Why the Traditional coC Eschatology Can’t Answer NHNE

In the churches of Christ, there is a relatively recent debate on the nature of the, allegedly future, New Heavens and New Earth. Articles have been written, speeches given, and lines of fellowship begun to be drawn over this issue.

In the 20s, 30s, and 40s the amillennial eschatology of the coC served its purpose in giving solid answers to dispensationalism. Unfortunately, while premillennialism was deconstructed, it was not replaced by a “systematic eschatology”. The eschatology for many has been “I don’t know what the millennial reign of Christ is, but it isn’t what premillennialists say.” This reactionary eschatology is incapable of offering solid answers to NHNE and preterism because it can only deal with premillennialism. Preterism and NHNE are both born out of this eschatology as attempts to biblically construct something that was left in the ashes of premillennialism.

NHNE advocates have lamented that their view has not been properly represented or dealt with. Unfortunately, welcome to the club! While preterism emphasizes the “at hand” nature of the kingdom of God, NHNE takes a consistent approach to the traditional resurrection theory of the churches of Christ. Both views try to be consistent; the question is which is consistent with Scripture.

Traditional coC eschatology cannot answer NHNE because it ignores the roles of John the Baptist, Jesus, the twelve, and Paul as eschatological figures. In other words, since it is inconsistent with the timeframe and nature of Old Testament prophecy, it cannot give a solid answer to NHNE.

Furthermore, NHNE acknowledges several exegetical oversights of the traditional view. For example, the power behind apantesis in 1 Thessalonians 4 is seen by NHNE advocates. The failure of the traditional crowd to properly acknowledge this argument and others is only turning more to the NHNE teaching.

Those who are studying this view yearn for someone to deal with their arguments honestly. This is why I invite someone within the churches of Christ who holds this view to engage with me on the subject of the timing and nature of the coming of the Lord in a formal, public discussion. My desire to do this is severalfold: 1) I honestly seek truth, 2) I believe that a proper understanding of Scripture, and, therefore God, can improve one’s life (so I feel morally obligated to pursue and preach what I see to be truth), and 3) I believe that this will serve the larger Christian community in allowing them to hear these two perspectives dealt with thoroughly and honestly.

I promise to not treat you as others have. I promise to be open, honest, and, to the best of my abilities, an accurate representation of the character of Christ. I pray that you will do the same.

For my regular readers, this video is not about NHNE, but it does go into some detail on one favorite passage of theirs: Acts 3. Start at 17 minutes unless you want to hear me answer a Bible question on the responsibilities of husbands and wives to one another! https://youtu.be/TACTKBMjLc8

For the record, I do not believe eschatology to be a fellowship issue. Our ‘A’ and ‘Z’ are the same: eternity in the presence of God. I do not believe that one’s understanding of Revelation (‘B’-‘Y’) has any bearing on one’s salvation. Attitude, in my opinion, is far more important.

Have a blessed day,

Daniel Rogers

6 Replies to “Why the Traditional coC Eschatology Can’t Answer NHNE

  1. * good comments about eschatology not being something that everyone gets wrong but getting it wrong isn’t life and death

    * do you feel the same way about the “Trinity” dogma?

    * I’m full preterist (some might say hyper-preterist) but I’m wondering if Acts 1:8 was intended to keep a path open for an Israel-specific event in the future. I’m not saying it does suggest something future but given how the NT uses the prophets it would be following a pattern of “resurrecting” old promises, no? And there are promises of the Jews being back in their land forever, and their children, etc. Just saying it seems like a loose end.

    1. The Trinity is such a complicated subject. I view the relationship between the “Godhead” as a perichoresis. It is an infinite dance of love and relationship that invites us to join. That being said, I am more patient with someone who trying to understand the Trinity. I hope I understood you correctly in that.

      I do not believe that Acts 1:6-8 leaves that option open personally. I believe that the land promises were fulfilled “in Christ” and that there is no future biblically for Israel in terms of their land.

      1. What if someone understands the dogma but neither recognizes the Pope’s authority to create any binding edict (IE: “sola scriptura”) nor the validity of the 40 or so assertions of the Creed of Athanasius? Do you consider that something to part company over?

        What, other than the threats of eternal damnation made in the Creed of Athanasius makes “the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity” scarier to evaluate than the doctrine of the second coming”? I mean, “Trinity” was invented in the 4th Century an unbaptized, sun-worshiping Imperator who wanted Christ for his military exploits while the doctrine of the second coming (in 70ad) was given by Christ in the gospels and by the apostles. When did the words of the posers in Rome become more authoritative than the red letters in the KJV?

        In Paul’s list of essentials, did he mention Trinity? No, he mentioned “one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all”:

        [Eph 4:1-6 CSB] (1) Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, (2) with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, (3) making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (4) There is one body and one Spirit ​– ​just as you were called to one hope at your calling ​– ​ (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) **one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all**.,

        So by that standard, Trinity is not an issue but that there is ONE God and that the one God is the Father IS an issue! It seems pretty clear that it is not the scriptures that are holding “Trinity” up as a Shibboleth, but men.

        1. Ah.. I misunderstood your original comment. Unfortunately, I have not studied the issue as much as you have, so I’m not equipped to make a comment; however, I still do hold to a view that God, the Spirit, and the Christ are all three divine. John’s discussion of the Logos and other passages discussing the preexistence of the Christ are just a few texts to which I would go to defend that position.

          But as for the historicity of it, I haven’t done enough study – especially in the creeds.

          1. To clarify, what I’m trying to point out is not about which view is correct but rather why it is considered an horrific betrayal of all things good and holy to consider that maybe God isn’t scripturally defined in that fashion and to just stick to scriptural assertions, such as:

            [1Co 8:6 CSB] (6) yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from him, and we exist for him. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through him, and we exist through him.

            In other words, we should all be able to agree on 1 Cor 8:6. If we must agree on a Creed, why? None of the assertions in the Creed are made in scripture! It is the hubris of making a 4th century dogma to be more authoritative as to the nature of God, what one must believe to be saved, etc. it “smells” like men, not apostles.

  2. “For the record, I do not believe eschatology to be a fellowship issue. Our ‘A’ and ‘Z’ are the same: eternity in the presence of God. I do not believe that one’s understanding of Revelation (‘B’-‘Y’) has any bearing on one’s salvation. Attitude, in my opinion, is far more important.”

    Daniel, this too is where I stand on this eschatology. Much like the doctrine surround the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Some believe in a non-miraculous indwelling, which appears to be in direct conflict of the miraculous indwelling mentioned throughout the New Testament. As long as we can agree that in conversion and sanctification, the Spirit operates only through the Word, we have fellowship on that point.

    Thanks for your study and effort on these subjects. I am your student at 66 years of age!

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