Averky on the Apocalypse

Averky saw our age as Age of Apostasy, as “the final preparation for the ‘man of sin’” (Rose 19).

Basic Hermeneutical Principles (these are from Rose, not Averky)

“As history proceeds to the end, the meaning of some of these symbols will become clearer” (Rose 31).

“The most correct commentary is the one that unites all these approaches, keeping in mind, as the ancient commentators and Fathers of the church clearly taught, the content of the Apocalypse in its sum is indeed directed to the last part of the history of the world (Averky 54).

Averky tentatively suggests (but does not finally endorse) the idea that the churches are seven epochs (101ff):

The Good

Averky stood in the tradition of the fathers and passed down the faith. This is a reliable, if sometimes lightweight, commentary on the Apocalypse. He helpfully summarizes each section and offers Scripture parallels at the end of each chapter.

Possible Criticisms (It might seem like I offer a lot of criticisms, but this shouldn’t take away from the book’s inestimable value).

*We see numerous references and exhortations that we seek out the “commentaries of the Holy Fathers” (Rose 27) to avoid Protestant errors, but besides Andrew of Caesarea we are almost never given any specific references. Averky does list some Russian-language resources (Averky 39-40).

*As a general rule, Averky doesn’t engage in exegesis (neither did St Andrew, for the most part).

*Averky says Protestants deny the necessity of good deeds for final salvation (201, Comm. 14:13). This is not true, nor is it clear exactly whom he has in mind. Classical Protestantism denies good deeds as the grounds or foundation of our salvation. We affirm good deeds as necessary for the final telos of our salvation. We can even say that good deeds are the final cause of our salvation, just not the material, efficient, or instrumental causes.

*Averky sees the thousand-year period as Christianity’s victory over paganism. The only problem with this interpretation is that the opening phrase of Revelation 20 sees it sequential with the events of Revelation 19. Averky says that the Illuminati held to chiliasm (256). He criticizes Chiliast belief but doesn’t seem to take into account that premillennialists get their teaching from the passage itself, which does say two resurrections (however that term is glossed).

He says that Chiliasm teaches two or three comings of Christ, but this isn’t necessarily true. A premillennialist can quite logically hold to the following timeline: 1st coming in humility, 2nd coming following the slaying of Antichrist with the breath of His mouth, the raising of the pious dead while the impious sleep, and then a final resurrection. But note that the final stage of the resurrection doesn’t logically demand another coming.

The problem with identifying Chiliasm with modern historic premillennialism is that the latter doesn’t see an ending to the millennial kingdom. It simply states, with Scripture, that Christ hands this kingdom over to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24).

*His argument in the appendix “Neo-Chiliasm” threatens to come undone. He begins with a fine critique of Ecumenism, but he errs in saying that “Neo-Chiliasts” want to have this world and do not like Scripture’s warning of its destruction. Well, modern ecumenists probably don’t like passages about the world’s destruction, but they probably don’t like any passage from the Bible. The modern premillennialist, however, sees that God will create a new heavens and a new earth, so we are not warranted in seeing a complete destruction of the earth.

Normally “chiliasts” are incorrectly lumped with premillennialists, who are quite conservative and anti-liberal. Yet most of his criticisms seemed aimed at the unbelievers in the World Council of Churches. In any case he never identifies who these “Neo-Chiliasts” are.

About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
This entry was posted in Book Review, Eschatology, Fathers and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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