Tuesday, July 5, 2011

More End Times Madness

I was kindly asked to provide more Q & A from this discussion/debate concerning eschatology. These are the remaining questions and comments which I could salvage without sacrificing meaning [due to a lack of context]. May God add His blessing to your reading.
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Is it possible that more of the early church fathers would have been more inclined to Dispensationalism had they seen Israel become a country again?
Is it POSSIBLE? Maybe. Is it PROBABLE? Not at all. We shouldn't interpret the Bible through the lens of the newspaper. Such a hermeneutical method is deplorable. (This has been the habit of many Dispensationalists. Men like Hal Lindsey--who've made so many awful "predictions" and are the major purveyors of end times madness--have little or no shame. They've been proven wrong time and again yet they keep cranking out books and updated theories...and Dispensationalists keep buying them. They're not much different than the neo pagans who are all a flutter about 2012 and the Mayan calendar.)

How do you explain Satan’s use of Hitler?
I do not see anything in the Bible pertaining to Hitler. Do you have a verse or passage which teaches “Satan used Hitler…” No. Therefore, to speak of such things is nothing more than speculation. (You know…the Pat Robertson technique.) Such speculation is very common among Dispensationalists. I do NOT presume to speak for God apart from Scripture.

When [do] you feel that the book of Revelations was written? Pre or Post 70 AD?
I believe Revelation was written prior to 70AD. An EXCELLENT and scholarly treatment of this subject is a book by Ken Gentry, “Before Jerusalem Fell.”

What about the 12,000 sealed out of each tribe of Israel in Revelation 7? If this is the church, which tribe are you in? And why is the tribe of Dan omitted?
I’ve no idea which “tribe” I’m in. But I’m almost positive…it’s not yours. Just kidding! Yes, why is Dan omitted? While we’re at it…why is Ephraim omitted? Also, what is this “tribe of Joseph” (Rev 7:8)?? I don’t recall any tribe of Israel being known as the “Tribe of Joseph.” Do you? Can you show us in the Old Testament where the tribe of Joseph lived? What they did? Anything? (Be sure to NOT “allegorize”…I want to see in the Old Testament the LITERAL tribe of Joseph.) Happy hunting!

Replacement Theology grew to maturity in the Catholic church, which denies assurance any way. Interesting, eh?
First of all, "Replacement Theology" is a pejorative term. No Covenantalist refers to himself with this inaccurate moniker.

More importantly, this is known as the logical fallacy of "poisoning the well." You are attempting to discredit historic eschatology by associating it with the Roman Catholic church. (I am assuming you mean "Roman Catholic" because "Catholic" means "universal." I belong to the Catholic church but not the Roman Catholic Church.) Because you know that Protestants tend to negatively react to the Roman church, you are attempting to associate the views which oppose yours to the Roman church, and thereby skew opinions.

The other logical fallacy present here is known as the "genetic fallacy." This is the irrational idea that says a position must be wrong because of its origin. You suggest that because historic eschatology "grew to maturity" in the Roman church--it must be wrong. Of course, this is fallacious reasoning. I wonder if you would apply this "standard" to other doctrines with roots in the Roman church--like the doctrine of the Trinity, for example?

On Matthew 24, do you believe this entire passage to have taken place with Titus in 70 AD?
Yes. I lean towards a Preteristic understanding of this passage.

Why were only 1.1million killed in 70 AD but 6million in the holocaust?
[Note: This was asked with reference to Matthew 24:21 which supposedly supports the idea of a yet future “Great Tribulation.”]
I probably wouldn't word it as "only" 1.1 million. Nor would I be anticipating even more than 6 million Jews being slaughtered in the future. (Again, I marvel at the Dispensationalists who label those who disagree with them as being anti-Semitic!)

But, how are we to understand Mtt 24:21? Like any other verse in the Bible, CONTEXT is essential to interpretation. Thus, we should ask ourselves: From the context of the verse, what is the universe of these remarks?

It is abundantly clear that the universe of Mtt 24:21 is 1st Century Judea. Why do I say this? Well, because Mtt 24:16 reads: "then let those who are in JUDEA flee to the mountains." In other words, this verse has NOTHING to do with the Holocaust, located mostly in Europe, of the 20th Century.

