Academic Christianity vs. Popular Christianity

Before we look at specific belief systems and teachings about the Bible, we must consider the difference between the two most prominent subcultures within the larger Christian culture—academic Christianity and popular Christianity.

From an anthropological standpoint, all cultures contain two main divisions—high culture and popular culture. High culture is typically made up of the wealthiest and most educated segment of the population. These people appreciate the finer things in life—things like expensive wine, fine dining, classical music, formal attire, and so forth. The high culture is a minority among the culture, yet it carries a majority of the power and influence. Alongside the high culture exists the popular culture (or pop-culture), which contains a majority of the population and describes in general ways what is popular among the majority. So those who are immersed in pop-culture tend to listen to the music on the radio and pay attention to the biggest new movies. They eat at chain restaurants and shop at chain stores. A third group, called folk culture, often emerges as a reaction to the popular culture. But instead of joining the high culture, they separate from the norm in their own fashion. They pride themselves on making counter-cultural decisions. For example, they may be vegan, birth their babies at home, decide not to vaccinate their children, and follow independent music and movies that rarely show up in the mainstream. The differences between these three groups are significant, yet they are all part of the overarching culture.

The culture inside the Church also contains these three elements. Popular Christianity is the culture of the majority of Christians. In the United States, it includes things like Veggie Tales, WWJD bracelets, and pop-Christian music. The folk element within popular Christianity prefers less mainstream music and makes small attempts to pull away from the Christian pop-culture, but for our purposes here, it is essentially a subcategory of popular Christianity. When it comes to theology and the Bible, popular Christianity takes a very rigid view of truth.

By contrast, Academic Christianity, which is comprised primarily of theologians and intellectuals, has a high value for theological conversation and debate. Some well-known modern theologians like N.T. Wright and Gordon Fee have crossed-over into the pop-culture circle and are being read by non-academics. Hundreds of other theologians in the academic circle are speaking and writing in the language of academia, and their material never crosses over into the pop-culture. Not surprisingly, members of these two groups often have distain toward members of the other group. But it is important for us to understand and value both cultures.

One of the potential downfalls of academic Christianity is described in Paul’s statement in First Corinthians 8:1—“knowledge puffs up.” Knowledge is good, but it must always be tempered with love, which is not necessarily something academia teaches. If we understand all the theology and know all the Greek words, but are terrible Christians in our practical lives with our families and friends, we have a big problem.

However, one of academic Christianity’s strengths is found in the difference between these two words: disagree and disrespect. The popular Christian culture does not handle disagreement well. When leaders disagree, they tend to treat each other with a high level of disrespect, using labels like heretic, false teacher, blasphemer, or even antichrist. Generally such leaders are not willing to calmly and openly discuss their differences but instead make defamatory statements and point fingers. They fear their followers will be captivated by some evil teaching, so they actively try to persuade those under their influence against said evil doctrine. As a result, they influence their followers to also have disrespect toward a given person or movement. In other words, this disrespect has a filter-down system to everyone under a leader’s influence.

By contrast, academic Christianity has a strong appreciation for debate and discussion of ideas without disrespect. This is important for all who want to study theology, because we need to be able to examine the ways other people believe and disagree with some of them while still respecting them as people and fellow Christians. Academics value standing on their own opinion, based on their own study, so they say, “I believe such-and-such for this reason.” This is simply a personal statement and does not have a negative influence. Academic Christianity is okay with disagreement and does not see it as a hindrance to respect. It is okay for people to hold differing views and remain friends.

People in academic Christian culture make personal statements of disagreement that are not intended to influence others. By contrast, leaders in popular Christian culture make defamatory statements against other leaders and movements that are presented as fact and cause an umbrella of disrespect.

