10 Reasons Barack Obama is NOT the Antichrist

Chris White has done a masterful job here.

 

Dispensationalism: the Key to Bible Prophecy (part 1)

By Cris D. Putnam
DISPENSTION-History-chartArguably from the inception of the church (although lost under Romanism), dispensationalism has been and still is the key to biblical prophecy. Since its recovery in the nineteenth century there have been three major versions: classic (Darby, Larkin and Scofield), revised (Walvoord, Pentecost, Chafer, and Towns), and progressive (Bock, Blaising, Feinberg and Saucy) dispensationalism. All divide history based on God’s covenants as successive revelations in the progression of God’s redemptive program and sustain a premillennial futurist interpretation of prophecy. As a founding member of the revised school, Charles Ryrie emphasized three elements: 1) Distinction between church and Israel;[i] 2) Philosophy of History;[ii] 3) Literal interpretation of scripture.[iii] He offers strong and compelling arguments against covenant theology which is the system of theology that centers on two contrived covenants: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace.[iv] It typically dismisses God’s actual covenant promises to Israel and argues that most all of prophecy is fulfilled in Christ. While I’m largely in agreement with Ryrie that covenant theology is an artificial system lacking biblical support, I do think progressive dispensationalists make some good points.

Concerning point one, I strongly disagree with supercessionism (that the church has entirely superseded Israel or replacement theology). I believe God will fulfill His Old Testament promises as they were understood, not in the decontextualized manner applied to the Church found in Roman Catholicism and unfortunately most of evangelical covenant theology. In this sense, the reformers stopped short. God made specific promises to the descendants of Jacob and David concerning their ancestral line, the land and political sovereignty. Only the Mosaic covenant was conditional. The Abrahamic (Gen 12) and Davidic (2 Sam. 7) were unconditional and everlasting. The Davidic is often overlooked:

“And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’(2 Sa 7:10–17 cf. 1 Chron. 17)

Like the Abrahamic covenant, the Davidic covenant was irrevocable—“established forever” and despite innumerable acts of unfaithfulness on Israel’s part, God will be absolutely faithful. The Davidic covenant promises to Israel a political, religious, visible earthly kingdom, and God personally guaranteed that it would endure forever and that all nations would be blessed through it, based on His faithfulness.

“I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him, so that my hand shall be established with him; my arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not outwit him; the wicked shall not humble him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers. He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firm for him. I will establish his offspring forever and his throne as the days of the heavens. If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules, if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah( Ps 89:20–37)

God spoke through the original inspired author who certainly did not have an ethereal metaphorical Israel in mind when he composed those words. David understood the promises in a matter of fact manner. I have never read a supercessionist reply to these passages that did not cast God in the role of a prankster who deceived David.

Paul writes in Romans that Gentiles are grafted into Israel. This implies God’s chosen people includes the church as well as a remnant of ethnic Israel, now and especially at the Second Coming (Rom 11:26-27, Zec 12:10). While the distinction applies in this current dispensation due to Israel’s supernatural blinding (Rom 11:25; 2 Cor 3:14; Mat 23:39), I believe we merge into one people at Christ’s return. Thus, I commend the holistic view described by Bock and Blaising, “God will save humankind in its ethnic and national plurality. But, He will bless it with the same salvation given to all without distinction; the same, not only in justification and regeneration, but also in sanctification by the indwelling Holy Spirit.”[v] It seems unlikely that ethnicity will much matter upon Christ’s return to rule from Jerusalem.

 

Next week part two picks up with the dispensational philosophy of history.



[i] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Dispensationalism, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1995), 148.

[ii] Ryrie, Dispensationalism, 20.

[iii] Ryrie, Dispensationalism, 102.

[iv] Stanley Grenz, David Guretzki and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 32.

[v] Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1993), 47.

 

Why Preterism Seems Absurd… (part 4)

By Cris Putnam
In case you aren’t familiar, preterism the idea that most of bible prophecy was fulfilled during the first century with the events surrounding the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. The ESV study Bible definition:

Preterism (from Latin praeteritum, “the thing that is past”) thinks that the fulfillment of most of Revelation’s visions already occurred in the distant past, during the early years of the Christian church.[1]

This is an idea I find untenable. It is the result of inappropriately conflating Jesus predictions concerning the temple with his discussion of his return in glory. I believe I have made a decisive case against it already and this is a continuation of the series including: part 1, part 2, & part 3.

Another, reason that preterism seems absurd is Jesus’ use of material from Daniel 12 which cannot be relegated to the first century.

“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.”(Mt 24:21)

It is quite clear that Jesus is quoting from Daniel 12:

“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.”(Da 12:1)

What makes this fatal to a preterist interpretation of Matthew 24 which attempts to relegate this passage to the events of AD 70 is that the next event in Daniel 12 is the resurrection of the dead and event which occurs in Revelation 20 necessarily after the glorious return of Christ.

