Postmillennialist’s View of Brian McLaren
Brian McLaren has the philosophy of the liberal postmillennialists who sees the goal of the church to impact the globe and bring in the kingdom. McLaren has contextualized the message of the gospel as well as the lifestyle of Christianity. McLaren’s gospel is social. He desires to save the planet rather the individual sinner.
“African and African American Christians (Black theology) and Latin American Christians (liberation theology, integral missiology) have been hitting these themes with intelligence and passion for decades, but few of us listened to their spokespeople, whether it was Dr. King or Desmond Tutu, Gustavo Gutierrez or Rene Padilla. Eco-feminist theology—articulated by authors like Sallie McFague and Mary Grey….In many ways all of these voices echo what earlier Christian leaders (from Charles Finney to Walter Rauschenbusch…had been saying: the modern Western understanding of the gospel was too often truncated, shallow, thin, bland, anemic, privatized, personalized, polarized, and compromised” ( Brian McLaren. An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, Church Emerging: Or Why I Still Use the Word Postmodern but with Mixed Feeling. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007, 147-148).
Covenant postmillennialist, Loraine Boettner, provides the theological basis for postmillennialism and an example of allegoralizing the millennial passage of Isaiah 11:6 which predicts that in the future kingdom, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb.” Here is how Boettner allegoralizes this prophecy for Israel: “A fitting example of the wolf dwelling with the lamb is seen in the change that came over the vicious persecutor Saul of Tarsus, who was a wolf ravening and destroying, but who was so transformed by the Gospel of Christ that he became a lamb. After his conversion he lost his hatred for the Christians, and became instead their humble friend, confidant, defender” (Loraine Boettner, “Postmillennialism, in theThe Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, ed. Robert G. Clouse, Downers Grove, Il. InterVarsity Press, 1977, p. 90). Really, did Isaiah have the conversion of Saul of Tarsus in mind when he wrote to Israel in 700 B.C.?
Amillennialist’s View of R. C. Sproul
Replacement theology states that the church has replaced Israel in this age and is the New Israel to the point of saying that the two terms in the New Testament are interchangeable according to William E. Cox in his Amillennialism Today on pages 46-47.
R. C. Sproul formerly was amillennial but more recently has changed to preterism, which is sill very similar to amillennialism. This view is expounded in Sproul’s The Last Days according to Jesus. R. C. Sproul in the article, The People of God, does not believe in Replacement theology but that there has always been one people of God. In the O. T. it was Israel and in the N.T. it is the church who is the true Israel of God. His conclusion is the similar to Replacement Theology in that the church is not a separate people of God and all the OT promises to Israel must be allegorized to be fulfilled today by the church. Walvoord defines amillennialism in his introduction to Revelation 20: “The amillennial interpretation is essentially a denial that there will be a millennial reign of Christ after His second advent. It is amillennial or nonmillennial because it denies such a literal reign of Christ on earth” (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, page 284). Driscoll also sees only one people of God in his view of Covenant premillennialism.
Covenant Premillennialist’s View of Mark Driscoll
Mark Driscoll takes a mediating position. “The church is not Israel. Israel is an ethnicity, a nation, and a religious system. The church is none of these. When the Bible—Old and New Testaments—uses the term Israel, it always means a group of Jewish people, not the ‘ransomed people of God from every tribe and language and people and nation’ (Rev. 5:9), which is the church.” I totally agree. Driscoll goes on to refute Reformed theologians’ Replacement theology and also older, dispensationalist who believe in two different peoples of God which in Driscoll’s opinion “blur the distinction between Israel and church. But that negates the statements of God breaking down the dividing wall to form one new humanity” (Eph. 2:11-16).
Basically Driscoll’s view is Covenant Premillennialism which states there “is one people of God.” So today Israel and the church are one people of God. But in the future millennium “the Old Testament prophecies of a national restoration of Israel (Ezek. 36:22-38; Acts 1:5-7) will be fulfilled by racially Jewish Christians in the millennium” (Vintage Church, p. 58). This is where I part company with Driscol. In the millennium the Israel and the church will be distinct as they are today..
Premillennialist’s View of John MacArthur
MacArthur properly connects a literal or normal hermeneutic of separating Israel and the church in regard to his millennial view.
John MacArthur made this connection between Israel and hermeneutics in his controversial lecture, “Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinists Is a Premillennialist” at his Shepherd’s Conference at Grace Community Church on March 7, 2007.
What made MacArthur’s lecture controversial were the Reformed amillennarians present and several well-known amillennarians who were invited to speak at the conference by MacArthur.
When live-blogger Tim Challies posted his initial report about MacArthur’s lecture the blogosphere went nuts with e-mails: “Did you hear what MacArthur said about Calvinism?” “Did you hear what MacArthur said about amillennialism?” “Did you hear what he said about Calvin?” Here are some of MacArthur’s comments about Israel and literal hermeneutics.
“Now all that leads us to this: if you get Israel right you will get eschatology right. If you don’t get Israel right you will never get eschatology right. Never. And you’ll migrate from one view to another just depending on the last book you read or the last lecture you heard . . . . If you get eschatology right it’s because you get Israel right. You get Israel right when you get the Old Testament covenants and promises right. You get the Old Testament covenants and promises right when you get the interpretation of Scripture right. You get interpretation of Scripture right when you’re faithful to a legitimate hermeneutic and God’s integrity is upheld. Get your hermeneutics right, you’ll get the Old Testament promises right. Get promises right, you’ll get Israel right. Get Israel right, you’ll get eschatology right. The Bible calls God the God of Israel over 200 times. The God of Israel. There are over 2,000 references to Israel in Scripture, not one of them means anything but Israel. Not one of them, including Romans 9:6 and Galatians 6:16 which is the only two passages that amillennialists go to trying to convince us that that cancels out the other 2,000. There is no difficulty in interpreting those as simply meaning Jews who were believers; the Israel of God. Israel always means Israel, never means anything but Israel. Seventy three New Testament uses of Israel always mean Israel.
Arnold Fruchtenbaum presents a powerful refutation to the claim that terms Israel and the church are interchangeable in the New Testament when he states that the word Israel is used seventy-three times in the New Testament in Issues in Dispensationalism on page 118 and then proceeds to list all seventy-three references in the New Testament. When you read the seventy-three references to Israel, it is obvious that the two terms are not interchangeable. All of the seventy-three listings refer to ethnic Israel.