Protestant Reformation 009Matthew 16:20-23 • Dr. Andy Woods • August 13, 2017 • Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation 009
8-13-17 Matthew 16:20-23 Lesson 30
Good morning everybody; does anybody need a handout; just put your hand up and we’ll give you a handout. I appreciate Jim McGowan filling in last week; I trust you guys enjoyed his teaching. I heard some yes’s so that’s… [someone says amen] Amen, good, good! I’m back from the left coast, back from the people’s republic of California, and it’s still there, California is still there I can safely report.
The last time I was with you we were continuing on with our study on The Protestant Reformation since this October is the big 500 year anniversary and here’s sort of the outline we’ve been following as we’re trying to grow in our appreciation for the Protestant Reformers. We started with the early church and basically the school of Antioch, as we’ve talked about, the literal method of interpretation that they embraced for two centuries. And from there we went into what went wrong because if you don’t understand what went wrong and what got lost you can’t really understand why God raised up the Reformers.
So that took us into part 2, which I call the Alexandrian eclipse and the circle down in the south there, Alexandria, Egypt, moved away from literal interpretation. They began to wildly allegorize Bible prophecy but the Bible in general. And we’ve gone into a lot of detail explaining why allegorization is not a proper method of interpretation. And we went through all of the different reasons why this became like the fad in Christendom. So following the influence of Alexandria, Egypt, the church becomes highly allegorical in its approach to the Bible. And this plummets Christendom for a thousand years into a period of time called the Middle Ages or the Dark Ages which we’ve explained in depth. And the bottom line to the whole thing, if you want to just take a sentence away from it is the dark ages removed from the people, the ordinary people, the Bible and it put the priests in a position of authority over the sheep and they were basically manipulated. They became devices for moneymaking and that kind of thing and it’s hard to combat that when you don’t have a Bible to test all things by. Right?
So once you understand that background then you begin to understand what God is doing in the 16th century through His raising up of the Protestant Reformers. So the Protestant Reformers basically restored to the church the Bible in terms of accessibility, in terms of understandability through the literal method of interpretation. And we’ve gone through this whole list but probably the main thing to know is that the Reformers restored to the church the five solas. Sola means what? Alone, so they restored to the church sola gratia, grace alone; sola fide, faith alone, sola Christus, Christ alone, sola deo Gloria, to the glory of God alone. And let me know if I’ve repeated this; have I said sola Scriptura yet? My brain is still on west coast time. Scripture alone. So they anchored their case in the restoration of the church in the Bible and the Bible alone. So they switched the authority. Prior to this point in time the Roman Catholic system was the authority. And the Reformers came along and some of them lost their lives, as we’ve talked bout, in reclaiming this truth; they said the authority is not the Catholic Church, or the church, the authority is the Scripture. So we can look back at the Reformers and we can rejoice in what they accomplished.
And as we get into October most people are going to give you that side of the story, what I just articulated in the last five minutes or so. And what I want to do is continue on with the story and I want to show you what the Reformers left incomplete. So that’s why I’ve entitled this whole teaching series The Protestant Reformation, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. And so many times we are so appreciative of what the Reformers have done that we have a tendency to sort of whitewash history and ignore or suppress some of the bad.
And there is some bad that you need to be aware of and once you understand the bad you begin to understand why God in church history raised up other people, outside of the Reform tradition to restore truths to the church that Alexandria, Egypt’s method of allegorization had also subverted. In other words, the only thing to be restored in the mind of God was not just the five solas; the five solas is a big deal, it’s a key domino falling but once that domino falls other people start to get touched by the Holy Spirit and they begin to use the same method of interpretation that the Reformers used to restore the church in the area of the five solas, and they begin to apply it to other parts of the Bible that the Reformers left untouched.
So let’s talk about what the Reformers did not do and let’s move into Roman numeral V, The Reformers Incomplete Revolution. Here we are with Roman numeral V and here’s the things we’re going to walk through on our outline. The first area is Protology; ology means what? Study of, so Protology is the study of the beginnings. And this is actually one of the things I really appreciate about the Protestant Reformers; as far as I can tell they did not play games with early Genesis. They took early Genesis, Genesis 1-11, in its literal sense.
Now this was before 1859. What was published in 1959? Darwin’s Origin of the Species. Once Darwin’s Origin of the Species is published the Christian church begins to take a, what I call a backward Christian soldier philosophy with early Genesis. And what I mean by that is they became intimidated by what the (quote) “scientists” were saying about the age of the earth, that beginning with… oh, I don’t know, W. H. Greene, there’s a number of people I could point to, they began to say well, you know what, we need to start rewriting Genesis 1-11 to keep ourselves relevant. So the post Darwin church came up with all kinds of beliefs about early Genesis that you don’t find in the pages of God’s Word: the day age theory, each of the creation days is an age, not a literal day even though it says evening and morning after every day.
