Volume 9, Number 1 (Spring 1998)

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  • by Robert L. Thomas

    General revelation's noticeable impact on biblical interpretation has resulted from applying a broader definition of general revelation than is justifiable. Considerations for prohibiting general revelation from including such matters as science, mathematics, literature, and music include the following: (1) "General" cannot refer the content of the revelation; (2) biblical references to general revelation limit it to information about God; (3) sin distorts human discoveries of the non-Christian world in secular fields; and (4) general revelation is readily accessible to all, not just to specialists in various fields. Hermeneutics deals with the principles of biblical interpretation. Unwarranted definitions of general revelation have led to widespread attempts to integrate general with special revelation, a step that is unwarranted because truth exists in varying degrees of certitude, all truth does not possess the same authority, all truth does not fall on receptive ears, and general revelation does not include the fields of secular study. The emergence of integrative efforts has coincided with a growing tentativeness in biblical hermeneutics because of the integration of secular disciplines with biblical hermeneutics. Psychology's promotion of self-love provides a good example of the adverse effects of general revelation and integration on biblical hermeneutics.

  • by William D. Barrick

    Ancient manuscripts have been the subject of many books, journal articles, and essays, but few have dealt with their relationship to biblical exposition. Yet the expositor has a vital role in preserving what those ancient manuscripts of the Bible contribute to an accurate knowledge of Old and New Testaments. Few works on systematic theology deal with the important doctrine of preservation, yet Scripture itself deals extensively with that doctrine. To do his part in implementing that doctrine, the expositor must examine his text in the original languages, identify the text's original statement, and expound that original text. He must practice the doctrine of preservation by participating in that preservation.

  • by Michael A. Grisanti

    In describing Israel’s relationship to the nations, Isaiah 40–55 represents three loci of tension: either divine blessings for Israel alone or for the entire world also, Israel as either an active witness or a passive one, and either the nations as subject to Israel or as coequal with Israel in their standing before God. Israel’s mission to the world is either centripetal (inward moving) or centrifugal (outward moving). Biblical scholars have debated which it is. Attempts to explain fluctuation in the prophet’s message between the two possibilities have included elimination of certain passages, consideration of redactional layers, redefinition of terms, and pointing out external circumstances in the prophet’s time. A correct understanding does not consist in explaining away one side of the tension, but in recognizing God’s future restoration of the nation as a means of extending redemptive benefits to the nations, His blessing of the nations after their judgment, and His use of Israel to rule the nations at the same time that His chosen people are a vehicle to bless the nations.

  • by Wayne A. Mack

    A belief in Biblical inerrancy entails an affirmation of Scripture's sufficiency for understanding and resolving the non-physical problems of man. Counseling that is truly Christian must be Christ-centered, church-centered, and Bible-based. Various contemporary approaches to counseling question the sufficiency of Scripture, namely the two-book, the no-book, and the filtering device approaches. All three join in affirming that the traditional biblical resources for dealing with man's problems are not enough. They fail to take into account, however, the finiteness of man's knowledge, the depravity of human nature, and the sufficiency of Scripture. Psalm 19:7-11, 2 Timothy 3:15-17, and 2 Peter 1:2-7 affirm clearly the sufficiency of Scripture and Christ in dealing with man's problems. Secular psychological principles are unnecessary and may even be harmful in trying to understand and help people.

  • by Alva J. McClain

    Those participating in Christological controversies that followed the Nicene Council sought to reconcile proper deity and true humanity in the Person of Jesus Christ, but in doing so, they often neglected the humanity of Christ. The Reformers did not solve the problem, but they restored a proper emphasis to Christ's humanity. Subsequent to the Reformation, scholars tended to underplay His deity. Careful attention to the details of Phil 2:5-8 helps to state as well as the human mind can comprehend just what the kenosis involved and hence how His humanity and deity related to each other. He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death. He stooped to servanthood and death with all the sovereign free will of One whose choices are limited only by His own holy and loving will.

Volume 9, Number 2 (Fall 1998)

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  • by Richard L. Mayhue

    The plethora of literature produced in the last two decades on the basic nature of hell indicates a growing debate in evangelicalism that has not been experienced since the latter half of the nineteenth century. This introductory article to the entire theme issue of TMSJ sets forth the context of the question of whether hell involves conscious torment forever in Gehenna for unbelievers or their annihilation after the final judgment. It discusses historical, philosophical, lexical, contextual, and theological issues that prove crucial to reaching a definitive biblical conclusion. In the end, hell is a conscious, personal torment forever; it is not "just for awhile" before annihilation after the final judgment (conditional immortality) nor is its final retribution "never" (universalism).

  • by Robert L. Thomas

    Jesus' last extended teaching about how the lost would spend eternity came in His description of the sheep-and-goat judgment in Matt 25:31-46 where He made pronouncements of judgment regarding two groups. The pronouncements will come when He returns to earth to initiate His millennial reign and will deal specifically with the living Gentiles on earth at that time. He will reach His verdict on the basis of how the two groups have treated believing Israelites during the persecutions of Daniel's seventieth week, treatments that will reflect whether they have trusted in Him to receive eternal life. The consequences of Jesus' pronouncements will be happy for believers, but for unbelievers they will be unspeakably horrible. The latter group, the goats, will depart from His presence into unending punishment worse than the suffering one experiences when he has his flesh consumed with fire. Evangelicals who have flirted with notions of watering down Jesus' teachings on the subject would do well to pay closer attention to His words.

  • by James E. Rosscup

    Paul did not deal in as much detail with eternal punishment as did Jesus in the gospels and John in Revelation, but what he did write matches with their fuller descriptions in many points. This is to be expected because of Paul's strong commitment to Jesus Christ. In Rom 2:6-10 he wrote about God's anger in punishing the lost and the anguish they will suffer as a result. In Rom 9:22-23 he spoke of "vessels of wrath fitted for destruction," a destruction that consists of an ongoing grief brought on as a consequence of God's wrath. Second Thess 1:8-9 is a third passage that reflects his teaching on eternal punishment. There "eternal destruction" represents a different Greek expression, one that depicts a ruin that lost people continue to suffer forever as they are denied opportunity to be with Christ. Paul's failure to use a number of other words in expressions that could have expressed annihilation of the unsaved is further indication of his harmony with Jesus and John in teaching an unending punishment that the unsaved will consciously experience.

  • by Trevor C. Craigen

    Church history has witnessed many challenges to the traditional doctrine of eternal punishment, but John's Revelation-particular chapters 14 and 20-emphasizes the effect of this life's belief or unbelief on afterlife consequences. The angelic warning in Revelation 14 speaks of the eternal penalty resulting from the wrath of God in concert with Revelation 20 and its apostolic announcement that describes the same in terms of the lake of fire and the second death. The two passages specifically contradict recent claims that future punishment is remedial, not retributive. They also point out that God's righteousness and holiness will prevail over His love, mercy, and grace in dealings with the lost after this life ends. Neither do they allow for the idea that the punishment is not conscious torment. They teach that the unsaved will experience the same fate as Satan, the beast, the false prophet, and demons. These chapters in John's Revelation do not constitute an empty threat that God will not implement. They instill a fear that is justified in light of the irreversible consequences of divine judgment.

  • by Larry D. Pettegrew

    Annihilationism has, as the Niagara Creed of 1878 foresaw, become a doctrine that plagues the evangelical church of the late twentieth century. It comprises a multifaceted compromise of biblical systematic theology, affecting most major doctrines of the Christian faith, not just the area of eschatology. Its compromise stems from the influence of postmodernism as proponents of annihilationism bring to the text unwarranted theological preunderstandings. Their emphasis on God's nature to love disregards His many other attributes such as holiness, justice, truth, grace, and omnipotence and thereby sentimentalize God's love. Further, their preunderstandings distort biblical teaching about man's immortality of the soul that is derived from God. A third affected area is the doctrine of sin when they assert that God would be vindictive to mete out eternal punishment for finite sin. In addition, the system of annihilationism undervalues Christ's atonement for sin by claiming that His death only paid the price for man's temporary rather than our eternal punishment.