The best way to approach theology is with a willingness to disagree and an openness to learning from others. Academic Christianity has modeled this well, and we would be wise to imitate them. Thinking like an academic means believing we need to hear all the different views on an issue in order to rationally decide our own position. In this culture, we are free to hear all the different understandings and arrive at our own conclusions, even if those conclusions are different from those of our friends or leaders. This is why, in academic Christianity, we find many books that present varying views on a particular subject. These books are not written by one author who has an opinion and writes with a slant. Instead, they are a compilation of writings from theologians who are explaining their own personal beliefs.[1] Another type of book common in academic Christianity is a response book, where one theologian writes a book in response to another theologian’s writings.[2]

Part of what it means to disagree respectfully is to quote those you disagree with in a way that accurately presents what they said in context. Academics are very careful to do this, but unfortunately, many leaders in popular Christianity misrepresent those they disagree with. They take their words out of context and make assumptions about what others mean by what they have said. This sort of misrepresenting, misunderstanding, and attacking of others has been happening for a long time, but it is not honoring or helpful to approach disagreement this way. Instead, we need to learn how to disagree without disrespecting and without exaggerating. Throughout this course, our goal will be to understand the beliefs of others clearly and fairly so we can draw our own conclusions.

[1] For example, The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views contains contributions from four leading theologians with differing opinions on the atonement. In similar fashion, Four Views on the Book of Revelation and God and Time: Four Different Views present differing views on these subjects.

[2] A great example of this is Kenneth Gentry’s The Charismatic Gift of Prophecy: A Reformed Response to Wayne Grudem. In it, Gentry strongly but respectfully counters Grudem’s beliefs about the Holy Spirit from an academic standpoint.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What Does The Bible Really Say About Alcohol?

This week I am sharing a post that has been somewhat controversial. I didn’t write the article, but I agree with it. Personally, I wouldn’t have agreed with it 10 years ago when I was extremely anti-alcohol. Because I have experienced freedom, this is an area that I would encourage others to reconsider.

Here are your keys,” muttered the secretary when I arrived to pick up the keys to my office at Aberdeen University, where I would be studying for my doctorate in theology. “It looks like you’re in The Old Brewery.”

Intrigued by the name, I later found out that it reflected the building’s original function. Aberdeen was founded in the 15th century and used to train monks for ministry. In the brewery, monks brewed vast quantities of Scottish ale, which was served by the liter at mealtimes. And here I was, a post-fundamentalist Ph.D. student studying the Scriptures in a malted sanctuary where late medieval Bible college students once clapped mugs together in an act of worship.

Throughout Christian history, alcohol was rarely a taboo as it is in some circles today. John Calvin had a stipend of 250 gallons of wine per year written into his church contract. Martin Luther’s wife was a famed brewer of beer, which certainly won Martin’s heart. And the Guinness family created their renowned Irish Stout as an act of worship to Jesus. From Bordeaux to Berlin, wine and beer have always been part of church tradition. But what was once considered the nectar of heaven was later condemned as the devil’s libation.

A Smart Approach

Even though some Christians advocate for the total abstinence of alcohol as a moral mandate for all believers, the Bible never requires all believers to abstain from alcohol. It condemns drunkenness and being enslaved to wine (Ephesians 5:18; Titus 2:3), but it never says that tee-totaling is the better way to obey God. In fact, the Bible never says that abstaining from alcohol is the wisest way to avoid getting drunk. Think about it. Alcoholism has been rampant through every age, but the Bible never says that all believers should therefore refrain from drinking.

If Christians want to forbid all alcohol consumption to avoid drunkenness, then to be consistent, they should also avoid making a lot of money to guard against the crushing sin of materialism and the misuse of wealth.

If Christians want to forbid all alcohol consumption to avoid drunkenness, then to be consistent, they should also avoid making a lot of money to guard against the crushing sin of materialism and the misuse of wealth.

Alcohol as a Witness

I sometimes hear that when Christians drink, it ruins their testimony. But quite honestly, I’ve never understood this line of thinking. It’s one thing if you’ve struggled with alcoholism or are ministering in a Muslim country, but for the most part, most non-Christians I know are turned off by the arbitrary dos and don’ts created by modern Christians. I’m not convinced that if my unbelieving neighbor sees me slipping into a pub, I will lose much traction to my Gospel witness. In many cases, the Gospel will shine brighter when you break down wrong assumptions about Christianity by having a beer with your neighbor.

