Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: RELIGIOUS & POLITICAL LIBERALISM: Reformed Theology and the Influence of Its Eschatology upon World Politics

Thursday, July 12, 2007

RELIGIOUS & POLITICAL LIBERALISM: Reformed Theology and the Influence of Its Eschatology upon World Politics

“1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:1-6).

“4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. 5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. 6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. 8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:4-8).

What we believe about Biblical prophecy and future world events will greatly impact our world view and how we live our lives in the light of the pending immanent fulfillment of those prophecies. There are three major theological positions on the millennial reign of Christ.

Millennium is a word meaning a thousand year period. Another word for it is Chiliasm coming from the Greek word CHILIAS meaning one thousand. Chiliasm refers specifically to the teaching that Jesus Christ will reign on earth for one thousand years after His second coming. That is essentially the meaning of the first theological position on the Millennium called PREMILLENNIALISM.

Premillennialism results from a literal and (usually) dispensation interpretation of prophecy. It sees the Church Age coming to a catastrophic end due to the judgment of God upon the earth. In most cases, Premillennialists see the redeemed (the saved of the Church Age) removed (raptured) from the earth prior to the judgments beginning (the Tribulation). Almost all historians of early church history agree that Chiliasm was the view held by those of the Apostolic Age.

Premillennialism also distinguishes between God’s dealings with the Church and Israel in end time prophecies. It holds to the re-gathering and restoration of the literal nation of Israel at the beginning of the theocratic Millennial Kingdom under Jesus Christ.

A second theological position is known as Amillennialism. The word millennium is a Latin term meaning one thousand years. It comes from the root words mille, meaning thousand, and annum, meaning years. The word amillennial actually is a combination of Greek and Latin. In Greek, placing the letter “a” before a word negates the word. Amillennial would literally mean no-millennial. However, that is not the true position of most Amillennialists. Most Amillennialists believe there will be no literal reign of Christ on earth. Christ’s reign is on a throne in Heaven over a Kingdom of hearts on earth. They believe the one thousand years of Scripture is just figurative and the Kingdom began with ascension of Christ to Heaven.

Therefore, central to this position is the denial of the literal reign of Jesus Christ upon the earth. There are two central divisions in this position. There are those who believe the prophecies relating to the millennium are being fulfilled presently on earth as Christianity subdues the world and ushers in a utopian theonomic society (this is the Augustinian position of Amillennialism; the theonomy is the governance of God’s laws and commandments through a State/International Church. Augustine’s term for this was the Holy Catholic Church.).

Perhaps Philip Schaff in his introduction to his History of the Apostolic Church best summarizes this position.

“The central current and ultimate aim of universal history is the Kingdom of God established by Jesus Christ. This is the grandest and most comprehensive institution in the world, as vast as humanity and as enduring as eternity. All other institutions are made subservient to it, and in its interest the whole world is governed. It is no after-thought of God, no subsequent emendation of the plan of creation, but it is the eternal forethought, the controlling idea, the beginning, the middle, and the end of all his ways and works. The first Adam is a type of the second Adam; creation looks to redemption as the solution of its problems. Secular history, far from controlling sacred history, is controlled by it, must directly or indirectly subserve its ends, and can only be fully understood in the central light of Christian truth and the plan of salvation. The Father, who directs the history of the world, ‘draws to the Son,’ who rules the history of the church, and the Son leads back to the Father, that ‘God may be all in all.’ ‘All things,’ says St. Paul, ‘were created through Christ and unto Christ: and He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the Church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the pre-eminence.’ Col. 1:16–18. ‘The Gospel,’ says John von Müller, summing up the final result of his lifelong studies in history, ‘is the fulfilment of all hopes, the perfection of all philosophy, the interpreter of all revolutions, the key of all seeming contradictions of the physical and moral worlds; it is life—it is immortality.’ . . . The kingdom of Christ, in its principle and aim, is as comprehensive as humanity. It is truly catholic or universal, designed and adapted for all nations and ages, for all the powers of the soul, and all classes of society. It breathes into the mind, the heart, and the will a higher, supernatural life, and consecrates the family, the state, science, literature, art, and commerce to holy ends, till finally God becomes all in all. Even the body, and the whole visible creation, which groans for redemption from its bondage to vanity and for the glorious liberty of the children of God, shall share in this universal transformation; for we look for the resurrection of the body, and for the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

Then there are the Amillennialists who believe the saints in heaven are fulfilling the prophecies about the millennium during this period of time (proposal by Kliefoth). This requires the spiritualization of these prophecies in that they cannot apply to people living on earth. Both of these two millennial positions require an allegorical interpretation of Scripture. In both cases they believe the eternal state will happen immediately after the second coming of Christ. Many do not believe in a literal second coming or an eternal state. Theological liberals commonly hold this latter position.

The third major theological position is known as POSTMILLENNIALISM. This position was first proposed by the English Unitarian, Daniel Whitby (1638-1726). Much of this position is the direct result of the interpretation of the purpose and work of Christ from the Unitarian perspective of salvation and the Church.

They believe the Church Age will end with the whole earth turning to Christianity (at least their concept of it). Once this is accomplished then Christ will return. Post means after, therefore postmillennialism means Christ will return after the millennium, not before it. This not only requires the allegorical interpretation of prophecy, it requires the rejection of many portions of Scripture regarding the millennium (such as Revelation 20:1-7).

