R.A. Torrey, Will Christ Come Again? (1918)

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the pamphlet was so weak and many of the statements so manifestly false that the pamphlet would do good rather than harm by serving to open the eyes of many to the weakness of the cause of the postmillenarians


Will Christ Come Again? 

An Exposure of the Foolishness, Fallacies and Falsehoods of Shailer Mathers

By  R. A. Torrey
1918


CLICK HERE FOR PDF FILE OF ENTIRE BOOK


One of the most dangerous and harmful pamphlets or books published in the last year or two is the leaflet of Shailer Mathews entitled, “Will Christ Come Again?”

The American Institute of Sacred Literature, with the large resources at its command, seems to have put forth its strongest efforts to get this pamphlet into the hands of every minister and prominent Christian worker in the land. In this attempt they have had the earnest and active co-operation of many influential ministers and religious bodies. When the pamphlet first appeared it seemed to many thoughtful people as though the reasoning of the pamphlet was so weak and many of the statements so manifestly false that the pamphlet would do good rather than harm by serving to open the eyes of many to the weakness of the cause of the postmillenarians, who felt compelled to resort to such methods as those illustrated in the pamphlet to prop up their waning cause. In point of fact this pamphlet has had this expected effect upon a great many; but on the other hand many were so determined that they would not be premillenarians that they have been ready to cordially welcome anything that attacked premillenarianism, even though it was full of the poison of unbelief. Further than this, not a few have been blinded by the subtleties of the pamphlet. A striking illustration of this is found in the fact that the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the most honored and influential missionary societies in this country, has sent a copy of this pamphlet to every one of the five hundred missionaries that they support in different parts of the world, earnestly commending the pamphlet, and the wife of one of the Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, a gifted and influential woman, Mrs. Clotilda L. McDowell, has written a letter in it: “The enclosed leaflet, stating as it does, with substantial accuracy, the position of the Methodist Episcopal Church on this important question.” It certainly is startling when a foreign missionary society, led by a woman of Mrs. McDowell’s influence, endorses officially a pamphlet which not only attacks the premillennial theory of our Lord’s return, but denies in the plainest terms that He will ever come again at all personally
and bodily, and furthermore, discredits and sneers at the clear teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles, and constantly seeks to undermine confidence in the absolute reliability of the Scriptures of both the Old Testament and the New.

On page 21 of this pamphlet are found these words : “Will Christ come again 1 We answer in all reverence, not in the sense in which the early Christians (and from the whole pamphlet it is evident that in “the early Christians” Shailer Mathews includes Jesus Christ and the Apostles) . . . expected. Never in the sense that the premillenarians of today assert (i.e., as the immediate context in the pamphlet makes clear, personally, visibly, bodily).” We are informed by another Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church that Mrs. McDowell and the Board had no right to take this action, and we presume that this Bishop is correct in his statement, but nevertheless the Board took it, and it is a striking illustration of the peril that there is in the pamphlet.

It is not pleasant to say about any man, but especially
about a man who has occupied so high a position in the
educational world and in the organzed church as that occu-
pied by Dr. Shailer Mathews, the things which we shall
be forced to say in this review of his pamphlet, but Dr.
Mathews has himself compelled it. He has attacked, not
openly it is true, but none the less really because insidiously,
the honor of God’s Word, the Bible, and of God’s Son, our
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He has said most con-
temptuous and slanderous things about both, as we shall
show further on, and the man who attacks the honor and
truthfulness of my Lord Jesus Christ, or who seeks to
undermine faith in that Book that I know to be the Word

of God, I feel compelled to contend against and to speak
about in the frankest terms, no matter who he is nor what
position he may occupy. In speaking of him as “Shailer
Mathews,” without the use of the titles which belong to
him, no disrespect is intended, but he so signs himself. He
uses no titles on the title page of his pamphlet. We confess
that we respect him all the more for this. A great man
does not need titles. But Shailer Mathews, if any man,
has a right to use titles. He has been given the honorary
degree of D.D. by three colleges : Colby, Oberlin and Brown
University. He has received the honorary degree LL.D.
from Pennsylvania State College. From 1899 to 1908 he
occupied the position of Dean of the Divinity School, and
from 1908 to the present time of the University of Chicago.
Shailer Mathews is in reality a far more able man and a
far better scholar and a far more intelligent reasoner than
appears from this pamphlet. In this pamphlet he has ven-
tured to write upon a subject to which he has given no
thorough and honest study. Indeed his ignorance of the
views and teachings of those whom he attacks the pre-
millenarians is sometimes startling. Furthermore, he has
allowed himself in this instance to be governed by his very
violent and bitter prejudices rather than by his reasoning
faculties, and thus has been betrayed into the fallacies and
falsehoods that characterize the pamphlet from beginning
to- end. There is reason for thinking that his deepest preju-
dices are not so much against the premillenarian view of the
Second Coming of Christ as against the Divine authorty and
inerrancy of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Inspired Apos-
tles, and that this professed attack upon premillenarianism
is really intended to be a camouflaged attack upon the
authority and reliability of Jesus Christ and the New Testa-
ment writers, which he did not dare to attack directly and
openly.

Let me say at the outset that the great fault of the
pamphlet and the great danger that lies in it is not that it
attacks the premillennial view of our Lord’s return, but
that it persistently and constantly seeks to discredit the
teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and the holy men of
God whom God, by His Holy Spirit, inspired to write the

New Tesatment Scriptures. If Shailer Mathews is right
in his statements, then Jesus Christ, as we shall show later,
was either an egregious fool or a consummate fraud. We
shall see further on that there is no escaping this conclusion.
To me the question of whether our Lord Jesus is coming
before the millennium or after the millennium, or even the
question whether He is coming again to this earth visibly
and bodily at any time, is an entirely secondary question.
The question of whether the inspired Apostles were infal-
lible teachers or not, and above all the question whether
our Lord Jesus Christ was an infallible teacher or not, is of
the very first importance. That Jesus Chrst claimed to be
a teacher sent from God, who spoke the very words of God,
admits of no honest question (see John 12:48, 49 ; x 14:24;
John 7:16). If our Lord Jesus was not a teacher sent from
God, who spoke the very words of God, a Divinely inspired
and absolutely infallible teacher, then He was either a sadly
deluded fanatic or a deliberate liar. If He were either one
or the other I must refuse to believe on Him, and become
an infidel. There is no middle ground for any logical
thinker to take. There is not enough of the intellectual
trickster about me, even if there is about Shailer Mathews
and his school, to believe that Jesus was either a sadly
deluded fanatic or a deliberate liar and still claim to believe
in Him as my Saviour and Lord. But our Lord Jesus was
neither a sadly deluded fanatic nor a deliberate liar, He
was what He claimed to be, a teacher sent from God, who
spoke the very words of God, a Divinely inspired and abso-
lutely infallible teacher. Yes, He was more than that; He
was so entirely, even during His earthly life, God manifest
in the flesh, that He could say truly : “He that hath seen
me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9), and could say again
concerning Himself : “All men should honor the Son, even
as they honor the Father” (John 5:23). God Almighty has
set His seal to these stupendous claims of our Lord Jesus
by raising Him from the dead ; and by the resurrection of
Jesus Christ from the dead, which can be easily shown
to be one of the best proven facts of history, Shailer
Mathews, in seeking, even though it be in underhanded ways
and with much subtlety, to discredit our Lord Jesus Christ,

is proven to be a blasphemer. So much by way of intro-
duction.

