Posts Tagged ‘preterism’

Another Look: Has the Church Replaced Israel?

LTRP Note: As we approach this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day (April 24th) and in view of a recent article we posted where we referred to God’s view of Israel, we are reposting Mike Oppenheimer’s article/booklet titled Israel: Replacing What God Has Not, which we originally released four years ago. And if you have never watched Caryl Productions documentary film Christian Palestinianism, we highly recommend it. In view of secular media’s bias against Israel and much of the Protestant and evangelical church turning against Israel as well, this is an issue that Christians need to understand. We hope the DVD as well as Mike Oppenheimer’s report will help with that. Both are from a scriptural perspective.

Israel - Replacing What God Has NotIsrael: Replacing What God Has Not
Mike Oppenheimer

At a time when a clear and biblically sound understanding of  Bible prophecy is most important, we find the church, paradoxically, having less knowledge of it, especially as it relates directly to Israel.  Most evangelical Christians throughout history have supported the Jews and the modern state of Israel, but things are changing. The church, from its infancy, believed God had a future plan for Israel based on Scripture (Acts 3:19). This plan included the national  restoration of Israel to the same land from which they were eventually  dispersed. As time went on and the church drifted further and further away from her Jewish beginnings, many began to erroneously believe the church had replaced Israel. But in this day and age when we see biblical prophecy being fulfilled on such an unprecedented and unparalleled scale—with God’s continual protection and restoration of the Jews to their land, there should not be those who walk in disbelief with regard to God’s promises. But there are!

A growing number within the church are holding to the position that Israel as a people and a nation has no further place with God and that Israel is eternally cast off for their rejection of the Messiah. They believe national Israel no longer has a future in any part of God’s plan. They also believe all the promises given to Israel have not only been revoked but transferred to the church and that the church is now the “true Israel.” Some even go so far as to make disparaging and untruthful remarks, which suggest the Jewish people are now no longer a “chosen people of God” and are cursed because of their unbelief or that they have inherited all the curses of the law found in Deuteronomy 28–33.

They believe all the blessings belonging to Israel have now been transferred to the church, but they neglect to include the curses found in Deuteronomy 28. If one is going to lay claim to the blessings of Deuteronomy 28, then one must lay claim to the curses as well. Nor can we live under the Old Covenant and the New Covenant at the same time. But, these teachers would strip the Jews of the inheritance God pledged to them (and never revoked) and apply all these blessings to themselves. But God sees through the arrogance, and jealousy, that is being rekindled in these last days. Ironically, those who have taken such a stance have proclaimed curses on themselves, for God said He would curse those who curse Israel. Deuteronomy 28 is a conditional covenant of Moses that God extended to the nation of Israel, but we would do well to hold fast to the New Covenant of grace that has now been extended to both Jew and Gentile.

Adherents of this Replacement Theology teaching claim the church was already in place in the Old Testament and was an assembly of believers. Therefore, the church, in their mind, becomes the continuation of Israel. Since Pentecost of Acts 2, the term “Israel” now refers to the church, they say. However, if one takes a closer look at how the words in the Book of Acts are used, one will see this is not so. If this is true, then why are there so many distinctions made between Israel and the church throughout the Book of Acts and why are so many distinguishing statements also made throughout Paul’s epistles? Such inconsistency can only originate from a man-made doctrine built on a false presupposition at best.

The very first occurrence of the Greek word ekklesia in the New Testament is found in Matthew 16:18. The word “church” (ekklesia, or assembly) is often thought to mean Israel by replacement theologians as a generic meaning for an assembly of worshipers. Thus, they assume the word church is a Greek word for Israel. They believe this is what Jesus the Messiah meant in Matthew 16:18 for the word church (it is only used again in the New Testament Gospels in Matthew 18:17). This would mean there always was the church (i.e., “the church” is Israel continued in the New Testament). However, in Matthew 16:13–20, the word “church” literally means “those called out,” referring to those who confess Jesus is the Son of the Living God—something that was not yet revealed in the Old Testament (this will be further explained as we look at Romans 11). These “called-out ones” are not in reference to the Mosaic Law that was given to the nation Israel but to a whole New Covenant.

In the New Testament, the term is used also in the narrower sense of a single church, or a church confined to a particular place. There is the church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (Romans 16:5), the church at Corinth, the churches in Judea, etc. As I stated earlier, if one were to keep substituting the word Israel for church throughout the New Testament, they would soon begin to see the problems it would create.
In Acts 8:3, Saul persecuted the “church” from house to house. He certainly was not persecuting Israel.

