Okay, that’s enough of that . . . I’m never any good at taking blog breaks, I should know better than to put a time frame on announced breaks — or better, I should know not to even announce breaks, by now 🙂 . Anyway, I am back, you can expect posting to once again ensue; starting with this one here.
I am going to take a break from blogging, for at least the next few weeks to a month. I just need time off from the computer, in general, and the blog, in particular. During this interim, I am going to disable commenting so I don’t have to worry about “spammers” in my abscence. See ya when I get back 🙂 . . .
I wonder if any dispensationalists have ever pondered how similar (not one-for-one), in many ways, the whole first six dispensations (and sweep of salvation history) are; when correlated with the last dispensation (the millennial). Think about it:
The Salvation-Historical Age
- First we have God walking in the Garden with Adam and Eve
- Then we have the Fall, which banishes ‘man’ from the Garden, and into cursed living
- Next we have Yahweh establishing His covenant people, and re-establishing theocracy governed by the Law, etc.
- Then we have exile once again, but with promise of restored Davidic theocracy in the Land, with a Temple
The Millennial Age
- The LORD and His people (the “glorified church”) walk with His creation (the third of humanity who made it through the tribulation) in the Garden (the “regenerated earth” see Is. 35, etc.)
- The LORD and His people establish the Davidic theocracy in the Land, with a Temple, under the Law (fulfilling Ez. 36–48 )
- At the “end” of this age we have a “second Fall” (of sorts) — led by Satan, as he is released from the abyss one more time — by people (who have repopulated the earth in “un-resurrected bodies”) who have spent the last millenia under the direct rule of the LORD — which finally results in the banishment and cursing of these folks, along with the rest of those (who had died throughout history), kept in Hades, into the abyss of “Hell,” the “Lake of Fire”
So certainly not a direct corollary between the two, but some very striking similarities . . . and I am sure I could have taken more time to make this more precise; but you get the general idea. It is like the millennium, in many respects, is a “do-over” (recapitulation) one more time of the whole sweep of salvation history; which has led to the millennium. In the pre-mil millennial scheme we have the “Law” re-instituted, we have the Levitical system re-instituted, and we even have Jesus making sacrifices for Himself. Does this cause the dispensationalist any pause, at all . . . does any of these seem strange?
I think his logic is quite good (except for his atheism, of course)!
I came across this video over at Doug E.’s site
Here is a helpful, at least for me, outline of the development of christological articulation through the councils; this is provided by (who else) Thomas F. Torrance:
(i) The Council of Nicaea in AD 325, which affirmed that Jesus Christ is truly (alethos) God, in an affirmation of faith against the Arians.
(ii) The Council of Constantinople in AD 381, which affirmed that Jesus Christ was perfectly (teleos) man, against the Apollinarians whose teaching impaired the perfect humanity of Christ.
(iii) The Council of Ephesus in AD 431, which affirmed that Jesus Christ is one person, against the Nestorians who divided Christ into two persons.
(iv) The Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, which affirmed that in Jesus Christ there are two distinct natures in one person, and that in the one person of Christ they were hypostatically united ‘unconfusedly, incontrovertibly, indivisibly, inseparably’, or ‘without confusion, change, division or separation’. This was affirmed against the Eutychians and Monophysites.
(v) The Council of Constantinople AD 680, which asserted that Jesus Christ possessed a human will as well as a divine will, against the Monothelites, who asserted that in Jesus Christ there was only one single will.
Those are the five main stages in the Patristic doctrine of Christ, but to them we must add two more from modern times, which we shall consider in due course.
(vi) The Reformation, which sought to state the whole historic doctrine of Christ in East and West more in terms of Christ’s saving and reconciling mission, that is, in more dynamic terms.
(vii) Early Scottish theology (as in the teaching of Robert Boyd of Trochrig), and the theology of Karl Barth in our own day (after the assessment of the vast documentary study of the historical Jesus), where anhypostasia and enhypostasia are brought together to give full stress upon the historical Jesus Christ as the very Son of God. (Thomas F. Torrance, “Incarnation,” 196-97)
We see then the significance of Christ’s deity and humanity to lie in regard to his work of revelation and reconciliation. He who reveals God to man, and reconciles man to God, must be both God and man, truly and completely God, and truly and completely man. If the Son was to redeem the whole nature of man, he had to assume the whole nature of man; if in the Son man is to be gathered into the fellowship and life of God, it must be by one who is truly and completely God. Only he can be mediator who is himself the union of God and man, only he can be pontifex [‘bridge-maker’] who is himself the pons [‘bridge’]. (T. F. Torrance, “Incarnation,” 190)
Sorry JW’s, Mormons, Muslims, Higher Critics, Bahai, etc., etc. Salvation needs both prongs of the hypostatic union to be just that. If not, all of humanity is hopeless.
