When Will Christ Return?
A defense of Reformed A-millennialism
by Dan Harris
Taken from http://www.mountainretreatorg.net in compliance with their copyright.
When will Christ return? Will He return before or after the Great Tribulation? This is a question that has baffled many, and has been the source of much debate among Christian groups. Historically, there were as many, or more who believed in a post-tribulation return of Christ as believed in a pre-tribulation return of Christ. Today, with the tele-popularization of dispensational pre-millennialism by tele-evangelistic groups, including those of Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Ed Dobson, Jack Van Impe and John MacArthur, by the growth of the charismatic movement, by the popularity of the Scofield, and the Ryrie reference Bibles, and of late with the popularity of the Left Behind series of novels, little more is heard of the historic teaching of a-millennialism. Many would give a strange look to a Christian who would say that he does not believe in a Pre-tribulation rapture, nor in the future re-establishment of Israel as the people of God. Yet such was the doctrine of most of the great reformers, including Martin Luther, John Calvin, and William Tyndale, is presented in the Westminster Confession, and is the position held by most Reformed, Presbyterian, Reformed Baptist, and Lutheran churches.
Very few people today question the teachings of their churches or of their educators. People on the most part have a blind-faith in what they have been taught. Yet the Bible forbids that we should trust in what we are taught, especially when it comes to the Bible. Rather we’re to be as the Bereans and search the scriptures to see if the doctrines are true (Acts 17:11). “Study to show thyself approved unto God”( 2 Timothy 2:15 ).
Certainly the author would not suggest that all who adhere to the Pre-Tribulation, pre-millennial return of Christ fail to diligently search the scriptures. Certainly there are also those among the reformed groups that have accepted a-millennialism because their church teaches it. Yet pre-tribulation, pre-millennialism is gaining much ground among those who do not search the scriptures because of the tele-popularization of this teaching.
What are the differences between Pre-tribulation-Pre-millennialism and A-millennialism?
The main difference between Pre-millennialist (whether Pre-trib, Mid-trib, or Post-trib) and a-millennialist is their interpretation of Revelation chapter twenty.
In Revelation 20, there is a period of 1000 years (a millennium) in which Satan is bound, and in which the believers reign with Christ. The pre-millennialist believe that this era follows the return of Christ. Hence they believe Christ will return pre-millennially. The a-millennialist believe that the millennium is symbolic of the whole New Testament era. Hence they believe that Christ will return a-millennially, that is, there will be no future millennium era.
Which view does the Bible teach? Both of these groups will say that the Bible clearly teaches its view. How can both of these groups be totally convinced that they are correct? Certainly we cannot say that one of these groups is not composed of diligent Bible students. Certainly both of these groups have those among them that do diligently study the scriptures. The main difference between these groups is how they go about interpreting the scriptures.
The one group primarily interprets prophesy by looking at the New Testament as a parenthesis within the Old Testament prophesies, (hence the Old Testament prophesies are complete in themselves, and the New Testament is a separate plan of God that was not revealed in the Old Testament. [This is what they call the “mystery” of Ephesians 3:3-6 and Revelation 10:7] ). While the other group uses the New Testament in its interpretation of the Old Testament. This group believes that the key to interpreting Old Testament Prophesy is found in the New Testament. The first group is the Pre-tribulation Pre-millennialist, the second is the A-millennialist.
In this essay the author will show why he believes that the second group is preferable to the first. This will require a diligent survey of the scriptures. For this, one must put aside what he has been taught and search the scriptures for himself and see what the Bible teaches.
Certainly the author of this essay is not infallible. Hence one should not put trust in what is written herein, but should diligently check to see if this is supported by the scriptures. If it is not faithful to the scriptures, then it, along with anything that one has been taught which may not be faithful to the scriptures must be disregarded.
Here are reasons why the author believes in a Post-tribulation, a-millennial return of Christ:
Be very slow to accept an amillenialist’s characterisation of a premillenialist’s view.
Be very slow to accept a premillenialist’s characterisation of an amillenialist’s view.
The difference is much more than how people understand Revelation 20. It is rooted in views of the new covenant, ecclesiology, Israel, Romans 9-11, what constitutes literal interpretation, how people understand Daniel’s prophecies, etc, etc, etc.
Without having read the whole article, I’ll defer any further comment.
Jon – agreed. The whole counsel of God’s Word must be examined. Books have been written and blood has been shed. We will do our best to do neither of those here 🙂
Much better to read the Book that is written, and trust the Blood that is shed….
I agree with your 7:53 am statement, Jon. The Book that was written in no way supports the recently derived doctrine of a “pre-trib rapture”. One can read into the book such a view, but one cannot read from the book such a view.
Manfred, thank you. Excellent article. Very well articulated position.
Ah yes some actual contending, and defending! This is a good thing! I have yet to meet, in person any ways a pre trib pre mil who has actually done anything close to a bible study with just a bible! In fact the vast majority of them don’t “currently” read the bible like they “used to.”
On the other hand, I have not met an amil. who hasn’t done a fair amount of study on the subjcect. And most of them still “fellowship” in a “church” that teaches the pre trib view.
These are my personal observations of folks I have met personally and or know for years.
They also hold to those very sacred doctrines like don’t judge!
Look, I won’t convince anyone nor they me in an arguemental format, but perhaps we could encourage one another to search the scriptures for ourselves after imploring the Holy Spirit to reveal His Truth as we search the scriptures for our selves, without a man’s commentary?!?!
Paul after all, had to count his religious training at the hands of men as dung in order to see the Truth revelaed by the Holy Spirit!!
Jon – did you read the entire article or only the intro that I posted here?
The “preface” has me interested in the entire article. Manfred, I’m sure you wouldn’t have posted this if it didn’t make good sense. I’ll try to read it tomorrow!
By the way, will I see you at the SC this year?
Rev Limiter – I just finished reading the whole thing a few minutes ago and found that a.) it makes very good sense, and b.) I found a few notes for a couple of sermons I am working on 🙂
What is the “SC” that will happen this year?
Shepherds’ Conference @ Mac’s place!
Aha! Several of us went last year – don’t think we will make it this year.
Thanks for this post Manfred. I have become utterly convinced of the amillennial view being correct for a few years now, and thank God for the way He has delivered me from much confusion after rejecting wholeheartedly dispensational premillennialism.
As yet I haven’t had chance to read through the article you’ve linked to, but I will do so as soon as I have the chance to. On many occasions I’ve attempted to join the fight to contend for the truth concerning eschatology, and am sick to the back teeth of being told by premills who have not studied earnestly but fail to do so for some strange reason, that it is a subject that need not be argued over. There position is usually that of debating chronology, but the truth is there are so much more fundamentally important issues at stake here than mere timing. If that were all this was about, I would lose no sleep over it at all.