Acts 2:47: “And the Lord added to the church [Israel?] daily such as should be saved.”

Acts 8:1: “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church [Israel?] which was at Jerusalem.”

Acts 11:26: “And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church [Israel?], and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

And in Acts 15:4: “And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church [Israel?], and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.”

The fact that Jews were called out of unbelieving Israel to be part of the church does, in every sense, go against the church being Israel.
In the same way, if one uses the word “church” or “the church” interchangeably for Israel, even more problems occur.

Matthew 2:20 says, “Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel [church].”

Matthew 8:10: “[T]o them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel [the church].”

Matthew 10:6: “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel [the church].”

Matthew 15:24: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel [the church].”

Matthew 19:28: “[Y]e which have followed me . . . ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel [the church].”

Luke 24:21: “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel [the church].”

Would it not be prudent then to let the word “Israel” mean what God would have it mean in its consistent, designated, biblical
context, and the term “the church” be what God would have it mean in its longstanding, God-given context as well?

[T]hey asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6. See also Acts 3:12; 4:10; 13:24.)

Was he restoring the church? Of course not.

As Israel rejected the chief Cornerstone, Peter remarks that the believers are, “coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious . . . as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4–5).

You “are built up a spiritual house”—oikodomeisthe. These have become a congregation of faith among those who disbelieve.

The Nation Israel
Israel was always referred to as the nation made up of Jews who are physical descendants of not just Abraham (as are the Gentiles) but Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Seventy-three times in the New Testament the term “Israel” is used. In the majority of the instances given, Israel is referred to in the national, ethnic sense. There are three main passages used to try to prove the church is Israel. They are as follows: Romans 9:6, 11:26; and Galatians 6:16. I Corinthians 10:18, however, cites “Israel after the flesh” as the true, believing Israel among the unbelieving—just as in Romans 9:6 the Apostle Paul makes a distinction between two Israel’s—one who believes, and the other who doesn’t. And yet, both are ethnic Israelites, but only one has the measure of faith necessary to enable them to faithfully uphold their end of their covenant with God. For without faith, it’s impossible to please God.

Galatians 6:16 is often used to prove that the church is Israel. This view maintains that the “Israel of God” is comprised of Gentile believers. The “Israel of God,” however, clearly is comprised of those Jewish believers who, in sharp contrast with the Judaizers, followed the rule of salvation by faith alone. Here Paul is speaking only of a division within ethnic Israel.

Some of them are believers and thus truly Israel, whereas others, though ethnically Israelites, are not truly Israel, since they are not believers. No Gentiles, therefore, are found in this statement at all.

This Replacement Theology view is often held within groups such as Reconstructionists, Dominionists, and Kingdom Now adherents who hold to a view that we will build God’s kingdom on earth before Christ returns. This non-biblical view presupposes that the Gentile will be able to establish what the Jew could not, but this will never happen.

God, however, has entered into a binding covenant with and is committed to the people of Israel. He has made an everlasting covenant with Israel and cannot break His Word. There are those in the “church” who take the position that His first covenant promises to the Jews are now null and void. Paul makes it clear to the church in Rome saying, “Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1). On this basis alone, we are provided with scriptural proof that Replacement Theology teaching is wrong. In Ezekiel 36, God makes it very clear that He will never abandon Israel—not for their sakes alone, but because His name and His reputation are on the line. Jeremiah writes immediately after the promise of a New Covenant:

Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. (Jeremiah 31:35–36)

God is so adamant about His covenant with Israel here that He would sooner revoke the existence of the stars and planets that He would withdraw His covenant with Israel.

In other words, God cut an everlasting blood covenant with Abraham:

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3)

This has not been revoked. To this nation, God will give a land—the land of Canaan (Genesis12:1, 7; 13:14–15, 17; 15:17–21; 17:8). God will bless those who bless this nation and curse those who curse it (12:3). God laid down a divine principle that has been seen and proven time and time again throughout history.

When you go against Israel (cursing the people like Balak tried to get Balaam to do), you are going against the Messiah who created Israel to be a blessing to all nations.

Another Scripture to consider is found in the Book of Joel:

I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. (Joel 3:2—emphasis added.)

