Saturday, February 28, 2009

On Premillennialists and Our Canards

Usually, when fundamentalists make the kinds of arguments John MacArthur makes, I'm pretty happy. But when they follow the approach MacArthur took at the 2007 Shepherd's Conference, I'm not quite so excited.

In his talk, "Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist Ought to Be a Premillennialist,"* MacArthur argued that unconditional election-preaching Calvinists, more than anyone, ought to hold fast to the reality that God keeps his promises. Amillennialists, he said, believe that God breaks his promises to ethnic Israel when he replaces ethnic Israel with a spiritual Israel, the Church. As an unabashed Premillennialist myself, I was quite disappointed by the talk, even though MacArthur made some pretty persuasive points from Scripture (at least to me). Here's why:

I have yet to cross paths with an Amillennialist who found MacArthur to have fairly represented his position. I have met dozens of Amillennialists, both Baptists and Presbyterians, who believe that all the promises made to ethnic Israelites will be fulfilled in one ethnic Israelite, Jesus Christ. Now, all people, Jew or Gentile, have access to the inheritance of those promises by their position "in Christ," which comes by grace through faith in him. Every single one of those Amillennialists I've met wholeheartedly affirms that Jesus Christ is literally, personally, going to return to this earth and destroy his enemies before he establishes the quite literal New Heavens and New Earth and casts the devil, his angels, and all who have rebelled against him into a quite literal eternal torment where they will drink all the dregs of the wrath of God. Not one of them thinks that God is going to break his promises to ethnic Israel by replacing ethnic Israel with the Church, because God keeps his promises to the True (literal, ethnic) Israelite.

Yesterday, in a letter that was sent to friends of Maranatha Baptist Bible College, Maranatha President Chuck Phelps wrote:
We are living in uniquely precarious times. Today there is a radical resurgence of Calvinistic, Reformed thought. A simple visit to a Christian bookseller or a careful listen to Christian radio reveals that dispensational, Baptist positions are becoming increasingly rare. Along with the Conference on Baptist Fundamentalism and the emergence of our seminary, we are doing all that we can in our classrooms and on the chapel platform to keep the students informed and challenged to stand ready for the coming of Christ. I’ve recently completed a brief series of messages for the chapel hour on prophetic themes (Chapel Sermons). I’d like to invite you to listen in as our student body is challenged to pray with John of old – “Even so come Lord Jesus!”
The clear implication of this paragraph is that Reformed theology needs to be opposed and repudiated because it undermines the preparation of believers for the coming of Christ. That's just one of the problems of the statement. Bob Bixby draws our attention to others.

As a Premillennialist myself (as well as a disappointed Maranatha alumnus), I would be quite happy to hear more sound historical and theological critiques of Amillennialism and positive constructions of Premillennialism. Unfortunately, this sort of rhetoric gives me no reason to expect any sort of credible assessment. For a Premillennialist to suggest that Amillennialists don't believe we should be prepared for Jesus' return is an indefensible and irresponsible canard. I'm increasingly convinced that the greatest threat to the perpetuation of Premillennialism is not a persuasively-articulated Amillennialism, but an incompetent Premillennialism that misrepresents its opponents.

I'll close with the final paragraph from that classic Reformed statement of faith, the Westminster Confession:
III. As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin, and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity: so will he have that day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come; and may be ever prepared to say, Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.
Amen. Maranatha!

*A direct link is not available without login. The session is available for download for free after registration here.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Phelps' comments are about as stupid as Olson's (I'm a no point calvinist)!

The archetypical Baptists were calvinists.

Thanks for letting me post this anonymously

Chris Poe said...

I cannot speak to the issues with this fundamentalist school.

I do believe in at least some of those sermons MacArthur did misrepresent amils with statements like "who ever heard of an amil prophecy conference" (I've actually been to one) and "They don't know what the OT prophecies mean." In general, some of his remarks no doubt had the effect of turning off the very people he was trying to reach i.e. those who feel the tug from the Reformed ethos which says that premillenialism, and especially dispensationalism, aren't "Reformed."

However MacArthur's (and Horner's, Dan Phillips and others) argument from election specifically applies to the land promises and the physical restoration of Israel to the land which the amils and Ladd type historic premils vigorously disagree with. Which gets us to the whole issue of supersessionism, "replacement theology" etc.

Ben said...