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”(Da 12:2)

Furthermore, identical language is used in the book of Revelation firmly establishing the futurist interpretation of these unprecedented events.

“And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.(Re 16:18)

The book of Revelation also repeats “the Great Tribulation” terminology connecting Matthew 24, Daniel 12 and the judgments in Revelation.

“I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Re 7:14)

One more biblical reason that preterism seems absurd.
 



[1] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2457.

The Significance of Eschatology in Theology and Preaching

By Cris Putnam
I believe eschatology is not only an essential element of theology and preaching it is a necessary one. I argue its necessity in light of its unfortunate marginalization by a large percentage of the nominal church. Accordingly, I contend that the answer to the Gospel’s greatest challenge is eschatological. The ancient philosopher Epicurus asked, “if there is a benevolent and sovereign God, then why is there so much evil and suffering?” The Bible has a coherent answer to the problem of evil. Scripture presents a God who knows the end from the beginning and reveals future events (Is 46:9-10). It predicts that evil will not prevail in God’s economy (Is 11:6-9, 2:2-4; Re 21:4) and a day of reckoning is coming (Is 13:9; Ob 15 ff; 1 Th 5:2; 2 Pe 3:10; Re 16:16). Rather than understanding the term apocalypse as the “end of the world,” end time prophecy is the revelation of redemption.

The great hope and significance of existence is wrapped up in God’s eschatological plan. New Testament scholar Gordon Fee writes, “The theological framework of the entire New Testament is eschatological.”[1] The Greek word for the “end” is eschaton, meaning when God brings our present age to consummation. Jesus announced the kingdom was at hand at his first coming (Mt 3:2; Mk 1:15) but later qualified that it will not be fully realized until his second coming (Mk 14:25; Rev 20:4). The kingdom is inaugurated but not realized, a paradigm called the “already-not-yet” in New Testament theology. Bock and Blaising explain that this “links the plan of God into a unified whole.”[2] Based on this, one can see that eschatology is not a fringe element of Christian theology rather the fundamental structure by which it is understood. Since this is the case, why is it marginalized?

Timothy Jones warns of two contrasting errors: 1) a slip into unjustified speculation; 2) a slip into skeptical cynicism.[3] Given the inherent tension in the “already/ not yet” both are understandable. On one hand, we long for the resolution of evil and it is only natural look to for signs. On the other hand, the last two thousand years of anticipation compounded by the constant barrage of secularism promotes skepticism. Of course, either extreme results in error. In the first case, Harold Camping’s date setting resulted in the slaughter and arrest of hundreds of Hmong Christians.[4] On the opposite end, people leave the church because they have no hope. It seems like God wants every generation to expect the Lord’s return. John uses its promise as a call to holy living (1 Jn 2:28). Paul writes “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” (Ro 13:11) In fact, he encourages Titus, back in the first century, to wait for the “blessed hope” (Tit 2:13). For this hope to encourage, one must believe it can actualize.

 

 



[1] Fee, Gordon D. ; Stuart, Douglas K.: How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, MI : Zondervan Publishing House, 1993, S. 145.

[2] Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism, 98 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1993).

[3] Timothy Paul Jones, Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy, Kindle Edition, (Torrence, CA: Rose Publishing, 2012), Kindle Locations 59-63.

[4] Nicola Menzie, “Harold Camping Linked to Huge ‘Massacre’ of 100’s of Hmong Christians” The Christian Post, http://www.christianpost.com/news/harold-camping-linked-to-hmong-christians-massacre-in-vietnam-52351/ (accessed 10/25/2012).

Why Preterism Seems Absurd… (part 3)

Preterists routinely assert that the Antichrist or “Beast” already appeared in the first century and that Revelation 13 and its associated texts have been fulfilled. For instance, Kenneth L. Gentry writes,

I understand the beast to portray the Roman empire (kingdom) generally and Emperor Nero Caesar (king) specifically. I do so for several reasons. (1) The events and characters of Revelation are in the time of John’s original audience (1:1, 3; 22:6, 10, 12). Interestingly, the beast arises from the sea (13:1), which reflects the geographical perspective of Rome when considered either from Patmos (from where John writes) or Israel (of which John writes).[1]

This fails on a number of levels the most flagrant being that most scholars date the book of Revelation to after the time of the events in question. GK Beale writes, “The consensus among twentieth-century scholars is that the Apocalypse was written during the reign of Domitian around 95 ad” [2] Furthermore, the ancient witness supports the later dating as well. Irenaeus placed the time of writing “almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.”[3] The church historian Eusebius agreed with Irenaeus’ view.[4]

Also the apostle John, the author of the book of Revelation, in a letter written in the 90s predicts a future antichrist, “Παιδία, ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν, καὶ καθὼς ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἀντίχριστος ἔρχεται, καὶ νῦν ἀντίχριστοι πολλοὶ γεγόνασιν, ὅθεν γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν.” (1 Jn 2:18) Here we see “antichrist” as a nominative singular juxtaposed against “antichrists” nominative plural. It also has a chiastic structure:

A. This is the last hour

B. Antichrist is coming

B´. Many antichrists have come

A´. This is the last hour.

