirituality that addresses such topics as baptism of the Spirit and the filling of the Spirit, what the "flesh" means, and even determining God's will, which I think was already podcasted a few months ago, even though they are messages part of this Spirituality series and not stand along messages. The Lord willing, I will be adding MP3s I haven't posted on the internet, so there should be some fresh stuff coming soon, as well.

I have had folks clamoring for the podcast version for some time now, so click the feed link on the side bar, or go to Fred's Bible Talk, to add your podcast feed to your Itunes or favored player.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Prager in Denver

The Democrat National Convention will be held in Denver this week. I have been in many discussions with individuals who insist that political ideology is neutral, but it is my contention that a person's political convictions reflects his or her worldview values.

To get a flavor of what I mean, I encourage readers to catch some of Dennis Prager's radio program this week. He will be doing his talk show from Denver, as will a lot of national talk shows; however, what I appreciate about Dennis is the time he spends pulling aside the regular Democrat folks attending from their small towns and interviewing them as to why they are Democrats as opposed to Republicans or some third party. Dennis did this in 2004, and without fail, with maybe an exception or two, the first answer everyone gave as to why they adhere to the Democrat platform is because they despise evangelical Christians. I see "evangelical Christians" as code word for something much deeper: A hatred for God. That is not to say Republicans and other conservative third party supporters don't share the same dislike of God, but it is startling to hear it come from the mouth of these people as the "first" reason why they are Democrats.

You can listen live via the Internet HERE. Prager broadcasts from 9 AM to 12 Pm Pacific Coast Time, which means if you live in the central time zone, that is 11 AM to 2 PM, or the eastern time zone, 12 PM to 3 PM. (Just in case you forgot the world is round and don't know how to figure out that time zone thing). If you live outside the U.S. of by God A., then you are on your own to figure out time differences and all.

Or podcast the individual episodes later in the day located HERE.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto - Rejoinder #1

Replacement Theology

For a bit of background, see my introductory review of Sam Waldron's book, MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto - A Friendly Response.

Replacement theology, or what is also termed supersessionism, is the view that the Christian Church has replaced, or transcends, the nation of Israel in God's redemptive purposes so that the Church has become Abraham's spiritual seed and fulfills the covenant promises God made to Israel. A better, extended definition can be located here.

Sam doesn't care for the label "replacement theology." He makes this patently clear in the first chapter of his book (5-7). He considers the label "replacement theology" to be a pejorative leveled by those who dissent from his view of amillennialism. Sam would much rather think of his theology as being a continuation of Old Israel in the New Israel, the Church (7). In a manner of speaking, his view of Old Israel/New Israel is like the caterpillar becoming a butterfly. The butterfly doesn't exactly replace the caterpillar, but is rather a new phase of existence for the caterpillar.

I find his objection to the label "replacement theology" to be odd, seeing that the term describes his theology and is a legitimate, historical description of his position. Many theologians in Sam's camp have employed the term to describe their theology. In fact, Sam mentions Marten Woudstra, Bruce K. Waltke, and Hans K. LaRondelle as examples and says he is "open to the idea" there are some of his contemporary ilk who speak in terms of the Church "replacing" Israel (31-33). But his insistence, none the less, that the term "replacement theology" is a pejorative and results in a hermeneutically insensitive view that the Church has simply and willy-nilly replaced Israel in God's promise (6) is not a compelling reason to reject the term in my mind. In a way, I am reminded of how Norman Geisler, who objected to the historical doctrines of Calvinism yet wanted to cling to a few Calvinistic tenets, created an entirely new word, calminian, in order to define his views of salvation.

In all fairness, however, Sam doesn't create new words and concepts empty of any historical meaning. He attempts to qualify his position in terms of fulfillment theology or continuation theology. Yet, no matter what term a person will choose to utilize so as to define his theology, if you teach that the Christian Church fulfills, continues, transcends, reforms, reconstitutes, absorbs, or whatever, the promises God made to Israel to establish the nation in their land in an eschatological kingdom that will reign over the entire earth, and the Christian Church is understood to have fulfilled all those prophecies and is now the "New Israel," you are still saying the Church replaces Israel. All of the qualifications you make to your terminology doesn't change this detail.

Now, probably one of the key reasons Sam reacts so adamantly against his theology being label "replacement theology" is because he wishes to separate himself from the shameful legacy of anti-Semitism in Church History due in part to replacement theology. One of the shadows to darken Christ's Church has been the severe mistreatment of the Jewish people for the last 1800 years in the name of Christianity, and a lot of the persecution was fueled by the idea the Church had replaced Israel as God's people. Sam tries to minimalize the connection between anti-Semitism and replacement theology, but the facts of history documented by both secular and Christian historians won't allow for such a disconnection.

H. Wayne House writes in his article, "The Church's Appropriation of Israel's Blessings" found in Israel: The Land and The People, that the concept of the church taking Israel's place in the prophecies of the Old Testament, is largely found only after certain events took place in the early church. Namely, (1) after the Jewish people ceased to be the primary source from which the theology of the NT sprang. (This is particularly true after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.); (2) after those who had learned from the apostles had died and new problems faced the largely Gentile church, such as having to deal with the confusion between orthodox Jewish Christians and heretical Jewish-Christian sects; (3) after several non-Jewish Christian authors began to adopt the anti-Semitism of their pagan counterparts. (This began to happen after the Bar-Kokhba defeat in 135 A.D. when Christians and Greek communities were massacred by the Jewish followers of Simon bar-Kokhba); and (4) after the hermeneutics found in the NT was replaced by Greek allegorism. (Israel: The Land and The People, p. 79, also, 86, 87).

