LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A few Qs


My pastor pointed me to a blog previously unknown to me: Shepherd the Flock for a post on eschatology. At that blog, there are the following questions, which I found worthy of reposting here.

1. How many peoples of God are there? That is, does God have two different plans for two different groups of people? Do not the scriptures teach of one bride, one flock, one church, one faith? What do the scriptures say? (Not the systems)

2. How many Second Comings of Christ will there be? Do the scriptures teach of one final Day, one final trumpet, one appearing of our Lord, or is there more than one of each of these? What do the scriptures say? (Not the systems)

3. How many resurrections will there be? When the scriptures teach of the resurrection, do they speak of multiple resurrections taking place at multiple points in history? What do the scriptures say? (Not the systems)

4. How many judgments will there be? When the scriptures teach of the judgment, do they speak of multiple judgments taking place at multiple points in history? What do the scriptures say? (Not the systems)

5. Will Christ return at the last trumpet on the last hour of the last Day of this present age, or will He return 1,000 years before the last hour of the last Day of this present age? (In other words, does Scripture teach that Christ’s return will inaugurate the age that is to come, or will it inaugurate the final era of this present age?) What do the scriptures say? (Not the systems)

6. Will physical birth and physical death continue to occur after Christ’s Second Coming? Will physical life, death, and creation as we know it continue after the appearance of Christ in the clouds? (Don’t you think I Cor. 15 would deal with this (24-26)? What do the scriptures say? (Not the systems)

7. Can men be savingly converted after Christ’s Second Coming? What do the scriptures say? (Not the systems)

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28 Comments:

Blogger mark pierson said...

Oooh, Susan, THIS POST ROCKS!!!

September 13, 2007 11:09 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Thanks, Mark.

I'm glad you like it and wish I could take credit for it. The blog which receives the credit is quite excellent.

You know, it occurred to me as I was reading these questions that I've discussed these things separately on different blogs in comments sections at different times, but when these questions are grouped together, they are more impactful.

Likewise, when Scripture is used as the guide and not any given theological system, well, that speaks for itself.

September 13, 2007 11:46 AM

 
Blogger Scribe said...

The problem I find with Nathan White's questions is that they seem to be loaded from the word "go". I am not acclimated with his eschatological framework, but if I were to guess, I would presuppose that he is an amillenialist.

Every theological system claims to be scriptural in nature,but logic tells me that theonomy, amillenialism, premillenialism can not all be scriptural because they are all contradictory one to the other. The issue at hand is one's hermeneutical approach to prophetic literature.

I doubt the alleged objectivity of this list of inquiries as its author/propagator is already convinced of his theological framework, thus arbitraily positing that his would be "biblical", thus rendering other systems, "unbiblical".

September 13, 2007 1:27 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Scribe,

I'm glad you commented. I hope Nathan White stops by and perhaps addresses your points from his perspective.

As for me, well, while I understand your point about everyone approaching Scriptures from his/her particular hermeneutic, one has to start somewhere.

I mean, when I read the scriptures before even knowing I had a hermeneutic or that I was premill (if even I was - I don't think I thought that deeply about it), I don't think I read into Scripture as much as I read over it. And pretty blithely accepted whatever the pastor told me scriptures said.

That was before I heard about the doctrines of grace. Since that time, I've done digging into Scripture for myself, and I think I've approached eschatology the same way I approached Reformed doctrine, which basically was "Can this really be true?"

To me, it resonates. It makes sense. And I'm not one to take these things lightly, with a 19-year-old son in the Israeli Defense Forces and who defines himself as Jewish. Believe me, it would be welcome for me to think that there's "two people" of God - that God has a "special plan" for Israel in the future - and that Gil will somehow come to know Christ or be saved because of his status as a genetic descendant of Abraham's.

But even if that's where my heart wants to be, that's not where my head says Scripture leads.

I don't see Nathan's questions as "loaded" so much as they are asking - What do the Scriptures say? The questions are about specific points, all of which are worth examining, and are not unfair questions to ask, I think.

