The Hidden Dangers of the Unwritten Creed

The Dangers of the Unwitten Creed rszd

Why Clandestine and Inchoate Beliefs Pose

Serious Spiritual Dangers and Potential Traps to

Christians & Truth Seekers

Introductory Remarks

The two extremes responsible for the forces that affect nations, groups, and individuals within and outside of the Christian world are what members initially withhold and what you may discover later. These extremes can pull, push, and disrupt societies. The most revealing information about a group's beliefs can be found in the secret knowledge that is written down as well as the underlying ideas that aren't expressed in writing, known as the unwritten creed. It is more perilous to rely on an unwritten creed than to have one that can be consulted, referred to, or studied.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know!

Every person who seeks truth should genuinely desire to understand the "unknown factors" which are the ideas that, if found and evaluated in accordance with God's Word, would determine whether someone joins a specific group or keeps searching for more welcoming and viable beliefs, expectations, benevolent fellowship arrangements, and ideological circumstances.

The clandestine belief, to be clear, is the ideology of the group that the members are chary to share, in all honesty, with the public. Indeed, cults and high-control sects exhibit this particular trait more often than normal Christian churches and denominations.  The hidden belief, to clarify, is the ideology of the group that the members are hesitant to share openly with the public. It is worth noting that cults and highly controlling sects display this characteristic more frequently than regular Christian churches and denominations.

For instance, cult recruiters may claim to believe in only one God at first, but as time goes by and someone becomes more committed as a member, and when there are significantLDS Missionaries consequences involved if they were to leave, the true beliefs will be revealed. That is when they will be told about the concept of Eternal Progression.

That is the time when the savant will be told that the men of this particular group will, someday, attain deity and become gods and will be given their own planets to populate with trillions of untold trillions of people.  If the truth seeker had known about these peculiar and offensive notions in the first place, they would probably have run away without so much as looking back!

The reason certain churches believe things like this but will not willingly share it upfront is precisely this: They do not want to alarm, frighten, or spook a potential convert, nor do they want a prospect to plainly understand that they are being confronted with something that is distinctly opposed to the beliefs of a normative Bible-based Christianity.

The Deadly Bait of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society

One of the most serious mistakes that has emerged under the guise of "the Truth" is Pastor Charles Taze Russell's Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. This organization is involved in publishing and real estate and is registered in New York and Pennsylvania. They have deceived and manipulated millions of people, separating them from their families, friends, and the global community of Christians. They achieve this by using a false name for the God of Israel, claiming it to be "Jehovah," and indoctrinating individuals with their teachings. They falsely assert that God's real name is "Jehovah" but Jesus addressed God only as 'Father' and never any other name except Abba which means "Dad."

The sect also promotes a misguided, exaggerated belief that Armageddon is imminent and they strongly emphasize that the end of the world is near (which is false). Once individuals accept these assumptions about the end times, they further poison their minds by questioning the inclusion of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the concept of God, as well as discouraging the celebration of birthdays, Christmas, and Easter.

Interestingly, the name "Jehovah" was actually created by a Spanish Roman Catholic monk named Raymundus Martini. Watchtower officials are fully aware of this fact, yet they continue to use this incorrect name regardless! However, as part of their manipulative tactics, the sect aims to distort the understanding of victims regarding the complex nature of God, the Deity of our Lord, and the personhood of the Holy Spirit. They will go on to manipulate ideas about the enduring essence of the human spirit and soul, and will implant in new converts a highly malleable and erroneous version of Bible prophecy, based on fictional events in 1914.

Indeed, when a Jehovah's Witness reaches full maturity according to the Watchtower's perspective, they become immune to the teachings that the Bible consistently conveys from Genesis to the Book of Revelation. If at any point a Jehovah's Witness were to independently and comprehensively read the Bible, they may have their blinders removed. However, typically, by that time, the only people in their life are fellow Jehovah's Witnesses. The fear of being completely cut off from everyone - spouse, children, grandchildren, Jehovah's Witness leaders, and friends - through emotional manipulation, might coerce the "awakened" Jehovah's Witness to return to the "loving embrace" of 'Jehovah'.

Therefore, by having knowledge of the hidden beliefs held by certain organizations and churches, one can start to identify and critically examine any concealed dangers, and accurately evaluate what, if anything, is at risk. Without conducting thorough research and being adequately prepared, one can easily fall into the trap of unforeseen challenges along a convoluted path while searching for the truth.1

Ordinary Christian Churches Can Conceal Problems, Too!

