Category Archives: Interpretation

REVELATION AND LITERALISM? (2)

Literal butterflyPMT 2016-031 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is part two of a two-part study on the question of literalism in Revelation. Despite televangelists and rapture-predictors, Revelation is not to be interpreted literalistically. I examined three reasons why this is so in the previous article. I now would like to present one final argument against literalism:

Even if we set aside John’s own opening announcement regarding the symbolic nature of his prophecy, and his explanation of his very first vision, and his interpretive practice elsewhere in Revelation, we should avoid literalism on the basis of common sense. Consider the following absurdities that would arise on the literalist approach. Continue reading

REVELATION AND LITERALISM (1)

Literal hand soapPMW 2020-043 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

By all accounts, Revelation is a difficult book. But naive Christians make it even more difficult than it needs be. A serious problem tripping up the modern would-be interpreter is the assumption of literalism when approaching Revelation. Too many contemporary prophecy students resist the symbolic approach to John’s glorious prophecy. “Literalism!” becomes the rally cry for those who believe Revelation lies in our approaching future.

I would point out that despite the popular claim of literalism: no one takes Revelation literally. We take it as God’s truth, to be sure. And it certainly deals with factual historical events. But we cannot take it as God’s truth in literal form. Let us see how this is so. Continue reading

DISPENSATIONALISM’S LITERALISM FRAUD (1)

PMW 2020-037 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Dispensationalists pride themselves in being consistent literalists. Not only so, but they warn that taking a non-literal approach in Scripture involves one in “encroaching liberalism. For instance, Charles Ryrie writes:

Although it could not be said that all amillennialists deny the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, yet, as it will be shown later, it seems to be the first step in that direction. The system of spiritualizing Scripture is a tacit denial of the doctrine of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. . . . Thus the allegorical method of amillennialism is a step toward modernism. [Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, 34, 35, 46.]

Alleged literalism is probably one of the most important arguments for keeping dispensationalism alive and well on Planet Earth. It seems so obvious; it takes so little effort to understand. We need to lovingly confront our dispensational friends with a reality check. In this and the next article I will be focusing on dispensationalism’s literlism errors. Continue reading

HISTORICISM, REVELATION, AND THE REFORMATION

Historicism and RevelationPMT 2015-120 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

My computer is getting lighter as I remove more of the questions that have been sent to me by readers. Today’s question regarding the Book of Revelation, one of my favorite pastimes!

Reader’s question:

You are committed to the Reformed faith, yet you don’t take the historicist approach to eschatology which was widely held among the Reformers. Why do you not follow the Reformers in this part of their theology.

My response:

Thank you for your inquiry. You are correct that I am committed to Reformed theology. However, I differ from the Reformers in that I take a preterist approach to Revelation rather than an historicist approach. I do so for the following reasons: Continue reading

IS MATTHEW 25:31-46 A PARABLE?

PMW 2020-022 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

A reader recently responded to an aside comment that I made in an article on the Olivet Discourse. Though the issue is not a major one, it is an interesting one nevertheless. And it is at least potentially helpful for better understanding the matter before us.

THE INTERPRETIVE CONCERN

The reader writes:

“I can’t imagine why you would think that Mt 25: 31 & 32 is not a parable. Sheep and goats are metaphors which is exactly what makes a parable a parable.”

My response:

Thanks for reading my posts, and taking the time to interact. Much appreciated!

However, I believe you are mistaken in assuming that because “sheep and goats are metaphors” that this is what “makes a parable a parable.” Just a quick observation regarding your statement about metaphors and parables: we speak in metaphors all the time today without anyone claiming we are speaking in parables. You are apparently working with an inadequate definition of a parable.

Your comment indicates that you have not done any extensive work in dealing with parables. Defining a “parable” is a lot more complex than you suppose. I have a dozen books on the parables of Jesus in my library. They invariably have to wrestle with the definition of a “parable.” Defining “parable” is a widely debated issue in New Testament interpretation.

But now regarding your basic concern, which is found in your statement: “I can’t imagine why you would think that Mt 25:31 32 is not a parable.”

I would admit that there are, in fact, many scholars who believe that the Sheep and Goats Discourse is a parable. However, I do not believe they are correct; and I am not alone in this. I will be presenting numerous observations on Matthew 25:31–46 by leading scholars that deny that the passage is a parable. No one should respond to these men by complaining: “I can’t imagine why you would think that Mt 25: 31 & 32 is not a parable.” Continue reading

WHY THE NUMBER 144,000?

PMW 2019-064 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

144 000Some readers of Revelation are perplexed as to why 12 squared times 1000 is significant to the original readers in the 144,000? What is at about that number that would lead the original readers to think, ‘Oh that’s a number signifying a perfect amount of Jewish converts?’”

1. The Nature of Revelation

In the first place, no one would suggest Revelation is an easy book whose images leap out at you. John himself is left wondering about things within it from time to time (Rev 7:13, 14; 17:6-7). Continue reading

A FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE IN ESCHATOLOGY

PMW 2019-042 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Since Hal Lindsey originally burst on the scene in 1970, biblical prophecy has become a fun game that the whole family can play. Biblical prophecy has thus become a toy and has led many game winners (who have sold in excess of 100 million books to qualify) to be excitedly declared “Prophecy Experts.” But as for me and my house, once I hear the term “prophecy expert,” I turn the channel. Even if I do not have the TV on. I don’t take chances.

When I was first converted in 1966, I got caught up in prophecy rage, especially when The Late Great Planet Earth was published in 1970. I longed to watch new Olympic sports events, such as “Pin the Horns on the Antichrist” or “Guess the Date of Rapture.” Or even to see a new TV game show: “I’ve Got a Secret (Rapture). Eventually I even received a B.S. degree in Biblical Studies from a college committed to such dispensational activities. “Those were the days, my friend, / I thought they’d never end.” But fortunately I grew up and walked away from such. And have not looked back (though, admittedly, I like salt).

One of the most important principles for understanding biblical prophecy is known as the “Now but Not Yet Principle,” also known as the “Already/Not Yet Principle” (it is never called the “See You Later Alligator Principle” or “Take It Easy Greasy Principle”). If Christians would take this interpretive principle to heart (or better: to mind), a lot of embarrassment from failed prophetic expectations could be avoided. And a lot of money saved on books that give the latest Rapture predictions. Continue reading