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Question 3-Puritan Catechism

January 24, 2013 2 comments

Spurgeon 6Q. What do the Scriptures principally teach?

A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man (2 Timothy 1:13; Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon-A Puritan Catechism

Confession statement 10

Published in 1646

The Text used: There has been some updating of Old English words but otherwise no changes have been made to the original texts.

CONFESSION OF FAITH of seven congregations or churches of Christ in London. which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists; published for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant; likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them. Printed in London, Anno 1646.

X JESUS Christ is made the mediator of the new and everlasting covenant of grace between God and man, ever to be perfectly and fully the prophet, priest, and king of the Church of God for evermore.

1 Tim.2:5; Heb.9:15; John 14:6; Isa.9:6,7.

The First London Baptist Confession 1644/46

Those who opposed the Reformers claimed knowledge, but were ignorant of the things of God

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-00152. It is owing to the same ignorance that they hold it to be doubtful and uncertain; for this is the very thing of which the Lord complains by his prophets “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not consider,” (Isaiah 1:3.) But however they may sport with its uncertainty, had they to seal their own doctrine with their blood, and at the expense of life, it would be seen what value they put upon it. Very different is our confidence — a confidence which is not appalled by the terrors of death, and therefore not even by the judgment-seat of God.

John Calvin-Prefatory Address to Francis King of the French-Institutes of the Christian Religion

Sola Scriptura and the Millennium Pt 2

In my last posts I introduced the topic of the attempt of premillennialists to prove their premillennialism with quotes from Church Fathers and modern theologians, instead of scripture. I pointed everyone to a blog, of which I have been following, that quotes from men such as John Walvoord and Mal Couch in order to prove that the early church taught the premillennial view.

Today I would like to counter John Walvoord’s quote, on the other blog, with a quote of my own. This quote is from “Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth” (A Critique of Dispensationalism (1)) by John H. Gerstner, PH.D(2) (John Gerstner follows the church age up through the centuries in his book showing what theologians have said about the view of the early church fathers on the millennium. In this quote he is only dealing with the second century A.D.)

 

“Most dispensationalists are prone to claim the whole sub-apostolic age for premillennialism. For example, John Walvoord calmly states that “the most ancient view, that of the church of the first centuries, was what is known as premillennialism or chiliasm.”(3) Such an ambitious statement goes far beyond the evidence. While we grant that Justin Martyr, Hermas, Papias, and Irenaeus may have been premillenarians and that many regard the epistle of Barnabas as also premillennial, the following considerations need to be noted.

First, it can be shown with respect even to some of these that their theology was clearly not dispensational. For example, Justin and Irenaeus(4) regarded the church as the fulfillment of the new covenant of Jeremiah 31:31. This fact precludes their Dispensationalism because Dispensationalism regards the church age as not predicted by the Old Testament prophets.

Second, Justin Martyr, though a premillennialist, did not regard premillennialism as a test of orthodoxy, but admitted that some right-minded Christians did not agree with his view on this subject.(5)

Third, it should also be pointed out that chiliasm was widely held among the heretics. Agreeing with the great German church historian (and Jewish convert to Christianity) August Neander, W. G. T. Shedd noted that the premillennialism in Christian churches was just a revival of a Jewish belief that flourished especially between A.D. 160 and A.D. 250. “Chiliasm never formed a part of the general creed of the church. It was diffused from one country (Phrygia), and from a single fountainhead.” (6) The arch-heretics Cerinthus, Marcion, and Montanus were premillennialists, as were apocalyptic books of Enoch, The Twelve Patriarchs, and the Sibylline Books.

Fourth as intimated by Neander, premillennialism was not the doctrine of the catholic creeds. Furthermore, the creeds appear to be distinctly anti-chiliastic. The Apostles’ and the Nicene Creeds leave no room for a millennium, and, speaking of Christ’s kingdom, the Council of Constantinople affirmed that “of whose kingdom there shall be no end.” The Anthanasian Creed states: “at whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works, and they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.” (7) Thus, the eschatology of these early creeds is better characterized as amillennial or postmillennial. (8)

