Posts Tagged ‘apocalypse’

Deeper Waters Podcast 12/20/2014: Paul Rainbow

December 18, 2014

What’s coming up this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The writings of John in the New Testament are noted for being difficult to understand. His Gospel is markedly different from the other Gospels. Let’s not forget about the book of Revelation either! Chesterton in his book Orthodoxy said “Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators.”

A book I went through not too long ago on this topic is Johannine Theology by Dr. Paul Rainbow. After reading it, I was convinced that this was an important topic that needed some more discussion and so I asked Dr. Rainbow to come on the show. So who is he?

Dr. Rainbow was born in Minneapolis in 1955 and studied at Born 1955, Minneapolis.
Studied at U. Minnesota, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Harvard Divinity School, and U. Oxford (England). He taught briefly at Canadian Bible College when it was in Regina SK (1980–82) before undertaking advanced studies. He served on staff as a Lay Assistant at St Ebbe’s Church, Oxford (Church of England = Anglican), 1987–88. He has been at Sioux Falls Seminary (German Baptist) for the last 26 years teaching New Testament. He is married to Alison and they have two grown children. For a hobby, he is also a classical pianist.
As you can imagine, Johannine theology is about the doctrine of God that is found in the Gospel, the epistles of John, and the Apocalypse. For the sake of argument, we will be assuming that these are all Johannine writings. It is worth noting that Rainbow does give a defense of authorship, but it will be more important in the interview for us to focus on the main subject matter.
Many of us read the Gospel of John and think that it’s meant to reveal the nature of Jesus. Of course, to a degree, it is, but it goes beyond that. It’s mainly to show us the nature of God. The way that we know who God is is by looking at Jesus. Is Jesus the full and best revelation? Yes, but He is the full and best revelation of the Father and if we are to know the Father, then we will have to know the Son as well.
This is definitely a complex topic, but if you’re a follower of the Deeper Waters Podcast, you should be used to complex topics. Still, we will try to keep it as simple as we can so that the average listener can get the most out of it.
I hope that you’ll be watching your podcast feed soon in order to catch this episode and I encourage you to go to Amazon as well and pick up a copy of Rainbow’s book if you’re interested in studying the doctrine of God in the writings of John. John’s writings are difficult so we will be working to take full advantage of having a scholar in the field help us sort through the difficult issues.
In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Johannine Theology

October 10, 2014

What do I think of Paul Rainbow’s book on the theology of John? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.


Johannine Theology is over 400 pages of looking at a highly complex topic. John is the Gospel that is often the most problematic for people due to its being so different from the others. Even N.T. Wright has said it is like his wife Maggie. In speaking of her he says “I love her, but I do not claim to understand her.”

Rainbow begins with a brief history on Johannine studies and with a defense of authorship and the date of the writing and such and from there, it’s off to see what the book has to say. The opening should be sufficient for those who are interested in the basic apologetic aspect to understand the usage of John in studies of the historical Jesus.

Rainbow argues that while John’s Gospel certainly tells us about the life of Jesus, the main character being it all is really God. The Gospel should be read not just as a Christological statement but as a Theological one. This is fitting since we are told that it is the Son who is explaining the Father. We know God by knowing the Son. He who has seen the Son has seen the Father. We cannot know God as He truly is apart from knowing the Son and the Son came to reveal the Father.

I found this to be a highly important insight. Rainbow is not at all downplaying the importance of Christology. He has plenty to say about that in a later chapter and of course, he comes down on the side of orthodox theology, but he does want to stress that we cannot leave God the Father out of the equation in John.

I will say when he got to Christology, I was disappointed on one aspect. Much of the Christology came from the Gospel. I find an excellent place to go to really to get Christology in the Johannine corpus is to go to the book of Revelation. I did not see this interacted with in the work. Revelation begins after all describing itself as the Revelation of Jesus Christ and it does say that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Rainbow also covers other themes related to theology. He covers the question of salvation and that of apostasy. He covers issues related to free will and predestination and points out that John has no desire to really address our questions there. It could be argued that John in fact argues for both sides of the equation. He also argues for how John says the church is to be to the world.

