APPENDIX 6: Some Criticisms Of Futurism Considered
The following comments
are taken from the section about prophecy in " Be ye doers
of the word" - a publication which has many otherwise excellent chapters
relating to our walk in Christ.
" New theories on prophecy, some borrowed from the apostasy,
are being introduced"
The fact one may have a view of prophecy differing to that of Dr Thomas
doesn't mean that it was borrowed from the apostasy. Many brethren have
not read 'outside' interpretations of prophecy but have in all spiritual
honesty come to their own conclusions. It seems to be overlooked that
whole sections of Dr Thomas' prophetic writings are culled directly from
writers of the Protestant apostasy. Sometimes he acknowledges his quotes;
other times he quotes by the page without acknowledging . So if
'the true' interpretation of prophecy happens to coincide with something
an apostate interpreter also said, why is there so much objection to it
if , say, ones’ conclusions as a ‘futurist’ happen to agree with those
of an apostate interpreter? Dr Thomas presumably wasn't guilty of introducing
the apostacy - and so neither is anyone else who happens to have another
view of prophecy. This kind of poor logic and basless allegation
only fuels immature bre & sis to attack any brother or sister who
holds another view and brand them as apostate, introducing apostasy etc.
This is where attitude to prophecy has been the source of division.
" In these instances, the interpretation of these prophetic books
of the Bible is regarded as a matter of opinion and the absence of any
reference to a continuous historic approach in our Statement of Faith
is cited as justifying this position."
This seems to imply that holding the CONTINUOUS HISTORIC approach
is just as important as anything else in a statement of faith. Yet if
this were so, why then wasn't the CONTINUOUS HISTORIC view of prophecy
included in it? And why has our community consistently welcomed the presence
of those with other views amongst us? To this day the likes of Harry Whittaker
and Alf Norris are quoted widely; and many futurist expositors of prophecy
are all active speakers in our community even though they advocate a non
CONTINUOUS HISTORIC view. So surely, there are true principles and uncertain
details. How we view the beast etc. is surely one of the uncertain details
in terms of fellowship- and I don't just mean the breaking of bread, I
mean also practically working together.
The small temple theory which is at variance with Bro. Sulley’s exposition"
We notice the small temple theory is wrong with reference to its contradiction
of Bro Sulley, not Scripture. There is no shred of evidence that the temple
will be circular- so one can scarcely insist on THIS matter. There are
many many brethren who deny a large temple theory…and many others who
believe the whole prophecy is conditional and will not come true.
Now one could hardly round up all those brethren and accuse them of leading
the brotherhood into a state of unpreparedness, lack of zeal etc. These
very brethren are amongst our most zealous!
" The view that the Arabs will invade Israel as well as Russia and
that the invasion of Ezekiel 38 will occur once Christ has established
Can anyone say the Arabs WON'T invade Israel? It seems almost certain
they will join in with any invader of Israel, be it Russia or whoever.
To say that to believe they will invade Israel leads to all the allegations....lack
of watching for Christ’s return, lack of zeal and witness...this is just
slanderous. Those of us who believe the Bible teaches the Arabs WILL invade
Israel really aren't any better or worse in these areas than those who
believe something else. It is surely a matter of sadness that some
can be SO dogmatic
that ONLY his or her views are possibly correct and ANY other alternative
must be labelled as heretical and destructive.
" Old views are deemed to be outdated and wrong [just] because
they are old…[this is the result of humanism in education affecting our
This is unfair to say this. We don't reject the Continuous historic
view of basic doctrine just because it's old. This is a judging of the
motives of brethren who see things differently. No possibility is accepted
prayed and studied for years to come to the conclusions which historic
evangelical literature espouses the cause of the Papal theory relating
to Antichrist…to deflect the idenitifcation of the Roman church
with the harlot of Rev. 17 and place the bulk of Apocalyptic predictons
into the future. Unfortunately some of these current views relating to
the identity of the beast and the harlot have been accepted by some within
This is one of the irresponsible statements that causes some to brand
those of who have a futuristic view of the antichrist or Apocalypse as
Jesuits or Jesuit influenced. It isn't a case that I, for example, read
and accepted any of these Papal views, as they are called here. No, I
honestly didn't. I just studied my Bible and used a concordance and my
knowledge of current affairs. It is no more introducing Catholic dogma
into the Truth than Bro. John Thomas could be accused of introudcing Protestant
dogma through his views. It shoud also be noted that the Protestant apostacy
is full of literature which identifies the whore of Rev. 17 with the Papacy.
