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PLATONISMíS INFLUENCE ON CHRISTIAN ESCHATOLOGY
Theological Studies ^ | Michael J. Vlach, Ph.D

Posted on 07/24/2012 4:50:47 PM PDT by wmfights

IMPACT OF PLATONISM ON ESCHATOLOGY

Randy Alcorn has specifically addressed the impact of Platonism on Christian eschatology. In doing so he has coined the term, Christoplatonism. As the title suggests, Christoplatonism is a philosophy that “has blended elements of Platonism with Christianity.”46 But as he points out, this merger is not a good thing since this mixture of Platonism with Christianity “has poisoned Christianity and blunted its distinct differences from Eastern religions.”47 According to Alcorn, Christoplatonism’s pervasive influence

41 Blaising, “Premillennialism,” 162. 42 Russell D. Moore, “Personal and Cosmic Eschatology,” in A Theology for the Church, ed. Daniel L. Akin (Nashville: B&H, 2007), 912. 43 Ibid., 859. 44 Blaising, “Premillennialism,” 164. 45 Ibid. 46 Alcorn, Heaven, 475. 47 Ibid.

has caused many Christians to resist the following biblical truths: bodily resurrection of the dead; life on the New Earth; eating and drinking in Heaven; walking and talking in Heaven; living in dwelling places; traveling down streets; going through gates from one place to another; ruling; working; playing; and engaging in earthly culture.48 Christoplatonism is also evident when the following beliefs are held:

1. Belief that our eternal dwelling place is in a spiritual dimension and not on earth.

2. Belief that planet earth is basically evil and is beyond restoration.

3. Belief that heaven is entirely beyond human comprehension.

4. Belief that our experience in eternity will be mostly that of spiritual contemplation and inactivity.

5. Belief that there is no time or linear progression of history.

6. Belief that there will be no nations or governments.

Alcorn believes that Christoplatonism has had “a devastating effect on our ability to understand what Scripture says about Heaven, particularly about the eternal Heaven, the New Earth.”49 He cites a statistic from Time to support this in which two-thirds of Americans who believe in resurrection of the dead do not believe they will have resurrected bodies.50

According to Alcorn, prevailing ideas of Platonism imposed on eschatology rob Christians of their hope. “The human heart cries out for answers about the afterlife,” but the answers are not being given, he claims.51 Many Christians are led to believe, as John Eldredge has pointed out, that “eternity is an unending church service,” a “never-ending sing-along in the sky.”52 Trying to long for an eternity that is primarily spiritual does not offer real hope. Alcorn states, “Trying to develop an appetite for a disembodied existence in a non-physical Heaven is like trying to develop an appetite for gravel. No matter how sincere we are, and no matter how hard we try, it’s not going to work. Nor should it.”53

Alcorn claims that this misunderstanding about the nature of Heaven has its roots in Satan. “Satan need not convince us that Heaven doesn’t exist. He need only convince us that Heaven is a place of boring, unearthly existence. If we believe that lie, we’ll be robbed of our joy and anticipation.”54 Alcorn mentions that in his research he collected more than 150 books on Heaven, both old and new. “One thing I’ve found is that books about Heaven are notorious for saying we can’t know what Heaven is like, but it will be

48 Alcorn, Heaven, 476. 49 Ibid., 52. 50 Ibid., 112. 51 Ibid., xiii. 52 John Eldredge, The Journey of Desire: Searching for the Life We’ve Only Dreamed of (Nashville: Nelson, 2000), 111. 53 Alcorn, Heaven, 7. 54 Ibid., 11.

more wonderful than we can imagine,” he says.55 “However, the moment we say that we can’t imagine Heaven, we dump cold water on all that God has revealed to us about our eternal home. If we can’t envision it, we can’t look forward to it. If Heaven is unimaginable, why even try?”56

PLATONISM AND MILLENNIAL VIEWS

How does discussion concerning Platonism’s influence on Christian eschatology relate to the millennial views of premillennialism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism? Is there an inherent connection between Platonism and a specific millennial view(s)? Is premillennialism inherently in accord with a new creation model while amillennialism and postmillennialism are intrinsically linked to the spiritual vision model?

