Why Preterism Seems Absurd… (part 4)

By Cris Putnam
In case you aren’t familiar, preterism the idea that most of bible prophecy was fulfilled during the first century with the events surrounding the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. The ESV study Bible definition:

Preterism (from Latin praeteritum, “the thing that is past”) thinks that the fulfillment of most of Revelation’s visions already occurred in the distant past, during the early years of the Christian church.[1]

This is an idea I find untenable. It is the result of inappropriately conflating Jesus predictions concerning the temple with his discussion of his return in glory. I believe I have made a decisive case against it already and this is a continuation of the series including: part 1, part 2, & part 3.

Another, reason that preterism seems absurd is Jesus’ use of material from Daniel 12 which cannot be relegated to the first century.

“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.”(Mt 24:21)

It is quite clear that Jesus is quoting from Daniel 12:

“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.”(Da 12:1)

What makes this fatal to a preterist interpretation of Matthew 24 which attempts to relegate this passage to the events of AD 70 is that the next event in Daniel 12 is the resurrection of the dead and event which occurs in Revelation 20 necessarily after the glorious return of Christ.

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”(Da 12:2)

Furthermore, identical language is used in the book of Revelation firmly establishing the futurist interpretation of these unprecedented events.

“And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.(Re 16:18)

The book of Revelation also repeats “the Great Tribulation” terminology connecting Matthew 24, Daniel 12 and the judgments in Revelation.

“I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Re 7:14)

One more biblical reason that preterism seems absurd.
 



[1] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2457.

About Cris Putnam
Logos Apologia is the ministry of Cris D. Putnam. The mission of Logos Apologia is to show that logic, science, history and faith are complementary, not contradictory and to bring that life-changing truth to everybody who wants to know.

Comments

  1. Bob says:

    Wow, Cris, I have to agree with you. I’m no theologian or Bible rocket scientist. I just read it with an open heart…that is all. If you read books about the saints, you will read that those most in tune with God are those who are not scholars, theologians…..or Bible scientists. And you didn’t find them arguing or yammering on and slinging mud with anger and animosity. Meekness was their common trait.

    After reading all the comments of those opposed to your view, I have to say these are “wishful thinkers”. They don’t want to think about the world possibly ending….and the horror of it all, before Jesus comes back. I was a on a blog weeks back, maintained by a reputable Catholic priest, and he had the preterist view also. I, as a Catholic, was shocked to find out that this is an accepted Catholic view. I deleted his blog out of my bookmarks, to say the least, for I believe he is misleading the flock. I personally, think the preterist view is misguided…and I believe Satan is having the last laugh with those who subscribe to it.

    If you subscribe to this view then I guess you also subscribe that the Great Tribulation has already happened and so has the Second Coming. This is ridiculous! If you link the two verses in Matthew and Luke, then I guess everything in Revelations has already come to pass, which means we have nothing to hope for and nothing to worry about. Again, ridiculous. There was a reason that Revelations was put in as the last book of the NT. It was a warning…and not just for those in the 1st century. Think about it, if it was directed towards those of the 1st century, than why put that book in when the NT was assembled a couple hundred years later? It wouldn’t have made sense.

    It’s funny how preterists will take every word, and say, “Well, it doesn’t mean that. What it really means is…” Take for instance the word “earth” which is used several times when describing what happens when the 7 trumpets are blown in Revelation. If “earth” really meant Jerusalem, than why not just use the word Jerusalem, since the Bible does name numerous specific cities throughout? The reason the word earth is used is because that is what was meant. Earth, meaning our entire planet.

    Preterists are in denial. They don’t want to face the inevitable. They can’t handle scary stuff, and would much rather interpret things to suit their own anxieties and fears.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Bob, obviously I agree with you, needless to say, whether the intend to or not, preterists are paving the way for the antichrist by dismissing all the prophecies that warn of his arrival.

