CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS AND THE BOOK OF REVELATION:
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE WORK OF JAMES STUART RUSSELL
The Scriptures must be allowed to speak for themselves — a liberty which many will not concede.
Behind all of the symbols found in the Bible’s Book of Revelation is a struggle for control between the Christian Church and civil government. The great enemy of the Book of Revelation – MYSTERY BABYLON – represents, in particular, that type of spiritual oppression found when civil and religious institutions unite to demand authority over religious expression. The visions the Apostle John recorded in his apocalyptic book ultimately display Jesus Christ and His people being victorious against those combined powers of church and state.
There are many different opinions about precisely which period of history is contemplated by the visions of John, but few deny the Apocalypse’s focus on the civil and religious struggle faced by Jesus Christ and His churches.
The present-day establishment view of Christianity is that the apocalyptic visions of John are descriptive of this very generation – or one not too distant into the future. In fact, this perspective of the contemporary fulfillment of Bible prophecy’s “last things” is endorsed by nearly every single major church and parachurch organization today – as it has been by those of the previous ten generations. Regardless, there have always been dissenters to that established view. Throughout the centuries, many able Christian preachers and authors have stretched the boundaries of the accepted beliefs regarding Bible prophecy. One of those dissenters was James Stuart Russell of the Evangelical Alliance.
I. CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS IN THE FIRST CENTURY
While pastoring a congregation of the Dissenting Church during England’s Victorian Era, Rev. J.S. Russell wrote a highly controversial book that flew in the face of the establishment position on the subject of Bible prophecy. Within his book, The Parousia: A Critical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord’s Second Coming, Rev. Russell engaged his wide readership with new ideas regarding old difficulties. In the process, he freed the Book of Revelation from centuries of ecclesiastical and political tyranny.
Russell explained that the imagery of the Book of Revelation points not to his own day, but to battles fought long ago in Palestine during the first century – in particular, the civil and religious war between the first generation of Christians and the combined powers of Israel and Rome. Because of his successful approach, a great reformation arrived for the study of Bible prophecy. Only the onset of two world wars stopped the momentum generated by his book.
Placing the key elements of the book of Revelation within a first-century context drew a number of surprising conclusions. Perhaps none of these conclusions were as controversial as the “second coming” of Jesus Christ having occurred in the events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. With the overthrow of the oppressive and murderous regimes in Jerusalem and Rome, Russell taught, Jesus found full vindication before his enemies. The fact that the Christians had been delivered from the holocaust in Jerusalem to the safety of Pella (located in present-day Jordan) served to further prove the conclusion.
Summing up his conviction, Russell wrote:
Our Lord affirms the same speedy coming of judgment upon the land and people of Israel; and He further connects this judgment with His own coming in glory, – the Parousia. This event stands forth most prominently in the New Testament; to this every eye is directed, to this every inspired messenger points. It is represented as the nucleus and centre of a cluster of great events; the end of the age, or close of the Jewish economy; the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem; the judgment of the guilty nation; the resurrection of the dead; the reward of the faithful; the consummation of the kingdom of God. All these transactions are declared to be coincident with the Parousia.
By presenting Scripture without restriction, Russell believed, the imagery of the Book of Revelation predicted a massive catastrophe for both first-century Jerusalem and its temple – that is, for both its state and its church.
II. CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
It is instructive to trace the growth and progressive development of the Theocratic idea in the history of the Jewish people, and to observe how, as it loses its political significance, it becomes more and more moral and spiritual in its character.
Author James Stuart Russell was a man eminently qualified to comment on church-state matters. During the 19th century, he was the spiritual leader of the final fight to free Christians from the oppressive religious restrictions of the British government. His doctrine of spiritual liberty insisted upon complete independence from the Church of England’s corrupting influence. To accomplish his goal, he deployed his message from one of the most visible pulpits in the British Empire, that of the Congregational Church at Great Yarmouth.
That particular church in Yarmouth was a symbol of liberty in England. Long known in the realm as the “Mother of Nonconformity,” the Yarmouth records show struggles dating back to the 17th century. In fact, it was from this assembly point that the Pilgrim Fathers departed their native land, searching for religious freedom across the seas. The liberty they found ultimately resulted in the writing of the Constitution of the United States (under the authority of “We the People”) and the Bill of Rights, the latter of which protected spiritual and civil independence on a scale larger than the world had ever known.
