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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Mohler Revolution

If this is what a UN-NGO controlled, satanic change agent has in mind about transforming the world into a one world government, well... I'm all for it.

The Mohler Era

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What will the KJV Onlyists do?

Back when I started surfing the web, one of the "beaches" where I would "catch a wave" as it were, was Yahoo's Geocities. I quickly discovered that the free webhosting site was the dumping ground for every self-appointed crank Bible defender, and his little brother, to launch a hack "apologetic" shop.

Geocities was a special favorite for KJV-only apologists to set up their hideous website with the seizure inducing flash animation like of an "AV1611" Bible extinguishing the flames of a dart throwing devil, or a guy running from a mob of modern Bible translations into the loving arms of an anamorphic "KJV" Bible. On those websites, the KJV-only apologists warned of the evils of Christian rock music and provided their "666" Newsletters. It was also where they posted their articles filled to the brim with poor reasoning, historical revisionism, and conspiratorial theorizing.

Now, after many years, Geocities is shutting down. A message on the homepage announces no new websites will be issued and current users will be given more details later this summer as to when the immenient doom will take place. This may take a toll on my blog, because one of my main KJV-only aggitators is hosted by Geocities and a lot of my responses addressing KJV-onlyism often links back to his articles which will suddenly go dead.

Then again, that may be a good thing, because when Geocities goes down, it will be like one big toliet bowl flush of error from the Internet. But, all those homeless Geocities "apologist" will all become refugees with nowhere to go.

Well... I guess there is always Angelfire.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When the World is more Godly than the Church

Hot on the heels of the Driscoll Sex Challenge, comes this story out of Melbourne, Florida:


The "third installment" mind you.

Like many churches across our land, New Hope Church, where these sermons have been given, meets in a local elementary school. The local elementary school has a "Risk Management Department" (The "RMD - can we scream "Orwellian" any louder?) who are not pleased with the literature this church has produced in order to advertise the series. Most troubling for the RMD is the title for the series, "Great Sex for You!, accompanied with a picture of a pair of intertwined naked legs peeking out from the bottom of a sheet. They also have a snazzy flash animated website that goes by the same name.

A RMD spokesman stated they believe the literature is inappropriate for elementary age students, and they find the material obnoxious and in poor taste. I couldn't agree with them more, and rarely, if ever, do I agree with bureaucratic public school administrators.

Two things are in play here.

Yes, the RMD people are more than likely effeminate, if not for the most part women, who hand wring over whether or not 6 year old Billy should be listed as a sexual predator after he kissed the cheek of his 6 year old class mate, Bethany. I understand those absurd and extreme over reactions could be at work.

Yet on the other hand, if you watch the brief video of the pastor preaching, the information he provides isn't even close to being as graphic as Mark Driscoll's material. In fact, the stuff he was describing I have heard taught at my Church in appropriate contexts, and any one who knows anything about my Church, knows where we would stand on scandalous language in the pulpit. Now, the pastor might have gone on to describe human anatomy in graphic detail, but I didn't hear any of that.

What seems to be the main objection of our RMD robots is the literature used to advertise the series, and here is where I agree with them. I completely agree sex is a beautiful thing God gives to mankind, but why is there a need to produce provocative and tantalizing advertising that borders on the type of stuff a person may see in Vanity Fair magazine just to say so? Are naked feet, bare shoulders, and clothes strewn across the floor a necessary image for a Church to show people? How exactly is it "being relevant" and in "good taste?"

I am all for local churches addressing sex. I would even say this is one area in our society many churches have failed in providing a biblical perspective to frame a Christian worldview in the hearts of the people, particularly their young people. But there is a propriety in how a Church goes about instilling a biblical perspective on sex. That is why older men are to teach younger men, and older women to teach younger women (See Titus 2). But when robotic administrative bureaucrats from the local school, and remember, they tend to be more left of center in their values, are concerned a Church is acting irreverent with their programs, we may want to re-evaluate our testimony before the watching world.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

The Most Annoying Video in the World

I'm sick with consumption or swine flu, so I am taking a break for a few days. I can work on some of my longer posts I want to get up on-line.

In the meantime, I present for your viewing pleasure,

The Sashimi Tabernacle Choir


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Friday, April 24, 2009

D' Oh!






















































































































MY BEER!!!














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The Cessation of Spiritual Gifts

Dan's post from yesterday reminded me of a post I wrote way back nearly 4 years ago when I first started blogging in which I addressed spiritual gifts and the debate between those who are called continuationists and cessationists. I present it for a newer reading audience, slightly modified from its original publication.

Continuationist Christians maintain that spiritual gifts like prophecy and speaking in tongues, and signs and wonders like miraculous healing, have continued to be active with God's people uninterrupted since the day of Pentecost and are present today in Christ's Church. There are a small handful of theological "big guns" recognized as "sound" believers - totally outside extreme charismatic denominations where abuse of these spiritual gifts are rampant - like John Piper and Wayne Grudem who hold to continuationalism.

On the other side of the aisle are cessationist Christians who believe spiritual gifts like tongues and prophecy, and miraculous signs and wonders, were simply foundational for the New Testament Church as God's redemptive purposes transitioned from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. They had a unique and special function for the era immediately following the day of Pentecost. Once that transition was completed (during the close of the apostolic age near the end of the 1st century) the gifts ceased to function. I personally fall into the cessationist camp.

I don't claim to be an expert in the whole continuationist-cessationist disagreement, nor do I believe I can add anything particularly new to the discussion. I thought, however, that I would offer my proverbial two cents.

I especially wish to answer the one major assertion by those in the continuationist camp I have heard oft repeated. That being, "Show me one Bible verse that teaches cessationism."

I have heard this question a lot, but I would merely point out the similarity of this rebuttal with that of the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Oneness Pentecostals who argue the Bible does not teach the Trinity. One of their key lines of argumentation is to say, "There isn't one Bible verse that mentions the word Trinity." Yet, the biblical revelation of the Triune Godhead doesn't stand or fall on the absence of the elusive one Bible verse, but is testified to a proper exegetical understanding of the whole of scripture.

I would say the same thing about cessationism. What does the whole of scripture reveal about the purpose and work of spiritual gifts? Does the Bible genuinely say these fantastic signs and wonders type gifts will be normative for the entire age of the New Testament? When one considers the biblical data on gifts within the whole of God's revelation a person can easily conclude gifts like tongues and prophecy had a unique place in the Church and once they served their purpose, they were no longer needed and ceased operations.

