Category Archives: Postmillennialism

Defending the Future of Jesus: The pretense that Reformed Biblical Theology is uniformly Amillennial

What I like about this quote is how Horton explains the City of Man, ruled by Satan, is a rival to the City of God. Properly understood, this makes me wonder about common phrases like “redeeming the culture” or “redeeming the city” which are tossed around in reformed circles. If the City of Man is at war with the City of God and is trying to supplant it, why do we go to such pains to get cozy with the culture? Why do we look for church-planters who are good at contextualizing the Gospel instead of men who understand this tension and antithesis?

via Joshua Judges Ruth: Dr. Mike Horton on the City of God and the City of Man.

Well, if you don’t think the Reformed tradition is correct in its understanding of Scripture and the Great Commission, then you might wonder about current Reformed slogans. But the fact is that Horton is, IF he were to claim to speak for the whole of the Reformed Tradition, a revisionist. And treating his conclusions as the unquestionable standard for judging the behavior and speech of Reformed churches is to engage in such revisionism.

The Reformed tradition has been both amillennial and postmillennial. Recently, some Reformed thinkers have embraced historical premillennialism. I have no problem with Horton or anyone else picking one side rather than the one I happen to think is true. But worrying about run-of-the-mill Reformed understanding of the Great Commission is not peaceful co-existence.

And, while I respect his Reformed bona fides (and in so doing hopefully set a good example for him and others) I think Horton is wrong, as I read the Great Commission.

 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV).

When is Jesus given all authority in heaven and earth. At the end? “On the last day?” No. We are called by the King to disciple all the nations. The whole reason there is an “antithesis” between God and Man is because they are claiming the same territory at the same time. The new city begins now. Or rather, began then. Jesus is building it up not from invisible ghosts, or in the future, but in living breathing people who dwell here and now on the earth:

    As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy
(1 Peter 2:4-10 ESV).

Yes, we are in one sense exiles from the city of Man, but that city is crumbling now. And we are called to minister in a new one now. Not later. Not at the end. Horton is quoted as saying that all humanity is outside of the Garden blocked from re-entering by the Cherubim. But in Acts 1 the two Cherubim over the Ark of the Covenant are gone. Rather two men now hold that office.

Jesus has been raised. And Humanity has been raised up with him to a far better place than the Garden of Eden. Yes there is more to come, but the path there is not an invisible one that leaves the city of man intact. Rather we are to replace it with the city from above that is our Mother.

 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:22-26 ESV).

Not one giant battle at the end with every rule and every authority and power. But only one last remaining enemy gets knocked down at the last Day.

For further reading.

The Future of Jesus 10: Who will Kings acknowledge?

I thought this series was done, but I have to add another entry.

I started the series with Psalm 2, perhaps we should re-visit it. Psalm 1 and 2 together are commonly considered the “entry” into the Psalter. If so, then perhaps Psalm 2 presents us with a problem and then spells out the solution in later Psalms.

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
(Psalm 2 ESV)

The choice is stark. They must “perish in the way” if they refuse to “take refuge in him” and “kiss the Son.”

So, what do the kings decide to do? Later psalms address this question. Psalm 72 is about Solomon but also about Christ, the Son, and his Church:

May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth!
May desert tribes bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust!
May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
bring gifts!
May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him!
(Psalm 72:8-11 ESV)

And more:

All the day my enemies taunt me;
those who deride me use my name for a curse.
For I eat ashes like bread
and mingle tears with my drink,
because of your indignation and anger;
for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever;
you are remembered throughout all generations.
You will arise and have pity on Zion;
it is the time to favor her;
the appointed time has come.
For your servants hold her stones dear
and have pity on her dust.
Nations will fear the name of the LORD,
and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
(Psalm 102:8-15 ESV)

And again:

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
for great is the glory of the LORD.
(Psalm 138:4-5 ESV)

And again:

Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
(Psalm 148:7-11 ESV)

Kings are called upon to praise the Lord. We are promised that they will all give thanks to God. This cannot possibly be a promise “reserved for the next life” since, if the kings don’t learn to acknowledge and give thanks to Jesus now, they will never be in a place to do so in the next life.

No, in this world, they will give thanks. “Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth.

That’s everyone.

If this be materialism, then fire up the stake and chain me to it

I just returned from Musoma, Tanzania, a place that could stand for thousands of others such population centers in Africa, or millions if we include Asia.

I want people who are not trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior to do so, in the millions billions.

That is not all I want.