Also, in Genesis we read:

And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.” (Genesis 12:7)

He promised a land—specifically, the land of Canaan. The emphasis of Genesis 17:9–14 is that circumcision is a token of God’s covenant with Israel—being performed on the eighth day of a boy’s life. Circumcision was to be a sign of one’s Jewishness, or the seal of the covenant.
God chose to confirm His covenant with Jacob, as evidenced in Genesis 28:13–15. Then it was confirmed through all of Jacob’s twelve sons, who fathered the twelve tribes that came to comprise the nation of Israel (Genesis 49).

Israel was given laws and instructed in all the ways by which to be distinguished, set apart and separate from the Gentiles. Yet, now we have teachers saying the Gentile church is Israel. Such Gentile Christians who claim they are the true Jews and are of the notion they have replaced Israel, should take heed of and fear the words of Jesus when He states that those who “say they are Jews” but are not, are liars and are of “the synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9; 3:9).

The promises made to both Abraham and his seed are unsearchably rich in blessings which have not yet come to complete fulfillment but await the Messianic Kingdom. The Abrahamic Covenant contains both physical and spiritual promises. The physical blessings were limited to the Jews (such as the land), whereas the spiritual blessings were to extend to the Gentiles through the Messiah only (upon their being grafted into the Olive Tree). In the Old Covenant, the Gentiles had to convert to the religion of Judaism (but this still did not make them Jewish).

God revealed that it was to be through Sarah’s son Isaac that the Abrahamic Covenant would be confirmed (Genesis 26:2–5, and 24). Case in point examples of this include: Exodus 2:23–25; 4:24–26; 6:2–8; 32:11–14; Leviticus 26:46; Deuteronomy 34:4; II Kings 13:22-23; I Chronicles 16:15–19; II Chronicles 20:7–8; Nehemiah 9:7-8; Psalm 105:7–12; Luke 1:54–55, 68–73; and Hebrews 6:13–20. These verses explain how the Abrahamic Covenant is the basis for Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, for giving them the land, for Jewish survival throughout the centuries despite their disobedience, for the coming of the Messiah, the resurrection of the dead, and for Israel’s final redemption and restoration.

Israel has become the focus for a watching world, always making front page news, and yet ironically and unfortunately, much of the church, to their own shame, no longer believes in the nation’s relevance today. It is Satan, of course, who has instigated hatred and anti-Semitism towards the Jewish people throughout the centuries. The closer we come to the end of all things and in the final analysis especially, he will be seething, and his rage will be unchecked, for he knows his time is short, and he will do everything in his power to annihilate them in a more horrific manner than even what Hitler was able to inflict upon the Jewish people.

In the meantime, we would all do well to remember that any teaching, doctrine, or interpretation must be based upon all of what Scripture has to say on a given subject (both Old and New Testament passages), and not just upon a single verse. We must take the whole counsel of God’s Word. When we study Israel, there is a wealth of information in the Bible awaiting our discovery concerning the people, the nation, and its future. Replacement Theology and its antagonistic view of Israel is perpetuating an anti-Semitic stance within the church.

What one believes about Israel is of utmost importance and pivotal to understanding the Bible and the end times. This should be all too apparent, if not self-evident when we study the Word. Old Testament promises made to national Israel will literally be fulfilled in the future just as they were literally fulfilled in the past. The details to support this can be found in abundance in the Old Testament, and we find that both John (in the book of Revelation) and Paul in his epistles often draw on a number of passages to prove their points.

As I’ve stated more than once already, but cannot stress enough, if Israel is truly no longer God’s “chosen people,” we find numerous problems inherent with this position that cannot be reconciled with God’s character, His promises, or Scripture.

Romans 11 contains scriptural precepts which are critical to understand. To get the complete picture, read chapters 1–10 of Romans through thoroughly. Also, chapters 1–2 of Romans points out how all men are without excuse because of the evidence of the truth of God, which has been with us from the beginning, revealed in creation, and found in nature.

Romans 2 discusses the Jew and the law. It points out the futility of trying to obtain salvation through the law—that Jews, God’s chosen ones do not have any advantage over the Gentiles for salvation. For we all have sinned, we all have missed the mark and fallen short of God’s glory. There is none truly righteous—no, not one. The law shows us just how short we fall of God’s holiness. In fact, the Jews who have more knowledge of God, will have even more to answer for. The chapter closes with the statement that it is not enough to be circumcised externally to be a Jew, but rather God’s concern is for the heart to be circumcised or transformed—not an outward change in the flesh but in the inner man.

