Timeout: Revelation and the Crisis of Historicism


Scotmesh, you opine that Christ Himself said there was a blessing to those who read Revelation.

Peter,( plobdel3) makes a very potent and pertinent point:

The book of Revelation was written decades after the cruicifixion,

So how could Christ possibly have advocated the reading of a book not yet written ?

Can you cite chapter and verse for your allegation!

(Steve Mga) #63

perhaps you are confused by SYMANTICS.
For some, the Human Man Jesus was who was born, lived, and died on the cross.
Who it was that arose from the Dead was Christ. who took His powers back, and
is seated on the throne next to His “Father”.
Some see Jesus as Pre-Resurrection.
Some see Christ as Post-Resurrection.
It is “Christ” who is talking to John and the Churches.
However, they are both one and the same person, hence the word – “Jesus Christ”.

(Leandro) #64

Historicism is okay. Just make sure to put these words after the dates: (Subject to change without prior notice from SDA management) for us to avoid embarassment in the future.

(Mikecmanea) #65

Hey Phillip,

I would propose that there is a flaw in the discipline of hermeneutics, as it is currently applied to the Bible. The quickest way I can explain this flaw is with a simple example.

Imagine that we found two ancient books, one fiction and one non-fiction. The fictional document is an out-of-this-world type of story with fantasy characters and alternate realities.

When it comes to the interpretation of the non-fiction work, hermeneuts would apply Gadamer’s hermeneutical spiral trying to build links between ancient and modern cultures in order to determine how to best understand that text.

When it comes to the fictional work, however, because the story depicts an alternate reality, much more important to its interpretation is a hermeneutical circle within the work itself: how to understand events from within the fictional paradigm concocted by the author. The more imaginary the story, the less dependent it is on actual reality, as viewed by the author’s own culture, and the more the hermeneutical spiral should be shifted from that external culture to the book’s internal make-belief reality.

If I am correct regarding the above, that a different methodology should be applied to non-fiction vs. fiction, then I propose that the Bible should be interpreted using the latter methodology rather than the former.

Not because the Bible is fiction, but because it stands a priory to ANY view of reality, ancient or modern. The Bible is intended to DEFINE reality and must therefore be taken as detached from any context and allowed to develop its own context just like someone would do with a fictional work.


Mike, the bloodbath that is Christian history stands as witness to how dangerous that idea is.


How can this be? The Scriptures unfolded in the context of history, culture, and the evolvement of law, ethics, the arts. It is not a fictional work. Some of the best works of fiction are because of their historical context. For example, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

(Scott M Esh) #68

Your example is rather flawed. Revelation describes the verse in symbols, whereas Ellen White wrote about the same verses, but she wrote her writings with the symbols already decoded. For example, a Revelation 12 tells us about a dragon while Ellen White tells us that the dragon is Satan. Both are right, but her writings plainly state what the symbols represent. There is no conflict there.

(Phillip Brantley) #69

I will respond to your nice comment over the weekend.

(Scott M Esh) #70

Hi Frank,

I still disagree with you, but at least you’re passionate about what you believe.

How do you explain Hebrews 11:39-40?

According to what you believe, a person has to believe in order to be saved, but if that is true, how do you explain I Timothy 4:10? “God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially those that believe”. The Bible is very clear that God saved everyone whether or not they believed, and then specially saved those who believe. Two different salvations, not just one.

(Scott M Esh) #71

FFSo you don’t believe in the resurrection?

Revelation 1:9 tells us that John was on the isle of Patmos. Revelation 1:10-11 tell us that he was told to write what Christ showed him. We know it was Christ because Revelation 1:1 says that it came from God, and Revelation 1:2 tells us that it was Christ. Revelation 1:3 tells us that there is a blessing for those who read the book of Revelation. Notice that the end of verse 3 it says that “the time is at hand”. This means that the blessing was not for those in Christ’s time of ministry, but the blessing was for those who were alive when John was at Patmos, and forward (later than Patmos) in time. Revelation 1 clearly answers all of your questions, so I think everything is very clear. So if you don’t think that it is possible for Christ to appear after his resurrection and give messages, then you don’t believe the Bible. Either the Bible is the final authority, or it isn’t. You decide.


Question is, if “ the Bible “ , the current canon of Scripture, chosen by a cabal / clique / coterie of aging Catholic monks, is a legitimate choice of what should have been included !

IMHO some of Paul’s vehemently misogynistic remarks, plus his vociferous endorsement of slavery ( both of which have resulted in MISERY for millions of abused wives and millions of slaves, in the ensuing two millennia ) should have been included in the canon! Some ugly things are better left out !

These unfortunate scriptures are now causing much dissension and bitterness in our own denomination ( WO ) — definitely not a fortuitous end result.

Likewise, Revelation with its enigmatic, esoteric encryptions, its arcane abstract analogies on which not even two Adventists totally agree as to the meaning of, is a debatable addition to “the Bible “.


I may agree with or appreciate your intention, but there are those for which this is permission to indeed reject historicism outright. We are a worldwide church and things which are an encouragement to some may be a stumbling block to others. Caution is advised in the way we articulate things.


yes indeed. Adventists will change. As history unfolds and people actually LEARN history. It does not make people bad if they were wrong 150 years ago…and it’s not heresy to say so. https://the-undercover-adventist.blogspot.com/2016/10/adventists-broken-record-of-same-old.html



Practically from the start of the book, we realize that the text of Revelation utilizes a symbolic language: Jesus having a sword in his mouth, holding 7 stars in his hand, 7 candlesticks, 7 Spirits, Babylon, Jezebel, and later on, we see a scroll that it is eaten, a lamb that was slain, a dragon, a pure woman, a harlot, some beasts, etc.

