Prophets & Prophets

 
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. Luke 6:40

This verse, when you look at the previous passage that leads up to it, has an immediate negative application: The blind students who follow after the likewise blind teachers will both fall into the ditch. And the reason is that the students have “learned” their blindness from their masters.

Further in this chapter in Luke the image changes from vision (or lack of it) to fruitfulness. A tree is known by its fruits, vs. 43-45. After this we have the straightforward teaching that those who follow Christ should obey Christ, vs. 46-49. They will be the firm house that withstand the storm.

Christlikeness
When we are trained by Christ, by the Spirit of Christ, we will be like Him.  How will we be like Him? He has communicable and non-communicable attributes. There are divine characteristics of His that we will never have: omniscience, omnipotence, and so on. But the other ones, the communicable ones, we should have (though in lesser degree). This is having Christ formed in us.

Getting back to Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King. We are also to be like Him in these ways.

Moses,when told that there were Eldad and Medads were prophesying in the camp responded,

“Oh, that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!”

These words were not just a vain or off-the-cuff words of exasperation from Moses, but evidently a prophetical glimpse into the future, looking far into that dispensation that would supplant the Covenant of Moses’ time. Paul repeats this very sentiment in 1 Cor. 14:1-5:

1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.

5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.

But now we have a problem. According to this same letter of Paul, in the previous chapter, prophesying (along with tongues and knowledge) will be done away with. When? “When that which is perfect is come.” To the Preterist this is already a past event with an everlasting present reality. The Perfect has come.

Fore-telling and Forth-telling
So what about prophesying? There are two types of prophesying. The first is fore-telling. This is the forecasting of events by divine inspiration. The writers of the Bible had this. But when the prophesying ceased the canon of Scripture was finalized (although not recognized as such by Christians until much later).  The perfect had come and did away with that type of prophesying.

But the other type of prophesying is still around and very much needed. And that is forth-telling. This is the bringing forth to the world what is in the Word of God, telling others what we have been taught.

Christ asked His disciples, Matt. 13:50-52:

“Have you understood all these things?”

They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”

Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”

As we are trained – and to the extent that we have been trained – we too are bringing out of the treasury of the Bible things new and old, Old Testament promise matched to New Testament clarification. The Prophets of the Bible prophesied this way, along with their inspired predictive discourses.

It is in this first sense that all Christians are to be prophets.

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And they Sing the Song of Moses . . .

 

Rev.15:3 and Deuteronomy 32

Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, because in them the wrath of God has been completed.

And I saw something like a glassy sea having been mixed with fire, and those who prevailed over the Beast, and over his image, and over the number of his name, standing on the glassy sea, having the harps of God.

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Righteous and true are Your ways, O King of the nations! Rev. 15:1-3

Look at your study Bible at this passage and you will most likely be given Exodus 15 as a cross-reference, not Deuteronomy 32. Most commentaries likewise follow suit. Just to give one instance, John Gill says this (emphasis mine):

“Revelation15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God,…. Not that in Deuteronomy 32:1 but that in Exodus 15:1 and the sense is,either that they observed the law of Moses, which he as a servant in the Lord’s house faithfully delivered, and kept it distinct from the Gospel, and did not blend them together, as in the times before; or rather, that they sung a song like that of Moses, and on a like occasion. Pharaoh was the very picture of the pope of Rome; his oppression and cruel usage of the Israelites represent the tyranny and cruelty of the Romish antichrist;”

I use Gill as a convenient example because he is a usually astute Biblical scholar in my opinion, and he quite clearly shows here the reasoning here why he – and the vast majority of other commentators – opt for Exodus 15 as the basis for Revelation’s “Song of Moses”.

What is the reasoning? Futurism. Even John Gill falls into this futurist a priori assumption. Overlooking the possibility that Revelation foretold the redemption of spiritual Israel and a first-century judgment of carnal Israel (the “adulterous generation” of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels) Gill and many others look to a different application. And,following the lead of Luther, Calvin, and most of the Reformers, the majority view now is a futurist one. This view has two parts:

1.An assumption that the judgment is worldwide, not primarily centered on Israel.

2.An assumption that the enemy here of God’s people is the Roman Catholic Church,not carnal, unrepentant Israel.

But Scripture testifies contrary to both of these assumptions. What is the evidence for this assertion? Let’s look to the Bible, not to our inherited eschatology. Comparing the two Old Testament passages is the first step in making our case. Exodus15:1-19, the passage assumed to be the Song of Moses referred to in Rev. 15, is a recounting of the Israelites’ victory over the pursuing Egyptians. The Israelites had just passed safely through the Red Sea and Pharaoh and his armies, following hard after them, were drowned to the last man. The song is a commemoration of Israel’s victory of faith in God, despite the circumstances. The emphasis is not on the faith of Israel however, nor on Moses, but on the faithfulness and power of Israel’s God.

Aside from the presupposition of editors and commentators, there is absolutely nothing in this passage that specifically connects with Revelation 15. The only thing that links the two passages in the minds of commentators is tradition and necessity.

Tradition: Christendom, having long since overlooked the possibility of a 1st-century fulfillment for the Book of Revelation – according to the Book itself – has for many years now seen the prophecies in that book as far in the future from the time of the original writing. The two most influential schools of thought have been prophetic Historicism (Adam Clarke, Newton) or some form of Dispensational Futurism (Darby, Scofield, Lindsey).

Necessity: Either way 1st-century Israel is discounted as a setting for the fulfillment of this book, and as recipients of the judgments in the book. And, because of this, all the identifications of Israel in this book – and they are numerous and unmistakeable – are re-applied to some other persons. Historically, the convenient application has been on the Roman Catholic Church.

So much for the first Old Testament passage. Now let’s look at passage number two, Deuteronomy 32:1-43. Actually, to get the background for this Song we need to backtrack to Deut. 31:24. This passage is much more somber than the one in Exodus, dealing as it does with the judgment of Israel herself.Moses was given this song, not as a celebration of recent victory, but a sonorous forewarning of a future catastrophe to a backsliding Israel. It is addressed to those who claim to be God’s but have hardened their hearts. The passage goes on to enumerate the ways that this disobedient Israel will fail. Because they forgot God and brought in foreign gods God will hide His face from them. And He will heap upon them disaster after disaster.

There are many parallels between this passage and the book of Revelation,convincing me that this is the real Song of Moses. Compare Deut. 32:23-24 with Rev. 6:2-8. We find here God’s four special judgments for His people. See also Ezekiel 14. In both Rev. 6 and Ezek. we have the four special judgments brought on by obdurate resistance to God’s Word (Rev. 6:9, Ezek. 12:2).