In Romans 3–8, we are told that the Jews had an advantage over the Gentiles in that they were given the truth of God’s Word (the oracles of God) and were entrusted to keep it. However, both the Jew and the Gentile have sinned, and the law did not, does not, and will not justify any of us. None of us are justified apart from a genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul raises the question in Romans 9–11 regarding the rightful place of Israel. On this matter then, Paul has this to say:

For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. (Romans 9:3)

If the church was in any kind of position to replace Israel, Paul could not have made such a strong statement. However, we need to pay close attention to how Paul defines Israel throughout the book of Romans and his other epistles.

It’s obvious that God’s everlasting Covenant is still in effect with Israel because of what Paul states earlier in his very same letter to the Romans. He goes on to identify his people—distinguishing them from the Gentiles and the church:

. . . who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. (Romans 9:4–5)

Certainly, these are not Gentiles or “the church” of which he is speaking.

In summary, what can be said for Israel? God says that we are to bless them and not curse or turn against them. Of the Jew, Paul stated “unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2). Jesus Himself said that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). And though they have been dispersed throughout the world, God has blessed and prospered them wherever they went. We, therefore, owe a great debt to the Jewish people; and Israel is still Israel and will continue to have a special place in God’s heart and significance in the future of our planet. Remember, God has said of the Jew:

 For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. (Zechariah 2:8).

To order copies of Israel: Replacing What God Has Not?, click here

Hostile Sentiment Toward “End-Time” Believing Christians Increasing

by Roger Oakland (Understand the Times)

 If you haven’t already noticed, anti-Christian sentiment is growing toward those who believe in a biblical last days/Book of Revelation scenario prior to Christ’s return. A 2005 article titled “Lutheran leader calls for an ecumenical council to address growing biblical fundamentalism” should help convince you. The article shows not only this growing resentment towards Bible-believing Christians but also the interspiritual path this change in attitude is taking:

The leader of the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination has called for a global Christian council to address an “identity crisis” on how churches interpret and understand the Bible. Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America … called for Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran churches to come together to combat a fundamentalist-millenialist-apocalypticist reading of Scripture.1

Hanson’s request for a group to monitor and expose anti-ecumenists who take the Bible literally carries some weight! His message contains other statements showing his concern about Bible literalists–particularly those who take Bible prophecy seriously and see Israel and the Middle East crisis as an end-times sign post. The article continues:

[M]ainline churches traditionally are uneasy with literal readings of Scripture, particularly in fundamentalist churches, regarding the end of the world and political unrest in the Middle East. In addition, mainline churches have been divided over what the Bible says about hot-button issues such as homosexuality and women’s ordination.2

Bishop Hanson believes that a global ecumenical group made up of Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans is the answer to the crisis he sees. Hanson calls this effort a “ministry of reconciliation,” that will “result of Christ breaking down the dividing walls,” and “reconcil[ing] the whole creation to God’s self.”3 But Hanson says that those who believe in a biblical end times and a literal Bible interpretation are counterproductive to and holding back the cause of Christ, which he suggests is to unite all of creation and produce a planetary utopia.

Incredibly, Hanson would like to reverse the outcome of the first reformation, join hands with the Catholic Church, and embrace the Eucharistic Jesus in order to bring about an ecumenical unity and the kingdom of God here on earth. He explains:

How do we as LWF [Lutheran World Federation] member churches continue to express our commitment to Eucharistic hospitality and sharing with the Roman Catholic Church without minimizing the theological issues that remain? Will 2017 and the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation provide an opportunity for shared reflection with the Roman Catholics on our contributions and commitment to the unity of Christ’s church and to the work for justice and peace in all the earth.4

In this goal to bring about the kingdom of God on earth through an ecumenical, inter-faith movement, Reverend Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jerusalem, believes that those who adhere to an apocalyptic end-time scenario (with a focus on Israel) are spreading “heresy.” He says they “pretend to love the Jewish people” but are “actually anti-Jewish” with teachings that are “racist.” He has requested that Lutherans “alert all Christians everywhere to its dangers and false teachings.”5

As I mentioned  in Faith Undone, Rick Warren tells his followers that the details of Christ’s return are none of our business. Tony Campolo says Christians that focus on end-time scenarios have been the cause of “extremely detrimental” consequences. One thing you will notice in the writings of most emerging church leaders is an absence of discussion on a catastrophic apocalyptic atmosphere before Christ’s literal return to earth. What you will see though is lots of discussion about establishing the kingdom now and never mind thinking about life after our earthly deaths. Brian McLaren gives an example:

