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Nov 16 10 9:22 PM

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"Preterism! I Can't Believe It!"

One of my key reasons for believing in the pre-tribulation rapture is the fact all other views are always trying to undermine pre-tribulationism. Up until now, the most vocal group of opponents has been the post-trib and pre-wrath folks. I'm amazed to find preterism now on the attack, gaining ground by mostly converting pre-tribbers.

What is preterism? This theory argues that all Bible prophecy has been fulfilled; it states that nothing remains on the prophetic calendar. According to preterism, events like the rise of the Antichrist, the tribulation, the rapture, and the Day of the Lord all took place around 70 AD, the year the Romans invaded Jerusalem and destroyed the second Temple.

I just cannot understand how anyone can follow a preterist line of thinking in light of current world events. As in many cases, pride is one of the most common reasons people begin following doctrinal error. They believe that they are part of a special group that has discovered a hidden truth. Never mind the fact that millions of people have joined them in supporting their folly.

Up until now, I've largely been ignoring preterism because it seemed equivalent to the Flat Earth Society. Well, I can't stand by and watch error run free, so it looks like I'm going to have to add preterism to the list of erroneous rapture views that I need to actively refute.

The heart of this error is based on Jesus' statement that "this generation shall not pass, till all things be fulfilled" (Mat 24:34). It seems easy enough to claim Jesus was speaking about a first-century generation; however, logic ends there when one contemplates the fulfillment of all Bible prophecy.

In order to make 70 AD the magic year, we would have to delete dozens of prophecies that were never fulfilled. When was the Gospel preached to all the nations? When was the Mark of the Beast implemented? What about China's 200-million-man army? When did 100-pound hailstones fall from the sky? And what date was it when the Euphrates River dried up?

The questions are endless. Why did we have the rebirth of Israel? If Jerusalem was forever removed from being the burdensome stone, why has it now returned to that status? When did all the Jews shout, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord," as Jesus said they would?

After being so strict in their interpretation of Matthew 24:34, preterists then run roughshod over many clear statements of Scripture. They say that although the "resurrection" happened in 70 AD, the bodies of Christians were left in the grave.

Preterists take the dangerous step of spiritualizing all passages of Scripture that relate to the nation of Israel, and claim that these refer to the church, the "New Israel." They teach that the "old earth," which Scripture says will pass away, is the Old Covenant. The new heaven and new earth, they say, is the New Covenant, and the "elements," which Scripture says will burn with fervent heat when this happens, are the "elements of the law."

Preterism produces some bizarre explanations for why the world is still experiencing suffering and calamity. One explanation I ran across cited God's need for population control as the reason for mankind's suffering. Here is what one preterist author wrote:

"I believe that people are born and people die. Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall. God is the providential population controller. He brings famine, disease, natural catastrophes, wars and tumults. One-third of the population of Europe was destroyed by the Black Plague in the early part of this millennium. Eight hundred fifty thousand were killed in the 1556 earthquake in the Shanghai province of China. Two million were killed in World War II. Thirteen million were killed under Stalin and 6 million under Hitler. God is very equipped to control population."

By: Todd Strandberg

From another source:

The preterist interpretation of Scripture regards the book of Revelation as a symbolic picture of early church conflicts, not a description of what will occur in the end times. Preterism denies the future prophetic quality of most of the book of Revelation. In varying degrees, preterism combines the allegorical and symbolic interpretation with the concept that Revelation does not deal with specific future events. The preterist movement essentially teaches that all the end-times prophecies of the New Testament were fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Romans attacked and destroyed Jerusalem and Israel.

The letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 were written to real churches in the first century, and they have practical applications for churches today. But chapters 6-22, if interpreted in the same way as the rest of Bible prophecy, were written about events that are yet future. There is no reason to interpret the prophecies of Revelation allegorically. Previously fulfilled prophecies were fulfilled literally. For example, all of the Old Testament verses predicting the first coming of Christ were fulfilled literally in Jesus. Christ came at the time that He was predicted to come (Daniel 9:25-26). Christ was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). He suffered and died for our sins (Isaiah 53:5-9). These are but a few examples of the hundreds of Old Testament prophecies God gave to the prophets that are recorded in Scripture and that were fulfilled literally. It simply does not make sense to try to allegorize unfulfilled prophecy or understand unfulfilled prophecy in any other way than by a normal reading.