Chris,

During MacArthur's presentation, I was sitting near a number of Amillennials. When JM made the comment, "Anyone ever heard of an amil prophecy conference?" one of them turned to the other and said, "Every Sunday!" Apparently his church talks about the return of Christ (and all that goes with it) with some regularity.

Regarding your last paragraph, I agree that there is a legitimate debate on the nature of the promises and to what degree their fulfillment is literal or figurative. But JM unhelpfully oversimplified this issue when he suggested that amils believe God breaks his promises. They certainly don't think that. They have a different understanding of precisely how those promises are fulfilled (which has something to do with to whom they understand the promises to have been made), and they operate under the conviction that they are all fulfilled in Christ.

Chris Poe said...

Ben,

I am a former Presbyterian (OPC) and have been around amils for years.

Many of them will, when pressed, (and some don't need any "pressing") assert that the land promises were conditional, that the Jews were unfaithful and thus forfeited them.

MacArthur's (and others) point is that the land promises in the Abrahamic covenant are unconditional, and this is where the tie in with unconditional election is made. I'm still in somewhat of a state of flux on eschatology myself, but I see some merit in this argument.

I agree that MacArthur appears to have a tendency to oversimplify or broad brush the views of those with whom he disagrees, especially when in front of his own congregation. This can be seen in some of his messages on baptism as well.

Coach C said...

Strangely, I think that Dr. Phelp's statement was aimed directly at "anonymous" above. Yet, anonymous, a self-declared no-point calvinist is not impressed. Anonymous must be a very unique individual.

Jim Peet said...

Coach C ... I think that anonymous was referring to Matt Olson's (Northland President) about being a "no point calvinist ... no point about talking about it".

Details here

James Kime said...

Ben, as you know, JMac's sermon was only a sermon. He wanted to broadly address the issues, which is what he did.

I find it comical that amills get all huffy about it and have to come back with books about his sermon. See Sam Waldron here:

http://www.amazon.com/MacArthurs-Millennial-Manifesto-Samuel-Waldron/dp/098021792X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235856245&sr=1-2

Despite an amill saying otherwise, their bait and switch with the promises does amount to God being unfaithful. Just ask how the land promises with specific dimensions are fulfilled in Christ. See how honest of an answer you get from them.

Coach C said...

Jim, thanks for explaining. I missed the sarcasm. I'm a little slow.

Ben said...

James,

It was certainly not a sermon. And even if it were that's irrelevant to the issue that he did not present a fair picture of Amillennialism. I don't think you want someone to attack a straw man version of your beliefs any more than I do, and if someone does that, I think it's perfectly fair to respond with a clarification. If an amil did that to premillennialism, you and I would both cry foul.

Ben said...

Chris,

I'm sure you're right about some amils. They're no more monolithic than premils. Others have different views. That gives premils no excuse to broad-brush the whole spectrum. There are lots of ways to branch off in this conversation--from the recipients of the land promises to how they're fulfilled to the conditionality or lack thereof. Probably more. My point is that no amil would recognize their views in two critiques I've referred to. That does the premil cause no aid.

James Kime said...

Ben, I am making a distinction between sermon and lecture. He broadly addressed the points.

From the perspective of premills, the amil position does in fact do the very thing he said they do.

God made specific promises to ethnic Israel. The Amils redefine who Israel is. From his and my point of view, it still makes God out as one who is unfaithful. Either way, he is a liar. That is the charge against amils. I agree.

Greg said...

Just slightly off-topic here, Ben, but I just got my invite to "Meet the President!" Oddly, it's not a request for money, and the banquet is actually free. I'm shocked. I might go, not to meet Phelps, but for the free dinner.

Bernie Wojcik said...

Ben,

Blame this comment on Paul, he knows at least two reasons why... :*p

To the whole supercessionism / replacement theology angle...

a) Truly complete supercessionism is only found in RCism (think of a continuing priesthood, a regular sacrifice, intermediary role for priests, etc)

b) Dispensationalists are at least marginally supercessionist. (The church, not Israel, is the focus of this dispensation)

c) physical and territorial promises made to Israel, that dispensationalists say are yet to be fulfilled were either conditional (if you obey, then...), or said by Scripture to be already fulfilled – for example:

1Ki 4:20 The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy. 21 And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. These countries brought tribute and were Solomon's subjects all his life.

Jos 21: 43 So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them. 45 Not one of all the LORD's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

FWIW I would consider myself to be premill, but not a dispensationalist

david said...