Most convincing is the close correlation of Deut. 32:3-4 with Revelation 15:3-4. One is clearly a reference to the other.

Consider first the passages around Revelation 15. Not to get into too much detail (that I will be unable to finish up on) just look at the verses just before Rev. 15.

“And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God. And the wine-press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the wine-press, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” Rev. 14:19-20

The 1600 furlongs converts to about 184 miles long (according to my Thomas Nelson Bible. There are slight differences in other versions). This is basically the distance of Israel from north to south.

Rev. 16:14 and 16
“For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth (lit. γῆ = “land”. That is, “land of Israel”) and of the whole world (lit. οἰκουμένη = “inhabited world”. Very often in Scripture this is the Roman Empire), to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. … And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”

This, then, is not some future worldwide showdown involving all nations. But it is the long-heralded awesome Day of Judgment against long-disobedient Israel, the people of God’s Covenant. The human instruments of this judgment are not the imagined minions of a fictional Antichrist. They are the mighty forces of the Romans, along with the various auxiliary legions, especially those from the east (the “kings of the East”). The confirmatory proof for all of these identifications, apart from Scripture itself, can easily be found in Josephus, Tacitus, Gibbons, and many others.

Other details that point to 1st century Israel as the setting for Revelation are found also in other details:

The city divided in three parts, Rev. 16:19. This should familiar to anyone who has read Josephus’ accounts of the days leading up to Jerusalem’s demise. The city did indeed break up into three warring factions, those in the Temple (the most belligerent), those manning the walls and outer defenses, and the unfortunate majority caught in-between.

The city is full of the blood of the saints, Rev. 16:6; 17:6. Christ said that “it cannot be that a prophet perish outside of Jerusalem.” Luke 13:33

The city is destroyed by stones of one talent, Rev. 16:21. This is exactly the weight referred to by Josephus.

The city is stoned, which is the punishment of a harlot. Israel, throughout the Old Testament is spoken of as a harlot. A harlot is one who repudiates their vow of faithfulness. A judgment on the whole world – many who never made any such vow – would not fit that description. A judgment on Israel would.

The city is dressed up in purple, scarlet, gold, and precious stones, Rev. 17:3-5, just like the priests of the Old Covenant.

The city, just like the priests of the Old Covenant, have a name written on the forehead. In the case of Aaron and the other priests it was “Holiness to the Lord”, Exodus 28:38. In the case of 1st-century Israel we have startling contrast,

“MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH”

Having become harlots, professing faith and love toward God, in their actions they deny Him. This picture in Revelation was already predicted in Jeremiah:

“Lift up your eyes to the high places, and see. Where have you not been lain with? By the highways you have sat for them, like the Arabian in the wilderness; and you have defiled the land with your fornications and with your wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain; and you had a harlot’s forehead, you refused to be ashamed.” Jer. 3:2-3

Application. Why is this important?

The identification of the Song of Moses, aside from being a litmus test of one’s eschatology, has one very important application. It shows once again that the judgments of God fall first and foremost on the house of God, on those who profess in words and lie in actions.

Preterism does not change any of this. God did not stop hating sin in 70 AD. We must all, at the end of this life, meet God. Understanding that Revelation prophesied a judgment on those who claimed to be closest to Him should be sobering for all Christians – certainly for those who, in their consciences, have the flimsiest claim to the name of Christian.

Having a clear picture of God’s judgment of others presses us toward earnest self-examination and cleansing. If we judge our selves we would not be judged. The Word of God is a two-edged sword, always achieving its most blessed results in our own lives. But rather than this self-cleansing, we focus rather on the outward edge. God’s victory over those heathen armies of Pharaoh, rather than His wrath against His own covenant-claiming children.

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We are Stars

Like I mentioned earlier, being a Preterist – or even just one with better understanding of the New Covenant – opens up old Bible passages in new ways. A case in point is Psalm 147.

Psalm 147:1 – 4

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.

The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.

A thought came to mind (- usually where thoughts come to!): Is this just about physical stars? Some writers (surprisingly, Matthew Henry even) seem to limit the meaning to physical stars.

But, to misquote Paul, does God care only for physical stars? Or does He not say this for our sakes?

As you look through other commentaries:

Adam Clarke writes:

“He telleth the number of the starsHe whose knowledge is so exact as to tell every star in heaven, can be under no difficulty to find out and collect all the scattered exiles of Israel.”

John Gill writes:

“he calleth them all by their names; …This may be applied to the saints, who are like to stars for the light they r eceive from Christ the sun of righteousness, and are a number which no man can number; but Christ knows them all distinctly and exactly, and can call them by name, and holds them in his right hand, and will preserve them; and they shall shine for ever like stars, yea, like the sun in the kingdom of his Father; so Arama interprets this of the righteous, who are compared to stars; see Dan_12:4.

(o) Vid. Augustin de Civ. Dei, l. 16. c. 23.” [This is Augustine’s “City of God”]

Clarke reminds us to stay aware of audience relevance. This Psalm was primarily written for the exiled Jews, that God had not forgotten them. He knows their names. And anyone who has plowed through some of those more (dare I say it?) tedious name-after-name passages found in the Bible knows that our God cares for individuals. I don’t think that any other holy book pays such attention to individuals.

But the blessings of this Psalm is not used up or exhausted by its ancient fulfillment in post-exilic times. It is ongoing. “The Lord builds up Jerusalem” has a twofold meaning. The physical Jerusalem was rebuilt, just as promised. But we today are still seeing the Almighty’s eternal building project, the Heavenly Jerusalem, “the city whose builder and maker is God”.

I think we need to read the Psalms with this viewpoint. Much of the Bible is not just history of what God did for the ancient Jews. It is ongoing assurance of what He is doing for us now, the Israel of God.

Through all the destruction and chaos in this present world This City – our city – is still being built. Great news!

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Preterist Response to a Futurist

Below is a three-part response on my part, defending Preterism against what I believe are ill-conceived objections against our view. I was originally going to rework all of this into a separate article, leaving out the give-and-take. But, partly due to a lack in time (We are on our way to China on just a few days) I will just post these here as is, changing just the names and leaving out a few personal details. Also, I hate to leave so much typing and study just go for naught.

Preterist Response to a Futurist

All of the underlining is mine, in order to draw the portions especially commented on.

