Posts Tagged ‘futurism’

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 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: 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

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

Book Plunge: Jesus – Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium

March 5, 2013

Did Jesus fail at prophecy? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Just yesterday, I finished reading Bart Ehrman’s “Jesus – Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.” Before I had even started the book, I made a prediction on Facebook. I predicted, as an orthodox Preterist, that not once would Ehrman mention Preterism in his book.

Turns out, I was right.

Makes me wish I’d made a bet with someone….

Honestly, I don’t even think he mentioned dispensationalism or any form of futurism by name. Christian eschatological systems were absent, which is quite odd. It’s why I found this book to be quite a mixed bag. Of course, there’s the usual material about historical methodology, which is fine, but yet while there was much talk about apocalyptic thinking, there was not much looking at apocalyptic thinking.

At the start, Ehrman wants to paint a string of predictions from our time down to Christianity. He first starts with Edgar Whisenant and then Hal Lindsey. Next we go to the Millerites. Then, it’s Joachim of Fiore around 1200. After that, Montanus at the end of the second century. From this, Ehrman concludes every generation has had its own apocalyptic visionary.

Could be, but looking at such a sparse sample in 2,000 years does not show it. It gives the impression that Ehrman has looked at a sparse sample and made a strong conclusion based on it. Of course, his case could be correct still, but the problem is that there was not sufficient evidence given.

Of course, for Ehrman, the first examples of this were Jesus and Paul. So does he make that case well?

Before making his case, Ehrman wants to tell us about the historical method and how he studies the text. It’s at this point that those who read Ehrman frequently, like I do, start to hear repetition going on. If you have read one Ehrman book, you have read all of them essentially. You’ll find the same themes and the same arguments, a number of times they’re even quoted verbatim. (I checked. pages 114-115 quote much of page 241 in the third edition of his NT introduction word for word. Of course, it could be I’m just mistaken and both times he copied from an E document….)

Of course, when reading a book like this, it’s important to note the concessions he makes that most internet atheists would run in terror from. For instance, on page 22, he says the best sources, of course, are those nearest the time of Jesus Himself.” He then says “It turns out, as I’ll show later, that the oldest narrative accounts happen to be the four Gospels of the New Testament.”

Interestingly, when talking about the authorship of the NT, he says on page 43 that the tradition from Papias needs to be considered seriously. Apparently, it wasn’t serious enough that students reading the NT introduction needed to consider it. Ehrman also makes the statement about how Eusebius thought Papias was a man of exceedingly small intelligence, not mentioning that Eusebius said this because of Papias’s views on eschatology.

Ehrman tells us the testimony is 100 years later and looks suspicious. Why? We are told that Irenaeus would want apostolic origins for the gospels. Then why have Matthew, Mark and Luke? Matthew was an apostle, but he certainly wasn’t the most famous one of all! If you’re making up an apostolic name, why not Peter or James? Why would you have Mark be the author of a text instead of just saying Peter? Why would you choose Luke?

And of course, a more fundamental question, when is the source for the claim that Plutarch wrote the works of Plutarch? For all of Ehrman’s suspicions, it is appropriate to just ask the question of other historical accounts of the time that we accept on much less evidence.

Ehrman makes the claim about bias we’ve seen often. On page 89 we read, “Whenever you isolate an author’s biases, you can take them into account when considering his report. That is to say, statements supporting his bias should then be taken with a pound of salt (not necessarily discarded, but scrutinized carefully.)”

Can I not look at this and claim “I’ve seen Ehrman’s bias. He’s a non-Christian wanting to argue for the unreliability of the biblical account. Therefore, I should take his claims with a pound of salt.” Of course, someone could take the same approach with a Christian author. My contention at this point is simply that bias is often an excuse.

Bias can make people color reports, but it can also lead to increased accuracy. Holocaust museums ran by Jews are quite accurate. Does anyone want to deny that they have a bias? Is there any doubt the NT authors had a bias? None whatsoever. Yet how does that lead to the conclusion they would make inaccurate reports? It’s just as arguable that they would realize the importance of their mission and how essential the claims were and want to make doubly sure they were accurate.

