Bock

Thinking about Iran 06/22/09

I am in Berlin to lecture tonight and tomorrow at a Messianic community here on the gospel. Yesterday I was roaming around Berlin, a fascinating city. I went back to one of my favorite spots, the Kaiser Wilhelm church. It stands in semi-ruins as it was struck by bombs one night during the World War II, The new sanctuary, built to its side, is modest but stunning.

I am in Berlin to lecture tonight and tomorrow at a Messianic community here on the gospel. Yesterday I was roaming around Berlin, a fascinating city. I went back to one of my favorite spots, the Kaiser Wilhelm church. It stands in semi-ruins as it was struck by bombs one night during the World War II, The new sanctuary, built to its side, is modest but stunning. As I was coming out of the church, I was met by a march of solidarity for the Iranian protesters and those who have died marching Tehran. Several thousand people marched here. Many of them were Iranians who live here, but mixed in with them were many Germans, some of whom experienced their own freedom through marching in 1989. I have been struck by the courage of those who have been marching in Iran (as well as the size of the turnout to vote- a number our elections never touch). Maybe when one has freedom, the risk is to take it for granted.

What is happening is significant. An editorial today in Die Welt (a national German paper) makes the point that once the glimpse of freedom comes, then those who promise it but do not deliver it are in trouble. That is what has happened. We can only watch and hope that Iranians get to keep their new found voice and the opportunity for dialogue it could create.

Berlin Demonstration- Sign Says "Stop the Murder and the Repression"

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    Brett Williamss

    Iranian voter turnout vs USA
    Dr. Bock:

    You wrote:
    “I have been struck by the courage of those who have been marching in Iran (as well as the size of the turnout to vote- a number our elections never touch). Maybe when one has freedom, the risk is to take it for granted.”

    If you have a good memory, you will remember my position on Islam.

    I would offer another suggestion as to why Iranians are so convicted about voting, as well as other “political” issues. When you grow up your whole life under the angst of Islam (idea taken from Dr. Caner), never knowing if you will enter heaven, your whole life is about earning heaven, you will do whatever it takes to gain heaven. Nothing else matters…nothing! Muslims are not just expressing their political rights; this falls within the angst of Islam.

    Also, Iranians are not looking for a political solution to the circumstances; they don’t compartmentalize like America does. The USA has moved religion out of the voting process; in Iran, that’s the most prominent issue. All want Islamic law, some want a more liberal form of it, but Islamic nevertheless.

    These are not millions and millions of Muslims being fanatical about voting; it’s about Islamic religion and law and their proper expressions.

    But as Dr. Caner observes, you can not rid yourself of the “angst of Islam” no matter how hard you try. Fanaticism is entirely to be expected. I think this partly explains why untold numbers turn to Christ during the Tribulation. From where do they come? From Buddhists? From Hindus? From Muslims? Yes, from the 1.6 billion and growing Muslims. This is why I recognize many Muslims as being redeemed. They are not part of the Church, but they are redeemed (as in the OT sense where there were many redeemed groups of God fearers).

    Brett

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      bock

      Voter turnout dlb

      Brett: 

      Not sure this is an either/or, especially since the percentage (even if exaggerated) was higher than normal for the locale. There is something going on there.

      As for your category of the redeemed, it raises important theological issues and has some problems as stated above. God fearers in the NT still are responsible for engaging the gospel. This is part of the reason God sends the gospel their way (as God does in Acts). 

      dlb 

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        Brett Williamss

        Dr. Bock:
        I agree with your

        Dr. Bock:

        I agree with your observation about the gospel being sent to the NT God-fearers, like Cornelius. I know many believe that Cornelius was not “saved” until he believed the NT gospel about Jesus Christ. But I would disagree, rather strongly. I see Cornelius as a redeemed man before the NT gospel got to him. He was a saved/redeemed man under the OT covenant, but he was not a member of the bride of Christ. He was in the OT group of God-fearers, those who did not become full proselytes.

        So, during the NT period, shortly after Peter began his ministry, he was led to Cornelius, a Gentile, but redeemed. I find this transitional time of interest. My theology has no problem with their being multiple groups of redeemed people, some Christians (members of the Bride of Christ), some Muslims (members of another NT redeemed group), some in tribal religions. In other words, it took this incident with Cornelius for Peter to see the much bigger picture:

        10:34 Then Peter started speaking: “I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism in dealing with people, 10:35 but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is welcomed before him.”

