Clashing Theologies over Israel and the Church

I had the opportunity recently to participate in a nearly three hour discussion on the distinctions and similarities between Israel and the Church.

Participants were various individuals from the Bible Thumping Wingnut Network, that included Andrew Rappaport and myself defending more of a Dispensational perspective, Paul Kaiser and Joey Jaco from the Conversations from the Porch podcast defending the NCT perspective, and Vincent Lancon representing the CT perspective.

The discussion was informal, rather than a serious debate. I appreciated that because we weren’t required to remain anchored to a rigid format. A number of listeners may find the informality annoying because it allowed us to hop around on a lot of rabbit trails. Additionally, the NCT and CT perspectives were virtually identical, at least this time.

The one observation I would make reflecting back upon the discussion is that our main disagreement hinges on how we interpret the Bible. (Duh).

The Dispensational detractors, especially the NCT guys, insist that the apostles read the Old Tesatment differently than the prophets because the coming of Jesus supposedly changed the rules of hermeneutics. While I would certainly agree that God was progressively revealing His redemptive purposes over time so that certain aspects of His purposes were veiled for a time, to suggest that the basic rules of interpretation shifted dramatically with the coming of Christ so that the OT is entirely reoriented in the light of the NT opens up major fissures in our basic theology.

For example, that view would create what I would consider competing canons of authority with the OT conveying a revelatory message in one way and the NT conveying an entirely different message. Moreover, proponents of that interpretive view would have us believe God intentionally misled with the revelation He gave. In other words, when the patriarchs heard the reiterated covenant promises of a geopolitical kingdom in their land that lasts forever, they took God at His word. If He really meant something entirely different, that being a typological heavenly land, such would be deception on God’s part. The OT is replete with prophetic promises that clearly state how Israel will be planted in their land forever, never to be removed. The land is further understood as the physical territory known as Israel, Isaiah 11, Isaiah 27, Isaiah 59:20-21, Jeremiah 16:14-16, Jeremiah 32:36-40, Hosea 1:10, Hosea 2:21-23, and Zechariah 12-14, just to mention a smattering of important passages.

Abner Chou has actually offered some excellent critiques of what is called the Christocentric hermeneutic. I would direct readers to these resources,

A Evaluation of the Christocentric Hermeneutic (Word doc)

Inerrancy in Light of the NT Writer’s use of the OT (ShepCon Inerrancy Summit message)

The Dual Status of Israel in Romans 11:28 (TMS journal article from Matt Waymeyer)

Anyhow, the discussion is currently available on YouTube, and will be made available eventually as a podcast on BTWN. Check it out.

Israel and the Church | the Clash of Theologies


Announcements and Stuff

I thought I would toss up this brief announcement for any long-time blogging readers who still stop by here on occasion.

I am not quitting.

Thought I would start out with declaring that first, knowing how announcements appearing on a blog that has long spaces of inaction between posts typically indicate the blog has reached the death throws of extinction.

No, that isn’t happening. What has happened is that I have been occupied with raising kids and doing family stuff. Yep. Amazing how school, ball games, play practice, and the like sucks the time out of your life.

Additionally, two wonderful privileges have entered my writing life.

First, I help teach third graders at my church. I rotate the teaching with two other fellows; but still, the message prep for a 25 to 30 minute lesson can be grueling. If you aren’t sufficiently prepared to teach 50 third graders, you’ll be killed. That includes learning to master powerpoint so I can illustrate lessons. Powerpoint is the new flannel board.

Secondly, and this is new for me, the fine folks over at the Bible Thumping Wingnut Network, asked me to contribute articles to their blog section. BTWN gets thousands of viewers a week, dwarfing the traffic I get here at my blog which exists at the outer fringes of the internet. I was thrilled for the opportunity and jumped immediately on the invite. Granted, a lot of what I have posted so far are older articles I have written for my blog that I have dusted off and retooled for the BTWN readership, but I hope to produce some original content in the future.