Even ordinary Christian churches have their own problems to contend with. These problems typically do not stem from active or deliberate dishonesty, but rather from blind spots that arise due to limited knowledge of the Bible or a stagnant mindset that clings to flawed or questionable ideas. These ideas may have originated from historical circumstances or the preconceived notions of the church's founder. For instance, most Christian churches adhere to one of four commonly taught interpretations of eschatology, known as the "Four Views." These include Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, Historicism, and Premillennialism. Christians tend to believe that one of these views aligns most closely with the teachings of the Bible, while considering the others to be less accurate.

Although it is not uncommon for individuals within the church to switch between these four views, it is rare for someone to conclude that all four have enough Biblical evidence to be valid. It is even rarer for a Christian to believe that none of these views are sufficiently supported, whether through Scripture, archaeology, or historical evidence. However, those who are willing to challenge the key assumptions of the Four Views may uncover valuable insights but also face significant challenges, opposition, and resistance to their pursuit of truth and their freedom to make informed decisions about their beliefs regarding Christianity's eschatological claims in the New Testament.

The reality is that all Christians in the various branches of Christianity (including ourselves!!) possess ideological weaknesses alongside genuine strengths, which can ultimately lead to their conflicts if not handled with love and patience, wisdom and care. These weaknesses, referred to as an Achilles' Heel, are not hidden or motivated by secretive agendas!

It is not unheard of for an official or a layman to change to one or the other of these four.  However, the reality of four views of eschatology is mainly where one will discover the unspoken belief and where, as a result, one may encounter potential danger. It is unspoken because the Four Views are doctrines that have been widely accepted and have a substantial amount of material, but this material may be distorted and contain inaccurate information. Some parts of the New Testament that create controversy among Christians include Matthew 10:23, Matthew 16:27-28, Matthew 24:34, and John 21:20-24.

Inchoate beliefs may exist because of something that happened a long time ago, which disappointed the aspirations and expectations of a particular church group during a difficult time in its history. These instances are usually not personal, but rather national and societal. However, the consequences of these disappointments can have a profound impact on a community's overall psyche. This was the case when, in the past, Christians of the Roman Empire endured persecution from deceitful Roman soldiers and malicious rulers. They willingly tolerated persecution and suppression because they believed that Jesus would eventually destroy Rome and grant Christians control over the empire. Years, decades, centuries, and even a millennium passed by, and various crises emerged—some of them horrific—such as earthquakes, plagues, tsunamis, civil wars, and invasions. However, no apocalyptic relief ever arrived to save the day.!

Over time, Christians profoundly influenced and transformed the Roman Empire, eventually making it their own. However, in 1453, when the people who believed in God were on the verge of being forgotten or destroyed, there was no triumphant Savior descending from the heavens to save those who had remained faithful and persevered. Instead, what followed was an even greater challenge: Christians found themselves enslaved under the rule of an Islamic empire for a period of four centuries.

The monasteries, where isolated monks could contemplate and reflect for hours, undoubtedly noticed that the Book of Revelation contradicted the true Christian experience during the Roman Imperial period. However, what was even more significant to them was the realization that even the Christian Roman Empire fared no better, and in fact worsened, by anticipating Christ's return in the clouds, especially when they needed him the most!  It appeared that Heaven did not care about the challenges, conflicts, and sadness faced by the churches, to the extent that they lost millions of square kilometers of land despite the courageous efforts of the Crusaders. Therefore, if there was any portion of the New Testament that caused frustration and anger among Christians, without a doubt, it was the Book of Revelation. The inclusion of this book in the Divine Liturgy was prohibited, and it was generally considered as fake or illegitimate for "all practical intents and purposes."2

Therefore, in these churches (typically Orthodox, but Catholic churches also have similar attitudes), individuals will experience resistance and discouragement when attempting to understand the validity of apocalyptic material and how it relates to the overall teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Someone may be boldly and persistently told that the Book of Revelation does not support the teachings of Jesus. They may also be informed, in essence, that the Book of Revelation should be considered differently than the other books of the New Testament. Consequently, it may come as a surprise that, contrary to initial assumptions, the majority of Christian churches actually view the Book of Revelation and apocalyptic material in books such as Daniel, Ezekiel, and the Gospels as outdated, if not completely incomprehensible.

The belief is that these topics should not be discussed in polite company. Therefore, regular Christian churches have abandoned the study of eschatology, leaving it to the cults, who eagerly manipulate and exploit it to instill in their members a sense of urgency to "hurry up and save the world before it ends." This presents a dilemma for the Church, whereby they saw two false options: either the Book of Revelation refers to the triumph of Christians over the Roman Empire or the Book of Revelation is fake – end of discussion! In reality, the Book of Revelation adheres to the fundamental rule of basic hermeneutics: context.

