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THINKING THROUGH A NARRATIVE SOTERIOLOGY (#2)

INTRO

Back in May 2018, I offered up a #1 in what I knew would become a series of articles on narrative soteriology (an understanding of salvation as understood through the Biblical story). In this article, I will continue, prayerfully with increased clarity, outlining a narrative perspective on how we should gain understandings of salvation.

You can read article #1 at the following link, https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/thinking-through-a-narrative-soteriology-1/

NARRATIVE THEOLOGY

In detailing Narrative Theology, I explained that, “This interpretative style not only runs against the all too popular method of “proof-texting” (which lacks context), it also stands contrary to the historical- grammatical method of interpretation, the continuous-historical method, and the redemptive-movement method. Many have seemingly missed how these interpretative methods influence their own interpretations, not to mention the various principles that are outlined through each of the methods. However, the narrative-historical method of interpretation is no easy effort, and often requires detailed explanations (akin to storytelling), rather than the easy answers and superficial responses many have developed and offered up (either by assumption or “Tradition”).”

TOTAL DEPRAVITY?

I had mentioned two particular areas of theology that I have recently come to understand, which stand in contrast to some popular teachings I may have previously agreed with. For example, I had previously held to a presupposed understanding of “Total Depravity” as 16th century reformer John Calvin would have outlined it. In article # 1, I stated “It would seem that all throughout the Scriptures, man is beset by sin (weakened not necessarily dead), oftentimes wandering in idolatry (darkness).  So, it also seems that God brings forth His light (Truth), and it shines offering those to whom it shines the opportunity to pursue, walk toward, and dwell in it. The determining factor seems to be what man sets his mind on and pursues. Those with good and honest hearts, God strengthens and draws in through the Gospel (Luke 8:15). Those steeped in idolatry and leaning upon their own understanding (cf. Proverbs 3:5), being unreasonable and set against the Truth, God rewards in keeping with their idolatry, and so they stay stuck in darkness (cf. Proverbs 4:19; Ezekiel 14:4; John 3:19-20).”

“IN ADAM”

Also, as I have studied and developed this narrative understanding, and furthermore have highlighted a metanarrative (story within the story), I noted in article #1 that, “I am becoming more and more convinced that it is improper to develop a systematic approach to New Covenant soteriology based upon what was revealed in and through Adam (as I have previously said and asserted a few times). Namely, because what is revealed through the story of Adam is the story of the Old Covenant.” I am currently working on some teaching resources in regards to proper “In Adam” teachings.

What I would like to do in this #2 article is share two recent learning points I have been blessed with and offer an update on my understanding of some of the details that come from this conversation. To preface this detailed study, I’d like to share a point I made on my social media earlier today, “I promote what I would call an “effective Christian foundation”, which is not getting caught up in the minutia/ details of repentance, confession, baptism, and maturity – but rather putting together the Biblical narrative (in context) and applying the details that seem simple enough and convict us (granted this may change per Believer). That is not to say that I won’t entertain conversation and study about the details, nor seek further conviction regarding how they apply. However, my stake and claim is found in maturity, not the rudimentary principles of conversion.”

LEARNING POINTS

At The Blue Point Bible Church (www.bluepointbiblechurch.org) we have been going through the details of the Exodus. This past Sunday I preached about the type and antitype of being “baptized into Moses”. The Apostle Paul emphasizes that this was an example upon them whom the end/goal of the ages had come (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11). In the sermon that I preached I detailed significant factors such as “audience relevance” putting the antitype of “baptism in Moses” to be the shift of the covenant (i.e., baptism in Moses represented the Old Covenant, and “baptism in Christ” represents the New Covenant) and the correlation of water and wind/spirit in Exodus chapter 14 and John 3:5. Interestingly enough, Pastor Steve, Pastor Emiritus at BPBC made a good point after the sermon, the baptism in Moses was “in the sea, and in the cloud” (cf. 1 Cor. 10), yet the Israelites did not get wet. The water was not the distinction, rather the work of God (God with them) was the distinction. As you outline and follow with understanding the type and antitype of this baptism, it would seem to highlight more of identification with the covenant rather than the mode of the baptism. You can listen to that sermon at the following link,  http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/785921-saturate-healing-the-historical-amnesia-in-the-church

Also, as we have been studying different aspects of God’s sovereignty and man’s ability in our Saturday Bible Study at BPBC, we came upon Ephesians  2:7, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He has loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved) and has raised us up together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus”.

This seems to highlight the points I have been making in regards to the need to not only pay attention to pronouns, but also in recognizing the time of the Elect to be the first century. From Ephesians 2:7 it would seem that God did something for the “us” He raised up in that time (“showing kindness toward” them) in an effort that in ages to come (NOW), through His Church (Ephesians 3:10), He would “show the exceeding riches of His grace”. Our understanding of God’s grace comes from looking back at the kindness He showed to His elect during that time of transition until the time of reformation (AD 70). I know Tony Denton’s resources have been encouraging and challenging in regards to the “transition time” and the details of salvation. Two verses Mr. Denton brings to mind are Luke 21:22 and Hebrews 9:15, and obviously there are a host more that really challenge us to contextually put together the narrative and then apply the details.

