Monday, June 30, 2014

Evangelicals and Eschatology Poll

So I was reading a book about Amillennialism and it mentioned a poll online that surveyed Evangelical leaders in the US about their eschatological expectations. I wanted to find it, and so I did. What's interesting about it obviously is the statistic. But I'll show you why it's odd.

     65% of leaders are Premillennial
     13% are Amillennial (WOOOO 13%!!! I'm amillennial, by the way).
  +   4% are Postmillenial.
      82%.... that is not 100%. Uh, what?

So apparently 18ish% of American Evangelical Leaders either don't have a position on the millennium or have an over realized eschatology (i.e., they're hyper-preterists, and so are heretical and should be considered false teachers). But what about those without a position? These jokers are supposed to have gone to seminary, learned the languages, acquired a theological education, and studied this to make a decision. And these are leaders, which Paul says are held to a higher standard. Why don't they know what they believe?


They could believe something other than post-, pre-, or a-millennialism. But, how does one then account for the millennium and Christ's return? Either Christ will return before the millennium, after the millennium, or the millennium is figurative/spiritual. It must be one of them.

Anyway, just thought it was weird that 18% don't have a position or hold another position. Super weird. Nevertheless, I hope you thought it was interesting too.

PS, here's the link to the article:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Cool Picture of Barth and Brunner Being Buds

Yeah, lots of alliteration in the title. I like alliteration.
Anyway, here's a cool picture of Barth and Brunner that I had not seen before.

Interesting Word Choice in John 12

Everyone knows that Judas sucked. He stole money. He was self-righteous. He betrayed the creator and sustainer of the universe. What's interesting is how he may have been portrayed in John 12:3-6 when he complained about Mary anointed Jesus' feet with expensive perfume and wiped them with her hair. The ESV says,

Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.
The Greek word here translated "sold" is ἐπράθη (eprathe), which comes from πράω (prao), which means "to sell" or even "to sell as a slave." I haven't done a word study and looked at all of the examples in the NT, but seeing as how it just mentioned Judas betraying Jesus and how Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (the price of a slave!), could John be emphasizing anything here about Judas? Perhaps it's not theologically groundbreaking, but an interesting observation nonetheless.

Book Reviews Summer 2014

As usual, here is a recommendation of some of my favorite/most recommended books that I have read recently. Here are the top few picks. Read. Learn. Enjoy.

Considering how much fire goes into the discussion between the two big hermeneutical systems, covenant theology and dispensationalism, I was surprised and edified by the irenic spirit that bleeds through the pages of Ryrie's (now revised and expanded) classic work, Dispensationalism. Ryrie does the best job anyone could ask for concerning a definition and a brief defense of this system. I praise him for that. Whether you are a covenantalist (CT), new covenantalist (NCT), or progressive covenantalist who desires a greater understanding of dispensationalism for discussion with those with whom you disagree, or you are a dispensationalist who wants to grasp a fuller understanding of those tenants you or your church subscribe to, or even a believer who has not committed him/herself to any hermeneutical system and is exploring the different options through an evaluation of their beliefs, then this is your book and I recommend you go no further before reading this.
Chapters 1-8 are, by and large, a definition and defense of dispensationalism. Though there are certainly some factual errors here and there, I'll pass them by as they are not immediately relevant to his argument or this review. The definition in chapters 3 and 5 bring to bear those essentials of a dispensationalist hermeneutic, and the explication of the ramifications of such a hermeneutic are discussed in chapters 6, 7, and 8, i.e., soteriology in regards to the various dispensations, the Church/Israel distinction, and pre-millennial pre-tribulational eschatology. Until this point, Ryrie keeps his head and his hand calm, and it shows. His spirit of humility and his clarity are certainly appreciated by this reviewer. However...
Chapter 4 on the history of dispensationalism leaves something to be desired. He often (and perhaps rightly) cites covenant theologians for making a mountain out of a molehill, but doesn't seem to get that himself. He tells his readers when defining the dispensations in chapters 1, 2, and 3 that dispensation merely means administration and that one can believe in different administrations/dispensations and still reject dispensationalism (e.g., Berkhof, Hodge, etc.), yet when he encounters church fathers who so much as mention the word dispensation or that God administers the covenant in different ways, automatically they become a precursor to dispensationalism? I guess that means that the Westminster Confession of Faith is one too... wait, no it's not; it's one of the bases for covenant theology. But that's not where my beef with the book lies.
When I arrived at chapter ten I wanted to rip my head off. I think that it's a fair assumption that, based on his irenic tone and his sincerity throughout the rest of the text, he wildly misunderstands what covenant theology is and teaches, its true history, and their true hermeneutic. Covenant theology has never been and never will be reading the New Testament into the Old. It is recognizing that progressive revelation means that revelation is progressive: we don't have all the details in the OT, and the NT tells us how to understand and interpret those details we do have. Moreover, Covenant Theology did not originate with any "secondary reformers." One can easily find traces in Zwingli's writings, Calvin explicitly mentions the covenant of grace and alludes to the covenant of works in the institutes, and many of the reformers he listed (also not "secondary" reformers, unless the criteria for being "secondary" is not being Calvin or Luther) did have a more fully formed theology of covenant than he is willing to admit. Nevertheless, this chapter only had me subtract one star from my rating.
In regards to dispensationalism per se, this book is fantastic. I wouldn't run to it for a defense, but for a definition it is exceptional. I highly recommend it.

Jean-Paul Sartre is perhaps the most well known existentialist philosopher. His Essays in Existentialism is a fantastic introduction to the philosophical system that has so influenced not only philosophical circles but many theological circles (e.g., Bultmann, Tillich, etc.). This is a fantastic primer because it includes essays covering all the different (major) aspects of the existentialist system. My last review was really long so I'm cutting this one short. Get it and read it. It's a little pricy but a very high quality book, which I'm sure will last for many years.

Evangelicals are afraid of people like Bultmann. But, then again, they're also afraid of Barth. And I'm a pretty big fan of Barth. So, let's ignore evangelicals for a moment; they're usually pretty dumb. Bultmann didn't write many regular books. Instead he wrote a ton of essays and articles, etc. etc. But, lucky for us, he compiled this collection of essays in which he gives a practical overview of his process of demythologizing the Bible. What Bultmann advocates is not so much that the Bible itself is full of myths: Jesus was and his that-ness is what is important. That is to say, the importance of the New Testament is that Jesus really was and came (the that-ness of Jesus), not so much what he did (the what-ness of Jesus). Of course, I have some problems with his approach, but he has some serious things to offer Biblical studies (especially hermeneutics) today. What I found particularly profound was his desire not to abandon the Scriptures, but to abandon the worldview in which the Scriptures were written. Their worldview, says Bultmann, was full of myth and superstition which now permeates the Biblical texts. What we must now do is sift through the texts, demythologizing and deconstructing the texts in order that we may find relevance in our twentieth (and now twenty-first) century lives. Problematic. Profound. Super interesting. The book is a bit expensive, but Jesus Christ and Mythology is worth all $14 on amazon.

Hoekema's classic work, The Bible and the Future, has been the go-to book on eschatology (particularly Reformed eschatology) for years. His book is less eventful (and especially less polemical) than both Riddlebarger's and Storms' books, but significantly more in depth. By this I mean that it is both more technical and its scope is much larger- it is basically a theology of eschatology. Coupled with his other books Saved by Grace and Created in God's Image, it makes up the final part of his systematic theology. This book is fantastic, even if not highly eventful. Well written, extremely informative, highly recommended.

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