John Piper on the theological results of realized eschatology

Cruciform

The title of this video discussion by John Piper is “Why I Abominate the Prosperity Gospel”. But his discussion also includes a critique of an eschatology embraced by large segments of the Church today. While many will readily agree with Piper that the Gospel is not about guaranteeing that Christians become rich in this life, they may not feel so comfortable with the reality that God also does not guarantee our physical healing in this age. Whether it be the claim that we are promised health or wealth in this age, both views are rooted in the same unbiblical eschatology. It is near the later half of the message, where Piper nails the issue on the head, stating that the source of the problem is “realized eschatology”. Realized eschatology holds that the Kingdom of God is an invisible, spiritual reality, fully functioning now, as opposed to a very real, substantial, physical, earthly, future kingdom, wherein Jesus will rule the nations from Jerusalem. The problem lies in the fact that once one claims that the Kingdom is a spiritual reality now, they will then most often make efforts to appropriate many, or all of the promises of the age to come, claiming that these are guaranteed to us now. Beyond claiming that all believers are guaranteed health and wealth now, many will even make efforts to appropriate the “government of God” in our midst. So whether it be the false prosperity gospel, the false health gospel, the “seven-mountain mandate”, dominionism, or any other number of unbiblical theologies or concepts, they are all rooted in the false theology of a “kingdom-now” realized eschatology. Now for clarity, I am not claiming that healing does not take place today. Of course not. I hold to a Charismatic theology, affirming the ongoing presence of miraculous gifts among God’s people. We have the Holy Spirit in us, who is a deposit, a down-payment, a guarantee of what is to come. And through the Holy Spirit in us, we will see God, according to His sovereign will, bear witness to our message by releasing miraculous physical healing. But it happens when and how He chooses, not according to any guaranteed promise of healing in this age. In this age, our life is to be cruciform, patterned after the cross and the example of Jesus, not triumphant. The triumph comes after suffering, in the age to come.

31 Comments
  • Bill scofield
    Posted at 22:44h, 04 February

    love me some Piper. This may be my favorite of his little Q&A videos. So solid!

  • Joel
    Posted at 23:19h, 04 February

    Great recommend. Thanks Bill!

  • Casey
    Posted at 04:57h, 05 February

    Reminds me of George Ladd’s “the now and the not yet.” I really don’t understand Jay Adams a pioneer in biblical counseling movement still has not changed his view on this, Joel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYTw6HGWANM

  • David Roberts
    Posted at 07:16h, 05 February

    Multitudes have completely lost their faith in Yeshua because of these false promises…
    that God will always protect them, always heal them, always give them money…
    it makes my blood boil, all the lost souls because of these falsehoods…

  • David Roberts
    Posted at 09:30h, 05 February

    I just had a heated argument with a loved one over this.

    She took the position that the Kingdom of God is an invisible, spiritual reality, while I took the real, substantial, physical, earthly, future kingdom, wherein Yeshua will rule the nations from Jerusalem – position.

    In the end I came up with this harmonisation.
    The kingdom of heaven, is exactly that. The kingdom in heaven, that’s where Yeshua is preparing a place for us, that’s why we pray for the kingdom of God which is already in heaven, to come down to earth like it is already in full force in heaven.

    And even though when we come to faith in Yeshua, we get a citizenship in the kingdom of heaven and are fully recognised, we are not living in heaven, but on earth, and the kingdom isn’t on earth yet.

    Imagine there was an America Jew that was visiting Germany when the Nazis took power and ended up in the concentration camps. He would have had citizenship in America and be fully recognised there, but in Germany, would have been persecuted and put to death.
    The same is true of us in that we have citizenship in the kingdom of heaven, but we don’t live there, but dwell in the kingdom of the lord of this world, who offered the nations to Yeshua in the desert, because they were his to give, and it is not until the Lord comes and throws Satan into the pit for a thousand years that the kingdom of God is established on earth.

