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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    CHAPTER FIFTY-FIVE: British Exposition Parallels American Interpretation

    I. Second American Conference Aggressively Premillennial

    The sessions of the second American Bible and Prophetic Conference, held in Farwell Hall, Chicago, November 16-21, 1886, were first reported daily in full in the Chicago Inter Ocean. 1The editorial commendation by this newspaper of the objectives of the conference, its emphasis on the high caliber of the speakers, the space devoted to complete reports—three or four full pages daily—and then free advertising at the head of the editorial column of the report in book form running for seven days in succession, are all highly impressive. (Interior of Farwell Hall, pictured on p. 1176.) The names of twenty-one religious leaders appeared on the authorizing call, and thirty-five addresses were given. Here “students of prophecy” presented the “weighty matters found in the Written Word concerning the ‘last times’ and the ‘last things.’” GEORGE C. NEEDHAM, 2GEORGE C. NEEDHAM (1840-1902), born in Ireland, was soundly converted at eighteen, and soon entered upon an evangelistic ministry. He was influenced by Spurgeon and attended his college. But it was Dr. H. Grattan Guinness who kindled the flame of the second advent hope in his heart and awakened his interest in prophecy. In 1866 he and Guinness (noted in Section IV) made an evangelistic tour of Ireland with pronounced success. Then in 1867, Needham and Henry Moorehouse came to America with letters of introduction from Spurgeon explain themselves. ‘He followed Moody to Chicago, and was one of a group of key men trained for important service, being pastor of the Moody Church from 1879 to 1881. Indefatigable, Needham commonly preached every night, gave a Bible study every afternoon, and often had a prayer meeting in the morning. Though pre-eminently an evangelist, one of his pronounced gifts was the organizing and promoting of Christian conventions. The most noted was this Chicago Prophetic Conference of. He constantly promoted Bible study through Bible schools, and was author of a dozen books, including exposition of prophecy and the second advent. Titles include Preach the Word (1892), Plan of the Ages (1883), on prophecy, and Shadow and Substance (1896), on the tabernacle types. of Manchester, Massachusetts, was the dynamic secretary and organizer, with a 216-page report, Prophetic Studies made up from the stereotype plates of the Inter Ocean reports. 3Thirty-seven books on premillennialism and prophecy were advertised, along with two periodicals on similar themes-The Faithful Witness and The Christian Herald and Signs of Our Times.PFF4 1186.1

    (Left)Dr. A. J. Gorden, Baptist of Boston Mass, (second) Bishop W. R. Nicholson, reformed Episcopal of Philadelphia.(Fourth) Dr. J. D. Kerr, Baptist, of Milwaukee, Wis.; (Fifth) Dr. E. P. Goodwin, Cogregregationalist, of Chicago, III. (Centre) George C. Needham Dynamic Organizer of the 1886 Conference, and similer gatherings. all participants were highly trained and ardent premillennialists
    Page 1187
    PFF4 1187

    Several speakers-including A. J. Gordon, Nathaniel West, and John T. Duffield, already noted-had been participants in the first conference. But the majority comprised vibrant new voices. Premillennialism was the dominant note of most of the addresses. Here are some of the leading topics and speakers:PFF4 1187.1

    “Return of the Lord Personal and Literal,” Dr. E. P. Goodwin (Congregationalist), Chicago; “Christ’s Second Coming Premillennial,” Prof. E. T. Stroeter (Methodist), Wesleyan University; “Premillennial Motives to World-wide Evangelism,” Dr. A. T. Pierson (Presbyterian); “Christ’s Predictions and Their Interpretation,” Prof. Henry Lummis, Lawrence University; “Times of the Gentiles,” Dr. George S. Bishop (Dutch Reformed), Orange, New Jersey; “Fullness of the Gentiles,” Rev. W. J. Erdman (Congregationalist), Boston; “Modern Delusions,” Dr. A. J. Gordon (Baptist), Boston; “Eschatology as Taught by Christ,” Prof. D. C. Marquis, McCormick Seminary.PFF4 1187.2

    Continuing, other topics were: “Antichrist,” Prof. W. G. Moorehead (United Presbyterian), Xenia Theological Seminary; “Importance of Prophetic Study,” Dr. J. D. Herr (Baptist), Milwaukee; “Messiah’s Kingly Glory,” Bishop W. R. Nicholson (Reformed Episcopal), Philadelphia; and “Condition of Church and World at Christ’s Coming,” Dr. A. J. Frost (Baptist), Sacramento, California. Letters of approval and support were read from Dwight I... Moody, Andrew Bonar of Scotland, and Canon Faucett of England, as well as from Continental scholars like Godet, Koch, Volck, and Delitzsch.PFF4 1187.3


