Hermeneutics And Church Among “Historic” Premillennialists -- By: Rolland D. McCune
CenQ 18:3 (Fall 1975) p. 2
Hermeneutics And Church Among “Historic” Premillennialists
Second Of Three Articles
Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis
This article will concern the hermeneutical underpinnings of “historic” premillennialism and the manner in which such principles are employed in relation to understanding of the church.
The “historic” premillennial system rests on two basic interpretive principles: the Old Testament needs a New Testament hermeneutic, and literal or normal interpretation, particularly of prophecy, cannot be used consistently.
In the progress of revelation it is to be recognized that the New Testament is necessary to a full understanding of Biblical truth and to maintaining the unity of the Scriptures. This does not mean, however, that the Old Testament is dependent on the New for its authority and meaning. The Old Testament is capable of a grammatical-historical interpretation without a specifically New Testament directive. The New Testament’s handling of Old Testament prophecies, while complex in certain cases, may apply the Old Testament meaning so as to serve a contemporary need; but it does not alter the meaning.
The hermeneutics of “historic” premillennialism display an uneasy tension between a literal and a figurative approach to prophecy. Not
CenQ 18:3 (Fall 1975) p. 3
being committed to a consistent normal interpretation, the system lacks internal control in these areas.
The doctrine of the church in “historic” premillennialism is based on the tenets of covenant theology. Because of this there is a generic continuity of the church and Israel as the one continuing people of God. Some “historic” premillennialists make more of a distinction between Israel and the church than others, but even they do not make a fundamental, theological difference between the two peoples. This is a reflection of the hermeneutical tension within the system.
The “historic” premillennialists lack agreement on the origin, nature and time of the church. They do not fully appreciate the matter of Spirit baptism, the revelational mystery, and the work of Christ as these bear on the doctrine. The olive tree analogy and the seed of Abraham, used to support the continuity of Israel and the church, are capable of being interpreted in a fashion that maintains their distinction.
The Hermeneutical Principles Of “Historic” Premillennialism
Hermeneutics is simply the science of Biblical interpretation—the principles and canons of exegesis that determine the meaning one chooses for a particular Biblical passage. Since...
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