I am reading an interesting book entitled Zeal for Zion: Christians, Jews & the Idea of the Promised Land by Shalom Goldman. The book in a little over 300 pages discusses six different historical examples of relationships between Jews and Christians related to Israel and its land. Its emphasis is on “Two Zionisms,” the Jewish version and the Christian version and how they have interacted beginning in the middle to late 1880s and on till today. There is the expected chapter on recent relationships involving evangelicals like Jerry Falwell and John Hagee as well as the almost required chapter on Theodor Herzl and his Christian associates. Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for January, 2011
I thought about the King James Only Debate while reading a book by David Bentley-Taylor entitled My Dear Erasmus: The Forgotten Reformer (2002). I have always found the logic (or lack of it) in King James proponents appalling. I have also thought that the issue is one of church tradition rather than the Bible itself. The Erasmus book is largely a book of quotes from letters to and from Erasmus (mostly from Erasmus). The letter in particular that caught my attention was probably in 1515. Maarten van Dorp wrote Erasmus the following words (taken from David Bentley-Taylor’s book):
I understand that you have also revised the New Testament and written notes on over a thousand passages. This raises another point on which I should like in the friendliest possible spirit to issue a warning. What sort of operation is this, to correct the Scriptures, and in particular to correct Latin copies by means of the Greek?…It will do a great deal of harm. Many people will have doubts about the integrity of the Scriptures if the presence of the least scrap of falsehood in them becomes known.
It is common to hear criticism of the rugged individualism that has characterized much of the American experience, especially in light of the frontier days. The increase of postmodern thought in America over the last two decades has increased such negative assessment as we study the nation’s history. However, we must be careful not to read this debate into other venues of discussion. For example, in philosophy and ethics, individualism may simply be a way to affirm the moral worth of individuals. Each man must be treated with dignity and respect on his own regardless of his community.
Here I would like to pick up again my critique of an article by Tom Kratttenmaker in August 2010 entitled “What if the end isn’t near?” His article is a criticism of Christians who hold to a pre-trib rapture. Those of us who hold that view, according to Krattenmaker (as well as others), are too focused on the future and not willing to work on problem-solving in the present world. So we are not good for this world — that is the way I am saying what he means.
The particular issue I want to raise in this post is the tendency of overstatement that I found in a few cases in the article. One particular statement that needs to be highlighted is the following:
Those enraptured by the rapture tend to view current events through the lens of biblical prophesy [sic], reading everything from the Obama election to the oil disaster in the Gulf Coast as fulfillment of one or another cryptic passage from Revelation.
Today I started teaching a module, a Masters level course, at Baptist Bible Seminary on covenant theology. Since I am a traditional dispensationalist, the analysis and critique will certainly be from outside the system of covenant theology. All of the required books in the course are by covenant theologians. I figured my students may not have read the covenant guys on their terms. I am having them read Michael Horton’s book Introducing Covenant Theology, G. I. Williamson’s book The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes, a few sections in Berkhof’s Systematic Theology and some in Calvin’s Institutes. Of course, all of my personal notes and lectures are from the dispensational side of the debate.
On the opening day, I started by sharing the areas of agreement between the two camps and by trying to get my students to look fairly at the issues and, most of all, to look in detail in the Word of God itself and not just the theology books. Those of us in systematics sometimes spend too much time reading outside the Bible instead of the Bible itself. Hopefully, when the module is over, my students will have a biblical understanding that allows them to critique covenant theology fairly and accurately. Of course, I hope all my students come out of my class dispensationalists.