BOOKS: BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)
AD70 Dispensationalism: According to
that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'.
Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking
the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only
Herod's Temple in Jerusalem
fell. Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old
Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of
Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
AD70 Dispensationalism: According to that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'. Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only when Herod's Temple in Jerusalem fell. Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
material is being archived for balanced representation of all Preterist views,
but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond
the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The
classification of all Full Preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built
upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and
the convictions of
the website curator (a
former full preterist pastor). The HyP
theology of resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70
(end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors
through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up
to 1845, when the earliest known Full Preterist book was written.
Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between
Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and fundamentally different.
THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"
"Full Preterist" material is being archived for balanced representation of all Preterist views, but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The classification of all Full Preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and the convictions of the website curator (a former full preterist pastor). The HyP theology of resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70 (end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up to 1845, when the earliest known Full Preterist book was written. Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and fundamentally different.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"
Oneida Hyper Preterist Heresy:
The members of the community, according to Noyes, were sinless after conversion, so no confession would be needed.
"Let us suppose that our mortal bodies are compounded of two substances, one of them visible, and the other invisible. The visible is but the shell or garment of the invisible.. We must not confound the inner substance with the soul, but consider it a real body corresponding in shape and function to the visible body, and in fact visible itself to spiritual"
The cover of "Puck" portrays its critics proclaiming the Oneida Community members to be living in peace and harmony, without clergy scandals, and that therefore "They must be stopped!"
The Utopia of Sharing in Oneida "THEY wanted to create a heaven on earth. For 33 years they believed they’d succeeded, at a utopian commune infamous for “free love..”Believing that the Kingdom of God on Earth had arrived with the second coming of Jesus during the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D., they embraced the communalism of the early Christian Church in their effort to create a more equal, just and rational society in their new Eden."
Religious Experience Of John Humphrey Noyes | Faust 1 | New York History: Oneida | The Putney Community | JHN and Millennialism | The Oneida Collection | Salvation from sin: The end of the Christian Faith | Life of JHN | Taught Garfield's Assassin | Mathison on Noyes
J.H. NOYES IS A HYPER PRETERIST ; HOWEVER, HE DOES NOT TEACH SYSTEMATIZED HYPER PRETERISM SUCH AS FULL PRETERISM
(Second Coming of Christ)
"We may sum up and concentrate the testimony we have examined in this section, thus: Christ designated the time of his second coming in six different ways. 1. He placed it immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem. 2. He instructed his disciples to expect it when they should see the fearful signs that should precede and accompany the destruction of Jerusalem, as they would look for summer after the budding of the fig-tree. 3. He most solemnly declared it would take place before the generation contemporary with himself would pass away. 4. He assured his disciples that it would happen before their ministry to the Jews would be finished. 5. He said there were some standing with him who should live till the event. 6. He plainly intimated that John should tarry till his coming." (Hand-Book of the Oneida Community, 37.)
"Such language as this is perfectly natural on the supposition that they understood Christ’s predictions as setting the period of the second coming nigh at hand; and perfectly unnatural on any other supposition, as is proved by the fact that such language at the present day, when the churches generally believe the second coming to be afar off, is altogether obsolete; except among those whose theory, like that of Miller, places the second advent very near the present time. Men do not wait and look for a far distant event. Such language implies that the event expected is supposed to be impending." (Ibid., 37–38. )
"We will not further multiply citations showing the expectations of primitive believers, but refer the reader, if he needs further evidence on the subject, to an examination of the whole New Testament. The position which we think the evidence already presented abundantly sustains, is, that as Christ predicted, so the primitive church expected, his second coming within the lifetime of their own generation." (Ibid., 39.)
"It is not generally supposed that those tokens-especially the appearance of antichrist, and the universal publication of the gospel-did actually come to pass in that age; so that it is the more necessary that we should present our proof in relation to them. We find proof in the New Testament, that antichrist was revealed, and that the gospel was published to all nations, before the destruction of Jerusalem." (Ibid., 41.)
