By Dr. Elisha Weismann
In a recent broadcast by James White, White admitted to being an “amillennialist”, but admitted that he never, ever, debates prophecy, and apparently the amillennial position is of not critical importance to him. James White is also a Calvinist and I believe this is one of the primary reasons he does not take a solid stand on prophecy (and on that note, neither did Martin Luther, nor John Calvin, neither of which wrote a commentary on Revelation). Apparently, the return of Christ is not something of significance in the field of apologetics according to White.
Although there are some Calvinists who are premillennial, White does not appear to be one of them, but does not take the liberty to go into detail as to why. So, we will explain it for him! (We will be accused of “slandering” him because we are “KJVO” anyway, so may as well take some other liberties.)
Although some Calvinists like John MacArthur maintain a premillennial view, any premillennial view destroys the Calvinist interpretation of Romans chapter 9. If premillennialism is true, then Romans 9 must be viewed as a description of God’s plan for a future restoration of Israel instead of an individual scheme for salvation as most Calvinists maintain. Just because some Calvinists do not accept this but rather opine that Romans 9-11 DOES cover this subject EXCEPT FOR those proof texts in Romans 9 does not discount the above fact. Romans 9-11 is clear from the very beginning of chapter 9 that Paul is making the distinction between those claiming some type of rite or right as a result of physical birth in Abraham as opposed to those who actually were the target of the blessings-those born of Isaac instead of Hagar. It is almost imperative that a Calvinist MUST reject dispensationalism in order to maintain their view of Romans 9 as addressing individual salvation instead of what it actually teaches-the corporate restoration of Israel. But, since most Calvinists reject dispensationalism and are either post millennial or amillennial, it is much easier for them to avoid a discussion of prophecy because they find it much harder to defend their views of prophecy than the attempts to defend Calvinism. They are more comfortable defending views that can apply philosophical rationalizing in soteriology than to the subject of eschatology which is not so easy to defend at the same time because many of the proof texts used by Calvinists in their TULIP system are in the context of prophecies. Therefore the Calvinist apologist will have us believe that prophecy is not important.
This could not be further from the truth. For every verse in the Bible that deals with Christ’s first coming, there are 8 that deal with His second coming. The very last book of the Bible deals with the second coming of Christ, and Paul spent 2 entire epistles dealing with the subject of prophecy (1 and 2 Thessalonians). Yet, if the Calvinist can avoid the debate over eschatology, they can avoid having to explain how their soteriological views are at odds with a clear premillennial teaching in the Bible. If the Calvinist can successfully deflect an argument about eschatology, then they can maintain that such verses in the Old Testament (OT) that clearly indicate a future restoration of Israel as a nation can be interpreted as fulfilled by the church and therefore the Calvinist can lay an individual salvation emphasis on OT passages such as Ezekiel 36-37, Jeremiah 10, Isaiah 10 and even Romans chapters 9-11, verses that give a clear distinction between Israel and the Church.
This is why a debate over eschatology SHOULD be addressed by Calvinism and those that oppose Calvinism, and those who oppose Calvinism should force Calvinists to address eschatology because failure to do so permits them to get away with interpreting clearly futuristic passages about corporate Israel into a philosophical debate about the sovereignty of God over the individual wills of men.
We will deal with amillennialism in greater detail in a few weeks. Most of our readers are familiar with the difference between pre and a-millennialism but we will give a short explanation.
What is amillennialism? This view was first made popular by Augustine (following Origin’s allegorical method of interpretation) who popularized the view in his book “City of God” and is now the dominant view of the Roman Catholic Church. Ironically, one Calvinist dating site copies the Catholic definition of amillenialism almost verbatim (See Sovereign Grace Singles compared to the Catholic Answers explanation of amillennialism). It is from 2 Greek words “a” meaning against or “none” and “millenia” meaning thousand. Thus amillennial literally means, no thousand, i.e., no 1,000 year reign as opposed to premillennial thought, which takes Revelation 20:4 literally which says:
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
In fact, Revelation 20 mentions “thousand years” six times. It mentions that binding of Satan for 1000 years (v2), what will occur when Satan is released (v3), how long believers will reign with Christ (v4), how long it will be until those who died in the tribulation will be raised (v5), reference again to believers who reign with Christ for a thousand years (6), and mentions Satan’s release again in v7. Now most amillennialists do not take these verses literally. In fact, many do not take any of Revelation literally at all. Many of the full preterist and covenant persuasion hold that all of Revelation was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. (See our article on Problems With Preterism, Historicism and Covenant Theology and our article against Steven Anderson’s “After The Tribulation” ). They believe that the 1,000 years is figurative and could be 2,000 years, or perhaps 6,000, or maybe even 20,000, anything but a literal 1,000 years. They believe that Satan was bound although there is no New Testament support for this. Peter asked believers in Acts 5:4-8 why they had allowed Satan to fill their heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and Paul mentioned Satan hindering him in 1 Thess 1:18, a messenger of Satan being sent to buffet Paul in 2 Cor 12:7, and warns us not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices in 2 Cor 2:11. It is clear from numerous passages in the New Testament that Satan is not bound.
The amillennialists also hold that Christ is now reigning on earth spritually, in our hearts, and thus Revelation is not a physical reigning on earth but a spiritual reigning. Thus the amillennialist believes that Christ is reigning as King in heaven, and we are His spiritual kingdom here on earth. This means that the amillennialist must ignore or allegorize the lion laying down with the lamb in Isaiah 11:6-9, ignore the borders of Israel given in Genesis 17:7-8, the literal mountains described in Micah 4:2-4, the tree of life in Revelation 2:7, the Lamb feeding us on earth in Revelation 7:17 along with all of our tears being wiped away in verse 16, the fact that Jerusalem will not be occupied by Gentiles or ANY that defile, work abominations or make lies (Rev 21:27) although Jerusalem is now occupied by Muslims and Catholics. It also ignores the Sabbath rests described in Hebrews 4. If Christ is reigning here and now, there are numerous events described in Revelation that should be apparent that obviously are not.
