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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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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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Disregard the Details. Just Be Encouraged.

Kingdom of God

Please allow me to explain the title of this blog. I am writing this as a review of the recent ‘Kingdom of God Conference’ that was held at the Church of the Intercessor in Malverne, New York. The host was Deacon Eddie Pirro and Sam Frost was the guest speaker. As one who has appreciated the world Sam Frost offered in his days as a Full Preterist, and being rather confused on his constant switching of views in the last 5-6 years, I surely wanted to hear what he had to say to a local congregation within my “mission ground”. Good ole Long Island, New York.

I must say from the outset that I appreciated the encouraging tone that seemed to be the focal point of the conference. I surely found myself in agreement with both Eddie and Sam when they spoke of the Victorious Church and the advancing Kingdom of God. I surely found myself encouraged in that regard. However, I must admit frustration with the seemingly intentional overview that was provided, all the while disregarding the details of how we end up with such an optimistic perspective of the Kingdom. It’s not like Sam is ignorant of the views.

As many of you may already know, I debated Sam Frost regarding Preterism in 2013, and have continued to try and follow the logic of his views. You can watch that debate on YouTube at the following link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz4JEGAsumE

So what I intend to do with this blog is highlight some of the things that were brought up and taught to the congregation. I imagine this will demonstrate the confusion that often comes as a result of conferences that seek to encourage the saints about certain topics but choose to ignore the necessary details that go into that discussion. Even more so, I imagine this will demonstrate the further confused road Sam Frost has continued to follow. Also, if you would like to read about and hear a recent interview Sam Frost had with Travis Finley, which surely demonstrated the problematic theology he asserts, here is a blog I had written on the topic, https://powerofpreterism.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/sam-stop-talking-a-review-of-the-smackdown-on-rr/
I walked in the door and heard Sam teaching on the Book of Daniel. He noted that Daniel chapter 2 is a text intending to inspire us about the Sovereignty of God and notes our rejoicing in the Kingdom. Well, surely I agree, and loved the emphasis on “God being in control”. However, Sam provided his details on Daniel in a 30 -45-minute lecture. The whole Book of Daniel in 30 minutes, and not a notion of the controversies that have arisen from the text. There was a lot of talk about “Church History”, so I don’t find it too far off base to include a quote by St. Augustine, a 3rd century church father, regarding the fulfillment of Daniel in AD 70, “For let us not suppose that the computation of Daniel’s weeks was interfered with by this shortening of those days, or that they were not already at that time complete, but had to be completed afterwards in the end of all things, for Luke most plainly testifies that the prophecy of Daniel was accomplished at the time when Jerusalem was overthrown.”

Eddie Pirro gave a lecture on Revelation chapter 20, specifically detailing the “first resurrection” and the “binding of Satan”. While I am still confused in how Eddie explained Revelation chapter 20’s fulfillment to be taking place in heaven, when the entire text speaks of things “coming out of heaven”, I did think his presentation was done well. I find myself in agreement with him about the “first resurrection” and faith in Christ (as per John 5:24 and 1 John 3:14). Also, I loved his detailing the “binding of Satan” as fulfilled through Jesus’ ministry (cf. Matthew chapter 12). I didn’t hear Eddie detail much about the “loosing” and “destruction” of Satan. What really baffled me was rather than further detail these things exegetically, Eddie began to speak enthusiastically about our life in Christ and the fact that Satan has no power over us – completely disregarding the details of Revelation chapter 20. Surely, I was disappointed. If you are looking for exegetical details in that regard, here are two resources. (1) An article that shows the Full Preterist understanding of Revelation chapter 20 by Mr. Michael Sullivan, http://www.fullpreterism.com/five-brief-points-which-prove-the-full-preterist-view-of-the-millennium-of-revelation-20-is-exegetical-and-orthodox/
(2) Here is a link to the YouTube video I had done a while ago explaining theology on the Millennium, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tWWid6lDIU

