sales and influence continues to grow in the Left Behind series, so does jealous opposition and
criticism. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, authors of the multi-million, number
one bestsellers, do not attack anyone else' s views of Bible prophecy. They
merely present their views in novel form. Opponents of this unprecedented
series attempt to draw attention to their neglected views by hitching their
wagons to the Left Behind
series by writing critical books and articles against the novels.
such critic is apparent Seventh Day Adventist Steve
Wohlberg. He has come out with both guns blazing by producing at least two
books, audio and video tapes, and a web site against the Left Behind series. I have a copy of his book The Left
Behind Deception. All of
this appears to be an effort to generate some kind of hearing for the faint
voice known as historicism.
What is Historicism?
who followed events surrounding David Koresh of Waco may be interested to know
that he, along with Adventists, are some of the few historicists of
contemporary times, even though this view enjoyed dominance from the time of
the Reformation until the beginning of the twentieth century. " The historicist
view, sometimes called the continuous-historical view, contends that Revelation
is a symbolic presentation of the entire course of the history of the church
from the close of the first century to the end of time."  This
spiritualistic approach is built upon the day/year theory, whereby the 1260
days (literally 3 1/2 years) of Daniel and Revelation cover the time (1260
years) of the domination of anti-Christ over the church. Another variation
would be to apply the day/year theory to the 2300 days of Daniel 8. Thus, the
role of the historicist is to figure out when anti-Christ came to power (i.e.,
the Roman Church and the Papacy) and add 1260 or 2300 years and you have the
time of the Second Coming and the defeat of anti-Christ. So if this time
started some time during the reign of Constantine, say 350, then you add the
two together and you would come out with 1610. American William Miller used a
variation of the day/year theory by using the 2300 days of Daniel 8:4 as the
basis for his scheme.
feature of historicism is seen in their effort to correlate events of
Revelation with events occurring in the present church age. As the historicist
sees contemporary events creeping closer to the Second Coming of Christ in
Revelation 19, this leads to further date-setting as to the precise year with
their day/year scheme. Not only are Seventh Day Adventist historicists in
their views of prophecy, but so are the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses. This
explains why Jehovah Witnesses have been such big date-setters. They have
merely implemented the logic of the day/year theory.
historicist is constantly confronted with the dilemma of a far-fetched
spiritualization in order to maintain the chain of historical events," claims
Dr. Tenney, " or else if he makes the events literal in accordance with the
language of the text he is compelled to acknowledge that no comparable events
in history have happened."  The demise of historicism has
resulted in less date-setting in our own day than had occurred during the era
when historicism was popular.
The Day/Year Theory
made an amazingly errant statement about the seventy-weeks of Daniel 9:24, when
he said the following: " Just about all Bible scholars accept this- that this
period is actually a day for a year- representing 490 years."  No
they don' t, because days are not mentioned in the text. For those aquatinted
with Hebrew, they will notice that the same word appears twice at the beginning
of verse 24. That word is " s‰bu' ”m,"
meaning " seventy sevens." This Hebrew word appears first as a plural noun,
followed by the participle form, functioning as an adjective. That this Hebrew
phrase should be rendered as " seventy sevens," is unanimously agreed upon by
representatives of all interpretative schools. There is also great consensus
that the " seventy sevens" refers to years, since this is what Daniel was
contemplating in Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10-14, as evident in Daniel 9:2. Thus,
our Lord has in mind seventy weeks of years, or 490 years.
just declares that days are used for years in Daniel 9, when there is no such
thing at all in that text. After having declared that, he says, " this is where
we get the prophetic principle that days are to be understood as years." If it
is to be gotten anywhere, it is pulled out of thin air, since nowhere does the
text of Holy Scripture ever say what he says. Yet the whole theory of
historicism, which he is eager to advance, is totally dependant upon a dictum
that is found nowhere in the Bible. No wonder biblically knowledgeable
Christians have totally given up on the historicist system.
if Wohlberg' s previous error was not enough, he then proceeds to heap factual
error upon factual error, from which he builds his false arguments against the Left
Behind theology. Wohlberg says
Guess who was one of the
very first scholars to slice Daniel' s 70th week away from the first
69 weeks, sliding it down to the end of time? It was the Evil Empire' s very
own Francisco Ribera! Ribera' s primary apparatus was the seventy weeks. He
taught that Daniel' s 70th week was still in the future. . . . This
is exactly the scenario used by Hal Lindsey and a multitude of other current
prophecy teachers. . . . this GAP idea originated with the Jesuits.
wild conspiracy theory is bad enough, but he should at least attempt to base it
upon accurate historical facts. In fact, it is doubtful whether Jesuits ever
held a gap view. What is not in doubt is that the pre-Catholic, early church
held just such a view. This is even admitted by fellow
Seventh Day Adventist, LeRoy Froom in his The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, that Hippolytus (c. a.d. 200) " separates by a chronological gap from the
preceding sixty-nine weeks, placing it just before the end of the world." 
continues to compound error when he says, " The current wildly popular idea of a
one-man Antichrist like Nicolae Carpathia who comes only after the Rapture is a
new doctrine, at least when it comes to Protestants."  He is
technically correct, but his overall emphasis is not. The idea of a " one-man
Antichrist" is the oldest view recorded in church history. It was
overwhelmingly the view of the early church. Bernard McGinn has written a book
on the history of the church' s beliefs about antichrist. It is clear that the
only kind of antichrist that the church believed in for the first 500 years was
that of " a one-man Antichrist like Nicolae Carpathia." " Antichrist was
identified with a final non-Christian World Conqueror," notes McGinn, " who
would be a mixture of persecuting tyrant and deceiver (false prophet and
magician), while antichrists were conceived of as his predecessors and
assistants- Roman officials, and later Jews as well." 
