05 November 2007

Already vs. Not Yet

by Phil Johnson

Phil's signature


Drew said...

can't we have both?

Rob Willmann said...

Well, Here's the way I put it to my boss when he asked me my thoughts on "Your Best Life Now":

Your best life now means Hell hereafter.

As for having both, we can yearn for the Kingdom of Heaven, and deny ourselves, pick up our crosses and follow Him, and thus be about the Lord's business, BUT.... we must be careful not to become earhtly-minded.

Jeremiah Burroughs wrote a book called "a Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness" that talks about this subject. I love the book and would recommend it.

I personally think the point of the pithy post was to show the problem with the Emergent movement's obsession with the social gospel.

*donning my flame-retardant suit*

Rob from Vibist.com

Phil Johnson said...


The word "instead" was McLaren's, not mine. I think he means it; I don't hear him—or any other Emergents—talking about the hope of heaven.

They do tend to obsess about beer an awful lot, though.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Wow! McLaren says *instead*?? Just about every follower of Christ that I know says it's a Both/And solution. Just about everybody recognizes that it's a false dichotomy.

Look at the Lord's Prayer. "...Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven..."

Can't be more obvious than that.

Phil Johnson said...

McLaren: "Jesus' message is not actually about escaping this troubled world for heaven's blissful shores, as is popularly assumed, but instead is about God's will being done on this troubled earth as it is in heaven."

Rick Potter said...

Well, I hope I haven't offended by my previous comment concerning the "Already" and "Not Yet". I know that eschatological issues are difficult and fraught with differing views. If I did, I apologize.

Maybe my meaning didn't come across well. I'm surely no Po-Motivator.

My intent was simply to say that if the already of Christ's Kingdom has come then on the order of His Messianic rule His justice and His righteousness isn't to be found in the areas of social, political, or economics but is rather the vertex of rule focused on His messianic reign over His church - those who are called into the Kingdom.


I've seen it worded:

It is not pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die but meat-on-the-plate-while-you-wait! but it was spoken faithfully in the context that Christianity is relevant to the here and now and not something for old grannies to draw comfort from as they approach their 90th birthday.

Keep her lit!

donsands said...

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, ... and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
.... they seek a country.

And truly, if they had been mindful of that from whence they came out, they might have returned.
But now they desire a better, that is a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He has prepared for them a city." Heb. 11:13-16

"While here in the valley of conflict I stay,
Oh give me submission, and strength as my day,
In all my afflictions to Thee would I come,
Rejoicing in hope of my glorious home.

I long, dearest Lord, in Thy beauties to shine,
No more as an exile in sorrow to pine;
And in Thy dear image arise from the tomb,
With glorified millions to praise Thee at home."

Abraham had his mind set on things above, and Paul as well. If these men, who served the Lord faithfully, were so minded what does that encourage us to do.

Brian McLaren is blind to the Scriptures. May the Lord open the eyes of His heart to the pure and simple truths of the Bible.

That sure is a lot of "Taps". Too many.

Spatulaguy said...

To follow the verse Donsands used:

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
-Hebrews 11:39-12:2 (emphasis mine)

It seems pretty clear to me that this passage is pointing out that our focus should be on Jesus, not this world. And if He is seated on right hand of the throne of God, then that is where my attention should be.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

A true disciple of Christ most certainly wants "Thy kingdom" to come, and "Thy will" to be done, on earth as it is in heaven...but it certainly isn't one instead of the other!

I fear that those who seek their heaven (their best life) now, as Rob hinted at, have their reward in full now as well. That's a scary thought, and one I pray "self-seekers" seriously consider. For them to be honest with themselves, their prayer is not really "Thy" kingdom come, but "My" kingdom come.

stratagem said...

The concept of heaven is not particularly useful to those who want to harness the energy of the religious to advance their true cause, left-wing politics.

I think that's McLaren, Jim Wallis, and the EC, in a nutshell.

Daryl said...


I think you've nailed it. When the question becomes "Of what use is that?" you know there's gonna be trouble.

Daryl said...


I think you've nailed it. When the question becomes "Of what use is that?" you know there's gonna be trouble.

bassicallymike said...

