“The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty” is a significant piece of work which has had great impact upon the views of eschatology. Until this exegesis was disseminated among the Protestant Church, the prevailing Historic view of prophesy among the Protestant Reformers endured for about 300 years without being influenced by alternative doctrines.
While the groundwork for a futuristic view of eschatology was laid in the early years of the Reformation by Jesuit Priests such as Francisco Ribera and Robert Bellarmine, their work did not manage to penetrate the Protestant Church the way the latter work of “The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty” did.
Interestingly, this work does not directly challenge the historic view of the Protestant Church, much less even acknowledge Protestants in any way. Instead the challenge is directed toward the Catholic Doctors, which only challenges the Protestant view in a round-about way.
So who is the real author?…
It is commonly understood, without much dispute, that the real author of “The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty” is Jesuit Priest, Emanuel Lacunza, who wrote the piece under the pen-name Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra, a converted Jew.
Thus far, I have yet to see (first hand) much evidence which absolutely proves Emanuel Lacunza being the true author. Having said that, there are several sources which corroborate this, and much evidence which suggests so:
First off, this work is in line with what is known about Emanuel Lacunza.
Secondly, it is in line with prior notions of a futuristic view established by earlier Jesuits already mentioned (Ribera & Bellarmine).
Thirdly, if a Jesuit such as Lacunza did in fact write this, it would make complete sense that it would be assumed under a different identity. We must remember the express purpose of the Jesuit Order is to counter the Reformation, as their strategies and tactics involve insidious forms of deception.
Even for those who wish not to conclude the authorship belonging to Lacunza, this work undoubtedly represents a major breakthrough for the Jesuit agenda against the Protestant Movement, which is in close alignment with prior Jesuit ideas, but had a more powerful impact than those before.
The bottom line, regardless of whether or not this was written by a Jesuit, this piece of work served as a pivotal point that turned the tide in favor of the Jesuit Counter Reformation.
So without being too adamant about the authorship, yet for argument sake, I will continue this analysis by acknowledging Emanuel Lacunza as the author.
Edward Erving – translator and original propagator
Upon discovering the book’s publication in London, Edward Erving was so impacted by this work that he studied Castillian to translate the book into English to then propagate the work. Along with his translation, he adds a preliminary discourse which I found rather boring and long-winded.
Some have tried to argue that Erving maintained his Historicist view and was never a Futurist, but Erving’s preliminary discourse conveys quite clearly of his changed view of eschatology in favor of the futuristic view expressed in “The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty”.
Furthermore, while Erving was of the Protestant Church, he must have held strong sentiments toward Catholicism to be so receptive and enthused with this writing, which was clearly the work of a Catholic; And it’s obvious that his Catholic sentiments were further elevated upon discovery of this book.
A final point in regards to Edward Erving pertains to the notion of the pre-tribulation rapture. Too many uninformed assumptions have accredited the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture to Lacunza’s work, but there is no such idea as that introduced in the book. Rather, the pre-tribulation rapture was a detail Erving added to his presentation of the futuristic idea of the book- a detail he obtained from a follower of his, Margaret McDonald, who claimed to have a revelation of a “secret rapture”.
Overview of “The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty”
As already stated, it is obvious the author of the book was Roman Catholic, with favorable references to the Eucharist, Purgatory, Most Holy Virgin Mary and only uses the Latin Vulgate for scripture reference. So while the transparency of authorship may be in question, there is no pretense in regards to the religious orientation of the author.
In contrast to the Preliminary Discourse of Erving, the principle writing of this book possesses the depth one would expect from a Jesuit. The intellectual and academic caliber is top notch with much thought provoking content. Though I do not subscribe to much of the ideas of the book, I found a good measure of it quite agreeable and enjoyable.
Although the author is Catholic, he does not substantiate his thesis with the authority of Papal creeds, canons and decrees. A good measure of his argument appeals to the Church fathers, but, by far, the primary reference used is Sacred Scripture. The author clearly possessed a high regard for scripture, which is all in line with what is known of Lacunza.
