Eschatology notes 6-10

Eschatology Podcast #6

[lang_en]In the previous podcast we looked at the socio-historic context and at one of the two main people that were at the roots of Dispensationalism. This session we look at the second of these, and the one responsible for the development of the ideas.

John Nelson Darby (1800-82)
John Nelson Darby (1800-82)

Although Darby did not acknowledge his sources most scholars point to Irving as a very significant influence on his developing views. Darby was a charismatic figure, a dominant personality, a persuasive speaker and had zealous missionary for his dispensationalist beliefs. He personally founded Plymouth Brethren churches as far away as Germany, Switzerland, France and the United States, and translated the entire Scriptures.

The churches Darby planted with the seeds of a separatist premillennial dispensationalism, in turn sent missionaries to Africa, the West Indies, Australia and New Zealand, so that by the time of his death in 1882, around 1500 Plymouth Brethren churches had already been founded world-wide.

His views also came to influence the Bible and Prophetic Conferences associated with Niagara and other centres in North America from 1875. The shift of interpretation that Darby brought has been noted:

Roy Coad, writing a history of the Brethren Movement, admits that

For the traditional view of the Revelation, another was substituted. (Roy Coad, A History of the Brethren Movement (Exeter, Paternoster, 1968), p. 129.)

James Barr is considerably more forthright and argues that premillennial dispensationalism was,

…individually invented by J. N. Darby… concocted in complete contradiction to all main Christian tradition… (James Barr, Escaping from Fundamentalism (London, SCM, 1984), p. 6.)

It is almost certain (and Coad claims this) that the ‘futurist view’ of the end times, so evident in Darby’s writings can be traced to the work Irving had translated: “The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty”.

Clarence Bass concludes that with respect to Darby”s views that:

Such a concept is singularly missing from historic Christian theology… Darby is pointedly correct in stating that this came to him as a new truth, since it is not to be found in theological literature prior to his proclamation of it. It is not that exegetes prior to his time did not see a covenant between God and Israel, or a future relation of Israel to the millennial reign, but they always viewed the church as the continuation of God’s single program of redemption begun in Israel. (Clarence Bass, Backgrounds to Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1986) pp. 26-27.)

It is here that we note an important point is being made:

  • Darby does not see the church as the continuation of God’s single redemptive program, rather the church becomes a parenthesis in the work of God. The purposes of God centred on Israel (past) and will again (future).

Darby began publishing his prophetic speculations in 1831. Both he and Edward Irving began to postulate two stages to Christ”s imminent return. First, there would be an invisible ‘appearing’ when Christians would meet Christ in the air and be removed from the earth, a process which came to be known as ‘the rapture of the saints’. Then with the restraining presence of the Holy Spirit removed from the world, the antichrist would arise and the seven year tribulation would begin. His rule would finally be crushed only by the public ‘appearing’ of Jesus Christ.

Darby had an increasing influence on other venues including the Powerscourt Conferences in Dublin held in the 1830”s (he was originally an ordained Anglican priest in Dublin), in New York in 1868, London in 1873, Chicago in 1875, and then culminating in the Bible Conference Movement and the Niagara Conferences of 1883 to 1897. Regular topics covered included speculations on the Second Coming.

Regarding the rapture, Darby admitted as much that his doctrine of the rapture was an innovation, the result of ‘express revelation’, indeed he seemed quite pleased with the reaction to it.

Although his influence on Brethrenism in Britain waned, Darby’s influence in North America increased and he made seven journeys there over a twenty year period. It has been estimated that he spent 40% of his time in the United States during those 20 years, and had considerable influence on leaders such as James H. Brookes, Dwight L. Moody, William Blackstone and C. I. Scofield, as well as on emerging evangelical Bible Schools and Prophecy Conferences.

