Curtis

This is my site. I'm basically a Christian, Husband, Father, Neighbor and in that order. I'm a thinker, how well I do at it is for others to decide. I drive a truck delivering gas for a living and spend most of my time listening to downloaded audio on my favorite subjects. It is mostly these that spark my articles here.

Jun 192011
 

 

While discussing Matthew 24 a FB friend linked an article by the famous Dispensational Eschatologist, Dr. Thomas Ice.  Included is the entire comment below.

 

 

 

 

http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/matthew-24-and-this-generation Ice goes over this subject in great detail using Demars (sic) view as a backdrop for the explanation. For anyone interested in what is being discussed here in more detail. I am not sure if Curtis is a full preterist or not.

The DeMar in question is Gary DeMar of American Vision.  I don’t know which debate Ice was talking about for sure because he didn’t say.   However, the PDF of the article was created 7/24/03 and the debate I heard was on 2/26/02 which you can hear part one here, and part two here.

Following is my review of the article and my assessment of Ice’s hermeneutic for his view.  It will be detailed and in depth exposing every aspect.  Finally as a foot note I will define how I use the terms hermeneutics, exegesis, eisegesis, and empirical.  If a commenter uses them, I expect them to mean those that same way, else pick a different term and be prepared to define it if asked.  I hate undefined terms that end up being fallacious eqivocations.


Ice begins:

Preterism teaches that most, if not all, of the Book of Revelation and the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21) were fulfilled in conjunction with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in a.d. 70. If this notion is granted, then almost all of Bible prophecy is not to be anticipated in the future, but is past history. Their false scheme springs forth from a misinterpretation of Matthew 24:34 (see also Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32), by which they launch an upside-down view of eschatology, which does not look to the future but instead gazes at the past.

“by the Romans”  Not all would concur but close enough as it is irrelevant to exegeting the passage.

“almost all of Bible prophecy is not to be anticipated in the future, but is past history.”  if not all according to some, but again irrelevant so…okay.

 

Here we go, “Their false scheme springs forth from a misinterpretation of Matthew 24:34 (see also Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32), by which they launch an upside-down view of eschatology, which does not look to the future but instead gazes at the past.”  Thomas is writing about a debate which asks a question.  Basically Matt 24 past or future?  Ice is aware that there are plenty of preterists in the world including some of the brightest minds in theology both contemporary and historic, who believe most or all of Matt 24 is fulfilled.  The ‘classical preterist’ or ‘historical preterist’ view dates back to the Early Church Fathers and was actually a (note the ‘a’ not ‘the’) dominant view of Protestants from the reformation to Scofield.  Yes there was division over the details as there is in all views of all doctrinal subjects.  Why do I mention this?  Because, this quote is a fallacy know as begging the question.  Ice has presupposed what he attempts to prove in the rest of the article.  Which is okay I guess, this part is an editorial and not an exercise in rationality, as we will see.  And it is a justified statement of hubris IF he makes his case well.  This too, we will see.

DeMar says, “Every time ‘this generation’ is used in the New Testament, it means, without exception, the generation to whom Jesus was speaking.”[3] DeMar’s assertion is simply not true! “This generation” in Hebrews 3:10 clearly refers to the generation of Israelites that wandered in the wilderness for 40 years during the Exodus.

Ice footnotes his quote of DeMar to one of his books, which is fine.  However in the debate that Ice started with, which came after the book, and before this article, DeMar never said “used in the New Testament.”  Seems a bit uncharitable to the latest, clearest, and most repeated view of DeMar.  DeMar said in the debate and since (paraphrased) “Every time ‘this generation’ is used by Jesus in the Gospels it means, without exception…”  And that is true, I believe.  Now I would think comparing Jesus’ words with Jesus’ words would give us a better idea about what Jesus meant than comparing Jesus’ words to the author of Hebrews.

 

Now, about Hebrews 3:10.  Many standard mainstream bible versions translate the text as “that generation.”  Here is a short list that have “that generation” form my small collection:  KJV, NKJV, ESV, and the NIV… about one third of mine.  Could it be that a rational reason it is translated “this generation” is because it is quoting Psalm 95 which says “this generation” in poetic form about a past event?  Why change poetry when it is clear from the immediate context (exegesis) of Heb 3 that it is a different generation than the audience?  Just leave it ‘this’.  Any moron can figure it out.

