Were the early Church Fathers pretty Much pre Millianillists?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JesusFan, Apr 21, 2011.

  1. JesusFan

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    Know that darby and his followers are looked at bringing in the concept of a pre trib rapture into the Church, but isn't it true that a solid majority of the early Church fathers, first 2-300 hundreds years were strongly pre mill in their eschatlogical theology, and that the Church shifted away from this during beginnings of modern Roman catholic Church?

    So "Historic/Apostolic" Theology would have been pre mill?
     
    #1 JesusFan, Apr 21, 2011
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  2. Allan

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    they were ONLY Premil for first 200 years.. in the 3rd century we show only 4 who disagreed, the first being Origen (who is known for his heretical beliefs / even denying the physical resurrection of Jesus. s. We have in the early church writings no such concepts (as we have today regarding the spiritualization of future events, no Kingdom for Israel, no literal 1000 year reign of Jesus, no literal anti-Christ) till the 3rd century, again, church historians agree, the premil position was main orthodox position of the church - and for the 1st and 2nd century there was 'no' other views in/of the Church. In other words it was the 'unchallenged' view That included Christ personally and physically reigning in Israel from Jerusalem for a literal 1000 years. That there will be a literal personal anti-christ, ect..

    In the 3rd century we find the first person of only 4 recorded (Origen the basic founder of the growing view) who sought to spiritualize scripture but his main reasoning was due to his belief that nothing physical can be holy and good - stemming from his Aristotelian studies. He even denied (if I remember correctly) the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus because of this. Thus he denied any literal Godly Kingdom.

    Therefore we note historically that the teachings of the apostles was passed on their disciples, and theirs to theirs.
    It can not be proven to any extent that the apostles taught there will be no literal kingdom, not literal personal anti-christ, no Kingdom restored again to Israel. We 'know' this because the early church, and more specifically those of John (the writer of Revelation) own disciple and the disciple of that disciple NEVER
    taught such a doctrine. That is also why Premil and not Amil (postmil or preterism) was ever considered the orthodox doctrine of the Christian Church for nearly 400 years after Christ ascended.

    Here we can note church historian George N. H. Peters' presentation of Justin Martyr's (100AD-168AD) declaration:
    Also we have church historian Chafer who goes on to write:
    What can we then state but this is what the Holy Spirit taught the disciples, of which Jesus did not deny but told those original disciples regarding WHEN the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel.. That (when) is the Fathers business.. you need to focus on what has been assigned to you - be my witnesses.
     
    #2 Allan, Apr 21, 2011
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  3. Gabriel Elijah

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    I thought his heretical practice was self-castration—well if that’s not considered heresy—it should be!!!-lol
     
  4. asterisktom

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    This question needs to take into consideration an earlier category than the first 2 to 5 hundred years, and that is Clement of Rome and the Didache. Both of these were written before the catastrophic events of AD70, so they were pretty much in a class by themselves. They certainly were not Pre-mill. Neither were they futurists in the sense we use the term today.
     
  5. Allan

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    No. The first 2 to 5 hundred years are critical to the debate.

    The disciples of Jesus taught their disciples and they, theirs.. ect..

    Therefore, what was the common view - futurism, which came directly from the apostles, and their teachings came from Jesus.

    Now we both understand that the writings we have do not encompass all there is to know of scripture (IOW - do not give us an exhaustive understanding as they did not need to write it down at the time), but we do know, from them what was the orthodox teachings of the church at that time.
     
  6. Allan

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    LOL.. true.. However for those who hold to amil or pret.. I am not saying those views came FROM Origen. I'm saying he is the first recorded writer that disagreed with the orthodox position of the church at that time.
     
  7. TomVols

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    No. Just as likely it was Amil due to a staunch belief in the imminent return of Christ
     
  8. Allan

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    You won't find any notable church historians agreeing with that :)

    Especially since they also held to a literal physical reigning of Christ from Jerusalem for 1000 years, a literal physical Kingdom for Israel from whence Jesus will rule, a literal personal Anti-Christ, and a literal physical resurrection.
     
  9. asterisktom

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    Well then, why stop at the first 500 hundred years? Let us follow this group of God-trained disciples - and embrace the Roman Catholic Church. I am not being facetious, but trying to show that your cut off point seems artificial.
     
