Tag Archives: review

“Human Fascination With Evil”

I recently picked up a book that looked interesting at a local thrift store. The book is titled “ANTICHRIST: TWO THOUSAND YEARS OF HUMAN FASCINATION WITH EVIL” written by Bernard McGinn. This might be the one of the best texts I have read that explains the various understandings of the devil, demons, antichrist, evil, and wickedness that I have ever read. McGinn writes in a textbook manner and offers so much historical data to consider and review. It’s safe to say I was shocked at how much I enjoyed this book I bought for less than $3 at the thrift store.

I have been working steadily on Wicked. (which is expected to be released at the end of May 2017). As I come to chapters in regards to these wicked things (Satan, evil, demons, etc) I have been reviewing some books I own on the topics. I was not expecting such a fascinating book as ANTICHRIST. Now, I want to say something about fascination and the topic of evil. Unfortunately our “total depravity” (to borrow a doctrinal term from reformer John Calvin) shows all to often when we are so quick to jump into topics about wicked things, and offer up our opinions and thoughts (leaning upon our own misunderstandings and offering more confusion to the mix). And boy oh boy are we quick to do so.

Last week I post a status on my Facebook page and it brought over 87 mostly aggressive comments within 2 hours. Yikes! Arguments went on and on. Some almost calling each other Satan and evil things. Wickedness ran rampant.

I’d like to say that my fascination with the topic is a bit different and prayerfully I will detail that as I share some of the points from ANTICHRIST with you in this blog. Ultimately of course, I would encourage you to keep an eye out for my upcoming book, Wicked. My fascination is more from the standpoint of a student of Scripture and a follower of Jesus Christ. I desire to know the depths of what the Scriptures are revealing. In doing so, I often times bump heads with the Establishment (the traditional Fundamentalist crowd within the Church). An honest study through history show this. Reading and studying through the chaos revealed through Church history on the topic is outrageous, especially detailed so fully in Bernard McGinn. This is or should be a textbook on the topic.

“…I write in the conviction that the Antichrist has already come – That is, the most important message of the Antichrist legend in Western history is what it has to tell us about our past, and perhaps our present attitudes toward evil”. – McGinn 

McGinn begins by detailing Isaac Newton’s distaste for those who were always searching for the Antichrist, as well as explaining that much of what people believe today as wickedness show influence of 2nd Temple Judaism/ Hellenism (ultimately confusion that ran rampant among national Israel (God’s vessel up until the time of Christ) from the 3rd century BC to AD 70. “Ultimately that and more led to the coming of the Lord in that generation”. I surely could appreciate even though we may disagree on many specifics – end times taken “seriously but not literally”.

There is so much that can be said about how McGinn shared all these details on the Antichrist. I loved the format of the book! McGinn highlighted the views that were noted (the resources he looked into could be compiled as an encyclopedia) throughout various points of history (which I will share near the end of this blog). Also, McGinn really piqued my interest in reading quite a few resources:

  • 2nd Temple literature/ Apocalypses, Enoch, etc)
  • The Maccabees and some highlights in Hellenism (1 Macc: 1:11-16; 2 Macc 4:7-18)
  • Sibylline Oracles and the Book of Jubilees

In talking about the ancient world McGinn rightly noted the importances of myths:
“Myths serve as archetypal narratives that exercise a special part of the human imagination” to which I would challenge with a proper understanding of the “prophetic imagination” as seemingly understood by the early Hebrews. McGinn notes, “Myth explains, not in an intellectual way by giving an argument, but rather by presenting an accounts of origin or essential structure that mediates meaning to the present”. Essentially myths were natural man’s way of “making sense of reality”.

McGinn really helps provide for an appreciate in regards to history. The style in which he writes captures what he refers to  as the “Matrix of Early Christianity” –
– Positive memories of Israel’s great kings
– Remembrance of oppressors and fear of worst in future
– The Messiah as an apocalyptic hope

The best way I can show you some of the great details McGinn brought forth is to use his historical outline/ sections and share my notes.

300 BC – AD 50 : A time marked by Jewish apocalyptic visions, 2nd Temple period, and the Qumran community.  A time filled with blasphemy against the One True God, persecution of His Faithful, and false religious leadership (hypocrites). We also see how these historic times mark out the internal conflict between good and evil, or what we might call the “psychological dualism of the struggle of the spirits of good and evil within the human heart”.

AD 50 – 100: A time of the 2nd Adam and His opposite. McGinn highlights that “After the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in AD 70, both Jews and Christians had to face a new religious situation, one that profoundly affected their respective beliefs and the increasing divergent roads these religious traditions would take”.

The teachings of Jesus Christ surely took precedent during this time. In literature and preaching we read of the “Man of Sin”, “the Beast”, Satan/ devil, the evil trinity, and the abomination of desolation. I love the following quote from Gerhard Eberling because it demonstrates that the Christian hope is based upon a reorienting all that was being hoped for through the lens of Jesus:

“What stands at the beginning of Christian theology is the apocalyptic modified by faith in Jesus”. 

AD 100 – 500: Throughout this time period we see the Antichrist develop as Christianity itself is developing. We read of “provocative new twists” from Church Fathers through this time of “persecution, heresy, and self-deceit”. Unfortunately, confusion runs rampant during this time. Surely applying the “end times” and the “Deceiver of the world” to a time past the events of the Roman-Jewish war is a misplace concept and bred much confusion in the Church. Some writings that stand out from this period which I seek to read and review in the near future are:

– The Apocalypse of Peter
– The Apocalypse of Elijah – which has been said to be “one of the most complete, but also obscure accounts of the Antichrist in patristic literature”.
– The writings of Hippolytus, presbyter in Rome from AD 200-235A
– The Catechetical Lectures by Cyril (AD 315-386) – these were instructions given to converts as the Roman world became increasingly Christian.

Prior to the Middle Ages it could be said, “….in the West at least, the apocalyptic theology advanced by Augustine and Tyconius emphasized a moral and internal reading of the Antichrist symbolism…”

AD 500 – 1100: The Middle Ages were characterized by various and different enemies being labeled “antichrist” by the Church. The confusion continued into what I would refer to as “scattered thoughts lacking consistency and context”. For example, a monk named Adso wrote some apocalyptic thoughts in which he detailed a 40 day period (or completeness) wherein the Elect would not be temped by the Antichrist due to offer up penance (“…the Lord will grand the Elect 40 days to do penance because they were led astray by the Antichrist”).  During this time we see the rise of the “Irish Antichrist tradition” (a writing that stands out is “The 15 Signs Before Doomsday”). Also, Islam saw a rise during this time, and the development of the Dajjal (Antichrist) which resulted from the Hadiths.

AD 1100-1200: In this period of time we saw the effects of the Great Schism in the Church between the East and the West. The formation of the Ordinary Gloss which is “a great Biblical textbook created in the nascent universities of the 1200’s”, which served as commentary during that time and further. We also read of the Moralized Bibles, or “medieval picture Bibles”  published during this period which largely included imagery of the Antichrist in different perspectives. This period of time provided interest in reading through the works of Honorious, namely his commentary on the Song of Songs.