Meanwhile, my personal blog, though slowing down a bit, will still keep on chugging along. I plan to return to my review of Hugh Ross’s book, Navigating Genesis, and I have plans for another book review in the future, hopefully sometime later this year.

In the meantime, take a look over at the BTWN site. I will try to post something at least once a week when I am able. Posts can be found HERE.

Talking Halloween and Christians

booAndy Olson of Echo Zoe radio contacted me last week and wondered if I would be willing to visit with him for his monthly podcast. I said, “sure, would love to,” and when we got to exchanging messages about a particular topic, the subject of Halloween came up. We quickly discovered we had similar experiences growing up as Fundy Christians and being told Halloween was satanic and will steal your soul (if you weren’t murdered first in a ritual killing).

So this being October, and knowing Christian parents are probably struggling in their hearts about whether or not they should do something Trick or Treaty with the kids (and at the great risk of receiving a severe wedgie from some of my discernment blogging acquaintances), we landed on that subject. We spent about an hour discussing our take on Halloween. We talk about the Jack Chick Halloween menace worldview, the fact that Halloween marks the beginning of the Reformation, and how folks can actually benefit spiritually from Halloween without losing their soul to the roving covens of black hooded warlocks seeking out blonde virgins to sacrifice.

Give it a listen; and like I always so, listen at 1.5x speed because we sound much more smarterer.

On Halloween

Neanderthals, Jesus, and Wine

cavemenSo back toward the end of July, I spent a late afternoon California time chatting with the BTWN guys. We talked about Creation Ministries republishing my article addressing Neanderthal/human hybrids and how Reason to Believe’s teaching on that topic is detrimental to Christian apologetics.

We then turned our attention to offering a critique of Darren Doane’s Jesus is Wine hermeneutic he articulated at the ReformCon2016 during the live Apologia radio recording. My focus was not upon the dust up between Apologia and their critics, but upon the typological mindset that allows a person to read the Bible in such a haphazard fashion.

Here’s the episode

BTWN Episode 192

Remember to listen at 1.5x speed because we sound much more intelligent.

My Neanderthal Article

My article I wrote about a month or so ago interacting with a Reasons to Believe apologist and their weird human-Neanderthal hybrid ideas, was picked up by Creation Ministries International.

Neandertal-human hybrids: Apologetics Gone Real Bad

I appreciate the opportunity that allows my writing exposure to a much broader audience. I was also grateful for the way Jonathan Sarfati and the folks at CMI helped with punching it up with more details and links I hadn’t supplied in the original.

BTWN Hangout: “I used to be an atheist”

pasta1I recently had the privilege of participating in a Bible Thumping Wingnut Google hangout. There were a variety of topics, but our overarching theme was the knowledge men have of God, apologetic methodology, my recent articles on that topic, and atheism. Larry Herzog gave his testimony about how God saved him from atheism.

We spent the last 30 minutes of the time going Mystery Science Theater on an atheist talk by The Thinking Atheist.

“I used to be an atheist” [You tube version] 

My 2015 Blogging Year in Review

baby new yearAh. 2016 arrived, and the day before, I received WordPress’s annual review of my blogging the past year of 2015. Here are the results:

5. Interpreting Ezekiel’s Temple Vision. I originally posted this article back in January 2013, approximately 2 years ago to the month. It is still one of my most searched articles/series.

4. Perry Noble’s Apology. Last Christmas, mega-church goofball, Perry Noble, the grown man who dresses like he is 14, preached a sermon in which he claimed God “spoke to his heart, telling him that the word “command” does not exist in the Hebrew and so the idea of 10 Commandments was wrong. He issued a letter of apology to his mega-congregation explaining how it is God’s fault that he is an idiot.

3. Does the Bible Teach that a Woman has to Marry Her Rapist? I wrote this article a long time ago; like maybe back in 2009 or 2010. I reworked it a bit and updated it to look nicer since my move from my old Blogger site and reposted it in 2014. It is still frequently visited due primarily to atheist wackos putting it on lists and websites called things like, “Crazy Fundy Teaching” or “**** Fundy Christians Believe,” or some such nonsense.

