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By James Lloyd
Preterist Apostasy | Scoffers: Preterists and II Peter 3
The Great Tribulation Already Happened In 70 AD?
In keeping with the ancient observation of King Solomon that "there is no new thing under the sun," yet another ancient heresy has resurged in pre-apocalyptic America - preterism. The term "preterist" is drawn from the Latin word praeteritus, and it means "past" or already gone by. Not to be confused with the futurist oriented term "pre-tribulationist" (which holds that most prophesied events of the Bible are still in the future), preterism teaches that the great tribulation has already occurred in the distant past.
While Christians that are accustomed to a futurist description of Bible prophecy are sometimes amused when they are first exposed to the audacious proposition that the great tribulation has already gone by, this is not at all a doctrine to be taken lightly. Many preterist writers and teachers are able communicators that are capable of constructing a convincing case for preterism - especially among pre-tribulationist believers that are vulnerable to opponents that are well versed in crucial aspects of prophecy. In short, don't underestimate the ability of preterists to draw away a substantial number of believers to their unscriptural position.
Preterism is actually a sub-set of the Post-Millennialist perspective. Post-Millennialism states that the church must grow in power in order to "Christianize" the world so that Christ can ultimately return to rule. The idea in post-mill is that the spirit of Christ that resides within the church will ultimately take dominion and bring about an era of truth and justice based on scriptural principles. Sometimes called reconstructionist or dominion theology, the concept of "post" millennial means that Christ will still return - except that he returns after the millennial reign of the church.
This view is actually quite similar to amillennialism - the teaching that the present age is actually the millennium - and it is not a literal 1,000 years. In amillennialism (meaning "no-millennium") and post-millennialism, the millennial passages that show a "reign" of Christ is more a spiritual concept wherein the various scriptural descriptions are identified with the current state of believers that have been made alive in Christ. According to the writer of The Last Days Handbook, these views depend on "a non-literal method of prophetic interpretation" that "leaves the door wide open... for the same kind of interpretation to be applied to other biblical matters, such as the deity of Christ, and the authority of the Bible." In essence, both views are teaching that the kingdom of God is to be fully politically empowered now, on the earth, before we see any physical return of Jesus Christ.
Historically, amillennialism has been promoted by Catholicism, and it can be definitively traced back to several early Catholic writers. It should be apparent that the institutional church would greatly benefit from a resurgence in postmillennialism for all political power is then placed in the position of having to answer to the organized ecclesiastical power - and historically that power has been based in Rome.
Significantly, a revival of post-millennialism, in the form of a focused preterism, is a development that has long been anticipated by those studying Bible prophecy. Because the Roman Catholic Church is prophetically scheduled to move back into a position of authority and pre-eminence among "Christians" around the world, we would expect a resurgence in a theology that has historically characterized the Catholic religion. That is precisely what is occurring in the renewed popularity of the preterist perspective.
Differing Shades Of Death
Not all preterists are of the identical persuasion. For example, some of the Protestant preterists teach that only part of the prophecies found in Matthew 24 have been fulfilled, while they say that other parts of those prophesies are yet future. Many preterists actually teach that Jesus Christ has already returned (in 70 AD at the destruction of Jerusalem), and that he is invisible. Others teach variations of the above two positions. They are all in serious error, for preterists are propagating a downright heretical system of prophecy that will lead many to ultimately embrace the Antichrist and his religious agenda. Indeed, within the ranks of preterism are the seeds of the final theological deception that will lead the corporate "Christian" church into the lake of fire.
One of the more aggressive of the current crop of preterists is a writer named Gary DeMar. In the process of promoting his book, Last Days Madness, he has energetically pursued the radio talk show circuit across the country. Along the way, DeMar has made many media converts that have now adopted the view. Incredibly, many previously orthodox mainstream Christian figures have enthusiastically embraced his presentation - thereby furthering the penetration of his false doctrine.
Other preterist writers are making dramatic inroads through a scholarly camaraderie with the rapture cult teachers that have been churned out of dispensationalist cloning compounds like Dallas Theological Seminary and Moody Bible Institute. A good example of this co-existence with spiritual corruption is found in the co-authored book The Great Tribulation: Past Or Future?
This work features a preterist writer (Kenneth Gentry) and a rapture writer (Thomas Ice), and it contains precious little truth from either. Worse yet, both false prophets bend over backwards with scholarly piety towards each other - echoing the prevailing ecumenical spirit that says, "we can agree to disagree" as "brothers" in Christ. The scriptures, of course, say, "what communion hath light with darkness?" Since they both know they both can't be right, it is gross compromise for each writer to generate revenue with a co-author that each writer obviously believes to be in error. Such is the state of compromise in Christianity today.
Dr. Kenneth Gentry is a Presbyterian minister, and as such is able to move easily within the ranks of that denomination through speaking and writing efforts.
In addition to DeMar and Gentry, a Baptist preacher named John Brag has relentlessly propagated the preterist pabulum for the last 30 years. Like Gentry working on the Presbyterians, Bray has had an enormous impact on the Baptists. Speaking in hundreds and hundreds of Baptist churches, and publishing approximately 2 million small booklets on the subject, Bray has converted many to his dissimulation. Al-though there are dozens of other influential preterists, we'll be focusing on these three writers in the present work.
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Date: 26 Mar 2005
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