If Christians give God and the inspiration claimed by Apostle John the benefit of the doubt and think critically, they will discover that there is another alternative. It goes as follows: either the Book of Revelation discusses the victory of Christians over the Roman Empire, or it addresses the victory of Christians over the Second Jewish Commonwealth.

Now, simply considering these two logical options presents a real opportunity for a breakthrough. By carefully eliminating the possibility of the Roman Empire, we will move in a positive direction that is sure to surprise and please Christians almost immediately. The solution to this dilemma is incredibly obvious and can be described as an Open Secret, as they say. From Revelation chapter 1 to chapter 20, one can find parallels to the earliest Christian experience within the remaining seventy years of the last days of the Second Commonwealth. These parallels, found in both Scripture and history, are remarkably similar to specific prophecies in the Book of Revelation. The impact of this discovery will inspire awe and reverence in each and every person, as it validates and strengthens the cohesive power of the entire New Testament, like glue. This reinforces the impending apocalyptic message echoed by notable figures such as John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary, Jesus, Peter and the Apostle Paul, the Hebrew writer, James, Jude, and the Apostle John.

Disciplinary Texts Used to Surpress Bible Truths

Delving into matters associated with the Book of Revelation can be the cause of trouble in any Church paradise there is a strong unspoken belief that the Book of Revelation does not mean what it says or The Book of Revelation likely refers to the challenges early Christians faced from the authorities and military of the Roman Empire.  It "appears" to depict the downfall of a Semitic civilization, but bias of the Church is against the idea that the last book of the Bible is about the downfall of any Hebrew civilization and even it seems to suggest that Jesus would return soon "it probably does not mean that."

Once Christians come to understand that Jesus truly meant that he would come soon, they may inevitably encounter the unspoken creed that insists otherwise.  The efforts to control the narrative and silence talk about the fulfillment of Bible prophecy will inevitably center on texts found in such passages as Matthew 18:15-17, Romans 16:17-18, Titus 3:10-11, James 5:19-20, 2 Peter 3:16-17, and 2 John 9-11.  These warnings will used to address and remove any individuals within congregations who openly defy the unspoken creed of the Christian church that the New Testament portrays the Second Coming of the Lord at the end of time itself.

This unspoken creed essentially supports the idea that the New Testament can accommodate four vastly different interpretations of the end and even be directly against its own claims and still be "orthodox"  The tension in this situation is bound to increase when people begin to question not what the unspoken creed acknowledges, but rather what information are leaders aware of and when did they become aware of it?

As free individuals, redeemed by the sacrifice of the Son of God, we must allow ourselves the freedom to reevaluate our previous beliefs and certainties. We should ask ourselves how long we will keep our genuine beliefs about Christ and his Second Coming hidden, while leaders inadvertently deceive congregations with renewed assurances that "Jesus will definitely come soon," while privately fretting that it does seem as though he should have already done so.

In the ultimate analysis, my Christian friends, let us acknowledge that it is possible to violate the unwritten creeds but still be blameless in the eyes of God, or uphold the unwritten creed and be culpable for disbelieving what matters most to God: The New Testament.

