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Part 1: The Basics and Partial Preterism
Part 1: The Basics and Partial Preterism
Preterism Part 2: Olivet and the
Preterism Part 3: The Remaining
Preterism Part 4: Appealing to Josephus
Preterism Part 5: Uninterrupted
Futurism into 2nd Century
Preterism Part 6: Nero, History,
and Biblical Details
Preterism Part 7: Scripture and
a Delayed Coming
Preterism Part 8: Brief Summary
Behold I Come Quickly
Things Which Must Shortly Come to Pass
When Was Revelation Written?
A Throne of His Own
Addendum: "The Time Is At Hand"
first question in this study of Preterism is "what is Preterism?"
In short, Preterism is the theory that all (or most) of the
events prophesied in the New Testament (including those in
Revelation) were fulfilled in the past, specifically in 70
AD. The idea is that with the Roman siege of Jerusalem and
destruction of the Temple, New Testament prophecies were fulfilled.
Additionally, because of their belief that New Testament prophecy
has been fulfilled in the distant past, Preterists typically
reject any Biblical basis for knowing when Jesus will come.
It could be this year or it could be in 4000 years. Biblically
speaking, we have no way to know.
Before we get too far, we should do some vocabulary.
Futurist - the events prophesied in the New Testament
are in the future (perhaps having some partial fulfillment
in past events) with notable the exception of the siege of
Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple which occurred in
Preterist - the events prophesied in the New Testament
were fulfilled by 70 AD.
Full/Consistent Preterists believe this includes all
prophecies even Jesus second advent, which they claim happened
in 70 AD.
Partial/Moderate Preterists believe that Christ's second
advent was not fulfilled in 70 AD (and may also exclude other
selective prophetic events as well.)
Amillennialism - the doctrine of no "earthly" millennial
reign, or no "earthly" 1000 year reign. It identifies the
belief that Christ established His Kingdom by His Death, Resurrection,
and ascension to the throne of God in heaven, and thus that
the kingdom of God is now being extended throughout the world
through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. this doctrine
does not hold that Christ must come to a worldly throne in
earthly Jerusalem. Rather, it teaches that Christ reigns now
and that after this present kingdom reign is over, Christ
will return in judgment of the quick and the dead.
Postmillennialism - the belief that the kingdom of
God is now being extended throughout the world through the
preaching of the Gospel of Christ. In this respect only is
it similar to historic Amillennialism. But in contrast to
Amillennialism, the belief is that the world will eventually
become Christianized, and that the Millennium (1000 years)
is this golden age or period of righteousness, peace, and
prosperity on earth. Post-millennial, meaning that they believe
Christ comes "after" this golden age or millennial period.
Premillennialism - the doctrine that sometime in the
future Christ will return to establish a literal political
and earthly Kingdom in Jerusalem and will reign 1000 years
on earth. Pre-millennial, meaning that Christ comes to establish
this Kingdom pre or "before" the millennium.
There is much room for crossover between Amillennialism and
Postmillennialism. And because of this, Preterists may consider
themselves members of either camp. Because of the intricacies
of Preterist doctrine, it is difficult for Preterists to accept
a literal return of Christ to the earth FOLLOWED BY a literal
1000-year reign here (i.e. Premillennialism.)
For Full Preterists, Premillennialism is impossible because
they believe the second advent occurred in 70 AD and we know
that no literal 1000-year reign followed. If we imagine one
did, then we are now living almost 1000 years post-millennially
into eternity. For Partial Preterists, Premillenialism is
possible but unlikely. For the same reasons they reject a
future fulfillment of most New Testament prophecy, they are
likely to reject any literal 1000-year reign of Christ on
Now, we will briefly turn our attention to the internal debate
among Preterists. The central issue of the entire Preterism/Futurism
debate is summed up in the phrase "parousia delay." Parousia
is originally a Greek word (Strong's #3952) and refers to
"a coming" of Christ. In the case of this debate, parousia
refers specifically to the second coming of Christ.
What Preterists are chiefly concerned with is the Futurist
notion that this second coming was "delayed." In other words,
Futurists believe that the second coming of Christ did not
occur by approximately 70 AD and has not occurred in the nearly
2000 years since then. Futurists place this second coming
in our future.