They began to come up with theistic evolution which tries to mix Darwinism with Scripture. They began to come up with the local flood theory because they bought into what the scientists were saying related to the fossil record; they said the fossil record accumulated over billions of years. And our explanation to the fossil record is the fossil record is explainable basically through the global deluge. There’s things in the fossil record I could show you that can’t be explained unless you understand that a sudden judgment hit this earth. There’s one fossil consuming another and while in the process of digestion they are fossilized in that condition. I mean, that doesn’t lend itself to a billions of years mindset. But if you reject that you’ve got to say well, the fossil record really came about because of billions of years. Well, what do you do with the flood then? You shrink it, you pretend like the flood didn’t cover the whole earth; you pretend like the flood was a local event.
So these are all what I would call compromises that the evangelical church came up with post 1859. And the book that reversed, or gave the church another way out is the book, The Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Morris. Henry Morris, the scientist (now deceased), John Whitcomb, the Hebrew scholar who’s still alive today but I think he has Parkinson’s so his ministry appears to be coming to an end. But the two of them around 1960 got together and they said you know, enough with this nonsense about rewriting Genesis, let’s go out and challenge what these scientists are saying. So they challenged evolution on the grounds that there is no such thing as the missing link, they challenged 14 carbon dating on the grounds that it really wasn’t as accurate as everybody makes it out to be. They challenged the fossil record as interpreted, not through billions of years but a sudden deluge. So 1859 the church moves into a backward Christian soldier strategy, until the Genesis flood, 1960, which gave us a different way of interpreting these things, where we could maintain the integrity of the Book of Genesis, 1-11, and interpret so-called scientific findings in light of a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11.
So having said all that, the Reformers are way back in the 16th century; Darwin doesn’t come along until the 19th century. So the Reformers weren’t under all of this pressure to rewrite the Book of Genesis. So what you find in the Reformers is they took their literal method of interpretation that they used to reclaim the five solas and they applied it, I think very well, to Protology, the doctrine of the beginnings. So you don’t find in the Protestant Reformers the day age theory, progressive creation, theistic evolution, and these kinds of ideas.
Notice what Martin Luther says, pre-Darwin. He says, “We know from Moses that the world was not in existence before 6,000 years ago…He calls ‘a spade a spade,’ i.e., he employs the term ‘day’ and ‘evening’ without allegory, just as we customarily do… we assert that Moses spoke in the literal sense, not allegorically or figuratively, i.e., that the world, with all its creatures, was created within six days, as the words read. If we do not comprehend the reason for this, let us remain pupils and leave the job of the teacher to the Holy Spirit.” [“Lectures on Genesis 1–5,” in Luther’s Works, ed. Jaroslav Peliken (St. Louis: Concordia, 1958), 3, 6.]
So there’s Martin Luther saying I’m standing on the literal interpretation of the Bible to reclaim the five solas, including Genesis 1-11. And as I’ve said before he’s in the 16th century, Darwin doesn’t come along until the 19th century. So he’s not under the pressure that evangelicals find themselves under today when they want to stand on a literal method of interpretation of Genesis 1-11. So I throw this in to show you this is one of the things I appreciate about the Protestant Reformers.
John Calvin says basically the same thing. In his Institutes he says, “And they will not refrain from guffaws when they are informed that but little more than five thousand years have passed since the creation of the universe…Must we pass over in silence the creation of the universe? No! God’s truth is so powerful, both in this respect and in every other, that it has nothing to fear from the evil speaking of wicked men.” [Institutes of the Christian Religion, III, xxi, 4.]
So Luther, Calvin are literal, including Genesis 1-11. When you go to Genesis 7:19-23 this is a description of the flood. Now as you read this, tell me, do you think the flood covered the whole earth or not. It says in Genesis 7:19-23, “They” that’s the flood waters, “rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heaven were covered…Every living thing that moved on the earth perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.” Now does that look like the flood covered the whole world?