Keep up the good work my brother, and stand firm.
Thanks for your kind words, John. Have you read Kim Riddlebarger’s book, A Case for Amillennialism? He used to be dispensationalist, his book was instrumental in helping me see the case for this view. The more I study the more I am convinced it, as he says, does the least damage to the Scriptures of all the eschatological views.
Yes I have read Riddlebargers book Manfred, and in fact it helped a great deal in understanding more clearly where the issues lay. Incidentally, many of the issues he talks about in the book can be heard in his series of lectures called “Amillennialism 101” which are freely available on his website too: http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com
Since then however I’ve found there are no shortage of solid resources offering even more in depth evidence, including writing by A.W. Pink (who himself used to be a dispensationalist), many solid articles and studies through the website you mentioned (mountainretreatorg.net), and most of all, simply by testing what has been explained against the clear teaching of Scripture.
I understand the hesitance of people to examine their beliefs on this subject, for I was once one of them, but when you do examine them in the light of Scripture, you suddenly become aware how upside down things have been presented to us over the years, and by those we love and trust as teachers of God’s Word. When you approach this subject earnestly though, you suddenly begin to realise that a true amillennialist view is the only one which offers a Christ centred interpretation, and one which sits in harmony with the clear testimony of the New Testament writings on such things.
Thanks for your above article on the Amillennial defense on the “End times.” I have been a Christian since 1988 and have been raised to believe in the pretrib, premil view of the end times. It has only been a couple years now since I have rejected this view, and have now embraced the Amillennial view. What made me first question the pretrib, premil view was the doctrine of the “Rapture.” I examined all of the well known passages that refer to the rapture, and none of them support the despensational teaching on the rapture. The only Scripture that seems to be the strongest support for their view is 1 Thess. 4: 13-18. However, when compared with other passages of Scripture on the subject of the Lord’s Return, it points to the Second Coming of Christ, not the rapture as our dispensational brethren would have us believe. Keep me in prayer, for I have a lot of unlearning to do when it comes to the dispensational teachings I have been subject to all these years, Lol. As I have been restudying God’s Word on the “reformed” view on the end times, I still find myself thinking dispensationally. I sure in time that will change. Just keep me in prayer, Thanks.
I have Kim Riddlebarger’s book, “A Case for Amillennialism” as well as Anthony A. Hoekema’s book, “The Bible and the Future.” My former pastor told me this particular book by Hoekema has never been refuted by dispensationalists. As you probably guessed by what I just wrote, I presently attend a Reformed Baptist Church. Dear brother Manfred, keep up the good work in faithfully “Contending” for the faith. God Bless you.
Hi, Manfred. Haven’t read it yet, it’s on my to-do list. I’m very familiar with the a-mil position, though.
I don’t accept his characterisation in your excerpt. Specifically:
“The one group primarily interprets prophesy by looking at the New Testament as a parenthesis within the Old Testament prophesies, (hence the Old Testament prophesies are complete in themselves, and the New Testament is a separate plan of God that was not revealed in the Old Testament.”
I don’t know of any premil / pretrib person who would describe their beliefs anything like that. I’m sure there is one out there somewhere….
It makes me wonder whether he’s merely knocking down a straw man. But I haven’t had time to read it yet, between work, real (off-line) ministry, and slaying the all-too-frequent abuse of I Peter 3:15. 🙂
Jon – press on for the glory of God. I look forward to hearing back from you after you’ve read the whole article.
John – seems like we’ve been on similar paths 🙂 If you would like a DVD with 1,700 digital books, articles, and sermons in an organized library, drop me a line at sbrogden at gmail dot com and I’ll mail it to you. SDG!
Just some things to think about…It is important to understand that the conclusion in eschatology starts with our biblical framework…What I mean is that if we start with a dispensational theology perspective we have to end in a pre-mil rapture “left behind” theology. If we start with covenant theology perspective we often land in Amil, but there are also post-mil and some historic premil guys (which is completely different than a pre-trib rapture dispensational eschatology. The new book, Kingdom Through Covenant by Wellum and Gentry has a wonderful extended section in the first part of the book making the distinction between these two frame works (dispy and cov theo) and the flaws in each. Ultimately the major difference is found in how we interpret the promises to Abraham. Our interpretation of these promises in Genesis ch 12-22 is what will lead to our interpretation of Rev 20. Today it seems that people begin with Revelation and Mathew 24 and Daniel and create an eschatology out of the wrong order and then interpret Gen 12-22 in light of that eschatalogical position. It should be the other way around. We should study the whole Bible and let that inform us on Revelation and especially Rev 20. Revelation is full of Old Testament style symbolism and is a story of repetition…telling the same story in several different ways and not a sequential linear timeline of events leading to the return of Christ.
The whole crux of the issue is decided on how we view Israel. Is it ethnic Israel vs spiritual Israel…is it a separation of Israel and one people of God and the Church as a different people of God? Dabney, Scofield, and Ryle teach that there 2 different people of God and 2 separate plans of redemption. This can’t be supported biblically…but it is the major interpretive starting point for all of dispensational theology. This causes the need for Christ to have 2 returns…one for the rapture and one for the new Jerusalem. The idea of returning to temple sacrifices after the rapture is very strange because it discounts the work of Christ on the cross. Again, all based in how they read Gen ch 12-22.
Cov Theo sees Israel and the Church as essentially the same single people of God with one single plan of redemption. This creates a very simple single event at the end of the age and the transition into the age to come.
My encouragement is to study the Biblical Theology Framework of dispensationalism and covenant theology (there are other moderating views like new cov theo, and progressive dispy) and see how that interpretation of who is Israel affects our entire theological view.
Me personally, I am stealing G.K. Beale’s label, and calling my self a “2-age Already-and-not-yet millennialist,” which is a much better and more accurate descriptive name than “ammillennialist”.
in His grace,
atg – I also like the 2 age already/not yet label.
For the record – the Presbyterian view of covenant theology flattens out Scripture. The Baptist view does not. This book does a most excellent job explaining the difference (I’ve reviewed it here: http://defendingcontending.com/2011/03/19/covenantal-dichotomism-2/) http://www.freegracepress.org/?page_id=568
Covenant Through Kingdom (Wellum and Gentry) is a baptist perspective as well, which I love. I have some real issues with pure presby cov theo. I’d be more New Cov Theo, which is essentially the baptist version. Wellum, Gentry, and Schriener who are all brilliant authors/teachers on this subject come from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.
