Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas from the E.L.C.A.

The ELCA must worship a God that has no power. A God that can not do miracles. A God that has to make up a birth story of His Son to make people believe He is special. A God that can not create a child in the womb of a virgin. That is the powerless, lying god of the ELCA. 

Here is what the ELCA and many ELCA leaders are saying about the details of the birth of Christ...keep reading 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christian Slaughter

I suggest that Christian slaughter and persecution should be a hot topic for the upcoming Christ At the Checkpoint Conference in 2014. It won't - but it should be! It would also be nice if Vicar Sizer added the topic to his impressive and growing list of audio & literary efforts.

Two of the most tragic Islamic attacks on Christians, killing several women and children, took place in the month of October, one in Syria another in Egypt...On October 21 in Syria, the U.S.-supported Islamic rebels invaded and occupied the ancient Christian settlement of Sadad for over a week, till ousted by the military.  During that week, “the largest massacre of Christians in Syria,” in the words of Orthodox Archbishop Alnemeh, took place.  Among other things, 45 Christians—including women and children—were killed, several tortured to death; mass graves were discovered; all of Sadad’s 14 churches, some ancient, were ransacked and destroyed; the bodies of six people from one family, ranging from ages 16 to 90, were found buried at the bottom of a well (an increasingly common fate for “subhuman” Christians)...keep reading

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pre-Trib Research Center Latest Conference

The 22nd Annual Pre-Trib Study Group Conference Papers are now available HERE

This year's focus is on Israel, Zionism and Replacement Theology.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Inadequacy: The Surprising Secret to Being Useful to God

Here's a person I disagree with eschatologically. But what a passion for the gospel he has! Love the man's preaching!


Q & A with Alistair Begg and David Guzik

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Prepping for the Tribulation

John MacArthur has been embroiled in a controversy. No, I'm not talking about the Strange Fire Conference. MacArthur was outed by Brannon Howse for a response he gave to a question which centered on whether someone could repent and be saved after accepting the Mark of the Beast. MacArthur responded that it was possible. Howse referred to it because it supported Jimmy DeYoung's position.

And so there ensued a collective outcry from horrified pretrib skeptics. This confirmed their suspicions that teaching pretribulationism was downright dangerous. Pretribbers are in danger of taking the Mark of the Beast when the Antichrist shows up before Jesus. Another all-time favorite - pretribulationists have been spoon fed a diet of "easy believism" and are inadequately prepared for the Tribulation.

It's an irony, then, that I first learned of the MacArthur "scandal" from pretribulationists. They were all shocked and appalled that John MacArthur and Jimmy DeYoung could possibly hold to such a position. Personally, I'm shocked that otherwise gullible pretribulationists were actually shocked. Are we all shocked now? I hope so.

Anyway, my non-pretribber friends may want to scratch the deception thingy from their handy little Reasons to Harass Pretribulationists workbooks. Maybe also get a clue in the process.

Some non-pretribulational-non-Calvinists (have I lost you yet?) soon jumped on the heresy bandwagon. One "watchman on some wall" plopped John MacArthur among his personal list of heretics, which included Joel Osteen. John MacArthur in the same lineup as Osteen? Sigh. Words fail me.

The heresy outcry eventually brought Calvinism into the picture, and prompted the following response from Eschatos Ministries:

...many of these same blog posts are also calling MacArthur a heretic because he is a “Calvinist.” Trust me, the vast majority of these people have no earthly clue what Calvinism actually teaches—they only know a caricature. And prewrathers who are calling him a heretic because he is a Calvinist, I want to remind them that the pioneers of the prewrath position are Calvinists...including myself.

MacArthur's problem isn't his Calvinism, it's his pretribulationism. Sadly, that ministry habitually spins a familiar line:

One can begin to see how pretribulationism is a false teaching. It has dire ramifications. It is setting up believers to become vulnerable during the Antichrist’s great tribulation...Eschatology matters. 

And so this brings me to my next little rant - what does Calvinism teach? How can one be a consistent Calvinist and yet claim the "unprepared pretribulationist" risks eternal damnation as a consequence of taking the Mark?

Here are the issues as I understand them (and I'm open to correction). T.U.L.I.P. holds that God sovereignly chooses and predestines the elect; that they cannot respond to the gospel of their own power (Total Depravity); that they are compelled to positively respond to God's Irresistible Grace and once having being saved, cannot lose that salvation (Eternal Security). It affirms that:

All who were chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end.

As James White writes:

So it is clear that each of the Divine Persons is vitally involved in the work of salvation. The Father sovereignly and unilaterally chooses us for salvation. He gives us to the Son, who, in obedience to the Father’s will, saves those who are joined to Him by the Father, and raises us up to eternal life. The Spirit of God is placed in our lives to empower and seal us as God’s own possession. Salvation, then, is of God - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Since salvation is of God, and is God’s work, its eternal character is simply the reflection of the nature of its author - God Himself. Each of the three Persons is intimately involved in bringing about the salvation of the elect, and that salvation is eternal and secure.

So what am I missing? Isn't MacArthur more consistent in his Calvinism (Phil Johnson too, for that matter)?

Mind you, I disagree with MacArthur's response. Revelation gives an emphatic warning. He should have stressed something like - if someone can be eternally damned for taking the Mark of the Beast, then an elect person wouldn't accept it to begin with. Or, if a person accepts the Mark, then they weren't Christ's from the beginning.

But why are professing Calvinists concerned about the elect possibly taking the Mark of the Beast as a result of their belief in a pretribulational rapture? Don't they take their own doctrines seriously? Or is the 70th week of Daniel a special period where those tenets cease to function? You know, like a different dispensation?

Of course, there are those pious non-Calvinist-non-pretribbers who take the position that one can lose one's salvation. They suppose that the expectation of being in The Tribulation and facing the Antichrist affords them some advantage over the pretribulationist (or the amil, postmil, preterist etc).

How does that work, exactly? I've never seen it clearly explained. Is there some profound spiritual (or even physical) protocol that's superior to living each day abiding in Christ? How are these people spiritually better prepared than someone who expects to face Christ at any given moment, and lives it? Please write me, I'd be keen to get started on that program.

Are you trusting in your own strength and resources, or placing your trust in Christ? If it's the former, you could be in deep do-do.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:38-39

That pretty much covers everything for me. I find it very comforting.

Further reading:

The 'Comings' of Christ in Rev 2-3

P.S. The "pioneers of the prewrath position are Calvinists"? Pioneers? Think about it!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Interview with Paul Cohen of Ariel Ministeries

Thanks to Joel H. for the tip. Highly recommended!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Power of the Gospel

I get a lot from our local pastor Alistair Begg's presentations:

Friday, October 4, 2013

Jesus is God

It seems that a lot of people have an extra-biblical opinion of who Jesus was, what His intentions were and His relationship to God. A few weeks back Reza Aslan regurgitated some old tiresome claims in his Zealot. Now Fox News' Bill O'Reilly (along with Martin Dugard) has obeyed his inner guidance and spun a book called Killing Jesus. This is the third installment of a "killing" series by the pair. To be fair I haven't read his book; however, there's been enough media attention that something can be said here.

O'Reilly made it a point to state that his book was not about "religion" and that it is a "historical" book" Yet a book about Jesus cannot divorce itself from who Jesus was, His purpose for coming to earth and His purpose for dying on the Cross. O'Reilly - born some 1900 yrs after the fact - felt it necessary to impose his own wisdom and logic onto the events presented in the gospels. He deemed that they needed correction here and there. In fact at one point he made the admission that he'd taken the Muslim view of Jesus into consideration. Why? Muhammad was born in 570 AD and died in 632 AD. There are very good reasons for believing that his Qur'an was impacted by something far more mundane than revelations from the angel Gabriel.

