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Dear (Dispensationalist Friend)...
By Todd Dennis
Dear (Dispensationalist Friend),
Thank you for sending me materials regarding the refutation of the preterist view. I always love to be given the opportunity to answer charges against this theology, as the arguments are, almost without exception, easily answered. Oftentimes, they are even shown to be based upon misrepresentations of the view. Such is the case with the majority of the materials you sent.
I have confronted one of the authors personally (during our e-mail debate in ’96) for his pattern of selecting little-used and/or centuries-old views to misrepresent preterist theology today. One example of this is his statement that all prets believe that fulfillment of New Testament prophecies are to be found in the Maccabean period, which pre-dated the birth of Christ. There is still a small section of preteristic thought which believes such, but this by no means represents the norm.
It is easy to misrepresent (or convolute) the views of fulfilled eschatology, due to the fact that there are many differing viewpoints within the general spectrum of such thought. This is true, of course, of every doctrinal perspective.
What is interesting to me is that every denomination has some form of preterism as a part of their beliefs, so far as I have seen. Historical preterism (which differs from modern preterism in that it accepts varying portions of eschatological fulfillment) incorporates a wide spectrum of theology, stretching from Catholicism to Baptists. However, all who employ a past-fulfillment approach to the Scriptures generally agree that the Roman-Jewish war of 66-73 was the stage for the "weeks prophecy" of Daniel, and also sections (at least) of the Olivet Discourse.
Misrepresentation, such as that mentioned above, is why there is an entire section of the Preterist Archive devoted to these and other articles critical of the view. There are also responses to the charges leveled there as well, so everyone gets to speak for themselves. The idea is to allow airing of all sides of the discussion, without the usual one-sided religious rhetoric. Sincere students benefit from not having to rely solely on the words of an opponent who inaccurately speaks for their opposition (this is the tactic of building 'straw men' to knock down). Though many people have said that the debates in the Critical Article Archive were very instrumental in their doctrinal development, more often than not people have come to the position independent of any other writings -- including those of preterists or Josephus.
If you don’t mind, I would like to use my personal testimony from the late 1990s to present the scope of contemporary preterist theology, while answering the few charges presented in the received materials.
In the midst of studies in the Master's program there, the pastor of what became my sending church personally asked me to take over a Dispensational Premillennial church in the wind-swept plains of the Dakotas. This turned out to be the opportunity of my lifetime up to that point. I was overjoyed to finally, after many years in Christian leadership, have the time and freedom to lay everything out "on the table" and seek explanations to all of the unanswered questions that had built up... particularly those that seemed to present the greatest difficulties at college. My heart was drawn into a personal tutoring pact with the Spirit of God, which was eagerly accepted and pursued (perhaps a bit too eagerly, not remotely conceiving at that point where I was about to be taken). In an attempt to lessen the noise of competing viewpoints, it seemed best not to seek any influences outside of the Bible, until becoming more grounded on some particular point of view. I would only read an author (secular history included) if the Spirit placed it across my path in a way that was relevant to the lessons He had been giving.
The next two years were spent intensively studying the Word of God. During that time, I was being changed from within like never before in my life. God had (I supposed at the time) honored my prayers, as well as my desire for Truth. It occurred to me that He was leading me by bringing me closer to Himself first, predicating all other doctrinal understanding on our personal relationship. This blessing, alone, made the doctrinal journey worth all of the time and effort.
The following is a condensed version of the doctrinal studies through which I was taken during the first period of study into an approach of historical preterism. It was a little later when the trend of my studies led into modern preterism -- and then ultimately beyond.
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
Having to sift through so much biblical material became a bit troublesome. With all of the key prophetic words and phrases scattered throughout both testaments, a greater tool was needed for the sake of efficiency. Thankfully, the church in North Dakota had a pretty decent 486 personal computer, which helped a great deal. It certainly helped me clean up all of the post-it notes and paper fragments from my desk.
The studies began centering around the meaning of the various declarations of Christ, such as those in Matthew 24, that prophecy was going to be fulfilled in his very generation. It became increasingly obvious that this included the great tribulation, the signs in the heavens, and even the coming of the Son of Man!
Looking back, what seems amazing is that it wasn't until well after acquainting myself with the Internet that the I became aware of the name for the doctrines into which I was being led. At the time, it was very disconcerting, as I didn't know if there was anyone else in the world who believed the same way. (It turns out that this has been a very common experience of newbie prets throughout the centuries.)
A chance meeting which introduced me to the World Wide Web in early 1995 eventually presented the opportunity to archive these studies on the Internet. What began as just a method for maintaining efficient studies turned out to have a life of its own -- and provide me the opportunity to hear about similar journeys with people from around the world.
After creating my first theological website, called the "Doctrinal Depot," I was told by Gil Gaudraeu that one who holds to such a view of past fulfillment is called a Preterist. Later, I found that my unfamiliarity with this doctrine was due to my lack of knowledge regarding church history, as the early to middle aged "Church" was unanimous in acceptance of the preterist view of the Olivet Discourse.
IDENTIFYING THE ISRAEL OF GOD
Initially, my studies revolved around the nation of Israel. Israel seemed to be involved with everything in the Bible and current events, and the tendency to look into the future for the fulfillment of prophecy had certainly been reinforced by the Dispensationalist view. Having had particular difficulties in school seeing the proposed distinction between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven, this is where my focused initially, especially in reference to the "end times" prophetic fulfillment found in Matthew 24.
Before long, it became clear that the Kingdoms were identical (it is the same "heavenly kingdom" of God - the confusion is because it is called the Kingdom of heaven solely in Matthew). And though I was still very much unsettled and in transition, it was time to concede that there were fundamental errors with the Dispensationalist view of Israel
Establishing the singularity of the kingdoms of God and heaven led to questions about the history of the physical nation of Israel. Wanted to determine the nature of the kingdom of heaven led to the considering of Israel's place in prophecy. The more I studied Israel's history, the more the generation of Christ's day kept coming into focus, particularly considering Matthew 24:34. Seeing as how the book of Acts ends, the question was being begged "what happened next?" The answer is the utter destruction of the physical nation in the year 70.
The short, superficial reason why today's temporal Israel is not the people of God is that they had, long ago been removed from His presence for transgression in the Old Covenant era.. eventually being removed off their land -- effectively ending their Amos 3:2 relationship, in accordance with the terms of the contract at Sinai:
Subsequent studies revealed that these prophecies were fulfilled in the first century, with the Roman annihilation of Israel (iron being the symbol of the Roman empire - Dan. 2:40; 7:7). Deuteronomy 28 is an exact and vividly descriptive prophecy (given through Moses) of the final siege and destruction of Jerusalem 40 years after the crucifixion of Christ. The horrors of which were to be unsurpassed in all history; which prophecy ends with this prediction (vv. 63-67):
We find out in the New Testament (Romans 9 and others), that Israel's rebellion was preordained to show how the law was only the schoolmaster to show the need for, and the perfection of, Christ. In other words, it was always God's plan to set aside the temporal things of that nation. This is not the Dispensational view, though. Grant Jeffrey presents the scenario like this:
This assertion is false on a number of point, one of which is that in the book of John the Jews tried to make Christ a king, and He withdrew. On top of this, Christ declared that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), to which Paul heartily agrees in I Cor. 15:50 and II Tim. 4:18. The scariest part about Jeffrey's statement above, and the fatal flaw of the Dispensational position, is the argumentation that follows. Being stuck in a rut of logic that will not allow him to escape the absurdity of his argument, Jeffrey is driven to the statement below, which picks up directly after the above quote:
Christ having to be crucified after His glorious reign is not a Biblical doctrine, needless to say. Yet Grant Jeffrey is the second-highest grossing Christian author (so I hear), behind Hal Lindsey. That certainly can make one question the doctrinal savvy of contemporary Dispensationalist readers.
