PMT 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
PMT 2016-030 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
PMT 2015-131 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Populist dispensationalism is heavily committed to a literalistic hermeneutic. (I do not mean that literally, however: how could an intellectual commitment to a hermeneutic construct be “heavy”? Unless, of course, it is presented in a big book containing either a large number of pages or a small number of extraordinarily thick sheets of paper. But I digress.).
Many dispensationalists argue for a literalistic hermeneutic based on Christ’s first coming. They state that since his first coming was a literal fulfillment of OT prophesy it serves as evidence that all OT prophecy should be interpreted literally. Continue reading
PMT 2014-038 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Populist dispensationalism is an immensely successful eschatological construct. Its purveyors have sold tens of millions of books to evangelical Christians. One of the key factors in its success is its naive commitment to an alleged “consistent literalism.”
Besides being naive, the dispensational claim to “consistent literalism” is frustrating due to its inconsistent employment — despite contrary claims. For instance, some dispensationalists do not understand certain Old Testament prophecies about David’s millennial reign literally. Older, but still popular dispensationalist, H. A. Ironside writes: “I do not understand this to mean that David himself will be raised and caused to dwell on the earth as king. . . . The implication is that He who was David’s Son, the Lord Christ Himself is to be the King.”  On what basis can a consistent literalist allow this view?