Two Theological Views Collide: Part 1 :: By Gene Lawley

In recent decades, the 1960s and 1970s, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) struggled with a faction that wanted to deny the inerrancy of Scripture. Fortunately, those leaders who held to that position of the Scriptures overcame that attack. High-level academia seems to lean toward a rejection of the absolute truth of God’s sovereignty.

Proverbs 3:5 pronounces an action that identifies the core of the problem: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Mankind thinks they are so smart that they need to correct God and have Him line up with their understanding.

Now, years later, the internal workings of the SBC are being torn apart with challenges that are essentially, again, an attack on the inerrancy of the Scriptures. The only basic directives of church leadership are in the Apostle Paul’s epistles to the churches. In there, he states that a pastor is to be the husband of one wife. It does not say that a wife is to be a pastor, the pulpit leader of a congregation. Are the Scriptures in error?

Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine [truth], for rebuke, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished for all good works.”

All Scripture? Yes, both Old Testament and New Testament, as determined by that body of believers long ago. A Bible student must decide that he believes it to be so inspired, and that any lack of understanding is not in his realm to find an answer to his satisfaction that is outside the whole counsel of God found in the Holy Scriptures.

Proverbs 9:10 tells us this: “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

The many attributes of God define His character and His moral integrity, and knowing those attributes which guide His actions brings our understanding up to His level of truth.

For example, God is a loving God, but He is also a just God and intolerant of sinfulness, even in those He loves. If it appears that He favors one above another, check further to see what other facts are in the mix.

Back to the SBC issues again, we can see the evidence of a disregard for the truths of Scripture.

There has been revealed that sexual abuses have occurred and then covered up rather than confessed and repented. It again speaks of a rejection of the truths of Scripture, not errors that allow one to continue in sin without correction.

There is also a troublesome thrust of false doctrine that is invading the body of Christ with disunity as a result. It is in the contrast of foundational beliefs between the believers called the Reformers and whom they call the Dispensationalists. The Reformers are Calvinists who struggle with certain aspects of their TULIP acronym guideline.

They do not take the Scriptures straightforwardly as they are written but pick and choose, especially those having to do with the end times, where they fit into the picture of the last days.

The Dispensationalists generally follow the Scriptures of the last days in chronological order, as I understand them. Just as they are revealed by the Apostle John and by Paul’s writings of the coming of the Lord to take His believers out of the world, there is a great expectancy that the Scriptures will be fulfilled.

And let’s not forget Jesus’ proclamation in John 11:25-26, which ties directly with 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Then Paul announces his subject specifically in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, saying, “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him….” Is he confining this prophecy to the Thessalonians only, or to all believers then and in the future? The whole counsel of God tells us that it is a prophecy of the future, an Appointed Time in God’s plan of salvation.

Here are some beliefs that I have learned from those who oppose the straightforward and chronological flow of Scripture:

“We are in the Millennium now, and the devil has been bound in the bottomless pit already.”

“The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. was the beginning of the Millennium, and the ‘abomination of desolation’ told by Daniel the Prophet took place then.”

“The Second Coming of Christ will happen at the end of the Millennium period, and no such thing as the Rapture will occur. It is a fabrication of John Darby and others in the early 1800s.”

“Jesus did not die for the whole world but only for those who believe in Him.”

“The advent of Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection closed off any ongoing Israeli connection to the future relationship with God [i.e., Replacement Theology].”

“The Apostle John’s Revelation is primarily myths and allegories and not prophetic events of the future.”

“The prophecies of Daniel have already been fulfilled.”

“Now, we are looking for a new heaven and a new earth, coming down from heaven.”

And there may be fragments of others showing up because when man turns from the “whole counsel of God” as found in “all Scripture (that) is given by inspiration of God” to their own understanding—watch out! Mankind, in their wretched bodies of sin, can devise many deviations of their own without realizing their failure, just as history has shown.

The first two in the list above arise from incorrect interpretations of Scripture that show up early in the Christian era when church fathers were trying to make sense of the writings of John and Paul, as it seems to appear in early commentaries.

The Roman Catholic Church wanted to establish its claimed authority as if it was from Christ yet fit in with Rome’s dominating influence. Thus, the Reformed believers from Luther’s and Calvin’s leadership have come forth.

Ignoring Jude’s directive to “contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints,” they wove a pathway that defies the simplicity of the Scriptures.

When God fulfilled His commitment to scatter the Jewish people into all the nations of the world because of their repeated rebellion and disobedience by allowing the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D., it was just that. It took 65 years to finally bring Jerusalem to desolation.

The belief that it was the beginning of the Millennium, a thousand-year period, and the “abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet” took place then has absolutely no foundation of fact. What Roman soldier stood up in the holy place, declaring himself to be God and demanding all to worship him—while they were tearing the temple down? Daniel 9:27 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7 tell of this future event.

Then, the Millennium period is yet future when Christ comes back to the earth and establishes His kingdom on earth for a thousand years, told of in Revelation 20. Then is when the devil is chained in the bottomless pit for that length of time.

The claim that the Millennium is now can easily be determined by observing how your dog is intent on killing your neighbor’s cat. Scripture defines the period as having no such atrocities. The wolf will lie down with the lamb, the lion will eat straw with the ox, and a child will play next to a viper’s den without being bitten. (See Isaiah 11:6 and Isaiah 65:25.)

Peter tells us that now “the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). That one is not chained up until Jesus comes back at His Second Coming. These are Bible truths made clear by historical facts easily seen.

The belief that the Millennium began at the time of the 70 A.D. destruction of Jerusalem and the temple effectively requires bypassing the Revelation of the Apostle John, the 144,000 Jewish evangelists, as well as the prophecies of Paul’s writings. It is a vivid rejection of the validity of the Word of God, which declares that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” The so-called Reformers have denied the authenticity of the Scriptures as they are and have rewritten them according to their own understanding and desires. It seems clear to me that man-made doctrines are overriding the Word of God in a pitiful display of self-proclaimed authority, defying the sovereignty of God. I can’t imagine what the judgment of God will be like for them.

The list above may not match your list, but it comes from my encounters with those who stand on those sandy foundations. As has been said, “All Reformers are Calvinists, but not all Calvinists are Reformers.” That combination of beliefs presents some very challenging views that contrast with the Word of God. We will take a look at some of those issues in Part 2.

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