 

Next lets look at the language of Matthew 24:34 vs Heb 3:10.  Pardon that I don’t know how to do the special characters for Greek in FB Notes.  I don’t know enough about what they mean anyway, lol.  Matthew 24:34, the Greek terms in question and in order, hee (untranslated definite article used to tie geneá to haútee (I think)) geneá (generation) haútee (‘this’ in all bibles), hee  geneá  haútee.  Hebrews 3:10, the terms in question and in order, teé(untranslated) geneán (generation)taútee (this or that depending on bible version), teé  geneán  taútee.

 

These are clearly not the same phrases.  This could be another reason why many bibles translate it ‘that generation.’  If I were a Greek scholar I might be able to give you more.  When we combine all the information, Tommy’s lone exception seems to be a rather lackluster exception to exactly that….the rule that Christ was always referring to his contemporaries and the vast majority of the other NT ‘this generation’ texts were also.  Remember exegesis starts with the text its self.  This language and the grammar are not the same.

 

Next Ice gives us the first rule for understanding what generation ‘this’ refers to in any text, “We learn this by going and examining how each is used in their context.”  He offers Mark 8:12 as an example, “…Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation” and explains, “it refers to Christ’s contemporaries, because of the controlling factor of the immediate context.”  Good so far but keep this in mind as later we will see Ice leave this rule in the trash heap.  Then Ice presents a caricature (straw man) of DeMars hermeneutic by expecting us to believe he, ” just say(s), as DeMar and many preterists do, that because something means X . . . Y . . . Z in other passages that it has to mean that in a given verse.”  I hear this one all the time ie. you just this or you just that.  I’ll not speak for DeMar but I first look to the text and if a meaning is given clearly there (Ice’s rule) I except it unless there is good reason to do otherwise.  I could just as easily say here that Ice just uses empirical eisegesis, but that wouldn’t be very charitable now would it.  I would need to show that was all he does, and Ice needs to do the same about DeMar else he is politicing and not teaching or proving.  That makes this just more editorializing using the weasel word ‘just’.  The rule from above is now repeated, clarified and further explained making no mistake now that it is the rule:

You must make your determination from the passage under discussion and how it is used in that particular context. Context is the most important factor in determining the exact meaning or referent under discussion.[5] That is how one is able to realize that most the other uses of “this generation” refer to Christ’s contemporaries.

I’ll just give the next paragraph as I’ll refer back to it later.

 

Matthew 23:36 says, “Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.” To whom does “this generation” refer? In this context, “this generation” refers to Christ’s contemporaries because of contextual support. “This generation” is governed or controlled grammatically by the phrase “all these things.” All these things refer to the judgments that Christ pronounces in Matthew 22-23. So we should be seeing that in each instance of “this generation,” the use is determined by what it modifies in its immediate context. The scope of use of every occurrence of this generation is determined in the same way.


Okay, we have the hermeneutical rule laid out no less than three times, so how do we apply it to Matt 24:34, Mark 13:30 and Luke 21:32?  Wait a sec….Strange, this is the passage under consideration but Ice doesn’t reproduce it.  Could it be because it is so similar to Mat 23:36 above?  Surely not.  I’ll give all three from the King Jimmy.

 

Matt 23:36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

Matt 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

Mark 13:30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

Luke 21:32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

 

Matt 23:36 (relevant portion) teén  geneán  taúteen

Matt 24:34 (relevant portion) hee  geneá  haútee

Mark 13:30 (relevant portion) hee  geneá  haútee

Luke 21:32 (relevant portion) hee  geneá  haútee  and for completeness of comparison.

Heb 3:10    (relevant portion) teé  geneán  taútee

 

Now I’m not a Greek expert and I confess this is NOT ANY KIND OF PROOF precisely for that reason.  But of the two Ice has chosen so far (Heb 3 and Matt 23),  one he says means ‘that’ and the other means ‘this’, though they have (by Greek standards) identical structure and both are different than the (exactly identical) three from the Olivette Discourse.  But this is not what I want to point out.  I placed that here in case a Greek scholar should happen along to tell us if it makes a hoot. 8\  Now I’m going to repeat the last quote from Ice twice more only in the second I’m going to modify his references and you tell me, what is the difference?  First the exact Ice quote:

 

“Matthew 23:36 says, “Truly I say to you, All these things shall come upon this generation” To whom does “this generation” refer? In this context, “this generation” refers to Christ’s contemporaries because of contextual support. “This generation” is governed or controlled grammatically by the phrase “all these things.” All these things refer to the judgments that Christ pronounces in Matthew 22-23. So we should be seeing that in each instance of “this generation,” the use is determined by what it modifies in its immediate context. The scope of use of every occurrence of this generation is determined in the same way.”

