September 8, 2013

How Could It Happen? The Journey from Truth to the Liberalism of A-millennialism

Recently we discussed the tragedy of young, immature men in the ministry who have been drawn into errant theology by intellectuals who pretend to be loyal to the scripture. (The Emerging Church: How Do You Know When?) I have no obligation to protect those who are responsible for this moral crime and no obligation to protect those who allowed themselves to drawn into theological error.  I have repeatedly demonstrated how the path to liberalism is a gradual process.  Those who have chosen to abandon the one biblical hermeneutic may move along this treacherous route quite slowly, while others hasten to their fall from truth.

With a great deal of grief, I think of a young man who, by the grace of God, sat under the teaching of godly men and was shown the value of biblical text, but who later made the mistake of listening to those who have left the authority and sufficiency of scripture. Those teachers were intellectual and philosophical, and that combination often leads to an arrogance which allows folks to twist the text in such a way as to produce their own desired ends.  It is simply a rewriting of the scripture.  The end result was that the student, in a very short time, moved from a biblical context to a tragic end with the liberalism of amillennialism.

This heartache sent me on a search for an answer to the question, “How could this happen?”

It dawned on me that almost every day I have contact with people who ought to know better, but who appear to be incapable of recognizing theological error.  Some of these individuals are well educated, with graduate and post-graduate degrees.  Some of them majored in theological disciplines, and others have spent a good part of their lives in some kind of ministry.  So what went wrong?  Why is truth not high on their list of priorities?

My pleasure, as well as my responsibility, is to read.  My computer is filled with emails, messages from blogs, and notes from people commenting on all kinds of things.  These folks talk about people, schools, missions, and ministries, but never seem to ask the question of what they believe.  The latest gossip, idea, or opinion fills the pages; but there is very seldom a question about the theology behind all that.  Don’t they know about a theology that is biblical?  I can’t imagine that they don’t care.  The crisis grows when someone does ask the question about doctrinal error.
Such a sincere discussion is seen as an attack on some person, or a lack of love.
Instead of searching the scripture to discover the truth about a subject, the person who asks a question is attacked personally. We learned a long time ago that a person who attacks the messenger instead of dealing with the message has a hidden motive.

Jesus taught us that we are not to be respecters of persons.  The Bible is about God. Man is spoken of throughout its pages, but the Bible is a revelation about the Sovereign Creator.  That is how we are to deal with doctrine and theology - it is all about God. When someone teaches error, we should hasten to the Bible and the God of the Bible for answers.
Instead we quickly go to the defense of some contemporary evangelical figure, even if he is speaking against the clear statement of the text.
Others jump on the historical band wagon and defend some theological system or historical writer or teacher.  There is not a human living who is not flawed.  There is no movement, denomination, creed, or theological system that is not tainted with error, so why do they rush to defend everything but the scripture?  Some say the scripture needs no defense, but it is that kind of cute talk that buries professing Christianity in error.

This approach doesn’t mean that we can’t have appreciation for people, organizations, and movements.  On the other hand, though, all of these things call for us to ask questions.
We cannot please God and actively cover error, nor should we ignore error.
What kind of pride would ignore the responsibility given to every believer to compare scripture with statements and printed material?

Going back to the journey I described at the beginning, something became very clear.  Every one of the statements that troubled me had one thing in common: those who ignored or covered error hold a flawed hermeneutic.  To the person who is committed to the authority and sufficiency of scripture, a correct system of biblical interpretation is imperative.  If there is no single system of hermeneutic, then anyone can make the Bible say what he or she wants it to say; and that is exactly why we have error.  Many have chosen a system that allows them to insert whatever they want into the biblical text.  I remind you that this is exactly what is being done with the constitution of our country.  It is the practice of liberals, a way of thinking, and a mindset. That is the reason why, when someone abandons the one biblical hermeneutic, he can come up with any kind of theology or invention to replace it.  That is how a well-intentioned student can leave the truth behind and rapidly take the journey from truth to the liberalism of a-millennialism.  Not only do I have no obligation to protect those who are following this path, but I have no reason, either, to be silent about the evil - no matter how intellectual it may be - of destroying the futures of young men.