As the Christian Church grew and became more prominent through the centuries, this theological anti-Semitism festered. It was seen in the polemical sermons of many early church fathers like John Chrysostom and his Homilies Against the Jews and the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 decreeing that all Jews were to wear a distinguishing mark on their clothing. The anti-Semitism even took the form of art in the iconic image of Ecclesia and Synagaga in stained glass windows and statues. H. Wayne House explains,
At the entrance of some cathedrals in Europe, one may observe female statues that are the personifications of Ecclesia (the Church) and Synagoga (The Synagogue). One notices that Ecclesia wears a crown, holding her head in a triumphant pose. On the other hand, Synagoga -- her head bowed, having lost her crown, holding a broken staff, and wearing a blindfold -- stands defeated and rejected. These personifications symbolize the consensus of the church from the middle of the second century A.D. to the present day, with few exceptions. (House, "The Church's Appropriation of Israel's Blessings" in Israel: The Land and the People, p. 77)
I would imagine some may argue that much of this anti-Semitism was perpetrated by the Roman Catholic Church-state, but even the Reformers are guilty of anti-Semitic ideas, because a lot of replacement theology was kept intact as they brought over the amillennial eschatology of the Roman Catholic Church to their Protestant theology. It is easy to see why they did this because the Reformer's hero Augustine, who in my opinion had the correct views regarding salvation, the fundamental debating point between Roman Catholics and Protestant Reformers, was also the developer of amillennialism as the eschatology of replacement theology. Laying aside Augustine's amillennialism until a later post, suffice it to say, though Luther and Calvin and other Reformers returned the Christian church back to the correct understanding of salvation, their reform of eschatological theology was not on the immediate agenda. Hence, the anti-Semitic mindset lingered in the background.

There have been many reformed theologians who followed in the years after the Reformation who have written some rather harsh words against the Jews. Loraine Boettner is one who comes immediately to mind. I have personally benefited greatly from his book, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, but when he defends postmillennialism in another of his books, The Millennium, his cruel words against Israel make him sound like a Protocols of the Elders of Zion conspiracy nut. He all but says the Jews had the Holocaust coming to them (See his The Millennium, pgs. 314, 315, 319, and 321).

Now, lest anyone thinks I am calling Sam and other Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians anti-Semitic Nazis because they adhere to amillennialism or postmillennialism as derivatives of replacement theology, I am most certainly not. I respect many of these brothers, and if a knife fight broke out with some emergents, I would trust these Reformed guys to have my back. My contention is primarily with historical clarity.

Additionally, many readers may think this historical survey is irrelevant. I need to deal with the text of scripture, for that is where the debate truly exists. I concur, and the bulk of my future rejoinders to Sam will interact with exegetical and biblical considerations. But let's face it: Theology matters. The amillennial eschatology has historically been understood as replacement theology. There is no way getting around this point. Moreover, the history that has resulted from the theology of replacement/supersessionism/New Israel = the Church, has had some disasterous consequences over the centuries and these cannot be diminished just because one is unliking of the terminology.

I would certainly welcome readers to research these facts themselves. Sam mentions two important works tracing the history of replacement theology, Ronald E. Diprose's book, Israel and the Church, as well as Michael Vlach's dissertation, The Church as a Replacement of Israel: An Analysis of Supersessionism, copies being obtained from the author at his personal website. I would also recommend Michael's internet articles on the subject. One additional work is Barry Horner's Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must be Challenged.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Locals

One of my long time volunteers at Grace to You, as well as long time Grace Church member, Louie Cantelmo, came close to a major home invasion last week by a group of thugs posing as DWP workers. It is only by the grace of God that Louie had ugly knick-knacks that the thieves left his home untouched.

Louie was on local LA television telling his story.

I thought I would share.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Readings from Paul Johnson #5

Historian, Paul Johnson, quickly became one of my favorite writers as I read through his gigantic work, The Birth of the Modern. I have heard so many good things over the years about his biographical book, Intellectuals, I decided to pick it up and add it to my already bulging reading list.

The Adulation of Rousseau

In a number of ways the State Rousseau planned for Corsica anticipated the one the Pol Pot regime actually tried to create in Cambodia, and this is not entirely surprising since the Paris-educated leaders of the regime had all absorbed Rousseau's ideas. Of course, Rousseau sincerely believed that such a State would be contented since the people would have been trained to like it. He did not use the word 'brainwash', but he wrote: 'Those who control a people's opinions control its actions.' Such control is established by treating citizens, from infancy, as children of the State, trained to 'consider themselves only in their relationship to the Body of the State.' ...


The educational process was thus the key to the success of the cultural engineering needed to make the State acceptable and successful; the axis of Rousseau's ideas was the citizen as child and the State as parent, and he insisted the governments should have complete charge of the upbringing of all children. Hence -- and this is the true revolution Rousseau's ideas brought about -- he moved the political process to the very centre of human existence by making the legislator, who is also a pedagogue, into the new Messiah, capable of solving all human problems by creating New Men. ...


Rousseau's reputation during his lifetime, and his influence after his death, raise disturbing questions about human gullibility, and indeed about the human propensity to reject evidence it does not wish to admit. The acceptability of what Rousseau wrote depended in great part on his strident claim to be not merely virtuous but the most virtuous man of his time. Why did not this claim collapse in ridicule and ignominy when his weaknesses and vices became not merely public knowledge but the subject of international debate? After all the people who assailed him were not strangers or political opponents but former friends and associates who had gone out of their way to assist him. Their charges were serious and the collective indictment devastating. Hume, who had once though him 'gentle, modest, affectionate, disinterested and exquisitely sensitive', decided, from more extensive experience, that he was 'a monster who saw himself as the only important being in the universe.' To Volitare, 'a monster of vanity and vileness'.
Saddest of all are the judgments passed on him by kindhearted women who helped him, like Madame d'Epinay, and her harmless husband ...

