Saturday, April 16, 2022

Harris' Review: The Very Good Gospel By Lisa Sharon Harper

Jon Harris parses "The Very Good Gospel" in Part One of a three-part review. This is important because this "thick" social-justice gospel is being picked up and disseminated by many evangelical leaders. (Part Two) (Part Three)

Friday, April 15, 2022

A Pretribber's Desperation

According to Alan Kurschner, Alf Cengia (that would be me) is desperate. See his blog. Now I do consider myself somewhat of a Desperado in a few areas - rapture timing not so much. What Kurschner found offensive was my linking to James Ventilato's response to the Seven Pretrib Problems and the Prewrath Rapture doc in a Facebook group. 

For context, the group has a handful of ardent PW proponents who troll every pretrib post. They incessantly post essay length comments "refuting" pretrib. My contribution was to point out the futility (and frustration) of endlessly debating a Category Three doctrine. Various PW members have linked to the 7 Pretrib Problems doco. At one point I linked to Ventilato given that he responded to the documentary. I also briefly interacted with the 7th alleged pretrib problem HERE.  

Kurschner claims to typically look beyond pretrib rhetoric, but refuses to link to Ventilato's article because he finds it to be utterly deplorable, is written in childish, shouting CAPITALIZED WORDS, underscores, italics, bold, and various colors, the worse part is that it is incoherent on every level as I could not figure out who Ventilato was citing and when and where he was even responding to it. It was like Ventilato used a bot to create his response as it is a hodgepodge of blockquotes followed by shallow pretrib quips.

We ought to be charitable in our responses. Ventilato's effort could have been formulated better, though I had no difficulty following it. I wouldn't have used the same verbal tactics, and I disagree with him on several points. But Kurschner is being a little precious. He might want to take a deep breath and scan the older PW comments at the group he's lurking in. Here's an example of what a prominent PW advocate (from that group) once fired at a Facebook friend after he posted a pretrib article on his private Home Page,

Going into the 70th week: some people [pretribs] will have intractable cognitive dissonance. They will DENY the countdown signs...God WILL HOLD pre-trib/imminence teachers responsible, when their flocks start to feel like the Thessalonians believers...MANY will throw away their faith. False teaching & unprecedented supernatural deception will be widespread. And these pre-trib teachers will either hide (Harold Camping style), or DOUBLE-down with more ‘assurances for the flock’... (Bold mine)

What about Marv Rosenthal saying pretrib leads to “calamitous” consequences and “a spiritual catastrophe” which is in reality “a satanically planned sneak attack”? In The Rapture Question Answered, Van Kampen proposed a link between Darby and the "heretical" Edward Irving. He noted that at the time of the development of pretribulationism, new cults also emerged: e.g., Mormonism, Christian Science, Unitarianism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Is that "pablum" or "rhetoric"? 

Because the Lord didn't return in the 80s, one fellow wrote,

...Hal Lindsey is an unrepentant false prophet who has been showered with royalties since then (false prophets in the Bible were showered with stones).

Yikes! I wonder what he might have said to PW Herb Peters of Fulfilled Prophecy who predicted that the 70th Week was about to be inaugurated. Was he a "false prophet" or simply mistaken?   

When I interacted with Dr. Andy Woods as he was researching the view, he expressed surprise and dismay at the nastiness he encountered. This isn't new. Proponents constantly called my friend Jack Kinsella a false prophet for teaching pretrib. When he occasionally responded, they'd go nuts. PWs confuse objective criticism with attack. I'm familiar with two pretrib ministries who endured constant nasty attacks from this community (seen some of the stuff). When they finally addressed PW it was called a knee-jerk reaction to pretrib territory being undermined. When Paul Wilkinson reacted to Joe Schimmel's epic "Left Behind or Led Astray?" polemical documentary, two participants got their noses out of joint.

After pretribbers responded to Rosenthal's and Van Kampen's rapture books, (Van Kampen & Roger Best opined,

It is very interesting to read the negative reviews on the prewrath position. Not one review to date has dealt with the biblical position of prewrath. Some have set up straw men, and when they tear these straw men down, they think they have accomplished something. Others rehash the idea that certainly all the great men who held to pretribulationism could not have been wrong. The reason, we believe, is because the prewrath position cannot be attacked by taking Scripture at its face value. It is too firmly based upon Scripture...Their argument is not with us, it’s with the Word of God. We have only taken it for what it says, harmonized it with all the other passages saying the exact same thing and gone on record that the Bible clearly tells us what will occur just prior to the coming of Christ. (Bold mine)

Did they read Renald Showers' irenic criticism of PW? Did the website ever respond to his "straw men"? Having studied the system and reading many of these so-called pretrib straw men responses, it's difficult for me to take Van-Kampen-Best's (or Kurschner's) umbrage seriously. 

Contra their assertions, the prewrath view begins by interpreting Matt 24:22 as saying the future Great Tribulation will be less than three-and-a-half years. I discuss it HERE. As stated elsewhere, this isn't biblical exegesis based on other confirming texts; it's a differing interpretation which affects the interpretation of several PW proof texts

As an illustration, I challenged a PW proponent on his interpretation of Matt 24:22. He insisted that the GT had to be shortened to less than 3.5 yrs because the Great Multitude of Rev 7 is the raptured church of Matt 24:31. This is circular reasoning. There's nothing "plain and simple" about it. If the GT hasn't been shortened in the way PW presumes, the GM is likely continuously being added to; not a one-time rapture event, and so on. 

