Pandemonium’s Engine

I am privileged to be included in this new book release by Defender Publishing. My chapter is titled “Christian Transhumanism: Pandemonium’s Latest Ploy.” The term “pandemonium” has an interesting origin. It is the capital city of Hell in Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. I run a little theme throughout my chapter using quotes from the 17th century Christian classic throughout my critique of transhumanism and the theology and philosophies which under gird it.

In Paradise Lost, Satan and the fallen angels have been relegated to Hell and seek to mount a new offensive. In Pandæmonium, the capital city, Satan employs his beguiling oratorical skills to incite his forces. Aided by his lieutenants Mammon, Beëlzebub, Belial and Moloch they plot to overthrow God’s forces. The final strategy is decided when Satan volunteers to poison the newly created Earth and God’s new and most favored creation, Mankind. This is where an intriguing parallel with transhumanism comes into play as it has the potential to do just that. Not only could we create a posthuman species, germline genetic therapies could pass it down to the next generation permanently altering the human genome. The potential for a horrific outcome is real.

The American philosopher, political economist, and author, Francis Fukuyama, agrees, contending that “the most significant threat posed by contemporary biotechnology is the possibility that it will alter human nature and thereby move us into a posthuman stage of history.”[i] The potential threat is real and the decisions made over the next decade will have a deciding influence on the outcome. The theological and ethical issues are critically important for Christian thinkers to consider. This book is just one ripple in the pond of our culture. I pray it inspires many of you to think critically about the spiritual implications of the bio-technology revolution.

Pandemonium’s Engine

Thomas Horn served as editor in chief for this book by numerous experts in Bible Prophecy

Forward – Jim Fletcher

Chapter 1 – Pandemonium and “Her” Children, by Thomas Horn, D.D.

Chapter 2 – Nimrod: The First (And Future) Transhuman “Super Soldier”, by J. Michael Bennett, Ph.D.

Chapter 3 – The Folly of Synthetic Life: Genetic Tampering, Ancient and Modern, by Gary Stearman

Chapter 4 – The Übermensch and the Antichrist, by Douglas Woodward

Chapter 5 – Christian Transhumanism: Pandemonium’s Latest Ploy, by Cris D. Putnam

Chapter 6 – Transhumanism Enters Popular Culture, by Frederick Meekins

Chapter 7 – Man Becoming His Own God?, by Douglas Hamp

Chapter 8 – Transhumanism From Noah To Noah, by Noah W. Hutchings

Chapter 9 – Genetic Armageddon, by John P. McTernan, Ph.D.

Chapter 10 – To Storm Heaven; To Be Like God; To Rule the World, by Carl Teichrib

Chapter 11 – Pandora’s Box for the 21st Century? The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, by Chuck Missler, Ph.D.

Chapter 12 – Dragon’s Breath, by Sharon K. Gilbert

    Order the book for $10.00 plus shipping:





[i] Francis Fukuyama. Our Posthuman Future.(New York: Picador, 2002),7.

 

Who were the Nephilim? A Response to Herescope & Larry DeBruyn

Pastor Larry DeBruyn has written a reply in response to my defense of  Tom Horn and Chuck Missler which he posted at his own website here and at the herescope site here. I respect him as servant of the Lord, as well as the folks at Herescope who usually seem to be well intended. I have no personal axe to grind but I will call it like I see it. The original article entitled “Doomsday Datesetters 2012” is hyperbolic and inaccurate as both Missler and Horn are outspoken against date setting. I find this unfortunate as I have admired the work of Sarah Leslie in the past.

DeBruyn’s essay is well written and reflects more serious scholarship than the previous offering. While he acknowledges that the “sons of God” are certainly to be understood as supernatural beings, he advocates an odd non-contingent interpretation of the Nephilim’s relationship to the “sons of God.”  His interpretation lacks force as no ancient commentator nor modern Hebrew scholar I can find agrees with it. Exegesis is about getting to what the original author meant, not simply offering possible readings. This was all addressed thoroughly enough in my original post (refer to the quote form the Word Biblical Commentary).  Scholarship aside, I find his essay objectionable because DeBruyn has quoted me out of context, appropriating the same misleading methodology as Gaylene Goodroad.  DeBruyn writes:

Based upon this interpretation, this critic of the Herescope post cavalierly dismisses Mrs. Goodroad’s alternative interpretation “as an example of very poor exegesis” and that “there really is no valid scholarship to suggest otherwise”?[4] Condescendingly, he asserts that Mrs. Goodroad’s take is “histrionic” (i.e., meaning “excessively emotional or dramatic”).[1]

