All Israel, Part 10 – Concluding Remarks on Contemporary Thought

IX-Concluding Remarks on Contemporary Thought

This book has been concerned with the task of presenting a proper understanding of Paul’s words in Romans chapter eleven, over and against many false ones. It is revealed there is a serious problem within the Christian church today on its understanding on the subject of Israel. While everyone is entitled to have their own opinion of matters not directly stated in the Bible, this is not one of them. We live in a day in which Christian orthodoxy has been twisted in every direction. There are admittedly, numerous reasons for why this has happened. We cannot blame all the church’s doctrinal woes on a misunderstanding of this one (Rom. 11:25-27), or any other single text of Scripture. No doctrine is developed or destroyed from the interpretation of a single text of Scripture, at least that should not be the case. Certainly, we have not tried to do this ourselves. Nevertheless, there are a vast number of issues surrounding it in Scripture. It is clear from this that a proper concern regarding it is justified.

The popular acceptance of Paul’s words “all Israel” to mean the state of Israel, is of major concern as this has far reaching consequences not only from a doctrinal point of view, but from a geopolitical one as well. Therefore, this matter concerning the state of Israel, when it is taken from Paul’s words in the book of Romans, is one that if left to itself, will lead down the road of further decline in the churches thinking. If Jesus denounced the earthly dreams of the Jews in His day, what on earth are we doing readapting them today? Dispensationalism is a peculiar sect that has virtually taken over a large segment of mainstream Evangelical thought in our day. But what about the Reformed church that claims to be theologically Covenant minded? It is utterly illogical, as well as unbiblical for Reformed believers to view these words in Paul’s epistle in the same way as Dispensationalists do.

This doctrine is an anti Christian doctrine. Let us say it again, this teaching that views Paul’s words as teaching the modern state of Israel as prophetic fulfillment leads one away from Jesus Christ, not to Him. And it serves as an example of how error works in the church. When a paradigm occurs on a particular matter, which does not come from a sound interpretation of Scripture, this serves as a prescription for eventual disaster. We do not say this to suggest that everyone who holds this idea from Paul’s words in Romans chapter eleven is an apostate. What we do mean to say is, this is an error that leads in that direction. All one has to do is view the history of the church to see how this works. Take for instance a popular error of a similar nature that came into the church following the days of the apostles. Paul spoke of certain apostolic traditions that the church should keep (I Cor. 11:2; II Thess. 2:15, 3:6). How these words were misinterpreted in the church after the first century!

These words of Paul were believed to imply there was some unwritten oral tradition the church should follow when the apostles were gone. From this we have the most apostate organization on earth, the Roman Catholic church. Papal authority is built upon this misinterpretation. The Pope claims to have a special dispensation from Christ, to determine what the church should do and believe, apart from Scripture itself. It follows a certain type of logic too. If there is an apostolic tradition that is not contained in the word of God, then it is necessary to have an apostolic succession in the church in order to teach and maintain it. And what did the Roman Catholic church become from this? It became a religio-political organization which was founded upon dead, unbiblical ritualism. Also, it became an organization that concerned itself with the sending of crusaders into the Middle East, to fight with Muslims and Jews over possession of territory. Later on in its history, it did the same thing as the Muslims did in the Middle East. Catholic missionaries went to Central and South America, forcibly conscripting people into their faith at the end of a sword, while soldiers pillaged their possessions.

Tradition always requires a philosophy to undergird it. So Aristotle became the great Philosopher of the Roman Catholic church. Because of this, their entire religion is naturalistic, based upon pagan notions of God, creation, cause, and reality. The great eleventh century doctor of the Roman church, Thomas Aquinas, learned of Aristotle through the study of his writings and adopted them into his Theology. Aquinas obtained Aristotles writings from Muslim apologists who used them to support their way of thinking. So Islam is based more on tradition and philosophy than anything else. Muslim clerics had preserved Aristotles writings, and incorporated these views into their own religion. This is why Islam is based upon the same sort of impersonal, naturalistic view of God as Roman Catholicism.[1] So the philosophy undergirding Thomism is also built upon Aristotelian cosmology. How did this all happen, but through a superficial interpretation of Paul’s words in the early church?

The depth of evil that came from this error, well nigh destroyed true Christian faith in the Medieval church. If it was not for the Lord’s intervention in history through the Protestant Reformation, who knows how dark things would have become in the world? We have as a church over the last several hundred years, fallen once again to doctrinal errors of huge proportions. The advent of Liberalism on the one hand, and Dispensationalism on the other has seen to this. Both of these views have served to degrade the church and its witness in the world. While the Liberal is concerned about social issues in society, the Dispensationalist is concerned about political issues in the Middle East. At one time, these two religious sects were antithetical to each other. Now, they have both come full-circle in order to complement each other, even if for different reasons. How was this done, but by the literal, superficial, false interpretation of Scripture? The Liberals and the Fundamentalists deny Christ in the same false way they treat the Bible.[2]

Fundamentalists have done this through the Theology of Dispensationalism. This comes from a view of Scripture that is based on an ultra literalistic interpretation of many passages of Scripture. Dispensationalism is a completely man-centered way of thinking that focuses on mans activities in relation to God, at various points in redemptive history. Man centeredness is humanistic at its core, not truly theistic. It is also the foundational philosophy behind the Dispensational Eschatology. They have managed to develop an entire world view around certain fantastic notions regarding a coming Jewish millennial kingdom. Anyone who has read or is aware of books from people like Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, and John Walvoord, knows exactly what we are talking about.[3] These ideas have laid the ground work for an entire modern political movement in America that has led us deeper and deeper into armed conflict in the world. A superficial, false interpretation of Paul’s words “all Israel” has provided the modern church with its tradition of religiously motivated militarism.

