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 Courteous Response to Dr. Gary North's Vitriolic Essay
By Walt Hibbard
Dr. Gary North, the renowned Christian Reconstructionist figure, editor of the investment newsletter, Remnant Review, and prolific author of over fifty books, has taken aim against the rapidly growing Preterist movement. His latest effort consists of a 34-page, single-spaced, 8-1/2" x 11" article which he has made available to anyone who will send an email request to: Preterism@kbot.com. Dr. North's autoresponder will promptly send information so you can download and print out his article. It can also be viewed on one or more Preterist Web sites. I urge everyone to read his essay before considering my response in order to avoid any possible misunderstanding.
In this response where I quote from Scripture, I have chosen the Literal Translation of the Holy Bible (LITV), edited by Jay P. Green, Sr.
(1) A brief survey of the ancient Manichaen philosophy.
(2) Several Scripture passages that cross swords with Manichaenism.
(3) The Church Militant and the Church Triumphant.
(4) Creeds and Confessions on the Final Judgment.
(5) A modern movement that he identifies with Manichaenism.
(6) Following J. Stuart Russell, Preterists are guilty of serious error.
(7) Directives to church officers in dealing with Preterists.
(8) A final warning to the readers of his essay.
My response to Dr. North will argue these points:
(1) Whereas Reformed scholars and laymen who become Preterists adopt this position largely (but not exclusively) because of the New Testament's emphasis on the numerous and powerful imminency passages, our author chooses to discuss only one imminency verse, and that very briefly, in his entire 34-page article.
(2) Whereas the Scriptures do not teach that our material world will experience a cataclysmic upheaval at the end of time/history, our author's philosophical and eschatological system demands that history be concluded with the return of Christ, resurrection of the flesh, and a final judgment of sin.
(3) Whereas the Scriptures clearly teach that sin was decisively dealt with by Christ's propitiatory sacrifice on the Cross followed by His presentation to the Father in the Heavenly Sanctuary, our author accuses Preterists of teaching that sin will never be finally dealt with since sinful living will continue forever on the earth.
(4) Whereas ecclesiastical history has taught that the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant have always co-existed at least since the time of Abraham by means of evangelism and physical death, our author's eschatological system calls for God's redemptive plan throughout millennia of history (Plan A) to be replaced by a more effective method of dealing with sin's presence on the earth (Plan B).
(5) Whereas our author maintains that he and his fellow pseudo-preterists are thoroughly orthodox as defined by the early creeds and confessions of the Church, yet no historic creed nor confession ever allowed for any form of preteristic thought to influence their interpretations of the prophetic Scripture passages and world-ending events.
(6) Whereas today's confessing Reformed Preterists experientially testify as embracing their viewpoint only after much diligent Bible study and search for truth, accompanied by agony of soul and spirit, and reckoning the cost of rejection, our author lowers his own dignity by his labeling of these truth-seeking Christians as heretics, comparing them to Jehovah's Witnesses, and writing them off as being unworthy of bearing the name and testimony of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
(7) Whereas Dr. James Stuart Russell has written the most thorough and exegetically comprehensive book from a Preterist viewpoint yet to appear, our author chooses to ignore the noteworthy and scholarly efforts of a dozen or more contemporary Preterist writers who have refined and expanded upon Dr. Russell's efforts.
(8) Whereas the author considers rigid church discipline, including heresy trials, to be the best and only practical way to root out Preterists from the visible church, would it not be more charitable toward differing Christian brethren to allow them the benefit of the doubt to present their exegetical arguments on what they believe the Bible really teaches about God's dealing with sin and eschatological matters?
WHAT DID MANICHAENISM TEACH?
I found that Manichaenism as described in Baker's Dictionary of Theology is "connected with the Persian Manes (ca. A.D. 215-75) who in the middle of the third century proclaimed himself a prophet, enunciated his new doctrine and was finally executed. So far as they are known to us, his views, which are thought to derive from a certain Terebinthus, are a fusion of different elements in Persian dualism, Gnosticism, Marcionism and Christianity. There are two basic and opposing principles of good and evil, the elements of goodness in the world and man deriving from the former and of badness from the latter. Redemption is liberation of the good elements from the domination of the bad, with which matter seems to be predominantly though not exclusively associated. Christ is one who helped to this end, being now succeeded by Manes. There is a strong docetic element in the picture of Christ, and we are not surprised to learn that the resurrection is denied..."
The Concise Dictionary of the Christian Tradition adds that "there were two principles, producing respectively the good and bad souls of man, and there would be an ongoing struggle between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness, with the latter being destroyed by fire after 1468 years..."
There can be no doubt that Manichaenism was an ugly and false philosophical religion and in the words of Pope Leo I "the Devil reigned in all other heresies but that he had built a fortress and raised his throne in that of the Manichaeans."
But for Dr. North to suggest that the present day Preterist movement resembles Manichaenism is insulting, derogatory, and absolutely false, just like it would be to suggest that “Tylerite theonomy” is nothing more than Judaized legalism or hyper-covenantalism.
ARE PRETERISTS PERFECTIONISTS OR PELAGIANS?
References to Perfectionism or Pelagianism in this essay seem to be far- fetched and inapplicable to the Reformed theologians who have embraced Preterism. Several such men that I know personally have degrees from prestigious Reformed seminaries and have not compromised their Calvinism in the least as they have gained insight into Preterist eschatology.
I was surprised to read in several places that Dr. North was not quite able to determine which label, Manichaenism or Perfectionist/Pelagian, Dr. J. Stuart Russell should be assigned. If he is unable to definitely determine where Dr. Russell was coming from in his 560-page book, The Parousia, perhaps he would do well instead to suggest that neither of these labels should be affixed to that great 19th century British Congregationalist minister who contributed such a vast amount of insight to the church in its understanding of eschatology.
How much better to recognize Dr. Russell's accomplishments, like C. H. Spurgeon did, than to speculate on what heretical label from ancient church history might be slapped on him simply because he may have disagreed with the author's philosophy of history. Many in Dr. Russell's day were impressed by the content of The Parousia, as the testimonies in the foreword of the second edition (1887) demonstrate. Contrast Dr. North's appraisal of The Parousia with the words of Dr. R. C. Sproul, Sr., who, in his endorsement of the book, wrote the following statement: "I believe that Russell's work is one of the most important treatments on Biblical eschatology that is available to the church today." Dr. North’s comments about Russell remind us of what the Romanists said against the Reformers.