" These new theories:
1. Undermine our faith."
But who ever can say this or know this?? How can the author judge that
someone whose faith is weak has been weakened by an honest attempt to
interpret Scripture. How about all those whose faith is built up by them?
The brethren who have written futuristic views of Revelation or subscribed
to them have a strong faith . What is being said is just plain wrong,
as well as slanderous and defamatory.
" If part 3 of Elpis Israel is fundamentally wrong, what about
the earlier two sections?"
This is a totally bogus argument. Because a brother writes something that's
right does it mean everything else is right?? Sadly this view that
Elpis Israel must be right stems from the wrong view that Dr Thomas
was 'Divinely guided' in his writings therefore he must be right.
This means then that all independent study of Scripture is immediately
made of little value, and must be conducted not as children coming
to the words of their Father, but as men tramlined into only one set of
possible conclusions. Dr Thomas was Divinely guided only as much
as anyone else is amongst us- otherwise we are becoming like any other
sect who bases their beliefs upon the words of uninspired men, and whose
faithfulness is judged by their lack of deviation from the founder rather
than from God's word.
" Also disagreement among us as to the meaning of God’s word can
generate apathy and undermine our zeal."
No. This implies that every matter of Biblical interpretation must be
uniformly agreed amongst us or else we will not be as zealous as those
who claim to be uniform in their views. It just is slanderous to say that
brethren who hold or held futuristic views were not zealous and
were apathetic. It just isn't true. In fact, it's
worse than not true- it's slanderous. And it leads those who think they
ARE unified in their views to despise those who rejoice in their diversity
of opinion, and to consider them less zealous than themselves.
There seems to be a confusion in some minds between uniformity and unity.
The great theme of God's manifestation in men and women is that His one
Name is manifested in the diversity of those making up the body of Christ.
There IS unity, yet in diversity. There would be no need for the virtue
of tolerance, if the aim of the body of Christ was to produce a community
which were agreed on every detail of Biblical interpretation. Our aim
should be unity of spirit, based upon the facts of the one Lord, one faith,
one Hope, one baptism. But not uniformity on every detail of the Bible.
Our unity around the basics leads us to lovingly tolerate each other
on non-essentials. But instead, it seems that some have so blurred the
definition of the Gospel that they insist that almost every matter of
Bible understanding becomes something to insist upon.
This behaviour is often justified by saying that we mustn't cause confusion
and must therefore allow only one view- which happens to be their
view, who are suggesting this zero-tolerance of others' opinions. The
existence and genuine tolerance of differing opinions is a healthy culture
to inculcate in our community. To inculcate intolerance of others, even
a despising of them as being less zealous and prepared and eager for the
Lord as a result of the view of prophecy they hold, can only lead to division.
And there is no lack of evidence this is exactly what has happened.
It also needs to be
noted that the continuous historic school of thought hardly speaks with
one voice about prophecy. The writings of, e.g., Geoff Walker and those
of Robert Roberts all adopt the continuous historic approach but they
offer quite different interpretations.
" 2. Many of these views leave us waiting for events to occur that
will never happen…"
That's pretty arrogant to say that. The Bible doesn't say the Arabs WON'T
EVER invade Israel, etc. How does the writer KNOW they won't happen??
" we may not appreciate either, the real urgency of our days and
be unprepared for the Lord’s appearing. Christ’s return may well come
‘as a thief in the night’."
He comes as a thief to those who are drunken with the cares of this world.
