This is the full posting of my review of John Schofield's book "Philip Melanchthon And The English Reformation
This book and the contents have not been properly treated. There are several mysteries in the life of Martin Luther that are not revealed. I am not sure who has all the necessary information to certify important events. For many years I have been trying to discover when Luther switched from being a preterist to being a historicist. This book does not clear up this question.
In preterism the Church age was from 30-70AD and then there was a resurrection and a rapture. So the Church is gone. All that pertains to the Church and Christians has been concluded. The special doctrines and teachings have all produced and kept the Church to its rapture. Then in 70AD preterist claim the millennial kingdom began. This spiritualized 1000 years would last until the end of the world regardless if it was 2000 or even 3000 years in the future. But more importantly, within preterism the great tribulation is past, taking place between 63AD and 70AD. The 7 seals are already opened and fulfilled. The 7 trumpets already fulfilled. The 7 bowls of wrath fulfilled. The great whore has been burned (Jerusalem). And the antichrist (Nero) is long past. The resurrection of the dead in Christ has already taken place. And the rapture already over. The New Testament Church is in heaven at the banquet with Jesus. The Lord's Supper is no more, it was to last until Jesus came and he came in 70AD. The Holy Spirit is no more as a comforter or as a baptism (Acts 2:1-4), because Paul said it would last until the coming of Jesus (1Cor 1:7). All this being past (which is what preterist means), the millennial kingdom began.
This picture brings me to this book. I was looking for the evidences that Luther was a preterist and he believed all those things were indeed past, accomplished, and the Church was in heaven. I did find in another writing of his he was amillennial. Which is the millennial view of preterism. I did find he was an Augustinian monk and Augustine was the greatest teacher on preterism. So my conclusion is that Martin Luther was a preterist. But, this was all to change when he got angry on the selling of indulgences to build St Peter's Basilica in Rome. This was on October 31, 1517.
In this year he posted his 95 Thesis on the Catholic church door in Whittenburg. In 1518 he wrote a letter to pope Leo calling him "most blessed father." Clearly he was still Catholic and an amillennial preterist. In his 95 Thesis there is no hint of historicism. No where does he call the pope the antichrist. No where does he call the Catholic church the great whore (both of which are historicist doctrines). While Luther was going through some changes in his beliefs about salvation, he did not leave the Catholic church, he was excommunicated in 1521. This is when Melanchthon comes into the picture. He supported Luther's claims against indulgences. In 1524 Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio tried to convince him to forsake Luther. He did not. Melanchthon claimed Luther was only rejecting papal and ecclesiastical practices. Indeed in 1520, three years after his posting of the 95 Thesis, he wrote to pope Leo and called him "most blessed father." But something happened when he and Mtlanchthon teamed up. Luther began to change his eschatoligical views. He adopted the theories of the historicist. He rejected his prior preterist beliefs although he hung on to his amillennialism. He came to see the antichrist as the pope and Rome as the great whore. Thus, he made the switch to the historicist camp.
In 1526 Luther agreed that the Catholic churches could have their own mass rituals, their own convents for nuns, their own parishes, and their own religious orders (his was Augustinian). In 1526 he wrote that the "missae in latin I do not want set aside or change," In the same writing he said he did not want: "the latin tongue to disappear out of divine service." He sent out his doctrine that: "the ten commandments, the creed (Nicene), and the Lord's Prayer, were all Christians need to know."
It is important in the study of Melanchthon to determine if he was the one who converted Luther to his new historicist eschatology. It is also important to know if Luther retained his preterist doctrine that the Church age ended in 70AD and the millennial began. This is important because the researcher needs to know if Luther's "the just shall live by faith" was a new millennial doctrine of salvation or did he believe now the Church age did not end in 70AD and this new revelation applied to the New Testament Church? I am of the opinion he believed this was the salvation doctrine of the millennial kingdom borrowed from the writings of Paul which were for the Church which preterist claim went to heaven in 70AD.
As late as 1531, Luther was still arguing about the Lord's Supper, if it was symbolic or literal. He claimed he could bite the body of Jesus when he put the bread into his mouth. The only disagreement I have found between Luther and the papacy on the Lord's Supper, is he believed the laity should be able to drink from the Communion Cup.
Then, I read in Luther's writings that he believed the "grace of God" could be received through the sacraments. He said after his departure from the Catholic church that the sacraments offers grace, forgiveness, and salvation. Luther saw his "the just shall live by faith" was meant to mean the just shall live by the sacraments.
The only thing I could get about Luther claiming the Catholic church was Babylon, was in his statement in 1530 in his "Babylonian Captivity of The Catholic church." But in this he did not call the Catholic church Babylon, only compared it to Israel in exile in Babylon.
I now come to part of my purpose of writing this review. Melanchthon was an amillennialist. This means he was a preterist. Now when did he likewise switch to the historicist camp. And if he likewise, along with Luther, saw "the just shall live by faith" to be a rejection of papacy millennial policies and doctrines, was he saying with Luther that he was correct that the millennial church should have a doctrine more in line with the Church before 70AD?
When I read their writings it seems they viewed faith for the millennial to have the same effect as faith would have had for the Christians in the Chruch that went to heaven in 70AD. Their use of faith for this millennial kingdom would be the same as the Church during 30-70AD using the faith of the Old Testament worthies for their faith before the rapture.
Since I am convinced preterism and amillennialism are false, I have rejected the theory the Church was raptured to heaven in 70AD. This forces me to abandon all Protestant reformation relgions as nothing more than a revolt against Rome and the preterist millennial religious system. So, I have gone back to the New Testament, grabbed the Acts 2:38 plan of salvation Peter preached, restored the doctrines of the first Church, and adopted the future post-tribulation coming of Jesus. Futurism as it relates to the New Testament Church and a coming resurrection and rapture is still Bible truth.
Dr. Gary Reckart