Like you, Ben, I am against over-simplification, broad-brushing, and straw men. Recognizing the care we should take in how we present our positions, and without throwing any more rocks at this particular situation, I also fear that we'll avoid following our theological conclusions to their right and justifiable ends.

There may be a better way to state it, but basically seems to me that if it is impossible to see OT promises fulfilled in Christ then an amil position does indeed make God a breaker of His promises. Certainly no biblical amil would ever say that God breaks His promises. If premil dispys are right, however, that's exactly what the amil position ends up meaning in reality. If reality is that the promises must be fulfilled in full premil dispy literalness, anything short is a breaking of that promise.

If you're going to see promises from the premil vantage point, you should follow through with what that means for those who disagree with how those promises are fulfilled. Not saying the premil dispy position is right, but it seems JMac's conclusion is theologically justifiable if not nuanced. Isn't that part what it means for the two sides to disagree, not some mean-spirited back-stabbing but the theological reality resulting from one's perspective of the Bible?

In a more far-out example, I know some Roman Catholics and baptismal regenerationists who vehemently deny teaching salvation by works. The reality of their positions, however, makes those claims invalid...at least from an evangelical perspective.

While we can and should charitably and honestly debate the strengths of the arguments, we should do it while recognizing that theology really does matter and actually does have implications for reality.

Seems to me that wherever we are in our view of the millennial issue, the truth that someone is right and someone wrong means that somebody is saying the wrong thing about reality, even if we all claim we believe God keeps all His promises.

Ben said...

David,

I think you're right that if the dispensational premillennialist position is correct, then a necessary implication of amillenialism is that God breaks his promises. What I'm arguing is that the kind of rhetoric MacArthur and Phelps* have demonstrated misrepresents what amils actually believe and substitutes rhetoric for an actual argument that strikes at the heart of where the disagreement begins. They run to the end of the discussion without dealing reasonably with the exegetical differences that birth the debate.

*Especially Phelps, who implies that amils don't believe in the return of Christ and thereby don't prepare people for it.

Bruce said...

As a non-dispensationalist premillennialist, I've got some serious questions for which I would like to know the dispensationalist response.

If receiving the fulfillment of the land promises is virtually the same thing as inheriting the kingdom, how will Jews who have not repented and trusted in the Messiah enter the kingdom?

If only Jews who have cast themselves on the mercy of the King enter the kingdom, was the promise ever really based on ethnicity, or on faith?

If the inheritance of the promise is based on faith, why cannot Gentile believers get in on the promises?

If God gives the kingdom to all believers, regardless of ethnicity, then how is God charged with not keeping his promise if he doesn't give the land to unbelieving ethnic Jews?

How does the passage below differ from the logical progression of the questions above?

Romans 4:13-17 (ESV)
13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations"—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Ben said...

Bruce,

Great questions. I think I know the classical dispensationalist answers. I don't know how they are consistent with Romans 4. I'd love to see someone explain that here.

It was studying that precise passage to teach a Sunday school class that started blowing my categories apart 8 or 10 years ago.

Ben said...

Bernie,

Are you suggesting dispensationalists are more supercessionist than CTs?

Matt said...

As to God breaking his promises:

"God made specific promises to ethnic Israel. The Amils redefine who Israel is. From his and my point of view, it still makes God out as one who is unfaithful. Either way, he is a liar. That is the charge against amils. I agree."

But how is God breaking his promises when 'they all find their yes in Christ'? What about the land that God gives in Revelation 21-22, i.e. the entire Earth, as a fulfillment of a land promise?

I am a (very tenative) premil, but it is a misrepresentation to say that God breaks his promises in amillenialism.

James Kime said...

Matt:

"But how is God breaking his promises when 'they all find their yes in Christ'? What about the land that God gives in Revelation 21-22, i.e. the entire Earth, as a fulfillment of a land promise?"

Response:

Of course it is all fulfilled in Christ. NO ONE DISPUTES THAT (caps for emphasis not shouting). The promises to Abraham would be through his greatest son. The promises to David would be through his greatest son. These are points of agreement between all christians.

The issue is whether or not the promises specifically made to the Jews will be realized as well. We get the benefit of seeing the entire Scripture and saying that the promises to the Jew will be realized in the millenium. Romans 11 tells us that God does not change his mind regarding his calling of Israel. The Jew is presently an enemy of the gospel but one day will embrace it.

