Posttribulationism Today: Part I: The Rise of Posttribulational Interpretation -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 132:525 (Jan 1975)
Article: Posttribulationism Today: Part I: The Rise of Posttribulational Interpretation
Author: John F. Walvoord

Posttribulationism Today:
Part I:
The Rise of Posttribulational Interpretation

John F. Walvoord

[John F. Walvoord, President, Dallas Theological Seminary, Editor, Bibliotheca Sacra.]

Eschatology As A Developing Science

In the history of the church, systematic theology has been a developing science. In this historical development, controversies in various areas of theology have followed, to some degree, the major divisions of systematic theology. In the early centuries the most important theological controversy related to the Scriptures themselves. Some in the postapostolic period, like the Montanists, claimed to have the same inspiration and authority as the apostles who wrote the Scriptures. The early church quickly recognized this as a heresy, and at the Council of Laodicea in 397, the canon was considered closed even though some apocryphal books were later recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.

With the establishment of the Scriptures as the basis of systematic theology, attention soon turned to the doctrine of the Trinity, and the Trinitarian controversies occupied the center of the stage. In 325 the approval of the Nicaean Creed, recognizing the full deity of Jesus Christ as a distinct person from the Father, set the stage for recognition of the doctrine of the Trinity as it is normally held in orthodoxy today. It was not until the Council of Constantinople in 381 that the Holy Spirit was given His rightful place. Subsequently, the church turned to the doctrine of sin and man, although the decision was less decisive as evidenced in the findings of the Council of Orange in 529.

It was not until the Protestant Reformation that the Augustinian concept of justification by faith was restored. With the withdrawal of

the Protestant churches from the Roman Catholic Church, not only was soteriology, the doctrine of salvation by grace, firmly established, but important doctrines related to ecclesiology, such as the priesthood of the believer and the right of every Christian to be his own interpreter of Scripture under the guidance of the Spirit, became cardinal tenets of the Protestant Reformation.

In the history of the church, however, eschatology continued to be an unsettled doctrine. Although the early church for the first two centuries was predominantly chiliastic and held that the second advent of Christ would be followed by a thousand-year reign on earth, this interpretation was soon challenged with the rise of the Alexandrian school of theology in Egypt led by Clement of Alexandria and Origen. An attempt was made to harmonize systematic theology with Platonic philosophy. As this was possible only by interp...

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