Posts Tagged ‘eschatology’

Book Plunge: With The Clouds of Heaven

January 27, 2015

What do I think of James Hamilton Jr.’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

With The Clouds of Heaven

With The Clouds of Heaven is a look at Daniel and the role it plays in the whole of Scripture, which is indeed a major one. I got this book largely because I do have a great interest in eschatology being an orthodox Preterist. So how did it deliver?

I thought Hamilton’s start was excellent at the beginning talking about how we have an assumed background knowledge when we make a statement. This is what we call a high-context society and the social science studies of the NT world are starting to bring this out more. Hamilton uses the example that he started writing this after the Super Bowl in 2013 where the Baltimore Ravens won. No one needs to be told what the Super Bowl is and no one thinks Hamilton is talking about a bunch of birds in Baltimore. Even I who is absolutely clueless on football knows that. Hamilton gives an example of what he said at his church as the pastor (And might I say it’s wonderful to see a scholar being a pastor too). His church does not have Sunday evening services so in the morning he said during announcements:

Warren and Jody are opening their home this evening to all and sundry. Evidently, there’s something happening on television tonight, maybe you know the details, apparently some commercials are going to be aired. If you’d like to watch the proceedings with others from our congregation, you’re welcome to bring a bag of chips, a jar of salsa, or a two-litre to Warren and Jody’s house.

According to Hamilton, when it was said that something was happening on TV that evening, there were smirks and snickers. Nowhere in this do you see the terms “Super Bowl” or “football game”, but everyone understands. I could go further and say nowhere do you see explained what a two-litre is, and yet Hamilton’s audience no doubt understood this term even if a reader unfamiliar with the language would not. Hamilton is also certainly right that many such allusions like he has in the announcements at his church take place in Scripture. A snippet from somewhere can bring to mind a whole passage.

For example, how many of us could be watching a show and hear a saying like “The Prodigal son returns.” When we hear this, we’re supposed to bring to mind the whole of the prodigal son story. None of this needs to be explained. It’s assumed that even if you’re a non-Christian, if you live in a Western culture, you know at least that even if you don’t believe Scripture, what the story of the prodigal son is. You know it’s a story about a wayward son that comes back home.

I appreciate also Hamilton’s insistence that Daniel is rightly in the canon and that a date that is more traditional does matter. I do wish there had been more on this as he compared Daniel with other writings at the time to show that they relied on it and thus it would have been accepted instead of being something new, but it would have also been good to have seen archaeological evidence presented, such as it now looks like Belshazzar was a co-regent and that’s why Daniel was offered the third highest position in the Kingdom. A later writer would not have known this.

The writing on how Daniel is laid out is also very interesting. Hamilton points to several chiasms that take place in the book. It is truly a marvelous work of literature. He also looks at the four kingdoms. I found it interesting on how after Daniel’s explanation of the dream of the statue with the gold head, Nebuchadnezzar makes a whole statue of gold, as if to say that if he is the gold, then he will make sure he is treated like he deserves.

When we get into eschatology, I did not find the stance of Hamilton too clear and what I did find, I do disagree with. I do not think there is anything in Daniel, especially the ninth chapter, about an antichrist figure. I’m convinced that Scripture does not speak of an antichrist person as much as an antichrist attitude. In that, everyone is either for Christ or they are antichrist. It’s interesting that John is the only one who uses the word, and yet nowhere in Revelation do you find anyone described as the antichrist. I in fact think the abomination described in Daniel 9 is that the pure Son of God was crucified in Jerusalem. What happened in the Middle of the week? That was when Stephen was stoned. It’s noteworthy that when that happens, he says he sees the Son of Man (How often is Jesus called the Son of Man outside the Gospels) standing at the right hand of God. Why standing? Hebrews says He sat down. He’s standing because that’s what you do when you judge. Jesus is pronouncing judgment on the Jews who have now killed the first Christian martyr.

This affects how I also read the way Hamilton thinks the rest of the NT interprets Daniel. I do think the section is interesting as it is a contrary viewpoint as far as I’m concerned, but I just don’t find it convincing and I leave it to readers to see the data that Hamilton provides.

If you like to study eschatology, I do think this is an important book to read and there needs to be serious look at Daniel and not just about eschatology, but how it relates to all of us as a whole. While I disagree with a good deal of what Hamilton says, he has done his homework and that is commendable and I do think again, that a church with a pastor who is also a scholar is indeed blessed. If only more of our pastors would strive to be if not scholars, at least be scholarly, we would all be better off.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/24/2015: Dee Dee Warren

January 22, 2015

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

Often times, we can approach the topic of abortion without thinking about the person involved. This is somewhat understandable when we see statistics. Who of us could think about 4,000 individual babies dying every day? Who of us in turn could think about 4,000 individual mothers and fathers out there who to varying degrees are involved in the choice to end a life?

My guest this Saturday however is a reminder to me that we need to keep that personal aspect in. This Saturday, I am pleased to have Dee Dee Warren as my guest on the Deeper Waters Podcast.

DeeDeeWarren

DDW, as I normally call her, has been a friend of mine for several years. We first met through the medium of TheologyWeb.com, an online place to debate many issues, including apologetics issues as TheologyWeb has a number of atheists and non-Christians that post there, some of whom I understand even contribute financially to the site. It is a place that I think helped shape me tremendously in the work that I do today and I even have my own section on there now next to that of my ministry partner, J.P. Holding.

Some of you may also know DDW from her excellent work in eschatology. If you all want to know who was the main factor in turning me into an orthodox Preterist, look no further than DDW. DDW hosted the Preteristsite.com for several years and the Preterist Podcast and is the main force out there that i know of in dealing with Neohymenaeans. (Those who prefer to call themselves Full Preterists.) She has written also an excellent commentary on Matthew 24 that I understand will be published soon and yes, I hope to have her back on after that to discuss the apologetic value of the commentary.

