Let Every Man be a Liar, But Let God Be True'
by Mark Mountjoy
The unchecked spread of Calvinism (the doctrines of sovereign grace and fatalism) exists far and wide in the Christian world; our goal in this study is to examine the Book of Romans and see if passages Calvinists use hold up, in context, under scrutiny. We cannot afford to let this Atavist work begin and later be torn apart by the strife and confusion that the Calvinist doctrine of TULIP invariably brings. Nor can we stand idly by while seeds of this destructive flower are planted in the hearts and minds of people to convince them that reality and destiny are unpliable and fated, and that it is above and beyond their control to effect God or move his feelings and emotions by honest faith, devout prayer and sincere supplications. God has not fated anyone to the fires of hell or the outer darkness of the second death and the wrath of God, according to the Scriptures, is directly excited by a refusal to repent and change course--in other words--it is precisely the unwillingness to be willing that irritates God and causes him to abandon anyone to their own devices and this, we shall see, is the teaching of the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans. This essay is based on the premises which espouses Open Theism and is in the making, please stand by!
S E C O N D E D I T I O N
Amillennial Equivocations in the Book of Revelation
A N N O T A T E D
by Mark Mountjoy
Is Amillennialism True to the New Testament?, Parts One and Two and Three dealt with (1) Inflow and outflow of Bible information to and from the Book of Revelation, (2) How Revelation, a book packed with themes, motifs and metaphors, is almost entirely unexplained, even on Amillennialism's own terms, (3) How the view relates to late Second Temple Jewish history and where, one the face of it (and deeper down) Amillennialism pays very little attention to the important part the Semitic civilization of the Second Jewish Commonwealth has to this critical field of study. In this volume we want to go even further . . .
To begin this study, we want to examine Amillennialism's idiosyncratic interpretive strategy in the Book of Revelation, it will be quickly recognized from the outset, that assumptions and premises which are not well grounded in cultural realities, contextual constraints and exegetical standards will tend to put these Christians at a very great disadvantage just as soon as they try to make heads or tails out of Revelation's signs, symbols and metaphors.
Revelation's prologue is the proper place to begin this study and questions that address Revelation 1:1 and what are its antecedents in the New Testament are very much in order. What is this "revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him"? Where are similar promises in the Gospels, in Acts, or in the epistles? Is this "revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him" something that is described only in a few isolated verses in Revelation, or is it something that sits front and center from the beginning of the seals (Revelation 6:1ff) all the way to the downfall of Gog and Magog (Revelation 20:9)? These are just a few questions that come to mind and the answers that are given are either going to be limited, and hamper our understanding, or comprehensive, which will expand our awareness of what we are dealing with.
Revelation 1:3 and verse 7 seem to naturally and organically connect to whatever this "revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him" is. According to verse 3, verse 7 was understood as something that would shortly come to pass. But the language of verse 7 is reminiscent of promises Jesus made on the Mount of Olives 72 hours before he was crucified for our sins (Matthew 24:30 cf. Mark 13:26). Ultimately, though, this motif comes straight out of Daniel 7:7-27.
The problem that must be faced by Amillennialists is this: How can we interpret Revelation's prologue as something to be taken at face value when, at the time it was given, the end of time and of the physical universe was nowhere in sight? The urge to take these promises and subsume them into a theory of secondary or ancillary events--events which have a lessor fulfillment in the past and a greater (and ultimate) fulfillment in the future time, will be tempting. But we must resist this inclination, for the sake of this study, for a moment.
Professor Richard Bauckham
F I R S T E D I T I O N
A Critical Overview of Systematized Obscurantism
A N N O T A T E D
by Mark Mountjoy
In Part One we saw how Amillennialism seriously restricts the flow of information to and from the larger Bible to the Book of Revelation—and chiefly why that happened: More than 290 years after Jesus gave the Revelation message to John, Christians in the crystallizing institutional church of the West as well as the East, still had not accepted it as an undisputed part of the canon. We also demonstrated that without the Book of Revelation, the New Testament tells a very different story: Without Revelation it is a story devoid of the necessary complexities involved with the judgment, punishment and downfall of an ancient civilization which had stood for fourteen centuries. Without Revelation it is a message that connects the so-called end of the Christian age itself (not the end of the era of Moses), to the Second Coming of our Lord. Without Revelation it is a drama that makes the end of the Levitical-priestly and animal-sacrificial world of Biblical Judaism and the Destruction of the Second Temple completely and utterly beside the point. Without Revelation it is a tale that occludes the fact that the resurrection of the dead happened in the midst of the chaos and confusion of the A.D.66-70 Jewish civil war.
From this internal, contextual and historical standpoint, we find, again and again, that Amillennialism cannot lay claim to being the 'first belief', the 'original belief' of Christians—why? Because, though it accepts the Incarnation, Deity, Cross, saving blood, death, burial and resurrection of our Lord, it stands opposed to and in stubborn denial of the apocalyptic certitude, hopes and expectations of the first Christians; therefor, it was not believed by "all Christians, everywhere" in the days of the Apostles and should be seriously questioned by all Christians everywhere today.
In Part Two we discussed Amillennialism through the metaphor of a thought tree. From its starting point in the trunk, we noted that Revelation's supposed appearance (twenty-five years after the Destruction of Jerusalem) is the first challenge that needs to be studied, scrutinized and refuted on the weight of real evidence. Because if this one assumption we noted that eight out of twenty topics in the foliage of the tree are believed to be understood by Amillennials and, because the ratio of certainty/uncertainty strongly leans toward the latter, what is certain is, in almost all instances, reduced to redundancy (which reintroduces more confusion and inadvertently makes Revelation seem doubly obscure!). The conundrum is clear: Many things in the Book of Revelation that are considered interchangeable are actually different; many things that are considered literal are really apocalyptic figures of speech; and many things that are considered Roman antagonist occasions for the book's writing fly in the face of Hebrew adversities that are clearly stated or directly implied throughout the book, from the very beginning to the very end.
Hence, in this essay we want to go a step further and show how the New Testament (with the Book of Revelation), relates significantly (and surprisingly) to the historical realities that one would expect to see if the sacred texts were, indeed, written in a Biblical environment, a Semitic environment and a Diaspora setting. These events happen along a continuum of time starting in A.D.66 and lead out seven decades into the early 30s of the second century. You will find that here we have enormous clusters of corollaries that, if rejected out of hand, not a single notable parallel can ever hope to be found (which is precisely where the assumptions and insinuation of the Roman Empire into these affairs erroneously led the traditional Church inquiry in the first place).