 

Redacted with modified portions underlined for clarity:

Matthew 23:34 says, “Truly I say to you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” To whom does “this generation” refer? In this context, “this generation” refers to Christ’s contemporaries because of contextual support. “This generation” is governed or controlled grammatically by the phrase “all these things.” All these things refer to the judgments that Christ pronounces in Matthew 24:3-31. So we should be seeing that in each instance of “this generation,” the use is determined by what it modifies in its immediate context. The scope of use of every occurrence of this generation is determined in the same way.

 

So if we follow the rules so far it seems we should come to the same interpretation.  But wait! Ice yet has a reason that these are different even though the language and context make them both mean Christ’s contemporaries, according to Ice’s thrice stated rule and demonstration of it.  And that’s good because we still need a reason.  We wouldn’t want someone just saying so.  Why did I redact Ice’s explanation?  Well lets now look at the rule and Ice’s use of it on Mat 23:36, and Matt 24:34.

 

The rule given, “Context is the most important factor in determining the exact meaning or referent under discussion.”

The application, “this generation” refers to Christ’s contemporaries because of contextual support.” which is, “all these things”      So far so good.

 

And now as used on Mat 24:34.

The rule given,”Context is the most important factor in determining the exact meaning or referent under discussion.”

The application, “not refer to Christ’s contemporaries? Because the governing referent to “this generation” is “all these things.” ”        That’s right! Read them again if necessary.

 

WOW!!  Tommy uses the exact same rule with almost identical language from the texts and his explanation, except in one the rule proves one thing and in the other the rule proves the opposite.  Bad rule?  or Bad application?  Well maybe there is another reason that will seem a bit more… reasonable.  Obviously, “You must make your determination from the passage under discussion and how it is used in that particular context.” doesn’t seem to apply.  So what modifies the interpretation?  On we go.


Since Jesus is giving an extended prophetic discourse of future events, one must first determine the nature of “all these things” prophesied in verses 4 through 31 to know what generation Christ is referencing.

If asked why a modification, the answer above is, because the prophecy is long with many details.  I guess Jesus needed to say ‘this generation’ many times scattered through out the prophecy to make it clear?  I’m not sure what hermeneutic that is, as it is not in any standard textbook and Tommy doesn’t explain, he just says so.  No one, to my knowledge, has given a rational explanation for why the prophecies need split up.  Ice will give one but is it rational?  He begins an explanation in this quote by saying we must know ‘what’ (the nature) in order to know ‘which’ generation.  He’ll give more in a moment but first and again, by what rule does he make this determination?  I would think an exegetical answer to ‘when’ form the text would do just as well (probably better) than trying to exegete the nature from INSIDE the text.  Tommy agrees because he can’t exegete the nature from inside the text and instead goes outside the text for the nature and ignores the ‘when’ that is clearly exegeted from inside the text.  He then uses eisegesis to bring the outside view of the nature into the text to determine his interpretation.  But what standard of interpretation does he use to determine the nature?  Shall we continue.

 

First Ice gets it right when examining which generation will see ‘all these things.’  “Christ is saying that the generation that sees “all these things” occur will not cease to exist until all the events of the future tribulation are literally fulfilled.”  However before this he denies which people (part of a generation) Christ repeatedly says will see them.  ie. The many times he told the disciples that were present “when you see”, “when you are” this, “when you are” that.  List to follow:

v6 two times, v9 three times, v15, v20, v23, v25, v26, v32, v33 twice, v44 THEY are admonished to be ready in parable, a total of 14 times!  Yet we need to go elsewhere to find out what generation would see “all these things.”  Lets see why it can’t be the one Jesus said it would be.

Tommy, why couldn’t it be the generation Christ said would see them?  “Since (because) “all these things” did not take place in the first century…”  And how do you know that?  No answer yet, just a say so.  Ice also appeals to Dr. Darrell Bock which will follow but first note that Bock is commenting on Luke and some don’t think Luke is recoding prophecy beyond the destruction of the temple in 70ad.  Bock concludes:

 

If this view is correct, Jesus says that when the signs of the beginning of the end come, then the end will come relatively quickly, within a generation.