These issues were directly brought up by Craig Blaising in his section, “Premillennialism” in the book, Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond.57 Here Blaising specifically argued that non-premillennial views influenced by Augustine are heavily reliant on the spiritual vision model while premillennialism is more consistent with the new creation model. Blaising argues that a Platonic, spiritual vision model approach led to a rejection of the idea of an earthly kingdom:

Ancient Christian premillennialism weakened to the point of disappearance when the spiritual vision model of eternity became dominant in the church. A future kingdom on earth simply did not fit well in an eschatology that stressed personal ascent to a spiritual realm.58

Blaising claims that spiritual vision model presuppositions were behind Augustine’s turning from premillennialism to amillennialism and the view that the millennium of Revelation 20:1-10 is being fulfilled spiritually through the institutional church in the present age.59 On the other hand, premillennialism thrives in an environment in which the new creation model and a more literal approach to Scripture are emphasized. As a result, kingdom promises are taken more literally and the physical dimensions of the kingdom are emphasized.

Robert E. Strimple, a representative of amillennialism in the same book, Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, disagrees with Blaising that amillennialism is inherently linked to the spiritual vision model. He also challenges Blaising’s idea that premillennialism is necessarily linked to the new creation model. In his response to Blaising, Strimple asks, “What evidence does he [Blaising] offer, for example, to support

55 Alcorn, Heaven, 17. 56 Ibid., 17. 57 Blaising, “Premillennialism” 170–74. 58 Ibid., 170. 59 Ibid., 172-74.

the alleged link between early amillennial thought and Greek philosophical dualism?”60 Strimple says, “no evidence is offered to support the idea that such a bias is present in modern amillennialism.”61 He also declares: “When we read modern amillennialists themselves, do we find them expressing a purely ‘spiritual’ (i.e. nonphysical) eschatological hope? Not at all.”62 He then lists a series of amillennial theologians who believe in a “more earth-oriented vision” of eschatology including Herman Bavnick, Geerhardus Vos, Anthony Hoekema, and Greg K. Beale.63

Strimple then offers a second response to Blaising in claiming that earlier dispensational premillennialists like Darby, Scofield, and Chafer often drew heavily upon the spiritual vision model, as even Blaising admits. Thus, “the fact remains that historically the link between the new creation model and premillennialism has not been as clear and strong as his thesis implies.”64 As the above quotations show, the issue of the millennium and models of Christian eschatology is one in which there is some disagreement. We will return to this topic in the observations made below.

OBSERVATIONS

So far this article has focused on some current thinking regarding Platonism and its relationship to Christian eschatology. At this point this author will make some observations on this topic of Platonism and Christian eschatology. These observations are drawn partly from the research mentioned above and from opinions and insights that this author has come to from his research on this topic.

First, from a historical perspective, it appears that the church in its earliest years held a view of eschatology consistent with the new creation model, but it was not long before the church shifted to the spiritual vision approach. As Snyder observes, the earliest Christians viewed the kingdom of God primarily as a future hope. The kingdom is “pointed beyond this life to something more ultimate and complete—not mere spiritual survival only but a final cosmic reconciliation.”65 This future kingdom was viewed as “final cosmic reconciliation itself or as a millennial reign preceding the ultimate summation of all things.”66 The primary image for these Christians was “a new heaven and a new earth.”67

60 Strimple, “An Amillennial Response to Craig A. Blaising,” in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, 257. 61 Ibid., 258-59. 62 Ibid., 259. 63 Ibid., 259–60. 64 Ibid., 261. 65 Snyder, Models of the Kingdom, 25. 66 Ibid. 67 Ibid.

The coming of this anticipated kingdom for the early Christians was not just the end of history or the giving of rewards—it was “a cosmic reconciliation” and “a final settling of the score regarding all evils and injustices of history.”68 The eschatology of the early church involved a “new creation” and something “greater or more glorious that the state of the cosmos before the Fall.”69 This eschatology was also largely pessimistic about the fallen and ruined world that could only be redeemed by the second coming of Christ.70

This new creation approach of the earliest Christians soon changed, though. According to Benedict T. Viviano, as the Gospel spread throughout the Roman Empire the hope of Christian eschatology changed: “The main loss was of the apocalyptic dimension of Christian hope. The dual hope of the Christian, the kingdom of God and resurrection of the dead, (or at least of the saints), was reduced to the resurrection of the individual to eternal life in heaven. The social and the this worldly historical dimensions of hope were lost.”71 This was largely due to the “Hellenistic philosophical mind” that “was primarily interested in the universal, the necessary, the eternal” and “Plato’s mathematical bias.”72 As a result, a specific purpose for history was undermined.

Second, the shift to a spiritual vision approach to eschatology is tied largely to Platonic influence. As discussed above, Platonic assumptions clearly influenced early Christian leaders such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Augustine. It appears that Platonic and Neo-Platonic influences steered many Christians from a literal understanding of Bible passages in the attempt to make Christianity more acceptable to the Greek mind. Thus, we believe it is valid to conclude that Platonism has affected how many Christians viewed eschatology.

