Historicism, Futurism and Preterism
With the arrival of the printing press in the 15th century and the resulting explosion of Bibles accessible in the common language from Protestant sources, it became readily apparent to those who could now study the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation in particular, that Bible prophecy identified by symbols a persecuting apostate entity generally known as antichrist. If we list characteristics of antichrist, the following becomes readily apparent.
1.) It will rise to be a great power after the fall of the pagan Roman Empire (after 476 A.D.). See table next page.
2.) It will be a geographically small nation (a little horn).
3.) It would uproot three of the ten kingdoms the Roman Empire collapsed into.
4.) It will rule over many people, nations, and tongues (it will be universal).
5.) It will be headquartered in the city of seven hills, Rome.
6.) It will be a religio-political entity - a political city-state ruled by a priest-king.
7.) Its priest-king will make great and blasphemous claims.
8.) It will claim authority over all kings.
9.) It will claim its power to change the holy times and laws of God as its mark of authority.
10.) It will be an apostate church that makes the nations drink her cup of apostate doctrine.
11.) It will be a “mother” church, with apostate daughters coming from her.
12.) It will be a persecuting power, killing the faithful saints of Jesus Christ as heretics.
13.) It will hold power and authority for 1260 years following the fall of pagan Rome.
14.) It will suffer a deadly wound that will end 1260 years of dominance and persecution.
15.) It will be revived after the deadly wound, and all the world would wonder at its revival.
In this the “Historical” interpretation, the antichrist was clearly not merely a single individual, it was a system of apostasy and persecution that would hold control for over twelve centuries. The inevitable conclusion of those who studied these prophecies in scripture, before and during the Protestant Reformation, was that there was only one entity that fit all the above characteristics: the papal dynasty of the Roman Catholic Church. Is it any wonder that the Catholic Church was so violently opposed to the scriptures being available for everyone to read for themselves? There was such a stir created during the reformation that the Fifth Lateran Council (1512-17 A.D.) resorted to strictly forbidding anyone to publish a book without prior censorship, and also prohibited anyone from preaching on the subject of antichrist. The intent of both Futurism and Preterism was to be diversionary, to counter or offset the Protestant Historical interpretation, and present alternatives, no matter how implausible they might be.
The result is evident from the previous chart, which illustrates the three schools of interpretation regarding antichrist. Ribera's futurism puts the antichrist into a future three and one-half literal years. Alcazar's preterism identifies the antichrist as Nero. Both of them put antichrist outside the Middle Ages and the reformation period, identified by Protestant Historicists as antichrist's reign of 1260 prophetic years.
Now the truly amazing part of all this is that the Futurist theory dominates Protestant teaching today. About all you hear or read about today is the yet to appear antichrist, who will be unveiled in the last 3 1/2 years of Daniel's 70th week, when he declares himself to be God in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. That scenario, as you can now see, is directly traceable back to the pen of the Jesuit Francisco Ribera who manufactured this theory for the sole purpose of diverting attention from the papacy. Note what one Protestant writer had to say over one hundred years ago:
“Accordingly, towards the close of the century of the Reformation, two of her most learned doctors set themselves to the task, each endeavouring by different means to accomplish the same end, namely, that of diverting men's minds from perceiving the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Antichrist in the Papal system. The Jesuit Alcasar devoted himself to bring into prominence the Preterist method of interpretation, which we have already briefly noticed, and thus endeavouring to show that the prophecies of Antichrist were fulfilled before the Popes ever ruled in Rome, and therefore could not apply to the Papacy. On the other hand the Jesuit Ribera tried to set aside the application of these prophecies to the Papal Power by bringing out the Futurist system, which asserts that these prophecies refer properly not to the career of the Papacy, but to that of some future supernatural individual, who is yet to appear, and to continue in power for three and a half years. Thus, as Alford says, the Jesuit Ribera, about A.D. 1580, may be regarded as the Founder of the Futurist system in modern times.”
“It is a matter for deep regret that those who hold and advocate the Futurist system at the present day, Protestants as they are for the most part, are thus really playing into the hands of Rome, and helping to screen the Papacy from detection as the Antichrist. It has been well said that 'Futurism tends to obliterate the brand put by the Holy Spirit upon Popery.' More especially is this to be deplored at a time when the Papal Antichrist seems to be making an expiring effort to regain his former hold on men's minds.” From Daniel and the Revelation: The Chart of Prophecy and Our Place In It, A Study of the Historical and Futurist Interpretation, by Joseph Tanner, published in London by Hodder and Stoughton, 1898, pages 16,17.
In what could only be described as a stunning reversal, Protestants have over time actually become the papacy's greatest ally by spreading its Jesuit spawned propaganda. What irony that Protestants, who originally broke away from what they clearly recognized to be the harlot antichrist led church of prophecy, now champion the Futurist interpretation from high profile ministries. Futurism has without doubt, been successful beyond the wildest dreams of its Jesuit authors. The same applies to the Preterist interpretation of Luis De Alcazar, although to a lesser degree. See “Bible prophecy tables and Antichrist time charts” and Futurist and Futurism Bible Prophecy, Preterist and Preterism Bible Prophecy and Historicist and Historicism Bible Prophecy.