Response to Brandon E

This post is a step-by-step response to a comment made by Brandon E. on Kevin DeYoung’s blog titled Does God Love Everyone?  To see Brandon’s comment in context, go here.

But you believe that the believers will have bodies in the resurrection, even as the Lord has a visible, glorified body, right?

I believe we will have a body in the image of Christ’s according to Paul’s description in 1 Corinthians 15:35-49.  During the forty days between Christ’s resurrection and ascension, His body was not always visible.

And do you believe Acts 1:9-11 that indicates that the disciples beheld the Lord’s visible bodily ascension into heaven from the Mount of Olives, and that He will return in the same way?

I think you are misreading this passage.  Luke does not say that the disciples saw Jesus ascend in heaven.  Rather, he described them as seeing Jesus disappear into a cloud.  They had to believe Psalm 110:1 – that Jesus sat down at the right hand of God – by faith.  The angels then admonished them for staring at the sky, for they would no more be able to see Him “come” than they had seen Him “go.”

So why is it fleshly to say that the Lord’s second coming will be visible in the same way, even as the Scriptures taken in their plain meaning predict?

For two reasons:  1) because the timing requires it, and 2) because their descriptions require it.  Please see the biblical case for the Second Coming:  Whatever Became of Jesus Christ?  It has one section on the timing that the apostles taught and another section on what they taught about the nature of the Second Coming (or, what they usually called, “the coming of the Lord”).

There’s plenty of evidence within Scripture and in history that the regenerate believers in the first and early centuries believed that the Lord’s second coming in full would be public and invisible, i.e., that when it happens even the spiritually blind and unbelieving nations will realize it, that all the tribes of the land (not just the “spiritually-minded”) will “see Him coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30), that when “He comes with the clouds, every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the land will mourn over Him,” (Rev. 1:7), etc. You’re saying that only the “spiritually-minded” will be aware of His coming, but the Scripture emphasizes “every eye” and “all the tribes of the land.”

You’re reading this scriptures in an unnecessarily literalistic way.  Please see the link I provided above.

As for second-century opinions, I’m only concerned with what the apostolic generation believed – and, specifically, what Jesus and His apostles taught.  As for everyone supposedly being aware of its occurrence, remember that the Lord said His coming would be like “a thief in the night.”  Remember also that Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1ff takes pains to explain to the church there how they could know whether or not the day of the Lord had come.  If it was to be a physical cataclysm, such an explanation would be unnecessary.  The very reason that their faith had been upset was that they knew that the day of the Lord was to come like a thief in the night and they were afraid they had missed it.  In 2 Timothy 2:18, we see Paul naming some false teachers who were spreading the word that the resurrection had already taken place.  Again, if the disciples were expecting the kind of event you are describing above, no such false teaching would have impacted them.

Am I not accurate in saying that your doctrine sweepingly “spiritualizes” and allegorizes away much of the signs and events surrounding the Lord’s coming in His kingdom, and yet insists on a literal, physical interpretation of the word “generation,” which was used poetically and symbolically in the Old and New Testaments?

For you to say “sweepingly ‘spiritualizes’ and allegorizes away” sounds pejorative.  I think I’ve only taken spiritually what the Scripture intends us to take spiritually.  When John the Baptist says to his fellow citizens, “Behold the lamb of God!” I don’t think that means he thought Jesus was woolly and crawling on all fours.  Likewise, I think I’m interpreting scriptural statements about the day of the Lord in just the way Jesus and the apostles taught us to interpret them.  I think your position literalizes way too much and thereby deprives both believers and unbelievers of the glorious knowledge that the Lord has kept His promises!

As for the word “generation” in Matthew 24:34 (Greek “genea”), I don’t see how I’m imposing some unnatural meaning on it.  This word occurs 43 times in the NT and is translated 42 of those times as “generation” by the NASB (the 43rd time was translated as “kind,” not “race”).  Moreover, to translate the word as “race” in that context would be entirely inappropriate.  The disciples began that discourse by asking Jesus about the timing of His coming.  The whole point of the discourse was to arm them with knowledge that would sustain them through very difficult times (the most difficult the world had ever seen or would ever see, according to Jesus).  To say that the Jewish race would not be extinct before He came would be a useless statement as no one was expecting the Jewish race to expire.  Moreover, it would have been at odds with the statement He had just made to them about recognizing the signs of the season in which He would return.

Simply because something can be said to be more “spiritual” than physical doesn’t mean it is biblically spiritual or that it is the better interpretation of Scripture. Some have thought it more “spiritual” to believe that Jesus having a physical body was an illusion, or that the events in the gospels did not actually happen in space-time, or that the Lord’s resurrection was only spiritual and not also bodily, or that the material world is an illusion not worth redeeming because only “spiritual” things are real. Do you disagree with them? If not, what would you say to them? To say that they’re over-spiritualizing or over-allegorizing isn’t to denigrate genuine, biblical spiritual-mindedness but to point out where absolutizing the “spiritual” over the visible or material is not appropriate.

Of course, I don’t support spiritualizing texts that are meant to be taken literally, just as I don’t support literalizing texts which are meant to be taken spiritually.  It is very important that we understand all the prophecies about Messiah’s suffering were fulfilled in the flesh.  It is critical that Jesus was a descendant of David according to the flesh (Rom 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8; and elsewhere).  It is necessary to correct those who say that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh (1 John 4:2; 2 John 1:7).

Thus, neither excessive spiritualizing nor literalizing is appropriate.  However, I will say that the spiritual realm is absolutely more important than the physical realm.  Here’s why:  1) “God is spirit”  2) “All flesh is like grass” 3) “That which is seen is temporal; that which is unseen is eternal…and so on.

Moreover, it is undeniable that that throughout their ministry the apostles were pushing the disciples to a spiritual maturity.  Those that stayed focused on outward things were called immature and even worse if they were obstinate in doing so.  Throughout Acts and the Epistles, the church was considered to be spiritual Israel – that is, the rightful Israel.  The argument you make against spiritual interpretations would have criticized the apostles  regarding circumcision, inclusion of the Gentiles, and many other points.

The Jewish people also believed that the Messiah’s coming would be physical not invisible, and indeed it was–the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14). Should the Jews have expected an invisible Messiah and an invisible coming, simply because expecting invisible things is supposedly “spiritually-minded” and expecting visible things is fleshly? Of course not. As far as the interpretation of the Scriptures was concerned, their mistake was to insist that the Messiah would have only a single coming in which He would do everything that was prophesied. Christ will indeed establish peace in the world; He will purge and restore the entire creation (Rom. 8:21-23; Rev. 21-22), all things in the heavens and the earth will be headed up in Him (Eph. 1:10). The inward peace in Christ in this age and the visible restoration of creation, on account of all things in the heavens and on earth being headed up in Christ, complement one another. They’re not supposed to be pitted against one another such that we have to choose between the two or emphasize one over and against the other.

The Jews who rejected Israel’s Messiah (let us keep in mind that many of them accepted Him, which is why we know the gospel at all) did not do so because “their mistake was to insist that the Messiah would have only a single coming.”  Rather they didn’t accept Him because they didn’t repent at the preaching of John the Baptist.  Only repentant hearts recognized the Messiah.  And the same is true today.  Anyone who repents before God and amends his ways and deeds will come to see more scriptural truth.  I have learned what I have learned from the Scriptures not merely by studying them but by simultaneously humbling my heart before God and seeking to remove all sin and unbelief.  Mere academic understandings of the word of God are insufficient for true understanding – no matter how many advanced degrees or followers one may have.

Whether a “spiritual” interpretation of the words of Scripture is appropriate depends on the context. For instance, you think–along which much of evangelical Christianity–that John 14:2 refers to going to a place (the old KJV translated the abodes as “mansions”) in heaven, but I believe that in context of the chapter refers to the believers in Christ abiding in God and God in Christ abiding in the believers–a “spiritual” interpretation. Also, since the New Jerusalem is the bride, the wife of the Lamb (Rev. 21:2-9-11) and throughout the Bible God’s corporate people are presented as His spouse and dwelling place, the New Jerusalem must not be a literal, physical city but redeemed people dwelling in God and God in them–also a “spiritual” interpretation.

Yes, it is God’s desire that all His people (which is to say all people) walk with Him in the way visualized by the new Jerusalem.

So where have you actually shown that those who don’t agree with you therefore have in fact been trained to think in a “fleshly” way as opposed to a “spiritual” one or to denigrate spiritual-mindedness? You’re simply assigning moral and spiritual flaws to others based on the assumption that your doctrines are correct.

The assignment of moral and spiritual flaws is the province of God.  I’m merely trying to convey to you and others truths that were conveyed to me.  If the post-apostolic church disagrees with the apostolic church, who do you think we should follow?

Besides, your judgments about the church in toto being apostate and obsolete and replaced by the kingdom are according to what you see with your eyes. It doesn’t take any faith to see the historical fact that Christendom is divided, but you have yet to identify which passages in Scripture predict that all the church will become apostate and obsolete and replaced by the kingdom. You only provided more of your own reasonings based on your assessment of the outward situation, but you’ve made logical leaps there as well. Why would ecumenicism not working on account of some groups insisting upon impure doctrine as criterion for fellowship show that the entire church is apostate and obsolete? Wouldn’t that really only show that those who insist upon impure or non-essential doctrine as a criterion for fellowship are wrong?

It’s obvious from the New Testament that the entire church would not be apostate – otherwise the parable would have been about tares only without any reference to wheat for the barn.  The number of Christian denominations has only grown since apostolic days.  My understanding is that there are now something like 30,000 of them – and I don’t think that even counts non-denominational churches, and each one of those is separate.  What do you think that means with respect to Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17 for unity?  What do you think it means in light of Jesus’ teaching that a house divided against itself cannot stand?  What do you think it means in light of Ephesians 4 which calls for the attainment of a unity of faith by those people?  How much more evidence do you need that, in terms of development according to the direction of God, the organized church is going in the wrong direction?

I also pointed out that the church–organizationally and practically–was still one church, with one church recognized in each city, well past the first century. But when do you claim that the church became apostate and obsolete and replaced by the kingdom? Around 70 AD? Does that make any sense? And, more to the point, where is this predicted in the Bible?

I answer this at length in the link I provided above.  To summarize, it was some time after 70 A.D. but before the end of the first century.  This is predicted throughout the New Testament (though obviously they didn’t use our calendars).  Most notably, you see this predicted in Matthew 24 when you see the destruction of Jerusalem being prophesied but the Lord saying that this event itself was not the end – but that a great tribulation would ensue, brought to an end by the coming of the Lord in an act of mercy for those who had trusted Him throughout it.

If you really want to understand the prophetic language used by the apostles you don’t need to check the works of theologians from post-apostolic generations.  Rather, you need to check the writings of the prophets of Israel who lived and wrote long before the apostles.  Jesus taught the apostles that the Scriptures of the prophets were about Him and His work.  See Luke 24:25-27, 31-32, 44-48; John 5:39-40.  See also Romans 16:25-27.

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178 Responses to Response to Brandon E

  1. Brandon E says:

    Hi Mike,
    Here’s my response to a number of your points. I’ll create separate posts for accessibility.

    1. Concerning Acts 1:9-12:
    The Scripture says that the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives in a cloud (Acts 1:9-12) and that He would return in a cloud (Matt. 24:30). In Acts 1:9-11 it’s clear that they beheld Him ascending visibly, and the angels say that He would come “in the same way as you beheld him going into heaven.”

    I don’t see where you’re getting the idea that the angels admonished them for staring into the sky on the grounds that “they would no more be able to see Him ‘come’ than they had seen Him ‘go.’” They say quite the opposite. What they actually say is, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you beheld Him going into heaven” (v. 11). The angels said that the disciples beheld Him going into heaven, not that they did not behold Him, and that He will come in the same way as they beheld Him going into heaven. The emphasis is that they did behold Him going into heaven, not that they did not behold Him. The reason given for why they shouldn’t continue staring into heaven is that He would come in the same way as they beheld Him going into heaven, which, notably, took place on the Mount of Olives (v. 12), the site at which Zechariah predicts the Lord’s return would take place (Zech. 14:4). Nothing is said of the disciples not seeing Him go or come. That the disciples didn’t see with the naked eye His entire journey and ultimate arrival in heaven is irrelevant if we’re talking about whether the Lord’s going and coming should be visible from the earth.

    I think that your claim about what this passage means is thus far one of the biggest evidences you’ve provided that you’re willing to turn the meaning of a passage on its head in order to preserve your system of theology intact.

    Further, you claim that only the “spiritually-minded” (such as yourself, apparently) will recognize His coming, but, as I pointed out previously, the Scripture says that “every eye,” and “all the tribes of the land” will see Him in His coming (Matt. 24:30; Rev. 1:7), not a spiritual minority. Why are these readings “unnecessarily literalistic” while you consider your highly-allegorical interpretations combined with a literal interpretation of “generation” necessary to the degree that you claim to believe only what the apostles taught and everybody who believes otherwise is only following tradition?

    I could just as easily say that your reading of “generation” is unnecessarily literalistic. If we grant that the word “generation” can have a poetic, thematic, or non-literal denotation in scriptural usage (cf. Prov. 30:11-14; Matt. 11:16; 12:39, 41-42, 45, 17:17; Acts 2:40; Phil. 2:15), would you admit that a visible second coming is not inconsistent with what the Lord Jesus and the apostles taught?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      You are proposing a physical coming that is physically impossible. Unless you can see the Mount of Olives from where you’re sitting right now, how could you see it if the Lord dropped out of a cloud onto it?

      • Brandon E says:

        Because “at that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30), and “Behold, He comes with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the land will mourn over Him” (Rev. 1:7), and all the nations will be gathered to Him and judged (Matt. 25:31-40), etc.

        We don’t have to know the precise details to see that your claim that Acts 1:9-11 means “The angels then admonished them for staring at the sky, for they would no more be able to see Him ‘come’ than they had seen Him ‘go'” is an absurd reading.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          They only saw Him go into a cloud; they did not see Him go into heaven. They couldn’t see the heaven into which Jesus had ascended – that was the point.

          • Brandon E says:

            But the angels said, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you beheld Him going into heaven.” Would it be reasonable for the disciples who visibly beheld something as uncommon as the crucified and resurrected Lord Himself ascending bodily and visibly into the heavens to conclude that He only made it as far as the cloud and not into heaven?

            And as I already said, that the disciples wouldn’t have seen Him arrive in heaven is irrelevant to the discussion of whether the Lord’s second coming will be visible from the standpoint of earth. The Scripture says that the Lord ascended into a cloud and would return upon a cloud. I don’t know of anyone who believes that the Lord’s second coming will be public and visible and yet thinks that we’ll behold His entire journey from the third heavens to the earth. You’re setting up and trying to knock down straw men.

            • Mike Gantt says:

              It’s not a straw man to say that you are calling for the Lord to appear bodily on the Mount of Olives and for everyone on earth to simultaneously see Him do it.

              • Brandon E says:

                To clarify, I’m not saying precisely that, at least not as how you’re portraying what I’m saying. I’m only saying that the Lord’s bodily coming will be visible and everyone will recognize that it has taken place, not that everyone will exhaustively seen every visible thing there is to see about His bodily coming.

                To use an analogy, from the western hemisphere I’m aware of many visible things happening in the eastern hemisphere through the media. The fact that I do not exhaustively see all visible aspects of the events doesn’t mean that they are “invisible,” and not public, and must be taken figuratively in order to be consistent.

                The Scripture describes the Lord’s coming in terms of being like lightning flashing from east to west, as all the tribes seeing His sign in heaven, as all the nations being gathered to Him, as every eye and all the tribes of the land beholding Him, as Him coming in the same way He was beheld ascending (visibly and bodily) in heaven, etc. Hence it could hardly be that His coming would be recognized only by a spiritual minority so small and elite that the apostolic church–which continued to be one church until well after the first century and included the churches in the cities established by the apostles–drowned out their testimony.

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  Re-read the description of His coming that you give in your last paragraph here and recognize that it cannot add up to a physical appearance. Rather, a description like that can only add up to a spiritual appearing.

                  • Brandon E says:

                    Try reading my paragraph again. I don’t have the assurance that you’re comprehending what I’m saying.

                    I’m saying that the Lord will indeed appear bodily (Acts 1:9-11) in a cloud with great power and glory, and that every eye and all the tribes of the land will see Him and recognize the fact once it has taken place, they having already seen His sign in heaven. You’re saying that what I’m saying inconsistent. Could you actually point out the inconsistency? Saying that the description “could only add up to a spiritual appearing” doesn’t accomplish anything; it’s hand-waving.

                    • Mike Gantt says:

                      You keep insisting on interpreting all the descriptions of His coming as physical, but you don’t seem to recognize that the physical descriptions clash. There wasn’t lightning flashing in the Acts 1 passage, there’s no place for a thief in the night in the Acts 1 scene, there’s no place for lightning in a thief in the night scene. At least the Dispensationalists recognized the mis-match of physical descriptions and therefore developed their scheme for a serious of different events. They were wrong, of course, but at least they didn’t try to harmonize clashing physical scenarios.

  2. Brandon E says:

    2. As for second-century opinions, I’m only concerned with what the apostolic generation believed – and, specifically, what Jesus and His apostles taught.

    I agree that we should believe what Christ and the apostles taught. But the Scripture doesn’t explicitly teach that the Lord Jesus came in the first century, or that the destruction of Jerusalem signified that the Lord had coming in His kingdom. This is your interpretation, and inference from historical events, made many centuries later. And have you demonstrated yourself to be a more reliable and capable or interpreter of the Scriptures than all those who do not agree with you, whom you conclude are not therefore not spiritually-minded?

    Concerning second-century opinions:
    If there were “spiritually-minded” believers living in the first century to recognize that the Lord’s second coming supposedly happened, who were they, and wouldn’t they tell others about it? Instead, what we find is that the church from the time of the apostles and the writing of their epistles was eagerly awaiting the kingdom until well after the first century and was not proclaiming that Jesus had returned already. This includes early martyrs (are you more spiritually-minded than they?) and persons who were contemporaries of the apostles or in the best position to know what they taught about the matter historically (e.g., Polycarp, a contemporary of John and notable millennialist). Is this not considerable evidence concerning what Christ and the apostles did or did not teach concerning this monumental matter that was of such great import to the believers?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Those who acknowledged the Lord’s coming when it occurred would have embraced the kingdom of God and would have been unwelcome by those who sought to hold on to the institution that church was becoming, just as those who clung to physical Israel did not embrace those who followed Jesus to become spiritual Israel.

      • Brandon E says:

        So I take it that you do consider yourself more reliable, spiritual and spiritually-minded than each believer who believed that the Lord Jesus was still coming after 70 AD, including Polycarp who was a contemporary of the apostle John and a notable millenialist, and any martyr who held such beliefs?

        Do you have any evidence that there were in fact genuine believers (not Gnostics and other Lord-deniers) who said that the Lord and the kingdom had come in 70 AD, and that they were not welcomed in the church?

        • Mike Gantt says:

          I am as prone to temptation as any other human being. I am simply reporting what I have come to see in the Scriptures by His grace. I cannot report otherwise; else I’d be lying.

          I have not had the opportunity to research the late first-century historical data. As you know from the Lord’s prophecy in Matthew 24 it was the time of the world’s greatest tribulation. We don’t even have strong records of how each of the apostles died. The New Testament documents that we do have were preserved by the churches who used them for public readings. There would be no reason for them to retain documents written by those who announced that the Lord had come with the kingdom displacing the church. Besides, I expect that was a relatively small number who were on the right side of 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10 given verses such as Matthew 7:14-15 and 1 Peter 3:20.

          • Brandon E says:

            I am simply reporting what I have come to see in the Scriptures by His grace. I cannot report otherwise; else I’d be lying.

            Sure, but notice that this presumes that you are right in a way so absolute that no one by the Lord’s grace has seen things in Scripture that would contradict your system of theology/interpretative framework. In other words, with your rhetoric of claiming that you have repented, seek the kingdom, are spiritually mature enough, and those who disagree with simply lack these traits, you’re functioning as if you’re your own “pope,” the final authority on who has the Spirit to interpret the Scriptures correctly.

            That is larger why we have so many denominations (30,000 by some accounts) after the Reformation. Everyone thinks their own private interpretation of Scripture is correct and they emphasize it in a way that divides and annuls the church, forming sects over non-essential points of doctrine, or in your case teaching doctrines that say the church has been replaced by the kingdom and thus creating sects of one.

            As you know from the Lord’s prophecy in Matthew 24 it was the time of the world’s greatest tribulation.

            Of course, He said, that it would be a great tribulation “such as has not occurred from the beginning of the world until now, nor shall by any means ever occur” (v. 21). Arguably, many tribulations have been worse and more global than 70 AD and the siege of Jerusalem, and there is a greater one coming.

