Home > Brandenburg, Mix 'n Match > Amillennialism and Gentile Arrogance

Amillennialism and Gentile Arrogance

We live in the midst of a revival of replacement theology. A growing gaggle of Gentile commentators call national Israel long dead and buried, but I am happy to announce that reports of her death are greatly exaggerated. God still plans for Israel, even while we speak. Among other human authors, that’s what the Apostle Paul tells us, and especially in Romans 11. He also explains these types of accusations—Gentile arrogance or conceit—when he writes (vv. 23-26):

And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

Paul warned Gentile believers about becoming proud because unbelieving Israel was cut off from blessing so that the blessing might be offered to Gentiles—if God wouldn’t spare the natural branches, Israel, then He surely wouldn’t spare the wild ones, the ones contrary to nature, the Gentiles (churches) [v. 24]. And then he says explicitly in v. 25 that he gave this warning so that the Gentiles would not “be wise in [their] own conceits.” God gave this to Paul because he knew that then and in the future the Gentiles could get all full of themselves over their part in God’s plan for them and then show that toward the Jews. Taken to its end, the Gentiles could completely dismiss the Jews at all as having a part in God’s plan. No, the Gentiles were just grafted in; that’s all. They weren’t even the natural plant. God was still going to work through the nation Israel.

Everyone should look at v. 26, because Paul says that “all Israel shall be saved.” He doesn’t say that a “remnant” shall be saved. “All Israel” should be taken as “all Israel”—the entire nation. In this context, why would Gentiles see “all Israel” as only a redeemed remnant that is sucked up by “the church”? Answer: Gentile arrogance and conceit.

Gentile Christians at their worst could tend toward hatred of Jews spurred by an arrogance about their view of Gentiles in God’s plan. Instead of seeing themselves as grafted branches, they think they’re natural. And then Israel isn’t even a graft, let alone the main original stalk. Unrestrained by the Holy Spirit through conversion, a perversion of Christianity, Roman Catholicism, took on anti-semitic practices all over the world.

Augustine, one of Christianity’s most influential leaders, likened the Jewish people to Cain, who had murdered his own brother and thus became the first murderer in history. He wrote that Jews were a “wicked sect” who should be subjected to permanent exile because of their evil ways. He wrote in his Confessions (12.14):

How hateful to me are the enemies of your Scripture! How I wish that you would slay them (the Jews) with your two-edged sword, so that there should be none to oppose your word! Gladly would I have them die to themselves and live to you!

Roman Catholicism officially made these decrees:

  • Trulanic Synod (692)_prohibited Christians from being treated by Jewish doctors.
  • Synod of Narbonne (1050)_prohibited Christians from living in Jewish homes.
  • Synod of Gerona (1078)_required Jews to pay taxes to support the Church.
  • Third Lateran Council (1179)_prohibited certain medical care to be provided by Christians to Jews.
  • Fourth Lateran Council (1215)_required Jews to wear special clothing to distinguish them from Christians.
  • Council of Basel (1431-1443)_forbade Jews to attend universities, them from acting as agents in the conclusion of contracts between Christians, and required that they attend church sermons.

The anti-semitic legacy passed from Roman Catholicism to reformers of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther wrote:

First their synagogues . . . should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians . . . . Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed… For, as has been said, God’s rage is so great against them that they only become worse and worse through mild mercy, and not much better through severe mercy. Therefore away with them . . . . To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may be free of this insufferable devilish burden — the Jews.

We can find a similar attitude as Luther by John Calvin, surely influenced by his replacement theology or Gentile arrogance. Barry Horner has written about this in his book, Future Israel. Being gracious, I believe, Horner says that there is a strong anti-Judaism in Reformed Theology saying Israel had lost its election, lost the right to all its covenants and promises. He further writes:

The wrong perception of Israel and the Jews by so-called Christians has produced consequences of horrific proportions during the history of the church. Such a shameful legacy perpetrated during the illustrious Reformation and onwards remains undiminished, largely unconfessed and still prevalent in substantial degrees up to the present within a Calvinistic Reformed and Sovereign Grace environment.

A lot of support exists for Israel from “evangelical Christianity” in the United States, but the recent increase of reformed theology and then amillennialism has resulted in a decreased support from professing evangelicals. When Israel hears of replacement, it all sounds eerily familiar, hearkening back to centuries of persecution from “Christians.” It is no wonder then that Israel’s and American Jew’s attitudes toward Christianity becomes more hostile.

With Divinely empowered prescience, the Apostle Paul warned of Gentile conceit. My own opinion is that amillennialism was conceived from this very arrogance. Instead of merely shelving Israel as Scripture reveals, the Roman Catholics and then Protestant Reformed replace her with “the church.” The great privilege that God has given us as Gentile believers doesn’t nullify the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants (or however else young Calvinists want to explain it). The destiny of Israel will be reversed. Her return to the Lord not only is possible but certain. All Israel will be saved. Gentile Christians should embrace God’s promises—if God could nullify His promises to the natural tree, then He certainly could for the grafted branches too.

  1. ct
    July 16, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    This is not an impressive post, Mr. Brandenburg. You are capable of better. The ‘replacement’ in so-called replacement theology is a canard. And the ‘motive’, so-called, of seeing amillenialism as biblical doctrine is Covenant – Federal – Theology itself. There’s a thin line between your definition of ‘biblicism’ and know-nothingism.

  2. July 17, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Amen, Bro. Brandenburg. I have come to this same conclusion over the past several years, primarily because of Romans 11. Given that this book was written to the Romans (Gentiles), the 2nd (thou, ye) and 3rd (they, these, their) person pronouns make it impossible to mean anything else!

    Great post. For more “Christian”, anti-Jewish attrocities visit this site:
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/jud_pers1.htm
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/jud_pers3.htm
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/jud_pers2.htm

    While I don’t advocate the world view of this web site’s authors, they have compiled an impressive list of related material. They conclude that while the Nazis were not carrying out the dictates of the Catholic Church, the holocaust would also not have been possible without centuries of inbred, Catholic-encouraged, antisemitism.

    You can see that the Catholic Church, national and local governments, and even angry mobs of “Christians” went a long way to carrying out the words of Augustine, Luther and Calvin.

    Amen to supporting the Jews. It has been a point of national pride with me that the United States remains the single national defender of Israel, sticking their finger in the eye of the rest of the world. I think God is using America to preserve National Israel until the appointed time.

  3. Doug
    July 17, 2008 at 11:25 am

    My problem is that there is no distinction made between the nation Israel and the religion of Judaism. In Paul, Israel is not a modern state. Also, in Paul’s day only Judea really existed… the 10 northern tribes had been scattered among the Gentiles. In Paul’s understanding, God brings in Israel in 2 ways: 1) fulfillment of the promise to gather all Israel [which has to include Gentiles since they are spread among us] and 2) the conversion of the Jews to the Christian Faith. That is not to nullify Judaism as a religion at all. After all, Christianity is a Jewish “sect”. Christianity is the fulfillment of the promises to Israel/Jews, therefore, there is no replacement but a fulfillment. I think Vatican II and other encyclicals have made this point abundantly clear. I don’t think you have done your homework on the modern day understanding of Isreal-Judasim in the Catholic context. Apologies have been made for the Church’s persecution of the Jews.

  4. Thomas
    July 17, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    “Replacement” might indeed be a canard, but exaggerated supersessionism IS a characteristic of Reformed and Lutheran Theology.

    I think a distinction should be made between anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism. Whereas the latter generally describes a legitimate phenomenon in historic Christianity, the former is a form of racial prejudice most notable in Nazism.

    As for the history of anti-Judaism in Catholicism, medieval Christians (that would include the Reformation) universally held all Jews accountable for the crucifixion of Jesus. This phenomenon (known as the charge of “Christ killers”) was explicitly refuted by the Second Vatican Council. On a theological level, the Jews and the continued existence of the Synagogue was for medieval Christians a threat – since every Christian at one time or another has asked himself why would the people of God reject the messiah, one of their own, if his claims were true? – unless there was and still is something wrong with them!

    John Paul II was the first pope in history to enter the Synagogue in Rome – symbolically the center of European (Ashkenazi) Jewry. It was only the Holocaust that made this remarkable occurrence possible. On the other hand, the Jewish community was allowed to exist in medieval Christian Europe – a privilege not accorded to other religions (note in particular the crusades against Islam and Albigensianism – and eventually the inter-confessional wars of religion). There was always a sense of some significance to the Jews in the Christian era; but they were still regarded as rejected by God and holding on to a no longer valid covenant relationship. Even at the time of the Second Vatican Council, H. Danielou – a progressive theologian in his own right – remarked that the Jews were just another people with no special standing from Christian perspective (the Council would say otherwise). And yet, there they were – and are – keeping as best they can the covenant God made with Abraham and with Israel at Sinai. It is one thing to condemn paganism. It is another to condemn what Jews and Christians agree are the ordinances of God given to the fathers.

    Without the interpretation of Paul’s letters, which, especially since the Reformation, view Judaism and Christianity as separate religions rooted in antithetical principles (law vs. grace), can we continue to justify Christian anti-Judaism? Is it a forgone conclusion that the old covenant is invalid ever since the death and resurrection of Jesus? Current Catholic thought on the subject tends to look at Judaism in terms of a valid covenant that nonetheless has its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Whether that means that Jews should be persuaded to unite their Jewishness with faith in Jesus or whether Christians should avoid actively evangelizing Jews on the basis of Paul’s prophecy regarding the end times conversion of the Jews is a matter of debate – although most Catholic theologians would favor the latter… if they were at all persuaded by one of these two options.

    I have a theologian colleague who is very dissatisfied with the eschatological explanation of the old covenant (option number two) given by Cardinal Kasper in response to the criticism of the recent revision of the Prayer for the Jews for the Good Friday service in the moto proprio Latin liturgy. He thinks that the theological significance of the Jewish Christian relationship is in origins not in ends. I’m not prepared to go that far. I think there is much fruit for reflection and speculation in the idea that the old covenant not only looked forward to the paschal mystery – which we must believe as orthodox Christians – but that it looked forward to an eschatological future as well. Thus if both Christianity and Judaism have a hope for the ultimate future bound up with the Kingdom of God and the Messiah, then differing interpretations of the meaning of these things can be kept in creative tension.

  5. July 17, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    I’m back.

    It’s hard to answer your comment, CT. I’m presently in Isaiah 60 on Sunday mornings at our church and have preached about 140 messages from there. I’ve preached through Deuteronomy. I’m just into Luke 3 on Wednesday nights. Scripture taken grammatically/historically debunks amillennialism. If it isn’t in Scripture, where did it come from—I see Platonism, the allegorical approach to Scripture seen in Origen. If you’re ammillennial, I’ll say that for sure I wasn’t targeting you with the post. I’m just calling it as I see t.

    Here is an article (click on link) that deals with replacement theology. Everything I’ve read about it says that I’m hitting it bullseye here. Paul’s description of Gentile reaction to being grafted in Rom 11 also hits the amillennialism. I don’t at all understand the “canard” charge or “know-nothingism.” It doesn’t help your cause, CT.

    Thanks Jason.

    Hello Doug and Hello Thomas.

    Thomas, are you the Thomas of SharperIron?

  6. July 17, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    I have a few questions on this. When I preached through Romans, it was very obvious to me that the interpretation of chapter 11 has to be exactly what you have said here. It certainly is not amillenial.

    Where I struggle is with the statement of Paul in Galatians 6:16 — “the Israel of God.” Paul makes it very clear that “they are not all Israel which are of Israel.” We find this in passages like Romans 2:28-29; 9:6, etc.

    So, Paul clearly believes in a spiritual Israel. Would you say then that what Paul is saying is that the church is grafted into the nation of Israel, and not the other way around? And is this what he means when he says that all Israel shall be saved?

    And if so, since the bride of Christ is the holy city of Jerusalem, would we say that the bride is Israel and not the church? Or, maybe better, Israel that includes the church?

  7. July 17, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Hi Dave. I’ve preached through Revelation three times and at the end I see every saved person as Jehovah’s wife or Christ’s bride and entering into the kingdom. What we are talking about is the kingdom of God, which is a soteriological entity. Those who enter the kingdom by faith spiritually will enter the kingdom physically. Gentiles are the children of Abraham by faith. On the other hand, not all of Israel is the Israel of God; only saved Jews. I hope that answers. My main point here is to show that all the promises God made to Israel will still be fulfilled in the nation Israel and then those who are grafted on by faith. I see the church as a smaller part of the kingdom of God, separate from Israel.

    Doug,

    I never really answered your comment. A literal view of Scripture sees Israel as put on hold, on the shelf, to wait for some future new time. This framework of prophecy is seen in Daniel 9:24-27. Do you remember in Luke 2:36 we see Anna is of the tribe of Asher? That was one of the ten tribes northern tribes. They still knew what tribe they were in, but more importantly God knows what tribe they are from, because in Revelation we see that God will save at least 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel (Revelation 7).

    And the church couldn’t be a fulfillment of the Abrahamic and Davidic promises. Those were very specific, not yet fulfilled, and to the Jews. Simeon and Anna and Zacharias in Luke 1-2 was still looking for them. And Jesus intimated clearly in Acts 1:6-7 that those promises to Israel would still be fulfilled.

    Doug, perhaps you are Roman Catholic and the pope has apologized for killing Jews. I’m looking at the reason for the killing of Jews as being out of Gentile arrogance as showing up in RC and in the Protestants, especially state churches. More importantly for you would be to consider the Scriptural truth of salvation by grace alone through faith alone (Romans 3:28; Romans 4:1-6; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).

  8. July 17, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    This post really peaked my interest. I am not very versed in eschatology. So, thank you for the boost.

    As for Israel being saved, can it mean all Israel at the time? Or, using the same verse Dave mentioned, all true Israel?

  9. ct
    July 17, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    >After all, Christianity is a Jewish “sect”.