September 13, 2007 3:01 PM

 
Blogger Scribe said...

I'm glad you commented.

Where you baiting me, Susan? ;D

As for me, well, while I understand your point about everyone approaching Scriptures from his/her particular hermeneutic, one has to start somewhere.

Agreed. But ultimately most Christians approach the scriptures far removed from a clean slate of objective analysis. Most of us are already suppositionally predisposed in our approach to the text.


Believe me, it would be welcome for me to think that there's "two people" of God - that God has a "special plan" for Israel in the future - and that Gil will somehow come to know Christ or be saved because of his status as a genetic descendant of Abraham's.

I don't believe in two plans of salvation and all must be saved the same way, by faith alone, in Christ alone notwithstanding that it is evident that the Lord has has judicially blinded Israel for her rejection of Messiah.

I don't see Nathan's questions as "loaded" so much as they are asking - What do the Scriptures say? The questions are about specific points, all of which are worth examining, and are not unfair questions to ask, I think.

So if objective analysis of the text is the main thrust of the author's intent...would someone else who comes to a different eschatological conclusion than the author convictions be seen as appropriating eisegesis?

BTW, most of the theologins I read are amillenialists....

September 13, 2007 6:46 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Wow,
Susan, what a great way to focus on these issues.

September 13, 2007 10:15 PM

 
Blogger Nathan White said...

Susan,
Thank you for for the kind words/link.

Scribe,

I see your point exactly, and I agree that, essentially, every question like this will be asked/viewed from our own presuppositional theological preferences. But a couple of comments:

When you say that "the issue...is one's hermeneutical approach to prophetic literature", I must slightly disagree.

First, isn't every single disagreement among Christians a hermeneutical one? Even a cursory glance at the many views of John 3:16, seemingly the most straightforward scripture out there, will reveal a plethora of positions. So I don't think that the hermeneutical issue solves much of anything.

Secondly, I do agree with you in general, as how to interpret Revelation 20 plays a large role in this debate. Same goes with some other OT passages and the book of Revelation. But scripture interprets scripture, and it does not contradict itself. Thus, we will expect to find the teachings of the correct view of Revelation 20 in other parts of scripture, rather than contradictions, correct? That is what I am advocating.

Next, I stressed in my post for the reader to lay aside OT prophesies and the book of Revelation when answering the questions. I'm not saying that those areas (prophetic texts) don't address the questions, but I wanted to point out that the gospels and the epistles, which are anything but 'prophetic' language, also address these issues, and their meaning is much easier to interpret.

It is my belief that the gospels and the epistles teach in very plain and straightforward language the true position, and that this teaching will not be contradicted by the prophetic portions.

Therefore, I certainly didn't mean to be condescending when I used the term 'biblical'; I simply wanted to communicate that there is only one true position, and that I believe it is clearer to us than most people think. I believe that contextual exegesis of the epistles will reveal that some of the questions I stated can be answered matter-of-factly in that we know scripture does not contradict scripture.

-Grace to you all,
Nathan

September 13, 2007 10:22 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Where you baiting me, Susan? ;D

Nah, not at all. I know you're teasin' me, Scribe, but I want you to be sure that I wasn't at all. I'm just glad when we can discuss our different views of Scripture openly and respectfully. That's why I'm glad you commented.

Most of us are already suppositionally predisposed in our approach to the text.

See, I'm not so sure I agree. To some extent that may be true. But experientially, I know that before the doctrines of grace, I just didn't have a 'hermeneutic' of which I was aware.

I mean, I didn't even know the word before coming to Reformed theology, but even then, I didn't think much about eschatology because, well, frankly, I hadn't heard anything other than premillenial dispensationalism and just never questioned it. Never fully understood it either, but that's somewhat beside the point.

I just accepted what was taught me at my church - and therefore I wasn't aware of my 'hermeneutic.' It's hard to say I even had one - although I unwittingly did perhaps.

