BOOKS: BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)
AD70 Dispensationalism: According to
that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'.
Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking
the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only
Herod's Temple in Jerusalem
fell. Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old
Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of
Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
AD70 Dispensationalism: According to that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'. Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only when Herod's Temple in Jerusalem fell. Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
material is being archived for balanced representation of all preterist views,
but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond
the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The
classification of all full preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built
upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and
the convictions of
the website curator (a
former full preterist pastor). The HyP
theology of final resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70
(end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors
through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up
to 1845, when the earliest known full preterist book was written.
Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between
Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and
THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"
"Full preterist" material is being archived for balanced representation of all preterist views, but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The classification of all full preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and the convictions of the website curator (a former full preterist pastor). The HyP theology of final resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70 (end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up to 1845, when the earliest known full preterist book was written. Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and fundamentally different.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"
SOME DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES OF SYSTEMATIZED HYPER PRETERISM
It is important to keep in mind that many ideas and doctrines full preterism appeals to - such as the complete end of the Old Covenant world in AD70 - are by no means distinctive to that view. Many non HyPs believe this as well, so one need not embrace the Hyper Preterist system in order to endorse this view. Following are exceptional doctrines which, so far as I've seen, are only taught by adherents of Hyper Preterism.:
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY STANDARD FULL PRETERISM
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY VARIOUS FORMS
A Response to Ken Gentry's "A Brief Theological Analysis of Hyper-Preterism"
By Walt Hibbard
The author of this critique of the full preterist view
of eschatology is none other than the distinguished
pastor, seminary professor, and Christian
Dr. Kenneth Gentry. He is well known
in Presbyterian and Reformed circles and is a champion
of covenant theology and related topics, as well as
being the author of several books on eschatology and
Ken is a partial preterist who divides Matthew 24 into two sections: vss. 1-35 to be fulfilled by AD 70, and vss. 36-51 to be fulfilled by the end of the material world. This interpretation of Matthew 24 is easily refuted by considering the material in Luke 17:20-37 which intermingles the time frame distinctions that Ken labors so hard to keep separate by some 1900 years! This comparison of Matthew with Luke is always an embarrassment to those who insist on dividing Matthew 24 into two widely separated periods of time which the Scripture does not allow. Ken therefore believes that the Second Coming of Christ, the Judgment and the Resurrection of the Body will all coincide with the end of the material world at some time in the future. His view is known as a partial preterist post-millennial view, one of many systems of interpretation postulated under the banner of futurism.
Having been a covenant theologian for many years now, it must seem odd to Ken to now find himself in a debate opposing a viewpoint which, more than any other, deserves the name of covenant eschatology, the full preterist position! The salvation of which the prophets wrote was all to be fulfilled in connection with the Judgment against Jerusalem and its Temple (Luke 21:22) along with other events encompassed by the statement that "salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22). Paul, looking expectantly toward the soon-to-be-fulfilled events resulting in a complete salvation, was able to say that "our salvation is nearer than when we believed" (Rom. 13:11) and "if somehow I may attain to a resurrection out of the dead" (Phil. 3:11).
It would seem to be inconsistent for Ken, who regularly demolishes the arguments of dispensationalists who insert a church age parenthesis between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel's prophecy (Dan. 9:24-27), to also create a similar hiatus which is already over 1900 years and counting, between the Cross/ Resurrection/ Pentecost/ Great Tribulation events already fulfilled and the yet-to-be-fulfilled Second Coming, the Judgment, the Resurrection of the Body, and the New Heaven and Earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (II Peter 3:13). It will not do to pass by the Luke 21:22 passage which was to enjoy fulfillment during the "days of vengeance when all things that have been written are to be fulfilled." Matt. 16:27, 28 speaks of Judgment/Second Coming events which were to occur within the lifetime of some, not all, of those people listening to the voice of our Lord. Both Scriptures point unmistakably to the AD 70 period of the first century, the "this generation" spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 23 and 24.
When I saw that Ken framed his paper around such emotionally-charged words as "hyper-preterism," "heterodox," "failure," "errors," etc., I was disappointed. Such language has the effect of discouraging bright young students of the Scriptures from pursuing advanced eschatological studies which may take them beyond the generally accepted creedal formulations. If the creeds were completely accurate and trustworthy in every detail such a word of warning would be in order. However, none of the historic Reformed creeds and confessions claim infallibility but instead always subordinate their teachings to the body of Holy Writ, the Bible. Only the Bible is without error! This means that the confessions may actually contain error in some of their parts. A survey of the historic confessions and creeds shows that the subject of eschatology receives less attention and space than most of the other subjects. There is a reason for this topic being short-shrifted; namely, that at the time that the creeds were written there were no significant eschatological debates going on that needed to be settled. Hence, only the most vague and fragmented language is employed when it comes to eschatology. Often the supporting Scripture references that have been chosen are taken out of context and misinterpreted to demonstrate the creedal statement. Yet students of the Scripture are expected to stop short in their tracks if differences of interpretation should arise from in-depth studies that serve to call into question some of the long-held-to formulations.