Rev. Russell traveled widely to spread the cause of liberty. After centuries of tyranny, he felt it was time for absolute freedom from church-state control of Christian doctrine. In this historical drama, he was hugely successful. The arch of triumph in this cause is the Evangelical Alliance.
In 1846, Christians of the British Empire came together – independent of any church or denominational control – to strengthen ties against the oppressive church establishment, which routinely arrested and assassinated dissenting Christians while denying citizenship to those who stood apart from the ruling authority. Within a short space, the Council of the British Organization of the Evangelical Alliance wielded great influence in England, successfully lobbying Parliament and the Royal Family for assistance.
In retrospect, history views the Evangelical Alliance’s founding as the culmination of a thousand-year war in England over the issue of spiritual independence. Present at the founding of this organization, Russell served it wholeheartedly until his retirement over forty years later. During that span, Christians enjoyed a liberty of conscience and expression never before held by Englishmen.
The battle won at home, Russell used the Evangelical Alliance to bring reformation to nations abroad. He provided relief during the Irish famine, established churches in nations such as Switzerland and Germany, and was a founder of the free school movement. He even retraced the steps of his predecessors at Yarmouth by personally bringing the Evangelical Alliance’s vision of independence to American shores.
It wasn’t until forty years after winning the battle for religious liberty that Russell turned to liberate the study of Bible prophecy. During the year his book The Parousia was published, he was one of the most active members of the society, serving as secretary and chaplain, and filling pulpits throughout England – preaching up to five times a week.
A year after publishing The Parousia, Russell’s focus remained on the cause of liberty:
The Rev. J.S. Russell spoke of the formation and of the past history of the Evangelical Alliance, and urged the importance of the great principle of the Alliance – the manifestation of the oneness of the Church of Christ. He believed that it was impossible to calculate the amount of good which had already been accomplished in the… great objects of the Alliance. The efforts of the society on behalf of the persecuted for conscience’s sake in various lands have shown the power of Christian union as represented in the Evangelical Alliance.”
The issue of religious liberty and establishment dominance was so strong at the time of his writing that he initially published the book anonymously, lest his dissenting reputation dissuade acceptance of first-century fulfillment by members of the Church of England. One should read The Parousia in this light.
As controversial as was the doctrine of The Parousia, there had been, from time to time, establishment writers who suggested the same. After all, the first known modern preterist (“past fulfillment”) commentary on the Book of Revelation was written by a Jesuit priest in 1614. The first-century application of John’s Apocalypse is also found in the writings of other famous theologians, including some of Russell’s British countrymen: John Lightfoot, Henry Hammond, Samuel Lee, George Stanhope, Herbert Thorndike, George Wilkins, Frederic William Farrar, Zachary Pearce, Beilby Porteus, Gregory Sharpe, and Bishop William Newcome, the latter of which wrote, The Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus is Emphatically Called the Coming of Christ. However, none of these authors were able to write on the subject with the simplicity and forcefulness of Russell.
Countless others have suggested that John purposefully wrote his apocalyptic book as the capstone to New Testament revelation. The motivation of John in writing and transmission of the book was to lift the spirits and hopes of the persecuted churches of his own day. For students of ancient documents, this method was not at all unusual. It is the rule for “apocalyptic literature” to focus on contemporary struggles in the light of approaching victory. For the Apostle John, the greatest difficulties were borne by the messengers of his churches who were suffering under the anti-Christian jurisdiction of the Jewish and Roman authorities.
This point demonstrates why Christian scholars’ initial reaction to Russell’s work is so important. The greatest Bible experts of the British Empire accepted the orthodoxy of James Stuart Russell’s Christian faith without comment to the contrary. In fact, the literary reactions to The Parousia were all so positive that the book received high praise even when critics strongly rejected its doctrinal conclusions. Sadly, the book’s critics these days are not up to the level of mastery held by those from the 1800s.
Numerous denominational publications stood in line to recommend The Parousia, including The Sword and the Trowel, United Presbyterian Magazine, The British and Foreign Evangelical Review, and even the bastion of church-state reporting in England, The Spectator:
It is with great pleasure that we introduce this work to the notice of our readers . . . . With many of its principles, and with no inconsiderable number of its criticisms, we agree; from others, we emphatically dissent. Many of its positions are simply startling . . . . We anticipate that our readers will wonder how we can speak in strong commendation of the work which contains such incredible positions. Nevertheless, our commendation is given in all sincerity.
