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Doubting Thomas
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« on: July 24, 2003, 08:02:17 PM »

I've read some of ChuckS replies to some of the questions I've posed, and he brings up another area where I have some questions--end times.

Now, as a Baptist, I've grown up being taught the whole "pre-trib rapture, premillenial" viewpoint and naturally believed that this is what Scripture taught.  However, within the past five years, after really checking the Scriptures I abandoned the pre-trib rapture notion in favor of a post-trib/pre-wrath rapture at the pre-millenial Second Coming.

Reading some Orthodox articles on the subject, it would seem that amillenialism is the view favored by the Church.  Am I correct in this assessment?  This is somewhat puzzling as Revelation seems to indicate a real 1000 year period AFTER Christ's second coming and before the Great White Throne Judgement.  Seeing how the first 69 weeks of Daniel (ch.9) were literally fulfilled, it seems only natural that the 70th week is a literal seven year period as well.  Since this seven year period seems to be the focus of Revelation, premillenialists would argue that the 1000 period is also to be taken literally.

How then did the Orthodox adopt the amillenial view?  I've read quotes from a few church fathers (Justin Martyr comes to mind, off the top of my head) which also indicate a belief in a literal millenium. Specifically...

1.  How does the Orthodox church interpret the 70th week of Daniel?  Has that already occured or will it yet be fulfilled?  

2.  How does the Orthodox interpret the 1000 years mentioned in Revelation 20?

Thanks.
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Chuck S.
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« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2003, 09:10:16 PM »


Hi Thomas,

Ok...this might be a LONG discussion. But I'll try to answer briefly at first. (first take Linus' suggestion and check out a book called "A Second Look at the Second Coming" as he highly recommended it)

Ok, now in a sense yes, Orthodoxy accepts Amillenialism. However...the Orthodox understanding of Amillenilalism is quite different than the Catholic or Protestant (Lutherans come to mind) view of it.

Orthodox do not believe that when Christ returns that "the world blows up" or that "its destroyed by fire" and we all go to heaven to live as spirit beings for all eternity. (this was the only type of amillenialism I had encountered and is why I first had trouble accepting it)

Yes, you are also correct to say that Justin Martyr believed in a literal 1000 year reign, however he also said that most Christians did not believe as he did and that they were just as 'Christian' as he was. Justin was originally a philosopher, based in Rome, he didn't know St. John, and his gift was apologetics not end times prophecy. So its understandable, considering at first glance Revelation would indicate a literal 1000 year reign, that he believed this.

Revelation was Apocolyptic literature. This type of writing was quite common among  pagan religions, so what St. John was doing was giving a teaching on the return of Christ in a way that would be understood by the Church, which by that time was mainly pagan converts.

Apocolyptic literature was almost always "in code" or symbolic. Some of it is literal, some of it is symbolic. What Orthodoxy does is interprate it the way it has always been interprated...the way St. John interprated it. St John explained his interpratation to his Church and they passed that exact interpratation on to all the other Churches. However since there were no telephones this would have taken a little time for every Church to get the correct understanding.

We do believe in the Rapture, however this occurs after the Tribulation when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead.

If one accepts a pretrib rapture, then for starters that makes 2 second comings of Christ. It also doesn't make sense that if all Christians are not around for the reign of Anti-Christ, why did Christ and the Apostles give so many warnings to not fall away from faith during his reign?

as for Rev. 20, briefly....Orthodox, unlike the west, believes that satan is bound right now! Satan no longer has the power he did before the cross. Christ defeated satan at the cross and Resurrection. Jesus told a parable of binding the strong man and taking his goods. This is a picture of Christ defeating Satan and taking satan's goods (prisoners in Hades) and setting them free and ushering them to heaven. Satan no longer has the power he once had. He is "bound"...he is restricted to what he can do.

Satan once appeared to St. Antony as wild beasts, snakes, rabid lions etc and St. Antony said, "if you have the power to kill me do so, if not be gone." The visions disappeared and never returned.

Now had this taken place before the cross satan would have had much more power. He could have called down fire from heaven, work "miracles" and wonders. This is why so many people believed in the ancient greek gods. because, in a sense they actually existed. As demons. They could terrify the people, work wonders, call lightening from heaven, etc. However Christ put an end to this at the Cross...this is why all the ancient pagan religions died, because Satan no longer had such power of deception over people or the nations If people reject Christ now, its under their own free will...and not because satan has duped them by showing them mighty wonders.

