Volume 7, Issue 5: Sharpening Iron
One culture watcher recently noted that he used to think that the current cybernet revolution was going to be as big as the invention of the printing press.
But given recent changes, he now thinks that it will be as big as the discovery of fire.
Even the best social pundits dare not try to predict the extent or speed of the changes. Yesterday's wild predictions are next month's dinosaur technology. An unbelievably dense and subterranean cyber-dialogue rumbles throughout the world twenty-four hours a day. More and more electronic words and counterarguments and gibberish are flickering about the continents, joining unseen faces over uncountable topics. Centralized governments frown as they contemplate their slim futures.
Social worries abound. But like our Protestant forefathers who leaped right into the terrors of the printing press, we too want to pursue the worldwide publishing opportunities exploding on the Internet. As a small start, we've opened our new Web home page at
[This made much more sense in the hard copy version of the magazine. Obviously you are already here]
Thank you for [Greg Dickison's review of Rush Limbaugh's See, I Told You So Vol. 7, No. 3]. The religion of secular conservatism has lots of ecumenical room which explains Rush's support of Bennett, et al. The "virtues" book and the promotion of it by Rush is a case in point. His Bible is Bill's and the books therein comprise his idea of salvation. Thanks for the clear-headed review. The issue isn't whether Rush is saved but when will he be saved.
Thanks for your excellent piece of writing on feminism ["Feminist Traditionalism"Vol. 7, No. 3]. I happened to be talking with the teacher/elder at our fellowship about the same subject a week ago, and he mentioned that the Scripture in Ephesians 5:21 through 6:1 actually loosely reads in the original Greek as "submit yourselves one to another out of reverence for Christ, wives to your own husbands." The translators added the word submit between "wives" and "to" to make the
passage more readable. So in reality, we are all supposed to submit to one another, but the wife is supposed to submit to her own husband, not other men. I believe
that these Scriptures confirm your article.
Thank you for an excellent Christian magazine. We regularly receive twenty copies at our mission station, Kwasizabantu. Our missionaries and teachers thoroughly
appreciate the articles. I look forward to an analysis of the "Toronto Blessing" and other counterfeit "revival manifestations" in a future Credenda, hopefully.
The Magistralis article, "Just Turn It Off!" by Greg Dickison was thought-provoking but somewhat disturbing in its conclusion that "the Bible provides no civil penalty for creating or looking at pornography." Surely the civil authority can "bear the sword" to protect citizens from direct harm? If it is true, and a wealth of evidence seems to suggest so, that porn is directly related to rape and child-abuse, then the state should take action to defend citizens from these forms of crime. In our country, South Africa, pornography is now displayed on sidewalks and fathers cannot protect their children from seeing filth, unless they stop going to cities. Surely the government has a biblical mandate to prevent citizens from being forced to see pornography? Just as the state has the right to wield the sword against those who rape and kill, the same authority should apply when it comes to materials which inspire rape, incest, and child-abuse, and in another sense, rapes the innocence of our children who are forced to see these materials on sidewalks. . . .
Good to see you had an email address. I've been reading your magazine and would like to make a couple of comments. (I'm sure you don't get enough of those!)
First, in the article titled "Joy to the World" you came on pretty strong with "He (Jesus) came and died for all men." I hope by this you don't mean that He died for every man, woman, and child as opposed for the salvation of the Elect. What about Election?
Second, I notice that you are pretty strong in support of only Christian schools or home schooling, as if to send kids to public school is a sin. I'm not a parent, but I know born again, godly parents who send their kids to Christian schools, born again, godly ones who home school, and also born again, godly ones who send their kids to public schools. I just think that all three types of parents need to remember Phillipians 2:3.
[Not a city in Idaho!]
Let me begin with two brief remarks. Before the rest, thank you for Credenda. You are being faithful to God. Continue in that. I want you to be aware, too, that I am not more than conversant in eschatology. Maybe not even that. I am only fifteen. But let me go on to bring my objections to bear on your Eschaton entitled "A Case for Preterism."
The article began well in its critique of nonreformed end of time untruth, but went on to assume that the only alternative is preterism. I think you are wrong. True, Christ (Matt. 24:34) often taught about the very generation that heard him, but what about the double meaning (2 Sam. 7)? Were the elect caught up from "the one extremity of the heavens to the other of them" (Matt. 24:31) with the fall of Jerusalem? Were the truths of God taught "in the entire habitable earth" before the siege (v. 14)? In the article you quoted the reference to the trial "of the entire habitable earth . . . quickly" (Rev. 3:10,11). Where are the historians? I don't remember that. Are the "former things" gone (Rev. 21:4)? Are the "abominable . . . in the lake . . .[of] brimstone" (v. 8)? Are things rendered with eternal equity to everybody (Rev.22:12)? Aren't the luminaries there (v. 5)? Think about the untruth you are promoting in that.
