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
PMW 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
PMW 2020-038 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In my last posting, I began a studying exposing the error of dispensationalism claimed literalism. Since this is such a big feature in the system and such a drawing card for it, it is important that Reformed Christians be able to refute it. I hope these two articles will be helpful to that end. The more recent form of dispensationalism, known as Progressive Dispensationalism, has largely recognized the problem and made important changes to the system. However, pew-sitting believers are still enamored with dispensationalism and its claim to literalism.
So, let us continue exposing the error.
Ezekiel and Literalism
In The New Scofield Reference Bible at Ezekiel 43:19 we read: “The reference to sacrifices is not to be taken literally.” How can this be? Indeed, on the opposite side of the issue we should note the dispensationalist treatment of Isaiah 52:15, which reads: “So shall he sprinkle many nations.” The New Scofield Reference Bible comments: “Compare the literal fulfillment of this prediction in 1 Pet. 1:1–2, where people of many nations are described as having been sprinkled with the blood of Christ.” Is this literal? When was Jesus’ blood literally sprinkled on the nations? This sounds more like “spiritualizing” than “consistent literalism.” Continue reading
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
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?