Furthermore, preterism is entirely inconsistent in its interpretation of the book of Revelation. According to the preterist view of the end times, chapters 6-18 of Revelation are symbolic and allegorical, not describing literal events. However, chapter 19, according to preterists, is to be understood literally. Jesus Christ will literally and physically return. Then, chapter 20 is again interpreted allegorically by preterists, while chapters 21-22 are understood literally, at least in part, in that there will truly be a new heaven and new earth. No one denies that Revelation contains amazing and sometimes confusing visions. No one denies that Revelation describes some things figuratively. However, to arbitrarily deny the literal nature of select portions of Revelation is to destroy the basis of interpreting any of the book literally. If the seals, trumpets, bowls, witnesses, 144000, beast, false prophet, millennial kingdom, etc., are allegorical or symbolic, on what basis do we claim that the second coming of Christ and the new earth are literal? That is the failure of preterism—it leaves the interpretation of Revelation to the opinions of the interpreter. Instead, we are to read it, believe it, and obey it—literally and exactly.

A Description of the Different Preterism Belief Systems:

Partial Preterism

Partial Preterism, which is the older of the two views, holds that prophecies such as the destruction of Jerusalem, the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, and the advent of the Day of the Lord as a "judgment-coming" (Last Judgment) of Christ were fulfilled c. AD 70 when the Roman general (and future Emperor) Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple, putting a permanent stop to the daily animal sacrifices. It identifies "Babylon the Great" (Revelation 17-18) with the ancient pagan City of Rome or Jerusalem. Partial Preterism is also known by several other names: Orthodox Preterism, Historic Preterism, Hypo-Preterism (a derrogatory term coined and used nearly exclusively by one major Full Preterist site) and Moderate Preterism.

Most (but not all) Partial Preterists also believe the term Last Days refers not to the last days of planet Earth or the last days of humankind, but rather to the last days of the Mosaic covenant which God had exclusively with national Israel until the year AD 70. As God came in judgment upon various nations in the Old Testament, Christ also came in judgment against those in Israel who rejected him. The "last days," however, are to be distinguished from the "last day," which is considered still future and entails the Second Coming of Jesus, the Resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous dead physically from the grave in like manner to Jesus' physical resurrection, the Final Judgment, and the creation of a literal (rather than covenantal) New Heavens and a New Earth free from the curse of sin and death which was brought about by the fall of Adam and Eve. Thus partial preterists are in agreement and conformity with the historic ecumenical creeds of the Church and articulate the doctrine of the resurrection held by the early Church Fathers. Partial preterists hold that the New Testament predicts and depicts many "comings" of Christ. They contend that the phrase Second Coming means second of a like kind in a series, for the Scriptures record other "comings" even before the judgment-coming in AD70. This would eliminate the AD70 event as the "second" of any series, let alone the second of a series in which the earthly, physical ministry of Christ is the first. Partial Preterists believe that the new creation comes in redemptive progression as Christ reigns from His heavenly throne, subjugating His enemies, and will eventually culminate in the destruction of physical death, the "last enemy" (1 Cor 15:20-24). If there are any enemies remaining, the resurrection event cannot have occurred.

Nearly all Partial Preterists hold to amillennialism or postmillennialism. Many postmillennial Partial Preterists are also theonomic in their outlook.

