I continue to be baffled at dispensational premillennialists who repeatedly speak about historic premillennialism erroneously. I want to be generous and say that it’s most likely due to a misunderstanding, but if you are going to take the time to write about something on the web, especially when the person doing the writing is some sort of scholar, doesn’t it seem like you would want to take the time to read and know what you are writing about?
The latest offender is a blogger that I recently started reading with great interest. Mike Vlach has some good things to say about the way the OT is used in the NT. But lately he has been blogging about dispensational distinctives. I have no problem with that, until he writes a post explaining the differences between Historic Premillennialism and Dispensational Premillennialism. The problem arises when several of the “differences” just do not exist. It just comes across like “you don’t want to be one of those people because they believe x y z”, when in reality those people don’t believe x or y, and their view of z must be explained.
You can read the post here, along with my unanswered comments underneath. One other poster had a few comments as well which echoed sentiments similar to mine. Two posters had questions for me which I was more than happy to answer. The comments were designed to show that the content of the post was not correct. But so far, no answer from Mike Vlach and no retraction of the post.
The three issues that he brings up are as follows. The first is the idea that the new testament writings have priority over the old testament writings. The problem is that he cites George Ladd who stands alone in this area. All other Historic Premillennialists would agree with Mike Vlach’s position. One quote from Ladd which states that “It is also possible that the Old Testament expectation of a kingdom on earth could be reinterpreted by the New Testament altogether of blessings in the spiritual realm.” Notice Ladd is not dogmatic on the point. I don’t own this particular work in which Ladd participates, so I don’t understand the overall context in which he is writing. I may wind up buying this to see if his comments are being taken out of context.
The second issue is the idea that Historical Premillennialists believe in a form of replacement theology. Vlach cites Ladd who believes that in some way the church constituted a new Israel. However, if you read Ladd’s complete position, he did not believe that the church replaced Israel. Consider this quote from The Gospel of the Kingdom which concerns Romans 11:26. ” It is quite impossible in light of the context and the course of Paul’s thought in this passage to understand “all Israel” to refer to the Church…. But secondly, there is to be a greater turning to the Lord on the part of Israel after the flesh, of such proportions that Paul can say that “all Israel,” i.e., Israel as a whole, will be saved…. When God’s purpose for the Gentiles is fulfilled, so this verse implies, Jerusalem will no longer be trodden down. There will be a restoration of Israel; “all Israel will be saved.” ” I admit that sometimes Ladd used language that could be interpreted from more than one point of view. I have seen him quoted favorably by both Dispensational PreMillennialists, A-Millennialists, and Preterists. But old school premillennialists like Nathaniel West, BW Newton, and SP Tregelles would all agree that the church is not the new Israel. They all held that Israel was Israel and the church was the church. They believed there were some parallels between the church and Israel, and there was definitely a historicist flair in many of their works, but they uniformly taught a future for the physical nation of Israel, and Ladd can easily be included here.
Thirdly, Vlach states something that is just flat-out not true. You can tell because he cites no source whatsoever to back up his claim. He states that Historic Premillennialists do not believe in a future restoration of the nation of Israel. I quoted in the comments section from Ladd himself where he states that there would be a future restoration of the nation of Israel. Older premillennialists also held out this hope. So will there be a retraction of certain aspects of Vlach’s post? I doubt it.
Some of you remember when I wrote to Dr. Gary Cohen about the misrepresentation of Historic Premillennialism in Zion’s Fire magazine. Dr. Cohen wrote me a very nice letter humbly acknowledging that he needed to study the issue better. However, did Zion’s Fire print a correction of any sort? No. I fear the same thing will happen at Mike Vlach’s blog. At least he has let my comments remain below his post thus far.
The entire progress of the dispensational position from classic dispensationalism to revised dispensationalism and now to progressive dispensationalism should demonstrate that there was a real need for dispensationalists to address the contradictions in their position. So many dispensationalists have moved significantly toward historic premillennialism. Now instead of attacking those dispensationalists (classic and revised) which they acknowledge have severe contradictions in their position, they attack historic premillennialists with whom they have so much more in common now. It’s uncanny. For a fuller explanation of why I still can’t be called a dispensationalist, feel free to mosey on over to Mike Vlach’s blog and read my comments.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman
P.S. For those who are viewing this post because you have been referred here by Mike Vlach’s blog, I have removed the erroneous portion that Vlach has pointed out to me. He quotes me correctly, but I have deleted that part because I was wrong and he is right. The works that I own by Ladd are his earliest works published in the 50’s and early 60’s. It seems that the works that Vlach is quoting from (which I do not own) were published later in the 70’s and reflected language that was closer to a Covenant Theology framework. However, the other issues still stand. I am a Historic Pre-Millennialist following the like of BW Newton, Nathaniel West, and SP Tregelles. I also agree with Ladd on numerous issues, but depart from his framework when he states that the OT could be reinterpreted by the NT and that the church is the new Israel in the sense that it replaces the old Israel.
Hi Jim. I’m not going to approve your comment. I will say that if you would like to quote BW Newton directly from a work that you have and point out where you think he is wrong, I will approve that comment. I own several works by BW Newton and have found them to be in agreement with the scriptures. George Muller and Charles Spurgeon also held Newton in high regard. There was a serious fall out and much casting of aspersions between Newton and Darby, so there is misinformation out there about what positions Newton held.
thank you for this post. I have read Mike Vlach’s post and I was confused by it as I have been studying recently, and realizing that I hold to what appears to be in concert with Historic Premillennialism. What confused me were his comments that HP doesn’t affirm a specific future for ethnic Israel, which other defenses of HP I’d read contradicted this assertion. I’m glad you cleared it up, as I’ve heard of George Eldon Ladd and was going to read his work, but now I’ll read it while bearing in mind his latter views on Israel.