In fact, if you look at verse 19 it says “all the mountains under the entire heaven were covered.” In other words it’s in Hebrew all, in Hebrew I think you pronounce it kol, it kind of looks like k-o-l when you transliterate it into English and there’s a double all there in Genesis 7:19. So it’s very clear, at least in my mind, that the flood waters covered the whole earth. But you see, post Darwin people said well, you know, gee, you can’t explain the fossil record in terms of sudden catastrophe; you can only explain the fossil record in terms of billions and billions of years. So what did people do if they’re evangelicals? They followed a backward Christian soldier strategy where they started to rewrite the Book of Genesis and one of the things they came up with to accommodate the Bible and so-called science, which I don’t even think is science. 1 Timothy 6:20 talks about people advocating so-called science. It’s really a philosophy masquerading as a science, all of this evolutionary type stuff. [1 Timothy 6:20, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’”]
But they said gee whiz, the scientists are saying one thing, the Bible is saying something else, I know what I’ll do, I’ll mix the two and if the scientists are telling me that the fossil record is the result of billions of years then I’ve got to do something with the flood so I’ll just shrink it and make it local and that way I can hold onto the Bible and hold onto so-called science at the same time.
And when I talk like this I’m sort of speaking from personal experience because this is what I did for years as a new Christian. You know, having graduated from public high school, Jr. high, high school, elementary school, I was taught that evolution is a fact; you cannot challenge evolution. So then about the age of 16 I got saved so what then is my natural tendency. Well, I believe the Bible now but I’ve been taught that evolution is a fact so my temptation was to mix evolution with the Bible. I tried to syncretize or synthesize the belief so I gravitated towards all of these theories as a young Christian, before the Whitcomb and Morris book kind of straightened me out, that showed me I didn’t have to do this, I could hold to the integrity of the Bible and go out and challenge what the scientific world is saying.
So all of that to say a lot of people today will tell you the flood never covered the whole earth and my only point is that’s not what the Reformers believed; these are pre-Darwin interpreters and here’s John Calvin on the flood. He says, ““And the flood was forty days, etc. Moses conspicuously insists on this fact, in order to show that the whole world was immersed in the waters.” [John Calvin, Genesis, 1554 (Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth, 1984), p. 272, emphasis mine]
So when you get into protology, the doctrine of the beginnings with the Protestant Reformers, pre Charles Darwin, what you’re going to discover to a large extent is a belief in a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11. The same literal grammatical historical method of interpretation that they used to restore the five solas to the church they applied very aggressively to Genesis 1-11. And so from my vantage point my hat is off to them in that respect. However, as you get into the Protestant Reformers what you start to find is a very selective literal interpretation. Yes, they’re very good with the solas; yes, they’re very good with Genesis 1-11. But what you start to discover is they carried allegorization with them into other areas of Bible interpretation, including ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church, and eschatology, the doctrine of the end time.
So Roy Zuck, who was my Sunday School teacher, and Anne’s Sunday School teacher by the way, when we lived in Dallas and in his book, Basic Bible Interpretation, writes this of Martin Luther. He says, “Though Luther vehemently opposed the allegorizing of Scripture, he too occasionally allegorized. For instance, he stated that Noah’s Ark is an allegory of the Church. For Luther, Bible interpretation is to be centered in Christ. Rather than allegorizing the Old Testament, he saw Christ frequently in the Old Testament, often beyond what is legitimately provided for in proper interpretation.” [Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation: A Practical Guide to Discovering Biblical Truth (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 1991), 45.]
So Luther had basically what’s called a Christocentric hermeneutic, so he wanted to see Jesus everywhere and I can’t really fault him for that, right? But the problem with that is you start to see Jesus, as you go through the Old Testament, under every rock and tree, everything’s about Jesus. And the problem is when you actually look at the words of a lot of the text they use, in their literal sense they’re not really talking about Jesus. So Zuck’s point is Luther was aggressively against allegorization in certain areas but he opened the door to allegorization in other areas. So his literal interpretation is very selective.
That’s why when Charles Ryrie articulates (and we’ll be getting into this later in our study) what’s called the sine qua non of dispensationalism which means “without which there is nothing.” He says the first rule you have to hold to is not just literal interpretation but what kind of interpretation? Literal interpretation consistently applied. When you apply literal interpretation that the Reformers used to restore the solas and you start to apply it to the doctrine of the church and you start to apply it to the doctrine of the end times what you’ll start to see is the eschatological end times system that we promote here. It’s the product of a literal interpretation but you’re not going to find our beliefs about eschatology or our beliefs about ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church), in the Protestant Reformers. Why is that? Because the Protestant Reformers didn’t go far enough with literal interpretation. They used literal interpretation effectively to rescue the church in certain areas but they’re very selective in their approach and that’s what Roy Zuck here is pointing out.
So consequently the Protestant Reformers did not deal with eschatology. You all know what eschatology is, right? The study of the end. They did not deal with eschatology in depth. In fact, they actually ignored the subject of eschatology. John Calvin wrote a commentary on every single New Testament book except he did not write a commentary on the Book of 2 John; he did not write a commentary on the Book of 3 John and he did not write a commentary on which other big eschatological book am I thinking of? The Book of Revelation.
