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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Christ, A Rose

Generally, I don't care for videos showing small kids supposedly doing something funny. Most of the time they are kids I don't know or care about and what they are doing isn't particularly funny.

This one, however, made me chuckle a lot.


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Monday, June 29, 2009

MSM Sour Grapes

The LA Times is infuriated a celebrity gossip website, TMZ, was able to scoop them on announcing Michael Jackson's death first. So, rather than doing a much needed relevance test as to their journalistic integrity, the LA Times ponders, "But what if TMZ had been wrong?"

Well they didn't get it wrong now did they, you bunch of liberal whiners. Just another indication the MSM journalism is dying a slow, miserable death.

By the way, the comments are outstanding. Make sure you read those after you read the story.

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The Cow-ousel

Starting out the week with a bit of education for you non-farming folks.

Before you pour that milk over your Count Chocula,

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Practical thoughts on the downfall of Mark Sanford

Earlier this week we watched the political downfall of South Carolina governor, Mark Sanford. In addition to behaving foolishly by leaving the country without notifying anyone in his state government where he was, upon his return, he admitted to an on-going affair with a woman in Argentina. Governor Sanford was supposedly a contender for the Republicans in the next presidential election, but his misguided actions have more than likely ended such aspirations.

He is also known to be a conservative evangelical Christian. As a fellow Christian, the affair he pursued and his relationship with his wife and family is of much greater value to me than his political career. Those are the things of life with lasting substance.

It never ceases to amaze me how God's Word reveals needful insight to our daily living when heartbreaking events like these occur. Reflecting on this spectacular debacle has caused me to mull over a few practical thoughts we as Christians ought to consider.

= We Christian men need to be diligent with guarding our hearts. The Proverbs tell us our heart is the seat of the whole of man. It is out of the heart that the issues of life spring (Prov. 4:23) and because of this we are to keep our heart, or guard it, with the utmost vigilance. In fact the word "keep," or "guard," pictures a solider watching the gate of a city to prevent an enemy from sneaking in to wreck havoc. In like manner, we too are to guard our hearts with the same amount of diligence against encroaching enemies who seek to undo us morally.

This goes beyond a man just indulging his lust gazing at pornography and other explicit images on the internet. I would ask, who it is with whom you correspond? Governor Sanford carried on an email exchange with the woman in question for a while before their relationship became a physical affair. Internet communities like Facebook are good ways to stay in touch with friends, but it can also be a person's undoing as the spark to ignite adultery. A husband is re-acquainted with an old girl friend from the 10th grade, or a gal he dated a couple of times from his college astronomy club, they begin exchanging secret emails, and with a matter of time, he is making travel plans for a "business" trip to St. Louis where this old friend just happens to live. Perhaps such a scenario sounds a bit out of the ordinary, but I personally know a handful of Christian men, including some personalities my blog readers would know, to whom this very thing happened. All because they didn't guard their heart.

Instead of writing love emails to an old girlfriend, write them to your wife. Do as Proverbs 5:15ff. commands and drink deeply from the wells of your marriage and be satisfied with the breasts of your wife. This is the woman with whom you pledged your love and devotion in marriage, is she not worth keeping your heart protected for her exclusive use?

= Ladies, do not underestimate the power of sex in marriage and how important it is to your husband. Christian ladies, if I may be frank (and at the risk of coming close to sounding like Mark Driscoll): men love sex. I believe a good majority of men would heartily agree with me. The minority agree with me in silence for fear of being called a pervert. Granted, I agree we are not to be piggish, and we are to exercise self-control and respect toward women (another part of guarding our hearts), but sex is a big part of who were are as men.

Regrettably, I believe some muddle headed misconceptions of what is considered spiritual has clouded the minds of young Christian ladies regarding this dimension of their marriages.

First, please understand your husband is not a pervert because he so eagerly looks forward to this joyful aspect your all's marriage. A wife should rejoice that her husband so delights himself with her. Now that is not to give excuse to the husband to act like an insensitive, gropey troglodyte toward his wife. Just know that it is his duty to be drunk on your love (Prov. 5:19), and a husband cannot be intoxicated with his wife's love if she only unlocks the liquor cabinet on a few occasions.

