Revealing Revelation – This View is History

12Mar11

Now we begin our discussion of the four primary interpretive methods used to help understand the Book of Revelation. We will discuss each of the four in separate posts for easier referencing. The four views are

  • Historicism
  • Spiritualism/Idealism
  • Futurism
  • Preterism

Each post will contain a bullet format for simplicity and will give a few highlights of how the view interprets some popular passages. I apologize in advance to those without some working knowledge of the passages in question but it should not impact ones understanding of how these views apply their technique to the book.

There will also be a discussion within each post as to which Millennial View one might most likely find as adherents to a particular interpretive method. The purpose of this in our introductory notes is to help the reader understand how the differing interpretive methods impact one reading of the passages.

HISTORICISM

One of the oldest and, until recently, most popular interpretive techniques is that of Historicism. The Historicist is one who sees the entire book of Revelation as being related to the entire history of mankind from the first advent to the second advent of Jesus Christ. The Historicist sees within the confines of the prophecies clues to events and persons that would be major players in the history of mankind.

  • Primarily Classical Premillennial, Postmillennial or Adventist. Adventism also incorporates a Dispensational system with the Historicist approach
  • Was the primary view of the Reformers. This would include Luther, Calvin, Huss and others. It should be noted (as previously discussed) that the Reformers were men of their time and took advantage of many passages within the Revelation and related them to the current enemy of the time, the Roman Catholic Church
  • Can only be revealed in the “past tense.” Though some attempts were successful in tieing particular prophetic pronouncements in with current or close future events, any attempt to predict with any clarity or accuracy future events was limited and quite often gravely mistaken.
  • Some events in history had uncanny “coincidences.” As noted above there were some histroical events that appeared to be predicted by Historicist using this method, but they were rather cryptic and could only be successfully argued after the fact.
  • The Churches are seven time periods throughout history
  • The seven seals are judgments against the Jews and/or Roman Empire
  • The seven trumpets are judgments against the Eastern Church
  • The two witnesses describe the Pre-Reformation saints and their vindication is the Reformation
  • The Beast is the Holy Roman Empire
  • Fulfills the idea that the beast is “Roman” but is a Spiritual Rome
  • The individual “beast” is the pope
  • The seven bowls include judgments against “Roman” papacy by the French revolution and the Napoleonic Wars
  • Chapter 19 – White Horse – is either the defeat of the Papacy in history or the spread of the Gospel (if Postmillennial)

One of the many problems with the Historicist view is throughout the history of this position most commentators argued they were currently in Chapter 19 of the book of Revelation and were on the cusp of the Millennium.

The other problem, related to the above mentioned one, is that the Historicist commentators were constantly running of out text for the time period they were living in. Every generation or so of Historicist would have to retract the previous ones proclamations in order to make the time line last longer as the centuries wore on.

Another problem is that the prophetic images were often vague and stretched the meaning and context of the text to fit the current events of the commentator.

Today, adherents to the Histroicist view are few and far between and most would reside within traditional Seventh Day Adventist scholarship.

I am including them in this discussion because of the great and rich history of the view and the stature of those proponents attached to this method.

Adherents include:

Newton, Huss, Wesley, Edwards, Whitefield, Finney, Spurgeon, Henry, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, Tyndale and Wycliffe…and modern Seventh-Day Adventist

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2 Responses to “Revealing Revelation – This View is History”

  1. 1 Yeshua the Lord of Glory

    Hi David

    How are you? I just wanted to know if you by any chance saw the message that i left for you on Saturday…I left the comment on your post… Revealing Revelation double trouble.

    I hope all is well David…

    • 2 low5point

      Yes i did, but since i know you are expecting more of an answer than “no, I don’t think another character is introduced” i was taking some time to reconfigure the argument in ways i may not have expressed in the original post itself 🙂


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