This statement presents the reasons that led the Ministerial Association Advisory Council to include Volume III of "Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers" in the 1946 Ministerial Reading Course, in advance of Volumes I and II The following explanation, prepared upon our request, gives the scope and purpose of the set, and shows the wisdom of releasing Volume III first. J. L. McElhany.
The release of Volume III of Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers before issuance of Volumes I and II, in logical sequence, was occasioned by The urgent request that this particular field of discussion be made available to Seventh-day Adventist workers at this time. The coming of the centennial year, 1944, in the onward march of the second advent movement led to the preparation of the epochal F. D. Nichol volume, The Midnight Cry, released through the 1945 Reading Course.
A number of leaders then urged that, instead of waiting for Volume III of Prophetic Faith to be released in the usual sequence—after the first two volumes—it be published first, for inclusion in the 1946 Ministerial Reading Course. This was because it furnishes the historical background and setting for the great revival of the advent hope and prophetic faith of the nineteenth century, upon which our attention has recently been intently focused.
While the entire Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers set forms a progressive sequence, each volume is, in a sense, an independent segment. Each is quite complete in itself, though acquaintance with the antecedent and progressive development of the past would aid in the clearest understanding.
While it may seem illogical to issue the third volume before the first two, such a procedure is not without precedent. Various sets have been issued in this way, and the advantages in this instance clearly offset the disadvantages. There is little risk, it should be added, for the first two volumes are already written—Volume I having been completed two years ago, and Volume II one year ago. And a goodly portion of Volume IV, which will complete the series, has already been outlined, and its preparation is going forward this autumn and winter.
As an understanding of the particular area covered by each volume in the Prophetic Faith series has been requested, and will prove helpful, a tabulation of their scope in here given.
Volume 1: From 322 B.C. to A.D. 1300 (EARLY CHURCH POSITIONS AND DARK AGE ERA). Volume 1 starts with the Jewish writers before Christ, Then follows on through the apostolic and early church periods, past the distortion and loss of prophetic interpretation under the Latin apostasy, and the long eclipse of prophetic exposition throughout the Dark Ages. Then is presented the outbreak of revived study, around A.D. moo, and on to the general identification of Antichrist and the application of the year-day principle to the-longer prophetic time periods, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This volume closes with the recovery of the lost prophetic truth well under way,
Volume II: Front A.D. 1300 to 1798 (PRE-REFORMATION AND REFORMATION RESTORATION). First retracing a bit, to incorporate the origin and prophetic witness of the Waldenses, the pre-Reformation, Reformation, counter-Reformation, and post-Reformation expositors of the Old World are then thoroughly compassed, with their steadily advancing positions and backsets. This is pursued up to and including the close of the 1260 years, under the French Revolution. This volume covers the revival and further development of the basic expositions of the various symbols, outline prophecies, and time periods, together with the second breakdown in interpretation, under the Protestant departures.
Volume III: 1639 to 1847 (COLONIAL AMERICAN AND NINETEENTH CENTURY OLD WORLD ADVENT AWAKENING). Again retracing for two centuries, the author gathers in the amazing witnesses of the paralleling New World colonial American and early national expositors of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The nineteenth century Old World expositions are then comprehensively surveyed. These two groups jointly form the setting of the second advent movement centering in America. The world character of the great nineteenth-century advent awakening, and the remarkable extent of stress on the terminous of the 2300 years about 1844, is the focal point of this volume.
Volume IV: 1800-1872 (NEW WORLD SECOND MOVEMENT). Going back slightly to gather up the testimony of American writers on prophecy in the first three decades of the nineteenth century, the progressive development of what is denominated the first, second, and third angels' messages is traced from the viewpoint of the unfolding prophetic exposition and attendant time features, as involved in the notable 1843 and 1844 mileposts. This is pursued up to 1872, when the prophetic interpretation of the advent movement became unified and systematic, which affords a logical terminal point for the series. All the separate strands of interpretation that have been developed through the centuries are shown now to comprise a strong, unified cord of interpretation, tying together past and present positions, and sustained by Spirit of prophecy confirmation of the major positions.
Such is the scope and the reason for more than a single volume. In no other way could the evidence be adequately handled. The object, which is fully set forth in Volume I, may be briefly recapitulated as twofold: first, to trace the origin and development of the general acceptance of every major truth of prophetic interpretation; and, secondly, to show the inescapable oneness of present positions in the historical school of interpretation, first with the Reformation positions on prophecy, and prior to theirs, with the original positions of the early church. Thus the spiritual 'ancestry of our present positions becomes apparent. The inherent strength of the prophetic interpretation that has characterized the centuries, in the two periods—of greatest purity in the past, when sound interpretation was ascendant, is thus revealed.
And finally, all this indicates our rightful and responsible place as the inheritors and promulgators of the prophetic trust of the past. It discloses our unique position as recoverers and restorers ot the lost prophetic expositions of the church in her days of greatest purity. And it stands forth both as a divine mandate and solemn challenge to us today. The evidence establishes beyond refutation the fact that we are not innovators, not inventors of new positions. Nor are we prophetic heretics, but rather the latter-day champions of the changeless, eternal truths of prophetic exposition, as is the case with the Sabbath, due and recovered in these last times—in verity the prophetic faith of our fathers.