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Church-State Relations and the Book of Revelation
An Introduction to The Parousia: A Careful Look at the New Testament Doctrine of the Lord's Second Coming
by James Stuart Russell (1878) // Written by
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Consistent Preterism vs. "Aggressive Futurist" Dispensationalism

(Not Progressive Disp'ism - Faust disagrees with PD view that Christ is now on David's throne)

Joey Faust and Bryan Forgy : Consistent Preterism vs. "Aggressive Futurist" Dispensationalism   1) Resolved: The Grammatico –Historical hermeneutic should be used in the interpretation of prophecy. Rather than the consistent literalism of Dispensationalism. Affirmative: Bryan Forgy - Denial: Joey Faust - 1st Affirmative | 1st Denial | 2nd Affirmative | 2nd Denial   2) 2 Peter 3 refers to a literal, future burning of the earth. | Affirmed By Faust | Denied By Forgy   3) Matthew chapter 24 teaches that the second eschatological coming of Christ was to happen at the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD. | Affirm: Forgy | Deny: Faust   4) Revelation 20 teaches a future earthly reign of Christ from Jerusalem that is to last a literal 1000 years. | Affirm: Faust | Deny: Forgy

 

Forgy’s First Affirmative

 

      Let me begin by saying that I am truly excited by this debate. It will be when finished, one of the longest and most complete debates on the subject of Preterism. May it be also known that I view my opponent as a brother in Christ, albeit in error on the subject of prophecy. The dispensational school of thought is a very recent development in the school of eschatology. One that did not appear on the scene until about the mid 1800’s, but the historicity of dispensationalism is by no means our subject. We are primarily discussing the realm of prophetic interpretation as it relates to dispensationalism and preterism. We will first begin our discussion with a general discourse on hermeneutics, followed by a discussion of three specific texts and their interpretations. I am a consistent preterist, and by such I mean that I believe that all biblical prophecy was fulfilled by the time Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. My brother is a dispensational futurist, and as such he believes that most all Bible prophecy is yet to be fulfilled.

       Our differences in view lie mainly in our hermenutical views. I believe we should follow the grammatico-historical hermeneutic as we approach the system of prophecy. It is the method that states that first, scripture must be understood in it’s historical context before we try to apply it’s meaning to our situation. For example, Paul had particular purposes and reasons in mind when he gave certain guidelines concerning worship (such as the head coverings in 1 Corinthians). It is vital to understand these purposes and reasons before we can apply parts of scripture to our life and day. Thus we have the historical apart of the grammatico-historical method. The grammatico reminds us that we are to treat nouns as nouns and verbs as verbs. The grammatico though takes into account that scripture has different forms of writing such as: historical narrative, story, epic, tragedy, satire, lyrical poetry, epitlamion, elegy, encomium, proverb, parable, pastoral, prophecy, gospel, epistle, oratory and apocalypse. Furthermore, we must understand that we cannot interpret and understand apocalyptic and poetry the same way we do an historical narrative. Thus we cannot make a clear description at times between literal and symbolic interpretation. We must also understand that it is no more degrading for us to study the rules of literary interpretation than it is for us to study Hebrew and Greek. There are other rules we must look at, such as letting scripture interpret scripture etc. We cannot just come to the study of hermenutics and say that we should observe consistent literalism and make our judgments of interpretation on that rule.

       My brother will say that I am trying to set up a straw man and that I am trying to push him into a corner of wooden literalism. That his rule really is that we should consistently interpret the Bible in a literal sense unless it is absurd to do so. Great, but our goal is to show that it is almost always absurd to take a literal view on the subject of prophecy, not always, but almost! So with that said let’s begin.

 

A Few Questions For Faust

 

Consistent – Conforming regularly to the same patterns, habits, principles ect. (Noah Webster)

      My brother is defending “consistent” literalism. It is my contention that while approaching prophecy that it is impossible for him to maintain such a hermeneutic. As we will see, he will almost always abandon his consistent literalism and by doing so become just as “spiritual” an interpreter as any Preterist. All schools of prophecy claim to use the grammatico-historical approach, but it is my point that Preterism is successful while dispensationalism is not. The general rule of “consistent” literalism is to take scripture at face value as it is read. While this is good to a point, for reasons stated earlier concerning literary genera, we must to much more to obtain a proper understanding of scripture. Will my brother now answer these questions? They will begin to show how his “consistent” literalism falls apart. Remember reader, to dodge the issues is to show how bad the questions would damage his case if not answered.

            1.) In Isaiah 11:7, we are told that lions will exist in the messianic kingdom. But, in Isaiah 35:9 (same prophet people!) we are told that no lion will be in the kingdom! Explain and remain consistently literal. If you engage in a spiritual interpretation why do you do so? Is it consistently literal to spiritualize? And if you spiritualize are preterists wrong for doing the same?

            2.) In Ezekiel 37:22-24 we are told that there will be one king in the messianic kingdom, and that one king is David. While in Jeremiah 23:5, we read that the branch raised up unto David will be king. Please stay literal while explaining. And if you do spiritualize, are preterists wrong for doing the same?

            3.) In Revelation 9:16-17, Is the 200 million man army a literal 200 million man army? If so, are their horses literal lion headed, fire breathing horses, or some military vehicle? If the army is literal on figurative horses how are you consistently literal within this one passage? And what rules govern your hermeneutic besides convenience?

      These are just a small amount of examples that I can and will give, and if my brother does not answer, it only shows how indefensible his position is!

