Biblical Interpretation: Approaching Prophecy Today, Dispensational Perspectives

Dr. Stephen R. Sizer

The Revd. Dr. Stephen Sizer is the vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, Surry. He is acting Chairman of Living Stones, Chairman of the International Bible Society (UK), and an area tutor at the School of Theology, Westminister College, Oxford. He has written three books: Panorama of the Bible Lands, In the Footsteps of Jesus and the Apostles, and Christian Zionism, Road Map to Armageddon?.


This paper will assess the hermeneutical presuppositions of dispensationalism, and Christian Zionism, in particular, which is probably the most pervasive and destructive theological system in Protestant circles today.  Christian Zionism is founded first of all upon a literal and futurist interpretation of the Bible which leads proponents to distinguish between references to Israel and the Church. Injunctions and promises concerning the ancient Jews are applied to the contemporary State of Israel rather than to the Church. From this hermeneutic flows the conviction that the Jews remain God’s ‘chosen people’, distinct from the Church, whether until the end of the millennium as held by covenant premillennialists, or into eternity as affirmed by most dispensationalists. God’s end-time purpose for the Jews is expressed in Restorationism. The destiny of the Jewish people is to return to the land of Israel and reclaim their inheritance promised to Abraham and his descendants for ever. This inheritance extends from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates. Within their land, Jerusalem is recognised to be their exclusive, undivided and eternal capital, and therefore it cannot be shared or divided. At the heart of Jerusalem will be the rebuilt Jewish Temple to which all the nations will come to worship God. Just prior to the return of Jesus, there will be seven years of calamities and war known as the Tribulation which will culminate in a great battle called Armageddon during which the godless forces opposed to both God and Israel will be defeated.[1] Jesus will then return as the Jewish Messiah and king to reign in Jerusalem for a thousand years and the Jewish people will enjoy a privileged status and role in the world.  Each of these seven doctrines will be considered in turn.

1. The Bible: A Literal Futurist Hermeneutic

Christian Zionism is constructed upon a novel hermeneutic in which all scripture is generally interpreted in an ultra-literal sense; the prophetic parts of scripture are seen as pre-written history; and eschatologically are believed to find their fulfilment in the interpreter’s generation. This type of hermeneutic has been described as ‘pesher’ from the Aramaic for ‘interpretation’.[2] This differs from a traditional Protestant hermeneutic which, while also based on literalism, nevertheless begins with the setting of the author as well as recipients and is also shaped by the historical, cultural, grammatical and theological context.[3] 

The origin of this literalist hermeneutic can be traced to the early 19th Century and in particular to the writings of Hatley Frere, George Faber, Lewis Way, Edward Irving and those who attended the Albury conferences from 1826.[4] Bebbington argues,

‘There is a tight logical connection between high hopes for the Jews and a new estimate of scripture ... The beginning of the innovatory interpretation can be located precisely ... innovations in the fields of prophecy and understanding of scripture went hand in hand.’[5]

Patterson describes how Albury’s premillennial system redefined revelation in historicist terms, ‘from the self giving of God in history to an interpretation of history’.

‘The French Revolution became the key to understanding God’s revelation, not only as a point of temporal triangulation, but as an unveiling of the very spiritual issues at work in the Last Days. The French Revolution unveiled the fact that prophecy and history were inextricably and beautifully interlaced … Thus Albury looked to history to discern this principle and history again to see it manifested ... The malleable character of prophecy allowed the scriptures and history to assume the very shape determined by the Albury presuppositions and literal typical hermeneutic … a self perpetuating system in which theory, scripture and history combined in ever tightening symmetry, to form a system that explained each constituent part in terms of a single narrative and teleology.’[6]

John Nelson Darby, who subsequently pioneered this hermeneutic in a more explicitly futurist and dispensational form, summed it up in one sentence when he admitted, ‘I prefer quoting many passages than enlarging upon them.’[7] Based on his commitment to literalism, Darby formulated the doctrine of Dispensationalism and the rigid distinction between Israel and the Church which forms the basis of much contemporary Christian Zionism. Following Darby closely, it was Cyrus Scofield who first distilled and codified this literalist hermeneutic. An analysis of Scofield’s distinctive understanding of literalism will lead to an examination of the ways in which others have developed and applied this hermeneutic. An appraisal of literalism will then show how it has evolved; utilises symbolism; on occasions is self contradictory; relies on enhancements of the biblical text; and leads to arbitrary conclusions.

1.1. Darby’s Innovative Dispensationalism

Central to Dispensationalism is the assumption that seven dispensations are self-evident in biblical history, if a literal hermeneutic is applied consistently. Darby was not the first to discover dispensations within biblical history, nor was his own scheme universally accepted even within Brethren circles.[8] Prior to the rise of Dispensationalism it was common to divide history into two or three dispensations. Jonathan Edwards had acknowledged the lack of unanimity even on the distinction between the Old and New Testaments. ‘There is, perhaps, no part of divinity attended with so much intricacy, and wherein orthodox divines so much differ, as in stating the precise agreement and difference between the two dispensations of Moses and Christ.’[9] In his principal work on the dispensations published in 1823, George Faber distinguished three stages in God's gracious dealing with mankind: Patriarchal, Levitical, and Christian. However, unlike Darby, he did not regard them as necessarily consecutive nor was each a remedy for the failure of the previous, ‘From the time of the fall down to the termination of the world, man lives under one and the same system of divine grace, a system, which was rendered necessary for him by the very circumstances of the fall, and which therefore at no one period can differ essentially from itself.’[10]

            Irving was also using the term dispensation to contrast God’s contemporary dealings with Israel and the Church by 1828.[11]  Edward Miller quotes Irving’s notes of the first Albury conference: ‘perfect unanimity on the following … that the Christian Dispensation was to be terminated, ending in the destruction of the visible Church, like the Jewish; during which “judgements” the Jews were to be restored to Palestine.’[12]

             The clearest expression of Darby’s thinking on the dispensations is to be found in ‘The Apostasy of the Successive Dispensations’ published in The Christian Witness in October 1836. Darby introduces his dispensational framework in these terms:

‘The detail of the history connected with these dispensations brings out many most interesting displays ... But the dispensations themselves all declare some leading principle or interference of God, some condition in which He has placed man, principles which in themselves are everlastingly sanctioned of God, but in the course of these dispensations placed responsibly in the hands of man for the display and discovery of what he was, and the bringing in their infallible establishment in Him to whom the glory of them all rightly belonged ... In every instance, there was a total and immediate failure as regarded man, however the patience of God might tolerate and carry on by grace the dispensation in which man has thus failed in the outset; and further, that there is no instance of the restoration of a dispensation afforded us, though there might be partial revivals of it through faith.’[13]

It may be shown, however, by a comparison with an article on the dispensations which appeared in Drummond’s journal, the Morning Watch in 1831 that the Albury Circle had a much clearer and more logical dispensational framework than Darby. The Morning Watch article is both succinct and logical, based on the seven days of creation:

‘As he created all things in six days, and rested on the seventh, hallowing it, so has he ordained in six successive ages to work out the work of all new creation, and added a seventh age as an eternal one, the age of rest and sanctified glory. These seven ages are, 1. The age before the fall, or Adam age; 2. The age until the flood, or Noah age; 3. the age until the deliverance of the church, or Patriarchal age; 4. the age of the Jewish church; 5. the age of the Gentile church; 6. the age of the Millennial church; and 7. the age of the resurrection church.’ [14]

The following is the first and clearest description of the Dispensations to be found in Darby’s writings, published five years after the Morning Watch article appeared:

The paradisaical state cannot properly perhaps be called a dispensation in this sense of the word; but as regards the universal failure of man; it is a most important instance... Corruption, disorder, violence were the consequences of this, until the Lord destroyed the first world created... Here dispensations, properly speaking, begin. On the first, Noah I shall be very brief... The first account after his call we have of faithful Abraham which as a minuter circumstance I also pass briefly over... But to take up the point of the dispensation - obedience under the law by which life was to be: this obedience they undertook; and Moses returned to receive the various orderings of divine appointment as under it, and the two tables of testimony. But this dispensation which met the failure of the world ... The ordinance or dispensation of priesthood failed in like manner … The kingly dispensation failed in the same way as did the nation under the previous ordering which made way for the king … till the provocation's of Manasseh set aside all hope of recovery or way of mercy in that dispensation. The same is true of universal rule transferred to the Gentiles … The rejection of our blessed Lord proved that no present mercy or grace, no present interference of God in goodness here would meet the wilful and persevering enmity of the human heart, but only showed it in its true light. But this never being set up as a dispensation but only the manifestation of His Person (by faith), I pass by. The last we have to notice, in a humbled sense of sin in us, is the present, where we are apt to take our ease in the world ... the dispensation of the Spirit. Much has been said, with strong objection to it, as to the apostasy or failure of this dispensation. The results are but too plain ... The attempt to set this dispensation on another footing, as to its continuance, than those dispensations which have failed already, not only shows ignorance of the principles of God’s dealings ...