    These verses make it pretty clear to me:
    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

    “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 8:11

    “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 13:41-43

    “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here (John who saw the Revelation) who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Matthew 16:28

    “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…” Matthew 25:34

    “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:29

  • Joel
    Posted at 11:40h, 05 February

    George Eldon Ladd taught what is referred to as “inaugurated eschatology” as opposed to “realized eschatology”. Inaugurated eschatology holds that Jesus “inaugurated” the Kingdom of God, but it has yet to actually arrive. John Wimber further popularizing the “now and not yet” expression. In the end, many who hold to this view essentially hold to a “both” view. Both an invisible, spiritual reality, as well as a future physical kingdom. But in truth, most primarily emphasize the here and now aspect, not realizing that they are for all intents and purposes still practicing and expressing a “realized eschatology” with little more than lip service to the future hope. This is not the orientation of the hope of the New Testament, which is entirely forward looking, embracing the cross now, looking for the age to come. The view that the kingdom is an invisible reality is more the result of the Greek corruption of the Christian faith than anything else. Yet it has dominated the faith for most of its long history.

  • David Roberts
    Posted at 13:06h, 05 February

    I can’t help drawing a parallel between the Sadducees and the Pharisees and those who hold to a kingdom now position vs those who hold the future kingdom position.

    The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, so like the non-believers of today, they believed we should live for this life and make the most of it, so were materialistic and were naturalists are they didn’t believe in angels and the supernatural, while the Pharisees believed in the future resurrection, and the judgement of the righteous and ungodly, so they fasted two days a week, and laid heavy burdens on themselves in anticipation of their fate and in order to make things better for themselves on the day of judgement. The Rabbis talk about this life being a tunnel to the next, and how our focus should not be on this world, but so many are building for themselves a nice life here and forgetting the work of the master.

  • Casey
    Posted at 13:54h, 05 February

    In currently reading R. Kendall Soulen’s book on The God of Israel and Christian Theology I can see you point, Joel. I am finding that this is a really good book in explaining how the view of supersessionism crept into Christian theology over the centuries and even from the start of the early centuries. I am led to believe that in the aspects of looking back which is still needed that in view covenants and God’s promises that there is not enough infusion of commonwealth theology toward churches.

  • Dave
    Posted at 14:03h, 05 February

    Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t the kingdom be present now in the spiritual realm but also something that will be fully materialized in the future. As far as healing goes, I agree we don’t need to be dogmatic. But it may be a stretch to suggest that God hasen’t PROMISED His people devine health. These promises were made way before the Messiah came as long as His people obeyed Him.

  • Joel
    Posted at 14:49h, 05 February

    Dave,

    The question is not why not both, but rather what does the Bible teach on this matter? Of course God’s sovereignty, his rule over all of creation is very real and present now. But this should not be confused with that which the Bible is repeatedly referring to (almost 130 times in various forms in the NT) as “The Kingdom of God”. This is never portrayed as a spiritual invisible kingdom. There are several classic passages that have been widely misinterpreted to be understood to infer such, but in each case, further examination reveals that they are all in alignment with the consistent manner in which the Kingdom is referred to throughout the Scriptures.

    As for the “promises of the Torah” regarding blessings in general (as opposed to curses), these also are general, and should not be taken as absolute formulas. As soon as we claim a theology of guaranteed healing in this age, we inevitably, either overtly or more subtly, blame sick people for their sicknesses or ailments. It is either secret sin, unconfessed sin, or a lack of faith. And many with chronic diseases or conditions will bear witness that being around those who believe that we are guaranteed healing in this age can be a terrible experience.

    Ultimately, this issue comes down entirely to the theology of the cross. Jesus suffered the shame, scorn and pain of the cross, for the joy set before him. We are called in this age to imitate him. Never are we called to fully reign or triumph here and now.

    I understand that this message stands is sharp contrast to that which many American believers have been raised under, but once you begin turning toward the Scriptures, it quickly becomes abundantly apparent that we have been sold a bill of goods. It is high time we all return to the true Biblical faith, which places all of its hope in the coming return of Jesus, the physical resurrection of the dead, the judgment of the wicked, and the glories and joys of the age to come.

    Blessings

  • David W. Lincoln
    Posted at 16:29h, 05 February

    Joel, as a convert to the Orthodox Church, I can appreciate the gulf of difference between looking at scripture through the eyes of the first thousand years, before Rome broke away from Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem – and looking through the eyes conditioned by the Renaissance, Reformation, Counter Reformation, and Enlightenment.

    The Kingdom of God is a reality, and is shown best when the will of the person is, at the very least, in line with the will of the Holy Trinity.

    So, I suggest looking at another tree to see where the propaganda of prosperity stems from.