While it is easy to burn straw men, it doesn’t advance the discussion. This is a demonstrably unfair and inaccurate presentation of my criticism. I certainly did call her exegesis poor and her criticism histrionic but he has taken it out of context. I wrote “she seems histrionic in her assertions:” punctuated with a colon in specific reference to her accusation that the majority opinion amongst scholars (the supernatural offspring view) is a “scheme to downplay the importance of the incarnation…it takes away from Christ’s uniqueness, virgin birth, atonement” and that it “diminishes the Gospel!”[2] I wonder if she will also accuse Francis Schaeffer of “scheming to downplay the incarnation.” It is histrionic and patently absurd. My original criticism is actually quite generous. DeBruyn continues:

In his fine commentary on Genesis, Allen Ross notes “four predominant interpretations of the ‘sons of God’: they are

  1. the line of Seth, the godly line;
  2. fallen angels;
  3. lesser gods; or
  4. despots, powerful men.”[6]

As evidenced by reading both the Horns’ and Goodroad’s interpretations, both fall within the interpretative options Ross lists; the Horns identifying with number two, and Goodroad with number four. Obviously, if Goodroad’s interpretation falls within the fourth category, it is unfair to call her understanding “poor” and “histrionic.”

Again “histrionic” only seems unfair divorced from the context I offered it in. Why does he resort to such misleading antics? It is also important to note that the fact that a commentary lists four views says nothing about their validity. As my original post documented Hebrew Bible scholars are in wide agreement that the text means the Nephilim were the offspring of the fallen angels and human women. The commentary I quoted presented textual and historical evidence. Proper exegesis is to interpret a passage on its own terms interacting with the original languages. The goal is the author’s intent. Neither Goodroad nor DeBruyn are doing that in my opinion. They are relying on English translations and seem to have a preconceived agenda. That her exegesis was poor is also evidenced by her referring to the term “Watchers” as some sort of apocryphal device when it is used by the prophet Daniel in canonical scripture (Dan 4:13, 17, 23). Not to mention, that she argues the Nephilim were simply “big bullies” rather than supernaturally endowed. DeBruyn presents a slightly better argument by G. Charles Aaslders:

It has been correctly pointed out that the text establishes no causal connection between these two historical phenomena. In fact, the text specifically states that the giants were already present when the “sons of God” produced children by the “daughters of men.”[3]

If this is so, I wonder why the vast majority of Hebrew scholars see it otherwise. This is where exegesis comes into play. Using the Hebrew/English reverse interlinear in my logos bible software I quickly see that the Hebrew text of Genesis 6:4 reads:

The key term here אֲשֶׁר, rendered “when” in English also carries the meaning of “because.”

834 אֲשֶׁר, בַּאֲשֶׁר, כַּאֲשֶׁר, מֵאֲשֶׁר [’aher /ash·er/] . A primitive relative pronoun (of every gender and number); TWOT 184; GK 889 and 948 and 3876 and 4424; 111 occurrences; AV translates as “which”, “wherewith”, “because”, “when”, “soon”, “whilst”, “as if”, “as when”, “that”, “until”, “much”, “whosoever”, “whereas”, “wherein”, “whom”, and “whose”. 1 (relative part.). 1a which, who. 1b that which. 2 (conj). 2a that (in obj clause). 2b when. 2c since. 2d as. 2e conditional if. [4]

That definition surely supports a causal relationship.  I will be the first to admit that I am not a Semitic languages scholar but Dr. Michael Heiser, the academic editor for logos bible software, is a recognized authority. I emailed him the above argument by Aaslders that there was no causal connection and that the Nephilim were already present. He wrote back,

“I know of no grammatical possibility for this – ask him to produce it.”

Pastor DeBruyn, that is an invitation from Dr Heiser to mount an argument from the Hebrew grammar that supports a non-causal interpretation.  As far as DeBruyn’s view that there was nothing genetic going on with the Nephilim he contends,

Via the mating process, the “sons of God” appeared to have transgressed the created order of life, terrestrial and extraterrestrial, by infusing the “the daughters of men” with supernatural powers that they in turn, and in an occult way, passed on to the nephilim-gibborim, powers that might be compared unto those that will belong to the “man of sin” at the end of the age,[5]

While this is an interesting theory and likely has truth to it, I don’t understand the pressing need to divorce the account of any space-time material substantiality.  Angels manifest as physical beings in the bible, for instance the “men” that visited Abraham come to mind (Gen 18). The men of Sodom surely had little doubt about their material potential (Gen 19:5). But DeBruyn concludes,

In short, the Genesis record does not support the fantastic construct that the change in the nephilim was physical. When the sons of God took the daughters of men to wife, the nephilim were already giants.[6]

Again a quote from a dated commentary will not suffice. This is not supported by exegesis and it doesn’t make much sense logically. The text connects them firmly to the offspring of the angels (Gen 6:4). While I don’t know if it was genetic or purely supernatural, I suspect it was both. How can anyone say that there was no genetic component?  Giantism is a genetic condition and the biblical text also supports further evidence of mutations,

And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants.(2 Sa 21:20)

That sure sounds physical to me!

