Reading (into) Revelation

Part 7 - Eschatology
Chapter 50 - How History Informs the Historicist:  Thomas Goodwin's Reading of Revelation

Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680) was an early congregationalist whose view of Revelation  connected with his desire to purify the national church of England of popish ceremony.  He had to flee to Holland in Archbishop Laud's time.

His view of Revelation is "a decisive break... from the Reformation tradition."  It is historicist, which means it is basically chronological.  The events in chapters 4-20 are sequential starting in John's day and going until the end of the world and relate to specific historical events.  He divides this part of the book between the seal prophecies (chapters 6-12) and the book prophecies (12-20).

In the seal section we see the Roman Empire subdued under Christ (ch 6), Barbarians and the east/west split (ch 8), and the rise of Islam and the Ottomans (ch 9-11).  The temple measured in 11:1 shows the rule of worship and how Rome (and Protestant compromisers like Laud) broke it.  The two witnesses killed represents the Protestants persecuted by Rome.  The 1260 days of 11:3 (and Daniel 12:11) were taken as years, from the fall of Rome around 400, setting a date for the end between 1650 and 1666.

In the book section we see the early church (ch 12), rise of the popes (ch 13), early papacy of 400-1100 (ch 14), and reformations in the angels of 14:6-11.

The big picture was to anticipate the sweeping away of Rome and ushering in of the millennial kingdom of Christ.  The goal for Goodwin (as it is for all millennialism) was to manifest Christ's glory on earth as it is in heaven.

The authors spend more time on this topic than it is worth.  They are far too kind on Goodwin, I think, admitting only that he was "largely mistaken."  His views border on the bizarre.  What makes it plausible is only the tremendous zeal to fight the papacy in his day.  The authors are right that this is a warning to all not to read Revelation "in terms of their own knowledge of history and current events or in terms of their own personal hopes and dreams" (818).

No comments:

Post a Comment