            There would be no reason for them to retain documents written by those who announced that the Lord had come with the kingdom displacing the church.

            Of course, this is theoretical conjecture. We apparently don’t have evidence that any genuinely spiritual person who believed in the real Jesus Christ thought that he came in 70 AD and that the church was thus annulled. We do have preserved documents by persons who met in the churches established by the apostles who believed that the Lord with His kingdom was still coming after 70AD. If you don’t think you are more spiritually mature than they, why discount their testimony as not spiritual?

            • Mike Gantt says:

              Why do you portray me as believing that the Lord came in 70 A.D.? I’ve been clear with you that, according to the Lord’s word, it had to have come after that.

              I don’t claim to have a private interpretation of Scripture. On the contrary, I would not know these things if the Holy Spirit had not made them known.

              If I’m gracious enough to tell you where and how and found my bread, don’t accuse me of saying that I am in any way better than those who have not yet found bread.

              The Protestant Reformation Fell Short

              • Brandon E says:


                Why do you portray me as believing that the Lord came in 70 A.D.? I’ve been clear with you that, according to the Lord’s word, it had to have come after that.

                Okay, then very soon soon after the events in 70 AD took place–it could hardly be much later if you insist that “this generation” means a literal, physical generation–such that you believe that the kingdom had somehow replaced the church by the end of the first century. I apologize; my wording was loose because I didn’t think it made much difference.

                I don’t claim to have a private interpretation of Scripture. On the contrary, I would not know these things if the Holy Spirit had not made them known.

                That’s what I’m saying. You believe that the Holy Spirit has revealed to you that your interpretations are correct, implying that the Spirit has not revealed anything in Scripture to others that would in any way contradict any of these things you think the Spirit endorses. In the end, you’re your own “pope,” the final authority among men as to who has the Spirit to interpret the Scriptures correctly concerning the kingdom, the church, the Lord’s coming, the nature of God, the common hope of believers, etc.. You say that it’s not you but the Holy Spirit who is responsible for your idiosyncratic doctrines, but such a claim is only verified by you privately, on the assumption that you are spiritual and not fleshly in ways that those Christians who disagree with you are not.

                If in fact you were deluded, it seems that given the strength with which you currently cling to the delusion, the only way you would ever realize it is through a judgment of the Lord that not even a fleshly person could deny.

                —-
                If I’m gracious enough to tell you where and how and found my bread, don’t accuse me of saying that I am in any way better than those who have not yet found bread.
                —-
                Come on, think this through. You said that the reasons why others don’t agree with you is because they haven’t repented, don’t seek the kingdom, aren’t spiritually-minded, don’t depend upon the Scriptures, implying that you do have these characteristics in ways they do not. You may think that it’s all thanks to Lord’s mercy and grace, but so did the Pharisee who prayed “I thank You that I am not like the rest of men…even this tax collector” (Luke 18:11).

                And what are your grounds for saying that others lack these traits that you must have to arrive at your views? That the Holy Spirit has authenticated for you that your interpretation of Scripture is correct. But are you more spiritual and more capable than anyone else to say that you have the Spirit’s leading where others do not?

                Why are those who don’t agree with you not as spiritual as you? Because they don’t agree with your views, which are authenticated by the Holy Spirit. And how do we know that your views are authenticated by the Holy Spirit and others’ are not, that you can tell the difference between the Spirit and your own soulish, subjective bias? Because, apparently, you’re spiritual in a way that others are not.

                Do you see? It’s self-authenticating. It’s circular reasoning. All reasoning is indeed ultimately circular. But your reasoning is circular in a way that excludes the viewpoints of other believers who have the same Lord, the same Scriptures, and the same Spirit as regards the contents of the Christian faith, and deems them as less spiritual, as not seeking the kingdom, as not depending upon the Scriptures when they don’t agree with you. Inevitably you create comparisons with yourself and other believers with yourself coming out on top, possessing the right to say on presumed authority of the Scriptures and the apostles that the Lord and the kingdom has already come and the church has been replaced by this, etc., and that those who disagree with this are not spiritual, not seeking the kingdom, not dependent upon Scriptures, etc.

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  All I’m doing is reporting what I have read and come to understand in the Bible. If you think I’m wrong, then so be it. I am not here to defend myself. I am here to proclaim the faithfulness of the Lord our God.

  3. Brandon E says:

    3. The assignment of moral and spiritual flaws is the province of God. I’m merely trying to convey to you and others truths that were conveyed to me

    On the TGC thread you made numerous public assertions about others’ moral and spiritual state in comparison to yourself, as if you had the discernment and right to make these judgment calls on a public forum. You maintained that you utterly depend upon Scriptures and not tradition, and that those who disagreed with you do not. You said that the reason why a specific man couldn’t see the kingdom as you do is because he’s not seeking the kingdom. You made it sound as if the Holy Spirit revealed and authenticated for you the truth of your beliefs, implying that the Spirit has not done the same to any of those who do not disagree with you. Lastly, you claimed that the reason that I don’t share your views is that my thinking is fleshly, and suggested that if I started being spiritually-minded I would agree with you.

    And my point in response was that just because something can be said to be more “spiritual” than “physical” doesn’t make it more biblically spiritual or a better interpretation of Scripture. For example, “spiritual-mindedness” is appropriate if we’re talking about whether circumcision is a necessary means of grace for salvation, but it’s not appropriate if we’re talking about whether the Lord’s resurrection and ours is bodily and not only spiritual. Many “spiritual” concepts are quite Gnostic.

    There is plenty of Scriptural evidence that the Lord’s coming would be bodily and visible even as His bodily ascension was visible, and that it would be made known to the world at large not just a “spiritually-minded” minority. Thus, is unfair to say that the reason that others don’t agree with you is that it is “fleshly” thinking and not spiritual to believe that the Lord’s coming in His kingdom would visible with a visible reign on earth. Plenty of notable believers throughout the centuries have held to a variety of differing eschatologies–are you more “spiritually-oriented” and spiritually mature than each of them?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      You can’t have it both ways. That is, you can’t say that you believe my interpretation is more spiritual than yours and then fault me for saying my interpretation is more spiritual than yours. Say my interpretation is wrong if you wish, but don’t describe it as being more spiritual and then castigate me for saying the same thing.

      As for repentance, I’m just making known to you the path by which I came to take a more spiritual point of view. If you don’t want to take that path, then don’t. But recognize that is your choice and not my fault.

      • Brandon E says:

        You’re missing my point. I frequently put the word “spiritual” in quotes, because my point is that just because an interpretation can be said to be more “spiritual” (as opposed to literal, visible, or physical) doesn’t mean that believers who are genuinely spiritually mature should automatically prefer it.

        Genuinely spiritually mature believers, for instance, would not prefer “spiritual” or allegorical interpretations of Scripture that say that Christ rose only spiritually and not bodily.

        In short, we shouldn’t conflate opting for “spiritual” or allegorical interpretation with actually being spiritual or spiritually mature. I was remarking on your insinuations that those who disagree with you are not as spiritual or spiritually mature as you.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          I take the Bible literally when it seems to speak literally; I take it spiritually when it seems to speak spiritually. If you want to insist that promised coming of the kingdom of God was to be physical then you are forced to sidestep passages throughout the New Testament which call for the coming of the Lord in that age (as you seek to do with the Mount of Transfiguration). Moreover, the various physical interpretations are incompatible (such as expecting people in the Western Hemisphere to be able to see something taking place at a pinpoint location in the Eastern Hemisphere).

          I am not all that spiritual for accepting a spiritual coming of a spiritual kingdom. If I were a more spiritual person I would have understood this much sooner than I did.

          • Brandon E says:

            If you want to insist that promised coming of the kingdom of God was to be physical then you are forced to sidestep passages throughout the New Testament which call for the coming of the Lord in that age (as you seek to do with the Mount of Transfiguration).
            Again, you’re still not demonstrating that “generation” cannot have a poetic or thematic meaning. And the Scripture refers to the coming and manifestation of His kingdom in different ways, even as present (at least in foretaste) before 70 AD. Accordingly, I see the transfiguration on the mount described in Matthew, Mark, and Luke not as His second coming itself but indeed a fulfillment of some of the disciples seeing the manifestation of His kingdom and glory before they tasted death.

            Moreover, the various physical interpretations are incompatible (such as expecting people in the Western Hemisphere to be able to see something taking place at a pinpoint location in the Eastern Hemisphere).

            Just because we don’t know all the details of how it would take place doesn’t mean they are incompatible and that the Lord’s coming will therefore be entirely invisible. The Scripture describes His coming as being like lightning flashing from east to west, of all the tribes seeing His sign in heaven, of all the nations being gathered to Him, of every eye and all the tribes of the land beholding Him, etc.

            • Mike Gantt says:

              I have indeed shown you that if you substitute the word “race” meaning the Jewish race for the word “generation” it makes the whole discourse nonsense. You would defend the boy who cried “Wolf!” on the basis that if a wolf eventually appears, he’ll vindicated. The boy generated a sense of urgency about wolves, and Jesus generated a sense of urgency about His coming.

              As for the varied metaphors you list, they are incompatible as when taken literally. Only when understood figuratively are they compatible. Would you physically try to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus as in John 6?

              • Brandon E says:

                It’s not a matter of opting for “generation” or “race,” because I’ve pointed out that in scriptural usage “generation” can have a poetic or thematic meaning according to the moral condition of a group of people (cf. Prov. 30:11-14; Matt. 11:16; 12:39, 41-42, 45, 17:17; Acts 2:40; Phil. 2:15).

                You would defend the boy who cried “Wolf!” on the basis that if a wolf eventually appears, he’ll vindicated. The boy generated a sense of urgency about wolves, and Jesus generated a sense of urgency about His coming.

                We should have a sense of urgency regarding the Lord’s coming regardless if He came tomorrow or in thirty years or even if we physically died before He came. Peter vindicated the Lord’s apparent “delay” in 2 Peter 3:8-10 by saying that a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, that He does not count “delay” as some count delay, but rather that His appearance of delay is His long-suffering that none would perish but all would come to repentance before the day of the Lord comes like a thief and the heavens pass away with a roar, the elements are burned up with intense heat and dissolved, all the works in the earth with be dissolved, etc.

                As for the varied metaphors you list, they are incompatible as when taken literally. Only when understood figuratively are they compatible.

                Are they, or are there simply multiple aspects of the Lord’s coming, and different metaphors are used to describe the different aspects? Should a “figurative” interpretation of every eye and all the tribes of the land seeing Him and mourn lead us to think that only a small minority will see Him?

                Would you physically try to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus as in John 6?

                No, because there He clarified that it is the Spirit that gives life, and that His words to us are spirit and are life (v. 57).

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  It is not reasonable to expect a sense of urgency to be maintained for hundreds and thousands of years.

                  • Brandon E says:

                    The need of urgency concerning His coming comes from our need to do His will and be ready for His appearing whenever it happens, not from our knowing when it will take place. Even if we died before He came, or even if the signs that must take place first had yet to happen, or even if should not place for thousands of years, we should still live with a sense of urgency concerning His appearing for we will all eventually face Him in His appearing–“it is reserved for men to die once, and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:26) and “we must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done through the body according to what he has practiced, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).

                    In the same principles, the apostle Peter applied the word that “a day is like a thousand years to the Lord and a thousand years like a day” (cf. Psalm 90:4:
                    “For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by And like a watch in the night”) to the day of the Lord to say that our natural reckoning of time is not like God’s sense of time. With the eternal God there is no time element; His sense of time is compressed one-thousand fold. What feels like two thousand years to us is but “two days” to Him. A “delay” to us is not a delay to Him, and if He delays it is only because He is long-suffering towards us, not intending that any perish but that all would advance unto repentance. In any event, since we know what is coming, we should live unto Him in a holy manner of life and godliness, expecting and even hastening the coming day of God.

                    —-
                    But do not let this one thing escape you, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.
                    The Lord does not delay regarding the promise, as some count delay, but is long-suffering toward you, not intending that any perish but that all advance to repentance.
                    But the day of the Lord will come as a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the elements, burning with intense heat, will be dissolved, and the earth and the works in it will be burned up.
                    Since all these things are to be thus dissolved, what kind of persons ought you to be in holy manner of life and godliness,
                    Expecting and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens, being on fire, will be dissolved, and the elements, burning with intense heat, are to be melted away?
                    But according to His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
                    Therefore, beloved, since you expect these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace without spot and without blemish;
                    And count the long-suffering of our Lord to be salvation…
                    —-
                    -2 Peter 3:8-15a

                    • Mike Gantt says:

                      Yes, 2 Peter 3 is played as the “wild card” that trumps every other New Testament passage which calls for the coming of the Lord to be imminent. Peter’s point was not to negate the imminent expectation but to remind believers that the Lord’s timing is not according to our clocks but rather according to His wisdom. His wisdom set the season, but the day and hour cannot be pinpointed.

  4. Brandon E says:

    4. Thus, neither excessive spiritualizing nor literalizing is appropriate. However, I will say that the spiritual realm is absolutely more important than the physical realm. Here’s why: 1) “God is spirit” 2) “All flesh is like grass” 3) “That which is seen is temporal; that which is unseen is eternal…and so on.

    God is Spirit, but God in Christ also has a body through incarnation, and a transfigured and glorified body through resurrection. All flesh is like grass, but still our physical bodies will be transfigured like unto His. In the context of 2 Corinthians 4, the temporal things that are seen refer to our temporary afflictions (which require no faith to believe in) and the eternal things that are not seen are the things refer to an eternal weight of glory (which requires faith to believe in). The verbs “seen” and “not seen” in v. 18 are in the present tense, referring to what we currently see or do not see. There’s nothing in the passage that absolutizes the invisible over the visible such that it we should conclude that it is more fleshly to believe that the Lord will return visibly or, say, that the Lord’s and our transfigured, visible bodies will not be eternal and will eventually fade away.


    The argument you make against spiritual interpretations would have criticized the apostles regarding circumcision, inclusion of the Gentiles, and many other points.

    My claim is not that physical interpretations are necessarily better than “spiritual” ones, but that “spiritual” interpretations are not necessarily better and can in fact be worse, even Gnostic and heretical. My point is that preferring a “spiritual” interpretation to a “material” one simply because it can be said to be more “spiritual” does not make us therefore more spiritually-minded or spiritually mature. In fact, this can lead to a false kind of spirituality that is then used to deem others less spiritual.

    You are the one who is suggesting that we should prefer a certain interpretation because it is more “spiritual” than “fleshly,” and that those who disagree with you are not “spiritually-minded” or “spiritually-oriented.” But such an argument can be used to claim too much, and I listed some examples in the previous response.

    Today we live in an age when we can’t physically see the Lord which trains us to live by faith in His invisible presence. But this does not demonstrate that it is fleshly or spiritually immature to believe by faith that eventually all the world will see Him visibly in His coming, or that He still has a resurrected body that can be seen, or that we have the hope that our physical bodies will be transfigured into His body of glory, or that the whole creation will eventually be restored.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20), and “here we do not have a lasting city” (Hebrews 13:14). You are setting your affections on things on earth instead of setting them on our ultimate home above (see Colossians 3:2). We shall meet the Lord in the air and always be with him there (1 Thessonians 4:17).

      You have chosen to remain earthly-minded, Brandon, but there is no future in it.

      • Brandon E says:

        As far as my faith is concerned, my hope is set on the person of Christ Himself, not heaven or earth. That I believe that the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city in its final form, ultimately comes “down out of heaven” from God (Rev. 21:2, 9-11) doesn’t mean that my affections are set on the earth.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          New Jerusalem is here. The Lord our God is in our midst, just as His angel was in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.

          • Brandon E says:

            When do you think that the New Jerusalem arrived here? In Gal. 4:26 the apostle Paul called it “the Jerusalem above,” but Rev. 21:2, 9-11 reveals that it will come “down out of heaven” from God.

            If the New Jerusalem, the heavenly holy city in which are enrolled, is here, then you cannot accuse others of having their affections set on earth if they mean to set their hope not on heaven or earth itself but on Christ Himself.

              • Brandon E says:

                I don’t see how your links are substantively responsive to my point. The New Jerusalem is the heavenly, holy city, the city which has the foundations, the “Jerusalem above” when Paul wrote, and yet which “comes down out of heaven from God” in Revelation. If the heavenly city is already here today, as you claim, then setting our minds heavenly things does not show that we should desire to “go to heaven” as opposed to a terrestrial earth. If the heavenly city is on earth, what ground you have to claim that I am “earthly-minded” instead of visible? Have you demonstrated that it is somehow not spiritual to believe that the Lord Jesus–who has a visible body in resurrection–will “come in the same way” as the disciples “beheld Him going into heaven” (Acts 1:11)?

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  According to the opening and closing of the book of Revelation, everything in it was on the eve of occurring. Since it was written in the first century, how could those things not already have occurred?

          • Brandon E says:

            Basically, I believe that you are absolutizing one aspect of creation and demeaning the other half, pitting one half of creation against itself in a way that Scripture does not.

            God’s economy isn’t that we should seek heavenly things so that we can escape material, bodily, visible existence, but that so that the heavenly things would ultimately be brought to earth, in a sense joining heaven and earth, so that all things in heaven in earth would head up in Christ, the entire creation restored and filled with God’s glory. Hence, it is not “earthly-minded” to say that that Christ has a visible body, that Christ’s coming will be visible, that visible peace will eventually established on earth, that our (presently corrupted) bodies will eventually be redeemed and transfigured unto His body of glory, that the meek will indeed inherit the earth, etc. It is simply a hope that God’s glory in Christ would fill all of redeemed creation rather than half of it, according to Christ’s person and work.

            • Mike Gantt says:

              I don’t think you appreciate why the visible creation exists. See Essays on the Implications of Everyone Going to Heaven for an extensive explanation.

              • Brandon E says:

                You don’t seem to be showing how believing that His coming, the resurrection of the dead, etc. will be open, public, apparent, visible, would make anyone less spiritual. We can’t prove that such things will take place; we receive them by faith. Spirituality in the present day is located in how we live unto Him in the present day. That we would believe that His coming and the resurrection of the dead would be visible based upon plain Scriptural truths, such as the Lord Jesus having a resurrected body of glory that is visible, His ascending bodily in a visible way and returning in the same way that the disciples beheld Him ascending to heaven (Acts 1:9-11), all the nations and every seeing Him as He gathers the nations before His throne, our physical bodies being conformed to His body of glory, etc.

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  We walk by faith, and not by sight. That being the case, how could the kingdom of God be a visible administration?

                  • Brandon E says:

                    We walk by faith, not by sight, in this present age (Heb. 11:1).

                    We also hope in this present age:
                    “And not only so, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan in ourselves, eagerly awaiting sonship, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in hope. / But hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what he sees? / But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly await it through endurance.” (Rom. 8:23-25).

                    But of faith, hope, and love, love is the greatest (1 Cor. 13:13). Faith will one day changed into sight, hope will one day be changed into fulfillment, but love never falls away.

  5. Brandon E says:

    5. The Jews who rejected Israel’s Messiah (let us keep in mind that many of them accepted Him, which is why we know the gospel at all) did not do so because “their mistake was to insist that the Messiah would have only a single coming.” Rather they didn’t accept Him because they didn’t repent at the preaching of John the Baptist. Only repentant hearts recognized the Messiah.

    Of course I believe that the Jewish persons who rejected the Lord Jesus did so because of an unrepentant heart. That’s why I limited my description of “their mistake” to their interpretation of Scriptures concerning the Lord’s coming. Concerning His coming, they weren’t wrong or fleshly to think that the Messiah would come in the flesh. My point was that simply because an interpretation of the Lord’s coming could be described as “more spiritual” as opposed to material doesn’t mean it is right. It’s not innately more fleshly to believe that the Lord will eventually establish peace on earth any more than it is to believe that His first coming would be in the flesh. Both are items of faith that we believe have or will come to pass and live our lives accordingly, not outward matters of the flesh.


    For you to say “sweepingly ‘spiritualizes’ and allegorizes away” sounds pejorative. I think I’ve only taken spiritually what the Scripture intends us to take spiritually. When John the Baptist says to his fellow citizens, “Behold the lamb of God!” I don’t think that means he thought Jesus was woolly and crawling on all fours. Likewise, I think I’m interpreting scriptural statements about the day of the Lord in just the way Jesus and the apostles taught us to interpret them.