Another rather frustrating thing was his emphatic assertion, seemingly out of nowhere, that “we all know Christ resides in His body at the right hand of the Father. It says this in Colossians 2:9”. No, that text does not say Christ still has a physical/biological body during the time of His ascension, rather it declares the power of God, the fullness of God, that was evident in the Lord Jesus Christ (a connecting text would be Philippians chapter 2). Unfortunately, known of the historic commentaries demand the same assertion Eddie put on this verse. Look for yourself at the following link, http://biblehub.com/commentaries/colossians/2-9.htm

After lunch, Sam Frost launched right into a rant about the creeds. A statement that he made that I found rather odd was, “I take unity wherever I can get it”. Yikes! This hardly sounds like the man who wrote the creed challenging book, Misplaced Hope. Of course, he repudiates the book now, but one day I’d love to dig up my notes and share some of the poignant points he had made in that writing. As he began to talk about Matthew chapter 24, he surely sounded confused (I was dismayed that Sam has now joined the ranks of those who divide Matthew chapter 24). He continued to make empty statements like “We must not get locked into a certain view” and “I always keep in mind I am capable of error”, which I have often noticed are attempts to feign humility (yet he surely knows I am a heretic, blah, blah, blah…which were his comments to me later that evening on social media).
In talking through Matthew chapter 24, Sam tried to make a big deal out of the “sign of His coming” as mentioned in verses 3 and 30, but seemingly failed to notice that if you read verse 30 all the way through, and not try to insert confusion, the text is all too clearly speaking about His coming. Sam tried to assert it’s speaking about the sign of His coming, not His actual coming (Parousia). Wrong! I was even more baffled when Sam tried to use Matthew 24:7, “kingdom will come against kingdom”, to assert Futurism. Sam jokingly boasted from the pulpit, “When has anyone ever seen a time when kingdom did not come against kingdom – never!”. Wrong! So ensued my post about the Pax Romana on Facebook. Not only did Origen, a 2nd century church father, note in his writings that Christ was born in a time of relative peace, we also see Roman historian Tacitus, in his writing ‘Histories’ mention that this time of peace existed, virtually undisturbed (despite some regional wars) up until the time of Nero.
Talk about total disappointment with Sam’s seemingly theological dishonesty. However, I did rather enjoy Eddie presentation on the early date of Revelation and textual evidences he provided from the Bible. I know some who attended spoke of wanting to know how Eddie would deal with Revelation 21-22, knowing the implications of what he mentioned in Revelation chapter 20, as well as his understanding the time-frame of fulfillment of Revelation. As he said to me when I left the conference, we shall continue to talk.
I will conclude with this point. Sam seems rather content with vague references to Biblical details. He mentioned to me that “the congregation warmly understood him”, to which I would respond, “Of course”. The whole premise of the conference was a pat on the back, not a look into the details. The long story short of the conference was that we are in the Kingdom (to which I would say, Amen!), or as Sam said, “The Kingdom takes place in the heart”, however the details of the fulfillment of the Kingdom (which much of the New Testament is detailing) are not important. Just be encouraged.

I’ll surely share the videos or audio from the conference for further review once they are made public.

Gladly, there are many hungry to know more about the knowledge of God as revealed through the Scriptures, and desire to see it relayed with consistency, clarity, and context. Granted, when honest with these things, we still have questions. So…we look forward to the Examining Crossroads: Biblical Controversies Conference taking place at The Blue Point Bible Church in March 2018. For more information in that regard, you can visit www.bluepointbiblechurch or the Facebook invite at the following link, https://www.facebook.com/events/493019257765681/?event_time_id=493019271099013

Saints, may we continue to press in, proving all things (1 Thess. 4:21) and understanding the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan, so that we may share that story with those “outside the gates” and bring forth the “healing of the nations” (cf. Revelation 22:1-17)

With Sincerity in Pursuit of Him,
Pastor Michael Miano

P.S. – It is worthy to note that I do anticipate further discussion with Eddie Pirro. Eddie has continued to say that his problems with the Full Preterist view are (1) the understanding of the nature of Christ bodily, and (2) the anthropology of man. So…I gave him a copy of Alan Bondar’s recently published book, Journey Between the Veils (which deals with some of that conversation), and I look forward to more dialogue with him in that regard.