"It would not therefore be a strange thing, if it should be found that the second coming was an event very different from the conceptions of it, whether popular or learned, which men have gained by private interpretations of prophecy. -- Christ may have come at the time appointed, though the scribes "knew him not." Taking the caution of past examples, we will not assume that he did not come, because popular anticipations were not fulfilled; but rather that those anticipations were false, and wholly unworthy to be placed in the balance against the credit of those plain predictions which, as we have seen, appointed the time. At the outset of our inquiry concerning the nature of the second coming, we are bound to take for granted that it was an event which, though it may not have been recognized by external historians, was not inconsistent with the true history of the external events which followed the destruction of Jerusalem. This assumption leads us at once to the general conclusion, that the second coming was an event in the spiritual, and not in the natural world." (Ibid., 44. )
(On John 21:22)
"I first advanced into actual heresy in the early part of the summer of 1833 while still a student at New Haven Seminary. In the course of my Bible studies my attention was arrested by Christ’s expression in John 21:22: "If I will that he [John] tarry till I come, what is that to thee." This seemed to imply that Jesus expected his disciple John to live until his second coming, and the disciples so construed it. The church on the contrary taught that Christ’s second coming was still far in the future. I had long been in the belief that the Bible was not a book of inexplicable riddles, and I determined to solve this mystery. Accordingly, I read the New Testament ten times with an eye on the question as to the time of Christ’s second coming, and my heart struggling in prayer for full access to the truth." (George Wallingford Noyes, ed. The Religious Experience of John Humphrey Noyes (New York, The Macmillan Company, 1923), 69. ) (On Rev. 1:7 | Acts 1:11)
"the meaning of the apostle must be, ‘every spiritual eye shall see him.’" (Hand-Book of the Oneida Community, 45)
(On Christ's Victory - Fulfilled Redemption)
"Paul’s gospel was that which Christ preached before him, and one main item of its tidings was, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand; this generation shall see the second coming of the Son of man, in the power and glory of eternal judgment." (33 Ibid.)
THE above is the title of a learned article in the third number of the Bibliotheca Sacra, (Dec. 1843,) by the editor, Edward Robinson, D. D. We will review it, for the sake of exhibiting to our readers the position of the learned world in relation to the predictions of the second coming. Dr. Robinson first gives his views of the meaning of the disciples' question in the 3d verse of Matthew 24, notices the predictions in the former part of the chapter, introduces the whole of the 29th, 30th and 31st verses, with the parallel passages in Mark and Luke, closing with a sketch of the parable of the fig-tree, and the emphatic designation of time in the 34th verse, and then says :
It is conceded by all, I believe, that the representation
as far as to the end of the 28th verse of Matthew, and in the parallel
verses of the other evangelists, applies solely to the overthrow of
Jerusalem. Or, if there be still those who would refer any portion of these
preceding verses to the judgment day, it seems to me that they must first
show that the 'abomination of desolation' spoken of by Matthew and Luke has
nothing to do with the ' compassing of Jerusalem with armies,' mentioned in
the same connexion by Luke : and then, further, that all these things could
have no connexion with the ' treading down' of Jerusalem by the Gentiles,
which Luke goes on to speak of as the result of all these antecedent
circumstances. This, however, cannot well be shown, without disregarding
every rule of interpretation, and without violating the very first
principles of language. "The subject is now before the reader ; and the
question to be considered is : Whether the language of Matthew in the
passage above quoted, is to be referred to the judgment of the last great
day ; or, rather to the then impending destruction of Jerusalem and the
Jewish nation? It is a question on which good men have ever differed ; and
on which, perhaps, entire unity of feeling is not lo be expected, until the
night of darkness and ignorance in which we are here enveloped, shall be
chased away by the morn of pure light and perfect knowledge.
But on the other hand, it is replied, that the phrase
'immediately after' indicates a very close connexion of this 'coming' of our
Lord with the preceding events ; and the Savior himself goes on to declare,
that ' this generation shall not pass away, till all these things be
fulfilled.' We must then assume, it is said, that the prediction had its
fulfilment within a period not long subsequent to our Lord's ministry ; or,
it it is to be referred to the day of judgment, then we must admit that our
Lord was in error, inasmuch as he here foretold that it would take place
immediately after the downfall of Jerusalem. For these reasons many
commentators have understood the language as applicable only to the
destruction of the Holy City : forgetting, apparently, that the very
expression which they urge against a remote future application, is equally
stringent against an exclusive reference to the latter catastrophe;" [i.e.,
the expression 'immediately after,' while it preeludes reference to events
far distant from the destruction of Jerusalem, at the same time necessarily
goes beyond that event.] p. 538. then to be subsequent to the downfall of
Jerusalem ; end can therefore only mean the coming of the Messiah in his
kingdom at the judgment day. This opinion is perhaps, at the present time,
the most prevalent one among commentators, and even with those whose views
in other respects have little in common ; as in the case of Olshausen and De
Wette, [eminent German commentators.]
