The Appeal of Premillennialism

“Certainly the power of the premillennial vision cannot be doubted. Even though it was pessimistic about this world, its heightened supernaturalism produced a strong sense of hope and optimism anchored in the world to come. It taught people to deny this world and live in light of the world to come.”

-Walter Unger in “‘Ernestly Contending for the Faith’: The Role of the Niagara Bible Conference in the Emergence of American Fundamentalism,” p. 207


Haldeman on Doctrine

There are three important things every preacher should preach. The first thing is doctrine. The second thing is doctrine. The third and pre-eminent thing is doctrine. The church is starving to death for the want of it, the preachers are becoming emasculated apologists for lack of it, and the world, looking on, is laughing at a limp, genuflecting thing calling itself modern Christianity and for want of vertebrate strength, unable to stand alone.

– I. M. Haldeman in “Christianity”

Theology and Culture

Even the purest theological issue, however, will in the long run have cultural consequences . . . And, for the most part, it is inevitable that we should, when we defend our religion, be defending at the same time our culture, and vice versa: we are obeying the fundamental instinct to preserve our existence.

— T. S. Eliot, Notes toward the Definition of Culture (1948)

The Logical Connection Between Old Fundamentalism and Premillennialism

“In reaction to the Modernists’ optimism the Fundamentalists, convinced that the war presaged the end of the world, placed their hope upon the Second Coming of Christ. This tenet explained the evil days to their satisfaction, for it envisaged, so far as most Adventists were concerned, a period of devastation before the Return. But since the doctrine of Christ’s reappearance on earth was one of the beliefs which the Fundamentalists felt to be jeopardized by the higher critics’ tinkering with the Bible, the emphasis on millennialism demanded of them a spirited defense of the old faith and bitter opposition to the new. It was significant that many fervent champions of religious orthodoxy after 1918 were premillennialists.”

-Norman F. Furniss ‘The Fundamentalist Controversy”

Worship and Ritual

‘Worship is better seen as the point of concentration at which the whole of Christian life comes into ritual focus . . . I am not using ‘ritual’ in the pejorative sense of ‘mere ritual’ . . . On my sense of the word, even those communities which pride themselves on their freedom from ‘ritual’ will generally be found to use ritual; only they will not be aware of it, and so will be unable either to enjoy its pleasures to the full or to be properly vigilant about its dangers.”

Geoffrey Wainwright ‘Doxology’

Therefore when I die —

Therefore when I die–but I die no more–and someone finds my skull, let this skull preach to him and say: I have no eyes, yet I behold Him; I have no brain nor understanding, yet I comprehend Him; I have no lips, yet I kiss Him; I have no tongue, yet I praise Him with all who call upon His name. I am a hard skull, yet I am quite softened and melted in His love; I lie outside here in the churchyard, yet I am within in Paradise. All suffering is forgotten. This His great love has done for us, since for us He bore His cross and went forth to Golgotha.

H. F. Kohlbrügge, Passionspredigten p. 173ff. as quoted by Karl Barth in Church Dogmatics, I.1, p. 223.

Calvin’s a priori of Scripture

Now, in describing the world as a mirror in which we ought to behold God, I would not be understood to assert, either that our eyes are sufficiently clear-sighted to discern what the fabric of heaven and earth represents, or that the knowledge to be hence attained is sufficient for salvation. . . . For the Scripture as our guide and teacher, he not only makes those things plain which would otherwise escape our notice, but almost compels us to behold them; as if he had assisted our dull sight with spectacles.

– From “Argument” in Calvin’s commentary on the book of Genesis.