    The Lord Jesus obviously is not a literal, physical Lamb with four legs, wool, and a little tail. Nevertheless, when John the Baptist says “Behold!” to his fellows it is because he saw Jesus visibly and physically approaching him (John 1:29). I’m not saying that we should believe that the “arm of the Lord” means a literal, physical arm, or “the Lion of Judah” means a literally, physical lion. What I’m objecting to is when, for instance, you mangle passages like Acts 1:9-12 that quite naturally refers to a visible coming and going, or when you insist that only the “spiritually-minded” will recognize the Lord’s coming while the Scripture speaks of every eye and tribe beholding Him, all while insisting that “generation” could not have a poetic or thematic meaning.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Of what point was the thief in the night metaphor used by the Lord – does everyone see the thief come in the night? Isn’t the point of the metaphor that people only know there was a thief in the night when they wake up the next morning and notice something was missing?

      Don’t you see a display of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12-14 which is missing in today’s church services? Even those who seek to replicate it come up with something far below what those saints typically saw.

      • Brandon E says:

        For the “thief in the night” metaphor, see my comment below. The Scripture uses multiple metaphors to describe the Lord’s coming; no one metaphor describes the totality of His coming. The “thief in the night” metaphor does not annul the statements which speak of every eye and all the tribes of the land seeing Him. Rather, the metaphor emphasizes the idea of His coming being something sudden and unexpected that will take us off guard if we are not prepared. That some aspects of His actions in His coming may be hidden (like, whatever is being “stolen”) does not mean that the entirety of His coming is hidden without any open manifestation.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          You are right that no single metaphor fully explains the Lord’s coming. They all have to fit together. A spiritual coming with earthly consequences is the only outcome that fits all the metaphors.

          • Brandon E says:

            About all the metaphors fitting together, see my other comments on this point (under 6).

            In your conception of the “thief in the night” metaphor, what exactly is being “stolen” and from whom? Are the unprepared ones aware or not aware that they have been “stolen” from? And how would their noticing being stolen from be any different in 70AD than it would be in any era prior or after?

            Now, compare your answers to the fact that some the descriptions concerning the Lord’s coming say that “every eye” and “all the tribes of the land” will see Him. Does this not indicate when the Lord comes some matters related to the Lord’s coming will be more “hidden” but others will be open and public (not recognized only by a precious few “spiritually-minded” persons)?

            • Mike Gantt says:

              See 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10 for a straightforward declaration of the Lord’s coming being appreciated by some but not all.

              As for what would be missing, it would be His Spirit. Do you not know what went wrong at Shiloh?

              • Brandon E says:


                See 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10 for a straightforward declaration of the Lord’s coming being appreciated by some but not all.

                The passage says that some will “pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” Nevertheless, “every eye” and “every tribe of the land” will see Him as He sets up His great throne, gathers all the nations before Him, and then divides the sheep from the goats and appoint some to eternal destruction and others eternal life (Matt. 25). “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;” (v. 41); “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (v. 46). By comparing 2 Thes. 1:9-11 to Matthew 25, it is clear that the nations will see the Lord before they are cast away from His presence, that is, being away from the glory of His presence is a result of His coming, not a description of the entirety of His coming. There is no indication that they will not “appreciate” (that is, recognize) His coming without reading it into the passage.

                2 Thes. 1:9-11 also He will come to be glorified in His saints and marveled at in the saints among all who believed, not just some (the spiritual minority) of those who believed.
                —-
                As for what would be missing, it would be His Spirit. Do you not know what went wrong at Shiloh?
                —-
                If you believe that it is His Spirit that would invisibly “stolen”:
                1) Why think that the Spirit was “stolen” in the first century? Who was it stolen from? Just the Jews, or from all the unprepared believers as well?
                2) If this is not the only aspect of what will happen the Lord’s coming and not the only metaphor used to explain the different aspects of what the Lord’s coming will be like, why use one metaphor describing one aspect of His coming to explain away the passages that speak of “every eye” and “all the tribes of the land” beholding Him who will come in the same way as the disciples saw Him ascend (visibly) into the heavens? Why try to make all the criterion for what will count as His coming fit into one metaphor that emphasizes an aspect that is hidden but not other descriptions that emphasizes every eye seeing Him?

  6. Brandon E says:

    6. As for everyone supposedly being aware of its occurrence, remember that the Lord said His coming would be like “a thief in the night.” Remember also that Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1ff takes pains to explain to the church there how they could know whether or not the day of the Lord had come. If it was to be a physical cataclysm, such an explanation would be unnecessary. The very reason that their faith had been upset was that they knew that the day of the Lord was to come like a thief in the night and they were afraid they had missed it. In 2 Timothy 2:18, we see Paul naming some false teachers who were spreading the word that the resurrection had already taken place. Again, if the disciples were expecting the kind of event you are describing above, no such false teaching would have impacted them.

    Concerning the “thief in the night” passages (cf. Matt. 24:43-44; Luke 12:39-40; 1 Thes. 5;2; Rev. 3:3; 16:15), the point is usually that His coming will be swift, sudden and unexpected. No one knows when the Lord will come, and to those who are not watchful and ready it will catch them vulnerable and unprepared–to them who say “peace and security” it will be “sudden destruction” (1 Thes. 5:2) as in the days of Noah or fire raining on Sodom (Matt. 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-30). That there are secret aspects to what the Lord will do in His coming does not annul the passages that stress every eye or all the tribes of the land seeing Him and mourning, etc.

    Concerning 2 Thessalonians 2:1ff and 2 Timothy 2:18, it’s clear from the apostolic epistles that the Gentiles believers had a lot of false notions due to the background of Gnosticism and Greek philosophy, just as the Jewish believers held to a lot of false concepts due to their Judaic background. It is also clear that there were people who taught Judaizing or Gnostic doctrines that claimed to be apostles. Since the New Testament Scripture was not canonized yet, the believers were often confused about important matters and didn’t always know who to believe, such that even apostle Paul had to contend with the false teachers and vindicate his apostleship. And thus we see that many of the Corinthians even accepted the heretical saying that there is no resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15:12), but Paul corrects this not by pointing to an invisible resurrection but a bodily resurrection (patterned after the Lord’s bodily resurrection) that will take place at the last trumpet. He does something similar in 1 Thes. 4:13-18. That the Thessalonians could be alarmed or let themselves be deceived by a spirit, word or letter as us as if by the apostles that said that the day of the Lord had already come only shows that they were susceptible to false doctrine, not that they would have been right to to believe that the Lord’s coming is invisible. There in chapter two he describes some signs that would have to first take place; in the previous chapter (1:5-10) and in 1 Thes. 4:13-18 he associates the Lord’s coming with the glorification of our bodies and otherwise describes His coming in ways that that would take much allegorization to be invisible.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      You’re throwing out the Lord’s “thief in the night” metaphor and replacing it with an “armed robber in broad daylight” metaphor.

      Your explanation of 2 Thessalonians 2 is no explanation at all. Again, why didn’t he just remind them “Hey, guys, [just like Brandon will one day say,] it will be physical and therefore can’t be missed – so don’t worry about signs.

      • Brandon E says:

        You’re throwing out the Lord’s “thief in the night” metaphor and replacing it with an “armed robber in broad daylight” metaphor.

        No I’m not. As I said, “thief in the night” means swift, sudden, unexpected, the timing of it being known beforehand by no one. And there being hidden aspects of the Lord’s activities in His second coming does not annul the passages which speak of every eye and all the tribes of the land (not just the spiritually-minded minority) seeing Him “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” His coming is not only like a thief in the night in one aspect, but like lighting that shines forth from the east to the west, the shout of a loud trumpet, a gathering of all the nations, a flaming fire, etc. (hardly metaphors for hidden, secret things), in other aspects. We should accept both.

        Your explanation of 2 Thessalonians 2 is no explanation at all. Again, why didn’t he just remind them “Hey, guys, [just like Brandon will one day say,] it will be physical and therefore can’t be missed – so don’t worry about signs.

        I suggested that he did do such a thing in 1 Thes. 4 and 2 Thes. 1 (and in other epistles to other churches). In 2 Thes. 2 he focused on the signs because 1) the timing of His coming the immediate issue, 2) the signs are still significant (since even if the Lord’s coming is visible, no one knows when it will take place, except that we know that certain signs must take place first) and 3) he had something inspired to say about the apostasy and the man of lawlessness, whom the “Lord Jesus will slay by the breath of His mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of His coming,” which I’m glad he said, for now we have such words in Scripture.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          I know all these equivocations (e.g. thief in the night only has to do with no warning and nothing to do with avoiding detection, Paul had reasons for giving an indirect answer to a direct question about the Lord’s coming), and have relied on them myself in the past. But they are no longer satisfying. It’s beyond any doubt in my mind that Jesus and His apostles expected His coming in that generation. Knowing that He cannot lie, led me to take a fresh look at the Scriptures. The Lord has opened my eyes; I’d be lying to say otherwise and selfish to be silent.

          • Brandon E says:

            They’re not equivocations, but interpreting the Lord’s coming with all the available data rather than absolutizing one metaphor over and against another. Does “every eye” and “all the tribes of the land” seeing Him after He gathers the nations to Himself “allegorically” mean that Lord’s coming only a few will see Him?

            We can believe that on the one hand, something is hiddenly “stolen” in the Lord’s coming, and on the other hand, there are public, open, visible aspects to the Lord’s coming.

            • Mike Gantt says:

              Every eye sees Him, but not every eye recognizes Him. As it was when He was in the flesh, so it is with Him in the spirit.

              • Brandon E says:

                When He was in the flesh, the people who physically saw Him and didn’t repent and recognize who He was still saw Him physically. The analogy is poorly chosen. Today He is in the spirit, but He still has a visible, resurrected body. In His first coming He came as a lowly man in the despised region of Galilee; in His second coming He comes with great power and glory, with the angels of heaven, with a great sign in heaven, with a shout of a large trumpet, with a gathering of the nations, etc. In what sense does every eye and every tribe of the land “see” Him who will come even in the same way as the disciples beheld Him ascend (visibly)?

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  Have you never heard “while seeing, they do not see; and while hearing, they do not here” (Matthew 13:13)?

                  • Brandon E says:

                    Of course, the Lord applied such a word to the Jewish people (v. 15) who physically saw and heard Him speak, but did not understand the mysteries of the kingdom (v. 11). He’s not talking about His coming or the resurrection of the dead. This does not annul such passages as Acts 1:9-11. I don’t see a reason we should revise such a word to mean a spiritual seeing and hearing that is yet not a spiritual seeing and hearing, and apply it to the Lord’s coming and the resurrection of the dead.

                    • Mike Gantt says:

                      In Luke 17:20-21, the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming. Jesus replied that it was not coming with signs to be observed. Given this, why do you continue to insist that the coming of the kingdom must be observed?

          • Brandon E says:

            I’m not saying that “Paul had reasons for giving an indirect answer to a direct question about the Lord’s coming.” I’m saying that in 1 Thes. 4 and 2 Thes. 1 he already addressed the deeper problem (confusion about nature of the Lord’s coming and the resurrection of the dead, in a spiritual climate where there were no canonize New Testament Scriptures, in which false teachers who taught that there was no resurrection of the dead or that it had already taken place could easily claim be to be apostles). In 2 Thes. 2 he was essentially saying: besides, don’t be shaken by the false teachers who teach that the day of the Lord has already come, because these important signs must take place first.

            And if his point assumes that these signs will be “revealed” (v. 3, 8) and so they shouldn’t believe that the day of the Lord had already come, how is it that the church at large didn’t realize that the signs were fulfilled in 70AD, because (as you say) the majority weren’t spiritual enough to see it? “The Lord will not come until these signs happen; oh, but unless you’re spiritual enough you won’t know He came anyway.” Assuming your framework, wouldn’t it make more sense to instead warn them that only the “spiritual” minority will even realize that the day of the Lord had in fact come, and that the un-spiritual majority will go on unawares of His coming in the defunct churches, not realizing that the kingdom had replaced the church? Is this what the apostles had in mind?

            • Mike Gantt says:

              The disciples were warned by scriptures such as Hebrew 12:14, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”

              AS for your answer about 2 Thessalonians 2, I just don’t get your point. The simplest way in the world for the apostles to make known to the disciples that the Lord’s coming had not yet occurred if your view is true is to have written in response to their question about whether or not the day of the Lord had occurred something like “Duh?” “I told you it was a physical cataclysm that couldn’t be missed!”

              • Brandon E says:

                Regarding Heb. 12:14, other passages clearly say that every eye and all the tribes of the land will “see” Him, before they are then appointed to eternal life or cast away from His presence unto eternal destruction. The “seeing” in Heb. 12:14 refers to the spiritual seeing that includes continual fellowship with Him that transforms us unto His glorious image and will be consummated on that day when we “see Him even as He is” (2 Cor. 3:17-18; 1 John 3:2).

                —-
                As for your answer about 2 Thessalonians 2, I just don’t get your point.
                —-
                1) As I said, he affirmed the open, public nature of resurrection/transfiguration and the Lord’s coming in 1 Thes. 4 and 2 Thes. 1, just as he did in 1 Cor. 15 concerning the resurrection of the dead to counter the teaching that there is no bodily resurrection of dead. In the epistles to the Thessalonians he doesn’t suggest that only a “spiritual” minority of the believers will recognize that the Lord has come and the resurrection of the dead has taken place.

                2) In 2 Thes. 2 he is reasoning with them in another way, a way that reaffirms his homiletic points about the apostasy and especially the man of lawlessness. He goes into more detail on these matters than on details of His actual coming; it’s clear that’s what his particular burden was at that time. Besides, the simplest and most direct way is not always the best way, especially if the obvious point has been reaffirmed elsewhere. I bet we could find many examples in which God in the Old Testament, Christ and the apostles in the New Testament, did not give only the simplest, direct or obvious response to a question or problem.

                3) If it were true that only a “spiritual” minority will even recognize that the Lord has come anyway, and the majority will not recognize it despite the signs of the apostasy and the man of lawlessness being revealed and slayed by the Lord at the manifestation of the His coming, why wouldn’t he explicitly warn them this way in 2 Thes. 2 without spending so much time on signs that won’t help the majority recognize His coming in the end anyway?

  7. Brandon E says:

    7. It’s obvious from the New Testament that the entire church would not be apostate – otherwise the parable would have been about tares only without any reference to wheat for the barn. The number of Christian denominations has only grown since apostolic days. My understanding is that there are now something like 30,000 of them – and I don’t think that even counts non-denominational churches, and each one of those is separate. What do you think that means with respect to Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17 for unity? What do you think it means in light of Jesus’ teaching that a house divided against itself cannot stand? What do you think it means in light of Ephesians 4 which calls for the attainment of a unity of faith by those people? How much more evidence do you need that, in terms of development according to the direction of God, the organized church is going in the wrong direction?

    I believe that this shows that most of what we call “church” is wrongly organized, but this is different than concluding that the Lord is no longer interested in building His church, or that the church became apostate and obsolete and replaced by the kingdom sometime in the first century, which you say that the Scripture predicts.

    I answer this at length in the link I provided above. To summarize, it was some time after 70 A.D. but before the end of the first century. This is predicted throughout the New Testament (though obviously they didn’t use our calendars). Most notably, you see this predicted in Matthew 24 when you see the destruction of Jerusalem being prophesied but the Lord saying that this event itself was not the end – but that a great tribulation would ensue, brought to an end by the coming of the Lord in an act of mercy for those who had trusted Him throughout it.

    But how does any of this show that the church became apostate, obsolete, and replaced by the kingdom sometime between 70 AD and the end of the first century?

    In the TGC thread, I said that the pre-70 AD church was far from perfected or ideal, having all sorts of problems, as the epistles show us. You said that such concerns were inappropriate because they were still one unified church, unlike today’s situation with many separate denominations meeting within one city. So I pointed out that the church of that time continued to be unified, with one church recognized in each city, until well after the first century. Your criticisms of today’s Christendom wouldn’t apply to them, so why say that the church was apostate and obsolete by the end of the first century?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      If there is a true church today, where is it? And do you go to it, or do you go to one of the false ones?

      • Brandon E says:

        Before I would answer this question, I would suggest that perhaps the reason why the Lord hasn’t revealed the church to you is because hold a sectarian doctrine that says that church has been replaced by the kingdom in the first century, making the church impossible, and tell others on the presumed authority of the Lord to not seek a genuine church. In short, you aren’t seeking a genuine church. Or if you are, you’re teaching others to do otherwise.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          I came to my awareness while I was a pastor on my knees and studying the Scriptures for how to build the Lord’s church in the Lord’s way. He knows how sincere was my desire to do church in the biblical way. That’s when He I came to see that no one is building church today in the Scriptural way.

          • Brandon E says:

            So why not build the church in the scriptural way instead of telling others not to seek a genuine church because the church replaced by the kingdom? Plus, I don’t believe you know that no one on earth is building the church in a scriptural way, since you don’t know the entire world situation.

            • Mike Gantt says:

              I am quite sure that there are people trying to the build the church in a scriptural way, just as I did. However, the New Testament offers no blueprint for building the church that can be followed today. It only worked in the first century – the same way that Noah’s ark only worked for its time, Moses tabernacle only worked for its time, and Solomon’s temple only worked for its time.

              • Brandon E says:

                However, the New Testament offers no blueprint for building the church that can be followed today. It only worked in the first century

                Except that the blueprint–one church, one church in each city–was followed until well after the first century. It can be followed today; whether everyone would follow it or insist upon building a denominations on doctrines and practices that divide Christians is another question.

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  Divisions were popping up in the church even during the first century (3 John 1:9-10). This was part of the apostasy foretold by Jesus (Matthew 24:10) and the apostles (Acts 20:29-30), and confirmed in the New Testament as having arrived in the last hours of the true church (1 John 2:18). Both unity and doctrinal purity were tested to the limit before the Lord’s return. This is why the messages were so stark in the churches of Asia Minor (Revelation 2-3) – the time was soon for the Lord’s coming to separate the wheat from the chaff.

                  • Brandon E says:

                    I agree that there were divisions in the first century. The ones who left the churches, or never met in the churches, and formed their sects were Gnostics, Judaizers, etc. Nevertheless, the church continued to meet as one church with one church in each city until well after the first century.

  8. Mike Gantt says:

    Brandon,

    Because of the nested threading, some of the comments have been squeezed far to the right. Also, from a content perspective, some repetition of points between us is occurring. Therefore, let’s take a breath and take stock.

    You believe that the Lord’s coming will be physical, has not yet occurred, and that this presents no conflict with Scripture. I believe that it was promised to be spiritual and occurred when promised in the first century, all according to Scripture.

    All of the specific verses and interpretations you have offered in support of your view, I have heard before. I used to subscribe to them, because that’s what I was taught. I can no longer accept them because I have come to see their inadequacy.

    Since I have laid out a comprehensive biblical case for my position (Whatever Became of Jesus Christ?), I suggest, if you want to pursue the argument, that you take your argument there. In that book, I lay out the logic separately for the nature of the Second Coming (spiritual as opposed to physical) and the timing of the Second Coming (imminent in the first century as opposed to some subsequent century). If you can’t get comfortable with the idea that the kingdom of God has come just as the Lord promised based on that explanation, then you’ll just have to reject me as a liar or a fool.

    • Brandon E says:

      And I think I’ve already addressed many of your crucial points and premises.

      We’ve run the course, and I think we can simply agree to disagree at this point.

      However, I believe I can live in the Lord’s presence (thus living in the kingdom in that sense; cf. Rom. 14:17) without accepting these idiosyncratic concepts that you claim are apostolic and Spirit-endorsed.

      And suppose you have deluded yourself into thinking that according to the authority of God in the Scripture the Lord’s coming, the resurrection of the dead, the kingdom, etc. has already come and replaced the church, and the Spirit has revealed this to you, and everyone who thinks otherwise is wrong? How would you ever come to realize it given how committed and locked-in you are to the concept that your opinions are absolutely the Spirit’s authentic revelation to you? Let it not be said that no one earnestly tried to open you to the possibility that these concepts are not true.

      • Mike Gantt says:

        Brandon,

        Does being “idiosyncratic” make me wrong? Was not Micaiah considered idiosyncratic by Israel’s prophets? Was not Elijah considered idiosyncratic by his contemporaries? Were not Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all considered idiosyncratic? Was not our Lord crucified for His idiosyncratic teaching? Was not Paul considered idiosyncratic by the elites of Mars Hill? Being idiosyncratic does not guarantee that I’m right, but being idiosyncratic is almost a requirement for anyone who speaks in the name of the Lord. Those who love the approval of men more than the approval of God are never willing to bear such stigma.

        Remember always that it is the gospel of Christ to which we were called. It is also called the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of grace…but it is never called the gospel of the church.

        If you will focus on Christ (as you promised elsewhere) and if you walk in His presence (as you promise here) then you will do well. And you will eventually see what I have shown you. Until then I reciprocate the warning of your final sentence.