Our Lord himself limits the interval within which
Jerusalem shall be destroyed and his ' coming' take place, to that same
generation : Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all
these things be fulfilled. The language is here plain, definite, and express
; it cannot be misunderstood, nor perverted. It follows, in all the
evangelists, the annunciation of our Lord's ' coming,' and applies to it in
them all, just as much as it applies to the antecedent declarations
respecting Jerusalem ; and more directly, indeed, inasmuch as it stands here
in a closer connexion." p. 540.
COMING was the previous theme. Now SITTING on the
throne—a continuous administration of government, is the subject of
discourse. ' And before him shall be gathered all nations.' It is not stated
how long a period this gathering will occupy. It may, for aught that appears
in the text, have been the work of the past eighteen hundred years. In order
that he may thus gather all nations, he must first ' put down all rule and
all authority and power ;' and this is represented by Paul as the business
of his whole mediatorial reign. (See 1 Cor. 15: 24.) The separation and the
award of destinies described in the remainder of the 25th chapter, is the
proper judgment ; and this, in our view, is yet future. We recognize in the
predictions of the 24th and 25th of Matthew, two judgments—one at the
beginning, and the other at the end of Christ's mediatorial reign. With this
theory, we find plain sailing through those chapters, as well as through
many other regions of scripture which have long been famous for perils and
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
Joey Faust (2003)
"JOHN HUMPHREY NOYES (1811-1886) was the leader of an abnormal religious sect called the PERFECTIONISTS OF ONEIDA. He was affluent and educated at the best schools. Noyes believed that he was a recipient of Divine inspiration. He and his followers believed that he had reached ABSOLUTE PERFECTION in 1834. He held other heretical views similar to Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), such as the dual sex of the Almighty. Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911) spent years investigating strange cults such as these Perfectionists of Oneida. From a book published by her grandson after her death, we have the following information concerning Noyes:
"During the course of his studies he [Noyes] made a discovery which ALTERED HIS WHOLE OUTLOOK ON LIFE....This discovery was that THE SECOND ADVENT HAD ALREADY TAKEN PLACE, AT THE TIME OF THE FALL OF JERUSALEM IN THE YEAR A.D. 70...." (1)
It was in 1833 that Noyes had this preterist "illumination," which altered his whole outlook on life:
"In the summer of 1833, while reading the last words of the Fourth Gospel, Noyes received a sudden illumination concerning Christ's words, 'If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?' 'I knew,' wrote Noyes, 'that the time appointed for the Second Advent was within one generation from the time of Christ's personal ministry' - in A.D. 70, to be precise....Noyes himself [then] had the courage to proclaim that he did not sin..."(2)
This new revelation of Noyes would bring forth even more rotten fruit. Since Noyes believed that Jesus had already returned, he believed he and his followers were already in the so-called "heavenly" state! Noyes therefore called attention to Matthew 22:30:
Matthew 22:30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
Our theological views have consequences. Indeed, they often alter our "whole outlook on life":
"The IMPLICATIONS of a Second Advent that has ALREADY taken place are bound to be far-reaching....Noyes, who did not want celibacy, used [Matthew 22:30]...to support a form of regulated promiscuity. In 1837 'The Battle Axe' published a letter from Noyes explaining his conception of the sexual relations that ought to exist between men and women. In his letter, he stated '...The marriage supper of the Lamb is a feast at which EVERY DISH IS FREE TO EVERY GUEST....In a holy community, there is no more reason why SEXUAL INTERCOURSE should be restrained by law, than why eating and drinking should be....[It] was at Putney... that Noyes first formulated his ideas of Male Continence and Complex Marriage, which were adopted by the community in 1846. 'These latter practices were more than the inquisitive neighbors were prepared to tolerate. In the following year the persecution of the community culminated in the indictment of Noyes on the grounds of adultery. Noyes... purchased... land in another state.... at Oneida.... In 1847... it was unanimously adopted by the forty or fifty members at Putney 'that THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAD COME'....'We are opposed', he [Noyes] wrote in 'Bible Communism,' 'to random procreation, which is unavoidable in the marriage system. But we are in favour of intelligent, well-ordered procreation...'...Complex marriage meant, in theory, that any man and woman might freely cohabit within the limits of the community....The exclusive attachment of two persons was regarded as selfish and 'idolatrous' and was strongly discouraged."(3)
Talk about rotten apples! In conclusion, I am more than willing to continue to compare the historicity of the dispensational hermeneutic I advocate with the historicity of Forgy's preterism. But I trust that Forgy will wish to move on to other things, and therefore so will I; that is, unless this rabbit raises its head again." (Faust 1 - Consistent Preterism vs. "Aggressive Futurist" Dispensationalism)
Robert S. Fogarty
Throughout the following pages the author is under the deepest obligations to Dr. Stuart Russell's "The Parousia." He also owes much, to the "The Berean" by John Humphrey Noyes, and to the works of Henry Dunn, the author of "The Destiny of the Human Race." February 1891. E. H.C. (Preface "The Christ Has Come")
THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
It is related that soon after his conversion, while discussing a question of theology with his father, Noyes advanced a view that was at variance with the accepted doctrine. "Take care," said his father. "That is heresy. If you get out of the traces, the ministers will whip you in." "Never!" said Noyes. "Never will I be compelled by ministers or any one else to accept any doctrine that does not commend itself to my mind and conscience."