 

 


[1] Larry DeBuryn, “Demons, Daughters and DNA,” http://guardinghisflock.com/2011/06/22/demons-daughters-and-dna/ (accessed 6/24/2011).

[2] Gaylene Goodroad, “DOOMSDAY DATESETTERS 2012,” http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/06/doomsday-datesetters-2012.html (accessed 6/24/2011).

[3] G. Charles Aalders, Genesis: Bible Students Commentary, Volume I, and William Heynen, Translator (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981): 156.  [As quoted by Deburyn]

[4] James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible : Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order., electronic ed. (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship., 1996), H834.

[5] DeBuryn, “Demons, Daughters and DNA”

[6] Ibid.

In Defense of Horn & Missler: A Response to Gaylene Goodroad

Thomas Horn

Tom Horn and Chuck Missler have recently been vehemently criticized by Gaylene Goodroad of the Herescope website. While it is fair to say they are colorful characters, both men are committed Christians, strong advocates of dispensationalism and writers/producers of popular media.  I have read and studied the works of both men. In fact, Chuck Missler’s Bible teaching had a lot to do with leading me to Christ. It should be said that he teaches the entire Bible not just prophecy and controversial subjects. Similarly, Horn has worked as a pastor and administratively at the top levels of the Assemblies of God denomination. They both believe Jesus will return sooner rather than later but to my knowledge neither set dates nor advocate doing so.  Admittedly, they both take speculative and controversial stands that might be considered unconventional but I would not label either as heretical. I don’t agree with everything they write but I do find their work thought provoking and interesting. While there is some validity to criticizing their penchant for showmanship and interest in fringe topics, it seems to me that the critique misrepresents them both and is itself an example of very poor biblical exegesis.

Bad Exegesis

Much of Goodroad’s complaint is concerned with the exegesis of Genesis 6. She does not like the idea that the Bible teaches divine beings mated with human women and had mutant offspring who were known as the Nephilim.  However, there really is no valid scholarship to suggest otherwise.  She seems histrionic in her assertions:

So, does it matter how we interpret the Bible? What is wrong with believing that fallen angels (“Watchers”) mated with humans to produce of hybrid race of creatures (“Nephilim”) that are part angel (god?) and part mortal? Might they be called demigods? One critic of these teachings has said that this scenario is a “scheme to downplay the importance of the incarnation…it takes away from Christ’s uniqueness, virgin birth, atonement.” Mockers can then say, “What’s the big deal with Christ being God and man [the God/Man]—so are the Nephilim?”[20] This also subtly overshadows man’s sin toward his Creator, thus diminishing the Gospel.[1]

This is a blatantly fallacious slippery slope argument. Potential objections from mockers and hyperbolic theological ramifications do not have anything to do with the interpretation of the vocabulary and grammar of the Hebrew text. One should not interpret the Bible emotionally to suit one’s tastes or preconceived notions, the Bible actually speaks very clearly on this issue where many try to obfuscate. Dr. Michael Heiser is an evangelical Christian and Semitic languages expert who argues:

The second tier is marked in the Hebrew Bible by the identification of the members of the divine council as divine family members or “sons of God,”  … the context of these references points to divine beings. [2]

He explains reactionary criticisms like Goodroads’ in this way:

Genesis 6:1-4 is one of those texts that, for many, is best left alone. Many contemporary evangelical Bible scholars have gone to great lengths to strip the “mythology” out of it (i.e., the supernatural elements) so as to make it more palatable. But one has to wonder how bending supernatural language to human reason is consistent with the testimony of affirming a supernatural worldview. [3]

Hebrew Bible scholars are in wide agreement on the “divine being” or angelic rendering of “sons of God” in Genesis 6.  According to the scholarly Word Biblical Commentary:

The “angel” interpretation is at once the oldest view and that of most modern commentators. It is assumed in the earliest Jewish exegesis (e.g., the books of 1 Enoch 6:2ff; Jubilees 5:1), LXX, Philo De Gigant 2:358), Josephus (Ant. 1.31) and the Dead Sea Scrolls (1QapGen 2:1; CD 2:17–19). The NT (2 Pet 2:4, Jude 6, 7) and the earliest Christian writers (e.g., Justin, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen) also take this line.

