Time for Change| Christianity in Need of a Paradigm Shift!
Guest article by Larry Siegle
A RADICAL PARADIGM SHIFT–THE NECESSITY OF IT.
Recently, someone, in a discussion group made the following observation about Covenant Eschatology and the necessity of a “radical paradigm shift” rather than simply an “add on” to other doctrinal systems. It is a statement with which I would affirm.
Although I have witnessed various attempts to simply “add” Covenant Eschatology to whatever “orthodox” doctrinal system found among the historic denominations, everyone has been a complete and utter failure. Why? Because all of the “traditional” churches have entrusted themselves to various theological systems that are wholly incompatible with the message of fulfillment. The historic, “orthodox” doctrines, built on councils, creeds and confessions are FUTURISTIC in their structure and in the development of those practices associated with them.
Scholars, theologians, pastors and teachers, have set about to defend the indefensible, employing a hermeneutic of both concealment and contradiction to that which is found in the inspired Word of God. Only recently have some within academia set about to examine the text apart from the Hellenistic mindset that shrouded the church in darkness for nearly 2,000 years, and returned to the distinctly Hebrew thought-world of the Old and New Testaments. Progress has been made in adjusting the lens to discover the historical narrative of Scripture as the basis from which any Systematic Theology is possible.
The work of the Reformers was that of freeing genuine believers from the sinister control of the Papacy that kept people in bondage to a humanly devised system of merit and works in order to gain favor with God. Luther, Calvin and others that followed, opened the eyes of people to faith rather than works as a means of salvation. Unfortunately, these same Reformers failed to comprehend much of what the Bible taught about the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It is time for a change!
It is the wholesale recognition that the “righteousness of God” is a declaration of HIS covenant-faithfulness in the fulfillment of the “promises made to the fathers” (Rom. 15:8). The problem of “sin and death” (Rom. 8:2) that entered into the world through Adam (Rom. 5:12) was taken up by the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the “nation” of Israel and carried forward until the “fullness of the times” arrived, when “God sent for his son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4:4). Jesus came to “save HIS PEOPLE from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Jesus was the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Bible affirms the centrality of Israel in the accomplishment of His “purpose of the ages” (Eph. 3:11).
Israel had failed in their God-given mission to serve as a “light to the nations” (Isa. 42:6; 49:6). It was with the arrival of Jesus as Israel’s Messiah, that HE became the embodiment of Israel, “A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luke 2:32). God used Messiah to gather together ALL of the “sin of the world” (John 1:29) into ONE PLACE–the “death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8) in order to open up the “new and living way” (Heb. 10:20) through which “sin and death” was defeated and Jew/Gentile could be brought together into “one body” (Eph. 4:4; I Cor. 12:13). It was the “righteousness of God”–His covenant-faithfulness that made the provision possible for people to be set free from sin and death.
The salvific work of Christ and his “death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8) was carried forward through the “firstfruit” (James 1:18) believers–the “remnant according to the election of grace” (Rom. 15:8), the 144,000 from among Israel who were called out (Matt. 16:18) of Babylon the Great (Rev. 18:4)–the Old Covenant system of things, and into the New Covenant (II Cor. 5:17). The “ministration of death” (II Cor. 3:7) was stripped of its power through the cross, and as the “strength of sin” was defeated at the resurrection in 70 CE (I Cor. 15:1-58).
The constituent elements of Biblical fulfillment are wholly incompatible with the present-day churches of Christendom; it is time for change. In order to embrace the principles of what the Bible actually teaches, requires a reexamination of every assumption that has been carried into the text by “tradition” and false thinking. It requires believers to take a stance of resistance to pablum being fed to them weekly from the pulpit. The tension that exists between those looking FORWARD to the end, and those whose understanding has brought them to the conclusion that the expectations related to the “end of the age” (Matt. 24:3) have ALREADY been realized, represent a case of “irreconcilable differences”. The chasm is simply two great to cross and to maintain peace and harmony within the confines of a local assembly.
The challenge of post-modernism and doctrinal relativism continues to erode the very foundations of historic “orthodoxy”. An entire generation has bought into the notion that the Bible is no longer authoritative, or the inspired Word of God. It is time for change! The TRUE basis of Biblical fulfillment rests solely on the foundation of the integrity and authenticity of the written Word of God as the Source of the revelation of Himself to humanity. The churches of Christendom have compromised for the sake of growth and larger numbers, with millions of people present who come to “feel good” and to be entertained, rather than challenged by a “thus saith the Lord” from the text.
In order for the continued growth and prosperity of Covenant Eschatology to continue, there must be a commitment to the eventual necessity of severing ourselves completely from the present, institutional church system, for a more Biblical model that has believers devoted to prayer, service, giving and faithfulness to the Word of God. There must be programs established whereby people are both prepared and equipped for ministry in taking the authentic “good news” to our friends, neighbors, relatives and others. The false notion that believers are somehow just “straying pilgrims” on a journey toward the “promised land” through the “wilderness” must be replaced by the victorious understanding that God has kept ALL of His promises and fulfilled ALL of His Word. Victory is NOT something to be attained through “process” but rather through a realization that God’s work in redemption is NOW an accomplished reality to be lived out with a sense of both joy and gladness.
Covenant Eschatology is NOT an “add on” concept that can be neatly attached to any of the historic creeds, councils or confessions without rendering BOTH powerless. Such a mixture is no more possible that combining oil with water or light with darkness. The power of the “gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16) lies with living out the principles of victory that were promised. Truth must ever remain the objective–nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. It truly is time for change!