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
The Context Trap
By Walt Hibbard
From the earliest days of my Christian experience, I had it
impressed upon me that anyone could make the Bible prove just
about anything that he wished it to prove, if he took the verses
out of context. The classic example of this, of course, is
"Judas went and hanged himself" (Matt. 27:5) coupled with Luke
10:37 "go and do thou likewise."
I will not attempt to speak on the subject of how to determine what the context of every particular verse of Scripture is. To do so would consume many hours of our time. Rather, I shall limit this article to a discussion of the principles involved in determining the context of a number of the many prophetic passages in the New Testament. The importance of being able to accurately make a determination of this kind can scarcely be over estimated. Great schools of theological learning and divergent views of interpretation have emerged from an inability to agree on what context is proper, suitable and intended by the inspired author.
Nowhere is this disagreement more apparent than in the field of eschatology among those who are futurists in contradistinction to those who are Preterists. All of the major prophetic schools of interpretation, such as the pre-mils, the a-mils, and the post-mils, assign many or most of the New Testament’s prophetic passages to a future-to-us fulfillment time span. Even within these futurist camps there is great disagreement on the exact focal point of fulfillment for many verses. We have the pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib views asserted by scholars who disagree as to where to place the Second Advent of Christ in relation to the Great Tribulation. Between the a-mils and the post-mils, one often finds confusion on the correct understanding of Romans chapter 11. Does it find fulfillment throughout the entire church age according to the a-mils, or primarily to a final period of time that the post-mils define as "the latter day glory" as advocated by the Puritans? And of course, a majority of futurists agree that we are living in "the last days" today.
As we begin to carefully investigate the principles involved in making a correct decision on how to determine context, I want to first define the word so that we may have no doubt as to what we are discussing today. My dictionary defines the word context as follows:
"The portions of a discourse,
treatise, etc., that immediately precede and follow and are
connected with a passage quoted or considered. [
The word is derived from the Latin and denotes a weaving together of related things. When time factors are involved, they would pertain to events taking place at the same time and in close relationship to other events.
Logically, where two or more focal points of fulfillment are suggested, there needs to be clear and unmistakable proof that these focal points are real, certain, and actually contain the framework into which specific events find their fulfillment. Even beyond this consideration, there is the need to determine if the supposed focal points are something that is Scripturally determined to exist in the first place!
This can be understood in New Testament eschatological studies as speaking of the two suggested fulfillment timeframes, namely, the first century’s catastrophic events of A.D.66-70, and events assigned to the end of time when history on this earth comes to an end.
In practical discussions, often a vague or loosely implied suggestion is made that a particular verse or passage should not be considered as fitting a specific context because certain "key words" are not immediately seen either before or after the phrase in question. So the fulfillment of the passage is automatically assigned to a time frame that may lack any proven degree of certainty or which may not be at all appropriate or intended by the author of the writings. This is irresponsible scholarship and plays havoc with efforts to accurately determine the true context of a given passage.
Even the so-called "partial preterist" scholars are not exempt from this danger. While a number of these Christian scholars have made substantial contributions toward popularizing preterist ideas within various Christian groups, too often they are guilty of sloppy scholarship when it comes to assigning a time of fulfillment to many of the end-time events.
The well-known "post-mil partial preterist" scholar, Dr. Kenneth L Gentry, Jr., deals with this issue in his A Brief Theological Analysis of Hyper-Preterism, sub-heading entitled Hermeneutic Failure. Gentry writes: "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."
One who is familiar with Gentry’s widely circulated prophetic studies instantly recognizes that he assumes the existence of a timeframe suitable for all of the end time events to come into their final fulfillment. This timeframe is obviously the end of the material world, when all history supposedly finalizes. His assumption for the existence of an end of this world seems to be rooted in the writings of countless Christian scholars down through the ages of church history, but he does not prove this from the Bible. If one repeats a statement often enough, many people will accept it, even though it may lack any strong biblical support. Examples from history abound.
But Gentry does not allow the matter to remain there. He is quick to point out that "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." (Quoted by Dr. R. C. Sproul, Sr., in The Last Days According to Jesus, pg. 156) So in order to buttress his case for an end-of-history fulfillment (without quoting Scripture), Gentry appeals to the uninspired creeds. For many Christians, this kind of argument is sufficient to keep them in the futurist camp, but other believers may not be satisfied with this kind of dubious authoritative support and may challenge Gentry to produce the Scripture (if there is any!) to substantiate his position.