George Marsden, in his history of the rise of fundamentalism between 1870 and 1930, says (and note the names he lists):

This new form of premillennial teaching, imported from England, first spread in America through prophecy conferences where the Bible was studied intently. Summer conferences, a newly popular form of vacation in the age of the trains, were particularly effective. Most importantly, Dwight L. Moody had sympathies with the broad outlines of dispensationalism and had as his closest lieutenants dispensationalist leaders such as Reuben A. Torrey (1856-1928), James M. Gray (1851-1925), C. I. Scofield (1843-1921), William J. Erdman (1833-1923), A.C. Dixon (1854-1925), and A. J. Gordon (1836-1895). These men were activist evangelists who promoted a host of Bible conferences and other missionary and evangelistic efforts. They also gave the dispensationalist movement institutional permanence by assuming leadership of the new Bible institutes such as the Moody Bible Institute (1886), the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (1907), and the Philadelphia College of the Bible (1914). The network of related institutes that soon sprang up became the nucleus for much of the important fundamentalist movement of the twentieth century. Dispensationalist leaders, in fact, actively organised this antimodernist effort. Notably, they oversaw the publication between 1910-1915 of the widely distributed twelve-volume paperback series, The Fundamentals. (George M. Marsden. Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans), 1991. p. 40.)

If it had not been for the connection with these influential leaders in North America, Dispensationalism might well have simply become a minor perspective on eschatology. And it is probably the Scofield Bible that became the singularly most powerful tool in enabling a Dispensational interpretation of Scripture to take root.

It is to the Scofield and the Scofield Bible that we turn in the next podcast, so until then…
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[lang_de]Im letzten Beitrag haben wir uns mit dem sozio-historischen Kontext und den Wurzeln des Dispensationalismus beschäftigt. Heute machen da weiter, wo wir das letzte Mal aufgehört haben, bei John Nelson Darby.

John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)
John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)

Obwohl Darby seine Quellen nicht ausdrücklich würdigte, verweisen die meisten Gelehrten auf Irving als einen sehr großen Einfluss auf die von Darby entwickelten Ansichten. Er war eine charismatische Person, eine dominante Persönlichkeit, ein überzeugender Redner und ein eifriger Missionar für seine dispensationalistischen Überzeugungen. Er gegründete persönlich Plymouth Brethren-Kirchen in Deutschland, der Schweiz, Frankreich und den Vereinigten Staaten und übersetzte die ganze Bibel.

Die von Darby mit dem Samen eines separatistischen, premillennialistischen Dispensationalismus gepflanzten Kirchen schickten wiederum Missionare nach Afrika, in die Karibik, nach Australien und Neuseeland. Zum Zeitpunkt seines Todes im Jahr 1882 waren so bereits um die 1500 Plymouth Brethren-Kirchen weltweit gegründet worden. Ab 1875 begannen seine Ansichten auch auf die Bibel- und Prophetie-Konferenzen, verbunden mit Niagara und anderen Zentren in Nordamerika, Einfluss zu nehmen. Die Verschiebung der Interpretation, die Darby bewirkte, blieb nicht unbemerkt: Roy Coad räumt beim Schreiben seiner Geschichte der Brüder-Bewegung ein,

dass die traditionelle Sichtweise der Offenbarung durch eine andere ersetzt wurde. ( Vgl. Roy Coad, A History of the Brethren Movement, (Exeter, Paternoster, 1968), S. 129).

James Barr ist viel direkter, nach seiner Argumentation wurde der premillennialistische Dispensationalismus,

…von J.N. Darby persönlich erfunden… zusammengebraut in völligem Widerspruch zu allen wichtigen christlichen Traditionen… (Vgl. James Barr, Escaping from Fundamentalism, (London, SCM, 1984),S. 6).

Es ist fast sicher (was Coad auch behauptet), dass die „futuristische Sicht“
der Endzeit, welche so offensichtlich in Darbys Schriften vorkommt, auf das von Irving übersetzte Buch: “Das Kommen des Messias in Herrlichkeit und Majestät“ zurückgeführt werden kann. Clarence Bass kommt bezüglich Darbys Ansichten zu dem Schluss dass:

Such a concept is singularly missing from historic Christian theology… Darby is pointedly correct in stating that this came to him as a new truth, since it is not to be found in theological literature prior to his proclamation of it. It is not that exegetes prior to his time did not see a covenant between God and Israel, or a future relation of Israel to the millennial reign, but they always viewed the church as the continuation of God’s single program of redemption begun in Israel. (Clarence Bass, Backgrounds to Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1986) pp. 26-27.)

