J.N. DarbyMost other Christian groups disagree. Premillennialism––placing the Second Coming before the millennium (Rev. 19:11–20:15)—was the position of ancient Christendom, but starting with Augustine (A.D. 354-430) this was replaced by postmillennialism. The first general resurrection of the dead, which opens the millennium (Rev. 20:4-6), was spiritualized as the new birth that follows conversion to Christ. The whole Christian era was then seen as the prophesied millennium. Bishops (such as Augustine) were thought to have the authority to judge during this period (Rev. 20:4), causing Christ’s rule (the stone kingdom of Daniel 2) to grow and fill the entire earth through the union of church and state so that Jesus can return for the final judgment. This, of course, bars any hope of a soon Second Coming––one has only to think of the size and number of non-Christian nations. This was not only traditional Roman Catholic doctrine, but also the conviction of many traditional Protestant denominations.
Manuel LacunzaThis made a hope in a soon Second Coming possible. For Lacunza the antichrist was “a moral body,” existing alongside the true church of God throughout the Christian dispensation, and related to the Roman Catholic hierarchy. The title page set the tone for its strictly biblical method by using the pen name “Ben Ezra, a Hebrew Christian,” but he never hid his true identity and he submitted his work to the Spanish government for inspection. Drafts of the book circulated in manuscript form in Spanish-speaking lands from the 1790s on. Beginning in 1812, the book was printed in Europe in several languages, “stirred two continents” (L. E. Froom), and cut across confessional barriers.
Edward IrvingEven though the British Awakening preceded and empowered the North American one, it soon took a different road. Irving developed a presentation on a topic today familiar to Seventh-day Adventists, “the latter rain,” which precedes the Second Coming. Under his preaching, charismatic phenomena began to take place, such as “speaking in tongues” (meaningless syllables, actually), supernatural healings, and visions, including those of teenager Margaret McDonald in Scotland (1830). This charismatism no doubt helped the North American branch of the movement to look with some sympathy toward their own manifestations of the gift of prophecy and healings, but it also gave start to the modern Pentecostal movement.