Bulletin of Prophetic Historicism
5 February 2017 Editor and Proprietor
Edwin de Kock
The editor/proprietor assumes responsibility for his own contributions. He is not, however, responsible or liable for the ideas expressed in pieces by other writers, also sometimes mentioned or cited.
A blessed 2017 to you and your loved ones.
Here in the United States, Thanksgiving signals the onset of a tremendous buying frenzy; but for a small, serious prophetic Bible ministry like ours it becomes a period of suspended animation, so to speak. Yet during these months of economic drought the Lord sustained us wonderfully with encouraging Christmas cards and letters, a few of which even contained some of the green stuff. We received one or two orders that cemented instant and wonderful friendships. From down under (Australia), for instance, we got a very special marsupial on a dainty card, in a beautiful handwriting, from a precious 84-year-old who is still giving Bible studies!
How our hearts reach out to you and long for the day when we will be able to talk face to face with those we may never have met, or only briefly, yet loved deeply. We trust your festive season was richly blessed, and pray that the new year will be one of daily growing closer to our Prince of Peace. May our fight against cancer, poverty, monstrous skeletal pain, whatever is taking the joy or even the brain cells out of life, help us to reflect more fully the glory of the King of the Universe. While we suffer in this broken world, our Savior sits by us to ensure we are not consumed by the refiner’s fire. We treasure your friendship, such a great reward, but we also love hearing from you.
On 26 December 2016, we quietly celebrated our 62nd wedding anniversary. As a husband, Edwin appreciates the fact that it is the day after Christmas, and therefore not easy to forget. After that, we slipped into 2017. A little more than a month from now, he will on 9 March be 87 years of age. So far as we can tell, the status of his health has not changed. Apart from his work on prophetic interpretation, he is trying to finish La Konflikto de la Epokoj (The Conflict of the Ages), his epic poem in Esperanto. When 5 April comes around again, it will be Ria’s turn for a birthday anniversary, which she does not like to think about, since for a woman the calendar is an enemy.
And so, at times, is the normally beneficent sun. She recently had surgery on her left arm to remove a skin cancer, the penalty for a life time working in one of her beloved gardens, planted wherever we have gone. The stitches, which at first were very painful, must still be taken out. She also frets because she can no longer, at 80, do as much as when she was 18. But Edwin thinks she is wonderful and tells her not to drive herself so hard.
Our two sons, their wives, and our grandchildren are generally doing well. Edwin, Jr., is due to graduate from his medical course at Loma Linda University in May, before embarking on his residency. He will also be getting married. Rose, with a Psychology major, is working on her bachelor’s degree. Their brother Joseph, a meteorologist with the United States air force, is in England after a spell in Kuwait. He is pondering his future, which may include additional studies.
Two weeks ago, our dear friends Lindsey and Myrna Greene flew from snowy Colorado to visit us here for a few days in subtropical southernmost Texas. We greatly enjoyed their presence and stimulating conversation about our Lord and Saviour. Lindsey, a Seventh-day Adventist Jew, brought with him fascinating insights into the Word of God. He, in turn, was enthralled to see and dip into a very special publication that Ria was reading from with great enjoyment.
Citing Edwin’s Books
Norman R. Gulley, Ph.D., research professor in Systematic Theology at Southern Adventist University, has written many books and numerous articles. Last year, he completed his masterpiece, the fourth volume of his Systematic Theology. Entitled The Church and the Last Things [τα έσχατα, ta eschata], it is Seventh-day Adventist eschatology at its best.
He obtained his doctorate in Systematic Theology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, during 1970. This discipline differs from an unorganized study of doctrines. It deals with them comprehensively one by one and their interrelationships. For instance, some denominations’ belief in a physical resurrection at the Second Coming needs to be harmonized (if it can be) with the idea that a human being goes to heaven as a disembodied spirit immediately upon death. Or the doctrine of a predestined eternally burning hell should be set off against the teaching that God is love. For Gulley, a Biblical system unfolds the worldview of the cosmic controversy, in which Christ and Calvary are central. All doctrines are understood in this context.