So... Israel was destroyed as a nation because of their inability to abide by the terms of the covenant. What is a wonderful show of the mercy of the New Covenant (which requires no national allegiance), is that anyone could enter into this other contract with God - and this time, all the terms and penalties were placed upon Christ. Christ, and He alone, was counted worthy of keeping the contract (Gen. 3:16), but it wasn't the old contract, it was the new contract - which was signed in His blood. This general call to re-enter the promised land is to what Moses referred when addressing Israel, which land could only be entered through The Door, Jesus Christ:
That is why Peter, when speaking to the church in I Peter 2:9, declares that the Christians were the inheritors of the following promises, which were never given to the temporal nation due to their disobedience.
One great purpose of this temporal destruction is revealed to be a temporal metaphor of the refining fire for the pure (elect remnant) of Israel, who, under the New Covenant, joined the body of Christ just like all other believers. So God is truly not a respecter of persons, but Christ is the judge. You have to go through Christ, as the promises were not made to all of Israel, but to the heir, Who is Christ (Matthew 21:38; Gal. 3:16, etc.). To this the Old Testament amply agrees (Hosea 11:1 fulfilled in Matthew 2:18, showing that Israel is Christ), as well as the abundant writings of Christianity's first great (post-apostolic) debater, Justin Martyr.
Dispensational great Charles Ryrie, in the magazine Dispensationalism Today, declared that "If Dispensationalism has all the answers, then it is the most helpful tool in Biblical interpretation. If not, it ought to be discarded as worthless" (1965,21). In the case of the identification of Israel, it is my opinion that Dispensationalism is clearly and patently false. If that is a correct assessment, this recent system is shown to be foundationally false, due to the fundamental importance of the identification of Israel in the Dispensational model.
I was clearly no longer a Dispensationalist, though I had no idea what I was, or where I would land... so I kept studying.
WHO ISRAEL ISN'T
It was then that God brought across my path a friend named Lloyd Dale, who was promoting a theological position I had never heard before, but which answered a lot of the questions that had been hanging around regarding the identity of Israel. The view is called Christian Identity. This was in the period before the view had taken off in the States among the Patriot Movement. Christian Identity (CI) taught, according to Lloyd, that the "true Israel" of God are the Anglo-Saxon peoples.. and that the nation of Israel in the Middle East is made up of people from Eastern Asia, which have no hereditary connection to Israel or Abraham. This was certainly a big departure from the Dispensationalist view.
Lloyd did a great job in helping to dismantle the idea that modern-day Israel was the chosen people of God, which reinforced the incredible number of New Testament passages which refer to faith in Christ as the only standard for a relationship with the Lord. Subsequent hours of study with people such as Ovid Need, and Ted Weiland, as well as academic sources (including Israeli press), acknowledged that there is no such thing as a Jewish race, but that it is only a religion or nationality of choice.
Lloyd and his Christian Identity views did a good job of showing who wasn't Israel. However, in the process of my studies, it became clear that the further conclusions regarding who Israel truly was were wrong. In calling the Anglo-Saxons and Germanic peoples Israel, they were placing restrictions upon the inclusivity of Christ's redemption that are not to be found in the Bible. Galatians 3, alone, shows that there is no temporal measure for acceptance to God, as all the promises were to Christ (v.16), and are received through him alone (II Cor. 1:20). The more familiar I became with the view, the plainer it was that there are major problems with Christian Identity doctrine. Interestingly enough, most of the errors are shared with Dispensationalism, in regards to temporalizing eternal things -- which turns out to be pretty much the same error in all man-made systems.
WHO ISRAEL IS
Not having been led to embrace Christian Identity was fine by me, for a few reasons: First, I was raised with the ethic that God is not the respecter of persons - black, white, male, female, Jew, Greek, etc.. (this is one of the early questions raised in Indianapolis - how a temporal race could comprise "God's chosen people," when Christians of all races are God's chosen people.) Secondly, many of the people involved with Christian Identity were rude, prideful, and arrogant. This, in my opinion, betrayed a lack of true spiritual understanding. The biggest joy in moving beyond CI, though, was that God had made it abundantly clear that there was a great deal of further understanding to be given... if I didn't turn back from the plow.
As a result of determining who Israel wasn't, I focused all my attentions on who Israel was. I became convinced (along with the majority of Protestant Denominations, I later found) that the Bible taught that the true identity of Israel was the Church (Gal 6:16; see The Church is Israel Now). Better put, Israel is the body of Christ - the bride. Romans 9:6-9 states it most succinctly, declaring that "they which are the children of the flesh are not the children of God, but the children of promise are counted for the seed."
To this, the majority of early Christian writers agree. Dallas Seminary dispensationalist Alan Patrick Boyd stated the following:
That Israel "after the flesh" (I Cor. 10:18) was not the true Israel of God, and the body of Christ was, gave me great leads to pursue. Theologically, it led me straight to the significance of the cross. I needed to figure out, more specifically, the significance of the passing from the Old Covenant to the New, and what other impact this had. My first question, though, was when this transfer took place from the temporal to the spiritual nation.
Israel made a covenant they couldn't keep, and then were utterly destroyed at the appointed time (the "Day of the Lord" - I Thess 5:2). There was a greater purpose behind all of this, and that is the redemption promised in Gen. 3:15. Hebrews 3,4, and Galatians 3 (among other passages), teach that the law was defunct, and could save nobody. From here, we are in mutual agreement about the need for Christ, and the purpose of Christ, and the redeeming qualities and nature of Christ. The unique substitutionary sacrifice is the cornerstone of my doctrine, as it is with yours... so our issues are not about the nature of redemption. What is different, though, is the timing of redemption's fulfillment.
Though Dispensationalists believe that redemption was given at the resurrection (or Pentecost), most preterists believe that redemption was not to be given until the return of Christ. This is substantiated in numerous verses, including the following:
The Olivet Discourse places this giving of redemption (therefore the second coming of Christ) as being at the same time as the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans:
What ties this into the matters at hand is that nearly every passage in the Old Testament which speaks of the reestablishment of Israel, does so in the context of salvation or redemption. Isaiah 35, for instance, which says "the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose," declares that this same desert shall "rejoice with joy and singing" as "they.. see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God" (v.2). Verse three then correlates this to the New Testament, as it says "Strengthen ye the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees." Hebrews 12:12 quotes this verse in fulfillment regarding our relationship with God through Christ! Jeremiah 6:21-25 takes this verse and shows the other side, which is the desolation that was coming upon the nation of Israel at the hands of the Roman army, using the same language as the Olivet Discourse.
Isaiah 35 then continues by describing the beauties of salvation in Christ (paraphrased), "The blind shall see, the deaf shall hear, the lame shall walk" which is, of course, Christ's phrase to describe, to the disciples of John, His Messianic role (Matt. 11:5). A past fulfillment approach increasingly revealed a more glorious Christ. Others may wish to limit the meaning of these passages through a "literal" hermeneutic, but I think that the entire history of Christian interpretation would show the error therein.