So the gist of Gentry’s argument is that unless certain "key words" --- words often directly associated with first century imminence --- appear in the immediate context of other passages, then we have no right to assign (he would say "assume") the other passages relate to the A.D.70 timeframe.
Now, let’s turn to the author of The End of All Things: A Defense of the Future, C. Jonathin Seraiah. I quote from page 98 of his book.
"Each passage must be interpreted in its own context. The comparison of other Scripture passages for help in interpreting ‘nearness’ only extends to passages of similar context; we cannot assume a passage that does not mention nearness is implying it, unless we have biblical justification."
Mr. Seraiah adds: "If a text says something is ‘near,’ then we must accept it as true. If, however, the text does not make any reference to ‘nearness,’ we must not assume it is controlled by the ‘near’ statements found elsewhere and thus seek to interpret it as having happened in the past." (Ibid, pg. 102)
We see, therefore, that to Seraiah the context of a passage is determined by whether or not the "key words" appear in the immediate text. If the "key words" are in the text under discussion, then the event has already experienced an A.D.70 fulfillment, but if no "key words" are found, then it can only mean that the end of history is the focal point. No biblical material is offered in support of this idea, nor is the validity of an end-of-history fulfillment ever questioned. It is simply asserted without any positive proof from the Bible. And just as Gentry turns to the creeds to support his view, so does Seraiah.
Both Gentry and Seraiah (and most other partial preterists) subscribe to essentially the same hermeneutic on how the context of a prophetic Scripture passage is to be determined. On this basis, the partial preterists may find no "key words" such as "this generation," "shortly," "at hand," "near," "soon" in the immediate context. So they rule out any direct reference to the A.D.70 time period, and conclude that the passage in question must apply to another fulfillment time frame. The only alternative time frame that is ever considered is the "end of the material world," or, as some would state it, "the conclusion of history on this earth."
Thus, Dr. R. C. Sproul, Sr., who follows Gentry’s general system of determining the context, logically arrives at these conclusions as stated on pg. 170 of his book, The Last Days According to Jesus:
Thus Sproul recognizes two comings of Christ, two days of the Lord, and two judgments. But if pressed, he would deny this, instead affirming only one real fulfillment, and this coming at the end of history, with the A.D.70 events being only types or foreshadows of the still-future real fulfillment. Yet where in the New Testament does he find the proof to declare that the direct promises of Jesus were only types or shadows?
And in passing, do not Sproul’s conclusions fly in the face of Luke 21:22 (referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70) that says: "For these are the days of vengeance when all things that have been written are to be fulfilled"?
Other verses that pinpoint an A.D. 70 fulfillment of the major prophetic events include:
Matt. 10:23 "For assuredly, I say unto you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes."
Matt. 16:28 "Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."
Matt. 24:34 "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place."
Matt. 26:64 "Jesus said to him [the high priest Caiaphas], ‘It is as you said, Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."
In fact, a recent article on the Preterist Cosmos website, Preterism 101 by David A. Green, quotes "101 biblical, preterist ‘time-indicators’" in the New Testament and suggests the total number may be up in the hundreds, all pointing to an A.D. 70 fulfillment focal point. The context being established by these verses is overwhelming!
If Sproul is to claim that the above verses do not support the Second Coming of Christ in A.D. 70, but instead are intended to be fulfilled at the so-called end of the material world, then he needs to support his contention with Scripture. To date he apparently has not been able to come up with Scripture texts that prove the real time of fulfillment is not A.D. 70, but rather the end of history. It will not do to merely assert his viewpoint. The burden is upon him to prove it conclusively!
. At this point, is it not reasonable to pose two closely-related questions to these scholars? These are questions that, as far as I know, have never been asked in this exact same way in any discussions about context. If so, then naturally no exact same answers have been supplied to these seldom or never asked questions. Here then are the questions that I consider to be fair and reasonable:
First, what Scriptural support can be presented to show, beyond all reasonable doubt, that there even exists a future-to-us time period where important redemptive and eschatological fulfillments are to take place?
And, secondly, what Scriptural support can be brought forth to clearly and unmistakably prove that this material world, and history on this earth, will actually end at some time in our future?
I have read much of the material in print by partial preterists dealing with the fulfillment of the eschatological promises as recorded in the New Testament. But I have searched their writings in vain to find where they supply any clear Biblical proof that any prophecy, either from the Old or New Testaments, would find fulfillment at any time beyond the first century generation of Jesus’ day.