Now we are ready for a direct examination of some
of the childish follies and absurd fallacies and gross false-
hoods and insidious blasphemies of Shailer Matthews’
pamphlet.

Dr. Mathews begins his pamphlet with these words :
“Will Christ come again? Some say yes, and immediately.
Others say, when did he ever go away? He is present
spiritually. Has he not promised to be with us even to the
end of the age? These two answers are the outcome of
two ways of using the Bible. Which is correct?”

In what immediately follows and in his whole booklet
Shailer Matthews makes it plain that he believes that the
latter “way of using the Bible” is correct. So the primary
question that Shailer Mathews puts in his pamphlet, and
which he implies cannot be answered, is, “When did He
(i.e., our Lord Jesus) ever go away?” How any student
of the Bible, even of ordinary intelligence and honesty,
could ask such a question it is difficult to understand.
Shailer Mathews’ question is not difficult to answer. Our
Lord Jesus Himself answered the question ; He answered it,
for example, in John 14:28 where He says: “Ye heard
how I said to you, I GO AWAY, and I come unto you.
If ye loved me, ye would have rejoiced, because / go unto
the Father: for the Father is greater than I.” Now if our
Lord Jesus Christ meant anything by these words, and He
certainly meant something for He was not a fool, He meant
to say that He was GOING AWAY to the Father in
Heaven. So Jesus Christ Himself tells us when He went
away. He went away when, after having been crucified
and raised again, He ascended from Mount Olivet, leaving
this world behind and going to another world, from which
other world some day, as indicated here and more plainly
stated elsewhere , He is coming back again. Shailer
Mathews’ question is also answered in the first chapter of
the Acts of the Apostles in the ninth verse where we read :
“And when He had said these things, as they zvere looking,
He was taken up: and a cloud received Him out of their
sight.” In these words Luke, who, to say nothing of his

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inspiration, was a very accurate historian, tells us distinctly
WHEN THE LORD JESUS WENT AWAY. It was
when the disciples were gathered on Mount Olivet and
when He had given them His parting injunction (verses
4-9), and then while they were looking HE WENT AWAY
and was received up “out of their sight.” The Apostle
Peter also answers the question in Acts 3:19-21: “Repent
ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted
out, and that so there may come seasons of refreshing from
the presence of the Lord; and that HE MAY SEND THE
CHRIST who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus:
WHOM THE HEAVEN MUST RECEIVE UNTIL
THE TIMES OF RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS,
whereof God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets
that have been from of old.” Peter here distinctly tells us
just when the Lord Jesus went away and just where He
went and how long He is to stay there. The Apostle Paul
also answered Shailer Mathews’ question in 1 Thess. 1 :9,
10 where we read : “For they themselves report concern-
ing us what manner of entering in we had unto you ; and
how ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and
true God, and TO WAIT FOR HIS SON FROM
HEAVEN, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, who
delivereth us from the wrath to come.” Here Paul dis-
tinctly tells us that Jesus, having been raised from the
dead, left this earth and went away into Heaven, and that
a truly converted and properly instructed man is waiting
for Him to come back again. Of course, we all know that
there is a sense in which Jesus is here today, that “He is
here spiritually,” that He has promised to be with us by
His Holy Spirit to the end of the age, if \ve go forth accord-
ing to His commandment, and make disciples of all the
nations (Matt. 28:18-20; cf. John 14:15-23). Premillen-
arians insist upon this as much as postmillenarians, or
rather more than postmillenarians ; but the Bible makes it
just as plain, that He is not here in the way that He was
here during His bodily presence on earth before His bodily
ascension from Olivet, and in the way that He is to be here
again when He comes the second time. The Bible makes
it as plain as day that Jesus went away from this world

from Mount Olivet, that He went into Heaven, and that
He is to stay in Heaven until the appointed time comes
for Him to come back again. Such words as those with
which Shailer Mathews opens his book are simply an
attempt, and a weak and foolish attempt, to throw dust into
the eyes of unthinking men and women. Of course, if one
is determined not to discover and accept the plain meaning
of God’s Word, he can spiritualize away the plain gram-
matical, “historical” intended sense of these numerous pas-
sages which I have quoted; but he can only do it by a
method of interpretation by which one can also make the
Bible mean anything he likes, and can make lying to be as
acceptable unto God as truth, and greed, covetousness and
stealing as acceptable to God as self-sacrifice, and adultery
as acceptable to God as holy married love. Listen to Shailer
Mathews’ own system of interpretation as described by
himself in this same booklet. He says on page 8: “The
other way to use the Bible, (i.e., the way that Shailer
Mathews is himself advocating in this pamphlet), some-
times called the historical, might be called the common sense
way. Those evangelicals who hold to it are not beyond
making mistakes for this method is not without difficulties
of detail, but they believe in the inspiration of prophets and
apostles by the spirit of God. (Let me call attention to
the fact in passing that Shailer Mathews spells “Spirit of
God” with a small s. We thought when the first edition
of this pamphlet appeared that this might have been a typo-
graphical error, but it is repeated in the later editions, and
from this and other facts this is evidently intentional).
They know that this inspiration was progressive, accumu-
lative, dependent upon and fitted to successive periods of
human intelligence. Evidence compels them to believe that
many of the BELIEFS OF THE EARLY CHRISTIANS
(by “beliefs of the early Christians” Shailer Mathews means
the teachings of the inspired apostles, and even of the Lord
Jesus Christ Himself, though he is not courageous nor
honest enough to come right out and say so, but his whole
pamphlet unmistakably shows that this is his meaning) can
be understood only as they are studied in the light of the
habits of thought prevalent in their times. Historically-

7

minded students of the Bible distinguish between funda-
mental Christian truths and the method and language used
by the early Christians in expressing these truths. (The
italics here are Shailer Mathews’). They believe that in
order to realize these truths THE CONCEPTIONS OF
THESE ANCIENT MEN OF GOD HAVE TO BE
TRANSLATED INTO MODERN CONCEPTIONS
exactly as the Hebrew or Greek language has to be trans-
lated into English.” Shailer Mathews calls the method of
Bible interpretation he here advocates, the “historical
method.” It is absolutely nothing of the sort. The “his-
torical” method of Biblical interpretation has a clearly
defined sense. The real “historical” method of interpreta-
tion is this, that the words in the Bible should be inter-
preted according to their grammatical construction and in
the light of the historical usage of the day, and to that
method of interpretation no intelligent student of the Bible
has any objection. Shailer Mathews, however, has sub-
stituted for this really “historical” method an entirely dif-
ferent method of interpretation, and calls it the “historical”
method, which it is not at all. He also calls it ff the common
sense way,” but if any one will look at it a moment he will
see that so far from being “the common sense way” it is
absolute nonsense. It is a method of interpretation that
no translator outside of a lunatic asylum would dream of
applying to Plato, Homer, Virgil, Horace, or to any book
but the Bible. Shailer Mathews says further : “The con-
ceptions of these ancient men of God have to be translated
into modern conceptions exactly as the Hebrew or Greek
language has to be translated into English.” A few moments
consideration will show that these words also of Shailer
Mathews’ are absolute nonsense. Translating Hebrew and
Greek words, and grammatical constructions and idioms
into their exactly corresponding English words, construc-
tions and idioms is one thing, a reasonable and common
sense thing, but translating THE THOUGHTS of “ancient
men of God,” or any one else, INTO OTHER
THOUGHTS utterly alien to their own and oftentimes
flatly contradicting their own, is not translation at all, and
this whole sentence is simply a ridiculous attempt to defend