  • Peter Hartgerink
    Posted at 16:30h, 05 February

    Hi Joel,

    My response to this video and your comments is going to be a bit nuanced. I appreciated parts of what Piper was saying, and was troubled by other parts.

    I am totally with you on the Kingdom being a future physical reality. Yet precisely because it is physical, healings are an important sign of the coming Kingdom. There is nothing in the teaching of Jesus or the apostles to support the idea that we should expect healings to be only occasional, or that we should expect them to cease at the end of the apostolic age (as some teach). Rather they are presented as being a normative part of Christian experience in this age, in which through the Holy Spirit we tasted of “the powers of the age to come”. I don’t understand fully why some are not healed in this age, and I know we will all die even if healed (unless the Lord returns first) so healings in this age are never final, but I do know that when I pray with expectant faith, a lot more happens than when I pray with a resigned, passive “well, he may heal or he may not, who knows?” sort of attitude. It seems to me that expectant faith, along with a surrendered yielded obedient heart, is what Jesus and the apostles both taught and modelled.

    I totally agree that we are not guaranteed exemption from suffering in this age. But the suffering promised us in the NT is not primarily characterized by sickness, as Piper suggests, but by persecution. There are many miraculous stories from Asia and Africa of God’s provision in the midst of suffering.

    When it comes to financial provision – both Jesus and Paul clearly taught their followers to expect that God would abundantly provide for them. Note Jesus and the coin in the mouth of the fish to pay the temple tax; note Paul’s encouragement in 2 Cor 9 that our God will give an abundance of seed. Paul also encouraged slaves to take freedom if they could get it (i.e. improve their situation) but not to trouble themselves if they could not. Prosperity is a blessing as long as we don’t fall in love with it. Having lived through seasons of both poverty and prosperity, I do agree that prosperity can be a test for our hearts – as Jesus taught, we can’t serve both God and Mammon – but if God gives us an opportunity to prosper, this gives us more seed to sow, and it can be used for good as long as we guard our hearts and motives and keep them focussed on Jesus and not on the material blessings.

    The issue is not God’s willingness to bless in this age, but our willingness to suffer for him. On that point I totally agree with what Piper is saying. Yet a balanced reading of the NT shows us that God does promise much blessing — often including physical healing and financial blessing – in the midst of the trials that come to those who have their hearts set on obedience with a view to the age to come.

    Blessings

    Peter

  • Richee
    Posted at 16:39h, 05 February

    Joel, you beat me to it. I wanted to post a blog about this video but you did a way better job than I would have. 🙂 Great post brother!

  • giles
    Posted at 16:54h, 05 February

    Im glad youre endorsing this kind of seeing Christianity. Its far more appealing to be honest, and makes better sense of the knocks that come with following the Lord. I spent a year in Lagos with TB Joshua’s ministry, and they were squeezing out as much tithes as possible ffrom the surrounding people. (By the way, its a cult…the SCOAN ministry has gone to America and loads of americans are leaving evetyhing to become ‘disciples’ in Nigeria, having no idea of all the strange things that are in store for them, including confiscated passports…so if any of you american brothers know anyone who knows anyone who’s getting sucked in…its not what it seemes).
    Needless to say, I had this way of thinking too, so when my mom died of cancer, and some friends died in Afghan, the reason i was told for these ‘failures’ was that my/her faith was not strong enough. You cant imagine the psychological impact this had on me. So this ‘prosperity’ gospel goes beyond the money aspect. It really sets yourself up for a nasty fall when the carpet gets pulled from under you, especially when the blame falls on you for things going wrong.
    In reality, we should be bracing ourselves for a hard life when following the Lord

  • Joel
    Posted at 19:34h, 05 February

    Peter,

    I fully agree with you regarding healing as something to be contended for in this age. The Lord at times releases healings and other miracles as He bears witness to our message as we point to the coming Kingdom. Whether they are “occasional” or “common” is I suppose, more a matter of my personal experience versus what I would prefer to see as common. Nevertheless, I think there is also more maturity in for instance, telling someone with a child born with Down’s Syndrome, that it is more in keeping with the NT message to live a life of praise and expectancy of their healing at the Day of the Lord, rather than suggesting that they should expect, as normative, their healing now, in this age. I also would suggest that learning to live with suffering and hardship graciously and patiently is more in keeping with the NT message than what is preached in many charismatic churches these days. Again, I say this as a charismatic.