Hey Phil,
When you first started coming out with the PoMo Posters and associated links, I had two thoughts:"I bet he ain't on dial up" and "he sure has a lot of time to surf".

Being half way through with "The Truth War", I now understand the purpose of your surfing. Thanks, and pass along my admiration and appreciation to da Boss.

Tim Bertolet said...

It is interesting what the church Fathers say about some of this:

Tertullian On Prescription against Heretics [ch. 13 (ANF 3.249)]:
"Now, with regard to this rule of faith—that we may from this point acknowledge what it is which we defend—it is, you must know, that which prescribes the belief that there is one only God, and that He is none other than the Creator of the world, who produced all things out of nothing through His own Word, first of all sent forth; that this Word is called His Son, and, under the name of God, was seen “in diverse manners” by the patriarchs, heard at all times in the prophets, at last brought down by the Spirit and Power of the Father into the Virgin Mary, was made flesh in her womb, and, being born of her, went forth as Jesus Christ; thenceforth He preached the new law and the new promise of the kingdom of heaven, worked miracles; having been crucified, He rose again the third day; (then) having ascended into the heavens, He sat at the right hand of the Father; sent instead of Himselfthe Power of the Holy Ghost to lead such as believe; will come with glory to take the saints to the enjoyment of everlasting life and of the heavenly promises, and to condemn the wicked to everlasting fire, after the resurrection of both these classes shall have happened, together with the restoration of their flesh. This rule, as it will be proved, was taught by Christ, and raises amongst ourselves no other questions than those which heresies introduce, and which make men heretics."

See also Irenaeus' summation of the faith: Against Heresies [Book I. ch. X.1, (ANF 1.330-331)]

Phil Johnson said...

Rick Potter: "I hope I haven't offended by my previous comment"

No way. This post wasn't a response to your comment in the other thread (which I hadn't seen until this morning, and which I agree with). This is in response to Some of our Emergent brethren's "already instead of not yet"-style eschatology.

Benjamin Nitu said...

Phil Johnson said...
McLaren: "Jesus' message is not actually about escaping this troubled world for heaven's blissful shores, as is popularly assumed, but instead is about God's will being done on this troubled earth as it is in heaven."

Reading all the previous posts, there is no doubt that McLaren misses the point in general. However, is is possible that McLaren in this quote alone is arguing for having both, instead of only be concerned of heaven?
The key words I think are "as it is in heaven"
In this quote at least I don't see him ignoring heaven, I just see him emphasizing the fact that we have to be the light and salt in this "troubled world".

A cruce salus!

Phil Johnson said...

instead adv. [Orig. two wds, f. IN prep. + STEAD]
1 in place of, in lieu of, for; rather than.
2 As a substitute or alternative.

Benjamin Nitu said...

Heaven & Earth instead of Heaven only!

Now what he means by heaven & earth is a different story.

donsands said...

I have found in the Body of Christ, amoung the members, who are all gifted differently, some that have a more evangelistic zeal, and long to see the kingdom go forth, and others who have a teaching and discipling zeal for the people of the Lord to be nuilt up on His truth.

There may be a different degree of set our minds above I think. But there surely must be a mind set for the things above.

It seems to me, Brian has had a knee-jerk reaction to some of those who are more zealous for heaven then he is, and has disregarded the texts of Scripture that exhort us to do just this.

Just thinking out loud. And I have read McLaren's writings, and have spoken with those who have embraced his thoughts, and it's a "change this world for the good' attitude.
And not much on looking forward to heaven attitude.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

I'm certainly not one to defend McLaren, but is it possible that he is making the point that the future kingdom is geocentric?

Benjamin Nitu said...

donsands I totally agree with you.

Like I said before, there is no doubt that McLaren has missed the point of what God's will really is.
But the quote that phil posted is not necessarily a bad quote:

- if you "miss" the last part of the quote ... then yes

"Jesus' message is not actually about escaping this troubled world for heaven's blissful shores, as is popularly assumed, but instead is about God's will being done on this troubled earth...