The passing from the Old Covenant to the New underscores the significance of the transference of Israel from the temporal to the spiritual realms. The reason these two are correlated is that, according to Hebrews 9:8,9, the temporal holy of holies had to be destroyed first, so that the fulfilment (spiritual temple- the church) would supersede the shadow (temporal).
Paul, in Galatians 4:20-31, states this, explaining that the Old Covenant was to become subservient to the New Covenant. Paul even refers this passing as being from the temporal Jerusalem to the "Jerusalem which is above." Presumably, this is the same city in Hebrews 11 whose "builder and maker is God," (v. 10), which was "an heavenly... city" (v. 16). It is also that "heavenly Jerusalem" and Zion of Hebrews 12:22. The transfer of the capital to the spiritual realm substantiates the passing of the elements of the Old Covenant (including the nation, temple, people, sacrifices, etc.) from the flesh to the spirit, through Christ.
IN WITH THE NEW, OUT WITH THE OLD
By this point of my studies, the ball was rolling along nicely. Seeing a theme of transference develop, this is where I headed next. It was with an examination of the Old Testament shadows and types that I began to receive hot leads into the timing of this fulfillment. Knowing that God ordained Old Testamentary events to shadow coming New Testament realities (Gal. 4:24; II Cor. 4:18; I Cor. 15:43), I began looking more intensely into the Old Testament, which I still knew only slightly better than I had before my studies began. While looking for all the shadows and types that fit into the theme of transference, I found that there are a number of famous instances of transference in the Old Testament. Two of the most important are when Israel went from Egypt to Palestine (the exodus), and when the kingdom was transferred from Saul to David.
It was with the latter of the two that my first breakthrough came, so far as the timing of the transference from the Old to the New (in covenant, nation, people, typology, etc.). In I Sam 15, Samuel tells Saul that because of his rebellion, the Lord has rejected him as a King. Verse 28 reads, "The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbor of thine, that is better than thou." So there were the two part - the taking and the giving.
God, through Samuel, was referring, of course, to David as being "better." Knowing that David represents Christ and the New Covenant (which is "better," according to Hebrews), I knew right where to look – at the words of Christ. It just so happens that Christ says the very same words as Samuel did, but Christ was saying them to the nation of Israel. Matthew 21 holds the parable of the householder. In it, the husbandmen, out of desire for the inheritance (that belonged to the Son), kill the master’s servants, including the Son Himself. Verse 43 reads, "Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." So, the transference theme clearly includes the nation of Israel in the New Testament. The significance of this is the greatest transference theme - the passing from the Old Covenant to the New, which is otherwise called the passing from the old, to the new heavens and earth (Rev. 21 - the Old Covenant had passed away - II Peter 3).
The question remained as to how the kingdom was to be transferred. We are told, in Matthew 23, that the physical nation is going to be destroyed to fulfill this prophecy. In fact, the Lord condemns NT Israel as harshly as is possible, emphasizing that the "axe is laid to the root of the trees" (Matt. 3:7-10).
What was more exciting, though, was the fact that Christ specifies the timing of this transference in verse 36, "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." Upon seeing this, I immediately went to the other passages which spoke of a time-frame of fulfillment, and found that they all spoke of the judgment coming "soon." Most significantly, history does indeed confirm that, in fact, the entire nation and city and sanctuary were destroyed within a generation of these words having been spoken. So there it was. The transference from the Old to the New (nation, covenant, etc.) was to be in the first century.
Matthew 23:38 continues this prophecy of impending doom for Israel by Christ declaring, "Behold, your house is left to you desolate." This ties Christ's New Testament prophecies to those of the Old, as this makes a direct allusion to Daniel 9, where the chief end of that prophecy was that "the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary" (v.26). This was shown at the close of the Daniel prophecy, which reads, "and he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate" (v. 27).
Matthew 23:38 also makes the connection to Deuteronomy 28-29, where God tells Israel that they will be rejected due to their rebellion (just as Saul was). In fact, the specifics of Deut. 28 are astounding when compared to a history of the Roman-Jewish war, as it predicted all of the things that did happen. That is like people today looking in the newspaper to see the fulfillment of prophecy. I think they have the right idea, I would just ask them to look first within the time frame that Christ gave, to see if these things did happen (which, of course, they did - at least temporally). If done, one can see that the first (and only) time it happened all together was during the seven year Roman-Jewish War.
The "city and the sanctuary" were destroyed at the 3-˝ year milepost (which is stunning, as 3-˝ years is mentioned in Daniel and Revelation as being the time of the desolation). The interpreter of the Josephus text, Sir William Whiston, wrote (in 1737) regarding this amazing occurrence as such,
Another amazing fact revealed in Josephus is that the city was taken specifically on September 8, in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, or the year of Christ 70 (Ant. b. vi. c. 10). The temple was burnt August 10, A. D. 70, which was, interestingly enough, the exact same day and month on which it had been burnt by the king of Babylon (Josephus, Ant. b. xx. c. 11. s. 8). Josephus was thoroughly satisfied that the destruction of Jerusalem was the judgment of God:
PATRISTICS AND FULFILLED PROPHECY
Having found such solid ground in the Word, my comfort level in looking around other sources increased. Thanks to webmastering work for Ovid Need, a wonderful preterist thinking brother, I was introduced to the study of patristics - the writings of the post-apostolic centuries. These studies yielded an incredible amount of testimony to the idea of past fulfillment.
I became aware that people like to misrepresent preterism by saying that it is not a historical doctrinal position, but this is clearly not the case. That the Olivet Discourse was fulfilled in the first century seems to be an all but unanimous view in the first half of church history. In fact, I have yet to find ONE Christian in the first millennium of Christianity that taught otherwise! Origen states the following:
"I challenge anyone to prove my statement untrue if I say that the entire Jewish nation was destroyed less than one whole generation later on account of these sufferings which they inflicted on Jesus. For it was, I believe, forty-two years from the time when they crucified Jesus to the destruction of Jerusalem." (Origen, Contra Celsum, 198-199)
There is also the testimony of the 4th century Christian scholar, Chrysostom, who stated the unanimous interpretation of all Christians on this point:
The results of these studies were archived at the Church History section of the Preterist Archive.
Certainly, their forms of preterism were not as consistent as those options today, as early Christians would mix and match doctrines together, with no concern for their consistency with Scripture. For instance, they would mix preterism with futurism, and practically all other views. There is little denying, though, that the preterist view of the Olivet Discourse is the oldest eschatological doctrine of the church.
It may seem strange that it has taken so long for the view of past fulfillment to become so popular, but there are a number of reasons why now is the right time. Only now is eschatology being given a thorough look by Christianity. Eschatology has never been the focus until now, and there has never been a council on the subject of eschatology in the history of the Christian church. The hysteria around the turn of the millennium makes today the perfect day for God to reveal otherwise, re-exposing a unanimously held, then partially forsaken, historical doctrine.
Many of the people who lay the charge of novelty against Preterism believe in systems that cannot be traced back any farther than the 16th Century. So, historically speaking, preteristic doctrine is just as historical as any other.
