Monday, April 28, 2014

Dr. Pentecost gone to be with the Lord

I'm sure Dr. Andy woods won't mind my putting this here:

I am simultaneously saddened and overjoyed to report that long-time Dallas Theological Seminary professor J. Dwight Pentecost passed into the presence of the Lord this afternoon at 4:00PM while at Forum Rehab in Dallas. His condition began to deteriorate last night and early this morning. He had just turned 99. He was/is a beautiful Christian, scholar, and teacher. He made an indelible and eternal impact upon my life, theology, worldview, approach to the Bible, ministry philosophy, and career trajectory like no other pastor, scholar, or theologian. One of the great privileges of my life graciously given to me by God was to study under him. He simply cannot be replaced. ~ Dr. Andy Woods

Saturday, April 26, 2014

2 Thess 2 - Pretrib Nightmare

Some criticisms I see against pretribulationism intrigue me. Note this comment by Rev. Larry Wolfe:

"Pre-Tribulation Theory has no clear Biblical basis of support, but in distinct contrast it does have problem passages which are ignored instead of explained, such as II Thess 2:1-8." 

A member of a forum I belong to recently asked for our thoughts on an eight minute YouTube video produced by Chris White. It claims 2 Thess 2 is a "nightmare" for pretribbers. Contra Wolfe, White says he's "heard many pretrib sermons and read many commentaries," and "almost none of them are the same."

So, do pretribbers ignore the texts or do they scramble for explanations? I wonder what White thinks of Dr. Charles Cooper's recent rebuke of his community. Speaking of which, the latter's defense of a core tenet had me somewhat confused. Did God really change His mind regarding the length of the Great Tribulation?

White devotes two minutes addressing what he acknowledges to be a minority pretrib view of the apostasy and even cites Feinberg's article which refutes it. Van Kampen and Rosenthal saw the apostasy as a Jewish rebellion at the beginning of Daniel's 70th week. The view also holds that the gathering of v 1 piggybacks with the Day of the Lord of v 2 as a synergistic unit, and that the Day of the Lord is the only period where God's wrath is expressed.

According to White, Paul is telling the Thessalonians that they can't have missed the rapture because two events need to occur first - the apostasy and the revelation of the Antichrist at the Abomination of Desolation. Contrary to White, Paul is specifically addressing the Day of the Lord in v 3, not the rapture. Though I disagree with Richard Mayhue, he has no difficulty holding to an end-of-week DotL view while defending pretribulationism (see also Mayhue's 1 & 2 Thessalonians).

Of the apostasy, F. F. Bruce wrote:

It is more probable from the context that a general abandonment of the basis of civil order is envisaged. This is not only a rebellion against the law of Moses: it is a large-scale revolt against public order, and since public order is maintained by the "governing authorities" who "have been instituted by God," any assault on it is an assault on a divine ordinance (Rom 13:1, 2). It is, in fact, the whole concept of divine authority over the world that is set at defiance in "the rebellion" par excellence. ~ Bruce (1 & 2 Thessalonians p 167, emphasis mine)

Bruce, Thomas, and Fee generally agree that the timing of the revelation of the Antichrist and The Apostasy (rebellion) are coincident. It is the cessation of the restraint of lawlessness which gives rise to the Man of Lawlessness. That the revelation of the Man of Sin occurs at the midpoint of the 70th week is not required of 2 Thess 2:4. It is an appositional phrase describing what he does. Even if the Restrainer were to be identified as Michael, it is doubtful that this restraint ceases at that point. It doesn't make much sense to say that "Michael will stand up (stop defending your people); the angel who defends your people" when the context of the verse is that they will be saved through that tribulation (Dan 12:1; Rev 12:7-8). Michael fights until Israel's redemption. See Eric Douma's discussion HERE

White draws on his assumption that Matt 24:31 is the rapture, connects it to 2 Thess 2:1 and then paraphrases Jesus and Paul. Interestingly, while proponents of his system assert that Paul is referencing Matt 24:31 in 2 Thess 2:1, they do not allow that his reference to birth pangs (1 Thess 5:3) is equal to Christ's (Matt 24:8). Either way, he asserts:

He [Paul] says that neither the falling away nor the Antichrist revealing himself in the temple had happened and so, therefore, the Rapture could not have happened yet either. Paul is essentially reminding them of the Bible study he gave them of the Olivet Discourse - or Matthew 24. He's about to remind them what events need to happen before the gathering together. This exact same phrase in English (gathering together) and Greek (episunago) are used by Jesus in Matthew 24 to refer to the rapture....