    In the initial address Dr. E. P. GOODWIN 4EDWARD PAYSON GOODWIN, A.D. (1832-1901), Congregationalist, was a graduate of Amherst. After ministering in Columbus he served as pastor of the First Congregationalist Church of Chicago for thirty-five years. charged that-PFF4 1188.1

    “in this day of so-called advanced thought and new departures men set to be teachers of the Lord’s people in pulpits and editorial chairs, and some who are charged with training those who are to expound this word of God, have abandoned the faith of the fathers.” 5E. P. Goodwin, “The Return of the Lord,” Prophetic Studies of the International Prophetic Conference, p. 7.PFF4 1188.2

    He held that the literality of the “first set of prophecies,” concerning the first advent of Christ-His birth, mother, name, character, life and sufferings, death and resurrection-must likewise apply to the second advent, which will be just as “literal, personal, visible.”PFF4 1188.3


    Editor of Messiah’s Herald, J. M. Orrock, of Boston, answering objections to premillennialism, declared:PFF4 1188.4

    “We still stand, as we have stood for more than thirteen hundred years, in Rome divided, awaiting the action of the mystic stone [of Daniel 2] by which all world-powers will be overthrown and destroyed and the kingdom of our God established.” 6J. M. Orrock, “Objections ... Considered,” Prophetic Studies, p. 43. Prof. HENRY LUMMIS 7HENRY LUMMIS, M.A., D.D. (1825-1905), graduated from Wesleyan University, engaging in educational work till 1870, pastoral work until 1886, was thenceforth with Lawrence University. He was an outstanding teacher, with a rugged personality, and was a specialist in Greek. of Lawrence University, Wisconsin, declaring that prophecy is “to be taken in its literal meaning,” held-PFF4 1188.5

    “The figurative word is no bar to the actual sense, if the reader or the interpreter understands the figure When a metaphor, a metonomy, or a simile is recognized, and its meaning is clearly brought out in exegesis, the interpretation gives the thought just as well as if no figurative word had been used.” 8Henry Lummis, “Christ’s Predictions.” Prophetic Studies, p. 48. DR. GEORGE SAYLES BISHOP,” 9GEORGE SAYLES BISHOP, A.D. (1836-1914), graduate of Amherst (1858) and Princeton (1864), and for thirty years pastor of the First Dutch Reformed Church of Orange, New Jersey, was a delegate to five recognized church councils in Europe, and was president of the General Synod in 1899-1900. He authored a dozen books, including The Atonement (1881), The Sweep of Time [1909), and The Doctrine of Grace (1910). for a time president of the Dutch Reformed General Assembly, shaking on the “Times of the Gentiles,” declared the successive parts of the great metallic colossus of Daniel 2 and the paralleling symbolic beasts of Daniel 7 were the four world powers of Babylonia, Persia, Grecia, and Rome, with the divisions of the Roman fourth constituting the “ten kingdoms of our modern Europe.” The social fabric and laws of the present world are Roman, with its characteristic hardness and severity, but its iron is more perishable and more easily rusted and corroded than the antecedent brass, silver, and gold.PFF4 1189.1

    The image presents man’s view of history, while the beasts of Daniel portray God’s view. There is progressive deterioration in metallic values, and the world is hastening on to judgment. Antichrist, as the Little Horn, includes the Papacy, but Bishop maintains it is to have a final development and climax. And the smiting of the mystic stone-Christ at His second coming-will effect the destruction of Antichrist and the close of the times of the Gentiles.PFF4 1189.2