- if you have the full quote:

Jesus' message is not actually about escaping this troubled world for heaven's blissful shores, as is popularly assumed, but instead is about God's will being done on this troubled earth as it is in heaven."

I totally agree with this quote; however, I think Brian's problem is that he does not know what God's will really is. It is all about God's glory, not about making this place on earth to be heaven.

The root of the problem is the same as the communism. It ignores the fallen human nature.
God did not came to change us from bad people to good people. He came to make from dead people alive people.

Ad maiorem dei gloriam!

Phil Johnson said...

Benjamin Nitu:

You need to read the Mclaren quote again. It would perhaps also help you to see it in context. The dichotomy McLaren makes is not between "Heaven & Earth instead of Heaven only", it's a contrast between "[our] escaping this troubled world for heaven's blissful shores [versus] God's will being done on this troubled earth."

In other words, he sets up a false dichotomy. But that is, in fact, his dichotomy, not mine. And the major section of his book that follows makes his point inescapable. He thinks Christians desperately need to turn away from heavenly matters and seek "instead" solutions for what he deems this world's biggest problems. As I pointed out yesterday, he names four of them:

2) poverty
3) the threat of global war
4) "the failure of the world's religions, especially its two largest religions, to provide a framing story capable of healing or reducing the three previous crises."

And in all of this, there is absolutely none of the stress on heaven we find in the NT. He is arguing for an unbalanced agenda, not the carefully nuanced and biblically balanced position you now want to load all prepackaged and neat into the phrase "as it is in heaven." Those words found their way into McLaren's statement because he was quoting from the Lord's Prayer; not because the hope of heaven gets any kind of significant positive emphasis from McLaren himself. It doesn't

He clearly thinks the historic Christian (and biblical) emphasis on heaven (and hell) as the only final and satisfying answer to this world's ills is utterly wrongheaded.

And it never ceases to amaze me how far those who are enthralled with McLaren will go to deconstruct his critics' analyses of his ridiculous positions. But they never seem to want to deal with the actual ideas McLaren himself is setting forth.

Gummby said...

And lest we forget: if we claim Heaven (or Hell) is an actual place, that makes us Dualistic Platonists, at least according to Doug Pagitt.

Phil Johnson said...


Are you finished with that transcript yet? I'm thinking of making a post about that interview and the subsequent discussions at JT's blog and esewhere. The whole episode is a classic example of how pomos like to obfuscate everything.

And it's intriguing to me that Todd Friel got dumped on by so many defenders of Pagitt who claimed he was "rude" or that his "tone" was ungracious during the interview.

It all more or less substantiates what I keep saying about the "tone" thing. Friel's comments, as far as I heard, were all polite and well-peppered with "sir"s and other overtly polite phrases. OK, he stepped on Pagitt's lines in a couple of places, but he was overall remarkably patient with Pagitt, who was being sarcastic, belligerent, dismissive, and deliberately obtuse almost from the start.

The only thing Todd Friel did that could be remotely thought "unkind" was refuse to accept Pagitt's ambiguities and diversions and be wowed with the impressive skill Pagitt showed for evading clear answers. And that's only "unkind" if we assume a pomo standard for "polite discourse."

donsands said...

"has disregarded the texts of Scripture that exhort us to do just this."

"donsands I totally agree with you." -Benjamin

So, benjamin, you agree that Brian has disregarded the texts of Scripture, which exhort and even charge us to set out affections on heaven?
Serious problem here, don't you think, for Mr. Mclaren?

And that may be the greatest deception which infiltrates the Body of Christ, to not be serious about God's Word, which is the truth, which santifies us. John 17:17

McLaren scares me, because I know people I love that give him credible time in the pulpit, when he should in no way be in a pulpit.

I'd be glad to see him debate James White, or John Piper, but to see him in the pulpit is so wrong, because he doesn't have a foundation of Christ crucified.

Gummby said...

Not yet. It's about a third of the way done, give or take. Unfortunately, I've got a report due, or I would have worked on it last night.

I was trying not to do like CNN does & just put "crosstalk" in every two lines, but I might start with that to get it done, and then go back and fill in the missing pieces.