And the close of all dispensation, and the end of all question and title of authority shall come, and all be finished, God shall be all in all without question and without failure... In fact the Gentile dispensation, as a distinct thing, took its rise at the death of Stephen, the witness that the Jews resisted the Holy Ghost: as their fathers did, so did they’.[15]

It may be suggested that Darby was not attempting to devise a specific scheme of dispensations but rather, as his title implies, merely showing how all attempts by mankind to find acceptance with God had failed. It was only later in the writings of Scofield that seven dispensations became fixed within dispensational thinking, long after any association with Irving was ignored or forgotten.[16] Ryrie’s interpretation of Darby’s dispensations is actually significantly at variance with Darby’s own writings but more consistent with Scofield and closer in fact to that of the Morning Watch. It is an understatement therefore when Ryrie claims Darby’s scheme is, ‘not always easily discerned from his writings’.[17] It is suggested that Ryrie has read back into Darby’s mind, a scheme that suited his own purposes. From Darby’s own pen we may attempt to reconstruct his dispensational chronology and compare it with Ryrie’s interpretation, together with Scofield’s later 1909 version, itself at variance with the further revision made by Schuyler English in 1967. 

The Morning Watch[18]

Darby’s Dispensations[19]

Ryrie’s Version of Darby[20]

Scofield’s
Dispensations
[21]

1. Adam

1. Noah (Government)

1. Paradisaical state   

1. Innocency (Gen. 1:28)

2. Noah

 2. Moses (Law)

2. Noah

2. Conscience (Gen. 3:23)

3. Patriarchs

 3. Aaron (Priesthood)

3. Abraham

3. Human Government                  (Gen. 8:20)

4. Jewish

4. Kingly (Manasseh)

4. Israel-
under law
under priesthood under kings

4. Promise (Gen. 12:1)

 

5. Gentiles

5. Spirit (Gentile)

5. Gentiles

5. Law (Exod. 19:8)

6. Millennium

 

6. Spirit

6. Grace (John 1:17)

7. Resurrection

 

7. Millennium

7. Kingdom (Eph. 1:10)

Figure 2.  A Comparison of the dispensational schemes of the Morning Watch, John Nelson Darby, Charles Ryrie and Cyrus Scofield

Nevertheless, Darby defended his dispensational hermeneutic on two grounds: ‘The covenant is a word common in the language of a large class of Christian professors ... but in its development and detail, as to its unfolded principles, much obscurity appears to me to have arisen from a want of simple attention to scripture.’[22] He went on to claim:

‘For my part, if I were bound to receive all that has been said by the Millenarians, I would reject the whole system, but their views and statements weigh with me not one feather.  But this does not hinder me from enquiring by the teaching of the same spirit ... what God has with infinite graciousness revealed to me concerning His dealing with the Church.’[23]

‘… because it was in this the Lord was pleased, without man's teaching, first to open my eyes on this subject, that I might learn His will concerning it throughout.’[24]

Darby therefore justified his own dispensational scheme on the basis that others had not studied the scriptures correctly and his interpretation was right because the Lord had revealed it to him personally.

1.2 Scofield’s Contribution to a Dispensational Literal Hermeneutic

Scofield’s own dispensational scheme draws heavily on Darby’s writings.[25] Nevertheless, he claims Dispensationalism recovers for the Bible, ‘a clear and coherent harmony of the predictive portions’: 

‘The Dispensations are distinguished, exhibiting the majestic, progressive order of the divine dealings of God with humanity, the “increasing purpose” which runs through and links together the ages, from the beginning of the life of man to the end in eternity. Augustine said: “Distinguish the ages, and the scriptures harmonize.”’[26]

Whether Augustine understood ‘ages’ in terms of Scofield’s dispensations is questionable. Nevertheless, Scofield claimed his scheme was natural and self evident:

‘… there is a beautiful system in this gradualness of unfolding. The past is seen to fall into periods, marked off by distinct limits, and distinguishable period from period by something peculiar to each. Thus it comes to be understood that there is a doctrine of Ages or Dispensations in the Bible.’[27]

A comparison between these ‘distinct limits’ as they appear in the Scofield Reference Bible and subsequent revisions, where they have moved and been renamed, would suggest that they are not as clear as Scofield claimed.

Scofield Reference Bible (1917)[28]

The New Scofield Study Bible (1984)[29]

1. Innocency (Gen. 1:28)

1. Innocence (Gen. 1:28)

2. Conscience (Gen. 3:23)

2. Conscience or Moral Responsibility (Gen. 3:7)

3. Human Government (Gen. 8:20)

3. Human Government (Gen. 8:15)

4. Promise (Gen. 12:1)

4. Promise (Gen. 12:1)

5. Law (Ex. 19:8)

5. Law (Ex. 19:1)

6. Grace (John 1:17)

6. Church (Acts 2:1)

7. Kingdom or Fulness of Times (Eph. 1:10)[30]

7. Kingdom (Rev. 20:4)

Figure 2: A comparison of the dispensations in the Scofield Reference Bible and the New Scofield Study Bible

Scofield’s rigid adherence to these dispensations also required him to make some unusual assertions to ensure consistency. So for example, in describing the transition between his fourth dispensation of promise and his fifth dispensation of law, Scofield argued that all that Abraham’s descendants needed to do was ‘abide in their own land to inherit every blessing.’ He goes on to claim, ‘The Dispensation of Promise ended when Israel rashly accepted the law (Ex. 19:8).  Grace had prepared a deliverer (Moses), provided a sacrifice for the guilty and by divine power brought them out of bondage (Ex.19:4); but at Sinai they exchanged grace for law.’[31] In doing so, Scofield reduces the giving of the Law by Moses from being God’s gracious initiative to the ‘rashness’ of the Jewish people.

Similarly, in his introduction to the gospels, Scofield artificially imposes stark divisions before and after Calvary which lead him to the surprising assertion that, ‘The mission of Jesus was, primarily, to the Jews ... The Sermon on the Mount is law, not grace ... the doctrines of grace are to be sought in the Epistles not in the Gospels.’[32]  Surprisingly, Scofield ignores the one division that is self-evident between the old and new covenants. Mark 1:1 categorically states, ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ’, while Matthew 11:13 further informs us, ‘For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John’. However, Scofield places the life and ministry of Jesus within the dispensation of Law along with John the Baptist and the Old Testament prophets, arguing that the sixth dispensation of grace only ‘begins with the death and resurrection of Christ.’[33] So, for example, the Lord’s Prayer, and in particular the petition, ‘Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors’ (Matthew 6:12) is, according to Scofield, not applicable to the church, since it is ‘legal ground’.[34] This is because Scofield believed the gospels were essentially for the Jews and therefore not relevant for the church. So, in the note attached to Ephesians 3 he states, ‘In his (Paul’s) writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church.’[35]  Scofield seems to have imposed divisions that do not exist in scripture and ignored those that do.

Scofield was the first to formalise the methodology of literalism promoted within early Dispensationalism in his book, Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth,[36] published in 1888.  Scofield based his thesis on the Authorised Version rendering of 2 Timothy 2:15 in which Paul instructed Timothy to, ‘rightly divide the word of truth.’  Scofield explains:

‘The Word of Truth, then, has right divisions, and it must be evident that, as one cannot be “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed” without observing them, so any study of that Word which ignores these divisions must be in large measure profitless and confusing. The purpose of this pamphlet is to indicate the more important divisions of the Word of Truth.’[37]  

Ironically, the foundation of Scofield’s hermeneutic appears to be based on an over-literalised misreading of the verse. The United Bible Societies’ textual commentary, which is the standard work used by translators worldwide, clarifies the meaning of the verse: ‘“Rightly handling” translates a Greek verb that occurs only here in the New Testament. Literally it refers to the act of cutting something in a straight way; figuratively it refers to expounding something rightly, or teaching something correctly. Here, what needs to be handled correctly is the word of truth.’[38] Scofield took the verb literally to say that the Bible must be cut up into divisions. Most commentators, however, recognise that Paul was using the term figuratively to mean, ‘correctly handle’ the Bible.