BAPTISM

Speaking of Tony Denton, he makes some interesting points that need to be considered when gaining an understanding of baptism as it relates to the time of transition. View his video at the following link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNt8-r14sOo

I have continued my studies and conversations with preacher Holger Neubauer in regards to baptism and have finally begun to offer up some conclusive remarks. In early August 2018, I shared with Holger that through my studies I have come to see the need to develop an “effective Christian foundation” in a Believer’s life rather than dwell upon the specifics. I am outlining this “foundation” as the need to hear the Gospel, repent, confess Jesus Christ, participate in water baptism as an emblem of faith, and mature in Christ. This is built upon the estimation that our goal is to create lives that love with a pure heart, maintain a good conscience toward God and others, and possess a sincere faith (cf. 1 Timothy 1:5).

This is not me developing some new understanding. Rather, this is based upon study of a few resources, some of which I am continuing, and therefore offering up an understanding in clarity of what I see to be a rather confused and lengthy study. For example, in his series, ‘Where’s The Water’, Dr. Kelly Nelson Birks explains and details the proper parsing of the verbs in regards to the Greek word used for baptism.  Dr. Birks charges that most interpretations of “water baptism” are based upon assumptions of water. Also, Garth Wierbe, an online Biblical commentator, in an article on baptism offered up the following insight, “If the Scriptures really wanted to emphasize or limit the meaning of baptism to what we do in “water baptism” they would have used “bapto” (in the Greek) not “baptizo”.” In reference to Acts chapter 2, Mr. Wierbe notes, “What are each of them to be baptized into? Into the pardoning of sin…And when will that happen? When they change their minds based on what was just preached to them about Jesus Christ”.

This seems to be more in line with what “one baptism” we mark out as important. Baptism in Christ is not and “in and out situation”, like water baptism, but rather an immersion into something that absorbs and transforms. Matter of fact, it is because I believe baptism into Christ to be so much more than “water baptism”, I was able to agree with Church of Christ preacher Steve Baisden, in his article ‘Baptism For What?’, when he stated, “If baptism for the remission of sin is all that is involved for a baptism to be valid, why then did Paul demand the disciples to be rebaptized (cf. Acts chapter 19)? After all, they were baptized for the remission of their sins (Mark 1:4)”.

Baptism into Christ is far more than a remission of sins, far more than an obsession with water, rather baptism in Christ is belief in and immersion/identification with Christ (cf. Mark 16:15-16), or a repentance from a false belief and identification with the name of Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 2:38). In Romans chapter 10, the Apostle Paul says if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus (this is an act of repentance and confession/ belief) and shall believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (this is baptism/ immersion into/ identification with Christ, more than mere belief), you shall be saved”. Consider this, “For with the heart a man he believes in righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (cf. Romans 10:10) sounds a lot like the point Jesus Christ made in Matthew 15:18 (if what comes out of a man’s mouth defiles him; therefore, they must also be able to make him clean). Consider the following texts that seem to make the case for this understanding – 1 John 1:9; Matthew 10:32-33; 1 Timothy 6:12.  Furthermore, Hebrews chapter 6 seems to urge us to a maturity that is beyond foundational things (which includes but is not limited to details of baptism and the resurrection of the dead). A maturity which I believe is expounded upon by the things listed in  2 Peter chapter 1.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

A charge of “let us move on to maturity” does not necessarily limit the importance of these details nor disregard them, but rather places emphasis on the fact that these need not be the things that constantly set us in opposition. I know I will surely continue my studies in this area, and prayerfully continue to be blessed and challenged by conversations with brother Holger Neubauer.

Holger has charged that I am guilty of a “tautology”, which is an unnecessary repetition, is regards to my understanding of baptism. Sure enough this is an argument used by a Baptist to charge the need of Christian Baptism during the 1800’s. Richard Ingham, in his ‘Appeal To Friends on Christian Baptism’ remarked, “The supposition that Christ meant the baptism of the Spirit, …involves the most unnatural and improbable tautology”. You can read his statement and points at the following link, https://books.google.com/books?id=1FEqjQULJZYC&pg=PA40&lpg=PA40&dq=tautology+baptism&source=bl&ots=rUvJKZpIAu&sig=gdl7lGKljp577iPvFrTNDkS1llg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjj78iesZDdAhUynOAKHWCRAUkQ6AEwBHoECAYQAQ#v=onepage&q=tautology%20baptism&f=false

Mr. Ingham and Holger have charged that this understanding of baptism (to be immersed into the teachings of Christ) that it would therefore create the unnecessary statement of “make disciples and make disciples” in Matthew 28:19-20 or “believe and believe” in Mark 16:15-16. This is not so. The Greek words used in both passages, matheteo – teach, and pisteuo – believe –  mark out mental assent, whereas the word baptize means to be fully immersed. Therefore, what Christ is ultimately saying is, Go and tell the nations the Gospel, teaching them and lead them to confess and repent, and thereby make disciples by immersing them into the faith and the works of following after Jesus Christ. No tautology.

In reference to why I place “water baptism” into my understanding of an “effective Christian foundation”, is that there are passages where simply put, water does show up. I am still looking for solid answers in those regards. In my going through various studies on baptism, noting that different “camps” have different versions of what they mark out as baptism in the Bible, it becomes a convoluted argument and many times hard to assess how important water baptism is. For example, Holger Neubauer shared a great Facebook post regarding the 7 Baptisms in the Bible, I had mentioned to him finding a previous article that listed 7 other versions of baptism, and sure enough I just finished reading through Dr. Peter S. Ruckman’s version of the 7 Baptisms in the Bible. Yikes!