        • Brandon E says:

          The gospel is not called “the gospel of the church,” but the church is called “the pillar and base of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The truth was deposited into the church, not into isolated individuals. Every believing that their own private interpretations are correct is why we have the 30,000+ denominations that you object to. Many persons personally studied the Bible and came to vastly different conclusions than you? What is your explanation for this phenemona? That their interpretations are wrong and yours are right because you’re more spiritual and faithful than all of them?

          Concerning “idiosyncratic,” can you name a group or a person who agrees with the doctrinal system you’ve created (without begging the question by saying Christ and the apostles)? The prophets and apostles spoke new revelation but we have their writings because there was a community to respond to and preserve their words–their message was not confined to them.

          And yet you have claimed that the reason why people don’t “see” what you see is that they haven’t repented, aren’t seeking the kingdom, aren’t spiritually-minded, don’t depend upon the Scripture instead of tradition, etc., while apparently you believe you must possess these traits to the degree necessary to arrive at your interpretations. Here you write to me that if I focus on Christ and walk in His presence “you will eventually see what I have shown you.” This, of course, rejects outright the possibility that someone who does not eventually arrive at your views is focusing on Christ and walking in His presence. But I could name notable Christian writers, teachers, and martyrs who disagree with your views–are you more spiritually mature and faithful than they? Do you not see the hubris in your stance?

          Elijah was a prophet and Paul an apostle. Unless you are are a prophet or apostle unveiling new revelation from God, what claim do you have be in a higher or better position to have the truth over and against any person or group who has the Bible? You’ve simply suggested that you’re more faithful, spiritual, kingdom-seeking, etc., than those who do not arrive at your views, but such reasoning is circular in a way that discounts the viewpoints and experience of other Christians and circles upon yourself as the center of true interpretation.

          Basically, Mike, I’ve never interacted with someone so exaggeratedly individualistic and self-confident that their eccentric interpretations of the Bible were right, over and against all Christians who have equal claim to prayerful study of the Bible and following their conscience.

          I’ve interacted with numerous people, including ones with whom I strongly disagreed on certain issues, but I have never seen someone who makes so little distinction between the plain teaching of Scripture revealed by the Spirit and their idiosyncratic interpretations of Scripture, and whose explanation for why anybody else would disagree with them is that those who disagree have certain spiritual shortcomings.

          • Mike Gantt says:

            As best I can tell, Brandon, you are claiming that your views are ultimately superior to mine because you can point to more people who agree with you. Do you really think that’s the way God would have us determine truth?

            • Brandon E says:

              What I’m saying is that the fact of many Christians independently interpreting Scripture but only you arriving your theological system requires an explanation. Your explanation that others don’t agree with your views because they aren’t adequately seeking the kingdom, living in Christ’s presence, repentant, depending upon Scripture, etc., discounts others’ Christian experience and is hubristically circular.

              Don’t you find it odd that only you arrive at your views and so many Christians who devoted their entire lives to the study and proclamation of Scripture, who have suffered more for Christ’s precious name than you or I, etc., do not share your idiosyncratic theological framework and contradict you on many points? Are you more spiritual and trusting of God than all of them? To consider this matter isn’t do not trust God but to not trust yourself. If everyone called trusted their self as much as Mike does we’d all end up thinking that our various contradicting, concepts and peculiar interpretations of Scripture are absolutely divine revelation. Do you really think that’s the way God would have us determine truth?

  9. Brandon E says:

    Hi Mike
    You said under my thread numbered 1:

    You keep insisting on interpreting all the descriptions of His coming as physical, but you don’t seem to recognize that the physical descriptions clash. There wasn’t lightning flashing in the Acts 1 passage, there’s no place for a thief in the night in the Acts 1 scene, there’s no place for lightning in a thief in the night scene. At least the Dispensationalists recognized the mis-match of physical descriptions and therefore developed their scheme for a serious of different events. They were wrong, of course, but at least they didn’t try to harmonize clashing physical scenarios.

    I’m not saying that the lightning flash equals physical lightning, just that that it (along with all the other descriptions I listed) makes it seem that there will be open aspects of His coming not covered in the thief in the night metaphor. A thief in the night doesn’t come with lightning flashing, fire roaring, the shout of the trumpet, and the voice of the archangel, great glory and power, to slay the man of lawlessness with the breath of His mouth at the manifestation of his coming, etc. Every eye and every tribe in the land doesn’t see a thief in the night. So I don’t see why we have to make everything fit exclusively into the thief in the night metaphor, instead of saying taking all the metaphors and descriptions together and concluding that some aspects His coming will be like a thief in the night (hidden), in other aspects will be public, open, visible.

    You seem to have this proclivity to try to make all that the Bible has to say on a matter to fit into only a chosen subset of the data. But overemphasizing one side of a multifaceted truth is how we arrive at most heresies. For instance, some people say that the Bible clearly says that the Messiah was a man, and therefore He could not truly be God (or could only “metaphorically” be God), because they do not know how to reconciled the two seeming opposites.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      There are indeed riddles in the Bible over which men have stumbled. Take, for example, Matthew 22:41-46 wherein Jesus asks the Pharisees, in essence, “How can the Messiah be both David’s son and his Lord?” The answer, of course, was not some philosophical construct in which the subordination of a son and the superiority of a Lord were claimed to coexist in an eternal relationship blah blah blah. Rather the answer to the riddle was simple, straightforward, and supplied in the resurrection. That is, Jesus was the son of David according to the flesh but the Son of God according the spirit (Romans 1:1-4).

      The progression from Matthew to Revelation is one of ascribing more and more glory to Jesus Christ. At a point, this begins to impinge on the sovereignty and exclusivity of God Himself. It becomes a riddle which requires an answer. The answer is not some philosophical construct of blah blah blah, but rather the revelation that God was in Christ. At the coming of the kingdom He revealed Himself to be so, having worn flesh as a veil, resolving the tension between the two identities – just as Joseph had revealed himself to his brothers and brought into one two identities (Acts 7:13). The apostles had promised that a great revelation of Christ was coming, and we see just how great it was!

      • Brandon E says:

        I am not sure what exactly this has to do with my previous comment.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          You had just said that some people don’t know how to reconcile two seeming opposites. The trinity doctrine attempts reconciliation by inventing philosophical categories which artificially allow a person to believe in a contradiction. In referring to Matthew 22:41-46 I was showing, by contrast, the biblical way of dealing with seeming contradictions. Jesus was pointing out that the Pharisees had just held the ideas in tension and not realized that resurrection would remove the seeming contradiction. In the same way, Jesus’ restoration to full glory at the Second Coming removes the seeming contradiction between the Father and the Son.

          • Brandon E says:

            We’re discussing this elsewhere:
            http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/six-objections-to-the-trinity-%E2%80%93-3-of-6/
            http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/six-objections-to-the-trinity-%E2%80%93-4-of-6/

            My main point is that the Scripture does not describe the Lord’s coming only as a “thief in the night” but also as things we wouldn’t associate with a thief in the night, such as lightning flashing, fire roaring, the shout of the trumpet, the voice of the archangel, great glory and power, slaying the man of lawlessness with the breath of His mouth at the manifestation of his coming, etc. The Scripture says that every eye and every tribe in the land will see Him, which is not something we would ascribe to a thief in the night. The Scripture says that He will come upon the clouds in the same way as He was beheld ascending bodily and visibly into heaven. So it is more natural to conclude that in some aspects the Lord’s coming will be hidden and other aspects it is something more public, apparent, widespread, than it is to try to make everything fit into the “thief in the night” metaphor.

            • Mike Gantt says:

              I am not trying to make every aspect of the coming of the Lord match the “thief in the night” metaphor. On the contrary, He was “glorified in His saints on the day” (2 Thessalonians 1:10); that is, seen by the sanctified (Hebrews 12:14).

              You, by contrast, don’t seem to be allowing the “thief in the night” metaphor to apply to any aspect of the Lord’s coming. The closest you come is to say it’s a surprise which is to do no justice to the metaphor. A thief is a surprise whether it’s day or night.

              • Brandon E says:


                I am not trying to make every aspect of the coming of the Lord match the “thief in the night” metaphor.

                You were claiming that the Lord’s coming can in no aspect be visible or apparent to all on account of the “thief in the night” metaphor, saying things like “there’s no place for a thief in the night in the Acts 1 scene, there’s no place for lightning in a thief in the night scene. Further, you claimed: “Of what point was the thief in the night metaphor used by the Lord – does everyone see the thief come in the night? Isn’t the point of the metaphor that people only know there was a thief in the night when they wake up the next morning and notice something was missing?”

                But the Scripture says that “every eye” and “every tribe of the land” will see Him (not just a spiritual minority), that He will come in the same way as He was beheld ascending (bodily, visibly) into heaven, etc. So yes, you’re trying to make everything fit into the thief in the night metaphor in that sense; that is, if it contradicts your idea that every aspect of the Lord’s coming will be invisible and not seen by all, you ask how that squares with a thief in the night.


                You, by contrast, don’t seem to be allowing the “thief in the night” metaphor to apply to any aspect of the Lord’s coming. The closest you come is to say it’s a surprise which is to do no justice to the metaphor. A thief is a surprise whether it’s day or night.

                Just because I haven’t specified what aspect doesn’t mean that I don’t allow any aspect. My point is that not none of the aspects are invisible or hidden but that not all of them are invisible or hidden. You said that the “Spirit” is what is stolen; but if that were true, can’t that be invisible, hidden or not noticed by all, while His bodily coming, bodily resurrection of the dead, last judgment, etc. is visible, ostensible, or apparent?

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  Every eye will see Him, though not every eye will recognize Him. Thus I allow for the “every eye” metaphor and the “thief in the night” metaphor. By saying that the coming of the Lord will physically resemble the physical scene depicted in Acts 1, you leave no room for the thief in the night metaphor.

                  As I mentioned earlier, a lamb and a lion can be reconciled spiritually. They cannot be reconciled physically.

                  Our destiny is not to be earth-bound (Philippians 3:20). Much less is it the Lord’s destiny.

  10. Brandon E says:

    In your reponse to me under the thread I numbered 3, you said:

    Yes, 2 Peter 3 is played as the “wild card” that trumps every other New Testament passage which calls for the coming of the Lord to be imminent. Peter’s point was not to negate the imminent expectation but to remind believers that the Lord’s timing is not according to our clocks but rather according to His wisdom. His wisdom set the season, but the day and hour cannot be pinpointed.

    But I don’t think I’m using 2 Peter 3 as a singular trump card. I see it like this:

    1. The Scriptures associate a bodily resurrection of the dead and a bodily appearing of the Lord Jesus in the clouds (in the same way as He as beheld ascending to heaven in a cloud, Acts 1:9-11) with His coming. Therefore, the Lord’s coming in full could not have taken place yet.

    2. The Scripture does not only say that the Lord’s coming will like “a thief in the night” but uses many descriptions and metaphors that express an open, public, visible, apparent manifestation (i.e., words, concepts and expressions we would not associate with a “thief in the night” trying to be hidden) that would be easily recognizable, but not until it suddenly takes place. Therefore, we should conclude that in some aspects the Lord’s coming will be hidden and in other aspects public, apparent, and visible, without emphasizing one side of the truth to the exclusion of the other.

    3. The word “generation” in Scripture can have a poetic or thematic meaning, defined by the moral condition of a group of people (Prov. 30:11-14; Matt. 11:16; 12:39, 41-42, 45; Acts 2:40; Phil. 2:15) rather than by an age or person.

    4. Our sense of urgency or imminence concerning His coming comes from living in His presence today and needing to live a life unto Him for His purpose regardless of whether He comes today, tomorrow, fifty years, or a thousand years from now. All will appear before the Lord to face judgment; all who die will face judgment. Does a spiritual person need the Lord’s coming to be literally within a lifetime to feel the urgency and imminence of His appearing, His desire to come back to claim His bride?

    5. 2 Peter 3 shows that our concept of “soon” or “delay” is not like God’s concept. Why should a spiritual person think that “soon” or “quickly” must mean within a literal, physical lifetime in order for it to be soon? Isn’t a spiritual person’s concept of “soon” more according to God’s concept of “soon”?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      The concept of “soon” did not come from us – it came from God.

      It was the Lord Himself who said to His contemporaries:

      “Truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.” – Matthew 10:23

      “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” – Matthew 16:28

      “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” – Matthew 24:34

      If the Lord wanted His disciples to be prepared for a possible two thousand year delay, He did a terrible job. Matthew repeated the failure by using the quotes and not making the possibility of delay clearer. As to your previously stated preference for interpreting the Mount of Transfiguration as fulfillment of Matthew 16:28, why then did the disciples still view it as future when they asked Him about it in Matthew 24:3?

      See also Dating the Events in the Book of Revelation.

      • Brandon E says:

        There are many interpretations of Matthew 10:23, but how do you know that the word there has been fulfilled already? Even if we knew that this word was personally fulfilled by the disciples, that only gets us as far as partial preterism, which holds that Christ in some way “came” in 70 A.D. but that His full coming with His bodily appearing and accompanying resurrection of the dead is still on the way.

        —-
        As to your previously stated preference for interpreting the Mount of Transfiguration as fulfillment of Matthew 16:28, why then did the disciples still view it as future when they asked Him about it in Matthew 24:3?
        —-
        Because the coming kingdom, of which Christ with His glory and power is the reality, can be manifested, enjoyed and participated in (cf. Rom. 14:17; Rev. 1:6) even before He comes visibly in full at the consummation of this age with His saints and accompanying bodily resurrection of the dead, etc.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          As for Matthew 10:23, if it is not fulfilled then either Jesus was a false prophet for Matthew was a liar for putting those words in his mouth. Either way, we’re sunk because it would mean the New Testament isn’t true.

          As for Matthew 24:3, if you want to say that aspects of the kingdom can be experienced before its coming, that’s fine. But that would mean you concede that the Mount of Transfiguration could have been such an “experiencing ahead of time” and not the complete fulfillment of Matthew 16:28.

          • Brandon E says:

            If Matt. 10:23 hasn’t been fulfilled yet, then it hasn’t been fulfilled yet, no need to think the Lord a liar. Many dispensationalists believe this refers to a coming tribulation associated with the restored national Israel. Alternatively, partial preterism holds that the Lord “came” in the sense of visiting Jerusalem with judgment in 70 A.D., but that his full parousia with the bodily resurrection of the dead has yet to take place.

            With Matt. 24:3, I’m saying that the kingdom can “come” or be manifested or participated in before all the events we’d associate with the Lord’s coming in full with His kingdom take place (bodily resurrection of the dead, bodily appearing, etc.).

            • Mike Gantt says:

              You don’t seem to understand that if Matthew 10:23 has not yet been fulfilled, then it can never be fulfilled.

              On Matthew 24 you seem to be dividing the Lord’s coming into two – some call it “the already and not yet.” However, there’s no scriptural basis for doing this – that is, taking something the Lord described as one and dividing it into parts.

              • Brandon E says:

                —-
                You don’t seem to understand that if Matthew 10:23 has not yet been fulfilled, then it can never be fulfilled.
                —-
                Why not? There is a nation of Israel and many Christians believe there will be a coming great tribulation; your claim presumes that this was a personal word to the first century disciples that had to be fulfilled personally by them, and not a general word. And as I mentioned earlier, partial preterists believe the passage has been fulfilled, all without denying a bodily second coming, a bodily, resurrection of the dead, and without accepting your other concepts about an invisible kingdom replacing the church that you’re saying is the apostolic teaching.

                —-
                On Matthew 24 you seem to be dividing the Lord’s coming into two – some call it “the already and not yet.” However, there’s no scriptural basis for doing this – that is, taking something the Lord described as one and dividing it into parts.
                —-
                Would this be a division into two (separate) parts or a gradual fulfillment through the various ways in which Christ who is the kingdom manifests Himself and His Kingly authority? The basis for this is that Christ is the kingdom: Christ is the kingdom who stood in their midst; when He cast out demons by the Spirit the kingdom of God had come upon them; the Father had already delivered the believers out of the authority of darkness and transferred them into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Col. 1:12-13) prior to when you claim the kingdom came; if Christ is the kingdom then the believers who live in His presence can enjoy the kingdom even before it comes in full, and hence we see that the believers had been made a kingdom (Rev. 1:6) and could enjoy the kingdom in the Spirit (Rom. 14:17).

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  Jesus spoke Matthew 10:23 to the twelve. The twelve all died in the first century. If you’re saying that Jesus didn’t come in the first century then there’s no way for this verse to be fulfilled.

                  As for preterism, I don’t know much about it except that it exists. I don’t know – and don’t need to know – what parts the “partials” among them embrace.

                  As for your second paragraph, I really don’t know how to square it with Matthew 24 – or even where to start. Go back to the questions the disciples asked in Matthew 24:3. Don’t you see how different your paragraph is from what Jesus answered them?

                  • Brandon E says:

                    Why should we think that Matthew 10:23 was directed only to the twelve personally, such that only they could personally fulfill it? Mark 13:29 and Luke 21:31-33, in which the Lord said “when you see these things happening,” was also spoken with them as the audience, but almost all of the apostles had been martyred before 70 A.D. Was everything the Lord Jesus spoke to the disciples only for them and not for us?

                    Partial preterism, the more common view, is the belief that much of the Olivet discourse was fulfilled in 70 A.D., but that the Lord’s second coming and the resurrection of the dead has yet to take place. Full preterism, a very uncommon view, is the belief that the Lord’s second coming and the resurrection of the dead has already taken place.

                    As for my second paragraph, I was giving evidence for the ways in which Scripture indicates that the kingdom can “come” or be here already and yet not fully be here yet. In Matthew 24, the Lord Jesus was answering the disciples’ questions about the signs of His coming and the consummation of the age, not a description of the kingdom as in other chapters (e.g. Matt. 13), so obviously we would not expect Him to say what I said about the various ways in which the kingdom is manifested. He answered them not with a single sign or event but with a list of series of signs and events that arguably were not fulfilled in the first century. When He actually talks about His second coming, He describes it in terms of not only a “thief” who comes unexpectedly to the unprepared (concerning which He says, “For this reason you also be ready, because at an hour when you do not expect it, the Son of Man is coming”) but in terms of all the tribes of the lands mourning and seeing the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven (cf. Acts 1:9-11) with great power and glory.

  11. Mike Gantt says:

    This response is to this sub-thread above.

    Jesus qualified for the throne of Israel on earth. God promoted Him to a greater throne – the Jerusalem of heaven. Why then does it make sense to demote Him back to earth?

    • Brandon E says:

      1) You suggested that for Christ to return visibly would mean He would “become a human being again” as if “was once not enough”? This suggests that Christ is not currently a human being (in addition to being God), which contradicts the Scriptures that indicate that He is still a man with a visible, glorified human body.

      2) It would not be a demotion, but a filling of the earth with His heavenly throne, a kind of joining of earth and heaven. He is still the Lord of all the earth. If the heavenly Jerusalem “comes down out of heaven from God” like a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2, 9-11), is this a shame, a degradation? Would it be a shame if the Lord’s and our resurrected bodies were visible instead of invisible? The only way it would be a demotion is if we first accepted your radical spiritual/material, invisible/visible dualism that is little different than Gnostic and Greek philosophical-platonic thought, except that you try to find support for it in Scripture.

      • Mike Gantt says:

        1) A full-grown oak tree looks very different from when it first broke out of the ground. Your assumption that Jesus has to look just as He appeared in the 40 days after His resurrection is belied even by the book of Revelation.

        2) Heaven rules earth, therefore it would be a demotion for Jesus to leave a heavenly throne to rule from an earthly one.

        • Brandon E says:

          A full-grown oak is still an oak; the Lord Jesus is still a human being. I don’t know what kind of growth cycles and morphology you’re proposing for resurrected bodies, but regardless the angels in Acts 1:9-11 indicate that He would come in the same way He was beheld ascending visibly and bodily upon the clouds into heaven. In Revelation His appearance is “fierce” or intense but He’s still described as the Son of Man (Rev. 1:13), who placed His right hand upon John when he fell at His feet (1:17).

          Does He have to “leave” a heavenly throne to reign on the earth? Can’t He fill earth with heavenly reality, and install His heavenly throne into earth, and rule all things in heaven and the earth, without that being a demotion?

          • Mike Gantt says:

            Your affinity for the trinity doctrine has apparently conditioned your mind to accept all sorts of contradictions. You see Jesus’ current form as like the Acts 1:9-11 scene and also like the Revelation 1 scene – even though you admit that His appearance as quite different in the two scenes.

            Similarly, you seem to be proposing that He could simultaneously occupy a human body and the entire heavenly realm.

            I guess that’s one of the problems of suspending the law of noncontradiction – it tends to become habit forming.

