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Posts Tagged ‘Postmillennialism’

An Eschatology of VictoryAn Eschatology of Victory by J. Marcellus Kik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book in seminary (probably back in 2004). It was very helpful for my understanding of both the Olivet Discourse and of Revelation 20. Kik unfolds the OT imagery that stands both Mt 24 and Rev 20 masterfully. He’s a Preterist (orthodox, of course) when it comes to vv 3-35 of Mt 24. He notes that the far demonstrative pronoun (“that”) in vs 36 indicates that Jesus is shifting his focus from “this generation” to the very end. As to the second half of the book, I think he something of an Amillennialist when it comes to his interpretation of Rev 20. His understanding of the imagery of that chapter is magnificent and highly persuasive. In both cases, his work is illuminating and helpful. This book comes highly recommended. Don’t settle your eschatological convictions until you’ve grappled with Kik.

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Too often (mostly all the time) we gauge God’s power by our own impotence. If God can conquer one sinner, he can conquer every one of them. If God can take one soldier from the kingdom of darkness and transfer him into the Kingdom of his own dear Son, he can take ALL that’s Satan’s and give it to his Son. If you’re reading this post, chances are very high that God has done exactly this for you. If he’s done this for you, why not your recalcitrant neighbor who hates Christ? Why not your whole neighborhood? How about your whole town or county? Too much to think? Really?!

Let’s do an experiment. Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of our Christian brothers in Rome in the year AD 64. This was the year that Nero began persecuting the Christians, lighting them up in his gardens, feeding them to beasts in the Coliseum, and generally terrorizing the Christians for almost five years. Nero was the head of the Roman Empire, the greatest force in the world. This Empire was opposed to Christ and purposed (on and off) to stamp out Christianity. Okay, now we’re back in Rome, hidden underground, praying for our brothers that have been arrested, and praying that the Roman authorities do not find us. How absolutely unthinkable is it that the Roman Empire should be a Christian Empire? What kind of pipe dream is it that Caesar should become a Christian, and that Christianity should become the official religion of the Empire? That could NEVER happen… (more…)

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Absolutely gorgeous!

One of my friends on Facebook pointed to this article from a brother named Peter. Peter’s article is short and helpful, as it demonstrates the humanistic mindset into which the Reformed faith consistently runs. Peter’s major difficulty is that he’s trying to understand Calvinism with a humanistic mindset. It’s like Queen Victoria and the Bee Gees… they just don’t go together. The humanistic mindset weighs God in the balance of human assessment. The Christian mindset weighs humanity (our thoughts and emotions) in the balance of God’s revelation in Scripture. When God asserts that he has mercy on whom he will and whom he will he hardens, the Christian mindset says (more…)

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Back to our peeps… now in the fourth century. There’s a good deal of stuff going on in this century, so I’ll probably break it down into two posts and then spend some time on the great Augustine (my favorite churchman).

 

A Snifter of Whisky

Very early in the century our people ran into Roman persecution. Emperor Diocletian (244-311; rg. 284-305) was tolerant of Christianity for the majority of his reign, but was quite vicious at the end of it. Christian property was stolen, Bibles were surrendered (traditores), Christians were enslaved, churches were burned and many of our brothers were tortured because they refused to deny Christ by offering sacrifices to Caesar. Give some thought to that as you sip your Scotch whisky in a free country. Don’t feel ashamed, but glorify God and thank him for your fathers in this country. Also, use that freedom to serve Christ with gusto! Diocletian’s persecutions continued for about 10 years and increased in intensity. It reached a pitch were much of the food in the market was sprinkled with sacrificial wine. The Christians were either to apostatize or starve.