In making this observation, though, one point of clarification is necessary. The influence of Platonism on Christian eschatology was partial and not entire. With the possible exception of Origen, the theologians of the Alexandrian tradition and Augustine still looked for the resurrection of the body. Thus, while there may have been a heavy emphasis on a spiritualized view of the kingdom this did not rule out entirely the hope for resurrection or even the triumph of Christ over the earth. McGrath points out that Augustine’s concept of Heaven “involves the restoration of the conditions of this earthly paradise.”73

Third, while Platonism was a major factor in the acceptance of the spiritual vision model, various Scripture passages were also used to support this spiritual vision approach. Snyder points out that the following verses were emphasized:

68 Snyder, Models of the Kingdom, 26. 69 Ibid. 70 Ibid. 71 Viviano, The Kingdom of God in History, 38. 72 Ibid. 73 McGrath, A Brief History of Heaven, 52.

 Luke 17:21: “The kingdom of God is within you.”

 Romans 14:17: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

 1 Corinthians 15:50: “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”

 2 Peter 1:4: “partakers in the divine nature.”

 Colossians 1:27: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).74

With a spiritual approach to the kingdom, according to Synder, “the true participants in the kingdom are those Christians who go on to perfection in their inner experience of God. The final goal of the kingdom is absorption of all things into God.”75 It is also asserted that “this model may be associated with the early rise of Monasticism in the East and especially with the Desert Fathers, such as Anthony (c. 251–356) and Macarius the Egyptian (c. 300–390).”76

Fourth, the spiritual vision model has been the predominant view throughout church history. As Viviano and Snyder have documented, the apocalyptic and physicallyoriented view of the kingdom was held by the early church, but this approach was followed by more spiritual understandings of the kingdom of God. This clearly was the case from the third century through the Middle Ages and up to the Reformation and beyond. According to Viviano, the people of the Middle Ages, “did not understand well the this-worldly future dimension of the kingdom of God” because of its “acute Platonizing longing for the eternal, for a place outside of time and history.”77 What was dominant during the Middle Ages was “the Augustinian transformation of the kingdom into the church. . . and. . . the imperial theology of the Christian empire as the kingdom of God on earth.”78 Viviano points to Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, and Albert of Cologne as promoters of this view. Albert, in particular relies heavily upon Plato for eschatology. As Viviano states, “His path was one of Platonizing Christian spirituality which identified the kingdom with God himself.”79 The failure of medieval theology to integrate a this-worldly eschatology “is one of its major weaknesses.”80

Fifth, the Reformation Period reopened the door to more serious contemplation of the new creation model. Blaising argues that Reformation “presented a systemic challenge to the medieval consensus of Christian thought” with implications for

74 Snyder, Models of the Kingdom, 41. 75 Ibid. 76 Ibid., 42. 77 Viviano, The Kingdom of God in History, 57. Viviano also suggests ignorance of Jewish apocalyptic and the Augustinian transformation of the kingdom into the church as reasons for a spiritualized eschatology in this age. 78 Ibid. 79 Viviano, The Kingdom of God in History, 76. 80 Ibid.

eschatology.81 “Although the Reformers themselves did not directly challenge the spiritual vision model, they did unleash powerful currents of thought that led to both the reemergence of new creation eschatology and the consideration of millennialism.”82 This is due to the Reformers rejection of allegorical interpretation and more emphasis on “the historical nature of human life.”83

Sixth, the new creation model is not the sole possession of any millennial view. This point is admittedly controversial and a nuanced answer here is needed. As mentioned earlier, Blaising made much of the argument that amillennialism is closely tied to the spiritual vision model while premillennialism is closely linked with the new creation model. Strimple strongly challenged Blaising assertions on this matter.

There are elements of truth in what both Blaising and Strimple are asserting. It is difficult to deny that Platonism and a spiritual vision model approach were influential in the church’s shift from premillennialism to amillennialism. Thus, in our view Blaising is correct that the rise of amillennialism coincided with the acceptance of the spiritual vision model. Plus, it is difficult to deny that amillennialism has often overwhelmingly emphasized the spiritual dimensions of the kingdom. Thus, in our view, it is not invalid to connect amillennialism (especially older amillennialism) with a spiritual vision approach.

