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David S. Clark - The Message From Patmos: A Postmillennial Commentary on the Book of Revelation (1921) "This early twentieth-century Postmillennial commentary on the Book of Revelation, written by the father of theologian Gordon Clark, offers an easy-to-read alternative to the popular Pre-millennial/Dispensational views of the best-selling Scofield Reference Bible and a multitude of other dissertations on end-time prophecy that litter the shelves of Christian bookstores. "

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Playing the Eschatological Guessing Game

By Don Walker

There seems to an irresistible urge among many preachers to engage in a prophetic "guessing game" regarding current events. This desire apparently strikes the strongest when a national or world crisis occurs. 

Like the political pundits who rush forward to express their opinions on domestic, foreign or military policy; these prophetic pundits rush forward to show how the current events fit into an apocalyptic scenario. Immediately books are written, tapes are produced, and charts are revised to interpret the crisis, and where it fits in the eschatological puzzle. New candidates for the Antichrist emerge, the harlot of Babylon is re-examined, and the timetable for Armageddon re-written. 

For those of us who have been around awhile, we've seen this before. The names of the players change, but the game remains. Yes prophecy fans, it's "guessing time" again. Another opportunity to lose credibility. Fortunately, the pain of past losses are soon forgotten when a new season begins. 

The scars of past seasons have healed over and hope springs eternal that, "this time we've got it right." The veterans of this game know the fans have a very short memory, and the rookies are fearless in their proclamation of "truth." Money can be made: write a novel, produce a movie, start a TV program. 

Truly the opportunities are endless. Undoubtedly, we will once again hear that familiar cry, "The Lord told me" coming forth from the charismatic players. While on the other side of the field our evangelical and fundamentalist brethren will declare "The Bible says." 

The fans will line up behind their favorite players and debates will rage. The word "heretic" will fill the air, along with such terms as "scoffer" and "false prophet." Too bad Ol' Edgar "88 Reasons" Whisenant seems to have retired. Players like that only come along once in a lifetime. There was a player who was not afraid to "swing for the fences," and even though he struck out, he refused to leave the batter's box. His sequel "89 Reasons" was a revisionist classic, truly a hallmark of Christian literature. 

This all would be funny, if it wasn't so sad. It is not only the cults who have erroneously issued apocalyptic warnings. Christian leaders have time and time again, thrown away their credibility by playing this game. Unfortunately, the events of September 11th have kicked off a new round of speculations. 

I am not questioning the sincerity of the prognosticators, only their wisdom. Time has shown that there have been many sincere, God-loving, men and women who predicted future events based upon their interpretation of the Scriptures and been wrong. In fact, many times over the past one hundred years evangelical leaders have cried, "Wolf," regarding Armageddon, the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, and various other so-called "end-time" events. I suggest we call for a moratorium on such declarations. 

Dwight Wilson, (a premillennial, Assemblies of God minister and professor of history), has written an important book entitled Armageddon Now. He has chronicled the failed prophetic predictions of many well-known leaders since the turn of the last century. In writing this book he hoped to sound a warning to preachers, to avoid making the same mistake. Nevertheless, many of his peers seem to ignore such warnings and march in "where angels fear to tread." 

One of the best known forecasters stated in 1975 with great certainty, "The Soviet flag will fly over Independence Hall in Philadelphia by 1976." Another popular preacher virtually guaranteed that the Tribulation would begin in 1982 following a Russian invasion of Israel. Still another prophecy teacher wrote, " I am convinced that the Lord is coming for His Church before 1981." All of these men are well-recognized leaders, and to my knowledge have never publicly repented for their "false prophecy." 

In addition, it appears that these statements are quickly forgotten, or excused by most of the Body of Christ. We certainly were not so generous when the Jehovah's Witnesses or Herbert W. Armstrong missed it. 

But what is more harmful than simply the failed forecasts, is the way this causes the Bible to be viewed. The Bible is not a collection of predictions, like the writings of Nostradamus. It is not a "code book" through which we are to ascertain the future. Such an approach lowers the Bible from the place and purpose for which it was given. It is the record of God's Covenant. The Covenant is the meaning of Biblical history. The Covenant is the meaning of Biblical law. The Covenant is the meaning of Biblical prophecy. 

The Old Testament prophets were not into "foretelling" the future as their primary task. Their task was to call Man back to the Covenant. The purpose of prophecy is not "prediction," but evaluation of man's response to the Covenant. Because the covenantal context of the Bible has been ignored; it has been reduced in the minds of many, to being nothing more than the basis for speculations. It is seen as an interesting book, in which many mysteries are hidden concerning the future of mankind, not unlike the Great Pyramid of Cheops. 

Alas, I suppose the "eschatological guessing game" will continue. It's become a pretty big business you know. Maybe someday soon we will be able to buy our "prophecy books" at the supermarket checkout counter, along with The National Inquirer.

What do YOU think ?

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24 Nov 2001


Really interesting.  Thanks for the great articles.

27 Nov 2001



01 Dec 2001


Ignores the fact that God's covenants with the world preceded his covenants with Old Testament Israel. God's promises to Israel were the means by which, in the first century, he kept his earlier promises to the world. Or don't Adam and Noah appear in the preterists' Bible?

14 Jan 2002


Very good. However, the premillennial dispensationsational apocalyptic model is too lucrative to be concerned with petty concerns such as Biblical evidence. I know too many people who espouse the latest model as the essence of Biblical truth. Revelation is, I believe, a book to be read in the same way as the OT prophets. It was relevant for the early church and not a book of prophecies which would only be of true worth in 2000-odd years time! It was'revelation' aswell and should be understood by the wise reader. Hermeneutics? Well, only diamond can cut diamond. The primary hermeneutic must be the rest of the Word. Anyhow, why are people forever believing that their own age is the apocalyptic one?


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