The other day I was sitting in my car waiting for my wife to do an errand and decided to tune the radio to a Christian station. A certain speaker was presenting his view of what it would be like in the “end times” and more specifically what it would be like at the conclusion of those end times. I’ll get to that soon. But what I want you to understand is that this preacher was presenting his view of prophecy, like many others, which I describe as eclectic prophecy.
What do I mean by “eclectic prophecy”? Eclectic is defined as “selecting what appears to be the best in various doctrines, methods or styles” (Merrian-Webster.com). The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary adds:
“… an epithet given to certain philosophers of antiquity who did not attach themselves to any particular sect, but selected from the opinions and principles of each, what they thought solid and good.”
In other words, eclectic pertains to those who, in their own reason (whatever that may be based on), decide what is the best way to think or do something. Whatever seems right or true is based upon picking out an idea from one source or another. Eclectic ideas or notions are not based upon time-tested methods or systems, but on whatever “appears to be the best.”
Eclectic prophecy is conclusion of prophecy not based on time-tested principles of interpretation but on whatever may seem to be right. Thus, eclectic prophecy would represent a variety of opinions by randomly selecting this idea or that person’s opinion or whatever. Hence, there is no consistency or consensus of interpretation of Bible prophecy. In other words, interpreting prophecy becomes a matter of private interpretation. What does the Bible say about private interpretation?
“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.” – II Peter 1:20 The KJV says “No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.”
What I want you to get is that there is no standardized system by those who practice eclectic prophecy. A standardized, time-tested system of biblical interpretation of prophecy would include, for example:
- The Bible must be interpreted in its own context, and
- The Bible must interpret itself.
And all assumptions about what the Bible says and means about prophecy must be proven by these standardized principles of interpretation. If not, then all conclusions of prophecy are varied and often contradict each other.
12 Gates and 12 Personalities
Let me return to this Christian radio speaker as an example of eclectic prophecy. He believed that at the end of the “end times” when the New Jerusalem would appear (Revelation 21:10-14) that each Christian in the world would know what specific gate to go through based upon the personality traits of each of the “twelve tribes” of Israel. (The personality traits were based on Jacob’s view of each of his sons in Genesis 49). Of course, each Christian could be from any race on the planet. So any person of any race could enter into any one of the gates representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Their particular gate would be based on their personality traits. Never mind that each gate of the New Jerusalem represents a tribe of Israel. In this speaker’s view, any race could enter because, according to him, the Revelation 21:10-14 passage is not really talking about a literal tribe of Israel. It’s all about “spiritual Israel” and thus, anyone outside of the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are legitimate members of the New Jerusalem.
I’ll just address this point and ask, “Based on what biblical context does anyone conclude that the twelve tribes of Israel are not literal, but spiritual tribes in Revelation 21:10-14?”
What biblical context of the covenants from Abraham to Jesus Christ would now open up the gates of the New Jerusalem to include any other race than Israel?
And then there is the confident assertion of this speaker that entry into any gate of one of the twelve tribes is based on personality traits. Where does he get that?
This is eclectic prophecy or private interpretation, which is just picking ideas out of thin air. Sure sounds interesting and smart, but it cannot be true, correct and certain if determined outside the standardized, time-tested principles of interpretation.
Cure for Prophetic Speculation
Eclectic prophecy is common, widespread and has been around for centuries based on what people think they know that just ain’t so. Speculation.
What’s the cure? Approach the Bible – the whole Bible – in order to discern what it says and what it means, guided by unfailingly strict application of principles of interpretation. Anything less is NOT rightly handling the Word of the Living God.
This was my objective in all my books in the Covenant Heritage Series, as well as the new one soon to be released, The Biblical Story of Prophecy. [HOT] The conclusions in this book are based solely on studying the Bible prophecies specifically in respect to the coming of Jesus Christ strictly in context and allowing the Bible to interpret itself. It’s coming soon, so stayed tuned.
By Lawrence Blanchard, ND, MDiv