[What sense would it make to "warn" Jews--2000 years in the future and living in Germany--to "flee" into the "mountains" from "Judea"?? Dispensationalists are supposed to be LITERALISTS, remember?]

Notice also, these Jews are fleeing Judea and hiding in the mountains. And, from the context, this running from Judea is LITERALLY "running." They seem to be fleeing on foot. (Thus Christ speaks of "woe" to the nursing/pregnant women and of "winter" and "Sabbath.")

If this "great tribulation" [always shown as "Great Tribulation" in Dispensational literature] is world wide--why the reference for folks to save themselves by fleeing JUDEA to the mountains? [Josephus' account, however, accords quite nicely with Jesus' prophecy.]

If this "great tribulation" is world-wide and in the 21st Century [or later?], why are they fleeing on foot? How will this running to mountains save them from mechanized warfare? [Here, some Dispensationalists will argue that perhaps the world is no longer "mechanized" and has reverted back to primitive ways/means. Of course, this kind of end times madness is based more upon Hollywood movies than scripture.]

In summation: The universe of Mtt 24:21 [according to the immediate context] is limited in its scope to Jews living in Judea. And if we're going to interpret the context LITERALLY, it is obvious that it deals with ancient ways/means of warfare and transportation. Thus, it would be wrong to infer that Jesus is claiming that there would be no greater [in the sense of "worse"] wars/loss of life, ANYWHERE in the world at ANY time of history. Rather, we interpret Christ within the limited context of His own words.
 

16 comments:

  1. Steve Griffin wrote: '...some Dispensationalists will argue that perhaps the world is no longer "mechanized" and has reverted back to primitive ways/means. Of course, this kind of end times madness is based more upon Hollywood movies than scripture.'

    CEH: Immediately made me think of the "Mad Max" movies, or others like it, like: Charleton Heston's Omega Man, or Will Smith's I Am Legend. But, even in these scenarios there is always "leftover" machines. It seems unlikely, even in a global cataclysm, that mechanization would utterly evaporate and the world would regress overnight to ancient technology as if the industrial revolution, and enlightenment never happened.

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  2. Funny...I had visions of "Mad Max" as well. Agreed, it does seem a little far fetched.

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  3. Date of Revelation: it is essential to the preterist interpretation that it should have been written before 70; but the historic view is that it was written during Domitian's reign and Gentry's treatment, as I remember, was straining credibility. He did not succeed in undermining the reported witness of people who were nearly contemporary with John.

    Tribe of Dan omitted. When listing the 12 tribes, one is always omitted, because there are in fact 13. Jacob adopted the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, as his own, and each is therefore a tribe in Israel. When the tribes are listed, one is omitted. In numbering Israel for war, Levi is omitted. In Revelation, Dan is omitted. I think the reason is that Dan means judge, and the judgement has not yet come while the 12000 are evangelising. The tribe of Joseph could mean both Ephraim and Manasseh, but in Revelation it means Ephraim, because Manasseh is mentioned separately.

    Replacement theology: you may regard it as pejorative, but it is accurate. You believe that Israel has been replaced by the church and has no particular significance as a nation any more.

    The Roman church did not develop any good doctrine that I know of. The Trinity in fact (though possibly not the word itself) was established by the apostles. The Roman church and its forerunners gave us the entanglement of church and state, the perversion of scripture by allegorical interpretation, the perfection of the clergy/laity divide (though its beginning was the fault of the immediate post-apostolic leaders), infant baptism, followed by the more notorious RC doctrines, such as purgatory, the mass, the papacy and then the Inquisition. But all good doctrine is biblical and long precedes the Roman church.

    So the fact that the RC church preaches or originated a doctrine does not automatically make it false, but it certainly indicates that it should be regarded with great suspicion, until it is proved good.

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  4. Since Matthew 24 includes the second coming of Christ, a preteristic interpretation of it is plainly false. That coming is not an event which will be missed by anybody. In any case, a preteristic interpretation is extremely careless with scripture.

    I'm not aware of anyone who thinks that the Nazi holocaust was the great tribulation, so the comments in regard to that are attacking a straw man. Matthew is addressed primarily to Jews, and the place God has given tot he Jewish people is the land of Israel. The scripture prophesies that God will bring them back there, first in unbelief (Ezek 26). This has been happening for 100 years or more, but the re-emergence of anti-semitism across the world suggests that the rest may be driven back to Israel, even from America. The eventual return of Israel to the land was understood by Bishop Ryle, back in the nineteenth century, when there still seemed no prospect at all of Israel's being re-established. It is not a view that has originated only because the nation Israel now exists again.