    Blessings!

  • Jeanne
    Posted at 21:00h, 05 February

    I appreciate John Piper’s comments. I would like to know how the prosperity gospel proponents answer the issue of the severe persecution of Christians all around the world. The prosperity gospel doesn’t answer this, IMO.

  • Nick
    Posted at 21:18h, 05 February

    I agree with the concept of inaugurated eschatology and saying that the NT is forward looking; it is an important bulwark against the errors of preterism and replacement theology. However, I think that we are called to function in this world as citizens and emissaries of the heavenly kingdom.

    That kingdom is not fully manifested until, in the words of Revelation 11, God does take His great power and begin to reign. However, faith in the Messiah and His resurrection call us to proclaim an experience of that kingdom now. Jesus sent them out to heal the sick and to tell them upon their being healed that what had happened was that the kingdom of God had come near to them. Joel’s example rings very true for me – I actually have a Down Syndrome child who has not been healed, and yet God has used me to heal others and I have trained others to operate in the gifts of the Spirit.

    Until Christ comes we must live in this tension; not all will be healed, and both we and the creation will continue to groan until He comes. Happily, our faith tells us that the Spirit also groans within us, making intercession that the Father can understand so that even in this current evil age, He causes all things to work together for good for us.

  • Dave
    Posted at 21:32h, 05 February

    Joel,

    Thanks for the response brother. I agree with you that the “Kingdom of God” being mentioned in the new testament scriptures is not the complete physical manifestation of that Kingdom on earth. However, it seems like the foundation was being laid by our Messiah that many of the manifestations of this future Kingdom could be experienced in this present life until the Physical and the Spiritual worlds officially collide with His return. I do agree with you that trying to downplay the reality of the literal future Kingdom of God coming to this world is completely un-biblical.

    On the issue of your stance on Torah, I would have to disagree completely. Its not about whether or not some people make others feel bad for “not having faith” or make them feel like “guilty” for their sins. Its about what the Bible itself teaches on the issue. The entire Old and New testament draws a concrete correlation between sickness and sin. The Levites were trained in how to spot these physical ailments and it was generally obvious that sin was the mains cause of sickness. Even in the New Testament the apostles assumed that the man born blind must have either had personal sin or a generational curse. Of course the Messiah showed them “in that case” that there was no sin but he was blind so that God could reveal his power through him. Many times Jesus pronounced peoples forgiveness at the same time He was healing them of a physical ailment. It still shows the same mindset and general way of thinking as the Old Testament when it comes to sin and sickness. The moment we decide to pretend that sin has nothing to do with our sickness, we have to realize we are taking a theological position that is very different from ANYONE in the Bible. We don’t need to be rude and dogmatic, but we do need to stand on the truth because only the truth will set the captives free. Salvation is promised through faith. Blessings on earth have always been contingent upon a heart of obedience to His word. Blessings.

  • Joel
    Posted at 22:04h, 05 February

    Nick,

    Bingo. I came to faith directly as a result of a powerful miracle. I have seen some great stuff since then as well. But I would say that overall, I have probably seen more sick people actually wounded by unbalanced teaching than I have seen sick people healed. My hope is that the Church can return to that fully forward looking expression of the Bible. That we would truly groan, along with all of creation for that Day.

    And so, we pray for the sick now, because in the age to come all get healed. We fight for justice now, because in the age to come, justice will reign. We minister to the poor now, because the day of the Lord is one in which the poor in Him will be made rich. Everything we do in this age, whether in word or deed is bearing witness to that glorious day. This leaves us with an active and engaged praxis that is entirely forward looking. And speaking of bearing witness, there is of course, the ultimate expression of bearing witness to the glorious resurrection of that day, which is martyrdom (i.e. being a “witness” in the Greek).

    I didn’t know your child has Down’s. I’m sure he/she is great fun and a great challenge at times as well. Much grace to you brother! Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Peter Hartgerink
    Posted at 22:42h, 05 February

    Joel,

    I agree with what you are saying about suffering with grace, and don’t see it as contradictory to a message of expectant faith. We need to be expectant in view of the age to come when we will have resurrection bodies (the older I get – nearing 60 – the more I appreciate this) but also press in for whatever God in His wisdom and love is ready to release to us now. At least, that’s my take.

