We are in the Last Days when prophetic events are happening, and where prophetic events begin to happen, confusion automatically results. People were ask about the war in Iraq and what is happening in the Middle East and how to understand it biblically in light of biblical prophecy.
There are four ways to understand eschatology, four ways to understand Last Days prophecy in Western theological thought:
Preterism says these things already happened and have no future meaning, that they already happened in the Early Church or whatever and they have no future meaning. Revelation has no future meaning in this view at it has all happened already. This is the eschatology of the Kingdom-Now people who say there will be no Antichrist, no falling away, no Rapture, that the Church will go from strength to strength, and Satan is bound. (If Satan is bound I want to know who keeps letting him go.) Additionally they say that the church is going to conquer the whole world for Christ before He comes. Now it is not logical to believe such nonsense, but there is not much logic in the people who preach such nonsense. This is Preterism.
There are two forms of Preterists. First are the liberals, the unsaved so-called theologians. What they say is, “Well, Isaiah could not have known a king named Cyrus would come along 200 years later and send the Jews back to Israel from the Captivity in Isaiah 44-45, so therefore Isaiah could not have written the book of Isaiah. It had to be somebody they call “Deutero-Isaiah” who came along after the fact and took something that already happened and made it look like a prediction called an “ex vatacina interpolation.” Their presupposition is, “We cannot be sure there is a God, if there is He does not know the future, and even if He did He would not tell Isaiah, so therefore Isaiah and Daniel could not have been so accurate in what was predicted. Somebody had to come along hundreds of years later and make believe.” That is what the liberals say.
Then we have Historicism. There are people who say they are born again, who are Evangelicals, who believe in a form of Preterism, and these are the ones who say that Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation were fulfilled in 70 A.D.
Historicism is what some of the Reformers believed. They would say, “Well, there are many antichrists; we should not look for these two people in the book of Revelation, that is simply literary illustration. The papacy is an ongoing institution – it is an antichrist institution; so every Pope is the Antichrist.” You go to Northern Ireland, the Presbyterians believe this. They go so far as to say “the restrainer” in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 who restrains Antichrist from coming was pagan Rome and when the Visigoths conquered pagan Rome in the 5th Century, then the papacy came to power. That is how far they take it. The restrainer is the Holy Spirit, but they actually say it was imperial pagan Rome. This is Historicism.
Then there is Poemicism. Poemicism says, “Well, the book of Revelation is only poetry. It is given only to encourage the Church that Jesus will come back one day. It is given to encourage us at times of persecution. We should not take it as having any specific meaning, it is like poetry. It is just to cheer us up when things are tough.” Lutherans go with this. Luther basically rejected the book of Revelation and so Lutherans are stuck with the fact that the founder of their church did not like it. So what are they going to do with it? Well, it is poetry to them.
Then there is Futurism. Futurists are people like the late Barry Smith, my friend, and Hal Lindsay and these people say that there will be an Antichrist, there will be a mark of the beast, there will be a falling away.
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Die tyd raak min, maak maar seker jou eskatologiese vertrekpunte is korrek!