Two good posts:
I came across an exciting mission opportunity for academics. This organization sends Christian teachers into other countries, finding positions for them in secular universities. A quote on their home-page says it all:
|“The university is a clear-cut fulcrum with which to move the world. Change the university and you change the world,”
declared Dr. Charles Malik, former president of the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.
Hal Lindsey wrote a book (which I own as a curiosity) in which he accused Theonomic Reconstructionists of anti-semitism. The basic argument seems to be that theonomists believe the Church has replaced ethnic Israel, and this will lead to all sorts of end-of-the-world bad things. However, I would suggest that radical Dispensationalists have a huge anti-semitic beam in their own eye. The problem is with two verses in Matthew (23:36 and 24:34) and with the meaning of the word “generation.”
Matthew 24:34 reads: “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” The Greek word for generation is “genea” (genea.n). Charles Ryrie helpfully explains this away for us: “No one living when Jesus spoke these words lived to see ‘all these things’ come to pass. However, the Greek word can mean ‘race’ or ‘family,’ which makes good sense here; i.e., the Jewish race will be preserved, in spite of terrible persecution, until the Lord comes” (Ryrie Study Bible, Expanded Edition). One reason for this “terrible persecution” may be slips of logic like this. Let’s look at some of the other things Jesus said about that “generation”:
33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation(ESV, emphasis mine).
The Greek word here “genea” (genea.) is the same as in 23:36. So, did Jesus really mean that the Jewish race would be punished forever for killing the prophets from Abel to Zechariah? Of course, we need to add the execution of the Prophet Jesus to that list. If this is true, then why do people complain about Christians persecuting Jews throughout history? According to Ryrie’s logic, this is simply the will of God! Or, did the meaning of “genea” suddenly switch between chapters? It maketh no sense.
A more sane way to read these passages, though it may appear harsh, is to say that God did indeed judge that generation of Jews in 70 AD when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. That was it. No further punishment needed. Any mistreatment of Jews because they are Jews (whatever that means now, in the New Covenant) is wrong and sinful. Period. That generation did reject Jesus and they were judged for it. Their house really was left desolate (Matt. 23:38). And, of course, it makes more sense to read most of Matthew 24 as fulfilled in the 1st century. But, that’s a much bigger point… At the least, Dispensational exegesis is not consistent with the plain meaning of Greek words. At the worst, some Hitler wanna-be could read their exegesis and find himself a handy proof-text.
The Ascension of Christ is essential to our understanding of the Lord’s Supper. Of course, most of what happens to us at this Table remains a mystery, but we can say a few things, given what we know about Christ. We know that Christ is in heaven, seated at the Father’s right hand. We also know that Jesus Christ still has a resurrection body. Many Christians have never thought about this, but it is true. John says that we don’t know what the resurrection will be like, but we know that we will be like Jesus (1 Jn. 3:2). And we know that Jesus had a real body that Thomas could touch and feel. Jesus ate and drank after his resurrection. This table prepares us for heaven. Revelation tells us that heaven will be the wedding feast of the Lamb. We will eat and drink with Jesus in heaven. We are eating and drinking with him now, in the Church. But, we often assume heaven will be less than what we know now. We think we’ll float around, playing harps. But, what if heaven is an eternal banquet with tastes and pleasures that would make your mind explode now? Perhaps, when Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding at Cana, he was bringing a little bit of heaven to earth. Whatever heaven will be, we must guard against the gnostic heresy, which says our bodies are not important to our salvation. Christ came to save the world, including our bodies. In the Ascension, Christ took a human body back up to heaven. Things have changed at the center of the universe. We can’t go back. A grand and glorious party is coming. Don’t be left behind. If you’ve been baptized, and are not under church discipline, then you are already wearing the wedding garments, and you need to come to this party.
Gentry has a real, actual quote from a real, actual dispensationalist, explaining why so many apparent antichrists have flitted across the world stage, without getting the lead role and ushering in the end times:
“At all times Satan has had to have one or more Antichrist candidates waiting in the wings, lest the Rapture come suddenly and find him unprepared. That is why so many malevolent world leaders have had names whose letters added up to 666 when combined in certain ways. (Depending on which 666 formula is used, at any given moment there are several hundred thousand men in the world whose names add up to 666. It is from this large pool of candidates that Satan has traditionally chosen his ‘man of the moment’),” (Raymond Schafer, After the Rapture, 55, quoted in Kenneth Gentry, The Beast of Revelation, 11).
I wonder how many of the these antichrists-in-training have been busily employed writing malarkey like this to distract the Church from the weightier matters of the law, like giving our children a Christian education …
Additionally, with all this antichrist-training to do, how does Satan find the time to tempt everybody in the whole world at the same time? He must be, like, almost God or something!