      My brother will try to say that Preterists spiritualize important doctrines such as the resurrection of the dead. That will be his difference of how he spiritualizes and how I do it. I could just counterpoint  that he does the same concerning Israel and the church, an equally important doctrine. The point is we do not determine what is or is not heresy! He is trying to let tradition rule that interpretation. But I’m sure he would not agree with every point of historical Catholic and Protestant creeds, yet he must rely for tradition of heresy. Is it heretical for me to say the Greek word anastasis (resurrection) has many definitions besides literal bodies rising from literal graves. And that national or corporate bodies being vindicated or restored is a biblical concept of resurrection (Ezek. 37:1-14). That Daniel 12 seems to say that the resurrection of the dead was to happen by the time Israel is destroyed in 70 AD. That Acts 24:25, uses mello with a future infinitive: mullein esethai, which is only used 3 times in the Bible all by Luke, and is clearly a reference to a soon to happen resurrection since the other uses are clear to show the imminence of this form of mello (Acts 27:10, fulfillment 27:14; Acts 11:28, fulfillment within a year or two in 45 AD). He can say that I am wrong, but, not a heretic for letting scripture bring me to an interpretation that is guided by the Biblical time factor. He must show me wrong, but I use good exegesis to come to my conclusion! But this is not a debate on the resurrection. I am merely trying to anticipate what he will say is the difference between my spiritualizing and his. But, it won’t work, and the fact will remain that “consistent” literalism is an impossible dream.

 

The Bible Teaches that People Often Err Through Literal Interpretation

 

      It should be known that the Bible abounds with examples of error by means of literal interpretation. By the very methods in which our Lord often taught in parable etc. People often were confused and replied with wrong literal answers. Our Lord was giving spiritual truth, not literal law!

            1.) The Jews erred in thinking of a literal temple and sought and eventually did kill Christ for it (John 2:21). Though the end result was that their temple was destroyed (Matt. 21-24).

            2.) Nicodemus thought that being born again meant to reenter his mother’s womb. He did not get the spiritual import of our Lord’s teaching through literal error (John 3:4).

            3.) The Samaritan listened to our Lord and then desired a literal drink of water (John 4:10-15).

      These are but a few of the possible examples, but they show that literal interpretation can often lead us astray in discerning Biblical truth. How much more so when we are dealing with prophetic/apocalyptic interpretation? It did just that with the Jews! Christ had to seek shelter from the masses when they sought to make him a literal king. They did not realize the kingdom of God was spiritual (John 18:36). And by their misperception of their visitation they were destroyed (Luke 19:42-44). This is the same hole that my dispensational brother falls into! He is fleshly and literal when it comes to the kingdom and coming and he has missed the visitation! He thinks that consistent literalism leads him to the truth, but alas, he ends up interpreting in the same way that lead the Jews into error.

 

Time Statements and Prophetic Interpretation

 

       One of the most important aspects of prophetic interpretation that transcends the literal or figurative portion of the debate is the aspect of time statements. If the scriptures state that an event is going to happen within a specified period of time and it does not, then the prophecy is a failure. In fact many atheists use the fact that the Bible teaches that the apocalypse was to happen in the first century and in fact (according to futurists) did not is infallible proof that the Bible is not the word of God. There are many Greek words and scriptures that deal with time statements so let us deal with a few of them, and then see what our brother has to say.

      The word Mello is given the basic definition by Arndt - Gingrich and Thayer as " to be about to be; to be at the point of doing, " (Analytical Greek Lexicon p.262; Thayer p. 396). The primary meaning given by Vine is, " about to do something, " (p.15), and Zodihates in his Hebrew - Greek Study Bible starts each separate definition with " to be about to do, " followed by the intention-conveyed (p.1855). The word as I have seen is very selectively translated, let's begin with a few verses in which the word is given its proper place in the translation.

1.) Acts 3:3 - " And when he saw Peter and John about to (Mello) go into the temple…"
2.) Acts 20:3 - " As he was about to (Mello) set sail for Syria…"
3.) Hebrews 8:5 - "…Moses was warned by God when he was about to (Mello) erect the tabernacle."

Now, these verses were given to you to show how the word is used in scripture. In these verses the word is present in the Greek and given it's rightful spot in the English translation. But, now look at these verses some of which apply to the judgment and some to the Second Coming. I will provide the missing translation of Mello in parenthesis.

1.) Matthew 3:7 - " …You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath (about to) come."
2.) Matthew 16:27 - " For the Son of Man is (about to) come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will recompense every man according to his deeds."
3.) Acts 17:31 - " Because He has fixed a day in which he is (about to) judge the world…"
4.) Acts 24:25 - " And as he was discussing righteousness, self - control and the judgment (about to) come… "

These are just a few of the examples I could give to show how Mello is used in connection with the Second Coming. In the NASB Mello is given it's rightful place in the English translation in an eschatological passage, it is in Luke 21:36,

" But keep on alert at all times, praying in order that you may have the strength to escape all these things that are about to (Mello) take place."

What things were about to take place that Christ had just talked about? Well, here is a list,
A.) Jerusalem is about to be compassed about with armies (v. 20)
B.) All things written will be fulfilled (v.22)
C.) Jerusalem will be destroyed (v.24)
D.) Christ will return (v.27)
E.) The kingdom will come (v.31)
F.) Heaven and earth will pass away (v.33)

Christ said all these things were about to happen using Mello, in fact they would happen before that generation then living would pass away (v.32). So despite the futurist objections we have an almost full Preterist outline in Luke 21. All that is missing is the resurrection and the judgment, and these will be discussed later. For now, let's focus on a few passages concerning the time when Christ would return.

1 Corinthians 1:7,8 - " So that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ… "
I often struggled with this verse before I was a Preterist because of our brethren's traditional belief that the age of miracles ceased in 96 AD with the completion of the book of Revelation, making that which is perfect the complete word of God. But, this verse stumped me because it seemed to teach that the gifts were to continue until the return of Christ. Non charismatic futurists have always had a problem with this verse in debates, though they were often able to ignore it by posing their bigger arguments and pushing this verse to the background. To give an example I cite the Ramsey - Hicks debate. Marvin Hicks who for many years debated the church of Christ on the question of miracles used this argument in his debate with Johnny Ramsey, a prominent brother in the churches of Christ. Here is Mr. Ramsey's answer to the argument.

