Partial-Preterism, Preterism and Futurism

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Partial-Preterism, Preterism and Futurism

Postby natman » Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:40 pm

Partial-Preterism, Preterism and Futurism

We have been having an on-going conversation on another forum, and so, because of the number of well-read Christians on this forum, I thought I would carry on a similar strip here.

The intent of this strip is to lay out the basis of understanding the eschatological positions referred to as "Partial-Preterism", "(Full) Preterism" and "Futurism", and to discuss each position openly as we understand them, since there is considerable separation witin the church over these issues and the manner in which the Bible is interpreted to support them.

The exercise is intended to be enlightening, not argumentative, focused solely on particular positions and the scriptural and historical evidence to support them and not on the merits or demerits of the source authors, teachers or theologians.


As the OP, I would like to start out with my understanding of the definitions of each of these positions, which definitions may change in the course of this discussion. I would like to reserve the right to adjust these understandings in this OP as such understandings may change in the course of the discussion, such that, as we progress, this positions become more clearly and concisely defined.


Futurism:
Futurism, as it pertains to Biblical prophecy, is the theory that most of the events of Revelation, and the 70th week of Daniel 9, and the coming of Christ in Matthew 24 are to be fulfilled sometime in the future. Futurists generally believe that an individual will appear on the world stage who will usurp the place of Christ as the head of the Church. This individual, they anticipate, will deceive many people into believing that he is some kind of messiah. He will become a world-leader, and through his influence persecute Christians and Jews for a period of time. This person, futurists believe will be "the Antichrist".

Some Futurists believe that Christ will return at the beginning of Antichrist's reign to rescue (rapture) the faithful Christians and take them to heaven so that they are spared the seven years of "great tribulation" (Pre-Tribulational). Of these, some believe that it is necessary for the Nation of Israel to regain control of the Promised Land, to rebuild the Temple and to reinstitute Temple sacrifice as a precondition for the "rapture" and that the Jews that remain during the tibulation will be offered some other route to eternal salvation (Dispensationalism). After seven years Christ will return to earth with His saints to destroy Antichrist and establish His Kingdom on earth to last a thousand years (the Millenium), after which all evil will be sent into Hell and God will restore Heaven and Earth.

The other main view of Futurism holds that Christians will not be spared from the tribulation under the Antichrist. These Futurists believe that Christ will only return to rescue His Church and destroy the Antichrist at the end of seven years of persecution (Post-Tribulational).


(Full) Preterism:
Full Preterists believe all prophecy was fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem, including the resurrection of the dead and Jesus' Second Coming or Parousia. Full Preterism is also known by several other names: Consistent Preterism, Covenant Eschatology, Hyper-Preterism and Pantelism

Full Preterism holds that Jesus' Second Coming is to be viewed not as a future bodily return, but rather a "return" in glory manifested by the physical destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple in AD 70 by foreign armies in a manner similar to various Old Testament descriptions of God coming to destroy other nations in righteous judgment.

Full Preterism also holds that the Resurrection of the dead did not entail the raising of the physical body, but rather the resurrection of the soul from the "place of the dead," known as Sheol (Hebrew) or Hades (Greek).

Full Preterists typically reject the authority of the Creeds to condemn their view, stating that the Creeds were written by uninspired and fallible men, and that appeals should be made instead to the Scriptures themselves.


Partial Preterism:
Partial-Preterism holds that prophecies such as the destruction of Jerusalem, the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, and the advent of the Day of the Lord as a "judgment-coming" were fulfilled in AD 70 when the Roman general Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple, putting a permanent stop to animal sacrifices.

Most (but not all) Partial-Preterists also believe the term "Last Days" refers not to the last days of planet Earth or the last days of humankind, but rather to the last days of the Mosaic covenant which God had exclusively with national Israel until the year AD 70. As God came in judgment upon various nations in the Old Testament, Christ also came in judgment against those in Israel who rejected him. The "last days," however, are to be distinguished from the "last day", which is considered still future and entails the last coming of Jesus, the Resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous dead physically from the grave in like manner to Jesus' physical resurrection, the Final Judgment, and the restoration of the Heavens and the Earth free from the curse of sin and death.

