Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Does A CASE FOR HISTORIC PREMILLENNIALISM make the case?

Everybody has their favorite doctrines, and, by implication, everyone has their not-so-favorite doctrines.  For me, eschatology--the doctrine of last things, or the end times--falls into both categories.

My soul and leans hard in hope on the general, clear truths of eschatology: Jesus is coming back to finish off evil and establish his kingdom.  And "the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever" (Daniel 7:18 NIV).  In that sense, eschatology is a doctrine I revel in and bank on and love to witness to in my teaching.  I look forward to the return of Christ, my establishment in righteousness and glory, finally dwelling in the new heavens and new earth.

But when it comes to the details of eschatology and the battle lines drawn between the various millennial positions and, within premillennialism, between the various tribulation positions, my eyes develop a glassy condition that is hard to shake.

As a result, my eschatology is fuzzy in the details.  In an effort to bring more clarity, I've been reading some books on eschatology.  One of the them is A Case for Historic Premillennialism, a compilation of addresses delivered by primarily Denver Seminary profs. and edited by two of them, Craig L. Blomberg and Sung Wook Chung.

First question: What is "historic premillennialism"?  It is the post-trib, premillennial view.  I.e., Jesus will come back after the tribulation (not before, as popularized by the Left Behind series), and will reign for a thousand years on this earth before the final consummation of all things.

Big question: Does A Case make the case?  Let me ask you this: in the presidential debates you watch, which candidates, in your opinion, normally win--your party's candidates, or the other party's?  I suspect that for you, as for me, and for most, your guy would have to be as stoned as Ozzy Osbourne always appears to be before you would admit he lost the debate.

Since I classify myself as a post-trib premillennialist--I've now admitted what my dear father has suspected for a long time--I think A Case makes the case, but I don't think it will convince Tim LaHaye fans.

To see the chapter headings, click here, and then click on "Table of Contents." 

The chapter most disappointing for me was Blomberg's (ch. 4), where I expected a stellar defense of the post-trib position.  I didn't get that.  But I plan to re-read it.  Fascinating was Richard Hess's chapter (ch. 2), where he detailed the OT pattern in the prophets, where 1) God's people would be judged and condemned, 2) the nations would be judged and trounced, 3) God would save and bless his people.  He suggests that pattern holds true throughout the whole of the Bible and history.

Clarifying is Don Payne's chapter (ch. 5) on theological method, where he demonstrates, for instance, that post-tribbers assign theological weight to the NT as the interpretive lens for the OT, and pre-tribbers do just the opposite.

Donald Fairbairn's chapter (ch. 6), my favorite one, was more for me what I thought Blomberg's was going to be.  His interaction with the Early Church fathers was fascinating and provided a helpful defense of the post-trib position. 

My least favorite chapter was the last one (ch. 8), which I didn't even finish.  I'm sure Oscar Campos is a brilliant man, but when you routinely encounter sentences like--

"Since this essay has focused on the nonholistic missiology of dispensational evangelicalism due to its futuristic view of the eschatological kingdom of God, it is only fair to at least mention some of the work of progressive dispensationalism in the last twenty years and its different stance on the issues of the kingdom of God and, consequently, holistic missiology" --

it takes all the fun out of reading.

Interested in the topic?  Get the book and read chs. 2, 5, and 6.  Probably 4, too.  I suspect a second reading of that chapter will yield more fruit.  Feel free to skip chs. 3, 7, and 8.

My rating (out of 5): 3

2 comments:

j.scantlin said...

Now that's a post! I've pulled up a chair and grabbed the popcorn and am now sitting here eagerly hitting the refresh button in the comments window. Let the games begin!

Anonymous said...

Praise The Lord!

I’m stunned, Jeff! You haven’t invited me to share popcorn!
I might say I prefer to make comments about “postness” in the “Rapture” debate (Lindsey calls it “The Great Snatch,”) which the Greek “caught up” indicates. Conversely, this, it seems to me, is what some “post-trib” proponents do. Some often seem to assume that when people read their Bible, “post-trib” is what they’ll naturally, automatically see. And any “pre-trib” eyes are from a forced exegetical. Humm... (I know this isn’t always true.) And some claim “pre-trib” eyes were never there from the word “go” so to speak in Church Eschatology. And because pre-tribulation views were not developed until later in Christian theological growth, as they say, it really wasn’t in the Scriptures. Humm...
What’s interesting to me is the question “on which side was the early church? Humm. Did they have a “side?” Humm.... Without having read this book by Craig L. Blomberg, Kent, I’m not entirely clued in on his line of thought. (I’m certain it’s very good). As other post-tribulation people present impressive formats in the debate. But I’m certain people read end-times “Eschatology” (of which they are unaware that’s what it is) with one of either views ( “pre” and “post”) having such eyes just as they do with such doctrines in other debates – Calvinism, for example, or sprinkling or emersion, or using Communion wine or grape juice, infinite baptism or dedication, old earth or young earth or on and on in issues that are not going to be finally settled in the camp on this side of the truth “THEN” we shall know as we are known (1 Corinthians 13:12, K.J.V.). We all believe in progressive revelation, because Jesus did say: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” So why should “pre-trib” be tossed since it wasn’t there in the hearts and minds of Church of Christ at ground zero? I know thousands were converted on the first day of Pentecost preaching and Holy Spirit (I use Him in this discussion reverently) infilling. And later many gentiles were converted knowing NOTHING of Old Testament indications of “pre,” “post,” “eternal security,” circumcision, “water baptism,” or any such at all. They just knew, after repentance and faith, that they loved Jesus. And while I maintain my “pre-isms” because I see in the Bible what I believe to be weighty passages that speak against “post-tribulation, rapture dogma,” I’m certain there will be people in heaven from EVERY TRIBE, EVERY RACE, KINDRED, TONGUE, AND UNNECESSARY CONVICTION OF MARGINAL DOCTRINE (apart from the major dogma such as the Crucifixion, Death, Burial, Resurrection and Deity of Jesus Christ).
I know it’s fun to debate these things. But I also know I could be wrong. And I know “posts” are wrong. (Ha! Ha! Ho! Ho! Hee! Hee! Hee!) Full-well, you know, I don’t absolutely know that. :-) But I do love everybody who truly loves Jesus (1 John 5:2), be they right or wrong in some of these long-since (including post) so-called “MAJOR DOCTRINES.” –Dad.