Commentaries: On Idealism


Steve Gregg
“most modern commentators, both of the evangelical wing and of the literary-critical type, have mixed some of the ideas of the spiritual approach with one of the other historically-based approaches.  This is not a difficult merger to effect, as Pieters rightly observes: [Spiritual] interpretations combine readily with those of the Preterists or of the Historicists, because any symbol, understood by them to refer to a certain force or tendency may be considered fulfilled in any event in which such a force or tendency is dominant.”

“The most common tendency is to mix the spiritual approach with the preterist and then either call their view preterism, leave their view unlabeled, or give it an original name.” (Revelation: Four Views, p. 44)

Glenn R. Kreider
“This view dominated the history of interpretation from Augustine through the Reformation.” (Jonathan Edwards’s interpretation of Revelation 4:1-8:1)


Greg Boyd
“For my part, I find the arguments for the preterist reading of Revelation quite compelling, though I also believe there are paradigmatic spiritual truths found throughout the book, as the idealist camp argues.” (


“Ideas are certain original forms of things, their archetypes, permanent and incommunicable, which are contained in the Divine intelligence. And though they neither begin to be nor cease, yet upon them are patterned the manifold things of the world that come into being and pass away. ” (De diversis quaest., Q. xlvi, in P.L., XL, 30).

Charles Homer Giblin (1929-2002)
“The fate of Jerusalem is brought about by two major facts. First, the people are insensitive to the terms for peace…  Second, the rulers of the people (the Romans not excepted, but not considered as primarily responsible) have committed injustice and thus bring about the ruin of the people. The fate of Jerusalem, however, is not ultimately weighed as an event in itself – it is a sign for others, and is expressly related to time for judgment of nations. All this proves to be relevant, parabolically, to Luke’s readership, a man of affluence and influence, educated, who is expected to perceive in “a history” what should be done and what should be avoided, to discern models of good and of evil, with their consequences for society as he knows it. In effect, Luke’s lesson apropos of his account of Jerusalem’s destruction is to be construed as a question prompted in the typed reader’s mind: If this is what happened to Jerusalem because of the way Jesus and those who represent him, his disciples, were treated, what will happen to my city/nation/society if he (and his followers, who stand for him) are treated similarly? What am I, as a respected man with some influence, expected to do?” (The Destruction of Jerusalem According to Luke’s Gospel: A Historical-Typological Moral, Biblical Institute Press, 1985, viii )

“A system of interpretation which frankly recognizes the historical meaning of prophecy without thereby detracting from its spiritual essence should have some interest in the present day. ” (Book of Rules, Preface)

Joseph Wood (1906)
“Inspiration is that which is of universal application. If any utterance is only for an age, and local in its interpretation, we do not regard it as inspired. The Psalms, for instance, were mostly suggested by local considerations, the trials, the joys, the experiences of David and others, under peculiar circumstances. But, nevertheless, we feel as we read them that they pass beyond the limits of the local and the individual — they belong to humanity— they are true of human nature and life everywhere. Or take Christ’s prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem. It was spoken at Jerusalem about Jerusalem, and in a manner which seemed limited to Jerusalem. But had the prophecy been true only of that city of sorrows, it would never have been regarded as inspired. Whereas Christ’s principle was this : that the doom pronounced on Jerusalem was universally applicable, and that it was but a style and specimen of God’s judgment everywhere. The judgment comes wherever there is evil grown ripe for judgment, wherever corruption is complete. And the gathering of the Roman eagles to the carcase is but a specimen of the way in which judgment at last overtakes any city, any country, and any man in whom evil has reached the point where there is no possibility of cure. We who have lived through the last fifty years have seen the eagles gathered together in Naples, in America, in France, in Bulgaria. The Lord’s judgment on Jerusalem has been fulfilled many times —it was not simply of local but of universal application.” (The Bible, what it is and is not [lects.], p. 97)