Partial-Preterists contend that the phrase "Second Coming" means the second of a like kind in a series, for the Scriptures record other "comings" of God even before Jesus' judgment-coming in AD 70. This would eliminate the AD 70 event as the "second" of any series, let alone the second of a series in which the earthly, physical ministry of Christ is the first.

Partial-Preterists believe that the new creation comes in redemptive progression as Christ reigns from His heavenly throne, subjugating His enemies, and will eventually culminate in the destruction of the "last enemy," i.e., physical death (1 Cor 15:20-24). In the Partial Preterist paradigm, since enemies of Christ still exist, the resurrection event cannot have already occurred.

Nearly all Partial-Preterists hold to amillennialism or postmillennialism. Partial-Preterists typically accept the authority of the Creeds on the basis that they believe the Creeds are in conformity to what the Scriptures teach.
SON-cerely,
Nathan Powers

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Postby natman » Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:07 pm

Partial Preterism

Since I started this strip, I thought I would go ahead and offer my reasoning for coming to a Partial Preterist view of eschatology.

I find that when we read scripture for all it is worth, read scripture in light of scripture, I could come to no other conclusion than that most, but not all, of the prophesies that are bantered about in Christian circles have already come to pass.

Many of the "end time prophesies" come directly out of the book of Matthew, chapter 24. In it, Jesus is discussing the "end of the age" (v3) relative to the near-time destruction of the Temple, which did occur in AD70 (v1). He references the signs of THIS pending doom, wars and rumors of wars (vs 6), the persecution of Christians (v9), false teachers (v11), the "abomination that causes desolation", which is the placement of the Roman Standard, which was the representation of Caesar, considered to be a god, inside the Temple (v15) and the "great distress" (v21).

In it Jesus warns His listeners, Christian disciples, to heed the signs and to be ready to "flee for the mountains" (v16). He tells them that "this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened" (v34). Most importantly He tells them to always be prepared (v36).

Just before the destruction of the temple, there were many revolts and uprisings by the Jews against their Roman oppressor. During that time, there were many battles in and around Jerusalem, particularly in the valley of Megiddo, arguably one of the bloodiest places on Earth because it is well suited for open battle. [Megiddo]. The Roman Army began accumulating troops outside the city, then placed the Roman Standard inside the Temple. This was the sign that it was time for the Christians to flee, which most did.

Once the Romans had enough soldiers to lay siege to the city, they cut off all food and water supply into the city. Approximately 1.4 million Jews died, mostly from starvation. They even resorted to eating their dead. Many died from the pestilence that came with the rotting corpses. Finally the Romans entered the city, slaughtered any they found alive, sacked and burned the city and destroyed the Temple, removing every single stone, just as Jesus had described.

We see that Jesus uses "apocryphal" language that would have been very familiar to early Jewish Christians who would have been well versed in OT prophesy. Jesus spoke of "coming in clouds" (v30) which God does over and over again in the OT, not meaning that Jesus would come physically (at that time), but that judgement would be poured out on the nation of Israel. He speaks of the "sun being darkened", "the moon not giving it's light", "stars falling from the sky" and the shaking of "Heaven and Earth", all mentioned during outpourings of OT judgement.

This is supported by Jesus' own statements to his accusers prior to His crucifixion when, in Matthew 26:64, He tells the Sanhedrin "you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." He was saying His accusers would see it. And they understood exactly what He meant. They understood that He was proclaiming that He indeed was the Son of God and that He would judge them just as God had judged His people and other throughout OT scripture. That is why they sought to have Him killed.

The next thing Jesus speaks about after the Temple is the parable of the Ten Virgins, reiterating His warning to His followers that the Bridgroom was near. Be ready.

Ironically, Revelation is broken up into three main themes.
1. The Bride of Christ, the Church, a direct comparison of the Bride in Matt 25 (Rev 1-3).
2. The Apostate Bride, or the Whore, Apostate Israel and the Antichrist. This is a recapitulation of what Jesus said in Matt 24 and illuminates the OT example of the good and bad figs in Jer 24 as well as the fig tree in Matt 21 (Rev 4-18).
3. The Final Judgement, including the removal of all evil and the Restoration of Heaven and Earth (Rev 19-22).

