Historicism as a principle of prophetic interpretation


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2 Peter 1

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ…

19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

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Historicism

Resources for defining it:

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SOURCE: HISTORICIST

“The Historicist approach to prophecy is an admission of God’s presiding control of history leading to a climactic conclusion with the fulfillment of God’s plan as set forth in Scripture. It is one’s understanding of God’s plan in history that makes clear God’s plan for the future.”

SOURCE: Historicism.com | Explore the classic Protestant interpretation of Bible prophecy

“This way of interpreting Bible prophecy, called ‘Historicism’, is not about guessing the future. It’s about comparing history to the prophecies in the Bible.”

From page 2 of their Site Tour:

“Historicism is the view that most of Revelation describes history as it has been unfolding over the last 20 centuries. Historicists see in the prophecies concerning the Dragon, the Beast, the False Prophet, and the Whore of Babylon, references to the pagan Roman Empire, papal Rome (that is, Roman Europe under the rule of the popes), the Papacy, and the Roman Catholic Church.  The majority of Historicists also identify the symbols of the smoke rising from the Abyss and the invasion of locusts as descriptions of the rise and spread of Islam. This view united all Protestants throughout the Reformation and has largely been replaced by Futurism as the dominant eschatology (belief about the end-times) of evangelical Christians.

“To put it another way, Historicism is the method of interpreting Biblical prophecy by comparing history to the prophecy in question. Historicists believe that prophecy is history pre-written. Therefore prophecy can be understood by looking to the past to discover what has, and hasn’t, been fulfilled. Historicism, as a school of thought, like futurism, contains many differing opinions as to details of prophetic interpretation. It is not a system that must stand or fall by its ability to withstand criticism. It is a method of interpretation that allows its adherents to continually re-evaluate their opinions as they grow in their understanding of both history, and the Bible.”

SOURCE: Historicism Research Foundation

“In brief, Historicism teaches that biblical predictions are being fulfilled throughout history and continue to be fulfilled today. The Book of Revelation is a pre-written history of the Church from the time of its writing to the future Second Advent of Christ, which shall usher in the new heaven and new earth… Historicists agree on the following unique concepts:

“The ‘Year-Day’ principle – In prophetic language, a day of symbolic time represents a year of actual, historic time.

“The ‘Time, Times and Half a time,’ ‘3 1/2 years,’ ‘1260 days’, and ’42 month’ time period, which occurs seven times in Daniel and Revelation, is understood by Historicists to be fulfilled in history. 

“All Historicists believe that the Papacy is that Anti-Christ, the Man of Sin of II Thessalonians 2, and a Beast of Revelation 13.

“Historicists generally agree Revelation 9 speaks of the Muslim scourge which afflicted Christendom.

“All Historicists agree that the Book of Revelation prophesies the history of the Church from the Apostolic Era to the future Second Advent of Jesus Christ.”

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A word of caution:

In studying Bible prophecy, I’ve stumbled across websites and YouTube channels in which historicism is used as a principle of interpretation. However, several times the sites or channels proved to be Seventh Day Adventist (SDA). 

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