All told, there are few pre-Dispensational theologians who dispute the connection between the judgment of God and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D.70. Take, for example, this quote from one of today's leading American authorities on the writings of Josephus:
Which brings me back to Matthew 24. In the Olivet Discourse recorded there, Christ confirms to the nation, in continuation of the theme of Malachi, that it will soon be utterly destroyed. In fact, Christ tells them that all of the curses laid out in Deut. 28 are going to come to pass, practically listing them one by one. He places the same time-stamp on this part of the prophecy as He had in Matthew 23:36. Matthew 24:34 reads, "Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation." Again, not only did the Christians of the day take Christ for His Word, but the early church believed this as referring to the destruction of Jerusalem. Possibly the most convincing proof, though, is that it all actually happened within the space of 40 years.
So... Israel was destroyed, as Christ foretold in Matthew 22:6-8: "the remnant took his servants.., and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city." It was then that the wedding feast of the lamb was ready, and the New Covenant inaugurated, as the end of the book of Revelation reveals (within the time frame of "quickly" and "shortly" and "about to come to pass" and "at hand").
After the total destruction, not one person lived in Jerusalem, which was laid in heaps. Not one stone of the temple laid upon another (because the Romans were trying to find the gold templeware that had flown through the stone floor cracks, having been melted in the fire). The next question was – was temporal Israel going to be physically re-established as a nation?
To this question I had a great deal of information to consider. Having been convinced that the Dispensational Israel model was untenable, I had no difficulty in answering this question. The reason for this is that the majority of contemporary Christian denominations believe that New Covenant Israel is a spiritual nation, with no physical boundaries. Nearly all Reformed Denominations (Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Wesleyan, Reconstructionist, Reformed Church USA, etc., etc.,) are either actively or foundationally partial Preterist in this regard. So are the Churches of Christ…, some of which are fully Preterist.
The Dispensational model of a permanently distinct physical nation is recent, to say the least, and unique. It was only last century that this position was popularized. Many say it came from the ecstatic vision of a young woman, but that is beside the point. Either the Bible teaches it, or It doesn't.
As a result of these studies, it became clear that the only way to create a future for Israel is to temporalize (others might say "literalize") the passages which speak of the heavenly Jerusalem and Zion, etc. Seeing that the faulty "literal method" is the only way to do this, it was easy to see the realm of the true Jerusalem. If one is not presupposing a future physical Israel, they will have a hard time studying into that position.
Knowing that the "Israel of God’ (Gal. 6:16) is not a temporal people in a temporal kingdom (John 18:36; I Cor. 15:50, "Kingdom of Heaven", II Tim. 4:18), there was only a matter of looking elsewhere to find Israel - the spiritually eternal realm. Again, on this point the majority of Christian denominations agree - There is no temporal Israel, and never will be again. No surprise, though, as God goes from good to better or best, not from good to better to good again.
To put it in more theological terms, God was finally able to take the kingdom from the temporal, giving it to the spiritual - from the Old Covenant to the New. Now the laws of God are written on our hearts instead of tables of stone, etc. All of the elements of the Old Covenant were melted with fire, including everything temporal/physical. There is not one temporal element to Christian obedience and worship.. It is all in spirit and truth (John 4:24).
As for confirming again the timing of this transference from the Old Covenant, I needed to get more specific than Christ's "this generation" had been." Was it at the cross, as many believe? Was it at Pentecost? Or was it after? Heb. 8:13 shows that after the cross and Pentecost the Old Covenant was only "ready to vanish away." The II Peter 3:10-13 text explains the timing of this as being that of the destruction of the physical elements of the Old Covenant (Heb. 9:8,9 confirms this). correlating the passing of the Covenants as being the passing of the heavens and earth. The dozens of other texts that make it clear that there was a correlation of these prophecies with the destruction of Jerusalem confirm the words of Christ, and of the NT writers who littered their letters with words such as "shortly," "soon," "about to," including Revelation 1:1’s "things which must shortly come to pass."
On the correlation of Israel's Covenant penalty with the destruction of Jerusalem, all preterists throughout history have agreed. This century, though, has brought further criticism and development of that theology, which still has never been fully systematized. Theological circles are, just now, in the process of doing this. There has never been the focus or need until now. On details of preterism, there is always much study and discussion to be done, but I think that giving a quick Biblical synopsis and the historical case for the great credibility of the view is all that is needed for now. On the grounds of the unanimous historical acceptance alone, the view is made worthy of further study.
My personal study to get to this point had led me through Premillennial Dispensationalism, Christian Identity, Amillennialism, and then Post-Millennial partial Preterism. It was there that I remained for the next year. The reason for this is that I was somewhat afraid of where I would go next. If I thought that anything else was fulfilled in the Roman-Jewish War, I would be giving up very important future events to the past. What about the Second Coming of Christ, etc.?
The reason I was a scared partial Preterist, is that Matthew 24:34 says "all these things" were to be fulfilled. That includes vv. 29-31, where the Second Coming of Christ is mentioned. Luke’s parallel verse says, "This generation shall not pass, till ALL be fulfilled." Confirming that all means ALL, v. 22 states (regarding the Roman-Jewish war, according to all the early Christians) "For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." (cf. Isaiah 34:1-8).
Luke 21:22 was, for me, a most amazing statement with which I struggled for months. Trying to take the passage step by step, contemplating all that it included. This was before I understood the significance of the timing and nature of the New Covenant's establishment. Well, as I began to study this all things, I was led to the book of Acts, were Peter says the following,
Revelation 10:7 makes virtually the same point, declaring that all things which had been spoken were to be fulfilled during the sounding of the "last trump" (al a I Cor. 15:52)!
The Acts text cited above is important for two reasons: First, it teaches that redemption had not yet been given, and wouldn’t be until the return of Christ (I Cor. 15:21-23). To this, dozens of NT passages agree (See them in New Testament Realized Eschatology). Second, it teaches that when Christ did come, He would bring the fulfillment of all things (Acts 3:19; I Peter 1:3-13), just as Luke 21:22 said regarding the Olivet Discourse which, again, every early Christian (according to Chrysostom and Origen) stated as being the Roman-Jewish war.
That all things of the Old Covenant would be annihilated, and the things of the New Covenant would be inaugurated is worthy of the many dramatic NT expressions, such as the following:
This dramatism is especially understandable, considering that the Greek words for world here are aion, which simply means an age. This subject of the "end of the world" is treated more below.
So, clearly, Christ teaches in Luke 21:22,32 that all prophecy would be fulfilled within the space of that generation. I quickly found that there is not one NT text that places the reach of prophecy beyond that generation. It is the Futurist presupposition of what "shortly," "soon," and "about to" mean that allows one to read 2000 years into certain texts. Even still, there is not one NT text that states a large time frame clearly. There is not one.
But, I was still unconvinced. Not wanting to let go of a future second coming of Christ (primarily), I examined every plausible refutation of this one pivotal point. During the period of these studies, I answered questions about the timing of the Second Coming of Christ like this: "Matthew 24:29-31 places it within the time frame of that generation, but I can't see how yet. When I can, I will let you know."
Most critical arguments I found were liberal, such as the position that Christ was not God, or that the Scriptures are uninspired, or that the Apostles were wrong. These arguments come from Christians and non-Christians alike, specifically due to his comments about the second coming (parousia, pronounced "pair-oh-see'-a"):
Ultimately, Christianity's Futurism is responsible for allowing this argumentation to go unanswered. Perhaps, if Preterism becomes popular, we can be given a new audience with the agnostics.
