April 06, 2011

yet another "End Time" perspective

There are a couple of common "Eschatologies" (doctrine of the End Times) that most Christians are familiar with - one is known as "Futurism" (which would include Mike Bickle and IHOP, Calvary Chapel and the Left Behind Series) and another is called "Preterism" (which is being advocated now by Bethel Church in Redding, R.C. Sproul and C. Peter Wagner as well as many "Amillenialist" scholars).

Futurism argues that the majority of the prophecies in Scripture will be fulfilled in the "future" (i.e. Daniel, Matthew 24 and Revelation). Preterism argues that most (if not all) of those same prophecies were fulfilled in the "past". A third position is called "Historicism" which may not be so well known. This position views those same prophecies as being fulfilled "throughout Christian history".

Since this 3rd position (which was the dominate Protestant one at one point), is not well known, I have included before a rather lengthy summary below. I will say that I personally do not subscribe to any one viewpoint, but appreciate aspects and elements of each one.

Source: End Time Delusions – Steve Wohlberg (Treasure House Press, 2004)

A. The Historicist position on the origins of the Preterist and Futurist positions as they subsequently developed.

Context: In the midst of the Protestant Reformation when the Roman Catholic Church was losing a lot of ground and was being identified as the “Antichrist”…

”papal Rome rose to its own defense in what became known as the Counter Reformation…During its many sessions (which continued until 1563), the leaders of the Vatican develop a highly sophisticated “game plan” to counteract the reformers. Up to this point, Rome’s main method of attack had been largely frontal – the open burning of Bibles and of heretics. Yet this type of warfare only confirmed Protestant convictions that papal Rome was indeed the very beast which would “make war with the saints” (Revelation 13:7). A new tactic was needed, something less obvious. This is where the Jesuits came in….

At the Council of Trent, papal leaders and Jesuits brainstormed about how to counteract Protestantism and bring defectors back to the mother church. Behind closed doors, they decide this was to be done, not only through the Inquisition and torture, but also through theology. What kind of theology? Here’s the answer: By reinterpreting the prophecies about “the man of sin,” “the little horn,” and “the beast”!

Two very intelligent Spanish Jesuits rose to the challenge, Luis de Alcasar (1554-1613) of Seville and Francisco Ribera (1537-1591) of Salamanca. Their strategy was, in a nutshell, one of reapplication and diversion, yet they went in opposite directions. …Alcasar decided to apply the Bible’s antichrist prophecies to the ancient past while Ribera applied them to the distant future…By reapplying these prophecies to the past and to the future instead of to the present, these two tricky Jesuit scholars sought to divert the prophetic finger light-years away from the Vatican. Their views quickly became official positions within the Roman Church – even though these two views contradicted each other!

….[George Eldon Ladd concurs saying] ‘towards the close of the century of the Reformation, tow of her [Rome’s] most learned doctors set themselves to the task, each endeavoring by different means to accomplish the same end, namely, that of diverting men’s minds from perceiving the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Antichrist in the Papal system. The Jesuit Alcasar devoted himself to bring into prominence the Preterist method of interpretation to show the prophecies of Antichrist were fulfilled before the Popes ever ruled at Rome, and therefore could no apply to the Papacy. On the other hand the Jesuit Ribera tried to set aside the application of the prophecies to Papal Power by bringing out the Futurist system,…

In 1590, Ribera published a commentary on the Revelation as a counter-interpretation to the prevailing view among Protestants which identified the Papacy with the Antichrist. Ribera applied all of Revelation but the earliest chapters to the end time rather than to the history of the Church’ [The Historicist understanding and interpretation] (quoting Ladd, pgs. 37-8, The Blessed Hope: A biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture, Eerdmans, 1956)

Even the Catholic writer, G.S. Hitchcock, confirmed the origin of these anti-Protestan counter-theories:

‘The Futurist School, founded by the Jesuit Ribera in 1591, looks for Antichrist, Babylon, and a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, at the end of the Christian Dispensation.

The Praeterist School, founded by the Jesuit Alcasar in 1614, explains Revelation by the Fall of Jerusalem or by the fall of Pagan Rome in 410 A.D. (Hitchcock, pg. 488, The Beast and the Little Horn 7)

[summarizing Preterism/ the Preterist position]…Preterism sees the majority (or all) of the prophecies found in Matthew 24 and the Book of Revelation as having already been fulfilled in either the fall of Jerusalem in 70A.D. or in the fall of Rome. For preterists, “the end of the world” usually means “the end of the Jewish world.” Full-preterists believe even the second coming of Jesus Christ somehow mystically occurred in 70A.D., whereas partial-preterists still believe in a future, literal return of the Savior. Concerning the core issue – who is the antichrist? – preterists usually see the Roman Emperor Nero as the number-one candidate. Compared with futurism and historicism, preterism has always been a minority viewpoint within the church, yet it is now making increased inroads in 21st century Christianity.