    I do agree that the prosperity gospel, at least in its more extreme manifestations, has little to say to the persecuted church. But I also see in the NT a bold faith in the face of persecution, and a confidence that God’s power (including power for miracles) is not limited by man’s oppression.

    I realize the miracles are signs in view of the age to come but they are also an encouragement to our hearts.

    Having said that, my own ministry is more focussed on deliverance, healing of emotional wounds, restoration of the soul so that we are free to live obedient fruitful lives no matter our circumstances.

    Blessings brother. I so appreciate your ministry.

  • Joel
    Posted at 23:39h, 05 February

    Peter,

    I think we are entirely on the same page. Keep up the good work.

    Bless you!

  • Daniel McCarthy
    Posted at 23:46h, 08 February

    One important issue that seems to be missing here is that the Body of Christ is the manifestation of Heaven on Earth. Those believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirit/Spirit of Christ. The goal of the Body of Christ is to testify to the truth of the Person of Jesus. I think when you look at how the person of Jesus lived, how he suffered and how he died, we would be careful to look for a rosy life on Earth. The hope we have is in going to be with the Lord (as Paul said) because that is where it is better and also praying for the Kingdom to come down from Heaven and take up physical rule on Earth. God may want you to suffer, over come suffering, not over come suffering, have riches, be poor or whatever…the key is that in each of those states, we have the choice to glorify God. If he chooses to bring healing to us or prosperity to us (I went from homeless to prosperous), we should as, “Why is God giving us this circumstance?” For instance, my sister was autistic, brain damaged, deaf and died at 9. Anyone from the outside would think of her life as one of torture…literally to me, God worked through her to have me question my pagan ways and see value in life where most saw pain. Eventually, looking for meaning in a life of pain brought me to the Lord. On the flip side, I have become prosperous and people listen to me because I know how to do well. My abundance has been used by God to build revival in Boston (now spreading throughout the world). Therefore, we are Christ’s Body on Earth, empowered by the Holy Spirit, waiting to be with the Lord and praying for His physical Kingdom here on Earth. Miracles happen, not for our glory or comfort, but to glorify and advance the Kingdom.

  • Mark Johnston
    Posted at 03:29h, 09 February

    The Bible does indeed refer to the Kingdom of God as both now and yet to come. Jesus made many statements, eg; Mat 3:2, 4:17,6.33,12:28, all talk about the nearness of the Kingdom of God in this life. In Mark’s gospel the kingdom is referred to in the parable of the sower. It is like a mustard seed 13.31. Its referred as something to seek in order for the things this world to be added (12.31). It is referred to within the context of church life when Paul stated that the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but power (1Cor 4.20). It is refereed to an inner spirtual condition (Romans 14:17) rather than eating and drinking. The point I am making is that the Kingdom of God is indeed where the King reigns, both now and to come. Our future (and greatest) hope is the second coming and the setting up of Christ’s kingom but this does not negate the importance of the reality of the Kindgom in this age. You make a lip service to this but it seems that any understanding of the KOG in terms of an insvissbile spiritual reality is discarded. Those churches which seek more of the invisible kingdom now seem to be the ones which experience more of the supernatural presence and activity of God. I greatly admire your ministry and I dont want to sound critical. However I believe that the scriptures provide ample evidence of the KOG being both an invisible spiritual reality and a future glorious reality. In my view therefore it is both realised and future. The tension of the now and the not yet. God bless.

    ;28

  • Joel
    Posted at 12:13h, 09 February

    Mark,

    Some of the verses that you cite, you are misunderstanding / misinterpreting. For instance, those which speak of the Kingdom of God being “near” are warning messages referring to the urgency of being prepared for the day of Judgment and wrath. Thus each one is preceded by “repent!”. Perhaps I will make a special post on this subject. These are among the most classically misinterpreted passages in the body today.

    Then there are some passages which use present tense language in referring to the Kingdom of God, but this should be understood as using present tense reality, harkening to future certainty. This would be similar to watching a football game and the other team makes a huge mistake, and you say, “we just won”. Well, your team hasn’t actually won yet, but you speak of what is certain in the future as if it is now. Expressions like this are quite common in the NT. Other passages at times refer to the future citizens of the Kingdom of God, as the Kingdom. But again, the Kingdom is not yet. Approx 130 times the NT makes reference to the Kingdom of God and the overarching majority speak of it being future. Of these verses, only several are commonly misinterpreted to infer that the Kingdom is Now.

    Now, as for saying those churches that believe it is now, move in more power, of course, because most Pentecostal or Charismatic churches believe the kingdom is now. But the more accurate language of the NT is that we have the Holy Spirit, which is the power of the age to come. This is where it can simply become semantics to a degree. The danger of the view that it is now and not yet is simply that we tend to overemphasize the “now”, and only give passing lip service to the not yet. Charismatic churches also tend to be those that welcome some of the most unbiblical nonsense imaginable. I believe that John Crowder just made his way through Australia: Pastors allow folks like this to come into their churches and teach their people to “snort the Word of God” (as if it is a line of cocaine), or pretend to smoke “Jehovah-juana” (not to be confused with marijuana). This is what I mean by nonsense. But despite the nonsense, I will always be a charismatic, in that I believe that the Kingdom of God is in fact a matter of power and is best demonstrated with a taste of the age to come.

    As for emphasis, the overwhelming majority of churches today emphasize this life now, and prepare their people to someday die and go to heaven forever. Very few have an orientation that says that there is a literal future physical kingdom on the earth, where you will have a body and things to do, etc.

    Blessings!

  • Mark Johnston
    Posted at 09:57h, 10 February

    Hi Joel
    Thank you for responding to my email. With respect, though, I do not believe that I am misunderstanding the texts to which I referred. There are, as you say, references which warn of the consequences of not repenting, and others ( a majority) which refer to the coming KOG in which Christ reigns on earth. I have no argument with you on this. However I referred to verses which speak of the KOG as a present spirtual reality. Lets tako on for example. Paul challenges some arrogant church members and compares their ministry to his own. He says he will see what power these believers have when he arrives for “the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” (1 Cor 4.20). Here paul is referring to the present activity of the Holy Spirit and it is not a misapplication or misunderstanig to see his reference to the KOG as an invisible spirtual reality. You say it is a matter of semantics and this may be true to an extent, but I fail to see why you consider any reference to the KOG as ‘spiritual’ to be some kind of incorrect exegeesis. It may be semantic to an extent but the ramifacations are significant. By this I mean: any church only focused on the coming Kingdom will tend to see less the power of the Kingdom in this age. It is not some kind of escapism to want to see God at work in power with transformed lives, healed people, and mature saints. Your reference to John Crowder is a little insulting. To hold him up as your prime example of one who seeks the supernatural belies a possible lack of balance in yourself. I agree with you about the absolute ridiculousness of this man’s teaching. I have heard him teach that we should be levitating in worship. (I think his brain does levitate but his mouth refuses to disengage). At our church we actively seek the power of the Holy Spirit (In breaking of the KOG) but we also have a deep awarness of the needs of the suffering church, the need to prayerfully support Israel and the advance of militan Islam. We have used your DVD series in home group. This is not a matter of being wrongly focused on this life, but more of wanting the rule of the king to be more active in our midst as the best way to prepare for what is soon to come upon us. I do respect your ministry and insight and we may have to agree to disagree on this matter. God bless.

  • Joel
    Posted at 10:24h, 10 February

    Mark,

    My purpose in citing John Crowder is to respond to your initial point. You are saying that the Kingdom of God must be here and now, as proven by the fact that those who believe this experience more power in their congregations. I agree, but see this as true for slightly different reasons than you. I was simply highlighting the fact that many (not all) congregations who believe, or emphasize the idea that the KOG is now also tend to allow nonsense such as Crowder into their congregations. It is a valid point.

    Also, many churches which hold that the KOG is now, have a theology which says that healing is guaranteed now, instead of according to the sovereign choice of God. They would say that God never allows sickness. I disagree with this view. Ultimately, it places all of the responsibility of healing on the sick person. When I preach this, sick people in the congregations (all of which believe in healing) always come up to me and thank me profusely. Those with chronic unhealed diseases in congregations that emphasize healing often feel very very alone and hurt. Its incredibly common.

    Many point to the ministry of Bill Johnston’s church in Redding, CA as perhaps the best example of a congregation that is moving in power. Yet their theology has taken a turn in recent years into so emphasizing the Kingdom of God now, that they are now teaching preterism. My point is simply this: Our views must be rooted not in experience, but the Scriptures. And the overwhelming emphasis of the NT is on the age to come. I would say that it is approx 97% on the age to come and only 3% on this age. Yet most of western Christianity has this reversed.

    Now, if you take the inaugurated view, this is what I have always lived with myself. (Until recent years, I began to understand the flaws in this view). But so long as your emphasis is in accordance with the NT, we are essentially in agreement. The only difference that my angle brings is when I pray for the sick, to me, if they are healed, it points to the age to come, not now. Whether healing, justice, etc., these things all point to the day when all healing will be complete, when all justice will be complete. So for me, all orientation is to the age to come. Everything points to the Day of the Lord. The day that all of creation is groaning for. I am convinced that this is the orientation of the whole NT. If we disagree on this, no problem. We are only 2 degrees in disagreement.

    Blessings!

  • Dave
    Posted at 15:12h, 10 February

    This is one of the problems with mainstream “western” Christian views. We have a dichotomist way of approaching every issue in the Bible which usually makes people draw theological lines in the sand. “the Kingdom is in the future”…no “the Kingdom is already here!!” , “we are under grace now!!”…”no, we are under the Law still!!”. Many of us still see through the lens of man -made theological positions that have been invented over the last 2000 years because we fail to grasp that our God is very very SIMPLE in the way he teaches His sheep. He doesn’t require us to jump through a thousand flaming theological hoops before we can get close to Him. All He wants is a heart of obedience, not a mind that is capable of fully dissecting the nature of God intellectually. God has been birthing His “Kingdom” into this earth since Adam and Eve. This is the whole context of the Bible. God’s earthly commandments were always mirroring the things which were ALREADY going on in Heaven. No matter what you believe about the Old Testament and whether its commands are still applicable. We have to realize that divine health was bestowed upon His people IF they obeyed. This is the same Kingdom that was on display with Jesus and His apostles. Why??? Because peoples hearts were turning back to Him!!! Does that mean people had to obey perfectly to obtain this??? I believe not. God has always called His people to have a HEART of obedience, not be perfect at it. King David committed some of the worst sins a man can commit, and afterwards God STILL called him a righteous man!!!! People today are so terrified to even entertain the idea that they might be in sin and because deep down, they believe they have to be perfect to obtain God’s love. WRONG!! All He wants is a heart like David. A man who said, “search my heart”. We should be pleading with God every day to show us our sin, especially if we are seriously ill. It may have nothing to do with our sin, but we should not be so closed off the idea that it may be connected. Lets get rid of this perfectionist spirit in the Church today which only hinders people from actually running after God with all their heart, soul and might. Lets be honest with other believers about the things we are struggling with and more importantly, let’s be honest with God. Then maybe we can start LIVING like our Messiah and His apostles and actually “imitate” them. But, I guess the easier thing to do is create a theology which says we are not meant to live just like the apostles and our Messiah. We are meant to read about them and talk about what great things they did until the Messiah returns.

  • Mark Johnston
    Posted at 17:07h, 10 February

    Thanks Joel
    I agree with you that we differ only in small degree when it comes down to it. I do admire Bill Johnson and what he does and I do believe that God is the one who blesses Bethel church with healings etc. I’m not sure I have ever heard Bill or any of his team put any trip on people who are not healed but if he has then I would stand with you in opposition to this. It is also possible that their emphasis on the Kingdom now makes them unaware of the times and he importance of the future kingdom, but I’m not sure that this is true either as he has had the likes of Andrew White (Vicar of Bagdad) speaking at his church. Anyway I look forward to having a coffee with you in the new kindgom and we can look back with total clarity on all of this. Keep up the good work. Mark

  • JohnH
    Posted at 01:58h, 11 February

    Joel:

    Great discussion. I think that Ladd and his progeny at Fuller have done great damage. I’ve often said that a proper view of the kingdom is very important. Thanks for your posts.

  • Joel
    Posted at 02:12h, 11 February

    John,

    In Ladd’s defense, he brought much correction to the excessive dualism of Dispensationalism. He reoriented things on the resurrection. Prior to Ladd, many conservative believers taught that there was two plans of salvation. Christians go to heaven and Jews got the earth. Its amazing to read this stuff in some of the older classic Dispensationalist books.

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