Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Book Review: The Real Anthony Fauci (the Cripplegate)

The past two years have not lacked sorrow and tragedy. Tragically, many have lost their lives during the covid-19 pandemic. In addition to sorrow, confusion has not lacked. In such times, the church’s priority, as always, is to preach Christ, shepherd God’s people, practice the one another’s, and make disciples. Further, it behooves God’s people in the confusion to attempt to ascertain truth as much as possible...keep reading

Monday, December 13, 2021

It's not cool to be a Dispensationalist

I've linked to this before and it never gets old for me. Dan Phillips...

It's just not "cool" to be dispensationalist, anymore.

The system had particular prominence in the seventies and beyond, which excited a lot of envy and resentment among the non's ("Hey, what about us?"). So they produced a lot of sourpuss, wanna-be literature, trying to take back every area that dispensational writers had held.

They haven't fully succeeded. This really irritates them, because many of them still think that dispensationalists are unsophisticated knuckle-draggers at best, or heretics at worst. It's like listening to evolutionists talk about the Great Unwashed, who they see as too stupid to agree with them, still boneheadedly clinging to inane creationistic notions. They alternate between sniffing in disdain, and wondering why their outreaches fail to penetrate their foes' Stygian darkness...keep reading

See also When Eschatology becomes Annoying 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Covenant Program in Biblical Covenantalism

See also HERE 

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

This is a re-post. I still see people asserting that God's wrath does not begin until after the 6th seal. They continue to assert that the 5th seal martyrs are one proof of this. But I don't see where they properly respond to arguments set forth by Showers and Fruchtenbaum. Some of the links may be broken.

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

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

How Many Second Comings Are There?

Pretribbers are often said to hold to more than one future coming of Christ. There is some irony to this accusation - a topic I've written about before. Anyway, interesting thoughts by Jim McClarty

Monday, November 22, 2021

The Words of the Covenant - Book Review

My review of Dr. Paul Henebury's book - The Words of the Covenant: A Biblical Theology (Volume 1 – Old Testament Expectation) - can be read HERE  You can read more from the author at his blog HERE 

There's a lot of work in reading the book and doing it justice. It's well written and not too academic, but there's a lot to digest. My hope is that it attracts more interest because it is an important contribution to biblical theology. And note that this is Volume One. Volume Two (New Testament) is forthcoming.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Most Men Cave . . . Jesus Didn’t

Jon Harris on a warning from a secular source...

Jon talks about the book “Ordinary Men,” which illustrates the fact that most people do the wrong thing when forced. He then relates it to the current situation and encourages people to know their convictions and stand with others who have proven themselves already.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Thoughts on Socialism and the Bible

Socialism is becoming popular in the United States, especially among the younger generations. One poll noted that 61% of those between the ages of 18 and 24 thought positively of socialism. Another poll said that 43% of Americans thought some form of socialism would be a good thing for the United States. The popularity of socialism in the United States is due in part to the political popularity of politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but it also seems that many young people embrace socialism without really understanding what socialism is...keep reading 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

David Guzik on Pretribulationism

I've always regarded Guzik as a clear thinker.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Interpreting the End Times

Follow Dr. Henebury's series on the Telos Ministries YouTube Channel. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Christianity or Critical Theory?

From TableTalk,

Throughout history, the church has found itself at the crossroads of the sacred and the secular, where competing voices would lead us in different directions. The recent surge of interest in varying aspects of critical theory has forced many church leaders and members to make active decisions as to how, or to what extent, to engage with these issues. The purpose of this article is to interact with critical theory from a Reformed, Christian perspective, particularly wrestling with the question of whether the two systems are compatible. This will be done in five steps. First, the importance of the subject will be addressed. Second, an overview of the origin and history of critical theory will be given. Third, the worldview of critical theory will be examined. Fourth, a critique of critical theory from a biblical and theological point of view will be offered. Finally, some practical ways the church can engage the issues critical theory has raised from an unapologetically Christian point of view will be proposed...keep reading

Friday, October 8, 2021

Bifurcating the Parousia

This one is a repost. See also HERE. Essentially, if "apokalupsis" indicates One Future Parousia of Christ, how does the prewrath view explain its multi-phase system? And why could it not then be allowed in a pretrib "dual-phase" future coming of Christ? 

During a fairly recent protracted (often frustrating) exchange on Facebook someone commented that pretribbers "bifurcate the singular future Parousia of Christ into two events," among other grievances. It came from a proponent of the prewrath rapture view.

Years ago I met a zealous blogger (O) who was proficient at reciting what I call the Prewrath Catechism. This person's testimony attributed their conversion to Rosenthal's book, and a pastor. O recommended Van Kampen's The Rapture Question Answered & The Sign, and also challenged the pretrib "two-stage" coming of Christ.

