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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Full Preterism & Historic Eschatology

by QuantumGreg (Greg Kiser)

Eschatology is a touchy subject. Christians differ the greatest on this one subject. But there are at least 4 things in this category that every Christian (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox) for 2000 years have agreed 100% upon.

1. The future bodily coming of Jesus Christ

2. The future bodily resurrection of the just & the unjust

3. The future universal judgment

4. The future coming of the New Heaven & New Earth

Also, all Christians, no matter what, end up in the same place: A New Heaven & Earth ruling with Jesus Christ forever in immortal glorified resurrected bodies.

Though I've learned not to be too dogmatic about this one subject, full preterism (FP), both versions of it (IBV - Individual Body View; CBV - Covenant Body View) distort every fundamental doctrine called "Christian" in the last 2000 years, even the very nature of the person of Jesus Christ.

FP should give any thinking Christian pause. And it does, the first time it is mentioned. When a FP walks up to any Christian and says, "The Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Great White Throne Judgment, the resurrection of the dead, the final defeat of death, all happened in AD 70, and we are currently living in the New Heavens and New Earth," that Christian will stare in wonder that such a radical idiotic statement could be even considered to be true. The very first reaction is always, "What the...?!"

To become an FP and remain one, you must give up traditional Christianity and God's sovereignty and it will dramatically affect your life and what you think of sin, death, hell, the grave, and even the person of Jesus Christ.

As Roderick Edwards writes in his book About Preterism, "...we are challenging preterism at the heart of its argument; that God is or isn't in control." In other words, accepting FP's tenets requires one to believe that somehow by some means God failed to relate His eschatological plan clear enough, or failed to preserve it, or really didn't intend on anyone understanding His plan until FPs came along nearly 2000 years later. That alone should sober you up!

As a former FP of 15+ years myself, I often get asked, "What do you believe about the future now?" In many years of being a Christian (accepted Christ when I was 6 years old; I'm now 59), I've been all over the board on eschatology. I was raised in a Reformed Baptist church which just believed in the 4 things above. Then I got into Hal Lindsey books and believed and taught pre-wrath rapture, premillennial dispensationalism. After seeing all these predictions fail, I became disheartened with eschatologies. And, like most, at just the right time, in steps some form of preterism to rescue me from dispensationalism. 

First I experienced what may be deemed as orthodox preterism, which believes the above 4 things but also teaches many things like the first 34 verses of Matthew 24 pertain to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Some orthodox preterists also believe that most of the book of Revelation was fulfilled in the events of AD 66-70 in the Roman-Jewish war. This was persuasive to me. But eventually, with the aid of other FPs, I came to see orthodox preterism as "inconsistent" when dealing with the so-called "time statements."

To make a long story short, FP led me to despair and darkness. Jesus rescued me out of it. Many folks saw me go through this and thus the question, "What do you believe now?"

So I've studied this incredibly popular and interesting subject my whole life and am still doing so. Obviously, many things about this subject are mysterious as Christians all throughout history have been also all over the board on the specifics. The things that all Christians throughout all the 2000 years of church history have agreed upon (Roman Catholic, Protestant, & Eastern Orthodox) are mentioned above. These are depicted clearly in every writing, creed, and council. Though we, as Christians, have a greatly varied opinion on the details and schemes, we all end up in the exact same place in 100% agreement as I've already mentioned.

But let's look at the heart of this argument in history and highlight the four agreement points mentioned above:

The Apostle's Creed (circa AD 120-250) states:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty; Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. 

The Nicene Creed (AD 381) states:

We believe in one God, Maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made; of the same essence as the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven; He became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary and was made human. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried. The third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will never end. And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. He proceeds from the Father, and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified. He spoke through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and to life in the world to come. Amen.

The Athanasian Creed (circa AD 500) states: 
...The Son suffered for our salvation; He descended to hell; He arose from the dead; He ascended to heaven; He is seated at the Father's right hand; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. At His coming all people will arise bodily and give an accounting of their own deeds. Those who have done good will enter eternal life, and those who have done evil will enter eternal fire. This is the catholic faith: one cannot be saved without believing it firmly and faithfully.
These are universal (ecumenical) truths. But how do we get there? What is going on now? This is where historical Christian agreement ends and diversity within the bounds of orthodoxy begins. And that last statement is important to keep in mind. Why? Because the FP couldn't care less about staying "within the bounds of orthodoxy." In fact, FP brags about being unique. It appeals to one's pride. Usually, to defend its novelty, FPs will appeal to something like, "This is a new reformation," or "We're part of God's new move toward consistency in eschatology," or the more radical, "I couldn't care less what anyone in history has believed. This is what the Bible teaches!"