Benjamin Nitu said...

@ phil johnson & donsands

Where did I say that I stand for what Brian believes?

My only "beef" was with that quote ... nothing else. I didn't see anything wrong with that quote (taken out of context). I definetly see a lot of messed up theology and applications with the rest of what Brian says and represents.

I don't know why you guys are so ready to jump. Keep cool, my brothers.

I think we have to learn from everything. We have to make sure that when we reject an idea we don't end up in the other extreme. That's why I think drew had it right: "Can't we have both?"

James 2:15,16
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

donsands said...

"I don't know why you guys are so ready to jump."

I'm not ready to jump. Sorry you think that.

Just trying to understand. I must be looking at something wrong.

You said you agree with me about Brian, and yet you agree with his quote, where Phil is showing that his quote, which says instead shows that McLaren is in error.

So why do you say, I totally agree with Brian's quote"? shouldn't you say you disagree with Brian's quote?
I'm just asking.

stratagem said...

I learned from the Friel interview w/Pagitt that I am a Platonist. (Even though the Scriptures calling heaven a real place pre-date Plato, but never mind the facts).

So from now on I am going to sit in a robe and teach by asking questions in the Platonic method.

Uh oh, I think I hear the ship coming in from Delos... gotta go!

Benjamin Nitu said...

@ donsands

1) Yes, I agree with you about Brian.
2) I agree with the quote.

This is a paradox, so I will explain myself:

If you just take the quote and don't know anything about the context or about the author, I have no problem with the quote.
I think Phil just provided a very good explanation of the whole context that brings more light in what the author really means with that quote. He definetly means something that we both reject.

I just thought that Phil's answer (that quote alone) was not a sufficient answer to drew's question.

So as an experiment, just give that quote to a friend of yours and see how he reacts. Don't give him the context or the author's name.

Anyway, I feel we spent too much time on this ...
and it is my fault, so sorry!

Sarah said...

Mmmm, close too heaven on earth, but I don't see any Newcastle. Can't have "beer and theology" with out Newcastle.

Mister Larry said...

I'm certainly no Emergent PoMo, but I do love beer. And, I am a Fundamentalist (seriously). I love the picture of beer taps, but the statement included is definitely better.

Ps. 104:15

777law said...

Perhaps McLaren's greatest fear is that in heaven there is no beer. Do you suppose that is why he drinks it here?

Jason E. Robertson said...

You guys have missed an important reality that if you drink lots of beer while reading McLaren he makes way more sense.

Rob Willmann said...

For those people who are looking for a transcript of the Doug Pagitt interview on Way of The Master, I just typed it out.

Link: http://www.vibist.com

Terry Rayburn said...

While on the subject of earthly Kingom-building, it's worth mentioning another Movement which is very Dominionist. That is, the so-called New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).

The NAR is what Craig Branch of Apologetics Resource Center (Areopagus Journal) says is one of the "Four Major Movements that are redefining Christianity" (The Emerging Church being another one of the four).

Loosely headed by uber-Apostle C. Peter Wagner, there are hundreds of churches and para-church "Apostles" and "Prophets" who are mostly Charismatic, or Third Wave who are signs and wonders folks which aren't of Charismatic or Pentecostal background (such as the late John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard Movement).

They are heavily influenced by Reformed Reconstructionist guys like R.J. Rushdoony, Greg Bahnsen, Gary North, and George Grant, who says, "It is dominion we are after. Not just a voice... not just influence...not just equal time. It is dominion we are after."

However, these NAR guys are not generally Reformed themselves, but are so-called "5-Fold Ministry" leaders who "prophesy" at the drop of a hat.

Biggies in this Movement include the infamous Charismatic Ted Haggard, and many of the TBN crowd.

They in turn influence people like Chuck Colson, and Rick Warren (who studied under C. Peter Wagner at Fuller Seminary).

Their overall goal (with some variances from ministry to ministry): to "reclaim" the earth for Christ, so that He can return to earth, the "victory" having been won by us. The reason we have to "reclaim" the earth, of course, is that poor Jesus "lost" it to Satan. But we shall be victorious in subduing it again for Him.