It is common to hear the most extreme sort of statement made by leading Dispensationalists against those who are Israel’s enemies, as though citizenship in America was tantamount to citizenship there. These same folk think nothing of openly talking about the propriety of Israel bombing one or other of their neighbor’s as a matter of principle, something they have actually done on several occasions.[4] Dispensationalists accuse anyone who criticizes such things as antisemitic. This writer has noted, while listening to a certain Fundamentalist radio station, a tremendous amount of indignation directed toward those who are in opposition to their beloved kingdom, sometimes committing horrendous acts of terrorism. However, the same said station never utters a peep about the indiscriminate bombing of densely populated areas in Gaza City by Israel, of the sort that have accounted for thousands of civilian deaths.[5] We are talking about women and children. In fact, Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly termed such behavior as “mowing the grass” once in a while. One never hears outrage from Dispensationalists over such remarks.

We conclude that no Christian should support such actions from either side of the conflict in the Middle East. Furthermore, no Christian should imbibe in the false doctrine that supports one side against another, as if Scripture required it of them. It is readily admitted here that Israel certainly has the right to defend itself against external attacks against its citizens. That is not what is at issue here. What is at issue here is the false philosophy of Zionism, whether it is Jewish or Christian in character. This is a philosophy that envisions a future Jewish one world empire run from Jerusalem. This is exactly what those who believe in a Jewish state modeled after the Old Testament theocracy is about. It is the real reason that Christian Zionists are willing to give Christ, the church and the kingdom over to a political entity such as the state of Israel. They envision a world theocracy that they themselves will not be subject too someday. They also think there is some personal blessing to be obtained for giving the kingdom over to unregenerate Jews!

World domination has always been the goal of every antichristian ruler throughout history. The book of Daniel is a popular source of futuristic millennial doctrine, but it also shows the matter of world dominion in its proper light. In it we find the antichristian figure of Nebuchadnezzar exalting himself and his kingdom on earth. So God deprived him of his senses because of his arrogance, and put him in a field for a time to behave like a dumb animal (Dan.4:30-33). Then we read “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation.” (Verse 34). So what is it that Nebuchadnezzar came to understand about world dominion? That it is heavenly in character, not earthly, and that it transcends generations, ie, specific epochs of time.

Christians who read this text in Daniel properly should gain some understanding too. The point of it is not that Nebuchadnezzar become a born-again Bible believer, even if he gave the verbal honor that is due to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the end (verse 37). We see no evidence that Nebuchadnezzar converted to Judaism from this. So we conclude that not only did this not happen, it would have defeated the character he typified in Scripture as an antichrist, though it is his kingdom rather than he who is represented as the antithesis of the church (Rev. 14:8, 16:19, 18:2,10,21). Everyone not only in heaven, but also in hell will do this some day (Phil. 2:9-11). So if this were true of Nebuchadnezzar, he would’ve converted to Judaism rather than suffer eternal ruin (Jer. 25:12-14). No, the point of it is that Nebuchadnezzar came to understand the utter impossibility of world dominion ever happening as he had envisioned it, and his own futility at ever imagining such a thing.

The very real and sad fact is that the world is now working toward the utopian dream of a one world society. Instead of a single nation becoming the dominant world empire, now there is interest in uniting all nations under one umbrella organization. There is quite a bit of diverse opinion on how this will ultimately take place. The spirit behind this dream however, is universally shared by most of the world. We have reached a time in history when men are drunk with pride over technological advances. They tread therefore, upon every sacred thing there is, in the pursuit of this utopian dream. Jesus said to expect this sort of antichristian one world society to occur. “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matt. 24:24). Later on the apostle Paul said “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (II Thess. 2:3,4).

This antichristian society will have an antichristian political leader who will exalt himself and His kingdom over God just as Nebuchadnezzar did before he was put down. But notice what Paul says about the antichrist, “that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” We will not speculate here what temple Paul was referring to, whether the literal one in Jerusalem, or the figurative one in the church. However, if anyone is looking for Jesus to arrive in Jerusalem in Person, in a rebuilt temple, all of which has no biblical truth to it whatsoever, we know from Paul that this is a false Christ. “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (verse 11). We conclude therefore, that chiliasm of the Dispensational sort could very well be the lie that will mislead people into a worldwide system of antichristian Devil worship.

So as not to let the other culprit in this error of earthly dominionism of the hook, we now turn our attention and criticism closer to home, toward our own circles, the Reformed church. It has been pointed out that Chiliasm with all its attendant errors is not confined to Dispensationalism alone. Puritan Postmillennialism has been on the ascendency for some time now and it has contributed greatly to the false paradigm of an earthly concept of “all Israel.” It is responsible for providing several strains of misleading thought about God’s kingdom. This is due to an incorrect addition placed upon the covenant view of the kingdom. By adding a civil component to God’s covenant, one that Scripture gives no warrant, the error of earthly dominionism then arises. We must begin to consider now its most virulent form outside of Roman Catholicism itself.

We refer to the militant philosophy of the Postmillennial ideal known as Theonomic Reconstruction. Theonomy means God’s law, and is the theological foundation of the reconstruction movement. Reconstruction on the other hand is the method of imposing it on the world. It is a view of the kingdom that shares some of the same literalism that Dispensationalism does, but in a different way.[6] Dispensationalism frames its theology around the Theocratic kingdom of Old Testament Israel. Its primary concern is reestablishment of the land of Israel as the primary promise of God given to Abraham and his descendants (Gen 15:18). Joined with this is the Mosaic theocracy that culminated in the Davidic kingdom. The Mosaic theocracy is summed up in the all-inclusive term law. This is what the Theonomist is all about too.

