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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
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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To: Alamo-Girl
You're welcome!

I thought this author did a terrific job of illustrating why the Spiritual Vision Model is wrong and how various churches have fallen into this error. The more I think about our physical presence, as well as our spiritual, in God's new creation the more excited I become.

I thought this comment was particularly poignant:

“Satan need not convince us that Heaven doesn’t exist. He need only convince us that Heaven is a place of boring, unearthly existence.

21 posted on 07/25/2012 6:26:12 AM PDT by wmfights
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To: stpio
‘May your Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us’, as a substitution for the petition, ‘Your Kingdom come’ in the Lord’s prayer.”

Sorry, your false religion nor any religion will be substituting anything God has revealed to us in the scriptures...

22 posted on 07/25/2012 7:54:34 AM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: Iscool
Sorry, your false religion nor any religion will be substituting anything God has revealed to us in the scriptures...

God Bless you Brother!

What I found so interesting in studying these different views of eschatology is how they view Scripture. The allegorical method has so twisted itself into knots that they can't see the forest for the trees. If the Kingdom isn't physical, why did Jesus Christ return in a resurrected body and why did He eat and drink with His disciples?

It's comforting to learn that the literal interpretation of Scripture and belief in Premillenialism is not new and was the dominant belief in the Apostolic Era and the generations immediately following.

23 posted on 07/25/2012 9:10:01 AM PDT by wmfights
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To: Mad Dawg; aruanan; wmfights; betty boop
We truly could benefit from another thread on the subject of Dualism per se.

aruanan brings up theological dualism (Manichaean, good and evil) and you bring up philosophical dualism (mind-body problem, et al) - of which, there are many forms and arguments for and against.

I find myself in disagreement both with the above article and the critics of philosophical dualism on both Scriptural grounds and the grounds of mathematics and physics.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. - Matt 10:28

Indeed, radical Platonism (Tegmark's Level IV parallel universe) is the only closed physical cosmology known to me - i.e. that things "in" space/time are manifestations of mathematical constructs which actually do exist outside of space and time.

All other physical cosmologies (multi-verse, multi-world, imaginary time, ekpyrotic, etc.) fail for their inability to explain the beginning of real space and real time: in the absence of space, things cannot exist; in the absence of time, events cannot occur; both space and time are required for physical causation.

There is also the issue that since the 1960's forward, cosmic microwave background measurements agree that space/time does not pre-exist but is created as the universe expands. That is the most theological statement ever to come out of modern science, i.e. that there was a beginning of space/time - "In the beginning, God created..."

Indeed, the whole concept of linear time, which the author of the article posits as truth, is observer dependent. Or to put it another way, that we mortal observers sense time as an arrow, linear and moving in one direction does not mean ipso facto that additional dimensions of time (Wesson, Vafa) do not exist or that God is in anyway constrained by "time."

In other words, space/time is part of the Creation not a property or restriction on the Creator of it.

Finally, as a personal testimony, I have observed the separating of the spirit from the body in physical death. In both my mother and sister's passing - as they slipped into the final coma - I felt them both passing through me, comforting me, assuring me that they were very much alive and happy.

And I was with my husband scuba diving when he passed diving in the "emerald sea" as it is called off the coast of Panama City, Florida. The water is greenish there and as the diver descends it turns an ever-deepening blue. He had fallen back to 75 feet of water and as I approached him the area immediately surrounding him was bright and yellowish, as if a spotlight were shining on him. I'm certain the light was his spirit separating from his body. And I'm certain that God mercifully let me see this to comfort me as he was calling him home.

I am not alone in this testimony as many children have also spoken of such a separation of their soul and body during their near death experiences. We might expect adults to conjure stories whether intentional or not - but children having similar experiences defies such reasoning.

God's Name is I AM.

24 posted on 07/25/2012 9:20:16 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: wmfights
It's comforting to learn that the literal interpretation of Scripture and belief in Premillenialism is not new and was the dominant belief in the Apostolic Era and the generations immediately following.

