Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 1 decade ago

Why does it seem that so many Bible literalists don't read the Bible literally when it comes to the end times

Warning: this is a long question that may require you to think. If you don't like that go to P&S.

Bible literalists/ fundamentalists (I realize not all believe this way, but I had to narrow it down somehow) usually read the Bible literally, and pride themselves in this. They tend to be young earth creationists from reading the Genesis account literally and live their lives according to a strict moral standard they see outlined in the Bible. But they also seem to be (once again not always) more of the premillenial dispensational mindset about the end times. They take on those particular views of the rapture, anti-christ, and tribulation.

This is where I get confused. A lot of the theology about the antichrist is drawn from Daniel which does not lay it out literally. Ideas from the rapture also seem to rely heavily on interpretation of scripture, not a literal reading. And I can't see how Revelation can be read literally to back up a premillenial dispensationism view of eschatology


I'm not trying to attack premillenial dispensationalism. I'm just wondering how it lines up with a literal reading of scripture. Are the two mutually exclusive? What does it seem so many Bible literalists take that viewpoint, which seems to largely be a product of 19th century theology and not a literal interpretation of the Bible?

26 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I sincerely commend you for your understanding of the various theological issues that pre-millenial dispensationalists (of which I am one) believe. However, I think you (and many of my fellow Christians) are confused regarding the matter of "literal" interpretation of the Scriptures. As you have pointed out, it isn't possible for ALL Scripture to be understood literally, since the visions of Daniel are clearly symbolic. That's why the reader must always approach a particular piece of Scripture having FIRST determined HOW it should be understood. The general rule of thumb is this: if the plain meaning of the text makes sense, this is the way it should be understood (for example, Christ's return at Revelation 19); on the other hand, if the text is clearly symbolic, literal interpretation is impossible (for example, Revelation 13). However, the Bible is also its own interpreter, since the symbolism of Revelation can be understood if the reader is educated in Old Testament typology, symbolism, etc.

    Using this method, premillenialists view Revelation Chapters 2 - 3 as being representative of the overall history of the "Church Age," (i.e. the Dispensation of Grace) the end of the Age being found at Rev. 3:14-22. We believe we are currently in that Age. Immediately afterward, the Rapture is depicted at Rev. 4:1; the 24 Elders of Rev. 4 are representative of the Church (cf. 1 Chron. 24, where David divides the Priests into 24 divisions, which represented the entire Priesthood when serving in the Temple). So while there were literally 24 people in the Temple during John's vision, even King David tells us these 24 priests represent the greater whole (i.e. the entire body of believers). Since Christ's Kingdom is set up after His return at Rev. 19, premillenialism (and dispensationalism) are fully supported by Revelation.

  • 1 decade ago

    From my observation, it would seem that a great many so called fundamentalists, even most pulpit preachers, merchandise the sheep, flock, congragation. They put on a cover but not of His spirit, that they may add sin to sin.

    There are false teachers today, just as there were false teachers during Christs time. We are to try the spirits to see if they are of God, to not be lead astray, by their cunning craftyness where they lie in wait to deceive.

    Most do not even open their Bibles and study daily to rightly divide the Word of Truth. The seperation of church and state, is biblical. In essence what has been done, is that by receiving a tax exemption status, they are worshiping mammon and not God. If the church corporation does not take the 501(c)3 mark, they will be dissolved. Thus they have turned the Truth in fables. No longer do they have savor from the salt, and are good for nothing execpet to be trampled under by the foot of men.

    Source(s): rememberance
  • 1 decade ago

    When I first received the Lord, the pastor I had taught midmillenial (Christians remain three and a half years through tribulation and then are raptured). He said he wasn't sure (which I apreciate it when a leader can admit he doesn't know everything), but that he leaned that way and regardless of how it goes, we should try to live as Christ did. That's been many years ago, and as I grew spiritually, this was a question I was overly concerned with until one day the Holy Spirit settled it for me. I don't believe Christians will go through any of the tribulation (premillenial). God settle that for me personally through studying the scriptures.

    I can tell you this about Daniel. Remember that he was a prophet to the Jews. Primarilly, the Jews as a nation will go through the tribulation (except those who have received Jesus Christ as their Messiah/Savior--and there are a lot who haved). When you read Revelation, John is speaking to first century Christians, some gentile, some Jews. It's from the perspective of those saved through Christ. Jesus, himself, spoke of the rapture and the last days. You have to take it all into account to get the full picture, but it is all literal. When you read scripture, a part of knowing what's being revealed, is to know who's writing it, who's saying it, the times, the culture, and who's being addressed. After that it takes the Holy Spirit to reveal hidden truths. The scriptures on any subject are a wonderful mystery that is revealed to the serious seeker by the Holy Spirit. If you don't find the answer to a question today, continue to search and ask, and He will answer when the time is right for you to understand. I can testify to this personally. I can't convince you one way or another, because some of the greatest theologians disagree on the issue, but I am persuaded personally that the rapture takes place before tribulation......and if not, it's o.k. because God the Father of Creation will be with me to guide me through. So, whatever I believe about what really will happen doesn't matter so much as Who I believe will be with me. I trust God to provide for and protect me as long as I choose to worship and obey Him. His love is above human love and the fact that He loves me is my comfort and or out of tribulations.

