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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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Reply to Kingdom Counsel

By Engbert Vander Werff

     Dear readers of Kingdom Counsel, this reply comes a little late, but "better late than never." Let me refresh your memory. Kingdom Counsel wrote a critique of an article I wrote for Christian News (CN). The critique, under the title "Christ Returned in 70 AD," filled most of the June 1989 Search The Scriptures. I appreciate the opportunity Kingdom Counsel has given me to write this response to this article.

     Kingdom Counsel admitted I took some time to investigate what Preterists believe. He is right. By God's grace I have thought, talked, and written about the Last Things for many years. Since in His mercy the Lord Jesus Christ washed me clean from sin in the Jefferson County Jail over 25 years ago I have had a desire to know about the Last Things. For years I have known something about Preterism, but Amos Moore spurred me on to make a more detailed study of his particular kind. When I first read 7OAD'ers claims I couldn't believe my eyes! Our Lord returned already - the Last Judgment past - the end of the world already happened - all in 70 AD! Please realize I have studied the Bible and Christian history with an almost unquenchable zeal - the Church Fathers, Medieval writings and the Reformers. I was utterly flabbergasted by 70 AD'ers claims! Please forgive me for coining a new word - but "70 AD'er" is a useful non-Latin term to distinguish between it and other kinds of Preterism.

     Jeffrey claims the Bible supports his views. When I, by God's grace, first became a Christian I read the N.T. through many times in a short time. Never did I ever read - or dream - that our Lord had already returned. I read that the longing for His return was a Christian's hope (I Thess 1:10, etc). We are warned to be prepared for His return - "But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delays his return" (St. Mat. 24-48-51). How can Preterists be preparing for His return? The whole N.T. atmosphere is one of a bride waiting and longing for her lover's return - it ends with the words, 'Return, Lord Jesus.' This hope has been kept alive through the centuries - in the early Church, the middle ages and the Reformation. It appeared in many forms - sermons, plays, songs, pictures, frescoes, stained glass, maps, was chiselled in stone above church portals, etc..

     I believe the Word of God in its totality speaks to us today (All Scripture is given by inspiration of God ... is profitable .... 2 Tim 4:16). Certain Premils claim the Sermon on the Mount isn't for us but for a future millennium age - so out come the 'scissors.' Now certain Preterists say prophecies, including the book of Revelation, were all fulfilled in 70 AD. Are they then profitable anymore for today.? Is this safe? Is this not takng away from Holy Scripture? (Remember it says ALL Scripture)

     Did the Apostles teach and the early Church believe that the return of Christ was imminent, and would happen in their generation? Preterists say "yes" (By the way, so do extreme modernists like Berkouwer). The Apostle Paul warned the Thessalonians not to expect the Christ's coming yet because, 'there must first be a falling away from the (Christian) faith.' And then Paul pointed to Daniel.

     The prophecies of Daniel 2 and 7 described the rise and fall of future empires, and the Son of Perdition - the Battle horn. In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar saw the future pictured as a large image. The image stood on two legs - historians point to the East and West Roman empire. It had 2 feet with 10 toes- Daniel explains this as, The kingdom shall be divided ..... After Rome fell there was a divided world -i.e., no empire like Rome arose. 2 Thess 2 and Revelation 13 takes up the thread. Revelation describes a beast with 7 heads and 10 horns. Out of the divided world (ten horns) comes the Son of perdition. Believers in the Early Church read Daniel and 2 Thess 2 and realized Rome would fall - you can find this in their writings -because of this they realized Christ's coming would not be imminent.

     It is not essential to salvation that we agree on every point of eschatology (Last Things). But it is essential for salvation that we accept what the Lord says. He says He will return like this: 'The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up...' He says that He will judge the world when He returns like this: 'And I saw the dead... stand before God; and the books were opened ..... This didn!t happen in 70 A.D?

(Permission to Reprint Graciously Granted by Kingdom Publications)


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