  10. Allan

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    While yes, corruption did come into the church, not denying that, you should not and can not discard the teachings of those who were taught by the apostles themselves, and the fact that this view was consistent (or unchanged) from them till nearly 300 years later gives staunch historical evidence that it was the teaching of Jesus Himself.

    Remember John (the writer of Revelation), his own disciple Polycarp stated this view. John, better than anyone alive then or now, knew what the book of the Revelation of Jesus was about. And we find that Polycarp taught the Premil view. We know that Polycarp was one of John's disciples because both Irenaeus and Tertullian that he was. Also both of these also held to the Premil view.

    So should we not take these seriously and believe what a group of people more than 500 years later say instead?
     
  11. asterisktom

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    John the Apostle was writing before AD70 so the comparison is not totally valid. Also, I do not discard the teaching of those who taught by the Apostles, but neither do I (on the basis of verses like Acts 20:30) totally accept them. Any close study of church history shows a dramatic drop-off in spiritual quality in, say, the writings of Ignatius.

    In the earliest writings, Clement of Roma, the Didache and fragments of Hegesippus we get no inkling premillenniarianism.

    I still think that you have an overly artificial transition from apostolic doctrinal purity to "corruption". The corruption that you seem to posit more down the centuries Paul saw as looming even among his present hearers on the shore near Ephesus.
     
  12. Allan

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    I know there are 'few' who hold that view, but note also that the majority of church and secular historians do not. I hope your view does not find it's foundation upon that premise.

    He didn't write those.. and just because he cites 'some' passages from them does not necessitate he held to the views they portray. Such as Didache (writen around 180), he quotes a segment, NOT regarding aspects to or of the Amil view
    According to [Grant]:

    ... he [Clement] employs the Didache only in Stromata I,100,4 - and there he does not name the work. (p. 167)
    "Grant, Robert M. The Formation of the New Testament. New York: Harper & Row, 1965."
    It is only postulated that Clement thought the Didache was scripture because he quoted the first few lines of it.

    Secondly, why not cite what they said so it can be validated. Especially since no Church historian I can find states what you are implying.
    It should also be noted that these do not speak to the Mil view on way or the other.

    Hmmm.. the error was being corrected as it came about and was not the orthodox view of the church. Thus what the apostles taught was not a corrupted view. To assume the view was completely corrupted from the apostles to their own disciples or better that there was a complete disconnect between the apostles teachings and the teachings of their personal disciples, is at best, not plausible.
     
    #12 Allan, Apr 21, 2011
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  13. John of Japan

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    Have you ever actually read these documents? The Didache doesn't come down one way or the other. It doesn't mention the millenium. It certainly isn't a witness for an anti-premillenial stance. Concerning its date, it was certainly not prior to 70 AD. Where did you get that? I doubt that you can find a scholar to agree.

    I'd have to look at Clement, but I don't recall that he even mentioned the millenium. Furthermore, "critics are generally agreed in fixing the date of it at about 96 AD" (The Apostolic Fathers, tr. by Maxwell Staniforth, p. 17).
     
  14. asterisktom

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    About the dating of Clement: I first began to rethink the dating of his epistle when I encountered some articles touting this earlier date. Then I read the epistle more carefully, paying close attention to the Greek. I am now totally convinced of an earlier, preAD70 date.

    Notice especially the following:

    Clem 5:1 - 6
    But, to pass from the examples of ancient days, let us come to those champions who lived nearest [ENGISTA] to our time. Let us set before us the noble examples which belong to our generation. By reason of jealousy and envy the greatest and most righteous pillars of the Church were persecuted, and contended even unto death. Let us set before our eyes the good Apostles.

    He goes on to describe the exemplary testimonies and martyrdoms of Peter and Paul. Notice that he uses the word "nearest". If he was writing in the 90s, a generation later, he would not have used that term. But, on the contrary, he refers to them as "belong[ing] to our generation."

    In Clem 40:1 - 5 speaks of the Jewish ministrations as still being current. The Temple is still standing. Note especially the last section.
    They therefore that make their offerings at the appointed seasons are acceptable and blessed: for while they follow the institutions of the Master they cannot go wrong. For unto the high priest his proper services have been assigned, and to the priests their proper office is appointed, and upon the Levites their proper ministrations are laid. The layman is bound by the layman's ordinances.