Quote Originally Posted by M View Post

Of my past theological mistakes, a certain few stick in my side more than others. Full preterism was one of my mistaken ventures, and as such I try to show current full preterists why I believe it is an error. One of the most profoundly erroneous parts of it is that full preterism puts the resurrection of the dead entirely in the past, or as an ongoing event. In contrast, I maintain that the resurrection of the dead is wholly in the future, with the sole exception being Jesus himself. Because a physical resurrection of the dead is practically impossible to believe in while also being a full preterist (i.e. how come no one in the first century reported a mass disappearance of bodies, let alone that they were all Christians? how come, when Christians die now, their bodies don’t simply return to life, or vanish altogether?), the majority of full preterists uphold a spiritual resurrection, as opposed to a physical one. This happened en masse in the first century, and has continued to happen afterward (variably said to happen when an individual is saved, or when a saved person dies).

Like I said before, M, and with all due respect, I don’t think you ever were a card-carrying Full Preterist. You may have thought you were one but, based on what I read below (which I will get to) I don’t think that, in your case, Full Preterism ever “took”. And to have a “mistake” there has to first be a “take”.

As far your “impossibility” is concerned, I agree. I don’t see how an FP (Full Preterist) can believe in a physical resurrection of believers. What I am unclear of is your (i.e.) section. Are those comments those of your Preterists? (After all, “i.e.” means “id est”, “that is”). Or is it your response against FP?. I’m not sure, so I will move on.

There are several reasons to object to a spiritual resurrection. I’ll briefly outline three of these objections, before moving on to a fourth objection in regards to the only Biblical text that full preterists can substantially claim supports their position.


I always appreciate when people do this, provide an outline of where they propose to go. I wish that more would do what you did here, M. I would disagree with your “briefly”, but I’m not the one to talk!


(1) Historically: It is irrefutable that, prior to Jesus, the resurrection was a uniquely Jewish concept. In every case where resurrection is spoken of or described by ancient Jewish texts, both before, during, and after the time of Jesus, the resurrection is always seen as a physical raising of the dead, that the bodies which they died in would physically return to life. The only exceptions to this come from writers who were obviously influenced by Grecian philosophers who taught that death was an escapist release from the corrupt physical world. This is ultimately the origin of the variant gnostic religions as well; the idea of a spiritual resurrection literally has more in common with Greek and gnostic philosophies than it does with Jewish theology.

OK, already we have problems. There really is no need to speak of “ancient Jewish texts”, as far as I am concerned, nor of Grecian philosophers. The issue here is Scripture. If it is not Scripture, I am not interested – at least not for this discussion. Biblical terms cannot be very well-defined outside of the Bible. (I used to believe otherwise.) And as far as the gnostic philosophy is concerned, I came to expect that. Every other writing against Preterism plays that gnostic card. I will get back to your “escapist” comments later.

Needless to say, I disagree entirely with your last statement.


(2) Linguistically: The Greek word used for ‘resurrection’ in Scripture literally means ‘to stand again’. By definition, a person who has been spiritually resurrected cannot be said to have ‘stood again’, if they are experiencing something for the very first time. There is no ‘again’ to speak of if they’ve never experienced it before. Prior to the time when the Jews developed their concept of the resurrection, the Greek word in question was only ever used by Greek writers when they spoke of a person being physically raised back to life from death, and that it was an impossible thing to happen. On this linguistic basis, everyone who spoke Greek would have immediately understood ‘resurrection’ as used by Jesus and his Apostles as speaking about physically raising from the dead, not spiritually transmigrating to another plane of existence. No linguistic evidence supports a concept of ‘resurrection’ being used of a solely spiritual event by either Jews or Greeks.


I have a Hindi friend who told me about when he used to (his English is better now) say, “My bike understands the tree – so it won’t get wet.” He meant that he stood (propped up) his bike under the tree, that it was under the tree.

M, you are doing the same thing here. You see the prefix “ana” and think that it has to mean “again”. (Yet, I have to believe that you are at least aware of the other very common meaning of that prefix. “above”) So you have a faulty etymology. And you make this faulty etymology your foundation for what follows – and come back to it later in your post. You do not have “linguistic basis”, but rather a faulty linguistic theory.

And, once again, it seems you are delving unto language that is unsubstantial as it is pejorative: as if my belief is similar to that of “spiritually transmigrating to another plane of existence”.

I hate that I am getting bogged down here (and almost closing time!) Later on you do have some more substantial points that I look forward to getting to. But I’m afraid that this is all I have time for now.

Re: The resurrection hasn’t happened yet (An argument against full preterism)

My response, part 2. Comments of mine are interspersed and in blue.

Quote Originally Posted by M View Post

(3) In Example: Scripture makes it abundantly clear that Jesus was physically raised from the dead. Not only does this completely fit with the concept of resurrection that the Jews and Greeks understood ‘resurrection’ to be (even if the Jews affirmed it would happen and the Greeks denied it could happen),

I believe you are making too much out of his unanimity on both parts.

but full preterists agree on this. Every single time Jesus’ resurrection is mentioned in the gospels, Acts, the epistles, or Revelation it is always implicit or explicit that his physical resurrection is in mind, whether by mentioning his body decaying, his body being buried, his body having scars in his hands and feet, etc. The point of contention comes up when writers like Paul or John state clearly that Jesus’ followers will be resurrected in the same way Jesus was.

Do you really believe this? In the same way? His resurrected body demonstrated pierced hands, feet, and sides. Will believers be resurrected he same way? What of all those whose martyrdom entailed disfigurement, beheading, skinning?

Full preterists must interject that Christ was spiritually resurrected at the same time that he was physically resurrected, because otherwise the readers (the original audience being Jews and Greeks who only ever thought of ‘resurrection’ in terms of a physical rising from the dead) are most naturally left with the impression that because Jesus was raised physically immortal then his followers will be raised physically immortal.

“Most naturally” indeed. However the basis of our discussion is the supernatural, inspired Bible, not the “natural” and limited understanding of fallen humanity.

Hence the objection: if Jesus’ resurrection is the model for our resurrection, and nothing in Scripture suggests that Jesus was resurrected spiritually, only ever physically, it can’t be claimed on this basis that our resurrection is a solely spiritual event.

I am not if “model” is the word you want. That word implies an example to consciously follow. In what way – other than in spiritual obedience – do we follow Christ as a model in our resurrection? But maybe this is just word that you chose hurriedly and meant something like “precedence”.

(4) Because of full preterism’s insistence in a ‘spiritual’, unseen resurrection, it sees its strongest Scriptural foundation in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, in which he speaks of the resurrection.

Absolutely not. Full Preterism (FP) does not need special passages to over-emphasize at the expense of others.