Then we have some editorializing about Preterists.  And a statement about what Ice believes, “I do not think that any of the events in Matthew 24:4-31 occurred in the first century.”  I’ll get to this later.  For a few paragraphs following, Ice pits scholar against scholar agreeing with some (without reason) and disagreeing with others, also without reason.  But in that he makes a few claims.  I’ll examine two of them.

 

“If this prophecy has something to do with the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70, then Dr. Gentry has not been able to tell us exactly what it is.”  Ice can’t tell us exactly how many RPM’s the baseball will be turning when it flies from the pitchers hands therefore the pitch isn’t part of the game.  Or, Job 41 tells us of ‘leviathan’.  If this creature has something to do with God’s creation, then Ice has not been able to tell us what exactly this creature is.  Response to all three…..what does any of that matter?

 

“If Jesus returned in a.d. 70, as preterists say, then, on what day did He return? Since this is a past event, we should be able to know the exact day our Lord supposedly returned and fulfilled this passage.”  If God created the earth as Ice believes, then, on what day did He do it?  Since this is a past event, we should be able to know the exact day our Lord supposedly created the earth.  Wonderful logic, Thomas!  I know he did so because He said he did so in scripture.  Same reason I know His parousia has happened?  He promised so, to that generation.  Not I say so.  He is a much better authority than me or Ice.


So we’ve reached the end.  Ice never gave us anything beyond his say so that ‘all these things’ didn’t happen in the first century, however twice he said that was the standard above the grammatical exegesis of the text.  He never explicitly stated what ‘all these things’ are but centered only on v27-31.  Interestingly enough these are the passages that Preterists believe were fulfilled after the NT writers were finished writing.  But, here are two places where he expanded on ‘all these things’:

 

I do not think that any of the events in Matthew 24:4-31 occurred in the first century.

one must first determine the nature of “all these things” prophesied in verses 4 through 31 to know what generation Christ is referencing.

 

I’m going to run with that.  It’s clear enough to me and many other scholars would agree that the predictions of v4 thru 31 indicate the generation Christ is referencing.  I cannot prove through scripture that 27-31 were fulfilled by 70ad.  Like I said before this was after the cannon was complete or at least the events are not recorded there.  However the standard is not just 27-31 but any of the events from 4-31 as described in any version of the Olivette Discourse.  If I can find one fulfilled in any generation then the rest had to occur within that generation.  Remember Ice agrees with Dr Bock on this, “If this view is correct, Jesus says that when the signs of the beginning of the end come, then the end will come relatively quickly, within a generation.”

Following are a list of the predictions from Matt 24 and NT language that indicates they are fulfilled.

 

1. Predictedv7 famines and earthquakes

Acts 11:28 “Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.”

Acts 16:26 “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.”  and if you think that wasn’t of God read the rest of the passage.

 

2. v9:  shall deliver YOU up to be afflicted (thelipsis, afflicted, anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble),..shall kill YOU

Acts 6:9 thru 7:60, the stoning of Stephen

Acts 16:22-23(Paul and Silas) “And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. 23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison”

2 Cor 11:24-27 “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness —”  There is tons more but you get the picture.  Who doubts that nearly everyone of the Apostles were tortured and executed along with THOUSANDS of other first century believers.

 

============interlude===============

I gottata get to work.  There are others and I will get to them (I hope.)  The point is, if even one is past then ‘this generation’ saw them all.  Virtually every response I’ve seen to these and the others I will list fall into one of two categories.  One, ‘that wasn’t it because that wasn’t bad enough, world wide’ etc..  or just that wasn’t it with no explanation, just a say so, like Ice.  Two, ‘well you forgot to divide the discourse in two, from the destruction of the temple to the actual second coming’ events.  My response, Ice said, none were fulfilled from v4-31, if I show that is not so then you deal with the logical implications.  Ice didn’t divide it in this article nor did Bock, and nor do most modern scholars.  In fact Ice made it centrally important that the events be examined to determine the proper generation.


Conclusion

 

Now briefly, what is the real controlling principle governing ‘this generation’ for Ice and others?  It’s Empiricism.  Remember, “Context is the most important factor in determining the exact meaning or referent under discussion.”  The context of what?  In this case it is the context of Ice’s empirical mind.  That context is eisegeted into the text.  Nothing in the text can be exegeted from it to say ‘it hasn’t happened yet’, beyond that generation.  That must be presupposed and brought into the text.