Whereas, Dispensationalists now view the law as fulfilled in Christ (Matt. 5:17-19), and therefore, not applicable to the Christian, it does see its return to Israel in the Millennial kingdom. Theonomy on the other hand, interprets Jesus’ words in Matthew concerning the fulfillment and perpetuity of the law as applicable to the world. Therefore, the world must become a theocratic kingdom as the result of a Postmillennial advance throughout the church age, one that culminates in the return of Jesus to rule it. Its insistence on this is derived from a transferral of Israel’s theocratic kingdom under the Mosaic institutions, over to the Christian church. For instance, Theonomists would have the civil authorities stoning law breakers to death as it was done in the Old Testament. Included in this list would be not only murderers, but idolaters and homosexuals too. Also, any Christian who does not espouse every doctrine of the Theonomists, would be in the same position too, just as it was under Roman Catholicism in the Middle Ages.

In order for this to occur, the world must be made subject to the church. This would involve the civil authorities who would enforce Theonomy upon an unregenerate populace. It is important to note here that Theonomists view submission to the institution of the church, down to the least “jot” and “tittle” of its ordinances to be essential to salvation. This is the same mantra used by Roman Catholics for centuries. We do not deny the chief way Christ calls His elect into the kingdom is through the centrality of gospel preaching in the church. And, that worship as it is instituted in the church through the regulative principle is the chief purpose for which it exists. Nevertheless, salvation is according to the new birth apart from any means save God’s sovereign grace, not membership in the church nor the use of its ordinances (Luke 23:43).

So, before the civil covenant can be successfully enacted, the church must be made subject to Theonomy, therefore, it must undergo reconstruction too. This is in fact what has been taking place for a number of years. Theonomy has almost completely taken control of the two leading Presbyterian denominations, the Orthodox Presbyterian church and the Presbyterian Church in America. The way this has been implemented is, through the efforts of a number of educated, zealous teachers, who do their work in conjunction with several organizations that have been designed specifically toward this end. Men such as Gary North and Greg Bahnsen come to mind as two of the leading intellectuals of this movement. North has written volumes on Theonomic exposition so large his literary production is dwarfed only by the Puritans. Bahnsen, a highly regarded Theologian and Philosopher, has provided much of the movements present world view.

Here is where a very large and very dangerous difference lies between Theonomy and Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism has been since its beginning inundated with aberrant teachings too numerous to mention. Theonomy on the other hand is Calvinistic. Anyone better taught from Scripture oftentimes will more readily see through the errors of Dispensationalism. It makes their fantastic assertions about Eschatology ever the more suspect. But Theonomy is not like that. The promoters of Theonomy are generally conservative and orthodox in their views of salvation, subscribing to one or other of the Reformed confessions.[7] This makes the poison of their errors more insidious. Here’s the reason why. While Dispensationalism tends to be antinomian, claiming the moral law has no binding relevance on a believer’s life and practice, historic Calvinism rightly recognizes the moral law as a believer’s duty. Calvin called this the threefold distinction of the law. First, it condemns a sinner and shows them their need of Christ. Second, it directs a believer in their duty toward God. And third, it condemns the world of unrighteousness.

Theonomy not only applies the moral law rightly in this same threefold manner, but includes the civil law in it too. Every Christian knows the struggle of trying to determine what is right and wrong concerning citizenship in this world, under civil authority. We have already addressed the tendency Christians have toward a desire to impose Ecclesiastical authority over society. So the Christian is often beset with difficulty in trying to determine what, if any of the theocratic laws pertaining to Israel may still have relevance for today. For instance, should a homosexual be put to death by the civil authorities as it was done in Israel? When Christians live under tyrannical governments, these kinds of questions become almost academic, due to the fact they have no control over things. But here in America, where some semblance of democratic opinion may be exercised at the polls, it is entirely a different matter. Therefore, we have witnessed more than two hundred years of debate and controversy between secularism vs. theism in our culture.

Theonomy comes along with its well thought out, seemingly biblical world view and says that society should be governed by God’s law. This is all well and good for it is clear in Scripture that the law will be the standard by which God “will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31). Every person will be judged according to their works under the moral law of God. However, nowhere in Scripture is there any indication the civil law of Israel is perpetual and therefore, should be imposed on the world. So, to the wary Christian who does not know which way to turn in judging matters as they are in society, Theonomy seems to be the plausible answer. What Christian is there that does not want to see the government respect the Bible? We look with horror and grief at how this once so-called Christian land has now become a Pagan travesty.

So Theonomy presents a tacit endorsement of the Bible as applied to civil society. How does it do this? First, as already stated, by reconstructing the church as a temporally theocratic organization. The church is the kingdom of God on earth. But there is no one organization that is the sole representative of that kingdom, like Israel was. Most Theonomists are Presbyterians who yearn to see a return to seventeenth century Puritanism. The Puritans were great men in many respects and all Calvinists are grateful for their contribution to the Reformed Protestant church. But the Puritans were far from perfect. Even more, they were far from being monolithic in what they believed and practiced. Many of the Puritans were Congregationalists, not Presbyterians. Also, The Puritan experiment as it is called, both in England and America was an utter failure. Puritan government was often harsh and unreasonable. All one has to do is read about Cotton Mather and the Salem witch trials. Theonomy would reinstate the kind of relationship between church and state that led to that ungodly debacle, which by the way, served to turn millions away from the Reformed faith toward Enlightenment skepticism.

Second, Theonomy focuses heavily upon Economic reform as a means of reconstructing society. There is no doubt that economics is a major theme that undergirds a biblical world view. Economic terminology pervades the entirety of Scripture, especially when it comes to Soteriology. For that reason, it is safe to say that economics is a theme that is inherent to God’s creation, and subsequent providence throughout history. Secularism today ignores what Scripture reveals as God’s economy concerning trade, value, debt, redemption, and many other related economic concepts. So they construct a manmade theory of economy that is imposed on society, one that is completely false and ungodly. Theonomists are prolific writers on this theme and there is much they have to say that shows what is proper economy within God’s created order. But the fatal flaw in trying to implement it is this is a fallen world. It will never succeed this side of glory because men are corrupt.