The writer is strongly implying that if you don't hold his / her view
of prophecy, then, you are one of those who will be condemned at Christ's
coming because it will be as a thief for them. Harry Whittaker had the
greatest effect upon many of us than any single brother. Yet he
and Phyllis were living examples of preparedness for the Lord's return,
as are others who so strongly maintain his views. So it just doesn't
follow that holding another view means we don't look out for the Lord's
" 3. If the interpretation of prophecy in Elpis Israel and Eureka
are largely astray we can hardly say to the stranger that the brotherhood
has had a consistent platform for over 140 years. Our capacity to witness
But again, isn't it strange that many of those who are actively involved
in mission work also hold futuristic views of prophecy? So it's
not true to say we mitigate witness. The vast majority of new converts
in our wider brotherhood don't hold the CONTINUOUS HISTORIC view of prophecy
and yet many of them convert many many others. If we are preaching prophecy
and the interpretation of it in terms of who the antichrist is, Revelation
etc. then we aren't preaching the Biblical Gospel. Both Thessalonians
and Revelltion were written well after the preaching of Acts 2-6. Here,
thousands heard the Gospel and were validly baptized- without knowing
about Revelation or antichrist, nor Russian invasions of Israel or Britain
coming in to the rescue etc. as 'Tarshish'. Therefore these matters were
not part of the apostolic Gospel- which is what we ought to be preaching.
If our Gospel is 'we have said the same thing about prophecy for 140 years',
then sadly we are guilty of preaching ourselves not Jesus Christ. And
case, that claim just isn't true. It needs to be well noted that those
who hold a futuristic view of prophecy have been converting far, far more
people to the Truth over the last generation than those who so strongly
insist on teaching the continuous historic view. Their capacity to witness
is clearly not " mitigated" . The reverse seems to be true.
" 4. Without a correct understanding of prophecy we are unable to
appreciate that the hand of providence has worked in the events transpiring
Again, this is just assumption. How does the writer KNOW that those who
have another view of prophecy don't perceive the hand of providence? The
author is blanketly stating that anyone who holds any other view than
his / her one is just spiritually hopeless. This is the danger of these
claims and this kind of language- it leads to an arrogant and aggressive
spirit against anyone who has another view, and a sense of moral and spiritual
superiority due to holding one view of Relevation rather than another.
" We would not have been excited by the events in Israel in 1948
and 1967 and we would not be stirred to faithful action."
But those who hold an Arab view of things are and were excited by those
things!! These were battles with Arab forces- not a united Europe or Catholicism.
Note too that in 1946-48 the British did all they could to STOP the state
of Israel being founded! Which hardly sounds like 'Tarshish' enabling
it as has been so wrongly claimed.
At the time of the renewed
intifada in 2000, those who had a futuristic view of prophecy were
far more excited about the increased prospects of the Lord’s soon return
as a result of these things than those of the continuous historic school.
The latter insisted that what was happening wasn’t that significant because
Russia and the Catholic church weren’t involved. So it could well be that
it is those who see the Arabs rather than the Catholics or Russia as the
latter day invader are the ones who will be the more “stirred to faithful
action” than others.
" Both Daniel and Revelation promise a blessing to those who understand
the message. ‘The wise shall understand’. Those who are wise will be found
written in the book of life…"
This strongly implies that the wise are those who understand prophecy
according to the view of the author. Entry into the book of life doesn't
depend on understanding prophecy. In that case a lot of faithful breethren
and sisters especially in the mission field won't be there. Notice that
the parallel in Daniel is between the wise and those who turn others to
righteousness. This is the true wisdom- to turn others to the way of life,
not to hold a supposedly pure understanding of who the beast of Revelation
is. Would that salvation were so easy- by mere correct intellectual understanding
of Bible prophecy.
The passage in Rev. 1:3 " Blessed is he that readeth and they that
hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things whicontinuous historic
are written therein" has been misread as meaning that blessing is
related to 'correctly understanding' the Revelation. The Greek word translated
" readeth" doesn't HAVE to mean 'correctly understands'. The
obvious sense is to link it with those who HEAR the words...the message
is being sent by a messenger, who was to READ it out loud- as we know
Paul's letters were thus read to a largely illiterate brotherhood- and
it was then HEARD by the ecclesias. Both reader and hearer were blessed
if they KEPT what the prophecy implied- which was and is an awareness
of God's claims upon His people, their separation from this world, and
an earnest readiness for Christ's return. The 'blessing' is elsewhere
applied not to those who intellectually understand something but to those
who are doing and living and saying the right things at the return of
Jesus. The same Greek word for 'Blessed' is used of those who are ready
at the Lord's return and doing the right things (Mt. 24:46; Lk. st1:time>12:37,38,43).