One day, while he was standing in the Edinburgh University library, he realized that Seventh-day Adventists lacked a Systematic Theology, even though they have a variety of doctrinal beliefs. Then came a conviction that he should write a system. He sensed it was a call from God and promised he would try. That was almost fifty years ago. In 2016, after massive research, scrutinizing Seventh-day Adventist as well as Protestant and Catholic publications, he completed this project. It is now a set of four magnificent hardcover volumes, totaling more than 3000 pages. From start to finish, his modus operandi has been to base everything in them exclusively on the Bible. Though Gulley believes in and cherishes the Spirit of prophecy, which he deals with in the proper place, he never in this work quotes from the writings of Ellen G. White to prove a theological point, since doing so would violate the principle of Sola Scriptura. He naturally also shuns human philosophy.
The Church and the Last Things (2016) comprises 861 pages. In it, his sources include three of Edwin’s books: Christ and Antichrist in Prophecy and History, Seven Heads and Ten Horns in Daniel and the Revelation, and The Truth about 666 and the Story of the Great Apostasy. Gulley strongly endorses the interpretation that the 666 of Revelation 13:17, 18 refers to vicarius Filii Dei, a papal title, just as Uriah Smith concluded.
This is the most prestigious endorsement which Edwin’s books have ever received. For his part, Gulley has been warmly endorsed by several authorities, both in and outside our Church. For instance, George R. Knight asserts that “Gulley’s massive contribution will form a starting place for research and discussion for years to come” and David S. Dockery, President of Trinity International University, says: “With the completion of the fourth volume of his massive systematic theology project, Norman Gulley has solidified his place as the premier Adventist theologian of our day.”
Here are the other titles in this series: Prolegomena (the importance of Scripture and its interpretation), Creation, Christ, Salvation; and God As Trinity. Together with The Church and the Last Things, they are—among other things—an antidote against many theological deviations that have arisen in our midst. To order any one or all of them, contact Andrews University Press (269-471-6134) or Amazon.com on the Internet.
A Principle for Evaluating Prophetic Interpretation
A recent Journal of the Adventist Theological Society (Vol. 26, No. 2, 2015) celebrated the legacy of Gerhard Franz Hasel, Ph.D., former Dean at our Seminary, Andrews University. The editor, Randall W. Younker, Ph.D., who also teaches there and directs the Institute of Archaeology, states that Hasel “was a major player in the development of Adventist theology,” including Biblical hermeneutics (p. 1). In a Life Sketch concerning his father, Michael G. Hasel, Ph.D., who currently heads the Archaeology Department at Southern Adventist University, recounts a criterion that his father insisted on:
“You must always carefully evaluate where an idea comes from and then look where it may lead. Never jump into something without evaluating it carefully from beginning to end. An idea always came from somewhere and has a trajectory that will prove whether it will be worth hanging onto or not. Foremost, test all ideas by the Bible.” (p. 57)
That is a most valuable principle for evaluating all things theological, including prophetic interpretation. In upholding Historicism, Edwin’s publications have repeatedly shown that its alternatives, Preterism and Futurism (together with its offshoot Dispensationalism), are strongly rooted in Roman Catholic—particularly Jesuit—thinking. Idealism goes back to the deviant minds of men like Philo Judaeus, Origen, and pagan Neo-Platonists. And where do these other schools lead? Their infernal purpose is to debunk Historicism and deflect the world’s attention from the papal Antichrist, undermining the Three Angels’ Messages.
Unfortunately quite a number of Seventh-day Adventist writers about prophecy have derived ideas from these tainted sources outside our Church. Even worse, some strains of theology have originated with no less a personage than the Devil, ever seeking the perdition of souls. He is, indeed, the greatest inventor of religion—including what Ellen G. White has warned us against: false prophecy, “kindled from the hellish torch of Satan.”
