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Thread: Chiliasm/non-chiliasm in early Christianity

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    Chiliasm/non-chiliasm in early Christianity

    Over the past few months, I've conducted some research and have discovered proofs of both chiliastic and non-chiliastic thought in early Christianity, from post-apostolic times up to the time of Augustine. Would like to discuss this with someone and compare notes....


    thanks
    Jason

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    Re: Chiliasm/non-chiliasm in early Christianity

    From everything I have read on this matter, the 'early' post-apostolic writings addressing the question (that we have preserved) are Chiliastic. As issues of dogma progressed beyond that point, various teachers began to deny Chiliasm. Augustine systematically denied it.

    None of this should surprise us, since the second century 'fathers' also taught free-willism. Free-will and Chiliasm were bedfellows. Only later do we find a return to SOME form of a doctrine of predestination. The doctrines of Gus still did not return to the Pauline teaching on election, however.

    I definitely believe Chiliasm was an extension of sacramentalism. The eschatological mixture of 'flesh and spirit' was an extension of the notion that the exalted material (yet spiritual) body of Christ unites with fleshly elements.

    That is all I have by way of introduction. If you have more observations I am certainly willing to discuss them.

    In the true gospel,
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: Chiliasm/non-chiliasm in early Christianity

    Bill,


    I did notice a lot of 'free-willism' in many of the early church writings as I was doing my research. Was there anybody who talked about election before Augustine's time?


    Here are some notes I've compiled so far:


    One particular doctrine that appears, probably after 120 AD, in some of the early Christian writings is a belief that the souls of the righteous do not immediately go to be in the presence of the Lord but, rather, go to what I would call the 'Paradise compartment' of Hades, awaiting the return of Christ. That belief, along with others, came from outside the Bible--specifically, from Jewish sources (some of those works comprise what we now call the Apocrypha) I also wonder if this helped lay some of the groundwork for a doctrine that would later appear in the Church of Rome called purgatory.

    Of some of the earliest Christian writings that have survived--such as from Polycarp, Ignatius and Mathetes--there is no hint of any chiliasm; later church historians, like Eusebius, Jerome and Gennadius, omit names such as these from their lists of 'chiliasts,' and I imagine that they had access to documents that, while extant then, are not around with us now, since they have been long lost.


    Justin Martyr had a dialogue with a Jewish man named Trypho in the mid-2nd century, and at one point, Trypho asks his opinion regarding the millennium and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and part of Justin's response to him was that there were those of "the pure and pious faith" who believed otherwise (more than likely, were non-chiliasts). This statement is significant because it was made only about 50 years or so after the Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation (around 95 AD). Since Justin lived in Asia Minor, I would imagine that many of those non-chiliasts lived in that region, too.

    Augustine of Hippo was actually a premillennialist until later in his life, when he obtained some writings by a North African Donatist named Tyconius, who wrote some notes on the Apocalypse around 380 AD. Augustine opposed the Donatists, but adopted many of Tyconius's ideas, particularly on Revelation 20.

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    Re: Chiliasm/non-chiliasm in early Christianity

    Very good observations, Jason! I would also agree that the very earliest post-apostolic 'fathers' do not mention the doctrine of a fleshly millennium. It was common from Justin forward, however.

    Also, your research about where Augustine got is anti-Chiliastic doctrine is very significant. I will have to look in to it further. This shows that there must have still been a tradition of anti-Chiliasm in 4th century Christian circles. The interesting thing is that if such a tradition existed, it was AGAINST the published writings of the 2nd and 3rd century neo-Platonists. Gus was also a neo-Platonist, I'm very sad to say. I do believe that Gus was a genuine Christian who tried to sort things out, but had so much garbage to throw out from the earlier neo-Platonist compromisers that he could only go so far in reforming things.

    Was there anybody who talked about election before Augustine's time

    No one of 'published' fame after the apostles. A horrible tragedy and consequence of the great apostasy. This is one of the clear evidences that the apostles' doctrine (Acts 2:42) was compromised very early in the history following the death of Paul.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: Chiliasm/non-chiliasm in early Christianity

    BillTwisse: Free-will and Chiliasm were bedfellows.

    Can you elaborate, Bill?

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    Re: Chiliasm/non-chiliasm in early Christianity

    Dear Jason,

    You wrote:

    "Over the past few months, I've conducted some research and have discovered proofs of both chiliastic and non-chiliastic thought in early Christianity, from post-apostolic times up to the time of Augustine. Would like to discuss this with someone and compare notes....


    thanks
    Jason"

    I did a lot of research on this subject and so did others. Here are some of our articles on the subject you discuss plus some other chiliasm/futurist threads:

    "premillennialism (and futurism) in the ancient church" at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=36902

    "The apparent futurist eschatology of the Apostle John's disciples and its relevancy" at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=36762

    "It appears the earliest church fathers were premillienists and futurists plus..." at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=35528

    "Was Origen's very non-literal interpretation of Scripture/prophecy invalid?" at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38125

    "Historic premillennialism/dispensational premillennialism. Deciding what to accept" at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38016 (I wish to add that this thread will have further postings as time goes on. Please make sure you read post #21 thru post #23).

    "Is premillienal futurism with post tribulation rapture "problem free"?" at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38175

    "Human ignorance/obstinancy and why there are too many eschatologies" at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38333

    "How many historical accounts of great signs and wonders done by false Christs?" at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=39486

    "Mathew 24: 34, What does it mean?" at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=39215

    "What does "at hand" and "quickly" mean in Revelation regarding Jesus's return?" at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=39487

    "Eschatology: Why did you pick your eschatology position? Is assurance possible? Misc." at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38471

    "To Ken: Tertullian" at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38472

    "Peacocks, giraffes, deep sea creatures and futurist eschatology" at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38177

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