WHAT ABOUT THE IMMINENCY VERSES, DR. NORTH?
No student of the Bible has ever been inclined to adopt Preterism without a serious and sustained inquiry into the numerous "imminency statements" in the New Testament. This is what Preterism is all about, first and primarily. This is what Dr. R. C. Sproul, Sr. means when he speaks of preteristic ideas as involving a "paradigm shift" in our thinking.
I was disappointed to find in reading his essay that Dr. North refuses to thoroughly exegete even one imminency statement in the New Testament. It is true that he briefly mentions Matt. 24:34 on page 18 of the article, but no extensive study is done on this important verse. Yet what he does write only compounds the errors already made by the pseudo-preterist camp. He states: "Everything prior to this verse was fulfilled by the fall of Jerusalem. In contrast, the separation of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 has always been seen by the church as referring to the final judgment. [So what else is new? The Romanists always and everywhere taught a lot of other doctrines that had to be reformed in the Reformation.] Heretical preterism contends that Matthew 25 is governed by the prophetic time frame of Matthew 24:34. Indeed, all New Testament prophecy is said to be governed by this verse." Dr. North concludes his study of Matt. 24:34 with the following: "The point is, this passage is not comprehensive. It applies to the events described in Matthew 24, but we may not legitimately assume that it covers every eschatological passage in the New Testament, which is what heretical preterists assume and then attempt to prove it."
What is so interesting about our author's comments above is that he implies that some kind of "coming of Christ" was included in the "all these things" of Matt. 24:34. Of course he is forced to admit as much. What recognized school of eschatology in church history has ever taught that verses 30 and 31 did not pertain to the Second Coming of Christ? Why then does he fault Preterists for assigning a Second Coming fulfillment to these verses since they precede vs. 34? Dr. Tommy Ice pointed out this inconsistency of the pseudo-preterist view in his debate with Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
What are the alternatives? Dr. North is forced to admit one of several possible interpretations, namely, (A) the coming in A.D.70 was only an insignificant, local coming in judgment against the Jewish nation alone, with really little or no worldwide significance, merely a type of what the church can expect later. Hence we are to look for another coming, a third coming, at the end of the material world accompanied by the chain of end-time events as foretold by Jesus and His apostles, or (B) the events described in the Olivet Discourse should be viewed as a mixture of data with confused fulfillments, some relating to A.D.70, where the destruction of Jerusalem is directly mentioned, and others, where the Second Coming is referenced, to the end of the world, or (C) the Second Coming promised by Jesus Christ in Matthew 24 and scheduled for fulfillment within that first century generation actually happened when Jesus said it would, and was immediately followed by the long prophesied redemptive events including the Resurrection of the Dead, the Judgment of the Nations, and the New Heavens and Earth, thus fulfilling God's promises to His ancient people Israel and establishing His New Covenant with both believing Jews and Gentiles, the Church. This is the Preterist view.
Our author leaves his readers with no doubt as to where he stands as he opts for alternative (A) above. On page 23 he writes: "Christ's final corporate judgment of the Old Covenant order in A.D. 70 teaches Christians to expect a future corporate judgment of the whole world. After a long period, from Abraham's call until A.D.70, Christ returned to require a final accounting from that nation which had long possessed the kingdom of God. At that time, He transferred His kingdom to the church (Matt. 21:43), which is now an international institution, a new nation. He will come again in judgment to require a final corporate accounting from His people and from all mankind, as John taught in Revelation 20:12-15."
So how does the Preterist respond to Dr. North's view of these events? What is wrong with his understanding of God's plan? What does the Bible have to say about all of this?
First: Nowhere in the New Testament is there even a hint that the events that Jesus prophesied would find their fulfillment only after several thousand years had passed by. Rather, Jesus told his disciples that the time of fulfillment of all that was written was associated with the judgment on Jerusalem within that generation (Luke 21:22, 32). The New Testament authors, who were taught by Jesus Himself, sprinkled their writings with imminency passages, not only relating to the Second Coming of Christ, but also predicting other events that would accompany His Second Coming, within their own lifetime. For example, I Cor. 15:23 places the Resurrection in the same time frame as the Second Coming. Words such as "soon," "near," "about to," "at the door," "quickly," "at hand," "this generation," etc., written to first century Christians, demand a first century fulfillment. Could it be that our author has assigned a different meaning to these words in order to support his own post-millennial futurist system?
Second: Our author asserts that "the corporate judgment of the Old Covenant in A.D.70 teaches Christians to expect a future corporate judgment of the whole world." How so? Where is the Scripture to support that conclusion? Perhaps we should expect another Atoning Sacrifice at Calvary! And why not another Day of Pentecost? Were not both of these events very Jewish in character also? Surely the Second Coming was every bit as much a one-time redemptive event as the other two events mentioned above. In no way, therefore, does Dr. North's assertion prove his case. A Mormon could just as easily assert that their whole system is the fulfillment of the “types.” Is Dr. North’s assertion any more substantiated by Scripture than the Mormons or anyone elses?
Third: By what authority does Dr. North feel free to postpone the fulfillment of Rev. 20:12-15 out of the context of the Book of Revelation? The first chapter tells us that the events mentioned in this book "must occur quickly" (v. 1), "the time is near" (v. 3), and "about to occur" (v. 19). The last chapter, chapter 22, uses phrases like "must happen quickly" (v. 6), "I am coming quickly" (v. 7, 12, 20), and "the time is near" (v. 10). The imminency passages, therefore, require us to expect a fulfillment soon after the Book was written. All of the Revelation events, therefore, including the Fall of Babylon (apostate Jerusalem), the Second Coming of Christ, the Resurrection of the Dead, the Judgment, the casting of Satan into the Lake of Fire along with death and Hades, and the inauguration of the New Heavens and New Earth found their fulfillment in the first century. Who has given Dr. North permission to take these things out of the time constraints?
