Sunday, February 2, 2014

What The Church Believes About the End Times

This very important article was prompted by an impassioned plea for help. A commenter going by the name of JG wrote on Jan 29, 2014 --

"...where can I find out more about what the church has believed about the end times? I mean, true, orthodox beliefs. I guess I'm desperate, I feel trapped in something that I don't want to believe but cannot find a way out when it comes to my understanding of how the Scriptures fit together." -- source
It is heart breaking that I can't just point to some instant remedy. The reason I cannot is because Full/Hyperpreterism slowly and methodically overtakes a person. I mean, when you compare the Full/Hyperpreterist interpretation of Mt 24 / Mark 13 / Lk 21 to the Left Behind/Dispensational interpretation; YES, it does sound very "logical" and correct. There seems no way to get out of what seems like the logical conclusion. After all, those texts do speak to the 1st century audience. Those texts do clearly indicate a soon/about to be/shortly/at hand coming of Christ. There really is no way to stretch those texts into the future.

So, to the commenter's desperate plea,


First, a couple of things we have to "undo".
There IS a universal Church. Full/Hyperpreterists often try to say that there has been no unity on XYZ, when the FACT is, whether we look at pre-Roman Catholicism, Greek Orothodox, Roman Catholicism, Protestant/Reformed, Anabaptist, or modern Evangelical -- ALL of these expressions of historical Christianity were in 100% agreement on 4 eschatological points:

1. Jesus is yet to return (note: coming is not same as return).
2. Resurrection of collective saints is yet to be
3. Judgment of wicked and righteous is yet to be.
4. End of sin and culmination of God's plan is yet to be.

When this is pointed out, Full/Hyperpreterists brush it off as insignificant and instead want to talk about the variation about the Antichrist, the millennium and whatever thing they can to distract you from the facts.

The next thing to "undo" is the notion that what Left Behinders have taught the last 200 years is the typical Christian interpretation of the Olivet Discourse -- Mt 24/Mark 13/Lk 21 -- it is not, as we'll see in a moment.

Lastly, be wary of trying to replace one "ism" with another "ism".  There are many so-called "former Full Preterists" out there that are offering alternatives to Full Preterism but they end up being simply Full Preterist lite.


It is not too difficult to find commentaries on the Olivet Discourse that shows the Church has consistently believed and taught that those verses mainly speak of the calamity that befell the Herodian Temple in the year AD70.  However, they do not conclude falsely as the Full Preterist does that everything else goes along with that.  I want to source the information. By the way, the commenter says he has been reading Donald Perry's personalized "alternative" to Full Preterism. I mean not to disparage Mr. Perry. It is good he is trying to escape the trap of Full Preterism, but if you look at his book, you will notice it virtually has no endnotes or footnotes -- no source. His comments are merely his own private interpretation. I do NOT want to do that to the reader here. Please take time to look at the sources I am providing. What I am saying on this site is not my personal opinion. It is the belief and teaching of the Church as a collective.

Let's go backward in our references, with the most recent to the oldest. In this case, since America was predominately a "Calvinistic" creation, in that the "Puritans" would came to America were Calvinistic and brought with them, not the KJV Bible but rather the Geneva Bible, let us look at the notes in the Geneva Bible for the Olivet Discourse.


Perhaps the commentary for verse 22 sums the Geneva position up the most:

"Those things which befell the people of the Jews in the thirty-four years, when the whole land was wasted, and at length the city of Jerusalem was taken, and both it and their temple destroyed, are mixed with those things which will come to pass before the last coming of the Lord."
In the Geneva notes on Mark 13 we see a past fulfillment of the abomination of desolation.


"When the heathen and profane people shall not only enter into the temple, and defile both it and the city, but also completely destroy it."
As for Luke 21, again the Geneva confirms that a great part of it speaks of the 1st century destruction of the Jewish Temple.


"The final destruction of the whole city is foretold."

This is the note on Lk 21:20, about Jerusalem surrounded by armies.

Speaking of John Calvin himself, without trying to overly esteem him here, he too regarded the Olivet Discourse as mostly fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70.  See here:

We should mention Martin Luther's thoughts on the Olivet Discourse.


"...Jews were assembled within the walls of Jerusalem from every land, and as the historian Josephus writes, there were together at that time about three million people. This was an enormous multitude. Only one hundred thousand people would have been enough to crowd the city. But all this great multitude God in his wrath intended to bake, melt and weld together into one mass of ruin. Yet, the Apostles and Christians were all out of the city, they had withdrawn into the land of Herod, Samaria, Galilee, and were scattered among the heathen. Thus God separated and saved the good grain and poured the chaff into one place."

Luther even references a Full Preterist favorite; Josephus so we see he was aware of Josephus' work.