This is how we interprate the binding of satan. This is why satan has no power over Christians. Christ plundered the strong man...He bound him in chains.

As for the 1000 years, this has always been understood as symbolic. (in the East) Its symbolic for a long period of time.

We dont see as Christ ruling and reigning some day in the future...but that He is ruling nad reigning right now. There is nothign Christ has to do to be ruling, he did it all 2000 years ago...and sits at the right hand of God right now with power and glory!

When Rev. 20 talks about the first Reusrrection this is Baptism. Where we Mysteriously, yet literallly die and rise with Christ in the waters. Our old man has been crucifed, and our new man rises. (Romans 6) We take this very literally. Thats why Rev. says "blessed is he who takes part in the first Resurrection"...

If we accept the 1000 year reign as literal then we have multiple Reusrrections, multiple judgements, and multiple "Days of the Lord"

Yet In the Gospel of John Mary and Martha refer to Resurrection Day. The entire OT talks about the Last Day..the Day of the Lord, etc...it is a ONE time event. When the Lord comes to judge the living and the dead. No where else in the Bible does it talk about 2 Resurrections, or 2 judgements. The only place this appears to be so is Rev..but since Scripture cannot contradict itself then these must be symbolic of something else.

Read Rev 20:7-8 it says that after the 1000 years (meaning the Church age) Satan will be  loosed and will deceive the nations once again. This is the time of Anti-Christ where people will be deceived as they were before the cross. He (satan) will have power to call down fire from heaven, work wonders, and make people think he is God.

It also says (Rev20:Cool that the battle of Gog and Magog will take place at this time. Now every dispensaionalist I've ever seen believes the battle of Gog and Magog (Ezekial chapter 39) takes place during the reign of Anti Christ.BEFORE the return of Christ.

So if this takes place before the return of Christ, then obviously the 1000 year reign talked about 3 verses before and the binding of satan, must also take place BEFORE the return of Christ.

The ONLY interpratation that makes this "fit" is the Orthdoox interpratation.

When Christ returns, Satan, the false prophet and the beast are thrown into the lake of fire, and the "great day of the Lord" occurs. This is Resurrection Day spoken of when all are reunited with their bodies and when the last judgement takes place where Christ seperates His sheep from the goats...then Christ gives is the New heaven and the new earth...which is more than a restoration of the original creation, but the world will actually be BETTER because God will be in all.
The world doens't "blow up" for how could God destroy His own creation? No! God not only redeemed us at the cross, He redeemd all of creation. This is why we see Icons are the "first fruits" of the New earth...they are a forshadowing that the New Earth will unite God and the material realm, just as Christ's incarnation did.

Boy, this is really a huge topic Thomas..and I'm not sure how well I ddi of decribing it. I kind of rushed through a topic that really needs to be taken one point at a time..so if this has only confused you I apoligize.

Let me know if I only made things worse...and I'll go over this stuff one point at a time with you. and try to refer you to some stuff online if I can find it.

Just remember Rev. is not a cronological order of events....it reads like that in english, but certainly not in greek.

In Christ, Chuck
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Chuck S.
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« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2003, 09:19:43 PM »

Oh btw...the Orthodox view does have alot of things in common with protestant dispinsationalist views that catholic and Lutheren amillenilalism does not..

We do believe the prophet Elija will return with either Moses, or another prophet from the OT (can't remember who) during reign of Anti-Christ. We do believe the jews will 'come home' and accept Christ as their Messiah etc..

But we dont believe Christians will be "reptured" before hand. For one, Christ said that durng the reign of ant-Christ even Christians will be deceived. How can Christians be deceived if we're not here?

Its possible the reason many will be deceived is because the anti-Christ will come to power "under our noses"...and those who think the repture must happen first will be lulled into a false sense of security by thinking, "well this can't be antiChrist cuz we haven't been raptured"...

So we don't think all of Rev. is an allegory...we just take the literal parts literally, and the symbolic parts symbolically according to how St. John explained its meaning.

Again, if this doesn't help I apologize...

Chuck
 
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Jonathan
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2003, 09:53:55 PM »


We do believe the prophet Elija will return with either Moses, or another prophet from the OT (can't remember who) during reign of Anti-Christ. We do believe the jews will 'come home' and accept Christ as their Messiah etc..

Elijah and Enoc, the two who haven't died yet, but were taken up to be with God.  They will return to preach against Antichrist & will be martyred, and later ressurected at the general ressurection.
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« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2003, 07:17:12 AM »

As Orthodox Christians, we believe the Church is "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15). Thus we believe in the authority of the Church gathered in universally-recognized ecumenical councils.