The writer of this review went even further, declaring that Russell’s case for the Greek word aion being translated “age” as opposed to “world” (as in, the “end of the age”) was so strong that the soon-to-be-completed Revised Version (or English Revised Version) of the Bible should reflect his insight – which it did!
In many other ways, Russell’s spiritual labor helped unwind the dictatorial control of the civil-religious establishment. The revival of interest in his writings shows that they continue to have an impact that stirs up engagement even to this day, which is a good thing considering that these liberties are perpetually under attack.
III. CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
From what quarter, then, was danger to be apprehended from too great freedom of speech?
In many ways, The Parousia throws the chains off eighteen centuries of biblical interpretation, reflected in one thousand years of English literature. Commenting on this lack of quality exegesis (that is, the interpretation of the Bible), author Milton S. Terry wrote:
During the period extending from Gregory the Great to the time of Luther (A.D. 600 to A.D. 1500), the true exegetical spirit could scarcely be expected to maintain itself, or produce works of great merit. The monasteries became the principle seats of learning, and the treasuries of theological literature gradually found their way to them as to so many asylums. Superstition and ignorance effectually hindered the progress of critical inquiry.”
Russell felt that, after centuries of scriptural oppression in the field of Bible prophecy, it was time for absolute freedom of expression. As successful as Rev. Russell was in the field of religious liberty in public ministry, he was equally successful in the field of religious liberty in print. His arch of triumph in this case is The Parousia.
The free and clear presentation of Scripture within its pages gives the New Testament an entirely new life. Freed from the shackles of the Church of England, Russell made the most of the opportunity by holding nothing back on a subject that the religious establishment had obscured deliberately for millennia. Because Bible prophecy is so relentlessly pointed away from the first-century culture out of which it came, many readers find themselves in states of theological shock after digesting successive pieces of Russell’s perspective.
As natural as the revelation of contemporary events may have been to the original recipients of the Apocalypse of John, such clarity has met with strong resistance in the 21st century. Leaders within today’s church establishment seek methods to oppose and suppress those who teach first-century relevance. Russell made his case so well, in fact, that those seeking to protect positions of power have come to despise both The Parousia and the Rev. Russell’s liberty in writing the book.
Because The Parousia allows the pages of the Bible to speak freely and radically, government-licensed theologians chafe at its power and attempt to impugn the author’s character. This should come as no surprise. Perhaps they feel that they have something to lose by allowing the discussion to proceed with full liberty of expression. The modern publisher of C.H. Spurgeon’s Works eradicated that preacher’s extremely positive comments regarding The Parousia and its author, censoring it from all of their reproductions.
Some choose to oppose the doctrine of The Parousia by challenging the author’s Christian orthodoxy. This is an innovation and is utterly misplaced. It is important to note that none of Russell’s peers cast a single charge of ‘heresy’ against the man or his book. This smear has only recently been deployed. Though some now try to paint Russell as a pantelist (“all things fulfilled”), their charge is absurd and deliberately suppresses his presentation. Says one writer regarding the institutional threat represented by The Parousia:
He initially published his book anonymously. This indicates that he recognized at least some of the personal risks in proposing such a creed-denying thesis. Most of his followers have not been equally alert to these risks. They have committed themselves emotionally and intellectually to a ticking time bomb. Russell made subversives out of most of his disciples. As awareness spreads among church officers regarding the dangerously heretical nature of his theology, only a few of his followers will avoid the accusation of being subversives: the frontal-assault kamikazes who are willing to go public in defense of his position. As laymen without any institutional base, they can be dealt with easily enough. The subversives in the churches are the main threat.
Despite this panicked rhetoric, James Stuart Russell is no pantelist. For one, his writings refer to immensely significant blocks of key Bible prophecy unfulfilled by AD 70, and an unlimited amount of prophecy which can be fulfilled outside of the frame of the “apocalyptic limit” which was the primary focus of The Parousia. Prophetic events which awaited fulfillment following the destruction of Jerusalem include the entirety of the millennium, the loosing of Satan and the final consummation of all things in the “destruction of the old serpent”! Also included within this spectrum of unfulfilled prophecy is the final resurrection. Displaying full candor in what remained unfulfilled in the first century, he wrote:
“It is evident that the prediction of what is to take place at the close of a thousand years does not come within what we have ventured to call ‘apocalyptic limits.’ These limits, as we are again and again warned in the book itself, are rigidly confined within a very narrow compass; the things shown are ‘shortly to come to pass.’ It would have been an abuse of language to say that the events at the distance of a thousand years were to come to pass shortly; we are therefore compelled to regard this prediction as lying outside the apocalyptic limits altogether. We must consequently regard this prediction of the loosing of Satan, and the events that follow, as still future, and therefore unfulfilled.”