One modern academic lists Rousseau's shortcomings as follows: he was a 'masochist, exhibitionist, neurasthenic, hypochondriac, onanist, latent homosexual afflicted by the typical urge for repeated displacements, incapable of normal parental affection, incipient paranoiac, narcissistic introvert rendered unsocial by his illness, filled with guilt feelings, pathologically timid, a kleptomaniac, infantilist, irritable and miserly.'


Such accusations, and extensive display of the evidence on which they are based, made very little difference to the regard in which Rousseau and his works were, and are, held by those for whom he has an intellectual and emotional attraction. During his life, no matter how many friendships he destroyed, he never found any difficulty in forming new ones and recruiting fresh admirers, disciples and grandees to provide him with houses, dinners and the incense he craved. When he died he was buried on the Ile des Peupliers on the lake at Ermononville and this rapidly became a place of secular pilgrimage for men and women from all over Europe, like the shrine of a saint in the Middle Ages. Descriptions of the antics of these
devotes make hilarious reading: 'I dropped to my knees... pressed my lips to the cold stone of the monument... and kissed it repeatedly.' Relics, such as his tobacco pouch and jar, were carefully preserved at 'the Sanctuary' as it was known.

One recalls Erasmus and John Colet visiting the great shrine of St. Thomas a Becket at Canterbury in 1512 and sneering at the excesses of the pilgrims. What would they have found to say of 'Saint Rousseau' (As George Sand was reverently to call him), three hundred years after the Reformation had supposedly ended that sort of thing? The plaudits continued long after the ashes were transfered to the Pantheon. To Kant he had 'a sensibility of soul of unequalled perfection'. To Shelly he was 'a sublime genius'. For Schiller he was 'a Christlike soul for whom only Heaven's angels are fit company'. John Stuart Mill and George Eliot, Hugo and Flaubert, paid deep homage. Tolstoy said that Rousseau and the Gospel had been 'the two great and healthy influences of my life.' One of the most influential intellectuals of our own times, Claude Levi-Strauss, in his principal work, Tristes Tropiques, hails him as 'our master and our brother... every page of this book could have been dedicated to him, had it not been unworthy of his great memory'.

It is all very baffling and suggests that intellectuals are as unreasonable, illogical and superstitious as anyone else. [Intellectuals, pg. 25, 26, 27]

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

When Fish Go Bad

We're back from our excursion down to the San Diego area. We had a lovely visit to Lego hell... I mean LegoLand, and Sea World. I will try to have some pictures and a few words up later this week.

In the meantime, just when I got back from Sea World, I stumbled upon this frightening item:

19 Terrifying Incidents Involving Fish

The first one mentioned puts catfishing into a whole new light.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What's Cooking at the Olympics?

Hey Grandpa Chan! What's For Supper!?

Oh, I'm cooking up some wonderful things for an Olympic sized appetite:
























































































Ummmm, Ummmmm, Goooood!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On Alleged Bigfoot Bodies

Being a distant - way distance - Bigfoot supporter, I must confess I got goosebumps for a moment when I read this:

Bigfoot Body: "Georgia Gorilla" will shock the world

I guess the story is these good ole' boys in Georgia (the American state, by the way) find this Bigfoot body and will display it at a press conference in Palo Alto, CA, this Friday, the 15th. Why not Savannah?

Anyhow, here is what is alleged to be released:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2008

BIGFOOT BODY FOUND
DNA evidence and photo evidence to be presented at a
PRESS CONFERENCE to be held on
Date: Friday, August 15, 2008
Time: From 12Noon-1:00pm
Place: Cabana Hotel-Palo Alto (A Crown Plaza Resort) 4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, California 94306

Well, like they say in Missouri, the evidentialist state, "Show Me."

There were some photos leaked - but in all honesty, I think it looks like a big rug. That's just me.

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MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto - A Friendly Response

...And a boot to the head.

As early as January 2007 I heard whisperings from a variety of friends that John MacArthur was going to "shake things up a bit" at the Shepherd's Conference that year. He was planning, I was told, to address eschatology in the opening, key note message. I thought, "Oh, that will be an interesting subject."

Little did I realize what an understated and prophetic thought that was.

The first day of the 2007 Shepherd's Conference arrived and I took a seat up in the sound/lighting booth so I could see John speak "live" rather than on a video feed in one of the many overflow rooms. The title of John's message was "Why Every Respecting Calvinist Should be a Premillennialist." [Transcripts of an expanded, 6-part series on this message can be located here under the category of "eschatology"].

His thesis basically argued that any Calvinist who affirmed the doctrine of unconditional election should include in that affirmation God's unconditional promises of election He gave to Israel in the OT. The main feature of those promises is the promise to establish Israel in a kingdom radiating from Jerusalem with Israel's messiah reigning over all the nations of the world. This kingdom is specifically described in Revelation 20 as lasting for 1,000 years, and because this kingdom will be established upon the return of the Lord Jesus Christ as described in Revelation 19, those who believe in a physical, messianic kingdom lasting a 1,000 years are called premillennialists.

As he moved through his talk developing this thesis, John was critical of the theological systems of amillennialism and postmillennialism, because even though the adherents of those two systems are generally Calvinistic, they interpret the promises of a future, physical kingdom for Israel figuratively. In other words, amillennialists for example, believe there will be no future, physical kingdom centered in Israel with Jesus reigning over the entire earth as Israel's messiah for 1,000 years, but rather understand the millennial kingdom as being Christ reigning in His kingdom presently today over and through His church.

John's challenge was simple: A person who takes seriously the promise of God to fulfill His decrees of election in salvation, will also take seriously God's promise to establish Israel in their land in a real, physical kingdom encompassing physical territory. Calvinists believe in unconditional election and eternal security for individual salvation, they should also believe the same concerning God's decrees and promises with Israel.

Within hours after John gave his keynote address, bloggers attending the conference had hit the internet posting diatribes decrying John with some of the most profoundly ridiculous articles I had ever read, even bordering on the hysterical.

Bloggers claimed John was outright mocking his guests who would disagree with him. Others suggested John doesn't know what he is talking about, that he should had never spoke on the subject because he is incompetent to address it. On one of my email discussion groups, a fellow leveled an insulting remark about John succumbing to age, whereas another predicted the demise of the Shepherd Conference because the other good men who were keynote speakers will never come back after such an unnecessary and mean-spirited attack. Still others dismissed John out-of-hand saying he has never been a relevant teacher of God's Word because of his eschatological views and he should be ignored. Overall, the stuff people were saying in reaction to this one message was staggering, and a lot of it was from folks who didn't even attend!

In the weeks that followed the Shepherd's Conference, a handful of bloggers wrote up post series addressing various aspects of eschatology, with many of them attempting to answer John's points. However, Reformed Baptist, Sam Waldron, did more than just write a series of blog posts addressing John. He has published a full on book called MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto - A Friendly Response.

In this book, Sam lays out his case against John, explaining why he is woefully mistaken regarding his charge that amillennialists, in particular, are inconsistent Calvinists for believing there will be no future kingdom for Israel. Sam defends the amillennial view of Israel, explaining why he believes the Bible teaches the Christian Church fulfills all those land promises to Israel, and has become the "New Israel" consisting of spiritual Jews who are Abraham's spiritual seed by faith in Christ. He also has an extensive section highlighting the hermeneutics between John's premillennial position and his amillennial position.

There is much to be commended with this work:

1) First off, I appreciate the title. This is a "friendly response" declares Sam. Being around John's ministry for as long as I have, I have seen countless self-published critical books over the years that speak of John's heresy on this or that issue. So I was glad to see Sam's book wasn't called MacArthur's Millennial Madness, or something along those lines.

2) The book is mercifully short and easy to read. Sam spared us from a gigantic tome of 700 plus pages detailing every nuance of eschatology outlined in scrutinizing detail. Though I personally would like to read a 700 page tome scrutinizing every fine detail of eschatology, in this instance, it was unnecessary.

3) The book is a well-done basic primer for Amillennial eschatology. More than just providing a response to John, Sam lays out his amillennial convictions, providing his biblical reasons for believing what he believes and why he thinks John is wrong.

For example, Sam provides a concise study of the Covenant Theology view of Israel and how the NT church has fulfilled the OT promises to Israel to become the "New Israel." In response to John, he considers two of the key passages he claims presents his view, Romans 9:6 and Galatians 6:16, and even does an extended study on Ephesians 2:11-22 to demonstrate how this passage even strengthens his position.

The highlight of the book is Sam outlining the hermeneutics to his system. I say it is a highlight because I believe the crux of the disagreement between Sam's amillennialism and John's premillennialism, and how both understand the place of Israel in God's purpose, comes down to the application of hermeneutics, or the principles one employs to interpret scripture. In the case between amillennialism and premillennialism, it is how each system interprets prophetic scripture specifically. Sam spends a good portion of his book explaining the importance to these different approaches.

Yet, in spite of these commendable points with Sam's book, the overarching direction the book takes turns it into a "not so friendly response."

A patronizing tone resonates throughout the pages. It is as if I could hear the author saying, "I just love John and I know he's had a wonderful preaching ministry for more than 30 years, but bless his heart..." Within a few chapters, it went from being whiny to becoming galling. The arguments John puts forth in his premillennial manifesto are painted as being ignorant (2) outrageous (10), half-kidding (9), burning strawmen (39), self-serving (36), dishonest (21), unteachable (39), goofy (103), schismatic (127), and bordering on heresy (129). After finishing the book, a person is left with the impression that John would have an otherwise good ministry if he wouldn't handicap himself by embracing that wacky dispensational premillennialism.

A few of his criticisms are also problematic. For example, Sam spends 6 chapters laying out his case as to why the "New Israel" is just another name for the Church. In his introductory chapter on the subject, Sam quotes from John's "manifesto" where John mentions how the word "Israel" is used over 2,000 times in scripture and around 73 times in NT (68 times if you take Sam's quibble, fn. 2, p. 37), and in each instance the word "Israel means Israel," an ethnic group of people. Sam likens John's assertion to Arminian-like logic that says every reference to all in the scripture must always mean all people without exception (36). This is a majority rule hermeneutic that doesn't play out, according to Sam. He then goes on with an attempt to dismantle John's claim by examining two key passages that supposedly uses the word "Israel" as a synonym for the NT Church, Galatians 6:16 and Romans 9:6.

I hope to address these passages in more detail in future posts, but I believe Sam's argument only works if one presupposes the system of Covenant Theology. For instance, in his discussion of Romans 9:6, Sam affirms John's position that the Israel mentioned by Paul in this verse is a distinct ethnic group apart from the gentiles. Sam writes, "It is not Paul's main point here to prove that Gentiles are now included in God's Israel ... Paul's main point is not that Gentile Christians are part of God's Israel, but rather that there is a remnant among ethnic Israelites in which God's promise is fulfilled" (51). In other words, the word "Israel" means "Israel," just like John said. But he goes on, "Yet, this is not quite the same as proving that the inclusion of Gentile Christians in God's Israel is not implied." (ibid, emphasis mine). Implications like these are generally driven by theological systems, not exegetical considerations. In Sam's case, principles of continuity derived from Covenant Theology. Thus, with this approach, an expanded meaning can be poured onto the definition of the word which stretches it beyond what the text allows.