Before moving on, it may be helpful to clear up the biggest misunderstanding about cessationism. I believe it is wrongly assumed by cessationist opponents that cessationism is saying God will not work supernaturally. That God can't or won't do miracles. This is not what the cessationist is saying. As a cessationist, of course I believe God can still do miracles today. That is not the issue. Rather it is the question of does He regularly use gifted men and women with a special anointing from the Holy Spirit to perform such signs? I believe God does not, because such individuals are no longer necessary. Why are they no longer necessary? In my opinion, because we have the complete revelation of God contained in the Scriptures of the OT and NT. Those gifted people only served to provide the New Covenant revelation that would be our NT document and confirm the message of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. Once all the revelation was complete and the message confirmed those gifts had served their purpose and ceased.

Now, not only will the whole of scripture correctly interpreted conclude these revelatory-confirmatory gifts ceased, I also believe there is one specific passage that teaches us these gifts will cease: 1 Cor. 13:8-10. I have corresponded with many pro-gift, continuationist Christians over the years, so let me share an edited summary of my accumulated correspondence on this subject as to why I believe 1 Cor. 13:8-10 teaches cessationism.

The main point hinges on how we are to understand the word perfect in 1 Corinthians 13:10. I understand the perfect as the completed canon, and I do so for a couple of reason. First, teleion is better rendered the completed, rather than the perfect. During the time of the apostles, the divine revelation of prophecy and knowledge would still be in transmission. God was still in the process of giving revelation to the Church through the apostles and the prophets. However, I believe Paul had in mind that a new covenant document, just like the OT, would be provided by the Lord. Thus, the completed revelation of God's New Covenant revelation would eventually come to the Christians. Furthermore, the illustrations Paul uses in 1 Cor. 13:11-13 are analogous to this idea of partial revelation in comparison to completed revelation. Paul uses three major illustration:

(1) A child replaced by an adult (13:11)
This is a rather simple, yet clear illustration all people can understand. All children will grow into adulthood. In fact, if one does not grow into adulthood, either because of physical disability, or perhaps practical maturity, we understand that to be a grievous situation. Becoming an adult mentally, emotionally, as well as physically, completes the process of human development.

(2) the hazy replaced by the clear (13:12) I understand the phrase "face to face" not to refer to seeing Jesus in his full glory, as many in the continuationist camp, as well as the cessastionist camp believe, but I see it as an analogy of a person being able to see a clear reflection, as opposed to a hazy reflection.

Rarely, if ever, is the word
teleion used to speak of flawless perfection. John, James, and Paul use the word consistently to speak of complete maturity. When Paul writes that the Corinthians see, at the moment, in a glass darkly, what does he mean? I think it is simple. In fact, the NASB does a much better job of translating the phrase: Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Paul is picturing a mirror that does not give a clear image. The point Paul is making is that revelatory knowledge at that time was like seeing in a dirty mirror, or perhaps a warped mirror. It only produces a distorted, barely recognizable image. In like manner the revelatory knowledge at that time was not complete, or we can say it was unclear, or only partial.

However, there will come a time, Paul explains, when we all will be able to see face to face. In other words, the image in the mirror will be as clear as seeing someone face to face. Though I understand the eschatological interpretation of this phrase is the most popular, i.e., the idea of seeing Jesus face to face in the eternal state, the immediate context of 1 Cor. 13 does not validate that interpretation.

(3) Imprecise knowing replaced by precise knowing (13:12)
. Expanding on the picture of a hazy reflection, the idea of seeing is often used in scripture as mental perception. A hindrance to vision would mean a hindrance to knowledge. An interesting cross reference to this notion of vision equating knowledge is found in 2 Cor. 3:14-4:6. There, Paul speaks of knowledge being the illumination the Holy Spirit brings in the hearts of men. Where do we have contained for us the complete and full knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and its ability to transform lives? Where we can truly see, as it were, face to face now? I believe in the completed NT canon.

The whole point of Paul's words in 13:8-12 is to inform us that these gifts had a specific purpose for a stated period of time. Eventually, they will come to an end because something would replace them. I think tongues ended at the destruction of Jerusalem, and prophecy and knowledge at the finishing of the NT canon.

For those interested in further study on cessationism, I addressed spiritual gifts in a series of lectures I once gave on Genuine Christian Spirituality. They are available for the downloading or the podcasting.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Biblical Earth Day Resources

My oldest boy told me rather confidently yesterday afternoon that, "Tomorrow is Earth Day." I glanced at my wife, who shrugged her shoulders.

"Really?" I said, wondering to myself what crack pot New Ager told my son this bit of trivia, "How exactly did you know tomorrow is Earth Day?"

"Oh, it says so on the calendar. What's an earth?" Then we took a few moments to tell our son its not a holiday, we don't celebrate it, and the people who do need Jesus.

That got me thinking. Earth Day represents one of the major cultural worldviews Christians have to engage these days during their daily lives. In fact, some have to confront it at their own churches. In my opinion, environmentalism is one of the most diabolical worldviews we have to engage, because the true ruination of environmentalism is felt in poor, third world countries where environmental advocates who have a romantic fixation with "peasant life" insist these poor countries not develop their infrastructure like electricity and water because it will "destroy the pristine environment." So instead of building a much needed hydro-electric dam, or even a nuclear reactor to bring third world countries into the first world, they are left to toil in the dark, dependent upon worthless solar panels and burning cow manure for fuel.

Though I am a conservationist and believe Christians should be good stewards of the world God has created, it was meant to be exploited and used by mankind, not turned into a shrine for worship. So with that in mind, I thought I would provide some quick resources to help arm Christians as to a proper, biblical response to Earth Day.

A brief article by John MacArthur: Do we have a responsibility to care for the environment?

A longer message John gave specifically addressing environmentalism and the global warming hoax. The End of the Universe, Part 2

Before his death, Michael Crichton became one of the most outspoken critics of global warming and man-made climate change. He devoted a number of speeches on the subject that are outstanding. He was not a Christian as far as I know, but his notoriety as a popular novelist and Hollywood player gave his message a platform lesser known folks could never gain.

His most notable speech, and probably the one that earned him the reputation as being a global warming critic, was one he gave at Cal Tech in Pasadena back in 2003,

Aliens Cause Global Warming

Others are located at his speech page on his website. One other good one is a speech detailing the history of Yellowstone National Park and how well intentioned environmentalists made some rather spectacular mistakes messing up the ecosystem assuming they could save the park to exist in a certain way.

Complexity Theory and Environmental Management

And then lastly, a series of articles accessible at Answers in Genesis on Global Warming.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Glamour Magazine Theology

A Rant

For a bit of background, it may be helpful for uninformed readers to check out these articles (including comments) by John MacArthur posted, here, here, here, and here. If anything, read the last one.