The last hour began with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (cf. Heb. 1:2) and his second coming could occur at any time. But John is arguing in AD 90 that we know it’s the last hour because the “antichrist” (nominative singular) “is coming” – (ἔρχεται – present, middle/passive, indicative, 3rd person, singular). It is abundantly clear that writing well after the destruction of the temple, John means to say that although many false teachers or false messiahs have already appeared, he is still expecting the final one. Given he wrote the book of Revelation, I’ll take his word for it.

Moreover, John stated that he wrote the Apocalypse on the island of Patmos, and according to the church Father, Tertullian, John was banished from Rome to Patmos after being miraculously preserved from a plunge into boiling oil.[5] It is said that the entire Coliseum audience were converted to Christianity upon witnessing this miracle. This event was set during the reign of Domitian supporting the late date of John’s exile.

In fact, I just don’t see any preterists in the early church and shouldn’t they have been in a position to know? When you read their writings it is clear they did not believe that prophecies had been fulfilled. For instance, the Didache (The Teaching of the 12 Apostles) dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century, still anticipates the events predicted by Jesus in the Olivet discourse to occur in the future:

16. Be watchful for your life; let your lamps not be quenched and your loins not ungirded, but be ye ready; for ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh. 2And ye shall gather yourselves together frequently, seeking what is fitting for your souls; for the whole time of your faith shall not profit you, if ye be not perfected at the last season. 3For in the last days the false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate. 4For as lawlessness increaseth, they shall hate one another and shall persecute and betray. And then the world-deceiver shall appear as a son of God; and shall work signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands; and he shall do unholy things, which have never been since the world began. 5Then all created mankind shall come to the fire of testing, and many shall be offended and perish; but they that endure in their faith shall be saved by the Curse Himself. 6And then shall the signs of the truth appear; first a sign of a rift in the heaven, then a sign of a voice of a trumpet, and thirdly a resurrection of the dead; 7yet not of all, but as it was said: The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him. 8Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.[6]

The Didache was lost for centuries until a Greek manuscript was rediscovered in 1873 by Philotheos Bryennios, a Greek Orthodox Bishop. In this ancient manuscript, we see an overt reference to Mathew 24:12 and that future “world-deceiver shall appear as a son of God; and shall work signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands; and he shall do unholy things, which have never been since the world began.” The Apostolic fathers were not preterists. Neither were any of the apostles. Paul firmly connects the end time abomination of desolation and Antichrist to the temple:

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Th 2:3–4)

This refers to a literal rebuilt temple because Paul’s readers in Thessalonica would have certainly understood the Jerusalem Temple. This end time event is also predicted in Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 12:11 and finds parallel in Revelation 13:5-8. The early church fathers and several modern scholars accept the literal view. This man is the Antichrist (1 John 2:18) and Paul connected his appearance to the time of Christ’s second coming, “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.” (2 Th 2:8) Jesus did not return in AD 70, so this is necessarily future. I wrote my exegetical research paper for my Masters on 2 Thessalonians 2, if you are interested in a in depth analysis, you can download it here.

If the preterist view is true, it seems John and Paul were wrong about the final Antichrist. The early Fathers Irenaeus, Tertullian and Eusebius and the majority of modern biblical scholars are all wrong about the dating or, even worse, the book of Revelation does not belong in the cannon because it’s a farce written after the fact. Either conclusion puts preterism on the fringe. Also, if preterism were true it seems like the early church would be celebrating the fulfillment of those prophecies not still expecting them to come to pass. These are just a few more reasons for why preterism seems so absurd to me.



[1]Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., “A Preterist View of Revelation” In , in Four Views on the Book of Revelation, ed. Stanley N. Gundry and C. Marvin Pate, Zondervan Counterpoints Collection (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 68.

[2]G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation : A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 4.

[3] Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.30.3.

[4] Eusebius, Church History 3.18.3.

[5] Tertullian, The Prescription of Heretics, ch. 36; http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0311.htm (accessed 7/7/2012).

[6] Joseph Barber Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer, The Apostolic Fathers (London: Macmillan and Co., 1891), 235.