Russell also believed that the Gospel was in the midst of a great evangelical movement which would ultimately lead to the complete renovation of humankind on Earth:
That favoured apostle who more than any other seems to have comprehended ‘the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the love of Christ,’ suggests to us ideas of the extent and efficiency of the great redemption which our latent incredulity can scarcely receive. He does not hesitate to affirm that the restorative work of Christ will ultimately more than repair the ruin wrought by sin. ‘As by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall the many be made righteous.’ There would be no point in this comparison if ‘the many’ on the one side of the equation bore no proportion to ‘the many’ on the other side. ‘Where sin abounded, grace did beyond measure abound: that as sin reigned in death, even so might grace reign in righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Rom. 5:19-21).
It does not fall within the scope of this discussion to argue on philosophical grounds the natural probability of a reign of truth and righteousness on the earth; we are happy to be assured of the consummation on higher and safer grounds, even the promises of Him who has taught us to pray, ‘Thy will be done in earth, as it is done in heaven.’ For every God-taught prayer contains a prophecy, and conveys a promise. This world belongs no more to the devil, but to God. Christ has redeemed it, and will recover it, and draw all men unto Him.
Whether or not his view followed the creeds of others, he was never held in contempt, or disciplined, according to his ruling creeds in the Evangelical Alliance and Congregational Church. His peers laid not one such charge at his feet. In fact, the president of the Evangelical Alliance in Russell’s day, Philip Schaff, literally wrote the book on the creeds. He felt no need to suggest the censorship or discipline of Russell following the publication of either edition of his work. In fact, he incorporated the book into his Dictionary of the Bible under the heading for “parousia”.
The Parousia was not a heretical book upon release, it is not a heretical book now, and it must never be considered thus hence. If present-day theologians put chains on the contents of this book, then the legacy of religious liberty left in its pages will have suffered loss.
Thankfully, due in no small part to the freedom of expression offered by the Internet of the late 20th century, dissenting Christians have risen again to the demands of spiritual liberty. If the readership of The Parousia continues to accept its risky challenge of standing for Truth, then perhaps James Stuart Russell’s presentation of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the whole world – in a church-militant sense – is true.
JAMES STUART RUSSELL – CHAMPION OF CHRISTIAN LIBERTY
Rev. J.S. Russell and the Apostle John share something in common historically: Both were caught up into the raging seas of war between Church and state. Likewise, around the world today, there are numerous governments intent on limiting the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to only state-licensed sources. It often appears that liberty of religious communication is at the heart of battle in the 21st century:
[T]here is scarcely a single country from Morocco to Pakistan in which Christians are fully free to worship without restriction. Muslims who convert to Christianity or other faiths in most of these societies face harsh penalties. There is now a high risk that the Churches will all but vanish from their biblical heartlands in the Middle East. The suffering is no less acute elsewhere.
Instructive in this regard is the case of Rev. Russell’s struggles for religious liberty in Berlin, Germany. Having worked with German Christians during the ascension of the Austrian Empire, he was finally able to deliver the Evangelical Alliance message of Christian unity to Germany in 1857. For eighty years, the alliances forged during those early days flourished, allowing them the greatest Christian liberty found within continental Europe. Then, in the wake of World War I until the full ascension of the Third Reich, these liberties steadily eroded and were finally cut off entirely. The godless forces completely surrounded the camp of the saints in that nation, and Germany’s state church became entirely compromised by the Aryan Theology of that pagan government.
Ultimately, on July 1, 1937, the dictator of that empire crushed all audible Christian dissent, symbolized by the arrest of Martin Niemöller and the dissolution of the German Evangelical Alliance. The resulting domination of the state over churches yielded a MYSTERY BABYLON rivaling that of the first century. Any true Christian activity from that point until May of 1945 was carried out covertly with espionage. Then, as if history was taking cues from the Apocalypse of John, the coming of a divine deliverance crushed the Nazi harlot under foot, scattering every piece of the Third Reich’s abominable church-state to the four winds.