AD 1200 – 1335: A time of Church issues and Papal name calling.

AD 1335 – 1500: Surely this period of time was seen as the eve of the Reformation. The term “Antichrist” during this time surely came to be a “symbolic representation of ultimate human evil”. We see the late medieval pessimism during this time with calculations of the coming Antichrist in almost every year (prophesies of 1346, 1347, 1348, 1360, 1365, 1375, 1387, 1396, 1400, 1418, —> and these are just some of the dates listed up until 1450 (that surely should cause us to pause and reconsider dating details that are so often abused in regards to Bible prophecy).

The rise of reformers during this time period is very evident and mark out some of the contemporary mindsets as well. John Wycliffe (1337) labeled the Papacy as Antichrist and John Huss (1372-1415) was apparently killed for referring to the Pope as Antichrist.

AD 1500 – 1660: During this reformation time we surely read of the cries of Reformation regarding the Antichrist Papacy. “Antichrist was definitely seen as a legendary projection of human evil forming the reverse image of the Christian Redeemer”. The splinter groups formed after the Reformation surely caused differences in regards to how evil was viewed, aways seeming to be defined in more contemporary styles. During this time we read of reformers such as Englishman John Jewell, Nicholas von Amsdorf, John Calvin, and Melchior Hoffman. Hoffman was an Anabaptist who prophesied of the end and the coming Antichrist in 1553. Von Amsdorf in 1554 wrote “Five Principles & Certain Signs Before the End”.

We also read of the “counter-reforms” being done in and through the Catholic Church during this time. We see the rise of various Jesuit understandings (some which pointed backwards in history as the fulfillment of prophecy rathering than regarding the Pope as Antichrist). It’s been said, “Catholic preaching and teaching on the Antichrist down to the latter half of the 17th century was partly a repetition of patterns inherited from early era’s and partly a reaction to the Protestant challenge”.

AD 1660 – 1900’s: McGinn properly noted, “While a number of important thinkers continued to speculate about the Antichrist, in many ways the Last Enemy became the hobby of cranks after 1660”. More defining of things based on contemporary situations led to more and more confusion. The early Puritans who had come to America viewed England as the Antichrist, in France due to the French Revolution there was a lot of throwing around of who was the “Antichrist”, and so we see the early confusion and void of clarity that allowed for a renewed interest in Milleniarism and ultimate Dispensationalism. These two doctrinal views has crept in and caused so many chaotic and confusing interpretations into the Christian Church.

That is where we are at now. McGinn’s eloquently detailed where all the confusion has led us: “…the increasing vagueness of the term Antichrist (as seen through the history of the Christian Church) has reached the point where universal invective overwhelmed effective application”. 

As I plan to continue to sift through and study these details further I am glad that I sit on the side of careful historical and context review. A Preterist. Every generation thinks excitedly that they are the “terminal generation” as shown through this lengthy review. Surely, I would apply much of the details found in prophecy to the generations it was prophesied to as well as ultimately the generation to whom Christ came and revealed things to. The Biblical Antichrist was revealed in that generation.

However, our understanding of Antichrist, or better said our understanding of evil, need not, must not, stop there. McGinn wrote and I couldn’t agree more, “…Biblical texts, such as the 1st epistle of John, and other major Christian thinkers – Origen, Augustine, Gregory the Great, William Langland – use Antichrist motifs – and insist that the true meaning of antichrist is to be found within, that is, the spirit that resists Christ”.  I regularly praise God that as I “study to show myself approved (2 Tim. 2:15)” and go through details for my writing of Wicked. I see the application of various concepts in Scripture.

In my upcoming release Wicked. I detail these “conceptual realities”, which the philosopher Paul Rocoeur in his seminal work, The Symbolism of Evil, explained very well when he noted how contemporary reflection on the symbols found in the ancient myths of the origin of evil could “still give rise to thought”; that is, they provide an “occasion for thought, something to think about”. Surely looking through history in regards to all the characters of evil we have pinpointed we have a lot to ponder. The Qumran community in the first century spoke of the “spirit of perversity” (which we all have the capability to live in and under) as the ultimate evil. In a similar vein, detailing “Who is the Antichrist?”, Church Fathers like Augustine noted “Everyone must question his conscience whether he be such”. In closing, let’s catch this concept as our definite understanding of the Antichrist:

“There you have the Antichrist – everyone that denies Christ by his works”. – Augustine

Some more contemporary resources I plan to take a look at (noting here for my and your benefit):

  • The Antichrist by Vincent P. Micelli
  • Catholic Prophecy: The Coming Chastisement by Ives DuPont
  • The Devil (4 part series) by Jeffrey Burton Russel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Public Response to “Scare-Tactic Review” – STAY AWAY FROM THIS CULT!

Recently someone posted an “attack” on my ministry at The Blue Point Bible Church (http://www.bluepointbiblechurch.org). Upon talking with the Elders I have found it a worthy effort to respond directly to the attack.

Please take note the identity of the person who posted the STAY AWAY FROM THIS CULT “review” has obscured their identity. I stand behind the things I say and teach and am always willing to come to the forefront to defend what I say and teach. Therefore, I ask the same from this ‘attacker’. It surely is a hypocritical effort to accuse someone of being a “cult leader” and the host of other derogatory accusations mentioned in the review and then hide.

Might I assume this could be Christopher Hatton or someone of his ilk? I say that because of the personal nature the ‘attack’ has on the ministry of former Blue Point pastor, Pastor Claire Chandler and the mention of Christopher Hatton.

I would like to first respond to this comment:

” They ousted a godly Pastor named Chris Hatton after he tried for some years to preach the true Gospel of salvation through the grace of God alone”.

I find this rather interesting. Can information pertaining to the ordination of Christopher Hatton be provided, as it seems there has been some confusion in these regards. Mr. Hatton claimed in times past and through his ‘interview’ for the pastorate at Blue Point that he was ordained by the Blue Point Bible Church. This is false. Also, if Pastor Claire Chandler was teaching the doctrine of “Full Preterism” and then retired- how did this “godly pastor” obtain the call to serve at Blue Point Bible Church? I can find no other way other than a dishonesty in regards to being a “Full Preterist”. Before we make attacks- let’s get the facts!

The “attack/review” posted by BiblicalChristian seems to give off the impression of a rather paranoid ministry of Christopher Hatton. Why would “spying” be necessary. Ahh..sometimes the failure to ask the “why’s” and “hows” can lead to rather misleading results.
Now let me speak and defend my ministry as the pastor of The Blue Point Bible Church.

This person attacked the size and nature of our congregation by calling us a “so pathetic and small a congregation”. Interesting… Does size of the congregation determine the truth of the doctrine and the “in Spirit and in Truth” nature of Worship? I don’t think anyone would dare to say so. As a man who loves God, loves His Truth, and loves His Church I cannot even fathom why or how relevant such a comment is. Obviously, this is an attack.