On page 195, Ehrman writes that “For events in the ancient world, even events of Earth-shattering importance, there is sometimes scant evidence to go on.” He had earlier said on page 57 that the eruption of Vesuvius was only mentioned by one author. Unsaid is that that was an off-the-cuff remark even. The purpose of the writing was not really to tell about the eruption. If this is the case, what’s the big deal with no one mentioned an empire-wide census on page 39?

When he talks about apocalypticism, he does make the case that I would make in many instances. We need to talk Jesus’s claims about a kingdom coming seriously. We need to realize what he was doing with the sermon on the mount and with miracles. We need to realize that he was showing what the kingdom of God would be like.

The problem is that Ehrman dances all around the edges without really considering what he’s arguing. For him, the end of the world did not come and the kingdom supposedly did not come and so Jesus was wrong.

If Jesus had been thinking about the end of the world, it is a wonder why he would tell people in the Olivet Discourse to flee. If the world is coming to an end, there is really not much place to flee to. Ehrman’s problem is the same one he had as a fundamentalist. Actually, he’s still a fundamentalist which is the problem. He is taking the text literally. He is assuming there must be a grand cataclysmic judgment. (Although to be fair, there was. It was the destruction of the temple, something unbelievably huge for the time.)

Could it be the Kingdom came and Ehrman didn’t realize it?

Could it be that the spreading of the Christian gospel and the name of Jesus being spread through all the Earth is the Kingdom coming? Could it be billions of people on Earth proclaiming that Jesus is Lord is showing that He is king? Could it be that the Kingdom is indeed growing as a mustard seed?

Ehrman has the same problem as he often does. He does not interact with contrary ideas. He has instead made a weak case that only depends on a literal interpretation of the text and therefore says that the case is made.

My Preterist self is not convinced.

Frankly, I’m enjoying being part of the Kingdom and especially love seeing that it demonstrates that Jesus was right.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Note: We will be discussing this book 3-5 EST on Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast. Why not join in? http://www.cyiworldwide.com/deeper-waters.html

Book Plunge: The Destruction of Jerusalem

January 8, 2013

What hath 70 A.D. to do with Christianity? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Awhile back I posted on Jehovah’s Witnesses and Doomsday and stated that I am an orthodox Preterist in that post. What that means I believe that much of prophecy has been fulfilled, including the Olivet Discourse found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. I look forward to the bodily return of Christ and the bodily resurrection from the dead. It’s my thinking that God will redeem the Earth for man to live on forever with Christ ruling as king.

Being an owner of a Kindle now, one advantage is that old books are so easy to come by. You can get several for free. The one I’m reviewing today is not free, but recently a Christmas gift didn’t work out and I was told in exchange “Get on Amazon and buy within this price range.” So I did. One book I got was one that my friend DeeDee Warren, of the Preterist Podcast, recommended to me. It’s called “The Destruction of Jerusalem: An Absolute and Irresistable Proof of the Divine Origin of Christianity”, by George Holford

Something else important about this book. It wasn’t free. Many old books are, but it wasn’t. I suspect it’s because it is reprinted a number of times. In fact, the original one was written in 1805. This is not a new idea that is being presented. If anything, the futurist idea that is most common today is the new kid on the block. In responding to objections even, Holford doesn’t even mention anything about not taking the text literally or something of that sort. There is no mention of a futurist idea.

What do we have instead? We have a description of the destruction of Jerusalem. Our main source if Josephus, but Holford gives a good basic run down. I can warn people that if you are squeamish, this is not the book for you. In fact, if you are really that bad, this might not even be the blog post for you. We can look and say “Jerusalem got destroyed. Was it really that bad?”

Let’s see. Blood pouring through the temple. Trees being cut down just so everyone could be crucified. Bodies being cut open just so that thieves could get to the precious metals that people swallowed hoping to pass out through their system later. Mothers having to cook their children just so that they could have something to eat.

