APPROACHES TO REVELATION: PRETERISM (2)

PMT 2014-083 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.Preterism 2

Preterism is still largely unfamiliar to dispensationalists who dominate the evangelical publishing market. Yet it is making headway. And I believe it is making its presence felt due to its great strengths. Let’s consider those, then consider its weaknesses.

Preterism’s strengths

The leading strengths of preterism are:

(1) It retains and emphasizes the relevance of Revelation for John’s first-century audience (the seven churches in Asia Minor and apostolic Christianity more broadly), which is enduring a worsening period of persecution and oppression (1:9; 6:9–11; 14:13; 17:6) that would require Christians to strive to “overcome” (2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). John writes to a particular people at a particular time, and those people are urged to carefully “hear” (1:3) what Revelation presents.

As I. T. Beckwith well notes: “Like ‘every scripture inspired of God’ the Apocalypse was certainly meant to be to those to whom it first came ‘profitable for teaching’ (2 Tim. 3:16), and so the writer must have counted on its being understood in its chief lessons.” This differs radically from futurism which must argue that “the full meaning of the Apocalypse shall only be understood ‘when all has come to pass’ (A. Kuyper). J. F. Walvoord admits that “as history unfolds and as prophecy is fulfilled in the future, much will be understood that could be only dimly comprehended by the first readers of the book.”

(2) Preterism takes seriously Rev’s time-frame indicators: “the things which must shortly take place” (1:1, 22:6); “the time is near” (1:3; 22:10). These temporal qualifiers appear in the introduction and the conclusion of Rev, so that any unprejudiced original reader should expect that what he will hear and what he should understand is a prophecy about fast-approaching events. Not only so but these temporal delimiters appear well before and immediately after the perplexing symbolic visions. Consequently, they appear in the more didactic and less dramatic sections.


Beast of Revelation: Identified
(DVD by Ken Gentry)

A biblical and historical argument for Nero being the beast of Revelation.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


(3) It dramatically presents major redemptive-historical matters: the demise of Judaism and the temple system (after 2000 years of Jewish focus and 1500 years of tabernacle/temple worship) and the universalizing of the Christian faith as it permanently breaks free of its maternal bonds to temple-based Israel. During its earliest years Christianity gravitates to the temple (e.g., Ac 2:46; 3:1; 5:20, 42; 21:26; 22:17; 24:11) and Jerusalem (e.g., Ac 1:4; 6:7; 8:1; 15:2; 19:21). Thus, this covenantal transition is a major, recurring theme in the NT.

We see this especially in Hebrews which has this as its central, controlling point: John “depicts the replacement of the Old Covenant by Christianity in language reminiscent of the epistle to the Hebrews” (M. Hopkins). But we also witness numerous allusions to AD 70 in many texts in the Gospels (e.g., Mt 8:11–12; 21:43; 22:1–7; 23:35–38; 24:1–34) as well as elsewhere (Ac 2:16–21, 37–40; 7:48–53; 1Th 2:14–16).

(4) By enduring such catastrophes as appearing in Rev, the first-century church serves as an example of Christ’s providential protection of his people — giving hope for not only that day but all ages. If Christ can deliver the church in its infancy during its weakest stage of development from two ubiquitous enemies, then the future looks bright with hope.

Preterism’s weaknesses

There are none. 🙂 Except that preterists’ book sales number only in the thousands, whereas dispensationalists’ book sales number in the tens of millions.


When Shall These Things Be?
Reformed Response to Hyperpreterism

(ed. by Keith Mathison)
A reformed response to the aberrant HyperPreterist theolgy.
Gentry’s chapter critiques HyperPreterism from an historical and creedal perspective.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


Conclusion

Although a great number of sub-varieties exist within each of the four basic interpretive schools, we should be aware of the fundamental distinctives of each school. I do not present the currently popular “eclectic” approach of G. K. Beale and some others because, as Beale notes: “the majority of the symbols in the book are transtemporal in the sense that they are applicable to events throughout the ‘church age,’” consequently, “no specific prophesied historical events are discerned in the book.” Thus, this “eclectic” view is simply another version of idealism.

I would also note that the different interpretive schools seem to arise from our historical distance from Rev’s original setting. As R. H. Mounce notes: John “wrote out of his own immediate situation, his prophecies would have a historical fulfillment, he anticipated a future consummation, and revealed principles that operated beneath the course of history.” Consequently, we may actually surmise that as he writes Rev, John is simultaneously a futurist, historicist, idealist, and preterist!