Secondly, our Christian culture, or at least the one I tend to circulate in, places a heavy emphasis upon a woman's character. She should seek godly virtue, chastity, modesty, and abstain from worldly appearances. Such is certainly a God honoring pursuit, because believe me, a godly man wants a virtuous, chaste and modest wife. No sincere Christian man wishes to be married to a diamond in a swine's snout and live out his married life sitting in the corner of his roof top. The virtues of my wife's character was the primary attributes which drew me to her. But, Christian wives sometimes pursue chastity and modesty at the expense of their appearance. Modesty does not equate to frumpy and plain, and abstaining from the world does not have to entail dressing and behaving like a prudish old maid.

= Realize our sinful actions also impact others. Sin does not just impact the person doing the sinful behavior. Those around the person are also affected; both believers and unbelievers. Believers become disheartened and discouraged, where as unbelievers are stirred up to mock God and His ways. And the more well known a person is and the bigger the sin may be, could send shock waves throughout a community which will reverberate for many years to come. Let such a dreadful scenario sink deeply into your heart.

= Marvel at how sin can make the most sober-minded, intelligent person to act stupidly. Cheating on his wife was bad, but worse still was the utter reckless irresponsibility the governor took in order to pursue his affair. A high, national, official just up and leaves his professional duties for which he was elected by trusting voters and thinks no one will notice? A Christian should never disregard the power of sin. To do so could lead to catastrophic displays of incompetence that could jeopardize many who surround us.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Morons in the Parlor

Church causes stir with gay exorcism video

Perhaps they should consider exorcising the demon of stupidity from the members who thought it would be cool to video the whole episode and post it on You Tube.

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Cool Picture of the Day

















Astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured this truly remarkable top-side picture of a volcano erupting in Japan.

Full article HERE.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Studies in Eschatology [8]

Amillennialism

Continuing with my study on eschatology, I would like to provide a brief overview of each of the three major eschatological systems with my next set of posts: amillennialism, postmillennialism, and then premillennialism. I don't want to go into a detailed interaction with each system in which I would evaluate all the strengths and weaknesses. I merely want to lay out the historical development and the major theological talking points. The comments will be open and available for adherents of which ever system under discussion to offer clarifying remarks.

I will begin with amillennialism, and right out of the starting gate we are faced with a problematic term. The prefix "a -" means "no," and "millennium" of course means "millennium," or "1,000" as in "1,000 years." Thus, the term means "no millennium" or "no thousand years." It is a problematic term mainly because it inaccurately suggests amillennialists do not believe in a millennium. I cannot count how many times I have had to correct this misconception in the minds of individuals who disagreed with amillennialism who wrongly assumed amillennialists just ignore Revelation 20:1-6 (Craigen, 1; Hoekema, 173). Amillennialists even recognize this difficulty in terminology. Jay Adam's, in his book called The Time is at Hand, attempted to coin the term, realized millennialism. But even amillennialists thought any attempt to rename the term something other than "amillennialism" would be fruitless.

Rather than trying to rename amillennialism, the better approach it simply to explain what it is meant by the term. Amillennialism means that no future millennium, or 1,000 years, follows the return of Christ. The millennium is understood as happening now in this present age with Christ reigning with His saints through the Church. Thus, the 1,000 years is not meant to be taken as a literal 1,000 years of 365,000 days, but is symbolic of the Church age from the time of Christ's ascension to the time of His return.

Augustine was the first Church theologian to articulate an amillennial scheme. The view was found in seed form among earlier North African Dontanist schismatics, like Tyconnius in his commentary on Daniel. He employed an allegorical hermeneutic to interpret prophetic passages as speaking to the triumphant reign of Christ now upon the earth [Craigen, 5]. But it was Augustine who had the lasting impact as a theologian to formulate amillennialism. He sets forth his eschatology in his magnum opus, The City of God in book 20, chapters 4-15, and as Robert Culver notes, It is safe to assert that until this section of Augustine's great work is mastered one cannot fully appreciate the millennial discussions which have followed since his day. It is almost, if not wholly true, that all amillennial and postmillennial systems have been postscripts to The City of God [Culver, 1141]

Augustine's influence cannot be underestimated. As a leading early Church theologian, he crystallized the non-literal, symbolic approach to prophetic literature by the Church from that point onward. I hope to explore his influence at greater length in a later post. At this point however, it is important to review the main theological talking points of amillennialism.