Ultimately, O'Reilly and Aslan are no different than the likes of Edgar Cayce, Paramahansa Yogananda and Deepak Chopra who preached a "safe", non-biblical Jesus. Ignoring the biblical Jesus will have dire eternal consequences. The other option will affect an individual's life in the here and now, as well as eternity.

A watered down Jesus is a far more comfortable option for this world. One can place that Jesus on a shelf and forget about Him when convenient. This latter Jesus appears to be the one the modern church is beginning to spin to the world, because that is what society is demanding.

Brannon Howse on Killing Jesus (Part 1) and (Part 2) Recommended!

Dr. Jason Lisle Answers Bill O'Reilly HERE

The Christ of the New Age Movement (Part 1)

Click Here to find Part 2 in the Articles List

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Khazar Myth Debunked

I've mentioned Chris White in a couple of prior posts. Aside from my differences with his eschatology, I recognize that he has produced some really worthwhile videos. His debunking of the Khazar myth is particularly well done. I've talked to many anti-Israel and anti-Jewish Christians (an oxymoron?) who have used the Khazar myth to support their views on Israel. That view is erroneous and should be discarded.

The Khazar Myth Debunked - Thirteenth Tribe - Arthur Koestler

Friday, September 20, 2013

God's Wrath in the 4th & 5th Seals

In a terse response to Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum's citation of Ezek 14:21 to show that God's wrath is present in the 4th seal (Rev 6:8), Dr. Charles Cooper once declared:

Fruchtenbaum fails to notice that these words are spoken against Jerusalem and not one fourth of the world as indicated in the fourth seal of Revelation 6:7...The issue is whether Scripture indicates that God will use these judgments in the future against one fourth of the world. There is no prophecy in the Old Testament that God is going to use these judgments against the world during the "great tribulation." Not one!

Fruchtenbaum well understood that the opening of the 4th seal by Jesus Christ inaugurates events which are called God's judgments in Ezekiel 14:21, and also wrath and anger elsewhere. Cooper failed to adequately address Fruchtenbaum's numerous points (When The Trumpet Sounds pp 385-387).  Robert Van Kampen stated that one needed more information to determine whether God's wrath was present in the 4th seal, rather than a comparison with Ezek 14.

...we cannot automatically conclude that these refer to the day of the Lord's wrath until all the data concerning the seventieth week is analyzed. ~ The Sign (pp 479-480). 

Van Kampen had the evidence he needed but couldn't accept the conclusion due to his system's preconditions that God's wrath must occur after the 6th seal, and only during the prewrath timing of the Day of the Lord. So he needed to find a way around the problem. Likewise, Chris White's presentation asserts that the 4th & 5th seals are Antichrist's wrath. He notes that the word for by in Rev 6:8 is different to the withs and can also mean under. According to White, the term "wild beasts" is "therion" which can simply mean beast and context determines which translation is best:

It’s used 39 times in the book of Revelation, and 38 times the term refers to either the beast (as in the Antichrist), or the false prophet (the second beast), or the image of the beast, and it correctly is translated there as “beast”; However the translators, attempting to clarify the meaning in Revelation 6:8 incorrectly translated the text as “wild beast”– the only time it is not translated simply as “beast” in Revelation –the only time it is not translated simply as “beast” in Revelation; There is no grounds for the translation “wild beasts” in Revelation 6:8; Both famine and plague are here attributed to the methods in which these “beasts” kill, that is in addition to the sword.

Either way, the hierarchy of authority in the verse is obvious. Death and Hades are subordinate to the Lord who opens the seals. Following on from that, the four judgments are the instruments of Death. Psalm 90:7-11 firmly establishes the relationship between death and God's wrath (see Showers, Maranatha - Our Lord, Come pp117-118). White echoed Van Kampen's arguments from The Rapture Question Answered (TRQA p147). It is crucial for them to contend that famine, pestilence and sword all come under the authority and wrath of the Antichrist-beast, rather than God's wrath. On page 147 Van Kampen claims that Death and Hell are given permission "to test and kill, if necessary, those who claim the name of Christ". Notably, he claims this "fourth" doesn't involve the unbelieving world (TRQA p145). In this instance he seems to have departed from his "face-value" understanding.

Darrel Cline sums up why his arguments are convoluted:

Rather than seeing the rather obvious meaning of the fourth seal as death to a fourth of the inhabitants of the earth as a consequence of sword (warfare), hunger (famine), death (Death and Hell), and the beasts of the earth, Van Kampen limits the meaning to only the professing Church (plus Judaism) and makes this the "wrath of Satan against the elect of God". He does this for two reasons. First, he does it to make his "parallelism" between Matthew 24 and the seals more "apparent", and, second, he does it because his construct will not allow the world in general to be subject to divine wrath at this point in the scenario. 

Van Kampen also asserted that Rev 3:10 means preservation within the tribulation (pp175-178), although he is vague as to the nature of this preservation. How can Rev 3:10 be preservation within when there are 5th seal martyrs and posttrib saints to be resurrected? Note that some prominent prewrath rapturists have now taken tereo ek to mean "kept out of" and have consequently migrated to the view that Rev 3:10 indicates a posttribulational-prewrath removal of the church. Here, again, their strategy is to restrict God's wrath to the trumpets and bowls. See also Robert Thomas' The Comings of Christ in Revelation 2-3 

We should ask why God needs to use Satan to sift the church when there's a sorting-out judgment at the end of the tribulation (Matt 25:32). Why does God orchestrate this uniquely terrible period in history against the church and Israel, only to cut it short to preserve flesh (Matt 24:21-22)? Could God not continue to "preserve" the "elect" within the entire tribulation period, including His wrath? Still another problem is that the Antichrist is slain at Christ's appearing (2 Thess 2:8), which is immediately after the tribulation (Matt 24:29-30; Rev 19:11-21).

This view conflates Jacob's Trouble with the "testing of the church", but then it cuts that period short for the church. Jacob's Trouble and the Antichrist's period of authority are stated to be three-and-a-half years, and an unprecedented time of trouble (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1, 7; Matt 24:21; Rev 13:5, 7, 12:6, 14). This is the time God uses to refine Israel (Hos 5:15; Zech 13:8-9; Mal 3:2-3 etc), not the church. Proponents of this system claim that Christ's warnings to the disciples are directed to the future church. Yet they finally differentiate between the church and Israel by having the former removed after a shortened great tribulation, while the latter remains on earth (Rev 12:6, 14).

Getting back to the 4th seal - there are very good reasons why translators render therion as "wild beasts". Aside from Ezek 14:21, Ezekiel 5 also references each of the four judgments mentioned in the 4th seal. Throughout the chapter they're referred to as God's judgment, anger (aph) and fury (chemah) e.g., Ezek 5:15.

So I will send against you famine and wild beasts, and they will bereave you. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I, the LORD, have spoken Ezek 5:17 

If that isn't enough, in Ezek 7:3-19 we again find references to God's anger (aph), fury (chemah) and wrath (ebrah) associated with famine, sword and pestilence (v 15) and this time in context to the Day of the Lord's wrath (v 19).

Chris White also draws attention to the 5th seal:

The most interesting part of the 5th seal is that the martyrs are asking God how long it will be until He judges those that are killing them; This would seem to indicate that all that has happened so far in the seals (wars, famines, etc.), are not part of God’s judgment...

Pretribulationists point out that the martyrs' request is for God to avenge their deaths. God promises that this portion of His wrath will occur once the number of those to be killed has been fulfilled. However, there are martyrs waiting to be resurrected after God's wrath (Rev 20:4). As a solution, Van Kampen proposed that these were the 5th seal martyrs who weren't resurrected during the rapture (The Sign p 406). More recently, others have resorted to the posttribulational argument that Rev 20:4 is a recapitulation of what has occurred earlier.