But that is for another time. This time we are going to be talking about abortion and this is an issue DDW knows quite well and i would say she would encourage us all to do more about abortion than to just post something on Facebook. DDW knows how abortion affects real people and she has put in her service to help stop the act from taking place. I have heard her story on this issue and I found it one to be incredibly gripping and knew I needed to have her on.

Also, I plan on us discussing a more therapeutic side. How do we approach people who are considering abortion on a personal level? What if we meet people who have had abortions in the past? Are there any resources that are available to help them find grace and forgiveness? Not only that, but what about men? Believe it or not, men can suffer from abortion if they had their wives or girlfriends get one and realize later what they did. Men need healing too.

So I hope you’ll be watching your podcast feed for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I hope it will be a story that you will never forget.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/1/2014: David James

October 30, 2014

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

A few months back, my wife saw something on television where a book called “The Harbinger” was being discussed. That aroused my suspicion since I’d heard concerns about it from a friend of mine who came out of the occult. Around that same time, a former pastor of mine contacted me and said his church was asking him questions about it and asked if I had anything on it.

I went and got the book myself and wrote a review of it. After that, I decided to look online to see if anyone else had written a review and might have pointed out the errors. No need to reinvent the wheel. I was pleased to find someone had and he sent me his own book in response. As a preterist, I was surprised to find this was a futurist critique as well. I decided then to have him come on the show. His name is David James.

Dave 02 - 400x400

Who is he? In his own words:

David James has an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, a field in which he worked for five years.

After he and his wife were saved in 1984, they attended the Word of Life Bible Institute in the U.S. in 1985. The next year Dave then went to Dallas Theological Seminary where he received his master’s in biblical studies.

He and his family served with Word of Life for 21 years, with 16 of those years as missionaries in Hungary where Dave was the founding director of the Bible Institute, and later the associate country director.

In 2009 they returned to the United States to establish an apologetics and discernment ministry, The Alliance for Biblical Integrity.

As part of this ministry, Dave continues to teach for Word of Life nationally and internationally, as well as at other schools, churches and conferences. Besides teaching, he also does much writing, and weekly national radio interviews on important theological issues affecting the church.

In addition to The Alliance for Biblical Integrity, he works with the ministry of Prophecy Today, where he administers and teaches in a master’s and doctoral-level program in advanced eschatological studies.

He has been married to his wife Karen since 1980. They have two adult children who are married.

I have had a problem with much end times talk since so much of it relies on conspiracies and eisegesis of Scripture. Let it not be said I’m going to my fellow preterists on this one. With talk of blood moons and everything else being discussed these days, Christians need to not chase after the sensational in studying eschatology but need to rely on that which can be soundly backed.

I’m glad to have David James be my guest this Saturday to discuss this topic and hopefully it will clear up some confusion, especially since the author of the Harbinger has recently come out with another book that is already selling well in Christian bookstores. I hope that you will be listening to our show as well and watching your ITunes feed for it.

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

Book Plunge: The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?

September 1, 2014

What did I think of David James’s book responding to the Harbinger? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Most people who read my material know I am not a friend of dispensationalism. I consider it to be a belief that has zero Biblical support and think that orthodox Preterism awaiting the return of Jesus and the bodily resurrection is the true message of Scripture in regard to eschatology. This does not mean that dispensationalists are my enemy. I married one. (Although she does hope my view is the true one.) I have many friends who are of a futurist persuasion. 

Despite this, if I’m cruising around on Facebook and see some sensationalism on the walls of Christians friends, it usually has to do with end times. Just this past week, I’ve had to deal with the claim that Jesus said the name of the antichrist was Barack Obama (And I am no fan whatsoever of The Empty Suit) and that Obama is also planning to implant RFID chips in people which as we know just has to be the Mark of the Beast!

Unfortunately for the dispensational camp, the sensationalists usually do carry the day. Right now, one of the big items going around is Blood Moons. I still remember being in a Christian bookstore with an aged pastor talking to the clerk about wanting to read the book on it and about his excitement with “Biblical Prophecy.” 

Sadly, I’m sure books by N.T. Wright, Mike Licona, and William Lane Craig are being neglected while Christians read spiritual junk food.

Another big one in recent times was the Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn. Cahn is of the opinion that he saw a message from God that everyone else missed in the 9/11 attack and the following economic collapse and all of this was said to happen according to what was written in Isaiah 9:10. Of course, this is done by selective usage of facts and horrible Scriptural interpretation, but hey, details. Who needs them?

It’s natural that a Preterist like myself would condemn such a work.

It’s a breath of fresh air that a dispensationalist like David James does.

Yes. James’s book is definitely worthy of praise. James does not go in for any of this in the book. He has nothing against Cahn as a person, but he does think that Cahn’s idea of America being given a warning of judgment starting with 9/11 has no backing whatsoever. He does think that Cahn is right in that America needs to repent, and I do agree with that point, but the warning has not happened the way Cahn thinks it has.

Naturally, James and I disagree on a number of points. We could probably sign the same statements on the veracity of Scripture and of course, we would agree on the great creeds of the church. Each one of us has a viewpoint that falls within the realm of orthodoxy. Still, I would not agree with his view that much of prophecy is future with the rapture of the church coming and I would not agree with his views on Israel. (I also don’t care for the term “replacement theology.” I prefer the term “Grafting in theology.” God did not replace Israel. He expanded it beyond what it was to include people in all places, of all languages, and all cultures, and all times.)

That’s what makes it so wonderful. This isn’t a battle of dispensationalism vs. Preterism. This is good interpretation vs. bad interpretation. This is also a danger of getting into the sensational. In a private email with James, I even told him that as I was thinking about futurism, I decided to use Blood Moons as an example and said “Suppose for the sake of argument that these were true messages from God. So what?”

Seriously. So what?

