THE TIMES OF THE SIGN - Christian Gedge

One of the reasons why there are so many end-time scenarios is explained by how we read prophetic scripture relative to history. One student may be reading a passage in Revelation and say, "Look! That verse is speaking about the Muslim hordes during the Middle Ages." This way of looking at prophecy is called Historicist because it looks back in time and interprets prophetic scripture as gradually being fulfilled during the Church age.

Another person, commenting on the same verse says, "This concerns a world conflict that is about to happen in the near future!" This system of interpretation is called Futurist because it looks forward in time and places most of Revelation as prophecy in latter days yet to come. There is also the Preterist view.

However it's not my intention to argue the details of these mind-set's here except to say, that's what prophecy is - history in advance! And it was while I was doing a thesis on Church history that I noticed a most interesting thing. There was a curious convergence of data to the middle of the nineteenth century. I thought to myself, "It's a sign; either that or a coincidence." What do you make of it?

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Historical root of Spiritualism

Most commentators identify 1848, when the Fox sisters first communicated with spirits of the dead, as the beginning of modern Spiritualism. Certainly it was these spirit 'rappings' that catapulted Spiritualism into the headlines.

However the precise beginning of this nefarious evil was in the person of Andrew Jackson Davis, Return to top often referred to as the 'John the Baptist' of modern Spiritualism. His crisis experience - overcome by a 'power' then transported to nearby mountains where he received his instructions from the spirits of Galen and Swedenborg - was the defining event that birthed Spiritualism. The date - 1844.

Time of the Sign: 1844 - 1848


Historical root of Christian Science

Mary Baker Eddy discovered the 'divine laws of life' in 1866 and founded the Christian Science Church in 1879. Some say that she didn't discover it at all, but that the ideas were plagiarized from Phineas Quimby, a hypnotist and mind healer who began practicing in the early 1840's. Of course, Christian Science denies this.

A fascinating little insight concerning the origins of this 'revelation' comes from Mrs. Eddy herself in the Christian Science Journal, June 1887. She wrote, "As long ago as 1844 I was convinced that mortal mind produced all disease, and that the various medical systems were in no proper sense scientific."

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Did this have something to do with her spinal condition which developed after the birth of her first child that year? We don't know. What we do know is that 'mind over matter' is the central tenet of Christian Science doctrine and this is when she said she got it.

Time of the Sign: 1844 - 1866


Historical root of the New Age

The occultic side of New Age is simply Theosophy repackaged for 20th-century users. Theosophy was founded by Spiritualist medium Helena Blavatski who describes how she met her 'master and guardian on the spiritual plane' in 1851. Almost all early Theosophists were Spiritualists, the difference being that Theosophy offered a more high-brow explanation of spirit phenomena. Thus New Age is a reincarnation of Theosophy which is a reincarnation of Spiritualism.

The philosophic side stems from 'Transcendentalism.' Just like New Age today, a loose knit collection of intellectual elite, reacting against the coldness of rationalism, wanted a less materialistic more intuitive style of spirituality, but minus the evangelical concepts of Christ and his cross.

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Although eclectic and individualistic, in so far as 'Transcendentalism' had a central voice, 'The Dial' (1840 - 1844) may be considered its organ. For example, Elizabeth Peabody published in 'The Dial' the first English translation of a Buddhist Sutra in 1844.

Time of the Sign: 1840 - 1851


Historical root of the Baha'i Faith

The Baha'i faith originated in Iran in the Islamic calendar year of 1260. In that year a young man who called himself the Bab (or 'gate') began to teach that God would soon make manifest a World Teacher to unite men and women and usher in an age of peace.

Twenty years later Baha'ullah arrived declaring himself to be the chosen Manifestation of God for this age. Baha'i's trace the beginning of their faith to the Bab's prophecy of 1260, Return to topa time number which also carries profound significance in biblical prophecy.

When converted to the Gregorian calendar AH 1260 turns up an interesting equivalent - AD 1844

Time of the Sign: 1844


Historical root of the 7th Day Adventism

Through the 1830's William Miller, a Baptist minister, had been predicting the return of Christ and the end of the world. Using charts based on Daniel's prophecy, Miller pinpointed March 21, 1844 as the date and attracted wide spread attention. Huge numbers followed him.