And finally, as an evangelical Christian I would point out that each view has evangelical adherents within it. Unfortunately, some dispensationalist-futurists dismiss the other approaches as dangerously trending toward liberalism — though they conveniently never mention the cultic versions of premillennialism (Mormonism; Jehovah’s Witnesses).

Advertisements

Tagged: ,

10 thoughts on “APPROACHES TO REVELATION: PRETERISM (2)

  1. carolnorenjohnson July 11, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Are you a Partial Preterist, Dr. Gentry?

  2. Kenneth Gentry July 11, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Yes, but I prefer the description “orthodox preterist.”

  3. Charles Law July 13, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    I agree with about Partial Preterism in some aspect, even dispensationalist could be a partial preterist without their knowing…though I consider myself as a Historic Premillenialist, I agree with the partial preterist view in a small way that the destruction of the Judaic temple in 70 AD signifies the Christian Era and as prophesied by Christ in the first part of Matthew 24 Olivet Discourse regarding the apostles inquiry: “When shall this things be?” BUT I also believe the other two parts of the discourse is yet to happen in the future: 2-“What shall be the sign of thy coming?” 3.-“And of the end of the age?”

    Regarding the weakness , I could see two weakness of Preterism, First is it could lead to “Hyper” or “Full Preterism if the believer would not be careful. For example the belief that there’s no Physical Ressurection, There’s no more second advent of Christ, the earth will continue forever and we are already in the new heavens and new earth!???.. Just sharing it with other believers (especially Dispensationalist) and unbelievers or Atheist I am trying to convert is enough for them to consider me a weirdo belonging to a cult and even to the point of cutting friendship with dispy’s because they vehemently disagree with that view . I mean when I first learn and accept it, I almost gave up on Christianity, I felt a strange hopelessness that I can’t explain. Hopefully I recovered by again wearing the “right” biblical lens.

    The second weakness that I could see in Preterism is the over “allegorizing “ or too much “spiritualizing” the literal meaning of the scriptures. I think the best way in interpreting the scripture is “Symbolic Literalism” as John explained it: (ex. 7 stars = 7 angels, 7 candlesticks = 7 churches, 7 heads = 7 mountains, the Dragon = Satan, waters/Sea = multitudes, gentiles, etc). It’s all symbolic but there’s certainly a “literal” meaning behind it. While I disagree with extreme literalism like some Dyspies advocate ( ex. the “Locusts” in Revelations 9 they say are modern day “Helicopters”, or the literal “666 microchip implant” in the head or arms) I think the problem with Preterism is by being on the other far end, more often than not is being used to spiritualize what could soundly mean literal. (for example Preterist say that the First resurrection is = a “spiritual” resurrection – unregenerate sinners becoming Christians, while the second resurrection is the “physical resurrection” of the unrepentant or unbelievers to damnation….but if that is so, why would Christ said in John 5:28 that “the hour is coming when ALL that is in the grave (in Greek means “mnemeion” a literal tomb, sepulcher) will arise to resurrection of life AND the evil to the 2nd resurrection of Damnation, the “and” there is separated by a definite “thousand years” as indicated in Revelations 20:5, also Paul is very clear in I Thess 4:16 that “the dead in Christ/[Gk –nekros, literal corpse] shall rise first”. It is a resurrected body that will rise, not a regenerated spirit. it’s obvious that the 1st resurrection at the start of the Millennium is as literal [which includes the beheaded martyrs] as the 2nd resurrection of the evil men to the second death which is damnation.

    Also G. K. Beale “eclectic” approach seems on target – “the majority of the symbols in the book are transtemporal in the sense that they are applicable to events throughout the ‘church age,’” God seems to have in mind the “future” generations when addressing the Churches in Asia minor, The characteristics of those churches are exactly the characteristics of different Christian Church throughout the ages Worldwide. (The Lukewarm Church, t persecuted church, faithful church, the falling into apostasy church, etc……could very well represent Protestant, Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, etc) I think it was Prophetically written as the state of ALL Churches and not just for that Asia Minor Church. Therefore J. F. Walvoord is right in stating that “as history unfolds and as prophecy is fulfilled in the future, much will be understood that could be only dimly comprehended by the first readers of the book.”

