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  • Pastor Steve Conley

Did Isaac Newton Speak of Pretribulationism’s Future Rise as Witnessed in the Last Two Centuries?

It has been suggested that Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) spoke of the modern pretrib movement when he said:

“About the time of the end, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation, in the midst of much clamor and opposition.” Some are saying that it was Darby and those pretribulationists that came after him that Newton was referring to. However, the way I see it is that Darby and those early pretribulational dispensationalists that came after him tried to take the professing church out of the allegorical interpretation ditch, only to end up in a similar ditch on the other side of the road. They went from the ditch of allegorical interpretation to a pattern of the forced dividing of texts which should be harmonized to accommodate a few initial fundamental misunderstandings.

A literal hermeneutic is the right way to approach the Holy Scriptures. The Augustinian method of interpretation allowed nearly anything to be read into the text. However, I've found that pretribulationists are very good at reading their eschatological system into the text of the Holy Scriptures. They start with the misunderstood truth that the church is not appointed unto wrath. Indeed, the church, or any of Christ's own, are not appointed unto God's wrath. But that is not an exemption from the persecution of the world or the Beast upon the saints. Jesus said, as was prophesied, that there would be a period of unprecedented violent persecution upon His own just prior to His parousia. Pretribulationists have wrongly interpreted that unprecedented persecution to be part of God's eschatological wrath, the wrath that we are not appointed unto. This misunderstanding has led to the bifurcation of the singular second Parousia of Christ into two separate comings and the bifurcation of the elect into various subgroups some so loved that they will not experience God’s wrath (the church) and others who will experience God’s wrath (the fictional subgroup “tribulation saints”).

To the pretribulationist, this misunderstanding became the "primary truth" that stood above all the other eschatological statements of Scripture and the "truth" to which every other text must bow. If another passage contradicted that understanding it would be wrested from its intended meaning through various means to conform to the system. One example is to apply Christ’s words to "another elect", other than the church. Another would be to change the historic meaning of a word or phrase to conform the text to the pre-trib system. Such as the sudden redefining of the word apostasia (falling away) to mean the rapture. This type of hermeneutic activity (eisegesis) is no better than that which was introduced by Augustin, and it is very dangerous. Why is it dangerous? It is dangerous because it causes many of those who profess Christ to disregard His warnings concerning the days that precede His return. Jesus said that many would be deceived and that many would fall away (depart from the Faith). He told us so much about these coming days so that we would not be among those who are deceived into renouncing Christ and worshiping the Beast.

Just as men like Charles Spurgeon, Samuel Tregeles, and George Muller rejected pretribulationism when it began to be preached in the 1800s, so also, today, many like myself who grew up being indoctrinated in pretribulationism, are renouncing it and exposing it to be the dangerous bankrupt lie that it is.

Rev 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

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