The first and foremost theological point is more of a hermeneutical principle I have discussed before. That being prophetic literature is symbolic and must be interpreted in a non-literal fashion. Books like Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation are of an unique biblical genre meant to convey the unfolding drama of redemptive history. These prophetic books are apocalyptic in nature, written for the purpose of revealing how the great forces of evil that fight against God will finally be vanquished and to inspire hope in the people of God who will have certain victory over those forces. These apocalyptic books are filed with a great amount of symbolism, and those symbols should be understood non-literally. Hence, when we come to Revelation 20, the millennium discussed there is not suppose to be understood as 1,000, 24 hour days, but must be understood as a period of time. That principle was the key interpretative presupposition fpr Augustine to develop his amillennialism, and adherents have built upon his work over the years.

A second key theological talking point is the idea of a singular consummation. Amillennialist believe biblical history knows of only two ages: this present age and the age to come. There is but only one climatic event awaiting to take place, the Return of Christ. Paul wrote Titus that Christians should look for one blessed hope, the appearing of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:12-15). There is no indication of an intermediary kingdom taking place after His Return, or a "golden age of peace" happening before His Return. This present age in which men live will come to an abrupt end at the coming of Christ. The Second Coming of Christ brings history to a close. The general judgment of all men, the just and the unjust, or what would be the Great White Throne judgment, takes place immediately after Christ's coming. The Christian's hope is fully realized at Christ's Return and everlasting communion with God will be experienced forever, [Craigen, 10].

With those two primary points in mind, when we come to Revelation 20, there are at least four major elements defining amillennialism:

Revelation 20 does not follow chapter 19 chronologically, but is a recapitulation, describing events which parallel previously revealed events. Amillenialists argue that one big mistake made when reading Revelation is to assume it is meant to be read in chronological order. However, Revelation is prophetic literature meant to be read as a series of visions rather than historical narrative. So, it is important to understand that John may have a series of visions in one chapter, and then another set of visions in the next chapter which go back and provide a different perspective of the previous visions.

Amillennialists, rather than seeing Revelation 20 as a vision of events following in chronological order after those events in Revelation 19, believe the visions of Revelation 20 return the reader back to the first of the Church age. Instead of being in chronological order, Revelation 20 parallels with what has been previously revealed, so that the millennium described in 20:1-6 is taking place contemporaneously with other earlier chapters in Revelation. For instance, William Hendrickson, an amillennialist who wrote a popular commentary on Revelation called More than Conquerors, suggests Revelation 20 parallels with the events described in Revelation 12. When the reader understands the manner in which the book of Revelation fits together, it can be understood why amillennialists believe the 1,000 years are symbolic, rather than literal.

The thousand years described by John is only found here in Revelation 20. When the Scriptures are searched, Revelation 20 is the only passage which speaks of Christ "reigning for a thousand years." This passage is found in only one book of the Bible, which is heavily symbolic, and the author builds his book upon the heavily symbolic prophetic literature of the OT. Thus, it is highly unlikely that the thousand years John relates in his book is meant to be taken as a literal thousand years and it must be viewed as symbolic.

The binding of Satan represents a victory over the powers of darkness by Christ at the cross. The idea of Satan being bound is not a literal binding in the sense of being restrained in some spiritual prison called the abyss. Rather, the expression "Satan was bound" is taken figuratively to mean he has lost a certain amount of authority he once possessed. Turning back to Revelation 1:18, Jesus, due to His victory on the cross, now has authority over death and hades. This realm was once the sole dominion of the devil, but Christ's death for sinners and His Resurrection for their justification, has changed the situation. As it says in Matthew 16:18, Christ's authority in His Church overcomes the gates of hell [Riddlebarger, 211].

Now, this is not to say Satan does not oppose Christ and the Church. The amillennialists vehemently argue that dissenters to their view wrongly conclude this binding eliminates any working by Satan. The current state of wickedness in the world demonstrates otherwise. What Satan can no longer do, however, is "deceive" the nations. In other words, Satan cannot hinder the gospel from going forth in the world to bring men to salvation [ibid, 212].

The "first resurrection" in Revelation 20:4,5 is the spiritual resurrection of regeneration. Amillennialists do not believe that John meant to convey the idea of a physical resurrection from the dead when he writes about the "first resurrection." Instead, John has in mind regeneration, or a spiritual resurrection from the spiritual dead, what happens when a person is "born again."