[summarizing Futurism/the Futurist position]…futurism usually sees the majority of Revelation’s prophecies (from Chapter 4 onward) as yet on the horizon. Concerning the antichrist, instead of preterism’s application to Nero in the past, futurism generally applies the prophecies…to a single, yet-future Mr. Serpent…Compared to preterism and historicism, futurism has by far the most adherents in the 21st century as the majority report.

[summarizing Historicism/the Historicist position] In staunch opposition to both preterism and futurism is historicism, which is what the vast majority of Protestants used to teach. In essence, historicism teaches strait-forward, chronological progression by saying that the major prophecies of Daniel and Revelation find fulfillment throughout Christian history while pointing toward the climatctic, visible second coming of our Savior. Historicism also places special emphasis on the ongoing struggle between Jesus Christ and satan inside the Christian Church… [the author goes onto to list the following Protestants who held this view – Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, Zwingli, Wesley, Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, John Foxe, Matthew Henry, Spurgeon, and Martin Lloyd-Jones].

In the minds of true historicists, sincere preterists and futurists have had at least one of their eyes poke out concerning this unquestionable historical reality. [referring to the errors within Roman Catholicism, especially in the Middle Ages]. Futurism, which is by far the most popular school today, possesses the incredible ability to sweep 1,500 years of living prophetic history under the proverbial rug by inserting its infamous GAP into the visions of Daniel and Revelation. In a nutshell, the GAP or parenthesis theory teaches that when Jerusalem or Rome fell, prophecy stopped, only to continue again near the time of the rapture. As we have already seen, futurism also stops the clock between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel 9:24-27…According to most Futurists (and Preterists), how many prophecies were relevant fulfilled during the Dark Ages when literally millions of God’s people were burnt to ashes in wars against the saints? None. Zilch. Zero. Historicists see something terribly wrong with this picture!

At its best, historicism also recognizes that there were indeed prophecies fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem (thus preterists aren’t all wrong), yet it also stands for the reality of future events such as the mark of the beast (see Revelation 14:9-12), the seven last plagues (see Revelation 16), the battle of Armageddon (see Revelation 16:16), the return of Jesus Christ (see Revelation 14:14-16), a 1000-year period (see Revelation 20), the final judgment (see Revelation 20:11-13), the lake of fire (see Revelation 20:15) and the new earth (see Revelation 21:1). Thus futurists have some truth also. Yet again, the hallmark of historicism as a prophetic system is its ability to discern prophecy fulfilled in history…with NO GAPS!

…Think about it. Preterists say most (if not all) of God’s great prophecies came to a screeching halt almost two thousand years ago. Does this make sense? Why would God inspire such a wonderful Book as “Revelation” and then stop its application around 70 A.D. (or with the fall of Rome), when He knew time would continue much longer? In essence, preterism’s view is: From Nero until now there’s nothing! How about futurism? Is it any more reasonable? Why would God leave His Church “prophecyless” from John’s day until the end times? To futurists, there’s hardly anything from the resurrection to the rapture to be prophetically fulfilled. Futurism leaps over Rome’s demise, the great apostasy, Islamic origins, papal power, the Dark Ages, the Inquisition, and the Reformation almost entirely. [I would add the genocide by the Mongols, the Black Death, the Ottoman Empire, World War I and II, the Atomic Age and resurgent Islamic radicalism] Historicism responds, “Wait a minute! This makes no sense.” With Holy Ghost perception, historicists not only see mighty prophecies fulfilled through church history – in papal and Islamic scourges…the activity of antichrist.”

(End Time Delusions, pgs. 113-120)

April 05, 2011

when we takes the risks, things happen in malls

this past weekend has been a crazy time of Kingdom activity. we had a team here from Bethel Church, and so it is actually very challenging to even begin to try and remember all that we saw the Lord do. We did 4 church services, a couple of house meetings and outreach too.

I will comment briefly on the outreach because it fits best with the vision of what we are trying to advocate, model and encourage as a Joel 2 Generation culture.

a group of 20 of us broke up into 6 or 7 teams and headed out into a mall for only 1 1/2 hours of treasure hunting/power-prophetic "spilling". What amazed me when we gathered later to recount the works that God performed and debrief a little bit was just how many miracles of healing, and accurate words of knowledge and prophecy happened in such a short period of time. These are truly days of such increase and breakthrough and so much of the Body of Christ seems (at least to me) to be unaware of it.

the group I was with saw headaches healed (a couple), two back conditions healed, all the pain and inability associated with arthritis in a leg healed (she was crying in gratitude), and then another back with scoliosis also changed drastically. we also saw some burning, irritated eyes feel completely cool and cold. a young muslim man walking with a cane due to foot pain was pain free after prayer and I checked up with him an hour after we prayed. there was more and yet I can't remember. the Gospel was being shared, church connections were being made. it was just a lot of Kingdom fun.

the other teams came back with many more stories of God's miraculous intervention. many other healings - including muslim men and women.

the moral of this story is that when you go to malls, OPEN YOUR KINGDOM EYES and you will see the same types of things happening. yes, we are required to take risks; to step out in faith and love people intentionally; to expect that when Spirit-filled believers pray in Jesus' Name for unbelievers the likelihood of nothing happening is very unlikely.