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George Eldon Ladd’s Response to Postmillennialism

One of the early “four views” books was edited by Robert G. Clouse and titled The Meaning of the Millennium.

George Eldon Ladd represented the historic premil position, Herman A. Hoyt dispensational premillennialism, Loraine Boettner postmillennialism, and Anthony A. Hoekema amillennialism. Each contributor responds to the presentations made by each of the others, and typically the responses are 3-4 pages. The exception is Ladd’s reply to Boettner’s argument for postmillennialism, which is a mere two paragraphs and 147 words. The first sentence is telling, but I here reproduce the whole of Ladd’s response:

‘There is so little appeal to Scripture that I have little to criticize. The argument that the world is getting better is a two-edged sword. One can equally well argue from empirical observation that the world is getting worse. In New Testament times, civilization enjoyed the great Pax Romana—two centuries when the Mediterranean world was at peace. This has never been repeated. Our lifetime has seen two worldwide wars and an unending series of lesser wars—in Korea, Vietnam, the Near East, Ireland, Lebanon. We have witnessed the rise of Nazism with its slaughter of six million Jews, the rise and fall of fascism, the rise and stabilization of Communist governments. The world today is literally an armed camp.

Boettner makes the mistake of defining premillennialism in terms of dispensationalism. As my chapter shows, I do not pursue the literalistic hermeneutic attributed to ‘premillennialists’ by Boettner.’

That’s all Ladd has to say about it!

I submit that any advance postmillennialism may be making today is attributable entirely to the florid prose of Douglas Wilson. There is no biblical warrant for it.

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The Leaves Declare the Glory of God

Thanks to Tim Challies for the link to this video, which explains how God programmed the leaves to change color:

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Mr. Leithart Comes to Louisville

Peter Leithart is one of the most stimulating and well-rounded scholars of the present generation. He and his wife have 10 children, and he pastors Trinity Reformed Church and teaches at New Saint Andrews College.

He has written more books than I’ve had time to read, but I’ve enjoyed his introduction to the Old Testament, his commentary on 1–2 Samuel, his book on hermeneutics, and his biography of Dostoevsky.

The wide-ranging oeuvre broadens apace: he has defended Constantine, written on Athanasius, Jane Austen, Dante, Shakespeare, and more.

How many details he must have forgotten!

I am really excited that he’s coming to Louisville. He’ll be at Community Presbyterian Church doing a conference with Jeff Meyers November 1, 2, and 3 of 2013.

Leithart will be doing an introduction to postmodernism, and Meyers will teach on Ecclesiastes. The conference is entitled, Solomon Among the Postmoderns, drawn from yet another Leithart book title.

You can register here.

I hope to see you there!

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Gray Havens U-Stream Concert

Thursday, September 5, 2013, at 8pm Eastern The Gray Havens will be doing a U-Stream Concert. Click this link to access it.

There’s also a Facebook Event Page.

You can check out their KickStarter project here.

Highly recommended!

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The Fiftieth Anniversary of The “I Have a Dream” Speech

Here are items #7 and #8 from Joe Carter’s 9 Things You Should Know About the March on Washington, which happened 50 years ago today:

7. King was the last speaker because no one else wanted that slot (everyone assumed the news media would leave by mid-afternoon). King agreed to take it and planned to speak for 4 minutes (he ended up speaking for 16 minutes).

8. King improvised the most recognizable, memorable part of the speech that he is most famous for, according to his speechwriter and attorney Clarence B. Jones. Although King had spoken about a dream before two months earlier in Detroit, the “dream” was not in the text prepared by Jones. King initially followed the text Jones had written but gospel singer Mahalia Jackson yelled, “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin!” King nodded to her, placed the text of his speech aside, and veered off-script, delivering extemporaneously what is one of the most famous orations in American history.

And here’s the speech:

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Why I’m Not a Dispensationalist and Why Darrell Bock Is

Lindsay Kennedy interviewed three folks on questions related to dispensationalism and the millennium. The Dispensationalist is Paul Henebury (part 1 and part 2). Darrell Bock represents Progressive Dispensationalism, and I answered questions from the perspective of Historic Pre-Millennialism.

We all answered similar questions. Here are the ones I answered:

  1. When and how did you first become interested in eschatology?
  2. You studied at Dallas, which has a strong history of dispensationalism. How influential was Dallas on your theology? Did you ever hold to dispensationalism?
  3. In brief, why you are not a dispensationalist today?
  4. What would you see as some distinctive aspect(s) of your view (Historic Premillennialism)?
  5. What do you believe about the rapture and its timing in relation to the second coming of Christ?
  6. What (if any) future role does the nation of Israel have to play in God’s plan?
  7. What is the purpose of the future Millennium?
  8. Other than the Bible, were there any influential authors/books in developing your current eschatological views?
  9. Do you have any publications that best represent your position more fully than this interview allows?
  10. How important should eschatology be to the Christian?
  11. What encouragement would you give to someone who sees eschatology as unimportant?

