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Is it cos we're Arians?

Yesterday I heard yet another talk on 2 Corinthians 5 in which it was simply assumed that 'the judgement seat of Christ' (v10) is a believer-only judgement.  Now certainly the "we" includes believers - but why is it so rarely taught from this verse that the whole world is brought before Christ's throne?  Surely that's the context in which we evangelize the world (v11ff).

Instead I've heard many a time that Christ's judgement seat is the living room of His discipline rather than the court room of God's wrath.  It seems to be assumed that Christ's judgement seat is a rap over the knuckles for Christians.  (And this is our motivation for evangelism, rather than the world-wide fiery judgement of the living and the dead).  By implication do we think "God's judgement seat" would be the really scary one?  If Paul said "God's" instead of "Christ's" would we so readily take this as some form of 'judgement-lite'?  In short: is it cos we're Arians?

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0 thoughts on “Is it cos we're Arians?

  1. Heather

    Are you asking rhetorically?

    I don't really know much about Ariansim other than it's 'bad'.

    But I'd suggest perhaps some of the reason we tend to overlook the all encompassing judgment aspect as being "the" judgment is, in part because it appears that:

    1. Paul is addressing the church in Corinth. One might argue that "we all" only references believers.

    2. The Greek word that is translated as "bad" or "evil" (works) apparently can mean "worthless". I suppose that is in opposition to "damning". The connection is thus made that the bad things believers do are considered forgiven and covered in the blood of Christ, and only the good is counted. That might explain some things.

    3. The dispensational view of a mid-air rapture that occurs before Christ returns suggests that there will be a pre-wrath judgment which involves meting out of reward for those who get removed before (or during) an expected seven year tribulation.

    Hope you were asking because you were actually wondering...

  2. Glen

    Hi Heather,

    Personally I think the judgement seat of Christ simply is the judgement of the whole world. And (v11) knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men... Given universal judgement we make a universal plea.

    Certainly the "we all" includes the believers but to say it's *only* for believers seems a strange conclusion and not at all one that the text forces on us. What's more the 'good vs evil' is precisely the language of John 5:29 which is explicitly universal.

    So I was wondering out loud whether we limit the "judgement seat of Christ" because it's "Christ's" rather than "God's". This would be a latent Arianism which says that Christ is inferior to God.

  3. Heather

    Glen,

    Ah, I see now the problem with Arianism.

    Actually, I think you're probably right concerning universal judgment.

    Hebrews 2:2-3 seems to support that concept as does Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats and the fish in the dragnet.
    There are only two groups, in my mind---those whom Christ knows, and those He does not.

    Just offering my thoughts on why the seriousness of it is sometimes (frequently?) overlooked.

    Perhaps the gravity of the statement "judgment seat of Christ" would take on more weight if we spent more time emphasizing the passages of scripture that reveal that all things have been handed over by the Father to the Son?
    It's His inheritance.

  4. Glen

    "Perhaps the gravity of the statement “judgment seat of Christ” would take on more weight if we spent more time emphasizing the passages of scripture that reveal that all things have been handed over by the Father to the Son?"

    Yes indeed. The Father has committed all judgement to the Son. The judgement seat of Christ is the judgement seat of THE JUDGE!

  5. pgjackson

    Indeed. The wrath of God and of the Lamb. And all that.

    I must admit, where I've come across the idea of Christ's judgment seat as a special, intimate, chatty affair between Jesus and his bride that is a different event altogether to the great white judgment throne, it's been in the context of pre-trib premill assumptions hanging around in the background (i.e., Heather's point 3 above).

    So am surprised to hear you hearing it from (presumably?) a-millers.

  6. Rich Owen

    Sounds to me more like someone saying stuff that they haven't thought through rather than concious arianism no?

  7. The Orange Mailman

    Hey Glen-

    What if we phrased it "Messiah's Judgment Seat"? The Romans 14 passage references Isaiah 45 which has a seemingly different background than what most people would portray the Judgment Seat of Christ to be (certainly not a living room setting). What if we took the OT imagery of Messiah's Judgment Seat and threw in a little Psalm 50 and 96-97 or even ______ (you fill in the blank). Wouldn't that shake things up a bit?

    Have fun and stay busy - Luke 19:13

    -The Orange Mailman

    P.S. I really don't know how Arianism would sway it one way or the other.

  8. Glen

    just to say - the Arian thing is not an anathema I'm pronouncing on anyone! Just a recognition that, in my own heart too, when I hear the phrase "judgement seat of Christ" my naturally heretical inclinations immediately think of something less than "judgement seat of God."