I will confess up front that I am a member of Grace Community Church and I work at Grace to You radio ministries. I would imagine that admission discredits any remarks I may make against Mark Driscoll in the minds of his supporters as the whining criticisms of another sycophantic MacArthurite. I guess that is to be expected; but my reaction is one of a Christian man who loves holiness and has a deep passion for personal holiness in the lives of God's people, and God's pastors are to set the example of holiness for others to emulate.

So last week, when I read with stunned dismay the comments left at the Shepherd's Fellowship blog in reaction to John MacArthur's articles on the Song of Solomon and his expressed alarm at the recent practice of preachers, most notably Mark Driscoll, to teach sexually explicit messages taken from the book, my passion for holiness was stirred and I had to speak my mind. I apologize in advance if my thoughts ramble. I have been mulling them over in my mind for a number of days, but that doesn't necessarily mean I will sound coherent. And they are certainly my own and I bear the responsibility for them.

The current trend in American "Christendom" is preachers basically scandalizing their congregations by talking openly about sexual matters from the pulpit. These lurid sermons are suppose to engage the culture by telling worldly people Christians aren't hung up about sex and God is cool about sex, too. The main culprit is Mark Driscoll, who presented a recent sermon series from the Song of Solomon as ancient sex-tips to spice up the bed room like those articles I see advertised on the cover of Glamour and Redbook magazines. But other pastors also believe they too need to be graphic in their discussions of sex, including the descriptions of anatomy and performed acts.

John is rightly concerned, because in addition to mangling the divine picture God paints in the Song of Solomon of pure, marital love between a husband and a wife by reading into it the most prurient images imaginable, there are Christians who genuinely defend such sex talk from the pulpit and dismiss these type of sermons out of hand as if nothing troubling has taken place. The real trouble maker, according to these people, are folks like John who is an old fuddy-dud man who is living in a past generation that no longer has a relevant thing to offer our world.

Laying aside the exegesis of the Song of Solomon, my rant is aimed at these defenders. Predictably, the vast majority of John's critics and Driscoll's enablers are college students or college graduates. They are young men who identify with being the restless and reformed "new" Calvinists. They think because Mark Driscoll also identifies with "new" Calvinism, claims to be orthodox, and has a popular ministry in Seattle, he is to be heard.

A few bloggers even annoyingly attempt to offer thought analysis of the whole Driscoll affair by framing the controversy he generates and the critics, like John who takes the time to respond, as disagreeing over secondary matters as to what methods one should use to engage the culture. Even more galling is how the bloggers will offer their pastoral advice as if they are speaking from a wisdom that transcends everyone who has provided an opinion on the matter, but in reality, their attitude shouts a hubris of symphonic levels. They challenge John MacArthur, a man who has been in ministry longer than any of them have been alive and treat him as if he were a Fundamentalist finger wagger decrying contemporary Christian rock music.

Speaking from personal experience, twenty years ago I was once a young Calvinist, but I sought to keep myself away from being influenced by a sex drenched culture (even in the Bible-belt state of Arkansas) and I would had been appalled to hear this kind of sexual stuff that is passed off as biblical preaching. In fact, I can remember vividly a presentation on pornography I heard at my Church that was similar in content as the messages Driscoll gave on the Song of Solomon. There was a local moral crusader who attended our Church. He believed it was his calling in life to make a nuisance of himself by going to every liquor store, quick mart, and mom-and-pop video rental place and make sure they weren't selling dirty magazines or X-rated videos.

Some how he managed to talk our pastor into letting him give a presentation on why pornography was detrimental to our society. For 25 minutes or so on this one Wednesday evening, I fidgeted uncomfortably as he graphically described sexual deviancy from the pulpit of my church. Being in mixed company with young children present as he describe porn was bad enough, but what made me sick was him dishonoring God's people by subjecting them to sinful images just because he thought "we need to know what's going on."

With that introduction I have some questions and comments I would like to share with the friends of Driscoll who think this guy is a qualified preacher who is doing much to further the kingdom of God:

- Why is it even necessary for him to graphically address the topic of sex from the pulpit? Take for instance the message he gave at a Scottish church which is the catalyst for a lot of the terse comments left at the Shepherd's Fellowship blog. Why was it necessary for him to name specific anatomical parts during his talk? Even if he used medical terminology, how exactly is describing reproductive organs a good thing for edification on a Sunday morning?

- Do any of Driscoll's defenders even care if young children were present with their parents to hear his sexually charged talks? I would imagine not, seeing a good portion of them are probably not married. I happen to be a parent of young boys. My wife and I do all we can to protect them from our sexually perverse culture, but now, parents have to protect their children from a Church service, too? Will church services be subject to a rating system so I can know whether or not I should attend the particular service? I am amazed that parents who would otherwise be outraged if a radical teacher exposed their 10 year olds to sexual material in a public school class room want to give Driscoll a pass on his sex talks because he is supposedly a gifted communicator and has a big ministry in Seattle.

- I am personally troubled prominent men like John Piper and D.A. Carson are not as disturbed as I am with Driscoll's antics. The first time I heard Piper preach he gave a blistering exhortation for pastors to conduct themselves with holiness in the pulpit. Has he forgotten this sermon? I take the idea of "holiness in the pulpit" as abstaining from the use of sexually suggestive material during a sermon that utilize illustrations of human reproductive functionality.

- I am equally tired of Driscoll defenders claiming his conduct in the pulpit is off limits from public criticism because he has allegedly repented from his crude speech and his supposedly being discipled by men like John Piper. First, I have yet to see any signs of genuine repentance on his part. I am sorry, but the so-called "Spring Cleaning" post where a few links are removed from the internet does not equate biblical repentance. I thought everyone here were Calvinistic in their soteriology. They ought to know what true repentance entails. A complete putting off of sexually charged speech and the putting on of righteous speech demonstrates true repentance. Driscoll has yet to show me he has repented.

Additionally, I don't care who is mentoring him. He is a public figure whose influence sways thousands and he speaks his sex talk in a public forum. That makes him open for any and all criticism. If Todd Bentley, the grandma smashing evangelist in Florida, were being discipled by a fellow Pentecostal like Gordon Fee or Michael Brown, I don't believe any of Driscoll's defenders would insist Bentley was above public scrutiny and would demand we talk with him privately first before we pointed out his ministry was clownish.

- Then lastly, and I say this with sober-faced fear and trembling: I am fearful Driscoll is in danger of rushing headlong to a scandal. I do not wish at all a calamity like that to befall him. I pray it will never happen, because it would be more than just grievous, but could possibly have catastrophic consequences. But let us be frank: many of the major scandals in the past 20 years or so involving pastors falling from ministry revealed later an unhealthy preoccupation with denouncing sexual sin or secret sins in their sermons. I truly hope I am overreacting, but I don't believe the Proverbs speak in vain on the urgency of guarding our hearts.