    The next section has this. Note here, once again, we have a series of present tenses:
    Not in every place, brethren, are the continual daily sacrifices offered, or the freewill offerings, or the sin offerings and the trespass offerings, but in Jerusalem alone. And even there the offering is not made in every place, but before the sanctuary in the court of the altar; and this too through the high priest and the afore said ministers, after that the victim to be offered hath been inspected for blemishes. They therefore who do any thing contrary to the seemly ordinance of His will receive death as the penalty. Ye see, brethren, in proportion as greater knowledge hath been vouchsafed unto us, so much the more are we exposed to danger.

    There are other indicators but these should do for now.

    I understand that no mention of the Millennium is given. It is my contention that that teaching was a much later one, resorted to when the overwhelming majority of Christian writers in earlier decades were no longer around to give their voice. The teaching on the Millennium is just one of several teachings that were creeping into the church.
     
  15. JesusFan

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    Actually, it was the other way around concerning the viewpoints of early Church teachers/leaders

    The best direct link to the Apostles, first and second centuies of early church DOES support the idea that they viewed God as having a distinct pre Mill plan for eschatology, and many of them also viewed Isreal as still having a part in the Plans of God for end times...

    So it would appear that the early Church fathers, received by the Apostles themselves, believed that Jesus would one day return, set up the Kingdom of God upon the earth at that time, and would rule over eartrh from Jerusalem, fulfilling OT prophecies made to Isreal..

    And that view changed later on, after the Cathoic Church start teaching that the Kingdom and the RC were one and same, ushering in belief in almill theologies...
     
    #15 JesusFan, Apr 22, 2011
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  16. Osage Bluestem

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    Virtually everyone was premillenial until augustine. Then he developed amillenialism that latere became postmillenialism.

    Premillenialism is the eschatology of the bible and the early church.
     
  17. JesusFan

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    wasn't that when the Church taught that Church was the Kindgom of God on the earth?
    also started to plant 'seeds" for replacement theologies, that Isreal had forfeited her position with God by rejecting Messiah, so Church is now "Spiritual Isreal?"
    the reformers in Middle Ages were attacking mainly the doctrines of salvation. and so did little to refute the cathoic almil that was spread throughout the Church? Nor refute Replacement Theology?
     
    #17 JesusFan, Apr 22, 2011
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  18. quantumfaith

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    :thumbs::thumbs::thumbs:
     
  19. John of Japan

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    This a weak argument.If this is what convinced you, your were extremely willing to be convinced. Clement lived 30 to 100 (Who Was Who in Church History, by Elgin Moyer, p. 93). He would have been 41 in 71 AD, meaning he could have easily used the phrase "my generation" in 71. On the other hand, he would have been only 20 in 50 AD, and could have never have written the authoritative letter he did. It is possible for him to have written before 70, but there is no historical evidence he did so.

    Admit it, you don't really know Greek, do you? :tongue3: If you did, you would have recognized this as the historical present in Greek. "The present tense may be used to describe a past event, either for the sake of vividness or to highlight some aspect of the narrative" (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, by Daniel Wallace, p. 526; italics in the original).
    "Creeping into the church?" I highly suspect that John's "Revelation of Jesus Christ" did not "creep" into the church, but landed like a bombshell.

    By the way, you do know that both Clement and the Didache expected a literal, imminent coming of Christ, right?
     
  20. asterisktom

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    Yes, I do know Greek. I was only a mediocre student back in the 70s but I have been keeping at it ever since, especially appreciating books like Wallace's. (I wish I would have had him back in the university days. Yes, I do know about the historical present use, such as Mark often uses in his Gospel. BTW your cheekiness is uncalled for.

    I am not convinced that historical present is what is employed here. If you want to go that way, go for it.

    You glossed over my other points - but I pretty much expected this. I see also that you just state facts as if they are true, just because you found an author that asserted it, like the dates from Clement. Well, where did Moyer find out that Clement lived from 30 to 100? Don't be so gullible, relying on OPS (Other People's Scholarship). I suppose I should ask you what you asked of me: Have you really read and studied out this epistle of Clement's? I don't think you have.
     
    #20 asterisktom, Apr 22, 2011
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