At the Second Ecumenical Council, in Constantinople in 381, the Church Fathers gathered there condemned chiliasm, the belief in a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ upon the earth, also known by the latinate name of millenialism.

This viewpoint was reiterated at Ephesus (431), I believe, when the Fathers there called chiliasm "superstition".

Thus, for Orthodox Christians, any kind of literal millenialism is not an option.

As you may know, Dispensationalism was the 19th-century creation of John Nelson Darby, an English lawyer who became an Anglican clergyman but later broke with that church to help found the Plymouth Brethren sect.

Central to Darby's theory was his teaching that God has two separate peoples, one earthly (literal Jewish Israel) and the other heavenly (the Church).

This teaching was never heard of in the historic Church before. Even Christians who believed in a literal millenium believed that the Church is Israel and that God has always had only one kingdom and one people, not two.

Dispensationalism has many many things wrong with it. For one thing, in order for its convoluted eschatology to work, there must be three "Second" Comings, three bodily resurrections, and two or three "Last" Judgments. These are things that are foreign to a plain-sense reading of the Bible and which cannot be found in the writings of the early Fathers, even those who seem to have believed in a literal millenium.

If you would like to read a generally excellent analysis of Dispensationalism from a Baptist perspective, check out the book An Examination of Dispensationalism, by William E. Cox, a Baptist minister. Cox was a Dispensationalist whose study of the Bible convinced him that Dispensationalism is an error.

I want to discuss this topic further, but I am at work and have to get going!

Thanks for starting this thread!
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« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2003, 08:01:45 AM »

Again, thanks for the responses.

ChuckS...I see what you're saying about the Church teaching there is only ONE judgement (rather than the 2 or 3 of Dispensationalism) and ONE resurrection.  That makes sense.  I'm a little confused about in what respect it can be said that Satan is bound NOW, because it says in 1 Peter 5:8 that our "adversary the devil WALKS ABOUT like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour".  I was also reading this morning in Acts 26:18 that Paul was instructed to turn his listeners "from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God...".  How can anyone since the cross be under Satan's power if he is bound?  I guess that point confuses me.

Linus...yeah, I once considered myself a dispensationalist, but soon found that position to be largely untenable.  For example, the dispensationalists I read asserted that the Sermon on the Mount was meant for those under the Law or in the "Millenial Kingom" and not for the Church!  Also, a closer reading of Scripture led me to abandon the "Pre-Trib rapture" held so dearly by many in my own denomination and in American Christendom at-large with the LEFT BEHIND series being so widely read.  :-  However, in reading the Scriptures, I'm not convinced that God is finished with the Jews (see especially Romans 11), and I believe they'll have to figure in the end-times events somehow.

Later...
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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2003, 11:29:54 AM »

DT -

I don't think God is finished with the Jews yet either; but then I don't think He is finished with anyone yet!

I am not sure I fully understand what St. Paul was talking about in Romans 11 (if I remember it rightly), that "all Israel will be saved." I think it means that God will bring into His Church all those Jews who will accept Christ, so that Israel - the people of God, whatever their ethnic origin - will be lacking no one who chooses to be a part of her. I believe several of the Fathers taught that there will be a mass conversion of Jews to Christianity prior to the Second Coming of Jesus, and that is the way they interpreted what St. Paul wrote in Romans 11. That makes sense to me.

I don't have any references handy, but if I remember my history correctly, many Orthodox Jews, particularly Hasidim, opposed the Zionist movement and the creation of the state of Israel because the messianic prophecies state that the Messiah, and no one else, will reestablish the Davidic kingdom. Thus, they argued, it was wrong to try to recreate Israel without the Messiah.

Of course we see in the Book of Acts the Apostles saying that Jesus has already reestablished the Davidic kingdom in His greater kingdom, with those prophecies being fulfilled in the Church.

Perhaps the Dispensationalists' mistaken attachment to (or worship of) the nation of Israel is part of the "strong delusion" that will come before the end.
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« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2003, 11:42:47 AM »

DT -

I wanted to add something about the binding of Satan.

In what respect is Satan said to be bound? Look at Revelation 20. He is bound so that he may deceive the nations no more until the thousand years are finished (paraphrasing - I don't have my Bible with me).

