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

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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Thursday
Feb012007

An Unusual (but Very Cool) Encounter

Mountain.jpg

I'm a child of the sixties.  So it will come as no surprise that I'm an old rock n' roll fan from way back.  One of my favorite bands was Mountain (Leslie West, Felix Pappalardi and Corky Laing)--critically acclaimed, but not much of a commercial success.  

Mountain's guitar-player, Leslie West, is, in my humble opinion, one of the best from that era.  My all-time favorite guitar solo is found in the blues tune "Stormy Monday," recorded at the Atlanta Pop festival back in 1970.  Through the years, I've played that song over and over and over.  I still listen to it.  You'd be surprised how many things I've written through the years while Mountain's live version of "Stormy Monday" was playing in the background. 

Tony Snow.jpgI also have a great deal of respect for Tony Snow, now Bush's press secretary.  Tony is always a gentlemen in the midst of the lion's den.  He's a cancer survivor and hosted a very popular radio show, when not on Fox News.  I knew he was a musician (guitar, flute and sax), but had never seen him play.

All of that is to say, what happens when Tony Snow meets Leslie West to the tune of "Stormy Monday"?  Click here: YouTube - tony snow plays the blues

This is too cool!  But you've got to watch the whole thing.  Hint--Leslie is not the guitar player, but the singer.

Monday
Jan292007

Yes, I See That Hand . . .

Jeffrey Dahmer.jpg

Jeffrey Dahmer was a brutal killer and deserved life in prison, if not the death penalty.

Supposedly, Jeffrey Dahmer become a Christian while in prison, and his pastor actually felt that he had the gifts to become an effective evangelist before his death at the hands of another inmate. Click here: Would serial killer Dahmer have been an evangelist? | US News | Reuters.com

This raises a number of interesting and troubling questions. No doubt the grace of God can reach even Jeffrey Dahmer. But Jeffrey Dahmer as an evangelist? That's a tough one. The pastor who baptized Dahmer is writing a book about Dahmer's 1994 conversion. How objective is the author? And if Dahmer actually became a Christian (and it would be wonderful if he did) what would repentance look like in the case of a man who killed 17 boys, raped many more, and cannibalistically consumed many of them? What would the families of his victims think?

And then there's the added problem of Christopher Scarver, who killed Dahmer in prison because he claimed "God told him to."  Makes you wonder about providence . . .

This whole thing raises a lot of interesting questions. There's certainly no question that even a Jeffrey Dahmer is not beyond the reach of God's grace--the merits of Christ are no doubt sufficient to justify the vilest sinner. Let's hope this was not just another jail house conversion with the goal of more prison privileges, or a crass  ploy to sell some books.

But the cynic in me says that Dahmer sure would have an interesting testimony! 

Your thoughts? 

Monday
Jan292007

Who Said That?

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Who Said That?

" . . . the first place we should look for God in the War on Terror would be in the smouldering ruins of the Twin Towers, in the tears of the widows and children on that terrible day five years ago, and then in the ruins of Baghdad and Basra, the shattered homes and lives of the tens of thousands who have through no fault of their own been in the wrong place at the wrong time as the angry superpower, like a rogue elephant teased by a little dog, has gone on the rampage stamping on everything that moves in the hope of killing the dog by killing everything within reach."

Please leave your guesses in the comments section below!  No google searches!  You must guess!  And don't spoil it for everyone else.

Wednesday
Jan242007

The Binding of Satan

eschatology q and a.jpg

Eschatology Q & A:

Erancal asks (November 16, 2006):

"This goes to the question of the meaning of the `binding’ of Satan in Revelation 20. Does Jude 6, in which fallen angels are said to be in everlasting chains in darkness awaiting the final judgment, have any relevance to Rev. 20 (see also 2 Peter 2:4)? If so, how?"

Dr. Riddlebarger’s answer:

Erancal, the simple answer to your question is "probably not." The reference in 2 Peter 2:4-6 to angels being kept in chains in Tartarus (ESV, "hell") until the judgment, also has a time reference: "when they sinned." This would place the binding of such angels at the time of Satan’s fall, or else as Peter indicates in verse 5, at the time of Noah. More than likely, this refers to the time of the fall of Satan in ages past. Jude likewise speaks of these angels being bound until the day of judgment. This is possibly the subject of Isaiah 24:21-22. Other than this scant mention, there are no others texts which speak to this (that I know of). So, at the time of Satan’s fall, or at the time of Noah and the flood, a number of fallen angels were bound, and are presently awaiting the time of final judgment. Anything more is pure speculation.

Does this binding of fallen angels relate to Revelation 20 and to John’s reference to the binding of Satan? Probably not directly, although the same kind of thing might be in view (by comparison). According to Revelation 20:3, the purpose of Satan being bound is "so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended" (ESV). The timing of the binding of Satan, it seems to me, is directly tied to Christ’ victory over death and the grave in his resurrection. Jesus has already told us in Revelation 1:18 that "I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades." Whether or not Christ is the angel who is said to bind Satan in Revelation 20:1-3, the fact of the matter is that it is the resurrection which gives him the keys (authority) over Death and Hades, which is the abode of the dragon (Satan). Thus Christ’s authority (through the preaching of the gospel) is that which binds Satan during the course of this present age. I refer you to the outstanding discussion of this in G. K. Beale’s commentary, Revelation, New International Greek Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 984-991.

Michael binding Satan.jpg

David Betz asks (January 11, 2007):

"I've considered myself an Amillennialist for some time now, but the other day I had a random realization: if Satan is bound for a specific purpose, he is still bound. What I'm picturing here is this: if a man goes to prison for burglary, he is prevented from burglary, but also from murder, rape, and many other things. I know this is one of the many forms of the `If Satan is bound, why is there 'evil'?’ problem, but this is one that's been confusing me for a little while now. The best explanation I can come up with is that even though the man is in prison for burglary, he can still blaspheme and affect the outside world in some way (and even rape INSIDE prison), but that doesn't seem to answer it completely because what Satan seems to be doing is very close to what he is prevented from doing. That is, his actions seem to be of the same 'form', unlike how different burglary (physical action) differs from blasphemy (verbal action). I'm sure one explanation would be what I had just stated, but it really makes me doubt my Amillennial position, because I'm not reading the text to mean `bound Satan to keep him from deceiving the nations, though he really does anyhow.’ It seems to be a binding of degrees, but *successful* binding doesn't really seem to have degrees in my mind."

Dr. Riddlebarger’s Answer:

David, this is a great question! Let me paraphrase the essence of it. "If Satan is presently bound and prevented from deceiving the nations, why is it that the nations are presently deceived?" Either Satan is bound or he isn’t. It is not a matter of degrees.

A couple of things need to be said here. First, the answer is not to use analogies like you have done above. The situation described in Revelation 20 only makes sense in light of biblical imagery (especially that from the Old Testament). Instead, simply trace out the course of redemptive history and you’ll see what John means.

Recall that Satan was instrumental in the Fall, and then according to the early chapters of Genesis, rapidly deceived the entire world. Remember Enochville (cf. Genesis 4:17)? How about Babel and Ninevah? What about Babylon? Egypt? The Assyrians? The Moabites? These are nations who fell under Satan’s sway and marshaled their resources against the people of God. Then, there’s the mass apostasy among the Israelites, both in the wilderness and in the promised land. The Jews never fulfilled the commission given them in Isaiah 49:6, "I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." Because of unbelief Israel was repeatedly subject to godless Gentile nations and hauled off into captivity. You get the point. We could go on and on.

Fast-forward to the New Testament. When Jesus appeared on the scene, his public ministry did not begin until he had first bested Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). As we all know, Jesus messianic mission appeared completely thwarted on Good Friday, but by Easter Sunday, it was clear the Satan’s "victory" was instead a total defeat. Jesus now becomes the light to the nations and the true Israel. He fulfills that mission which both Adam and Israel failed to accomplish. Indeed, the gospel message "binds" the Devil and all his works. God’s people are commanded to make disciples of "all nations" (Matthew 28:19), and told that this gospel must be preached as a witness to "all nations" (Matthew 24:14). Not only will Jesus be with his people until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20), but the gates of Hell will not prevail against Christ’s church (Matthew 16:18). This is how we must understand the consequences of Satan’s being presently bound. It is a reference to the success of the gospel.

Therefore, the presence evil and unbelief in the present age does not mean that Satan is not yet bound (the standard premillennial objection). It is the inevitable success of the missionary enterprise which is the proof. Under the present circumstances Satan cannot use empires and nations to completely thwart the mission of church. He will try, certainly. But how long did Hitler’s thousand year Reich last? Contemporary situations, (i.e. the People’s Republic of China which seeks do this), serve as a great illustration. A recent news article pointed out that many thousands become Christians every day in China, despite the efforts of the government to stamp out Christianity! Remember, the biblical writers are not millennarians. The kingdom can grow and thrive all the while things appear to be getting worse (cf. Revelation 11 and the account of the two witnesses). Kingdom success does not necessarily translate into economic, cultural, and religious progress as our postmillennial friends contend. Kingdom success does mean the spread of the gospel and the effectual call of all of God’s elect--a multitude so vast they cannot be counted.  In some cases, there is a corresponding effect upon the culture.  In some cases there is not.

Remember too that according to John, Satan will be released for a short time before the end, when he will be allowed to deceive the nations for one brief last period in an organized political, economic, and military sense against the church (Revelation 20:7-10). But until then, he is bound and cannot deceive the nations. The gospel will go to the ends of the earth! While Satan rages like a wounded animal, he does so because he knows his time is short (1 Peter 5:8 with Revelation 12:12).

Therefore, the answer to your conundrum is to be found in what is meant by "deceive the nations." When viewed against the backdrop of redemptive history, it is clear that this is tied to the missionary enterprise, and the success of that mission is clearly what is in view (not the absence of all evil and unbelief).

I hope that helps!

Monday
Jan222007

Who Said That?

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Who Said That?

"However improbable it may seem that the whole world should be Christianized, we know that God is able to perform what he has promised. . . . A future generation will witness the rapidity of its progress; and long before the end of time. . . Christianity will gain a complete triumph over all false religions; and the visible kingdom of Satan will be destroyed, or reduced without narrow limits, during the happy period when, in the figurative language of the Apocalypse, `he shall be bound.'"

No google searches!  Leave your guess in the comments section below.

Thursday
Jan182007

A Nice Review of A Case for Amillennialism

a case for amillennialism.jpg

My friend, Roger Overton (over at the A-Team blog), has posted a nice review of A Case for Amillennialism.

The review can be found here: Click here: The A-Team Blog :: Main Page

You can check the book out on Amazon and read some of the reviews: Click here: Amazon.com: A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times: Books: Kim Riddlebarger

Monday
Jan082007

Who Said That?

question mark.jpg

Who said that? (or better, "what is this?")

"God is bigger and better and closer than we can imagine.

The Bible is God’s perfect guidebook for living.

Jesus is God showing himself to us.

Through His Holy Spirit, God lives in and through us now.

Nothing in creation `just happened.' God made it all.

Grace is the only way to have a relationship with God.

Faith is the only way to grow in our relationship with God.

God has allowed evil to provide us with a choice, God can bring good even out of evil events and God promises victory over evil to those who choose him.

Heaven and hell are real places. Death is a beginning, not the end.

The church is to serve people like Jesus served people..

Jesus is coming again."

Please, no google searches! Leave your guesses in the comments section below.

Thursday
Jan042007

The Development of the New Perspective on Paul -- Stendahl, Sanders, and Dunn

kristerstendahl.jpg

In light of the very important debate over the Federal Vision (FV) going on at Scott Clark's Heidelblog (Click here: http://www.oceansideurc.org/ - The Heidelblog (Scott Clark), I thought it might be useful to post a paper which has been mentioned by several of those engaged in the debate.

The paper is entitled, "Reformed Confessionalism and the New Perspective on Paul."  Although now badly outdated--I originally wrote this paper for a Ph.D. seminar with D. A. Hagner way back in 1996--the paper does deal with the formation of what is now called the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) or better, "New Perspectives" on Paul, since there are significant differences among its key adherents.  

"Reformed Confessionalism" was written before N. T. Wright burst upon the public scene, and well before the Federal Vision was a gleam in its Auburn Avenue fathers' eyes.  Unlike several of the versions of this essay posted on-line, this particular version is not abridged and contains all the original footnotes. 

Sanders.jpg"Reformed Confessionalism and the New Perspective" deals with an important aspect of the New Perspective, namely the shift away from the earlier Bultmannian reading of Paul, largely through the efforts of Krister Stendahl (pictured above).  Stendahl's distinctive interpretation of Paul is often overlooked, but cannot be underestimated.  To some degree, it is Stendahl's attack upon the "Lutheran Paul," which paves the way for Sanders, Dunn, and Wright. 

Dunn.jpgUnderstanding the transition in argument from Stendahl, to E. P. Sanders, to James D. G. Dunn, will help the reader see the highly idiosyncratic interpretation of Paul and selective use of Palestinian sources by these men, as well as demonstrate that the NPP collides with several very important Pauline texts--namely Galatians 2:16, Romans 4:5 and Philippians 3:9.

I hope this essay will provide some light, if not on the current debate over NPP and FV, on the history of New Testament studies and the development of the Stendahl-Sanders-Dunn trajectory and its subsequent modification by N. T. Wright.

To read the essay, click here

Wednesday
Jan032007

Help Needed with Celebrity Endorsement!

hulkpreview.jpgEd Young of the Fellowship Church managed to secure Hulk Hogan for a promo video for his church. 

According to Young, "This new series featuring Hulk Hogan, Larger than Life, promises to help you discover God's direction for your life, and also equip you with the tools necessary to find the path toward that larger life." (h.t. Jon Welborn)

My question is, "which celebrity should we get to help promote Christ Reformed?"  Dr. Phil is too obvious . . .

Tuesday
Jan022007

Who Said That?

question mark.jpg

Who said that?

"Many of you have known the writer . . .  to be faithful, honest, caring for others, wise, of sound judgment, just, decisive, careful with the wealth of the people and the state . . . and that his heart is big enough to embrace all without discrimination.  You have known your brother and leader very well and he never bowed to the despots and, in accordance with the wishes of those who loved him, remained a sword and a banner. . . . I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave a space for a person to be fair and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking and keeps away one from balanced thinking and making the right choice. . . . Dear faithful people, I say goodbye to you, but I will be with the merciful God who helps those who take refuge in him and who will never disappoint any faithful, honest believer . . . God is great . . ."

This is an easy one!  Leave your guesses in the comments section.  Please, no google searches!