Sunday, March 28, 2010

How important is it for preachers to preach Christ from every text of Scripture?

How important is it for preachers to preach Christ from every text of Scripture?

US pastors seek to quash prosperity gospel in black churches

US pastors seek to quash prosperity gospel in black churches

Study Finds Cohabiting Doesn’t Make a Union Last

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/03/us/03marry.html?hpw

Permanence Before Experience -- The Wisdom of Marriage

Permanence Before Experience -- The Wisdom of Marriage

Permanence Before Experience — The Wisdom of Marriage


Posted: Tuesday, March 02, 2010 at 1:33 pm ET

Rightly understood, marriage is all about permanence. In a world of transitory experiences, events, and commitments, marriage is intransigent. It simply is what it is -- a permanent commitment made by a man and a woman who commit themselves to live faithfully unto one another until the parting of death.

That is what makes marriage what it is. The logic of marriage is easy to understand and difficult to subvert, which is one reason the institution has survived over so many millennia. Marriage lasts because of its fundamental status. It is literally what a healthy and functioning society cannot survive without.

And yet, modernity can be seen as one long attempt to subvert the permanent -- including marriage. The modern age has brought the rise of individual autonomy, the collection of populations in cities, the weakening of family commitments, the waning of faith, the routinization of divorce, and a host of other developments that subvert marriage and the commitment it requires.

Added to this list is the phenomenon of cohabitation. The twentieth century saw the phenomenon of cohabitation become the expectation among many, if not most, young adults. But the end of the century, the progression of intimacy (including sexual intimacy) was likely to follow a line from "hooking up" to cohabiting.

A new study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics suggests two very important findings: First, that cohabiting is now the norm for younger adults. Second, cohabiting makes divorce more likely after eventual marriage.

“Cohabitation is increasingly becoming the first co-residential union formed among young adults," states the report. The facts seem daunting. The percentage of women in their 30s who report having cohabited is over 60 percent -- doubled over the last fifteen years.

Reporting in The New York Times, Sam Roberts documents the rise of cohabitation among the young. He cites Pamela J. Smock of the University of Michigan's Population Studies Center. "From the perspective of many young adults, marrying without living together first seems quite foolish," she explains.

That perfectly captures the new logic -- that it would be foolish to marry without first cohabiting. How can you know if you are really meant for each other? How can you measure compatibility without the experience of living together?

That logic makes perfect sense in a society that is increasingly sexualized, secularized, and "liberated" from the expectations of the past.

Reacting to the research findings, Professor Kelly A. Musick of Cornell University asserted, “The figures suggest to me that cohabitation is still a pathway to marriage for many college graduates, while it may be an end in itself for many less educated women." The study report affirmed her assessment: “Cohabitation is increasingly becoming the first co-residential union formed among young adults . . . . As a result of the growing prevalence of cohabitation, the number of children born to unmarried cohabiting parents has also increased.”

But, as this new report suggests, cohabiting before marriage does not lead to a stronger and more permanent union. Instead, the experience of cohabiting weakens the union. As Roberts reports: "The likelihood that a marriage would last for a decade or more decreased by six percentage points if the couple had cohabited first, the study found."

Pamela Smock argues that the research will fall on deaf ears. “Just because some academic studies have shown that living together may increase the chance of divorce somewhat, young adults themselves don’t believe that.”

That may be true, and it surely captures the spirit of the age. The experience of cohabiting just makes sense to many young adults. Their logic is that marriage is what happens after a relationship becomes sexually intimate and is found to be adequately fulfilling -- not before.

They do not know that what they are actually doing is undoing marriage. They miss the central logic of marriage as an institution of permanence. They miss the essential wisdom of marriage -- that the commitment must come before the intimacy, that the vows must come before the shared living, that the wisdom of marriage is its permanence before its experience.

Cohabitation weakens marriage -- even a cohabiting couple's eventual marriage -- because a temporary and transitory commitment always weakens a permanent commitment. Having lived together with the open possibility of parting, that possibility always remains, and never leaves.

This research might not alter the plans of many young couples, who are not likely to read, much less be advised by such research. But it does affirm what makes marriage what it is, and what weakens and destroys marriage as an institution.

