Full Text for Notes on Chiliasm, part 4 (Text)

the predictions of the, future continually tODk the form and image of the present or the past. . .. The New can be conceived af only under the< aspectsl of the Old. _ .. It was quite natural and, in a, senSEl, ne'cessary tha,t the prophets should speak of thEl better things to come in language and imagery deri:ved from such as were known and familiar to their minds." Patrick Fairbairn, The Prophet's Prospects of the Jews, pp.147-153.) Notes on Chiliasm. 405 the Beast. We would not blame him if he said: If Scripture cannot speak for itself, I will have none of it. Men will lose all respect for the Bible, as they lost respect for the Delphic oracle, if its state- ments are made as ambiguous as those of the pythoness, if John 5,28 f. bears a hidden meaning, if "all nations" means representatives of some nations, if "quickly" means "after a long time." When one has read a few volumes of chiliastic literature and finds strange meanings continually put into Scripture-texts and the Bible made to speak a new language, 1 001'. 14, 23 comes to mind: "If there come in those that are unlearned or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad~" Is Scripture really such a confused, cabalistic, contradictory writing? Let the premillennialists beware! They are weakening the authority of Scripture. Scripture does not mean much under the Papacy. There it is "like a waxen nose." What becomes of it under the chiliastic treatment? To apply the chiliastic method of interpretation "is to introduce absolute confusion and surrender the prophetic field to the caprice of individual feeling or the shifting currents of popular opinion." (Fairbairn, op. cit.) p. 154.) The chiliastic attitude towards Scripture is, in the second place, fraught with grave danger to the spiritual life. The denial of plain teachings of Scripture is not a light matter. The heart of every Ohristian protests against any brushing aside of Ohrist's words. Where this is done, either consciously or unconsciously, the integrity of the Ohristian faith suffers. When Hengstenberg, after stating that Ohiliasm is in direct conflict with the teaching of the Lord in the gospels and of the epistles, declared that the matter does not endanger the spiritual life in its inner nature, Lehre und Wehre replied: "Wir meinen, dU(l'ch das Festhalten irgendeines Irrtums, der die 'A us- sprueche des H errn usw. gegen sich hat,' komme das geistliche Leben in Gefahr." (6, 211.) The reference here is not to those who con- sciously, deliberately, and persistently reject words of Ohrist. Such an attitude destroys the Ohristian life without fail. The reference is to those who are not conscious of being in opposition to Scripture, who have deluded themselves into thinking that they are fighting, not against Ohrist's Word, but for it, but who are in fact denying plain teachings of Scripture. Such men are in grave danger. They are doing violence to their faith. Faith is alive to God's Word. Faith clings to the words as they are uttered by God and will not consent to the rejection of plain teachings of Scripture. Faith is sincere and accepts without questioning every word of Scripture. The chiliast therefore is clinging to his opinion against the persistent protest of his Christian faith. He is doing that of which his faith disapproves. He is engaged in a dangerous business. Mark well: Faith, the soul of the spiritual life, lives solely and exclusively on the Word of God. It lives and moves and has its being 406 Notes on ChiliasID. in Scripture. The chiliast, however, while he bases his faith as a Christian solely on the word of Scripture, bases his "faith" as a chiliast on the word of man, on human figments substituted for the Word of God. Chiliasm involves the Christian in a conflict between faith and enthusiasm. So far as, and as long as, he is engaged in chiliastic thinking, he is suppressing the voice and activity of faith, and he is keeping the source of all spiritual life from pouring out its full flood. .And everything he thinks, speaks, and does in the interest of chiliasm is of an unspiritual nature. Its source is not the Word of God. Finally, what of the attitude of indifferentistic toleration taken by many chiliasts? With respect to the conflicting teaching in their own midst they counsel forbearance. Dr. Frost says: "The reader should keep it in mind that there is much agreement