The antichrist, whether it should be understood as a literal person or an institution of men, will impose an economic system on the world too. In fact, it is more accurate to say the present world system with its global economy is the antichristian kingdom in progressive development. All things are presently veering away from Christ toward this kingdom. Education is not the problem with this system sin is the problem. It is a system designed to exploit the poor, rob the middle class, and reward the rich. It is a system designed to provide government subsidies to corporations who profit from it, but in turn pass on their losses to the taxpayers. It is a system that takes from the productive to give to some privileged underclass through entitlements. The fallacy of Theonomy, indeed, of Postmillennialism of any kind, is that this will ever change for the better. Perhaps in their dreams it will, but not according to biblical reality (James 2:5-7). The Christian is to live in this corrupt world, as though living in the kingdom, not fighting with carnal weapons in order to impose a pseudo heaven on earth (verses 8-13; II Cor. 10:3-5). There will be no latter day glory of the kind Theonomists imagine on earth before the Lord returns.

This brings us to the subject at hand, the state of Israel. Postmillennialism, whether it is Theonomic or not, believes in a literal return of Israel to Palestine, if for no other reason than for it to become part of their worldwide kingdom. Israel is presumed to be but one nation among many that will be converted to Christendom as part of the civil covenant.[8] Admittedly, Postmillennialism is in disagreement with Dispensationalism about many things to do with Israel. But both are in complete agreement over Paul’s words in Romans eleven being futuristic and covenantal in terms of Gods promise to Abraham’s physical children. We conclude therefore, that Postmillennialism is just as much in error as Dispensationalism about not only Israel, but about God’s kingdom in general.[9]

This is where the subtlety of the Postmillennial error begins to appear. Dispensationalists tell us they interpret Scripture literally, and therefore, arrive at their literal yet false conclusions accordingly. They are at least consistent in their method of interpretation when it comes to their understanding of Paul’s words concerning “all Israel.” If every word spoken to physical Jews in the Old Testament should be interpreted literally now in the present age then this makes sense, even if they are wrong. Going even further, if Dispensationalists are right in their method, then they have won every argument made against them concerning the present state of Israel. While it is true that many problems can be found in the Dispensational interpretation of Scripture, every one of their errors comes from an honest attempt to be consistent.

Postmillennialists on the other hand contradict themselves. They follow the analogy of Scripture properly according to Covenant Theology, by interpreting Old Testament passages such as Isaiah 59:20,21 as pertaining to the church as spiritual Israel. Then they turn around and take the same text quoted by Paul in Romans 11:26,27 and apply it to the nation of Israel in Palestine.[10] This is a complete violation of the Scripture principle of interpretation, which must adhere to the biblical law of logic. If B cannot be A at the same time, and in the same sense according to God (Heb. 6:13-18), how can a single text that is used in reference to Israel have two simultaneously different interpretations? This is Postmodern nonsense at its best. Scripture is always consistent with itself when it makes a distinction between two antithetical concepts. Several examples of this are law and grace, liberty and love, flesh and spirit. If Israel in the Old Testament typifies the church in the New according to Paul everywhere else, he can’t possibly mean something different in Romans eleven when he quotes Isaiah. Isaiah means either, physical Israel or spiritual Israel, the same is true for Paul. The two can’t be the same thing at the same time.

Dispensationalism rightly points to a number of things in Scripture that Postmillennialists deny. These are the obvious trends spelled out in Scripture toward an eventual apostasy in the church, one that will give rise to the antichrist. This in turn will result in a threefold one world antichristian system. There is now in preparation and will be developed further as time goes by, a one world economic, governmental, and religious system that will try to utterly usurp God. Not only does Scripture point to this, but anyone who examines the United Nations charter and all their subsequent activity since its inception should see this too. We do not make the same mistake as Dispensationalists by saying the U.N. is prophetical fulfillment. We only make the point that it reveals what Scripture shows concerning the spirit of antichrist in the world, and the way things are going as the church age progresses. Dispensationalists take this and incorporate it into their end time scenario of events surrounding Israel.

Postmillennialists say there will be no apostasy, no antichrist, no one world system that follows, but rather a steady advance in the church’s dominion in the world that ends in all nations becoming Christian. Postmillennialists see no future tribulation for Christians as time goes on. Never mind that Revelation twenty (verses 7-9) declares before Jesus returns, an attempt will be made by Satan to eradicate Christianity from the earth. No, everything is rosy in the Postmillennial later day glorious kingdom. Now, Dispensationalists err in saying Christians will escape this tribulation John spoke of in Revelation. This will happen when the church is mysteriously and miraculously raptured from earth. This too, is nonsense because Paul taught that tribulation is the normative experience for Christians in the present age. So Postmillennialists err as well too, by saying that will not happen in the future.

But this presents another problem for the Postmillennial scheme. If all things since the first century have tended toward the advance of Christianity in the world according to their plan, why does history tell another story? To be sure, Christ has built His church and the gates of hell have not prevailed (Matt. 16:18). But this is understood in a certain context. Christ has and always will effectually call and save His people till the last one is secured. And there certainly have been periods of time in history when the church appeared to make great strides. But Scripture teaches that it is substance and not numbers that account for kingdom reality. And history shows us that apostasy from the truth, as well as constant persecution and turmoil in the world are more normative than otherwise. So this begs the question. When will the Postmillennial advance begin? Will it begin when Theonomists have their way, or will something else happen? Is the kingdom to come or is it already here? This is a fuzzy question for the Postmillennialist to answer.

