You Can Lead a Horse to (Reconstructionist) Water, But You Can’t Make Him THINK It

Boys Pushing & Pulling Stubborn Mule

Someone on Gary North’s discussion forums this past week posted that he had recently “converted” to Christian Reconstructionism from premillennial dispensationalism.  This, of course, now makes him a contrarian in almost every sense of the word.  He said he is now the only member of his circle of family and friends to hold this position theologically and eschatologically.

His dilemma (and his question) is this: how to persuade members of his family and at least some of his friends that their position is wrong and his position is right?  Ah, yes…

“How to Lose Friends and INFURIATE People!”

Hmmm.  Sounds like a similar dilemma and question when one becomes a new, evangelically-born Christian.  Suddenly, you have (by God’s grace) awakened from a deep spiritual slumber.  You’ve been raised from the dead and rescued from certain everlasting damnation, and given new life and a new purpose.  You feel (and think) like a new man.  That’s because you are.  You know you have a truth that is THE truth (and not just “your” truth.)  The Gospel becomes like a fire shut up in your bones. You can’t keep it to yourself.  You have to tell others.  You want to tell EVERYBODY within earshot.  JESUS is LORD and Savior and King!  Believe in Him and be saved, too. Have peace with God, forgiveness of sins, everlasting life and joy and fellowship with all the redeemed in Christ and joy and peace and radiant and abundant personal fulfillment in spite of your evergreen and enduring Adamic affinities in this life, and so much more.

Who wouldn’t want that?

Well, my fellow Calvinistic, sovereign-election-embracing, total-depravity-acknowledging Christian, not everybody!

In the same way that non-Christians whom God has not been pleased to grant an irresistible attraction to the Gospel of grace in Christ are not all that interested or enthused by your new-found, let-me-tell-you-all-about-what-God-did-for-me-through-His-Son-Jesus “fanaticism,” likewise, non-Reconstructionists, whom God has not been pleased to grant — well, anyway — who are not only not interested in your new-found, “unorthodox,” borderline-heretical, overly optimistic, evangelically-incorrect belief system and worldview, they are incensed by it.

You have gone to the dark side.  You have defected from the safe haven of Rapture-and-tribulation-focused, eschatologically emasculated, piously pessimistic, conservative, culturally-defeatist, evangelical Christianity.

In other words, you’ve been a BAD boy!

At least, that’s how it looks when they are in the majority and you are in the minority — a teensy-weensy (but slowly growing) minority.  Their sense of validation and biblical superiority is based solely on the fact that they outnumber you.  Their favorite Bible teachers and preachers all teach some form of pietism-premillennialism-dispensationalism.  All the Christian radio and TV stations they tune into teach it. Probably, their pastors all teach and preach it.  Therefore, most (if not all) of their Christian friends — and relatives — believe it.  Therefore, it MUST be true.

For the most part, folks who hold to dispensationalism do so because that’s been the prevailing alternative to the anemic amillennialism of most reformed, liturgical protestant and Roman Catholic churches.

Regardless of what tradition you came out of, when you become a “Bible-believing” conservative evangelical or mainline pentecostal committed to biblical inerrancy, premillennial dispensationalism is pretty much what you are expected to believe — otherwise, you’re a LIBERAL!

And even if you’re a dedicated, conservative Calvinist, chances are you’ve shed dispensationalism and adopted a more robust covenantalism, but you have still retained the pessimistic eschatology of premillennialism (i.e., Satan reigns now, Jesus will reign later).

The Question

Anyway, here is the question, verbatim, posted by this person:

I was recently “converted” to the reconstructionist/postmillennial view of Scriptures. I am the only only person in my family who holds this viewpoint. All of my family and Christian fellowship from the past are the dispensational types. For the most part they are all heavily invested into thinking about the “end times.”

I am not really one who likes to debate and argue, but at the same time, I do not like seeing them being affected by this subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) worldview of defeat. Most of them are just “hunkering down” and waiting for Christ to return. They have no ambitions for productivity. They wouldn’t say that, but that’s how they live.

What are some good ways to be an influence on my family and friends in trying to help them see the hope that is in the Reconstructionist view of scripture and life? What are some good questions to ask to get them thinking about their assumptions?

The Answer

Here is Gary’s answer.  Pay close attention to the action steps prescribed here.  They can be applied to virtually any situation where you hold to a certain set of beliefs and the majority of people around you hold to another.  He does not say to marshall your forces to do intellectual and rhetorical battle with your ideological (but not spiritual) foes.  Rather, he says, put your theology where your mouth is.  That includes your eschatology.  Live it out so that others — especially the ones you’re trying to persuade and hoping to convince — can and WILL see the real, visible difference that it makes.

Hunkering down is the preferred way of life for the vast majority of people. This will not change. It’s Pareto’s law: the ineffective 80%.

You perceive that their eschatology is a root cause of their lack of initiative. But is it? It may be the other way around. They are just normal people, hunkered down, and their eschatology comforts them. It tells them that this is all they should expect. You want to take this excuse away from them. You will encounter resistance. If you are not rich or famous, they will say to themselves: “What does he know?” What is your answer?

So, the best way to handle this is by word and deed.

First, achieve some obvious success.

