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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My rejoinder to Jason Engwer of Triablogue

This is my rejoinder to Jason Engwer of Triablogue

Jason said:
"Jnorm888, an Eastern Orthodox poster, has
been making some dubious, undocumented claims about the history of

These are my personal oppinions. Not the view of the Church. And just because I refused to dig in my books and type for you my sources at your command, doesn't mean I never post my sources. I often do.

Jason said:
"He's argued that the apostles taught
contradictory views of eschatology, that premillennialism came from John,
whereas men like Paul and Mark taught a different eschatology."

This is your spin, to what I said. My view is that early christians from different regions didn't always have a 100% uniform "interpretation" of eschatology.

Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan seems to say something similar:

"If the teachings of the early church and of Jesus could simply be described as consistent eschatology, we could then trace the decline of such an eschatology as the primary factor in the establishment both of ecclesiastical structures and of dogmatic norms. Neither primative Christianity nor the church catholic was consitent in so single-minded a way, as each new bit of evidence or new study of old evidence makes clear. But once the dialectic of already/not yet is permitted to emerge from the texts, the magnitude of the change may become visible. It was nothing less than the decisive shift from the categories of cosmic drama to those of being, from the Revelation of St. John the Divine to the creed of the Council of Nicea."[1]

Jason said:
"He's claimed that the canonicity of
Revelation was rejected by most Christians for a while."

What's wrong with this claim? The Assyrian Church of the East(what some have traditionaly called Nestorian) still doesn't have it in their canon. They only have 22 books in their New Testament. They don't include 2nd Peter, 2nd John, 3rd John, Jude, & Revelation.

I could be wrong, but I think they broke away around the time of the 3rd Ecumenical Council. So they were in communion until about 431 A.D.

You can always go to one of their websites to look at the number of their new testament books.

Jason said:
"And he's claimed that a sixth-century
ecumenical council condemned premillennialism."

I was wrong about the 6th century. It was in the 4th.
The second Ecumenical council of 381 A.D. note 41, says:

note 41

""[41] Led astray by the words in ch. 20 of the Book of Revelation (v. 3 to 7), where it says that Satan was shut up and bound for a thousand years, and that the righteous who participated in the first resurrection reigned together with Christ as kings for a thousand years, many men have imagined that after the second advent and common judgment take place, the righteous are to reign here on the earth as kings for a thousand years together with Christ, and thereafter to ascend to heaven; and on this account they have been called millenarians or millennialists. There have been two battalions of millenarians. For some of them used to say that during those thousand years they are to enjoy every enjoyment, and bodily pleasure; these men were followers of Cerinthus, a pupil of Simon, in the first century, and the Marcionists in the second century of the Christian era. Others said that they were not to enjoy passionate pleasures, but rather intellectual pleasures befitting rational human beings, of whom the leader was Papias the bishop of Hierapolis (in Euseb. Eccl. Hist, book 3, ch. 34) and others. Hence it is evident that Apollinaris became such a millenarian of the first battalion, as is plain from what St. Basil the Great says (letter 332), and from what the Theologian says (Discourse 51), and from what Jerome says (Book 18 on Isaiah). On this account in refutation of this heresy this Council added to the Creed of the Nicene Council that statement, which it borrowed from the sentence which the Archangel Gabriel spoke to the Virgin, viz.: “and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33). As for the thousand years referred to by St. John, they are not to come to pass after the second advent of Christ; and the kingdom of the Lord is not describable in terms of years, nor food and drink, as St. Paul said (Rom. 14:17): but, on the contrary, a thousand years are to be understood, according to those versed in theology, to mean the interval of time extending from the first advent of Christ to the second, during which Satan was bound, according to the words of the Lord, saying, “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). The first resurrection, by contrast, took place for justification of souls through mortification of infidelity and wickedness, concerning which Christ said “He that heareth my words, and believeth in him who sent me, hath life everlasting, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life” (John 5:24); and the Apostle said “If then ye be risen with Christ . . . set your mind on the things that are above” (Col. 3:1-2). And thereafter in this interval of time the reign of the righteous with Christ took place, being their union with Him through (i.e., by means of) the Holy Spirit, and the contemplation and enjoyment of His divine illumination, respecting which the Lord said, “Some of them that stand here shall not taste of death till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1)."

Jason said:
"Premillennialists like Justin Martyr and
Irenaeus lived in multiple locations, so how does Jnorm know where they acquired
their premillennialism, and how does he know that such men had the role he
claims they had in spreading premillennialism?"