When we strip away all the man-made clutter that dims the Gospel, the full glory of Jesus shines much brighter. A good chunk of the dying world that’s rejected Christianity hasn’t said no to Jesus, but no to a pharisaical version of Him. Some people have been turned off by the Gospel because they’ve thought that becoming a Christ-follower meant giving up having a beer with your friends after work. If this is the “good news” we preach, then the true beauty of a crucified and risen King will become covered in the fog of a man-made, pharisaical “don’t drink” gospel. AA didn’t hang on a cross for your sins and abstaining from alcohol won’t give you resurrection life. Any Christianese, man-made, unbiblical footnotes to the gospel are actually a distraction and offense to the Gospel.

Lower Alcohol Content?

Now, some say that wine in the Bible was nothing more than grape juice and therefore neither Jesus nor the Biblical writers advocated drinking alcohol. Others say that wine was so diluted that it hardly contained any alcohol. But neither of these views can be substantiated by what the Scriptures actually say. If wine was really unfermented grape juice, then why did Paul warn the Ephesians: “Do not get drunk with grape juice, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit?” This doesn’t make sense. It is true that wine back then probably had a lower ABV than today’s stuff. But whatever the alcohol content, people were quite able to get smashed by drinking too much of it (Proverbs 20:1; Isaiah 5:11). Still, the Bible never says not to drink it.

There’s another alcoholic beverage mentioned in the Bible called “strong drink. The Hebrew word for “strong drink,” shakar, refers to fermented barley, which is why some translations call it “beer.” Shakar had an ABV of around 6-12 percent, similar to a Belgium Trippel Ale or a Double IPA. Like all alcoholic beverages, the Bible prohibits abusing beer (Isaiah 5:11; 28:7; Proverbs 20:1; 31:4). But in moderation, drinking beer was encouraged (Proverbs 31:6). In fact, Deuteronomy 14:26 actually commands Israelites to use some of their tithe money to buy some beers and celebrate before the Lord. (Ever hear that verse being read as the ushers are passing the plates?) They were also commanded to offer up two liters of beer to God six days a week and even more on the Sabbath (see Numbers 28:7-10). This is why the absence of beer (and wine) was an outcome of God’s judgment on the nation.

Wine as a Blessing

But the Bible goes further than admitting that drinking is simply allowed. Throughout Scripture, the production and consumption of beer and wine are often connected to the covenant promises of God.

Under the old covenant, wine is a blessing (Deut 7:13; 11:14) and the absence of wine a curse (28:39, 51). When Israel looked to the future, God promises to flood them wine flowing from the mountaintops (Amos 9:14; Joel 3:18) and vats brimming with fresh wine (Joel 2:19, 24).

Jesus signals the beginning of such blessings by creating an over-abundance (150 gallons) of wine at Cana (John 2:1-10). And on the eve of his death, He sanctified a cup of wine as “the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:14-23). When Christ comes back, He’ll prepare “well-aged wine” (Isaiah 25:6)—the stuff I only notice on the top shelf but can never afford—and for theological reasons it will be served, as at Cana, in abundance.

There’s a growing tendency, however, among some younger evangelicals to celebrate their freedom without discipline.

Although a good beer and rich wine are blessings from God, they should be consumed with caution. There’s a growing tendency, however, among some younger evangelicals to celebrate their freedom without discipline. These young, restless, and slightly inebriated libertines are doing some great things for the Kingdom. They’re feeding the poor, living in community and planting authentic churches—or missional communities—all to the glory of God.

Yes, God cares about the poor; He also cares about your sobriety. Enjoying alcohol in moderation takes discipline, and many beer drinkers, I hate to say it, aren’t known for their discipline. A good glass of beer can be celebratory; it doesn’t belong in the hands of an undisciplined 16-year-old playing video games in his mom’s basement. Belgium ale is strong and complex. Savor it, sanctify it, and let it meditate on your palate. Give glory to God, not just to your thirst, when enjoying the blessings that flow from Eden. Drunkenness may not be at the top of God’s list of most heinous sins; neither should it be tossed aside as a relic of American fundamentalism.

