Monday, July 23, 2012

Introduction to Preterism: The Book

I have been working on a book on Preterism for some time now. I'd like to share the introduction with my readers. There is more to the book, but this is just a taste of it so far.

Roderick Edwards spent 15 years within the Full or Hyper-Preterist movement. His writings while all online were very profuse and varied on topics many Preterist writers never thought to consider; such as the validity of pastors if indeed the Chief Shepherd came in AD70.

Edwards always held a strained relationship with many of the “leaders” within the movement because of his propensity to push the theory of Hyper-preterism to its logical conclusions.

In about 2007, Edwards officially renounced Hyper-preterism and began trying to undo some of the damage he has done. This has made him an enemy not only of the Hyper-preterists, but also of many of the so-called “Partial-Preterists” whom he points to as having aided in the advancement of Hyper-preterism.
This book will give the reader a clear, and honestly critical view not only of Hyper-preterism but of Preterism in general and how it is affecting and will affect Christianity in general.

ENDORSEMENTS:
“Roderick Edwards is the most vicious critic of Full Preterism to date” – Samuel Frost; ex-Hyper-Preterist circuit speaker.


INTRODUCTION


Humans have always had a fatalistic fascination with the idea of the end of the world; be it through the Bible, the Mayan Calendar or writings such as Nostradamus’ Quantrains. But what if the end is already past? What if the Bible’s depiction of an end-time apocalypse actually was meant to apply only to the first-century destruction of the Jewish “world” and not to the planet earth? This is what the theory of Preterism advocates. Preterism is a little known eighteenth-century theological view that was revived and expanded in the 1970s.
With the publishing of the book, The Spirit of Prophecy by Max King in 1970 Preterism was reintroduced under the name Covenant Eschatology. Since that time, and especially during the 1990s the view has been adopted in various forms and as various labels by many of the more popular Bible teachers such as; R.C. Sproul Sr. Hank Hanegraaff, David Chilton, Gary DeMar, Kenneth Gentry, Andrew Perriman and others.

TYPES OF PRETERISM


While all types of Preterism share some basic concepts such as a sort of first-century coming or return of Christ, it is extremely important to distinguish the differences.

  • Classic/Historical/Traditional Preterism
This type is often also labeled as “Partial-Preterism” since it does not take the preterist premises to a consistent conclusion. This is perhaps the most historically held type of preterism even before the term came into use. It purports that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple in the year A.D.70 almost entirely pertained as a validation that Jesus came back to judge the Jews as predicted in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21; otherwise known as the Olivet Discourse since the text of the speech was given by Jesus while He and the apostles were on the Mount of Olives. Typically, this type of preterism sees Jesus as yet to finally return and judge the entire world and sum up God’s plan for the world in general.

  • Full/Consistent/Fulfilled Preterism
This type is often also labeled as “Hyper-Preterism” since it takes the preterist premises beyond or over the traditional scope. This is perhaps the most aggressive kind of preterism held today. Most preterist websites will explicitly or implicitly advocate this form of preterism. It proposes that a consistently held view of fulfillment of the Olivet Discourse must lead the person to understand all the attending prophecies have been also fulfilled; such as the Great Commission, the Resurrection of the believers, and the end of sin. It also would advocate that the Bible doesn’t speak of a third coming of Jesus.

DEFINING THE TERMS


As with any categorically specific discussion, be it football, politics, or theology the participant should have a basic knowledge of the terms utilized. It is probably more important in the case of Preterism because:
1. Preterism is a relatively newly developing area of theology.
2. The opposing parties within and outside of Preterism will use the same term in different ways.
3. There may be a little intentional redefinition and revisionism going on.
I will present these terms in ideological relevance to each other. If you need to see them alphabetic order, please utilize the index.

  • Futurism/Futurist
Futurism as most Preterist’s use the term refers to the beliefs of any Christian that hold that parts of New Testament prophecy as yet to be fulfilled in the future; especially the Olivet Discourse. A person who holds to this view is called a Futurist. Typically people so labeled often also hold to a Dispensational view however anyone who sees parts of the New Testament as yet future may be so labeled.

  • Olivet Discourse
The combined texts of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21; the different versions of the same account of Jesus’ interaction with the apostles while on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem.

  • Imminency
The idea of impending, soon, or an about to occur event. Within Preterism, often used to describe verses that appear to speak of a prophecy that would be fulfilled in a short time, before or at the year A.D. 70.

  • Time-Texts/Time Indicators
Specific verses within the Bible that appear to indicate the timeframe of the events related.

  • Parousia [puh-roo-zee-uh, -see-uh, pahr-oo-see-uh]
The Greek word often used in the Bible to indicate “coming” or return; especially as specifically associate with Jesus’ so-called Second Coming. Also may be referring to the 19th century book by James Stuart Russell which many preterists consider a defining work of the theology.

  • Eschatology/Eschaton
Eschatology is the study of “end times” concepts, whereas Eschaton typically refers to the combined events of the “end times”.

  • Resurrection
In general, a time when the collective Christian community is either transformed into Christ-likeness or more historically a time when they are made alive again; especially with heaven as their residence. Resurrection can refer specifically to Jesus’ personal resurrection after being buried in a tomb.

  • Rapture
A time when a collective group of Christians “meet Jesus in the air” as they are being conveyed to heaven. This view was not widely believed until the 19th century with the rise of the theology of Dispensationalism. Most Preterists of all types would not advocate for this concept, however there is a small yet historic faction that claims there was a first-century Rapture.

