G. C. Brewer on the New Heavens and New Earth

I’m seeking some help regarding G. C. Brewer’s (1884-1956) undertstanding of the earth. Concerning Isaiah 65, 66, 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21, Brewer wrote (Gospel Advocate [4 April 1946], 314):

“The New Testament references describe a condition that will come after the destruction of the present heaven and earth. That this earth—this existing order of things, including the material earth—is to be destroyed, Peter tells us in terms we cannot misunderstand. That this earth was cursed because of sin and that thorns and briars and noxious weeds came as a result of the curse seems plain also. (Gen. 3:17-19.) Beasts of prey—ferocious and destructive animals—seem to have come after the curse also (Gen. 2:18-20.) And that the earth itself is to be redeemed from the curse seems to be the teaching of the Bible—seems to be the promise of God. (Rom. 8:20-22; 2 Peter 3:13; Daniel 7:14-22.) Man was given dominion over the earth, but transferred his allegiance to Satan, and the curse came, bringing suffering, sorrow, and death. But Christ came to remove the curse and to bring “joy to the earth.” When the earth is redeemed, it will first be renovated by fire. Then there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Then the meek shall inherit the earth. (Ps. 37:9-11; Matt. 5:5; Rev. 5:10; 21:1-7; 2 Peter 3:10-13.)”

That is the summary at the beginning of the article where he asserts, what seems to him, obvious realities in Scripture. He is responding to a question about the meaning of the “new heavens and new earth.” The rest of the article pursues several trajectories. I have reproduced below his final paragraph which contains his conclusion:

“But there is another view as to when the promise that Peter mentions was given. This view is that the promise of a new heaven and a new earth was included in the /322/ promises God made to Abraham and that Isaiah and all others who mention the new heavens and new earth were simply referring to what had been the hope and expectation of God’s people from Abraham down; that this is the heavenly country that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were seeking.

“But now we must try to find where and when that promise of a heavenly country and the city that hath the foundations was given to Abraham. It must have been in that land promise (Gen. 15:18; 17:7, 8), though it would be hard for us to see it without the aide of the New Testament. The city promise must be that made in these words: ‘Thy seed shall possess the gate [the city] of his enemies.” (Gen. 22:17.)”

“Paul says (Rom. 4:13-16) that the promise to Abraham was that he and his seed should be heirs of the world, and he says this promise must be made sure to all his spiritual seed. We, then, who are by faith children of Abraham and heirs of the promise (Gal. 3:28-29) are yet to inherit the world, though it must be the new earth. We will never get this one. Even Abraham himself was a pilgrim and a stranger on this earth.”

It appears to me that Brewer believes that the Abrahamic inheritance is fulfilled when the saints inhabit a renovated earth. This is consistent with Lipscomb and Harding. I did not expect this from Brewer, so I wonder if I am misreading in some way.

What do you think? And do you know of other occasions when Brewer discusses this?

7 Responses to “G. C. Brewer on the New Heavens and New Earth”

  1.   psummers Says:

    I’m fascinated by these posts, Dr. Hicks. I was discussing them with my in-laws, who were married by G.C. Brewer in 1956, I believe. They found some of his early theological observations very surprising, given their memory of his preaching in his later years. I wonder, is there evidence that he would have approached this topic in this way from a pulpit in 1946 — or was this perhaps a more academic discussion unlikely to occur in a church of Christ on Sunday morning?

    Thank you for providing a vehicle through which to track the refining of the theology of some of the Restoration Movement lions, both 19th and 20th century. It always seems instructive to study religious movements in a greater historical context. Speaking to the series and not necessarily from this post in particular, I am reminded that faith in each generation is expressed in ways that are an outgrowth of other cultural realities, and not necessarily with the purity of approach of which we would all like to believe we are capable. We are, in each successive generation, people of our time, aren’t we?

    •   John Mark Hicks Says:

      Brewer himself was not an academic. That it appeared in the Gospel Advocate in response to a question by a reader indicates that it was intended for public, church consumption. I don’t have any evidence of how he would approach this topic in the pulpit in the 1940s or 50s.

      Indeed, we are all people of our time. That is unavoidable though faith yet lives throughout the ages.

  2.   Clark Coleman Says:

    I cannot see any other interpretation of what Brewer wrote. He believes that we do not inherit the “promised land” until the New Earth is created.

    Side note: I think he is off the target on predatory animals being created after the curse. Genesis 2:18-20 is interpreted by Keil and Delitzsch, among others, as God bringing only certain animals to be named by Adam: those he would eventually hunt as prey (e.g. deer), and those he would eventually use as farm labor or agricultural producers (e.g. oxen, cattle, sheep). Predators (e.g. lions) would not be brought to Adam to be named, because Adam was not expected to be familiar with them in a relationship in the same way as these others. It seems to me that God rested after the creation of man, and did not create entirely new kinds of animals.

  3.   Terrell Lee Says:

    So Canaan was God’s first step in reclaiming the whole earth for his people. Sounds like it to me. Didn’t Campbell sort of think the same of America?

    •   John Mark Hicks Says:

      Campbell actually believed that the Jews would be restored to Jersualem in the Millennium. Yet, Campbell had a great deal of pride and self-assurance about Anglo-Saxons and their role in the arrival of the Millennium. 🙂

  4.   Jeremy Says:

    John Mark, I was making my way through the 46 Advocate (almost done), and I came across another article that would be of interest to you in this discussion. See Brewer’s article on “David Lipscomb and Premillennialism” (GA, 9/19/1946, p. 882-883, 894). In this article, Brewer disputes the claim in Word and Work that Lipscomb and Milligan made the same claim as Boll about the new heavens and new earth. It is hard to tell what Brewer believes because he seems to mostly be making a point about Lipscomb’s teaching and a question/answer exchange he had with Boll. Some nice info on Lipscomb’s approach at NBS with this subject.
    This quote caught my attention, and I wrote it down. “The things that they [Lipscomb and Milligan] said would take place are all to take place in a renovated earth, not in this earth while it is under the curse and while men are living in the flesh, being born and dying, and sinning betimes.” He characterizes Bolls’ position as the latter part of this quote.

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