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1.07.2009

Reformed theologians less steady on their feet in these areas


This post by TurretinFan brings up two issues where Reformed theologians are a bit, or a lot, less steady on their feet, biblically.

Reformed theologians are valuable because they say what the Bible says. The best of the Reformed school anyway.

The Bible, though, gives little guidance (explicit, but there is implicit guidance) for Reformed theologians when it comes to 1. the so-called intermediate state, and 2. the much-admired and must-be-recognized-as-good flesh body regarding resurrection.

You know that flesh body, that you just blew some snot out of the two holes in your face? Yes, you know what I refer to. MUSTN'T BE GNOSTIC! (Anything is 'gnostic' to modern day Reformed theologians that doesn't jive with thinking and proclaiming the flesh body to be just the most great and cool thing ever (!). Gas bag of snot, blood, and water, lookin' cool!) "Honey! What's that sound you just made? Good thing the guys at the seminary and the church didn't hear that! Flesh bodies are cool!"

"Honey, use the picture of us where we look perfect. Not the ones where we look normal. Our flesh bodies are cool! We're not gnostic!"

"I'm a married seminary graduate, and sex is just GREAT! You can do it in, like, three different positions! The flesh body is cool!"

"I have bones in my hands!!! The flesh body is cool!"

"A godly doctor is going to fix this, honey. Meanwhile we will hide out."

"Honey, it's a delicate subject I know, but we just can't get lazy with our hygiene. Oh my God, honey! Hygiene is spelled so weird! Honey?"

OK, yes, flesh bodies are cool. The flesh is cool. Got it, all you Reformed theologians who aren't fundamentalists. You like ice cream, you like sex, you like to call anything you don't like gnostic. OK.

But saying that our bodies we have now are resurrected yet in a changed state is like saying I can run a four-minute mile, yet only if I have bees' wings.

The correct metaphor is probably the difference between a seed planted, and a flower sprung.

Jesus resurrected in something resembling his old flesh body (with wounds and all) because Jesus had to show He was resurrected from the dead. We don't have that burden on us. And even Jesus, in his resurrected body with wounds and all, could pass through walls and appear and disappear at will.

So enough with the: "So, Nick, your head is all out of proportion to your body? Which makes you very unpopular at church? Right. Get use to it. You'll resurrect in the same body you have now. You'll be like that for eternity. Even though you have no connection to all the DNA that went in to your current body, I mean, nobody is born to anybody in heaven, but still. It's what the Reformed theologians insist on...because FLESH IS COOL AND NOT TO BE DISPARAGED LIKE SOME FUNDAMENTALIST MORON WOULD DO!!! HA HA HA!! BIG HEAD!!!

The caps scare off the faint of heart. No more caps. I have to reach the faint of heart too.

As for the business of the 'intermediate state', which is the term Reformed theologians give their speculations regarding what happens when the unregenerate die.

First off, the Bible doesn't say what happens to the unregenerate when they die. It does say what happens to the regenerate and believing when they die, they go to be with God. The unregenerate, though, enter some ill-defined 'intermediate state' which Reformed theologians can only speculate on the nature of because they can't say anything dogmatically biblical on the subject.

Here's what happens: first you have to broaden your knowledge of the possibilities of what can happen when one dies. 1. annihilation. 2. reincarnation. 3. going to a different place, heaven or hell or what have you. Any other possibilities? They're all pretty much covered in those three.

Yet there is another that Reformed theologians don't know of (though early Christian theologians did know of). It's called recurrence. It's not reincarnation. It is what is to be understood by the biblical phrase 'fullness of time.'

Recurrence means the time you are alive in is living time and never goes away, even though you seem to go away. It can really only be thought of in terms of revolution or a circle, but that is a shallow way to think of it. It is more like a cosmos-like sphere in which develops the fullness of time. Recurrence encompasses all aspects of time. Higher aspects of time. Things the Bible doesn't go into because it would explode the narrative and the teaching. It's not practical to discuss higher aspects of time in the context of biblical teaching.

Recurrence means that when, to our limited perception of time, someone has died they are still in their time. Their living time. Time is not linear, in other words. We perceive it as linear - birth to death - but it is not that, and just to see that see how God perceives time. (And yes there is an interval between the great shocks of death and birth, and perhaps Hades is involved in this interval.) God can act anywhere at any time because He acts from eternity. He is not limited by - or in - time as we are. So, practically speaking, unregenerate at death doesn't necessarily imply reprobation. (And we all know this to be true because we don't instinctively and intuitively feel the need to scream the Gospel message to all people we see every minute of our days, but if unregenerate at death means eternal hellfire at death then we very well should be screaming the Gospel message to everyone at all times -- issues of election aside, we are called to spread the message. Yet we don't - i.e. don't do it frantically every minute of our days - and we don't feel we are falling short. A more paced evangelization is the order of the day. For most of us anyway.)

Now here comes a deep statement: when a person is even to the point of engaging the Word of God itself then their time has started to be counted anyway, so for them recurrence means less. When you are dead asleep in the way the unregenerate are dead asleep recurrence happens without you knowing, but once you begin to awaken your time is then counted and you either graduate or you fail. And failure has its consequences in God's plan. This is why hell exists. This is why the chaff is burned.

The biblical statement that you die once is obviously true. It is the same as saying you only have one portion of living time.

But if one must think in terms of revolutions and a circle of time think of this: there is a great wheel that is the wheel of this Age. This great wheel makes one revolution, then the end of the age occurs. Inside this great wheel are little wheels that represents individual lives. These little wheels turn many times as the great wheel makes its one big and single turn. But this is a shallow way to see living time, or the fullness of time. It can be helpful, but it is ultimately shallow and misleading. You don't 'live many times.' You have one life, but in higher aspects of time that one life develops in ways that our linear perception of time doesn't show. And God can act on us, or in us, in any part of our living time.

Also, briefly, because human experience involves common types and patterns (more so than we like to think or admit) changes we experience in recurrence can be seemingly dramatic, yet really not so dramatic, yet real. Gender would seem a dramatic change, but really not so. We all harbor secondary sexual characteristics in us unmanifested (that would be characteristics that define male and female). Families too are not so different (meaning the ones that are the same type in the finite gallery of types). One can be in one or in another pretty easily. Things like the birth of children can even be a matter of change. It all works out. In the fullness of time.

Now, Reformed theologians, you have to admit that you speculate on where the unregenerate go at death. Some of you say 'soul sleep' (Luther, Tyndale) which is not popular now (Calvin wrote his first doctrinal book against it). Roman Catholics developed a big unbiblical doctrine called Purgatory to tackle, in part, the problem. Reformed theologians obviously don't cotton to that. Some Reformed say the unregenerate at death go straight to hell. Yet hell is what you have to be judged to at the great white throne judgment which doesn't happen until the Second Coming which occurs at the end of time. Some Reformed then say, well, the unregenerate at death go to a 'sort of hell', not as bad as the big bad hell, but pretty bad. And they wait there until the Judgment and they are thrown into the big bad hell.

All speculation.

What happens is things develop in the fullness of time. Time is living. An individual can be regenerated at any part of his time because the Holy Spirit isn't constrained to act in a person's life in a way that conforms to how human beings perceive time.

Kick and scream all you want. Your real problem is you don't understand that there is a difference between recurrence and reincarnation. In recurrence you are the same you. Your time is the same. Your death is one death just as your time is one living time. You don't go back to Roman times, and you don't become an historical figure. You stay you. Yes, there can be change (good change, hopefully) which is what the phrase fullness of times implies. It implies a developing of history and lives within time. All within the limit of God's decreed time in his plan of redemption.

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