I believe as I mentioned above, that our role as Christians “making known the manifold wisdom of God” and bringing “healing to the nations” through the Water of Life, is to help create and foster lives that love with a pure heart, maintain a good conscience toward God and others, and possess a sincere faith (cf. 1 Timothy 1:5). Moving forward I will continue to assert and maintain my convictions of a an effective Christian foundation – Gospel proclamation, repentance, confess, water baptism, and maturity – and not get bogged down by details, but rather teaching these things aiming for clarity and conviction, neither allowing hypotheticals to become to norm (a great insight from Holger Neubauer).
Blessings in Christ,
Michael Miano, pastor
The Blue Point Bible Church

 

“Salvation is more than a profession of faith, or a dip in a baptisty, or a moral life, or conformity to external rules of religion. It’s more than _______________________ (fill in the blank). Salvation is the supernatural transformation whereby one is renewed inwardly and thereby transformed outwardly”. – Richard Belcher, Journey in Grace

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Book Review: ‘Tyrant’ by Brian Godawa

One thing I must say at the outset is that this book, Tyrant, by Mr. Brian Godawa was astounding in bringing forth well researched history and the style in which it was done. Simply reading the “Must Read” on viii had me excited to begin reading a historical-fiction book. Mind you, I haven’t read a fiction book in years (and was committed to the notion I prefer nonfiction). Not so much anymore.   Tyrant

Not only does Brian write in such a prolific way, he also has quite the imagination and brings out details in a way that keeps you involved in the story. The last “Christian fiction” novel I read was most likely something by Frank Perretti (which I enjoyed but categorize as simply fiction). And while the imagery of the Spiritual warfare many share a similar tone, Mr. Godawa constructs historical scenes mixed with such spirituality that allows for an intellectually satisfying journey (despite possibly disagreeing on our conceptual understand of the “Spirit world”).

‘Tyrant’ starts out in early AD 64, wherein we began to see the historic fulfillment of the “coming of the Lord” (as Biblically understood). I enjoyed Mr. Godawa’s highlighting of the narrative perspective of the “war of the Seed” which began at Genesis 3:15 and finds it’s conclusion in Romans 16:20 and Revelation 12:7-12 (and he did mention he gives more details in that regarding in his series, ‘Chronicles of the Nephilim’).

An interest detail I might like to talk through with Mr. Brian Godawa (look forward to a possible future podcast on MGW Radio) would be our seeming agreement regarding the work of Satan in and through the Roman-Jewish authorities in the 1st century. In speaking about Satan, or Apollyon as he is referred to throughout ‘Tyrant’, it is said, “I was the Great Adversary in Yahweh’s Heavenly Court, they called me the “Accuser of the Brethren”. Well the Nazarene stripped me of that power and cast me down to this stinking exile of dirt…I have no legal jurisdiction over the children of God…I no longer have power to prosecute, but I have the ability to persecute”. Following that point, Mr. Godawa details a Jewish authority remarking, “I have not yet used the power of Rome”. Now, moving past the “Divine Heavenly Council” (which I have come to disagree with). I am wondering if Mr. Godawa would agree with understand the binding, loosing, and destroying of the “strong man” as detailed by Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 12 as involving exactly that – the Romans and the Jews working together to destroy the Christians (which becomes self-destroying effort). More of a historical narrative, I would highlight this as the Spiritual tone behind the “thousand years” of Revelation chapter 20. God willing, Mr. Godawa might talk in that regard.

I could truly go on and on detailing the immense amount of insights Brian shared throughout this book (that also explains why the notes in the back are pretty much half of the actual book). He went into details about abortion policies in Rome at that time, “gender-inclusive religions elimination sexual differences”, and the horrors of “infant exposure”. He pained the proper ugly picture of historic Rome’s religious and cultural influences. And he marks out Rome as the “iron and clay beast” of the Book of Daniel. He easily explained how the imagery of the “mark of the beast” should be understood (cf. Revelation 13:16-18; Deuteronomy 6:6-8), namely as Spiritual fornication with Rome. Mr. Godawa spoke about the polytheistic religions of Rome and highlighted points that should have cause us to reflect on our theology today. Consider these insights:

“Roman polytheists saw the world as a drama of the God’s in conflict with differing intents and motivations. For the Jew, Yahweh placed good kings in power to bless and wicked kings to chastise. But, in either case, Yahweh was accomplishing His purposes, and His will could not be thwarted (cf. Job 12:16-25; 42:1-2).”

“Polytheism appeared to be an inclusive religion of tolerance, but really, it was a jealous god. An all-encompassing system of Spiritual slavery”.

To bring this review to a conclusion I simply want to highlight some really great details that Mr. Godawa brought out in ‘Tyrant’, that I imagine many in the theological circles I navigate while appreciate.

In speaking about “Heaven and Earth” as a “covenant term”, Mr. Godawa notes, “In the Torah, God used the concept of a poetic metaphor for the covenant. The Old Covenant and its elements of temple and sacrifice were likened to the old heavens and earth. The New Covenant would be a shaking of that old world and the establishment of a new heavens and earth”. He also mentions in another place, “The shaking of the heavens and earth, the failure of the sun, moon, and stars was all figurative language that the Hebrew prophets used to describe the collapse of earthly regimes, and the spiritual powers behind them. Jeremiah used the same symbols to describe the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians. Isaiah used the same symbols to describe the fall of Babylon and of Judah. Ezekiel used the same symbols for the destruction of Egypt”.

