2 Tim 3.16-17
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Having an "official view" of no view at all.

Eschatological Laziness

I constantly review online Statement of Faith (SoF) documents whenever I find them.

[Note that nowadays only a minority of "churches" even bother to post them on their sites. I infer from this that they don't consider doctrine important enough even to post.]

Because I'm working on a rebuttal of Amillennialism, one of the areas in the SoFs that I check is their statement on Eschatology.

I found this gem recently, from Providence Church in Rowlett, TX, in their FAQ section.

Q: What is the official eschatological view of Providence Church?
A: The official eschatological view of Providence Church is that we do not have an official view. Consequently, adherents of various, legitimate views are welcome in our membership. We encourage all to hold their eschatological view with a measure of humility and to not elevate it to the level of being an essential for fellowship. However, we dogmatically affirm that the Lord Jesus will return in bodily form to judge humanity and we are to be ready.

It should be obvious that there are a several serious problems with this (presented in no particular order):

  1. If they don't have an "official view", isn't it impossible to define what is and what is not "legitimate"?
  2. Their stated metric is to adhere only to those tenets that are "essential for fellowship". Shouldn't the metric be "What does the Bible teach?" regardless of whether they find "fellowship" with any other group, or with no other group?
  3. Their logic for "various views" could (and should!) therefore be applied to all other families of doctrine since Eschatology is but one of the several disciplines neither no more nor no less special than: Theology, Christology, Pneumatology, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, etc. For example, consider that many other churches would assert their belief that there is no divine election. How could this church (Providence) hold otherwise, since their own logic could be used against them?
  4. If doctrine in any of the families of doctrine above does not control and constrain "fellowship" with others, then of what use are they in the first place? You might just as well have "fellowship" with Catholics, or Episcopalians, or Methodists, or Presbyterians, or any of a number of Protestant Arminian "churches"—or even a cult like the Jehovah's Witnesses. Without doctrine, the "church" is degraded into a disgusting religious/moral/empty social club of absolutely no value.
  5. In reality, the "various views" of eschatology are largely exclusive; at most, only a single view of eschatology could be regarded as "legitimate". (Of course, it is also logically possible that multiple, mutually exclusive views could all be wrong.) Therefore, this assertion ("various views") is worthless.
  6. If this church does not have an "official view", how are they certain that "the Lord Jesus will return in bodily form …" since that is what they believe and by their own logic it could be wrong (since they don't have "an official view")? (Yes, I know that they said, "we dogmatically affirm ...", but such an assertion is fundamentally at odds with "we do not have an official view", if you stop to think about it. As the old saying goes, "Two mutually exclusive assertions can't both be true.")
  7. Isn't this stance itself a serious problem, since another church might have a "legitimate" view that actually is correct while their view could be wrong?
  8. Their "non-official" stance (my term) logically degrades into pure opinion—and that degrades into practical contempt for the Word of God! The Bible is anything but "opinion"!

I never cease to be amazed at the excuses that various "churches" assert when it comes to prophecy and Eschatology; it seems as if the entire topic is treated as forbidden, something to be spoken in low, hushed voices in darkened rooms—if at all. When it is spoken, it is nearly always as a part of, and sanctioned by, some man-made theological framework with enough caveats to embarrass even a politician.

When did "Thus says the LORD!" disappear from the church's thoughts and expressions?

Centuries ago, just before the Jews of the Exodus were to finally leave their wilderness wanderings, Moses reminded them of this truth:

Deu 8.3
He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.

Somehow, this assertion ("everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord"—a statement with the historical weight of a divine command) was enough to bear up the Lord Christ during His severe trials in the wilderness (Mat 4), but it is not enough for our use today?!?! The LORD included in His Word many texts that deal directly with the details of the world to come (The Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and the rest of the prophets; Mat 25 (and parallels in Luke and Mark); Rom 11; 2 Pet 3; Jude and the Revelation of Jesus Christ, etc.). Yet churches like the one here appear to treat this very important and massive topic of the Scriptures as essentially untouchable and unknowable! Moreover, they seem not to recognize their own cognitive dissonance of such a contradictory and destructive stance.

Shame on them! Did the LORD intend to teach us about the future or did He not? (Remember that the accurate foretelling of the future is an indication of true divine authority, something that belongs to the LORD alone. Isa 41.21-23) Moreover, do you think that the frameworks of Amillennialism, Postmillennialism and Premillennialism are somehow all valid, or mostly valid, or impossible to know for certain?!?! Yet, when either camp "teaches" us about the future, it is expressed in the language of the framework rather than from the Scriptures alone.

Preachers and Teachers! It is long past for you to take an Eschatological position from the Scriptures! Frameworks be damned! Open the Book and learn from it alone, then teach from the Scriptures alone! Yes, it is a difficult topic, but demanding and worthy of the time needed to study it properly! It is part of the Word of God to be learned just as any other biblical topic! Just be warned: if you do chart out this course from the Scriptures alone, be prepared to take incoming fire from those who continue to hold tightly to their precious frameworks!

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