Endnotes

1 To find out more about Eternal Progression, click this link. On this Eternal Progression idea, a truth seeker would need to consider the word of Christ about marriage in heaven (Matthew 22:30) and determine if the weight of evidence shows that LDS's [secret] claims are true or made up.
2 The Book of Revelation is not considered to be a canonical book in the Orthodox Church. We read,
“The strongest evidence that the book of Revelation is not canonical in the Orthodox Church is that it is not publicly read in the Orthodox Church. The only exceptions to this are some Alexandrian churches and the monastery on the Isle of Patmos itself. Following the lectionary of the Orthodox Church, one reads through the entirety of the New Testament each year, except for the book of Revelation."
See more here. And note Martin Luther's denunciation of the Book of Revelation! What he said should make any child of God bristle. . .
"About this book of the Revelation of John…I miss more than one thing in this book, and it makes me consider it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic…I can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it. Moreover, he seems to me to be going much too far when he commends his own book so highly-indeed, more than any of the other sacred books do, though they are much more important-and threatens that if anyone takes away anything from it, God will take away from him, etc.
Again, they are supposed to be blessed who keep what is written in this book; and yet no one knows what that is, to say nothing of keeping it. This is just the same as if we did not have the book at all. And there are many far better books available for us to keep…My spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book. For me this is reason enough not to think highly of it: Christ is neither taught nor known in it” (Luther, M. Preface to the Revelation of St. John, 1522).
3 In an ironic twist, Acts 20:29-31 can and has been utilized to describe anyone who strays from the faulty and questionable foundation of the Four Views or of unwritten assumptions. Such dissenting individuals can be described in the worst possible terms as if in Acts 20 Paul is describing Christians who believe the Second Coming would be fulfilled in light of the social world of Apostles, which obviously is not the case at all!
4 Limited attempts to get a Christian to renounce the claims of Jesus and the Apostles can easily lead to ouster and disgrace based on this verse. This can happen if the interrogater[s] really believe the unwritten creed to such a degree that they actually have no first-hand idea of what the New Testament claims for itself.
Admittedly, this is not always the case!
But the purpose of this essay is to encourage Christians or truth seekers to count the cost and think about the implications and problems anyone could face trying to blend into or be accepted by a traditional Christian church.
5 By departing from the normal assumptions that underlie the Four Views, a person can be accused of falling into a "damnable heresy." After all, Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Timothy 2:16-18) also said the resurrection had passed already, and the Apostle Paul labeled their claims errors from the truth.
However, it must be understood what the error of Hymenaeus and Philetus was: They believed the resurrection was a past event BEFORE Jerusalem fell. They believed such an event had nothing to do with the destruction of Jerusalem or the cataclysmic disappearance of the civilization of the Second Jewish Commonwealth.
Their idea of the resurrection, in short, said something like the resurrection happened without a single change of anything that constituted the era that came from Mount Sinai. So what this basically means is that the claims of Hymenaeus and Philetus contradicted the apocalyptic claims of Jesus and the Apostles, which said that the institutions and forms and the era of the Old Covenant would pass away at the time of the resurrection of the dead (Daniel 12:1-4 cf. Revelation 11:1-18; 22:10). ALL the Scriptures in the Tanakh and the New Testament attest to this and, therefore, tarring and feathering Christians with this offense is pure and transparent scape-goating.
6 A person does not have to twist the Scriptures to let them say the end of the world was coming soon in the first century. But a person has to cherry-pick, twist and neutralize verses to counteract what Jesus and the Apostles plainly advocated and warned people about long ago. And it is because these same threats keep failing to materialize in contemporary situations that many Christian academics and skeptics have grown suspicious of the validity of it at all.
7 Christians should be careful about telling one another who has God and who doesn't. God is God, and no one is able to have a monopoly on him. No group or individual has a lock on the truth. To question the claims of dogmatic religion in no way means someone has been forsaken by God, the very opposite is true! The hunger, desire, and appetite for truth are signs of God working in our lives. It is those who are spiritually dead who have no regard for what is right or wrong; so people should not be overly troubled or concerned about the misuse of disciplinary texts to throw cold water on your interest, enthusiasm, and justified zeal.
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Part Two

Was the New Testament Church of the Late

Second Jewish Commonwealth Really Restored

in the Nineteenth Century?

American Restoration Movement Officials RSZD

Introductory Remarks

Alexander Campbell (12 September 1788 – 4 March 1866) was a Scots-Irish immigrant who became an ordained minister in the United States and joined his father Thomas Campbell as a leader of a reform effort that is historically known as the Restoration Movement, and by some as the “Stone-Campbell Movement.”1  This movement, in the early 20th century split between the conservative and liberal branches--the churches of Christ (the former) and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the latter.  Other restoration spin-offs continued to form and grow, but the churches of Christ, the most hardline of them all, continue to consider themselves the most accurate and “totally correct” modern examples of New Testament Christians. Are they?  In this short essay, we want to look and see because among these churches comes the harshest and most strident criticism of the efforts of others to understand the New Testament within a reasonable framework that is historically accurate and far more reliable than anything Christians would have known in the 1700s or 1800s.

The feedback from this particular Christian church is generally hostile and discouraging, and extremely judgmental so we want to examine three areas, for the sake of scrutiny, just to see if we can bring some gravity and sobriety in any discussion we may happen to have with them.


 Do These Christians Hear Christ?

Churches of Christ are notorious for vaunting themselves as “the Lord’s Church” and have no doubt that they and they alone are the church that was founded by Christ and the Apostles on the day of Pentecost in A.D.33.  Let’s agree with them and assume that they are, but do they hear Christ after all these years?  In fact, how can they lay claim to be the original Christians if it can be demonstrated that they, in fact, do not hear Christ?  How do they turn a deaf ear to Christ?  Do they not know that sanctification comes through the truth and that his words are truth (John 17:17)?  They know this—surely—but that does not change the fact that, on a number of specific points of doctrine they very much disagree with what Jesus said—and more: Where he speaks, they are silent, and where he is silent, they freely speak.2  We will give seven examples to make our case against their illusion of correctness.

