The Non-Preterist Historicalism of John Calvin and the Westminster Standards

The anti-preteristic historicism of the Puritans' Westminster Standards

It should not be necessary to need to add that, just like John Calvin himself, so too the Calvin-istic Westminster Standards — the official teaching of all Presbyterian Churches worldwide — are not preteristic but historicistic. Nowhere do they assume that the predictions of Daniel were fulfilled in Daniel's day, nor that the predictions of John's Revelation anent the Roman beast were primarily fulfilled in the apostolic age. For to Westminster, Antichrist alias the Roman beast is not first-century Pagan Rome — but the later Romish Papacy!

Just before the Westminster Assembly, the 1639 Confession of Faith of the Kirk of Scotland equates "Papistry" with "that Roman Antichrist" — and later again "that Roman Antichrist" with "the Papistical Kirk." Similarly, the 1645 Westminster Directory for the Publick Worship of God urges prayer: "for the propagation of the gospel and kingdom of Christ to all nations; for the conversion of the Jews, the fulness of the Gentiles, the fall of Antichrist, and the hastening of the second coming of our Lord; for the deliverance of the distressed churches abroad from the tyranny of the antichristian faction and from the cruel oppressions and blasphemies of the Turk; [and] for the blessing of God upon the reformed churches" etc.

The 1647 Westminster Confession 23:4 cites Second Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 13:15-17 against the political pretensions of "the Pope" — in A.D. 1647. Indeed, chapter 25:6 cites Second Thessalonians 2:3-9 and Revelation 13:6 to show that "the Pope of Rome…is that antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition that exalteth himself in the church against Christ and all that is called God."

Finally, the 1648 Westminster Larger Catechism (QQ. 191 & 195) makes it plain that in the Lord's Prayer we are not to pray preteristically — thanking God merely for preserving the first-century Hebrew Church against Pagan Rome. To the contrary, we are to pray historicistically — "that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed (Psalm 68:1-18 & Revelation 12:10-11), the Gospel propagated throughout the world (Second Thessalonians 3:1), the Jews called (Romans 10:1), the fulness of the Gentiles brought in (John 17:9-20 & Romans 11:25-26 & Psalm 67); [&] the church…purged from corruption (Malachi 1:11 & Zephaniah 3:9)" etc. For we are to "pray that God would…over-rule the World and all in it…and restrain Satan" — till he be "trodden under our feet…for ever!"

 

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