2.9. Simplicity over Academics

As J. Vernon McGee was fond of observing, “Remember. . . [God] is feeding sheep—not giraffes!.” Nowhere is this observation perhaps more relevant than to the topic at hand.

If our tone regarding the dangers of various streams of thought regarding the interpretation of the book of Revelation sounds overly negative, perhaps it is in reaction to the painful, laborious, and often depressing task of hours spent wading through numerous commentaries which are deeply academic and highly acclaimed by some, but which are void of faith and spiritual insight. Worse, they propose a seemingly endless series of fanciful or disjointed interpretations served up with a large dose of unbelief and skepticism. With rare exception, the words of former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower could describe many of these works: “An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.”

Much of what passes for enlightened inquiry is an endless series of conjectures and discussions centered on a number of highly-questionable assertions made, for the most part, by unbelievers and their allies, liberal academics. These ever-taller ivory towers are impressive at first sight, until one learns to recognize the house-of-cards foundation upon which they are built. The sooner the believer recognizes these tangents as the distractions which they are, the less time will be spent attempting to understand and subsequently refute ideas which contradict the teachings of Jesus. We are speaking here of ideas such as the Documentary Hypothesis, Deutero-Isaiah theories, redaction criticism and others which have consumed an enormous amount of energy and time while yielding little if any fruit.1 For those who are born-again, the simple words of Jesus fell these academic constructions. For those who are not born-again, we suggest that there is a more pressing issue than academic distractions concerning the book of Revelation—such as one’s stance in regard to these infrequently quoted verses from another of John’s writings: John John 3:18-19, John 3:36.

Let us say up-front that the approach we have chosen is unlikely to appeal to academics who place greater emphasis on interacting with each other’s often questionable theories than on understanding the text and edifying the saints. Our approach here is not encyclopedic nor does it favor critical scholarship.2 While recognizing alternate views, the emphasis is upon an understanding of the text itself and its priority over secondary commentary.


1 “The roots of the present Age of Apostasy began in Europe, particularly with German rationalism, where the inerrancy of the Scriptures was denied with the development of biblical criticism and the documentary hypothesis.”—Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 72.

2 Perhaps the greatest weapon of critical scholarship is its academic mandate that other views engage its speculative theories else lose a hearing. This mandate denies the rule of faith of the believer and our trust in God’s written revelation. Believers do not exercise a ‘blind faith,’ but neither should we waste precious time interacting with speculative theories which only serve to keep us from a deeper understanding of what God has revealed.