The first chapter of Scofield’s book, entitled ‘The Jew, the Gentile and the Church of God’ sets the tone for all future dispensational teaching in which Israel is distinguished from the Church. It is also based on an over- literal interpretation of another verse, 1 Corinthians 10:32, where Paul urges Christians to ‘Give no offence, neither to the Jews, nor the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God.’ On the basis of this verse Scofield divided the world into three classes of people, Jews, Gentiles and the Church, an idea which is now the ‘warp and woof of dispensational teaching.’[39] Others suggest, however, that the verse is actually delineating two groups of people, Christians and non-Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles.[40]  Nevertheless, beginning with these passages, Scofield insisted that promises made to the Jews in the Old Testament were not fulfilled in the New Testament Church but continue to apply to Israel.  So, for example, he insists that, ‘Not one instance exists of a ‘spiritual’ or figurative fulfilment of prophecy ... Jerusalem is always Jerusalem, Israel is always Israel, Zion is always Zion ... Prophecies may never be spiritualised, but are always literal.’[41] Scofield’s literalism extended to exact verbal phraseology. This led him to claim, for example, that there are seven dispensations, eight covenants, and eleven great mysteries.[42]  

In his Introduction, Scofield explained that over the previous fifty years there had been an ‘unprecedented’ degree of interest in Bible study ‘free from merely controversial motive’. He claimed that from this ‘new and vast exegetical and expository’ body of literature, which was ‘inaccessible for bulk, cost, and time to the average reader,’ Scofield had taken the ‘winnowed and attested results’ of this study and these were now ‘embodied in the notes, summaries, and definitions of this edition.’ Scofield insisted that ‘expository novelties, and merely personal views and interpretations, have been rejected.’[43]  He distinguished his own from previous Bible reference systems, which he regarded as ‘unscientific and often misleading.’ Instead, Scofield insisted that in his new system:

‘... all the greater truths of the divine revelation are so traced through the entire Bible, from the place of first mention to the last, that the reader may himself follow the gradual unfolding of these, by many inspired writers through many ages, to their culmination in Jesus Christ and the New Testament scriptures. This method imparts to Bible study an interest and vital reality which are wholly lacking in fragmented and disconnected study.’[44]

The footnotes which appear in the Scofield Reference Bible are actually rather selective, appearing on less than half the pages of the Bible.[45] Scofield goes much further than other Bible commentators such as Albert Barnes or Matthew Henry in also providing comprehensive headings embedded within the biblical text. These not only include chapter and paragraph titles but, in many cases, verse by verse headings in chapters deemed significant to dispensationalists that would otherwise prove obscure without such ‘helps’.   For example, in Isaiah 11 under the heading ‘The Davidic kingdom set up’ in the space of ten verses additional headings guide readers carefully through the chapter to ensure a dispensational reading:

‘(1) The King's ancestry (11:1); (2) The source of the King's power, the sevenfold Spirit  (11:2); (3) The character of his reign (11:3-5); (4) The quality of the kingdom (11:6-8); (5) The extent of the Kingdom (11:9); (6) How the kingdom will be set up (11:10-16).’[46]

Had Scofield’s notes been published as a commentary separately, they would have eventually, in all probability, been forgotten or superseded. The difference, however, according to one of Scofield’s biographers, is that ‘neither Henry nor Barnes had the temerity, guile or gall to get their notes accepted as scripture itself.’[47] Within a few years of publication the Scofield Reference Bible, published by Oxford University Press, did indeed come to achieve confessional status for the notes which appeared alongside the biblical text. Charles G. Trumball, editor of the Sunday School Times, described Scofield’s Bible as nothing less than a ‘God-planned, God-guided, God-energized work.’[48] Scofield’s Reference Bible has, however, undergone significant revision since it was first published in 1909. Scofield completed the first revision in 1917, apparently with the help of seven consulting editors, several of whom were D.L. Moody's colleagues.[49] Further revisions continued to adapt, modify and elaborate Scofield’s dispensational package. The New Scofield Reference Bible was published in 1967, edited by Dr E. Schuyler English. In 1984 a further revision based on the New International Version of the Bible was undertaken by three of the faculty from Philadelphia College of Bible: Clarence Mason, Sherrill Babb and Paul Karleen, and published by the Oxford University Press as The New Scofield Study Bible.[50]

            Dallas Theological Seminary, founded by one of Scofield’s students, Lewis Sperry Chafer in 1924, has probably accomplished more for the cause of Dispensationalism and Christian Zionism than any other institution in the world. Through its faculty and students, for nearly eighty years Dallas has contributed to a proliferation of dispensational thinking, from the Classical Dispensationalism of Cyrus Scofield and Lewis Chafer to the Revised Dispensationalism of Charles Ryrie[51] and John Walvoord[52]; the Apocalyptic Dispensationalism of Hal Lindsey[53] and Tim LaHaye;[54] the Messianic Dispensationalism of Moishe Rosen[55] and Arnold Fruchtenbaum;[56] and the Progressive Dispensationalism of Craig Blaising and Darrel Bock.[57]

            Blaising and Bock represent  a new generation of younger dispensationalists among the faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary who have attempted to redefine their movement and engaged in constructive dialogue with covenantal theologians on the relationship of the Church to Israel.[58]  They distance themselves from what they regard as the ‘naïveté’ of the founder’s vision,[59] distinguishing the traditional Dispensationalism of Lewis Sperry Chafer and Charles Ryrie[60] from ‘Scofieldism’,[61] as well as from the popular apocalyptism of ‘Lindseyism’.[62] They regard themselves as less land centred and less future centred.[63]

            Ryrie is sceptical, unwilling to concede to such revisionism. He prefers to describe the position of Blaising and Bock as ‘neo-dispensationalist’ or ‘covenant dispensationalist’, for holding to what he terms a ‘slippery’ hermeneutic.[64] Ryrie similarly insists on distinguishing what he defines as Normative Dispensationalism from ‘Ultradispensationalism’. The latter is rooted in the teaching of Ethelbert W. Bullinger (1837-1913) and his successor Charles H. Welch, who, according to Ryrie, have merely carried Dispensationalism to its ‘logical extremes.’  Ultradispensationalists believe for instance, that the Church did not begin at Pentecost but in Acts 28 when Israel was set aside; the Great Commission of Matthew and Mark is Jewish and therefore not for the Church; the Gospels and Acts describe the Dispensation of the Law; only the Pauline prison epistles, that is Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, relate to the Church Age; water baptism is not for the Church Age; and Israel, not the Church, is the Bride of Christ.[65] Their teachings are perpetuated today by the Berean Bible Society, Berean Expositor, Berean Publishing Trust[66] and Grace Mission. Despite these attempts to redefine and reshape the Dispensationalism of Darby and Scofield, many remain unconvinced.[67]  As an outsider, James Barr insists in all its variations, 'Dispensationalism is a totally fundamentalist scheme.'[68] Following Scofield’s literalistic hermeneutic and rigid distinction between Israel and the church, most contemporary dispensationalists regard the founding of the State of Israel as evidence of divine intervention, that the Jews remain God's ‘chosen people’ and have a divine right to the Middle East in perpetuity.

1.3 Developments in Literalist Hermeneutics

In 1936, Chafer defined Scofieldian literalism in the following terms: ‘The outstanding characteristic of the dispensationalist is  ... that he believes every statement of the Bible and gives to it the plain, natural meaning its words imply.’[69] Like Chafer, Charles Ryrie suggests that it is only dispensationalists who are consistent in applying a literal interpretation: ‘To be sure, literal/historical/grammatical interpretation is not the sole possession or practice of dispensationalists, but the consistent use of it in all areas of biblical interpretation is.’[70]

‘Dispensationalism is a result of consistent application of the basic hermeneutical principle of literal, normal, or plain interpretation. No other system of theology can claim this … The nonliteralist is the nondispensationalist, and the consistent literalist is a dispensationalist.’[71]

Chafer included nondispensational premillennialists within his category of inconsistency because, he claimed, they ‘spiritualised’ prophetic references to Israel. Louis Goldberg went further, claiming that it is those who reject a literalist hermeneutic who are imposing their own theological framework on the scriptures:

‘... two established rules of interpretation are as follows: 1) “When scripture makes common sense use no other sense;” 2) “Prophecy  ...  must be interpreted literally ... The reason a non-literal method of interpretation is adopted is, almost without exception, because of a desire to avoid the obvious interpretation of the passage. The desire to bring the teaching of scripture into harmony with some predetermined system of doctrine instead of bringing doctrine into harmony with the scriptures has kept this practice alive.” The point is that we have to let the prophetic scriptures speak on their own without reading into them!’[72]

Chafer similarly taught that without a dispensational distinction between Israel and the Church, a simple literal reading of the Bible would lead to confusion and internal inconsistency.[73]  Dwight Pentecost, also of Dallas Theological Seminary, similarly insists, ‘scripture is unintelligible until one can distinguish clearly between God’s program for his earthly people Israel and that for the Church.’[74] The premise that the Bible is unintelligible without the dispensational distinction between Israel and the Church can only be sustained if one excludes a priori, all other methods of interpretation.