Full Preterism

Full Preterism differs from Partial Preterism in that Full Preterists believe all prophecy was fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem, including the resurrection of the dead and Jesus' Second Coming or Parousia. Full Preterism is also known by several other names: Consistent Preterism, Covenant Eschatology, Hyper-Preterism (a term used by opponents of the full preterist position and considered to be derogatory by full preterists), and Pantelism (the term "Pantelism" comes from the Greek and means, "all things having been accomplished"). Full Preterism holds that Jesus's Second Coming is to be viewed not as a future-to-us bodily return, but rather a "return" manifested by the physical destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple in AD 70 by foreign armies in a manner similar to various Old Testament descriptions of God coming to destroy other nations in righteous judgment. Full Preterism also holds that the Resurrection of the dead did not entail the raising of the physical body, but rather the resurrection of the soul from the "place of the dead," known as Sheol (Hebrew) or Hades (Greek). As such, the righteous dead obtained a spiritual and substantial body for use in the heavenly realm, and the unrighteous dead were cast into the Lake of Fire. Some Full Preterists believe this judgment is ongoing and takes effect upon the death of each individual (Heb. 9:27). The New Heavens and the New Earth are also equated with the fulfillment of the Law in AD 70 and are to be viewed in the same manner by which a Christian is considered a "new creation" upon his or her conversion.

Influences of Preterism within Christian thought

Partial Preterism is generally considered to be an historic orthodox interpretation as it affirms all items of the ecumenical Creeds of the Church. Still, Partial Preterism is not the majority view among American denominations founded after the 16th century and meets with significant vocal opposition, especially by those denominations which espouse Dispensationalism. Additionally, concerns are expressed by Dispensationalists that Partial Preterism logically leads to an acceptance of Full Preterism, a concern which is denied by Partial Preterists.

Although Full Preterism is viewed as heretical by many, this condemnation is not universal. Many of those who condemn Full Preterism do so not based solely upon the historic creeds of the church (which would exclude this view), but also from biblical passages that they interpret to condemn a past view of the Resurrection or the denial of a physical resurrection/transformation of the body, doctrines which many Christians (but not all) believe to be essential to the faith. Critics of full preterism point to the Apostle Paul's condemnation of the doctrine of Hymaneus and Philetus (2 Tim 2:17-18), which they regard as analogous to full preterism. Adherents of Full Preterism, however, dispute this assertion by pointing out that Paul's condemnation was written during a time in which the Resurrection was yet future (i.e., pre-AD 70). Their critics would respond that as long as the Resurrection has not happened then the condemnation applies.

Furthermore, Full Preterists reject the authority of the Creeds to condemn their view, stating that the Creeds were written by uninspired and fallible men and are simply in error on this point and need to be reformed. A growing movement, there has been a strong push by Full Preterists for acceptance as another valid Christian eschatological view; however, to date, no major conservative denomination or group has officially accepted this view as normative, though several have issued a condemnation.

Preterism versus Futurism

Like most theological disputes, the divide between Preterism and its opposite, Futurism, is over how certain passages of Scripture should be interpreted. Futurists assert that Preterists have spiritualized prophecies they see as describing literal, visible events, whereas Preterists believe that Futurists do not take certain passages such as Matthew 16:28 literally enough and do not give sufficient weight to scriptures that seem to show that the first century Church believed that a major eschatological event would certainly take place in their lifetime. Many "time texts" in the New Testament appear to indicate this, e.g., Matthew 10:23, Matthew 16:27-28, Matthew 24:34, Matthew 26:64, and Rev. 1:1-3. Full Preterists would assert that there are passages which also place the Second Coming and Resurrection at that time (Dan. 7:18; 12:1-7). Partial Preterists assert that there are also long-term indicators and futuristic goals of the Consummation that include the complete eradication of sin and the restoration of the Earth from its fallen state.

Your bro in Christ,


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Jul 2 11 7:14 AM

For Example:  The following article on Mt.24:34 by Thomas Ice, PhD.
" Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place." - Matthew 24:34

The last few months have been a time in which I have been involved in a couple of debates with preterists. Preterism teaches that most, if not all, of the Book of Revelation and the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24- 25; Mark 13; Luke 21) were fulfilled in conjunction with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in a.d. 70. If this notion is granted, then almost all of Bible prophecy is not to be anticipated in the future, but is past history. Their false scheme springs forth from a misinterpretation of Matthew 24:34 (see also Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32), by which they launch an upside-down view of eschatology, which does not look to the future but instead gazes at the past.