8

the substitution by Shailer Mathews and others of their
evolutionary (and revolutionary) vagaries, for what Jesus
Christ, and the inspired Apostles actually taught. Any one
who will stop and think must see that this is not translation
at all, it is distortion, perversion, substitution and prosti-
tution. Shailer Mathews goes on to say : “Thus the issue
is plain. It is not between those who believe the Bible and
those who disbelieve it. It is between ways of using the
Bible.” This statement is an absolute falsehood. The issue
is exactly between those who believe the Bible, those who
translate Hebrew and Greek words into equivalent English
words, and believe what is said by the various Bible writers,
and those who throw overboard what the Bible says, sub-
stituting something else for it, simply because they disbelieve
what the Bible says. If a man should reason in a court
of law as Shailer Mathews reasons in this passage, he
would be laughed out of court. It is only “theologians” who
resort to such preposterous logic. The “way .of using the
Bible” that Shailer Mathews here advocates is that of
setting the Bible and what it says altogether aside and
substituting for its teachings what he thinks is demanded
by the modern evolutionary method of thought. Shailer
Mathews confesses that if we are to take the Bible at its
face value, i.e., as we take any other book of the past or
present, “the premillenarian propagandist” is “true to the
Bible,” but he tries to explain it away by saying of the
premillenarian that “he is really true to an improper way
of using the Bible. His loyalty to the Bible amounts to
making OUTGROWN OR TEMPORARY WORDS
AND CONCEPTIONS equally true with what they
attempt to express.” (p. 9). To this would say that
there is no other form of loyalty to the Bible or any other
book than that of taking the “words and conceptions” to
mean what they say, and to call them, as Shailer Mathews
plainly does in this sentence, “OUTGROWN OR TEM-
PORARY WpRDS AND CONCEPTIONS,” is to be dis-
loyal to the Bible and to pour contempt on the Bible, and
goes to show that in spite of all his twisting and turning
that Shailer Mathews disbelieves the Bible and desires to
substitute for what the Bible teaches, something entirely

different that he imagines evolutionary philosophy teaches.
Shailer Mathews ought to be man enough to come right
out and say so, but he is not. How anybody can be so
silly and irrational as to be blinded by such pettifogging
words as these of Shailer Mathews is more than I can
understand, but hundreds, and probably thousands of
preachers in America, and many missionaries abroad have
been blinded by them. What Shailer Mathews here calls
“the historical method of interpretation/’ in plain English
is the infidel method, not a manly and courageous infidel
method, but a sneaking and cowardly infidel method. By
any such method of interpretation you can make the Koran,
or all the morally rotten literature of India, reeking with
the most unmentionable and indescribable vileness, as valu-
able as the Bible. If Shailer Mathews wishes to get rid of
the plain and crystal clear teaching of the Bible, as he
undoubtedly does, why is he not honest enough to come
right out and say so? Why does he not come right out
and say that the Bible is a jumble of errors and falsehoods?
The fundamental lack with Shailer Mathews and his whole
school of thought is a lack of common intellectual honesty,
and of a decent amount of courage. When he refers, as
he unmistakably does from what he says in the connection,
to the teachings of the inspired Apostles and of the Lord
Jesus Christ Himself, he never speaks of them as the
teachings of the Apostles and of the Lord Jesus, but speaks
of them over and over again as “the beliefs of the early
Christians.” He knew perfectly well that any man or
woman who had even a measurably decent amount of faith
in Jesus Christ and the Bible, would resent it if he spoke
so contemptuously of what were clearly set forth as the
teachings of Jesus Christ Himself and of the inspired
Apostles, so he does not call these teachings the teachings of
the Apostles and of Jesus Christ, but “the beliefs of the
early Christians.” This he does over and over again, and
then goes on immediately, time and time again, to refer to
things that either the Apostles or Jesus Christ Himself
taught, and oftentimes he refers to what they both taught,
in ridicule and contempt. His whole method of argument
would be unworthy of a pettifogging police court lawyer.

10

On page 4 Shailer Mathew says : “Let us first look at
the Scriptual material.” This sounds encouraging, but in
what follows not for one moment does he look at the
Scriptural material in any specific and honest way, or with
any intention of accepting the teaching of the Scriptures.
There is not one explicit quotation from the Scriptures in
the entire book. The whole attempt of the booklet is to
turn the reader’s attention away from the things that the
Bible explicitly says. There are undoubted allusions to the
Scriptures, but Dr. Mathews scrupulously avoids quoting
the Scriptures, and some of his allusions are gross cari-
catures. In one of his allusions given in direct connection
with his words : “Let us first look at the Scripture mater-
ial,” in fact the words immediately following, he says, “The
early Christians believed that Jesus would return during
the lifetime of their generation. This hope is on almost
every page in the Nezv Testament.” Any one who is at
all familiar with the New Testament knows that this state-
ment is one of the wildest and most reckless assertions
ever written by a supposedly serious minded man. How
any man who hoped to retain the confidence of his readers
could have allowed himself to be betrayed into such a wild
and reckless statement it is difficult to understand. There
are 285 pages in the copy of the New Testament which I
now hold in my hand. Does any one believe for a moment
that there are 285 places that indicate, or suggest, or hint
that “the early Christians believed that Jesus would return
during the lifetime of their generation?” Such a hope so
far from being found 285 times in the New Testament is
not found one hundred times, nor ten times, nor is there
even one single instance in which it is asserted that the
Lord Jesus zvould return during the lifetime of the gener-
ation then living. It is true that there are a few passages
in the New Testament which some commentators have held
taught that Jesus Christ would return during the lifetime of
that generation, the most notable instances, those most
frequently appealed to, being Matt. 24:34 and 1 Thess.
4:16. In Matt. 24:34 we are told that our Lord said:
“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass
away, till all these things be accomplished.” This is taken

11

as showing that the Lord Jesus Christ taught that the gener-
ation living when He spoke would not pass away until His
coming again was accomplished. But if any one will study
this passage in the context, the only way to study any
passage in the Bible, he will discover that by “this genera-
tion” our Lord did not mean the generation living upon
the earth when He was here, but the generation living when
the signs of which He had just spoken came to pass. The
words are immediately after the parable of the fig tree, the
whole thought of w^hich is the rapidity with which Summer
draws nigh after the branch of the fig tree becomes tender
and it “putteth forth its leaves,” and He goes on to say that
these signs, of which He has spoken in the immediately pre-
ceding verses, are the signs of the coming Summer, like the
fig tree’s branch becoming tender and putting forth leaves,
and that therefore when all these signs are seen, empha-
sizing especially the great tribulation and the darkening of
the sun that shall follow, then it would be known that the
Summer of His coming to the earth is nigh, and that one
can tell that before the generation then living passes, all these
things shall be accomplished. The whole misapprehension
of the meaning of these words of our Lord Jesus comes
from one of the most vicious methods of interpretation,
that of ripping a verse out of its context. It is the same
thought to which our Lord Jesus gives voice in Luke
21 :31-33 : “Even so ye also, zvhen ye see these things coin-
ing to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh.
Verily I say unto you, this generation (evidently the gen-
eration then living when they “see these things coming to
pass”) shall not pass away till all things be accomplished.”
And it is in this immediate connection that He had said:
“When these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift
up your heads ; because your redemption draweth nigh.”
The other passage most appealed to by those who would
have us think that the early Christians taught that Jesus
would come during their lifetime, is 1 Thess. 4 :15-17 : “For
this we say unto you by the -word of the Lord, that \ve
that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord,
shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For
the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout,