All in all, I believe HP is a view that deserves much more consideration amongst believers, as an alternative to dispensationalism and amillennialism particularly.
Every blessing from the U.K.
Hey thanks for dropping by. Are you familiar with Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony based right there in England? I order a lot of material from them as they hold to Historic Premillennialism.
Hi there. I’ve just now spotted your link to the website and I’ll check that out more thoroughly, so thanks! It’s exciting to be a Christian isn’t it? 🙂 I’ll probably check your blog out from time to time, as the pre-wrath view does seem compelling. Up until now, I didn’t realize there was such a distinction between pre-wrath and post tribulation views of the rapture.
[Greets Orange. Super blog that you have. I saw this goodie on the net. Any reaction?]
Margaret Macdonald’s Rapture Chart !
“church” RAPTURE “church”
(present age) (tribulation)
In early 1830 Margaret was the very first one to see a pre-Antichrist (pretrib) rapture in the Bible – and John Walvoord and Hal Lindsey lend support for this claim!
Walvoord’s “Rapture Question” (1979) says her view resembles the “partial-rapture view” and Lindsey’s “The Rapture” (1983) admits that “she definitely teaches a partial rapture.”
But there’s more. Lindsey (p. 26) says that partial rapturists see only “spiritual” Christians in the rapture and “unspiritual” ones left behind to endure Antichrist’s trial. And Walvoord (p. 97) calls partial rapturists “pretribulationists”!
Margaret’s pretrib view was a partial rapture form of it since only those “filled with the Spirit” would be raptured before the revealing of the Antichrist. A few critics, who’ve been repeating more than researching, have noted “Church” in the tribulation section of her account. Since they haven’t known that all partial rapturists see “Church” on earth after their pretrib rapture (see above chart), they’ve wrongly assumed that Margaret was a posttrib!
In Sep. 1830 Edward Irving’s journal “The Morning Watch” (hereafter: TMW) was the first to publicly reflect her novel view when it saw spiritual “Philadelphia” raptured before “the great tribulation” and unspiritual “Laodicea” left on earth.
In Dec. 1830 John Darby (the so-called “father of dispensationalism” even though he wasn’t first on any crucial aspect of it!) was still defending the historic posttrib rapture view in the “Christian Herald.”
Pretrib didn’t spring from a “church/Israel” dichotomy, as many have assumed, but sprang from a “church/church” one, as we’ve seen, and was based only on symbols!
But innate anti-Jewishness soon appeared. (As noted, TMW in Sep. 1830 saw only less worthy church members left behind.) In Sep. 1832 TMW said that less worthy church members and “Jews” would be left behind. But by Mar. 1833 TMW was sure that only “Jews” would face the Antichrist!
As late as 1837 the non-dichotomous Darby saw the church “going in with Him to the marriage, to wit, with Jerusalem and the Jews.” And he didn’t clearly teach pretrib until 1839. His basis then was the Rev. 12:5 “man child…caught up” symbol he’d “borrowed” (without giving credit) from Irving who had been the first to use it for the same purpose in 1831!
For related articles Google “X-Raying Margaret,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “Pretrib Rapture’s Missing Lines,” “The Unoriginal John Darby,” “Deceiving and Being Deceived” by D.M., “Pretrib Rapture Pride,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” and “Scholars Weigh My Research.” The most documented and accurate book on pretrib rapture history is “The Rapture Plot” (see Armageddon Books online) – a 300-pager that has hundreds of disarming facts (like the ones above) not found in any other source.
I’ve read Dave MacPherson who gets down to these origin issues. I tend (as of now) to focus on present interpretations of scripture and dialogue based on where people are coming from now. The origin of the position doesn’t always affect where people stand presently. So, yes, I’ve heard about this stuff but I’m not really focusing on it right now.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman
Good evening sir,
You’ve done a fine job with this blog. I find many of the articles/blog posts to be very informative. Over the last few years, I’ve been undergoing a transformation within my views on eschatology. 12-16 months ago, I discovered the historic premillennial position. It’s been exciting to study and learn about this view; however, I resonate with your frustration over the way some dispensationalists misrepresent the historic premillennial view.
In fact, I’d argue that the historic premillennial view is the most maligned and misunderstood of the end times views. I’ve been reading B.W. Newton, S.P. Tregelles, Charles Spurgeon, and J.C. Ryle from the 19th Century. These men believed that ethnic Israel had a future purpose in God’s redemptive plan for human history. The same is true with Horatius Bonar and Nathaniel West. There are several good online articles through Providence Baptist Ministries (pbministries.com). Like you, I’d characterize my position as closer to those guys, too. All of these men rebuffed dispensationalism and J.N. Darby.
Finally, a few more guys who like from the historical premill camp are Jim Hamilton and Russell Moore. Throughout my study, I find the historic premill camp as a biblically sound view, and a very real alternative to dispensationalism and either amill or postmill. Those 19th Century UK theologians and pastors are excellent resources into historic premill scholarship. I also believe that dispensational premillennialism is a bad word for many Reformed scholars, pastors, and teachers. Therefore, the historic premill camp gets the short end of the stick.
Hey thanks. It’s nice to know that there are some kindred spirits out there. I agree that the Reformed crowd takes a disliking to dispensationalism and lumps all premillennialists together. I guess we just have to spread the message one post at a time.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman