Why Discernment Has Disappeared

January 23, 2015

Dr. Randy White | Pastor
First Baptist Church, Katy, TX

**This article was previously posted by Dr. Randy White on his website www.randywhiteministries.org and is used by permission.

 

“You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” (Matthew 16:3, NKJV)

I am continually frustrated that Christians, even pastors and theologians, seem to have an overwhelming inability to discern the times. The Christian world is continually making false assumptions about reality, then making decisions based upon those assumptions. A continued downward spiral is the only result.

Why is it that discernment has disappeared? I will share three reasons.

An inability to explain basic prophecy
If you don’t know where you’re going, it will be impossible for you to discern what the results of any particular action will be. Not knowing your destination, you have no clue whether or not your left turn will delay you, be a shortcut, or be a dead-end.  For someone with a godless world view, the world isn’t going anywhere. A turn is simply a turn. Christians, however, have a worldview in which the Creator of both time and space is purposeful, and will guide to this world to any intended end.

So why is it that most Christians cannot even give a basic outline of Biblical prophecy? How is it expected that we can interpret history or evaluate current events if we are clueless about the trajectory of history? Given a set of prophetic events, most Christians would have a hard time even putting them into some semblance of order, and couldn’t explain and defend their positions even if they managed to get them in order. I am convinced that a knowledge of the future is a fundamental piece of information for a discernment of the present.

Daniel 9:24-27 is one of the most important passages of Scripture for understanding a Bible time-line and order of events. It describes a period of time from Israel’s return from exile to the arrival of Israel’s Messiah, and looks forward to the time in which everlasting righteousness is ushered in. It speaks of the Antichrist, and is the passage from which a seven-year Tribulation is calculated. However, more and more theologians are using the English Standard Version of Scripture (ESV), which I have said is, “allergic to prophecy.”  If one reads Daniel 9:25 in the ESV he would have a completely different time-line than if he read in KJV or any other trustworthy version. The unacceptable translation in the ESV simply adds to the inability of modern believers to understand Biblical prophecy. (For more on the ESV’s allergy to prophecy, click here).

The inability to explain the present age theologically
The Pharisees and Sadducees could tell what the weather was going to be, but had no ability to explain the current activity of God. Such seems to be true of religious leaders of our age as well. The theology from the seminary to the pulpit is a mish-mash of Bible casserole that makes a mockery of a literal reading of the text.

With this inability to explain the present age theologically, several theological screw-ups are prominent in the church today, including—

The “How to Define Israel” screw-up
If a professor of literature or grammar or etymology or linguistics or English read the Bible, they would define Israel as a nation created by God composed of the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But when a professor of Theology reads the Bible, unable to explain what God is doing in the world today, he has multiple definitions of Israel. He will use these at his personal whims. When Israel is disobedient, it is is a nation of Jews. When Israel is blinded and rejected, it is that same Jewish nation. When Israel has promises, it is now redefined to include….me. These redefinitions range from the typical historic replacement theological position of the church as the “new Israel,” to the more recent but ever-popular view of the new Calvinists (like the folks at the ERLC or the Gospel Coalition) who teach that “Jesus is the true Israel.” The bottom line of these definitions is all the same: the nation of Israel and the Jewish people are incidental to anything happening in history today. So much for the ability to discern the times.

The Law and Grace screw-up
Only when one understands God’s current activity and soteriological plan can a clear understanding of the Law and Grace be determined. Without knowing what God is doing today, the theologian (armchair or Seminary variety) will take a few parts law and a few parts grace, mix them together and create a Baptist. The Scripture may say that we are dead to the Law, but since we like certain laws, we create an explanation of why we are still obligated to these particular laws.

Some of my favorite made-up explanations:

  • “Since this practice pre-dates the Law, we are still obligated.”  If this is all that is required, let’s get back to our sacrifices (which go to Genesis 4) and our Sabbath rest (which goes to Genesis 1-2).
  • “Since this is a part of Israel’s moral law and not her ceremonial or civil law, we are still obligated.” And with this, the theologian begins slicing and dicing the Law (again based on their own whims). The sliced and diced Law is the same one of which James says, “whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (James 2:10).


The Gospel-Morality screw up

With no comprehension of God’s activity and plan in today’s world, the theologian confuses morality with the Gospel. It seems like anything moral has now become Gospel.  Consider a few examples from Southern Baptist denominational ethicist Russell Moore:

Until we are able to clarify what God is doing in the world today, we will not have a clear understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Gospel will increasingly become anything good, moral, and lovely. Our proclamation of the Gospel will increasingly be a message of peace, justice, and reform, rather than one that tells of a Savior who provides personal restoration to God.

The inability to give Biblical explanation to current events
We have swallowed two pills which have robbed us of the ability to analyze current events.

First, we don’t know right from wrong because we’ve clouded the issues with post-modern thinking, which removes absolutes. When an issue arises, one needing a moral judgment, we say, “let me gather the evidence.” From there, we look at the myriad of circumstances that led to the actual issue. After we know causes and effects and motivations and experiences and ad infinitum, then we can determine whether the action itself was right or wrong. Meanwhile, those who are able to discern the times look at the action, compare it to the character of God as revealed in the pages of Scripture, and are able to quickly make a judgment.

When you were a child and got caught doing something you knew you were not supposed to do, your mother scolded you. Likely, your response was something like, “But Timmy did it first,” or “Timmy did this so I did that.” Your mother’s response was simple: “I don’t care what Timmy did.” She didn’t accept your moral equivalence arguments nor did she care about the events that led up to the wrongdoing. Your mother had a worldview that was based on absolute truths, not moral relativism.

Second, we cannot analyze current events because peaceful co-existence has been prioritized over serious debate. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told, “If you say that, you’ll really take some heat.” Why are we so concerned about speaking the truth? It is because we’ve been conditioned to believe that disruption of unity is worse than the current ill, even though the unity is dependent on a disconnect from reality.

Conclusion
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day could take opinion polls and jump in front of the crowd. They were good enough observers to be able to know the trends. What they could not do was discern the signs of the times. Hebrews 5:14 speaks of those who “have their senses trained to discern” (NASB). I can think of few other areas of training more needed for our day.

 

 

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Rick Patrick

Dr. White,

Thank you for your crystal clear analysis of our discernment crisis. Let me “Amen” two of your observations in particular.

First, the “Jesus is the true Israel” interpretation is yet another example of our New Calvinist dictionary playing fast and loose with the meaning of words. For the Calvinist, “all” can mean “some,” “love” can mean “wrath,” “free” can mean “bound,” “will” can be plural and contradictory, “gospel” can mean anything, and now “Israel” can mean “Jesus.” I think former Calvinist Ronnie Rogers calls these “disquieting realities” and identifies them almost as Orwellian “double speak.”

Second, your observation that “peaceful co-existence has been prioritized over serious debate” is spot on. There are events in our world for which the only appropriate Christian response is righteous indignation—a bold denunciation of sin. Examples I would use are (1) the California bathroom bill, (2) America’s failure to show up and denounce terrorism at the Paris rally, (3) the Houston sermon subpoena debacle, (4) the homosexual wedding cake imbroglio, and (5) the Atlanta Fire Chief termination. Our responses to these events should not end with periods but with exclamation points!

No wonder those inside and outside our convention are confused about whether or not we have changed our Southern Baptist views regarding moral and ethical concerns.

Andy

Response 1: Eschatology

Dr, White, you make some good points as your article progresses, but I believe you weaken the main point of your title by the content of the first half of your post. It seems the first half of your post should be titled, “Why Post-millenialism and amillennialism do not fit the scriptural account.”

However, by saying it is an issue of Christian discernment, it sounds as though you are simply saying anyone who is not a Pre-millenialist, or dispensationalist, or thinks maybe the church DOES get somehow included in Israel, that such people simply don’t care about biblical truth. That if someone has a different eschatology than you, then their ability to live as a Christian in this present world is severely compromised. I simply don’t buy that. Dispensationlists and Amillenialists can BOTH miss what they should be doing in this world now…and being able to draw a different timeline of the end of the world probably won’t help much.

Furthermore, you dismiss out of hand those who have read Daniel, and revelation, and 1 &2 Thessalonians, and the whole bible, but who still are not sure about certain points of eschatology. Should those who honestly say “I don’t know” be chastised as lacking discernment?

Thanks for considering these things…you are right that discernment is needed.

-andy

Andy

Response 2: Law – Gospel

Could you elaborate on what you are referring to here? What is the correct way to view this? (ie, if someone says, “Why should I not make an idol and worship it?” Would you point them to the 10 commandments, or not…and if not, what role to they play today?

Andy

Response 3: Gospel & Morality…

I agree we need much more clarity these days on calling everything “the Gospel.” However, I do think that perhaps a better way to say it is that MANY, if not most issues we face do RELATE to the Gospel in some way, and not everyone making these connections is necessarily off-base, for examples you give…

1. World Vision announced it would hire those in same-sex marriages, Moore said, “At stake is the gospel of Jesus Christ.” —I would say that the homosexual issue is related to the Gospel, in that true salvation leads to sanctificaton, and increased obedience to God’s word.

2. In the heat of the ongoing immigration debate, he states clearly that, “This is a gospel issue.” —um, I have no idea what he meant by that.

3. In an article on “Gospel or Justice,” Moore speaks of, “the gospel as a message of reconciliation that is both vertical and horizontal, establishing peace with both God and neighbor.” In the same article, he states that “the gospel is holistic in its restoration—personal, cosmic, social, vocational.” —Paul also links God’s reconciliation with us to our reconciliation with others in 2 Cor. 5, and in other places. The Gospel has many EFFECTS, among them transformed lives that lead to social change and increased joy and commitment to work, and even, in Romans 8, the long-awaited restoration of the broken world and universe. It is not incorrect to say the Gospel AFFECTS everything. in that sense it is holistic.

4. Moore proclaimed that marriage is, “a picture of the very mystery that defines the existence of the people of God—the gospel of Jesus Christ.” —I really fail to see how you can find fault with this statement…it is basically a paraphrase from Ephesians 5 – “This mystery is profound, but I am saying it refers to Christ and the Church.”

(Dr. white said)- “Until we are able to clarify what God is doing in the world today, we will not have a clear understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Gospel will increasingly become anything good, moral, and lovely. Our proclamation of the Gospel will increasingly be a message of peace, justice, and reform, rather than one that tells of a Savior who provides personal restoration to God.”

—I agree with your warning of this trend, in fact I agree with this entire sentance, EXCEPT for the first part, IF what you mean is that one will head down this path unless he adopts a pre-millenial/dispensational eschatology…

Andy

Response 4: Absolute truth & bold declaration of truth.

I agree with both of these, with the caveat that stating truth can be done in a non-abrasive way…Paul encouraged Timothy to correct his opponents with gentleness.

(Sorry for so many replies, But I hope the separation can allow for better discussion)

-Andy

Bill Mac

I like what you said about the Law-Grace mixup, but I’m trying to “discern” if you are saying that a lack of discernment (especially on the part of Calvinists, it seems) is what is keeping people from being pre-millennial dispensationalists.

Ray

You may disagree with the “Jesus is the true Israel” interpretation, but it is certainly not an invention of Calvin or Reformed churches (I am not Reformed). Rather, it is clearly what the Second Century church believed and has been acknowledged by Christians down through the centuries. While discernment is a serious issue for believers and the church, your article seems to me to be more of a lament over why many Christians are disregarding a Dispensational hermeneutic.

    Randy White

    You are correct, Ray. The anti-semitism of the 2nd century is well known, you can read it in Mathetes and others. Augustine codified this spiritualistic theology, the Catholic church institutionalized it, and the Reformation failed to reform it. But since our only source of authority is the 66 books of the Bible, one would need to build their anti-Israel bias from those pages for it to have validity.

      Ray

      That is no more an anti-semitic statement than Jesus declaration that He was the true vine (as opposed to the false vine) which Israel believed itself to be, or Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus as the true Israel in chapters 1-5, or Paul’s teaching that believers are the true children of Sara while Jews of the flesh are the children of Hagar.

Max

I was young and now am old. I’ve observed much in my long season as a Southern Baptist. I’m so old that I remember when SBC leadership operated with spiritual discernment, looked at the lay of the land, and delivered “Thus saith the Lord” from their pulpits! The thing that troubles me most is the relegation of the Holy Spirit to the back pew! Discernment?! How can we truly discern the signs of our time and know what to do if we continue to grieve and quench the Holy Spirit with our theological wrangling, division, and rebellion?! In our current condition, most SBC pulpits don’t have enough power to blow the dust off a peanut … let alone prepare God’s people for the days ahead. We need a “now” Word for the people of God, not more canned sermon series! Southern Baptists are in bad need of a dose of 2 Chronicles 7:14, but I don’t have much hope at this point that they will take it.

Bill Mac

I’m disappointed this article hasn’t generated a little more engagement. I want to comment again a little more deeply.

An inability to explain basic prophecy As I said in an earlier comment, this seems to be a dig at non dispys, particularly Calvinists (the crack about ESV), as if only premil-dispys are able to be discerning.

The “How to Define Israel” screw-up Again this seems to be another dig on non dispensationalists. I read the “Jesus is the true Israel” link and although I don’t know that I completely agree, it doesn’t seem unorthodox. My view is that the church hasn’t not replaced Israel, it has always been Israel.

The Law and Grace screw-up This one is a little confusing, because I agree with it completely, but since I am neither a premiller nor a traditionalist, I feel like I’m not expected to. Especially since the author seems to suggest that only people with the right view of soteriology (ie: traditionalists) and prophecy (ie: dispys) can rightly distinguish between law and grace. In my experience what the author decries in this section about mixing law and grace is present in nearly every evangelical I’ve ever met, especially non-Calvinists.

The Gospel-Morality screw up: Yes, everything is about the Gospel now and I agree that it’s a little overdone, but it’s hardly the biggest issue facing the church right now. Nothing Moore says is going to satisfy everyone, but I agree that we should distinguish between the Gospel itself and its effects.

