James Jacob Prasch

Apostasy Now or Hypocrisy Now?

The Dual Standards of Richard Engstrom The Ruckmanite & "US"



Ruckmanite Richard Engstrom is a most peculiar individual. He claims to be a Christian but seems to believe it is quite permissible to lie. He pretends to be scholarly in theological matters but cannot even read the original biblical languages. Indeed, as with the other Ruckmanites such as Gail Riplinger, who was discredited by The Christian Research Institute, but whose nonsensical book Engstrom endorses, Engstrom sees no need to understand Greek and Hebrew in order to understand the most accurate original meanings of original texts.

In his academically absurd "Camel's Nose" attack on the uses of Midrash cited in the New Testament, while professing to be an expert, Engstrom did know that the acceptance of midrashic hermeneutics in The New Testament dates back to the Early Church and that there are dozens of conservative Evangelical scholars, who unlike himself are qualified in biblical languages and textual studies from the Puritans to the present day holding this view in increasing numbers.

In protesting that Midrash is not biblical, Engstrom disclosed himself as too ignorant to know that the term Midrash and its use are first established in the Word of God in 2 Chronicles 13:22 where we are told in the original Hebrew text that the acts of Abijah were recorded by the Prophert Iddo in Iddo's Midrash. Here we see the same typological interpretation of historical narrative found in the Dead Sea scrolls, in the New Testament Formula Citations, and in the Epistles existing in ancient Israel.

It is such Midrash that makes Matthew's use of Hosea 11:1 in the Nativity Narrative, or Paul's Midrashic exegesis of Genesis 16-21 (Paul, a rabbi trained in Midrash in the School of Hillel by Gamaliel) in Galatians 4:21-31 perfectly rational. While liberal higher critics have tried to discredit the New Testament uses of the Old Testament as not following the rules of Hellenistic grammatical-historical exegesis that the formers copied from 16th Century humanists (which we also see as valid, valuable and necessary in arriving at "peshet" interpretations) , the New Testament interpretations of Old Testament passages are both vindicated and illuminated "Pesher" when we understand them as midrashic "Pesher" interpretations precisely akin to what we see in The Dead Sea Scrolls.

Such serious scholarship and study of God's Word is, however, beyond the realm of Engstrom, who because he is a Ruckmanite who only believes one needs the 1611 KJV to understand the full scope of biblical truth, is too biblically illiterate to realize that the original word and meaning of 2 Chronicles 13:22 is "Midrash". This is much the same as Engstrom did not know that the Puritans, following Reformed scholars such as John Lightfoot and John Robinson, wrote Midrashic commentaries on the New Testament over 300 years ago. He did not realize the absorption of Plymouth Brethren scholars with Jewish hermeneutics over 100 years ago, nor the widespread belief in the use of Midrash in the New Testament by contemporaery Evangelical scholars who have researched The Dead Sea Scrolls with a Chrisrtian eye, such as Professor James charleston of The Princeton Center For Qumran Research, Dr Thomas Dogherty, Dr Moises Silva, and Dr Randall Price to name but a few. Yet a theological illiterate from a cultic sect which defends "Christian pot smoking" calling itself "Apostasy Now" and "us" says their views are without foundation and that we are letting a "camel's nose into the tent" by giving serious consideration to such views which have been around since the Early Church.

Now, in a supreme act of hypocrisy, Engstrom and his sect cite the quasi-patristic document Pseudo Ephraem, attributed by tradition to an early Christian midrashic scholar Ephraim of Nisibis in an article about him to buttress their pre tribulational convictions.

