Seminary’s conference on end times explains conflicting viewpoints

More than 150 students, faculty and guests turned out at Southwestern Seminary for a two-hour panel discussion concerning eschatology, or the study of the end times, Oct. 27.

Sponsored by Southwestern Seminary’s School of Theology and the Theological Fellowship, a student organization, panel members for the event included Craig Blaising, Malcolm Yarnell III, and Paul Wolfe. David Allen, dean of the theology school at Southwestern, served as moderator.

Blaising, executive vice president and provost of the seminary, is a noted author on the subject of eschatology. His book Progressive Dispensationalism is widely regarded as a seminal articulation and update on premillenial eschatology.

During the discussion, Blaising spoke in support of progressive and classic dispensationalism. Blaising outlined support for a future thousand-year reign of Christ; whether the Old Testament discusses the idea of a millennium; and the use of “literal hermeneutics” in regard to Revelation 4:1. Concerning these topics, Blaising suggested reading the Scofield Bible, Things to Come by J. Dwight Pentecost, and Late, Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsay.

Yarnell, assistant dean for theological studies and director of the seminary’s Center for Theological Research, presented information on historic premillennialism. His discussion included the differences between the “day of the Lord,” the “rapture,” and the “second coming” in the historic premillenial position; and whether his interpretation that only Revelation 20 mentions the millennium could be wrong. Yarnell suggested reading George Ladd’s The Blessed Hope and The Lion and the Lamb by John Newport.

Speaking on behalf of amillenialism and preterism, Wolfe, who pointed to Augustine as an influential author regarding these positions, spoke on the issue of Satan’s imprisonment for a thousand years and the seventieth week described in the book of Daniel. Wolfe is associate professor of New Testament and occupies the Huber L. Drumwright Jr. Chair of New Testament at Southwestern Seminary.

“Preterists would say the seventieth week was fulfilled in the first century,” Wolfe said, noting that his articulation of the position did not indicate his belief in it. “Others would say the seventieth week is a culmination of all that God has promised.”

During the last portion of the event, audience members were given the opportunity to ask questions of the panel members. One student asked whether Revelation should be read as a full narrative or in sections.

All three panelists agreed the book of Revelation is not a straight chronology of events and, while the book can be read in one sitting or in sections, there seems to be divisions in the book.

“I think the best way to read Revelation is at one time,” Yarnell said. “That allows you to gather the gist of the book before delving further into it.”

Audio CDs or tapes for $3.79 each, VHS tapes for $7.85 each, or DVDs of the discussion for $10 each, plus $2 shipping and handling, are available through the Roberts Library Audio-Visual Learning Center, P.O. Box 22490, Fort Worth, Texas, 76122, or by calling Alexis Rowland at (817) 923-1921 ext. 2920 or 2921.

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