The inability to give Biblical explanation to current events: I’m not exactly sure what to make of this one. The author says “we don’t know right from wrong because we’ve clouded the issues with post-modern thinking,. Although the author uses the word “we” he clearly doesn’t include himself in this indictment. Dr. Patrick seems to lament a lack of righteous indignation over several recent events, but I recall very little but righteous indignation over these events. Righteous indignation is an SBC superpower.

I think the article could be summed up this way: Calvinists are bad because they get the Gospel wrong, eschatology wrong, and morality wrong. Beware the Calvinists.

    Robert

    Bill Mac wrote: “I think the article could be summed up this way: Calvinists are bad because they get the Gospel wrong, eschatology wrong, and morality wrong. Beware the Calvinists.”

    I don’t believe this claim is accurate at all.

    Not all Calvinists get “eschatology wrong”.

    Nor does the article explicitly state “Beware the Calvinists.”

    Regarding eschatology I believe that the Calvinists and those who term themselves “Reformed” who espouse Amillennialism do get eschatology wrong. I do not agree with John MacArthur on his Calvinism but other than that he is an excellent bible teacher. MacArthur is a Calvinist and a few years ago he chided his fellow Calvinists who are Amillenialists at a major Bible conference claiming they were really messing up on eschatology with their Amill view (he gave a message titled “Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist, Part 1” March 25, 2007) In this article MacArthur argued quite strongly and convincingly that their Amill view indicated they were not taking the prophetic texts as they ought. MacArthur at one point stated:

    “Whether you are a pessimistic amillennialist, or an optimistic amillennialist, that’s a post-millennialist, you don’t know what to do with prophetic truth because if you interpret prophetic truth in the same normal natural way you interpret all the rest of the passages of Scripture, you’re going to end up a pre-millennialist. It’s inevitable. And so you have to change the rules of interpretation. And once you say the Bible doesn’t mean what it says, then we have no idea what it means. Certainly you have no idea what it means, neither does anybody else.”

    MacArthur’s conclusions and arguments go very well with the present article here written by Randy White. MacArthur would completely agree with White that Amill is a very good example of discernment being lost regarding proper Bible interpretation. So not all Calvinists get eschatology wrong, MacArthur gets it right and he is a Calvinist. Those who espouse Amillenialism do get it wrong however and both MacArthur and White are correct about that.

    Robert

      Ray

      Your understanding of interpretation or hermeneutics seems to disregard genre. Of course different scriptures are approached in different ways; genre helps to determine meaning. In addition, the literal words cannot be separated from authorial intent. Interpretation needs to be done with an eye toward the authors intention and what the original audience would have understood.

      Bill Mac

      Robert: But what it boils down to is something like this: “If people were more discerning, they would believe just like me” You think premillers are right, I think they are wrong. Who gets the discernment prize? I guess it depends on which web site you are posting on.

      I don’t have a problem with disagreement. I don’t have a problem with someone thinking I or anyone else is wrong. I do have a problem with the idea that if we were all equally smart, knowledgeable, discerning, spirit-filled, etc, that we would all agree on everything.

        Robert

        “Robert: But what it boils down to is something like this: “If people were more discerning, they would believe just like me” You think premillers are right, I think they are wrong. Who gets the discernment prize? I guess it depends on which web site you are posting on.”

        Apparently I must have hit a nerve by my post judging by your sarcastic comments here.

        When I worked with Walter Martin it was my understanding that discernment deals with judging between truth and error, having an awareness regarding a claim or interpretation, whether it was true and biblical or false and unbiblical. For Martin and the rest of us, discernment did not mean that people “believe just like me”. We were extremely aware that there were/are many different beliefs and interpretations out there. Our thinking regarding discernment was that something is true if it corresponded with the Bible properly interpreted. Discernment also meant that if we were biblical we could expect not that others would agree with us, but that many would disagree with us, many would hold false and unbiblical interpretations even claiming their interpretations were correct and ours were false. This also means that the same person can be mistaken in one area and correct in another area.

        That is precisely why I brought up the example of MacArthur. I believe he is mistaken in his Calvinistic beliefs: at the same time he is correct in regards to his claims about Amills being incorrect. Truth is never determined by a vote but by conformity to the Bible. Amills take rather clear statements and because of their mistaken presuppositions regarding prophecy, make really glaring mistakes. And the person who is discerning, knowing scripture in the area of prophecy knows exactly why the Amills are in error. MacArthur does know scripture, and so he knows that Amill is false and he had the guts to publically state this to a crowd that was primarily Amill in its interpretation of scripture.

        You made a claim that Randy’s article was basically saying that all Calvinists are wrong on prophecy: I gave a perfect counter example to show your claim to be false (MacArthur who is Calvinist, who is also Premill, and who also chided other Calvinists who are Amill that they are dead wrong on prophecy and that of all people, as they believe in unconditional individual election they ought to also be able to believe in the Unconditional election of Israel).

        “I don’t have a problem with disagreement.”

        Neither do I, but the issue is not mere disagreement it is discernment.

        “ I don’t have a problem with someone thinking I or anyone else is wrong.”

        And again neither do I, but the issue is not mere disagreement it is discernment.

        “I do have a problem with the idea that if we were all equally smart, knowledgeable, discerning, spirit-filled, etc, that we would all agree on everything.”

        And that claim was never made by Randy or myself, we neither claimed nor do we believe that every professing Christian will “all agree on everything.”

        It is our contention that if they exercise proper discernment then there would be agreement on certain points. This agreement does not exist precisely because some have made some major errors in the area of eschatology. Errors good discernment would avoid.

        Robert

          Les Prouty

          Robert,

          Bill Mac is right. What one man (you) see as our (I’m postmill) lack of discernment is just our different interpretation of the same passages. You really do sound like you are saying, “You disagree with me so obviously you lack discernment.” So *you* get to decide what is the proper interpretation. Only *you* can possibly be correct. Bill Mac cannot possibly be correct because he has the passages wrong because he lacks proper discernment. Oh I see. That was easy.

          Brother, better theologians than you, MacArthur (whom I greatly respect and have been to many of the Shepherd’s Conferences) and I combined have different eschatology interpretations. But obviously they’re wrong because they are not dispys?

          “Our thinking regarding discernment was that something is true if it corresponded with the Bible properly interpreted.” But what if it is *you* that is wrong? Is that a possibility? And I in no way mean to be sarcastic in my comments brother.

          Blessings to you.

          Bill Mac

          Robert: I hope you can understand why I interpret this post as “beware the Calvinists”, since that is a recurring theme here. See the latest post as an example. Surely you aren’t suggesting that this post isn’t generally directed at Calvinists, even if it doesn’t hit every one of them at every point (your point about MacArthur). What was the point of the author saying if you didn’t get soteriology right, then you couldn’t discern the times?

          No nerves hit. I know what this site is and what to expect when I post here. No surprises, and I haven’t been treated badly here. My only disappointment with this post is that it hasn’t generated more discussion.

