PROPHETIC MOVEMENTS AND TEACHINGS GONE BAD & WHY GOOD DOCTRINE MATTERS
PARTIAL PRETERISM/VICTORIOUS ESCHATOLOGY A PAGE TAKEN OUT OF MORMON ESCHATOLOGY
Novel or new theology is never created in a vacuum. New ideas are typically formulated through dialogue between people who hold similar views. This has been a historically provable assertion for as long as people have been theologizing. One of the main forms that theology is constructed within is what we call times of revival, or at least the time period that immediately follows a movement of God among men. People typically try to formulate the primary ideas that were formulated and advanced by the primary figures of the movement. This applies to the standard-bearers of the era and the fringe players. Prophetic movements are particularly susceptible to the fringe elements of thought, as proponents generally look for unique teachings that can have a greater impact on the corpus.
PREVIOUS PROPHETIC MOVEMENTS The era of the mid-1800s is no exception to the rule. American Christianity was exiting the Second Great Awakening on American soil, and prophetic voices were postulating new ideas about God’s prophetic timeline. Fringe players included Joseph Smith and the burgeoning Mormon movement, the Seventh Day Adventist movement, the Watchtower Bible Society, the Apostolic movement out of England where the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine originated, and the repackaged amillenarian view that was being advanced as Preterist eschatology, which would later divide into subgroups like Glorious Eschatology, Partial Preterists, and victorious Eschatology.
Each one of the new variants of eschatology had unique ideas, while each had similar ideologies. The blended ideas are profound, as they grew out of the unique views of the founders of the divergent groups, like Charles Russell Taze’s rejection of Hell as a place of punishment based on DL Moody’s thinly veiled rejection of said doctrine. Ellen G. White and other Seventh Day Adventists had advocated a date for the return of Christ that had been revealed prophetically.
When the date passed and the visible return of Christ was nowhere to be seen, an explanation was proffered that included a secret second coming, where Jesus returned without being seen. Upon His departure, the Adventists advocated that Jesus went back to Heaven where He is currently calculating everyone’s sins and acts of righteousness. When the scales are weighed based on your works, the weightier scale determines your eternal destiny. The Mormons held a view that blended or borrowed ideas from multiple sources.
Mormonized Eschatology Each variation was an escapist theology, with one variation holding the seedling idea of Preterism. One of the most dangerous ideas that emerge from the partial Preterist and Preterist argument is the blending of standard Mormon theology with Christian theology. The notion that there was a great Christian exodus out of Jerusalem isn’t a new position. It is a major segment of Mormon theology. You can see this at the Latter Day Saints website under an article entitled The Amazing Christian Escape From The AD 70 Destruction of Jerusalem.
This chapter sounds a lot like the LDS article I have referred to on the LDS website. The LDS conclusion is the same as Eberle and Trench’s, “after those Christians in Jerusalem were allowed to escape, the Roman soldiers sealed off the city (p. 37),” and “yet, while the Jews suffered starvation, slaughter, and capture, their fellow Christians in Jerusalem escaped (LDS).” The LDS continues, “The whole body, however, of the church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a divine revelation, given to men of approved piety there before the war, removed from the city, and dwelt at a certain town beyond the Jordan called Pella.”
The incorporation of Mormon partial-Preterism is documented on the Mormon website, Let God Be True: in a post entitled: The Witness of 70 AD. The parallels to Mormon thought, and ideology is profound, as the Mormons make the same appeal that Eberle and Trench do in making sure that they stand separate from a futurist interpretation of virtually the same passages of Scripture.
Mormon Roots of The Great Escape of 70 AD J Julius Scott makes the same assertion in an article at preteristarchive.com. Scott claims that the Christians at Jerusalem in 66AD survived the Jerusalem seize by Rome, making the same argument as Eberle, Trench, and the LDS. I find this problematic, as the LDS doctrine has been a part of their eschatology from the early days of their origin, as LDS current theologians consider them to be the righteous remnant who created the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls have become a major point for Mormon apologists, as it was an LDS contention that the Scrolls would produce a copy of Joseph Smith’s Plates.
The modern Preterist view dates from the same period. Eberle’s claim that the Partial Preterist view has been around from the early church age is disingenuous. The Early church was Post-Tribulational, not Preterist. Around 350-400AD the eschatological view of the early church began to shift toward an Amillenarian position, that was successfully championed by Augustine. The Augustinian view became the dominant position of the majority of the western church. It is the view of Roman Catholicism, Calvinism, most Lutherans, the Anglicans and Episcopalians, and others.
Eberle’s assertion that the disciple’s reluctance to accept Jesus’ contention that He would die would have meant that their questioning could not have been about the second coming is also a stretch (p. 49). A lot of ground was covered between Jesus’ revelation that He would die and Peter’s bold assertion that it would not happen. These were men who were receiving a three-year education in Kingdom Theology. Of course, they could have had the second coming in mind, particularly with the given subject matter Jesus was addressing.
Tactius Numbers of Deportees Please keep Trench and Eberle’s claims that the Jerusalem destruction of 70AD was not as horrific as what the Jewish people encountered at the hands of Nazi Germany. Jewish Holocaust survivors and their descendants would find this conclusion offensive and an affront to their people (p. 41). It is true that a disproportionate number of the Jewish population died in the Jerusalem siege, but it was a relatively small percentage. Only one in ten Jews lived in Israel at the time of the Temple’s destruction. Tacitus disputed Josephus numbers, claiming that a total of 600,000 Jews lived in Jerusalem at the time of the fall of the city. He claimed that the majority of those people were captured and became slaves of the Empire.
On Heretics It is also important to examine the credibility of the sources Glorious Eschatology uses in building their case. One dangerous ancient source they utilize in making their case is Origen of Alexandria (p. 19). Origen is an early Church Father who is most scholars typically refrain from using with any depth or precision, as he was advocated doctrines that would have branded him as a heretic in most time periods of church history. Christianity Today’s article on Origen stipulates that he was more of a Gnostic than a Christian. They say that “the root of these controversies is Origen’s use of the Bible. Neo-Platonism taught that physical objects acted as symbols of spiritual reality, and so contained a double meaning.
Likewise, Origen and many other Christians (like Augustine) believed the Scriptures had a double meaning; the spiritual significance, while escaping the notice of most people, could be contemplated by the perfected Christian. But Origen’s interpretations pushed the boundaries of orthodoxy. Origen believed in the preexistence of souls and eventually everyone, including the Devil, would be saved. Origen also described the Trinity as a hierarchy, not as equality of Father, Son, and Spirit.
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