So the fact that you have this voluminous writer, John Calvin, and this is one of the reasons people like John Calvin is he comments on basically every verse in the entire Bible. So he’s a voluminous writer, he’s a voluminous speaker, he’s a voluminous preacher and yet when he gets into the Book of Revelation he basically doesn’t write a commentary on it on the grounds that the Book of Revelation can’t be understood. So what you have in the Protestant Reformers, although there’s an aggressive stand on protology, you have this very selective literal interpretation; they apply it in some areas but not others and they really don’t deal with eschatological issues.
And continuing on with our list here, the Protestant Reformers retain Augustinian amillennialism. Now where did amillennialism start. What is amillennialism? “A” is a negation, millennium means what? thousand years, it’s actually a Latin word. Amillennialism is not found in the Bible any more than premillennialism is or postmillennialism is. Millennium is a compound word coming from two different Latin words, milli meaning a thousand and annum meaning years. So an amillennialist is someone who denies the literal thousand year reign of Christ on planet earth.
I am not an amillennialist; Sugar Land Bible Church is not amillennial, we are premillennial meaning Jesus Christ comes back first, Revelation 19 and then what follows after his return? His thousand year kingdom. So we’re premillennial, meaning Jesus Christ comes back before the millennium. In other words, we’re not going to have the millennial kingdom until you have the King seated on David’s throne on planet earth reigning from Jerusalem.
You say well who cares? Well, it’s a big deal because if you don’t believe that it confuses what you think you’re doing in the present. Do you realize how many churches are out there today trying to set up a kingdom and how the word “kingdom” keeps showing up in their mission statements and visions statements? Do you realize across this country how many churches will not give the gospel today but instead will talk about social justice issues, the environment, racial issues, of course that’s going to be a big topic today because of what just happened in the news. And you see that all is an outworking of an amillennial or a postmillennial mindset where they basically are trying to fix all of these problems in the world. I don’t really waste my time with that stuff because of my eschatology. My eschatology is premillennial meaning you’re not going to have kingdom conditions until who is present? The king!
And so therefore I’m a proponent of let’s go out and vote, let’s do this and that but I always promote in terms of holding back the tide of evil, slowing down the tide of evil maybe a millimeter is the best we can do because we’re not going to set up a kingdom. I believe that because I’m not amillennial or postmillennial, I’m premillennial. So my time is spent trying to reach and teach, evangelize and disciple. You look at all these phrases, amillennial, postmillennial, premillennial, some people say I’m pan-millennial, it’s all going to pan out in the end, and they don’t really care about it but the reason you should care is because it controls what you think the local church should be doing. It goes directly to your philosophy of the local church.
So what you find in the Protestant Reformers is they take amillennialism, which began where? Where did amillennialism begin (as we’ve studied)? Alexandria, Egypt. Amillennialism dominates the church all the way through the Middle Ages. What do the Protestant Reformers do? They don’t apply their literal method of interpretation to the issue of amillennialism, they just carry it over. And so they retain Augustinian amillennialism. Remember, it was Augustine by about the time of the fourth century his book, The City of God, that he took the doctrine of amillennialism and he crystalized it into the form of an actual formal written treatise and this is what influences the church throughout the Middle Ages. And this doctrine is influencing certain sectors of Christianity today, Reformed churches. The very churches that Luther and Calvin started as a protest movement. Those churches remain amillennial even as I speak. Why? Because the Reformers never took their literal method of interpretation and applied it consistently. They applied it selectively; they applied it piecemeal but they never applied it to everything.
So Augustine, back in the fourth century, in his book, The City of God, is very clear; he says, “Therefore the Church even now is the kingdom of Christ, and the kingdom of heaven. That’s a watershed book, a watershed statement; it exerts great influence over the church throughout the Middle Ages. God raised up Luther, Calvin, and others to rescue the church in certain areas but they just kept hold on amillennialism and never applied their literal interpretation to amillennialism. So John Calvin says this: “Augustine” that’s the guy I just quoted from all the way back in the fourth century, Calvin now, in the sixteenth century is saying “Augustine is so wholly with me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so with all fullness and satisfaction to myself out of his writings.” And you have to understand that here Calvin is acknowledging his dependence upon the theology of Augustine. He quotes Augustine in his writings over and over and over and over and over again.