I don't know with 100% certainty that Saint Justin Martry got it in Ashia minor. It is true, that he did live in alot of places. It is my speculation that he picked it up while living in the East. For that is where the view most likely came from.

On the otherhand, it is said that Saint Irenaeus was a disciple of Saint Polycarp, who was a disciple of Saint John. And it is also said that Saint Papias was friends with Saint John. Saint Papias is mostly the one that people point the finger at. So I am pointing the finger at him too.

So Saint Irenaeus seems to have come from that line of Tradition. He was a Native of Ashia Minor

"Very little is known of his personal history except that he was a native of Asia Minor;" [2]

And in regards to the role they played in spreading the view. The view was in their writtings, and other people during their time as well as after their time, read their works.

Jason said:
"Here are some examples of ante-Nicene
sources who advocated premillennialism while living outside of Asia Minor:

Pseudo-Barnabas (The Epistle Of Barnabas, 15)
Justin Martyr
(Dialogue With Trypho, 80)
Irenaeus (Against Heresies, 5:28:3, 5:33:2-4)
Tertullian (Against Marcion, 3:24)
Hippolytus (On Daniel, 2:4)
Cyprian (section 2 in the preface and chapter 11 in Treatise 11, On the
Exhortation to Martyrdom)
Nepos (Eusebius, Church History, 7:24)
Commodianus (Writings, 44)
Victorinus (On The Creation Of The World)
Lactantius (The Divine Institutes, 7:14"

I don't think you can put "The Epistle Of Barnabas" 100%ly in the pre-mill camp. He talks about 6 days equaling six thousand years, but just like in the book of Genesis, the 7nth day doesn't have a "time limit" on it.

He doesn't say that the 7nth day will last for a thousand years. Nor does he say that for the 8th day.

As seen in chapter 15:
as seen here

"Barnabas 15:1
Moreover concerning the Sabbath likewise it is written in the Ten
Words, in which He spake to Moses face to face on Mount Sinai; And
ye shall hallow the Sabbath of the Lord with pure hands and with a
pure heart.

Barnabas 15:2
And in another place He saith; If my sons observe the Sabbath then
I will bestow My mercy upon them.

Barnabas 15:3
Of the Sabbath He speaketh in the beginning of the creation; And
God made the works of His hands in six days, and He ended on the
seventh day, and rested on it, and He hallowed it.

Barnabas 15:4
Give heed, children, what this meaneth; He ended in six days. He
meaneth this, that in six thousand years the Lord shall bring all
things to an end; for the day with Him signifyeth a thousand years;
and this He himself beareth me witness, saying; Behold, the day of
the Lord shall be as a thousand years. Therefore, children, in six
days, that is in six thousand years, everything shall come to an end.

Barnabas 15:5
And He rested on the seventh day. this He meaneth; when His Son
shall come, and shall abolish the time of the Lawless One, and shall
judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun and the moon and the
stars, then shall he truly rest on the seventh day.

Barnabas 15:6
Yea and furthermore He saith; Thou shalt hallow it with pure hands
and with a pure heart. If therefore a man is able now to hallow
the day which God hallowed, though he be pure in heart, we have gone
utterly astray.

Barnabas 15:7
But if after all then and not till then shall we truly rest and
hallow it, when we shall ourselves be able to do so after being
justified and receiving the promise, when iniquity is no more and all
things have been made new by the Lord, we shall be able to hallow it
then, because we ourselves shall have been hallowed first.

Barnabas 15:8
Finally He saith to them; Your new moons and your Sabbaths I cannot
away with. Ye see what is His meaning ; it is not your present
Sabbaths that are acceptable [unto Me], but the Sabbath which I have
made, in the which, when I have set all things at rest, I will make
the beginning of the eighth day which is the beginning of another

Barnabas 15:9
Wherefore also we keep the eighth day for rejoicing, in the which
also Jesus rose from the dead, and having been manifested ascended
into the heavens."

This is why I didn't mention him.

And as far as where he was from....well that's mostly speculation.

As seen from the intro to the Epistle of Barnabas edited by Michael W. Holmes,

He says on page 373:

"A lack of information renders difficult any determination regarding location. Nevertheless, Barnabas is widely thought to have originated in Alexandria in view of its numerous affinities to have originated in Alexandria in view of its numerous affinities in hermeneutical approach and style with Alexandria Judaism and Christianity and because its earliest witness is Clement of Alexandria (who accorded it the same authority as the Catholic Epistles). It appears to have been written after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in AD 70 (16.3-5) but before the city was rebuilt by Hadrian following the revolt of AD 132-135. Within these limits it is difficult to be any more precise."[7]

We really don't know where he was from, but the majority view is Alexandria, but like I said before. You can't really put him in the chilism camp. And that is why I never included him.

