Prophetic interpretation of Daniel and Revelation
Historicist, Futurist, or Preterist?
Outlines the progression of divine revelation concerning human and ecclesiastical (church) history and the story of the struggle between good and evil from the time of the prophet on down to the end of time.
For centuries this was the chief method of biblical scholars as they interpreted these books.
The historical interpretation of prophecy identified and regards Papal Rome as the Babylon of the Apocalypse, and the Roman pontiff as ?the man of sin.? The historical interpretation was the earliest adopted in the Christian Church; it developed with the course of history; it sustained the Church in the wilderness through the long central ages of apostasy; it gave birth to the Reformation and gave them the courage to stand up against the dominate church in spite of much persecution, it provided the basis for the Adventist church to see where we are in history and to understand the three angel's message.
It stood for ages, and takes us through the time of the end into the light of eternity.
The historic interpretation is no dream of ignorant enthusiasts. It has grown with the growth of generations; it has been built up by the labours of men of many nations and ages. It has been embodied in solemn confessions of the Protestant Church. It forms a leading element in the testimony of martyrs and reformers. Like the prophets of old, these holy men bore a double testimony?a testimony for the truth of God, and a testimony against the apostasy of His professing people?and this was their testimony and nothing less, that Papal Rome is the Babylon of prophecy, drunken with the saints and martyrs; and that its head, the Roman pontiff, is the predicted ?man of sin,? or antichrist. To reject this testimony of God?s providential witnesses on a matter of such fundamental import, and to prefer to it the counter-doctrine advocated by the apostate, persecuting Church of Rome, is the error and guilt of modern Futurism.? H. Grattan Guinness,Romanism and the Reformation From the Standpoint of Prophecy, pp. 297, 298.
So what happened?
Rome was facing a crises. The Prophecies in the Bible were all pointing at the Roman Papal system as the anti-christ, the whore with the wine of intoxication, the apostate religious system, the horn speaking blasphemy. So the counter-reformation was launched, and a prophetic interpretation that supposedly wasn't talking about papal Rome had to be introduced.
One system: preterist, had placed the fulfilment of prophecy all before the papacy arose.
The other system: futurism, skipped from Christ's day all the way to the end, ignoring all Christian history in the middle and predicting the prophecies will all be fulfilled at the end. The latter later became rather popular with protestants (destroying their former historicist interpretations)
Get's it's name because most of the prophecies (except for a few referring to Christ's time) are lifted and far removed from the prophet's time, into the future.
Futurism sees the symbolic mostly as literal, denying the symbolic character of many of the symbols.
It hides the light that has guided the faithful throughout Christendom,
It basically tries to tell us the Reformers were all wrong in their prophetic interpretations and they were right.
It tries to tell us Adventism is all wrong in their prophetic interpretations and that Rome was never identified in these prophecies.
Futurism can take different forms.
One rather popular form of futurism developed rather recently by "protestants" has made a large impact on society! It has and is playing a role in shaping American (and some others) foreign policy toward the Middle East. It has introduced several (what we believe are unbiblical) doctrines, like -- the secret rapture, Daniel's 70th week thrown into the future, the need for a third temple, where anti Christ will interfere with sacrifices, etc.
Catholics do NOT generally buy into the rapture side of futurism. One tends to find more preterist ideas in Catholic literature.
The Book of Revelation according to one Catholic scholar, was written for people who were living during the time of the author. It was written for them. They were being persecuted thus encouraging prophecies were written for them in code for their protection. Revelation, he claimed, is not a prophecy outlining things for the 21st Century.
It is also stated in their literature: that neither is the Book of Revelation a prophecy of some future or imminent return of Christ. It is a symbolic record of the victory of the Church over the world of evil especially during the days of the Roman Empire. But also in the time of the end the church will triumph. They do teach that Christ will come in glory to judge the world at some point as well. But a big point is the triumph of the church over society.
.There are facts: Rome felt the force of these prophecies in Revelation, and sought to evade them. The only way for them was to deny their applicability Find different objects or groups to pin the accusing prophecies on. They could not deny their existence in Scripture. They were there plainly enough. But they denied that these prophecies referred to the Romish Church and its head. It pushed them aside. It shifted them from the entire field of mediaeval and modern history.?
See H. Grattan Guinness, Romanism and the Reformation from the Standpoint of Prophecy, pp. 251, 252.