    But a) maybe that's just me and b) indeed eschatological perspectives are very much influencing things.

    It was just an off the cuff post cos I couldn't be bothered writing any of the other more involved things I've promised to write!

  9. Glen

    Hi Orange,

    Ps 45:

    3 Gird your sword upon your side, O mighty one; clothe yourself with splendour and majesty. 4 In your majesty ride forth victoriously on behalf of truth, humility and righteousness; let your right hand display awesome deeds. 5 Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king's enemies; let the nations fall beneath your feet. 6 Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a sceptre of justice will be the sceptre of your kingdom. 7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.

    God the Father has established God the Anointed King (the Messiah) to judge the earth in righteousness. I think "Messiah's judgement throne" is still the final resurrection reality.

    Do you see Romans 14 as something other than the final judgement of the living and the dead?

  10. Heather

    Sounds to me more like someone saying stuff that they haven’t thought through rather than conscious arianism no?

    Probably.

    I grew up in dispensational circles and while no one ever said "Christ is subordinate to God", there is a sense of disconnection between the Old and New Testaments.

    Jehovah God tends to be attached to "Law" and viewed as powerful, angry and ready to crush humanity in judgment.

    Jesus is viewed as humble, gentle. The Bringer of peace and grace but not so much "the Judge" of saints as well the unsaved.

    It doesn't help that the Book of Revelation is often considered to be primarily an account of future events from which the Church is supposed to be exempt.

    Guess the perspective is viral. :( You all may need to inoculate.

    I'll offer Psalm 2.

  11. Glen

    just to be really clear (and hopefully no-one's even thought of the connection and I'm just over-reacting here) but I want to spell out that I'm making absolutely no link whatsoever between Arianism and dispensationalism. The only reason those two words appear in the same sentence is because they *might* be completely separate reasons for why 'Christ's throne' is considered 'judgement-lite' in 2 Corinthians 5.

    anyhoos. off to bed.

  12. Heather

    Oops.

    Didn't mean to suggest you were accusing dispies of being heretics.
    Just thought the dispensational division might help explain why Jesus Christ of the NT is sometimes not thought of as being the God who will judge His people.

    I have to admit that the concept of "Christ in the OT" was pretty foreign before I started looking through your stuff here.

  13. Dev

    if i have got the greek terms correctly
    apparently there are 2 types of judgment seat

    1 is the great white throne of revelation - where the whole world is brought to be judged - matt 25 style

    the other is the 'podium of Caesar' kind of throne, where rewards are given out for 'excelling athletes' - so not a negative judgment but a positive one - for there is no condemnation in Christ - which is the 2 cor 5 one

    no?

  14. The Orange Mailman

    Hey Glenn-

    I like the Psalm 45 reference for your fill in the blank. And yes I do see Romans 14 as being something different. I see Paul quoting Isaiah 45 with a specific goal in mind. In examining Isaiah 45:22-25, God is extending an invitation for the entire earth to turn to Him (I believe in repentance). From His mouth has gone forth the decree that "every knee will bow to Him and every tongue shall swear allegiance". That's an oath that one would swear or confess in order to come under His allegiance, or dare I say "enter His Kingdom". Verse 24 contains the oath that they will take in that day. "Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength."

    Now for Paul to be saying that this will occur at the same time as the Judgment Seat of Christ (or rather saying THIS IS the Judgment Seat of Christ) would show that He believes the earth is being judged at this time. The earth is turning to Him in repentance as those who come under His authority make the confession and bow the knee before Him. If we move back to Isaiah 45:18, we see that the whole context is the continuation of God's program (programme?) for planet earth.

    I would agree with Dev's comments about rewards. Luke 19:11-27 shows them entering this future reality by receiving authority within the kingdom. "Rule over five cities." But there is no conflict with what you are saying. ALL authority has been given to the Son.

    Have fun and stay busy - Luke 19:13

    -The Orange Mailman

  15. Heather

    Dev,

    I've probably already said too much here. But what you mention is the teaching with which I'm most familiar. Not sure what the order of judgment is supposed to be, but what I was trying to say is that a focus on "there is no condemnation" may cause believers without an OT grounding of who Jesus is to become lazy in our pursuit of excellence.

    The underlying eschatology that formed the views of most preachers I've sat under affected their emphasis from the pulpit. Lots of NT teaching--mostly Gospel and epistles. Not much OT, nor real connection between the God who judged His people, national Israel, and the God who will one day return as ruling King.

