To all my Grandkids.
As you all, know, I have been watching recent unfolding world events through the lens of Biblical prophecy, and I am amazed and deeply humbled at the privilege I have to be observing first hand what may be the culminating events of history before the establishment of Jesus’ kingdom on earth.
And at the same time I have been very troubled, even angry, at how the Church in general has lost its vitality and so many Christians have become sedated and drowsy because of Satan’s deception and most Christians’ willingness to accept unquestioningly what they absorb from popular christian literature and from superficial christian teaching. There, I’ve said it.
Let me explain:
For eighteen hundred years scholarly Christian men , enlightened by the Holy Spirit, used Bible prophecies to shed light on the historical events engulfing them and to encourage them with the assurance that the same omniscient God Who had foreknown ( actually planned) history so accurately was the same omnipotent God Who was with them through the most severe trials and would bring them through victoriously to present them faultless at Jesus’ coming. This was the message of assurance, hope and victory which enabled and empowered countless thousands of Jesus’ followers to remain faithful through experiences of persecutions, tortures and martyrdoms, so sadistic and beastly that they are no longer even discussed in Christian churches because they are too politically incorrect.
It was their understanding of the key principles of bible prophecy that enabled Godly men “ to understand their times “ in such a way as to recognize and expose “ the man of sin “ and so to lay the foundation for the Protestant Reformation.
The Protestant Reformation saw the re- birth of all the freedoms that we so blithely take for granted today, among them freedoms of speech, worship, education, career, scientific discovery, political choice, and more. It also saw the death of the political power of the papal dynasty that had ruled the world “ in the place of Christ “, the self-styled “Vicar of Christ” for over one thousand years.
So great was the blow to the pope’s political power that he focussed all the powers of his administration on reconquering his empire, and he recognized that this was not possible so long as the dynasty of papal powers was recognized by ordinary people to be “ the man of sin “ described in the New Testament.
So he initiated a new order, the Jesuits, as a counter – reformation agency, with the express mandate to do whatever was necessary to undo the effects of the Reformation.
Whatever you may think of the modern day Jesuits, their history is totally infamous. Their schools and colleges had the highest educational standards in the world. Their priests were highly trained and educated , authoring many very scholarly books. However, over the years they have been expelled from almost every country in the world because of their illegal, nefarious activities.
One of their authors was the Jesuit priest Ribera of Salamanca, who in 1585 published a commentary on the book of Revelation in which he took great pains to deny the application of the prophecies concerning antichrist to the existing Church of Rome. Cardinal Bellarmine, nephew of Pope Marcellus II, considered to be “ the most powerful controversialist in defence of popery that the Roman church ever produced”, elaborated Ribera’s teachings, arguing that antichrist would be a particular man, a Jew, that he would rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, would claim to be the Jewish messiah, and would conquer the world – Jewish, Muslim and heathen – all in the space of three and a half years, sometime in the distant future, hence the name “ Futurism “. Later, in Spain, the Jesuit priest Manuel De Lacunza, writing under the pseudonym of Rabbi Ben Ezra, ( to give his deception more credibility ) expanded on Ribera’s writings into his own book which he published in 1791.
Although this radically new idea did not gain much traction in England, (for example, note the text of “ The Westminster Confession Of Faith “) a renegade minister of the Presbyterian Church named Edward Irving translated Lacunza’s book into English and taught it as truth to the cult he had formed after being dismissed from the Congregational Church. Among his cultish following was a fifteen year old Scottish lass who had a dream of the church being secretly snatched away before a period of terrible trouble , and from this unlikely source sprang the un – Biblical doctrine of the Secret Rapture. Irving told the story to his disciple John Darby at a conference in Ireland in 1830 where Irving was teaching Futurism. John Darby was a co – founder of the Plymouth Brethren church in Plymouth, England, in 1831. He made several preaching tours of the U.S. during the 1860’s, and he propagated the message of futurism and the secret rapture wherever he went.
Cyrus Ingersoll Scofield served under General Lee in the Confederate army, was wounded in 1863, attended law school, later became District Attorney of Kansas .
