3 Views on the Rapture

Though the book is dated (pre-wrath has replaced mid-tribulationism), it remains valuable for a number of reasons.  Reiter’s essay on the development of American premillennialism is worth the price of the book. Many have a tendency to lump all premils as rednecks who are looking for the Red Heifer.  But what Reiter shows is that early premillennials were aware of difficulties in the system, and they tried to fix them.Image result for 3 views on the rapture zondervan

Feinberg gives the standard pre-tribulational argument. Key argument: God has not only exempted the church from God’s wrath, but from the season of God’s wrath (Feinberg 58, 63). Feinberg’s key argument is that Revelation 3:10 means that God will keep the church out of the tribulation.  

He further claims there must be an interval of time between the Rapture and the 2 Coming (72). The Millennium has nonglorified bodies.  And since all wicked will be immediately judged in the Second Coming (Matt. 25:31-46), then there must be a category of saved yet nonglorified bodies?

Response: Douglas Moo

The most fatal argument is that the martyred saints in Revelation 6 are asking God when his wrath will begin?  This implies it hasn’t happened yet. Therefore, the time of Tribulation is not totally a time of wrath.

Response: Gleason Archer

Feinberg admits that the Day of the Lord referred to in 2 Thess. 2:3-4 does not start until the middle of the week (Feinberg 61). This is very close to pre-wrath.

Douglas Moo gives the post-trib argument, and since it is relatively familiar to American evangelicals, I will focus on Gleason Archer’s mid-tribulational view.  It never gained much ground and has since been replaced by pre-wrath.

The Case for the Mid-Seventieth Week Rapture

The rapture will precede the second advent of Christ. So far that sounds like pre-trib, but there are a few differences.  Archer places the rapture in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week.

Rider on the White Horse in Revelation 19.  This is the big weakness of post-tribulationism.  Where do these saints come from (Archer 120). These saints appear to have already been “clothed” (2 Cor. 5:2; 1 John 3:2).

Two phases of the Parousia (cf. response to Moo, 213ff).  There is no hint of apocalyptic struggle in the primary rapture passage (1 Thess. 4:13-18). In verse 14 it says “God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep through (dia) Christ Jesus.” Those who have died in Christ will not be raised until the rapture (214). They will not accompany the Lord in his descent without their resurrected bodies.

Conclusion

So who won?  Not really anyone.  Feinberg made a few good points, but his church/israel dichotomy hamstrung his whole project.  Moo’s responses were fairly good but post-trib is just so complex that I can’t follow him. Archer’s placing the rapture midway through the 70th week is interesting, if a bit arbitrary.  I think Alan Kurschner’s recent teaching on pre-wrath holds more promise.

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Developing an Enochian Worldview

Some of these are inspired by Dr Michael Heiser’s writings, though much of it came from my own working through both the Scriptures and tradition.  Our problem is that we are all students of Dante, whether we admit it or not.  An Enochian worldview, by contrast, sees how “angels” (more on that term later) function within the Divine Realm.

We say things like “we need a biblical worldview” (I used to say “supernatural,” but after talking with some guys on a Reformed online forum, I can’t take that for granted anymore), and we piously nod at the Bible when it says “angels are ministering servants,” but we really don’t let the Bible correct our understanding of Dante.

What Did Dante Say?

You already know this.  If I say “hell,” you think of a fiery underworld.  More to the point, you think there is a class of beings known as demons/devils/fallen angels.  They are either being tortured by fire or torturing others by fire (pop culture tradition isn’t too clear).

But there are some problems with this picture (though it did inspire good music).  The Bible contradicts it in various places.  If you hold that there is one class of beings called angels, which are subdivided into good and bad, with all of the latter in a subterranean realm (or if you are a bit more sophisticated, another dimension), then the following problems occur:

  1. Why is Satan called the prince of the powers of the air (Eph. 2:2) if he is locked underground?
  2. If all the demons are in hell, then why do we wrestle against principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Eph. 6)?
  3. If Ha Shatan is locked underground, then how did he appear before God in Job?
  4. If all the demons are in hell, then how did they possess people in the NT?
  5.  Yet Peter says some were thrust into Tartarus (2 Peter 2:4).
  6. Why does Peter use the word Tartarus when he could have simply said hell or hades?
  7.  Was the spirit in 1 Kings 22:19-23 good or bad?  If he was good, then was God commanding him to lie? If he was bad, then why was he in heaven?
  8. Is God the only kind of Elohim?  You have to say no, because God (singular Elohim) is often speaking to plural Elohim, and even if the latter are just men, they aren’t the kind of Elohim that Yahweh is.