The word "episunago" is invoked to lend force to rapture language. However, it is also used of Israel's gathering. Paradoxically, Van Kampen (The Sign) and Cooper proposed a separate (unstated) visit by Christ to gather Israel in their multi-stage, single-Parousia model. Some proponents of the view are sufficiently aware of a distinction between Israel and the church, and the gathering passages found in the OT, to recognize a future gathering of Israel. But they need Matt 24:31 to be the rapture. Hence they devise a post-rapture gathering of Israel (and separate return of Christ):

"Christ will immediately come to earth and gather together all Israel for her salvation, (Rev. 10:7, 14:1; Rom. 11:25-27; Zech. 14:4); then Christ will split the Mount of Olives and send Israel to Azel for the duration of the bowl judgments, (Zech. 14:5); then Christ shall return to heaven while the bowl judgments fall upon the kingdom of Satan, (Rev. 14:14-16:21); then the final event called Armageddon will occur, (Rev. 19:11-21). The parousia of our great God and King will end with the beginning of the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth." (Emphases mine)

A problem for the view is 2 Thess 2:8, where the Man of sin is destroyed (Isaiah 11:4). It's clear from Revelation 19 when this occurs, so it is proposed that the Antichrist is only handcuffed at that point (v 8). This notion is challenged as he is still able to muster the world's armies for Armageddon. The persecution of the saints likely continues until then (Rev 13:5, 7). See also Dan 11:36. The view also has the bowl judgments occurring post 70th week, yet the Antichrist's kingdom still exists at the 5th bowl (Rev 16:10). This suggests that the Day of the Lord coincides with the 42 month reign of the Beast.

Robert L Thomas (Imminence in the NT) establishes that the Thessalonians thought the Day of the Lord was already present (2 Thess 2:2). This is key to Thomas' development of his argument. He writes:

The issue involved in his correction of the false information to which the readers had been exposed is not the future coming of the day of the Lord; it is rather the current presence or nonpresence of that day at the time he writes and they read his words.

Contra Cooper's rebuttal, F. F. Bruce writes that "is present" is the natural sense of ἐνέστηκεν and "cannot be seriously disputed" (1 & 2 Thessalonians p 165). Building on his argument, Thomas suggests that the grammatical construct of v 3 allows for two possibilities:

It can mean that the coming of the apostasy and the revelation of the man of lawlessness precede the day of the Lord, or it can mean that the coming of the apostasy precedes the revelation of the man of lawlessness, both being within the day of the Lord.

Obviously Thomas opts for the latter, and offers examples as support. He compares the apparent imminence of 1 Thess 5:2-3 to the contradiction that the Day of the Lord has precursors in 2 Thess 2, and concludes that the second option is likely correct. See also The Expositor's Bible Commentary Revised Edition (pages 363-485). In his view, Paul tells the Thessalonians that the DotL cannot be present because they don't see the apostasy or the Man of sin, which are components of that period.

Cooper accuses Thomas of missing the point and contradicting himself, rather than coming to Paul's rescue. Yet it is he who fails to properly address Paul's peace and safety remark in 1 Thess 5:2-3 (compare Matt 24:36-39). Moreover, his response contradicts his own system's view that unbelievers anticipate God's impending wrath at Rev 6:17. Cooper writes:

It is obvious that the coming of the day of the Lord will be thieflike for unbelievers. “Sudden destruction” is the prospect for the wicked in connection with that “day”. On the other hand, Paul states that believers who are alert and sober will not expect the day of the Lord to surprise them as would a thief’s sudden appearing. (Emphasis mine)

That would mean that unbelievers are taken by surprise - right? Even as a posttribulationist I was bothered by second coming passages depicting a return of Christ during a period of apparent normality. These contradict conditions one would expect post 2nd & 4th seal judgments & Matt 24:21-22. Insofar as interpreting Paul, I think Thomas is likely correct.

