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TitleIslamic Terror in the Light of Historicism
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and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking
great things.

Historicists generally agreed that the four animals or beasts in Daniel’s
vision represented a succession of world powers that ruled over the
Promised Land—that the winged lion represented Babylon, the bear
Medo-Persia, the winged leopard Greece, and the fourth iron-toothed
beast Rome. They also agreed that the ten horns represented ten nations
that were formed from the remnants of Rome when its empire collapsed.

Disagreement over the ‘little horn’

But the ‘little horn’ of Daniel 7:8 puzzled them—even though Daniel
7:24-25 went on to explain that this horn or kingdom would arise after
the other ten, and would be different from them:

24 As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise: and another
shall arise after them; and he shall be different from the former, and he shall put
down three kings.

25 He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of
the Most High; and he shall think to change the times and the law; and they
shall be given into his hand until a time and times and half a time.

The identity of this ‘little horn’ that was such an enemy of God’s
people provoked disagreement. In the early 1500s, Calvin in his
Commentary on Daniel Lecture Thirty Seventh, acknowledged that there
were different interpretations put forward by scholars:

. . . the Pope, and others the Turk . . . Julius Caesar

and the other Caesars who succeeded him . . .

Historicist scholars still held a variety of opinions two centuries later
in the 1700s when Matthew Henry wrote this in his Commentary:

Whether those visions look as far forward as the end of

time, or whether they were to have a speedy

accomplishment, is hard to say, nor are the most judicious

interpreters agreed concerning it. . . . Now the question

is, Who is this enemy, whose rise, reign, and ruin, are

foretold? Interpreters are not agreed. Some will have . .

. Antiochus, and show the accomplishment of all this in

the history of the Maccabees; so Junius, Piscator,

Polanus, Broughton, and many others: but others will have

. . . Julius Caesar, and the succeeding emperors (says

Calvin), the antichrist, the papal kingdom (says Mr.

Joseph Mede) . . . Others . . . the Turkish empire; so

Luther, Vatablus, and others.

After citing these four opposing views about the ‘little horn’ held by
respected commentators, Matthew Henry admitted that he himself could
not decide in favor of one viewpoint against the others.

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Why so much uncertainty? Perhaps, because the actual events foretold
in Daniel 7:25 had not yet taken place. As noted above, prophecy can be
very difficult to understand before the foretold events take place.

If that is the case, then since another quarter millennium has passed,
might we now be in a better position to identify those events?

Luther Saw “Mohammad or the Turk” as the ‘little horn’

Before examining those events, it will be helpful to look more closely
at Luther’s interpretation. Along with some other historicists Martin
Luther saw the ‘little horn’ of Daniel 7:25 as “the Turk”—the Islamic
empire.

Carol A. Newsom, Professor of Old Testament at Emory’s Candler
School of Theology, writes in her commentary on Daniel that “the ninth-
century Iberian Mozarab scholar Paulus Alvarus argued that Muhammad
was the eleventh horn of the fourth beast in Dan 7:8, as he had uprooted
the Franks, Greeks, and Goths . . . After the fall of Constantinople in
1453 to Muslim Turkish armies, Western Christians outside of Iberia, as
well, began to identify the little horn with the Turkish invaders; Luther
had argued that the antichrist was the pope, but in later writings and
sermons he clarified that one should also interpret Muhammad to be the
little horn in Dan 7:8.”

Luther wrote:

In the seventh chapter [of Daniel], begin the visions and

prophecies of the future kingdoms . . . The four kingdoms

. . . in the four beasts.

. . . his attention centres on the fourth beast, the Roman

Empire . . .

Daniel here . . . portrays this Roman Empire in such a way

that it should first be broken up into ten kingdoms.

These are the ten ‘horns’: Syria, Egypt, Asia [Minor],

Greece, [North] Africa, Spain, Gaul, Italy, Germany,

England . . .

He [Daniel] also indicates that one small horn shall knock

off three among the top ten horns—meaning Mohammad or the

Turk . . .

(from Luther’s Preface to Daniel in the 1960 American

edition of his Works, 35:299-300, as quoted by Rev. Prof.

Dr. Francis Nigel Lee in his article “Luther on Islam and

the Papacy.”)

Luther went on to add:

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fulfilled during the first century. Preterism says, in effect, ‘Don’t worry
about the “man of sin” or the antichrist or the “beast” or the fierce ruler!
They all came and went centuries ago.’

Or, from the very popular dispensationalist viewpoint, which says, in
effect, ‘Don’t worry about the “man of sin” or the antichrist or the
“beast” or the fierce ruler! They won’t come until the Tribulation—after
the Rapture—when you will be safely in heaven.’

Only Historicism Warns of the Clear and Present Danger

Only historicism presents the “man of sin,” the antichrist, the “beast”
and the fierce ruler as a clear and present danger, a very real danger
facing Christians today.

Not that I claim any special authority for my opinions or the
interpretations offered in this book; I certainly don’t pretend to know
anything more than what the average Bible reader can learn from reading
the Scriptures and following current events in the light of world history.
And I stand ready to be corrected by the outworking of events, or by
those who have greater insight.

But this book, NeoHistoricism, attempts to recall the wisdom of the
historicists—Luther, Calvin, Hus, Wycliffe, Tyndale, Wesley, Knox, Sir
Isaac Newton, Roger Williams, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry,
Henry Grattan Guinness, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and others—and to
apply their insights to the very real threats facing Christians now in the
21st Century.

Just as Martin Luther wrote of the sexual immorality and corruption in
the Vatican and the churches of his day, so we must face the clergy sex
abuse and the ‘politically correct’ acceptance of homosexual conduct and
heterosexual couples living together outside of marriage that is so
common in many churches today.

Just as a number of the historicists named above identified Islam as an
enemy of God foretold in Scripture, so we must face the fact that today’s
Islamic terror attacks are not a modern fluke of circumstances, but rather
a fulfillment of prophecy.

This knowledge will help equip us to face these challenges in the way
that the Bible tells us to, and to put our trust—not in religious or political
leaders who reassure us they have everything under control—but, rather,
in the soon coming King of Kings who inspired the Bible.

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