Are we to say that if you knew Jesus Christ was going to return in say, a year, that you’d suddenly start living differently? Then you have a problem right now. If you are truly living a Biblical life, and to be fair none of us truly are definitively, then it should not matter to how you live your life really if you know Jesus will return tomorrow or if it will be 1,000 years from now. Your marching orders are still the same.

Fortunately with the Harbinger, James has done his research and he has done it very well. He looks at each and every piece of information given by the prophet in the story and shows how it doesn’t line up. He shows that Cahn is highly selective in the material that he chooses to presents and ignores quite often the historical, linguistic, and cultural context of the information. In many places, he is quite loose with the facts.

James also looks at Cahn’s behavior since the publishing of the Harbinger and how many times, while he denies being a prophet (And probably the son of a prophet) and denies that this is really a prophecy about America, his actions seem to say otherwise. There are many chances he’s had to clear it up naturally and it hasn’t been taken.

Also, later in the book, he shows Cahn is entering quite dangerous territory with using material that could be considered more occultic in nature, like the Zohar. While I have no problem with extra-biblical sources, I do think some can be quite dangerous at times not because of challenging ideas, but if there’s the possibility of the occult, we must be careful. Even if it is not so, Cahn gives a more dangerous spin as inspiration seems to play a role into what goes into the Zohar.

James also deals with the idea that America is a covenant people. As I have said, a covenant requires agreement by two parties. Anyone can stand up and say they’re in a covenant with God. It isn’t one until God returns the deal somehow. No one can force God to be in a covenant. He is the initiator of the covenant. 

Unfortunately, the sad reality is more people will read Cahn’s junk food than will read James’s antidote, and this is a shame. In our society, too many people only want to read or pay attention to that which agrees with their own conclusion and do not show any proper interaction with the other side. I am sure James’s character would also be attacked if more people knew about this book. (Well obviously, he’s just resisting the Holy Spirit.) Such is the way of thinking, or rather non-thinking, in our culture.

While I disagree with James ideologically, I find in this book he is entirely level-headed and not going for the sensationalist stuff that too many dispensationalists are and sadly, that group that is sensationalist becomes the group that most people perceive the whole as being like. I only wish there were more out there who were like James. While we disagree on many issues, our disagreements will focus more on Scripture than anything else. I urge dispensationalists, preterists, and everyone in between to read this book. If you know someone who has read the Harbinger, get them to read this one as well.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Apostles Creed: From There He Will Come

July 11, 2014

What does it mean to say that Jesus will come? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I hold to an eschatology that is preterist. That means that I believe a lot of fulfillment of prophecy is in the past. In fact, if you’re a Christian, so do you. You believe the Messianic prophecies have been for the most part fulfilled in Christ. I also hold that much of Revelation and the Olivet Discourse is also past.

So when it comes to the coming of Christ as it is stated in the Olivet Discourse, I don’t think this means coming to Earth, but rather coming to the throne of God and sitting at the right hand. Yet when it talks about coming from the throne, then I believe we are talking about a coming to Earth.

There is a viewpoint out there that is known often as full preterism or hyper-preterism. I prefer to call it Neohymenaeanism. Some people have asked me why I don’t call myself a partial preterist. The reason is because I believe the teaching of Neohymenaeanism is actually a heresy and if that’s what you call full preterism, I will not be considered a partial heretic.

I think the ultimate problem with the Neohymenaean position is not what it says about eschatology so much as what it says about Christ. Much of your study of the end times will revolve around the question of who you think Jesus is. We are told that our resurrection body will be like that of Jesus. If the resurrection is something spiritual, then that would mean that Jesus’s resurrection is just a spiritual resurrection as well. We’re into the territory of the Jehovah’s Witnesses with this one.

We can be told that Jesus is the exception, but that is not what I see in Scripture. I see instead that we shall be like Him and we shall be like Him when He comes. Since I hold to the bodily resurrection of Jesus, I hold also to the bodily transformation of those who are His when He returns.

Some of you might think that my holding an event to happen in the future makes me a partial-futurist. It does not. It makes me a Christian. The return of Christ has been a part of the Christian creeds, such as the one that we see here in the Apostles’ Creed. It is part of orthodoxy to believe in the return of Christ to put an ultimate end to the problem of evil.

Let’s also all be wary of one really foolish tendency that seems to exist among Christians. Do not attempt to date when the return of Christ will happen and if you believe in the rapture, don’t attempt to date that either. If you do so, you run the risk of embarrassing not just yourself, but the Christian faith.

Too many Christians have tried to find loopholes in what Jesus said. “Oh we won’t know the day or hour, but we can know the year!” This is just trying to do what Christ would not want us to do and this kind of energy could be better spent in other ways, such as fulfilling the Great Commission.

To which, if you ask me, that is how we speed the return of Christ. I find this based on the end of 2 Peter 3 that we live godly lives so we may speed His coming. Besides that, even if I’m wrong, we have our marching orders to do the Great Commission anyway so there’s no reason not to. Sounds like a good deal. We do what we’re supposed to do and if I’m right, well then we have the ultimate end of evil all the sooner.

Go out and be looking for the return of Christ, but don’t just look. Work also. You have your marching orders regardless of your eschatology. Do them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Harbinger

June 13, 2014

Is there a secret prophecy for America hidden in the Bible? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Jonathan Cahn’s book “The Harbinger” has been at the center of a lot of controversy, much like anything related to end times material is. Unfortunately, too much of it is highly sensationalistic, which is why some of Cahn’s greatest critics, such as David James, even come from the futurist camp. While I am an orthodox Preterist, I do think people from all eschatological persuasions should seek to avoid a work like the Harbinger.

So let’s dive in. It’s written as a work of fiction, but that is a loose term because fiction usually has some sort of story. The Harbinger does not really have one. Instead, it is a long conversation describing events that happen in the life of the main character as he enters into conversations with a “prophet.” We are not given any reason really why we should trust this prophet other than he seems to appear at various places and speaks in esoteric language and knows the main characters name. (Not much of an accomplishment in the age of the internet)

A little warning. This book is highly recommended if you struggle with insomnia. It is a human tranquilizer that can knock you out quick and I could hardly wait to get done with it. It tries to present what it believes is true as a story much like the Da Vinci Code did, but while the Da Vinci Code had terribly hideous history in it, it at least had an actual story.