It is of course always easier (and much safer!) to submissively remain within the creedal limitations by not asking the wrong questions, not suggesting the wrong answers, or by not reading the wrong books! But is such a method of study honoring to our Lord, Who is the Author of the Scriptures through holy men of God who were carried along by His Holy Spirit? To engage in studies from this perspective actually amounts to reading the Bible through the creeds rather than the other way around!
In my response to Ken I will try to use words that are free from emotional charge as much as possible. I have enjoyed fellowship with Ken for many years and I appreciate the excellent work that he has done in various fields of study. I shall respond to each of Ken's objections in the same order as he has listed them.
[GENTRY] First, hyper-preterism is heterodox. It is outside of the creedal orthodoxy of Christianity. No creed allows any Second Advent in A.D. 70. No creed allows any other type of resurrection than a bodily one. Historic creeds speak of the universal, personal judgment of all men, not of a representative judgment in A.D. 70. It would be most remarkable if the entire church that came through A.D. 70 missed the proper understanding of the eschaton and did not realize its members had been resurrected! And that the next generations had no inkling of the great transformation that took place! Has the entire Christian church missed the basic contours of Christian eschatology for its first 1900 years?
[HIBBARD] It is true that the creeds do not recognize a past Second Advent in AD 70. In spite of the words of Jesus in Matt. 16:28 and Matt. 24:34 (and parallel passages) the men who formulated the creeds continued to look for a future physical manifestation. In the entire NT the idea of imminency stands out in bold relief. The AD 70 time frame was clearly set forth as the time when all that the prophets had spoken would be fulfilled (Luke 21:22). In whatever manner this complete fulfillment took place, one thing is certain. It was a great covenantal unfolding of previously predicted events including the Second Advent (Matt. 24:29-30; I Thess. 4:16,17), the Judgment on apostate Judaism (Matt. 24:15-28 and parallels), the Judgment of the Nations (Matt. 25:31-46), the Resurrection of the Dead (I Cor. 15:35-54), the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9) and more, that actually did happen when Jesus said it would, in that generation, while some, but not all, of His listeners were still alive. It was the winding down of the Old Covenant Age and the beginning of the New Covenant Age from AD 30 to 70, the latter days (Acts 2:16,17; II Tim. 3:1; I John 2:18) that the NT writers spoke of as being then present. Peter looked for a New Heaven and Earth in his day (II Pet. 3:10-14). It is abundantly clear that Jesus and the Apostles were expecting to see the fulfillment of all of these great events in the first century. Were they wrong? Did these things actually happen as prophesied? By faith we know that Jesus kept His promises! Could it be that the men who formulated the creeds were wrong? As R. C. Sproul stated in his presentation, The Problem of Imminency, at a closed symposium in Orlando, Florida in 1993 at which Ken was also a participant: "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..." And neither should we!
[GENTRY] Second, hyper-preterism has serious implications for the perspicuity of Scripture. This viewpoint not only has implications for the later creeds, but for the instructional abilities of the apostles: no one in church history knew the major issues of which they spoke - until very recently! Are the Scriptures that impenetrable on an issue of that significance? Clement of Rome lived through A.D. 70 and had no idea he was resurrected! He continued to look for a physical resurrection (Clement 50:3). Jude's (supposed) grandsons still sought a physical resurrection (cf. Eusebius, EH 3:24:4). Whoever these men were, they come right out of the first generation and in the land of Israel - with absolutely no inkling of an A.D. 70 resurrection or a past Second Advent. See also the Didache 10:5; 16:1ff (first century); Ignatius, Trallians 9:2; Smyrnaens 2:1; 6:1; Letter to Polycarp 3:2 (early second century); Polycarp 2:1; 6:2; 7:1. See also Papias, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr.
Berkouwer rightly notes that the reason the resurrection found early creedal acceptance was because of the clear emphasis of the New Testament. The hyper-preterist view has serious and embarrassing implications for the perspicuity of Scripture - and despite the fact we are now (supposedly) in our resurrected states and have the outpoured Holy Spirit and His gift of teachers who were to protect us from every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4)!
