How many false predictions have there been? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
One can’t say exactly how many false predictions there have been of the end, but one can say they have happened consistently. Just today I was on Facebook and saw the same thing going on based on the news of Trump possibly being indicted. Obviously, the Bible did predict such a thing, even though no one saw it at all. I’m sure since I shared my view of Revelation the charges of heresy are going to come forward, as if I care.
At any rate, Ehrman goes to the history of interpretation and how the early church tended to NOT interpret the book literalistically. Papias was even treated as less intelligent for holding this kind of idea by later church fathers. Unfortunately for us, Papias’s writings have been lost and all we have is quotations of various parts from other church fathers.
Hippolytus was one who actually made a prediction for around 500 AD (Ehrman says CE, but I refuse to use that kind of practice). Like others, he was wrong as we all know now. Unfortunately, he was followed by many others.
Augustine was one who scorned the materialistic view and no doubt, was extremely influential. He didn’t want to think of anything carnal of any sort being in Heaven. As much as I am a Preterist, I do fear we could do a danger by picturing things of this Earth as if they were carnal. Now, this doesn’t mean that there will be things like sexual intercourse which usually comes first to mind in Heaven, but it doesn’t mean also that there won’t be anything there that is more materialistic for us to enjoy. It is usually a good idea to avoid extremes.
Ehrman also writes of Joachim of Fiore who believed he was given a vision of how everything would turn out and based his eschatology on Trinitarian stages. Perhaps, this could be a precursor of dispensationalism. He was convinced things would wrap up soon, and again, he was wrong.
As we move through history, when times of tumult and chaos arise, people naturally think, “This is it!” It happened during the French Revolution. In the time of the Reformation, Luther and others held to views about the Pope matching the book of Revelation.
From here, Ehrman moves on premillennialism.
The term “ premillennialism ” requires some explaining . In the eighteenth century , many British and American Protestants had started to move beyond Augustine’s “ historicist ” approach to Revelation , which claimed that most of the events of the book had been fulfilled and that the millennium , Christ’s reign on earth , was happening now . They instead adopted a “ futuristic ” approach , arguing that the book was predicting what was yet to come , and that the millennium could be expected at the end of the age.
Now I do question here what he has in mind by the historicist approach. A Preterist approach like mine would say that Revelation has largely been fulfilled in the first century. A historicist approach I have thought says that Revelation is going to be fulfilled throughout time as a sort of chronological map. To check, I did so some web searches and found that yes, this is the general understanding of historicism. I think I know what Ehrman is getting at, but I wish his language was clearer or perhaps maybe he’s just not aware of the four main schools of interpretation of Revelation as is shown in a commentary like Steve Gregg’s. (I am leaning this way also because of his failure to mention Preterism in his book on Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet.)
After the Reformation, people noticed a lot of progress going on and thought that surely the millennium was upon us. One influential person was John Nelson Darby who is accredited as being the one who came up with the idea of the rapture, that Jesus would actually come twice again and the first time would be to remove the church before the Great Tribulation and let the rest of the world in a sense literally experience Hell on Earth. Darby was highly influential on Scofield who through his study Bible led this to practically becoming a tenet of faith for many Christians.
Now some might be wondering about the failed prophecies. We have only seen a few in this chapter. There will be more next time, a chapter I am holding off on seeing as I have not finished it yet. Hopefully, I will have by next time.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)