|There is a sudden --
and seemingly unexpected -- divergence in method at this point. Up until now, both viewpoints use the same
method of interpretation, with a different starting point. Using books in print only, one would now
conclude that the futurists have taken a right turn -- but why?
|Go back for a moment
to the Seven Letters. If you read the
historicists of today, those are nothing but letters to the churches -- not
prophecy. But this was not always
their view. In the 19th century (and
before, the idea is a very old one) the Seven Letters = Seven Ages idea was
widely accepted by historicists. What
|I think the answer
is a combination of two things.
First, the futurists have used
the close comparison (especially after dropping the idea that the Reformation
churches are the dead ones of Sardis) between Revelation 2-3 (seven
letters) and history to argue very
strongly for their theory. This
argument has been, as we have noted, very acid at times. I suspect the historicists have reacted to
| the strength of the
| the venom of the
|by changing their
stand and denying the interpretation.
Its an effort (and perhaps not a very honorable one) to defend their
|It would be pleasant
to say that the futurists, being kind and charitable people, full of the
Spirit, would never do such a thing.
My feeble brain, however, suspects otherwise. For exactly the same two reasons, strength
of argument and venom of arguers, they have turned from the symbolic to argue
that the sixth seal has only one possible interpretation -- the exact literal
one. For the sixth seal provides some
of the best evidence for the historicist theory.
|Second, the advent
of nuclear weapons, and the general increase in the horror of weaponry as a
whole, permit the imagination to see a literal interpretation as something
other than science fiction.
|In light of that,
therefore, we must begin by examining the basis for use of symbolic terms in
the sixth seal. As always, we must do
| The Old Testament,
either in vision, prophecy or plain statement, and
| common usage of the
time, closely tied to specific facts.
|The truth is that
the symbolic interpretation of the Sixth Seal was in common thought by the
futurists -- up until about 1970.