Amillennialists make this case based upon a couple of important arguments. First is the Greek word protos, translated as "first" in the phrase "first resurrection." John, it is argued, is not speaking to first, in the sense of first in a sequential series, but rather first in a contrast between differences. In other words, he is contrasting different resurrections and he uses the word protos to indicate difference of kind with the resurrection that follows [ibid, 218]. John writes similar terminology in Revelation 21:1 with his use of protos that contrasts the new heaven and new earth with the old. Then secondly, in John's gospel, the apostle records in chapter 5:24, 25 the words of Jesus when He likens spiritual life to crossing over from death unto life. What is clearly understood to be a spiritual resurrection.

Then there are a couple of arguments not particularly found in Revelation which I need to reference.

First, a literal thousand years means millions of resurrected saints are living among millions of unresurrected people. Such a notion is perceived as just being too weird that it has to be unbiblical. What's the purpose of God's glorified saints living among people who still remained in a fallen state?

Second, a literal thousand years implies a millennial temple is built as described in Ezekiel 40-48 implementing real sacrifices for atonement to cover sin. This is a regression back to the old economy before Christ who, according to Hebrews, took away sin once and for all. Even if these sacrifices are taken as being a memorial, why is there a need for such sacrifices when the true lamb of God who took away the sins of the world is present among all men?

Now, there may be some additional arguments, but these are the main ones I have encountered in amillennial apologetics. With my next post, I want to outline postmillennialism.

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Sources


Trevor Craigen, A Preliminary Critique of Contemporary Amillennialism, (on-line paper).

Robert Duncan Culver,
Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical. (Christian Focus: Great Britian, 2005).

Anthony A. Hoekema,
The Bible and The Future. (Eerdmans: Grand Rapid, MI, 1979).

Charles Powell,
Progression Verses Recapitulation in Revelation 20:1-6: Some Over Looked Arguments. (on-line paper).

Kim Riddlebarger, The Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End-times. (Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, MI, 2008).

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Ultimate Youth Pastor

I needed a quick post to keep the blog coals glowing until I can put up longer stuff next week.

Phil came through for me:

The Ultimate Youth Pastor

I think this video mocks every imaginable, current day youth evangelist motif.

I particularly like their take on Louie Giglio and the "head of Jesus bigger than five galaxies."

Personally, my reaction would be exactly like that bearded guy.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Different Presidents.





The blogger who posted this video has an extended comment about it at his blog which places these two events in more of a context. They are helpful for clarification, because I want to give Barry a fair shake. None the less, the video only serves to endear Bush the Second to me even more.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Resolved Messages

The MP3 messages from the Resolved Conference are available on line.

You may have to do that annoying registering an account thing, but once you set it up, the sermons are free. It is my understanding that John's message called The Sanctifying Shepherd is an antidote to the Mark Driscoll fans who think his ministry is where the Christian pulpit is headed. Those who remember the recent "controversy" over John's blogs about the Song of Solomon, may find it encouraging.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

On atheism and lake monsters

Some readers may find this post a bit odd; certainly out of the ordinary from what I usually post. Suffice it to say, I have a fondness for cryptozoology. You know, the pursuit of unknown creatures like Bigfoot and sea monsters. I have an article that is regularly being visited by folks looking for stuff on the internet about Bigfoot.

During my holiday travels to Arkansas, up around Lake Champlain in Vermont, an amateur photographer took an unusual cell phone video of a rather large creature swimming in the morning light. Immediately, interest was stirred as to whether or not this is "Champ" the legendary aquatic dinosaur that even the Indian tribes around the lake have claimed to have witnessed for hundreds of years before even white men came to settle the area.

The media took great delight with reporting the video, simply because, ... well... you know, only kooks are suppose to believe in lake monsters. The video maker, a guy named Eric Olsen, went into hiding after his video became famous and news agencies from all over the place were wanting an interview with him. It looked to be the media story sensation of the summer, until David Carradine was found dead dressed in women's clothes.

Anyhow, an army of self-proclaimed cryptologists began analyzing the short video. Some of their work can be viewed, along with still shots of the animal, here:

"Champ Video": New Photos, New Look

The main website is also posting periodic updates.

