THE IMMINENT- COMING HERESY
March 1, 1991 Issue
by H.C. Harper
"For centuries christendom has neglected the Scriptures dealing with the Return of our Lord. The Great Advent movement, under the leadership of William Miller, gave back to the church that glorious and important doctrine." - Simmons in P.T. Messenger, Dec.26, 1935.
This is not true. "Christendom has never neglected the Scriptures dealing with the Return of our Lord." No Christian has ever doubted the Scriptural teaching that our Lord would return "in the like manner" as he went away. But the ''imminent (impending) coming heresy'' preached by William Miller (and others from time to time), was long ago knocked in the head by the Apostle Paul in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians. And this same article in P.T.M. admits the folly of such "imminent" teaching. It goes on thus: "When I read in Deut 29:29 that 'the secret things belong to the Lord our God', and then remember that according to Acts 1:7 one of those 'secret things' is the time of our Lord's return, I am quite willing to labor on at the work he has assigned me, and let my Father God choose the time to 'press the button' that will bring back my Lord."
Yes, but Miller and "the Miller Movement" have not been thus "sane minded." And it has been one scandal after another on the cause of making more infidels than Christians. And if I ever learn how to hit this hydra-headed heresy harder, I shall gladly do it, to the glory of our Lord, and make people willing to let God attend to his own business. Look at this from the same article: "We should be careful not to raise false hope lest weak souls lose their balance and do foolish things as a certain woman did with whom my wife remonstrated for not keeping her children, a girl and two boys, in school. Her reply was: 'The Lord is coming so soon that it does not matter whether they get an education or not.' Those children are all grown now and face life without a proper education all because the mother lost her balance."
Yes, and I knew a preacher of this type out west. He quit his crop: took his Bible, and preached the "imminent" coming of Christ, that year. But Christ did not come; and he threw his Bible into the fire, saying, "There is no truth in the old thing."
But this writer goes on, saying, "History has proved that we, as a church, have over estimated the imminence of our Lord's return, and it is the writer's conviction that some among us are still making this mistake." Again: "To my brethren who seem to me to be over-anxious for our Lord's return and are therefore, as it seems to me, over stressing its imminence, I beg to say in the language of James: 'Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord... Therefore I am fully persuaded we had better stick to the job assigned us of preaching the Good News of salvation and leave 'the times' and 'the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power' right where he has placed them."
Yes, yes! Evident it is that any man who preaches the "imminent" coming of Christ is preaching what he knows not, and is therefore preaching heresy. And he has only to set a date to be reckoned by time and the fool class. The advent doctrine is in the Bible, but when Miller and other deluded preachers went to preaching the imminent-coming doctrine, they were preaching heresy, a doctrine not in the Bible, and a doctrine condemned by an apostle of Christ, as we have seen. And the denomination founded on this doctrine should have been called Imminent Advent Christian Church to be labeled true to teaching, and not simply "Advent," which all Christians have ever believed and preached.
And since these people have made such a joke of the imminent-coming doctrine, some are now advocating a new denominational name. And since they have been stressing the materialistic heresy since the "imminent" heresy has exposed itself, I hope they will get a name true to teaching this time. And to expedite the matter, let me lend assistance. How would Body-and-Breath-Man Church do? Or All-Body-Man Church? Or No-Soul Church? Or No-Spirit Church? Or No-Hell Church? Or Annihilation Church?
They seem to know so well what it takes to make God "merciful" and "loving" and "kind" that they can not take anything as punishment from him but annihilation of the wicked; and the Universalist makes him too "merciful" to do this. But I want to say both in the language of the writer here reviewed on the imminent-coming proposition: "I must not consult my own personal desires and feelings in this or in anything else. I must seek to learn God's program and follow it."
This is well said. If I consulted my own "personal desires and feelings," I would be a Universalist, or at least a Restorationist, and have all eternally happy-yes, even Judas and "the angels that sinned" (2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6). And I think with the help of the Universalists and the Adventists, we ought to be able to save the devil too! Why not, beg I? The Adventists ought to be as "merciful" as the Universalists, at least!
But now that "imminence of our Lord's return" - what does he mean by "have overestimated the imminence of our Lord's return" - "overemphasize its imminence" - "over-stressing its imminence?" Does he mean: have set dates by which the heresy has been self-exploded? Is it - preach the heresy, but leave off date-setting? He has shown us (Acts 1:7) that the Lord's return is a "secret" known only to God. Hence, the man who pretends to know, is a base deceiver, and so preaches heresy when he preaches it. So they better quit not only the date-setting, but the whole thing, and come clean.--(This article written in 1938, is timely even today. RFW)
Second Coming of Christ
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