When It Comes to Being Part of a Denomination/Fellowship, How Should We Separate over Eschatology?

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Ed Vasicek's picture
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When It Comes to Being Part of a Denomination/Fellowship, How Should We Separate over Eschatology?
Only over an eternal heaven but hell or annihilation are not points to separate
10%
Only over a literal heaven and hell
48%
Only over broad views of the Millennium
29%
Even over the timing of the Rapture to the Tribulation (one position only)
0%
Even over the timing of the Rapture to the Tribulation (one position unacceptable)
5%
Other (please read first post before choosing this)
10%
Total votes: 21
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Separation At What Level?

The fact that you are participating in Sharper Iron means you can fellowship, at some level, with those who hold different views of eschatology.  But when it comes to the closest fellowship and identification, like  joining a church, denomination, or fellowship, to what degree do you separate over prophecy?

For me, I think it is important to hold a Premillennial view that sees an exalted future for Israel;  although I am pre-tribulational, the timing of the rapture to the Tribulation is not that big a deal, IMO (unless the ethnic identity of the 144,000 is at stake!).  Having said that, I can cooperate in inter-church events with those who only hold to a literal heaven and hell.  And I don't consider Amill or Post-mils heretics.  But if I had to work closely in a church environment, I would probably separate from those positions.  Yet, if I could find no better church, I would endure the pain.  So my separation in this instance isn't the pure conviction but conviction while recognizing the secondary nature of things.

 

What about you?

 

 

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I chose option two but it's a

I chose option two but it's a difficult question to answer because it lacks specificity. Could I be a part of a church plant that was not pre-mil? Probably not. Could I join a church that wasn't? If I had to. Could I have personal fellowship with an Amil person? I regularly do. I guess I am about where you are Jim.

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Tried to address

Josh, I tried to address this in the first (explanatory) post, 

 

But when it comes to the closest fellowship and identification, like  joining a church, denomination, or fellowship, to what degree do you separate over prophecy?

So we are not talking about personal fellowship; I mentioned if we separated on a personal level over eschatology, we would not be participating here at Sharper Iron.  The church plant question is the one you want to answer.

 

"The Midrash Detective"

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What Got Me Thinking

What got me thinking about this is the IFCA doctrinal statement (an organization I almost fit) that makes it look like different perspectives in the realm of eschatology are in the same category as being unclear about inspiration.  I do agree that a compromised "New Evangelicalism" exists, and I would personally separate from church membership if the church were not premillennial, but not over pretib, but I do not think that being amil, for example, makes one a New Evangelical.  It just makes one wrong, IMO. Sme with Covenant Theology. I would not join a church that does not see a special future for Israel, but that does not make one New Evangelical.

 

New Evangelicalism (Neo-Evangelicalism, New Conservatism) - These terms refer to that movement within evangelicalism characterized by a toleration of and a dialogue with theological liberalism. Its essence is seen in an emphasis upon the social application of the gospel and weak or unclear doctrines of: the inspiration of Scripture, biblical creationism, eschatology, dispensationalism, and separation. It is further characterized by an attempt to accommodate biblical Christianity and make it acceptable to the modern mind. We believe that these movements are out of harmony with the Word of God and the official doctrine and position of IFCA International and are inimical to the work of God.

"The Midrash Detective"

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Ed Vasicek wrote:

Ed Vasicek wrote:

Josh, I tried to address this in the first (explanatory) post, 

 

But when it comes to the closest fellowship and identification, like  joining a church, denomination, or fellowship, to what degree do you separate over prophecy?

So we are not talking about personal fellowship; I mentioned if we separated on a personal level over eschatology, we would not be participating here at Sharper Iron.  The church plant question is the one you want to answer.

 

Ok I see that now. Yes from that perspective then I would choose not to cooperate with a group that was ammilenial 

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Is being a user of Sharper Iron "fellowship"?

Ed said: "The fact that you are participating in Sharper Iron means you can fellowship, at some level, with those who hold different views of eschatology."