As for an Amill lying, compare it to this:

Boy wants to marry girl. He proposes to her and promises to marry her. One year later he marries a different girl. The new girl informs the old girl that the boy simply promised to get married, and that is the important thing. The recipient of the original promise didn't matter.

Amills do that with God. God made specific promises to a specific people, which have not yet been realized.

James Kime said...

Bernie, you are aware of course that these verses are not only in the Amill translations right?

1Ki 4:20 The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy. 21 And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. These countries brought tribute and were Solomon's subjects all his life.

Jos 21: 43 So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them. 45 Not one of all the LORD's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

Consider that how AFTER those statements were made, God also said this right after the promise of the new covenant:

Jeremiah 31:35ff
35 Thus says the Lord,who gives the sun for light by dayand the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,who stirs up the sea so that its waves roarĂ¢€”the Lord of hosts is his name: 36 If this fixed order departsfrom before me, declares the Lord,then shall the offspring of Israel ceasefrom being a nation before me forever. 37 Thus says the Lord:If the heavens above can be measured,and the foundations of the earth below can be explored,then I will cast off all the offspring of Israelfor all that they have done,declares the Lord. 38 Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lordfrom the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. 40 The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be uprooted or overthrown anymore forever.

So let me ask you, if the promises were done and completed, why is God promising hundreds of years later the land with specific dimensions? Further, if you note the end of the last verse, the land would be "sacred to the Lord...FOREVER."

Tell me, is this promise currently true?

Bruce said...

Here's a different parable.

A family has been living in a faraway country for a few years because of the father's employment. The dad promises his children that one day he will take them back home where they will enjoy a spacious house and familiar comforts.

In the meantime, the family adopts an orphan from their host country. Sadly, one of their own sons forsakes the family and runs away.

When they return to their native country, the father gives his family the home he promised. The children receive the promised blessing, including the adopted son. The son who ran away is not in on the blessing.

The father has kept his promise, even though one son to whom the promise was given did not receive it, and one who was not present at the time the promise was given did receive it because he was made part of the family.

I believe this is more consistent with the biblical story, because OT Israel and NT church relate to each other like the trunk and branches of a tree (Romans 11), not like an either/or scenario.

James Kime said...

Bruce, my scenario was not meant to walk on all fours. It was merely an illustration of the way amills treat the promises of God. They agree he made promises, but the specifics have no actual significance.

Regarding your own story, I think it is great. I might even use it when I get to Romans 11 in a couple of months. Your story though is incomplete. See, the wayward son in your story is not sharing in the father's promise.

To make your story truly biblical would be to have the father guarantee that the wayward son would be brought back into the promise upon repentance.

Bruce said...

Yes, to make my parable reflect all the possibilities of Romans 11 the family would need to include:

1. a natural son who remains faithful to the father and receives the promised blessing

2. a natural son who forsakes the father and never returns to the family and never receives the blessing

3. a natural son who forsakes the father but later returns and does receive what was promised

4. an adopted son who remains faithful to his new father and receives the blessing as part of the family

5. an adopted son who forsakes the father and does not receive what was promised

I was not trying to deny that natural sons cannot come back into the family. My point is that if the inheritance will not be given to Jews only but rather to all who are in Christ by faith.

Your earlier story (depicting a position you would disagree with) reflects the basic idea of replacement theology, where someone (God) promises to marry one girl (Israel) then marries another (the Church). That indeed would reflect unfaithfulness on God's part, but do you think my story is "replacement" theology?

In my story, the family changes in composition (individual members) but the promise still goes to the family (even though there are now both natural and adopted sons, Jews and Gentiles). While the family did not stay the same between the time the promise was made and when it was kept, the father didn't exchange one family for another.

Thus, the argument between dispensationalists and covenantalists regarding Israel vs. Church as recipient of the promises is just a bad framework to begin with. It doesn't reflect the fact that the one tree that was once virtually exclusively Jewish has now been grafted in such a way so that the very same tree is now no longer exclusively Jewish. It's not that one tree has been cut down and replaced by another, or that there are two trees, but the composition of the tree (or family in my story) is different in this age.

Ben said...

James,

Something that might be helpful in clarifying the conversation would be to explain whom you understand to be the seed/offspring in Romans 4:13-25.

James Kime said...

