Examiner, January 03
Book Review of "The Death of the Church Victorious" by Pastor Ovid E. Need, Jr. with Forewords by Rousas John Rushdoony and Dave MacPherson.
Reviewed by Pastor Emeritus Raymond P. Joseph while visiting his daughter and family in Syracuse NY.
This reviewer is on the board of the National Reform Association, whose annual meeting was held on November 15, (2002) in Ephrata PA. At the meeting's conclusion (at which we elected a new president, Atty. John Fielding) I visited a booktable at the back and was presented a copy of this book by its author, Pastor Ovid Need, Jr. The book had just been received from the publisher the previous Monday.
If any of our dispensationalist Christian brothers feel like picking up a daring read, then this book has to be the book for youespecially if you think you are totally and irretrievably committed to dispensationalism, sincerely believing forever and ever that dispensational theology is "simply what the Bible teaches" (This reviewer has Christian friends who believe just that!) And if any of the rest of you non-dispensationalist brothers have ever wondered how dispensationalist "other-worldliness" gained its foothold in the Churchvirtually taking over significant parts of the Body of Christ(and nearly destroying it, if that were possible)then this book is definitely for you as well !
Let's assume you are a thinking Christian, with such a wide streak of daring in your psychenot to mention mere curiositythat you are willing to be exposed to perhaps what will be recognized, at least in some circles, as the most thorough, the most thought-provoking, historical expose' of one of the mightiest heresies and devastating theologies that has ever afflicted Christ's longsuffering Church on earthnothing less than a spiritual virus infecting the Body of Christ. Indeed, much(this reviewer is tempted to say"most")of today's "fundamentalist" and "evangelical" Churchesyes, and too many "Reformed" churcheshave been sickened near unto death by the heresy of pre-tribulation rapture dispensationalism, for "other-worldliness" has captured, not only those who profess to be dispensationalists, but also those who do not. Even among those who deny such a theological affliction, the inroads of the "just-lead-people-to-Jesus-and-forget-society" thinking are everywhere. It inhabits both pulpit and pew. If you are curious about the how's and when's of how such a heresy could get started, how it happened, where it received its beginning, then this is definitely a book for you! Nevertheless, in the interests of full disclosure, please be forewarned: reading this timely volume on the origins of today's "otherworldliness"an "otherworldliness" which has stripped today's Church of her sense of obligation to obey her LORD's "Great Commission"("Make all nations My disciples" Matt. 28:18-20)reading Brother Ovid's book will drastically challenge you and lead you to examine any remnants of dispensationalism remaining in your thinking and belief structure, especially the "pretribulation rapture" kind. If when you finish it, you still consider yourself to be a dispensationalistespecially a pretribulation rapture dispensationalistthen it must be said in all charity that you probably haven't been paying attention !
Because, if you are paying attention, there is only one reasonable course of action for youthat of wanting to divest your mind and heart of any remaining vestiges of "other-worldliness" thinking. You will be challenged to prepare yourself for the risk of being forced to change your theologyat the very least to seriously modify it(perhaps even to the point of becoming classically Reformed !).
So, why all the concern ? What can be the possible danger to a dispensationalist in reading Brother Ovid's book, a 473pp. tome some 20 years in the making ? How can such a flaming and drastic statement have any possibility of being defensible ? Maybe this reviewer is succumbing to the temptation to spin a yarn of irrational promotion ? Maybe he's just engaging in mere inflammatory rhetoric, a bad piece of negative propagandaperchance the product of an overheated word processor gone a little batty ?
Well, let's leave that for you to decide. For now, we'll finish with a few quotes and especially the book's conclusion. For a book which packs such a wallop as this one does, it is really a very easy read. It is divided into 107 Chapters, all of them quite short.