1844 came but Christ did not, so Miller adjusted his date to October 22nd. Midwest Christianity stirred with anticipation as the dread event loomed, but again Christ failed to appear. 'The Great Disappointment' set in and most of his followers forsook him. People railed on them for their folly and mental asylum's swelled.

Struggling to make sense of all this, founder of the Seventh Day Adventist offshoot, Return to topEllen White, said that Christ had indeed come, but not to earth: he had come to a 'Heavenly Sanctuary' to complete the work of atonement.

Wrong again Sister White!  But what did happen in 1844?

Time of the Sign: 1844


Historical root of the Watchtower

Doctored 'Jehovah's Witness' history construes the facts to say it was founded by Charles Russell in 1872. But Russell was actually a Seventh day Adventist member through the 1870's and was even assistant editor to one of their magazines until he broke from them and started publishing the 'Watchtower' in 1879.

The organization is cagey about the extent to which their fountain spring is Seventh-day Adventism. Nevertheless his chronological prophetic system was essentially Adventist. His invisible second coming idea belonged to Nelson Barbour, an Adventist. His preferred New Testament, the 'Emphatic Diaglott' was translated by Benjamin Wilson, an Adventist. His doctrines of hell and future life came from George Storrs who formulated the 'conditional immortality' doctrine and introduced it to Return to topAdventist's and Christadelphians as early as 1842.

Today's 'Watchtower' will argue black and blue about this, but their true origin is not Adam and Eve, or the Apostles or even Charles Russell!

Time of the Sign: 1844 - 1872


Historical root of the Christadelphians

It was the American Civil War that prompted Dr. John Thomas and his ecclesia's to formerly adopt the name 'Christadelphians' in 1861. This was because conscientious objectors to military service had to be affiliated to a recognized religious body.

However the, 'Thomasites' as they were called, had started earlier than this. He had emigrated to America from England in 1832 at which time he joined the Disciples of Christ. But Thomas soon saw himself as 'wiser than his teachers', rejecting the Trinity and developing ideas of conditional immortality and other heresies.

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In 1844 he broke with the 'Disciples' and began publishing his periodical, 'Herald of the Future Age' in the same year. He also had close association with Adventist's during this time. By 1848 Thomasite groups were forming in America and Britain.

Time of the Sign: 1844 - 1848


Historical root of the British Israelism

British Israel (or Anglo-Israelism) is an elitist theory that confers a special relationship between God and English-speaking nations. Its most notable proponent in recent times was Armstrong's Church of God who spread this and other false teachings through highly efficient media such as, Radio Church of God, Plain Truth Magazine, and The World Tomorrow television program. His Church of God influenced numbers far in excess of their size.

Other splinter groups hold British Israel doctrine but the common denominator is a small Millerite group called the Church of God (7th Day) which evolved alongside the 7th Day Adventist Church.

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The source of Anglo Israelism was the publication, 'Our Israelitish Origin', by John Wilson in 1840. It was introduced to the Adventist movement by George Storrs (who also dreamed up 'Soul Sleep') and spread down to the 20th-century through the Church of God (7th Day)

Time of the Sign: 1840


Historical root of Mormonism

The Mormon Church was founded by Joseph Smith in 1830 and grew steadily during his lifetime. Its headquarters was at Nauvoo Illinois, the leadership being the 'Quorum of Twelve Apostles' with Smith as Prophet-President.

He was assassinated by an angry mob in 1844 and Brigham Young, as president of the Quorum, took the reins of the Church.

A crown of martyrdom was woven around Smith's memory, but it was Brigham Young's powerful leadership that created the L.D.S. as we know it today. He relocated the group to Utah where he exercised supreme control, and his genius led to its phenomenal growth.

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Thus Smith's death and Young's succession was pivotal, and historians (Mormon and non-Mormon) recognize 1830 & 1844 as having equal importance in the formation of this cult.

Time of the Sign: 1830 - 1844


Historical root of Higher Criticism

Higher Criticism is not a cult. It is a system of analyzing biblical text. This in itself is all right except that modern biblical critics have approached holy scripture without respect, presupposing that what was in their hands was no more inspired than any other text, and that the supernatural elements of the Bible must have been a myth.