It is indeed unthinkable, that Noyes with his fiery zeal and independence of mind should for long continue within the rock-bound limits of the traditional creeds. We saw in the last chapter how nearly he came to a serious collision with a "set of domineering ministers" at North Salem. We have now to trace the course by which, starting in full sympathy with the church, a Pharisee of the Pharisees, he gradually passed beyond the boundaries of orthodox belief, and finally found himself completely without the pale.
In his Confession of Religious Experience Noyes says:
"I first advanced into actual heresy in the early part of the summer of 1833, while still a student in the New Haven Seminary. In the course of my Bible studies my attention was arrested by Christ's expression in John 21 :22: 'If I will that he [John] tarry till I come, what is that to thee?' This seemed to imply that Jesus expected his disciple John to live until his second coming, and the disciples so construed it. The church on the contrary taught that Christ's second coming was still far in the future. I had long been growing in the belief that the Bible was not a hook of inexplicable riddles, and I determined to solve this mystery. Accordingly I read the New Testament through ten times with my eye on the question as to the time of Christ's second coming, and my heart struggling in prayer for full access to the truth. I soon perceived that every allusion to the second coming in which there was a clue as to its time pointed in the same direction; and when my investigation was ended, my mind was clear: I no longer conjectured, I knew that the time appointed for the second coming of Christ was within one generation from the time of his personal ministry."
Noyes's theory of the second coming was the key to his theology and consequently a most powerful factor in shaping his career. Since his exposition of the subject is contained not in a single book but in a large number of articles and talks scattered through forty years of his life, it is impossible to bring together direct quotations which will give a concise, connected account of the subject in its various aspects. The editor has therefore attempted in the following statement partly in his own words and partly in Noyes's to present the theory as nearly as possible in the form it finally took in Noyes's mind:
To prevent misunderstanding it should here be shown exactly what is meant by the second coming of Christ. A miniature of the transaction comprised in the first and second comings may be seen in the parable of the nobleman's return: "A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds. and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received thc kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him [and he reckoned with them, rewarding them according to their several merits, and then said :] But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them. bring hither and slay them before me." Luke 19:12-27.
We learn from this parable that Christ came, departed, and returned. We learn also that at his first coming he was comparatively powerless: that in the interval between his departure and his return he had received from his Father great power and authority: and that his second Coming was attended by the judgment, reward, and punishment of those who had witnessed his humble ministry and cruel death while on earth.
A more particular account of the second coming is contained in the twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew. In answer to his disciples' question, What shall he the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world, Jesus described the unparalleled tribulations soon to be visited on the Jewish race culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem. Then he said: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Because of the form of the disciples' question in the English translation some have assumed, that the second coming was to be identified with the end of the physical world. But the Greek words translated "end of the world" mean only end of the age; and that Christ used them in this sense is evident from his reference in this same discourse to events that were to take place on earth long after his second Coming.
Again, because of the fact that the second Coming was manifestly associated in these passages with a day of judgment, many have supposed that the second coming would not take place until the final and general judgment of mankind. But an attentive study of the Bible leads to the conclusion, that the judgment of mankind instead of being a single transaction, as popularly supposed, is divided into two acts occupying two distinct periods of time. When Christ says that Jerusalem after its destruction "shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled," he implies that the judgment of the Gentiles will be distinct from and long after the judgment of the Jews. The same fact is brought out clearly by John in the vision of the seals and trumpets. In this vision, when the sixth seal is opened, Christ appears on the throne of judgment amid signs in heaven and earth, and men hide themselves from his face, saying, The great day of his wrath is come. This is evidently the first judgment. Afterward the seventh seal is opened, introducing a long series of events attending the successive sounding of seven trumpets. At length, when the seventh trumpet sounds, Christ is proclaimed sovereign of the earth, and the stage is set for a second and final judgment.
