Social Network Links
Powered by Squarespace
Search the Riddleblog
"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
« "Be Strong in the Lord" -- Ephesians 6:10-24 | Main | Andy and the Environmentalists »

Audio from Friday's Academy Lecture Posted

Here's the link to Friday's lecture, "The Church as the Israel of God"

Click here


Reader Comments (3)

got a typo there. I'm surprised spell Czech missed it.
October 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter"lee n. field"
Kim Riddlebarger's book A Case for Amillennialism is "riddled" with errors and problems. Here is a sampling of these errors:

First, Mr. Riddlebarger's book is not so much a "case for amillennialism" as it is an attempt to tear down Dispensational Theology and then throw in Covenant Amillennialism as some sort of viable alternative. This can be seen in numerous statements by Riddlebarger, such as on p.11: "My goal in writing this book is to humbly attempt to point out these errors [of dispensationalism] and provide what I think is a more biblical way to understand the Bible's teaching on the coming of the Lord and the millennial age."

Mr. Riddlebarger attempts to set up a strange "point of reference" as pertaining to issues of Church history and systematized theology. On p.11, Riddlebarger says: "My purpose is to set forth the historic Protestant understanding of the millennial age... Amillenarians believe that the millennium is a present reality (Christ's heavenly reign), not a future hope (Christ's rule on earth after his return)." Mr. Riddlebarger wishes his readers to view the Protestant position of the 15-1600's as a reference point when considering historical issues pertaining to these subjects. The problem here, of course, is that the earliest Church held to a futurist and premillennial understanding of Biblical Eschatology. The Amillennial view, along with its associated Historicist or Preterist views, simply did not exist in the first few centuries following the Apostolic age, and they are utterly opposed to the clear declarations of all important Christians (including Papias, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and etc.) Riddlebarger's wish to set the "reference point" in the 15-1600's is an obvious attempt to sidestep important Christian History issues facing his Covenant Amillennial position.

Riddlebarger likes to illustrate Dispensationalists as irrational dogmatic folks who condemn to Hell all those who disagree. For example, on p.10 he says: "From my earliest youth I was taught that a secret rapture of Christian believers was a cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith." This simply is not a true representation of Dispensationalists. Dispensationalists believe that Covenant Amillennialists (and many others) will be caught up in the rapture to meet the Lord in the air. It will be a pleasant suprise to them!

Riddlebarger attempts to misapply some crazy ideas to Dispensational Theology in general. On p.10 he says: "Many of us thought that the coming and going of Y2K and the beginning of a new millennium would cause people to question dispensational assumptions and preoccupation with signs of the end." Why would many of us think Dispensational Theology would fade out once Y2K came and went? No reputable Dispensational author said any such thing concerning the Y2K issue. And, in fact, some men such as Gary North (a preterist postmillennialist) made a big old fat issue out of Y2K. I imagine mislead individuals from every walk made wild claims about Y2K, but Riddlebarger feels the need to suggest that this was a prodominately Dispensational issue which failed. The whole idea is phony baloney. Suffice it to say the silly Y2K idea had no essential connection to Dispensational Theology whatsoever.

Just when did the Messianic Kingdom begin according to Riddlebarger? You tell me. Riddlebarger uses passages such as Luke 17:20-21 to suggest that the kingdom was already existing during Christ's ministry, and then he turns around and uses passages such as Acts 2:30-36 to suggest that the kingdom started at Christ's resurrection, or perhaps at his ascension, or perhaps at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This confusing and self-contradicting position has never been justified by amillennialists over the centuries. The amillennial proof-texts all contradict each other. Amillennialists have always failed to answer this problem, and Riddlebarger doesn't bring any new solutions to the table in this book. In fact, he passes right over this age old problem as though it doesn't even exist.

Riddlebarger has a bad habit of applying general premillennial ideas to Dispensationalism in particular. For example, on p.24-25 he says: "The literal fulfillment of these two covenants (the Abrahamic and the Davidic) figures prominently in the dispensational system." Actually, this figures prominently in all premillennial systems.