            Patrick Goodenough of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) explains the consequence of this literalist approach: ‘We simply believe the Bible. And that Bible, which we understand has not been revoked, makes it quite clear that God has given this land as an eternal inheritance to the Jewish people.’[75] Anne Dexter also challenges those who reject this hermeneutic: ‘Some Arab believers and expatriate Christians in Israel feel so strongly about these matters that they will not read the parts of the Bible that seem to promise the land to the Jews or in any way uphold their election ... Large parts of the scriptures are effectively invalidated by this approach.’[76] 

In the 1980s the Churches Ministry Among Jewish People (CMJ)[77] went further, locating the origin of what they term a ‘spiritualised’ reading of the Bible in the heresy of Marcion who proposed the abandonment of the Old Testament: ‘But that was unacceptable to the Church and a better way to de-Judaise the Hebrew scriptures was to “Christianise” the Hebrew scriptures so as to spiritualise the text and read New Testament concepts into the text. That view is still prevalent today.’[78] Hal Lindsey has also attributed the development of erroneous views concerning Israel to an allegorical, non-literal hermeneutic allegedly advocated by Origen.[79]

Others, however, have argued that it was the consistent approach of the Post-Apostolic Fathers, including Origen, to interpret the Hebrew scriptures typologically, that is as ‘types’ of New Testament realities,[80] just as Jesus and the Apostles had done.[81]  Indeed Jesus was often misunderstood by those who took his words too literally. John’s gospel contains several instances. For example, after he had cleansed the Temple and was asked by the Pharisees for a sign, Jesus replied, ‘Destroy this Temple and I will raise it again in three days’ (John 2:19).  They thought he meant their Temple. In the next few chapters: Nicodemus wonders how he can enter his mother’s womb again (John 3:4); the Samaritan woman believes Jesus is offering her water on tap (4:15); and the religious leaders fear Jesus is advocating cannibalism by insisting they must eat his body and drink his blood (6:51-52).  Ironically, one of the most common mistakes the gospels record, therefore, is the way in which people deduced a literal earthly interpretation when Jesus intended a spiritual application.[82] Because of their commitment to literalism, however, Lindsey and other dispensationalists make the same mistake and do not distinguish between the figurative or typological approaches used by the Reformers and the allegorical methods of interpretation found typically in pre-Reformation Roman Catholicism.[83]  The distinction between these two methods of interpretation is significant since the former places particular emphasis on the historical context of passages as well as upon the way scripture interprets scripture,[84] whereas an allegorical approach finds eternal truths without reference to historical setting. A typological approach also highlights the way New Testament writers see Jesus Christ to be the fulfilment of most Old Testament images and types.[85] There is evidence that a typological interpretation of the Old Testament was consistently followed by the Church from the 1st Century, and did not arise with Marcion as CMJ claim or with Origen as Lindsey alleges.[86] On the contrary, it has been argued that it is the dispensational distinction between Church and Israel that is without historical precedent.[87] Some have observed that it only came to prominence in post-holocaust theology.[88]

1.4 A Literal Futurist Hermeneutic Examined

Hal Lindsey is probably the most influential Christian Zionist writer today with book sales in excess of 40 million published in over 50 languages.[89] This appraisal will therefore use Lindsey’s writings as illustrative of how other Christian Zionist writers apply a ‘literal’ hermeneutic.  

1.4.1 Changing Literalism

One of the most noticeable aspects of a literal futurist hermeneutic is the way some adherents have adapted their interpretations to fit with changing events.[90] For example, in There’s a New World Coming (1973), Lindsey was relatively circumspect as to the meaning of the symbols used in the Book of Revelation. He speculated that John would have been lost for words trying to describe modern weapons, ‘In the case just mentioned, the locusts might symbolize an advanced kind of helicopter.’[91] By the time he wrote Apocalypse Code (1997), 24 years later, however, as new and more destructive military hardware was manufactured, Lindsey became more specific and confident of his interpretation. So, for example, ‘might symbolize’ now became what John ‘actually saw’:

‘Just exactly how could a first Century prophet describe, much less understand, the incredible advances in science and technology that exist at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries? Yet he testified and God bore witness that he actually saw and heard things like: supersonic jet aircraft with missiles ... advanced attack helicopters ... intercontinental ballistic missiles with Multiple Independently Targeted Re-entry Vehicles tipped with thermonuclear warheads ... biological and chemical weapons, aircraft carriers, missile cruisers, nuclear submarines, laser weapons, space stations and satellites.’[92] 

Such literalism is problematic when futurists attempt to keep pace with the dramatic geo-political changes as seen in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the last two decades. Lindsey had insisted in 1981 and again in 1994 that his, by then, apparently contradictory assessments of Russia were, nevertheless, both predicted in the Bible.

1980’s Countdown to Armageddon

Planet Earth 2000 AD

‘Today, the Soviets are without question the strongest power on the face of the earth. Let’s look at recent history to see how the Russians rose to the might predicted for them thousands of years ago.’[93]         

  ‘We see Russia as no longer a world threat, but a regional power with a world-class military - exactly what Ezekiel 38 and 39 predicted it would be.’[94]

Figure 3: An illustration of the changing significance of Russia in Lindsey’s Eschatology

With the gradual demise of Russia as a world power and the disintegration of the Communist bloc, Lindsey began to switch his emphasis from Russian Communism in 1970 to Islam Fundamentalism by 1994.[95]  In The Late Great Planet Earth (1970) the threat comes from ‘The Russian force’.[96]  By 1997 this had become, ‘The Russian-Muslim force’.[97] In keeping pace with the changing Middle East scene, by 1999 Lindsey was claiming this axis of evil was now led by a ‘Muslim-Russian alliance.’[98]

            Lindsey’s difficulty with finding an accurate and lasting interpretation is nowhere more evident than in his attempts to date the Second Advent. In Matthew 24:34, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.’  In 1970 Lindsey raised the question, ‘what generation?’ Logically, he suggested, it would be the generation that had seen the signs Jesus had described, but added, ‘chief among them the rebirth of Israel’.  He then suggested a biblical generation was around 40 years: ‘If this is a correct deduction, then within forty years or so of 1948, all these things could take place. Many scholars who have studied Bible prophecy all their lives believe that this is so.’[99]  Lindsey was not the only writer to suggest that the Messiah would return in 1988.[100] When Jesus did not return that year, however, Lindsey revised his timescale by suggesting that a biblical generation could be anything from 40 to 100 years and that perhaps Daniel’s prophetic clock had only started ticking again in 1967 when Israel captured Jerusalem rather than in 1948.[101] Undaunted, in 1988 Grant Jeffrey calculated that Daniel’s last ‘week’ would begin in 1993, the Tribulation would occur in 1997 and the cleansing of the Temple and Millennium would begin in the Autumn of 2000.[102] Like Lindsey, his subsequent books, written after 1993, avoided being so specific.[103]

1.4.2 Symbolic Literalism

Although Christian Zionists insist scripture must be interpreted literally, they have not always been consistent themselves. Indeed even Scofield conceded ‘It is then permitted - while holding firmly the historical verity - reverently to spiritualize the historical scriptures.’[104] David Brickner’s hermeneutic illustrates this tension. In his interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27 he first of all requires a figurative interpretation of the term ‘week’.[105]He is not speaking of literal weeks but of periods of time, each a period of seven years.’[106] However, in order to give a futurist reading to Daniel’s prophecy and apply it to today, it is also necessary for dispensationalists to place a ‘parenthesis’ of 2000 years between the 69th and 70th week when the prophetic clock was inexplicably stopped in mid-verse. Daniel 9:26 reads, ‘After the sixty-two ‘sevens’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.’ Brickner claims that the prophecy has not been completely fulfilled. The first half of the verse was fulfilled in 70 AD but apparently one ‘seven’ of the seventy still remains in Brickner’s words, ‘to be played out’. He argues, ‘But there seems to be a break in Daniel's countdown; he indicates a time lapse between the sixty-ninth seven and the final seven … the past 2000 years have been a parenthesis in Daniel’s prophecy and we await that final seven.’      

            Kenneth Barker, the editor of the NIV Study Bible,[107] offers several reasons for the apparent gap of 2000 years in Daniel’s prophecy. His two strongest arguments are based on literalist presuppositions which crumble if they themselves are questioned. He suggests that firstly, the seventieth ‘week’ could not have been fulfilled because the results of the Messiah’s work outlined in verse 24 have not yet been fully realised. Secondly, the remaining unfulfilled prophecies would be unintelligible unless the ‘present church age is regarded as a distinct period of time of unknown duration in God’s prophetic program.’[108] The problem with this interpretation is that it assumes there must be a gap because a literal interpretation becomes ‘unintelligible’ without one. The arbitrary decision to stop the prophetic clock and place a 2000 year gap between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week is probably the most eccentric example of a non-literal and unnatural interpretation imposed on the text by those who insist on a literal hermeneutic.[109] Other commentators such as John Goldingay regard attempts to date Daniel’s ‘weeks’ literally as flawed because they try and read this prophecy as a literal chronology instead of what he terms ‘chronography’. He argues that Daniel is using, ‘a stylized scheme of history used to interpret historical data rather than arising from them.’ It is, he claims, ‘comparable to cosmology, arithmology, and genealogy.’[110]

Lindsey takes a similar approach to the apocalyptic descriptions in the book of Revelation, suggesting that a first Century person would be unable to comprehend scientific developments some 2000 years later. Lindsey claims John ‘had to illustrate them with phenomena of the first century; for instance, a thermonuclear war looked to him like a giant volcanic eruption spewing fire and brimstone.’ Lindsey claims the symbolism found in Revelation was the result of ‘a first-Century man being catapulted in God’s time machine up to the end of the twentieth century’, then returning and describing what he saw in ways familiar to his own generation.[111] Capitalising on the Bible Code phenomena, Lindsey described his own as the Apocalypse Code.[112] Using this ‘key’ enables Lindsey to claim that John's ‘locusts’ are helicopters; ‘horses prepared for battle’ are actually heavily armed attack helicopters; ‘crowns of gold’ are the helmets worn by pilots; and the ‘sound of their wings’ is the ‘thunderous sound of many attack helicopters flying overhead’;[113] the ‘bow’ wielded by the Antichrist in Revelation 6:1-2, is actually ‘a code for long range weapons like ICBM’s.’[114] Lindsey even claims that the reference to the ‘colour of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone’ in Revelation 9:17 refers to the ‘Chinese national flag ... emblazoned on the military vehicles.’[115]  Extending the use of this code to the rest of the Bible, Lindsey claims that while references to ‘Israel’ always mean Israel, other nations mentioned in prophecy require translation. So, following Darby and Scofield, Lindsey equates ancient tribes and nations mentioned in Old Testament prophecies with contemporary enemies of Israel in the Middle East.[116] ‘In Psalm 83, some 3,000 years ago, God gave a warning of what would happen in the last days ... In these verses the Philistia or Philistines are the modern Palestinians. Tyre is modern Lebanon. Assyria is modern Syria.’[117] It is not always clear, following Lindsey, on what basis a literal interpretation may become a figurative interpretation, other than that it appears to fit a contemporary application more clearly and reinforces a predetermined eschatology. 

