Paying of Debts…

May 29, 2007

“Paying of debts, is next to the grace of God, the best means in the world to deliver you from a thousand temptations to sin and vanity.”

— Patrick Delany (1685/6-1768)

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A Review of “Rapture Fiction and the Evangelical Crisis” by Crawford Gribben – Chapter 6 – “The Bible and the Future of Humanity”

May 28, 2007

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Continuing on with Gribben’s book, Rapture Fiction and the Evangelical Crisis, we begin a new chapter focusing on what essentially the Scripture teaches about the second coming of Christ. Gribben starts off on a very positive note by writing, “Whatever the problems we might see in Left Behind, or in rapture fiction more generally, the novels are right about this — Jesus Christ is coming back” (p. 98).

Gribben sees in the church today as failing to live in the light of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. He mentions postmillennialism and preterism as contributing to this problem. Our failure to think that the Second Coming is imminent has left Christians living in sin and immorality and not living with hope.

He notes a number of issues of why Christians fail to think about prophecy including fear of the end, and fear of creating dissension. Gribben is right to note that instead we should have a profound desire to study the end times and no what to expect and to live in light of that!

He also rightly notes that eschatology should prompt unbelievers to have a desire to repent and turn to Christ! Knowing what the Scriptures say regarding the truth of what will happen in the end should motivate us to share the gospel and to motivate unbelievers to embrace it. Truly, there will be a place for us in the future, but it will depend on who’s side we stand.

Overall, I have nothing to disagree with Gribben on in this chapter (what a surprise eh Crawford?). Eschatology should motivate believers to perseverance and hope and good works and to share the gospel with a lost and dying world. Our focus is not on eschatology for eschatology’s sake, but for the sake of God and the gospel. Truly we have failed in our insipid evangelicalism. And this is what the Left Behind series reflects. The problems are not necessarily with their eschatological schema, but with their failure to understand the true nature and requirements of the gospel.

In light of our individualistic, salad bar Christianity today, whatever eschatological position we hold to we should remember that Christ is coming back, and that we should live in holiness for Him motivated to share the true gospel with the rest of the world in light of this fact.


Which Theologian are You?

May 23, 2007
You scored as John Calvin, Much of what is now called Calvinism had more to do with his followers than Calvin himself, and so you may or may not be committed to TULIP, though God’s sovereignty is all important.

John Calvin
93%
Anselm
93%
Martin Luther
93%
Karl Barth
80%
Jonathan Edwards
73%
Charles Finney
40%
Friedrich Schleiermacher
40%
Jürgen Moltmann
33%
Augustine
7%
Paul Tillich
0%

Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com


More Reading on Baptist Distinctives…

May 18, 2007

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One of my heroes in the faith, T. T. Shields (1873-1955), preached a message at Jarvis Street Baptist Church (the church he pastored from 1910-1955) on January 22, 1928 which I think still has value for us today.

It is reproduced in The Gospel Witness and can be found here. I suggest we all read it and reflect on what makes a Baptist a Baptist.


The End of Days: Essential Selections from Apocalyptic Texts-Annotated & Explained

May 1, 2007

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I came across the book almost purely by accident. Dr. Haykin and I had headed to the Anglican Book Centre in Toronto and I had found a couple of deals. On my way out, I saw this hiding on the new arrival section. I saw the name, Robert Clouse, who of course I was quite familiar as the editor of The Meaning of the Millennium and a contributor to Two Kingdoms: The Church and Culture Through the Ages. I picked it up and saw the recommendations by Edwin Yamauchi, Donald Campbell and Homer Kent. At this point I knew I had found something quite good. Dr. Haykin was right. It was serendipitous.

This book fills a huge gap in historical theological scholarship. The meaning of the millennium has of course been an incredible debate since the apostles themselves when they asked, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6)? It even goes back further as to when God would establish his eternal kingdom. What is the nature of the millennium (Rev 20)? Is it earthly? Is it spiritual? When will Christ comes back in relation to the millennium? Before? After? These questions have raged for millennia themselves.

What Clouse has done is sift through primary source material from the very early Church fathers to today and collate for us their writings on the millennium and the end times. Throughout he also offers annotated notes to the various writers and writings.

First, he deals with biblical foundations related to eschatology. He discusses issues of the rapture, the seventy weeks of Daniel, the tribulation, Armageddon, the millennium, and the final judgment. From there, he begins in the Church Fathers.

He includes material from Papias, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Commodianus, Lactantius, and Origen. He then moves into an extensive section on Augustine. He then moves into the Medieval and Reformation period with the Anabaptists, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Guy de Bray, and the English Congregational Church. From there he moves to the 17th century revival of premillennialism in Johann Alsted, Joseph Mede, John Archer, John Rogers, and Anna Trapnel. Then he proceeds to 18th century postmillennialism with Daniel Whitby and Jonathan Edwards. He goes from there to 19th century dispensationalism with John N. Darby, William E. Blackstone, and Dwight L. Moody. Then he moves to 20th century developments with C. I. Scofield, William S. McBirnie, Christabel Pankhurst, and Leonard Sale-Harrison. Finally, in the 21st century he looks at Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. He finally includes helpful reading to which students of eschatology can move on.

I have only briefed it but I find it overall very good. Clouse’s comments are excellent and judicious and do not try to bias the reader into one position over another. I have some small qualms, but they are quite small. This book is incredibly helpful. Even the introduction is worth the price of the book where Clouse simply gives us the flow of eschatological thought throughout Church History. Clouse is truly a historian who can and should be emulated.

If I were to teach a class on eschatology, this would be a required book. It is so important to have an understanding of the history of a doctrine in the life of the Church; especially on such a divisive doctrine as eschatology. This book cannot be recommended any higher! Go out and get yourself a copy today! You can find it here.