 

Why couldn’t it be the generation Christ said would see them?  “Since (because) “all these things” did not take place in the first century…”  And how do you know that?  Ice never answers.  I know why.  Because he doesn’t see it in history, not even in the history recorded in the bible.  As one put it to me, “it didn’t happen…last time I checked.”  The last time I checked modern eye witnesses and historian approval is not what determined whether a promise that is made to a specific audience was fulfilled or not.  Abraham by faith believed the promises.  When Jesus healed the Centurion’s daughter, he did not need to see it.  He knew by faith.  Jesus said it…it happened.  We live by faith not by sight.  Empiricism as evidence here runs counter to Revelatory Truth.  Empiricism is not a valid hermeneutic.  You can’t properly take what you do or don’t see recorded in history, interpret that to be contrary to scripture, then eisegete it back into an interpretation that already has firm, linguistic, grammatical, and contextual, evidence that determines and plainly reveals the object of ‘this generation’ and overturn it on your empirical view of ‘it didn’t happen.’  That is Emperical Eisegesis. I would call it Anachronistic Emperical Eisegesis but that’s just going overboard. 🙂


Terms

Biblical Hermeneutics:  The hermeneutics used when interpreting the bible….duh.  Hermeneutics is the art and science of interpreting any text.  Hermeneutics has rules.  There are standard hermeneutics that all follow, and there are special rules that some follow and some don’t at various times for various reasons, hence the ‘art’ part.  I’m only dealing with standard rules here.This is not to say that the rules are cut and dry and if you follow them you will always come to the correct conclusion, but they help greatly in discovering why one interprets a text one way instead of another.  Hermeneutics encompases all aspects of interpretation form the history and origins of the text in question to the language and culture of the author and audience to the grammar and definitions of the words used.

Exegesis: One of the main disciplines of hermeneutics if not the main one.  Exegesis, though tied in with all other aspects of hermeneutics (herm) mainly contends with the language and grammar of the text.  It asks what does the text itself mean first in it’s parts then in the whole, ie. in context.  Exegetical interpretation has widening rings of consideration.  For instance at the center (primary) of concern is the meaning of the words used.  The next of importance if not equally important with definitions would be the grammar of the individual statements, then sentences, paragraphs, whole passages etc…  Also considered are wider hermeneutical rules such as historical and cultural usage of the language in the text.  Exegesis seeks to find meaning first within narrowest text it can then widening the scope to see if that meaning holds in the broader context.  Exegesis comes from the Greek ‘to lead out’ or in biblical exegesis ‘to draw out.’  Thus its first priority is to draw meaning out, from inside a text.

Eisegesis: If it is ever appropriate to use eisegesis it would be of last resort.  Biblical eisegesis (to draw in) is the opposite of exegesis (to draw out.)  It is usually used to refer to a particular error that leads to misinterpretation.  It can be intentional or not but one ‘reads into’ the text something that is not found through proper exegesis of the core text.  Now, I suppose it could be proper if the core text renders no rational interpretation in it’s context, to go as far out as necessary to find a meaning.  But the further we get away from the text the less likely our interpretation will be certain.

Empirical: (adjective) Knowledge is empirically verified when it’s source is based on sensory experience.  Empiricism is an epistemology (theory of knowledge, ie. how we know what we know) that says we can only know what we experience through the senses and the rational conclusions from that experience.  Included within ’empirical’ things are the ‘hard sciences’ which all boil down to math and history, in my opinion.  Thus we know a thing because we can measure or describe it in sensory, mathematical or historical terms.

Apr 022011
 

voice_god

 

“God told me so.”  “It was shown to me in a dream.”  “I feel lead to…”  “He told me audibly, I could hear Him.”  “I just feel in my spirit…”  “God is trying to tell me something.”

How many times have you heard or read things like those above?  How are Christians supposed to take things like that?

Are those quotes biblical?  Lets look at it a little.  What are people really saying when they say such things?

 

I’ve heard things like this all my life and from some surprising sources too.  I’ll tell you right now, I have never heard the “voice of God”.  Not in a vision.  Not in a dream.  Not audibly.  Not in any way most who say it, mean it.  Yes, when I read or think on His words, I hear in my head what I imagine the voice would sound like.  But I never feel like it is anything other than my mind.  When I look back on things in my life I sometimes think God had to be involved, but I was never aware of it at the time.

