Michael Boling – Thoughts from the Theocratic Kingdom (Vol. 2): Proposition 142

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In Proposition 142, George Peters states:

“The Kingdom being related to the earth (extending over it), and involving the res. of the saints (in order to inherit it), is sustained by the promise to the saints of their inheriting the earth.”

Peters begins to tie several previous assertions together in this proposition, noting that if a series of statements is true (which the previous propositions have been determined to be so), then a particular something sustains the saints inheriting the earth. This something is the covenanted promises made by God to His people throughout Scripture. Essentially, these covenant promises are God’s way of telling His people they can rest assured that what He says will take place will take place in the manner declared in those promises. When it comes to the Theocratic-David Kingdom, it will indeed be established on a renewed earth with the saints enjoying its fruits.

The most notable observation Peters presents in Proposition 142 is the following:

“This doctrine teaches us how to regard the various theories of inheritance, such as the third heaven idea, the central universe notion, the metaphysical heaven (of Good’s, etc.), which gives no place of existence, the spiritualist’s visible unfolding of the invisible, “the Sun our Heaven” (so Mortimore, Wittie, etc.), and the infidel’s no future inheritance. By overlooking the plainest promises and oath-bound covenants, or by spiritualizing them, men manufacture inheritances of their own. No matter that the inheriting of the earth was a favorite Jewish doctrine based on the Messianic prophecies and the predicted supremacy; when Jesus uttered this promise it must be modernized and accommodated to the supposed advanced theological opinions of this age, molded by the influence of some favorite philosophy. No matter that the Patriarchs are personally promised such an inheriting; that the saints, as part of a perfected Redemption, are to realize it; that a thousand predictions direct attention to it, the leaven of the old Gnostic spirit against matter and the claimed higher spirituality, deliberately refuses the plain grammatical sense, and substitutes another sense at the will of the interpreter.”

This is a powerful and important observation. I could unpack a great many things Peters has stated here, but I will focus on an unfortunate reality he has uncovered. That unfortunate reality is the tendency for theologians in particular but also laymen to completely ignore the plain reading of Scripture in order to insert man-made ideologies into the text. Now a good deal of conversation can be had about how to determine what is the plain reading of Scripture. Should every single part of Scripture be taken completely literally? Of course not as certain genre, most notably apocalyptic texts, are replete with symbolic imagery. With that said, even that symbolic imagery is rooted in something we can look back upon to inform our understanding.

When it comes to God’s covenant promises regarding the Theocratic-Davidic Kingdom, the manner in which it will be established, where it will be established, and who will inherit it, let’s just say what God had to say is plain as day. To insert man-made philosophy and ideologies into the text is intellectual dishonesty of the highest order. Unfortunately, the continued influence of Platonic and Gnostic beliefs provides the impetus for many theologians to lay claim to aberrant theology on a number of subjects. What is most unfortunate is a number of Platonic and Gnostic based beliefs become accepted doctrine, not because they are rooted in Scripture, but simply because enough theologians have held sway over the years in support of such notions. It is high time those who declare sola Scriptura actually adhere to that declaration. In doing so, they may find what the have held dear when it comes to theology might need some serious adjustments.

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Michael Kruger – Five Myths About the Ancient Heresy of Gnosticism

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In the world of biblical studies, at least among some critical scholars, Gnosticism has been the darling for sometime now. Especially since the discovery of the so-called “Gnostic Gospels” at Nag Hammadi in 1945, scholars have sung the praises of this alternative version of Christianity.

Gnosticism was a heretical version of Christianity that burst on the scene primarily in the second century and gave the orthodox Christians a run for their money. And it seems that some scholars look back and wish that the Gnostics had prevailed.

After all, it is argued, traditional Christianity was narrow, dogmatic, intolerant, elitist, and mean-spirited, whereas Gnosticism was open-minded, all-welcoming, tolerant and loving. Given this choice, which would you choose?

While this narrative about free-spirited Gnosticism being sorely oppressed by those mean and uptight orthodox Christians might sound rhetorically compelling, it simply isn’t borne out by the facts. So, here are five claims often made about Gnosticism that prove to be more myth than reality:

Myth #1: Gnosticism was more popular than traditional Christianity.

Time and again we are told that Gnostics were just as widespread as orthodox Christians, and that their books were just as popular too (if not more so). The reason they did not prevail in the end is because they were oppressed and forcibly stamped out by the orthodox party who had gained power through Constantine.

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Peter Dietsch – Gnosticism Versus Christianity

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In the sermon this past Sunday, I spoke of the danger of the encroachment of certain Gnostic beliefs upon the Church and the Christian faith. Specifically, we addressed the Gnostic tendency toward a disdain for the physical nature of things. In the sermon, I quoted from a book called, Against the Protestant Gnostics by Philip J. Lee concerning the Gnostic disdain of the sacraments. In that book, Lee describes Gnosticism as its own religion – a religion of despair, elitism, and syncretism.

After the sermon, I received a couple of questions about Gnosticism and what other beliefs are associated with this heresy. And, I suppose defining Gnosticism as a religion of despair, elitism, and syncretism is a bit too general. So, to better answer those questions, I thought I would provide a brief overview of the main points of the second chapter from Lee’s book, “Gnosticism as Heresy.”

Lee enumerates six contrasts between the teachings of Gnosticism and the Christian faith:

(1) An alienated humanity (Gnosticism) versus a good creation (Christianity)

The Bible insists that the creation was well made. At the end of each day of creation in Genesis 1, God saw that it was good. At the end of the sixth day, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Even despite the effects of the fall and the curse of sin and death, Christians still affirm that the created order retains some portion of that goodness with which it began.

Gnosticism, on the other hand, “simply cannot endorse that positive vision of the Creation…The basic issue is clear: gnosticism must deny any direct link between the Creation and God” (Lee, p 16). As a result of this line of thinking, God does not have any contact with the created order, Christ as our Savior could not have a true body, and Gospel accounts of the New Testament become allegorical myths.

(2) Knowledge that saves (Gnosticism) versus Knowledge of Mighty Acts (Christianity)

The Bible gives an account of the mighty, salvific acts of God: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2). In the Scriptures, we have several things linked together: God the Father and God the Son, the Old and New Covenant, history and nature, the saving acts of God in the history of man.

In Gnosticism, salvation is not based upon a knowledge (and trust in) the mighty acts of God, but rather what Lee calls “”the imaginative treatment of a private vision.” According to Gnostic teaching, “To know Christ was not in any sense to have knowledge about the ‘historical man of flesh and blood’ but rather to be personally related to the mythical heavenly being who liberates humanity from historical concerns” (Lee, p 20). The Scriptures, then, are discounted as history and reinterpreted as a spring-board for speculation.

(3) Salvation through escape (Gnosticism) versus salvation through pilgrimage (Christianity)

Based in the history of God’s people in the Old Testament, the New Testament sees human existence – particularly the existence of the redeemed people of God – as a lifelong pilgrimage. The Apostle Paul writes, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

For the Gnostic, “Knowledge of God required the exact opposite, a turning away from this world” (Lee, p 23). Because a person is essentially spirit, according to the Gnostic, man must realize that he does not belong in the cosmos – in this creation. He must escape his earthly existence. Thus, because the knowledge of God is thought to be pure only when it is unencumbered by time, place, or any other tangible ensnarement – such knowledge of God requires a total escape from the world.

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