Amen to that...

I can't believe these apparent 'leaders' in their religion bring forth news of their ghosts and seers who have supernatural knowledge that debunks and changes the God breathed words given to His church...

Those revelations are not from God and I'm sure the ones pushing the agenda know they are not from the God of Creation...

Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

25 posted on 07/25/2012 9:49:59 AM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: Alamo-Girl; Mad Dawg; aruanan; wmfights; TXnMA; stpio
I find myself in disagreement both with the above article and the critics of philosophical dualism on both Scriptural grounds and the grounds of mathematics and physics.

I also disagree, on precisely the grounds you name.

It seems to me that the created universe is shot through with "dualisms," the most significant represented by man himself, who was created "dualistically" as a synergistic enterprise of both body (organized matter) and soul (spirit).

Dualism is only a problem if one is chained to Aristotle's Third Law, the Law of the Excluded Middle. Under this law, there are only two possible answers to any question: True or False.

Which in the present case means that either the premillenialists or the amillenialists are "right." The Third Law forces us to choose: For only ONE of these views can be "true." Which means the other is "false."

But I think BOTH are "true" as far as they go.

Quantum theory has introduced a third possibility: Entities thought to be in irreconcilable opposition to one another are actually, naturally complementarities: They need one another in order to describe the fulness of possibilities playing out in the Creation. The observer chooses to see one or the other, because of the limitations of the human mind. But because the observer may choose to focus on "body" doesn't render "spirit" a nullity. It is only held in abeyance in the particular observation.

The point is, as Niels Bohr pointed out, particle and wave are different views of the same system. The observer chooses which of the dynamical partners he wishes to observe. Focusing on one does not extinguish the other; it only holds the other partner in abeyance for the duration of the observation.

Thus the Law of the Excluded Middle — so cherished in science (which is primed to answer true/false questions)— is the wrong tool for understanding such dynamics.

It's not a question of which is "right" and which is "wrong." It's a question of BOTH being right.

And thank God for that! For how could we imagine a man who is "all body and no soul," or vice versa? God created man as a dynamic, synergistic compendium of BOTH body and spirit.

And the Incarnation of Christ should remove all doubt on that question.

My favorite statement extracted from the posted article was Culver's: “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.”

Presumptuous, indeed! As if any finite human mind can compass the unlimited (infinite) Mind of God, and compress such findings into human language and call it "Truth."

But of course, I am also keenly aware that what man most wants and needs is "certainty," especially about his post-death future. But the fact is, this is precisely the sort of information he cannot have so long as he dwells in a mortal body.

And that is where pure Faith can save us.

Just some thoughts, dearest sister in Christ! Thank you ever so much for your outstanding essay/post!

p.s.: I would so much love to explore another "false dichotomy": The much bruited about "war" between Plato and Aristotle. [Aided and abetted by Ayn Rand in recent times.] The ONLY difference between these two guys, when you boil it all down, is one said that "form" was transcendent to the body, while the other said that "form" was immanent to the body. (E.g., DNA. So Aristotle was right. Or was he? For he leaves unanswered the question: "Whence came the DNA?" What is the Source of ITS order?)

But it seems Plato and Aristotle mainly agreed about just about everything else. Which I suppose might be the result of a 27-year friendship and collaboration between the two men....

26 posted on 07/25/2012 5:41:35 PM PDT by betty boop (We are led to believe a lie when we see with, and not through the eye. ¬ó William Blake)
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To: Alamo-Girl; betty boop
Y'all! Not counting Hegel and Heidegger -- okay, and a few popes -- I haven't read anybody who wrote after the 14th century! And I'm working backwards! After I get done enjoying Ephrem the Syrian I'm thinking of Boethius.

I want to say (whether rightly or wrongly I don't know) that the problem of monotheism is theological, spiritual, intellectual, and psychological (since our psyches are fallen, after all.) So it's bound, as I see it, to show up in heresies and errors.