That’s enough for now.  These questions show that the pop worldview about demons is wrong.  Now for my own theses, drawn from Michael Heiser and Derek Gilbert.

1. Sons of God in Genesis 6/Psalm 82:Dt.32:8 refer to elohimic beings, not men.  I won’t argue that thesis at this point. I also think these are what Enoch called the Watchers (alluded to in Peter and Jude; mentioned in Daniel, though those Watchers are good).

2. Their offspring were the Nephilim.

3. Some church fathers and Philo said that the departed souls of the Nephilim were what we call “demons” today.  Maybe.  That might not be provable, but it does remove certain problems.

I am closely following Heiser’s analysis on issues like the Rephaim.

4.  Rephaim: Heiser–”When the term is translated, it is rendered “giants” (1 Chr 20:4 ESV), “shades” (i.e., spirits of the dead; Isa 26:14 ESV), or simply “the dead” (Job 26:5 ESV)”.  Specifically, they are the spirits of dead warrior-kings in the underworld. They are also giants whom the Ammonites called Zamzummim (Deut 2:19–20 ESV).

4a. Og was a Rephaim (Josh. 13:12).

5.  Demons aren’t the same as fallen angels, rephaim, or nephilim.  

  1. They aren’t the celestial ones of 2 Peter 2 and Jude.  Angels are very cautious in the celestial ones’ presence.
  2. With Heiser, I highly recommend questions 72-75 of Doug Van Dorn’s primer on the supernatural.
  3. At this point we see several levels of differentiation:
  4. The corrupt sons of God put over the nations are called shedim, a term of geographical guardianship (van Dorn).
  5. The fallen angels, or Watchers, are imprisoned in Tartarus until the Final Judgment (2 Peter 2 and Jude).
  6. Whatever demons are, they aren’t those above.
  7. A demon, at least in the Gospel exorcism passages, is an unclean spirit.
  8. If Jewish intertestamental literature is to be trusted, demons are the departed spirits of dead Nephilim.  Granted, this isn’t inspired literature, but it was the worldview/social imaginary of those who lived in the apostles’ time.  Jude quoted 1 Enoch, and while 1 Enoch isn’t inspired, Jude acted like it had a lot of truth.

Notes on Heiser’s Unseen Realm, 2

My opening notes here.  A problem with the Sethite reading.

PART 4: YAHWEH AND HIS PORTION

Chapter 16: Abraham’s Word

Throughout the Abrahamic narrative, Abraham “sees” the Word.  Visible Yahweh thesis; Two Powers in Heaven.

Chapter 18: What’s in a Name?

Yahweh tells Moses that he will send an angel and put his Name in the Angel. The Angel will be able to forgive sins (Ex. 23.20-22). “The Name” (Ha-Shem) is a Person (Isaiah 30.27-28; Psalm 20.1, 7).

Chapter 20: Retooling the Template

Believing Israel: God’s Earthly Council

The 70 elders of Israel were a contrast to the corrupt elohim of the divine council (the 70 nations of Gen. 10).

Isaiah 24:23–Yahweh will punish the host of heaven, in heaven. Aside from God’s nuking a few stars, the only plausible reading is God’s punishing the beney elohim.

Rev. 4-5: 24 elders surround God’s throne.  God will replace the corrupt elohim by loyal members of his own family (155ff).

Paul’s logic in Romans 4: Abraham would be the father of many nations, yet the nations besides Israel were then under the domain of the corrupt elohim.

Eden and Sinai

The divine council, which Daniel 7 later on calls a “court” for judgment, mediated the law (Acts 7:52-53; Heb. 2:2).

Chapter 22: Realm Distinction

Holiness and Sacred Space

Azazel.  While it could mean scapegoat (Lev. 16.8), it is also a proper name. One goat is “for Yahweh” and another is “for Azazel.”  The parallelism demands the latter be a proper name (176). The priest isn’t sacrificing to Azazel; rather, Azazel is getting what is his: sin.  Realm distinction and cosmic geography go hand in hand.

PART 5: CONQUEST AND FAILURE

Chapter 23: Giant Problems

nephilim
Go watch the movie “The Fallen Ones.” Yes, it’s terrible but the opening scene is fairly accurate

However the Israelites would have interpreted Gen. 6, it is certain they wouldn’t have demythologized the text.