In the end, none of them are right…but some are closer than others! I’ll check out the books you mention.
I have Covenant Through Kingdom half-read, lent to me by a friend from church. Funny that Monergism refuses to carry it.
ATG, good post. Good emphasis on Genesis rather than Rev. 20. As you note, there are “flaws” (I might say “difficulties”) with both positions. I’d not be a dispy because I think it answers all questions well, but because I believe it answers more better. 🙂
The biggest weakness (for me) in the dispy position is the post-rapture sacrifices. The explanation is that they are memorials, comparable to the Lord’s Supper. I don’t find that explanation very satisfactory. But I’ve never found an amil explanation of Romans 11 and some other things very satisfactory, either.
“2 different people of God and 2 separate plans of redemption.”
I’ll choose box number 3, 2 different people and 1 plan of redemption (by grace through faith).
And now, I really will shut up on this thread until I’ve read Manfred’s link. Unless someone says something and I yield to temptation again and respond. 🙂
Not having read the full article here’s the lens and framework I am looking through and actively engaged in. This article may change some or all of this? I’ll let you know if there is any change after reading the full text.
Here’s the framework and activity then:
This is a vision given to King David yet to happen obviously seeing we are discussing how we get from here to there, Christ’ soon return to judge the earth:
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, The Lord reigns! Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord , for he comes to judge the earth. (1 Chronicles 16:31-33 ESV)
Here’s what the Apostle Paul was given about how things will up at the time King David writes about:
…making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:9, 10 ESV)
Now as for activity. You will have to judge just exactly what the talents are that you will account for when you too give an account to The Lord showing Him what you did with the talents given you? Did you bury your talent because He is a hard man:
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. (Ephesians 3:8-12 ESV)
Above was the Apostle Paul understanding of the warfare and with who and next following is Peter’s:
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! (2 Peter 3:11, 12 ESV)
At the end all questions about which interpretation was correct will be answered needless to say! 🙂
While I tend to, based on my searching and studying the Scriptures, disagree with what this article defends on the surface (and easily see textual evidence for Pre-trib Rapture), what of it I’ve read of it already has me wanting to read more. Regardless of my final opinion, I love to hear people’s perspectives on the scriptures and so look forward to reading the full 24 pages.
Thank you for linking to this as well as saying what you did in your last paragraph. Indeed, that is something that we must be very careful to do. We must get to that point where we understand that what man teaches, despite his best intentions, always has the chance of being wrong. It amounts to nothing and must be done away with if it disagrees with what we are taught by the Holy Spirit and learn from the scriptures.
God bless you all. 🙂
Couple of points –
1) While I am no longer pre-trib, I remain a pre-millennialist. From a personal perspective, I rarely use additional study guides certainly to begin with in my study of various doctrines. I would hold to more of a pre-wrath position as I believe the church will undergo the wrath of man and Satan, but not the outpouring of the wrath of God.
2) I have met plenty of brothers from a “reformed” perspective who are only amil because that was what they read about from guys like Pink, Sproul, etc. Yes, there are those from both sides of the camps who worship and fellowship with those who do not see eye to eye with them on points of eschatology.
3) Yes, there are many who run the “Don’t Judge” flag up the flagpole, but even your comments indicate a blanket statement that can easily be read as a judgment from your own perspective against those who see otherwise.
4) While I will not judge a brother who holds to an amil, or a post-trib, or even a pan-mil position, I would hope that the respect I offer that individual would be reciprocated to those who do not think alike EVEN AFTER years of studying the Scriptures alone.
5) I think your comment makes a point to others that there may not be any who have actually studied the Scriptures but I would disagree that this is not always the case. As you have stated, in the end, it is important that we encourage one another to be Berean Christians and study for ourselves, but I believe it is imperative that we do not castigate those who have studied and yet have come to a different conclusion in an area of doctrine that has nothing to do with our salvation.
Jon, I would probably be in agreement with a position closer to what you hold. My own position leans away from hyper-dispensationalism and more towards a position that is more historic dispensationalism. I still have questions that have yet to be answered by any author and even by years of study in both camps. The bottom line is that I do not see Israel = Church. Two separate entities connected by grace through faith alone. There are still prophecies that I find in Romans 9-11 that a clear reading has not shown me can even remotely end up in an amil or “reformed” position. As an aside, from my own extensive study of church history, reformed does NOT equal baptistic faith, nor does Baptist equal reformed. Many varieties in several camps and unfortunately many think that their version of “reformed” is the only one that is biblical and authentic in every way. Mind you, not all fit into this camp and there is some leeway and grace being shown in many quarters. Long may their tribes continue.
On another note, I also have “Covenant Through Kingdom” and am working my way through it. Some very good points and some I would disagree with. I would also recommend this book though to any desiring a perspective more from a Baptist perspective just realizing that not all historic Baptists fit within this camp though. As I have shared with others here, I do like the approach of New Covenant Theology and would recommend for further reading, author and pastor Fred Zaspel, whom I consider very solid and have corresponded with on a few occasions about various aspects of NCT outworking.
JungleMissionary – Only the covenant view developed by our Presbyterian brothers equates the nation of Israel with the church. A Baptist covenant view, rightly understood, sees some similarities but also many differences – all of which does not deny the truth that we are grafted into one olive tree by faith in Christ.
“grafted into one olive tree by faith in Christ” – fully agree!
This is a good discussion. To the dispensational folks…a question that has to be answer is this:
If you believe in a rapture and the re-instituted sacrifices and temple during the tribulation period, what is the purpose of the sacrifices and temple?
It seams logical that the sacrifices would be re-instituted for the atoning of sins of ethnic Israel (Jews) during the tribulation, right?
If so, then what is the point of the Cross of Christ and his atoning sacrifice if it isn’t efficacious for the ethnic Israel (jews) in the tribulation?
This means there is a dualistic redemption in dispensation theology. 1 method of salvation for the church and 1 method of salvation for the Jews.
If the Temple is re-instituted, why would God’s redemptive plan go backwards? Christ was the temple when he was on earth. Now the church is the temple. The next evolution of the Temple is the new Jerusalem that Christ ushers us into when He returns. Why would God want to return to the “building form” to make sacrifices when Christ’s work is complete. The sins of the Elect are already atoned for.
There is a disconnect here in how God’s plan of redemption is accomplished. Instead of the universality of God’s adopted people (the Elect, the Church, the Bride, the Israel of God) there great confusion.
Just some things to think through.
In His grace,
Good questions –
1) At the present time, I do believe in a rapture but not a pre-trib rapture. As I stated previously, I believe the church will undergo mass persecution in every country before they are taken out and protected from the outpouring of the wrath of God upon an unbelieving world.