Bruce, you don't have to sell me on who the recipients are and the nature of the new people of God. When it comes to those issues, I embrace New Covenant theology. I just happen to be pretrib/premill at the same time.

In fact, my response wasn't even to you I don't think. However, I will briefly touch on this.

According to Rom 4, the children of promise are those whose faith is in Christ. Ethnic jews as a people are enemies of the gospel. But this isn't about who or what the present reality of God's people is. Romans 11 tells us that ethnic Jews will be brought back into the tree. At that time they will become (as a people) partakes of the NC and all the promises attached to it, including a land promise.

Bruce said...

James,

Perhaps we are not all that far apart. I would not be disappointed!

My concern with your earlier comments was focused on the fact that I don't believe we need to be so concerned with specific land promises to ethnic Israel, because passages like Romans 4 shows that the inheritance goes to those who are Abraham's descendants according to faith, which include both Jews and Gentiles. We will inherit the world together!

It sounds like you and I would agree that Romans 11 seems to speak of a great influx of Jews coming to faith in Christ at the end, but the bottom line is that, even though God is not finished with Jews-as-Jews yet, the recipients of the promises will be the multi-ethnic New Covenant people of God, because they are in Christ by faith. Beyond this end-time "revival" I don't see any blessings that Jews will get that I as a Gentile subject of the kingdom will not. This is not God going back on his word-- this is how I believe Paul explains what God is doing in Romans 4, Ephesians 2, Galatians 4, etc. We will inherit and enjoy the kingdom and reign in it as much as any believing Jew, by grace through faith in Christ the king.

So, I am less concerned with pressing amillennialists with questions like, "Do the Jews get the land or not?" I would press them to see a physical fulfillment, which I believe they do. As long as we can agree that Christ is returning to reign and that those who are in him will share that reign on a physical earth (the whole world-- no boundaries needed) that is eventually restored to its created perfection, then I can be flexible on some of the details.

Ben said...

So do we all agree? Just like that?

James Kime said...

No, but I haven't had time to respond. It is something I would really like to pursue.

Even after the original land promises were fulfilled, God still said they would be kept by Israel forever as part of the New Covenant.

The promise that the meek will inherit the earth did not originate with Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. It is in a Psalm, which I don't have in front of me at the moment.

Question: If the OT promises that the righteous will inherit the earth, why did God still give specific dimensions to Israel hundreds of years later?

This is the crux of the promise argument.

Romans 11 makes it clear that Israel is at present an enemy of the gospel. However, they are also loved for the sake of the fathers. What is so significant about the fathers that God still loves the ethnic Jew? It is because of his covenants with them that are yet unfulfilled. This is also why Paul says that the gifts and callings of God are without changing of mind.

The Abrahamic, Davidic, and New covenants would all reach their climax in Christ and his kingdom. This kingdom evidently includes specific land dimensions for the ethnic Jew though.

brian said...

It seems interesting, to me at least, that in a book written to Jews concerning the nature and promises of the old and new covenants, we don't have any discussion of the land promise, nor of God's faithfulness to provide it. What we do have in the letter to the Hebrews is a reminder that the promise of entering rest still stands. Not a rest of land conquest under Joshua and the kings, but a promise of a spiritual (and physical) rest with God forever. Therefore, it seems that in Hebrews 4 that the old covenant promise of land and rest is both fulfilled and surpassed in new covenant rest for the people of God. In other words, what Joshua and subsequent leaders conquered in land was never the focus or goal of the promise. Rather, just like the tabernacle, it was a shadow of a greater reality with God in Christ.

Perhaps there is not a direct connection between the promises of land and of rest, but they are together in the covenant with David (2 Sam 7). I'm sure there are holes in my argument, but I am simply struck by the emphasis of the NT writers. Where is the concern on their part for the faithfulness of God to provide the land to ethnic Israel? I'd be happy to hear from others.

James Kime said...

Brian, maybe you can clear something up.

You said, "...that in a book written to Jews concerning the nature and promises of the old and new covenants, we don't have any discussion of the land promise, nor of God's faithfulness to provide it."

Then you said, "Therefore, it seems that in Hebrews 4 that the old covenant promise of land and rest is both fulfilled and surpassed in new covenant rest for the people of God."

If it doesn't mention it, on what basis do you conclude that it is actually hidden within some other topic? I don't follow.

On that note though, the book of Hebrews does tell us that God is immutable (unchangable for you Gator fans), faithful to his word, and will never forsake us.