The 5th seal does not preclude God's wrath from being present as part of God's sovereign plan to redeem the earth. In Isaiah 10:4-5 God states that He raised and used Assyria as the rod of His anger and indignation. Assyria is later punished for its actions (vv12-15). In When the Trumpet Sounds (p 394) Fruchtenbaum also cites Habakkuk chaps 1 & 2 to show that God actively (Hab 1:6) - rather than permissively - used the Chaldeans to punish Israel. Babylon was less righteous than Israel (Hab 1:13) and once God's will was accomplished, He also punished the Chaldeans (Hab 2).

According to Eschatos Ministries:

All pretribulationists (rightly) claim that believers will not experience the wrath of God (cf. 1 Thess 5:9). Yet this [5th] seal explicitly reveals that it is directed against believers, who have ended up as martyrs! So pretribulationists, according to their logic, have believers being killed by what they assume is the wrath of God. May it never be!

That is an odd statement about "logic" and assumptions considering Van Kampen's assertion that the 4th seal is authorized by God specifically against the church (and Judaism) and which results in martyrdom. This view posits that the church is exempt from God's wrath; therefore it cannot be present there. Authorizing these same OT-wrath judgments to be inflicted on the church appears to be okay, as long as God's motive isn't wrath. That is circular reasoning.

Pretribulationists note that the 5th seal reveals what has already taken place (see Showers' Maranatha pp 109-110). Unlike the previous seals, there is no hierarchy of authority administering punishment through a rider and horse. The reason for the saints' martyrdom is because of their testimony (Rev 6:9), not because of the seal.

Moreover, the prewrath position must have post-rapture unbelievers coming to faith in order to enter the millennium in their physical bodies. According to that view the 144,000 are saved immediately after the rapture of the church. At Rev 14:6, an angel preaches the everlasting gospel to those dwelling on the earth. Hence, contrary to the above objection, that view also has saints on the earth experiencing the "trumpets and bowls wrath". One might then ask - should the existence of these intra-wrath saints preclude a prewrath rapture? If not, then how does the existence of newly-saved tribulation saints, experiencing earthly conditions under God's wrath, disqualify a pretribulational rapture?

Finally, the Two Witnesses' ministry spans 1,260 days of the 70th week. Of these, Robert Thomas notes that: "Their power to accomplish their mission is phenomenal" (Revelation 8-22 p 90). Fire proceeds from their mouths; they can stop rain; turn water into blood and strike the earth with plagues (Rev 11:5-6). The scope of their ministry is so broad and effective that "the peoples, tribes, tongues and nations who dwell on the earth" celebrate their deaths because of the torment inflicted upon them by these prophets (Rev 11:9-10). Fire, plague and water into blood hearken back to Old Testament examples of God's wrath. The Two Witnesses are instruments of God's wrath.

I doubt that any of the above will sway someone who is predisposed to their preferred position. But claims that pretribulationists don't use scriptural arguments are way off the mark.

Further reading:

Myron Houghton's review of The Rapture Question Answered

Darrel Cline's The Rapture is When?

The Chronological & Sequential Structure Of Revelation

Alan Cole's Reviews Part One & Part Two

Cole's critique of the Pre-Wrath DOL

The Chronological Relationship of the Three Septet Judgments of the Tribulation
To Daniel’s Seventy Weeks

A Comparison of the Synoptic Eschatological Discourses
and Revelation 6–20

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The ELCA & Oft Repeated Lies

Here's another Dan Skogen post on the ELCA and their battle to win membership by aligning themselves with LGBT initiatives. Note the first comment by an ELCA member who states that:

"We are adding new members because of who we are. People are not running away from us."

Apparently being pro-homosexual fills the pews. Read the blog article HERE

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Will Not To Believe

I first came across Wilbur M. Smith in the Forward he provided for Alva McClain's The Greatness of the Kingdom and the Preface to George N. H. Peters' The Theocratic Kingdom. His comments were thoughtful and so I looked him up. It turns out that he wrote a book (published in 1945) called Therefore Stand - A Plea for a Vigorous Apologetic in the Present Crisis of Evangelical Christianity.

This book may be out of print although second-hand copies are still available. Smith's message to Christians is a valuable one and it is sorely needed, now more than ever. You can read a review HERE.

I found this excerpt from the book very true, even from my own limited experience:

One of the reasons why men do not believe in Christ, and in the Word of God, is that they are determined not to believe. This is the deliberate, determined attitude of their mind. No matter what arguments are presented to them, no matter how accurate they find the work of God to be, how incontrovertible the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is shown to be, they cannot intend to believe. Someone will say, "No one can possibly be as stubborn as that." Yes, it is not only possible, it is continually manifested. Thus for example, the outstanding church historian of the nineteenth century, speaking of the Lord's miracle of the quieting of the waves in a storm on the Sea of Galilee, frankly said regarding a storm being quieted by a word, "We do not believe and we shall never again believe." Harnack does not mean that the evidence is not sufficient for belief, he means that whatever the evidence is, he is not going to believe. Goethe took exactly the same attitude concerning the resurrection, "A voice from heaven would not convince me...that a woman gives birth without knowing man, and that a dead man rises from the grave. I rather regard this as blasphemy against the great God and His revelation in nature." I have a letter from a Professor in a theological seminary in this country regarding the resurrection of Christ (the writer's name cannot be divulged because of a promise made in regard to this correspondence), who frankly told me that he would not judge the miracle of the resurrection by historical evidence, for, from a scientific and psychological point of view, he was prejudiced against it, and no evidence would ever change his mind. William James of Harvard wrote a remarkable book once which he aptly called The Will to Believe: a new book could be written today, even from the same University, with an equally true title, The Will Not to Believe. ~ Therefore Stand (pp 174-175) (bold emphasis my own)

A Sad Case of Slander

I can trace the very beginnings of this sad case to a simple difference in rapture timing. Yet, somehow, it has evolved to include the KJVO debate, and with a Christian unfairly slandering another. Here is a lesson for all of us. Click Here

Chris Rosebrough’s commentary addresses this issue very well HERE

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

On Junk Prophecy Purveyors

Please note my new link Herescope

To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of discernment ministries. It seems that they're always on the lookout for some other ministry or pastor making a mistake. Google just about anyone's name and you'll find some so-called scandalous tidbit about them. The only ministry that always washes up clean is the discernment ministry itself.

Now that I have that out of the way, I'll do a flip flop and say that there is a value to some of these discernment ministries. You just have to be...well, discerning.

Last week I saw an article put out by Creation Ministries International. It essentially refuted a documentary that promulgated the idea that a tiny dead humanoid was an alien. I had noted that one popular "prophecy writer" wrote an article warning that this body was a satanic deception - think alien/demons, UFOs and Nephilim. In fact CMI capably demonstrates that the body is, in fact, a fetus. There's nothing alien about it.

The problem is that this "prophecy writer" deals in sensationalism and, like many others in that market, has fostered a business from it. He could have done his research and been far more objective but that wouldn't have helped his business. This isn't the first time he and other merchants of the sensational have done this.

What's worse, the author of the CMI article suggested to me that these guys do it because of their eschatology. That's a sad indictment and quite untrue. Unfortunately, it is true that a lot of end-times literature is saturated with sensationalist garbage. Its authors aren't always objective with their presentations and often appear to be more interested in selling their books and DVDs.

I think Herescope has some sobering articles addressing this brand of prophecy market and I think it's needed. But, as always - Caveat Emptor.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Michael Rydelnik & Michael Vlach - Moody Radio

Michael Rydelnik of Moody Bible Institute talks with Michael Vlach, author of Has the Church Replaced Israel?

Click Here.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Christopher Cone - the New Covenant & the Church

Addressed to The Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics at Baptist Bible Seminary, on September 24, 2009, and later published in Journal of Dispensational Theology, December 2009, and currently scheduled to be included in a forthcoming single volume handling the issue of the New Covenant in greater detail.