Other arguments revolved around the inspiration and authority of the creeds. This was of little consequence, though, as the Bible either teaches it or refutes it – I didn’t need secondary sources like creeds or Josephus, etc. There are hundreds of creeds in greater Christendom, nearly all of which are unique. Where they confirm the Bible, they are great, but they have little authority of their own (aside from a look at the doctrine of the period or the people).
The best critical arguments I was able to find came from how anti-Preterists have discounted the position. The two arguments worthy of examination were the "Transition Text Theory" of Matthew 24, and the "Dual-Fulfillment Theory" of Matthew 24 (which was Spurgeon's position).
This argument is primarily used by the partial Preterist. The argument against the fulfillment of all things is the claim that Matthew 24 contains both prophecies of the Roman-Jewish War and the end of the world at the Second Coming of Christ. Using Matthew 24:36 as a transition verse, ("But of that day…") they stated that everything before v. 34 ("this generation shall not pass") was AD70, and everything after is the end of the world. This position holds no water, though, as Luke 17’s version of the same text mixes those verses before and after their supposed transition. Consider the following chart, and the testimonies from two all-time Preteristic greats:
Thomas Newton (1754)
Milton Terry (1898)
The second best critical argument was based on the premise that the Olivet Discourse is intended to be interpreted as having a double fulfillment. It is taught by many (including Spurgeon) that the passage is primarily about the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70, but has a secondary fulfillment at the end of the world. This position would state that Nero was a 'type' of the coming Antichrist, etc.
The problem with this persuasion was that those who held it could never provide one shred of evidence, Biblical or otherwise, to defend the hermeneutic. On top of this, they needed to provide texts which taught an eschatology for the universe (Cosmological Eschatology). All that can be found focus on the passing of the Old Covenant, and the establishment of the New Covenant (Covenantal Eschatology). Partial Preterists say there are verses which teach cosmological eschatology, Preterists say there aren’t... but that all New Testament eschatology is Covenantal in nature.
According to Hebrews 8:13, they were in the "last days" of the Old Covenant, which was then (A.D.60s) "ready to vanish away." We know that the Old Covenant did not pass away until after the book of Hebrews was written (8:13), so the New Testament's "last days" are not those of the New Covenant (Max King asks that if the Old Covenant hadn't ceased yet ceased at the time of Heb 8:13, then is it possible that the New Covenant, which was supposedly inaugurated at the Resurrection, could have ceased before the Old?), nor are they the last days of the physical universe, which literalist method of interpretation many held.
At any rate, there is no Biblical or hermeneutical justification for the arbitrary "Double Fulfillment Theory." So agrees Anglican Archbishop F.W. Farrar, who is considered, by many, to be one of Christianity's most brilliant theologians and historians.
Some passages which confuse people into thinking that the Bible speaks of the end of the universe are those which use the Greek word aion. Confer with Matthew 13 and the parable of the wheat and tares. "The harvest is the end of the world" often confuses people (often Post-Millennialists) into believing that this is a passage of cosmological significance. The fact of the matter is that the harvest was simply (if such can be said of it) the end of the Old Covenant age (By the way, while in Matthew 13, notice v. 30 - Who is gathered first? "the tares" not the wheat! So long, secret rapture of the saints...). In short, the Bible speaks of the "time of the end," and not "the end of time."
II Peter 3 is another chapter erroneously used to teach the end of the universe. The problem is that the pivotal word, elements, has no relation to the "periodic table of elements," or such. These are the rudiments of the Old Covenant. They are the stoicheia of the Old Covenant, revealed in the following passages:
The key to understanding II Peter 3 came when I was shown that the establishment of the new covenant was the passing to the new heavens and earth. Compare the following passages, keeping the passing of the covenants and the kingdoms in mind:
The passing of the heavens and earth is a long-used Biblical metaphor for a change of covenants. The very framework of man's relationship with God changed when Christ shed His blood - likewise, it changed for Old Covenant Israel "after the flesh" when their nation was overrun by Roman armies and zealots within the walls of the city.
One side of the coin is that the kingdom was taken away from the unjust stewards - the temple, God's very representation of heaven on earth was taken away. The glory within that temple left prior to its abominating desolation. On the other hand, to those chosen (or who are moved to choose) was given eternal life, entrance into the holy of holies, standing with God. It is not, in my opinion, a stretch to interpret the cataclysmic temporal and spiritual events as such.
The key is to test Scripture with Scripture. The great reformer John Owen, as well as many other theologians, did just that. Looking at how the change of a heaven and earth after the flood (II Peter 3:5) didn’t require the destruction of the planet, they seized upon how they were metaphors for the New Covenant - opposed to the temporal heaven and earth, which were the realm of the Old Covenant.
Even Spurgeon acknowledged that the New Covenant was a new heavens and earth:
For more information on this point, please read Dr. John Owen on the New Heavens and Earth.
All prophecy was fulfilled in the first century, because there is nothing left in the Bible that isn't tied directly to then! All Bible prophecy used to teach future prophecy regarded the passing from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant that took place in the 1st Century. That redemption should be so significant should be no surprise, for this new covenant is the very reason Christ humbled himself, took the form of man, and offered His blood upon the cross for Israel (Heb 8:8-12; cf. Jer.31:31-34 - a promise to Israel given to the Church).
Everything intended in Genesis 3:15 was accomplished in the first century - begun with the cross, completed with the coming of Christ and the attendant desolation of Israel. Again, the temple needed to be destroyed (Heb. 9:8-10), bringing in the redemption promised since that time. Paul even stated that the work on the cross didn't accomplish Gen. 3:15, as the judgment upon the serpent was coming "shortly" (Rom. 16:20). This was written mere months before the commencement of the war.
This is like the presidential elections, where one is elected in November, but takes office in January. The interim period is the transitional period. That is precisely what the "last days" were... transition "before that great and notable day of the Lord come" (Acts 2:20) For more verses which show the scope of the "last days" of the Old Covenant, please read my (enclosed) article on New Testament Realized Eschatology.
There are other arguments against the various double-fulfillment theories. For instance, Christ states in emphatic terms that all things spoken by the prophets would find their fulfillment in those days of vengeance (Luke 21:22,32).
This is corroborated by the testimony of other writers, such as Peter (Acts 3:21) and John (Rev. 10:7).
Also, the pattern of revelation is from the temporal to the spiritual (I Cor. 15:46; II Cor. 4:18), not the temporal, the temporal, and then the spiritual, as double-fulfillment teaches. Or, as is the case with the Dispensational model in the millennial reign ceremonials, the temporal to the spiritual to the temporal again.
Also, Christ was to be the fullness of all shadows (Col. 2:17), and not another shadow of coming things. Again, as Spurgeon wrote, "Did you ever regret the absence of the burnt-offering, or the red heifer, of any one of the sacrifices and rites of the Jews? No, because, though these were like the old heavens and earth to the Jewish believers, they have passed away, and we now live under a new heavens and a new earth, so far as the dispensation of divine teaching is concerned. The substance is come, and the shadow has gone: and we do not remember it." (C.H. Spurgeon, MP vol. 38, p. 354).
Also, there is only one coming of Christ with power and great glory (Matt. 24:29-31; 16:27,28). "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation (Heb. 9:28)." This is like Christ’s statement, "When these things begin to come to pass, lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28). There is only a second coming, not a third – which is what some partial Preterists teach...