Many Moriel readers and some of our closest friends, associates and brethren in the ministry are pretribulational dispensationalists, including Dave Hunt, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Chuck Missler and many others, especially in Calvary chapels. The arguments by which the "us" sect seek to sustain this position however would be an embarressment to most pretribulation advocates that we know, and we know many. Notions that "God would not leave true Christians in a cave waiting for deliverance" (they clearly never have read the history of the Waldenseans who did just that) are void of any biblical, historical, or even logical basis. Their placing pre-wrath advocates (with whom we ourselves do not completely agree) such as Marvin Rosenthal in the same league with those who deny the rapture altogether is as dishonest as it is absurd; but dishonesty and absurdity are both trademarks of "US". While ignorantly denouncing Midrash as being void of biblical foundation, then falsely claiming it has no scholarly support is prima face of the veneer character of "US". But to then turn around and cite a document the substance of whose contents is ascribed to Ephraim of Nisibis, a proponent of Midrashic hermeneutics in the Early Church, is ludicrous even for the likes of Richard Engstrom.

Perhaps the foremost expertise on Pseudo Ephraim is at the Jerusalem Caspari Center, named after CP Caspari, a messianic Jewish scholar who researched Judeo-Christian history, theology and hermeneutics. After secular university studies in science, I commenced my own theological training at the Caspari Center, where I did the Telim course in Hebrew before doing Judaism and theology at Cambridge and London Bible College. Caspari himself did considerable research into Pseudo Ehpraem. There are differing readings in various Greek and Syriac as well as translated Latin texts dating from the 4th through 6th Centuries all deriving from 3 basic manuscripts. (There is a more controversial fourth manuscript circa 7th Century sometimes attributed to Isidore of Seville).

Ironically, the article cited by "Apostasy Now" and "Us" by Thomas Ice seeks to document an early Christian source for a pretribulation rapture. Pretribulational scholars admit that the the tenuous grounds of attributing a later document to a figure who lived from 306 to 376 A.D. in Syria is precarious and is not a very firm basis for any primary evidence that pretribulationism existed in the Patristic church, but it does show that pretribulationism is not the invention of Schofield or the modern Dispensationalists. This view is contained in the sermons of Ephraem on The Last Times, The Anti Christ, and The End of The Age. Most scholars place the source contents of "Pseudo Ephraem" in the 6th Century.

The article states the document was pointed out by Grant Jeffries, the Canadian colleague of heretical money preacher Morris Cerullo who is an active proponent of the caballistic "Bible codes" theological lunacy of Michael Drosnin.

Ephraim of Nisibis was a figure who, like the earlier Irineus, saw his influence bridge the Greek East and Latin West. He was a biblical expositor uncorrupted by the anti-Semitic influence of Chrysostom and was probably a stronger exegete than Gregory Nazienzus or the Cappadocian Fathers.

Broadly speaking, Ephraim was of the Antiochan school of hermeneutics as opposed to the Alexandrian school. The Alexandrian school incorporated the influences of Philo, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Basilides, and Valentinus into Christian hermeneutics , using oriental gnosticism, mysticism, and platonic philiosophy in the gross spiritualization of Bible text, and influenced Augustine in the West.

The Antiochan school followed a more literal exegesis but as in the case of Ephraim, combined this with the original Jewish exegesis of the Early Church using Midrashic methods of interpreatation in typology and allegory where the "pesher" (spiritual) interpretation depended on the "peshet" (literal) instead of the mystical views that spiritualised texts out of context and used spiritualization to destroy literal meaning and intent.

Ephraim was also an apologeticist against ancient heresies such as the Mancheanism from where Augustine came (and continued to influence Augustine) , Arianism (which rejected the deity of Christ), and the ancient proto hyper dispenationalism of the Marcionites.

The article on "Pseudo Ephraem" even admits that Ephraim of Nisibis held to Midrash and Jewish hermeneutics. The dishonesty and charlatanism customary of nearly all Ruckmanites as seen in Engstrom is well established. But to paste an article on one's web site pointing to a practitioner of midrashic hermeneutics in biblical interpretation in support of one's beliefs right next to an article rejecting the validity of midrashic hermeneutics is a folly even a complete and utter buffoon would not be capable of. Richard Engstrom however is.