Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Newspaper exegesis

Dispensational premils are frequently accused of resorting to "newspaper exegesis." And they are, indeed, often guilty as charged. One classic example is John F. Walvoord's, Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis. Nor surprisingly, he had to keep updating it. 

That's a trap which premils often fall into. And it can be spiritually hazardous, for when events falsify their interpretation of endtime prophecy, they can become disillusioned and lose their faith. 

But in fairness, "newspaper exegesis" isn't really unique to dispensationalism or premillennialism. There's a sense in which every school of prophecy attempts to correlate Biblical prophecies with historical events. For instance, Loraine Boettner defended postmillennialism based on his rosy reading of modern history. In his view, the world was getting better. Like Dispensationalists, postmils may imagine that they are on the verge of the Second Coming. Dabney was a postmil, although the Civil War may have dampened his optimism. 

Obviously, the historicist school attempts to correlate Revelation with milestones in church history, viz. the Gothic war, rise of the papacy, rise of Islam, the Ottoman Empire, &c., Preterists attempt to correlate NT prophecies with the First Jewish-Roman War or the fall of the Roman Empire. 

Amils correlate golden age prophecies with world mission. Because amil correlations are far looser than Dispensational correlations, amil correlations aren't directly falsifiable, which spares them the embarrassment of premillennial date-setters. But it's a difference of degree rather than kind. Every school of prophecy runs the risk of misidentifying predictions. That's unavoidable–although some positions are more vulnerable than others. 

1 comment:

  1. The ebb and flow of human history is impossible to unify into a grand theory that correlates events from our finite perspective. I can't even correlate events in my own life, about which I have much more and direct information than anyone apart from God Himself. It's not foolish to look for, and attempt to discern God's hand of providence in the outworking of history in time, but it's wise to hold one's conclusions and convictions about such matters loosely apart from where God's actions in history are directly revealed in Scripture.