Based upon all of the above reasons, as well as a host of other indicators (not the least of which was release from the false expectation of a coming Armageddon, not to mention release from the idea that the Devil could do anything to me), I finally had no reason to believe in a future return of Christ. I had seen that the Second Coming had already happened, and finally saw that there is no scripturally-based reason to expect it to happen again! Since that time, God has blessed me with great understanding as to more of the 'whys,' 'whens,' and 'hows' of the whole matter. I had finally studied myself into an understanding of the fulfillment of prophecy by not trying to create the end of the world out of texts that regarded the end of the age.
My studies, since that time, have consisted of testing hypotheses against the various presuppositions of Preterism and vice versa. An example is testing what effect the past Second Coming of Christ has on every other area of theology, etc. This is significant, as the NT word for "coming" implies much more than just a direction. The word parousia literally means 'presence.' In fact, the word is still used in Greece today. According to John Bray, one can find it on electrical switch-boxes, parousia representing the English word "on" - the 'presence' of electricity. There is an ocean of study in determining the practical nature of the eternal presence of Christ, and the nature of the inheritances given (I Peter 1:3-14).
God has continued showing other deeper substantiation of the Preteristic view, such as the intricacies of Christ’s role as High Priest, and the timing and nature of the 40 years of wilderness wandering. The latter was an impressive study to me, as it showed the "last days" of the Old Covenant quite clearly through the Exodus events - God using the temporal to bespeak the spiritual reality that goes otherwise unseen.
It is my opinion that God has finally ordained a period for eschatological revival in Christianity. Revival is an especially good word, considering the early Christian Preteristic consensus. Whether or not we live to see a reformation the scope and size of that of the 16th Century remains to be seen (that task will necessarily be left to the first generation of children raised in a non-Dispensationalist Christian word). Preterism's focus on the glory of Christ as He was revealed in that day is worthy and capable of bringing about a worldwide reformation.
The positive side of the view's revolutionary aspects is that is creates a powerful doctrinal position which demands personal sacrifice. Besides the depth of understanding it gives one regarding the whole Bible (with an equal if not special interest in the Old Testament) and the history of Israel, it provides many other benefits to the believer, such as being anathematized by other Christians.
An important part of sizing up any doctrinal position is following it to its conclusions. A look at the conclusions of Dispensationalism reveals the general Laodicean mentality of those who must see the world around them deteriorating, in order to 'prove' their position to themselves. The applicable quote is the infamous utterance by J. Vernon McGee, "why polish the brass on a sinking ship?" A closer look at the conclusions of Preterism, however, reveals a beautiful and spiritual temple built upon the cornerstone of Jesus Christ, advancing the gospel's influence through the power and glory of the eternal kingdom.
First and last, we have the unwavering support given from the Bible. Preterism owns all of the emphatic declarations about the time-frame of fulfillment. We have incredibly clear passages regarding the nearness of fulfillment, such as the following:
The superior Preterist defense for the inspiration of the Scriptures is a nice gift returned to the Word of God for the clarity afforded. As stated above, only Preterism can effectively answer the following liberal charge:
Looking from the "orthodox" Futurist perspective, Christ failed to emerge when He said He would: before some standing there died (Matt. 16:27,28) and before that generation passed away (Matt. 24:29-34). This is the very argument many liberals use to deny the inspiration of the Scriptures, the authority of the Apostles, and even the Deity of Christ. Only through the Preterist perspective can their objections be satisfactorily answered.
Liberals attack the Bible on the ground of fulfillment, Futurists obscure the Bible (by reading multiple fulfillments into it, etc.) on the ground of fulfillment - The fact still remains that the Holy Spirit places the fulfillment of all prophecies within the space of 40 years of Christ's ministry.
Another reason Preterism passes the test is that both sacred and secular history substantiate the claims about Christ’s intent in the Olivet Discourse. Men have, throughout the Christian centuries, written about how the Roman-Jewish war proved the veracity of Christ’s words, and the fearful nature of God's bad side (See Holford's Destruction of Jerusalem).
Though the Bible is all the authority we need, the following tidbit is a sample of what secular history has to say about the coming of Christ. The Roman Historian Tacitus wrote the following, regarding the signs surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem:
Eusebius, the church historian, wrote the following in the 4th Century, regarding the events of the desolation:
The Preterist Archive's Church History page displays numerous early historical and Christian writings, which substantiate the legitimacy of the Preterist view. Included are those of Tertullian (II Cent.) ; Justin Martyr (II Cent.) ; Melito, Bp. of Sardis (II Cent.) ; Cyprian (III Cent.) ; Chrysostom (IV Cent.) ; Eusebius (325) ; Athanasius (IV Cent.), and many, many more. Perhaps the finest example is the First Epistle of Clement.
APPLICATIONS AND THOUGHTS
Another strength of the Preterist view is its jealous protection of God's glory. We know that ours is a jealous God. If fulfillment is past, and Christ fulfilled His Word entirely, then a large majority of Christians are waiting to glorify a glorified Christ. This would be horribly tragic and disrespectful. That fear alone justifies further study of the Preterist view.
Of the question of disrespect, consider the role of the high priest and how that was fulfilled in Christ. In the Old Covenant period, the high priest went into the Holy of Holies once a year, to present the blood sacrifices for the sins of the people. If the blood was acceptable, then the sins of the people were covered. If the blood were not acceptable, then the high priest would die on the spot. He would never return unto the people waiting outside. In fact, so many priests were dying that it became the practice to tie a rope around their legs before they entered, that upon their death the people could pull them out.
Christ is said to have already entered into the holiest of all, to present His blood sacrifice to God (Heb. 9:24) Clearly, Christ's blood was found acceptable to God. The question remains, however, "when did He emerge?" If Christ has not yet emerged, then not only is redemption not yet given, but God has not found His blood acceptable. In short, the terms of fulfillment were not met (Heb. 9:18-22), and the New Covenant is null and void - now.
The Futurist non-fulfillment model is especially grieving in light of the fact that the New Testament writers repeatedly declared that Christ was about to return to make his power known among the people then living. They were simply repeating the Words of Christ. Many Dispensationalists argue that Christ was telling them a half-truth about the imminency of His return, so that they would stay sober and vigilant. Teaching that Christ misled them, knowing that it would be thousands of years, imputes a gross sin upon our Saviour. Consider how America viewed Bill Clinton's attempts to influence public opinion by misleading his closest aides, knowing that they would repeat his lies.
The New Testament is filled with ample testimony that Christ was going to judge Israel quite soon. All the following passages are out of the Weymouth NT for emphasis on the Greek word Mello (3195), which means "about to" or "before long" :
In addition to these (and numerous other) Biblical texts, we also have the dying testimony of James the Just. He was taken to the top of the temple to publicly recant his position that Christ was about to return. After he spoke these words, he was martyred, being cast down to his death from the top of the Temple:
At some point, Christians must decide to either start pulling on the rope, or to look to the past for His declaration of the freedom from sin (Revelation 14:13-16; cf. I Thess. 4:16,17) and entrance into the kingdom (Matthew 25:21-34; cf. 16:27-28).
WHAT ABOUT TODAY?
There is often confusion regarding how the Preterist Christian views their place in the world today. The short answer is that we are all individually called to some unique aspect of the kingdom work here on earth.