One point (of many) of note here is the relationship between reconciliation and revelation; Jesus is both at once, He reveals God to humanity, as He assumes Humanity into His life, bringing the necessary reconcilation — in order to know God (we have both ontology and epistemology dealt with in the person of Christ).
I am starting another blog, this will still be my primary one, so don’t go anywhere; this other blog will be totally dedicated to critiquing and discussing Free Grace Theology, a fundamentalist-dispensational system of theology that I grew up under. I have since moved away from that approach, but I still have interests in the current day developments of this movement; thus this blog will reflect that interest. I am hoping to provide some constructive feedback for Free Grace theology folks, sharing some of my own insights that I have gained; and staying current with contemporary currents and developments within “Free Grace.”
So if any of you Free-Gracers, who still read here, and pass through, every now and then — or even if you are not “Free Grace”, but curious — come on over to this other blog of mine. My goal for this other blog is to make it as accessible as possible (i.e. avoid as much academic language as possible, and when not possible provide definition [maybe even develop a glossary of terms] for uncommon theological language — so have no fear 😉 ). Come on over, you can find the new blog, here:
See you there 🙂 !
P.S. I want to reiterate, this is still my primary blog . . . so don’t go anywhere, if you want the regular, random stuff 😉 .
I just finished watching the documentary Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed,with actor/comedian Ben Stein as the host. He is seeking to expose the barrier that has been created by neo-Darwinians (esp. in the academy), and their goal to mute any dissent from the Darwinian ‘gospel’. In years past I have read quite a bit of the Intelligent Design (ID) stuff, and find it very intriguing and compelling.
Now I realize that there are many Christians (at least the more academic kind) who really do not appreciate what ID has to offer. I am sure there are various reasons for that, including being associated, whatsoever with the Creationist movement; and if this is the reason, then that is a shame, since this would only be to buy into the public relation campaign to tar and feather (poison the well and caricature) ID as a sophisticated front for “Creationism” — and not the positive actual-working scientific model that it is (e.g. see William Dembski’s work on specified complexity, etc.). So this may represent one wing of Christians who protest, but then there is another wing, and this is the side I want to focus on more.
There may be those Christians who dislike Intelligent Design because of theological reasons. They may look at ID as a movement that promotes an negative approach to God. They may be concerned that ID, through their scientific research, are to out prove God’s existence, and subsequently provide us with an idea of “Godness;” which can then be tied to the God of the bible (if the person is Christian). These kinds of Christians might not like to think that the God of the bible could be conceived of, philosophically, prior to meeting the God disclosed in the person of Christ (who is trinity). This could mean that God becomes shaped and determined to be who He is by His creation, making his attributes, and even his essence a predicate of nature — instead of vice versa. In other words, their fear would be that this approach would not place God before and above creation, but would make his existence a product of creation.
Do you understand this fear? I do, and if this is what the Intelligent Design movement was out to do — if they were actually “theologians” and not “natural scientists and philosophers” [by training] — and if they were trying to “prove” God’s existence as the basis of theological and evangelical communication; then I would protest as well. But they are not! As intimated, they are trained scientists and philosophers, who through their scientific inquiry have realized that intelligent fingerprints are all over the created order; and as a result have been working on real scientific models that identify intelligent causation (versus blind and random happenstance) embedded within organic reality, as an adequate source for describing the natural phenomenon they are discovering.
Is the intelligence they are discovering the God of the Bible? As Christians, we say, definitely! Some of these scientists (in ID) do not identify the “intelligence” as the Christian God, but instead and idea of god in unitarian terms, as found in the Jewish and Muslim faiths (for example). So this illustrates the inadequacy of natural science’s ability to identify the true God, instead it only has the capacity to identify an idea of godness — revelation claims are responsible for identifying the true God.
So, is the Christian who is leery of ID (for the theological reasons I note above) justified in their leeriness? They could be, but I do not believe they have to be. Certainly a Christian ID scientist or philosopher could take the God attested to by natural discovery and science, and attach this “discovered god” to the God of the Bible, methodologically and theologically (so Thomism) — and this would be wrong for reasons noted above. But, could not this same scientist start with Christian/trinitarian assumptions about God, and fruitfully engage in their scientific research; and glory in and worship the God who has redeemed all of creation in Christ? I think they could (I am not sure many do this, or think about this, in these terms). It is a matter of intention, and method. Do they see the God revealed in Christ as the methodological starting point and framework wherein their science is situated, or do they start with their science, and discovery, and fit God into the mold of “intelligence” they have discerned in creation? If the latter, then I would not support the methodology of Intelligent Design — theologically — if the former, then I would. Even if the latter, of the two just mentioned, was the paradigm followed by Christian ID’rs, this would not nullify, for me, their findings; it would just mean that I would disavow their findings as a legitimate basis for establishing the shape (or some like essence) of the Christian God of the bible.