    Fundamentally you guys have either a problem with, or lack of understanding of, Covenant – Federal – Theology. To say that Christianity is a “Jewish sect” you have to have a very shallow understanding of the Bible and the unity of the Old and New Testaments. What you claim as your chief glory – your definition of biblicism – is where you are falling most short.

  10. July 17, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Incidentally, is there anyone out there besides myself who sees through Barak Obama’s pseudo-Christianity, to reveal this same theology that Rome used to justify persecution? Isn’t amillenialism part of black liberation theology, and aren’t they willing to use all types of religious doctrines to try to control and manipulate the masses into working for them to bring in their kingdom? His ex-pastor is an avowed black liberation theologian, and Obama heard that for years.

  11. July 17, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    CT, you have a very shallow understanding of the differences between Old and New Testaments. This criticism works both ways. Instead, of criticizing, give some strong scriptural support, if you can, for what your saying, instead of making generalizations. As for covenant theology, you hit the nail on the head. I think most of us here DO have a problem with it, and think that it is not biblical.

  12. ct
    July 17, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    It’s OK to have a problem with Covenant Theology, but you really need to understand something before you criticize it. And, it’s rather difficult to answer any of you specifically because you seem to silently load all sorts of malevolent things into the term Amillennialism. Amillennialism isn’t even a term that existed during the Reformation, but came about to distinguish historic Reformed views from 19th century views such as Dispensationalism. And Rome’s dark army the Jesuits specifically came up with a new fangled theory called Preterism to get the heat off their anti-Christ church and Pope that historic amillennialists put on them, so
    Rome and modern day amillennialists are hardly on the same page.

  13. July 18, 2008 at 5:08 am

    That may well be true of the term “amillenialism.” But it is far from true of a literal interpretation of the thousand year reign of Christ.

  14. Thomas
    July 18, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Kent,

    No, I’m not that Thomas.

    As for your remark to Doug about what should be more important for him (i.e., the alleged “Scriptural truth of salvation by grace alone through faith alone”), not only is it unfortunate that you have to engage in denominational polemics when the topic of conversation is something else, but you are yourself in a problematic position with respect to covenant theology (aka ct). Justification by faith alone is a Reformation doctrine. It is the Reformation theology of the law of the Old Covenant that is mostly responsible for the misrepresentation of the theology of historic Judaism (both Biblical and Rabbinic). We learn from the Reformers and their successors that Judaism is a legalistic religion. This helps illuminate the freedom and mercy of the religion of the Gospel. Thus the law-gospel dichotomy of Reformation Theology needs to caricature and disparage Judaism in this way. So on the one hand, you want fair treatment for the Jews, but on the other hand, you subscribe to a soteriology rooted in the very theology that maligns the Jewish theological tradition.

    In other words, if Jews as Jews have some legitimate claim to make regarding their knowledge and love of God – and his love for them, then they cannot be the legalistic villains that sola gratia theology makes them out to be. And without their villainy, what becomes of the popular perception of the parallel between Paul’s struggle against the “proto-pelagianism” of first century Judaism and Luther’s struggle against the pelagianism of late medieval Roman Catholicism?

    If you seek to advocate for the Jews, know that you are endangering the doctrines of grace taught by the Reformation, as these take for granted a misinterpretation of the Jewish theology of Torah.

  15. Doug
    July 18, 2008 at 9:14 am

    Kent,

    As far as the 10 tribes go, I am not saying that there were not any of them around, what I am saying is that it is Biblical and historical fact that the 10 tribes were dispersed long before the time of Christ. Their ethnic identity was mixed with whatever Gentile group “absorbed” them and the very reason they were dispersed is because they were not faithful to Judaism. My point is that is God is to gather ethnic Israel (which Israel is 10 tribes not 2) then he must save the Gentiles that mixed with them.

    Again, the problem is a confusion of terms. Is Israel a nation in Scripture or a people? There is a difference. Secondly, the nation of Israel today at best could only be made up of the 2 tribes of Judea ethnically. Most are European Jews. If you do believe that God has made promises to a nation named Israel that was re-organized by the Allies after WWII, then I would like to see that in Scripture AND Church history. I do not believe it can be proven. Lastly on this point, for there to be a true Biblical nation of Israel it must include all 12 tribes and there in lies the problem, because now we are talking about ethnicity and not just the practice of the Jewish faith.

    I think Scripture teaches that the Jews and all of Israel have a special place in the Church. If you understand what I have said above, there is no doubt that the 10 tribes are already apart of the Church. Now we wait for the fulfillment of the covenant by all of Israel, all 12 tribes coming together as one with the Gentiles in the Church.

    It is a shame that you have to resort to Reformed polemics. What makes you think that I was not a Reformed believer myself at one point?

    ct – For you to say that Christianity was not a Jewish sect is to ignore history. What was Christianity born from in not Judaism? What was it considered by the Jews of the day? By the Romans? A Jewish sect. In the eyes of the Jews and Romans, Christianity was no different than the other sects of the day. There were most diffenently sects who looked for a claimed and physical messiah. Come out side of your Calvinism and be objective.

    Last point, Thomas hits the nail on the head. The very point you are raising concerning Judaism is born out of the Reformational distinction of Justification, Law-Gospel, and Covenant theology. Ask Meredith Kline… he’ll tell you the same.

  16. July 18, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Isn’t this point of “assimilated Israel” refuted by the fact that the Jews of the world clearly did NOT assimilate to the point that after 2 millennium they did not lose their Jewish religion, stories, physical appearance and names despite being separated from each other for 2000 years?

    If you want proof, then isn’t the existence of National Israel proof enough? And, not to get to greasy here, but did you know that genetic paternity tests have been devised that can go back far enough to re-establish the tribal lineage of any one person (or an entire nation)? It is not outside of the realm of possibility to re-establish the 12 tribes with precision.

    Contrarily, my ancestors came to America 200 years ago and we’ve lost all of our national identities, we’ve intermarried, we’ve shed the religion of our ancestors and have even morphed our family names over the generations. Simply put, we’ve forgotten who we were! They never did.

    On a separate point, God designed the temple to have a court of gentiles that was outside of the court of the Jews. The temple layout didn’t emphasize containment, but proximity to the symbols of God. As God knows human nature and that exclusion without humility breeds jealousy and contempt, He still commanded an OUTER court of gentiles to be constructed. In other words, the mentality that Bro. Brandenburg is suggesting exists with God, demonstratively existed for all the years that the temple stood!

    God knew the Gentiles could become jealous by only being granted the outer court. God knew that the Jews would be jealous when God was found of them who did not seek Him. But we are not to boast. They are the natural root/branch and can be grafted in again. Insisting that we, the Gentile church are the natural branch IS boasting against the branch. It’s not an idle claim with no true significance. It’s not semantics only. Isn’t this exactly what is cautioned against in Romans 11?

  17. ct
    July 18, 2008 at 11:30 am

    >ct – For you to say that Christianity was not a Jewish sect is to ignore history.

    Not the history of redemption from eternity. Secular historians may see what they want to see, or can see. The Word of God lets us know that Old Testament saints were saved by faith in the coming Messiah (Jesus Christ) just as New Testament era saints are saved by faith in the already come Messiah.

  18. July 18, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    First CT, Thanks for coming over here to comment. I don’t know if you see it or not, but saying that this is malevolent is malevolent. It doesn’t aid your cause. I refer to Scripture to make a point and it would be better to answer where I have wandered from God’s Word on this. I think this is a serious Scriptural issue. Can we trust the promises of God? If we Gentiles can’t trust the promises God made to the Jews, then how would we expect Him to fulfill promises to us?

    I’m looking at Romans 11—that’s where this all started. I see a very serious warning in the text of Scripture about Gentile arrogance or conceit. In those Words, God in essence says that replacement theology comes out of the conceit of Gentiles. To take what clearly says that God is not done with all Israel, the nation Israel, and yet say God is done with Israel, comes from arrogance. Amillennialism takes this position—that God is done with the nation Israel. The Amill position may be bigger and not overlap exactly with the idea of replacement theology or supersessionism, but it obliterates Israel.

    When I go into historical theology to look for this view, I see it, as do many, many others, start at least with Origen and Augustine, among others, but those are major names, and they represent RC theology, not Biblical theology. Then I see major Reformers echoing what I see in Augustine. They have a different soteriology than RC, I grant that, but they keep the spiritualizing, allegorizing of so many texts of Scripture.

    Thomas,

    I don’t see Scriptural teaching on salvation as denominational polemics. Without justification, we have no indwelling Holy Spirit and, therefore, no illumination of Scripture. We will be blinded in our understanding of prophetic texts.

    Jesus rejected Judaism. Paul rejected Judaism. They didn’t reject Israel. That’s what we’re talking about here—a grammatical historical interpretation of the myriad of prophetic texts. God will save the nation Israel. A rejection of Judaism is not a rejection of Israel. The RC and Reformation rejection of Israel comes from their replacement theology, not from their soteriology. I can reject the legalism of a Jew and still believe that God will fulfill His promises to the Jews.

    If you believe in the doctrine of election, then you know that God knows what will occur even before the foundation of the world. He says that the Jewish nation will be saved. Do you believe that? God still has a plan for Israel. How can I trust my own election if I can’t trust God’s election of Israel?

    So, my soteriology doesn’t undermine my belief about Israel, but strengthens it.

    Doug,

    I really didn’t think I resorted to Reformed polemics. For one, I’m not reformed. I’m a historic Baptist. I believe that the things of the Spirit of God are spiritually discerned, and the natural man doesn’t understand them. If someone does not trust Christ alone by grace alone for salvation, then he is a natural man without the Spirit’s illumination of Scripture.

    I believe in the dispersion of Israel. That is prophesied all over the OT, but so is the regathering of Israel (Ezekiel 20:34-35; 36:22-24, 28, 34-35; Isaiah 11:11-16; Zechariah 10:9-10 1). God has promised Israel a future (1 Samuel 12:22; Psalm 89:31-37; Psalm 94:14; Romans 11:1; Romans 11:26-27; Luke 21:24).

    And then we see in Revelation 7, 12,000 from each tribe of Israel. You want me to show you something historically? One date: 1948. You say that isn’t the same nation as the OT nation Israel. God has miraculously brought people back to the land. It doesn’t matter to me if a Jew himself doesn’t know what tribe he’s from. God, Who knows the number of the hairs on each head, knows what tribe each Jew is from. So what do you think is happening in Israel right now, Doug?

  19. July 18, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    I suppose I’m one of the “young Calvinists” who is in error re: my embrace of amillennialism. I just concluded a series on “understanding the land promise” over at my blog.

    Amillennialism is not some black liberationist conspiracy theory. As some have mentioned here, it is a name for the Reformed understanding of eschatology. Historically, the pre-trib rapture version of dispensationalism was birthed in the 19th century. The Reformed understanding was birthed in the 17th. Both of them I’m sure have tie-ins to historic teachings of different groups of Christians in days previous to when these eschataological positions were carefully expressed.

    There is a basis for Amillennialism in Scripture, even one that is faithful to grammatical / historical interpretation. Rather than using Daniel 9 as the interpretive grid for all of prophecy in the entire Bible, we look at the New Testament as our guide. Rather than taking the single mention of a literal 1000 year kingdom (actually a few mentions but all within about 5-6 verses in Rev. 20) in a book that is full of symbolic language and numbers as our primary guide, amillennialists look at the entire teaching of the kingdom in the New Testament and conclude that Rev. 20 is symbolically referring to Christ’s reign now.

    Regarding Romans 11, there is room even in amillennialism for holding to a late mass conversion of Jewish people to the Christian faith, prior to Christ’s return and the destruction of this present world (and the creation of the new earth and new heaven). I don’t see how aiming to hold the views of Scripture with regard to the nature of the Church and its relation to the rejected nation of Israel, is a direct application of the warning about being prideful. No one, Jew or Gentile, has any hope apart from Christ. And we all do well to be humble as we remember Christ didn’t have to save us at all.

    In Rom. 11 there is 1 tree. Some branches were broken out, others were grafted in. It’s still one tree. The broken off (cast aside, rejected) branches (national Israel) can be grafted back into the one tree. But assuming we don’t get cast aside (which would only happen if we prove to have no saving faith), we would still be in the one tree, and would be united with the newly restored branches. If that one tree is to get a 1000 year kingdom, surely we would receive it as well.

    Can anyone read Eph. 2:10-22, and not see how clearly and unequivocally Scripture affirms that the Church has been made to be members of the commonwealth of Israel? We are fellow-citizens with believing Jews of old. There it seems that God takes of both (Jew and Gentile) and makes a new entity. One new man. Now that the Gentiles are in the tree too, it takes on new dimensions.

    In light of Hebrews declaration about the eternal sufficiency of Christ’s one offering, how can we go back to a millennium in which animal sacrifices are performed in a physical temple? I know not every dispensationalist holds to this view, but many do.

    The Temple of old not only had an outer court for Gentiles, but a court for women, and even a veil separating the Holiest place from all the people. Yet in the Gospel there is neither male nor female, neither Jew nor Gentile, neither bond nor free. All are one and all are Christ’s. And that veil was ripped in two. In fact on this side of the cross, the NT describes God’s people, the church, in terms of a spiritual building, a temple made of living stones. And in the eternal state, there will be no temple.

    In Acts 15, James interprets Amos 9’s declaration about the rebuilding of the house of David as referring to the inclusion of the Gentiles into the church.

    In 1 Thess. 1, the church is waiting for relief from tribulation that is to come, not at a secret return of Christ, but immediately upon Christ’s visible return, when he eternally destroys the enemies in hell. In one event, Christ brings rest to his people, and judgment on the enemies. Throughout the NT there is a clear expectation of a single parousia. A single appearing of Christ. And also a single judgment of the dead. (John 5, Rom. 2).

