November 18, 2008

Conditional Futurism in Sum

My eschatology turned upside down after I studied the Bible verses referenced in the F. Furman Kearley article, "The Conditional Nature of Prophecy: A Vital Exegetical and Hermeneutical Principle".1 For example, Hebrew prophets such as Jeremiah (18:5-10) and Ezekiel (33:12-16) clearly teach that the outcome of prophetic judgments are conditional. The word and purposes of the Lord never alter while the outcome of the word of the Lord can vary. When the Lord speaks a prophetic judgment against a nation or individual human, then genuine repentance of the nation or human will alter the outcome of the judgment. And this conditional nature of prophecy applied to all the divinely inspired prophetic judgments written in the canonical books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Kearley also applies the conditional nature of prophecy to end-time prophecies. He says, "If the conditional element were accepted, this would constitute a giant step toward the unity of classical premillennialists, dispensationalists, amillennialists, and postmillennialists."

Before I carefully studied the nature of prophetic judgment according to the Hebrew prophets, I loosely held to premillennialism. I believed in the Millennial Reign after the return of the Lord while I saw a lot of symbolism in Revelation and never insisted that the Reign had to literally last one thousand years. And I strongly believed that 2 Thessalonians 2 clearly teaches about a final human Antichrist who would manifest before the return of the Lord. Likewise, I held to futurism. My futurism also incorporated preterist and postbiblical typologies. For example, I saw Hitler as a postbiblical type of the final Antichrist.

After I carefully studied the nature of prophetic judgment according to the Hebrew prophets, I remained a futurist and embraced the conditional nature of prophetic judgments, which I call "conditional futurism". For example, I still believe that a final human Antichrist will manifest before the return of the Lord. And this Antichrist can read about his pending doom and decide to repent in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I'm not saying that we can depend on the final Antichrist repenting before the return of the Lord, but we need to understand the nature of prophetic judgments and pray for the salvation of all political leaders according to 1 Timothy 2:1-4.

On one hand, the Bible teaches about a type Antichrist who repented. For example, Revelation refers to the Babylonian Kingdom while describing Antichrist forces. This suggests that Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar was a type Antichrist. And Nebuchadnezzar repented (Daniel 1-4). On the other hand, we cannot depend on the repentance of the final Antichrist before the return of the Lord because Acts 3:19-23 teaches that some people can choose to reject Christ and face destruction. According to Conditional Futurism, the final Antichrist could repent or fulfill his destiny of doom.
1F. Furman Kearley, "The Conditional Nature of Prophecy: A Vital Exegetical and Hermeneutical Principle", (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press, undated),

Copyright © 2008 James Edward Goetz

1 comment:

Janice Kearley said...

My father would be pleased that his work in this area is still being appreciated.