As you look to history – the First Advent – what was the “majority teaching” of the religious leadership? Did they interpret Scripture correctly? Weren’t they supposed to be priests to YHVH who did everything He said and had divine “understanding”? If they believed the original eyewitnesses, IE Moses, they would have recognized Jesus as the Messiah and that He would have to be the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, killed per Psalm 22, Daniel 9, etc. But no, in their great “wisdom” their traditions certainly were correct, even when they plainly opposed the Law and the Prophets, the Word of God. The very ones who SHOULD HAVE known it all, knew NOTHING. Now as we look to the 2nd Advent, let us remember the words of the truly wise Solomon: “That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.”
A-Millennialism – heresy by allegory
First, it seems that any claim of the Church of the 5th Century dismissing Pre-millennialism (thus leaving imminence as the default eschatological teaching) is dubious at best. There are no primary sources from either the First Council of Constantinople or the Council of Ephesus around AD 400 that establish this (http://bible.org/article/phantom-heresy-did-council-ephesus-431-condemn-chiliasm).
There is a vague dismissal by the Catholics in the 1940s saying “pre-millennialism cannot safely be taught” but it has never quite risen to the level of official heresy. The Orthodox and Lutheran branches of the Church also are officially “a-millennial”, so it seems there is a great deal of “trust” among the largest denominations in this deviation from the Apostles teachings.
Let there be no doubt, if one allegorizes the Millennial Kingdom, you are by necessity advocating for an “imminent return of Christ”. Once you allegorize the Millennium, you are allegorizing many other prophecies detailing what happens beforehand, including nearly all of them spoken by Jesus Himself in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, etc. And if you teach the Abomination of Desolation happened in history, you have slid right into Preterism, but that’s another Heresy...
Do a little logic experiment with me. Take one of the mainstream churches who tell you the Millennium is “now” and we only await Christ’s return and final judgment; ever hear a teaching on Satan’s impending release and the final battle of Gog-Magog in Revelation 20 (to say nothing of supporting OT Scriptures)? Of course not!! The reason is obvious: the myriad questioning of things like, “Where was Satan bound for the past 2,000 years? And how was he able to deceive people if he was there? And I thought Jesus could come any time, how is Satan here to gather his army first?” would be impossible to address. They won’t bother answering those issues because they cannot without exposing themselves as ignorant or worse. Instead, you will get the milquetoast “No man knows the day or hour” which is tantamount to the Satanic scripture-twisting admonition “Judge not”. By itself, it means nothing at all. In other words, “we have no idea what the Bible teaches about the 2nd Coming and you won’t either!” Or we are told its “good enough” that our denomination has believed this way for hundreds of years, who are YOU to suggest otherwise? Conveniently forgotten are the early Church fathers like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hermas, Hippolytus and Cyprian who all taught a literal future Millennium which they learned directly from the Apostles and which is clear in the text of the New Testament: Gospels, Epistles, Revelation and all.
Despite what they will tell you, believing in a literal millennium of Jesus ruling from Jerusalem is NOT dependent on Revelation chapter 20. Strike the entire book from the Bible (which many of them want to do, by the way), and there are still a dozen proofs of the same 1,000 year Kingdom in the other Scriptures. To paraphrase an old friend of mine, “they think you are stupid”. In a verse which is often applied as a “zinger” to people like me, 2Peter 3:8 (which is a quote of Psalm 90:4) “a day with the lord is as a thousand years” – is actually a witness against them! Check it out:
with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day… But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up… looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
The “day of the Lord” is 1,000 years long; IE the Millennium. None of that burning destruction can be allegorized away, even under the most liberal method.
Pre-Tribulationism – heresy by lazy exegesis
I was so EXCITED, so ZEALOUS, so on fire for God that I took man’s word for it all. The “smart guys” already did the leg work, of course they had it all figured out! The painful irony is, we get so zealous we don’t slow down and examine our beliefs. Actually be Bereans and PROVE what we are being told – Scripture interprets itself – and not just get a “rapture high” and believe you are some special class of Super-Church that gets to escape the tribulation that everyone else (including the Church throughout history) has to endure. Ask the Christians of Iraq and Syria where their Rapture is!! Those lands were the crown jewels of Christendom for centuries and now have hell on earth – that should at least give you pause if you believe as I once did that the Church won’t have to endure things like being beheaded for Christ.
You hear it day after day after day from the pre-trib (sometimes referred to as Dispensational) believers: Christ could come today, be ready! I want to fly away with Jesus at any moment! His Return is IMMINENT! Except for the fact that even a cursory reading of the Bible says otherwise. It’s not “hidden” – Revelation has already been delivered – not some “secret coming” that nobody will see and is preceded by exactly zero events. Behold, the words that my 2nd grader can understand:
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?
- Paul, 2Thes. 2:1-5
So not only is the Coming of Jesus equated with our Gathering to Him (“rapture”) and the Day of the Lord, but Paul gives 2 explicit events that MUST happen FIRST. It is so plain that he says don’t you remember I told this to you already??? (ref. 1Thes. 4:13-18) The admonition is the same that Jesus gives time and again when it comes to the days of His Return: don’t be deceived by false prophets! Just like in Jeremiah’s time, the false prophets were telling the people “don’t worry, you’ll be fine, the King of Babylon is not coming, we know what God says”. Do you see the words “will not come” – not “may not” or “I’m wrong, it could happen before”? Paul just showed you it’s 3rd on the List AT BEST. If you don’t see the Antichrist sitting in the Temple and Christians falling away from Jesus in droves because of it, the Rapture CANNOT happen. The “at any moment” doctrine doesn’t just miss the mark, it contradicts what the Bible says will happen. 180 degrees in reverse, just like the false prophets of Jeremiah. Not only a false doctrine, a heretical one.
God: Can’t happen before things like Antichrist in Jerusalem and the Great Apostasy.
Imminence: Can happen today.
Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age... See to it that no one misleads you… they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another… Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place…For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short… Behold, I have told you in advance… For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be…But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
What’s that now Jesus? You say a great falling away, the Antichrist in Jerusalem, then the rapture AFTER the great Tribulation??? Just like Paul said? Nah that can’t be right, it has to be at any moment! Because my denomination says so! Because I say so!!!