To deny the future reality of the land to the Jews in essence makes God out to be changeable, unfaithful to his word, and forsaking the people Romans 11 tells us he wouldn't.

Ben said...

James,

Let me see if this analogy works. Say I'm your dad and I promise you $5000 and a 2 bedroom house. But then I give you 5000 bars of gold and a 20 bedroom mansion, with the catch that you have to share it with your newly adopted brother. Am I breaking my promise to you? I'm thinking no, but I could be wrong.

I *think* that analogy could work with every system from a classic CT amil view to a NC (or perhaps even progressive dispensationalist) premil/pretrib view.

What do you think?

Bruce said...

Ben,

If I may add to and comment on your little narrative...

To a son who had been living in a little two-room apartment, the promise of a 2-bedroom house sounds fantastic. To Israelites whose sense of "wow" would have been defined by the kingdom under David and Solomon, those prophecied boundaries communicated a magnificent promise.

But, to a son whose dad ups the prize to a 20-room mansion, that kid isn't worried about which two rooms are his because "that's what I was promised." It seems odd that if believing Jews and Gentiles are heirs of the world, that the Jews would be cordoned off in their little slice of real estate (which, it must be said, is at the center). I don't think that is just a matter of my sensibilities-- the apostles spend a great deal of time (and ink) in trying to show how the Jew/Gentile distinction is not the division it once was. What matters is whether you are in Christ or not. And this is not just about getting along in a church service-- it's about inheritance.

The point is not an attack on literal interpretation. It's just the fact that the boundaries, which in their original context were really huge, are blown away-- in the most positively expansive sense possible. But since there's nothing that had been promised that they will fail to receive, there shouldn't be a problem.

James Kime said...

Ben, I knew I never should have mentioned a parable. Now everyone has one...

I agree that what the millenium has will has is bigger, better, and will blow our minds. I think we can all agree on that. But this is what Paul is dealing with in Romans 9-11. If this salvation is so great and is the promise through Abraham, why doesn't the Jew believe? There are specific promises to national salvation with the Jew and it still hasn't happened.

So here is a question for every parable we can think of:

On what basis do I think that the father making all these promises will keep his word when he can't even keep the tiny little land promise to the Jews?

Guys, I am not a jew. I am not trying to hold onto a piece of the gaza strip. I am a gentile brought into the covenants and I believe God is faithful to every promise he makes. On that basis and concern, I believe God will keep his promise to ethnic Jews that they will in fact own real estate with specific dimensions.

Bernie Wojcik said...

Ben,

All I was trying to say is that supersessionism is thrown around as a bogeyman kind of like 'limited atonement' is by all of those non-hyper-calvinists.

:*)

Bernie Wojcik said...

James,

I think Jer 31 should be read as a whole and in light of what is found in the NT.

Also I don't see anything there about a re-institution of land promises, temple sacrifices or a wholesale, unconditional return of ethnic and/or national Israel.

So that passage is not able to stand alone to prove dispensational theology.

James Kime said...

Bernie, I will number your points.

1. I think Jer 31 should be read as a whole and in light of what is found in the NT.

- Actually, this is true for every passage. The NT refers to this passage more than once.

2. Also I don't see anything there about a re-institution of land promises, temple sacrifices or a wholesale, unconditional return of ethnic and/or national Israel.

- If you don't see anything in Jer 31 about land, you aren't reading it. It gives specific dimensions of land promises, which Israel did not at that time have and have yet to possess.

Maybe it actually is a bait and switch. I will have to ponder that.

3. So that passage is not able to stand alone to prove dispensational theology.

- Who said anything about dispensational theology? Did you see me try to prove dispensational theology somewhere?

Bernie Wojcik said...

James,

I guess I didn't read that you were dispensational, I just assumed it based on your defense of JMac.

I wouldn't consider myself to be amil, I think that Romans 9-11 has something to say about a future hope for a beliving remnant of ethnic Israel.

You did make some claims about the amil position that I thought were less than correct - and I happened to have had a set of unrelated dispensational teacher's lecture notes thrust into my hands about the same time that I read your comments - hence my response.

So you reference Jer 31 as a future unconditional (?) land promise for ethnic (disobedient?) Israel. Is that it? You said "God made specific promises to ethnic Israel." So what are the other ones? Also what do you do with the NT references to Jer 31 such as Matt 2?