Because of Jule Miller These Christians

Ignore the Words of Jesus

Churches of Christ try to pay attention to the words of Jesus and insist and warn other churches to follow the example of the teachings and practices of the Apostles.  But do they keep their own advice?  There is blatant evidence that they don’t!  We have four books—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—which give varied accounts of Jesus’ miracles, works, and teachings; these anyone can consult to see what Jesus believed and taught.  Among the many things Jesus had to say, the churches of Christ feel it is inconsequential to gainsay what he said about:

  1. This generation
  2. The bloodguilt of Jerusalem
  3. The timing of his marriage to the church
  4. Timing of the resurrection of the dead
  5. The persons who would be destroyed by the Stone
  6. The time of the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven
  7. The timing of the coming of the kingdom of God with power.

In addition to rejecting what Jesus had to say about these seven subjects, churches of Christ also insist on a view of Bible prophecy fulfillment that they, in reality, inherited from the religious world of Alexander Campbell and his father.  Coming from a Presbyterian background that held the belief that the Roman Catholic Church and the Papacy itself is a central theme in both Old and New Testament prophecy, they did not question or forsake these superstitions.  Therefore, texts such as 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8 and Revelation 17:1-6ff are categorized in their thinking as predictions of the rise of Catholicism and are taught to prospective converts in their Jule Miller Film Series as such.  But the deleterious impact of these Protestant Christian teachings causes ontological blindness in Christian people to the point that they cannot appreciate even a mildly inaccurate description of Realized Eschatology (such as taught by Full Preterists).  After we look at the ignored words of Jesus, we will clearly see that, although Full Preterism is not completely accurate, it is certainly not far off the mark, either.3

‘This Generation’—According to Jesus

A lot of time could be wasted by not going directly to the heart of the matter in talks with Christians from the churches of Christ.  In our discussions, we must be bold and have confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit and trust in the efficacy of the written Word of God.   It is up to us to directly warn and reprove and correct the teachings of this aggressive church.  Now, as they do not now emphasize anything about “this generation” this aspect of Gospel teaching is all but invisible to them.4  It is critical to make a list of references to “this generation” without any comments to present to them for their examination.  A Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is all you need to find these references.   Study, in the spirit of brotherliness, and request their observations, interpretation, and conclusions about how this body of Scriptural evidence could moderate the teachings they currently hold.

They Completely Overlook the Bloodguilt

of Jerusalem—According to Jesus

A typical church of Christ member has no idea what the teachings of Jesus are regarding the bloodguilt of Jerusalem or Jesus’ claim that the price for those transgressions would be exacted within the generation of those who lived contemporaneously with the Apostles and the first Christians (Matthew 23:29-36).  Thus, what Jesus said in Matthew 23 and in Luke 11:45-51 has no obvious connection (in their minds) to anything happening in Revelation 17:1-6 or 18:20-24 or 19:1-4.  This is exactly why the Atavist (or any preterist teaching) finds absolutely no resonance and, can even be resented as a bête noir to these people.  They simply do not see what the connection is and, so far as they are concerned, teaching that Revelation was fulfilled in the strict framework of antiquity feels like a robbery of everyone's greatest hopes.

Our essay, Babylon the Great City—According to the Bible, is a treatise we recommend to drive what the Bible says home and to disabuse sincere Restorationists from any inkling that the Roman Catholic Church is in the sights of God anywhere in the Book of Revelation.  Make no mistake about it: These people are not stupid and so there is no reason to be rude or pushy with them.  Unlike Jehovah’s Witnesses who always have to be right and who also have to do all the teaching, these Christians are more than likely to be perfectly willing to take any materials you have to cover so they can sink their teeth into it to judge the quality of its claims against what they already think. 

So Babylon the Great CityAccording to the Bible and the charts below are entirely in the spirit of anything a Bible teacher in any of their many congregations could have easily written and gladly endorsed.  Feel free to copy and print this study and request comments on its accuracy and implications in light of the Scriptures.  Ask how this body of evidence could Babylon Clock Chartchange or modify views they currently hold about who Babylon could be (1 Corinthians 14:20).

