Antichrist(s)

This is an excellent, balanced, and biblical resource on an often misunderstood teaching of Scripture: The Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth about the Antichrist. I marked the following paragraphs (among many others) that are worth sharing:

“The biblical writers do indeed foretell of Antichrist, but the images found in Scripture are markedly different from those of either ‘The Omen’ or the ‘Left Behind’ novels.  The fact that end-times speculation and sensationalism has trumped sound biblical exegesis is surely the reason this is the case.  Too often people don’t know what’s in their Bibles but can recount in great detail the plot of the most recent Christian novel.  Christians are quite familiar with the frightening images created by Hollywood but often remain ill-informed about the church’s reflection on this important doctrine.  This is most unfortunate and creates a climate in which Antichrist speculation occurs apart from serious reflection upon the teaching of the biblical text.”

“…According to New Testament writers, Antichrist is a past, present, and future foe.  As the supreme mimic of Christ, Antichrist will stage his own death, resurrection, and second coming.  The apostles faced him.  The martyrs faced him.  We must face him.  And in the one final outburst of satanic evil right before the end of time, Antichrist will make one last dramatic appearance before going to his doom.”

“Therefore, since Antichrist has already come, remains with us today, and will come again, understanding the tension between the already and the not yet is the key to understanding what the doctrine of Antichrist actually entails, and understanding this tension enables us to know how we are to combat him.”

Kim Riddlebarger, Man of Sin, p. 35-36.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI

Advertisements

The Rapture and A Cosmic Dog Whistle

In A Case for Amillennialism, Kim Riddlebarger gives a great biblical refutation of the secret rapture that dispensationalists teach.  Here’s one paragraph of that section.

“One of the most telling criticisms [of a secret rapture] is the language used by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the very passage used by dispensationalists as a proof text for two comings of Jesus Christ and the secret rapture.  Three times in the passage, Paul used terminology to convey the idea that Jesus Christ’s return to earth will be accompanied by divine announcements which are clearly universal in nature.  In verse 16, Paul mentioned that ‘the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God.’  The whole thrust of the three-fold announcement is that God himself will proclaim the return of Jesus Christ so loudly that the whole world will hear.  Not only so, but the world will also witness the subsequent catching away of believers (v. 17). 

If dispensationalists are correct in saying that this coming is secret, then only believers will hear the divine declaration.  As my colleague, Rev. Ken Jones, so aptly puts it, this turns the thrice-repeated announcement of Christ’s return into something akin to a cosmic dog whistle.  It is another example of a text where the champions of literal interpretation cannot take the key passage literally.  What is worse, if dispensationalists are correct about a secret rapture, then Jesus does not have two advents but three.”

As I’ve said before, I really like this book and highly recommend it.  This quote is found on page 143 of A Case for Amillenialism.

shane lems

Eschatology, Millennialism, End Times, etc.

 A friend of mine recently made the trek out of dispensationalism into Reformed theology.  A few members in the church I serve also came out of dispensational circles.  These things made me want to study dispensationalism from a dispensationalist’s point of view, so I purchased and read Ryrie’s Dispensationalism (Revised and Expanded)While I don’t want to give a book review of it here, I’m glad I read it.  After reading it, I’m not at all convinced that it is the most biblical method of interpretation.  In other words, I’m still convinced that the Reformed (covenantal and amillennial) view of Scripture is more biblical.  But that’s a whole different post and discussion!  What I want to do here is recommend a book for those of you interested in the historic Reformed view of biblical interpretation and eschatology.

The book I have in mind is Kim Riddlebarger’s A Case for Amillennialism.  Even though many of our readers may have heard of this one, I believe it is significant enough to keep on our reading lists and book recommendations. It’s not one of those trendy small hardcover books that will lose its appeal in 8 months; this is one you can keep going back to in your biblical studies.

Riddlebarger understands dispensationalism since he used to hold a dispensationalist view of the Bible and history.  After his own intense studies, he became convinced the Reformation got it right.  This means – and he explains these things in the book – OT prophecy and eschatology have everything to do with Christ, covenant, the church, and the already/not yet nature of Christ’s eternal kingdom.

Here are a some other things Riddlebarger discusses (and these discussions are steeped in Scripture): the rapture, the Day of the Lord, the two ages, the church as the Israel of God, Christ’s return (the Parousia), the Olivet Discourse, Daniel’s prophecies, and Revelation 20:1-10 (just to name a few).  Though it technically isn’t a systematic theology text, it is an oustanding supplement to ST topics (hermeneutics, Christology, pneumatology, eschatology, etc.).

A Case for Amillennialism is around 250 pages and well written – most Christians who are committed to studying this topic will be able to read it without much trouble.  I do wish there were footnotes instead of endnotes.  Also, there is no Scripture index, which is very disappointing (though I think the publisher is to blame for that one.  Dear publishers, please put Scripture indexes in books!!!).  In a word, this is a book on my shelves I refer to quite often because it is a clearly written biblical explanation of some important themes in hermeneutics and eschatology.  I believe it will be a great resource for years to come.  If you don’t have it, or have been thinking about getting it, don’t hesitate; you won’t be disappointed.

shane lems

sunnyside wa