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Kratt’s Critique of CBV Critiqued (Pt. 1)

Recently I read what was called “A Critique of the Corporate Body View of the Resurrection of the Dead (pt. 1)” by Jerel Kratt in the Summer 2017 issue of Fulfilled! Magazine. The foremost point I want to make through this response is that Mr. Kratt seemingly misunderstands and misses the point of the CBV. I say that all the while noting and appreciating his many contributions to the Full Preterist perspective.
The CBV understands the correlation of the “hope of Israel” as detailed through the Law and the Prophets with the Kingdom of God, and most significantly the resurrection of the dead (which is logically affirmed by reading Acts 26:22-23, and 1 Corinthians 15:50). To better help you understand the depth of this point, I direct you to the following articles by Mr. William Bell.

http://donkpreston.com/the-resurrection-the-kingdom-and-the-body-of-1-corinthians-15-3/
(This is part 3 of a 3 part series, links for part 1 and 2 are available within the article)

I fail to understand why so many like Mr. Kratt do all they can to understand the simplicity of the CBV and create illogical dilemmas and arguments to maintain their misunderstandings. To be fair, this is only a part 1 of his critique, therefore we will continue to engage his thoughts Now that I have given you some understanding of the CBV, I will proceed by looking at the texts brought forth and the misunderstanding it seems that fosters Mr. Kratt’s critique.
Just a quick point. This part 1 critique was based upon the mass confusion regarding the mention of “our body” found in the “resurrection texts”, namely Philippians 3:21 and Romans 8:23. Kratt points out the CBV argument that “…if the noun “body” is singular following a personal pronoun such as “our”, then the meaning is to be understood as a single corporate “body” (group, collective) to which everyone who is addressed belongs”. He then begins to point out exceptions and made the point – “it could go either way based on context”. So instead of focusing on exceptions and arguments against the simplicity of the “resurrection hope”, let’s look at the context of the two for-mentioned passages – Philippians 3:21 and Romans 8:23.
I must admit. I recently heard one of the most confusing and disheartening messages on the text of Philippians 3:21. I have to come to notice that opponents of the CBV will do all they can, even bore and confuse the masses, to demonize what we have come to understand as a true and wholesome understanding of the resurrection. In Philippians chapter 3 verses 2-3 seems to set the tone for the final points the Apostles are making known to the church at Philippi. They comparing those who claim to be of the circumcision (OC Jews) to those who are truly of the circumcision in Christ (a point also made in Romans 2:28-29). The “resurrection of the dead” otherwise known as the “hope of Israel” was the hope and desire to see God’s people manifest the righteousness of God. Of the flesh (naturally OC Israel) did not accomplish this, but the true Israel of God does (but it was not yet attained until the fulfillment of all things cf. Luke 21:22). In Philippians 3:18, the enemies of the cross are those Judizers seeking to upset the assemblies (bodies) (otherwise known as ecclesias) being planted and started. So, when we get to verse we are discussing, Philippians 3: 21, the corporate context should be evident. As they came into these local assemblies (bodies), which were hardly perfect and were struggling against legalism and idolatry prevailing all around them, they trusted that at the coming of the Lord they would go from one mind to another (be changed) and be a community that was fashioned and conformed to the image of His glorious body.
Moving over to the writing of the letter to the Romans it is important to note that various New Testament scholars have critiqued the current perspectives of this writing in more recent times. Noting the overtly Hellenistic interpretation that has led much of popular interpretation of this writing, these NT scholars have challenged us that this writing is much more Jewish in its details than many have noticed. This should cause us to pause and again ask, “What was the hope of the Law and the Prophets?”