Modern scholars who accept this view advance three main reasons for supporting it. First, elsewhere in the OT (e.g., Ps 29:1, Job 1:6) “sons of God” refers to heavenly, godlike creatures. Second, in 6:1–4 the contrast is between “the sons of the gods” on the one hand and “the daughters of man” on the other. The alternative interpretations presuppose that what Gen 6 really meant was that “the sons of some men” married “the daughters of other men.” The present phrase “sons of God” is, to say the least, an obscure way of expressing such an idea. It is made the more implausible by 6:1 where “man” refers to all mankind. It is natural to assume that in v 2 “daughters of man” has an equally broad reference, not a specific section of the human race. Finally, it is pointed out that in Ugaritic literature “sons of God” refers to members of the divine pantheon, and it is likely that Genesis is using the phrase in a similar sense.[4]

Furthermore, the New Testament evidence is completely ignored by Goodroad (2 Peter 2:4–10, Jude 5–7). If not Genesis 6, then what alternative examples from the scriptures can she suggest of Angels sinning (2 Pet 2:4)?  Clearly, the New Testament authors are referring to this Genesis 6 episode and understood the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 as supernatural beings.  It is also clear enough that this episode involved “angels” and a decision those divine beings made to violate a God given limit when they “abandoned their proper abode” (Jude 6 NAS). Furthermore, the 2 Peter passage indisputably situates this sin at the time of Noah and the Flood (2 Pet 2:5).  That the sin committed by the angels was sexual is clear from the vocabulary as well as the linkage to the Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Pet 2:6; Jude 7). In denying the supernatural view of Genesis 6, Goodroad is effectively suggesting that Peter and Jude also misunderstood the passage.

Apologist and philosopher Francis Schaeffer had no problem understanding the text with a supernatural worldview. Commenting on Jude 6-7’s connection to Genesis 6 he wrote:

This passage [Jude 6-7] seems to say that there are angels who left their own proper place and are specifically under judgment because they acted like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.  That is, as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah sought “other flesh” in homosexuality, these angels sought flesh that was “ other flesh”; they involved themselves with human women in what could be called fornication.

There is further interest concerning this if one understands it as a commingling of the angelic and the human, for then it is possible that it was the original historic source of an element common in mythology.  More and more we are finding that mythology in general, though greatly contorted, very often has some historic base.  And the interesting thing is that one myth that one finds over and over again in many parts of the world is that somewhere a long time ago supernatural beings had sexual intercourse with natural women and produced a special breed of people.[5]

Goodroad also criticizes the use of the term “Watchers”  as a term “taken from the apocryphal Book of Enoch” apparently ignorant that it is used three times in the canonical Book of Daniel  (Dan 4:13; 4:17; 4:23). In his dissertation, Heiser also argues, “It is clear from these passages that terms like ‘angels,’ ‘archangels,’ ‘Watchers,’ ‘holy ones,’ ‘highest ones,’ and ‘sons of heaven’ overlap.”[6] I’ve never seen any convincing scholarship refuting the angelic view of Genesis 6 that does not reek of anti-supernaturalist eisegesis.  For instance, Goodroad resorts to a long refuted canard when she quotes Matthew 22:30 as if it were some sort of  evidence against the supernatural view. Apparently she is oblivious to the fact that the text reads the “angels in Heaven.” It is not about the fallen Angels (who are not in heaven) and it says absolutely nothing about Angels abilities to biologically function. Chuck Missler has written an historical explanation of the dubious origins of the humanistic interpretation favored by anti-suprenaturalists known as the Sethite View available here.

Mischaracterizations

Chuck Missler

On the charges of date setting and using extra biblical sources, Missler has written:

The Bible is filled with admonitions in regards to date setting. The Bible indicates that everything will be established by two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15; Numbers 35:30; Matthew 18:16; John 8:17; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19). One would think that these references would be enough, and yet the fascination with date setting continues.[7]

I wonder if she bothered to read the last chapter of Tom Horn’s Apollyon Rising 2012:

A couple of points need clarification at the beginning of this final chapter having to do with 1) date setting and 2) extra-biblical sources for interpreting end times prophecy. Setting dates in particular for eschatological affairs, such as the beginning of sorrows, the return of Christ, or the battle of Armageddon, have been illustrated historically to be unwise, discrediting those who make such predictions concerning the exact timing of future events. In general, Christians should simply always be ready for the end of the age and the coming of Christ, because “ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42). Jesus further told his followers that the exact date of his arrival would be known by “no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only” (Matthew 24:36).[8]

He goes on to write concerning extra-biblical texts:

While most Bible scholars admit these texts can provide invaluable insights for helping students of history fill gaps between cultural and historical events related to the first-century Judaism and the background of Christianity (for instance, The Jewish War and The Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus), they believe these should not be elevated among the divinely inspired or authoritative sources, especially if they contradict or supplant existing canonical teachings (the Bible). [9]