The second letter to Timothy warned him of men that are without truth in thinking the resurrection to have occurred already (2 Tim. 2:16-19). I think that you are wrong in defending preterism (1 Cor. 15). Remember that the time of God and our time are different. . . .
Editors Reply: Thanks for your thoughtful comments. We wish we had been thinking like you do, when we were fifteen! We share your very biblical commitment to a future resurrection and Second Coming, as do most preterists. Some "hyper-preterists" don't, but we agree with you that they go beyond
A few months ago we wrote to ask you to take us off your mailing list, but we didn't have time then to explain why. You sent us a note saying that perhaps we'd been placed on your list by accident. Since this was not the case, we'd like to express our concerns.
In Vol. 7, No. 2, page 32 in "Cave of Adullam," the author appeared to criticize Promise Keepers because of an ad they carried in their magazine. Firstly, Klaus Van der Hoot misquoted the ad as promoting "romance-as-foundation-for-marriage," when the ad clearly mentioned Christ-centered marriage.
Secondly, this type of cynical commentary within the body of Christ is divisive. Anytime we do anything to hinder unity among Christians, we are hindering Christ's prayer in John 17, in which He asked three times for unity among believers (v. 11, 21, & 23). Of course, you know from other Scriptures as well that God hates division among His own. Shouldn't we rather build up and encourage each other, diverse though we may be? Since Promise Keepers is obviously being used mightily
by our God to bring so many to a closer walk with Him, we should be rejoicing and thanking Him for His wonderful grace in this movement.
The aforementioned is not the only objectionable comment we've noticed in your publication, but it was the one that caused us to no longer want to read further. Let us not become so highly educated and worldly wise that we lose sight of what actually pleases the Lord and what grieves Him.
Bill & Pirkko O'Clock
We have been receiving your magazine for some time now and continue to find it stimulating and informative. . . . Please do continue to mail Credenda all this way to little England whenever you are able and keep us informed of how things are going. We really do appreciate your thought-provoking articles and your tenacity concerning the exactitude of Biblical exposition. May God continue to bless, provide, inspire, and encourage you in all that you are doing in His name.
Andy & Joy Clark
As a dispensationalist reader of Credenda/Agenda, I would like to comment on Jack Van Deventer's article "Dispensational Origins of Modern Premillennialism" and his previous article "A Case for Preterism." My focus is on historical matters.
First, as to the statement that Darby invented the doctrine of the Secret Rapture "claiming there were not one but two 'second comings,'" I would observe the
(a) The statement is false. Mr. Darby claimed the second coming had two aspects, never that there were two second comings.
(b) There have been some who have taught that there are two future comings of Christ. Consider the following extract from a respected Puritan: "Quest: But what is this coming of Christ? Ans: There is a double coming of Christ. 1. His coming to call the Jews and to gather in the fullness of the Gentiles with them, which is called the 'brightness of his coming' (2 Thess. 2:8) when there shall be such a brightness of the truth shining forth in the world, armed with such instruments as shall utterly destroy the Antichrist, long before his second coming (Rev. 10:19,20). 2. His coming to judgment (Heb. 9:28; 1 Cor. 15:13,24) when there shall be a universal resurrection of good and bad."
Who wrote this? It is found in Thomas Shepard's 17th century work "The Parable of the Ten Virgins," which was recently reprinted by Soli Deo Gloria. The extract is found on pp. 24,25 of the reprint edition. Obviously, Mr. Shepard's remarks are not dispensational in any sense. But he certainly believed in two future comings of Christ. Shephard was Reformed and Reformed persons of today should be aware of his eschatological views. If the Reformed of today disagree with Shepard and his "double coming," may they answer him. There are other writers of Shepard's era who taught similar views.
As to preterism, is the preterist mode of interpretation which has been advocated in your periodical the "historic Reformed position?" I think not. The historic Reformed interpretation of prophecy is historicism. If you can identify ten Reformed advocates of preterism between the Reformation and say 1860, I should be glad to know who they are. Currently I am unaware of them. I say Reformedno Armin-ians, Anglo-Catholics, or Jesuits, please. I could easily identify a hundred historicist
writers in the same time period. My point is this: do not demand historic continuity of dispensationalists, unless you apply it to yourselves. If you apply it to yourselves, demonstrate it. And your readers should be aware that many preterists of today reject any future eschatological eventsincluding resurrection, judgment, and new heavens and earth. I trust you do not advocate such a view. . . .
