Glory in Our Midst (Kline)

Kline, Meredith.  Glory in Our Midst: A Biblical-Theological Reading of Zechariah’s Night Visions. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2001.

This isn’t a technical commentary or even a popular verse-by-verse one.  It is more of a structural reading of Zechariah’s night visions.  It also functions as theological meditations, though I am not sure Kline would have seen it that way.  In many ways Kline’s scholarship has held up quite well in Middle Eastern studies (more on that below).

Before beginning on the focus of the book, I am going to analyze, or at least mention, the appendix where Kline gives the structure of Zechariah’s night visions. One should note that there are some lacunae in this review. Part of that is because I didn’t see all the chiasms matching up. Maybe they did, but without some visual picture it is hard to see. Kline argues that “the book of Zechariah is a diptych with 6:9-15 as its primary hinge…and that the main part of each side panel of this diptych is itself a diptych formation with 3:10 and 11:1-17 respectively” (Kline 241). In chiastic form it would look something like this:

Overall structure:

A (1:10ff) World Mission of the Lord of Hosts
B (Visions 2) Focus on holy land/remove unholy elements
C (Vision 3) Focus on divine presence/theocracy
C’ (Vision 5) Focus on Divine presence/theocracy
B’ (Vision 6) Focus on holy land/remove unholy elements
A’ (6:7ff) World Mission of the Lord of Hosts

Diptych 1

A
B (2:1-14)
C (2:5-17) Divine summons to return
D  (3:1-10)
A’
B’
C’

Diptych 2

A
B (10:1-14)
C (10:5-12) Divine summons to return
D (11:1-17)
A’
B’
C’

The real value in the book is Kline’s keen attention to thematic elements that are often lost in discussions on eschatology.  First, The Deep.  The Deep is the chaotic danger to Yahweh’s creation. It first appears as the unstructured chaos.  As revelation progresses, it becomes an active antagonist. It later became a synonym for Sheol (Pss. 18:4ff; 69:1, 2, 14, 15). Indeed, “the deep represented the world power which had subjugated Israel and terminated the Davidic dynasty” (31).

Following his discussion of the myrtle trees (Yahweh’s people?), Kline states, “The actual character of the process of redemptive eschatology is such that heaven breaks into the history of this world beforehand, particularly in the reality of the Spirit, re-creatively fashioning God’s people in the image of his glory (20).

The Mount of Assembly

Armageddon isn’t a specific location.  It is the war for Yahweh’s assembly. It is Har Mo’ed, Yahweh’s enthronement mountain. At the end of time, Antichrist, the Gog-warrior, comes from Zaphon, “the heights of the North,” “to attack Zion, the true mountain of divine assembly” (49).

Along these lines, Kline gives a fascinating discussion of ziggurats and altars.  A ziggurat represented a mountain.  It was “the cosmic mountain, the axis or access between heaven and earth” (61).

Cool point: the Hebrew for the riders who are going to destroy evil is “Harashim.”  Kline calls them dragon-slayers (63).

Building the Temple-City

Yahweh’s temple-city is a metapolis.  It is the Beyond-City of eternity. It doesn’t need walls because God’s fiery presence fills the eternal city to its unwalled limits (76).  Building this temple is a covenantal, royal task (149ff).  Kline outlines some covenantal language and structures:

  1. Matt. 28:18-20.  Covenantal pronouncement; has elements of presence, authority, and continuation.

Judicial Sanctions

Consistent with the covenantal language is Kline’s connection of baptism and judgment waters, particularly as they destroy the Egyptian army (109).

Imagers

Our image is one of ethical purity, dominion, and eschatological luminosity (114).  The latter is our receiving an investiture from Yahweh as he re-creates us in his Glory-Spirit.  Moreover as imagers, we bear God’s Name (Rev. 22:4).

The Spirit and the Church

We are the Menorah (Rev. 1:20). We are the ectype of God’s archetypal temple.

Key quote: “The field of history is a courtroom in which God’s people give testimony to his name over against the blasphemies of the idol-worsipers” (138).

Conclusion

This can’t function as one’s primary commentary on Zechariah.  It isn’t an exegetical commentary.  It is valuable, however, in giving the big picture, structure, and biblical theological overview of Zechariah.

Riddlebarger: Man of Sin

Riddlebarger, Kim.  Man of Sin.

Riddlebarger advances the thesis that the Scriptures give us a typology of antichrists which will culminate in a future, individual Antichrist, or Man of Sin. This is an accessible read for the lay person.  Riddlebarger covers the necessary scholarship, but he never overwhelms the reader.  I agree with him on a personal, future Antichrist but demur at points concerning the exegesis of Daniel and Matthew 24. While I think “double-fulfillment” is plausible, I think a stronger case needs to be made for it.  To be fair to Riddlebarger, though, that wasn’t his main point.

