WHY REVIEW ESCHATOLOGY?
Page Disclaimer: I in no way claim to be an expert on eschatology. The various principles that establish the foundation for each camp of Christian eschatology have been around way longer than I have. With that, the purpose of this page is simply to encourage you to take an honest look at how and why you interpret scripture through a particular lens (or point of view). I think that Timothy put it best when he said, study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. With that, this is the question. What camp are you in, and why?
Too many of us go our entire lives as Christians without asking that question. Without further introduction, let’s define some terms.
Eschatology – the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.
Preterism – an eschatological view that interprets prophecies of the Bible as events which have already happened. This school of thought interprets the Book of Daniel as referring to events that happened from the 7th century BC until the first century AD, while seeing the prophecies of Revelation as events that happened in the first century AD. Preterism holds that Ancient Israel finds its continuation or fulfillment in the Christian church at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Historicism – a method of interpretation of Biblical prophecies, associates symbols with historical persons, nations or events. It can result in a view of progressive and continuous fulfillment of prophecy covering the period from Biblical times to the Second Coming. Almost all Protestant Reformers from the Reformation into the 19th century held historicist views. The main primary texts of interest to Christian-historicists include apocalyptic literature, such as the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation.
Futurism – an eschatological view that interprets portions of the Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel as future events in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and worldwide context. Futurist interpretations generally predict a rapture of the church along with a tribulation will occur (a seven year period of time) when believers will experience worldwide persecution and martyrdom. Futurists differ on when believers will be raptured, but there are three primary views: 1) before the tribulation; 2) near or at the midpoint of the tribulation; or 3) at the end of the tribulation. There is also a fourth view of multiple raptures throughout the tribulation, but this view does not have a mainstream following.
So in short, it has either already happened, is in the process of happening, or is going to happen all at once at the end of time after the rapture. It’s no wonder so many Christians go their entire walk without looking into any of this stuff, content with living out their faith within the confines of the denomination they just so happened to fall into upon accepting Christ. There’s a lot to look at.
At the end of the day most people will argue that a large portion of this stuff doesn’t really matter. After all, we aren’t saved by our understanding of scripture. We are saved by the redeeming power of Christ through faith and obedience. Although I couldn’t agree more, I can’t help but ask, what does the Bible say about seeking for truth?
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. – Proverbs 18:13
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. – 1 Thessalonians 5:21
Like I said at the start of this page, I am no expert. And, the honest purpose of this page isn’t to persuade you in one direction or the other. But, to merely encourage you to get outside of your comfort zone by studying the Bible in a way that you may have never done before. If you are a Christian in the Western world (like myself), chances are you found Christ in the Futurist camp. Although there’s nothing wrong with that, I didn’t switch camps after more than a decade for no reason.
I’m a Historicist Christian, now. Prove all things. Hold fast that which is good. Don’t be ashamed to hear a matter before giving your answer. And show yourself approved by studying the word rather than the traditions of men by comparing scripture against scripture.
With that, here are a few resources I highly recommend looking into.
You will notice that the links referenced on this page are all from the same lecture series. This series is found on Youtube. I definitely recommend watching it in its entirety. Another fantastic Christian Historicist resource that covers everything from judgment, the state of the dead, why so many denominations, to the mark of the beast would be a paperback book by Mark Finley titled, Studying Together.