My interest in the story is not only the video itself, but the reaction it has received from the so-called debunking skeptics organizations. Shortly after the video hit the news wires, self-appointed skeptic debunkers were also interviewed by the media. Some claimed it was probably a hoax of some kind, while others wondered why the video ends aburptly before the animal reached the shore line. Olsen says he was running out of memory on his phone.

Anyways, the main conclusion by the skeptic debunkers after one look: Its a moose calf swimming in the lake. Of course, when one actually watches the video, there are parts of this animal which appear much longer than a moose. And never mind the fact the so-called moose in the video doesn't have those big Dumbo ears sticking out of the top of its head like most moose do.

One of the big skeptics sought out for opinion was atheist, Joe Nickell, who writes for the Skeptical Inquirer and who has made a career out of researching paranormal activities like crying Virgin Mary statues and UFO sightings. He was one of the first skeptics to conclude the video was a moose calf.

My first reaction when I saw his name attached to this story was to ask why a paranormal investigator would be making comment upon a video that certainly isn't paranormal. Its some animal swimming in the lake. Moreover, lake monsters are not supernatural, but are suppose to be some misplaced marine animal living in a lake where such marine animals don't populate.

More than likely, however, the reason why Nickell and other skeptical debunkers race to discredit lake monsters is due in part by the fact lake monsters are often concluded by lake monster believers to be extinct animals like dinosaurs. In the case of "Champ," a plesiosaur. The conventional wisdom of evolutionists is that plesiosaurs died out like 70 million years ago. So certainly no creature that has been extinct for so long could possibly be living in a lake in Vermont.

But I am not troubled by such possibilities, and see it as sort of neat. That is because my worldview allows for the possibility of such animals being alive on the earth, because they didn't die out millions of years ago, but only thousands of years ago. The skeptical debunkers have a rather significant horse in this race. A 70 million year old dinosaur can potentially screw up your evolutionary, molecules-to-man beliefs. Thus, any other explanation is sought out in spite of overwhelming evidence. It's similar to how evolutionary paleontologists struggle to come to terms with soft dinosaur tissue found in T-Rex and Hadrosaur specimens. Soft tissue should not exist in dinosaur fossils, unless of course dinosaurs didn't die out when evolutionists claim they did.

Could the "Champ" in this video be a moose? Certainly it could. In fact, applying Occam's razor to the video, it is the most logical conclusion. Or is this fellow hoaxing everyone? That is a possibility, too, though his reaction to all the attention he is receiving suggests otherwise. I just think it is interesting how one's worldview totally shapes the way we look at evidence and the conclusions we draw from it. The skeptical debunkers, who glory in their commitment to "free thinking" and "free inquiry" and the like, are some of the most close minded when their presuppositions are challenged.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Don't tell me there's another one?

I guess Donald Trump turned traitor against Carrie Prejean and fired her from being Miss California. This is a reversal of his previous defense of her back in May when all the controversy began swirling around over her views on gay marriage.

Carrie Prejean's "firing" must have happened on our travel day, because I totally missed it. Besides, I don't normally follow the national sagas of beauty queens. However, because her original comments about gay marriage became international news, I devoted a post to her.

Actually, I was more perplexed how a bikini wearing, 21-year old sex-pot could get two full days on Focus on the Family to talk about her views on traditional family marriage. The way she, a 21-year old bikini wearer, was turned overnight into a champion defending marriage between only a man and a woman as if she had some profound wisdom to impart to the world was truly astonishing.

However, continued tensions between her and the Miss USA organization (it looks like some sleazy lawyer is involved with a lot of that tension), forced Trump to release her from being Miss California.

Now, a new Miss California has been named, some gal named Tami (with an "i") Farrell. And to the chagrin of gay marriage advocates, she holds the exact same views on marriage as her predecessor. In fact, when she was asked if she held similar views on gay marriage as Carrie Prejean, Tami (with an "i") responded: "Uh huh." That's a pretty decisive answer in my book.

Also, it turns out -- get this -- she's a Christian, too. Just like Carrie.

I have always thought Christians were under represented at beauty pageants.

Anyhow, she affirms the biblical view of marriage between one man and one woman. But, after doing a Google image search, she doesn't seem to affirm the biblical view of modesty, lust, and temptation.

One nugget of insight she did provide: In response to a question about how she felt about gay marriage, she astutely answered, "You know, I think it's hilarious right now that the world is turning to beauty queens for the answers for this."

