Skip to comments.A Dispensationalist Agrees with Me!
Posted on 02/13/2008 9:31:41 AM PST by topcat54
For some time now I have been challenging dispensationalists to be consistent with their claim that they interpret the Bible literally. They don’t take time words like “near” and “shortly” literally. “This generation will not pass away,” Tim LaHaye and others argue, becomes “the generation that sees these signs will not pass away.” Donald E. Green agrees with Neil Nelson that “‘generation’ refers to an evil kind of people in Matthew’s gospel.”1 Richard L. Mayhue, Professor of Theology and Pastoral Ministries at the Master’s Seminary, argues that the Greek word genea (“generation”) “refers to ‘the category of rebellious people who have rejected God’s truth and righteousness through the ages.”2 In each of these cases, words have to be added to Matthew 24:34 in order to get genea to mean these things. “This generation,” to follow the “plain sense” interpretive methodology employed by dispensationalists, means nothing more than the generation to whom Jesus was speaking if you stick to the text and compare how “this generation” is used elsewhere in the gospels.
Even when Jesus uses the phrase “evil and adulterous generation,” He is referring to that first-century generation, not some undesignated future generation (Matt. 12:38–45). The Pharisees say to Jesus, “We want to see a sign” (v. 38). Jesus answers, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign” (v. 39). That makes their generation an evil and adulterous generation since they are the ones asking for a sign. Even so, Jesus gives them a sign, “the sign of Jonah the prophet” (v. 39). And when was the sign of Jonah the prophet fulfilled? In their day (v. 40). The use of “this generation” throughout this passage (vv. 41–42) is used by Jesus to point out how their generation will be judged by the people of Nineveh and the Queen of the South because someone greater than Jonah and Solomon “is here.” The “here” is there! LaHaye, Green, Nelson, and Mayhue are wrong in their attempts to make “this generation” mean something other than the obvious.
My persistence in pushing for a more consistent hermeneutic is beginning to pay off in other areas. Since writing The Truth Behind Left Behind with Mark Hitchcock, Thomas Ice has “come to disagree” with the following statement that he and Hitchcock made about the weapons described in Ezekiel 38 and 39: “Ezekiel spoke in language that the people of his day could understand. If he had spoken of MIG-29s, laser-fired missiles, tanks, and assault rifles, this text would have been nonsensical to everyone until the twentieth century.’”3 Ice admits that he no longer holds this view:
Gary DeMar criticizes such an approach when he says, “If someone like Tim LaHaye is true to his claim of literalism, then the Russian attack he and Jerry Jenkins describe in Left Behind should be a literal representation of the actual battle events as they are depicted in Ezekiel 38 and 39.”4 DeMar continues, “How do Hitchcock, Ice, and LaHaye know that this is what the Holy Spirit really means when the text is clear enough without any modern-day embellishment?”5 This may surprise some, but I think DeMar is basically right in his criticism of us on this point, even though he is demonstrably wrong about so many other items he addresses in the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 and 39.”6
He goes on to write, “Instead, I have come to agree with DeMar who says: ‘A lot has to be read into the Bible in order to make Ezekiel 38 and 39 fit modern-day military realities that include jet planes, ‘missiles,’ and ‘atomic and explosive’ weaponry.’”7
This is a wonderful development. Tommy should be commended for his honesty. It’s difficult to break from a long-held theological position. Hopefully he will get others to follow his lead. While he is becoming more consistent with his claim to interpret the Bible literally, he still believes that Ezekiel is describing a future battle that will be fought with ancient weapons. How he is going to reconcile his new view with those who claim that the antichrist will use modern technology to rule the world is still a question that needs to be answered convincingly.
2. Richard Mayhue, “Jesus: A Preterist or Futurist?” Paper presented to the Evangelical Theological Society (November 1999), 19. Quoted in Green, “A Critique of Preterism,” 28.
