Pre-millennial Movement Rolls on ---

Robert C. Welch
Louisville, Kentucky

Pre-millennial churches of Christ continue to propagate the theory with less and less opposition as the years go by. Almost all of the old, original leadership has now gone. Two front-runners, E. L. Jorgenson and J. R. Clark, have fallen in recent months. This has left the driving force to new and younger blood. They are veering more and more into the movement of permissiveness of Ketcherside, bringing them into a kind of fellowship to relieve the long pent up feeling of loneliness under which they labored and sighed for half a century. All of these circumstances have given them a boldness to speak out in a fashion to which they have not been accustomed for many, many years.

Only a few years ago they were not describing the congregations as pre-millennial; but were speaking of themselves as "free churches of Christ," explaining that this meant freedom to teach all of the Bible, especially the prophetic utterances. In the meantime they moved the educational work above high school from Portland church in Louisville to Winchester, Kentucky and named the new school "Southeastern Christian College." Their new boldness to declare their fundamental purpose of propagating pre-millennialism is described in the February, 1969 news bulletin from that school:

"In view of the pre-millennial position of the Churches of Christ supporting Southeastern Christian College, and of the emphasis that this position places upon God's future plan for Israel, both as a restored nation and a people restored to God, it seems to be to our shame that we have shown so little interest in, or have done so little to promote, Jewish evangelism."

They make no effort to hide or minimize the fact that churches support the school. They were way ahead of the liberal brethren in giving denominational organization to the churches. For years they operated and supported a one man missionary society. Have the brethren forgotten Don Carlos Janes? For about the same number of years they have had a sponsoring church arrangement for educating their youth. Portland church sponsored the school, and others contributed to it or to their work. Now they also have gone on to a separate institution supported by the churches. The only difference between them and the Christian church are instrumental music and pre-millennialism. The two are merely reversed as to which to reject and which to accept.

The above quotation from them shows that they do not and cannot separate Judaism from their pre-millennial theory. They cannot or will not understand that the Israel of God are new creatures in Christ Jesus (Gal. 6:15, 16; 2 Cor. 5:16, 17). They refuse, actually if not nominally, to accept the fact that in Christ Jesus there is no longer Jew and Greek (Gal. 3:28). Like the poor blind guides among the Jews of our Lord's presence upon the earth, they are looking for that fleshly kingdom in Palestine with the capital in Jerusalem, and it to be a world empire such as Rome of that day. In their minds the Jews are still God's people just as in the days of David, the Babylonian captivity, and the Maccabees. To them, being a Christian is nothing compared to the glory that will belong to a Jew in that millennium in Jerusalem. And, according to the theory, they will have rebuilt the old temple and revived the Mosaic worship with the restored Jewish nation and the Jews restored to God.

The utter lack of correlation of Biblical history and prophecy is outstanding in their teachings. The statements made by prophets of the Old Testament concerning Israel's being returned to their land are taken completely out of their historical setting and removed from any pertinent significance -to the captive Jews to whom the prophecies were directly spoken and made to apply to a time yet future, or perhaps right now. Notice this attempt at sensationalism from the bulletin mentioned earlier:

"The events of the six day war of June, 1967, and those subsequent, setting the stage for the fulfillment of the 36th through 39th chapters of Ezekiel, have brought God's plans for his people out of the realm of theory into the realm of reality."

Ezekiel was one of the captive Jews who wrote his book while in the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. He lived and wrote before that return which began in 536 B.C and before the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were written, which books describe the return. In the chapters cited in the article, Ezekiel tells why the people were taken into captivity (Ezek. 36:16-21). In chapter 37, he described the anguish and desperation and sense of utter desolation of the people in the throes of slavery. Then he promised that God had not forgotten them, but according to promise he would give them relief and return them to their land. He promised that they would not be a divided kingdom following their return. They had divided in their rebellion against God and one another after the death of Solomon.

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah describe the return into the land from which they were taken captive. According to the decree of the Persian ruler all who called upon Jehovah could return. Nehemiah shows that the return was according to God's promise made through Moses and Joshua. It was the return for which Ezekiel and all the other captives had been sighing. Following that return they were united in one civic body until the time of our Lord upon the earth. They may have had their religious and political parties, but were not divided into two nations again.

The prophecy by Ezekiel of a return to the land of Palestine was fulfilled hundreds of years before Jesus Christ came to earth and gave us the New Testament. In dying on the cross he broke down the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:11-22). There is no longer a fleshly Jew or a Gentile in God's scheme of redemption provided in the New Testament. There is not an iota of scriptural prophecy concerning this nation now formed in Palestine; not even a hint that Jews would form such a nation, be in the land, or turn to God as a race. All attempts at making it appear to be fulfillment of God's special prophecy is but silly sensationalism. You will find as many brands of such theories as you will find religious sensationalists, and one brand will be just as implausible as the other.

The statements given in this article from them are sufficient to show that the theory of pre-millennialism with all of its Judaistic ramifications relegates the gospel and this dispensation and the church to a place of relative unimportance and insignificance in view of the Jewish millennium which they are expecting. But the Lord says; "Unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen" (Eph. 3:21).

July 1969