Stephen Whitsett BA
The Nicene Creed was created by the first ecumenical council, which met in Nicene in the year 325. A main tenant of the Creed states, “From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead”. The founding fathers in their wisdom and understanding all believed in a future coming of Christ. By 390 another statement was added to the creed, “the resurrection of the body,” this version became known as the Apostle’s Creed, or simply put, “what the apostles believed and passed down” as understood by the church.
The creeds were formed to combat “heresy” from many sources. Each tenant was based on the agreed understanding of what scriptures teach as a condensing to establish what do Christians believe that makes them Christian, and not from a heretical sect.
Through the writings of the early church fathers we know they also believed 70AD was judgment on Israel as fulfillment of prophecy. (Praeter, past fulfillment) As a whole the “Christian” church has accepted that judgment on Israel came for the second time in 70 AD but Christ has not returned and is still waiting for the “resurrection of the dead” to take place even after 2000 years.
As people studied and attempted to understand the Bible, specifically Revelation, views were formed to explain fulfillment of the book in an attempt to understand Eschatology (Last day’s events). In these views the Roman Catholic Church was then identified as the “harlot” who partnered with the “beast and false Prophet” mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
There has historically been general agreement with non-preterists that the first systematic
Preterist exposition of prophecy was written by the Jesuit Luis de Alcasar during the Counter Reformation. Moses Stuart noted that Alcasar's
Preterist interpretation was of considerable benefit to the Roman Catholic Church during its arguments with Protestants, and preterism has been described in modern eschatological commentary as a Catholic defense against the Protestant Historicist view which identified the Roman Catholic Church as a persecuting apostasy. Yet the Catholic Church never recanted or denounced the Apostles creed and continued to use it as part of the liturgy.
Due to resistance by Protestant Historicists, the
Preterist view was slow to gain acceptance outside the Roman Catholic Church. Among Protestants it was first accepted by Hugo Grotius, a Dutch Protestant eager to establish common ground between Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church. His first attempt to do this was entitled ‘Commentary on Certain Texts Which Deal with Antichrist’ (1640), in which he attempted to argue that the texts relating to Antichrist had their fulfillment in the 1st century AD. This was not well received by Protestants, but Grotius was undeterred and in his next work, ‘Commentaries on the New Testament' (1641–50), he expanded his
Preterist views to include the Olivet prophecy and Revelation.
In 1878 James Stuart Russell M.A., D.Div., (1816 – 1895) wrote the book “the Parousia: A Critical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord's Second Coming. A second edition followed in 1887. This catapulted into Christians circles the idea of “Preterism”. By the end of the 18th century
Preterist exposition had gradually become more widespread. The first full
Preterist exposition was finally written in 1730 by the Protestant and Arian, Frenchman Firmin Abauzit (‘Essai sur l'Apocalypse’), who worked in then independent Republic of Geneva as a librarian. This was part of a growing development of more systematic
Preterist expositions of Revelation. Later, though, it appears that Abauzit recanted this approach after a critical examination by his English translator, Dr. Twells.
The earliest American full
Preterist work was 'The Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ: A Past Event', which was written in 1845 by Robert Townley. Townley later recanted this view.
In the last 60 years the growth and development of Full Preterism has been attained by men of reputation through books and in these days through the internet and is consistently fraught with issues by those who once embraced the view and now renounce it as heresy.
The “heresy” charge come on the heels of the denial of the Apostles creed, not all aspects but any declaration of his return and the future resurrection of the dead as being “fulfilled” and the denial of the present “incarnation of Christ” in that Christ no longer has a “flesh body”.
Preterists affirm: All prophecy was fulfilled by 70 AD.
There is no future return of Christ, Millennium, Great White Throne Judgment, or a New Heaven and Earth to come, it all happened in or by 70 AD.
Negative: The Christian church has been mislead for two thousand years based on misinterpretation of scriptures.
Middleism Affirms: All prophecy concerning Christ and the “days of vengeance” on Israel was fulfilled by 70 AD. There is still a future return of Christ, and fulfillment of the Millennium, Great White Throne Judgment, and a New Heaven and Earth to come.
Negative: Preterism redefines the nature of the events through distorted hermeneutics to provide proof of fulfillment as being spiritual in nature not physical. A rewrapping of Gnostic heresy.
In explaining “why” the Christian church has “missed the mark” Max King offers this explanation;
"A weakness of a lot of biblical eschatology is the tendency to ignore the time element of a prophecy simply because the historical events of that predicted time do not match our concept of what was to take place. It is more likely, however, that our concept is wrong, rather than the timing of the prophecy." -- Max R. King.
The justification of full preterism is centered on time text, namely Mathew 24.34 “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place”. All things then spoken of in Mathew 24 – 25 as part of the “Olivet Discourse” then must take place, The destruction of Jerusalem, the return, and the final judgment.
Preterist then builds their doctrine on the literalness of the time statements, “Coming quickly”, “soon”, “last days”, “day of the Lord”, “end of the world” and “at Hand”. They further bolster their argument on several specific texts.
“When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes”. Mathew 10.23
“For these are days of vengeance, to
fulfill all that is written.” Luke 21.22
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Mathew 5.17-18
From the cursory reading “all” things then must happen. It’s their charge against the “church” that we have ignored these time statements or twisted their meaning as if they do not apply to the first century believer only. In essence declaring Christ a liar when he said it would all happen in that generation.
The nature or concepts then of each of these events are then redeveloped through Revelation and other scriptures, and justified by new ”hermeneutic that enforces a wooden literal application of “audience relevance”.
Since we and they know from the common literal understanding of these events in how the Christian church defines these events as literal, visible, and verifiable events, we know they did not happen in or by 70 AD. There is no historical documentation for fulfillment of these events outside of the destruction of Jerusalem.
To solve the problem then we must go to the methods of Interpretation
method of interpretation is dangerous if it perverts the true meaning of
scripture, and of course the ultimate test as to whether the true
meaning of scripture has been ascertained, will be in the field of
harmony and consistency. Any principle of interpretation that fails to
advance harmony of thought and purpose in every related field of study
must be considered as false. God’s eternal purpose is so constituted and
unfolded in the scriptures, that the only right method of interpretation
can be advanced entirely free of contradiction, inconsistency, or
disharmony. The right method will not only meet the demands of the
immediate scripture or context, but also of every related scripture or
context." -- Max R. King
The Christian church, having established the accepted eschatology, is beset by preterists who have issued their challenge. The Christian church then must give answer to the charge laid against her.
"Christians now realize that both comings of Jesus Christ took place in the same generation. They can see this truth in the Scriptures. The modern
Preterist movement is of God. Not since the days of Martin Luther have we seen such a turning back of spiritual darkness. It is a time of awakening… Preterism has an enormous job in pushing back the darkness of entrenched futurism; it’s an uphill struggle, but it will succeed because it is of God… We’re dealing with two types of people when we consider the adherents to these diabolical doctrines: 1. Real Christians who are babes, immature, or generally not Christ-centered in their understanding of the Bible. 2. Wolves (unconverted religionists) in sheep’s clothing who desire to eat up the true sheep and scatter the rest of the flock. (Acts 20:29-30O) Ed Stevens Preterist.org
Giving an orthodox apologetic answer for Eschatology