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Particulars of Christianity:
313 Preterism

Preterism Part 1: The Basics and Partial Preterism

Preterism Part 1: The Basics and Partial Preterism
Preterism Part 2: Olivet and the Transcendent "You"
Preterism Part 3: The Remaining "Proof Texts"
Preterism Part 4: Appealing to Josephus
Preterism Part 5: Uninterrupted Futurism into 2nd Century
Preterism Part 6: Nero, History, and Biblical Details
Preterism Part 7: Scripture and a Delayed Coming
Preterism Part 8: Brief Summary of Conclusions
Behold I Come Quickly
Things Which Must Shortly Come to Pass
When Was Revelation Written?
A Throne of His Own

Addendum: "The Time Is At Hand"

The first question in this study of Preterism is "what is Preterism?" In short, Preterism is the theory that all (or most) of the events prophesied in the New Testament (including those in Revelation) were fulfilled in the past, specifically in 70 AD. The idea is that with the Roman siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple, New Testament prophecies were fulfilled.

Additionally, because of their belief that New Testament prophecy has been fulfilled in the distant past, Preterists typically reject any Biblical basis for knowing when Jesus will come. It could be this year or it could be in 4000 years. Biblically speaking, we have no way to know.

Before we get too far, we should do some vocabulary.

Futurist - the events prophesied in the New Testament are in the future (perhaps having some partial fulfillment in past events) with notable the exception of the siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple which occurred in 70 AD.

Preterist - the events prophesied in the New Testament were fulfilled by 70 AD.
Full/Consistent Preterists believe this includes all prophecies even Jesus second advent, which they claim happened in 70 AD.
Partial/Moderate Preterists believe that Christ's second advent was not fulfilled in 70 AD (and may also exclude other selective prophetic events as well.)

Amillennialism - the doctrine of no "earthly" millennial reign, or no "earthly" 1000 year reign. It identifies the belief that Christ established His Kingdom by His Death, Resurrection, and ascension to the throne of God in heaven, and thus that the kingdom of God is now being extended throughout the world through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. this doctrine does not hold that Christ must come to a worldly throne in earthly Jerusalem. Rather, it teaches that Christ reigns now and that after this present kingdom reign is over, Christ will return in judgment of the quick and the dead.

Postmillennialism - the belief that the kingdom of God is now being extended throughout the world through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. In this respect only is it similar to historic Amillennialism. But in contrast to Amillennialism, the belief is that the world will eventually become Christianized, and that the Millennium (1000 years) is this golden age or period of righteousness, peace, and prosperity on earth. Post-millennial, meaning that they believe Christ comes "after" this golden age or millennial period.

Premillennialism - the doctrine that sometime in the future Christ will return to establish a literal political and earthly Kingdom in Jerusalem and will reign 1000 years on earth. Pre-millennial, meaning that Christ comes to establish this Kingdom pre or "before" the millennium.

There is much room for crossover between Amillennialism and Postmillennialism. And because of this, Preterists may consider themselves members of either camp. Because of the intricacies of Preterist doctrine, it is difficult for Preterists to accept a literal return of Christ to the earth FOLLOWED BY a literal 1000-year reign here (i.e. Premillennialism.)

For Full Preterists, Premillennialism is impossible because they believe the second advent occurred in 70 AD and we know that no literal 1000-year reign followed. If we imagine one did, then we are now living almost 1000 years post-millennially into eternity. For Partial Preterists, Premillenialism is possible but unlikely. For the same reasons they reject a future fulfillment of most New Testament prophecy, they are likely to reject any literal 1000-year reign of Christ on earth.

Now, we will briefly turn our attention to the internal debate among Preterists. The central issue of the entire Preterism/Futurism debate is summed up in the phrase "parousia delay." Parousia is originally a Greek word (Strong's #3952) and refers to "a coming" of Christ. In the case of this debate, parousia refers specifically to the second coming of Christ.