Fourth: Pseudo-preterists, in assigning two distinct time frame fulfillments of Matthew 24, are fond of ignoring similar statements of our Lord as found in Luke 17:20-37, and Dr. North is no exception. By assigning vs. 1-35 to the judgment against first century apostate Judaism, and vs. 36-51 to a final judgment 2000+ years later, pseudo-preterists demonstrate their unwillingness to carefully exegete the Luke passage in relation to Matthew 24. The events in the so-called Part A of Matthew 24 are distinguished from the events in the so-called Part B and are assigned different times of fulfillment separated by 2000+ years, yet a careful comparison with Luke 17 readily demonstrates that Luke intermingles these same events in such a way as to invalidate any such distinction. Christ provided no hint of multi-millennial focal points of fulfillment with His discourse. It was all subject matter of vital concern to his first century listeners. Thus the Scriptures themselves demolish the 2000+ years of postponement that pseudo-preterists lean on so heavily in defending their system.
The centerfold of Edward E. Stevens' book, What Happened in A.D.70?, features a chart that pseudo-preterists would do well to study. Our author does not explicitly defend a two-part Matthew 24 in his essay but implicitly adopts this interpretation as a springboard to postpone Matthew 25 (Judgment of the Nations) to the so-called end of the material world. Correctly interpreted, Matthew 25 also was fulfilled at A.D.70 since there is nothing in the context to suggest a departure from the Jerusalem judgment setting.
WILL THIS MATERIAL WORLD BE BURNED UP?
Most Christians, including Dr. North, believe that II Peter 3 teaches a cataclysmic upheaval and renovation of the earth by fire to end this world as we know it. But not all Christians believe that this is what Peter meant. The great Puritan divine, Dr. John Owen, preached a Preterist sermon on II Peter 3. It is recorded in Vol. 9 of his Works, pg. 131ff. This sermon influenced the brilliant Reconstructionist writer, Dr. David Chilton, to adopt the Preterist view. What did Dr. Owen believe Peter was talking about? He cited Isa. 51:12-16 as teaching that God's imposing of the Old Covenant in the days of Moses was a creation of "heavens and earth." Peter was simply using biblical language to describe the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in A.D.70. Dr. Owen rejected the notion that Peter was describing a cataclysmic destruction of the earth at the supposed end of the material world.
It is often suggested that God destroyed the world with a flood in the days of Noah, and would never again bring a worldwide flood to the earth, but instead would destroy the world by fire. Despite this popular view, a closer study of Scripture reveals in Gen. 8:21 that God "will never again curse the ground for the sake of man, because the imagination of the heart of man is evil from his youth. Yea, I will not again smite every living thing as I have done..." Was the world (globe) destroyed in the flood? No. It was the “world of ungodly men.” Big difference! No, the Bible does not teach a catastrophic destruction of our world by fire or any other means. Instead, numerous verses teach that planet earth will remain forever! Consider the Psalms 78:69; 89:36-37; 93:1; 96:10; 104:5; 119:90; 148:4,6. Consider Eccl. 1:4. Consider Isa. 9:6-7; Dan. 2:44; 7:14,18,27 as well as Eph. 3:21 where the phrase, "world without end. Amen" is sung or recited in many of our churches each week.
In spite of the above Bible passages, Dr. North's philosophical system demands an end of the world accompanied by the end-time prophetic events (except the Great Tribulation and the Judgment on Old Covenant Israel) postponed until just before the world is supposedly burned up and God supposedly creates yet another world, which he would call the 'eternal state.' But the Bible does not allow us to embrace these speculative conclusions. All prophecy was fulfilled how and when Jesus said it would be, but with many ongoing applications extending into eternity. Just as the monumental Atonement at Calvary occurred just once, the same is true of all the eschatological events which Scripture treats as an undivided whole.
We should not overlook the fact that our Bible speaks of the "everlasting gospel" (Rev. 14:6) and the "everlasting covenant" (Heb. 13:20). Does this not suggest that these two instruments of God's redemptive plan would continue to relate to the future as efficaciously as they have to the ages past? If so, we find a strong implication here that sinful people will continue to be born, respond to the gospel, enter God's Kingdom, be saved from the penalty, power, and presence of sin, die physically, and go to Heaven for as long as God decrees this to happen.
DIDN'T CHRIST ALREADY CONQUER SIN AND DEATH?
Throughout his essay Dr. North repeatedly accuses Preterists of teaching that God will allow the presence of sin to continue on the earth throughout history. Coupled with his charge that Preterists deny a Final Judgment, he implies that they are soft on sin, welcoming its presence in history forever. Because in Dr. North’s opinion, God needs to do more about sin. Was not the Cross enough? Preterists say, “Yes.” In fact, he directs his most vehement attacks against Preterists on this point. Dr. J. Stuart Russell, whom our author is fond of ridiculing, really did not address this issue at all. Apparently Dr. North has not read the books or listened to the tapes by contemporary Preterist scholars such as Dr. Kelly Nelson Birks, Dr. Randall E. Otto, Edward E. Stevens, John Noe or Kenneth J. Davies, all of whom have spoken to this issue, following intense and extended exegetical studies.
Next, let's refer to the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks in Dan. 9:24-27 where "Seventy weeks are decreed as to your people, and as to your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make atonement for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy."
This seventy-weeks-of-years begins from the time of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (v.25). While there is debate as to the precise starting point of this prophecy, and consequently to its precise termination point, the 490 years calculated without gaps will yield a fulfillment date at approximately the time of the Cross or to the time of Stephen's martyrdom in about A.D.34 or even later. This teaches that the focal point of this prophecy must conclude within the bounds of the first century, and all of the events described in Dan. 9:24-27, including making an end of sins and making atonement for iniquity, would be accomplished to the full extent of God's redemptive requirements.
