Saturday, October 31, 2009

Reformation Weekend

We had a little scare last Saturday. Our water heater began leaking on the floor. If you notice the space in the picture, there just is not room to put a new one back in the same place. So we had to go online and purchase a tankless water heater. We managed to limp along during the week hoping the equipment would arrive before the weekend by sticking pans underneath to catch the water.

On Thursday afternoon the equipment arrived. So you can guess what I did that night and Friday morning in order to make certain we were able to get away for the Weekend.

In Goodland, my daughter noticed some funny signs. I guess vacuums really suck at this car wash.

Here is some wise advice on the other side.

Apparently someone had too much to drink.

Here is Pastor Fred Malone. So far we have listened to his messages on Scripture alone, Grace Alone and Faith Alone. Pastor Malone is very gracious. He was of great encouragement to several of us, who desire to see churches come back to the teachings that flow from Scripture Alone. Although Pastor Malone was doing an overview of the topics, he didn't sidestep issues either. He interacted with the Medieval Church's response to the Reformation and applied several of the historical lessons learned to some of the problems we are seeing in today's Evangelical church. Basically, we need a rediscovery of the Five Solas of the Reformation and all that entails.

Here is Pastor Glidewell (my pastor in the middle) and Pastor Brett Scollard of McCook, NE.

Paul Veal could have been in the picture as well, but for some reason he was not able to make it. You missed out man! :-)

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Reminder For This Weekend

Once again I am amazed at my pastor. This year's Reformation Weekend (Oct 30th - Nov 1st.) at First Baptist Church, St. Francis, will have as its guest speaker, Fred Malone.

A short bio from The Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies,
Dr. Malone is a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary with an M. Div. (1974) as well as Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Ph. D. (1989). He has served as pastor of First Baptist Church, Clinton, LA, since 1993. He also serves on the Founders Ministries Board and the Administrative Council of the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches in America. Dr. Malone has retained membership in the Evangelical Theological Society for many years. His publications include The Baptism of Disciples Alone as well as many articles. He is happily married to Deborah for almost 40 years, having has three grown children and three grandchildren.
He will be speaking on the Five Solas of the Reformation. If you are able to come, please do!

Click here for location.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Daves Highway

Here are some kids with some talent. Kuddos to the wife for pointing them out to me.

Now 9-Year-Olds Are Scoring Fancy Shots

OK, I thought that last goal was ridiculously crazy. I mean, I have been watching hockey a loooong time. I have even tried out for Mini-One-on-One at the very local level (I wasn't that good). Mini-One-on-One has been a staple of Boston Bruins hockey. I have never seen anyone pick up the puck on their stick to score. Yet here is a nine-year-old that does it. Watch the goalie. He is absolutely clueless.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Eschatology Forum part 2c

For those of you, who watched the Piper eschatology discussion, you might have noticed that Sam Storms conceded that "anastasis" always means bodily resurrection outside of Revelation. So being the nerd that I am, I decided to write to him and ask him about John 11:25 as well. He was gracious enough to give a quick response.
Thanks Howard. Another person also wrote and mentioned this text. I'll look into it. Blessings!
Since I know there are two of us (Pastor Paul and myself), I just have to wonder who else pointed this out. What is really interesting though is that if these really really smart guys have never considered John 11:25 as supporting the A-Millennial position, perhaps it is not as clear as it appears to me?

So I decided to go through the text again last night. Martha states that Lazarus will rise in the resurrection which she ties with "the last day". So obviously there is the resurrection in the age to come in which all things are made new. There will be the new heavens and new earth. The wicked will be cast out. The righteous will shine like the sun. The meek inherit the earth. In other words, all of the Old Testament promises will be realized.

Yet Jesus does something similar with His view on the "mystery of the Kingdom" throughout Matthew's Gospel. He speaks of a resurrection that begins with Himself. He states,
Joh 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,
Joh 11:26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"
Jesus speaks of a current resurrection that starts with Himself and those who believe in Him to also be resurrected now. This is strikingly similar to the "now and not yet" phases of the Kingdom.

So I have to wonder how a scholarly claim can be made that "anastasis" always means bodily resurrection. Was this text simply assumed in the study by N.T. Wright and others to mean bodily resurrection or are there actual exegetical reasons for making this claim? If so, what are they?

