Premillennialism as a Philosophy of History Part 2: Elements of a Biblical Philosophy of History -- By: Ramesh P. Richard

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 138:550 (Apr 1981)
Article: Premillennialism as a Philosophy of History Part 2: Elements of a Biblical Philosophy of History
Author: Ramesh P. Richard


Premillennialism as a Philosophy of History
Part 2:
Elements of a Biblical Philosophy of History

Ramesh P. Richard

[Ramesh P. Richard, Instructor in Pastoral Ministries, Dallas Theological Seminary]

A Theology of History

The Bible has many emphases, some of which are major and some of which are minor. Though its basic purpose is not to construct a philosophy of history, it does contain a philosophy of history, a theological grid through which one is to think about history. It provides a framework in which the historical process can be interpreted. Thus a Christian philosophy of history is derived from the Bible.

Does this theological grid reduce the Bible’s objectivity and validity as a primary source of interpretation? This question can be answered in three ways.

First, all constructs are really theologies. If inner coherence or transcendent meanings are found outside the scope of the immediate investigative content, then they are theological (or atheological) impositions. Philosophies of history are called theologies of history for various reasons, but many writers note that the study of the whole of history is essentially theological.1 Even materialists and atheists like Marx and Engels “were nevertheless inclined to regard history through essentially theological spectacles, as though they could perceive a divine plan, but not a divine being whose plan it was.”2

Second, these other philosophers may claim to depend on history alone, not intending to transcend its sphere. Even if this is possible, they should not lay claim to absolute validity and binding significance. Their problem lies here. By denying the

significance of history, they posit their interpretation of its significance in their very denial of it. They claim not to transcend their sphere of study, but they are inconsistent when they claim some validity to their endeavors.

Third, because Christians recognize all philosophies to be theologies of history, they are not ashamed to postulate their own to be at least as valid and objective as the others. Thus the revelation of God in the Scriptures becomes the cornerstone of their interpretation of history. Christians hold that God’s Word is objective and valid in its “reading” of history. This is not circular reasoning, for God is ontologically prior to the Scriptures, while the Scriptures are epistemologically prior to God.3 Christians find their source of interpretation in the Bible. And if the God who is ou...

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