Roman Catholic Origin Of Both Futurism & Preterism


In my Ron Wyatt, Honest?, Or Deceitful Fraud #3, I presented the historical interpretation of the “mark of the beast” at Rev. 13:18, and there were a few who objected, implying that it had to be something in the future! Biblical prophecy is based on a day equaling a year. A time = 360 years; a month = 30 years; and a day = one year. So if the “beast” is going to reign “forty and two months” at Rev. 13:5, that would amount to (30x42), or 1260 years. Therefore, if the tribulation were to last seven years, starting at 2010, that would take us to the year 3270 A.D., not seven calendar years!

For some background on this subject, in 1887, Dr. H. Grattan Guinness, DD., F.R.A.S., English scholar, preacher, lecturer and writer, wrote a work entitled Romanism and the Reformation From the Standpoint of Prophecy. This book was republished in 1967, and within its pages he dedicated three chapters to pre-Reformation historical interpretation. Before the Reformation there was no other viewpoint. To impress this upon the minds of his readers, he quoted from scores of writers, historians and preachers who subjected prophecy to historical analysis for its interpretation. Portions from his works bear repeating for this study. The following excerpt is a quotation from Lecture 5, pages 112-113, as appeared in Old Fashioned Prophecy Magazine, Blackwood, New Jersey, [hereinafter “G’sR&R”]:

With many varieties as to detail we find there have existed, and still exist, two great opposite schools of interpretation, the Papal and the Protestant, or the futurist and the historical. The latter regards the prophecies of Daniel, Paul, and John as fully and faithfully setting forth the entire course of Christian history; the former as dealing chiefly with a future fragment of time at its close.”

Then G’sR&R, on page 114: “It is held by many that the historic school of interpretation is represented only by a small modern section of the Church. We shall show that it has existed from the beginning, and includes the larger part of the greatest and best teachers of the Church for 1,800 years. We shall show that the Fathers of the Church belonged to it; that the most learned mediaeval commentators belonged to it, that the confessors, reformers, and martyrs belonged to it, and that it has included a vast multitude of erudite expositors of later times. We shall show that all these have held to the central truth that prophecy faithfully mirrors the Church’s history as a whole, and not merely a commencing or closing fragment of that history ...”

Then, alluding to the pre-Reformation interpreters, Dr. Guinness in G’sR&R, states the following on pages 123-124 in his book:

It should be noted that none of the Fathers held the futurist gap theory, the theory that the book of Revelation overleaps nearly eighteen centuries of Christian history, plunging at once into the distant future, and devoting itself entirely to predicting the events of the last few years of this dispensation. As to the subject of antichrist, there was a universal agreement among them concerning the general idea of the prophecy, while there were differences as to details, these differences arising chiefly from the notion that the antichrist would be in some way Jewish as well as Roman. It is true they thought that the antichrist would be an individual man. Their early position sufficiently accounts for this. They had no conception and could have no conception of the true nature and length of the tremendous apostasy which was to set in upon the Christian Church. They were not prophets, and could not foresee that the Church was to remain nineteen centuries in the wilderness, and to pass through prolonged and bitter persecution under a succession of nominally Christian but apostate rulers, filling the place of the ancient Caesars and emulating their antichristian deeds.”

The Papal Origin of Futurism:

Next, we must investigate why, how and when Futurism wormed itself into post-Reformation church doctrine! It should be of specific interest when this kind of interpretation of prophecy entered nearly all the schools of prophetic interpretation. In his various writings, Dr. Guinness opens our eyes to this revealing portion of history, G’sR&R, p. 114:

We shall show that the futurist school of interpretation, on the contrary, is chiefly represented by teachers belonging to the Church of Rome; that the popes, cardinals, bishops, and priests of that apostate Church are all futurists, and that the futurist interpretation is one of the chief pillars of Romanism.”

