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Religion, Theology and Self-Improvement Sundays: What Is Prophecy? Part XIII

We continue with Minister Jabril Muhammad's commentary on "types". From his December 28, 1982 writing: " As we dig deeper into this concept of type, which is a part of the whole of God's gift, called prophecy, let us remember that the scholars' mistakes (and errors) have contributed mightily to the world's misunderstanding of the greatest subjects, or realities...

Minister Jabril Muhammad continues:

To continue the words of those two scholars (Angus-Green), as they appear in Dr. Pentecost's book:

"Expositors have often imagined correspondence where none in fact exists, and where, even if it did, there is nothing to prove a special Divine intent "In the words of Bishop Marsh, " To constitute one thing the type of another, as the term is generally understood in reference to Scripture, something more is wanted than mere resemblance. The former must not only resemble the latter, but must have been designed to resemble the latter. It must have been designed as prepatory to the latter. The type, as well as the anti-type, must have been preordained, and they must have been preordained as constituent parts of the same general scheme of Divine Providence. It is this previous design and this preordained connection which constitute the relation or type and anti-type."

The above is worth careful study, thought, or reflection of the deepest kind...

Dr. Pentecost then quotes another scholar who, he writes, not only defines a type carefully, but goes on to give a helpful distinction between a type and an allegory, which it is well to observe. He then quotes this authority; Charles T. Fritsch, "The definition which I propose for the word "type" in its theological sense is as follows: A type is an institution, historical event or person, ordained by God, which effectively prefigures some truth connected with Christianity."…

[my note: of course what Charles T. Fritsch means by Christianity may conflict with how others define that term but that is beyond the immediate scope of our quotation of his remarks, please keep that in mind as we continue]

Let us continue the quote: "Firstly, by defining the type as an institution, historical event or person, we are emphasizing the fact that the type must be meaningful and real in its own right."

In this respect, a type differs from an allegory…for an allegory is a fictitious narrative, or to put it less bluntly, in an allegory the historical truth of the narrative dealt with may or may not be accepted, whereas in typology, the fulfillment of an anti-type can only be understood in the light of the reality of the original type.

"Thirdly, the type is not only real and valid in its own right, but it is efficacious in its own immediate milieu. It can only effectively prefigure the anti type because it has inherent in it already at least some of the effectiveness which is to be fully realized in the anti-type."

"Fourthly, the most important characteristic of the type, as has come out in the preceding point, is the fact that it is predictive of some truth connected with Christianity, or of Christ Himself…Typology differs from prophecy in the strict sense of the term only in the means of prediction. Prophecy predicts mainly by means of the words, whereas typology predicts by institution, act or person."

Let us conclude the definition of the concept of types with two more references.

Dr. Pentecost quotes Fairbairn, "A type, as already explained and understood, necessarily possesses something of a prophetical character, and differs in form rather than in nature from what is usually designated prophecy. The one images or prefigures, while the other foretells, coming realities. In the one case, representative acts or symbols, in the other, verbal delineations, serve the purpose of indicating beforehand what God has designed to accomplish for His people in the approaching future. The difference is not such as to affect the essential nature of the two subjects."

Dr. Pentecost again quotes Angus-Green, who, he says, provides an adequate summary of the concept of type in this way:

"In the interpretation of all these types, and of history in its secondary or spiritual allusions, we use the same rules as interpreting parables and allegories properly so called; compare the history or type with the general truth, which both the type and the anti-type embody; expect agreement in several particulars, but not in all; and let the interpretation of each part harmonize with the design of the whole, and with the clear revelation of Divine doctrine given in other parts of the sacred volume."

"Cautions. -In applying these rules, it is important to remember that the inspired writers never destroyed the historical sense of Scripture to establish the spiritual nor did they find a hidden meaning in the words, but only in the facts of each passage; which meaning is easy, natural, and Scriptural; and they confined themselves to expositions illustrating some truth of practical or spiritual importance."

There is much more on this concept of types but we think this provides an excellent introduction to an important aspect of prophecy.

We are in the home stretch now and will now move right into how we can determine whether a prediction that actually happens as described is in fact a prophecy fulfilled.

Cedric Muhammad

Sunday, August 27, 2000

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