Friday, 29 October 2010

More Pre-Trib Dishonesty?

I hate to keep dwelling on this, but some people just will not let me let it go.

I was listening to David Hocking the other afternoon. Mr Hocking is, of course, a committed pre-trib rapturist, and he addressed the one passage I have often quoted that I believe disproves that very position.
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 KJV)

Mr Hocking went on to explain that the falling away (Gr. apostasia) merely meant, "departing," and applied it to the rapture, as in, the church, "departing." In fact, Strong's Concordance, as referenced in the Blue Letter Bible gives no such definition. In fact it gives only one,
1) a falling away, defection, apostasy

He then said, plainly as you can hear in his radio broadcast, that, at the temptation of Christ, when the angels ministered to Christ, " then says they departed..."

Well, first of all, I could find no reference in the Biblical text to the angels departing. The closest reference is the devil departing (Luke 4:13) and secondly, in any case, the word used is not apostasia. In fact, apostasia is used only twice in the entire New Testament, and never in the sense of a mere physical departing.

I have e-mailed Mr Hocking for clarification. Hopefully he will reply, but I'm afraid that, unless I stand to be corrected, this is another case of naivety, myopia or just plain fudging of Scripture on the part of someone clinging to an end-times pre-tribulation rapture position.

Take Care

Friday, 22 October 2010

Good Things We Did Not Provide

I was listening to Charles Price on one of my favourite radio ministries the other morning on my way to work. In fact, his program comes on from 8:30 to 9:00 AM every morning. So I have arranged to start work at 9:00, I leave the house at 8:30, and I make sure it takes me exactly half an hour to get there.

The other day, in his series on Abraham, he touched on the following passage;
When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

I never knew quite what to make of this or similar passages. Was God being unfair to those who actually did build, or plant? Was He like an overly doting parent, spoiling his children, removing their motivation to provide for themselves?

But then it struck me like a ton of bricks! This is a picture of God's amazing grace! This is a foreshadowing of what he has done for us in Jesus Christ! He has given us a salvation we did not deserve and could never provide for ourselves. What was a new land for the ancient Israelites is a picture of our new life in Christ.

I can never again think of the Israelites critically for accepting something for which they did not work, because this is what each and every Christian, born again by the Spirit of God, has received as well: a salvation for which we did not work, and which we did not deserve.

And of course, this passsage is immediately preceded by one many will recognize, and which I will quote just because it is there and cannot go unquoted:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deut 6:4-9)

Take Care

Thursday, 21 October 2010

David Jeremiah Does it Again

Just finished listening to David Jeremiah's show on the radio.
Dr Jeremiah is, of course, a committed pre-tribulation rapturist. But on his show last night he quoted the very passage to make his point that I firmly believe refutes it.
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (2 Thes 2:1-3)

He said that the first verse is clearly speaking of the rapture which, if I were in his camp, I would agree with. But then he leapt to the conclusion, and I am basically quoting him here, that this passage proves that the church will be gone before the antichrist appears! My response was an incredculous, "What ??????"
He walked word for word through the passage and then insisted on his point. What am I missing?

I'm afraid I just can't understand how someone could be so blind. Either he is seeing something I don't, and I am blind, or he is so overtaken by his pre-trib position that he, at least in this case, just doesn't see the clear teaching of Scripture. The passage clearly states that our being gathered together with Christ (the rapture) does not occur until after a rebellion (a falling away or apostasy) and the revealing of the man of lawlessness (the antichrist) is revealed.

As I have said before, there are a lot of well-known and high profile Christians in the pre-trib, or "left behind" camp, and I think that this is a most dangerous teaching, even if one subscribes to a premillenial return of Christ.

Because even if the pre-mil position is true, then teaching that the church will be gone when the man of lawlessness is revealed leaves their followers wide open for deception. If the antichrist arrives on the scene, and believers are still on the earth (as I believe is the logical Scriptural conclusion of the pre-mil position, proven by this very passage), then all those who have believed the pre-trib position will not believe that he is, indeed, the antichrist, because they will have been told all this time that he couldn't be. They will have been told by teachers they admire that they will be gone when he comes.

I believe these teachers should be careful about how adamantly they preach their beliefs, and acknowledge that their position may not be quite the certainty they insist it is.

Take Care

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Gospel Conspiracy Theory

Atheists, skeptics and others who attempt to debunk various areas of the Christian faith have long insisted that the four Gospels we have in the New Testament are there only because a certain faction, "won out" over others and, supported by the Emperor Constantine, finally imposed their views regarding the canon of Scripture at Nicaea. They say it is an illustration of history being written by the winners. This of course was quite arguably not at all the case.

I came across an interesting article on the subject at, of all places, the Huntington Post website, in a post by Charles E. Hill.
There once were, of course, other Gospels...

...Yet before there were the many Gospels, there were only the four. Not that the four were necessarily the very first writings about Jesus ever scribed, but they are the earliest which we now have. And they are the earliest whose existence we are actually sure of.

Read it all here...

It brought to mind something I had written when one of my liberal seminary professors questioned the authorship of the Gospel of John;
The earliest tradition of the Church held John to be the author. Culpepper [R. Alan Culpepper, author of the course textbook] and others have made the accusation that the superscription, "According to John," was added some time in the second century, but Martin Hengel [in his book, 'The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ'] gives, in my opinion, a convincing argument otherwise. His position is that

1. The superscriptions were not secondary additions, but part of all four Gospels as originally circulated, and
2. The Gospels did not first circulate anonymously.

Hengel says, "Nevertheless, the fact remains that it is utterly improbable that in this dark period (the first half of the second century) the four superscriptions of the Gospels, which had hitherto been circulating anonymously, suddenly came into being and, without leaving behind traces of earlier divergent titles, became established throughout the church. Let those who deny the great age and originality of the Gospel superscriptions give a better explanation of the comletely unanimous and relatively early attestation of these titles, their origins and the names of the authors associated with them. Such an explanation has yet to be given, and it never will."

Interesting stuff. Once again, the orthodox Christian need not apologize to his critics for holding to his faith.
Take Care

Friday, 15 October 2010

A Theological Question

My youngest daughter is planning her wedding for next spring and has asked me to be involved in planning the service, form a Christian perspective. I have found wedding services form two church denominations that include the following:
One says, "Spirit of God...," the other says, "Amighty God..., in whom we live and move and have our being." Something didn't quite sit right with me, and I wonder what I should think on the matter.

This phrase, of course, comes from Acts 17:28, where Paul is speaking to the men of Athens and informing them of the One they refer to as the Unknown God. It is a quote, according to my NIV Study Bible notes, from the 7th century B.C. Cretan poet Epimenides.

My question is this: Is it acceptable and accurrate to use this phrase in a Christian prayer, even though it came from a pagan source? Does Paul quoting this poet appropriate it and make it suitable for Christian purposes? Does Paul quoting this poet make it inspired Scripture?

I still haven't quite made up my mind on the issue. What does anyone think?


Saturday, 9 October 2010

Is the World Nuts?

Just compare these stories and judge for yourselves.
From Australia...
because conscientious objection by medical staff was now illegal, the hospital could employ only people who endorsed late-term abortions.

From Minnesota, USA...
Muslim cashiers at some local Target stores who object to ringing up products that contain pork are being shifted to other positions where they don’t need to, the discount retailer said Saturday.

And from Britain... harassing people engaging in outdoor public sexual acts has become a, "hate crime..."

I'm not sayin'... I'm just sayin', y'know.

Take Care
h/t David