1.4.3 Contradictory Literalism

While dispensationalists claim to use a consistent plain literal interpretation of scripture, at times they nevertheless reach very different, and sometimes contradictory, conclusions. For example, in their interpretation of Revelation 9:13-19, M.R. DeHann and Hal Lindsey contradict one another:

M.R. DeHann (1946)

Hal Lindsey (1973)

‘In Revelation 9:13-21 we have a description of an army of two hundred million horsemen ... seems to be a supernatural army of horrible beings, probably demons, who are permitted to plague the unrepentant sinners on the earth.’[118]

‘The four angels of Revelation 9:14-15 will mobilize an army of 200 million soldiers from east of the Euphrates ... I believe these 200 million troops are Red Chinese soldiers accompanied by other Eastern allies.’[119]

Figure 4: An example of the contradiction between the literal interpretation of Revelation 9

by DeHaan and Lindsey

For DeHann and also LaHaye, the 200 million are ‘a supernatural horde of 200 million demonic horsemen’[120] while for Lindsey and Schuyler English they are literally Chinese soldiers.[121] Lindsey does, however, suggest their ‘horses’ are symbolic for mobilized ballistic missile launchers.[122] Each claims his is a ‘literal’ interpretation of the text. William Hendrikson raises several questions about this form of hermeneutics in his own commentary on the book of Revelation:

‘Do these symbols refer to specific events, single happenings, dates or persons in history? For if they do, then we may well admit that we cannot interpret them. Because among the thousands of dates and events and persons in history that show certain traits of resemblance to the symbol in question, who is able to select the one and only date, event or person that was forecast by this particular symbol? Confusion results. We get thousands of “interpretations” but no certainty. And the Apocalypse remains a closed book.’[123]

Indeed some have described this form of literalism as a licence for ‘full-scale exegetical exploitation.’[124] Tim LaHaye’s ten volume Left Behind series, for example, which provides a fictional account of the Rapture and Tribulation, have proved very lucrative financially for both the authors and publishers, selling in excess of 32 million copies since 1995.[125]  

1.4.4 Enhanced Literalism

To assist readers in their understanding of otherwise obscure passages of scripture, Lindsey and others add words which, although absent in the original biblical text, nevertheless enhance or amplify the interpretation being made. In The Road to Holocaust where Lindsey takes the promises made in Romans 11 and applies them to the contemporary State of Israel and not simply to Jews generally, he adds the word ‘national’ to the reference to Israel in the text.[126] Similarly, in a quotation of Matthew 24:15-18, Lindsey assists readers to see that this prophecy refers to some future date which requires the rebuilding of the Temple, rather than to 70 AD when the Zealots and Romans both desecrated Herod’s Temple.[127] ‘Therefore when you see the Abomination which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place [of the rebuilt Temple] (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.’[128] Lindsey's interpretation of Daniel 11:40-45 is similarly imaginative, claiming this depicts ‘the Russian-led Islamic invasion of Israel.’

‘At the time of the end the King of the South [the Muslim Confederacy] will engage him [the False Prophet of Israel] in battle, and the King of the North [Russia] will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He [the Russian Commander] will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. He will also invade the Beautiful Land [Israel]. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon [Jordan] will be delivered from his hand.’[129]

Lindsey touches here upon one of the most important prophecies within dispensational eschatology. The claim is that ‘Gog’, also described as the ‘Prince of Rosh’, and ‘Magog’, mentioned in Ezekiel 38:15-16 are enigmatic references to Russia. While John Cumming was suggesting this theory in 1864,[130] it only really gained popular recognition as a result of its inclusion within the notes of the Scofield Reference Bible. Scofield is probably relying on Gaebelein when he asserts:

‘That the primary reference is to the northern (European) powers, headed up by Russia, all agree … “Gog” is the prince, “Magog” his land.  The reference to Meshech and Tubal (Moscow and Tobolsk) is a clear mark of identification. Russia and the northern powers have been the latest persecutors of dispersed Israel, and it is congruous both with divine justice and with the covenants … that destruction should fall at the climax of the last mad attempt to exterminate the remnant of Israel in Jerusalem.’[131] 

Lindsey and other futurists have simply perpetuated the principle begun by Scofield, however unintentionally, of adding the word Russia to the text to enhance this interpretation. ‘And you (Russia) will come from your place out of the remote parts of the north, you and many peoples with you.’[132] The suggestion that ‘Gog’ and ‘Magog’ refer to Russia, or that in Scofield’s words, ‘all agree,’ is often repeated by other dispensational writers.[133] Tim LaHaye for example, insists, ‘Etymologically, the Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 38 and 39 can only mean modern-day Russia.’[134] Nevertheless, this interpretation has been totally discredited by biblical scholars and etymologists alike.[135]  Further evidence against this futurist interpretation is suggested by Gary DeMar who observes that there is no mention of Gog and Magog in the Book of Revelation, chapters 4-19, which dispensationalists claim describes the period of the Tribulation when Russia is supposed to attack Israel.[136]

1.4.5 Arbitrary Literalism

Some advocates of literalism appear rather arbitrary in the way that they apply passages to contemporary events, peoples or places without necessarily any corroboration or consistency. By circular reasoning it is assumed that since passages must refer to this generation, contemporary terms or nations may be substituted. So Lindsey can claim, ‘The God of Israel has sworn in the prophecies that He will not forsake the Israelis, nor let them be destroyed.’[137]

‘I know from my study of the Bible that the final great war includes Turkey as part of the Islamic grouping allied with Russia ... The great nations that do get biblical reference are the Kings of the East, (China, India, Pakistan - all openly nuclear), Russia (Gog and Magog), Libya, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and so on.’[138]

Without any substantiation Lindsey claims that the Bible foretold many other recent events including the rise of Muslim Fundamentalism, the collapse of the Middle East peace process and the development of the European Community.[139] Similar conclusions are made by others.[140] For example, David Brickner claims, ‘we know that Persia is Iran’,[141] and that the destruction of Babylon mentioned in Revelation 18 is ‘modern day Iraq’.[142] Surprisingly, Scofield rejected the notion that a ‘literal Babylon is to be built on the site of ancient Babylon’,[143] identifying Babylon symbolically with Rome. Charles Dyer has nevertheless popularised a more consistent literal interpretation in which Babylon is indeed Babylon. Dyer, a faculty member of Dallas Theological Seminary, traces the rise of Saddam Hussein in scripture and concludes that Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was depicted in Isaiah 13 as an attempt to set up a powerbase to attack Israel. However, when Isaiah says, ‘the day of the Lord is near’, Dyer and other futurists have to reinterpret this. The word ‘near’ cannot literally mean ‘soon’ as it was said over 2,500 years ago so must therefore refer to the ‘end times’. Dyer also sees Saddam Hussein as a successor to Nebuchadnezzar (the only Arab leader ever to defeat Israel), because of his hostility to Israel and his intention to rebuild Babylon.[144] Irrespective of Hussein’s motives, mimicking the past is hardly the equivalent of fulfilling prophecy.[145]

            Probably most surprising of all, however, is the claim made by several dispensational authors that the United States is mentioned in the Bible.[146] Lindsey appears to have been the first to make this assertion, based on Revelation 12:14-17.[147] ‘The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert.’ Lindsey suggests that this describes ‘some massive airlift’ that will transport escaping Jewish believers from the holocaust of Armageddon to the safety of places like Petra. He claims that, ‘Since the eagle is the national symbol of the United States, it’s possible that the airlift will be made available by aircraft from the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.’[148] Lindsey does not explain why the symbolism of the eagle should necessarily be applied to the United States instead of to any one of a number of countries like Germany or the Czech Republic who also have an eagle as part of their national emblem. Nor does he explain why this particular reference to an eagle should be understood as describing modern aircraft and not other passages such as Exodus 19:4, Deuteronomy 32:11-12 or Isaiah 40:31 which also refer to eagles. Such speculative interpretations hardly corroborate Lindsey’s claim to hold to a consistent literal hermeneutic.