On this front, the news is very good. Friends have at last brought a fine quantity of La Palabra Profética Más Segura from Cuba and mailed them to us. This Spanish version of Edwin’s A More Sure Word of Prophecy sells for only $8.00 plus shipping and handling. It strongly and sometimes dramatically vindicates Historicism in contrast with alternative schools of prophetic interpretation like Preterism, Futurism, and Idealism.
Néstor Rivero, our precious Cuban friend, who translated it, has also recently completed and as an attachment sent us Cristo y Anticristo en Profesía y la Historia. Its original is Edwin’s Christ and Antichrist in Prophecy and History, first published in 2001, with a second edition in 2013. The Spanish translation is now being edited by another kind friend, originally from El Salvador, who is a research scientist living in Australia. This is a comprehensive book of more than 400 pages. Apart from also upholding Historicism, it covers a vast period, from before the time of Nebuchadnezzar to the Second Coming.
In English, this book has been somewhat of a bestseller. Its second edition will soon be out of print. The Spanish translation will hopefully be as successful. We do not yet have the funds to publish it, but we are confident that by the time its text is ready the Lord will provide.
The Helwig Project
This is a special year for commemorating the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. Dr. Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk and professor, inadvertently launched it half a millennium ago in 1517, when he nailed 95 theses against indulgences on the door of the castle church at Wittenberg, which we visited during 1991. As part of celebrating the Reformation, Edwin is very eager to obtain and publish an idiomatic, stylistically pleasant English version of Andreas Helwig’s Antichristus Romanus (1630).
This Latin book of 110 pages, which also contains some Greek and a little Hebrew, makes it clear than the number 666 in Revelation 13:17, 18, refers to vicarius Filii Dei (the vicar of the Son of God), a papal title. Helwig, a scholarly Lutheran, was the first person to make this identification in three published editions of that book.
Of the last one, the 1630 version, only one copy had survived in a Swedish city since before the American Revolution. Edwin now has a digital copy of it. After dipping into it with his limited Latin, he has every reason to believe that Antichristus Romanus is a masterpiece of Historicist prophetic interpretation. It was published during the Counter Reformation, when Catholic, especially Jesuit, scholars did all they could—through Preterist and Futurist writings—to shield the papacy against the prophecies of the Bible that point to it as the Antichrist.
Please pray and help us find a competent translator, whose work will be remunerated. He or she should be a Seventh-day Adventist or at least a non-ecumenical Protestant, who will not be shocked by Helwig’s vigorous denunciations of the Roman Pontiff.
Selling Books in Other Countries
As stated in previous Prophetic Bulletins, we are keen on selling Edwin’s prophetic publications worldwide, but to send them to other countries is prohibitively expensive. Nowadays everything has to go by airmail. Fortunately a few kind readers donated the $100 needed for book packages. We therefore sent off 6 boxes to Hungary, 3 to South Africa, 2 to Australia, and 1 to the United Kingdom. In those countries, kind fellow believers have been helping with their sale and distribution.
These publications can be purchased in Canada via a very dear friend Pastor Edgar Nunes, firstname.lastname@example.org; Dr. Csabai Tamás in Hungary, email@example.com; Melody Schleicher, Edwin’s niece, in the United Kingdom, firstname.lastname@example.org; Dr. Byron Villacorta in Australia, email@example.com; and Clint McNeil in South Africa, firstname.lastname@example.org. Here again are the titles and prices:
Christ and Antichrist in Prophecy and History (2001, 2013) $19.95.
The Truth About 666 and the Story of the Great Apostasy (2010, 2013), $35.00.
Seven Heads and Ten Horns in Daniel and the Revelation (2012), $20.00.
The Use and Abuse of Prophecy: History, Methodology, and Myth (2007), $14.95.
A More Sure Word of Prophecy (2015), $10.00.