            God is not a God of contradictions. Where there is confusion, He will bring clarity. Where there is a riddle, He will bring an answer. “Nothing is hidden except to be revealed.”

            • Brandon E says:

              1. Mike, I’ve shown elsewhere that your grasp of the concept of trinity is superficial, based on your misunderstanding of how the words like “person” and “being” are being used.
              http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/six-objections-to-the-trinity-%E2%80%93-4-of-6/

              2. —-
              You see Jesus’ current form as like the Acts 1:9-11 scene and also like the Revelation 1 scene – even though you admit that His appearance as quite different in the two scenes.

              I didn’t say that they are exactly the same, only that Acts 1:9-11 indicates that He will come in the same way as He was beheld ascending bodily and visibly unto heaven, and that in Revelation 1 He is presented still as the Son of Man who touched John with His right hand when he falls dead at His feet. Difference doesn’t equal contradiction. Once again, you’re creating straw men instead of dealing with the actual substance.

              3. —-
              Similarly, you seem to be proposing that He could simultaneously occupy a human body and the entire heavenly realm.
              I guess that’s one of the problems of suspending the law of noncontradiction – it tends to become habit forming.


              If God can become a man (and yet still be God, as you admit), why can’t He have a human body materially and yet dwell in things spiritually?

              I’m not suspending the law of noncontradiction. An example of an actual contradiction would be that He has a body and does not have a body at the same time and in the same sense.

              On the other hand, a mystery is something that might appear to be a contradiction to some–like God becoming a man without ceasing to be God–but is actually a matter that our finite minds cannot fully comprehend.

              As far as the Lord’s coming, I’m not saying that the Lord’s coming will be hidden yet ostensible, invisible yet visible at the same time and in the same sense, so there is no suspension of the law of noncontradiction. I’m saying 1) that the Lord’s coming will be hidden (like “a thief in the night”) in some aspects and public, apparent, ostensible in other aspects, and 2) that you’re trying too hard when you dismiss descriptions like Acts 1:9-11 and every eye and every tribe of the land seeing Him, etc. by insisting that it all must fit into the “thief in the night” metaphor. That you tried to say that Acts 1:9-11 was all about the disciples not seeing the Lord ascending into heaven when the angels actually say that He “will come in the same way as you beheld Him going into heaven” shows that you’re trying too hard to make everything conform to your system.

              • Mike Gantt says:

                Though I wouldn’t go so far as saying that my understanding of trinitarian doctrine is superficial, I readily acknowledge that it is limited. I find this doctrine extremely complex and hard to understand, and all the more so when I humble myself as a little child according to Jesus’ instruction for those who want to understand spiritual mysteries. For example, here’s a statement you made. I don’t understand it. I’ve italicized the specific words in the sentence to help you understand where my trouble lies:

                “I’ve been pointing out that the word “person” or “persona” in Latin or “hypostases” in Greek are neutral, placeholder terms used to describe the co-existing distinctions between the Father, Son, and Spirit; they’re not there to define what a “person” is when speaking about human beings or God.”

                I mean no disrespect, but that just sounds like gibberish to me – as wouldn’t Einstein’s theories if I were to try to read them. Of course, I know, for example, what the word “neutral” means as well as the word “placeholder,” but I don’t know what they mean in that sentence. Reading trinitarian doctrine makes my head hurt. I should not need the brain of a PhD to understand God. Rather, I should need a humble heart and the Spirit of God.

                If you can improve on some of the turgid prose you were quoting from your Trinitarian theologians, I’m all ears.

                As for your second point, I hope you will soon realize that clashing spiritual images is not necessarily a problem. For example, we can -without much effort – see Jesus as both the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah. He displayed the gentleness of a lamb when crucified and the heart of a lion when he arose from the dead. Clashing physical images, however, present a problem for the one who wants to say the prophecies of the Lord’s coming are point to a physical coming. If you point to one passage and say, “That’s predicting a physical coming” and then point to another passage which give a different physical description and say they’re both pointing to the same physical event.

                On your third point, I don’t think you are stating the facts correctly. Jesus did actually cease to be God in any practical or functional sense. That’s the point of Philippians 2:5-7.

                • Brandon E says:

                  —-
                  If you can improve on some of the turgid prose you were quoting from your Trinitarian theologians, I’m all ears.
                  —-
                  Mike, what I’m saying is that you don’t even need to know what “persona” or “hypostases” really mean, because no one knows what they really mean. The words were not defined in such a way by those who chose them. Moreover, “person” in English does not mean the same thing as “persona” in Latin or “hypostases” in Greek, and “persona” does not mean the same thing as “hypostases.”

                  Rather, the words were chosen as placeholders for the distinctions between the Father, Son, and Spirit that are presented in the Scripture as truly existing at the same time. The simplest words I know to describe it is to say that when the Son is here, the Father and the Spirit don’t cease to exist or go away. When the Father is here, the Son and Spirit don’t cease to exist or go away. When the Spirit is here, the Father and the Son don’t cease to exist or go away. This contrasts with your claim that the Father “became” the Son and ceased to be the Father, despite the fact that the Scripture presents the Father as speaking, working, hearing, answering, and being prayed to by the Son while the Son was on the earth, and Father being in the Son and the Son being in the Father (John 14:10-11).

                  The difference between God being triune and tri-theism is that tri-theism would have it that the Father, Son, and Spirit are separate beings. But the concept of God being triune affirms that the Father, Son, and Spirit are one and never separate. The Father, Son, and Spirit are in each “person” (e.g. John 14:10-11) such that, for example, the Son cannot exist, be present or do anything without the Father and the Spirit, and the same for the Father with regard to Son and Spirit, and the same Spirit with regard to Father and Son.

                  —-
                  I find this doctrine extremely complex and hard to understand, and all the more so when I humble myself as a little child according to Jesus’ instruction for those who want to understand spiritual mysteries.
                  —-
                  Good. God cannot be fully understood, and we can’t adequate understand Him with our natural effort or mentality. If you’re having trouble getting what I’ve been talking about, I would suggest praying over John 14:10-11 or Matt. 11:25-27. I don’t think you need the brain of a PhD to grasp the basic things to be understood about God being triune.
                  —-
                  As for your second point, I hope you will soon realize that clashing spiritual images is not necessarily a problem. For example, we can -without much effort – see Jesus as both the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah.
                  —-
                  Well, right, because each image is stressing a different aspect of His person and work.

                  But to return to my point, no one believes that Jesus literally and physically is either a lamb or a lion. He did, however, literally and physically become a man through incarnation. And He is still a man, with a resurrected and glorified human body, leaving behind an empty tomb. So since angels tell the disciples that He will come in the same way as He was beheld (visibly and bodily) ascending into a clouds unto heaven from the mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-11), and the Scripture says that the Son of Man will return upon the clouds in great power and glory (Matt. 24:30) to the mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4), we have good reason to deem it a bodily appearing as is proper to His glorified humanity in a way we do not have with spiritual images like a lamb or a lion.
                  —-
                  On your third point, I don’t think you are stating the facts correctly. Jesus did actually cease to be God in any practical or functional sense. That’s the point of Philippians 2:5-7.

                  He indeed emptied Himself of much of His position and glory to take the position of a lowly man, even a slave. However, not functioning like God in certain ways doesn’t mean He ceased to be God, for He was still God in life and nature. A policeman not wearing a uniform and not being on duty is still a policeman. I also wouldn’t say cease to be God in any practical or functional sense. He did what only God really has the power and authority to do, such as forgive people their sins, give people life, etc.

                  • Mike Gantt says:

                    1) If I don’t have to be a theologian to understand the trinity, why are theologians considered the experts on the subject?

                    2) Do you honestly think (I want you truly to take some time to think about this before you answer) that someone “praying over John 14:10-11 or Matthew 11:25-27” who had never previously heard of the doctrine of the trinity would arise from that time believing that God was a trinity?

                    3) Since the Holy Spirit was revealed in the Old Testament, why didn’t the Jews believe in a binity?

  12. Mike Gantt says:

    This response is to this sub-thread above.

    That same chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 says that when the perfect comes, the partial is done away. The perfect is the kingdom of God, the partial was the church.

    • Brandon E says:

      Does the passage say that that the church is the partial and the kingdom is the perfect? Besides, this is a subject change. How is that a response to my point about faith and hope being unto the fulfillment of the promises, but love being greater than these, when you were trying to annul the biblical passages that indicate that the Lord has a visible body that will eventually be seen again by appealing to “we walk by faith, not by sight”?

      • Mike Gantt says:

        There is a progression throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, people were taught to see the glory of God in the glory of physical things – such as the glory of Solomon’s temple. In the New Testament, the glory God displayed through the cross was, by contrast, a spiritual glory (even such that Peter was allowed to imitate it – John 21: 18-19). This was what Haggai meant when he prophesied to Israel “The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former” (Haggai 2:9). That is, spiritual glory is greater than physical glory. Just so, Jesus is greater than Solomon, which is why Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees “Something greater than Solomon is here.” The final step in the progression was the arrival of the kingdom of God – a realm where the administration is by God alone through faith alone (“an administration suitable to the fullness of times” – Ephesians 1:10). Even in the New Testament, the administration of God was intermediated by the church, which was spiritual Israel replacing what physical Israel had done in the centuries before. But these were the last days of Israel, and that glory was to give way to the even greater glory of the kingdom of God.

        • Brandon E says:

          I don’t think that the Bible presents “faith alone” or “walking by faith not by sight” as our eternal condition in the sense you mean it (that is, as a total exclusion or shunning of visible or material things) any more than it presents “hope” as our eternal condition. Faith and hope are connected (Heb. 11:1; Rom. 4:18) and our hopes in His promises will be fulfilled (Heb. 10:23; 6:11, 18), including the hope of the Lord’s coming and the bodily resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6; 24:15; 26:6-8; Rom. 8:20-25). Hope will eventually turn into fulfillment, faith will eventually turned to sight (from a dark mirror to face to face), but love never falls away. Accordingly, love is the greatest among faith, hope, and love.

          • Mike Gantt says:

            Indeed, I affirm that faith, hope, and love abide – with love being the greatest of these.

            In this age, when all things are summed up in Christ (Ephesians 1:10), we have the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, and the name of Jesus. Faith, hope, and love where these three are concerned give us full access to the kingdom of God.

  13. Brandon E says:

    Under thread numbered 7 you said “And so what if they did?” to my point that the church continued to meet as one church with one church in each city until well after the first century.

    My point is, first, that you can’t say that the church is only for the first century because the church is divided today, if in fact the church continued to be one church until well after the first century.

    Second, you can’t say that moral or spiritual problems in the church today is evidence that the church is only for the first century, because severe problems existed in the first century church, as depicted in the epistles.

    Thus, the burden of proof is on you to show that the Scripture clearly indicates that the kingdom came in the first century and replaced the church, making it apostate, obsolete, and not for today.
    I don’t think you can because I don’t think it does. What you have offered thus far are the above faulty criticisms, and elaborate and long-winded explanations that are built upon so many of your peculiar assumptions.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      All of the signs prophesied by the New Testament as leading up to the coming of the Lord were testified to elsewhere in the New Testament as having been fulfilled. For example, the last five letters of the New Testament amply testify to the presence of apostasy and consequent loss of unity. That city churches existed in the 2nd Century is no sign that they enjoyed apostolic unity. They had become hierarchical by then, with each city having a bishop. This was not the case in apostolic churches.

      As to your second point, your attempt to establish moral equivalence between today’s churches and the New Testament church really does a disservice to the latter and to the facts. The apostles zealously sought in the church 1) unity, 2) doctrinal purity, 3) freedom from sin, and 4) gatherings administered by the Holy Spirit. As I’ve point out to you before, no church today can pursue ecumenism without sacrificing doctrinal purity, and, conversely, no church can pursue doctrinal purity without sacrificing ecumenism. Moreover, pursuit of either leads to loss of church members. As for freedom from sin, what churches regularly identify sinners and expel them (as Paul directs in 1 Corinthians 5 – see also 1 Timothy 5:19-22)? And when’s the last time you attended a church service that matched Paul’s description in 1 Corinthians 12-14? Even if you can point to a church which seems to bear some resemblance to one of these characteristics, it won’t match them all. The New Testament church was unique.

      There’s nothing in the New Testament declaring that the kingdom had come. The writers just said it would. And I believe it did. Why should that make me odd?

      • Brandon E says:


        That city churches existed in the 2nd Century is no sign that they enjoyed apostolic unity.

        You mean, besides the facts that they still one church with one church in each city, were composed of churches established by the apostles, had persons were contemporaneous with the apostles who didn’t teach that the kingdom come already and replaced the church, and held the deposit of the apostolic Scriptures?


        They had become hierarchical by then, with each city having a bishop. This was not the case in apostolic churches.

        Well, this is a new issue you bring up. Why would this show that the church had been replaced by the kingdom, if the church was still meeting as one church? Did not the church have elders and deacons before–is that hierarchical to you? And why would this show that no scriptural church is theoretically possible today?

        —-
        The apostles zealously sought in the church 1) unity, 2) doctrinal purity, 3) freedom from sin, and 4) gatherings administered by the Holy Spirit.
        —-
        And so the same things were pursued well after the first century in the churches that the apostles established. And who are you to say that no churches on the earth seek freedom from sin, or that none are gathered by the Holy Spirit?

        —-
        As I’ve point out to you before, no church today can pursue ecumenism without sacrificing doctrinal purity, and, conversely, no church can pursue doctrinal purity without sacrificing ecumenism
        —-
        The early church didn’t practice ecumenicism with Gnostics, and it did practice oneness with Jewish churches that shunned Gentile believers. Even Peter, James and Paul were not always a help to the apostle Paul in the latter regard (Gal. 2:11-15).

        I’ve already asked you a few times, but I have yet to see an answer: if a group of believers in a city dropped all their doctrinal differences that divide genuine Christians and attempted to meet together, but most insisted upon meeting separately, would that show that there is no scriptural church in that city, or only that those who insisted upon meeting separately are wrong?

        —-
        Even if you can point to a church which seems to bear some resemblance to one of these characteristics, it won’t match them all. The New Testament church was unique.
        —-
        And as I said, you don’t know the entire world situation. But I’m not answering this question because I don’t feel that you’re genuinely seeking anyway. You dogmatically assert that the kingdom replaced the church in the first century, precluding the possibility of a genuine church, and you seem to have had some negative experiences with “church” in the past that is coloring your interpretation of the Bible and reality.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          “[I]f a group of believers in a city dropped all their doctrinal differences that divide genuine Christians and attempted to meet together, but most insisted upon meeting separately, would that show that there is no scriptural church in that city, or only that those who insisted upon meeting separately are wrong?”

          Both.

          • Brandon E says:

            Alright, thanks for answering, but I would question the validity of your position.

            First, whether something is scriptural or not does not depend upon how many people obey it but whether God desires it. God desires that we seek Him in Christ, but not everyone does this. Even while the apostle Paul was alive he wrote, “For I have no one like-souled who will genuinely care for what concerns you;/ For all seek their own things, not the things of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:20-21). God commanded no distinctions in Christ between Jews and Gentiles, but the churches often failed in this regard, and even Peter, Barnabas, and James were not always a help to Paul in this (Gal. 2:11-15). The fact that not everybody–even most everybody–does not do something that God desires or commands does not mean that God is no longer behind it or that He no longer is concerned for it.

            Second, does the Scripture say that everyone must practice the church correctly for there to be the church? In the Old Testament, even after Israel divided into two kingdom and rival worship centers were set up, God’s people were still His people and the Lord still had and desired the temple. Even after the temple was destroyed and Israel entered into Babylonian captivity, God still called a remnant back to Israel to rebuild the temple. If Christendom has entered into Babylonian captivity, would that show that God no longer testifies a corporate people for His testimony, or would that show that He desires for at least a remnant to leave Babylon and rebuild the church?

            Third, I would refer you back to what already said about the church continuing to meet as one church well after the first century. On what grounds do you say that the church, the Body of Christ as His corporate expression, was replaced by the kingdom in the first century? Does the Scripture say that? How does the church having bishops prove that God no longer desires the church as His corporate expression?

            • Mike Gantt says:

              There were indeed problems in the New Testament church, including the ones you mentioned. The difference, however, was that such problems were dealt with and solved for the sake of church unity, purity of doctrine, and freedom from sin. Today’s churches, which are man-made, do not solve these problems and achieve these ends.

              There was an apostasy in the New Testament church, prophesied by Jesus, which led to situations like the one you described wherein Paul was depleted of faithful co-workers. Even the apostle John, who should have been venerated highly especially in the late first century, was having his words rejected by a character named Diotrephes (3 John 1:9-10). Thus the apostasy was the season in which the wheat and tares ripened for harvest – the sickle was ready to be swung (Revelation 14).

              While it’s true that everyone doesn’t have to obey the Lord for you or me or some other individual to obey the Lord, it’s also true that 1 Corinthians 1:10 Hebrews 10:23-25 were directives to the whole church. If there are some faithful few who are obeying these instructions, please tell us where they are. Do you meet with them?

      • Brandon E says:


        There’s nothing in the New Testament declaring that the kingdom had come. The writers just said it would. And I believe it did. Why should that make me odd?

        I do think that the combination of a literal understanding of “generation” and “soon” (in terms of time in human calculation) and a radical dualism between invisible/visible, spirit/body, heaven/earth is rather odd, especially when it results in the conclusion that the kingdom has replaced the church, there being no distinction today between the church and the world, all people “going to heaven” forever when they die apart from a bodily resurrection, etc., plus the claim that only this is apostolic, and everyone who thinks otherwise is too un-spiritual or dependent upon tradition rather than Scripture to see it. That’s why only you have this theological framework you’ve constructed. Most people who take “generation” and “soon” literally go only as far as partial preterism, holding that the Lord manifested His kingdom with His judgment during the destruction of Jerusalem but that His full parousia and associated bodily resurrection of the dead has yet to take place.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          So you think I’m odd for believing the New Testament promise that the coming of the Lord was imminent. I can live with that.

          • Brandon E says:

            If only that was what I said!

            • Mike Gantt says:

              It is the logical conclusion of what you’ve said.

              Surely you cannot believe that I am odd for believing that there was an expectation for the coming of the Lord in New Testament times. Many, many scholars believe that. Second Temple Judaism, from which the movement of Jesus arose, was characterized by apocalyptic sensibilities and eschatological expectation. I’m only saying that I believe that this expectation was well founded and that the Lord was faithful to fulfill it. That must be the part you think is odd.

              Of course, odd to you means that a lot of people don’t say they believe it. To which I respond, “Why should that matter?”

              • Brandon E says:

                —-
                It is the logical conclusion of what you’ve said. Surely you cannot believe that I am odd for believing that there was an expectation for the coming of the Lord in New Testament times.
                —-
                I also believe that there was such an expectation. Whether all that they were expecting (such as the Lord’s bodily appearing, the bodily resurrection of the dead, the end of the present world system, etc.) happened in the first century, and if the literal timing of all of it was definite revealed knowledge, is what we’re discussing.
                —-
                Many, many scholars believe that. Second Temple Judaism, from which the movement of Jesus arose, was characterized by apocalyptic sensibilities and eschatological expectation. I’m only saying that I believe that this expectation was well founded and that the Lord was faithful to fulfill it. That must be the part you think is odd.
                —-
                That’s not the part I think is odd. NT Wright, for example, is a student of second temple Judaism who believes that many of the Lord’s “this generation” promises refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.. However, he is definite that both second temple Jews and the early Christians expected a visible, bodily resurrection of the dead as part of their full hope.
                http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_BR_Resurrection.htm
                http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Historical_Problem.htm

                I’m not saying that each and every aspect of your views are odd in themselves. What I’m saying is odd is all your views held in combination and mutually influencing one another such that you come to the conclusion that the Lord has completely “come again,” the resurrection of the dead has already taken place, the kingdom not only completely came but replaced the church in the first century, the Father “becoming” the Son and ceasing to be the Father and then becoming God and coming again as the Father on the day of the Lord, etc. and you claiming that this combination–for which it is hard to name any other person or group as holding–is the apostolic teaching as confirmed to you by the Holy Spirit.

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  I believe that the Lord has “completely come again” because the Scriptures offer no “two-part coming” scenario. He either comes again or He hasn’t. The New Testament documents are uniform in 1) their expectation that He will come again soon 2) their lack of testimony that said event had occurred.

                  The coming of the Lord is presented as a discrete event. It has either occurred or it hasn’t. I believe it has. And just when it was promised.

                  A woman is either pregnant or she is not. The day of the Lord has either come or it has not.