Finally, the millennialism of the first centuries is itself rather ambiguously premillennial. One of the ablest recent premillennial writers, D. H. Kromminga, claims far less for ancient millennialism. He finds Barnabas to be, not only not a premillenarian, but “The Father of Amillennial understanding.”(9) Of the Apostolic Fathers, Kromminga claims only Papias as a millenarian, but does not find the evidence conclusive. (10) He grants that Justin and Irenaeus acknowledge the presence of millennial eschatologies in the church. (11) He notes that Justin laid the foundation for the Reformed doctrine of the covenants and that he was not a premillennialists.(12) Speaking generally, he says:

“So far as the available evidence goes, there is no ground for ascertaining that Millenarianism was prevalent in the church during the apostolic period, ending with the year 150 A.D. Not only was there very little of it, so far as the literature indicates but what little there was can be traced rather definitely to un-christian Jewish apocalyptic sources. (13)

Others take a similar view of premillennialism in the early church. W. Masselink, for example, finds no chiliasm in Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Anthanasius, or Theophilus. (14) Louis Berkhof writes, “It is not correct to say, as Premillenarians do, that it was generally accepted in the first three centuries. The truth of the matter is that the adherents of this doctrine were a rather limited number.” (15)

An important treatment of this period by a dispensationalist is found in the Dallas Seminary thesis by Allan P. Boyd. (16) This work indicts the statement by Charles Ryrie that “Premillennialism is the historic faith of the Church.”(17) Citing noted dispensationalists Dwight Pentecost, John Walvoord, and others, Boyd points out that the assumption of “continuative premillennialism” is general among dispensationalists. Focusing on Ryrie, Boyd shows that his “premillennialism” includes rapture thinking, the division of Israel and the church, Dispensationalism, literalism, and pretribulationism.

After careful surveying and citing the texts of the early church fathers, Boyd ends by saying, “It is the conclusion of this thesis that Dr. Ryrie’s statement is historically invalid within the chronological framework of this thesis.”(18) “These early churchmen were not literalistic; drew no essential distinction between Israel and the Church; did not have a dispensational view of history; though Papias and Justin had a thousand-year kingdom, that was the only similarity to Dispensationalism; did not hold to imminency and pretribulationism; and their eschatological chronology was not synonymous with Dispensationalism’s.”(19) In fact, the early eschatology was “inimical”to Dispensationalism and was “perhaps” a seminal amillennialism. (20)

What was Ryrie’s response? Boyd comments in the preface that, “on the basis of classroom and private discussion….Dr. Charles Ryrie, whose statements regarding the historicity of dispensational premillennialism in the Church Fathers are carefully scrutinized in this thesis, has changed his opinion on these matters. Unfortunately, he has not published these clarifications, and it is hoped that he will do so in the near future.” (21)

 

Several in the above quote stated that Papias might have been premillennial, but premillennialist have no idea of the allegorical interpretations that Papias held concerning a millennium. Those who claim that millennialist hold a literal interpretation while amillennialist allegorize have first and fore most never read a church father and secondly have never understood proper hermeneutical methods of interpretation. Here is a quote by Papias:

 

“The days will come in which vines having ten thousand branches will grow. In each branch, there will be ten thousand twigs, and in each shoot there will be ten thousand clusters. Each cluster will have ten thousand grapes, and every grape will give twenty-five metretes of wine, when pressed…..In like manner, a grain of wheat will produce ten thousand ears.”(22)

 

Notice all the wine that will come from one grape according to Papias. One would need a truck to haul that grape around.

The fact that people try to quote theologians or early church fathers as proof texts for what they believe shows that the word of God is not their authority on what God has stated. These quotes were only given to counter those at Scripture Thoughts. Also many do not realize that Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, and many others are the immediate church fathers after the apostles. In their writings, especially Ignatius’ writings, one cannot find any future millennial kingdom spoken of. (23)