At G’sR&R, p. 113, it is stated: “The former, or futurist, system of interpreting the prophecies is now held, strange to say, by many Protestants, but it was first invented by the Jesuit Ribera, at the end of the sixteenth century, to relieve the Papacy from the terrible stigma cast upon it by the Protestant interpretation. This interpretation was so evidently the true and the intended one, that the adherents of the Papacy felt its edge must, at any cost, be turned or blunted. If the Papacy were the predicted antichrist, as Protestants asserted, there was an end of the question, and separation from it became an imperative duty.”

Next from G’sR&R, pp. 164-165: “First, note the fact that Rome’s reply to the Reformation in the 16th century included an answer to the prophetic teachings of the Reformers. Through the Jesuits Ribera and Bellarmine, Rome put forth her futurist interpretation of prophecy. Ribera was a Jesuit priest of Salamanca. In 1585 he published a commentary on the Apocalypse, denying the application of the prophecies concerning antichrist to the existing Church of Rome. He was followed by Cardinal Bellarmine, a nephew of Pope Marcellus II, who was born in Tuscany in 1542, and died in Rome in 1621. Bellarmine was not only a man of great learning, but ‘the most powerful controversialist in defence of Popery that the Roman Church ever produced.’ Clement VIII used these remarkable words on his nomination: ‘We choose him, because the Church of God does not possess his equal in learning.’ Bellarmine, like Ribera, advocated the futurist interpretation of prophecy. He taught that antichrist would be one particular man, that he would be a Jew, that he would be preceded by the reappearance of the literal Enoch and Elias, that he would rebuild the Jewish temple at Jerusalem, compel circumcision, abolish the Christian sacraments, abolish every other form of religion, would manifestly and avowedly deny Christ, would assume to be Christ, and would be received by the Jews as their Messiah, would pretend to be God, would make a literal image speak, would feign himself dead and rise again, and would conquer the whole world – Christian, Mohammedan, and heathen; and all this in the space of three and a half years. He insisted that the prophecies of Daniel, Paul, and John, with reference to the antichrist, had no application whatever to the Papal power.”

From G’sR&R, p. 113: “There were only two alternatives. If the antichrist were not a present power, he must be either a past or a future one. Some writers asserted that the predictions pointed back to Nero. This became the Preterist view. This did not take into account the obvious fact that the antichristian power predicted was to succeed the fall of the Caesars, and develop among the Gothic nations. The other alternative became therefore the popular one with Papists. Antichrist was future, so Ribera and Bossuet and others taught. An individual man was intended, not a dynasty; the duration of his power would not be for twelve and a half centuries, but only three and a half years; he would be an open foe to Christ, not a false friend; he would be a Jew, and sit in the Jewish temple. Speculation about the future took the place of study of the past and present, and careful comparison of the facts of history with the predictions of prophecy. This related, so it was asserted, not to the main course of the history of the Church, but only to the few closing years of her history ...”

In a different book by Dr. Guinness entitled, The Approaching End of the Age, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1878, p. 95 he further enlightens us on the origins of futurism: “The third or Futurists view, is that which teaches that the prophetic visions of Revelation, from chapters iv. to xix., prefigure events still wholly future and not to take place, till just at the close of this dispensation ...

In its present form however it may be said to have originated at the end of the sixteenth century, with the Jesuit Ribera, who, moved like Alcazar, to relieve the Papacy from the terrible stigma cast upon it by the Protestant interpretation, tried to do so, by referring those prophecies to the distant future, instead of like Alcazar to the distant past. For a considerable period this view was confined to Romanists, and was refuted by several masterly Protestant works. But of late years, since the commencement of this century, it has sprung up afresh, and sprung up strange to say among Protestants. It was revived by such writers as the two Maitlands, Burgh, Tyso, Dr. Dodd, the leaders of the ‘Brethren’ generally, and by some Puseyite expositors also ...”