  2. Vic says:

    I really don’t know, but I urge everyone to watch the 3 hour ‘King Kong’ of debates the Date of the authorship on the Book of Revelation with Hank Hanegraaff vs. Mark Hitchcock on youtube….Wow.
    Dispensationist Mark comes on first with his argument and seemingly ‘case closed’ opinion on this issue.
    But then Hank Hanegraaff comes on and slowly and methodically devastates Mark’s case…then they go ‘back and forth’ in a respectful manner, but Hank seems to win it overall.
    Hank also gets into very briefly on this Angels mating with humans nonsense that I USED to believe as well,
    but if anyone STILL believes that theory whom Christians regularly fall back into the The Book Of Enoch as a huge crutch to support it, I suggest to to at least go to ‘CRoadwarrior’ on youtube as well for some back to reality
    erudition on this….Sorry, why would God even give the capacity for Angels to have sex organs in the first place?
    It’s really absurd the more you think about it, and IMHO Satan has even convinced Christians that Fallen Angels can procreate and have offspring….Rosemary’s Babies, if you will. Also that Fallen Angels taught Mankind how to make weapons of war, the art of make-up for women,etc. in the Book of Enoch, as if Mankind couldn’t come up with that on their own, the Giant’s height being ‘400 ells’ I believe, which would have made these Hybrid Giants the equivalent height of like two Football fields..etc. etc…..I had to leave this ‘belief’ because it was too much, and the Christian sites connected with them had too many ‘Horror Film’ images like Tom Horn’s, Steve Quayle’s, Russ Dizzdar’s, etc, just didn’t ring true to me anymore…I personally HAD to come back to reality on this NON-ESSENTIAL, and likely heretical ‘section’ of Christianity.
    Just my two cents on it…God Bless.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Vic, the debate not withstanding, I think Hannegraaff is clearly wrong on both accounts. All of our best evidence supports the AD 90s for Revelation and the majority of NT scholars agree on that, hands down. Irenaeus placed the time of writing “almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.” The church historian Eusebius approvingly quoted Irenaeus’s view. They were close enough to know. It’s also quite telling that NONE of the second century Fathers were preterist like Hannegraaff, it seems like if all that prophecy had been fulfilled at least one person would have pointed it out. They didn’t, preterism is absurd, bordering on heterodoxy. You also miss the point on Genesis 6, its not a matter of whether you think its absurd or not, it’s “what does the text say.” The text is perfectly clear and Jude and Peter confirm in the NT, that divine beings produced offspring with human women, I’ll stick with the supernatural worldview presented in Bible.

  3. Vic says:

    Yes Chris, I’ll remain somewhat open on these subjects with great caution, because these are non-essential
    issues on salvation of the soul either way….If Christ comes in 5 years or 5000 years it should make no difference to the believer because he or she should be ready regardless.
    The Gospel hasn’t reached Japan yet, they are still 98 percent Buddhist/Shinto, and according to scripture,
    the Gospel must saturate the whole planet FIRST before the ‘end’. Japan is a hard nut to crack, virtually impossible to spread Christianity there….one example that we have a loooong way to go before the ‘end’ lest 98% of the Japanese are simply dismissed.
    I’m fascinated, Disasters aside, that their society is MUCH safer to live in, than our mostly Christian nation.
    A woman in Tokyo, a Metropolis more than twice the size of New York City, can still walk the streets and alleys with virtually no worries about being mugged or raped, yet try to get a Lady in tiny city by comparison, say Little Rock Arkansas in the middle of the Bible Belt, to walk the streets at night alone and see how safe she feels….lol, I’m a unique observer of those things, there seems to be no ‘rhyme or reason’ BUT one would think that the mostly heavily “Christian” areas would be a thousand times safer than virtually non-Christian Tokyo….why is that??
    That’s a tough one to ponder isn’t it?, I think it’s interesting though….be well.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Vic, I believe the Gospel reached Japan a long time ago, they just rejected it. Are you a postmillennialist?

    • Cris Putnam says:

      would think that the mostly heavily “Christian” areas would be a thousand times safer than virtually non-Christian Tokyo….why is that??

      The devil doesn’t need to bother with areas that he already rules.