Surprisingly, there is little on eschatology and this was one area I did have a difficult time with as I happen to highly enjoy discussions of eschatology. Rainbow does take a futurist stance in his writings and that is not something that is argued for. I find it interesting for instance that Revelation is said to tell us about the antichrist and yet Revelation never once uses the term.

Still, Johannine Theology is a difficult topic to handle and I think Rainbow for the most part does an excellent job. I would have liked to have seen more on eschatology, but then that could be its own book entirely. Still, if you want to understand the writings of John in relation to theology, then you should get yourself a copy of this volume.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Jesus, The Temple, and the Coming Son of Man

September 30, 2014

What do I think of Robert Stein’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

There are many secondary debates in Christianity that I just don’t care for at all. I have no desire to touch a debate on Calvinism with a ten-foot pole for instance. Eschatology, however, is an exception. I’m not sure why that is, but I just happen to really enjoy eschatology. It could be in our culture if we live in America, we grow up in a culture that has what Gary Demar calls “End Times Madness” and we have to find our place in it.

When I started my journey, I was a pre-trib, pre-mill dispensationalist. I was a full supporter of the rapture and just couldn’t see why people couldn’t see that in the Bible. Now I’m pretty much opposite. I have reached the conclusion where I am an orthodox Preterist and wonder how it is that anyone can see a rapture in the Bible.

That’s one reason I was curious to see a book such as Robert Stein’s on Jesus and the Olivet Discourse, that is Mark 13. What was his view on the little apocalypse that Jesus gives in this chapter? Would he match up with my Preterist understanding or would he challenge it or would he fall somewhere in between?

Right off, any reader who is thinking he will affirm a view that is more in line with Left Behind will be sadly disappointed. In fact, that position is largely argued against in the footnotes. There really aren’t many people in the scholarly world, even those who are Christians, who take such a position any more. It’s largely also an American phenomenon.

I happened to agree with many of Stein’s viewpoints and interestingly, he places them in the context of historical Jesus studies not only showing what he thinks that they mean, but showing also how they fit in with the quest for the historical Jesus, which largely sought to remove much of the eschatology from Jesus or else totally redefine it with something that would fit in more with an Enlightenment point of view.

I also liked that he did say much of the discourse has to apply to 1st century Judea. It would not make sense otherwise and it would only apply to those who were living in Judea. There is no general command for all Christians to flee to the mountains. There is only the command to do so when you are in Jerusalem and you see what you will know as the abomination that causes desolation. (To which, his candidate for that is entirely plausible.)

I did disagree on some points. For instance, when it comes to the coming of the Son of Man, I do see that as a coming that is heavenly. It is the sign that Jesus has been vindicated. I base this largely on Daniel 7 where Jesus approaches the Ancient of Days. If He is doing that, then it is clear that He is going up. He is not coming down.

I also would have liked to have seen a bit more on the passage that no man knows the day or hour but only the Father. It would have been good to have seen how this would reflect the high Christology that Stein says is in Mark, especially when it says that the Son of Man will send forth His angels. (note the use of His.) This is indeed something the church would not have made up as it would be embarrassing, but how are Christians to understand it?

The book does have several helpful references in it including pointing out the hyperbole that is often used and the constant comparison to Old Testament language. If we are to understand Jesus, we must understand him in the cultural matrix He spoke in, which included a culture that was saturated with the Old Testament and the thinking of Second Temple Judaism. Much of our misunderstanding in eschatology comes because we do not make this distinction.

The points that I disagree with are not primary to eschatological understanding and overall, I agree with the bulk of Stein’s approach. I also find it interesting that he chooses Mark to focus on since so much of even the early church just didn’t seem to care too much for Mark. It’s good there is a scholar who does really appreciate this Gospel and wants to bring out all the gems we might have missed.

Therefore, if you want a good look at the eschatology of Jesus with some historical Jesus studies thrown in, I think this is one you should add to your library.

In Christ,

Nick Peters