Friday, April 18, 2008
Further Thoughts on 'Future Israel'. II
We are one with Dr. Horner on the fact of the restoration of the Jews, but differ quite widely from him on the details. Most notably on his view that the Jews will not be restored to faith except by the Second Coming (P. 229). This is based on a misunderstanding of certain texts in the Bible that have been read according to a woodenly literal, not a truly literal, hermeneutic. There is no reason, for example, why 'Life from the dead' in Romans 11 should be understood in context as the resurrection of the dead. Rather Paul is saying that the turning of Israel to their Messiah will be such an astounding thing that it will be like a resurrection (so Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones represents the same event under the same figure). That the Jews will 'look upon Him whom they pierced' can only mean, properly understood, that they will look to Him for salvation, for no-where where the Second Advent is explicitly mentioned is it described as a gracious coming for salvation, and it is everywhere declared to be a coming in judgement.
We take the label 'postmillennial', but we know others whose view coincide exactly with ours who call themselves amillennial. Frankly, the two positions are quite similar in that both hold that there is only one more Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that he will come to usher in the Final State, not a temporary one.
At this point we found Dr. Horner perplexing. He seems to refer every prophecy of the 'restoration of all things' and the 'New heavens and the new earth' to the Millennium (See e.g. Pp. 208, 214, 222, where Horner speaks of "that glorious consummation", 250). Indeed, at several points we were left unable to tell whether or not Horner was speaking of the final state or the millennium. It seemed to us that Dr. Horner expects this old earth to be re-forged in fire BEFORE the millennium. We are going to contact him to ask for clarifiecation on the following matters:
1. Will this old world be 'burned up' and re-forged into the new heavens and the New earth before or after the Millennium?
2. Will there be sinners on earth in the Millennium?
3. What is the distinction between the Millennium and the Final State?
4. Will the Millennium end in a rebellion against Christ's rule?
We await answers eagerly!
Having received his answer, which was in effect, 'read Bonar's 'Prophetical Landmarks', we looked at that work, and are still at a loss to understand how this renewed earth that Horner believes will come at the Second Advent could ever be the home of sinners as such. We do not say the home of sinners saved by grace, for all the inhabitants will be that, but we say sinners as such, those who actually sin. Christ is everywhere depicted as coming back to judge, and the new heaves and the new earth said to be the dwelling-place of righteousness. Now, Bonar remains obscure on whether or not there shall be sinners on the earth during the Millennium. We say this: If there will be, after the earth has been renewed, then how can that Millennium be the 'blessed hope', and how is it that we are to look for that? If not, then why not re-christen yourselves, for your 'Millennium' is nothing other than the final state, unless you somehow believe that God will bring to an end the new heavens and the new earth?
We confess to finding all this more than a little confusing.
[A brief excursus. Dr. Horner represents the 'Blood Libel' as originating in our hometown of Norwich. We link to a brief history of the Jews in Norwich. The local newspaper admits that it is first recorded there), the anti-semitic crimes recorded in this article are enough to make one feel ill. Recently we found that the Synagogue Street plaque shown here had been defaced with swastikas, which led us to complain as soon as possible to the council. The graffiti has now been painted out, but the building on which the plaque is will be coming down soon]