Revelation 11 and 12, 13 and 14 situate events in Jerusalem, Revelation 13, and 16 highlights the rise of the Sea Beast and chapter 17-19 depicts the Jerusalem Aristocracy as trapped and destroyed by ferocious revolutionary forces that (somehow) hoped to cause the kingdom of God to materialize in the midst of the chaos (Revelation 17:16-17).  First-century Christians would have had no idea and little concern for hierarchal or organizational developments in Christianity as far away as A.D.606 when, it is evident, that the Destruction of Jerusalem paved the way for the annulment of the Second Jewish Commonwealth and the promised Marriage of Christ to his Church (Revelation 19:1-8).

________________________________________________

These Churches are Oblivious to the Timing of

the Marriage of the Son to the Church

The Parable of the King’s Son’s Wedding (Matthew 22:1-13), the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), and the 19th Chapter of the Book of Revelation (verses 1-9) join together the setting of the marriage of Jesus to his bride, the Church with the aftermath of the destruction of Babylon the Great city.  But it is not a church of Christ that teaches that Jesus WILL marry the Church when the Roman Catholic Church is destroyed, nor is it their teaching that he MARRIED the Church when Jerusalem was destroyed (or when fell in the fifth century A.D.)  To highlight these two parables and their connection to the situation in Revelation 19. 

Be sure to remind them that the Church was, during the time of the Apostles, espoused to the Church (2 Corinthians 11:1-2 cf. Ephesians 5:27) and show that the marriage was consummated after the destruction of Babylon the Great (again, Revelation 19:1-9).  Request comments from them about when, in history, they believe Revelation 19 could have been fulfilled.

These Churches Hold to the Nicene Timing

of the Resurrection of the Dead—

But Not According to Jesus or the Apostles

Daniel 7:7-10 is crystal clear that there would be a great accounting at the end of the world (in the days of the fourth beast), thus, while it is widely believed that the Roman Empire was the fourth beast/ kingdom (and it was not) still, Rome, as an imperial reality, is long gone.  But, it is unnecessary to pass the buck on the timing of the resurrection of the dead, if we turn to the words of Jesus.  Matthew 13:36-43, Matthew 24:29-34 and Revelation 11:14-18 tells us, in no uncertain terms, that the resurrection of the dead was on the point of happening while the city of Jerusalem was waiting in the wings for universal destruction (Revelation 18:5-8).

Now, since first century Jerusalem and her unhappy Temple would clearly be in existence (as evinced by what John describes in Revelation chapter 11:1-2), it is not difficult to see that the resurrection was not conceived to transpire at the very end of time itself.

See Comments on Revelation Chapter 11 here.

Make notes, present diagrams and ask sincere questions on this specific aspect of our talks, and request feedback on what this means in light of the Bible.

Persons to Be Destroyed by

the Stone—According to Jesus

King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream image (Daniel 2:31-45) was interpreted by the Prophet Daniel as foreseeing four kingdoms.  The fourth kingdom, of course, was to be followed by a fifth—the kingdom of God, however, in Daniel’s explanation, the foot, and toes of the fourth sovereignty were to be smitten on its feet (Daniel 2:34) Where, Parable of the Vineyard 303 5 6 7678 8 899 2 3 1in the teachings of Jesus, do we find allusions to this?  We find them in the Parable of the Vineyard!  Found in Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-12, and in Luke 20:9–19, these passages spell out for us who would be ground to powder by the stone.

Bring this topic up and study them with your Christian friend.  Ask questions and find out how they feel this new material might change their perceptions about what Jesus emphasized.  If the spirit of this study is maintained in an attitude of genuine concern and goodwill, there is no reason why the time would not come when Christians could begin to understand controversial issues in a different light and, as a result, begin to see eye to eye based on the transmitted teachings of Jesus our Lord.

The Books of the Maccabees, which were in the New Testament Church’s Bible all the way up to the time of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation Movement, contained the accounts of the Jewish people’s valiant struggle for religious freedom and victory over apostasy and Seleucid dominion.  The earliest Christians used the Septuagint Old Testament and no Septuagint was without the so-called Apocrypha, of which 1 and 2 Maccabees was certainly a part. 

Unfortunately, Alexander Campbell and his colleagues did not restore the Bible to its pre-Protestant, early Christian state and, consequently, this big piece of the puzzle is conspicuously missing.  A study of the one hundred and twenty-six-year history of Hasmonean (Maccabean) Judæa is vital and necessary to fill in this blank.  Essays here, here and here can help bring churches of Christ up to date on these aspects of this discussion.

Timing of the Son of Man Defaulted to

the End of Time—But Not According to Jesus

Nothing is more contentious in the eyes of churches of Christ than the notion that their cherished Second Coming is being assigned to distant antiquity.  Called by them an “A.D.70 Theory,” it is entirely possible that what they hear, while not 100% accurate, comes closer than any claim that yet looks to the future.  Now, since the return of Christ is Jesus' own teaching, he can help us here! 

