On my Facebook page, I recently posted a link to one of my articles on Postmillennialism . com. In that article I was responding to amillennial challenges to postmillennialism. One erstwhile Christian engaged me on the matter. What do you think about this interchange? I would be interested to hear your comments.
Critic: Why is this important Ken? What purpose does it actually serve, except to codify in some self satisfying way, one opinion over another. And they are all coming at it from the same texts of course, The Bible. If those ideas were not already so nebulous in scripture, you wouldn’t be having this discussion.
Gentry: It matters because the Bible matters. Theological reflection from the Bible is the very foundation to the Christian life.
Critic: ‘Theological reflection,’ is just another term for things some humans have surmised about scripture; to then argue over with other humans who have surmised completely different things from the same scriptures. Being fully present in a relationship with the living Christ is the very foundation of a Christian’s life, not theological speculations. And whatever the answer is in regards to that article, it doesn’t matter one bit in the eternal scheme of things, not one bit! Your first statement is a straw man. When people engage in armchair theological speculations, it isn’t because the Bible itself matters…it is because their opinions ABOUT the Bible matter. And that is what this stuff is actually all about.
Gentry: But how do you know that being fully present in a relationship with the living Christ is the very foundation of a Christian’s life? And what does that mean? You are extremely naive if you think you just open the Scripture and feel the Spirit. And theological reflection DOES matter in the eternal scheme of things. What one believes about Christ determines his eternal destiny.
Critic: Yes, but not whether one is pre-mid or post, doesn’t decide anything I believe about Christ. And I don’t need a theological disposition of John 3:16, or many other scriptures which talk of personal relationship with Christ. You are drawing arbitrary distinctions, theological reflection matters only when you are reflecting on an issue of real importance. To say because you feel that it is important, makes it so, just proves my original point. What one believes about Christ is eternal yes, but again you engage in an case of special pleading, equating that absurd article with eternal concepts concerning Christ, ignoring the glaring fact that one has not one thing to do with another. Whether one believes in a rapture, pre, mid, post trib…means nothing at all in regards to salvation. So your argument would have had more integrity, if you hadn’t tried to equate such an absurd and meaningless article about nothing…with The Son of God.
Gentry: Yes you DO need theological reflection on John 3:16. Who is this ‘God’ that loves the world? And what does it mean that ‘he gave his only Son?’ What does it mean to ‘believe’ in him? Apparently not the same thing as in John 8:30. For in John 8:31-41 these believers want to kill him. And what does it mean to ‘have’ everlasting life in the present? These are theologically-determined issues.
Besides, is the only thing a Christian is to believe about Christ? Then why is the Bible so big? How can you say what the Bible teaches about the future is not important? I thought all Scripture was inspired by God . . . and profitable. Apparently only those statements that deal with the individual’s salvation (whatever salvation means apart from theological reflection) are important.
Critic: Again Ken, you are misrepresenting my words. I said pre, post stuff is unimportant, which is obviously true, since it is a totally unanswerable question. I am not even sure it is worthy of asking… a waste of human energy. And the John 3:16 statement you made…I respond: If I only believed in Christ as my Savior, and knew nothing about the Greek words used, or how extensive the word is, or analogies to other scriptures…I would still go to Heaven. God won’t reject us for not having our definitions correct, only for what we did in regards to Christ. Are you a Calvinist? Calvinists have this deep seated need to have all their doctrinal ducks all in a pretty row. The problem with it of course, is that they are all dead ducks.
Gentry: You also said: “‘Theological reflection,’ is just another term for things some humans have surmised about scripture.” But to even talk about God giving his Son requires immense theological reflection. You can’t read this statement to someone unacquainted with Christianity and expect them to understand the theological backdrop necessary to give John 3:16 meaning. Again I ask: Who is this God? Tell me this without theology. Who is his Son? I know who my two sons are, but what do we mean about the Son of God? Are the Mormons correct: God physically co-habitated with Eve to produce many sons, one of whom was Jesus? What does it mean that God sent him — to the post office? And why did God send him — was he on vacation? To understand the very basics of John 3:16 requires theology. And that theology is derived from Scripture — the same place eschatological issues are found.
And do you really think there is no debate even over the meaning of John 3:16 among Christians? Do you really think all Christians understand it in the same way?
You have a theology, though you don’t want to admit it, though you are trying to hide it. I even bet you are a Trinitarian Christian. I imagine you have a view of Scripture that holds that it is the Word of God, perhaps a view that holds it is infallible. And if you do, you are doing theology, you are thinking in doctrinal categories. Even though you don’t want others to think more broadly about Scripture in doctrinal or theological categories.
Do you believe the book of Revelation was inspired by God? Do you believe God expects us to strive to understand it (Rev 1:3)? Do you believe Jesus wasted his disciples’ time giving them the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24-25), because it deals with “unimportant” things about their future? Are you “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13)? Or is any discussion about this “unimportant”?
No more was said. And thank goodness. It makes me appreciate “the sounds of silence.” Now I understand how “silence is golden.” This interchange saddened me about the current level of theological understanding among contemporary, pop Christianity. Yet, we must press on! We have much work to do! And again I ask: What are your thoughts about this interchange?