Does Matt. 22:23-33 rule out the supernatural view? The Bible tells of angels physically interacting with humans. Some considerations:

  1. This text never says angels can’t have sexual relations. It just says they don’t.
  2. Nevertheless, Genesis 6 isn’t the spiritual realm, so the situation doesn’t apply.
  3. This event is far less radical in what is required of a belief than the Incarnation.
  4. The actions in Genesis 18-19 are physical actions (eating food, taking hold of Lot, etc.).
  5. In Genesis 32:22-31 Jacob wrestles with an elohim and the elohim can be touched and in return physically harm Jacob.
  6. Everyone believes angels can speak, yet on this objection how can an incorporeal being produce sound waves?
  7. Angels open doors (Acts 5:19)
  8. They hit the disciples (Acts 12.7).

Nephilim after the flood

Chapter 24: The Place of the Serpent

800px-Mt._Hermon_from_Manara(GllSprng_319PAN)

Israel will face two enemies in the Holy Land: descendants of the Nephilim and those under the dominion of foreign gods.  The former had to be annihilated. The descendants of the Nephilim are related to the Rephaim (Num. 13:11, 20).

Chapter 28: Divine Misdirection

The OT didn’t have a concept of a dying and rising maschiach.  If it did, and if it were obvious, Peter wouldn’t have rebuked Christ for suggesting that.  Christ wouldn’t have had to explain it on the Emmaus Road. It was veiled because if the powers of the world understood it (1 Cor 2), they wouldn’t have put Jesus to death. “Even the angels didn’t know the plan” (1 Pet. 1:12).

Chapter 29: Rider in the clouds

Daniel 7: Divine Council

Cloud rider: in the ANE, someone who rode the clouds was divine (Ugaritic Baal Cycle; Ps. 104:1-4; Isaiah 19:1). Daniel 7 adjusts this in a way: the one who receives this title is someone alongside Yahweh.

PART 7: THE KINGDOM ALREADY

 

Chapter 32: Preeminent Domain

Matthew 16.  There is a connection between Caesarea Phillipi and “Gates of Hades.”  It is the Bashan Mountain region, close to Mt. Hermon. Caearea Phillipi was also called “Panias,” a sanctuary to Zeus and Pan (cf. Eusebius).

Mt Hermon was considered the gateway to the realm of the dead (cf. n15).

israel-2011-267

Chapter 33: A Beneficial Death

Bulls of Bashan

Matthew 27 parallels Psalm 22.

Bashan is the realm of death and Hades.  Also see Amos 4. Amos’s calling the women “cows of Bashan” isn’t simply Amos going on thot patrol. It could very well be that the cows themselves are deities in the form of idols. The Hebrew words dallim and ebyonim are also in Psalm 82.

The Fall of Bashan

Mountain of Bashan/God in Psalm 68 should be translated mountain of gods, since it is immediately contrasted with Mt. Zion.  It wouldn’t make any sense if they were the same: why would the mountain look upon itself with envy?

Chapter 35: Sons of God, Seed of Abraham Gog, Magog, and Bashan

  1.  Gog will come from the heights of the North (Ezek. 38:15;39.2).  The invasion is in a supernatural context. Heiser writes, “The Gog invasion would be the response of a supernatural evil against the Messiah and his kingdom” (364).

Review: Keener on Revelation

Keener, Craig.  Revelation. NIVAC.  Zondervan, 2000.

I didn’t expect much out of a commentary series that had the letters “NIV” in it, but this was well-done. Keener demonstrated mastery of the current literature and made interesting, if sometimes stretched, applications.keener

Rev. 4-5 Throne Room

24 elders: Keener says they represent all believers (172). That reading is possible, but it is more likely the divine council. Further, the picture we have of believers in heaven (ch. 6) has them pleading before the altar.
Revelation 6:9-17

Keener raises the problem of the martyrs’ prayer for justice, but doesn’t give a satisfactory answer (221-22). He notes that it appears to conflict with Jesus’s love your enemies. He doesn’t bring up the imprecatory psalms. They aren’t psalm of vengeance, but psalms against God to arise in covenantal judgment. When we pray like this, we aren’t violating Jesus’s commands, but are asking God to be faithful to the covenant.

Revelation 7:1-8

Keener seems to suggest that the events following the 6th seal aren’t chronological. In fact, he breaks with premillennialism at this point: “those who can withstand the day of God’s wrath are those whom God has empowered to withstand the previous plagues” (230). That’s certainly a true proposition but there are easier answers. Pre-wrath, for one.

Revelation 12

The Mother: faithful remnant of Israel (314). The theological source most available would have been the OT, which the readers would have known.