My next post will be on Hermeneutics and then we will move to scripture to see what it teaches concerning a millennial kingdom.  You can read part one of this article Here.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. I understand that Gerstner is writing mainly against Dispensationalism’s method of hermeneutics and not particularly writing against those who hold to Historic Premillennialism. Nevertheless if modern day millennialist want to quote dispensational theologians as proof that amillennialism is not true, then they need to take the whole system of these theologians into consideration. For instance, I was accused of diverting the discussion, on the other blog of which I commented, simply because I mentioned that I used to be dispensational, yet the author of the blog was quoting a dispensationalist. How ironic was that?
  2. John H. Gerstner, “Wrongly dividing the word of truth: a critique of dispensationalim” (Brentwood, Tn., Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991), 8-11
  3. John F. Walvoord, “Postribulationism Today, Part II: The Rapture and the Day of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians,” Bibliotheca Sacra 139 (1982):4.
  4. Justin Martyr, “Dialogue with Trypho,” in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952; reprint ed.) 1:260-267, Irenaeus, “Against Heresies,” in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, reprint ed.), 1:511, 562
  5. Justin, “Dialogue,” p. 239.
  6. W. G. T. Shedd, A History of Doctrine, 2 vols. (Minneapolis, Minn.: Klock & Klock, 1978: reprint ed.), 2:642. See also Emil Schurer, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, 3 vols. In 5 (New York: Scribner, 1896), II/2:170-177.
  7. Philip Schaff, ed. The Creeds of Christendom, 6th ed., 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990; reprint ed.), 2:45, 59, 69-70.
  8. See James H. Snowden, The Coming of the Lord (New York: MacMillian, 1919), p. 20. From a survey of the early creeds, Snowden concludes that they are “postmillennial.” This, however, was because he entertained no alternative to premillennialism except postmillennialism.
  9. D. H. Kromminga, The Millennium in the Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1945), p.37
  10. Ibid., pp. 43, 48.
  11. Ibid., p. 43
  12. Ibid., p. 49. We will see later that Reformed covenants are quite different from dispensational covenants. See Harold O. J. Brown, “Covenant and Dispensation,” Trinity JournalNS 2 (1981):69-70.
  13. Ibid., p. 41.
  14. W. Masselink, Why a Thousand Years? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1930), p. 27.
  15. Louis Berkhof, The History of Christian Doctrines (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), p. 270.
  16. Allan P. Boyd, “A Dispensational Premillennial Analysis of the Eschatology of the Post-Apostolic Fathers (Until the Death of Justin Martyr)” (Th.M. Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1977).
  17. Charles Cardwell Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith (New York: Loizeaux, 1953), p. 17.
  18. Boyd, “Analysis,” p. 89.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid., p. 91.
  21. Ibid., preface. Larry Crutchfield has tried to offset this somewhat by his study of later church fathers in “Israel and the Church in the Ante-Nicene Fathers,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 144 (1987):254-276.
  22. Irenaeus Citing Papias, “A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs,” (Peabody Mass. Hendrickson, 1998), p. 450.
  23. Clement of Rome was a disciple of Peter and later Bishop of Rome. He wrote 1 and 2 Clement. This is said to be around 95 A.D. No millennium is spoken of in his writings. Ignatius on his way to Rome to be martyred is said to have written seven epistles. Some fix this date around 107 A.D. No millennium is spoken of in his epistles. Polycarp wrote his epistle to the Philippians and many other epistles that we do not now possess. He was martyred around 155 A.D. No millennium is spoken of in his epistle.

Dispensationalist claim–not all scripture is for the Church

January 22, 2013 3 comments

Arthur PinkNot satisfied with their determined efforts to deprive us of the Old Testament, these would-be super-expositors dogmatically assert that the four Gospels are Jewish, and that the Epistles of James and Peter, John and Jude are designed for a “godly Jewish remnant” in a future “tribulation period,” that nothing but the Pauline Epistles contain “Church truth,” and thousands of gullible souls have accepted their ipse digit—those who decline so doing are regarded as untaught and superficial. Yet God Himself has not uttered a single word to that effect. Certainly there is nothing whatever in 2 Timothy 2:15, to justify such a revolutionizing method of interpreting the Word: that verse has no more to do with the sectioning of Scripture between different “dispensations” than it has with distinguishing between stars of varying magnitude. If that verse be carefully compared with Matthew 7:6, John 16:12 and 1 Corinthians 3:2, its meaning is clear. The occupant of the pulpit is to give diligence in becoming equipped to give the different classes of his hearer “their portion of meat in due season” (Luke 12:42). To rightly divide the Word of Truth is for him to minister it suitably unto the several cases and circumstances of his congregation: to sinners and saints, the indifferent and the inquiring, the babes and fathers, the tempted and afflicted, the backslidden and fallen.