At His first advent, Jesus bound Satan (see Matthew 12). Before that time the great mass of humanity was in thrall to paganism and the power of Satan. Since Jesus came the Gospel goes forth into all the world, and Satan is unable to deceive the nations as he did before.

Satan is spiritually bound with regard to his ability to deceive the nations, but his activities are not totally restricted. Remember also that we humans are responsible for much of the sin and death and destruction in this world that gets blamed on Satan.
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« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2003, 02:45:59 PM »

ChuckS,
Nice post.  Helped me out too!  Always a difficult subject.
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« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2003, 10:35:11 PM »

On Satan being bound (kinda, relevant to it at least, it shows what's different before & after the Cross, the power of Christ conquoring, the demons fleeing, in short, Satan being bound) from On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius:

hen did people begin to abandon the worship of idols, unless it were since the very Word of God came among men? When have oracles ceased and become void of meaning, among the Greeks and everywhere, except since the Savior has revealed Himself on earth? When did those whom the poets call gods and heroes begin to be adjudged as mere mortals, except when the Lord took the spoils of death and preserved incorruptible the body He had taken, raising it from among the dead? Or when did the deceitfulness and madness of demons fall under contempt, save when the Word, the Power of God, the Master of all these as well, condescended on account of the weakness of mankind and appeared on earth? When did the practice and theory of magic begin to be spurned under foot, if not at the manifestation of the Divine Word to men? In a word, when did the wisdom of the Greeks become foolish, save when the true Wisdom of God revealed Himself on earth? In old times the whole world and every place in it was led astray by the worship of idols, and men thought the idols were the only gods that were. But now all over the world men are forsaking the fear of idols and taking refuge with Christ; and by worshipping Him as God they come through Him to know the Father also, Whom formerly they did not know. The amazing thing, moreover, is this. The objects of worship formerly were varied and countless; each place had its own idol and the so-called god of one place could not pass over to another in order to persuade the people there to worship him, but was barely reverenced even by his own. Indeed no! Nobody worshipped his neighbor's god, but every man had his own idol and thought that it was lord of all. But now Christ alone is worshipped, as One and the Same among all peoples everywhere; and what the feebleness of idols could not do, namely, convince even those dwelling close at hand, He has effected. He has persuaded not only those close at hand, but literally the entire world to worship one and the same Lord and through Him the Father.
(47) Again, in former times every place was full of the fraud of the oracles, and the utterances of those at Delphi and Dordona and in Boeotia and Lycia and Libya and Egypt and those of the Kabiri and the Pythoness were considered marvelous by the minds of men. But now, since Christ has been proclaimed everywhere, their madness too has ceased, and there is no one left among them to give oracles at all. Then, too, demons used to deceive men's minds by taking up their abode in springs or rivers or trees or stones and imposing upon simple people by their frauds. But now, since the Divine appearing of the Word, all this fantasy has ceased, for by the sign of the cross, if a man will but use it, he drives out their deceits. Again, people used to regard as gods those who are mentioned in the poets—Zeus and Kronos and Apollo and the heroes, and in worshipping them they went astray. But now that the Savior has appeared among men, those others have been exposed as mortal men, and Christ alone is recognized as true God, Word of God, God Himself. And what is one to say about the magic that they think so marvelous? Before the sojourn of the Word, it was strong and active among Egyptians and Chaldeans and Indians and filled all who saw it with terror and astonishment. But by the coming of the Truth and the manifestation of the Word it too has been confuted and entirely destroyed. As to Greek wisdom, however, and the philosophers' noisy talk, I really think no one requires argument from us; for the amazing fact is patent to all that, for all that they had written so much, the Greeks failed to convince even a few from their own neighborhood in regard to immortality and the virtuous ordering of life. Christ alone, using common speech and through the agency of men not clever with their tongues, has convinced whole assemblies of people all the world over to despise death, and to take heed to the things that do not die, to look past the things of time and gaze on things eternal, to think nothing of earthly glory and to aspire only to immortality.
(48) These things which we have said are no mere words: they are attested by actual experience. Anyone who likes may see the proof of glory in the virgins of Christ, and in the young men who practice chastity as part of their religion, and in the assurance of immortality in so great and glad a company[1] of martyrs. Anyone, too, may put what we have said to the proof of experience in another way. In the very presence of the fraud of demons and the imposture of the oracles and the wonders of magic, let him use the sign of the cross which they all mock at, and but speak the Name of Christ, and he shall see how through Him demons are routed, oracles cease, and all magic and witchcraft is confounded.
Who, then, is this Christ and how great is He, Who by His Name and presence overshadows and confounds all things on every side, Who alone is strong against all and has filled the whole world with His teaching? Let the Greeks tell us, who mock at Him without stint or shame. If He is a man, how is it that one man has proved stronger than all those whom they themselves regard as gods, and by His own power has shown them to be nothing? If they call Him a magician, how is it that by a magician all magic is destroyed, instead of being rendered strong? Had He conquered certain magicians or proved Himself superior to one of them only, they might reasonably think that He excelled the rest only by His greater skill. But the fact is that His cross has vanquished all magic entirely and has conquered the very name of it. Obviously, therefore, the Savior is no magician, for the very demons whom the magicians invoke flee from Him as from their Master. Who is He, then? Let the Greeks tell us, whose only serious pursuit is mockery! Perhaps they will say that He, too, is a demon, and that is why He prevailed. But even so the laugh is still on our side. for we can confute them by the same proofs as before. How could He be a demon, Who drives demons out? If it were only certain ones that He drove out, then they might reasonably think that He prevailed against them through the power of their Chief, as the Jews, wishing to insult Him, actually said. But since the fact is, here again, that at the mere naming of His Name all madness of the demons is rooted out and put to flight, obviously the Greeks are wrong here, too, and our Lord and Savior Christ is not, as they maintain, some demonic power.
If, then, the Savior is neither a mere man nor a magician, nor one of the demons, but has by His Godhead confounded and overshadowed the opinions of the poets and the delusion of the demons and the wisdom of the Greeks, it must be manifest and will be owned by all that He is in truth Son of God, Existent Word and Wisdom and Power of the Father. This is the reason why His works are no mere human works, but, both intrinsically and by comparison with those of men, are recognized as being superhuman and truly the works of God.
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« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2003, 11:11:45 PM »