From a Christian perspective there is more, of course. We are reminded of marriage as God's gift and expectation, and of the divine goodness of it. We are also reminded that it is our Creator, and not we ourselves, who knows that we need permanence before experience. We need marriage.
___________________________

I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at mail@albertmohler.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlbertMohler .

Sam Roberts, "Living Together First Doesn't Make Marriage Last, Study Finds," The New York Times, Tuesday, March 2, 2010.

How Do We Handle “Contradictions” in the Bible? by Tony Garlad

How Do We Handle “Contradictions” in the Bible?

By Tony Garland
SpiritandTruth.org
Q. When I come across something that seems contradictory or something that doesn't make sense to me, I tend to pay more attention to it because it's something I don't expect to see in a perfect text - although I certainly acknowledge the possibility of my own errors in misinterpretation, which many times is the case. What is the best way to proceed in such situations?
A. Once we become aware of Jesus' teaching concerning the way in which God’s Word divides people (e.g., Mtt. 13:10-16), this experience will be seen as normal.
After years of study, I'm convinced of several things:
God has purposefully superintended the writing of the Scriptures to contain the equivalent of “speed bumps” (I like to refer to them as “faith bumps” ) They are purposefully in the text to serve as a dividing line between people of faith who are seeking God and skeptics who find therein the justification they seek for rejecting God and the claims of the Bible.

These same difficulties, which appear contradictory at first, are generally resolved by patience and continued faithful study accompanied by prayer. Although there will always remain puzzles we haven't found the answer for, a considerable number will resolve themselves if we are patient. What’s more, their resolution typically brings an “aha” moment where we are privileged to see just how clever and reliable the Scriptures truly are because a precious insight often attends their resolution. (For example, understanding the differences in the genealogies of Christ in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 provides insight concerning an earlier curse which God placed on the Messianic line which follows upon David’s son Solomon leading to Joseph, but which is bypassed in the line through his other son Nathan leading to Mary.)

If a person can get over the initial “faith bumps” by continuing to trust God (exercising faith!) while praying for an understanding as they continue to study, then a place will eventually be arrived upon where we’ve seen so many of these seemingly irreconcilable statements or passages be resolved that we have enormous faith that ones that still remain are reconcilable too. This is a bit like studying predictive prophecy in detail such that we become convinced that we are not just investigating a typical book - that it has “proven itself” to us beyond the level where an additional “hiccup” or two can shake us from what we have already seen to be true. This is an inductive extension of what we’ve experienced (resolution of seeming contradictions) to things we haven't - the essence of true faith.

Nevertheless, there will always be aspects one continues to puzzle over. But the key is where one places the locus of their lack of resolution? Is it the logic and reliability of the Scriptures that has failed? Or is it our understanding which is faulty and needs to grow? The skeptic will always assume the former whereas the born-again believer assumes the latter.

There is no shortcut to rolling up our sleeves and prayerfully and regularly studying the Scriptures for ourselves. But we must have the staying power to go past stumbling blocks that we'll encounter along the way. We mustn’t get “stuck” when we think we've encountered a problem. It is best to simply write down in our own words what we are puzzled by and then move on. We can even keep a journal or file of these “puzzles” and pray about them as God leads.

If your experience is like mine, you'll be amazed at how, over time, the pieces to resolve these puzzles come into place - often when we are studying a different passage of Scripture or learning from a new teacher. It is much more productive to take this approach than to “park” on the problem and try to force a resolution before moving on.

God is faithful to reveal Himself to those who seek Him (Heb. 11:6). Have patience and persistence and fruit will come!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

WHAT IS GOOD?

WHAT IS GOOD?

David Q. Santos

Philosophers, politicians, and theologians (among other groups) have all struggled with the desire to identify and define what “good” is. This struggle has been put through the “thought mill” many different ways over the century. Philosophers have approached the topic of good from multiple angles; expressing good from an existential and universal perspective down to a practical and utilitarian view. Politicians and rulers have made attempts at multiple types of governments, employing the thoughts of the ages, so as to bring about utopian societies and/or to gain a hold of power. All of the knowledge of philosophy, political science, and religion put together miss the authoritative answer to what good is.