That said, I think there are millions of Christians - at least in the US - who view Scripture the same way, if they read it at all.

I'm just saying that there are believers who don't always look at things through these theological lenses. I truly don't know that everybody does.

Once we start studying theology for ourselves and looking into varying systems, I'm willing to buy that we read through those systems more readily, but I can tell you from my own experience that until someone said to me that Matthew 24 may have already been fulfilled (in large part, not wholly), well, it never occurred to me. To me, NT prophetic pronouncements were always still in the future. I had never heard or considered any other way.

Therefore, when I heard about it, my jaw dropped as it did when I first read about Reformed theology - and my only reaction was "WHAT?" and "Can this be true?"

Well, the more I looked into it, the more it just clicked in my brain as logical. And like Nathan wrote, to me, it jives with other Scripture. Biblically, I find support for what I eventually understood is called partial preterism.

Later, amillenialism seemed to fit. But only because Scripture made more sense to me this way than in decades of learning the other way - which never sat well with me - but I always figured those Scriptures were just for greater minds than mine. I just wasn't "meant" to understand it.

Nowadays, I think entirely differently. I think Scripture was written to be understood - and by even the most simple and not the most erudite of scholars and theologians.

I never read Scripture through these theological lenses, and I've been studying the Bible for years now, but when I heard these things, they clicked and Scripture opened up to me in a whole new way.

I'm just saying that I've read Scripture for years and was unaware of a 'hermeneutic' if I had one, but when I learned of the doctrines of grace, the scriptures opened up to me in new ways that made sense and it wasn't because that was my hermeneutic at the time. It just resonated with me and made sense.

I don't know if I'm articulating this very well.

I don't believe in two plans of salvation and all must be saved the same way, by faith alone, in Christ alone notwithstanding that it is evident that the Lord has has judicially blinded Israel for her rejection of Messiah.

We're in 100 percent agreement.

would someone else who comes to a different eschatological conclusion than the author convictions be seen as appropriating eisegesis?

I don't presume to accuse anyone of eisegesis, unless we're discussing specific texts and unless I know better the theological systems to which we both subscribe, but even then, I don't think I know anyone well enough - at least not via the Internet - to accuse anyone of eisegesis. And I'm the least of anyone to discuss different theologies. I just know what I believe and why - for the most part. For the rest, well, I'm still learning...

September 13, 2007 10:53 PM

 
Blogger Scribe said...

Nathan,

Thank you for your graceful response though we stand on opposite sides of the eschatological spectrum.


Susan,

We agree on the pertinent issues; Action on the majors, acceptance on the minors, and in all things love. Don't worry, I'm still "fleshing" out my study of end times...besides, eschatology is not my passion...revival is! God bless ya sis!

September 13, 2007 11:27 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Bless you too, Scribe.

And I hope my passion isn't eschatology, but Christ. I keep asking God to fill me with more love for Him - to empty myself of self and fill it with love for Him. Every day (just about) I ask. I'm so unable on my own to love Him with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, all my strength.

Eschatology is just one of those things that I keep learning about in spite of myself. Honestly, it almost just seems to keep 'happening.' I know that sounds bizarre, but it just is. It's not even like I'm trying to learn about "end times." It's just trying to understand Scripture better.

Hey, I forgot to tell you, I ordered the soundtrack to Black Hawk Down for that song by Danez Somebody (Prigent? I can't recall) and Lisa Gerard. It finally came in, but I haven't picked it up yet. Do you know that the store I ordered it from said they're the only place to buy music CDs anymore (at least in our area)? Apparently everybody's downloading music and music stores aren't as commonplace as they once were. Reminds me of when I moved to France, and when I returned stateside a few years later I couldn't find a record store anywhere (but I'm dating myself, aren't I?)...

September 13, 2007 11:40 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Following his questions, the author writes, "My friends, if you look to the plain, literal, clear, precise teaching of the New Testament on these matters, and for the moment lay aside the tough language of Old Testament prophecies and tough symbolic language of Revelation 20, you will no doubt see the truth of God’s Word in the matter."