The drama begins with the two seeds (cities) in the Garden.  From there Riddlebarger gives us a line up of OT types of Antichrist:
1) Nimrod
2) Pharaoh.  He even has magicians who are able to match Moses and Aaron.  This is demonic agency (Rev. 13:11-17).
3) Nebuchadnezzar: The Image of the Beast. Lots of connections with Nimrod.  Tower/Golden Image; Both in roughly the same area.

Antichrist and Daniel’s 70th Week.

I am just stating Riddlebarger’s argument.  I’m not endorsing or critiquing it.  He identifies the “covenant” in verse 27 with “the covenant of grace.”

Gog and Magog

Gog and Magog are symbols of all nations who come from the ends of the earth to war upon the saints.

Doctrine of the Antichrist in the New Testament Era

Much of Riddlebarger’s argument depends on “double-fulfillment.”  I’m iffy on this.  It seems like special pleading.  However, it does seem to work with the fall of Jerusalem and the Olivet Discourse.  It won’t convince heretical full preterists, but it can blunt some partial preterist arguments.

The Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet

Old Testament Background

He takes a somewhat unique line with Nero.  Pace Gentry, he doesn’t see Nero as the Beast.  Notwithstanding, Nero is important for revelation, for even on a late date reading, John utilizes (or his readers would have understood) the Nero Redivivus myth.

The section on Puritan eschatology goes through the standard arguments for historicism, which Riddlebarger isn’t buying. While we associate eschatological speculation with dispensationalists, it is the historicists who really own the game.  The English Civil war was a ready-made template. 

Most historicists date the beginning of the Papacy at 600 AD (for Edwards it was 606). From these calculations Edwards concluded that Antichrist would fall around 1866.  Unfortunately, for speculative purposes, Catholicism began to wane.  We see a moderating trend in Charles Hodge.  Actually, Hodge’s exposition of Antichrist is pretty good.

Figure of the Past or Future Foe?

1) A series of antichrists will arise from within the church and will be tied to a particular heresy.
2) A repeated manifestation of the Beast throughout history.

3) The final manifestation of Antichrist is state-enforced heresy.

Problems with Preterism

Arguments in favor:
1) Rev. 11 seems to mention a physical temple, which would imply it was still standing.
Response: The language in Revelation is symbolic.  If it is literal, then we have the odd case of the Gentiles’ occupying the outer court for 3 ½ years but leaving the inner court undefiled.

2) The seven heads and sevens clearly suggest Rome, so we have six kings before AD 70, the last of which is Nero. 
Response: With which emperor do you begin counting? If we start with Julius Caesar, then we get Nero.  But if we start with the first official emperor, Augustus, we do not get Nero.

3) Some preterists argue that Jerusalem is Babylon, since it was the “city in which our Lord was crucified.”
Response: That same city is also called “Sodom and Egypt,” so we probably aren’t dealing with literal terms.

4) He is coming with the clouds, and the reference in Zechariah clearly refers to the generation who pierced him.
Response: The reference in Zech. is to Israel’s final salvation, not her final judgment.

Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord (Kurschner)

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Kurschner, Alan. Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord: What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Return of Christ. Prompton Lakes, NJ: Eschatos Publishing, 2013.

Will Jesus rapture us before the Great Tribulation?  According to 2 Thess. 2:3, he will not. Alan Kurschner, a noted pre-wrath proponent, marshalls a number of arguments showing the error of the pretribulation rapture theory.  Throughout the argument he makes use of numerous charts and diagrams. It’s common among Reformed types to ridicule prophetic charts, but I can’t really think of a better teaching tool.

In its simplest form, Kurschner’s argument goes like this

Beginning of birth pains —– Revealing of Antichrist —- Great Tribulation —- Parousia —-Outpouring of God’s wrath — The End.

Our dispensational friends say that Daniel’s 70th week is the Great Tribulation.  Since Christians are exempt from God’s wrath (1 Thess. 5:9), the Church is exempt from the Great Tribulation,  Kurschner responds that Daniel’s 70th week starts before the wrath of God; therefore, the church is there for part of it.

Central to Kurschner’s argument are the parallels between the Olivet Discourse and Paul’s teaching in Thessalonians.  This suggests that Paul learned it from Jesus, but in any case it shows that Paul and the gospel writers are talking about the same events.

Kurschner correctly argues that Antichrist will be a specific individual. (Yes, I am aware that Antichrist only appears in the Johannine literature, but you know what I am talking about.  Don’t split hairs). Mark uses the masculine participle for standing (hestekota; cf Kurschner 12).