[HIBBARD] The men who wrote the Scriptures in the first century (all before AD 70 as Ken has ably demonstrated in his book 'Before Jerusalem Fell') were in complete agreement that the great prophesied events spoken by the prophets were about to be fulfilled. Every NT book except Philemon attests to this. How did the Apostles come by this view? Evidently from Jesus Himself (Matt. 16:27, 28 and other passages)! There was the constant air of expectancy: James said that "the coming of the Lord is at hand" (Jas. 5:8). He also said, "the Judge is standing at the door!" (Jas. 5:9). Paul speaks of the "Day approaching" (Heb. 10:25) and in I Cor. 10:11 "upon whom the ends of the ages have come." Peter tells his readers that "the end of all things is at hand" (I Pet. 4:7). John said "that the world is passing away" (I John 2:17). The apostolic teaching was abundantly clear to the people that lived in that first century. It simply is not true, as Ken believes the full preterist view teaches, that no one in church history knew what the main issues of eschatology were until recently. Any intelligent and devout Jew who was acquainted with the OT Scriptures, especially the judgments against Edom (Isa. 34:4,5), Babylon (Isa. 13:1,9,10) and Egypt (Isa. 19:1), would understand how to interpret those great symbolic passages of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 17 & 21). The invasion of the Roman armies, the destruction of the Temple, the suffering and mass murder of those in the city of Jerusalem at the hands of the Zealots and Romans, with the fleeing of the Christians to Pella (Matt. 24:16), were all events which would take place visibly within the lifetime of that first century generation. Make no mistake, the Lord is very careful to associate these plainly physical judgment events with those other imminent events that would not be physically visible but which would all occur at the same time. It is not left to conjecture, Jesus plainly tells us in Matt. 24:29, that the Second Advent will follow immediately after the days of great tribulation! The resurrection is associated with the Second Advent according to I Cor. 15:23. "But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming." The first century Christians would not have dreamed of a 2,000 year postponement of these imminent first century events. They were convinced that Jesus would keep His promises. How can we explain then that subsequent generations of Christians did not recognize the past fulfillment of those momentous events? There is some historical evidence that a few later Christians did understand this, but for the most part, they did not. A number of explanations could be given. One that is plausible is that after Christianity moved out from under the wing of Judaism, it became evident that the main source of persecution was no longer apostate and corrupt Judaism, but rather imperial Rome. As the Christians looked to their Bibles for direction to combat the Roman persecution, it would become natural for these post-AD 70 believers to thoughtlessly revert back to the apocalyptic passages of Scripture that had given them such comfort and help during the pre-AD 70 period. Since the human mind tends to be carnal, the largely spiritual and heavenly promises that accompanied the AD 70 tribulation were erroneously applied in connection with the then-current persecutions of that day. Hence these second century Christians forsook the fulfilled blessed hope of the first century Apostles and their Lord in favor of a "futurism" that has extended itself to this very day, 1900 years later with still no literal fulfillment happening! Sinful man is prone to remember the material things, such as the demise of the Temple and its worship system, and yet forget spiritual things, as we all know. The arguments that Ken poses in his second objection are interesting to discuss but do not carry any weight against the plain teaching of the Bible. Do we rely on the testimony of the early church fathers to tell us authoritatively whether events that occurred in an invisible and spiritual sense as promised by Jesus and His followers were actually fulfilled as stated, or do we rely on the Word of God and the integrity and honor of Jesus Christ Himself? Did Jesus reliably inform us of not only the WHAT but also the WHEN? Is it the Bible or tradition that we are to believe?
[GENTRY] Third, the hyper-preterist system leaves the New Covenant Christian (in our post A.D. 70 era) without a canon. If all prophecy was fulfilled prior to A.D. 70 and if the entire New Testament spoke to issues in the pre-A.D. 70 time frame, we do not have any directly relevant passages for us. The entire New Testament must be transposed before we can use it.
[HIBBARD] I am surprised that Ken suggests that the full preterist view leaves New Covenant Christians (post AD 70) without a canon. Just because numerous events were imminent to the first century Christians and soon found a complete fulfillment in AD 70, does not in any way leave us without a canon! He complains that this view denies us of any NT Scripture being written directly to us. Ken is quick to chide our Baptist brethren for not giving full weight to OT verses on circumcision when infant baptism is being discussed. They hold that unless the OT teaching is repeated in the NT, the doctrine is invalid. For Baptists the OT does not carry the same weight of authority as the NT because it was not written directly to us. They employ a dispensational hermeneutic that militates against the unity of the covenants. Ken, in this third point, seems to be using borrowed dispensational arguments in attacking the full preterist position. Does he see the OT as a problem for us today since it was not written directly to us? Are its teachings less valuable to us today since we are not the recipients of those OT books? Of course not! So it is with the NT. True, some of the misinterpretations that have developed as a result of a faulty understanding of the eschatological passages will need to be corrected in Biblical studies so as to take into account that the prophetic Scriptures have already been fulfilled. But this is not the same as saying that we are left without a canon.
[GENTRY] Fourth, hyper-preterism suffers from serious errors in its hermeneutical methodology. When a contextually defined passage applies to the A.D. 70 event, the hyper-preterist will take all passages with similar language and apply them to A.D. 70, as well. But similarity does not imply identity; Christ cleansed the Temple twice and in virtually identical ways; but the two events are not the same. Furthermore, we must distinguish sense and referent; there are several types of "resurrection" in Scripture: the dry bones of Eze. 37; spiritual redemption in John 5:24; physical redemption at the grave in John 5:28; Israel's renewal in Christ in Rom. 11:15; and of the Beast in Rev. 13:3. I hold that passages specifically delimiting the time-frame by temporal indicators (such as "this generation," "shortly," "at hand," "near," and similar wording) are to be applied to A.D. 70, but similar sounding passages may or may not be so applied.