    1 Cor. 15:51-53 refer to the “last trumpet” but a pre-trib rapture view sees another, later trumpet, mentioned in Matt. 24:31 at Christ’s visible return. It seems much simpler, and more natural, to see Matt. 24:31, 1 Thess. 4:16, and 1 Cor. 15:52 as all referring to the same event, anounced with the “last trumpet”.

    These and other considerations move me toward amillennialism and covenant theology. They move me away from pre-tribulationism and dispensationalism.

    I know this isn’t meant to be a debate forum for everything about these issues, but I just wanted to explain that there are Biblical considerations which cause people who aim to follow the Bible to adopt one of these views. Perhaps with further study, I’ll be convinced of historic premillennialism as better answering all the questions and harmonizing with all of Scripture. But presently I see amillennialism as doing this the best.

    In Christ,

    Bob Hayton

  20. July 18, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Bob,

    You poo-poo Don’s mention of liberation theology and amillennialism, but they are related, which is all he said. To start off by making us say that amillennialism is black liberation theology doesn’t do anything for your defense of amillennialism. It is a rhetorical technique that has no merit. Why do you think that there is anti-Jewish sentiments in so-called “black theology” and the embracing of anti-semitics like Louis Farrakhan? How could that fit into a Christian system? It really goes right along with their allegorical approach to prophecy and their spiritualizing of God’s promises to Israel. And so we have black Gentile conceit that results in hatred of the Jewish people—this isn’t anything different than what I read of Augustine and Martin Luther. For you to dismiss it shows a certain amount of conceit as well. You may think that “conceit” is a mean word, but I’m taking it from Romans 11.

    You give the typical attack on dispensationalism that it popped up in the 19th century. Wrong. Paul used the word in Ephesians 3 and we are not working our way through a system, but rather interpreting scripture on its own merit. What it boils down to in dispensational theology is that we believe that when God says something He means it, and He means exactly what He said. For instance, a covenant theologian will preach Isaiah 9 and when it says that “the government shall be upon his shoulders” is something like “the government of your life is on the shoulders of Christ,” when it has nothing to do with that. It’s talking about the government of the world by Jesus Christ during His kingdom on this earth.

    Regarding the millennial kingdom sacrifices, why would there be any sacrificial system at all ever if they didn’t matter? They did matter. Why do we take the Lord’s Table? The answer to that question is why there will be a sacrificial system in the millennial kingdom (Ezekiel 40-48). It will be a means to worship the Lord.

    James quoted Amos 9 n Acts 15 to show that the Gentiles being saved was not contrary to God’s plan for Israel. Gentiles didn’t need to become Jewish proselytes in order to become Jews in the kingdom.

    Regarding a “single coming” of Christ, that is debunked several places, but what comes immediately to mind is when Jesus talks about the rapture in John 14 and this was something that the disciples didn’t understand. They understood a single return straight to earth but not the receiving unto Himself that He describes there.

    Anyway, you’re right Bob, this would take a lot of time to give the full, indepth debunking of covenant theology and amillennialism. I think my Isaiah 9 example above gives the gist of it, however. There aren’t two approaches to Scripture. There is only one. Just like there is only one way to God, there is only one way to understand what God said. Covenant theology doesn’t take huge portions of Scripture literally, which leaves the Bible to a gigantic amount of subjectivity of men.

  21. Thomas
    July 18, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Kent,

    I have to draw your attention to the fact that all of the current research into the cultural historical context of the Gospels and the Pauline Letters completely contradicts this statement: “Jesus rejected Judaism. Paul rejected Judaism.”

    You are one with the Reformed caricature of the religion of the Jews. Do you not know that Reformation soteriology is directly responsible for even your description of Jewish theology as legalistic (which it is in fact not)? IF you are right about the rejection of Israel in Reformed thought, then the reason for that rejection is actually Reformation soteriology – with which you apparently agree (thus my point about your difficult position). Basically, the covenant theology worked out initially by the second generation of Reformers, starting with Bucer and Calvin, postulated that the covenant of works, which God made with Adam, and which cannot save, includes every soul – Jew or Gentile – who does not have saving faith in Christ crucified (whether that faith is anticipatory in the OT saints or actual in the Church). This means that living Jews, in so far as they are not Christian, are not and cannot be redeemed. To further this point, the legalism of Judaism – as you put it – conforms perfectly to the covenant of works (again, a non-redemptive covenant). Justification by grace through faith “alone” is the modus operandi of the covenant of grace (i.e., the subjective or applied side of the covenant of redemption in which Christ fulfills the covenant of works – according to certain interpretations of covenant theology). Thus, soteriology is clearly the principle behind Reformed supersessionism. I think if you are going to be consistent you may have to reject Reformation supersessionism and soteriology in one stroke.

    You seem to be saying that even though the Jewish community with respect to its religious life is false (i.e., legalistic), none the less God will keep his promises to them as to some other kind of entity.

    So, the underlying question is: What makes a Jew? Or a Jewish people?

    Nationality? Not prior to May, 14 1948. Race? Jews come in all colors. Covenant? That would get my vote, but from your comments it appears that – just like your Reformed Amillenial counterparts – you completely reject the Jewish religion.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I am not a supersessionist. I believe that “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” (Rom 11:29) I just think that you cannot do justice to the place of the Jews within in the plan of salvation without taking very seriously the question of their own covenant keeping and the status of the covenant they allege to keep. This requires that we first reject useless and unjust caricatures like “legalism” to describe their religious life. The problem I see in the position you take as a pro-Israel Evangelical is that Evangelical soteriology, being as it is quasi-Reformational, depends in large part on these false characterizations and hostility toward the religion of the Jews.

    I think it is also arrogant of you to take it upon yourself as a non-Jew to place Israel within a Christian scheme of salvation, while at the same time denigrating their spiritual lives.

  22. ct
    July 18, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Kent, those same black people consider ancient Greeks to have been black Africans, and all their cultural attainments to have been the cultural attainments of black Africans. They also say that it was black Africans who went into Europe and ‘taught’ Europeans everything they knew which turned into the culture that dominated the world.

    These are not Christians. They are people with worldly resentments and ethnic/racial pride. Hence their ability to straddle black liberation theology and Nation of Islam ideology.

  23. ct
    July 18, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    >Regarding the millennial kingdom sacrifices, why would there be any sacrificial system at all ever if they didn’t matter? They did matter.

    They were types the anti-type of which was the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ – sacrificed on the cross. “It is done.”

    The ceremonial laws turned the Old Testament saints towards the coming Messiah. Their faith in the coming Messiah was saving faith for them.

    I actually sense you have not given doctrine the effort you need to give it. Understanding of the Bible is seeing the parts in relation to the whole. Covenant – Federal – Theology gives you the whole of Scripture. The whole counsel of God.

  24. ct
    July 18, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    When learning biblical doctrine it is very difficult to avoid names such as Witsius or a Brakel or Boston (I won’t mention first and second generation reformers because you might think I’m implying you havn’t read those famous names). In the 20th century: Vos, Berkhof, Kline. If you’re baptist and can’t get into the writings of infant baptists then try Bunyan, Gill, Spurgeon, Pink. (Pink as covenant theology.)

  25. July 18, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Thomas,

    It is highly likely that I am not attuned to the recent writings that you mention in your first paragraph. I don’t think the meaning of Scripture has changed since they came out.

    I can also see that you and me are talking past each other here. When I say that Jesus rejected Judaism, I DO NOT mean that Jesus rejected the Old Testament. He rejected Israel’s false religion of the time in which they took the OT and perverted it, as Jesus pointed out in several instances, including the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7). I say legalistic as a term in accord with what I see Paul say in Galatians regarding the Judaizers, who had a false gospel.

    I don’t know how that reformed theology could be responsible for my view of the Jews, when I’m not reformed. I thought it came from Scripture, since that is what I studied to get it.

    Faith has always been the basis of salvation for a Jew or a Gentile (Rom 4). Abraham believed. David believed. Paul believed. Except a man be born again, He cannot see the kingdom of God. Israel did not believe and since she didn’t receive Christ (as Isaiah 52-59 show), God uses the church as His institution until the times of the Gentiles would be fulfilled.

    Regarding Jewish covenant keeping, the nation Israel hasn’t done that, true, but they will, we know. So I’m not separating the two.

    What makes a Jew? You have to be one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

    And last, this isn’t a Christian scheme of salvation. It is the only salvation (Acts 4:12).

  26. July 18, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    CT,

    Liberation theologians are more than black. It is huge in South America and mainly Roman Catholic. I’m sure there is more to the hatred of Jews than just an eschatological system, but it buttresses that hatred.

    The sacrificial system was a type of Christ. I haven’t denied that, but the system was more than a type. It was part of the worship of OT Israel that in part kept each worshiper in good standing as a member of the nation Israel.

    Since Scripture is sufficient and the covenants of which you refer—works, grace, redemption—are not in the Bible, then they can’t be necessary for a proper understanding of God’s Word. If we needed those covenants to understand Scripture, God would have mentioned them in Scripture. I get the whole counsel of God by reading the whole Bible and studying whole books in their context. I’ve either taught or preached through the whole Bible. I have preached in great detail through—Gen, Deut, Josh, Judges, Ruth, 1 Sam, Neh, Job, Ps, Prov, Eccl, S. Sol, Is (up to 60), Jer, Ez, Dan, Hos-Mal, all of the NT except for certain portions of Luke, which I’m now preaching through.

    How could men understand Scripture before Berkhof and Kline? I’ve read Berkhof, Vos, Boston, Owen, Turretin, Pink, Manton, Gill, Bunyan, Gouge, etc., but I study the Bible to get what I believe and practice.

    Thanks for trying to help me.

  27. Doug
    July 18, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Kent,

    You may not know that you are using Reformed polemics, but the formula of grace alone through faith alone is from Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc. Aren’t they the leaders of the Reformation? I am not willing, at this point, to enter into a discussion about Justification… there is plenty of books to read on that, I have no intrest in rehashing an old issue and one that is more and more irrelevent (I am not saying the doctrine of justification is irrelevent, simply the polemics of it).

    I would agree with you about the dispersion and regathering of Israel. I don’t think that is the issue at hand. What is the issue is who or what is Israel? Was Israel a nation only to God? Was not Israel more than a plot of land and individuals? Wasn’t His promises given to them more than “carnal”? Doesn’t the Jewish faith have something to do with this or is it simply about DNA? Is God’s promise to gather ethinic Israel? Can the faith of Israel, which is Judaism, be seperated from who they are? If Paul rejected Judaism, as you have said, how could He not have rejected Israel itself?

    To me, these are the questions. Israel, for Paul and the Scriptures, are mostly intertwined with the faith of Israel. It is obvious from the Old Testament that certain promises came with a requirement of obedience, hence the despersion of the northern kingdom. Paul even asked the rhetorical question, “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel. (Rom. 9:6).” It is abudantly clear from Paul that descent is not what is in God’s view, but faithfulness. It always has been. The Psalms are clear on this point (Psalm 40:6;50:14; 50:23; 51:16-17).

    It is a well-known fact that the 10 tribes were assimilated into the Gentiles ETHNICALLY. Yes, they do have a Jewism bloodline and that is great, however, if they are not faithful to the covenants it is all for nought, according to Paul in Romans.

    Herein lies your problem, as Thomas laid out so well for you.

  28. ct
    July 18, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    >What makes a Jew? You have to be one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

    Jews don’t answer this way. It’s more complicated than that (not that even a reference to all twelve tribes isn’t complicated in itself).

    Galatians 3:28-9.

    “There is neither Jew nor Greek…for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

  29. ct
    July 18, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    >Since Scripture is sufficient and the covenants of which you refer—works, grace, redemption—are not in the Bible, then they can’t be necessary for a proper understanding of God’s Word.

    The covenants are are ‘in the Bible’ as the doctrine of the Trinity. How do you understand Jesus’ words all through the Gospels without inferring the covenant of redemption? Maybe you just don’t try to understand Jesus’ words there. In which case Reformed theologians are just more diligent in assaulting heaven, so to speak, regarding our understanding of the *whole counsel of God.*

    >If we needed those covenants to understand Scripture, God would have mentioned them in Scripture. I get the whole counsel of God by reading the whole Bible and studying whole books in their context.

    Reformed theologians do biblical theology prior to systematic theology. Calvin was one of the most penetrating and insightful biblical theologians in history. In the 20th century it is difficult to not recognize Geerhardus Vos – classical covenant theologian – as the preeminent biblical theologian of our era.

    >I’ve either taught or preached through the whole Bible. I have preached in great detail through—Gen, Deut, Josh, Judges, Ruth, 1 Sam, Neh, Job, Ps, Prov, Eccl, S. Sol, Is (up to 60), Jer, Ez, Dan, Hos-Mal, all of the NT except for certain portions of Luke, which I’m now preaching through.

    I read you often saying this. Taking your case out of the equation you *do* understand don’t you that person can learn doctrine at the very feet of Jesus and still get it wrong, or not have the ability to understand or see the parts in relation to the whole.

    You read the Bible and come out a common dispensationalist. Surprise. We need teachers. The Bible says teaching is one of the gifts of the Spirit. We prove everything by the Word of God though. You are not the only person who values doing this, it should go without saying.

  30. ct
    July 18, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    I said *we* need teachers. Maybe you don’t, but most of us do. With discernment that comes from the Holy Spirit and with sanctified common-sense we have ability to find the truth in doctrine (and even sense when it is being attacked and all the rest of it).

    Dedicated, complete readings of the pure and whole Word of God is the foundation and makes profitable all the other kinds of Bible reading and doctrinal study in its wake. This too should go without saying. The great reformers *began* with reading the Word of God and preaching it complete in their respective cities. Translating it into common languages. Etc.

