The author has a twofold object in view. He is impressed by the remarkable recrudescence of the millennial hope due to the War, and seeks to cut the ground beneath it by exposing the falsity of its underlying principle of interpretation of prophecy. His main purpose, however, is a larger one: to reopen the question of the attitude of the Protestant Churches towards the Scriptures as a principle of authority. He believes in the efficacy of the historical method and hopes to convert his readers by a study of the problem of predictive messianic prophecy as that is revealed in the history of biblical interpretation, leading up to the conclusion that the theory of predictive prophecy must be abandoned.
Without attempting to quarrel with the matter of this work, we venture to take exception to its form. An author must consider his public to a certain extent if he wishes his book to be read. Here we have a work which is at once too technical and tedious for the average reader and inadequate for the scholar. Thorough-going Millennialists will scarcely be attracted to the perusal of some hundred pages illustrative of the Patristic argument from prophecy with quotations from Justin Martyr and the Apologists in order to satisfy themselves that their own cherished beliefs must be abandoned. Nor again are those attracted by the Millennial Hope likely to engage in so elaborate an historical study in order to inoculate themselves against the heresy. If the main purpose of the work, however, is to demonstrate that Protestantism must come to terms with itself as to its own principium and frankly adopt the results of modern biblical scholarship, then the argument addresses itself to such among the masses of protestant lay people as have not already abandoned the theory of predictive prophecy and verbal inspiration. Is the historical method the best medicine for such? If Prof. Fullerton can persuade the general protestant public to study his book, we have no doubt but that he will make many converts and they will undoubtedly benefit. We could wish for their sakes that he had presented his argument in a more palatable form. That he is capable of doing so is shown by the last chapter on Reconstruction which is by far the best in the book and from which we quote the following: -
"The new view of prophecy does not concentrate its attention upon a series of unconnected predictions whose truth depends upon their minute, literal fulfillment, but it looks upon prophecy as a great organic movement in the history of Israel, extending through the centuries, and in its moral power and grandeur presenting a phenomenon absolutely unique in the ancient world, and most easily explicable on the assumption of a supernatural guidance. Prophecy is not to be regarded after the analogy of the classic mantic; but it is a kind of sublime philosophy of history, whose controlling principle, in its treatment of the history of the race, is an unshaken faith in the providential guidance of the Living God, whose great practical purpose is to illustrate and emphasize the supremacy of the Law of Righteousness in determining, under God, the weal or woe of man, and whose crowning glory is its inspired optimism as to the final struggle between good and evil in the race, when all the various threads of human history shall be woven into the banner of the Church Triumphant. It is when we look upon prophecy in this larger way and as an organic whole that we obtain a broader basis for apologetics."
-The Church Quarterly Review, Volumes 92 show more