[HIBBARD] Ken finds fault with full preterists for applying passages having similar language to the AD 70 period when actually two widely-separated time frames may be in view. Of course this gets into the matter of properly determining the context, something not always so easily solved and which can involve circular reasoning. For example, one could say that a verse does not apply to AD 70 because it instead applies to the end of the material world. Whether this is true or not can not be determined by merely asserting it. The Scripture itself must determine the context. If the entire OT looks toward the days of the Messiah as the time of fulfillment, and the NT itself tells us that "this is that of which the prophet spoke" (Acts 2:16) and "these are days of vengeance that all things which are written may be fulfilled" (Luke 21:22), then that ought to settle the question of context. Ken's hermeneutic requires that unless a specific passage delimits the time-frame by words such as "shortly," "at hand," "near," etc., then he automatically relegates that passage to the end of the material world. However, this does violence to sound hermeneutic principles. Is it really necessary each time for the NT author to keep repeating himself so as to be careful to use just those certain words in order for him to be speaking about the period that is the subject of the entire NT message? Would it be reasonable for Christ's audience to assume that each time he leaves out (or adds) that magic word or two, the time frame automatically shifts 2000 years into the future, making Jesus to be suddenly speaking about events that would be of no interest or value to people living in the first century? Yet this is precisely what Ken does with Matthew 24:36 in ascribing "that day and that hour" to the end of the material world when up to that point in the chapter it is clearly the AD 70 period that is in view! Other scholars have proven that there is no time break in Matthew 24 at all. It ought to be clear that Ken's hermeneutic system should be scrutinized. It is not dissimilar, in my opinion, to the dispensational method of interpreting the Scriptures by requiring a doctrine taught in the OT to be repeated in the NT in order to be valid for NT Christians.
[GENTRY] Fifth, there is a serious problem with the removal of the physical resurrection from systematic theology. Christ's resurrection is expressly declared to be the paradigm of our own (1 Cor. 15:20ff). Yet we know that His was a physical, tangible resurrection (Luke 24:39), whereas ours is (supposedly) spiritual. What happens to the biblically defined analogy between Christ's resurrection and ours in the hyper-preterist system?
[HIBBARD] We have to be very careful in our language and conclusions when we are dealing with the resurrection. Indeed Christ's resurrection is likened to our own, so we need to be clear about the nature of Christ's glorified resurrection body. Question: Was Christ's resurrected body exactly the same as His body before He went to the Cross and was resurrected? Careful thinking indicates that it was not identical to what it was before. It had some physical properties and it had some spiritual properties. It was a spiritual body (I Cor. 15) and we can expect to receive a similar body to His. We are not told a great deal about what a spiritual body is like in the NT. He was able to become invisible at will and was able to pass through walls and closed doors on occasion yet he ate some fish and demonstrated to Thomas the physical nature of his injuries at the time of the Cross. Ken suggests that full preterists would remove all reference to a physical resurrection from systematic theology. This is manifestly not true! But Christ's resurrection was so much more than a mere dead corpse brought back to life again (I Cor. 15:42-49). He was transformed and glorified, never to die again, unlike Lazarus who later died physically. It is not accurate to contrast, as Ken does, Christ's resurrection as a purely physical resurrection and ours as a spiritual resurrection which he thinks full preterists hold to. A careful study of the fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians (and other passages) shows what kind of body the Christians received in AD 70. As they were translated to Heaven they received glorious spiritual bodies, suitable for eternity. By the time of Christ's resurrection, He had already preached to the souls in Hades (Eph. 4:8-10; I Pet. 3:19; Ps. 68:18), informing them that the final and perfect sacrifice for sin had been accomplished and that they were to enter into the Heavenly realm along with the NT saints (I Thess. 4:13-14). Christ was the firstfruits of the resurrection and believers follow in His train. Today, as in NT times (contrasted with OT times), believers at the time of their death are clothed in their new resurrection bodies (II Cor. 5) and enter into the joy of the Lord that is the portion of all believers some day. OT saints were required to wait in Hades until such time as Christ completed His perfect redemptive work and only then would they be united with Christ in Heaven. But with Christ having accomplished His finished work, we immediately receive our glorified bodies when He calls us to Himself (Heb. 9:27). There is no waiting today for this; no "disembodied spirits" like some theologians speak of as if we would be required to wait until the resurrection at a supposed end of the material world.
[GENTRY] Sixth, there are numerous other theological and exegetical problems with a spiritual-only resurrection. For one thing, the hyper-preterist view tends to diminish the significance of the somatic implications of sin: Adam's sin had physical effects, as well as judicial and spiritual effects; where are these taken care of in the hyper-preterist system? Death's implications are not just judicial and spiritual, but also physical (Gen. 3:14, 19; Rom. 6:23). If Christians now are fulfilling the resurrection expectation of Scripture, then the gnostics of the early Christian centuries were correct! The physical world seems to be superfluous, in the hyper-preterist viewpoint. The anthropology of hyper-preterism is defective in this, not allowing the theological significance of the body/soul nature of man (Gen. 2:7). This can also have implications for the person of Christ and the reality of His humanity.
