First published by Christian Publications, Inc., 3825 Hartzdale Drive,Camp Hill, Pennsylvania 17011 Republished by www.kneillfoster.com in 2005. K. Neill Foster, Publisher. Paul L. King, Editor. A.W. Tozer, 1897-1963, Editorial Voice.
#6 CLASSIC-CHRISTIANITY/THE INDEX
1) THE PUBLISHER ON "THE SOFT UNDERBELLY OF UNWISE EVANGELICAL APOCALYPTICISM"
2) THE EDITOR ON "END TIME FERVOR"
3) A.W. TOZER ON "INTERPRETING THE BOOK OF REVELATION"
4) EARLY CHURCH FATHER HIPPOLYTUS ON "THE NAME OF THE BEAST"
5) G. CAMPBELL MORGAN ON "FANCIFUL INTERPRETATIONS"
6) RECOMMENDED READING: TOZER ON THE HOLY SPIRIT
7) A.B. BRUCE ON "THE AIM OF JESUS' END TIME PROPHECIES"
8) EARLY CHURCH FATHER IRENAEUS ON "KNOWING THE MYSTERIES OF GOD"
9) JOHN A. MACMILLAN ON "END TIME SPECULATION"
10) OSWALD CHAMBERS ON "SPURIOUS SPECULATION"
11) CHARLES SPURGEON ON "KNOWING NOT THE YEAR, MONTH OR WEEK"
12) A.B. SIMPSON ON "PRACTICAL PREPARATION FOR CHRIST'S COMING"
13) READER'S CHOICE
1) THE PUBLISHER ON "THE SOFT UNDERBELLY OF UNWISE EVANGELICAL APOCALYPTICISM"
Evangelicals did not weather Y2K particularly well. There are still some entrepreneurs with large amounts of food stored who are now looking for ways to get rid of it. There are generators around that were purchased because the power grids were surely going to fail at the stroke of midnight, December 31, 1999. A kind of apocalyptic frenzy overtook some of us because, admittedly, we do believe the end is nigh.
I happily confess I am expecting the imminent return of Jesus Christ. I am of the persuasion that Christ's return is inevitably part of the linear (and biblical) view of history. Heaven and earth will pass away. This world is not our home and never will be. We are to occupy till He comes. That does not mean selling all our possessions and going out on a hillside to await our Lord. It does not mean announcing the date of Christ's coming, only to be found false when the set day arrives. Some evangelical Y2Kers came close to that kind of behavior.
The Y2K frenzy was not as bad as waiting hopelessly on a hillside. We were not alone in our alarm; the computer geeks and government fed the frenzy too. Who knows, they may have caught it from us.
But the soft underbelly of unwise evangelical apocalypticism was exposed. Y1K could have taught us a good deal had we taken time to read. Fortunately, should our Lord delay His coming, this unbecoming indulgence will not arrive again till Y3K.
2) THE EDITOR ON "END TIME FERVOR"
Back in my college days in the 1970s, end time fervor was at a fever pitch, just as it has been in recent days. Hal Lindsey's THE LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH and Larry Norman's song "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" were at their height of popularity. People speculated whether Arafat or Kissinger could be the Antichrist, and envisioned all kinds of end time scenarios. Now that we have all survived Y2K and the "Millennium Bug," it is appropriate to look back at many of the ways evangelicals have dealt with such prophecy furor in the past.
A study of the history of apocalyptic fervor shows that it has occurred repeatedly in various forms throughout church history, whether among the Church Fathers, the Middle Ages, Reformation times, the Irvingites and Darbyism in the 1830s, the Millerites of the 1840s, the turn of the twentieth century, the rise of Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin, the founding of the Israeli state, the Arab oil crisis, etc.
Certainly some of these occasions may have had prophetic significance. And we do not doubt the possibility that we may be on the brink of the Great Second Advent of Christ. But we must take care that we do not presume to know all the mysteries and details of apocalyptic literature. After decades of study of eschatology, I have concluded that the outlines and charts of the greatest prophecy teachers will all be found to be flawed shadows of the real end time events. One of my college Greek professors spoke with wisdom when he said, "I am a pan-millennialist and a pan-tribulationist. We need to be ready to go and ready to stay. But it is all going to pan out in the end."