Yet, Strimple makes a valid point when he asserts that amillennialists have traditionally held to a literal second coming of Jesus followed by a bodily resurrection and an historical eternal state.84 Plus, we think Strimple is correct when he points out that modern amillennialists are now stressing a restored created order in the eternal state.85 As Anthony Hoekema, an amillennialist has stated, “The Bible assures us that God will create a new earth on which we shall live to God’s praise in glorified, resurrected bodies.”86 For Hoekema this new earth includes “contributions of each nation to the life of the present earth” and “the best products of culture and art.”87 In his book, A Case for Amillennialism, Riddlebarger offers roughly one page to the topic of “Cosmic Renewal.”88 In our opinion, recent amillennialists like Hoekema and Riddlebarger have been more clear than their ancestors in emphasizing the physical aspects of eschatology. Whether amillennialists are consistent in holding to a new creation model while also affirming amillennialism is another issue. Yet since amillennialists openly affirm a new

81 Blaising, “Premillennialism,” 174. 82 Ibid. 83 Ibid., 175. 84 Strimple, “An Amillennial Response to Craig A. Blaising,” 257–59. 85 Ibid., 259. 86 Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 274. 87 Ibid., 286. 88 Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 137-38.

creation model or cosmic renewal view, it cannot be said that a new creation model is the sole possession of premillennialism.

Others affirm this finding. Snyder has argued that a “Future Kingdom” (or new creation) model of eschatology is not the sole possession of premillennialism. As he states, “It would be misleading, however, to think of the Future Kingdom model as necessarily implying millennialism, for there can be millennial and non-millennial views of the kingdom as future hope.”89 Yet we would also affirm that, in general, the new creation model is more consistent with premillennialism. As Snyder states, “Of the various millennial views, however, premillennialism seems best to fit the Future Kingdom model because of its insistence that the kingdom cannot come in fullness until the cataclysmic event of the Second Coming.”90 To summarize, one can be an amillennialist and hold to some form of a new creation model, yet premillennialism, in general, appears to have a closer connection to the new creation model. Thus, in our view, premillennialism is more consistent with a new creation model.

Randy Alcorn, who has launched the most direct attack on Platonic influence on Christian eschatology, does not believe that the rejection of Christoplatonism must make one a premillennialist. As he states, “our beliefs about the Millennium need not affect our view of the New Earth.”91 “Hence, no matter how differently we may view the Millennium, we can still embrace a common theology of the New Earth.”92

Seventh, Christian leaders should do more to teach their people about their coming eternal home and dispel myths about Heaven that are not biblical. This author agrees with Alcorn that the hope of Heaven has often been hijacked by Platonic assumptions. Far too many Christians assume that their existence in eternity will mostly be that of a spiritual entity in a non-spiritual realm. God intentionally made humans as a complex unity of the material (body) and non-material (spirit). Humans can no more long for a purely spiritual existence than a fish could long to live only on land. It is this author’s belief that instruction on our eternal home will bring even more hope to the people of God.

Eighth, much work needs to be done in thinking through the theological implications of a new creation model. With a few exceptions, not much has been written on the implications of a new creation model of eternity. This may partly be because Christians are often hesitant to speculate on what eternity will look like. But we think there are important theological implications of a new creation model that need to be worked out.

For example, what does a consistent new creation model mean for traditional amillennialism and covenant theology? A new creation model is very physical,93 but

89 Snyder, Models of the Kingdom, 35. 90 Ibid. 91 Alcorn, Heaven, 146. 92 Ibid. Alcorn himself is a premillennialist. 93 We are not saying the new earth is only physical. There is a spiritual element. This is a both/and scenario.

amillennialism and covenant theology have often heavily emphasized a spiritual eschatology in which physical and national entities have been “Christified” and/or “typified.” According to Strimple, the concepts of the land of Canaan, the city of Jerusalem, the temple, the sacrifices, the throne of David, and even the people of Israel, were all “typological images” that found fulfillment in Jesus Christ.94 Now that the reality—Jesus Christ—has been introduced, “the shadow passes away” never to be restored again.95 Waltke, too, asserts that many Old Testament symbols have found a spiritual fulfillment in Christ:

With the transformation of Christ’s body from an earthly physical body to a heavenly spiritual body, and with his ascension from the earthly realism to the heavenly Jerusalem with its heavenly throne and the outpouring of his Holy Spirit, the earthly material symbols were done away and the spiritual reality portrayed by the symbols superseded the shadows.96