12

with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God :
and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are
alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up
in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air : and so shall we
ever be with the Lord.” It is held that here Paul taught
that he would be alive when the Lord came, for he says :
“we that are alive, that are left.” To this would say, Paul
does, of course, include himself with those who were then
alive, for he certainly had not as yet died, and how could
he by any possibility put himself with those who are already
dead. But he does not for one moment assert that he
would still be alive at the time that the Lord should descend
from heaven. He certainly was alive when he wrote. It
may be that at this period of his life Paul hoped to be
alive when the Lord came, but we are not concerned with
what Paul hoped, or even thought, but what Paul actually
taught, and he certainly does not teach here nor anywhere
else that Jesus would return during his lifetime. Neither
does the Lord Jesus teach it in any place, nor does any other
New Testament writer so teach. The whole purpose of this
argument on Shailer Mathews’ part is, of course, to discredit
the testimony of the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul by
attempting to show that they were mistaken on this point
of the time of His return, and therefore might be mistaken
on the whole question; but the attempt results in utter
failure. The premillenarians do not base their view upon
what “the early Christians believed,” but upon what our
Lord Jesus taught and what “the holy men of God” ivho
were “moved by the Holy Spirit” taught.

Following up this attempt to discredit the Scriptures
and the teachings of our Lord, Shailer Mathews says on page
5 : “It need hardly be emphasized that the immediateness of
these events, the expectation of which was a part of the re-
ligious inheritance of the first Christians, was an essential
element in their hope.” This statement is absolutely false.
The possibility that the Lord Jesus might come soon for His
own to take them out of this world before the great tribu-
lation was an element in their hope in order to keep them
watching and looking, but so far from the “immediateness”
of that coming being an essential part of their hope, there is

13

not a word in the Bible, when properly interpreted with
regard to its context, to show it. It is true our Lord Jesus
did, for His own wise purpose, which it is easy to under-
stand, withhold from the knowledge of His disciples all
information as to the time of His return. There was good
reason for this, into which it is not necessary to go at the
present time. And as they were not “to know times or
seasons, which the Father hath set within His own author-
ity,” (Acts 1 :7) it was natural that they should expect that
Pie might come in their own life, or during the lifetime of
that generation of believers. But the HOLY SPIRIT NEVER

PERMITTED ONE SINGLE NEW TESTAMENT WRITER TO TEACH

THAT HE WOULD so RETURN. So this attempt of Shailer
Mathews to discredit the New Testament falls utterly flat.

That “the immediateness of these events” \vas not
“an essential element in their hope” is further evident from
the fact that our Lord Jesus Himself spoke a parable for
the express purpose of correcting the mistaken idea that
His disciples held at that time (which was before Pentecost,
when they were qualified to be the infallible writers of books
of the Bible), that “the kingdom of God” should “imme-
diately appear.” We read : “And as they heard these
things, He added and spake a parable, because He was
nigh to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the
kingdom of God was immediately to appear. He said
therefore, a certain nobleman went into a far country, to
receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.” (Luke
19:11, 12). Here our Lord Jesus, instead of urging the
immediacy of His coming, emphasized the fact that there
must be a considerable period intervening before He
returned. In a similar way in Luke 20 :9 He says : “A
man planted a vineyard, and let it out to husbandmen, and
went into another country for a long time.” In other par-
ables of the kingdom and of His return our Lord taught
that His coming, instead of being immediate, was to be
at “the end of the world (the word translated “world”
should be rendered “age”)” (Matt. 13:39). And in a
similar way in the 49th verse of the same chapter He
teaches that the events connected with His coming should
be, “in the end of the age” thus clearly indicating that an

14

age would intervene before His second coming. In Matt.
24:4-8 our Lord Jesus tells of a long series of events, that
would take a long time for their development, and says
that even when this long series of events takes place, “the
end is not yet!’ In Matt. 28 :19, 20 and Acts 1 :6-8 our Lord
distinctly tells His disciples that they were to go and make
disciples “of all the nations/’ and that they were to be
witnesses “unto the uttermost part of the earth” which
would certainly take a long time, and which shows con-
clusively that Shailer Mathews’ assertion that “immediate-
ness” “was an essential element in their hope” of the
return of the Lord, is utterly without foundation and
exactly contrary to the facts in the case.

To show still further the utter falsity of Shailer
Mathews’ assertion that “immediateness” “was an essential
element in their hope (i.e., in the hope and teaching of
Christ and the Apostles)” it is to be carefully noted that
John tells us plainly that Jesus said to Peter, the leader of
the apostolic company, that he (i.e., the Lord Jesus) would
not come in the lifetime of Peter, and describes to Peter
just how he should die, and furthermore tells him that his
death should not come until he was old, and that conse-
quently the Lord’s coming necessarily could not occur until
Peter had grown old and died (John 20:18, 19), and further
still when John knew that some inferred from the words
of the Lord Jesus to him that John at least, would live
until the second coming of Christ, John flatly told them
that this was a total misconception of the meaning of
Jesus’ words, and that Jesus had never said nor implied
that His coming would be even in the lifetime of the
Apostle John, though he outlived all the rest of the Apostles.
This clearly shows how utterly unfounded, wild and reck-
less Shailer Mathews’ statement that “the early Christians
believed that Jesus would return during the lifetime -of
their generation,” and that “this hope is on almost every
page of the New Testament.”

In any event, if we are to discredit the teachings of
Jesus and the Apostles, as Shailer Mathews so laboriously
attempts to do in this passage and elsewhere, the question
is not what “the early Christians” may have “believed”

15

or “hoped” but what did Christ and the other authors of
the New Testament teaching actually teach. If it could be
proven that the New Testament writers and speakers
hoped and believed that Christ would come again during
their lifetime, it would not in the least militate against the
dependability and reliability of the teaching of Jesus Christ
and the inspired Apostles, unless it could be shown that
they taught that Jesus Christ would come again during
their lifetime. And not only can it not be shown that they
taught that “on almost every page in the New Testament/’
but it can be shown that they never taught it in one single
instance. Rash, wild and reckless statements cannot go
further to bolster up a hopeless cause than Shailer Mathews
has gone in the statement quoted.

On page 4, under the same head of looking “at the
Scriptural material,” Shailer Mathews caricatures in the
following way some of the teachings of our Lord Jesus
Himself and the Apostles. He says : “After the end of
that thousand years this group believed that there would be
a mighty struggle between the Christ and Satan’s forces, a
general resurrection and a judgment, when spirits would
be brought up from Sheol, a great cavern under the earth,
and taken up into the sky, when they would meet living
persons who had been ‘changed/ The righteous would be
given new bodies, and thereafter would live in eternal bliss
while the wicked would be sent back to the abyss of fire
prepared for the devil, his angels, and the giants, there to
burn forever and ever/’ There is no need for extended
comment on these words. We simply quote them to show
the spirit and temper of Shailer Mathews in this whole
discussion. It would seem as if he had been taking lessons
from Colonel Ingersol.