Hi Thomas,

As for Satan being bound...and the verse you quoted from 2nd Peter...I asked that EXACT same question when I was first studying this..lol! When we say satan is bound, we mean he is limited in what he can do. Not that he has no power at all. He can still acuse us, and tempt us, and appear as an angel of light, or wild beasts...but he can't actually DO anything to us.

But there is another major part to this...

From the time of the fall, to the cross, when people would die, even the righteous they didn't go to heaven, but went to Hades. This is because at the fall mankind became prisoners of satan. We became 'his'...

Jesus once told a parable saying that one cannot enter a strongman's house and take his goods, unless he first binds the strongman. Then he can take his goods.

Because of the context Jesus spoke this in (when the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out satan by satan) the Church has always taught that the "strongman" is satan...that it is Jesus who bound him, and the "goods" of the strongman are the OT saints who were taken out of hades by Christ, and ushered into heaven!

Christ defeated satan at the cross because the veil between us and God was torn. We were no longer seperated from God, no longer under the  curse of the law, and no longer were at the mercy of the merciless one.

Yes, he still can tempt us, even appear to us, but he doesn't "own" us. Christ redeemed us from the fall. And bound satan.

Does that help any???

I also agree God isn't done with the Jews! This is the major difference between western amillinialism and the Orthodox view. Is that Orthodoxy doesn't gloss over Romans 11...but very much affirms that in the end times there will be a mass coversion of the jews to Christ.

No, we dont know exactly what paul means  by "all Israel will be saved" but Paul also says its a MYSTERY. So we're not to try to understand it. Just trust that the jews will come to Christ and not concern ourselves with all the technical hairsplitting of "all Israel"...

Again this is a Mystery of the Church...not one of the 7 Great Mysteries...but it is a Mystery. And we trust that God will do what is right.

But yes, in the end times they definitely will accept their Messiah and God.

Hope this helps some Thomas...


In Christ, Chuck
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« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2003, 09:25:59 AM »

Jonathan,
Good quote of Athanasius.  I do question his implication that there is NO occult activity left in the world.  Perhaps he meant such activity was severly limited.

Chuck,
Good point about the "strongman".  Kind of reminds me of Frank Peretti's books THIS PRESENT DARKNESS and PIERCING THE DARKNESS when the head demon (so to speak) was named "Strongman".

I do have a "Counterpoints" book from a Protestant perspective in which 3 authors defend Postmillenialism, Amillenialism, and Premillenialism and then respond to each other's essays.  Perhaps I need to actually READ it (rather than let it collect dust on my shelf) since I've never given anything other than PRE-Millenialism a fair shake.

Later...
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