Reasons it can’t be Mary: We don’t have evidence of Mary’s being persecuted by the Dragon.

Revelation 20

Defense of Historic Premillennialism

1. The binding of Satan during the thousand years hardly matches Satan’s deceptive and murderous activity during the present era (12:12-13; 13:11-15).
2. The saints have already been martyred, suggesting that the Tribulation period precedes the Millennium.
3. The resurrection of the righteous is parallel to and contrasted with the rest of the dead returning to life after the thousand years (20:4-6), suggesting a bodily rather than symbolic resurrection.
4. Revelation 20 presupposes all that transpired in chapters 12-19.

Extra notes on Revelation 20.

The angel’s binding of Satan (20:2; 9:14) is a common motif throughout Jewish literature (1 Enoch 10:4-6

Gog and Magog. In Ezekiel Gog is the ruler of Magog, but here they merely symbolize all the evil nations

Other notes: it’s doubtful John had Matt. 12 in mind when he spoke of the binding of Satan. It’s unlikely his earlier readers would have had access to the Synoptics.

Criticisms

Keener utilizes a lot of material from Tony Campolo and Ron Sider. Rev. (so-called) Jeremiah Wright of Chicago (of Obama fame) also makes an appearance (194).

 

Review: Vanderwaal, Job-Song of Songs

I’m normally skeptical of Bible surveys and introductions. You can find the book online. They usually never get beyond surface level and are written with the grace of a dictionary. Fortunately, Cornelis Vanderwaal’s material isn’t that. He gets to the point but he also gives you depth. And he brings the covenant to the front. For him covenant is real. It isn’t just a heuristic device.

Job

There is the standard fare here, which I won’t go into detail. He does note that Job contrasts with Babylonian wisdom. For Job wisdom begins with the fear of God.

Psalms

Vanderwaal highlights the covenantal langauage in the Psalms. A covenantal interpretation is not a “spiritual” (read: Platonic) one (Vanderwaal 47). Psalm 10, for example, doesn’t focus on man in general, but on the covenant servant David.

Imprecatory psalms are those of covenant judgment. God is the Lord of the Covenant who judges in covenant judgment. Take the word “arise” in the Psalms. It is tabernacle language, but it is also the language of God’s covenant. When God “arises” he Judges.

The cursing language is drawn from the Covenant. Even the Christ joins in the cursing (Ps. 69). Peter applies verse 25 to Judas in Acts 1.20. Paul applies verses 23-24 to the Jews (Rom. 11.9-10). Thesis: Yahweh avenges his servants because of the statute of the Covenant.

Even nature itself bears witness to the Covenant. In Psalm 19 the creation witnesses to the covenant, sun and moon.

Song of Songs
fountain
A beautiful section on married sexuality. No Greek or Gnostic darkness here. He does point out (but not develop) Garden-City motifs pointing to the New Jerusalem.

Grace restores nature.  This is the problem with the current fascination with Reformed Thomism.  Thomas knew exactly what he was doing when he downplayed married sexuality.  It wasn’t a medieval hiccup.  For him, grace perfects nature.  For us, it restores. I know that the Calvinist International guys like Bavinck.  I just think it is pouring new wine into old wineskins.

Also, see here and here.

Hal Lindsey and Biblical Prophecy

By Cornelis Vanderwaal.

Vanderwaal was attacked for his rhetoric, but is it any worse than Lindsey or Hunt’s saying that anyone who disagrees with them wants to exterminate the Jews (Lindsey, Road to Holocaust, 332)? Let’s get beyond rhetoric and into substance.  Having read the Left Behind stuff, I was surprised to see that they got their Ezekiel 38-39 material from Lindsey–you know the part where Russia (Gog) invades Israel, gets killed by an angelic meteor shower, and then 200 million Red Chinese (you have to say it like that) invade Israel?

Pic was just a coincidence

Key thesis: Revelation is a covenantal book through and through (Vanderwaal 10).

The book gives more of the context on why something like Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth became so popular, rather than in detailed refutations of Lindsey. Of course, Vanderwaal does show why Lindsey is wrong.

The book’s value is not in an earth-shattering refutation of dispensationalism (and there is a dated problem with the book, which I will mention at the end). Rather, it exposes some weird problems that must entail given Dispensationalism.

Odd problems in dispensationalism: if the church age will end, and if there will be believers in the Tribulation, then the church isn’t the mother of believers. We await another mother, a Jewish one (30).

I’m cool with pre wrath now

Another odd problem: One of the weirder problems in Gogology is that many Russians converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages, which means a lot of Jews in Eastern Europe have Russian blood. Now, Israel = Gog!