However, can such a heavy spiritualization of eschatological themes remain under a new creation model approach? Waltke claims that “the kingdom’s character is ‘heavenly’ and ‘spiritual,’ not ‘earthly’ and “political.’”97 But can such a statement be reconciled with a new creation model? Does not this statement reveal a false dichotomy that smacks more of Platonism than biblical truth? Strimple claims that amillennialism is consistent with the idea of a restored creation,98 but is this assertion consistent with his previous declarations that matters like land and Israel are transcended by greater spiritual realities in the New Testament?99 How can amillennialists consistently believe in a coming physical new earth while also holding that the eschatological hope of the Old Testament has been transcended in spiritual and typological ways? Much of the biblical data that discusses physical aspects of the coming kingdom is found in the Old Testament. Plus, it should be remembered that new creation model passages like Revelation 21 and 22 rely much on Old Testament passages like Isaiah 60, 65, and 66. In our view, it appears that New Testament eschatology often assumes and relies upon Old Testament eschatology more so than it transcends it.100

To be clear, amillennialists like Hoekema and Riddlebarger have affirmed a cosmic renewal idea that has much in common with a new creation model. This is not in dispute. But in doing so are they being inherently contradictory? Also, are their views consistent with those of older amillennialists who heavily emphasized a spiritualized eschatology?

94 Strimple, “Amillennialism,” in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, 85. 95 Ibid., 86. 96 Bruce Waltke, “Kingdom Promises as Spiritual,” in Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Testaments (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1988), 282. 97 Ibid., 270. 98 Strimple, “Amillennialism,” 259. 99 See Ibid., 85–86. 100 The prophecies of Daniel 9 appear literally referred to in Matthew 24:15–21 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3–4.

Another issue needs to be addressed. For amillennialists and covenant theologians who affirm some form of cosmic renewal or new creation model, what does this mean for their view of nations in general and Israel as a nation in particular? A new creation model emphasizes the continuing importance of nations and kings into the eternal state (see Rev. 21:24). The mention of “kings” shows that the concept of “nations” includes more than just the general idea of saved people.101 These are literal nations with specific geographic boundaries. As an amillennialist, Hoekema stated that there will be multiple nations (“each nation”102) on the new earth. But if one recognizes that there are nations in eternity with specific roles and identities, why couldn’t there be a special role and identity for the nation Israel? If we grant that nations exist in God’s future plans, then why should we have a problem with Israel having a special role in the future? In response to Hoekema’s declaration concerning the presence of nations and culture on the new earth, Barry Horner points out that “the mention of distinctive national contributions . . . would surely have to include the cultural benefactions of Israel!”103 Horner’s point is well taken. If there are nations on the new earth, why would Israel not be one of these nations contributing to the new order? Plus, it does not appear that God’s purpose is to make every believer a part of Israel as amillennialists and covenant theologians often claim. The presence of nations (plural) argues against the idea that God’s intent is to make everybody “Israel.”

Premillennialists have issues to address as well. It appears that premillennialists often stress a new creation approach to the coming earthly millennium, but often they appear to drift toward a spiritual vision approach to the eternal state or refuse to specifically address the eternal state. Very few, if any, books from a premillennial or dispensational premillennial viewpoint actually address the eternal state with much depth. There is very little discussion of the social, political, economic, agricultural, geographical, and other physical dimensions of the eternal state. For example, in his fine work, Systematic Theology,104 Robert Duncan Culver spends 1156 pages addressing all the major categories of theology, but devotes just three pages to his final chapter, “The Future Eternal State.”105 Culver states, “I find myself now, after a long life of reflecting on the biblical materials, very reluctant to say much about the eternity to come. It seems presumptuous to do so.”106 Culver’s approach appears typical of many works from a premillennial perspective, and one must appreciate his humility in not speaking on matters of which he is not comfortable. But as Alcorn’s 492-page treatise on Heaven and

101 Like Rev. 21:24, Rev. 19:19 mentions “kings of the earth” in regard to “armies assembled.” These are armies in which kings of nations are the rulers. 102 Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 286. 103 Barry E. Horner, Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2007), 217. 104 Robert Duncan Culver, Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 2005). 105 Culver, Systematic Theology, 1153–56. 106 Ibid., 1154.

eternity indicates, there is much to discuss about eternity.107 In addition to Revelation 21– 22, there are passages such as Isaiah 60–66 which appear to have major implications for the eternal state. Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22 make specific mention of the coming “new heavens and a new earth.” Plus, Revelation 21–22 relies heavily on Isaiah 60–66. In our view, there is significant material for study on the eternal state.