  14. Brandon E says:

    Under point 6, you wrote:
    In Luke 17:20-21, the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming. Jesus replied that it was not coming with signs to be observed. Given this, why do you continue to insist that the coming of the kingdom must be observed?

    In a certain sense, the kingdom is mysterious and invisible, because it is Christ’s presence with His ruling and reigning in its various degrees and stages. Therefore the kingdom was “in their midst” (because Jesus was in their midst) as He was standing before them, before His second coming. When He cast out demons by the Spirit of God He said, “the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12:28; Luke 11:20) even before His second coming. The kingdom was already the Sower sowing the seed of His word into the soil of the human heart (Matt. 13) even before His second coming. In all this, they couldn’t see all the mysterious and invisible realities that were taking place; nevertheless, people visibly saw Jesus standing in their midst, Him casting out demons, Him speaking His word, which the Lord said was the kingdom in their midst and come upon them. The realities of the kingdom can be mysterious and invisible, even if the events and activities associated with it are visible and apparent.

    If we’re talking about Christ’s second coming and the events associated with the consummation of the age, I believe it will be public, visible, and apparent for a variety of reasons. For instance, that He has a visible body in resurrection, that He will return in the same way upon the clouds as He was beheld visibly ascending bodily into the cloud unto heaven, that His coming is associated with the bodily resurrection of the dead and our (visible) bodies being transfigured unto His (visible) body of glory, that every eye and every tribe of the land will behold Him (not just a spiritual minority) once the nations are gathered before Him and cast away from His presence into “eternal fire” /”eternal destruction” or appointed to eternal life, etc.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      I agree with you that when Jesus told the Pharisees in that passage that the kingdom of God was in their midst He was referring to Himself. However, I’m still left having to believe Jesus who said the kingdom would come without signs to observed rather than you saying it will be observed.

      • Brandon E says:

        Well, you can’t press the kingdom coming without signs to be observed too far, because you’d have to agree that the events associated with destruction of Jerusalem was an observable sign.

          • Brandon E says:

            But would make everyone who does not agree with you an unbelieving person, or a not-seeking-the-kingdom-enough person?

            As I said, I believe that the Lord here is emphasizing the invisible, spiritual reality of the kingdom. His emphasis here was that the kingdom of God was already in their midst (Luke 17:21). The kingdom was already in their midst; they could observe Jesus, but not the spiritual reality of the kingdom. Casting out demons by the Spirit of God was the kingdom of God already come upon them; they could observe that a demon was cast out, but could not see the invisible realities that were taking place. Neither of those exercises of the kingdom–the Lord, the kingdom Himself, walking on earth; Him casting out demons with authority–was without observable events, yet the spiritual reality of the kingdom remains unseen. In the same way, I believe that the Scripture clearly indicates a visible, bodily coming (as a visible, bodily ascension) and resurrection of the dead, but that the spiritual reality of the kingdom taking place in those events is unseen.

            • Mike Gantt says:

              You cannot fault people for rejecting a view that most of them have never heard.

              As for the signs of the kingdom that Jesus gave, it was so His disciples could navigate life as He did – by faith in God, and not by what their eyes saw…or by what other people thought.

              • Brandon E says:

                —-
                You cannot fault people for rejecting a view that most of them have never heard.

                Throughout the centuries many have earnestly studied and interpreted the Scriptures, but which person or group has arrived at your theological view, which says, among other things, that the resurrection of the dead has already taken place and the kingdom has already come in the first century and replaced the church? Did they have some fault that prevented them from seeing what is plainly revealed in Scripture? If all these persons are not arriving at your view on their own, Mike, where do they need to hear it from? From you?

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  I don’t think we have any basis to say that I am the only one to whom God has revealed these things. I do confess that I am personally unaware of anyone else promoting these views, and you are confessing the same experience, but it’s not as though you and I can account for what over 7 billion people are thinking. How could we ever be sure, on this side of heaven, that others don’t hold these views?

                  Moreover, how can we be sure no one in the past has held these views. The Internet is a recent phenomenon in the history of humanity. If it were not for the Internet, you would not know that I hold these views. So who can say that in times past others did not hold them? I am quite confident that those saints who first experienced the coming of the kingdom knew these things – and more. I am not dissuaded from this view just because their accounts are not easily found in history. For one thing, it was a time of great tribulation. For another, those interested preserving the church would have no interested in preserving such views. Further, I am not saying there are no records. I’m just saying that I personally have not had the time and resources to search for them.

                  Consider from your own experience that these views have not been contagious with you, so that’s sure going to keep the light under a bushel for your sphere of influence.

                  You’re projecting a self-fulfilling prophecy: Not enough people believe it because not enough people believe it. How many is enough for you?

                  Consider the book of Judges, and the spiritual depths to which the people of God fell after taking the promised land. Only generations later – by the hand of Samuel, Saul, and David – did the nation return to enough strength to build Solomon’s glorious temple. Why didn’t they build the temple during the first generation after they entered Canaan? Why did they go through a spiritual depression first? You could just as well ask, why did Noah get drunk after experiencing the mighty deliverance of the flood? The spiritual progress of human beings is not always in a straight line.

                  We are all members of one body and we are each responsible for the measure of truth delivered to us. It’s not how much we know that counts, it’s how faithful we are with what we know.

                  We are told in the Scripture that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. By your logic, everything’s been revealed because only if we find a belief held by a significant quantity or quality (or both) of others should we entertain it. That eliminates any truth that has not previously been published. File away the Scriptures then, and let’s all just read books about the Bible. Reading the Bible would be dangerous because we might see something that others have not opined upon.

                  I grew up a Roman Catholic but became agnostic as a teenager. When I was in my late 20’s evangelical Christians provoked me to read the Bible. They taught me that Jesus was Lord and the Bible was the word of God. I have come to understand much since then but from these two central truths I have never wavered. And all that I have learned has only strengthened my conviction about these two foundational truths. Upon these two truths hangs everything else I believe about God and His works.

  15. Brandon E says:

    Mike, above you said:
    —-
    1) If I don’t have to be a theologian to understand the trinity, why are theologians considered the experts on the subject?
    2) Do you honestly think (I want you truly to take some time to think about this before you answer) that someone “praying over John 14:10-11 or Matthew 11:25-27″ who had never previously heard of the doctrine of the trinity would arise from that time believing that God was a trinity?
    3) Since the Holy Spirit was revealed in the Old Testament, why didn’t the Jews believe in a binity?

    —-

    1) For a variety of reasons, depending upon who you talk to. I can’t list them all, nor do I think that it’s necessary, since I don’t think anyone can fully explain God and I don’t think you need a PhD brain to see and accept what the Bible reveals about God being triune. Some people venerate PhDs, but that’s not what I’m saying. I simply quoted those theologians to show that people who have studied the history behind the usage of the words “person,” “persona,” and “hypostases,” etc. and have thoughtfully reflected over the issue have pointed out that the words aren’t defined precisely, and they don’t mean the same thing as each other or what “person” means in modern English. Hence, you don’t have to define or fully understand the words to grasp the basics of what there is to be understood concerning God being triune. To claim, as you do, that three “persons” can’t be one “being,” you’d have to know what these words meant when applied to God; but the theologians I quoted are saying that we don’t know really know what these words mean. So I’m saying that your criticism–that God cannot be “triune” because “three persons” cannot be one “being”–is misplaced, because you’re ascribing more meaning to the words than what was originally meant by them, rather than focusing on the differences in substance between your view and the view of God as “triune” (see next point).
    2) No, not from those passages alone. Other critical aspects of God being triune–such as the Father, Son, and Spirit all being God–are shown in other passages (example: http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2005/09/holy-trinity-biblical-proofs.html). But I do think they would naturally come up with the idea that the Father and Son “co-exist” (that is, when the Son exists, the Father doesn’t go away or cease to exist) and not what you claim, that the Father “became” the Son and ceased to be the Father.
    3) This is a straw man. First, since the angel of the Lord is also identified as the Lord God Himself (Exo. 3:2-6; Gen. 32:25-30; Judg. 6:11-24; 13:15-24; Zech. 1:11-12) you could just as easily ask why the Jews didn’t believe in a “trinity.” Second, the revelation in Scripture is progressive: the Jews didn’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the almighty God come in the flesh because this wasn’t as clearly revealed as it was once Jesus came and the New Testament Scriptures were written, so you can’t expect their view to match the New Testament revelation. Third, you’re overemphasizing semantics: the terms “binity” or “trinity” (which isn’t, like many of the claims you make on your blog, explicitly used in Scripture but is meant to describe what is in Scripture), instead of what is or is not actually meant by the term. As I’ve been saying, one basic thought concerning God being triune is that the Father, Son, and Spirit are all God, and that the Scripture clearly presents the Father, Son, and Spirit as distinctly “co-existing,” that is (for example) that when the Son is here, the Father and Spirit do not cease to exist or go away. And in my last comment I described how God being triune sharply differs from tri-theism (three separate Gods).

    • Mike Gantt says:

      1) But in order to avoid violating the law of noncontradiction don’t you have to show how God is three in one sense but one in another? This requires you to use more than placeholders; you have to actually name the two different senses you’re using. This is how Jesus explained the ostensibly contradictory Psalm 110:1 in Matthew 22 to the Pharisees (at least to those of us who read it retroactively in light of the resurrection of Christ): that is, the Christ was the son of David according to the flesh but the Lord of David according to the spirit by virtue of His resurrection and ascension. What are the two different senses in which you are using three and one?

      2) Thank you.

      3) I don’t understand why you call this a straw man. You’re saying that the Father, the Son, and Spirit co-exist, are yet are all God. It’s not as if two of those weren’t revealed until the New Testament. Only one was hidden from the Old Testament Jews. Since they saw both the Father and the Holy Spirit, why didn’t they see God as biune?

      • Brandon E says:

        1) —
        But in order to avoid violating the law of noncontradiction don’t you have to show how God is three in one sense but one in another?

        No, because we’re not saying that God is both one and three of the same thing at the same time and in the same sense, and because one doesn’t have to fully define or explain the words “person” or “being” to see how God being triune is more scriptural than the alternatives, such as modalism or tri-theism. The Scripture presents the Father, Son, and Spirit (three) as existing at the same time (not as the Father “becoming” the Son and ceasing to be the Father), such that the Son could even pray to, be heard by, answered by the Father while the Son was on earth. (This contradicts modalism.) Yet the Scripture also presents the Father, Son, and Spirit as always one, not as separate, independent beings or parts, such that each divine work is the work of the whole triune God inseparably and undividedly. (This contradicts tri-theism.)

        3) The Jews also knew of the angel of the Lord, who was identified as the Lord God Himself. Why didn’t they see God as “triune” then? Because, for one thing, they had yet to see Jesus who was God incarnate speaking, praying to, being heard by, answered by and indwelt by the Father. In Christ what was indefinite became more clear–He who said that we should baptize in the name (singular) of the Father, Son, and Spirit (Matt. 28:19). Words like “triune” and “trinity” came later to summarize and describe the basic understanding of the mystery that the Father, Son, and Spirit are undividedly one God and yet exist at the same time.

  16. Mike Gantt says:

    1) I acknowledge that you have not violated the law of noncontradiction if you explain how God can be three in one sense and one in another – but you haven’t done that. You’ve rejected “person” and “being” as defining the two senses (which is a distinction without a difference, so there’s nothing lost when you reject them), but you haven’t replaced those concepts with anything except the vague concept of “placeholders.” Please identify the two different senses in which God being one and three can both be true.

    As for your suggesting that trinitarianism is “more scriptural” than Modalism or Tri-theism, I don’t think that’s saying much as I don’t consider any of them scriptural.

    I should also call attention to a statement you made here which I cannot imagine that you meant to say. It is “Yet the Scripture also presents the Father, Son, and Spirit as always one, not as separate, independent beings or parts, such that each divine work is the work of the whole triune God inseparably and undividedly.” If the Scripture always presented the Father and the Son as one, there would be no arguments about God’s nature. Surely, you intended to convey something else and the sentence just got away from you.

    3) Are you evading my question intentionally? The angel of the Lord is irrelevant to this point. I’ll restate the question once again: Since two of the three [placeholder term of your choice] – the Father and the Holy Spirit – were identified in the Old Testament, then why didn’t the Jews believe that God was biune?

    • Brandon E says:

      —-
      Please identify the two different senses in which God being one and three can both be true.
      —-
      God is one in the sense that the Scripture indicates that God is one, and that the Father, Son, and Spirit are one and never separate (John 10:30; 14:10-11; 1 Cor. 3:17).

      God is three in the sense that the Scripture indicates that the Father, Son, and Spirit exist at the same time, such that the Son can even pray to, be heard by, and answered by the Father.

      Distinct, but not separate.

      —-
      As for your suggesting that trinitarianism is “more scriptural” than Modalism or Tri-theism, I don’t think that’s saying much as I don’t consider any of them scriptural.
      —-
      I said “more scriptural than the alternatives,” and then listed modalism and tri-theism as prime examples. Your own claims about God are very similar to modalism in content and I don’t think they are scriptural. You claim that Father “became” the Son and ceased to be the Father, even though the Scripture clearly indicates that when “the Word became flesh” the Father continued to be the Father and to exist at the same time as the Son.
      —-
      I should also call attention to a statement you made here which I cannot imagine that you meant to say. It is “Yet the Scripture also presents the Father, Son, and Spirit as always one, not as separate, independent beings or parts, such that each divine work is the work of the whole triune God inseparably and undividedly.” If the Scripture always presented the Father and the Son as one, there would be no arguments about God’s nature. Surely, you intended to convey something else and the sentence just got away from you.

      I do mean what I said and I’m not the first to say these things. I didn’t say, “always presents as one” but “presents as always one” (cf. John 1:18; 10:30; 14:10-11), and by that I mean intrinsically one, in the sense that the Father, Son, and Spirit are “not…separate, independent beings or parts” and that “each divine work is the work of the whole triune God inseparably and undividedly.”
      —-
      Are you evading my question intentionally? The angel of the Lord is irrelevant to this point. I’ll restate the question once again: Since two of the three [placeholder term of your choice] – the Father and the Holy Spirit – were identified in the Old Testament, then why didn’t the Jews believe that God was biune?
      —-
      I’m not “evading” your question, but dealing with it directly by pointing out how it is loaded with a false construct. The angel of the Lord who visits man even in human form (as opposed to the Father who dwells in unapproachable light, cf. 1 Tim. 6:16) is relevant at this point because the angel of the Lord is identified with the Lord God in the Old Testament (Exo. 3:2-6; Gen. 32:25-30; Judg. 6:11-24; 13:15-24; Zech. 1:11-12) just like the Spirit was. So it seems just as appropriate to ask why the Jewish people didn’t believe in a triunity instead of a biunity, especially given that the Lord Jesus spoke in Matt. 28:19 of the (grammatically singular) name of the Father, Son, and Spirit (three). And I would say that it is the same for why Jews at that time didn’t believe precisely all the things that Christians do about God and Christ and the new covenant, that is, that revelation in the Bible is progressive and the clear revelation wasn’t revealed yet, and then refer you back to my previous comment.

      • Mike Gantt says:

        Paul told Timothy “Continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that lead to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” You have been taught the Trinity by those you have trusted. It hard for you to consider those folks wrong (and, conversely, easy to consider me wrong). However, an essential part of spiritual growth is to reach a point when you can say, as did the citizens of Sychar to the woman who had told them about Jesus, “It is no longer because of what you say that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” Then you can say with Paul, “For I know whom I have believed.” That’s when you will have “extracted the precious from the worthless” (Jeremiah 15:19), for you will have “stood in the refiner’s fire” (Malachi 3:2).

        • Brandon E says:

          I came to my convictions about what the Bible reveals about God by studying the Scriptures, being quite aware of various competing views. For instance, I don’t believe (as you claim about God) that Father “became” the Son and ceased to be the Father, because the Scripture plainly indicates the opposite.

          I brought in the matter of only you seeming to have arrived at your theological framework not because I think that truth is determined by a majority vote, but because you were saying that your views–which you confess being personally unaware of anyone else promoting–are the apostolic teaching in Scripture, for they were revealed to you by the Holy Spirit, and saying that the reason why people don’t arrive at your views is because they aren’t spiritually-minded, repentant, kingdom-seeking, dependent upon Scripture instead of tradition, etc. In this locked-in kind of mentality (defining spirituality and faithfulness to Scripture according to whether one agrees with Mike Gantt who agrees with the Holy Spirit) it’s easy for self-trust to masquerade as God-trust.

          • Mike Gantt says:

            Studying the Scriptures is not like taking a multiple-choice test. The answer God wants to give might not be found among the potential answers of which we’re already aware. Remember that He promises to tell us “great and mighty things which we do not know.” Remember also that the riches of Christ are “unfathomable,” indicating that its unwise assume His depths have been plumbed and the answer is always lying in a theology textbook somewhere. This is the peril for those who care more about being orthodox than they do about being godly.

            That the Father ceased living for Himself that He might live for us as the Son is demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the death and resurrection of every human being, the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly, and every time a seed is cast into the soil so that it might become a plant (John 12:24-25). By contrast, I can’t think of a single example of two placeholders ever being one placeholder in the same place in the same time (“always presented as one”).

            Whether I am trusting in God or in myself is something of which God is acutely and fully aware. And He will judge me. Let Him do with me as seems good to Him. True humility is fearing the Lord, not man. God knows I am trusting Him, and He knows I am not smart enough to have thought of these things myself. I have experienced the faithfulness of His promise through Paul: “Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”

            My life is nothing to brag about. If you will go humbly to God, He might very well show you much more than He has shown me.

            • Brandon E says:


              Studying the Scriptures is not like taking a multiple-choice test. The answer God wants to give might not be found among the potential answers of which we’re already aware.

              I didn’t approach the Bible with the idea that I had to choose between system A, B, C, or D as if those were the only available options. I wanted to see what the Scripture said and approached the subject with an open mind.

              However, there are meaningful decisions to be made concerning opposite concepts, such the Scripture plainly describing the Father existing as Father and the Son existing as Son at the same time (and yet being one) and your false claim that the Father “became” the Son and ceased to be the Father.

              Remember also that the riches of Christ are “unfathomable,” indicating that its unwise assume His depths have been plumbed and the answer is always lying in a theology textbook somewhere.

              I agree, but we can just as easily say that since His riches are unfathomable, why should Mike Gantt, or anyone else, think that among all those who have the Bible Mike Gantt has fathomed and figured things out to the degree that anyone who disagrees with these views he’s promoting is not sufficiently spiritual or dependent upon Scripture.

              As I’ve said before, some of your crucial claims about God are very similar to ancient modalism, and Gnostics long ago (in stark contrast to early Christians and second temple Jews) believed only in an invisible “spiritual” resurrection and not a visible, bodily resurrection of the dead, etc. What you’re promoting is hardly new previously unplumbed depths of Christ. What’s “new” about your framework is the way that you assume all these dubious concepts and then combine them into one system, such that you read the Bible through the lens of this system and claim that the kingdom somehow replaces the church, and then claim this is the apostolic teaching in the Scriptures.

              This is the peril for those who care more about being orthodox than they do about being godly.

              I agree that there are persons like this; but pitting orthodoxy always against godliness is a false dichotomy. One doesn’t have to be choose between one or the other. “Orthodox” just means right thinking, and if the contents of the faith are found in the Scriptures it is no surprise that many people would arrive at the same conclusions on essential matters and teach accordingly. On the other hand, many persons who paid attention only to their concept of individual godliness ended up being exceedingly sectarian, and therefore not actually godly (Titus 3:10-11; Rom. 16:17).

              That the Father ceased living for Himself that He might live for us as the Son is demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the death and resurrection of every human being, the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly, and every time a seed is cast into the soil so that it might become a plant (John 12:24-25).

              Except that the Bible plainly indicates that the Father continues to exist at the same time as the Son, such that the Son even prays to, is heard by and answered by the Father. Similarly, when the Lord Jesus gave His life for us He didn’t cease to exist but continued to exist as Jesus and the Son.

              When a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly the caterpillar it doesn’t continue to exist as a caterpillar such that the butterfly and caterpillar could interact, and when a seed grows into a plant the seed doesn’t continue to exist as a seed such that the seed and plant could interact. You’re comparing two unlike things in an attempt to establish the very point in which they are unalike.

              By contrast, I can’t think of a single example of two placeholders ever being one placeholder in the same place in the same time (“always presented as one”).

              John 10:30 and 14:10-11.
              The Father and the Son are two [placeholder x’s] existing at the same time and yet the Father and Son are one [placeholder y] even as the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father.

  17. Mike Gantt says:

    This comment applies to this sub-thread above:

    We should think that Matthew 10:23 applies to the twelve because they are the ones to whom the text says Jesus was speaking.