The main character is a reporter named Nouriel who apparently is so dumb in needing to have everything spelled out for him that the staff of the Daily Planet, who can’t figure out that Clark Kent in their midst is Superman when all he does is take off his glasses, look like brilliant geniuses by comparison. It’s a wonder any publishing entity ever hired this guy to be a reporter.

The reader will also find constant repetition. As Nouriel relates his story to the lady he’s sharing it with in the story, you get the idea repeatedly of “No way!” “Really?!” “Wow!” Again, the book is a tranquilizer. Take it if you want to sleep at night. Could be the best night’s sleep you ever have.

But now, let’s get to the so-called content.

Apparently, there is a hidden prophecy to America in the Bible. Where is it? It’s in Isaiah 9:8-10

“8 The Lord sends a message against Jacob,
And it falls on Israel.
9 And all the people know it,
That is, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria,
Asserting in pride and in arrogance of heart:
10 “The bricks have fallen down,
But we will rebuild with smooth stones;
The sycamores have been cut down,
But we will replace them with cedars.”

You see it. Right?

I don’t either.

But Cahn is convinced that it is there!

So let’s start at the beginning. First off, this passage is addressed to Jacob. That means Israel. It does not say anything about America. It is strange that those who insist that we take a text “literally” always want to ignore the parts that are not literal whenever it suits the theory. The rules are always changing in this style. It is one reason I hold to a Preterist hermeneutic. I find it much more consistent.

So what was the beginning of this message anyway? It was that America needs to repent. No Christian should disagree with Cahn on this point. America does need to repent. Could we be judged by God? Absolutely. Have we been? I am not going to go so far to say that. I am not a prophet and consider it dangerous and foolish to speak as one. I prefer the words of a real prophet. That would be Jesus in Luke 13 and say we should all repent unless we perish.

The warning that we were given was 9/11. Cahn finds much symbolism here, but let’s compare and see how “literal” his interpretation is. For instance, I went here and I found no mention of bricks being used in the WTC. I have found some sources say brick terracotta was used, but we know the building was for the most part built of steel. Is there a plan to rebuild and make a new tower? Yes, but despite what the prophecy says, it is not to be done with smooth stones.

Cahn finds this all important because Israel was in a covenant nation and he says that America has broken covenant with God. How so? Well we saw ourselves as the new Israel when we established America and believed God had a purpose for establishing America.

Let’s grant all of that. That does not equate us being in a covenant any more than Alexander the Great using Greece to unite the world to prepare the way for Christianity meant that Greece was in a covenant relationship with YHWH. By this standard, if a Mormon temple is dedicated to God, then that must mean that God is in a covenant relationship with the Mormons as well.

Cahn also sees this as a vow that we have broken to God and violated our covenant so he dropped the hedge of protection around us. I kept wondering throughout this then why does Cahn have this Americentrism? Does he think other nations have not tried to please YHWH in the past? Does he think most of Europe has just been filled with atheists and pagans throughout its history? What about nations that are Christian and do suffer? Is this a warning for them? Why think America has this hedge of protection? Especially since we have had past events of greater magnitude such as the War of 1812, the Civil War, and while not of greater magnitude I’d necessarily say but of great magnitude, the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

Cahn also sees Al-Qaeda as the descendants of Assyria, who he says are the original terrorists and just like Assyria performed acts of terrorism on Israel, so Al-Qaeda today is performing acts of terrorism on America. We are in the same situation. Of course, we don’t have Assyrians coming through and building siege ramps and ripping open pregnant women and such but hey, details. Who needs them?

Cahn then gets us to the sycamores. Apparently when the WTC towers fell, a sycamore was knocked down. This sycamore was then replaced with a cedar. Well there you have it. The sycamores have fallen and we will rebuild them with cedars.

Never mind that this is one tree that fell. Never mind that the text has it in the plural for Israel and never mind that there was a totally different purpose for the building. Even the prophet in the Harbinger says there is nothing wrong with wanting to rebuild, but that America was doing so with pride.

Now of course, I do not deny that we have much pride and too many of us did not use a good opportunity to call our nation to further repentance when the towers fell. While suffering is not a sign that God is punishing us, it never hurts to examine ourselves and see how we are living.

Cahn also stresses the idea of a vow. He tells us that several politicians were in fact quoting this passage of Scripture after 9/11 and using it to say that we would rebuild. What does this tell us? It tells us that politicians are terrible at exegesis. (This isn’t a shock. Most of us are still waiting to find out what it is that they are good at.)

Most likely scenario? Someone did a search on something like Biblegateway.com and looked up the word “rebuild” and found the first reference they thought applied and decided to go with that. Then like a meme on the internet, when one person says it, everyone else starts copying it.

Yet every time that someone says we will rebuild, the prophet takes that as if it was a vow made to God that we will be held accountable for. The original prophecy itself does not describe itself as a vow. (Keep in mind the rule. The prophecy is literal when it fits the theory. Where it does not fit, you can throw in whatever you need to make it fit. If you have to change the meaning of what a vow is, then change the meaning! We have a scenario that the facts must fit!)

The prophet also tells us that our economic judgment taking place 7 years afterwards is a result of this judgment and ties it in to Sabbath festivals, because, you know, America can always be expected to be judged by Sabbath festivals. It’s at this point that I see more and more difference. Israel had actual prophets coming and telling them about specific events and warning them. We do not. Of course, Cahn could be wanting to see himself as a prophet. If so, God have mercy on him because there is a strict punishment for if a prophet gets a prophecy wrong.