Paying attention to pronouns is always important when reading through many of the New Testament letters, and so if the case in reading through Romans. Romans chapter 8 begins with a “therefore”, which calls us back to the details that were already being discussed. The context begins in chapter 5, wherein life under Law is being compared to being “in Adam” (“the death”) and how Christ overcomes that death through the gift of Eternal Life. Consider Romans 7:4 which reads, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”. Life under Law is the “flesh” that is being discussed (regardless to the vague argument Mr. Kratt sought to bring forth). Simply read the context! Life under Law could not produce righteousness (which is the “hope of Israel”), and therefore the only way God’s “dead people” would be raised into eternal life, saved from their groanings, would be to become “Spiritually-minded) – which happens to individuals as they come into the Body of Christ. The contrast of Romans 8:8 of “those in the flesh” is not speaking against humanity, but rather life under Law (flesh and blood Israelites claiming to be the people of God). Based upon the context, when we get to Romans 8:10 and Romans 8:23, the “body” that is dead and in need of redemption is those who are coming out of Judaism and trusting in the transformative Body of Christ -which was being redeemed in that that generation through the fulfillment of all jots and tittles of the Old Covenant.

In bringing this response to a conclusion, I want to point out a strange thing. None of this is information that Mr. Jerel Kratt does not know. As he pointed out in the first paragraph of his critique noting the point of the CBV of the resurrection of the dead, “…does not refer to individual dead people departing Hades, but of the corporate body of saints, both alive and dead, coming out of Judaism..”. Yes and amen. In AD 70, as the coming of the Lord came to reality, demonstrating the faithfulness of God, the dead and living saints who had come into the Body of Christ found themselves “changed” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51). No longer did they find themselves distracted, distraught, and confused by rampant persecution, but rather in-right standing (righteous) and saved in the eyes of God. So began the clarity regarding His Kingdom…We will follow Mr. Kratt’s next article regarding those who “are being raised” in the context in 1 Corinthians chapter 15.

May we continue to relish in the blessings of Christ’s glorious promises fulfilled!
– Pastor Michael Miano
The Blue Point Bible Church (www.bluepointbiblechurch.org)
The Power of Preterism Network (www.powerofpreterism.com)

 

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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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Let the Church be the Church, and America- Be America!

Here we find ourselves in the 21st century, where for many the lines have been dulled between “Church” and “State”. If you take the time to peruse through Church History, this surely isn’t new for the church. However the striving to bring Christianity into America, to dominate America, has proven to be a daunting task since the time of the Puritans in the 17th century.

Is America a “Christian nation”? Should this be the goal of the Church? For example, when we read 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“…And My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land”.

Why do we constantly seem to put America in place of “His people” instead of the Body of Believers called the Church? This is the nagging question I have and want to keep before you as I continue making some points through this article.

For the past couple months we have been going through ‘The Truth Project’ at The Blue Point Bible Church. Professor Del Tackett has challenged us in regards to the battle involving “What is Truth”, what is the anthropology of man, what is a Biblical social environment, what is the role of government, and finally this week we discussed “The American Experiment”.

The whole gist of ‘The Truth Project’ is to combat the ‘Post-modernism’ that has seemingly pervaded American culture. Simply put, Postmodernism is the rejection of absolute truth, holding all truth as relevant, or more likely, you have your reality and I have mine. This “question everything” mentality surely has a lot of good quality in it (in line with 1 Thessalonians 5:21), however with lack of education, hypotheticals, and subjective reasoning, this can be more harmful than edifying.

In Lesson 10, “The American Experment”, Professor Tacket places the beginning of the rise of ‘secular humanism’ with Darwin’s, Origin of the Species in 1859. The rise of men like John Dewey, Charles Eliot, and Christopher Columbus Landell brought challenge to the way education was done, and surely brought challenge to the arena of “scientific education”.

As a Bible believing Christian who has seen the church gone awry clinging to false doctrines, putting a ‘misplaced hope’ in the councils, creeds, and confessions instead of “search the Scriptures”, I see nothing wrong with challenging the traditional teachings, and surely do not see this as a bad thing. Yet this is exactly what many intend to demonize when they speak about the shift in ‘public education’, teaching of ‘evolution’ in school, etc…

Let me be abundantly clear here. As a Christian who has an unyielding faith in the truth of Scripture, I am not afraid of the ‘critical thinking’ this postmodern world has to offer. I don’t believe it is society’s job to “make known the manifold wisdom of God”, but rather the Church. It is the Church’s job to “demolish every argument and stronghold set up against the ‘knowledge of God’ (2 Corinthians chapter 10). The Christians, the Church, should be affecting the nation they live in, yet our country is the “heavenly country” (Hebrews 11:16; i.e., the New Jerusalem) which knows no earthly borders. I flee from the “Christianizing” of any nation which then confuses itself with being “the city on the hill” of Matthew 5:14.

