Monday, September 04, 2006

Athanasius on Cessationism, Eschatology, & the Gospel


I promised I would post a short article concerning cessationism, eschatology and the gospel. Basically, I just wanted to throw out a great quote from Athanasius. I have also given the reference for his work so that you can see the context. I truly think he puts in perspective my own thinking.

“So the Jews are indulging in fiction, and transferring present time to future. When did prophet and vision cease from Israel? Was it not when Christ came, the Holy One of holies? It is, in fact, a sign and notable proof of the coming of the Word that Jerusalem no longer stands, neither is prophet raised up nor vision revealed among them. And it is natural that it should be so, for when He that was signified had come, what need was there any longer of any to signify Him? And when the Truth had come, what further need was there of the shadow? On His account only they prophesied continually, until such time as Essential Righteousness has come, Who was made the Ransom for the sins of all. For the same reason Jerusalem stood until the same time, in order that there men might premeditate the types before the Truth was known. So, of course, once the Holy One of holies had come, both vision and prophecy were sealed. And the kingdom of Jerusalem ceased at the same time, because kings were to be anointed among them only until the Holy of holies had been anointed. Moses also prophesies that the kingdom of the Jews shall stand until His time, saying, "A ruler shall not fail from Judah nor a prince from his loins, until the things laid up for him shall come and the Expectation of the nations Himself."[1] And that is why the Savior Himself was always proclaiming "The law and the prophets prophesied until John."[2] So if there is still king or prophet or vision among the Jews, they do well to deny that Christ is come; but if there is neither king nor vision, and since that time all prophecy has been sealed and city and temple taken, how can they be so irreligious, how can they so flaunt the facts, as to deny Christ Who has brought it all about? Again, they see the heathen forsaking idols and setting their hopes through Christ on the God of Israel; why do they yet deny Christ Who after the flesh was born of the root of Jesse and reigns henceforward? Of course, if the heathen were worshipping some other god, and not confessing the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses, then they would do well to argue that God had not come. But if the heathen are honoring the same God Who gave the law to Moses and the promises to Abraham—the God Whose word too the Jews dishonored, why do they not recognize or rather why do they deliberately refuse to see that the Lord of Whom the Scriptures prophesied has shone forth to the world and appeared to it in a bodily form? Scripture declares it repeatedly. "The Lord God has appeared to us,"[3] and again, "He sent forth His Word and healed them."[4] And again, "It was no ambassador, no angel who saved us, but the Lord Himself."[5] The Jews are afflicted like some demented person who sees the earth lit up by the sun, but denies the sun that lights it up! What more is there for their Expected One to do when he comes? To call the heathen? But they are called already. To put an end to prophet and king and vision? But this too has already happened. To expose the Goddenyingness of idols? It is already exposed and condemned. Or to destroy death? It is already destroyed. What then has not come to pass that the Christ must do? What is there left out or unfulfilled that the Jews should disbelieve so light-heartedly? The plain fact is, as I say, that there is no longer any king or prophet nor Jerusalem nor sacrifice nor vision among them; yet the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of God, and the Gentiles, forsaking atheism, are now taking refuge with the God of Abraham through the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.[6]

Athanasius

On The Incarnation, 6:40


[1] Gen. 49:10

[2] Matt. 11:13

[3] Ps. 118:27

[4] Ps. 107:20

[5] Isa. 63:9

[6] http://www.ccel.org/ccel/athanasius/incarnation.vii.html

7 comments:

Gordan said...

Great quote, Tim.

Athanasius...I've seen him called the patron saint of postmillennialism.

Have to say, although I am not a charismatic, I am not certain that this quotation really addresses that question as it relates to the exercise of "sign" gifts within the Christian churches. His argument is that they have certainly ceased among the unbelieving Jews, right? Am I missing something?

Tim said...
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Tim said...

Gordan,

You may be right. But it seems that this is the central arena where prophecy arose out of. I take it your point is that there may be those who are gifted that were raised up out of Jerusalem.

However, notice how he ties prophecy and vision with the calling of the heathen as well,

What more is there for their Expected One to do when he comes? To call the heathen? But they are called already. To put an end to prophet and king and vision? But this too has already happened. To expose the Goddenyingness of idols? It is already exposed and condemned. Or to destroy death? It is already destroyed. What then has not come to pass that the Christ must do?

as for patron saint of postmillenialism, I haven't heard that. However, he's not mine:) I have no patron saints. LOL

Gordan said...

I think I saw one of the Recon writers call him that, tongue-in-cheek...at least I hope.

My point was not a huge, important one. Just that he affirms that the Jews lost the prophets and their gifts; and really makes no mention of what was going on within Christianity. I'll have to go and dig around for it, but I think that I have seen charismatics quote from Athanasius, as he speaks of Christians in his day doing things like casting out demons.

I say this with the disclaimer that it's been a while and I could well be wrong.

Tim said...

Well, we do know this Gordan. Men are fallible and inconsisten at times, even great men. For this reason, I would, as I know you would, simply hail the quote of Athanasius as a wonderful quote and understand him to be greatly used of God, but still in the progress of sanctification. I tend to think so many say they don't hold the fathers equal with Scripture and then proceed as though they do. I think you and I are in agreem ent there brother.

Gordan said...

Right on.

DOGpreacher said...

Tim,

I am truly enjoying your posts. This one also does not disappoint. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers occasionally as I reflect on the fellowship we have shared via the phone. Keep writing, & serving Him. I am...

...grateful for grace