Sam also chides how John points out the historical uniqueness of the Jews. In his chapter, Must Israelites be Jews?, Sam takes a bit of an issue with John stressing how the Jews have had an unbroken ethnic heritage for nearly 4,000 years. He then makes the argument that Jewish ethnicity, though something of an essential ingredient in the Christian Church (I guess like fulfilling those Messianic prophecies) was not necessary for being a citizen of Israel. He then plays down the ethnic uniqueness of the Jews for the last 4,000 years. Later, in the first appendix addressing the Jews in Romans 11, he concludes his comments by writing, "Romans 11 does not teach a great, future revival among the Jews. It does, however, contain two points of prophetic interest regarding ethnic Israel. First, it teaches a remnant of Jews will be saved in every generation. Second, it assumes by this the Jews will continue to exist as a distinct, ethnic entity until Jesus return" (140). So, is Jewish ethnicity important or not important? Is it just a curious factoid of history that they are the one people group that has maintained both its ethnic and religious heritage?

However, the most problematic aspect of Sam's book comes at the end. In his concluding chapters, Sam writes about going to the Together for the Gospel conference and how even there John made some remarks about election and premillennialism. As an aside, Sam states the first T4G conference took place in 2007 (121), but the first one took place in 2006. Perhaps it is a typo, but I mention it only because he comments in a following chapter how John didn't shelve his views on eschatology (124). I mention this only to note that John hadn't addressed the subject of Calvinism and premillennialism before the first T4G. That address was in the spring of 2007.

At any rate, in Sam's opinion, John is being divisive. Here is a substantial gathering of men all affirming and united around the Reformed understanding of salvation, yet John is willing to compromise such unity for the sake of an unnecessary controversial subject. Is eschatology really so important that a person would be willing to create schism among God's people when unity around the essentials of the Gospel message is so imperative? Compounding this divisiveness is the fact John is not just covenant premillennial, but dispensational premillennial. If John held to the first position, he would be alright, but because he is dispensational with his premillennialism, John's injection of this issue amongst a bunch of Reformed folks is indefensible. How dare he claim to be dispensational and attempt to equate Calvinism with premillennialism.

In a way, I read Sam as saying that John shouldn't even be numbered among these other T4G guys. Especially if he has the audacity to claim to be Calvinistic and then adhere to dispensationalism in any form. But to make sure as not to go too far, he writes, "Now, let me hasten to reaffirm what I have just implied above. I am not saying that Dispensationalism is heresy. I do believe, however, that it raises very basic issues with regard to the true nature of Christianity and the Gospel" (127). Maybe it is just me, but any doctrine that "raises very basic issues with regard to the true nature of Christianity and the Gospel" is heretical. This is like Paul writing to the Galatians, "I am not saying that the Judaizers are heretical. I do believe, however that they raise very basic issues with regard to the true nature of Christianity and the Gospel." What on earth? So I ask, is dispensationalism heretical or not? Is John heretical for holding to dispensationalism no matter how "leaky" it may be? If the system isn't, and John isn't, what was the point of writing this book? Unless it was to grouse about some message given by a popular radio preacher you happen to disagree with.

Now, with this surface level review in place, I would like to return to many of the theological subjects Sam raises in his book and expand upon them for future articles so as to flesh out my perspective on these subjects, as well as provide a rejoinder to his amillennial assertions. I can say now that I do not speak in any official capacity for John or any of his ministries. I am confident he can respond on his own, and in fact, I understand a response may be forth coming at some point. My purpose will be to formulate my views by interacting with what was written against John.

Sam has become of a champion of sorts for the restless, young Calvinists, the vast majority of whom are refugees from dispensational premillennial oriented churches. Their testimony is perhaps similar to mine. They first discover the Bible teaches the Doctrines of Grace and embraced them with eagerness. Those doctrines revolutionized their thinking about God, Christ, man, and how one handles the Bible. Yet, in the zeal of discovering these timeless biblical truths, their personal reformation didn't end with salvation, but continued with the abandonment of previous eschatological views they came to consider erroneous. In some cases, even their ecclesiology was "reformed" when they abandoned believer's baptism for infant baptism.

I am for theological reform along all areas of doctrine; but I am not of the opinion I have to become either amillennial or postmillennial in my eschatology, or even adapt amillennial hermeneutics when it comes to the interpretation and application of prophetic literature, in order to be "completely reformed." I think R.K. McGregor-Wright stated it well when he wrote,

It's important that we as Protestants who take sola Scriptura seriously, not treat patterns of doctrine, especially the reformed tradition of theology that we have learned so much from, as a "package deal." In fact, “reformed theology” as we find it in the literature, is no such thing. Reformed theology is a particular tradition of understanding emanating from the Reformation, not an exclusive system of divine truth that cannot itself be altered. No theology has the same status as Scripture, and no confession of faith has the same finality as the Word of God written. All theologies are the results of human effort, and they partake of the failures and partial successes of the men and women who have contributed to them down through the years. They are traditions, not additional revelations. Reformed theology is itself reformable today for the same reason catholic theology was reformable in the sixteenth century. The controlling principle of sola Scriptura still applies, Calvin or no Calvin. (The Premillennial Second Coming: A brief defense, pg. 1, unpublished paper).
I agree with him and will proceed with my study with that mindset.


The other posts in this study can be located HERE.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Gleanings in Job #17

...continuing in my devotional series on Job

God is Just and Fair (34-35)


Elihu, the youngest of Job's friends, was probably more of an acquaintance with Job than a friend. But, his words were directing Job back to a true understanding of who God is. Job was growing bitter in light of his trial. Such a response can be understandable.