Though Paul does not in these passages invoke either a new and separate covenant with the church nor a shared application of the previously revealed one, some argue that he does the latter in Ephesians 2:11-3:6, a passage in which gentiles are described as, among other things, “strangers to the covenants.” (2:12) In 2:12 Paul presents five conditions of unsaved gentiles, and he does not assert that all of these conditions are reversed at the time of salvation. Notice the remedy he diagnoses: those formerly far off have been brought near (2:13), having access through Him in one Spirit to the Father (2:18). Believing gentiles have been made fellow citizens with the saints (believing Jews) (2:19). But fellow citizens of what? Are we now partakers of Jewish covenants? Are we now of the commonwealth of Israel? Have we now become “spiritual” Jews? No on all counts. The mystery is precisely identified in 3:6 that we are fellow members of the body and fellow partakers of the promise (note, not promises). We are brought near to the Jews by virtue of our oneness in the body of Christ, but nowhere in this grand section are we co-partakers or fellow citizens in any aspect outside of that body. This is according to promise. Paul’s first mention of the promise in Ephesians appears in 1:13 referencing the Holy Spirit. We could also consider the seventh aspect of God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12:3) and compare this with John’s concise description of the promise – eternal life (1 Jn. 2:25). Whether the promise here references the related aspects of the ministry of the spirit, gentile blessings under the Abrahamic covenant, or eternal life, there is no stated or implied connection between the church and the covenants of Israel. Paul says we were once strangers to the covenants of promise and that now we have been brought near (eggus). Near is not inside or upon...keep reading

Friday, July 26, 2013

More Pretrib Problems

As I've noted before, there's that sense of urgency on the part of a certain group to get the word out that pretribulationism is a dangerous unbiblical doctrine which leaves one unprepared for the tribulation. I think I've just about heard most of the excuses offered up against the pretribulational view. Some of the polemics border on the absurd. One example of the latter is the following blurb for a book by John Finkbeiner:

Lifesaver was written to expose the hypocrisy, the abuse of trust and the fatal flaws in modern American Christianity’s most popular and trumpeted position on the end times— the Pre-tribulation rapture (PTR) view.

That offering was tame compared to some of the other lame remarks in Finkbeiner's book. A more genial Chris White has also chimed in on YouTube by churning out several "pretrib debunkers". His videos are engaging and he's done an excellent job in some areas - debunking pretribulationism, not so much. Take his Parousia video:

"The word “parousia” (coming) is only used 24 times in the New Testament; The definition includes and encompasses all the things that Christ will do, starting with the rapture–His visible return, the raising of the dead, the last judgment, and the setting up of the kingdom after Armageddon; The rapture will be the first thing to happen at His coming (“parousia”), but there are not multiple “parousias”;..." (Emphasis mine)

Finkbeiner agrees:

The most common accepted meaning of parousia is “presence” or “a coming to establish an abiding presence.” Is there anything in this definition that supports dual parousias or two comings? Can one “coming to establish an abiding presence” be followed by another “coming” seven years later? What professor, knowledgeable in N.T. Greek, would distort parousia so we have parousias plural?

What's really bizarre is that White and Finkbeiner's rapture system has multiple future comings of Christ. Robert Van Kampen and Charles Cooper detailed four. In fact the system needs at least two if one takes the Great Multitude (Rev 7:9) to be the post-rapture church. One advocate has defended this contradiction by stating that Jesus and the church hover somewhere in the earth's atmosphere until Rev 19. That position would require relocating God's throne, the angels, the elders and the four living creatures and taking a symbolic view of Rev19:11.

Before God's Wrath author H L Nigro proposed an elaborate solution including the following remarks:

First of all, Jesus may have the ability to be in more than one place at once. Second, God and heaven exist outside of time as we know it, so one moment of earthly time can be all the time Jesus needs in heaven to judge a billion or more saints, and have a wonderful wedding celebration. While I hold to the multi-phase view, the single-phase view is no problem either. (Emphasis mine)

There's some level of contradiction operating when someone admits to a multi-phase position, yet denounces the so-called pretrib "two-stage event" by asserting that: "When the return of Christ is mentioned in scripture it is always mentioned as a singular event."

Which "singular event" would that be - the one at Matt 24:30 or the one at Matt 25:31 & Rev 19:11? And what about those in between (which Scripture is silent about)?

Another issue arises from 2 Thess 2:8. Early strategy was to say the Antichrist was "handcuffed" at that point, rather than destroyed. Yet how can he be said to be handcuffed, or lose authority, and still able to muster armies to gather at Armageddon? Someone proposed the solution that he is destroyed at the end-phase of the single Parousia. But an honest assessment of that position would be to say that Antichrist's destruction occurs at Christ's final visit.

As Eric Douma aptly points out:

"There is a logical fallacy in attempting to maintain that Jesus can come bodily in the parousia, and
then somehow be continually present –without being present bodily."

I agree. If Christ comes for the church and returns to heaven, then one cannot legitimately lay claim to a single-phase Second Advent.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Origin of Dispensational Heresies

I just happened to visit a prophecy related site and came across the following remark:

Quote: "Dispensational teachings did not occur overnight. They are a result of the gradual heresies of catholicism, protestantism, calvinism, and arminianism." 

I guess the guy wanted to cover as many bases as possible. What's amazing is that others actually agreed. One of them was a published author on eschatology who writes articles noting the errors of dispensationalism. These guys actually believe this tripe.

Anyhow, I think it's time to rehash Dan Phillips' article: Twenty-five stupid reasons for dissing dispensationalism

Monday, July 22, 2013

How should we respond to the Muslim protests?

I have been meaning to link to this article for some time. Many thanks to Facebook friend Joel for bringing this very thoughtful essay to my attention:

Last month I awoke to the news of an Islamic protest march through  the centre of Sydney that was not entirely peaceful. I am Australian, but I live in Africa, where this kind of thing is common and often worse.

Earlier this year, one of my students from Nigeria was unable to attend the first two weeks of term because his town was under siege by Muslim insurgents who were burning churches and the homes of Christians. No doubt the Christians were also doing their own share of insurgency. Nevertheless, it was still shocking for me to see pictures of Muslim protestors marching through Sydney’s Hyde Park in order to uphold the honour of Muhammad. One photograph showed a child holding a banner that read “Behead all those who insult the prophet”! How should Christians respond?....continue reading Marching for Allah: How should we respond to the Muslim protests?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Paul Henebury on Dispensationalism

Lindsay Kennedy recently interviewed "Dr Reluctant" on the topic of Dispensationalism.

The discourse is in two parts and can be accessed HERE.

While you're there, take a look around Telos Ministries. Lots of great material.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Apartheid Israel

Well color me purple!

Looks like Alice Walker has jumped on the Israel bashing band wagon. Why? Who knows? She joins the likes of Stephen Sizer, Naim Ateek and Desmond Tutu who freely use the words apartheid and Israel in the same sentence.

Walker actually takes a longer walk into the Twilight Zone when she embraces the possibility that nuclear Israel could one day turn onto the United States. According to the Weisenthal Centre:

In reacting to the book, Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Center’s Founder and Dean said, “I must say, Alice Walker is the princess of historical revisionism, telling us that she fears that one day, ‘Though all focus appears to be on which Arab nation is likely to strike the United States … I imagine Israel just as capable of doing us nuclear harm … because the United States and Israel, working together have done terrible things to others … and it is the nature of thieves to eventually have a grand falling out.”...keep reading

Personally, I would have been a bit blunter. Walker is more than a revisionist, and so are her friends above.

Is Israel really an Apartheid State? Well, the inconvenient facts do sometimes get in the way. The Jewish Press article Alice Walker’s Mistaken Anti-Israel Position does a great job in putting things into perspective.