It’s hard to think of all of this as a judgment on America when no one would have thought anything so bizarre as picking a random text out of Isaiah and going through it and only it and making your whole view out of that text. While America does need to repent, something I agree totally with Cahn on, there are much better usages of prophecy, such as pointing to the coming of Christ the first time and defending His resurrection. If only Christians were as interested in defending that and learning about that as they were about end-times hysteria and blood moons!

Of course, if a Christian is interested in eschatology and having a strong position on the end times, that is just fine, but if you know your version of the end times forwards and backwards and can chart out the book of Revelation perfectly, but have no clue how to defend the resurrection of Jesus or to tell what the impact of it is, there is something wrong with your thinking.

In the end, books like the Harbinger will only serve to further embarrass Christians as people who buy into sensationalism with an Americentric outlook and draw us away from the areas of study that matter most to us, such as the historical Jesus, His resurrection, and the Kingdom of God. It fits more into our mindset that we are super important and the Bible is just all about us and written to us in our time and place and is to be read like a modern document. It’s a shame that those who love Scripture are so excited about this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

End Times Hopscotch

January 27, 2014

Are we really reading the passages the way they were meant to be read? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I was asked to reply to a video found here. I think it is important to respond to such videos because frankly, the end times can be scary for a lot of people. When I was a pre-trib, pre-mill dispensationalist, I found it frightening also. Yeah. It’s kind of neat thinking the rapture can happen at any time, but kind of frightening too, and what about all those people left behind? What about all the destruction to come on the Earth? What about the antichrist?

With movies like “Devil’s Due” coming out, we can be sure end times mania is not far from people’s minds. That and I understand that a remake of Left Behind is in the works. It can hardly be the case that a ruler in the Middle East will sneeze without prophecy experts showing up immediately. Unfortunately, these experts have a great track record of being wrong as J.P. Holding of Tektonics shows in this video and in this video.

This is also why I think it’s important that people get their bearings straight on eschatology. Even if you come from a different view than I, at least know what you believe. That way, you won’t be able to be blown around by everyone who comes along with a new interpretation.

So let’s look at this video that I’m writing about together.

The video starts early saying not many people know what the Bible says about the second coming of Jesus Christ and therefore, they are in danger of being deceived.

As an orthodox Preterist, I think too many already are unfortunately. A first century event has been turned into an event sometime to occur in the distant distant future. Now some people hearing me identify myself as a Preterist might wonder what I’m talking about. For that, I recommend that you go here and here. I’m sure the makers of this video will count me as one deceived. Oh well if they do. In order to do so, they will need to address my criticisms.

Next we are told that on the day Jesus returns, there will be a polar reversal. What I’m wondering immediately at this is not about the polar reversal (Although I am wondering what passage of Scripture says this), but rather about that word “return.” Are we talking about the second coming or return? Are these one and the same?

This is a problem I have with futurists often. What do the words mean? Does the rapture count as a coming? Is it maybe a half coming since Jesus never fully comes to Earth supposedly but just appears? If this is a return, then is it the event described in Matthew 24? If so, then that leads to even more concerns. Paul ties in the return of Jesus with a mass resurrection in 1 Thess. 4 and in 1 Cor. 15. Nowhere in Matthew 24, Mark 13, or Luke 21 do we read anything about a resurrection. Why would Jesus not mention that and that be the main event Paul mentions?

According to the video, Isaiah 24:20 says “the Earth will shatter and crack and split open. The earth will stagger like a drunk, and sway like a hut in a storm. The world is weighed down by its sins. It will collapse and never rise again.” Immediately after this, the speaker jumps to Revelation 6:12.

Shouldn’t we finish looking at Isaiah 24 first?

You see, this is what I call Biblical hopscotch. You take one passage here and then hop over to another passage and then hop to one more passage never staying in any book for long to get a real taste of it. Imagine going to a restaurant and going to a buffet line and just taking a little piece of so many foods but never really sitting down and enjoying a meal. That’s the kind of picture that is taking place here.

So the futurists I meet are all about taking the text “literally” (A term that is highly misunderstood and as I show here led to disaster for the opponents of Jesus. Most people don’t understand that literally really means “According to the intent of the author.”

The video wants to move past Isaiah 24. I don’t. If we take it literally, then what happens? The earth is split. The text says cracked and shattered as well. And yet, somehow, the Earth supposedly has remained in one piece. Well maybe it’s not that literal…..

It’s literal except for the times that it contradicts the theory apparently, and then it’s not literal.

What’s going on is that the prophet Isaiah is giving descriptions of judgments on the nations around Israel. The language is apocalyptic to describe in cosmic terms the political events that will take place. An example of this is Isaiah 13.

9 See, the day of the Lord is coming
—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
to make the land desolate
and destroy the sinners within it.
10 The stars of heaven and their constellations
will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened
and the moon will not give its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil,
the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people scarcer than pure gold,
more rare than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble;
and the earth will shake from its place
at the wrath of the Lord Almighty,
in the day of his burning anger.

This sounds to many people like the end of the world. It’s not. It’s judgment on Babylon. Some readers might be thinking “Well obviously, Isaiah is talking about a Babylon that will show up in the far far distant future.” Why think that? Israel was concerned about Babylon then and this can show a fulfillment.

In Isaiah 23 we start to hear about the destruction of Tyre. Why think the prophet will suddenly interrupt this to talk about the world being destroyed? Listening to many of these end-times experts, you’d think the only time on Earth that the prophets were concerned about was a distant time when followers of YHWH supposedly won’t even be on Earth! (Save for “tribulation saints.”)

And besides, if the Earth is never to rise again, then how can it be that Christ will rule on the Earth? Is Christ going to rule over ruins? I thought His Kingdom was supposed to be a glorious Kingdom!

Once again, if you read it in a wooden sense, it cannot be consistent.

So let’s go on to Revelation 6.

In the NIV, the passage cited reads “12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.”

We’re given a detailed scientific account of what’s supposed to happen. Okay. I’m not a scientist. I can’t comment on that. Savvy readers who are skilled in the sciences are welcome to leave a comment about the matter. I am sure of this point.