Philosophy looks into human knowledge and ethics to find good. Philosophers commonly ground their inquiry of good in epistemology and metaphysics. Epistemology is “the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope.”[1] Dr. Christopher Cone states that epistemology asks the question “how can we know?”[2] He continues, writing,

An epistemology is the first basic element in philosophy that must be encountered. Before one can begin inquiry he must first accept a set of ground rules. He must adopt a system whereby he can accept certain propositions and reject others. He must accept first principles upon which he will build.[3]
Once the ground rules are established a philosophical inquiry can begin. “Both are, however, sciences based on experience rather than metaphysics.”[4] This yields a system of knowledge that is without God. Geisler explains that “there is a kind of mystical epistemology presumed in this “God is unknowable” approach.”[5]

Whether the inquiry is based on experience or metaphysics true good is never found without God. In fact these systems always turn to a self centered system to express what good is. Arthur Pink affirmed this point when he wrote, “That is the sum of the world’s philosophy—self shielding and self-seeking; but that which Christ preached was not spare “but sacrifice.”[6] The search for intrinsic good quickly becomes futile. This can be seen in virtue ethics which prescribes to the view that “happiness as the highest end, achievable by means of virtue.”[7] The Virtue ethics of Plato and Aristotle is “centered on the notion of the traits of a fully functioning, psychologically healthy, and morally good person.”[8] This then becomes a matter of epistemology. While Plato and Aristotle assume that man in intrinsically good the Bible does not. In fact the Apostle Paul wrote that “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:10) And Jesus made the point very clearly when he stated that “No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Lk. 18:19)

The view of anthropology that affirms the belief that man is intrinsically good is also found in political philosophies. Plato and Aristotle’s view that man is naturally good can be found in most systems of ethics that make an attempt to find the good in society, or at least develop a system by which “good” can be maintained in a society. Bentham, Hobbes, and Locke used variations of Utilitarianism to express their worldviews. Utilitarianism seeks to find good in a society by balancing pain and pleasure. Bentham “develops a calculus for measuring the worth of an action based on its accomplishing of pain or pleasure.”[9] This balancing act creates problems for defining and locating true good.

Utilitarian theories are challenged by cases in which the sacrifice of a minority appears to bring about the greatest happiness of the greatest number; Kantian deontological theories are tested by cases in which actions judged inherently wrong by the theory (e.g., lying) appear to actually be justified when alternative actions seem to lead to even worse consequences (not lying, and sacrificing a life). Moral theories which yield outcomes which are clearly contrary to the standard intuitions or widely accepted moral beliefs of one’s moral community are either rejected or modified to cover the adverse cases.[10]
Utilitarian thought yields a social contract that maintains many of the same problems of utilitarianism. It continues to come to this point; these Godless approaches still have man to contend with. These systems cannot overcome the problems of being man centered. As Cone stated, “morality is built not on any absolute standard of good (besides the end of happiness)…”

The final approach at producing a good political society can be seen in two opposing views. Marxism attempts to produce a utopian society after the same model of Plato and his work titled The Republic (although there are some key differences). This system finds good in a society with no class distinctions. The state keeps all resources in common making everyone equal. But the reality is that everyone is not equal. This system places a ruling class that controls the state’s resources. This system demands that there be no property ownership, no family, and no religion. While many have espoused this system it still fails to provide the promised utopian society.

This system cannot overcome the problem of evil and oppression in a society. J. Ronald Blue wrote,

Marxism needs to be subjected to the light of biblical authority. Earthly utopianism needs the added dimension of eternal reality. Holistic universalism will never bring the unity and renewal that redemptive liberty affords… Whatever the analysis one makes and irrespective of the solutions one proposes, every person must heed Gutierrez’ challenge to act on behalf of those in need. This is the will of the Father. True liberation, however, can only come through the touch of the Father. It behooves every believer to follow the Master’s example and “preach good news to the poor” and “proclaim freedom for the prisoners” and “the oppressed” (Luke 4:18–19). God’s good news will always do more than man’s good works. Redemptive theology is the answer to the flaws of liberation theology.[11]
The contrasting view of Democracy takes a step closer to finding a “good” society. It affirms that mankind has rights that are divinely granted. The Declaration of Independence takes many of its statements from the thoughts of John Locke as well of the Bible. It states,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.[12]
The men who developed the Declaration of Independence were Christian (although revisionists have made them out to be deists) who know their Bibles. They attempted to develop a political government that would protect God given rights of the people in its land.