2) Do I believe there will be another temple? Yes, I do.
3) Do I believe there will be sacrifices offered? Again, yes, I do.
HOWEVER, just because there will be a third Temple and sacrifices being offered does not equate to the a dualistic redemptive plan. I think this is where some within the amil or reformed circles may miss the boat. I, for one, do not believe that God will inhabit the new temple before He returns, and there is nothing that I am aware of that indicates that God will accept any offerings for sin. In fact, I do not think I have ever personally met even a pretrib, premil person who believed that.
4) As a person who holds to a historic premil position, I believe there is ONLY ONE plan of salvation – by grace through faith alone based on the redemptive work of Christ on Calvary. I believed and taught this even when I held to more of a dispensational viewpoint.
Again, just because God permits ethnic Israel to build another temple does not equate to accepting their sacrifices. There is nothing to indicate that He is obligated to accept anything from them. Even most of the dispensational folks I know believe that even ethnic Israel must during the times of tribulation accept Christ just like the Gentiles do.
Hope that helps clarify a few points for you.
TJM – Hey, brother. we’ve had this convo numerous times, but we get into more specifics each time and understand each other better.
Okay, 2 questions:
1) Just so I understand…what is your brief escatalogical time line? Are you Mid or post trib rapture than? What is the basic dispensational flow that you see? As I understand it, historic pre-mil doesn’t have a rapture in the timeline.
The traditional pre-trib would be = rapture (1st return of Christ), anti-Christ, 7 year tribulation, 2nd return of Christ with church, Satan bound, millennial reign for 1000 years, Satan released, Satan defeated for good, new Jerusalem establish and saints in glory with Christ forever.
2) What is the scriptural references as you see it for the re-instituted temple and re-instituted sacrifices. I’d like to look at them in regard to what the purpose of those sacrifices are. i.e. are they because ethnic Israel is apostate? (i think ethnic Israel aleardy is) or is it because they are trying to return to atoning sacrificial routine and eventually come to Christ as a gentile would have?
Doesn’t the teaching of the millennium say that Satan is bound for that time? How can that only figuratively apply to the New Testament era? Why then does James admonish believers to resist the devil if he is bound? He cannot get to them anyway.
I probably am just misunderstanding the a-mil position.
Rollins – during the millennium, Satan is bound from deceiving the nations, that’s all.
20 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
His being bound is not a state of absolute lock-up. He prowls around seeking to devour many, but is not able to deceive the nations until the end of this age.
Manfred, thank you for clarifying that.
My pleasure to be of service, Rollins. Blessings in Christ.
Ok ATG, for a brief synopsis of my current position in eschatology.
I would hold to a pre-wrath position. Historic pre-mil proponents do not all exclude a rapture, but would exclude a pre-trib rapture.
1) Matthew 24 and Daniel 9 – a great time of tribulation is coming. Prophecies regarding the abomination of desolation were never fully fulfilled even at the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD. 70. I read these passages as literal and not figurative in any sense.
2) A period of time whereby the wrath of man and Satan against ethnic Israel and the Christians will be unleashed. I would place the first few chapters of Revelation in this perspective, probably up through the end of chapter 6.
3) The Lord begins His return to this earth and calls His Bride (elect from every nation and age) to be with Him as He is coming to establish His earthly 1000 year reign. During this brief interlude when the Bride is absent, the wrath of God will be poured out upon the world as seen coming at the end of Revelation 6 on.
4) Christ steps on earth (literally returning just as He left – Acts 1) and establishes His earthly reign. During this time, Satan is bound (not in some figurative or allegorical way), but bound. To say that he is bound kinda, sorta, but not really, right now, I believe is disingenuous to the reading of the passages that speak of his captivity.
5) At the end of the 1000 year reign, Satan is loosed and gathers together one last army in a futile attempt to destroy God, loses, final judgment on all unbelievers commences, old earth and heavens are destroyed (2 Peter 3) and a new heaven and a new earth are created in which there will never be any more sin.
As for the temple –
Daniel 9, Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2, I believe all tie together very easily and show that there will be an attempt made to build a third temple. This will be permitted until the mid-point of the tribulation when the anti-Christ will step up to the front and demand personal worship of himself. He will fulfill the prophecies that speak of the abomination of desolation.
However, just because ethnic Israel establishes a third temple does not change in anyway the plan of salvation for either Jew or Gentile. They may seek to establish animal sacrifices, but I do not see in Scripture any indication that any offerings will either be permitted and certainly not accepted by God. The sacrificial system was completed when Christ died on Calvary.
During this time, I believe the remnant that will remain will be brought to the point where they will finally have the blinders removed and will see the truth of the Messiah who already came. Romans 9-11 makes it clear that those who were after the flesh will be grafted BACK into the tree. I do not see any reading of these passages that permit an allegorical perspective, nor do I see a complete combining of Israel after the flesh to the Church in the New Testament. The Church was a non-entity until established by Christ during His earthly ministry and was empowered at Pentecost. It was a mystery not revealed as seen from Ephesians.
This was/is one of the problems that I have with the Reformation. They did not fully break from Rome and sought to use Scripture in a way that allowed them to remain as close as possible to their origins. Luther, Wesley, Zwingli, Calvin and others (while used of God in many ways) did not go far enough. All of these even sought to persecute and put to death either Jews or those who held to Baptistic doctrine. Today, even many Baptists do not realize nor have studied true church history and have simply crawled into bed with those who are still too close to Rome and in some cases are crossing back over the line into the fold of the harlot. I think men like Spurgeon and Gill would be appalled today to see that the only thing that separates many in Baptist circles and Protestant reformation circles is the type of baptism they use.
Please let me know if this clarifies.
TJM, real quick…are you suggesting that those who hold to a Covenant Theological perspective are crawling into bed with Rome?
Nope, the issue was that many within reformed circles hold to teachings and doctrines that reveal their roots. Rarely is there a visible difference anymore between those holding to a historical baptistic position and those whose heritage came from a break with Rome.
I do not equate CT as being in bed with Rome, but I do believe that there is a scary similarity appearing within many reformed circles. Too many Baptists are trying too hard to be something that history shows they were never a part of.
The Baptists predate the Reformation as even pointed out by some within the RCC. Some of the reformers that we hold up as heroes were in the forefront of persecuting and even approving of the martyrdom of people holding to a baptistic firm of doctrine and belief system.
Now, many of the same elements found in reformed circles resemble the same elements of the RCC. I shudder now as I read even the varying strains of the Lord’s Table being bandied about within reformed circles. I see the term sacrament being used unwisely and the teaching that there is some form of grace that is obtained or confirmed in some mystical way upon the believer. It is not a large step from there to the teachings of the Lutheran and RCC churches.