Another noted author and church historian, who wrote extensively on prophecy, was Leroy Edwin Froom. In his book The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. II, he sheds some amazing light on portions of history:

As to Futurism, for some three centuries this view was virtually confined to Romanists, and was refuted by several masterly Protestant works. But early in the nineteenth century it sprang forth afresh, this time among Protestants Samuel R. Maitland, William Burgh, J.H. Todd, and more recently it has been adopted by most Fundamentalists. In 1826 Maitland revived Ribera’s Futurist interpretation in England. The Plymouth Brethren, organized in 1830 by John Nelson Darby, at Dublin and Plymouth, also laid hold of Maitland’s interpretation. And when the High-Church Oxford Movement (1833-1845) gained ascendancy in Britain, it rejected the Protestant Historical School of interpretation and generally adopted Futurism, though some among them swung to Preterism. Bursting into full flame in 1833, it seized upon Maitland’s interpretation as an argument in favor of reunion with Rome. German rationalism, on the other hand, increasingly flouted prophecy and prediction. Thus the Jesuit schemes of counter-interpretation were more successful than their authors had ever dared anticipate.”

Then, Joseph Tanner in his Daniel and the Revelation, p. 17, quoted by Leroy E. Froom where he expressed the tragedy of modern Protestantism playing into the hands of Romanism, The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Vol. II, 1948, p. 511:

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 aspiring effort to regain his former hold on men’s minds.”

In all of this, Guinness, along with others, have enlightened the chronicles of history to reveal the origin of the futurists plotting. At any rate, Romanism did not regard the futurist interpretation of prophecy adequately enough to lay all questions and objections at rest. Therefore, they had to hatch-up another school of interpretation in response to all of those objections while simultaneously removing the Papacy from the Reformers’ disapproval.

The Papal Origins of Preterism

To place all of these objections and questions to rest, another school of interpretation was spawned. So just why, how and when did the Preterist school of prophetic interpretation enter the picture? Dr. Guinness, in his The Approaching End of the Age, responds with thought-provoking questions and observations, as follows, p. 93.: “The first or Preterist scheme [but not Alcazar’s brand], considers these prophecies to have been fulfilled in the downfall of the Jewish nation and the old Roman empire, limiting their range thus to the first six centuries of the Christian era, and making Nero Antichrist.

This scheme originated with [rather intensely enlarged by] the Jesuit Alcazar toward the end of the sixteenth century; it has been held and taught under various modifications by Grotius, Hammond, Bossuet, Eichhorn and other German commentators, Moses Stuart, and Dr. Davidson. It has few supporters now, and need not be described more at length.”

Dr. Guinness mentions that Preterism had few adherents in 1887, yet in his day it was having a resurgence and is the position held by many Protestants of the Reformed faith. Those holding to the Preterist school of interpretation should give particular attention to Dr. Guinness’ comment taken from page 113 of G’sR&R:

Some writers asserted that the predictions pointed back to Nero. This did not take into account the obvious fact that the antichrist power predicted was to succeed the fall of the Caesars, and develop among the Gothic nations.”

LeRoy Froom in his book The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. II confirms the foregoing facts of history:

Rome’s answer to the Protestant Reformation was twofold, though actually conflicting and contradictory. Through the Jesuits Ribera, of Salamanca, Spain, and Bellarmine, of Rome, the Papacy put forth her Futurist interpretation. And through Alcazar, Spanish Jesuit of Seville, she advanced almost simultaneously the conflicting Preterist interpretation. These were designed to meet and overwhelm the Historical interpretation of the Protestants. Though mutually exclusive, either Jesuit alternative suited the great objective equally well, as both thrust aside the application of the prophecies from the existing Church of Rome. The one accomplished it by making prophecy stop altogether short of papal Rome’s career. The other achieved it by making it overleap the immense era of papal dominance, crowding Antichrist into a small fragment of time in the still distant future, just before the great consummation. It is consequently often called the gap theory ...

Concerning the two alternatives, presented by Ribera and Alcazar, consigning Antichrist either to the remote past or future, Joseph Tanner, the Protestant writer, gives this record:

“‘Accordingly, toward the close of the century of the Reformation, two of her most learned doctors set themselves to the task, each endeavoring by different means to accomplish the same end, namely, that of diverting men’s minds from perceiving the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Antichrist in the Papal system. The Jesuit Alcazar devoted himself to bring into prominence the Preterist method of interpretation, which we have already briefly noticed, and thus endeavoured to show that the prophecies of Antichrist were fulfilled before the Popes ever ruled at 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’.”