Rev. 22:7 links back to 1:3, the epilogue interpreting the prologue: "
Blessed is he who keeps the logos of the prophecy of this book" -
the essence / logos / underlying idea of it all, which is that God's
persecuted people will remain faithful to His word, will testify it to
an unbelieving world, and will live lives always prepared for their Lord's
return. The blessing is in the preparedness, not in the detailed understanding.
If blessing depends upon holding the CONTINUOUS HISTORIC view of Revelation,
then the majority of God's servants aren't blessed- seeing that Dr Thomas'
views of prophecies couldn't possibly have been understood throughout
most of the time from the 1st century until now.
" We are told also that it is vital to identify the beast of Revelation
and refuse its teaching ….the Lord states that those who fail to identify
the beast and separate from its ways will be rejected."
Well, here we have the clearly and commonly stated view- that if you identify
the beast any way different to them, you will be rejected at the last
day. One pleads with any who agree with this claim to PLEASE think
again, for the sake of their own eternal future apart from the pain and
discord this is causing. If we
condemn our brother, we will be condemned. Many hold another
view of the beast to that of Dr Thomas. According to the above statement,
they will be rejected. The import of this is terrible. It is too
easy to write and publish hurtful and damning words. But by our words
we will be justified, and by them too some will sadly have to be condemned.
" Ezekiel stresses the importance of understanding prophecy when
he calls on us to be watch. Those who fail to warn others will bear a
great responsibility- their ‘blood will I require at the watchman’s hand’."
Ezekiel is surely teaching that the watchman who doesn't do his job will
be condemned. And here yet again the view is implied - that if you 'see'
or 'watch' the 'signs' differently to them, then, you are an unfaithful
watchman and will be condemned. The watchman was to plead with Israel
to align their behaviour to God's word, in view of the coming of judgment
day; not dogmatically interpret the details of latter day prophecy
" We cannot watch if we do not first know what to look for. We
need to have a clear vision of what lies ahead. Careful study of the word
of God is essential."
But those who have other views of prophecy DO study the word. Surely
what our community needs is exhortation to Bible study, not exhortation
to condemn those who don't agree with us on non-essentials like the interpretation
of latter day prophecy. And we have to ask whether the purpose of 'prophecy'
is merely to predict future events. The Lord foretold the details of His
own passion so that WHEN IT CAME TO PASS his servants would THEN believe;
not to merely provide them with a timeline in advance. And there is no
real reason to understand ‘watching’ as merely comparing our interpretation
of Bible prophecies with present events. The contexts all say that our
‘watching’ is in being aware of our own spiritual frailty amidst all the
temptations of the very last days.
" Prov. 29:18 states: ‘Where there is no vision the people perish’.
The word ‘perish’ means ‘to be made naked’ and this accords with the Lord’s
warnings in Rev. 16:13 ‘Blessed is he hath watcontinuous historiceth and
keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame’. "
Yet again, the implication is that if we have a different 'vision' of
latter day prophecy to the writer/s, then we will be condemned. In any
case, the Prov. 29:18 passage doesn't seem to me to have anything to do
with latter day prophecy. The NIV gives the sense of the Hebrew
well here: " Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;
but blessed is he who keeps the law." Keeping the law- the Mosaic
the context- is paralleled with having a revelation / exposition of it.
If the priests didn't teach the law, then the people wouldn't keep it.
The blessedness of the 'watching’ is not that they have an accurate timeline
in place; we must watch exactly because we DON'T and CAN'T know
the exact time of the Lord's return. We cannot, therefore, have a detailed
timeline which tells us FOR SURE that Jesus will return after event x
or y. We can speculate, of course, but we cannot say for sure. The message
is to be ready, to love Him and His return, just because we DON'T know
when exactly He is coming (Mt. 24:42; 25:13). ‘Watching' means holding
to our faith and repenting of our weaknesses in Rev. 3:3- not interpreting
latter day prophecies. This of itself won't make us spiritual people.
The Greek word translated “watch" is usually translated "
prison" - the idea is of guarding oneself and ones' faith, "
vigilantly" watching out against the [Biblical] devil [same
word in 1 Pet. 5:8], rather than searching for the understanding of latter