Unless Dr. North is prepared to attach a piece of elastic to his 490 year "measuring stick" in order to extend it to the supposed end of the material world (over 2000 years beyond the first century already), how does he justify an "end of sins" (by his definition!) not happening until just before the world is destroyed? Further, if the prophet Daniel, under inspiration, said that "mak(ing) an end of sins" and "bring(ing) in everlasting righteousness" was all to be accomplished by the end of the 490 years which terminated in the first century, on what basis is Dr. North justified in declaring that these events will not be accomplished or fulfilled until the supposed end of history? On the same basis, apparently, he feels that it is within his right to tear certain events out of the time constraints found in the Olivet Discourse and Revelation. In fact, he shows his utter disregard for the time constraints that appear throughout the entire New Testament. It is clear from Scripture that the Lord Jesus Christ, in His once-for-all sacrifice on the Cross "put away sin through the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26). This corresponds to the words of Daniel who speaks of "making an end of sins." This was fulfilled in the first century, as we have seen above. Do the words of Daniel's prophecy, therefore, require that every expression of sin, every transgression of the law, and every instance of unbelief be done away with in world history in order for the prophecy to hold true? This reviewer does not see that such a requirement is in tune with God's plan. God has already demonstrated for 2000+ years in history that he has chosen to use sin for the sanctification of His people, by allowing its presence on the earth to prepare His people for their entrance into Heaven after they physically die. Would that so-called final generation be treated soteriologically different from the way that He has graciously treated His people for 2000+ years? Would God abandon the sanctification process for that one final generation? Would God indeed abandon His love for that final generation, as opposed to Hebrews 12:4-6, which speaks of sin being God’s agent to santify His people? Bear in mind, the language contained in Daniel's prophecy is covenant language and should be understood from that perspective, and not in a hyper-literal sense.
In addition to Christ's propitiatory sacrifice on behalf of God's elect people throughout all of history, the Scriptures teach that all unbelievers, covenant breakers, unrepentant sinners and enemies of God were judged at A.D.70. This Great White Throne Judgment was spoken of in Rev. 20:11-15 and Matt. 25:31-46. Included in this group were all believers and unbelievers who had physically died from the time of Adam until A.D.70. They were raised from out of Sheol/Hades where they had been consigned since they physically died, were made to appear before God's judgment bar, were either acquitted and taken to Heaven, or found guilty and doomed to everlasting punishment in the Lake of Fire. At the same time Satan, death and Hades were also cast “into the Lake of Fire where the beast and false prophet are” (Rev. 20:10). This took place at A.D.70, as the context of the Book of Revelation clearly demonstrates.
Since the A.D.70 Judgment, every living person at the time of his or her physical death (Heb. 9:27) is required to stand before the Lord, the saved being vindicated and the lost condemned to reside eternally with Satan and his angels in the Lake of Fire.
We conclude, then, that God judged all His elect for their inherited sin from Adam, as well as their personal sins, at the Cross of Jesus Christ. Believers in Christ are never condemned (Romans 8:1; John 3:18a). Christ has paid the penalty for their sins, but they receive their rewards for faithfulness either at A.D.70 (Matt. 16:27; Rev. 20:12) in the case of those who lived up until that time, or at physical death in the case of those living and dying subsequently.
Surely Preterists can not be charged with denying the judgment of lost sinners in history. Because God may have chosen to accomplish this in a manner differently from what Dr. North's system of interpretation and philosophy demands, does not make the fact of God's judgment and method of disposing of sin any less real.
CHURCH MILITANT AND CHURCH TRIUMPHANT ALWAYS CO-EXIST
Church history has always recognized a distinction between the believers in Christ who have physically died and gone to Heaven (the Church Triumphant) and those believers who are alive and face the daily struggles of spiritual warfare (the Church Militant). This has been God's plan for some 2000 years now.
Indeed, this plan of God has worked out very effectively. God has used this sinful world as a training ground to prepare His people for their future heavenly existence. The redemptive process of sanctification, which follows the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer in justification, is God's chosen means of refining and purifying His people. Since A.D.70 and forever!
Since this method is so effective and has proven itself for thousands of years, there is every reason to expect that His divine formula for achieving sanctification will remain in force throughout the tenure of Christ's Kingdom, which is eternal. The prophet Isaiah declared that, "There is no end to the increase of His government and of peace on the throne of David, and on His kingdom, to order it, and to sustain it with justice and with righteousness, from now and forever" (Isa. 9:7). However, our author's postmillennial system of eschatology demands a final period when the Church Militant will no longer be fighting against evil, and sin on earth will no longer exist. The redemptive plan of God throughout history (Plan A) will suddenly come to a screeching halt and be replaced with a new and more effective arrangement (Plan B) that abandons the historically accredited scenario in favor of a supposed cosmic transformation and judgment where only the Triumphant element of the church would continue throughout eternity. Is history since A.D.70 to be divided into two parts: the first 2000+ years under Plan A, and the final segment under a more effective Plan B?
Does it seem reasonable for God to institute a perfect plan which has worked effectively for over 2000 years in preparing His people for the glories of Heaven, and then suddenly cause all human life and birth to cease, with no more need of applying the everlasting gospel nor the everlasting covenant to His chosen people, and where the Church Militant ceases to exist? Can Dr. North reference Scripture to support such a "substituted scenario" in God's master plan? No, God's original Plan A was perfect when He first instituted it and will continue to be perfect for all eternity! The Church Militant and the Church Triumphant go forth forever!
ARE DR. NORTH'S VIEWS CREEDALLY ORTHODOX?
Dr. Gary North and other Reformed pseudo-preterists pride themselves in being thoroughly orthodox as defined by the creeds and confessions of the church. But is Dr. North, who is so critical and condemnatory of Preterists, really lily-white himself when we carefully examine the creeds that he professes?
No, quite to the contrary! No early ecumenical creed, or confession that emanated from the Protestant Reformation has ever interpreted Christ's Olivet Discourse, or any part of it, from even a pseudo-preterist perspective. The Westminster Confession of Faith, together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, have never even given a hint of accepting the view that Matt. 24:1-36 applied to the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Old Covenant system, with the balance of the chapter applying to the Second Coming of Christ. Same for the Belgic Confession, the Second Helvetic Confession, or Canon of Dordt. Same for the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Chalcedonic Articles, etc. -- no splitting up of the end-time events separated by some 2000 years and counting!
