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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Mayhue on Premillennialism

I love Dick Mayhue, so when I saw he most recently spoke on NCT and Futuristic Premillennialism (chapel messages here), I thought I'd check it out.

Dr. Mayhue laid out the following seven reasons (no significance to the number seven) why we should have a premillennial perspective:
    1. Premillennialism starts with a hermeutic as the presupposition, not a theology.
A postmillennial or even amillennial approach starts with a theological persepective that determines their hermenuetic, which in return presents their theology in the reading. At this point, Mayhue provides a few quotes from people outside the premillennial camp, agreeing that reading the texts in its most basic form does lend itself to a premillennial approach.
    2. Exegetical Integrity with Revelation 20.
Mayhue presented four rules that should lend to reading "1,000 years" as literally one thousand years:
      a. When we approach a number in the Scriptures, we should always assume it to mean its literal quantity, unless given clues in the text to be taken figuratively.
      b. Even more specifically, numbers when regarding time should be taken literally.
      c. Never is year used in the Scriptures, when attached to a number, that it does not mean the exact designation of time it means...unless you make Revelation 20 the only exception.
      d. The number 1,000 is not used elsewhere in the Bible in a symbolic sense. (Mayhue offers that some will cite Job 9; Job 33; Psalm 50; Psalm 90, Ecclesiastes 6; Ecclesiastes 7 and 2 Peter 3:8...if we look closely we will discover that while they make a point that goes beyond the scope of 1,000 years, they are using the 1,000 years literally to make that point...like Peter comparing a literal day to literally 1,000 years.)
    3. The identities of Israel and the church are distinct in the New Testament.
Mayhue points out that "Israel" appears 20 times in the Book of Acts (always refering to historical and/or ethnic Israel), and "church" appears 19 times in Acts (always referring to believers from the time of Pentecost and beyond.) The terms are never used interchagibly. The church is never called "New Israel" or "Spiritual Israel" in the New Testament. And Israel is never called the church in the Old Testament.
    4. The preservation of Israel as a people, and as a nation, is very, very significant in history.
There has never been another ethnic group that has been persecuted like the Jews, and yet still exists and thrives today. Take a look at all the ethnic groups in Scripture that are extinct today. How could this happen? Consider Jeremiah 31:35-37; Jeremiah 33:19-26.
    5. Abrahamic Covenant and Davidic Covenant are unconditional covenants.
God made them, will sustain them, and will ultimately fulfill them. They are eternal.
    6. All other eschatologies propose: Christ reigns, then He comes. Yet, Scripture seems to present: Christ comes, then Christ reigns.
    7. There are literally dozens of Old Testament passages that promise literal land, kingdoms and provinces. Check out Amos 9 in the MacArthur Study Bible for further notes on this.

Mayhue warns the listener against "Dogmatic Theology," the practice of presupposing a perspective upon the text. Again, this is the idea of letting your theological system inform your hermeneutic. He warns the answer is not to read the Bible with a premillennial hermeneutic either...but simply to let the text speak.

Like a hosehead, I listened to this message first (it was the last in a 5 part series). I look forward to checking out the other four. (And Dr. Mayhue hinted that this will be the content for the next Master's Seminary Journal as well.)


  • At 4:47 PM, Blogger Brad said…

    Perfect. You caught me during spring break. I'll be back shortly.

  • At 9:23 AM, Blogger Brad said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 11:57 AM, Blogger Brad said…

    I'll try to keep this as short as possible.

    1. A postmillennial or even amillennial approach starts with a theological perspective that determines their hermeneutic, which in turn presents their theology in the reading.

    There is a sense, of course, in which it is absolutely necessary to come to the scriptures with some pre-formed theological perspective. I'm sure that Dr. Mayhue's interpretation is informed, at a minimum, by the ideas that God exists, that His word is true, and that He can communicate clearly to man.

    Obviously, however, Mayhue is saying more than this. In his understanding, non-premillennialists come to the scripture with millennial positions already in hand, positions that they've gotten from somewhere other than scripture.

    I'm not sure where he thinks they are getting these positions--the newspaper? best-selling novels?-- all I can say is that in my experience, I was dragged away from premillennialism kicking and screaming, and what had me by the ankles was the scripture and the scripture alone.

    2. Regarding the multitude of scripture passages that employ the "thousand years" language: If we look closely we will discover that while they make a point that goes beyond the scope of a thousand years, they are using the thousand years literally to make that point.

    Brilliant observation. I would agree that Revelation 20 poses no exception to this perfectly consistent usage. I can easily see how John could be using "1000 years" in a literal sense to make a point that goes well beyond the scope of a thousand years. What I don't see is how this lends any support for the premillennial position.

    3. The church is never called "New Israel" or "Spiritual Israel" in the New Testament.

    Right again. She is, however, called "the Israel of God" (Gal. 6:16) and the the "Jerusalem that is above" (Gal. 4:26). Furthermore, gentile believers are called "Jews" in Rom. 2:26-28 and "Abraham's offspring" in Gal 3:29 They are said to be grafted in to Israel (Rom 11) and to be no longer aliens, but rather citizens of Israel (Eph 2).

    4. And Israel is never called the church in the Old Testament

    I'm not sure what Dr. Mayhue means here, taken literally, this statement is just flat wrong. The word ecclesia is used in the Greek Old Testament to denote Israel literally dozens of times. It is used of the Old Testament saints ten times in the Psalms alone: 22:22,25; 26:12; 35:18; 40:9,10; 68:26; 89:5; 107:32; 149:11. Furthermore, Stephen uses the word in his New Testament sermon in reference to Old Testament Israel (Acts 7:31).

    5. Scripture seems to present: Christ comes, then Christ reigns

    I Cor. 15 seems to present the opposite: "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death." (15:22-26, emphasis mine, of course.)

  • At 12:18 PM, Blogger danny2 said…


    i'd really encourage you to listen to his message. then, if you have questions about what he has said, email him...he'd get back to you, i'm sure.

    to be honest, i think you and dr. mayhue have studied the issue of the millennial kingdom (and your opossing views) much more than i have. i feel like i would just be a middle party between the two of you....and just slow up the process.

    that said, i do understand what he is saying about the hermeneutic influenced by the theology. he uses the illustration of genesis 1 & 2 as an example. people decided the creation story was too hard to accept, therefore they developed a theology that would allow for otherwise (theistic evolution--gap theory--etc), and then read it into the text. there is no textual support for the idea that "evening and morning, one day" should mean "era" or "epoch." they form an opinion, develop a hermeneutic that allows for their opinion, then claim the text they read with their hermeneutic validates their theology. it's rather circular.

    he makes the same claim for new covenant theologians. really, check out his message, i think it's rather compelling, but i'd love to hear your feedback about what he says...not just your feedback of what i have summarized what he has said.

    as for the concern that each of us comes at the Scriptures with presuppositions...i'd agree. mayhue would as well. for he encourages the listener to "as much as possible" we have to go to the text without our preconceived notions and allow the text to do the talking. granted, for any of us, it is very hard to not read our traditions or systems into the text.

    however, i think the Scriptures do point to two presuppositions that are correct to have:

    God exists--from the beginning (gen 1:1), to the end (revelation 22:9), the Bible assumes a theistic approach. it does say that the creation declares God's glory and it also that a fool says God does not exist. but for the most part, the Word assumes the person reading will accept that their is a God.

    He rewards those who seek--though the Scriptures declare God's holiness, truthfulness and mercy, they pretty much assume the reader believes God does not cast shadows, or deceive man. it is primarily assumed that the reader understands that this Book will reveal God to them.

    i believe those are the exact presuppositions described in hebrews 11:6. but from those presuppositions (which i believe God actually considers requirements...and of course, i believe God provides the grace to accept those presuppositions), the rest of our systematic theology should be unpacked from approaching the text with a historical/gramatical approach before we impose a theology to the text.

    for instance, while i can see within the text that 2 peter 3 is using terms to extend beyond 1,000 years....i don't see the same indicators in the text in revelation 20.

    of course, as i said before, i've only listened to message 5 (of 5), so i need to work backwards a bit.

    (just a reminder...i appreciate your pushing back!)

  • At 12:24 PM, Blogger danny2 said…


    by the way, i loved your strange brew quote on matt's site.

    back in my pc days (before i repented and turned to mac)...the quote about radiation used to great me everytime i powered up my computer!


  • At 2:43 PM, Blogger danny2 said…


    i think we often see the extreme positions. that the kingdom has come fully or is not here at all.

    i like david well's statement in "above all earthly powers" p257

    here again we find teh "already but not yet." while it is true that God has disarmed the "powers" (col 2:15) and while it is nthe case that all things have been subjected to Christ, his rule is nevertheless contested. it is contested in the sense that while evil is even now under the sovereign rule of Christ, and even though its back has already been broken at the Cross, it has not yet been taken to the scaffold. the Church, therefore, has to be wary as long as it is in this world and must seek the protection of God's armor (eph 6:10-18), grace, and power. we have not yet come to the final moment of conquest when he "delievers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and every power" (1 cor 15:24-25). then all of created reality which has been fractured and broken by the intrusions of satanic disorder will be eternally cleansed.

    it seems that wells would be in agreement that the 1 corinthians 15 has not fully happened yet, but that He will have to come first before establishing this.


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