Antichrist and the 'Times of the Gentiles', from Dispensational Truth or God's Plan and Purpose in the Ages by Clarence Larkin

Clarence Larkin

Antichrist and the 'Times of the Gentiles', from Dispensational Truth or God's Plan and Purpose in the Ages, 1920, Print, pp.115–16, Courtesy of the Australian Lutheran College Library

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A Schematic of the End Times

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Clarence Larkin (1850–1924) was a mechanical drafter and Baptist minister from Pennsylvania. His prophecy charts (of which this is an example) became influential among conservative evangelicals in the twentieth century.

Larkin espoused a theological position called ‘dispensationalism’. Dispensationalists argued that the Bible was a single, coherent narrative of God’s action through time. To understand the hidden meaning of Scripture as a whole, they thought it was necessary to understand how all its smaller, interlocking parts fitted together.

Dispensationalists thought Jesus was going to return soon. While they usually did not set specific dates for the Second Coming, they agreed that it would happen shortly—probably within their own lifetimes. They considered biblical prophecy to be ‘history written in advance’ (Larkin 1920: 5). They used the details of biblical prophecy to understand when and how the world would end.

This chart appeared alongside hundreds of others in Larkin’s book, Dispensational Truth. Its interweaving lines, Bible verse references, and bizarre figures aimed to make Revelation’s hidden meaning visible to the eyes.

Toward the bottom right of the chart stands an image of the ‘man of sin’ (labelled 'Anti-Christ') mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3–10. With small arrows, Larkin connects this image with two others: a horned creature bearing the caption ‘Daniel 7:7–8’ and a leopard-spotted, seven-headed, ten-horned image of the Beast of Revelation 13. In short, Larkin uses these images to argue that all three passages are describing the same figure: namely, the Antichrist, whose appearance on earth will occur just before Jesus returns. This ‘literal’ interpretation erases the distinctions between three very different parts of the Bible.

The chart presents a view of Gentile history from the time of the Tower of Babel to the future Millennial Kingdom of Christ. Its images, lines, and layout are precise—everything appears where it does for a reason. This chart creates a schematic view of the Bible’s relationship to history, and resembles a diagram of an early twentieth-century electrical device, such as a radio or phonograph. A visual map, the chart distills complex information into a densely coded, two-dimensional form.

 

References

Coates, Andrew T. 2018. What is Protestant Art? (Leiden: Brill)

Larkin, Clarence. 1920. Dispensational Truth (Fox Chase: Clarence Larkin Estate)

Pietsch, B. M. 2015. Dispensational Modernism (New York: Oxford Press)


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