Yes I, Michael Miano, was called to pastor The Blue Point Bible Church as of April 2013. I am grateful for the person who wrote the review posting links for people to listen to my messages- PLEASE DO SO. I dare to say, if you are reading your Bible and willing to be intellectually honest you will find the charge of my teachings being “nonsense” I “spout” to be completely false.

I was rather excited to be called “part of a new breed of militant hyper-preterists”. I am not sure what that means other than my compulsion to teach, preach, and defend the Biblical gospel as I understand it. Take special notice at my inclusion of “defend”. Biblical Christian, are you willing to publicly defend your views? Please identify yourself. This shouldn’t be too much of a hassle since dealing with me and my being “so naively unskilled and unlearned in Orthodox Christianity” is something you mentioned.

I am glad that your posted your review since it brings attention to the attacks many bring upon leaders within Christian who are honestly seeking the Truth. I hope and pray that you might be convicted of your words and my response and not only identify yourself for all to know but also be willing to publically defend some of the things you mentioned.

Upon a willingness to visit the Blue Point Bible Church on a Sunday or for any other activity we offer (ALWAYS WELCOMING VISITORS), I believe those who read this outlandish review can and will see for themselves the TRUTH.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:21 we are exhorted to “prove all things”. Let this serve as my public notice and response to the review posted above in an effort to prove how false these accusations are.

For His Glory,
Pastor Michael Miano

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TRUE FAITH/ FULFILLED HOPE – REVIEW OF CHARLES MEEK’S BOOK

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“Thanks are extended to my futurist friends whose skepticism about COVENANT ESCHATOLOGY made me dig that much deeper to get to the truth. Truth is a glorious thing”. – Charles Meek

I could not have expressed my gratitude any better than Mr. Meek did in the above statement. This blog will serve as my sort of “giving back”, as I hope many of my Futurist friends as well as fellow Preterist brethren will read this blog and Mr. Meek’s book and “see clearly”.

it is an earnest plea because as David Green said in the beginning of Charles Meek’s book – “The last days are approaching- the last days of futurism, that is. Out of the dying and conflicting ism’s of the tradition of futurism is arising the FAITH-CONFIRMING truth of FULL PRETERISM. it’s ascent has been slow, but steady and sure”.

I must say reading the ‘Forward’ to ‘Christian Hope through Fulfilled Eschatology’ was one of the most encouraging things I have read it a while. Packed with what I would call “THE POWER OF PRETERISM”. A must read for sure.

This isn’t necessarily intended to be a “book review”, but I imagine many may care for my thoughts. In writing ‘Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy’, Mr. Meek has provided a humble, simple, and full of answers explanation of Full Preterism. I will admit there were areas that I may “agree to disagree” (as you will see through this blog), but overall the intellectual honestly that was put forth by Mr. Meek was astounding.

So let’s jump right into it….. What do YOU know about the end times? Are you views based on Scripture of maybe what you have been taught? Have you taken the time to examine things for yourself?

This is so important because if you would have talked to me about 6 years ago I had an entirely different view of Scripture, of the “end times” and of the gospel message. I can assure you as I have set out to “prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21)” my faith has been challenged and strengthened. I can truthfully and reasonably tell you my Biblical hope today and know beyond any reasonable doubt that I am standing on a firm foundation. I’ll even debate it!

“The church has utterly failed to present a defense of the truth of the Bible. And when such facts are pointed out to pastors, there is an unending list of excuses to ignore the problem. Speaking especially to pastors, apologetic should be higher on your agenda than your seminary probably taught you it should be!”

Sadly, many Christians have a reluctance to reexamine their views. Many so-called Christians are content with reinforcing erroneous teachings just to “go along with the crowd”. That’s a sad position for a Believer to be in. This is equivalent to the “ecclesiastical tyranny” and “crowd psychology” that Charles Meek mentioned in his book.

The question every Christian must both ask themself and answer is: “Are you ready to listen to what God’s Word teaches?”.
“Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy” starts at a great point- in 1st century Jerusalem. The failure of modern Christians to understand the Scriptures in their historical context has by and large led to a confused gospel message. I have reiterated again and again as I preach before The Blue Point Bible Church (http://www.bluepointbiblechurch.org) that we MUST understand the story of ancient Israel.

As a Preterist many of my Facebook friends have seen my continual harping on the importance of AD 70.

“When Israel ceased to be a nation and the temple was demolished in AD 70, these events fulfilled what Jesus said would happen in His generation (Matthew 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 19;44; Luke 21:6)”. Understanding these events, what is called the Roman-Jewish War, enables us to understand “redemptive history”. Yes, YOUR REDEMPTION!

Many Christians will continually speak about the importance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ but sadly exclude the destruction of the temple in AD 70.

“While the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ ushered in the New Covenant order, it was the destruction of the temple (which ended the system of sacrifices for sin nearly forty years later) that formerly ushered out the Old Covenant order”.

Do you understand the teachings and implication of Full Preterism? If not, there are various websites, articles, sermons that you can go to. A site that I personally run and am developing is http://www.christhascome.org . Another great resource is http://www.thefulfilledconnection.com.

Many Bible teachers and pastors have lost their “ministry opportunities” due to their willingness to be honest with the Bible . Charles Meek rightly says, “God calls us to embrace truth no matter what”. Charles Meek also argues this point:

“This problem is not trivial. Everything we know about Jesus and His teachings comes from the Bible. It is not our prerogative as Christians to ignore the Biblical evidence , and invent a Jesus to suit ourselves. That would be idolatry. We cannot legitamately manufacture our hope from a false set of assumptions; we are limited to understanding Jesus and His teachings as presented in the Bible. Just as importantly, we must not present an unreliable Jesus to the world”.

Recently at THE POWER OF PRETERISM CONFERENCE that was held at The Blue Point Bible Church in Blue Point, New York – Bible teacher Joe Daniels, Apostle Johnny Ova, Dr. Don K. Preston, and myself all made the point that Preterism advances the teachings of Jesus and to say otherwise diminishes the Biblical hope, the reliability of Jesus’ teachings, the Deity of Christ, and the apologetics of Christianity.

Many a times I am asked- ‘Why don’t people plain and simply see the truth of Full Preterism?’. I believe the need for Biblical education in regards to fulfillment is in order. Not only in matters pertaining to eschatological events but instead in regards to Biblical History, Church History, Biblical Hebrew & Greek, Soteriology, Christology, Ministry Leadership, and Life Application/ Discipleship. I endeavor to start a basic style seminary in the near future- Learning Institute of Fulfilled Eschatology (L.I.F.E.) with a creative focus on development, reformation and networking.

Charles Meeks provides an introduction in hemeneutics in Chapter 2 of his book.

“We have built doctrines by picking and choosing the passages that fit our ideas and have ignored those passages that challenge us. We are really not interested in truth if it upsets our applecart. This has led to a shallow, lazy, distorted, and divisive Christianity”.

Mr. Meek is speaking in reference to “our extra Biblical presuppositions”, examining “wooden literalism” with a game of “twenty questions”, and provides an explanation of Principles of Biblical Interpretation.