In fact, there are some Postmillennialists who have put forth a theory of how their later day glory is supposed to appear. This comes from a school of Evangelical Reformed men that most Reformed Christians, this writer included would all agree are otherwise sound men. At this point too, we do not want to present new theological matters that require lengthy explanations in reference to this school of thought. So suffice it to say we refer to this school of Postmillennialism, and other related Chiliasm that identity with its exponents, as the revivalist school. This is a school of thought that says the later day glory will be realized by worldwide revival that transforms the church and the world. The current spokesman for this school is Iain Murray who wrote the book we have footnoted on The Puritan Hope. In this book Murray speculates that Paul’s words in Romans eleven do indeed call for a literal return of Jews to the land, and for the reasons already stated in regard to Postmillennialism.[11]

There is always a desire on the part of Christians to see the church in any given era or place revived. There is also a desire to see God’s elect called into the kingdom. The sad reality in reference to revivalism is, that Scripture just does not support this theory as a means of advancing the kingdom. At least, not unless one takes the Old Testament word of promise made in reference to the rebuilding and prosperity of the Davidic kingdom to mean the Puritan Hope. But again, there is contradiction in doing this. If the failure of earthly Israel is the fulfillment of spiritual Israel, ie, the church, how is it the church can make any literal claims to the Old Testament kingdom promises? In order to do this, both Dispensationalists and Postmillennialists must bypass the New Testament and the apostles when coming to their kingdom conclusions. We conclude therefore, they are both in error for much of the same reason, which is that both have a desire to see theocratic rule in this present carnal world. Both fail to see how God’s kingdom has become spiritually realized in the church, where no distinction is made between people and nations other than the elect and the reprobate.

We also conclude the only legitimate and biblical explanation for understanding God’s kingdom, and therefore, Paul’s words about “all Israel” are found in the non or Amillennial explanation. We have already shown what the term Amillennial means, so there is no need to backtrack. The problem that exists today among many of those who hold the Amillennial opinion is, they view Paul’s words in Romans eleven incorrectly. It is also the very reason we have undertaken to write on the subject. Currently, there are a great many Amillennialists who agree with Dispensationalists and Postmillennialists about the state of Israel, and for similar reasons. We categorically say that this is not an Amillennial position to take. It is a contradiction of historic, biblical, creedal Amillennialism. That being said, one wonders how this has come to be. The answer to this wonderment must lie in the Ecumenical spirit of our day.

Ecumenism is not confined to Liberals. There seems to be an insatiable desire for Evangelicals of all stripes to stand on the same platform together and sing ‘kumbaya.’[12] Christian unity is a doctrine all Christians love. But it is not necessarily thought of today in a right and biblical manner. What we mean by this statement is simply this. The unity of Scripture depends upon doctoral agreement among people. This means there will always be a certain amount of disunity in the church till Christ comes to consummate the kingdom in the new heaven and earth in which righteousness dwells (II Pet. 3:13). In the interest of the gospel, the modern Evangelical is content to reduce the rest of the Bible to its lowest common denominator, in order to include everyone under the sun in a desire for unity. In part, this is something that has come about in reaction to the decline of Christianity in the west. So in a desire to circle the wagons, doctrinal compromise among different sects of the faith has become one approach to maintaining what is agreed upon among them all.[13]

Dispensationalists for the last hundred years have created the current interest in all things related to Eschatology. And they have for many years been challenging those outside their camp with all of their pet theories about Israel. So This has led the Reformed church, not down the road to Emmaus, but down the road to Ecumenism concerning Israel. A case in point is the inclusion of such notable Dispensationalists as John MacArthur at various Reformed Conferences, as well as Reformed Covenant men to his. MacArthur caused a stir several years back when at one of his Shepherd’s conferences he stated that to be a true Calvinist, one must be a Premillennialist.[14] Reformed men were aghast at this public statement owing to the fact that they are all ‘Panmillennial’ when it comes to sharing the stage, but it should have been expected. For years Reformed men have been surrounding MacArthur and identifying with him because of his stance against easy believism. But an examination of some of his doctrinal positions shows that he is far from the Reformed faith.

Not only is John MacArthur not a historical Premillennialist, he is not even a Calvinist in the true historical sense of the term. MacArthur is a full-fledged Dispensationalist who believes in a secret rapture of believers before the final tribulation, and the return of Jesus to the political state of Israel. MacArthur’s words set off a flurry of written responses from Reformed men, two of which are notable Amillennialists, Dr. Sam Waldron[15] and Dr. Kim Riddlebarger.[16] In spite of their disagreement with MacArthur’s assertion, both men admit that many Calvinists have shared similar views to his concerning the interpretation of Romans 11:26, that it expects a future large-scale conversion of ethnic Jews.[17] Dr. Waldron was at one time persuaded of this view himself before changing to the current one he now holds on this text. His current view is part of what is called the ethnic Israel view of Romans 11:26, the difference being it is elect Jews to whom Paul is saying “all Israel will be saved.” After disavowing the theory that national Israel is prophetic fulfillment, Waldron then expresses a favorable political opinion toward it anyway. Such is the hold this paradigm seems to have on Amillennialists.

The ethnic Israel view of Romans 11:26 is shared by both Premillennialists and Postmillennialists alike. Dr. Riddlebarger, who was once an avowed Dispensationalist himself, not only holds this interpretation of the text, but also the one that says it does refer to a future national conversion of Jews in the land. Dr. Riddlebarger gave a series of lectures on Amillennialism which are for the most part an outstanding presentation of the Amillennial position. In lecture twenty-six of the series, he states his position on Romans 11:26. It is the emergence of Israel in 1949 that seems to be “the pink elephant in the room” that convinced him it is ethnic Israel Paul had in mind. This is amazing for a Reformed Amillenialist to say, for it is the very thing that Dispensationalists are noted for doing as well. Much of what they believe about Eschatology is based on historic events that appear in the newspaper, then is converted to doctrine by applying proof texts to it in a superficial way.

