- If events have significance to God's plan of redemption, those events will be foretold by prophets.
- If the prophesied event occurred within the time frame during which biblical writing was inspired, its fulfillment will be recorded in the scriptures dealing with that period.
- If a prophecy interprets the past (as it certainly does in the Revelation) it's fulfillment in the past will be recorded in the scriptures dealing with that period. (Predictive) prophecy is difficult to interpret. It may imply now, or soon, or distant future, or perhaps have duel fulfilment.
The post lead to a discussion on the dating of the book of Revelation and various interpretations of Revelation.
Traditionally these are
Had I labelled myself previously, perhaps it would have been a futurist. I find I have increasing sympathy for preterism. I would not say that I have abandoned futurism for preterism, it would better to say I have incorporated aspects of preterism.
Nevertheless, I do not think that Revelation needs to fit into a preterist, historicist or futurist interpretation; I am more concerned with what Scripture says and with consistency. As Douglas Wilson has written,
We must always allow the words of Scripture to speak to us, straight up, and not modify them for the sake of a theological system. Receive the Word as spoken, and let the system (which will form necessarily) take care of itself.It may be that eschatology is best understood under the classification of futurism, or preterism, or idealism, or historicism; or they may each contribute aspects of the truth.
It seems that futurism has a slightly more literal approach to prophecy. Although I have sympathy with literal hermeneutics, there are aspects of prophecy that call this approach into question; or at least suggest modification.
My general hermeneutic is probably better described as more grammatical (straightforward interpretation) than literal. Much of the Bible is to be understood in a literal manner (especially history). Still, figures of speech, idioms, approximations, hyperbole, rhetoric are all features of Scripture and Scripture needs to be interpreted with this in mind.
So is predictive prophecy literal? Well it may point to literal events: Isaiah's prophecies of the Messiah meant that a real person was coming. Yet some fulfilments of prophecy seem to be more spiritual than physical.
There are aspects of prophecy that should make us question whether something is literal, or rather that a literal aspect may be fulfilled in a difficult to perceive way. A couple are hiddenness and scriptural interpretation of prophecy.
If we view prophecy in the broadest aspect: God speaking to people though his servants, it seems that clarity is attenuated by righteousness. What I mean by this is that our ability to understand is modified by our receptiveness to God. Those inclined toward God understand better than those opposed to God. Jesus spoke in parables for this reason. Isaiah says,
‘You will be ever hearing, but never understanding;/Thus there is an aspect of hiddenness to Scripture. Related to this hiddenness is the concept that prophecy is better understood after the event than before it. That is, its fulfilment clearly relates to the prophecy, but this is much harder to grasp before the event.
you will be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’/
This people’s heart has become calloused;/
they hardly hear with their ears,/
and they have closed their eyes (Isaiah 6:9-10, Septuagint)
We also need to read how the authors of Scripture understood prophecy. For example Matthew's interpretation of prophecies is different than I would expect at times. Jesus indicates that some things should be understood as more spiritual than material. We need to learn from Jesus and the inspired authors.
We need to read Scripture (including eschatology) aright. Avoiding both hyperliteralism (phylacteries) and over-spiritualisation (Jesus has returned in the church; Jesus has risen in our hearts); and also rightly discerning which aspects are more literal and which are more spiritual.