Also, it would be helpful to see premillennialists do more to harmonize the references to the new heavens and new earth in Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22 with their New Testament counterparts in 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1. The reference to new heavens and new earth in Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22 appear to refer to millennial conditions since there is a presence of the curse, sin, death, and childbirth (65:20–23). But Revelation 21:1 appears to place the “new heaven and new earth” after the millennium of Revelation 20 in an era in which there is no longer any curse (Rev. 22:3). Premillennialists, thus, need to address whether the millennium is part of the new heavens and new earth, perhaps a ‘phase one’ of the new earth. Plus they need to address the continuities and discontinuities between the millennium and the eternal state.

Another issue that needs more study is the timing of the burning up of the heavens and earth as described in 2 Peter 3:10–12. The traditional view is that this event takes place after the millennium in preparation for the eternal state. But if the millennium is included in the “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21), and is part of what the groaning creation has been longing for (see Rom. 8:18–23) why would God destroy the earth that is currently being renovated and renewed? Both views of a destruction before the millennium and a destruction after the millennium have their strengths and weaknesses, but it would be good to see more attention given to this matter. In addition, work needs to be done on whether the coming new earth is a renewal of the present planet or an entirely new earth.108

Clearly, there is a need for much further study of the new creation model and its implications. But as we conclude, there is one final point to be made on this issue. For many Christians, eschatology has often become a difficult and confusing issue. While many are perplexed or turned off by debates over the millennium and the rapture, the topic of the eternal state is one which all Bible believing Christians should be able to agree and rally upon. Let the debates concerning eschatological issues rightly continue, but as we debate these important issues, let us not neglect the hope of our future eternal home. Regardless of one’s rapture or millennial view, there should be agreement that our final home will be on a restored earth in which righteousness dwells and our fellowship is with our God and the people who love Him. “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).

107 Whether one agrees or disagrees with Alcorn’s views, Alcorn has shown that information concerning the new earth is not as scant as many have been led to believe. 108 For a helpful discussion of this issue see Douglas J. Moo, 2 Peter, Jude in The NIV Application Commentary, ed. Terry Muck (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 196–205).


TOPICS: Charismatic Christian; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: amillennialism; christianity; eschatology; millennium; plato; platonism; postmillennialism; premillennialism; supersessionism
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For amillennialists and covenant theologians who affirm some form of cosmic renewal or new creation model, what does this mean for their view of nations in general and Israel as a nation in particular? A new creation model emphasizes the continuing importance of nations and kings into the eternal state (see Rev. 21:24).

it does not appear that God’s purpose is to make every believer a part of Israel as amillennialists and covenant theologians often claim. The presence of nations (plural) argues against the idea that God’s intent is to make everybody “Israel.”

1 posted on 07/24/2012 4:50:52 PM PDT by wmfights
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To: wmfights

So then....there’s beer?


2 posted on 07/24/2012 4:55:36 PM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: Alamo-Girl; Amityschild; AngieGal; AnimalLover; Ann de IL; aposiopetic; aragorn; auggy; ...
Ping

This is the 2nd part of the article I started posting on Sunday. I italized the footnotes for those that would like to look at the sources used.

FWIW, I thought this article was very even handed and did a great job in pointing out the shortcomings of the Spirit Vision Model and Amillennialism.

3 posted on 07/24/2012 4:56:36 PM PDT by wmfights
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To: Larry Lucido
You might want to read the article, but in answer to your question why not. If we are in physical form and walk and talk why wouldn't we eat and drink. If you remember Scripture Jesus ate and drank in his resurrected body.
4 posted on 07/24/2012 5:05:25 PM PDT by wmfights
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To: Larry Lucido

In the Eternal Kingdom of God all good things are.


5 posted on 07/24/2012 5:08:17 PM PDT by AceMineral (Will work for money.)
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To: wmfights

bump for a later read. Preterism, anyone?


6 posted on 07/24/2012 5:35:56 PM PDT by SoFloFreeper
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To: wmfights

When Obama died, George Washington met him at the Pearly Gates. He slapped him across the face and yelled, “How dare you try to destroy the Nation I helped conceive?”

Patrick Henry approached, punched him in the nose and shouted, “You wanted to end our liberties but you failed.”
James Madison followed, kicked him in the groin and said, “This is why I allowed our government to provide for the common defense!”

Thomas Jefferson was next, beat Obama with a long cane and snarled, “It was evil men like you who inspired me to write the Declaration of Independence.”
The beatings and thrashings continued as George Mason, James Monroe and 66 other early Americans unleashed their anger on the radical, socialist leader.
As Obama lay bleeding and in pain, an Angel appeared. Obama wept and Said, “This is not what you promised me.”