I responded that if the Great Multitude was the raptured church worshiping Christ in heaven, then O's system also has a dual-phase aspect. O countered that Christ remained in the atmosphere above earth. This response wasn't exactly a Plain & Simple or Face-Value understanding of Rev Chapter 7. Perhaps Rosenthal's vagueness regarding the Parousia wasn't helpful. He wrote that: "Not once does the Bible speak of two comings..." O was just going by his book.

To this day I see two-stage charges from this camp. I've cited examples in previous posts. Here's one example from a Van Kampen dedicated site:
...pretribulationism sees two separate parousias (comings) of Christ, one when He comes "for His Church" and the second, when He comes "with His Church," a grammatical position with not one verse of substantiation or explanation...
"Before God's Wrath" author Heidi L. Nigro also took issue with pretrib's "two-stage" HERE. This was her novel response to Renald Showers' prewrath-multiple-comings critique:
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)
Prewrathers look to Matt 24:30 as Christ's coming with a "continuous presence." Like Classic Premil Posttribulationists, they want to affirm a Single Future Coming of Christ. Their problem is the "shortened great tribulation" (Matt 24:22) and how it ties in with the rapture, Rev 7 and Rev 19. They must keep Matt 24:30-31 and Rev 19:11 somehow distinct - but still united - where the latter isn't the beginning of Christ's coming, yet an integral part of it. Got all that?

The system also allows for Christ's return to heaven and then two or three more comings to earth, depending on how you interpret Van Kampen's The Sign. Some of these comings are secret in the sense that they're not located in any texts. They are deduced. See Charles Cooper's rather paradoxical Parousia article.

According to Renald Showers' prewrath analysis citing The Sign, there are four future second coming events (page 83 of Showers' book):

1) The rapture between the 6th & 7th seals, then Christ returns to heaven
2) After the end of the 70th Week to save-gather Israel, then back to heaven
3) After the 7th bowl judgment to defeat Antichrist, then back to heaven to deliver the kingdom to God
4) Then Christ returns permanently to rule the earth

Is this a single continuous presence, or actually four separate parousias? If we apply the same criteria PW insists for pretrib, then it must be the latter! Is it a Greek grammar issue, or something else? No wonder many proponents are in denial when initially confronted with this data (at least in my experience). It isn't in the charts, and neither is it clearly articulated in the books. They inevitably default to the Christ-is-continually-present position.

Eric Douma rightly said that: "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."

There must be some sort of cognitive dissonance at work when you militantly criticize another position's "two-stage" second coming, yet hold to several event comings and goings under the innovative banner of a Continuous Parousia. For instance, see This Example. PW proponents need to take a close hard look at their own systems before using phrases such as "false pretrib dichotomy" in context to the difference between the rapture and Second Advent.

Note that the idea of an extended-parousia-program isn't allowed for the pretrib model. Not even theoretically. There aren't any grounds for this stance other than the desire to tenaciously hold onto as many criticisms of pretrib as possible. While these people entertain one or two coming events of Christ not mentioned in Scripture, they cannot allow an extended coming by Christ for His church before Matt 24:31.

This is echo-chamber mentality. It convinces no one except those who have bought into the PW view.

Dr Reluctant - The Rapture

Darrel Cline's lengthy review of The Rapture Question Answered

(I disagree with Cline's position on the 1st seal)

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Q & A with Lawson, Nichols, and Parsons

Issues facing the Church today etc.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Interview with Dr. Thomas Ice

Interview with Dr. Thomas Ice. Dr. Michael Stallard and Dr. Thomas Ice work through various eschatological issues. Click Here

Thursday, September 9, 2021

On Greear, Keller and Harvard's "Chaplain"

So Harvard elected an atheist "chaplain." Wretched's Todd Friel says this is an oxymoron. You bet it is. That didn't stop Tim Keller from congratulating the new chaplain. 

I wrote my two cents worth HERE.

I always appreciate Jon Harris' thoughts on certain matters. Here is his take on it...

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Remember the End of the Story

Thought this sermon (below) was very timely. 

See also Be Patient for the Coming of the Lord is at Hand.


Friday, September 3, 2021

Dr. Paul Henebury's New Book

Love this humility. Fact is that I've profited much from paying him attention...

One of my least favorite things in the whole world is self-publicity. I don’t like it and I’m sure it’s unscriptural. The sin of calling attention to oneself is often exacerbated when one is promoting a ministry or a book. I have a book out soon. It’s not the work the world has been breathlessly waiting for, but it’s the best I can do. I hope I have written a sound, edifying, educational book which repays its purchase price. I think it does but my judgment is not to be wholly trusted on this matter...keep reading

Friday, August 27, 2021

Thursday, August 19, 2021

The Hermeneutics of George E Ladd

The following is an older article by Mike Vlach on Ladd's hermenutics. 