Make sure you also watch Dennis Prager's video at the end.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Isaiah 25:8 Trumps Pretrib

A few weeks ago a posttribulationist posed me a number of questions. He recommended some books which "refuted" both dispensationalism and pretribulationism and noted that the older historic premillennialists would find modern pretribulationist arguments laughable. I thought that was a great way to start the conversation so I repaid the compliment by providing him with a number of alternative views. However, he didn't appear interested in following mine up. Instead, he insisted I answer his questions and quit dodging the issues.

I've learned two things about some non-pretribbers; they like asking questions but they get mighty tetchy about having to answer them. He didn't warm to my asking him why he moved the 6th seal to the end of the 70th week and retrofitted Rev 20:4 back to the 7th trumpet. My guess is that he had the same motivation as Bob Gundry when he argued for a postmillennial Sheep & Goat judgment. Why do posties juggle events around? - Because posttribulationism requires it.

But one of his "gotcha" points was a new one to me. He drew a correlation between Isaiah 25:8 and 1 Co 15:54. Both passages refer to death being swallowed up, and he asserted that Paul was citing Isaiah in reference to the rapture. His argument then followed:

When does Isaiah describe this occurring? After the "heavenly signs":

Isaiah 13:10- "For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine."

Isaiah 24:23- "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously."

When does the Lord say the heavenly signs occur? "After the tribulation of those days":

Matthew 24:29- "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:"

And when does the "day of the Lord" occur? After the heavenly signs:

Acts 2:20- "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:"

So Paul inextricably links the resurrection/rapture to the post-trib "day of the Lord".

There are several problems associated with distinguishing the day of the Lord from the great tribulation, and I've covered these before. But aside from that, while posttribbers relocate key events in Revelation, chronology is an important consideration to them if it superficially appears to undermine pretribulationism. In other words, if Paul equates the rapture with death being swallowed up in victory in Isa 25:8 after the Isa 24:23 "cosmic signs", then pretrib is refuted.

I pointed out that, while Paul may allude to a term found in Isa 25:8, death really isn't swallowed up until Rev 20:14 & Rev 21:4...long after the posttrib rapture. Note the comparisons:

He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. Isa 25:8

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Rev 21:4

He wouldn't buy it. My friend insisted that Isa 24:23 refers to the Matt 24:29 cosmic signs. Actually, the former doesn't mention cosmic signs at all. These signs precede the second coming; they don't occur when the Lord of hosts is reigning in mount Zion, as in Isa 24:23.

The verse more likely correlates to Rev 21:23.

The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.

According to the ESV Study Bible notes (and John MacArthur):

Isaiah 24:23 The moon and sun are outshone by the glory of the Lord of hosts reigning in triumph forever from his city, Jerusalem on Mount Zion. His elders lead his redeemed people, once unfaithful (Isaiah 3:14; 9:14-15), but now replaced by faithful ones (Isaiah 52:7; 60:19-20).  

Am I being picky? Well, there's more. Isaiah 23:21-22 poses another chronological problem for that posttrib argument.

It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and will be shut up in the prison; after many days they will be punished. Then the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed; for the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously. Isa 24:21-23

This is either talking about the Matt 25:32 Sheep & Goat judgment or the Great White Throne Judgment of Rev 20:11-15, take your pick. Either way, this event occurs chronologically prior to the alleged rapture connection at Isa 25:8 and prior to the alleged cosmic signs of Isa 24:23. So the theory has another chronological problem.

Connecting Isaiah 25:8 to the rapture of 1 Co 15:54, just because Paul used the phrase "swallow up death in victory", reminds me of a similar argument used by a pro-Torah advocate. He claimed that Peter told us to obey the dietary laws in 1 Peter 1:15-16 because he used the term "Be holy, for I am holy" which is also found in Leviticus 11. The context of Leviticus 11: 44-45 is the Mosaic dietary guidelines. But dietary laws weren't the context of Peter's epistle. Peter simply borrowed a term from Leviticus and applied it to admonishing holiness in the general conduct of believers he was writing to.

Does Isaiah 25:8 trump pretribulationism?


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

From Veritas to Telos

Check out Dr. Paul Henebury's great new website:

Telos Theological Ministries

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Timely words from Albert Mohler

In light of the subject matter of some of my recent posts, I thought the following was germane:

Theological education is a deadly serious business. The stakes are so high. A theological seminary that serves faithfully will be a source of health and life for the church, but an unfaithful seminary will set loose a torrent of trouble, untruth, and sickness upon Christ’s people. Inevitably, the seminaries are the incubators of the church’s future. The teaching imparted to seminarians will shortly be inflicted upon congregations, where the result will be either fruitfulness or barrenness, vitality or lethargy, advance or decline, spiritual life, or spiritual the article

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Where did all the Palestinian money go?

From Rosh Pina Project:

Messianic Jew Speaks at the European Parliament: Where did all the Palestinian money go?

On Israeli Checkpoints & Elections

The usual suspects keep peddling the same canards about Israeli oppression. Repeat these myths often enough and they become accepted as fact. But is it really so?

Gatestone Institute's Khaled Abu Toameh weighs in:

It is the Fatah and Hamas leaders, and not Israel, who do not want to see reforms and democracy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But the anti-Israel spokesmen in the U.S., Canada and Europe are not going to let facts get in their way.

Is it true that Palestinians cannot hold new elections because of Israeli security measures?

This is a claim, often made in the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe, is that the Palestinians have not been able to hold new presidential and parliamentary elections for the past five years because of Israeli army checkpoints in the West Bank, and that it will be impossible for the Palestinians to hold new elections in the future so long as Israel maintains checkpoints in various parts of the West Bank...keep reading

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Matt Waymeyer on "preaching the Word of God"

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 2Ti 4:1-4

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics

There are some interesting dispensational discussions on this site:

Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics

An informative note from Dr Stallard discussing the concept and hopes driving the CDH:

The Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics at Age Four Dr. Mike Stallard, Baptist Bible Seminary

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Holy Spirit a goddess?

"Moshe Rabbenu, I’ve got a few questions for you: How much does the Torah passed down in your name reflect what you actually said and did and experienced? And now that you have crossed over to the other side, how much space is there between your experience and articulation of God and the God whom you now know in eternity? Why couldn’t you find a woman from your own folk you could stand long enough to marry? And is the bias against women in the Bible directly related to your domestic issues? And Elijah, I have a couple of questions for you too: how does being taken bodily up into heaven in a chariot of fire actually work? Does your body phase in and out of solid matter cohesion like in a transporter beam? Is heaven on the other side of a wormhole? When you killed the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal but not the four hundred prophets of Asherah was it because you really didn’t mind a little goddess worship on the side? Are we feminists right in saying that Asherah was just the Canaanite articulation of the Holy Spirit and not really another God? Those are just some of my questions. I don’t know if Peter had questions or if he just wanted to be in the presence of his holy and revered spiritual ancestors." (Emphasis mine)

I may get smacked for citing so much content from someone else's blog in one hit. But that's life. The above derisive rant wasn't penned by a scornful atheist or your run-of-the-mill radical feminist. These are the words of a minister. In fact, the author is an Associate Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

As Dan Skogen notes:

"Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney ordained Episcopal priest who teaches the future leaders and pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America."

Is that how a faithful Christian minister should behave towards the Word of God and the Holy Spirit? Or is the basis for judging what actually constitutes the Word of God founded on whether it agrees with one's ideology? Is whatever fails to meet one's criteria subject to mockery?

Two posts ago I blogged about gay activism and suggested that academics within the Lutheran denomination are beginning to use their selective brand of "hermeneutics" to champion the practice of homosexuality, same-sex marriage and a host of other social ideologies. Judging from Gafney's comments, significant elements within the ELCA are already happily wallowing in the depths of heresy and paganism.

Why would an organization, with the high pedigree that the Lutherans have historically enjoyed, allow people like Gafney to teach at their seminaries?