            Robert

            Hello Bill Mac,

            “Robert: I hope you can understand why I interpret this post as “beware the Calvinists”, since that is a recurring theme here.”

            It is true that this is a recurring theme here, but I actually think this post **was broader** than merely directed at Calvinists. It includes errors made by many Calvinists (e.g. Amill, Postmill) but these are not errors exclusive to Calvinists.

            “ Surely you aren’t suggesting that this post isn’t generally directed at Calvinists, even if it doesn’t hit every one of them at every point (your point about MacArthur). What was the point of the author saying if you didn’t get soteriology right, then you couldn’t discern the times?”

            Again, I thought it was broader, Calvinists are not the only ones who “don’t get soteriology right”, Catholics for example mess up in soteriology as well (and some of the errors mentioned here are definitely mistakes made by Catholics).

            “No nerves hit.”

            It seemed to me by your response that a nerve was hit because from the past you are usually very rational in the way you post. This time you seemed a lot more emotional than what I have seen you post in the past. I think you took a broader challenge from Randy and took it personally hence your more emotional than usual response.

            Robert

              Bill Mac

              Robert: I take your point about Catholic soteriology, but Catholic doctrine is not usually a target on this blog. I am still curious about the Law/Gospel part of the post, since that one, in my opinion, applies much more to traditional Southern Baptists than to Calvinists (who are often accused of being antinomian).

                Robert

                Bill your latest post proves my point, namely, that the original post by Randy was intended to be broader, not just aimed at Calvinists.

                “Robert: I take your point about Catholic soteriology, but Catholic doctrine is not usually a target on this blog.”

                I cite them merely as an example that the target is broader than just Calvinists.

                “I am still curious about the Law/Gospel part of the post, since that one, in my opinion, applies much more to traditional Southern Baptists than to Calvinists (who are often accused of being antinomian).”

                Well see if you are right here, and I believe that you are, then that totally proves my point, the post was not just aimed at Calvinists but also Baptists “who are often accused of being antinomian.” This proves the post was aimed at a wider target than just Calvinists.

                PS- if you want a simple proof that Amill is false just briefly tell me what you believe the first and second resurrections of Rev. 20 refer to. With that in hand I can simply and clearly show your Amill view to be false. If you are interested.

                Robert

                  Bill Mac

                  Robert: I never said I was A-Mill, only that I’m not a premillenial dispensationalist.

                    Robert

                    Bill your earlier statement:

                    “I think the article could be summed up this way: Calvinists are bad because they get the Gospel wrong, eschatology wrong, and morality wrong. Beware the Calvinists.”

                    Is what made me think you were Amill, especially the phrase “eschatology wrong”. Randy is clearly writing from a Premill perspective. So when you countered that his article could be summed up as the Calvinists being bad because they got eschatology wrong, I inferred that you meant Calvinists who are not Premill, which would be primarily Amills. Most of the Calvinists that I know are Amills (MacArthur being a prominent and almost singular exception) with a few Postmills, so I then assumed you were Amill. Now you write:

                    “I never said I was A-Mill, only that I’m not a premillenial dispensationalist.”

                    Sorry about my mistake from your previous comments I thought you were Amill.

                    I am not a dispensationalist either. Though simple discernment of early church history (i.e. for CENTURIES the church was Premill, Amill did not exist until Augustine invented it in the 400’s through his allegorizing hermeneutic) and scripture will lead you to some form of Premill (ruling out Amill and Postmill).

                    Robert

                  Bill Mac

                  Robert: I haven’t fully come down on one of the classic views of eschatology. The only one I’ve really rejected is dispensationalism.

                    Robert

                    Are you aware of the two forms of Dispensationalism (Classical and Progressive)? Classical has some major problems, but the progressive version as advocated by folks like Robert Saucy is much stronger and does not have the obvious errors of the classical version. The progressive version seems much closer to the truth, are you aware of it Bill Mac?

                    Robert

                    Bill Mac

                    Robert: No, I hadn’t heard of it. I took a quick look. Too little to make a definitive declaration but at first glance it seems unconvincing. Progressive or historical, I don’t see “dispensations” in scripture, so it’s probably a non-starter with me.

                  Ray

                  I think the assertion that Amil did not exist until the 400’s is misguided. Clarence Hill’s excellent work, “Regnum Caelorum,” has put forth a pretty strong case that the Non-Chiliast position was alive and well in the 2ns Century and may have been the majority opinion at the end of the 1st. Most 2nd century leaders who were chiliasts held to that position due to their view of the intermediate state as one of limbo in Hades.

                    Robert

                    Ray from my reading of the first few century sources there is no evidence of Amill until Augustine invents it in the 400’s. I know that some Amills have claimed otherwise (as apparently Hill does) but they present no substancial evidence for this claim.

                    As you appear to be an Amillennialist, tell me what you think the first and second resurrections of Rev. 20 are and I will refute your view very simply and quickly. Just share what you believe the 2nd resurrection of Rev. 20 refers to. If you are not afraid to have your view refuted.

                    Robert

                    Ray

                    Let’s do away with the “hiding behind a blog identity machismo and arrogance” shall we?

                    Very simply I believe Revelation 20:4-5 is referring to the intermediate state. John is attempting to comfort the Saints by speaking to them about those who have been martyred and their present position with Christ. This was both to encourage them not to fear what the beast could do to them physically and help them focus on what the Lamb could do for them spiritually. Then, there is one general resurrection which is in keeping with the whole of scripture.

Robert

Part 1 =

Ray says: “Let’s do away with the “hiding behind a blog identity machismo and arrogance” shall we?”

Where is that? No one is “hiding behind a blog identity” nor “machismo and arrogance”: your comment here is rude.

If one takes the Bible seriously and does not play games with it and bases one’s conclusions on what the text actually presents rather than making **everything** symbolic, you have to conclude with a Premill view of some kind based upon Rev. 20. We can even grant that the Dragon is a symbol as is the “1,000 yrs” and we can still show how the text interpreted properly completely contradicts the Amill view.

Ray presents his view as:

“Very simply I believe Revelation 20:4-5 is referring to the intermediate state. John is attempting to comfort the Saints by speaking to them about those who have been martyred and their present position with Christ. This was both to encourage them not to fear what the beast could do to them physically and help them focus on what the Lamb could do for them spiritually.”

I agree that the scripture in Revelation 20 is meant to encourage believers who may face martyrdom as it emphasizes the physical resurrection of martyrs explicitly. However it cannot be referring to the intermediate state as Rev. 20 involves two resurrections ******separated by a period of time***** (designated by John as “1,000 years”) and believers have been dying for centuries and entering the intermediate state (cf. absent from the body present with the Lord).

Ray claims:

“Then, there is one general resurrection which is in keeping with the whole of scripture.”

This is merely stating the Amill view that there is only one physical resurrection (“one general resurrection”) without any evidence or argument. Rev. 20 correctly interpreted **contradicts** this claim because the first resurrection presented in Rev. 20 cannot be referring to either regeneration or believers entering the intermediate state.