Rene Deschartes, French philosopher and writer once said:
“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things”.

Are you willing to be your ‘end times views’ under the microscope? Could you be wrong in your understanding? In chapter 3 of his book, Charles Meek provides an explanation of Different Views. Speaking about Futurism ( and the variety ofpremillennial, amilleniam, and postmillennial views), Historicism, idealism, preterism (and its’ underlying distinctions of premillenial and post millenial preterism.)

In examining what the Bible ACTUALLY SAYS about the “time of the end” one will realize:
“Eschatology is not about the end of the “world”, but rather its a rebirth instituted by Jesus in the New Covenant order”.
It is the Preterist View that:

“We are of the studied opinion that the “Second Coming” of Christ was not to be a physical body appearance on earth, but rather a coming in judgment against the unbelieving Jews who perverted God’s commandments and rejected Jesus and His Church”.
Also the point could be proven that, “…many Christians also think that the tribulation will be a global event. But notice that Jesus said that one could avoid the tribulation by fleeing to the mountains (Luke 21:21)”.

Many ‘Christians’ have misunderstood the phraseology and idiomatic expresses used by Jesus and those writing in the first century. For example, Charles Meek accounts:

“Peter’s prophecy in 2 Peter 3 was a reiteration of Isaiah 24. In that chapter, Isaiah spoke of a time when the sun and the moon (the heavens) would be confounded and ashamed (Isaiah 24:23) and when the earth would be burnded, broken down, dissolved, and would fade away (Isaiah 24:4-6, 19-20). Isaiah was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem (Isaiah 24:12)”.

Sadly many within the Church have clung to a neo-Gnostic understanding of what the gospel message is about (mislabeling the ‘elements’ coming under judgment- Romans chapter 8 & 2 Peter 3:10). Quite frankly the message is about freedom from the Old Covenant- described as “the law of sin and death (Romans chapter 8). Understanding this freedom by reading through Galatians chapters 3-5 and Colossians chapter 2.

A great read concerning the confusion regarding the transition of Covenants and ‘the Coming of the Lord” is ‘Behind the Veil of Moses’ by Brian Martin. In the book, Mr. Martin makes a great case for the fact that the confusion regarding the “2nd Coming” of Christ is equivalent to the confusion regarding the first coming. The Jews rejected Christ’s coming because He did not come according to their expectations, the same with John the Baptist as “the Elijah to come”.

“2 Kings 2:11-12 relates the manner in which Elijah went up into heaven. He ascended on a chariot of fire. The Jews thought that Elijah might well return to earth in exactly the same manner that he ascended on a chariot of fire. But in Matthew 11:13-15; Matthew 17:10-13; and Mark 9:11-13 Jesus identifies John the Baptist as the expected Elijah!”

Sadly today many will provide gimmicks, gaps, and so forth to defend their erroneous views. In his book, Charles Meek deals with the way those who adhere to “partial fulfillment” – “divide the text”, “pick and choose”, fabricate a foreign concept of “types and shadows”, “separate questions”, and completely avoid “audience relevance”.

“It is impossible to read the Olivet Discourse and fail to perceive its distinct reference to the period of our Lord’s crucifixion and the destruction of Jerusalem. Every word is spoken to the disciples, and to them alone. To imagine that the “you” in this address applies, not to the disciples to whom Christ was speaking, but to some unknown and yet non-existent persons in a far distant age, is so preposterous a supposition as to not deserve serious notice”.

With that in mind…Go and read Matthew 16:25-28. What does the text imply? Do you believe in the words of Jesus Christ?
The humility expressed through Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy is astounding. Mr. Meek provides information on the millennium, the new heavens and new earth, resurrection, among other things.

I did have a question about this statement since it seems that Mr. Meek adds a ‘futuristic idea’ that is not present throughout Scripture:
“Jerusalem was judged in the first century for her historic crimes (See, Matthew chapter 23). There is no reason to believe she (harlot Jerusalem) will never be judged again for those crimes”.

Also, many critics of Full Preterism constantly refer to “the resurrection of the dead” and ask for a “better explanation” than that which is being given. This has been done again and again by many leaders within Full Preterism. I would refer people to read through Dr. Don K. Preston’s stuff…. also, soon enough I will have the video files from THE POWER OF PRETERISM CONFERENCE wherein Dr.

Preston presented an awesome teaching regarding the resurrection.
“Futurists often argue that because Christ rose physically, so must we. That notion is as false as saying that because Christ was literally crucified, we must also be literally crucified (Galatians 2:20) in order to have eternal life”.

The proper understanding of “…resurrection is recovery of relational death between man and God that stood since the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:7, 15; 2 Corinthians 5:1-3)”.

I did notice that Mr. Meek put “bodies” in plural form in many places that I would advocate a necessary ‘corporate’ understanding. Within Full Preterism there is the CBV (Corporate Body View) and IBD (Individual Body at Death view) debate and I have failed to see a proper explanation of IBD. It seems that Mr. Meek advocates a merger of sorts that I have in the past spoke about with other leaders within Full Preterism. Honestly, I don’t see it. Mr. Meek mentioned you can find this individual body reference throughout Scripture. Please provide.

Recently, I was involved in a public debate regarding the difference between a future second coming of Jesus and Preterism. You can view that here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNXL-4nl3zs

During that debate, Pastor Bruce Bennett seemed to be quite obsessed with the physical body of Jesus. Mr. Meek provides a simple explanation:

“At some point Christ must have changed- probably at the ascension. After His ascension, Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus in a manner that Paul could see a light and hear the voice of Jesus , but neither he nor his companions actually saw Jesus in physical form (Acts 9:3-9; Acts 22:6-11; Acts 26:12-19 cf. John 17:5; Hebrews 5:7)”.

Also, another area that I have been pretty passionate about that Mr. Meek mentioned was:

“There is evidence that the concept of the immortality of the soul, as understood by many Christians, my be more from Greek thought than from the Bible”.

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To me it’s rather simple. In John 3:16, “eternal life” is offered to those who believe in Jesus Christ in contrast to “perish” not some odd view of eternal torment. This postulates the view of Conditional Immortality. Think about it….if someone dies and goes to hell for eternity- doesn’t that mean they are living eternally in hell?

“Some Christian scholars are convinced from a comprehensive analysis of the Bible that hell is not, in fact, a place of eternal conscious punishment as is the standard view. Gehenna, the Greek word rendered ‘hell’ in English, was an actual place outside of Jerusalem where waste was deposited and burned. So, some argue that Jesus used gehenna/hell as a metaphor for the total destruction of annihilation of the damned, rather than a place of eternal conscious punishment”.

