Archive for the ‘Millennium Falcon’ Category

… and a postscript …

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Yes. The journey of my project continues.

So, not only did Con like my project, but he actually referred to it a few times at ETS!

Context: At the recent ETS conference, 4 MTC lecturers (Con, Gibbo, George, Brian) participated in a session (3 papers and a panel) on Moore College’s biblical theology. This in itself is somewhat remarkable. Out here, I’ve just finished teaching uni students about biblical theology. This is the hermeneutical air we breathe. But over in the US, it’s somewhat unusual to be explicitly teaching this. Hence the interest in the topic.

So, over at ETS, Con gets asked about whether biblical theology and premillennialism can be compatible. Well, he just so happened to have just read a honours thesis on that topic …


Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

So, on the day after my birthday, my project got marked. And now it sits here returned to me.  It’s a good feeling.  2a is now about 90% likely, but that’s ok.  It’s comments like ‘compelling argument’ and ‘original solutions’ that are the reason for the small grin on my face as I write this.

A reflection

Friday, September 30th, 2011

No project is worth doing unless it gets you somewhere. Apart from finding that historic premillennialism has some questions it needs to answer, what else has this done for me?

I’ve developed a lot in my biblical theology. In particular, eschatology. What are we hoping for? I’ve got a better grasp of the kingdom as an eschatlogical motif, because we await the perfect rule of God with us on earth.

I’ve also realised how much biblical theology and eschatology go together. This is probably the reason Sydney is mostly amillennial – the whole now-but-not-yet thing and the people-place-rule thing actually describe biblical eschatology quite well.

But we need to be careful about how we describe our hope – its earthly, and a reformation, but not an escape. Pictures can describe things well, but can badly describe if not understood well. So we might need to nuance our understamding of the now-not-yet picture.

Earth – the place where we live

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

Sometimes, I wonder if people allow the complex to overshadow the simple, because the simple is, well, simple.

Sung Wook Chung, in his paper that argues that reformed covenant theology and premillennialism can meet (reformed theology has generally been amillennial), wants to say that there is something fundamentally different about the new heavens and earth such that God’s promises have to be fulfilled in the current heavens and earth and not the new. He never states why, however.

Thing is, this comes down to just what you think ‘earth’ as a theological, cosmological term means.

So, what does it mean?

Well, its very simple. The earth is where we live. Heaven, cosmologically, is where God is. Earth is where we are.

At this point, it becomes very important that you remember what Graeme Goldsworthy told us about God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule. See, it’s not that God’s people go to God’s place, i.e., heaven. It’s that God comes down to us and dwells with us and makes his place in our place. That’s why we have a bodily resurrection.

Cosmologically, it is not important whether or not the new earth is made of a new material or is a parallel universe or is a completely different N-dimensional space-time. The new earth is where we live, but new. The newness is not about material, but about sin, or rather, the lack of it. Our earth is filled with sin. But it will be freed of that bondage when sin is cleansed from this world. Then the world will be new. It may or may not have had a physical rewrite. It may or may not have suffered massive molecular breakdown and re-formation. But it will still fundamentally be the realm in which humans live, and in which God will dwell also in perfect relationship with those who remain, the faithful.

The context in which God gives his promise is not a couple of bazillion atoms strung together with gravity into a roughly spherical shape orbiting a yellow star in the Perseus arm of an otherwise uninteresting galaxy. No, the context in which God gives his promises is the realm in which humans live. Not the primeval chaos, not the heavens, not sheol, but earth. And that’s why God’s people will live in his place, this ‘realm’, the place where God dwells among men and they live, the new earth, under his perfect rule forever.

Rev 19 – 20: Does Christ even land on earth?

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

One of the major assumptions that surrounds the millennial debate is that Rev 19:11-16 describes the Parousia, and that Rev 20:4-6 happens on earth. I would like to challenge this assumption.

Firstly, in Rev 19, as far as the words go, all that happens is that the heavens open and Behold! Jesus! He doesn’t actually come, go, or move. In fact, as far as the text goes, all he does is sit on a white horse. The sword of his mouth does some slaying, but we’re talking about the word of God here!

Secondly, in Rev 20, there is nothing to indicate that this scene is on the earth. What happens is that John sees a sequence of stuff connected by kai:
1) Thrones (doesn’t say where)
2) ‘they were seated on them’
3) judgment given to ‘them’
4) the souls of the beheaded ones
5) those who did not worship the beast, etc.
6) ‘they lived’
7) ‘they reigned with Christ’
At no point in the sequence does it say that this is on earth. In the next scene we get Satan marching against the ‘camp of the saints’, but this could just as well be a completely different bunch of people than the souls who get thrones. Like, maybe, the peeps still on earth, while the peeps with the thrones, say, sit on thrones in heaven? Most premillennialists put their attention on ezesan (‘they lived’ (summary aorist) or ‘they came to life’ (inceptive aorist)), usually putting more weight on the inceptive aktionsart. However, this means jack if its not specified WHERE they come to life.

This is not a definitive argument. The point is simply to highlight that maybe the wrong questions are being asked.

Eschatology in Isaiah – a millennium or not?

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Premillennialists will frequently point to passages like Isaiah 11:6-9 and Isaiah 65:17-25 when looking for OT support for a millennium. The imagery of creation in harmony and extraordinarily long but not infinite lifespans is indeed quite interesting. But is that what Isaiah thinks he’s pointing to?

The largest chunk of writing on the project I’ve done so far has been investigating passages in Isaiah that talk about his eschatology. It’s not exhaustive, and it’s also the first time I’ve broken 6000 words for a continuous piece of writing. This also means I’m not going to try to boil down all of that 6000 words into this short blog post.