" In 1 Cor. 1:7, we have a passage that finds it's consummation in 1 Cor. 13." (Ramsey - Hicks Debate, pg. 151)

This is all that is said by Brother Ramsey on this scripture. This is his answer! He takes that scripture and applies it to the cessation of miracles in 1 Cor. 13, being it was fulfilled when that which is perfect came. Now the general argument among Non charismatic futurists on that which is perfect is that perfect (telios) is neuter and cannot be the coming of the masculine gendered Christ. That is great, but brother Ramsey's argument pushes 1 Cor. 1:7 into the context of 1 Cor. 13 without taking notice of the context that 1 Cor. 1:7 is speaking of the coming of Christ using the word apokalupsis. It also declares that its context is the day of the Lord! So Brother Ramsey has just affirmed that that which is perfect must include the coming of the Lord! Negating his principal of the neuter article cannot in any way refer to the coming of the Lord. The traditional view among Non charismatic futurists cannot account for this verse, and Mr. Ramsey's lack of comments on it shows that he really had no answer. This verse speaks to the fact that the miracles would continue until the revelation of the Lord from heaven; there is no way around this! 2 Thessalonians uses the same word for Christ being revealed from heaven in 1:7, 1 Peter 1:7,13 uses it also, and the phrase revealed or revelation of our Lord from heaven undoubtedly have reference to the return of Christ! Only the Preterist position can maintain a consistent refutation of the modern Pentecostal movement. Preterism maintains that the cannon was finished by A.D. 70 (a point of contention that will be dealt with later), and that the Lord was revealed from heaven then also. How can the Corinthians, a group of people who were destroyed with their city thousands of years ago, not be lacking gifts today considering they are lacking even existence? Either the Lord has already been revealed from heaven or this scripture calls the inspiration of the Bible into question. There are no two ways about it. The Lord must have returned before Corinth was destroyed.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 - " Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. "

This is a very interesting verse I choose here because it is smack dab in the middle of a text that futurists believe is no doubt a future coming of Christ from our present day. Of course their belief is based upon the " my concept of it has not happened therefore it has not been fulfilled, " premillennial concept that partial preterists revert to when confronted with the Preterist view. But this verse in the text brings us to a dilemma, that we should not exegete a text based upon our concept of what it teaches and make it fit our view. But, instead to take a look at when Paul said it would happen and make our view fit the time constraints. This is nothing more than the " let the clear passages interpret the obscure, " law of hermeneutics. And Paul is very clear as to when this passage would be fulfilled. The Thessalonians were obviously concerned about those who had died before Christ returned (4:13). Thus, Paul was writing to comfort them that when Christ comes those who have died will in no way miss the benefits of the Parousia through the resurrection. What is important though is that not all of the Thessalonians will die before that day comes. In verse 15 Paul does not only say we who are alive, but that some of those who are alive when Paul writes will also remain until the coming of the Lord. This is unmistakable language. If Paul had just said " we who are alive, " then there is the possibility that this could be referring to a future group of people. But, the fact that Paul says some of those who are presently alive when he writes will remain until the coming rules out any other possible meaning. And this is by no means an isolated use of such language by Paul. In 1 Corinthians 15:51 he says,

" We shall not all sleep. "

Here speaking of the same situation to the Corinthians, he says that of them who are presently alive in Corinth, that not all of them would die before the last trumpet sounds. Christ himself said that the trumpet would sound before that generation then living would pass away (Matt. 24:31,34). And we see here also in Thessalonians that the trumpet would sound before all those then alive would die (1 Thess. 4:16,17). Christ himself said that the trumpet would sound before the generation then living would pass away (Matt. 24:31,34).

 

Hebrews 10:25 - " Not forsaking our own assembly together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. "

Hebrews is an epistle full of imminent statements concerning the coming of Christ. The epistle begins in the very first verse announcing that they were in the last days (1:1). In 9:26 it says they were living in the consummation of the ages. Then we come to this verse that tells them to encourage one another because they were so close to the coming day they could see it drawing near. In fact, they could see it was so near they were to, " encourage one another day by day while it is still called today." If that is not an imminent statement I do not know what is. But that is not all, in 10:37 the writer confirms why this imminent language is given concerning the coming of Christ.

" For yet in a very little while, he who is coming shall come and not delay."

There are so many more verses I could go into, but I wish to keep this simple and brief, here is a partial list of other verses you can look up to see more imminence in the NT.
1.) Matthew 26:64
2.) 1 Timothy 6:14
3.) 1 Peter 1:13
4.) 1 John 2:28
5.) Acts 2:16,17,20 - This was to happen before the day of the Lord
6.) 1 Peter 4:5 - He is ready to judge
7.) Romans 13:11-12 - The day is at hand
8.) Hebrews 6:11 - Those then living to be diligent until the end
9.) Revelation 1:1
10.) Revelation 2:25 - Thyatria to hold fast until he comes.
11.) Revelation 22:6
12.) 1 Corinthians 7:28-31 - The world is passing away, the time is short.
13.) 1 John 2:15-18 - It is the last hour.

