Saturday, August 01, 2009

Camping and the Atonement

In a previous post (link) we discussed how Mr. Harold Camping errs on the simple question of who Moses' father is, according to the Scriptures, and how this has a chain reaction effect on his chronology. There are other clear errors in Mr. Camping's theology that relate less directly to his date-setting error.

Scripture Says Christ Died Once

Scripture is perfectly clear that Christ died only once:

Hebrews 9:26-28
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

And again, we see the same clear teaching in Paul's Epistle to the Romans:

Romans 6:8-10
Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

Mr. Camping Says Christ Died Twice

Mr. Camping claims:
Later in this study, we will learn that the Lord Jesus Christ died twice in connection with the atonement. He died before the foundation of the world as the Lamb that was slain (Revelation 13:8). He also died when He was on the cross, demonstrating to us and the world how He paid for our sins. The doubling of His punishment agrees with the principle set forth in Genesis 41:32, that is, that which is doubled is established by God.
(To God be the Glory, p. 25)

Mr. Camping also claims:
Now we understand that Christ suffered once to pay for our sins, and He suffered a second time to demonstrate how He paid for our sins. Now we can understand why Pilate, the Roman governor, repeated again and again, “I find no fault in him” (Luke 23:4, 22; John 19:4, 6; also see Matthew 27:19, 24). Christ stood before him absolutely sinless. Yet He had to be punished as if He were still laden with all of the sins of those who were elected to become saved in order to demonstrate how He suffered for those sins.
(To God be the Glory, p. 34)

Exploring Camping's View of Revelation 13:8

As to Mr. Camping's view of Revelation 13:8, the verse states:

Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

I can understand how that verse might sound at first (and in English) as though it were saying that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. It is, however, also legitimate to understand "slain" as modifying "Lamb" and "from the foundation of the world" as modifying "written." We find confirmation of this from another discussion of this book:

Revelation 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

Notice how here, again, "from the foundation of the world" is not right next to "written" but nevertheless the reader can figure out that it does not modify "life" but "written."

There's another aspect that we must consider as well. The expression "the Lamb slain" is a picture that John used previously in Revelation 5:

Revelation 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

Revelation 5:12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

Finally, we see a parallel expression to that in Revelation 13:8 without the reference to slaying:

Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Mr. Camping, however, prefers to quote Revelation 13:8 selectively. For example:
  • "The first surprising information that we learn as we carefully study all that God teaches us in the Bible about the atonement is that it was completely finished before God created mankind. In Revelation 13:8, we read of “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”" (To God be the Glory, p. 32)
  • "Now, Jesus is the great “I AM,” God Himself, who has no beginning, and the Bible tells us in Revelation 13:8, that He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”" (I Hope God Will Save Me, p. 8)
  • "But nobody except God Himself knows who they are. Only after they receive their new resurrected soul, that is, after they have become saved, will they begin to understand that God had saved them. But the fact is that they were justified from the beginning of time because Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8)."(I Hope God Will Save Me, p. 9)
  • "Since Christ was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (rev. 13:8), this again shows that it has always been God’s intention to save people out of the Gentile nations as well as out of the nation of Israel."(An Exposition of Galatians, at Galations 3:14, p. 15)
Mr. Camping doesn't always quote the verse without context, but the many times he does tend to reinforce the reading he is insisting on, even when he occasionally provides the more complete context.

Incidentally, this ambiguity regarding the reference of "from the foundation of the world" is removed in many more recent translations:
  • (ASV) And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, every one whose name hath not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that hath been slain.
  • (BBE) And all who are on the earth will give him worship, everyone whose name has not been from the first in the book of life of the Lamb who was put to death.
  • (CEV) The beast was worshiped by everyone whose name wasn't written before the time of creation in the book of the Lamb who was killed.
  • (Darby) and all that dwell on the earth shall do it homage, every one whose name had not been written from the founding of the world in the book of life of the slain Lamb.
  • (ESV) and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.
  • (GNB) All people living on earth will worship it, except those whose names were written before the creation of the world in the book of the living which belongs to the Lamb that was killed.
  • (Holman NT) All those who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.
  • (NASB) All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
  • (MKJV) And all dwelling on the earth will worship it, those whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain, from the foundation of the world.
  • (MSG) Everyone on earth whose name was not written from the world's foundation in the slaughtered Lamb's Book of Life will worship the Beast.
  • (RSV) and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.
  • (TEV) All people living on earth will worship it, except those whose names were written before the creation of the world in the book of the living which belongs to the Lamb that was killed.
  • (WE) Everyone on earth will worship the beast, if they do not have their names in the book of life. The book of life belongs to the Lamb who was killed. That was God's plan since the world was made.
Additionally, the NIV provides as its main reading a form similar to the KJV, but provides as a footnote: (a) Revelation 13:8 Or written from the creation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain

Same for the TNIV, and the Amplified Bible provides a similar footnote (a): 'Revelation 13:8 Alternate translation: "recorded from the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb that was slain [in sacrifice].'"

