Internet Convergances and Stuff

Or “A bunch of links that came to me fairly recently that I find interesting.” I think the latter is more accurate. Anyway, here some random links that I’ve found interesting (duh):

When you discuss Christian eschatology you’ll eventually come down to Revelation 20. Guaranteed. One reason I’ve become convinced of the Historic Premillennial position is because I think it does the best job of letting Revelation 20 say what it says and still integrating it into the overall New Testament picture of Jesus’ return. I really like Meredith Klein but his explanation of Revelation 20 still feels like gymnastics to me. Basically he argues that “the first resurrection” there is actually referring to Christians’ death. Before you roll your eyes, read what he has to say, he makes a fair case for that. He also shows the weakness of understanding “resurrection” there as regeneration.  Just as a side note, John uses the word protos to mean “first in a sequence” a number of times in Revelation: first of seven trumpets, bowls and seals for example.

One thing that Klein fails to take into account in his exegesis of that section is how the early church understood it. Historical theology is an important part of Biblical exegesis. If the case were as clear as he makes it out to be the early church should have recognized it in same fashion. After all, they were a lot closer to the Greek that the New Testament is written in. And yet the early church was largely Premillennial. That the early church held a particular view doesn’t close the argument but it must be considered. So I came across these quotes from the early church on the millennium and some of found them interesting. The Didache is a very early Christian document (probably around 150 AD) and it has no problem seeing the bodily resurrections as multiple and sequential.

I have to admit that The White Horse Inn played an important role in my coming to Reformed theology.  But after a while I had to stop listening. I found myself adopting a very poor attitude toward folks who are not Reformed. I’ve since stayed away from the Inn and Modern Reformation because I’m too weak to retain the good and pass over the bad. For that reason, I am not interested in Michael Horton’s new book Christless Christianity. I’ve seen folks I respect review the book favorably but I’m not big enough to read it myself. Well, John Frame is a man I really respect and trust and he read and reviewed the book. It didn’t fare well. There are so many things I’d love to quote from it but I’ll have to just pick one. Commenting simply on the title and subtitle of the book, Frame says:

We should keep in mind that such language makes the most serious indictments. To be Christless is to be doomed to Hell (John 3:36). And if someone preaches an “alternative gospel,” contrary to the gospel preached by the apostle Paul, he is to be accursed (Gal. 1:8-9). People who preach “another gospel” are not Christian friends who happen to disagree with us on this or that matter. Rather, they have betrayed Christ himself. The whole church ought to rise up against such persons and declare that they are not part of the body of Christ and that they have no part in the blessings of salvation. Indeed, if they do not repent, they have no future except eternal punishment.

In my view, many Christians (especially those in the conservative Reformed tradition that Horton and I both inhabit) use this sort of language far too loosely, even flippantly. It is time we learned that when we criticize someone for preaching “another gospel” we are doing nothing less than cursing him, damning him to Hell.

Exactly. The review goes on from there and I recommend reading it.

After reading Frame, I found it fascinating to read someone reflecting on the question “Is it possible to be legalistic about gospel-centrality?” The question was prompted by a podcast doing essentially what Horton does and what Frame laments:

His question originated in listening to a Christian podcast essentially rip apart a sermon from a Nashville pastor line by line, condemning it for not being “gospel-centered” enough. Now, I’m not going to defend the sermon – even the pastor who preached it admitted it could have been more focused on what Jesus has done for us in the gospel.

Now, in my weaker, “More Reformed Than Thou” moments, I am tempted to “not get” these objections and questions. How can you be too centered on the gospel? Well, ten years ago the nagging problem was bibliotry where we were in danger of putting the Bible above God. Now we’re in danger of putting the gospel in front of Jesus. Man, we’re messed up.

The Bible is God’s written word and it is how we come to know him in his fullness. The gospel is the good news of what Jesus accomplished in the world and is the power of God to salvation. These things are not supposed to take God’s place but are intended to lead us to him. Just like the temple before Jesus came was supposed to lead believers to God, not to the temple. So when we begin judging each other based on whether we feel one is sufficiently “gospel centered” we’re in trouble. I’m not saying that it is okay to ignore, neglect or just “assume” the gospel but I am opposed to making decisions based on shaky evidence that someone is “not gospel-centered enough.” Have care brothers and sisters.

Finally, it is amazing how consistently Atheists are inconsistant. The first of a pair of articles I read to this effect was Doug Wilson’s side of the Wilson/Hitchens discussion at The Huffington Post. And then reading Hitchens’ pieces and browsing the comments just affirmed that. Wilson’s piece is titled “Atheists Suck at being Atheists” and he’s right! Here’s Wilson’s point, the one the Atheists don’t get:

If you were to shake up two bottles of pop and place them on a table to fizz over, you could not fill up an auditorium with people who came to watch them debate. This is because they are not debating; they are just fizzing. If you were to shake up one bottle of pop, and show it film footage of some genocidal atrocity, the reaction you would get is not moral outrage, but rather more fizzing. And if you were to shake it really hard by means of art school, and place it in front of Michelangelo’s David, or the Rose Window of Chartres Cathedral, the results would not really be aesthetic appreciation, but more fizzing still.