I’m going to examine some truths that virtually every conservative Christian holds to then look at the implications those truths have on this phenomenon.


First lets look at a very widely accepted standard,  “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy”.  All emphasis below is added by me.

Article IV

We affirm that God who made mankind in His image has used language as a means of revelation.
We deny that human language is so limited by our creatureliness that it is rendered inadequate as a vehicle for divine revelation. We further deny that the corruption of human culture and language through sin has thwarted God’s work of inspiration.

Article V

We affirm that God’s revelation in the Holy Scriptures was progressive.
We deny that later revelation, which may fulfill earlier revelation, ever corrects or contradicts it. We further deny that any normative revelation has been given since the completion of the New Testament writings.

Article VII

We affirm that inspiration was the work in which God by His Spirit, through human writers, gave us His Word. The origin of Scripture is divine. The mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us.
We deny that inspiration can be reduced to human insight, or to heightened states of consciousness of any kind.

Article XVII

We affirm that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the Scriptures, assuring believers of the truthfulness of God’s written Word.
We deny that this witness of the Holy Spirit operates in isolation from or against Scripture.


Next from the Southern Baptist Convention’s “Baptist Faith and Message”.

I. The Scriptures

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.


Now the “Westminster Confession of Faith”

Chapter I:  Of the Holy Scriptures

6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

10. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.



Moving on with these things in mind I have an example.

“The Lord told me that the doctrine of ‘fishfilly’ is a correct doctrine.”  This person would have me believe that ‘fishfilly’ is correct.  Not a problem, I have now heard their opinion.  But you see, this statement usually comes at the end of some discussion about ‘fishfilly’ where the presenter hasn’t made a very good case.  It’s like a trump card.  I am now expected to believe what they couldn’t show from the Word because they got “a word” from God.  This un-provable experience is now expected to be a spiritual authority over what I understand from God’s Holy Word.

How can anyone PROVE that didn’t happen?  Actually it’s pretty simple.  You don’t prove it didn’t happen.  You prove it is irrelevant and even if true God wouldn’t want you to use it for evidence or as authoritative.  I’m not doubting the Lord can speak to anyone at anytime.  However this would be personal revelation.  Each individual who gets such revelation is still bound by scripture to give their evidence from scripture.  Why?  Because no one can exegete (properly interpret and demonstrate) that another persons experiences are true or from God.  What God “says” to you He did not say to me.  I am not to trust in man according to scripture.  Further they themselves are to test such experiences against scripture.  If they have done so they can make a case from scripture.  Am I to believe that a Christian would have me take their word over (or without) scripture?  Would God have me do so?  Would God have you wasting my time dealing with your experience as evidence and not have you find your evidence in the Word and present that?  I don’t think so.

I read a great response to the ‘God told me’ spiritual trump card the other day.  I’ll apply it to the example above.  “Well, the Lord told me just yesterday while I was praying that you would present this ‘fishfilly’ doctrine to me.  He told me it was from the devil and I should rebuke you.  Further He told me that the evidence that mine was a true ‘word from God’ and yours was not, would be that when I told you that you had a demon you would not believe me.”  See, now how is anyone going to prove either of those statements right or wrong?  It’s easy.  Just apply the simple and true doctrines above and go to The Word.  God is not wasting my time with the personal revelations of men.  I can safely and rightly rebuke or ignore them.  Even if the propositions are true in the claims of the personal ‘revelations’ from God, I am not to believe them until demonstrated from scripture.

God may inspire you with a personal revelation.  God will never tell you to share it as evidence.  He gave us his infallible and inerrant Word for evidence.  Scripture Alone is our standard.  That standard is given in scripture.


Now, how about “God is trying to tell me…”.

This one is pretty simple to me.  Just one look at the first and third words says it all.  ‘God’ and ‘try’ just don’t go together.

  1. God knows everything, including how much effort it takes to make you hear.
  2. God is all powerful.  Powerful enough to make you hear.
  3. God knows which words to use that would make you understand.
  4. God knows which of your limitations He would have to overcome to make you hear and understand.
  5. GOD DOESN’T TRY!  GOD DOES…”whatever He pleases.” Psalm 115:3

If God wants to tell you something you will get it loud and clear.  If he didn’t want you to quite get it he could whisper or obscure his message I suppose.  But, in that case is he really ‘trying’ or wanting you to get it?  Now it is possible that he could be nudging you to scripture so you will find it on your own.  Then, if you find it in there, in context and interpreted correctly, you could truly say ‘God told me’ but it would be ‘in The Word’ that He told you.  This is the same way He tells everyone who hears, by His Word.  The “still small voice” was a voice that could be understood none the less.