Re: The Ben-Ezra System: Receives by far the longest column of references in the index (next to that of J.N. Darby). Origins of dispensational thinking lie with a Jewish convert to Roman Catholicism, a Jesuit priest by the name of Lacunza (1731 to 1801), who assumed the name "Ben-Ezra". His published theology received the same name. Rev. Edward Irving, licensed to preach by the Presbyterian Church of Scotland in 1815, latched on to "Ben-Ezra"; with the later help of J. N. Darby and C.I. Scofield. The "new system" spread far and wide, primarily contributing a devastating blow to the death of victorious thinking in the Church.
Re: Morgan Edwards (1722 to 1795): Yes, premillennialism has been taught from the beginning of Christianity, although a minority view, and Edwards offered a millennial system well before Lacunza and his "Ben-Ezra". Nevertheless, Need contends, it was Lacunza's "Ben-Ezra" as promoted by Irving and his followersespecially Darby and Scofieldwhich serves as the basis of modern premillennial dispensationalism.
Re: Plymouth Brethren: Lacunza's influence can be easily traced to the Brethren's Scofield Reference Bible, through which his system became accepted as orthodoxy.
Just one more reference , and we'll leave you to plumb the rest of the fascinating depths of Need's more than 20 years of researchthis from the end of the Conclusion:
Conclusion: "The result of the new, unique system of Christian thought was the deliverance of society to the spirit of antichrist by default. Though Lacunza's millennial system was not new, the anti-Christian fervor of the world today can be directly traced to him, to Irving, and to the "tiny religious sect" that Darby claimed as his own. (emphasis the reviewer's).
"Though God's people many times love messages of irresponsible escapism, the task before the people of God is not hopeless. For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
And then, this:
"The preceding document is offered to the reader with the prayer that God will work to give his people the desire to goand teach all nationsthat is, Christianize the nations of the world, and develop the Christian faith into every area of life and thought.
Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Romans 8:37.)" (all other emphases are the author's)
This reviewer simply says: "Amen ! So let it be.
Examiner, March, 03
A 'Buzz-word" of the day is diversity. It is so widely accepted that some hesitate to take a stand for anything different. In the Church, most assume that since believers are fallible though redeemed beings, differing views on spiritual matters are justified. But when we consider words which have come to us out of Eternity, we should be very, very careful about differences in major issues of the Faith.
A new work, "Death of the Church Victorious...." by Ovid Need, a Baptist Pastor, shows how some ideas which have almost taken over the American Evangelical scene may have very suspicious origins. The work gives much space to the development of prophetic interpretation. It shows how failure has permeated the Church with the effect of limiting its concern about and ability to influence the culture.
Note that modern prophetic interpretation was the result of a turn in thinking by about 1830, a reaction to the French Revolution. So many Christians of that day were so shocked by that event that they assumed that the end of the world must be near. They avidly accepted ideas which assumed no future for the Church on earth. Earlier views were cast aside as irrelevant.
Need notes the terrible influence of Lacunza and Ribera, both Jesuits, in shaping the prophetic views of the rest of the Church. Irving shared their belief in Church failure ,and based his thinking on works of those who had no good purpose for Our Lord (Dallimore in his biography of Irving notes no firm evidence of conversion for Irving). Need goes on to trace the impact of Darby and associates, also the fact that prophetic study was given a boost by gatherings in the stately homes of wealthy who were still shaking from the impact of the events of 1789.
From the material presented by Need, we see that The Great Commission has largely been emasculated. The Church was taught to primarily look out for itself to escape the doming doom (that 170 years ago). The prophecy buffs seemingly could not overcome a predilection for gathering in posh places like the Niagara on the Lake Conference or the Estate of John T. Pirie at Sea Cliff, LI, to ruminate on suffering and doom for others less fortunate
Meantime belief ran rampant that Satan, not Christ, was the Ruler of this world, and Christians should retreat, mentally if not physically. The idea of Satanic control became so strong the one wonders if some who teach that might regret not being on the Mount of Temptation (Matt 4:9) to have kept Our Lord from making the mistake of not bowing down to Satan. Of course, the Lord had absolutely no intention of "coming" at any time in either the 19th or 20th centuries. One must wonder from where exactly the ideas which have made the meat of Prophecy Conferences come.