    The pastors I've sat under have mainly been very godly men who I would never dream of calling down for heresy. I just don't recall their emphasizing the need for the working out of our salvation with fear and trembling.

    Glen,

    I hope my commentary didn't confuse your thread. The question you asked just sent me thinking in a different direction, I guess. After so many years of not seeing Jesus as being the same God who is in the OT, perhaps I'm too quick to cite a particular eschatological framework.

    If you're worried that you personally don't take Him seriously enough, I suppose you could take a trip through Isaiah and Ezekiel....it served to instill in me a healthy respect for Jesus as Judge.

  16. Dev

    Hi heather

    actually i would think that preaching truly - from the OT included - there is no condemnation in Christ - is the very thing that will allow us to have the pursuit of excellence ?

  17. Heather

    Dev,

    I will readily admit to having projected my personal experience into my thought. Maybe I never actually heard good preaching while growing up. Maybe I didn't listen well enough, I don't know.

    This was the "oh, look, one more post to read before getting offline" sort of things that caught my attention as my allotted internet time ran out. Should have read and just contemplated to myself.

    I've gotten involved in discussion like this before and been completely scattered with my attempts at interaction. I'll let you all continue and just read quietly :)

  18. Bobby Grow

    I've never thought of this in an Arian sense; I don't really think this is what's going on.

    I think the "Bema" is an important distinction to make. If this analogy is to be taken seriously, then it is those who have "run the race" and finished well --- they are rewarded duely.

    And the lense I've always read II Cor 5:10 through is the one provided by I Cor. 3:11; and the idea of "rewards." Which in my opinion is virtually non-existent in the amil/postmil framework (and I understand why).

    But I take this to be a "Believers judgement." It seems the context supports this (Paul is indeed speaking to believers, so the "we all" is important); that the Bema analogy carries more weight than I think you're giving credit for; and that the I Cor. 3 context and the concept of "rewards" needs to be seriously considered when interpreting II Cor. 5:10.

    Just my 4 cents :-).

  19. Glen

    ok, happy to rename the post "It's not cos anyone is Arian" :)

    A couple of points:

    * I'm very happy with the concept of reward. Some will get ten cities in the new creation, some will get 5 etc. I don't see this as a problem for amill

    * I think too much weight is being put on a bema / thronos distinction that the NT just cannot bear. Every instance of bema is with regards to judgement - there's nothing about reward anywhere in the NT that's associated with 'bema'

    * Dev's right to say there's 'no condemnation' for Christians, I just don't see why that has to necessitate a separate judgement - think of Matthew 25.

    * 1 Cor 3 is another example of reward coming on the same "Day" as judgement. The revealing fire brings all things to light. For Christians there's no question of it being a judging or purging fire - it doesn't even touch them - it only tests their work. For unbelievers the fire will be very different. But I still don't see where we're getting the idea of a *separate* judgement seat / throne from.

  20. Si

    Heather said of her dispensational upbringing: "Jehovah God tends to be attached to “Law” and viewed as powerful, angry and ready to crush humanity in judgment.

    Jesus is viewed as humble, gentle. The Bringer of peace and grace but not so much “the Judge” of saints as well the unsaved."

    They are more like Marcions than I thought! I'm now not surprised at why Brian McLaren (who grew up with a dispensational upbringing, IIRC) sees two 'gods' in scripture (I'm surprised at where he sees them and what he calls them, though) - 'Yaweh', the Hebrew god, who is humble, gentle, brings peace and grace - throws out the older brothers, but not unrepentant younger ones and 'Theos' the Greek god added later by the writers of the Bible - sovereignity, wrath, judgement. Pullman's 'Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ' seems to take a similar approach (he's twigged that gnosticism is, as Iranaeus said "the heresy on which all are based" and is preaching gnosticism in his books, rather than atheism - very cunning).

    The original passage (2 Cor 5), only mentions the judgement of those in the body. That is not to say that there are two judgements. But if the focus of the sermon is judgement of believers and doesn't say that this is a separate judgement, even if it doesn't mention the judgement of those not in Christ, then it's OK on that front. Obviously, declaring to be a separate judgement seat is wrong.