Perhaps next I will write N.T. Wright to see where I am wrong.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Eschatology Forum part 4a

Sam Storm also answers a question raised by Jim Hamilton in Piper's discussion. In Revelation 19 the Beast and False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire. In Revelation 20, we are told that the Devil is thrown into the Lake of Fire where the Beast and False Prophet already "were". This seems to cause a problem if we take a western approach to the text.

However, Sam states a translation and interpretive issue. The text could just as easily mean "were thrown" or "were also". The NASB states "are thrown". Here is what Strong's definitions states for the word "kai".
Apparently a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, ect.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words: - and, also, both, but, even, for, if, indeed, likewise, moreover, or, so, that, then, therefore, when, yea, yet.
So in other words, the text makes much more sense that both were thrown into the Lake of Fire.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Piper's Eschatological Discussions

Kuddos to Pastor Cory for linking to this eschatology discussion hosted by John Piper with Douglas Wilson, Jim Hamilton and Sam Storm. At approximately 1 hour into the discussion, Sam Storm gives his view on A-Millennialism. He also explains the influence of George Ladd that caused him to move from Dispensational Pre-Millennialism to Historic Pre-Millennialism. Then he explains how the New Testament moved him into the A-Millennial view. His testimony is exactly the same as mine. So perhaps we should both thank the Historical Pre-Millennialist, George Ladd. :-)


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Eschatology Forum part 4

In this audio clip, Dr. Schreiner makes another argument that led him to move from the A-Mill position to the Pre-Mill position.
In Revelation 12, Satan is cast out of heaven. I think that's at the cross. He's cast out of heaven. And he's cast to the earth. In Revelation 20, Satan is confined to the abyss. If you're A-Millennial you have to argue that Satan being cast to the earth and being cast into the abyss refers, even symbolically, to the same thing, the same kind of binding. And I just found that hard to believe.
So here we have another great example of how interpretative methods matter. If we assume that John is writing a historical novel about the future while using some symbolic imagery, then these texts (Revelation 12 & 20) would become contradictory.

Another example that was given to show Pre-Mill is true is that the Beast and False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire at the end of Revelation 19, yet no mention of the Devil. In Revelation 20, the Devil seems to be destroyed in the Lake of Fire with no mention of the Beast or False Prophet. Therefore, according to Pre-Millennialists, these are two separate events making Revelation 20 continuous after 19, and not a retelling of the same story from a different perspective.

1) This is exactly the problem A-Millennialists are arguing to begin with. Revelation is not a historical novel simply using some symbols. It is Apocalyptic literature. Assuming that if John were to back up and tell the same story, assuming that John must describe the same story in the exact same way, would make John's story redundant.

In other words, why does John need to give the same account in the same way with all of the same characters with all of the exact same information? Might I suggest the movie Vantage Point?

2) In answering the first problem specifically, John is describing the Devil from different perspectives. Yet if we do not realize the style of language and the point John is making we will miss John's meaning, when he says the Devil is either in the abyss or cast down to the earth.

First the parallels in the text are so striking that only to let a more literal viewpoint interfere with the text would cause one to miss the parallels or to diminish their importance.

Second, why are symbols used in the firsts place? Allow me to quote Dennis Johnson's commentary again,
Revelation's visions show us how things are, not how they look to the physical eye.
and again,
But the symbols show us something about the church, the great city, the bride, and the Enemy, revealing what does not appear to the naked eye.
Revelation is not the only source to use such an idea. For instance the Apostle Paul speaks of mankind,
So here we have an open grave and the poison of asps. Which is it? Open grave or snake venom? According to Dr. Schreiner, Paul should only have used one. Paul is clearly speaking of mankind with word pictures emphasizing different aspects.

Jesus describes the Kingdom of God in Matthew 13 as soil, wheat and tares, a net and fish, hidden treasure and so on. Well, which is it?

So when it comes to Revelation 12 & 20, if we do not assume that Revelation must be a continuous novel, if we can see the parallels John is making, if we see that John is emphasizing different aspects of the Devil's power and authority, then we might see that John is being very consistent.

In Revelation 12, John is speaking about the Devil as being cast down by the event of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Yet the Devil still seeks to devour the people of God and will wage war against them. No longer is he able to accuse the people of God in the court room of God. As Paul says in Romans 8,
Rom 8:33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies;
Rom 8:34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
In Revelation 20, we have a different picture of the Devil. Is John trying to describe the exact same aspect of the Devil? Or is he trying to give us more information about him? When it comes to the salvation and resurrection of the people of God, the Devil is in the "abyss". He is no longer able to deceive the nations. He is no longer able to stop the Gospel, even though, according to the "naked eye", the Devil makes all kinds of attacks against the church in accordance with Revelation 12.