[HIBBARD] In his comments here, Ken seems to cling to the spiritual-only resurrection idea for full preterists (repeating his error under Fifth above) whereas that is not what we full preterists believe at all. Further, he tells us that Adam's sin had physical effects as well as judicial and spiritual, inferring that full preterists deny this. Perhaps, rather, it is a matter of emphasis. We have to keep in mind that God promised Adam that in the day that he would sin, he would surely die (Gen. 2:17). Yet Adam lived physically for over 930 years! But in the day that he sinned, he actually died spiritually (Gen. 3). Throughout Scripture it is the spiritual death of Adam that is emphasized over and over again. It is from the effects of spiritual death (or death as a consequence of sin) that is stressed (Rom. 5:12). In fact, the physical aspect seems to take on an overblown significance in the minds of many theologians today, far more emphasis than the Scriptures seem to attach to it. It is in fact even subject to some speculation in some circles whether or not animal and human life would have died physically if Adam had not sinned. While we don't know the full answer to this hypothetical question since the Scripture does not tell us, we do know that the whole redemptive plan is posited as a solution to man's sin as a spiritual separation from God. The two references that Ken lists as supporting the physical idea, Gen. 3:14,19 and Rom. 6:23, hardly offer the kind of support that his previous statements demand. Surely he would admit that the latter passage deals only with spiritual death in line with the great redemptive themes, and to require it to mean more than that is to read into it something that is simply not there. Both Genesis verses are weak in proving his point, too. Ken also believes that preterists think of themselves (and all Christians) as presently fulfilling the resurrection expectation. Surely this may be true corporately (refer to Max King's writings), but not in the same sense as when we receive our glorified resurrection bodies at the time God calls us Home to be with Him. Contrary to what Ken thinks, full preterists do not deny the body/soul nature of man, but only stress how the spiritual is more important than the physical (I Cor. 15:46,49) and nothing being taught by full preterists reflect unfavorably on the person of Christ, nor on His Deity/humanity nor on His bodily resurrection.
[GENTRY] Seventh, regarding the teaching of Christ and the Apostles, we must wonder why Paul was mocked by the Greeks in Acts 17 for believing in the resurrection, if it were not a physical reality. We must wonder why Paul aligned himself with the Pharisees on the issue of the resurrection (Acts 23:6-9; 24:15, 21). We must wonder why we Christians still marry and are given in marriage, since Christ said in the resurrection we will not marry (Luke 20:35). We must wonder why the apostles never corrected the widespread notion of a physical resurrection, which was so current in Judaism (cf. Josephus, Talmud, etc.). We must wonder why we "resurrected" Christians must yet die; why should we not leave this world like Enoch and Elijah? Furthermore, where and what is the resurrection of the lost (John 5; Rev. 20)? Paul considered Hymenaeus and Philetus as having made ship-wreck men's faith by saying the resurrection is past (2 Tim. 2:17-18). A wrong view of the resurrection is a serious matter to Paul.
[HIBBARD] It is confusing to read Ken's seventh point as he brings up several things pertaining to what he thinks is a denial of a physical resurrection. To a man, every preterist that I know believes that Christ rose from the dead in the same physical body that He dwelled in on earth (John 20:19; Luke 24:36-43), but there were significant differences that must not be overlooked. Surely the resurrection of the believer will be very much like Christ's resurrection (I Cor. 15:20) with the important difference that we do not have to prove to anyone that we were raised from the dead, which Christ's resurrection was calculated to demonstrate. Ken's comments about why Christians still marry and are given in marriage in this life if they have already been resurrected fails to make the distinction between the here and now compared to when Christians go to be with Christ in their resurrection bodies. He apparently does not grasp the difference between the corporate and individual aspects of the resurrection, the latter made possible by the reality of the former. He expresses more confusion in raising the question of why Christians still die if they are already resurrected. One could logically ask the same question in reference to Col. 3:1, namely, if we have been raised with Christ positionally, why strive to attain unto spiritual heights practically if we are already there? We are reckoned to be raised with Christ positionally yet while we remain in this life we seek to bring our experience into line with our standing with the help of God's Holy Spirit. Of course those who are unsaved are judged at the time of their death, resurrected in a body suitable for their eternal habitation, and cast into outer darkness forever. We are on solid ground, both in the case of the saved and the unsaved, to assign the judgment at physical death in view of Heb. 9:27 "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment". It is very interesting that Ken mentions Hymenaeus and Philetus from II Tim 2:17,18, as this is often given as a proof text by us full preterists to confirm our view of the resurrection. These men were suggesting that the resurrection (which the people had heard about through the Apostle Paul) had already occurred. Make no mistake, if the resurrection were to be thought of as a purely physical resurrection of body particles, it would have been an easy matter for anyone to dig up a cemetery plot and prove the whole idea a hoax! No, it would not have been that easy because the resurrection spoken of was different from the raising of the corpse of Lazarus. It was to be a glorious resurrection of spiritual bodies (I Cor. 15) that would not require a cemetery excavation to produce. These men, Hymenaeus and Philetus, undoubtedly understood the nature of the resurrection body correctly! If they did not, then surely the Apostle Paul would have corrected them on such an important issue as this. Instead he merely corrected the time of the resurrection as they understood it. They were getting ahead of the redemptive program of God since the great apostasy of II Thess. 2 had not come to full fruition and Paul thought it important enough to correct this misunderstanding. Serious reflection needs to be placed on this important passage in order to properly understand the nature of our resurrection bodies, something that many theologians, including Ken, overlook.