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2Ti 4:1-7

I could quote a few more Pauline verses that would be germane to all this and thereby generate the proverbial "gnashing of teeth". Of course, many will hasten to point out that Paul was a misogynist who got some basic things wrong because he was raised in a patriarchal society. Moreover, they'd argue that a lot of the stuff in his epistles is irrelevant to "modern needs" and must be filtered through the lens of the appropriate hermeneutics.

Sadly, the secular media embraces these examples of "Christianity" because their narrative is complementary to where the main-stream media believes an "enlightened society" should be heading. But are these examples truly faithful presentations of God's Word to the unbeliever and babe in Christ?

"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. Act 20:28-31

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. Jam 3:1

Speaking of hermeneutics, according to Gafney:

"Because of what all seminary professors, biblical scholars, seminary trained clergy and religious leaders and careful critical readers of scripture know: we all interpret everything we read or see, including (and not just) sacred texts. Yet there is a misperception that texts – especially religious texts – are independent of interpretation, that their meaning is whatever the literal text says, with no nuance or room for interpretation. And Those who get to say that the text means what it literally says to them, are those with power, frequently white, male, heterosexual, cis-gendered, able-bodied, frequently clergy (with or without seminary education depending on the tradition)."

Are these people actually looking at the texts and sifting out subtle "nuances" that have "room for interpretation"? Or are they beginning with modern diversity-derived presuppositions, and then cherry-picking what they need from wherever they can in Scripture?

I recommend Dr. Robert L Thomas' "Evangelical Hermeneutics - The New Versus the Old". See especially chapters 13 and 14 (Evangelical Feminism & Evangelical Missiology) in regards to the subject of this blog. See Gary Gilley's book review HERE and also note the articles:

Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutics - Part 1 

Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutics - Part 2

Further reading:

Gods and Goddesses

Yahweh and Asherah (Michael Heiser)

Biblical Hermeneutics: Foundational Considerations 

The Hermeneutics of Evangelical Feminism

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Not Losing the Gospel

Some wise words from D. A. Carson via The Gospel Coalition:

On Not Losing the Gospel in the Next Generation

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Rossing's Hermeneutics of Diversity, Gay Activism & Revelation

Yes, they are all somewhat connected - at least in my little world.

Last year I stumbled across Lutheran Minister Barbara Rossing's "The Rapture Exposed" and thought it would be an interesting read. Rossing is considered to be a leading scholar and one of the go-to persons when it comes to debunking the "Left Behind" genre. Her 2004 book is still being praised by those who are academically offended by the likes of Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins and Hal Lindsey, yet know zilch about dispensationalism or any other people connected with it.

In my opinion, the only thing Barbara Rossing exposed was her lack of biblical integrity, inattention to detail, and a proclivity to mine quote sensational tidbits by the wrong people as if they represented the normative dispensational view. You'll note later that her issue wasn't really rapture timing, although she brought Bob Gundry into the mix (for some credibility?). Essentially, she wanted to make the LB franchise look stupid and inept because its fundamentalist positions conflicted with the type of ideology she holds sacred. Rossing caricatured dispies as irresponsibly anti-Green, anti-Earth and dangerously pro-Zionist, even to the point that they conspired to usher in Armageddon:

"Eschatology is something I am working on in relation to environmental issues and the LWF climate change program, how we can move away from the escapist, earth-denying eschatology of a text such as 2 Peter 3 to embrace a more new creation-oriented eschatology." ~ Rossing

She also had some unique insights on Revelation and wrote a book on the subject - just to set things straight. I haven't read it but, judging from "Exposed", I can only guess how Lutheran Ministers Joseph A. Seiss and George N. H. Peters might have reacted to her view of Revelation.

Glad I got that off my chest.

Her name recently popped up again as I was reading some news items regarding the current push for same-sex marriage, and how various Christians are handling it. I did some digging around and found a number of self-described Christian websites that have been set up to "biblically" defend the practice of homosexuality.

I also discovered that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), of which Rossing is a member, has been wrestling with the "gay" issue for some years. In a 2005 Lutheran Advent publication, I found an article called In casting Revelation as a “survivor” show, Tim and Jerry miss the boat. Author Cathy Ward-Crixell notes:

When my friends found out that I was reading Left Behind, their reactions were telling. None of them thought I was reading it for fun or because I agreed with authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Instead, they made slightly guilty, slightly disgusted faces. “I know I should read it, but I just can’t,” one of them said. “I guess I’ll have to read it sometime,” another said. “I know people in my congregation do.” I found Left Behind to be disturbing, infuriating, and ridiculous. But I am grateful that since I read it I have a better idea of what fundamentalists are doing to the book of Revelation. The most subversive book in the Bible, one filled with hope for diverse groups in an oppressive culture, has been transformed by Left Behind into violent, sexist, homophobic propaganda. Lutherans can’t afford to ignore Left Behind or to think of Revelation as too weird for mainstream Christians. We must claim the hope Revelation offers and not let LaHaye and Jenkins’ assertions about what is “biblical” speak for us.

In the very next paragraph she writes:

Homosexuality is “out”: Amy Johnson Frykholm interviewed Left Behind readers from various church and social backgrounds. Her conclusions are published in Rapture Culture: Left Behind in Evangelical America. She describes “a position that is common among readers and common to the books—that homosexuality is a sign of the depravity that leads to the end of the world”

The publication is centered on "diversity" and a thinly-veiled defense of homosexuality. In fact "diversity" seems to be the sacred paradigm embraced by the ELCA. Notably, one gentleman even suggests that it's time to: "...close our Bibles for a few months. We won’t find the answer we’re looking for there—at least not in the places we’ve been looking." 

In one internal ELCA paper (apparently "Not for publication or citation") entitled Diversity in the Bible as a Model for Lutheran Hermeneutics, Rossing explores the "different types of biblical diversity".

Given the statements above it's not difficult to conclude where Rossing's paper is really heading. On the one hand, she affirms the "joy" that Lutherans derive from studying Scripture "together with others", yet she deftly segues into the inevitable warning that the Bible "can also become the locus of conflict."

You know, the stuff that fundamentalists obsess and attack others about: "war and peace, creationism versus evolution, slavery, economic issues such as usury or wealth and poverty, interfaith issues of Jews and Muslims, social issues such as roles of women, divorce, or homosexuality."

She notes that (pardon my citations): "Christian history shows that it is possible to use the Bible to foster intolerance and justify absolutist claims for one’s own biblical position over against the reading of others." 

Of course, what I think she really means is that her anti-LB-fundamentalist books are okay, even though they don't tolerate that particular view...because...well...because she's right.

Rossing regards the Bible as theologically diverse. Some clear examples for people like me would have been appreciated. I didn't go to seminary and hadn't realized that harmonizing biblical layers was a no-no:

"Some of the most fascinating diversity is not simply between different biblical documents, but also between different voices represented within a single document. This is especially the case in the Old Testament—the way in Genesis, for example, we can identify and retrieve different theologies of the Yahwist as contrasted to the Priestly writer, as seen in their different creation accounts. We need both creation accounts, with their different theologies and contexts. The richness is lost if we simply harmonize the layers."

This is the sort of fodder the ELCA feeds its congregation:

"The Bible is God’s word. But it is God’s word spoken differently through different communities and authors in different contexts. It is not a single monolithic book dropped from heaven. It is a library of voices. Various communities in the biblical conversation understood God’s word in different, even competing ways. The early church in its wisdom included many voices in the canon, canonizing not just one view but a range of views."

It's obvious to me that what drives ELCA hermeneutics is its obsessive need to embrace diversity at the expense of faithful theology. They're trying to cleverly find ways to keep the Bible relevant to modern needs rather than letting God's Word speak for itself. In other words, the ELCA has embraced a culturally driven hermeneutic. It uses that paradigm to achieve its activist goals. They interpret God's Word based on cultural needs. They are looking for escape clauses for justifying same-sex marriage, rather than sincerely seeking God's will.