The Angel replied, “I told you there would be 72 VIRGINIANS waiting for you in Heaven. What did you think I said?”.....”You really need to listen when someone is trying to tell you something!”


7 posted on 07/24/2012 4:12:47 PM PDT by spankalib (The downside of liberty is the need to tolerate those who despise it.)
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To: Larry Lucido; wmfights
So then....there’s beer?

You know, keep this up, I could convert .... Just sayin'.

I think that both Plato and Plotinus would complain a little about the way this writer characterizes their thought. Plotinus, in fact, wrote a tractate "Against the Gnostics" -- which I read in 1967, on my own toot!

His principle beef with the Gnostics (whom we consider heretics but he may have thought as typical Xtians) was that they thought the material world was evil. He disagreed.

You know, Dominic, the founder of my order, was motivated in the early 13th century by Albigensians who also thought the created world was evil (or so we are told). They were anti-marriage and, in extreme cases, anti eating! (Beer would have been out of the question -- so clearly they're wrong.)

I'm suspecting the writer of this article wouldn't think much of Dominic or of Thomas Aquinas, the theological shining star of the Order of Preachers. But we were founded, you might almost say, to affirm the goodness of all God's acts, including creation.

So the matter is nuanced.

I'm struggling through preparing my tax return now, Gawd 'elp me, but maybe later an interesting rabbit-hole to disappear down would be the meaning and role of the vision of God in Scripture and our differing views.

And, Mr. Lucido, there are members of certain orders who carry out the Lenten discipline by consuming nothing but beer. Again, just sayin'.

If I were rich enough to have a chauffeur I would definitely give it a try some Lent.

8 posted on 07/24/2012 5:04:56 PM PDT by Mad Dawg (Depone serpentem et ab veneno gradere.)
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To: Larry Lucido
So then....there’s beer?

There are many things we want to know about the age to come that Jesus, John, Paul et al did not seem to think was anything we needed to know.

9 posted on 07/24/2012 6:39:36 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea." Isaiah 27:1)
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To: Mad Dawg
wouldn't think much of Dominic or of Thomas Aquinas

Wasn't Aquinas more of an Aristotlean than Platonist?

Perhaps the author would favor him.

10 posted on 07/24/2012 8:33:31 PM PDT by what's up
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To: wmfights

Thanks for the ping!


11 posted on 07/24/2012 9:01:39 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
PLATONISM’S INFLUENCE ON CHRISTIAN ESCHATOLOGY

We should probably be more worried about Manichaean influence on Christian theology via Augustine via Calvin.
12 posted on 07/24/2012 9:08:16 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: aruanan

It would be interesting to discuss Manichaean beliefs and influence generally.


13 posted on 07/24/2012 9:36:21 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: aruanan

Platonists should probably be more worried about Christ’s influence on eschatology.


14 posted on 07/24/2012 10:19:56 PM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
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To: what's up

Mos’ def! I really don’t think Plato has all that much influence in the west.

But I think the author would find our emphasis on the Beatific Vision excessive and too ahistorical etc.


15 posted on 07/24/2012 10:52:47 PM PDT by Mad Dawg (Depone serpentem et ab veneno gradere.)
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To: wmfights

Here’s a brief description of Eschatology you can believe,
It’s going to happen, every day the world is closer to the second Pentecost (Great Warning), Heaven’s repeated it is “soon.” First, Our Lord’s mother’s words to Father Gobbi and a description of the end times and the Millennium by Father Joseph Iannuzzi.

~~ ~~ ~~

I will read to you the message of Pentecost given on June 4, 1995: “Tongues of Fire.”
“- Tongues of divine fire will bring heat and life to a humanity which has now become cold from egoism and hatred, from violence and wars. Thus the parched earth will be opened to the breath of the Spirit of God, which will transform it into a new and wondrous garden in which the Most Holy Trinity will make its permanent dwelling place among you.
- Tongues of fire will come down to enlighten and sanctify the Church, which is living through the dark hour of Calvary and being stricken in her pastors, wounded in the flock, abandoned and betrayed by her own, exposed to the impetuous wind of errors, pervaded with the loss of faith and with apostasy.

The divine fire of the Holy Spirit will heal her of every malady, will purify her of every stain and every infidelity, will clothe her again in new beauty, will cover her with his splendor, in such a way that she may be able to find again all her unity and holiness, and will thus give to the world her full, universal and perfect witness to Jesus.