Kurschner’s most important argument is that the Lord’s Coming will be a single, yet complex event (17).  He will return in glory to get his church, but that won’t end world history. He has other things to do as well (e.g., come up from Bosrah, stand on the Mount of Olives and split it wide open, etc). We see a parallel to Christ’s first coming.  When we say Christ was born as a baby, we don’t reduce all of the First Coming to the manger-event. His first coming also included the rest of his life.

Outline of Events

1) Beginning of Birth Pangs.  Against preterism and historicism, Kurschner argues that Jesus reveals a cluster of conditions that must happen before his return (Matt. 24:27, 30).  If this cluster happens in proximity to the Lord’s return, then both partial preterism and historicism are ruled out. Historicism is ruled out because the birthing metaphor suggests proximity to that generation.

1.1) The birth pangs encompass False Christs, Wars, and Famines (20).

2) The Great Tribulation. This begins when Antichrist causes the Abomination of Desolation, which leads to martyrdom et al.  As Kurschner notes, “If the church is raptured before the Antichrist, then why does Paul so passionately warn believers concerning the Antichrist’s deception at his revelation” (42).

The heart of the book is Kurschner’s analysis of Revelation, and it is this which initially gave me the most trouble.  If it is true that the Seals/Bowls/Trumpets are sequential, and if the church is raptured around chapter 7, then it is hard to see how the Trumpets aren’t at least coterminous with the seals.  Kurschner solves this problem by noting that the Trumpets follow a parenthesis in chapters 12-14. John warns the believers not to take the mark of the Beast; this only makes sense if the events in chapter 13 happen before the events in chapter 7.  The parenthesis argument works, though I think it probably needs its own monograph.

Per Revelation, the problem for pretribulationists is that the saints in Revelation 6 were martyred by Antichrist, yet they are pleading to God for the outpouring of his wrath.  This signifies several things: the saints are in the tribulation, yet God’s wrath hasn’t happened. Therefore, the Tribulation isn’t coterminous with God’s wrath.

Kurschner has several fascinating appendices detailing the structure of revelation and what the earliest fathers taught about the rapture (hint: It’s pre-wrath; see the following: Didache 16.4-5; Hippolytus On Daniel II.7; Irenaeus V.30.3-4).

Notes on Liberal Democracy

While noting that Donald Trump is most likely a horrible person, one of the good things emerging from this political season (and to a much lesser degree from the Bernie Sanders campaign) is the fact that the “party system” in particular and “liberal democracy” in general is failing to make good on its post-Enlightenment promises.  Of course, I expect left-wing outlets to attack any criticism of liberal democracy, but I was surprised to see some anti-Trump conservatives defend liberal democracy. Moreover, they see, possibly accurately, that the attacks on liberal democracy come increasingly from the so-called “Alt Right” and from monarchists like myself.

I don’t want to identify with the Alt Right simply because too many of them are vile racists and post-Nietzscheans.  Nevertheless, in many of these conversations few have actually defined and identified liberal democracy.  Taking my cue from Matthew Raphael Johnson, I’ll give it a try.  You will note that both Establishment Republicans and Establishment Democrats agree with every one of these points.  This is why “voting” rarely changes anything.

most of these points are taken from Matthew Raphael Johnson)

(1) Commitment to a market ideology which sees the world in quantified terms (and by market I don’t necessarily mean “capitalism,” though that could be included)
(2) a web of relations that depends on social credit
(3) Commitment to representative institutions, albeit with a major caveat: liberal loyalty to representative institutions only makes sense if liberalism itself is served.
(4) commitment to some abstract idea of “universal human rights.” But of course, a universal right is often too vague to be useful.

In another essay, Johnson lists these tenets as defining liberal democracy (especially in foreign politics)

1. Liberalism alone grants legitimacy.
2. Liberal values are comprehensive and self-evidently true. They require no supporting argumentation.
3. The “global community,” is a real entity, but the “nation” is the product of “myth.” It has the right to intervene wherever “democracy” is threatened.
4. Implicitly, the American taxpayer should be coerced to pay for these actions.
5. Capitalism is the sole rational mode of production.
6. Liberal democratic capitalism should be (and is) the only ideology that has the right to be imposed and enforced with American arms.
7. The only objects that exist in the universe are individuals. Collectives are only conventions.
8. Nationalism (which is undefined here) is inherently monstrous and ruinous. This includes all forms of economic nationalism such as import substitution.
9. Only the leader of global liberalism has the right to intervene in the politics of other states. Anyone else, especially if they are against the liberal consensus, does not have this right and should be obstructed by force.
10. American influence and power, if it is controlled by liberal values, is inherently just

Apologia pro (some) Islams

My recent review might strike one that I am “anti-Muslims.”  I understand that conclusion, but as usually the case with the Truth, it’s far more complex.  Here is how I look at the Islamic world:

(1) Islamic banking is infinitely superior to the parasitic system of the IMF.  It is why Gaddafi was murdered. In fact, Islamic banking borders on genius.

