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Randy-WhiteWe began this series yesterday with a warning, which is: Be careful not to claim more than you know.

I even introduced “White’s Law”: If the Bible does not say it, then do not claim it.

Then we illustrated this principle using the example of Thomas Birks. In this installment we will consider why Birks’ violation of the precept behind “White’s Law” was so unfortunate.

Based on the examples that we considered, we see clearly that Birks believed in a historicist rather than a futurist view of most of Revelation.

[1] (I fully reject the historicist view.) This view, along with his non-literal view of numbers, led Birks to wild conclusions which have to be rejected today simply because there is no way to align them with the truth.

The sad part is that Birks, and so many others, have much to offer. Had he kept his teaching to what the Scripture actually says, he would be a giant among dispensational theologians today. The further sadness is that it is very easy for you and me to do the same thing. We can easily ignore “White’s Law”: If the Bible does not say it, then do not claim it.

In my own teaching, I sometimes stop and say, “What I am about to say is free—I am just making it up.” This is my way of saying, “I’ve left preaching and gone to speculating.” Speculation is fun, at times, but do not put stock into it. It is simply making stuff up.

My encouragement to you is twofold. First, do not make stuff up (at least without acknowledging that what you are saying is mere speculation). Doing so will harm your long-term credibility. But second, do not be too quick to throw out the baby with the bathwater in some of the great dispensational thinkers of the past. Many of these thinkers held to some made-up theories that have proven to be wrong. But they also wrote some things that are amazingly insightful, and it is our loss if we do not read them.

In fact, the warning of ignoring the pursuit of knowledge in prophecy is something Thomas Birks himself spoke of, in words that should be heard and heeded today:

The lamp which God has vouchsafed to us for our guidance is neglected or even scorned, by the great body of those who bear the name of Christians. The calculations of their own worldly prudence eclipse the messages of the Infinite Wisdom. They boldly reverse the commandment of the Holy Ghost. While He charges us to take heed to the word of prophecy, they brand attention to it as enthusiastic folly, or the dreams of madness. Nay many, even of the followers of Christ, are entangled though to a less degree, in the same grievous snare, and practically discourage that which the Spirit of God so earnestly commends. So that a part of the inspired oracles, nearly as large as the whole of the New Testament, comes to be entirely neglected; or else furnishes, at most, only a few vague hopes and general lessons of warning; while its main purpose is overlooked, and the rich variety of Divine truth which it contains is uncared for and unexplored.[2]

Will you join me in reading, studying and “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15)—especially the prophetic areas—while making a personal commitment to avoid making claims which go beyond the clear teaching of that Word?

Copyright © 2015 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[1] For an introduction to the concepts of futurism and historicism, the following article by Dr. Thomas Ice may be helpful: “Consistent Biblical Futurism (Part 1).”

[2] Taken from Thomas Rawson Birks, Thoughts on the Times and Seasons of Sacred Prophecy (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1880).