As I continue my discussion on Historic Premillennialism (HP), I want to focus my thoughts on the hermeneutics of HP’s #1 defender in the 20th century—George Ladd. Specifically, I want to address Ladd’s views on how the New Testament (NT) uses the Old Testament (OT). Since Ladd is often looked to as a primary leader of HP, his views on hermeneutics should be examined to help us understand HP or at least modern expressions of HP...keep reading

Long Addendum:

Someone left a comment taking issue as to whether Ladd was really Classic Historic Premil (HP). They referred me to an article on Lynda's blog HERE

Over the years I've noted that many futuristic premil posttribulationists identify as HP or Classic HP. Some of them have been from the prewrath camp (PW). One case in point is the Orange Mailman who challenged Mike Vlach's position on Ladd. See HERE and do a search on Mike's blog

I assume identifying as HP may be a rapture timing thing; an appeal to historic legitimacy - dispensationalism and the pretrib rapture being "new ideas." Ladd's "The Blessed Hope" has been recommended reading within the posttrib and prewrath community. Yet George Ladd differed in various ways to current futuristic premil thinking, aside from his hermeneutics and views on Israel. 

But, in fact, Craig Blomberg (HP) regarded Ladd as a scholar who overshadowed the rest. I disagree with Blomberg's views on Israel and dispensationalism (and his use of NT over the OT) and addressed some of this HERE. Sadly a few links no longer work. This is what I noted at the time,

Dr Blomberg chides outright replacement theology by pointing to sufficient OT evidence indicating that national Israel has some future in the Millennium. He even points out that RT has led to anti-Semitism. This is an important admission which I’ll explore in a later post. He affirms that George Ladd is a scholar who overshadows the rest and, like Dr Ladd, he fails to see a necessity for either a Temple, or national Israel in Palestine prior to the Millennium. He punctuates that point several times.

The question arises - what defines Historic Premillennialism or Classic Historic Premil? 

In my understanding many CHPs (the Bonars, Spurgeon etc) were at least partial historicists. They were informed by their Covenant Theology and this affected their hermeneutics. For more on CT and its hermeneutics see the book "Forsaking Israel."

From some of Spurgeon's comments it's evident he viewed the church as Spiritual Israel even though he saw a future redemption of ethnic Israel. These older HPs regularly applied OT texts addressing Israel, to the church. Was this for the sake of sermon lessons or did they see Israel as the OT church? Did they see the Jews one day becoming a part of True Spiritual Israel (the Church including saved Gentiles)? I suspect so. 

In conclusion, that George E. Ladd was HP is unavoidable in my opinion. I also wonder what he thought preparation for death, martyrdom, Antichrist etc actually looked like, aside from his opposition to pretribulationism.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Current Issues in Soteriology

The International Society for Biblical Hermeneutics (ISBH) has produced a book called Current Issues in Soteriology. It is also available for free in different formats. Get it on PDF HERE.

The dispensational writers take a contra non Lordship Salvation position. I repeat here what I've said before; the controversy and the arguments on both sides are somewhat above my pay grade. Even so, I've spent enough time on this issue to have reservations about some of what has been said against LS (and its defenders) at times. I've previously touched upon the subject HERE.

To be fair I've only spent a couple of hours or so going through this particular Soteriology document, looking at specific issues. Perhaps in the future (if I get the time and find the inclination) I'll make some further comments below this post. 


This conclusion at the end of one of the essays worried me,

This paper has sought to follow the literal, grammatical, historical method of interpretation of John’s Gospel with respect to the condition of belief in Jesus Christ for eternal life. When key salvation verses in the book are interpreted contextually, coupled with a correct understanding of Greek grammar, the conclusion is clear that the requirement for everlasting life is a single moment of faith in Jesus Christ rather than continual belief

This conclusion leads to two important spiritual applications. First, this conclusion leads to greater personal assurance of one’s salvation. Rather than assurance waiting until one has faithfully persevered to the end of life, assurance may be possessed immediately at the moment of initial faith. Second, our evangelistic message is affected in the sense that the condition of eternal salvation will simply be faith in Christ, rather than faithfulness to Christ. As a result, the focus of our message will be on the proper object of faith, Jesus Christ and His finished work, rather than a person’s subjective faithfulness and perseverance. (Emphasis mine)

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 1 John 2:19 (see also 1 John 3:7-9, 2 Pet 1:10, Heb 3:12)

I could find nowhere in the document where these verses (and others) were addressed or discussed. Do all the contributors hold to this position? I hope not.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

New Ryrie Library

There's a new online Charles Ryrie resource website...Click Here

Friday, August 13, 2021

Tribulation Beginnings - Daniel's 70 Weeks

A study by Stan Feldsine. 