among prophetic teachers concerning the major events connected with the return of Christ. Also, he should keep in mind that there is much disagree- ment concerning the minor ones. For the first we may give God thanks. . .. For the second, too, we may give God thanks; for the existing disagreement has the advantage of producing in us humble- ness of mind concerning our own knowledge and charity of spirit concerning that of others, which are spiritual virtues greatly to be desired." (The Second Coming of Christ, Foreword.) Dr. Frost is convinced that his teaching of "The Coming Posttribulational" is the Scriptural teaching. He denounces the teaching of his antetribula- tional brethren as unscriptural. .And still he thanks God that they take this view. And the antetribulationists accord him the same courtesy. Bibliotheca Sacra, which rejects Frost's teaching as un- scriptural, says in discussing his attitude: "This is most gratifying; for it helps to maintain fellowship among those who agree in the main, but differ as to some of the details." .And speaking of another posttribulationist, it says : "No one of course would deny the author the right to his view on this subject." (1934, pp. 373. 376.) The same forbearance is counseled and practised with respect to the non- millennialists. The Lutheran Companion says: "On this question [twofold resurrection, etc.] the Ohristian Ohurch is divided into two schools of interpretation. . .. .And they, as a rule, try to be fair and to respect one another's opinion as they continue to study the Scrip- tures for mutual edification." (1934, December 29.) Large sections of the chiliasts have been, and are, demanding that this whole matter be treated as "an open question," each side to hold to its view and tolerate the opposite view. "We plead for Ohristian courtesy and for the manifestation of the Spirit of Ohrist." (Watchman-Examiner.) How are we to evaluate this toleration? Dr. Frost calls it "a spir- itual virtue." We abhor it as unspiritual. It is the result, with some, of the lack of assurance. When men are not thoroughly con- Notes on Chiliasm. 407 vinced of the truth, the Scripturalness, of a doctrine, they are ready to concede that the contrary teaching may be true. But on the ques- tion in dispute between us and the chiliasts, Scripture leaves no room for uncertainty. The fact that men remain uncertain is due to their refusal to bow to Scripture. That is not a spiritual virtue. With others the case stands thus: they are convinced in their own mind that chiliasm in general or some particular point connected with it is Scripture-truth, and yet they are willing to have the contrary doctrine taught in the Ohurch. That is an unspiritual, wicked attitude. No man has a right to his view when it contravenes Scripture. It is treason against Scripture to concede him that right. The chiliastic treatment of Scripture justifies Dr. O. Y. Zorn's verdict: "Die SCHWAERMEREI der Ohiliasten gehoert mit zu den geistlichen Plagen, von w'elchen die K irche J esu Ohristi geplagt wird bis an den Juengsten Tag." (Die Offenbarun.g St. Johannis j p.342.) And there are other reasons why chiliasm must be branded as a plague. 2. The chiliastic promi~e of earthly prosperity and glory perverts the Ohristian's outloole and hope. That is the second count in the indictment against chiliasm. Scripture warns us against conceiving of the kingdom of God as a worldly realm, John 18, 36; Luke 17, 20. Again, the way set before us on this earth is the via crucis, Acts 14,22; John 16, 33; Matt. 5, 3 ff.; Luke 12, 32. And finally, our hope is fued on the bliss of heaven, Phil. 3, 20 f.; Titus 2, 13; Matt. 5,12 ; Luke 12, 32, and our affection set on things above, not on things on the earth, 001. 3, 2. Ohiliasm, however, craves for an outward, earthly glory of the Ohurch and fixes the hope of men on the fictitious pros- perity and rulership prepared for the Ohurch in the millennium.3) 3) Ea.rthly ha.ppinoos and outwa,rd glory for the Church is the stock in trade of chilia,sm. Dr. Frost doolE! extensively with it. "Man persists in looking forward to a, time and place wherein his hope for a, paradise on earth will be realized. And for once in human experience man's: natural thought is in harmony with the divine purpose." (Op. cit., p. 139'.) "The Ohurch as a whole will exercise authority over earthly Israel. 