Preterist View

Preterist Gary DeMar says, " the generation that was in existence when Jesus addressed His disciples would not pass away until all the events that preceded verse 34 came to pass." [1] In contrast with fellow preterist, Dr. Kenneth Gentry, DeMar believes that this passage requires that all of Matthew 24 and 25 must have been fulfilled in some way by a.d. 70 through the Roman invasion and destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.[2] DeMar says, " Every time ' this generation' is used in the New Testament, it means, without exception, the generation to whom Jesus was speaking." [3] DeMar' s assertion is simply not true! " This generation" in Hebrews 3:10 clearly refers to the generation of Israelites that wandered in the wilderness for 40 years during the Exodus.

How To Find The Correct View

But how do we know that almost all of the other New Testament uses of " this generation" refer to Christ' s contemporaries? We learn this by going and examining how each is used in their context. For example, Mark 8:12 says, " And sighing deeply in His spirit [Jesus is speaking], He said, ' Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.' " Why do we conclude that " this generation," in this passage refers to Christ' s contemporaries? We know this because the referent in this passage is to Christ' s contemporaries, who were seeking for a sign from Jesus. Thus, it refers to Christ' s contemporaries, because of the controlling factor of the immediate context.

When interpreting the Bible you cannot just say, as DeMar and many preterists do, that because something means X . . . Y . . . Z in other passages that it has to mean that in a given verse.[4] NO! You must make your determination from the passage under discussion and how it is used in that particular context. Context is the most important factor in determining the exact meaning or referent under discussion.[5] That is how one is able to realize that most the other uses of " this generation" refer to Christ' s contemporaries.

Matthew 23:36 says, " Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation." To whom does " this generation" refer? In this context, " this generation" refers to Christ' s contemporaries because of contextual support. " This generation" is governed or controlled grammatically by the phrase " all these things." All these things refer to the judgments that Christ pronounces in Matthew 22- 23. So we should be seeing that in each instance of " this generation," the use is determined by what it modifies in its immediate context. The scope of use of every occurrence of this generation is determined in the same way.

The same is true for Hebrews 3:10, which says, " Therefore I was angry with this generation." " This generation" is governed or controlled grammatically by the contextual reference to those who wandered in the wilderness for forty years during the Exodus.

The Correct View

Now why does " this generation" in Matthew 24:34 (see also Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32), not refer to Christ' s contemporaries? Because the governing referent to " this generation" is " all these things." Since Jesus is giving an extended prophetic discourse of future events, one must first determine the nature of " all these things" prophesied in verses 4 through 31 to know what generation Christ is referencing. Since " all these things" did not take place in the first century then the generation that Christ speaks of must be future. Christ is saying that the generation that sees " all these things" occur will not cease to exist until all the events of the future tribulation are literally fulfilled. Frankly, this is both a literal interpretation and one that was not fulfilled in the first century. Christ is not ultimately speaking to His contemporaries, but to the generation to whom the signs of Matthew 24 will become evident. Dr. Darrell Bock, in commenting on the parallel passage to Matthew 24 in Luke' s Gospel concurs:

What Jesus is saying is that the generation that sees the beginning of the end, also sees its end. When the signs come, they will proceed quickly; they will not drag on for many generations. It will happen within a generation. . . . The tradition reflected in Revelation shows that the consummation comes very quickly once it comes. . . . Nonetheless, in the discourse's prophetic context, the remark comes after making comments about the nearness of the end to certain signs. As such it is the issue of the signs that controls the passage's force, making this view likely. If this view is correct, Jesus says that when the signs of the beginning of the end come, then the end will come relatively quickly, within a generation.[6]

The whole preterist argument goes up in smoke since they have reversed the interpretative process by declaring first that " this generation" has to refer to Christ' s contemporaries, thus all these things had to be fulfilled in the first century. When one points out that various passages in Matthew 24 were not fulfilled, preterists merely repeat their mantra of " this generation," so that all these things had to be fulfilled in the first century.

I do not think that any of the events in Matthew 24:4-31 occurred in the first century. I will now look at the most significant event in the passage- the Second Coming of Christ in verses 27 through 31.