    The situation that Jesus seems to envisage is that the Jews, to whose descendants he is talking through the apostles, will be concentrated in Israel again and will need to flee the moment they see the event of the desecration of the temple. This cannot fit the Roman siege; the Christians at that time saw the siege over many days, but could not flee the city until it was temporarily lifted.

    What the conditions will be at that time, we cannot know. Speculation about the loss of technology is only speculation; biblical prophecy is not intended to give definitive answers to questions such as that.

    Dispensationalism has an explanation for anti-semitism, which preterism does not. Since it is the Jews that must ask Jesus to return as their Messiah, according to Zechariah, Satan wants to destroy them completely, so that they should not be able to do so. If they had no further place in God's plans apart from eventually being saved, why would there be such hostility to them over the centuries?

    You have made the bizarre statement in the past, and imply now, that it is anti-semitic to show that the bible teaches that the will suffer a worse judgement than the holocause before they repent, but Zechariah shows that two-thirds of them will be killed before that happens. Relating what the bible says is not anti-anything -- except anti fudging and misreading scripture.

    The great tribulation is a world-wide event, not one confined to Israel only. The judgement of God are going to destroy billions of people, but God's church will be removed before that starts.

    All major doctrines, such as creation, the sinfulness of man, the resurrection and the second coming are perverted by the enemy, in order to deceive mankind and to render the church less effective. Preterism is such a deception and it, along with amillennialism, is intended to make the church less ready for its coming removal, less ready to preach the gospel to those who are perishing, and to deprive it of its blessed hope, our removal from this doomed world to be with our Saviour.

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  5. Oliver,
    When it comes to Dispensationalism...your comments are par for the course!

    As I have told you many times: You engage in some mind blowing hermeneutical gymnastics. You run, jump, and twist from one text to another in an effort to make your convoluted scheme appear to have the support of scripture. (All one needs to do is read your comments to see this is true.)

    You allege: "You have made the bizarre statement in the past, and imply now, that it is anti-semitic to show that the bible teaches..."

    Please present 1 example where I have said anything similar to "showing what the Bible teaches is anti-Semitic." I'll take just one example. If you can't provide a single example, then please refrain from making false accusations.

    (Really, Oliver, you have a nasty habit of allowing your rhetoric to override your reason. If you would like...I can provide a multitude of examples and quotes from you demonstrating this.)

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  7. Sorry, I can't remember where it was, but that was certainly the impression I received. To be precise, you did not say "showing what the Bible teaches is anti-Semitic". Rather you appeared to say that it was anti-semitic to say that two-thirds of the Jews would be killed during the Great Tribulation. I suppose you do not think that the bible teaches that. (at Zech 13:8-9)

    Or possibly it was in fact someone else during one of those long Facebook discussion. However, Facebook does not make it at all easy to find past events and discussions. If it was on the page of someone who is no longer a friend, I would never find it at all. My apologies if I was mistaken.

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  8. "You engage in some mind blowing hermeneutical gymnastics. You run, jump, and twist from one text to another in an effort to make your convoluted scheme appear to have the support of scripture. (All one needs to do is read your comments to see this is true.)"

    I believe that everything that the bible says on a subject should be taken in its plain sense and should not be left out of consideration or allegorised to make it fit a scheme imposed from outside (eisegesis). Every detail is important. Your handling of scripture demonstrates that you do not think details are important. For example, you see no significant difference between Luke's and Matthew's accounts of the Olivet discourse; you ignore the many OT prophecies of Israel's kingdom over all the nations.

    On the other hand, as a preterist, you have to hang your whole scheme on a couple of verses that, taken alone, suggest a fulfilment of eschatology in the lives of the apostles. The fact that that interpretation makes nonsense of the plain sense of Jesus' prophecy of his coming back to earth does not seem to bother you. Everything is twisted in the Procrustean endeavour to fit it into 70 AD and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.

    To forestall objections, here "you" means preterists in general.)