The Antichrist and the Beast
Since Jesus day, there have always been "antichrists", those that would deny Jesus, or those that would attempt to replace Him.

However, there is one who could be considered the Arch-typical Antichrist, referred to as the "Beast" in Revelation, and that one person is Caesar Nero. To the 1st century Jewish Christian, he fit the description perfectly, down to the "number of his name", 666, according to the Hebrew practice of "gematria". This is confirmed by the fact that early Greek translations shifted the number to 616, allowing it to work with the Greek alphabet as well.

Taking the value of the Hebrew letters,
N=50
R=200
O=6
N=50
Q=100
S=60
R=200
=====
Total 666

In Greek,
N=50
R=200
O=6
Q=100
S=60
R=200
=====
Total 616

The Millennium and Satan Bound:
The concept of a literal 1000 year reign comes from one verse in Revelation 20:2-3, "He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. However, whenever large round numbers are used in scripture, they are usually understood to mean either a large, uncountable number of something, as in "God owns the cattle on a thousand hills", or a large, but limited number of something.

When Jesus died and then resurrected, Satan became aware that his efforts were greatly diminished. He had always been on a chain of sorts, only able to do what God allowed him to do, as demonstrated by the book of Job. However, after Jesus' resurrection, his chain was shortened all the more by the fact that even sin could not prevent people from coming into relationship with the Son of God forever. In apocryphal language, Satan has been bound, tightly leashed since then, and will remain so for a long, unspecified, but limited time, ("a thousand years"), until shortly after Jesus' final return in judgement, when he will be released long enough to gather up his minions from the corners of the Earth (seconds or days?). Then he will be cast along with them and every evil thing into the pit of fire.


the Rapture:
The verses that is most commonly used to point to a the "rapture" of the Church is 1 Thes 4:13-18, with the focus being on verse 17 which reads, "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." However, if this is read in it's context, it is clearly talking about THE RESURRECTION that will occur at the end of time. This is a constant theme of both Paul and John, the author of Revelation. 1 Cor 15:12-54, Phil 3:10-11.

John 5:28-29
"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned."

Rev 20:4-6
"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years."

The explanation I have come to accept on these verses is that there are five conditions of man.
1. Death, which is the spiritual condition we are born into.
2. The "first resurrection", which is the spiritual resurrection when we first accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
3. The "first death", which is the physical death or separation or the body and the soul.
4. The "second resurrection", which is a physical resurrection in which ALL people are raised from the dead, rejoining their souls and their bodies.
5. The "second death", which is the spiritual death that occurs when some are judges and sent to eternal torment.

That is why the saints will never be a part of the "second death".
SON-cerely,
Nathan Powers

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Postby natman » Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:38 pm

I'm surprised no one has added to this strip.

Is everyone on this site a partial-preterist?
SON-cerely,
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Postby Sean » Tue Oct 30, 2007 6:54 pm

All I know is, God wins. I'll leave the particulars and timing up to Him, and just focus on being faithful with what He's given me to do right here, right now.
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Postby jochanaan » Tue Oct 30, 2007 8:31 pm

I'm still thinking, natman...
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Postby timk » Tue Oct 30, 2007 11:09 pm

I've read the post and it is definitely interesting. You make some very good points. It has given me something to research and think about for sure.

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Postby natman » Wed Oct 31, 2007 8:22 am

Thanks guys. The reason I started this thread is to gain understanding into the more recent divisions within the church. Many of the dividing points are on issues that we can vigorously debate about, but that have little or no consequence as to our salvation or to how we relate to others in and out of the Church. This would probably include such discussion points as young or old Earth, infant baptism and predestination. Other points definitely affect salvation, such as the diety of Jesus, the Trinity, works. Still others, although they do not affect our personal salvation, probably affect how we relate to others, now or at a time of percieved tribulation. I think that our eschatological view falls into this category.

Sean wrote:All I know is, God wins. I'll leave the particulars and timing up to Him, and just focus on being faithful with what He's given me to do right here, right now.