The pseudepigraphal texts tell us the way the Jews of Antiquity understood their scriptures. We refer to them in my seminary course work very often. They are an ancient witness and a valuable aid in proper exegesis.  Exegesis is about the authors intent. For instance, from these ancient witnesses like  1st Enoch there is no doubt that the Biblical author meant his reader to understand a divine being when he wrote “sons of God” in Genesis 6. The ancient sources unanimously evidence the supernatural view. As I have shown, the Old and New Testaments also overwhelmingly support the supernatural view of Genesis 6. When read in its ancient context, it’s really beyond dispute exegetically.

The Bottom Line

I don’t see why it is out of line for Christians to speculate about UFOs, aliens, fallen angels or 2012 prophecies as long as it’s represented as speculation. I have never taken it as anything other. The Bible is a supernatural book replete with demon possession and angelic conflicts (Eph 6:12; Dan 10:20). Could fallen angels be up to mischief masquerading as aliens? Apologists like Norman Geisler, Hugh Ross and Kenneth Samples have all voiced views that UFOs are demonic. Ross and Samples have written, “It seems apparent that residual UFOs, in one or more ways, must be associated with the activities of demons.”[10] Dr. Hugh Ross is an astrophysicist no less. Perhaps it is not so fringe a view after all? It seems abundantly clear that Missler and Horn might be capitalizing on it somewhat but they aren’t making it up. If you take the Bible seriously, then Apollyon is going to rise from the bottomless pit one day (Rev 9:1; 17:8) and the Angels in bondage will be released during the end times (Rev 9:14). It’s really up to you whether you believe it or not but it is indisputable that the Bible predicts it. Accordingly, I don’t think it is out of bounds for Christians to comment on what that might look like or how it could take place.

I’ll let them defend themselves on the rest but these points just jumped out at me as I read Goodroad’s emotionally charged mischaracterizations. Sure both men have a penchant for the extraordinary and have a tendency to ham it up but she is mischaracterizing them and is guilty of mishandling the Biblical text herself more egregiously by denying and castigating the supernatural view of Genesis 6.

If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? (Jn 3:12)

 

 


[1] Gaylene Goodroad, “DOOMSDAY DATESETTERS 2012,” http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/06/doomsday-datesetters-2012.html (accessed 6/11/2011).

[2] Michael Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Cannonical and Non Cannonical 2nd Temple Jewish Literature.” (Ph.D. dissertation ,University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004) 49.

[3] Michael Heiser, http://www.michaelsheiser.com/

[4] Gordon J. Wenham, vol. 1, Word Biblical Commentary  : Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 139.

[5] Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time: The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer : A Christian Worldview. (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1982).

[6] Heiser, Dissertation, 224.

[7] Chuck Missler, “Date Setting?”  http://www.khouse.org/articles/1995/36/ (accessed 06/11/2011).

[8] Thomas Horn, Apollyon Rising 2012: The Lost Symbol Found and the Final Mystery of the Great Seal Revealed (Crane, MS: Defender, 2009),  303.

[9] Horn, Apollyon, 304.

[10] Hugh Ross, Kenneth Samples and Mark Clark, Lights in the Sky & Little Green Men: A Rational Christian Look at UFOs and Extraterrestrials (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002), 123.

Why Eschatology Matters Part IV: Premillennialism

continued from Why Eschatology Matters Part IV

I. Pre-millennial View: This is the view that the parousia (second coming) occurs at the conclusion of the Church age and Christ rules from Jerusalem for a literal millennium.[1] Adherents, myself included, argue that a consistent literal interpretation of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants, predictions by the prophets and the announcement of the kingdom of heaven by John the Baptist and Jesus unavoidably lead to premillennialism.[2] It was the accepted view of the early church fathers up to early Augustine, who later erroneously discarded the view due to a personal prejudice against a particular belief (cited under amillennial).[3] Later post reformation teachers of the Lutheran, Reformed, and Puritan traditions like Jonathan Edwards, John Gill and Charles Spurgeon rediscovered premillennialism.[4] Today it is widely held by protestant evangelicals.