Most have no trouble acknowledging at least one of the resurrections in Rev. 20 is a physical bodily resurrection. Amills claim that the text is presenting two types of resurrection (one that is not a bodily resurrection and one that is a bodily resurrection).

The problem for this distinction made by Amills is that the STRUCTURE OF THE TEXT explicitly refutes the Amill claim that one of the resurrections refers to either (1) regeneration (the moment a person is saved) or (2) the moment the soul goes to the intermediate state upon death).

Some Amills argue the first resurrection in Rev. 20 is the first resurrection that Jesus discusses in John 5:25 (when a person is regenerated, converted) and the second resurrection is the second type of resurrection that Jesus discusses in John 5:28-29 (when the person experiences a physical resurrection). And I agree that in John 5 two different types of “resurrection” are being presented. They then argue that Rev. 20 is a parallel passage to John so both passages present a non-bodily resurrection and a bodily resurrection. At first glance this may appear to be plausible until one takes seriously the STRUCTURE OF THE TEXT presented by John in Rev. 20. If we examine the structure of the text as given by John in Rev. 20 (which gives us the chronology of the events described) we find this structure *******completely contradicts****** the Amill view and so the Amill view must be false.

Robert

    Les Prouty

    Robert: “If one takes the Bible seriously and does not play games with it and bases one’s conclusions on what the text actually presents rather than making **everything** symbolic…”

    Les: I think these men take/took the bible seriously and don’t/didn’t “play games with it.”

    Augustine
    Louis Berkhof
    Anthony Hoekema
    John Murray
    Vern Poythress
    Geerhardus Vos
    Greg Beale
    J. I. Packer

      Robert

      “Les: I think these men take/took the bible seriously and don’t/didn’t “play games with it.”
      Augustine
      Louis Berkhof
      Anthony Hoekema
      John Murray
      Vern Poythress
      Geerhardus Vos
      Greg Beale
      J. I. Packer”

      I disagree with Les’ claim here.

      First of all, **anyone familiar with church history and Augustine** in particular knows that he practiced an **allegorizing method of Bible interpretation**.

      If THAT is not playing games with the Bible then I do not know what is.

      Regarding the others listed here: all of them are Amills who are forced to play eisegetical games with the text of Rev. 20 in order to arrive at their Amill view. You cannot take the text of Rev. 20 in a straightforward manner and arrive at an Amill conclusion. These men may not have practiced the allegorical method to the extent that Augustine did, but when it comes to their interpretation of Rev. 20 they end up practicing the same kind of allegorical method that Augustine practiced.

      In my thinking the allegorical method = playing with scripture.

      Whether you do it a lot (like Augustine did) or do it in Rev. 20 as these men do, in either case I consider that to be playing with the Bible.
      The grammatical historical method of interpretation is the proper method; the allegorical interpretation is the wrong way to go. Some of these men may practice the grammatical historical method of interpretation in other Bible passages, but in Rev. 20 they abandon this method and engage in allegorical interpretation just like Augustine did all over the Bible.

      Robert

        Debbie Kaufman

        I can have only one response to this, dispensationalism was born further than Augustine in history, It did not appear until the 1800’s introduced by John Darby. So I don’t see where the Augustine argument would hold much merit in light of this fact.

      Les Prouty

      Robert says among other things, “In my thinking the allegorical method = playing with scripture.” and he says, “If one takes the bible seriously and does not play games with it…”

      To accuse the men I listed as not taking the bible seriously and of playing games with scripture is near the height of arrogance. Robert needs to learn to demonstrate more grace in his debates wherein, though he may disagree with his debate “opponents” he nevertheless assumes the best of his brother “opponents.” This is basic grace as we are admonished in the scripture to afford our brothers.

      “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

        Robert

        One of my old mentor’s always used to remind me that when considering someone’s words, always consider the source. And when we apply that standard to Les, exactly whom are we dealing with?? We are dealing with someone who once affirmed Baptist beliefs to the point they were ordained as a Baptist pastor. Then this same person renounced their Baptist beliefs and instead embraced Presbyterian beliefs. Well Presbyterian beliefs like infant baptism are false and unbiblical. This is not arrogant this is what follows if Baptist beliefs are correct and biblical. Now I don’t know why Les renounced true beliefs in favor of false ones, but I do know when I first started posting here at SBC today that Les was extremely arrogant and condescending and divisive in his manner of posting. I thought at the time that he should have been banned from this site. He did not post for a long time here and then started posting here again. I really wonder about someone who has gone through such a transformation (from true Baptist beliefs to false Presbyterian beliefs) why they would post at a Baptist blog like this. I know if the roles were reversed if I had rejected Presbyterian beliefs and adopted Baptist beliefs instead, I would not be posting at Presbyterian blog sites with my new Baptist beliefs. I would consider that as having the potential to be causing unnecessary division and confusion. Apparently Les has no such reservation, so he keeps posting here. This is also why, considering the source, I take everything Les says with a huge grain of salt.

        Les writes:

        “To accuse the men I listed as not taking the bible seriously and of playing games with scripture is near the height of arrogance.”

        No it’s not arrogance, if allegorizing and turning literal truths into symbols and explaining the intended meaning of texts away is playing games, then these men though they may be well meaning are twisting scripture to support false and unbiblical systems.
        It is also the nature of truth that if the grammatical historical method of interpretation is the proper method of interpreting scripture then the allegorizing method is conversely false and to be rejected (no matter who is doing it nor how famous they may be)
        Take Augustine again as an example, it is well known and well documented that he practiced the allegorizing method of interpretation. In my first semester seminary hermeneutics class we learned why his allegorizing method is unacceptable and to be completely rejected. And I don’t care how famous a person is (and that includes Augustine), if they practice this method they are practicing the wrong method of interpretation. I used to work counter cult ministry with Walter Martin and I know all about false methods of interpretation, ways of twisting and mangling scripture.

        It’s not acceptable when cults do it nor is it acceptable when professing Christians do it as well.

        “Robert needs to learn to demonstrate more grace in his debates wherein, though he may disagree with his debate “opponents” he nevertheless assumes the best of his brother “opponents.” This is basic grace as we are admonished in the scripture to afford our brothers.’

        I did not say these men were not believers, nor did I say anything about their character, nor did I say they are **always** practicing the allegorizing method of interpretation (in fact this is what I said about them: “These men may not have practiced the allegorical method to the extent that Augustine did, but when it comes to their interpretation of Rev. 20 they end up practicing the same kind of allegorical method that Augustine practiced.”) When they do use the allegorical method, they are wrong, no matter who they are, no matter how many books they have written or where they teach or how well known they may be. Unfortunately we live in a culture where if we dare declare something to be wrong (even when it actually is wrong) you are attacked as intolerant, arrogant and unloving (sometimes even in supposed Christian contexts).

        “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

        This is sanctimonious and hollow coming from Les. Les being a former Baptist pastor also ought to know that love also speaks the truth, confronts error, is not afraid to speak the truth when it may not be convenient, may not be comfortable, may not even be acceptable for some. It is not loving to look the other way when people mangle scripture because of their false systems of theology. One of the responsibilities of church leaders is to confront and correct error: Les being a former Baptist pastor ought to know this.