    Jesus made clear that not all of the twelve would live until His coming, but that would reduce the number of people to whom Matthew 10:23 applied – not increase it.

    As for your comments about your second paragraph, I think you’re merely importing texts from other places into Matthew 24 which are really beside the point. The point was whether or not “the coming of the Lord” was a discrete event (meaning it either has or has not occurred) or whether it is a phenomenon which can be dissected into parts which occur at various times. I think Matthew 24 makes clear that the coming of the Lord is a discrete event, and that this point is confirmed throughout the New Testament.

    • Brandon E says:

      And I would say that things that not everything the Lord Jesus said to the twelve, or to His disciples, applied only to them personally. Which of the twelve was alive, seeing all the signs of the kingdom associated with 70 A.D. (such as the abomination of desolation in the temple), and fleeing about in the cities of Israel?

      Concerning the Lord’s second coming, I would simply say that His full coming in Scripture is associated with such things as a visible, bodily appearing and resurrection of the dead. This is affirmed even by the vast majority of people who believe that most of the signs in Matt. 24 were fulfilled at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. In contrast, the kingdom can come, already be here, or be manifested in different ways before that time, which is why I brought in the other passages.

      • Mike Gantt says:

        It appeared that John lived long enough to see all the signs including the final one – the apostasy (1 John 2:18), and that around that time he blew the last trumpet we know anything about (i.e. the book of Revelation). John’s extended tenure was intimated, of course, in John 21 when Peter asked about John’s fate.

        You are certainly committed to believing in a physical Second Coming, and, consequently, make all your interpretations of Scripture support that belief. Of course, this does not make you unique. But then that’s one of your other goals – to not be unique.

        As for me, I don’t particularly enjoy being unique, but I want the truth so bad I’m willing to endure being unique. That said, I don’t think I’m unique at all. And I think in due time that will become more apparent.

        As for your last sentence, your comfort with contradictory beliefs can allow you to write such a self-contradictory sentence. If it “can come” AND “already be here” then I don’t see how “can come” has any meaning. God is not a God of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33); therefore, He cannot be a God of contradiction. For what is more confusing than contradiction?

        • Brandon E says:

          But was the apostle John fleeing persecution about the cities of Israel around 70 A.D.? Was he in a position to personally and individually fulfill the instructions in Matt. 10:23? Besides, concerning the apostle John, strong historical evidence and early Christian witness suggests that Revelation was written towards the very end of the first century (at the end of Domitian’s reign, around 95 A.D.), not around 70 A.D., indicating that the things he wrote of were yet to take place even at the end of the first century when this book was written and circulated.

          My goal is not to be “not unique” but to affirm the Scriptures, which clearly describe His coming as visible and bodily just as His ascension was visible and bodily (Acts 1:9-11), and the resurrection of the dead as bodily and visible.

          My whole point about the peculiarity of your views is the circular hubris, or lack of epistemology humility, of you claiming that the theological framework is the apostolic teaching endorsed by the Spirit despite your confession that you are “personally unaware of anyone else promoting these views,” and that the reason why others don’t agree with you is that they’re not spiritually mature, not repentant, not kingdom-seeking, not as dependent upon Scripture as is needed you arrive at your views, when in fact there are many spiritual Bible-dependent teachers and martyrs, etc. who arrive at the opposite of your views. If you’re not more spiritually mature and better equipped to interpret the Scriptures than they, why be so confident that the Holy Spirit has in fact revealed all these things to you and they are lacking in the qualifies required to arrive at your views?

          As for my last sentence, it’s not contradictory to say that something can come or be here already in one sense, and not come or be here in another sense. That’s why I offered those scriptural passages which speak about the kingdom coming upon people, or people being transferred into the kingdom in the past tense, even before the kingdom was fully here.

          • Mike Gantt says:

            I am quite sure that there are many lives that please God more than mine. It is to my constant regret that I have not lived my life in a way that is fully worthy of Him. However, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t more pleasing to Him now than I used to be.

            Why I have been privileged to see what I have seen in the Scriptures before you, I cannot say. It is not my place to speculate, and it certainly does not imply any sort of superiority on my part. Peter was quicker to see some things, but he stumbled greatly. Paul was a persecutor of the church and yet was privileged to see things that staggered Peter. The purpose of receiving understanding from God is not to boast or gloat, but rather to obey and share (Deuteronomy 29:29).

            The apostles, the prophets before them, and the Lord Himself were all accused by their peers of lacking “epistemological humility.” What that really meant was that they followed God instead of the crowd. The crowd doesn’t like it when you don’t follow them.

            • Brandon E says:


              It is not my place to speculate, and it certainly does not imply any sort of superiority on my part.

              Mike, you say such things, and yet made numerous assertions that the reason why people don’t agree with you is that they are not spiritually-minded, repentant, kingdom-seeking, dependent upon Scripture instead of tradition, etc. My point is not to say that you’re outwardly boasting or gloating but that you’re subtly talking down to people, as if your views could only be arrived at through spiritual maturity, and those that disagree are just lacking some trait that you think you have.

              Just in the above sub-thread, you asserted–actually, speculated, knowing very little about my personal history–that the reason why I believe that the Bible reveals that God is triune is simply because I was taught it by people I trusted. You went on about part of spiritual maturity is seeing things for ourselves rather simply trusting what others say, strongly implying that you think that I did not or could not have arrived at my convictions through personal study of Scripture and walking with Christ. If you don’t actually feel you’re in a position to make these kinds of claims, why resort to making them?

              The apostles, the prophets before them, and the Lord Himself were all accused by their peers of lacking “epistemological humility.” What that really meant was that they followed God instead of the crowd. The crowd doesn’t like it when you don’t follow them.

              But are you the Lord Himself, an apostle, or a prophet, Mike? Are you in their position? Do you enjoy an especial, direct line to God that makes it so that when only you seem to arrive at certain views and others arrive at opposite views, it couldn’t possibly be because of their personal study of Scripture or walk with Christ and that what you think you’re obeying are simply your opinions?

              • Mike Gantt says:

                Of course, I am not the Lord, or an apostle, or a prophet. I am merely trying to imitate them. I thought we were all supposed to do that.

                As for how you arrived at trinitarian doctrine, are you seriously asking me to believe that you had never heard of the trinity and came to that view solely through reading the Scriptures? If you are, I will give that claim serious consideration…but until you claim it, that’s just not logical to assume.

                • Brandon E says:

                  —-
                  Of course, I am not the Lord, or an apostle, or a prophet. I am merely trying to imitate them. I thought we were all supposed to do that.

                  We can’t imitate them in every way, since we’re not the Son of God, a prophet, or an apostle, with their position, capacity or function. The Lord Jesus was one with the Father, and the apostles and prophets were God’s unique channels through which He revealed new, divine revelation, and hence they were in a special position to know certain things.

                  When you circularly define with your views as the apostolic, spiritual, utterly Scripturally-dependent teaching endorsed by the Spirit, and discount disagreement with your views as a lack of spirituality and dependence upon Scripture–even though you are personally unaware of anyone else promoting your views, and many spiritual Christians, earnest students of the Bible, and martyrs had convictions that contradict yours and yet are shared almost universally among Christians–you are treating yourself as more like an apostle or prophet than others. What better, higher, or more privileged position are you in to know better than they?
                  —-
                  As for how you arrived at trinitarian doctrine, are you seriously asking me to believe that you had never heard of the trinity and came to that view solely through reading the Scriptures? If you are, I will give that claim serious consideration…but until you claim it, that’s just not logical to assume.
                  —-
                  You said you grew up in Roman Catholicism. Did you never hear that Jesus is the Messiah, or that in His incarnation He is both God and man, before you saw it for yourself in Scripture? People, yourself included, come up with extra-biblical words and concepts to describe or explain the facts presented in Scripture, but just because the basic fact in Scripture is so ubiquitous doesn’t mean that you didn’t see it for yourself in the Scriptures.

                  In kind, I’m saying that the basic facts of God being triune (in some sense three and in some sense one at the same time, according to the biblical revelation), especially those which contradict your claims about God, are right there in Scripture to be seen for oneself. See my answer to you here: http://blogforthelordjesuscurrentevents.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/response-to-brandon/#comment-2787

                  Words like “persons,” “being,” “triune” and “trinity” are shorthand descriptions of those facts. That the facts are plain such that the idea of God being triune is common among Christians (like many other things concerning God, Christ, the gospel, etc.) doesn’t mean that I and everybody didn’t see it for themselves through personal study of the Scriptures. I was aware of the general concept of trinity and I was aware of your kind of claims about God and I was aware of a lot of beliefs about Christ and the gospel before I really began to study these things for myself in the Bible. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t come to my own convictions through personal study of the Scriptures and ongoing relationship with Christ.

                  • Mike Gantt says:

                    Though you’ve denied it elsewhere, it’s impossible to read a comment like this without concluding that you view truth as that which is proclaimed by the largest percentage of Christians. This kind of thinking can be described, among other things, as “a mind set on the flesh.”

                    • Brandon E says:

                      …it’s impossible to read a comment like this without concluding that you view truth as that which is proclaimed by the largest percentage of Christians.

                      How so?

                      I think that what I have suggested is that since many so seeking Christians love the Bible, but only you seem to arrive at your framework, and yet you claim that your teaching is the apostolic teaching against all others, what would make you in any way more qualified to interpret the Scriptures correctly, or in a better position to discern your private opinions and interpretations from the Spirit’s revelation? Stated another way, if the teaching of the apostles is in the Bible, which was given not just to you, why is that only you seem to arrive at your framework? Is everybody else not as Scriptural-dependent and spiritually-mature as you? Of course, you’ve suggested as much by saying that the reason why others don’t agree with you on so many issues is that they aren’t spiritually-minded, repentant, kingdom-seeking, dependent upon Scripture instead of tradition, etc., which discounts a lot of.others’ spiritual experience. So I’m not saying that truth is determined by a majority vote, but asking who does this sect of one think he is?

                    • Mike Gantt says:

                      You said at least a couple of times that you don’t believe truth is determined by majority vote, and yet you also make statements calling attention to how few adherents you think my point of view has. Don’t you see that you are thus double-minded on this issue?

                      As for who I am, think of me as one of the four lepers who brought good news to Israel after they had stumbled upon it. Or you can just think of a voice in the wilderness. What matters is not who speaks the truth, but rather of whom the truth speaks.

  18. Brandon E says:

    In response to this sub-thread above:
    http://blogforthelordjesuscurrentevents.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/response-to-brandon/#comment-2801
    —-
    You said at least a couple of times that you don’t believe truth is determined by majority vote, and yet you also make statements calling attention to how few adherents you think my point of view has. Don’t you see that you are thus double-minded on this issue?

    It’s not double-mindedness, because one does not have to think that the majority is always or usually right to see that 1) the truth being in the Bible but 2) only one person seeming to arrive at the correct interpretation, and 3) that person’s explanation for this phenomena being that those that disagree with him are not kingdom-seeking, not spiritually-mature, not repentant, not scripturally-dependent, and not “ready” for the truth, is a highly problematic and doubtful state of affairs. If we both agree that you are not the Son of God, an apostle, or a prophet especially chosen by God to speak forth new revelation that others do not have immediate access to, how shall we account for this situation? I think that your explanation–that those people who read the Bible and yet do not arrive at your views do not do so because they are not spiritual, not repentant, not kingdom-seeking, not scripturally-dependent, not ready for the “truth”–and your readiness to believe such a thing may indicate that you think too highly of yourself (Rom. 12:3, 16) and indeed consider yourself more faithful and trustworthy than others, not in an outward, bragging way, but in a deep, subtle way.

    —-
    As for who I am, think of me as one of the four lepers who brought good news to Israel after they had stumbled upon it. Or you can just think of a voice in the wilderness. What matters is not who speaks the truth, but rather of whom the truth speaks.
    —-
    But many persons claim to minister according to the Scriptures and Christ, including persons who have arrived at the same conclusions that contradict yours as well as those who think that they alone have the truth but whose “truth” contradicts yours on many crucial points. What makes you a leper bringing good news or “a voice in the the wilderness” but not them?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      I am claiming that Jesus Christ is true, that He has kept His promises to us. You are perverting that message to make it seem as if I am making a claim about my own spiritual state vis-a-vis that of others. I make no claims about myself except that I am telling the truth and am not lying. Jesus Christ is true!

      I am not the first or only person to say that Jesus Christ is true (Christians, generally speaking, say the same). I am not the first or only person to say that everyone is going to heaven (otherwise there wouldn’t be universalism). I am not the first or only person to say that the kingdom of God came in the first century (otherwise there’d be no preterism). I’m not the first or only person to say that trinity doctrine is false (otherwise there’d be no unitarianism). You yourself have said my views are similar to heresies you have heard before. Thus, in many ways, I am not unique at all.

      As I’ve said before, however, I’m not seeking to be unique or not unique – rather, I’m seeking to be faithful.

      • Brandon E says:

        Mike, “unitarians” typically don’t even believe that Jesus was or is God, hence it is no surprise that such persons would reject trinitarianism. Other persons who claim that Jesus is “God” and yet reject that God is triune, wind up with two or three separate beings called “God” or other things that contradict scripture, such as your modalistic claim that the Father “became” the Son and ceased to be the Father. Your concept of universalism, and attempt to base it upon Scripture, is specifically linked to your rejection of a visible, bodily resurrection of the dead. And it was the Gnostics who rejected a visible, bodily resurrection of the dead, while early Christians (like second temple Jews) believed and expected it, having been witnesses to the Lord Jesus’ bodily resurrection that left behind an empty tomb. Accordingly, the vast majority of preterists are “partial” preterists (holding that much of what is covered in the Olivet discourse was fulfilled in the first century, but the Lord’s full coming again and the bodily resurrection of the dead has yet to take place, and hence the new covenant is still being fulfilled). In these aspects, yes, you aren’t unique at all; your company is with people whose ideas have been widely rejected by believers in Christ, and for good reasons.

        What I suggested makes you “unique” is what I said in a previous comment:
        “What’s ‘new’ about your framework is the way that you assume all these dubious concepts and then combine them into one system, such that you read the Bible through the lens of this system and claim that the kingdom somehow replaces the church, and then claim this is the apostolic teaching in the Scriptures.”

        In another comment in this post you said: “I do confess that I am personally unaware of anyone else promoting these views, and you are confessing the same experience…”

        And the reasons or explanations you’ve provided (at TGC, in other comments in other posts on your blog, in comments in this post) to account for this strange state of affairs where only you seemingly arrive at the apostolic teaching in Scripture is that others aren’t seeking the kingdom, aren’t spiritually-minded, haven’t repented, don’t depend upon Scripture instead of tradition, aren’t ready to accept the “truth,” etc. It was always: I proclaim only the apostles teaching, and if others don’t accept the “bread” that the Lord has given to me, the problem lies with them. It was never: Well, maybe I’m mistaken. Maybe others besides me do love the Lord Jesus and trust the Lord to guide their reading of Scriptures and they tend not to arrive at the same of conclusions that I do. In fact, as far as I know I’m the only one promoting these views. Since I have no special reason to trust my spirituality, insight, or ability to interpret Scriptures over and against many Christians that could be named, it really might be the case that I’m mistaken.

        If it really were the case that you were mistaken about these things, Mike, it wouldn’t mean that the Lord Jesus wasn’t trustworthy, as He if had promised to you but not to others that He would guide you to theological correctness on each of these points. It would just mean that He’s not specifically in the theological system you’ve created, and that one can enjoy Him and live in His presence without it.

          • Brandon E says:

            Mike, please. My faith is in Christ Jesus.

            Would you really have us believe that if a person finds it far-fetched that 1) apostolic truth is in the Bible and many people trust the Lord to guide their reading of it, and yet 2) only you seem to arrive at your views, which you claim is the apostolic truth, and 3) your explanation for this is that everyone who disagrees with you just isn’t seeking the kingdom, isn’t spiritual, isn’t dependent upon Scripture, and isn’t “ready” for the truth, this means that person’s faith is “clearly” in Christians instead of Christ?

            All the while, I’ve been reasoning with you from Scripture. The Bible reveals the Father and Son existing simultaneously (not what you claim, that Father “became” the Son and ceased to the Father). The Bible reveals that Jesus Christ has a visible body in resurrection and that He will come again upon the clouds of heaven to the mount of Olives in the same way as He was beheld ascending (visibly and bodily) into a cloud unto heaven from the mount of OIives, and that our mortal bodies will be redeemed and transfigured unto His. Etc.

            The reason why many followers of Christ would widely arrive at the same positions based upon Scripture, but that only you would be promoting your views, isn’t that everybody else is trusting themselves instead of Christ, but that you’re trusting yourself along with your very particular ways of reasoning about things too much, and mistaking it for trusting Jesus Christ.

            • Mike Gantt says:

              Brandon, I agree that your faith is nominally in Christ. I’m just trying to help you see that at certain points, you are actually trusting in people rather than in Him. For example, in your second paragraph which begins “Would you really…” your basis for determining truth is, contrary to your protestations, based on majority vote. It just seems far-fetched to you that some guy you never heard of should be sharing these things on the Internet. Jesus taught us to know truth by the Holy Spirit revealing it to the human heart through conscience. If 100 million people tomorrow started proclaiming what I am proclaiming, it would not make these truths any more true than the are today.

              I am not smart enough to have thought of the truths that I proclaim (including Everyone Is Going to Heaven and Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again). Only because the Lord was kind and generous enough to share them with me would I know anything about them. He will show these same things – and more – to anyone who turns to Him. I am not special.

              The Greatest Story Ever Told…or the Greatest Story Never Fully Told?

              • Brandon E says:

                —-
                Brandon, I agree that your faith is nominally in Christ. I’m just trying to help you see that at certain points, you are actually trusting in people rather than in Him.
                —-
                Mike, this is silly. My faith is not only in Christ nominally but actually, and I have consistently based my positions on Scripture and attempted to reason with you from Scripture on crucial points.

                For example, you reject the plain revelation in the Scripture that the Father and Son exist at the same time (and yet are one) and replace it with inept analogies to say the opposite of Scripture.
                http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/six-objections-to-the-trinity-%E2%80%93-4-of-6/#comment-4639
                http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/six-objections-to-the-trinity-%E2%80%93-3-of-6/#comment-4617

                I’ve also shown from Scripture why we should believe that there will be a visible, bodily coming of the Lord Jesus and an associated bodily resurrection of the dead, and why your claim that it is fleshly and unspiritual to believe it so is based on an unscriptural and false dichotomy of yours (a view that shares more with Gnosticism and Neoplatonist philosophy on this point than it does with internal Scriptural evidence, early Christian belief or second temple Judaism):
                http://blogforthelordjesuschristianleaders.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/why-is-jesus-called-son-god-and-father/#comment-1145
                http://blogforthelordjesuschristianleaders.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/communion-is-obsolete/#comment-1146

                I can’t recommend anything better than focusing on Christ and the Scriptures. But the reason why only you seem to arrive at your framework is that you cling so strongly on your own peculiar reasonings about things, even if they are inappropriate analogies or false dichotomies. Hence it is no surprise that only you would would arrive at your views and promote them as if they are the truth above all others.

                My point about only you arriving at and promoting your views is that your explanation of this phenomena is circular in a way that places yourself above others, as more right, more dependent upon Scripture, and more spiritually-attuned over and against anybody else by definition. My point doesn’t require a majority as opposed to a minority to be right. (Assuming that you and I both being aware of only you believing and promoting your views were held constant, the problems of your position would still be evident regardless of what beliefs were held in majority or minority.)

                You have been claiming that the reason why only you seem to think that your framework is the apostolic teaching in Scripture is that those who disagree with you are not kingdom-seeking, not repentant, not spiritually-minded, not dependent upon Scripture, not ready for the “truth,” and now (!) trusting Christians instead of Christ.

                But all those people who had the Bible and yet did not arrive at your framework would include many followers of Christ, notable teachers, evangelists, and martyrs, etc. And how would you know such things about those persons, unless you are right? And how would you know that you are right, without assuming that all these persons lack these traits and you don’t, such that when you interpret the Scriptures you’re right, but when they read the Scriptures they’re not trusting the Lord or depending upon Scripture? When you mean to trust the Lord to reveal the meaning of the Scriptures to you, the views you come up is apostolic teaching to be asserted dogmatically; when others trust the Lord to guide their reading of Scriptures and yet don’t arrive at your views, their spirituality doesn’t count. Can you see the problem, how your mindset loads everything such that you cannot but end up right and discount other’s faithfulness or spirituality if they disagree with you, and feel no qualms about it?