The church has been preoccupied with the question, “What happens to your soul after you die?” As if the reason for Jesus coming can be summed up in, “Jesus is trying to help get more souls into heaven, as opposed to hell, after they die.” I just think a fair reading of the Gospels blows that out of the water. I don’t think that the entire message and life of Jesus can be boiled down to that bottom line.6

In an interview on Planet Preterist website, McLaren discusses his dilemma over eschatological-thinking believers:

I didn’t start with any interest in rethinking eschatology … I think many of us are in this kind of rethinking process–some starting from the beginning part by rethinking, perhaps, the relation of faith and science in relation to evolution and young-earth creationism … some starting from the middle, as they re-examine what the gospel of the kingdom of God is supposed to mean, or the idea of integral or holistic mission … and some starting from the end, re-examining eschatology….

Sometimes I think that people who are thoroughly indoctrinated and habituated into this kind of system will not be able to break free from it without experiencing both psychological and social dislocation and disorientation. (emphasis added)7

McLaren also says that such Christians are really going to hurt our world. He continues:

An eschatology of abandonment, which is how I would characterize certain streams of the left-behind approach, has disastrous social consequences… Any project geared toward improving the world long term is seen as unfaithful, since we’re supposed to assume that the world is getting worse and worse.8

In the interview, McLaren is asked what he thinks about a “preterist book”* that was being released. McLaren states:

A lot is at stake in these conversations–and very literally, the lives of thousands of people hang in the balance because if the dominant religious group in the country with the most weapons of mass destruction embraces an eschatology that legitimates escalating violence … well, I hate to think about it.9

In essence, McLaren is saying if you believe the Book of Revelation and Matthew 24 are yet to take place, you are a dangerous psychological misfit and are assumed to have no compassion for the suffering, no concerns for the environment or the world in which we live, and have the potential to blow up the world with “weapons of mass destruction.” If McLaren was talking about big governments and political parties, that would be one thing, but he is clear–he is referring to Christians who believe what the Bible says about the last days.

In an article written by Rick Warren, “What Do You Do When Your Church Hits a Plateau?” Warren told pastors and church leaders not to be discouraged about slow change in their churches. He told them it would take time … and in many cases, it would take these resisters either leaving the church or simply dying. Warren exhorts:

If your church has been plateaued for six months, it might take six months to get it going again. If it’s been plateaued a year, it might take a year. If it’s been plateaued for 20 years, you’ve got to set in for the duration! I’m saying some people are going to have to die or leave. Moses had to wander around the desert for 40 years while God killed off a million people before he let them go into the Promised Land. That may be brutally blunt, but it’s true. There may be people in your church who love God sincerely, but who will never, ever change.10

By making statements like this, Rick Warren marginalizes those who won’t go along with the new reformation that he is hoping for. While Warren doesn’t say that people should kill them, he does say that God may have to end their lives, just like when “God killed off a million people before he let them go into the Promised Land.”

One of the tools Rick Warren uses to help churches make the transformation into the new paradigm is a book called Transitioning: Leading Your Church Through Change. Written by Dan Southerland, a Saddleback pastor and the director of Church Transitions Inc., an organization that “trains pastors and church leaders to effectively manage major transitions,”11 Southerland states in a chapter titled “Dealing with Opposition”:

We have experienced two major sources of criticism during our transitions. The first is Christians from more traditional backgrounds…. Not all of our traditional backgrounded Christians have been critical–just the ornery ones. Our second source of criticism is traditional church pastors. Again, not all traditional church pastors–just the meaner ones.12

Southerland tells readers that “some folks are going to get very angry.” He likens these opposers to “leader[s] from hell.” He says:

If you have read Nehemiah recently, you will remember that Sanballat is Nehemiah’s greatest critic and number one enemy. Let me put it plainer than that. Sanballat is a leader from hell…. We all have some Sanballats in our churches. This is the guy who opposes whatever you propose…. You cannot call this guy a leader from hell to his face–but you could call him Sanballat.13

The concept of get with the program, change, or die is very common in New Age and emerging circles as well–those who don’t get on board (or ride the wave as Leonard Sweet puts it), will have to die. Listen to the words of New Age activist Barbara Marx Hubbard. She states:

Christ-consciousness and Christ-abilities are the natural inheritance of every human being on Earth. When the word of this hope has reached the nations, the end of this phase of evolution shall come. All will know their choice. All will be required to choose…. All who choose not to evolve will die off.14

This sounds much like Leonard Sweet when he says, “Reinvent yourself for the 21st century or die. Some would rather die than change.”15

It is quite ironic that one of the biggest complaints by New Agers and emerging church proponents alike is the black and white, either/or mindset of their critics, but in actuality, this is what they are doing themselves–telling believers to “reinvent or die.” (For more on end-time emerging spirituality, read Faith Undone.)