I want people to be able to turn on a spigot in their homes, instead of walking for hours a day with a heavy burden half that time. I want them to see water flow from that spigot that is perfectly safe to drink, not the poison that most of them presently consume.

I want their homes to be protected so that most insects are kept outside, or better, I want them to find a way to kill most of the insects around their homes.

I want their food to be kept off the ground when they prepare it and to have a clean place to eat it.

I want their roads to be smooth and wide to allow trade both ways.

I want them to have cheap and available transportation so they can both trade and work at the places that are most rewarding (which will be where their products and labor are needed the most, by the way).

No, more than that. I want a near generation in Musoma to have the ability to allow their young adult kids to go on a road trip to the West Coast to see the Atlantic without having any serious concerns about the safety involved.

Sooner, I’d like people to be able to travel at night without making special arrangements for a policeman with an AK-47 to accompany them.

I want them to be rich. Understand? I want them to be so wealthy that they no more remember what life is like for them now than we remember what it was like to live in cities in the late 19th and early 20th century when epidemics due to bad water and sanitation were still killing thousands.

I want their babies to live to grow up.

I want someone to see the chlorinator, that uses salt and a car battery to make water safe, and say “I can make that better and cheaper.” I want him to find a way to mass market it and sell it to millions of people in Africa and Asia. And if he gets filthy rich in the process, while he saves the lives of tens of millions, that if fine with me.

I want Westerners to actually see Africa and Asia as an amazing opportunity rather than a charity case that keeps them in death and darkness while lining the pockets of NGOs. Africa is to the Charity Industry what Mars is to NASA. A golden goose.

I want Western governments to realize that poor, corrupt nations are not in our best interests even if it allows us to make them do what we want them to. Rather, a planet full of wealthy nations will bring incredible riches to the West, rather than a planet dominated by poverty.

I want a refrigerator and a freezer in virtually every home.

And yeah, to make this more pointed: We pray for this every time we say, “Thy Kingdom Come.” God wants us to thrive, not linger in death.

The appeal of the past

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these days?” for it is not wise to ask that. Ecclesiastes 7.10

How can Solomon make such a blanket statement?

The past almost always produces in our perceptions the illusion of stability.

What if every age is an age of transition?

If every age is an age of transition, the transition of the immediate present will always seems so difficult that every age in the past will be remembered as an age of stability. For one thing, other people dealt with past transitions. We the living are dealing with our own perceived disruptions. Actual experience and stress is always more vivid than records of the trials of other people who have long departed. Also, the perceived heritage of the past is perceived as a given that we are accustomed to, while the future is indeterminate and therefore threatening.

Egypt is always remembered as easy.

Thus the trap of trying to go back to a better time.

The common delusions of remembered youth may also be a factor here. About the time you start to get really aware of how life works life has changed from what it was when you were younger. But when you were younger you were protected from much of how life worked. So you think, always, of a past that was more stable than the future.

Time is real and it only goes in one direction. God wants you to trust him for it. The next year is always supposed to be better.

Nu2U? 10 things a church can do to save the world

The principle to keep in mind is that we have to change ourselves first.

1. Participate in the Lord’s Supper Every Sunday in Worship
The Kingdom is again and again a feast. The Church is the beachhead of the Kingdom. Does Jesus ever tell a parable comparing the Kingdom to a lecture hall? Does he ever compare the Kingdom to a music concert? Then lets not stop up the Kingdom at the source. Lets get it right. Lets eat and drink.

2. Drink Wine in Church
Duh. How else would you worship a glutton and a drunkard? The Gospel is New Wine that bursts wineskins–not grape juice that sits there inert. You want to know if God can forgive a sinner like you. Get it in a cup and drink it down and you will know. That changes everything.

3. Sing the Psalms
By sing, I mean chant. Don’t remake the Psalms to fit a rhyme scheme. Sing the words that are there according to an accurate translation. What would happen if we did this? For one thing a ton of bad theology would be exorcised.

Arise, O Yahweh
O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
Why does the wicked renounce God
and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
But you do see,
for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.
Yahweh is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land.

4. Pray the Psalms
Arguably this is redundant with the point above. But I want to stress that God wants us to pray things like:

judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness
and according to the integrity that is in me.
Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts,
O righteous God!

There are people and whole churches who claim to be Bible-believing who think this is sinful to pray. You can’t change the world for God if you think He is really a Pharisee unless he has the help of your styleguide by which to edit his prayers.