And of course as a Preterist, it was exciting to read proper theology of the “last days” in such a format. Mr. Godawa goes on to point out that the 42 months of Revelation 13:5-7, the Great Tribulation, is the Roman-Jewish War of AD 64-70. In the Notes in the back of the book, Mr. Godowa provides extensive historical research regarding “The End of What?” Also, he provides insights regarding the Preterist view in the back of the book. I rather enjoyed the following insight he shared about “recapitulation” as found in the Book of Revelation. “You have to think like a Hebrew to understand the symbols. The judgement is severe. But the repetition of numbers and judgements reflects a common technique used by Jewish writers called recapitulation…It a cyclical repetition, a way of saying the same thing in three different ways. The seals, the trumpets, and the bowls are all referring to the same judgements from three different perspectives…Each seal, trumpet, and bowl judgment provides a different perspective and adds more detail to the picture as it progresses toward the final judgement. It operates as a kind of spiraling whirlpool of meaning, not a chronological order of events”.  

I do indeed look forward to a future dialogue with Mr. Brian Godawa. To go over some details mentioned herein and to gain his response to what historical books/ information helped him put all the historical details together in such a way?

Get your hands on the book. Here is a link for purchase, https://godawa.com/books/chronicles-of-the-apocalypse/tyrant-rise-of-the-beast/

I’ll conclude with two points to ponder from the book, which clearly exemplifies how reading his books can invigorate your missionality in understanding and following after Jesus Christ.

“They spent too much time and energy quibbling over petty doctrines among themselves – the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, the Zealots – rather than achieving real action and reform”.

“…it takes more than political discontent, emotional zeal, and a charismatic leader to create an effective result. It takes true Believers – and real strategy”.

Many thanks to Brian for this enjoyable read!

For the Glory of God,

Michael Miano
Pastor, Blue Point Bible Church

 

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THINKING THROUGH A NARRATIVE SOTERIOLOGY (#1)

BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION

In the past couple months, I have engaged much discussion pertaining to soteriology (the doctrines of salvation). In March 2018, I participated in an online debate against the “Israel Only View”, wherein I presented a case for understanding the continuance of Biblical salvation by developing the Biblical narrative and the overlapping meta-narrative, and I also asserted my Calvinistic leanings. Also, in March 2018, I presented two lectures at the Examining Crossroads: Biblical Controversies Conference regarding salvation – Conceptual Salvation (in which I explained that the Hebrew notions of salvation were oftentimes pictorial and abstract) and Soma Salvation (which detailed the salvation of a “body” of people as expressed in and through the New Testament; oftentimes understood as “resurrection of the dead”).

Due to the variety of interpretative styles that are brought to the details of Scripture, in my presentations I have harped on the need to develop a narrative-historical interpretation. This interpretative style not only runs against the all too popular method of “proof-texting” (which lacks context), it also stands contrary to the historical- grammatical method of interpretation, the continuous-historical method, and the redemptive-movement method. Many have seemingly missed how these interpretative methods influence their own interpretations, not to mention the various principles that are outlined through each of the methods. However, the narrative-historical method of interpretation is no easy effort, and often requires detailed explanations (akin to storytelling), rather than the easy answers and superficial responses many have developed and offered up (either by assumption of “Tradition”). The narrative-historical approach allows for us to truly think through the details as presented in the context of the story.

THE BIBLICAL CONTEXT OF SALVATION

The consistent framework of understanding salvation as revealed through the Scriptures has been referred to as “historia salutis” (the summary of salvation history).  As I have studied through the topic of salvation and have come to have almost an obsession with developing the Biblical narrative, I have realized how tightly woven together other doctrines are with the details of our “common salvation” (cf. Jude 3). For example, the congregation at The Blue Point Bible Church recently participated in a group discussion about the influence of Preterism on the doctrines of salvation. Noting things such as the importance of the Old Testament influence on the New Testament, the different tenses of salvation found in the New Testament (simultaneously being saved and waiting for salvation), and much more – many of us admitted that coming to understand Preterism changed or enhanced our view of salvation.

A PRESUPPOSITIONAL CALVINIST

Admittedly, despite the all-too-common frustration many seem to have with the doctrines of Calvinism, I have felt rather comfortable in my “Calvinistic presuppositions” until more recently.  I preached an entire series on Calvinism while I was studying through the Institutes of the Christian Religion back in 2014-2015. My Calvinistic leanings have not gone un-challenged both than and today. You can read an article I wrote back in 2015 on the topic at the following link, https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/always-reforming-confusion-clarity-controversy/

Many students of Scripture seeking a “ring of truth” while examining doctrines of Calvinism have offered up differing explanations of the details. Navigating Calvinistic circles of influence, it’s common to hear people speak of what point Calvinist they are (“I am a __ point Calvinist). This is usually done to speak to which details of Calvinistic doctrine one holds to (also highlighting the tenets not held to). I had also read a great book a while back called, PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery, wherein he offered a different acronym (PROOF instead of TULIP) and clarifying details, as well as some challenges to the systematic theology as offered up by 15th century reformer, John Calvin. In my humble attempt to understand these things I have come out saying that “I am a presuppositional Calvinist”, which means I generally agree with the doctrines of salvation as noted in the Canons of Dort, and/or summarized through the acronym TULIP.