ATG, I have seen firsthand the results of sound evangelicals and Baptist brethren trying to hold hands with all who look similar to themselves. England today is a sad example of such an attempt. Now the UMC, the Reformed Church, Presbyterians, and even many Baptist churches are now being courted by the Anglicans who are in turn being wooed by the RCC.
Please feel free to query any areas that I have not made clear.
I guess I’m not sure how you moved from eschatology to comparisons with the Roman Catholic Church. Clearly there are huge problems in the American/UK church and influence by Anglicans, Catholics, liberals, you name it. Plus there are way to many labels passed back and forth trying to classify everyone.
Regardless of similarities with other denominations, cults, or religions, we should simply deal with the Word. Comparing an Amil/CT position to Catholicism doesn’t make it wrong just because there may be comparisons made…meaning it shouldn’t be discounted because some people with bad theology also see it a similar way. All the TV televangelists are Dispensational and hold to a very similar view as you do, but that doesn’t make dispensationalism wrong because of its associations. Either would only be wrong or right based on biblical evidence and solid hermeneutics.
Actually, dear friend, my position is not one of dispensationalism, and I would actually disagree quite adamantly that “all the TV televangelists hold to a very similar view” as what I do. That would be a gross characterization of my position seemingly because it does not line up with an amil/CT viewpoint. I think we have had enough conversations in the past for you to know better than to characterize my position and theology with that of TV televangelists. I would encourage you to come up with just one televangelist that would adhere to a position similar to mine.
Secondly, I thought I made it clear that I was not equating Amil/CT position with the RCC. I was comparing some aspects of what is seen and found in some reformed circles with what is found in the RCC church.
Finally, your comments have not addressed some of the concerns I have shared. These things have been of grave concern because I am worried that we may be so intent on proving that we are reformed that we might be accepting more than we bargained for.
In Christian love and grace,
Mark – TJM
Man I appreciate both of your discussion! Mark, I can see your points and ATG I can see your line of questioning. So often, we take the extreme view of the others position and in that we need to be careful. I appreciate both of you and your thoughtful answers and questions. Further I see a love for our Lord even as we see through a glass dimly. Thanks for helping me with your perspectives as I work out my own salvation with fear and trembling. This is a profitable defending and contending you both are doing. And we are better for it.
Thanks for your words of encouragement. For the record, I certainly appreciate ATG and the help he has been in my own search for the truth. We still do not see eye to eye on some points, but we can still fellowship with one another. I also want to make it clear that I do not think I have all the answers – if I did, I would not have arrived at the point which I am currently. Continued study does pay off and my prayer is that we will all learn more of the Scriptures as the Bereans did, but do so in a way that shows to the world that we truly are different.
Mickey, thanks. 🙂
Brother, I guess I’m slow today. I’m just missing where you are going and what your concerns are. I agree with the concerns and personally don’t consider myself “reformed or calvinistic” in the strict sense of the words. I am simply in the baptist tradition with a doctrines of grace perspective and a Partial CT. 🙂 So when I think of all those who are claiming to be reformed and using certain labels on either side, I get grossed out. There are many many many problems in our churches today. I don’t disagree with anything you stated above in regard to the influences of Catholicism, anglicanism, lutheranism, etc.
Regarding the televangelist comment…I read your description of your eschatology position above and I don’t see where if varies from a dispensational view. Maybe you can make that more clear for me since I can’t see it. You are reference Daniel 9, Mat 24, 2 Thes 2 for the anti-Christ and 70 weeks, etc…re-instituted temple…these are all distinctly dispensational.
I mean no insult in this, and you know my love for you as a brother, but I don’t know any televangelists that are not dispensational. The big names all believe in a similar perspective in the big eschatology pattern. Or, maybe I have totally missed the boat today and I’m not hearing what you are saying…which is very possible. It hasn’t been my best day. 😦
in the love of Christ,
LOL! Group hug!
By the way, I thought they were all now going to fix the world so their jesus could return? But what do I know…I have no tv in my living room nor cable to attach to it. (There is an old fat one down in the corner of the basement for occasional football games.)
But the bible on cd plays every day!
A wikipedia or Theopedia search of dispensationalism would show my position differs widely from “all televangelists.”
1) My belief in a millennium does not set me apart as a dispensationalist, even NCT proponents are found to hold to premillennialism.
2) I have already defined where I see the temple, not as an acceptance before God, but merely the fulfillment of a prophecy whereby God permits in His timetable, a temple to be rebuilt. This does NOT in any way, in my understanding, make for the acceptance of a sacrificial system which IS a perspective held to by many in dispensationalism.
3) The belief in an anti-Christ, the 70 weeks, etc. is not strictly one of dispensationalism – this is a mis-characterization of many within the reformed/amil/CT camp – kind of a one-size fits all, therefore, anybody who holds differently than us MUST be a dispensationalist!
4) I do not see that Israel once again replaces the true Church of the New Testament in a future age. I do see that a future remnant of ethnic Israel will have their blinders removed and they will place their faith in Christ alone. This is a full evidence of the covenant of grace being poured upon the physical seed of Abraham.
5) This view, I believe, presents a literal interpretation of the afore-mentioned passages as well as Romans 9-11, which cannot be overlooked and is a huge block or potential thorn in the side of the CT proponents.
6) There is ONLY one church and those who will be saved will be grafted into the tree. However, my point is that the OT ethnic Israel is not the same as the NT church. Again, I see the fulfillment of many prophecies in the church itself, but this in no way can equate to being the church/Israel.
7) Belief in a millennial age whereby Christ is literally reigning on earth also does not equate to dispensationalism. I do not see in Scripture that anybody born during the millennial age will be saved in any manner other than we are now.
To conclude, and without going over all the fine points of each position, I am probably somewhere between progressive dispensationalism and New Covenant Theology. Unfortunately, my position tends to get demonized and mischaracterized by both CT and dispensational adherents, normally because there is little room for grey shades on either side. A classic example is seen recently with Monergism Books refusing to carry the NCT book, “Kingdom Through Covenants.” Sadly, there is little actually in the way of debating as much as there is a broad brush painting what is not fully understood from either side.
By the way, to simply all who hold to a rapture or a millennial age as dispensationalists in a similar vein to televangelists would be the equivalent to what I used to do with CT proponents and label them all as replacement theologists or closet Catholics. Neither is true.
Yep, and in the car as well, Mickey. My girls really enjoy listening as well. The backing tracks make them easier to listen to for long periods of time. We just found a second set – one for car and one for home, and when I come home at night, my girls tell me some of the things they are hearing! Praise the Lord!
