Bro. Phillip Hughes
The enclosed has been written in opposition to the belief that Bro. John Thomas believed in immortal emergence when he was baptised in 1847.
If such were true, it would necessitate the rejection of Bro. Thomas at the Judgement Seat as an uncovered sinner, not having entered into covenant relationship with the Deity through a valid baptism.
Happily, such a disparaging statement is not true, and it is hoped that the enclosed will prove conclusively that this is so.
Watching and Waiting, Phillip Hughes.
Bro. John Thomas' View On The Resurrection
At His Baptism in 1847
ELPIS ISRAEL- author's preface to Fourth Edition (page xxiii)
The paragraph used in an endeavour to state that Bro. Thomas believed in immortal emergence is that which commences:
"The most important correction has been that emandatory of allusions to the resurrection".
It is maintained that Bro. Thomas corrected a belief which is tantamount to immortal emergence. However, this cannot be proved from this paragraph. On the contrary, the converse is true. Bro Thomas continues to say that his understanding of "this element of the beginning of the oracles of the Deity had been ENLARGED in the author's mind". Now if he had believed in immortal emergence, and then believed in a resurrection to a mortal body to stand before the Judgment Seat, this would surely have been a CHANGE of mind, and not an enlargement. It is impossible to believe in immortal emergence and then have one's mind 'enlarged' to believe the Truth of the matter! The mind would most certainly have to be changed. This statement of Bro. Thomas therefore, proves by itself that he did not believe error on the subject of the resurrection.
Furthermore, Bro. Thomas continues:
"The question was not then the resurrection in its detail; but the necessity of resurrection and JUDGMENT at all in view of the immortality of the soul and its instantaneous translation to heaven or hell at the death of the body".
Here again Bro. Thomas proves that he believed the Truth on this matter. He says that there was a necessity to teach a resurrection and a JUDGEMENT. Why a judgement after a resurrection if the dead come forth immortal? There is only one answer, and that is that Bro. Thomas believed that the dead who were responsible would be resurrected MORTAL, to a JUDGEMENT which would determine whether or not immortality would be bestowed. As he said, he did not go into resurrection in its detail, as he solely wished at that time to emphasise a resurrection and judgement in opposition to the error of believing in going to heaven or hell at death.
Bro. Thomas goes on in this paragraph to refer to a group who did believe in immortal emergence and lists four points to illustrate this. He said that the "resurrection ordained of the Deity does not suit them". However, Bro. Thomas NEVER identifies himself with them. Neither does he say that he once believed the same as them and later changed his mind. There is absolutely no indication that he had departed from what they believed. To clinch the matter he concludes by saying:
"With such theorists it is judgement first, and resurrection afterwards! This is an inversion of divine, order, by which the whole subject is confused. The author believes that the divine order is the best; AND HE BELIEVES TOO, THAT THE RIGHTEOUS ARE RAISED INCORRUPTIBLE; but also, THAT THE RAISING IS NOT ONE INSTANTANEOUS EVENT LIKE THE LIGHTNING'S FLASH, BUT AN ORDER OF DEVELOPMENT, initiated in the dust, and ultimating after judgement in incorruptibility and deathlessness of body".
Here Bro. Thomas qualifies what he means by being raised incorruptible, and it is certainly not immortal emergence. Paul says in l Cor. 15:52 that "the dead are raised incorruptible". No doubt, Bro. Thomas is quoting Paul verbatim. We know full well what Paul means, viz., that it is a process whereby the faithful will after judgement attain to incorruptibility. Obviously, Bro. Thomas meant the same. Paul in the chapter referred to does not go into detail regarding the judgement, and the rejected and accepted etc., but positively affirms the resurrection. Likewise, Bro. Thomas did not go into the resurrection in its detail, but affirmed the truth of it in contradistinction to the false view of christendom. ANASTASIS (pages 25-26)
Similar words to that in Elpis Israel are written by Bro. Thomas in this exposition of 'the Judgement of the dead'. Once again our pioneer Bro. is defending his beliefs against 'the seed of the serpent'. They had accused him of denying the faith, by saying (it would appear) that he once taught immortal emergence. Bro. Thomas says:
"These are certainly grievous charges; and if they could be substantiated would classify me among the most miserable of men. But, happily, the indictment is not true. What they regard as a denial of the faith, is neither more nor less than AN ENLARGEMENT OF FAITH by an increased knowledge of the first principles believed".
a) the charges could not be substantiated
b) the fact was that there had been an enlargement of faith only-"neither more nor less" - there had been certainly NO CHANGE of his belief, but,
c) an increase in the knowledge on this particular first principle - which, he BELIEVED.
The Dr. continues:
"Seventeen years ago I believed that the "dead are raised incorruptible" and taught that TRUTH in Elpis Israel".
Now if Bro. Thomas regarded that which he taught 17 years ago to be error, why does he term it 'that truth'? For the reasons already stated. Paul affirmed the truth in 1 Cor. 15:52, but just as Paul did not teach immortal emergence, neither did Bro. Thomas. What was believed was a resurrection to judgement, without an elaboration of the details.
(For the record, I am aware that Bro. Thomas translated "shall be raised incorruptible" as shall be caused to exist incorruptible" Anastasis, page 13)
There is one further quotation to be referred to which is taken from Elpis Israel, page 136 (14th Edition):
"When, therefore, such a believer comes out of the ground by a resurrection from among the dead, the Spirit of God, worked by the Lord Jesus, first opens the grave, and forms him in the image, and after the likeness of Christ; and then gives him life. He is then an incorruptible and living man "equal to the angels" and like them capable of reflecting the glory of them that made him".
We note that Bro. Thomas makes no reference to a judgement, or to any rejected, and we might think that he was teaching immortal emergence. But, once again, Bro. Thomas is dealing with the positive. He is dealing with those who will receive the Kingdom and life eternal. He does not go into the resurrection in its detail, but he is not denying, certainly not, that the dead rise immortal: and yet Bro. Thomas has made no clarification on this either. He is assuming that the reader will understand what he is discussing. He is teaching a positive truth, and does not elaborate in this place on details.
It is quite clear therefore, in conclusion, that Bro. Thomas never believed in immortal emergence at his last immersion. This was a VALID baptism in 1847. To assert otherwise, is extremely serious and classes Bro. Thomas among those who have no hope; apart from accusing Bro. Thomas of that which he is not guilty. It is essential that a full knowledge of the truth (i.e. the first principles) is possessed by the candidate before baptism is valid. Bro. Thomas had such a possession of Saving Truth. Without doubt