QUESTION: What are the different schools
of interpretting Bible Prophecy?
ANSWER: There are three schools of interpretting Bible prophecy.
Preterism (moderate) - This view is arguably the oldest and most traditional view of Bible prophecy, dating back to the 2nd century. This school of thought teaches that John literally meant what he said when he wrote that the events in Revelation must shortly come to pass. Preterists view the prophecies of Daniel, Jesus' Olivet discourse, and Revelation in light of historical events that were fulfilled during the Old Covenant period ending in 70 AD. They believe the "great tribulation" occurred around 70 AD. The term "last days" is not a reference to the end of the world, but to the last days of the Old Covenant between God and the nation of Israel. Moderate preterists believe in a future, literal Second Return of Jesus followed by a Millennial period of 1,000 years.
Historicism - This view originated in the early church but never gained much prominence until the Protestant Reformation. Historicism teaches that much of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are to be fulfilled over long ages of church history. A prominent aspect of Historicism is associating every evil power of Daniel or Revelation with the Papacy. They believe the "great tribulation" occurred over a long period of centuries during the dark ages. Historicism gained popularity among Protestants during the Reformation era, not so much because it was accurate, but because it allowed Protestants to identify the Papacy as an apostate system prophesied in the Bible. As anti-Catholic fervor dwindled, so did interest in this controversial school of thought.
Futurism - Sometimes called dispensationalism, originated with a Jesuit named Francisco Ribera who, in 1590, published a commentary on Revelation in which all but the first chapters of Revelation are placed far in the future. This work was part of the counter-reformation to counteract the historicist attack of Martin Luther and other Protestants. John Nelson Darby adopted, modified and popularized the idea of futurism in the 1820s. C.I. Scofield accepted the view of Darby and reproduced it in his Scofield Bibles. As historicism came to be viewed as unreliable because of having so many differing variations on interpretting the same symbols, Furturism's more literalist approach gained favor among Christian denominations. Futurism views much of the prophecies of Daniel, Jesus' Olivet discourse, and Revelation to be yet future. Most futurists believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. The school places a lot of emphasis on the Jews as God's chosen people, and Israel as God's nation. They believe the "great tribulation" and the anti-Christ are yet future.
QUESTION: Which is the correct method of intepretting Bible Prophecy?
ANSWER: The moderate preterist view is most consistent with the literal text of Bible prophecy. In His Olivet discourse, Jesus told his disciples the events He was describing would take place during their "generation". Likewise, John told his readers several times that the events of Revelation were to come to pass shortly. Only preterism takes Jesus and John seriously in this regard. Historicism and futurism ignore the statements of imminence by Jesus and John, and push prophetic events far out into the future. The whole foundation of historicism is built upon a pre-conceived notion that the Papacy is an evil, persecuting power and should be identified as such at any opportunity in Bible prophecy. Historicism's views seem to be colored by the authors' pre-conceived ideas about the Catholic Church. Its interpretations are subjective, and its popularity waned along with anti-Catholicism, and its conclusions became more doubtful as Catholicism's power, prominence, and position rapidly declined over subsequent centuries, replaced by more dangerous opponents to Christianity such as Islam. Futurism, on the other hand, has the dubious distinction of having been devised by Catholic Jesuits for the sole purpose of counter-acting historicism. The problems with futurism are well-documented on the Internet.
QUESTION: Do Preterists believe all Bible prophecy was fulfilled by 70 AD?
ANSWER: No, most preterists do not hold this view. Those that do are called "hyper" or "full" preterists. Hyper-preterism is considered by many moderate preterists to be heretical. Moderate preterists view most of Bible prophecy to have been fulfilled by the end of the first century AD, but acknowledge some events, such as the second appearing of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the millennium to be yet future.
QUESTION: Was Preterism invented by Jesuits as part of the counter-reformation?
ANSWER: No, that is a lie perpetrated by Seventh-day Adventists to blaspheme preterism and stifle investigation through guilt by association. It is true that a Catholic Jesuit wrote a treatise on preterism during the counter-reformation, but many Protestants also wrote on preterism during the same era. Preterism traces its roots back to the second century, and there have been many prominent preterists since long before the Jesuit order was born. Preterism is the original, the "orthodox", and the "traditional" method of interpretting Bible Prophecy for over a millennium until the time of the Protestant Reformation. Historicism, which also had a long history on the periphery, only gained prominence during the Reformation as Protestant leaders "discovered" the papacy on the pages of almost every evil power in Daniel and Revelation. Apparently contrived from an anti-Catholic mindset rather than a critical evaluation of the facts, Historicism's fortunes waned as anti-Catholic fervor died down. Its highly subjective and controversial nature led many to question if it was not based more on wishful thinking rather than actual fact. In its place, the Jesuit-devised docrine of Futurism has arisen to prominence over the past two centuries, and Preterism has also been making inroads.
QUESTION: When was Revelation written?
ANSWER: We believe there is strong evidence that Revelation was written sometime around 65 AD. For more information on this subject, click here.