        Robert

          Les Prouty

          Robert writes,

          “One of my old mentor’s always used to remind me that when considering someone’s words, always consider the source.”

          Have we moved to the elementary school playground here? And my move from a practicing SB pastor to my practicing PCA pastorships to my no membership in a PCA church disqualifies me somehow or calls into question what I say? MacArthur espouses the dreaded C beliefs but is otherwise acceptable to Robert? Well I of course claim no even to be close to JM’s level. So…

          Robert:”Now I don’t know why Les renounced true beliefs in favor of false ones, but I do know when I first started posting here at SBC today that Les was extremely arrogant and condescending and divisive in his manner of posting.”

          Well I would disagree that whatever my faults then were in my postings, they are not the same now. I am making every attempt here these days to be kind and graceful as the scriptures call us to be with one another. Robert on the other hand has more than once here by several commenters been said to be less than graceful in postings. But let us not make this about our personalities. We all have faults plenty to go around.

          Robert: “No it’s not arrogance…” I’m sorry, but to say that Louis Berkhof, Anthony Hoekema, John Murray, Vern Poythress, Geerhardus Vos, Greg Beale, J. I. Packer do not take the bible seriously says more about the one saying this than about these men. Robert needs to learn how to disagree with people on theology without denigrating the people he disagrees with.

          Robert: “This is sanctimonious and hollow coming from Les. Les being a former Baptist pastor also ought to know that love also speaks the truth, confronts error, is not afraid to speak the truth when it may not be convenient, may not be comfortable, may not even be acceptable for some.”

          Me being a former Baptist has exactly what to do with it? Learn grace brother. Grace.

          Robert now let me speak to you and not about you. I don’t know you and you don’t know me. I would be happy to have an email conversation conversation away from this public site if you wish. Maybe then we could take this down a few notches as my mere presence here seems to rile you up and get you hot under the collar. Feel free to email me brother if you would like to communicate via email. Les@haitiorphanproject.org

    Ray

    “If one takes the bible seriously and does not play games with it…”

    Who is not taking it seriously? John himself tells us in the introduction (1:1) that he is communicating (semaino) in symbols. As the KJV renders it, “signified.” Of course this is in keeping with other apocalyptic books. Therein lies a point of demarcation between some Premils and others; they do not see the genre of the book as apocalyptic.

    Now, the first resurrection (the only mention with the ordinal one) and second, general resurrection, seem to be clearly paralleled with the first death and second death. Given that the first death is a reference to spiritual death and the second is a reference to physical death, I see no reason that one should not understand resurrection in the same light. The structure of the text does not demand otherwise. All believers experience a spiritual resurrection and then will experience a physical resurrection. Yes there is a period of time between the two which is why the intermediate state, which also fits the original context, makes sense (for the symbolic nature of numbers in apocalyptic see Ray Summers introduction to Worthy is the Lamb). After that period of time will come the general (bodily) resurrection (Dan. 12, Jn. 5, Acts 24.) Revelation 20 is the only place which posits a period of time between the resurrection of the just and unjust. A proper principle of hermeneutics is to interpret the obscure passage (Rev. 20) in light of the clear passages (the previously listed). So, that there is one general resurrection is supported by the majority of scripture and has the strength of church history.

    Further, your statement with regards to chronology is an assumption (you make many assumptions that you take as fact). You are assuming that John, and the broader apocalyptic genre, views time chronologically (I actually did a paper on this in seminary). In fact, it is more likely that Revelation is recapitulation or as William Hendriksen (More Than Conquerors) declares, historical parallelism. The binding of Satan, that you say must happen in a certain order is easily answered by Jesus’ declaration in Matthew 12 and Luke 10.

      Robert

      Part 1 =

      That’s it Ray?

      This is your response to my argument?

      You have completely failed to engage the argument that I presented. All you do is assert your Amill beliefs, as if merely asserting them makes them true.

      “John himself tells us in the introduction (1:1) that he is communicating (semaino) in symbols. As the KJV renders it, “signified.” Of course this is in keeping with other apocalyptic books. Therein lies a point of demarcation between some Premils and others; they do not see the genre of the book as apocalyptic.”

      I never said that Revelation does not involve symbols (I even granted that both the dragon and 1,000 yrs. period in Rev. 20 may be symbols. I also understand Revelation to be in the apocalyptic genre my view is similar to that of George Ladd who was Premill recognized the apocalyptic genre of Revelation and did not view the 1,000 yrs. as a literal 1,000 yr. period of time.

      “Now, the first resurrection (the only mention with the ordinal one) and second, general resurrection, seem to be clearly paralleled with the first death and second death.”

      First of all, where in the **text**, in the first verses of Rev. 20 does it refer to the “first death”, where does this phrase occur in the text?

      In fact this phrase never occurs in the text of Rev. 20. The phrase “first resurrection” occurs, and the phrase “second death” occurs: but not the phrase “first death.”

      Death is referred to in v. 4 “and I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded . . . and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” These martyrs had died physically and then they came to life and reigned for a thousand years. That “first death” mentioned in these early verses of Rev. 20, i.e. the martyrs, was a physical death. So if their “first death” was physical, then why wouldn’t their first resurrection also be physical?

      “Given that the first death is a reference to spiritual death and the second is a reference to physical death, I see no reason that one should not understand resurrection in the same light. The structure of the text does not demand otherwise.”

      But that is not a “given”, the first death referred to in the early verses of the Rev. 20 is the death of the martyrs, which was most certainly a physical death. And the “second death” referred to in Rev. 20 is not physical death (those who experience it had just been bodily resurrected and face judgment), but eternal separation from God. Ray you are mistaken about the first death being spiritual (the text never says that, the text instead presents the physical death of martyrs by beheading) and the second death being physical (it is nonbelievers who experience the “second death” which is eternal separation from God). As you are wrong on these two things, your claim that “ I see no reason that one should not understand resurrection in the same light” does not follow.

      The second resurrection in Rev. 20 is a bodily resurrection; this is agreed upon by all. The disagreement is in regards to the nature of the first resurrection (is it bodily or not?). You have no basis in the text that it is not a bodily resurrection, it never says that the first death is believers going to the intermediate state, instead it explicitly talks about martyrs who died physically not spiritually.

      “All believers experience a spiritual resurrection and then will experience a physical resurrection.”

      True, and Jesus talks about this in John 5. But Rev. 20 is not talking about this. Take the martyrs in Rev. 20 as an example, they had already experienced spiritual resurrection/new birth, it was precisely because they were believers that they were killed by beheading. So these martyrs had already been born again/experienced spiritual resurrection and so they were persecuted to the point of death for it. Rev. 20 does not speak about the regeneration of these martyrs, only of their physical death and then resurrection.

      “Yes there is a period of time between the two which is why the intermediate state, which also fits the original context, makes sense (for the symbolic nature of numbers in apocalyptic see Ray Summers introduction to Worthy is the Lamb).”