If one star were to fall and hit the Earth, we would be doomed. I’m also quite sure that if the sun turned black, we wouldn’t be able to see the moon at all to tell what color it is.

The speaker goes to Psalm 97:5 that says the mountains melted like wax before the presence of the Lord to illustrate this.

Little problem there. Psalm 97 has everything in present tense. It is describing realities going on right now. The point is not global upheaval. The point is that all creation is to submit to the ruler YHWH. If the way the video reads the Psalm is the way we are to read it, then Psalm 98:8 will be an exciting time when the rivers clap their hands and the mountains sing for joy.

Okay. That would be a cool video to see.

Now we jump to Revelation 16:20 which says that every island fled away and the mountains were not found. Then there’s an immediate jump back to Revelation 6:15.

Exactly how are we to read the book of Revelation? Can we just jump wherever we want to and apply it in whatever method we want to?

Interestingly, 6:15 speaks of evil people who go to the mountains and ask them to hide them from He who sits on the throne and the wrath of the lamb.

You know, those mountains that the video just said had crumbled and the ones that Revelation 6 says were removed from their place prior….

Yeah. I don’t get it either.

The video then tells us that the global earthquake will cause every building to fall. Isaiah 30:25 calls it the day of the great slaughter.

Really?

What else does Isaiah 30 say?

Well actually, it’s not a prophecy of destruction at all!

“23 He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. 25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.”

Note that it says the land will be rich and plentiful. We are told streams will flow on every mountain (Those mountains that had either crumbled or been removed) and every lofty hill. The moon will shine like the sun! (The moon that was supposed to be blood red and the sun that was supposed to be dark) and the sun will be seven times brighter. (Yes. That dark sun will be seven times brighter.)

And you know, if this was really a time of great blessing, it would not be a blessing for the sun to be seven times brighter in a wooden sense.

And what’s going to happen? God will heal his people. This is not judgment! Unfortunately, too many people will just hear what the vid says and not really look up the references. Understandable unfortunately, but a mistake.

Next, it’s back to Revelation 16:21 and hailstones about 100 pounds each falling.

So apparently in this time of great prosperity for God’s people, there will be giant hailstones falling on the Earth. Seriously. On what grounds does one have the right to jump from Isaiah 30 and suddenly go back to Revelation 16 like this?

Okay. Now we move on to Matthew 24:30 with the sign of the Son of Man appearing in the heavens. Every one will see him and He will come on the clouds. The video also goes to Revelation 1:7 saying everyone will see Him, even those who have pierced Him.

All of whom, by the way, are dead now….

And let’s talk a little bit about coming and clouds. These are words of judgment as well which show that the deity is acting. In 2 Samuel 22, David describes a past event and says

“7 “In my distress I called to the Lord;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears.
8 The earth trembled and quaked,
the foundations of the heavens shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
9 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
10 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the Lord,
at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

Notice that David is talking about a past event, but read through the books of Samuel and you will not find this literally taking place. You will not find God hitching up his angels to go on a ride and shoot arrows at the bad guys. What will you find? David’s enemies regularly got judged, and often through natural means. But for the ancients, the deity (or deities) were involved in everything. Notice also the language David uses. He speaks about the Earth shaking and the foundations of the heavens trembling. This is language of destruction, but we have no record of a great earthquake in the lifetime of David.

We see the language of coming in Exodus 3

“7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.”

God has come to rescue His people? But God Himself didn’t show up in Egypt. It was Moses who showed up and performed the works of God.

And in Matthew 26:64, Jesus says this to the high priest at his trial.

““You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.””

Note what Jesus says. From now on, Caiaphas will see this. This is not a one-time future event. This is going to be a continuous event. Note also that Jesus will be coming and at the same time, sitting at the right hand. How is this possible, unless coming is a way of saying that Jesus will be judging! This court that has convened to judge Jesus will actually be judged by Jesus. Caiaphas himself will see this.

So either, this has happened, or else Jesus gave a false prophecy. Your choice.

And in Revelation 2:5, we read this to the church in Ephesus.

“Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

So if this church does not get its act right, the second coming will take place?

Now of course, the video goes to 1 Thess. 4 and we hear about the rapture. Therefore I am once again wondering about the viewpoint of the video. Are they post-tribulational? Are they mid-trib? Yet they say the Christians will be saved from this terrible wrath. How can that be if this wrath has already started and the Earth is reeling, which is necessary since they say this is how every eye will see Jesus? Again, I am confused.

And as for meeting him in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord, does that mean we are always going to be remaining in the air? Once again, the text is to be taken literally, except for when it is not to be taken literally.

The video also goes to 1 Cor. 15 yet my question still remains, where in Matthew 24, Mark 13, or Luke 21 do we see this resurrection take place? Why did Jesus leave out such an important detail?

The video then says that we will all be gathered with the Lord to defend Israel. (Kind of odd that Jesus leaves out that bit too about defending Israel. Kind of odd especially since passages like Matthew 24 actually describe judgment on Israel and not a hint of deliverance. In fact, Christians are told to flee Israel at that time.) The text jumped to for this is Rev. 19 and Zech. 14:4.

We’re told Jesus and His army, notably us, go out to wage war against the many arab nations and the antichrist, that figure who has not been spoken about this time, but is apparently enjoying a successful career reigning where every building has been destroyed! Apparently, all these tanks of the enemy are going to fight just fine despite the sun being darkened.

We go to Joel 3:16 for this one.

“The Lord will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem;
the earth and the heavens will tremble.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.”

What is going on in Joel? Well, we’re not told. Joel is a difficult book to date. Some date it to the 6th century. Some date it to the 9th. It does describe present realities going on and an army that God will defend His people from. Note however what is said in verse 18.

“In that day the mountains will drip new wine,
and the hills will flow with milk;
all the ravines of Judah will run with water.
A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house
and will water the valley of acacias.”