Why am I bringing this up? I’m bringing this up to show you that Calvin rejected Augustinianism in the area of the five solas, and praise God for that. These reformers rescue the church in the area of the five solas but they kept their Augustinian baggage with them, uncorrected, into the Protestant Reformation and into Reformed churches that were birthed out of the Protestant Reformation. So when you go into a Reformed church today it’s sort of like what I would call a hybrid; it is Protestant in certain areas but it remains Romana Catholic in other areas. And as I’ll be sharing with you the great weakness of Reformed tradition and Reformed theology, as much as I wake up every day and thank God for the Protestant Reformers. But the weakness of the Reformed tradition is they assume there was no more progress to be made. They assumed that they had conquered everything there was to conquer. And yet what did God say to Joshua? There is much land left to be conquered. [Joshua 13:1, “Now Joshua was old and advanced in years when the LORD said to him, ‘You are old and advanced in years, and very much of the land remains to be possessed.’”]
The Reformed tradition doesn’t think that way; they think they’ve conquered all that needs to be conquered so they have a Protestant doctrine in certain areas, the five solas, soteriology, but there is a ton of Roman Catholic baggage that they carried with them into the Reform tradition and they froze their progress in terms of creeds, like the Westminster Confession, they become the authority, not the Scripture, even though the Reformers were all about the Scripture, at least in reclaiming the five solas. And the creed assumes that there’s no more progress to be made. That’s why I call the Protestant Reformation an incomplete revolution. I mean, the Protestant Reformation was fantastic in the sense that it gave us the tools… the tools whereby doctrines could be reclaimed that were lost due to the influence of Alexandria, Egypt.
But what God has wanted is that tool to be applied consistently, from Genesis to Revelation, and what I’m trying to show you is the Protestant Reformers didn’t do that. The Reformed tradition today doesn’t do that. And this is why God began to raise up other people, that I’ll be sharing with you in this series, that took the method of the Protestant Reformers and started applying it to the whole Bible. So here Calvin is admitting that he’s still operating largely under the influence of Augustine.
And here is John Calvin in his Institutes, Institutes of the Christian Religion, which he wrote about the age of 27. And that sort of bothers me about taking the writings of John Calvin and elevating them to such a level. I mean, how many 27 year olds do you assign equal weight to the Scripture to? I mean, what did I know when I was 27? Basically nothing, and I feel that now at the age of 50 I still hardly know anything, but as little as I know now I knew a lot less at the age of 27. I mean, I would be scared to death if someone took something I wrote at the age of 27 and put it on equal level with the Bible.
So here is John Calvin trashing what I’ve tried to describe as premillennialism. What do they call premillennialism back in Antioch? Remember the fancy word? Chiliasm. So here is Calving trashing Chiliasm which we call premillennialism, which is a belief in a future reign of Christ. And I’ve got the exact quote where you can look this up in his Institutes of the Christian Religion which he wrote at age 27, which are readily available.
He says, ““But Satan has not only befuddled men’s senses to make them bury with the corpses the memory of resurrection; he has also attempted to corrupt this part of the doctrine with various falsifications…Now their fiction is too childish” what is he talking about here? He’s talking about premillennialism, the belief in an earthly reign of Christ; he’s saying that’s a childish doctrine. “Now their fiction” and when you get into Reformed circles they largely think that way today. They think all this emphasis we place on a future kingdom, a future tribulation period, a rapture of the church, is just childhood games. And you see that pride or that mindset in John Calvin himself.
He says, “Now their fiction is too childish either to need or to be worth a refutation. And the Apocalypse, from which they undoubtedly drew a pretext for their error, does not support them. For the number ‘one thousand’ [Rev. 20:4] does not apply to the eternal blessedness of the church but only to the various disturbances that awaited the church, while still toiling on earth… Those who assign the children of God a thousand years in which to enjoy the inheritance of the life to come do not realize how much reproach” that’s pretty strong language, isn’t it, “they are casting upon Christ and his Kingdom.” [Institutes of the Christian Religion, III, xxv, 5.]
What is he trying to say? We’re in the kingdom now so don’t come up with some interpretation from Revelation 20 about a future kingdom of a thousand years, we’re in the kingdom now. So if you say the kingdom is future and not present you are engaging in a childish fantasy and you’re actually casting reproach upon the real kingdom that exists now.
Now where did Calvin get this idea? He got it from who? Augustine. Didn’t he say that in his writings, “Augustine is so wholly with me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so with all fullness and satisfaction to myself out of his writings.” So who are these Protestant Reformers? How do you look at them? You look at them as people that God used in a certain area, the five solas. But you don’t Carte Blanche surrender to everything they ever taught because as I’m trying to document the Reformers themselves did not consistently apply their own method of interpretation. They remained amillennial.