Key point: The church of the new covenant can never be viewed as part of Israel in the sense that it stands next to the Jewish people of our time, with the latter regarded as another part of Israel or the rest of Israel. The Bible stresses that the New Testament church is a continuation of Israel. The Jews who refuse to believe in the Messiah can no longer lay claim to the old covenant titles. This is the point on which everything hinges (30).

Vanderwaal’s main criticism of Lindsey’s use of biblical prophecy is that as prophecy relates to the future, it does so in a covenant context. This means that some of the predictions are conditional upon repentance (Micah 3:12). If this isn’t the case, then some biblical prophecies are simply false.

Israel in the bible means “people of the covenant” (56).

Argument: If Jesus is the Covenant Prophet (Dt 17), then anyone who does not listen to him is cut off from the covenant. Minor premise: Israel did not listen to him. Conclusion: Ethnic Israel is cut off.

Further, the desolating sacrilege = future apostasy on the part of the covenant people (60).

The Last Days

Vanderwaal, while firmly rejecting premillennialism, also distances himself from Augustine’s platonizing (66-67).

Vanderwaal’s Constructive Proposal

As Gary North said, you can’t beat something with nothing. Vanderwaal suggests Revelation is a covenant document detailing Yahweh’s coming destruction of Old Covenant Israel.
Babylon = Jerusalem. Summarizing Holwerda (106):

(1)It is apparent from Revelation 2:9 that John knows of a community that claims to be a congregation of the living God but is really a synagogue of Satan.

(2)Revelation 17 clearly echoes Exodus 16 and 23, where Israel is branded a harlot who fails to keep the covenant.

(3)The great city is also mentioned in Revelation 11:8, where a political-cultural interpretation is out of the question. This suggests that Babylon should not be identified as a political-cultural entity in Revelation 17 and 18 either.

(4)It is made clear in the book of Acts (see 2:23; 3:13; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52) that it was Jerusalem that opposed Jesus, although Rome did in fact carry out the death sentence. Jesus was crucified in the great city that is Spiritually called Sodom and Egypt.

(5) It is apparent from Revelation 18:20 that when the harlot is destroyed, God is squaring accounts because of what she has done to the prophets and apostles. Four verses later we read: “In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints.”

Admittedly, he makes a strong case. How can someone who is not Yahweh’s bride be a harlot to Yahweh? This is why Babylon must be Jerusalem, not Rome (or Masonic London). Nonetheless, if this isn’t a futurist document, then what do we make of Revelation 20:11ff to the end? Vanderwaal cannot take his preterist (though he never calls it that) conclusions to that point.

Notes on Leithart’s Delivered from the Elements

I clean this up in a book review later.  This review is neither an endorsement nor a critique of Leithart.  It’s simply looking at scholarship in NT studies.  Full stop.leithart

Main idea: the fundamental physics of every society consists of purity, pollution, and ritual (Leithart 12). If you “relocate” the sacred then you change the structure of society.

NT use of “nature:” a moral order rooted in the differences of the sexes (27).

Goal: a successful atonement theology must show how Jesus’s death and resurrection is the key to history.

Part 1: Under the Elements of the World

The Physics of the Old Creation

“The elements (ta stoichea) are features of an old creation that Christ has in some way brought to an end” (25).  In both Gentile and Jewish worlds they are structures and symbols that involve distinctions between purity and impurity, sacred and profane.

When Paul uses “nature” it is neither Aristotelian or Stoic.  Gentiles do not have the Torah “by nature” but they still can do what Torah commands (sometimes). Physeis is closely linked to nomos, so of law means a change of the elements (29).  Paul does not use stoichea in the Greek sense. It is a cultural cosmos linked to religious practices.

Flesh

Adam was placed under the elements.  “Touch not, taste not” was his pedagogy (76).  After the fall, though, flesh was a reminder that the strength of man cannot save.  This might explain circumcision as a symbolic attack on flesh, a reminder that salvation won’t come through natural means.  As Leithart notes, “it is a division from division,” from the pride of nations (89).

What Torah Does

Yahweh’s intention is to destroy the fleshly physics.  When he introduces Torah he is continuing his cutting away of flesh.  The problem with flesh is that flesh spreads pollution (100). As Leithart notes, “Torah cannot kill flesh without killing the man or woman who bears that flesh” (102).

Torah provides a way for Israel to be Yahweh’s people among the division of nations.  It regulates the flesh but does not fix it. As long as Israel is under Torah she is under managers. It is spiritual and we are flesh.  If we come to it it will kill us.