[GENTRY] Eighth, practically I wonder on the hyper-preterist view what the difference our resurrection makes in this life? We get ill and are weak on the same scale as those prior to the A.D. 70 resurrection. Did this glorious resurrection of the "spiritual body" have no impact on our present condition? A hyper-preterist analysis might leave us to expect that Paul looked to A.D. 70 as an agent of relief from the groanings and the temptations of the flesh (Rom. 7:25), yet we still have such - despite the supposed resurrection.
[HIBBARD] Ken asks the full preterist why we get sick and weak today just like people did before AD 70, and what difference did the glorious resurrection of our spiritual bodies really make? He doesn't really understand the full preterist view on how the events of AD 70 corporately, representatively, and redemptively relate to our life here and now on earth. God uses sickness, weakness, and even physical death itself to hone and polish us toward fuller sanctification and conformity to Christ. These things that are often hard to bear are tools in His hands to prepare us for Heaven in His presence. We must not lose sight of the fact that before the grand events of AD 70, the OT saints did not enter into God's presence at the time of their death; rather they waited in Abraham's bosom (Luke 16:22) until their redemption was consummated on Calvary's Cross and the resurrection of Christ occurred. We post-AD 70 believers have a tremendous advantage over the OT saints in every way! We have a completed salvation. The OT saints did not have that until they joined with first century believers at Christ's Second Advent.
[GENTRY] Ninth, Acts 1 clearly defines Christ's Second Advent in terms of His ascension, which was physical and visible. For example, in Acts 1:8-11 Luke is careful to say the disciples were "beholding" Him as He ascended; He was received "from the eyes of them" ( v. 9b); they were "gazing" as He was "going" (v. 10); they were "looking" (v. 11); they "beheld" (v. 11). Clearly His ascension was a visible and glorious phenomenon involving His tangible resurrected body. And there was an actual visible cloud associated with it (v. 10). The angelic messengers resolutely declare "this same Jesus" (i.e., the Jesus they knew for over three years, who is now in a tangible resurrected body) will "so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (v. 11). The Greek on tropon literally means "what manner." The Greek phrase "never indicates mere certainty or vague resemblance; but wherever it occurs in the New Testament, denotes identity of mode or manner" (A. Alexander, Acts, ad loc.). Consequently, we have express biblical warrant to expect a visible, bodily, glorious return of Christ paralleling in kind the ascension. The hyper-preterist position goes contrary to this clear teaching of Scripture.
[HIBBARD] Dr. Randall Otto has done an amazing study entitled, Coming in the Clouds: An Evangelical Case for the Invisibility of Christ at His Second Coming, in which he examines both the OT and NT concept of the cloud in relationship to the glory of God. I quote: "With the resurrection, Christ's body is glorified and His splendor is no longer hidden under a veil. Hence, when Paul encounters the risen Christ on the Damascus road, he is traumatized by the bright light, though uniquely spared. The Second Coming of Christ thus parallels the coming of God in the OT, being too glorious for human beings to behold and live." This book goes to show that the popular understanding of Christ's Second Advent may not agree with the overall teaching of Scripture. Paul's experience on the Damascus road is seldom mentioned in most studies of the Second Coming. It is important to note that Christ's glorified state could not be looked on by human eyes and that a veiling would always be necessary, else anyone looking on Him would die. It is clear, in the light of Christ's own promise to His disciples, that He did return in AD 70. If we are still looking for Him to return to earth today, then our concept of what the true doctrine of His return encompasses should be subjected to serious scrutiny. Dr. Otto's scholarly study can help us to "bridge the gap" in Second Coming understanding and help Christians today appreciate the insights of the preterist view. We also must not fail to understand that the Thessalonians were only partially confused that "the day of the Lord" had already come (II Thess. 2:1,2). Paul corrects them by a reminder that the apostasy must come first but offers no correction of what they obviously believed in, namely an invisible Second Coming!
[GENTRY] Tenth, if A.D. 70 ends the Messianic reign of Christ (cf. hyper-preterist view of 1 Cor. 15:24, 28), then the glorious Messianic era prophesied throughout the Old Testament is reduced to a forty year inter-regnum. Whereas by all accounts it is a lengthy, glorious era. A problem with premillennialism is that it reduces Christ's reign to 1000 literal years; hyper-preterism reduces it further to forty years! The prophetical expressions of the kingdom tend to speak of an enormous period of time, even employing terms that are frequently used of eternity. Does Christ's kingdom parallel David's so that it only lasts for the same time frame?