The Bible claims that national existence is dependent on commitment to the instructions, directives, and moral principles of God’s Word (Psalm 33:12)… This means that the Founders believed that freedom, free enterprise, and economic prosperity rise solely from the foundation of Christian morality.[13]
Many of the founders of the United States of America acknowledged that their newly formed republic would only last as long as there were moral people running it. When they spoke of morality they held to principals from Scripture to define their “good.” This system works well as long as the Biblical worldview exists. When Biblical principals are left the system goes much the same way as the other systems. Democracy without a Biblical worldview is just a mob rule where the mob can institute regulations to bring personal satisfaction. Once again, the system fails because of the inability of mankind to be good or moral without God.

Solomon’s inquiry concludes the need for God. He explains that without God all is vanity. Yet, with God, the lives of men have meaning and fulfillment. The meaning and purpose of life is to know God. (Jn. 17::3) Apart from the Biblical worldview all is vanity just as Solomon discovered. Millard Erickson summarized when he wrote,

Yet Christian theology has a definite worldview. The Bible quite clearly affirms a theistic and, specifically, a monotheistic understanding of reality. The supreme reality is a personal, all-powerful, all-knowing, loving, and holy being—God. He has created everything else that is, not by an emanation from his being, but by bringing it all into existence without the use of preexisting materials. Thus the Christian metaphysic is a dualism in which there are two types or levels of reality, the supernatural and the natural, a contingent dualism in which all that is not God has received its existence from him. God preserves in existence the whole creation and is in control of all that happens as history moves to the fulfillment of his purpose. Everything is dependent on him.
Taking the biblical concepts as the tenets of one’s view of reality restricts considerably the range of philosophical worldviews that are acceptable. For instance, a naturalistic worldview is excluded, both because it restricts reality to the system of observable nature, and because possible occurrences within this system are restricted to what is in conformity with its fixed laws. Materialism is even more emphatically opposed by biblical revelation. Similarly, most idealisms are excluded insofar as they tend to deny the reality of the material world and the transcendence of God.[14]
Erickson affirms Solomon’s point that good is only found through God. All of the ethical and political systems designed to produce “good” people or “good” societies fall short. They fall short because there is no true good without the Creator God and His Son Jesus Christ. It is only through the righteousness of Jesus Christ than man can truly follow the will of God. It is only by the washing of the Word that mankind can perform actions for the right reasons of desiring to honor and glorify God. Good, therefore, is what God says is good.

Work Cited:

Benner, David G. and Peter C. Hill, Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology & Counseling, 2nd ed., Baker reference library (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1999).

Blue, J. Ronald, “Major Flaws in Liberation Theology,” Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 147 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1990; 2002).

Chismar, Douglas E., “Ethical Reasoning: A Philosophical-Psychological Exploration,” Ashland Theological Journal Volume 14 (Ashland Theological Seminary, 1981; 2007).

Cone, Christopher, PhD, ThD, Life Beyond the Sun: An Introduction to Worldview & Philosophy Through the Lens of Ecclesiastes, (Fort Worth, Tyndale Seminary Press, 2009).

The Declaration of Independence, “Foundations of Freedom” (Virginia Beach, VA).

Erickson, Millard J., Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1998).

Geisler. Norman L., Systematic Theology, Volume One: Introduction, Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2002).

Miller, Dave, PhD, Christianity, Democracy, and Iraq,” (Montgomery AL, Apologetic Press, 2005), 12/21/2009, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/308

Pink, Arthur Walkington, The Arthur Pink Anthology (Bellingham, WA.: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2005). Chapter 14.

Soanes, Catherine and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). “Epistemology”

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[1] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). “Epistemology”

[2] Christopher Cone, PhD, ThD, Life Beyond the Sun: An Introduction to Worldview & Philosophy Through the Lens of Ecclesiastes, (Fort Worth, Tyndale Seminary Press, 2009), 24

[3] Ibid, 24

[4] David G. Benner and Peter C. Hill, Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology & Counseling, 2nd ed., Baker reference library (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1999), 1174.

[5] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume One: Introduction, Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2002), 134.

[6] Arthur Walkington Pink, The Arthur Pink Anthology (Bellingham, WA.: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2005). Chapter 14.

[7] Cone, 90.

[8] Benner, 1251.

[9] Cone, 179.