So, despite the disparaging remarks of this writer, I admire Plotinus because he stuck to his neo-Platonism with rigor and contended with dualistic gnosticism, pagan philosopher though he was.

It always strikes me as funny that the colors of my order are black and white, but Dominicans are very refined and nice in their perceptions of shades of gray.

I like to say (with an eye to Chinese Buddhism) about humankind and creation, "Not good, not bad, both good and bad, neither good nor bad ...but FALLEN -- but in their origin and destiny (as offered, though some will despise it) very good, as God himself said."

27 posted on 07/25/2012 8:20:07 PM PDT by Mad Dawg (Depone serpentem et ab veneno gradere.)
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To: betty boop; Mad Dawg; aruanan; wmfights; TXnMA; stpio
Thank you oh so very much for your outstanding essay-post, dearest sister in Christ!

Truly, we mere mortals get caught up all the time with false dichotomies.

You mentioned wave-particle duality as the classic example in physics. Excellent choice!

And theology is not exempt either, as in the predestination v free will debates - as if God could not do both. (And I do hope not to derail the conversation with that remark.)

Indeed, most people I believe would acknowledge that a man is greater than the sum of his parts. While we are cutting the man down into his components, he dies. And we cannot put him back together again.

I would also love to see a discussion on the great Plato v Aristotle debate on forms. I think it would add a lot to the discussion of dualism.

Plato, for instance, would have said that pi exists and the geometer came along and found it. Aristotle, on the other hand, would say the geometer created pi to describe what he saw.

I am very Platonist in my math and physics.

Indeed, I aver the "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences" (Wigner) is like God's copyright notice on the cosmos.

God's Name is I AM.

28 posted on 07/25/2012 8:54:04 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Mad Dawg; betty boop
Thank you for sharing your insights, dear brother in Christ!

I like to say (with an eye to Chinese Buddhism) about humankind and creation, "Not good, not bad, both good and bad, neither good nor bad ...but FALLEN -- but in their origin and destiny (as offered, though some will despise it) very good, as God himself said."

I do not get involved in the theological debates over the origin of evil vis-a-vis God the Creator being Good.

After all, God intentionally put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the midst of the Garden of Eden.

And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. - Gen 2:9

Indeed, it seems to me that a person cannot truly appreciate light if he had never seen darkness, good if he had never seen evil, courage/fear, joy/sorrow and so on. And I truly believe our time here on earth is like a base camp for eternity – that we learn more and better through such contrasts ... dare I call them "dualities?"

The LORD hath made all [things] for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. – Proverbs 16:4

God's Name is I AM.

29 posted on 07/25/2012 9:08:49 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl

I wasn’t addressing origins but rather proposing a Biblical term which affirms the “Very good” of Genesis while avoiding simple dualism and addressing the evil we see within and without.


30 posted on 07/26/2012 5:21:28 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Depone serpentem et ab veneno gradere.)
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To: Mad Dawg; betty boop; aruanan
I answered that way because you contrasted "Fallen" with "Very Good" in their origin and destiny:

I like to say (with an eye to Chinese Buddhism) about humankind and creation, "Not good, not bad, both good and bad, neither good nor bad ...but FALLEN -- but in their origin and destiny (as offered, though some will despise it) very good, as God himself said."

I'm certain God had His reasons for creating Satan who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.

And no doubt it has to do with His justice and therefore, Satan's destiny.

Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. - Jude:9-10

Bottom line, this present Creation is infused with duality as betty boop says - including good/evil (which brings us back to aruanan's point about Manichaean duality.)

The new heaven and earth, the "Final Cause," will have none of the evil:

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. - Rev 21:1-8

Therefore I am certain that all of it - including the present evil - works together for the good according to God's will and timing.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected [the same] in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only [they], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, [to wit], the redemption of our body...

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. - Romans 8:18-23 and 28-30

God's Name is I AM.