I debated this topic in October 2013, you can view it here http://vimeo.com/88656535. (Sorry the sound quality isn’t all that great). You can read more about this by visiting the following link:
http://www.rethinkinghell.com/

Another issue that I have dealt with in debate and Mr. Meek brings up in his book is understanding the “old order” and all it’s “tears, mourning, and death” characteristics and how ATONEMENT was understood by those under that ‘order’. Here are some details from his book:

“Jesus appeared at His First Advent to put away/ remove sin (Hebrews 9:26 cf. Daniel 9:24-27; Matthew 1:21; John 1:29; Acts 5:31; Romans 6:1-14; Colossians 1:22; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 3:5; Revelation 1:5), and to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). DID JESUS FAIL?”.

“Concerning death, the Bible says that Jesus destroyed/ abolished death (2 Timothy 1:10 cf. Romans 6:23; Hebrews 2:14-15). DID HE FAIL?”

So I ask, “How much you your expectation of restoration is based on assumption or wishful thinking, rather than Scripture?”

HOW HAVE WE GOTTEN TO THIS POINT?

WHY HAS THE CHURCH FAILED TO CORRECT THIS ERROR?

“We can track the various eschatological views down through the ages; unlike other doctrinal issues we see no formal discussions of eschatology within the Church”.

“Preterists are at the forefront today of the call for a serious and open debate on the Biblical “last things”.

So, I imagine if you have read this far you now realize that you must examine this thing called FULL PRETERISM. Heed the words of St. Augustine:

“If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel that you believe, but yourself”.

Before you go over to http://www.ChristHASCome.org, here are some basic details about Full Preterism.

“We strongly suggest that any eschatology that denies a plain literal interpretation of the New Testament time-texts, has adopted an overly elastic and, frankly, unscriptural position that damages the Bible’s integrity”.

“The good news is that the days are over for even brilliant scholars to to easily escape legitamate challenges; the pace of modern communications is turning the tide toward truly open debate. The resultis the SURGING PRETERIST CHALLENGE TO ESCHATOLOGY”.

“Covenant eschatology solidifies our understanding of the gospel and unifies the message of Scripture. The preterist view reveals the immensity of Christ’s victory”.

“And while it is the minority view in the Church today, it seems to be the fastest growing view”.

“…preterist eschatology is optimistic, beautifully consistent, and faithful to Scripture”.

I love the words of Edward Hassert here:

“Preterism is a theology that can bring answers for those who are sick, dying, struggling with faith, oppressed, addicted , and even living in sin. In fact preterism provides the only real answer to these problems since it is the only theology that addresses the whole of Scripture, believing the Word of God for what it actually says instead of for what men have claimed it has said in the past…True faith is realizing the fulfilled hope we have to live in today, in this moment, instead of some escape clause for the future”.

I end on this note. Let is be said, as Soren Kierkegaard once said:

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true”

I can promise you that when you consider the Biblical evidence for the truth of Full Preterism with ‘intellectual honesty’, you will see that the belief in a yet future ‘second coming’ of Jesus is a serious error and makes as much sense as saying- “Don’t confuse me with the facts”.

“The modern church is an embarrasment to Biblical Christianity, and is too often a stumbling block to seekers. These things must change, and perhaps are beginning to change. We sense that young people especially, at least those that have not left the church for good and still give a whit, are fed up with questionable doctrines and practices in the church”.

Let us pray,

“Who has a heart hardened by biases and preconceptions, Lord? Is it I? Show me the blind spot in my own eye, Lord! Give me the fortitude to deal with error that I might hold. Give me a passion for Biblical Truth. May I not be satisfied with the status quo. And give me the courage to speak up, even among my peers”. Amen.

Blessings in and through Jesus Christ,
Pastor Michael Miano

The Blue Point Bible Church (http://www.bluepointbiblechurch.org

Get your copy of ‘Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy’ at:
http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Hope-through-Fulfilled-Prophecy/dp/0615705901/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370636529&sr=8-1&keywords=christian+hope+through+fulfilled+prophecy

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“What will people do if they believe they have complete freedom as a Christ-follower?”

“What will people do  if they believe  they have complete freedom as a Christ-follower?”

Recently I read “Free Book” by Brian Tome. The fact that the word “fanatic” on the cover was enough to intrigue me enough to read through this book. I loved how blunt Pastor Brian was throughout the book.

         I love the fact that he mentioned that there are millions of books about religion and self-control but so very few about freedom. Jesus Christ talked about freedom so much- why does this seem to be the missing link in Christianity?

In 2009 I seemed to be bent on “living life to the max” and have a couple blogs that one could go back and read. (Disclaimer- remember I have grown Spiritually and mentally quite a bit since 2009). I have come to love the term “hedonist” which John Piper brought into the Christian realm. A hedonist is someone who lives for the pursuit of pleasure. I believe that Kingdom-life through Jesus Christ is the pursuit of the ultimate pleasure, or life to the full (John 10:10).

The man that led me to Christ (Paul Curran) was very big on “embracing your vulnerabilities” in an effort to “access the power of Christ” ( a writing of his about this topic is in the appendix of my book, Freaked Out by the New Covenant). Embracing your vulnerabilities is allowing yourself to die, so to speak, or be weak that way Christ is your strength.  I believe this to be quite the liberating experience.

I remember brother Paul aways citing 1 John 4:8, “perfect love casts out fear”, as a primary thought to challenge people to live without fear. Pastor Brian says this in the book:

“Fear  might keep you  from going places you could enjoy, talking with people who could expand your thinking,  and trying things that will grow you”.

LET YOUR LOVE FOR LIVING YOUR GOD-GIVEN LIFE TO THE FULL CAST OUT FEAR. Make the pledge today to live fearlessly. “Freedom is being who God designed you to be”.

“Instead of being so concerned about what might happen if you get too close to the proverbial line- because there are plenty of those messages out there- we need more voices saying, “You are free, and don’t allow anyone to bum you out by judging you”.

Let me make sure you know something upfront. The minute you decide to take control of your own life and live free- there are always those who will “judge you” and try and bring you back into bondage. I would say this is one of the “universal truths” we can derive from the 1st century gospel message (the contrast between the persecuting “Hagar” and the free “Sarah” – read Galatians 4:21-31).  As Saul Alinsky once said:

“Change means movement. Movement means friction”.

“If you are focused on maintaining balance- trying to satisfy all the people in every area of your life and just skating by with a little energy here and there- you probably aren’t moving, and you probably aren’t experiencing  the blessings that come from a life lived in freedom”.

Another disclaimer is the fact that freedom is kinda scary. It’s the unknown. A favorite author of mine, Shane Claiborne, talks about this is his book- The Irresistible Revolution. He speaks about how perhaps the most dangerous place to be is in the hands of God. A God who challenges men to trust Him and walk on water- Yes, God will bring you to some interesting places.  Sadly, as was said in the book:

“…when a new way of living is introduced, we are hardwired to think it is in our best interest to eliminate in and not change”.

So I want to initiate something here. Let’s call it the Caleb Project. If you read about Caleb in the book of Numbers and the book of Joshua you learn about his steadfast faith in God- willing to have what is called “risky faith”. I am asking you to consider that today. Let’s put this freedom thing to the test.