As already mentioned, the author does not address the Protestant Church: However, the ‘sola scriptora’ approach was certainly the proper means to influence Protestants.
Yet the traditional views of eschatology among Catholic Doctors was not helping the plight of the Catholic Church, since some of the basic details of these views agreed with the indictments from the Protestant Reformers. So it makes perfect sense that this Catholic author would address his own camp directly- while still indirectly dealing with the Protestant threat at the same time.
Into the details
In the introductory chapters, the author makes it clear he is introducing a new system, yet appeals to the church fathers for support. He claims the basic idea of his thesis originated with many of the church fathers. Yet as the idea has much to do with a futuristic perspective of prophesy, this is obviously a weak and faulty appeal since most of prophesy was indeed still in the future from the point in time when the church fathers lived.
In chapter 5 he addresses 3 factions of millinarians: Cerinthus, Jews and Bible Believers. He proposes the premillenial return of Christ according to Revelation 20, as opposed to the amillenial view traditionally held by Catholic Doctors.
In chapter 6 he deals with the resurrection of the flesh. Many of his ideas are evidently and obviously true, where he is operating in an agreeable mode, then slipping in a false idea which may seem agreeable within the accompaniment of evident truths- an idea which would not likely be bought if proposed by itself.
In chapters 7-8, he gets into the details of scripture which pertain to the second coming of Christ, most of which is agreeable with a few strange ideas. This is the part of the book which is most enjoyable as it refers to the blessed hope of God’s kingdom reining on earth.
Part II Antichrist
The author begins this part of the book with the statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream from chapter 2 of Daniel. This is where he begins to dismantle the foundational elements of prophesy which have exposed the Catholic Church of its antichrist nature.
The statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream represents the succession of four worldly kingdoms which are ultimately smashed into oblivion with the ‘Rock’ which represents the second coming of Messiah. Most of the Catholic Doctors had been in agreement with the Protestant theologians about the identity of the four kingdoms being: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.
The Catholic Doctors acknowledgement of these kingdoms only corroborates the indictment against the Catholic Church posed by the Protestant Reformers – since Daniels vision of chapter 7 indicates the fourth kingdom to be that which the antichrist rises to power from. The Reformers pointed out how the antichrist would rise as a new Roman power, which history demonstrates to be none other than Papal Rome.
This is why it would have been in the best interest of the Catholic Church to have a new system introduced – a system which would provide an alternate view to divert the prevailing view which exposed the Catholic Church with its antichrist papal monarch.
With such significant matters at stake, it is not surprising to see how messy this novel form of prophetic interpretation gets at this point. This is where the author’s argument begins to really breach with sound reasoning, and splitting hairs about minor details while neglecting the bigger picture.
So Lacunza puts a spin on these four kingdoms by insisting that Medo-Persia was still only the first kingdom- being a continuation of Babylon, thereby making Greece the second Kingdom, Rome the third and the European nations the fourth kingdom, in effect, taking the heat off the Roman Church.
This spin he substantiates with scripture by pointing out in Nehemiah 13:6 where the Persian King, Artaxerxes, is referred to as the king of Babylon. I will acknowledge this is a good point, but there are other points in accordance with this which must not be overlooked:
The legacy of Babylon does not cease to exist with the succession of these kingdoms; the Babylonian system still endures through the next successive kingdoms, just as the next kingdoms also leave their own legacy which endures. Rome itself was often referred to as Babylon and we can see in the 17th & 18th chapter of Revelation which speaks of the enduring legacy of Babylon unto the latter days.
So it is true that the Medo-Persian Empire was a continuation of Babylon, yet would still qualify as a legitimate succession by all means since it was absolutely a new governing power of a different kingdom.
Daniel 7 – The four beasts
We need to keep in mind that the general consensus among not only Protestants, but Catholic Doctors alike, viewed the four beasts of Daniel as a different rendering of the same four worldly kingdoms represented in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the statue made with four kinds of steel. So it was agreed that another type of representation of the four worldly kingdoms is given to Daniel, but this vision gives details about the antichrist element rendered as a “little horn” which rises from the fourth beast- Rome.