Next we witness Joseph Tanner in his Daniel and the Revelation, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1898, pp. 16, 17, as quoted by Rev. E. B. Elliott, A.M., Horae Apocalypticae; or, A Commentary on the Apocalypse, London: Seeley, Jackson, and Halliday, 1862, Vol. 4, 5th Edition, pp. 480-485 as quoted by Edwin L. Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1948, Vol. II, pp. 486-088:

E.B. Elliott states precisely the same fact, only assigning slightly different dates; and many others, such as Dr. Candish, of Edinburgh, also support the charges. Thus the fact is established.

Rev. E.B. Elliott, quoted by Froom in the preceding paragraph, is that great English scholar from Cambridge University. In his four volume literary masterpiece, Horae Apocalypticae; or, A Commentary on the Apocalypse, Critical and Historical, Elliott supports the evidence thus far that both Preterist and Futurist interpretations of prophecy originated with Rome:

“‘It was stated at the conclusion of my Sketch of the History of Apocalyptic Interpretation, that there are at present two, and but two, grand general counter-Schemes to what may be called the historic Protestant view of the Apocalypse: that view which regards the prophecy as a pre-figuration of the great events that were to happen in the Church, and world connected with it, from St. John’s time to the consummation; including specially the establishment of the Popedom, and reign of Papal Rome, as in some way or other the fulfillment of the types of the Apocalyptic Beast and Babylon. The first of these two counter-Schemes is the Praeterists’, which would have the prophecy stop altogether short of the Popedom, explaining it of the catastrophes, one or both, of the Jewish Nation and Pagan Rome; and of which there are two sufficiently distinct varieties: the second the Futurists’; which in its original form would have it all shoot over the head of the Popedom into times yet future ...”

What all of this boils down to is that there are a lot of well-meaning Christians unwittingly going around today spouting the twisted doctrines of the Jesuit Ribera or the Jesuit Alcazar, thinking they are doing God a favor while interpreting prophecy, and nothing could be further from the truth! It should also be pointed out here that by-and-large most of the Jesuits were Kenite-Edomite-Canaanite-jews, or the spawn of Satan from Gen. 3:15! To repeat any tommyrot from such sources, without first confirming them, is tantamount to following Satan’s agenda! With the quotations used in this paper, you will notice that I have placed the rubbish of the Jesuit Ribera and the Jesuit Alcazar in their proper categories. One will have to pardon those in nominal churchianity, as their ancestors during the middle ages didn’t have access to Holy Writ, but today, we in Israel Identity don’t have any excuse! Therefore, the Israel Identity Christian should be following only the Historical school of Biblical, prophetic interpretation! I would urge each person reading this essay to examine all of the data presented here to determine whether these sources are valid or not. It would be irrational to take a position, one way or another, without doing so!

It might be argued that the sentiments of Guinness, Tanner, Elliot and Froom, along with others were simply anti-Catholic vilification and have no historical accuracy. On the other hand, Roman Catholics, as well as Protestants, harmonize in many cases of origin and interpretation, as the Roman Catholic writer G.S. Hitchcock demonstrates in his The Beast and the Little Horn, London, Catholic Truth Society Publication, 1911, p. 7:

The Futuristic School, founded by the Jesuit Ribera in 1591, looks for Antichrist, Babylon, and a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, at the end of the Christian Dispensation.

The Praeterist School, founded by the Jesuit Alcazar in 1614, explains the Revelation by the Fall of Jerusalem [in 70 A.D.], or by the fall of Pagan Rome in 410 A.D.”

So, the cry of “anti-catholic”, when one points out that futurism and preterism were invented and promoted by the Jesuits in the romish church simply doesn’t wash! There is no room for either futurism or preterism!