Towards a short response to the Premil deception, part 1

I like Rev Schwertely.  His tapes on the follies of Christian Reconstructionism and the Federal Vision are very good. I was told to read his paper on the premillennial deception.  I don’t have the time or emotional energy to do a full response, but there goes:

Is there a literal interpretation

He begins by challenging the standard premillennial objection that they alone hold to a literal meaning.  I think fewer premillennial scholars today are actually saying that.  We all grant that there is symbolism in the Bible.  The challenge, though, is for the non-millennialist to justify inserting a symbolic meaning into this passage from somewhere else in Scripture. I hold to the analogia fide as do they, but that doesn’t give one carte blanche to insert meanings.

He says that premillennialism bases its case on a literal reading of Revelation 20.  This is not true.  Revelation 19-20 is very specific about key moments, but the structure is already in place.   As amillennialist Vern Poythress acknowledges, the strongest argument for premillennialism is not Revelation 20 but Zechariah 14.

The Day of the Lord

He writes,

Actually, there is no gap between these events. In fact, as will be shown, the Bible teaches that these events are to occur on the very same day. (p.2)

I am not convinced that “The Day of the Lord” always means the final eschatological day in Scripture.  I don’t rest anything on that case, but the phrase is used numerous times in different ways in the Bible.  I am not going to quote it exactly because the Adobe reader doesn’t help, but he deals with 1 Corinthians 15:23-25 on p.3.  He says the passage reads that all final events happen at once, precluding a 1,000 year gap.  But that is not how tagmati reads in the Scripture. Walter Kaiser capably argues,

The Greek word for “turn” is a military term (Tagmati), meaning “rank,” “squad,” or “platoon.” So all are resurrectible, i.e., they can “be made alive,” but only in distinct squads, platoons, or divisions.  This text lists three such squads: (1) [vs 23] “Christ, the firstfruits,” [at the first Easter morning] (2) “then, when he comes for those who belong to him,” and (3) [vs 24] “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power” (emphasis mine).  The most important matter to note is that Christ’s resurrection sets the pattern for the two resurrections that are to follow in the plan of the Kingdom of God. It is also important to note that there is a temporal space of time between the resurrections as indicated by the word “then,” which in Koine and Classical Greek is represented by the words that always go together: epeita …. eita, (“then …. Then).”  These two are routinely found together in Greek to represent a time period between them as in the Gospel record, “First the blade and then the ear and then the full corn [old world wheat and the like] doeth appear.

He then gives the standard non-millennialist argument against the two-resurrection language.   I don’t intend a point-by-point rebuttal, but it needs to be said that if Revelation 20 is read in a straightfoward manner, and my exegesis of 1 Corinthians 15 is correct, then there is no problem.

On Revelation 19

He says the premillennial reading of Revelation 19 is contradictory because at the end of the chapter all of God’s enemies are destroyed and there are no nations left.   But one has to ask, “Where in the text does it say that all nations are destroyed?”  It doesn’t.  It merely says all of the Beast’s army is destroyed.  I think everyone, dispenational and non-millennial, is operating with this New World Order mentality of the Antichrist’s total control over humanity.  Tim Lahaye is largely responsible for this.  But I don’t think the Bible says this.  Further, if the premillennial reading of Revelation 20 stands (for argument’s sake), then the premillennialist can easily account for the wicked nations at the end of the millennium.  The postmillennialist is in no easier position:  if the Gospel Christianizes the world then from where does the great apostasy come?

Heavenly versus Earthly Rule

If he can show that the term “rule” in the Bible denotes “heavenly rule,” then he has a strong case against the premillennialist.  I admit that yes, we see Jesus ruling from heaven right now.  I am not clear how this precludes a future ruling on earth, since Revelation 5 says the saints will reign on earth.   Further, and I haven’t developed this point but it looks promising, the New Testament suggests that “ruling” and “resurrected bodies” are correlated.   If I can develop that argument, then premillennialism wins the day regardless of any other counter-argument.

Conclusion

I got to about page 10 of the article.   To keep this from becoming too long I will review it in several posts.

 

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4 comments on “Towards a short response to the Premil deception, part 1

  1. olivianus says:

    What about the passages that teach a general judgment?

  2. Regarding I Cor. 15:23-25 you might find this paper interesting:

    An Exegeticial Defense pf Postmillennialism from I CORINTHIANS 15:24-26:
    The Eschatology of the DIXIT DOMINUS

    http://www.wordmp3.com/files/gs/postmill.htm

    BTW I agree with your comment regarding “The Day of the Lord”. As a partial preterist, I see such a phrase as sometimes applicable to Christ’s “Day of the Lord judgement upon Jerusalem in AD 70. (e.g. 1 Thess 5:1-4; 2 Thess 2:1-2). Its also interesting to note how “Day of the Lord” in the OT is often in reference to God’s judgement and destruction upon OT Jerusalem, and not to the world at large.

    You also ask:

    if the Gospel Christianizes the world then from where does the great apostasy come?

    Answer: would not a future great apostasy presume a previously great Christianization of the world from which such a great falling away would come from? So IOW the answer is found in your very own question: a Christianized world.

    BTW Gary North defended the doctrine of the future falling away (the apostasy of Rev 20) in his book, Dominion and Common Grace. A view also held by Bahnsen and Gentry. Where as fellow postmills, Dr. Nigel Lee, Loraine Boettner, and BB Warfield all denied such a future falling away. Believing instead in a doctrine of “eschatological universalism” (i.e. all men living in the last generation will be saved by Christ)

    http://dr-fnlee.org/leerev.pdf

    • Strawbrdige is to be commended for at least attempting to deal with the tagmati force. I don’t think he is successful.

      He writes,
      ***The “end” is not when the kingdom is initiated, but rather when it is finalized. The idea that the telos is an end period is not warranted by Paul’s grammar, contextual discussion, nor his use of the term.***

      BUt the epeita…eita construction is used elsewhere to suggest a period of time (similar to Paul’s analogy of the corn ear), so Strawbridge’s claim is false.

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