Does anyone see anything wrong with this? He does go on to say that we can go back to these texts after we have neglected them, but I agree with scribe that the situation is loaded.

September 14, 2007 12:49 AM

 
Blogger Scribe said...

Hey, I forgot to tell you, I ordered the soundtrack to Black Hawk Down for that song by Danez Somebody (Prigent? I can't recall) and Lisa Gerard. It finally came in, but I haven't picked it up yet. Do you know that the store I ordered it from said they're the only place to buy music CDs anymore (at least in our area)? Apparently everybody's downloading music and music stores aren't as commonplace as they once were. Reminds me of when I moved to France, and when I returned stateside a few years later I couldn't find a record store anywhere (but I'm dating myself, aren't I?)...

Yes, with the advent of the Ipod, Windows Zune, and other various mp3 players, I know cds will ultimately "bite the dust". I hope you enjoy your Black Hawk Down soundtrack...I did!

Don't worry about "dating" yourself...we're all just "pitching our tent" closer to eternity... ;D

September 14, 2007 6:32 AM

 
Blogger Scribe said...

Does anyone see anything wrong with this? He does go on to say that we can go back to these texts after we have neglected them, but I agree with scribe that the situation is loaded.

I did/do see a problem with this, but not wishing to further inflame the situation, I chose to 'back off" if you will...I respect Nathan's ministry even though I disagree with his viewpoints on prophecy.

I think you and I seem to be, more or less, in agreement per our eschatology(which I am still working through :0).

September 14, 2007 6:42 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Does anyone see anything wrong with this? He does go on to say that we can go back to these texts after we have neglected them,

I didn't read this so much as "neglecting" certain texts, as I read in this the practice of analogia fidei (analogy of the faith) - which is interpreting an unclear biblical text in light of clear passages that speak to the same subject rather than taking the literal sense of a more difficult text in isolation from the rest of Scripture. I think that's what Nathan was suggesting. Perhaps he'll stop by and explain his own words, but I didn't think he was saying, "just lay aside Scripture and don't worry about it."

See, I think he's speaking to the situation to which I was bumbling about earlier - which is when one doesn't subscribe to any particular school of theology. The vast majority of folks/believers who aren't in seminaries and maybe aren't inclined to know that there are different systems and certainly aren't instructed so by their churches.

I suppose I had presuppositions, but in the area of "eschatology" (which I'm now beginning to think is a bit of a misnomer for certain texts - they may be prophetic, but they may also have been fulfilled by now and therefore are not "last" in this present age)... in the area of eschatology, it was so far out of my reach - the schemes, the dispensations, the diagrams, the wild scenarios of the end, etc. Well, I know that I've heard other friends in churches express hesitation at even trying to understand the texts from which folks draw these systems.

Ok, I won't blather on any more about it. I'm just trying to say that taking things one piece at a time can be a good approach, and I think that's what Nathan was suggesting. To set aside to more difficult and try to grasp the more attainable (understandable) and from there move to the more complex.

September 14, 2007 8:25 AM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Bluecrew, to eliminate all OT prophecies does not seem to me to let Scripture interpret Scripture. This severely prejudices one's interpretation . . . and really one's understanding of Scripture itself, IMO. Well, I am responding on two blogs, so I think I will keep up the discussion over at Nathan's. Thanks for posting these questions, which are very good to ask!

September 14, 2007 9:40 AM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Previous comment should read, "eliminate all OT prophecies from the initial discussion"

September 14, 2007 9:41 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Bluecrew, to eliminate all OT prophecies does not seem to me to let Scripture interpret Scripture.

This is misinterpreting what Nathan was saying. I want to state that lest someone only read here and not check out Nathan's site.

I won't lift Nathan's answers to Jonathan's criticism here (because I don't know Nathan and don't want to offend him, otherwise, I probably would), but I encourage readers to check out Nathan's response over at his blog:

http://shepherdtheflock.com/

He addresses Jonathan's criticism mentioned here over at his own blog. Check it out.