Though all these passages and more teach that the second coming and it's related events were at hand in the first century, there are those who try to negate the force of the imminence statements by claiming that time is not what is conveyed, but certainty. This argument is ridiculous when you consider what it implies about a non-imminent statement. If at hand etc, simply meant certainty, then what would not at hand or a long time mean? Would that make this sort of statement mean an event is not certain to happen? This basic argument in any form tries to negate that the Bible teaches that Christ was to come very soon after the NT writers wrote. They are basically saying that prophetic language in relation to time is ambiguous or elastic. The problem though is that just is not scriptural. When God tells man something is at hand he is not talking about time in relation to God, but time in relation to man. At hand means soon in proximity to man, not God, and the Bible is very clear on this.
The first thing to notice is that these at hand statements are contained within prophecies which are basically promises of God. Why would God be redundant in at hand meaning certain when the statement in and of itself is a promise? Is not the fact that a prophecy is a promise good enough to make it certain without giving a phrase to cause redundancy?
      Second, for God to make a prophecy and say it is at hand, and it truly does not happen soon, then the prophecy was not fulfilled. Why? Because, the time frame for which it would happen came and went without it happening. A seeming fulfillment that happens too late is not a fulfillment at all. This calls the inspiration of the Bible into question.
      Now to prove the above statements that " at hand " means exactly what it says. If the term at hand can mean as much as 2000 years then what does it mean when God says an event is not for a long time to come? Does it mean 3000 years? 4000? For proponents of a 6000 year old earth, they cannot afford for God to say an event that is at hand to be 2000 years away, let alone God saying an event is to happen a long time off, they would use up all history in two events or less.
We should notice for example that in the New Testament John the Baptist, Christ and the apostles all taught that the kingdom of God was at hand (Matt. 3:1; 4:17; 10:7). This is curious that if the at hand statements mean a thing was only certain or could happen at anytime, that there was not one passage in the Old Testament that tells us the kingdom was then at hand also. In Daniel 2:28 we were told the kingdom was for the last days, not at hand. Does this mean the kingdom was not certain in Daniel's day? No, because when Christ came the first time they entered the last days, and thus the kingdom was now at hand (Hebrews 1:1). For Daniel the kingdom would not come for a long time and God told him that (Dan. 10:14; 8:26).
      Some try to argue that when God gives an at hand statement but in reality is really 2000 or more years away that God is not lying because for him a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is a day. Thus to God the event is at hand even though to men it is not. Once again this argument falls when we consider God's statements of something being a long time away. In Numbers 24:17, Balaam said of the coming of Christ that he saw him but he was not near, he was coming but not now. Why would Balaam say that he was so far away except for the fact that He was 1400 years away from coming, certainly not a long time away. But, God was talking to man, not to himself and for man 1400 years is a long time away.
      In Daniel 10-12, is a vision that pertains from 536 B.C. to 70 A.D., and twice Daniel is told " the appointed time is long, " and " the vision refers to many days to come, " (10:1,14). God did not say these things were at hand or could happen at any time. This is only a 600 year period of time and God calls it a long time. For God according to futurists it's only a little more than half of one of God's thousand year days, not a long time for God, but for man it is.
Also, in Daniel eight which even dispensationalist Marvin Pate said referred to 365 years later being fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanies, was said by God to be many days in the future (8:26). God calls 365 years a long time but, according to futurists it's less than 12 hours of God's time with the 1000 years a day theory. How can they say with a straight face that God says 365 years is a long time, but 2000 years is at hand? This makes a mockery of God's consistency with time statements. This is not all, because in Jeremiah 29:10 we are told of the Babylonian captivity which we know lasted 70 years. But, in verse 28 we are told that those 70 years are a long time. To God it is only a few hours, but to man it is a life expectancy, which in deed is a long time.
      Few people among the churches of Christ know that the Bible has an example of people trying to change the meaning of God's time statements. It is in Ezekiel 7 with God telling Israel that the Day of the Lord (which in this case was the Babylonian captivity) was at hand. God makes it abundantly clear that it is at hand, observe.

1.) The end is coming (v.2)
2.) The end is upon you (v.3)
3.) Behold it is coming (v.4)
4.) The end has come, behold it has come (v.6)
5.) Your doom has come to you, the time has come, the day is near (v.7)
6.) I will shortly pour out my wrath, anger, and judgement (v.8)
7.) Behold it is coming, has budded (v.10)
8.) The time has come, the day has arrived (v.12)

Can anybody deny it was at hand? But, in chapter 11 God said that Israel responded by saying it is not near, it is time to build houses (v.3). It is as if they said, " yes Ezekiel, the time is at hand, but after all a day with the Lord is a thousand years a thousand years is a day as David said in Psalm 90:4. " In fact they did just that, read Ezekiel 12:22 where they said,

" The days are long and every vision fails. "

      But, God responded by telling them that they cannot make his at hand statements ambiguous and meaningless by such reasoning. In verses 23-25 God reverses this on them and says,

1.) The days draw near as well as the fulfillment (v.23)
2.) In your days I will perform it (v.25)

      Israel said, " the vision is for many years from now…times far off, " (v.27). God replies, " none of my words will be delayed any longer, " (v.28).
People, do not listen to these false prophets of futurism, listen to the Lord (Ezek. 13:1). These futurists are making the same mistake as Israel did in Ezekiel 7! The New Testament time statements are the same as those in Ezekiel,

1.) Wrath about to come (Matt. 3:7; Ezek. 7:8)
2.) It is time for judgment to begin (1 Pet. 4:17; Ezek. 7:8)
3.) The end shall come in that generation (Matt. 24:15,34; Ezek. 7:2,3)
4.) Wrath has come upon them (1 Thess. 2:16; Ezek. 7:7)
5.) End of the ages has come (1 Cor. 10:11; Ezek. 7:6)

      This list could go on and on. It is clear that at hand means near, I tell you this from the word of God. Do not fall into the futurist trap, Preterism is the answer.

 

Faust’s Articles on Literalism

 

      My brother has authored 2 articles that I know of dealing with his view on consistent literal interpretation vs. figurative interpretation. They are; Ezekiel’s Cry: The Misuse and Abuse of Figurative Interpretation, and The Biblical Principles of Literal Prophetic Fulfillment. They are both available on his website www.kingdombaptist.org.  I will now address some of the arguments made in these articles and thus try to anticipate some of his negative.

