Schools of Prophecy

Three Schools of Thought

If we want to create a stir in a gathering of Christians from different groups, we should present an interpretation of a prophecy as though it were the only one that is correct. There are at least three distinct “schools of prophecy” in Christianity, each labeled according to its view of the millennium.


This prophetic school of interpretation does not believe in a literal kingdom of peace and prosperity here on earth that will last 1,000 years. They believe that the Old Tes-tament predictions of the kingdom were fulfilled in a nonliteral way, either in the present church age or the experience of the church in heaven. As a result, they tend to interpret prophetic Scriptures more figuratively than literally. Most amillennial Bible students do not recognize a distinction between Israel and the church but rather argue Israel was the church of the Old Testament and the church is the Israel of the New Testament.


At the turn of the century, the most popular view of Bible prophecy was the postmillennial view. Theologians believed that the world from the time of Christ’s coming was getting better and better and assumed that a millennial kingdom would be established on earth as the world lived in peace. They interpreted the return of Christ as coming toward the end of this reign of peace. The existence of two major international conflicts in this century and scores of other smaller wars have shattered the hopes of most postmillennialists for a man-made peaceful world.


The view of prophecy, which has become increasingly popular in the last half of this century has been the premillennial position. Essentially it recognizes a distinction between Israel and the church (1 Cor. 10:32), and accepts a literal interpretation of key passages such as Revelation 20:110 that call for 1,000 years of peace and prosperity. The premillennial position teaches that Christ will return to the earth and set up a literal kingdom as he promised. With the establishment of Israel as a political state in 1948 and the declaration of Jerusalem as her capital in 1980, this school of interpretation has been gaining credibility in recent years. Most of the popular films and books on Bible prophecy are premillennial, as are many Bible schools and missionary societies.

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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