Suffering in severe trial can be difficult. Imagine a loss of several family members at once. Or perhaps suffering with severe pain for months on end, with no pain medication providing relief. Worse still, imagine watching a loved one suffering with severe pain for months on end, especially a child. Under such circumstances, when no relief from a trial comes, or is even seen on the horizon, it is easy to become jaded, cynical, and stirring up thoughts of God being unfair to you. Even when you believe you have maintained a sweet countenance, or responded well with godliness, and still, no relief comes. Bitterness can begin to grow deep and endanger choking out your thoughts of who the Lord is.

Elihu recognized such bitterness growing in Job's mind and so he attempts to draw his thinking back to the Lord. His argument, which is recorded in chapters 32-37, hits on three broad areas of theology:

I. God does hear and has spoken

II. God is just and acts fairly

III. God is sovereign and acts wisely

I considered the first point in the last entry on this study, now I come to the second.

II. God is just and acts fairly

Elihu begins his next point in chapter 34 with equating Job to the scoffer. Quoting Job, Elihu points out his scorn toward the Lord: "For Job has said, 'I am righteous, but God has taken away my justice; Should I lie concerning my right? My wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.'"

Elihu is being sarcastic, but his point is excellent: Job is claiming God is being unfair to him. Job is righteous, that is, innocent of any wrong doing, any sin against the Lord, yet God refuses Job a day in His court to allow Job the opportunity to testify and thus vindicate himself.

But Job is being like the scornful man, argues Elihu. He is like the person who says, "It profits a man nothing that he should delight in God." (34:9). The mindset that says "If God is real, he probably doesn't really care for you, you're wasting your time." In a way, it is an attitude that says God is a liar, in spite of God's promises to bless those who serve Him.

This scornful attitude makes Job to be like wicked men and only turns men away from God, because no reason is provided to delight in God. It means God is only worthy of worship if God gives you what you want and only passes out good things to those who serve Him.

In response to Job's attitude, Elihu reminds Him of three truths of God's justice:

1) God gives men what they deserve (10-15). Despite what many people in our world believe God will do or not do, one thing is for certain, God will judge men according to their works and will give them what they deserve. We see in Revelation 20:11-15, for instance, that those who are apart from Christ will be judged by what they have done.

Elihu tells Job an eternal truth about God. Not only will he judge all men, but that judgment will be fair and with out partiality. Verse 10 says God will not judge wickedly, meaning with partiality, as if He can be bribed. Verse 12 even affirms this when Elihu tells Job God will never pervert justice. Additionally, God repays man according to his works. In other words, God will take into consideration man's works, and if they deserve death and wrath, those people will certainly receive such a reaction.

There are reasons for God giving man what he deserves:

- God's Character demands it. As noted above, God will not pervert justice. He is holy and will only judge according to His holiness, which is always good.

- God is the absolute standard of justice. Elihu asks Job who gave God charge over the earth? The obvious answer, no one. God is the ultimate standard of justice because He alone is the sovereign creator to whom man answers. He is the one who sustains and takes away life (14, 15). He retains His own authority, and because of that, God can hold men accountable for their works either bad or good on account of the absolute standard of justice that reflects God's moral character.

2) God must be just to govern the world (16-20). Elihu further asks Job as to what he would prefer: a just God who does what is right, or one who hates justice? If a king or judge acts unjustly, Job would certainly complain against that king or judge. Yet Job knows God is just and Job complains against Him as if he were not (17). But, as Elihu reminds Job, even God is not partial toward any king or prince. They too will experience equal judgment before God just like everyone else. In fact, they will die just like everyone else. If the Lord did not treat even the most regal of men with impartiality, according to their deeds, God could not govern the world. He would have no true authority and no character by which to hold men accountable.

3) God is omniscient (21-30). The key reason God can hold men accountable to their works and give men what they deserve fairly, is the fact God is omniscient: He knows all things. God's justice is based upon His knowledge. God has full, perfect knowledge of all things, thus his just dealings with men will be full, complete, and perfect.

Elihu expresses God's omniscience by speaking of how His eyes are on the ways of men considering their steps. There is nowhere any person can go to flee from God, for he is everywhere and knows all things.

This should be a comforting doctrine for God's people, particularly those who suffer like Job. For if God knows all things,

- God doesn't have to gather evidence (24, 25). He already knows what evidence is relevant.

- God doesn't have to investigate crimes (26). He knows the complaint of the innocent against the wicked who would torment them (28).

- God will punish the wicked who deserve it (26-28). No person can get away with a crime against another, for God knows all things and will repay when it is time, and because God knows all things, it doesn't matter how much time passes between the committal of the crime and the final judgment, God doesn't forget.

The remainder of chapter 34, on into chapter 35 is Elihu calling Job to repentance in his thinking against God. Job is thinking unwisely, and this mindset is bringing Job closer to being considered a blasphemer and scoffer, and that is a description Job should not want tagged to his name.

Oh that God's people would also stir up the proper attitude about God's justice. No one ever deserves anything from God. He owes us nothing, but we, His creatures who are sustained daily by Him, owe Him everything. Shame on us if we think God is acting in evil toward us because we suffer earthly trials. We should be thankful of God's grace He has imparted to all undeserving men.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Apocalyptic Visionary or End-time Sensationalist?

OK, let me say up front I hesitate to post this because it may give people the impression that I am easily led into hysterical end-time dating setting.

This is hardly the case.

But, I happen to be entertained by conspiracy theories of all varieties, and if the presentation has a religious twist with lots of sensational end-time speculation, that's even better! And seeing I plan to start addressing eschatology in general here soon, I thought this was apropos.

So with that disclaimer in mind,

A friend recently sent me an email asking my opinion about a video presentation by a Messianic Jewish pastor up in Washington state by the name of Mark Biltz. He runs an outfit called, El Shaddai Ministries.