[HIBBARD] Ken cites I Cor. 15:24,28 as if this is speaking of the end of the Messianic reign of Christ which he believes full preterists hold to. Surely full preterists believe on the basis of Scripture passages quoted in Eleventh below that Christ will reign forever in His everlasting Kingdom. The "end" spoken of in the above passage should be understood as the end of the Old Covenant order, national Israel with its apostasy ready for judgment, even going back as far as the "blood of Abel until the blood of Zechariah" (Luke 11:51). Reference to the Kingdom in I Cor. 15:24 should be understood in the same sense as it is used in Matt. 21:43, with wicked Israel having the Kingdom taken from them and given to another nation, the New Covenant Church. Vs. 28 of I Cor. 15 surely does not mean that Christ ceases to reign once His enemies are put down, but rather that He reigns with the Father, being subject to Him for all eternity.
History and Church Errors
[GENTRY] Eleventh, hyper-preterists eternalize time, by allowing history to continue forever. This not only goes against express statements of Scripture, but also has God dealing with a universe in which sin will dwell forever and ever and ever. There is no final conclusion to the matter of man's rebellion; there is no final reckoning with sin. Christ tells us that the judgment will be against rebels in their bodies, not spiritual bodies (Matt. 10:28). The hyper-preterist system does not reach back far enough (to the Fall and the curse on the physical world) to be able to understand the significance of redemption as it moves to a final, conclusive consummation, ridding the cursed world of sin. The full failure of the First Adam must be overcome by the full success of the Second Adam.
[HIBBARD] The OT predicts in many places that Christ's Kingdom will last forever. For example, II Sam. 7:12-17; Dan. 4:3; 4:34; 6:26; 7:14,18. This strongly suggests that the material world will never end (Eph. 3:21; Ps. 105:8-10; Ps. 104:5). In the beginning God pronounced His creation as "very good." Even in the days of Noah's flood the earth continued to support life and His promise not to destroy the world again by a flood coupled with the re-statement of the covenant to Noah as an "everlasting covenant" would confirm this. Implied in the language of this covenant was not primarily the nature of the former method of destruction (by water) but rather assurance that God would not again destroy the world by any means at all! It is only a wooden-literal misinterpretation II Pet. 3 that leads people to believe that the world will be destroyed by fire, with the elements being dissolved and the works burned up. This passage is speaking of the destruction of apostate Judaism in AD 70 with the coming of the Day of God, Old Covenant system destroyed, New Covenant ushered in and expressed by the term "New Heavens and the New Earth" wherein dwells righteousness. The great Puritan theologian, John Owen, preached a sermon on II Peter 3 which beautifully sets forth this interpretation (Works of Owen, Vol. 9, pg. 131ff). Owen believed that he was living in the New Heaven and Earth in his own day! Ken's objection to history continuing forever does not seem to be supported by Scripture. For example, the matter of sin never being finally dealt with, as he describes it, troubles him. But didn't God deal with sin in a decisive way at the Cross? Hebrews 9:26 says "...but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." And yet our world today has countless manifestations of sin all around us. Is it really necessary for every last expression of sin to be eliminated in history? Even Ken's post-millennial view allows for not every single sinner to be saved during the present age as the Gospel eventually conquers the world. The full preterist view of history and the post mil view of history are very similar, both sharing an optimistic outlook. The full preterist view is much preferred, of course, as it is more scriptural in view of Rev. 14:6 which speaks of the everlasting Gospel, reaching out to a world of lost sinners, which would not make sense if sin did not remain in some sense throughout the age. In connection with Matt. 10:28, does Ken really believe that God casts physical bodies into hell? The Bible tells us in many passages that our bodies return to the dust or ground, not to hell. The spirit-souls of the lost are sentenced to hell. The resurrected spirit-bodies of the lost are consigned to hell, not their physical bodies, according to the historic Christian faith. Ken refers to the Second Adam overcoming the failure of the First Adam. Indeed, we have precisely this victory in Christ at the Cross and in the fulfilled redemption, the complete salvation that He consummated at His Second Coming in AD 70. The Scriptures assure us that He has fulfilled all things that the Law and the Prophets have promised would take place. "For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." (Luke 21:22).
[GENTRY] Twelfth, hyper-preterism has serious negative implications for ecclesiastical labor. Is the Great Commission delimited to the pre-A.D. 70 era, due to the interpretation of "the end" by hyper-preterists (Matt. 28:20)? Is the Lord's Supper superfluous today, having been fulfilled in Christ's (alleged) Second Advent in A.D. 70 (1 Cor. 11:26)?