Have you ever written your bucket list? Write down those things you want to do and get started. Here are a couple of things I ready to start within the next couple weeks and it would be awesome to hear that you are involved.

The LIAR LIAR EXERCISE which is dedicating a day to being “brutally honest” with anyone and everyone you meet. This is quite the daring experience but I imagine it will be quite liberating, and yes- fun. Ha Ha, I just have to include this clip from the movie Liar Liar:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP2PlE41wpE

Pay It Forward is another liberating experience wherein you do a good deed for someone, or pay for their food, in the effort that they will do the same thing. Let’s start a chain reaction. I can give you story after story of how that looked on the Starbucks Drive-Thu line.

         In the next week or two, I will begin the 3 Day Challenge of Living on the Edge. I will be trying to get as many people as possible to participate. Let me know if you are willing to try it out. Learn more by visiting this website:

http://www.liveontheedge.com/3day.html

Some other ideas I am going to try out are living off the land for a week or so and being a freegan. Yeah Google that term it’s quite interesting.

       I know this is not exactly my usual “intellectual” style blog. I pride myself on not taking life too serious, living radically and loving Jesus-m demolishing strongholds and enabling others to find abundant life in Christ. I call this “living lightly”- something I look to get tattoed and start a chain reaction too. Are you willing to try out FREEDOM?

“Because Caleb has different fuel in his tank- a fire burning in his belly- he followed God full-on, and God decided to bless him remarkably through his life and his lineage”.

   I look forward to your responses. Blessings in Christ.

        -Pastor Michael Miano

Here are links to the blogs I had written back in 2009:

 

http://www.newsfromthetribe.blogspot.com/2009/06/dont-wanna-waste-my-life.html

http://www.newsfromthetribe.blogspot.com/2009/06/its-like-being-born-again.html

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The Creation Question that NEEDS To Be Answered! Review of John Walton’s book- The Lost World of Genesis One

“The Old Testament does communicate to us and it was written for us, and for all humankind. But it was not written to us. It was written to Israel. It is God’s revelation of Himself to Israel and secondarily through Israel to everyone else”.

It is a rising notion that when we read the Scriptures we must remember we are reading ancient Jewish documents. Popular writer and theologian, N.T. Wright recently noted, “

“Twentieth-century scholorship has atleast one great advantage over its predecessors…it has been realized that Jesus must be understood in His Jewish context”.

At the advice of many leaders within the Preterist Movement I finally had the opportunity to read and finish John Walton’s book, The Lost World of Genesis One.

After reading I am not sure that John Walton is a preterist but it was encouraging that he sees the importance of what is called “audience relevance”.  As John Walton notes, “The most respectful reading we can give to the text, the reading most faithful to the face value of the text- and the most “literal” understanding, if you will- is the one that comes from their world not ours”.

As I have allowed myself to investigate what is called “Covenant Creationism” I have sought to be intellectually honest. As I begin reading the Bible from the beginning there are a couple contextually issues I run across. The first issue would be the covenantal term “heaven and earth” which is used throughout the Scriptures to speak of God’s covenant with His covenant people- i.e. Dueteronomy chapter 31, Jeremiah 31, and Revelation 21.  Another issue I run across is the context- Genesis is compiled by Moses as part of the Torah. Was the Torah revealed to all the nations? God revealed his truth and promises to Israel- not the other nations (Psalm 147:19 ;Romans 9:4-5; Romans 15:8-13). The “other nations” or Gentiles would come in as a result of the work of Jesus Christ- first to the Jew, then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16).

When looked at through this lens we can explain the focus on Israel that we read from the founding of the tribes of Israel onward. Simply put, the Biblical message is about how God fulfilled His covenant with Israel. Many proponents of Fulfilled Bible prophecy see this at “the end” but fail to be consistent in regard to the beginnings.  I have had the opportunity to speak with Jeff Vaughn, one of the co-authors of Beyond Creation Science, and I asked him “who were those in Adam”. He began to explain the ancient city/state covenants and how most ancient civilizations would have identified themselves by their deity- i.e. Rome= Romulus. Adamites would have been no different leading us into what is called preadamism. Recognizing the Biblical account of “Adam” as the story of the beginning of covenant- Adam being the first covenant man.

One of the thoughts I have had fairly recently is that of the land of Nod. Who was Abel afraid of when he said:

“Behold, you have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me (Gensis 4:14)”.

So who exactly was going to find Cain and kill him in the land of Nod? Consider that is we take this story to be the literal creation story we have Adam, Eve, and Cain…? Where did his wife come from?

This leads us into the preadamite conversation- where they people created before Adam? I personally believe so. I believe the Biblical account of Adam was a creation story- the historical creation of God’s covenant with Adam and through that lineage. So…did the people in the land of Nod have a god? Jeff Vaughn answered this recently by saying:

My guess is that they certainly did, but it would be impossible to prove. Is it possible to determine who the patron of the ancient city of Enoch was? The patron god of Enoch could have been the patron god of the inhabitants of Nod. However, they could have replaced their old god when they founded that city”.

Getting through this discussion is so complicated because as Walton notes in his book,

“Rather than translating the culture, we need to try to enter the culture”. It’s a complicated thing to lose all of our cultural paradigms and be willing to be led by understanding another culture.  For example, John Walton is asking us to consider the Genesis creation account in light of other Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) creation accounts. 

“Comparing the ancient cultures to one another will help us see those common threads even as we become aware of the disnctions that separated thenm from one another”

Does anyone ever ask why we accept the Old Testament creation account over the Book of the Dead or other creation stories? I would imagine half the populace are not even aware of other creation accounts.

The following quotes from John Walton’s book demonstrate the vital need for us to consider understanding the Israelite culture and how THEY would have understood the creation account and challenge our preconcieved notions.

“For the Israelites, Genesis 1 offered explanations of their view or origins and operations, in the same way that mythologies served in the rest of the ancient world and that science serves our western culture. It represents what the Israelites truly believed about how it works, though it is not presented as their own ideas, but as revelations from God”.

“Some Christians approach the text of Genesis as if it has modern science embedded in it or it dictates what modern science should look like. This approach to the text of Genesis 1 is called “concordism”, as it seeks to give a modern scientific explanation for the details in the text. This represents one attempt to “translate” the culture and text for the modern reader. The problem is, we cannot translate their cosmology to our cosmology, nor should we”.

“The ancients would never dream of addressing how things might have come into being without God or what “natural” processes he might have used”.

“The Bible’s message must not be subjected to cultural imperialism. Its message transcends the culture in which it originated, but the form in which the message was imbedded was fully permeated by the ancient culture”.

“In this book I propose that people in the ancient world believed that something existed not by virtue of its material properties, but by virtue of its having a function in an ordered system”.

One of the definitions of the term ‘ontology’ is “a particular theory about the nature of being or the kinds of things that have existence”. That is precisely what is being discussed here. What type of ontology is happening in Genesis? How would the ancient Israelites have understood this text?

“In a functional ontology, to bring something into existence would require giving it a function or a role in an ordered system, rather than giving it material properties. Consequently, something could be manufactured physically but still not “exist” if it has not become functional”.