  31. July 18, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Just to clarify where I fit in here. I’m not with Doug or Thomas. They seem to be coming from the New Pauline Perspective angle. While some of the research that E.P. Sanders, N.T. Wright and others have produced is helpful in understanding 1st century Judaism, it can’t overturn the main thrust of the commonly accepted for thousands of years (yes, even prior to the Reformation) Christian view of justification and the substitutionary atonement. Not all Jews were legalists, and the law is not universally condemned by Paul. While the Pharisees might not have been consciously trying to merit salvation, as they understood themselves to be in a gracious covenant relationship with God, yet still there was some faulty thinking on their part which merited damning statements by Christ. We know they were resting in their bloodlines and they were trying to earn extra favor with God. We also know Scripture directly contradicts any view of trying to earn favor with God. Now Roman Catholics at the time of Luther may not have been exactly parallel to the Pharisees, in every respect. And Luther may have overstated his case somewhat. But the modern overturn of the Reformation Gospel flows from putting too much stock in modern theories and evidences. My pastor John Piper addresses this issue in his recent book: The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright [available to read online here].

    I am agreeing mostly with what CT is saying. Gal. 3, Eph. 2, Rom. 4, 1 Pet. 2 — these passages all clearly teach the unity of the people of God. Ephesians presents the Church as the pinnacle of the wisdom of God. It displays God’s glory. Yet we have to digress from it and go back to the old covenant priestly system in the millennium?!? Go back to bloody sacrifices which never take away sins? Go back to a temple which cuts God’s holiness away from all but the high priest (and even he on only one day a year)? This seems anticlimactic and counter to the progression of redemptive history.

  32. July 18, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Doug,

    I agree that faith alone, grace alone rings reformation. I evangelize Catholics every week. We have enough here that when I go door-to-door I run into some every week. They say they believe in Jesus Christ. I found that saying “alone” was necessary and it fit with the book of Galatians and Romans. Adding to faith and grace nullifies both. Hence, I use the word “alone.” I didn’t add it from reading reformers, but out of the practice of explaining the gospel to Catholics.

    In the questions of your second paragraph. In the end, national Israel will also be spiritual Israel, but there will be enough spiritual Israel to be national Israel. We know that from Scripture, which I’ve already referenced above. Unbelieving Jews won’t make it into the kingdom, even as no one who is not born again will enter into the kingdom.

    Luke 1 and 2 gives us some good evidence that there was a believing remnant of Jews in Jesus’ day—Mary, Joseph, Zacharias, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, the shepherds, etc. Judaism and Israel are not the same. None of the verses you referenced disagree with what I am saying. No unbelieving Jews will enter the kingdom. Regarding the assimilation of the 10 tribes into the Gentiles, I read Revelation 7 and I see 12,000 from each tribe who will be saved. I am presuppositional in my apologetics, so what God said is what I believe. Concerning Israel, we see a people, a race, and a land that will also consummate in a belief.

  33. July 18, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    CT,

    I don’t think your “covenants” and “Trinity” comparison works. We have the Trinity in the Bible plainly stated, but nowhere do we have “covenant of works,” etc.

    Regarding who is a Jew, I didn’t use “seed of Abraham,” even though I believe they are the “seed of Abraham,” because that would not exclude the descendants of Ishmael. Are they Jews? No. “Seed of Abraham” is true, but not specific enough as a definition.

    I’ve read Vos’ Biblical Theology of the OT. I’ve also read Berkhof’s History of Christian Doctrine. I read them over 20 years ago. I agree that we need teachers. That would be a long discussion. I believe that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth and in 1 Tim 3:15 that is the local church, so the teaching should be in the context of a church, not looking for whoever we like or who will agree with us. I think people can get it wrong CT, for sure. I believe the setting is of major importance. You should have a group of obedient people that are filled with the Spirit of God. If they are not obedient to God in a church, they are not getting the Spirit’s illumination. The Holy Spirit is quenched or grieved. Are you bold with the gospel, CT? Are you faithfully preaching the gospel to every creature? A genuine Christian would not mind my asking that.

    I believe every genuine believer is a dispensationalist, CT. Did things change after sin, after the flood, after Abraham, after Moses, after Jesus died, after Pentecost? We all relate to the truth of Scripture within the changing contexts of dispensations.

    Bob,

    Why do we need any symbolism–baptism and Lord’s Table–in this NT era if Jesus already came? In these things we have some of a liturgy of worship. God knows exactly why we will offer kingdom sacrifices and I would be careful in looking down upon what God says is His will. I would wonder what your explanation would be for the exact dimensions given for a millennial temple to the very inch. Why that kind of detail for something symbolic?

  34. July 18, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    “He that will DO his will; shall know of the doctrine…” There are definitely way too many theologians and not enough missionaries! I can admire a guy like Casiodoro de Reina, who ran for his life while translating the Bible in twelve years from hebrew and greek into spanish. He also started a spanish speaking church in Oxford. I don’t know if he was amillenial or not. I know that he was an immersionist though and not a pedo-baptizer.

    Can you tell we are getting ready for a Bible conference here on the Spanish Bible version issue in August?

  35. ct
    July 18, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    >I don’t think your “covenants” and “Trinity” comparison works. We have the Trinity in the Bible plainly stated, but nowhere do we have “covenant of works,” etc.

    For Scripture warrant for a Covenant of Works I would direct you to any number of sound works, but Berkhof is particularly good. You say you’ve read his slim volume on historical theology, but it’s his Systematic Theology that will give you what you need. Or his Manual of Christian Doctrine. The theological terms Trinity and Covenant of Works is really a very good comparison.

    >Regarding who is a Jew, I didn’t use “seed of Abraham,” even though I believe they are the “seed of Abraham,” because that would not exclude the descendants of Ishmael. Are they Jews? No. “Seed of Abraham” is true, but not specific enough as a definition.

    I quoted the Galatians passages not because I wanted to imply you had used “Abraham’s seed” as your definition, but for what that Galatians passage is saying in and of itself which denies what you’ve been saying.

    >I believe every genuine believer is a dispensationalist, CT. Did things change after sin,

    Yes, God announced the Covenant of Grace.

    >after the flood,

    Not regarding salvation. God said He wouldn’t wipe us out again.

    >after Abraham,

    Not regarding salvation, no.

    >after Moses,

    Again, no. We were still under the Covenant of Grace. Jesus would fulfil the law – do what Adam failed to do – and then die on the cross satisfying the justice of God. The could not save after Sinai any more than it could save after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden. Only in Jesus fulfilling it for us could it – can it – save, which is the Covenant of Grace in time, based on the Covenant of Redemption from eternity.

    >after Jesus died,

    No, believers are saved by faith before and after Jesus died on the cross.

    >after Pentecost?

    We have the Spirit for our union with Christ in this era. Old Testament saints had the Spirit in different manifestations, they also had the Angel of the Lord, and Jesus with them in things like a pillar of fire, which we don’t have. This though doesn’t make salvation different for Old Testament saints vs. New Testament saints.

    >We all relate to the truth of Scripture within the changing contexts of dispensations.

    Yes, Innocence (Adam in the Garden); depravity (after the fall); regeneration; and glorification or eternal misery. But this isn’t ‘Dispensationalism’, is it, Kent?

    Reformed Christian had the word dispensation before the 19th century (that golden age of theology) ran with it and made of it a gigantic tiddly winks of a system.

  36. July 18, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    I have no problem with the word dispensation. I can admit God does different things at different times. But God wasn’t testing man, wondering what would happen under each new test. He wasn’t trying to prove man would continue to fall and fail each test. That’s speculation and not in the text.

    O. Palmer Robertson in his book The Christ of the Covenants gives a good defense of a Scriptural case for a covenant made with Adam. And Jesus’ statements in John about a trinitarian pact are the basis of the idea of a covenant of redemption. God gave these people to Jesus before the foundation of the world, that kind of thing.

    The covenant of Grace is progressively revealed. Each Biblical covenant really stems from the Abrahamic one and builds on it.

    Now as for Ezekiel, there are many things in chapters 40-48 which point to the whole section as not to be understood in a literal sense. First off, its a vision. The geography of the land, the nature of the river, the dimensions of the Temple, they are all way bigger than could possibly be without a dramatic land alteration. Of course we can postulate that will happen, but it could instead be a symbolic way of using something familiar to teach the lesson that God will be enlarging things and doing a wonderful work for his people that will encompass even the lost tribes which are tainted with Gentile blood.

    Matthew Henry’s an Jameson Fausset Brown’s introductions to chapter 40 cover this well.

  37. ct
    July 18, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Gill’s intro to the Ezekiel temple chapter is good too.

  38. July 18, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Don,

    What version of the Spanish Bible do you use?

    CT,

    I think one reference showing the covenant of works would be easy for you. I’ll give you a trinitarian reference besides 1 John 5:7, and that is Revelation 1:4-5.

    I don’t know how Galatians denies what I’m saying. Regarding the kingdom, saved people are the Israel of God, the spiritual seed of Abraham. That doesn’t destroy or obliterate physical, national Israel.

    So you are a dispensationalist. Being a dispensationalist does not require a system uniform with all dispensationalists. It essentially does mean that you take the Bible literally.

    Bob,

    I don’t think dispensationalists say that God was wondering what would happen with each new test. Can you show a dispensationalist, one Bob, that says that God was wondering what man would do? If you can’t, then what is that Bob? I’ll wait for your one example.

    I believe in a covenant with Adam. Genesis 3:15. There are plenty of covenants in Scripture. I’m just wondering why we have the three that are THE key to interpretation of Scripture. I’ll be waiting for that.

    When does all the allegorizing and spiritualizing stop and who decides? We have actual dimensions in Ezekiel 40-48. You didn’t answer anything regarding that. This article will answer the amillennialists on the temple in Ezekiel, etc.

  39. ct
    July 18, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    No, I’m not a dispensationalist. You’re playing with language, and this all is too serious.

  40. ct
    July 18, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    >I don’t think dispensationalists say that God was wondering what would happen with each new test. Can you show a dispensationalist, one Bob, that says that God was wondering what man would do? If you can’t, then what is that Bob? I’ll wait for your one example.

    Plan B?

  41. July 18, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    CT,

    I am serious about it. You didn’t answer the question about evangelism. I’m serious about that too. Are you boldly preaching the gospel every week? I’m not talking about writing comments to blog posts.

  42. ct
    July 18, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Whatever my involvement in evangelizing (and there are different ways to evangelize the faith) the context in which you speak of it is a bit inappropriate. The fact that you evangelize the Gospel in a serious way does not inoculate you from criticism of your doctrinal views or make those views on-the-mark.

  43. July 18, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    the way dispensationalism is sometimes presented comes very close to “God wondering what would happen”. I know most dispensationalists are not open theists, however. There is much said about the purpose for each dispensation, and a lot about how they are proving that man will fail when ruled in various ways. That kind of talk for the most part is speculation and not helpful.

    I didn’t mean to erect a strawman.

    As for Ezekiel, it is prophecy in a book full of symbolism and visions. To take the unclear and make clearer statements of Scripture have to harmonize with it, is not wise.

    Again, I don’t see how the Gentile Church being part of the commonwealth of Israel can be undone. I don’t see how Hebrews’ clear teachings that sacrifices, laws, ceremonies, and even the Sabbath, were shadows and types pointing to ultimate heavenly realities that we are currently experiencing in this better age. The kind of millennial rule that you seem to be espousing would be a backstep away from better to lesser.

    As CT has been suggesting, there is a lot more Scripture to consider on all of this, and it isn’t as cut and dry, black and white, simple as you make it.

    Saved people, many of them, have legitimate Biblical reasons to avoid dispensationalism. Even if they are wrong in their understanding of various passages, that doesn’t make them unsaved. And it doesn’t make them anti-Semites or black liberationist-leaning theologians. BTW, you are the one who is frontloading this discussion and insinuating CT = anti-Semitism and CT fits well with black liberationalism.

    I won’t comment more on this post, most likely. My points have been made, and I’m being drawn into a prolonged debate that I don’t have time for.

  44. ct
    July 18, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    >I believe in a covenant with Adam. Genesis 3:15Open Link in New Window. There are plenty of covenants in Scripture. I’m just wondering why we have the three that are THE key to interpretation of Scripture. I’ll be waiting for that.

    The two Adams. Jesus did what Adam failed to do. The large perspective question as to why God set up his Plan of Redemption the way he did has to do with self-will and God’s will. God could snap his fingers and by fiat make all men and women act from God’s will, but that is not what he wants, obviously. He wants created beings who love him in a real way. His plan sets up the tensions between self-will and God’s will that enables man to be drawn back up to God, by God’s grace, developing the image of God in a real way.

    Part of this is accepting that the plan is to display God’s justice and mercy. When we don’t put God in the dock (judge God) we are being God centered rather than man-centered. The Covenant of Redemption sets up the mechanics, if you will, for man to be effected by God in a real way and turn internally – repent – and have real faith, in the conditions where all that means something.

    We, in Adam, were created at a higher level than we are at now. In
    Adam we fell. We have, by the grace of God, the potential to rise higher even than where we were in Adam originally created. Glorification. It requires an eschatological act of God, but that is the promise. The mechanics of all this is set up by the Covenant of Redemption made from eternity. It played out beginning in the Garden with the Covenant of Works where Adam, as God knew he would, fell. And it continues to play out in time in the Covenant of
    Grace.

    On Sinai a republication of the Covenant of Works was given to national Israel for – in the fulness of times – Jesus to fulfill. Works for Jesus, grace for us when we appropriate Jesus’ works by faith.

    A practical aspect of knowing the Covenant of Redemption, other than seeing the whole of Scripture and being able to see the parts in relation to the whole, is to know that the foundation you stand on is a sure foundation, set from before the foundation of the world. When you stand on the Covenant of Redemption, the Pactum Salutis, in the midst of spiritual warfare, you know that is a law that can’t be destroyed or overturned by anybody or anything, Satan included.