3) A.W. TOZER (1897-1963) ON "INTERPRETING THE BOOK OF REVELATION"
It is a gracious aspect of our evangelical Christian fellowship that we do not make uniformity in prophetic interpretation the test of Christian orthodoxy. As believers we do not sit in judgment of others whose views on these matters are not identical with ours. Determining the actual day and hour of Christ's return to earth is not the occupation God has assigned to us. Our constant readiness to meet Him when He does return should be our most important consideration. (1)
The Revelation is a great book because it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ! . . . I warn you that it is entirely possible to turn the Revelation into a source of blight to your soul. . . . Revelation raises questions that none of us can answer. . . . Here is the method I must follow as we proceed in our study [of Revelation]:
We need not decipher and decode mysterious symbols to determine the outcome of this conflict of the ages. There is a plain and radiant theme from the beginning to the end of the Revelation: Jesus is Victor! (2)
(1) A.W. Tozer, JESUS IS VICTOR! (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1989), 22-23.
(2) Ibid., 9-10.
4) EARLY CHURCH FATHER HIPPOLYTUS (170-236) ON "THE NAME OF THE BEAST"
After suggesting that the number 666 may mean "Latinus," Hippolytus gives this caveat:
Wherefore we ought not to give it out as if this were certainly his name, nor again ignore the fact that he may not be otherwise designated. But having the mystery of God in our heart, we ought in fear to keep faithfully what has been told us by the blessed prophets, in order that when these things come to pass, we may be prepared for them, and not be deceived.
Hippolytus, as quoted by George E. Ladd, THE BLESSED HOPE (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1956), 30.
5) G. CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945) ON "FANCIFUL INTERPRETATIONS"
Whenever we speak of future things we are dealing with a matter full of importance, yet full of peril. There have been all kinds of fanciful interpretations, all wandering from the clear declarations of Scripture, in order to fit in with some preconceived notions of future things. We find in the Church of God today, vast numbers of God's own children, saints without a doubt, who have altogether given up any attention to what the Bible has to say concerning things to come. Christ knew this danger. . . . And His first word was, "Take heed that no man lead you astray." . . . We need that warning to fall upon our spirits. "Take heed." We cannot read these things carelessly. . . . Our last thought must be of the King himself.
G. Campbell Morgan, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1929), 283-284.
6) RECOMMENDED READING
TOZER ON THE HOLY SPIRIT compiled by Marilynne E. Foster -- A 366-DAY DEVOTIONAL--beautiful soft-cover binding
Order from Christian Publications by calling 1-800-233-4443 (in North America) or fax 1-717-761-7273 or web: www.christianpublications.com.
7) A.B. BRUCE (1831-1899) ON "THE AIM OF JESUS' END TIME PROPHECIES"
The aim of any prophetic discourse Jesus might deliver, . . , like that of all true prophecy, would be ethical; not to foretell, like a soothsayer, but to forewarn and forearm the representatives of a new faith, so that they might not lose their heads or their hearts in an evil perplexing time--not to gratify curiosity but to fortify against coming trial.
Prophetic utterance with such an aim would not need to be exact in statements as to dates and details, but only to be true as to the sequence and general character of events. From all we know of Hebrew prophecy it was to be expected that the prophesying of Jesus would possess only this latter kind of truth, instead of being like a "history of events before they come to pass."
A.B. Bruce, "The Synoptic Gospels," THE EXPOSITOR'S GREEK TESTAMENT, ed. Robertson Nicoll (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1970), 1:287-288.
Note: Alexander B. Bruce was a respected nineteenth-century Scottish New Testament and apologetics scholar.
8) EARLY CHURCH FATHER IRENAEUS (120-202) ON "KNOWING THE MYSTERIES OF GOD"
But beyond reason inflated with your own wisdom, you presumptuously maintain that you are acquainted with the unspeakable mysteries of God; while even the Lord, the very Son of God, allowed that the Father alone knows the very day and hour of judgment, when He plainly declares, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, . . . neither the Son, but the Father only" (Mark 13:32, KJV). If, then, the Son was not ashamed to ascribe the knowledge of that day to the Father only, but declared what was true regarding the matter, neither let us be ashamed to reserve for God those greater questions which may occur to us. For no man is superior to his master.
Irenaeus, "Against Heresies," 2:28:6, ANTE-NICENE FATHERS, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans,1979), 1:401
9) JOHN A. MACMILLAN (1873-1956) ON "END TIME SPECULATION"
It is natural, therefore, that much should be said and written regarding these ominous and disturbing days. But it is incumbent on the child of God to take careful heed as to what he hears and reads. Much that is absolutely valueless from a prophetic standpoint is being poured out without measure from pulpit and religious magazine. Would be interpreters are seizing on interesting happenings and incidents and fearlessly setting them forth as the fulfillment of some scriptural prediction, or indicating some recently risen meteoric figure as being one of the dread personalities who is to appear at the end time. The minds of the saints are thereby confused by false hopes, and later depressed with disappointment.