Subsequent to his conversion in his 30’s by D.L. Moody, he was exposed to the teachings of John Darby and was deeply influenced by them. Becoming himself a strong advocate of dispensational futurism, he pastored several churches and in 1890 started his Comprehensive Bible Correspondence Course which later became incorporated as Moody Bible Institute. Using the material from his correspondence courses, he published the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909, which became the primary medium of futurist propaganda among North American Christians for the following century. ( Incidentally, in his writings Scofield gives himself a “D.D.” degree after his name, although there is no documented evidence of his ever having been granted an honorary doctor of divinity) With the establishment of Moody Bible Institute the idea of futurism was given “institutional permanence”.
In 1907 B.I.O.L.A was founded by Lyman Stewart and T.C.Horton, who , provided additional “Institutional permanence “ to the doctrine of dispensational futurism by requiring a statement of belief from all the teaching staff.
Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, a disciple of C.I. Scofield, in 1924 founded what later became Dallas Theological Seminary, containing explicit dispensational futurism in its constitution, and together these three schools have produced most of North America’s best known preachers, teachers and authors.
So why am I angry?
Someone gave me Joel Rosenberg’s C.D. Set of “Epicentre” for Christmas.
Rosenberg has written several novels based on a Futuristic understanding of End Times, but also on his extensive inside knowledge of intelligence gathering both in Washington and in Israel, and so is able to hold the reader spell-bound with his plots. I have enjoyed all his books.
Unfortunately, “Epicentre” is not a novel, but a purported documentary in which he reveals the “facts” upon which he based his novels. One of his sources of facts is what he calls “the lens of bible prophecy”. Using this lens he explains how the pertinent chapters of Ezekiel have accurately foretold recent and current events pertaining to the nation of Israel,, and he then goes on to use his Futurism lens to foretell, dogmatically, without any equivocation, a whole sequence of events about to take place. I found myself continually wincing as I listened to the C.D.s in my truck on my way to and from the ranch.
I was also given one of Dr. David Jeremiah’s books for Christmas. Something about : Six Clues to Understanding Current World Events, or something like that.
Dr. Jeremiah is a graduate of Dallas, and I have heard him give some excellent sermons, but when he talks about end times he remains totally true to the Dallas constitution and spouts John Darby with the same total assurance with which he quotes scripture. Totally dogmatic about one-world government, description of antichrist, sudden disappearance of the Church before things get too bad, etc.
Again, I found myself wincing. Why? Don’t we have freedom of speech in this country?
This is not a freedom of speech issue. This is a matter of truth, teachers and liability. With respect to truth, teachers are held to a higher standard. Rosenberg not only set himself up as a teacher, explaining fulfilled events from Ezekiel, but he then became a prophet, using his own faulty lens through which to foretell future events. The test of an Old Testament prophet was the accuracy of his prophecy. There was only one penalty if the prophecy did not come true.
So this is really serious stuff.
I found myself growing angry, first, because of their blatant dogmatism and the implications for themselves, as false teachers, second, because of the terrible black eye it gives the church when their predictions don’t happen. Futurist eschatology is one of the few things that mainstream American media understands well regarding evangelical Christians, and instead of being effective as an incredibly powerful apologetic, their (and the thousands of similar ) prophetic utterances will have precisely the opposite effect as those watching will recognize them as false. And thirdly, it will serve to reinforce the false teachings that American Christians have absorbed from their pastors, TV evangelists, Hal Lindsey and Left Behind Series plus many more, and blind them to the real significance of whats happening all around them.
Genes are determinative. Pedigree counts. And when one traces the pedigree of the doctrine of Futurism to its source, he finds himself in Dante’s Inferno.
On the other hand, the Historicist school of interpretation which maintains that God gave the prophetic word to his people in order that they would understand His “ways and His works” throughout the unfolding of human history and therewith encouraged and fortified for the hardships they would certainly face; that both the nature and the time periods of the prophecies were coded to conceal them from the casual reader but reveal them to the serious student; that the key to understanding the symbols was given by the Angel Himself who interpreted Daniel’s visions; and that one day stated in the prophecies represents one year in history, as confirmed by the fulfilment of the Seventy Weeks prophecy of Daniel chapter nine.