Yes. It was that bad.

And that’s just a minor sample of it.

So what has this to do with Christianity being true?

All of this was prophecied by Jesus. Jesus was seen as just a carpenter’s son. He was not a statesman or a politician. He was a teacher and yet, he made this prophecy. What it says about Him then is that He had divine knowledge about what would happen, which was never amended with “Thus says the Lord.”

Instead, Jesus spoke as if in the place of God. Why was the temple destroyed? Because Jesus was the Messiah and in rejecting Jesus, the Jews at the time broke the covenant with YHWH and thus, He abandoned the temple and left it to be destroyed by the Romans.

This would mean that Jesus was who He claimed to be and the charge of rejecting Him was incredibly serious. Of course, Holford deals with objections to his idea such as maybe Jesus was just fortunate or maybe the accounts were written after the events took place. For the latter, we today have the blessing of further scholarship which can make a powerful case that the accounts are indeed written before the fall of Jerusalem.

A negative point is that Holford does make a point about Israel not being reinstated until they repent. Unfortunately, they have been reestablished as a nation. It is my contention that this has zip to do with prophecy. Why? Check the OT. The requirement for returning to the land and restoring the covenant was national repentance. Has anyone seen repentance on the part of Israel on a national level and them turning to their Messiah?

As an aside to this, I will stress that I do support the nation of Israel still, but not for theological reasons. I support them for political reasons. I see Islam as a threat and I see Israel as a buffer to them over there. I don’t center all my policies on Israel, but I certainly don’t think America should abandon such a strong ally.

Also, I think if you have a good defense of the resurrection, that would be an excellent supplement to this book, but I would hope something like this could at least open the door to the possibility that maybe Jesus had some divine insight and maybe if Jerusalem was destroyed in this way, the claims should be taken seriously.

Skeptics need to read this book in order to get an understanding of what exactly happened and consider the possibility that maybe prophecy be real. This is especially true in a day and age where so many skeptics say “Jesus could not have been the Messiah since He even got wrong the time of His return.” (I would contend He said zip about His return. He was talking about His coming to His throne.)

Futurists should read this book in order to consider the possibility that maybe the Preterists have a point. I meet too many futurists who think they don’t need to read anything on Preterism because we don’t take the Bible literally there and so it’s ipso facto absurd. (For interpretation, the best resource is Last Days Madness by Gary DeMar.) If you have a view you think is true, you should have the courage to read one who disagrees.

Preterists need to read this in order to have a good explanation of why this is so important. One blessing with this is our futurist friends can read this book in a day. I did. In fact, it’s just 69 pages long. You could read it in a couple of hours. Also, if you are unfamiliar with DeeDee Warren who recommended this book, I will include a link to the Preteristsite which also has a link to the Preterist Podcast.

I highly recommend this book. It’s a good short read that would be a complement to any library.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The book can be found for sale here

The Preteristsite can be found here

Is Sandy Prophecy?

November 1, 2012

When a natural disaster strikes, how are we to understand the situation? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Let me say at the start that this post is not meant to give any consolation to people who are suffering from Hurricane Sandy. Prayers are with you. If you are hurt by this now, this is not the post for you to read at the time. This is providing a rational answer to a question that is risen and is not meant to deal with current emotional suffering. That is the area of a good counselor instead.

A friend of Deeper Waters told me yesterday that her brother is someone who is highly into prophecy and thinks that Hurricane Sandy is a fulfillment of prophecy. Now I have in the past stated that my view on prophecy is that of orthodox Preterism. For all who don’t understand that view, my position is that Jesus Christ is going to physically return some day and that there will be a future resurrection of all the dead. I will put a link at the end of this post to the web site of DeeDee Warren, the best I know of to explain Preterism.

Also, with regards to what I was told yesterday, I have indicated numerous times that I am politically a conservative and that I do vote conservative. It is not essential to this post that you agree with either of the viewpoints that I present. I can easily picture a liberal who is a futurist agreeing with what I have to say.