Drinking alcohol without celebrating the Cross and Kingdom is theologically anemic. Abusing alcohol mocks the blood of Christ and scoffs at God’s holiness. But moderate, intentional, celebratory and reflective drinking of wine and beer, which contemplates the crucified and risen King and anticipates our future glory, is rooted in the grace that poured from Christ’s veins on Calvary.

Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/what-does-bible-really-say-about-alcohol#GU62ju8KWgKfx1fF.99

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

I went and saw Left Behind….

I went and saw Left Behind (the Nick Cage reboot) in the theater on opening night.

Although I could beat the movie over the head for its terrible quality, dialogue, etc. I will leave that to every single movie reviewer (Rotten tomatoes gave it a 4 out of 100).

I also will not belabor the point that it is based on theology that is highly flawed. Since I am the author of the free book available at http://www.Raptureless.com it is clear where my stance is regarding that.

Instead let’s look at some of the subtler points.

  1. Throughout the movie, the fundamentalist rapture Christians are talked about as being “weirdos, brainwashed, nutjobs,” etc. Then once they are raptured, they are proven right and so clearly they weren’t nuts!
  1. Also it is reported that several million people worldwide have been raptured.

These are both extremely disturbing concepts.

The first concept gives credence to the idea that it’s ok to be the weirdo rapture lady, because you will be proven right later on. You don’t need to actually be reasonable and defend yourself scripturally, you just have to hold these beliefs and then you will be good to go. Also all the true Christians are pre-trib believers that get raptured. There is no representation of any other endtime view.

The second concept is that out of the 2.2 billion souls that currently claim ‘Jesus is Lord,’ only a few million are truly saved? This is played out further by the conversation with a pastor that missed the rapture. Clearly there are the “Real Christians” and then there are the other Christians (and although there is a sliver of truth in that statement, it is not a few million “Real” out of 2.2 billion).

Now to prophesy.

“This is the generation which will reject the lies of dispensationalism. No longer will the idea of a ‘church age’ prevent them from advancing the kingdom in this day and hour. The Revelation of Jesus Christ will once again be about Jesus Christ and not about the end of the world. The Millennials will not bear the burden of believing in a future tribulation, antichrist one world leader or a sudden rapture. Instead they will plan long term, build businesses and families and lay up inheritances for their children’s children.” 10/3/2014

12 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The New Covenant Is Better Than You Think (from Scott Crowder)

A guest blog this week from one of the Welton Academy students who is also the Partnership Director for Welton Academy.

Our latest adventure is launching a Supernatural Bible School (SBS) through DreamHouse, our local church. We’re doing this in co-operation with Welton Academy. Last year I took this school created by Dr. Jonathan Welton and it was incredible. The charter class for the online school had over 500 people signed up representing all 50 states and 20 countries. In May of this year my wife and I attended the graduation weekend in upstate New York. Jonathan and Karen Welton led our class in an amazing weekend together. Joe McIntyre and Harold Eberle flew in as guest speakers along with people from around the world. We worshiped together, spent time in Q & A sessions and spent a lot of time just being together. The final night was one of the top five most powerful services I’ve ever been part of.

Welton Academy Charter Class Graduation Weekend, May 2014

When I started the school in the previous September, I had little idea about what God would be stirring within me. When this year ended I found myself in new territory with God – more confidence, freedom, joy and so intrigued about the future. It was a life altering decision.

