Fr. Dwight Longenecker: Prophecies, Predictions, and Prognostications

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By Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Imaginative Conservative, December 30th, 2019

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. A graduate of Oxford University, he is the Pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Church, in Greenville, SC, and author of sixteen books including The Romance of ReligionThe Quest for the Creed, and Mystery of the Magi: The Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men. He contributes to many magazines, papers, and journals, including National Catholic Register, St Austin Review, Catholic Digest, and Intercollegiate Review. Visit his blog, listen to his podcasts, browse his books, and be in touch at


We are all fascinated by the future and imprisoned by the past—especially when “there is distress of nations and perplexity”—but we needn’t resort to occult tomfoolery or fall under the spell of a seer, preacher, or latter-day doomsday prophet. Instead the answer is to dwell in the present moment.

Dwight Longenecker

The preachers of my Evangelical youth were formed in the theology of Dispensationalism—a system for the interpretation of Scripture invented in the nineteenth century by an Englishman, John Nelson Darby. Dispensationalism was made popular amongst American Evangelicals through the widely used Scofield Reference Bible.

Dispensationalism teaches that the Bible can be understood as the revelation of God’s work in the world unfolding through progressive epochs (dispensations) of history. The connection between the epochs (and proof that there is a master plan) is Biblical prophecy.

This is nothing new. From the beginning of the Christian story theologians and teachers have traced the fulfillment of the Old Testament in the life of Christ. St. Matthew especially, is eager to point out how Jesus Christ’s life and ministry fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament.

However, the dispensationalists, with a tendency toward literalism, picked up the ball of Biblical prophecy and ran with it. If the Old Testament prophecies foretold the future life of Christ, then it seemed logical that the Bible might also hold the key to understanding our present age and it seemed certain that we could trace in the Bible hints, guesses, and warnings about future events. ….

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