    With the light of recent archeological discoveries, it is seems certain Now without a shadow of a doubt that Revelations was really written in 95-96 AD as most and majority of the scholars believed particularly the discovery of High Priest Caiaphas Ossuary, the remains of a 60 year old man carbon dated dying before 70 AD which negates and debunked the 65 AD early date and the Preterist claim, which also proves that “ those who pierced him” are STILL awaiting to be Resurrected in the future to be judged when he comes again “in the clouds with great glory, therefore the time indicators “soon” and “at hand” should not be seen in man’s perspective but God’s perspective (2 Peter 3:8) – “soon” could be a thousand years to us, Two thousand years have passed, But for the Lord it’s just 2 days!, while “I come quickly” in Greek en“tachos” is the manner of his coming which is very fast “at the twinkling of an eye”….. Also noticed that the characteristics of the Whore is ambiguous, in the past I see it as Jerusalem but it seems Now it could not exactly be Jerusalem but a powerful yet “Apostate “ Church in the future, because It is evident In history that only the apostate “Roman” Church is the one “reigning over the kings of the earth”, Jerusalem did not reign over the kings of the earth, (which could allegorically or literally mean Head of States, President and Prime Ministers bowing before this false spiritual Harlot empire/church) but rather she is the one ruled by outside forces like the Romans….. and that “Apostate” Church sitteth in seven mountains which is in “Rome”.

    There are also 10 kings in Rev 17:10-12 that didn’t exist in the time of John’s writing, which will arise in the later days just before the end of time. the 10 kings of the Beast have no kingdom yet. That means the power of this beast to give them rule hadn’t occurred yet But they are given to rule 1 hour, a very short period of time, when Satan is unleashed from being bound in the bottomless pit at the end of “the thousand years” and empower them to stage a final hopeless Futile revolt. Does it mean the Millennial reign is flawed?, absolutely Not, it only shows God is Sovereign that he allows his creation to exercise their “free will” knowing in the end, He will show them that only HIS will would prevail and overcome despite opposition.

    The beast according to Preterism is “Nero” if we follow the Hebrew Gematria “616” but again Revelation talks about “worshiping the Beast” that has eternal and supernatural implications…”Emperor Cult worship” seems to be a shallow megalomaniac decree by the Ceasars with Nero and Domitian having the most severe ego. But they did not “deceive them that dwell in the earth by the means of Miracles” and has power to “call fire down from Heaven”. Again Preterism would allegorize it. But it’s clearly literal in a Biblical sense and still to happen in the future, The “Beast” has the power to perform Miracles to deceive people, that the result of worshipping him would cause anyone to be thrown into the Lake of Fire and be tormented forever. Is God that insecure to Nero to throw people into the Lake of Fire just for following an insane “political decree” to worship a “deranged” emperor? Absolutely Not.

    Those are just few of the arguments for the case of “Historic Premillennialism” as Most of the Church fathers believed. Not some modern day inventions of the false doomsayers like Harold Camping that’s causing Premillenial view a bad reputation because of all those wrong date setting just like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness which is a defiance of what Jesus said “of that day, No one knows”.

    One of my favorite theologian Charles Spurgeon Sums it ALL well….” There is moreover to be a reign of Christ. I cannot read the Scriptures without perceiving that there is to be a pre-millennial reign, as I believe, upon the earth and that there shall be new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.” So I agree with this respected and wise theologian, Premillennialism is both valid and logical if taken in the right context.

    That’s just my take from a biblical perspective but in a balanced point of view, I’m a Premillennial partial preterist but also a Futurist. Preterism is very methodical in it’s presentation but it sometimes deny the future prophecies Yet to be fulfilled. Just my two cents. There’s no bias on my part, just presenting my views the way I see it Biblically and Truthfully. I really appreciate Partial Preterism but it does not conflict with my belief that Prophecies are still to be fulfilled in the Future and Revelation is not Yet done nor a thing of the past but alive, kicking and well.

    May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with Us All especially to Dr.Gentry. Thanks!

  4. Kenneth Gentry July 14, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Charles:
    Thanks for reading and responding. As I am sure you would expect, I very much disagree with you. Unfortunately, your post is so long that I cannot rebut each point you make. But I will respond to your first points, which are your most relevant to the article I wrote.

