By Cris D. Putnam
It seems fair to ask, “what if the past failures of the historical interpretation picked the wrong starting place?” It is for that reason that in Petrus Romanus we survey the rise of papacy up until the reformation and explain in detail the reformers unanimous charge that the papacy fulfilled the Antichrist prophecies. We also discuss the leader of the first Great Awakening in America,[i] Jonathan Edwards, who was open to two possible dates for the rise of the papal Antichrist, 606 and 756. In our book, Petrus Romanus, we show how in AD 756, Pope Stephen used the fraudulent document, The Donation of Constantine, to convince King Pepin to go to war for the Vatican to take various lands which became the Papal States. According to contemporary historians: “In 756 a Frankish army forced the Lombard king to surrender his conquests, and Pepin officially conferred the Ravenna territory upon the pope. Known as the ‘Donation of Pepin,’ the gift made the pope a temporal ruler over the Papal States, a strip of territory that extended diagonally across Italy from coast to coast. Peter recovered his sword.”[ii]
We first learned that Edwards was open to this date in a Church History journal article which stated, “Edwards considered that the most likely time for the end of the reign of Antichrist was 1260 years after either A.D. 606 (the recognition of the universal authority of the bishop of Rome), or A.D. 756 (the acceding of temporal power to the pope).”[iii] We sought to verify this by examining a collection of Jonathan Edward’s voluminous writings and in the book we publish examples from Edward’s works. The suggestions we offer are right in line with what Mr. Edwards taught, so we rest secure being in agreement with such a seminal figure in Christian theology. As a sample for what the book reveals, we also found this letter by Edwards which addresses the starting date for the 1260 days:
The rise of Antichrist was gradual. The Christian church corrupted itself in many things presently after Constantine’s time; growing more and more superstitious in its worship and by degrees bringing in many ceremonies into the worship of God, till at length they brought in the worship of saints, and set up images in their churches. The clergy in general, and especially the bishop of Rome, assumed more and more authority to himself. In the primitive times, he was only a minister of a congregation; then a standing moderator of a presbytery; then a diocesan bishop; then a metropolitan, which is equivalent to an archbishop; then a patriarch. Afterwards he claimed the power of universal bishop over the whole Christian church; wherein he was opposed for a while, but afterwards was confirmed in it by the civil power of the emperor in the year six hundred and six. After that he claimed the power of a temporal prince, and so was wont to carry two swords, to signify that both the temporal and spiritual sword was his. He claimed more and more authority, till at length, as Christ’s vice-regent on earth, he claimed the very same power that Christ would have done, if he was present on earth reigning on his throne; or the same power that belongs to God, and was used to be called God on earth; to be submitted to by all the princes of Christendom.
[edited for blog posting]
Your Affectionate Brother and Servant,
In Our Common Lord,
As we demonstrate decisively in the book, the pope’s rise to temporal power began when the pope Stephen began courting Pepin around 751 and then became a reality in 756 with the expulsion of the Lombards. We quickly broke out our calculators and saw that 756 placed the target sometime in 2016 which can also be thought of as in the range of three and a half years from 2012. Perhaps it seems we are mixing up our eschatological systems? It may seem a bit odd as the futurist view gets seven years from Daniels seventieth week, but usually bifurcates it into two, three-and-a-half-year periods with the latter representing the Great tribulation (the part with the severe trumpet and vial judgments). Of course, the three and a half years is the same as the 1260 days (Rev. 11:3; 12:6) or “times time and half a time” (Dan 7:25; 12:7) that the historicist view uses to span 756 to 2016. Is it possible that the year/day theory and the literal three and half years could both be true? We make a compelling case in the book.
We offer another startling find by a friend Trey Clark who emailed Tom Horn after doing some of his own digging. This is from a collection titled “Lectures on the Revelation” by the Reverend William J. Reid, former pastor of First United Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA, which were given over a period of time ending in March of 1876. Where there seems to be a little disagreement in the nineteenth-century historical scholarship concerning the date of the Donation of Pepin, his lecture is still astounding. He reached the same conclusions we did, but we only became aware of this document near the end of writing this book. Here is a scan of the document published in 1878:
Keep in mind this was published in 1878! What is it about this period of time we have entered? What is it about this period of time inaugurated in 2012 that has caught the attention of so many divergent traditions? What are we to make of Jesuit Rene’ Thibaut deriving 2012 from the Prophecy of the Popes along with the above? Is it a mere coincidence?
This is merely the tip of the iceberg… You will read even more startling connections in Petrus Romanus.
[ii]Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 175.
[iii] Clarence Goen, “Jonathan Edwards: A New Departure in Eschatology” (Church History 28, 1 Mr 1959), 29.
[iv] Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1, 594. Included FREE on Petrus Romanus library DVD.
[v] William J. Reid, Lectures on the Revelation (Stevenson, Foster, 1878), 306. Included FREE on Petrus Romanus library DVD.