Premillennialism as a Philosophy of History Part 3: The Premillennial Interpretation of History -- By: Ramesh P. Richard

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 138:551 (Jul 1981)
Article: Premillennialism as a Philosophy of History Part 3: The Premillennial Interpretation of History
Author: Ramesh P. Richard


Premillennialism as a Philosophy of History
Part 3:
The Premillennial Interpretation of History

Ramesh P. Richard

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

The basic elements of a biblical philosophy of history have been briefly detailed in the previous article in this series.1 Most conservative Christians will concur with these essentials, though some may prefer to add a few others. The requirements for any philosophy of history have also been stated. They are comprehensiveness, coherence, and complementariness. Nonbiblical philosophies are inadequate because none of them is comprehensive.2 But even among biblical ones some are more comprehensive and more consistent than others.

It is the contention of this writer that premillennialism, especially dispensational premillennialism, provides the best substantive philosophy of history. Roberts, however, disagrees. He writes, “The tendency toward over-assurance has frequently been found among Christian historians within the evangelical tradition. Its most blatant and popular form is that interpretation of history called ‘dispensationalism.’“3 In a footnote he continues:

It is the opinion of the editors that, despite the popularity of dispensationalism, it is not really successful as an effort to relate Christianity and history in a scholarly way. It is probably fair to suggest that dispensationalism largely ignores the accepted canons of historical scholarship in its rather facile attempts to relate the Bible to current and future events.4

Roberts is right when he says that dispensationalism is an interpretation of history. If ever there was need for a biblical one,

dispensational premillennialism does provide for it. But a word such as “over-assurance” is highly relative. And pejorative words such as “blatant” or “facile attempts” are unnecessary. It is easier to be analytical than to be substantive. And that is exactly what Roberts is doing. He thinks that dispensationahsm is too simple to be right (as though simplicity is wrong in itself), but he does not articulate his own position except in a loose, indefinite way. He asserts that this “tendency towards over-assurance” may also be found in such Christian historians as Latourette and Dooyeweerd, but he suggests that they are more modest and academically respectable. But modesty and over-assurance are a strange couple in any case. Further, Roberts implies that Dooyeweerd’s ...

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