Those who would allow encroachment upon religious liberty through the institution of church incorporation should consider the example of the gradual drift of Germany’s church-state admixture. Church incorporation was the Stalingrad of German Christianity. Once church incorporation compromised the issue of authority, the churches fought a losing battle against the enemy’s onslaught. Even if not initially successful against the rising tide of tyranny, we should remember the fruits of that labor as it was in post-WWII Germany:
The Confessing church . . . . had battled the state in order to maintain the very existence of the church. Their opposition had caused anguish, suffering, and pain. But it had also brought a quickening of spirit and a reassessment of values. The years of opposition had laid a foundation and set the guidelines for the reconstruction of the church in the new Germany.
The hand of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, is against any state-church that seeks to dominate His rightful subjects. Those who attempt to seize control over His people by controlling their expression of the Gospel and their definition of righteousness, are in rebellion to the higher power. Those nations which seek to subvert the Gospel by mandating doctrines and practices within the scope of public policy are on notice regarding the consequences. This warning was fully revealed in first-century events to the “chosen generation” of John, and also by John’s Apocalypse to all succeeding generations. And as it was revealed to the Apostle John in the first century, to James Stuart Russell in the nineteenth century, and to Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the twentieth century, all such attempts are doomed to failure and assure the ignominious defeat of the perpetrators.
EULOGY FOR JAMES STUART RUSSELL
In closing, the 1912 summation of author J.E. Clowes provides a fitting eulogy for one of the most dedicated historical Christian lovers of liberty – James Stuart Russell:
In few men probably has the ideal of the Christian Ministry been more fully realised than in Dr. Russell. He was a most impressive preacher, with a style remarkably simple, clear and direct, and a happy choice of words. No class of hearers was neglected by him, and his occasional addresses to the young were looked forward to with brightest interest. As a pastor he was a systematic and eagerly welcomed visitor in the homes of his people. Whilst indulging in no undue intimacies with a few, he sought to know each member of his flock and to interest himself in and share his or her individual joys and sorrows. With a happy knack of saying the right thing in the right place, he would aptly but briefly counsel, reprove or encourage as occasion might require. He was a man of rare tact and sound judgment, intensely sympathetic. Absolutely free from vanity or any assumption of superiority, he bore himself with simple dignity, and was the last with whom any one would take a liberty. In all relationships and under all circumstances his deportment was that of the true christian gentleman, and not only did he enjoy the love and unshakeable confidence of his own people, but also the respect, esteem and friendship of fellow-townsmen who held views widely differing from his own. It was no unusual thing to see members of the Church of England and other communions, men of note and position, listening with deep interest to his preaching, and reverently joining in the simple but beautiful service. The chapel was frequently so crowded that it was impossible to find seats for all, and at times the congregation overflowed into the vestry.
Rev. Todd D. Dennis
American Coalition of Unregistered Churches
Point Loma Nazarene University
February 5, 2013
- James Stuart Russell, The Parousia: A Critical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of our Lord’s Second Coming (London: Daldy, Isbister & co., 1878),172
“And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. And upon her forehead [was] a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.” (Revelation 17:1-6 KJV)
“And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.” (Revelation 17:19, 20 KJV)
“In 1970, Hal Lindsey published “The Late, Great Planet Earth,” which was picked up by Bantam Books in 1973 and sold 7 million copies by the end of the decade. In 1979, Orson Welles lent his basso-profundo voice to narrating the movie version of the book. Suddenly, a large audience was led to believe that European integration, the establishment of the State of Israel, and conflict in the Middle East were all unfolding as fulfillment of end-time prophecies embedded in the Bible. Interest in apocalyptic themes accelerated in the 1990s and early 2000s when, over the span of 12 years (1995-2007), there appeared the 16 volumes of the “Left Behind” series, purporting to tell the story of the final days — from the rise of Anti-Christ, through the Battle of Armageddon, concluding in the triumphal return of Jesus Christ. Good story-tellers, Tim La Haye and Jerry Jenkins, the series’ authors, have reputedly sold 65 million copies. Movies and even video games have been spun off from this successful franchise.” (Charles J. Reid, “Against Apocalypticism,” in The Huffington Post, January 10, 2013)
See David Brady, The Contribution of British Writers Between 1560 and 1830 to the Interpretation of Revelation 13.16-18: (the Number of the Beast) : a Study in the History of Exegesis (Tübingen Mohr, 1983)
James Stuart Russell Study Archive, http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/r/russell_james-stuart.html
The Parousia was originally published in 1878. A second edition was published in 1887. Since Walt Hibbard launched the Baker Books republishing of The Parousia in 1983, the book has been presented anew numerous times. Each new edition was offered to reach a new audience with Russell’s idea.