I think what you describe was my point above when I said that Amils aren’t wrong because they have similarities to Catholics and lutherans and Dispy’s aren’t wrong because televangelists are dispy’s. I wasn’t saying you are like a televangelist. I think we got on 2 separate tracks many comments ago and aren’t connecting. My point wasn’t to compare you to televangelists, but to question the comments you were making about being reformed and being influenced by the catholics…which I am still not really clear on why the convo changed into that vs. the discussion of eschatology.
The broad brush and the bunny trails are a form of straw man, and serve the user in button holing other beliefs into what then becomes a very black/white we they right wrong false paradigm.
This is receipe theology and the basis for denominationalism and it’s growth to 55,000 plus denominations…My personal favorites are “Penticostal Free Will Baptist” and African Methodist Episcopalian.”
When we consider the Lord’s prayer, “Father, that they would be one as We are One.” Strikes a startling contrast to what churchianity has become. So does the broad road verses the narrow road teaching, as well as their is but one Ekklesia that the gates of hell will not prevail against.
Scripture gives a complete picture of His Bride verses a false system Harlot that rides the back of a mystery beast system. We fool ourselves into thinking that only the church of Rome fits that description.
What Flee Babylon and I, and many others see is the error in the system and the great carnage that has resulted. To be sure, there are true believers inside this system of men, and that system would include home fellowships, Panera Bread fellowships etc. There also are false believers in all these fellowships as well.
In One Accord only happens as these true elect gather, regardless of where, including here, in His Name. Paul wrote letters to brothers and sisters, as well as Timothy, Peter, Jude, James, John etc to those brothers and sisters they were not currently in physical fellowship with, encouraging, correcting, rebuking, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
To be sure, there was much error and departing of the faith thanks to the seeds satan planted which grew an early denominationalism, and heresies…I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Diotrophese…but it was those elect who throughout history who were and are of Christ Jesus as Lord that kept the faith, usually at great cost unto His “witness protection plan” aka martyrdom.
There is a famine in the land today of His Word. Does anyone doubt that? I’m not sure that 1 in a thousand has ever read the scriptures through once…in their lives! I’ve been to many “christians” homes over the past 25+ years. These folks come from all denominations, and most have had garage sales! I see first hand the books they are selling, and they truly are every wind of doctrine!
I’ve seen CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien and the Harry Potter books on their shelves and in their sales, and many are Baptist, Reformed, and other conservative denominations. Most of them are elders in their churches…paid and non paid. Lots of Beth Moore stuff too! Who afterall keeps the christian bookstores open, and many have them inside their churches next to the “Jehovah Gyro’s cafe of Common Grounds.”
We’ve been where many of you are, though most of you have never been where we are. It was said in an earlier post about people like us being nomads, and not wanting to come under authority and the likes. Truth is sitting in pews and being spoonfed is easy. Walking the Narrow Road is tough, particularly walking in the wilderness! Ah but when you are reduced to Christ as Lord! Dependant on the Holy Spirit to gather you with fellow saints as He leads…have you not heard of the state church and the underground church in China?
Paul was about 3 years alone with the Holy Spirit before he was sent out to preach the Good News!
It takes but a moment to come out of Babylon…but it takes much longer for the things of Babylon to be removed from you! But He must increase, and I must decrease and that is a good thing. Yet it wasn’t happening in a system where men’s increase is celebrated and sought after!
Come out of her my people, for her sins have reached to heaven, lest you be caught in her destruction, and behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man answer and come out, were not written to the church of Rome only, you know.
We have a great love for Him and His Ekklesia. We have great passion for those who are lost, and those who have a form of godlyness but deny His Power to change them. We value one anothering greatly, and we long for the true fellowship of the saints, this is why we hate the false and seek to warn others of the train wreck that is coming to the system.
When we read of the merchants of the world viewing in awe and sadness we can see that it is the great merchants of the world who seek to bring on a one world government that makes the rules. When we see the combination of government and corporation we remember Facsism in eEurope and see it now here in America. With a 1.4 quadrillion global debt due to toxic mortgages, and paper money instead of gold and silver, we see the money changers are still at it. When we see the global ecumenical movement lead by Warren and others, we see the synagog of satan is still active. The whole world is under the sway of satan to this day!!! When we see preachers preaching a great end time revival, and christians fixing the earth so that a jesus can come and reign we see the great falling away, and the accepting of another jesus. When we see church websites accepting credit card donations even unto putting bank machines within their buildings…when we see banks financing building programs to the tune of millions of dollars in all these buildings, and hear that god has blessed us with a great low variable rate on the mortgage to build the new youth center… When we see NGO money flowing in to help make the payments, and elders lives and lifestyles not at all resembling the prophets and Apostles who gave up all to follow Him as slaves. We see the church whoring with the world just like the Jews of old, and know judgement is soon at hand, so we warn.
Cain’s sacrifice was not good enough then, and it is not acceptable today either! But His patience has been taken as license today… You take a moment and think back to your childhood and the saints of that era…the teachers of that era…the leaders of that era…the praying through of thast era…and you tell me how far we have fallen, such that sin is acceptable, and shame is lost under satans chant of do not judge! We are to judge and will judge rightly by the Holy Spirit, but will be judged wrongly by the religious. Scripture says this! And those religious will offer you up for earthly judgement while thinking they are doing god a favor!
[I spotted the following on the web. Any reactions?]
Pretrib Rapture Pride
by Bruce Rockwell
Pretrib rapture promoters like Thomas Ice give the impression they know more than the early Church Fathers, the Reformers, the greatest Greek New Testament scholars including those who produced the KJV Bible, the founders of their favorite Bible schools, and even their own mentors!
Ice’s mentor, Dallas Sem. president John Walvoord, couldn’t find anyone holding to pretrib before 1830 – and Walvoord called John Darby and his Brethren followers “the early pretribulationists” (RQ, pp. 160-62). Ice belittles Walvoord and claims that several pre-1830 persons, including “Pseudo-Ephraem” and a “Rev. Morgan Edwards,” taught a pretrib rapture. Even though the first one viewed Antichrist’s arrival as the only “imminent” event, Ice (and Grant Jeffrey) audaciously claim he expected an “imminent” pretrib rapture! And Ice (and John Bray) have covered up Edwards’ historicism which made a pretrib rapture impossible! Google historian Dave MacPherson’s “Deceiving and Being Deceived” for documentation on these and similar historical distortions.
The same pretrib defenders, when combing ancient books, deviously read “pretrib” into phrases like “before Armageddon,” “before the final conflagration,” and “escape all these things”!