What Preterists are chiefly concerned with is the Futurist notion that this second coming was "delayed." In other words, Futurists believe that the second coming of Christ did not occur by approximately 70 AD and has not occurred in the nearly 2000 years since then. Futurists place this second coming in our future.

Full Preterists believe that the texts of the Gospel prophecies, particularly those found in the Olivet discourse, require this second coming to occur before the passing away of that first century generation.

However, Full Preterists also place the accomplishment of all the Olivet prophecies by 70 AD. But why?

The statements denoting the timeframe of fulfillment come at the end of the Olivet prophecies. When Jesus says in Matthew 24:34 that "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled," he says so after he has listed all the coming events. Notice the word "all" in that passage. It designates that "all" of the prophecies Jesus has just described must occur within the timeframe he is prescribing.

So, Full Preterists logically and correctly deduce that the Biblically prescribed timeframe must apply to ALL of the aforementioned prophesied events. And included in this list of events is Christ's prediction of his second coming. Since Preterists assume that the timeframe is before the passing of that first generation, they correctly assert this would require ALL of the events including the second coming to occur in that timeframe.

Here is where Partial Preterists part company with Full Preterists. Partial Preterists believe that such events as the second coming as well as the resurrection of the dead and gathering together of the elect which accompany it have NOT yet occurred in history. Unlike Full Preterists, Partial Preterists place these things in the future.

The problem with Partial Preterism is this. By definition Partial Preterism denies the Full Preterist claim that the second coming also had to occur in that first generation. By placing the second coming in the future they accept that at least one of the events prophesied in the Olivet discourse did NOT occur by the time that first generation passed away. In doing so, they negate that the timeframe statements (such as the one found in Matthew 24:34) require the preceding, prophesied events to occur by 70 AD. By allowing one of those prophesied events to remain unbound by the 70 AD deadline, Partial Preterists actually allow all of the rest of the listed events to be delayed as well.

The fact is Partial Preterists deny the timeframe requirements and negate their own proof text. For this reason, Partial Preterism is a self-contradicting theory. It looks at timeframe references such as those found in the Olivet discourse and says, "Aha, these events must happen by 70 AD." Then it turns around and negates that very timeframe by placing one of those events (the second coming) in the future, thousands of years after the very deadline set by their own proof texts.

The only alternative is for Partial Preterists to hypothesize that there are two second comings (for a total of three comings.) The first second coming they place in 70 AD with the destruction of the Temple as a sign of Christ's judgment. And the second second coming they place in the future when Christ will again return and gather the elect and resurrect the dead.

Preterists also hypothesize that all of the New Testament books were written prior to 70 AD, including the book of Revelation. This is essential to their theory because if prophetic texts such as Revelation or II Thessalonians 2 were written after 70 AD, then they could no longer assert that prophecies concerning such things as the antichrist and the mark of the beast took place by 70 AD.

But, if the entire New Testament including Revelation was written prior to 70 AD, then one wonders why Partial Preterists think there will be another second coming? Since according to their hypothesis, all of the prophecies in the New Testament concerning a second coming would have been written before the first second coming, what reason would they have for assuming that ALL these prophecies and commentaries weren't fulfilled by that first second coming? Given their premise that all scripture was written before 70 AD, what would be their Biblical basis for assuming there is a second second coming?

None. The idea of two second comings is entirely ridiculous and superfluous. It is unbiblical and it is based on circular reasoning. Partial Preterists are simply trying to assume the existence of something their theory needs to survive. It is as if we assumed the existence of purple unicorns because otherwise our theory about the universe being ruled by a magic purple unicorn would be obviously wrong. If there are no purple unicorns, our theory would fall apart. So we assume they MUST exist. The same is true for Partial Preterism and its theory of two second comings. The additional second coming is nothing more than a purple unicorn.

Having demonstrated the invalidity of Partial Preterism, we will now move on to disproving Full Preterism. From this point forward in our study, Full Preterism will be refered to simply as Preterism. However, as it will become apparent, most (if not all) of the following criticisms will apply equally to Partial Preterism as well.