Part Two: Good News of God’s Justice

The Justice of God

Torah and every form of stoichea institutionalize a world of death (126).  In Jesus’s death the old world, the stoichea, the old humanity is gone. Torah established a pedagogy under the conditions of the flesh.  Jesus established a pedagogy under conditions of the Spirit (139).

The Faith of Jesus Christ.

Penal substitution can stand only if it emphasizes the resurrection.  If Christ is not raised, then it is not clear that God accepted his sacrifice. 

Justification 

(1) The judgment is not a  mere verdict of righteousness, but it is the very act by which it is accomplished (181). “It is a favorable judgment in the form of resurrection.”

It also makes more sense in the historia salutis than in the ordo.  Justification was an act in Jesus’s life (1 Tim. 3:16). And through it we are delivered from the realm of death and stoichea to the realm of Spirit.

Galatians 2 Chiasm:

A. Knowing that a man does not receive delivering verdict by what Torah does.
B. But through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.
               C. We have believed in Jesus Christ.
        B’ so that we may receive the delivering verdict by the faithfulness of XP.
A’ and not by what the law does, since the law does not justify

Pistis Christou in B and B’ refer to the faith of Christ and not Paul’s act of believing. Paul isn’t saying the same thing in three different ways (189).

“Works of Torah” refer to the man and not the deeds (190).  It is someone whose nature has been molded by circumcision, temple, and purity laws.

Justified from the Elements

Thesis: Paul denies that the Spirit comes through the mechanisms of Torah (193).

Flesh and Torah are mutually defining (Romans 7:1-6).  Paul’s argument: to be reckoned righteous is to receive the Spirit.  We receive the Spirit who does acts of power by hearing the message [as Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness].

Chiasm in Galatians 3

A. Spirit comes through the message of faith (1-5).
       B.Abraham believed God (6-9).
C. Those who are of the law are cursed by the law (10).
D.Law vs. Faith (11-12).
            C* Jesus becomes curse to remove curse (13)
        B* So that the blessing of Abraham can come to the Gentiles (14a)
A* So that we might receive the Spirit through faith (14b).

Justify has to refer to more than a verdict.  It also includes a rescue. When Yahweh promised to justify the Gentiles, he was going to judge sin and death. (197).    The good news was not only to the Gentiles, but about them. The content of the gospel is that “all nations shall be blessed in you” (Gal. 3:8).  

Back to Paul’s use of nature:  those who are of different cultures are of different natures.

Galatians 4 is an Exodus motif. Torah works death, so to remain under Torah is to remain under the realm of death.

“The Seed”

Refers to a collective line of descent.  Moses doesn’t mediate the Seed, nor could he since, as mediator of Torah, he can only have a divided humanity (206).

Chiasm in Galatians 4

A. Heir as child (nepios)

       B. no better than a slave (ouden diapherei doulou

                 C. under guardians and managers (hypo epitropous…kai oikonomous)

A’ When we were children (nepioi)

          B’ held in bondage (dedoulomenoi)

                    C’ under ta stoicheia tou kosmou

Humanity is supposed to grow into maturity, but it cannot do this while remaining under the elements and Torah.  The elements are beings who guard and manage children. They could be angelic beings, since Jews received Torah through angels and Gentiles were under beings that are “by nature no gods” (Gal. 4.8).

Chiasm of Galatians 3-4

A.  Faith of Abraham (3.1-14)/
        B.  Faith and law (3.15-22)
               C. Law as pedagogue (3.23-25)
                        D. Baptism into the Seed (26-29)
                C’ Childhood under guardians and managers (4.1-11)
        B’ Weakness of Paul’s flesh/first visit (12-20)
A’ Allegory of Abraham and Sarah (21-31)

Contributions to a Theology of Mission

In Ranks with the Spirit

While stoichea regulate the elements of social life, and a dissolution of stoichea would dissolve the universe, Jesus gives the Spirit who is the new fundamental element of social life (219).  As the Spirit spreads, stoicheic divisions give way to a new order of the Spirit. Instead of a pyramid society of slaves, Paul sees a single body.

Summary of argument so far: “After the curse of Babel, Yahweh continued his war on flesh by beginning an anti-sarkic pedagogy within one family” (283).  Jesus has to be the sacrifice because if he were merely “good,” we would still be barred from Eden.  We would still have to face the flaming cherubim.

