Historicism (Christian eschatology)

Historicism (Christian eschatology)

In Christian eschatology, Historicism is a school of interpretation which treats the eschatological prophecies of Daniel and Revelation as finding literal earthly fulfillment through the history of the church age and especially in relation to the struggle between the true church and apostasy. Historicism became a significant feature in the Protestant-Catholic conflicts of the Reformation. A common feature of Historicist interpretations, which makes them very controversial, is the identification of the Antichrist (1 and 2 John), the Beast (Revelation 13), the Man of Sin or Man of Lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2) and the Whore of Babylon (Revelation 17) with the Roman Catholic Church, the Papal system and each successive Pope himself (a common position held by Protestants in the Reformation, which is not prevalent today). However, it must be noted that such an identification is not unique to Historicism, has not been held by all Historicists, and has been and is currently, held by some Futurists. Similarly the day-year principle is a characteristic feature of Historicism, though not a defining feature as it is not unique to Historicism. The principle of a 'mystical' or symbolic interpretation of prophetic time durations has been held even by Preterists such as the Jesuit Luis De Alcazar of Seville. ['...Alcasar does positively determine about these three years and an half, that they must necessarily be understood in a Mystical Sense, to answer the nature of a Mystical Prophecy, as this is. According as we see the half hour in the 8th. Chapter, and the five Months in the 9th. Chapter, to be taken; which he says, are an Instance in the Prophecy, to direct us to the Mystical Use of Time in all other places of it. And to take the Days and Months in their literal sense, he says, Is not at all suitable to an Enigmatical Style.' Drue Cressener, preface to 'The Judgments Of God Upon The Roman Catholic Church, &c.', 1689]

Emerging within the early church, Historicism was the dominant eschatological interpretation for much of Christian history until being gradually supplanted in the 19th century by Preterism and Futurism. A Historicist approach was taken by Martin Luther, [Leroy Edwin Froom, "The Prophetic Faith Of Our Fathers", volume II (1948) pages 267-279] though claims that John Calvin held to the Historicist interpretation [Francis Nigel Lee, 'The Non-Preterist Historicism of John Calvin and the Westminster Standards' (2000)] are not universally recognized. [Leroy Edwin Froom, "The Prophetic Faith Of Our Fathers", volume II (1948) page 436] .

One famous proponent of Historicism, for whom eschatology informed on politics, is Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland and Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. Paisley's party is the largest in the region, and many believe)

Revelation 12-13 contains a prophecy about the forces of evil in the middle ages and end times. The dragon represents both Satan and pagan Rome. The Remnant church is mentioned in Revelation 12:17. The first beast of Revelation 13 (from the sea) symbolizes the Papacy, and the second beast (from the earth) symbolizes the United States of America. The "image to the beast" represents Protestant churches which will form an alliance with the Papacy, and the "mark of the beast" refers to a future universal Sunday law. ["Seventh-day Adventists Believe" (2nd ed), pp. 190-197, 382]

According to the traditional interpretation and conservative scholars, Revelation 14 contains the three angels' messages, which represent the mission of the Remnant (that is, the Seventh-day Adventist church). The seven last plagues (Revelation 15-16) occur during the "time of trouble" following the close of human probation. Revelation 17-18 recapitulate with a description of Roman Catholicism (Babylon, the great whore) and its final downfall. ["Seventh-day Adventists believe" (2nd ed).]

Finally, Revelation 19-22 describe the second coming of Jesus, the millennium, the final (or "executive") judgment, and the new creation.

ee also

* Summary of Christian eschatological differences
* Futurism (Christian eschatology)
* Idealism (Christian eschatology)
* Preterism
* Book of Revelation
* Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse#Interpreted as Historic and Contemporary Events
* Book of Daniel


*Albert Barnes [Revelation in Notes on the New Testament; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1884–85 ]
*John Calvin
*Adam Clarke
*Jonathan Edwards
*E.B. Elliott
*John Gill [Commentary of the Whole Bible]
*Matthew Henry [Acts to Revelation, vol. 6 in Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell ]
*Alexander Hislop
*John Knox
*George Ladd [A Commentary on the Revelation of John . Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972]
*Martin Luther
*Isaac Newton [ The Prophecies of Daniel & the Apocalypse. 1733]
*Ian Paisley
*John Wesley
*Ellen G. White
*George Whitefield


External links


* The [http://www.historicism.net/ Historicism Research Foundation] – run by Parnell McCarter, and which is advised by Dr. Francis Nigel Lee of Queensland Presbyterian Theological College.
* [http://www.dr-fnlee.org/docs6/antipret/antipret.html "The Non-Preterist Historicalism of John Calvin and the Westminster Standards"] by Francis Nigel Lee
* [http://historicist.com/ The Protestant Interpretation of Biblical Prophecy. The Historical Alternative]
* [http://www.historicism.com/ The historicist interpretation of prophecy ]
* [http://historicist.tripod.com/ Apocalypse: The Historicist Interpretation]

Seventh-day Adventist

* Jon Paulien's articles "The End of Historicism? Reflections on the Adventist Approach to Biblical Apocalyptic" - [http://www.atsjats.org/publication_file.php?pub_id=25&journal=1&type=pdf part 1] , [http://www.atsjats.org/publication_file.php?pub_id=243&journal=1&type=pdf part 2] (PDF) in the "Journal of the Adventist Theological Society" (supportive).
* [http://www.historicism.org/ "Historicism"] – based on a journal published from 1985 to 1991, circulated among Seventh-day Adventists, written by Frank W. Hardy (supportive).
* Kai Arasola, "The End of Historicism: Millerite Hermeneutic of Time Prophecies in the Old Testament", a history of the decline of the historicist method of interpretation (historical account).

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