But let's go back further to the so-called "Church Fathers" which encompasses the time roughly 100AD-500AD.  But before we get into this, note one thing; even if Full Preterists quote some theologian that appears to support their Full Preterism, there is scarely any theologian that would say in his overall theology, that all was fulfilled and "Jesus already came back/returned".  The key to all of this is that the Full/Hyperpreterists taking the "coming" as always a coming BACK/Return when clearly, according to Dan 7:13-15 and Mt 26:64, Jesus was indeed about to come before the presence of God...but this was not a coming BACK/Return.

Writing about the future resurrection, answers something often employed by Full Preterists. Full Preterists chide that the resurrection cannot have a physical component to it since according to them, God couldn't divide all the atoms of a person from all the other atoms -- for example as they degrade into dirt and are absorbed by plants and those plants are eaten by animals, thus the atoms of the person pass.  Martyr says:

"They who maintain the wrong opinion say that there is no resurrection of the flesh; giving as their reason that it is impossible that what is corrupted and dissolved should be restored to the same as it had been. And besides the impossibility, they say that the salvation of the flesh is disadvantageous; and they abuse the flesh, adducing its infirmities, and declare that it only is the cause of our sins, so that if the flesh, say they, rise again, our infirmities also rise with it. And such sophistical reasons as the following they elaborate: If the flesh rise again, it must rise either entire and possessed of all its parts, or imperfect. But its rising imperfect argues a want of power on God's part, if some parts could be saved, and others not; but if all the parts are saved, then the body will manifestly have all its members. But is it not absurd to say that these members will exist after the resurrection from the dead, since the Saviour said, "They neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but shall be as the angels in heaven?" And the angels, say they, have neither flesh, nor do they eat, nor have sexual intercourse; therefore there shall be no resurrection of the flesh. By these and such like arguments, they attempt to distract men from the faith. And there are some who maintain that even Jesus Himself appeared only as spiritual, and not in flesh, but presented merely the appearance of flesh: these persons seek to rob the flesh of the promise. First, then, let us solve those things which seem to them to be insoluble; then we will introduce in an orderly manner the demonstration concerning the flesh, proving that it partakes of salvation." - source
The point is, as much as Full Preterists may think they are wise and come up with questions and answers never before addressed, we can see these issues have indeed been addressed, as early as 90 years after AD70.  Further, in a discussion with a Jew named Trypho, Martyr says:

"... But you say that the same fate has befallen your own nation. Now, if you have been cast out after defeat in battle, you have suffered such treatment justly indeed, as all the Scriptures bear witness..." - source
Again in another work, Martyr says:

"That the land of the Jews, then, was to be laid waste, hear what was said by the Spirit of prophecy. And the words were spoken as if from the person of the people wondering at what had happened." - source
The point is, Martyr clearly saw the Olivet Discourse fulfilled at least in part in AD70, yet he was not a Full Preterist.  You will find this same thing with almost any theologian you read before the 1800s.


Though I clearly stated I do not want to offer another "ism", let me say that the overall eschatology of the Church has been one of minimalism. That is, the 4 points I highlighted in red above, has been the eschatology of Christianity. Different sects have certainly added other things to their eschatology, but Christianity as a collective has seen in the Olivet Discourse, a fulfillment through the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70.  Not until the Dispensationalists come are we told there must be another Temple built and another destruction in the future. So, when Full Preterists speak of "futurists" and "futurism", they really speak of Dispensational Left Behindism. Christianity can and has believed and taught a soon/at hand/about to be/shortly "coming" of Christ -- but it was a coming into the presence of the Father.  The Return/Coming Back is the Consummation of the entire plan.  Outside of this minimal belief, rejecting this minimal eschatology is in fact a rejection of Christian eschatology.  No person who rejects this minimal eschatology can rightly say they advocate the "Christian" view.  This says nothing of their salvation, since it is possible to be an Apollos, with a zeal but yet a need for him or her to have "expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly" (ref)


The way out of the vicious cycle, out of the trap of Full/Hyperpreterism is to realize how it ensnared you in the first place. Typically it works by causing the potential adherent to believe there has been no united eschatology within Christianity. We have shown that the Full Preterist premise is false.  Secondly, Full Preterists often work to disconnect the potential adherent from the greater collective, the Body called the Church. Don Preston says this in his videos when he says he doesn't care what theologians in the past have said.  If we believe God through the Holy Spirit has guided and continues to guide His Elect in the most minimal beliefs of the Faith, we have to consider what "theologians of the past have said".  Otherwise we are saying every new generation should come up with a new interpretation.  It is sort of like a person who claims that every time a new resident buys the plot of land where a house sits, that the former structure should be torn down and a new one built.  In this way, Full Preterism is as cultic as Mormonism which works to disconnect a person from Christianity so that it can be replaced with something else.