Dr. Cooper is right to appeal to Joel 2:31. However, there are issues in restricting the DotL to a narrow period. Paul's example was noted above. Another is Isaiah 2 where the context is a DotL (v 12) containing an event (vv 19 & 21) which parallels Rev 6:15. Yet his view has that event preceding the DotL. If there is a unique period called an unparalleled, worst time in history (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1; Joel 2:2; Matt 24:21) then what about the DotL? Some have protested that the unparalleled nature of Joel 2:2 refers to the armies only. But that would imply that the DotL (Joel 2:1) isn't unparalleled. The same Hebrew word (tsarah) is used for trouble in Zeph 1:14-15 and Dan 12:1, which suggests that God's wrath is coincident with tribulation (Rom 2:8-9). Ezekiel chap. 7 has a day of the Lord's wrath involving sword, famine and pestilence, evoking elements of the 4th seal.

Did Joel (in contrast to Paul) see the culmination of an extended Day of the Lord period which he labeled the great and terrible Day of the Lord? I wouldn't be dogmatic about it but perhaps Bullinger was right when he wrote of Joel 2: is called "the great and terrible day of the Lord," as though it were the climax of the whole period known as "the day of the Lord". ~ Commentary on Revelation

Whatever the case may be, short YouTube presentations of this nature do not do justice to the Thessalonians materials. Douma writes:

These verses provide no answer to the question of when the rapture occurs, they merely prove to the Thessalonians that they were not living in “the day of the Lord,” and therefore could not have missed the rapture.

Perhaps the final word should go to F. F. Bruce who notes (albeit in context of radical spiritualization):

In fact all we can learn about the sense in which they [the Thessalonians] thought the Day of the Lord to have come must be inferred from the counterarguments of vv 3-8, and the interpretation of the counterargument is so uncertain that the wise interpreter will recognize the limits placed here on his knowledge. ~ 1 & 2 Thessalonians (p 166)

Further reading:

Dispensationalism and the Rapture

The Day of the Lord: Theme and Pattern in Biblical Theology
(Subscription needed)

Is Apostasia in 2 Thess 2:3 a Reference to the Rapture?

Alan Cole on Joel 2-3

McAvoy on DotL Precursors

McAvoy on Posttrib Issues

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Taking Hagee To Task

Some hard hitting observations on John Hagee's Blood Moons theory and his erroneous views on Israel:

False Prophets

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Michael Vlach on The Trinity & Eschatology

Great article by Mike Vlach:

Just as the members of the Trinity were actively involved in the creation, so too they are actively engaged in matters pertaining to the end, or what is often referred to as eschatology. The purpose of this article is to highlight how the various members of the Trinity are active in events still to come...keep reading

P.S. Keep an eye out for Mike Vlach's forthcoming book on the Kingdom. It is scheduled to be published in 2014.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Noah Movie - Gnostic Roots?


In Darren Aronofsky’s new star-gilt silver screen epic, Noah, Adam and Eve are luminescent and fleshless, right up until the moment they eat the forbidden fruit.

Such a notion isn’t found in the Bible, of course. This, among the multitude of Aronofsky’s other imaginative details like giant Lava Monsters, has caused many a reviewer’s head to be scratched. Conservative-minded evangelicals write off the film because of the “liberties” taken with the text of Genesis, while a more liberal-minded group stands in favor of cutting the director some slack. After all, we shouldn’t expect a professed atheist to have the same ideas of “respecting” sacred texts the way a Bible-believer would.

Both groups have missed the mark entirely. Aronofsky hasn’t “taken liberties” with anything.

The Bible is not his text.

Read the rest HERE