I am reminded of what the Scriptures say of Rehoboam in 2 Kings 12:8, But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. The new king rejected the wise words of his elders and heeded the foolish naivety of his young and restless friends. As a result, the nation was divided and set in motion patterns of rebellion which only plunged the people of Israel into judgment. I do hope these young men who are enamoured with Mark Driscoll's notoriety will come to hear the warnings of their elders.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Studies in Eschatology [5]

Israel => Church

I am continuing in a series I started exploring eschatology.

I have started by considering the basic hermeneutics, or principles of Bible study, establishing the foundation for the interpretations by the various eschatological systems. I believe there are three broad categories of hermeneutical principles germane to my study. I have already taken a look at how the testaments relate to each other and how prophecy and types are to be understood. With this article, I want to touch briefly on a third major principle of hermenuetics, The Israel - Church Relationship.

I believe I can state with certainty that the Israel - Church relationship is without a doubt the most significant disagreement between all the adherents of each eschatological system. Moreover, nearly all the other hermeneutical principles are shaped by how one understands the differences and similarities between the national, ethnic group Israel, or the Jews, with the NT Church, which is defined as being comprised of both Jews and gentiles united in one body in Christ.

With all the literature I have read on the subject, those who hold to a Reformed Covenant view of scripture practically make any dissenting position from their understanding of Israel and the Church at test for orthodoxy. There were a few non-Covenant oriented authors who took a similar, opposite stance against those who would depart from their particular view of Israel and the Church, but I found it was the Reformed Covenant authors who were the most stern in their pronouncements of error.

Keith Mathison, for example, in his book critiquing dispensationalism, paints his dispensational subjects as holding to a view of the Bible that is both unique, in that it is relatively new to Church history, and heretical, in that they promote two entirely different gospels and views of salvation, [see also Crenshaw and Gunn, pgs. 117ff.]. Sam Waldron shares a similar criticism against John MacArthur when he states rather disingenuously that John's dispensational convictions while not heretical, do raise issues with the gospel and the Christian faith [Waldron, 127]. Other authors provide like-minded critiques where they dance around calling those believers with non-covenant views of Israel and the Christian Church full on heretics. The theological convictions of those believers are said to be problematic and troubling, but few Reformed Covenant writers place their convictions outside the pale of Christian orthodox or brand them as being pseudo-Christian.

Because how one understands Israel's relationship to the Church is such a vital hermeneutical pillar in a person's eschatological structure, it is important to frame a full picture of main disagreeing points.

The Reformed Covenant position on Israel and the Church is derived from a set of theological presuppositions emerging out of Covenant Theology. God is said to have only one particular, redeemed people who are the same in both testaments. This redeemed people are called "the Church" or the "appointed assembly" or "called out assembly" [Berkhof, 555 ff.] They were present within the nation of Israel during the history of the OT; for instance those 7,000 who did not bow the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18).

Robert Reymond describes the Church as "comprised of all redeemed in every age who are saved by grace through personal faith in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ, 'the seed of the woman' (Gen. 3:15) and suffering Messiah (Isa. 53:55-10)" [Reymond, 805]. Citing Mathison again, he writes that the Church is all believers of all ages (meaning both in the OT & NT) have one God, and one savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Additionally, the believers of all ages are one body, one bride, one household, one flock [Mathison, 26].

The Church, then, is understood to transcend both testaments. In the OT, this "redeemed assembly" was within the nation of Israel and can correctly be identified as "Israel," but in the NT, this "redeemed assembly" takes on a new identity in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The Gospel moves redemptive salvation beyond the borders of an exclusive Jewish nation state called "Israel" to include the entire world: people "out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:9). The relationship between OT Israel and the NT church is considered a typical one; Israel is meant to foreshadow the Church to come [Mathison, 38]. The NT Church fulfills all the OT promises and purposes made to OT Israel [Mathison, 26]. All those original promises of restoration and being made a ruling kingdom over the earth God gave to OT Israel are literally being fulfilled NOW in the NT Church [Long, 361]. So it is accurate to call the Church the new Israel and certain new testament passages like Ephesians 2:11-20 and 1 Peter 1:10-12 strongly suggest the NT Church has fulfilled, or even replaced, what the OT Church in Israel was suppose to be.

That is not to say Reformed covenant believers do not recognize a distinction between Israel and the Church. There certainly is a recognized distinction between OT Israel and the NT Church, however there isn't a strong dichotomy between the two as the non-covenantal believers suggest [Crenshaw and Gunn, 118]. In fact, it is the strong dichotomy of the non-covenant believers that is the most concerning for the Reformed covenant folks. Holding a sharp dichotomy between the OT people of God, Israel, and the NT people of God, the Church, leads to some significant theological problems the most notable being a division between the people of God. This strong dichotomy presents two divided groups called "the people of God" and suggests two possible ways to salvation, one for the OT Jews and another for the NT Church. This division is artificial, especially when Jesus himself speaks of being a shepherd over one flock (John 10) and there is now one new man made of both Jews and gentiles (Ephesians 2).

It is true some dispensational writers in the past make such a strong distinction between the Israel of the OT and the Church of the NT, they would argue for a different gospel spoken to the Jews by Peter and James and another proclaimed by Paul to the gentiles. A more recent example is the hyper-Zionist teachings of John Hagee who argues Jesus never offered Himself as a Messiah to Israel [Hagee, 132-145], or that Jesus was not crucified by the Jews [Hagee, 131], in spite of Peter's words to the contrary (Acts 2:22, 23, 36). But these are extreme examples and do not reflect the whole of the theological thought on Israel and the Church which dissents from Reformed covenantalism.

The modern Reformed covenant position on Israel and the Church tends to overlook two important historical factors influencing their view. First is the idea of the Church being the new or spiritual Israel, as well as being the same as the OT "believing remnant." Historically, this perspective on Israel and the Church has always been that of the Roman Catholic Church. I always found this close connection between the Reformed and the Roman Catholicism to be intriguing, especially seeing how modern day Reformed apologists like Sam Waldron and Robert Reymond who are highly critical of dispensational, non-covenant believers, have their historical roots with the Protestant Reformation that broke away from the Catholic Church. Yet, Roman Catholic teaching on the subject speaks of the OT Church, Israel, and the NT Church being the true Israel, the true people of God [Bovis, 20, 31, 32]. Elsewhere, the Church is referred to as the new Israel, which advances in this era, the Church of Christ [Flannery, 360].

