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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
Todd Dennis, Curator
 


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The Errors of Hyper-Preterism

By Scott Kessler

Scott Kessler: Who Are God's Chosen People?

In response to numerous inquiries regarding full or hyperpreterism, I’ve decided to layout arguments as to why it is a heresy. Hyperpreterism teaches that ALL bible prophecy was fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, including the Second Advent, the Resurrection, and the Final Judgment. The view is unorthodox to say the least.

I’ll begin with a scriptural analysis, which will include prophesies from both the Old and New Testament that are unfulfilled. I’ll also address historical arguments, and look at the ramifications of such teaching, if carried to their logical end.

The Second Advent

“And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9-11)

The text, particularly the phrase “in like manner”, demands a physical, bodily return of Christ. Most hyper-preterists have been greatly influences by James Stuart Russell’s The Parousia, published in 1887. I won’t go into the details of their commentaries on Acts 1:9-11 as you can read them for yourself here. Some, such as Randall Otto, want to interpret the phrase “gazing up into heaven” as mere “spiritual perception”. This is a fable, an invention of human neurons There is absolute nothing in this entire passage supports the idea of mere "spiritual perception". We must take the text for what it says. The Apostles saw the Ascension of Christ, and were promised that He would return in like manner.


“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” (2 Peter 3:10)


The above text is less convincing, and even some orthodox (partial) preterists associate this with 70 AD. Their argument hinges on the idea that, in the New Testament, the phrase “the day of the Lord” refers to 70 AD, and  2 Peter 3:10 uses apocalyptic language similar to the Olivet Discourse. However, similar language is just that, similar language. This language is used to describe many events in the Old Testament (See Isaiah’s Prophecy against Babylon (Isaiah 13:1, 10), so why would we used it to describe only one event in the New Testament? The same is true with “the day of the Lord”. There were many “days of the Lord” in the OT (See Isaiah 13:6, 9), so why is there only one in the New?

I hold that Peter’s prophecy must refer to the Second Advent, due to the context of this passage. Peter is dealing with scoffers of the Second Advent who ask, “Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Peter 3:4). Peter responds, “beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8). Such a statement would be unnecessary if the event Peter was describing were going to happen within a decade or so.


"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)


The promise that Jesus gave to his disciples is that he would “will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” This passage has led to some very interesting, albeit unorthodox, theories concerning 70 AD. Some, like Ed Stevens, believe that the church was literally raptured to heaven in 70 AD. Many other theories abound among hyper-preterists as to how this was fulfilled, but the result is that most of them deny that there were any Christians left on planet earth after 70 AD. They will reject the idea that the Apostle John lived on earth up until the reign of Emperor Trajan, which is all but historical fact. Of course, that makes any reference to church history moot. Consider the words of Ed Stevens.

"Maybe some Church Fathers made a mistake. Maybe our favorite theologians have made mistakes. I can abide with that. I can’t abide with Jesus being a false prophet.”

Of course this assumes that Jesus prophesied the fulfillment of ALL prophecy (in a universal sense) by 70 AD, which He didn’t. In order to take Steven’s approach, one must reject the writings of any Christian who claims to have lived through 70 AD, such as Clement of Rome. Of course, if the church was indeed raptured in 70 AD, then what does that do for Christians today? This problem gets even more obvious in dealing with the Resurrection.

The Resurrection

“Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)
 

Both Partial and Full Preterism agree that, in opposition to Dispensationalism, there is but one resurrection. The righteous and wicked are raised up at the same time, just like John 5 states. The disagreement, however, is no minor one. Did the resurrection occur in 70 AD, or is yet future? Aside from the fact that there is no historical evidence of a resurrection in 70 AD, hyper-preterism faces the same dilemma as Dispensationalism in that it leaves at least one group of Christians without a resurrection, namely us. Most hyper-preterists are forced to step way outside of orthodox Christianity (if they weren’t there already) toward gnosticism when dealing with the resurrection. Max King and others deny the bodily resurrection. This is similar to the belief addressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.


“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)


Paul does go on to describe the resurrection in terms of a “spiritual body”, but it is clear that this Spiritual body has some continuity with the physical body. Jesus clearly promised to the literal resurrection of his followers (John 6:39-40, 44), stating that it would happen on the last day. Denying the physical resurrection clearly puts hyper-preterism outside of Christian Orthodoxy.

Others take a more unreasonable approach, claiming that the physical resurrection did in fact take place in 70 AD. Aside from the ramifications on the hope of modern saints, there needs to be an explanation as to why we still find bodies that pre-date 70 AD. Why, for example, was King Tut not bodily resurrected, since hyper-preterists believe that both the righteous and the wicked were resurrected in 70 AD? King Tut’s body was still in the grave when it was discovered.

The Promise of the Gospel

Jesus told his followers to “make disciples of all nations”, and guaranteed that He would be “…with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20). Were the disciples disobedient? Is Jesus no longer with us? Have all nations been made disciples? What do we make of the passages that guarantee the success of the gospel? (See Psalm 22:27-28, Isaiah 2:2-4, Habakkuk 2:14, Malachi 1:11). Have they been fulfilled?

Historical Issues

What are we to make of the churches historical writings concerning hyper-preterism? Clement of Rome, John, Josephus, Titus, Vespasian, Ignatius all lived through 70 AD. Were they resurrected and judged? If so, then didn’t seem to realize it. The believers who lived through this time period all looked forward to a future, bodily resurrection. The Christian church has ALWAYS taught a future Advent of Christ. You may, as Stevens did, assume that they were all wrong. According to Stevens’ view, the Second Advent, the Resurrection, and the Final judgment have all taken place, and every church father, including those who lived through it, all missed out on it. This is apparent from their writings as well as the Creeds and Confessions of the Church.

The Apostles Creed: "He shall come to judge the living and the dead."
The Nicene Creed: "He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end."
The Athanasian Creed: "From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead."

Ramifications

If, in fact, all Bible Prophecy has been fulfilled, as hyper-preterism teaches, then what do we make of Christianity today? Have the Jews abandoned their false religion in favor of Christianity, thus bringing greater blessings to the gentiles (Romans 11:24-26)? What of God’s law? Is it still valid since heaven and earth have passed away (Matthew 5:17-18)? What about the Lord’s Supper (<1%20Corinthians%2011:26&version=47">1 Corinthians 11:26)? Why are we still marrying and giving in marriage (Luke 20:35)? What of our resurrection and judgment? Has the great Commission been fulfilled (Matthew 28:18-20)? Is Jesus still sitting at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110:1)? If not, where is He? Such a belief system tends to lead toward gnosticism and, in the case of the modern church, deism. Hyper-preterism is as ridiculous as it is unorthodox.

 

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