My basic conclusion is that Isaiah points to the time when the rule of Yahweh will be perfect. This is his primary referent. This is his hope.

This does not inherently rule out the existence of a millennium. What it does do is make you have to think more about whether you can use Isaiah to justify the existence of a millennium. You certainly can’t do it on a prima-facie basis, because you’ll be ripping the passages out of context.

Brief thoughts about creation, new creation and the Kingdom of God

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

The basic framework I am currently building works along the axis of biblical theology. Essentially, I’m investigating the connections of creation, new creation and the Kingdom of God in biblical theology so that I can then ask the question, ‘How well does the millennium fit in this?’

Finding allegiances

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

One of the things I’ve expressed before about this project has been the general difficulty of finding out who not only is in the historic premil camp, but who has actually written anything of substance about it. The difficulty has meant that I’ve had to take a different tack – reading through anything and everything written by anyone who is premillennialist and post-trib.

Fortunately, I seem to be on the right track. My project reading has evolved into going through everything by Craig Blomberg and Doug Moo and searching for references to the millennium or eschatology, in addition to GE Ladd, and so far, I’m turning up enough hits to know I can piece together something I can write home about. Who would’ve thought anyone would mention premillennialism in a discussion of the theology of parables? And who would’ve guessed that Doug Moo has a research interest in the created order in NT theology especially with respect ecological concerns? I think I’ll have enough material to get something of substance to PHK in the next two weeks.

Further on the ‘why?’ question

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

There have been times on this project when I’ve felt like I’ve been facing down the Death Star. However, thanks to last night, I feel like R2 has just given me the schematics and discovered the thermal exhaust port. Now I need Jan Dodonna to give me a flight plan to the trench …

You see, the exegetical reasons that are pro-millennium are well-rehearsed and haven’t changed for years. Premillennialism is, basically, the most straightforward reading of the narrative flow of Rev 19-20. In this way, this Death Star juggernaut is well equipped to handle attacks by capital ships.

But the theological reasons are not well-rehearsed. This is the approach that I am mostly trying to take in my project. This Death Star ain’t equipped to handle a fighter attack. Premillennialists argue that the Bible’s end time schema allows for or is capable of having a millennium. In addition, they argue that a millennium provides for a better fulfilment of various OT promises and prophecies. However, on that front, debate has largely been about OT hermeneutics and just what it is the prophets were pointing ahead to. But in all this, as I noted yesterday, there seems to be a key underlying assumption that the fulfilment needs to happen on this earth and not the new earth. That is, there is such a discontinuity between the two that fulfilment in the latter does not count for the former.

At this point, I now insert the trench I’ve found. It’s the theological concept of the land. By this, I don’t just mean dry ground, but land as in eretz, the earth, created order. One of the things that Provan hinted at last night was that there is a connection between the quality of the land and of the created order and the quality of the Kingdom rule, if I may put it that way. So, in the beginning, everything is hunky dory, but the Fall also introduces a curse onto the land. The various blessings and cursings for obedience and disobedience include statements about the quality of land, usually stuff like plague and famine. Promises of the restoration of Israel include promises of the re-ordering of the land and of animals as well.
Thus, the coming of the Kingdom of God includes with it the restoration of the created order. This would imply that the restoration of the Adamic order (see last post) is not about restoration in this earth, but about restoration of this earth. Now, given that the millennial kingdom is not the complete fulfilment of all things – Satan still needs to be trashed at the end – this also implies that the restoration of the earth is not complete. Fine, it’s the millennial kingdom. But! is this even part of the program, this partial fulfilment? What is left wrong with the land at this point? Is the ground still cursed? Because I don’t think premillennialists see this as what the millennial kingdom will hold. It will be a veritable golden age. But what is missing? Is it, that the Adamic order of creation is inherently lacking? Or, as I want to suggest, that premillennialists unwittingly want to have their cake and eat it too? That is, that they want the millennial kingdom to be the paradise of the pre-fall creation situation, but they also want there to be something more that justifies a dissolution and re-creation.

There’s still a lot of turrets, TIE fighters, and Lord Vader to negotiate, but I think I’m locked on to a critical theological weakness here. Time to use the Force …

Why do historic premils have a millennium at all?

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

This is the question that amillennials ask any premils, especially historic premils. Why, if we are so similar on many other fronts, do we disagree on this?

I think I have found something of an answer.

In his chapter in A Case for Historic Premillennialism entitled “Toward the Reformed and Covenantal Theology of Premillennialism”, Sung Wook Chung gives two basic reasons why:
1) Adam’s dominion was over the earth, this physical earth. The restoration of the dominion over earth by a human must also, then be over this physical earth.
2) The covenants of God (as illustrated in the text by the Adamic and also the Abrahamic covenants. I, like others not of a Reformed covenant theology bent, have issue with the notion of a covenant pre-Noah, but let’s not push the point here) are given in the context of this current earth, and so must be fulfilled in this current earth, and not the new, recreated earth.

Both of these reasons rely on one thing: that the fulfilment of the promises of God in Jesus Christ must be fulfilled on this earth. This supposes or suggests a few more things:
1) that Jesus has not fulfilled these things previously or now, or if he has, only in a partial, incomplete manner which will be corrected in the millennium
2) that Jesus does not fulfil these things in the new creation because the promises cannot or do not refer to or look to the new creation

The latter one is the one that seems most brought out in the presentation in the book.

The issues, then, seem to be:
1) the question of the scope of OT covenant, promise, and fulfilment
2) if, how, when (etc.) does Jesus fulfil these
3) the question of the continuity and discontinuity of the earth and the re-created earth