Many will be aware that fundamentalists in the institutional church are absorbed by the subject of biblical prophecy and its fulfillment. That is especially so for those prophecies which they consider to be unfulfilled or only recently fulfilled. These latter prophecies are generally considered to be those associated with the nation of
It is quite understandable that this preoccupation with the prophetic portions of scripture exists. After all, biblical prophecy is shrouded in mystery and presents unlimited opportunities for fanciful speculation and prognostication. Many a sermon has resulted from just such flights of fantasy.
To many Bible students the fulfillment of prophecy is the single ost powerful evidence of the authenticity of the Bible. Many believers view the recorded fulfillment of many Bible predictions as proof positive that the book is inspired.
Skeptics, on the other hand, are not so impressed. They consider the fact that the Bible records the fulfillment of its own predictions, largely as the only document doing so, as just too specious to be considered creditable evidence. If believers observe that the record of prediction and those of fulfillment are separated by lengthy periods of time, the skeptics remain skeptical. The former were almost certainly available to the writers of the latter, making fabrication a possibility, so without corroborating evidence apart from the scriptures, the case remains unresolved.
Interestingly, the portions of the Bible which is most significant to many skeptics are those in which Jesus reveals His ethical standards, as in the Sermon on the Mount for instance. It is easy to imagine why these same portions are not so revered by fundamentalists. The ethical standards promoted by Jesus fly in the face of the basic tenets of Orthodoxy, with its emphasis on human depravity and redemption by correct church doctrine.
It is ironic that the church wants to validate the Bible by its ability to predict the future, largely in a catastrophic way, while skeptics find merit its merit in the transcendence of its message about human behavior and relationships. In effect, the skeptics recognize the value of the Bible in its counter intuitive insights, while the church emphasizes a message which differs little from man’s mode of thinking throughout human history. Who really recognizes the important aspects of the Bible and who merely grabs convenient verses to build a case for self promotion and preservation?