Response to Robert L. Saucy’s Paper -- By: Vern S. Poythress

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 10:2 (Fall 1989)
Article: Response to Robert L. Saucy’s Paper
Author: Vern S. Poythress

Response to Robert L. Saucy’s Paper

Vern S. Poythress

I have a large measure of agreement with Dr. Saucy’s paper, and agree that he has put his finger on some points of weakness and unclarities in my book. I also agree that the two points that he singles out for major discussion are indeed significant (pp. 4-10). Let me take up his two points in order.

The Typological and Symbolic

First, the question of the typological and symbolic. I agree that this question is complex, and that mere appeal to typological or symbolic dimensions of the OT does not answer many of our questions about the exact nature of future fulfillment. It is therefore difficult to find where Dr. Saucy and I substantially disagree. I do locate “some material fulfillment” in the new earth (p. 4). That new earth will be in many respects like the premillennialists’ millennium, and so need not to be “quite different than the historical picture of the prophecies” (p. 4).

What, then, about the future role of Israel? My book was not as clear as it should have been. I think that it is true both that the church has a typological relation to OT Israel and that the Jews have a continuing distinct national identity alongside other nations. Moreover, believing Jews are to have a continuing priestly ministry, just as the other nations within the church do. My remaining question is whether this ministry will be effectively excluded to Gentiles. What I am against, as I indicate in my response to Karleen, is the exclusion of Gentiles rather than the inclusion of Israel.

With regard to the heavenly Jerusalem, I regret that on pp. 119-20 I did not make it clear that it is the present heavenly Jerusalem together with the future new Jerusalem that is the fulfillment, not the present Jerusalem alone. Saucy is quite right that my statement was one-sided.


Saucy’s second question is about the number of stages in eschatological fulfillment. Do we have two stages, namely, now and the new earth, or three, now, millennium (following the Second Coming), and new earth.

Saucy is technically correct: I presently hold a two-stage view. However, I do not think that this view is very clearly taught in the Bible. There are some passages that appear to point in that direction, but others, such as some cited by Saucy, appear to point toward premillennialism or postmillennialism. In the face of these difficulties, I would like to remain very open to changing my position. Premillennialism has been represented in the church at least since the second century, and continues to be the position of both dispensational theologians and some covenant theologians (includin...

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