Monday, November 10, 2014

End of the Eschaton

About every month or so I get an email or a comment asking a question about what Full Preterists do or don't believe. I received a comment back in Feb 2014 to an article discussing what the Church believes about the "End times" (source)  The main point of the question concerned the difference between the Greek words "aion" and "eschatos". The title of this article is a purposeful play on that, as it literally means "The end of End".

I will quote the comments and then interact.

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.

Careful here. It isn't "Preterism" which is more logical, but rather historical Christianity. The only reason Preterism seems like a breath of fresh exegetical air is because we have had 200+ years of Dispensationalism. Historical Christianity ALWAYS understood the significance of AD70, yet without going into Full Preterism.  Secondly, the word "Preterism" has been so co-opted by Full Preterists (with the help of R.C. Sproul Sr.), it is dangerous to classify yourself as such. It would be like using the word "gay" when you merely mean happy.

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. 
Well, I'm not so certain that is true, or at least it had not always been. Gentry at one time proposed that Matthew should be split at verses 34-35.  1-34 = PAST, verses 35-51 = FUTURE.  Gentry may no longer hold to this division.  The problem with assigning all of the Olivet Discourse to AD70, is that there is not much warrant for a person to "still believe that Christ will return again".  Based on what? What specific verses?

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?
Not so certain it should be called a "local judgment" as it had ramifications for the entire Roman world (aka, known world).  I highly disagree that the "coming in the clouds" was a metaphor for judgment.  I base this on the fact that it WAS NOT Jesus "coming in judgment" but rather the Land Owner/Father (see Mt 21:33-43).

Jesus' "coming in/on/with the clouds" was in glory and vindication as evident from Dan 7:13-15 and Mt 26:64. (See also ref#1, ref#2), not judgment.  When I interacted with Gentry on this, he glibbly said that Jesus and the Father are both God so it is the same thing.  It is really dangerous for the theologian to not delineate the Godhead into its three personas.  The most valid and correct eschatology is historical Christian eschatology -- not some 1990s revision called "Partial Preterism".

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 -
The quote comes from 2 Timothy 3:1-17. John Calvin definitely sees this as pertaining to our future (source).  Here's some more commentaries.  Now, before the reader wonders why I am referring to commentaries, keep in mind I'm trying to establish a very important point here -- Christianity is a COLLECTIVE -- The Church is a COLLECTIVE.  Jesus didn't come to start a religion where individuals just go about interpreting everything however they see fit. There is a reason Jesus hand-picked apostles.  There is a reason verses like Eph 2:20,  2 Thes 2:15 and 2 Thes 3:6 exist. It establishes that Jesus intended there to be a shared FAITH.

Full Preterism by its very nature is individualistic. It MUST reject historical Christianity and replace it with something else.

While it is true, and the historical Christian interpretation that AD70 was a significant event -- the "end of the Jewish age" of God symbolically residing in a Temple made with hands -- it does not mean that everything else must be upended to fit into the Full Preterist paradigm. Full Preterists have latched on to the truth that AD70 was significant and turned it into another religion that is foreign to Christianity.  It is like an American claiming to be a communist yet still American.

Lastly, YES the KJV is erroneous translating some words into English, however it may be more out of hyperbole than willful mistranslation. Even in our modern era we use phrase like "the whole world" when we mean a more localized perspective.  I'd suggest using multiple English translations and ultimately consult the Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek when there are further questions.

As for the "Great Tribulation"; again please read the historical Christian commentaries on these verses -- you will be surprised to see that unlike the Dispensationalists, historical Christianity DID interpret these verses to pertain to those events in and around AD70. (source1,source2).  The problem is Full Preterists have co-opted the historical interpretation of the Olivet Discourse and try to spin it as if they and the "partial preterists" are the ones who "WOW!!!" figured it out -- They are Johnny-Come-Latelies that dupe way too many people.  Be careful.

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