  4. Vic says:

    Presently I lean that way, after much struggle with this I’ve learned it’s perfectly fine to not be ‘locked and loaded’
    to any single belief whether it be Angels initiating procreation, or the utterly confusing millenial situations.
    Ya know, I wonder if our Lord FORESAW if these secondary issues we gonna be debated in the future, and I wonder why sometimes he didn’t state secondary issues in an uninterpretable hardcore, irrefutable way with no controversy about this in the future whatsosever…Why do you think that was?

    This is not unlike how Mohammed could have SIMPLY said before he left (died)….”Hey Guys, When I leave, THIS GUY takes over, no question, no debate, period!”….a simple statement by Mohammed could have averted the Whole “Shia” the “Sunni” fiasco….but I digress…Back to Christianity.

    I mean, maybe Jesus didn’t NEED to put these secondary issues in a hardcore, irrefutable, NON-interpretable way
    because it wasn’t that important? I really don’t know, personally Chris I’m a relatively new Christian,
    and after a very long time pondering whether I should even ‘cross over’ and give Christianity the benefit of the
    doubt, I did….I held my nose and confessed my sins.
    I held my nose because of how Christianity is portrayed by most (not all) American Preachers on Television, it just seemed almost cartoonish, but after I converted, the lesser known powerhouses just below ‘the surface’ and below the ‘mass media radar’ began to emerge to me not by coincidence….Ravi Zecharias, Voddie Baucham, Watchman Nee, and Hank Hanegraaff….Again, I’m not ‘locked and loaded’ on SECONDARY issues, but once one is exposed to these amazing teachers, the other mass media teachers on TV just seem fake now….still learning, but certain that whenever we ‘cross over’ into the next world, we won’t be “quizzed” or “judged” on secondary issues because they simply weren’t “crystal clear” to us even though we wished they were, the most important thing is to know that Christ died for our sins,and to strive for holiness bit by bit, progressing every day until it’s our time to face him. God Bless.

    • john B says:

      Hi Vic; I understand what you are saying, It’s best not to be labelled.. Unfortunately christianity has become more of a Babel of confusion. Praise the Lord that you made it through the maze. Being on the other side is peace indeed.

      Voices arise from many locations, very often in contradiction not only to each other but also to the Word.
      There are many infallible errors out there, voices which become disturbed when questioned.

      “Everyone that is of the Truth heareth my voice” Jn18:37

      Blessings

      john B

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Fair enough Vic. I don’t think you will go wrong listening to the likes of Ravi but I’m not as inclined toward Hanegraaff. His theology undermines God’s integrity in my mind. After investing the last 5 years in intense biblical study, learning Greek, Hebrew & theology, I am convinced that futurist premillenniallism is correct, Israel is still very important and there will be a literal earthly kingdom headed by Christ and administered by us believers.

  5. Vic says:

    Yes, Christianity is confusing is several ways, everyone has a corner on the truth.
    My ‘hobby’ to discredit it before I was saved was to collect a myriad of old ‘end times’ books by many preachers,
    theologians, etc. from YEARS and years ago, and these books were all ‘Any Moment Now’ and URGENT ‘put you in an uncomfortable position’ type books that emphasised the end was nigh, people were in end times fever back even not long after Jesus acsended…this is nothing new, I could name names, previous hysterias and all that, but I’m just more jaded than most because I still own these dozens of books in my arsenal to discredit the CURRENT new crop of books that seem to pop up to introduce a NEW generation to them.
    Even Martin Luther thought Jesus would return in 1600….More and more, understandibly from my position
    I am becoming more convinced that Emperor Nero was the “Beast” of Revelation, and that John at Patmos was not talking about some 21st Century scenario, BTW Revelation doesn’t even mention the word “antichrist” once,
    the Bible is very clear on what an “antichrist” is in other passages, and it is not the “beast” of Revelation, the two
    are not interchangable.
    What Nero did will never occur again in history to Christians on such a grand scale, it diminishes what Nero did when others insist that the “beast” is some future person, and should a great sigh of relief that this was all in the past, and it’s almost Kindergarten simple that ALL I need to know, is that the next Biblical event, the VERY next,
    is the unexpected return of Christ to put all things to right…anytime…no ‘warning’….anytime.
    You’re right, Christianty is a ‘Babel’ now, and frankly I’m exhausted playing ‘Pin The Tail on the Antichrist’ (actually “beast”) after thelogian after theologian being always wrong about the chronic ‘imminency’,
    Again I’m not ‘locked and loaded’, just extremely aware and conscious of the past ‘history’ of end times ‘stuff’,
    I have library full of it.