Yes, George Washington indeed did say, “If one claims to be a patriot, yet denies Christ Jesus, this man is worse than an infidel” and yes, Princeton’s founding statement was “Cursed is all learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.” and it has been since changed.

Why has this happened? Is it as horrible as many think it is? Is it the ‘end of the world’?

Historical study of the founding documents of this nation, think of the Mayflower Compact, Constitution of the New England Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance, and the Aricles of Confederation of 1643- clearly show the Christian foundations of America. There is no doubt there.

Yet just as Galileo Galilee looked into his microscope and saw something that seemingly contradicted what the ‘Christian tradition’ had to say, so we see the same today. I say let’s enjoy the freedom which comes with a responsibility to be the ‘light of the world’.

I believe the “lazy Christian” not only wants to settle for “Church doctrine” that contradicts Scripture, but also wants to make being an “American” synonymous with being a “Christian”. The less of a distiction between the two, the less fruit one must produce to be found a Christian.

Ultimately, it is time for the Church to be the Church. The blurring of the lines between the Church and America has created confusion and hostility. The Church should reserve the right to make decisions and live in light of Scripture and we should encourage others, however the Church sitting at the sidelines yelling at the “State” to follow Christian standards really needs to stop.

The fact is, Obama is not the president of the Nation I am apart of. As Shane Claiborne so eloquently and simplistically puts it, “Jesus for President”. I believe there is much strength to be sought in allowing America to follow the “postmodernism” that leads it, therefore offering the Church a moment of clarity on their role and position in this world.

I know America had Christian foundations, to argue against this is to be historically ignorant. However, I see the good news in the “end of Christian America” as Gabe Lyons put it in his book, The Next Christians.

Let the distinctions be clear- the Church is to be the Church, set apart by the truth of Jesus Christ, and America is to be America- the land of the free.

DON’T YOU DARE REFER TO AMERICA AS THE “CITY ON A HILL”!

Revelation 2:5 reads, “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lamp stand out of its place- unless you repent”. I’ll say it like this: It is nothing short of blasphemous to equate this verse with a nation with borders, this was primary applied to the Church at Ephesus, and could only be applied to the Church.

Walk worthy saints.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

“One thing that’s clear in the Scriptures is that the nations do not lead people to peace; rather, people lead the nations to peace.” – Shane Claiborne, Jesus for President

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My Defense and Explanation of Full Preterism

In 2010, I underwent a rather intense paradigm shift. For those who do not know what a “paradigm shift” is, it is a change in the way you approach a given situation or the assumptions you may have had. Basically, a change of thought.

As a Christian, I believed that the ancient Scriptures contained in the Bible are the way to know the “gospel” – the good news that Jesus came to take away sin and death. I believe that Jesus Christ was Lord and Savior. I also took serious the teachings which Jesus taught His disciples about the “end times”. I was taught the Christian view that the end times were soon. Jesus Christ could come any day, I didn’t agree with what was called the “pretribulation rapture”, but instead believed that everyone would be caught up with the Lord at the Second Coming. I believed that we were living in the end times and should take that serious. If people were going to live in a world of “great tribulation”- what were we doing to prepare? Wouldn’t that be the most loving thing? I could not understand why people didn’t seem to take serious what the “end times” would be about. I desired to see sinners repent and put their faith in Christ so they could enjoy eternal life both here and in the afterlife as well as urge people to take the teachings of Jesus Christ very seriously.

It was in the midst of this passionate following of Jesus Christ and seeking to “study to show myself approved ()” that I underwent the “paradigm shift”. I was challenged with a historical approach to properly understanding the “literary genre”, the original audience, and the context of the story contained within the Bible. However, I resisted and argued because as Maimonides once said, “…. those opinions of a man to which he has been accustomed to from his youth, he likes them, defends them, and shuns the opposite view”.