In general, I believe this is a good view to have. As a partial-preterist, believing that the only propehsy that remains is that of the final return of Christ to resurrect the dead, transform the living, judge all to everlasting life or everlasting torment, restore the Heavens and the Earth to it's pre-fallen state and to establish His throne here forever and ever, I believe that we are to do exactly what you say. We should not be wasting our time, effort and resources watching for the advent of "The Antichrist" or preparing for the worst tribulation the world has ever seen, huddling in fear everytime the news papers read of the threat of war. These are all simply distractions form our given task of spreading the Gospel to every tongue, every tribe and every nation, including the Jews in and out of Israel.
SON-cerely,
Nathan Powers

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Postby natman » Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:22 am

This is TOTALLY AMAZING!!!

It has been an entire week since I posted my OP in the strip and not a single person has stepped up to discuss other viewpoints. Considering how well-read and knowledgable our members are, I was assuming there would be some who hold strongly to positions other than partial-preterism that would be willing and able to support such positions.
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Postby jochanaan » Thu Nov 01, 2007 1:12 pm

Well, natman, since I don't hold strongly to any view but the "God wins" view Sean articulated, I don't see much reason to debate the matter. :)

However, I do have a question: The traditional view is that Revelation was written sometime after 90 AD--two decades AFTER Jerusalem had been destroyed, well after the end of Caesar Nero's reign. If this is true, why then would John have "seen" something about which most Christians would already have reached a conclusion? :?:
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Postby Strandloper » Thu Nov 01, 2007 1:50 pm

Jochanaan wrote: “Well, natman, since I don't hold strongly to any view but the ‘God wins’ view Sean articulated, I don't see much reason to debate the matter.”

My sentiments exactly. And this has been discussed at length on Naturist Christians.
All the same, I would be interested in Nathan’s response to Jochanaan’s question.
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Postby natman » Thu Nov 01, 2007 4:09 pm

jochanaan wrote:Well, natman, since I don't hold strongly to any view but the "God wins" view Sean articulated, I don't see much reason to debate the matter.


I consider the matter VERY important in that a persons view of eschatology can have considerable affect on their desire to witness to others. As we have seen over and over again in the last two centuries, when a well respected "prophet" announces that he has pinpointed the return of Jesus, many forsake witnessing to others in order to prepare themselves and their families for His emenant return, often selling all they have or stocking up on provisions so that they will not be caught lacking, supposedly when the Antichrist prohibits them from purchasing goods. Another group sees little or no need to witness the Gospel to a particular race of people, the Jews, because they believe that after the Christians are "raptured" out of the scene, God will provide some other route to salvation, but not until temple sacrifice is reinstituted and two-third are destroyed in the bloodiest battle that has ever been seen.

In that sense, millions of lives and souls are at stake.

However, I do have a question: The traditional view is that Revelation was written sometime after 90 AD--two decades AFTER Jerusalem had been destroyed, well after the end of Caesar Nero's reign. If this is true, why then would John have "seen" something about which most Christians would already have reached a conclusion? :?:


Probably the three biggest indicators that Revelation was most likely originally written BEFORE 70AD are these internal evidences.

1. In Revelation 1:1-3, John writes, "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place... Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near."

2. In Revelation 11:1-3, John is given a rod and told, ""Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth."

First, how can John measure a temple that is already no longer there. Had it been gone, he would have been instructed to note what the measurements "used to be".

Secondly, the verses speak precisely of the amount of time that Titus laid seige to Jerusalem and ultimately destroyed the Temple.

3. Had the Temple already been destroyed by the time of the writing of Revelation, John would have surely mentioned it as a recent past event that changed the life of the Jews and their form of worship forever, much as we refer to America as being post-9/11. At a minimum, it would have been seen as the single greatest fulfilled prophesy tht Jesus made during His time on Earth.

4. The mention of the "number of the name of the Beast" being "666" in Hebrew and "616" in the Greek ties directly to the number of the name of Caesar Nero in each language, the practice of "gamatria", in addition to the fact that "The Beast" was a common nick-name attributed to Nero for his propensity for dressing up in animal skins and devouring the genitals of young boys that were tied to stakes for the entertainment of himself and his court.