[10] Douglas E. Chismar, “Ethical Reasoning: A Philosophical-Psychological Exploration,” Ashland Theological Journal Volume 14 (Ashland Theological Seminary, 1981; 2007), 4–5.

[11] J. Ronald Blue, “Major Flaws in Liberation Theology,” Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 147 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1990; 2002), 102–103.

[12] The Declaration of Independence, “Foundations of Freedom” (Virginia Beach, VA), 39.

[13] Dave Miller, PhD, Christianity, Democracy, and Iraq,” (Montgomery AL, Apologetic Press, 2005), 12/21/2009, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/308

[14] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1998), 57–58.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Marxism & Postmillennialism

MARXISM & POSTMILLENNIALISM

David Q. Santos

Calvin wrote of man’s innate awareness of God.[1] The Bible teaches that God provided in the creation a utopian world (Gen. 2) that was lost through one man’s sin (Rom. 5:12). The Bible also teaches that God will restore the creation (Rom 8:21-23) and bring into existence a perfect society, a kingdom on earth (Rev. 11:15). In that kingdom Jesus Christ will rule and reign from His throne (Rev. 3:21) with a rod of iron (Ps. 2:9; Rev 19:15). Both before the time of Christ’s ministry and since His ascension from earth to Heaven (Acts 1:9-11) men have tried to bring in this kingdom by their own power. By observation, one could suggest that along with man’s innate awareness of God comes a desire for His utopian kingdom. Mankind has tried to replace God with things such as intellectual endeavors, passions, even good deeds. In like fashion man has designed multiple governmental schemes to replace God’s true plan for mankind.

Within Christendom this manner of thinking is commonly called dominion theology and is best seen in postmillennial eschatology. It is the view that by action the church can do enough good in the world and force the kingdom of God to begin. This type of philosophy is certainly not found only in Christian theology. Many humanistic approaches to government and ethics have been made to “bring in the kingdom,” a utopian nirvana without a god.

The trouble with all of these systems of ethics and government is that they all fail to meet the problem of mankind. These systems all see the world through the lenses of a man-centered reality. A system called Marxism (which was really presented by Plato’s Republic) sought to deal with this problem. Marxism is “the political and economic theories of Karl Marx (1818–83) and Friedrich Engels (1820–95), later developed to form the basis for the theory and practice of communism. [2] Marxism is an “atheistic form of postmillennialism, as are other humanistic utopias.”[3] Its premise is to remove all class distinctions with the presumed conclusion of a perfect society. The Communist Manifesto states that all existing society is the “history of class struggles.”[4]

Marxism contains the presupposition that only economics influence history. Harold J. Ockenga, in his article on Gustavus Adolphus (Swedish ruler who militarily came to the aid of the reformers) points out that the “Marxian maxim is that only the struggle for bread, or the philosophy of economic determinism, controls history. Factors like religious faith, personal magnetism, military genius and statesmanship, to say nothing of romance, directly influence the events of history.”[5] Marx then sees all struggles of history as only a struggle of existence with two classes; the oppressed and the oppressors or the bourgeoisie. Ockenga stated that “Marx made the struggle for a living the determining factor in political, legal and religious institutions. He considered the self-interest of people led them to look primarily after their own welfare when left free, and that this economic self-interest expressing itself in relation to production and exchange was the stuff out of which history was made.”[6] As found in other sytems of government and ethics self-interest causes the problems. Ockenga explains,

This interpretation of history supported the Marxian theory of “class struggle,” which prophesied struggles between different economic classes of society until all men became producers and then society would be emancipated, in his words, “from all exploitation, oppression, class-distinction and class struggle.”

The underlying causes of a community’s, a state’s or a nation’s development and decline may be sought in the field of their economic conditions. In the words of the Communist Manifesto, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.”[7]
Therefore, for Marxism, the concluding answer to class struggle is to remove all classes. This is accomplished by three means. These means are, “(1) the abolition of private property, (2) the abolition of classes (including any and all family relations), and (3) the abolition of religion.”[8] Marxism was presented as a governmental system by which all could be better. Many considered it a system of hope. In this author’s view Marx et al were not very good students of history. It can be demonstrated that Marxism emphasizes many of the characteristics that led other governments and societies to fall. For example, in 1788 Edward Gibbon wrote about the five points that brought ancient Rome to its knees; several of which are highlighted in Marxism. He described Rome’s fall as coming from