This prophesy is perhaps the most telling of the identity of antichrist being that which succeeds the throne of Caesar- being fulfilled in the Papacy. With the Protestant Reformers pointing this out as an indictment against the Roman Church, it would be predictable to see the rise of alternative interpretations such as those introduced in this book.
This is where things get really bizarre. On page 162, a new interpretation of the four beasts is introduced which the author admits thus, “… I know already that it will be difficult to prove it by the authority of Holy Scripture…”
Here is what the author proposes the four beasts represent- four false religions:
- First beast – Idolatry
- Second beast – Islam
- Third beast – False Christianity
- Fourth beast – not yet known/a new future religion
I will not attempt to convey how the author explains this because it’s too frivolous and unfounded. It strikes me as a desperate attempt of grasping at straws…
Nevertheless, alternate interpretations such as this began to skew what was so clear and agreed on for so long.
On page 196 the author begins to make his case for an allegorical antichrist made up of a moral body of individuals and faculties united with one common spirit of antichrist.
In regards to the harlot of Revelation 17-18, the author submits the women to be a latter- corrupted Rome while denouncing the view of her being the Roman Church.
A certain detail which is in agreement with the Reformers is the nature of the ‘Temple’ referred to in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2. This view affirms the Temple is none other than the Church of Christ- contrary to the Catholic Doctors who have taught it to be a material Temple. This is supported with ample scripture references.
Even still, the overall thesis of this work served to divert the widely held view of the antichrist being fulfilled in the Papacy. The author’s view of antichrist is more nebulous than definitive, which will not come until the latter days- just before the second coming of Messiah.
This is the section where the author devotes the rest of Volume I to present the ultimate restoration of God’s first chosen people – Israel. In doing so, he projects a prominent distinction between the nation Israel and the Church. The loud distinction between National Israel and the Church is a major part of futurism, which is later organized by John Nelson Darby into a prophetic system known as dispensationalism.
The Reformers did not acknowledge a distinction quite like the dispensational view. They took their cues from the multitude of New Testament concepts which state that those who have the same faith as Abraham are the true children of Abraham, and that “there is neither Jew nor Gentile… all are one in Christ” – Galations 3:26-29
From the very get-go, the New Testament discounts the ancestry of Abraham with John the Baptist exclaiming, “… don’t think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise children of Abraham from these very stones” – Matt 3:8-9
The only real distinction the New Testament makes between Israel and the gentiles of the Faith, is how Israel is like God’s ‘natural children’ as the gentile believers are like ‘adopted children’ (Rom 8:15, Gal 4:5, Rom 11:13-24). The ancestry of Abraham served a very meaningful purpose, yet was just a shadow of something much greater – which is genuine faith in God. The bottom line is – God’s people are God’s people by faith, not by ancestry.
So the author here is making a much greater distinction between the Jews & Gentiles by referring mostly to the Old Testament prophets, and most of those coming from the last part of Isaiah’s writings – chapters 60-66. The particular passages referred to pertain to the restoration of true Israel not only as people of faith, but as a nation, including the holy land and national sovereignty, upon the return of Christ and during His millennial reign.
So speaking of dispensations, it is reasonable to expect the dispensation of the millennial reign of Christ will be much different than anything we have ever known. Already we have seen different angles between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant with the criteria of what qualifies God’s people revealed at a deeper level, which came to include the gentiles as the primary beneficiaries of the New Testament.
So in the millennial reign, I think we can expect the concept of Israel, even as a sovereign nation restored to the holy land, to be significantly different than the Israel of the old dispensations. We have every reason to believe from the revelation of the New Testament that the gentiles of the Faith will be one people with the Jews of the Faith.
I will not exhaust this subject at this time, so the gist of this will have to suffice for now. My understanding of this may be fairly substantial, but I sense I may yet have some blind spots on this topic, so I look forward to greater revelation.
I have not yet done an analysis on Volume II besides a scan, but this first volume seems to be that which has had the most impact on the views of eschatology pertaining to the identity of the antichrist. Will update this with Volume II analysis in due time.