 

A response to Riddlebarger’s Huge Premillennial Problem

He asks, “Where is this mixture of resurrected and unresurrected individuals taught, or even implied in the Scriptures? “

Answer:  Why can it not be taught in Revelation 20? Why is that chapter suddenly off-limits?

Further:  As we have seen, the New Testament writers all anticipate the final consummation to occur at the time of our Lord’s Second Advent.  They do not anticipate the half-way step of an earthly millennium before the final consummation such as that associated with all forms of premillennalism.

But that is not how 1 Cor. 15:20-27 reads.   One can legitimately make the case that the tagmata represent three different orders of events, given Paul’s eita…epeita construction.  Even progressive’s like Jurgen Moltmann concede the point and even advance this reading.

His strongest argument:

Perhaps even more problematic is the following dilemma raised by the premillennial insistence upon people in natural bodies living on the earth alongside of Christ and his resurrected saints.  How do people living on the earth at the time of Christ’s second coming escape the resurrection and the judgment?  The Scriptures are very clear that Christ returns to judge the world, raise the dead and renew the cosmos.  According to Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, those who have died in Christ are raised from the dead at his coming.  Those who are Christ’s and who are still alive when he comes are caught up to meet the Lord in the air.  This includes all believers, whether living or dead.  But those who are not Christ’s, we are told, will face his wrath and will be taken away to face final judgment (Matthew 24:37-41).  This includes all unbelievers living at the time of our Lord’s return.  Therefore, premillennarians must explain just who, exactly, are these people in unresurrected bodies living during the millennium.

Why is this exactly a problem?  Premillennialists have dealt with these rebuttals for a long time.  Dr Paul Henebury notes,

So what?  If someone born in the Millennium can be summoned by Satan to rebel against Christ at the end of the thousand years, surely there are a lot of unsaved people who need saving?  Why is that a problem?… So what?  Does the Bible say anywhere that there will be no death after Christ’s second coming?  What about Rev. 20:7-10? … Zech. 8? Easy, apocalyptic.  Isa. 65? same.  Zech 14? more of the same.  Rev. 20? symbolic.

I should point out that Dr Riddlebarger’s criticisms are theological in nature, not exegetical.   If this is what the Bible teaches, then I fail to see the problem.  We must adjust our ontology about created reality if that’s the case.

Review: God, Heaven, and Har Magedon

This book is a mix of very good, and very, very, very bad. While containing brilliant insights into biblical symbology, Kline felt obligated to include every one of his unique (and often controversial) positions into this book.

He begins on a promising note. There is a “meta” reality to heaven, as it exists beyond our dimension. It is a holy location and contains sacred architecture. It is a palace/royal court (Deut. 26.15). Heaven is a temple that names God’s throne-site (Psalm 11 and 47). It is even identified with God in Revelation 21.22. “Heaven is the Spirit realm and to enter heaven is to be in the Spirit, Rev. 4.1” (9). Quite good.

He notes that in the biblical story we see a parallel warfare between two mountains, the mount of the Lord (usually, though not always Zion) and Mt Zaphon. Further Armageddon is Har Magedon and is not to be confused with the plain of Meggido, but that the Hebrew actually reads Har Mo’ed, the Mount of Assembly. And this is the part of Kline’s argument that is truly good and noteworthy. Assemblies are “gathered together” throughout the Old Testament, and Rev. 16.16 points out the act of gathering.

Whenever Har Moed appears in the Bible (Isa. 14.13) it is sometimes paired with its opposite, Hades or Sheol. Revelation pairs it with the pit of Abbadon (Rev. 9.11).

At the end of the book Kline identifies Har Magedon with Mt Zaphon in the North (251ff). This is a promising line of thought. Zaphon was the domain of Ba’al and can be seen as the center of wickedness. This makes sense if Gog is the Antichrist figure and comes “from the North.”

Zaphon was the Caananite version of Mt Olympus. This makes sense when we remember that Zaphon is paired with the Abyss. In Revelation 9 Apollyon (Apollo) is from the abyss. Apollo is the demon lord of the Abyss. (That’s my argument, not Kline’s). Kline also notes that when Har Mo’ed is mentioned, it is sometimes paired with the Abyss (Isa. 14:13-15; Rev. 16:16).

I will begin my analysis (and subsequent criticism) with his exegesis of Revelation 20.

Exegesis of Revelation 20

Background is Isa. 49: 24, 24. He is a Warrior who binds the Strongman (Matt. 12:29). Kline elsewhere identifies Jesus with Michael the Archangel, so Revelation 12:7-8 = Revelation 20: 1-3 (162).