The architects of Higher Criticism were Professors Vatke and Reuss who quietly fed their ideas to students through the 1830's to 1860's. In 1865 H.K. Graf, a disciple of Reuss, published his mentor's system at the University of Strasburg.

However the Graf-Wellhausen school, which stemmed from this, had influence far beyond a few German universities. Return to topClaiming to be impartial, they were in truth, hostile to Christianity. To this day their arrogant speculations have provided the ammunition for liberal seminaries and faith killing TV documentaries designed to undermine the reliability of the Word of God.

Time of the Sign: 1834 - 1865


Historical root of Evolution

It may come as a surprise to many that 'Origin of the Species' was not the origin of the theory of evolution. In the year when Darwin wrote his draft another book appeared called 'Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation.' It created a sensation for two reasons - its radical new concept of transmutation, and it's authorship. There was none. He refused to reveal his name!

When Darwin finally published 'Origins' in 1859 he acknowledged the importance of the first publication, saying, "Vestiges had done excellent service in calling attention to evolution, in removing prejudice, and in thus preparing the ground..." But still, no sign of the author.

Darwin continued to propound his theories and evolution became widely accepted, doing immeasurable damage to the biblical understanding of creation. But who would have guessed that the seminal ancestor of evolution was really Return to topRobert Chambers of Chambers Encyclopedia fame? His secret authorship became known only after his death.

And when did 'Vestiges' transmute into printed form? October 1844.

Time of the Sign: 1844 - 1859


Historical root of Communism

From the Russian revolution in 1917 until its collapse at the end of the 20th-century, Communism came closer to world dominion than any power since the Roman Empire. Overtly atheistic, many Christians caught in its clutches believed the system to be the 'Antichrist.' Were they right?

Communism was formulated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels who wrote extensively from 1840 onwards, the best known works being 'Communist Manifesto' (1848) and 'Das Kapital.' (1867)

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We could mention many others but according to Encyclopedia Britannica the 'Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844' were the writings in which Karl Marx first set forth his economic and philosophical ideas, but which remained unpublished during his lifetime.

Time of the Sign: 1844 - 1867


Historical root of Anarchy

When someone says Anarchy it conjures up a picture of skin heads shouting mindlessly and smashing windows. In actual fact Anarchy and Nihilism are carefully thought out philosophies spawned in the era under discussion.

Anarchy seeks a society whose operation is based on the free agreement of individuals rather than on submission to law and authority. Extreme right-wing political and free market economic systems are, though they don't wear the label, anarchist. They are a reaction to excessive controls and authoritarian leadership. Nevertheless when anarchy reigns, nothing reigns, and destruction follows. Return to topWhen the Church is infected by this, the only antidote is humble servant leadership.

The founding document of this thinking is 'The Ego and its Own' by Max Stirner (1844) followed by 'Philosophy of Anarchism.' (1845)

Time of the Sign: 1844 - 1845


Implications

Why is it that every modern false doctrine finds its fountainhead at approximately the same time? One would expect that their separate histories would be more random. It could be argued that some of the millennial cults were just different off-shoots of the same Millerite movement. But that doesn't account for the Gnostic cults, totally un-connected, yet whose origins share the same date. And would Karl Marx have been a happy bedfellow?

We would be making the same mistake ourselves if we tried to hook up a timeline to this period. That is what the old historicists got themselves into trouble for in the first place. However, it cannot help but be noticed how St. Paul said, "The Spirit clearly says that in latter times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." (1 Timothy 4:1)

Church History

Read more about Church history in the light of Bible prophecy



And when the disciples asked, "What will be the sign ... of the end of the age?" Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many." (Matthew 24:4) He spoke of an era - a last days - when false 'christs' would infiltrate and undermine the faith of many. Has this era come? The view of this author is that we have been given a sign that we live in such a time.

Admittedly there has been too much sign-seeking, but in recent years a reaction against extremism has led some to say endtime scriptures were fulfilled in the events of AD 70. Obviously not all, as this research shows. It is clear that our modern times were alluded to in the prophetic writings.

The main thing of course, is that we live faithful lives in expectation of Jesus' returning; that is elementary. But it is sobering to also be aware how we now live in the 'times of the sign.'