Daniel understood that Judah's captivity was decreed to last 70 years. God had commanded Israel to give their land a Sabbath, meaning that every 7th year, the land was to lie fallow...keep reading

Friday, July 23, 2021

Thursday, July 22, 2021

After the Tribulation the Great Multitude?

A while ago I expressed some thoughts about the Great Multitude (GM) and the 144,000 of Revelation. In one of these I noted how Covenant Theology tries to morph these groups together when they are plainly distinct. But it drew attention because I questioned the view of how the GM arrives in heaven. I didn't write with the intention of being divisive. Part of my article received attention in a non-pretrib prophecy group, though it wasn't linked to. 

I asked how the (allegedly raptured) GM could be said to be coming out of the Great Tribulation (GT) if the "rapture" at Matt 24:31 occurs after the tribulation and after the cosmic signs etc. Am I being woodenly literal? Predictably, part of the response involved arguing that, because the GM was in the GT at one point, it can somehow be said to have come out of problem. 

I noted that some scholars (e.g., Robertson) consider the grammar to be indicating continuous action. In The Sign, Van Kampen stated that even Robert L Thomas supported a completed action. Van Kampen was wrong about Thomas and for various reasons I don't consider him to have been a careful researcher.  

I'm no Greek geek but, interestingly, the ESV translates it this way:

I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Rev 7:14 

Responses often resort to "context." If context involves asserting the GM must have arrived in a completed action on the assumption of the correctness of a rapture timing view, it ceases to be that. A case in point is sliding the resurrection event of Rev 20:4 back into Rev 7 because it fits the expectation that the GM is the raptured church along with resurrected saints (including GT martyrs). This conveniently places a resurrection in Rev 7 where it isn't mentioned. 

Speaking of the latter, can all resurrected saints be said to have come out of the GT? 

Remember that they (Rev 20:4) are resurrected after the tribulation. Matt 24:31 does not cut the tribulation short. The elder doesn't tell John that some of the GM comes out of the GT. You'd have to divide the group into two sections, which John doesn't do. The resurrection event preceding the rapture (should) include saints from church history who never experience the GT. Think about the order of magnitude. 

I remain unconvinced of this view.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Thoughts on George Ladd's HP & the 144,000

A re-post.
Years ago George Ladd often came up in discussions about rapture timing. His book, The Blessed Hope, has been popular in posttrib-prewrath circles. Like Spurgeon, he was historic premil. If you didn't want to be burdened with dispensational baggage (pretrib rapture etc); you could call yourself historic premil (just like Ladd). Later on, some shifted to progressive dispensationalism for similar reasons.

Ladd also held to Covenant Theology, blurred the distinctions between Israel and the church, and allegorized and re-interpreted the Old Testament based on the New Testament. This was the subject of debate in 2011. See a previous article HERE. And more recently HERE.

I've seen comments that pretribbers hold to the idea that the 144,000 (Rev 7) are evangelists because of alleged pretrib problems associated with the Great Multitude. Many if not most posttribulationists today deny that their role is evangelism. This wasn't always the case.

In fact in The Blessed Hope (p 45), Ladd cites posttribulationist Nathaniel West who believed the 144,000 to be the “Israelitish Church.” He taught that this group is the fulfillment of the promises of Romans 11 – the salvation of literal Israel. Accordingly, their salvation occurs at the start of the 70th week as a result of the missionary work of the Two Witnesses. They are sealed so that they can take the place of the [predominantly Gentile] church!

So this isn't an original pretrib idea crafted out of necessity. In this view the Great Multitude is the church which suffers "near extinction at the hands of the Antichrist in the Great Tribulation." Ladd and West did not view the multitude of Revelation 7 as the raptured church.

Yet (confusingly) Ladd also took the view that the 144,000 are a symbolic expression of the church:
These twelve tribes cannot be literal Israel, because they are not the twelve tribes of OT Israel. The list here appears nowhere else in the Bible. It has three irregularities: it names Judah first, thus ignoring the OT order of the tribes; it omits Dan with no explanation (see Eze. 48:1); it mentions Joseph instead of Ephraim. Perhaps John meant by this irregular listing of the twelve tribes to designate the Israel that is not the literal Israel. . . . The twelve tribes were irregularly listed to show that true Israel is not literal Israel, but the Church. (Cited in Tony Garland's A Testimony of Jesus Christ. Note Garland's response)
For more on Ladd's position re Israel and re-interpretation of the OT see Mike Vlach's blog. Dr. Vlach also addresses some of The Orange Mailman's objections re criticisms of Ladd.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

We'll Convert Your Children

Time to wake up...

Saturday, July 3, 2021

What The Ed Litton Scandal Can Teach Christian Bloggers

Thought this was pretty good. It hits close to home.