Those mountains again. They’ve been destroyed and they’ve been removed both, but now they’re going to drip wine. Let’s hope this doesn’t interrupt the singing they’re supposed to do in Psalm 98.

We go back to Rev. 19 long enough to hear we’re riding on white horses and dressed in some fine white linen. (Note that Rev. 19:8 says that fine linen stands for righteous acts of God’s people. I mean, yeah, the text explicitly tells you that the term it uses just a few verses later is symbolism but hey, details, who needs them?) From there we jump back AGAIN to Joel 2 and start at verse 4.

4 They have the appearance of horses;
they gallop along like cavalry.
5 With a noise like that of chariots
they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
every face turns pale.
7 They charge like warriors;
they scale walls like soldiers.
They all march in line,
not swerving from their course.
8 They do not jostle each other;
each marches straight ahead.
They plunge through defenses
without breaking ranks.
9 They rush upon the city;
they run along the wall.
They climb into the houses;
like thieves they enter through the windows.
10 Before them the earth shakes,
the heavens tremble,
the sun and moon are darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
11 The Lord thunders
at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
and mighty is the army that obeys his command.
The day of the Lord is great;
it is dreadful.
Who can endure it?

Now some of you might have caught on to that I look at the whole context and figured “Aha! I have you now! Look at what is said in verse 2!

” a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.”

Never was in ancient times and never will be in ages to come! This must be a grand climatic final battle!

Well, no.

For one thing, the author assumes history will keep going because there is a time after when this will supposedly never be again.

But this is typical hyperbolic language. If you’re going this way, you have some problems. For one thing, consider 1 Kings 3:12 when this is said to Solomon.

“I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”

So realize what this means! By this interpretation, Solomon was wiser than Jesus was. Do you want to say that?

For another example, look at 2 Kings 18:5

“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.”

Wow. No king like him before or after. (Did Hezekiah trust in God more than Jesus did?)

Yet in 2 Kings 23:25 we read

“Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.”

So did the writer of Kings totally forget about Hezekiah who he wrote about just a few pages earlier, or is this just hyperbolic language used to describe a great event?

In 2 Chronicles 30:26 we read about Hezekiah’s Passover that

“There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.”

Yet in 2 Kings 23:22 we read about Josiah’s Passover that

“Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed.”

The same situation is being described. It’s hyperbolic language.

So what about the rest of the passage?

Noteworthy is the sun and moon are darkened and the stars no longer shine. Will they make up their minds what they’re going to do? If Isaiah 30 had been taken in its full context, the sun would be seven times brighter. Now it’s no longer shining. Did it burn itself out or something? The stars will no longer shine? I thought they had all fallen earlier! What’s going on?

And heck, I think it’d be pretty sweet to see armies of horses entering buildings through windows! Why can’t I see a vid of that?

The vid goes on to talk about the antichrist and his mark and false miracles and the Lake of Fire. (And apparently, this army is advancing just fine despite the sun being dark.) And hey, at least this video gives us a really cool fire-breathing Jesus!

So what’s the next passage in this vid? Ezekiel 39:6. It reads “I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.”

Well isn’t that special?

Let’s see what else the text says!

Speaking to Gog, the villain in the passage, we hear that

“3 Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. 4 On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. 5 You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. 6 I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.”

So apparently, this army of the future will be fighting with bows and arrows. They will also fall on the mountains of Israel. (Will those mountains again decide what it is that they’re exactly doing? Are they crumbling? Are they being removed? Are they singing?) The animals and carrion birds will eat the armies as food. (Because those animals will surely survive well in a devastated wasteland where they can’t see because there are no lights in the sky shining.)

Then in verse 9 we read

“Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up—the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. ”

So these wooden weapons will be burnt and used for fuel. Sure, the vid shows tanks and not shields and clubs and spears but hey, details. Who needs them?

Hopscotch continues with Revelation 20 and the binding of satan. So satan, a spiritual being, is being bound with a chain and locked up somewhere. Once again, the language is meant to be metaphorical and it’s important to note it doesn’t take the Son of God to defeat the devil. One angel can do it. The great power raised up against God can be dealt with by one angel. (Empowered by God of course)

Then we go to Matthew 25 and the parable of the sheep and the goats. The problem with a passage like this being used is that it leads to a works salvation when not understood properly. The reality is that these good deeds are not done to obtain salvation. They are done because one already has salvation. Such misuses have produced unnecessary fear in the hearts of Christians who simply want to know they are in the right with God.

I have seen a longer version of this vid where there is an ending with a message of salvation. That’s important to have, but still lacking. It ends with a “Sinner’s prayer” and then says go find a good born-again church. (If you’re a new Christian, how are you to know what that is?) Our churches today unfortunately stress highly the concept of having conversions. They do not stress discipleship.

And besides, I’m concerned that this focus of evangelism will only work if you already accept the premise that the Bible is true. If you don’t, it’s just fearmongering. The apostles went a different route. They said Jesus is the risen Lord and King of the universe. Caesar is not! Get in line!

How much better off we’d be if we got that message instead?

What can be learned from this. Always check the context! We’ve found a great game of hopscotch going on in the biblical text, but the interpretations just do not hold up. There has not been given a methodology whereby we are to know how one is to apply which text where and listening to this kind of material, you’d think the only time the prophets were interested in talking about was this time in the future.

I am increasingly concerned more and more with a church that is caught in Last Days Madness, but is not growing in the knowledge of who Christ is and learning what it means to say Jesus is the resurrected Lord or learning more about their Bibles and how they have been handed down. Christians today often cannot defend the resurrection of the Lord, the central foundation of the faith, but they can sure bring out their charts and graphs to explain the end times!

Unfortunately, videos like this just add to the hype and in my opinion, increase the biblical ignorance. The Bible is a rich literary work that needs to be read in its proper context. When we treat it like a document written in our way of speaking, we do it, and its divine author, a disservice.

