Why Preterism Seems Absurd…

By Cris Putnam
There are a good deal of sincere well meaning biblical scholars that place the majority of events described in Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation back in the first century. I am going to make this a running series that I will add to as time goes by. Each post will just add another nail in the coffin of what I believe to be an impossible interpretation.  It seems they fail to realize the distinction between Luke 21 and Matthew 24. Those passages are clearly speaking to distinct events and are even set in different locations.

Today’s reason is Jesus’ description of a great tribulation period, “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) Because even partial preterists place the abomination of desolation mentioned just above this passage (Mt 24:15) in the first century, they must put this time back then as well. But was the Jerusalem war of AD 70 the worst tribulation in history? Worse than the two World Wars? Worse than the holocaust? To avoid the clear implications of this text, our preterist friend switches to Luke:

Certainly no one would minimize those later tribulations — but a couple of clues work against such an argument. First of all, note Luke’s “translation” of this verse:

Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

Our proponent offers no comment at all on this verse, which clearly shows that Luke anticipated a fulfillment in terms of Jerusalem only — the final Diaspora, and the trodding down of Jerusalem by the Gentiles.


The Olivet Discourse: Preterist Exegesis

But this is not exegesis of the Matthew passage at all. One need not address the Luke passage because Luke 21 and Matthew 24 are clearly not the same teaching by Jesus. This reveals an over reliance on liberal scholarship. I suppose I need to establish this in detail with my next post. But for now, note that if  Matthew 24:15 occurred in AD 70 then the preterist necessarily holds that either the events of AD 70 have been unprecedented or the Bible is in error. The law of excluded middle applies. Matthew records Jesus as saying,  “such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” Seriously folks! They would have us swallow that either the Romans sacking of Jerusalem was worse than World Wars I and II, the holocaust and the nuclear annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki …or perhaps that Jesus was mistaken? Now that’s absurd… 

It seems to me the preterist is mistaken.

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.


  1. Johann says:

    Hi Chris, like you finding the Truth in Scripture is the most important aspect of studying the Word of God, as understanding and wisdom is not reserved for all who study the Bible. It goes without saying that the Holy Spirit plays the biggest role in our understanding of the Word and we should seek His guidance continually.
    I have recently been studying the first three Gospels, specifically in relation to the Olivet discourse. I understood all three Gospels to address the question by the disciples as to when the destruction of Jerusalem will take place, when Jesus will come again and what the signs will be when these things take place. The disciples were confused by Jesus’ prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem as they thought the devastation of the city and the coming of the Messiah was all part of one large event
    In Luke 21:24 Jesus starts with the elaboration of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple that was to come, and which happened in 70AD. Jesus then proceeds to describe a time in the future when Jerusalem will no longer be dominated by the Gentiles. To my understanding the second part of Luke 21:24 was fulfilled when Israel recaptured Jerusalem in 1967. Jesus then proceeds to describe His second Coming and the signs that will precede His Coming in the following two verses (Luke 21:24-25).
    Are you saying that Matthew 24 and Luke 21 do not describe the same event?
    Hope it will become clear how Luke 21 and Matthew 24 is not the same teaching.
    God Bless

    • Cris Putnam says:


      Thanks for your reply. I believe you are on the right track. The two accounts certainly overlap on certain points but they are not the same teaching. I will make this very clear in my next post.


  2. JP Holding says:

    Don’t waste my time, Cris. You’re in over your head here.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Sorry JP that doesn’t sound like exegesis either. I’ve yet to see that from you on the passage in question… Your terse response is egotistical and insulting. I’m curious, do they teach Greek and hermeneutics in library science programs? Just an FYI, they do at SEBTS and LBTS. Watch for my next post.

  3. JP Holding says:

    Spare me the blather, Cris. Greek has nothing to do with this issue; and if it did arise, I have access to leading Greek scholars if I need it, so you can put that back in your ear. As it stands, arguing that Matt 24 and Luke 21 are different discourses is merely an asinine contrivance and a case of hermeneutical homicide if there ever was one. What you gonna do next? Say that Jesus gave the same teachings in the Sermon on the Mount two different times, once in second person and another time in third person? Please.

    You get the response you deserve. I’ll be sure and watch for more postings so that I can alert the Disease Control Center.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Nice JP, winsome as usual… Can you please answer one simple question? Obviously AD 70 was not the greatest time of tribulation in all of history, so is your position that Matthew blundered or Jesus?

