One must be careful when studying history – for history can be likened to a wild tiger with sharp teeth and bared claws.
I recently discovered this “dangerous” side of history while researching the theological history of the physical millennial kingdom of Jesus.
What was this “dangerous” item found in the dusty manuscripts of old?
It is the knowledge that in 381 A.D. the Church Fathers gathered in Constantinople and declared that the pre-millennialism view of Revelation chapter 20 is a heresy.
Yes – you read that right.
The hugely popular pre-millennialism view of eschatology promoted throughout the world by the Protestant church was declared a heresy by the SAME guys who canonized the New Testament!!!
Talk about sharp teeth… that simple fact changes a lot of things… It also brings up a TON of questions… like, why don’t Protestant theologians talk about this council in their commentaries on Revelation? The only reason I found out about it was through reading an Eastern Orthodox commentary… =/
Personally, I think the reason we don’t hear about it in Protestant circles is because most Protestants discount and/or throw always all the early church councils. They cry out “sola scripture” without realizing that they are fighting all the SAME battles the early church fought 1500+ years ago!
Yet, instead of listening to the wisdom of the Church Fathers, Protestants tend to pick and choose which doctrines or decisions they will or will not accept. Granted, there came a time with the Church councils started going off track – but that should not stop us from looking at the early councils BEFORE they went bad.
Note: Most of Christianity (Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican) accepts the first seven church councils – which happened between 325 to 787 A.D.
Going back to the question of pre-millennialism – it is worth nothing that it was the SECOND Church Council who declared it as heresy and accepted amillennialism as Church doctrine. This was not a renegade council full of heretics – it was a decision made by the same people who 16 years later canonized the Bible (397 A.D.).
Armed with this knowledge, the question now becomes:
“If we trust the Church Fathers with picking which letters to include in the Bible, why don’t we trust them with items pertaining to eschatology?”
My point in all this?
Mainly that history has teeth – and that it would do us all good to look at what our Fathers taught and debated. It could help stop a lot of problems and disagreements.
Something to thing about…