    Regarding the “other two parts of the [Olivet] discourse, I agree that they are furture, referring to the Second Advent. (However, there is only one other part. Where you see two is actually only one additional question. See my discussion in Olivet Discourse Made Easy.)

    The first weakness of preterism that you mention could be applied to any theological construct. In fact, in Romans 6:1ff Paul has to rebut those who are abusing free grace in promoting licentious living. The abuse of something should not lead to the dismissing of that something. Thus, this complaint carries no weight.

    The second weakness you bring hope is not really significant either. For one thing, Hal Lindsey’s cobra helicopter interpretation of Rev 9 is certainly not literalism. But more significantly preterism largely engages in what you call “symbolic literalism.” In fact, a number of my critics recoil against my “literalism” (as they see it).

    You present what you believe my view of Rev 20:4 is. But you are mistaken. But even did I hold that the first resurrection was the spiritual resurrection that does in fact occur at the moment of salvation, this would be quite in keeping with NT imagery. In fact, you refer to Jesus’ statement in John 5:28 in pointing out the literal resurrection (which I do believe will occur in the future). But in that very context Jesus speaks of a spiritual resurrection, thereby theologically linking them. John 5:25 reads: “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”

    Perhaps later I will write some articles touching on your other themes. Thanks again for reading.

  5. Charles Law July 14, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    First of all thank you Dr. Gentry for publishing my post, I know you will disagree with me since your a Postmill/Partial Preterist. But the good thing is we can disagree without being disagreeable. I posted an almost same comment at a Full Preterist website and sadly they don’t publish posts that are not in line with their view. I appreciate that even though we differ in views you still posted it.

    I apologize for the long post, It’s just a culmination of my thoughts as I was reading your articles about the 4 views and their weaknesses. I thought Premil was indeed getting a bad reputation because of all the false date setting. I definitely agree with your free grace analogy…I’m thinking that too about Premil, there’s so many people like Harold Camping and Hal Lindsey, but it should not led in dismissing Historic Chilliasm.

    I read your link and it was nice regarding the OlivetD made easy, , we almost have the same exact thought, although I Still believe many of the signs did not happen in 70AD. One of them was the Great Tribulation – which the Lord Jesus said will be “Unparalleled since the beginning” and such immensity “will never happen again EVER!” …Josephus wrote the 70 AD seige cost 1 million+ lives and was indeed severe but It seems to pale in comparison to the destruction of Noahs flood, to the World War I/ World War II which has over 50 million deaths. not to mention the Holocaust which claimed 6 million Jewish lives. etc….it also talking about those days being “shortened for the elect/Christians” sake and if not “no flesh shall be saved”…talking about worldwide catastrophe that could wipe out ALL life…We really can’t ignore those facts and figures…what about the false Christs rising to deceive many, is Nero one of them Again?

    Regarding your final point about the 1st Resurrection, It’s my mistake that I was still thinking “Full Preterism” in making those comment, (you know the denial of the bodily resurrection) So thanks for the clarification. I just want to say I agree with you about the “spiritual Resurrection” in John 5:28, its indeed a resurrection. I’m just trying to point out John 5:28 in the context of the Millenial reign which is physical….John clearly speaks about Christian martyrs/those beheaded (not all believers) are those who are raised here. So v25 “spiritual meaning” seems to be a transition to the main point in v28 which is a “physical resurrection” from the Grave.

    I have so many other things to point out but in order to stay on topic. I would just reserve it in some other opportune time God willing in the future.

  6. Kenneth Gentry July 15, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Charles:

    Thanks for your note. You really need to read what I and other orthodox preterists teach about the Olivet Discourse. We are very much aware of Matt 24:21. And we have an easy answer to the supposed problem. In fact, it is right from the Bible itself. I highly recommend your reading a work on the matter before you critique the position. Who knows? You might be persuaded! 🙂

  7. John Barron July 17, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    What is your position on the first resurrection in revelation 20?

  8. Kenneth Gentry July 17, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Just above it and slightly to the left.

    Just kidding. Check out the article: PMT 2014-016. https://postmillennialismtoday.com/2014/02/05/millennial-reign-spiritual-resurrection/

  9. portadelafe August 9, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    I was looking for a SERIOUS article about Preterism, Sadly when I read the last two lines (Weaknesses) I realized this was not (It all fell like a house of cards).

  10. Kenneth Gentry August 14, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Try re-reading it without the last two lines. That might be helpful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: