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


Living in Light of Two Ages



Gog, Magog and an Iranian-Russian Alliance?

Rosenberg.jpgJoel Rosenberg is a very popular writer who tells a compelling story.  His books are even endorsed by Rush Limbaugh.  In his book Epicenter, which ranks high up on the Amazon best-selling chart, Rosenberg argues that the current animus between Israel and Iran is actually foretold in chapters 38-39 of the famous prophecy of Ezekiel regarding Gog and Magog. 

As Rosenberg sees things, one day soon Israel will find itself cornered by a Russian-Iranian-Arab alliance which will threaten Israel's very existence.  To prove his point he cites from a number of military, political and journalistic sources.  He is probably right about the animus and the Islamic designs upon Israel.  But my interest in this post is with Rosenberg's appeal to the prophecy of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38-39.

Typically, dispensationalists like Rosenberg appeal to this passage as a yet unfulfilled prediction of a Russian-backed Islamic invasion of the modern nation of Israel, at or about the time the seven-year tribulation begins.  Dispensationalists believe that the nations listed in the prophecy refer to people living in Ezekiel's time, who can then be traced to modern nations.  Following this method, Gog is the mysterious leader of Magog, a land north of the Caucasus mountains inhabited by the ancient Scythians.  This is in modern Russia.  Meshech is supposedly Moscow. Tubal is variously taken as Turkey or Tolbosk (a city in Russia).  Persia is clearly Iran.  Put is Libya.  Cush is Ethiopia.  Beth-Togarmah is Turkey.  Some have even identified Gomer as Germany.  But since the fall of the Soviet Union, Gomer is more often identified with Russia.  Since the bulk of these people live to the northern parts (Ezekiel 38:15) and since the predicted invasion of Israel will come from the north, Rosenberg's thesis is simply a new variation of an old dispensational theme.  At some point near the beginning of the tribulation, Israel will be invaded by a Russian-Iranian-Islamic confederacy, only to prevail militarily through God's amazing grace.

To be fair, the dispensationalists were not the first to tie this prophecy to contemporary events.  Ambrose identified these same figures as the Goths who were then threatening the Holy Roman Empire.  Luther applied this prophecy to the Turks, who were at the gates of Vienna at the time of the Reformation.

But there are two significant problems with this approach to Ezekiel 38-39.  First, as Edwin Yamauchi (a noted evangelical archaeologist and historian) has pointed out in his book, Foes from the Northern Frontier:  Invading Hordes from the Russian Steppes (Baker, 1983), this identification is based upon a number of unsubstantiated assumptions.  For one thing, Gog and Magog cannot be directly tied to the Scythians.  Yamauchi believes that their identity is not certain at all.  Furthermore, he contends that Meshech and Tubal cannot be tied to Moscow or Tobolsk in any sense.  He believes these are references to ancient Assyria which did invade Israel from the north.  This means that Ezekiel is speaking of Israel's immediate future (an Assyrian invasion from the north), which also prefigures an end-time event.

How do we know that to be the case?  If you follow the basic hermeneutical principle that the New Testament interprets the Old Testament (something dispensationalists are want to admit when it comes to interpreting biblical prophecy), then in Revelation 20:8-9, John speaks of Gog and Magog as symbolic of the nations of the earth, gathering together to make war on the saints (the church). 

This leads to the second problem with the dispensational understanding.  In Revelation 20:8-9, John is universalizing Ezekiel's prophecy of Israel being invaded from the north to the church being attacked from the four corners of the earth--this "spiritualizing" of the Old Testament as practiced by John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is, of course, the very thing dispensationalists claim is illegitimate.  The fact of the matter is, this is exactly what John does.

In Revelation 20:8-9, John sees a vision of Gog and Magog leading all of the nations on the earth to wage war against God's people (the church), after Satan has been released from the Abyss.  These enemies of Christ and his church are ultimately and finally destroyed at Christ's second advent (see Beale, The Book of Revelation, Eerdmans, 1022-1024).  This means that the Assyrian invasion of Israel from the north foretold by Ezekiel, is actually typological of the end-times war upon the entire people of God as witnessed by John in his vision.

Man%20of%20sin%20small.jpgIf you are interested in such things, I also deal with this topic more fully in my recent book, The Man of Sin.  You can check it out, Click here: Riddleblog - Man of Sin - Uncovering the Truth About Antichrist

Rosenberg tells a great story and has gathered much interesting evidence about Islamic and Russian intentions.  But he also misuses the prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39 to make his point.  



Who Said That?

question%20mark.jpgWho Said That?

"Our government makes no sense unless it is founded on a deeply felt religious faith--and I don't care what it is."

Leave your guesses in the comments section below.  No google searches!  The fun is in the guessing!


Worse Than the Caricature?

Muslim%20Priest.jpgWe all know that things in the mainline Protestant churches can get a bit wacky.  In the last few weeks alone, the following items about the Episcopal/Anglican church have appeared in the news.  The Episcopal/Anglican Church has fallen so far that you can't even caricature it any more.

The Seattle Times ran an article on an episcopal priest (Rev. Ann Holmes Redding--the woman on the right in the picture) who has become a Muslim.  In this day, that's not a shock.  The shock is that she is still an episcopal priest who still leads a congregation while worshipping at the local mosque!  Click here: Local News | "I am both Muslim and Christian" | Seattle Times Newspaper.  As the National Review Online put it, "with the benefit of hindsight, it should have been obvious that the first female imam would be an Episcopalian..."

And then there is this interesting news flash.  What do you do when your unmarried priest gets pregnant?  Click here: Unmarried priest quits top job after becoming pregnant | the Daily Mail.  At least she stepped down.

Finally, imagine finding your Bishop drunk, and passed out in the backseat of someone else's Mercedes with a huge bump on his noggin?  Click here: Clergy urge 'drunk' bishop to atone for his sins | the Daily Mail.

But does anyone see a pattern here?  As one wag recently quipped:  "don't try and caricature the Episcopal church!  They'll just do you one better . . ."  


PCA General Assembly Vote on NPP/FV

RC%20at%20PCA%20GA.jpgThis just in from White Horse Inn producer and guest blogger Shane Rosenthal--Shane is also a member of the PCA.

On Wednesday, June 13th, the 35th General Assembly of the PCA voted overwhelmingly to approve the recent report on the theology of the Federal Vision and the New Perspective on Paul.  The full report is available here:

See also R. Scott Clark's blow by blow report of the GA discussion and vote here:

Below are the nine summary declarations of the PCA report which was just adopted.  It will be interesting to see what happens next.  Will Federal Vision proponents be brought up on charges, given that their theology has been found to be out of step with the Westminster Standards?  Or will they voluntarily leave the PCA?  "Dark Days lie ahead Harry.  You must choose between that which is right, and that which is easy."  

IV. Declarations  
In light of the controversy surrounding the NPP and FV, and after many months of carefulstudy, the committee unanimously makes the following declarations: 


1. The view that rejects the bi-covenantal structure of Scripture as represented in the Westminster Standards (i.e., views which do not merely take issue with the terminology, but the essence of the first/second covenant framework) is contrary to those Standards. 


2. The view that an individual is “elect” by virtue of his membership in the visible church; and that this “election” includes justification, adoption and sanctification; but that this individual could lose his “election” if he forsakes the visible church, is contrary to the Westminster Standards. 


3. The view that Christ does not stand as a representative head whose perfect obedience and satisfaction is imputed to individuals who believe in him is contrary to the Westminster Standards. 


4. The view that strikes the language of “merit” from our theological vocabulary so that the claim is made that Christ’s merits are not imputed to his people is contrary to the Westminster Standards. 


5. The view that “union with Christ” renders imputation redundant because it subsumes all of Christ’s benefits (including justification) under this doctrinal heading is contrary to the Westminster Standards.  


6. The view that water baptism effects a “covenantal union” with Christ through which each baptized person receives the saving benefits of Christ’s mediation, including regeneration, justification, and sanctification, thus creating a parallel soteriological system to the decretal system of the Westminster Standards, is contrary to the 
Westminster Standards. 


7. The view that one can be “united to Christ” and not receive all the benefits of Christ’s mediation, including perseverance, in that effectual union is contrary to the Westminster Standards. 


8. The view that some can receive saving benefits of Christ’s mediation, such as regeneration and justification, and yet not persevere in those benefits is contrary to the Westminster Standards. 


9. The view that justification is in any way based on our works, or that the so-called “final verdict of justification” is based on anything other than the perfect obedience and satisfaction of Christ received through faith alone, is contrary to the Westminster Standards.
Yes, that's R. C. Sproul at the mic, giving his plea to pass the resolution . . . 



For Those of You Who Love History . . . This Is Very Cool!

Coliseum.jpgWe've all seen pictures of the ruins of the Roman Coliseum--if we haven't been to Rome and seen the ruins first-hand.

Now you can see the Coliseum in 3-D!  Indeed you can see much of Rome in 3-D, just as it looked in 320 AD when Constantine was emperor.

To see "Rome Reborn," Click here: RomeReborn1.0



A Marriage Made in Kitsch Heaven










  Saw this posted on Religious New Service (Click here: Modern Reformation - Religious News).  This is a great fit--two of the tackiest ventures on earth become as one!

"Trinity Broadcasting Network has become the new owner of the Holy Land Experience, a biblical theme park in Orlando, Fla.  `This marriage will bring an unprecedented synergy to both ministries and the production that is done there will be seen by a worldwide audience,' said Paul F. Crouch Jr., vice president of administration for the Santa Ana, Calif.-based TBN.

Crouch said the acquisition comes as the network offers local programming through Orlando's WGTL-TV Channel 52, which it acquired last year, and will simultaneously `provide `The Holy Land Experience' with much-needed promotion to bring more people to the theme park and Orlando as a whole.'  The ownership change came as five members of the network's leadership, including Crouch, and his parents and TBN founders Paul F. and Janice W. Crouch, were announced as new board members of the theme park.  `The mission of The Holy Land Experience is to bring the Bible to life for everyone who comes through our gates,' said Tom Powell, president of the theme park.  `The strength of the TBN leaders will empower The Holy Land Experience to carry on this important mission, in new and creative ways utilizing 12,000 television stations and 67 satellites.' 

The Orlando Sentinel reported that the tourist attraction -- which features music, drama and portrayals of Jesus' ministry, death and resurrection -- has experienced financial troubles and declining attendance."

At least TBN can't move it to Orange County near their present facility--far and away the gaudiest building in all of Orange County (and that includes anything @ Disneyland). 



Who Said That?

question%20mark.jpgWho Said That?

"If any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.  And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified."

OK, leave your guess in the comments section below. . .   No google searches!


Speaking in Tongues Is Alive and Well -- In Some Surprising Places

Speaking%20in%20Tongues.jpgThis news would come as no surprise if this post was speaking about Pentecostal churches.  But tongue-speaking is alive and well in some very surprising places.

How about among Southern Baptists?

"A new study from LifeWay Research shows that two-thirds of Protestant pastors -- and half of Southern Baptist pastors -- believe the Holy Spirit gives some people a special prayer language from the Lord.  The phone study surveyed 1,004 Protestant laity, 405 pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), and 600 non-SBC senior pastors. Pastors were asked if they believed the Holy Spirit gave some people the gift of a special language to pray privately to God. Fifty percent of SBC pastors said the Holy Spirit still gave some people the gift of tongues, 43 percent said no, and seven percent didn't know."  Click here: Survey says ... half of So. Baptist pastors believe private prayer language is valid (

Or how about in the Christian Reformed Church?

"Third Wave Pentecostalism

It might seem odd for a synod of a Reformed church to be discussing a Pentecostal movement, but as Rev. Peter Hoytema pointed out in his article `Riding The Third Wave' (May 2007 Banner), this movement has had a greater influence within the CRC than many people realize. Synod 2004 appointed a committee to study it. That committee is reporting to Synod 2007 with two reports, one from the majority of the committee and one from the minority.  The two groups could not agree on the biblical basis or the place in the CRC of practices such as prophesying, healing ministries, spiritual warfare and deliverance ministries.  The majority of the committee, while cautioning against spiritual elitism, found that the Third Wave movement has much to offer the CRC. However, the minority group said that some of the dangers cautioned against by the majority are so serious that they could not agree with the positive assessment. Synod 2007 will have to make its own judgment."  (Click here: | CRC NEWS: What to Watch for at Synod 2007).

I have only one thing to say, but unless you have the gift of interpretation, you wouldn't understand it.    


Who Said That?

question%20mark.jpgWho Said That?

"This [the obedience of the One] was our Lord's death, as an act of obedience. 'He became obedient unto death, yea the death of the cross.' He was, of course, always obedient to His Father, but it cannot be too strongly stressed that His life before the cross, His 'active obedience,' as it is called, is not in any sense counted to us for righteousness. 'I delivered to you,' says Paul, 'first of all, that Christ died for our sins.' Before His death He was 'holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners.' He Himself said, 'Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.' Do you not see that those who claim that our Lord's righteous life under Moses' Law is reckoned to us for our 'active' righteousness, while His death in which He put away our sins, is, as they claim, the 'passive' side, are really leaving you, and the Lord, too, under the authority of the Law?"

Please leave your answer (guess) in the comments section below.  No google searches, please. 


What Books Did It for You?



What books did it for you?

I thought it might be interesting to poll my readers to see what book (or books) finally pushed you over the edge so that you cried "uncle" and embraced Reformed theology. 

These are five books that were very instrumental in my conversion to Reformed theology from Arminianism and dispensationalism back in 1979-80--although what really did it was Donald Gray Barnhouse's tape series on TULIP.  My list includes Warfield's Inspiration and Authority of the Bible and Plan of Salvation, Bavinck's Our Reasonable Faith, Murray's Redemption Accomplished and Applied, and Berkhof's Systematic Theology.

So, I am looking for those books (not tapes or videos) which were most instrumental in your own journey to Calvinism.  Leave your list in the comments section below.  This could be fun!