Yep, it couldn't be any more hilarious.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Talk about Stupid Irony

Woman who missed doomed Air France flight dies in car crash

I don't mean to be glib, but wow. Talk about irony.

I recall seeing the modern remake of H.G. Well's Time Machine. The whole point as to why the fellow invented the time machine was to prevent his girlfriend from being killed. However, when ever the scientist fellow goes back in time to "rescue" his girl friend from her death, as it were, he would set into motion the circumstances that would cause her to die in some other fashion. If it wasn't a mugger shooting her, it was a car running over her, etc. And as one character notes, "Perhaps this is when she was suppose to die."

There certainly is a sermon illustration with this story. I am reminded of Hebrews 9:27, It's appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment. All men, no matter how much effort they may take to be healthy, safe, and prevent accidents, will die.

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Red Neck Carrier Landing

Other things we did in Arkansas:

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Still My Favorite D-day Story

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Studies in Eschatology [7b]

The Kingdom: Both Spiritual and Material

I have been considering the subject of the Kingdom of God (KoG) in my recent studies on eschatology. I believe this kingdom is eschatological, or in other words, it is still future. I also believe it is a geo-political kingdom, one which entails physical territory and physical subjects. Most importantly a restored, national Israel will be at the center of this KoG with Jesus Christ as its appointed, sovereign monarch Whose reign will radiate from Jerusalem to the entire world.

As I have been pointing out, those of the covenant reformed persuasion equate the KoG with the NT Church. Rather than seeing the KoG as a yet future reality, Christ's reign is said to be happening now over His people, the Body of Christ. The KoG is not a physical kingdom involving territory in the land of Israel, but it is a spiritual kingdom. Thus, those promises of a restored Israel in their land are not to be understood in such a wooden literalism as to imply a physical, ethnic nation returned to their land, but rather are to be understood in a spiritual sense, of Christ reigning over a spiritual body of believers comprised of people from all over the earth. They are Abraham's true seed (Romans 4), identified by their faith in God and those promises of making Abraham's offspring a great nation are being fulfilled as people from all over the world come to faith in Christ.

With my last post, I reviewed biblical passages stating how national Israel will be restored to their territorial land. With this post I want to review the idea that the KoG is more than just a spiritual kingdom, but it also has a material dimension to it.

The Kingdom: Spiritual and Material

There seems to be a conviction among many of the covenant reformed, particularly those of an amillennial perspective, that a strong dichotomy must exist between the material and the spiritual. When Adam fell, his sin plunged the entire world into sin. The earth and all that it contains has been placed under a curse. Our hope is not with a renewal of this sin cursed world, but it is looking forward to an entirely new heaven and new earth where righteousness dwells.

The distinction between the material earthly realm and the spiritual heavenly realm was articulated early in Church history by a variety of apologists. The Church Father, Origen, and then later the more prominent theologian, Augustine, whose theology still shapes the Christian Church to this day, were men heavily influenced by Greek philosophy, which was in vogue every where during their day. Greek philosophy shaped their hermeneutics, specifically Augustine's, when they interpreted the Bible. Augustine developed a two-kingdom model of theology that pits the KoG, or the NT Church in his thinking, against the Kingdom of Man in the here and now [Horner, 210-211, Vlach, 3-4].

As eschatological doctrine developed, it did so with this superior spiritual and inferior material division shaping the interpretation of various prophetic passages including a spiritualization of Revelation 20 in which the millennium is understood to be the age of the NT Church. Though it is true some modern day amillennialists have attempted to down play a sharp material-spiritual distinction, they do so at the peril of conceding their theological presuppositions to a premillennial perspective [Horner, 213, fn. 18]. An "earthly" material understanding of OT passages opens wide the notion of a messiah reigning over an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem with a restored Israel.

However, the subject before us is to consider some important passages raised by the covenant reformed that they argue present the picture of a spiritual KoG which in turn eliminates a material, physical aspect to the KoG.

Allow me to begin with probably the most often cited passage I know I have encountered, that being Christ's words to Pilate as recorded in John 18:36. Upon asking Jesus why the Jews had handed Him over to the Romans, Jesus told Pilate: My Kingdom is not of the world: If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight. The covenant reformed understand Christ's words to Pilate to be plainly saying His kingdom, what is presupposed to be the NT Church, is solely a spiritual one; a kingdom that is heavenly in nature and to be occupied by men and women who have received eternal life by their faith in Christ. Christ's kingdom, then, is contrasted to earthly kingdoms of this world and because Christ's kingdom is said by the Lord Himself to not be of this world, it then must be understood as being strictly spiritual in nature.