My reason for pointing this out is not to try to win the battle by pointing out that more translators translate the text one way than anther way. Nor am I trying to cast negative light on the most popular edition of the KJV, a version that preserves the ambiguity in a way that I think is admirable. Instead, I'm simply pointing out that a significant number of committees and translators of the Greek have viewed the phrase "from the foundation of the world" as modifying the writing, rather than as modifying the slaying.

What if "from the foundation of the world" Modifies "slain"?

I should point out that the first edition of the KJV (like the prior printed English versions, such as the Bishops' Bible and the Geneva Bible) punctuated the verse in a way that is different from the most popular edition of the KJV. Specifically, the KJV1611 places a comma between "Lambe" and "slaine," which tends to force the "from the foundation of the world" to modify "slain."

So, what about my dear friends who only use KJV1611 or who strongly prefer it. Does that version support Mr. Camping's view? Is the KJV1611 endorsing a "two deaths of Christ" view? Of course not.

Even if we are to read "from the foundation of the world" as modifying "slain," the bigger question is why on earth anyone would interpret that literally? No one in their right mind interprets "Lamb" literally, and most people would have the sense to realize that there could be no literal book before the foundation of the world.

No, even if "from the foundation of the world" as modifying "slain," we would still view the imagery as symbolic and not literal. We would view him as "slain from the foundation of the earth" in the sense of that being his eternal purpose, not as him actually having been slain before the world was founded. There's no particular reason to take that kind of plainly symbolic comment literally: we don't view Jesus as a literal lamb, we don't view the book of Life as a literal book, and we don't view the writing in the book as literal writing. Jesus is a lamb in that he is the sacrifice for sin. The writing in a book symbolizes the fixity of God's decrees.

This is confirmed by, for example, the marginal note in the Geneva Bible (1599) on the word slain: "As God ordained from before all beginning, and all the sacrifices were as signs and sacraments of Christ’s death."

In short, there is no reason to think that there was a literal slaying before the foundation of the world, even if the phrase "from the foundation of the world" as modifying "slain," which does not appear to be the best understanding of the text.

Conclusion

How does this error on Mr. Camping's part influence his end times prediction? It does not have a very direct and immediate impact. It's significance is that it is one of several ways that Mr. Camping tries to treat the entire life of Jesus as simply being a spiritual picture, thereby reinforcing Mr. Camping's attempt to avoid the literal sense of Scripture in favor of specific, selective spiritualizing interpretations. This particular error does not have such a direct, chain reaction effect as Mr. Camping's error regarding Moses' father, but it does help to serve to show a second instance in which Mr. Camping's spiritualizing agenda places him in direct contradiction with the plain teachings of Scripture.

-TurretinFan

8 comments:

natamllc said...

TF,

"in your conclusion", I do take a slightly different view of that error of Mr. Camping, than you. Let me say it after posting what you start out with in your concluding remarks?

TF: "....How does this error on Mr. Camping's part influence his end times prediction? It does not have a very direct and immediate impact....".

I am just not there and may never agree to be there too. For me, all error has an immediate impact on things I say and do! In fact, every single time I post in here, I am equally counting on you and your judgment to sharpen it, if necessary and bring correction to it too!

Pro 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.


How can I not be grateful for one who reproves his brother his error, written or spoken?

A couple of verses hopefully will speak to my raised concern here better than me? I will try to sum up the importance of my concern after their citation, with some illustrations, though:

ESV: 2Co 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2Co 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

And I have the point being made here in mind, too:

ESV: Rev 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
Rev 22:19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.



When building fences on the ranch, years ago, we "sighted" the fence line from two points. We began at one end digging holes and setting poles and stringing wire by the sighted trajectory, following it to the other end of the "straight" line.

When using a transit/level to shoot a straight line, you sight out into a distant point, where you want to end up and you follow that trajectory. If you are off one tick on one side of ground zero or one tick on the other side, though the line may be straight and the fence straight, it won't end up at the sighted ground zero on the opposite side of your trajectory. You will be way way off if the distance is long between points.

I heard about or read about the tunnel that was built, started on one side, off the coast of England and on the other side, off the coast of France that now is in use today to drive under the English Channel to or from France or England. It was with the marvel of the trajectory of the transit level, sighting by the combination of transit and satellites, that caused each side to meet almost exactly in dead zero at the middle of the Channel, when they met!