In this age of resurrection, the Devil is bound and defeated.

3) Another major problem with Revelation 19 & 20 as being one continuous novel is the fact that all stories have their consummation. Revelation 19 is the glorious consummation of Christ's Kingdom into this world. Evil is cast out. The wicked are judged. The final battle takes place as warned in 2 Thessalonians 2. God displays the full power of the Beast being destroyed by the brightness of the Coming of the Son of Man. Does not this parallel the idea in Revelation 20?

The fact that John speaks of the different characters in both versions in different ways only adds to the amount of information John is giving to Christ's church. We now see that not only is the Beast destroyed (Rev 19), but the Devil as well (Rev 20).

To have Christ's Kingdom break down and need another salvation at the end of another age is to take away from the climax of Revelation 19 and of the glory of Christ's final defeating of His enemies and the enemies of God.

Much more could be said, and I am certain some of the 2 readers of this Blog would like to chime in some thoughts as well. Since I am done for the day, please go ahead.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Save Energy, Save the World

Is your church so big it could enter to win the EPA's Energy Star Congregation Award? Apparently, some Southern Baptist Churches are. Read here.
First Baptist Church in Dallas, First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., and Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla., each earned recognition for their efforts at reducing energy consumption.
In fact, these church's have such large budgets, one actually has an "energy education manager". Obviously it is a good thing to be a good steward, but I just have to chuckle when we want to be recognized by a bureaucratic agency that promotes end of the world environmental nonsense.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Eschatology Forum part 3

I believe Dr. Chad Brand gave this portion of the interaction. (Listen here). This is in response to Dr. Schreiner admitting A-Millennialism as being the simplest and straightforward understanding of the New Testament.
The simplest reading of the Old Testament is one coming of Christ. You know, when you read in Isaiah 61, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me." Jesus quotes this in Luke 4. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me and has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor, to bind the broken hearted, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the Day of vengeance of our God."

You realize sandwiched in Isaiah 61:2 is a favorable year of the Lord coming of Christ and the day of the vengeance of our God coming of Christ, and that is not His first coming. You know, John 3:17, God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through Him.

So you realize boy, this was John the Baptist's problem wasn't it. He's in jail in prison, and he sends disciples to ask Herod, "Are you the anointed One or shall we look for another. " Why would he ask that? Well, he's read the Old Testament, and he knows what is going to happen when Messiah comes, and its not happening...
Now this argument at first glance is quite powerful. At one point Dr. Brand said that there will be several resurrections. Why? Because he is determined he isn't going to make the same mistake John the Baptist did. Let's look at a couple of problems with this idea. Before we do, it must be acknowledged that he is right in one sense. Old Testament prophecy often did put together multiple events, causing what some have called the flattened perspective.

To use an illustration (since I work for a utility company), we might be standing near a telephone pole. If we look down the road, we might only see the one pole. But if we move to a different perspective, we will see that there are many poles. Prophecy in the Bible does the same thing.

Here are a couple of problems with this idea. First, it is simplistic to say that in Jesus' day that everyone understood only one coming of Messiah. It is true, but look at John's Gospel at the end of chapter 1.
Joh 1:19 This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"
Joh 1:20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ."
Joh 1:21 They asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" And he *said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No."
Joh 1:22 Then they said to him, "Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?"
Joh 1:23 He said, "I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, 'MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,' as Isaiah the prophet said."
Joh 1:24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.
Joh 1:25 They asked him, and said to him, "Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?"
Joh 1:26 John answered them saying, "I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know.
Joh 1:27 "It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie."
Please notice the questions. Are you the Prophet? Are you Elijah? If you have ever read the Dead Sea Scrolls, you will find similar understandings of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Essenes were looking for multiple persons. Why? Because everyone saw the massive problems in the text. How could one person fulfill all of these roles and activities and events. Surely there is one coming of several people. But they had it backwards. It was not one coming with multiple persons. It was multiple comings (2) with one person.

So this oversimplification of the OT is really a false view of those in Jesus' day. Since the New Testament speaks about the next coming of Christ as bringing salvation and glorification to His people, since the Second Coming is described as bringing in the New Heavens and New Earth, since the Second Coming will bring the destruction of the wicked, should we now think that there will be multiple Second Comings?