However, following Scofield’s rigid dispensations, Lindsey has also concluded that Christians are not obligated to keep the Ten Commandments because they were only given to the nation of Israel in a previous dispensation. He alleges that the early Church made a mistake when it tried to impose the Law on Gentile believers. ‘Israel’s failure under the Law serves as an historical lesson to all of us today that religion of all kinds blinds us to the truth.’[149] It is ironic that Lindsey should charge his critics with anti-Semitism when he arbitrarily nullifies the laws which would, if applied, give protection against such racism.

 

1.5 The Bible: A Literal Futurist Hermeneutic Assessed

It has been shown that the development of a literal and futurist reading of scripture and, in particular, the argument that Old Testament references to Israel apply to contemporary Jews and the State of Israel, rather than the Church, is directly attributable to Lewis Way, Edward Irving, John Darby and their associates who attended the Albury and Powerscourt conferences of the 1820s and 1830s. These were given particular expression in Darby’s dispensational scheme and then codified and accorded virtually canonical status in the Scofield Reference Bible. Sandeen observes that Dispensationalism has, ‘a frozen biblical text in which every word was supported by the same weight of divine authority.’[150] Clarence Bass goes further, insisting that ‘No part of historic Christian doctrine supports this radical distinction between church and kingdom.  To be sure they are not identical; but Dispensationalism has added the idea that the kingdom was to be a restoration of Israel, not a consummation of the church.’[151]

            From Hal Lindsey’s writings in particular, it has been demonstrated that in practice literalism is not necessarily any more consistent or free of bias than any other system of hermeneutics: it is actually flexible enough to be adapted to suit changing events; can contradict other literal interpretations; is often assisted as much by eisegesis as exegesis; and can lead to dogmatic and unsubstantiated claims concerning the contemporary fulfilment of biblical prophecy.

            As early as 1871, Charles Hodge, the Princeton theologian understood the logical consequences of dispensational literalism. From his perspective, 

‘The argument from the ancient prophecies is proved to be invalid, because it would prove too much. If those prophecies foretell a literal restoration, they foretell that the temple is to be rebuilt, the priesthood restored, sacrifices again offered, and that the whole Mosaic ritual is to be observed in all its detail.’[152]

As will be shown, this is precisely what many contemporary messianic and apocalyptic dispensationalists believe is foretold in scripture.

            Covenantalists like Hodge however, argue that the Old Covenant should be interpreted in the light of the New Covenant, not the other way round. In Colossians, for example, Paul actually uses a typological hermeneutic to explain this: ‘Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.  These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ’ (Colossians 2:16-17). The question is therefore not whether the promises of the covenant are to be understood literally or spiritually.[153]  It is instead a question of whether they should be understood in terms of Old Covenant shadow or New Covenant reality. The failure to recognise this principal is the basic hermeneutical error which Dispensationalists and Christian Zionists, in particular, make and from which flow the other distinctive doctrines that characterise the movement.

For further material on Dispensationalism and Christian Zionism see www.sizers.org

 

 

[1]    Most dispensationalists, (but not covenant premillennialists) also believe in the  Rapture when Christians will be removed from the earth either prior to, during or after the Tribulation – hence three sub divisions within Dispensationalism – Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib and Post-Tribulationists. See Marvin Rosenthal, The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church, (Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 1990).

[2]    Richard Kyle, The Last Days are Here Again, A History of the End Times, (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1998), p199.

[3]    Ibid.

[4]    D. W. Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain, A History from the 1730’s to the 1980’s, (London, Unwin Hyman, 1989), p88; Edward Miller, The History and Doctrines of Irvingism, volume 1 (London, Kegan Paul, 1878), p36; Lewis Way, The Latter Rain, 2nd edition (London, 1821).

[5]   Bebbington, op.cit., p88.

[6]     Mark Rayburn Patterson, Designing the Last Days: Edward Irving, the Albury Circle and the Theology of the Morning Watch. PhD. Kings College, London, 2001, pp117, 166.

[7]   Darby, Collected Writings, edited by William Kelly (Kingston on Thames, Stow Hill Bible and Trust Depot, 1962) 11, p363.

[8]   Ryrie attempts, unconvincingly, to show that the idea of dispensations were latent in the writings of the French mystic Pierre Poiret (1646-1719); an amillennial Calvinist John Edwards (1639-1716) and Isaac Watts (1674-1748). See Ryrie, Dispensationalism, (Chicago, Moody Press, 1995), pp. 65-71.

[9]   Jonathan Edwards, ‘On Full Communion’, The Complete Works of Jonathan Edwards, volume 1 (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, 1974), p160.

[10]   George Stanley Faber, ‘On the peculiar genius of the three dispensations, Patriarchal, Levitical, and Christian,’  A Treatise on the Genius and Object of the Patriarchal, the Levitical and the Christian Dispensations, (London, C & J. Rivington, 1823), p2.

[11]   Edward Irving, The Last Days A Discourse on the Evil Character of These Our Times, Proving Them to be The ‘Perilous Times’ and the ‘Last Days’, (London, James Nisbit, 1850), p10.

[12]   Edward Miller, The History and Doctrines of Irvingism, (London, 1878). 

[13]   J. N. Darby, 'The Apostasy of the Successive Dispensations.'  The Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, Vol. 2, Ecclesiastical No. 1. William Kelly, ed. (Kingston on Thames, Stow Hill Bible and Trust Depot, 1962). p124.

[14]  ‘The Seven Dispensations’ Morning Watch, IV. 134.9f  September (1831) cited in Patterson, op.cit., p138.

[15]   Darby, op.cit., pp124-130 (emphasis added).

[16]   See chapter 2, fn 182 for Scofield’s acknowledgement of Irving’s influence.

[17]   Ryrie, Dispensationalism, p68.

[18]   Patterson, op.cit.

[19]   Darby, Apostasy., pp124-130.

[20]   Ryrie, Dispensationalism, pp68, 71.

[21]   C. I. Scofield, 'Introduction,' The Scofield Reference Bible (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1909), p5.

[22]   J. N. Darby, ‘The Covenants’ The Collected Writings of John Nelson Darby, edited by William Kelly (Kingston on Thames, Stow Hill Bible and Trust Depot, 1962). Doctrine I, III, p68.

[23]   J. N. Darby, ‘Reflections Upon the Prophetic Inquiry, and the Views Advanced in It,’ Collected, op.cit., Prophetic I, II. pp6-7. 

[24]   J. N. Darby, ‘Evidence from Scripture for the passing away of the present dispensations’ Collected, op.cit., Prophetic I, II. p108.

[25]   ‘The parallel between Scofield’s notes and Darby’s works only too clearly reveals that Scofield was not only a student of Darby’s works, but that he copiously borrowed ideas, words and phrases.’ Clarence B. Bass, Backgrounds to Dispensationalism, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1960), p18. See also Loraine Boettner, The Millennium, (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1958), p369f.

[26]   Scofield, Scofield, op.cit., piii.

[27]   C. I. Scofield, Addresses on Prophecy, (New York, Chas. C. Cook, 1914), p13.

[28]   Scofield, Scofield, op.cit., fn. 4, p5.

[29]   The New Scofield Study Bible, (New York, Oxford University Press, 1984), p3.

[30]   Scofield, Scofield, op.cit., fn. 3, p1250.

[31]   Ibid., fn. 1, p20.

[32]   Ibid., p989.

[33]   Ibid., fn. 2, p1115.

[34]   Ibid., p. 1002. Many other dispensationalists take the same view. See Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, (Dallas, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1975), volume 4, p221.

[35]   Scofield, Scofield, op.cit, p1252.

[36]   C. I. Scofield, Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, (Philadelphia, Philadelphia School of the Bible, 1928). 

[37]   Scofield, op. cit., p3.

[38]   An alternative translation for this verse is: ‘You must try as hard as you can to cause God to fully approve of you as a worker who is not ashamed of his work and correctly teaches the true message.’ USB New Testament Handbook, (New York, United Bible Societies 1997), based on the following: William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, revised and augmented by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker (Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 1979); Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, 2 volumes (New York, United Bible Societies, 1988); C. K. Barrett, The Pastoral Epistles in the New English Bible. (New York, The New Clarendon Press, 1963); Arland J. Hultgren, I-II Timothy, Titus Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament, (Minneapolis, Augsburg Publishing House, 1984); Walter Lock, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, International Critical Commentary, (Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark, 1924).

[39]   Joseph M. Canfield, The Incredible Scofield and His Book, (Vallecito, Ross House Books, 1988), p166.

[40]   ‘In the present verse it simply means “not causing (moral or spiritual) damage to anyone else.”’ USB, op.cit.

[41]   C.I. Scofield, Scofield Bible Correspondence Course, (Chicago, Moody Bible Institute, n.d.), pp45-46.

