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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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Thursday
Jul202006

What's a Thousand Years Among Friends?

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What's a Thousand Years Among Friends?

Why amillennialism makes a whole lot more sense than premillennialism

(A lecture given at Grace Evangelical Church, URCNA, in Torrance, CA, July 19, 2006--Click here: Grace Evangelical Church:  A Member of the United Reformed Churches in North America)

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Without a doubt, most American evangelicals are firmly committed to premillennialism–the belief that an earthly millennial age of one thousand year’s duration will begin immediately after our Lord Jesus Christ’s Second Advent. Since premillennialism is so dominant in American church circles, many who encounter Reformed theology for the first time are quite surprised when they discover that all of the Protestant Reformers, as well as virtually the entire Reformed and Lutheran traditions (along with their confessions), with a few notable exceptions, are amillennial. Amillennialism is that understanding of eschatology which sees the millennium as the present course of history between the first and second Advents of our Lord (the age of the church militant), and not as a future golden age upon the earth as is taught in premillennialism and postmillennialism. In the case of both "pre" and "post" millennialism, the millennium is thought to be the age of the church triumphant, not the age of the church militant.

I am convinced that the reason why so many people reject amillennialism is simply that they do not understand the basic end-times scenario taught throughout the New Testament. Part of the problem is that dispensational premillennial writers have completely dominated Christian media and publishing for the last fifty years. There are literally hundreds of books, churches, and parachurch ministries, all devoted to taking premillennialism, dispensationalism, and the so-called "pre-tribulation" rapture idea to the masses. Many of these teachers and ministries are very effective and compelling in their presentations. Look at the sales of Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth, which was the best-selling book in the USA in the 1980's. And then there is the Left Behind series of novels, and the accompanying videos, journals, games, and whatever else LaHaye and Jenkins have cranked out, which have cumulatively sold well over 50 million units.

I can only lament the fact that my own tradition has done so little to produce popular books introducing and defending amillennialism. It is my guess that a number of you have never heard the case for the classical position held by Reformed Christians regarding the return of Christ and the millennial age.

To read the rest of this lecture, click here

Monday
Jul172006

What Is It About the White Horse Inn?

whi pirates.jpgWhat is it about the White Horse Inn that causes people to put our pictures on airplanes (Click here: Riddleblog - The Latest Post - Rod Air -- Come Fly With Me) or on mountains (Click here: Riddleblog - The Latest Post - The Romans Revolution Continues)?

The latest witty creation is courtesy of White Horse Inn listener, Brian Ring (http://myfakeposters.blogspot.com/).

Any thoughts?

I think Rod would make a great Johnny Depp type character!  He really shouldn't be stuck on a woman's body!

Wednesday
Jul122006

Rod Air -- Come Fly With Me

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My dear friend and White Horse Inn compatriot, Rod Rosenbladt, has been acting a little funny lately.  You know, like he's got something going on that he can't tell you about. 

Well, his secret is out.  There's a reason why he's no longer flying on Alaska. 

Rod Air . . .  Get in.  Sit down.  Shut up!  Hang on!

(thanks to Mark Vander Pol)

Wednesday
Jul052006

Who Said That?

question mark.jpgWho Said That?

"Those who find their own experience written in the seventh chapter of Romans [i.e. Romans 7:13-25] are not converted persons.  If that is their habitual character, they are not regenerated, they are under conviction, but not Christians . . . . You see, from this subject, the true position of a vast number of church members.  They are all the time struggling under the law.  They approve of the law, both in its precept and its penalty, they feel condemned, and desire relief.  But still they are unhappy.  They have no Spirit of prayer, no communion with God, no evidence of adoption.  They only refer to the 7th [chapter] of Romans as their evidence.  Such a one will say, `There is my experience.'  Let me tell you, that if this is your experience, you are yet in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity. . . .  You are yet carnal, sold under sin, and unless you embrace the gospel you will be damned."

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This is awful.  Who is bearer of such glad tidings?

 

Friday
Jun302006

Jack Bauer and His "Man Bag"

jack-bauer-in-action.jpgOK.  I admit it.  I love "24."  I don't get to watch it on TV, but do enjoy it on DVD when I can watch more than one episode at a time.

If you are a 24 fan, you are probably aware of all the Jack Bauer jokes making their way around the internet.

More than likely, you've also seen the discussion about Jack's "man bag," (as seen in the picture).  Some have used this to challenge Jack's legendary toughness.  "If Jack Bauer is so tough, why does he carry a purse?"  His defenders reply, "That's not a purse, its a sack of whoopass!"

In the bag, Bauer carries his handgun, numerous magazines (he seems to have an unlimited supply for any gun and caliber he happens to be using), his cell (which always has four bars--who is his provider?), and his trusty PDA which keeps him connected to Chloe and others back at CTU.

But for once, I am on the cusp of male fashion!  I have carried a "man bag" for years--my trusty leather satchel.  While I keep my Glock and extra mags at home, I too, am fully prepared for any contingency.

I have my emergency meds (eucalyptus cough drops, sinus stuff, aspirin, and Immodium--whether they admit or not, every preacher's greatest fear is that "Immodium moment" when you are in front of a congregation).  I also have my weapons:  my Bible, the ecumenical creeds and Reformed confessions, a copy of the church order, and whatever book I may need depending upon my current assignment (i.e. Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology, Horton's book God of Promise).  I also have support materials, such as business cards, dry erase markers (you never know when you'll need them), and a tin of altoids.  I am fully prepared for any contingency.

But are others as well prepared?  What does Rick Warren carry in his "man bag"?  What about an emergent church pastor?  What does he (or she) carry around?  What about an Arminian or a dispensationalist?

Any thoughts?

Wednesday
Jun282006

Finally, the Beast Revealed!

 

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At last . . . I am ready to reveal the location, if not the identity, of the beast.

The fragment of Revelation (pictured here), contains a textual variant from Revelation 13:18, which indicates that the true number of the beast is not 6-6-6, but 6-1-6.

And 616 is, of course, the area code for . . . Grand Rapids!

(And just in case you have no sense of humor, this is a joke!).

Tuesday
Jun272006

Isaiah 65:17-25? Earthly Millennium? Or Eternal State?

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Eschatology Q and A.

Question 1:  One of the trickiest passages to interpret from any eschatological viewpoint is Isaiah 65:17-25--especially verse 20.  What is your view on the meaning of this passage?

Question 2:  I was glad to see the question re: Isa. 65:17-25, particularly v. 20.  I remain convinced that the amil position easily does most justice to the whole counsel of God. It seems to me that there's nigh-well an avalanche of problems with the pre-mil (and post-mil) position(s), as well as a comparable avalanche of passages supportive of the amil (two age) scheme. Furthermore, regardless of the meaning of Isa. 65:20ff (and parallels), I see nothing in these verses that matches what's going on in Rev. 20:1-10. Just as the Isaiah passage says nothing about a millennium, so Rev. 20 says nothing about people bearing children, building houses, etc.

But the precise meaning of Isa. 65:20ff eludes me, in terms of what the best way of understanding Isaiah's point is. Is Isaiah conflating something in the present age with something in eternity? Or is he simply speaking non-literally so as to employ language in a way that accentuates the glorious conditions of the new heavens and earth? I anxiously await your response!

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Kim Riddlebarger’s answer:

According to dispensationalists, Isaiah is referring to the millennial age on earth during the 1000 year reign of Christ after his return to earth (cf. J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, 487-490). For reasons we will soon explore this cannot be the case.

According to postmillennarians, this passage this passage refers to the latter day glory of the church on the earth. John Jefferson Davis writes, "the blessings of the church’s latter-day glory spoken of in Isaiah 11:6-9 are reiterated and expanded in Isaiah 65:17-25. The intensified period of spiritual blessing produces conditions in the world that are termed `new heavens and a new earth.’ (V. 17). This refers to the dramatic moral renovation of society rather than to the eternal state, since Isaiah speaks of a time when children are still being born (v. 20), when people are still building houses and planting vineyards (v. 21) and engaging in their earthly labors (v. 22). Paul uses similar language when he says that salvation in Christ is like a `new creation’ (2 Cor. 5:17), or again in Gal. 6:15, `for neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.’ The conditions of health and temporal peace of which Isaiah speaks in 65:17-25 are not the essence of the gospel, but they are properly the consequences of the gospel when its impact is intensive and extensive in the world. The message of reconciliation with God also produces as its fruit reconciliation between man and man and even with the natural order itself. It should also be noted that 65:17-25 makes no reference to the Messiah’s physical presence on earth. In the latter days, God desires to create in Jerusalem (the church) a rejoicing (v. 18). But the realities of verses 18-25 refer neither exclusively to the eternal state nor to the time following the second advent, but rather to the messianic age when Christ still rules at the right hand of the Father in heaven." (Cf. John Jefferson Davis, The Victory of Christ’s Kingdom: An Introduction to Postmillennialism [Canon Press], 37-38).

For four important reasons, I think both the premil and postmil interpretations stumble badly.

First, as Motyer points out, Isaiah 65:1-66:24 is a chiasm, in terms of its structure. This simply means that the logic of the passage flows from the opening verse (Isaiah 65:1–A1) and the final verses (66:18-21-A2)–both of which deal with those who have not heard nor sought the Lord–toward the middle of the chiasm, i.e. A1 (65:1), B1 (vv. 2-7), C1 (vv. 8-10), D1 (vv.11-12) E (vv. 13-25), D2 (66:1-4), C2 (66:5-14), B2 (66:15-17), A2 (18-21). In this case, Isaiah 65:13-25-E is the middle of the chiasm, and is therefore the central theme of the entire prophecy and speaks of the joy of the Lord’s servants in the new creation. This means that the central truth (or high point) of this entire prophecy is found in the middle of the chiasm, not the end (vv. 66:22-24), which speaks of Jerusalem as the center of the world. (See J. Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary [IVP], 522-523).

The point is this. The key part of the whole passage is the section in question (vv. 17-25) which deals with the new creation with its Zion. Steps A1-D1 and A2-D2 must be fulfilled before the hoped-for reality (E) comes to pass. Given the structure of the prophecy as a whole, the climax of the passage is the eternal state (the new heavens and earth), not a half-way redeemed earth in which people experience life-extension, only to die later on.

Second, verses 17-20 of Isaiah 65 are composed of two poems. One is a poem of the new creation (vv. 17-18b), the other is a poem of the city and its people (vv. 18c-20). As Motyer points out, "throughout this passage Isaiah uses aspects of present life to create impressions of the life that is yet to come. It will be a life totally provided for (13), totally happy (19cd), totally secure (22-23) and totally at peace (24-25). Things we have no real capacity to understand can be expressed only through things we know and experience. So it is that in the present order of things death cuts off life before it has begun or before it has fully matured. But it will not be so then" (Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah, 530). In other words, metaphors are used of things neither we nor Isaiah can fully understand. The poetic structure surely points in this direction.

Third, as Meredith Kline points out, the language here reflects covenantal blessings now magnified in light of new heavens and earth. These blessings take us well beyond the natural order, but can only be understood in light of the natural order (Kline, Kingdom Prologue,152-153).

Fourth, is Isaiah telling us that as a result of the spread of the gospel ("moral renovation" in Jefferson’s terms), people will live longer, only to die? Where does the gospel promise long life? It promises eternal life! In fact, isn’t the whole point of prophecy clearly stated in verse 17. "I will create new heavens and a new earth?" This is a time subsequent to Revelation 20:1-10, which describes the binding of Satan and the reign of the saints in heaven after suffering upon the earth, only to end in a great apostasy before the final judgment. Both pre and post millennarians must assign this prophecy to the same period of time as Revelation 20. But given the chiastic structure and use of metaphor, isn’t it far better to see Isaiah 65:17-25 as describing the same time frame as Revelation 21, which is clearly describing the eternal state? I certainly think so.

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More questions and answers are archived here, Click here: Riddleblog - Answers to Questions About Eschatology
Friday
Jun232006

On Baptists and Booze

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At the annual meeting of the Southern Baptists, the following resolution was approved.  The spirit of prohibition lives on!

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Resolution No. 5


ON ALCOHOL USE IN AMERICA

WHEREAS, Years of research confirm biblical warnings that alcohol use leads to physical, mental, and emotional damage (e.g., Proverbs 23:29-35); and

WHEREAS, Alcohol use has led to countless injuries and deaths on our nation's highways; and

WHEREAS, The breakup of families and homes can be directly and indirectly attributed to alcohol use by one or more members of a family; and

WHEREAS, The use of alcohol as a recreational beverage has been shown to lead individuals down a path of addiction to alcohol and toward the use of other kinds of drugs, both legal and illegal; and

WHEREAS, There are some religious leaders who are now advocating the consumption of alcoholic beverages based on a misinterpretation of the doctrine of "our freedom in Christ"; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, express our total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge that no one be elected to serve as a trustee or member of any entity or committee of the Southern Baptist Convention that is a user of alcoholic beverages.

RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists to take an active role in supporting legislation that is intended to curb alcohol use in our communities and nation; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists to be actively involved in educating students and adults concerning the destructive nature of alcoholic beverages; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we commend organizations and ministries that treat alcohol-related problems from a biblical perspective and promote abstinence and encourage local churches to begin and/or support such biblically-based ministries.

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For a thoughtful and pastoral response from Justin Taylor, Click here: Between Two Worlds: The SBC Resolution on Alcohol

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Meanwhile, I went shopping for a new refrigerator.  I think I found the one I want.