Replies here.

I found it interesting that just as Lindsay asked me why I’m not a dispensationalist, he asked Bock to differentiate his view from the others and to explain why he stuck with dispensationalism. Here’s the exchange:

What are the differences between your view, Progressive dispensationalism (PD), and traditional dispensationalism? Why do these differences matter?

These are catalogued in the book Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism. The key one is the continuity PD (Progressive Dispensationalism) sees in the Covenants and that all three are inaugurated in Jesus’ first coming. For example, Jesus’ seating and activity at God’s right hand is seen as the execution of messianic activity that is tied to the New Covenant (as his seating is a part of the Davidic covenant).

This also has meant the Gospels and prophets become more important for contemporary ethics than they were in some older forms of dispensationalism (I say older forms because there is not just one brand of traditional dispensationalism but several). So that is why the difference matters.

If you see problems with traditional dispensationalism, why seek to adapt it rather than simply adopting Historic Premillennialism as others have done?

Because there is a distinction between Israel and the church in God’s program that Historic Premillennialism equivocates about. PD is also clearer on a future for national Israel.

I don’t think of myself as equivocating in the way I understand the relationship between the church and Israel, but I think I can see how it might look like it from Bock’s perspective. Anyway, here are a couple related questions Lindsay asked me:

In brief, why you are not a dispensationalist today?

Because as I read G. E. Ladd’s New Testament Theology, it made sense to me when he said that Jesus chose twelve Apostles to reconstitute a new Israel around himself. That undermined the hard and fast distinction between Israel and the Church that dispensationalism maintains. Further overturning this distinction is the pervasive way in which the New Testament authors present what Jesus has done and is doing in the church as the typological fulfillment of the Old Testament, which means that the church is a typological fulfillment of Israel (this does not nullify a future for ethnic Israel). I think Dispensationalism puts blinders on people and keeps them from seeing the typological interpretations of earlier Scripture pursued by the biblical authors in the Old and New Testaments.

Then I studied Revelation as I preached through it, and I didn’t see a pre-trib rapture. Then I studied Daniel as I preached through it, and I didn’t see a pre-trib rapture. Then I studied through and preached Revelation again as I wrote Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches, and I became convinced that dispensationalists are not interpreting Daniel’s seventieth week the way that John does in Revelation. The emphasis on literal fulfillment fails to account for the typological and symbolic ways later biblical authors interpret earlier Scripture.

People (not just dispensationalists) make rules about how to interpret the Bible, but the biblical authors don’t follow those rules. So I don’t hold to or teach those rules. I want to understand and embrace the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors. That’s what I’m seeking as I pursue the task of biblical theology. I’m not claiming that I’ve exhaustively mapped this new world, but what a privilege to explore it and try to help others find their way in it!

What (if any) future role does the nation of Israel have to play in God’s plan?

I think Romans 11:25–27 indicates that on the day that Christ returns there will be a mass conversion of ethnic Jews.

That reference to mapping and exploring a new world comes out of my view of biblical theology as a bridge, or a rocket, into another kind of world, the world as conceived by the biblical authors. On which, see further What Is Biblical Theology?

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Derek Webb’s Failed Confession

Collin Garbarino posted a new video from Derek Webb, in which Derek “confesses”: “I was wrong, I’m sorry, and I love you.”

My problem with this song is that Derek doesn’t specify what it is he thinks he was wrong about. There are some things I think he has been wrong about, but those may or may not be the things he’s apologizing for. Does he think he was right where I thought he was wrong, and wrong where I thought he was right? He doesn’t clarify, so the song isn’t very satisfying. What tried to be sincere and authentic devolved into bland platitudes and cliches. I know that’s not what Derek wanted.

It does have a catchy tune, though. Like much of his stuff. Classic Derek–wailing voice that really communicates emotional depth, changes in tempo and volume, good stuff.

I wish Derek would recognize that he’s not an inspired prophet, that for every stupid thing some church or some Christian says or does there are a lot of examples of biblical ecclesiology and truly Christ-like Christians, and that he should give himself to writing God-honoring, Bible-saturated, thought-provoking songs.

And for my money he can leave the swear words out.

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Spoiled By Amazon

Between homeschooling and teaching and preaching, a lot of packages with books in them arrive at our doorstep. We are spoiled by Amazon, and we love the free shipping available via Amazon Prime.

I’m also very thankful for the Amazon Associates program, which makes it so that Amazon gives referral credit when you, dear reader, click links from this blog or from my tweets and make purchases. Thanks for supporting this blog in that way. If you’re blogging and you’re not on the Amazon Associates program, you should sign up. If you’re buying books regularly, or otherwise using Amazon, and you’re not on Amazon Prime, I’d encourage you to check out the Amazon Prime 30 Day Free Trial.

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