It is likely that the godly Christian men who formulated the confessions would immediately recognize that to teach a first century fulfillment of even the first half of Matthew 24 would, of necessity, demand an A.D.70 fulfillment of the Second Coming (vs. 30-31). To acknowledge this fact demands either the complete fulfillment of all related end-time events in the first century (as Preterists teach), or a 1000-2000+ year hiatus following the Second Coming before the Resurrection of the Dead, the Judgment, and the New Heaven and New Earth were consummated (as tradition teaches).
Either alternative would confront the framers of the confessions with problems beyond their ability or willingness to cope. Every early creed also taught that all the prophesied events would find fulfillment at the end of the world, so any form of preterism would be discarded. Even more radical would be the separating of some end-time events from other end-events that the Scripture declares to be simultaneous with each other. This helps to understand, perhaps, why the writers of the confessions shied away from adopting any form of preteristic thinking. They recognized that all events were connected and would occur simultaneously at His one New Testament Coming (parousia), i.e. Futurism. The Preterist today is condemned for keeping these events connected and applying them to the time statements that the creeds and confessions never recognized. Dr. North, on the other hand, considers his position of picking and choosing which of these events he will, and which events he will not, apply to A.D.70, as orthodox.
Added to this is Dr. North's teaching that the local judgment of Jerusalem by the Roman armies was merely a "type" of the real judgment to occur at the end of the material world. This means that a Third Coming of Jesus Christ is also called for! Yet the Scripture knows of only two comings of Jesus Christ, as the writer of Hebrews tells us in 9:28: "So being once offered to bear the sins of many, Christ shall appear a second time without sin to those expecting Him for salvation." By saying this, He denied a third!
It becomes apparent, then, that Dr. North is neither "creedally orthodox" nor "Scripturally orthodox" in his eschatology. Only the Preterist view agrees with the totality of Scripture without contradiction and is therefore the only correct and Christ-honoring view to be considered. Preterists believe the promises that Christ made! Including the "when statements," too!
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS: "SEE HOW THEY LOVE ONE ANOTHER"
The most disappointing aspect of his essay was the harsh and uncharitable language that Dr. North chooses to employ in attacking his fellow brothers in the Faith. From Pg. 18 to the end such words and phrases as "heretical preterism," "deviant theology," "Russell was as subtle as a serpent," "church discipline," "excommunication," "subversives," "rebellion," "clandestine evangelism," "judgment," "he should be treated as if he were a Jehovah's Witness," [How does Dr. North treat Jehovah’s Witnesses? Is it by sharing the gospel with them?] and other equally uncomplimentary words are directed toward Christian believers. This is shameful!
How much kinder and more Christian it would have been if our author had acknowledged his fear of Preterism because of the threat that it is to his cast-in-stone post-millennial philosophical system of eschatology. This, together with his slavish adherence to the creeds and confessions, even when they plainly contradict Scripture, does not support his professed Reformed hermeneutic.
Are not Reformed theologians urged "to be Reformed and always reforming" in the light of Holy Scripture alone?
Nor would all Christian Reconstructionists share Dr. North's attitude or method of dealing with Preterists. One mild mannered gentleman suggested to this reviewer in context, "We don't need any more heresy trials; what we do need is more scholarly exegeses of the Bible texts in question."
After this reviewer, back in 1983, persuaded Baker Book House to re-publish the first 20th century edition of Dr. Russell's book, another post-millennial colleague of Dr. North's wrote the following in private correspondence: "I must express my great appreciation to you for bringing this remarkable and tantalizing viewpoint to public light. Russell's argument is too rigorous, Biblical and compelling to dismiss lightly as an eschatological oddity of little merit." He added, "I pray that you will continue to pursue publicizing the viewpoint."
Since The Parousia first appeared in 1983, Dr. R. C. Sproul, Sr. has sung high praises for it, and chose to frame his own book on eschatology, The Last Days According to Jesus, around the ground-breaking efforts of Dr. James Stuart Russell.
Dr. North needs to realize that virtually every Reformed scholar who has come to embrace Preterism has done so by the prompting of his conscience following many months, even years, of diligent exegetical Bible study. A careful, in-depth examination of Scripture alone inductively yields an overwhelming conviction that the Preterist view is God's truth. This has been the experience of many truth-seeking Christian scholars and laymen.
What makes this view even more powerful and compelling is the unfortunate and sad fact that the new convert to Preterism knows that he will be rejected by many of his fellow Christians. In fact, he knows that he will lose many friends and be made an object of suspicion and ridicule. Yet he makes a courageous and open confession, for the sake of God’s truth, in spite of what men, even godly men, may do to him.
Do such men deserve to be condemned and anathematized by influential authors, such as Dr. North, before they have been given opportunity to expound their valuable insights to the church? Is it wise or just to write these men off as heretics before any ecumenical church governing body has even made such a pronouncement?
No ecclesiastical creed-formulating body in history has ever been convened to determine the most biblical view of eschatology. Such a council or synod is long overdue. The great men of the Bible, selected from many denominations, guided by Scripture alone, should exegetically scrutinize the multiple versions of futurism, as well as Preterism, and come up with their findings.
Only after the "ballots are counted" and the Preterists are declared guilty, if that were to ever happen, should these brave and stalwart Berean Christians be ecclesiastically condemned. In the meantime, it would be wise for the self-appointed watchdogs in the church to hold their peace with much patience until such time as a synod of this kind should arise! Such a synod must be governed by the texts of Scripture alone and not by creeds or church tradition. Then, and only then, will God's truth prevail. Then the Preterist view, I predict, will come forth as the clearest expression of eschatology.
RECENT PRETERIST STUDIES GO BEYOND RUSSELL
It is axiomatic for scholars attempting to refute any theological discipline or system of interpretation to not only become familiar with the early writers who held to that position but to also read and study the more recent writers as well.
In his essay Dr. North seems to give evidence that he has not bothered to keep current on the literature written by Preterists since Dr. Russell wrote The Parousia back in 1878. In fact, he makes an interesting statement on page 21 of his essay, "To refute Russell is to refute the theological foundation for modern heretical preterism, at least in Presbyterian and Reformed circles." Is it really possible, then, that Dr. North has not taken the time to research the current Preterist literature? Nor to even attempt to refute Dr. Russell exegetically?
