I need some help!

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Milkman | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Jan 24 2019 12:28 PM

I'm at a cross-roads. 

There are two thoughts going on in my head. 

  1.  I know where I stand regarding eschatology. I have changed my position during my Seminary years to what I hold now. However, my end time view has been largely shaped by professors, books and to a lesser degree the Bible. But I have NEVER studied either the Scripture or xtra biblical accounts of the end times in a thorough and complete manner. 
  2.  The other thought I have is one of conquer and destroy. I'm in debate right now with two brothers, literally. Both hold to pre-mill dispensation. I want to position my argument so they will see how "wrong" and "unbiblical" they are. Not very nice of me, but that's what's coursing through the brain. Can't they see how wrong they are? Also, not very humble of me. I want to get rid of that mindset of I'm right and your wrong.

I have this same attitude when talking with JW's. I know I'm right and they're wrong. But I don't want my meeting with them to be an in your face I told you so visit. I want to evangelize with humility and power of the Spirt.

So, if anyone can help in regards to what course of studying/reading/researching I can do then by all means let me know. 

Is it as simple as starting in Genesis and going right on to Revelation? Always keeping in mind "what does this passage or passages have to do with eschatology?" Can it be that simple? I want to know what I know from studying the full counsel. I have a ton of books on the subject, but I don't want to lean too much on what others say at this time. I want to figure it out by myself with the help of the Spirit and then go to my commentaries etc.

I don't want to hold to something simply because I read it in a book, but I want to hold to something because I read it in The Book.



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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jan 24 2019 12:42 PM

One suggestion is visiting Christian Discourse => https://www.christiandiscourse.net/ that has Bible Questions and Biblical Studies sub-forums along with Read Before You Register! and What is Christian Debate? where content of your thoughts can be discussed (since Faithlife forum guidelines desire avoidance of theological debates). Personally praying along with learning to speak the Truth in Love using kind words.

Counterpoint resources to consider => Three Views on the Rapture and => Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond that are included in Zondervan Counterpoints Series (34 vols.)

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J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jan 24 2019 12:45 PM

I wouldn't be too shy about reading about it from a non-biblical book. Of course you want to read what the Bible has to say first-hand, but a lot of arguments about what, say, Revelation means will be tied to contextual-like arguments that Revelation and the original audience (maybe) were presupposing and that a modern reader lacks. 

Maybe use a book or Logos to find out what the main texts are for discussions of eschatology and then familiarize yourself with those texts. For instance, read Revelation straight through, in a single sitting, for the next five days without any commentary. Then you can move on to do a deep study in your own position. Read maybe 3 of the best books you know of arguing for your position, then read a five-views type of debate/dialogue book, then read some monographs from the pre-mill side of the debate. Listening to what a book says about the topic shouldn't be much more different than listening to what your brothers say about the topic: weigh them critically, listen to them patiently.

As far your disposition goes: I can only say to put it in perspective (though that can be a lot easier said than done). Whether your brothers are dispensationalist or postmil or whatever isn't a salvation issue. It just shouldn't matter that much that it's causing you anxiety or anger (not that you said it was causing either of those things). I can see why more is at stake with JWs. Sometimes it can be hard to deal with disagreements with family members because there is a sense of pride involved or because we want and expect a greater degree of unity than with some stranger a few isles down the pew from us. If it's causing a rift in your family, just avoid that topic. You can still study it and come to your own conclusions.

P.S. David Powlison has a great book called "Good and Angry"

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J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jan 24 2019 12:51 PM

Online forums can be as much a curse as a blessing. You have to deal with people playing Google-scholar, people on the fringes of theology, reason, and sanity, that obsess over topic x in the forum, trying to argue with ten people at once etc. And yet here we are on an online forum of sorts ... Wink

I would say keep your head mostly in the published material where you're more likely to find quality, 'refereed' material. 

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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jan 24 2019 1:01 PM

One search idea is looking for the Headword of Jehovah (to find many encyclopedia articles)

{Headword Jehovah}

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jan 24 2019 3:37 PM

I have this same attitude when talking with JW's. I know I'm right and they're wrong.

Not a good starting point. Were you ever on a debate team? Every look into medieval obligationes (or it's Tibetan Buddhist cousin)? Maybe studied a bit of logic as game-theory? Okay, I can't remember the name of the Jewish equivalent and I am teasing at bit BUT ... What these all have in common is a standardize debating structure where you have to be able to argue either side of the issue. For your purposes, I'd actually think the best idea is your own:

Is it as simple as starting in Genesis and going right on to Revelation? Always keeping in mind "what does this passage or passages have to do with eschatology?" Can it be that simple? I want to know what I know from studying the full counsel.