A. Basic Premises:

i. Millennium: A straight forward one thousand years as the text in Revelation chapter 20:1-6 says. The idea of a thousand year reign may also be supported by passages such as Acts 3:19–21 and 1 Corinthians 15:23–26, which speak of a future restoration and reign of Christ.[5]

ii. Resurrection: There are two resurrections the first are believers at the beginning of the millennium and the second at its conclusion for the great white throne judgment.[6]

iii. The Binding of Satan: Jesus Christ binds Satan upon his return. Dr. John Walvoord comments, “The passage makes clear that Satan is not simply restricted, as some would teach, but he is totally inactive in the Millennium.”[7] This point is simply not explained by any other view.

iv. The reign of Christ: While Christ is spiritually active in the lives of believers today his literally earthly reign will commence upon his arrival. He will rule from Jerusalem on the throne of David as promised in the New (Lk. 1:32) and Old Testaments (Zech. 14:9).

v. The Kingdom of God: The kingdom is here and also not yet. In Matthew 13:11, Jesus instituted a spiritual kingdom until His second coming, when He will initiate the anticipated messianic kingdom.[8]

vi. Israel: God will restore national Israel and fulfill all of His unconditional promises. At the end of the Tribulation, before the beginning of the Millennium, when Jesus is finally accepted by Israel, “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26).[9]

vii. Hermeneutic: A ‘literal’ interpretation means the understanding which any normal person would conclude. Premillennialism is rooted in a historical-grammatical interpretation of prophecy. The historical-grammatical method involves giving each word the same meaning it would have in normal usage.[10] (i.e. Israel means national Israel and thousand means 1,000).

B. Points of Strength:

i. The early church was indisputably premillennial, including: Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Lactantius and Irenaeus. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp who had direct contact with John, the author of the Apocalypse.[11] Their familiarity with the Apostle makes it hard to imagine why anyone would diverge from their understanding. Irenaeus wrote extensively on the literal future Messianic kingdom, a brief excerpt being, “The predicted blessing, therefore, belongs unquestionably to the times of the kingdom, when the righteous shall bear rule upon their rising from the dead.”[12]

ii. Stated as a weakness in the opposing views, the fact that the New Testament explicitly teaches that Satan is alive and well on planet earth (1 Jn. 5:19, 2 Cor. 4:4, 2 Cor.4:3-4, Eph. 2:2, 2 Cor. 11:14, 1 Pet. 5:8). The argument seems overwhelming that Satan’s current imprisonment is absurd. Anyone who tries to advance the Gospel knows that Satanic opposition is very real.

iii. In the New Testament, the Angel Gabriel promised Mary that Jesus would sit upon the throne of David (Lk. 1:32-33). At that time there was no Israelite throne to sit on, even Herod was a vassal and this promised event has not yet occurred. Because God always keeps his promises it follows that this will be actualized.

iv. In Romans 9, 10, and 11 Paul’s purpose was to explain Israel’s future. If you simply read that sequence of chapters, replacement theology is absurd. The gentile church is clearly described as “grafted into” not replacing Israel.  Paul makes it abundantly clear in Rom. 11:29 that their election is irrevocable.

C. Points of Weakness:

i. The final releasing of Satan at the end of the millennium and subsequent apostasy after the millennium kingdom is difficult to explain. Yet Revelation 20 clearly predicts it.

ii. The millennium population of humans in a non-translated state must be rationalized by believers that come to faith during the tribulation.

iii. Satan was defeated at the cross. Why does he still have dominion on earth?

iv. The ambiguity about the timing of the rapture is problematic.

Conclusions

Premillennial eschatology not only offers a real hope for the world’s future through its anticipation of the personal earthly reign of Jesus Christ  for one thousand years, it also provides for the literal fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to Israel and Mary in the New Testament. Concerning the kingdom Missler argues,

There are at least 318 references in 216 chapters of the New Testament. And 23 of its 27 books give prominence to the event. The early church looked longingly for His promised return as their “Blessed Hope” to rid a desperate world of its evil rulers.[13]

In contrast, those promises are given only a vague fulfillment in amillennial and postmillennial eschatology, a psuedo-fulfillment that only weakens our faith in the promises of the Bible. God promised a real space time kingdom headquartered in Jerusalem. God does not lie. It is dangerous when one’s theological constructs impute the character of God.  It’s fascinating how contrary supersessionism is to God’s sovereign election. If it is true, it means that God’s elect nation lost their election. That sounds suspiciously like Arminiainism. Isn’t it ironic that most reformed denominations embrace it? They need not. Jesus in Luke 19:42 and Paul in Romans 11:25 explain that Israel is blinded nationally for the church age. Temporarily blinded not replaced. We are grafted in. National Israel has a future as the spiritual leadership of the world (Zech 8:23).

I find the amillennial and postmillennial views both to be incoherent. They are inconsistent with reality and the biblical text. I can evidence both points in that Satan’s deceptions have not been restrained. The numerous biblical proof texts have been cited throughout this series and the nations are demonstrably being deceived. The U.S. Center for World Missions estimates that Christianity’s is growing at about 2.3% annually, approximately equal to the growth rate of the world’s population. Islam is growing faster: about 2.9% and is thus Islam will surpass Christianity as the world’s main religion by 2023.[14] Whether this is completely accurate is immaterial to the point that the world is full of false religion and unbelief. Jesus warned of widespread deception and we certainly do see it today.