Further which prophet or Apostle in the bible is ever said to have missed what God was telling him because God didn’t ‘try’ hard enough, speak loud enough, make himself clear enough.  There is no record of God ‘trying.’  That some didn’t understand what they saw or were given to say is true, but the visions, dreams and words were always clear to them for repeating, telling and writing.


Finally, I have on rare occasion heard this one after someone found out that they were wrong, “but I know God was speaking to me.”  This often comes after a failed prediction.  Does it matter if it’s a prediction or another form of a claim?  God spoke to His people through prophets and inspired Apostles.  They offered predictions and other truths.  If He still speaks to His people today (other than in scripture) it would be through prophets and inspired Apostles.  Every word they utter by God’s inspiration would be scripture.  We all know what the test of a prophet is.  100% every single time, else they are a false prophet.  Apostles are never wrong when speaking for God either.  To believe that God is telling you something that cannot be found in scripture is to believe that God is giving you new revelation and thus you must be a prophet or Apostle.  That’s very dangerous ground to be walking on.

In conclusion:  No, God does not intend to waste my time with any one’s “God told me”, unless it is an opportunity to help someone understand why it is wrong for them to share it (if indeed he told them at all.)  Nothing happens on accident, so I also conclude He would want me to point that out to my brother or sister.  Well, I have.

Jan 112011
 

treadBelow are some pertinent quotes from Glenn Beck’s open letter, posted January 10, 2011 at glennbeck.com in the wake of the murders and attempted assassination  in Arizona on January 8, 2011.  I merely numbered the bullet points and added emphasis:  comments in ( ) and italics.

Update 1-15:  The same letter has been reprinted with a new date of 1-13-11.  I found this when my site reported a broken link.  The 1-10 letter was gone and replaced with I think the same letter dated 1-13.  Or, I magically commented on a letter before it was written.


Do you believe that Americans, from any walk of life, can convince themselves they are freedom fighters and carry out acts of violence?  My answer is yes. If you agree then you must take a clear stand.

…come together and state that violence is off limits for all sides in a Republic.

I challenge all Americans, … to agree with all of the following.

1.  I denounce violence, regardless of ideological motivation.
2.  I denounce anyone, from the Left, the Right or middle, who believes physical violence is the answer to whatever they feel is wrong with our country.
3.  I denounce those who wish to tear down our system and (may I add “or”) rebuild it in their own image, whatever that image may be. (what does “in their own image mean anyway?)
4.  I denounce those from the Left, the Right or middle, who call for riots and violence as an opportunity to bring down and reconstruct our system. (What does Glenn think “our system” is?)
5.  I denounce violent threats and calls for the destruction of our system – regardless of their underlying ideology – whether they come from the Hutaree Militia or Frances Fox Piven.
6.  I hold those responsible for the violence, responsible for the violence. I denounce those who attempt to blame political opponents for the acts of madmen.
7.  I denounce those from the Left, the Right or middle that sees violence as a viable alternative to our long established system of change made within the constraints of our constitutional Republic. (if we are no longer a constitutional republic am I still constrained from violence, by this pledge?)

I will stand with anyone willing to sign that pledge.


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary (…), a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them(…)

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Declaration of Independence, emphasis mine.


When comparing Glenn’s pledge with the founding document of our country how do they reconcile?

Necessity

Before it was finished, the declaration to King George said it was necessary to declare independence.  Is that necessary today?  I think not.  Not yet anyway.  Will it ever be?  Were the signers itching for war?  NO!  Did they believe they would get one.  Probably.  Did they decide to suffer oppression and tyranny for sake of nonviolence? Apparently not!

Declaring causes which may impel us

This is what Glenn would have us do; and we should, we have, and we are.  What if our pleas, grievances, and demands aren’t heard?  What are the acceptable ways to plea and demand?  Are all violent methods always immoral, in every case?  This brings us to the crux of the issue.

Duty to throw off Government

If a declared cause impels us and our grievances aren’t rightly settled, how do we “throw off such Government” if we pledge nonviolence?  Do we really think those who oppose our freedom will always listen to reason?  I am not willing to denounce violence against an oppressive government.  So the answer is, no Glenn, I will not sign or make such a pledge.  Seems pretty simple to me on the pledge issue.