What John Walton is seeking to demonstrate is that the Genesis account is using creation imagery in a fashion to explain not necessarily how things came into being but why. This would be referred to as a “functional ontology” and in his book, John Walton seeks to demonstrate this is exactly how the ancients would have understood a creation text. He uses the following illustration:

“As employees we pay little attention to the history of the company we work for. We are more interested in its corporate structure and what responsibility each department has”.

An important thing to notice in the text which is hardly possible for those of us who are not fluent in the Hebrew of Genesis would be the verb Bara that is used for the word ‘create’. There are 2 words used throughout the Hebrew text that is translated as create. Bara is always used for that which God creates, whereas asah is used to say ‘made’.

OT scholar John Walton argues that the Hebrew word “bara” does not mean to create “ex nihilo”, but rather it means to give already existing material a function. Eg. in Gen 1:1, “in the beginning God created” is inherently ambiguous; he believes it should say, “when God began to create” and so in verse 2, “the earth was without form” means that the earth always had existed and God was simply working with pre-existing materials.

“If this is not an account of material origins, then Genesis 1 is affirming nothing about the material world. Whether or not there actually are cosmic waters being held back by a solid dome does not matter. That material cosmic geography is simply what was familiar to them and was used to communicate something that is functional in nature”.

Dealing with the functional origins rather than the material origins, John Walton also notes:

“…Genesis 1 is not an account of material origins but an account of functional origins, specifically focusing on the functioning of the cosmos as God’s temple”.

Moshe Wienfield, a former professor of the Bible at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, explained Genesis as a ‘temple text’. Utilizing the ancient understanding of deity and how the deity rests in the temple, John Walton demonstrates that the 7 day rest denotes creation as a ‘temple inaguration’. The following links have more information about this topic specifically:

http://ocabs.org/journal/index.php/jocabs/article/viewFile/43/18

http://nearemmaus.com/2012/04/11/john-waltons-ninth-proposition/

The “cosmic temple inaguration view” has validity to it when looked at as an Ancient Near East text and especially in light of what the Jewish historian Josephus had to say:

“However, this proportion of the measures of the tabernacle proved to be an imitation of the system of the world: for that third part thereof which was within the four pillars, to which the priests were not admitted, is, as it were, a Heaven peculiar to God…” Josephus, Antiquities, Book 3, Chapter 6, Paragraph 4, Section 123).

“When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, and allowed two of them to the priests as a place accessible to the common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men” Josephus, Antiquities, Book 3, Chapter 7, Paragraph 7, Section 181).

As proper “audience relevance” would note:

“I believe if we are going to interpret the text according to its face value, we need to read it as the ancient author would have intended and as the ancient audience would have heard it”.

John Walton isn’t afraid to be challenged either as he writes:

“One of the most common questions about this view comes from those who are struggling with the worldview shift from material orientation to functional orientation (a difficult jump for all of us). In a last effort to cling to a material perspective, they ask, why can’t it be both?”.

His answer actually blew my mind since this is a question I myself have heard many people ask.

“The comfort of our traditional worldview is an insufficient basis for such a conclusion. We must be led by the text. A material interest cannot be assumed by default, it must be demonstrated, and we must ask ourselves why we are so interested in seeing the account in material terms…”

He then accounts the facts that the nature of the verb bara which is used to express “create” in Genesis is functional, the context of Genesis itself is functional, the cultural context of Ancient Near Eastern writings is functional, and clearly when we read Josephus we see the understanding during the time of Jesus Christ was functional- NOT CONCERNED WITH MATERIAL CREATION!

“As a result, it is difficult to sustain a case that the account is interested in material origins if one does not already come with that presupposition”.

And just to again make the point clear:

“Viewing Genesis 1 as an account of functional origins of the cosmos as temple does not in any way suggest or imply that God was uninvolved in material origins- it only contents that Genesis 1 is not that story. To the author and audience of Genesis, material origins were simply not a priority”.

The fact is that in ancient civilication it would have been unthinkable that the deity (in this case the God of Israel) was uninvolved in the creation of all material things- therefore there would have been no need to stress an account of those things. As I have become accumstomed to saying- the Bible was not written to atheists to prove the things about God. Rather the Bible is the historical documentation of how and why God fulfilled His covenant relationship with Israel. Long live FULFILLED ESCHATOLOGY.

Here are a couple ending quotes from John Walton’s book that I thought to share:

“…the Bible upholds the idea that God is responsible for all origins (functional, material, or otherwise), if the Bible does not offer an account of material origins we are free to consider contemporary explanations of origins on  their own merits, as long as God is seen as ultimately responsible”.

“…it is much more important to say that God has made everything work  rather than being content to say that God made the physical stuff. The purpose, teleology (which is the most important part), is located and observed in the functional, not the material”.

“I have proposed that the most careful, responsible reading of the text will proceed with the understanding that it is ancient literature, not modern science”.

So still you ask? “Wny can’t Genesis 1 be both functional and material?

“Theoretically it could be both. But assuming that we simply must have a material account if we are going to say anything meaningful is cultural imperialism. We cannot demand that the text speak to us in our terms. Just as we cannot demand a material account, we cannot assume a material account just because that is most natural to us and answers  the questions we most desire to ask. We must look to the text to inform  us of its perspective. In my judgment, there is little in the text that commends it as material account and much that speaks against it”.

I hope this review helps. Below I will include a couple more links to further your studies on this matter.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

http://www.bluepointbiblechurch.org

Links:

http://biologos.org/blog/adam-is-Israel

http://planetpreterist.com/content/hermeneutic-covenant-creation-taught-berkeley-mickelsen

http://deathisdefeated.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-covenant-creation-archive

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The Pastor: His Qualifications and Duties ( A REVIEW)

               I just finished reading this book which is basically a compilation of the writings done by 19th century Baptist pastor Hezekiah Harvey. I thought it was interesting as a 21st century pastor to look at the historical view of the role of pastor. I took some notes that intrigued me and wanted to share with those who are in the pastorate, are considering it, and those who might help to hold me accountable.

In dealing with the call to serve as pastor, it is of vital importance that the “call to the pulpit” is a there. In the book it was noted that the man called to the pulpit must “feel that he ought to engage in it, and that he cannot do otherwise without guilt”.

“A pastor’s utmost wisdom and discrimination should be employed in inspiring and guiding young men to right thinking in regard to their life-mission”.

                The above quote was an awesome encouragement considering that is what I feel called to do. Lead men and women to find their calling in Christ- this is true DISCIPLESHIP and ultimately is the way we bring “healing to the nations” and help men and women live ‘life to the full’.

                The Freaked Out Movement, which I direct is dedicated to this very cause- helping men and women find their identity in Christ by understanding what burdens and inspires them.

“The modern pulpit, from its neglect of the Bible,  is singularly narrow, exhibiting little of the vast wealth and variety of divine truth. It leaves by far the larger part of the Bible a concealed book. It’s types,, it’s poetry, its prophecies, its parables, its presentations,, as in the epistle to the Romans , of the truths of the gospel in their connection as one grand, comprehensive system of salvation- how little of all this wealth of Scripture is presented in the pulpit”.

                We are in dire need of a REframation dealing with the comprehensive story of Scripture!

“The absence of knowledge even of the fundamental principles of the Christian religion, on the part of many who are hurried into the church, is one of the alarming features of our times.

The lack of Biblical clarity and Biblical literacy is prevalent among so many within the church. “Growing the grace and knowledge of God” of 2 Peter chapter 1 is so important, and instead of making converts who can recite a “sinner’s prayer” we must begin to make disciples who know and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, as well as explain them in a true and reasonable way.

                As I have grown in my understanding of ‘redemptive history’, I have at times put aside the memorial understanding of the Lord’s Supper. I think Mr. Harvey explains the importance of this quite well:

                “Rightly administered, the Lord’s Supper is one of the mightiest forces God has given to inspire and purify the heart and elevate the life of the church”.

                “The care of the souls is the radical idea of the pastor’s office”. This is something I have begun to internalize and keep at the forefront of my work in ministry. Not the afterlife, but the souls in this life- life to the full.

I appreciated the insight of Dr. Cuyler:

                “Young brethren, aim from the start to be thorough pastors. During the week go to those whom you expect to come to you on the Lord’s Day. In the morning of each day study books; in the afternoon study door-plates and human nature. Your people will give you material for your best practical sermons. After an effective Sunday work go around among your flock, as Napoleon rode over the field after a battle- to see where the shot struck and who were among the wounded”.

Dr. Taylor issued the following admonishment:

                “You will make a great mistake if you undervalue the visitation of your people. The pulpit is your throne, no doubt; but then a throne is stable as it rests on the affections of the people, and to get their affections you must visit them in their dwelling”.

Getting back into the writings of Mr. Harvey, he begins to drive home what the life of ministry for a pastor should look like.

“Men differ in their characteristics and modes of working, and each pastor will ordinarily succeed best with his own model”.

                I believe it to be so vitally important for a pastor to know his “hedgehog concept” so to speak. He must know what style he is utilizing for his ministry, what he is most passionate about, and where his focus needs be.

“Above all, the pastor must remember the injunction, “Instant in season, out of season”. He should make the most of opportunities. In the store, the office, and the shop, on the farm, the roadside, and the car- everywhere he is to seek to lead men to Christ”.

                In our day we call this MISSIONAL! A natural outpouring of the Christian Spirit making the fruits of the Spirit not religious, but authentic. “In a minister’s life the danger is he may degenerate into mere professionalism.

“To make the social life of the church strong, healthful, enriching, such as to render it a magnet to attract other souls, is of primary moment in a pastor’s work”.

                I couldn’t have said it any better myself, the only issue we face today is the “attractional model” of ‘doing church’ which seeks to make things fun and hip rather than focusing on teaching and helping foster an understanding of the contextual Biblical gospel. Utilizing Deuteronomy 4:6 helps in these regards.

                Two main ways Mr. Harvey speaks about doing this are “personal effort to promote mutual acquaintances in the congregation by introducing strangers” and “social gatherings in the church”.

“One chief function of a pastor is to develop and utilize the spiritual, mental, and social forces of the church”.

“The minister is, in this respect, a general whom troops are entrusted; his work is to train and organize and lead”.

One of things we believe strongly in our church is being a “congregational led” church. This helps foster the understanding of “the priesthood of Believers” which encourages us all as disciples of Christ to play a role. “Indeed, one of the strongest bonds which bind a church together is the consciousness of being mutual workers, each having a post of duty and a share of responsibility”.

                “A pastor should carefully study his people with the view of ascertaining and utilizing their special aptitudes and gifts”- This my friends is The Freaked Out Movement and should be for all Christian organizations the focus of Discipleship!

“A pastor who will constantly act on the motto, A PLACE AND A WORK FOR EVERY MEMBER, and will press this motto on those who conduct the different departments of wok in his church, will soon find himself at the head of an active, living, and ordinarily happy people, while yet his is not personally overburdened with the details of church-work”.

                Many people within the Church trivialize the importance of being well educated in matters of the gospel and well as other areas- sociology, psychology, various religions and apologetics, among Biblical literacy. “Intellect is a gift of God: it is criminal to leave it undeveloped”.

“It seems to me one of the highest duties of a pastor to foster in such minds a desire and purpose for an education, and to facilitate in every possible way the attainment of that end”.

“A failure to develop his people intellectually is a discredit to any minister”.

“Cultivation of the Missionary Spirit” has got to be my favorite title of a part in Mr. Harvey’s writings, I love the eloquent way he explains the need for the church to be missional:

                 “The importance of a deep, all-pervading missionary spirit in the church can hardly be overrated”.

“To develop and foster a missionary spirit in the church requires, as a first necessity, the presence of such a spirit in the pastor himself”.

                I know men like Alan Hirsch and Shane Claiborne would love to read that quote and say a big “Amen” for the need of church leadership to step outside the church building!

                As I finished the book I took special mention and many quotes from the boom regarding the “Pastoral Study” and the “Life” of a pastor.

“The pastor’s business is to deal with the human mind and the actual experiences of men; he should therefore, go through the world with his eyes and ears open, thoroughly studying men and life around him”.

                That is the missional mindset a pastor must have! Be in the places to hear about the ills of the world, offer insight when necessary, and utilize the things you might hear at “the bar” for the necessary sermons that must be preached!

                Always have a book in hand and consecrate each past of the day for systematic study- awesome thins I have already had in practice!

                Focusing on the ‘cares of the world’ can be the downfall of any man of God, as Mr. Harvey illustrates:

                “Many  a man circumscribes his own intellectual growth and pulpit power, making himself permanently a narrower and weaker man, by allowing these outside cares to destroy his process of mental discipline and growth. Here nothing will overcome but a profound conviction that study- persistent, regular, life-long study- is the solemn first duty of every man who ventures to stand up in the pulpit as an instructor of the people…the most imperative duty of him who teaches others it to teach himself”.

                Hezekiah Harvey also offers various writings to read and areas such as philosophy that should enter into the pastor’s study time to time. Mr. Harvey also holds the pastor in a high regard that he himself should be a model of the things of which he teaches his congregation. I personally believe it is vital that every pastor sit down and create a short list of things he belives to be most important in the Christian life. I would personally write- understanding the contextual gospel (being able to teach it and defend it), being missional, moderation and not religiousity, and the desire to “heal the nations” by way of the gospel.

                At the end of the book, Mr. Harvey includes a quote from the Pilgrim’s Progress which I believe would make a great motto for the Christian pastor:

                “he, had eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth was written upon his lips, the world was behind his back; he stood as if he pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hand over his head”.

The pastor must have the view of his ministry as “a solemn duty he owes his God, his people, and himself, or he will fail”.

                I hope these quotes and notes may inspire you.

Blessings in Christ,

    Pastor Michael Miano

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