So…what I would like to do through this blog, which may become a series of blogs, is go through the systematic details of understanding salvation all the while surveying the Scriptures through a narrative-historical approach. As advocate of such approach, Dr. Andrew Perriman has said, “The narrative-historical approach to interpretation of Scripture provides us with a much more rigorous and credible connection with Scripture than the selective, reductive and distorting approach of much modern evangelical theology (paraphrased)”. That being so, our study will take on a few dimensions – looking at and examining various aspects of the redemptive story that graces the pages of Scripture, proving/ examining certain doctrinal tenets, and arriving at conclusions based on the developed narrative – not presuppositions or “proof texts”.

THE CREATION OF LIGHT IN THE MIDST OF A FORMLESS & VOID EARTH

A failure to read Genesis 1:1 in context of the whole of Scripture and to properly assess “heaven and earth” as a term used for God’s people has caused many to assume to that the “Genesis creation account” is about the beginning of the planet and/or the universe. “Rightly dividing” the creation account allows for us to begin a healthy understand of what God was doing in and through His covenant people to further develop His working in and through them. This has led me to embracing a view referred to as “Covenant Creation”.

Approaching Genesis chapter 1 through the lens of “Covenant Creation” highlights God’s sovereignty in calling and creating a people for Himself. In the ancient near eastern world (ultimately where the Book of Genesis finds its emergence), the people would develop cuneiform tablets called “temple texts” that highlighted the sovereignty of a certain God over certain things. When we look at those “temple texts” (many of which were unearthed during excavations in the 1950’s), we can see similarities between them and the Book of Genesis. This gives us good reason to read the Book of Genesis and the details therein as a “temple text” considering the historical context and audience relevance rather than the modern presupposed perspectives. Rather than obsessing about and noting all the confusion within Christian circles regarding what day God created certain things and the specifics of how long the days were, a proper reading of Genesis chapter 1 highlights all that the One True God is sovereign over (all the while appreciating the 7-day structure of the “temple text”). Outside of all the debated features of the text, one thing is for sure, the sovereignty of God is presupposed by the text (the silliness of modern atheism is defeated by understanding how the ancients viewed and valued the wonder of creation).

As the term “heaven and earth” denotes, God’s people, have a dual reality. God’s people are called by heaven all the while having purpose and a living situation on earth. Genesis 1:2 details what that living situation was like at the beginning – “formless and void, darkness over the face of the waters. However, God’s Spirit hovered over the waters”. Doing an in-depth study into the Hebraic words used in Genesis 1:1-3 reveals so much imagery and covenant details. The imagery of the head of a river (Hebrew word “bereshit”), a “tohu wabohu eretz” (formless and void land), a darkness over the waters, and the hovering of God’s Spirit, all point to God doing a work in the midst of a chaotic environment. Some have come to refer to this work of God as a “covenant creation”. Of great importance is that God’s first creative act in Genesis 1:4 is the creation of light. This is not to be confused with a physical/ material light (as is later mentioned in Genesis 1:14-19). Rather, this light as cited and detailed by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:6 is the light that brings awareness and knowledge of God (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:5). It is the giving of that light that represents God forming something of value from the previous condition of being “formless and void”.

The creation of Adam as the “image of God” in Genesis 1:26-28 also bears striking resemblance to the image-creating and image-bearing of the ancient near east. Not only did the ANE “temple text” highlight all that the certain god was sovereign over, the “temple text” also made known what image should be used to represent said god. The Genesis creation account departs from being similar to other ANE temple texts in that it elevates humanity over other creatures, and humanity (specifically the progeny of Adam) is made to display the image of God. Unfortunately, many have tried to create a consistent theology of putting all men in the image-bearing identity (all men in Adam), which must be repudiated as inconsistent (we will deal with that as we go through this series of articles- simply by following the context of the Biblical narrative).

“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (Genesis 2:4)”.

ADAM AS ISRAEL’S STORY

Reading through the unfortunate details of Genesis chapters 2-3, with a healthy understanding of the Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation, should cause us to see what sort of story is being developed. Simply put, the creation of “heaven and earth” and the story of Adam highlights the beginning of Israel’s story, not the story of all mankind. This is an important and challenging concept, especially as so many have come to believe that Adam’s story is all humanity’s story. Therefore, our coming to grips with what is taking place through the Genesis creation account, and specifically Adam, will cause us to see divergent approaches to salvation as made known through the Scriptures. A proper frame of reference and following the historical context will demonstrate how and why the Gospel went forth to the Jew first, and then the Gentile (cf. Romans 1:16).

DARKNESS/IDOLATRY –  LIGHT/TRUTH

What this narrative approach does to our study in soteriology is it removes the all to easy approach of demanding that whatever happened to Adam and his progeny is the story and identity of all humanity (specifically, “dead in sin”, cf. Romans chapter 6). The Blue Point Bible Church Constitution states, “We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker, but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint, but choice; being by nature utterly void of what holiness required the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin…”.

Being fair, this is a citation from a Baptist Manual going back to 1853, and our congregation has seen much growth and thus changed in doctrinal details since that time. However, I believe us, and others are still prone to a subtle presupposed view of that quoted statement. Is it true? Prayerfully at this point you are catching my point, I will respond with a yes and a no.