 

Then came Constantine. Here’s a person that did great things for the church of Jesus Christ, but also damaged and weakened it in significant ways. Briefly, Constantine (272-337) did the absolutely unthinkable, he converted to Christianity. What’s more, he not only made Christianity a legal religion within the Roman Empire, but he made it the official religion of the Empire. Now, sit back and put yourself in the shoes of ancient Christians before Constantine. They were illegal and persecuted by the greatest world power, Rome. The Empire was the great enemy of the church of Jesus Christ. Now, Christianity had overcome that great enemy. This is simply unthinkable, impossible. This is the geo-political equivalent of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (which, itself, was something of a geo-political event!). The world was, again, being turned upside down by Christianity. Jesus Christ, the great King of Kings, was gloriously subduing his enemies.

 

Statue of Constantine

As I mentioned, this conversion and the politico-ecclesiastical fallout was a mixed blessing. On the positive side, the Christian church assumed a privileged position and Christian scholarship encouraged. The church was largely exempted from taxes and the Roman government ordered copies of Bibles to be made and distributed. Constantine encouraged study of Palestine (many traditional sites were founded at this time). Also, Sunday was instituted as a day of rest throughout the Roman Empire.

 

On the negative side, the mixture of paganism with Christianity was very problematic. Also, affluence precipitated greed in the church. The church was unfortunately quick to forget the lessons it learned as a persecuted minority religion; it began to used the sword of the state to persecute other religions and especially heretics. The church under Constantine was too this-worldly, seeking too much of the earthly treasure.

So, rather than dismiss Constantine, let’s be wise and emulate that which was good and oppose the errors. Let’s get to work setting up a second Christendom. Let us not, however, make the same mistakes as the first… let’s make new ones. That way the third Christendom will learn from the first two and progress further. After all, Christ will have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. The kings of the earth will bow down to him and bring their increase into his courts. May God’s blessing be upon his people to 1000 generations.

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Books! Read Good Ones.

 

I posted this list as a note on Facebook earlier today. That list was supposed to be short, but I wanted to elaborate a bit about why each of these books is so important to me. Here goes.

1. The Bible by God – the whole world hangs on this book. It is God’s self-revelation unto our salvation. I loathe when people (recalling my liberal professors at University) pay lip service to the Bible, but deny its teachings. This book must rule us.

2. The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin – The only people more influential on my thinking than John Calvin are my parents (God bless them). This book rocked my little world. It was my introduction into the vast cosmos of Christian thought. Calvin is one of the great masters of Christian thought. This work is his justly famous summary of Christian doctrine.

3. Luther the Leader by John L. Nuelsen (I think) – I was a sophomore at University. I wanted to know about the Reformation. I sat in my ignorance on one side of the apartment looking across at this book on the book shelf. I knew the end of my ignorance was in its pages. This was the first book I picked up as an adult, and I picked it up with the express purpose of learning. That was awesome. It sparked a deep desire in me to know the things of God and his people – a desire that continues to burn.

4. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame – This is one of the books that my mom read to me before bed. Thanks, mom. I have not read it as an adult, but as a child it helped me develop an imagination and a sense of wonder at the way things are.

5. He Shall Have Dominion by Kenneth Gentry – This book brought just about everything together for me. It’s a book about Postmillennialism (the best book available to define and defend postmil theory), but it draws together so much: covenant, ethics, history, God’s plan of redemption, and much more. Gentry’s book helped me bring together a fulsome Christian view of all these things.

6. Theonomy in Christian Ethics by Greg Bahnsen – Bahnsen work on ethics helped me sharpen my thoughts about ethics. It’s very popular in Christian circles to be dismissive of large tracts of God’s law. Bahnsen helped me fine tune my commitment to divine law, even in the details.

7. Christian Apologetics by Cornelius Van Til – I have never worked harder to read a book than I worked to read this one. It paid off. In the words of Kenneth Gentry, Van Til helped me begin to *think* as a Christian.

8. The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul – This book helped me keep my mind in the great morass of happy-clappy Christianity that I was introduced to as an undergraduate. God’s holiness is rightly horrifying. Sproul taught me about the trauma of holiness. Thanks, R.C.