5. Revelation 13 refers to the seven-headed "Beast that came out of the sea". Under Nero, Vespasian attacked Israel by sea. Interestingly, also, Rome was commonly referred to as the "City on Seven Hills", however, of more import is the link to the fact that one of the heads of the beast has a fatal wound which is later healed. Nero committed suicide in 68AD and by the end of the year, an even more tyranical emperor, Vespasian, had taken his place, giving credence to the notion that the seven heads symbloized the first seven emperors of the Roman Empire.

Also,

Rev 17:9-11
"This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction."


The Roman Emperors were:

The five that have fallen
Julius Caesar (48 BC - 44 BC)
Augustus (27 BC-14 AD)
Tiberius ( 14-37 AD)
Caligula (37-41 AD)
Claudius (41-54 AD)

The one that is
Nero (54-68 AD)

The one that is to come
Vespasian ( 69-79 AD)
SON-cerely,
Nathan Powers

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Postby natman » Thu Nov 01, 2007 4:23 pm

Strandloper wrote:this has been discussed at length on Naturist Christians.


I have been working on this study for some time. The problem I have run into with other "Christian"-only sites and Naturist Christians is that there does not appear to be a very cohesive, concise and logical argument presented by those presenting any of many flavors of "futurist" views. With the prevelance of such a view permeating the church today, I find that to be VERY disturbing.

What I have experienced so far is Bible hopping, bouncing all over the Bible, taking verses out of context, assiging different meaning to phrases, metaphoric and allegoric language, and then finally disappearing from the conversation altogether.

I understand that my constant rebuttal can be frustrating at times, however, just as I did in trying to understand the concept of "Christian-naturism", I feel a need to challenge some long-held beliefs in order to get to the truth of the matter. However firmly I currently hold my viewpoint, like naturism, I believe I am changable, IF there is ample evidence.
SON-cerely,
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Postby jochanaan » Thu Nov 01, 2007 6:21 pm

natman wrote:I consider the matter VERY important in that a persons view of eschatology can have considerable affect on their desire to witness to others. As we have seen over and over again in the last two centuries, when a well respected "prophet" announces that he has pinpointed the return of Jesus, many forsake witnessing to others...

Point taken. However, when even a "well-respected prophet" announces a date, I lose all respect for him. "No man knoweth the day or the hour," said the most well-respected Prophet of all.
natman wrote:Probably the three biggest indicators that Revelation was most likely originally written BEFORE 70AD are these internal evidences...

Those are all "circumstantial" at best. But John pinpoints the date of his revelation very precisely: "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." (ch. 1:9) At least, this would be a precise point if we knew exactly when John was on Patmos; I am not familiar with any Scripture that gives that information. Is there external evidence regarding John's exile to Patmos?
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Postby natman » Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:09 pm

jochanaan wrote:Those are all "circumstantial" at best.


Unfortunately, at this point, I believe that all of the evidence we have would probably be considered "circumstantial" as I doubt we will ever find a stone or a clay tablet inscribed by John in or around the Isle of Patmos that says "John the Apostle and Disciple of Jesus, 68AD" (or something to that affect).

All we have are the words of John recorded in Revelation which mentions the Temple as if it were currently still in existence and a brief declaration by Irenaeus in which he mentions John on the Isle of Patmos during the reign of "Domitianou". Initially scholars assumed that meant during the reign of Domitian, however, the name also applied to Nero.

If we are willing to throw out the testimony of John as "circumstantial", we should probably throw out the majority of the New and Old Testament as well, however, as a historical document, the entirety of the Bible, especially the New Testament, including Revelation is outstanding in it's class.
SON-cerely,
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Postby natman » Mon Nov 05, 2007 3:44 pm

Tickle - tickle!!!

It appears this topic has fallen asleep again. I am in the middle of a Bible study in which we are discussing many of the aspects of these positions so I am extremely interested in what others have to say and how they would have come to the conclusions they have, whether pro, con or completely different. I can present the canned answers I have built up from my own partial-preterist position, however, I feel that nearly similar to setting up a straw man and knocking it down, presenting an unfair advantage to the discussion.
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