Now, to begin with, Daniel 7:13ff gives us the context for the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven.  But churches of Christ will want to find in the prophecy an allusion to the day of Pentecost in A.D.33.  Is this correct?  Is it correct that on the Mount of Olives, Jesus alludes that his coming in the clouds will be so soon as Pentecost—less than seventy days after his crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and Ascension?  Ask how reasonable that is.  Ask if that makes sense in light of even the circumstances described in the Danielic text (e.g., Daniel 7:7-27). 

The fact is this: Nothing that happened between Christ’s Ascension or the day of Pentecost corresponds to the civil violence, blasphemy, and unrest outlined in Daniel’s night vision prophecy!  Ask your Christian friend if it might not be a mistake to have Daniel 7:7-27 fulfilled on the day of Pentecost rather than in the events described in Revelation 13:5ff?

A willingness to study and rethink assumptions will, by the will of God (and patience on our part) see changes in their perception of the issues from one of outright danger, to one of mutual concern and interest.

The Coming of the Kingdom of God

With Power—They Make it Too Soon!

Matthew 16:27-28; Mark 8:38 and 9:1 and Luke 9:26-27 put in Jesus’ mouth that the kingdom of God would “come with power” in the lifetime of some of those who stood before the Lord at Caesarea Philippi.  The churches of Christ traditionally understand this promise as being fulfilled on the day of Pentecost in A.D.33.  But what is their justification for this?  Well, Jesus, in another place, promised the Apostles that the Holy Spirit would come “with power” (Acts 1:7-8) therefore these two expectations are joined together as one early fulfillment.  Consequently, these Christians see no necessity in any coming of the kingdom of God with power in the context of the destruction of Jerusalem.  Are they right about this? 

Revisit Daniel 7:7-27 again.  And go over Luke 21:31 and revisit Matthew 10:7; 16:27-28; Mark 8:38-9:1 and Luke 9:27.  Focus attention on what the coming of the kingdom of God means in the setting of the Destruction of the Second Temple and the Coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven (Luke 21:22-32).  The traditional cognitive dissonance is going to want to resist thinking about these issues as overlapping concerns—but they are—see Revelation 11:8-15:

“And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. 11And after three days and a half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon them which saw them. 12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies beheld them. 13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. 14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. 15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

The following chapter of Revelation, depicting a different scene, affirms that the kingdom of God arrived on earth at the very time Michael cast Satan down to the earth—see Revelation 12:7-10:

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found anymore in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”

Now, these Christians are going to want to put in eternity past what the Bible puts in first-century Jewish time.  The battle described in Revelation 12 can’t be just lifted out of the chapter and assigned to a prehistoric time before creation without doing serious damage to the flow, intent, and sense of the text.  Its fulfillment is historical and within the period where we would expect it to be—and we find this also was witnessed in the first century:

“Such prodigies had happened, as this nation, which is superstitious enough in its own way, would not agree to expiate by the ceremonies of the Roman religion, nor would they atone the gods by sacrifices and vows, as these used to do on the like occasions.  Armies were seen to fight in the sky, and their armor looked of a bright light color, and the temple shone with sudden flashes of fire out of the clouds.  THE DOORS OF THE TEMPLE WERE OPENED ON A SUDDEN, AND A VOICE GREATER THAN HUMAN WAS HEARD, THAT THE GODS WERE RETIRING, AND AT THE SAME TIME THERE WAS A GREAT MOTION PERCEIVED AS IF THEY WERE GOING OUT OF IT, WHICH SOME ESTEEMED TO BE CAUSES OF TERROR.  The greater part had a firm belief that it was contained in the old sacerdotal (priestly) books, THAT AT THIS VERY TIME THE EAST WOULD PREVAIL, AND THAT SOME THAT CAME OUT OF JUDEA SHOULD OBTAIN THE EMPIRE OF THE WORLD. . . ”5

What was expected for that generation is found to be in the very history of that generation, fulfilled 33 years later in November of A.D.66.  Pray for a spirit of openness and courage, discernment and willingness to shift away from the churches of Christ’s dogmatically hardline, unscriptural, and uncritical stance. 

The New Testament Falling Away—

Fulfilled in Catholicism or Pre-War Judaizing?