Notes:

1. Kevin Eckstrom, “Lutheran leader calls for an ecumenical council to address growing biblical fundamentalism” (Religious News Service, August 11, 2005).
2. Ibid.
3. Bishop Mark S. Hanson, Lutheran World Federation President and presiding Bishop of the ELCA, “The Church: Called to a Ministry of Reconciliation,” Address to the LWF Council in Jerusalem (Lutheran World, September 2005), p. 1.
4. Ibid., p. 8.
5. “Younan: Christian Zionism is heresy” (The Lutheran, March 2003). Note: According to one online encyclopedia, Christian Zionism is defined as: a belief among some Christians that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, is in accordance with Biblical prophecy, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian _ Zionism).
6. Brian McLaren cited on “PBS Special on the Emerging Church” (Religion and Ethics Weekly, July 15, 2005, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week846/cover.html), part 2.
7. Interview by Planet Preterist with Brian McLaren (http://planet preterist.com/news-2774.html).   
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid.
10. Rick Warren, “What Do You Do When Your Church Hits a Plateau?” (Rick Warren June 16, 2006 e-newsletter, Issue 263).
11. From Church Transitions website: http://www.church transitio ns.com/about_cti.htm.
12. Dan Southerland, Transitioning (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, First Zondervan Edition, 2000), p. 116.
13. Ibid., p. 115.
14. Mike Oppenheimer, “The Plan” (Let Us Reason ministries, citing Barbara Marx Hubbard, Happy Birthday Planet Earth, Ocean Tree Books, 1986), p. 17, http://www.letusreason.org/NAM20.htm).
15. Leonard Sweet, Soul Tsunami (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), p. 75.

Brian McLaren – Rethinking the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Definition of Preterism – The belief that all Bible prophecy (including Matthew 24) has already happened, including the second coming of Jesus Christ. Also called Covenant Eschatology or Fulfilled Prophecy. It is worth noting that many with the Dominionist and/or Preterist view point seem sympathetic to and accepting of contemplative spirituality.

The following is an interview that took place between Brian McLaren and the “Planet Preterist” website.

Excerpt from the interview:

Interviewer: I think many Christians within the Preterist movement are being deeply affected by your work and by what Emergent is doing across the world. Why do you think that your message appeals to so many of us?

Brian: First, it’s encouraging to hear you say that it does. Theologies work as systems, don’t they … and they have a beginning, and middle, and an end, and the three are integrated into a single system. I think many of us are realizing that if we have one part mixed up, it will affect our understandings of the other two parts. I didn’t start with any interest in rethinking eschatology, but of course eventually I had to realize that if I rethink one area, it will lead to rethinking other areas. I think many of us are in this kind of rethinking process – some starting from the beginning part by rethinking, perhaps, the relation of faith and science in relation to evolution and young-earth creationism … some starting from the middle, as they re-examine what the gospel of the kingdom of God is supposed to mean, or the idea of integral or holistic mission … and some starting from the end, re-examining eschatology. Wherever you start, you end up looking into the other areas too, I think….

Interviewer: As we are also trying to also put a new face on our own movement and transform it into “a new kind of Preterism,” and move beyond the theoretical fundamentalism into the practical, tangible aspects of Christianity and the realized presence of Christ, we are encountering the same friction and opposition that perhaps you have already encountered when dealing with a target audience that sees all things in black and white. Do you have any advice for us on how to better build bridges and construct better channels of communication with other believers?

Brian: Again, I wish I did. I think you are very perceptive to put the focus on “the realized presence of Christ,” because that is key. I also think you’re perceptive to identify the underlying problem not as mistaken eschatology but as “theoretical fundamentalism” and “black and white” thinking. Sometimes I think that people who are thoroughly indoctrinated and habituated into this kind of system will not be able to break free from it without experiencing both psychological and social dislocation and disorientation.

Click here to read more of this interview.

See also:
Dominionism, Global Peace and Mysticism
Ignoring Eschatology


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