Like the Pharisee in the Temple, (Luke 18:10) many prophecy buffs feel that they are not like other men. They look greedily for The Rapture, leaving behind untold millions to endure the Lake of Fire (Rev 21:6). This is actually quite sadistic.
So "other worldly" are the Prophecy Buffs that they do not realize how ridiculous they look to the world. The comic drawn by the late Charles Schulz and presented every October about Linus van Pelt and The Great Pumpkin are a fitting parody of the ideas which grew and festered from Irving and Darby. Of course, looking ridiculous makes fruitful witness difficult
Scores of revisionist works have come out since O. T. Allis started the trend in 1945 with his "prophecy and the Church". These works have been ignored by the Rapture cult who continue at great personal profit their fantasies of failure and doom. They malign writers who propose a different view, even belittling works of others. Same old leopard; same old spots (Jer 13:23). A. W. Tozer in 1955 said of misled Evangelical leaders:
"They must therefore be right and anyone who tries to call them to account is instantly written off as an unauthorized meddler who should be ashamed to reprove his betters."
Need shows how the Rapture cult has promoted failure, its implications and how the Evangelical "stables should be cleansed" so that the triumph of the Church visualized by our Lord in The Great Commission will come to pass.
The book is important, should be read by all Christians with even a modicum of concern about the present state of affairs, and how things must be changed to obey Our Lord.
Joseph M. Canfield (Author of "The Incredible Scofield and His Book, Ross House Publications.)
Review by Pastor John Weaver
Ancient Greek dualism is alive and well. Many who have never studied or heard of Greek philosophy have deeply imbibed its system of thought. In fact, so deeply, they believe their attitudes and actions are biblical and Christian. Ancient Greek philosophy taught a division between the secular and the sacred, spirit and matter. Matter was inherently evil and spirit was that which was inherently good. In order to become holy, one had to deny or destroy matter and concentrate solely upon the spirit. Enter "Christian pietism." Pietism is the logical result of the application of Greek philosophy to the Bible.
One of the main tenets of pietism is that in order to be holy, one must concentrate on the "other world," while at the same time, allowing everything in this world to go to hell. As one leading evangelical pietist stated: "You don't polish brass on a sinking ship." We cannot defile ourselves and waste our time with matter or things of this world which are considered less important and in some cases positively wicked. A few of those "less important things" in pietism are government, economics, law, health, and education. Unhappily, professing Christendom as a whole has left biblical theology and now follows religious humanism.
Pastor Ovid Need has masterfully laid out historically, logically, and scripturally how we, as Christians, have left biblical doctrine and have gone astray. His book, Death of the Church Victorious, is a must read for those who wish to know about Scofieldism, Darbyism and Millennialism. His book is not only easily read but also heavily documented for those who wish to study source materials. Remember, this is not a book of opinions but of facts - historical facts.
Death of the Church Victorious is a wake up call. We must repent and return to our first love, the Lord Himself, and His sacred Word. We must examine every aspect of our lives through the spectacles of His Word. We must make the Word of God once again our sole authority for faith and practice. As Jeremiah 6:16 states, we must return "and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein.
I encourage every pastor, missionary, and Christian to read and study thoroughly Death of the Church Victorious. It will stir us, move us, and motivate us to return to our Sovereign Lord and His Word.
John Weaver, Pastor
Death of the Church Victorious, Sovereign Grace Publishers, .
Death of the Church Victorious, 2002; Sovereign Grace Publishers, PO Box 4998, Lafayette IN 47903. 473 pp., includes three Appendices, a bibliography, and index. Paperback, $24.99 through your local book store. Order from Ovid Need, PO Box 81, Bentonville VA, 22610, $25.00, post paid.
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