Riddlebarger confuses/blends "premillennialism" and "dispensationalism," and confuses/blends "Covenantalism" and "amillennialism." He then bases a few arguments off these confusions of terms. For example, on p.32 he says: "Because amillennialism has its roots deep in historic Christianity, when it comes to comparing amillennialism with dispensationalism, clearly the burden of proof lies with dispensationalists to prove their case." Why is he comparing amillennialism to dispensationalism? Shouldn't he be comparing amillennialism to premillennialism? And shouldn't he be comparing Covenantalism to Dispensationalism? The reason he does this is obvious: He wants his readers to think his system is WAY OLDER than Dispensational Theology. However, a careful reader will not be fooled by this slight-of-hand. If Dispensational Theology were rightly compared against Covenant Theology, both sides would admit that their systematized theologies are relatively recent in origin (Covenant theology being only about 200 or so years older than Dispensational Theology). And, if Premillennialism were rightly compared against Amillennialism, we would see that Premillennialism was the Apostolic and Ante-Nicene belief, whereas Amillennialism was a fourth century trend which finds its roots in Gnosticism rather than Orthodox Christianity.

Riddlebarger completely misrepresents the typical premillennial understanding of Revelation 20. On p.87 he complains: "Who are these people who are still on earth at the end of the millennial age who revolt against Christ? Are they the redeemed? If so, the premillennialist has just introduced a 'second fall' of humanity into sin into the course of redemptive history. This time, however, we have a fall of glorified saints after the resurrection and the judgment... Premillennialists, who insist upon a literal one thousand years in Revelation 20:2, do so even though the consequence of this exegetical decision is the revolt of the redeemed against the Redeemer in verses 7-10." On p.233 he says: "If true, this millennial apostasy is tantamount to a second fall. Not even resurrected and glorified saints are safe from the future wrath of Satan and the unbelieving nations." The problem here is that NO premillennialists have EVER claimed that it is the resurrected saints who rebel against Christ at the close of the kingdom age. Neither can Riddlebarger demonstrate that his new-fangled idea is the plain meaning of the text in question. Riddlebarger is criticising a position which does not exist. Premillennialists have always pointed out that mortal Israelites and Gentile nations exist during the kingdom age, and it is many of THESE who Satan gathers against the kingdom at the close of the millennial age. Riddlebarger only demontrates his complete ignorance of the issues here when he makes this charge against Dispensational Theology (or ANY premillennial position for that matter).

Riddlebarger completely misrepresents the dispensational interpretation of Matthew 25. On p.233 he says: "In passages such as Matthew 25:31-46, where it is explicitly taught that the final judgment occurs when our Lord returns, premillenarians instead argue that there is a gap of one thousand years between our Lord's return and the final judgment." But dispensationalists do not apply the Matthew 25 judgment to the close of the millennial age, and NO dispensationalist has ever suggested a gap here. It seems odd that Riddlebarger, in all his alleged years as a dispensationalist struggling with this passage, did not bother even to look up Scofield's notes concerning this passage. This should raise a red flag in the minds of all readers here. Riddlebarger uses an "ex-dispensationalist" claim to buff up his criticism of our position, yet he seems to lack some very basic understandings of our position. Just be warned of this, reader.

Riddlebarger spreads the common lie that Israel's rejection of Messiah was a "suprise" to God, and that the Church was a "hasty fix" to the problem. On p.103 Riddlebarger says: "God is delaying the kingdom for the lengthy period of time known as the church age or the 'great parenthesis' between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks of Daniel. The present dispensation results from <u>humanity's ability to frustrate God's redemptive-historical purposes</u>... despite Walvoord's efforts to insist that God is sovereign, <u>the lack of human cooperation frustrated his plan</u>, thereby <u>forcing</u> a delay in its inauguration for at least two thousand years. But the New Testament knows nothing of a kingdom offered and a kingdom withdrawn <u>according to the whims of unbelieving Israel</u>." On p.118 Riddlebarger says: "Therefore, <u>the church age functions as a 'plan B' during this present dispensation</u>. Israel has rejected the kingdom offer made by Jesus, creating the present parenthesis phase of redemption until God again deals with ethnic Israel at the beginning of the great tribulation after the rapture of the Gentile church." On p.123 Riddlebarger says: "<u>The church is not a 'plan B' or a contingency developed by God in hasty response to Israel's rejection of Jesus</u> and his messianic kingdom. . . . From this, it should be clear that Jesus did not consider the Gentile church as <u>an afterthought on God's part</u>." This simply is not what Dispensationalists teach concerning the Church age. Riddlebarger NEVER quotes any Dispensationalists who teach this. Riddlebarger seems to be perfectly ignorant of the Pauline revelation of the Church, which says that the Church was "hid in God" and "not revealed in ages past" (Ephesians 3, Colossians 1, etc.). This failure on Riddlebarger's part immediately calls his "ex-dispensationalist" claims into question. How could an ex-dispensationalist be so TOTALLY WRONG on such important issues concerning the nature and purpose of the Church? Even if he disagrees with our view, he shouldn't misrepresent it and slander it as he does in this miserable book.