9. The Sovereignty of God by Arthur W. Pink – don’t read the abridged version of this. This work will rock you to your core. When I read it I was already convinced of the absolute sovereignty of God (call it “Calvinism” if you must). This book details how the Bible shows God’s absolute sovereignty in various areas of life, including salvation and reprobation. Pink is a great antidote to the poisons of Arminianism.

10. Westminster Standards (but especially the Shorter Catechism) – The Standards are always in my hands. They’re a consistent source of spiritual sustenance and guidance. I recall learning a great deal from the Shorter Catechism in one particular reading at an airport (LAX) in 1998.

 

Leo Tolstoy

 

11. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – I read this amazing book for the first time in 2000. Took a while, cuz it’s big and thick. That’s okay. Big books just take longer to read. Don’t be scared of them. W&P, itself, was vast and amazing, telling the story of many lives in the context of the Napoleonic Wars in Russia. Simply amazing. This book also kicked off a love affair between me and Russian authors, especially Tolstoy.

12. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway – This book taught me that people could use words to paint pictures in my mind, that they would write words that could break my heart, that being an author is art. This book (along with others) convinced me of the necessity of reading fiction for pastors. Words are powerful tools. We gotta learn how to use ’em.

13. First in his Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton by David Maraniss – This may seem like a curious book to make the top 15. I suppose that it is. Let me put it this way: Before I read this book, I abhorred Bill Clinton. After I read this book, I abhorred Bill Clinton, but thought that there were many ways that I should be more like him.  Briefly, it opened my eyes to my narrow view or assessment of people. It didn’t make me think differently about right and wrong, but it did help me access people in a broader, healthier way.

14. Confessions by Augustine – This book, to some degree, taught me devotions. It demonstrated that a thinking Christianity can be a devotional Christianity. It is proof that not only can you have both head and heart, but that the heart is diminished without the head, and the head is diminished without the heart. Also, I like reading Augustine thoughtfully kicking around an idea, an idea with which all the greatest minds in history subsequently wrestle. Augustine is a wellspring of centuries and centuries of thought.

15. Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament by J. Julius Scott, Jr. – I read this book at the end of seminary: wish I read it long before that. Scott shows how dependent the NT is on both the OT and intertestamental Judaism. This book helped me get a better view of the “historico” part of my historico-grammatico-theological hermeneutics.

Looking at my list now, I see that I should have added How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – this book’s title is cliché, but that’s only because of how successful it was. This book codifies how to treat people so that they like you. The simple version is *actually* be interested in them, focus on them, their desires and interests. Love them first, and, in turn, they’ll love you back. I think this book could be read annually with great benefit.

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We speak often of being patient with God in personal issues: waiting for a job, choosing a wife/hubby, the health of a loved one, etc. Sometimes we speak of being patient with God in the context of the local church: choosing a pastor, praying for the sick in our midst, and other stuff. We almost never speak of being patient with God as the catholic church. This comes into play in a big way with our efforts at reform. Pastor Wilson nails this concept on the head. It applies to all eschatological positions, not just the correct one. Peter teaches us this same concept in 2 Peter 3. Further, all pastors should preach this sort of patience to their flocks. We need to think in these terms: Let us plant and water in faith, trusting God for the increase.

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So, the world was against Athanasius (d. 373). Indeed, the arch-heresy of Arianism was running amok. Even so, the faith of Athanasius in the promises of the dominion of Christ’s kingdom was unshakable:

Since the Savior’s Advent in our midst, not only does idolatry no longer increase, but it is getting less and gradually ceasing to be…while idolatry and everything else that opposes the faith of Christ is daily dwindling and weakening and falling, see, the Savior’s teaching is increasing everywhere!

So also, now that the Divine epiphany of the Word of God has taken place, the darkness of idols prevails no more, and all parts of the world in every direction are enlightened by His teaching.

Compare Athanasius to the namby-pamby Christians of today that read the newspaper and faint, wondering if the church of Christ won’t just get swallowed up. I’ll take an Athanasius any day over ten limp-wristed American Evangelicals.

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