1. The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis for human society

2. Higher and higher taxes; the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.

3. The mad craze for pleasure;

4. The building of great armaments when the real enemy was within-the decay of individual responsibility.

5. The decay of religion; faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life, losing power to guide the people.[9]
The parallel elements that caused the fall of Rome (and other societies) with Marxism should be exceedingly obvious. Destruction of family, removal of religion, and higher taxes make an elixir that will doom any culture. Upon historical and political examination the reality of Marxism rears its ugly head. The utopia of a society in commune has always morphed into a culture of tyranny with tyrants lording over the people. Phillip Johnson describes Marxism as, “a liberation myth that has become a new justification for ordering people not to think for themselves.”[10]

A government where the workers of the world could unite; giving what they had and taking according to their need was not instituted. Instead, a new platform for dictators was designed perfectly with built in controls of the people as their right to exist apart from the state was no longer intact. There was no right to property which John Locke argued is an essential component to ethics.

A much overlooked impact of Marxism is how it affected Christian theology. Millard Erickson stated it by writing that, “Marxism as the world’s hope for a better future, has had great impact on various Christian theologians. They have felt challenged to set forth an alternative, superior basis for hope.”[11] One must ask how this came about. With such an anti-Biblical worldview how does Marxism infiltrate the church? Like all other beliefs, “Marxism [and liberation theology] needs to be subjected to the light of biblical authority.”[12]

The infiltration took place primarily through the single word “hope.” Marxism presents itself as a system of hope. This theme rang true to some in the Christian community. “A theology developed by J├╝rgen Moltmann. Influenced by Marxism, Moltmann taught a theology of revolution and social change by the church’s confronting society’s injustices. Liberation theology has its roots in Moltmann’s theology.”[13] Hamilton, in an article on the “social gospel” describes Marxism writing,

Because of the anti-religious element found in it Marxian socialism has tended to drive Christian people in general away from such a position and to make them recoil. It is noteworthy, however, that in recent years some thinkers within Christendom have been recognizing how the ethical principles for which Marxian socialism—at least Marx personally—was struggling are in essence compatible with Christian ideals. A recent student of the relationship between the ideas of Marx and those of Christian thought points out: “Marx recognized that in form of statement the criteria of justice, equality, the brotherhood of man and the primacy of human values over such standards as that of efficiency in production sound like Christian ideals. But the difference, he maintained, between him and Christian advocates of the same principles was that he expected to put them into practice, whereas Christians were content to leave them in an uncontaminated, transcendental sphere.” This same researcher takes four men as representative of the Christian thinkers who have sought to evaluate the work of Marx—Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, John Macmurray and Nicolas Berdyaev, and comes to the conclusion that all four may differ in their acceptance, rejection or modification of the social and economic elements in Marx’ thought depending upon their own sociological premises, but that they agree his ethical ideas are close to (if not identical with) the ideals of Christian ethics and that Marxism cannot be considered apart from its theological implications.[14]
Hamilton recognizes that some theologians are willing to accept some of the premises or “ethical principals” of socialism. Harold Hagar takes a much harder, and more Biblical approach to this topic. He sees the modern social-gospel for what it really is; false doctrine. He wrote,

Among the worst of the testings that can come to a child of God are those borne on the winds of false doctrine in the forms of pseudo-Christianity so rapidly sweeping across our nation today. On every hand there are numerous cults and isms with attractive programs, and enticing promises to lure the Christian away from his faith. Modernism also is making headway like an army of termites among our churches, and the appeal to disparage doctrinal discernment and denominational distinctions and be united in Christ is heard on every hand. But the worst enemy of all is Marxism, in the form of a modern social-gospel projected on religious grounds, so subtle in its propaganda that many people are unaware of its danger and progress.[15]
William Newell brings this work back full circle. Whether it is Marxism or Postmillennialism, the kingdom of God will not be brought in by man’s will. He wrote,

The end of governmental things is at hand. Kings lost their majesty to democracy; aristocracy lost its dignity to socialism, finally to communism. This all comes, of course, to tyranny under a dictator, like Napoleon on the ruins of the French Revolution, Stalin succeeding Marxism. The absolute outcome will be the rule of Antichrist over all Christendom. Witness Revelation, chapters 13 and 17. Everywhere is uncertainty and fear—no security, these days. Our Lord Himself will end this condition of things by His own appearing and His kingdom.