The propriety of two judgments becomes apparent, when we consider the general plan of redemption as laid down in the Bible. As God divides mankind into two great families-the Jews and the Gentiles-so he has appointed a separate judgment for each. The harvest of the Jews came first, because they were ripened first. God separated them from the rest of the nations, and for two thousand years poured upon them the sunshine and rain of religious discipline. When Christ came, he said that the fields were "white to the harvest." By the preaching of Christ and his apostles the preparation for judgment was completed, and at the destruction of Jerusalem the Jews as a nation were judged. Then the process of special religious discipline passed from the Jews to the Gentiles. For nearly two thousand years the Gentile crop has been maturing, and we may reasonably look for the Gentile harvest as near.
Thus it will be seen, that by the second coming of Christ is meant his coming with authority and power to reckon with, reward and punish those to whom he delivered the gospel at his first coming; the day of judgement for the apostolic church and the Jewish nation, not the final and general judgment; the end of the age or cycle which commenced with Moses, not the end of the physical world.
Christ in his various discourses explicitly limited the time of his second coming by five different but equivalent statements:
1. He placed it "immediately after" the unparalleled tribulations of the Jewish people leading up to and culminating in the destruction of their holy city and the extinction of their national existence.
2. He said that his disciples would not have gone over the cities of Israel in their mission of preaching the gospel before the Son of man would come.
3. He expressly stated that his return would take place within the lifetime of the generation then living on the earth.
4. He declared that some of those to whom he spoke would live to see the event.
5. He plainly intimated in the passage quoted above that John would be one of those who would survive until he came.
The apostles in their writings give abundant evidence that they understood these sayings of Christ in their literal and obvious sense. They exhort the churches to look and wait for the coming of Christ in language which would sound strange in the mouths of ministers today. They constantly speak of the event as near at hand. Paul plainly assumes, that he and some of those to whom lie writes will be alive on earth when Christ returns. Both church and secular historians are fully aware of this belief on the part of the apostles, and have noted the fact that the amazing growth of the church (luring the forty years following the crucifixion was partly due to the universal expectation among the primitive believers that the return of Christ for judgment, vengeance and reward was soon to take place.
In addition to the five explicit time-limitations quoted above Christ predicted three events within the church, which were to serve as signs of the near approach of his coming, namely, the preaching of the gospel throughout the world, the appearance of false Christs, and a great falling away among his followers. The fulfillment of these predictions is recorded in the New Testament itself, as will be seen by placing predictions and fulfillments in parallel columns thus:
But despite the fulfillment of the predicted signs it might still be objected, that history bears no direct
* These inorganic phenomena are not necessarily to be regarded as miracles. They may be, as F. W. Frankland has said, an inexorable prius to which the providential government of the universe can only be adjusted-not vice versa. -G.W.N.
testimony to the occurrence of the second coming itself. This leads to the inquiry, what according to Christ's description was to be the nature of the event. The answer is, it was to be secret "like a thief in the night" ; omnipresent like the lightning; not with outward show, since the kingdom of heaven was within. In a word the second coming was to be, like the first coming, of a nature to confound and disappoint the expectations of worldly wisdom. There was to be an outward and visible index of portentous events, but the principal manifestation was to be in the invisible world, whither a large majority of the subjects of the Jewish dispensation had already departed.
Although history bears no direct testimony to the occurrence of Christ's second coming at the end of the Jewish dispensation, there are nevertheless a number of circumstances which might be regarded as indirect confirmations of the foregoing theory. Among these the following are deserving of mention:
I. The destruction of Jerusalem marks the beginning of a strange hiatus in the records of the Christian church -- a "historical chasm of sixty or eighty years" Heudekoper calls it. Where before we walk in the glare of authentic letters and narratives in abundance, immediately after we grope and stumble in a historic night. Luke for some unaccountable reason closes his narrative of the The Acts, leaving us in doubt as to the fate of Paul. Paul himself, inde-
fatigable publicist as he always was, writes no more letters, and sends no more messengers to the churches under his care. Mark throws aside his pen in the middle of an unfinished sentence, abandoning his gospel to be finished by an unknown hand. We have no certain information regarding the death of any of the apostles save the few who perished years before the critical period. Just as the darkness closes in, what Renan calls "the lightning-flash of the Apocalypse" for a moment illumines the scene. It is a warning message to the church that the coming of Christ is at the door. Then the curtain falls, and for seventy years almost the only authentic evidence of the existence of the church is the letter of Pliny to the emperor Trajan, which, as F. W. Frankland says, bears "oblique but eloquent witness in its account of the strength of Bithynian Christianity to the impression produced by great events in the recent Past."