Keep in mind that in this post, I have certainly not disproved a futurist or dispensational approach. I disagree with those, but that is not my intent here. My intent is simply to show that I think a sort of sloppy reading of the text has taken place. Such reading has had a history of producing apostates of the faith who still insist other Christians read in a wooden literal sense. Let us seek to return to treasuring the Bible as the rich work that it is and realize understanding it is not a simplistic approach, but a difficult one that will require our time and effort.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Rest of Life

January 8, 2014

therestoflife

What do I think of Witherington’s work on life in the kingdom? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Ben Witherington certainly is one of the greatest biblical minds out there and in looking through his books, I was intrigued to find one called “The Rest of Life.” In it, Witherington deals with issues not normally talked about explicitly in sermons and how they relate to the Kingdom. We are often told that we are to work hard at what we do, but are we told that we need to play? Witherington says we do. We are told we need to sleep, but what about rest, which Witherington says is different? How is it that we are to study? What about eating and drinking? And of course, we are told about sexual ethics at times, but do we have anything on the role of sex in the kingdom?

(Okay. Now with that last one I know I got the attention of every guy reading this blog.)

It is amazing we have so little on these when they so much dominate our time. Americans live a life where we can easily get enough food to satisfy us. How ought we to live in response? We have several entertainment options before us. Is it wrong for us to take the time to play when we could spend that time “serving the Lord” or “Doing Bible study”? What role does sex play in the kingdom of God, especially if there will be no need of it in eternity?

Witherington takes us through each of these kinds of areas and in the end of each writing, I definitely had a greater sense of how I wanted to live my life in response and take them more seriously. It is amazing that for so many of us in years of theological study, we never really take the time to consider the concepts of activities that we like to do every day.

For instance, let’s consider play. I have been a regular gamer all my life and is there any place for that in being a devout Christian? Absolutely. Play gives us a chance to unwind and release a lot of tensions. Of course, like anything else, done excessively it is a problem, but play is also pointing to the full realization of the Kingdom. It is pointing to a time where we do not have to worry about the world. We can enjoy something in the moment itself.

What about sex? Witherington certainly deals with the myth that many people have bought into about Christianity (Including people like Carrier) that for Christians, sex is only about procreation. Witherington tells us that it is also for the purposes of unity and pleasure, but any sexual relations for a Christian will be in a relationship that all things being equal, would be capable of reproducing were everything in full working order. He also shows us that this is in the context of marriage and that sex is not simply a physical act but an act meant to unify persons together in a bond of unity.

People who read The Rest of Life will be blessed for it. It will enable your life activities to be seen in a whole new perspective. Also, the chapters will work great if you want to read them in a small group setting or a church setting and have them be open for discussion.

And I have no doubt our churches would be blessed if we read more of Ben Witherington and others like him and far less of people like Joel O’Steen.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why I Call Myself A Preterist

March 6, 2013

Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say I’m a Partial Preterist? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Yesterday, after writing a review of Ehrman’s “Jesus — Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium”, I got a number of requests on Facebook. To be precise, four friends asked me about my view and were asking me “So are you a Full Preterist?” or “Why don’t you call yourself a Partial Preterist?”

I had planned to write about why I hold the eschatological view that I hold today, but I wish instead to write first about why I call myself what I call myself.

I suspect most of my readers are likely futurists. I have nothing against futurists. I’m married to one. I just think futurism is wrong. It is still well within Christian orthodoxy. Futurism basically thinks that much of prophecy is yet to be fulfilled seeing great significance in Israel coming back as a nation and looking for a third temple, a reign of antichrist, a great tribulation, etc.

Preterism on the other hand refers to past fulfillment. We believe the majority of prophecy has been fulfilled in the coming of Christ and is being fulfilled right now. Just last night I was discussing this with someone who started telling me “Assuming Revelation is linear” to which I said “I don’t assume that.” I happen to see Revelation as cyclical, the same story is told over and over and in grander tones each time.

I was asked “Do you believe in a great tribulation?” I responded that I did and when asked when I thought it might be, pointed back to the destruction of Jerusalem. Now of course, we who are Preterists can interpret passages differently. My view of Revelation might not be held by all. Yet what we have in common is we see much has happened, particularly in 70 A.D. The Olivet Discourse with the saying of “This generation” was an accurate prophecy.

Note at this point I am just explaining the view. I am not defending it. What we all look forward to still is the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked and to the bodily return of Jesus. That does not make us partial futurists. That makes us Christians. The creeds tell us that we look forward to the return of Christ and the resurrection.

There are people out there that call themselves Full Preterist, True Preterists, or just Preterists. I prefer to call them “Neo-Hymenaeans.” These people think there is no future resurrection, we’re in our new bodies now, and there is no future return of Jesus physically. My friend DeeDee Warren at the Preteristsite.com has the best material in dealing with this group that is a full heresy.

That’s not just my opinion. Look at the quote she has from Neo-Hymenaean David Green on her site. (Note that for Green, Preterists like myself are considered futurists since we believe some things are future.) Green’s quote is as follows:

“Keith Mathison was correct on this point: If futurism is true, then [full] preterism is definitely (not “possibly,” as I said) a damnable doctrine.”

I happen to agree with him. This view is heretical.

So why not call myself a Partial Preterist?

Because if Preterism is used to describe a heresy, why would I want to call myself a partial heretic? You might as well consider being a partial modalist or a partial Arian. I am not partially a heretic in any way. I am entirely orthodox.

Thus, I prefer to call myself simply an orthodox Preterist. I hold a view that is within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy believing all the essentials of the faith. I refuse to let the name of the view that I hold in eschatology be tarnished by people I consider heretics. The name “Preterist” means something to me and I will not let someone else control the words.

I hope that is enough to explain to people why I call myself what I do. Now why do I hold the view I do? That is another question and one that we will discuss another time, maybe even tomorrow.

In Christ,
Nick Peters