The Major Problem With the Idealist Interpretation to the Book of Revelation

There are four interpretive models to the book of Revelation: preterist, historicist, futurist, and idealist. This latter model, the idealist interpretation, is probably the most common interpretation found in Christendom. Greg Herrick defines it as such:

In this understanding, the contents of the book are not seen to relate to any historical events at all, but only to symbolize the ongoing struggle between good and evil during the church age until Christ returns. Johnson says that, as a system of interpretation it is more recent than the three other [preterist, historicist and futuristic] schools and somewhat more difficult to distinguish from earlier allegorizing approaches of the Alexandrians (Clement and Origen). In general the idealist view is marked by a refusal to identify any of the images with specific future events, whether in the history of the church or with regard to the end of all things.

The major problem with this view is that the book of Revelation opens up—in the very first verse—establishing the historical character of the book: “what must happen very soon.” And a few chapters later it is reiterated: “what must happen after these things” (Rev 4:1). So the book of Revelation is not merely about some “concepts of good and evil.” Certainly, good and evil is a motif in the book, but they will be manifested in real, concrete events in history.

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must happen very soon. He made it clear by sending his angel to his servant John.” (Rev 1:1)

“After these things I looked, and there was a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet said: “Come up here so that I can show you what must happen after these things.”” (Rev 4:1)



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