Alan Kurschner of Eschatos Ministries recently touched upon the gay activism issue HERE and HERE. He warns that the church will be affected, and those who remain faithful to God's Word may be forced to go underground. He has hit the nail on the head!

Not that long ago, two Australian pastors were jailed*, ordered to pay hefty court costs, and ordered to take out newspaper ads for a public apology; all because they'd preached a sermon against Islamic jihad. Ironically, one of the pastors was originally from Pakistan and had suffered under Islamic persecution. The sermon was delivered at their church in a closed setting. Members of the Islamic Council of Victoria infiltrated the church and recorded the sermons.

* Correction: They were threatened with jail.

Think about how gay activists may walk into any church in the U.S. and monitor what is being taught regarding practicing homosexuality in respect to God's Word. In the current climate, that will have very real consequences for faithful Christians and pastors.

In contrast, the ELCA won't be bothered by such concerns. As Dan Skogen notes in Exposing the ELCA, they've already embraced same-sex marriage.

Some recommended resources:

Fred Butler of Hip and Thigh has spent some time on Answering the Claims of Gay “Christian” Apologetics.

Dr James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries responds to Matthew Vines' Gay Apologetics speech in "Gay Christianity" Refuted!

Frank Turk: Not That There's Anything Wrong With That (a continuing conversation)

Kevin Zuber: Exposing Barbara R. Rossing’s The Rapture Exposed

Sunday, March 24, 2013

David James on Petrus Romanus

Dave has already spent a good amount of time on his website interacting with Jonathan Cahn's best-selling novel Harbinger. He's also written a book critiquing it, which I think is highly recommended reading.  Dave demonstrates how Cahn's premises extend beyond the intention and reach of the Scriptures that he quotes as support. It's a pity many prophecy buffs have given him short shrift.

Now he's written an article addressing Petrus Romanus, which is co-authored by Tom Horn and Cris Putnam. I'm sure the negative review will upset many fans (if they read it). However, I think it's much needed. Highly speculative books of the PR genre give eschatology a bad name.

Dave points out that the new pope slipped past the writers' 10 likely candidates for Petrus Romanus, yet they were finally able to spin Francis to be a "fantastic fulfillment of prophecy.” One thing he doesn't mention is that the authors also sourced the controversial Malachi Martin for some of their material. M. Scott Peck collaborated with him at one point. Yet even Peck admitted that: "In fact, Malachi often was a liar."

You can read Dave's review HERE

P.S. This is also a worthwhile read (something to offend everyone?):

The Rise of Apocalyptic Paganism in the Church

Friday, March 22, 2013

Jerusalem: Not Holy?

I like reading opposing viewpoints. So, when I saw that "Jesus and the Holy City" by Anglican minister Peter Walker was enthusiastically endorsed by Tom Wright & Gary Burge, I added it to my library. It was a bargain at Half Price Books anyway. You can get a decent fix on Walker's position HERE:

"Walker’s book is a healthy antidote to the earth bound and materialistic theology of much Christian Zionism, preoccupied as it is with the rebuilding of an earthly Temple, with supporting Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem and their conquest of most of the Middle East to fulfil the Abrahamic promise."

Walker writes:

"...Jerusalem has lost whatever theological status it previously possessed. The way the Old Testament ascribes to Jerusalem a special, central and sacred status within the on-going purposes of God is not reaffirmed by the New Testament writers. Instead they see God’s purposes as having moved forward into a new era in which the previous emphasis on the city (as well as on the Land and the Temple) is no longer appropriate. The coming of Jesus has been its undoing...Jesus expressed his true love for Jerusalem not by acceding to its agendas but by denying them. Those who follow in his steps and who truly love Jerusalem may similarly have to resist some of the enticements which this city offers." (p. 319, 326 Emphasis mine)

"The argument of this present book is that the New Testament understands these Old Testament promises of 'restoration' to have been fulfilled in Christ, and that therefore fulfillments of a different kind are not in accordance with New Testament expectation." (p 323)

"...the New Testament asserts that it is possible to have a high christological (sic) doctrine which does not lead to a parallel elevation of Jerusalem (or its 'holy places'); on the contrary, the higher one's christology (sic), the greater the tragedy of what occurred in Jerusalem and the more logical conviction that this 'Christ' could indeed fulfill the previous functions of the Temple and city in his own person...contrary to the opinion of many, this was a vital issue for the apostles, and that they were forced to the unexpected conclusion that the longed-for 'restoration' of Israel had been accomplished in Christ." (p 324)

Ironically, the organizers of the Christ at the Checkpoint Conferences, Sabeel, and other anti-Israel activists habitually refer to Palestine and Jerusalem as "The Holy Land" and "The Holy City". It appears that they are only a Holy Land and City if they incorporate inter-faith racial diversity, sans a Jewish state. But scratch the "Holy" from anything to do with OT Zionism, i.e., ownership of the land and a distinctive national role for a Jewish Israel.

According to Gary Burge:

"Peter Walker’s study is both comprehensive in its scope and practical in its wisdom...Walker shows how a correct view of the Jerusalem theme will utterly affect not only our biblical theology but also our politics as we view Jerusalem today." (Emphasis mine)

Burge is right about one thing; he is an excellent example of a theology shaping one's political view of Israel and Jerusalem. His form of political activism is okay because it's driven by the right theology. The problem is that this theologically-driven politics consistently and unfairly demonizes and disadvantages a nation that struggles to exist within a hostile region.

Here's another interesting comment:

"Walker shows that it is quite vacuous for Christians to quote Old Testament texts concerning Jerusalem to imply that God’s purposes remained unchanged with the coming of Jesus. Walker shows convincingly that the way New Testament writers view Jerusalem is indicative of the way they view the Land." (Emphasis mine)

Maybe I missed something. The OT affirms promises to Israel that need to be reaffirmed in the NT if they are to remain viable? Who made that rule up?

Walker cites a number of academic sources that agree with him. Yet he barely acknowledges OT passages relevant to Israel. There's no need for him to expound them as they reside, impotently, in the wrong part of the Bible and, hence, don't align with the NT's new perspective. He skillfully steers around problem areas in a manner that would have made the Captain of the Titanic envious. He insists that Jesus: "pointedly did not promise a restoration of Jerusalem after the forthcoming destruction." He notes parallels between Jesus' narrative and Jeremiah's prophecy, but assumes that Jeremiah's restoration is post-exilic (no exposition provided), and insists again that: "Jesus made no such promise [of restoration]".

Walker performs a neat Aikido-like sidestep around Jesus' response to the disciples in Acts 1:6-7 (pp 284-285 etc), reminiscent of Waltke in Discontinuity (p 273). While ignoring the significance of Jesus' time-centered response in v 7, he points to Luke 24:21(p 285) as evidence that Jesus rebuked the Emmaus disciples over their expectation of the nature of Israel's redemption. Citing vv 25-26 as support, he avoids the obvious conclusion that, if Jesus expected these disciples to understand what the prophets wrote about Himself literally, then why not what they wrote about Israel literally? Moreover, the context of vv 21-32 demonstrates that the disciples' concerns were not exclusively about Israel's redemption, but also about Jesus Himself.

Walker links the "third day" with Hos 6:2 and Jonah, and then cites Dodd to conclude that: "the resurrection of Christ is the resurrection of Israel of which the prophets spoke." Presumably, this verse abrogates Hos 5:15, the rest of the book, and pretty much the rest of the OT relevant to future national Israel.

Don't bother with Rom 11:28-29 either. Perhaps it was just an oversight that he stopped at Rom 11: 27. Or maybe he figured that the intelligent reader should have worked out what the NT perspective was by then.

Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Rom 11:28-29

What irrevocable gifts and calling to unbelieving Israel would these be, exactly? On this, Walker is silent. If quoting God's OT promises to Israel is a "vacuous" exercise, then, given that God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), does not that make God disingenuous? I mean, why bother making detailed promises if Your audience understands them one way, but You're eventually going to transform the identity of the recipients and the nature of the blessings anyway?

