1. Granted, we only caught the last fifteen minutes, but at no point was there any discussion of "the family and Islam," unless by this, one means something like, "Radical Islam wants to overthrow America and we should support the Iraq War."
2. Most, if not all, of the broadcast focused on Joel Rosenberg's bestseller Epicenter.
3. Consequently, we were treated to a short discourse on Ezekiel 38 - 39 on Gog and Magog.
Now, there's nothing wrong with that, except the words "evangelical Christians should..." were repeated several times. The insinuation, in my opinion, was that if you don't believe as Rosenberg and Dobson say, you aren't really an evangelical Christian. Further, no alternative view was ever presented.
Of course, none of this ever got around to topics like:
a. How do we interact with Muslims in evangelism?
b. How do we interact with them in apologetics?
c. How does Muslim family structure / relationships within said structure, fall short of the biblical standard and how can we show this when evangelizing Muslims or discipling those coming out of Muslim backgrounds who are now Christians?
Rather, it was "We must protect ourselves from Islam by supporting President Bush," who, as we know, has Dobson's approval - which he was sure to state many times.
This leads me to a few more observations:
4. It appears to me that FoF is trying to use eschatology to further its political agenda. It matters not what I think of the war, rather, I object to eschatology being used to ground a political agenda in this manner.
Are amillenialists or post-millenialists not "evangelical Christians?" Surely, they didn't mean for that to come across, but it sure sounded that way to me.
What I particularly object to is them not having someone like, say, Kim Riddlebarger, on the show to actually present another point of view. No, that wouldn't fit with Dobson's agenda, would it? Rather than let people know there is, indeed, another point of view, one that has roots deep in church history, one that has an exegetical foundation as well, he chose to engage in question begging theological presentation to further his political agenda.
For example here's a little something from Dr. Riddlebarger:
Typically, dispensationalists like Rosenberg appeal to this passage as a yet unfulfilled prediction of a Russian-backed Islamic invasion of the modern nation of Israel, at or about the time the seven-year tribulation begins. Dispensationalists believe that the nations listed in the prophecy refer to people living in Ezekiel's time, who can then be traced to modern nations. Following this method, Gog is the mysterious leader of Magog, a land north of the Caucasus mountains inhabited by the ancient Scythians. This is in modern Russia. Meshech is supposedly Moscow. Tubal is variously taken as Turkey or Tolbosk (a city in Russia). Persia is clearly Iran. Put is Libya. Cush is Ethiopia. Beth-Togarmah is Turkey. Some have even identified Gomer as Germany. But since the fall of the Soviet Union, Gomer is more often identified with Russia. Since the bulk of these people live to the northern parts (Ezekiel 38:15) and since the predicted invasion of Israel will come from the north, Rosenberg's thesis is simply a new variation of an old dispensational theme. At some point near the beginning of the tribulation, Israel will be invaded by a Russian-Iranian-Islamic confederacy, only to prevail militarily through God's amazing grace.
To be fair, the dispensationalists were not the first to tie this prophecy to contemporary events. Ambrose identified these same figures as the Goths who were then threatening the Holy Roman Empire. Luther applied this prophecy to the Turks, who were at the gates of Vienna at the time of the Reformation.
But there are two significant problems with this approach to Ezekiel 38-39. First, as Edwin Yamauchi (a noted evangelical archaeologist and historian) has pointed out in his book, Foes from the Northern Frontier: Invading Hordes from the Russian Steppes (Baker, 1983), this identification is based upon a number of unsubstantiated assumptions. For one thing, Gog and Magog cannot be directly tied to the Scythians. Yamauchi believes that their identity is not certain at all. Furthermore, he contends that Meshech and Tubal cannot be tied to Moscow or Tobolsk in any sense. He believes these are references to ancient Assyria which did invade Israel from the north. This means that Ezekiel is speaking of Israel's immediate future (an Assyrian invasion from the north), which also prefigures an end-time event.
How do we know that to be the case? If you follow the basic hermeneutical principle that the New Testament interprets the Old Testament (something dispensationalists are want to admit when it comes to interpreting biblical prophecy), then in Revelation 20:8-9, John speaks of Gog and Magog as symbolic of the nations of the earth, gathering together to make war on the saints (the church).
This leads to the second problem with the dispensational understanding. In Revelation 20:8-9, John is universalizing Ezekiel's prophecy of Israel being invaded from the north to the church being attacked from the four corners of the earth--this "spiritualizing" of the Old Testament as practiced by John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is, of course, the very thing dispensationalists claim is illegitimate. The fact of the matter is, this is exactly what John does.
In Revelation 20:8-9, John sees a vision of Gog and Magog leading all of the nations on the earth to wage war against God's people (the church), after Satan has been released from the Abyss. These enemies of Christ and his church are ultimately and finally destroyed at Christ's second advent (see Beale, The Book of Revelation, Eerdmans, 1022-1024). This means that the Assyrian invasion of Israel from the north foretold by Ezekiel, is actually typological of the end-times war upon the entire people of God as witnessed by John in his vision.
He concludes by saying:
Rosenberg tells a great story and has gathered much interesting evidence about Islamic and Russian intentions. But he also misuses the prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39 to make his point.It is high time that Rosenberg and his kind be challenged. This sort of eschatology has become so rampant in the US today that even atheists think this is the historic position - something I've had to correct many times on other boards. This is the very sort of thing that "the world" (defined as the world system) sees and, pointing to it, concludes, "See, their theology is driving their politics." Well, on this one, yes, they are right - and it is bad theology at worst, debatable theology at best. It is so rampant that there are Christians where I live who think those who disagree with it are, for lack of a better term, "heretics."
Dobson and FoF should know better. I, for one, am thankful for popularizers like Hank Hanagraaf who have publicly challenged this sort of thing in recent months, even though Brother Hank and I disagree about many other things. People are untaught, and this sort of presentation by FoF only feeds it. If FoF really wants to do this series (which will continue until the end of this week), then they should get a man like Dr. Riddlebarger on to present a different view. It is wrong to present one side like this, particularly for a very plain political agenda. It's fine for a Bible study program or local church program or a theology class broadcast where there are clear confessional standards that are being upheld; pastors have a right to teach the Bible as they exegete it, but FoF is not any of these. Indeed, the announcer at the end plainly stated that today's topic was outside of their bounds. I thought, "If that's true, then why did you do it?"
Likewise, I am hoping that we get so hear about evangelizing Muslims, etc. It's high time FoF talked about the gospel as the tool to counteract Islam, not supporting the war and keeping an eye on Iran. Sure, the latter has its place, and I don't deny that; but, as Christians - as Christians in a ministry - they should be helping people realize that our ultimate tool is the gospel itself.
So, I'd like to conclude this article with a challenge:
1. Granted, I doubt anybody from FoF reads this blog, but if so, I'd like to challenge them to bring on somebody like O.P. Robertson or Kim Riddlebarger to present an alternative biblical presentation.
2. I'd like to encourage the readers here to contact FoF and ask them to do just that as well - and to get FoF away from "Insert Issue Here Alert of the Day" and how many petitions to sign or which representatives to contact to actually discussing the biblical foundations of family life, evangelism, discipleship, etc.