Tongues of fire will come down upon you all, my poor children, so ensnared and seduced by Satan and by all the evil spirits who, during these years, have attained their greatest triumph. And thus, you will be illuminated by this divine light, and YOU WILL SEE YOUR OWN SELVES IN THE MIRROR OF THE TRUTH AND HOLINESS OF GOD. IT WILL BE LIKE A JUDGMENT IN MINIATURE, WHICH WILL OPEN THE DOOR OF YOUR HEART TO RECEIVE THE GREAT GIFT OF DIVINE MERCY...” (546d-g, “To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons”)

Fr. Iannuzzi on this “spiritual”coming of Christ-
(…)”The Son, therefore, while unique and consubstantial with the Father and the Spirit, is regarded by the author of the Book of Revelation as the protagonist of the end times who receives assistance from the other two divine Persons. And it is here where the spiritual descent of Christ comes into play. Because Christ will not descend in the flesh in human history, he will come by way of his glorified Spirit who will purge, illuminate and unify all creation. This is just one example where both the Son and the Spirit are present and active in the same operation. Intimately united with the Father, both the Son and the Spirit, in virtue of their consubstantial and collaborative effort in salvation history, will bring about the transformation and unification of creation. This process, referred to as Christ’s spiritual descent through his Spirit, is evidenced by Gregory of Nyssa and other Church Fathers’ usage of the words, ‘May your Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us’, as a substitution for the petition, ‘Your Kingdom come’ in the Lord’s prayer.” (The Triumph of God’s Kingdom in the Millennium and the End Times by Fr. Iannuzzi, p. 95)

Contrary then to the FALSE teaching of mitigated Millenarianism, which held that Jesus would rule in person in his glorified body on this earth, Jesus will reign in his Spirit in hearts, souls and wills. He will transform and sanctify all things by means of his Holy Spirit - that Spirit which emanates from the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit would not be able to carry out this transformation were it not for Christ’s redemptive act. The Spirit in Christ will perform the work of the transformation - in other words, the Holy Spirit’s mission is to apply and complete God’s plan of redemption.


16 posted on 07/25/2012 12:16:32 AM PDT by stpio (,)
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To: wmfights

Fr. Iannuzzi on this “spiritual”coming of Christ-
(…)”The Son, therefore, while unique and consubstantial with the Father and the Spirit, is regarded by the author of the Book of Revelation as the protagonist of the end times who receives assistance from the other two divine Persons. And it is here where the spiritual descent of Christ comes into play. Because Christ WILL NOT descend in the flesh in human history, he will come by way of his glorified Spirit who will purge, illuminate and unify all creation. This is just one example where both the Son and the Spirit are present and active in the same operation. Intimately united with the Father, both the Son and the Spirit, in virtue of their consubstantial and collaborative effort in salvation history, will bring about the transformation and unification of creation. This process, referred to as Christ’s spiritual descent through his Spirit, is evidenced by Gregory of Nyssa and other Church Fathers’ usage of the words, ‘May your Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us’, as a substitution for the petition, ‘Your Kingdom come’ in the Lord’s prayer.” (The Triumph of God’s Kingdom in the Millennium and the End Times by Fr. Iannuzzi, p. 95)

~~ ~~ ~~

....Our Lord’s words describing the Millennium.

The time has come (the era of peace) to exalt the Holy
Spirit in the world. I desire that this last Epoch be
consecrated in a very special way to the Holy Spirit...
It is His turn, His Epoch, it is the triumph of love in
My Church, in the whole universe.

Our Lord to Venerable Conchita de Armida (1862-1937)


17 posted on 07/25/2012 12:29:39 AM PDT by stpio (,)
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To: Alamo-Girl; aruanan

I think it is more difficult than we realize to wrap our minds (and our hearts) around monotheism. While I think that anything else is incoherent, we are pretty incoherent creatures.

Consequently, people slip into dualism a LOT, whatever we profess.


18 posted on 07/25/2012 5:09:18 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Depone serpentem et ab veneno gradere.)
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To: Cvengr
Platonists should probably be more worried about Christ’s influence on eschatology.

I get the impression that they feel that Jesus Christ wasn't qualified for the task...They certainly seem to act like they know more about eschatology than Jesus did...

19 posted on 07/25/2012 5:32:12 AM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: stpio
Contrary then to the FALSE teaching of mitigated Millenarianism, which held that Jesus would rule in person in his glorified body on this earth, Jesus will reign in his Spirit in hearts, souls and wills.

Contrary to God, eh??? Try as you might, you can not debunk the scriptures...You are leading God knows how many into the bottomless pit of outer darkness...

20 posted on 07/25/2012 5:38:24 AM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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