Shepherd's Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min

A communication service of Shepherd’s Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible.  Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches.

Site Publisher Addendum:
Dr. Mark Dever, one of the star personalities of the so-called conservative evangelicals, believes, preaches and defends amillennialism. Therefore, be mindful of the danger ahead when men like Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran work in cooperative ministry with and heap lavish praise on Mark Dever apart from any serious warning about Dever's aberrant amillennial theology.


  1. Dr. Nuttall has hit the nail squarely on the head and we would do well to read and heed what he has articulated here. Have benefited greatly from his monthly Shepherd's Staff e-mails. This one holds to form.

  2. Lou, great article by Dr. Nuttall! I am dealing with people on a weekly basis who were once fundamental in their doctrine but have later abandon. I find that they have bitterness and anger towards those who hold to biblical interpretation. They rebel against the very doctrine they once held close to. They then start to reject the people in those camps and cling to those more like themselves. They are unrepentant and will not resolve their bitterness. They start to search for a more "friendly" and "accepting" environment of believers, even with biblical error. They start to indoctrinate others, calling it truth, though they know they are preaching a false gospel.

    “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” Ephesians 4:14-15

    1. And this very thing you describe is happening across a number of fundamental, Bible believing churches. The "friendly/accepting" are the ones who will disregard and disobey the clear mandates of Scripture (2 Cor. 6:14-17; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15; Eph. 5:11) to allow for, tolerate, ignore and excuse doctrinal error and ecumenical compromise for the sake of fellowship. There is a magnetic attraction about them and I mean the so-called "conservative" evangelicals in particular (John MacArthur, John Piper, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, et., al.)

      Making matters more disconcerting is that we have men like Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran who claim to be committed to biblical, "militant" separation, yet embrace some of these men, enter into cooperative efforts/conferences with them and will not utter one word of warning about the aberrant theology and ecumenical compromise.

      IMO, for the sake of a pure church, it is best to let those go who have gone that way.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective.



  3. Some readers have questioned the use of the term, "the liberalism of Amillenialism." I have asked Dr. Nuttall for a clarifying statement. His reply follows.

    "Amillenialism a liberal doctrine. In light of the reaction, by some, to 'the liberalism' of amillenialism let me offer some insight. This is a liberal doctrine. Those who have attempted to defend this doctrine have all appealed to personalities and historical illustrations. Truth in the bible, it is not about people. It is not about the historical setting of liberalism or those who believed an errant doctrine in the past. Truth is established in the bible text. It is impossible to establish amillenialism from the bible text, using the one biblical hermeneutic. Erroneous doctrines are developed with a philosophical hermeneutic and it is the same system that liberalism uses. I am not surprised that moderate Evangelicals defend amillenialism but it is a confession that they use the philosophical hermeneutic. Holding one doctrine of liberalism does not make one a liberal but it does tell you where that person is headed."

  4. Again, thank you Lou and Dr. Nuttall. How true this is. For far too long, too many have tried to say that eschatology is clouded, shrouded, not clear in the Scriptures. How so untrue! The Apostle Paul thought is so important, so necessary, that he included its teaching when he was in Thessalonica for 3-4 weeks planting a church. In the subsequent follow up epistles he continued the teaching he had started in person. There are, for the most part, three millennial views. Either all three are wrong, or one is right and two wrong. There are no other options. Premillennialism is taught in the Bible; it is true. Therefore, anything else must be false.

  5. Brian:

    Thanks for the input. What we have going on is another widespread attempt at blurring the lines of doctrinal distinction. I recall one of these attempts as far back as the Promise Keepers movement. Promise #6 was a call to put aside "denominational differences," but was in fact a call to erase significant doctrinal differences for the sake of ecumenical fellowships. The Manhattan Declaration was much the same. Lordship Salvation blurs the lines of doctrine between salvation and discipleship, which corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3). Here we have clear teaching of Scripture on eschatology being blurred and negated as though there are a variety of equally valid positions for the same thing.

    Like you I am grateful for Dr. Nuttall’s penetrating polemic on this issue and look forward to more.