31 posted on 07/26/2012 7:36:30 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl

But I also contrasted it with bad.


32 posted on 07/26/2012 8:51:04 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Depone serpentem et ab veneno gradere.)
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To: Alamo-Girl; Mad Dawg; aruanan; wmfights; TXnMA; stpio
I would also love to see a discussion on the great Plato v Aristotle debate on forms. I think it would add a lot to the discussion of dualism.

Okay, dearest sister in Christ, please do feel free to "twist my arm!" :^)

This is a huge topic. Must start somewhere, just to get the ball rolling....

For openers, I do not believe that there was any huge "debate" between Plato and Aristotle, in the sense that the two men fundamentally disagreed WRT the ultimate nature of the Universe.

We must start with Plato — Aristotle's teacher, and later long-time associate and colleague:

God, purposing to make the universe most nearly like the every way perfect and fairest of intelligible beings, created one visible living being, containing within itself all living beings of the same natural order.

Thus does Plato (d. 347 B.C.) succinctly describe how all that exists is the creation of a creator God "beyond" the cosmos. At Timaeus 20, he goes on to say:

“There exists: first, the unchanging form, uncreated and indestructible, admitting no modification and entering no combination [i.e., Being, God Creator]… second, that which bears the same name as the form and resembles it [i.e., Becoming, the created things] … and third, space which is eternal and indestructible, which provides a position for everything that comes to be [the matrix of the becoming of the created things].”

And thus we find a description of the universe in which Being and Existence (Becoming) — the one God and the multiplicity of things — are bound together as a single living reality whose extension is mediated by Space (which for us moderns implicates Time).

Thus the ultimate duality in the Universe is eternal Being (God) and finite, contingent Becoming (the created existent things).

It is clear that for Plato, God is the “Beyond” of the universe, or in other words, utterly transcendent, perfectly self-subsistent Being, the “uncaused cause” of all the multiplicity of existents in the universe. In yet other words we can say that, for Plato, the cosmos is a theophany, a manifestation or “presence” of the divine Idea — in Christian parlance, the Logos if I might draw that association — in the natural world.

The distinction between Being and Existence — or Being and Becoming — is a concept so difficult that it comes close to eluding our grasp altogether. Being is utterly beyond space and time; imperishable; entirely self-subsistent, needing nothing from outside itself in order to be complete; essential; immutable; and eternally perduring. Contrast this with the concept of existence (the realm of the becoming things), regarding which Plato asks “how can that which is never in the same state be anything?” And this is the clue to the profound difference between being and existence: The existing things of this world are mutable and transient; but they are participations in immutable, eternal (changeless) Being. That is to say, GOD.

As Plato put it,

We must in my opinion begin by distinguishing between that which always is and never becomes from that which is always becoming but never is. The one is apprehensible by intelligence with the aid of reasoning, being eternally the same, the other is the object of opinion and irrational sensation, coming to be and ceasing to be, but never fully real. In addition, everything that becomes or changes must do so owing to some cause; for nothing can come to be without a cause. [Timaeus, 3:28]

Wolfgang Smith explicates the existent or “becoming” things:

“… they come upon the scene, we know not from whence; they grow, change, and decay; and at last they disappear, to be seen no more. The physical cosmos itself, we are told, is a case in point: it, too, has made its appearance, perhaps some twenty billion years ago, and will eventually cease to exist [i.e., finally succumbing, we are told, to thermodynamic entropy or “heat death”]. What is more, even now, at this very moment, all things are passing away. ‘Dead is the man of yesterday,’ wrote Plutarch, ‘for he dies into the man of today: and the man of today is dying into the man of tomorrow.’ Indeed, ‘to be in time’ is a sure symptom of mortality. It is indicative, not of being, but of becoming, of ceaseless flux.”

