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Notes on Daniel: Calvin's View of Daniel Was Preterist

By Jay Rogers
Published July 25, 2019

In general, the Reformers were united in seeing the Antichrist, the Man of Sin, the Whore of Babylon and the Beast as one figure. But they were not historicists, they were futurists in this regard. They were also inconsistent, on the one hand looking for a fulfillment of these prophecies in their day, and in other places sounding like modern day postmillennialists and preterists.


In the Days of These Kings (Book)

Perfect-bound Paperback — 740 pages

The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective

“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).

The overarching message of Daniel is that Jesus the Messiah is even now ruling over the nations. He is the King of kings. Daniel tells us that Messiah’s kingdom will advance in the whole world from “generation to generation” (Daniel 4:4,34). Christ’s dominion is “given to the people of the saints of the most High” (Daniel 7:22). Our purpose then is to see “all people, nations, and languages … serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:14,27).

This comprehensive work offers a fascinating look at the book of Daniel in preterist perspective. Great attention is paid to the writings of ancient and modern historians and scholars to connect the dots and demonstrate the continuity of Daniel’s prophecy with all of Scripture.

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Martin Luther (1483-1546) — “[The Book of Revelation] is intended as a revelation of things that are to happen in the future, and especially of tribulations and disasters for the Church …” (Works of Martin Luther, VI, p. 481).

William Tyndale (1492-1536) — “… Antichrist preacheth not Peter’s doctrine (which is Christ’s gospel) … he compelleth all men with violence of sword” (Greenslade’s The Work of William Tindale, p. 127).

John Calvin (1509-1564) — “… we ought to follow in our inquiries after Antichrist, especially where such pride proceeds to a public desolation of the church” (Institutes, Vol. 2, p. 411).

John Knox (1515-1572) — “… the great love of God towards his Church, whom he pleased to forewarn of dangers to come, so many years before they come to pass … to wit, The man of sin, The Antichrist, The Whore of Babylon” (History of the Reformation, I, p. 76).

Some historicist scholars, such as Francis Nigel Lee, have written that Calvin interpreted Daniel as having a historicist fulfillment. I would simply respond in two ways.

1. What is historicism to us today was futurism in the 16th century. The Reformers who saw the pope and the Roman system of worship as the Antichrist, the Beast and the Whore of Babylon believed they were living at the end of history and were seeing these events as end-times signs. Obviously, they were wrong. To rehabilitate such a fallacy as “historicism” is to miss the forest for the trees.

2. It depends on when Calvin wrote. Calvin’s Commentary on Daniel, which is one of his later works, wholly agrees with a preterist approach.

Why, therefore, does the Prophet say the little horn waged war with the saints? Antiochus certainly made war against the Church, and so did many others; the Egyptians, we know, often broke in and spoiled the Temple and the Romans too, before the monarchy of the Caesars. I reply, this is spoken comparatively, because no war was ever carried on so continuously and professedly against the Church, as those which occurred after the Caesars arose, and after Christ was made manifest to the world; for the devil was then more enraged, and God also relaxed the reins to prove the patience of his people. Lastly, it was natural for the bitterest conflicts to occur when the redemption of the world was carried out; and the event clearly showed this. We know first of all, by horrid examples, how Judea was laid waste, for never was such cruelty practiced against any other people. Nor was the calamity of short duration; we are well acquainted with their extreme obstinacy, which compelled their enemies to forget clemency altogether. For the Romans desired to spare them as far as possible, but so great was their obstinacy and the madness of their rage, that they provoked their enemies as if devoting themselves to destruction, until that dreadful slaughter happened, of which history has sufficiently informed us. When Titus, under the auspices of his father Vespasian, took and destroyed the city, the Jews were stabbed and slaughtered like cattle throughout the whole extent of Asia. Thus far, then, it concerns the Jews.

When God had inserted the body of the Gentiles into his Church, the cruelty of the Caesars embraced all Christians; thus the little horn waged war with the saints in a manner different from that of the former beasts, because the occasion was different, and the wrath of Satan was excited against all God’s children on account of the manifestation of Christ. This, then, is the best explanation of the little horn, waging war against the saints. Thus he says, “It must prevail” [Daniel 7:21]. For the Caesars and all who governed the provinces of the empire raged with such extreme violence against the Church, that it almost disappeared from the face of the earth. And thus it happened, that the little horn prevailed in appearance and in general opinion, as, for a short time, the safety of the Church was almost despaired of (Calvin, Commentary on Daniel 7:21,22).

Obviously, Calvin was a preterist when he dealt with Daniel. To reiterate this point, here is the citation from Calvin’s translators:

Our readers will remember, that as an expositor of prophecy, Calvin is a Preterist, and that his general system of interpretation is as remote from the year-day theory of Birks, Faber [historicist commentators], and others, as from the futurist speculations of Maitland, Tyso, and Todd.

To those who would dismiss preterism without considering it fully, the words of Calvin’s translators aptly apply.

The first step towards progress, is to surrender all our preconceived notions, and to prepare for the possibility of their vanishing away before the force of sanctified reason and all-pervading truth (Calvin, Commentary on Daniel, translator’s preface).

Calvin was wrong in his earlier view of the Antichrist and the Man of Sin having a historicist fulfillment. Where Calvin definitely got it right was his later work on Daniel in which he is solidly preterist.


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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

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A Revival Account: Asbury 1970 (DVD)

What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?

Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.

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Running Time: 40 minutes

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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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Massacre of Innocence (DVD)

Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion

This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.

Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.

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The United States of America 2.0: The Great Reset (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 40 pages of dynamite!

Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification

In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.

By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).

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