    It is also practical in that you can begin to see how repentance and faith, internal re-orientation from being man-centered and acting from self-will to being God centered and acting from God’s will (which is our natural will because we are made in the image of God), are aspects of the image of God, from resentment to gratitude, that are part of our internal change and God-given ability to act from above, from God’s will rather than rebellious self-will.

    Understanding is powerful. Knowing the whole of Scripture, of God’s plan, enables one to then see the parts in relation to that whole, which is understanding. A Christian who has that understanding, given by the Holy Spirit, is not merely moving and thinking in a vaporous level of emotional devotion “Faith, faith, Jesus, Jesus” but knows God’s plan and where they stand and the sure foundation they stand upon.

    Scattered notes, of necessity…

  45. ct
    July 19, 2008 at 12:09 am

    When thinking about national Israel it’s helpful to see that there are two players in God’s plan that are unique:

    1. Pre-fall Adam, and
    2. National Israel

    Neither correlate with fallen man. Adam had a role to play that we don’t play. National Israel had a role to play that we don’t play.
    National Israel an actual type of the Messiah. Jesus’ life on earth mirrored National Israel’s history. National Israel existed to literally *be* the substance of the Word of God, and to shepherd it and bring it into existence, and ultimately, in the fulness of time, to bring the Messiah in the pure blood line from King David. Once this happened National Israel’s role was over. Despite themselves or any among them who resented this they no longer sacrifice, they no longer have a Levitical priesthood; their Temple was destroyed. Any among those who call themselves Israel today who aren’t tares or converts from Khazars or whatever, i.e. any real Jews that exist, they aren’t sacrificing animals and following the ceremonial laws and so on. Their role ended, successfully, when Jesus was born.

    So you see Paul in Romans with all the difficult language he uses which is basically saying his people are no different than anyone else, the law is a curse for them just as it is for anyone else, and they need to have faith in Jesus for salvation just as anyone else, yet, at the same time, they played a unique role, and so let God judge them, and don’t get carried away when you see them in their current state, unregenerate, not recognizing the Saviour, etc. Yes, they are in the same position as everyone else, yet they also did play this special role in God’s plan.

    Kind of like the same way we should look at Adam. Yeah, he screwed up, but it was part of God’s plan that he screw up. So, though he is in the same position as all of us regarding salvation, he also had a unique role to play in God’s plan, so don’t feel better than him and so on.

  46. July 19, 2008 at 6:00 am

    Kent,

    I’m using the Reina-Valera-Gomez in my devotions and in the pulpit.

  47. July 19, 2008 at 6:07 am

    Sorry, I believe I made an either-or proposition between theology and missions. Ideally we should have a biblical balance between the two. CT, if you do not witness in public like Christ and Paul, you are living in disobedience to the Word of God in so many places that this blog doesn’t have the space for it. Those who received Christ will not be ashamed of Him (Rom. 10:12). Those who don’t have an active and obedient faith, those who don’t think that it is appropriate to preach, when the Bible commands us to preach, and God has chosen preaching to save them that believe; then you are not in a place to handle doctrine.

  48. July 19, 2008 at 6:10 am

    Wow, I shot that off way too fast. It should say “those who think it is inappropriate to preach” and the verse is Rom. 10:11.

  49. July 19, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    CT,

    Here’s why I ask about the evangelism. You were questioning my theological credentials based upon whether I have interacted with certain books that you deem necessary for understanding Scripture. I’ve read a lot of reformed writing. Based on Scripture, however, we need the illumination of the Holy Spirit within the context of a church, since the church (local) is the pillar and ground of the truth. More than any other in the NT, preaching boldly manifested the filling of the Spirit. I asked you whether you were preaching boldly as part of your credentials. If you know all the doctrine, but you don’t practice it, first, you aren’t filled with the Spirit, second, you don’t have illumination, and, third, you don’t care about the truth that you do know. I didn’t say these were true about you. I just asked the question and then you went ahead and did seem offended with it, which is not appropriate for the godly. Then you went ahead and speculated as to why I asked, guessing that it was because I thought evangelism would justify a wrong doctrinal position. Anyone who reads this blog knows I don’t believe that. This is all tell-tale.

    Regarding your doctrinal explanation. I agreed with most of what you wrote. I can’t say I disagree with anything, even though I would need to read it more carefully, except for comment #45. The covenants make an outline for you that explains the big picture of Scripture. I see that. However, I don’t have a Scriptural basis to say that these three are THE three points of the Bible. You don’t actually show in the text where God says that these are a covenant. I believe for instance in a Mosaic covenant, an Adamic covenant, an Abrahamic covenant, a Noahic covenant, a Davidic covenant, and a New Covenant. I believe those. Those are plainly in the Bible.

    I don’t see from Scripture how that your three covenants necessitate an approach to Scripture that is allegorical. I don’t see how that they require you to nullify God’s promises to Israel. What I read through the whole Old Testament is that God will still save Israel and give her the land, and that this will follow her spiritual salvation, which has not yet occurred, but that we have a basis for believing still will happen. She still has the kingdom that God promised as do Gentiles who are believers, as they are promised the kingdom as well. What is clear to me from the NT is that the church has become Gods institution to do His work for most of the rest of the time except for a short period in which all Israel will be saved. It is laid out for cleanly in the gospels and Revelation, which is in tune with Daniel 9.

    Bob,

    I think you are saying that Ezekiel is unclear. I didn’t find that when I went through it. I’ve got notes on the whole book and it makes sense to me and it fits with the rest of Scripture. The only thing in the whole book that was difficult was the angelic vehicle that the Lord rides upon in chapter one and Ezekiel himself said that was difficult.

    I don’t know how that the plan of God revealed in Scripture could be a step back. Jesus will be with us in the kingdom. We will worship Him in a way He has prescribed and He knows best. You didn’t answer the Lord’s Table and baptism, because those are both pictures even though the reality has come.

    I don’t think anyone here said that someone was unsaved for being covenant theology. Could you point out when that was said? For the record, now I will say that I believe that it is possible that someone who is a covenant theologian is not saved. I think it is a case by case situation, just like it would be for a professing dispensationalist. I don’t think that allegorizing Scripture is a good basis for revealing salvation. Neither do I think these salvation testimonies, which say that having one point in time where someone repents and turns to God in faith is unnecessary, fit what I see in the Bible about salvation either, and I do see the reformed exclusively with these.

    Regarding Don’s comment about liberation theology, you keep missing the mark, even though I corrected you once. He didn’t say that all amillennialists are liberation theologians. He said that liberation theologians are amillennialists. And I saw how that their hermeneutic and then attitude with the Jews would fit amillennialism. This is easy I believe. They are easily the fruit of this allegorizing and spiritualizing that they do, and their replacement theology either causes their anti-semitism or their anti-semitism causes their replacement theology. They also fit with the long line of anti-semitic replacement theologians—Augustine and Martin Luther being good examples. Did this affect the attitudes of Europe for centuries, climaxing with Hitler and Germany? I believe history shows that it did. And this all fits with Gentile conceit and arrogance, exactly how it reads in Romans 11:23-26.

    So I’m not insinuating anything. I believe that history shows that amillennialism, replacement theology, anti-Semitism does all go together. Don brought in the black liberation theology and I agreed with him. I’m sorry if you don’t like how it feels, but it is your legacy. And I’m happy that I don’t have the same legacy, because separatists, non-church-state people didn’t persecute anyone for hat they believed. I am very happy about that. I’m also very happy about my love for the nation Israel. I’m happy about a national policy that is pro-Israel. You, on the other hand, made it clear on your blog, that Israel has no special right for that land. You said that you are ambivalent in essence about whether the Palestinians, the Arabs, have it or not. You would be the cat’s meow for the Moslems in the Middle East and their position on Israel. They would pray to Allah for more of you in the U.S. It reminds me of when John Stott was asked about the significance of what was happening in Israel, and he said, “No significance.” Yes, I am driven by what Scripture teaches.

  50. Thomas
    July 19, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Kent,

    I’m not sure we are talking past one another – although it is evident that you are involved in a number of conversations from various points of view. So thanks for taking the time to respond to my comments.

    You wrote, “[Jesus] rejected Israel’s false religion of the time.”

    The evidence from the Gospels shows that while Jesus was critical of the attitudes and certain practices of his fellow Jews (particularly the Pharisees) in and around Palestine, he nonetheless practiced and espoused the same religion of Israel as his fellow countrymen (centered on the Temple and the Torah). Parallels have been discovered in ancient rabbinic literature of even the criticisms Jesus made of the Pharisees – pointing to the fact that social and religious criticism of the kind found in the New Testament was a part of the environment in that day and not entirely exclusive to the Lord and his disciples. In fact, Jesus even takes the side of the Pharisees against other groups on certain issues, such as the resurrection of the dead. Bob pointed out that with regard to Jesus’ contemporaries “…still there was some faulty thinking on their part which merited damning statements by Christ. We know they were resting in their bloodlines and they were trying to earn extra favor with God.” This is true of some. But the attitudes and actions of certain Jews in the New Testament is not – and was never intended to be – an exact and complete description of either late second temple or early rabbinic Judaism.

    You also wrote, “I say legalistic as a term in accord with what I see Paul say in Galatians regarding the Judaizers, who had a false gospel.”

    You seem to be using the term “legalism” in the sense of “moralism,” or the idea that a person gets to heaven on the basis of his or her own natural ethical performance. Here is where current Pauline studies can be very helpful. It turns out that when we actually bother to read the literary remains of early post-Christian rabbinical literature, that legalism (in the above sense) is not an accurate description – even in general – of (as I said) late second temple Judaism or the particular Pharisaical part of it. So Paul was probably not battling the “Judaizers” over the issue of personal holiness with respect to virtue. He was, however, arguing for a definition of personal holiness that did not require the “sacrament” of circumcision. Even the non-biblical term “Judaizers” gives this away. Anyone could have come to Galatia preaching radical asceticism (consider the fourth century gentile Pelagius), but what is so “Judaizing” about the “Judaizers” is the fact that they were preaching circumcision – the whole target of Paul’s epistle.

    Bob,

    I’ll admit to being influenced by historical contextual readings of the Pauline letters, but I think this ironically puts me, as a Catholic, closer to the scripture principle of the Reformation than those who are seriously troubled by “modern theories and evidences.” It was Protestants in the 16th century who championed new methods of exegesis as a way of challenging received medieval dogma. Today, some Evangelical Protestants stand on the opposite side of this phenomenon, sometimes even sacrificing objectivity to tradition in ways that would have made a Counter-Reformation polemicist blush.

    That said, even the concessions you have made to the New Perspective are enough to cause serious problems for traditional covenant theology.

  51. July 19, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Kent,

    Comment 33: “I believe every genuine believer is a dispensationalist, CT.”

    Perhaps I read too much into that. I do think, however, that dispensationalists read too much of a connection between CT and anti-Semitism. CT beliefs no more require one to become anti-Semitic than dispensationalist beliefs lead one to move to Israel in an attempt to join national Israel.

    Yes I have no bias toward either Israel or the Palestinian’s rights to the land. Instead I would want a solution which enables both to live peaceably together in the land, if possible. Yes many Palestinians have acted wrongly toward Israelis, but the same can be said in reverse. The Bible doesn’t speak to this dispute, nor does it to many other ethnic and local disputes which Christians are forced to take sides.

    No more from me on this, I was just trying to explain myself.

    Thomas,

    In Scripture, a merit-earning view that sees salvation as a fruit to be won is condemned. Medieval Catholicism was exactly this. Some Pharisees in scripture were similar. Much of modern Catholicism is like this as well. People think because they are members of the church that they are set. But it comes down to personal saving faith in Christ and his Sacrifice for sin.

    I may need to study out classic covenant theology further, but I don’t see how it would not admit what I admitted earlier. The Covenant of Grace is in effect during both the period before Christ and that after. Jews before Christ’s sacrifice, had to live in hope of the Messiah and maintain faith and covenant loyalty to God. Chrisitans afterward do the same thing. On either side of the cross, perseverance is a gracious gift. We are blessed with more revelation and a fuller experience of the Spirit. But the continuity of the people of God is clear.

    Blessings to all,

    Bob Hayton

  52. ct
    July 19, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Don wrote: “CT, if you do not witness in public like Christ and Paul, you are living in disobedience to the Word of God”

    I don’t see how my saying there is more than one way to evangelize means I am only evangelizing on the internet. Still, the subject is inappropriately inserted into this thread (and notice straw men have to be constructed to justify it being brought into this thread: Kent wrote: “Here’s why I ask about the evangelism. You were questioning my theological credentials based upon whether I have interacted with certain books that you deem necessary for understanding Scripture.” I don’t care about any Christian’s ‘credentials’ nor did I mention those theologians in the context of there having to be read before one can understand the Bible).

    Kent basically said amillennialists are Jew haters. In so many words. He’s been confronted on that. You don’t then get to start policing people on their evangelizing efforts.

  53. Thomas
    July 20, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Bob,

    While it is important to have careful and nuanced knowledge of first century Palestinian Judaism, it is also important to have careful and nuanced knowledge of medieval Catholicism. Just as there were Pharisees, Sadducees, Essences and other schools of thought and action in the first century, there were Dominican, Franciscan, Augustinian, nominalist, humanist, monastic and other schools of thought in the mid to late Middle Ages. It is very inexact to say that medieval Catholicism was exactly anything! – much less exactly pelagian. Both Luther and his Catholic opponents regarded justification as a supernatural transformative sovereign act of God on the sinner. It was the nature of this act that was the subject of disagreement. It is no longer helpful to read Paul in light of Luther.

  54. July 20, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Greetings. I’m not the “Thomas” above. Please note:

    1.) And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God (Gal 6:16).

    Here saved Gentiles “as many as walk according to this rule” are DISTINGUISHED from saved Jews, “the Israel of God,” by the word “and.” They are not equated. Believers are never called “Israel” anywhere in the NT. Israel always means Israel. Spiritual Israel is believing Jews.