(2) Muslims would represent no threat to the West if they weren’t bolstered by the Anglo-Empire.

(3) On a spiritual level I cannot support Iran, given the brutality of the Revolutionary Guard and its treatment of Christians.  Politically, I see Iran as a heavy counterweight to the Global Regime.

(4) I understand Hamas’s reaction to Israel and largely sympathize with it.  Unfortunately, Hamas–or the PLO–has its own history of brutality.

(5) Hezbollah in its more modern form has occasionally created political space for Christians and minorities.

(6) I support the Muslim leader al-Assad.

Summary of Reformed Eschatology

Summarized from Richard Muller’s Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms.

I suppose as good a starting point as any would be the dius novissimus, the last day, theadventus Christi.  Here the Reformed Scholastics (excepting men like William Twisse) would also place the resurrection and Last Judgment.

While speculation of the last times is fruitless, the Bible does urge the wise steward to be ready, which implies some awareness of the times.  Thus, the Reformed Scholastics would speak of thesigna dei novissimi, signs of the last day.  These signs can be further delineated:

  • signa remota:  opening of the first six of the seven seals of Revelation 6:1-17: wars, famine, conflicts, pestilence, earthquakes.
  • signa propinqua:  signs nearer the end; the Great Apostasy; worldliness in the church.  Covenanted church members forsaking the church as the center of the kingdom.
  • signa propinquiora:  political unrest; regathering the nation of Israel; increased lawlessness.
  • signa proxima:  political disruption from the full manifestation of the Beast (Revelation 13-17); fulfillment of mission to the gentiles.
A note on Antichrist


Antichristus:  arises from within the church and is against the church.

  1.  he will sit in templo Dei
  2. he will rule as head of the church
  3. he will exalt himself above the True God
  4. He will cause many to fall away from the church.
  5. He will have “lying wonders.”

Some quotes on the NWO

There is a thread on PB on the New World Order and Conspiracies.  Surprisingly, many are coming to conclusions I held ten years ago.  A few of the bourgeois scoff at it, but you can tell they really don’t have an argument.  And they know it.

“In 1978 Fr. Seraphim contemplated the possibility of such a global system…Never has there been more talk of ‘peace and security’ than today. One of the chief organs of the United Nations is the Security Council and organizations for world peace are everywhere. If men do achieve finally a semblance of peace and security, it would seem to contemporary man to be a state like heaven on earth…The practical way to do this is to unite all governments under one. For the first time in world history such an idea becomes a possible goal in practical politics–a world ruler is conceivable now. For the first time, the Antichrist becomes an historical possibility” (Damascene, 697).

What Fr Seraphim is saying is nothing new. People used to laugh at those who said, “You know, world leaders really do want power. These guys really are corrupt. Maybe they do want world government.” People would laugh and say, “Oh that could never happen. What are you, a kook? World leaders do not really want that.”

Except that when you ask the elitists what they want, they say exactly that:

Admiral Charles Ward, former member of the Council on Foreign Relations, “The most powerful cliques in these elitist groups have an objective in common–they want to bring about the surrender of the sovereignty and the national independence of the United States (and even more so, any religious, social nationalist country: Russia, Belarus, Serbia, Ireland–JBA). A second clique of international members in the CFR…comprises the Wall Street International bankers and their key agents. Primarily, they want the world banking monopoly from whatever power ends up in the control of global government” (Rear Admiral Chester Ward, Review of the News, April 9, 1980, pp37-38, quoted in Fr Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, 697-698).

Fr Damascene goes on to mention,

With the establishment of the European Union, the creation of the Euro currency, the control of former Eastern-bloc countries by Western financial interests, the advances towards a cashless society, the formation of an international criminal tribunal by the United Nations and NATO, we see what appear to be the forerunners of such a one-world system. Some of these developments are not necessarily evil by themselves. Taken together, however, they help to set up a global apparatus which can make way for the rising religion of the future. Such was the expectation of Alice Bailey, who in 1940 wrote, The expressed aims and efforts of the United Nations will be eventually brought to fruition, and a new church of God, gathered out of all religions and spiritual groups, will unitedly bring an end to the great heresy of separatedness’ (cf. Alice Bailey, The Destiny of the Nations, p.52, quoted in Fr Seraphim Rose, 698). Robert Muller, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, expressed the same belief on the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations in 1995: ‘At the beginning the United Nations was only a hope. Today it is a political reality. Tomorrow it will be the world’s religion’ (Fr Seraphim Rose, 698).

It doesn’t get any more straightforward than that.  Further, I am not yet quoting the remarks by David Rockefeller who is quite open on the need for a supranational body.  While this is the domain of conspiracy-theorist kooks, there is nothing secret about it.  These remarks have been in the open for almost half a century, and have been actively pursued for about a generation on the political level.