Dr. Riddlebarger makes mention in the lectures of the late Dr. George Eldon Ladd (1911-1982). This is because Ladd is recognized as having a major influence on Reformed thinking today, concerning an understanding of the doctrine of God’s kingdom. Dr. Ladd was considered an authority on this doctrine, in part, for his reliance upon and employment of Biblical Theology in his study of the New Testament. Biblical Theology as we footnoted in an earlier chapter, seeks to make doctrine out of historical events recorded in Scripture. Without a doubt, redemptive history as it appears in Scripture is convertible to propositionally objective truth according to the overall analogy of Scripture. But Biblical Theology takes this one step further and develops a system from the historical events. So in other words, theology is subjective and therefore, entirely an inductive discipline, both on the part of the prophet and the interpreter. This has had far reaching consequences in the church. Instead of reconciling a text like Romans 11:26 in light of the overall teaching of the New Testament, when it is viewed through the lense of Biblical Theology, it becomes a text that pertains to some future historical event.

Dr. Ladd was an historic Premillennialist, who held to a literal view of God’s kingdom as understood in two parts, first, as a present inaugurated kingdom, and second, as a future consummated kingdom. As a Premillenialist, Ladd was held in fairly high esteem among Dispensationalists, who frequently confuse the two positions just as Dr. MacArthur revealed by his public statements. Dispensationalists of course, make their theology in much the same way as Biblical Theology does. Ladd is especially popular with Dispensationalists for connecting Jewish apocalyptic literature about a restored kingdom to the thinking of the various New Testament writers. So now, we see Reformed men doing a similar thing, and getting the same result. If Jews in the first century might have viewed Paul’s words in Romans chapter eleven as futuristically hopeful toward a restored ethnic kingdom, then they reason it must be. It seems the headline news gives support to this.

Dr. Ladd is credited with influencing several leading Dispensationalists to the point they in turn began to modify Dispensationalism much more toward a Covenant theology view. An entire movement has arisen from this referred to as Progressive Dispensationalism.[18] John MacArthur was instrumental in founding the Master’s Seminary which has become the academic training ground of the movement. This might seem to be a good thing, but in truth it is not. The modification made by Progressive Dispensationalists is only done in part, for it still maintains some of the most egregious elements of the Dispensational system. It also has only served to further the Ecumenical spirit that currently exists in the Reformed church. There are a great many men who now seek to stand in both Dispensational and Reformed circles as a result of this.

The fallacy in all this is the sword always cuts both ways, for according to Dr. Riddlebarger, Ladd’s view of the kingdom has influenced him as well as others who are not Premillennial men. This is said simply to point out the doctrinal cross pollination that has taken place in the church for a very long time. It has had a definite effect on what many believe a biblical view of God’s kingdom consists of.[19] There is always value in exposing oneself to the views of different scholars, but that is not what is in dispute here. It is one thing to be enlightened by good insights upon a particular text of Scripture, or the nuance of a mutually held doctrine. It is another thing altogether to allow different views to synthesize our thinking to the point of altering it from a place of logical consistency. So, through this influence of Dr. Ladd, we get a Premillennial interpretation of Romans 11:25-27 included in the Amillennial doctrine of the kingdom, one that contradicts it.

To illustrate the cross pollination issue further, one only has to look at those who take part in the ‘we are the church’ song that Reformed ministers play today. There are several notable examples of this to consider. For years, John Piper has been included in the lineup of the who’s who of Reformed popular preachers. Yet, an examination of his doctrinal statement should be a big red flag to any truly Reformed man who should know better than to identify with him. For a long time, Dr. Piper’s doctrinal statement was posted on the website of the church of which he was once the Pastor. Unfortunately, he is no longer there so the position paper has been removed. But suffice it to say, Piper is anything but Reformed. Among other things, Piper is sympathetic to Pentecostalism, New Covenant Theology,[20] and what appears to be a custom designed doctrine of his own making called Christian Hedonism.[21] The shockwave and subsequent blogomania that went through Reformed circles when Piper invited the heretic Rick Warren to his conference, was astounding to say the least. Yet, this too, should have been expected.

There are other examples that can be mentioned here as well. For instance, the well known Reformed Baptist Amillennial Apologist James White, sits on the staff of an Arminian Correspondence Seminary that issues PhD degrees by mail.[22] He is also a frequent guest speaker at Dispensational Bible conferences. Many people have been positively influenced by the public teaching ministry of R.C. Sproul Sr. However, few people know how he has waffled over the years concerning his view of God’s kingdom. After stating he has gone back and forth between Amillennialism and Premillennialism, now he has become a Partial Preterist Postmillennialist, whatever that is supposed to mean. Sproul says he arrived at this position by reading James Stuart Russell’s book ‘Parousia.’[23] Russell, we remind the reader, said Jesus returned in 70 AD. Also, the resurrection is a figurative expression of something spiritual, not a future physical reality. While not wanting to disparage R.C. Sproul’s particular views in reference to his orthodoxy, one wonders what benefit he received from reading such a book.

We mention these various men not to bash them personally, nor to suggest they have nothing to offer the broader church. Indeed, this writer considers them all good sincere brethren, even if not agreeing with all of their positions. The issue at hand here is the threat of doctrinal inconsistency that Ecumenism poses, especially when it comes to interpreting the meaning of “all Israel” in Romans 11:26. It seems that many Amillennialists today have bought into the same argument as all Chiliasts that there is something biblical about the state of Israel coming into existence in 1949. So there is an assumption drawn from this that it is somehow a fulfillment of Paul’s discourse in chapter eleven of Romans. We contend that no such thing is the case. If Jews and Gentiles are joined together as one body (I Cor. 12:13), and it is the object of God’s grace now, this is the only way to understand what Paul said in that chapter. Every elect Jew and Gentile will be saved in this manner now, in this age before the Lord returns.

