Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Thoughts on George Ladd's HP & the 144,000

A re-post.
Years ago George Ladd often came up in discussions about rapture timing. His book, The Blessed Hope, has been popular in posttrib-prewrath circles. Like Spurgeon, he was historic premil. If you didn't want to be burdened with dispensational baggage (pretrib rapture etc); you could call yourself historic premil (just like Ladd). Later on, some shifted to progressive dispensationalism for similar reasons.

Ladd also held to Covenant Theology, blurred the distinctions between Israel and the church, and allegorized and re-interpreted the Old Testament based on the New Testament. This was the subject of debate in 2011. See a previous article HERE. And more recently HERE.

I've seen comments that pretribbers hold to the idea that the 144,000 (Rev 7) are evangelists because of alleged pretrib problems associated with the Great Multitude. Many if not most posttribulationists today deny that their role is evangelism. This wasn't always the case.

In fact in The Blessed Hope (p 45), Ladd cites posttribulationist Nathaniel West who believed the 144,000 to be the “Israelitish Church.” He taught that this group is the fulfillment of the promises of Romans 11 – the salvation of literal Israel. Accordingly, their salvation occurs at the start of the 70th week as a result of the missionary work of the Two Witnesses. They are sealed so that they can take the place of the [predominantly Gentile] church!

So this isn't an original pretrib idea crafted out of necessity. In this view the Great Multitude is the church which suffers "near extinction at the hands of the Antichrist in the Great Tribulation." Ladd and West did not view the multitude of Revelation 7 as the raptured church.

Yet (confusingly) Ladd also took the view that the 144,000 are a symbolic expression of the church:
These twelve tribes cannot be literal Israel, because they are not the twelve tribes of OT Israel. The list here appears nowhere else in the Bible. It has three irregularities: it names Judah first, thus ignoring the OT order of the tribes; it omits Dan with no explanation (see Eze. 48:1); it mentions Joseph instead of Ephraim. Perhaps John meant by this irregular listing of the twelve tribes to designate the Israel that is not the literal Israel. . . . The twelve tribes were irregularly listed to show that true Israel is not literal Israel, but the Church. (Cited in Tony Garland's A Testimony of Jesus Christ. Note Garland's response)
For more on Ladd's position re Israel and re-interpretation of the OT see Mike Vlach's blog. Dr. Vlach also addresses some of The Orange Mailman's objections re criticisms of Ladd.

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