If we break up the Second Coming of Christ, then we lose exactly what the Blessed Hope is for. Christians are constantly told throughout the NT that we are to await the Coming of our Lord. Yet this panel seems to admit that the Second Coming isn't the final hope of the Christian. That after the literal thousand years, we could become lost again. This is bad news, not the Good News of the Kingdom promised by Christ.

Another problem is John the Baptist's question, "Are you the One or do we look for another?" Two chapters later in Matthew's Gospel, Jesus answers this question with the parables of the Kingdom. Notice the interpretation of the Wheat and Tares.
Mat 13:37 And He said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,
Mat 13:38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;
Mat 13:39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.
Mat 13:40 "So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.
Mat 13:41 "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,
Mat 13:42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 13:43 "Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
Here, Jesus offers us the explanation to the mystery of the Kingdom. The mystery is this. That after the Kingdom comes, evil men still exist side by side with the righteous. Jesus tells us that there are two phases of the Kingdom. But please notice the plain ending of the first phase. At the end of this age comes exactly what Pre-Millennialists say doesn't all happen at once or within a very short period of time.

1) The wicked are cast out. This appears final. Does it not? If so, how could there be another falling away. Will there be wicked men after the consummation of the Kingdom? Will the promise of Psalm 37 fail?
Psa 37:36 Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found.
Apparently, for the Pre-Millennialist, the wicked will continue on until another coming of Christ? Or will the Saints become lost again?

2) The righteous will shine. This is the Blessed Hope of the Christian, to be glorified and no longer live in sinful flesh.

Apparently, for the Pre-Millennialist, the righteous may shine forth only to have to live with evil men and struggle in another age in which men can fall away?

3) Peter also tells us that at the Second Coming, there will be a new heavens and new earth.
2Pe 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
2Pe 3:11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
2Pe 3:12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
2Pe 3:13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
Is this not a true fulfillment of OT promises? Apparently we are not looking for this new earth but instead we are looking forward to another great falling away after another after....

4) This position denies the clear view of Judgment Day. Dr. Brand cited John 3:17.
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Surely Dr. Brand knows that the next Coming is to bring judgment?
Heb 9:27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,
Heb 9:28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
The text is plain. There is only one more coming of Christ. At this coming is the Final Judgment of the wicked and salvation of those, who eagerly await Him.

5) The nature of the Kingdom is overthrown. Everyone, including this panel, believes in the "now and not yet" phases of the Kingdom. In other words, every Christian believes that there are two-phases of Christ's Kingdom. Yet Pre-Millennialists must disregard this view for at least 3 phases. The now, not yet and not yet yet. What is the 1000-year reign if not a middle coming aspect of the Kingdom? This is simply unworkable in the New Testament. I have never heard anyone offer an answer to this problem which may be the most difficult to answer.

In conclusion, all of this is because of one passage, Revelation 20. It is admitted that the New Testament is best read with the A-Millennial interpretation. But we just can't accept the simplicity of the NT because of our over-riding interpretation of Rev. 20.

In other words, we approach an apocalyptic passage, misunderstand it by reading into it an improper hermeneutic, then take that false understanding and force it on every other text in the New Testament such as 1 Thessalonians 4-5, where one major event is broken up into several.

So although Dr. Brand's observation about the nature of prophecy is correct, is he correct in its application with the New Testament? Isn't there a rule that says all things being equal, the simplest answer is often the best one.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A New Hockey Move

I have been watching hockey all of my life. I have played in my youth and as an adult, and I have never seen this. I am wondering if there is even a rule in the rule book about this.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Eschatology Forum part 2b

I decided to write to the A-Millennial guru, Kim Riddlebarger, and ask him about my email exchange with Dr. Schreiner. Pastor Riddlebarger was also kind enough to write back. He quickly commented on John 11:25,
As for John 11:25, I would agree that Jesus is speaking of a resurrection of sorts (regeneration) which precedes the bodily resurrection at the end of the age. I am very confident of this understanding of 11, given what Jesus says in John 5:24-25 where he clearly teaches that a spiritual resurrection precedes the bodily resurrection.
So there you have it. I am not completely nuts, or there is at least two crazy people.

Riddlebarger did say, due to the fact that many have e-mailed him on this subject, that he was going to Blog about this later this week. I hope he does.