For each passage do the following:

  • ask yourself, if I believed eschatology A, how would I interpret this passage? Repeat for B, C, ... If all interpret it the same way, go on to the next
  • for all the disagreements, collect the supporting information and the opposing information
  • then take the supporting and opposing statement and see which can be agreed up and which are subject to disagreement and why
  • go on to the next passage and start again

Get comfortable enough with the material to be able to argue a side you don't agree with. Then when discussing the topic with those you wish to trounce because they're obviously idjits, you can anticipate their responses and counter them before they have a chance to use them AND you know the key underlying differences you need to change for them to come to your, obviously correct, position.

See - just a simple application of Jewish/Tibetan Buddhist/ Medieval Christian game theory logic. I'm sure that Islam and Hinduism must have an equivalent that I'm not able to name.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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William McFarland | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jan 24 2019 3:59 PM

MJ has some excellent points about debate so I'll come at this from a different angle from my own walk.

Your brothers's problem is not strictly an eschatological one but hermetical. Dispensationists (of which I once was) have their own particular way of interpreting scripture and that is where the real issue will lie and where any successful engagement will need to begin. When I became reformed I waited two years before I even began to address eschatology (many more immediate concerns needed to be worked through first) but once I did it was much easier to see and evaluate the different approaches. So, I would suggest that instead of trying to argue a particular eschatology a better approach would be to first work on the understanding and interpretation of scripture.

AND, MJ is right, be able to argue your brothers's position better than they can themselves.

Happy hunting.

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Fred Chapman | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jan 24 2019 4:07 PM

2 Tim 2:22-25 

Titus 3:9 

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jan 24 2019 4:57 PM

Think back to how and when you changed your mind on this. Do you think someone coming to you at a time well before you entered the process of changing your mind, with the attitude of "I'm right and he's wrong and I've got to convince him of this", would have been effective to you given where you were at the time? No? Then think of why you feel you need to change these brothers' minds. What would be so awful about letting that process occur in its own time in their lives, if it's going to at all? You could drop some suggestions to them to explore stuff on their own, but "conquer and destroy" does not seem a good approach.

We are not saved by having the right eschatology. So can you be comfortable with letting them be wrong on this and not being worried about their eternal security?

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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jan 24 2019 10:26 PM

Personally want to Love God first with everything in me, which enables me to love one another as God Loves Star

Best "evangelism" is Loving individuals as God Loves (use words if needed).

Thankful can pray plus listen with desire for words that the Holy Spirit can use to convict.

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Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 2 2019 4:55 PM


Not an expert, but I have seen many discussions in Christian Discourse to note some patterns:

1 What are the intentions of the persons holding the positions?

Genuine concern for the other person's well being and destiny, or economic and power motivated defense of an indoctrinated construct by a particular group?

Are you dealing with church members or outreach disciples? how about you? where do you stand?

Usually persons with a genuine interest on sheep's destiny, and moving under the banner of Jesus Christ are better at softening hard stances that make no sense.

2 Who of you 3 has the best articulation of the doctrine? One easy way I have seen to show major problems with doctrine is when a masterful writer explains concisely and clearly the doctrine with Bible based support and applications / consequences. Then you can explore what they have to say and check with Scripture if parts and the whole jibe with the Bible.

3 Learning from books and teachers, etc. is not wrong if they are genuinely directed by the Holy Spirit to some essential truth in the doctrine as per the Bible and / or the nature and character of God.

4 most of the time, persons holding positions have a fault in some standard, there could be a reason why their theological construct is invalid:

5 In Eschatology there are precise events that are prophesied, and they have not happened (ever in history), then why do some make them allegorical, when the other passages they do literal (selective interpretation method to fit their eiseiesis is obviously a major fault).

6 interpreting a passage synchronically, without taking into account what the whole counsel of God has to say about the topic (diachronically), is a source of much misinterpretation.

7 what is their position on epistemology, and ontology? if you start with wrong assumptions, most likely you will arrive at wrong conclusions.

There are many resources that compare the different positions, and one can check against the Bible, and against different tradition interpretation.

Some times traditions have gaps in their constructs, so you may have to borrow from other traditions to fill it.

My worst analogy for the problem:

before mixed martial arts (octagon ultimate fighting), every martial art thought they were the ultimate, with the passing of time and tested in real action, a mix of the best of each turns out to be where it is at.

It would be scary to have a similar situation with the doctrine of eschatology, because this is about important events very related to destiny.

We need to try to get to the best conjecture possible given the evidence that we have, and the contextual situation in which the historical order is moving to see which construct best fits the facts.

Hope this helps a bit.

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