Full Preterists believe that the texts of the Gospel prophecies,
particularly those found in the Olivet discourse, require
this second coming to occur before the passing away of that
first century generation.
However, Full Preterists also place the accomplishment of
all the Olivet prophecies by 70 AD. But why?
The statements denoting the timeframe of fulfillment come
at the end of the Olivet prophecies. When Jesus says in Matthew
24:34 that "This generation shall not pass, till all these
things be fulfilled," he says so after he has listed all the
coming events. Notice the word "all" in that passage. It designates
that "all" of the prophecies Jesus has just described must
occur within the timeframe he is prescribing.
So, Full Preterists logically and correctly deduce that the
Biblically prescribed timeframe must apply to ALL of the aforementioned
prophesied events. And included in this list of events is
Christ's prediction of his second coming. Since Preterists
assume that the timeframe is before the passing of that first
generation, they correctly assert this would require ALL of
the events including the second coming to occur in that timeframe.
Here is where Partial Preterists part company with Full Preterists.
Partial Preterists believe that such events as the second
coming as well as the resurrection of the dead and gathering
together of the elect which accompany it have NOT yet occurred
in history. Unlike Full Preterists, Partial Preterists place
these things in the future.
The problem with Partial Preterism is this. By definition
Partial Preterism denies the Full Preterist claim that the
second coming also had to occur in that first generation.
By placing the second coming in the future they accept that
at least one of the events prophesied in the Olivet discourse
did NOT occur by the time that first generation passed away.
In doing so, they negate that the timeframe statements (such
as the one found in Matthew 24:34) require the preceding,
prophesied events to occur by 70 AD. By allowing one of those
prophesied events to remain unbound by the 70 AD deadline,
Partial Preterists actually allow all of the rest of the listed
events to be delayed as well.
The fact is Partial Preterists deny the timeframe requirements
and negate their own proof text. For this reason, Partial
Preterism is a self-contradicting theory. It looks at timeframe
references such as those found in the Olivet discourse and
says, "Aha, these events must happen by 70 AD." Then it turns
around and negates that very timeframe by placing one of those
events (the second coming) in the future, thousands of years
after the very deadline set by their own proof texts.
The only alternative is for Partial Preterists to hypothesize
that there are two second comings (for a total of three comings.)
The first second coming they place in 70 AD with the destruction
of the Temple as a sign of Christ's judgment. And the second
second coming they place in the future when Christ will again
return and gather the elect and resurrect the dead.
Preterists also hypothesize that all of the New Testament
books were written prior to 70 AD, including the book of Revelation.
This is essential to their theory because if prophetic texts
such as Revelation or II Thessalonians 2 were written after
70 AD, then they could no longer assert that prophecies concerning
such things as the antichrist and the mark of the beast took
place by 70 AD.
But, if the entire New Testament including Revelation was
written prior to 70 AD, then one wonders why Partial Preterists
think there will be another second coming? Since according
to their hypothesis, all of the prophecies in the New Testament
concerning a second coming would have been written before
the first second coming, what reason would they have for assuming
that ALL these prophecies and commentaries weren't fulfilled
by that first second coming? Given their premise that all
scripture was written before 70 AD, what would be their Biblical
basis for assuming there is a second second coming?
None. The idea of two second comings is entirely ridiculous
and superfluous. It is unbiblical and it is based on circular
reasoning. Partial Preterists are simply trying to assume
the existence of something their theory needs to survive.
It is as if we assumed the existence of purple unicorns because
otherwise our theory about the universe being ruled by a magic
purple unicorn would be obviously wrong. If there are no purple
unicorns, our theory would fall apart. So we assume they MUST
exist. The same is true for Partial Preterism and its theory
of two second comings. The additional second coming is nothing
more than a purple unicorn.
Having demonstrated the invalidity of Partial Preterism, we
will now move on to disproving Full Preterism. From this point
forward in our study, Full Preterism will be refered to simply
as Preterism. However, as it will become apparent, most (if
not all) of the following criticisms will apply equally to
Partial Preterism as well.