Second, produce materials that show how you did it. This includes your views on eschatology. Write a short a book on eschatology and success. Explain why eschatology does not promote or justify a lack of success. Aim this book at somebody who is about 15 years old. Do not target your relatives. Your relatives do not want to hear it. Your relatives do not want to be reminded by you that they are underachievers due to their eschatology. Publish this book by print-on-demand.

Third, produce a series of video lessons that could be used in a Sunday school. Explain your position. Post these on YouTube. I recommend a 12-week series of lessons, each about 25 minutes long. Use a screencast program to do it, with a presentation graphics program such as the one in Libre Office. Buy a good lapel microphone. Buy a good webcam for $70 or so.

Fourth, set up a WordPress.com site. Post the videos on the site as embeds.

This way, when somebody asks you what you believe, hand him a book, and then hand him a short link created by Bitly.com or TinyURL.com that takes the person to your video series on eschatology. If the person is interested, he can find out what you believe at his own pace. He can listen, review it, or ignore it. He does not have to listen to you tell him face to face.

He listens to you teaching teenage kids, which is a completely different positioning. He does not feel threatened. You are not targeting him because he is a failure. You are targeting young people to help them not become failures. The positioning is completely different. Everybody wants kids to be successful. It is just that few people want to pay the price personally to be successful and to be a role model for kids. He expects his own kids to do what he has not done, despite the fact that he has taught his kids erroneously.

If you are positioning the materials to help teenagers do better in their lives, it is very difficult for anyone to criticize you. Ignore your relatives. Why? Because they surely ignore you. Treat them in exactly the same way. Target a completely different audience, and then, if a few of your relatives are curious about what you have been doing, you can hand them the book and a link to your blog site, which has your YouTube videos embedded in it.

Again, there’s no strategy of full-spectrum theological dominance here.  Just a practical program of, “Don’t tell me, show me!”

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Forum question and answer reprinted by permission.

Israel and the Church: Two Sides of the Same Coin–or Two Different Coins?

Does the Bible teach an Israel-Church distinction?

Gary Demar says NO.

Back when I cut my spiritual teeth as a fairly new Christian in the mid-1980s (when I was in my early 20s), dispensationalism and premillennialism were all the rage. In fact, in my Pentecostal-Fundamentalist world, they were running at a fever pitch.  Books, tapes, prophetic conferences, radio, TV, evangelistic ministries, etc., were all talking about the “end times”, the “last days”, the coming Rapture, imminent return of Christ to the earth and the Great Tribulation.

One theme that kept cropping up was what the Bible had to say about Israel in “prophecy” as it relates to what it says about the Church in prophecy, and especially the (apparent) scriptural divide that exists between “the Church”–meaning God’s New Testament body of Christian believers–and “Israel”–meaning God’s Old Testament body of Jewish believers.

In standard dispensational-premillennial theology, these two entities are not the same, and they never will be.  The Church, since the day of Pentecost and the book of Acts, has been and always will be a New Testament phenomenon.  The nation of Israel has been and always will be an ethnically-genetically-geographically-defined group of Old Testament-centric folks who are the physical descendants of Abraham.  And ne’er the twain shall meet, except in heaven, and in the coming earthly, literal “millennial” kingdom (and, of course, in “heretical” Covenant/Reformed theology!)

The crux of the confusion surrounding this controversy involves what the Bible says about the Church and Israel, and hinges on its use of the word “church.”

Church (“ekklesia”) was not a new word invented in the 1st century A.D by Greek-speaking writers of the New Testament to describe believers in Christ in any exclusive sense.

Rather, Ekklesia was a word that had already been in common usage “for several hundred years before the Christian era” in a much more broad, inclusive sense.  Hence,…

There is no Church-Israel distinction in the Bible because the Greek word ekklēsia is not an invention of the New Testament writers. Ekklēsia is a common word that is used to describe an assembly or congregation. It is used this way in the Greek translation of the Old Testament — the Septuagint (LXX) — and the Greek New Testament. This common word is use by Jesus in Matthew’s gospel (the most Jewish of the gospels):

  • “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church [ekklēsia]; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matt. 16:18).[3]
  • “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church [ekklēsia]; and if he refuses to listen even to the church [ekklēsia], let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matt. 18:17).

It was a very generically used word that could apply to both O.T. and N.T. assemblies of God’s people.  Moreover, “promises made to Old Testament Israel are said to be fulfilled in the so-called church age” to New Testament believers.

“For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, andthey shall be My people. . . . And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:16, 18). How can this be when Paul is citing a verse that originally applied to Israel? How can the church be the temple? The temple is strictly Jewish. Second Corinthians 6:18 is a direct citation of Exodus 29:45: “And I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God.” Then there is the statement to the Corinthian ekklēsiato “come out from their midst and be separate.” This, too, is an Old Testament reference to Israel, as is the reference not to touch “what is unclean” (2 Cor. 6:17b; Isa. 52:11). Finally, Paul tells the Corinthians that God will be a Father to them, and they will be “sons and daughters” to Him (2 Cor. 6:18). Once again, Paul draws on passages that were first applied to Israel (Isa. 43:6; Hosea 1:10).

Demar’s point is that Scripture makes no distinction between Israel and the Church, they’re one and the same, but that dispensationalism MUST make this distinction in order to harmonize its teachings with the Bible.

To read the full article, click here.

http://americanvision.org/5637/does-the-bible-teach-an-israel-church-distinction/