The Hermeneutics Of Eschatology: Preterism And Dispensationalism Compared -- By: Douglas M. Beaumont
CAJ 8:2 (Fall 2009) p. 55
The Hermeneutics Of Eschatology: Preterism And Dispensationalism Compared
There are four principle views of eschatology within orthodox Christianity. One view has it that most eschatological prophecy was fulfilled primarily in the past (Preterism), another that it is being fulfilled throughout history in either a linear or recurring fashion (Historicism and Idealism respectively), and finally there is the view that it awaits fulfillment in the future (Futurism).1 Two of the more popular views, Preterism and Futurism, have entered the spotlight recently, fostering several multi–view books and online debate forums pitting the two against each other. The Preterist sees specific fulfillment of many “end time” events in the siege and subsequent destruction
CAJ 8:2 (Fall 2009) p. 56
of Jerusalem and the temple by AD 70.2 The Futurist regards Revelation as referring to events that will occur just prior to the end of the world and thus are located not only in the author’s future, but the church’s as well.3 As should be expected, one’s hermeneutic will greatly affect how one views the events and their fulfillment. While a methodical overview of the main interpretive strategies of each view would be valuable, this article will focus only on the two reaching the most disparate conclusions—Preterism and Futurism.4 As being the most diverse with regard to their beliefs about the fulfillment of eschatological prophecy, one might expect them to hold to the two most diverse hermeneutical methods; yet as this paper hopes to demonstrate, this may not be the case.
Popular Hermeneutical Claims
John Walvoord says that eschatology “more than any other major field of theology has suffered at the hands of its interpreters. Even among those whose confidence in the inspired Word of God is unquestioned, there exist widely divergent schools of interpretation.”5 Proponents of each view have engaged in rigorous debate both live and in print, and the interpretive practice of the other is often the subject of attack. This study will examine the hermeneutical methodology of variant exegetes and attempt to discover where the differences lie and what their effect is upon interpretation.
While most interpreters devote some space in their writings to a consideration of exegetical methodology, in many cases the issue is simply glossed over with popular hermeneutical slogans, and the interpreter’s
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