THE RETURN OF THE WITCH HUNT
MAY 2004 MANIFESTO
Michael L. Flemming
© 2004 FaithchildForum.com
material used by permission from Faithchildforum.com
One of the saddest chapters in American History began in January, 1692. The residents of Salem Village and Salem Town of the Massachusetts Bay Colony became obsessed with the idea of witchcraft. They were so driven by the thought that some of their neighbors could be witches, that they began to "hunt" them down. If anything looked out of order, obviously the individual must be a witch. What to do with a witch? Well, when it was all over, nineteen men and women died by hanging, one man was crushed to death, seventeen others died in prison and lives of many area residents were changed forever.
What started this blemish on the past of humanity? The daughter and the niece of a local minister became ill and were diagnosed by Dr. William Griggs as 'bewitched' or possessed of the devil. This proclamation birthed suspicion and fear in the hearts of area residents. It was brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor. Confusion and terror reigned until order finally settled in the distraught locality.
This scene has been repeated a number of times as our nation developed. Most notably during the McCarthy era when the United States was obsessed with the cold war, and who might possibly be a communist. The witch hunt reached a point of perfection during Senator McCarthy's hearings when even comedienne Lucille Ball was accused of being a communist. Her husband, Desi Arnaz, made the comment in his autobiography, "The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even it is fake." Lucy colored her hair red. Finally, the furor subsided, and we unified as a nation. Don't look now, though. The witch hunt is making a comeback.
The doctrine of partial preterism seems to be on the rise in the Apostolic ranks. It has caused many to search out what they believe concerning Bible prophecy. Some are stronger now in what they believe, while others have accepted this seemingly "new" doctrine. Still others have become incensed towards partial preterism and the proponents thereof, even to the point of character assassination. Oh, yes. The witch hunt is on.
How do I know that a witch hunt is on? Heretic! Blasphemer! Those are the words I see daily in email I receive. The problem is, I am not a preterist. My personal belief, which I will not push on you, the reader, except for purpose of information, is that of a pre-tribulation rapture. I believe strongly that you do not find the church mentioned after Revelation Chapter Four! I believe in a resurrection because Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:19, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." (KJV) I am glad there is something to look forward to beyond this existence!
The question has been posed to me, "If you are not a preterist, then why do you not make a stand against this doctrine and the men who teach it?" Well, if that is what you want me to do, then fine. Just know in advance, because I am pre-trib in nature, I would then have to make a stand against the post-trib doctrine and the men that teach that, including a fellow Hoosier. You see, according to my belief, if I followed the line of thinking the witch hunters do, the post-trib believers would be heretics proclaiming false doctrine, also. I will be glad to make a stand anytime you are ready to deal with the fallout!
Oh, wait a minute! That's not fair, you say? Then you would be right, it isn't fair. It wasn't meant to be fair. It was meant to illustrate a point of concern I have at the direction this witch hunt is going. Other than a few scholarly men of principle who grace the Faithchild discussion board (men like Kansas UPC, Kansas Preacher, Parson and men who have approached this topic like they do, ie. with a kind spirit and scholarly approach), the majority of feedback I receive is of a negative spirit. Mis-statements, mis-quotes, and outright lies abound. Are we willing to condemn some men who have been valued members of the Body of Christ on hearsay alone? Are you willing to ‘put someone in hell' because you heard they teach thus and so? Get a grip and get it soon.
Wait! I saw it in the book! Usually, this is a reference to the book written by Larry T. Smith, and mailed to the entire constituency of the UPCI as well as members of other groups and independents. Some have told me that Pastor Smith outright says in his book that he does not believe in a yet to come rapture or a yet to come resurrection. When asked if they actually read the book, the majority said to me that no, they hadn't. Bro. so and so told them. Here is the problem. Not only have I read the book, but I was also one of the first persons to read the manuscript before the book was published. You will not find one reference anywhere in the book where Pastor Smith says he does not believe in a coming resurrection or coming rapture. Do I agree with all of his conclusions? No. There is something else I do not agree with. Attacking the messenger instead of the message. When you attack a man's character, and say he says things he never said, you become a tale bearer, and an accuser of the brethren. That is a legacy I want no part of.
Well, it isn't a witch hunt! You are paranoid! Really? Then why do I receive constant communication doubting my character for not refusing to publish the articles? Why do I constantly receive phone calls and email that defame the character of proven ministers? Rather than taking a scholarly approach, many are taking potshots at the messengers of preterism and not the message itself. If you have a problem with the message, you have the right to feel the way you do. But to commit murder with the tounge? Maybe we should look at it in the following context:
Acts 5:29-39, "Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." (KJV)
Maybe we should look at it like the wise teacher Gamaliel. If partial preterism is of God, it will stand and nothing can be done to stop it. If it is not of God, then no amount of promotion, finance, or personality can make it spread. It will die in it's tracks, with no evidence left behind.
What drove early colonists to murder innocent people just on hearsay and gossip? Fear and suspicion of what they didn't understand. What drives brethren to each others throats over prophetical teachings? Fear and suspicion of motives they don't understand. Oh yes, the witch hunt has returned. How many will be sent to the gallows this time without cause?
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