Also in regards to the Apostolic church Father 1st Clement. He seems to have an "amill" view When he asserts that Christ reigns right now over his enemies. He doesn't assert a future 1,000 year period.
as seen here


36:1 This is the way, beloved, in which we found our salvation; even Jesus Christ, the high priest of our oblations, the champion and defender of our weakness.

36:2 Through him we look steadfastly to the heights of the heavens; through him we behold, as in a glass, the immaculate and lofty countenance of God the Father; through him the eyes of our heart were opened; through him our foolish and darkened understanding springeth up again to his marvellous light; through him the Lord hath willed us to taste of immortal knowledge; who, being the brightness of his glory, is so far better than the angels, as he hath, by inheritance, obtained a more excellent name than they.

36:3 For it is thus written: Who maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a flame of fire.

36:4 But of his Son the Lord hath thus said: Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the world for thy possession.

36:5 And, again, he saith unto him: Sit on my right hand until I make thy enemies thy footstool.

36:6 Who then are the enemies? Even the wicked, and they who resist the will of God."

Plus J. Pelikan seems to show that it wasn't the only view.

"But there is striking evidence not only that the mellenarian hope continued in the Church after the Apostolic age, but also that, probably from the beginning, it stood in tension with other descriptions of the reign of Christ, which were not as privy to the details of the timetable for this reign. Although he himself entertained the expectation that Jerusalem would be rebuilt and that the saints of both the Old and New Testament eras would share with Christ in the joys of the new age, Justin admitted that there were other christian believers, no less pious and orthodox than he, who did not have such an expectation. It would seem that very early in the post-apostolic era millenarianism was regarded as a mark neither of orthodoxy nor of heresy, but as one permissible opinion among others within the range of permissible opinions. Although its terminus a quo is set very early, its terminus ad quem is much more diffucult to fix, Origen's polemics against millenarianism recounted the exegesis of the literalists on the various promises concerning the Kingdom of Christ, but concluded that such an interpretation was "unworthy of the divine promises";""[8]

Elsewhere Jason said:
" The apostle John taught
premillennialism, but he was wrong. The Christians in Asia Minor "had a little
more detail about end time views that other regions didn't have. And they lost
the fight". Apparently, they were mistaken because they accepted the "details"
John gave them. The apostle led them astray."

You are putting words in my mouth. This is what I said:

""only the christians from Ashia Minor were mostly PM [premillennial]. Ashia minor is where Saint John mostly lived and died, and so the Apostolic Tradition that came from his region mostly held on to 'Chilism'.""

Where in that quote did I say that Saint John tought premill? I was very careful not to say that. It is you who are making that connection from some of my statements.

I said that the Apostolic tradition that came from his region, mostly held to it. You guys have been putting words in my mouth for the past few days. For three days you have been either putting words in my mouth, or gave a meaning I never gave. I came here a few days ago in regards to John Calvin's noval view of the Asiety of the Son, and you guys change topics to pound me over the head with premill.

"Probably the first indication that the prophecy in this chapter was being interpreted to mean an earthly reign of a thousand years following the return of Christ is that associated with the name of Papias. The only doctrinal position definitely attributed to him was the teaching, which he clamed to have derived from "unwritten tradition," that there will be a millennium following the resurrection of the dead, when the kingdom of Christ is to be established physically on this earth."[3]

Jason also said:
" The book of Revelation, which the
large majority of professing Christians today accept as canonical, was rejected
as uncanonical by most of the earliest Christians, and the book taught a false
view of eschatology. It can be reinterpreted in an orthodox manner, but the book
was initially written with the intention of conveying false eschatology."

You are putting words in my mouth again. I never said any of that. In my rejoinder with King Neb, I said that the Canon was still in a state of flux. and that alot of christians didn't embrace the book of Revelation. I never said anything about the book of Revelations teaching a false view anywhere. How can I say that when the book itself doesn't even tell us how we should interpret that chapter.

I never said any of what you asserted.