            1.) “If the ‘thousand years’ of Revelation 20 are allegorical, why not hell or the commands for women to submit?” (Ezekiel’s Cry)

      This argument does not add up! We have a later proposition on Revelation 20, so I do not wish to go into depth on it here. First, I do not hold a literal position on hell, but it is not a result of my allegorical view of Revelation 20. I let each example stand on it’s own being brought about by a consistent evaluation of all texts involved concerning the Bible’s use of 1000, and in the case of hell, all texts concerning that subject. Mt brother seeks  to scare one  into thinking that if they take the number 1000 as figurative, they will then run themselves into “heresy” concerning hell! Do not believe it reader! You must evaluate each according to all the Bible has to say on each subject. If you study the Biblical usage of 1000 and find it to be allegorical, this should in no way influence you concerning hell, let each subject stand on it’s own concerning proper exegesis. If one is allegorical, it does not follow that the other necessarily is. This is an example of my brother’s misguided view of figurative interpretation. But while we are here let’s ask my brother a few questions.

                  A.) In Deuteronomy 7:9 the Lord says he will keep the covenant for 1000 generations. Is this literally 1000 generations? If it is my opponent has some problems. First off if it is literal and the covenant was made with Abraham which was 430 years before Sinai and we are now entering the 7000th year of God's creation he has kept the covenant for only 175 generations and the beginning of the New Covenant which you place so much emphasis on could not possibly happen for another 33,000 years. But, if the Jews continue on the New Earth past the end of the millennium time will run out on their covenant in 33,000 years and the New Earth will end. I use these numbers because a generation is 40 years, so 1000 generations is 40,000 years. And considering Hebrews 8:13 says the Old Covenant was about to vanish completely in the first century, 35,000 years seems a bit of a stretch for God saying it was about to vanish. Please explain and be consistently literal. Keep in mind I did not account for the time from Adam to Abraham but the force of the argument is the same even still.

                  B.) In Psalms 50:10, it says God owns the cattle on the 1000 hills. Is this literal? Does this mean he does not have jurisdiction over hill 1001? Please explain and be consistently literal.

                  C.) Does this show that the idea of 1000 can at least have the possibility of figurative usage in the scriptures? And if so, would we no longer be “consistently literal” since 1000 seems to be used in a “consistently figurative” sense?

 

            2.)” Jeremiah 29:10…In this prophecy, ‘seventy’ means seventy, ‘years’ means years…Also, the numerous fulfillments of OT prophecy noted by the Holy Spirit in the gospels also reveal to us that prophecies are meant to be understood literally.” (Ezekiel’s Cry)

      I agree that seventy years is seventy years in Jeremiah 29:10, but does this show the “consistent” literalism you claim? In Daniel 9:24, we have the term “seventy weeks.” This is similar to the term seventy years as a designation of time, yet without any indication from the angel or Daniel we take it as heptads and not as a literal seventy weeks, why? Heck, the dispensational gap make it even more of a non literal application making the heptads as non consecutive, something we could not possibly glean from the text itself. I am not bound by “consistent” literalism, and I take it as heptads also. But who is more consistently correct when comparing seventy years and weeks? Would not your statement on the years, bind you to literalism on the weeks since according to you it shows that prophecy is to be taken literally? Or should we evaluate each on it’s own merits instead of a literal hermeneutic?

 

            3.)”Yet, literal interpretation, while at first might appear incredible, is always vindicated by time! Robert Grovett’s commentary on the book of Revelation in 1843 is an example. His interpretations of various prophecies are no longer incredible…And Babylon is currently being rebuilt.” (Ezekiel’s Cry)

      Concerning this, I really do not care about if time has vindicated his view because Babylon has been rebuilt! It violates “consistent literalism.” Why? It is obvious our brother’s views a literal rebuilding of Babylon as the “consistent” literal fulfillment of Revelation 17, but how is this consistently literal when:

                  A.) Isaiah 13:19-20 says that after Babylon is destroyed by the Medes, it shall NEVER be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation! Do not say it is a future fulfillment to happen, because it is the Medes of Daniel’s day that were to destroy Babylon using bows as weapons (v.18), and it was near to come when Isaiah was written(v.22). A future destruction not using bows and arrows is a non-fulfillment. And it would still violate a consistent literal fulfillment.

                  B.) There are several reasons that point to Babylon as first century Jerusalem.

                        1.) Only First century Jerusalem would fit things which must shortly come to pass (Rev.1:1).

                        2.) As a symbolic name for Jerusalem, Babylon would be as fitting as Sodom or Egypt, which were applied to Jerusalem in 11:8.

                        3.) That great city, which is used to designate Babylon is used of Jerusalem in 11:8.

                        4.) In chapter 14, the winepress being trod outside the city can only refer to Jerusalem (14:20), yet the only city named in the chapter is Babylon (14:8).

                        5.) The division of Babylon into three parts in 16:19, best fits Jerusalem (Ezek.5:1-12).

                        6.) Being a harlot is used exclusively in the OT for a city or nation that has abandoned the covenant and turned to idolatry with only 2 exceptions. It is almost an exclusive term for Israel (Is. 1:21; 57:8; Jer. 2:2,20 etc)

                        7.) Jerusalem sat on seven hills as well as Rome did, literal Babylon did not.

                        8.) The great great city which reigns over the rulers of the land (v.18) is equivalent to what is said of Jerusalem in Lam. 1:1.

                        9.) Most importantly, no city other than Jerusalem can be charged with the blood of the prophets, saints and apostles (17:6; 18:20,24; Matt.23:35; Luke 13:33).