My favorite strength of this view, though, is that it changes lives. It reveals that we now see God face to face (I Cor. 13:12). It reveals "that which is perfect" (I Cor. 13:10) to have come. The parousia (presence) of Christ is an intimate relationship between He and His bride. The eternal presence of Christ is "within" us, and that we walk in the presence of Christ at all times - composing as we do the collective body and temple of Christ. It seems that the knowledge of the perfect being here now inspires many to look inward, addressing spiritual shortcomings anew.
One shocking but solidifying change that is brought into the parousia-conscious Christian is the realization that they do, indeed, see God face to face. This can be extremely jarring, but we must remember that in His presence is fullness and joy. The first comment made by the angel of the Lord to the people in His presence was usually something like "fear not."
Recognize, instead instead of turning back, that you have been called to a life akin to that of the Crusaders of long ago - except that our battles are those against spiritual wickedness. We are involved in the total domination of the earth by the zeal of our King -- there is a lot for you to do! And all you have to do to find your role is to petition the Commander in chief -- He'll have you in the battlefield soon enough (allow months and years for spiritual training - like that of Saul/Paul), so be careful for what you ask!
Many testify of a closer relationship with God. One of the most common testimonies is that love for the Bible and the Lord is kindled like never before. Another common testimony is that through the Preterist viewpoint, one can begin to understand books like Hebrews, Numbers, Deuteronomy, etc. (In fact, most Christians have never read the whole Bible, limiting their ability to understand the Bible, as the NT is believed to be the explanation of the OT), let alone Revelation.
We are able to communicate with God as freely now as Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. We have full fellowship with God, so that we can do as the Israelites could not - call him Abba, Father. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they see God.
So… here I am. After four years of study, and three years of managing the website, I am convinced that Christians are making a big mistake by not being Bereans with respect to the Preterist issues. I am seeing quite a few who are, though. People and churches come to the same conclusions and convert in bold moves. The growth of Preteristic doctrine was displayed at the 1999 Ligonier Eschatology Conference, when Republican House Manager Charles Canaday addressed the crowd of 4000, winning three standing ovations.
Pastors from nearly every denomination (including Dispensationalism, myself included) have studied into, and accepted, Preterism. We also mustn't forget the already existing 1000s of partial Preterist churches. Major theologians are writing seriously about the view, and some are accepting it, including best-selling author R.C. Sproul (at least, we are now allowed into the realm of study – that is the whole battle, as the Bible teaches itself).
If Preterism has not completely taken the world by storm in the next few years, I will be surprised. According to the latest Dispensational interpretation of Matt. 24:34, the year 2007 is the end of the "generation" of people who saw the formation of Israel in Palestine in 1967. Perhaps the view will be given opportunity to be heard when that date comes and goes with nothing to show for it except a higher tide in the waters issuing from Ezekiel's Temple.
Thank you, again, for sending the critical materials. I am afraid that they were probably little help in helping you get a handle on the view, as Bob Ross always lives up to his reputation as a misrepresenter of others’ positions. That opinion crosses many denominational lines. I am a particular target of his, as he mentions my web site as "The ‘Rosetta Stone’ of Preterism" in his articles (I take that as a compliment). Few contemporary Preterists believe what he says they do, including that the Maccabees or Antioch Epiphanes had anything to do with the abomination of desolation, etc.
If you are ever interested in pursuing a discussion about this, or any other, matter, please feel free to write or call. I am always interested in charitable discussions. todd@preteristarchive
12 Nov 2001
I was brought up in the very heartland of dispensationalism in Plymouth Brethren. I read the bible from cover to cover from the age of 10. I searched their doctrines till often 4 am in the morning...searching for spiritual food. I was withdrawn from when I exposed their leader as an adulterer.. I had sworn evidence from 12 other leading members who of course had been withdrawn from. When they tossed me out physically to make me look silly..they said over their microphones you kick the devil out when his pants are full. They took my family away from me...i was left to the devil so to speak...only they would never take me back, If I was a pedophile not a problem...a thief they would take me back with open arms. You see dispensationalism provides enormous power to their leaders kick Christ upstairs out of the way to return at some future date, gives their leaders the only ones with access to Christ as their representatives the Pope must be surely a partial dispensationalist! Anyhow their Tower of Authority is like Babel, built of the slime of mans lust to dominate others, and made not of living stones but the clay of the ground, fired by the gospel of fear and condemnation in the bowels of their false god. I agree entirely with what you say, remember Jesus said my words are not mine but my Fathers...He must have known the Time table...He could not err in what He said.Stephen....Jsustinscifiction@aol.com
12 Nov 2001
Are you saying the resurrection has already taken place and the kingdom is here? (TDD-yes!)
04 Jan 2002
Hmmm, you've got an awful lot of hateful material here towards dispensationalists (as in your DD area). Yeah, your advancing the kingdom of God alright. firstname.lastname@example.org
[TDD: I don't believe that the hate you see is actually there. I certainly feel none. In fact, it seems to me that I've made a point of expressing that here in the article. Perhaps it is my opposition theologically that you consider hateful? Well, being a former Dispensationalist Pastor, I reserve the right to share my doctrinal disagreements publicly.]
19 Mar 2003
Thankyou for writing this article, it was a good read. Contrary to the perspective given by another reader who said commented,"Hmmm, you've got an awful lot of hateful material here towards dispensationalists;"... I personally find not an ounce of hateful material in your entire article. I have often been referred to by my own family as overly senstive, and easy to take offense where none is intended. That is a habit of character within me born of pride that I am ever in the process of overcoming in sanctification. But regardless I, someone overly senstive, find your article to be well written and devoid of malice. Thankyou for taking the time and effort to write it.
24 Apr 2003
I ended up being excommunicated from the council I used to be handcuffed to after I understood the exact meaning of the Word of God. I understood that my salvation is not a future event! Thus I was considered heretic. What a shame! that after 2000 years, having the priviledge to be revealed the true facts that took place just ecxactly as thr Lord said they would, you get spelled from your church. In other words, the cost of being lined up with the truth is to be considered evil. I have been reading this site for close to two years, and I have learned more from it than the entire period I spent "learning" by ways of biblical school. Even though I feel somewhat alone, for there are not preterists in Venezuela (Just a handfull spread all over 400.000sq miles), I find a great relief and refreshment when I read this powerful site. Thank you, and God bless you. My e-mail is email@example.com and my name is Pastor Luis Graterol.(please forgive my spelling)
02 Aug 2003
The one question I have always wanted to ask dispensationalists is, how can people who survive the tribulation live on the earth in the so-called "millenium" when, according to Matthew 24:29, immediately after the tribulation the sun will be darkened, the moon will not show light, and the stars will fall from heaven. For surely if the sun had not been shining for the past 1000 years everybody and everything would have been frozen, and it would have been impossible for the dispensationalists to voice their opinion.
05 Oct 2003
It is amazing what happens when one actually READS the Bible Berean-style... I too have a similar testimony to that of Todd Dennis and was fitted for a straight jacket by family, friends, and church. But in keeping with God's word, I have never before experience true oneness as I have now that all my concerns with dispensationalism (those things that make you go "hmmm?") have been settled throught the preterist view. I hope to continue to study so that I can explain preterism fully to my futurist friends. Thanks so much for all the hard work on this site. It is truly valuble to all of us who God has called back to the Truth. Come, Revival, Come.