“How many times have you struggled with the interpretation of certain Biblical texts related to the time of Jesus’ return because they did not fit with a preconceived system of eschatology? Russell’s Parousia takes the Bible seriously when it tells us of the nearness of Christ’s return. Those who claim to interpret the Bible literally, trip over the obvious meaning of these time texts by making Scripture mean the opposite of what it unequivocally declares. Reading Russell is a breath of fresh air in a room filled with smoke and mirror hermeneutics.” (Gary DeMar, The Parousia, Baker Publishing Group, 1999.), quoted on cover.
“For a generation just before and after World War II, it was common to hear of a Neo-Orthodox Consensus in theology, replacing the Liberal Consensus that had reigned on the eve of the First World War.” (Robert M. Price, “Major Theological Issues Before the Great War,” Mount Olive Review, 1988)
Russell, The Parousia, 165-190
“The time of Christ’s solemn judiciary process against the Jews was the time when He did acquit Himself with honour upon His adversaries, and the scandal and reproach of His death was rolled away. The approach of His general judgment ended the persecution ; and when the godly were provided for at Pella, the unbelievers perished by the Roman sword.” (Russell, The Parousia, quoting T. Manton), 294
Russell, The Parousia, 538,539. There is a great deal of historical support for such thinking. Consider Andrew of Caesarea on Revelation 6:14b-17: “Our Lord foretold the future events to the apostles who were asking about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and about the end of time, as much as they were able to receive. These things already happened, in the siege of Vespasian and Titus, to the Judeans who killed Christ, just as Josephus the Hebrew narrates.” Also read Demar and Gumerlock in The Early Church and the End of the World, American Vision, 2006
Russell, The Parousia, 340
J.E. Clowes, Chronicles of the old Congregational Church at Great Yarmouth, 1642 to 1858 (Great Yarmouth, [England : J. Buckle, printer], 1912.)
“The Constitution,” http://www.whitehouse.gov/our-government/the-constitution
James Sieveright, The Evangelical Alliance the Embodiment of the Spirit of Christendom (pp. iv. 130, Edinburgh: M. Macphael, 1847.)
J.S. Russell, “Comments on the 40th anniversary of the Evangelical Alliance.” (Evangelical Christendom, Vol. 41, 1887), 314
“The Evangelical Alliance; Its history and work, the convention in this city.” The New York Times, (October 2, 1873)
“Evangelical Christendom” (1878), 59, 157, 186, 216, 348, 374
“Evangelical Christendom” (1879), 95
Rev. Patris Ludovici ab Alcasar Hispalensis, Vestigatio Arcani Sensus in Apocalypsi (Antwerp: Joannem Keerbergium, 1614). Attempting to counter Protestant theology which identified the Pope as the Antichrist, the Spanish Jesuit Theological Society released commentaries on the Apocalypse from both a preterist perspective (“Alcasar”) and a futurist perspective (Ribera). Ribera’s view of a future Antichrist obtained supremacy over the Protestant’s Historicism
“The distinction of Christ’s first coming in the flesh, of his second coming to overthrow the Jewish state, and of his third coming to the general judgment, is convenient language for divines: but it does not expressly occur in Scripture. The destruction of Jerusalem by Titus is emphatically called the coming of Christ : the spirit of prophecy speaks particularly of this, because the city and temple were then destroyed, and the civil and ecclesiastical state of the Jews subverted. The Jews also suffered very great calamities under Adrian ; but not so great as those under Vespasian : and the desolation under Adrian is not particularly foretold. But I think that any signal interposition in behalf of his church or in the destruction of his enemies may be metaphorically called a coming, and a parousia of Christ.” (William Newcombe, Observations on our Lord’s Conduct as Divine Instructor, [Oxford: At The University Press, 1853 ed.]), p. 231
Many related works are available at “Free Online Books”, http://www.preteristarchive.com/Books
“No other genre of the Bible has been so fervently read with such depressing results as apocalypse, especially the books of Daniel and Revelation. This genre has suffered from a disastrous history of misinterpretation due to a fundamental misunderstanding of its literary forms, structure, and purpose. Because of its very claim to reveal what is shortly to happen, apocalypse has been viewed as a road map into and a blueprint of the future. The tragic flaw in this view is the assumption that the book’s frame of reference is the reader’s contemporary age rather than the author’s.” (The Encyclopedia of Christian Literature, 2010), 4
The Sword and the Trowel, (October 1878), 553
