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Shifting Attitudes

Shifting Attitudes

February 3, 2021 · C.E. Carter

Dr. James White has previously stated on his Dividing Line podcast that he and his team have a rule: “don’t talk about eschatology”, for the simple reason that it can be a divisive and emotional topic. White is a renowned apologist and scholar, whose work has greatly impacted me and many others. His knowledge of scripture and theology is something that I admire very much. That said, compared to men like Gary Demar, Douglas Wilson, Sam Storms, John MacArthur, or even White’s protégé Jeff Durbin, James White isn’t really known for his eschatological teaching. That may be changing soon, according to this morning’s Dividing Line highlight.

Current events always get Christians thinking eschatologically, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of discernment to see that, as of recently, things have changed. When things in the present change, people think about their futures, and about the futures of their children and their grandchildren. This kind of forward thinking, ironically, causes them to consider the meaning of their present efforts. In a previous Dividing Line, White outlined two schools of thought among Christians concerning these present efforts. On one hand there are the escapists, who see the present efforts of the church as exercises in futility, and look forward to a day when they will no longer have to bear with this planet. This is the opinion of teachers like John MacArthur and John Piper, among others. On the other hand there are the endurantists, who see the present efforts of the church as meaningful maneuvers to establish the kingdom on earth, with varying degrees of eschatological success. This is the opinion of postmillenialists like Gary Demar, Douglas Wilson, and myself, as well as many non-postmillenialists as well. To the escapist, today’s efforts are just a means of biding time and converting whoever you can before we all have to get out of Dodge; he sticks around only because the war hasn’t killed him yet. For the endurantist, today’s efforts are strategic maneuvers, and he’s still here because he’s actually trying to win the war.

This is biggest eschatological division that the church must begin to resolve. The nature of the kingdom of God, where it is, whose it is, who’s in it, and what it is doing…these are critical points of doctrine that will determine the church’s disposition towards its work in history. What does scripture say? Are we only to look forward to our own martyrdom, and fail to disciple the world? Or, will we succeed in bringing many to Christ, by means of our endurance?