Monday, August 27, 2007

Ern Baxter Resources on the Victorious End Times!

I have been quite challenged over the past few days about the lack of a standpoint - especially among UK churches and UK bloggers as compared to elsewhere across the world concerning eschatology or the end times. Disagree with John MacArthur as I may - the man must be given credit for faithfully teaching the view of the end times that he believes. I noticed that Dr. Kim Riddlebarger, senior pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim, California, and visiting professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary, California has issued an article refuting John MacArthur's extraordinary attack on Reformed amillennialists from earlier this year.

So amillenialists are speaking out and answering back. But amillenialism seems to me to be virtually as fatalistic and pessimistic as premillenialism. I noted with interest that John MacArthur didn't seem to make any interaction with postmillenialism at all in his Shepherds Conference "rant". I wonder if that signifies he doesn't see much credibility in this viewpoint anymore. It's not so much that the teaching of premillenialism troubles me (although it does), it is more that certain issues and subjects do need to be dealt with - such as the question of Israel (Romans 9) or the outworking of certain Scriptures in Revelation.

So what I wanted to do in this post was to begin to bring together some useful resources by Ern Baxter that begin to best represent what I feel to be the most Scriptural view of the end times after offering a few simple definitions of what postmillenialism is.

If you have got this far in reading and are already beginning to turn off at the overuse of theological terms, then I beg you - don't! I have gathered together a number of quotes that really emphasise that it DOES matter how we view the end. For example, my favourite quote was of David Holden's from the Brighton Newfrontiers Conference in 2000. He said;

"Your eschatology affects your ecclesiology".

In other words if you view the end negatively and fatalistically then you will live negatively and fatalistically. If you view the end with hope, vision and a positive outlook then your world mission will be affected for the better. My concern is that holding a premillenial or amillenial eschatology might also make one lazy. If it is all going to "get sorted after the Second Coming" then where is the motivation or the impetus to go out to all nations and spread and take the gospel? If all the promises in the Old Testament and New concerning the end times are to be fulfilled after Jesus has returned (or in some millenium) then where is the faith factor to cry out to God for the "Latter Rain" or to see "Zion made a praise in the earth" or to see "nations flow up to Zion"?

So with that in mind, someone reading this might ask, "Well what on earth does each millenial position mean or believe?". Here is a useful diagram that seeks to sum up the essence of each position;

What is 'Postmillenialism'?

Wikipedia seemed a good albeit basic place to start my study and review of postmillenialism. It distinguishes between two different forms of seeing how the end times will pan out. The first is "Revivalist postmillenialism";

"Revivalist postmillennialism is a form of the doctrine held by the Puritans and some today that teaches that the millennium will come about not from Christians changing society from the top down (that is, through its political and legal institutions) but from the bottom up at the grass roots level (that is, through changing people's hearts and minds)".

As opposed to Reconstructionist postmillenialism;

"Reconstructionist postmillennialism, on the other hand, sees that along with grass roots preaching of the Gospel and explicitly Christian education, Christians should also set about changing society's legal and political institutions in accordance with Biblical (and also sometimes Theonomic) ethics ... In the United States, the most prominent and organized forms of postmillennialism are based on Christian Reconstructionism and hold to a reconstructionist form of postmillennialism advanced by Gary North, Kenneth Gentry, and Greg Bahnsen".

I am relatively familiar with the Reconstructionist postmillenialism stand as my home church had quite a bit to do with the Reconstructionist teachers during the 1980's as I was growing up. Both David Chilton and Greg Bahnsen came and spoke at a meeting in our church on the end times and my senior pastor Stanley Jebb promoted a number of their books. Also Dr Jebb and the theological students he was training went to a conference in the UK to hear R J Rushdoony before he died. I understand that the Chalcedon Foundation is the strongest Reconstructionist resource left today.

Dr Ern Baxter Resources on the End Times.

"It's time to get men like Bryn Jones, Ern and Arthur Wallis off the shelf and soak ourselves in their revelation again. If we cannot justify our existence as a distinct people then we have no right to exist" - Keri Jones

a. Sermons.

Ern Baxter made a number of references to the end times and his view of "Ultimate Triumph" in a number of sermons. Here are the key ones;

"Thy Kingdom Come!" - Ern's monumental address to the Kansas City Shepherds Conference in 1975 (that I now understand Larry Tomczak and C J Mahaney were present at). It was heard by thousands of apostles, prophets, evangelists and mainly pastor/teachers. It is presented in parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

"The Land" - This key sermon was part of Ern Baxter's series "Where Are We Going?" preached at the Dales Bible Week 1976. It is posted courtesy of George Kouri.

"Sovereign Surprises" - As will become clear Ern Baxter was a proponent of the "Revivalist Postmillenial" position. He believed fervently that God can and indeed has come in mighty outpourings of the Holy Spirit throughout church history and it is through revival that God will wind up history with His Church a glorious Bride (Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones held similar views on revival). Ern preached this sermon at New Covenant Church in Dunstable, UK in September 1983: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

"How Must the Glorious Church of God Function?" - Ern Baxter taught vigorously that Restorationism was indeed a biblical hope - one that we should look for and work for. In this sermon he teaches practically how restoration should work itself out. He covered unity, signs and wonders and life in the Holy Spirit. Here's a quote;

"The disciples had to enter into a dynamic experience to enable them to function in community and in outreach - We must know personally the Pentecostal Experience".

The transcript is here with some additional links to Newfrontiers resources.

"What on Earth is God saying about Discipling the Nations?" - This is quite possible THE key sermon of Ern Baxter's on the End Times and how he believes the Church must work and look towards it. It was deeply Biblical with a vast amount of Scriptural texts used.

b. Interviews.