While I hold to pretribulationism, I understand that I could be wrong. But rapture timing isn't regarded a Category 3 doctrine by prewrathers. They'll defend PW and persist against pretrib to the bitter end. It has become a Category One pious obsession for them. Read Best's concluding remarks about preparedness. 

P.S. Can desperation = creating a website called pretribulationism (dot) com, which is an actual arm of Kurschner's Eschatos Ministries? Wondering how he'd react if a pretrib ministry did that with PW.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Dispensationalists respond to Postmillennialist Jeff Durbin.

Recently, Jeff Durbin of Apologia Church made disparaging remarks about the rapture, premil & the gospel etc. Keith Sherlin, Luke Morrison and Brandon Garcia got together to discuss it. I thought the response was irenic and on point. Unfortunately, at this time I can only provide a Facebook link to the discussion. Hopefully it will eventually appear in another forum. 

I'm assuming it's OK to copy and paste Keith's introduction below:


Prior to 1944's great schism in the body of Christ between covenant theologians and dispensational theologians, evangelicals remained more united in their common effort to oppose liberalism in the culture. It should be this way today. Pastors Luke Morrison & Brandon Garcia joined in a Christicommunity Conversation to address the erroneous allegations Jeff Durbin has made against his premillennial brothers in the faith.

Covenant Theologian Ronald Henzel rightly stated of the premillennial movement that it has been a "powerful movement" composed of people with a "fervent commitment to evangelism" and "dedication to addressing social concerns" and such a reality serves as a "REBUKE to those" (like Durbin) who accuse them of "insulating themselves from the present world out of a preoccupation with the next."

Likewise, Covenant Theologian Dr. O. Palmer Robertson stated that believers from the various eschatological positions (Covenant & Dispensational) stand "side by side in affirming the essentials of the Christian faith" while also standing in unison and "alone in opposition to the inroads of modernism, neo-evangelicalism, and emotionalism." In his view, "Covenant theologians and dispensationalists SHOULD hold in highest regard the scholarly and evangelical productivity of one another." Sadly, so far, Durbin does not seem to have this level of respect and admiration for his fellow partners in the gospel. 

If only more Covenant theologians would have that same level of respect for their brothers who walk in the premillennial faith. His allegations lack merit, historical accuracy, and do not encourage healthy unity in the faith.

 Dr. Charles Ryrie, one of the foremost Dispensational teachers of the movement, rightly stated that "there are few enough these days who believe in the fundamentals of the faith, and to ignore those who have declared themselves on the side of truth of God is unwise." Alleging that Dispensationalists cannot properly carry out the great commission (one of several allegations by Durbin) ignores historical reality, misrepresents the leaders of the heritage, and establishes a needless dividing line in the body of Christ where one does not really exist.

 May the Lord's people, with a healthy and respectful acknowledgement in conversation of secondary differences, work towards greater levels of unity in Christ while collectively doing the great commission and opposing liberal ideology that temporally and eternally harms people. If we do that, we can better fulfill one of Jesus' prayers: "that they may all be one; even as you Father, are in Me and I in you, that they may also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me" (John 17:21).

Keith Sherlin PhD; ThD; PhD Christicommunity

Facebook link HERE

Monday, April 4, 2022

Dr. Reluctant's Clash of Worlds

The following series of apologetic articles from Dr. Reluctant date back to 2010. I'm posting them here primarily for my benefit and easy access. But I hope others will be interested.

I've just finished reading K. Scott Oliphint's "Covenantal Apologetics." See Paul Henebury's review of it HERE. This is a book I'll need to read at least once or twice again - at least parts of it. I've written a review on his "The Battle Belongs to the Lord." He has a newer book "The Faithful Apologist" which appears to be a more accessible summary of "Covenantal Apologetics."

Anyway, after reading CA I thought I'd go back and read Paul's responses to an atheist. So here we go!

The articles

A Clash of Worlds (1)

A Clash of Worlds (2)

A Clash of Worlds (3)

A Clash of Worlds (4)

See also Paul's Apologetics Articles. Those interested ought to do a search on Dr. Reluctant's site for more articles, especially using "presuppositional" etc as a tag.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

A few things Tolkien

I've become immersed in Tolkien's writings again. C. S. Lewis and Tolkien are never far from me. They bring me much joy. I wish there were more modern writers like them. As a wannabe Christian-fantasy writer, they've had an enormous influence on me.

One of my favorite characters in The Lord of the Rings books was Tom Bombadil. He was left out of the movies and sometimes dismissed by Christian commentators as an anomaly. Others (like me) have been fascinated by this character and suspect that Tolkien had a specific purpose for including him.

You can read Keith Mathison's take on Bombadil HERE. But, for my money, Chris Wiley's book "In the House of Tom Bombadil" is well worth reading. I believe he nails Tolkien's intent. I reviewed the book HERE.

Then there's Amazon "Rings of Power." If you haven't heard yet, Amazon is producing a series (loosely) based on Tolkien's materials. But it will be produced with a Diversity Quota agenda in mind (LGBTQ, race etc). This has generated an unprecedented backlash against Amazon by Tolkien fans of all stripes. And this is a good thing! See my article, "Amazon Lord of the Rings of Woke."

Lynda O of "Scripture Thoughts" now has another tentative blog "The Imaginative Christian." If you're a Tolkien fan, pop in and take a look around. Did you know that Tolkien was premillennial?

Lastly, years ago I encountered Matthew Dickerson's books - specifically, "Following Gandalf" and "A Hobbit Journey." You might enjoy them. You may also be interested in Jonathan S. McIntosh's "The Flame Imperishable: Tolkien, St. Thomas, and the Metaphysics of Faerie."