Millennial Series: Part 5: Amillennialism as a Method of Interpretation -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 107:425 (Jan 1950)
Article: Millennial Series: Part 5: Amillennialism as a Method of Interpretation
Author: John F. Walvoord


Millennial Series:
Part 5: Amillennialism as a Method of Interpretation

John F. Walvoord

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 18–30, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–13 respectively.}

The Issue

There is a growing realization in the theological world that the crux of the millenial issue is the question of method of interpreting Scripture. Premillenarians follow the so-called ‘grammatical-historical’ literal interpretation while amillenarians use a spiritualizing method. As Albertus Pieters, an avowed amillennalist, writes concerning the problem as a whole, “The question whether the Old Testament prophecies concerning the people of God must be interpreted in their ordinary sense, as other Scriptures are interpreted, or can properly be applied to the Christian Church, is called the question of spiritualization of prophecy. This is one of the major problems in biblical interpretation, and confronts everyone who makes a serious study of the Word of God. It is one of the chief keys to the difference of opinion between Premillenarians and the mass of Christian scholars. The former reject such spiritualization, the latter employ it; and as long as there is no agreement on this point the debate is interminable and fruitless.”1 The issue, then, between amillennialism and premillennialism is their respective methods of interpretation, and little progress can be made in the study of the millennial issue until this aspect is analyzed and understood.

The Popularity of the Amillennial Method

It is quite apparent that the amillennial method of interpretation of Scripture which involves spiritualization has achieved a considerable popularity. It is not too difficult to account for the widespread approval of the spiritualizing method adopted by many conservative theologians as well

as liberal and Roman Catholic expositors. Fundamentally its charm lies in its flexibility. The interpreter can change the literal and grammatical sense of Scripture to make it coincide with his own system of interpretation. The conservative and liberal and Roman Catholic can each claim that the Bible does not contradict his concept of theology. It is this very factor, however, which raises grave doubts concerning the legitimacy of a method which produces such diverse systems of interpretation. One of the major difficulties of amillennialism both as a system of theology and as a method of interpretation is that it has never achieved unity on the very essentials of Biblical truth. In the studies which follow this will have many illustrations.

It is significant th...

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