I would imagine that the way philosophy has been imbibed by the church (i.e. church councils like Nicaea, Chalcedon, Constantinople, etc.) to articulate God’s being (like neo-Platonism), could serve as heuristic for thinking about this. In other words, the relationship between the God discovered by “Intelligent Design science,” and the God disclosed by Christ correlate because the Christian God is the God who creates (but not in the Thomistic sense). Hence the God of “Intelligent Design” can be pretexted out of the intelligent design context, and realized to be who He really is in a Christian novum (‘new’ context). So that even if the God that Intelligent Design has ‘discovered’ does not necessarily, or even fit the God of the bible (given His trinitarian and primary nature); this discovery can be co-opted by Christian theology, which properly and positively frames God for who He really is (relative to Creator/creature distinction, and relative to His one and three/three and one nature). Follow this link: Correlation In Theology for what I am trying to get at (just trying to think synthetically here 😉 ).
And if you are not tracking with anything I have said above, what do you think about Intelligent Design? I hear many people make assertions about its findings, scientifically, but when I hear why they think they are lacking, I typically am dissatisfied by their response.
Antony Flew, prominent twentieth century atheist converted to theism (read about that here), primarily as a result of the findings of Intelligent Design (though not solely), in 2004. What this illustrates, for one thing, is that ID on its own will not introduce somebody to Christ, or the God of the bible, necessarily; but, again, it can certainly be used by the LORD to break down walls that might make someone more susceptible to the Gospel — but then again, it could just erect new walls, that are just as solid as the atheist ones (okay I need to stop while I am ahead 😉 ).
Here is T. F. Torrance on ‘Dogmatic theology’, and how it was conceived in the first place (he gives two points, I am only going to provide his first point in the quote below):
When Reformed theologians at the end of the sixteenth century first developed positive theology as a dogmatic science (it was they who coined the term ‘dogmatics’) they rejected two primary principles in Roman theology. (i) They rejected the idea that the criterion of truth is lodged in the subject of the knower or interpreter. In all interpretation of the scriptures, for example, we are thrown back upon the truth of the word of God, which we must allow to declare itself to us as it calls in question all our preconceptions or vaunted authorities. The Reformed theologians had to fight for this on a double front: against the humanist thinkers who held the autonomous reason of the individual to be the measure of all things, and against the Roman theologians who claimed that the Roman church (the collective subject) was the supreme judge of all truth. What Reformed theology did was to transfer the centre of authority from the subject of the interpreter (the individual or Rome) to the truth itself. . . . (T. F. Torrance, “Incarnation,” 257)
So here, Torrance is highlighting a very fundamental truth, which even today provides critique of what we call “Reformed theology,” and that is the centrality of Christ as both the object and subject of theology. You will notice that Torrance speaks of scripture as the objective canon through which we are thrown back upon the word of God; in other words, I think he could be alluding to folks like Calvin, and his understanding of scripture as the spectacles by which we encounter the living Word, Christ. He is countering any kind of theological engagement that might place ‘me’ at the center, me and my speculation, that is; and offering an objective framework of theology that radiates outward from Christ the center. Christ alone should set the parameters and logic of ‘talk’ about Him, we fall into danger when we develop traditions and confessions that start with questions that ‘we struggle’ with; instead of allowing Christ to determine such platitudes.
As Torrance is underscoring, we can only have positive theology when we approach Christ, through Christ, by the Spirit. It is only when we sit under Christ, and not over, that we can ever be said to be ‘doing theology’. Someone may ask, and rightly so, how is it possible to do such theology, how can I get out of the way? Indeed, this is the problem, but it is all about the Incarnation, and the vicarious humanity of Christ, that we must start with. We must start there, and not ‘out here’; we must not engage in Descartes’ cogito ergo sum (‘I think therefore I am) style of theology, where man’s rationality is center-stage. This is a problem for much of Christian theology, and in fact, it could be questioned, if we do not start with Christ as the object and subject of theology, if we are even doing Christian theology at all?
What do you all think about my blog “header” (the picture)? I really like it, because it conveys and captures the title of my blog well — The Stumbling Block. Beyond that, it has Luther pointing to the cross of Christ, which again resonates deeply with me . . . Luther’s theologia crucis (‘theology of the cross’) has been very impactful, and continues to be, upon my life as a Christian. But sometimes I find myself conflicted, in the sense that this picture has Jesus on the cross, being crucified . . . this is rather “crucifixy,” but theologically this is not my intention for its usage. Anyway, what do you all think about this banner header? Does the imaging of Jesus on the cross pose problems for you?