So many get caught up in the discussion as to whether or not people existed prior to Adam (which seemingly involves a study of anthropology, history, and/or science). My goal is to move us past that, since so much has been done to prove that, into considering the outworking of how Adam represented “covenant life”, rather than the often-presupposed responses. How did Adam come to “covenant life”? How did Adam die to that reality? What would happen next?

Before we get to how Adam came to “covenant life” and his being the Image of God (which again I will assert becomes the story of “Israel of the flesh” through the Old Covenant), we must consider his state prior to that. Of course, many will assert that Adam was “uncreated”. While I agree with that notion regarding his position in relation to God, however I do not believe anything in the text speaks to Adam not being materially created (it’s imperative to realize the theology behind the creation of man in Genesis 2:7-8 –  is NOT material creation). Dr. John Walton, in his book, “The Lost World of Genesis One”, goes to great lengths in detailing that the non-creation in Genesis is speaking about the lack of function/purpose in regard to worshiping God, not the non-existence of material creation (this is also consistent with understanding the Hebrew terms for “darkness” and “formless and void” which seemingly necessitate human life before Adam). Simply put, prior to God bringing forth light, all (including Adam) were stuck in an idolatrous world (“in the world without God, without hope” cf. Ephesians 2:12).

If “darkness” is idolatry and “light” is worship of the One True God, as I believe is demonstrated from the text, then the next question becomes, “How does Adam come into the light?”

It would seem that all throughout the Scriptures, man is beset by sin (weakened not necessarily dead), oftentimes wandering in idolatry (darkness).  So, it also seems that God brings forth His light (Truth), and it shines offering mankind the opportunity to pursue, walk toward, and dwell in it. The determining factor seems to be what man sets his mind on and pursues. Those with good and honest hearts, God strengthens and draws in. Those steeped in idolatry and leaning upon their own understanding (cf. Proverbs 3:5), being unreasonable and set against the Truth, God rewards in keeping with their idolatry, and so they stay stuck in darkness (cf. Proverbs 4:19; Ezekiel 14:4; John 3:19-20).

CONCLUSION

If you have followed my studies and teachings for some time, you should have noticed a shift. I am becoming more and more convinced that it is improper to develop a systematic approach to New Covenant soteriology based upon what was revealed in and through Adam (as I have previously said and asserted a few times). Namely, because what is revealed through the story of Adam is the story of the Old Covenant. Sure, God’s covenant people were called from utter darkness by His creating the means for their salvation through His sovereignty and election. They were then subjected to death/ futility for the purpose of a greater reality (cf. Romans 8:20-21; Galatians 3:19-22). However, it seems that within that covenant, many were (and through the call of the Gospel today are) invited, however few were chosen to be His elect in that first century, and pertaining to that election, it would seem it was revealed through those who sought God with a good conscience and pursued His purposes (cf. Luke 8:15).

Thanks for following through these thoughts. Prayerfully, I have demonstrated a case for God’s sovereignty as expressed in and through the Genesis creation account. Also, I have marked out a difference regarding salvation for those “In Adam” and for those who come to Christ through the call of the Gospel today and have challenged some (if not all) of the presupposed views of being “dead in sin” due to identity in Adam. Lastly, I offered a contextually approach to the details of the Genesis creation account and the display and covenant and light as God’s sovereign work which calls all men to pursue Him.

Written by Pastor Michael Miano, The Blue Point Bible Church

WORKS CITED

Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion

Walton, John. Dr. The Lost World of Genesis One
review – https://voice.dts.edu/review/john-walton-the-lost-world-of-genesis-one/

Morrow, Jeff. http://beyondcreationscience.com/index.php?pr=Creation_as_Temple_Building

Davis, Benjamin. https://www.academia.edu/6675210/GENESIS_1_1-2_3_AS_A_THEOLOGICAL_BLUEPRINT_FOR_GOD_S_CREATIONAL_ABODE_A_PROPOSAL

Scollard, Brett. http://gracemccook.org/blog/genesis-1-2-as-a-temple-text/

 

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Israel Only: Is It Scripturally Defendable?

Israel Only - Day 1

As of this morning, 3/1 – a formal written debate has begun between Michael Miano and Michael Bradley regarding the Israel Only view. The main page for the debate is a public Facebook group. You can access it, even if you do not have Facebook at the following link, https://www.facebook.com/events/147851895931004/

However, the debate components will be posted on this blog and at http://www.powerofpreterism.wordpress.com. Below you can clink on the links to access today’s Opening Statements.

Mr. Michael Bradley’s Opening Statement,  https://drive.google.com/file/d/188ftYigkDaNzIkeJan1DHGpbZW65D5Xo/view 

Pastor Michael Miano’s Opening Statement,  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oxnC10sqZD3txOXedStYY1J5s_567apK/view

Coming Soon (3/8) – Rebuttals

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Who is That?!? Yahweh’s Divine Council (Part 2)

For the past month of so, I have continually obsessed and examined the “Divine Heavenly Council” teachings that are coming into the Church, especially pertaining to those in the Preterist view.

In part 1, we examined the phrase “ben elohim” which can mean either “sons of God” or “sons of the gods” depending on the context in which we find it being used. Neither time does the phrase speak of “otherworld being” or what we often erroneously refer to as “spirit beings”, instead some times the “sons of God” is a reference to Israel, and other times it is a reference to pagan believers (“sons of the gods”).