The United Presbyterian Magazine, (1878), 424
The British and Foreign Evangelical Review, (Volume 28, 1879), 804
The Spectator (editors Joseph Addison; Richard Steele, Sir; Alexander Chalmers, Volume 52, June 14, 1879), 760
“Matthew 24:3 – Bible Versions,” http://bible.cc/matthew/24-3.htm
Russell, The Parousia, 181
Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics : a Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, (New York Phillips & Hunt; Cincinnati, Walden & Stowe, 1885.), 661
Here is a representative quote: “I believe that Russell’s work is one of the most important treatments on Biblical eschatology that is available to the church today. The issues raised in this volume with respect to the time-frame references of the New Testament to the Parousia are vitally important not only for eschatology but for the future debate over the credibility of Sacred Scripture.” (Dr. R. C. Sproul, The Parousia, Baker Publishing Group, 1999), quoted on cover.
“[T]he teachings of Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, and other “partial” preterists are opening the door to “hyper” preterism. Most people who were once captivated by the writings of Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye have undergone a “paradigm shift” by accepting the preterist framework and rejecting dispensational futurism. Gentry and DeMar need to explain why dispensationalists are wrong to claim that Matthew 24:30 and other such passages are talking about a future Second Coming, but the creeds and confessions are right to talk about a future Second Coming using those same texts. Mathison’s book really does nothing to counter this prophetic exegetical inertia. People like Ken Gentry, by espousing preterism and recommending Russell’s book, have started a big snowball rolling down the hill, and then they say, “Oops! That snowball shouldn’t roll any further.” Preterist inertia is very powerful. This is why Mathison and his contributors are finding their churches invaded by preterists. Mathison’s book tries to counter this movement by saying little more than “I should point out that no snowball has thus far made it all the way down the mountain.’ (Kevin Craig [co-pastor with David Chilton], “A Review of Keith A. Mathison, ed. When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism”, 2004)
Pilgrim Publications, director Bob L. Ross. The full unedited version of Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s review can be found here: http://www.preteristarchive.com/Books/russell_parousia_spurgeon.html. Lightfoot is also censored: A Commentary of the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica
The charge of heresy is found in the works of C. Jonathan Seraiah, Keith Mathison, Gary North, and Jim West, who wrote that Russell’s book “should be torched”
Gary North, “Dualism’s Doctrine of the Eternality of Evil: A Critique of Heretical Preterism,” (2001). Also, “I can well understand why he refused to put his name on the first edition of his book in 1878. He wanted to “test the waters” before he identified himself in public. Why else would insist that his book be published anonymously, the same way that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published The Manifesto of the Communist Party in 1848.”, and “J. Stuart Russell introduced his book with this statement: “The work is almost wholly exegetical; and there is no attempt to invent or establish a theory, but only, by honest and faithful interpretation of the New Testament Scriptures, to allow them to speak for themselves” (p. 1). I conclude with this warning: whenever anyone tells you that he is merely letting the facts speak for themselves, and that he has no hidden agenda or underlying theory, I strongly advise you to keep your hand upon your wallet and your back against the wall.”
See Duncan McKenzie, “J.S. Russell’s Position on the Millennium, the Neglected Third Way of Preterism,” http://www.preteristarchive.com/Modern/2006_mckenzie_russell-neglected.html
Russell, The Parousia, 523
Russell, The Parousia, “Summany and Conclusion”, http://www.preteristarchive.com/Books/images/1878_russell_parousia/russell_parousia_snc.html
“The Doctrinal Basis of the Evangelical Alliance”, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/creeds3.v.viii.html (1846)
“The Savoy Declaration”, http://www.reformed.org/documents/Savoy_Declaration (ed. John Owen, 1658)
Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes, (New York : Harper, 1877)
Rupert Shortt, “Christians persecuted throughout the world“ (The Telegraph, October 29, 2012)
Edward Steane, The Religious Condition of Christendom, Third Part : Exhibited in a Series of Papers Prepared at the Instance of the German Branch of the Evangelical Alliance and Read at the Conference held in Berlin, 1857, (London : Office of the Evangelical Alliance, 1859.)
“The official announcement of his arrest stated: “that for a long time Niemöller had been making provocative statements from the pulpit and in public addresses; that he had defamed leading personalities of the state and state measures; that he had caused unrest among the populace. Likewise he had urged rebellion against state laws and ordinances. His statements are the steady fare of the hostile foreign powers.” (Ernst Christian Helmreich, The German churches under Hitler : background, struggle, and epilogue, Detroit : Wayne State University Press, 1979.), 346. cf.1 Corinthians 6:1-7
“Stalingrad was the military turning point” (Captain Dennis W. Dingle, “Stalingrad and the Turning Point of the Soviet-German Front”, 1977), http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a212034.pdf
Helmreich, The German Churches under Hitler, 346
Romans 13:1. Consider the following from Kevin Craig, “No longer can we say “I believe because Holy Mother the Church teaches.” No longer can we say “I act because Big Brother the State commands.” We must take our marching orders from Christ.” (A Review of Keith A. Mathison, ed. When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism). Also, the last words of Lutheran Sophie Scholl: ”How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause. Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?” (quoted by cell-mate Else Gebel)
J. E. Clowes, Chronicles of the old Congregational Church at Great Yarmouth, 1642 to 1858, (Great Yarmouth, [England : J. Buckle, printer], 1912.), 82, 83
The Idealist method of interpretation has had a long association with Preterism. Examples can be traced back to St. Augustine, Origen Adamantius, Justin Martyr, and to the author of Hebrews — not to mention the Apocalypse of John. Recent scholarship has been no less enlightening. Charles Homer Giblin expresses this idea well:
“The fate of Jerusalem is brought about by two major facts. First, the people are insensitive to the terms for peace… Second, the rulers of the people (the Romans not excepted, but not considered as primarily responsible) have committed injustice and thus bring about the ruin of the people. The fate of Jerusalem, however, is not ultimately weighed as an event in itself – it is a sign for others, and is expressly related to time for judgment of nations. All this proves to be relevant, parabolically, to Luke’s readership, a man of affluence and influence, educated, who is expected to perceive in “a history” what should be done and what should be avoided, to discern models of good and of evil, with their consequences for society as he knows it. In effect, Luke’s lesson apropos of his account of Jerusalem’s destruction is to be construed as a question prompted in the typed reader’s mind: If this is what happened to Jerusalem because of the way Jesus and those who represent him, his disciples, were treated, what will happen to my city/nation/society if he (and his followers, who stand for him) are treated similarly? What am I, as a respected man with some influence, expected to do?” (The Destruction of Jerusalem According to Luke’s Gospel: A Historical-Typological Moral, Biblical Institute Press, 1985, 123 pages), viii
JAMES STUART RUSSELL’S KNOWN WRITINGS
- <p”>1850: A Leaf from the Early History of the Ancient Congregational Church in Great Yarmouth. 1642-1670 (privately printed)
- <p”>1853: Is it Possible to Restore Unity Between Evangelical Conformists and Nonconformists? A Bicentenary Lecture (pub. John Snow, 16 pages)
- <p”>1854: Nonconformity in the Seventeenth Century: An Historical Discourse, Delivered at the Celebration of the Bicentenary of the Congregational Church, Wattisfield, Suffolk (pub. Fletcher and Alexander, 36 pages)
- 1870: “The Evangelical Alliance: its Objects, and its Influence in promoting Christian Union and Religious Liberty” (unpublished)
- 1878: The Parousia: A Critical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord’s Second Coming (pub. Daldy, Isbister & co., 561 pages)
- 1887: The Parousia: A Critical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord’s Second Coming (pub. T. Fisher Unwin; 2nd edition with a new preface)
- <p”>1887: “Comments on the 40th anniversary of the Evangelical Alliance” (Evangelical Christendom, Vol. 41, p. 314)
1888: “A Rejoinder by the Author, Rev. J.S. Russell, MA” (The Congregational Review, Volume 2, Part 1, February 1888, pp. 148-151)