Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No Answer Here Either (Sigh)

Another issue raised by the gotquestions.org site asks, "What is amillennialism?" Preterism is generally regarded as amillemenial, though I think the term is a bit misleading, for it implies something entirely missing. Rather, preterism regards Christ as ruling now, and since 70 AD, so that the "millennium" is now taking place. Thankfully, gotquestions.org does at least acknowledge this.

So how do they answer this view? As before, it's not much to impress. We are told, "In order for God to keep His promises to Israel and His covenant with David (2 Samuel 7:8-16, 23:5; Psalm 89:3-4), there must be a literal, physical kingdom on this earth. " From there we are issued as series of dire warnings about doubting God, etc. but we're not given any sort of exegesis for those passages, which raises red flags right away.

Checking them out, the first passage is a promise to David that his own kingdom will be perpetual, but nothing in the passage says anything about the ruling throne having to be "on earth." It says the throne of David will be established forever, but if we take that as "on earth" then there's no way to see that throne established anywhere during the Babylonian exile, or in the first centuries BC-AD, or during the period after Jerusalem's destruction.


The second passage - er, verse -- speaks of an everlasting covenant with David, but there's no "on earth" in there either, and the same problems attend as above

Last -- well, it's bad enough to use the Psalms for literalist doctrine; but it's the same as above, nothing new, and no "literal, physical kingdom on earth." Maybe gotquestions.org has found another Dead Sea Scroll that says otherwise.


From there, though, we are given a series of passages said to prove a literal, earthly kingdom, but even if we grant the literality of each, none is mutually exclusive of the preterist/amillenial view. For example:

Christ's feet will actually touch the Mount of Olives prior to the establishment of His kingdom (Zechariah 14:4, 9) -- yes, and what? If we do take this literally -- and I have my doubts of that, but have not looked into it in depth yet -- why does this indicate a "literal, physical kingdom on earth"? What? Jesus can't get off the throne in heaven and split the Mount, then go back to the throne in heaven when he's done? Sorry -- there's nothing to this by gotquestions.org but assuming what needs to be proven.

During the kingdom, the Messiah will execute justice and judgment on the earth (Jeremiah 23:5-8). Er, no -- once again, there's no mention of "on the earth" in the sense that this is where the kingdom administration will be located, much less for a millennial period. Again, it assumes what it needs to prove.

The kingdom is described as being under heaven (Daniel 7:13-14, 27). Really? Not in the first passage, sorry -- "under" isn't there, though the Son of Man is enthroned in heaven. The second does say that sovereignty over all kingdoms under heaven is given to the saints, but that also does not say where the admin center is. (Here's a tip: as a preterist, I think Christ rules earth from heaven, even now.)

The prophets foretold of dramatic earthly changes during the kingdom (Acts 3:21; Isaiah 35:1-2, 11:6-9, 29:18, 65:20-22; Ezekiel 47:1-12; Amos 9:11-15). Yes, I'm sure. And (granting for the sake of argument that these all apply) Jesus is just as much able to effect those changes from a throne in heaven as one on earth -- regardless of what millennial view one holds.

The chronological order of events in Revelation indicates the existence of an earthly kingdom prior to the conclusion of world history (Revelation 20). It does? Well, sorry, but a vague reference to one whole chapter doesn't do the job. But I find nothing in that chapter to say that Jesus will have his royal seat on terra firma.

Quite frankly, gotquestions.org's treatment of these matters leaves much to be desired. They close with the same vague charges of inconsistent hermenuetics (but just as undemonstrated as last entry), forced reinterpretations, and warnings of too-subjective exegesis, all of which is said to be avoided in favor of a "normal" exegesis. But as I noted Monday, I think the real problem is that the dispensationalists aren't as educated as they need to be -- and honestly, this treatment does little to persuade me otherwise.

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