Tags : :
"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, 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 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,