Second is the anti-Semitism which has infested the historic Christian Church. The direct result of a view of replacement theology which says the OT Israel has been done away with and all their promises of restoration are fulfilled in the NT Church has been a nasty prejudice against the Jewish people. The Medieval Catholic Church is probably the worst instigator, but anti-
Semitism continued after the Protestant Reformation by various Protestant groups who carried over the Catholic perspective on Israel and the Church, and it continues even until this day, particularly in Europe.

Now, contrasted with the Reformed covenant perspective on Israel and the Church is the Reformed non-covenant perspective, also known as dispensationalism. Just like the Reformed view, the dispensational view is built upon specific theological presuppositions. I have considered a few of these presuppositions in my previous two posts. Specifically the idea the NT does not have total and complete revelational priority over the OT as the covenant perspective argues so that certain prophecies and promises made to the nation of Israel are cancelled and fulfilled entirely by the Church. Also, how one interprets OT eschatological prophecy will play into the conclusions regarding Israel's relationship with the Church.

Those presuppositions provide a different approach to the biblical teaching on Israel and the Church when we consider the biblical evidence.

First, I believe it is clear in Scripture that Israel and the Church are distinct. The Church is understood to be only a NT entity that is not to be equated with one, specific redeemed people who transcend both testaments. There are similarities in the relationship between the NT Church and Israel, but a concise reading of Scripture tells us the two are never equated as being one and the same. This is especially true in the NT. Of the seventy-three references to Israel in the NT, the vast majority refer to national, ethnic Israel while a few others refer to Jewish believers [Vlach, 25]. Never does the NT writers equate the two as being one and the same. This is particularly noteworthy because the term Israel is kept distinct from the Church AFTER the establishment of the Church in the books of Acts [Vlach, 25]. This would imply the Church has not absorbed all of the OT promises made to Israel pertaining to their fulfillment in a future kingdom.

Building of the last point, a second area of difference between the Reformed covenant view and the dispensational view of Israel and the Church has to do with defining the people of God. I believe it is completely accurate to say God has a redeemed people He has called to Himself and they are manifested in both testaments. Hence, contrary to covenantal criticism of dispensationalism, salvific unity does exist between Jews and gentiles; that is, they are one, redeemed people called by God by grace through faith in Christ. However, a distinction between national Israel and the Church still exists. It is a distinction that is similar to the roles of men and women. Men and women share equally in salvation, yet they both have different roles as they serve in the local Church and in marriage [Vlach, 28]. The same could be said about masters and slaves (Ephesians 6:5ff.), as well as parents and their children (Ephesians 6:1-4).

And then a third area which differentiates the views of Reformed covenant believers and non-covenant, dispensational believers is a belief in the future salvation and restoration of Israel in a physical kingdom upon the earth. Michael Vlach rightly points out the importance of noting there are many who hold to the Reformed perspective on Israel who would firmly teach a future salvation for Israel [Vlach, 29]. In other words, "all Israel will be saved" as Paul affirms in Romans 11:26. Thus, the future salvation of Israel is not strictly a dispensational view. But, in addition to a future salvation for Israel, dispensationalists believe the Bible teaches a future restoration of Israel in the land with Christ reigning in Jerusalem. As a geo-political kingdom, Israel will have a special role of service to the rest of the nations. The idea of a future restoration, then, is more than just the idea of salvation in Christ and is the main distinguishing difference between the two positions.

So, with this outline of hermeneutics in mind, we have the foundation available to move along and consider the various eschatological systems. I will first give a brief overview of the main systems of amillennialism, postmillennialism, and premillennialism, and then return to defend premillennialism as the system I believe is taught from the biblical text.


*******
Sources

Curtis Crenshaw and Grover E. Gunn III, Dispensationalism: Today, Yesterday, Tomorrow. (Footstool Publications: Memphis TN, 1985)

Louis Berkhof,
Systematic Theology, 4th ed. (Eerdman's Publishing: Grand Rapids MI, 1991)

Andre De Bovis, "What is the Church?,"
Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism, Vol. 48. (Hawthorn Books: New York NY, 1961)

Austin Flannery, o.p. ed.,
Vatican II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents. (Scholarly Resources: Wilmington MD, 1975)

John Hagee,
In Defense of Israel. (Frontline: Lake Mary FL, 2007)

Gary Long,
Context! Evangelical Views of the Millennium Examined. (Great Unpublished: Charleston SC, 2001, 2nd ed. 2002)

Keith A. Mathinson,
Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God? (P&R Publishing: Phillipsburg NJ, 1995).

Robert L. Reymond,
A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 2nd ed. (Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1998)

Robert L. Saucy,
A Case for Progressive Dispensationalism: The Interface Between Dispensational & Non-Dispensational Theology. (Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1993)

Samuel E. Waldron,
MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response. (Reformed Baptist Academic Press: Owensboro KY, 2008).

Michael J. Vlach,
Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths. (Theological Studies Press, Los Angeles CA, 2008).

The Teachings of the Second Vatican Council
, (Newman Press: Westiminster MD, 1966)

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

How long will you live

Here's a fun one to occupy your time as a I finish up some longer posts.

Studies in Eschatology part 5 is in the oven.

In the mean time,

Virtual Age Calculator

I am slated to live until my late 80s. Bearing no unforeseen circumstances like car accidents or nuclear attack or hostile take over by self-aware robots.

That's not long. Just 17,800 days! Puts Paul's words in Colossians 4:5 about redeeming the time in a clearer perspective.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Global Ark of Noah

Models of Noah's ark have popped up all over the world in different locales. The most recent is a hotel in Hong Kong modeled as a full scale replica of the ark - with life size plastic animals.

Ark's of Biblical Proportions

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A duckling becomes a swan

Another Paul Potts moment

(I like the opening shot of her eating a sandwich while waiting to be called)

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Do you flutter?

For my Tweeting friends

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Fireproof: A mini-review

I recently had the chance to finally see Fireproof with my wife. I am probably months and months too late, but I thought I would offer my brief review anyhow.

I must confess up front that I am not a big fan of Christian film. In fact, I would say rather boldly that I despise the genre. Christian movies are for the most part poorly produced and the acting is unrealistic and just plain bad.

I have observed that Christian film usually falls into two categories.

First, those movies which are so over the top with the presentation of an evangelistic message the movie appears to be hokey. The characters speak of Jesus in an unnatural way, almost in a mystical manner, and often some of the most deplorable theology is defended. Think Thief in the Night.