We therefore, must conclude in this book that any attempt at contriving some interesting theory of this about the nation of Israel is false. We close with an exhortation to the reader to study the matter further, rather than to simply accept pat statements concerning it from all of the popular Christian preachers that dominate the literary world, the radio waves, and the conference circuit. The reader should seek to answer the important question, is what I have thought concerning the subject of “all Israel” truly biblical, or, have I been led to adopt the view of others who cannot adequately explain why they believe what they do about it themselves. And last of all, remember Paul said “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26). This means every Jew that Jesus Christ died for two thousand years ago will be effectually called into His kingdom, which exists here and now. Not a single one of them will be lost. Because of this, every Jew should be the subject of Evangelistic concern to the Christian church, here and now at the present time.

The End

Notes:

[1] The connection between Aristotle and a large segment of Christian thinking is summed up in three things. 1) A purely empirical, and hence, a historical view of knowledge. 2) The belief in an existential reality over and above objective truth. 3) Theological dialecticism, the belief that history is revelatory rather than providential. This ultimately leads to a view of the Christian faith which subjects it to natural circumstances and consequences. This is diametrically opposed to the biblical view of God’s kingdom that shows He is the Sovereign Ruler of this present world without the need of anyone in it paying homage to Him. Christians are to live in the world and be not of it. When Jesus returns, everything wrong will be made right. Nothing man does will hasten that day.

[2] Modern Dispensationalism and the Doctrine of the Unity of the Scripture, by O.T. Allis (1880-1973). The Evangelical Quarterly, January 1936.

[3] The Late Great Planet Earth (Lindsey, 1970), The Left Behind Series (LaHaye, 16 Vols. 1995-2007), Armageddon, Oil and Terror (Walvoord, 1974), and one of the latest examples of Dispensational novelty is The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery that Holds the Secret of America’s Future (Jonathan Cahn, 2012).

[4] Israel invaded Lebanon several times, 1973,1978,1981. Israel launched a surprise attack against Iraq in 1981 which destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor under construction. Israel bombed targets inside Lebanon and Gaza in 2006, and Gaza in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014. Israel has conducted airstrikes against targets inside Syria, 2015.

[5] The UN reports that Israel killed 2,104 Palestinians in Gaza City in the 2014 attack. Of this number, 1,462 civilians were killed (Gaza crisis: Toll of operations in Gaza, Sept. 2014 http://www.bbc.com). They have also blockaded the city since 2010, preventing human rights organizations from bringing food and medical aid to the civilian population there. In fact, Israel attacked a flotilla of civilian ships in international waters, killing nine people including one American. Most of the western media ignored this atrocity, while highlighting Palestinian attacks made against Israel that preceded their attack on Gaza.

[6] For further reading see Theonomy’s Dispensational Hermeneutic, by Lee Irons (1996), posted on the The Upper Register (www.upper-register.com).

[7] The Savoy Declaration of the Congregationalists makes an explicit statement in support of the Postmillennial position (Chapter XXVI: Of the Church, Par. 5). In it is a reference to the calling of Jews in the latter days. No statement of any kind is offered in the Westminster or the London Baptist confessions.

[8] Theonomy and Eschatology, by Richard Gaffin, note on p13. 19 “One reason I’m inclined against the view that Rom. 11:11ff. teach a future mass conversion of Jews is that Paul seems to see his own ministry to the Gentiles (with its jealousy-provoking, repentance-producing effect) as serving, already at that time, to bring about the “fullness” of the Jews (v.11-15; cf. “all Israel,” v. 26)—a fullness that throughout the passage contrasts with the elect “remnant” (v.5), who were not “hardened” (v. 7) and did not “stumble” (v. 11); the Jews who repent through the Apostle’s activity are not added to the remnant but inaugurate the fullness, whose sum total will then be realized over the entire interadvental period.”

[9] Ibid. note on p15. 22 “My surmise is that, for many, a significant factor disposing them toward either a premil or a postmil position stems from etherealized, even insipid, less than biblical understandings of the eternal state. Such rarified, color less conceptions give rise to the conviction—compounded by a missing or inadequate awareness of the realized eschatology taught in Scripture—that eventually God must somehow “get in his licks” and “settle things” in history, as distinct from eternity. But what is the eternal order other than the consummation of history, the historical process come to its final fruition? The new heavens and earth, inaugurated at Christ’s return, will be the climactic vindication of God’s covenant and, so, his final historical triumph, the ultimate realization of his purposes for the original creation, forfeited by the first Adam and secured by the last. Inherent in both a postmil and a premil outlook, it seems, is the tendency, at least, toward an un-Biblical, certainly un-Reformed separation or even polarization of creation and redemption/eschatology. (As this chapter goes off to the editors, it strikes me that the whole might well have been developed from the angle of this footnote.)”

[10] The Puritan Illusion, an Answer to the Book Entitled “The Puritan Hope,” by Charles D. Alexander (3 messages published in 1970). Part 1 (p7) A Great Novelty, “That some of the Puritans were able to ride both these horses at the same time without undue damage was because they lived too early in the day for the illusion to hinder their normal ministrations. With glorious inconsistency they used the prophetic scriptures without inhibition to preach the true kingdom of Christ in which Israel as a nation disappears for ever from view, and at the same time in their prophetical excursions they just as enthusiastically used the same prophecies to bolster up the Jewish expectation. When our moderate chiliasts today claim the liberty of doing the same thing they only betray their naiveté. We are no longer allowed the luxury of holding two interpretations which cancel one another out. Either Romans 11: 25-26 belongs to the Jew or it belongs to the mystic Israel, the Church in which the Jew has lost his identity for ever. If the prophetical text upon which Paul is supposed to found this theory (Isaiah 59: 20) is a promise to the Jewish nation, then it must be awarded to the Jew exclusively or not at all. It is an offence against logic to hold both interpretations and to say (in effect) that the gentile is there also, but only by courtesy of the Jew, and that the real hope of the world is wrapped up with a Jewish interpretation which, after 2,000 years of the gospel has not yet begun to be fulfilled.”