Yet some partial preterists persistently fight for a division of Matthew 24. For many years now, Gentry, following in the steps of J. Marcellus Kik and a host of other partial preterists, has taught that the distinction between "these things" (vs. 34) and "that day and hour" (vs. 36) is sufficient proof to allow him to separate the events by 2000+ years. Preterists have been quick to point out the folly of this kind of eisegesis by a referral to Luke 17 which intermingles the supposedly distinct events of Matthew 24 into just one first century time frame. To attempt to maintain that the Olivet Discourse deals with two widely separated focal points is untenable!
If a future 2000+ year focal point of fulfillment really existed in Jesus’ mind, should we not expect to find either Jesus or His apostles saying something about it? Yet a search of the New Testament writings tell us nothing to even remotely suggest that any of the prophecies of Jesus focus beyond the first century. Why would Jesus bother to tell His listeners about these momentous events if they did not pertain to them? Or, if just some of these end-time events, and not all of them, pertained to first century people, why did not Jesus make this hiatus of 2000+ years clear, nor give his listeners even a hint that this was the case? I think the reason is obvious enough: Jesus did not intend for His readers to apply the fulfillment of His prophetic words to any far distant time frame beyond the lifetime of some of His first century disciples. In fact, His own words forbid His original audience to think of fulfillment beyond the generation in which they were living! (Refer to the previously quoted verses above)
So where does the absence of any clear proof for a future-to-us fulfillment leave our partial preterist friends? Should not the above clear evidence provide these scholars with sufficient reason to abandon the inconsistencies of partial preterism, and become Preterists? How long can they avoid the impact of these arguments?
Thankfully today, under God’s grace, many Christians are turning to Preterism as the clearest and best understanding of what Jesus and His disciples taught on the subject of Bible prophecy. But many other partial preterists and futurists will not give up the fight even after seeing the mountain of evidence against their position. May I suggest that their resistance takes the shape of at least two alternate ways of evading the Bible’s message?
1) Attempting to find specific Scripture verses where the fulfillment, according to their present system of interpretation. has not yet taken place.
2) Turning to the ancient creeds and confessions of the church to bolster their contention that all end time events find fulfillment at the end of history.
What is the remedy for these two common, yet feeble, attempts to evade Preterism?
I suggest the answer to the first is to begin to take at face value the words of Jesus and His apostles that the first century was indeed the "time of fulfillment" of all things. After coming to this conclusion, then the re-interpreting of those puzzling passages where literal fulfillment has obviously not taken place and arriving at a more Christ-honoring solution to the problem. This means then, coming to an understanding of Scripture that fits and upholds the words of Jesus and His apostles.
The answer to the second is to recognize the fact that the ancient creeds, no matter how valuable they are in other areas of theology, simply do not reflect an accurate understanding of what the Scriptures teaches on eschatology. No one claims that the creeds or confessions are inspired, yet often on a practical discussion level, we have found that they are set forth as the standard used to determine what Christianity really teaches on every subject. However, only the Bible is the final authority on these questions.
So what is the conclusion to the whole matter of context? In the absence of any statements in the New Testament that would provide an exception to what the Lord Jesus and His apostles so clearly taught, we must conclude that all prophecy, whether originating from the Old or New Testaments, finds its ultimate and final fulfillment within the framework of that first century generation. This is the only context that prophetic Bible interpreters legitimately find themselves working in.
Puzzling prophetic passages, regardless of whether certain "key words" are found in the immediate context of a passage or not, can not be postponed or re-assigned to an "end of history" because there is no Biblical proof that there is such a thing at all! The scholar who insists on creating a future-to-us fulfillment focal point enters into a "no man’s land" of prophetic speculation, which is pure fantasy! A scholar who thinks in this manner demonstrates that he is more governed by philosophical imaginations taken from pagan culture than from the pages of the Bible.
And finally, the burden of this article is to encourage our partial preterist brethren to avoid like the plague "The Context Trap" into which they have fallen. All of us need to be Bible Christians, where Sola Scriptura is honored, where efforts will not be expended in trying to "get around" the plain teachings of Scripture, or to try to "explain them away" but rather to seek to bring our understanding into line by simply believing the words of Christ and His followers. The Apostle Paul, writing in 2 Cor. 10:5b sums it up very well as he urges his readers to "bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ."
What do YOU think ?
Date: 27 Sep 2006
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