BTW, the KJV translators’ other writings found in London’s famed British Library (where MacPherson has researched) don’t have even a hint of pretrib rapturism. Is it possible that Ice etc. have found pretrib “proof” in the KJV that its translators never found?
Pretrib merchandisers like Ice claim that nothing is better pretrib proof than Rev. 3:10. They also cover up “Famous Rapture Watchers” (on Google) which shows how the greatest Greek NT scholars of all time interpreted it.
Pretrib didn’t flourish in America much before the 1909 Scofield Bible which has pretribby “explanatory notes” in its margins. Not seen in the margins was jailed forger Scofield’s criminal record throughout his life that David Lutzweiler has documented in his recent book “The Praise of Folly” which is available online.
Biola University’s doctrinal statement says Christ’s return is “premillennial” and “before the Tribulation.” Although universities stand for “academic freedom,” Biola has added these narrow, restrictive phrases – non-essentials the founders purposely didn’t include in their original doctrinal statement when Biola was just a small Bible institute! And other Christian schools have also belittled their founders.
Ice, BTW, has a “Ph.D” issued by a tiny Texas school that wasn’t authorized to issue degrees! Ice now says that he’s working on another “Ph.D” via the University of Wales in Britain. For light on the degrees of Ice’s scholarliness, Google “Bogus degree scandal prompts calls to wind up University of Wales,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “be careful in polemics – Peripatetic Learning,” and “Walvoord Melts Ice.” Also Google “Thomas Ice (Hired Gun)” – featured by media luminary Joe Ortiz on his Jan. 30, 2013 “End Times Passover” blog.
Other fascinating Google articles include “The Unoriginal John Darby,” “X-raying Margaret,” “Edward Irving in Unnerving,” “Pretrib Rapture Politics,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrets,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” and “Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism” – most from the author of “The Rapture Plot,” the most accurate documentation on pretrib rapture history.
Can anyone guess who the last proud pretrib rapture holdout will be?
(Postscript: For another jolt or two Google “The Background Obama Can’t Cover Up.”)
Light and not heat as they say. I have done my own personal research. I have what is original to me in that I have combined the two seemingly irreconcilable views. I am reformed but I reject the per-tribulation rapture but also reject a millennium. I have some questions for all parties.
Matt. 13 The angels gather the tares and cast them into the fire first. How can that be the rapture? The age to come is the New heaven and new earth.
I have looked over the writings of the Apostle Johns students who speculated on the identity of the yet to appear anti-Christ. Sorry Preterists. Further In Dan. Edom and Moab ESCAPE from the rule of the anti-Christ. But Rome ruled that region during 70 AD.
When did the lion start eating grass as they did in Eden? When did the asp become a pet for a child? Is that all dismissed as allegory? Better just cross out huge portions of Zec. and Isa.
How do you rule and reign WITH Jesus in His physical absence?
Then there is the Satan himself. God decrees cannot be thwarted. Satan is sealed for the millennium for the sole purpose of preventing any Satanic deception of the nations. Yet quite obviously Satan is currently deceiving the nations. God alone can unseal what He has had sealed. Satan will be sealed for the millennium. So this cannot be the time of the millennium.
The purpose of sealing Satan, as I see it is to illustrate the total depravity of man. Even with Satan sealed and Jesus on the throne with Eden restored with Christians in glorified bodies they will still hate God by the millions. When Satan is unsealed they will be chomping at the bit to join him.
God did make unconditional covenants with physical Israel that were never fulfilled, period. It is cheating to equivocate on the identity of Israel. Every Jew must be saved just as every other human must me saved. There is no other name.
This is a work in progress but I am serious. It is also fun to raise these questions.
Manfred, here’s a start.
1. The parallel between the trumpets in Joshua and the prophetic trumpets is forced. There is absolutely no Biblical evidence that these are to be tied together the way he has, and the City for which we wait is never compared to Jericho in Scripture, as he has done.
2. The time of the Great Tribulation is most certainly a time of God’s wrath, and Scripture calls it such repeatedly. The wrath of God is not only eternal judgment, but also temporal judgment upon people and nations. His discussion on this point is extremely poor. I Thessalonians 5:9 is not a strong point for a pretrib rapture, as some claim, but he’s answered it very poorly.
3. He argues based on the “last trump” that this is the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11 and the trumpet of Matthew 24:29-31. Note that in I Thessalonians, we are called up into the clouds, but in Matthew the angels are sent to gather the elect. There’s at least some basis for doubting that these are talking about the same trumpet.
4. He argues that “elect” in Matthew 24 must be the church. “Elect” is a general term that certainly includes Old Testament saints as well. No pretribber would deny that there will be people saved during the Great Tribulation, and that some of them will survive that time period, and that these people will be the elect who are living upon the earth at that time.
5. It is silly to argue from the use of the second person in Matthew 24 that these are references to the church, rather than to Israel. Yes, the disciples are part of the church. They are also part of believing Israel. They are also part of the elect. Which group is in view? The elect. This argument will have no weight for anyone who sees a distinction between believing Israel and the church. For those, Romans 11 inclines us to see Israel in this passage. There is no reason we shouldn’t.
6. He demonstrates the similarity between Matthew 24 and the trumpets in Revelation. I agree. But there are dissimilarities, as noted above, between Matthew and I Thess. 4.
7. Lot and Noah. He argues from these that there will be saved and lost living together at the time of Christ’s second coming. No dispensationalist pretribber would deny it. All would teach that there will be saved people during the tribulation.
8. “The last day.” “Day” has a generic use in Scripture to refer to a period of time. We see this over and over again. Look through the Old Testament prophetic Scripture and you see “in that day” used repeatedly. “In that day” five cities in Egypt will speak the language of Canaan, there will be an altar in Egypt, they will come from Assyria and Egypt to worship at Jerusalem, in that day I will break his yoke from off your neck, etc, etc. Are these all referring to a single day? Obviously not. Nor is “the last day” necessarily referring to anything more than the time of the end.
9. “Two ages.” It is as mistaken to slavishly translate aion as “age / period of time” as it is to slavishly translate it as “world.” If one looks at how it is used, it refers to a system of thinking, a values system, a philosophy. There are two. One is the one we live in, the other is the one we live by. This proves nothing.
Thus far (and I’m only a third of the way through), he’s put his finger on two things that are problematic for pretrib. The first is the “last trump.” If this is different from the trumpet of Matthew 24 (and it seems to be, and pretribbers would hold it is), why is it called “last”? Possibly because it closes the age, it is the trump of the last day of that age.