Jason also said:
" The reason why men like Justin Martyr
and Irenaeus advocated premillennialism and spoke of it as if it was the
mainstream Christian view when they were outside of Asia Minor is because they
were at the forefront of spreading the belief to other regions. Apparently, men
like Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Cyprian accepted premillennialism under the
influence of men like Justin and Irenaeus. We aren't told why premillennialism
would be so widely accepted outside of Asia Minor if it had initially been
rejected in such places. We aren't told how Jnorm888 allegedly knows that the
doctrine was spread in the manner he suggests."

You are putting words in my mouth again.
Why should I say that about Saint Justin Martye when even he admited that not everyone agreed with his "eschatology", and yet you wonder why I wouldn't always answer your posts. Well for starters, you keep putting words in my mouth, and I didn't originally come here to talk about Premill. I came to talk about John Calvin & friends.

Jason said:
"The apostle John lived in Asia Minor, and
he wrote Revelation to some of the churches there. But premillennialism's origin
and prominence in that region don't imply some of the other conclusions Jnorm
has reached. Premillennialism is found early in Asia Minor (Papias), but also is
found early outside of Asia Minor (The Epistle Of Barnabas)."

I think I already answered why "The Epistle of Barnabas shouldn't be included.

Jason said:
"Premillennialism became much less popular
in later centuries, but it was widespread during the ante-Nicene era."

In your list you included "Lactantius & Victorinus ". Lactanius lived from 250 A.D. to about 325 A.D.

Victorinus lived around 304 A.D.

Well since you included these pre-millers. I think it's only fair that I include Eusebius who lived anywhere from 270 A.D. to about 340 A.D.

on page 129 Pelikan says:

"Eusebius was certainly speaking for a large body of theological opinion in the East when he called Papias's millenarianism "bizarre" and rather mythological." [4]

Jason said:
"A smaller number of mainstream ante-Nicene
sources opposed premillennialism, such as Origen and Dionysius of Alexandria,
but not with the sort of argumentation we're getting from Jnorm."

Pelikan seems to think that Origen reacted against Millenarianism with alot of vigor. And Dionysius of Alexandria at least knew of some who rejected the book.

"Some persons before our time have set this book aside and entirely rejected it. They have criticized it chapter by chapter, trying to demonstrate that it is without either sense or reason. They have also alleged that its title is false. For they have that John is the author.....they claim that non of the Apostles, nor indeed any of the Saints, nor any person belonging to the church, could be its author. Rather, they say that Cerinthus and the heretical sect founded by him.....attached that title to the book....However, I, for my part, could not venture to set this book aside. For there are many brethern who value it highly." Dionysius of Alexandria 262 A.D. [5]

And it seems that Dionysius of Alexandria didn't believe that Saint John was the author either.

"I do not deny that this person was called John, therefore, and that this was the writting of somone named John. I also acknowledge that it was the work of some holy and inspired man. However, I could not so easily acknowledge that the author was one of the aposltes. I cannot so easily acknowledge that it is the same person who wrote the Gospel that bears the title, "According to John," and the author of the general epistle. Rather, from the character of both those works and the forms of expression in them....I draw the conclusion that the authorship is not his. For the evangelist nowhere else affixes his name [to his works]. He never proclaims himself either in the Gospel or in the epislte. Dionydius of Alexandria (262 A.D.) [6]

Jason said:
"The tendency was to classify apostolic
books as scripture, so acceptance of the apostolic status of Revelation tends to
suggest acceptance of the book as scripture. I can document that tendency, and I
can give examples of the citation of Revelation as scripture by such sources, if
Jnorm wants to dispute the point."

There is no need to do that for I never disputed/fought againt the claim.


[1] page 131,[3] page 124,[4] page 129,[8] page 124 & 125 by Jaroslav Pelikan, in the book "The Christian tradition: A history of the Development of Doctrine" Vol 1, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600)

[2] page 520, edited by Henry Wace & William C. Piercy, in the book "A dictionary of early Christian Biography"

[5] page 565,[6] page 565 edited by David Bercot, in the book "A dictionary of Early Christian beliefs"

[7] page 373, edited by Michael W. Holmes, in the book "The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations 3rd eition"


Acolyte4236 said...

Some help. Try John Gerstner's Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism, as well as Clarence Bass, Backgrounds to Dispensationalism, for info disputing the supposed premillenialism of some of the apostolic fathers and apologists. Gerstner's Reformed and I think Bass is too but I can't recall. In any case, these are standard works for the Reformed arguing with premill dispies so you'll get more of a hearing and credibility if you speak their language so to speak. I hope that helps.

Jnorm said...



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