Would Dr. North or any of his colleagues attempt a refutation of dispensationalism by studying only J. N. Darby or C. I. Scofield? Yet before writing this essay, he apparently failed to consider numerous significant Preterist studies by contemporary authors such as Dr. Kelly Nelson Birks, Dr. Randall E. Otto, Edward E. Stevens, John Noe, Kenneth J. Davies, Daniel E. Harden, Don Preston, John L. Bray and Gene Fadeley. And how about the vast amount of Preterist literature found on the numerous Preterist websites? Much of this material is far more than a re-hash of Dr. James Stuart Russell's book. Clearly Dr. Russell did not go very far into the Preterist view, especially regarding the resurrection and the judgment, and even some of the Reconstructionists, who are still only pseudo-prets, have gone beyond Russell with a number of texts.
Lest our author should imagine that he has successfully refuted Russell's The Parousia, let me assure him that he has not! And neither would his philosophical and tradition-bound arguments pose a significant threat to anything the above contemporary Preterist scholars have written in their exegetical studies to date.
ADDITIONAL ERRORS AND MISREPRESENTATIONS
(A) Throughout his 31-page essay Dr. North refers to Preterism as "heretical preterism" and assumes that his pseudo-preterist view is the real Preterist viewpoint. This is not accurate. Actually, the dictionary definition of a preterist is "a theologian who holds that all of the Book of Revelation has been fulfilled." So the "pseudo-preterists" do not qualify to use the term. Only Preterists do!
(B) When Dr. North suggests that "to refute Russell is to refute the theological foundation for modern heretical preterism," he misses the major Preterist argument. Preterists rely on the Scriptures alone, not on Russell, not on the creeds and tradition, for their conclusions on eschatology. In fact, this reviewer personally knows several Preterists who had never seen Russell's book until after they embraced the view. It was simply the study of the Scriptures that convinced them. And Russell doesn’t go far enough for many of them anyway.
(C) On page 4 our author asks the question and answers it: "What is the first death? There is only one possibility: the physical death of each individual." Let's go back to the Garden of Eden to see if this is really true. "... but of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you many not eat, for in the day [my emphasis] that you eat of it, you shall surely die" (Gen. 2:17). As we know, Adam partook of the forbidden fruit and died that very day. He died spiritually and was estranged from God immediately, that same day. Adam lived until he was 930 years old, so physical death was not the direct result of the Fall. Indeed, when Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden, God said, "And now, lest he put forth his hand and also take from the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever, Jehovah God sent him out of the garden of Eden..." (Gen. 3:22). By doing this God "guard(ed) the way of the Tree of Life" (Gen. 3:24). Adam was sustained physically during his time in the Garden by partaking of the Tree of Life on an ongoing basis, but later was denied access to the Tree of Life and the natural order of things set in, namely physical death. "...for you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Gen. 3:19). Physical death is the appointed end of all of God's natural creation and man is no exception. So spiritual death, separation from God, was the first death, and not physical death, as Dr. North teaches.
(D) On page 5 our author says that Jesus will return "bodily in final judgment." Apparently he insists that the real Second Coming [call it a Third Coming] will be physical so as to differentiate it from the "type" of the Second Coming which took place at A.D.70 where obviously Christ Himself was not seen physically. It was Christ who said in Luke 17:20: "The kingdom of God does not come with observation." And in I Cor. 15:44 Paul tells us: "But not the spiritual first, but the natural; afterward the spiritual” thus guiding his readers as to how the accompanying “Resurrection of the Dead" was to occur. Therefore, no bodily or physical coming was intended by Jesus' own words, nor by Paul's. No, the Second Coming was a spiritual coming, [That’s exactly how God, the Father “came” in the Old Testament. Christ’s Second Coming in A.D.70 was a proof of His deity. A proof that the Church, because she did not recognize His Coming in A.D.70, has squandered for the past 2000 years.] accompanied by many material signs associated with the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the Temple.
(E) On page 8, where our author distinguishes between the Church Militant and Church Triumphant, he says: "It is not that the church in heaven has in some way been taken out of the spiritual battle against Satan." He followed this with this amazing statement: "The saints in heaven remain in the fight against Satan, interceding with God on behalf of the church militant." It is odd, under Dr. North's system, that even in Heaven the saints are still battling Satan! Of course, Preterists strongly disagree. Apparently, according to our author, God allowed Satan to continue in full force throughout 2000+ years of history. Forget that Rev. 12:10 says that "Now has come the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ, because the accuser of our brothers is thrown down, the one accusing them before our God day and night.” Or Rev. 12:12, "Woe to the ones dwelling on the earth, and in the sea, because the Devil came down to you having great anger, knowing that he has a little time.” The Apostle John continues in Rev. 20:10 to inform his readers that "...the Devil leading them astray was thrown into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are. And they were tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Taken within the context of the Book of Revelation, these predicted events were "about to occur," "quickly," "soon," "at hand" - not 2000+ years into the future. Since Satan, therefore, was cast into the Lake of Fire at A.D.70, giving the Lord complete victory over him, he is not a force to be reckoned with, either by the Church Militant or the Church Triumphant, since that time.
How much more reasonable to lay the blame for the transgression of God's law squarely at the feet of depraved human beings. The human heart, as a result of the Fall of man in the Garden, is "deceitful above all things, and it is incurable; who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9) Paul in Romans confirms this. Surely, there is much more evidence in the Bible for sinful man as the cause of corruption, heartache, distress, suffering, and hatred of God in our world than the direct effect of Satan working his mischief! Yes, the effect of human sin is sufficient to account for all of the horrible expressions of wickedness that we see in our world today. We find little excuse to directly blame Satan for the evil about us. Christ has defeated the powers of Satan in His sacrifice on the Cross, "tied up the strong one" and "plundered his house" (Mark 3:27). Christ also beheld Satan "falling out of Heaven as lightning” (Luke 10:18). And at Christ's Second Coming, He completed the demise of Satan by throwing him "into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are. And they were tormented day and night forever and ever" (Rev. 20:10). As the saying goes, "We have found the enemy, and it is us!"