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Any thoughts?

 

Thursday
Jun222006

Who Said That?

question mark.jpgWho said that?

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"The best honor is that which a man gains in communion with the Most High. Jabez, we are told, was more honorable than his brothers, and his prayer is immediately recorded, as if to insinuate that he was also more prayerful than his brothers. We are told of the petitions in his prayer. All through the prayer it was very significant and instructive. We have only time to take one part of it - indeed, that one part may be said to comprehend the rest: `Oh, that you would bless me!'

I recommend [the prayer of Jabez] as a prayer for each one of you, dear brothers and sisters; one which will be available at all times; a prayer to begin Christian life with, a prayer to end it with, a prayer which would always be appropriate in your joys or in your sorrows.  Oh that you, the God of Israel, the covenant God, would bless me!"

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Go to it!  Please, no google searches or cheating!

Monday
Jun192006

Some Dos and Don'ts of Evangelism

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Some "Dos and Don’ts" of Evangelism

Taken from lectures on evangelism, "Telling People the Truth in Love," now posted on the Riddleblog (click here)

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1. Be clear about what you believe and why you believe it. Know the Scriptures and know the confessions and catechisms. The more you know about your faith, the easier it is to talk with non-Christians.

2. The essence of evangelism is communicating the correct information about sin and grace, simply and clearly. Talk about the law and the gospel, not about infralapsarianism and divine simplicity. That comes later!

3. Avoid the use of Christian jargon. Speak about real sin, real guilt, real shed blood!

4. Use tact and be charitable! Don’t talk about reprobation with someone who has just lost an unbelieving family member. Be kind and courteous! Many non-Christians act and speak out of ignorance, not malice.

5. Be sensitive to someone’s past—if they’ve had a bad experience in church, struggle with a particular sin etc., be understanding and compassionate! Non-Christians hate self-righteousness, and they have a right to do so. Do not soft-peddle the law and the guilt of sin, but make sure they understand that you are a justified sinner, not a self-righteous "know it all," who is here to correct them!

6. Stick with the subject—don’t get side-tracked. When the conversation wanders, pull it back to center stage—the law and the gospel.

7. Evangelism is not about winning an argument, but leading people to Christ. Discussions may get heated and intense at times—that’s okay. But the purpose of evangelism is not to show why you are right and they are wrong. It is to communicate the truth of the gospel. The message is to be the offence. Not you!

8. When people are apathetic about sin—use the law. When people have doubts or are skeptical—use basic apologetic arguments. When people express guilt for sin—present the gospel.

9. Evangelism is about leading non-Christians to Christ. Convincing evangelicals that Reformed theology is true, falls under the heading of polemics. Don’t confuse the two.

10. Stick with what all Christians hold in common wherever possible. Leave the internecine fighting among Christians aside when talking to non-Christians. A non-Christian will not care much about why the Lutheran view of the Lord’s Supper is in error, or why Baptists are wrong about infant baptism. That will come during catechesis.

11. Wherever possible, speak about Christianity as factually true— "Jesus did this," "Jesus said this," "people heard and saw him," etc. Keep away from the subjective line of approach— "it works for me."

12. Pray for wisdom.

13. Trust in the power of God the Holy Spirit working through the word! Cite texts directly from the Scriptures with attribution. Jesus says, Paul says....Not, "I think," or "it seems to me."

14. Don’t rush things. Just because someone is not ready to trust in Christ after one encounter does not mean that effective evangelism has not taken place. Pre-evangelism is equally vital. You may plant, but someone else may have to water.

15. Treat people as objects of concern, not notches in your belt. Establish relationships and friendships whenever possible.

16. Don’t forget that a prophet is without honor in his own home. The chances of you leading your own unbelieving family members [or someone close to you] to Christ are remote. Pray for someone else to come and evangelize your family!

17. Don’t force things. If people balk, ridicule and otherwise are not interested, back off. Find another time and place. If after repeated attempts to communicate the gospel, and someone still shows an unwillingness to hear what you have to say, "shake the dust off your feet and move on to a new town!"

18. Be willing to get people the resources they need: be willing to provide them with a Bible, the right book to read, and certainly an invitation to attend your church or Bible study, etc.

19. Pray for opportunities to evangelize. Pray for your church—that God would bless the preaching of his word, that he would bring non-Christians into our midst, and that he would bless the church with growth.

20. You don’t have to become a practical Arminian to be a faithful evangelist! A Reformed approach to evangelism simply means telling people the truth in love.