5. Tell people in church that God has forgiven them.

Don’t preach that God forgives some people somewhere some time. Tell the professing Christians in front of you, and their children, when they confess their sins together, that God has wiped each one of their slates clean. The good news that is going to change the world is not that God forgives someone somewhere at some time.

(Yes, God forgives them at other times, including when they pray apart. But these things are not opposed. Rather, one helps the the other. Those who are trained to believe that God hears and forgives them will be encouraged to trust God for the same at other times and places.)

6. Believe the whole Bible and teach it like God really meant it.

Because saying, “You’re getting too much of your theology from the parables” mostly means, “Jesus was a stupid peasant who told misleading stories that we have to carefully strip down to a single point that we found in Paul’s Epistles”–or rather, “that we found in Westminster Confession” (or, “… the Councils of Trent” or whatever). I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that God isn’t blessing churches who don’t like the Bible.

7. Preach Jesus as King but Avoid Petty Politics

Jesus is Lord and he wants a visible unified entrance to the Kingdom (Church) as a witness to that fact. We have to obey what Jesus says, but we also have to recognize how divisions and arguments actually can undermine the theocratic Faith. So find some highly obvious points in the public square to harp on (i.e. abortion), but try not to get bogged down in minutia (don’t preach Christian libertarianism, socialism, or whatever from the pulpit).

8. Let the Great Commission be your commission

If you think you know what this means, go read it, and ask yourself what this says about being “born again,” “faith,” or “evangelism” compared to what it says about obedience, theocracy, baptism, and ongoing teaching/training of everyone.

9. Worship like the Bible matters

Does it not strike anyone as odd that, if you want to attend a worship service that took you systematically through Scripture, you would be better off in an Episcopal, formal Lutheran, Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox service rather than a Baptists, conservaitve Presbyterian, or “Bible Church” assembly? Is God supposed to speak to us in the Church or not? If not, how are we supposed to see anything change, let alone the world?

10. Live Corporately like Matthew 18 is in the Bible

I mention the whole chapter on purpose, by the way, because it is obviously focused on humility and forgiveness, and in that context gives directions for accountability and purifying the Church. I think that is important because, while not one church in a hundred includes Matthew 18.15-19 in their real canon, some that do can be so zealous (I’m using a euphemism) about it as to reinforce the temptation to neglect it. But it is in the Bible and it is an operating instruction from the Lord Jesus. So obey Him.

(I originally wrote and published this in Fall of 2007)

An initial brief thought on the economics of conservative Presbyterians that may or may not warrant further consideration

Andrew Sandlin’s mention of the waste of time and money on trials has got me thinking…

In terms of economic analysis, the problem is “misallocated resourcs.” Such misallocations are commonly caused by disruptions in pricing.

As I have argued before (“Machen’s Warrior Children Were Subsidized”), one problem is that the price of making false accusations in court is kept artificially low. At least when the pamphlet technology was used during the Reformation to overturn the powers that be, the writers and purveyors of the pamphlets were taking real risks. While the blogosphere is the more efficient development of the pamphlets, it is not accompanied by real accountability. As I wrote awhile back:

So by filing a complaint, culled from incredibly biased attacks on a man, one could get a free pass to only care about tearing down a man’s reputation and having virtually no responsibility for considering contrary evidence. What organization will survive a period of time in which accusers are given this kind of institutional cover? Jesus claimed that even Satan knew better than to allow this sort of internal conflict. A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.

But in addition to making attacking the brethren artificially inexpensive, we also ought to ask if somehow other avenues of Christian ministry are being made too expensive or if they seem too expensive.

We could go in several directions here. Sandlin mentioned “people who waste time on trivialities while Western civilization burns.” But perhaps that explains the economic motivations. If putting out the fire engulfing Western civilization looks impossible, frustrating, and dangerous, this itself could encourage an inward turn.

Is there stuff “out there” that seems to demand too high a price? If so, is there anything we can do about reassessing the values and potential rewards?

I can’t help but wonder if there might be an amillennial v. Postmillennial issue here, since Postmillennials believe that the fire will indeed be quenched by the Spirit and the Gospel.

But what else is there that diverts time and resources away from other tasks and into the manufacture of accusations?

A switch flipped over in my head

I notice when I was blogging in 2000, my posts, for all their flaws, were much more personal. I’m afraid controversy has changed my stance. Also, the results of controversy: I was a lot more confident about my personal future and my ability to provide for my own back in 2000. (Some of this confidence was somewhat sinfully naive, I think. But much of what happened was truly unforeseeable.) Optimism produces a different tone.

