Beware Humpty Dumpty!
"A phenomenon exists, namely, that men who are conscientious and meticulous to observe the exact teaching of the Scripture in the fields of inspiration and the divine character of the Sacred Text, the ruin of the race through Adam's sin, the Deity and Saviorhood of Christ, are found introducing methods of spiritualizing and vamping the clear declarations of the Bible in the one field of Eschatology. So much has this tendency prevailed in the past two or three centuries that, as respecting theologians, they are almost wholly of this bold class. So great an effect calls for an adequate cause, and the cause is not difficult to identify. As previously indicated, when one is bound to a man-made covenant theory there is no room within that assumption for a restoration of Israel, that nation with all her earthly covenants and glory having been merged into the church. There is but one logical consummation--that advanced by Whitby with all its reckless disregard for the Biblical testimony, namely, that a hypothetical grace covenant will eventuate in a transformed social order, and not by the power of the returning Messiah but by the preaching of the gospel." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol.5, p.282
"Whatever the prophetic message may be, it is dependent upon language--simple terms known to all--for its conveyance, and he who tampers with or distorts those terms cannot but reap confusion. The plan of God respecting future things has broken upon the mind of many worthy scholars when they have determined to let the Bible's simple prophetic terminology bear the message that it naturally conveys. At once the entire story of the future becomes clear and free from complications. It is not implied that there are not difficult situations to be confronted; but it is asserted that humble acceptance of the declarations in the natural meaning of them will yield a right understanding of the all-but-complete prophetic message." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.4, p.259
"...if God has really intended to make known His will to man, it follows that to secure knowledge on our part, He must convey His truth to us in accordance with the well-known rules of language. He must adapt Himself to our mode of communicating thought and ideas. If His words were given to be understood, it follows that He must have employed language to convey the sense intended, agreeably to the laws grammatically expressed, controlling all language; and that, instead of seeking a sense which the words in themselves do not contain, we are primarily to obtain the sense that the words obviously embrace, making due allowance for the existence of figures of speech when indicated by the context, scope, or construction of the passage. By 'literal,' we mean the grammatical interpretation of Scripture." - George N.H. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom, Prop.4, Obs.1 (Vol.1, p.47) italics his
The Amillennial hermeneutic is often referred to as "the spiritual method of interpretation." But this misnomer can leave the false impression that such a method is one utilized by Spirit-led men, men of strong spiritual discernment, or men who hold a higher level of appreciation for God's word. Such an impression could be mistakenly ascertained through such passages as the following:
"And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, 'Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.' For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 'For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ." - 1Corinthians 2
That the Amillennial abuse of language in prophetic passages is by no means the concept presented by Paul in 1Corinthians 2 is self-evident, so no further explanation is necessary here. But such a passage as 1Corinthians 2 could, in fact, be misunderstood to vindicate the Amillennial method of interpretation, so such a mistake must be avoided and the obvious misnomer must be rightly understood for what it is.
Sometimes the Amillennial hermeneutic is referred to as "the allegorical method of interpretation." Neither will this label do, for the following reason:
"Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. For it is written, 'Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; for more numerous are the children of the desolate than of the one who has a husband.' And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the Scripture say? 'Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.' So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman." - Galatians 4:21-31
Here, Paul uses the story surrounding Ishmael and Isaac to illustrate God's shifting of his covenant dealings away from Israel and to the Church. Does Paul discard the original story? In other words, does Paul deny the historical occurrences surrounding Ishmael and Isaac, and the line through whom the blessing followed? No. Paul retains the original historical narrative, while utilizing it to make an illustration of God's covenant dealings shifted to a new peoples whom presently enjoy a New Covenant relationship to God. This is not what Amillennialists do with prophecies pertaining to the Messianic Kingdom. They do not retain the original meaning, while merely adding further concepts of spiritual significance to take place during the Messianic Kingdom. No, Amillennialists discard the original meaning of those passages and substitute a new meaning. And this new meaning is to be regarded as the only meaning of the passages. So we see that "allegorical method" is likewise an incorrect label for the Amillennial method of interpreting eschatology.
The Amillennial method of interpretation is more akin to what might be properly called: "The Humpty Dumpty method of interpretation." You may wonder, "Humpty Dumpty?" Yes, Humpty Dumpty. In his book Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll tells a story of Alice meeting Humpty Dumpty, whom held a very unusual understanding and usage of language and terms. Here is an excerpt from the book:
Humpty Dumpty took the book and looked at it carefully. 'That seems to be done right —' he began.
'You're holding it upside down!' Alice interrupted.
'To be sure I was!' Humpty Dumpty said gaily as she turned it round for him. 'I thought it looked a little queer. As I was saying, that seems to be done right — though I haven't time to look it over thoroughly just now — and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents —'
'Certainly,' said Alice.
'And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!'
'I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'
'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. 'They've a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they're the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'
'Would you tell me please,' said Alice, 'what that means?'
'Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. 'I meant by "impenetrability" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'
'That's a great deal to make one word mean,' Alice said in a thoughtful tone.
'When I make a word do a lot of work like that,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'I always pay it extra.'
'Oh!' said Alice. She was too much puzzled to make any other remark.
'Ah, you should see 'em come round me of a Saturday night,' Humpty Dumpty went on, wagging his head gravely from side to side, 'for to get their wages, you know.'
(Alice didn't venture to ask what he paid them with; and so you see I can't tell you.)
'You seem very clever at explaining words, Sir,' said Alice.
This is precisely what we encounter in Amillennialism. Nobody uses such a distortion of language when reading any other books, magazines, or even instruction manuals for home appliances, and so forth. Even poetic language and symbolism is not difficult to understand, not even for school children. And, as pointed out by Dr. Chafer, the Amillennialists only depart from normative exposition in the one field of eschatology. These are very serious and readily apparent problems.
I met an amillennialist once, not too long ago actually, who, by twisting the Ante-Nicene writings the same way he does Scripture, somehow arrived at the strange conclusion Justin Martyr was a Covenant Amillennialist. You see then how these people have devised a means by which they can distort the Bible so as to convey whatever concepts they desire.
Beware Humpty Dumpty
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