Eschatology Forum part 2a

Just a quick note. I did write to Dr. Tom Schreiner about the meaning of "anastasis" in John 11:25, and he was kind enough to respond. He responded that technically the term for resurrection is bodily resurrection, and he made reference to N.T. Wright's work on this topic. But he also noted that I may have a point that there may be a parallel between John 11:24-26 with Revelation 20.

Basically, I apparently need to get Wright's book.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Eschatology Forum part 2

At about 8 minutes or so, the moderator, Dr. Denny Burk, asks Dr. Schreiner about his change in views from A-Millennialism to Pre-Millennialism. He then asks Dr. Schreiner how he would explain Revelation 20. Dr. Schreiner offers a brief and helpful explanation of the A-Millennialist viewpoint and then gives one of the major reasons for his change in views.

The key in the text for many on both sides of the debate is whether or not the word for resurrection in the Greek is ever used for spiritual resurrection. As Dr. Schreiner points out, it is only in Revelation 20 that A-Millennialists believe "anastasis" (resurrection) is spiritual when it it refers to the first resurrection. Then in the same context the dead are spoken of as coming to life. Every text sees this as bodily. Dr. Schreiner explains (listen here),
Usually the term resurrection in Scripture, in fact always, except in Revelation 20, anastasis, that word for resurrection, is used of physical resurrection. So you have to argue if you're an A-Millennialist that it is being used differently in Revelation 20.
So here we have an example of where a word is defined differently by A-Millennialists than everywhere else in the New Testament. For everywhere else the word is defined as bodily resurrection. Only here and only by non-PreMillennialists is the term defined spiritually.

This is a powerful argument, and one which I personally used for many years. I first learned this from a Historical Pre-Millennialist, George Ladd, in the book, The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, Edited by Robert G. Clouse. Ladd quotes John 5:25-29 and comments,
Here is first a spiritual resurrection, to be followed by an eschatological bodily resurrection. Nonmillennarian interpreters argue that Revelation 20 should be interpreted in a way analogous to John.
Ladd then goes on to demonstrate that the differences between John 5 and Revelation 20 are too significant to show a real parallel. He argues,
In Revelation 20 there is no such contextual clue for a similar variation of interpretation. The language of the passage is quite clear and unambiguous. There is neither necessity nor contextual possibility to interpret either ezesan [they came to life in Rev 20:4-5] spiritually in order to introduce meaning to the passage. At the beginning of the thousand years some of the dead come to life; at the conclusion, the rest of the dead come to life. There is no evident play upon words here. The passage makes perfectly good sense when interpreted literally.
Again, this is a powerful argument. For many years I held this view simply because it seemed to be the straightforward interpretation of the text. But that is just it. I was assuming my hermeneutic as justified, and I was assuming the nature of the text as justified without actually demonstrating that my position was justified. For instance, is Revelation 19 and 20 a continuous prophecy or is John backing up again and retelling the story? Should we not acknowledge that Revelation as Apocalyptic literature and not a mere historical novel?

In John chapter 5 Jesus uses the term "dead" first spiritually then physically. To argue that Revelation 20 does not give such clear indications that the first resurrection is spiritual while the second is physical is to force upon John's apocalyptic literature a style of writing that is not apocalyptic.

The parallels between John 5 and Revelation 20 are so striking (as well as to 2 Thessalonians 2) that to not allow John's different genres is to miss a pattern throughout John's writings. For instance, Revelation 20 is speaking of two resurrections. One to life and the other to the final judgment. Is this not John 5? However, it is troubling that the only use of anastasis [resurrection] as spiritual resurrection is to be found here and no where else. I agree that this argument alone overthrows the A-Millennial position if this were written by any other author. But it is the Apostle John we are looking at, and not Peter or Paul. Therefore, we need to see if John is consistent with himself or if the thoughts are parallel thoughts.

Since John is able to take words and thoughts and give them two different meanings in the same text and same context, we must allow that John could easily be doing the same in Revelation 20. For another example, John uses the term "world" in many different ways. In 1 John 2, within 13 verses of each other, John uses the term world as those for whom Christ died and then as something God absolutely hates.

An even more relevant text may be found in John chapter 11.
Joh 11:24 Martha *said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."
Joh 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,
Joh 11:26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"
Here Jesus not only describes Himself as the resurrection, not only does Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, but He tells us we may have resurrection now! How? By believing in Him! Certainly this has a major impact on the understanding and correlation between spiritual resurrection and physical resurrection.