With all that said, the reader may wonder what they do with "end time talk"? Do they just avoid it?  Certainly not. You can be confident in declaring what Christianity has always declared;

1. The Olivet Discourse is mainly about the AD70 Destruction of Jerusalem.
2. Christ did COME into His kingdom as it says in Dan 7:13-15 and Mt 26:64.
3. A person IS immediately resurrected/born again at the moment of conversion per John 3 and John 11.

However, know also that there will be a final collective resurrection and a judgment, and an end of sin. There is a reason justification is instant at the moment of belief yet sanctification is a process which we are prepared to be in the presence of God forever.  In this much we can discuss with anyone and still be "orthodox".  Sure, the Left Behinders will want to talk about who they think the Antichrist might be and when the millennium will begin. And the Partial Preterists will get on their hobby-horse and incorrectly tell us that Jesus came back in judgment (although in Mt 21 we see it was the Father/Landowner who came in judgment, not the son/heir). And the Full Preterists will try to get us to give up our connection with the Church and instead claim they are conveying to us what even the apostles and Jesus couldn't -- since we know that the day before and the day after AD70, Christians STILL held that Jesus was yet to RETURN/Come Back -- so then how arrogant for Preston and his pals to think they can teach people in a more sustaining way than Jesus and His handpicked apostles did.

So, yes talk about eschatology, but tell people you believe the 4 minimal points; because not believing those things would make you as much a "non-Christian" as an American citizen not believing in capitalism and freemarket would make them a "non-American".  When they ply you to give your opinion on all the side issues; simply tell them you'll let God work that out.  Believe me, they will get bored with you and move on to the next potential target.

Mt 24 -
Mark 13 -
Lk 21 -
Historical Analysis -


Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm new to this kind of view.
Our pastor was a dispensationalist and I was not satisfied with the explanations of the Rapture in Mathew 24. So I studied other eschatology and I discovered Preterism which is rather a bit more logical.

Based on reading your explanations, I realized that Dr. Kenneth Gentry and R.C Sproul was right (I hope you know them), they explained that the whole Olivet Discourse ALL happened in 70 AD but still believes that Christ will return again bodily at the end of the Cosmos/Human History. They also explained that "The great Tribulation" is just Local judgment of the Jews for harloting with the Roman Empire, not worldwide and the coming in the clouds was a metaphor for "judgment" (are they correct that all "coming in the clouds" in the Bible signifies judgment?)So Partial Preterism as explained by Dr. Gentry and Sproul is the most Valid and correct biblical view of the endtimes. Do you Agree?

I also want to ask about - "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come" ...For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;..."

Is this already past also? ,,cause The word "last" in this verse is from the word "eschatos", which points to the ultimate end of a thing - such as the last month of the year; the last week of the month; the last day of a week; or the very extreme end of the age. In other words, the word eschatos doesn't merely describe the last days in general, but the very last of the last days. It was used in classical Greek literature to depict a place furthest away, such as the very ends of the earth. In this sense, it also signified something that is final.

What does the Bible say about that?, It sounds like "The Great Tribulation" but the word "eschaton" is different from the word "aion" which means "age" - which Full Preterist use to explain that "End of the World" "aion" in Mathew 24 as actually a Metaphorical language for the end of the Age of the Jewish Age". Is the King James Bible translated wrong in some aspects that we have to know a lot of Jewish idioms to understand it rather than read it as it is? Thanks in Advance!

- Arthur -

Dan said...


I too would like to see a reply to your questions and comments as they reiterate much of my struggle. You may not be getting one because you posted as "Anonymous" even though you signed your post Arthur. Do you know of a forum for people like us who are struggling though these questions about FP vs. PP? I, like Dr. Sproul, had my post-milennial position challenged by Russel's Parousia.


Dan DePriest

Roderick_E said...

Hello Arthur and Dan, I didn't mean to ignore these comments. I will reply in detail in the next few days. Thanks for the thoughtful questions.

Roderick_E said...

Please see the complete response to the questions by Arthur -- see here:

Anonymous said...

Dear R.E.

I am ready to deal with your arguments here on a unbiased basis now, lets see if you are correct.

OK, you say I am a Hyper-Preterist. Can that be so if I understand that these things concerning the second coming have a wider definition then history itself? In other words if I understand that they have to do with Jerusalem but more so have to do with you, me, and the church down the street as pertains to today. Hard to explain what I am saying here in one or two lines, but my question is does this still fall under Hyper-Preterism in your opinion?

Yours truly,


PS you can email me at and let me know you answered me there or else just send me an email. Thanks.