Revelation from the point of view of idealism

Psalm 19:7

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Revelation 19:10

10 Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

From Reformed Books Online

Idealist Commentaries on Revelation

“What is the Prophetic View of Idealism?

“Idealism is the view that the prophecies of the Revelation generally do not have historic referents (or have very few, such as the first and second comings of Christ), but are to be understood symbolically and spiritually (thus drawing spiritual ‘ideals’ from the book).  Idealism is most often conjoined with an Amillennial outlook.

“This view has become more popular in Reformed circles during the 1900’s.  See B.B. Warfield’s 4 page article below for the best, short, evangelical defense of this view. . . 

“Regarding the interpretation of Revelation, we [at Reformed Books Online] recommend a cross between Historicism and Idealism.”

BBWarfield meme2B. B. Warfield was a defender of Biblical inerrancy. He and A.A. Hodge wrote an influential book about this. According to, “his passion was to refute the liberal element within Presbyterianism and within Christianity at large.” In interpreting Revelation, he was an idealist. The short article linked below was helpful to me in understanding how to approach the genre of apocalypse as it relates to the Book of Revelation. This article is in a pdf format.

The Apocalypse

Chapter 44, Selected Shorter Writings II, pp.  651-654


The Revelation as comfort through all ages


Brothers and sisters, I found this passage truly edifying and so I offer it to you. Revelation – the Apocalypse – is for the Church in every age, I believe – for Jew and Gentile.

Acts 2:39

For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

Trésor découvert près de Gourdon (Saône-et-Loire), en 1845. Or, turquoise et grenats cloisonnés, fin du Ve-début du VIe siècle, photograph by Clio20

“The Holy Spirit, foreseeing, no doubt, that the Church of Rome would adulterate the truth by many ‘gross and grievous abominations’ (I use the words of the judicious Hooker); and that she would anathematize all who would not communicate with her, and denounce them as cut off from the body of Christ and from hope of everlasting salvation; foreseeing, also that Rome would exercise a wide and dominant sway for many generations, by boldly iterated assertions of Unity, Antiquity, Sanctity, and Universality; foreseeing also, that these pretensions would be supported by the Civil sword of many secular Governments, among which the Roman Empire would be divided at its dissolution; and that Rome would thus be enabled to display herself to the world in an august attitude of Imperial power, and with the dazzling splendour of temporal felicity: foreseeing also that the church of Rome would captivate the Imaginations of men by the fascinations of Art, allied with Religion; and would ravish their senses and rivet their admiration by gaudy colours, and stately pomp, and prodigal magnificence: foreseeing also that she would beguile their credulity by Miracles and Mysteries, Apparitions and Dreams, Trances and Ecstasies, and would appeal to their evidence in support of her strange doctrines: foreseeing likewise, that she would enslave men, and, much more women, by practicing on their affections, and by accommodating herself, with dexterous pliancy, to their weaknesses, relieving them from the burden of thought and from the perplexity of doubt, by proffering them the aid of Infallibility; soothing the sorrows of the mourner by dispensing pardon and promising peace to the departed; removing the load of guilt from the oppressed conscience by the ministries of the Confessional, and by nicely-poised compensations for sin; and that she would flourish for many centuries in proud and prosperous impunity, before her sins would reach to heaven, and come in remembrance before God (Rev.xvi. 19; xviii. 5): foreseeing also, that many generations of men would thus be tempted to fall from the faith, and to become victims of deadly error; and that they who clung to the truth would be exposed to cozening flatteries, and fierce assaults and savage tortures from her: – The Holy Spirit, we say, foreseeing all these things in His Divine knowledge, and being the Ever-Blessed Teacher, Guide, and Comforter of the Church, was graciously pleased to provide a heavenly antidote for these wide-spread and long-enduring evils, by dictating the Apocalypse.”

Christopher Wordsworth

Union With Rome – Chapter 3

HT: Meg, The Antipas Chronicles, who introduced me to Wordsworth whose work can be found at the European Institute of Protestant Studies