fact the view of a personal antichrist has been the dominate view throughout
most of church history. The idea that antichrist is not a
person, but successive popes is a late view in church history. It is
interesting to learn that historicism is generally thought to have first been
developed, not by Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformers as Wohlberg wants
people to think, but by Catholic Joachim of Fiore in the later half of the
twelfth century. In fact, it was the Catholic Joachim
who taught that the pope would be the Antichrist.
amazing fabrication, that often circulates in historicists circles is the
belief that futurism (the prophetic belief of Tim LaHaye and fellow
dispensationalists) is the product of a Jesuit conspiracy. " In 1590, . . ."
says Wohlberg, the Jesuit " Ribeira applied all the book of Revelation but the
earliest chapter to the end time rather than to the history of the Church.
Antichrist would be a single evil person who would be received by the Jews and
would rebuild Jerusalem."  Wohlberg then says that " Jesuit Futurism"
was passed from Ribeira to Cardinal Robert Bellarmine in the early 1600' s, who
championed the view within the Catholic Church. However, Wohlberg says that
" Jesuit Futurism" came into Protestantism through S. R. Maitland in 1826, went
to James Todd at the University of Dublin to Edward Irving and then J. N.
Darby. This is pure fantasy, especially the part about Edward Irving. There
is no evidence that he was a futurist. His system is has more in common with
historicism. An expert on Edward Irving' s eschatology, Columba Graham Flegg,
clearly classifies him as a historicist.
is an amazing claim, to say that futurism only began in the late sixteenth
century, when it is clear that the earliest views of Bible prophecy found in
the Ante-Nicene Fathers (till a.d.
325) are futurist. Dr. Grant Osborne summarizes the views of the early
church' s futurism as follows:
This was the method employed
by some of the earliest fathers (e.g., Justin, Irenaeus, Hippolytus), but with
the triumph of the allegorical method (taking a spiritual approach to the book)
after Origen and of the amillennial view after Augustine and Ticonius, the
futurist method (and chiliasm) was not seen again for over a thousand years.
The first to develop once more a literal view of the book was Franciscus
Ribeira, a Spanish Jesuit who wrote in the late sixteenth century to counter
the Reformation antipapal interpretation. While he was not truly a futurist,
he turned the attention back to the early fathers, and after him that view returned
to prominence and stands alongside the others as equally valid.
says, " Left Behind is now
teaching much of the very same Jesuit Futurism of Francisco Ribeira which is hiding
the real truth about the Antichrist." 
In reality, the Left Behind series
is teaching what the Bible literally says about future events, rather than
allegorizing them, as do historicists, in their attempt to make them a record
of the last two thousand years of European history. Charles says of
historicism, " Through the application of this method the Apocalypse became the
theatre for the exercise of a perverse ingenuity, on which one arbitrary
interpretation had hardly established itself, when it was dislodged by another,
no less arbitrary."  It is not surprising that
historicism has virtually disappeared from the American landscape. If
Wohlberg' s arguments are the best that they have to offer, no wonder
historicism is on life-support.
criticisms of the Left Behind
series is full of error. In his booklet, The Left Behind Deception, he rarely uses any biblical argumentation in
his failed attempt to discredit the theology of prophetic futurism. Instead,
he demonstrates a very lose view of church history, to put it mildly, while
he- in essence- slanders and misrepresents the actual facts of church history at
many points as noted above. Wohlberg' s poor attempt to interact with biblical
futurism serves only to demonstrate why futurism has displaced historicism as
the preferred interpretive approach to biblical prophecy. The Left Behind novel series remains an excellent way to not
only share the exciting details of end-time Bible prophecy, but it is also a
tremendous way to share the gospel of grace to many who have been
unapproachable in the past. Maranatha!
 Steve Wohlberg, The Left Behind Deception:
Revealing Dangerous Errors About The Rapture And The Antichrist (Coldwater, MI: Remnant Publications, 2001).
 Merrill G. Tenney, Interpreting Revelation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957), p. 137.
 Tenney, Interpreting Revelation, p. 138.
 Steve Wohlberg, The Antichrist Chronicles audio tape, side B.
 For an extensive discussion of the seventy-weeks
of Daniel see Thomas Ice, " The 70 Weeks of Daniel," in Tim LaHaye and Thomas
Ice, editors, The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming Under Attack (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2003), pp. 307- 53.
 Wohlberg, The Left Behind Deception, p. 72.
 For an extensive documentation of this see Ice,
" The 70 Weeks of Daniel," End Times Controversy, pp. 349-53.
 Le Roy Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our
Fathers, 4 vols, (Washington:
Review and Herald, 1950), vol. I, p. 277.
 Wohlberg, The Left Behind Deception, p. 40.
 Bernard McGinn, Antichrist: Two Thousand
Years of the Human Fascination with Evil (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1994), p. 78.
 See McGinn, Antichrist for documentation.
 Grant R. Osborne, Revelation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), p. 18.
 R. H. Charles, Studies in the Apocalypse (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1913), p. 23.
 Wohlberg, The Left Behind Deception, pp. 63-64.
 Columba Graham Flegg, ' Gathered Under
Apostles' A Study of the Catholic Apostolic Church (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), pp. 436-37.
 Osborne, Revelation, p. 20.
 Wohlberg, The Left Behind Deception, p. 71.
 Charles, Studies in the Apocalypse, p. 31.