07 Nov 2003
God came into my life back in May. I hadn't thought about Him in about 30 yrs. (I was a catholic in my youth). I was just sitting at my computer, going to xrated sites and playing online games for hours a day then working. I am 53 yrs and just retired. The day God came to me was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Before I knew it, I was crying, repenting, then grabbed a bible my daughter had given me a year before but collected dust. I must have read it thru it more than a few times in the past few months (I hadn't read a book in 20 yrs before this). I don't follow any doctrines, but the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Father, I prefer to be called "disciple of Christ". Anyway, a friend happened to ask me if I believed in the rapture. I asked her what rapture was that. She has been a dispensationist for at least a dozen yrs or more, and had prophecy books and movies she wanted me to read. Evidently, God didn't pull me to read them, I just read the bible and used the interned for bible study (I cast satan off it). Anyway, I am ready for when Jesus Christ does come and know He will protect those that are His, maybe even divinely as He did in the old testament a lot, so I am not worried. I was kind of studying revelation a bit, and assumed also it might be past tense on a lot of it, even the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. Tell me what you think about the 2 witnesses in chapter 11. I don't know if anyone else has had this interpretation or not, I have never seen it anywhere.
John is told to write what he has seen, what is now and what will happen later. All I know is, the destruction of Jeruselem and the temple (at beginning of chapt 11, John is told to measure it ,why?)was prophecied all thru the prophets and Jesus, (and it would happen to "that generation")so it was a pretty big event, that is why I kind of keyed on that period. He said it would be trampled by gentiles 42 months (same amount of time giving to beast from the sea chapt 13). And to write down "what is now", could be him witnessing the destruction of Jeruselem. THe apostles and desciples had already been warned by Jesus about it, but all this is being seen from Heaven now as it is happening, maybe.
John I think is describing here, (what he has seen), life, death, and ressurection of Christ, witnessed during his time as an apostle with Jesus?. John told to "come up here". He is in heaven with the Throne of God. God talking to him. Sending 2 witnesses for 3 and half years 2 olive trees and 2 lampstands ------------ 2 witnesses = Christ? prophet and law, Spirit and Word, (Son as prophet(Word), and Holy spirit)?. clothed in sackcloth (he was mourning for the people of Jeruselem at that time), prophecies 3 and half years. Has power do miralcles. Beast comes out of the abyss (apostate jeruselem leaders, beast seems to symbolize an anti-christ or persercutor of Christ's followers). Kills the 2 witnesses (romans and the jews crucify Christ?), bodies lay on "street" 3 and half days, do not suffer to put them in a tomb (burial) (body does not suffer decay as mortals do in burial, and the spirit and words can't be buried?). Rejoicing by romans and jews that kill Him, after 3 and half days, "God breaths life" in witnesses (Christ), He is resurected, and then is told to "come up here" and "went up to heaven on a cloud",( same as in Acts, after 40 days on earth and witnessed by 500 people?) enemies hear of resurrection, great fear, earthquake (could me riot or unrest or an actual earthquake, don't know) appeared killing multitudes, the rest gave glory to God. Next, "The 7th angel sounded his trumpet and loud voices in heaven said "The kingdoms of the world became our Lord's, even of His Christ; and He shall reign to the ages of the ages". (In chapter 10:7 it says: "when the days of the 7th trumpet is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished".) This is how I interpreted it or how God interpreted it to me, as I always pray before I read the bible, but it does seem to imply this. Maybe this might help a little in getting rid of that false rapture doctrine. It is making christians less strong in their faith with Christ I believe. God bless all of us and deliver us.
11 May 2004
Here is my question to you who believe in the preterit point of view.
The new heavens and the new earth is to be without sin in it. If we are living in the new heavens and the new earth then I would like to have know what the old one was like.
We are far from living in a place where the lion shall lie down by the lamp. Also beings that you believe in taking dominion on the earth ...how come I haven't heard more about you and tell what are you doing right now to bring about change. Or are you spending most of your time refuting the pre tribers. I would appreciated some hones answers. I believe in take the word of God at its face value....not adding my own opinion. Diana
[All great questions! There are great answers, as well. If you seek first the advancement of the Kingdom of God, our Messiah King will personally answer them all for you. If you wish to look elsewhere, look in history books. The last 2,000 years have seen a steady, if at times rocky, progression and development in every field. This trend will not only continue, but become more pronounced as more people jump on board for the long haul. If you wish to look at Scripture alone, you will find it overflowing with promises about our age. Isaiah 9:7, Dan 2:44 and many others show that the kingdoms of the world are being brought into submission to the Kingdom of God. If you think things are moving too slowly, again take it up with our Commander in Chief.
The new heavens and earth are for those in Christ. What resides inside of each believer in Christ is the fulness of the Kingdom of God. This makes our bodies the temples of God.]
25 May 2004
Why is it that you can only come up with 2 historians who wrote about the events surrounding the glorious return of Christ? Seems like it would have been kind of a big deal, no? What about the plagues, the beast, the antichrist, etc, etc? And THIS is the paradise we were promised after Christ's return? Ever watch the news?!?! Where are we in the timeline of Revelation? What about Satan being locked up for a thousand years? Did he get released in the dark ages, at around 1000 AD, to reign for a short time? There seems to be a thousand holes in your theory, given just a cursory examination of prophecies of the OT and NT. How do you explain them? I appreciate the tone of your article, but I am left with a great deal more questions than answers. I think maybe just a short explanation of some of the major prophecies that we "dispensationalists" don't believe have been fulfilled would be extremely helpful to your position. Like you, I'm interested in study to find the truth about why I believe what I believe, so I greatly appreciate and applaud you for taking the time to write this, and I pray that God will continue to reveal His truth to both of us.
25 Aug 2004
I agree with the 25 may, 2004 reply, What do you think ?
25 Aug 2004
No problem: "cursory examination" is the operative phrase. Any theory can be poked with holes before reading the literature or asking someone about it who knows. In fact, it seems that those less willing to "study heresy" are those more likely to reject it out of hand... but it is worthy of deeper examination. And those "two witnesses" you mention to the coming in the clouds are world famous historians, covering both the Jewish and Gentile worlds. Todd
15 Dec 2004
Excellent Article!! Thank you for sharing of your time and study in these matters. Many people see no other way to interpret the return of Jesus but literal due to the statement in Acts 1:11, including many preterist. Can you clarify the full preterist position on this verse?
31 Jan 2005
I just want to thank the Lord for giving me a hunger for the truth of His Word, as opposed to holding on to my particular biblical " tradition".Having said that,I find Preterism to be a refreshing drink of living water.I am 58 yrs.old and have been espousing Premillenial/Dispensationalism for at least 30 of those 58 yrs. Todd, your website is a blessing and I read your personal testimony that led you to the convictions that you hold to now and I must say " Amen" to your conclusions.I have been studying this hermenutic for only a year, and after reading Gary DeMar's ( Last Days Madness)even though he is a partial/preterist, you cannot deny the biblical conclusions that Preterism presents. I don't mean any disrespect towards any of my dispensational brothers and sisters,but the evidence seems to me to be overwhelming. Dr. Kenneth Gentry Jr's book ( Before Jerusalem Fell) concerns his premise that the book of Revelation was written prior to the fall of Jerusalem, pre 70 AD is a another reason to seriously look at this Pretristic Escatology. Thank you for the opportunity to give this testimony for our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ...............firstname.lastname@example.org ( Ralph DeGroat)
Date: 15 Jan 2006
Date: 14 May 2006
Date: 11 Oct 2006
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