On page 5 Shailer Mathews says: “The entire mes-
sianic expectation in so far as it dealt with the future did
not originate with the Christians (Thus far the italics are
Shailer Mathews’). As Jews they inherited it from Judaism.
To use only one example : The idea of the thousand years
comes from the Jewish literature, such as the Book of
Enoch, written after the close of the Old Testament canon.
. . . A study of the entire literature of the Jews from

16

175 B.C. will show where the other elements of premil-
lenarianism originated.” Of course, this is an attempt to
discredit the premillenarian, and in fact all “the messianic/’
teaching of the New Testament by attributing to it an
extra biblical Jewish origin. Shailer Mathews returns to
this same attempt on page 17 where he says: “Pious Jews
wrote a considerable number of apocalypses which appeared
about 175 B.C. and continued to be written until approx-
imately 100 A.D. These apocalypses constitute a symboli-
cal and allegorical literature. Their figures of speech are
precisely those which the early Christians of the New Testa-
ment used. As time went on the tendency to literalize these
figures of speech became very pronounced as they were used
by men unaccustomed to the methods of such men as those
who wrote the Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, the
Ascension of Isaiah, and other works of this class. At last
men came to take much of this symbolism literally. This
was true of some of the early Christians.” Now this whole
implication that our Lord Jesus Christ and the inspired
Apostles (whom Shailer Mathews does not specifically
name, but speaks of only as “some of the early Christians,”
but in his entire booklet his references to the teachings which
he is seeking to discredit as being of extra-biblical Jewish
origin, are suggested by the very explicit teachings of
Christ and the Apostles) derived their teaching from Jewish
apocryphal, apocalyptic literature is absolutey false. Whether
it results from colossal ignorance or from an intentional
desire to misrepresent we will not say, though we are loath
to suspect Shailer Mathews of the latter. In any event
the implication is absolutely false and totally contrary to
the facts in the case, and if Shailer Mathews had a thorough
knowledge of this apocalyptic literature to which he refers,
and also of the Old Testament prophets, and the relation of
the New Testament teaching to the Old Testament prophets,
and if at the same time he were a thoroughly honest man,
he would never have indulged in any such insinuations.
This representation of the origin of premillennial teaching
in the New Testament is easily proven to be untrue. Some
things in the Book of Enoch, and possibly some things in
some of the other apocalyptic writings (of which by the

17

way there was no such number as Shailer Mathews implies)
may have some similarity to some of the things said by our
Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles in the New Testament
writings, but it is very shallow reasoning that jumps at
the conclusion that therefore Christ and the Apostles
derived them from the “apocalypses which appeared from
about 175 B.C. and continued to be within until approx-
imately 100 A.D.” The very evident explanation of any
similarities that may be discovered is that the zvriters of
these apocalypses were themselves saturated with Old
Testament conceptions and phraseology (The International
Standard Bible Encyclopedia, the most reliable book of
the character that there is, on page 164, speaking of these
apocalyptic writings to which Shailer Mathews refers, says :
“All these take the Book of Daniel as their model”}, and
Christ and the Apostles were also saturated with Old Testa-
ment conceptions and phraseology, and, therefore, neces-
sarily there w r ere some similarities of conception and
phraseology between the teachings of Christ and the Apos-
tles and those of these apocalyptic writings. Let any one
take the words of our Lord Jesus and the Book of Revela-
tion and other New Testament prophecies, and consult a
good book of Old Testament references (for example, The
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge), and they will soon
discover that a very large part of what Jesus said, and
what the Apostles wrote, and especially of what is con-
tained in, the Revelation, is either verbal quotation from
or clear allusion to Old Testament prophetic statements (tor
example, cf. Ezekiel, chapter 1 with Revelation, chapters
4 and 5; Ezekiel 3:3 with Revelation 10:10; Ezekiel 8:3
with Revelation 13:14, 15; Ezekiel, chapter 9 with Revela-
tion, chapter 7; Ezekiel, chapter 10 with Revelation 8:1-5).
Jesus Christ and the Apostles were undeniably saturated
with the conceptions and phraseology of the Old Testament
prophets, and their teachings were in a large measure
derived from, or at least built upon, their teachings.
But not in one single instance were their teachings built
upon the teaching of the extra-biblical apocalyptic writers
to whom Shailer Mathews attributes them. Shailer
Mathews’ assertion is not only absolutely false, but betrays

1*8

a gross ignorance of Old Testament teaching. We cordially
admit that much of the “messianic expectation in so far as
it dealt with the future did not originate with the Chris-
tians,” but on the other hand it certainly did not originate,
as Shailer Mathews slanderously affirms it did, with the
Jewish apocalyptic literature that appeared from 175 B. C.
to 10,0 A.D. It originated with those men who “spake
from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1 :21),
the Old Testament prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel,
Daniel, and others. That is to say, it originated with God,
the Holy Ghost. In this sense the teaching of Jesus Christ
and the Apostles in regard to the second coming of Christ,
is of Jewish origni, i.e., it came from the Jewish Old Testa-
ment Scriptures, which were given by inspiration of God.
But is that anything against it? As we have just seen
these “Jewish ideas” were given by inspiration of God (see
2 Pet. 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17). JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF
WAS “OF JEWISH ORIGIN/’ Shall we therefore give Him
up and accept Shailer Mathews, who is of good old New
England stock, and has studied in one American College
(Colby), and one American Theological Institute (New-
ton), and one German University (Berlin), in His place?
Yes, in this sense the premillennial doctrine is of Jewish
origin, and by the word of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself,
“SALVATION is OF THE JEWS” (Greek, “out of the Jews”),
i.e., of Jewish origin (John 4:22).

Shailer Mathews, in his determined attempt to dis-
credit the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and the
Inspired Apostles, says on page 6: “The premillenarian
says that these beliefs (i.e., as appears from the next sent-
ence, “the belief of the early Christians”) are to be used as
infallible teaching. Whatever the New Testament records
as having been the belief of early Christians he regards as
the teaching of the Bible.” This statement also is abso-
lutely false. We challenge Shailer Mathews to show any
place in which a reputable premillenarian says or suggests
that “Whatever the New Testament records as having been
the belief of early Christians” be regarded as infallible
teaching, or the teaching of the Bible. WHAT THE PRE-
MILLENARIANS SAY is, not that, “whatever the New Testa-

19

ment records as having been the belief of early Christians”
but WHAT” JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF TEACHES, AND WHAT

THE APOSTLES INSPIRED OF GOD, AS PAUL, JOHN, PETER,
ETC., TEACH, IS TO BE REGARDED “AS INFALLIBLE TEACH-
ING/’ AND “AS THE TEACHING OF THE BlBLE.” // what

the Lord Jesus Christ teaches and what the writers
of the New Testament were inspired to teach (not what
they recorded “as having been the belief of early
Christians”) is not the teaching of the Bible, what is the
teaching of the Bible? Shailer Mathews continues : “This
logically ought to include belief in a flat earth, the perpetua-
tion of slavery, the submission to rulers like Nero. Pre-
millenarians are inconsistent when they do not, as Christians
not long ago did, insist on these elements of New Testa-
ment beliefs.” May we ask where in the New Testament
are we taught to “believe in a flat earth ?” Where does the
Lord Jesus Christ, or Peter, or Paul, or John, or any New
Testament writer teach that the earth is flat? We might
ask, where do they even record that early Christians taught
that the earth was flat? Where does Jesus Christ, or Peter,
Paul, or John, or any New Testament writer teach “the
perpetuation of slavery?” The Apostle Paul did teach that
the Christian should “be in subjection to the higher powers/’
and premillenarians teach that too, and why shouldn’t they ?
Would Shailer Mathews have Christians teach Bolshe-
vism? Why should premillenarians, in order to be con-
sistent, “insist” on these (as Shailer Mathews characterizes
them) “elements of New Testament beliefs” when they are
not “elements of New Testament beliefs?” He goes on
to say: “They (i.e., premillenarians) have to resort to all
sorts of ingenious and unwarranted interpretations of the
texts to justify this misuse of scripture.” This also is
beyond a question a falsehood. If there is any one who
“resorts to ingenious and unwarranted interpretations of
the texts to justify their misuse of Scripture” it is not the
premillenarians, but the postmillenariians. Of this fact
Shailer Mathews himself is a striking illustration in this
very pamphlet in which, as we have already seen, he is so
convinced that his views cannot be maintained by taking
the Scriptures at their face value and in their evident mean-