Wow, what a fete! By sighting the two points just feet apart on the English side and the two points just feet apart on the French side, they began boring the tunnel and by these accurate measures, point to point, or as my verses point, Glory to Glory, they bored the tunnel hole to just inches if not a foot off in the middle!

So, for me, I want to begin on point, In Him, united to Him by the Grace of God and end on point, in Him, united to the Grace of God, from His glory to His glory, from His beginning to His end.

Anyway, that's my little squabble with those concluding words of yours cited above in your conclusion!

Go Share Your Faith said...

Hey TF,
If I understand you correctly, you are saying that in Rev 13:8 the phrase "from the foundation of the world" does not modify "the lamb that was slain" but instead modifies the phrase "who's names have not been written"?

As much as I love your writings and believe Harold Camping to be of his rocker; I believe that you are wrong.

According to the OpenText Syntactically Analyzed GNT the Predicator: τοῦ ἐσφαγμένου (having been slain) IS being modified by the phrase ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου (from the foundation of the world)

I'm no James White so if there is an issue, please fill me in. (being serious not sarcastic)

As for Rev 17:8 it appears that you are correct there; "having been written" is being modifed by "from the foundation of the world"

No offense intended.

Turretinfan said...

GSF:

You've understood me correctly. In addition to the numerous translations I provided in support of the reading I believe is proper, consider additionally the New English Translation of Revelation 13:8, which is as follows:

"and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast,26 everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world (FN27) in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed.(FN28)"

FN27: "The prepositional phrase “since the foundation of the world” is traditionally translated as a modifier of the immediately preceding phrase in the Greek text, “the Lamb who was killed” (so also G. B. Caird, Revelation [HNTC], 168), but it is more likely that the phrase “since the foundation of the world” modifies the verb “written” (as translated above). Confirmation of this can be found in Rev 17:8 where the phrase “written in the book of life since the foundation of the world” occurs with no ambiguity."

FN28: "Or “slaughtered”; traditionally, “slain.”"

I suspect that if you asked Dr. White he'd tell you the same thing that I mentioned in my article, namely that there is some ambiguity in the Greek. While the most obvious connection would be to "slain" because of its proximity in the sentence, Greek grammar doesn't require such a reading. The rules of Greek grammar are not quite as black/white as we might sometimes wish, and consequently to resolve ambiguities like the one we encounter in Revelation 13:8, the preferred method is to look at context and usage (as the NET translators and I have done).

My understanding is that, at least in many instances, the OpenText Syntactically Analyzed GNT is essentially a computer program's guess as to the syntactical structure of the verse - while such programs have their use, I'd be hesitant to trust a computer program over live Greek scholars.

-TurretinFan

Go Share Your Faith said...

TF,
thanks for the explanation...much appreciated.

I'm going to take a look at what you've said.

As I said, I'm a newbie and it was just my observation.

thanks brother,
bob

Go Share Your Faith said...

TF,
I just wanted to say thank you for correcting me. I had never dealt with this specific issue "before the foundation of the world" modifying the Lamb that was slain, or "names written in the book of Life.

I believe, after having researched it that you are wholly correct and I should have studied more than I did before assuming you were wrong.

Please forgive me and thanks for the edification.

bob

Turretinfan said...

No problem, Bob! I'm always glad to be challenged and forced to give an answer. Thanks for posing the question in the first place!

Daniel Moynihan said...

The resurrected Christ, created all things, walked in the cool of the garden, addressed Adam, cursed Satan, cut covenant with Abraham, wrestled with Jacob, named Israel, gave the law on Mount Sinai, walked in the furnace as the fourth man, He proclaimed victory to the captives, He is the Jublilee, etcetera. It is the only thing that makes sense, He was never pre-incarnate, that is nonsense. He was always fully God and fully man. He was always the Christ. Time is where you people always limit God. Why? He was only in time briefly until He split it on the cross. Now it flows in both directions from that point into eternity. He was slain from the foundation of the earth, He was always crucified. As Paul said, I preach Christ and Him crucified. Before Abraham was, I AM. Christ without the cross is not Christ. Sorry. This is what caused the disciples hearts to burn when Jesus opened their eyes to the scripture. Christ will bring God the Father in Heaven to earth once. He announced His Son at His baptism. The Father has never been in His creation, not as an angel not as a man, not in a bush or a cloud only through His Son Jesus. The Holy Spirit was left by the Son for this church age until the He returns, but the Holy Spirit is Spirit totally and fully consumed with pointing people to Jesus.

And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church who is the beginning, the firstborn of the dead, that in all things He may have preeminence. Col 1:17,18

Turretinfan said...

Mr. Moynihan:

"Us People" simply believe what the Scriptures teach when they say:

Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

And again:

Hebrews 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.