The second group of movies are those in which Jesus is not even mentioned and God is spoken of as if He were some deistic, impersonal force. It is as if the film makers are embarrassed they are Christians at all, because they take great pains to go out of their way never to mention their faith in any meaningful fashion. Only "Christian" morals and virtues are alluded to and are assumed to be plenty to give the viewer the impression he or she is watching a "religious" film. The William Wilberforce biographical epic, Amazing Grace, from a couple of years ago had this tone attached to it. Here was a well made film, but Wilberforce's true evangelical convictions which were his motivation to end the slave trade to begin with, were minimized in the film.

More over is the annoying enthusiasm I have faced in times past from Christian peers insistent I embrace such amateur mediocrity because they are "Christian" films in need of support. I am called upon to attend special screenings or host a viewing at my church or whatever. It is as if the biblical admonition to pursue all things with excellence is totally lost in these instances.

Now, with all that in mind, I come to Fireproof. I was willing to spend a couple of hours watching a movie which came dangerously close to replicating what I knew in my heart was going to be just another "Christian" film for a couple of reasons. First, Kirk Cameron, the main player in the film, has attended my church and I have met him on a couple of occasions. He and his wife were sometimes dropping off their kid during the second hour Sunday school when I was picking mine up. But on top of that, I had heard good things about this movie particularly from folks who hold similar aversions to your typical Christian film as I do. Those two things intrigued me.

As much as I was expecting a grimace inducing experience, I am pleased to say I was pleasantly surprised. Now, that is not to say some of those marks of inadequate lameness were not present - they certainly were. But over all, the film did a better job in presentation than other Christian movies with similar themes.

Fireproof had the feel of one of those made for Lifetime women in peril type movies or a Hallmark special in which a couple are shown enduring some severe, emotional trial. In this case, a marriage that has grown cold and an impending divorce. Kirk Cameron plays a fire fighter who has the reputation for public heroism, but privately his marriage has grown sour. Both he and his wife are angry with each other: She feeling he doesn't love her or show her the proper attention she craves and he believes she doesn't respect him as a man.

Their marriage is headed fast toward divorce until the father of the husband intervenes with a love dare for his son to follow. It would require forty days (I wonder why not 57? or 23? What is up with everything being 40 days? anyways...) for Cameron's character to complete and it is designed to woo his wife back to him as he shows her sacrificial love.

Good things I liked:

What I appreciate about the movie is how both Cameron's character, and his wife, are depicted as having sinful issues in their lives. Usually these situations are shown from a lopsided perspective with one of the spouses being an "innocent" victim. In this case, both of them are rightly shown to be angry and unforgiving.

Also, I like that the gospel is presented in a dignified way. During one of the harder moments of the "love dare", the father explains to his despairing son that the only way he can really utilize the dare most effectively is by giving his life to Christ. I personally would like to have heard a firmer presentation of God's wrath against sinners, but the over all main points of the gospel were given and most importantly, the father invokes the name of Jesus Christ, explaining why He had to come and die on the cross.

I also like how Cameron's character didn't immediately pray a prayer of salvation upon hearing his father tell him the gospel. He went away and wrestled through what he had been told. Additionally, when Cameron's character shares his salvation with his wife, she too doesn't immediately pray a prayer of salvation. In fact, from what I can recall, the movie ends with out us knowing for sure of her salvation.

I further appreciated how the life of Cameron's character doesn't immediately turn to hearts and flowers when he gives his life to Christ. Lots of folks are under the mistaken notion that once a person prays the prayer, so to speak, everything begins turning up rosy. This is hardly the case in real life and the movie makers make no attempt to visualize a fantasy view of salvation.

What I didn't like:

Apart from Cameron's character and another fellow fire fighter, all the firemen were overweight. Now maybe I am being a bit nit-picky and I would imagine there are husky firemen out there in the world, but flabby, out of shape firemen? I don't think so.

In spite of the movie makers best efforts, the film still suffered from an amateur production value which only detracted from the film. The acting was terrible, Cameron's character being the main exception. Again, the overall feel of the movie was that of an ABC After school special. I understand the movie was a group effort of a church congregation. The movie makers kept the production costs low by using local talent (if we can call them talent - like the 6 grade puppet team is "talented") and while that is commendable in light of the fact the film grossed a ton of money for what it cost to make, my exhortation to these film makers is to invest this blessing into striving for excellent with their next movie. Get some good actors, not local church members who won an award for their senior high production of "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown." It would improve their movies a hundred fold.

Concerns:

One main concern I have is the fall out from this movie. It is my understanding that the "love dare" presented in the film wasn't real, but merely a plot point for the film. After the success of the movie many pastors, counselors, and individuals in troubled marriages wrote the movie makers looking for a copy of the "love dare." Though my heart is gladdened there are pastors who wish to help their members "fireproof" their marriages, or individual couples who want to learn to "fireproof" their marriages, I am concerned they will turn the "love dare" into some magical cure-all for their marital woes. What happens to them when after 40 days the "love dare" has not worked like it did for the Kirk Cameron and his wife in the movie? The emphasis should not be on the "love dare," but the person of Christ, and I am afraid many who will attempt it will miss this vital component to their marriages.

With that stated, I do recommend the movie and I even solicit your opinions in the comments.

Ultimate Church

What better way to remember the death, burial, and Resurrection of our Lord and Christ than combining Easter with Ultimate Fighting?

Church Combines Easter and Ultimate Fighting to Bring Men into the Church

I mean, Christ fought the ultimate battle against the devil when he went to the cross and came out victorious. Isn't that what Carmen sang about in his Champion song?

Favorite line out of the article:

"For the kid fighters, join us in the ring for your own Easter Smack Down (infant to 12 years)."

What could possibly be more fun than smacking down infants? Does Todd Bentley know about this?

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Dream Land

The LA Times has a great little article about the goings on out at Area 51 in Nevada.

The Road to Area 51

I have a few volunteers who worked with Skunk Works, the top secret Lockheed facility that built many of the planes tested out at Area 51. Being an aviation geek, it is one of my personal joys to listen to their stories now and again.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Irena Sendler Vs. Al Gore

Worth the Watch.

Makes you think about what really matters to intellectual elites.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Pray Without Ceasing...

So do you have a desire to devote yourself to prayer, but have trouble finding the time? Does the pressure of day-to-day busyness cause you to forget about praying for Uncle Al's polyp surgery? Here is a revolutionary new way to pray,

Information Age Prayer

With our automated computer service, now you can schedule your prayers in advance. So relax, sit back. If you forget to pray, or even if you don't feel like it, go about your day knowing the confidence that our automated computer service have sought the throne of God on your behalf, right on schedule.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

True Discernment

I am convinced one of the marks of a truly spiritual Christian is one who pursues making wise decisions.