I sincerely cannot believe a person can read the bible without outside influence and come to a conclusion other than premillennialism. Just read Revelation 20, that is clear and literal 1000 year kingdom. The alternate views are imposed on the text for external reasons. Of course sincere Christians maintain these views but I just do not find their rationale compelling. To embrace allegory over literal meaning requires a more persuasive theological and exegetical basis than the arguments offered. I have demonstrated that Augustine’s basis was quite shallow and had nothing to do with exegesis. I think those views stand on mere stubborn tradition. While the reformers did a great service in the areas of soteriology and ecclesiology they were duly occupied and failed to correct eschatology back to the apostolic intention. The early church, which had intimate contact with John the author of the Apocalypse were verifiably premillennial. I find that decisive. Finally, no matter what one’s millennial position, true Christians all look forward to the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

θά, μαράνα θά



[1] Ed Hindson, Revelation, 89.

[2]Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Four: Church, Last Things (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), 553.

[3] Geisler, Systematic Theology, 567.

[4]Geisler, Systematic Theology, 572.

[5]Elwell and Comfort, 896.

[6] Edward Hindson. Revelation: Unlocking the Future, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 203.

[7] John F. Walvoord, The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook, Includes Indexes. (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1990), 625.

[8] Geisler, Systematic Theology, 556.

[9] Geisler, Systematic Theology, 556.

[10] Geisler, Systematic Theology, 416.

[11] David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992), 3:457.

[12] Quoted in Geisler, Systematic Theology, 569.

[13] Chuck and Nancy Missler. The Kingdom, Power and Glory: The Overcomer’s Handbook. Coeur d’Alene, ID: The King’s Highway Ministries. 2009. 100.

[14] Unattributed. “Growth Rate of Christianity & Islam” Religious Tolerance ORG, http://www.religioustolerance.org/growth_isl_chr.htm (accessed 06/10/2010).

Why Eschatology Matters Part IV: Amillennialism

continued from Why Eschatology Matters Part IV

I. Amillennial View: The Amillennial view can be traced back as far as the Alexandrian school when early church father Origen (AD 185-254) was the first to allegorize “reigning with Christ” to mean the spiritual growth of the soul. Origen’s penchant for allegory led him to views that today are considered heretical.[1] This influenced Augustine who once held the premillennial view but was disgusted by speculations about celebratory feasting during the millennium that he viewed as carnal. Augustine wrote,

“for I myself, too, once held this opinion [premillennialism].  But, as they assert that those who then rise again shall enjoy the leisure of immoderate carnal banquets, furnished with an amount of meat and drink such as not only to shock the feeling of the temperate, but even to surpass the measure of credulity itself, such assertions can be believed only by the carnal.” [2]

Also a North African Donatist, Tyconius, who favored Origen’s allegorical hermeneutic, influenced Augustine to change his view to a spiritualized one. Soon Augustine’s view was widely adopted by the Roman Catholic Church and was subsequently retained by reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin.[3] Today it is still the majority view of the mainline denominations.[4]

A. Basic Premises:

i. Millennium: The prefix a- indicates a straightforward negation. However, they actually do believe a millennium exists, just that it is now. The millennium is symbolic of the church age and is said to be fulfilled spiritually not literally.[5] Augustine popularized the idea that the millennium began with the incarnation and is fully realized by the church. Proponents disagree amongst themselves as to where this Millennium is located. Some believe it is now on earth in the church while others believe it is now in heaven.[6]

ii. Resurrection: The majority contend that there is only one physical resurrection of the righteous and the wicked. The “first resurrection” of Revelation 20 is understood as a spiritual in the sense that believer’s souls will go to heaven to reign with Christ spiritually.[7] The second is understood as physical and all are then judged.

iii. The Binding of Satan: They understand this as being in effect during the period between the first and second comings of Christ.[8]Accordingly, Satan is currently chained and cannot deceive the nations. Most believe that there will be a rebellion as Satan is released just prior to Christ’s return[9] Thus, the world will get worse not better. In this way they agree more with premillennialists than postmillennialists.

iv. The Reign of Christ: Christ is reigning now in the hearts of believers, they influence the culture by living out their faith.[10] He will return and judge the world and then start over with a new heavens and earth.