(F) On page 19, Dr. North caricatures the Preterist view by suggesting "There is therefore no hope of deliverance from sin in history, and no hope of deliverance from history for the church militant." No Preterist would accept such a misrepresentation! Dr. North knows full well what Christ's redemptive work on the Cross accomplished. He has written brilliantly in this area of study. Yet he seems to be clouded in his mind as to exactly what "deliverance from sin" really consists of. He demands a visible manifestation of sin being completely removed from the earth. He obviously is looking for an extreme literal fulfillment of this covenantal concept of deliverance from sin. The Scripture teaches otherwise.
But is not this looking for a visible fulfillment of Bible prophecy the same defect in thinking that caused the Jews to miss the First Advent of Christ? Christ did not meet their expectations as an earthly ruler to force Rome to its knees. The church, in turn, employing the same hyper-literal hermeneutic, demanded a visible, bodily manifestation of Christ riding on literal clouds, in order to accept the fact of a fulfilled Second Advent. The promise of Christ to return within the span of that first century generation was not good enough for them; they needed visible proof. So the church, failing to learn from Israel's mistake, is still looking for the Second Advent 2000+ years later! Will God's people ever have faith to believe Him? Hopefully, the revival of Preterism will help to accomplish that. Notably, every verse that the Church has always in the past used as proof texts for this physical, visible future-to-us Coming, every verse that says that Christ would be “seen”... pseudo-preterists posit at A.D.70 (Matt. 16:28; 24:30; 26:64; and Rev. 1:7). If all of the verses that used to support a future-to-us physical, visible Coming of Christ where He would be “seen” are now interpreted as His “spiritual” coming at A.D.70, where are Dr. North’s verses for Christ’s future third coming?
Yet the words of Jesus are clear: "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'Lo, here! Or, Lo, there! For behold the kingdom of God is in your midst'" (Luke 17:20-21). Paul teaches us in II Cor. 4:18, "We are not considering the things seen, but the things not being seen; for the things being seen are not lasting, but the things not being seen are everlasting."
In view of the Bible's repeated emphasis on "things unseen" as being the more important events, are Christians justified in looking for a literal fulfillment of the term "deliverance from sin" and a host of other prophetic fulfillment concepts? After all, our world was created to glorify God and serve man by providing just the right environment to be a "boot camp" for the eternal world in Heaven that Jesus began to prepare (John 14:1-3) at His Ascension and completed by the time of His Second Coming in A.D.70. We have a completed salvation now, but the focus is on Heaven and not on this earth. May we always seek eternal things, those things which are above (Matt. 6:33; Col. 3:1-2).
(G) On page 30 our author lists six questions that church officers should ask of Preterists who are under discipline. Yet in examining these questions, we find that the phrases used in forming the questions are not biblically accurate. For example, the first question asks, "Is God's final judgment behind us historically?" The phrase "final judgment" does not appear in Scripture. Nor does the question as worded allow for a definite "yes" or "no" for the thinking student of God's word. Either answer given to such a question would only introduce misunderstanding and confusion.
The second question speaks of a "physical resurrection of the dead." Nowhere in Scripture is the term "physical" used to denote the nature of resurrection body that believers are to receive. Rather, it is described in I Cor. 15 in such terms as "incorruptible," "immortal," and "spiritual body." Scripture does not use this phraseology about a resurrection of the "flesh," or "resurrection of the body," per se. Yet we find these phrases in our creeds. The Scriptural term is “resurrection of the dead.” This question, taken from the creeds and confessions, if answered at all, could never be answered with a simple "yes" or "no."
Questions three and four are redundant, as are questions one and six. Question five could be answered by either a "yes" or a "no," depending on how broadly the subject views "forgiveness" as purchased by Christ on the Cross.
(H) On page 31 our author demonstrates a world of confusion as he continues to use non-Scriptural terms in posing questions that the subject of an inquiry must answer in writing. The terminology more closely resembles the wording of creeds than it does the clear teaching of the Bible. Hence, such questions only lend credence to continued confusion and contain contradictions of Scripture. The signing of this kind of statement does not prove that the subject of the inquiry has a correct understanding of the Bible, but only places a rubber stamp on the often-erroneous wording of the creeds and confessions, which hold to a non-Scriptural, futuristic viewpoint.
(I) Further errors abound, but in order to avoid excessive length in this review, I will address only one more unfortunate statement that Dr. North makes on page 33. Speaking of a follower of Dr. James Stuart Russell, he writes: "A Russellite should never be acknowledged as possessing equal status to someone who affirms the historic creeds of the church. He should be treated as if he were a Jehovah's Witness." Obviously, our author does not return the Christian love that Preterists extend to him as a fellow believer!
Our author definitely makes it clear where his supreme authority lies. It's not the Bible; it is the historic creeds that are really his final authority. It is no longer the faithful, inductive study of God's Word, nor studious exegesis, nor comparing Scripture with Scripture, that determine the proper interpretation of a text, but instead a conformity to the ancient creeds and confessions of the Church. Could it be that "church authority" [read: Holy Tradition] has wormed its way into our Reformed churches, ruling out an appeal to God's inspired, inerrant, and infallible Holy Word? If this is true, then our Reformed churches are in even worse spiritual shape than many of us suspected! The cry of some pseudo-preterists seems to be best expressed in the words: "Abandon Sola Scriptura -- back to Rome."
A REFRESHER COURSE IN ESCHATOLOGY 101
This reviewer has studied eschatology rather intensively from the time when he was saved in the morning worship service in a fundamentalist Baptist church and then taught that same evening the basic principles of the pre-millennial, pre-tribulational Rapture of the Church. A pilgrimage, which began back in 1954, ensued for many years, taking me out of eschatological fantasy, into respected eschatological viewpoints such as historic premillennialism, amillennialism, classical post-millennialism, pseudo-preterist post-millennialism, and finally in 1983, to Preterism. At last, God, in His grace, was pleased to enable me to understand the truth of the prophetic Scriptures after so many years of searching!
