Friday, February 20, 2009

2) Historicism (Esch 303)

Historicism interprets most of the prophecies as being fulfilled evenly throughout the history of the church by specific events. That is, the fulfillment of prophecy is not concentrated in a narrow block of time, either in the past or in the future. Rather, prophecy is fulfilled gradually throughout history.

For example, in Revelation 2-3, Jesus writes letters to seven churches in Asia Minor. Historicists view these seven churches as symbolic of seven periods of church history. Thus, the key is to figure out which of the seven letters describe the church today.

Historicism became especially popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as many of the Protestants interpreted the book of Revelation as describing their struggle against the Roman church. Thus, the great harlot of Revelation 17 is the Catholic church. The pope is the antichrist.

Historicism was the dominant view during the Reformation and Puritan era. In fact, the original version of the Westminster Confession of Faith names the pope as the antichrist. Many of the greatest theologians in church history were Historicists, with Martin Luther and Jonathan Edwards being two of such giants.

However, there are very few Historicists today. As the church has grown older, most have realized the arbitrariness of applying specific prophesies to contemporary situations. Thus, Historicism is by far the minority position today. As such, we will rarely interact with Historicism in our series on eschatology.


Frontier Forest said...

Wow, these folks took a pretty narrow stance! Talking about “intolerant!” Sorry to say, and ashamed to acknowledge, but I still hear far too much hatred being spewed forth from well meaning believers. Directing venomous and damming comments towards folks they don’t even know, wrongly assuming that if you belong to the Catholic Church, you are condemned to hell! And Paul clarified his stand towards fellow believers by simply proclaiming, “For I am determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Clearly the body of Christ needs to spend more time focusing on doing God’s work rather than tearing down and dividing God’s people.

Eric Adams said...

Woody, most of our Protestant forefathers were Historicists, including Calvin.