Contending For The Faith

September 21, 2009

The Dilemma of the Partial-Preterist: Inconsistency

Filed under: doctrine,Preterism — Lynda O @ 11:06 am

Here I refer to “partial-preterists,” those Christians who reject the futurist view of scripture yet recognize that Christ has not yet returned.

Such an individual rejects the futurist view, citing the common preterist objection:  the Revelation text says that these things must soon take place (Revelation 1:1).  Therefore, since 2,000 years have since happened, these words could not possibly have been referring to still future events. So, since the text says these events must soon take place, the events described must have happened in the first century.

Yet the partial-preterist recognizes that Christ has (obviously) not yet returned–so that part, the return of Christ, is still future even though the events have already happened.  Only problem is, the same book of Revelation also tells us that  Christ Himself is soon returning:

  • Revelation 22:12 — “Behold, I am coming soon!”
  • Revelation 22:20 –He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

So which is it?  Past or future?  The partial-preterist on the one hand says that the “these things” to come soon must have already occurred, but on the other hand says that Christ’s promised “Yes I am coming soon” really wasn’t all that “soon” since 2,000 years have passed.  The position ends up confused by this obvious inconsistency.  If both the events (“what must soon take place”) and the return of Christ are said to occur soon, then either 1) BOTH the events and Christ’s return did occur in the first century, or 2) the human definition and understanding of “soon” is incorrect and neither the events nor Christ’s return has yet happened.  These are the only two logical conclusions.  Consider the two texts together, the prologue to Revelation (Revelation 1) and the epilogue (Revelation 22), and the clear meaning is that the “what must soon take place” is connected to Christ’s return, that all of the events go together.

The full-preterist (hyper-preterist) deals with the full implications of the dilemma logically, and opts for choice number 1.  At least such people are consistent in recognizing that “coming soon” in the text must refer to both the events and Christ’s return.  The futurist is likewise consistent, and opts for choice number 2:  the human definition and understanding of “soon” is incorrect and therefore neither of the “soon” predicted things have yet happened.

In this textual consideration, the futurist recognizes the doctrine of imminence, that Christ could return at any time — and its corollary, that from God’s perspective a day is as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day (2 Peter 3:8).

A side note here:  to those scoffers who then would apply that verse to an interpretation of Genesis 1’s “day,” I would point out that the context of 2 Peter 3 is quite clear.  Peter’s words about “a thousand years are like a day” are specifically in the context of the surrounding verses, which answer the scoffers who say “where is His promised coming?” — the very reasoning of preterists who conclude that “soon” could not mean 2,000+ years.

The inconsistencies of the partial preterist position continue to astound me.  Simple logic should explain that the “coming soon” must refer both to the events and Christ’s return. So either both the “coming soon” events have already happened, or they haven’t.  How can one say that the one promise of “coming soon” must have happened in the first century, but that the other “coming soon” event has an entirely different meaning?


April 10, 2009

Regarding the Preterist Error

Filed under: doctrine,eschatology,Preterism — Lynda O @ 7:25 am
Tags: ,

Concerning the Preterist Error

Note, added 5-15-09:  The AntiPreterist Blog advocates Bullinger’s UltraDispensationalism, and associated heretical ideas.  I do not endorse this blog due to these issues.  The following is my observations from actual anti-Preterist articles that do not espouse UltraDispensationalism.

I just read through the last several months of blogs from the “Anti-Preterist Blog,”  a lot of good information and observations, and it continues to help me sort out an issue I have, with professing Christians that have overall bad and wrong theology on apparently everything except the basic soteriology (the doctrine of justification by faith and the “doctrines of grace” generally). I have a specific individual in mind, a local church pastor, though I’m sure there are many like-minded individuals, even other such pastors — and yet this makes the issue personal. It is one thing to argue and debate the issue in the abstract blogosphere, and an entirely different matter to see the error weekly in your own community.  The personal difficulty comes in finding the proper balance between being nice and civil to the person individually, while rejecting his teaching and affirming that he clearly shows complete incompetence in handling God’s word, that he does not know how to interpret or teach the Bible and ought not presume to teach others. The individual in question is a “partial preterist,” who believes that all Bible prophecy has been fulfilled except the return of Christ with immediate judgement and bodily resurrection. That does separates him from the “hyper-preterist” position often described in the anti-preterist’s blog, and makes a world of difference between Christian and heretic.