Speaking of vacuous:

If I forget you, O Jerusalem, Let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth-- If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy. (Psa 137:5-6

"then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. Jer 7:7

Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day, The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, And its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name): If those ordinances depart From before Me, says the LORD, Then the seed of Israel shall also cease From being a nation before Me forever." Thus says the LORD: If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel For all that they have done, says the LORD. Jer 31:35-37

"Then say to them, `Thus says the Lord GOD: "Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; "and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. "They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God. Eze 37:21-23

I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them," Says the LORD your God. Amos 9:14-15

For thus says the LORD of hosts: "He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. Zec 2:8

"For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Mal 3:6

Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" **And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority Act 1:6-7

Note from the Walker Wright Burge Study Bible (Antidote to the LaHaye Scofield versions):

**Jesus told the disciples to scrap those Old Promises. There's a change of Agenda. This is, after all, the NT.

Further reading:

Thomas Constable: Notes on Hosea


The New Jerusalem

See also Paul Henebury's:

A Disingenuous God?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jack Kinsella - Gone to be with the Lord

The founder of the Omega Letter went to be with the Lord last week. His name is Jack Kinsella.

Soon after I left the New Age, I was fortunate enough to find Jack's Omega Letter and eventually became a member. I felt right at home there.  Jack had an amazing memory and was a speed reader. He was able to retain near 100% of all he read. Those traits, along with incisive analytical skills, resulted in awesome daily Omega Letter briefings.

I found Jack to be very gracious and humble towards opposing viewpoints even when he had to defend himself against accusations of being a "False Prophet" because of his rapture timing position.

I'll never forget his funeral service. We were all grieving for our loss and heaven's gain. But between the pastor and Jack's family, the service became an altar-call for the Lord. It was all about Jesus. What an uplifting experience!

Missing you, Jack.

Here is the Official Obituary:

Kinsella, John “Jack” Michael was born October 7, 1952 in Fort Erie, Ontario and went home to be with the Lord March 14, 2013 at 12:30 pm at the age of 60.

Son of the late, Jack Kinsella and Doris Kinsella (Winn). 

John lived his life as a hero beginning at age 10 when he received the Carnegie award for heroism. In 1969, John signed up to the US Marines at the tender age of 16 where he served until 1975 receiving an honorable discharge. During his service for the Marines, John also had a battle with cancer and won. He then began his career in law enforcement in North Texas reaching the rank of Captain before the age of 30. He then headed back to his hometown of Fort Erie where he dedicated his life to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ preaching, teaching and mentoring until the Lord took him from this world to grant him his heavenly rewards.

John is survived by his wife, partner and best friend Gayle Kinsella (Snyder). His brothers, Roy, Walter and Tony Kinsella, his sisters Jacqueline Anderson, Barbara Dumelie and Georgina Wisbey and all of their children, who greatly admired their Uncle “Johnny”.

He leaves behind six children, Karen Velemirovich (Mike), John Kinsella, Charlyn Fischer, Richard Kinsella (Nikki), Michael Fischer (Kerilyn) and Jessica Cook to whom he freely shared all his accumulated wisdom. John loved and enjoyed all of his 9 grandchildren, Hannah, Jacob, Michael, Taya, Bailey, Sarah, Tristan, Lorilai and Natasha.

John was also a loving cousin and nephew to the Opatovsky, Pooler, Spear and James Families. 
John lived his life to the absolute fullest and made every moment count. Being ready at all times to give an answer for the hope that was in him.

Read Pastor Scott's tribute to Jack HERE

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dr. Paul Wilkinson on Christian Palestinianism

Courtesy of The Berean Call for a limited time:

This video is featured in the January 2012 Berean Call Newsletter and was recorded at the 2011 Berean Call Conference

Click Here

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Response to Steve Anderson's "After the Tribulation"

Steve Anderson has produced a documentary called After the Tribulation which has gone viral on YouTube and various blogs. You can get a sense of where he's coming from in the accompanying PDF which affirms:

"The following sermon covers the often misunderstood subject of the tribulation, and its relationship to the rapture. By visiting all 22 New Testament uses of the term 'tribulation', Pastor Anderson uses God’s clear word to completely lay to rest the false doctrine of the so called 'pre-tribulation rapture', in favour of the Biblically sound 'post-tribulation rapture'."

The first thing I want to note is that Anderson also claims to be prewrath. He's not a classic post-tribulationist.

Secondly, leading prewrath proponent Alan Kurschner of Eschatos Ministries warns that Anderson's prewrath version is "off base" with the official teachings of that system. I tried to find a quick print reference to Anderson's version - apart from the anti-pretrib rants on his videos - but couldn't locate any. I'd stick with Alan Kurschner if you want to find out more about the prewrath view.

I only watched about twenty minutes of the video in which Anderson and an associate attacked the pretribulational view of Mat 24:31 and the identity of the "elect" - which was all too familiar to me. We get to see a quick photo of John MacArthur as a typical pretrib teacher that pretribbers gullibly listen to without actually reading their Bibles - which is why they're pretrib and deluded. It was about all I could stomach.

People like Anderson are generally better at attacking pretribulationism by standing on accusations, but not so much at biblically defending why they believe what they believe.

Dr James Ach of DoRightChristians has put together a quick response to Anderson's "After the Tribulation". I note that the DRC website is pro KJVO (as is Steve Anderson). Notwithstanding, Dr Ach's response is still a worthy one in my opinion (despite the odd typos i.e., Robert - not Roger - Van Kampen).

*Note also that I have no idea why Ray Comfort is referred to as a "heretic". Caveat emptor?

You can read it HERE

Myron Houghton's critique of PreWrath

The Rapture is When?

For a book length refutation of the Prewrath theory see Renald Showers' The Pre-Wrath Rapture View

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Christ at the Checkpoint 2014 looming

It looks like the Christ at the Checkpoint 2014 Conference is on its way and the usual contributors will be gearing up for it.

It's edifying that the blurb begins by recognizing the current turmoil in the Middle East (Egypt, Syria etc) - if only briefly. However, I would have appreciated some attempt to identify some of the underlying causes of the "Arab Spring" nightmare. I'll hazard a guess that, since these causes are unrelated to Israel; identifying them isn't part of the CATC narrative and, therefore, not on the agenda.

But the "occupation" the "wall" and the "checkpoint" are still there, so they cannot ignore that reality. And don't forget the "Gaza war".

The CATC conference is a response to their call as Christians "to be peacemakers and to lovingly challenge all forms of injustice." Following that line of thought they ask the familiar leading questions:

"What would Christ say and do if he were to stand in front of a checkpoint today? What would his message be to the Palestinian crossing the checkpoint? And to the Israeli solder who is stopping him? What is the Christian calling in the midst of this reality?"

Anyway, Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel has put together Twenty Facts About Israel and the Middle East which I guarantee will not be discussed at the CATC conference.

Some data and news that probably won't make an appearance on the conference notes:

From the Jewish Virtual Library: Myths & Facts of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Speaking of "lovingly challenging all forms of injustice":

"The issue of Muslim hostility toward Israel, Jews (and Christians) was addressed at the conference by Colin Chapman, a long time critic of Israel, but it was given short shrift and was done in such a manner so as to hinder any real discussion of the subject. At one point, Chapman responded rather brusquely to questions about Muslim violence against Christians in the Middle East by saying the questions themselves indicated that the questioners hadn’t put themselves in the shoes of Muslims in the Middle East." (Emphasis mine) A response to CATC

Perhaps we can also put ourselves in the shoes of the Christian in the Middle East:

Judgment Day for the Christians of the Middle East

Hatred of Christians Unleashed in Libya

Persecution of Christians: December, 2012

MidEast Christians: an Endangered Species