[42]   Scofield, Scofield, op.cit., Index.

[43]   Ibid., Introduction, piii.

[44]   Ibid., piii.

[45]   Footnotes appear on only 327 out of a total of 970 pages of the Old Testament, and on only 214 out of 352 pages in the New Testament.

[46]   Scofield, Scofield, op.cit., p723.

[47]   Canfield, op.cit., p209.

[48]   William E. Cox, An Examination of Dispensationalism, (Philadelphia, Presbyterian & Reformed, 1974), p55-56.

[49]   James M. Gray, President of Moody Bible Institute and William J. Erdman.

[50]   E. Schuyler English, The New Scofield Study Bible, (New York, Oxford University Press, 1984).

[51]   Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, (Chicago, Moody Press, 1965).

[52]   John Walvoord, Israel in Prophecy, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1962); The Nations in Prophecy, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1967); The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1975); The Rapture Question, rev. edn. (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1979); The Nations, Israel and the Church in Prophecy, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1988); Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1990); Major Bible Prophecies, (New York, Harper Collins, 1991).

[53]   Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth, (London, Lakeland, 1970); Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth, (London, Lakeland, 1973); There’s A New World Coming, A Prophetic Odyssey, (Santa Ana, California, Vision House, 1973); The Liberation of Planet Earth, (London, Lakeland, 1974); The 1980’s: Countdown to Armageddon, (New York, Bantam, 1981); The Promise, (Eugene, Oregon, Harvest House, 1982); The Rapture: Truth or Consequences, (New York, Bantam, 1983); The Terminal Generation, (New York, Bantam,1983); A Prophetical  Walk Through the Holy Land, (Eugene, Oregon, Harvest House, 1983); Israel and the Last Days, (Eugene, Oregon, Harvest House, 1983); Combat Faith, (1986); The Road to Holocaust, (New York, Bantam, 1989); Planet Earth-2000 AD, (Palos Verdes, California, Western Front, 1994); The Final Battle, (Palos Verdes, California, Western Front, 1995); Planet Earth-2000 AD,  revised edition (Palos Verdes, California, Western Front, 1996); Amazing Grace, (Palos Verdes, California, Western Front, 1996); Blood Moon, (Palos Verdes, California, Western Front, 1996); The Apocalypse Code, (Palos Verdes, California, Western Front, 1997); Planet Earth: The Final Chapter, (Beverly Hills, California, Western Front, 1998); Where is America in Prophecy? video (Murrieta, California, Hal Lindsey Ministries, 2001); International Intelligence Briefing, (Palos Verdes, California, Hal Lindsey Ministries), monthly journal. 

[54]   Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins, Are We Living in the End Times? (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 1999); Rapture Under Attack, (Wheaton, Tyndale House); Left Behind, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 1995); Tribulation Force, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 1996); Nicolae, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 1997); Soul Harvest, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 1998); Apollyon, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 1999); Assassins, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 1999); The Indwelling, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 2000); The Mark, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 2001); Desecration, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 2002); The Remnant, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 2002).

[55]   Moishe Rosen, Jews for Jesus (Old Tappan, New Jersey, Revell, 1974); Y’shua (Chicago, Moody Press, 1982); Overture to Armageddon? Beyond the Gulf War (San Bernardino, California, Here’s Life Publishers, 1991).

[56]   Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Tustin, Ariel Ministries, 1992).

[57]   Craig A. Blaising & Darrell L. Bock, ed. Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1992); Progressive Dispensationalism, (Wheaton, Victor, 1993); Robert L. Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1993).

[58]   Clarence E. Bass, Backgrounds to Dispensationalism, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1960); Daniel P. Fuller, Gospel and Law, Contrast or Continuum? The Hermeneutics of Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology,  (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1980); Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock eds., Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1992); David E. Holwerda, Jesus and Israel, One Covenant or Two?, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1995).

[59]   Blaising & Bock, Dispensationalism, op.cit., p19.

[60]   Charles C. Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, (Neptune, New Jersey, Loizeaux Brothers, 1953); Dispensationalism Today, (Chicago, Moody Press, 1965); Dispensationalism, (Moody Press, Chicago, 1995).

[61]   Blaising & Bock, Dispensationalism, op.cit., pp21-23.

[62]   Ibid., pp14-15.

[63]   Darrell Bock, cited in ‘For the Love of Zion’, Christianity Today, 9 March (1992), p50.

[64]   Ryrie, Dispensationalism, op.cit., pp171, 175, 178.

[65]   Ibid., p199.

[66]   Charles Welch and Stuart Allen, Perfection or Perdition, An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, (London, The Berean Publishing Trust, 1973).

[67]   John H. Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, (Brentwood, Tennessee, Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991).

[68]   James Barr, Fundamentalism, (London, SCM, 1977), p197.

[69]   L. S. Chafer, ‘Dispensationalism,’ Bibliotheca Sacra, 93, October (1936), pp410, 417.

[70]   Ryrie, Dispensationalism, op.cit., p40.

[71]   Ibid., p92.

[72]   Louis Goldberg, ‘Whose Land Is It?’ Issues, 4.2. Goldberg quotes from Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1964), p60.

[73]   L. S. Chafer, ‘Dispensationalism,’ Bibliotheca Sacra, 93, October (1936) pp446-447. Quoted in Daniel P. Fuller, Gospel and Law, Contrast or Continuum? The Hermeneutic of Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1980), pp24-25.

[74]   Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, (Findlay, Ohio, Dunham, 1958), p529.

[75]   Kathy Kern, ‘Blessing Israel? Christian Embassy Responds’ Christian Peacemakers Team, menno.org.cpt.news@MennoLink.org (2 November 1997).

[76]   Anne Dexter, View the Land, (South Plainfield, New Jersey, Bridge Publishing, 1986), pp214-215.

[77]  In response to changing social and political attitudes toward Jews, the London Jews’ Society has modified its name several times, first to ‘Church Missions to Jews’ in the early 20th Century; to ‘The Church’s Mission to the Jews’; then, ‘The Church’s Ministry Among the Jews’; and finally in 1995 to ‘Church’s Ministry Among Jewish People’.

[78]   CMJ ‘Replacement Theology: Is the Church the “Israel of God”?’ (St Albans, Herts, CMJ, n.d.).

[79]   Lindsey, Road, pp7-8.

[80]   For example the Temple and its sacrifices are seen as types or illustrations of Jesus. See Hebrews 9 and Matthew 26:61 ‘Destroy this Temple and I will rebuild it again in three days.’

[81]   Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), volume 1 (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1971); Clement, ‘First Epistle.’ Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by A. Cleveland Coxe (Peabody, Massachusetts, Henrickson, 1994), 1. pp12-13; Epistle of Barnabas IV. Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by A. Cleveland Coxe (Peabody, Massachusetts, Henrickson, 1994), 1. p138; Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, XI. Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by A. Cleveland Coxe (Peabody, Massachusetts, Henrickson, 1994), 1. pp200-267; Irenaeus, Against Heresies. IV. XXI. 3. Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by A. Cleveland Coxe (Peabody, Massachusetts, Henrickson, 1994), 1. p493.

[82]   T.L. Frazier, A Second Look at the Second Coming, (Ben Lomond, California, Conciliar Press, 1999), p78.

[83]   J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrine, revised edition (San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1978), pp69-75.   

[84]   John Goldingay, Approaches to Old Testament Interpretation, (Leicester, IVP, 1981), pp97-114; Richard Longnecker, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1975); John Wenham, Christ and the Bible, (Guildford, Eagle, 1993).

[85]   E. A. Martens, Plot and Purpose in the Old Testament, (Leicester, IVP, 1981); Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel and Kingdom, A Christian Interpretation of the Old Testament, (Exeter, Paternoster, 1981); According to Plan, The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible, (Leicester, IVP, 1991).

[86]   DeMar and Leithart, op.cit., p37.

[87]   George Eldon Ladd, The Blessed Hope, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1956), pp35-60, 130-136; Robert Doyle, Eschatology and the Shape of Christian Belief, (Carlisle, Paternoster, 1999), pp242-250; Cornelius P. Venema, The Promise of the Future, (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, 2000), pp205-218; Iain Murray, The Puritan Hope, (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, 1971), pp187-206.

[88]   David, E. Holwerda, Jesus and Israel, One Covenant or Two?, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1995), pp1-26.

[89]   Lindsey’s latest publisher, Western Front, is more conservative referring to ‘a dozen books with combined world sales of more than 35 million.’ Lindsey, The Final Battle, (Palos Verdes, California, Western Front, 1995), p. xiii & back cover.

[90]   Compare Grant Jeffrey, Armageddon, Appointment with Destiny, (Toronto, Frontier Research Publications, 1988), pp182-187; with Messiah, War in the Middle East & Road to Armageddon, (Toronto, Frontier Research Publications, 1991), p268. In the former Jeffrey dates Daniel’s 70th week to the 7 years 1993-2000 and the Lord’s return and cleansing of a rebuilt Temple to the 24th of the 9th month in 2000 AD In the latter book Jeffrey appears to contradict himself claiming, ‘We cannot and must not set dates’, p276.