  • Immortal Body at Death (IBD)
View that the Christian obtains an immortal body at the moment of death as entry into heaven. This view has been historically held by various forms of Christianity while other forms require a type of “soul-sleep” or limbo-state until the final Judgment at some future time. Most types of Preterist hold this view of the nature of death.

  • Immortal Body Now (IBN)
View that the Christian obtains as immortal body immediately at conversion and even though the physical casing of the body may be cast off, the immortal body simply continues to exist in a state of further awareness after physical death. Views similar to this have been espoused by Gnostics throughout history.

  • Corporate Body View (CBV)
CBV as perhaps originally espoused by Max King envisions a corporate or collective resurrection. Further, as espoused by King; the resurrection was more about the "bringing to life" the "New Israel" out of the dead "covenant Israel". Plainly, it is about the resurrection of Israel into Christianity.

  • Great Commission
The command by Jesus for the apostles or Christians in general to spread the Gospel to the entire world. Per historical views, this effort will satisfactorily be completed sometime in the future. Most Preterists will claim this effort was completed before the year A.D. 70 and that what remains is for people to simply accept or reject.

  • Abomination of Desolation
A specific event that is supposed to be a precursor indicator that the events described in the Olivet Discourse are about to occur. Typically the Abomination of Desolation has been dually interpreted as some sort of defacing or destruction of the most holies place within the Jewish Temple. This is why some non-Preterists believe there must be a future built temple in Jerusalem so that the Abomination of Desolation can occur. Preterists have various ascribed the event to the general desecration of the Jewish temple by the Romans in the first-century to the Jewish zealots defacing the temple and plundering its utensils during the first-century revolt.

  • Herodian Temple/Jewish Temple/Second Temple
The temple constructed in Jerusalem between the years 516 B.C. and A.D. 70 and so called after the Roman client king of Judea; Herod who spent from approximately 19 B.C. to A.D. 70 renovating the temple.

  • Temple Mount
The area or foundation where the main part of the original and Second Temple was built. There is dispute as to where this may actually be; with most people assuming it is the area around and immediately under the Muslim structure called the Dome of the Rock.

  • New Heavens and Earth (NHE)
Traditionally, a reconstituted earth and sky which will replace the present earth and sky sometime in the future. Theologically, even outside of Preterism this has also been considered a symbolism for the state of heavenly residence where Christians presently reside and will reside after physical death. Further, and as detailed within some forms of Preterism this is equated to the physical Jewish temple which was considered the center of earth and footstool of heaven; thus Christians now worship God not in a temple made with hands but in a spiritual New Heavens and Earth.

  • New Jerusalem (NJ)
Traditionally a city which actually or spiritually descends from heaven and will be inhabited by the saints. More generally, this is the invisible habitation of Christians even now as they live within the framework of Christianity. Preterists may view New Jerusalem as something akin to the latter.

  • Already-Not-Yet
This is the concept that prophecies can often have present, past, and yet future sense. An example of this may be when Jesus tells Martha in John 11:25 that people have life/resurrection even before and if they were to physically die. He said this before the year A.D. 70 and yet the apostles continued to teach a future resurrection.

  • Sin-Death
Notion that the death that came to Adam and Eve was not primarily or sometimes at all pertaining to physical death but merely the relational separation between man and God. Thus, it is said that the end of sin and death is simply the relational restoration between God and man and does not require the actual reconstitution or physical resurrection of humans into heaven.

  • Covenant Eschatology/Fulfilled Eschatology/Fulfilled View/Pantelism
Other terms relating to the type of Preterism most associated with Full or Hyper-Preterism. Covenant Eschatology is the term used mainly by those associated with the “churches of Christ” and Max King.

HISTORY OF PRETERISM


The history of preterism is a difficult thing to nail down since we really can’t point to an individual person that is responsible for this point of view. To be sure, there are many who claim they are “founders” of views, including forms of Preterism, but reality is often a different story.
So, our course will be to try to determine the first use of the word in a theologically systematic sense. This doesn’t tell us who founded the view but merely who may have began to uniquely define it.
What makes our effort even more difficult is the historical revisionism that I know first-hand has happened. For example, the online open-source encyclopedia; Wikipedia.org entry on Preterism is untrustworthy since one of the main contributors actually threatened to sue Wikipedia unless it let him define the term. This is the same fellow who also attempted to trademark the words preterist and preterism. (&) Sifting through that kind of bias is no easy task.

The Roman Catholic Connection


Of all the possible origins, the most historically credible is the theory that Preterism and Futurism were a two-pronged approach to disrupt the Protestant accusation that Rome and Pope specifically were the antichrist. The Preterist interpretation would place so much in the past that if embraced, the prophecies could not be applied to Rome. The Futurist interpretation would place so much in the future that Rome could at least postpone being equated to prophecies.

It is thought that Roman Catholic Preterist interpretation originated with Spanish Jesuit, Luis De Alcazar (1554-1613) in his nearly 900 page book; Investigation of the Hidden Sense of the Apocalypse. The “futurist” concept is thought to have been introduced by Francisco Ribera (1537-1591), a Jesuit doctor of theology via his book;In Sacrum Beati Ioannis Apostoli, & Evangelistiae Apocalypsin Commentarij. (see: http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/antichrist.htm )

Whether it is accepted that preterism was engineered by the Roman Catholic Church, one thing that can be seen is that the modern concept of preterism isn’t really found within Christianity before the 15-16th century and more fully in the mid to late 1800s.

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