As we can unitedly agree, our presuppositions determine what our interpretative conclusions will be. When a scholar opens the pages of his Bible with a dogmatic presupposition (demanded by the creeds) that the Second Coming of Christ and related events must be interpreted as future to us today, then there will be no end to the Scripture-twisting that he will do in order to defend that viewpoint. His Biblical studies can then only be defined as EISegesis (forcing one's own viewpoint into the text) rather than EXegesis (the inductive drawing of the meaning from the text with comparisons of other related Scriptures).
It has been instructive to note time and again that of the scores of books that I have read on eschatology, not a single one of them questioned whether the Second Coming of Christ was a past event or a future event to us today. Not one! There was an implied unanimous assumption, yet the question was never asked outright. One author began his amillennial book with the statement that there was “at least one thing that everyone can agree on, namely, that the Second Coming is a future event in history.” No proof offered, no Scripture references given, just a naked assertion. It is therefore not surprising that Preterism has not been the subject of scholarly discussion until recent years when Dr. Russell's book hit the shelves of bookstores around the world.
Many Bible scholars have usually employed good and sound interpretative principles in their study of the Bible. That is, on most topics except for eschatology. Often I would be reminded that there was a special "language of prophecy" that one had to keep in mind when embarking on this terribly difficult area of study. I learned that many competent commentators began to tread high water when applying their talents to prophetic portions of Scripture, and some, I was reminded, never even attempted to write a commentary on the Book of Revelation, including John Calvin and Martin Luther.
But why, I finally asked, is it correct to have one set of interpretative principles to govern most biblical texts and yet a different standard when studying prophecy? Why, for example, was the method known as "prophetic foreshortening" adopted? This meant that events which the Scriptures placed within the same context, should actually be understood as being separated by long periods of time, perhaps by thousands of years. It was just as if we were to look in a telescope at a distant landscape which seemed to place the farther mountains very near to the closer mountains. Yet as one would drive in his car toward them, it became clear that vast distances separated the near mountains from those in the distance. Or so we were taught. We needed to understand that the Old Testament Scriptures did not distinguish the soon-to-come events from those supposedly destined to happen later.
And whatever happened to "audience relevancy"? Did not the Lord Jesus speak to a definite group of first century A.D. people? Did He not tell them that the events that He predicted would be fulfilled during the lifetime of some of these folks? As He spoke of judgment on that wicked and rebellious generation of Jews, did He not also place in the same context other prophecies which He interspersed along with the signs of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the burning of her Temple, signs which predicted His Second Coming in that generation? Yes, He did and He expects us to believe Him!
These passages in the New Testament that speak of a chain of events soon to happen are called imminency verses. It will not do to redefine the term as if it meant "certain to happen." That is not what it means! Rather, it means that the predicted events will happen very shortly, very soon, and not a couple thousand years into the future. As if His listeners needed instruction as to how "soon" or "shortly" was to be understood, Jesus used expressions that defy any possible misunderstanding. He even suggested to Peter that the Apostle John might still be alive at the time of the Second Coming. Peter anxiously anticipated the arrival of the New Heavens and Earth in II Peter 3, within his own lifetime! To ignore the imminency passages is to refuse to honor the words of Jesus and His Apostles. The result is what we have been conditioned to swallow, without investigation; namely, the false witness of the uninspired creedal writers. Most biblical scholars are aware of errors that these early Christian church fathers made in other areas. We are only more recently coming to realize that they also messed up on their eschatology in a most tragic manner!
When a biblical scholar comes to realize that the Second Coming was fulfilled at A.D.70, it is usually not long before he recognizes that the Resurrection of the Dead was fulfilled at the same time (I Cor. 15:23). Then the Judgment of the Just and Unjust, when rewards would be given for faithfulness (Matt. 16:27; Rev. 22:12) or as the Apostle John entitled it, the Great White Throne Judgement (Rev. 20). Sheol/Hades was emptied of its inhabitants, each class of individuals receiving its appointed destiny, followed by the inauguration of the New Heavens and Earth (Rev. 21 & 22). We are living in the New Covenant age today! Yes, in the New Heavens and Earth!
Unless a studied effort is made to fabricate vast ages of separation, all of the events associated with "the time of the end" as spoken by Daniel, chapter 12, verse 4, follow in rapid sequence, almost simultaneously. It is a chain of events that simply can not be separated from its biblical time constraints. The fact that many scholars still choose to do so has been the cause of much false teaching and confusion among God's people.
As we enter the Third Millennium since our Lord so wonderfully favored His people by His First Advent, there seems to be a vast throng of Christians, growing daily, who are beginning to question some presuppositions that they have inherited. This is a very good sign. It is a grass roots movement. Their examples are the faithful Berean Christians of Acts 17:10-11 who "were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the Word with all readiness, daily examining the Scriptures if these things are so.” It is extremely important to realize that these Bereans did not check up on what Paul was teaching by reviewing the Jewish creeds or consulting with the tradition-bound Pharisees. No, they examined the Scriptures alone! Are we not to do the same?
Dr. North concludes his 34 page essay by quoting the opening words of Dr. James Stuart Russell in The Parousia, page 1, as follows: "The work is almost wholly exegetical; and there is no attempt to invent or establish a theory, but only, by honest and faithful interpretation of the New Testament Scriptures, to allow them to speak for themselves."
But instead of the decidedly derogatory twist that our author places on Dr. Russell's words, allow me instead to simply suggest the following: If Dr. North and other pseudo-preterists were to engage in exegetical studies as thoroughly as Dr. Russell did, we would have no cause for alarm. The product of honest and faithful study of the Holy Scriptures would shine forth from their stellar efforts. And the end result would be the death of futurism, in all its many manifestations. The time statements of the Lord Jesus would finally begin to be taken seriously. Commentaries would need to be re-written in the light of a fresh, invigorating, and improved understanding of the prophetic Scriptures. In short, it would herald the dawn of a new day. That new wave of Reformation is already underway. The Preterist movement is on the cutting edge of it.
Dr. Russell has set an excellent example for us as to how faithful and honest Bible study is to be done. May the Biblical scholars of this 21st century take a lesson in Eschatology 101, relying on the Bible alone for guidance under the tutelage of our great Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, and His inspired Apostles.
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