[91]   Lindsey, There’s, op.cit., p8. See also p141 for a reference to Cobra helicopters.

[92]   Lindsey, Apocalypse, op.cit., p36.

[93]   Lindsey, 1980’s, op.cit., p68.

[94]   Lindsey, Planet, p216.

[95]   Lindsey, Chapter 1 of The Final Battle, (Palos Verdes, California, Western Front, 1995), is entitled ‘The New Islamic Global Threat’, p1.

[96]   Lindsey, Late, op.cit., p160.

[97]   Lindsey, Apocalypse, op.cit., p153.

[98]   Lindsey, Briefing, op.cit., 7th January (1999).

[99]   Lindsey, Late, op.cit., p54.

[100]   Another classic example was Edgar Whisenant, who predicted the return of Christ some time between 11-13 September 1988 in his book, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988, (Nashville, World Bible Society, 1988), pp3, 36, 56. The book sold 2 million copies.

[101]   Hal Lindsey, Planet, op.cit., p6.

[102]   Jeffrey, Armageddon, op.cit., pp171-195.

[103]   Jeffrey, Messiah, op.cit., pp137-154.

[104]   C.I. Scofield, Scofield Bible Correspondence Course, (Chicago, Moody Bible Institute, 1907), pp45-46.

[105]   This obscure passage so popular with dispensational futurists reads, ‘Seventy “sevens” are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven “sevens,” and sixty-two “sevens.” It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two “sevens,” the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one “seven.” In the middle of the “seven” he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing {of the Temple} he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” (Daniel 9:24-27).

[106] Brickner, Future, op.cit., p17.

[107] The most popular Study Bible today, which is not dispensational.

[108] Kenneth Barker, ‘Premillennialism in the Book of Daniel’ The Master’s Seminary Journal 4.1 Spring (1993), p36.

[109] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, (Atlanta, American Vision, 1997), p81.

[110] John E. Goldingay, Daniel, Word Biblical Commentary, (Milton Keynes, Word, 1991) p.257. For a fuller critique see Edward J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1949), pp201-221, and Joyce G. Baldwin, Daniel, An Introduction and Commentary, (Leicester, IVP, 1978), pp172-178.

[111] Lindsey, Israel, op.cit., pp32-33. This chapter is reused heavily in Apocalypse Code, op.cit., pp30-44.

[112] Lindsey, Apocalypse, op.cit.,

[113] Ibid., p42.

[114] Ibid., p72.

[115] Lindsey, Planet, op.cit., p247.

[116] J. N. Darby, ‘The Hopes,’ Collected, op.cit., Prophetic I, II, p380; C. I. Scofield, Scofield, op.cit., fn. 1, p883.

[117] Lindsey, Final, op.cit., p2.

[118] M. R. DeHann, Revelation, 35 Simple Studies in the Major Themes of Revelation,  (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1946), p148.

[119] Lindsey, There’s, op.cit., pp142-143.

[120] Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins, Are We Living in the End Times?, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 1999), pp190-192.

[121] Schuyler English, New, op.cit., p1334.

[122] Lindsey, There’s, op.cit., p143.

[123] William Hendrikson, More than Conquerors, (London, Inter-Varsity, 1962). p40-41.

[124] Frank Kermode, ‘Can we say absolutely anything we like?’ Art, Politics, and Will: Essays in Honour of Lionel Trilling, edited by Quentin Anderson (New York, Basic, 1977), pp159-72, cited in Kathleen C. Boone, The Bible Tells Them So (London, SCM, 1989), p44.

[125] Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 1995); Tribulation Force, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 1996); Nicolae, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 1997); Soul Harvest, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 1998); Apollyon, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 1999); Assassins, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 1999); The Indwelling, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 2000); The Mark, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 2001); Desecration, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 2002); The Remnant, (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 2002); Nancy Gibbs, ‘Apocalypse Now’, Time, 1 July 2002, pp41-53. Tim LaHaye has authored a further 40 books with combined sales of 30 million and published in 33 languages.

[126] Lindsey, Road, op.cit., p176.

[127] While Lindsey and Walvoord believe Jesus is predicting a future desecration of a rebuilt Temple, non-dispensationalist commentators suggest his words were fulfilled in the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD when Jewish Zealots desecrated the Temple using it as a fortress against the Romans. See William Hendriksen, The Gospel of Matthew, (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, 1973), p858; Michael Green, The Message of Matthew, (Leicester, IVP, 2000), pp249-258. Eusebius the 4th Century Bishop and historian, for example, refers to the eyewitness accounts of Josephus, the 1st Century Jewish historian, to show how these predictions had by then already been fulfilled. Eusebius, ‘On the Predictions of Christ’ Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine, (London, SPCK, 1927), 3:7, 73-74.

[128] Lindsey, Apocalypse, op.cit., p78. Moishe Rosen similarly adds the names of contemporary nations to Zechariah’s prophecy concerning the end to the Babylonian captivity to help readers to appreciate that it refers to the restoration which began in the late 19th Century. ‘First, the regathering of the Jewish people will take place from the west (represented by Egypt) and from the east (represented by Assyria). Rosen, Overture, op.cit., p152.

[129] Lindsey, Planet, op.cit., pp182-183.

[130] John Cumming, Destiny of Nations, (London, Hurst and Blackette, 1864). Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg replied, ‘the poor Russians have been here very unjustly arraigned among the enemies of God’s people. Rosh, as the name of a people, does not occur in all the Old Testament.’ The Prophecies of the Prophet Ezekiel, translated by A.C. Murphy and J.G. Murphy (Edinburgh, T & T Clark, 1869), p333.

[131] Scofield, Scofield, op.cit., p883

[132] Lindsey, 1980’s, op.cit., p65.

[133] Jeffrey, Armageddon, op.cit., pp98ff. Unlike later dispensationalists such as Scofield, Walvoord and Lindsey, however, Irving believed the reference to ‘Gog’ in Ezekiel 38 to be, ‘a confederacy of all the nations of the East, which are left from the destruction of the Roman apostasy, which proceedeth this great congregation of nations against Jerusalem spoken of in all the prophets.’ Irving, Last, op.cit., p25.

[134] LaHaye and Jenkins, Are, op.cit., p86.

[135] Edwin Yamauchi, Foes from the Northern Frontier, (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1982), pp19-27; Ralph H. Alexander, Ezekiel, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1986), p930; Hengstenberg, op.cit., p333.

[136] Gary DeMar, op. cit., pp346-352. He notes that the reference to Gog and Magog in Revelation 20:8 occurs after the Millennium. He also notes that ‘north’ in biblical orientation actually referred to the nations of the east which would attack Jerusalem from the north. He also raises the question that if Rosh does refer to Russia, why do not other nations mentioned in biblical prophecy sound like their modern counterparts? John Walvoord alleges that the reference to Gog and Magog in Revelation 20 means that Russia will make its appearance at the end of the Millennium in yet another battle. John Walvoord, Major Bible Prophecies, (New York, Harper Collins, 1991), p480.

[137] Lindsey, 1980’s, op.cit., p45.

[138] Lindsey, Final, op.cit., pp183, 213.

[139] Hal Lindsey, International Intelligence Briefing, 7th January (1999). Lindsey also claims a ‘gigantic fault’ runs through the Mount of Olives. Late, op.cit., p174.

[140] Charles Dyer, The Rise of Babylon, (Wheaton, Illinois, Tyndale House, 1991), p198; Grant Jeffrey, Armageddon, Appointment with Destiny, (Toronto, Frontier Research, 1988), pp185-187.

[141] Brickner, Future, op.cit., p70.

[142] Ibid., p73.

[143] Scofield, Scofield, op.cit., fn.1. p1347.

[144] Dyer, op.cit. Following his literalist interpretation, references to Babylon in the Book of Revelation must logically refer to Babylon, that is, modern day Iraq.

[145] Gary DeMar, op.cit., p342.

[146] Noah Hutchings, U.S. in Prophecy, (Oklahoma City, Hearthstone Publishing, 2000); Arno Froese, Terror in America, Understanding the Tragedy, (West Columbia, Olive Press, 2001); Mark Hitchcock, Is America in Prophecy? (Portland, Oregon, Multnomah, 2002); Hal Lindsey, Where is America in Prophecy? video (Murrieta, California, Hal Lindsey Ministries, 2001).

[147] Hal Lindsey, There’s a New World Coming, A Prophetic Odyssey, (Santa Ana, California, Vision House, 1973).

[148] Ibid., p185.

[149] Lindsey, Road, op.cit., pp153-154.

[150] Ernest R. Sandeen, ‘Toward a Historical Interpretation of the Origins of Fundamentalism,’ Church History 36 (1967), 70, cited in Gerstner, Wrongly, op.cit., p100.

[151] Bass, op.cit., p31.

[152] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3 volumes (London, James Clarke, [1871] 1960), 3, p808.

[153] R.T. Kendall, ‘How literally do you read your Bible?’ Israel and Christians Today, Summer (2001), p9.


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