So how about the pedigree of Historicism?
Starting in the second century with the early church fathers, Justin Martyr, Iraeneus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Victorinus, Methodius, Lactantius, Eusebius, Athanasius, Jerome and Augustine in the fifth century.
Through the middle ages there were Bede and Ansport, Andreas and Anselm, Joachin Abbas and Almeric.
While it is true that these early expositors did not understand the time code, ( God’s apparent design was that every generation of Christians would be watching for Jesus’ imminent return ) they did understand the roles of Rome pagan and Rome papal, and the meaning of the seals and the trumpets of Revelation as those events unfolded.
It was for the scholars of the pre- Reformation period to start to recognize the immense periods foretold by the prophecies, and to understand the day/ year
interpretation, among them the Albigenses and the Waldenses, Wycliffe and the Lollards, John Huss and Jerome of Prague.
All the reformers , including Luther, Zwingli, Melancthon, Calvin, and Knox gained their inspiration and motivation from their certain knowledge identifying the man of sin of Revelation with the false papal church of Rome and that God’s judgment would begin to fall at the end of her 1260 year reign over the kings of the earth.
It was not just preachers and scholars who held to this view. What of the millions of Christian “heretics” who were tortured and martyred, holding to the true faith in opposition to the power they recognized as antichrist. Would they have held fast and endured if they believed their Bible to be silent with respect to the thousand plus year reign of the persecuting papal power?
Continuing with the post – Reformation church scholars, the long list of Puritan theologians, the famous Mede and Moore of England, Sir Isaac Newton himself;
Jonathan Edwards who is recognized as one of the most brilliant minds of modern times; Bengel, Alford, and Wordsworth, Birk and Bichesteth, Faber and Elliott.
And many more. We don’t recognize most of these names, and we grossly underestimate the debt of gratitude we owe them.
Two pedigrees. One starting with three unscrupulous Jesuit priests who had been ordered to undo the work of the Reformation, finding fertile ground within a cultish Christian group in England where it was reinforced by the dream of a fifteen year old girl. Carried to the New World by a minister with questionable credentials, at best, where it was imbedded in the founding principles of the major evangelical schools by men who had been tutored and discipled by C.I Scofield, and then throughout North America in the notes of the Scofield Reference Bible. Most of the Christian teachers, preachers and authors that you are familiar with were educated in schools where Futurism was taught as dogma.
The other starting with the early church fathers and continuing through the ages with a long line of Christian theologians representing the “ Who’s Who” of Protestant theological scholarship, whose views were confirmed by the unfolding of historical events and their faith continually strengthened as they watched the ongoing fulfilment of God’s word.
My grandchildren, listen to me.
I am drawing on the authority which is part of my grandfatherly prerogative.
You do not have the option of ignorance, because you are aware of the prophetic legacy you have inherited from your parents, grandfather, great grandfather and beyond, to Guinness, Elliot, Sir Isaac Newton and back through church history to the early fathers.
You do not have the option of saying it doesn’t matter because it is not an essential of the Christian faith. Should not God be the judge of that? Roughly one -third of the Bible consists of prophecy. Does God think it important?
You do not have the option of Pan-millennialism, ( it will all pan out in the end. Cute, but dangerous). Because you are intelligent people, you have all been exposed to the basics, you have easy access to tons of material on the subject, and God holds you responsible. To whom much is given shall much be required.
Nor do you have the option of absorbing without question what you may hear, read, be taught , even though it may be coming from highly educated men you respect greatly.
You do have the option of starting with what you have and building on that foundation with careful study of God’s Word, history, the writings of qualified Christian men, and paying particular attention to the fulfilment of Bible prophecy in historical events, and in so doing you will become increasingly amazed at God’s goodness, wisdom and sovereignty, your own faith will be strengthened, and you will find yourself better equipped to lend a helping hand to those you meet.
And that is my grandfather’s prayer for each one of you.