20

ing, that he says in so many words that ‘The conception?
of these ancient men of God have to be translated into
modern conceptions.” That is to say, that for what the
Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles say, something else must
be substituted which is just the opposite of what they say.
Can “ingenious and unwarranted interpretation of texts”
go beyond that? Shailer Mathews concludes this para-
graph by saying: ‘Their (i.e., the premillenarians’) method
is more irresponsible than that which tries to prove that
Bacon wrote the plays of Shakespeare.” This statement
also is a falsehood, so palpably false that about all one
needs to do is to quote it. It is not the premillennial school
of literary critics and interpreters who are trying to prove
by methods “more irresponsible than that which tries to
prove that Bacon wrote the plays of Shakespeare” that the
books of the Bible were not written by the men whose
names they have borne for so many centuries, but the very
school of which Shailer Mathews is a leading advocate.
We do not recall ever having read a book, even by the
bitterest infidel, that was more evidently, egregiously, delib-
erately, intentionally unfair than this booklet of Shailer
Mathews. Of this fact we have sufficient evidence in the
sentences just quoted. Let us add before passing on that
the New Testament does not merely record “the concep-
tions of early Christians,” it is an entirely reliable record
of what the Lord Jesus Christ taught and what “was con-
firmed unto us by them that heard (i.e., the Apostles) ; God
also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders,
and by manifold powers, arid by gifts of the Holy Ghost,
according to His own will” (Heb. 2:3, 4). In the New
Testament God has given us as a foundation for our faith
and practice, the teaching of His Son, our Lord Jesus
Christ, and of the Apostles, to whom the Lord Jesus Christ
Himself said : “These things have I spoken unto you,
while yet abiding with you. .But the Comforter, even the
Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He
shall bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you”
(John 14:25, 26). And again: “I have yet many things
to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit
when He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He shall guide you

21

into all the truth : for He shall not speak from Himself ;
but what things soever ye shall hear, these shall He speak :
and He shall declare unto you the things that are to come”
Now which shall we accept, those things which that person
whom God accredited to be a teacher sent from God, who
spake the very words of God, by raising Him from the
dead, taught, and which the Apostles, who the same Lord
Jesus said would be guided into all the truth by the Spirit
of truth, Who should declare unto them things to come,
taught, or what Shailer Mathews is very confident is the
assured result of modern scientific investigation and philo-
sophical speculation? These recorded utterances of the
Lord Jesus Christ found in the New Testament are given
to us by thoroughly competent witnesses, who had a right
to claim, as one of them does claim in so many words, that
they had “traced the course of all things accurately from
the first,” and wrote the things that they had traced in
order that those who read the record “might know the
certainty concerning the things wherein they were
instructed” (Luke 1 :3, 4), and the accuracy of whose recol-
lection Jesus Christ Himself guaranteed by saying: “The
Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will
send in my name, He shall teach you all things and bring
to your remembrance all that I said unto you.”

On Page 7 Shailer Mathews throws out this challenge,
which is another startling illustration of his ignorance of
premillenarian literature : he says : “We challenge any pre-
millenarian to name the day (i.e., the day of our Lord’s
return), and then shall wait until that day, confident that
he is mistaken.” Of course, no intelligent premillenarian
will attempt “to name the day ;” for premillenarians stoutly,
as stoutly as any postmillennarian, affirm that the Lord
Jesus Christ has in the strictest and sternest terms forbidden
us to even try to discover the exact date of His return,
that the Lord Jesus Christ has said : “It is not for you to
know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within
His own authority” No one contends more earnestly
against this whole folly of date setting than the leading
premillenarians. The writer of the present tract has said,
repeatedly in public address and on printed page that any

22

attempt to set a date for the return of our Lord, or any
event connected therewith is most daring presumption and
an act of gross disobedience to the revealed will of God.
In his book, “What the Bible Teaches,” published in 1898
he says : “The exact time of the Coming Again of Jesus
Christ is not revealed to us.” “Calculations from the data
given in Daniel by which some try to fix the exact date of
Christ’s return are utterly unreliable. They attempt the
impossible. The statements were not intended to give us
a clue to the exact date of Christ’s return. It is part of
God’s purpose and method in dealing with men to keep
them in uncertainty on this point.” “Any teacher, who
attempts to fix the date of Christ’s return is at once dis-
credited, and it is entirely unnecessary to wade through
his calculations. God does not desire us to know just when
His Son shall return.” (What the Bible Teaches, pages
216,217). This attempt on Shailer Mathews’ part to iden-
tify premillenarianism with date setting is another illustra-
tion of the gross, egregious, deliberate and outrageous
unfairness of Shailer Mathews in his discussion of the
whole subject.

On page 10 Shailer Mathews says: “Premillenarians
miss the spirit in emphasizing the letter. In making a
mistaken Judaistic belief central they distort Christianity.
This distortion is characterized by four chief elements.
First, the premillenarian interpretation of the gospel denies
that God is capable of bringing about His victory by spir-
itual means.” This is one of the main points, if not the
main point in Shailer Mathews’ whole attack upon premil-
lenarianism. At the first glance, to the superficial thinker,
there may seem to be something in this argument of Shailer
Mathews, but if any one of average intelligence and ability
and historical knowledge will stop to reflect upon it he will
see that it is arrant nonsense. We know from history and
experience as well as from the Bible, that God has always
used material means, “force” if you please, “to bring about
His victory,” the victory of righteousness. How is God
teaching the Kaiser and the Germans (and through them
all who would cultivate a spirit of damnable and murderous
self-aggrandizement), a sorely needed lesson? Is it “by

23

(purely) spiritual means ?” Is it not by “force,” the mili-
tary forces of America and our allies ? And by so
doing it is God “reverting to physical brutality ?” Shailer
Mathews or any one else who asserts it, or implies it, is a
blasphemer. That is plain and severe speech, but it is an
inescapable fact. To be consistent Shailer Mathews should
be an extreme pacifist and demand that America should
recall her soldiers, destroy her guns and ammunition and
bring the Germans to repentance and to a just and humane
treatment of weaker nations and outraged women and
children “by spiritual means/’ Why has Shailer Mathews,
if he believes what he here implies, accepted for 1917-1918
the position of “State Secretary for War Savings for
Illinois?” Why has he left the purely “spiritual means”
of teaching for collecting money to arm, eqtiip and sustain
our “brutal” forces in the field to bringfthe Kaiser and
Germany to their senses. Fortunately Shailer Mathews
does not himself believe a word of the nonsense which he
writes, and makes the very central argument of his
pamphlet in order to bolster up a bad cause. As a matter
of historical fact is not God carrying out the purposes of
His love, and has He not carried them out through all the
history of mankind, by the intelligent and loving use of
“force?” If Shailer Mathews’ words were carried out to
their logical conclusion they would mean that we must dis-
pense with all use of force to punish offenders against right-
eousness. He calls God’s resorting to force to bring about
His loving purposes, “physical brutality,” his exact words
are: “In order to succeed he has to revert to physical
brutality.” And he goes on to say that by reverting to
force God “abandons morality and uses miraculous mili-
tarism. He turns to fire and destructive forces of imper-
sonal nature.” These are not only irrational words, they
are blasphemous words in the light of history as well as in
the light of the teaching of God’s Word. Shailer Mathews’
argument furthermore, if there were anything in it, would
make it a confession of defeat on God’s part to even punish
sin by physical force, by any use of the “destructive forces
of impersonal nature” to bring man to his senses. Shailer
Mathews’ argument carried to its logical issue would under-