2. When at length the church again emerges into view, its character is totally changed. In place of the substantial unity of the apostolic church we find a main body represented by the so-called apostolic fathers, opposed on the one side by the Ebionites and on the other by the Gnostics. The early simplicity is already giving way to the ritual and organization of the Church of Rome. On examining the writings of these various sects we find what Reuss cal1s an "immense retrogression" from the views of the apostles. Puerility is the outstanding characteristic of all.
To the apostolic fathers salvation has become a mere matter of wages and mechanical arrangement. Prayer, fasting, alms-giving are efficacious to cancel an equivalent amount of sins. No difference is felt as to moral value between the law and the gospel. Heresy-limiting has become the chief intellectual concern. Extravagant claims of miraculous power are equaled only by the credulity with which they are received. The seeds of monasticism and saint-worship are plainly to be seen.
The Ebionites were a Judaizing sect. Because Paul broke loose from Judaism and adapted Christianity to world-wide needs, they rejected him as an impostor. They adhered to the entire Mosaic law, including circumcision, and observed both the Christian and the Jewish Sabbath. They circulated fantastic tales about a revelation given in the year 100 A. D. to a certain Elchasai by Jesus Christ in the person of an angel ninety-six miles high, accompanied by the Holy Ghost in the person of a female angel of the same stature.
The Gnostics were a sect of mystery-mongers. They relied for salvation on the observance of mystic rites, and the knowledge of mystic names, numbers, and formulas. They believed that the soul in its flight to heaven was opposed by a legion of demons, and in order to make a safe passage must know the name of each diabolical assailant and be provided with the requisite sacred formula to render him harmless.
No one of these sub-apostolic writers had any sure information regarding the last days of the apostles. Expectation of an imminent second coming of Christ, which was so rife in the Primitive Church, had wholly passed away.
3. The closing events of the apostolic age and the world movements of history which followed were singularly suggestive of the authority and power which prophecy had assigned to Christ at his second coming. The Jewish people, who had rejected and crucified him, driven from their native land and scattered among all nations in accordance with his prediction, remain to this day a monument of miscarried national hopes. Jerusalem, the scene of his humiliation and death, after being destroyed by the Romans was rebuilt only to be ground under the heel of Gentile oppressors for two thousand years. The Roman Empire, whose provincial governor delivered him to his accusers and whose soldiers executed their brutal sentence, was at length dashed in pieces. It was the last of the world-empires described by Daniel in his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and was succeeded in accordance with Daniel's prophecy by a group of balanced and divided political powers. The Gentiles, previously from the Jewish point of view without the pale, were admitted to an equal share in the salvation brought by Christ, and in the new cycle, which commenced with the destruction of Jerusalem, became the chief subjects of religious discipline. The Christian religion swept with incredible swiftness to its complete triumph over Judaism and Paganism in the Greco-Roman world. The tiny record of Christ's life and teachings, written not by Christ but by his disciples, preserved through centuries of pagan hostility and barbarian vandalism, was at last printed, translated into every tongue, and circulated more widely than any other book. The Christian nations with resistless tread advanced to sovereignty over all the earth. If Christ had then begun literally to "rule the nations with a rod of iron," events could hardly have turned more in accordance with the prophecies of the Bible and the interests of his own kingdom.
In the foregoing review we have followed the stream of historically recognized events as it approached and passed through the predicted "end of the age" and finally merged with the events of the succeeding age. So far as these visible events are concerned the prescience of Christ in his eschatological utterances is minutely established. In regard to the invisible events, which were equally the subjects of his predictions, we can only say that the fulfillment of his predictions in the things that were seen creates a presumption, that his predictions were fulfilled in the things that were not seen; and those who have learned on other grounds to take Christ fully at his word may reasonably believe in a second stream of events parallel to the first, but beyond the verge of visibility. They will see in imagination a Judgment Assize set up in the invisible world immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem; punishments and rewards meted out to all the subjects of the Jewish dispensation; immortality of a vivid and dominant type attained by the faithful followers of Christ; and the emergence of the spiritual organization of which Christ was head as thenceforth the paramount factor in human affairs.
Noyes was one of those who took Christ fully at his word, and the second coming of Christ in its visible and invisible aspects was to him a potent reality. He measured the greatness of the event thus: "As the body is to the soul, so was the awful overthrow of Jerusalem to the second coming of Christ. The slaughter of eleven hundred thousand Jews was the visible and inferior index of that spiritual judgment, in which 'the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man hid themselves in the dens and rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb for the great day of his wrath is come.'
