Beyond Foundation Principles
“If in anything ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you”
(Philippians 3:15 ASV).
By James Parkinson
Doctrines have applications, even those that are not fundamental.
An “advanced doctrine” would be whether the faithful church has a part in the sin-offering. The two Atonement Day sacrifices are a shadow for the Gospel Age. The bullock was provided by the priesthood, but the Lord’s goat came from the people. The first sacrifice is identified with Jesus and the second with the faithful church (Leviticus 16:3,5, Hebrews 13:10-13).
Some object that to say the church has a part in the sin-offering would even be blasphemous. But the ransom is not the sin-offering. The sinoffering is the paying of the ransom.1
The church adds no atoning merit, because it has no merit of its own — only the imputed merit of Jesus Christ. (Besides, now that Jesus has died “once for all,” paid the full price, what could anyone add to it?)
Application: To qualify to join with Jesus Christ in the sin-offering, the offering of his merit for the cancellation of sin for the world, one must consecrate self fully, and be faithful unto death (Romans 12:1, Revelation 2:10).
(1) Three Editors’ note: The sin-offering includes all of Jesus’ sacrificial life for the 3½ years of his ministry. Throughout his life, he became qualified for the role of mediator. The mediator will be the Intermediary between God and man, offering protection when sins are committed during the Kingdom of Christ. The church class will have its experiences added to those of our Lord to form a merciful priesthood.
The Great Covenants
A second “advanced doctrine” would be whether the “New Covenant” is the second or the third of God’s great covenants.
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord/Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Hebrews 8:8 ff., Jeremiah 31:31 ff.) might suggest the New Covenant begins when the “seven days” of the Law Covenant ends (Jewish Age ends) — at Jesus’ first advent. But two verses later it says, “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah,” which means the New Covenant follows after the days of the Gospel Age.
(Nat and Marian Hiam visited Rose Henninges, whose husband was the leader of the New Covenant movement, in Melbourne, Australia, and she said, Well, you know, Bro. Russell went out of the truth! The Hiams were unconvinced!)
Application: Thinking the church in the Gospel Age is under the same covenant as Israel and the world in the Millennial Age does not discourage anyone from a self-sacrificing spirit now. But believing the church now is under the Promise Covenant / Grace Covenant / Sarah Covenant prompts one towards self-sacrifice, beyond what is expected of the world in the coming age.
Christ’s Second Presence
The duty of the High Priest was to sacrifice, and then to bless the people (Leviticus 9:23). Jesus’ First Presence was to sacrifice, to give his human life once for all. Jesus’ Second Presence is ultimately to bless all.
Until Christ’s Return, there could be little but time prophecy to point to it. (Signs of Christ’s Return, such as in Matthew 24 and Daniel 12, would necessarily have to wait for his return.) There became great interest in chronology in the 19th century, suggesting that Christ’s return was imminent. It was noticed that from the beginning of Papal civil power in 538-539 to the (temporary) end of Papal civil power in 1798-1799, was 1260 years, like the 1260 “days” in Revelation 11:3, 12:6 (also implied in 11:2, 13:5, 12:14, and Daniel 7:25, 12:7).
“And, though the Bible contains no direct statement that the seventh thousand [years] will be the epoch of Christ’s reign, the great Sabbath Day of restitution to the world, yet the venerable tradition is not without a reasonable foundation” (Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 2, page 39. A “tradition” stated in the Epistle of Barnabas 15:4-5,8). Edward Bishop Elliott (Horae Apocalypticae, Volume 4, 1851) presented a chronology that 5,979 years from Adam was ending; so 6,000 years would end in 1872 (Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 2, page 53 f., with some uncertainty as to how long it was until Adam sinned).
Nearly everything pointed to Christ’s return some time in the 19th century. Dates of 1843, 1844, 1847, 1866, 1867, 1873 and 1874 were proposed (some dogmatically). If nothing dramatic happened, many looked for another date (though some just stopped looking).
Meanwhile, the “secret presence” movement in England made its way to America. So, by 1874 some were watching more patiently for signs of Christ’s Second Presence. The Long Depression (began 1873 May 9), Balkan crop disaster (1874-1875), Christian Revolt (1875), and Ottoman Empire declaring bankruptcy (1875 October), may have gone unnoticed, but they led to the first new Jewish community in Palestine (Petach Tiqvah, 1878 November 3) and the First Aliyah (1882-1903). Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister (1868, 1874-1880), was instrumental in beginning the return.