Of these works, The Truth About 666 and the Story of the Great Apostasy as well as Christ and Antichrist can also be bought from Amazing Discoveries. Edwin has, moreover, written books and articles that only exist in digital form, as shown on our Web Site.
Feeling at Home in America
Depending on where they come from and for various reasons, immigrants do not easily fit into their new country. When we began our sojourn here, Edwin was 64 and Ria 58. It was like transplanting old trees onto foreign soil. We had to adapt in numerous ways. Here are a few examples.
South Africa has different road regulations. Among other things, we drove on the left side of the road. Edwin had the strange experience of teaching Ria how to drive—twice: once in 1959 on the left and then, 35 years later, in 1994 on the right side. I assure you it was not without tensions!
Apart from that, Americans have their own way of doing many things which are novel and therefore puzzling for people from another country.
We could not even trust our English. The American accents and pronunciation take some getting used to, but that was the least of our problems. Hundreds of words, expressions, and meanings are not the same or have different meanings. In South Africa, a pavement is what Americans call a sidewalk, a purse is a wallet, and the smallish object that a woman carries around with her is a handbag. Over there, it would be hilarious to hear a desperate professor cry out, as Edwin once did when he taught at the Community College in McAllen: “Where is my handbag? Where is my handbag?!” The bottom storey of a South African building is the ground floor and the one above it the first floor. In United States parlance, this is, of course, the second floor. Ria’s favorite is the trunk of a car, which in South Africa is a boot. Imagine an American who opens it and finds a large foot with curling toes!
Despite the hurdles that one must get over, there are a large number of advantages in America. For us, the greatest was the right to keep on working beyond 65, which in South Africa is a mandatory retirement age. That also used to be the case for Americans, until the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Presidents Carter and Reagan outlawed such ageism. For this, our country—and it is now our country—is much indebted to Claude Denson Pepper, a great legislator of a bygone era.
Therefore, we could lecture at the nearby community college and university after that age, which would not have been allowed in South Africa. Later Ria could even avail herself of a tuition waiver for students older than 65 and graduate at the age of 68 with an MA in the teaching of English as a Second Language. Then she worked at her Alma Mater, the University of Texas–Pan American, until her voluntary retirement at 76. Edwin also kept on lecturing, but at 71 he was, for the first time, hospitalized with heart failure and could no longer do so. Instead, for the next 15 years, he wrote his books on prophecy, though he earned no salary, unable to add to our meager Social Security.
America is generous to its new citizens, especially if they work hard, enjoying the same rights as those who were born here, though they cannot be elected as the country’s president. Everybody enjoys a freedom of speech unparalleled elsewhere on this planet. It is also easy to start and conduct a business like our ministry, especially in the wonderful state of Texas. By contrast, South Africa has many, many commercial regulations, like fleas on a dog, which impede one.
Edwin especially feels at home here because he is annoyed that the country of our birth deprived us of a precious birthright. Though double citizenship is permitted, a nasty law decrees that people automatically lose their South African citizenship through the mere act of applying for naturalization in another country! When we did so, we became stateless for ten months until an American swearing-in ceremony in 2000. Demeaning maneuvers exist for retaining or getting it back (at a cost); but, legally, we were kicked out. During our 2016 visit to South Africa, we cherished old memories and naturally still very much love our relatives and friends, but it was sad to know that we were aliens and had to leave within 90 days.
Ria, however, no longer feels entirely at home in any country on earth and sings: “I’m a pilgrim, and I’m a stranger: I can tarry, I can tarry but a night.” She is longing for heaven, our ultimate home.
Link to Our Web Site
Many more details about Edwin’s publications, our activities, and previous Prophetic Bulletins appear on our Web site: www.propheticum.com. We can also be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com, or snail-mailed to Edwin de Kock, 12916 Los Terrazos Boulevard, Edinburg, Texas 78541, U.S.A. Please, as a great favor, help us promote these doctrinally and prophetically sound books through your recommendations, personally or by e-mail. If you have a Web site, kindly mention us there and supply a link to our Web site.