Institute for Christian Economics (December 1991) 274 + xxxi pages.
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From the Epilogue:
If the premillenarians espouse an interpretation of Scripture that expects a literal, precise fulfillment of prophecy, then one may expect precise, accurate definitions of the fulfillment of those prophecies, or lacking such precision, one may expect an admission of indefiniteness which would at least have the advantage of avoiding false identifications and gross error. The premillenarians’ history, however, is strewn with a mass of erroneous speculations which have undermined their credibility. Sometimes false identifications have been made dogmatically, at other times only as probabilities or possibilities, but the net result has always been the same—an increased skepticism toward pre- millennialism.Those persons confronted with premillenarians’ presentations need to be conscious of the composite past of prophetic interpretation which has included the following phenomena.
- The current crisis was always identified as a sign of the end, whether it was the Russo-Japanese War, the First World War, the Second World War, the Palestine War, the Suez Crisis, the June War, or the Yom Kippur War.
- The revival of the Roman Empire has been identified variously as Mussolini’s empire, the League of Nations, the United Nations, the European Defense Community, the Common Market, and NATO.
- Speculation on the Antichrist has included Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, and Henry Kissinger.
- The northern confederation was supposedly formed by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Rapallo Treaty, the Nazi-Soviet Pact, and then the Soviet B1oc.
- The “kings of the east” have been variously the Turks, the lost tribes of Israel, Japan, India, and China.
- The supposed restoration of Israel has confused the problem of whether the Jews are to be restored before or after the coming of the Messiah.
- The restoration of the latter rain has been pinpointed to have begun in 1897, 1917, and 1948.
- The end of the “times of the Gentiles” has been placed in 1895, 1917, 1948, and 1967.
- “Gog” has been an impending threat since the Crimean War, both under the Czars and the Communists.
Such loose liberalism when considered as a whole is no more precise than the figurative interpretations of which these literalists are so critical. The breadth of interpretations might even be compared to the obscure, Platonic, allegorical interpretations of the early Greek church fathers.