v. The Kingdom of God: The kingdom of God is present now in the world as Christ is ruling believers through the Spirit and his word. They also look forward to a future, the new heaven and new earth.[11]

vi. Israel: The Abrahamic and Davidic covenants were conditional and demand no future fulfillment. The church has replaced Israel as spiritual Israel. Thus there is no prophetic future for national Israel.[12]

vii. Hermeneutic: The necessary theory of interpretation is reminiscent of the Alexandrian tradition that prophecy is symbolic and need not be taken literally. A passage’s basic sense can be taken spiritually or even mystically. However, the lines are not so clearly defined as Dr. Norman Geisler explains,

Again, it complicates matters that even those who allegorize certain prophetic passages claim adherence to the historical-grammatical method of interpretation. (Some do admit to enhancing and expanding it to include an allegorical, symbolical, or typological understanding of certain texts.) The issue, then, boils down to the understanding and/or application (rather than the name) of the method of interpreting (hermeneutics).[13]

B. Points of Strength:

i. The millennium is only found in Revelation 20, which being a book of apocalyptic imagery, can justifiably be interpreted symbolically.[14]

ii. It is a long standing tradition in many denominations.

iii. The view tacitly acknowledges that the world is not getting better and better.[15] This agrees with historical reality.

iv. In the Bible, the word “thousand” is occasionally used symbolically (cf. 1 Chron. 16:15; Ps. 50:10).[16] This provides a rationale for their interpretation of “thousand” as an indefinite period.

v. Because the sheep and goat judgment in Matt 25:3 is interpreted as the same event as the great white throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). They avoid the perceived conflict when Jesus teaches that judgment takes place at his return.

vi. They avoid explaining how people enter the kingdom in natural bodies.

vii. According to Riddlebarger, “Its understanding that imminent return of Christ is the consummation of all things and marks the fullness of both the kingdom of God and the age to come.”[17]

C. Points of Weakness:

i. It is hard to imagine how one could come to this conclusion by reading the book of Revelation alone. This view appears imposed upon the plain meaning of the text.

ii. The New Testament overwhelmingly teaches that Satan is actively opposing the church (1 Cor. 7:5, 2 Cor. 4:4, 2 Cor. 2:11, 2 Cor. 11:14, Eph. 2:2, Jms. 4:7, 1 Tim 1:20, 1 Pt. 5:8) and in fact “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 Jn. 5:19b, ESV)

iii. It interprets the two resurrections of Revelation 20 differently, one spiritual (Rev.20:4) and one physical (Rev.20:5). However the same Greek word, zao, for “came to life” is used for both. Additionally, the passage itself does not indicate that the writer intended a difference of meaning.[18] Verses five and six directly contradict the notion that the first resurrection is anything but bodily physical resurrection of believers.

iv. There were no chapter divisions in the original manuscript and chapter 20 begins with the Greek preposition kai having causal and copulative relation to Christ’s parousia in chapter 19.[19] For instance, the binding of Satan is inextricably chronologically connected to Christ’s return.

v. Even though the word “thousand” is used occasionally as a long period (e.g. 1 Chron 16:15), it appears over one hundred times and only a few are non-literal, and those are hyperbole not allegory.[20]

vi. The church does not have 12 tribes and in Luke 22:30 Jesus makes clear that National Israel will not only be present in the future kingdom but that they will also retain tribal identity. If the church is now “spiritual Israel” and God was finished with National Israel this simply would not follow. Also note that the 144,000 in Revelation are chosen from the 12 tribes, again ruling out the church.

Next up Postmillennialism


[1]David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992), 4:834.

[2]Augustine. City of God, Book 20, chapter 7.

[3]Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Four: Church, Last Things (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), 548.

[4]John F. Walvoord, The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook, Includes Indexes. (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1990), 624.

[5] Edward Hindson. Revelation: Unlocking the Future, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 86.

[6]Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology : The Missing Link in Systematic Theology, Previous Ed.: 1993., Rev. ed. (Tustin, Calif.: Ariel Ministries, 1994), 123.

[7]Geisler, Systematic Theology, 549.

[8]R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000, c1998) ch. 9.

[9]Fruchtenbaum, Israelology, 128.

[10]Sproul, The Last Days, 9.

[11]Sproul, The Last Days, 9.

[12]Hindson, Revelation, 86.

[13] Geisler, Systematic Theology, 413.

[14]Fruchtenbaum, Israelology, 135.

[15]Fruchtenbaum, Israelology, 126.

[16]Geisler, Systematic Theology, 550.

[17] Kim Riddlebarger, (http://pjcockrell.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/eschatology-q-a-what-are-the-strengths-and-weaknesses-of-the-different-millennial-views/) accessed 07/04/2010.

[18]Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 896.

[19]James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible : Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order., electronic ed. (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship., 1996), G2532.

[20]Geisler, Systematic Theology, 558.