A little bit about Jonathan Welton. He has authored several books, including School of the Seers and holds a doctorate in Theology. His heart is to see the depths of the word taught while embracing the supernatural. Jonathan has the grace of a teacher and as a seer himself, he makes connections where others have not saying:

“We’ve raised up a generation of young people that move in the supernatural. They heal the sick. They can prophesy. They can even raise the dead. Yet they don’t understand how scripture fits in to the whole picture. We’ve been teaching the Kingdom and the supernatural. The church has been waking up all across the world and people are moving in this. Yet there is a disconnect between our understanding of scripture and what we do on Sunday mornings with sermons and messages versuswhat we do on the streets in healing the sick and raising the dead. That disconnect has been on my heart from the Lord for a few years. I believe it’s time for a new model…it’s time that we understood the scripture through a kingdom lens, understood the New Covenant, the Kingdom of God, Jesus as the King – the Messiah. There’s more here than we’ve understood. There’s more here than we’ve gotten hold of.”

Before attending the school I was reading Deuteronomy one night before going to bed. As I read the curses God declares to Israel in the final chapters I blurted out “What was wrong with you!” My heart and mind couldn’t resolve the loving Father I knew and the God speaking in this story. The answer came back quick “I didn’t change Scott. You did.” That gave me pause. I could tell you how Jesus changed me and redeemed me. But but how did this resolve what I perceived as a change in Him, the God of the Old Testament and the New? This question stayed on mind for about a year. When I heard about Jonathan’s school I could feel the same rhythm beating in my heart to understand the whole Bible better.

I’ve been saved for thirty five years. I grew up in a solid christian home, and went to Sunday school my entire childhood. I graduated from a christian school and from a ministry training college as a young adult. I’ve attended many conferences and mini-schools since then. I’ve listened to thousands of hours of messages and am a voracious reader. Yet in all my life I’ve never understood the New Covenant as clear as I do after going through the SBS. I’ve realized since that I know many amazing people with a personal relationship with Jesus who still live with an Old Covenant understanding of God. Here’s a few examples of what I mean:

In the OLD COVENANT,

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)

In the NEW COVENANT we read,

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom 12:2).

Before in the OC (Old Covenant) we were told that we could not know God’s thoughts or His ways. Yet in the NC (New Covenant) God tells us that we’ll be able to test and approve His will through our mind and actions. Stunning.

In the OC we read,

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

Yet something is not the same anymore under the NEW COVENANT. Pauls writes to the Corinthians

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21)

The modern church goes back and forth under the New and Old Covenant not knowing who she is or how to step.  The early church understood the massive shift that had taken place. “But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one” writes the author of Hebrews.  The New is superior to the Old and “is founded on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). The book of Hebrews is all about the transition from the Old Covenant to the New. Hebrews 8:13 says:

“By calling this covenant ‘new’ he has made the first one obsolete”.

We are no longer under the Old Covenant. We’re participants of a New Covenant founded on union in Christ Jesus. Under the Old it was ‘seek the Lord while He may be found‘ (Isa 55:6). Under the New it is ‘Christ IN YOU is the hope of glory.’ (Col. 1:27) This is the good news!

How can you be a part? Even if you don’t live in Hampton Roads you can sign up and take the class online from anywhere in the world. The testimony of pastors and leaders, home-school moms and marketplace champions who have gone through the school has been positive. “I’ve been waiting for this.” “Why haven’t I heard this before?” “I finally understand what the New Covenant is!

  • Register online if you live in Hampton Roads and want to take the school with DreamHouse.
  • Check out Welton Academy online at  www.WeltonAcademy.com if you live elsewhere
  • 1st Semester begin Septembers 16th (online) / the 18th (with us) / with 12 weeks of classes.
  • The 2nd Semester begins in January with a class each week for 19 weeks.

As pastors we’ve been wanting to bring a deeper level of teaching to our church and have found Welton Academy to be the ideal partner. We are offering the school at our church with times of activation, corporate worship, face-to-face discussions and classes presented by Welton via video. Our Welton Lab is a learning environment with emphasis on moving forward together in Christ. This means relationship and teaching are part of the equipping process.

Feel free to email me at dreamhouse757@gmail.com if you have questions or contact the school directly via their website. It’s a great time to be alive!