Glenn says he will “stand” with anyone willing to sign that pledge.  How can you stand when you pledged to lay down in the ultimate sense of both terms.  As I said in a Facebook comment about this:  “I am victim!  Hear me complain.  Or…don’t.  I mean, if you want to listen to me complain, you can…..pretty please.  Okay, what ever you want.  Sorry I spoke up….don’t hurt me…please.”


On the Other Hand!

I used to be pretty radical about things.  I’ll not say (in particular) what things or how radical.  Then I had a discussion with a fellow radical that got me to thinking.  Don’t get me wrong I still hold to the same issues that made us both radical but we parted ways about acceptable solutions.  He was ready for “the war”, almost itching for it.  I understand the urge to make things better now for “ourselves and our posterity.”  Especially the posterity part as I think my generation will probably not see the end of most of our freedoms.  That is, I think I’ll be free enough for me through my life.  Annoyed, oppressed some?  Probably, but free enough for me.  That discussion turned to voting.

He didn’t vote!  He thought it was an exercise in futility.  “We don’t really have a vote that counts,” and all that stuff.  You’ve heard it.  After considering this for a while I decided not to argue the usefulness of voting.  I actually made a political defense and a plea.  If he were to vote he would vote the same way I would.  Voting is free (today for us.)  Voting doesn’t require that much time if you’re already aware of the political climate (which he was.)  He didn’t find voting immoral.  I explained that even though he wasn’t willing to vote with me, he still expected me to pick up arms and kill and/or die with him.  “Please vote”, I asked.  It didn’t seem like I was asking much from one who was asking the ultimate from me and others.

This later got me to thinking about how many like minded people there were out there who would rather bleed or spill blood than just vote.  Would I want to stand beside them in battle, knowing that their preference was for a rifle over a ballot?  Don’t even consider that voting has any effect.  I would still perform a frivolous exercise if requested by one who would kill or die for me.  That is not asking to much!

Now on to those who share my moral and political convictions, commonly referred to as Conservative Evangelical Christians.  Below are some statistics about them.  Would I want to kill or die beside either of them based on the same principle of not bothering to vote?  I may (if necessary), but I’ll have to hold my nose while doing it and morale will certainly not be high!
The following excerpts (edited for brevity) are from Wall Builders, Congress, the Culture, and Christian Voting.  Please read it all and don’t forget that “evangelicals” are frequently counted separate than other Christians in the data.

  • Christian votingThere are three types of Christian voters in polling
    1. Christian voters – largest group; this is the group that simply self-identifies as (i.e., calls themselves) Christians
    2. Born-again voters – a Christian voter who says he has had a life-changing experience with Jesus Christ; a smaller group than that of Christian voters
    3. Evangelical voters – a born-again voter who also believes the Bible is important and who attends church, prays, and reads the Bible at least once a week; this is the group of Christians that take their faith most seriously
    1. Christian voting patterns
      1. 1992-1996: a 17% decrease in Christians who voted
      2. 1996-2000: an additional 23% decrease in Christians who voted
      3. 1992-2000: a 40% total decrease in Christians who voted
        1. There are 60 million evangelicals in America
        2. 15 million (only 1/4) of evangelicals voted in 2000
        3. Some 24 million (40%) evangelicals are not even registered to vote
    2. 2002 efforts
      1. In the 2002 election, following the dramatic drop in 1992-2000, national evangelical leaders widely urged Christians to register, vote, and vote their values
      2. The national efforts resulted in 2% increase in Christian voter turnout
    3. 2004 efforts
      1. National evangelical leaders continued to widely urge voter registration, voter turnout, and Christians voting their values
      2. Those efforts resulted in a 93% increase in Christian voter turnout (28.9 million evangelicals voted, up 93% from the 15 million that voted in 2000; of course, 28.9 million of the 60 million still means that under half of evangelicals are voting, but this still is a dramatic increase over 2000)
    4. 2006 voting efforts
      1. There was a 30% decrease in Christian voter turnout, falling from 28.9 million evangelicals down to 20.5 million
      2. The result was clearly visible in the philosophy of those elected to Congress
    5. Clearly, there is a direct correlation between Christian voter turnout and the percentage of elected leaders who embrace and reflect basic Biblical values (my added note:  you will see the correlation if you read the whole article)