    Dr. ADONIRAM J. GORDON” 10ADONIRAM JUDSON GORDON, A.D. (1836-95), began at sixteen to plan on the ministry. He graduated from Brown University in 1860 and Newton Theological Seminary in 1863. For six years he served as pastor of the Jamaica Plain Baptist Church, and in 1869 began a_ remarkable pastorale at Clarendon Street Church in Boston. Many revivals marked his ministry. He was associated with Moody in the famous revival of 1877, when inquirers’ meetings were started, and with the Northfield Conferences. He established the Boston Missionary Training School for home and foreign missionaries, and edited the Watchword, a journal of Biblical exposition. He was author of numerous works, including In Christ (1872), Grace to Glory (1880), Ministry of Healing (1882), opposing the claims of Christian Science, The Two-fold Life (1884), Ecce Vtnit (1892). on the second advent, and Ministry of the Spirit (1894). Gordon held to the utter inability of the race to attain social redemption, and believed the present evil age would be brought to end through the second advent. Despair was thus transmuted into hope, and pessimism into optimism. The escape is from above, he held. The Christian is to be redeemed at the second advent, which provides the urgency of missions. Gordon identified the Papacy as the Antichrist, to be destroyed by the brightness of Christ’s coming. Baptist of Boston, speaking on modern delusions, dealt with Spiritualism as proceeding from the pit, ritualism as proceeding from the Papacy, and theosophy as proceeding from paganism-and with the latter-day repetition of the days of Noah. After discussing Antichrist—as the papal system not an individual, but enthroned in the church—Gordon cites the diverting attempts of Cardinals Newman and Manning, 11On Newman and Manning, see Prophetic Faith, Vol. III, pp. 667, 736, 737. and comments:PFF4 1189.3

    “I need not remind you that one of the first tasks which the ritualistic leaders fifty years ago felt called upon to undertake was that of getting rid of the Protestant interpretation of Antichrist as the Pope of Rome. How desperately they wrought at this task will be apparent to those who read Newman’s essay on ‘The Man of Sin,’ and observed especially his earnest wrestling with the ominous saying of Gregory the Great, that ‘Whosoever adopts or desires the title of universal bishop is the forerunner of Antichrist.’ 12A. J. Gordon, “Spiritualism, Ritualism, Theosophy Prophetic Studies, pp. 70, 71. accompany-(page 76).”A. J. Gordon, “Spiritualism, Ritualism, Theosophy, Prophetic Studies, He holds to the year-day principle for the 3% times, as with the 70 weeks, thus the “accompanying time,” for the 1260 years, ‘should also be in miniature,”-that is, days for years Unreservedly commending the published expositions of Dr. H. Grattan Guinness, of Great Britain, 13Noted on p. 1194. as the “profoundest discussion of this question that has appeared in fifty years,” Gordon closed with this remarkable affirmation:PFF4 1190.1

    “History is shown to answer to prophecy like deep calling unto deep; there the mysterious chronology written ages ago by God is verified point by point by the terminal periods which are running out under our own eyes. Such correspondencies can not be accidental; such clear pointings to the man of sin as a story of his predicted age as 1,260 years gives can not be fortuitous. One of the ablest prophetic scholars of the Futurist school in this country declares that he knows not how the conclusions of these [Guinness’] volumes can be gainsaid.PFF4 1190.2

    “I humbly concur in that opinion. Nay, I speak rather of The Book than of any human books and avow my conviction that the papal ‘Man of Sin’ was accurately photographed on the camera of prophecy thousands of years ago; that no detective searching for him to-day would need any other description of him than that which is found on the pages of the Bible. Taking these photographs of Daniel and John and Paul, and searching the world upside down for their originals, I am confident that this same detective would stop at the Vatican, and after gazing for a few moments at the Pontiff, who sits there gnawing the bone of infallibility, which he acquired in 1870, and clutching for that other bone of temporal sovereignty which he lost the very same year, he would lay his hand on him and say: ‘You are wanted in the court of the Most High to answer to the indictment of certain souls beneath the altar “who were slain for the word of God and for the testimony—which they bore,” and who are crying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell upon the earth?” ‘PFF4 1190.3

    “My brethren, let us search the Scriptures anew and let us be sure that they do not require it of us before we silence our testimony against the Man of Rome as Antichrist.” 14Ibid., p. 71.PFF4 1191.1


    PROF. WILLIAM G. MOOREHEAD,” 15WILLIAM G. MOOREHEAD A. D., LL. D., (1836-1914), graudate Muskingum College and Allography seminary in 1875 became professor of New Testament exegesis and them president of the United Presbyterian Theological seminary, xenia, Ohio. He was author of numerous expositions including in highly significant Studies in the Mosaic Institutions (1896). These were designed to show the presistent current attacks or Mosaic authorship of the pentatuch, and were designed to show the “prophetic element “of these types of gospel realities, constituting predictions and fulfillments. Believing that God “knows the future no less certainly than the past, “the Christian can “remain steadfast and immovable in the presence of skeptical assault on the books Moses” (p. iv). discussing the identity of the three depictions of Antichrist, by Daniel, Paul, and John, stated that the name indicates a vice Christ, a rival Christ, and a false christ, as well as an antagonistic, persecuting power. And, after presenting the moral features and the “time-note as identical, he concluded:PFF4 1191.2