Now, it is possible that the book was intended for the seven churches that was mentioned in the first chapters of the book but, if it is the case ,we have to wonder why it was done that way. After all, in the New Testament, when a letter was intended for a literal church, the message was delivered in plain language (see the letters of Paul, Peter, and John, for example). Why, all of the sudden, a book supposedly for seven literal churches, a revelation of Jesus Christ on top of that, written in a cryptic language?

Also, when we consider the message concerning some churches, we see that it is highly symbolic. For example, the letter of Thyatira mentions Jezebel. Unless there was another Jezebel that led God’s people to idolatry, it is more probable that this is a reference to the Jezebel of the Old Testament and if it is the case, then Jesus is not really addressing the church of Thyatira (since Jezebel was already long dead and could not be in Thyatira) but rather using the church of Thyatira as a symbol.

Also, the book of Revelation is about events pertaining to the end of the world and involving the entire church and even the whole world. So it makes more sense that the seven churches represent God’s people along the centuries and not just seven literal churches.

How do you know the intent of the author for sure? Like we all know, the text is using a lot of symbols and images and has puzzled countless of people along the centuries.

If you think that the interpretation of the SDA church is faulty, what makes you think that you are more equipped to find the meaning of the book?

Now, what is sure is that there are still some holes in our understanding of Revelation which shows that we have to put our heads together to try to finally understand the message that Christ has for his church. After all, this is a revelation of Jesus for his church.

(Steve Mga) #76

Robin –
For OVER 1700 to 1800 years the position of women in the world as described in the
New Testament was the Considered Opinions of Society. Even in England, when a
Father died, NONE of the Estate went to any daughter except perhaps some small
yearly gift by the Eldest Son to his sisters.
Only in Recent History has the position of Women been elevated. And ONLY in
Western Society at that. Colonialism lagged far behind the times, AND STILL DOES.
Look at the views of the world regarding Blacks of Africa, or of anyone NOT of their
country. They were seen as FAIR GAME to be slaves. Look how the British and Americans
treated Slaves, both at home and in the Colonies. The words of Paul – that Christian
Slaves were part of the Church – was not followed. Nor were slaves pretty much allowed to
hear the Good News of the Gospel.
Even in our SDA church, women are still seen as 2nd Class Citizens of Heaven and unworthy
to receive some of the Gifts of the Spirit as listed in 1 Corinthians 12:28.
And THIS is 2019.

(Frankmer7) #77

It’s not just possible, it simply was intended for them. Rev. 1:4:

John, to the seven churches in Asia…

John says explicitly to whom he addressed the book. He meant what he said. It was read to them aloud in their assemblies. Rev. 1:3: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it…”

John also quotes Jesus in 1:11, telling him to send what he had written to the seven churches, naming the actual cities/towns where they were. They were literal churches in literal cities. To deny this is to simply ignore what the text explicitly says. To impose an historicist framework and reading onto the text, as seven ages of church history, is simply that…imposing something alien to the text, and clear authorial intention, onto the text. It’s eisegesis, plain and simple! This is basically what historicism is, a game that keeps moving the goalposts and imposing alien meaning onto the text, because it is a later interpretive system that was often used polemically to make the text fit its intended goals.

Yes, John used apocalyptic imagery and symbols. So what? It doesn’t mean the churches themselves were symbolic.

The message speaks of the nearness of Jesus’s return. The early Christians lived with the idea that Jesus’s return was immanent…in the first century. It is why John could write in his first letter, “Little children, now it is the last hour…” 1 John 2:18

He wasn’t referring to the last hour as the distant future. He was saying that it was right then and there. Thus, Revelation was a judgement hour message through John intended for Christians in the seven churches in that time and place. It fit their expectations. We would do well to ascertain what the message meant for them in their historical context, and then apply its meaning(s) to ourselves today, rather than imposing meaning on its contents about seven ages of church history, the papacy, the Untied States, Adventism as Laodicea, and a woman in New England as the identified Spirit of Prophecy.

It does violence to the text and the meaning of Revelation.



(Scott M Esh) #78

The fact that the Bible tells us that teachers exist does not change the facts.
Perhaps you should read your Bible a little more often.

II Peter 1:20 tells us that:

“no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation”. This means that prophecy is for everyone to study.

II Timothy 2:15 tells us that that we all personally are to:

“study to shew thyself approved unto God… rightly dividing the word of truth”. Here God specifically tells us to to study for ourselves.

Acts 17:11 tells us that:

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, Whether those things were so”. So here we see that AFTER being taught by the teachers, they studied the Bible for themselves to see if the teachers were telling the truth. This personal study was done on a daily basis.

Psalms 119:99 tells us that:

“I have more understanding than all my teachers; for thy testimonies are my meditation”. Here we see God telling us that if we personally study His word, we will know more than our teachers.

There are many more verses on the subject, but the Bible is very clear that we can, should and need to study the Bible daily for ourselves. It also tells us to study for ourselves what the teachers tell us, and that we will know more than the teachers if we study the Bible every day

Having others study for us is what the Catholic Church promotes, but as Protestant we believe that we are to study for ourselves.

(Scott M Esh) #79

When studying the Bible ALL methods of Bible study in which we guess what the Bible means are ALL wrong ways to study it. There is only one way that God tells us how to study the Bible properly, and that is to let one Bible text interpret the other texts. Any human additions to the text are faulty and should be discarded.


Not exactly. Consider: List of peerages inherited by women

In the peerages of the British Isles, most titles have traditionally been created for men and with remainder to male heirs. However, some titles are created with special remainders to allow women to inherit them. Some of the oldest English baronies were created by writ and pass to female heirs when a peer dies with daughters and no sons, while some titles are created with a man’s family in mind, if he is without sons and unlikely to produce any.


Yes, this teacher is called the Holy Spirit.