You don’t have to belong to the Southern Baptist Convention to have heard that its newly elected president, Ed Litton, preached a sermon almost word for word that outgoing SBC president J.D, Greear had previously preached. A simple Google search will verify this fact. Justin Peters put out a video showing both sermons, which you can view here. And this scandal most assuredly needs much discussion, especially because (in the words of the more liberal element of the SBC) the world is watching...keep reading

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Eclectic Interpretation of Revelation?

A re-post...

I try to read people I disagree with. It pays to try to understand what they say, and you can learn a lot. Often they constructively inform you.

Recently I came across Brian Tabb's new book "All Things New - Revelation as Canonical Capstone." It isn't a verse by verse commentary on Revelation. Rather it is divided into five parts and subsections addressing different aspects of Revelation. For example, there's a section on The Triune God. The chapters may be read on their own rather than sequentially.

Tabb takes an Eclectic view. He's gracious where he disagrees with the Futurist view and in many areas quite insightful. I like that he cites Thomas and MacArthur rather than popular prophecy teachers. However, citations of these two are minimal compared to Beale, Bauckham etc. I haven't finished reading the book and this isn't a review. But I'm far enough into it to note that he can be as frustrating as informative.

Two examples...

Covenant Theologians aren't fond of the term "Replacement Theology" yet on page 107, Tabb writes that: "Revelation 3:9 presents further evidence that the church is true Israel." Elsewhere he (in my opinion) makes a huge deductive (eclectic?) leap by suggesting that the Ezekiel Temple and the New Jerusalem Temple are the same thing expressed in different ways.

Michael Gorman (Reading Revelation Responsibly) wrote that one should look at the Big Picture when reading Revelation. Yet I can't help thinking that, what too often happens, is a re-painting of what the original painter of the picture intended. The "big picture ending" may be the same, but the preceding details are important. These "systems of interpretation" end up being useful ways of avoiding what the texts do say - especially regarding national Israel.

Perhaps I'm being sophomoric (once again) but the eclectic view seems overly messy and fluid.

Anyway, Tony Garland's article "Systems of Interpretation" is most helpful to me.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

New Book by Mike Vlach

I am excited to announce the release of my new book, The Old in the New: Understanding How the New Testament Authors Quoted the Old Testament. The book is published by Kress Biblical Resources with an imprint from The Master’s Seminary. I have been working on this book since 2011. It was formed through years of teaching a Th.M. seminar at The Master’s Seminary called, “New Testament Use of the Old Testament.”...keep reading

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Owen Strachan Wokeness and the Gospel

 Important presentation

Friday, June 11, 2021

Monday, May 31, 2021

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Replacement Theology misnomer?

A re-post from last year. 
A well-known Reformed apologist - whose work I respect in a few areas - recently declared on social media:
Replacement Theology is, of course, a complete misnomer. Fulfillment Theology, Consistency Theology, lots of ways to express what Paul taught: Christians are the "true circumcision who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh."
In fact, despite the protests, many Reformed (Covenant Theology) amil-postmil people over the years have owned the term "Replacement Theology." More recently, some don't like the RT tag and prefer to use "Fulfillment Theology." Does it really help them?

Dr. Paul Henebury has addressed a lot of the RT issues HERE

Dr. Michael Vlach on Various Forms of Replacement Theology See also An Analysis of Neo-Replacement Theology

Monday, May 10, 2021

The 144,000 of Revelation 7

Right off the bat let me say that this post isn't about making an iron-clad argument that the 144,000 of Revelation 7 are Jewish Evangelists. I also wrote on the identity of the 144,000 HERE

Someone posted an article in a Facebook group assuming that the 144,000 were evangelists. I thought, "Here we go." Sure enough, the Rapture Cop knocked on the door. These trolling folk are the prophecy world's equivalent to pro-maskers who diligently patrol streets correcting non-compliance. No pretrib comment or post is safe. They never let up.  

Apparently there's as much scriptural evidence that the 144,000 sell hamburgers as they are Jewish evangelists and anyone who believes the great tribulation witnesses the "greatest revival" needs to "check his brain at the door." Identifying this group as evangelists is a "made-up scenario" to justify the "bankrupt eschatological model of pretribulationism." 

In my experience, this type of rhetoric is commonplace. Perhaps some ought to check their condescension at the door (especially if they are pastors).

In fact of the 144,000, Marv Rosenthal once wrote: “It is almost like a baton being passed between runners. The 144,000 must be sealed for protection to go through the Day of the Lord before the church can be caught up to the throne in heaven. God will not leave Himself without a people on the earth.” (Page 185 of his book)

This raises some questions for me.