To begin with, I’m not sure what prophecy Sandy is said to fulfill as none was given, but I do know the habit of going to the Bible, finding one verse that agrees with you, and then wresting it from its historical context and plopping it right down in modern times and saying that it is a fulfillment of prophecy, because we all know that in ancient Israel 2,500 years or so ago, God was warning them about a hurricane that would happen in a totally separate country today.

This does not mean the prophecies are irrelevant to us if they have already been fulfilled. We can still see a precedent on the kind of behavior God universally opposes, particularly when He speaks about behavior outside of Israel. Why? Because that nation is not one that is under the law of Israel that is civic and ceremonial, although to be fair, most of the criticisms of Israel were the failure of the moral law.

The problem is that when we have these disasters, there is always someone claiming it was a fulfillment of prophecy. It doesn’t matter that this “prophecy” has been fulfilled several times before. This time, this is it. This is our generation! We are the one! It’s irrelevant that every other generation has had someone who has thought that before. We are obviously the exception this time.

Of course, this could be the generation that the kingdom comes into full realization. We should always be open to that. We dare not proclaim it without clear revelation from God however. We play a dangerous game when we do that. There were numerous books that were written that showed Saddam Hussein was the antichrist. Some were saying Bin Laden was the antichrist. What are those books doing now? They’re gathering dust on bookshelves somewhere. They have embarrassed the Christian faith and the authors are going to go out and try it again. To use an extreme example, what do you think someone like Harold Camping does to the Christian faith?

Still, I would not be surprised if someone like Pat Robertson will go out or has already gone out and said that the east coast is being judged and Hurricane Sandy is the proof. This lady I was talking to about her brother said that we are being judged with this election. Look at the states that are hit the most. Those states are New York and New Jersey. These states are blue on the map and so they are being judged for supporting Obama.

Now I find this just odd. To begin with, you’d think if this was the kind of thing being done, we’d see the disaster on the West Coast which is even more liberal. We don’t. Instead, we see the hurricane come and people say “Obviously God is directing this hurricane. This hurricane has to be judgment. Why could these states be being judged? Look! They’re both blue states! That has to be it!”

I was also told that hurricanes aren’t common at this time of year. Common? Perhaps not. Unheard of? No. Hurricanes have happened. Back in 1993 here in Tennessee, in March, we had a blizzard come. Blizzards don’t normally come at that time of year and I as a young boy thought I would never see it again. The reality is, I did. I saw it in APRIL of 1996. Should I have concluded both were a divine act of God for some reason? To say something is unusual and uncommon does not mean that it is a judgment of God.

Of course, this does not mean that God cannot use a hurricane to judge, but I need a clear reason to think that it is. What message we can get out of such things is to realize the fragility of life and we dare not grow complacent where we are. We can look at Luke 13 where tragedies happen and the reply of Jesus is “You repent just in case!” (And from my viewpoint of course, they had a really big disaster come 40 years later and unfortunately, they did not repent.)

When we have situations like this happen, it leads to further embarrassment of the Christian faith and more attention paid to non-essentials. As I told my friend yesterday, it is a tragedy that Christians today tend to spend more time seeking to understand who the antichrist is rather than spend that time seeking to understand who Christ is.

Having said that, I do want to make it clear that I have no problem seeing my futurist friends as Christians. I would rather you be right on the Jesus question and wrong on the eschatology question, than be right on the eschatology question and be wrong on the Jesus question. This is an in-house debate. I have no problem with futurists. I’m married to one after all. I do have a problem with dogmatism either way. I have a problem with preterists seeing futurists as second-class Christians and I have a problem with futurists who like to accuse me of just wanting to “Allegorize” or “spiritualize” the Word of God.

Let’s be careful with how we are presenting ourselves to the world and handling our interpretation of Scripture. We must always try to first find out what it meant to the people then before finding the application for our own day and age. If we are reckless with how we interpret it, we will pay the price. Let’s also remember that there are people who are hurting from Sandy and the last thing we need to tell them is that God is judging them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The preterist site can be found here.