Colliding Christians

My mind feels like it’s firing on 16 cylinders and none of them are intelligent enough to start a volley of thought on one topic. So spare me if this post isn’t quite up to snuff. (:

A myriad of colliding persuasions have assaulted me in these recent weeks of reading Apocalypse Code and Christ’s Prophetic Plans. It seems every Christian is poised on pins, holding bated breath, hovering over the newspaper – wondering if this is it.

Is it soon? Will all the Christians disappear and start a seven-year countdown? Are we in the middle of the tribulation? How do we know?

It seems every generation has posed this question. In Matthew 24:3, the disciples weren’t the first to wonder even then. In our age, a quick Google search of “how will we know the end times” results in a .52 second search yielding 89,700,000 results. So wonder away.

In an unrelated study, I recently heard Beth Moore say, “When you completely figure out the Scriptures you will have gained authority over them. And you will never gain authority over Scripture.” It is our duty to spend our lives studying Scripture and never fully containing God’s infinite plan in our tiny minds. Perhaps there’s joy and true excitement in pondering, wondering, waiting. And while we wait, grasping the hands of our fellow believers and sharing the thrill of anticipation.

I think of two children waiting anxiously for Christmas presents. Though one is certain that Santa will leave their presents in time for them to open them on Christmas Eve and the other doesn’t expect his packages until Christmas morning – will they argue over the certainty and joy that Santa will come?

I am straying now from a strict book review, but I am suddenly inspired to pursue every theologian’s opinion and to inductively determine what I believe God’s word says about the end times. To that end, I offer you two resources. The first is a video by Hank Hanegraaff. In it he gives an overview of Dispensationalism and why he does not subscribe to that eschatological view.

The second is a link to David Brickner’s ministry, Jews For Jesus. I heard him interviewed last week by Janet Parshall who is a Futuristic Premillennialist.

I think one thing that has become crystal clear to me as I lay these two opinions alongside each other is that the hope of Jews and Gentiles is the same. I have no doubt that Jesus intends a wonderful reunion and ingathering of all Jewish believers. I believe He has that same plan for every Gentile believer as well.

“In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name,” declares the Lord who does this. Amos 9:11-12

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One Thing For Sure

It is not my desire to ignite controversy. But, I’m going to do it anyway (:

Isn’t that what blogging is for: to strike up dialogue, probe opinions and make you think?

I have been reading Christ’s Prophetic Plans, by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue. I picked it up just after re-reading Hank Hanegraaff’s Apocalypse Code, so my thoughts are tangled, my opinions mangled and the only thing I remain certain of this that JESUS IS LORD AND I WILL SPEND ETERNITY WITH HIM IN HEAVEN! Whew, at least that’s settled!

Caught between these two eschatological view points, each espoused by biblical scholars that I deeply admire, I have digging in unusual places (Google) for better illumination on each opinion. I have ferreted out audio and interviews with MacArthur, R.C. Sproul and Sinclair Ferguson. I have read about John Newton Darby (often regarded as the founder of Dispensationalism) and read about Margaret MacDonald (a woman whose entranced, hysteric mumblings have been regarded at different times both as extra-biblical and demonic.

This reading leads one into discussion of the rapture, the tribulation, the essence of salvation and the distinction of the nation of Israel. While I firmly believe that we are called as Christians to “… you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15) I confess that I remain unresolved on three of these issues.

If one accepted Darby’s view of the secret rapture… Benjamin Wills Newton pointed out, then many Gospel passages must be “renounced as not properly ours.”…this is precisely what Darby was prepared to do.

Too traditional to admit that biblical authors might have contradicted each other, and too rationalist to admit that the prophetic maze defied penetration, Darby attempted a resolution of his exegetical dilemma by distinguishing between Scripture intended for the Church and Scripture intended for Israel…

The task of the expositor of the Bible was, in a phrase that became the hallmark of dispensationalism, “rightly dividing the word of truth”.

From “The Roots of Fundamentalism:
British and American Millenarianism 1800-1930” (1970)
by Ernest R. Sandeen, University of Chicago Press
ISBN 0-22-73467-6, p. 65-67

Makes you think, huh?

It bothers me that as I read both view points, I find the authors of each, demeaning the others. Not only do they espouse a different opinion, but like politicians defending their platforms in an election year, they mock the opposing view. While we study and strive to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and wait expectantly for Him can we not remember,

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:1-3

Paul reminds us:

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

“And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’ Jew and Gentilef are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” Romans 10:8b-13

Book Review, Christ’s Prophetic Plans

Every generation has believed that it is quite possibly the last one. Every generation of Christian has hoped that theirs would be the raptured generation. Oh, wait. Not every Christian believes there will be a rapture. Many Bible-believing, devout Christians differ on Christ’s millennial reign, the resurrection of the dead, when we receive our glorified bodies, whether the nation of Israel will be physically restored to the Promised Land, will there be a tribulation? was there a tribulation?

It is this confusion, fascination, discussion that leads me to review Christ’s Prophetic Plans, published by Moody Publishers.

I am a little nervous because the various opinions seem to be so polarizing for the body of Christ and yet, I feel like I’m straddling a line, leaning perhaps a little more on one foot than the other, but nonetheless able to see the question in multiple lights – all shadowed.

It all started few weeks ago, when my dad asked me, out of the blue, “Abby, do you believe in Dispensationalism?” Uh. Do I even know what that means?

Dad mentioned a book he had been reading called, The Apocalypse Code, by Hank Hanegraaff. Embarrassingly, I had read the book years ago and recommended it to my mom. Now, nearly 5 years later, I can’t even remember what it was about. Quick synopsis: He lands squarely on the opposite end of the spectrum from the book we’re reviewing this week.

So, I found it on Kindle and started reading it again. Then, while visiting my sister’s church in Dallas, her pastor’s Wednesday night series was The End Times. He landed on the Dispensationalist side, and admiring him as I do, I was hard pressed to disagree. Add to the list of Dispensationalists that I trust, and whose theology I generally agree with: Janet Parshall, Kay Arthur, Beth Moore and John MacArthur.

Am I confusing you? Good, we’re in the same boat. That’s why I chose to read Christ’s Prophetic Plans. If so many of my teachers disagree, I need all the facts from both sides of the issue to make an informed decision.

Christ’s Prophetic Plans , seeks to distill, without diluting, the principles of Dispensationalism and the basics of Futuristic Premillennianism. In the preface, John MacArthur states:

“This primer intends to provide a clear and convincing biblical explanation for the interpretive approach to Scripture that results in a knowable futuristic view of Christ’s millennial reign on earth, the certain validity of God’s promises to future Israel, and the crucial differences between Israel (as a people and a nation) and the NT church.”

I found MacArthur’s preface the most clarify three pages of the whole book. He lays out the distinguishing characteristic between the various views of eschatology: Dispensationalism:

…different administrations in the outworking of God’s redemptive purpose….Dispensationalists believe that all of God’s future covenant promises (Abrahamic, Davidic, and New) to Israel will be literally fulfilled – including promises of earthly blessings and an earthly messianic kingdom.

Christ’s Prophetic Plans, offers a succinct list of the tenets of Dispensationalism;

  1. a distinction between Israel and the church
  2. an approach to hermeneutics called literal interpretation
  3. the belief that the underlying purpose of God in the world is God’s glory

Oh how I welcome your opinions and feedback on this intimidating subject of eschatology. But regardless of which side of the discussion you advance, let us remember that we serve the same King and we have the same hope.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4