Philosophy History 1PMT 2015-042 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Eschatology is a greatly abused feature of systematic theology. The modern evangelical world is filled with Rapture-theorists, Armageddon-fearers, and Antichrist-identifiers. The integrity of the Christian faith has taken a powerful hit due to the naivete of so many publications by “prophecy experts.”

Yet, eschatology is an important element within a full-orbed systematic theology. Despite its abuse by televangelists and novelists, we must be careful not to avoid it as an embarrassment to our holy faith. Indeed, we need to reclaim it as a fundamental feature of a Christian philosophy of history.

In this two-part study, I will outline some key elements of a biblical, Christian philosophy of history. At the end of this brief overview we will see how eschatology is one of those key elements that help define the faith.

The presuppositions undergirding the Christian philosophy of linear history include the following several elements, which I will only briefly present. We must bear these in mind as we engage in a study of postmillennialism, for if we do not we will throw eschatological inquiry into hopeless confusion. These elements undergird my understanding of the biblical eschatological system. The fundamental presuppositions of the Christian philosophy of history, which appear in both testaments, are: God, creation, providence, fall, redemption, revelation, and consummation.

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A proper view of history, its meaning, and purpose requires a proper view of God. God exists and is absolutely independent and wholly self-sufficient. In Exodus 3:14 he defines himself via his special covenantal name “YHWH” (“Yahweh / Jehovah”). This name is so prominent that the Scriptures can simply mention “the name” (Lev 24:11, 16). God jealously declares that this is his name “forever” (Ex 3:15). In Exodus 3:14 he identifies himself as: “I am that I am.” This self-designation is peculiarly important to our understanding of God. This name-statement is found in the imperfect tense in Hebrew, thereby emphasizing a constantly manifested quality.

From this name we may discern certain of God’s intrinsic qualities:

(1) His aseity: God exists of himself. He is wholly uncreated and self-existent. There is no principle or fact back of God accounting for his existence: “the Father has life in Himself” (Jn 5:26; Ac 17:25; cp. Isa 40:20–25). Indeed, “in the beginning God” (Ge 1:1a) — for he “created all things” (Eph 3:9).

(2) His eternity: He is of unlimited, eternal duration. The combination of the verb tense (imperfect) and its repetition (“I am” / “I am”) emphasize his uninterrupted, continuous existence. “From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God” (Ps 90:2; cp. Ps 93:1–2; Isa 40:28; 57:15).

(3) His sovereignty: He is absolutely self-determinative. He determines from within his own being. He can declare absolutely “I am that I am,” without fear of any overpowering or countervailing entity to challenge him. As the Absolute One he operates with unfettered liberty. He is not conditioned by outward circumstance. He is what he is because he is what he is. He is completely self-definitional and has no need of anything outside of himself (Isa 40:9–31), for “I am God, and there is no one like Me” (Ex 9:14; cp. Isa 44:7; Jer 50:44).

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(4) His immutability: He declares “I, the LORD, do not change” (Mal 3:6). He is forever the same, for in him “there is no variation, or shifting shadow” (Jas 1:17). Thus, we can trust that he will not change his mind or his plan in governing history, for “God is not a man, / that He should lie, / Nor a son of man, / that He should repent; / Has He said, and will He not do it? / Or had He spoken, and will / He not make it good?” (Nu 23:19).

This view of God, though obviously widely-held by Christians, is important to establish if postmillennialism is to stand against the objections brought against it. Once we have the God of Scripture behind our eschatological hope, objections will vanish away.

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  1. andersonex69 April 6, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Reblogged this on My Blog and commented:
    GOD is the GREAT I AM!

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