There are three main schools of thought with different classes in each school. The main schools of thought are:
We have studied each of these views and found them to have huge errors.
This view is which the Anti-Christ is the Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church, and the book of Revelation has been going on for the last 2000 years. This was the view many of the Reformers held up until the late 1800’s
Francisco Ribera (1537-1591) was a Jesuit doctor of theology, born in Spain, who began writing a lengthy (500 page) commentary in 1585 on the book of Revelation (Apocalypse) titled In Sacrum Beati Ioannis Apostoli, & Evangelistiae Apocalypsin Commentarij, and published it about the year 1590. He died in 1591 at the age of fifty-four, so he was not able to expand on his work or write any other commentaries. In order to remove the Catholic Church from consideration as the antichrist power, Ribera proposed that the first few chapters of the Apocalypse applied to ancient pagan Rome, and the rest he limited to a yet future period of 3 1/2 literal years, immediately prior to the second coming. During that time, the Roman Catholic Church would have fallen away from the pope into apostasy. Then, he proposed, the antichrist, a single individual, would:
- Persecute and blaspheme the saints of God.
- Rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.
- Abolish the Christian religion.
- Deny Jesus Christ.
- Be received by the Jews.
- Pretend to be God.
- Kill the two witnesses of God.
- Conquer the world.
So, according to Ribera, the 1260 days and 42 months and 3 1/2 times of prophecy were not 1260 years, but a literal 3 1/2 years, and therefore none of the book of Revelation had any application to the middle ages or the papacy, but to the future, to a period immediately prior to the second coming, hence the name Futurism.
Manuel De Lacunza (1731–1801), a Jesuit from Chile, wrote a manuscript in Spanish titled La Venida del Mesías en Gloria y Magestad ("The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty"), under the pen name of Juan Josafa [Rabbi] Ben-Ezra about 1791. Lacunza wrote under an assumed name to obscure the fact that he was a Catholic, in order to give his book better acceptance in Protestantism. Also an advocate of Futurism, Lacunza’s manuscript was published in London, Spain, Mexico and Paris between 1811 and 1826.
Edward Irving (1792-1834), a Scottish Presbyterian and forerunner of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, translated Lacunza’s work from Spanish into English in a book titled Preliminary Discourse to the Work of Ben Ezra – Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty, published in London in 1827 by L.B. Seeley & Sons, which included Irving’s own 200+ page preface.
Margaret McDonald, a 15 year old Scottish girl, and member of Edward Irving’s congregation, had visions in early 1830 that included a Secret Rapture of believers before the appearance of the Antichrist. She informed Irving of her visions by letter. Irving then attended the prophecy conferences that began in Dublin Ireland in 1830 at Powerscourt Castle, where he promoted both Futurism and a Secret Rapture.
Samuel Roffey Maitland (1792-1866), scholar and librarian to the Archbishop of Canterbury, further promoted and established Futurism in England after 1826, as a result of reading the work of Manuel De Lacunza.
John Nelson Darby (1800–1882), a Church of Ireland clergyman, later with the Plymouth Brethren, also promoted Futurism and a secret rapture. Darby attended the series of meetings on Bible Prophecy that began in 1830 at Powerscourt, Ireland, and at these conferences Darby apparently learned about the secret rapture as revealed by vision to Margaret McDonald, and promoted by Edward Irving, and he soon visited Margaret MacDonald at her home in Port Glasgow, Scotland. Darby later visited America several times between 1859 and 1874, where his Futurist theology was readily accepted.
Cyrus Ingerson Scofield (1843-1921), greatly influenced by the writings of J. N. Darby, incorporated Futurism in the notes of his Scofield Reference Bible. First published by Oxford University Press in 1909, one million copies were printed by 1930. The Scofield Bible was instrumental in firmly establishing the Futurist interpretation in the Protestant Bible schools of the United States in the 20th century.
Dallas Theological Seminary (a nondenominational Protestant school): Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952), a student of Cyrus Scofield, founded Evangelical Theological College (now DTS) in 1924, which is likely the most influential seminary in the United States today. Futurism, and the secret rapture (which they call the blessed hope), are covered in articles 18-20 of the DTS Full Doctrinal Statement.
