Saturday, January 19, 2008

In defense of amillennialism

To one trying to link amillennialism to the Holocaust, from here:
falsehood . . . making noise . . . demonizing . . . libel . . . defensive . . . quibble . . . over a typo . . . petty . . . quote us chapter and verse and identify your translation or you're just making noise . . . dangerous and not Biblical.
A "typo"? Does that mean you had to search online to find out what amillennialism is? If so, then how can you accuse me of "noise" when you don't even know what the term means?

Out of all the possible articles available to humanity, how do you select one that misrepresents the idea that badly? What does that say about your judgment? Your intentions?

Still I will address your comments.

Speaking of "noise," this is from your link:
"The Church Stands in Proxy of Christ"

"Amillennialism is a belief . . . that the literal return of the Messiah . . . is not true . . . ."

". . . the rule of the church body politic . . . ."

". . . no millenial reign of Christ at all."

"Amillennialism lends itself to a diminishing of the Judaic birthright as firstborn of the chosen of God."

". . . the church "replaces" Israel . . . ."

"and in essence replaces even Christ himself on earth, becoming a self-ordained Christ -in -Proxy."

". . . the Church . . . sets itself in the stead of Christ and the Jewish nation, this position leads to the denigration of both . . . ."

"Instead of a millenium of the reign of Christ on earth, there becomes a "Messianic age" with a church and its figureheads as ushering in a utopian age, reinterpreting scripture in terms of church-initiated doctrine and dogma."

". . . the church replaces Christ as "decision maker" and the church replaces the Word of God as the final authority . . . the church confuses the sovereignty of God's dominion with the dominion given man."
That's a significant majority of the beginning o[f] your article.

It's all false.

Depending on whom you ask (someone trying to link the Biblical understanding of amillennialism with the Holocaust is either a malicious liar or stupendously ignorant), amillennialism is the belief (derived from Scripture) that Christ does reign on Earth through His word, the Church (all believers in Christ) endures the Great Tribulation, and Christ will return to deliver His people at the Last Day. The Biblical distinction between the Spiritual and Civil Kingdoms is recognized and upheld.

This understanding comes directly from the clear testimony of Scripture.

In Matthew 24, Jesus answers His disciples' questions about the destruction of the Temple and the End of the Age. Regarding the end, Christ says that it will come unexpectedly, and He notes the signs that will precede it. His description of it indicates that life will be going on as it always has, that Christians will be persecuted, and that His return will come without warning.

From the ESV:
"For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:38, 39).
Or from the King James, 1611:
"For as in the dayes that were before the Flood, they were eating, and drinking, marrying, and giuing in mariage, vntill the day that Noe entred into the Arke, And knew not vntill the Flood came, and tooke them all away: so shall also the comming of the Sonne of man be" (Matthew 24:38, 39).
On the "true Israel," straight from the Apostle Paul who described himself as a "Hebrew of Hebrews," was an expert in the Law of Moses (he was a Pharisee), and who persecuted the Early Church.

Just before these comments Paul laments that he would go to hell in place of his fellow Jews:
"not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but 'Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.'

"This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring" (Romans 9:6-9).
This echoes John the Baptist and his Cousin's charges against the Jewish religious leadership who counted their genetic history as sufficient for salvation, even though they rejected their God and His Messiah.

From John:
"do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham" (Matthew 3:9).
From his Cousin, the Son of God:
"They answered him, 'Abraham is our father.'

"Jesus said to them, 'If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did'" (John 8:39, 40).
And again back to Paul:
"For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God" (Romans 2:28, 29).
On God's Chosen People, from the Apostle Peter, to Christians (who by this time were not only Jewish, but also Gentile):
"it stands in Scripture: 'Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.'

. . .

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:6, 9).
On Jew and Gentile being now one man in Christ, from Paul:
"Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called 'the uncircumcision' by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands--remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

"For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility" (Ephesians 2:11-16).
And, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).

As for the Tribulation, it's not some future event:
"I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 1:9).
A place at which confusion (and outright deception) comes is in misreading Revelation. Reading the New Testament texts regarding the end without Revelation leads to the commonsense understanding noted above from Matthew. People see the numbers and signs in Revelation -- which are intended to be understood symbolically, not literally -- and make up all sorts of nonsense.

Demonstrating that the visions John received by revelation contained symbolism:
"Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.

"As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches" (Revelation 1:19, 20).
We know from Scripture that Christ resurrected physically, so this bit from Chapter 5 contains symbolism:
"And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth" (Revelation 5:6).
If you want to argue that Revelation does not use symbolism, would you say that Jesus in Heaven has a sword in His mouth? Or that there's only 144,000 people in Heaven?

As for the Apostles' expecting Christ's imminent return, here's a little from Paul:
"the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.

"The night is far gone; the day is at hand" (Romans 13:11, 12).
From Peter:
"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

"Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God" (2 Peter 3: 10-12).
And from John:
"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.

"The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

"He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:16-20)!
And from the author of the Letter to the Hebrews (possibly Paul):
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24, 25).
*Finally, Christ said regarding His kingdom:
"My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world" (John 18:36).

"nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you" (Luke 17:21).
*Added 1/20