Historicism (Christianity)

Historicism (Christianity)

Historicism is a method of interpretation in Christian eschatology which associates biblical prophecies with actual historical events and identify symbolic beings with historical persons or societies. The main texts of interest are apocalyptic literature, such as the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation, and historicist methods have been applied to ancient Jewish history, the Roman Empire, Mohammedism, the Papacy, the Modern era and even into the End time.

One of the most influential aspects of the Protestant's historicist paradigm was the speculation that the Pope could be Antichrist; this view was popularized in the eighteenth century. In response to the historicist approach, Catholicism developed the preterist and futurist approaches to apocalyptic literature.

The historicist approach has been used in attempts to predict the date of the end of the world. An example of this is seen in post-Reformation Britain in the works of Charles Wesley who predicted that the end of the world would occur in 1794, based on his analysis of the Book of Revelation.

In nineteenth century America, William Miller proposed that the end of the world would occur on October 22, 1844, based on a historicist model used with Daniel 8:14. Miller’s historicist approach to the Book of Daniel spawned a national movement in the United States known as Millerism. After the Great Disappointment some of the Millerites eventually organized the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which continues to maintain a historicist reading of biblical prophecy as essential to its eschatology. Adam Clarke, whose commentary was published in 1831, proposed a possible ending date of 2015.

Read more about Historicism (Christianity):  Historicist Views of Matthew, Criticism, Advocates