Some of the more well known alumni and faculty of DTS:
John Walvoord (Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, President of Dallas Theological Seminary from 1952 to 1986, Chancellor of DTS since 1986), author of The Rapture Question (1957), and member of the revision committee for The New Scofield Reference Bible.
Chuck Swindoll (Insight for Living), President of Dallas Theological Seminary since July of 1994.
Charles C. Ryrie (Professor Emeritus Dallas Theological Seminary), author of The Ryrie Study Bible, which has been characterized as the updated Scofield Reference Bible for the end of the twentieth century.
Hal Lindsey, (hallindsey.com – hallindseyoracle.com) author of The Rapture: Truth or Consequences (1983), perhaps the best known prophecy author of the last 30 years. Sole credited Bible authority for Trinity Broadcasting’s recent Futurist antichrist movie Omega Code. A sequel, tentatively titled Meggido (Omega Code II) is now in production by TBN and is due for release in the fall of 2001.
J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988), Through the Bible Radio series.
Kenneth N. Taylor (former director of Moody Press, founder of Tyndale House Publishing), author of The Living Bible. Tyndale House publishes the hugely popular Left Behind Futurist series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.
Thomas Ice (Executive Director of the Pre-trib Research Center), Th.M. from DTS, co-founder of Pre-trib Research Center with Tim LaHaye. The Thomas Ice collection.
Renald Showers, Most High God: A Commentary on the Book of Daniel.
Moody Bible Institute of Chicago: In 1890, C. I. Scofield began a Comprehensive Bible Correspondence Course, later taken over about 1914 by the Moody Bible Institute (Dwight. L. Moody, founder of the Moody Church, had converted Scofield, and Scofield preached and presided at Moody’s funeral in 1899).
Moody Press supplied Sunday School lessons to the Assembly of God churches about 1914, introducing Pentecostals to Futurism and the secret rapture theory.
The Ryrie Study Bible, by Charles C. Ryrie, a graduate Dallas Theological Seminary, boasts 10,000+ study notes and is listed among the best selling books published by Moody Press.
Jerry B. Jenkins, co-author of the Left Behind series, is the former vice president for publishing of Moody Bible Institute, and former editor of Moody Magazine. Currently he is Moody Bible Institute’s writer-at-large.
Western Theological Seminary (Reformed Church in America).
Alma Mater of Tim LaHaye, founder of the Pre-trib Research Center, co-author of the Left Behind series of books, by far the most popular series promoting Futurism and the secret rapture, which has sold 20+ million copies. Published by Tyndale House, at least 12 titles are planned for the series. The film version of the first book in the series has been produced by prophecy authors Peter and Paul Lalonde of Cloud Ten Pictures:
Left Behind – The Film Project
Left Behind – The Movie
Released first on video cassette, and then in theaters in early 2001, people who have seen Left Behind say it is confusing, and lacks a Gospel presentation of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, making it of little (if any) evangelistic value, much like TBN’s Omega Code.
Tim LaHaye says he was impressed by the prophecy conferences of Albury Park and Powerscourt held in Britain in the 1820’s and 1830’s and this led directly to his co-founding the Pre-trib Research Center. Edward Irving and J. N. Darby attended, and apparently greatly influenced, these 19th century British prophecy conferences where the secret rapture and futurism gained in acceptance among Protestant prophecy scholars.
Another counter-interpretation to the Historicism held by Protestantism was proposed by the Spanish Jesuit Luis De Alcazar (1554-1613), who also wrote a commentary called Investigation of the Hidden Sense of the Apocalypse, which ran to some 900 pages. In it he proposed that it all of Revelation applied to the era of pagan Rome and the first six centuries of Christianity. According to Alcazar (or Alcasar):
- Revelation chapters 1-11 describes the rejection of the Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.
- Revelation chapters 12 – 19 were the overthrow of Roman paganism (the great harlot) and the conversion of the empire to the church.
- Revelation 20 describe the final persecutions by Antichrist, who is identified as Cæsar Nero (54-68 A.D.), and judgment.
- Revelation 21 -22 describe the triumph of the New Jerusalem, the Roman Catholic Church.
Preterism is slowly gaining ground in Christian circles with some known Christian leaders pushing the movement like Hank Hangegraaff, The Bible Answer Man.