      I never said that the “1,000 yrs.” had to be a literal thousand year period, that is **irrelevant** to my argument.

      Christians have been entering the intermediate state upon death for centuries (from the 1st century through our present 21st century). The problem which you ignore is that if your view is correct that the 1,000 yrs. refers to the intermediate state, then the first resurrection mentioned in Rev. 20 has been taking place **throughout the millennium**. It is an on-going resurrection as every time a believer dies they go to the intermediate state, and this has been taking place for centuries.

      But the text of Rev. 20 suggests that the first resurrection occurred BEFORE the millennium, not that it is on-going as your view implies. John intended his readers to understand that the first resurrection occurred **BEFORE** the 1,000 yrs. not **throughout** the 1,000 yrs. If you take it to be taking place throughout the 1,000 yrs. the language becomes nonsensical as does the chronology John presents.

      “After that period of time will come the general (bodily) resurrection (Dan. 12, Jn. 5, Acts 24.)”

      You assume that there is only one general bodily resurrection, but citing these passages does not prove that. And Rev. 20 properly interpreted presents two bodily resurrections separated by a period of time. That is a point of contention and merely stating your view does not make it true and make the other view false. Truth is not merely established by claiming what you wish to believe.

      “Revelation 20 is the only place which posits a period of time between the resurrection of the just and unjust.”

      Right, and so we have to carefully look at the text of Rev. 20 to determine what kind of resurrection is being referred to.

      Robert

        Robert

        Part 2 =

        “A proper principle of hermeneutics is to interpret the obscure passage (Rev. 20) in light of the clear passages (the previously listed).”

        Actually Rev. 20’s chronology is not “obscure” at all, nor is the passage “obscure”, that is just you claiming it to be so.

        Rev. 20’s chronology is absolutely simple and clear:
        1-the first resurrection occurs BEFORE the 1,000 yrs.,
        2-the reign of the saints and the binding of the dragon occurs DURING the 1,000 yrs.
        3-the release of the dragon and the second resurrection occurs AFTER the 1,000 yrs.
        None of this is obscure.

        But the Amill view ***makes the passage obscure*** because in positing that the first resurrection is not bodily but instead refers to believers going to the intermediate state all sorts of completely unnecessary confusion is created.

        John says the first resurrection occurs before the 1,000 yrs.: the view that the first resurrection refers to believers going the intermediate state means that believers are being raised and taking part in the first resurrection throughout the 1,000 yr. period. It cannot be both, either the first resurrection was a single event that occurred before the 1,000 yrs.’ (what John presents) or the first resurrection is millions of events that occur throughout the 1,000 yrs. (Ray’s view). These two views are contradictory and incompatible.

        “So, that there is one general resurrection is supported by the majority of scripture and has the strength of church history.”

        If Rev. 20 properly interpreted presents two bodily resurrections separated by the period referred to as the 1,000 yrs. then your statement here is false.

        “Further, your statement with regards to chronology is an assumption (you make many assumptions that you take as fact).”

        No, my statement regarding the chronology is no assumption, it is what the text presents. It presents a first resurrection, it presents this first resurrection occurring BEFORE the 1,000 yrs. it presents the reign of the saints and the binding of the dragon occurring DURING these 1,000 yrs. and it presents the release of the dragon and the second resurrection occurring AFTER the 1,000 yrs. People may disagree about what the resurrections refer to, or whether or not the 1,000 yrs. is literal or not, but no one can legitimately question the CHRONOLOGY presented by John in Rev. 20.

        “You are assuming that John, and the broader apocalyptic genre, views time chronologically (I actually did a paper on this in seminary).”

        Ok, so let’s assume for the moment that you are correct, that chronology meant nothing to John in Rev. 20, then consider the following questions:

        So does the second resurrection occur BEFORE the 1,000 yrs.?

        So does the first resurrection occur AFTER the 1,000 yrs.?

        So does the binding of the dragon occur AFTER the 1,000 yrs.?

        So does the reign of the saints occur AFTER the 1,000 yrs.?

        According to you John did not view time chronologically so that means the chronology of the events John presents in Rev. 20 did not mean anything at all to John.

        That is absolutely ridiculous.

        The questions above, all present impossibilities: impossibilities because John does present a very specific chronology of these events. The structure of the text presents only one chronology. And this is why I say that any “interpretation” that ignores this chronology or tries to explain away this chronology is both false and playing with the scripture.

        “In fact, it is more likely that Revelation is recapitulation or as William Hendriksen (More Than Conquerors) declares, historical parallelism.”

        We are not talking about whether or not there is recapitulation occurring in the book of Revelation as a whole: we are talking specifically about Rev. 20. Rev. 20 does not involve recapitulation occurring within the chapter; it presents certain events following a clear and specific chronology.

        “The binding of Satan, that you say must happen in a certain order is easily answered by Jesus’ declaration in Matthew 12 and Luke 10.”

        I said the binding of Satan must happen in a certain order WITHIN REVELATION 20. The binding of Satan occurs DURING the 1,000 yrs. Not BEFORE the 1,000 yrs, not AFTER the 1,000 yrs. Matthew 12 and Luke 10 say nothing about whether or not the binding of Satan occurs during the 1,000 yrs. of Rev. 20 so these verses are irrelevant in determining the timing of the binding of Satan **within Rev. 20**.

        Ray you have not dealt with my argument at all, which indicates that the argument does refute your view. All that you have done is to make Amill assertions. Merely making Amill assertions in response to my argument does not deal with the argument at all.

        Robert

        Ray

        In my haste to respond I got the first and second deaths backwards; first is spiritual second is physical. That said, all you are doing is asserting your Premil assertions as fact. There is mentioned a first resurrection and a second death. this strongly implies if not demands (according to simple logic) a second resurrection and a first death. So what we have are four events; a first death which is a reference to physical bodily death. This is the death to which the martyrs were subjected and who are presently reigning with Christ (Rev. 6). Then we have the second death that is non-physical death and consists of eternal punishment. Then, the second resurrection which is implied by the existence of the first. Revelation 20, like the rest of scripture, must be interpreted in light of all scripture. So I do not isolate Rev. 20 and deal with it without bringing to bear all of scripture.

        Now, I have told you how I understand Revelation 20 and I did not expect that you would be convinced or change your mind but you in no way refute my view except for in your own mind and opinion. All that you have done is present the Premil view and the rationale for why you are Premil; nothing more, nothing less.

Robert

Part 2=

John says the two resurrections in Rev. 20 are separated by a “1,000 yr.” period (let’s call it the millennium). While it is true that the book of Revelation involves many symbols, the structure of the text, the order of events, ****the chronology of events is not symbolic****. Even the millennium may be a symbol of some period of time rather than a literal 1,000 yr. period.

What is not symbolic is that John says certain things happen BEFORE the millennium, DURING the millennium and AFTER the millennium.

The binding of the dragon in Rev. 20 occurs BEFORE the millennium begins, the releasing of the dragon occurs AFTER the millennium. These events are not symbolic and involve a definite chronological order (though the dragon is a symbol of Satan).