The vast majority of Covenant theologians completely reject the idea of a literal return of Messiah to the earth to establish a literal Kingdom on earth. They disparage this belief saying it originates from historical Jewish fables and traditions regarding the coming of Messiah to establish a literal, political kingdom on earth where the nation of Israel will be the world power on earth.

These positions drive the hermeneutics of those holding them. However, some of these positions are more eisegetical (eisegesis; n : personal interpretation of a text, especially of the Bible, using your own ideas) as opposed to exegetical (exegesis; n : an explanation or critical interpretation, especially of the Bible). In eisegesis, the interpretation of a text is determined by preconceived ideas or beliefs that are already held to. In exegesis, the interpretation of the text DETERMINES the beliefs to be held to. Covenant Theology and Amillennialism (and Reformed Theology) are primarily eisegetical. Dispensational Theology and Premillennialism are primarily exegetical. In the context of an Amillennial world view, Liberal Theology began to adopt Karl Marx’s philosophies of Social Economics as its main emphasis in ushering in a utopian kingdom (thereby birthing the Social Gospel).

Marx viewed the means of the sociological progression of the implementation of his economic theory through two eyes; sociological revolution and sociological evolution (this is what the word PROGRESSIVE means to a political liberal). Marx viewed society (the Social Economy) in two categories, Proletariat (lower class of producers; laborers or wage earners) and Bourgeoisie (upper/middle class of consumers that take capital or profit from what is produced by the labor class thereby exploiting the labor class for personal gain). His economic theory was primarily intent on equalizing the distribution of capital (Product) between all classes and thereby eliminating those classes (or equalizing them).

Religious Liberals took up Marx’s PROGRESSIVE evolutionary economic theory and adapted it to their Amillennial view. They saw the scientific advances in the world as the means to the end of all poverty and sickness; a utopian Kingdom on earth advanced by humanity (Humanism). A Liberal, Socialist Baptist pastor named Harry Emerson Fosdick in the Cole Lectures for 1922 delivered before Vanderbilt University (Christianity And Progress; a series of six lectures) said, “When, then, we find the minds of men first throwing off their intellectual vassalage to antiquity and beginning to believe in themselves, their present powers and their future prospects, it is this new found mastery over nature’s latent resources which is the spring and fountain of their confidence.”

Although in Fosdick’s second lecture (The Need For Religion), he deals with and warns about mankind making science and its own intellect into a substitute for God, that was the natural evolutionary outcome of his so called Progressive Christianity (Religious Liberalism).

Marx’s REVOLUTION view for social change is known as Communism. His EVOLUTION view of social change is known as Socialism. The Revolution View proposed the radical and violent overthrow of the structure of a society in order to force the institution of this economic theory through a totalitarian governance of that society. His Evolution View (Marxist Reconstructionism) proposed the gradual institution of this economic theory through the Democratic process (this is what is going on in Political Liberalism). Marx laid out the goals for this social evolution and implementation of his economic theory in the Communist Manifesto I. (The Communist Manifesto, Gateway Edition, Henry Regnery publisher, 1954, pages 11 and 12).

1. Abolition of property and land and application of all rents of land to public purposes
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax
3. Abolition of all right of inheritance
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels
5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly
6. Centralization of the means of communication and the means of transport in the hands of the state
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with the common plan
8. Equal liability of all labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of population over the country
10. Free education for all children in public schools, the abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form and the combination of education with industrial production, etc.

It requires little effort on our part to see the advances this philosophy has made upon the societies of Europe and North America. However the progress of this MOVEMENT has not been accomplished by revolution. The Marxists discovered that the societies in which revolution took place were usually destroyed by the revolution. There was little of value left to redistribute after the revolution.

From this revelation, the Marxist Revisionism (Reconstructionism) of the late 1800’s began to develop. In the 1890’s Sidney and Beatrice Webb founded the Fabian Socialist Society. This was known as Federalism in Europe and New Dealism in the United States of America. Notice the key terms in their agenda:

“They avowed a NON-REVOLUTIONARY, GRADUALIST policy to attain a highly organized DEMOCRATIC state socialism by way of SCHOLARLY demonstration, brilliant PROPAGANDA, and PERMEATION of established political and influential organization.”

In Religious/Political Liberalism, Secular Humanism (Non-theism) has married Marxist Reconstructionism (the evolution of Marx’s socialist economic theory). The two have been made “one flesh.” Religious Liberalism (Socialism) invented the Social Gospel as its means to achieve Marx’s evolutionary view for social change (Reconstructionism and Redistribution). This became a major part of what Religious Liberalism and Secular Humanism have come to refer to as Social Planning. This is progressively (gradually) moving societies toward Marx’s redistribution economic philosophy.

One portion of Scripture has been singled out by theological liberals and misinterpreted to try to give Biblical credibility to this redistribution economic philosophy. Of course, they take this portion of Scripture completely out of its eschatological context in its primary reference to the Jews during the seven year Tribulation on earth.

“31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:31-46).

Verse 31 establishes the eschatological chronology of the text. It is after the second coming of Christ to the earth. It is not about the Church Age. It refers to the way people treat “his sheep” during the seven year Tribulation and it details Christ’s retribution for that treatment.

1 comment:

Lance said...

Dr.ketchum makes clear what scriptures tell us . Right before our eyes we see our society in a state of moral suicide. Those of us that see ,are called to warn the people.
Tom Sparks
Psalm 11:3