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Notes on Daniel: Hermeneutics

By Jay Rogers
Published April 27, 2008

A great difficulty with hermeneutical approaches persists to our day. Is the correct approach to Daniel and Revelation preterist, historicist, futurist or idealist? While most prophecy is forth-telling rather than foretelling, both the Prophets and John’s Revelation speak of things “yet to be.”

What was “yet to be” often had a temporal immediacy. King Nebuchadnezzar saw his Chaldean Empire conquered by the Medio-Persian Empire just as Daniel had prophesied. But other prophecies were fulfilled centuries later. And some biblical prophecies — such as the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, and a new heavens and a new earth — have yet to be fulfilled.

The problem with prophecies is that they can sometimes seem to have several fulfillments. Certainly, some references to Antiochus Epiphanes can be found in Daniel’s prophecy. However, the abomination that causes desolation (Daniel 9) referred to by Jesus in the Mount Olivet Discourse, cannot refer to Antiochus, even though when Daniel is read in isolation from Matthew 24, he fits the description.

These difficulties are only surface problems. Predictive prophecies refer to the blessings, curses and judgments of God. There is a direct cause-effect between God’s promised judgment and the outcome of a prophecy. When Daniel saw the successive overthrow of four kingdoms, this was the direct effect of the persecution of God’s people. The Babylonians, Medio-Persians, Greeks and Romans came under judgment because they usurped the rule of God’s chosen people over the promised land.

When John saw the destruction of the beast, the false prophet and the whore of Babylon, this was the direct result of their persecution of the church. This came to pass when Jerusalem was destroyed and when the Roman Empire came under progressive judgment by God through internal strife in the first century.

We may rightly assume that the Roman Catholic Church was judged for its persecution of dissenters who held to a more correct orthodoxy. We may also assume that the Soviet Union was judged because of its persecution of believers of all stripes. There are historical applications we can make, such as the invasion of Rome by barbarian hordes later on, and futuristic applications, such as the judgment of Gog and Magog at the end of the millennium (Revelation 20).

However, the immediate application of most of the book of Revelation was that the judgment was to happen “soon.” To say that the papacy or the Roman Catholic Church is going to be judged for its persecutions of Christians in the first centuries is anachronistic. It ignores the repeated temporal urgency as well as the historical and literary context of the book of Revelation.

For instance, John was writing when the Temple at Jerusalem was still standing and sacrifices were still being made — according to numerous references in Revelation. If John saw events in a vision that have an immediate first century application, then how can the papacy be interpreted as the Beast or the Whore?

While I agree that God has judged those who persecuted believers throughout history, I do not see a cause-effect relationship between the persecutions of first century Roman Emperors and the Protestant Reformation (at least not in this prophecy).

Since the papacy did not exist in the first century, then how can the Roman Church of the Middle Ages be held responsible for persecutions of Christians in the first century? A futurist or historicist hermeneutic is anachronistic because these events did not coincide in history.


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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

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Why Creeds and Confessions? (Book)

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Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.

Yet a single book containing the actual texts of the most important creeds of the early Church will not often be found. Out of the multitude of works on the evangelical Christian book market today, those dealing with the creeds of the Church are scarce.

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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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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

Special Two-Disc Set!

After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

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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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