Thought I would take a moment here to let you know how things are going here at the Shepherd’s Conference. This isn’t intended to be anything like a liveblogging experiment or anything. You can go to Tim Challies’ website for that.
MacArthur kicked things off again, and began talking about how for awhile he had been the only speaker at Shepherd’s Conferences, but had began bringing in other speakers to make it better. Something tells me after this morning that he might have to do a few more if some speakers leave due to his first message.
That’s how MacArthur started this week, with a message about God’s sovereign election, the status of Israel, and our eschatology. I know this might sound like a snoozefest to some of you, but it was actually quite entertaining. MacArthur basically laid out an argument about how there is no way that you can be A-Millennial and hold to a clear, grammatical-historical interpretation of the Bible.
He basically called out everyong that doesn’t believe in Pre-Millenialism. For those of you who don’t know, it may be convenient that Sproul is not here this year, but Ligon Duncan is… this could be awkward.
MacArthur set out to defend how every selfrespecting Calvinist is Premillennial. He said that A-Mil is perfect for Arminianism, so leave it to them. Leave it to the Openists, leave it to the charasmatics. He set out through the entire Bible to prove that Israel has a promise and a convenant dependent upon God alone, and God still has a plan for them. He did this by showing that there is no a-millennialism in the Old Testament, there was no a-millennialism in the beliefs of the Jews of Jesus’ day, there was no a-millennialsim in the teachings of Jesus, and there was no a-millennialism in the teachings of the apostles.
He took a moment to assure the audience that this would not be about preaching dispensationalism. he said there would be not gift of a Scofield Bible, there would be no hand out of Left Behind books. He said that Henry Kissinger is not the antichrist and Hillary Clinton is not the harlot of Babylon. That one got quite the reaction. He said, “apparently you haven’t heard that theory.”
He spent quite a bit of time in the OT, showing that Israel’s existence proves pre-millennialism. “Israel still exists today… Isn’t that interesting?” followed by a pause… “Have you ever met a Hittite?”
The basic plea was to have the same consistent hermeneutic when you approach Genesis 1-3 as you would in the book of Revelation. God intended language to be able to communicate clearly and not confuse. His purpose was not to be mysterious, but to communicate His plan. Covenant theology makes a practice of reading the NT into the OT. They see that the only way you can understand the OT is to read it through the lense of the NT.
This was somewhat of a shocker for him to start out with, but you can understand why he would do this. This has been an increasing problem in graduates of both the college and seminary, and the covenants of grace have grown in popularity. The MacArthur that preached today was the result of seeing so many people use inconsistent hermenuetics and totally misplay the interpretation of the end times.
He also traced the effect that this practice has on witnessing to Jews. You tell them that Jesus was the Messiah and they’ll ask you, ‘Where’s the kingdom?’ Response: “We’re in it!” “Why are we being killed?” “Why don’t we have the whole land?” “THIS IS THE KINGDOM?!” Finally, he wrapped with the quote: “Al Gore is not in charge of the end of the world.”
I don’t know if I liked this more than I normally would because I had just studied this in my Theology class, but I thought it was needed. I agree that we are too quick to say that we will agree to disagree on such horrible hermeneutics when it comes to end times. This will also make the rest of the week interesting, as we have speakers here who would very much disagree with what MacArthur said. Stay tuned.
One sad note, John Piper will not be able to be here, as his father passed away last night. He spent the last couple days by his father’s bed, singing some of his favorite hymns and recounting the goodness of God. In his place, C.J. Mahaney was in the neighborhood and has agreed to come and fill in. Should be interesting to hear Mahaney’s self depricating introduction about filling in for John Piper.