In view of some recent podcasts attacking the preterist position of eschatology, we want to address some of the fears and misinformation being disseminated. Are problems with Preterism imaginery ideas born of fear and ignorance? Listening to some futurist eschatology podcasts and examining their writings one would think so. However, it’s always best to hear both sides of the story.
Preterism is now being defined and tagged as “extreme preterism” and “moderate preterism”,and even sometimes is styled “hyper preterism” versus “partial preterism.” There are other names but the purpose here is to present some distinction between the concepts above. By “extreme or hyper- preterism,” those who strongly disagree use inflammatory and derogatory terms to not only describe it but also to prejudice the minds of those who would otherwise express an interest in learning more about Preterism.
Preterism is defined as occurring in the past, and relating to Bible prophecy, it means that all events of Bible prophecy, including the second coming of Christ, the judgment, resurrection of the dead and end of the world happened in the past in 70 AD. Partial preterism, also styled as moderate, holds that all prophecies except the resurrection of the dead and the second coming of Christ have been fulfilled. These are the areas of serious debate on eschatology for the 21st century. All other views are virtually fading away from the polemic of eschatological discussion.
This is not to say that staunch adherents of dispensationalism and amillennilism do not remain active. They do. However, they are fast becoming the “blast of the past,” and unable to meet the weighty issues posed by the preterist discussions.
Failures of Futurist Bible Prophecy
Preterism constrasts with futurism, –the inglorious ever-failing prophecies of imminent doom and gloom which never come to pass. Christianity’s witness suffers from this epidemic of spasmodic hysteria. Prediction after prediction failed and continues to fail. People are tired of the “boys who cry wolf,” i.e. “Antichrist” and no one shows up. A quick stroll down history lane reveals all their failures. Today, President Obama is their man but not even he fits the bill. In the next few years, it will be another unsusupecting national or world leader who has to bear the brunt of this anathema.
Responses From A Futurist
Let’s take a look as some of the “fear responses” offered in an attempt to combat preterism. In his podcast dated Mar 26, 2008, Toby Logston, of EschatologyBiblePodcasts.com offered the following response and critiques of preterist views. We will address future responses in upcoming posts. Our responses follow his.
To his credit, Logston recognizes the inconsistency of partial (moderate preterism). Yet he feels “extreme” preterism is the most dangerous. The first of his reasons are that the fact that all prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, especially according to the imminent predictions by eminent men of the past 150 years means nothing because no man knows the day or the hour of Christ’s coming.
Moses’ Litmus Test of a False Prophet
This first part of this statement is embarrassing. It is also contradictory to the word of God. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 18:21-22, that a “prophet” who spoke in the name of the Lord and the event prophesied did not come to pass is evident that God has not spoken to that prophet. In other words he is a false prophet. Thus, for all futurist prophets and prophecies that have not come to pass, we have Moses’ testimony that they are liars. Logston, who was brash enough to call Preterists liars, says in effect Moses’ litmus test of prophecy doesn’t mean anything and therefore lies in the process.
The Day and Hour Argument
Secondly, he reasons that no man knows the day or the hour. Again, this is shallow reasoning and a failure to properly interpret the Biblical text. Jesus’ words of not knowing the day and the hour refer to the Old Covenant prophecy of Zechariah 14:7. It is the day of the Lord unknown. Yet here is what we can know about that day. One, it had to be fulfilled by the time all Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled. Whether one knows it or not doesn’t negate the occurrence of an event.
Jesus told a parable of a man who planted grain, slept night and day and his crop grew, but he didn’t know how. Yet, his ignorance did not prevent the crop from growing. There are millions of events which Logston has no clue of the day and hour of their occurrence. Yet, they will occur whether he knows it or not.
In addition, one can know more about an unknown event under two conditions. The first is that more information is given at a later time or date. Such is truly understandable. When Jesus first rose from the dead, his disciples did not know it. After their subsequent visits to the empty tomb and his appearances, they came to know what they did not know beforehand through additional revelation and experience.
Noah and the Flood
In the same manner, Noah did not know the precise day and hour of the flood. Yet, he knew it would come in his generation. That is why he faithfully labored to build the ark. God told him a flood was coming, but at the time, God did not disclose “the day and hour.” Then, as the time drew near, God spoke to Noah again with additional revelation and told him that withing seven more days, the flood would come, (Genesis 7:1-4). God revealed the time down to the very day. Noah knew seven days in advance of the actual flood. So the unknowns of today can become the knowns of tomorrow.
The righteous were not overtaken by that day as a thief, (1 Thessalonians 5:4; 1 John 2:18; Rev. 3:3). By contrast the wicked of Noah’s day did not know until the day the flood came and took them unawares. This coincides with God’s promise that he does nothing unless he first reveals it to his prophets. Noah was certainly a prophet. Any argument a futurist makes concerning not knowing the day and hour can be refuted by the examples of both Noah and Lot.
The day and hour of Matthew 24:36 is the time of the Lord’s coming in 70 AD. All would happen in that first century generation, Matthew 24:34. Nor are we to assume that the day of the Lord is one 24 hour day, but an eschatological epoch. That event is now past and we know that Rome destroyed the Old Covenant nation of Israel, Luke 21:20-22. According to Christ, this event manifested his coming in the clouds, i.e. the day of the Lord, Matthew 24:30.
Are Problems with Preterism Imaginary Born of Fear and Ignorance?
A Fatal Admission
Here is an interesting admission from Logston. He confessed in his podcast that throughout all his theological studies in colleges and seminaries and his exposure to “Bible Giant” professors, he had not heard one word about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. This admission is telling. It is also makes our very point in more ways than one. It proves the very point being made in Matthew 24:36. Read on to see what we mean.
In Matthew 24, Christ never gave the day and the hour for the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD! All he said was that it would occur within their generation. He also said they would recognize it when the Roman armies approached Jerusalem, Luke 21:20-22. This raises another very important question. How can anyone know that the day and hour of Matthew 24:36 is not the destruction of Jerusalem since Christ never specified he was speaking of another day or worse that was yet unknown to him, Mk. 13:32?
But here’s the woeful truth Logston must accept if he hopes to maintain any spec of credibility. He now knows what he did not know about the destruction of Jerusalem per his acknowledgment above. Further, he now knows the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, i.e. a day of the Lord which was unknown at the time Christ uttered those words. Therefore, his first objection to preterism is totally without merit.
It demonstrates the lack of critical thought detractors of preterism use when trying to offer critique. It would be interesting to see if Logston ever proves that the day and hour of the destruction of Jerusalem was known or revealed during the ministry of Christ?
Learn more about preterism. See our book, The Re-Examination.