    “The prevailing Protestant interpretation is that the beast, the lawless one, is popery, gathered up into the person of the Pope; or that papal hierarchy, the head of which is the papal chair. This was the opinion of the reformers almost without exception. It was held by some even in pre-reformation times. And there is no little verisimilitude in the view. The marks of correspondence between the prophecies and the papacy are extraordinary, almost conclusive. In its marvelous origin and history; in its near relation to the old Roman Empire as its heir and successor; in its wide departure from the truth; in its idolatry, persecuting spirit, daring assumptions, and blasphemous pretensions, Romanism, it must be confessed, strikingly resembles the anti Christ.” 16W. G. Moorehead, “The Antichrist,” Prophetic Studies, p. 101.PFF4 1191.3

    But he held that there is a final fuller development in store, observing that “all evangelical interpreters hold that Babylon the Great is Romanism, the apostate church; and yet hateful as Babylon is, she contains to the close some genuine believers.” But Babylon, he held, and the beast that upbears her, are two different things, and added, “It the harlot be Romanism, then the beast is not.” 17Ibid., p. 102. He then indicated that, in his final ultimate form, this supernatural Antichrist may be none other than Satan. 18Ibid., pp. 104, 105.PFF4 1191.4

    And Dr. ADONIRAM J. FROST,” 19Pastor of First Baptist Church, Sacramento, I’rorn 1880-87. California Baptist, discussing whether the world and the church would grow better or worse as we approach the advent, declared, “Premillennialists maintain that the church and the world are destined to grow morally worse until the end of the age,” adding, “this dispensation will end in diabolical wickedness and well-nigh universal apostasy amid the crash of Apocalyptic thunder and the unparalleled judgments of God.” 20A. J. Frost, “Condition of the Church and World at Christ’s Second Advent,” Prophetic Studies, p. 166.PFF4 1192.1

    In support he summoned the eschatological parables and eschatological prophecies, and specified the seven churches of the Apocalypse. In these expositions he said these seven churches “represent seven successive pages of church history, and that the Laodicean Church accurately portrays the condition of nominal Christendom at the end of this dispensation.” 21Ibid., p. 169. Secretary Needham summed up the conference as designed “to give prominence to neglected truth,” to “emphasize the true principles of Scripture interpretation,” “the awaking of Christians from slumber,” to present “the most majestic of all motives for world-wide evangelism,” “as a bulwark against the skepticism of modern theology,” and to be “brought into nearer fellowship one with another.” 22Reasons for Holding the Bible and Prophetic Confidence,” Prophetic Studies, pp. 215, 216.PFF4 1192.2

    Needham’s own exposition appears in his Plan of the Ages, with the four-part colossus of Daniel 2 and the beasts of Daniel 7 symbolizing Babylonian supremacy, Medo-Persian power, Grecian ascendancy, and then Roman dominance. The smiting of the image by the mystic stone could not have taken place at the first advent, he held, because Rome’s division had not yet occurred. Then he added, “When every form of government symbolized in the Colossus shall have been tested and proved unstable, then Christ descends with power and great glory to uproot the kingdoms of men and to overthrow the governments of earth.” 23George C. Needham, Plan of the Ages, p. 19. “/fcirf.f The mystic stone will then fill the whole earth. Needham’s fivefold conclusion was:PFF4 1192.3

    “1. The Stone has not yet fallen. 2. The Stone falls in judgment for destruction, not in grace for conversion. 3. The Stone does not absorb the Image into itself, but drives it away. 4. The kingdoms of men, and the Kingdom of God in its complete form, cannot co-exist. 5. The Stone may even now be ready for its crushing descent upon governments autocratic, despotic, monarchic, democratic and satanic.” 24Ibid., p. 20. The present age, or Christian dispensation, he held, is the age of the church and of evangelism. It is a mixed age-the wheat and tares side by side. It began with the rejection of Christ, and will end with the final reception of Antichrist. It began when Christ ascended; it will end when He descends again to earth. It began with the coming of the Holy Spirit; it will close with the outpouring of judgments on the wicked. And after the millennial age, will close with the execution of the final judgments. Then will follow a renewed earth, and a holy sinless race with no more defilement, Paradise restored, Satan conquered—“a sinless Kingdom, without rebels or apostates.” 25Ibid., p. 30.PFF4 1193.1

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