Does passing the "baton" imply a similar function to the church? When are the 144,000 saved? If they're saved while the church is on earth, why not raptured? What are they sealed for - safety? If that's the case, why doesn't God seal the church as well? The church is exempt from God's wrath? What about God's people, the 144,000? What did Rosenthal mean when he said God must have a people on earth? Why can't God work simultaneously with both groups, as some prewrathers ask of pretrib dispies? And what do God's people do? There will be various responses to these questions, but little room for dogmatic pejoratives.

Finally, George Ladd is popular among posttribbers and prewrathers. Ladd cites Nathaniel West regarding the 144,000. See page 45 of "The Blessed Hope." 

...West had no patience with pretribulationism [so what's new?]. He taught that the 144,000 who are sealed in Revelation 7 are the fulfillment of the promise in Romans 11 - the salvation of literal Israel. Their salvation will occur at the beginning of the seventieth week as a result of the two witnesses (Rev 11), and they are sealed that they might take the place of the Church which is seen in the great multitude in Revelation 7 - a multitude which is to suffer near extinction at the hands of Antichrist in the Great Tribulation... "They [the 144,000] are the Israelitish Church of the future." ~ George Ladd. 

I wonder if an "Israelitish Church" ever witnesses. 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Christiana Hale: Deeper Heaven Interview

What is "Deeper Heaven"? I reviewed it HERE


Sunday, April 18, 2021

God's Sovereignty, the Antichrist etc

Marvin Rosenthal noted in his seminal book,

“To attribute the emergence of the Antichrist to God is obviously preposterous. It is to have a divided house – to have God opposing himself - and a house divided cannot stand.” (Page 142)

In fact God is sovereign and uses all means to achieve His purposes - even Satan and the Antichrist. Paul tells us that God will use the lawless one to judge unbelievers (2 Thess 2:8-12). Calling the Great Tribulation Antichrist's Tribulation is a misnomer.

For a Reformed high view of God's sovereignty in His use of Satan and the nations, see Terry L. Johnson's The Identity and Attributes of God:
The apostle Paul refers to Satan as the ‘god of this world’ who blinds ‘the minds of unbelievers’ (2 Cor. 4:4). Yet elsewhere he attributes this blinding activity to God, saying, ‘Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false’ (2 Thess. 2:11); see also Matt 13:14-15) [compare with Luke 8:10]. ~ (pp 126-127)
Another objection constantly raised is that of the 5th seal martyrs. How can God's wrath be present in the 5th seal if believers are said to be spared God's wrath? And if God's wrath is present why are the martyrs asking for vengeance?

The seal reveals the martyrs; it isn't the cause. There have always been martyrs. We see martyrdom occurring today. The judgement on the world occurring during the 5th seal is in a different category to the final destruction of the perpetrators promised at the end of the 70th week of Daniel (Rev 6:11; 19:20-21; 20:4).

An illustration of this would be a King who sends an army into a rebellious city in order to regain control. The King's wrath is present in the army's actions. If the rebels were to kill those who become faithful to the King in that city, the King's vengeance on that specific crime would be in a different category to the original intent of his army.

Renald Showers covered the above in "Maranatha: Our Lord, Come." It isn't as if these alleged problems have been ignored. I further discuss it HERE

It doesn't matter how often these objections are answered in Social Media forums, the same ones get regurgitated with monotonous regularity. Some people are determined to hold to a position while correcting everyone else. It isn't a simple difference of opinion; they exhibit a zealousness which puts network marketers to shame. I'm sometimes accused of using eisegesis when non-pretrib folk disagree with me - a tactic long past its use-by-date. What is taken to be biblical exegesis on their part is often an importation of assumptions to a set of texts. The Parousia issue is a case in point.

One more thing. Someone wrote:

While there are similarities with Ezekiel 5:5-17, Ezekiel 7:14-15 and Ezekiel 14:21, the context of these passages is not eschatological, i.e. these OT passages refer to the desolation of Jerusalem/Israel, not to the 70th week of Daniel.

This is a basic regurgitation of an old superficial response to Renald Showers. The fact is that every element found in the 4th seal is called God's wrath in the OT, including the Day of the Lord (Ezek 7:19). Asserting that "there are similarities" and that the "context" in the OT was Jerusalem is just a way of  avoiding the obvious. If God uses OT wrath language in the seals, then the only reason one will argue that it isn't wrath in an "eschatological" sense is if it doesn't suit one's rapture assumption. If you're looking for context in deciding whether elthen (Rev 6:17) is forward or backward looking, it's there in the 4th seal. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Friday, April 9, 2021

Paul Maxwell Leaves Christianity


Prewrath "Onslaught"

It's no secret in prophecy circles that Dr. Andy Woods has been addressing the prewrath rapture as part of a series on the different views of its timing. He's dispensational and pretribulational so he's going to critique the other views while showing why he believes pretrib is correct. 

When some of us found out that he was preparing to critique prewrath, we predicted that certain things would happen, and certain things would be said in response. Already one person labeled Woods' prewrath series an "onslaught." 

What irony! 

Anyone who's ever read Rosenthal and Van Kampen objectively ought to acknowledge that their books didn't just present a new view of the timing of the rapture - they attacked pretribulationism. Rosenthal went so far as to call it a satanic deception. Jacob Prasch (Inter-Intra Seal Prewrath) recently reiterated the "satanic deception" charge in a YouTube video. 

It wasn't that long ago that the four plus hour "Left Behind or Led Astray?" documentary was released. When the inevitable responses came, at least two of the people involved got offended - seriously! More recently we've seen a documentary alleging seven problems for pretrib. See also HERE (I don't agree with everything). 

Prewrathers should give this some thought before grabbing the tissues. That's all I want to say for now. Once Dr. Woods' series is completed I'll find time to add my two cents' worth.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Advice for Christians in the Coming Decade? Doug Wilson

Forget about the postmil comments at the end of this video. Wilson has some good thoughts here...

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Walter Strickland's Gospel

Jon Harris' astute videos on the "woke" cancer which is spreading throughout churches have been helpful. I recommend his YouTube Channel. All Christians ought to be aware of what's going on. See also Is the Bible Project Woke?

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Deeper Heaven by Christiana Hale

I recently finished a book about the "Ransom Trilogy" - commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis' "Space Trilogy." If you've read the Trilogy and liked it, and you're interested, you can buy the book from Roman Roads Media. I reviewed it HERE

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Paint the Wall Black: The Story of Nini's Deli

Some important lessons here...

Friday, March 5, 2021

C.S. Lewis Panel Discussion

If you like C. S. Lewis you might enjoy the following panel discussion. 

How to be a Modern Progressive - Keith Mathison

I thought this article by Mathison nailed it well,

Step One: Insist that there is no such thing as the truth. Insist that there is only your truth and my truth and that both truths are equally valid. Insist that people who believe in absolute truth do so only in order to oppress others. Insist that my previous insistence is absolutely true. Ignore the irony. Attempt to get my government to make my truth the law and to force it on those who have a different truth because my truth is the truth. Ignore the contradiction with my first premise. Remind myself that logic is a tool of oppression...keep reading

Incidentally, Mathison is that posmillennialist who wrote the book. I certainly agree with his last paragraph in this article. Anecdotally speaking, I suspect postmil is gaining popularity - see HERE. If you like Tolkien (literature, music and assorted subjects), you might enjoy reading his blog. I especially liked his thoughts on Tom Bombadil.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Digging into the book of Daniel - Interview

Interview with Tony Garland on his upcoming commentary on Daniel etc

Thursday, February 18, 2021

John MacArthur's Lavish Lifestyle etc

No, this isn't a hit piece. 

There are people who I respect who have also disappointed me when it comes to unfairly trashing John MacArthur. This often comes from the dispensationalist camp: i.e., the Lordship Salvation issue. I probably should leave this alone but want to revisit it later. Let me affirm here, again, that no man should be placed on a pedestal. Recent events highlighting fallen Christian leaders ought to attest to that. All the men I've profited from, and mention on my blog, are fallible. We all are. We'll all have to give an account one day.  

The video below is a response to people like Julie Roys and Servus Christi who clearly (at least from my observations) have had standing vendettas against MacArthur. I've mentioned Servus Christi (Josh Chavez) before. His ministry is of the self-exulting attack kind. As for Roys, it's fair to say that she has exposed improprieties and cover-ups over the years. However she seems to be becoming a person who digs for scandals. And John MacArthur is in her sights. Shame on anyone who thoughtlessly distributes her J Mac polemics. 

PS: A UK blogger (Treena Gisborn) has a link to Roys being interviewed HERE. Someone I know linked to it on Social media. I've become familiar with Gisborn over the years. Note the title of her blog. Like Roys she's set herself up as a guardian of truth, especially eschatology. Gisborn's blog is another example of a crash and burn "discernment ministry." 

Monday, February 8, 2021

Millennial Chatter

There has been some eschatological chatter on Twitter since John MacArthur dropped a zinger re posmillennialism during an otherwise great sermon. You can read my thoughts HERE

Since then there have been the odd tweets in support of amil and postmil. I prefer not to debate eschatology on Twitter. I like most of the folk I disagree with on eschatology and get a lot from them in other areas. I'm used to seeing generalizations and pejoratives flung at premillennialism and dispensationalism. But it turns out my amil/postmil friends can get pretty defensive. 

One comment I've seen more than once is this...

"The positions are all named in reference to the Millennium which is only mentioned one time in the Bible. Revelation 20...It's ironic because it's a notoriously difficult passage in a difficult chapter in a difficult book."