      There are several other reasons I could use, but these should suffice. It should be noted that even though I come to a figurative conclusion, I have several reasons for doing so. My brother’s “consistent” literalism must overcome these to be vindicated, because literalism certainly seems absurd here.

 

            4.)” Although people may still err with literal interpretation it is nevertheless the correct system. Our Lord himself though he rebuked the hypocrisy, inconsistencies, and added traditions among the Pharisees, nevertheless approved of their literal interpretation over the figurative system of the Sadducees (Matt:23:1-3). (Ezekiel’s Cry)

      This argument is outright wrong and misleading. Christ was not advocating their interpretation, but civil obedience to them. In fact, Christ had just put their literal interpretation to shame immediately before this statement in 22:41-45. Notice also Christ’s emphasis on spirit in verse 43. I do not think though that my brother purposely meant to mislead, but that he was himself misguided.

            5.) My brother bases much of his view of hermeneutics concerning prophecy on the “double fulfillment” theory. It should be noted that this view is based purely upon the necessity of it to support his view. It is not necessary to the scriptures, but only to the progressive dispensational view. Our brother says,

                  “Often prophecies have two literal fulfillments: one near and contemporary, and the other is far in the future…An example of this is found in the prophecy of the destruction of the Jewish temple in Matthew 24. It did have a partial fulfillment in 70 AD, yet, many details remain to be literally fulfilled. There will therefore be a future literal fulfillment.” (The Biblical Principles of Literal Prophetic Fulfillment)

      While I do not fully disagree with my brother on the principle of a “double fulfillment” theory, I strongly disagree with his application for several reasons.

                  1.) While many OT prophecies that have been fulfilled in OT times are reiterated as having a second application in the NT, we have inspired apostles telling us so. We do not have such with our brother’s view of “double fulfillment” only his word on it. It is based solely upon a “my literal view of it has not happened, thus there must be a future literal fulfillment” hermeneutic. This is not at all valid, especially in the text our brother contends. Christ himself says that ALL THESE THINGS would be fulfilled as a whole within that generation (Matt. 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32,36). In fact,  according to the NASB and the Greek Luke records all these things that are about to come to pass (v.36). It is not some of these things shall be fulfilled in this generation, while all of them shall be fulfilled again in that generation over 2000 years from now. <y brother’s view is a direct violation of the text. Yet his admission of an AD 70 fulfillment gives a vindication to the Preterist view of “generation” (Gr. Genea), but we will deal with that in our proposition on Matthew 24.

                  2.) The Biblical idea of “double fulfillment” is often couched in a Rabbinical form of interpretation known as Midrash. Midrash is a Hebraic mode of interpretation often assuming the form of metaphor. The apostles often used Midrash. They had no need to explain the original contexts which were not in dispute. Indeed they were not engaged in commentary like exegesis but eisegesis. They would strengthen the flock by removing a text from it’s original context and apply it to their present condition. In this was midrash was thoroughly emotional and rhetorical. It bears remarkable close relation to allegory, which is a principle subject which is described by another subject resembling it in properties and circumstances. Midrash is eminently historically grounded. It is not at odds with the literal; it denies neither the original intent nor the grammatico-historical meaning of the text. But it must be noted, that we cannot read midrash interpretation back into the original context.

      Examples of such are many, especially concerning prophecies concerning the first coming of Christ. An example is Matthew’s use of Hosea “out of Egypt I have called my son.” Matthew relates this to Christ leaving Egypt after Herod killed the children in Israel to wipe out the messiah’s threat to his throne. The original context refers to Israel, and was in fact not a prophecy, but an historical fact of their exodus. Hosea had no “fortune telling” meaning at all. Yet, Matthew as Christ’s relation to Israel, used Hosea’s words as reference to a fulfillment in Christ by using midrash. Hosea did not have a messianic prophecy in view at all, but Matthew used Midrash to make the application despite the original context of Hosea. Matthew has imposed allegory upon Hosea’s grammatico-historical usage. In fact, almost all of the prophecies concerning the first coming of Christ, if we read them, we will see that the original contexts do not apply to a future messiah, but to contemporary issues, and literal fulfillment is nearly impossible in the texts. Jack Van Deventer points out that according to Allis, Berkhof, Bahnsen, Gentry, Cox, Fuller, Gerstner, Grenz, Hoekema, Hughes, LaRondelle, etc, that only 35% of such prophecies were literally fulfilled. The rest were typical or analogical fulfillments (The Myth of Consistent Literalism). Reader, search this out yourself because my space is limited. You will find it to be true, but it shows that my brother’s view of double fulfillment is badly lacking! He has no scriptural inspiration making his double applications of his examples. And when scripture does make a double application it is often allegorical midrash and not his consistent literalism.

                  3.)” Often prophecies have a figurative fulfillment in the near future, and a literal fulfillment in the far future. One example of this is found in the prophecy concerning…Elijah in Mal. 4:5. John the Baptist was a secondary, spiritual fulfillment of this. However, Jesus stated that Elijah would still come in the future (Matt. 17:11). (Joey Faust, ibid)

      This argument is just a misapplication of what our Lord said. Christ was answering the disciples questions. His statement is two-fold. He confirms their question, Elijah truly shall come first, they were right. But, the next verse is his answer, Elijah had come and the Jews missed it like they do everything else (v.12). He is in no way affirming a future Elijah, it is no where in scripture. And this verse in no way teaches what my brother claims it does, read it for yourself reader and see!

      There are many other arguments made by brother Faust in his articles, and I am sure he will make them in his negative. Space forbids me from going further at this point. Let it be known though, that as of this point his arguments fail his consistent literalism!

 

A Question To Vindicate The Preterist Interpretation

     

      In Matthew 21:33-41, we have a parable in which a householder has a vineyard he lent out to husbandmen. I have a few questions for my brother concerning this parable, and then we shall go further in our next affirmative. These questions are vital and his answers will greatly affect the debate, so put the pressure on him to answer them.

      1.) Who are the first group of husbandmen the vineyard is lent out to who killed the servants and the son of the lord of the vineyard? Are they first century Israel?

      2.) When did the Lord of the vineyard destroy those wicked men? Was it 70 AD?

      3.) Did the Lord of the vineyard indeed COME as it says in verse 40 when he destroyed those wicked me?

      Let’s see what my brother has to say on this!

 

Wrapping it Up

 

      As I am attempting to show, “consistent” literalism is simply impossible. My brother will try to contend that “consistent” literalism is not “wooden” literalism. He freely has the option of spiritualizing when he sees fit, but what is so “consistent” then about his hermeneutic? As we shall see he must often spiritualize, because it would be “absurd” not to. We will show and have thus far that it is almost always “absurd” to be literal. For example, in Acts 1:11 we are told Christ will come in just the same way as the disciples have watched him go. But, if we thumb through Revelation, we see him riding a white horse, clothed in a robe dipped in blood, with a sword coming out of his mouth etc when he comes. None of this fits Acts 1:11! My brother must become figurative, he cannot be literal at all! So, according to this, he is literal (assuming as he does that coming in the flesh is the literal way in Acts) in Acts 1:11, but it would be absurd to be literal in the many other texts. Well then, absurdity then becomes our word of the day, and consistent literalism is then the minority usage! He gives himself a license to literalize and spiritualize to fit his pre-conceived theory. Rather than let the text in accordance with the rest of scriptural testimony decide what is the proper hermeneutic.

      In Zechariah 13:7 we are given a messianic prophecy: “strike the shepherd that the sheep may be scattered: and I will turn my hand against the little ones.” Literally, we have many questions,

      1.) Jesus was a carpenter, only figuratively a shepherd.

      2.) The sheep are men, only figuratively sheep.

      3.) Matthew 2:18 also uses Jeremiah 31:15 after the slaughter of the infants, and thus,

      4.) In what literal way was the dead Rachel weeping for her children? It was the mothers of the babies?

      5.) What is the literal relationship between Ramah and Bethlehem?

 

      Was this prophecy fulfilled? Yes, but a literal interpretation is again absurd. This is almost always the case! Sound Biblical interpretation should not be defined as literal or figurative. It should stand on it’s own merits, letting scripture define scripture. Often a spiritual fulfillment is in no way a violation of a literal fulfillment if the literary genera is figurative by nature. The literal (Latin) would adhere to the nature of the writing itself. It sound like a contradiction, but it is not when we observe the rules, and let scripture interpret scripture instead of relying upon our theory to guide us. The Bible itself gives us guiding principles by it’s consistent usage of symbols. And if we follow them throughout scripture we should arrive at correct conclusions. The Bible often defines subjects for us, such as sun, moon and stars as rulers of nations in Genesis 37:9-10. We should take this clear definition and define what we feel is unclear in other texts. Not just assume a literal application when we see fit!

      This brings us to our final affirmative argument for this speech. In Galatians Paul talks about the present city of Jerusalem in the first century (4:21-31). Sarah and Hagar represent two covenants (4:24), two types of birth (one by promise and one by flesh 4:23), two types of mountains (Sinai and Zion 4:25), and two cities. Hagar stands for sons according to the flesh, Sinai, the old covenant, and the present city of Jerusalem. These children are in bondage, slaves. They are not heirs. In contrast, Sarah’s son has the promise of Abraham. They are the children of the promise, the new covenant and the mother of us all, the Jerusalem from above (4:26). There are two Jerusalems!

      The Jerusalem above inherits the very promise given to Isaac by Abraham. Paul then says, “cast out of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will NEVER share in the inheritance with the fee woman’s son.” (Gen. 21:10; Gal. 4:30,31).

      The type is referent to the antitype. Thus, Paul is saying that earthly Jerusalem will NEVER share in the promise made to Isaac. It was not for them and never was. They are not the Israel of God (Gal. 6:15,16), and were always the children of the bondwoman.

      With this type/antitype fulfillment regarding Jerusalem we have a whole system! First comes the natural then the spiritual (1 Cor. 15:46). Not first comes the natural, then the spiritual and the the natural again as my brother and his “consistent literal/double application” hermeneutic says. The Bible gives us,

 

1.) Tabernacle – (Ishamael=Flesh=Works) Amos 9:11-12, Ezekiel 37:26,27 (Issac=Spirit=Faith) Heb. 8:1-3, Heb. 9:23,24.

 

2.) Priesthood – (Ishmael=Flesh=Works) Heb. 9:6-8; Heb. 7:11-12 (Isaac=Spirit=Faith) 1 Pet. 2:5-9; Heb. 7:11,12.

 

3.) Sacrifices – Ishmael=Flesh=Works) Heb. 10:1-6; Heb. 9:9-16 (Isaac=Spirit=Faith) 1 Pet. 2:5; Heb. 13:15,16.

 

4.) Temple – (Ishmael=Flesh=Works) 2 Sam. 7:4; 2 Chron. 22:6-10 (Isaac=Spirit=Faith) 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22.

 

5.) Throne – (Ishmael=Flesh=Works) 1 Kings 2:12; Ezekiel:21:27 (Isaac=Spirit=Faith) Heb:1:1-3; Acts 7:49-50

 

6.) Seed – (Ishmael=Flesh=Works) Gen. 12:1-3; John 8:33-39 (Isaac=Spirit= Faith) Gal. 3:16-29; Gen 12:1-3.

 

7.) Israel – (Ishmael=Flesh=Works) Rom. 9:6-8 (Isaac=Spirit=Faith) Gal. 6:16; Rom. 9:6-8.