Ern Baxter's view that the Church would end up gloriously dominant throughout the earth with nations bowing to the Lordship of Christ came through in various interviews he gave also - mainly to the New Wine Magazine. Here are the main two I have transcribed so far;

"Regarding William Branham" - although much of the discussion was focussed around Ern's experiences of working with Branham there is a great deal of conceptual argument for how the Church should be expecting and experiencing the anointing of signs and wonders that Branham manifested personally.

"Declaring God's Purposes" - An interview given in January 1980 to New Wine focused around the prophetic significance of what God is doing in our day and what He will do in years to come.

c. Articles.

"A Demonstration of His Glory" - Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 - concerning Ern Baxter's time of very significant ministry that he spent in the United Kingdom in 1977. He and Ruth came to the huge Dales Bible Week run by Bryn Jones and Harvesttime but attended by most of the major charismatic church groups including Terry Virgo and what was to become Newfrontiers, Gerald Coates and what was to become Pioneer People, Tony Morton and his churches from Southampton - along with other significant people in the UK charismatic scene including Arthur Wallis and Stanley Jebb. It was so significant because it was a time of remarkable unity where the Charismatic Movement in the United Kingdom stood together particularly in spiritual warfare. It was a remarkable year of unity visited by angelic manifestations especially - Ern makes reference to these.

"The Earth is the Lord's" - Part 1 and Part 2; "The Foundation of Victory" - Ern deals with a statement in Scripture that this is true NOW!

"Why the Ebb?" - Anyone with an acquaintance with church history will know that revivals have come and gone. Ern Baxter was uniquely positioned to see moves of God come and go. He lived through the Pentecostal Movement, the Healing Movement with William Branham, the Latter Rain Movement and the Charismatic Movement. But he was never satisfied with them - he always wanted, prayed for and expected and looked for more. In this autobiographical statement, he answers the question why revivals seem to ebb due to man's lack of belief.

d. Smooth Stones from Ancient Brookes (Quotes):

Here is an increasingly growing collection of quotes (not just from Ern Baxter) on an optimistic eschatology and why it is essential to daily living.

And Finally ...

The series of messages - "Ultimate Triumph" - really is for me Ern Baxter's key addresses concerning how we should see the end times through the scope of the Word of God. He carefully goes through each of the key sections of the Bible and teaches how we should have hope and faith to motivate us into action and mission. Here are the three parts;

1. Ultimate Triumph - Prophesied in the Old Testament.

2. Ultimate Triumph - Inaugurated in the Gospels and Acts.

3. Ultimate Triumph - Consummated in the Epistles and Revelation.


Anonymous said...

John MacArthur didn't deal with post-millenialism because noone thinks it's a credible theology anymore. One need only watch the news to see that.

Dan Bowen said...

Well Anonymous, I know I'm breaking the habit of a lifetime by responding to you but I like R J Rushdoony's quote on that matter.

He said that he doesn't get his theology from the news - he gets his theology from the Word of God.

James B said...

This is a really useful resource Dan - thanks so much for this! I must admit it is really helpful to have the massive archive of resources distilled down into particular subjects so they can be accessed. Could you do that with other articles and interviews maybe?!

As for Anonymous's comment ... well I'm no theologian but I think I would rather be a happy, optimistic guy with a vision to get me through the suffering and the tribulation that may come rather than a bitter, cynical shrivelled old man that sees no end in sight apart form teh return of JC! (I'm not saying Anonymous is an old bitter man of course ... it could eb a she!).

But didn't the Word of God say that Jesus was anointed with teh oil of GLADNESS above all His fellows?

Anonymous said...

I agree this is an incredibly important issue. I must admit I have never really connected the importance of an eschatology affecting how we live in the here and now. My background as a Pentecostal is of course pre-millenial so I am incredible interested in the concept of a Charismatic but Restorationist and Post-millenial!

Can you identify whether you (and Ern) would see eschatology as central to the Gospel - ie. affecting our Gospel preaching, and just how key this positive eschatology is?

Dr Stanley Burgess

Don said...

wow wow wow! I'm very happy to have this collection of links, Dan, to refresh myself on Ern's teachings in this area.

Dan Bowen said...

Thanks Don!! Glad you approve and hope you enjoy!! I am becoming increasingly persuaded that it is vital teaching to refresh ourselves with in the face of fatalistic, pessimistic eschatologies that are around.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that this is turning into a serious discussion. Eschatology is a secondary issue in light of the Cross and it has proved time and again to be divisive.

Dan Bowen said...

Well secondary as it may, who has the right to decide that secondary issues are not up for discussion? I am sure that you would see the issue of women wearing hats in Church as a "Secondary" issue yet Paul still saw fit to discuss it in 1 Corinthians. I wonder - do you discuss it? Or does your zeal for the Cross forbid you? Yes I agree that eschatological viewpoints are not reason to break unity over but this blog does not limit itself to not discussing anything that may or may not be "secondary".

To be quite frank I find it troublesome that "all Scripture is profitable for teaching, direction" etc and yet some Christians feel free to allocate certain favourite doctrines as superior to others.

Sermon over ... for now ;)

jul said...

Dan, don't forget that your view of gender roles is NOT secondary to the cross (and is certainly far more important than end times 'stuff'), but is central to the true gospel.

Since my humor is often missed, I'll point out that I'm being a little sarcastic there...

Dan Bowen said...

How COULD I forget?!?! Must be that "old man" within me cropping up and taking over my typing. I'll have to go recite Wayne Grudem's Feminism book before I go to bed every night as penance!!

And since my humour is often missed too, I too am being sarcastic!! ;)

Dan Bowen said...

I mean Wayne Grudems Anti-Feminism book of course, lest anyone worry he's changed his mind on women as well as baptism ...

Scott said...

LOL!! :D