Personally, I don't find the passage notoriously difficult. But then I'm not trying to force it to say something different to what it appears to mean. I also don't get how frequency relates to anything being biblically correct. How many times is the Covenant of Grace mentioned - only once or...? Or the Trinity for that matter. Now there's irony if you like! Then you get the odd dismissive (and irritating) lecture about genres and types, whatever: as if premillennialists get their eschatology from the Left Behind novels or Hal Lindsey books and don't know any better. 

So this is another excuse for me to post some helpful links:

The Parameters of Meaning

Contra the 95 Theses

25 Stupid Reasons for Dissing Dispensationalism

Apocalyptic or Prophetic Genre?

The Surprising Good News of the Fear of the Lord

A conversation with Mike Pilavachi & Michael Reeves

Fear is one of the strongest human emotions and one that often baffles Christians. In the Bible the picture can seem equally confusing: Is fear a good thing or a bad thing? And what does it mean to “fear the Lord”? In Rejoice and Tremble, Michael Reeves clears the clouds of confusion and shows that the fear of the Lord is not a negative thing at all, but an intensely delighted wondering at God, our Creator and here

BTW, I'm currently reading Michael Reeves' book "Rejoice and Tremble" and recommend it. Reeves has often been helpful to me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Unseen Realm - Review by Gary Gilley

You can read my clumsy review of Michael Heiser's book The Unseen Realm HERE. I've read other critiques by people I respect but am disappointed at their general approval. Some have noted a few problems here and there, yet suggest we chew the meat and spit out the bones. No thanks. Other fans of Heiser claim orthodox folk are frightened of his Divine Council ideas. Not me. Though I remain unconvinced, my real problems with it lie elsewhere. See my review.

Gary Gilley's indepth critique of The Unseen Realm highlights some of these issues. In fact he connected some dots for me regarding Heiser's view of Gen 3:15; 22:14 etc. And more...  

Michael Heiser’s view of Scripture and the supernatural realm has generated much attention within evangelical circles recently. His concepts have generated a wave of speculation that some are now riding. What does he teach and how concerned should the discerning Christian be? This critique will provide some answers...keep reading Gilley's review

Saturday, January 23, 2021

40 Questions About Biblical Theology - Review by Dr. Reluctant

 Paul Henebury (Dr. Reluctant) reviews the book "40 Questions about Biblical Theology." I like the way he begins:

How does one review a well-written and well researched book on Biblical Studies that one disagrees with almost entirely? That is the position I find myself in with this book...keep reading

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Revisiting "That Hideous Strength"

If you want to catch a glimpse of how evil can capture and shape the human heart, go read C. S. Lewis' book "That Hideous Strength." It is the last installment of what is commonly referred to as "Lewis' Space Trilogy." Doug Wilson calls it "The Ransom Trilogy." Since THS takes place on earth and each of the three books (albeit less so the last) figure Elwin Ransom as a main protagonist, I agree with Wilson.

I've always enjoyed the first two books of the trilogy: "Out of the Silent Planet" and "Perelandra", even though Lewis can be difficult to read and follow in areas. This is partly because he includes materials which some nonacademic readers (like me) may not be familiar with. 

My first attempt at reading an abridged version of THS was a failure. I tried, skimmed it and went to the back of the book to read the ending. I returned to it after I'd matured somewhat. On the second attempt I enjoyed it enough that I bought an unabridged copy. Since then my interest in it has grown. THS gives us stark examples of what can happen to people when they abandon God and give themselves over to evil. 

The organization "The National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments" has been taken over by the demonic. It is not above bullying, lying, social and personal manipulations, and murder. The NICE seeks to destroy society and re-shape it to conform to its "own" values. Its values are, in fact, shaped by the devil.

My two most memorably evil characters are the Deputy Director John Wither and the "Police-woman" Fairy Hardcastle. But there are many other examples.  As I look around me, I see Withers and Hardcastles everywhere. The NICE is with us today. It is everywhere. 

Some links:

That Hideous Strength - Today

Wilson on That Hideous Strength

Other lectures by Wilson on Lewis' works

The Devils in Our World

Deeper Heaven: A Readers Guide to C. S. Lewis's Ransom Trilogy

Friday, January 15, 2021

The Gods of Civil Unrest... Doug Wilson

Wilson's article is a long one. One might be tempted to skip it. But he makes some important points worth considering.
I suppose I need to say, right at the outset, that this blog post is something of a beast. You might say it is a little hefty. But this happened for reasons that I think you may eventually come to appreciate. I wanted to give you some words of wisdom and encouragement, such as I have, words that you might need to return to over the next couple of years. There’s no telling when our overlord Big Techies are going to turn me off, and so I wanted to say my bit first....keep reading

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Monday, January 4, 2021

Requiem for the Living

And now for something different. Could this somehow grant us a shadow-glimpse of worship in Heaven?