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- Submitted: Nov 24 2011 03:11 PM
- Last Updated: Dec 21 2011 07:56 PM
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- Author: Peters, George N.H.
- e-Sword Version: 9.x - 10.x
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Peters, George N. H. - The Theocratic Kingdom (3 Vols)
Eschatalogy (Endtimes) Dispensationalism
Peters, George N.H.
9.x - 10.x
In 1884, Peters' major work, The Theocratic Kingdom—a three-volume defense of dispensational theology—was published for the first time, by Funk and Wagnalls; it was reprinted in 1952 and 1972. In the preface of the 1952 edition, Wilbur E. Smith calls it "the most exhaustive, thoroughly annotated and logically arranged study of Biblical prophecy that appeared in our country during the nineteenth century."
About the Author
George N. H. Peters (1825-1909)
George N. H. Peters (1825-1909) is one of the most mysterious and fascinating premillennial scholars of the nineteenth century. Giving most of his life to a study of the return of the Lord, he penned the classic three-volume work, The Theocratic Kingdom. The title actually continues: . . . of our Lord Jesus, The Christ, as Covenanted in The Old Testament and Presented in The New Testament. Why he was so driven in his premillennial convictions (yet being a Lutheran), is not fully known, except he was apparently influenced by the great Lutheran prophecy scholar, Dr. S. S. Schmucker. Schmucker also taught and inspired Joseph A. Seiss.
Peters attended and later graduated from Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio, in 1850. He held pastorates in Xenia and Springfield. How and when he began writing The Theocratic Kingdom is not clear. But he must have read hundreds, if not thousands, of references in theology (especially prophecy), history, science, and literature. Years must have passed before the 2,100 pages (some in small print) were completed. Amazingly, Peters has over four thousand quotes in this work. The "author lived and worked in an oblivion that seems almost mysterious, and experienced so little recognition at the time of the [first] publication of his work that one must almost believe that there was an organized determination to ignore its appearance" (Smith).
Though Peters lived during a period when there was an explosion of interest in Bible prophecy both in America and England, there was great opposition to such studies in the circles within which he lived. Peters writes of "deep despondency" because of criticism from brethren who opposed him. For many years in Springfield, a hundred laymen and pastors met for weekly prophecy studies. But he writes, his love of the prophetic Word brought upon him bitter and unrelenting abuse. Peters never fully explains the nature of the opposition. He writes that "his motive is assailed, his piety is doubted, his character is privately and publicly traduced, his learning and ability are lowered." All in "the defense of the truth."
In the introduction to The Theocratic Kingdom, Peters writes that all things are "tending toward the kingdom to be hereafter established by Christ, that the dispensations from Adam, to the present are only preparatory stages for its coming manifestation." He adds "that we cannot properly comprehend the Divine economy. . . unless we . . . consider the manifestation of its ultimate result as exhibited in this [coming] kingdom." Peters believed that modern rationalists had given untrustworthy definitions to the kingdom and we must return "to accept of the old view of the kingdom as the one clearly taught by the prophets, Jesus, the disciples, the apostles." Finally, Peters writes, after long investigation he was compelled with a sense of duty to publish his work. He notes he tried to set forth "the Millenarian views of the ancient and modern believers, and [to be] paving the way for a more strict and consistent interpretation of the kingdom, this itself would already be sufficient justification for its publication."
The Theocratic Kingdom may be one of the most complete compilations of quotes from all the writings of the last two thousand years dealing with the kingdom and the literal return of Christ to earth.
About the Author 2.0
From those who knew him well, it was said that he was the kindest and most generous person one
could know. However, he did not see eye to eye with the other ministers in the city of Springfield and
consequently never took an active part in their meetings, though he was the treasurer of the
Wittenberg Synod from 1853-58 and a member of the board of directors of Wittenberg College from
1855-59. Much of the disagreement that he experienced professionally with other clergymen in his
denomination centered around the fact that he was pre-millenarian in eschatology, while the
denomination was predominately post-millenarian. The Theocratic Kingdom reflects very well his
position on this subject.
George Peters spent great amounts of time in study, often-times eighteen to twenty hours per day for
days at a time. Many nights he wrote all night long. This is readily seen from this prodigious work on
the Kingdom which is an exhaustive study on the subject. Though The Theocratic Kingdom is his only
work in print, there are at least 13 other manuscripts, written in longhand, which are extant. From a
cursory glance of them, I would judge them to be equally exhaustive. They include expositions of
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy,
Titus, and the Revelation. In addition there are two other manuscripts on "The Lord's Supper," and
"The Predicted Future."
It is interesting to read what Dr. Wilbur Smith noted in his preface to The Theocratic Kingdom (1952
ed.) when he said, "One does not need to agree with all of his statements, nor even with all of his
interpretations, to recognize the greatness of this work that must have cost him a lifetime of research,
prayer, investigation, and laborious writing — these were the days before typewriters."
Wittenberg College, from which he received his bachelor's degree, was not in accord with pre-
millennial position, and therefore cool in its reception of his massive work. The Lutheran church as a
whole felt much the same, so that any recognition of George Peters as a person, as well as that of his
work, would have had to come from outside his own denomination. Thus the reason for his seeming
obscurity. However, in 1907, two years before his death, Wittenberg College bestowed upon him the
honorary degree, Doctor of Divinity, thereby admitting the value of his contribution in the field of
eschatology, though its position and that of the Lutheran denomination was different from the views of
Peter's Theocratic Kingdom.
Through the years the value of this work has manifested itself in the reception it has received from
Biblical scholars. The relevancy of the Word of God and the continuing interest in prophetical themes
is attested to by the continuing demand for reprints of such lasting works as this. George Peters gave
to the Christian public a memorable work, which testifies to the ever-lasting Grace of God in the
hearts of believers.