This is particularly evident with the Christian's personal life. I just cannot see how a person can claim to be a follower of Christ and then live a life consistently making boneheaded choices.

I mean those jaw dropping, stupefying, "Darwin Awards" style personal choices.

A person who is truly walking in the Spirit will not be giving thousands of dollars of his hard earned money to a TV charlatan preacher who claims he will pray the 100-fold blessing on him if he does. They're not going to gamble on-line. They make sober, God-honoring decisions about the people they will marry. They're not running up thousands of dollars of credit card debit. (Interesting how one handles finances is a gauge of their decision making ability). They're not led astray by conspiracy theories portending the imminent doom of society so that they move their family out to the backside of Death Valley.

Even worse than making consistently bonehead choices is how they justify these choices by claiming God is directing them.

A spirit-filled man doesn't come home after work to tell his wife, "Honey, I just quit my job as a CPA because I feel God is leading me to pursue a career in Christian music. Yes, I realize I only know three cords for my guitar, but I know this is what God wants me to do."

Sometimes I am staggered by how a good portion of Christians in Red state, evangelical America, who would otherwise reject looking at animal entrails and consulting crystal balls, think you must figure out God's will for your life by deciphering a series of feelings, or signs, or what appears to be serendipitous coincidences. Christians will ready themselves to make potentially life altering decisions (getting married is the biggy) on the same basic criteria as astrology, but they justify such folly because it has merely been sanitized by identifying with Jesus and "steppin' out on faith."

I am of the opinion Christians should be known for sober-mindedness, not being goofy. Worldly people should be known for bad decisions, not Christians. I mean, we have the mind of Christ due to our salvation, right?

I say all this because Dan at Pyromaniacs addressed this subject in two back-to-back book reviews I wish to recommend. I would imagine most of my readers have already seen them because we all travel to similar haunts. But for those who missed them, spend a lunch break giving them a read:

Non Sola Scriptura: The Blackaby View of God's Will - 1

Non Sola Scriptura: The Blackaby View of God's Will - 2

Additionally, I did a series on true Christian spirituality a few years ago, and five of those audio messages were directed at biblical decision making. The entire series can be podcasted, by the way.

How not to determine God's Will

Defining God's Will

Five simple steps for biblical discernment

Biblical decision making

Serving the weaker brother

Exhortations for informing the conscience

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Safe and Secure Part 2

Something to hand wring over during the weekend.

Of course, my life is pathetically mundane and boring, I could not imagine anyone wanting to do this with me. Plus, I rarely use a cell phone.

Tapping Your Cellphone

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Studies in Eschatology [4]

Type casting the Bible

I have taken up the subject of eschatology and my endeavor has been to share what I have learned. I have received a lot of positive responses to my first three posts on the subject, so I do trust others are profiting from the series. I also hope I am being fair to dissenting positions. My goal is to discuss them accurately without the employment of strawmen.

Before I jump into exploring various eschatology systems, I wanted to spend some time going over a few foundational matters, particularly an examination of the hermeneutical principles brought to the relevant, eschatological texts by the variety of theological systems.

I have observed three broad areas of hermeneutics where eschatological systems will disagree with each other: The relationship of the NT with the OT, How to interpret prophetic passages, and the Israel/Church distinction. These areas will over lap with each other to be sure, but I have found there is enough of a pronounced difference between them that I can present a specific review of each one.

With this post I wish to draw attention to a second area of hermeneutics: The Interpretation of Prophetic Passages.

The word "eschatology" means "those things pertaining to the end-times." The Bible explicitly tells us there will be an end to the whole of human history - the last day. Our world is being directed to a final day when God will bring our age to an end, Jesus Christ will return, and humanity judged. The Bible records many passages of prophetic revelation spoken by a number of godly men who outline the details to these events. All systems of eschatology agree to the certainty of Christ's return and humanity's judgment and the end of all things. Where they disagree sharply with one another is with how we are to understand the unfolding of the details.

As I noted in my last post, a good part of how we apply our hermeneutics to the prophetic passages is dependent upon our theological presuppositions. I pointed out how those who hold to the convictions of Reformed covenant theology will utilize what is called an apostolic hermeneutic, in which the original "OT words are not always the ultimate meaning that the divine author had in mind" [Crenshaw and Gunn, 12]. This so-called apostolic hermeneutic, then, is also believed to provide the proper perspective for understanding the true meaning of the OT prophecies. Hence, what the OT prophet seems to mean by his prophetic oracle at first reading may have some greater meaning, or perhaps mean something all together different, in the NT.

Contrasted with how the apostolic hermeneutic handles the interpretation of prophecy, other non-covenant Reformed Christians believe a prophet's prophecy must be initially understood according to the original meaning it was given. Now, that is not say when we come to the NT, the progress of revelation will reveal extended application of the prophecy to spiritual things pertaining to the coming NT ministry of Christ and the apostles. However, that does not mean the original message of the prophecy is annulled and the NT Church entirely absorbs its fulfillment.

Consider, for example, how James utilizes the prophecy of Amos 9:11, 12 during the Jerusalem council in Acts 15. In response to hearing how gentiles were coming to faith in Christ, James cites Amos 9:11, 12 as foretelling of the time when the gentiles would come to salvation. The typical Reformed covenant position of this passage says James was interpreting the prophecy of Amos, which was originally spoken to the house of Israel, to apply completely to the NT Church. The "raising of the ruins of the Tabernacle of David" and how "they will possess the gentiles," is fulfilled in the new tabernacle, the Church, comprised of both Jews and gentiles [Robertson, 89-108].

But note that James does not cite the entire oracle, just the words spoken about how the raising of the tabernacle of David will cause the gentiles to be possessed. Nothing in the original prophecy of Amos, nor with the citation by James, suggests the remainder of the prophecy, Amos 9:13-15 has been completely fulfilled by the NT Church. Those last 3 verses in Amos speak to the people of Israel, who are called "My people" by the Lord, as being "planted in their land" and "no longer shall they be pulled up." Though Amos originally gave his prophecy to the people of Israel, an additional fulfillment of it is the gentiles coming to faith in Christ. However, that does not mean the rest of the prophecy has been canceled and will no longer be fulfilled as Amos predicted.

What one will notice when these two hermeneutical approaches are compared is that the covenant Reformed position tends towards a more spiritualized application of OT prophecy, where as the non-covenant Reformed positions reads the same prophecies in a more literal sense. And here in lies the center of disagreement between eschatological systems.