The most important consequences of this theory may be stated thus
I. It reestablishes the credit of Christianity by reestablishing the credit of Christ and his apostles on a crucial point of their teaching. The idea that Christ and his apostles were mistaken in regard to the time of the second coming has been felt in all ages as a serious difficulty for the Christian religion and now that the "mistake" has been magnified to nearly two thousand years the difficulty has become well-nigh insuperable. How vulnerable Christianity is on this point, and how alive to their advantage hostile critics are, may be judged from the following extract from an article by Alexander Brown in the London Contemporary Review for March 1911:
"At present the storm-center is the seemingly insignificant matter of the apocalyptic teaching of the Master. The accusation is made in the bluntest terms, that He uttered predictions concerning Himself, which time has shown to be false, proving that He misconceived His own importance and misread the future of His cause. This is meant to carry the implication, that one so visibly deceived cannot be trusted in anything else that He taught. This accusation of failure and falsity has been persistently made, and buttressed with much learning during the last ten years."
The common view of the second coming, it must be confessed, leaves Christianity helpless against such attacks. The above theory, if true, is a complete defense.
2. This view removes the foundations of a great variety of false and harmful speculations in regard to the second coming, such as the following:
(a) The belief of William Miller, of the Adventists, and of numberless others throughout the Christian centuries, that the second coming was, or is about to take place.
(b) The belief of many, like Swedenborg and Ann Lee, that the second coming has recently taken place in their own persons.
(c) The belief of the Universalists that, since the judgment most frequently alluded to in the Bible was to take place within the lifetime of the apostles and evidently referred to the judgment of the Jews in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem, no further judgment of mankind need now be expected.
3. This view reduces the authority of the early Christian fathers to an amount commensurate with their actual merits. According to the accepted view the early Christian fathers, since they lived so much nearer than we to the time of Christ, must have been correspondingly more Christ-like than we; hence in the orthodox churches Clement, Ignatius, Papias, Barnabas were regarded as nearly if not quite equal in authority to Peter, James, John, Paul. And yet nothing is more manifest to a student of history than the fact, that the Christian church in passing from the first to the second century underwent a sudden and vast declension of quality. With this undoubted fact the foregoing theory of the second Coming exactly agrees. According to that theory the apostolic church, which attained the highest standard of character the world has ever seen, passed at the second coming into the invisible world; and the church immediately succeeding, being composed chiefly of newly-converted pagans and barbarians and lacking the genuinely spiritual nucleus which at the second coming was withdrawn from the visible world, instead of being more advanced than the church of the present day must of necessity have been far less advanced. To one who accepts that theory, therefore, the early Christian fathers with their crude ideas of morality and religion are examples not of an exalted spiritual state which we ought to strive for, but rather of a childish state which we have outgrown.
4. This view of the second coming invalidates all claims to ecclesiastical authority that are based on the assumption of historic continuity with the apostles. The thread of historic continuity, instead of connecting with the apostles, connects either with the unfaithful few* who at the second coming were rejected, or with the mass of immature believers who could not in any sense be looked upon as vested with apostolic authority. The only credential that can substantiate a claim of
* Noyes did not deny that there have been many true representatives of Christ in the world since the second coming. But he believed that, like the "two witnesses" described in Revelation, they have been "clothed in sackcloth," not in priestly robes. He looked for the "remnant of the seed" of the apostolic church not among those who claimed authority inherited from the apostles, but among the heretics whom they persecuted.-G. W. N.
apostolic authority is present communication with Christ.
5. This view of the second coming gives a reason-able answer to the many attacks on Christianity which are based on the failure of the visible Christian church fully to embody Christian principles. First, the apostolic church, which alone exhibits the mature fruit of Christianity, fully embodied the principles of Christ during its career on earth, and has fully embodied those principles since its transfer to the spiritual world. Secondly, Christianity as we see it today is not an uninterrupted development of the Christianity that existed at the end of the apostolic age. On account of the withdrawal of the spiritual part of the apostolic church at the second coming and the assimilation of uncounted multitudes of pagans and barbarians during the two centuries immediately following, the Christianity of the third century A. D. represented a stage of civilization in many respects as low as that of the Jews in the time of Moses. It is to this low beginning that the development since must be added in reckoning the present position of the visible Christian church. And if the proportion of altruistic individuals among the Christian nations today is approximately as great as it was in the Jewish world in 70 A. D., which probably few will deny, Christianity must be pronounced an unequivocal success.