    Paul's motive for pleasing Christ in v9 and 10 is simply reward. But there's more "Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others." (v11a). The Judgement has been talked about and then judgement (not entirely clear from this passage whether it's on us-in-Christ or those-in-Adam). Interestingly, there's a 'we' and 'you' thing in that part of 2Cor and repeated exhortations to believe the gospel, to be reconciled to God. I'm not sure quite what to make of it - is Paul addressing those who aren't in the Lord - but in the visible church - explaining why he cares, why he's bringing the Gospel to people?

  21. John Ljungberg

    What about the living/dead distinction?

    The following passages are about Jesus judging the living and the dead: Acts 10.42; 2 Tim 4.1; 1 Pet. 4.5.

    To what extent could this be taken to mean spiritually dead, and spiritually alive?
    After all, Jesus says in Luke 20.38:
    "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."

    In this sense ALL will be judged (for all are alive) but for those who are alive in Christ there will be no condemnation (those spiritually dead will be condemned).

    Does this make sense?

  22. Heather

    They are more like Marcions than I thought!

    ACK! I'm guessing that's bad, too?
    Forgive me for butting in again, but please don't misunderstand that all dispensational views lead to Brian Maclaren-style belief. That Jesus IS God, and Judge was never questioned at any time. It is an understood truth but just was not as strongly stressed from the pulpit as it is, say, on this site.

    And I do think it has something to do with the underlying perspective that we can learn from the way God dealt with Israel, but that it's a little different for non-Jewish Christians who are not under the dispensation of "Law".

    To be fair, I think it is interesting to note how the Lord does appear to reveal different aspects of His nature at different points in History. It is just really tempting to focus too much on smelling one flower while dropping the rest of the bouquet.

    This site and all the gracious commenters have been a blessing to me in that the Lord has frequently used your thoughts to teach and encourage me to look things up for myself and ask Him rather than just accept what is said without question. Learning to separate the meat of the Word from the bones of human error has been a good exercise. And the clarity of being able to better see God's unchanging nature actively at work through all history has been refreshing.

    It would be nice if more believers were willing to overlook denominational and geographical boundaries so that we could more freely learn from and be corrected by each other instead of automatically be suspicious and condemning of things that are not readily familiar.

    God bless.

  23. Dev

    think you're right they are the same throne and the same judgment - the terminology can just refer to different things that take place there

    i think it's just the negative connotation with the word ' judgment' that makes people want to differentiate

  24. Heather

    It would be nice if more believers were willing to overlook denominational and geographical boundaries so that we could more freely learn from and be corrected by each other instead of automatically be suspicious and condemning of things that are not readily familiar.

    I meant believers who are not as willing to engage in discussion as you all have been.

    Think I'll go sit on my hands now.

  25. Si

    Heather - I'm no way implying that dispensationalism leads to McLarenism! Marcion chucked out the OT (and reworked most of the NT to get rid of the Jewish) because the OT had a nasty God of wrath. While nowhere near the same level there's a little bit of his spirit at work there.

    I think it's more this at work in a lot of churches that do what Glen is disagreeing with in his post. Much more Marcion than Arius - Jesus is all love, so won't do judging, except as discipline for those that are his.

  26. Heather

    Hi Si,

    Thank you for explaining your thought. Guess I'm feeling guilty for having brought up dispensationalism as a possible reason for not readily seeing Christ as THE Judge Who will judge all of us.

    there’s a little bit of his spirit at work there.

    This makes sense.

    We are all influenced by the thoughts and opinions of others whom we contact. The more subtly a wrong idea is presented, the more dangerous it can be for the less discerning. It's good that you are willing to point out the potential danger.

    Marcion's view sounds a little like what some atheists like to say when arguing that Christians should mind our own business and not be so "judgmental" concerning sin.

  27. Bobby Grow

    But within the group of I Cor 3 it says the fire is checking the believers; how is that synomous with the Great White Throne? The GWT is a judgement of unbelievers (death and hades).

    I guess it's just a different of emphasis. I do think Bema and thronos need to be considered disparately; becasue of the context.

    The reason, there is a difference for a premiller, is because the premiller sees different judements necessarily --- chronologically so. We are taken to heaven, given new bodies, and come back and rule and reign with Christ for a thousand years --- which would presuppose that the "believers judgement" has already taken place (i.e. we are given glorified bodies before we come back with Christ at the millennium). For the amiller there aren't these "stages" and it's all one event.

    If you're a premiller (even non-dispensational) you have to believe in these judgements separately. If you are an amiller you have to think of them as "one", necessarily so. It all makes sense, internally speaking, that is internal to each of the distinctives represented by these two disparate interpretive frameworks.

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