We are studying Bishop Jon Holt Titcomb’s Message to the Nineteenth Century. The Rt. Rev. Titcomb served as the first Anglican bishop of Rangoon (British Burma) in 1878 and later coadjutor to English chaplaincies across Europe in 1885. He was a late-Victorian and great advocate of the Israel Identity message.
Preface: Titcomb begins with the presupposition that nothing occurs in history without the purposeful hand of God behind it. Favoring a rather strong view of Providence, regarding world events Titcomb (quoting an American writer [Wild?]) says,
“Changes are continually going on in it [the world] and around it, and apparently without much order; yet it is not a chaos. The Christian student, with his eye devoutly fixed on God, looks out upon the world and back upon the field of history, and takes a different view. Then, what before seemed so chaotic and disorderly, puts on an appearance of system and form. All is animated by one soul, and that soul is Providence.” p. x
Titcomb substantiates this view of Providence by Dan. 2:21 (“He changeth the times and seasons. He removeth kings and setteth up kings”). Also, Joseph’s chain of events, from slavery to vice-royal in ancient Egypt, serves an example of “the secret wisdom of an all-controlling Providence”, Gen. 45.8 (“So now, it was not you that sent me hither [to Egypt], but God”). Titcomb concludes,
“Thus faith has a golden key placed within her hand which unlocks many an apparent mystery inthe events of Providence, albeit time may be required for observation before the discovery can be made and the key be properly used”. p. xi
This is pretty much Titcomb’s main point regarding the discernment of prophecy in the late-Victorian era. Namely, Providence has advanced such that its relative fulfillment by Anglo-Saxon civilization can be rendered apparent (or at least probable). So, nothing is happenstance by works together to the culmination of things or Last Day. Furthermore, Titcomb paints a fairly rosy picture many persons might not be convinced today, especially with respect to British expansionism.
“To the thoughtful mind this progress and prosperity of one nation in Christendom, so outrunning and overlapping that of every other, is very wonderful; more especially, that, from a Christian point of view, it is not merely the advancement of one elect people in wealth, power, and empire; but it is the distribution by that people of the Word of God, and of true religion throughout the entire globe.”
While much doubt might be directed at such success, a good argument remains that America, even Britain, today retains much of its former glory. Where wealth is more than circumstantial is the coincidence of world-wide influence and power with Christian faith. Indeed, it’s the Christian point of view which is the backbone of Titcomb’s total argument, namely, unique spiritual marks of God’s Israel.
“Wherever ships take our colonialists, there we carry our bibles, our prayer-books, and our worship. The Church and the State ride upon the ocean side by side.” p. ix-x
So-called spiritual-markings such as these (prayer books, the Crown as governor of the national church, a liturgy based on the Jewish one, the evangelical missionary enterprise from London, etc.), along with a case of Probability built on similar evidences, is Titcomb’s method throughout. In other words, he avoids centering everything on linguistic and ethnological proofs which Titcomb treats as secondary compared to the former.
Some questions for readers:
- If convinced of today’s post-Christian era, how effective are spiritual marks? Or, is “post-christianity” in the USA and UK ‘fake news’?
- Is open-theism incompatible to Titcomb’s view of Providence? What if we claim the suspension of Bible Prophecy is cases were God’s decrees are resisted?