3. Mark Hitchcock and Thomas Ice, The Truth Behind Left Behind: A Biblical View of the End Times (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Press, 2004), 47.
4. Gary DeMar, “Ezekiel’s Magog Invasion: Future or Fulfilled?” Biblical Worldview Magazine, 22:12 (December 2006), 4.
5. DeMar, “Ezekiel’s Magog Invasion,” 6. (italics original)
6. Thomas Ice, “Ezekiel 38 and 39: Part VIII.”
"For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." (Luke 21:22)
I’ve always debated with my peers about the ‘this generation shall not pass away’ part of scripture. Jesus uses this word several times in the gospels and never does it appear to mean a literal generation, but more generally refers to a group of people, or a certain kind of people.
"The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here." (Matt. 12:41)
Jesus always seemed to be using the phrase to draw attention to the then-living generation of Jews who were about to reject Him as their Messiah and crucify Him.
No he isn't.
He's referring to the generation he was talking about at that time in that discourse.
Yawn. Sorry but been there and done that so many times that debate or discussion no longer interests me.
“He’s referring to the generation he was talking about at that time in that discourse.”
You say that as if God wrote it down for you. Pray tell - share with us.
I’ve heard that the word for Generation can also mean Race.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
It’s simple bible hermeneutics.
If Jesus is discussing blessing — say in a section we call the beatitudes — then that segment of scripture is a unit.
If he’s telling the story of the prodigal son, then that story is a unit, as are its introducing and concluding verses. Within the story, there is the situation, the son in a far land, the return, and the older brother. Each of those subunits also are told with words, sentences, and structures that are appropriate to that part of the story.
Same with the Olivet Discourse.
Can you relate your use of the word "unit" to anything we find in the Bible. For example, Jesus said:
25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5)Is that a "unit", according to your usage, even though it is speaking of two different things (spiritual vs. physical resurrection)? What presuppositions are you imposing on the Olivet Discourse when you say it is a "unit"?
Many Greek words have multiple meanings depending on the context. When the phrase "this generation" (gr. genea) appears in the words of Jesus it never has the meaning of "race", e.g.,:
"But He answered and said to them, 'An evil and adulterous genea seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.'" (Matt. 12:39)
Was Jesus speaking of the Jewish people as "an evil and adulterous race"?
Context helps us understand the meaning behind the actual word used.
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. 17Jesus said to them,
That section begins prior to your quoted section and it continues afterwards.
"Coming, and now is" says already/not yet. The use of "hour" is a matter of time, and, given God's dominiion over time, does not necessarily mean "hour on a clock." (See day = thousand years)
I have no idea why you are fixated on the word “unit.”
Is it greek?????
So the meaning of the phrase could be something like, “This RACE will not pass away until these things will come to pass ...”
That actually makes it a kinda scary prophecy.
You were the one that brought it up in the context of "simple bible hermeneutics". But you failed to explain yourself, or how it relates to the discussion of genea in the context of the Olivet Discourse.
The Olivet Discourse starts off with a discussion of the destruction of the temple. It makes sense to take genea in this context as the generation that would witness that destruction. Why else would Jesus tell His listeners to "flee to the mountains" when they saw "Jerusalem surrounded by armies"? That is the context of the "unit" under consideration.
Only if you ignore the historical context of the passage, and if you also ignore how a Jewish person in the 1st century would take the words of Jesus. They understood Him to be speaking of that generation then living, and they did "flee to the mountains" when they saw "Jerusalem surrounded by armies" in AD70.
That actually makes it a kinda scary prophecy.
As always . . .
my briefest . . . most studied response continues to be . . .
Yeah, it is if you are a Reformed Theologian following in the footsteps of Chilton, Rushdoony et al. Their racist anti-Semitic theology is the basis for much of the discussion here it seems.
I’m not a Dispensationalist, I’m a Historic Premillennialist, but I’m also an expert on Reconstructionist eschatology. You want to debate these guys, ask me for info.