The amillennial teaching also leaves unresolved the birthright of Ephraim given in Genesis 49 which includes the land promises to Israel NOT the church. The blessings that the CHURCH inherited are the spiritual blessings that were inhabited from Abraham which were fulfilled in Christ through the line of Judah. However, the birthright to Ephraim was not to be reckoned by the genealogy! 1 Chronicles 5:1-2. This fact alone serves to refute all postmillennial and amillennial heresy and shows that there is yet a future fulfillment for Israel which will be a remnant of literal, physical Jews. Romans 9:27, Revelation 7:4-8. Jesus describes the thousand years as the kingdom of heaven, a literal, physical heaven where Christ will sit on the throne of David ruling from earth. Jeremiah 33:17, Revelation 3:12, Isaiah 9:7:
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:32-33
Amillennialism is rather simple to refute and thus it is understandable why most Calvinists that hold this view don’t bother spending very much effort defending it and simply hope that it does not become a major topic of discussion in any debate on Calvinism. But suffice it to say, that there is certainly a valid reason why the Reformers, including Martin Luther and John Calvin, didn’t touch the subject of prophecy with a ten foot pole because rightly dividing the word of truth and putting all of the prophecies concerning Israel in their proper place would rob Calvinism of a hundred proof texts used to support individual salvation and their views of election and predestination.
OTHER ISSUES WE HAVE WITH WHITE
We stumbled on to a website called Defending the Faith, promoting a “Apologetics Cruise” featuring James White and Jerry Johnson. Ironically, the url for the Defending the Faith website is called “SovereingCruises.org”. So now apparently God is not only sovereign over man’s will, but also over $500 cruises as well. Jerry Johnson is a member of the Nicene Council organization. The Nicene Council is a NOTORIOUS Roman Catholic council that set the stage for many of the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. On the Nicene Council website, there follows this statement
NiceneCouncil.com was established in 2005 for the purpose of furthering the cause of the Reformation. Though we are Reformed in our theology we are not restricted to one Christian denomination. In fact, we have in our employment and on our board individuals from different denominational backgrounds. We stand firmly on our Statement of Faith and adhere to the early historic, ecumenical creeds and the later Reformed confessions of faith”
Thus it comes to no surprise to us that James White aligns himself with such ecumenical organizations since he regularly supports their “Bible” versions. It is also no surprise that James White is now attacking Chris Pinto for showing that the ESV and other Bibles are part of a Jesuit conspiracy. Part of his defense of the modern versions is citing that Daniel Wallace “debunked” the allegation that Codex Siniaticus is a forgery. One would do well to thoroughly examine the evidence given in “Tares Among The Wheat” * where much evidence has surfaced that proves that Sinaiticus was in fact, the product of Constantine Simonides and was a forgery edited by Tischendorf and presented to the Pope as an ancient manuscript.
For what seems to be several months now, James White has advertised the need for funding of a trip to Africa. Of course, the link then takes you to the donation tab, where the explanation of the trip is found at the bottom of the page after an additional “General Travel Fund” is mentioned, where it says his first trip will be to London to debate Roman Catholicism, and then to Africa to “minister to the saints”, and then to debate Islam with Yusuf Ismail who lives in Ethiopia.
Now we get that any ministry has expenses, especially when travelling out of your home country. A flight from Phoenix Arizona to Johannesburg, Africa, costs an average of $2,000. However, Guidestar reports that Alpha & Omega Ministries, Inc, reported a revenue of nearly $190,000 at the end of the 2012 Fiscal Year (and reported nearly $204,000 in expenses). Now we won’t ask how an apparently small radio and online ministry accrues $204k in expenses and $190k in revenue, but find that such a revenue would amount to an average of $15,000 per month. You mean to tell me that as of August 2013, White has NOT YET raised sufficient funds for a debate that has ALREADY BEEN SCHEDULED???
Now, the Calvinists claim that Paul was a Calvinist. If that were true, then perhaps James White should be making tents (Acts 18:3) to support his mission trips, instead of posting the following about his bike rides on his Twitter account:
4theweek: 228 miles, 12,188 ft. of ascent, 13:50 in saddle. For August: 1,038.56 miles, 59:01 in saddle, second 1k+ mile month in a row.
Now I don’t know how many hours are spent riding a bike 1000 miles a month, but personally if I was an apologist that needed an enormous amount of funds that $15,000 a month does not cover, for the sake of defending the gospel, I certainly would not be spending THAT MUCH leisure time riding a bicycle. It is in my opinion poor stewardship of God’s time, as well as the people who are donating to his website. Apostle Paul worked with his own hands to get his funds 2 Cor 11:9, 2 Thess 3:8-17, etc. Now there’s nothing wrong with riding a bike, but when you are short of funds for “spreading the gospel” then your time should be spent working to get your financial needs met before expecting your audience to foot the bill while you enjoy the wind in your face on a mountain side.
For more of our opinions about James White, see the article he acknowledged, but never responded to. Response to James White.
Be sure to read our critique on James White’s “rebuttal” to Jerry Walls updated 9/3/13
*There has been quite a bit more developments since Pinto’s production of this video that has confirmed even moreso now Pinto’s allegations.