The first resurrection referred to in Rev. 20, described in v. 4 occurs BEFORE the millennium begins and it says of these saints that “they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years”. Unless one ignores the structure of the text or plays games, this is meant to convey that these saints reign with Christ not for 5 yr. 50, yrs. 500 yrs, 999 yrs, but for the **entire duration** of the millennium (they reign for 1,000 yrs). The text also presents that the binding of the dragon is to occur for the entire duration of the millennium (“and bound him for a thousand years”, v.2, “when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released”, v.7). According to the text both the reigning of the saints and the binding of the dragon occur during the same period of time, the millennium. Both the reigning of the saints and the binding occur not for part of the millennium period but for the entire millennial period. This is true whether one takes the dragon to be literal or symbolic; whether one takes the saints to be literal or symbolic. These are facts that come directly from the structure of the passage that John presents.

And it is precisely this structure that shows all Amill views to be false. All Amill views claim that the passage talks about two different kinds of resurrections (one non-bodily and referring to regeneration or the moment the believer’s soul goes to be with the Lord, and one physical referring to the bodily resurrection of believers). The problem is that both the Amill view that the first resurrection is regeneration and the second Amill view of believers going to be with the Lord, if true would have these resurrections **occurring throughout the millennium**.

Think about this for a moment. Assume we are in the millennial period now as Amills contend, that would mean that believers have been experiencing regeneration or going to be with the Lord THROUGHOUT THE MILLENNIUM.

Some saints were regenerated in the first century, some in the second century, some in the twentieth century, some in the present twenty first century (because people have come to the Lord throughout these centuries). Or take the going to be with the Lord view, again, believers died in the first century and went to be with the Lord), in the second century, in the twentieth century and in the twenty first century (because believers have died and gone into the presence of the Lord throughout these centuries). If Amill is true then the first resurrection has been on-going, occurring repeatedly and occurring for centuries. But that is completely contradicted by the structure of the text which presents the first resurrection as occurring as one event BEFORE the millennium begins not a series of events that occur throught the millennium.

You cannot argue that the dragon was bound for the entire 1,000 yrs. and simultaneously argue that in contrast the first resurrection has occurred repeatedly throughout the 1,000 yr. period. If one takes the structure of the passage seriously, then the first resurrection occurred before the millennium it does not occur during the millennium. Likewise the second resurrection referred to in Rev. 20 occurs after the millennium not throughout the millennium. So the Amill can argue that some things depicted in Rev. 20 are symbolic and not meant to be literal, and we can grant that.
Nevertheless, the structure of the passage, a millennium with a first resurrection occurring before it and a second resurrection occurring after it, ********completely contradicts******* the Amill view on the first resurrection being either regeneration or going to be with the Lord upon death (entrance into the intermediate state).

Because if the Amills are right about the first resurrection then the necessary implication is that the first resurrection occurs repeatedly and throughout the millennium (which the structure of the text says the first resurrection occurs before the millennium, does not occur repeatedly and does not occur during the millennium. Thus if one takes the structure of the text of Rev. 20 seriously then one must reject the Amill view. Only some form of the Premill view is compatible with the structure of the text, the chronology explicitly given by the text: with one resurrection occurring before the millennium and one occurring after the millennium. This also argues strongly for the two resurrections being physical resurrections as Premills maintain.

Robert

    Debbie Kaufman

    Robert: What did you just say??? You are making it much more complex in reading than it actually is. This is the biggest problem I have with the futuristic view. I believe Christ is returning again, that is the only thing your view and mine have in common and I am not Amil.

      Robert

      Debbie,

      Apparently Debbie you did not understand my posts judging by your words:

      “Robert: What did you just say??? You are making it much more complex in reading than it actually is.”

      And specifically how did I make it “much more complex”?

      I argued that the first resurrection in Rev. 20 occurs before the period designated “the 1,000 yrs.”, that the binding of the dragon/Satan and the reign of the saints both occur during this period of time. This is the structure of Rev. 20. This structure contradicts the Amill view of the passage (because the Amill view has the first resurrection [whether taken to be regeneration or going to be with the Lord, to be something that occurs throughout the millennial period; while the text presents the first resurrection as occurring before the millennial period of time). If this is the structure of the text then the Amill view is false.

      “I believe Christ is returning again, that is the only thing your view and mine have in common and I am not Amill.”

      OK, you are not Amill, so briefly share **your interpretation of Rev. 20** in particular what is the chronology of the events, what is the first resurrection, does the first resurrection occur before the 1,000 yrs. or during the 1,000 yrs.??

      You say my view is complex so let’s hear your view and see how it is less complex.

      Robert

    Les Prouty

    Ray,

    Robert says: “These events are not symbolic and involve a definite chronological order (though the dragon is a symbol of Satan)”

    But he offers no proof of what is to be taken literally or symbolically. Merely states it. Who gets to decide in the same passage which are literal?

      Robert

      Les writes:

      {{“Robert says: “These events are not symbolic and involve a definite chronological order (though the dragon is a symbol of Satan)”
      But he offers no proof of what is to be taken literally or symbolically. Merely states it. Who gets to decide in the same passage which are literal?”]]

      I said that you could take the dragon as a symbol and even take the “1,000 yr.” number as a symbol. I will grant that.

      What you cannot take as symbolical is **the chronological order of the events** presented by John in Rev. 20. These events are not symbolic but chronological and include:

      * The first resurrection occurs before the 1,000 yr. period.
      *The saints reign during the 1,000 yr period.
      *The dragon is bound during the 1,000 yr. period.
      *The dragon is released after the 1,000 yr. period.
      *The second resurrection occurs after the 1,000 yr. period.

      These are incontrovertible chronological facts, not meant to be taken as symbolic
      .
      If you do not arrive at this chronology then the text loses all of its meaning. With regards to the chronology of events presented in Rev. 20 we do not ask which of these events are symbolic and which are literal as Les claims, rather, we ask which of these events occur in what chronological order.

      Les is trying to side track the discussion and his comments lead only to confusion not comprehension and understanding of the text.

      Robert

        Les Prouty

        Robert writes:

        “What you cannot take as symbolical is **the chronological order of the events** presented by John in Rev. 20.” Robert here is assuming his interpretation and stating it as fact to come to his conclusions on the resurrections. Perhaps even Revelation 20:1-6 is speaking of one resurrection.

        Robert: “Les is trying to side track the discussion…” Also see my comments above when I replied about scholars being accused of not taking the bible seriously. In addition, Robert may think my comments do in fact sidetrack the discussion, but to say that I am “trying” to sidetrack the discussion is an attempt to read my heart intentions, which I am confident Robert does not know.

        Last, I I’m not an amillennialist anyway, though I am closer to my them than to my primil brothers. I’m actually a partial preterist postmil.

Ray

I will reply in length tomorrow, got stuff to do tonight. However, let me say this. When you say to someone “If you are not afraid to have your view refuted,” that pretty much fits the definition of cockiness. I have never heard Craig Blaising in a debate ask his opponents if they are afraid of having their view refuted.

    Les Prouty

    You nailed it Ray. Where is grace in communication?

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