Here's the video: Linking Eclipses to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Essentially, in a nut shell, pastor Mark has done a study linking solar and lunar eclipses to what could be possibly the second coming of Jesus. (Are the goose bumps honking yet?)

Working from Genesis 1:14ff., where God establishes the sun, moon, and stars to be for signs, seasons, years, and days, and calculating in how the yearly Jewish festival calendar is built around the monthly lunar/solar cycles, Biltz takes the prophetic expressions about the sun going black and the moon turning to blood (Joel 2:31, etc.) to speak to the cosmological signs of solar and lunar eclipses.

He then talks about how there is a cosmological phenomenon of 4 total lunar eclipses in a row. The next time this happens, according to the NASA website dedicated to tracking the eclipse cycle, is in the years 2014 and 2015. There will be two total eclipses of the moon in 2014, one during the spring on passover, the next in the fall on, Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. Then a total solar eclipse happens between the next set of lunar eclipses, which again fall upon the spring Passover and the fall Sukkot in 2015.

The last time this phenomenon happened was during the 6-Day War in 1967, at least according to Biltz understanding of the NASA website. Where I sort of got lost following his calculations is with him tying these two eclipse occurrences together with the Jews recapturing Jerusalem in 1967 and the 48 years or so that passes until 2015. Suffice it to say, if he is on to something, so he says during his presentation, then moving back 7 years from 2015 is 2008, which could mean the tribulation will start in the fall of 2008!

DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNN!!!!!

Now is your goosebumps really honking?

Biltz claims he is not dating setting, and in fact has attempted to clarify any misunderstandings of his information to suggest he is setting dates.

The video is two 25-minute presentations he gave that are edited together, so it is about 50 minutes of time to watch what he has to present. There are also a couple of pages containing his notes and charts outlining his information. See here and here.

A few personal thoughts:

First, I appreciate his exhortation to watchfulness. I think Reformed minded Christians like myself have failed in cultivating an attitude of watching for the return of our glorious Lord. Much of it has to do, I am sure, with a reaction against the ridiculous sci-fi style eschatology that reads eschatology into current events or is played out in fantasy novels. Also, Reformed folks tend to busy themselves reforming culture and churches that they are dismissive of watching and waiting for the second coming. We need to be on the alert that we are not becoming overly unbalanced in reaction to bad eschatology that we forget the importance of eschatology.

Second, I happen to think there is something to the sun, moon, and stars being used of God to demonstrate specific cosmological signs pointing to specific eschatological events. I am not of the opinion that the prophetic expression "the sun turns to darkness and moon turns to blood" is merely a figurative motif speaking of God's sudden and disastrous change by His moving in judgment. I can first recall reading this perspective in Curtis Crenshaw and Grover Gunn's anti-dispensational screed, Dispensationalism Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow, and though the idiom may only be figurative in some prophetic contexts, I still believe the illustration is attached to genuine cosmological signs.

Third, I also think Christ fulfilled the spring feasts of Passover, First Fruits, and Pentecost with His first coming, and He will fulfill the fall feasts of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles with His second coming.

Fourth, I believe Biltz's tying the eclipses of 2015 to the 1967 6-day war is problematic. I believe there could be a debate as to whether the State of Israel possessed all the land, or all of Jerusalem at that time.

Fifth, I am curious as to where these total eclipses will be noticeable. Are they suppose to be total in Israel? Does it matter if they are only seen in their totality, say in India, or North America? How does that impact Biltz's conclusions?

Now, I personally would like to read the comments of anyone willing to leave one. I particularly would like to read the opinions of Reformed amillennialists and postmillennialists. I know you guys are out there. I understand Biltz's material is easy to be dismissed as the off the wall views of a crack-pot, but I would like to read a meaningful interaction with what he presents from your particular eschatological perspective. If of course you are so inclined.

If you don't get around to it by October, then I guess it will be otherwise meaningless.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Arab In-door Shooting Range

I would imagine this is in the basement of some oil sheik's palace.



I know it is easy for us to pick fun at a bunch of Arab guys shooting guns, but I use to see this sort of stuff all the time growing up in Arkansas. This video could have easily been taken down at the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield MO with Dilbert, Raynell, and Clovis, instead Omar, Mohammad, and Ibraham.


HT: J. Moorhead

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Monday, August 04, 2008

FBT Updates

I have moved a few more articles I posted here at my blog to a more permanent location at my other website, Fred's Bible Talk.

I posted 6 articles outlining the basics of apologetics and evangelism, 1 article addressing KJV-onlyism called "Slaves or Servants?," and 4 articles addressing our assurance of eternal security.

Read them all here.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

The Gallery of Infamous Arkansans

A Hip and Thigh Classic

A friend sent me this sad article from way down yonder on Skunk Hollow Rd., outside of Conway, AR. (Or what we say, "Skunk Holler Rd.")

Arkansas Man Dies Tampering With Electric Meter After Service Shut-off.

Apparently a fellow named Lonnie didn't pay his electric bill and in order to make sure he wouldn't miss his baseball game this weekend, had an inspiration of genius to run electricity to his house via battery cables. I am reckoning he had the cables hooked up to his truck. Unfortunately, this spark of brilliance mis-fired and he was electrocuted in the process.

Not to glory in what really is a tragic story, but I was reminded of one of my first year blogging articles I posted highlighting some of the more illuminating lights from Arkansas.

For my newer readers, as well as my older, I present,

The Gallery of Infamous Arkansans.

I hail from Arkansas, the north western most southern state in the Confederacy. The Battle of Pea Ridge was fought there. Most Arkansans are simple folk. They like to duck hunt, deer hunt, turkey hunt, fish, watch NASCAR, drink at kegger parties, listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd, go to passion plays, attend revival meetings, watch Razorback football, and make fun of people from Mississippi. They are not ones to seek out the public spot light or pursue fifteen minutes of fame, particularly with some activity that will only bring cruel mockery, throat burning booing, and the total humiliation of his or her kinfolk.