    2.) The explanation of Israel and the church in relation to the bride of Christ and grafting in is given on pg. 9ff. of “The Bible and Divorce” at my website (http://thross7.googlepages.com/home) in relation to the question of Jeremiah 3:14 and divorce. It is also explicated in part of the analysis of Romans 9 at the same location, which, BTW, also demonstrates conclusively that Romans 9 does not teach Calvinism.

    3.) The guys who are arguing for the “New Perspective” heresy on salvation need to get saved. So do many “young fundamentalists” and people who have apostatized from Biblical Baptist doctrine for neo-evangelical dirtiness. Beware, you latter, lest Christ spew you out of His mouth. Also, for the New Perspective heretics, pre-reformation Baptists taught justification solely by imputed righteousness before Luther.

    4.) While dispensationalism represents Scripture, we should also note that God says in 1 Thess 2:15-16 “Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.” Thus, the Bible specifically teaches that the Jews killed Christ, and a lost Jew who asks a Christian about this should not be given a wishy-washy answer about how Christ died for all our sins, when (while this is certainly true, and we all have a sinful nature by birth that would have agreed with the crucifixion of the Lord of glory) the Bible says the Jews did it. If that is going to lead to fewer Jews getting saved, Peter did not seem to do too badly at Pentecost when he preached that they crucified Christ; somehow the truth that the Jews killed the Messiah, boldly preached to the Jews by the power of the Spirit, worked for their conversion.

  55. July 20, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    All good points Thomas Ross.

  56. ct
    July 20, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Gal. 6:16 – and upon the Israel of God; which is a further description of the persons, for whom he prays for these blessings; and is not to be understood by way of distinction from them, but as an amplification of their character; and as pointing out the Israel, by way of emphasis, the Israel, or Israelites indeed, the spiritual Israel, as distinct from Israel according to the flesh; see 1 Corinthians 10:18. The “Israel of God,” or as the Arabic version reads it, “Israel the propriety of God”; which he has a right unto, and a claim upon; who are chosen by him, Israel his elect; who are redeemed by him, out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation; who are called by his grace, and are styled Israel his called; who are justified in his Son, and by his righteousness; and for whose sake he is exalted as a Prince and a Saviour, to give them repentance and remission of sin; and who are, or will be saved by him, with an everlasting salvation; and is a name that includes all God’s elect, whether Jews or Gentiles: though it may have a particular respect to such of the Israelites, or Jews, God had foreknown and reserved for himself; and who believed in Christ, and walked as new creatures, without confidence in the flesh. The Jews themselves own, that strangers, or proselytes, shall be called by the name of Israel; so they {b} explain Isaiah 44:5, latter part. JOHN GILL

    Gal. 6:16 – Israel of God–not the Israel after the flesh, among whom those teachers wish to enrol you; but the spiritual seed of Abraham by faith (Ga 3:9, 29; Ro 2:28, 29; Php 3:3). JAMIESON, FAUSSETT AND BROWN

    Gal. 6:16 – all the Israel of God, by whom he means all sincere Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles, all who are Israelites indeed, who, though they may not be the natural, yet are become the spiritual seed of Abraham; these, being heirs of his faith, are also heirs together with him of the same promise, and consequently entitled to the peace and mercy here spoken of. MATTHEW HENRY

    Just for readers who might assume Thomas Ross was reading the Word of God there in an unbiased way. Dispensationalism requires *alot* of bias.

    Reformed theologians, by the way, always give the other views, because they stand on the Word of God with confidence and will take on all debate.

  57. Doug
    July 21, 2008 at 7:04 am

    Thomas ROSS and Kent,

    Are you two “Trail of Blood” people?

  58. July 21, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    CT,

    The way Galatians 6:16 should be studied, using acceptable hermeneutics, is to find out how the term “Israel” is used in Scripture. We start with how it is used in the massive number of times, actually every time that it is used. We find out that Israel is always Israel. Then we take what might be considered to be the questionable times, Gal 6:16 and 1 Corinthians 10:18, and we interpret those based upon the gigantic numbers of times it is used. Gal 6:16 and 1 Cor 10:18 do not give any reason to take it in any other way than how it is used in the normal sense. So we take both of them as being “saved Israel” the saved people in the nation Israel. We don’t take them as being something that is being slapped on by those with a predisposition coming from their systematic theology. You quoted covenant theologians who did not study the use of Israel but interpreted passages based upon their predispositions. We should reject that.

  59. July 21, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Doug,

    I take a presuppositional apologetic and interpret history in light of Scripture, like God desired for the nation Israel in the Old Testament. He wanted Israel to trust Him even when things didn’t look good to her. I don’t start with someone else’s view of history or what we think people said in the past, and then go to the Bible to interpret based upon that. So when Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the church, that there would in fact always be churches that looked like what we see in the NT. When Paul wrote in in 1 Timothy 4 that some would depart from the faith, that meant no total apostasy of Scriptural truth ever. I don’t believe there has ever been a total apostasy.

  60. July 21, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Kent:

    Are you referring to 1 Corinthians10:18?

  61. ct
    July 21, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Kent, you take your received 19th century dispensationalism and – surprise, surprise – see it in the Word of God.

    The Reformers were the ones who went back to the source. Apostolic biblical doctrine was not recovered in the 19th century anymore than the preserved Word of God was (something you know a little bit about).

  62. July 21, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Any word study of “Israel” will show it is used in many different ways. We can’t build doctrines off of individual words, but off of the way those words are put together in context to teach doctrine. The general context of the book of Galatians, as well as the immediate context of Gal. 6:16 argue for understanding the phrase as referring to all the church, the seed of Abraham and joint heirs of the promise (see chapter 3 of Gal.).

    Is Scripture against the use of terms which relate to national Israel from being used for the Church? No. How different really is the term “Jew” from the term “Israel”. If the Bible teaches that Gentile believers can be considered “Jew”s then how different is that from having them considered as “Israel”? What if the Bible refers to believers as “the circumcision”? I’m sure you’re guessing right. The Bible does refer to believing Gentiles as “Jews” in Rom. 2:29 (see vs. 25-29). And it refers to them as members of “the circumcision” in Phil. 3:3. This jives with Peter’s use of strictly Jewish phrases used to delineate God’s special people for Gentile believers. Compare Ex. 19:6 with 1 Pet. 2:9, Rev. 1:6 and Rev. 5:10. Compare Hos. 1:6, 9-10 with 1 Pet. 2:10. Also, Eph. 2:12 in context (see Eph. 2:11-22) teaches that Gentile believers are now members of the “commonwealth of Israel”, whereas before they were not.

    This is contextually driven, hermeneutically sound interpretation. The conclusion that “the Israel of God” applies to believing Jews would be a strange conclusion to Galatians. “As many as” walk by the rule of glorying in Christ to the extent that circumcision doesn’t avail anything receive mercy and peace. Adding a blessing on believeing Jews apart from their walking according to the rule doesn’t jive with the passage. Defining the “as many as” by referring to them as the Israel of God makes perfect sense to the context and to the epistle (3:29, 4:28, 29). Jerusalem is the mother of the readers of the epistle, and it makes sense they can be called the Israel of God. Especially when one verse earlier Paul definitively declares circumcision availeth nothing — only being a new creature matters. So all who see this the same way, that our identity in Christ is primary, to them belong peace and mercy. And also to the Jewish believers too??? Or rather, to them belong peace and mercy, as they are the Israel of God.

    This paper by Michael Marlowe delves into this verse further, as does pages 38-46 of O. Palmer Robertson’s The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Crossway, 2000).

  63. July 21, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Everyone,

    The word “Israel” is used 2,565 times in Scripture. That’s quite a large sampling. Bob says that the word is used many different ways.

    It is used as
    1) the name of Jacob, Israel
    2) the name of Jacob, when his children are referred to, the children of Israel
    3) all the other descendants where Israel lives
    4) the ten northern tribes in contrast to the 2 southern tribes
    5) the whole nation Israel

    All of these, when we’re finished, are still Jews. They are still essentially the same usage.

    This is as opposed to saying that Israel includes Gentiles. Israel is still Israel.

    Let’s just say hypothetically, however, that Israel of God actually is both saved Jews and Gentiles that are grafted onto Israel. When we’re done, we’re still Israel, aren’t we? In other words, we’re not the church. Neither of these backs up covenant theology. We can’t come out of this with Israel is the church. Of course, we’d still have a problem, even with that, because the church, ekklesia, is an assembly and all believers don’t assemble, but that is another matter.

  64. ct
    July 21, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    >Let’s just say hypothetically, however, that Israel of God actually is both saved Jews and Gentiles that are grafted onto Israel. When we’re done, we’re still Israel, aren’t we? In other words, we’re not the church.

    Wow. Hard to debate a person who can write this. May I suggest you get beyond yourself, even just as an exercise, and actually do a study of Federal Theology (the word ‘covenant’ seems to throw you too much).

  65. July 21, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    CT,

    Who are you? You’re an interesting character. I liked five parts to your comment. They made me laugh. Of course, all of it was rude. But I liked:

    1) Wow
    2) Suggest
    3) beyond yourself
    4) as an exercise
    5) throw you too much

    All combined gave me a big chuckle. I could read another million theologies and commit Berkhof to memory, but ultimately it is the Bible, isn’t it, that is our authority? So I would still have to have a Scriptural reason to believe something.

  66. ct
    July 22, 2008 at 1:00 am

    If your main claim is that you get your doctrine solely from the Bible and this – doctrine x, y, and z – is how you see it, then so be it. When, though, you critique the way other’s see the same Word of God and you say or suggest things like they hate Jews (etc., etc.) then you’ve stepped out of your personal ivory tower and now find yourself in debate/conversation/confrontation with Christians, and the specialness and preciousness you possessed when all alone in your ivory tower is no longer in play. The fact that you turn out to be a common 19th century style Dispensationalist doesn’t help you. Pretty much the only way you can defend that reading of the Bible is staying up in your tower.

    The fact is, many who hold Classical Covenant – Federal – Theology to be apostolic biblical doctrine used to be, often by default of the culture we grew up in, dispensationalists. I’m not sure there are many examples of people going the other way.

  67. ct
    July 22, 2008 at 1:09 am

    Also, there’s nothing new under the sun regarding biblical doctrine, so you really should stop trying to present yourself as something unique in hewing solely to the Bible for giving warrant for what you believe. Especially when taking on Reformed/Calvinist Christians. Your approach works well when taking on Mormons or JWs or Unitarians, but when you attempt the same approach against Reformed/Calvinists you are dealing with people who hold the Word of God to be their authority and have many centuries of teachers and doctrinal works, strongly vetted by Time, to keep us honest and clear our thoughts and keep us to the straight and narrow. Reformed/Calvinists lay everything on the table (confessions, catechisms), debate with all comers, lay out the arguments and views of opponents in the midst of making our own case, and if somebody is off-the-mark they get called on it no matter how ‘great’ their reputation may have become.

  68. ct
    July 22, 2008 at 1:12 am

    >and if somebody is off-the-mark they get called on it no matter how ‘great’ their reputation may have become.

    This sentence refers to people in our own – Calvinist/Reformed – camp.

  69. ct
    July 22, 2008 at 1:41 am

    These aren’t shallow or worthless debates, it should be stated. When I read your words somewhere above where you mentioned the Covenant of Redemption in a tone approaching mocking it really effected me because as a believer engaged in spiritual warfare – real warfare that is truly dangerous at times – I get my assurance and my practical connection to the plan of redemption in that Covenant of Redemption made between the Father and the Son (and no the Holy Spirit’s role is not neglected by Reformed theologians – two of the greatest Reformed theologians both being known as theologians of the Holy Spirit, that being John Calvin and John Owen). That is the law that transcends anything the world or the devil can throw at me. It is the reality of my citizenship in God’s Kingdom.

    Now, I know when you wrote what you wrote that it is from current lack of understanding, but still. There is a hardheadedness in Dispensationalists I’ve encountered that is more in the juvenile/petulant realm than it should be. It’s like your defending ‘not being wrong’ rather than allowing yourselves to be teachable. As I said, there aren’t too many examples of Federal Theology Christians ‘developing in understanding’ into Dispensationalists. And we who once were dispensationalists had to be teachable, or, maybe better put, we had to value the truth above our own vanity and worldly pride. I’ve been in many arguments with Mr.
    Berkhof, for instance, and he’s won 9 out of 10 of them. Or more. Not infant baptism, not regarding certain points of the Sinai Covenant, but I can’t think of many things where I havn’t been eventually won over.

    Understanding is seeing the parts in relation to the whole. Dispensationalism is alot of parts with no relation to the whole. Once you are able to see Federal Theology – the power of Reformed Theology – by seeing the whole and hence the parts in relation to the whole you get a real sense of the whole armor of God in all its harmony and unity.

    The fruits of Dispensationalism are shallow and worse. Against the system of the Beast Dispensationalism is cardboard armor. Christians need the same armor the reformers and everyday Christians had during the times of the Reformation when the darkness of the tyranny of the Roman Beast was overpowered by the light of the Word of God.

  70. Doug
    July 22, 2008 at 8:14 am

    Kent wrote:
    All of these, when we’re finished, are still Jews. They are still essentially the same usage.

    Me:
    This is a false statement. It would be similar to saying that all Americans are southerners. Jews were specific people and should never be used in Biblical times to represent all Israelis. Paul was being very specific when using the term Israel, Jews and Gentiles in Romans.

  71. July 22, 2008 at 10:09 am

    CT,

    I do think that Covenant Theology people likely do think of themselves as sole Scriptura. I do. I’ve never said I didn’t. I’m talking to you personally to say that in this discussion or in any other discussion with anyone, it is the Bible that must persuade us. It would take more time and energy, I’m imagining, to hash out the whole approach to Scripture, but for me, I would want more than, look at Vos, etc., to agree with someone. It seems that “read Manton” is the ivory tower approach. What seems to come down to the plow-boy that I am is some key references from God’s Word that enlighten. Bob gives some, but I sit somewhat befuddled that he sees them as persuasive.