[11] Ibid. (p9) A Nation Born In A Day, “The elect are one nation, one people, and to this is related the prophecy of a nation being ‘born in a day’. Isaiah writes, “Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children.” This prophecy was fulfilled at Pentecost when the new nation, the true seed of Abraham, came to being in one day, in place of the earthly people. Even Mr. Murray makes the elementary mistake of using this text to describe the future restoration of Israel (p.78).”

[12] “Kumbaya” or “Kumbayah” or “Cumbaya” (Gullah, “Come by Here”—”Kum ba yah”) is a spiritual song first recorded in the 1920s. It became a standard campfire song in Scouting and summer camps and enjoyed broader popularity during the folk revival of the 1950s and 1960s.

The song was originally a simple appeal to God to come and help those in need.[1] (Wikipedia)

[13] There are many examples of Reformed Evangelical Ecumenism. This is seen in the organizations that dot the Evangelical landscape today. Much of the so-called Reformed faith today is representative of but one branch of Evangelical Ecumenism. The name that has come to describe this unified movement is New Calvinism. The New Calvinists can be seen in such organizations as The Gospel Coalition, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Together For The Gospel, Acts 29, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and 9 Marks. These are just a few examples. What makes these organizations Ecumenical is their stated purpose which overlaps in many ways, and has many of the same members. An examination of the membership role of these organizations reveals a wide array of doctrinal positions among them. Propagation of the gospel is the primary purpose these organizations have been assembled. This is certainly a noble cause, but one must ask the question, whose version of it is being propagated by such a diverse crowd of people? If the answer is the same for all, then what does this say about the different identities that are represented by them? There is little concern found among most Reformed people concerning confessional subscription and association. By reviewing the landscape, one must not wonder why the church, which is the only God ordained institution, is in such decline.

[14] “Why Every Self-respecting Calvinist is a Premillennialist.” A message preached by John MacArthur at the 2007 Shepherd’s Conference.

[15] The End Times Made Simple: How Could Everybody Be So Wrong about Biblical Prophecy, (Calvary Press, 2007), and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto (Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2008), by Samuel E. Waldron.

[16] A Case For Amillennialism – Understanding the End Times, by Dr. Kim Riddlebarger (Baker Books, 2013).

[17] Noted Theologians From Post-Reformation History Who Believed In A Future Conversion Of National/Ethnic Israel, by Phil Layton (www.goldcountrybaptist.org).

[18] Progressive Dispensationalism, by Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock (Baker Books 2000). These two men are credited with the origin of this movement. For further reading see an article entitled Almost … But Not Yet: The New Covenant in the Hermeneutics, by Matthew Morgan (www.mountainretreat.org). This is an examination of a review on Blaising and Brocks book by fellow PD Bruce Ware.

[19] What is in view here is the phrase “already/not yet” used to describe both realized and future Eschatology regarding God’s kingdom. The phrase is attributed to Dr. Ladd’s way of explaining these two concepts as they relate to the interadvental era. The phrase is widely used today in academic circles, but care must be taken when using it in conversation. It is often said that the two terms express a tension in the New Covenant church. Tension is another way of saying paradox, which is something completely foreign to Scripture. A word like tension should be thought of as theological fog. The problem today in academic circles in the use of a phrase like this is, different theological backgrounds mean different things by its usage. Yet everyone seeks to sit together in the same room using the same terminology, so it becomes a shared fog experience.

[20] New Covenant Theology for the uninitiated, is a synthesis of Dispensational and Covenant Theology different from Progressive Dispensationalism. NCT is antinomian, and therefore heretical, in that it denies there is any requirement for the Christian to keep the law as a standard of conduct. Instead, NCT takes the phrase ‘law of Christ’ as a new and better rule, and sets it in opposition to God’s commandments.

[21] See A Critical Examination of John Piper’s “Christian Hedonism” by Manuel Kuhs, posted on the British Reformed Fellowship website (www.britishreformed.org).

[22] James White is listed as a Faculty Mentor at the Columbia Evangelical Seminary (www.columbiaseminary.org). CES have no campus, only a room with a name on the door to identify with it. Otherwise, it is only a post office box. An examination of the school’s statement of faith reveals nothing more than a few words taken from an acrostic of the name CHRIST. Among the many members of the listed faculty are Dispensationalists, Penetcostals, Messianic Jews, Lutherans, Anglicans, Wesleyan Arminians, and an assortment of various nondescript Evangelicals. A handful of women professors adorn this illustrious institution as well. And to be fair, there are at least a couple of Presbyterian and Reformed men on the list too. In fact, this is where White claims (on his website) to have received his PhD.

[23] The Parousia, by James Stuart Russell (Baker Books, 1999). In the Foreward R.C. Sproul Sr. says: “Russell’s work is valuable cheifly for his analysis of the timeframe references of New Testament prophecy and his understanding of the main reference to the Parousia. Russell’s book has forced me to take the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem far more seriously than before, to open my eyes to the radical significance of this event in redemptive history. It vindicates the apostolic hope and prediction of our Lord’s close-at-hand coming in judgment. My view on these matters remains in transition, as I have spelled out in The Last Days According to Jesus. But for me one thing is certain: I can never read the New Testament again the same way I read it before reading The Parousia. I hope better scholars than I will continue to analyze and evaluate the content of J. Stuart Russell’s important work.” (pp ix-x).

 

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