    Good question. I'm anxious to hear from the Christians. God bless you.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I'm sorry but your question confuses me. I think you are asking why do people think that the rapture will occur before the tribulation period. If that is the case, i can not see where anyone has made an attempt to answer that question, if not I apologize in advance. My reasoning behind a pre trib, rapture is this, In every instance of mass destruction from God, God made a way for his people to escape. You have Noah, you have Lot, even though his wife turned back. Time and time again, God sent the prophets to warn those about the destrution of Jerusalem, of course they would not listen. I do not think that God will let his 'body' the church go through the comeing hell.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Excellent question, Rachel, and several people have given you good answers. I really think, however, that only someone who actually believes that way can explain to you "why" they believe that way ... and, sadly, most of them either cannot explain it, or they'll just get offended that you would even ask.

    I highly recommend this book: "The Rapture Exposed -- The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation" by Dr. Barbara Rossing, a Lutheran seminary professor.

    This is the best book I have ever read about rapture / end times theology.


  • 1 decade ago

    A lot of the stuff in Daniel is not about "end times" as Christians like to claim. The problem is, most know little to nothing about the Intertestamental Period, largely because the Protestants threw out about a dozen books from the Bible and called them the Apocrypha (they are still found in the Catholic Bible). Daniel's prophecies were fulfilled during the Maccabean Era (discussed in I Maccabees in the "Apocrypha"), they aren't about now.

    They claim that Israel is a nation is mentioned in Daniel, well this happened when the Maccabees revolved against Judas Iscariot. The Jews celebrate this (indirectly) with the holiday of Hanukkah.

    Revelation is not an end times book, either. Revelation was a "keep up the hope" book for Christians being persecuted under the Roman Empire ("666" is the Hebrew numerological value for the name "Nero Caesar", the biggest persecutor of Christians at the time).

    A lot of Christians don't like to hear this stuff, though. They like the fascination with the future like a lot of people do. As for your ultimate question (why figurative and not literal); the vast majority of them listen to what their preachers say instead of thinking for themselves.

    Source(s): BA in Religious Studies The Oxford Annotated Bible
  • 1 decade ago

    Because many interpret the Bible from the "American Way" or what they want to happen or what people will pay to hear. They explain away all other scriptures. For instance, Jesus said in John 6:39 & 40 that He would raise up him who believes on the last day. But a preacher told me he believes in the rapture because he didn't want to go through it and therefore interprets it as the last days. You mentioned the anti-christ, I look for the 2 prophets in Revelation 11. They come just before the anti-christ and tell things straight from God. Of course the whole world hates them.

  • 1 decade ago

    Some part of the Bible actually have a literal interpretation and some philosophical, some parabolical.

    It's how they fashion themselves to their interpretations. These are the reasons why churches sprung up maybe every day new group are forming, new churches are rising.

    Certainly, if not authorized by Christ to build or rebuild His church isn't it against His will and therefore an anti Christ?

    Put my question to a test.

  • 1 decade ago

    Unfortuantely, certain Christians are preoccupied with all kinds of legalistic and logical, symbolism and deductions and calculations and fortune telling and prophesy foretelling about when the world will end.

    Endless bible books for sale spin off from this and it is a multi-million dollar business. They are the money changers of today.

    And if you look at every single one of the end times sects from the JWs to Pentecostals to Southern Baptists and review their interpretation of scripture to match current events, you will see a mass of contradictions and ill applications. They change the definition of various symbology to suit whatever is the current world event.

    Basically, the end time doctrine is really done to motivate people to stay in the church. By creating a threat of disaster and impending doom, you keep people motivated. This is especially important as the hell and heaven doctrines are becoming less persuasive.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    We all reap the benefits of living in modern times with longer, healthier lives, more prosperity, education, etc.

    The prospect of having to live through the end of times and being forced to endure them like everyone else, is a very intimidating idea.

    The idea of escaping before the end times via rapture is similar to the idea that children who die young and pets go to heaven:

    They think that because their god is a "just" god that he is "nice" god, too.

    It is like the Wizard Oz. If he is a "just" god and will give me redemption, then surely he will give you back "Fluffy" and him back "Jr" otherwise it would not be heaven, right?

    ♫ Ooooh,

    We're off to go to heaven,

    Where everything is good and nice...♫

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