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  9. Oliver,
    Please know, it is not my intention to engage in a protracted debate with you. [Been there, done that...several times.] However, I will respond to a particular claim made by you and most, if not all, Dispensationalists--a claim which is patently false.

    You write: "I believe that everything that the bible says on a subject should be taken in its plain sense..."

    Okay. Then please give us the PLAIN SENSE of these "couple of verses."

    "Assuredly, I say to you [the Twelve, c.f. v.5], YOU will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes" (Mtt. 10:23b).

    "Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon THIS GENERATION...Assuredly, I say to you, THIS GENERATION will by no means pass away till all these things take place" (Mtt 23:36,24:34).

    "It is as you [the high priest, c.f. v.63] said, Nevertheless, I say to YOU, hereafter YOU will see the Son Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven" (Mtt26:64).

    "You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord IS AT HAND" (James 5:8).

    "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--THINGS WHICH MUST SHORTLY TAKE PLACE...Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; FOR THE TIME IS NEAR" (Rev. 1:1,3).

    "Behold, I am coming quickly!" (Rev 3:11)

    "Then he said to me, 'These words are faithful and true'...the things which must shortly take place. 'Behold I am coming quickly!'" (Rev 22:6-7).

    "And he said to me, 'Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, FOR THE TIME IS AT HAND" (Rev. 22:10)

    "He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I AM COMING QUICKLY.' Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20)

    Oliver, what is the PLAIN SENSE of these time texts? How would anyone (anyone who doesn't approach the text with Dispensational biases)understand the above verses? You claim you follow the "literal" interpretation of the Bible; so...take off your Dispy glasses and read what the Bible actually says.

    Again I ask: What is the LITERAL, PLAIN READING of the above texts? How would one understand these verses if one read them without a futuristic lens?

    Can you, with a shred of intellectual honesty, claim that these verses, in their literal, plain sense; refer to events and people 2000 years [and counting!] removed?

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  10. For the record: I adhere to what is sometimes referred to as "Partial" or "Orthodox" Preterism. That is, while I see most biblical prophecy as being fulfilled; I do believe in the Second Advent [the physical return of our Lord], the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, and the new heavens and earth.

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  11. "Assuredly, I say to you [the Twelve, c.f. v.5], YOU will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes" (Mtt. 10:23b).

    I don't know what this signifies. (Since you say you believe the second coming is future, it shouldn't make any difference to the issue.) The literal translation of "gone through" is "completed".

    "Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon THIS GENERATION...Assuredly, I say to you, THIS GENERATION will by no means pass away till all these things take place" (Mtt 23:36,24:34).

    In view of the context, this most likely means the set of people, especially of scribes and Pharisees, living at the time Jesus spoke. Probably verse 35 was fulfilled by the Roman defeat of the Jewish rebellion. If could mean "this race/nation" in which case the judgement refers to al lthe suffering of the Jewish people from the first century until the end (in verse 38).

    "It is as you [the high priest, c.f. v.63] said, Nevertheless, I say to YOU, hereafter YOU will see the Son Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven" (Mtt26:64).

    The first you is singular, meaning the high priest only. The others are plural. In Southern speech: "Jesus says to him, "You said it. But I say to y'all, afterwards y'all shall see the Son of Man..." Since Jesus said he did not know the time of his return, this could have referred to those actually present. Since in fact he did not return within their lifetimes, it will be fulfilled for their successors in the Jewish nation when Jesus returns to earth.

    "You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord IS AT HAND" (James 5:8).

    Absolutely. We are required to be ready for his coming at any moment. This is the doctrine of imminence. Jesus will come like a thief, taking everyone by surprise.

    "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--THINGS WHICH MUST SHORTLY TAKE PLACE...Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; FOR THE TIME IS NEAR" (Rev. 1:1,3).

    "Shortly" translates εν ταχει and could as well be translated "in haste". It need not refer to the interval between the time of writing and the prophesied event can indicate instead the fact that events, once begun, will progress rapidly.
    "At hand" is εγγυς, meaning "near". (See below about this.)

    "Behold, I am coming quickly!" (Rev 3:11) "Quickly" is ταχυ; same range of meanings as in 1:1

    "Then he said to me, 'These words are faithful and true'...the things which must shortly take place. 'Behold I am coming quickly!'" (Rev 22:6-7). εν ταχει and ταχυ again.

