Saturday, January 4, 2014

You stopped too early.

What do the New Perspectives on Paul and the Dispensationalists have in common with Theological Liberals and Licentious "Christians?"
They all stop reading too soon, or if we are going to be a little less cute and a little more accurate, they don't adequately let Scripture correct their errors.
Disclaimer: of course, not all the errors are equally serious, but the error is very much related.

Licentious "Christianity"
I'll pick on the soft target of the gay movement, because they have the Queen James Bible in their corner, and they might more accurately be characterized as non-believers. The no-lordship dispensationalists who rose to prominance in the 90s come to mind, as do the Unitarian leaning women pastors. For this group, their lusts are ultimately sovereign, their passions guide their understanding of the Scriptures. When a passage comes along that they don't like, they re-write it. I'm not sure much more needs to be said about these guys, other than they are fundamentally unserious about obeying Scripture.
What they don't read: Anything they don't like.

Liberalism
A god without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom through ministrations of Christ without a cross. People like this, in other words, who argue that our chief problem is a lack of environmental stewardship, Christianity is not about individual salvation from sin, or about getting to heaven. To them, Christianity is about bringing heaven to earth. They love the gospels, or the words of Jesus, but don't care much for the epistles, because those are strongly focused on sin, repentance, the meaning of the atonement, and the coming salvation offered by the Lord Jesus Christ.
What they don't read: the epistles.

New Perspectives on Paul
A complex and wearying school of thought that says Paul was really concerned about who was in or out of the Covenant, and not concerned about personal salvation. The argument is that the Jews all believed in Salvation by grace, and it's Martin Luther who ruined our understanding of them.
This is more like sophisticated liberalism, or liberalism with a bit of faith mixed back in. It's a problem that only infects Covenanters, just as hyper-Calvinism only afflicts Calvinists, and I have trouble figuring out why people would stand by it when it's obvious the people who believe this have not read the sermons in the book of Acts.
In those sermons the gospel is always presented as salvation from personal sin, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, not by works, but by faith. The Apostles understanding of Jesus work and message should be the same one we have, which is where the NPP goes wrong. Besides, the calling of men to repentance makes sense only in light of the gospel being about personal salvation, and makes no real sense if it's about a debate of who is in the covenant.
What they don't read: the sermons in acts.

Dispensationalism
The most harmless of the four. The key mistake here is that the OT prophecies are stand alone events that are fully explainable in themselves. I'll just take you to this here article to show what I mean. Their argument is essentially, "If the Bible is clear, then the OT prophecies must themselves be clear. On the other hand, if there is a hidden element of mystery, then the Bible is not straightforward."
The problem here is their inability to address 1 Peter 1:10-12:

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Which sort of settles the score. The writers of the OT were wrestling with revelation, trying to figure out what it was they were writing. They were inspired and would write, but they didn't really understand all that it was meant. When they asked God why this was so, He told them they were serving someone else, not their contemporaries. That leaves a little mystery in their prophecy, because the fullness is in Christ, not in the prophecy itself. Even the angels who brought this word from God to the prophets didn't understand it.
But you are in Christ, so you do.
What they don't read: that verse.

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