Throughout 1 Corinthians 15, Paul contrasts the present body with the resurrection body. The present body is described as earthly, perishable, dishonorable, weak, and natural. The resurrection body is instead heavenly, imperishable, glorious, powerful, and (here’s the trick) ‘spiritual’.

Actually, the trick is in using that word “trick”, trying to prejudice instead of argue. Do you not see in that word an insinuation. If I, as an FP, would use that word I would get another rebuke from one of the moderators here for my “jab”. But I have come to expect an uneven playing field. And to expect this from most futurists. Thankfully, not all.

According to full preterists, since Paul says the resurrection body is ‘spiritual’, it can’t be physical, since (as Jesus himself said) ‘a spirit does not have flesh and bones’. Thus full preterists, having already arrived at the necessity of a spiritual resurrection by virtue of the claim that all prophecy was fulfilled in the past, find this as their proof that the Apostles taught such a thing.

See? Now this shows me you were never were a real card-carrying Preterist. You never came to grips with it, or you wouldn’t have written this. You have the order reversed. The proof led to the necessity, not the other way around. It was Scripture – and not just this passage, either – that led me to the conclusions I am now arguing for. Having read many accounts from other FPs I have come across similar testimonies. They never engaged in such a retro-logic as you describe.

Note: All of the above is (Tom FP’s) words. I don’t know why it isn’t all in blue. It should be.

But the game played here is hard and fast.

Tell me about it.

The interpretive method has degraded before we’ve finished the first sentence of the chapter. Generally full preterists delve into all kinds of depths in the Hebrew and Greek in order to make their cases for certain parts of their eschatology. Not so in 1 Corinthians 15. At least, not in terms of what Paul says about the resurrection. Paul didn’t say that we would physically die only to be turned into spirits,

“Only”? God is “only” a Spirit throughout eternity, as are the angels throughout eternity. What is the onliness of that? Read Hebrews 12:22-23:

“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,”

but rather that we would be resurrected (‘stand up again’) with spiritual bodies.

No, Paul never said that phrase.

There is quite a difference between being a spirit and being spiritually oriented.

I have no idea where that comment (about Preterists avoiding the Greek here) is coming from. Of course, playing to a forgiving crowd, as you have here, you wouldn’t be called to task for making these cartoony generalizations about those nasty Preterists. At any rate, I hope this Preterist will satisfy you with a closer look at the Greek of this passage. In fact, I believe that is where one of your weakest point of argumentation is. Somewhere online I have an article entitled, “Weak arguments from Strong’s Concordances”. What you wrote (especially below) brings that article to mind.


Paul has already spent a good portion of this passage (verses 12-23) pointing out that the resurrection of the dead will follow the example of Jesus’ resurrection, and how our resurrection relies on Jesus’ own. We saw that Jesus’ resurrection was inherently physical in nature; he was not simply a spirit walking around in the disguise of a physical body. Even full preterism agrees on that. It then makes little sense that Paul would thus claim that our resurrection would follow after Jesus’ resurrection, yet that his and ours would be two entirely different types of resurrections. To this end, in order to justify that the general resurrection must consist of an invisible ‘resurrection’ (though it doesn’t even fit the definition of the word) as spirits, all of the emphasis is placed on Paul’s statement that we will be raised in ‘spiritual’ bodies. Spiritual! Spiritual! Spiritual!

You have the words right, but the tune wrong, as Mark Twain would say.


The obvious downside here is that once this proof-word is noticed, full preterism pays little-to-no attention to what Paul says as a whole about it.
He doesn’t say that our physical bodies will die and be replaced by an invisible spiritual existence. What he says is:

  • What is sown (the present body) must die in order to ‘come to life’ (the resurrection body). His analogy to a seed shows a direct continuity between the former state and the latter state, even if the former is inferior to the latter.
  • The perishable is raised as imperishable; the mortal is raised as immortal. ‘Perishable’ means subject-to-decay. ‘Mortal’ means able-to-die. The present body, the one able to die and decay, will be raised as unable to die or decay. It is the selfsame body, but with different qualities. Otherwise it can’t be said to be ‘raised as’ if it’s discarded entirely.
  • It is sown in dishonor and weakness, it is raised in glory and power. Again, a spiritual resurrection has nothing being ‘raised’. The physical body is abandoned to the dirt forever, replaced by a spiritual existence.


First: You wrote (underlining mine) “The present body, the one able to die and decay, will be raised as unable to die or decay. It is the selfsame body“.

@@@@@@@@Note again: Below comments in section should be in blue@@@@@@@

Paul wrote, 15:36-38:

“Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:

But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.”

It is not “the selfsame body”. “Thou sowest not the body that shall be.”

I certainly agree with your last characterization of what FP believes.

“The physical body is abandoned to the dirt forever, replaced by a spiritual existence.”

You also said that there is “continuity“. Yes, there is. But not the kind that you envision. The continuity is in the the spirit, not (as you affirm) in the flesh. The flesh will be destroyed, dissolved – λύω. Our souls are and will exist forever. – somewhere. The continuity is in our invisible part, 2 Cor. 4:16 – 5:2.

Let’s look more closely at that very passage that you say Preterists avoid in Greek, especially verses 42-44:

“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”

Notice that this resurrection of the dead has a fourfold contrast:
It is sown in corruption (φθορά); it is raised in incorruption (ἀφθαρσία):
It is sown in dishonour (ἀτιμία); it is raised in glory (δόξα):
it is sown in weakness (ἀσθένεια); it is raised in power (δύναμις):
It is sown a natural (ψυχικός) body; it is raised a spiritual (πνευματικός) body.

I realize that the sticking point here – I will refrain from calling it a “trick” – is in that ψυχικός. But I want to first note that this sowing, described in fourfold aspect, is not at the time of death. A corpse, for instance, would not be characterized as “weak“, but lifeless. Further proof that Paul is not thinking of sowing as dying is the fact that he had earlier (vs. 36) distinguished the two, making one contingent upon – but not simultaneous with – the other.

But now, about this ψυχικός, “natural” or “soulish”, I think was your word for it:
You seem to be arguing that this is part of our continuity, that our ψυχικός part will not be destroyed, but restored. But this cannot be. All four of those things being sown – and I assume you see that they are all part of our fallen nature – are to be destroyed. To argue for the destruction of three, but the restoration of one is to be inconsistent. If (as you write later on) these “selfish, imperfect (physical) bodies” will be “restored as spiritual, perfect (physical) bodies” you do not have the ψυχικός being destroyed, but merely changing.

Does it stand to reason that, out of the four things being sown (all clearly bad), only three of them are to be destroyed or done away with, but the last merely restored?

