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Theology

This I Believe: Last Things

Last Things
I believe in the personal, glorious, visible, and bodily return of Jesus Christ with his holy angels when he will exercise his role as Judge, and his kingdom will be established. I believe in the bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust—the unjust to judgment and eternal, conscious punishment in hell and the just to life and eternal blessedness in the presence of him who sits on the throne and of the Lamb, in the new heaven and the new earth.

Matt. 16:27; Mark 14:62; John 5:25-29; 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Cor. 15:12-58; Eph. 1:12; Phil. 3:20; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 4:15; 2 Tim. 4:1; Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28; Rev. 20:1-22:5

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Theology

Seven Strengths of Amillennialism

I would rather be pelted by hard-boiled eggs in an ice storm than argue about eschatology (okay, that might be a stretch). Still, arguing end times is frustrating. Yet, I realize that developing a biblical and theologically informed view of the end times is good, healthy, and fruitful for me personally and the church at large. As I have said before, I hold to an Amillennial viewpoint. I have written a paper about my views, and you can read them here.

Bobby Grow (of the Evangelical Calvinist blog) summarizes Amillennialism and I heartily commend these considerations to you. It is probably a coincidence that he lists seven strengths, though perhaps this fact will win over some of my Dispensational brothers and sisters!

  1. It is highly Christocentric: it makes Christ the center of all the biblical covenants (even the “Land” covenant or Siniatic).
  2. It notes the universal scope of the Abrahamic Covenant (as key) to interpreting the rest of the biblical covenants.
  3. It sees salvation history oriented to a person (Christ), instead of a people (the nation of Israel).
  4. It emphasizes continuity between the “people of God” (Israel and the Church are one in Christ Eph. 2:11ff).
  5. It provides an ethic that is rooted in creation, and “re-creation” (continuity between God’s redemptive work now, carried over into the eternal state then).
  6. It emphasizes a Trinitarian view of God as it elevates the “person”, Christ Jesus, the second person of the trinity as the point and mediator of all history.
  7. It flows from a hermeneutic that takes seriously the literary character of the Scriptures (esp. the book of Revelation).
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Theology

Coming Out of the End Times Closet

On this blog, I have yet to fully show my hand when it comes to the millennium. I have a link below to a paper I wrote on the millennium. Before you read it (I only expect theology nerds to do so), I want to make a few things clear:

  1. Debating eschatology (“end times”) is an intramural conversation among Christians. There are many Jesus-loving people who disagree and that is okay. Christians can have a wide array of opinions and still be “orthodox” (i.e. not heretics). Christians can disagree on eschatology and this in no way serves as evidence that Christianity is false. We are imperfect people who cannot see truth perfectly.
  2. The millennial perspective one adopts usually arises from how one reads the Bible (what’s called “hermeneutics,” a fancy word for interpretation). Simply exchanging proof texts with a person who holds a different opinion will not convince anyone. The way to establish a viewpoint in eschatology (and convince others) is to nail down how you view the Bible. I hope my paper makes that clear. In reality, my paper is just as much about hermeneutics as it is about eschatology.
  3. Studying eschatology for the few weeks surrounding this paper has made the doctrine much more pleasing to me. More than that, my study has given me great pleasure in knowing that God knows it all and I am just a footnote trying to figure out the big story.
  4. In the end, Christians can agree on, rejoice in, and anticipate the fact that Jesus proclaims, “Behold, I am coming soon…Surely, I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:7, 12, 20).
  5. My paper is not exhaustive. It also assumes some understanding of the subject matter. This was a seminary research paper and was not intended to be an exegetical study of relevant passages (though it does include some of that). I do not address every argument against my position (page limits!). Furthermore, this is not the same copy I turned in. There have been additions and edits after the fact, so there may be typos. I can’t afford an editor.

Without further adieu (drum roll noise in background): I hold to an Amillennial viewpoint on the millennium. I hold it with a very open hand, acknowledging that it may change in the future and that it is a non-essential point of doctrine. FYI, if I wasn’t Amillennial, I would be an Historic Premillennialist (I explain that view in the paper).

With that, happy reading: “He Must Reign: Understanding the Millennium

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Theology

Are You a Functional Post-Millennialist?

I have probably already lost many of you by using the word “millennialist.” Let me define it quick: a post-millennialist is someone who holds that the millennial kingdom (“a thousand years”) spoken of in Revelation 20 is a period of time that happens on the earth in which the gospel will spread so thoroughly and deeply in culture to create a golden age in which Christian ethics prosper.

I don’t agree with this view, and without getting too much into eschatology (i.e. the study of end times), I want to briefly argue that many evangelical Christians are functional (i.e. practical) post-millennialists. By this, I mean that they often expect the gospel to so transform the culture that when they do not notice tangible change, they become depressed or even doubt if the word of God is advancing at all.

Here’s an example: some (not all!) evangelicals often complain that we (or probably the “institutional church”) are the reason there is poverty, hunger, war, HIV/AIDS, homelessness, and a host of other tragedies in the world. They think that if the church just did more, we could root out these evil things in the culture and then God’s kingdom would really come on earth.

But Jesus reminds us that we will “always have the poor” with us (Matt. 26:11).  He also says, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In this life the faithful to Christ “will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). This does not sound like a golden age. Only at Jesus second coming will he “wipe away every tear from [our] eyes” because only then “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore” (Rev. 21:4). Why then? Because at that moment, and only at that moment, will “the former things [the things of this age] have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

We will never solve the world’s problems. We will never eliminate hunger and war. We will never eradicate cancer or HIV. But that doesn’t mean we throw up our arms in defeat. Gospel proclamation takes center stage, but generosity, social concern, and action also reflect the character of God and are evidence of a changed heart through the gospel. Indeed, all efforts that reflect God’s character and done for his glory paint a picture to the world of what the new creation will be like.

Let us be reminded that the kingdom of God, ultimately, is not about activity to “make the world a better place.” It is about a King. As a friend tweeted earlier today, “The story of what God is doing in the world is not about you. (It’s about Jesus.) But it is for you. And it involves you.” So do not be discouraged when it seems that Christians do not make as big of a difference in the world as you think we should make. We have already overcome. “And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4b-5).

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Theology

Problems with Premillennialism by Sam Storms

Here’s a look at some problems with Premillennialism by Sam Storms.  Its’ a very convincing argument in favor of Amillennialism (which is where I fall when it comes to eschatology).