Wir stellen fest, dass hier ein wichtiger Argument gebracht wird:

  • Darby sieht die Kirche nicht als die Fortsetzung von Gottes einzigem Erlösungs-Plan, vielmehr wird die Kirche zu einem Einschub im Werk Gottes. Das Vorhaben Gottes war (in der Vergangenheit) auf Israel zentriert und wird dies auch (in Zukunft) wieder sein.

Darby begann 1831 mit der Veröffentlichung seiner prophetischen Spekulationen. Sowohl er als auch Edward Irving begannen von, zwei Stufen der bevorstehenden Rückkehr Christi auszugehen. Zuerst würde es ein unsichtbares „Erscheinen“ Christi geben, bei dem die Christen ihn in der Luft treffen würden, um von der Erde genommen zu werden; was später als die Entrückung der Heiligen bekannt wurde. Danach würde die Gegenwart des Heiligen Geistes vorübergehend von dieser Welt genommen, der Antichrist auftreten und eine sieben jährige Trübsal beginnen. Seine Herrschaft würde schließlich erst durch das (zweite) öffentliche Erscheinen Jesu zerschlagen werden.
Darby hatte zunehmenden Einfluss auf andere Veranstaltungsorte, einschließlich der Powerscourt-Konferenzen in Dublin in den 1830ern (er war ursprünglich ein ordinierter Priester der Anglikanischen Kirche in Dublin), sowie in New York 1868, in London 1873 und Chicago 1875. Seinen Höhepunkt erreichte dies während der Bibel Konferenz-Bewegung und der Niagara-Konferenzen von 1883 bis 1897. Regelmäßige behandelte Themen waren dort unter anderem Spekulationen über die Parusie, (the second coming).

Im Bezug auf die Entrückung, gab Darby nur viel zu, dass seine Lehre davon eine Innovation, das Ergebnis “ausdrücklicher Offenbarung” sei; tatsächlich schien er mit der Reaktion darauf sehr zufrieden zu sein.
Obwohl sein Einfluss auf die Brüderbewegung in England schwand, erhöhte sich Darbys Einfluss in Nordamerika. Er reiste in einem Zeitraum von zwanzig Jahren siebenmal dorthin. Es wurde geschätzt, dass er in diesen zwanzig Jahren 40% seiner Zeit in der Vereinigten Staaten verbrachte und erheblichen Einfluss auf Leiter wie James H. Brookes, Dwight L. Moody, William Blackstone und C. I. Scofield hatte, ebenso wie auf die aufkommenden evangelikalen Bibelschulen und Prophetie-Konferenzen.

George Marsden schreibt in seiner Geschichte vom Aufstieg des Fundamentalismus zwischen 1870 und 1930 (man beachtet die Namen, die er aufzählt):

This new form of premillennial teaching, imported from England, first spread in America through prophecy conferences where the Bible was studied intently. Summer conferences, a newly popular form of vacation in the age of the trains, were particularly effective. Most importantly, Dwight L. Moody had sympathies with the broad outlines of dispensationalism and had as his closest lieutenants dispensationalist leaders such as Reuben A. Torrey (1856-1928), James M. Gray (1851-1925), C. I. Scofield (1843-1921), William J. Erdman (1833-1923), A.C. Dixon (1854-1925), and A. J. Gordon (1836-1895). These men were activist evangelists who promoted a host of Bible conferences and other missionary and evangelistic efforts. They also gave the dispensationalist movement institutional permanence by assuming leadership of the new Bible institutes such as the Moody Bible Institute (1886), the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (1907), and the Philadelphia College of the Bible (1914). The network of related institutes that soon sprang up became the nucleus for much of the important fundamentalist movement of the twentieth century. Dispensationalist leaders, in fact, actively organised this antimodernist effort. Notably, they oversaw the publication between 1910-1915 of the widely distributed twelve-volume paperback series, The Fundamentals. (George M. Marsden. Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans), 1991. p. 40.)

Ohne die Verbindung mit diesen einflussreichen Leitern in Nordamerika wäre der Dispensationalismus wahrscheinlich nur eine unbedeutende Perspektive auf die Eschatologie geblieben. Und es war wahrscheinlich die Scofield Bibel, die zum mächtigsten Werkzeug dabei wurde, dass sich eine dispensationalistische Bibelauslegung ausbreiten konnte.

C. I. Scofield und seiner Scofield Bibel werden wir uns im nächsten Podcast zuwenden, bis dahin…

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