24

mine not merely the Bible doctrine of premillenarianism
but the entire Bible doctrine of future retribution, or
any doctrine of retribution. To use Shailer Mathews’
own words, to use the “destructive forces of impersonal
nature” to punish sin would be to “abandon morality and
use miraculous militarism.” To so reason at the present
time would be very effective pro-German propaganda and
it would be at any time sheerest tomfoolery. Without even
reverting at all to the doctrine that the Lord Jesus Himself
clearly teaches about how God will punish sin in the here-
after, we all know God does use every day “destructive
forces of impersonal nature/’ physical disease and pain,
“to punish sin/’ and any one who accuses God of “abandon-
ing morality” in doing this may be a theological professor,
but he is also a rank blasphemer. In this very connection
Shailer Mathews deliberately caricatures, not merely pre-
millennialism, but explicit Bible teaching to hold it up to
contempt. He says: “He (i.e., God) turns to fire and
destructive forces of impersonal nature. Certain persons
will be rescued and taken up into the sky, but the earth is
to be set on fire, the people left on it are to be killed, and
after this the saints are to reign. Thus force is the final
method by which God reigns.” It is hardly necessary for
the help of any one who has any considerable knowledge
of the Bible, to say that these sneers are evidently aimed at
very explicit teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and the
Apostle Paul and others which are here caricatured in a
way they would be worthy of Colonel Ingersol, or any of
the grosser type of infidel scoffers.

On page 11 Shailer Mathews says: “Many premil-
lenarians therefore thank God that the world is growing
worse.” This statement is an evident falsehood ana a
gross slander. It is true that intelligent premillenarians,
when they see the triumph of iniquity that has been so
apparent in the past four years, are not thrown into the
abyss of utter despair and pessimism that many postmil-
lenarians were thrown into. It is true that in these things
they saw the things predicted as preceding the return of our
Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore, instead of being dis-
heartened when they saw, “upon the earth distress of

25

nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the
billows ; men fainting for fear, and for expectation of the
things that are coming on the world/’ they do just what the
Lord Jesus Christ bade us do under such circumstances,
viz., “Lift up our heads; because our redemption draweth
nigh.” They do not rejoice in these things; they see and
feel the horror of them ; they do what they can to alleviate
them, but they are not discouraged by them, because the
Lord Jesus Christ Himself predicted these things, and their
coming to pass is simply an additional guarantee of the
absolute truthfulness of the Word of God. Furthermore,
in the increasing darkness of the night they see the indica-
tion that the glorious day is at hand. Shailer Mathews asks
in the sentence following the one just quoted: ”What is
this but joy in the spiritual defeat of God?” The premil-
lenarian’s joy is not u joy in the spiritual defeat of God,”
but it is joy in the absolute certainty of God’s Word and in
the confirmation of Jesus Christ’s own claim made in con-
nection with His predictions regarding His own second
coming, that though “heaven and earth shall pass away, my
word shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35), and joy in the
indication of the soon coming of the complete triumph of
God in that glorious day when our Lord Jesus Christ Him-
self shall return according to His own proniise, and set
straight the things which men in their pride and sin have
made crooked. Shailer Mathews goes on to say : “This
sort of pessimism is unworthy of a Christian man.” This
is simply bringing forward again the oft repeated charge of
pessimism against premillenarians, but premillenarians, so
far from being pessimists are optimists of the optimists.
Even when the days grow darkest, as Shailer Mathews him-
self has just suggested, their hearts remain light, for they
know from the promises of God’s Word regarding the sec-
ond coming of Christ, that the darker the night gets the
nearer at hand the day is. The premillenarian is an opti-
mist not by deliberately shutting his eyes to the undeniable
facts of the present day confusion in politics, commercial
life, social life, and national life and international relations,
he is an optimist because he is open-eyed to the glorious*
promises of God’s Word, that all these things are simply

26

precursors of by far the brightest day in all this world’s
history.

Shailer Mathews’ second argument against premillen-
arianism is :

2. “Such a use of the Scripture (the premillenarians’
use of Scripture) leads to the denial of the application of
the gospel to social forces!’ This statement is another
false accusation. We would like to know whether Shailer
Mathews or any other postmillenarian has done more
in modern times to apply the gospel to social forces than
for example, D. L. Moody, who was an avowed and con-
sistent premillenarian, or Billy Sunday, who in all his meet-
ings in recent years has preached at least one sermon of
the most ultra-premillennial type. It would be easy to men-
tion many other prominent premillenarians who have
accomplished great things in the “application of the gospel
to social forces.” It is true that premillenarians do not
indulge in the vain hope of gospelizing social organizations
without regenerating the individual. It is true that the
premillenarian as a rule seeks to reach social forces through
reaching individuals with the saving truth of the gospel
which our Lord Jesus Christ taught, but to assert that the
premillenarian denies the application of the gospel to social
forces is to shut ones eyes to what premillenarians in this
and all other lands are doing for true and permanent social
uplift. But premillenarians are not guilty of the folly of
attempting to “regenerate the institutions of humanity and
the forces that are making history” in any other way than
by the regeneration of the individuals who “embody these
social forces.”

On page 12 Shailer Mathews says: “The hope of the
coming of the Christ is not for a moral renewal but for the
triumph of physical force.” Is this an illustration of Shailer
Mathews’ gross ignorance of premillennial teaching, or
is it an illustration of his deliberate misrepresentation ? We
confess we do not know, but anybody who is familiar with
premillennial literature knows that in their teaching “the
hope of the coming of the Christ” is to the end of the most
wonderful and thorough going “moral renewal” that the
world has ever seen. In proof of this may the writer be

27

pardoned for referring any reader to his own book on “The
Return of the Lord Jesus,” especially that part of the book
that has to do with the Results of the Return of the Lord
Jesus.

Another charge Shailer Mathews brings against pre-
millenarians is :

“Fourth, premillenarians deny that Christianity is con-
sistent with the findings of modern science particularly as
regards evolution! 3 Shailer Mathews here reveals one of
the great reasons why he is so extremely bitter against
premillenarians, and so anxious, by any kind of misrepre-
sentation, to discredit them, viz., because he is obsessed by
the idea that that form of evolutionary hypothesis which
he holds is the sum of all wisdom, and at the same time is
inconsistent with premillennial teaching. It needs only
to be said that the form of evolutionary hypothesis that
Shailer Mathews apparently holds is not “a finding of
modern science.” The evolutionary hypothesis that evi-
dently from this pamphlet is held by Shailer Mathews is
not a finding of modern science, it is speculative philosophy
and not in any proper use of the word “science.” Shailer
Mathews, in the following sentence, goes on to say : “Many
of these denials show that the writers know nothing about
evolution or the world of science.” One wonders as he
reads what Shailer Mathews says, whether he really has any
knowledge of the doctrine of evolution that is held today
by many of the leading scientists as distinguished from the
discredited and disproven and therefore rejected doctrine
of evolution that was quite widely held by scientists
twenty years ago. Shailer Mathews continues: “Such an
attack upon modern science is demanded by the central
principle of premillenarianism.” It is enough to answer
that some premillenarians undoubtedly do attack what many
of Shailer Mathews’ school are pleased to call “modern
science,” but what is not in any right use of the word
“science” at all, but various hypotheses that have not one
single scientifically observed fact upon which to build as
upon a solid foundation, and certainly no attack upon what
is really “science” is demanded by the central principle, or

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any other principle, of premillenarianism. This is simply
unfounded assertion on Shailer Mathews’ part.

If it could be shown that it is impossible to hold any
view that is clearly taught in the New Testament and at the
same time hold any theory of evolution, it would not take
the writer of the present tract long to decide whether to
abide by the teachings of a book regarding which he has
unanswerable proof that it is the Word of God (see writers
book, “The Bible and Its Christ”), or to accept a scientific
hypothesis which no careful and accurate and really scien-
tific thinker claims is proven. All really scientific writers,
even though they are ardent evolutionists, admit, just as
Thomas Huxley, one of the most enthusiastic evolutionists
that the scientific world has ever produced, admitted, that
the evolutionary hypothesis is and “always must remain”
at best “only hypothesis.” But the Bible has been proven
to be the Word of God, so we would stand by the Bible,
even if we had to give up “evolution” in any and every form
in order to do it. The trouble is that Shailer Mathews,
like many other theologians, who as a rule actually know
very little about modern science, is obsessed by the evolu-
tionary hypothesis and makes that the test of every doctrine,
scientific, philosophcial, theological, or literary. Of course,
this is an utter desertion of the modern scientific method,
and a reversion to the old a priori method of reasoning of
the dark ages before Bacon. Along the same line Shailer
Mathews says that premillenarianism “makes a cleavage
between what the premillenarian regards as the Christian
religion and real culture. Men must choose between that
Christianity and science.” But premillenarianism makes
no cleavage between the “Christian religion and real cul-
ture.” What Shailer Mathews calls “real culture” is not
real culture at all, it is a very false and ignorant and only
so-called “culture,” very like the Kultur that Shailer
Mathews imbibed when he was a student at the University
of Berlin. Men do not have to choose between the
form of Christianity represented by those who maintain
that the Bible, like any other book, should be taken at its
face value, “and science.” The choice is between an honest,
frank, open Christianity and what pretends to be “science/ 1

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but in reality is utterly out of harmony with modern scien-
tific methods. It is amusing to see the way in which the
postmillenarians, like the destructive critics, quietly assume
. that all the scholarship is with themselves. Of course, the
claim is utterly false and results either from gross ignorance
or deliberate lying, sometimes from one, sometimes from
the other.

On page 18 Shailer Mathews says : “A comparison of
the gospels shows that they even read back some of these
forms of expression (i.e., the forms of expression drawn
from the Jewish apocalyptic literature from 175 B.C. on)
into the sayings of Jesus Himself.” This statement is an
absolute falsehood. “A comparison of the gospels” shows
nothing of the kind. Any one who will take the four
gospels and study them and compare them with an unbiased
mind, without prejudice for or against their truthfulness,
will be forced to acknowledge that the life here recorded
was a life actually lived here upon earth, and not a mere
romance, and will also be forced to admit that the utter-
ances here attributed to Jesus could not have been devised
by others and put into His mouth. The attempt which
has been carried on so persistently from the time that David
Strauss published his Leben Jesu in 1833 to the present
time, to reconstruct the life of Jesus and leave out the
miraculous element and to eliminate that part of His teach-
ings which the writers did not wish to accept and keep that
part which they did wish to accept, has resulted in total
collapse and failure. And any theory such as Shailer
Mathews gives voice to here, that the many sayings of our
Lord Jesus which clearly teach a personal, visible return
of the Lord and His premillennial return, were a reading
back of ideas and forms of expression learned from other
sources into the sayings of Jesus Himself, if accepted would
discredit every saying of His that is recorded in the New
Testament. If these things that the New Testament says
that Jesus Christ taught were not taught by Him, but simply
attributed to Him, then the other sayings attributed to Him
may not have been uttered by Him, but merely attributed to
Him, and we are left without the slightest idea of what
Jesus Christ really said. We have no Lord Jesus left.

30

There is no Christ but the Christ of the Scriptures ; any
other Christ is a mere figment of the individual imagina-
tion. If we accept this theory of Shailer Mathews then
he and his school of thought have taken away our Lord,
and we know not where they have laid Him. If Shailer
Mathews is right in this statement, he has cut out the very
foundations from under his own theological seminary, or
any other theological seminary, and he ought in all honesty
and self-respect to resign his position and salary and find
some honest way of making a living. One hardly needs
to say that he is not right in this position, his position is
absolutely absurd and untenable. In the immediately fol-
lowing sentences to that just quoted Shailer Mathews says:
“They thought as Jews, just as they talked as Jews.” This
statement is another falsehood. They thought as men
inspired of God, as men to whom the Lord Jesus Christ
Himself had said : “But the Comforter, even the Holy
Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will
teach you all things, and bring your remembrance all that
I said unto you!’ A thorough study of their words, and a
comparison with the words of all others ever uttered, and
a thorough study of the words which they attributed to
Jesus will prove to any man who really wants to know and
obey the truth, that they spoke the truth and spoke as men
inspired of God and not merely “as Jews.” In the next
sentence Shailer Mathews says: “The important matter
is not what they said but what they meant by what they
said.” This utterance may seem wise, but in reality it is
consummate foolishness. The only possible way of telling
what a man meant by what he said is by what he said.
Thought is conveyed by words, and especially is it true of
men who had a right to claim that what they spoke they
spoke (f not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but
zvhich the Spirit teacheth” (1 Cor. 2:13). “They meant
by what they said” just “what they said.” The former
promulgators of the position that Shailer Mathews holds
contended that the “concept was inspired,” but the “words
were not inspired,” but Shailer Mathews goes beyond this
and tells us that their conceptions were wrong as well as
their words, and that “the conceptions (not merely the

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words) of these ancient men of God have to be translated
into modern conceptions exactly as the Hebrew or Greek
language has to be translated into English.” (P. 9). Here
we find a comparatively mild form of literary lunacy grown
into stark literary madness.

There is no need to pursue this criticism of Shailer
Mathews’ widely circulated pamphlet any further. We see
it is a continuous mass of illogical arguments, gross mis-
representations, demonstrable falsehoods, and rank blas-
phemies. The pamphlet itself is a fulfillment of the very
Scriptures which it seeks to discredit. The Apostle Peter,
inspired of God, foresaw the work of Shailer Mathews and
his class, and has plainly described him when he says :
“This is now, beloved, the second epistle that I write unto
you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere minds by
putting you in remembrance ; that ye should remember the
words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and
the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your
Apostles: knowing this first, that in the last days mockers
shall come with mockery, walking after their own lust, and
saying, Where is the promise of His coming ? for from the
day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they
were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Pet. 3:1-4).

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