But, is that what the Lord is saying exactly? Rather than taking Christ to be contrasting a material, worldly kingdom with a spiritual one, what is again presupposed to be the NT Church, the non-covenant reformed believe Jesus is merely telling Pilate of the supernatural origin of His kingdom: It does not originate on this earth by earthly means like military conquest or man-made political wrangling. It originates in heaven and is established by supernatural, divine means. Thus, Christ's words do not reject the futurity of a coming eschatological kingdom of geo-political, material scope, but simply acknowledges the supernatural nature of this coming kingdom.

A second set of NT passages are also cited that seem to repudiate the physical reality of the future KoG by highlighting the spiritual dynamic of the Kingdom. I am thinking of Luke 17:20, 21 and Romans 14:17.

Luke 17:20, 21 is Christ's words to the Pharisees who mockingly asked Jesus when the KoG would come. He responded by saying the KoG does not come by observation, or signs, but rather the KoG is said to be within you. Romans 14:17 is Paul's exhortation to the Jews and gentiles who comprise the membership of the local churches in Rome, to put aside petty disagreements of what can and cannot be eaten by Christians. Instead, Paul writes, the KoG is about righteousness, joy, and peace.

It is argued these two passages strongly speak against the physical nature of the KoG. In fact, they clearly de-emphasize those tangible characteristics of "physicalness," like observation, visible signs, and eating, and lifts up spiritual qualities like an internal heart change, righteousness, peace, and joy. That is why these passages are said to be speaking of a spiritual KoG, which the covenant reformed understand as the NT Church.

There are a few things to say in response:

First, I believe there is more than enough adequate revelation clearly telling us the NT Church is not the anticipated eschatological KoG. In fact, I believe the overwhelming amount of biblical discussion on the KoG presents it as a material, eschatological kingdom distinct from the NT Church. However, I do believe it is important to note how the writers of the NT speak to the salvific certainty of the chosen subjects of the KoG. They are now, presently declared to be in the KoG simply by their individual identification with the person of Christ. It is similar with how all saints have been declared to be recipients of eternal life now, even though eternal life still awaits, or that God's people are sitting in the heavenlies with Christ, even though we currently exist in this realm. The same is with the subjects of the KoG. They exist presently as subjects of the KoG, though they still await its eschatological arrival.

Second, in Luke 17, Christ's words were to the Pharisees. They wanted a political Messiah who would over throw the Romans immediately. Though the eschatological KoG will certainly bring in an over throw of the world's earthly, man-made kingdoms, Christ's ministry at the time was not meant to establish that kingdom. His purpose was to gather the subjects for it through the means of the Church. The Church was unanticipated, hence the reason it is called a mystery -- something that was previously unrevealed. The KoG is inaugurated with the formation of the Church, a spiritual body of believers comprised of Jews and gentiles, hence the reason Jesus describes the KoG as being within you.

Paul's words in Romans 14 do not de-emphasize the future, material aspect to the KoG either, but rather they have similar emphasis on the current spiritual dynamic of the KoG as it is manifested in the Church. In this case, the spiritual unity and holy living which should characterize the people of God. Ultimately, the KoG is not about non-essential issues like what one eats or drinks, but it will be about righteousness and holiness.

Then lastly, probably one of the most significant passages of scripture to which the covenant reform appeal when challenging the idea of a future, geo-political KoG is Hebrews 11:8-16. The section of scripture comes from the great chapter in Hebrews on faith. It speaks of how Abraham dwelt in the land of promise, but he also waited for a heavenly city whose builder and maker is God. The covenant reformed point out that Abraham's faith is not in being permanently established in the land of Israel, but it was in a non-physical city, one which comes from God. This passage alone eliminates any notion of a future, physical KoG dwelling on the material earth. In fact, Gary Long makes this passage the 2nd key presupposition when one studies eschatology [Long, 8,9]. Thus, this section in Hebrews rejects any idea of a future, earthly millennium, or so says the covenant reformed.