Thus, Daniel 12:1 (ASV) was being fulfilled, “At that time shall Michael [“Who is like God”] stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people [fleshly Israel returning to the Land]; and there shall be a time of trouble [beginning in World War I, 1914-1918].” Today, 46% of world Jewry is already back in Israel (about 6.8 million). A chronology problem: The Elliott chronology (nor Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 2) does not try to harmonize the synchronous listings of 1 and 2 Kings (e.g., “In the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat began Abijam to reign over Judah. Three years reigned he in Jerusalem,” and “In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Asa to reign over Judah” (1 Kings 15:1-2,9). Attempts to explain them as later additions to the text seem like higher criticism. To harmonize them would subtract 169 years from the Elliott chronology, which suggests ending the 6,000 years at the beginning of Christ’s Kingdom, rather than at his return.
Archaeology currently better supports a harmonized chronology of kings in the first millennium BC, but Yigael Yadin (for Sumer/Babylon) and Richard A. Parker (for Egypt) archaeological chronologies may remarkably support the Elliott chronology in the second millennium BC (e.g., Abram and Amraphel / Ur-Nammu in Genesis 14, BC 2050-2036 — Joseph and Pharaoh Ammenemes III, BC 1839 forward — the Exodus ca. 1615 — and Jericho’s fall ca. 1575).
The practical consequences of such chronological revision seem minimal. BC 1813 is taken not as the death of Jacob but as the death of Sarah, a picture of the grace covenant. Thereafter 1845 years take us to the “birth” of Jesus on the heavenly plane, and the rejection of Israel for rejecting Messiah. Another 1845 years take us to a beginning of their recovery in 1878. (Jubilee cycles are the only other time prophecies beginning in the 2nd millennium BC — by other means, however, they do culminate in 1874.) In either case, the call to come out of Babylon continues. There would be no difference in preaching Christ or in any other Christian activity.
Application: The practical consequence of Christ’s Return and Second Presence is the call for faithful Christians to come out of “Babylon” (Revelation 20:1-5). This advanced doctrine tells us when to begin doing so, though it does not tell us to cut off those who do not hear the call.
Doctrines are useful to either (1) Develop Christian character, or (2) Direct Christian activity. If a thought has no application, then it is not a doctrine; it may be characterized as a viewpoint, concept, or even just an idea.
When do the “thousand years” begin and end? There are three views on what is to happen in 2874. (1) Satan will be loosed; (2) Satan will not yet be loosed (but some year after a thousand years from now); (3) Satan will be loosed enough earlier that he will be destroyed in 2874. But it will take eight centuries before it makes a practical difference.
Apparently Bro. Russell did not feel strongly about the question. He changed “Millennial Age” on the chart to “Messianic Age” (without explaining it).
Bro. G. R. Pollock remembered Bro. Russell’s last visit to Vancouver, BC (1915), when he stayed at their home. His father asked, “Are we in the thousand years, or were we mistaken about the chronology?” Bro. Russell replied, “Well, Bro. Pollock [pause], I think we are in the thousand years.” (Then they simply went on to another subject.)
Does “Restitution” begin at Christ’s return? or will it begin when the church is complete? or are we in the “Times of Restitution,” while Restitution itself will begin when the church is complete?
Did the smiting of Nebuchadnezzar’s image happen in World War I? or will it be in Armageddon, when the church is complete? or is it a process from one to the other?
Will Judas be resurrected (because Christ died once for all), or not (because his sin was too great)?
None of such viewpoints can be a doctrine because they do not change what we should do.
Sermon on the Gospel of Luke 16 — Of the Rich Man and the Poor Lazarus. (Preached by Martin Luther June 7, 1523)
We also had this Gospel a year ago, and it hath also been printed, and is everywhere easily understood, except in the part about the dead [when he had thought the soul was immortal] … What is hell, what is heaven, what is Abraham’s bosom … In the first place Abraham’s bosom is not the bodily bosom. When Abraham was buried in the Land of Canaan he did also decay there; hence it cannot have been his bodily bosom, except our understanding go mad. Now the soul hath neither hands nor feet, and also no bosom. I have also said — I would not be certain and dogmatic — that the bosom is the word of God, and the promise which was given to Abraham in Genesis 22, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,” which is the word of God. …
You say that [the dead] are in a place wherein people can pray for them — it may be, God doeth things as it pleaseth him — (but) they are not in a heap. In their sight the thousand years before God are not (even) a day. And when people shall be resurrected, it will seem to Adam and to the old fathers, as though they had been living only a half an hour before. (Weimar Edition of Dr. Martin Luther Werke, Volume 12, pages 592-597. Translated by J. Parkinson