Let me be clear. I do believe in a “Spiritual Realm” (while I will readily admit this is an area I am willing to learn and do some study). I do believe in “spirit beings” – however I am cautious not to allow my mind to create figments of my imagination and then impose them on Scripture. As I put the Scriptural Narrative at the forefront and examine ANE literature, what I like to call taking a Biblical look at the ANE, I find the story of a God who is Spirit who is inviting His people to become like Him. The whole narrative of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is painting this picture. Our understanding of the “Spiritual realm” must start there.

With that said, I wanted to take you through some of points in the “Divine Heavenly Council” that seem to be out of sync with the rest of the Biblical narrative. In this examination I will focus on passages provided in the article by Jeffrey McCormack in Fulfilled! Magazine called “Yahweh’s Divine Council” .

Again let me reiterate the focus of this part 2, namely to show that the Scriptures and phrases used to support this teaching of “Yahweh’s Divine Council” are not being demonstrated in line with the context of the Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation.

Below we will look at some of the verses Mr. McCormack uses to propagate his view of the “watchers” being an assembling hierarchy of “little g” gods. A view in which he further states “Thus, when we read of gods such as Baal and Molech, we are reading of these angelic leaders.”

The book of Psalms is a noted as a poetic book, one of the “books of wisdom” in Scripture, which use highlight poetic/allegoric details to bring us into the Wisdom of the Father. It is important to consider what style of literature you are reading when seeking to use verses to make a point. I would hardly use the poetic language in Psalms to prove doctrinal points. In reading through the Psalms, I have found I tend to agree with the simple readings offered by translations such as NIV and NLT rather than the more dogmatic KJV or NASB. Read through the Psalms in different translations and see for yourself.

OK so, Psalm chapter 82 it seems to be a rant against the rampant idolatry in Israel. If you study through the historic context in the days of King David you will find how this fits. Israel was continually judged for their failure to heed the Wisdom of the Father by their being enticed to wickedness and idolatry. This Psalm speaks against that. The one true God, when put in a courtroom setting with the other so-called “gods” he is the true Judge, the one who lasts forever, and in due time He will bring forth judgment. Pretty much the continual cry of the righteous in Israel against the rampant idolatry.

In Psalm chapter 89, we are reading a praise of God’s sovereignty. In this praise we are reading a polemic against the other false narratives of the gods. The mention of the chaos and the serpent-creature Rahab alludes to the myths and lies of the pagan beliefs. Again, this is all done in poetic prose not to assert the validity of the pagan “gods”, simply to exclaim praise for the One True God.

Failure to understand the poetic style of these statements seems to be the issue with McCormack’s using these verses to try to validate his “Heavenly Council” stuff. Simply put, when we understand and pay attention to the genre of the Psalms, and the historical context of what was happening during the time of King David and the writing of the Psalms, the “poems” seem rather clear in depicting the sovereignty of God. Bringing strange teachings about otherworldly beings does not fit within the historic narrative and audience relevance.

In his article, Mr. McCormack writes, “Space does not permit discussing it here, but read 1 Kings 22:19-22 to see this divine council at work”. In that passage we read the prophetic words of Micaiah against King Ahab. He speaks prophetically about the sovereignty of God and how a false spirit was within the king’s prophets who told him to go to war against Ramoth-Gilead.

Mr. McCormack would have us to believe that this prophetic picture is a real event happening in the heavens, wherein a one of the “divine council” have decided to falsely lead King Ahab’s prophets. His perspective seems to illustrate confusion in reading through the prophetic versus what actually happened. Consider how prophets talked about wars and calamities that occurred.

He further details that within the historic narrative of people becoming disobedient to Yawweh, He finally gave them over to the leadership of lesser gods. Not only does that sound ludicrous, Mr. McCormack even tries to utilize Scripture in the midst of his confusion. Consider his citation of Dueteronomy 4:19; 29:26; and 32:8-9.

And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven. (Deuteronomy 4:19)”

If you do an honest reading through the Law of Moses, and ultimately understand the reason for it (to set His people, Israel, apart from the nations and the rampant idolatry), you will see clearly what this verse is saying. Whereas all the pagans looked into the sky and made “gods” of all that they saw, Moses herein is instructing God’s people not to look into the sky (shamayim in the Hebrew) and worship anything – not the sun, not the moon, not the stars, nothing of the group of things they see in the sky.

For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them..(Dueteronomy 29:26)”.

I can see how a cursory reading of this verse can lend us to the idea that God gave Israel over to false gods, a reading very similar to what we read by the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 1. However, I believe God gave His truth to His people and they forsook it, and God is speaking in contrast to that. His people began to worship gods who they made up, as the Prophets say again and again, whom He had not given them – in contrast to His giving of Himself and His truth. There is no need to go on and read strange details our reading.

When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man,
He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.“For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance (Deuteronomy 32:8-9)”.