Arthur W. Pink The Application of Scriptures-A Study of Dispensationalism

Sola Scriptura and the Millennium Pt 1

January 21, 2013 4 comments

There seems to be a fascination among premillennialists to prove their view of the millennium from early Christianity, instead of the Bible. As if the deciding factor on whether or not a doctrine is correct rests on whether or not Justin Martyr and Irenaeus taught it. This to me seems almost a Romanist approach to Biblical exegesis. For instance, during the Reformation the Reformers were accused by Rome of teaching against the early Church Fathers. Calvin responded in his prefatory address to Francis King of the French by saying,

“It is a calumny to represent us as opposed to the Fathers, (I mean the ancient writers of a purer age,) as if the Fathers were supporters of their impiety. Were the contest to be decided by such authority (to speak in the most moderate terms,) the better part of the victory would be ours. While there is much that is admirable and wise in the writings of those Fathers, and while in some things it has fared with them as with ordinary men; these pious sons, forsooth, with the peculiar acuteness of intellect, and judgment, and soul, which belongs to them, adore only their slips and errors, while those things which are well said they either overlook, or disguise, or corrupt, so that it may be truly said their only care has been to gather dross among gold. Then, with dishonest glamour, they assail us as enemies and despisers of the Fathers. So far are we from despising them, that if this were the proper place, it would give us no trouble to support the greater part of the doctrines which we now hold by their suffrages.

Still, in studying their writings, we have endeavored to remember, (1 Corinthians 3:21-23; see also Augustin. Ep. 28,) that all things are ours, to serve, not Lord it over us, but that we are Christ’s only, and must obey him in all things without exception. He who does not draw this distinction will not have any fixed principles in religion: for those holy men were ignorant of many things, are often opposed to each other, and are sometimes at variance with themselves.”

Protestants realized that the traditional view of scripture was good in certain circumstances, nevertheless all our doctrines ought to rests in what the word of God teaches and not in the theological speculations of men who have come before us.

To give an example of such attempts by premillennialists to prove their assertions I shall point you to a blog that I have followed the pasts several months. This blog is called Scripture Thoughts and can be found right here.

What I found ironic about the blog is that it is a blog claiming the name Scripture Thoughts. By very definition of the title one would expect to find blog posts on thoughts concerning what scripture has stated, yet I have yet to see one blog posts come forth that has anything to do with scripture, but rather seems to be centered on quoting certain men in order too prove a premillennial view of scripture or to show that the Reformed faith is not true.

In the latest blog posts the author of this blog attempted to show that the early church fathers taught a premillennial view, yet the author of the blog never quotes any early church fathers, but rather quotes from John Walvoord and Mal Couch. I attempted to engage the author of this blog, but was instead accused of diverting the discussion. Also when I pulled out the Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs the author of the blog decided to shut down the comment section. Did the comment section get shut down because I was rude? No. If one reads my comments they will see that I was very gracious in all my responses. So the only reason one could conclude that the comment section was shut down is because the author of this blog did not want their quotes examined by the early church fathers.

The reason for my posts today is to first and foremost refute the assumption that quotes by men are the deciding factor on whether or not a doctrine is true. I am going to produce several articles that began with counter quotes and move towards showing what scripture states on the matter of the millennium. I pray that those reading will be blessed and edified and that whether one agrees with me or not they will still see that my approach to the question of a premillennial kingdom does not stem from what early church fathers have said or from what modern day premillennialists have said, but rather from what saith scripture.

Blessings.

The only sacrifice that is well pleasing to God

January 21, 2013 1 comment

fullerSpeaking on the sacrifice of Christ- Andrew Fuller declared……This is the only sacrifice which is well-pleasing to God. All that went before, were of no account but as they pointed to it; and all the prayers and praises of sinful creatures are no otherwise acceptable than as presented through it. It is not for you to go about to appease the divine displeasure, or to recommend yourself to the Saviour by any efforts of your own; but despairing of help from every other quarter to receive the atonement which Christ hath made. To this you are invited, and that in the most pressing terms. He that made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, hath on this ground committed to his servants the ministry of reconciliation; and they, as ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by them, pray you in Christ’s stead, “Be ye reconciled to God.”

Rev. Andrew Fuller–The Great Question Answered