The bottom line error? Setting our minds on earthly things INSTEAD OF heavenly things, and doing so in the NAME of Christianity.

777law said...

Terry Rayburn,

I would like to know more about this topic since I believe I have a very good friend who is caught up in this, if you could email me something. Also, do you have a problem with the teachings of Rushdoony, Bahnson, etc?

Tim Bertolet said...

Has anybody figured out what Hebrew word Doug Pagitt was talking about?

Did Doug mean "hrm" (Put a dot under the h for the Het)?

Does anybody know where he gets the idea of "purification" from 'Devoted to destruction'? Something that was under the ban was excluded from redemption.

Or is there another word he is refering to?

Thanks for the transcript Rob.

stratagem said...

Is it too late after Reformation Day to remind everyone that Luther drank beer?

Gummby said...

Rob: that is really impressive! I've been working on a transcript for...awhile now. I gotta ask--how long did it take you to do that?

Again, nice work.

Terry Rayburn said...


You wrote, I would like to know more about this topic since I believe I have a very good friend who is caught up in this, if you could email me something.

I would recommend a Google search, using terms like:

new apostolic reformation
c peter wagner
apostolic dominionism

Here are a couple of introductory links:

Dominionism Exposed

False Apostles


Wikipedia - Dominion Theology

You wrote, Also, do you have a problem with the teachings of Rushdoony, Bahnsen, etc?

Yes, I think such Reconstructionists are in serious error in their understanding of the mission of the Church. They tend to go even further than some Dominionists in their desire to see the Old Covenant laws imposed on society, complete with death penalties as denoted in the Old Covenant.

They are in great error regarding the Covenants (Heb. 8 clearly tells us that the Old Covenant has been made obsolete by the New Covenant). And they are in great error regarding their unbiblical optimism for the future of the current planet earth.

Unfortunately, they are some of the sharpest and most compelling debaters in the Church, so you might not want to share a platform with them (of course, Rushdoony and Bahnsen specifically, are now in the presence of the Lord, so their debating days are over).

It's too big of a subject to go into deeply here, but quietly do your diligent study of the New Covenant of Grace, and you should recognize the error of these Law-based teachers, as well as the glory of the spiritual Kingdom of God which He is building (and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it).

777law said...

terry rayburn,

Just wondering, do you include Van Til in this group?

Terry Rayburn said...


You wrote, Do you include VanTil in this group?

Certainly not in the Reconstructionist group.

The late VanTill does go farther than I would regarding the "Cultural Mandate", but no, I wouldn't consider him an out-and-out Dominionist.

Rob Willmann said...

The transcript took me about 3 hours to do. I have some free software called Audacity that I used to cut the interview out of the show and listen to it piece by piece.

I type about 45 words per minute. I took a break in the middle to drink some coffee and get my thoughts straight after listening to the awful mess Pagitt was propagating.

As for the Hebrew word he used, I couldn't find it anywhere. I looked up all the Hebrew words for judgment, and none of them were even close to the word he used. I am halfway tempted to email him and ask him to cite the passage(s) that the word can be found in.

The transcript of the WOTM interview with Doug is at: http://www.vibist.com/?p=26

Samuel Adams Jefferson-Edwards said...

Phil or anyone else,

I am new to this whole emergent thing only having heard echoes of the cacophony here and there and having heretofore mostly ignored it.

What is a PoMo? Frankly, it sounds dangerously close to HoMo and that gives me the heebie-jeebies.

And, is it your view, having read this material, that these emergents are on the slippery slope toward a full liberal theology and its ugly step-child the social gospel? You do make them sound like leftists politically. Is this the sort of thing that Bono of U2 would get into?

Oh, and I loved the photo. Nice. Can I steal it?

DJP said...

My best guess is that Pagitt's stabbing around at cherem, something devoted to the ban (Exodus 22:19, etc.)

Tim Bertolet said...

That's what I thought, but does anybody know where he gets the silly idea that this is restorative purification instead of retributive purification?

DJP said...

I don't have an answer that Mrs. Johnson would allow.