September 14, 2007 11:52 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

So is Amillennialism not a system?

You can ask any provocative question and then say 'What do the Scriptures say? (Not the systems)'

How about:

Does God have body parts? What do the Scriptures say? (Hebrews 1:3, Genesis 1:26)

Do more than 144,000 go to heaven? What do the Scriptures say? (Rev 7:4, 14:1)

September 14, 2007 2:34 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I don't think Nathan or anyone else is suggesting that amillenialism is not a system.

Neither do I think the questions here are as far-fetched or obviously sarcastic as "Does God have body parts?"

With respect to 144,000, you're speaking only of Revelation. I think the questions here relate to searching more than one book of Scripture to find answers.

September 14, 2007 3:55 PM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Susan, some people actually do argue that God the Father has body parts in that manner, as though it should be obvious to anyone who reads the Bible.

The JWs use the same approach. I might have referred to the 'little flock' verse that they quote as well.

It is not enough to ask 'What do the Scriptures say?' we have to grapple with the principles by which we interpret the different parts of God's word.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

September 14, 2007 5:25 PM

 
Blogger Gayla said...

Matthew, good point. I agree wit'cha.

Susan, I completely and whole heartedly agree with you re: your 9/13 10:53pm comment.

Right now I'm in a very prayerful mode as to how to deal with (or maybe not deal with yet) some things my friend is bringing up to me. She has been my friend since the 4th grade, so there is a deep friendship at stake. She is basically a baby Christian, very naive right now, and quite gullible. No doubt God is at work in her life, but she is being drawn to some of the teachings of Joyce Meyer, Charles Stanley (harmless enough), Joel Osteen and the latest she's mentioned - (gulp)Creflo Dollar and Kenneth Copeland. She is zealous for the Lord and she is nothing but an encourager to me (especially right now). I'm not about to damage our friendship, nor am I going to come off as "more knowledgeable" than she. Correcting her would not be the right thing to do at this point in time. Anyway, I said all that to say, she most definitely has no hermeneutic, nor has she ever heard the word. She's not filtering the Word thru any system at the moment. All this stuff that we/y'all discuss would be so far over her head, it's not even funny.

I'm really learning that there has to be a balance with truth and grace. We need to come alongside someone and walk with them. I don't think most people will be 'convinced' by how all-knowing we are about the Scriptures.

OK, I suppose I just veered right off course. But it's uncanny how much we think alike on some things. :)

September 14, 2007 6:57 PM

 
Blogger Nathan White said...

Ah yes, responding on two blogs :) I certainly don't mind, as long as readers understand that there are some things stated there that won't be repeated here, and vise versa.

A few things...

-Let's NOT neglect Revelation or OT prophecies when answering these questions! But I would personally advocate letting the easier texts (gospels and epistles) teach us what they do, before going to the tougher ones. They will not contradict each other.

-Well, yes, everything is a 'system'. However, when I use that term I just want to avoid coming to conclusions based upon implications instead of explicit teaching. Starting with a system (like, 'the church isn't destined to wrath' so lets make sure their out of the way) and letting that trump the text, is what I seek to avoid. However, if you press it, yes, everything is in some sense a 'system'.

Nevertheless, if you're asking my personal opinion, no, I don't see Amillennialism as a system. Basically, I believe what appears to me as very obvious from scripture: when Christ comes back, it's all over. No systems, no charts, no timelines. Simply, when Christ appears, there is nothing else that remains. Technically, that isn't 'amillennialism', not rather 'non-millennialism'.

WOW. I am long winded; sorry about that folks :)

September 14, 2007 7:17 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I'm really learning that there has to be a balance with truth and grace. We need to come alongside someone and walk with them.

Gayla, I think this was most beautifully stated and right on-target. Not off-course or topic at all.