My comments:

  • I appreciate Sharper Iron
  • I've met face to face dozens of Sharper Iron users whom I would not have met had I not been a S/I user
  • But I'm not convinced that being a user of S/I, itself, is fellowship
  • As an aside, in 8+ years on S/I ... I'm convinced that some who have signed up (and some are gone) are abject heretics
  • I proposed that the S/I forum is a vehicle for fellowship but not per se fellowship
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Think About It from this angle...

Jim, All who sign -up for SI have to agree to the Doctrinal Statement.  We have that "in common."  We are ruling out, therefore, all those who do not meet that standard for purposes of fellowship at the discussion level (in theory).  That's why I said fellowship "at some level."  

We might find ourselves enjoying fellowship with someone at our church -- even our board -- to later discover that he or she is secretly on the heretical side, but our doctrinal statements, membership requirements, etc., attempt to screen people in theory -- and generally work.

Fellowship is not something you have or don't have, IMO; it comes in degrees.  The greater the agreement, the deeper the fellowship potential.

"The Midrash Detective"

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R.V. Clearwaters

Doc used to preach annihilation of the wicked from the pulpit. I used to sit smugly thinking my eternal suffering doctrine was more orthodox. I agree with him now.

The bible overwhelmingly speaks of "destruction" of the wicked once their punishment is completed. One has to strain the text to read into it everlasting suffering.

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how long

alex o. wrote:
The bible overwhelmingly speaks of "destruction" of the wicked once their punishment is completed.
How long does the Bible say it takes to complete their punishment?

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JohnBrian wrote:

JohnBrian wrote:

 

alex o. wrote:

The bible overwhelmingly speaks of "destruction" of the wicked once their punishment is completed.

How long does the Bible say it takes to complete their punishment?

 

My understanding is that it is individual, degrees of punishment.

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On Clearwaters

Alex, I am intrigued by your comments on Clearwaters. I never heard him preach. I am interested to know precisely how he articulated his views on annihilation, and what gave rise to them. Do you recall the texts to which he appealed, the contexts in which he uttered his views, and the theological rationale behind his understanding of the Scriptures? Thx, Mark

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I'd like to know more about the R V Clearwaters view too!

He mentions annihilation in The Local Church of the New Testament (link below):

http://www.centralseminary.edu/Resources/The%20Local%20Church%20of%20the...

The context is local church discipline. There are no page #'s but it looks to be about on page 33

"Expel the immoral member from membership (1 Corinthians 5:5, 13). The Greek word clethros does not mean annihilation (1 Thessalonians 5: 3;
2 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Timothy 6:9)."

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On Clearwaters

By the way Alex, I am not challenging your assertion. I am simply interested to know what you recall.

I beg that the interlocutors permit Alex to articulate what he recalls.

Mark

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I beg

...that this discussion about annihilationism be taken to another thread, where it belongs, and not on this thread, which is about fellowship and associations.

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Informal poll on R V Clearwaters and Annihilationism

I asked two friends whom I think would know and:

  • One is a fifty year old male who was in 4th Baptist Christian school
  • Another a 60+ year old pastor who is both a graduate of Central Seminary and was at 4th during 4 years of the R V Clearwaters years.

Both are skeptical. I would say .. highly skeptical. The pastor said the seminary profs would not have let that go unchallenged. 

 

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Jim wrote:

Jim wrote:

I asked two friends whom I think would know and:

  • One is a fifty year old male who was in 4th Baptist Christian school
  • Another a 60+ year old pastor who is both a graduate of Central Seminary and was at 4th during 4 years of the R V Clearwaters years.

Both are skeptical. I would say .. highly skeptical. The pastor said the seminary profs would not have let that go unchallenged.

As much as I recall it was an inference from what he said. He was not overt but that is what I clearly picked up. Could I have been wrong, maybe, but I don't think so. I listened with a laser ear and pondered everything he said. I was a member at Fourth from '76-81 or so until leaving to join a church in Plymouth,MN.

The best way to clear this up is to listen to what he said. Surely his sermons are available from WCTS.

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I think I can put the RV Clearwaters position "to bed"

I have in my hand the 4th Baptist Christian School handbook from 1980-81

  • R V Clearwaters is listed as the President of the School (front cover)
  • Page # 3 has the Statement of Faith "as adopted by the Fourth Baptist Church, October 29, 1925" ... Each statement starts "We believe in ... "
  • Page # 4 under point VI has "The eternal life in Christ of the saved and the eternal punishment of the lost"

 

Re: " Surely his sermons are available from WCTS"

Response: Please don't call me Shirley! 

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Jim wrote:

Jim wrote:

I have in my hand the 4th Baptist Christian School handbook from 1980-81

  • R V Clearwaters is listed as the President of the School (front cover)
  • Page # 3 has the Statement of Faith "as adopted by the Fourth Baptist Church, October 29, 1925" ... Each statement starts "We believe in ... "
  • Page # 4 under point VI has "The eternal life in Christ of the saved and the eternal punishment of the lost"

 

Re: " Surely his sermons are available from WCTS"

Response: Please don't call me Shirley! 

 

Hi Jim,

Was RVC the pastor in 1925? I do not believe he was.

I believe in the eternal punishment of the wicked too but doubt the eternal suffering. It is a dreadful punishment to taste life in this world and then be punished for one's sins and then annihilated. I think the doctrine of the immortality of the soul comes from Greek philosophy not from the Hebrew Scriptures is my position. 

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If

If a person is annihilated, then the punishment must (of necessity) end, since that person is no longer in existence.  Annihilationalism would make sense if sin were against a temporary being.  God, being eternal, is not temporary and therefore necessitates an infinite punishment, since it is an infinite transgression against Him.  To do otherwise, means that he is not just.

If you steal 10 Million dollars from the Feds, and pay them $50.00 because that's all you're able to pay, it may be merciful for them to forgive the debt, but it is not just.  Justice requires that the debt is paid in full.

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unconvincing

Jay wrote:

If a person is annihilated, then the punishment must (of necessity) end, since that person is no longer in existence.  Annihilationalism would make sense if sin were against a temporary being.  God, being eternal, is not temporary and therefore necessitates an infinite punishment, since it is an infinite transgression against Him.  To do otherwise, means that he is not just.

If you steal 10 Million dollars from the Feds, and pay them $50.00 because that's all you're able to pay, it may be merciful for them to forgive the debt, but it is not just.  Justice requires that the debt is paid in full.

Yes, Jay that is a main argument of those who believe in endless suffering but I remain unconvinced and don't believe your argument has "legs".

Just because God is eternal doesn't mean offenses against Him are eternal and require eternal meting out of punishment. I do not want to to "argue up" from what humans do to what God does, but by your example, the Feds. settle all the time for some payment over none. The vast majority of civil cases are "settled" instead of dragged out in court.

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Huh?

Just because God is eternal doesn't mean offenses against Him are eternal and require eternal meting out of punishment.

Have you read the book of Revelation lately?

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Judgment Before the Great White Throne

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

You'll note that anyone not found in the book of life is thrown into the lake of fire, which is described in v. 10 as lasting "forever and ever".

Or maybe Jesus was mistaken when He said:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
    
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

As an aside, Alex, can you affirm #9 of the site's doctrinal statement?  You have to do that to be a user of the site.

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I guess I am out then, bye

Jay wrote:

Just because God is eternal doesn't mean offenses against Him are eternal and require eternal meting out of punishment.

Have you read the book of Revelation lately?

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Judgment Before the Great White Throne

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

You'll note that anyone not found in the book of life is thrown into the lake of fire, which is described in v. 10 as lasting "forever and ever".

Or maybe Jesus was mistaken when He said:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
    
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

As an aside, Alex, can you affirm #9 of the site's doctrinal statement?  You have to do that to be a user of the site.

The unholy trinity, probably. Humans, as I mentioned. Not really compelling the verses you gave. Your view in my thinking is overly superficial.