Men know they should have a king. In desperate emergencies they rush for one, as the Romans for Cincinnatus when the enemy threatened their gates. Men boast of “government of the people, by the people, for the people” as a great slogan; but God will bring a sudden end to such impiety. How would this sound in heaven: “government of the angels, by the angels, for the angels”? Where is God, His throne and His glory in such a program? How would it do for a family with children to conduct a children’s convention during the absence of the parents, and to form a constitution with bylaws that they would thereafter obey no commands which a majority vote of the children did not approve?[16]

All men know that they are responsible to something beyond themselves. Mankind longs to have the creation restored and the world to be ruled by the true king Jesus Christ. Yet the rebelliousness of the human heart rejects the moral and ethical standards of God. Therefore they set themselves up as gods and develop man-centered governments. But in the end, every tongue will confess and every knee will bow to Jesus Christ as Lord.

Maranatha!


Work Cited

Blue, J. Ronald, Major Flaws in Liberation Theology, Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 147 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1990; 2002).

Cone, Christopher, PhD, ThD, Life Beyond the Sun: An Introduction to Worldview & Philosophy Through the Lens of Ecclesiastes, (Fort Worth, Tyndale Seminary Press, 2009).

Enns, Paul P., The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1997).

Erickson, Millard J., Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1998).

Geisler, Norman, A Premillennial View of Law and Government, Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 142 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1985; 2002).

Hagar, Harry, “The Amazing Power of Unbelief in the World Today,” Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 110 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1953; 2002).

Hamilton, Alan H., “The Social Gospel Part 2,” Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 108 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1951; 2002).

Johnson, Phillip E., “Separating Materialist Philosophy from Science,” Bible and Spade (1997) Volume 10 (Associates for Biblical Research, 1997; 2003).

Marx, Karl, Friedrich Engels, Gareth Stedman Jones, The Communist Manifesto, (Marxist.org), http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm  , Chapter 1, accessed 12/23/2009

Monroe, Kenneth M., “Biblical Philosophy of History,” Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 91 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1934; 2002).

Newell, Williams R., “The End of All Things is at Hand,” Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 109 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1952; 2002).

Ockenga, Harold J., “The Reformation and Gustavus Adolphus,” Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 104 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1947; 2002).

Soanes, Catherine and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Wallace, Roy, PhD, ThD, Studies from Revelation, (Shreveport LA, LinWel, 2002).
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[1] Christopher Cone, PhD, ThD, Life Beyond the Sun: An Introduction to Worldview & Philosophy Through the Lens of Ecclesiastes, (Fort Worth, Tyndale Seminary Press, 2009), 417
[2] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
[3] Norman Geisler, A Premillennial View of Law and Government, Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 142 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1985; 2002), 255.
[4] Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Gareth Stedman Jones, The Communist Manifesto, (Marxist.org), http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm , Chapter 1, accessed 12/23/2009
[5] Harold J. Ockenga, “The Reformation and Gustavus Adolphus,” Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 104 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1947; 2002), 472.
[6] Kenneth M. Monroe, “Biblical Philosophy of History,” Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 91 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1934; 2002), 321.
[7] Monroe, 321.
[8] Cone, 252.
[9] Roy Wallace, PhD, ThD, Studies from Revelation, (Shreveport LA, LinWel, 2002), 151-152.
[10] Phillip E. Johnson, “Separating Materialist Philosophy from Science,” Bible and Spade (1997) Volume 10 (Associates for Biblical Research, 1997; 2003), 34.
[11] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1998), 1158.
[12] J. Ronald Blue, Major Flaws in Liberation Theology, Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 147 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1990; 2002), 102.
[13] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1997), 626.
[14] Alan H. Hamilton, “The Social Gospel Part 2,” Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 108 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1951; 2002), 92–93.
[15] Harry Hagar, “The Amazing Power of Unbelief in the World Today,” Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 110 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1953; 2002), 170.
[16] Williams R. Newell, “The End of All Things is at Hand,” Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 109 (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1952; 2002

The Rapture and the Olivet Discourse

To my class studying with me. We have been studying the rapture along with other prophecy. Here are two articles on the Olivet Discou...