Jack Van Deventer responds: Hey, we are grateful to have any readers, let alone our dispensationalist brethren. Thanks for your comments, though I think we'll still differ. Darby's teaching of two second comings is referenced in his Collected Writings 11:153-156. The reference to Shepard's teaching, though not relevant to the origins of dispensationalism, appears exaggerated. Shepard himself contrasts Christ's spiritual "coming to call the Jews" with the actual, physical "second coming" (i.e.,not two "second comings" as per Darby).
On your other point, I have not claimed that preterism is the "historic Reformed position" (a quote that does not appear in my writings), but Kenneth Gentry traces preterism back to the early church fathers (especially Eusebius), which antedates Darby's dispensationalism by 1,500 years. The continuity of dispen-sationalism was not the subject of the article, hence no demands to that effect were made. The subject was the origins of dispensational premillennialism. And as Dabney noted, "[T]he best arguments against bad institutions are drawn from their history. The readiest way to
explode unreasonable pretensions is to display their origin."
[In support of Doug Wilson's editorial response to Gary North (Vol. 7, No. 4)], I recently read Gary North's enthusiastic review of classical Christian education and especially noted his taste aversion for Latin. I immediately recalled my first exposure to the concept of classical education in the summer of 1977. The Journal of Christian Reconstruction (Vol. IV, No. 1, 1977, ed., Gary North), had reprinted Dorothy L. Sayer's article, "The Lost Tools of Learning," (1947).
In returning to examine this source I found the following delightful words from the editor, Gary North (pp. 3-4): "The classic essay by Dorothy Sayers, 'The Lost Tools of Learning,' presents a compelling theory of how children learn. There are three stages of educational development, she argues, paralleling the three educational disciplines of the Middle Ages, the Trivium. The first stage of the Trivium is grammar; the second is dialectic or logic; and the third is rhetoric. Children master memorization when they are younger. This is the time to teach them Latin, the multiplication tables, names and dates, and all the songs and Bible verses they can cram into their skulls, which is considerable. Then they start questioning everything. Fine; teach them logic at that age. Finally, they put things together into coherent wholes.This is the time to teach the principles of civilization, the interrelationships of religion and culture, and other broadly used concepts. When we abandon the Trivium, we abandon proper method."
I don't always agree with you, but I really enjoy your magazine (with the exception of a horrible and filthy article one of your authors wrote a few issues back a la Harlot-quin Romance pornography about a bachelor religious who slept next to a woman. This article was not a case of literature or art being in the eye of the beholder; it was defiling).
Your issue about the Jewishness of Christianity was good and true. Roy Atwood's article "The Covenantal Roots of Culture" and Douglas Jones's "Dispensational Catholicism" especially stood out to me. I am a Seventh Day Baptist, and one of our distinctives is that we are a covenantal people.
What I would like to say is that Sunday-keeping is a "Greek" kind of Christianity, while Sabbath-keeping is a Jewish (and pre-Jewish part of the "Christian gospel preached to Abraham beforehand") kind of Christianity.
The Sabbath is equally as Christian as marriage, which also originated in Eden. Both are types of the kingdom of heaven on earth and of the kingdom of heaven as it will ultimately be. Both also remain literal and current. The Sabbath is as Christian as honoring our parents.
I pray that some day refreshing "radicals" such as yourselves will radically and unshakably forsake the Roman and Eastern ways and returned to the old, enduring and beautiful Christian Sabbath. It surely can't make you any more weird in the eyes of the world of status quo Christianity than returning to the old, true, and godly ways advocated in your excellent article "Virgins and Vows."
Many thanks for your work in Vol. 6, No. 5 [Eastern Orthodoxy] of Credenda/Agenda. It was an answer to prayer! This week I wrestled as never before with pro-Orthodoxy arguments and prayed in anguish that God would grant more light on the subject. The next night a friend called who had himself just received your publication for the first time. . . .
St. Louis, MO
Thank you for your excellent magazine. It is the best Christian publication I have ever seen. Even though I am in the dreaded "anabaptist" camp, I appreciate your intellectual and scriptural integrity in dealing with the broad range of subjects that you courageously tangle with. Though at this point I am not in agreement with your positions on some important issues, I am always challenged to prayerfully think through your position. . . .
As a homosexual Christian who receives your magazine, I wish you to know I thoroughly enjoy it. Please be aware that there are a lot of homosexual Christians, a great many who are celibate, who read your magazine. . . .
The feminine form of "dude" is not "dudess" but rather "dudette" (Verbatim, Vol. 7, No. 4). Don't ask me whyall I know is that everyone uses "dudette."