First Criticism: Prophetic foreshortening must not be applied to New Testament prophecy.
We have already seen Waymeyer’s assertion that hermeneutics is primary in the debate between Amillennialists and Premillennialists. (8) I agree and will give first place in my criticisms to my disagreement with Waymeyer’s hermeneutical principles. My first criticism has to do with his notion that we may attribute the double fulfillment or prophetic foreshortening characteristic of Old Testament prophecy to New Testament prophecy. (11, 13, 91, 111)
It is a commonly recognized hermeneutical principle with regard to Old Testament prophecy that it has a kind of flat perspective about the future. Often events that differ vastly in time are predicted together or next to each other in Old Testament prophecy. Waymeyer describes this principle as follows: “As most biblical interpreters recognize, sometimes a given prophecy will predict two or more future events and present them in such a way that it appears they will occur simultaneously, and yet later revelation clarifies that a significant gap of time separates them. Commonly referred to as “telescoping,” “prophetic perspective,” or “prophetic foreshortening,” this phenomenon is often compared to seeing two mountain peaks off in the distance—initially they appear to be right next to each other, but a closer look reveals that they are separated by a valley.” (13) Waymeyer is correct when he goes on to assert: “Most amillennialists recognize this use of prophetic perspective.” (13)
Waymeyer proceeds to apply this principle of prophetic foreshortening to New Testament prophecy. He applies it to the New Testament doctrine of the kingdom to argue for a gap in some prophecies which allows for a millennial kingdom in the age to come. (92) He also applies it to passages which seem to predict that the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous occur at the same time in order to argue that progressive revelation reveals a telescoping of two far separated events into one. (111)
In my view the application of the prophetic foreshortening or flat perspective of Old Testament prophecy to New Testament prophecy is misguided and has serious consequences. Here I have to admit, however, that some of my fellow amillennialists have not seen the fallacy of applying the principle of prophetic foreshortening to New Testament prophecy. For instance, I have documented in my interpretation of Matthew 24 (in More of the End Times Made Simple) the serious difficulties and even (in my opinion) incomprehensibilities produced by an application of this principle to the Olivet Discourse by some of my amillennial friends.
Thus, though I have no wish to entangle myself in a dispute with both premillennialists and amillennialists, I must insist that the application of prophetic foreshortening to New Testament prophecy is simply wrong. In my next post, I will set before my readers two conclusive arguments for this assertion and against the idea that prophetic foreshortening is characteristic of New Testament prophecy.
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.