6. This view of the second coming brings into harmony the biblical and the evolutionary conceptions of religious history. The orthodox churches believed that religious privileges and experience had remained on the same general level since the time of Moses. Christians confessed sin the same as non-Christians; and Christians of the nineteenth century the same as Christians of the third century, or Jews of the twelfth century B.C. All, however, were devoutly hoping for a religious consummation to be suddenly manifested at some distant future date. This is the static conception of religious history. The foregoing theory, on the other hand, marks off religious history into cycles of definite aim and accomplishment. The second coming marked the end of a cycle which commenced with Moses. Its aim was the religious discipline of the Jews, and its consummation was the apostolic church, which, as will be shown in the next chapter, for the first time in human history attained the experience of complete freedom from sin Then a new cycle commenced, the aim of which was the religious discipline of the Gentiles. For nineteen hundred years the Gentiles have been toiling upward toward a consummation which Noyes believed to be close at hand. This is the dynamic or evolutionary conception of religious history. According to this view the religious experience of mankind, instead of being a static condition with a sudden cataclysmic dénouement, is a progressive evolution in harmony with the principle which governs all other known processes of life.
7. Finally, this view of the second coming rivets the attention of Christians to the apostolic church as the perfect pattern both in teaching and experience. As that church was the consummation of the Jewish era, the discerning Christian will see in it the consummation toward which the present era is progressing. And the Christian churches that have occupied the visible field since the second coming he will see in their true perspective, starting from a low beginning and advancing through the centuries to a point not yet as high as that of the apostolic church in 70 A. D. For instruction and example therefore he will look over the heads of Revivalist, Calvinist, Reformer, Pope, Apologist, and Christian Father, and fix his eye on Christ and the apostles; and so far as his faith is able to apprehend the apostolic church as a still existent spiritual organization, as the united triumphant church which Christ prayed for and predicted and which has always been the ideal of Christendom, so far will be able to draw on the stores of sympathetic help which flow from a sense of personal companionship and leadership in the battle of life.
Whatever may have been the objective truth or falsity of this theory of the second coming, its subjective effect was tremendous. It is difficult for us of the twentieth century to put ourselves back into the state of mind and feeling of the New England church of 1833. To Noyes, just completing his theological course at New Haven and thus far in full sympathy with the church, how revolutionary these conclusions seemed! What boundless possibilities of doctrinal reform opened before him! With what a consciousness of power did he attack the problems of the Bible! No wonder that he instinctively felt, and wrote to his friends, that he had entered upon a course of discovery which would probably end in his expulsion from the church.
DOCTRINES OF THE ONEIDA COMMUNITY
(1) COMPLEX MARRIAGE - This is where every man and every woman is married to each other. They could engage in sexual intercourse, but could not be attached to each other as stated earlier.
(2) MALE CONTINENCE - This was a form of birth control where during and after sexual intercourse the man could not ejaculate.
(3) ASCENDING FELLOWSHIP - This is where the young virgins in the community were brought into the practice of Complex Marriage. The older godly members who were in a special group and were called Central Members would pick a virgin to be spiritually responsible for. This took place when the young people were about fourteen years old.
(4) MUTUAL CRITICISM - In Mutual Criticism, each member of the community that was being reprimanded was taken in front of either a committee or sometimes the whole community to be criticized for their action.
(5) CONFESSION - The members of the community, according to Noyes, were sinless after conversion, so no confession would be needed.
(6) REGENERATION - That Christ's death was not for the sins of man, but was the first blow to Satan. But that by believing in the death of Christ, one was released from sin, because Christ destroyed the central cause of sin. By believing then, one is regenerated (Whitworth 101-102).
(7) SEPARATION - The members did separate into a community, but their main separation was to be a sexual one.
(8) REVELATION - Noyes never said that he received special revelation, though he did have some twisted interpretations. Noyes once wrote an article in "The Berean" and emphasized the credibility of scripture and denounced those who denied the validity and relevance of scripture.
(9) EQUALITY OF THE SEXES - The Oneida Community believed in equality of the sexes as stated earlier.
(10) MILLENNIAL KINGDOM - That the Millennial Kingdom had been introduced in A.D. 70 at which time Noyes thought Christ had made His Second Coming (Hudson 186). - New York History: Oneida
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Would please comment on how to approach (the 'hermeneutics?) passages we often say are from a "cultural context' (e.g., foot washing, head covering, etc)?
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