Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 14, 1951

Premillennialism In Africa

Guy V. Caskey, Johannesburg, South Africa

(Editor's Note: The problem of false teaching on a mission field is not new. Much has been said about premillennialism in Japan, and brother Caskey gives information on it in Africa. Read this article carefully. We propose to publish some material shortly from brother J. C. Reed who was in Africa for four years, and who knows first-hand concerning some of the matters mentioned in this article. Let no faithful worker in Africa be hurt because of the heresy of a few. But those few should be known and "marked' when they teach contrary to the truth.)

Recent articles in some of our papers have made irresponsible and unfounded intimations against the doctrinal soundness of brother Orville Britnell. Some brethren in the States have been disturbed by these articles and have written me asking about his position on the premillennial question. I count Orville Britnell personal friend and have had occasion to discuss these matters with him at different times, and I am glad, therefore, to be able to deny this false imputation.

Brother Britnell's position is briefly this:

1. He does not believe premillennialism, or any other theory which implies special provision for the Jews, or a restoration of the Jewish nation at the second coming of Christ.

2. He opposes anyone teaching premillennialism.

3. He will not fellowship anyone who believes:

a. That the church and the kingdom are not the same, or that the kingdom was not established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ.

b. That any provision beyond the preaching of the gospel will ever be employed for the salvation of any lost, Jew or Gentile.

c. Any system which embodies a "second chance" for sinners.

It is extremely unfortunate that a man is accused of holding a position which he has never espoused, not simply on the man's personal account, but more especially on account of the serious and irreparable harm that is done to the Lord's work in the field in which he labors, and even in adjoining fields.

This must not be understood to constitute a denial that there are and have been premillennialists on the African field. The native teachers at Nhowe Mission, Southern Rhodesia, with whom brother Miller and I had a special meeting told us in unequivocal language that Dr. Robert Brown, Vernon Lawyer and Arthur Phillips had taught premillennialism to them. This was verified by white workers on the mission. Arthur Phillips told brother Echols and me that he was a premillennialist. I am glad to say that there are no premillennialists on Nhowe Mission today.

To my knowledge premillennialism has never been taught by any other worker on the African field. While I have not discussed this matter thoroughly with every other African worker, I can state what those who have discussed it have said to me.

J. D. Merritt: "I am NOT now, NEVER was, and have NO intention of becoming a PREMILLENNIALIST."

W. N. Short: "I believe that the church was set up on the day of Pentecost according to prophecy and teaching. I believe that Christ is now ruling on David's throne in the church. I do not believe that Christ will rule for a thousand years or any other period of time, so as to give the Jews or anyone else a second chance at salvation. I believe that Christ died for both Jews and Gentiles to make of the two, ONE body.'

Alvin Hobby: Brother Hobby did not state his position to me, but referred me to an article setting forth his views on the question, which was published in the Christian Chronicle, November (he believes), 1947. I do not have a copy of this issue.

J. C. Shewmaker: "Though you have not pressed me for my ideas concerning the premillennial question, I do not mind your knowing how I feel about the matter. There seems to be a lot of confusion in the minds of most folks as to what premillennialism really is. Some think it means that Christ intends to come back to the earth before the end of the world and, with Jerusalem as headquarters, set up a temporal kingdom; that the Jews are going to all be saved, without obeying the gospel; that they will rebuild the temple and restore the temple worship, that Christ will rule the world through the Jews, for a thousand years, and then the destruction of the earth will follow this. If this is premillennialism, I'm not a premillennialist.'

Foy Short: We (Millers, Hardins, Echols, Caskeys) lived in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, for eight months prior to our coming to the Union. This is where Foy Short works. He does not believe premillennialism and opposes it with all his ability.

We are far away from any of these brethren, and we are not, confronted with the problem of premillennialism in the church here, but for the benefit of brethren at home who may think of Africa as a unit (it is a continent of some thirty-seven countries), or fail to distinguish between the places in Africa where the work of the Lord is being carried on, I am happy to tell you that we stand against premillennialism or any other false and damnable doctrine with all our might.