Monday, February 16, 2004

Lesson 7: Bringing in the Kingdom: Postmillennialism from a partial-preterist perspective (part 13)

No Faith on Earth?

I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8)

This ending of the parable of the Persistent Widow is used to indicate a gloomy state of affairs that Christ will encounter upon his return. This is, of course, a refutation of the postmillennial view. We quote several dispensational writers:

This is 'an inferential question to which a negative answer is expected.' So this passage is saying that at the second coming Christ will not find, literally, 'the faith' upon the earth. 209

In the original Greek, the question assumes a negative answer. The original text has a definite article before faith, which in context means this kind of faith. 210

The end times will not be days of great faith. 211

Here is a thumbnail of the multi-faceted postmillennial response. 212

  1. It might be that Christ is not asking will he find faith (as in 'saving faith in Christ') upon his return, but will He find faith as manifested by persistent prayer as alluded to by the parable. As such, this can be viewed as motivational, much like the postmillennial view of Matt. 7:13-14. Think of a coach of highly favored team trying to motivate his players, perhaps after a lackadaisical practice, with "will anyone even show up ready to play tomorrow?"

  2. Jesus asks "pessimistic" questions elsewhere, and explicitly positive responses are provided:

    66From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
    67"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. 68Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
    (John 6:66-68)

  3. The terminus of the prophecy is debatable; Christ might not be speaking of the end-of-time at all. Just a little earlier in Luke?s gospel (Luke 17), Christ is speaking of the coming destruction of Jerusalem, and Luke 18:8 may also refer to that coming in wrath rather than the Second Advent. This is especially favored in light of the fact that Christ speaks of quick justice: I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly, indicating a near term fulfillment. Christ might be advising fervent prayer in light of the events that will unfold in that generation.

  4. A technical argument can be made that the Greek does not require nor even imply a negative answer.

  5. It is a straw-man argument, because no eschatology literally expects a negative answer to the question of Luke 18:8. Dispensationalism does not teach that Christ will find no faith at all, at either second coming: the rapture or the Glorious Appearance.

209 H. Wayne House and Thomas D. Ice, Dominion Theology Blessing or Curse? 1988, p. 229.
210 Hal Lindsey, The Road to Holocaust, p. 48.
211 W. Wiersbe, Bible Exposition Commentary, 1989, 2:249.
212 Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, p. 494.

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