Another argument that is made is the close relationship between ψυχικός and ψυχή (Spirit, spirit, breath, life, depending on context). But this is not a valid proof. I had written about this in my article earlier. Two words may have been related etymologically but diverged considerably in usage. And that is the case here. ψυχικός is to ψυχή (that is, “soul” is to “soulish“) as “self” is to “selfish“.

“Self”, like “soul”, has generally kept its good or neutral connotations. (“Save yourselves from this evil generation.”, etc.)

“Selfish” is like “soulish” in that they both share a worse connotation. They are both products of the Fall. ψυχικός is found here in the New Testament: 1 Cor. 2:14; 15:44 (twice); 46; James 3:15; Jude 10, 19. In all of these ψυχικός is shown to be undesirable, art of those things that have no part – even in reconstituted form – in the New Creation.

I believe the biggest initial obstacle for those considering what I am arguing for – a spiritual resurrection – is an unwillingness to think outside the body. Christ said that in the resurrection we “will be like the angels”. The fact that so many are against this is, I believe, because of a culturally inherited predisposition, not the biblical evidence.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
This is the last of my posts on M’s OP. My comments are in blue:

Quote Originally Posted by M 

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul does not speak of our physical, visible bodies being replaced by a spiritual, invisible bodies, as full preterism requires. What he speaks about is our selfish, imperfect (physical) bodies being restored as spiritual, perfect (physical) bodies.

The meaning that M is trying to overlay psuchichos with has been dealt with in my previous response.


What full preterism lacks is a hope for this world. It is an escape for the righteous, but ultimately an abandonment of what God once called ‘good’.


This is a common complaint against Preterism, easily refuted. First of all: Guilty as charged. Preterism does indeed “lack … a hope for this world”. The Bible has many proofs of this “lack”:


1Jn 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1Jn 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
1Jn 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
1Jn 2:18 Little children, it is the last time [lit. “last hour”]: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time [“hour”].


This passage has a twofold usefulness for Preterism:

1. It shows (once again) the shortness of the time just before the Parousia. It is unfathomable that we should go from “last hour” in the 60s to “last couple of millennia”. There comes a point when stretching a word just becomes embarrassing. Or so I would think.The world was already spoken of as “passing away” in that “last hour”. But timing is off topic here…

2. It shows that this world was not (past tense) what God was trying to save. He was rather saving His own out of the world.

“Abandonment of what God once called ‘good'”? Well, God called the dinosaurs “good” too, and trilobites, and the whole pre-flood eco-system. All of these were … “abandoned“. So was the whole Jewish system of worship, the Old Covenant. These were all good in their time, and according to their own purpose.

In a manner of speaking, God has turned his back on his creation. Full preterism does believe people are still saved in this world, but this world will perpetually suffer the effects of sin. Sin will abound unendingly, and God will do nothing to permanently overturn it. The problem is left unresolved.


Resolved it is. Perhaps not to your satisfaction, but the issue is fully – and in an ongoing manner, as you mentioned – resolved.

Jesus’ work on the cross was the beginning of the restoration of the world. The age to come manifests itself through his Church, through the springing to life people experience as they hear and believe in the gospel. The future resurrection broke through into the present age with Jesus being raised from the dead. And this future resurrection, which we still await, is going to be God’s great way of restoring humanity to its original intent, to live in this world according not to our own souls, but to his spirit.

@@@@@All comments from here on are mine, should be in blue. I am noot happy with Word Press in their making it so difficult to correct.@@@@@@@

No, this is not the original intent, not precisely. The original intent is – well, let’s just quote Scripture…

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:”

There was a down-payment of that intent in Creation, of course, and a further realization in the new creation (the new creature) as we turn to the Lord. We went from mere God-consciousness to (at least degree of) Christlikeness.

Much more could be said about this, and the part the Parousia plays here, but I want to finish up with some comments on this chapter in Corinthians, getting back to things you touched upon.

I brought up Christlikeness because that is an essential topic of 1 Corinthians 15. I suppose it is obvious to say that a Christian enjoys two stages of it. God’s Spirit working in us produces a certain degree of it, but after this life we will have much more of it.

In the chapter we have a series of contrasts between the new life and the old, the things we will become contrasted to those things we are being saved from. Those good qualities of the new creature (v. 42-44) are: incorruption, glory, power, spiritual. Then we read about the originators of the two classes, Adam and Christ. Adam “became a living being”. Christ, “a life-giving Spirit.” KJV unhelpfully provides “became“, which is not at all the point.

Then we come to a very important, oft-overlooked, detail. Overlooked in application, the origins of these two persons. (Skipping v. 46 for this post):

“The first man is of the earth (ἐκ γῆς), earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven (ἐξ οὐρανοῦ) .”

This passage is a continuation of verse 40: somata epigeia and somata epourania now become “ek ges” and “ex ouranou”. This preposition (ek, ex – the forms only differ because of euphonics) shows origin. Adam came from the earth, from the dust. This brings to mind the very passage from Genesis. The “Second Adam” came from heaven. Note: In both cases, the origins determine the essence of who these two are – and (v. 48) the essence of their “followers”.

Verse 49 says that “we shall [or “let us”] bear the image of the heavenly man” (the Second Adam, from heaven).

Now here is the Preterist application:

We shall be like Christ.
And what is Christ like – according to this passage? He is like He was when He came to Earth. He is spiritual.
Was Christ fleshly before he came here to Earth? No. He was pure Spirit.
We – according to this passage – will also be like Him.
Pure spirit.

We cannot have part Adam’s essence (“dust”) and part Christ’s, seeing that we could not then “enter into the Kingdom of God”. “Dust” has to do with “flesh and blood”, not spirit.

BTW, the next few verses (I realize that this was not part of the OP) have an interesting relation to John’s book of Revelation. I believe that Paul was consciously drawing upon it here. Consider these cross-references:

“Last trump” (1 Cor. 15:52 – Rev. 10:7; 11:15, seventh trumpet)
“mystery” (1 Cor. 15:51 – Rev. 10:7)
“Kingdom transfer (1 Cor. 15:24-28 – Rev. 11:15).

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Clement’s Epistle to the Corinthians Written Pre-AD70

About the dating of Clement: I first began to rethink the dating of his epistle when I encountered some articles touting this earlier date. Then I read Clement’s actual Epistle more carefully, paying close attention to the Greek. I am now totally convinced of an earlier, pre-AD70 date, and that on several counts.
Notice especially the following:

Clem 5:1 – 6
But, to pass from the examples of ancient days, let us come to those champions who lived nearest [ENGISTA] to our time. Let us set before us the noble examples which belong to our generation. By reason of jealousy and envy the greatest and most righteous pillars of the Church were persecuted, and contended even unto death. Let us set before our eyes the good Apostles.