2. The Real Reasons Why Youth Are Leaving Church. I wrote this in response to a number of alarmist, hand-wringing posts I see popping up on popular apologetic blogs and ministry websites. Generally, those articles insist that the reason why youth are leaving churches and abandoning their Christian upbringing is because they graduate from the safe confines of their high school youth group bubble, encounter the real world at their local community college or state university, and are unprepared to answer all those smart thinking atheists when they challenge them with their withering criticisms of the Christian faith. The authors insist that if churches would regularly invite apologetic speakers to teach their youth about intelligent design theory, or evidentialist apologetics, as well as Thomist philosophy, those kids will be prepared to intellectually Kung Fu kick the daylights out of those Youtube atheists at college.

I believe that is nonsense as I outline in the article. It somehow came across the radar of Todd Friel and he read it on his Wretched radio show.

And the number one, most visited and read article on my blog for the year 2015 was,

1. About that Lying “Prophet” that Rebuked John MacArthur

Back in August of 2015, John MacArthur had returned from an extended summer hiatus. During the second AM service, he was recapping his summer and sharing with the congregation what he had done. All of the sudden, a scruffy looking goofball walked up onto the platform where John was talking, whistled real loud, and then proceeded to yell at John for his anti-Charismatic beliefs. Security escorted him out of the service as he continued to shout at John to repent of his cessationism. That event got spread far and wide on social media, and Charismatic wackos wondered if this was really a prophet sent from God to rebuke John MacArthur and those haters at Grace Church. We also saw it as a godsend, because in light of the shooting at San Bernardino, his disruption also revealed holes in our church security that have since been patched. I explained why that guy was really a false prophet and a liar.

Books I Heard or Read in 2015

deskAs is my custom since 2009, I want to highlight all the books I either heard or read this past year. Previous entries, if anyone is interested, can be found under this link at my blog, Various Reviews.

I will begin with the audio books I heard.

Audio Books

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex. – Nathaniel Philbrick

I saw this book mentioned when I listened to its author, Nathaniel Philbrick’s, other excellent book on the history of the Mayflower and the Pilgrim’s settling in New England. In the Heart of the Sea tells the story about how the whaling ship Essex was rammed and sunk by a massive sperm whale out in the Pacific ocean west of the Galapagos Islands. All the whalers were left shipwrecked in their whaling boats and then began their ordeal of being lost in the middle of the vast Pacific starving to death and slowly dying off one by one.

The recent movie looks to be good, but the trailer gives the impression the sperm whale was like 200 feet long and hunted down the whalers. That never happened.

End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy James L. Swanson

One of the more riveting books I listened to this year. I really enjoyed Swanson’s work retelling about the manhunt for Abraham Lincoln’s killer, so I was especially interested in this book. He provides important background to Lee Oswald, particularly him being a “crazy little communist,” and the motivation as to why he would want to assassinate JFK.

Swanson also gives much needed background to JFK as president up until Nov. 63, the secret service and their role in protecting him, and why he was even in Texas at the time. Swanson’s moment-by-moment narration really debunks a lot of the conspiracy theories that try to say Oswald didn’t do it or didn’t act alone.

Richard “John Boy” Thomas does a smashing job as narrator; some of the best reading I have heard on a book.

Under the Banner of Heaven: The Story of Violent Faith – Jon Krakauer

A study into the history of the Mormon religion told through the account of Ron and Dan Lafferty murdering their sister-in-law and her baby daughter after God “gave a prophecy” for her death. As Krakauer moves through his narrative of the murder, he weaves together the background of Joseph Smith, his founding of the LDS, and their promotion of polygamy as a necessary ordinance for Mormons. He then moves to an overview of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that was organized after the main Mormon leadership overturned the concept of plural wives in the late 1800s in order to allow Utah to be admitted into the United States. He also covers the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case and its relevance to the plural wives doctrine.

I accidentally picked up the abridged version, but what I heard covered a lot of the relevant material.

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief – Lawrence Wright

This is the best book I listened to this year and one I would not only highly recommend for serious students of cult apologetics, I would insist that they read it. I wrote a more detailed review HERE.

Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War – H.W. Crocker III

During the debate about the Confederate flag, I got into social media tussles with individuals over the history of the Civil War. I found this audio book one afternoon when visiting the public library with the kids and wanted to refresh my history. The book covers all the necessary people and events surrounding the Civil War and retells it from a more balanced, non-political correct (i.e., the south was evil) perspective.

The MartianAndy Weir

The one fiction book I listened to this year. A fabulous tale that tells how a presumed dead astronaut is abandoned on Mars when his team had to abort their mission after an unexpected emergency. Once he revives and realizes he is totally alone on Mars, he has to figure out a way to survive and eventually get rescued. The book is extremely well done, though it is something of a science geek book. Just be aware that there is cursing if anyone is interested.

Regular Print Edition Books

Discovering God: The Origin of Religion and the Evolution of BeliefRodney Stark

I found this one on the cheap shelves over at Archives in Pasadena. I have always liked Stark’s historical research and writing, especially his books that debunk a lot of atheist claims against religion in general and Christianity specifically. This book looks at the world’s religions beginning with the really ancient religions like the ones found in Egypt, Assyria, and Rome, and then moves to exploring others like Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. He even includes a study of Mayans and Aztecs as well. He provides a basic overview of each one, outlining how they were founded and their major tenets of belief.

The really good stuff in this book is his introductory material before he hits on the major religions. That’s because he demolishes the urban legends of sociological evolution that says men started out as primitive pagans who worshiped a plurality of gods and became monotheistic as societies became advanced. In reality, every society around the world had a concept of an all powerful god figure who transcends all other gods. The problem, however, is that the all powerful god is unapproachable, unknowable, and so distant from men on earth, other intermediary deities replace that god. Think Romans 1.

Jesus Made in America: A Cultural History from the Puritans to “The Passion of the Christ”Stephen Nichols

Nichols is another one of my favorite authors. I had the privilege of stupidly shaking his hand at Shepherd’s Conference this past year and blurting out in a Jerry Lewis like voice, “I love your books!” Thankfully, he appreciated the compliment.

He presents a wonderful study in the development of Christianity in American history by detailing how Christians have perceived the person of Jesus Christ. He begins with the lofty views of the colonial Puritans and moves all the way to the sappy, sentimental “big brother” views of our modern, red state evangelicalism. His writing, as always, is accessible by laymen and his footnotes are filled with additional resources for further study on the topic.

The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature?John N Oswalt.

Oswalt has written what I believe to be an important and necessary apologetic study. He thoroughly demolishes the idea that the Bible and Israel are just a mirror of the other ancient Near Eastern religions. He clearly demonstrates that modern, Western ideas about ancient Israel stems from the unquestioned anti-supernatural presuppositions that rejects the concept of divine revelation.

God’s Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in AmericaLarry Eskridge

I confess to not completely reading this book. I read the early chapters that explain how hippies in the San Francisco Bay area took their drug culture, synced it with Christianity, and created the Jesus people movement. While Eskridge attempts to present the Jesus Movement in a positive light, I cannot help but realize that a lot of the sloppy theology that has shaped our modern church culture comes from the Jesus People. This is especially true in regards to a lot of the awful CCM that has flooded into the worship of many Christians and ultimately the worship services of our churches.

Sexual Fidelity: No CompromiseMike Abendroth

See my fuller review of pastor Mike’s book I posted earlier, HERE.

Premillennialism: Why There Must Be a Future Earthly Kingdom of JesusMichael Vlach

I am almost finished with this book. Like his earlier works on the Israel/Church distinctive and Dispensationalism, Vlach presents a sound, biblically, precise study on the premillennial kingdom of Christ.