[HIBBARD] The Great Commission predicted and commanded in Matt. 24:14 and Matt. 28:19, respectively, was fulfilled in the first century as clearly stated in Rom. 10:18; Col. 1:6,23; Rom. 10:18; 16:26. On the basis of Scripture it is not correct to claim that the Great Commission remains unfulfilled today, since the passages cited are inspired by God. But that does not mean that we are not to continue to preach the Gospel to the entire world in our day! The AD 70 date was a "point of reference" in a program that was to continue in obedience to our Lord's command as long as there are sinners to be reached for Christ. Full preterists, who preach a completed salvation in Christ, have a much better and richer message to preach since the reality and fulfillment is always better than merely the promise of salvation which existed prior to AD 70. Which would Ken rather have, a promissory note for $100,000 or that sum of money itself? The latter, of course! If the Second Coming, together with the deliverance of the saved souls from Hades who had died previous to AD 70, had not occurred, we today would have only a promised salvation like OT saints who remained in Hades until raptured and resurrected to Heaven by our Lord (I Pet. 3:18-19; Eph. 4:8; I Thess. 4:13-17). Now those who "sleep in Jesus" are ushered into God's very presence when He calls them Home. Likewise the Lord's Supper takes on a richer and fuller meaning for us today as the Lord meets with His people in a very special way on the Lord's Day. The term in I Cor. 11:26 "until He shall come" is again a "point of reference" that relates to a very special event. An illustration of this would be the mother who tells her son to be a good boy until she returns from the store. Would anyone seriously expect that the mother was directing her son to be a bad boy after she returns? Of course not! The Lord's Supper is an eternal sacrament to be observed whenever God's people come together in corporate covenant worship. Jesus is sacramentally present with the elements of His body and blood. Now that His Second Coming has taken place the completed salvation is offered to all who by sincere repentance and heartfelt faith put their trust in the Living Savior. No longer the promise of the full salvation alone; He has come and He dwells among His people as their Savior and their God! When God takes them Home at the time of death, unlike OT saints who had to await the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Second Advent before entering His presence, they are instantly escorted to the Glory of Heaven. What a salvation we have!
In closing, I wanted to present and summarize some of the "Scripturally logical" points that full preterists believe and why this viewpoint is correctly entitled "covenant eschatology."
1. The promises that were made by the Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples were given to real people living in the first century. It is to those same real people that the fulfillment of the promises must be given, while the time span of the old covenant was still in effect. For example, in Matt. 26:57, 63, 64, it is Caiaphas to whom the promise is given. It will not do to suggest that the fulfillment could be realized in some subsequent generation to someone related covenantally to Caiaphas as suggested by a late eminent professor at Westminster Seminary to this writer several years ago. The promise was to Caiaphas himself, "YOU will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power..."
2. The imminency verses in the NT were all inspired by God the Holy Spirit whether from the lips of our Lord or from His disciples. The Lord Jesus Christ did not lie in uttering these simple promises. Who among us would want our Lord to say to us on that day when we face him, "Why did you not believe Me?"
3. The promises of our Lord were given to the people of Judaism of the first century. The promises that our Lord and His apostles gave were nothing other than what the prophets centuries earlier had spoken of. They were not some new message but related to the old message of the prophets which were promises to Israel. Therefore they must be fulfilled to Israel. Israel as a nation did not exist covenantally after the destruction of the Temple and the demise of Jerusalem. The promises had to be fulfilled to first century Israel - finally and completely! And they were!
4. The promises were Jewish promises to the Jews and for the Jews, those who would continue by faith in the promises given to Abraham, together with believing Gentiles grafted into the main stalk of the olive tree (Rom. 11) making up the "all Israel" which shall be saved. "Salvation is of the Jews!"
5. The disciples of Jesus' day were not, as often suggested by those in scholarly circles, just ignorant fishermen. They were Jews who knew the Jewish history and religion much better than most of us do today. They understood the symbolic language of the prophets. With this background they sat under the teaching ministry of the greatest spiritual teacher ever to set foot on the face of the earth, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Therefore, they did not actually misunderstand the words and promises that were given to them during those three years of wonderful instruction about the Kingdom of God. They understood very clearly what was taught by their Lord including the imminency verses that sprinkle the NT. Both the Lord and His disciples knew that the "days of fulfillment" were at hand. Does not our Lord today expect us to understand and believe His teachings?
6. The unbelieving Jews of Jesus' day were looking for their Messiah, but when He arrived they did not recognize Him. They were looking for a different kind of Messiah than what Jesus turned out to be. They wanted a Messiah who would reign over a materialistic Kingdom with Jerusalem as its visible center. Jesus did not appear to them in the same way as they expected Him to. They missed their Messiah and the veil of unbelief hovers over this people to this very day. Could it be that the Church down through the centuries has repeated the error of the Jews by not recognizing the "signs of the times" when Jesus came the second time? Christians have been looking for centuries for a visible Second Advent in spite of our Lord's warning in Luke 17:20 that "the Kingdom of God does not come with observation." The orthodox Jews are still looking for their Messiah in this 20th century; the Church is still looking for the Second Coming of Jesus in this 20th century. Is it possible that the materialistic hope of both groups will never be realized? Something to ponder.
Date: 27 Sep 2006
Both Walt Hibbard and Kenneth Gentry are men who have a love for the Scriptures, but I am of the opinion that Bro. Hibbard has well met the objections of Bro. Gentry.
We all need grace to continue our attempts to keep the Scriptures relevant, and in historical perseptive at the same time. The Scriptures only have one essential meaning, and it behooves us to "study the Scriptures daily".
Pelham, N. C.
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