I’ll never forget the day that Pastor Alan Bondar of New Covenant Eyes Church met with me for lunch and told me that he believed that the “coming of the Lord”, what many refer to as the ‘Second Coming’ already happened. It seemed like a joke. Who believes that?!?!?! I wanted to prove this wrong and “defend the faith”, just as I had done with atheists, Jehovah Witnesses, and others who argued against the truth of God. The more I studied, seeking to “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and show why I believed what I believed and that being what Scripture is about I began to realize how true the following statement by J.I. Packer really was:

We do not start our Christian lives by working out our faith for ourselves; it is mediated to us by Christian tradition. In the forms of sermons, books, and established patterns of church life and fellowship. We read our Bibles in light of what we have learned from these sources; we approach Scripture with minds already formed by the mass of accepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the Church and the world…It is easy to be unaware that it has molded us. But we are forbidden to become enslaved to human tradition, either secular or Christian, whether it be “catholic” tradition, “critical” tradition, or “ecumenical” tradition. We may never assume the complete rightness of our own established ways of thought and practice and excuse ourselves the duty of testing and reforming them by Scriptures” (quoted from Fundamentalism and the Word of God).

 Pastor Alan Bondar’s belief in “preterism” surely seemed laughable because of what I believed, but even so, I did the Biblically correct, least lazy, and ‘intellectually honest” thing to do- sought to prove it wrong by using Scripture.

It was then through actually reading the writings contained in the Bible in their context and allowing them to say what they said to who they were written (without putting myself as the primary audience) that I realized this view “Full Preterism” had some merit to it. I began looking around to see what others said about this “preterist” stuff. To my surprise, many popular teachers within Christianity believed in some parts of Preterism- what they call “Partial Preterism” but called “Full Preterism” heresy. I wanted to figure out why and prove this to Pastor Bondar.

I remember when Pastor Bondar first asked me, “Mike, what do you believe happens when you die?” I began to explain how the dead go into the grave, and then at the coming of the Lord they will be raised in the twinkling of an eye (1 Thessalonians chapter 4 & 1 Corinthians 15 seem to speak of this). Pastor Bondar explained this was called “soul sleep” and would have been foreign to the Jewish mindset and their view on Sheol/ Hades. I did my research and sure enough Pastor Bondar was right. This peaked my interest.

Reading through Matthew chapters 23-24 realizing that Jesus was giving His actual disciples answers to the questions they were asking. He was telling them about the soon coming destruction of the Temple and the “end of the age” (age does not mean world, instead it means the end to a period of time). Sure enough, reading the things Jesus spoke about in Matthew chapters 23-24 in light of the historical account that Apostles do in the New Testament (gospel being preached to the whole world- Romans 1:8, Romans 16:19, Colossians 1:6, 23 ; persecution – a read through the book of Acts will serve well, not to mention 2 Thessalonians chapter 1; false teachers – again are seen throughout the New Testament however read 1 Timothy 1:3-6, 2 John chapter 1, for some insight; and the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus’ written accounts of the Jewish-Roman War.

After hearing Pastor Bondar explain that he believed the resurrection of the dead already occurred I knew I had him pinned as a “false teacher”. I approached him with 2 Timothy, and how the early church was warned to stay away from those who were saying the resurrection had already occurred. The first point Alan made was – if the resurrection of the dead was understood to be biological corpses coming out of the graves – how in the name of reason could people convince others that this had occurred and they had missed it? I had to admit that was a rather good point. Alan also pointed out that in 2 Thessalonians chapter 1, there were some who believed the “coming of the Lord” already occurred. It forced me to face the fact that the physical sighting of Jesus Christ that I demanded must happen in the future was an error. Actually stood in direct contrast to some of the things Jesus Himself said in John chapter 14.