    I’m to chapter 60 in Isaiah on Sunday morning and I see Gentiles from all over the world coming to bring gifts to Jerusalem to Israel on behalf of her God. All her enemies are defeated. So real Gentiles come to Israel bringing gifts and her children back to her. The descendants of those who tore down her walls build them back up again. And your system expects me to see Israel as the church, the Gentiles as I-don’t-know (I guess I have to read Matthew Henry and Gill or Calvin to find out), and the time as having no enemies to be I-don’t-know-when. I can’t wrap my head around such loosey-goosiness with Scripture, but I have to, in your estimation, if I’m to come out of my ivory tower.

    I look at the end of Romans 11 and I see in v. 28 that Paul writes that Israel, “as concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes,” explaining to the Romans the situation they have with the Jews, indicating that these are unsaved people. So is God going to do away with them? That’s the obvious question; however, he goes further and says, “but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes.” In other words, God is NOT going to be done with Israel because He has elected her and she is beloved for her patriarch’s—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—sake. He made promises to them, Abrahamic covenant for instance, and He will keep them. And then as you go further in chapter 11, you see that He’s going to preserve Israel because of His mercy, which needs no explanation. He separates Israel from the church in the text, because not only does He preserve Israel because of His mercy, but also He preserves us out of the same mercy. We should want election and love and mercy for Israel, because we ourselves like election and love and mercy.

    CT, you did deal with Scripture a little. You quoted a few places about Israel and then you quoted commentaries. You gave no basis for those commentaries being right. I see that Gentiles have the temptation to conceit over Israel. I look at history AFTER looking at Scripture for evidence of that conceit and I see that conceit that Paul foresaw. Amillinnialism doesn’t have a basis to me in Scripture. It is just a theological system that was handed down from Roman Catholicism, which historically shows conceit that was passed down to the reformers. Now I know that Doug and Thomas will say that the pope apologized, but why did he apologize if there was nothing there? Protestants don’t apologize for Luther because they are sole whatever, not tied into him, and yet they are tied into him with their history. I’m not. Bob has expressed the attitude toward Israel that I see as conceit. He says it is theological, but that’s what Paul says it is too in Romans 11. You can deny it, and I would assume you would, but I see it, based on Scripture.

    Doug,

    I have to admit that I’m not read up on the sources you guys refer to, but I understand why, especially in light of the Catholic influence you are coming from. I do agree with you that my statement above is not completely accurate, but you should understand it in its context. There is a lot of overlap between Jew and Israel, especially when it is contrasted with Gentile. Paul went to the Jew and the Greek. The Jew is an ethnic person, just like the Greek is. The Jew comes from Israel and the Greek comes from Greece.

  72. July 22, 2008 at 10:49 am

    This will be my last comment as I think the discussion is coming to a close. Plus I have to prepare for a trip and have to move on from this post and the comments here.

    First, I forgot to add the link to Michael Marlowe’s page on “The Israel of God”. Click here for that page. For more on this topic I would recommend searching over at monergism.com, you can search “Israel of God” for a start and you’ll get lots of online articles on that topic.

    Next, re: the term “Israel”. Rom. 9:6b says: “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel”. So another sense in which “Israel” is used would be spiritual Israel. From Rom. 11 believing Gentiles are grafted in to spiritual Israel, and natural Israel was cut off. What we have is not Israel left over, but spiritual Israel. Believers under the old and new covenants are part of a single people of God. They all are saved through faith in God and His provision of the Messiah — Jesus.

    Gal. 6:16 is not specific enough to be saying the “church” should be referred to as “Israel of God”. I forgot your particular understanding of “church” as in no universal church. It does emphatically say that the kingdom of God, all believers (at least in this present age) can be designated the Israel of God. Now I happen to view all believers as described by the title “the church”. But even if you say that title does not apply, still all believers are called “the Israel of God”.

    For me this all boils down to reading the OT in light of God’s fullest revelation — the NT. Once the NT was given to us, we have the complete and full revelation of God. That means we cannot act as if we don’t. God is the single author of all of Scripture and He can explain what he meant in one book, in another book. Human authors foreshadow things, and develop stories with the prescience that comes with being an author. God can as well.

    And once again, there are express statements in Gal. 3, Eph. 2, Rom. 4, 1 Pet. 2 that must be grappled with. In light of such clear and unambiguous language, and in light of such a significant change with Gentile believers now being members of “the commonwealth of Israel”, “children of Abraham”, and “heirs of the promise”, how can we not see this whole discussion in a new light?

    Again, what is the difference of calling a Gentile believer a “Jew”, a member of the “circumcision”, a member of “the commonwealth of Israel”, and actually calling him part of the “Israel of God”?? After all in Galatians, the same Gentile believer is told that “the Jerusalem above” is his mother (Gal. 5:26). And in Hebrews Gentile believers are included as “[having] come to Mount Zion and to… the heavenly Jerusalem”. Hebrews 11 applies the examples of Jewish believers of the old covenant to Gentile believers in the new covenant. We are engaged in the same struggle of faith that they were.

    I don’t hope to convince everyone through these comments of mine, but I do hope you’ll see I have a Biblical basis, and I’m not lifting myself up in conceit over “national Israel” or the Jews. I see them as in need of the same Savior I need. Without Jesus, in Whom all the promises of God are yes (2 Cor. 1:20), they have no hope and neither do any of us. I also hope that some reading this will take the time to research these issues further. Study the Word for yourself, you will be richly rewarded.

    Blessings to all in Christ Jesus,

    Bob Hayton

  73. Doug
    July 22, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Kent,

    Actually my sources are Catholic and Protestant alike. I do not have a prejudice when it comes to scholarship.

    I still think you are missing the point. Israel was a covenant nation; the Jews were a covenant people. Yes, Paul does use Greek in place of Gentiles in the instance you mentioned, however, at that time there was a Greek culture to consider. He did not, to my knowledge, mix the terms Israel and Jew. It was an obvious distinction that most Jews lived with. Again, all Jews were Israelites but not all Israelites were Jews.

    This may seem like a small point, but hermeneutically, it is essential to understanding Paul.

    Again, I ask the question… what makes one a Jew? Is it nationality or covenant? Is it race or faith? Take for example a black Ethiopian Jew… what makes him a Jew?

  74. July 22, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Doug,

    I’m sure people convert to Judaism and become “Jews” in that sense of the term. But Scripturally the Jew is ethnic. You had to be born a Jew. I would be happy for you to show me one person in the Bible that is a “Jew” that is not a descendant of Abraham and Jacob. I know that Ethiopians did not descend from Jacob. Today he is a Jew, however, because he is a convert to Judaism. If God was presently working through Israel, he could be an Israelite, like the Ethiopians are today, but he still isn’t in the line of Jacob, so he isn’t a Jew. I can’t define “Jew” based on what the present perception is. I define it based on what I see in Scripture. More importantly are you and anyone else trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation as Romans 3:28, Romans 4:1-6, and Galatians 2:16 teach us?

    In the sense that a Gentile receives Christ, Galatians says that he becomes a seed of Abraham by faith. That doesn’t make him a Jew. He’s a saved Gentile. Is he Israel? No. He’s not Israel, but He is grafted onto God’s kingdom as a believer. How? He has a future in the Abrahamic and Davidic blessing through the New Covenant, which is in Christ. That is the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, which is spiritual now, but will consummate in a future, literal physical kingdom that we see in Isaiah 60-66, Ezekiel 40-48, etc.

    Bob,

    Even if I look at the OT through the lens of the NT, I still take the same view. Romans 11. Matthew 23-26. Revelation. Your NT lens doesn’t explain Isaiah 60 and many other texts. It somehow results in allegorization of Scripture. I see you, especially making so many drastic changes in such a short period of time, as just fitting into the new group that is friendly with you. You get a fresh start. You trash where you’ve been and start over with the new group without any baggage. They all accept you because you have joined their group and disregard the past because it’s no wonder there were issues because that group you were in had issues in their opinion. I really don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. In my 46 years of observing people, it does look like what you are doing. I expect you to get sympathy from them when I say those types of things. Your positions contradict themselves in so many different ways, it makes my head spin. You are welcome to comment here, but that doesn’t guarantee acceptance here, and for many reasons.

    To anyone,

    I think it is interesting how that some will criticize the IFB, which I don’t claim to be at all, even if I am categorized with them. I’m not the “F” in IFB. But they criticize them for being man-centered man-worshipers. I think it is a valid criticism to some degree, especially how they come after you when you go after their man. You’ve got all your man clubs—the Hyles group, the Sexton group, the Chappell group, the Bob Jones group, etc. Of course, all of them say that they’re Jesus’ group. But the attacking evangelicals are really big with names too, some dead just like Hyles is dead. They are MacArthur, Piper, Dever, Mohler, Berkhof and Calvin, fawning after the big names no differently than IFB. Sure there may be more expositional preaching among the evangelicals and I’ll give them credit for that. I have here. But they have all their own problems unique to them just like the IFBs have theirs. I see as many theological man crushes coming from evangelicals as I see it from fundamentalists. They laugh at Hyles pastor’s school but they run off to MacArthur’s pastor school or Piper’s Desiring God conference or the Together 4 the Gospel (4 different men) or Rick Warren’s group or Joel Osteen’s group and salivate all over themselves and their keyboards over these.

  75. July 22, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Everyone should look at v. 26, because Paul says that “all Israel shall be saved.” He doesn’t say that a “remnant” shall be saved. “All Israel” should be taken as “all Israel”—the entire nation.

    This is referring to a specific point in Israel’s history (ie. when Jesus returns at/near the end of the Tribulation period).

    Romans 11:25-26 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

    Revelation 10:7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

    There will be many Jews killed during the Tribulation, by the Antichrist and his followers and by the judgments poured out by the Lord. God says He will purge out the rebels – and all who will be left (1/3 of them) will be saved.

    Ezekiel 20:33-38 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

    Zechariah 13:8-9 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

    I take Romans 11:26 very literal – but it is referring to a specific time in Israel’s history – and the rest of the Scriptures show it is not referring to every Israelite, but to those still alive at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    (Please forgive me if this was already addressed in the comments. I wanted to address something in the original post first, before I responded to any comments.)

  76. ct
    July 22, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    I think there’s a difference between the man-names I’ve mentioned and the IFB man-names you’ve compared them to. The names I’ve mentioned have written books that have withstood the test of time and the discernment of generations of Bible-believing Christians. They’ve held up to the tribunal of Scripture.

    Just to be thinking that animal sacrifices will be performed by any people with any association with Jesus Christ whatsoever is as cock-eyed and skewed and queer a doctrine as one could probably intentionally try to think of. And it is, it goes without saying, *not sound armor.*

    It is done, Kent.

    (ps- Robert Reymond, Lamb of God might be a good study for you.)

  77. July 23, 2008 at 1:13 am

    CT,

    I think you know that I’m open to read books. And again, I do get a kick out of comments like these with some of the language. The winner here is “queer a doctrine.” That made me laugh out loud. I’m not convinced, however, by that kind of approach. We could all say that the whole sacrificial system was strange, but why would anyone want to say that about something in the Bible? “It’s queer to me,” or some version of it, probably does work as an argument in certain theological works. I guess I’m supposed to be ashamed of myself for getting it, for getting the symbolism found in the liturgy expected from the Lord during His kingdom on earth.

    Thanks CT.

  78. July 23, 2008 at 1:14 am

    Jerry,

    Your comments were a nice addition.

  79. Doug
    July 23, 2008 at 9:04 am

    I want to say this, as well, in red is the part I’m not sure how to put:

    From my vantige point, both “covenant” and “dispensational” theology have parts of the truth. As a Catholic, I am able to acknowledge the truth that is found in both positions. Along with the dispensationalists I acknowledge that God does still have plans for the Jews as a unique people. Paul clearly indicates this in his writings, especially in Romans 9–11, where he indicates God continues to fulfill his promises about the Jewish people by preserving a remnant of Jewish believers in Christ (11:1–5). This indicates a special place for Israel, for no other people has a promise that there will always be a believing remnant. God also has future plans for the Jewish people: One day the Jewish people as a nation will return to Christ, and this will be one of the signs of the Second Coming and the resurrection of the dead (11:12, 15).

    On the other hand, along with covenant theologians, I acknowledge that the Church is spiritual Israel or, ie, the “new Israel” as Catholic theology puts it (cf. CCC 877). This too is indicated in Paul’s writings: In Romans 9:6 he says that “not all who are of Israel are Israel.” This indicates the existence of two Israels. One—”all who are of Israel”—indicates the ethnic people, not all of whom believe in Jesus. The other Israel, the context reveals, does not include those who have rejected the Messiah. This new Israel, founded by Messiah, exists in spiritual continuity with the Old Testament saints and so counts as a “spiritual Israel.” It includes Gentiles who believe in the Messiah and so through baptism are spiritually circumcised (Col. 2:11–12) and are reckoned as spiritual Jews (Rom. 2:26–29).

    In his letter to the Ephesians Paul is even more explicit about the Gentiles’ spiritual inclusion when he states that “you Gentiles in the flesh . . . were [once] separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel . . . But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near . . . So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints” (2:11–13, 19).

  80. Doug
    July 23, 2008 at 9:04 am

    Red didn’t come thru.

  81. Thomas
    July 23, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Kent,

    You wrote, “Scripturally the Jew is ethnic. You had to be born a Jew. I would be happy for you to show me one person in the Bible that is a “Jew” that is not a descendant of Abraham and Jacob.”

