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On Transmillennialism and Kevin Beck's This Book Will Change Your World

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By Virgil - Posted on 26 May 2009

by Andrew Perriman

I read Kevin Beck’s This Book Will Change Your World in response to some gentle and persistent prompting from Mike Morrell. As Mike observes, there are some interesting similarities and some distinct differences between Kevin’s exposition of Transmillenialism and the thesis of The Coming of the Son of Man and of Re: Mission. Some of the issues raised were addressed a few years ago in a post on Transmillennialism™ on Open Source Theology. I won’t go into great detail here but will list some of the thoughts that came to mind as I read the book, which hopefully will help to clarify the main points of agreement and disagreement.
1. I agree with the argument about the shaping influence of stories and with his observation that the same story can be told in different ways (12-13).

2. Kevin puts a lot of emphasis on love both as a definition of God and as a motive for mission. While I would not want to suggest that love is anything other than central to our calling, I felt that the biblical analysis was rather skewed by his need to oppose a loveless fundamentalism. The following does not sound to me like a sound basis for a hermeneutic: ‘I simply must believe that there’s a truer way of telling the story. One that pictures God as someone kinder and gentler than the godfather’ (13). I think this leads to a misreading of the judgment theme in scripture – a bias that is evident in quite a lot of emerging theology.

3. I think that the book suffers somewhat from the prominence of the polemics. The suspicion is that what we have is really a repudiation of Beck’s fundamentalist heritage rather than a more objective attempt to tell the biblical story. Ok, we are all vulnerable to that charge one way or another, but I felt that in this case there were one or two really quite unnecessary distortions – not least the failure to recognize that historic Christianity, and indeed ‘modern’ Christianity, has taken many other forms than North American fundamentalism, not all of them lacking in love and grace. He claims far too much for Transmillennialism at times: other movements have provided the same freedom from literalism, intolerance, extremism and absurdity without the radically modified eschatology (116).

4. I still don’t understand why we need another (trademarked) made-in-America eschatologically defined subclass to rescue us from apocalyptic mayhem. It seems to me that the Transmillennial label is more likely to perpetuate than resolve the internecine squabbles. I would much rather promote a more general scholarly hermeneutic (Beck makes mention of Wright’s ‘critical realism’ and explains it well) as a dogmatically independent (some will scoff at that suggestion) methodology. I take the point that this is how people tend to think in the United States (20), but it imposes severe limitations on the appeal and accessibility of his case – and arguably merely reinforces the mindset that he is trying to escape from.

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Sam's picture

good review

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

I saw your comments on Andrew's site, Virgil. I tend to agree with you in criticism, that the enemy DEATH, has been dealt with (maybe SIN too). Evil may not be as simple.

Of course, if Andrew persists in a futuristic dealing with either DEATH or physical deaths of human bodies, then he does have the same kind of problems that Dispensationalists have with the near-in-coming time statements about the Coming of the Son of Man by Christ Himself. For example:

"And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" John 11:26

And:

"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." Mat. 1628

Of course, we Preterists have almost no trouble with the fulfillment of these passages on or before 70 AD.

But, I did like Andrew's criticism of the tendency of some Preterists as they try to sandwich the figurative 1000 years into the 40 year period between 30 and 70 AD. Preterists and some other students of Revelation will readily admit to the figurative and symbolic nature of the metaphors and similes, but nobody that I've heard has ever consciously argued for a figurative or contraindicated chronology from Revelation (i.e, if the 1000 figurative years begin after the Coming around 70 AD, they/it cannot precede it).

Of course, even though Andrew made that simple point, he only uses, I believe, it to reinforce some obscure and futuristic Millennial Utopia of his own.

Or, notice Andrew's seeming tacit agreement with Beck at paragraph 7. But it's not really agreement by Andrew, that I can tell, it's only Andrew's observation:

"Beck has a good sense of the historical incongruity of the ‘now and not yet’ formula; and he takes an effective satirical swipe at the modern soothsayers who confidently predict the imminent end of the world but will not take seriously Jesus’ insistence that the end of the age was at hand (50-51). ‘Why does Hagee’s “at hand” really mean “at hand” but Jesus’ “at hand” means thousands of years?’"

You see, I could be mistaken, but Andrew may have more in common with Hagee than with Christ, when it comes to "at hand" in the 1st Century AD. So, his preface to the article about clarifying agreement vs disagreement is not so clear.

And I think I saw Andrew doing something similar with another Beck point, about the false dichotomy of the "now, but not yet" futurist mentality. But Andrew seemed to only hold up Beck pointing it out, while not actually committing to it one way or the other, and then going on to imply a "now, but not yet" mentality.

Anyway, I haven't read Beck's book. So, Andrew may be right in his opinion that Beck spends too much time, off the seeming topic, slaying his fundamentalist demons in the book. But Andrew does seem to be a subtle critic of the full Preterist position.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

tom-g's picture

Virgil,

I too was interested in your comment and Andrew's response back to you. I would like to suggest that you reprint both here and then your response, if or when you respond, to his comment to you.

Tom

Virgil's picture

Tom, I will do that :)

chrisliv's picture

Oh,

By the way, I don't think I've yet heard what Transmillennialism is, by definition.

I presume that it is a form of Preterism, with some sort of emphasis on the a-millennial aspect of same.

Is it a term coined by Kevin Beck, himself?

And does Kevin ever post here at PP directly?

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

Jer's picture
chrisliv's picture

OK,

Now I remember that it is the Tim King/PresenceTV moniker.

I really like their articulation of the Kingdom Now.

Of course, I always wonder why most bright Preterists, such as they are, never go the full distance to an anti or non-Statist posture.

Like the early Christians:

" And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, SAYING THERE IS ANOTHER KING< ONE JESUS. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things." Acts 17:6-8

And I presume that Presence is a state-incorporate, federally-registered, religious non-profit organization.

Honestly, the state protection and warning via the circled "trademark" and "registered" lettering smacked of both statism and a high degree of commercialism, especially since I last remember them selling some pretty pricy DVDs.

"Hear The Gospel, Only $10.99!" Or something like that, was my impression.

Sorry, I guess I'm a little pessimistic.

But they do articulate a Kingdom Now attitude very well, even though they ignore or minimize the problem and nature of the State.

The Blessing of Abraham had nothing at all to do with a strip of Middle Eastern real estate or what people with Jewish DNA had to offer the rest of the families of the Earth.

See Galatians 3:

14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.

16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

So, that's the "better country" that Abraham sought: the ability to walk in God through His Spirit and being justified by Faith in the Seed, who was Christ.

And:

"And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise." Gal. 3:29

And:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, WHO HATH BLESSED US [Jew and Gentile] WITH ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS IN HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST." Eph. 1:3

That was even pre-70 AD. Imagine that!

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

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