John Calvin goes on and here he is talking about the Jews. What was the attitude of the Protestant Reformers towards the Jews. Anti-Semitism dominated Middle Ages thinking. Anti-Semitism is this idea that the Jews are the cursed race, the Jews are the Christ-killers. Are the Jews the Christ-killers? Who did Jesus die for? “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son,” last time I checked I’m a Christ-killer and so are you. You can’t blame the whole thing on the Jews because Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. Amen!
Now it is true that the leadership of first century Israel was instrumental in breaking every rule of evidence that they had to rush Christ through the justice system to get him dead; I mean, they certainly are partial culprits but the Romans played a role in it too, didn’t they? You know, Pilate remained willfully ignorant of what was happening and so we can blame the Romans. We should also blame ourselves because the last time I checked Jesus died for the sins of the whole world.
But you see, Middle Ages thinking is you blame it all on the Jews. So the Jews are mischaracterized as Christ-killers all the way through the Middle Ages. They are looked at as the cursed race and what begins to develop out of that is replacement theology. What is replacement theology? It’s this idea that the church, the kingdom of God so called, has permanently replaced Israel in the plan and program of God. Most of Christendom within the United States of America by denominational affiliation I’m talking about, I don’t know what every individual Christian believes within every single church, but by the articulation of major denominations within Christendom, within the United States, most of Christendom within the United States of America and worldwide for that matter is into replacement theology. They’re basically… first of all, a lot of times they’re not even taught on these subjects but when they’re taught on these subjects the idea is Israel, they are the Christ-killers so therefore all of Israel’s blessings have been transferred to who? To the church, that they call the new Israel, even though the word Israel is used 73 times in the New Testament and guess what it means every single time? Israel. It always refers to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
But don’t bother me with all that literal interpretation stuff, don’t let your literal interpretation get in the way of my theology; the Jews are the cursed race, all of Israel’s promises have been given to the church. Now they have to wildly spiritualize those promises because those promises are all earthly in nature. Then you ask them, well Mr. Replacement Theologian, what about the curses given to Israel? Do those apply to the church? Oh no, we’ll leave those behind for the Jewish people, we’ll take all the blessings. And basically this is what is called replacement theology.
So they have no belief in a future kingdom headquartered in Jerusalem because the church is spiritually fulfilling all of that today. This is what Augustine taught in The City of God. This is what the church believed throughout the Middle Ages. Now the Reformers do their thing in the five solas but guess what they brought right in with them into Reformed theology? Replacement theology. They never used their literal method of interpretation to correct the church in the area of replacement theology.
So you see all kinds of statements in the writings of Calvin particularly, where the Jews have been cut off completely. There is no future for Israel. The best that can happen to a Jew is they can get saved and be part of the church. But when you start talking about a future role for Israel and a future kingdom headquartered in Jerusalem where the Jews will be made the head and not the tail as all of the Old Testament prophecies constantly tell us. You don’t find a shred of that in Luther’s doctrine, in Calvin’s doctrine, and you don’t find a shred of that even in Reformed Theology today. What I’m trying to say is the Protestant Reformers remained Catholic… are you with me on this, in the area of ecclesiology and eschatology and as much as the Reformed tradition hates it when you say this, the Reformed tradition today is still Catholic in certain areas. Not in the solas, but in these areas of ecclesiology and eschatology.
So Calvin says this in his Institutes of Christian Religion, which he wrote at which age? 27, so he knew everything at the age of 27, right. I’m not denying his brilliance, I mean this guy was brilliant. But the problem is people are putting Calvin’s writings on equal par with this Book. And that’s always dangerous, isn’t it. That moves into idolatry. And Calvin said a lot of great things and he said a lot of things that were flatly wrong. Calvin writes, “But by this public call, the Gentiles were not only made equal to the Jews, but seemed to be” what? “substituted into their place, as if the Jews had been dead.” [Institutes of the Christian Religion, II, xi, 12.]
Now what is that? That’s replacement theology. Did he invent replacement theology? No he didn’t but he sure carried it on into his new Reformed tradition, thanks to the influence of the man that he claimed total dependence on, a man named Augustine who developed this doctrine all the way back in the 4th century.
Here is another statement from John Calvin, it his sermon on 2 Samuel 24:24, he declares: “Now the Jews are cut off like broken limbs; we have taken their place. [John Calvin, Supplementa Calviniana, I, 766, 12f; quoted in Selderhuis, Calvin Handbook, 145.] Now you read something like that and you say well, hasn’t first century Israel or Israel as a whole been broken off? Yes, but doesn’t Paul very well explain in Romans 11 that the breaking off is but temporary? I mean, doesn’t Paul in Romans 11 develop the whole metaphor of the olive tree? And he talks about natural branches that have been disconnected from the olive tree. Those would be the Jews. And he talks about wild unnatural branches that have been connected in their place. Who would those wild olive branches be? That would be us, Gentile Christians.
