Thursday, April 17, 2008

Barry Horner offers a Clarification

We noted in a previous post that Dr. Barry Horner seemed to assume the existence of Judeo-centric premillennialism in before the Reformation. in the following quotation from Future Israel:
"as will be demonstrated, chiliasm and subsequent premillennialism have continued to uphold a closer identity with the perpetuation of the Jewish people as a nation with a distinct eschatalogical hope" (P. 150).
We contacted Dr. Horner and asked him if he was aware of any such groups. His clear answer was:
"Let me put it this way. To my knowledge, prior to the Reformation, there was no overt Judeo-centric premillennialism. This neither surprises nor troubles me. Doubtless there was a remnant in this regard, even as there were rebellious Christian groups throughout that period, like the Lollards, Jansenists, etc., a remnant according to the election of grace. This matter invites deeper study. At the same sime there was a reigning, totalitarian Augustinian amillennialism that would never brook loving regard for the Jew as "God's beloved enemy" (Romans 11:28)."

In other words, no, Dr. Horner is not aware of any groups teaching a Judeo-centric premillennialism before the Reformation. He assumes the existence of such. We are not so sanguine. All the evidence indicates that no-one in the early centuries of the Church correctly understood the future of the Jews according to Scripture, and light only dawned in the seventeenth century. The restoration of the Jews is not a salvific doctrine. It is a true doctrine, and one as explicitly taught in Scripture as justification by faith alone, but it does not have to be taught for salvation. It is like believer's Baptism in this regard. Where it is denied there may still be a true Church, but that Church is not teaching the full counsel of God. We know this statement will shock those for whom Herman Bavinck is the benchmark of orthodoxy, but that is our conviction.

God willing, next time we will continue with the series on 'Future Israel'.

[Note. As we have explained to Dr. Horner, we use 'Restoration' to speak of the Biblical doctrine that the Jewish people will be restored both to the Land and to faith in God. If we speak of someone (such as John Owen) holding the future 'conversion' of the Jews, we mean that they affirmed that the Jews would return to God as a body, but denied that they would be restored to the Land of Canaan. This position is inconsistent, for land and people are explicitly linked in the Abrahamic covenant.]

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