In other words, we have in three verses both spiritual and physical resurrection based upon Christ's person and work. So even if I die, I am alive. This is in direct relation to the word anastasis. You know...the word we are told has nothing to do with spiritual resurrections. Is this not what John is explaining to us in Revelation 20!!!!

OK, I better calm down. I'm not a scholar, and I can not read the original languages. Perhaps I am overlooking something they see. Their arguments at this point may be compelling if one accepts their premises. I just don't accept them.

Eschatology Forum part 1

Boyce College on September 23rd had a panel discussion on the Tribulation and the Millennium. Dr. Tom Schreiner, Dr. Chad Brand, and Dr. Bruce Ware were the panelists. The one person that may have been the focal point was Dr. Schreiner. It was Dr. Schreiner that went from a person who leaned in the direction of Amillennialism to leaning in the direction of Premillennialism. You may go to the website and listen here. (kuddos to Pastor Paul Veal for supplying the resource)

As one who has gone in the other direction of Dr. Schreiner, I'd like to interact with some of the points and arguments in favor of Pre-Millennialism raised during this panel discussion.

If you take the time to listen to the audio, you will find Dr. Bruce Ware is asked to give a brief overview of the differing positions. His definitions are very helpful except that he falls short. He gives the three positions of Post-Millennialism, A-Millennialism and Pre-Millennialism. However, unless I missed it, he failed to distinguished between the Dispensational Pre-Millennialism and Historic Pre-Millennialism.

This get-together among Pre-Millennialists assumed some kind of Dispensationalism that I think caused some problems for Dr. Schreiner when he tried to explain that he isn't in their camp just because he leans to the Pre-Mill side of things. Which I also think caused some of this conversation to end up being men who talked past each other while using the same language.

Nevertheless, each of these men made some very interesting points about the nature of prophecy that reflect how we approach the text is absolutely key.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Salazar v. Buono

Baptist Press has reported on the Supreme Court's hearing of the case Salazar v. Buono, which "involves a 75-year-old World War I memorial that consists of a cross standing on the land of a national preserve in California's Mojave Desert".

The AP describes the situation as reported on the Fox website.
The cross, on an outcrop known as Sunrise Rock in the Mojave National Preserve, has been covered in plywood for the past several years following federal court rulings that it violates the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment prohibition against government endorsement of religion.
BPNews states,
Peter Eliasberg, an ACLU lawyer from Southern California, told the justices the government had violated the establishment clause by designating the display as a national memorial, by making certain "the cross remains up" and by favoring the "same parties that it has always favored in this case to the exclusion of others."
Now, the problem simply can't be a violation of the establishment clause (notice the subtle language change to "endorsement of religion"). No matter how whiny the political Left may get, there is no establishment happening. The Federal government is not taxing citizens to fund a particular church or anything of the kind that the Framers of the Constitution would have meant in its original context.

A portion of the statement by Eliasberg does cause an interesting problem.
by making certain "the cross remains up" and by favoring the "same parties that it has always favored in this case to the exclusion of others."
What exactly is meant by this? Does Eliasberg mean to say that others have desired to set a War Memorial to veterans of different faiths but were prevented in doing so? If that is the case, and I doubt it is, then there certainly is a problem. To prevent a Jewish group from presenting a Memorial to fallen men of the Jewish faith while permitting another is to violate Equal Protection
and discrimination laws.

Another aspect to this problem is that this Memorial was set up by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, VFW. This is hardly a religious church group. Did they really mean to say that the message of the symbol of the Cross to be a memorial for only Christians, or is it a memorial for those who fought and died for our nation during WWI, while utilizing a religious symbol the majority would identify. Again, no violation of the Establishment Clause is evident in any way, shape or form.

Albert Mohler comments,
Arguing for the retention of the display, lawyers for the government are expected to argue that the Mojave cross is constitutional because it represents a secular symbol intended to honor those who died in the nation's service in World War I.
To which Mohler takes offense,
Christians should reject any argument that presents the cross as a secular symbol.
I agree with Mohler that the Cross is anything but a secular symbol for Christians, but that's just it. Obviously Confessional Baptists despise the "cultural Christianity" since Christianity is not a culture but a set of beliefs that transcend cultures based in historical events. In other words, there is no such thing as a Christian nation unless we mean the church. But not recognizing that a cultural Christianity exists and the VFW lived that out when it did what it did can't be overlooked in its own historical context.