But doesn’t Paul say in Romans 11:17, Romans 11:18 to the unnatural branches that have been grafted in, thank you. Doesn’t he say do not be arrogant towards the natural branches? [Romans 11:17, “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,  do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.”]
I would say John Calvin became very arrogant towards the natural branches and Paul’s whole point is if God can do the agricultural miracle of taking the unnatural branches and connecting them to a tree how hard do you think it is for God to reach out His hand and take the natural branches, that belong there in the first place, and reconnect them to their own tree. But you see, the doctrine of replacement theology is this idea that the unnatural branches, which would be us, are not just partakers, we are taker-overs of everything and we have inherited all of Israel’s promises (thank you allegorical interpretation) and we’ll leave the curses behind for the Jewish people.
That’s what the church believed all the way through the Middle Ages, all the way back to the fourth century, and I see no change in this doctrine in the writings of John Calvin and others. Calvin also declares them [Israel] to be “cut off from everything,” adding haughtily, “and we have succeeded them in their place.” [John Calvin, Supplementa Calviniana, II, 36, 28f; Sermon on Isa. 14:2; quoted in Selderhuis, Calvin Handbook, 145.]
There’s no room for arrogance on this subject; Paul is very clear about that in Romans 11:17-18. And yet I’m seeing arrogance in the writings of the Protestant Reformers on this subject. And we’ve living in a day of Logos software where all of John Calvin’s commentaries are on… as I mentioned before he wrote a commentary on virtually every book of the Bible except the Book of Revelation, all of his commentaries are available. And so you can go back in your Logos software program and get the John Calvin package and you’ll have access to virtually everything the man said, wrote, commented on publicly.
And notice his comments on Isaiah 35:1 which says, “The wilderness and the desert will be glad,” it’s speaking of the restoration of Israel in the end times, Calvin says, “This passage is explained in various ways. I pass by the dreams of the Jews,” do you want to take this literally and pretend it’s speaking of some kind of fulfillment for Israel on the future. That’s just a dream he says, that’s just a fantasy. “I pass by all the dreams of the Jews who apply all passages of this kind to the temporal reign of the Messiah,” chiliasm “which they have contrived by their own imagination…. I willingly view this passage as referring to Judea, and afterwards to other parts of the world….” It’s not about a future kingdom, it’s about the kingdom now.
Funny, I read Isaiah 35 I don’t see Europe in Isaiah 35, I see all Israel. “Let us now see when this prophecy was fulfilled, or shall be fulfilled. The Lord began some kind of restoration when he brought his people out of Babylon: but that was only a foretaste, and, therefore, I have no hesitation in saying that this passage, as well as others of a similar kind, must refer to the kingdom of Christ;” now in his mind where is “the kingdom of Christ? We’re in it now, this is the kingdom of Christ. This passage is not speaking of future Israel’s restoration, this passage, thank you allegorical interpretation, which allows you to de-literalize words of a passage, applies to the kingdom of God now. “… and in no other light could it be viewed,” in other words it’s so obvious anybody can see this.
Well John, if I can call you John by your first name, it’s obvious to you because you’ve got the wrong lenses on; you’re reading it through the Augustinian lens. Take your lens off and read it through literal interpretation which you yourself advocated for. And I thank God you advocated for it. Why don’t you take your same literal method of interpretation and apply it to this passage; get rid of the Augustinian lenses and you’ll see clearly, but you don’t find that in the Protestant Reformers. “… and in no other light could it be viewed, if we compare it with other prophecies,” he says. [Commentary on Isaiah 35:1— “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad.”]
And here he’s commenting on Amos 9:13, which says, “Behold the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed: and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.” When you read that in Amos 9 it’s Israel’s restoration in her kingdom and she’ll never be uprooted again; that’s what it’s talking about.
So how does Calvin handle that passage? “Here the Prophet describes the felicity which shall be under the reign of Christ: and we know that whenever the Prophets set forth promises of a happy and prosperous state to God’s people, they adopt” what kind of expressions? “metaphorical expressions.” Well, wait a minute, what happened to the guy that stood on literal interpretation and challenged Rome and risked his own life in the process. What happened to that guy? He’s gone now. And I read John Calvin and it’s like “will the real John Calvin stand up.” I don’t want the allegorizer, I want the literalist. And yet you see here that he’s obviously not applying literal interpretation to Amos 9:13, he says very clearly this is metaphorical. “… and say, that abundance of all good things shall flow, that there shall be the most fruitful produce, that provisions shall be bountifully supplied; for they accommodated their mode of speaking to the notions of that ancient people;” Now that word accommodated you should pay attention to. It’s a fancy way for saying God is lying. When you see the word accommodate just substitute the word lie. Guess what folks? God can’t what? Lie! Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18, Numbers 23:19.
[Titus 1:2, “in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago.” Hebrews 6:18, “so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.” Numbers 23:19, “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 has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”]
And he’s just sort of speaking in childish terms to childish people who are too childish to understand real interpretation. So basically he’s speaking… I don’t know, bedtime fantasies to people because they don’t know any better. So that’s what he means by “accommodated.” God is accommodating to the stupidity of people that actually believe in a literal kingdom. That’s his view of eschatology. They (the prophets) “accommodated their mode of speaking to the notions of that ancient people; it is therefore no wonder if they sometimes speak to them as to children. At the same time, the Spirit under these figurative expressions” see he thinks this is all allegorical, “declares, that the kingdom of Christ shall in every way be happy and blessed, or that the” what? “Church of God, which means” the what, “the same thing, shall be blessed, when Christ shall begin to reign.”
What he’s saying is this is not literal stuff here in the book of Amos, chapter 9. It looks literal to you because you’re childish and God is speaking to you in childish terms but WE are graduates of the school of Alexandria Egypt, and WE know how to interpret the Bible. And that this is REALLY talking about, and if you had my intellect and intelligence you could understand what this is really talking about is a spiritual kingdom which is happening now. It’s not talking about a future literal kingdom.
One more, Zechariah 14:4, which says, And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives…and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west….” How do you interpret , Zechariah 14:4? What does that really mean? I think I know what it means: when Jesus comes back He’s going to stand on the Mount of Olives and the Mount of Olives is going to what? Split in half. But you see, Calvin basically develops this whole soteriological meaning from this passage, Lorraine Boettner, who wrote a book defending Calvin and Calvinism says, “This is Jesus Christ coming into the human heart when a person trusts Christ as Savior.” Their heart is wrent. Well, I give them an A for creativity; I five them an F for exegesis because that’s not what the passage says. But you see, this is so common amongst the Reformed tradition they just rewrite these passages via the tool they’ve been given from Alexandria, Egypt, called allegorization.
So Calvin, of this passage says, “For as we are dull and entangled in earthly thoughts our minds can hardly rise up to heaven through the Lord with a clear voice invites us to Himself. The Prophet then, in order to aid our weakness” see God has to speak to us in childish ways because we’re childish, that’s why it looks literal, but that’s not really what it means. “The prophet then in order to aid our weakness adds a vivid representation, as though God stood before their eyes” And He says, “shall His feet on the Mount of Olives. He does not here promise a miracle, such as even the ignorant might conceive to be literal;” you see the attitude here? If you interpret this literal, number one, you’re childish and number two, you’re ignorant. “…nor does he do this in what follows, when he says, The mount shall be rent in half…to the east and half to the west. This has never happened,” well John, the reason this has never happened is because it’s yet future, okay; you’re not going to find this in history; this is something yet to happen at the end of the tribulation period.
“…“…nor does he do this in what follows, when he says, The mount shall be rent in half…to the east and half to the west. This has never happened, that mount has never been rent: but as the Prophet could not, under those grievous trials, which might have overwhelmed the minds of the godly a hundred times, have extolled the power of God…without employing a highly” what? “ figurative language, he therefore” what? “accommodates himself,” when you see the word “accommodate” substitute which word? Lie, God is lying to you in other words, “ as I have said, to the capacity of our flesh.”
The reason we think it’s literal is because of the weakness of our flesh that forces us to interpret these things literally but we all know better, that these are basically allegorical.
Now why is he thinking this way? Who did he say he was dependent upon? Augustine. So I’d better stop talking at this point but what I want to show you is that these Reformers carried with them into the Reformed tradition, into their Reformed theology Augustinian amillennialism which was never corrected. God had to work outside their movement and I thank God for their movement because of what it gave us, but God had to raise up other people outside their movement to correct these problems.
So I’ll continue on this same line, talking about all kinds of other things they dragged into their new Protestant Reformed faith, even things like infant baptism. Even things like if the church is the kingdom of God on the earth then we have a right to take over politically a whole city in Geneva, which John Calvin did, and put the people to death who disagreed with him. Now where did he get that que from? I’ll show you the que comes directly from Augustine. Augustine said to do that. So these issues are a big deal. So I love the Reformers but on the other hand I’m not idolizing them either; I want us to see the whole picture, the good, the bad and the ugly. Any questions?