Jay Rogers
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The Forerunner

Notes on Daniel: Historicism or Preterism?

By Jay Rogers
Published April 27, 2008

The debate over how to interpret the book of Daniel from the perspective of Reformed theology usually is between historicism and preterism. The futurist view is not unknown among the Reformed, but it is far more rare than in evangelical circles.

What we call the historicist view today was popular among the Reformers, but their fixation on the pope (or the papacy in general) as the “Beast” of Revelation 13 and the “Little Horn” of Daniel 7 was actually a form of futurism at that time. They were looking at events described in Daniel and Revelation to occur in their own day or in the near future. We can only call that view “historicism” today looking backwards in time. From their perspective, looking for the “Beast of Revelation” to come out of Rome in the 1500s is no different than Christians today looking for the Beast to arise out of one of the politicals leaders in the Middle East.

As a matter of fact, postmillennialism as a distinct theology from amillennialism came about 100 years after the Reformation, when the Puritans realized that the papacy was actually gaining ground. They formed the idea of “progressive millennialism.” This was the idea that eventually the papacy would be defeated. This later became known as postmillennialism. The most popular form of this idea was historical postmillennialism, which still included the “Romish papacy” as the Beast and the events of Revelation as being fulfilled over the course of history.

I am a preterist, rather than a historicist or a futurist, because I believe the book of Revelation has to be interpreted in light of passages in Daniel and the Mount Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24). The book of Daniel points to the Roman Empire at the time of Christ, not the medieval Roman Church. Jesus himself points to the fulfillment of the “Fourth Kingdom” prophecy (“the abomination that causes desolation” — Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15) as occurring in the first century.

I know that some historicists like to stretch Daniel’s “Fourth Kingdom” prophecies to include all of history. So do the futurists and dispensationalists.

But if we let Daniel interpret Daniel, I think the only immediate application is the first century.

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).

And in the days of these kings — Simply put, in the days of the Roman Empire. Daniel prophesied that the kingdom of God would be brought to earth by Jesus Christ “in the days of these kings” never to be destroyed. The saints of the kingdom will war against the kingdoms of this world and they will become part of “the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:15).

While I agree that this is a progressive millennial kingdom, I do not see how any of the “kings” of Daniel and Revelation can be thought of as being the papacy or a future world dictator.

Daniel is not a prophecy given to Protestants to describe the time of the Reformation. It is not a prophecy given to Christians today that describes events in our future. It is a prophecy given to the Jews to prove the time of the coming Messiah. The context and purpose of the passage point to a first century fulfillment. Key timing elements of the prophecy as well as the application of specific descriptions of the “little horn” describe Nero Caesar.

The Mount Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation were both given to explain that Daniel’s prophecy is fulfilled in the time of Jesus Christ.

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 200 pages

A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism

Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner

The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.

Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.

Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

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The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

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Watch a clip from Martin Luther.

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God's Law and SocietyGod's Law and Society (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.

Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!

Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:

1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?

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Running Time: 240 minutes

Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.

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