'Thousan.d years' on the' face of it signifies temporal conditions' and thus an earthly state." - "Christ promised His apostles tha,t He would again sit with them in fellowship and dispense to them the' wine, and this in an earthly king- dom." Isaiah foreteUs "the rejuvena,tion of the whole ea,rth. . .'. Man, when he returns with Christ in glory to reign with Him for a, thousand yea,rs, will find himse,u in a new physical environment-the world trans- formed both spiritually and physically." (Pp. 75. 77. 144 f. 235.) Similarly Bengel, Seiss, Zahn, and others, as quoted on preceding pages. Also Weid- ner: "The reference [of Rev. 20', 4] can only be to a judicial rule over the nations on the ea,rth. . ... Christ will glorify His Ohurch befoTe the world." And then in the wOords Oof Auberlen: "Christ and His saints will" by their spirituaJ rule, direct all external relations, and circumstances. All poetry, an aTt,. all science, aU social life,. will be Chris-tian. . ., And this bl-essed sta,te of general salvation will extend even to the kingdom of nature. The sOoil will bring fOTtn with inexhaustible and ennobled fertility; the animal world be freed from murder and fury." (Annat. on, Rev., pp. 280-358.) "Durch, die mit der Wiederkunft Christi ver- 408 Notes on Chiliasm. It is a vicious delusion. Its effects are harmful in the extreme. In the first place, since the whole thing is an illusion, it engages the mind of the Ohristian with unscriptural thoughts. The Ohris- tian has no right to engage in thoughts that are not supplied by the Word of God. The devotion warmed by the expectation of an earthly realm of Ohrist and the Ohristian is not Ohristian devotion. The prayer for the coming of such a kingdom and the thanksgiving for such promises are not inspired by the Holy Spirit. And it is not safe to follow the guidance of your own spirit. Led by the spirit of enthusiasm (enthusiasm being the substitution of man's own thoughts for Scripture), you do not know where you will land. The ign.is fatuus will lead you into a morass where there is no stability. There is no stability to chiliastic thinking. There is no limit to the flights of its diseased fancy. Out off from Scripture, the phantasy of man runs wild. And it is a morass in another respect. In the second place, these thoughts engendered by chiliasm are not harmless fancies, innocuous dreaming, but distinctly evil thoughts. They are the product of the flesh. They are carnal, evil thoughts. The chiliastic promise of earthly happiness, earthly glory, appeals to bundenen topographischen, geographisohen und kosmisohen Veraendentngen wird cine Meerst1'asse ueber J61'usalem das Mittelmeer und den Persischen M eel'busen veTbinden." (Zahn says no; the ocean is turned into dry land.) "Dadul'ch Wi1'd Jerusalem die Metropole del' Welt." (Der OhTistl. Apolo' gete, 16. Juni 1915.) Evangelist W. Sunday: "Think of how glorious it will be to live, a thousand yeanl in this world with our blessed Master and be closely associa,te.d with Him; with bodies that will not wear out or grow old, no vl'Tinkles' or white hair,. perfect health, and with faculties for enjoyment a thousand times grea,ter than we possess now. Po,verty, sick- ness, and wa,r will be unknown." Donald G. Ba,rnhouse: "When Christ is reigning upon the earth, it will be right to turn the other cheek. It will be right to follow a policy of pacifism before an unregenerate world. For in tha,t day when the evil and selfish instincts of men break out against their neighbors, the one whO' is oppressed will be sure, in sub- mitting, that in a fla,sh some mighty angel will be theTe taking ven- geance. . •. Some day that kingdom will be esta,blished. The King will 00 ruling O'ver the world by means of His, glorified saints. . .. To the one our w,rd will give, one city, to another five cities, to another ten cities." (His Own Received Him Not. But-, pp.47.73.) The chiliasm indulged in by the Russellites is of the same earthly, carnal character, with Rus- sellite va,ria,tionsl. "The follO'wers of Russell will inherit the earth when the millennium begins,. when there will 00 nO' sta,rving for brea,d, nO' bur- densome taxations, no distress of any kind. .And this is to be expected very shortly; within the present generation 'Christendom' and the nations that rule therin shall be completely destroyed." (The Kingdom, p. 21; Pop. Symb., p. 418.) - The chiliasts a.re dre'aming again the dream of the Jewsi. The Jews dreamt, and a,re dreaming, of an ea