- Scott Crowder

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Welton Tribe Newsletter

A newsletter from Welton Tribe, a portion of Welton Academy, led by Jim and Carolyn Welton:

This afternoon, while searching our property for wildflowers (a.k.a. weeds) with our four-year-old granddaughter, we came upon a large patch of a specific kind. Then she spotted the common white clover. We usually gather various species and search in a book with pictures, descriptions, and traditional uses. When comparing our finds with the listing in the book, we began to realize our property was covered with an incredible variety of good things—more than we had ever imagined!

What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us (1 Corinthians 2:12).

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV).

On your feet now. Get started…..I’m handing it over to you—it’s all yours. Go ahead, take it… (Deuteronomy 2:24–25 MSG).

Then God said to me:  Look, I’ve got the ball rolling—Sihon and his land are soon yours. Go ahead. Take it. It’s practically yours! (Deuteronomy 2:31 MSG).

In many areas of Christianity, contending in prayer and taking ground that already belongs to us have become lost arts. We have become mesmerized by teachings on sovereignty, and we don’t realize our own responsibility to get up and get going. When God says that He has given us something, He expects us to arise, make a plan, and move forward in faith to take possession of it. When He says He has given us something, there is no longer a question as to what His will is. His will is for us to go forward and take possession of it. We must stop endlessly seeking and questioning whether things are His will or not. He has laid out all sorts of good things in front of us. He has hidden His will in plain view. He has provided all we need for life and godliness. Now the ball is in our court. Will we go forward and possess our inheritance, or will we hold back in fear and choose the familiar and comfortable? It is always an individual choice.

Before us is our particular territory. It doesn’t matter what or who is residing in it right now. We have been given the title deed and the bill of sale. Let’s go in and take possession. We searched for what we knew we already had in our yard and found so much more. The principle applies to the inheritance we have received from our Father. We need to go searching and discovering all we possess. So much more is available than we’re presently aware of.

The more steps we take, the further in we go.

The further in we go, the more we possess.

The more we possess, the more we realize what He’s given us.

The more we realize, the more steps we can take.

It is a circle of process.

The more we discover, the more we realize how much more there is to experience.

If we had stayed only in the main portion of our yard and never ventured to the edges or the back, we would still believe our property is made up only of cut green grass, a few dandelions here and there, and other weeds that are mowed down weekly. But when we went in search of something new, we discovered much more than we expected. The same is true with each of our lives. Go searching for something new in Him! Go beyond the familiar. Go beyond the comfortable and the things you already know. Remember, he or she who seeks will find (see Matt. 7:7).

In closing, here is a prophetic word from 1969:

Do not hold back, but launch out, says the Lord. Fear not that the waters do not open. For as the soles of your feet do enter, they shall open. Fear not, but launch out into that which the Lord does place before you. He shall make it clear. Has He not led you this far? Has He not revealed to you His voice? His way? His plan? You have seen it as something afar off, but surely the Lord has not left you. Surely the Lord does lead you. He would take you by the hand and lead you up to a high plane, a plane of ministry, a plane of worship, a plane where you can see from another perspective the works of Almighty God. Yes, walk with Him; do not hold back. Launch out. Launch out beyond your ankles, beyond the knees, yes even, beyond your loins. Launch out into the waters that there are to swim in. You shall swim. The Lord will undergird you. You shall be strong, for He is the One who has led you. Yes, He is the One who brought you out into a new place. Only do not hold back!

~ Jim and Carolyn Welton

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

All Israel will be saved?

Many popular end-time preachers like to start their teachings about Israel in Romans 11:26, “And so in this way, all Israel will be saved.”

From here they declare that a future revival of the Jewish people will bring the entire nation of Israel to Jesus. Regardless of whether this passage means that or not, I agree with their heart’s desire, I also want to see this happen in Israel and every other nation on the face of the earth!

Notice that in Romans 11:26, it begins with: “And so in this way…” Paul is about to conclude a thought that he has been developing. Most of Paul’s thought has been developed between chapters 9-11, but actually the thought is threaded throughout the whole book of Romans.