I do think there are plenty of Christians - and I mean true believers - who really don't have a clue about any hermeneutic they may use. I think of them as not unlike I once was - a new Christian, eager to read the Bible and just soaking in all I heard at church. Not that I agreed 100 percent with everything - just that it was all somewhat new (although I was familiar with Scripture, but walked away from faith in late teens and 20s to early 30s). When I came to faith in my late-30s, I was hungry and ate it all up – but I didn’t accept everything; I just couldn’t articulate or even understand what didn’t sit well with me or why. I hadn’t a clue.

Theology, Reformed doctrine, and eschatology - well, it would have been too much for me to chew on back then. So I do think there are true believers who really don't have a hermeneutic yet, but are growing in the faith, and that's where I think some of Nathan's questions also apply.

They apply not only to those who have looked into these things and have systems, but particularly as encouragement to folks to embrace Scriptures as wholly approachable and understandable - equally as spiritual as they are literal.

I think that one can identify passages as 'spiritual' as well as 'literal'. I remember asking my pastor some questions I had regarding who is Israel, and when I asked re: specific verses, "Is this symbolic or literal?,” he replied (more than once), "It's spiritual."

Well, that just opened another blessed door for me. I mean, what is the Bible after all if not a spiritual book?

Hey, Gayla. I guess I can veer around the topic too. But I agree with what you wrote – I’m not sure every true believer has a hermeneutic, as many are still developing their theologies without even knowing it. They’re just reading Scripture and soaking it in, drinking milk and working their way toward meat.

September 14, 2007 8:31 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Ok, I can’t resist. Cries of misrepresentation have gone out against me so I want to briefly respond. The basic issue I see with Nathan’s approach is that he is prima facie eliminating large swaths of Scripture from the initial discussion because he believes they are unclear. Nathan writes, “I think all would agree that the clearer texts shed light on the more symbolic texts –and that is the only thing I am advocating.” Yes, but it just so happens that those Scriptural references are not believed to be unclear or symbolic by those who object to his view. Hence, my disagreement over his use of language such as “plain, literal, clear, precise” to describe passages that he perceives to be such (which is subsequently agreed over). How can we “lay aside” the OT prophecies from the initial discussion when they are the very foundation of the NT? Perhaps the better approach would be to go to the texts that are foundational to each system instead of saying which one’s are off limits for the preliminary discussion. I think I might get the same response from you if I told you from the outset of our debate which passages you were allowed to use and which one’s you were not, which passages were clear and which ones were not.

Taking a step back, I think this really illustrates the point that the relationship of the testaments is a major issue between our systems.

September 14, 2007 10:11 PM

 
Blogger Nathan White said...

I have responded to Jonathan over my my site, here.
Great discussion!

September 15, 2007 12:17 AM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Me too, and I go on to explain why people from Georgia are strange. Ha!
;-)

September 15, 2007 12:31 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Nathan, surely all of us could come up with things that seem 'obvious' from the Scriptures.

I think it is ovvious thjat women should wear headcoverings, other people think it is obvious that this is unimportant.

I think it is obvvious that believers are eternally secure, other people think it is obvious that Christians can go to hell.

I think it is ovious that angels have bodies, other people think it is obvious that angels are bodiless spirits.

God Bless

Matthew

September 15, 2007 5:16 AM

 
Blogger Scribe said...

Matthew,

Good points...the truth of the matter is that no two people process information in the same exact way.

Everyone of us here subscribes to a system of theology, thus viewing scripture through the lens of that system.

When I find unrefutable proof that the premillenial position is biblically untenable, then shall I look for other viable options.

Amillenialism has its own inherent problems: the presupposed binding of Satan at this very moment(though there are a plethora speaking to the contrary), the supposed early dating of Rev. (RE: 70 AD). To the full blown preterist, the heretical view that Christ returned in 70 AD in a spiritual sense to the negation of scripture that every eye shall see Him. Just a few... Don't let me get started on some views of theonomy (man-centered kingdom now dominionism) I doubt the Lord needs our help to return to the earth and subjugate all things to Himself.

September 15, 2007 8:26 AM

 

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