Anyway, this is kind of a throwback autobiographical emotive thingy.

I’ve always been a six-day creationist, “young” earther–at least since college anyway. I’m convinced 1. the Bible teaches these things and 2. that the Bible is true. Until one of those premisses changes, I remain a young earther.

But I have hated having to argue about it in the unbelieving world. It seems so much easier to start with Jesus and the first century and argue for his resurrection and then from there to the reliability of Scripture (I’m not renouncing presuppositionalism, here, by the way).  So intellectually faithful but emotionally weary or wary, I was. I believed and would assert what the Bible says about chronology, but I wanted to talk about other things.

But something has happened. I don’t know how to explain it other than the analogy of a switch flipping in my head.

Suddenly I think the fact that history has barely begun is an exciting truth that deserves to be trumpeted. The whole world seems tired and depressed right now. Even the people trumpeting Keynsean myths about how the future can be opened up don’t seem to believe what they are saying. (It seems far easier to believe that people hate those who disagree with global warming or evolution or quantitative easing or environmentalism than that they are firmly convinced of the ideas they defend. Am I the only one who detects this?) We’re running out and running down. Austerity is ahead.

But like John Paul Jones, Jesus has not yet begun to fight. History has barely begun. Remembering that the earth has just started, and that Jesus came quite near to the beginning of history rather than waiting a million years, just seems like good new worth sharing.

I think a couple of things have converged to make me more excited about this message. For one, the financial crisis is also a Science ™ crisis. Science has been a welfare case especially since WW2 and it has all the resulting features of a bubble and corruption. (More on that in a later post, perhaps). On a personal level, I’ve had to direct my one homeschooled child to do some science reading, which means I’ve been doing some myself.  So this has all become the focus of my attention as has not been true for some time.

Anyway, I think people need to know that the human story has just begun. It is not ending. Whatever judgments we need to go through (and yes we need to repent to avoid eternal wrath) austerity is not the future of the human race. Unimagined prosperity lies ahead for our children–our many many unrestricted, unaborted children with unrationed wealth. Jesus is gracious and he is just starting.


God judges sooner than the Last Day, so statism is wrong

I love this post by Doug Wilson. Love!

I want to offer one minor addition to what he says to combat statism. It is true that God will judge at the Last Day, but it needs to be remembered that he also judges (and saves!) sooner than that (and I’ve learned this from Doug himself, by the way).

God promises to cut off the wicked by the third of fourth generation. We see evil and fear it will spread and destroy society. We have to trust God that he will judge the wicked and cause the righteous to flourish and grow in society.

Sinful actions are not just wrong, but they bring their own destruction. You have to appreciate God’s patience but trust that he will intervene before the sin becomes overwhelming.

I happen to be spending a lot of time in Proverbs. So this happened to be on my mind.

The Future of Jesus 9, Who inherits the Land/Earth?

All of Psalm 37 is amazing, but I’ll narrow my focus on a few verses toward the latter half:

I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.

Turn away from evil and do good;
so shall you dwell forever.
For the Lord loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall inherit the land
and dwell upon it forever.

This is not some past dispensation. Jesus appealed to this text in the sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

And, just to be clear, Jesus is not changing “righteous” to “meek.” That was already the OT meaning. In fact, that is the meaning established earlier in Psalm 37:

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

So two questions:

1. How is it Christian to claim that the meek won’t inherit the earth?


2. How is it right or just to portray confidence in Jesus’ promise that the meek will inherit the earth as a form of “triumphalism”?

One tactic has been to claim that the “earth” the meek will inherit is not this earth but a future replacement planet. That rips the word out of Matthew’s context. Matthew show Jesus preaching that the meek will inherit the earth, meekly submitting to death, and then inheriting this earth in the climax of Matthew’s Gospel:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

It is this earth that the meek get, parceled out by the earth’s new king.

The Future of Jesus

Channeling my inner Tim LaHaye: Timing the next age

When Jesus rose from the grave, it took time for the implications to be recognized. The growth of the Church made people nervous. The destruction of Jerusalem was recognized too late by some. Another couple of centuries passed before it really became understood, as a public fact, that a new world had come.

It just occurred to me last Sunday that we are nineteen years away from Easter 2000 (at least that is my current understanding of when Jesus was crucified and raised). That has got to mean something, though it may be too subtle for everyone to recognize at once. God is shrewd like that.

But it does give me some comfort as I watch our present order fall apart.