He goes on to describe the exemplary testimonies and martyrdoms of Peter and Paul. Notice that he uses the word “nearest“. If he was writing in the 90s, a generation later, he would not have used that term. But, on the contrary, he refers to them as “belong[ing] to our generation.” This definitely does not fit if written in the 90s. There certainly were other persecutions, other noble examples, that would have precluded Clement’s use of the superlative here. On the face of it, a person reading this letter – if he wasn’t tainted by other “authorities” – would think that Clement was writing about a very recent example. This fits very well with Clement’s letter being before AD70.

In Clem 40:1 – 5 he speaks of the Jewish ministrations as still being current. The Temple is still standing. Note especially the last section.
They therefore that make their offerings at the appointed seasons are acceptable and blessed: for while they follow the institutions of the Master they cannot go wrong. For unto the high priest his proper services have been assigned, and to the priests their proper office is appointed, and upon the Levites their proper ministrations are laid. The layman is bound by the layman’s ordinances.

The next section has this. Note here, once again, we have a series of present tenses:
Not in every place, brethren, are the continual daily sacrifices offered, or the freewill offerings, or the sin offerings and the trespass offerings, but in Jerusalem alone. And even there the offering is not made in every place, but before the sanctuary in the court of the altar; and this too through the high priest and the afore said ministers, after that the victim to be offered hath been inspected for blemishes. They therefore who do any thing contrary to the seemly ordinance of His will receive death as the penalty. Ye see, brethren, in proportion as greater knowledge hath been vouchsafed unto us, so much the more are we exposed to danger.

Perhaps the most telling evidence that this was written pre-AD 70 is not what what Clement wrote, but what he didn’t write. Supposedly his epistle here was written two or three decades after the cataclysmic fall of Jerusalem. Yet he makes no mention of the fact, though he writes much of the actual worship of the Jews. This all fits if we realize that Clement was describing the Jerusalem of his time – before the day of doom came to the worshipers of the old dispensation.
Likewise there is no mention of the Millennium – as a thousand year reign –  to come. It is my contention that that teaching was a much later one, resorted to when the overwhelming majority of Christian writers in earlier decades were no longer around to give their voice. The teaching on the Millennium is just one of several teachings that were creeping into the church.

Another teaching that crept into the church was a slow relapse into a Jewish concept of the Kingdom of God, with a visible return and reign of a visible, physical Jesus. These were all mistaken doctrines that Christ and His inspired Apostles had spoken clearly against.

The ages have not been kind to this original, spiritual concept of the Kingdom of God. Religious wars have been fought in the very name of Christ – using the very swords that Christ told to leave in the scabbard. His Kingdom is not of this world, but traditional Christianity has made it very much of this world.

As I have time I hope to add to this article other details of Clement’s epistle. Some have to do with further proof of the early date for the letter. Others have to do with underscoring some of the memorable lines from this work. Although it is not inspired, yet it is worthy of greater attention than has been given to it. It is a labor of tested and matured Christian faith – probably (in my opinion, at least) the same Clement mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

There are passages of great power and encouragement:

“How blessed and marvelous are the gifts of God, dearly beloved! Life in immortality, splendor in righteousness, truth in boldness, faith in confidence, temperance in sanctification! And all these things fall under our apprehension. What then, do you think, are the things preparing for them who are patiently waiting for Him? The Creator and Father of the Ages, the All-holy One Himself knows their number and their beauty!”

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“In that Day”. Don’t look to the future. Live in the Present in His power.

The following post was in response to the usual futurist comment that Zechariah 13-14 speaks of future cataclysm and the Great Tribulation and a visible, physical coming of Christ.
My answer:
 
Are you sure? Take a look at some of the other events of this Day:
 
Zech 13:
1 “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.
 
This happened at Calvary. In fact there are several cross-references elsewhere from Zech. that tie directly with the Cross, most notably the spear that pierced Christ’s side.
 
2 “It shall be in that day,” says the LORD of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land.
 
Do the Jews “remember” their idols today? No, they don’t. This clearly cannot be future.
 
And the sheep will be scattered;” Says the LORD of hosts.
 
Specifically quoted in the Gospels on the night of Gethsemane.
 
“Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.”
 
Fulfilled in the Book of Acts, when the general persecution of Christians started.
 
These are just a few of the references from Zech. 13. More could easily be found that show that this Day is not some future event, but has its roots in God’s dealing with the 1st-century Jews, and with His inaugurating the “Nation born in a day”, the Zion of God, the Church, which includes Jews and Gentiles.
 
There were actually two fountains opened in this Day: the one mentioned here in Zechariah, the blood of Christ for our cleansing. There is also the imagery of the Living Water, the Holy Spirit, springing forth from the very place where God was satisfied, the Temple. This is the water that comes up from the Temple in the last chapters of Ezekiel. Christ told His disciples that those who believe in Him will have this ling water springing from their innermost being.
 
There we have it, the Holy Spirit’s, life-giving power, both corporately and personally prefigured.
 
Both these fountains come from Christ, His death on the Cross. This is the purpose of the water and blood flowing from His pierced side.
 
Futurists have a choice:
They can either wait and fixate on literal fulfillments that will never come – or they can draw strength and encouragement from the spiritual truth from these all-too-often neglected passages of blessings and empowerment we have right now to live as citizens in a very present Kingdom.
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A Conversation on AW Tozer’s Teaching

Examining especially chapter five of his “I Call it Heresy”

Like all the Tozer articles so far, this is from 2006. I resisted (mostly)  the urge to update and modify, since this was an actual conversation. I would have, for instance, added Henry Blackaby and David Wilkerson to that list of “like-minded teachers”.

Please note first of all that “Heresy” is the word in Tozer’s own title, not mine. The following is from an Internet discussion with a colleague on A.W. Tozer (name changed). His (B.R.’s) comments are in gray. Tozer’s are in green italics. My comments are in blue, my older comments light blue.

Thank you, B.R, for taking the time in response to my post. I will take it in the spirit intended. I certainly am aware that I can take things personally, as in my being rebuffed both at the Highway and Mountain Retreat. I can’t pretend that I am impervious to that. So, look you implied, I need to examine my critiques in the light of that. I also need to perhaps be clearer that it is not only Tozer that I am “attacking” but a wider, prevalent mindset of like-minded teachers (Oswald Chambers, Selwyn Hughes, etc).