  4. JP Holding says:

    Like I said…spare me, and that includes the wounded puppy routine, Cris. Captain Caveman exegetes like you are the reason the church is in such a muddle. I answered (rendered moot) your obscurantist question in the very article you link to. Here’s a hint: Look up “dramatic orientation” and stop reading the New Testament like a flinkin’ Chick tract.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      I think Jesus meant what he said and the text is meant to be factually accurate. Either AD 70 was the greatest tribulation in all of history or it is in error, simply asserting a literary hyperbole is still admitting the text is in error. Please answer the question instead of hurling insults and red herrings.

  5. JP Holding says:

    Good boy, Cris. Stick your head between your backside like a good fundy literalist. Like I said: Question already answered (rendered moot) in the article.

    The shame of it is you sound just like the apostate preacher-turned-atheist Farrell Till with that line — or like atheist C. Dennis McKinsey. But I imagine you’re too insensate to realize that’s a problem.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      JP, If I am wrong I would really like to know why, but you will not answer my question, you just hurl fallacies and insults… why not explain or simply paste the relevant material instead? The real shame of it is you behave just like an atheist. I sincerely believe you are wrong and that my next post will prove it decisively.

  6. Chance Ratcliff says:

    I sincerely hope that JP Holding is not in a position of leadership over anyone. That type of behavior is inappropriate for Christians in general, and simply unacceptable for those responsible for the spiritual development of others.

    And we should be clear. One needn’t be a “fundie literalist” to understand what one reads: “Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives…” (Luke 21:37a)

    One of these sermons takes place at the temple, and the other takes place at Olivet. There are clear content differences between them. If there is a compelling reason why we shouldn’t take this important distinction at face value, then it hasn’t been expressed.

    What has been expressed is rather tasteless invective on the part of JP Holding, who apparently believes he has good reasons, not just for a strained hermeneutic, but for the insulting treatment of a brother who is making justified observations about the word of truth.

  7. JP Holding says:

    Simple fact, Cris, is your idiotic objection was ALREADY answered in the article, and now I have just added a section further illustrating the utter idiocy of disconnecting Luke 21 from Matthew 24. The real problem is you’re too immature and ignorant to address the arguments already there — so you get what you have earned.

    @Chance: Spare me the whining. The same has been said by atheists watching Jesus deal with his opponents. So maybe you need to go correct Jesus.

    Cris, you’re obviously To Stupid to Deal With, so any further comments I make will be in the article itself.

  8. Chance Ratcliff says:

    Who’s whining, JP, besides you – which is what your empty insults amount to. I was just pointing out how inappropriate your demeanor is, and also how a plain reading of the two chapters obviously supports the notion of two sermons – your externally imposed eschatology notwithstanding. And to compare yourself with Christ in this regard is just absurd. I think it’s pretty clear that your behavior reflects a troubled personality – one which should not be in a position of leadership or authority over others, since simple disagreement with you apparently triggers foul episodes. I stand by that assessment.

    For those looking on, they’ll take note that your invective makes a poor case to dismiss the apparent and clear notion of two distinct sermons given at two disparate times, between Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Your spitting and cursing doesn’t change this.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Thanks Chance! I too find it troublesome that someone so unbalanced and ill mannered is representing the Christian faith. An apologist is only as good as his ability,“to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”,(1 Pe 3:15) No one cares if someone is knowledgeable if they cannot behave like an adult. I really had no idea or I would have just quoted RC Sproul or another preterist. I have made a very solid case in the follow up post that Luke 21 is not the same as Matthew 24, I rest assured that it is irrefutable due to the four lines of evidence presented.

  9. Peter Grice says:

    I am predisposed to liking JP Holding, yet this “stick your head between your backside” trash from him is fairly consistent, and seldom, if ever, appropriate. I know I represent a significant number of online Christian apologists who think you have clearly crossed a very clear line, JP, and find your supposed biblical self-justifications less than compelling. Receive it – or not – yet it remains.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      I have actually met JP and I knew he was an intellectual. I really wanted to put my views to the test by challenging someone who could put up a vigorous debate, instead all I got was child like bullying tactics and insults. I expected more, I had no idea he was so immature. –comments closed—

      “So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.”(Jas 3:5–6)

  10. JP Holding says:

    Yeah you’re right Petey. I shoulda told Cris I was gonna spread dung on his face instead (Mal. 2:3). That would have been a lot more appropriate.

    Hope you enjoy the cognitive dissonance.


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