Occasionally, however, and against the real possibility of life crippling scorn, some notorious individual will bring the fine state of Arkansas to the attention of the American public in an embarrassing way. This last week, Arkansas resident, Shawn Cox, made national headlines when he attempted to jump the White House fence. His reasons for doing so are a mystery, perhaps God or the devil told him to kidnap the president, we don't know. Still, he is one of Arkansas's sons. My friend Gregg noticed an interesting connection.

Of course, my first reaction is to recall if I know him from my past. Did I go to school with him? Did he once attend my church? Mr. Cox's illegal entry onto the grounds of the White House got me thinking about other notable Arkansans that now are a permanent fixture in the Gallery of Infamous Arkansans. Let me remind you all of some:


In 1988, Edgar Whisnant, an Arkansas native from down around Little Rock somewhere, placed entire congregations of lukewarm and backslidden Christians on DEFCON 4 alert when he published his sensational booklet, 88 Reason Why the Rapture Will Happen in 1988. I personally never read the booklet, but I do remember that it caused no small stir among my college freshman Christian friends.

Pastor Whisnant predicted the timing of the rapture as happening between Sept. 11 and 13, the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. I can remember one poor gal who was on edge the entire week. She was a nominal church kid who had attended youth group because her parents made her. Jonesboro, the town where I went to college, is a major rail road hub, so everytime a freight train came through and sounded its horns at intersections, this gal would jump out of her skin believing it was the trumpet of Gabriel calling the saints to glory. She of course was not sailing upwards upon the sound of the "trumpet" and toiled the entire Rosh Hashanah holiday doubting her salvation. That was probably a good thing looking back upon her now.

Anyways, apart from a handful of young Christian couples who pushed their wedding dates up before September so they could experience marital bliss before they had to go to heaven, the week of the 11th - 13th passed quietly into history and nothing happened. Pastor Whisnant proclaimed he miscalculated his dates and quickly published, 89 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Take Place in 1989. By the time he went to print with that booklet, his credibility had pretty much been raptured away.


Back in the late 90's, a young gal named Julia Hill climbed a redwood tree condemned to be cut down by a logging company. She built a crude, makeshift platform, called herself "butterfly," and aided by her enviro-moonbat friends who brought her food and emptied her toilet bucket, Julia "Butterfly" sat in the tree for over a year. She became an instant celebrity among the pantheist earth lovers and a side-show curiosity for everyone else rational.

I first heard her interviewed on KFI's John and Ken show (back when J&K were actually fun to listen to). She spoke with this sing-songy tone in her voice and told how she had bonded with the tree she named Luna. Her and Luna were considered one now. She was protecting Luna from execution and Luna in turn protected her from the elements.

When I went home for Christmas that year, I was enjoying a small party with some friends when one of my buddies asked me, "Hey, did you hear about Dale Hill?"

Dale Hill was the father of a family that attended my church when I was in college. He had a lot of odd ball views about the Bible, but was generally liked by everyone. I remember his son Mike being a California surfer wannabe who always wore shorts, a tee shirt, and rode a skateboard all year around, even if it was 20 degrees with freezing rain.

Anyhow, I responded to my friend by saying, "No. What's up with Dale?"

My buddy replied, "Well, he is moving out to California, because his daughter is living up in a tree."

I was stupified.

I asked, "Is his daughter named Julia?"

"Oh yeah," replied my friend, "Have you heard about her living in the tree?"

I couldn't believe it. Little Julia Hill is the Julia Butterfly nutball living in a tree? Once when my church college group took a Summer end waterskiing trip, she tagged along with her brother Mike. One afternoon, some guy friends and I were standing at the hotel door of some girls we were waiting on to join us for dinner. I remember her screaming at us when she accidentally walked out of the bath room in her underwear.

I told my friend about hearing her frequently interviewed on the talk show circuit in LA and how she is considered a kook. He told me this sad tale of how Dale divorced her mother (who was sort of a dingbat to begin with), the mother and Mike the son moved out of state, and he and Julia moved to Little Rock to start up a bar. They both got mixed up with a group of new ager folks and she moved out to Northern California to be an environmental activist. The rest is history.


Well, Bill Clinton pretty much speaks for himself. There is not much I could add that you the reader are not aware of. The interesting thing about Bill, however, is that I have met him on a couple of occasions when he was governor of Arkansas. My cousin Shay talked him into stopping by my high school to meet the students once when he was in my town. All the teachers hated him at the time because he was pushing the teacher testing standards. However, he was a larger than life celebrity and I had him sign my hacky sack. I later met him again at Arkansas Boy State. This was a week long summer camp thing that taught young minds about how government and politics work. Bill spoke there and I met him again. He even remembered me, along with many other guys he had met in the past. He and his staffers cooked up chicken for us at the week's end. He makes a mean grilled chicken.

During the summer of 88, Clinton gave a speech at the Democrat National Convention. He made national headlines for giving an hour plus long speech. It was so bad, that he was invited onto Johnny Carson's Tonight show, where he won people's hearts by playing the sax.

The day after the speech, I was working my job at the soft ball park concessions stand and everyone was talking about how Clinton made Arkansas look bad. Our boss came in and said, "Ah, give Billy a break, he's a good ole boy. I party with him a lot down at the strip bars in Little Rock."

We were all stunned. "Strip bars? Our governor doesn't go to strip bars. You have him confused with his brother or someone else."

My boss was adamant. "Oh yes he does, I know him and he loves strippers and he's a big drinker, too. He's a man who loves to party."

None of us believed his tales of partying with Bill Clinton at strip bars.

Looking back, now I do.

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