All the multiplicity of existents in the universe are in a state of becoming and passing away. But Plato’s great insight is that all things in the state of becoming — that is, all existing things — are whatever they are because they are participations in Being. That is to say, “we perceive the trace of being in all that exists,” writes Smith, “and that is why we say, with reference to any particular thing, that it is.” Existence, in other words, is contingent on Being.

Thus we have the relation Taxia–Ataxia: That which does not change (God), and that which ceaselessly changes (the natural world). (This strikes me as analogous to the relations obtaining between the First and Second Laws of thermodynamics. But I won't push that analogy here.)

Aristotle did not reject Plato's cosmology; he did not reject "transcendence" in favor of "immanence." He did not see this as an "either/or" situation, as he makes clear in the following passage:

Of things constituted by nature some are ungenerated, imperishable, and eternal, while others are subject to generation and decay. The former are excellent beyond compare and divine, but less accessible to knowledge. The evidence that might throw light on them, and on the problems which we long to solve respecting them, is furnished but scantily by sensation; whereas respecting perishable plants and animals we have abundant information, living as we do in their midst, and ample data may be collected concerning all their various kinds, if only we are willing to take sufficient pains. Both departments, however, have their special charm. The scanty conceptions to which we can attain of celestial things give us, from their excellence, more pleasure than all our knowledge of the world in which we live.... On the other hand, in certitude and in completeness our knowledge of terrestrial things has the advantage. Moreover, their greater nearness and affinity to us balances somewhat the loftier interest of the heavenly things that are the objects of the higher philosophy. Having already treated of the celestial world, as far as our conjectures could reach, we proceed to treat of animals, without omitting, to the best of our ability, any member of the kingdom, however ignoble. For if some have no graces to charm the sense, yet even these, by disclosing to intellectual perception the artistic spirit that designed them, give immense pleasure to all who can trace links of causation, and are inclined to philosophy. Indeed, it would be strange if mimic representations of them were attractive, because they disclose the mimetic skill of the painter or sculptor, and the original realities themselves were not more interesting, to all at any rate who have eyes to discern the reasons that determined their formation. We therefore must not recoil with childish aversion from the examination of the humbler animals. Every realm of nature is marvellous: and as Heraclitus, when the strangers who came to visit him found him warming himself at the furnace in the kitchen and hesitated to go in, reported to have bidden them not to be afraid to enter, as even in that kitchen divinities were present, so we should venture on the study of every kind of animal without distaste; for each and all will reveal to us something natural and something beautiful. Absence of haphazard and conduciveness of everything to an end are to be found in Nature's works in the highest degree, and the resultant end of her generations and combinations is a form of the beautiful. — Aristotle, De Partibus Animalium, Book V. [Emphasis added.]

The "difference" between Plato and Aristotle mainly consists of Aristotle's "shift of attention" from transcendent, universal Being — the Creator — to the immanent world of existents in nature (the Creation). This became Aristotle's basic modus operandi. But clearly he sees that the immanent world of nature is an "epiphany" of the transcendent divine, the image or reflection of the Uncaused Cause of all that exists.

Aristotle's "shift of attention" actually laid the very basis of modern science. But that shift in no way detracts from the profound insights of Plato, into the ultimate nature of Reality.

Must leave it there for now — I'm running on long (again).

Thank you ever so much, dearest sister in Christ, for your splendid essay/post!

33 posted on 07/26/2012 12:19:37 PM PDT by betty boop (We are led to believe a lie when we see with, and not through the eye. ¬ó William Blake)
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To: betty boop

Have you ever read Paul Tillich?


34 posted on 07/26/2012 12:25:07 PM PDT by Eva
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To: Eva; Alamo-Girl
No Eva. I have not read Tillich. Should I read him? That is, why do you recommend him to me?

There are huge gaps in my reading! (So many books out there...and life is short.)

I have read Francis Schaeffer, however, and hold him in the highest esteem.