The covenant Reformed Christian accuses the non-covenant Reformed Christian of "wooden literalism." Their "literalism" is ridiculed as being absurd: "How can a spiritual being like the devil be bound with a chain?" and "Where's that bottomless pit to be found?" However, non-covenant Reformed Christians will often ridicule his opponent by saying he is unwittingly employing rank, unbelieving liberalism when reading the Bible. If we spiritualize the prophecies of the OT and turn them into metaphors and analogies, what keeps a person from spiritualizing other portions of the Bible, like the creation week of Genesis, or the Resurrection of Jesus?

There is some truth to those accusations. I have in mind Hal Lindsey claiming the locust in Revelation 9 are chemical spraying Apache helicopters and the way certain groups of Reformed preterists mangle the flood narrative in Genesis 7-8. In the end, however, such exchanges are pointless. Both positions acknowledge the authority of God's Word and are attempting to gain an understanding of the text by the use of exegesis. Yet it is the exegesis being interpreted according to theological presuppositions, especially when exegeting eschatological prophetic passages.

I will be bold enough to say all sides cannot be correct in the application of their hermeneutics on prophetic texts. Obviously, as I have wrestled through these issues and have finally settled on my eschatological convictions, I believe my position is the correct one. I have come to that conviction because I believe there is a consistence between my exegesis and hermeneutics when those principles are applied to eschatological theology. For me, that is the key: is my hermeneutics and exegesis consistent and are both being applied consistently to the biblical passages.

So how do I pursue consistency? Allow me to consider four important principles:

1) Prophecy can be defined as "the content of the special revelation which specifically called men received and by which they explained the past, elucidated the present, and disclosed the future" [Kaiser, 42]. The best rule of thumb when interpreting prophecy is to believe the language of the prophets in a natural way [Kaiser, 43], and view the referents of the prophecy in the manner in which the prophet originally intended. Again, see the example above with James citing Amos. Later revelation may clarify or add to the previous prophecy, but it should not be re-interpreted in a way never intended by the original prophet.

2) Prophets often spoke in symbolic and figurative language, but such symbolism should not automatically be spiritualized to mean something different than what the original prophet intended to convey, or be a license to interpret all prophecy with a spiritualized hermeneutic. For example, the book of Revelation certainly contains symbolic images, but does the presence of such symbolism automatically discount chapter 20 from speaking of a real, earthly reign of Christ for 1,000 years - 365,000 days? (I will write about Revelation 20 in a later article).

When interpreting symbolic language, a couple of important principles should be considered. That being, the absurdity of language when taken literally and the clarity when taken symbolically. Matt Waymeyer explains this principles this way,

With symbolic language there is something inherent itself that compells the interpreter to seek something other than the literal meaning ... when the interpreter has concluded the literal meaning of the language is absurd and ought to be abandoned, the symbolic interpretation will yield some degree of clarity to the meaning of the language of the text [Waymeyer, 51].
For instance, when the prophet Isaiah says "The trees of the field will clap their hands," he does not mean to say the trees will come alive like the Ents from The Lord of the Rings (the absurdity of language when taken literal), but the prophet does mean to say there will be great rejoicing with the return of Israel from exile (the clarity of the language when understood symbolically).

3) There is also an important need to recognize a three-fold classification of biblical prophecy: unconditionally fulfilled, conditionally fulfilled, and sequentially fulfilled [Kaiser, 35].

Recognizing these classifications will help with how to interpret the meaning of biblical prophecy. Unconditionally fulfilled prophecy is when God obligates Himself to carry out the terms for the fulfillment. God has bound Himself to see to it that these prophecies are carried out [Kaiser, 35]. Some examples of unconditionally fulfillment is the promises made to Abraham (Genesis 12:2-3, 15:9-21). Conditionally fulfilled prophecy has an "unless" or "if" condition attached to it. The blessings and cursings outlined in Deuteronomy 28 are a good example of this. If Israel obeys, God will bless. If they do not, God will bring cursing. Then sequentially fulfilled prophecy are prophecies fulfilled in stages. A good example is the destruction of Tyre as recorded in Ezekiel 26:7-14. When God judged Tyre, it was started by Nebuchadnezzar, but wasn't finished until Alexander the Great. Elijah's prophecy against Naboth's murder is another example (1 Kings 21:19). The full prophecy impacted Ahab and then his later son, Joram [Kaiser, 38, 39].

4) Understanding the proper application of biblical typology is also relevant with interpreting prophecy correctly. "Typological interpretation is specifically the interpretation of the OT based on the fundamental theological unity of the two testaments whereby something in the OT shadows, prefigures, adumbrates something in the NT" [Ramm, 223]. What is interpreted in the Old is not foreign or peculiar or hidden, but rises naturally out of the text due to the relationship of the two testaments.

Benard Ramm lists six important types seen in scripture:

Persons - For example Adam => Christ

Institutions - The Levitical sacrifices => the Cross of Christ

Offices - The high priest => The ministry Jesus Christ

Events - The wilderness wanderings (1 Cor. 10:6, 11). Slavery in Egypt picturing Israel's enslavement in exile (Deut. 28:68)

Actions - Lifting up the brazen serpent => Christ being lifted up in crucifixion

Things - Tabernacle => The presence of God with His people [Ramm, 231, 232; Weir, 68]

The danger with types, however, is reading into them much more than what the original author intended to convey. Also, hunting down types when none really exist. As much as I love A.W. Pink as an author, his writings are filled with discussions on types and anti-types when none really existed in the text. Honestly, some of those boards in the tabernacle were only meant to hold up the curtains. Bishop Marsh, in his book Lectures on the Criticism and Interpretation of the Bible wisely stated, "A type is a type only if the NT specifically so designates it to be such" [Ramm, 219].

Now, we will see these principles worked out as I move along through my series, and I hope to demonstrate how they provide a consistent connection between prophetic passages and eschatological theology.

*******
Sources


Curtis Crenshaw and Grover E. Gunn III,
Dispensationalism: Today, Yesterday, Tomorrow, (Footstool Publications: Memphis TN, 1985)

Walter Kaiser, Back Toward the Future: Hints for Interpreting Biblical Prophecy, (Baker Books: Grand Rapids MI, 1989)

Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation: A Textbook of Hermeneutics (3rd rev. ed.), (Baker Books: Grand Rapids MI, 1970)

O. Palmer Robertson, "Hermenuetics of Continuity,"
Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments, (Crossway Books: Westchester IL, 1988)

Matthew Waymeyer,
Revelation 20 and the Millennium Debate, (Kress Christian Publications: The Woodlands TX, 2004)

Jack Weir, "Analogus Fulfillment: The Use of the Old Testament in the New Testament,"
Perspectives in Religious Studies 9 (Spring 1982)

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