On the other hand, I hope you will consider some of the things brought up below. I do believe that we see the importance of this issue differently, and perhaps we also differ on why this is important.

Most of this post has to do with the chapter in Tozer that you mentioned. I used that one since you brought it up. I thought I had read it (but under a different title, “I Talk Back to the Devil” Studies on 1 Peter), but I found it online and reread that chapter. Since it was one you recommended – with some reservations – I thought it would be a good source to bring out some of his beliefs using what is considered to be one of his better chapters.

But first the other comments. I had written:

> I plan to have a series of articles on A.W. Tozer, a writer whose
> credibility is greatly bolstered by Reformed writers who quote him
> but – apparently – don’t read him. Looking beyond the pleasing
> quotes, we find considerably less than what we had come to expect
> in the actual teachings of Tozer. Yes, he has good comments on much
> of what the church needs.

B.R. answered:
“Reformed writers do recognise that Tozer wasn’t reformed, just as they do recognise that John Wesley and D.L. Moody were not reformed. Yet like you said in your last sentence above, these latter do sometimes have “good comments on much of what the church needs”.”

I respectfully differ on this. 1. Some Reformed writers view him as “almost Reformed”. 2. Others view his stance as being irrelevant. Yet good comments on what the church needs need to be followed up with Biblical solutions, else they only exacerbate the problem. By quoting Tozer, implied consent to Tozer’s solutions is given. Yet Tozer’s solutions for the problems of our church (see below) are not Biblical – since they marginalize the Bible – , and are in fact dangerous for the church.

“So just because Reformed writers quote Tozer does not mean that they endorse or approve his questionable theology. They simply want to give credit where credit is due in some of his views.”

His theology is not only questionable. In many instances it is severely damaging. There are parallels between his theology and Pelagius. It is ironic that some today who speak so well of Augustine would at the same time make allowance for one whose theology was anathema to Augustine.


“Just because, Reformed Christians quote Tozer does not mean that they believe Christianity should be based on “sound bites”. Quoting Christian writers, reformed or not, has never been seen as a subsitute for sound theology.”

> Tozer articles:
> Tozer and Calvinism
> : Why is there this blind spot among so many Reformed writers
> concerning Tozer and Calvinism? Look past the quotes to the actual
> teachings of this “minor prophet”.

“Tom, I don’t think there really is a “blind spot” regarding Tozer. Some Reformed Christians simply appreciate *some* of the things he has written and nothing more. I appreciate chapter 5 of his book, “I Call It Heresy!” where he defends Lordship salvation. Sure they are reformed writers who give a much better presentation of that topic (e.g. Kenneth Gentry and John MacArthur), but Tozer’s book is a good tool for those in his theological camp to be taught that topic (who would otherwise shun reformed writers).”

The last sentence there makes it seem that you see Tozer as being somewhat Reformed, B.R. My understanding is that, there is no “otherwise” involved: Rather, those who read this fifth chapter, as I just did again, have had no exposure to Reformed theology.

BTW, those who want to check out the chapter that was referred to can read it, as well as the rest of “I Call It Heresy!”, here:

www.theboc.com

I thought it might be good to take a closer look at this chapter. First Tozer writes about the authority of the Word of God, a good start:

“So, we are not forced to obey in the Christian life, but we are forced to make a choice at many points in our spiritual maturity.

We have that power within us to reject God’s instruction – but where else shall we go? If we refuse His words, which way will we turn? If we turn away from the authority of God’s Word, to whose authority do we yield? Our mistake is that we generally turn to some other human – a man with breath in his nostrils.

I am old-fashioned about the Word of God and its authority. I am committed to believe that if we ignore it or consider this commandment optional, we jeopardize our souls and earn for ourselves severe judgment to come.”

Tozer goes on to describe of the need for holiness. Describing it in a Biblical way at first … but then veering off elsewhere. He goes on to describe this holiness as that “special quality and mysterious Presence [which] is morally right and walking in all the holy ways of God”.

The problem is how he exemplifies this:

“By way of illustration, remember that Moses possessed these marks and qualities when he came down from the mount. He had been there with God 40 days and 40 nights – and when he came back everyone could tell where he had been. The lightning still played over his countenance, the glory of the Presence remained. This strange something which men cannot pin down or identify was there.”

“I lament that this mysterious quality of holy Presence has all but forsaken the earth in our day.”

Now I ask you, is this an accurate assessment for him to make? If you would read the large body of Tozer’s works you would know that those who most exemplify that “numinous” “holy presence” and “mysterious fire” – in Tozer’s thinking – are none other than the RCC mystics! These are the ones he refers to 15- 16 times in “Knowledge of the Holy” alone. So when Tozer refers to “holiness” he is not referring ultimately to Biblical holiness. He only uses that definition to set up his own specialized definition.

Sure, he is big on Lordship. So was Pelagius – to such an extent, and writing so sweetly of our need for God’s grace, that even Augustine was at first taken in. That Irish monk (Pelagius) when he arrived in Rome, was rightly incensed at the moral laxity and – outright wickedness, in some cases – of many who claimed to be saints. Though his diagnosis was good, his cure was deadly. There is a parallel here, to some degree at least.

There is a subtle distinction in the holiness writings of people like Tozer (to this we can add devotionalists like Oswald Chambers, Selwyn Hughes, just to name a few):

1. Teachers of the Reformation like Calvin, Luther, etc. wrote overpoweringly about the holiness of God – and kept the focus on God Himself. Good for them! Thus our faith and hope is on God. We are constantly made to feel small in the presence, say, of Calvin’s or Owen’s God.

2. Tozer (and others mentioned, lest anyone think I am bashing one person) writes about the holiness of God as a quality or commodity that we need to have (which is true!). Yet he inevitably brings the focus on the quality itself. He points to the experience – and not (as in Calvin) – to the Person. And this is why he finds such validating resonance in the testimony of RCC mystics: Their experience echoes his own.

Back to Tozer:
“Theologians long ago referred to it as the numinous, meaning that overplus of something that is more than righteous, but is righteous in a fearful, awe inspiring, wondrous, heavenly sense. It is as though it is marked with a brightness, glowing with a mysterious fire.”

Later on he describes this numinous presence as the Shekinah glory and as the manifestation at Pentecost. Once again Tozer misteaches the evidence: emphasizing the “it” over the “Him” (but this is in line with his deeper life holiness influences).