        Brett

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          bock

          Agree? dlb

          Brett:

          Actually this is not agreement. The point of sending the gospel is to bring someone into blessing who was outside of it. This is why Cornelius represents in Acts a Gentile who has found salvation. Acts does not hold the view Cornelius transitioned from one saved state to another. The view you have, even in a transition period, has serious problems (including an ignoring of Romans 3). Peter’s remark in Acts about no favoritism is because of what he is about to preach, not because of where Cornelius is without the gospel. The result of your view is that Christ need not be preached because people are in without embracing him. In fact to preach him might put people at risk, since then they can reject him and lose potential status. To have multiple entry points runs headlong into Acts 4:12. Sorry to be so direct, but I really have major issues with your multiple redeemed model in terms of key NT texts.

          dlb

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    Brett Williamss

    Dr. Bock:
    Don’t worry one

    Dr. Bock:

    Don’t worry one bit about being “direct.” You will note that I anticipated the view you expressed (Cornelius was a condemned sinner, having never turning to God the way Abraham did). I just fundamentally disagree with that. If Cornelius was not a redeemed man before Peter met with him, I think a lot of OT people who worshiped the God of Israel in the OT, like Cornelius had done are likewise not saved.

    Nobody enters heaven apart from the work of Christ upon the cross. Some people say babies or imbeciles go to heaven, not by believing in Christ, but by virtue of not being able to. They are not accountable in some sense, or they haven’t committed some sins. So, here are people entering heaven who did not believe in Christ. And this is in the NT era. If in fact they are in heaven. I think the majority of even Calvinistic theologians teach that.

    Bringing the gospel to those who have not heard the gospel yet does not put them at “risk.” Every human being on the earth is responsible for the information they DO have (Rom 1). All people are accountable based on how they responded to the information they DID have. Some have a lot, some have a little, but all are responsible for whatever “amount” of information they do have. The gospel is the final message in a series of revelations to them. God creates them to know him (and they know a lot about him based on Rom 1; they know his power and nature, they know he is to be glorified, they know God is not pleased with sin… again, all of this information is known BEFORE the gospel is presented to them, if ever), and to seek after him (Acts 17), and all of this is before the gospel is known. It is hard for us to understand why God purposely placed people in areas of the world that have no access to the gospel, but God put them there for the very reason. He loves them, and puts them there so they will seek after him (Acts 17).

    I’m not sure what you mean by the multiple entry points. You believed in Christ, and you were placed into the body of Christ. My friend’s 2 year old daughter died in a car crash. What was her entry point? Surely you don’t want to argue “faith in Christ.” And surely you don’t want to say, “it depends on whether or not she was one of the elect.” And those significantly retarded, with less than infantile intelligence, what is there entry point? How about a tribal girl who falls in love with her creator, she wants to glorify him. What if she were to die before someone got the gospel to her? I shutter to think that Christ would say to her: sorry, you didn’t hear the gospel. To the lake of fire for you. (You could be like Bob Theime and say that if anyone wants to know the truth, God will keep them alive until the gospel gets there.)

    Rom 11.32 God condemned all so that he could have mercy on all. Is that applicable only to the Jews? Why did God condemn the human race? I say, so that he could have mercy on all.

    Anyway, I think the book Who Can Be Saved by Tiessen is an excellent book. Tiessen is a Calvinist, but you can see his struggle with this issue and he has many solutions even with his Calvinistic presuppositions. I’m sure he has been castigated for this book, but it looks to me like he is honestly trying to deal with the love of God and the plight of all humanity, all without giving up his Calvinistic presups.

    I don’t know if you have had the pleasure of knowing godly Muslims. They love the Creator. They interpret Jesus through the lens of the Koran, which distorts who Jesus is. But God judges man’s heart, not the outward appearance. To me, many Muslim go to heaven on the basis of the work of Christ on the cross. If they genuinely fear God and do what is right, they will be accepted by the Lord. (I know we will disagree on doing “what is right.”)

    Anyway, please remember I hold you in the highest regard, and have nothing but respect for you and your desire to glorify our Savior-God. I have learned much about my God and Savior by reading your writings!! Please read my responses with grace and compassion.

    Brett

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    Anonymous

    Revelations
    I’m not big into blogs or even computers, my apologies if i am changing any subjects on this blog but its headline was the closest thing i could find to find any place for this question. In reading the book of revelations, i tried to think of modern day events and connect them. Im probably not the first but have found some disturbing connections. I would really like your input, you guys seem to know the bible very well.

    Revelations 10:1 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.
    Now keep your minds open. I can picture an F15E fighter entering the lower pockets of the earths atmosphere which generates pricipitation (clouds) along its wingspan as it goes into offensive manuevers. From the cockpit a spectrum (rainbow) is visible to the pilot because of the curvature of its windshield. Its propulsion is generated by two powerful Prat & whitney turbine engines (two pillars of fire) and passes with the roar of a lion that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up any time i see one of these fighter jets take off from a carrier on sea toward land where its objective is.

    Also a Tank and A helicopter is described in a scarily close manner in the book of revelations.

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      bock

      Revelation dlb

      This is probably not the way to read the book of Revelation (not Revelations). It was written in the first century and used a genre (Apocalyptic) they used to figuratively discuss reality. So do not think of the imagery as a motion picture that the prophet does his best to describe using ancient terms. Rather it uses common images of the time to point to the reality intended (even if that reality is in the future) through what those images represent. Here the angel pictures heaven moving to act in judgment.

      dlb 

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