John F. Walvoord:
the world’s foremost interpreter of biblical prophecy.
In this post I am going to draw attention to something that can be very challenging. The second half of this post consists of the bio of the very highly regarded John Walvoord. Many consider him the most esteemed voice in the field of bible prophecy today.
Here’s the challenge: What if we disagree with the conclusion of Mr. Walvoord on a certain prophetic passage? Is he always right? Can I, as someone who isn’t considered a ‘foremost interpreter of biblical prophecy’ have a better understanding of a prophetic text than he does?
I have sat under the teaching of men like this, considered their scholarly approach, and accepted they were wise enough to know the truth. I listened to them as they reasoned through the scriptures. I understood as they compared scripture with scripture and broke down the sentence structures in the original language. I used the same principles of interpretation they used to further my own studies. For many years, I repeated that same process. Many of us have done the same thing. We go through school, some advance to college, we listen to the wise input of our teachers and professors. We listen, take notes, pass tests, and our understanding is formed by our teachers.
We learn from and accept the lessons from our teachers as truth. This is true in all areas of study. But what if they were wrong–are wrong?
I have a lot of respect for Mr. Walvoord. I also believe he is mistaken in some of his interpretations. This post will not discuss any of those areas I disagree with. Those disagreements aren’t the issue of this post. The issue is–It’s okay to disagree! Just disagree with respect and accept the fact when you or I come to a conclusion about any passage in scripture; we might be wrong.
That is the important point I want you to consider. Not every great scholar comes to a correct conclusion. Sometimes, they make an error in their findings. I love what we read about the first leaders of the church.
The first church leaders:
Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
John 7:15 The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man attain such learning without having studied?”
The first verse is a reference to fishermen. John and Peter were working class men who didn’t have a higher education. They were unschooled and ordinary. Simpletons. Yet with the inspiration of the Spirit of God they wrote a large portion of the New Testament.
The second verse quoted above has the religious Jews rudely commenting about the uneducated carpenter named Jesus. You may have heard of him.
Here’s my last point: If you desire to know God, know his will and purpose for your life and to understand the scriptures. You can. You don’t need a higher education but you do need to put in a lot of hard work and study.
Jesus chose unlearned fishermen to lead his church.
2 Timothy 2:15
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Highly educated theologians should not intimidate you. They make mistakes in interpretation also. Study diligently. Apply sound and accepted study principles. Seek the truth and when you find it, preach it. But preach it with humility. You might be wrong and have to retract.
John F. Walvoord, long-time president of Dallas Theological Seminary, was one of the most prominent evangelical scholars of his generation. He is considered perhaps the world’s foremost interpreter of biblical prophecy.
John is perhaps best known for his bestselling work on Bible prophecy, Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis, which sold over 2 million copies and was printed in 16 languages. Shortly after the publication of the second, revised edition in 1990 Dr. Walvoord received a call from The White House requesting a copy. It made a powerful impression; more copies were requested almost immediately. Members of President George H.W. Bush’s White House Staff read it to deepen their understanding of events in the Middle East. A completed updated and revised version, coauthored by Dr. Mark Hitchcock, Armageddon, Oil and Terror, was released by Tyndale House in April 2007.
John was born May 10, 1910, in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to the Superintendent of Schools, John Garrett Walvoord and wife, Mary Flipse. Though reared a Presbyterian, and having memorized the catechisms and attended the church his father started in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, John did not cast his soul upon Christ for his eternal salvation until he heard Dr. William McCarroll at the Cicero Bible Church explain what salvation really was. After graduating from Racine High School, he attended Wheaton College in Illinois, graduating, where he played on the college football team and distinguished himself academically. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1931. That fall Walvoord entered the fledgling Dallas Seminary, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s of theology (Th.B, Th.M.) degrees, magna cum laude, in 1934 and doctorate in theology (Th.D.) in 1936. He went on to receive an M.A. in philosophy from Texas Christian University in 1945. Wheaton College awarded him a doctor of divinity (D.D.) in 1960; Liberty University conferred the Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.) on him in 1984.
Geraldine Dolores Lundgren, who would later become Mrs. John F. Walvoord, was born September 6, 1914 in Geneva, Illinois. After developing avenues of ministry in music and youth programs in her church, Geraldine continued her education at Wheaton College and Northern Illinois University. It was during this time that Geraldine’s sister, Harriet Lundgren, began dating Ellwood Evans, a student from Dallas Theological Seminary. One Christmas holiday, another theology student traveled with Ellwood as he headed north to visit Harriet. When they arrived, Ellwood made the simple introduction, “Geraldine, I want you to meet my friend John Walvoord.”
John accepted the invitation to stay for dinner before traveling on to his parents’ home in Wisconsin. Over the next several years more than a few letters and visits cultivated their friendship into a lifelong romance. He married Geraldine in 1939 in her hometown of Geneva, Illinois, and that same year supervised the building of their first home (a compact five rooms) in Fort Worth, Texas, where he also served as pastor of the Rosen Heights Presbyterian Church. Together they raised four sons: John Edward, James Randall, Timothy Peter, and Paul David.
John’s first book, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, was published in 1943. It was the first of more than 30 books on biblical theology and the Christian faith that he authored or co-authored over the next 60 years. He was a charter member of the Evangelical Theological Society, and served as president in 1954. For twelve years he also served on the revision committee for the New Scofield Reference Bible.
John was a member of the Dallas Theological Seminary faculty for 50 years, from 1936 to 1986. He served as president of Dallas Seminary from 1952 to 1986, and as chancellor until 2001. He continued to teach and preach until a few weeks before his death at the age of 92. Geraldine partnered in his Seminary ministry by launching and leading the Dallas Seminary Wives’ Fellowship in 1953. This educational ministry to the spouses of what was then an all-male student body continued under her leadership for more than 40 years.
Under Dr. Walvoord’s presidency, Dallas Theological Seminary enrollment grew from 300 to over 1,700, four major educational buildings were erected on campus, and the graduate degree programs increased from three to six. One of the world’s largest, the Seminary is recognized for its commitment to the inerrancy of the Scriptures, premillennial theology, and biblical preaching and teaching.
Dr. Walvoord is known worldwide for his evangelical scholarship in Christology, pneumatology (the doctrine of the Holy Spirit), and eschatology (prophecy and the end times). A committed and profound dispensationalist, the Bible was always at the heart of Dr. Walvoord’s life. He sums up its importance:
“The comprehensive sweep of the Bible, as it looks at history from God’s point of view and then presents the glorious future that awaits the child of God, gives the Christian a life of meaningful activity. It provides a system of values that transcends the materialism of our day, and it gives us a glorious hope of a world to come where there is much happiness.”