I have read through Deuteronomy chapter 32 again and again, even using the text in my own apologetics regarding Preterism, and I have never read this in the text. As I looked into commentaries on the text I realized most commentators are in line with the natural understanding I would have gathered from the text. You can see for yourself by visiting this link which provides various commentaries, http://biblehub.com/commentaries/deuteronomy/32-8.htm

All in all, as I explained this morning in Bible study, we must develop an understanding of Spirituality that is in line with the narrative and details we find in Scripture. The Prophets spoke to give ‘spiritual clarity’ in regards to historic events that were happening. Hebraic Spirituality in contrast to pagan or later developed Hellenistic Spirituality was abstract and not necessarily “otherworldly”. That offers a shameless plug to my upcoming book release, Wicked: The Search for Spirituality and Life, wherein I will further explain the distinction of Hebraic spirituality and it’s God-ordained inspiration from other versions of “spirituality” which sum up to be the wild thoughts of man’s imagination.

I pray I have offer clarity in these regards.

Blessings in Christ Jesus,

Pastor Michael Miano

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Book Review – Fulfilled Eschatology by Tim Liwanag

As Pastor of The Blue Point Bible Church, I am always on the lookout for a simple enough yet concise and comprehesive resource to help others understand our views on Fulfilled Eschatology. Sure enough, in his book, Fulfilled Eschatology, Mr. Tim Liwanag delivers exactly that.

Right from the beginning of the book, one can easily notice that Mr. Liwanag has done much research and utilized many resources (books, articles, and learning from others in the Christian community) to formulate his excellent effort of systematizing the story within Scripture. Two teachers that I greatly admire wrote ‘introductions’ to the book, Mr. Joe Daniels & Mr. Larry Siegle, therefore I new it was going to be an enjoyable read, and there introductions to the book were right on target. Mr. Siegle mentioned that the book was full of great lists of Scripture and might offer some new insights to the reader, that surely explains the benefit of this great read. Mr. Daniels rightly noted Mr. Liwanag’s great exposition on the Deity of Christ, and his efforts to exalt Christ that are prevalent throughout the entire book.

It is not uncommon for me to read the works of other Believer’s who have come to agree with Fulfilled Escatology and yet find areas of major disagreement. This is largely due to the fact that the truths of Fulfilled Eschatology have the ability to cross denominational lines and bring light to the context and truth of Scripture. Yet confusion is still there. I am glad to say that Mr. Liwanag was not afraid to utilize Scripture to formulate conclusions even in areas that many Bible expositors are afraid to venture (i.e., the lake of fire a.k.a. “hell”, fulfilled eschatology’s application for today, resurrection, the book of Revelation, etc.), yet I found no areas of disagreement.

This is a testament to Mr.Liwanag’s respect for the context and application of Scripture. To that I must say, “Thank You”. The lists of passages provided to make points was so clear and concise, that I was excited to continue reading.

Mr. Liwanag’s explanation and usage of ‘audience relevance’ is commendable, and it clearly seen through his retelling of the story with a focus on Israel (what some have come to refer to as the “Hebrew Exclusivity” noted in Scripture). The lengths he went to provide lists of Scriptures and passages to support the details is astounding, and surely provided me with some lists I can use in teaching others.

According to John chapter 4, those who worship God must worship Him as He desires, and that is in Truth and in Spirit. The clear-as-day exaltation of Christ that Mr. Liwanag provides throughout the writing is refreshing, and shows us the goal of his writing this book. Also, it is a common trend today for many “Christians” to obsess over fantastic notions of ‘heaven’ that they have made up, rather than paying attention to “Covenant-Fulfillment”, which is expressed through understanding the ‘full narrative’ of Scripture- gladly Mr. Liwanag brings out these details in Fulfilled Eschatology as well.

This book is a must read, and for many of the discussions going on within Preterist circles, and the rapid expansion of Fulfilled Eschatology, this book is right on time! Just as the Preterists like things.

Nearing the end of the book, Mr. Liwanag notes, “So where do we go from here? The answer is not “towards fulfillment” but “from fulfillment in Christ onwards” and then he goes on to say, “At this point, however, what remains is for us to show by the Scripture again the fulfillment message is not finished yet, even though all things written to and for the Israelites were fulfilled”. Amen to that!

I can’t wait for Mr. Tim Liwanag to get his book, Fulfilled Eschatology, in print so I can put it in the hands of others who desire to understand the context of Scripture. Another great ‘Preterist Resource’ to enable others to see the power of living in “Christ’s Glorious Presence Now”.

In His Service,

Pastor Michael Miano

Blue Point Bible Church

www.bluepointbiblechurch.org

P.S.- There always seems to be confusion on what exactly is means to be a “Christian”. In his book, again noting how all encompassing the book really is, Mr. Liwanag gives a great description of the term “Christian” as applying to God’s people:

“At first believers had no distinctive name, but were called among themselves “brethren,” Ac 6:3; “disciples,” Ac 6:1; “those of the way,” Ac 9:2; “saints,” Ro 1:7; by the Jews (who denied that Jesus was the Christ, and so would never originate the name Christian), in contempt, “Nazarenes.” At Antioch, where first idolatrous Gentiles (Cornelius, Ac 10:1, 2, was not an idolater, but a proselyte) were converted, and wide missionary work began, they could be no longer looked on as a Jewish sect, and so the Gentiles designated them by the new name “Christians.” The rise of the new name marked a new epoch in the Church’s life, a new stage of its development, namely, its missions to the Gentiles.”

In the first-century Messianic age, it is a Christian’s creed, not only to represent Christ’s name, but also to be defamed for it:

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or asa thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” (1 Peter 4:14-16; Revelation 3:12)

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