Introductory Thoughts on Allegorical Interpretation and the Book of Revelation - Part II -- By: Mal Couch

Journal: Conservative Theological Journal
Volume: CTJ 01:2 (Aug 1997)
Article: Introductory Thoughts on Allegorical Interpretation and the Book of Revelation - Part II
Author: Mal Couch

Introductory Thoughts on Allegorical Interpretation and the Book of Revelation - Part II

Mal Couch

President & Professor of Theology and Languages
Tyndale Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX

REVIEW: Though he is called “the father of critical investigation,” Origen dealt the church a great blow with his strong leanings into allegory. When this system was fully developed with Augustine, the book of Revelation fell back into a darkness that even persists today. The door was shut on this most profound inspired prophetic work. It could well be argued that Satan is delighted to put blinders on men as to the coming Tribulation, millennial reign, and judgment.

In the opinion of this author, Amillennialism was the sure bed-fellow that opened the door for biblical liberalism. With such syrupy, unsure, and clouded meaning, it was easy to make the Bible a target of mysticism and wild human imagination and thus consider it an unreliable guide for humanity, sinking in a swamp of evil.

Interpretive Madness

Some of the comments on Revelation made in The Preacher’s Commentary border on interpretive madness, as the Amillennial commentators give their views. It is hard to believe that such unstudied objections can be put forth against Premillennialism while the allegorists grope about in such interpretive darkness. One would think that they would give, privately at least, the normal, historic, literal hermeneutic another chance in their thinking process. It is possible they do not realize how far adrift they are rationally. For example, G. B. Stevens writes:

The aim of the book [of Revelation] was distinctly practical; it was written primarily for its own time, …The book is obscure because it deals with obscure themes,—the program of the future and Christ’s return to judgment …And, … the language of concealment (which the initiated would be able to interpret correctly) consists of Oriental symbols, largely derived from books

like Ezekiel and Daniel, which are necessarily more or less enigmatic to the Western and modern mind.1

Though indeed there are certain practical sections in Revelation, especially the first three chapters, the main purpose of Revelation is not practical. It is a panorama of future events, and that in itself should impact believers as to how they need to live. But Revelation is not an instructive epistle!

So what does Stevens mean when he says the book is “distinctly practical?” How is it “primarily” for its own time? No one yet has been able to fully coincide Revelation description...

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