 

8.) Mountain – (Ishmael=Flesh=Works) Heb. 12:18; Gal. 4:25 (Isaac=Spirit=Faith) Heb. 12:22; Rom. 11:26.

 

9.) Jerusalem – (Ishmael=Flesh=Works) Gal. 4:25; (Isaac=Spirit=Faith) Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22.

 

10.) Land – (Ishmael=Flesh=Works) Gen. 13:14,15; Gen. 15:18 (Isaac=Spirit=Faith) Mt. 5:5; Heb. 12:22-28; Amos 9:15.

 

      In Hebrews 10:1 we are told , “ For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of things.” What we had in Hagar, the earthly Jerusalem were but patterns for the fulfillments in Christ and the heavenly Jerusalem. My brother and his consistent literalism misses these patterns and rejects the spiritual fulfillment that were the heavenly things purified with better sacrifices (Heb. 9:10) as the true fulfillment. He longs for the shadows which are of Hagar and earthly Jerusalem which will NEVER share in the inheritance! What does never mean to you brother Faust? Where will your hermeneutic lead you?      

What do YOU think ?

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Date:
25 Dec 2003
Time:
09:22:04

Comments

Great presentation, and a lot of thought put into it. It would be worth the extra effort to run subsequent articles through with a spell-checker before posting. Well done.   [Spell-checked!  Thanks for the suggestion]


Date:
25 Dec 2003
Time:
15:11:31

Comments

Thanks for the comment, I truly hope that many read this debate. Faust is an outspoken critic of preterism as he has written a 14 article response to Noe's Beyond The End Times, the first of which is on the critical archive, but the rest are on his site www.kingdombaptist.org. I encourage all readers of this debate to read his articles also. I plan to hold several debates using this format and outlet on the Archive if Todd will let me. There are so few actual debates on these subjects, just people answering articles. This format along with the audience participation will bring out the true force of Preterist eschatology to those who do not already hold the doctrine, and I am so excited about it.I am currently in the works of trying to get Bob L. Ross to participate in the next debate, and I encourage you all to put the pressure on him to accept it. Just write him at Pilgrim Publications using his e-mail link. That debate will be on different subjects of course, and let it be known that I am in no way looking past this debate. Joey Faust is a very worthy defender of his position, and the author of several articles on the subject. Please pray for me as the debate moves forward that we shall both conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. And yes, I will use the spell check on the next article, sorry. Bryan Forgy  [Consider permission granted!  TDD]


Date:
29 Dec 2003
Time:
18:15:51

Comments

Bryan, I, too, am a Preterist. I think you have raised good points. Please continue to deal lovingly and respectfully with your opponent because, after all, men are prideful beings. We are often first converted in our hearts and only later use our heads to rationalize what our hearts are telling us. I believe the Preterist position is _the_ eschatology of the Bible. While you champion the position be sure to prostrate yourself in love and respect before God and men lest we offend with arrogance. May the Lord give all of us Preterists a thorn to keep us humble in these important Reformation times. For Christ's crown and covenant


Date:
31 Dec 2003
Time:
07:34:47

Comments

Good work on your first affirmative. There are many other areas in which "literalism" contradicts itself. Is there a sea in the days when the river of life flows from the throne - Ezekiel 47:1-12, Zechariah 14:8 vs. Revelation 21:1? How many trees are there - Ezekiel 47:1-12 vs. Revelation 22:2? Do people die on the new earth - Isaiah 65:17-23 vs. Revelation 21:4? And so on and so on. I have looked over some of Faust's arguments relating to this issue, and he does give some explanations, but even in those cases, he must admit that not all the passages can be accepted "literally" at face value, but must be harmonized by making some contextual concessions. Sadly, people appear to equate "spiritual fulfillment" with "God is unable to what the Bible says 'literally'." This is addressed by others, and even by myself here on the archive: http://preteristarchive.com/Preterism/perkins-kenneth_p_01.html It is my hope that others might come to see the beauty of fulfilled eschatology and rejoice that God had fulfilled His word on time, even though this fulfillment may not fit the "literal" fulfillments with which most of us have been brought up. Well done, and keep up the good work. K. Perkins


Date:
31 Dec 2003
Time:
08:44:08

Comments

Great news everyone, The next debate is now being finalized! J. Parnell McCarter will be defending historicism against me on Consistent Preterism. This debate will begin after the Faust debate! Bryan Forgy


Date:
27 Feb 2004
Time:
16:37:03

Comments

FAUST'S THIRD NEGATIVE It appears that Mr. Forgy has thrown in the towel. We agreed that we would limit the time between our responses to two weeks at the most. I sent my second negative to Mr. Forgy on January 12th, 2004. Today, it is February 27th and I still have not received Forgy's third affirmative. On January 24th, I received the following note: "I am sorry that I have not been able to get my third affirmative to you but I have been violently ill with the flu for over a week, three days of which I was in the hospital being IV fed fluids. I must now take about 4 days to catcth up all that has fallen behind in my businuess, so I should have my next affirm to you by Thurs..." I told him I was sorry to hear of his sickness. But he then continued to delay. On February 6th, Forgy wrote one last note to me: "I'm sorry brother Faust, it did take a little longer for me to recoup than I thought, but then the burden of the work I had fallen behind on was overwhelming. I have my third affirm half done, I just got to it again last night and had to stay up until 3 am to work on it. I will have it done and typed by the end of the weekend..." I have heard nothing from Mr. Forgy since this last note on February the 6th, and I have repeatedly asked him for a simple explanation of his delay and lack of communication. If he is back in the hospital, then I can certainly understand this delay. However, if Mr. Forgy is well, then it would appear that he has thrown the debate. In that case, I rest my case! And may all observers take note that Forgy's preterism cannot honestly and reasonably be maintained from the Holy Scriptures. -Pastor Joey Faust, 2-27-04

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