Did Jesus Return in a.d. 70?

Once again, preterists argue that it had to happen in the first century because of " this generation." So preterists use their very active imaginations, with a little help from Josephus, to try to explain why these passages do not speak about Christ' s second coming.

Verse 29 says, " But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken." Dr. Gentry says, " I will argue that this passage speaks of the a.d. 70 collapse of geo-political Israel. Let us note that there is biblical warrant for speaking of national catastrophe in terms of cosmic destruction." [7]

If these are literal signs in the heaven then they have not happened in the past. Are they literal? YES! First, this was one of the reasons why the sun, moon and stars were created. Genesis 1:14 says that, on the fourth day, God created the sun, moon and stars " for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years." What bigger event than the second coming of Christ would demand a global sign? In this passage Jesus is reporting what will actually happen in history. It will be a supernatural event, yet Dr. Gentry and other preterists want to dumb down this event with their naturalistic view that this has already happened.

Second, just as the sun was literally darkened at the crucifixion of Jesus as a sign, so will it be at His return. Third, the burden of proof is on preterists who do not take this literally as to why they don' t. They need to come up with something more convincing than the mantra of " this generation" requires it, because I have shown that it does not. The point of the passage is that only God can control His creation and use it as a global sign that He is being announced as the returning, glorious Lord of all creation, into an environment of unbelief.

Matthew 24:30 says, " and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." Dr. Gentry says, " This verse, along with all other verses leading up to if from Matthew 24:1, applies to the a.d. 70 destruction of the Temple." [8] If this prophecy has something to do with the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70, then Dr. Gentry has not been able to tell us exactly what it is.

I agree with Greek scholar, A. T. Robertson, that the sign is the coming of the Son of Man Himself.[9] The first sentence would be rendered as follows: " and then will appear the sign, which is the Son of Man in heaven." This is called in Greek grammar the appositional use of the genitive case. The coming of the Lord Himself is the sign, which was the very point he made to the high priest in Matthew 26:64 when He told them that they would see Him " coming on the clouds of heaven." This is what the angle told Christ' s disciples in Acts 1:11 after watching Jesus being taken up to heaven in a cloud, that " This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." This is why the next time Jesus comes, it will not be some " signless sign" that did not actually exist in the form of the Roman army, but instead the visible, bodily, physical return of Christ that mirrors His ascension.

The next part of verse 30 says, " then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." Why will they mourn, because they will see the undeniable sign of the returning Christ. Dr. Gentry says, that this merely refers to the Jewish tribes of Israel in a.d. 70.[10] NO! This is a universal term used of global unbelievers. Every time this plural phrase is used in the parallel Book of Revelation it clearly refers to Gentiles. For example in Revelation 13:7 it speaks of " every tribe and people and tongue and nation." Every use in the Old Testament of " all the tribes of the earth" has a universal meaning in the Septuagint. The Old Testament uses the term " all the tribes of Israel" (about 25 times) when it wants to refer to the Jewish tribes.

Most importantly, the verse goes on to say, " they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." It says, " they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky." The text says, " they will see the Son of Man." This has to be a reference to the visible, bodily, physical return of Jesus Christ to planet earth! This did not happen in a.d. 70? Josephus does not record it. This cannot refer to a symbolic, naturalistic interpretation that somehow Jesus returned in conjunction with the Roman army in the first century. Jesus said, " they will see the Son of Man."

Further, Jesus returns on the clouds, just like Acts 1 said He would. He will return with power and great glory. The glory refers to His visible, Shechinah Glory cloud that has been God' s trademark throughout history.


If Jesus returned in a.d. 70, as preterists say, then, on what day did He return? Since this is a past event, we should be able to know the exact day our Lord supposedly returned and fulfilled this passage. I have never read in any preterist material, any of them who can tell me the day and exact manner or event that supposedly was Christ' s return in a.d. 70. In fact, this was such a non-event in terms of church history, that it was not until the seventeenth century that we have an extant record of anyone suggesting anything like a preterist view that refers Matthew 24:27 and 30 to a.d. 70. Maranatha!


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