  6. (Another) Paul says:

    Thanks for reposting those articles, Cris — they give a neat synopsis of the problems with preterism.

    I thought you dealt well with that fellow who was trying to wipe the floor with you on the first post. His comments left me agog. Here’s hoping he’s calmed down and reconsidered his remarks.

    When I think of the times when I’ve clashed with other believers over some issue or other, I tend not so much to remember the good points I made (which are generally long-forgotten — and which may even have been arguing positions which I no longer hold), but rather the bad grace with which I made some of them — those instances where I spoke to a brother or sister in an unworthy or even shameful way. And I think that those are the episodes which Jesus remembers, too. Ultimately our rewards (and our losses) will have less to do with our proficiency in constructing arguments or vanquishing other believers in debate than with how we treated one another as God’s family.

    Dear Lord help me learn this…

    God bless.

  7. Charlie says:

    I have read your articles here, well stated. I liked Laura’s response. In the USAF we call that “SHACK!!” I will toss a few riyals into the ring…One aspect I haven’t yet seen articulated which could very well make it tough to counter is with regards to the Angels.
    Can anyone cite a verse of an Angel communicating an allegory to man? As Dan 10:1 shows in the macro the angelic message is given true.
    So Gabriel informs Mary she will be mother to our Savior and she is to call him Jesus. He will be great and the son of the most high and Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his David his father. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for an age and his kingdom there shall be not an end. Seem pretty literal to me, shouldn’t this be any arguments’ starting point supporting a literal reign?
    Another observation, I have lived in the middle east over 20 years and I can see events leading to something of ‘Biblical proportions’. The very fact of a severe increase in anti-semitism worldwide and heinous assaults against Christians shows to me that satan is trying his best to thwart God’s plan. The 144,000 are crucial for Israel in the Trib and that is just one of many points that would wreak the plan.
    The amillennials which attend our church here are coming to the conclusion that something is a miss with their concept as they see events unfolding here. I am talking in the macro not the minute details, chiefly government changes and alliances moving and dedication of resources. The powers are running scared and I believe the state of the USA (dismal) is playing out according to His will. I think events in the next six months will be very telling.

    Thanks for excellent studies
    Maranatha
    Charlie

  8. alf says:

    Great responses to a certain individual in Part One. Well done, Cris.

  9. Kevin says:

    You know, I hear all of the time Christian thinkers researching what the early church writers had to say about a certain thing. Seems like the closer you get to the original, the less errors would have accumulated and of course the early church would have shared a similar culture and understanding.

    So, we have an account of the actual people – taught by Paul about the second coming. They were concerned they had missed it and were troubled. Apparently the return of Christ is supposed to be something good. Paul must have made it sound like a worthwhile thing to be part of!
    Here is one of the many things that bother me about preterism. Why is it that slaughtering a bunch of Jews is something to be longed for? Were the Thesolonians concerned that they missed out on the slaughter? What did a Christian gain when the Jews were killed and the Temple knocked down? Did Paul not understand what he was teaching?
    From the preterist view, it was the end of an age – but why the yearning? Why did the Christians want to see the end of an age. It’s just a description. Sort of like the Iron Age. Doesn’t have any significance at all.
    Our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await our savior – – to kill the Jews and take their stuff. Doesn’t make sense.
    Paul preached that Jesus would return and gather His people to be with Him. It was the yearning that was created from the beginning of the world and place in our hearts. It was the drive and hope of all the authors of the bible.

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