However, during the oral arguments, it became clear that this case is not totally about the Cross display but whether or not Congress acted legally when it decided to rid itself of this problem case by transferring the land to private ownership. This is where the 9th Circus got involved. According to the AP,
The appeals court invalidated the 2004 land transfer, saying that "carving out a tiny parcel of property in the midst of this vast preserve -- like a doughnut hole with the cross atop it -- will do nothing to minimize the impermissible governmental endorsement" of the religious symbol.
The way in which the story is reported, Scalia once again disagrees with Breyer,
"It seems to me unreasonable to read the injunction to say the government shall not permit anybody to display a cross on that land no matter who owns the land. I assume the injunction meant you will not permit the cross to be displayed on this parcel of government land.
Again, how does this violate the Establishment Clause? I have yet to hear a reasoned argument. Perhaps it would be wiser for future generations to do something similar that is done in Arlington Cemetery. Each grave has its own memorial (Cross, Star of David, whatever). Nevertheless, this Memorial has been established for 75 years and should remain as a thoughtful gift by the VFW.

More Silliness

YahooNews is reporting that the Political Left's silent majority is...well...silent. What a hoot!
Yes, they're behind him, officials say — volunteering in their communities and contacting lawmakers in Congress. But some Obama organizers are calling their forces a "silent majority," embracing Republican terminology of long ago. And if the final legislation doesn't include a government run plan to compete with private insurers, they may be invisible, too.
So the Nazis, who have been rallying at these town hall meetings, are just a minority even though they are from a wide political spectrum. This is yet another example of Media bias attempting to set false premises and the direction of the debate. The question I am wondering is how many John McCain Republicans will accept this nonsense.

This is almost as bad as the Media doing fact checks on a Saturday Night Live skit.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

How Does Matthew know?

Matthew Bellisario's next post defends his position on his view of the church (read here) as it relates to the "Divine Word".
Catholics believe that Christ alone is the author of our faith. It is He who communicates Himself, the Divine Word, to us through His Divine Revelation. Christ did not teach a doctrine per se, He taught Himself. We know this not because Scripture alone tells us so, but because it is so, as it has been proclaimed by the living Church, long before the New Testament was ever finished. The Church is the hand, or instrument of God, which is guided by the Holy Spirit. It is not just a visible hierarchy of bishops, priests and laymen. It is not just an invisible group of like-minded believers. It is the hand of God, guiding and proclaiming His Word, by His authority. The Church has a human, corporeal nature, and a spiritual nature, just as Christ has a human and divine nature. The then Cardinal Ratzinger, further expounds, “The Church is much more than an organization: it is the organism of the Holy Spirit, something that is alive, that takes hold of our inmost being.” (15 September 2001)
Now over the years, Protestants have noticed the circularity of this argument. In the next paragraph Matthew attempts to deflect this notion.
Yes, Scripture gives us a written testimony to this truth. But it is not this circular argument that the Catholic needs to prove this. Protestants try and force upon the Catholic a circular argument to explain this connection between the Church and Sacred Scripture. Even without this written testimony, this fact was still known to all believers. It is a fact that there was no New Testament canon for the better part of 300 years after Christ's ascension into heaven. The Church operated with the Old Testament Scriptures under the authority of the apostles, who conveyed the Gospel of Christ, the Word. This was done in an oral fashion. We call this the Oral Kerygma, or oral Tradition, some of which was later written down. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles to convey God's Word infallibly.
Despite the obvious historical errors on the writings of the New Testament, I suppose one could argue this position and remain logically coherent. However, to defend this position one can not interpret Rome's claims just as one can not interpret the Scriptures.

For example, did the Apostles give us a canon of the Old Testament prior to Trent? Yet Matthew writes,
It is a fact that there was no New Testament canon for the better part of 300 years after Christ's ascension into heaven. The Church operated with the Old Testament Scriptures under the authority of the apostles.
This is a radical interpretation of history. Did Rome make this claim? Did the Pope make this claim? Is this just Matthew's private interpretation of Rome's position? He does confess at one point,
Using my limited knowledge and talents, I will attempt to explain the definition of the Catholic Ecclesial structure. I have used the document titled Dei Verbum to help me along in this venture. This is by no means an exhaustive explanation. It is intended not to make one an expert on the subject, but to merely inform the reader as to the basic role and nature of the Church.
So if we just use Matthew's limited knowledge, we should come to a proper understanding of Rome?

