Michael Boling – Thoughts from the Theocratic Kingdom (Vol. 2): Proposition 150

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In Proposition 150, George Peters states:

“The establishment of this Kingdom is not affected by the extent of Peter’s conflagration.”

In this proposition, Peters is referencing the previous proposition which discussed 2 Peter 3:10-13. For anyone who might have missed that discussion, here is the passage in question:

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

Apparently, some have tried to make the case that 2 Peter 3:10-13 is a nail in the coffin for the doctrine of the Kingdom as being outlined by Peters. Essentially, opponents are attempting to use a single proof-text as a means to suggest the entire doctrine must fall apart due to their interpretation of what the fire (i.e. conflagration) must represent in 2 Peter 3:10-13. It seems opponents question how a kingdom can be established in a place that has been “destroyed” by fire and completely laid bare. Peters explains in the below observation why this nail in the coffin claim falls way short of being sound biblical exegesis.

The most notable observation Peters presents in Proposition 150 is the following:

“If there is a passage which should be examined and explained according to “the analogy of faith,” it certainly out to be this one of Peter’s. The reason is apparent; it is the only passage of Scripture which our opponents allege as conveying an irreconcilable difficulty in the way of accepting what (as we have shown) is taught in the naked grammatical sense in Covenant and Prophecy, and what was unmistakably believed in by the primitive Church. To make a single passage overthrow the Jewish faith, the early Christian faith, and, above all, that constant harmony of Scriptural statement down to that point, and to make it the necessity for introducing a spiritualistic interpretation of preceding Scripture, is imposing too much upon one text and is violating the proportion due to the doctrine of the Bible. The rules given by Horne (Introd. vol. 1, p. 342, etc.), are worth of attention, and if applied will inevitably relieve our doctrine of the Kingdom from any alleged incubus said to be imposed by Peter. Surely when our doctrine of the Kingdom is founded in the oath-bound covenant given to David, is reiterated by prophets, is preached, etc., as Proposition after Proposition has proven, then it ought not to be set aside, or weakened, or condemned by one passage; then the passage assumed to be contradictory out to be explained in the light of the vast amount of testimony preceding it; then the lesser out to be interpreted by the greater, the more brief by the more extended, the doubtful by the plainly revealed.”

Until just recently, I had not been aware of “the analogy of faith” element of biblical hermeneutics. I came across this aspect while listening to a debate about hell between Chris Date (Rethinking Hell) and Len Pettis (Bible Thumping Wingnut). I believe it was Chris Date who mentioned “the analogy of faith.” To put it simply, “the analogy of faith” is the principle of biblical interpretation that all Scripture is in agreement with itself and thus there are no contradictions within the biblical corpus.

As Peters notes regarding the doctrine of the Kingdom, when one applies “the analogy of faith” hermeneutic to 2 Peter 3:10-13, any supposed problems for the doctrine of the Kingdom are easily addressed by noting the plethora of evidence found in Scripture that help us understand what the Apostle Peter is saying. It is vital when exegeting difficult passages to interpret those harder to understand passages in light of the more easily understood passages. This does not of course give us license to simply ignore difficult passages nor to avoid grappling with their meaning. What is being stated is 2 Peter 3:10-13 presents no problems for the doctrine of the Kingdom when this verse is understand within the greater context of Scripture. Peters does an excellent job in this observation of using the analogy of faith to demonstrate the consistency of Scripture and how that internal consistency reveals the 2 Peter 3 passage to be just another wonderful set of support for the doctrine of the Kingdom.

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Nick Batzig – Interpretive Indecisiveness

Doctrinal indecision is not a virtue. It is often the consequence of our sinful hearts and intellects. However, it may also simply be the inevitable consequence of the intellectual and spiritual progress that believers must make in their Christian lives. For instance, many new believers have not come to a settled position on the interpretation of Revelation 20:1-6–which is completely understandable. There are many fine theological nuances that belong to the Scriptural doctrine of the Trinity, doctrine of Christ, doctrine of man, doctrine of the church, doctrine of worship, doctrine of the sacraments and the doctrine of the last things. It takes time to develop a canonical and biblical theological understanding of the Scriptures in their systematic theological and redemptive historical relations. Acknowledging this is far different from encouraging doctrinal indecisiveness in the name of humility of virtue. It is no virtue to commend doctrinal indecision.

There is yet another dynamic to biblical interpretive indecision that we recognize–namely, how to handle those portions of Scripture that can be taken in a variety of ways that are in keeping with the context and the analogia fidei (i.e. the analogy of faith). I have been a pastor for close to a decade now and still struggle to come to a settled position on a number of passages of Scripture. One example of the sort of passage that I have in mind is that place in the Gospels where Jesus says of John the Baptist, “among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28). It is fairly straightforward what Jesus means when He speaks of the greatness of John. John was the last of the Old Testament prophets–the one who pointed to Jesus in the flesh–and was therefore “the greatest of those born among women.” What, however, did Jesus mean when he said, “the one who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he?”

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