Yet I must agree that the same hermeneutical error, of spiritualizing the Bible to mean whatever one wants it to mean, is behind both forms of preterism. When we leave the path of solid biblical interpretation, we might as well just throw out the Bible since it has no objective meaning. Thus this one who has left the path of proper hermeneutics (assuming he ever started on the proper path to begin with, which I don’t know) also came up with the following biblically unsound ideas:

  • Genesis 1-2 is poetry, substitutes progressive creation, twists Hebrews to come up with an unending seventh day
  • no distinction between the “angel of the Lord” and standard created angels; since Hosea said Jacob wrestled with an angel, that must mean an actual created angel
  • Daniel’s 70th week occurred in the first century (the first half being Christ’s ministry, the second half the war against Jerusalem in A.D. 70)
    the tribulation happened then as well
  • denial of the rapture itself as some far-out “Left Behind” heresy
  • Revelation fits into some obtuse amillennial/preterist scheme of past and/or present events such that the woman on the beast in Revelation 17 is apostate Israel
  • Millennial passages throughout Isaiah and elsewhere represent the triumphant Church Age and the gospel going forth

The really troubling part is that the unsound pastor really believes all of this, and yet also apparently believes he is Reformed and honoring God’s word as “sola scriptura” along with all the other “solas.” Now, I realize that the Reformers did not reform all areas of doctrine, but only soteriology, and kept the Catholic ideas concerning eschatology and ecclesiology. Yet even they affirmed the truth of Genesis 1, and believed some form of non-preterist eschatology, at least to the extent that they saw the Pope as anti-Christ, not a preterist-version 1st century Nero. As this recent blog  “Sola Scriptura and The Hyper-Preterist Dilemma” points out, though, when someone rejects the historical, contextual method of interpretation, “they render the Scriptures of none effect–thus disabling the effectiveness of Sola Scriptura. The Bible alone is useless if the student cannot understand what is being taught.”

Another interesting observation, which I can also see, is the preterist anti-supernatural attitude. In “The Unbelief of Preterism,” Brian Simmons observes:

As I wrote in my last article, much of Preterist theorizing arises from the a priori notion that there must be a “perfectly logical explanation” for what is commonly viewed as supernatural. That’s just the problem, though. Preterism stands in the the wisdom of men, and not the power of God. In their effort to be “logical,” they overthrow anything that seems out of line with the established laws of the natural world.

and, from “The Infidelity of Preterism“:

What is Preterism, really, but the outworking of a latent skepticism, which seeks to find a “perfectly logical explanation” for everything? Because they do not believe it possible for the Son of Man to literally return in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, literally attended by all His holy angels, they seek a more reasonable explanation: one which leaves revelation stripped of its supernatural elements, and offers an interpretation which satisfies the incredulity of the scholastics.

How well this fits in with the pastor who has such a problem with God’s supernaturally creating the world in six ordinary days, and generally thinks of himself as well-educated in the sciences. Considering that this pastor never actually went to seminary but has only a secular science-type degree and “self-taught” Christianity, it shouldn’t be all that surprising after all. The naturalistic tendencies of man, giving great “power” to so-called science, bring about a real disconnect between the Bible and reality. This preterist mindset treats the Bible as allegorical and “spiritual” and at some “higher level reality” than ordinary people, and limits God to some other realm unrelated to this world’s real origins a few thousand years ago and real history since then, including the Scriptural understanding of “the times of the Gentiles” and the status of the nations and Israel as they really are. He fails to notice the very literally fulfilled scriptures regarding Christ’s first coming, focusing on this present “realized millennium” of a glorious church as seriously making an impact in this world system, when the actual course of history should make the truth plain enough. But our world’s actual history is really bound up in the actual, literal revelation from God to us in the Bible regarding the past, present and future.

Speaking of Israel and the nations, this brings up another major point concerning this preterist attitude — anti-Judaism, as described in Simmons’ “Preterism’s Anti-Semitic Agenda“:

But what would happen if Preterist teachings were proven false? If the timing is off by even a hair, and if Israel awaits a restoration, then she cannot have been divorced in A.D. 70, nor can the Lord have returned at the destruction of the temple. Well, this would discredit Preterism’s teachings. Therefore, Preterists find themselves battling against any Gospel which holds forth a future Jewish hope. The business of Preterism is to keep the Jews down-trodden, that Christianity may continue to exist in its present form.

It all comes down to proper handling of God’s word. Do you believe it as it is, or can you only believe it by twisting the meaning to agree with your own pre-conceived ideas? That reflects on your overall attitude toward God and His word, and those who impose their own meaning on biblical texts do so at their own peril, taking glory from God and calling God a liar.

John MacArthur made a great point in his opening session at the 2009 Shepherd’s Conference: the person who recognizes that Genesis 1 is not poetry — even if they then reject it — is a better interpreter of Scripture than someone who claims that Genesis 1 is just poetry (thus claiming to believe it, while twisting the meaning). This is foundational truth, and since the individual I reference stumbles here, it should not be surprising to find numerous other errors as well. Another great truth, from an early MacArthur sermonIf you don’t understand God’s promises to Israel, one you don’t understand how to interpret the Bible. Two, you won’t understand God.

Blog at