35 posted on 07/26/2012 12:36:36 PM PDT by betty boop (We are led to believe a lie when we see with, and not through the eye. ¬ó William Blake)
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To: betty boop

Tillich is said to be the father of modern theology. He defined God or faith in God, as the “Ultimate Concern”. He was required reading for me in my freshman year of college, but I have never found anyone else who has actually read him. The discussions about Plato and Aristotle and their philosophy of a higher power, reminded me of Tillich.

Our survey of religion course didn’t go back as far as Plato and Aristotle. It started with Thomas Aquinas and How many Angels can dance on the head of a pin and ended with Paul Tillich, who I am embarrassed to admit was still alive at the time.


36 posted on 07/26/2012 1:33:41 PM PDT by Eva
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To: Eva; Alamo-Girl
[Tillich] defined God or faith in God, as the “Ultimate Concern”.

Well I'm in perfect agreement with Tillich on that score!

However, it seems to me that Plato and Aristotle were not at all concerned about a "higher power" — a very modern neologism, and therefore a tad anachronistic in terms of this discussion. Plato and Aristotle were concerned about the very foundations of Reality and its Truth, which both men saw as having a divine origin.

It is simply amazing to me that Plato "saw" the Logos of God-created Reality some four hundred years before the Incarnation of the Logos — our Lord Jesus Christ.

Which is just further proof to me that the Logos is, indeed, "in" the World of Creation, and has been so from the very Beginning, unto the very End of time....

Is there a particular book by Tillich you'd like to recommend? I'll be glad to read it!

p.s.: I don't think Thomas Aquinas, Saint and Doctor of the Church, was particularly interested in "how many angels could dance on the head of a pin." AT ALL. He mainly saw Natural Law as an epiphany of God....

37 posted on 07/26/2012 2:08:31 PM PDT by betty boop (We are led to believe a lie when we see with, and not through the eye. ¬ó William Blake)
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To: betty boop

Tillich was an existentialist, for whom his belief in a higher power grew out of questions of human existence. That is why your discussion of Plato and Aristotle reminded me of Tillich. Tillich believed that the answers to the questions of human existence were derived from question concerning human existence and that the answers to those questions were found in the fact of human existence.

We never read whole books by Tillich, we were given handouts, excerpts from various works. I believe that we read excerpts from his, Dynamics of Faith, Systematic Theology.

As I recall, the major focus of our discussion was on rituals of Christian service and the reason behind them. In other words, Tillich was not a fundamentalist, who believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible.

Wikipedia has an excellent article on Tillich, with a synopsis of his philosophy.


38 posted on 07/26/2012 2:58:15 PM PDT by Eva
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To: Eva; Alamo-Girl
Thanks Eva, I read the Wiki profile. Very interesting. I can see why the discussion re: Plato and Aristotle would evoke some of Tillich's ideas — particularly the idea of God as ground of being, and the Logos (Christ) as the same universal Logos acknowledged by the classical Greek philosophers.

Thank you for pointing me to Tillich!

39 posted on 07/27/2012 6:56:10 AM PDT by betty boop (We are led to believe a lie when we see with, and not through the eye. ¬ó William Blake)
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To: betty boop
"...It is simply amazing to me that Plato "saw" the Logos of God-created Reality some four hundred years before the Incarnation of the Logos — our Lord Jesus Christ. Which is just further proof to me that the Logos is, indeed, "in" the World of Creation, and has been so from the very Beginning, unto the very End of time...."

Exactly! BTTT

40 posted on 07/27/2012 8:24:18 AM PDT by Matchett-PI ("A right can't come at the expense of another" ~ Walter Williams)
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To: betty boop; Mad Dawg; aruanan; wmfights; TXnMA; stpio; Eva
Thank you oh so very much for your beautifully insightful post, dearest sister in Christ!

Plato's Being and Becoming certainly puts the greater duality in focus, i.e. Creator and Creation.

Aristotle's "shift of attention" actually laid the very basis of modern science. But that shift in no way detracts from the profound insights of Plato, into the ultimate nature of Reality.