The second is the frequent pretrib use of I Thess. 5:9 as a proof-text. There is absolutely no way to prove that “wrath” here is referring to the Great Tribulation, rather than to final (eternal) judgment. Unfortunately, he tries to claim that it MUST be referring to final judgment, when that is certainly false.
I have not made dispensational prophetic interpretation a major focus of my studies, but so far I’m not finding it hard to answer this. Hopefully, I’ll get to more of it later.
Jon – thanks for your partial review/reply. From what you’ve written thus far, it appears to me that your presuppositions are your bedrock, keeping you from seeing the actual arguments made in the article. I’ve sat too many years under preaching that aligns with your position and I know the arguments well. And they no longer hold water. Books have been written on this topic alone – I do not think either of us will convince the other here on this blog.
The types of the Old Testament clearly have relevance to point us the complete revelation we now have. The 7 trumpets of Jericho must have been an encouraging memory to the saints John wrote in Rev 8 – 11, as the 7th trumpet in both books display the glorious victory His people in Him. The foolish things of the world are used by God to crush His enemies and brings His people to victory. To say “the great tribulation” is equal to God’s wrath is an assertion without merit. Saints in all ages have faced tribulation, some of it called “great” in Scripture. God’s wrath is always focused on His enemies, while He promised trials and tribulation for His saints, which He sues to conform us to Christ. And that’s all I’m have to say about that.
For any pre-tribbers who want to test their presuppositions, here’s a nice article to help ya out: http://www.reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/rapturecorrected.htm
Manfred, you are right about presuppositions. Neither of these articles deal with Romans 10-11. It is a nonsense to say that Paul is not talking about national Israel in these chapters. (Note 10:1-3, 19-21; 11:1, 7, etc). And this discussion of national Israel speaks of a restoration.
That is my presupposition, not because I’ve just presupposed it or been taught it, but because I’m persuaded the Scriptures teach it, is that there is a national restoration coming for Israel. I believe there are significant indications of that in the Old Testament, some in the Gospels, indications of Israel-as-a-nation in Revelation, and that it is explicitly taught in Romans. Much of that could possibly be understood in an amil context, but not Romans 10-11.
I see end-times prophecies in that light, and I find it extremely hard to reconcile an amillenial position with it. I could see other variations of a premil position, but not amil.
The amil and premil positions are both coherent ways to understand the prophetic Scriptures. You can cite “evidences” such as in these two articles, but they will mean nothing, because the premil / dispensational position encompasses those, and sees them as fitting perfectly well within the prophetic framework. The premil guy can cite “evidences” and they will mean nothing to you, because the amil position encompasses them, too, and sees them as fitting perfectly well within the prophetic framework.
I am not saying both are right. Only one can be right (though it is possible that neither are entirely right). But both are coherent. You’ve got to go back to the foundational principles underlying the two views. If Israel and the church are one, if there is no national restoration of Israel, then I would be amil. It is a coherent position if that is true. If that is not true, then I would be premil. It is a coherent position if the church/Israel distinction is true.
That’s why I generally try to avoid the debate. People end up debating the proof texts, but the proof texts can be understood either way. And usually, people come up with the “silver bullet” that shoots down the other side, and they don’t actually even understand the other side, and the other side looks at them as if they are out of their mind to think that proves anything. And it too often just ends up in conflict about prophetic timelines, which is not even the point of prophetic Scripture.
And yes, I know the verses used to equate Israel and the church. But while on the surface they would support the amil position, I can understand them from within a premil framework, but I can’t understand Romans 10-11 from within an amil framework. So as I said previously, while I don’t believe dispensationalism answers all the questions well, I’m persuaded it answers more of them better. And so I end up a dispensationalist of some sort, and view prophetic Scriptures through that lens.
I would like to know whey DefCon contains a contributor who declares that Dr. John MacArthur teaches heresy, whilst DefCon contains many wonderful resources on this man who is a tremendous blessing to the Church.
Personally, I am in agreement with much of what you have stated. The problem is that both camps often come to the table with their own set of presuppositions based on what they have read or taught. Neither the dispensational side (any version), nor the amil/CT position are ironclad. There are areas neither side can adequately answer from a straight reading of the Scriptures.
We do not consider MacArthur a heretic, nor do most of us consider him to be teaching heresy simply because he holds to an historic dispensational viewpoint.
This is an area where there should be a showing of grace to those who may differ in points of eschatology. I have read every comment and the post which you referenced and sadly, I found many characterizations and misrepresentations of a position that does have aspects which can certainly be found in Scripture.
Matt & Mark, when I read that article, I remembered my first comment on this thread:
“Be very slow to accept an amillenialist’s characterisation of a premillenialist’s view.
Be very slow to accept a premillenialist’s characterisation of an amillenialist’s view.”
If you characterise someone else’s view negatively and in a way that they would reject as an adequate description of their view, if you say that your characterisation is what they believe / teach, the world calls it “a straw man argument.” But I’m persuaded that God calls it “bearing false witness.”
It is absolutely absurd that a soteriological Calvinist would write that article against another soteriological Calvinist. Both believe that if Israel does not repent before the rapture / return of Christ / any other point in history, it is because they >cannot<. Both believe that the time and manner of anyone's repentance is predestined.
His whole argument just shows he hasn't applied his own understanding of election to his evaluation of Mac's teaching. Either he's not a Calvinist or he hasn't successfully understood what is being taught but is firing away anyway.
This issue is being addressed. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. I am in agreement with TJM that DefCon does NOT view John MacArthur as teaching heretical doctrines.
Just for the record, as a contributor to Defcon, I also do NOT believe that MacArthur is teaching heresy either even though I do disagree with his eschatology, (especially if dualistic redemption is in there), and his stopping at 4.5 or 4.75 points of Calvinism due to his limited atonement position.
For the record: Dispensationalism is NOT just about eschatology. It is a systematic theology and hermeneutical grid that affects pretty much everything about one’s view of the Bible. Look for a post in the morning explaining why it ain’t biblical.
Manfred, I agree completely with you on this last comment. I believe it is a seriously misunderstood reality in the church today. Dispensationalism is a recent and entire biblical theological framework that affects every aspect of interpretation founded in the 2 people of God dualistic redemption concept…and I disagree with it completely as well.
Should be an interesting read, especially for a dispy like me 🙂
I pray in Christ that it edifies all God’s children. I must say that I’ve been collecting Reformed and Baptist documents for 16 months and have much history and theological documentation on dispensationalism (as well as other non-compatible views). I post these not to stir up trouble, but to provoke Christians to humbly think about God’s Word more than hold on to whatever presupposition or tradition we’ve come to love and cherish. I’ve been broken of several of mine over that last few years.