“Then it came down again at Pentecost – that same fire sitting upon each of them – and it rested upon them with an invisible visibility. If there had been cameras, I do not think those tongues of fire could have been photographed – but they were there. It was the sense of being in or surrounded by this holy element, and so strong was it that in Jerusalem when the Christians gathered on Solomon’s porch, the people stood off from them as wolves will stand away from a bright camp fire. They looked on, but the Bible says “no one else dared join them” (Acts 5:13a).”

They did not stay away from the saints “as wolves … from a bright camp fire”. They stayed away because Almighty God, the Knower of hearts, killed the phonies (Ananias and Sapphira) from their midst! Tozer plays up the “it” again. Luke glorifies our God! Tozer merely zeroes in on experience.

“They stood away from Solomon’s porch because they had sensed a holy quality, a mysterious and holy Presence within this company of believers.”

Where do we see any of this in the Bible? We don’t. It is a crowning mark of both mystics and deeper life advocates that they emphasize experience supposedly from God over the Person and actual teaching (doctrine) of God. Tozer is true to both of these camps. He makes no mention of the judgment of God in killing two pretenders. “God is known by His judgments” (Psalm 9:16). He doesn’t mention it here, because it would interfere with his point that God would be known if only his saints would manifest His numinous mysterious presence – for which there is no verse.

“Later, when Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians to explain the mysterious fullness of the Holy Spirit of God, he said: “Some of you, when you meet together and you hear and obey God, know there is such a sense of God’s presence that the unbelievers fall on their faces and then go out and report that God is with you indeed.””

“Now, that kind of Presence emanates from God as all holiness emanates from God.”

Once again Tozer runs roughshod over the context. He quotes 1 Cor. 14:25 and, if the reader had not read the context, vss. 19- 25, he might grant Tozer his point. That context, however, is all about the usefulness of Biblical instruction, “prophesying” being used here in it’s more general sense of “forth-telling” (= “building up”). This is not about sharing a mysterious fire, but about sharing what God has taught from His Word! A point Tozer misses entirely.

For that matter, this entire book of Tozer’s, though it is said to be based on 1 Peter, is actually a loosely constructed exposition of Tozer’s method of holiness – using isolated texts from 1 Peter as suggestive illustration. He did the very same with the verse above from Exodus, Acts and 1 Corinthians.

Quoting further down in this chapter 5 still, Tozer, as he almost always does, drops the other shoe:

“I have met a few of God’s saints who appeared to have this holy brightness upon them, but they did not know it because of their humility and gentleness of spirit. I do not hesitate to confess that my fellowship with them has meant more to me than all of the teaching I have ever received. I do stand deeply indebted to every Bible teacher I have had through the years, but they did little but instruct my head. The brethren I have known who had this strange and mysterious quality and awareness of God’s Person and Presence instructed my heart.”

Here he downplays the Word of God. He says of “every Bible teacher” he has had – no exception -that they have essentially failed him! “Indebted”, yes, but “educated” (or, should we say, “initiated”) in the true sense, no. The ones who truly taught him – and (implied) should be teaching us – are “God’s saints who appeared to have this holy brightness upon them”. Elsewhere he makes clear who these “saints are: Teresa of Avila, Richard Rolle, Nicholas of Cusa, etc. a demonstrable “Who’s Who” of inveterate enemies of the true church (more on this in another post).

But notice what credentials Tozer looks for to prove that these saints should be followed: It is not “to the Word and to the Testimony (Isa. 8:20 – read the whole passage), not Acts 17:11. No. It is that they have a “”holy brightness”. Hmm, I seem to remember that somewhere (2 Cor. 11:14 – no mention of “holiness”, but it passes for that among those whose standard for it is not Bible-based).

“So, Peter reminds us that it is the Lord who has said: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).”

“First, bring your life into line morally so that God can make it holy; then bring your spiritual life into line that God may settle upon you with the Holy Ghost – with that quality of the Wonderful and the Mysterious and the Divine.”

I know that you agree with me, B.R, but I will say it for the benefit of others: This is backwards salvation. Essentially: “Be holy so that God can make us holy”. Of course Tozer would say I am misquoting him; by his “holiness” he means “deeper life”, “inner life”, etc. However, any Christian should know that we cannot “bring our life into line morally” (a phrase worthy of both Erasmus and Pelagius) without God first moving in us, opening our eyes (John 3:3), opening our ears (John 10:27), opening our hearts (Acts 16:14), “opening” our wills (John 1:13, Psalm 110:3).

Tozer misses all of this. His calls fall, not on deaf, but on dead, ears. He asks for those dead in sin to prepare themselves for God to save them – and chastens those who don’t respond. This is like berating a corpse for being dead.

So much for this book. Back to your comments, B.R:

“But I support your efforts to critique Tozer’s Arminian views. Just don’t undermine it by second guessing Reformed Christians who like to quote him. Don’t read too much into their absence of any serious qualifications about their Tozer Quotes (which they likely have).”

This is good advice. Thanks! That shouldn’t be the issue at all.

“It’s probable that they think that there are simply much bigger fish to fry when it comes to opposing serious error (e.g. Dave Hunt or Rick Warren, etc).”

Yet Tozer is getting to be a bigger and bigger fish than perhaps you realize. His appeal and credibility is across the board and he is being taught and alluded to more and more as the years pass by. And marketed: There is now available a “Works of A.W. Tozer” CD out with all of his writings and sermons. I think you underestimate this.

“So in regards to reformed Christians who do quote Tozer with approval, you need to analyze that on each particular case of why they do that, rather than by a sweeping generalization, or by an unsupported presumption that they have a “blind spot”.”

Granted.

“Also, I think you might be careful not to overstate your concerns about Tozer. If his theology is really as dangerous as you seem to think, then wouldn’t that have already been clearly point out by other reformed Christians years ago? Surely you cannot believe that you are the only one who is immune from having any “blind spots”?”

I am not responsible for what others see – or don’t see. I am responsible for speaking up for what I see. I know that that sounds pious and perhaps arrogant, but I think you understand what I mean. If I am wrong on Tozer and his type of theology, and if I am wrong in seeing it as a major danger, then let someone show me this from Scripture.

There is a name for that type of argument that you employ in that last sentence but I forget what it was. Anyhow, it is a logical fallacy. On the one hand, we are to respect and listen to our peers on these issues. On the other, we are not to stifle what we believe is a legitimate – and nagging – perception.

BTW, I have already had several emails from people who have thanked me, and quite agreed with the assessment. One of them even said that he wondered if he “was the only one” who saw things wrong with Tozer, and that no one seems to be writing against him.

Well, maybe no one writes against him because … well, no one writes against him.

Herd mentality works for sheep too.

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