    "And he said to me, 'Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, FOR THE TIME IS AT HAND" (Rev. 22:10) εγγυς again

    "He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I AM COMING QUICKLY.' Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20) ταχυ again.

    I am hitting a size limit on comments, so I will talk about εγγυς in another comment.

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  12. εγγυς = "near", "at hand"

    I imagine the first people to read these (especially the first readers of Revelation in Domitian's reign) thought things would happen soon. When they found that they did not happen, they might have become discouraged. At that point a teacher who knew the scriptures well would point out to them what Peter says about the end's being delayed:

    2 Peter 3 1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

    8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.


    So those, who think the end is not coming shortly at all, should remember these words and be content that God's view of time is not the same as ours. The denial of the flood is recent, beginning only near the end of the eighteenth century.

    By your own confession, you are still waiting for the major events of Revelation, the second coming of our Lord, the resurrection of the dead and so on. These very things, for which we have been waiting nearly 2000 years, are those which Jesus said will come ταχυ Perhaps "suddenly" might give a better translation into English. In any case, we should be behaving on the basis that he will come tonight to call us and hear an account of what we have been doing in his name.

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  13. See what I mean folks? Hermeneutical gymnastics. I'll bet Oliver didn't even break a sweat!

    Still, with all of his amazing feats of, shall we say, "ingenious" interpretation, one has to wonder how this fits his own stated criteria of "plain, literal" reading. It is mind boggling how such a convoluted, contrived hermeneutic is passed off as being "plain" and "literal."

    The fact is, Oliver approaches the text with his eschatological presuppostions; and subsequently interprets the text in accordance to his preconceived notions. That is, he reads every verse through Dispy glasses, thus his "understanding" of the text is thoroughly colored or skewed, if you will, by the Dispy lens.

    With that, I leave it to my readers to decide who is exegeting scripture in a clear, straightforward manner.

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  14. What's contrived? Take everything in its plain sense, but if there are translation issues, they must be sorted out first. If things don't make sense, explore other meanings to see if they fit better. Always look at the whole of scripture. You seem to object to my doing that, as if God weren't allowed to let one part of scripture illuminate another.

    If you are insisting that ταχυ must mean "soon" as an interval of time according to normal human interpretation (and contradicting 2 Peter), how do you hold that together with the fact that it is applied to the second coming, which has obviously not happened yet? Even you agree that it hasn't happened yet!

    To my mind, you are so blinkered by your commitment to a particular interpretation, that you don't even see the many ways in which it doesn't fit. Your mind seems to skate right over them.

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  15. Oliver,
    This will be my last response to your comments on this blog entry.

    You ask: "What's contrived?"
    Answer: The entire Dispensational scheme.

    You write: "If things don't make sense, explore other meanings to see if they fit better."

    Translation: If verses don't fit my contrived dispy scheme, I will invent ingenious interpretations which will "better fit" my contrived dispy scheme. I will then insist that my invented, ingenious interpretations are the plain, literal meaning of the text.

    Your allusion to 2Peter 3:8 [a dispy favorite!] in effort to obfuscate the multitude of time texts is a non sequitur. 2Peter 3:8 refers to God's perception of time within Himself. It does not mean that God cannot tell time or that He cannot meaningfully communicate with regards to time.

    Thus, the clear, plain, literal interpretation of Revelation's time texts in no way contradicts 2Peter 3:8. (This is what I mean by "running, jumping, and twisting from one text to another in an effort to make your convoluted scheme appear to have the support of scripture.")

    You write of Revelation's time texts that they are "applied to the second coming." Here you are looking through your futuristic lens and are simply begging the question. I do not accept that the time texts of Revelation are referring to the Second Advent.

    You write: "To my mind, you are so blinkered by your commitment to a particular interpretation, that you don't even see the many ways in which it doesn't fit. Your mind seems to skate right over them."

    Oliver, this is precisely what I think of you. And your comments have only bolstered my opinion. You demonstrate the unwillingness or inability to look at the scripture without your dispy glasses. You are thoroughly given and wholeheartedly commited to this eschatological scheme.

    But thank you for your lively comments. This back and forth has demonstrated the accuracy of my portrayal of Dispensationalists and Dispensationalism. God bless you, Oliver.

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  16. If the time texts of Revelation do not apply to the second coming ("I am coming soon") what on earth do they apply to?

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