Indeed. I suspect the intense debate between the two viewpoints - most recently between Penrose and Hawking and previously between Einstein and Bohr - is driven by metaphysical naturalism.

Or to put it another way, many of the frogs we've debated on the forum over the years evidently presume that - since they do not or cannot see what the birds see then therefore the bird's view is false. This is probably yet another case of misappropriating Aristotle's law of the excluded middle.

Conversely, I cannot remember a bird failing to recognize that the frog's view is accurate from the perspective of the frog as the observer.

Borrowing from Tegmark:

A mathematical structure is an abstract, immutable entity existing outside of space and time. If history were a movie, the structure would correspond not to a single frame of it but to the entire videotape.

Consider, for example, a world made up of pointlike particles moving around in three-dimensional space. In four-dimensional spacetime — the bird perspective — these particle trajectories resemble a tangle of spaghetti.

If the frog sees a particle moving with constant velocity, the bird sees a straight strand of uncooked spaghetti. If the frog sees a pair of orbiting particles, the bird sees two spaghetti strands intertwined like a double helix.

To the frog, the world is described by Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation. To the bird, it is described by the geometry of the pasta — a mathematical structure. The frog itself is merely a thick bundle of pasta, whose highly complex intertwining corresponds to a cluster of particles that store and process information.

Our universe is far more complicated than this example, and scientists do not yet know to what, if any, mathematical structure it corresponds.

Tegmark, Max, “Parallel Universes,” Scientific American, May, 2003

Applying that point to this article, it is frogishly wrong for a Christian to conclude, since he experiences time a certain way (linear and forward moving) - that therefore God must also experience time the same way.

God's Name is I AM, YHwH (He IS), Logos, Alpha and Omega.

41 posted on 07/27/2012 9:58:11 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop; Alamo-Girl
Dear Sister in Christ, thank you for inviting me to this "end times" thread! But... As you are aware, my mind, at present, is focused on the opposite end of our time scale. ;-)

I did prepare a lengthy response to a number of points that have been made on this thread, but, upon review, I found it to be slanted toward "creation things"... Slanted so much so, that it appeared to me to be akin to an apparent attempt at "thread hijacking" -- like another FReeper's comment to which I recently objected on another thread.

So... rather than be accused of "attempted hijacking" (or, at least, being "non sequitur", I will forward the comment (still HTML-encoded) to you via FReepMail.

Thank you again for the invitation to this thread, but, for the present, my attention is on other things...

~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I AM" created ("ex nihilo") all, designed and formed ("made") all, and knows/sees/sustains all!! To HIM be the glory!

42 posted on 07/27/2012 12:35:50 PM PDT by TXnMA ("Allah": Satan's current alias...)
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To: TXnMA
I look forward to your Freepmail, dear brother in Christ!

"I AM" created ("ex nihilo") all, designed and formed ("made") all, and knows/sees/sustains all!! To HIM be the glory!

Praise God!!!

43 posted on 07/27/2012 8:45:29 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: wmfights; All

How can Platonism be true, it goes against the faith
so why relate it to Eschatology? Everyone agrees, yes, there is a mystery to Eschatology and the reason the Church is not definitive about everything concerning the End Times. Good thing, Heaven knows...

God’s revealing, making more explicit through present day prophecy the current end of this period of time and God’s next era, the 7th Day and about the 8th Day. I understand better some things written in Revelation 6, thank you dear God for the messages from Heaven.

About Platonism, Jesus has His glorified physical body in Heaven and so will we at the General Judgment, also known as the Final Judgment.

Catechism of the Catholic Church
1060 At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. Then the just will reign with Christ for ever, glorified in body and soul, and the material universe itself will be transformed. God will then be “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28), in eternal life.

1 Cor 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then the Son also himself shall be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

http://www.drbo.org/


44 posted on 07/28/2012 8:44:22 PM PDT by stpio
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