Historicism- the Proper Prophetic Hermeneutic










by~D.S. Farris

The reason that the Reformers were able to identify the Papacy as the Antichrist is because of the way they interpreted the scriptures. There was no such thing as dispensationalism prior to the 19th century. The evangelicals of the past used the whole Bible as the testimony of God’s will. The Protestants did not chop up the scriptures into sections that belong exclusively to the Jews, whole other scriptures apply exclusively to the Church. They understood that prophecy belonged to God’s people as a whole for they envisioned God’s peoples as being one people from Adam to the close of time. The Reformers believed in the Everlasting Covenant, which had been brought to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David.

Because of Protestantism’s understanding of the unity of the saints and the unity of the scriptures, they applied Prophecy as a continual process of fulfillment until the close of time. Said another way; to the Reformers, Prophecy had been fulfilled, it was being fulfilled, and it was going to be fulfilled. This definition is where we gain the name for the school of Prophetic interpretation called, Historicism. Historicism become the logical approach to prophecy when it has been discovered that dispensation theology on Israel is faulty, for when the whole Bible is used together—without artificial divisions between scripture and Gods’ people—there is no longer a need to place Prophecy at the end of time as something mainly for the Jew. Froom explains the logic of applying Historicism to prophecy, rather than Futurism:

“Futurism removes the application from the tangible check of historical fulfillment where it can be tested, and gets it into the future where necessarily imaginative treatment of prediction but as yet unfulfilled events cannot be checked against anything solid or historical as a guide. It is therefore without limit as to the speculative possibilities that can scarcely be gainsaid. If literalism lead to absurdities, futruity of application leads to fantasy.” (Prophetic Faith Of Our Fathers, Vol. 2, Appedicces, 802)

The Reformers understood that Paul and John applied the mystery of lawlessness as something that had already begun in their day. They understood that Paul envisioned the mystery of lawlessness something that was to gradually gain size until a great falling away (apostasy) took place in the Church; this was to initiate that actual man of lawlessness. The Reformers were able to see this as an established reality in their day.

They realized that the New Testament scriptures apply the “Temple (Naos) of God” as being the body of Christ. Therefore, it was obvious to them that that the Pope was sitting in the temple (the body of Christ) making himself God on earth. They did not separate Paul’s temple in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 from other New Testament descriptions (1 Cor. 3:9,17; Eph. 2:20,21)

The Antichrist sits in the temple of God and professes to be God

Martin Luther, for example, did not believe the temple to be some building in Jerusalem:

The Antichrist sits in the temple of God and professes to be God, as Paul has proclaimed, and changes all divine order as Daniel says, and suppress Holy Writ. Sell dispensations, indulgences, pallia, bishopics, tenures, takes taxes dissolved marriages, burdens the conscience with his laws, makes and annuls laws for the sake of money. (Translated from : Passional Christi un Antichrisisi mit Bilder von Luca Cranach dem Alteren, 41.).

To Luther, the Abomination of Desolation was not to be future occurrence in some Jerusalem building. Identifying the Papacy as Babylon and identifying Babylon as the Abomination of Desolation, Luther declared where this was manifest: “He sitteth in the temple of god (that means, in the midsst of Christendom), showing himself that he is God” (Luther’s sammtlciche Werke, Vol. 24, 161). The Bohemian Reformer, John Huss (1369-1415) was condemned at the Council of Constance (1414 – 1418) and then burned at the stake. Why did this happen to him? He believed that Daniel’s Abomination of Desolation had taken place in the Papacy: “Surely now the wickedness, iniquity, and basenss of Antichrist has been revealed in the Pope and his associates in the Council: now the faithful servants of God can understand the meaning of the Saviour’s words, When ye shall see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet,…he that readeth, let him understand” (John Huss, The Letters of John Huss, 258). Obviously, the Protestants of the Reformation era had different about the Antichrist, ideas different than what is believed in the popular evangelical churches of this century. Though some of the symbols in Daniel and Revelation were used to represent the rise of Islam, the Reformers applied the majority of the symbols to the Papacy.

The Reformers did not come to all truth in their day, for it took over one thousand years for Christendom to get as confused as it was in falsehood. God rose up Protestantism to revive an understanding of the unity of the scriptures, the true Gospel as described in Romans and Galatians, and the identity of the Antichrist. God rose up Protestantism to set a pattern for the correct procedure of interpretation. They were to set a stage that would be more and more perfected over time by God’s people. (D.S. Farris, Dismantling the Dispensational Delusion, Chapter 5)

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  1. #1 by fimon stovall on June 16, 2015 - 1:40 PM

    Wow!!!! This is really something

  2. #2 by Darrell on September 21, 2015 - 5:49 PM

    @ fimon – that it is.

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