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The Covenantal Kingdom

by Rev. Ralph Allan Smith

Chapter Two:

Interpreting Prophecy

Introduction to Chapter Two

Many believe Christians differ in their eschatology because they use different principles of interpretation.[1] Premillennial dispensationalists in particular emphasize that they consistently interpret the Scriptures "literally" while others "spiritualize" or use "figurative interpretation." Many amillennialists and postmillennialists argue that no one can interpret "literally" all the time and insist that the New Testament "spiritualizes" certain Old Testament passages,[2] thus seeming to endorse the dispensationalist view that differences between the schools are based upon different hermeneutical approaches.

The idea that the various millennial positions are the result of different principles of interpretation confuses the real problem for three reasons. One, dispensational premillennialists do not interpret "literally." Two, postmillennialists do not "spiritualize" the eschatological portions of Scripture. Three, the real hermeneutical problem is something entirely different.


1. In a debate between the four major millennial positions (historic premil, dispensational premil, postmil, and amil) all four participants repeatedly stressed the importance of hermeneutics (principles of interpretation). Robert G. Clouse, ed., The Meaning of the Millennium (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1977).

2. The Meaning of the Millennium, pp. 134ff., 172ff.

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