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FUTURISM AND DISPENSATIONALISM
The eschatology of Futurism is largely credited to the early-mid 19th century interpretation of John Nelson Darby, widely recognized as "the father of modern Dispensationalism and Futurism", whose eschatological scheme was popularized in the 20th century church through the annotated Scofield Reference Bible. Unique to this eschatology is a "pre-tribulation" "rapture", in which born again believers are to be removed from the world, prior to a seven-year period of great tribulation that is to beset the rest of humanity. Futurism is also pre-millennial, expecting that Christ will return to rule and reign on earth for a period of a thousand years, in a temple that is to be built on the temple mount in Jerusalem. But is an understanding of apocalyptic prophecy to be found by studying charts and graphs produced by modern day men? What might we find when we look to the scriptures, and those of the former age, as scripture instructs?
It is interesting to note that the approach to eschatology of futurism, necessarily precludes even considering that Muhammad could be the false prophet of the book of Revelation, just as the approach of partial-preterism necessarily precludes the very same. This even though one-quarter of mankind in the world today are required to specifically disbelieve that Christ was crucified and thus reject the blood He shed for us all, and to deny the Son of God, as articles of their faith in the false prophet Muhammad alone. Indeed Muslims are taught that to confess that Jesus is the Son of God or even to pray in Jesus' name, would be to commit the single most "heinous" and only unforgivable sin ("shirk"), in Muhammad's counter-gospel, anti-religion of Islam. It should be no surprise then that Muhammad's followers have been slaughtering and subduing Christians and Jews, and subjugating non-Muslims for 1400 years.
Sections on this page include The "time of the end", History of Futurism in the Church, Futurism VS the Gospel, Jesuit Francisco Ribera, The Revived Roman Empire, the Abomination of Desolation, the "Pre-Trib" "Rapture" and Premillennialism.
The "time of the end" (URL)
Since the Scofield Reference Bible popularized John Darby's dispensational/futurist eschatological scheme in the 20th century church, as it remains today, let's look at Scofield notes on Daniel's "time of the end":
" (1) The time of the end in Daniel begins with the violation by "the prince that shall come" (i.e. "little horn," "man of sin," "Beast") of his covenant with the Jews for the restoration of the temple and sacrifice Daniel 9:27 and his presentation of himself as God; Daniel 9:27; 11:36-38; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:4-6 and ends with his destruction by the appearing of the Lord in glory. ; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:19,20.
(2) The duration of the "time of the end" is three and one half years, coinciding with the last half of the seventieth week of Daniel. Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 13:5."
So the "time of the end" isn't supposed to begin until the middle of the 7-year tribulation at some point in the future, which would be 3-1/2 years after Christians are to have been removed from the earth, during the "pre-tribulation" "rapture". Here's how Daniel's book closes:
Daniel 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
Daniel 12:9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words [are] closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
Since the book of Daniel was "shut up" and sealed until the "time of the end", and Scofield suggests that time is not supposed to begin until the middle of some seven-year period yet in the future, then how could any 19th century interpretation of the figurative language of Daniel's prophetic vision from prior to the "time of the end", be considered other than hopelessly compromised? Yet the seven-year tribulation - upon which Darby's eschatological scheme is based, as held throughout the 20th century futurist church - comes directly from John Darby's early 19th century interpretation of Daniel's 70th week, which is the most contentious and hotly debated element in the book of Daniel! Was John Darby given an exclusive franchise and access through the seal on the book of Daniel in the early 19th century, prior to when futurists themselves are expected to believe the book will be unsealed yet in the future?
History of Futurism in the Church (URL)
There was such a vast volume of speculative interpretation penned by the early church fathers, that futurists, preterists and historicists can all find tidbits here and there that seem to provide support for our chosen eschatology. Sometimes when the ECFs writings happen to offer the appearance of support, for one's chosen doctrine, they are sometimes accorded the respect given to Holy writ. But there is good reason their writings were not cannonized. In regard to a history of futurism in the church prior to John Nelson Darby, one of the most heavily studied and highly regarded futurists, Dr. Harry Ironside, wrote the following in his "Mysteries of God":
THE GREAT MYSTERY OF CHRIST AND THE CHURCH
Throughout the writings of the apostle Paul he again and again refers to a wondrous secret, which he designates in a special way as "the mystery," or "the great mystery." Other mysteries he treats of, as we have seen, and shall notice later; but there is one that is preeminently such. It occupies much of his ministry, and is clearly the chief gem in the diadem of the truth of Christianity; yet for centuries it was almost entirely lost sight of. In fact, until brought to the fore through the writings and the preaching and teaching of a distinguished ex-clergyman, Mr. J. N. Darby, in the early part of the last century, it is scarcely to be found in a single book or sermon throughout a period of sixteen hundred years! If any doubt this statement, let them search, as the writer has in measure done, the remarks of the so-called Fathers, both pre- and post-Nicene; the theological treatises of the scholastic divines; Roman Catholic writers of all shades of thought; the literature of the Reformation; the sermons and expositions of the Puritans; and the general theological works of the day. He will find "the mystery" conspicuous by its absence. Of ordinances exalted to the place of mysteries, as in heathen rites, he will find much; but as to the mystery, which to the apostle was so unspeakably precious, rarely a reference!"
Job 8:8 For enquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers: 9 (For we [are but of] yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth [are] a shadow:)
Beyond the absence of a history of futurism in the church over a period of sixteen hundred years, is the greater difficulty of squaring it with the Gospel. If you become stumped regarding the questions in the section that follow, we encourage you to ask your pastor for some answers to share with us in the forum so we can edit this web page and the forum, if warranted.
This is a link to a section further down this page with more on futurism's history in the church.
The old covenant prophet Jeremiah prophesied of a new covenant:
Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
The following literal verses are found in literal passages of the new covenant ("diatheke" or "New Testament") scriptures and are not open to interpretation. The New Testament confirms Jeremiah's prophecy as fulfilled (click on the verse number for the whole passage):