Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Creeds, Confessions, Traditions and the Kingdom of God: Part I

I am in the middle of a mini-series (when does a mini-series become a series? Sorry for posting so much lately!) on why I think the Kingdom is not quite here yet. I have posted seven major entires, and included some intermittent quotations. I have plans for a number of additional entries, but tonight I want to take a break and give you sort of a state of the union.

In my extra-Biblical research I have found a wide number of very early Christian leaders and thinkers, especially those who are said to have been disciples of John himself or of one of his disciples, who are Premillennial (most notably Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Terullian, Papias, and Polycarp - and arguably Clement, Barnabas, Hermas, and others). However, I have noticed that explicit Premillenialism is not taught in any of the Ecumenical creeds, nor really in any of the proceeding major creeds or confessions. Further, the Orthodox, Catholic, and Reformed traditions are all more or less Post- or Amillenial.

The only really major traditions I can find that are Premillennial are HIstoric Premillennialism (which includes a number throughout history, and a healthy number of the Reformers, such as Spurgeon), and pretty much all of the various modern Dispensationals (Classic and Progressive and whatever other flavors there may be). I think Premillennialism might still be the minority view if you tally up every Christian's vote for all time.

What do I make of this? I am not sure. I still think, and am willing to defend my position that, the Biblical authors intended to convey a Premillennial eschatology, and I also have the witnesses of a very large number of very early church fathers, and then the couple traditions I mentioned above.

But no creeds, confessions, or major branches of the church? Could I have missed something in the Biblical text? How high of a view do I have of the creeds?

I am thinking it through. I found this Preterist who makes an interesting case against hyper-creedalism. While I might disagree with his eschatological system, I think I might be willing to adopt his view on the creeds. It's still very high, but maintains that they are not to be considered scriptural and so may contain non-damnable errors. Thus when intra-mural theological disputes arise, we are permitted to break with the theology of the creeds if we have a scriptural basis for it.

Augustine, who is famously Amillennial, was Premillennial for a long time before becoming so and maintains that there is room within Orthodoxy for Premillennialism. He cautions Premillennials to not become too materialistic though, making sure we agree that that the goodness of the Kingdom is that we will be fully relationally restored with God, and not that we will inherit a nice shiny world to do with whatever we want.

It seems like he and a number of others maintain that Premillennialism is at least compatible with the creeds. He's a Compatibalist in that way I guess (ha, ha).

In addition to exploring this, today I took a bit of time to read some from Justin Martyr's Dialogue With Trypho, which is amazingly clear and Biblical and ancient and, as previously noted, Premillennial. It is highly recommended.

Stay tuned.


  1. Absolutely the creeds may be in error. They are certainly not inerrant. But, as you seem to note, we should have very solid reasons for disagreeing with them because they represent various times when Christians have come together to devote themselves to very serious study of a particular issue.

    After I read your post in my reader I read the following related post:

  2. I get an error when I type in that URL.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.