But seriously consider those thoughts, and the following questions: Would God, who revealed the whole truth to the apostles, somehow leave off one of the most important things like the Second Coming of Christ? Would the apostles fail in their attempt to teach their immediate followers these truths? Could the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the Great White Throne Judgment, the final defeat of death, the coming of the New Heavens and the New Earth actually have happened in AD 70 and not a single historical source, Christian or secular, see it or give witness to it, or write about it? Either none of the early Christians who lived through AD 70 (e.g. Clement) understood Christianity, or they are false teachers and liars. But not only they, but every Christian in the last 2000 years missed this as well. I mean, really? Every Christian trying their best to follow the Holy Spirit and the Scripture missed it? Millions of them? For 2000 years? Until you came along and picked up a Bible and said, "Well, full preterism is so simple. It just falls out of the Scriptures when you read them!"

So, having studied the various beliefs I have learned not to be too dogmatic about these things. I am content to not go too much further than the above 3 ecumenical creeds and the 4 points of agreement mentioned above. In fact, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I am content to call myself a Psalm 110-ist. Is this unique? No, not at all. I suppose, when I present it, it sounds either like amillennialism or a form of traditional postmillennialism. But, believe me, I've had enough of novel interpretations for one lifetime. My goal is not to state something new, but rather establish something very simple.

Jesus is currently at the right hand of God according to the above. Scripture says:

Romans 8

34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

What is He doing at the right hand of God? Interceding for us. But why has He not returned to earth yet?

Psalm 110

1 The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool."

If you read no further, there you have it. Jesus is going to sit at God's right hand until God makes all His enemies His footstool. In calling myself a Psalm 110-ist, that is all I mean. That one concept. Nothing more. Of course, the entire Psalm 110 depicts more detail of what His reign of putting down His enemies looks like. But that's not my purpose here.

But there is more witness to this one concept:

Acts 3

19 "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.

 Hebrews 10

11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man [Jesus Christ], after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.

A few more clarify that Jesus is waiting at the right hand of God waiting for His enemies to become His footstool, and then at that point, He will return, on one appointed day, and put the last enemy, which is death, under His feet via the resurrection of the just and the unjust.

Acts 17

30 "The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked. But now He commands that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained; of which He has given assurance to all men, in that He has raised Him from the dead."

Acts 24

14 "But this I confess to you, that after the Way, which they call a sect, so I serve the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the law, and which are written in the prophets; 15 having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust."

1Corinthians 15

25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.

Thus, obviously, Jesus is reigning right now from the right hand of God, actively putting down His enemies. What kind of person reigns? A king, of course. Jesus is king now. He's not going to become king in some future millennial kingdom; He's king right now. He is seated on David's throne right now. And He will come bodily and reign on earth in the future as well.

Acts 2

29 "Brothers, I may tell you freely of the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was His soul left in Hades, nor did His flesh see decay. 32 This Jesus God raised up, to which we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted by the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this, which you now see and hear. 34 For David didn't ascend into the heavens, but he says himself, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit by my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."' 36 let all the house of Israel therefore know certainly that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."

Are we, therefore, waiting on a secret rapture? No, I do not see this. But rather we are the means, as the Body of Christ, by which the Head, Christ HImself, is putting all His enemies under His feet. Why else are we exhorted by Jesus to pray, "as in heaven, so on earth"? (see Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2). He is reigning right now as King (Lord & Messiah) on the throne of David at the right hand of God. And He will return after all His enemies are made His footstool, and then personally put the last enemy down, which is death, via the resurrection of the dead. Then the New Heavens and New Earth will come and we will reign forever with Him on a New Earth under a New Heavens in our glorified, immortal, resurrected bodies.

For me, part of participating in the putting down of His enemies is not only saving the lost but getting the sick healed. Sickness is incipient death, which is God's enemy. And healing of physical sickness is a taste of the full redemption of our bodies in the resurrection to come. How do I know this? Jesus, when He walked the earth, forgave sins based on His [then] coming atonement on the cross. It is the atonement that bought forgiveness of our sins. Jesus, when He walked the earth, also healed sickness based on His [then] coming atonement on the cross. It is the atonement that also bought redemption of our bodies. "Salvation" in the Bible is not about "going to heaven." It is about saving every aspect of mankind. Everything. It is holistic. It is not focused on just the spiritual. Physical redemption is part of the atonement as is shown here:

Matthew 8

16 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses." [quoting Isaiah 53:4]

3 comments:

  1. So you still believe we are waiting for the second coming? All Prophecies had already been fulfilled. It's over with..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All prophecies have not bee fulfilled. Death, rape, injustice, racism, terrorism, wars, in fact, sin in all its gross forms, has not been finally defeated. Death is God's enemy, not His good buddy.

      Delete

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