Against premillennialism he argues that the chiastic structure of Revelation 12-20 favors Gog/Magog happening before the millennium.

a. Rev. 12.9. Dragon
B. Rev. 13:14. False Prophet
C. Rev. 16:13-16. Dragon, Beast, False Prophet
B’. Rev. 19.19-20. Beast and False prophet
A’. Rev. 20:7-10. Dragon.

And since they all refer to the same time period, and to the same event, this means premillennialism is false. Maybe. The chiasm is good but chiastic literature doesn’t always refer to the same event (many of the historical books form one whole chiasm, yet refer to various events).

Kline admits that the biblical evidence also supports premillennialism as well as amillennialism (170). Nevertheless, he argues that the millennium is the church age (171ff). Kline identifies the first resurrection in Revelation 20 as….I’m not quite sure. It seems he says “opposite of the second death” (176), so is it conversion? I think he is saying it is “the intermediate state of believers.”

Sed contra:

1* There are numerous premil responses to the claim that the binding of Satan = Jesus’s ministry. If the events refer back to Rev. 12, and Satan is bound and can’t deceive the nations, then what exactly was Satan doing in Rev. 13? Kline interacts with zero premillennialists (or postmils, for that matter).

2* He says the two resurrections, if interpreted literally, would confront us with a bizarre scenario (175). Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean it is logically or textually false. And biblical supernaturalism is strange.

3* Interestingly enough, Kline doesn’t deal with the conclusion of Christ’s argument. If Christ has bound the strongman, then he is plundering his house. This sounds like Christendom and dominion!

Kline argues that postmillennialism is wrong because it cannot account for the final apostasy at the end (186). However, on Kline’s account it is hard to understand how there can be an apostasy, since history is always getting worse. I have to wonder how familiar with postmillennial writings Kline really is. Kline then can’t avoid a few cheap shots: “The melding of church and state and its coercive power, the arrangement which theonomic reconstructionism regards as the kingdom ideal to be attained during the millennium, is precisely what is anathematized in the Apocalypse” (186).

No Reconstructionist argues for this. Indeed, they have written books outlining the various covenants in society and how church doesn’t control state. Kline isn’t engaging in scholarship at this point. He is using scare tactics. His analysis isn’t just wrong. It beggars belief.

Kline only once deals with specific postmillennials, and that is David Chilton in a footnote on p. 269.

This book suffers from severe repetition. Page 185 is almost identical to p. 268. Some paragraphs are word-for-word the same.

A Discussion on Common Grace

Kline tells us that we live in the common grace age, but he never gives us a detailed discussion of what is the content of common grace. Kline argued that some of God’s more extreme measures (Canaanite genocide) are actually intrusions of God’s final justice. Well, yes and no. True, that was a positive command and not to be repeated by the church today. However, we do not see biblical evidence of an ‘order’ or ‘sphere’ of common grace. Is this a time or sphere of common grace? But even if it is, God’s blessings fell upon elect and non-elect within theocratic Israel.

What does it mean to rule according to common grace? How could we even determine which application of “common grace” is more “gracey” or right than the other one? General Franco of Spain probably had more common grace than either Hitler or Stalin, yet one suspects that the modern advocate of intrusion ethics wouldn’t praise Franco’s regime.

As Klaas Schilder notes, it is true that sin is being restrained. But by similar logic the fullness of Christ’s eschaton is not fully experienced. Apparently, it is restrained. (and this is true. So far, so good) If the first restraining is “grace,” then we must–if one is consistent–call the restraining of the blessing “judgment.” Kline’s position falls apart at this point.

Uneasy tension of choosing and eschatology

A brief history:

In college and seminary I was a postmillennial reconstructionist.  To put it delicately today, I am not. When I left seminary I understood the reasons behind Historic Premillennialism.  Exegetically, I still think it is the strongest case.  My own position, rather, was a mix between postmil and premil.

When I left the EO debate I was a convinced historic premillennialist.  I stayed like that for about 3 or 4 years. One of the reasons that historic premillennialism won by default was that idealist Amillennialism was just so bad. It’s gnostic.  But when I read the Reformed Scholastics I realized that they had a very interesting eschatological timeline worked out.  Ultimately, I couldn’t accept it. It’s tied in with historicism, which says the Pope is the Antichrist.  Mind you, it’s easy to pick on Francis today, and he deserves it, but he isn’t the eschatological Man of Sin who sitteth in the temple of God.

So that couldn’t work.  So here I am today.  I feel a strong tug in my heart back to historic premil.