Friday, November 11, 2011

Zylstra Review - Part 3 - Bible texts

Dr. Zylstra only mentions four bible verses in support of his Transformationalist position and his critique of Dr. Van Drunen's Two Kingdom view. Let's just look at each one.

John 3:17 is one he mentions. I can only assume that Dr. Zylstra is referencing the idea that Jesus came to save the world, and by the world Zylstra is taking it to mean culture or the physical stuff in the world. if this verse means those two things then it would attack VanDrunen's idea of this world ending and the things of this ending. It is a central point of the Two Kingdom argument. However, it is hard to read John 3:17 that way. "World" appears here to mean "the people of the nations" or "gentiles" as in addition to Jews. This is how most of the commentators take it. I checked Calvin and Hendrickson, and both read "world" as "gentiles and people of all nations." Context would seem to support Calvin and Hendrickson and is against Zylstra.

Colossians 1:17 is his next verse. Here Zylstra is clearly pointing to the idea that "all things consist". Other translations might have the idea of "carry on" which is what Zylstra wants us to see. That and in the fact that "all" things continue "in Christ". However, again it seems a bit of stretch. VanDrunen never denies the Providential hand of Christ, and that is how Calvin and Hendrickson took it. Zylstra needs this verse to say that things of this culture will continue on in Christ Jesus not just in this world, but into the next. I am not sure all of that meaning can be forced into that passage. The idea of all things being in Christ might could be used by Zylstra, but VanDrunen was adamant that a Christian must do all things as a Christian, so again, I think that this verse falls short.

I Corinthians 15:58 gets closer to supporting Zylstra. Here Zylstra is pointing out that our labor is not in vain. With the obvious implication that a Two Kingdom idea that sees no eternal value in cultural labor would be definition make cultural labor "vain". But does a Two Kingdom idea does not necessitate that it would be in vain. God is still glorified. So this verse does not argue for a transformationalist perspective. However, I do believe that I can agree with Zylstra here that it might have been nice for VanDrunen to have explained how it fits in a 2K perspective.

Zechariah 14:20-21 really stands as his best verse. Here Zylstra argues that God is calling us to make all things Holy to the Lord even the bells on horses, and not just the things of the priests. This actually argues for a Transformationalist understanding in opposition to a Two Kingdoms view. If Zylstra is correct then all of life must be Holy to the Lord, or distinctively Christian, not just subjectively but objectively. Yet, again differing interpretations can be found here. Zechariah 14 can be taken as a description of what the New Heavens and New Earth will be like. There all things will be Holy to the Lord as the entire place will be temple and distinctively Christian. In this view then Zechariah is giving a prophecy of the Day of the Lord and His victory and not giving a command of what we ourselves are to achieve or strive to bring about here on this earth. Zylstra's reading is possible, but not the one I personally take of Zechariah. Which brings up a bigger question . . .

Does Transformationalism go hand in hand with a Post Millennial view point. Does Two Kingdoms go only with an Amillennial view point? This seems to fit with the differing ways of reading Zechariah 14. A Post Mil reading would be that this Day of the Lord would be the ultimate triumph of the church, and the church then makes all things Holy to the Lord. The Amil reading would tend more to a description of the Final Day of the Lord where Christ himself finally returns with the New heavens and new earth. I believe it is an interesting discussion that requires further discussion.