In Romans, Paul is showing that God is no longer focused on racial barriers. “No longer is race of any consequence, but faith is the distinguishing mark of God’s true people. Thus God shows no favoritism” (Rom. 2:11).

According to Paul, “A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.” (Rom 2:28-29)

Paul goes on to claim that Abraham is not the father of just the Jewish people, but that he is the father of those that walk in faith: “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: I have made you a father of many nations.” (Rom 4:16-17)

The strongest stance from Paul on this comes early in Romans chapter nine. “It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they al Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” (Rom 9:6-8)

So far, Paul has stated that (1) God doesn’t show racial favor, (2) those that are of faith (no matter Jew or Gentile) are Abraham’s true descendants and (3) that those that are Abraham’s descendants in the natural (the Jews) aren’t considered to be Israel in the eyes of God automatically, only those that are holding to faith in Jesus are considered Israel.

Paul restates his argument in Romans 10:12: “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him”

This is the background which leads the reader to the context for Paul’s summary conclusion in Romans 11:26, “And so in this way…” In what way Paul? Paul’s conclusion is that God only regards people of faith in Jesus as the true Israel. Thus in that way, all Israel will be saved!

Try as we might to rebuild the wall of racial division, Jesus came to tear that wall down and he made Jew and Gentile into one new man. That is a past-tense accomplished fact, not a promise for the future. My admonition would be: Don’t let racist teachers misguide you back to living under the Old Covenant.

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Future Jewish Revival?

#EndTimeMyth’s Busted: One New Man Theology

 

I was recently reading a book that was making claims of a future Jewish revival based on passages from Romans and Ephesians. Let’s take a look and see if we can actually find the predictions that this author was claiming.

 

“[My] view points to Paul’s teaching that the Jews were hardened for a time (Rom 11:7-8), but a day will come in the future when He will open their eyes to recognize Jesus as Messiah. This understanding sees the Jews as still having God’s promise that assures them of a future awakening. Therefore, a major revival will take place among the Jews, resulting in Jews and Gentiles worshipping Jesus Christ together.”

 

Based on the Romans passage that the author references, I cannot see how he has arrived at such elaborate conclusions. Take a look for yourself:

 

“What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.” Romans 11:7-8

 

Yes, it does say they were hardened. And if you read the larger context of Romans 11:1-7, you will easily see that Paul shows that Israel in his day was like Israel in the days of Elijah. That in both time periods there was a Godly remnant and a larger group that was hard hearted toward God. If Paul was writing a prophecy about a future “major revival,” wouldn’t he be much clearer? Yet there is nothing in this passage that indicates a future Major Revival 2000+ years in the future.

 

Yet the popular verse to quote is Romans 11:26b “All Israel will be saved.” Supposedly, this verse is predicting a future Jewish revival. But that isn’t true either.

 

When it is read in context, a different picture is drawn:  “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:25-26)

 

Three observations

(1) Israel has experienced a partial hardening while the Gentiles are getting saved.

(2) and in this way – this is a qualifier to the statement – all Israel will be saved. (the question should be, “in what way will all Israel be saved?”)

(3) To make the claim that this passage is saying that someday in the future, God will soften Israel and then a massive Jewish revival will take place is to abusively force one’s interpretation into the text.

 

There is no doubt that Romans 11 is a challenging passage, but it doesn’t declare a future Jewish revival.

 

Those that believe they can find this future Jewish revival in Romans refer to their movement as: The One New Man, based out of Ephesians 2. They believe that Paul promises that someday in the future Jews and Gentiles will have the dividing wall broken down. They read Ephesians 2, about what Jesus has already done, as if it is a future prophecy to still happen!

 

“Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

But now [not future] in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been [past tense] brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made [past tense] both groups into one and broke [past tense] down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

AND HE CAME [past tense] AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access [past tense] in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11-22 NASB)

 

There is no way to read the passage and miss the clear fact that Jesus already accomplished this. There is no “one new man” coming in the future! Stop buying into the hype. So long as we are waiting for a future revival, we won’t have one today. Let’s go get everyone saved today! We are waiting for nothing!

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized