Posts Tagged ‘Vic Reasoner’
Dr. Vic Reasoner is one of my favorite Arminian theologians today. His writings are biblical and yet he has in his mind the average preacher of God’s Word as he writes. Dr. Reasoner writes with a conviction that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God and that all doctrine must flow from the Word of God (Titus 2:1).
In this work, Dr. Reasoner goes verse by verse through the epistles of John and Jude. Dr. Reasoner leaves no stone uncovered as he writes. He deals with his text while also including sound Arminian theology in there as well. I appreciate how Dr. Reasoner is willing to deal with tough texts and along the way includes everything from doctrines of salvation, sin, holiness, sanctification, and even end times.
In regard to debated texts such as 1 John 2:1-2 within the Arminian/Calvinist debate, Dr. Reasoner does two things. First he deals with the text in regard to propitiation and then he looks at how Calvinists have understood John’s words in 1 John 2:2 in regard to an unlimited atonement. To the average reader 1 John 2:2 seems to teach that Jesus died for the entire world. John Wesley, for example, taught that Christ’s atonement was as extensive as the curse of sin. In other words, sin has extended to the entire world and likewise the work of Christ is powerful enough for the sins of the entire world. Sinners who go to hell go to hell because of their own sins and the fact that they have not repented and placed their faith in the Lord Jesus who alone can appease the wrath of a holy God by His graceful work of the cross.
The good thing about Dr. Reasoner’s commentaries are that while it is clear that Dr. Reasoner is a sound theologian and knows his content, he writes with the average preacher in mind. As a man who loves expository preaching and practices this art himself, Dr. Reasoner is offering his commentaries to help the preacher preach the text. He wants preachers to work through the text. Therefore his commentaries, as any good commentary will do, works through the letters. I read this work as a devotion. It is that easy to read and follow. So while Dr. Reasoner does dive into the Greek text or the history behind a debate over a text, he writes with the average preacher in mind.
Overall I once again am impressed by this commentary. I pray that Dr. Reasoner will write more biblical commentaries. While I praise God that we have so many good commentaries out there, we need more solid Arminian commentaries and this one fits the bill.
You can find more information about obtaining a copy of this commentary here.
I know that was a long title. I tried to think of ways to make it shorter. I could not.
I rarely dive into eschatological views. I try to limit my blog to mainly defining and defending Arminianism as well as just writing about general Christian subjects. The purpose of this post is not to give a scholarly understanding of the postmillennial views of John Wesley versus the Puritans. I will leave that to others and frankly I am not that good of a writer to jump into such an issue.
Let me begin by stating that it may come as a shock to some that John Wesley was a postmillennialist. When I was first saved, I instantly was taught a premillennial view of eschatology. I was taught the rapture of the Church before the seven year tribulation followed by the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. I remember I use to pray (as my father had prayed) that I would be worthy to be raptured by the Lord Jesus. I would have dreams of Jesus coming back to rapture His Church and I would start to rise only to be dropped back on earth after flying a few feet off the ground (probably because of some sin I had committed).
My eschatology views have changed since those days. I bounced from a pre tribulation view of the rapture to a mid tribulation view before I ended up embracing the postmillennial views of John Wesley. I was shocked when I first learned that John Wesley was a postmillennialist. I honestly thought only liberals were postmillennial (a view still held by some in the premillennial camp I might add). I was unaware that most of the Reformers were either amillennial or postmillennial (Arminius was likely amillennial though not proven). As I studied Church History, I begin to see that eschatology has long been a hotly debated subject. Thus, I have often avoided the issue. It seems to me that Jesus will come back and this should be our starting point. From there we can debate the future but so long as we stay faithful to the fact that Jesus will come again (though I was told once by a lady that I would surely miss the rapture since I didn’t believe in it anymore).
The key difference between the postmillennial views of John Wesley versus the Puritans lies in their salvation doctrines. Wesley, being a faithful Arminian, believed that Jesus died for all men and thus he believe that the doctrine of unlimited atonement was the passion for world evangelism. Further, he believed that the kingdom of God would spread all over the world because of the doctrine of unlimited atonement. The victory of Jesus would go forth in the power the gospel until the end would come and the Lord’s enemies would be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26).
The Puritans passion for postmillennialism was based their view of God’s sovereignty from their Calvinist perspective. Further, the Puritans were divided over how the world would be won to Christ with some saying that it would begin with the top (leaders, authorities and nations coming to faith in Christ) while others held from the bottom (churches preaching in small towns that would spread to the nations with the gospel bringing a mighty revival). Both the Puritans and Mr. Wesley held that God would ultimately be glorified through the preaching of the gospel to all people though the disagreed over the doctrine of unconditional election.
A great book to read on this issue is Dr. Vic Reasoner’s book The Hope of the Gospel. In the book, Dr. Reasoner lays out a biblical and faithful Arminian eschatology based on the doctrines of biblical Arminianism. He shows how the early Methodists were driven by a passion for the gospel for world missions based on their view of the atonement and their view of eschatology. Our eschatological views do matter and they do effect how we live our lives.
A final note on this. It is easy to look around at our sin-filled world and become discouraged. Some premillennialists (and myself at one time would be included here) often do their eschatology based on what they see in the news and not in the Bible. We can look around and see our sinful world and start to believe that surely it will get worst before it gets better. I am the opposite. In fact postmillennialism is the only truly optimistic view of end times. I hold that Jesus will win (as do the others to be fair) and in the end, the gospel will transform our world (Mark 4:30-32). It might not happen in my lifetime but the Lord is faithful to His promises and I believe a great harvest is coming. I long to see sinners saved by the grace of God just as He saved me by His grace.
I close by pointing back to the truth that all true Christians share and that is that Jesus is coming again. Many are passionate for their end times views but I believe that we should have grace toward one another over these issues. I would gladly fellowship with those who do not agree with my eschatological views. One truth that unites us is that Jesus died for us on the cross. This we know (1 John 5:13). We know He will come again (Acts 1:11) though we not know the day nor the hour (Mark 13:32). The hope for the disciple of Jesus is the resurrection from the dead that He secured for us by dying for our sins and through Him we will live (John 5:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). My hope is in the gospel (Hebrews 9:27-28) and not my end times views. I pray that for you as well.
I do say with John, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
I was honored to be able to attend the 2014 Fundamental Wesleyan Conference held at the Southern Wesleyan College in Orangeburg, SC. I was blessed as I listened to brother Mark Horton, pastor of Faith United Community Church in Nicholasville, KY teach us on John Wesley and the early Methodists use of accountability groups as a form of both conversion and discipleship of true saints. He pointed out that George Whitefield lamented at his death that Wesley had done that right, by starting his “bands” for the purpose of accountability and overcoming sin.
The theme of the conference was on Christian perfection. We heard lectures related to that theme. It was pointed out that the Bible calls us to perfection (Matthew 5:48; 19:21; 1 Corinthians 2:6; Philippians 3:15; Colossians 1:28; 4:12; James 1:4; 3:2). We are be a people of holiness (Hebrews 12:14) just as God Himself is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). Yet the modern rise in Calvinism has brought with it the antinomian approach to sin. The Calvinist mindset is that we can never conquer sin even with the Spirit of God abiding within. Our best hope, says Calvin, is Romans 7. John Wesley differed greatly with this and he emphasized that Christians must first rightly define sin and then we can see that the call to holiness is not hypothetical but very real. We can be holy. We can live in a godly life in Christ Jesus. We don’t have to live a life of sinning (1 John 3:4-10). We can “stop sinning” (1 Corinthians 15:34).
While that was all very good teaching, I appreciated Dr. Vic Reasoner speaking on the subject of the need for Arminian publishing of books. He pointed out that less than 50 years ago, there were essentially four major Christian publishers and all were located in Grand Rapids, MI. Those family publishers have since been bought out and now are owned by very large and very liberal companies such as News Corp and Penguin Press. He pointed out that a Christian publisher in Waterbrook Multnomah was recently ousted from the NRB for their willingness to publish openly homosexual and “Christian” authors. Why? Reasoner points out that the bottom line is money.
Reasoner went on to discuss how he had a friend who was asked by his publisher to remove things from his work because it was too offensive or didn’t follow the policies of the publisher.
Reasoner also talked about how most of the major books today are Calvinistic especially in the area of discipleship and Biblical studies. This, he said, must change but it will not so long as the publishers are only willing to publish what they deem follows their agenda or makes them money.
The need then is for Arminian publishing to arise. The Nazarene Publishing House (NPH) is closing its doors in December. The NPH had once been a vital Arminian voice publishing the works of Wesley and Arminius. My own copies of Arminius’ works came from the NPH. Other Arminian publishers such as Pathway Press (Church of God, Cleveland, TN) and Gospel Publishing House (Assemblies of God) are avoiding theological books these days and are not a major player in publishing Arminian books.
During the 18th century Wesleyan revival here in the West, the Wesleyan movement published thousands of books mainly in London. These works went out into the world and impacted a generation. It was not uncommon for even Calvinists to be reading Wesleyan books on theology or Bible commentaries. The works of Adam Clarke and Thomas Coke both were used by God to send forth sound Arminianism. Even Charles Spurgeon owned a well used copy of Clarke’s Bible commentary. The sermons of Wesley and Asbury were published and sent forth. The works of John Fletcher or Richard Watson were sold all over the world. It was a book by Daniel Whitby that led John Gill to write his book countering the rise in Arminianism.
My point here is that we do need Arminian books and Arminian publishers. I urge you to pray for this endeavor. Dr. Reasoner and the Fundamental Wesleyan Press is teaming up with a few other smaller Arminian publishers to seek to get out Arminian books. Pray that the Lord is glorified in this work. Pray for the finances to come forth for this work. Pray that solid biblical truth goes forth.
I don’t write much about eschatological issues here. It is not my cup of tea. It’s not that I don’t hold to a position on end times, it’s simply that I don’t use this blog to get my views out. Part of this reason is that my views have changed over the years. For example, when I first started blogging back in 2007, I was a premillennialist. I even taught a Bible study once called, “Seven Reasons Why I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.” My views since have changed drastically on these issues.
Dr. Vic Reasoner was once such brother who I read from and who helped to change my views. His commentary on Revelation was from a partial preterist viewpoint and then his book, The Hope of the Gospel, explored the early Methodist views on eschatology. When I first was saved, I began to read John Wesley and was struck by his never mentioning the rapture. I assumed that all Christians believed in the rapture of the church. I was struck by Wesley’s lack of emphasis on it being the last days. I assumed Christians had always held that we are living in the last days. But Reasoner shows that the early hope of the Methodists was the gospel itself. In fact, it was the gospel that drove them to embrace postmillennialism. Their Arminianism informed them that they believed in an unlimited atonement and this doctrine set them out to preach the gospel to all nations. It was their belief in unlimited atonement that pushed them to embrace postmillennialism.
Now I know that some Arminians still hold to both premillennialism and to amillennialism. I am aware that disciples can disagree over these issues and still serve the Lord tougher, still enjoy fellowship, still worship the King, etc. This is not an issue of unity nor am I trying to stir up the pot by pointing readers to read Reasoner’s book. I do believe he makes a strong case both for postmillennialism and how Arminians should embrace this view. I highly recommend the book and encourage you to study it out (even if you don’t agree with postmillennialism). For Arminians, the history of Arminianism is strong in Reasoner’s book.