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

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Don't Quote Scripture!

That's right; don't quote the Bible. It could be offensive.

Some weeks ago I was chastised on a book forum for quoting Scripture by someone claiming to be an Orthodox Christian.

As an ex New Ager, I'd been trying to witness at that forum for nearly two years. We had been discussing the books of an Indian guru author who wrote extensively about Jesus. He taught that Jesus was only a man and just one of many ascended masters who had attained the "Christ Consciousness". In his cosmology there is no sin as we Christians understand it and the path to "salvation" is through the guru's particular style of Kriya yoga meditation.

This "orthodox" Christian suddenly jumped into one of the conversations I was having with these people, and voiced his objection. He surmised we could all learn a lot from this guru about "spirituality" and how to love Jesus, even though he admitted that he'd never read Yogananda. Sadly, I've come across several Christians on that forum who shared similar beliefs and one pastor who was enthusiastically looking forward to sharing this guru's teachings in the pulpit!

The Christian insisted it was arrogant of me to be quoting Scripture to people who, either couldn't understand it, or didn't give it the same credibility "we" did. He insisted that it was like trying to teach quantum science to someone who couldn't understand algebra. Moreover, he criticized me for being combative.

I can, indeed, be arrogant and argumentative. In fact, I would add condescending and a bunch of other adjectives I constantly struggle with in my flesh. I checked back at my comments and there were some I probably would have rephrased in retrospect - a lesson for future witnessing. Ironically, one of the New Agers immediately came to my defense saying that she never found me to be argumentative. Still, I took the criticism on board and prayed over it.

The next day the penny dropped. I dug a little bit further into this Christian's profile and found out that he was a fan of Catholic priest Raimon Panikkar. So I asked him if he was a religious pluralist. He ignored the question. I then informed him that the guru we'd been discussing had selectively cited hundreds of Bible verses out of context in support of his teaching. Therefore it wasn't rocket science to respond to that book in like fashion. In fact I suggested to him that Christians are obligated to do so. He stopped posting soon after that exchange.

You can read all about Panikkar online. One of the books he wrote borders on New Age paganism: "The Cosmotheandric Experience: Emerging Religious Consciousness."

Panikkar's principles of religious dialogue etc can be found HERE.

A sampling:

1. It must be free from particular apologetics. The Christian, Hindu or Buddhist must not approach the dialogue with the a priori idea of defending one's own tradition over or against the other.  

2. It must be free from general apologetics. Those involved in interfaith dialogue should not see their task in terms of defending religion in general against the non-religious or anti-religious attitudes of secular society. This would turn the religious encounter into an ideological movement as well being simplistic in its rejection of modern secular consciousness.

3. One must face the challenge of conversion. To be involved in religious encounter is a challenge and a risk. The truly religious person is not a fanatic who has all the answers but a pilgrim who is always open to the experience of grace and truth. One may lose one's life or even lose faith in one's own tradition--but one may also be born again and one's own tradition transformed.

4. The historical dimension is necessary but not sufficient. All religions risk limiting themselves to particular, historical interpretations which quickly become truncated ideologies. Religious encounter is a meeting of religious persons who both carry the power and burden of their own religious traditions; yet they also carry the power and burden of reinterpreting that tradition anew, not breaking with past history, but carrying it forward in imaginative ways. Religious persons like all others belong to history; they also change history through responding to life's contemporary challenges.

Interestingly, just today I saw a link to an apologetic at Catholic Answers. The topic in question was:

Apart from God's saving works, no one can be saved. So how can atheists be saved just by acting charitably?

I guess that, as a Catholic, the apologist is no fan of Sola Scriptura. Here is part of the response:

"To the extent that belief in God has been made impossible for him [the atheist] by others, there may be some mitigation of his culpability for unbelief. Ultimately we must trust that even he is not beyond the reach of God’s mercy if he strives to live morally (cf. Lumen Gentium 16). The second great commandment is love of neighbor (Matt. 22:39) and Christ said of those who serve others, even if they do not explicitly do it for Christ’s sake..."

Read Bob Deffinbaugh's article on Romans 1:18-32 HERE

Back to the Panikkar website:

"Moreover, Panikkar's own kind of radical pluralism is appealing in the manner it develops a critical stance towards all imperialistic and monistic modes of thinking and acting. No more will one religion, culture or tradition impose itself on peoples of diverse if less powerful traditions. The cosmotheandric vision tells us that a new wholistic experience of reality is emerging in which every tradition, religious or otherwise, can play its part in the unfolding of a new revelation where all will live in harmony and peace. This does not require the abandonment of faith, since faith is what humanity holds in common." (Emphasis mine)

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 6:23

Oops, there I go again!