It may be stated as certain that no prophetic teacher is able to clearly identify events of our day with those that have been foretold in the Word, or to recognize the sinister characters of earth's coming history when they first appear. (1)
Speculation is vain. Especially to be deprecated is the attitude of many professed teachers of prophecy, who fix upon each new happening as some definitely foretold sign, or each new Mussolini or Hitler or Stalin, as a possible Antichrist. (2)
Regardless of the various interpretations relating to the Rapture, there should be no doubt in the mind of anyone that the attitude of heart here indicated is essential to the high glories which the Lord has prepared for those who choose His best. (3)
(1) John A. MacMillan, "Interpretative Extravagance," THE ALLIANCE WEEKLY, December 2, 1939, 755.
(2) John A. MacMillan, "Watching for Christ," THE ALLIANCE WEEKLY, January 1, 1938, 3.
(3) John A. MacMillan, "Preparedness," THE ALLIANCE WEEKLY, February 27, 1937, 130.
10) OSWALD CHAMBERS (1874-1917) ON "SPURIOUS SPECULATION"
The student cannot be too careful about . . . speculations. There is no book which lends itself more readily to speculation than the Bible, and yet, all through, the Bible warns against it. By speculation we mean taking a series of facts and weaving all kinds of fancies around them. "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever" (Deuteronomy 29:29, KJV). "And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or look at it" (Revelation 5:3, KJV). The bounds of human knowledge with regard to biblical revelation are fairly well marked. What is revealed in God's book is for us; what is not revealed is not for us. Speculation is searching into what is not revealed. . . .
Speculate if you care to, but never teach any speculation as a revelation from the Bible.
Oswald Chambers, BIBLICAL PSYCHOLOGY (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1995), 80.
11) CHARLES SPURGEON (1834-1892) ON "KNOWING NOT THE YEAR, MONTH OR WEEK"
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man" (Matthew 24:36, KJV). Some would be prophets have wrested this verse from its evident meaning by saying, "Though we do not know the day and the hour of Christ's coming, we may know the year, the month, and even the week." If this method of "renting" the words of Jesus is not blasphemous, it is certainly foolish, and betrays disloyalty to the King. He added that, not only does no man know of that day and hour, but it is hidden from angelic beings also: "No, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." We need not therefore be troubled by idle prophecies of hair-brained fanatics, even if they claim to interpret the Scriptures; for what the angels do not know has not been revealed to them. Even Christ, in his human nature, so voluntarily limited his own capacities that he knew not the time of his Second Advent (Mark 13:32). It is enough for us to know that He will surely come; our great concern should be to be ready for His appearing whenever He shall return.
Charles Spurgeon, THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM: A POPULAR EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW (Albany, OR: AGES Software, 1997), 358.
12) A.B. SIMPSON (1843-1919) ON "PRACTICAL PREPARATION FOR CHRIST'S COMING"
The practical preparation for the Lord's coming is not a fanatical excitement. This preparation does not lead us to neglect any of life's duties, but rather leads to a simple, faithful righteousness and fidelity to every trust. . . . The best preparation for Christ's coming is to be faithful in your calling, whatever it may be, and to be found at your post.
The three classes of people whom the Lord singles out for translation (Matthew 24:36-51; Luke 17:30-35) are all engaged in ordinary things. One woman is grinding grain; one man is plowing or harvesting in the field, and both go up instantly at the signal without needing to go home to change their clothes. The third is in bed, where most people ought to be at that hour, and is translated just as readily as if he had been at an all-night prayer meeting. The idea seems to be that Christ expects us to be always ready, and then everything that comes in the way of life's duties is equally sacred and heavenly.
The old Massachusetts senator was right when he refused to vote to adjourn the legislature, because the awful darkness that had come on seemed to portend the day of judgment. Said he, "If this is not the day of judgment there's no need for all this fuss; and if it is, I for one, prefer to have the Judge find me at my post."
A.B. Simpson, CHRIST IN THE BIBLE (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1994), 6:8.
13) READER'S CHOICE
Send in your favorite quotes from classic Christian leaders to the email address at the bottom of this page. Please include bibliographic information.
VOL. II, ISSUE 1, February 1, 2000. Published every other month 2/1; 4/1; 6/1; 8/1; 10/1; 12/1. Archives on www.kneillfoster.com.
Copyright 2000, Christian Publications, Inc.
Republished by www.kneillfoster.com 2005.