Pastor Bondar then explained how what we read in the New Testament is referring back to things in the Old Testament. Jesus made it very clear He came to fulfill the Law (the Old Covenant/ Testament). It was His blood that was establishing the New. The Apostle Paul was emphatic about the fact that the gospel he preached was the hope of the forefathers of Israel, “the hope of Israel”, which was detailed in the Law and the Prophets (Acts 24:13-16; Acts 26:22; Acts 28:20). It is vital that we understand what the Old Testament before trying to understand or interpret the New Testament.

A major aspect of the Old Testament is the use of “prophetic language’. The Hebrew Metaphors and idoms that are used throughout the Old Testament are foreign to our common thought. Imagine trying to explain to an ancient Hebrew the expressing “It’s raining cats and dogs”. This would be just as confusing as them trying to explain how they used language such as “hearts melting” (Isaiah 13:7) and the sun turning black (Joel 2:21; Matthew 24:29) to depict the coming war with a foreign nation. I remember as I sought to understand how the ‘original audience’ would have understood these phrases, it caused me to change the way I understood writings in the New Testament. For example, if throughout the Old Testament the prophets used phrases such as “coming of the Lord” to speak about invading armies- why would we interpret Jesus’ words any different? Why all of a sudden to Jesus’ words mean literal cosmic events and a literal Jewish man coming out of the sky? Where do we get this understanding?

After understanding the use of the language, I then was able to pay attention to what are called “time statements” in Scripture. In speaking about the “end of the age” or the “coming of the Lord”, Jesus’ seemingly gave time frames when these things would happen. Obviously, the “end of the world” had not happened yet because I was living in it and there is no historical record of a man coming out of the sky. However, when the “prophetic language” is properly understood we realize the Scriptures speak of the “end of the age”, which was the “present evil age” the 1st century Jews were living in which would change at the “coming of the Lord” (again, I point out that this was a term depicting judgment of God that would come through foreign armies. An in-depth study of the following passages proves this point: Genesis 18:21; Exodus 3:8; Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 64:3; Matthew 24; Luke 21; 2 Thessalonians 1-2, and so many more!

I knew that embracing the truth as I was seeing it, through a view called Full Preterism, was quite controversial and stood in contrast to the ‘traditional thinking’ most Christians utilize. However, I came to a point where I had to choose from what the Bible teaches in context or the comfort of tradition. This is what men of God like John Wycliffe and Martin Luther had to deal with. If these men where not ‘intellectually honest’ and had the courage to challenge the ‘status quo’, we would hardly have the Christianity we know of today.

By understanding the historical and redemptive context of the Scriptures, as is weaved through the Bible in a beautiful way, we can truly understand the Bible as the original audiences would have understood each of the writings. The Scriptures are not dealing with world history, that is why we do not read about those people in Australia or the natives in the Americas in the Bible. Instead, the Biblical writings are dealing with the God of Israel and His relationship with His people. The Messiah of Israel comes and through His fulfilling their promises, He invites others “through Jesus Christ” to enjoy the blessings of being “in covenant” with Him. That my friends is the glorious gospel as revealed through Scripture. The ‘death’ that Israel experienced in Adam, was taken away in Christ. Those that were without God, without hope, “far off” from covenant relationship with God, “the Gentiles”, were called to the New Covenant (Ephesians chapters 2-3 explains this).

So, all of this serves as my defense of my position as a “Full Preterist”. I have been willing to debate and defend these views- firstly, because I believe my position is correct. If you would like to discuss these things in more detail, I would love to explain. Secondly, I have been wrong once and am humble enough to be wrong again. However, I seek to be faithful to understanding Scripture in an effort to truly understand God- therefore I ask to be shown if I am wrong through the use of Scripture in context and not what ‘tradition’ teaches. I see much hypocrisy alive and well in the Church when it comes to “proving all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and instead of doing so, many have a “zeal without knowledge” as the first century Jews who persecuted Christ did (Romans 10:2). They believed they were right and the Christians were wrong- how do you suppose the Truth was made known? Go and read Acts 17:11- ‘SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES”. Scripture commands that we “study to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15)” and therefore I ask you, the reader of this document, to not only prove what I am saying wrong (if I am wrong) and prove your position through a historical and Biblically consistent examination.

 

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