If you look at history and see blatant contradictions to Rome's claims about herself, you will be told that only Rome has the ability to properly interpret history. As Matthew also claims,
...they in turn passed down their apostolic authority to others who carried on proclaiming the same Word infallibly...
Therefore, in the end, how do we know Rome is the one true church? Because Rome says so. She is infallible. If you doubt this, just ask her.

OK, enough sarcasm. If you doubt that this is circular, just ask the simple question that RCs are always applying to Protestants, but do it in reverse. "How do you know Rome is the true infallible church?" Perhaps Pope Michael from Kansas is the true pope of the true church?

As I pointed out to Matthew, Rome is not able to receive correction. For she is having a monologue with herself.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

A Conversation On Scripture Alone

Every once in a while you will see a Roman Catholic expressing his/her revulsion of the doctrine of Sola Scripture (Scripture Alone). Yet almost every time the Protestant teaching is redefined or misunderstood. What is even worse is that even after attempting to correct the Roman Catholic as to what the definition of Scripture Alone is, they refuse to be corrected as to what Protestants are plainly saying.

Here are some statements by one Roman Catholic, Matthew Bellisario, that caused me to comment on his Blog post (you may read here),
Protestants follow their own forms of tradition, while rejecting the true Tradition of the Church, which has been revealed by God. The Protestant will go out and buy books by the truckload so that they can better understand and interpret the Bible. Yet, I thought the Bible was the only rule one needs? Isn't the Bible clear enough to understand without...
and again,
The Reformed position of Sola Scriptura tries not to dismiss the Church and her teachers from their doctrine. They claim that not everyone can understand the Scriptures equally, and that there are people who are called to teach the Bible in some sort of authoritative position. Yet if that is the case, then why do their authoritative teachers disagree on core teachings in the Bible?
In this kind of critique, not only does the RC not define the doctrine correctly, but he does not apply the same standards to his own position. So I am not sure which is more frustrating. Judge everyone else with one set of standards while not applying those standards to yourself, or judging a straw-man in the first place.

For instance, in the first quote Matthew confuses that which is the ultimate infallible authority with other sources. To use an illustration, my English teacher hands me a book that explains how I am to behave in the classroom. However, I have yet to learn to read. So the English teacher teaches me to read. Does this mean that the rule book is insufficient to explain to me what my behavior is to be? If I have to borrow a dictionary because I have not learned the definition of a word yet, does this make the rule book insufficient in explaining what my behavior in the classroom is to be? Does any of this change the ultimate nature of the rule book as being the ultimate rule book.

Why is the definition of Scripture Alone so difficult to understand? Perhaps it is because many Reformed Protestants have done such a poor job in explaining it. Yet Matthew Bellisario seems to know the definition. Yet like many people in religions with overriding authorities, they simply can't hear what is being said. They may say the words, but they are just not hearing the same thing.

In the comments section, he again redefines the Protestant position.
I pointed out that there is an appeal by Protestants of the need for teachers in the Church to teach Scripture. Let me know where you feel I have misrepresented your doctrine and I will be glad to correct myself or justify my position.
My response to this statement is that he just did redefine it! He clearly reads into the Protestant doctrine his own presuppositions and does not allow the Reformed Protestant position to be what it is. As can be seen in this statement,
Howard, I think part of the problem may be that your definition of Church, is not the correct definition of Church.
So now the Reformed Protestant must agree to his definition of church in order to define Scripture Alone. His forcing the Protestant to stand on his grounds and his definitions comes out clearly when I raised the issue of Romans 8.
The Catholic Church taught Romans 8 before Romans 8 was ever in written form. Do agree with this or disagree? If you agree then you realize the Church has no need to officially define Romans 8, because God revealed the teaching of Romans 8 in His Oral Kerygma in the Church before it was ever written.
Again, do you see where he redefines Scripture Alone? He assumes that since Romans 8 was taught before Romans 8 was written down, that Scripture Alone can't work. Why? Because he redefines Scripture Alone. No Protestant definition of Scripture Alone that I am aware of denies that the Apostles or Prophets or Moses before them first preached orally. The question is, where is their oral proclamation now? Reformed Protestants obviously see things just a little differently.

In conclusion, I probably shouldn't get into these conversations. They never get anywhere. When RCs refuse to allow Protestants to define their own position, when historical definitions are completely ignored, it is hard to see this going anywhere. But I guess we have to try.