    Sarah, Rachael, Rebecca… but seriously, it depends upon what you mean by “Jew.” If you’re using the word “Jew” in the sense of physical descent from Judah the son of Israel and membership in that particular tribe, then there is a clear distinction between Judahites specifically and Israelites generally, just as there is a distinction between Benjaminites specifically and Israelites generally. However, in biblical usage – at least since the Persian restoration, “Jew” is a word that increasingly stood for the religion of all Israel – as a result of (1) the destruction of most of the other tribes with the Northern Kingdom, (2) the location of the second Temple in Judea in the second half of the first millennium B.C., and (3) the dynastic/messianic claims of the tribe of David. Note specifically that Paul refers to himself as both a Jew (Acts 21:39, Gal 1:13-14) and a Benjaminite (Rom 11:1, Phil 3:5). Obviously he uses the former word in the more general religious rather than narrower tribal sense. Ethnicity IS at the root of the association between the Judah tribe and the actual son of Israel, but that does not mean categorically that gentiles could not and did not enter in by covenant means (i.e., circumcision).

    In the Hebrew Scriptures the principle of nature and the principle of covenant are closely related. *But they are not identical.* On the one hand, there is a “first family” through which, by direct descent, the nation receives its name, the priesthood receives its qualification, and the Messiah receives his royal lineage. On the other hand, Abram (the “father of a host of nations”) was commanded by God at the first administration of the covenant to circumcise his entire household (Gen 17:10-14), which certainly included men and boys who where neither his sons nor his grandsons. The descendants of these people – and others like them who were absorbed via covenant and ancient near eastern customs regulating slavery and the migrations of peoples into the fortunes of the family of Abraham – would have been present at Mt. Horeb and sworn the covenant within one tribe or another. Thus there is from the beginning both a vertical and a horizontal expansion of the people of God.

    At the same time, in the New Testament, while the principle of nature and the principle of covenant are not nearly as related (there is no central familial line – unless you’re a da Vinci Code believer), nonetheless Peter preached that the promises fulfilled in Christ are for “you and for your children” (Acts 2:39); and it is a matter of common knowledge that most Christians receive their faith from their parents (even in the Baptist church). Thus the principle of nature is still operative.

    Now if you are tempted to make a distinction between Israel (nature) and covenant (more than the physical descendants of Abraham) – in which case Israel would be just one part of the wider covenant people of God, then show me one place in the Hebrew Bible where a general distinction is made between the people as a whole and the Israelites as a special people within the covenant (with the exception of the hereditary priesthood and the Messianic King as I already pointed out). I submit that no such distinction exists.

  82. July 23, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Kent, here is an interesting post on the KJV and pretribulationism :-)

    http://www.prewrathrapture.com/2008/07/the_1611_king_james_bible_agrees_with_pr.php

  83. ct
    July 23, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Alan Kurschner, why did you disdain any interaction with Steve Rafalsky a few months or so back when he responded to you series on White’s blog? One of the glories of Reformed Theology is it takes on all debate and doesn’t run from a critic. That doesn’t seem to be the case with people who champion the Alexandrian texts. It doesn’t surprise me (or Steve R. I’m sure); but what does surprise me is people who affect to hold to Reformation doctrine such as the five solas and doctrines of grace, but who at the same time give themselves over to corrupt manuscripts Romanists attempted to use to stop the Reformation in its tracks. God bless the reformers who confronted those Romanists on that field of battle and overcame them. God’s own will carry on that fight.

  84. July 24, 2008 at 1:18 am

    Hi Alan,

    Thanks for the smiley face. I was disarmed completely and am ready for a group hug. I’m not accusing you of anything but this was the thread to bring people to your pre-wrath blog. I’m not attempting to be disrespectful, but I don’t get the argument. It gets zero mileage against the Scriptural and historic position on the preservation of Scripture. I’m not guessing that you get many Ruckmanites over at your blog; neither would I guess that many of your readers even meet Ruckmanites, so I don’t know who you might be equipping with that one. I saw a little of James White’s expose’ of Dr. Dino’s KJV videos, because those were picked up by several blog sites as if they were meaningful and pertinent. The closest thing I thought I could compare it to was someone with a total serious look on his face with Al Gore-like condescending tones, eagerly pointing out the fraud in doctored UFO photos.

    #1—We know that the KJV translators looked at some variants. It’s a bogus point. Compare Scriveners with Beza and Stephanus and you have very few differences. Look at the back of Scrivener’s Annotated Greek NT to find the differences between Beza 1598 and the text behind the KJV. Compare B with Aleph and you have a difference in every other verse.

    #2—Preservation isn’t in a translation. We also know that there were differences between the 1611 and subsequent revisions of the KJV.

    #3—We don’t get our eschatology from 17th century Anglicans. Or our ecclesiology. Or even our soteriology.

    Thanks for coming over. Best wishes in your search for lost words and buried Scripture. And for life on Mars.

  85. ct
    July 25, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    So Kurschner’s kind of like a doorbell ditcher?

  86. Redeemed man
    July 26, 2008 at 6:41 am

    Kent wrote: “I’m not guessing that you get many Ruckmanites over at your blog; neither would I guess that many of your readers even meet Ruckmanites, so I don’t know who you might be equipping with that one…Best wishes in your search for lost words and buried Scripture. And for life on Mars.”

    I am not a regular visitor to this blog, but I find such regular disrespect for the people of God who genuinely appreciate a biblical discussion but who disagree with you – and do it biblically – to be so distasteful as to question whether you are in the faith.

    Listen sir, to the Word of the Lord:

    “23But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.

    24And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

    25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

    26And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

    (2 Timothy 2)

    One of the few bloggers on this site who obeyed the Lord Jesus Christ in the discussions posted was Bob Hayton.

    I have never been to Bob’s blog – but due to his well-reasoned and obedience to the Lamb in how he was addressing all posters, he has won this entire debate in my mind and has single handedly caused me to consider historic reformed amillinialism.

    Also – reading all you men in your passion makes me question my own passionate way of communicating as a pastor. Zeal is appropriate, but demeaning rhetoric used to advance a loved point of view from the Word of God advances nothing but strife.

    If it matters enough to be passionate about it – then obey the Scriptures which command you to instruct the one in meekness who opposes himself.

    Furthermore, it detracts from any other positive blogs you have written, and their effect in the lives of Christians.

    I submit that you Mr. Brandenburg have fairly frequently opposed yourself by engendering strife and should reconsider your own words in light of these Scriptural commands.

    Sincerely, the worst sinner Redeemed,
    Daniel Cox

  87. July 26, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Hi Daniel.

    In principle, if we were both to accept that there are wolves in the world that desire to destroy sheep with their false doctrine, do you believe that the tack to take with them is gentleness? I agree with 2 Timothy 2. Gentleness is important. I’ve pastored a church for 21 years that the Lord used me to plant, in one of the most wicked places in the country, if not the world, starting with nothing and no job. I have four children, three of them girls, who are well behaved. I have a wife of 20 years. I have discipled many. But you, who have never talked to me in your life, will conclude that I am unconverted by your own unilateral opinion. I have a whole church, a family, and dozens of pastors and their congregations who would say otherwise, all of whom show fruits of repentance, but you are willing to cast a shadow on my conversion based especially on a few sentences in a response to Alan Kurschner, who comes over here with the obvious, sole purpose of stirring things up on the issues of the KJV and the pre-wrath rapture, both of which were not part of the thread. You say that this was an honest search for the truth on his part, but my response to him was an indication of a lack of redemption on my part. His linked article didn’t represent that public position that we Jackhammers (not kitchen spatulas) take, that is a double inspiration or English preservationist view of preservation—so he makes the clear implication that we take that point of view. Of course, this is all completely off the topic of the thread. It is a rude interjection into our discussion on amillennialism and its history. You’re fine with that, but you don’t like me questioning it when he does? If I do, you conclude unilaterally that I’m not gentle. And you believe Bob discusses things nicely, but I don’t? And you are ready to believe Amillennialism.

    Daniel, where do we begin and stop our allegorizing of Scripture with the amillennial approach? With your verses from 2 Timothy, you seem to be taking them literally, and yet in the Old Testament promises to Israel, if I take those literally (grammatically and historically), I’m engendering strife. The pastoral epistles have other commands to a pastor—rebuke with all authority; reprove, rebuke.

    You are assuming a lot in making your accusation against me. First, I know Alan Kurschner. He grew up about a block away from me and we went to the same high school, although he was about two years behind me. We’ve had discussions before and if we saw each other in person it would be friendly. I recognize that you don’t have that context. We’ve already had several talks so we aren’t really warming up to each other.

    Alan Kurschner takes a position that we have lost up to 7% of Scripture that God didn’t fulfill His promises to preserve, but we are in the business today through a cast of forensic scientists, using man-invented procedures, to recover what God couldn’t keep, even though He said He would. God said they would be preserved and then that is also the historic doctrinal position. Textual criticism by the admission of the textual critics is ongoing. I said best wishes on his search. There was an edge to that, I admit, because I hate the false doctrine, but you jump to “not converted” for me. I believe totally that this is akin to looking for life on Mars. We should just believe the Bible rather than constantly challenging it with our science. Many others have made the same parallel between a literal interpretation of the first two chapters of Genesis and the literal interpretation of the passages on preservation. Our “science” must bow to Scripture.

    Regarding Bob, he has an entire blog dedicated to bashing those whom he was formerly affiliated with—those who sacrificed much for him, many of which he gave no due process. I can attest to you the amount of sacrifice given for Bob, because he was with our church for a few years. We have been and me in particular have been very kind to Bob. You think I’ve been tough on him as do others who only know him in his new persona and world. I stop with that minimal information to continue to be very kind to him, even though he has been very personal in his own characterization of others. And I didn’t know there was a debate that was ongoing between Bob and me on amillennialism. I would not decide to debate him on the topic, but it isn’t because amillennialism is true. I think amillennialism is bogus, based on a man-centered approach to Scripture. Premillennialism and amillennialism cannot both be true. If I believe it is a false and dangerous position, I’m not going to tend toward treating it well.

    Is it possible, Daniel, that your closing, “worst sinner Redeemed,” is simply voluntary humility? You tell others to be gentle, but you aren’t gentle. But since you tack on “the worst sinner,” your bases are covered. We have a tremendous amount of discussion on here and it gets heated at times. We disagree with each other too, but one rule we have is “no whining.” I believe you have broken that rule with your comment.

  88. ct
    July 27, 2008 at 12:37 am

    I didn’t realize Bob Hayton was someone I’ve come across on the KJV issues. I just read his blog. One thing struck me: he recommends Christ of the Covenants (O. Palmer Robertson) to understand covenant theology. BIG mistake. Many Reformed theologians are petulant in wanting to use their own terminology, or redefine terminology, when writing about covenant theology, Robertson is one of them. Start here:

    http://www.gospelpedlar.com/articles/Bible/cov_theo.html

    That’s J. I. Packer’s introduction to Witsius’ Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man. It’s a general beginning into to covenant theology in the usual very clear and concise and helpful Packer style.

    And also you have to know this: Federal Theology is Covenant Theology systematized. Covenant Theology remains sort of forever in the realm of biblical theology and is a bit of a mush for it (and hence is easily manipulated and presented falsely by false teachers). Learn basic Federal Theology (i.e. two-Adam, covenant of works/covenant of grace theology). The Covenant of Redemption will confuse beginners (not every old covenant theologian mentions it!), and that’s because some assumed it to be the same as the covenant of grace, whereas others knew it needed to be distinguished for various reasons. Plus the terminology thing. You just have to sort your way.

    In the 20th century Geerhardus Vos (Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology), Louis Berkhof (Systematic Theology, Manual of Christian Doctrine), and Meredith Kline (God, Heaven and Har Magedon) represent the classic line of covanent theology.

    You don’t have to be paedo-baptist to understand or hold to covenant theology, by the way. This has been quite a shameful act on the part of Reformed theologians, to make covenant theology needlessly complicated so as to justify their Romanish fetish for infant baptism. Credo baptism fits simply and elegantly classical covenant theology.

    Stay away from “New Covenant Theology” too. It is a hybrid concoction put forth by people who don’t understand Federal Theology which is apostolic biblical doctrine.

    If you’re a mystic (in the orthodox Christian sense) or more mystically inclined (which is to say more practically inclined regarding biblical doctrine), you will find that covenant theology describes the Plan of God in a way that correlates to what mystics know. Calvin, for instance, was a bare foot mystic compared to modern day self-identified Calvinists.

  89. July 29, 2008 at 11:38 am

    CT,

    Just a note, here. I’m planning on reading more than just O. Palmer Robertson on covenant theology. I have read other treatises on it too. I will read the article you mention.

    Robertson’s book was helpful for me, because he interacted with dispenstionalism, and exposited Scripture on what it says about the covenants. It helped me think through many of these issues.

    I wouldn’t claim to be an expert on the ins and outs of Covenant Theology. But I find it to better handle the whole of Scripture than Dispensationalism does.

    Blessings to you in Christ,

    Bob Hayton

  90. ct
    July 29, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Another classic article is this:

    http://www.biblicaltheology.org/dcrt.pdf

    by Geerhardus Vos titled the Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology. The first half is historical theology, very enlightening. He then gets at the three covenants (redemption, works, grace) and gets into the deeper aspects of it all. One of Vos’ great articles.

  91. August 1, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    I guess amillenialism not only foments a distaste for the Jews, but also a distaste for the Jewish scriptures.

    “In regards to the Masoretic Text, the manuscripts date from around AD1000. The manuscripts are admittedly altered from their original form, for vowel symbols have been added and the text has been revised in light of Talmudic tradition. The Masoretic Text is based upon the Hebrew which was rejected by the early Christians, who were the true Israel of God.”
    V.S. Herrell. http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/masorete.htm

  92. ct
    August 2, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Don Heinz, what liberal goofball dispensationalist would you like me to choose from the large pool of liberal goofball dispensationalists to smear you with guilt by association?

  93. August 2, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Smear on, CT; I have thick skin and am secure in my relationship with God. I was simply dropping a quote I came across in preparing for a conference on the Spanish Bible.

  94. ct
    August 2, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Obviously the point is you are the smearer.

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