But, does this passage in Hebrews really eliminate the idea of an earthly KoG? Barry Horner points out that Abraham's faith in a heavenly Jerusalem did not exclude a terrestrial location, but rather, his hope was in a kingdom in which heaven will be manifested on earth and residence there would be gloriously holy and permanent [Horner, 250]. It is not a country in heaven, but a country from heaven. Just as Jesus taught His disciples to pray, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, so even Christ anticipated a kingdom that was both spiritual and material.

In the next post, I wish to take up a brief survey of amillennialism, and follow with surveys of postmillennialism and premillennialism.

*******
Sources:

Barry E. Horner, Future Israel. (Broadman & Holman: Nashville TN, 2007).

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

Michael J. Vlach,
Platonism's Influence on Christian Eschatology. Unpublished paper found on-line here.

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Godlywood

Rich Christiano, who is featured in the report, gave me my first John MacArthur tape.
In fact, he gave many folks their first John MacArthur tape, including John's long time assistant, Lance Quinn. We had many a Bible study at his house when I was in college.

I am not a big fan of Christian movie genre, but it was nice seeing an old friend on ABC News.

Godlywood

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Visiting Blanchard Springs

One thing new visitors have to do when they come to my home town is take a 45 minute trip deep into the Ozark National Forest and tour Blanchard Spring Caverns. They're caves up near Mountain View, AR. Mountain View is like the Hill Billy version of Carmel-by-the-Sea in California: Lots of little shops and restaurants, but centered around a Hill Billy theme, army surplus stores selling hunter garb and flea markets with Elvis paraphernalia. I understand Grampa Jones from Hee Haw lived around Mountain View.

Anyhow, seeing that my brother's girlfriend had never been, we had to take her to see them.

We took our three boys with us, which is a bit of a risk, because the youngest is prone to have to go to the bathroom right in the middle of something we are doing. So, we made sure all of them, especially the littlest, went just immediately before we stepped onto the elevator and headed down 200 feet below ground to walk the caverns.

We had two guides with us: A gal I think whose name was Jenny who gave the lecture portion of the tour, and Tanner, who followed up the back of the group. I am certain of Tanner's name, because maybe 10 minutes after we start walking the cave route the littlest says, "I have to go potty; I have to go potty really, really bad." He had no qualms about interrupting the lecture to alert everyone with us of his dilemma. This is where Tanner came to the rescue. My wife told him she had to leave and he took them out. I thought we wouldn't see them until after the tour because they wouldn't be allowed back in, but right when we got to the end of the first route, we saw them winding their way through the cave to our group. I had to snap a picture.

My friend David Lee, whose family accompanied ours to the caves, and I, were discussing how there are many weird land formations throughout the U.S. that are called "Devil's" something or the other. Like Devil's Tower, or Devil's Postpile, or Devil's Sinkhole. We immediately started naming every cave formation devil's something or the other.

like Devil's battleship










Devil's castle









Devil's pipe organ









and Devil's soda straws










After the cave tour, we drove down to the back side of the caverns. The Caverns are formed by an under ground spring that deposits all the minerals to produce the formations in the cave, like iron, or as Jenny the tour guide says, "Arrn." A lovely waterfall comes jetting out the end, but sadly, we are told not to swim in the springs because the bat poop will make a person sick.

So, if you are ever down in our neck of the woods, pay us a visit and we'll take you to Blanchard Springs. We can stop by Jo Jo's on the way home and get a catfish dinner.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Another Milestone

Yesterday marked my official 4th year blogging. I started back in 2005 with an introductory post, and followed that up a couple of days later with some comments about former atheist, Anthony Flew, basically becoming a deist.

This past year, without any exception, my most visited post was one I did talking about youth evangelist, Louie Giglio, and his claim that God put the cross of Jesus in the laminin molecule as proof of His handiwork. As of last Friday when I checked the stats, I had around 4,500 visits to that article with an average person staying for about 3 minutes reading it. There are at least anywhere between 5 to 10 visits a day by someone in the world to that article. I did do another post on Giglio, where I reviewed his talk about outer space called Indescribable. With this presentation, Louie talks about how God puts cross shapes in star formations and galaxies. Interestingly, that one doesn't get visited as much as the one on laminin though I interact with similar claims of "evidence" for God.

Anyhow, here is to another blogging year and thanks so much to you regulars for stopping by.

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