                I don’t find it far-fetched or incredible that someone on the Internet believes that he has the truth, and is unaware of anyone else promoting his views. People say all sorts of crazy things on the Internet all the time. What I’m saying is find far-fetched is your explanation for the phenomena of only you arriving at and promote your views, in that it places yourself on higher ground by circular definition.

                You’re not the first or only one to claim to have arrived at the truth (revealed in Scripture or elsewhere) or to not be “smart enough” to come up with these things on their own (as if that were any proof of divine origin), but the “Truth” proclaimed by such persons differs from person to person. I’m suggesting that if you happen to be one of those who are mistaken, your mental framework which is so peculiar to you makes it nigh-impossible for you to willingly discover it.

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  You are nullifying the promises of God (e.g. Jeremiah 33:3) by saying that unless a truth has been cataloged into the church’s books of theology, it cannot be true.

                  I don’t know why you bother reading the Scriptures, for if you learn anything from them that you cannot corroborate by some textbook of Christian theology then you will not believe it. Why not just study the textbooks of Christian theology and dispense with reading the Scriptures? It would save you time.

                • Brandon E says:

                  Mike, Jeremiah 33:3 was spoken to the prophet Jeremiah (v. 1), and it was concerning the prophetic revelation given to him, not the interpretation of the canon of Scripture common to believers in Christ in which the apostolic teaching is found. Inasmuch as such a word would apply to us today in a limited sense, you have no especial claim to the promise over and against anybody else, since we both agree that you are not a prophet or an apostle or the Son of God or otherwise a bearer of new revelation.

                  I’m not saying that “unless a truth has been cataloged into the church’s books of theology, it cannot be true.” I’m saying that if many spiritual, Christ-seeking, Bible-believing Christians have Scriptural reasons for believing contrary to your “hidden things” that you think are from God, you could stand to have more epistemological humility about it without making all these kinds of presumptuous assertions about their spirituality to explain it all, as if you are the unbiased one. Especially since your theological system depends upon so many dubious assertions, weak analogies, and false dichotomies controverted by Scripture, as previously mentioned, combined uniquely in your mentality.

                  I don’t know why you bother reading the Scriptures, for if you learn anything from them that you cannot corroborate by some textbook of Christian theology then you will not believe it. Why not just study the textbooks of Christian theology and dispense with reading the Scriptures? It would save you time

                  As noted above, this is a misrepresentation of what I said. I’ve said elsewhere that even if some extra-scriptural writings are an accurate summary or description of some truth in the Bible, I believe that we should still read the Bible to see for ourselves what it says in the way it says it. But even more, I believe that the pure words of the Bible should be read for spiritual nourishment through means of all prayer to know Christ in His word personally (Matt 4:4; John 6:63; 1 Pet. 2:2-3; Col. 3:16; Eph. 6:17-18), not simply for acquiring more head knowledge and information as your reasoning above would have it.

                  • Mike Gantt says:

                    Even if you don’t share Paul’s view that all the promises of God are ours through Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20), your view would still put the Holy Spirit into retirement since there is nothing new He’d be allowed to reveal to this generation that He hadn’t already revealed to a prior one.

                    And there are you again with your “truth is best determined by majority vote” mentality. “The fear of man brings a snare but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” – Proverbs 29:25

                    I believe we should search the Scriptures to mine the unfathomable riches of Christ. Your purpose, while not unwholesome, seems far more limited.

                    As for your false accusation that I encourage head knowledge instead of the true knowledge of trusting and obeying Him, it is beneath your dignity.

                  • Brandon E says:

                    —-
                    Even if you don’t share Paul’s view that all the promises of God are ours through Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20), your view would still put the Holy Spirit into retirement since there is nothing new He’d be allowed to reveal to this generation that He hadn’t already revealed to a prior one. And there are you again with your “truth is best determined by majority vote” mentality. “The fear of man brings a snare but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” – Proverbs 29:25

                    I didn’t say that there’s nothing more to be discovered (for the whole church or for individuals) or that truth is best determined by majority vote. I accept that the minority can have the truth and believe it is the case on many points. But you’re having a hard time seeing that even if a minority actually believed the truth on certain matters and the majority was wrong, if you individually came up with a something that that contradicted what both a minority and majority believed on many points, your specific mentality (with your specific explanation for why only you arrive at your system of theology that you present as the apostolic teaching) would set yourself up as more trusting of the Lord and more spiritual than them all by definition, such that if you “see” something it’s because you’re trusting and spiritual but if they see something that disagrees with you it doesn’t count. This isn’t to trust the Lord, but to accept little distinction between self-trust and God-trust, to make the issue always everybody else versus God and you, without accepting that your conscience is not a priori more reliable than others (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 12:3-5; 1 Cor. 12:12-22). In short, instead of trusting men it is to trust one man, the self and its ways, as if it were better suited than all others to arrive at the truth about God.

                    I believe we should search the Scriptures to mine the unfathomable riches of Christ. Your purpose, while not unwholesome, seems far more limited.

                    I also believe we should search the Scriptures to mine the unfathomable riches of Christ. However, if your findings contradict the riches that others have discovered in the Scripture, you should at least have some epistemological humility about it before you accuse everyone else of not being spiritual, kingdom-seeking or faithful to the Scriptures.
                    —-
                    As for your false accusation that I encourage head knowledge instead of the true knowledge of trusting and obeying Him, it is beneath your dignity.
                    —-
                    Mike, I didn’t accuse you of encouraging head knowledge. I indicated that your reasoning that I should have no reason to read the Scriptures if I thought that everything was in theology “textbooks” (which was not true in the first place) was invalid, since the point of reading the Scriptures isn’t to find the kind of knowledge that exists in “textbooks of Christian theology” anyway.

  19. Mike Gantt says:

    So, you think that the minority can have truth that the majority does not have…as long as the minority consists of more than one. If this is the case, shouldn’t everyone refrain from reading the Scriptures unless they are doing so as part of a group? And what about meditation of the Scriptures – how could that ever be practiced since by definition it is an individual activity?

    Not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think is always good advice. I certainly don’t think I am better than any other human being, and I have ample reason to believe I am worse than many. But is speaking confidently on behalf of God a sign of arrogance? Weren’t both Moses and Jesus called humble – and whoever spoke more confidently and more expansively about God than those two?

    There are many people in the world who have never heard the things I proclaim. How could they be considered wrong for rejecting something they haven’t heard? You, however, have heard. So if I am saying that anyone is not being spiritual enough, kingdom-seeking enough, or faithful enough to the Scriptures it is you – not others who haven’t even heard these things, much less had them explained and defended at length.

    Nevertheless, I think you are a seeker of truth. I just think an undue fear of the opinions of men is holding you back. Whether there are sins that grip you, I cannot say. I can say, however, that nothing opens up the Scriptures for those who study them like a life of wholesale continual repentance toward God.

    I am glad that you are not interested in head knowledge, but rather in true knowledge. May we all seek to know Him with the passion Paul sought to know Him (Philippians 3; Colossians 2:2; 3:10; 2 Peter 1:3,8).

    • Brandon E says:


      So, you think that the minority can have truth that the majority does not have…as long as the minority consists of more than one. If this is the case, shouldn’t everyone refrain from reading the Scriptures unless they are doing so as part of a group? And what about meditation of the Scriptures – how could that ever be practiced since by definition it is an individual activity?

      Why should the two–study in private and in community–be mutually exclusive? Since the primary purpose of the Scriptures is not to build new systems of correct knowledge but that the unsearchable riches of Christ revealed in the Scriptures would become real, fresh, living, and powerful to us and in us that we would grow in Him in all things, I don’t see why one should exclude the other. If we compare mining the unsearchable riches of Christ to many people harvesting the various rich produce from the good land of Canaan for all to enjoy, it is better that everyone do it and cooperate even though each individual also personally tends to their own work.

      And there are plenty of ways to meditate on Scripture in community, to thoroughly “chew the cud,” though the mode differs accordingly. See Col. 3:16 or 1 Cor. 14:26. It can also be very pleasant and edifying to pray over Scripture with a spiritual companion.
      —-
      Not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think is always good advice. I certainly don’t think I am better than any other human being, and I have ample reason to believe I am worse than many. But is speaking confidently on behalf of God a sign of arrogance? Weren’t both Moses and Jesus called humble – and whoever spoke more confidently and more expansively about God than those two?
      —-
      But Mike, you’re not Moses, Jesus, an apostle, or a prophet. On this we agree. You don’t have their especial calling, position, high-ground, or commission to know, define, and articulate divine truths. That you compare your ordeal and not others’ to theirs, and assume a “knowing” tone and proclaim things about anyone who might disagree with you, is an indication that if you are mistaken you do think very highly of yourself and your measure and portion than you ought to think and less of others, not in an outward bragging way but in a subtle way. The main reason why you don’t consider it so is that you already think that you of all people are absolutely right on all these points.

      There are many people in the world who have never heard the things I proclaim. How could they be considered wrong for rejecting something they haven’t heard? You, however, have heard. So if I am saying that anyone is not being spiritual enough, kingdom-seeking enough, or faithful enough to the Scriptures it is you – not others who haven’t even heard these things, much less had them explained and defended at length.

      Many have heard and rejected points critical to your system–such as your claims that God is not triune (even that this is an antichrist doctrine), that it is fleshly and wrong to believe that the Bible reveals a literal, bodily second coming and resurrection of the dead, that the church is not for today. Are you more spiritual and repentant than all of them? As I’ve been saying, your “uniqueness” consists to the way you lay one extreme position upon another and arrange them into one system from which to draw other conclusions that depend upon the system, and then claim it is all the apostolic truth.

      Nevertheless, I think you are a seeker of truth. I just think an undue fear of the opinions of men is holding you back. Whether there are sins that grip you, I cannot say. I can say, however, that nothing opens up the Scriptures for those who study them like a life of wholesale continual repentance toward God.

      Read: Mike Gantt continually wholly repents, but others who haven’t arrived at his views have so much more repenting to do! If two or more agree but disagree with Mike Gantt it’s because they fear man instead of God. It couldn’t possibly be that others arrived at views that contradict what Mike Gantt is saying by repenting, seeking Christ, earnestly studying the Scriptures, and through genuine spiritual conviction.

      I am glad that you are not interested in head knowledge, but rather in true knowledge. May we all seek to know Him with the passion Paul sought to know Him (Philippians 3; Colossians 2:2; 3:10; 2 Peter 1:3,8).

      On your last statement we can agree! 🙂

  20. Mike Gantt says:

    If we compare mining the unsearchable riches of Christ to many people harvesting the various rich produce from the good land of Canaan for all to enjoy, it is better that everyone do it and cooperate even though each individual also personally tends to their own work.

    I am practicing the very behavior you are encouraging, but you are not accepting the rich produce I am offering you. That is your prerogative, but don’t say that I’m not acting in community.

    I believe the community is important, but I don’t believe the community should rule. Rather, God should.

    But Mike, you’re not Moses, Jesus, an apostle, or a prophet. On this we agree. You don’t have their especial calling, position, high-ground, or commission to know, define, and articulate divine truths.

    You don’t believe in “the priesthood of all believers” as proclaimed in the Protestant Reformation? You don’t believe in less honorable members of the body being able to contribute revelation according to 1 Corinthians 12-14? You don’t believe Jesus when He said that though John the Baptist was the greatest of all the prophets that the least in the kingdom was greater than he?

    Many have heard and rejected…

    No truth has ever received universal acceptance in the earth. In fact, Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you.”

    You portray me as thinking I am greater than others who have not had such truths revealed to them. By this logic, you would portray Peter as thinking he was greater than Moses because he received greater revelation than Moses did. Each generation is held accountable for the revelation it receives. The idea is for us as a human race – that is, in community – to expand the light (i.e. the revelation) of God in the earth, generation after generation. The cumulative effect of this sharing will be that the knowledge of the Lord eventually fills the entire earth. Along the way we will encounter resistance from brothers and sisters who think we’re wrong – but we must love them enough to endure their censure and keep holding high the torch of truth.

    • Brandon E says:


      I am practicing the very behavior you are encouraging, but you are not accepting the rich produce I am offering you. That is your prerogative, but don’t say that I’m not acting in community.

      I believe the community is important, but I don’t believe the community should rule. Rather, God should.

      Mike, the problem is that your system and the “produce” you derive from it contradicts so many others’ portions on many points crucial to your system, yet you claim that yours is the apostolic truth, that yours and not others is the product of trusting God and utterly depending upon the Scriptures, that those who might disagree with you are not kingdom-seeking, not repentant, not trusting the Scriptures, fearing man instead of trusting God, not “ready” for the truth, etc. It’s a sectarian and radically individualistic spirit. God should rule, not the community, but you are not uniquely qualified above others to define what God’s rule is.

      You don’t believe in “the priesthood of all believers” as proclaimed in the Protestant Reformation? You don’t believe in less honorable members of the body being able to contribute revelation according to 1 Corinthians 12-14? You don’t believe Jesus when He said that though John the Baptist was the greatest of all the prophets that the least in the kingdom was greater than he?

      You portray me as thinking I am greater than others who have not had such truths revealed to them. By this logic, you would portray Peter as thinking he was greater than Moses because he received greater revelation than Moses did.

      Moses and Peter were both apostles, chosen by God to bring speak divine revelation which is progressive in its unveiling. In contrast, the Scriptures have already been completed and are common to the believers in Christ and interpreted by many lovers of God, and you’re not an apostle or prophet, not in an office or position above others to know, define, and articulate divine truth over and against all of them.

      I believe in the priesthood of all the believers, but that puts all believers in the same position of enjoying the presence of God and ministering His presence to others, not Mike Gantt on the high-ground such that he should think that his “new revelations” overrides the spirituality and faithfulness of all those who might disagree with him, that when he thinks he is trusting God all his positions that contradict others is the apostolic truth revealed to him by the Holy Spirit and those who disagree are not truly trusting God. Notice that in 1 Corinthians 14 that while two or three speak, the others need to discern, discriminate right from wrong (v. 29); it’s not a matter of one person being absolutely confident in himself that his speaking is from God. You seem to strongly believe in the priesthood of Mike Gantt, but not the priesthood of the believers who might disagree with your positions, since you discount the possibility that anyone arrived at those conclusions through trusting the Lord, etc. As I’ve said, many of the points critical to your system depend upon things widely rejected by many lovers of God, lifelong readers of the Scripture, and martyrs (the Father and the Son not existing at the same time; there being no visible, bodily second coming of the Lord or resurrection of the dead, etc.). That you build a system out of these kinds of positions, a system which you alone are known to have arrived at, and then declare it the apostolic truth over and against anyone who might disagree with you makes you your own kind of epistemological pope.

      Besides, the reason why those least in the kingdom are greater than John the Baptist who is greater than all the prophets is not because they are in a greater position to independently arrive at new truths (such as the prophetic words that became Old Testament Scripture, the baptism of John that signaled a change of age and which even the Lord Jesus subjected Himself to) but their intimate relationship and proximity to Christ. The prophets could see Christ from afar and say, “He is coming!”; John the Baptist could stand next to Christ and say “Here He is!”; but the believers in Christ from the time of His resurrection can say “Christ is in me” for He lives inside of the believers.

  21. Mike Gantt says:

    Brandon,

    This morning I ran across the term “Perichoresis” in this comment thread on Randal Rauser’s blog. Then I looked up the term on Wikipedia and my eyes glazed over just trying to read the explanation. This is what theology does – particularly where trinitarian doctrine is concerned. It removes the word of God from the man on the street and makes it the domain of the erudite.

    The vast majority of people who accept trinitarian doctrine do so because they trust people smarter than themselves to know what they’re talking about. Yet a PhD is no guarantee of intimacy with God. And practically all of Trinitarian doctrine consists in such head knowledge. True intimacy with Christ begins and ends with trusting and obeying Him throughout the course of daily life.

    • Brandon E says:

      “Perichoresis” [Greek for “mutual interpenetration”] is indeed a technical term and (like most anything) a lot of academic writing about it. I can understand why you would find this unattractive. But the term refers to a basic thought in Scripture: that the Father, Son, and Spirit exist at the same time and yet are undividedly one, not three separate “persons” or beings, because of the mutual indwelling of the Father, Son, and Spirit–“persons” mutually existing and operating inside “one another.” I don’t think that one needs a PhD to see this spiritual revelation in Scripture, and I think that natural intelligence can actually become a hindrance to seeing such spiritual realities (1 Cor. 2:6-16).

      Like many truths about God or even brute facts about life and human existence, this revelation is beyond our ability to fully describe or explain, but there is a corresponding truth in Christian experience. The Bible reveals that the Father, Son, and Spirit exist at the same time, and yet describes God, the Father, Christ the Son, and the Spirit, as the One who indwells the believers and in whom the believers dwell (John 14:16-20; Eph. 4:6; Rom. 8:9-11; 2 Cor. 13:5; Col. 1:27; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; Eph. 2:21; 1 John 4:4). Yet no believer has the realization that two or three or more separate “persons” or beings are inside of them or that they dwell in three separate beings. They only have the realization of One.

  22. Mike Gantt says:

    Brandon,

    The two posts linked below represent two of my most foundational thoughts. If you want to shake me from my beliefs, go after thoughts like these that are foundational to others:

    Walking in the Spirit and Not in the Flesh

    Practicing the Presence of Christ

    • Brandon E says:

      I affirm both, so I wouldn’t try to go after them. I would point out that a person can walk according to the Spirit and practice the presence of Christ without the system you’ve created, though. I would also say that the New Testament reveals not simply that Christ is everywhere and we should be mindful of His presence, but that “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17) and that He truly lives within the believers (Gal. 2:20; 4:19; Rom. 8:9-11; 2 Cor. 13:5; Col. 1:27). Hence, we can practice being one with Him. I also believe that as we grow up into Him in all things and are sanctified, renewed, transformed and conformed unto His image we have not only an individual but an organic communal expression (Eph. 4:11-16; 2:21-22; Col. 2:19; 1 Cor. 12:12-31; 1 Pet. 2:2-12), which ultimately becomes the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2, 9-11).

  23. Mike Gantt says:

    Brandon, since we have some agreement in this area, why don’t we focus here for a while instead of on the more divisive issues?

    Since we are agreed that Jesus is Lord and that we should walk in the light of His presence at all times, seeking to do only those things that are pleasing in His sight, why do you think it is that so many self-professed Christ followers fail to do this? What are the obstacles to abiding in the presence of Jesus as Lord and living the kind of lives He wants from us?

  24. Mike Gantt says:

    Why did you choose to pursue the divisive issues instead of responding to my invitation here? I am genuinely interested in what you have to say about this. Since we both agree that Jesus is Lord, fostering obedience to Him should be common ground for us.

    • Brandon E says:

      Mike, I’ve focused on the “divisive” issues because I think that your views and the attitude with which you hold them are divisive and sectarian. You claim, despite the fact that we both are aware of only you independently arriving at your views, that your views are the apostolic teaching such that anyone who might disagree with you is wrong and not properly depending upon Scripture alone. You explained this state of affairs by asserting (on TGC, elsewhere in our conversations on your blogs) that those who might disagree with you are not kingdom-seeking, not spiritual, not faithful to Scripture and to God enough to “see” what you “see”; but I’ve pointed out that many lovers of God, seekers of Christ, and lifelong students of Scripture come to opposite conclusions to you. This is a hindrance to fellowship, because you speak of “obedience to Christ” and yet evidently feel no qualms whatsoever about doing such things; in fact, it seems that you think that what you’re doing is obedience to Christ.

      Concerning specific issues, I personally don’t believe, for instance, that adherence to the words “three persons in one being” are a litmus test for orthodoxy. However, Christ and the apostles did speak of the Father and Son as existing at the same time and yet being one. Your replacing this with a concept of the Father “dying” and “becoming” the Son and ceasing to exist as Father–which “understanding” was supposed not “revealed” until the allegedly invisible second coming of Christ that supposedly happened in the first centuries, after the Scriptures were written (which explains why Christ and the apostles consistently spoke of the Father and Son existing at the same time and never of the Father ceasing to exist)–and then claiming that your teaching alone is apostolic and that everything else is not Scriptural and is possibly anti-Christ, is too much. Your views also annul the church a priori due to an alleged first century replacement of the church with what you call the “kingdom,” making the church only for the first century and impossible for today, so it is small wonder that you while you complain of 30,000+ denominations you basically have whittled yourself down to a sect of one, i.e., to agree with the apostles is to agree with you, even though no one else is known to have independently arrived at your combination of views.

  25. Mike Gantt says:

    Everyone is going to heaven whether they agree with me or not.  What I do hope and pray is that we will all turn toward Christ and honor Him by repenting to righteousness during the time we have here on earth.

  26. Pingback: Brandon E’s Objections: #1 – I Proclaim Truth Too Boldly | Current Events in Light of the Kingdom of God

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