Riddlebarger ridicules the futurist interpretation of Daniel 9, thus: "The insertion of a gap of at least two thousand years between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week is a self-contradictory violation of the dispensationalist's professed literal hermeneutic. Where is the gap to be found in the text? Dispensationalists must insert it." (p.153) Other examples can be provided. In this statement, Riddlebarger reveals his incompetence when it comes to historical-grammatical interpretation of the prophecy ("violation of the... literal hermeneutic"), and he reveals his ignorance of the theme of "imminency" ("insertion of a gap of at least two thousand years"). He also reveals his ignorance of Church History, for this futurist interpretation of the Daniel 9 prophecy is the oldest Christian interpretation (see Irenaeus, Against Heresies, book 5, ch.25; Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist; Hippolytus, On Daniel). Riddlebarger fails to understand that his interpretation of Daniel 9 is a new-fangled interpretation which a) relies upon a spiritualizing of the final part of the prophecy, and b) which contradicts the earliest Christian interpretation of the prophecy. Riddlebarger fails to answer these age old objections to his position, and he even seems to pretend as though these solid objections don't even exist.

Riddlebarger raises childish complaints against the futurist position. For example, when speaking on Daniel 9:27, Riddlebarger says (on p.153): "The failure to acknowledge the obvious covenantal context of the messianic covenant maker of verse 27, who confirms a covenant with many, leads dispensationalists to confuse Christ with antichrist. A more serious interpretive error is hard to imagine." Of course, this silly remark is easily turned against the Amillennial interpretation of Daniel 9, especially considering that we have the earliest Christians on OUR SIDE. We could say: "Covenantalists, due to their simpleminded application of the 'covenant' idea, and due to their ignorance of the context of the prophecy as provided in Daniel's prayer and Gabriel's response, end up applying the actions of Antichrist to Messiah himself! A more serious interpretive error is hard to imagine!" Mmmm... These are the kinds of childish antidispensationalist sneers you will encounter in Riddlebarger's dismal book.

Additionally, Riddlebarger's book fails to answer many of the age old problems which have plagued Covenant Amillennialism over the years. He offers no solid treatment of the Abrahamic Covenant, nor does he offer any justification for the new morphed meaning of the Covenant per Covenant Theology. He offers no solid treatment of the Davidic Covenant, nor does he offer any justification for the new morphed meaning of the Covenant per Covenant Theology. He offers no solution to the problems of Daniel 7, such as a) the literal fulfillments right up to the last part but then a sudden "spiritual fulfillment" of the most important part, and b) the chronological problem in which the passage clearly places the Great Tribulation as a brief period immediately preceding the advent of the Lord and establishing of the kingdom. Riddlebarger doesn't even approach these problems in his book.

Keep in mind folks, the above examples are only a sampling of the extensive factual errors and misrepresentations which permeate the book.

In conclusion: This is a very disappointing book which fails to present a solid case for amillennialism, and which presents a dismal and inacurrate "critique" of Dispensational Theology. The book should have been called A Silly Smear Campaign Against Dispensational Theology.
October 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterzechariah
Zechariah: Good points all.

I tire of the argument back and forth, though. I think that covenant theology has much to commend itself. Saying that, "Progressive DIspensationism" was attempt to recognize that some "popular" dispensational agurment were weak.

To my simple mind, I think that the Church is indeed a extension of the company of the redeemed...and extension of Israel. We enter into those blessings and we benefit from the understanding of Law, even while being under (what we like to call) the age of Grace. In truth, God's law is law now. And God's grace was gracious then. Still, I see, as do most, distinctions in how that plays out. Thus Paul's teachings.

To me, that is what dispensational thinking means. Nothing more. Whether or not the return is Pre or Post Millennial... or whether there is no millennial kingdom at all.... this is a separate issue. And in the big picture of what we see, is it crucial whether the present kingdom is all there is, or whether God chooses to ordain another kingdom at a future time?

In Christ,
October 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.