The churches of Christ set their congregations up and govern themselves the way they do in a large part on how they interpret, borrow and utilize Scriptures that discuss the falling away foretold by the Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Macedonians who lived in Thessalonika.  Now, this strategy of interpretation is borne of their belief that prophecies like that found in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8 have to do with the legalization of Christianity under Constantine and the ultimate rise of the Papacy [supposedly] in A.D.606.  But is it true that Paul has Catholicism and the Papacy in mind in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 anywhere?  In fact, the incorporation of supposed Catholic fulfillment of Pauline apostasy prophecies was inherited by churches of Christ, not from the Bible itself, but from the Protestant world and, like Daniel 7:7-27, their utilization of 2 Thessalonians effectively distracts their attention from what Jesus, Paul and the other Apostles were really saying.

We need to review this and ask, What concern for the Papacy and Roman Catholicism would Christians in first century Thessaloniki have?  What would they care about what would arise in Rome six centuries later?  How urgent does Paul seem to be when he writes of a mystery of iniquity already working and a man of sin already being restrained in the first-century milieu?  Was Papal leadership the question or the issue? and could such a thing be restrained in the first century?  Or, was Paul talking about anti-Christ Jewish pretenders guiding and instructing Judæans and Judaized dupes to be in Jerusalem and in the Second Temple to their ultimate detriment and doom?

What Christians are saying about these prophecies and how they are applying them to different objects (along an imaginary and fanciful historical continuum) is exactly why any A.D.66-A.D.136 eschaton falls on deaf (and sometimes hostile) ears.  It is also why, among Christian churches that have the most negative For Zealot Inscription for Jerusalem and the Zealotsthings to say, the war of words and strife and intolerance and confusion is the most intense in their congregations and in their fellowships. 

One of the dangers of elitist claims is the urge to shut out and close off any information not coming directly from one's group.  When this happens, critical thinking easily goes south and cultish, narrow-minded inclinations, borne of hubris and pride, take root.  It will be noted that many (certainly not all) churches of Christ are very eager to instill in their audience that they are the one and only Christians out of the nearly 3 billion Christians who walk on the face of this earthsome suffering torture and shaming and even deathin terrible conditions in Islamic penitentiaries for their faith and deep love for Jesus, the Savior of all of us.

But the churches of Christ, which are really an American ideal, was originally meant to be a noble construct to unite Christians, but it, among other things, did not examine and discard Medieval anti-Catholic fictions but continued (and continue) to use Protestant imperatives against and about the Roman Catholic Church as a potent ecclesial “weapon” to impose on a Christian’s conscience to go against the teachings of God’s Son.

They falsely imagine that eschatology is all about ending Roman Catholicism, not about the end of the Old Testament world, the Levitical Priesthood, and the ancient Jewish State.  This propensity, in fact, is actually and absolutely, (and unknowingly) in direct error against what the New Testament teaches and, by their words and actions against the holy apocalyptic truth of the Gospel, when they ridicule, when they rail, when they oppose, and when they disfellowship, they are gravely and unwittingly sinning.

With enough of the prophecies being ignored, spread out, re-routed, and allocated to things the prophets and Jesus and the Apostles never intended, and then being misconstrued to be special objects of other (ultimately) trivial concerns, it very well could be the case that novel Protestant notions about the Catholic church and unsupported early Jewish teachings about a so-called Roman fourth kingdom combine to suggest to people of Alexander Campbell’s American Restoration Movement something which seems perfectly true, but which, in reality, is merely an illusion and a facade of total correctness.

 

Notes

1 Wikipedia, see also http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/denominationalfounders/alexander-campbell.html

A case can be made that Campbell never rejected the Presbyterian eschatology of Amillennialism (which Scottish Christians inherited from their Roman Catholic predecessors); this is a weakness that besets his movement to this day.

2 Denying a definitive eschaton, the coming of the Son of man in clouds, judgment, and resurrection, and the kingdom of God at the time of the fourth kingdom of Bible prophecy is actually no small matter.  Too many prophecy texts are falsely passed off as “leadership abomination texts” and “Papal prophecies.” And so we need to be loving, but hard and strict with these people so they can begin to understand the seriousness and gravity of the error they are now in.

3 Full Preterist teachings attempt to subsume the end of the Second Jewish Commonwealth into an A.D.30-70 framework and that also does not correspond to the way things played out in any real Jewish history.

4 What Jesus said about his contemporary generation in Matthew 12 is definitive for this entire subject; it puts limits on prophecies which some have them be conclusive too soon (Full Preterism) and others, disregarding what Jesus said,  make them too late (Futurism).

5 Josephus’ Dissertation 3.5. Chapter 13.

Related

The Semitic Background of the Book of Revelation

Bible Highlights: Internal Evidence

in the Book of Revelation