His point is that a consistent Atheistic worldview would deny that feelings, truth or beauty matter or are real. We’re just a bunch of chemicals fizzing away so what does it matter if some of those chemicals get killed for no “reason” and if some make others do their “will” and others “believe” that they were made by a Great Chemist in the Sky. If there is no God then that’s all there is and none of it matters. Period. Fortunately, most Atheists are grossly inconsistant on this.

And then I read a piece by John Piper in The World on Bertrand Russel and his weird worldview. Russel was an Atheistic philosopher who wrote Why I’m Not A Christian. Russel really argued the problem of evil (i.e. if God is all-powerful and good and there is evil in the world then either God isn’t all-powerful, isn’t good or doesn’t exist.) John Piper was introduced to Russel’s work when he was in college at a Christian school and was helped to see the absurdity of it all. Russel essentially argued that we’re bags of chemicals and none of it matters and yet he loved and cared for his children and his wives (he’d remarried). Piper points out how disjointed all of this is. It ruins Russel’s argument because he didn’t apply it consistently.

Bertrand Russel died in 1970. But it is reassuring to know that contemporary Atheists are every bit as inconsistant as Russel was. When they become consistent the world is not safe.

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  • I would not be too critical of atheists. First, the blanket assertion that, if our existences are limited to this one life, that makes our lives meaningless is not only unfounded, but if you thought through the notion of living eternally, you’d have to explain how ANYTHING would be meaningful, especially in a place of utter, sterile perfection! It’s precisely because our lives are short that everything we do is meaningful, or at least, can be.

    Also, to critisize us atheists all the while claiming that the “real meaning” has to do with a deity who began creation with the plan to end up torturing billions of people for all eternity, just because he chooses to, is HARDLY an argument for some sort of “meaning to life.” The best you can hope for is that this Cosmic Nazi won’t do the same to you! How is that “meaningful”?

    I’ve actually written an entire book on this topic–“Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There’s No Such Place As Hell,” (for anyone interested, you can get a free Ecopy of my book at my website:, but if I may, I’d like to share with you one of the many points I make in it to explain why your hope for Heaven is futile, and anything but something to give you a legitimate meaning to life.

    Let’s say you end up in Heaven trying to sing endless praises to a God who is, simultaneously, torturing billions of others. Unless you are given a de facto lobotomy (in which case, YOU would no longer be YOU, so you might as well have not had a soul to begin with), you would have to begin wondering, “When am I next?” and the joy of Heaven would be lost, replaced by gloom and foreboding! Why? Because you could never rely on a God who is so mean to be honest about making any exceptions.

    After all, which is more difficult? For God to actively cause so much immense pain, for so many, for so long, or to go back on whatever promises he made to a few others that he would not put them in Hell too at some point?

    It would be like accepting an invitation to live as a guest with one of these maniacal men we’ve been hearing about lately who kidnap, imprison, rape and torture young girls in secret basements. Can you imagine such a guy, simultaneously, having some other young lady as his dinner date, and treating her with respect and care? And even if he did for a while, wouldn’t his true nature unleash itself upon her at some point in time, as it has on so many others? Of course!

  • Hi Rick! Thanks for the comment. Just a few comments.

    My criticism of atheism as well as Wilson’s was for the lack of a consistent application of the principle. We’re just a bags of chemicals so why get all bothered what I believe or say?

    You said that our lives are meaningful. Why? In 10,000 years the sun will go out and nothing any of us did here will make a bit of difference. In a couple of billions of years the universe will blink back out of existence in a cosmic collapse. Neither Robert Frost’s greatest poem nor Joe Schmoe’s giving a bum two bits in 1923 will make any difference at all. How can our lives have any meaning in that scenario?

    You seem to have gotten your idea of the afterlife from The Far Side or cheesy 1950s TV. We won’t be sitting around playing harps and floating on clouds. That’s a heaven without Jesus and I’m not interested in that.

    As far as hell goes, what about them Nazis? Hitler killed millions in death camps and in war and then capped himself at the end before he could be brought to human justice. So now he no longer exists and he got away with it, right?

  • I encounter this “fellow Christian bashing” at school a lot. Preachers here sometimes go so far as to paint evangelicals as false teachers because of their approach to the culture. We reformed and/or evangelicals can be just as bad though. We look at Fundamentalist Christians and we paint them as heretics because of their minor doctrinal errors.

  • Sad but true Sean. We’re so quick to think we’re right about every thing and therefore anyone who disagrees is out in left field.

    Christianity is a religion of grace not works. I wish more Christians would act like that.

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