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Answering a correspondent about full-preterism

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Answering a correspondent about full-preterism

Postby steve » Sat Jul 21, 2018 8:58 am

I received the following email today, and sent the response posted below:


Hi Steve,
Why are so many teachers and pastors are reluctant to deal with full-preterism? Is it because we really can’t refute that teaching? I have listen to you debate Don Preston you said that he makes a strong argument for that position. Are you going to do anything in the future regarding full-preterism? I live in New England and it has divided so many people in the body of Christ, but I believe that God has brought me to your website because you have the love for Gods truth and nothing else. I love the truth that you hold to The Word God. Thank you for all you do! You’re always in my prayer to keep you faithful in his word blessing always in wisdom and truth. God Bless.—Joe


Hi Joe,

Yes, I do intend to give some lectures refuting full-preterism. I simply am waiting for the proper venue to come up. I am already prepared. I have not yet gotten used to this new-fangled thing of sitting in front of a computer in an empty room to give a presentation. I am still more comfortable teaching to an audience of people that I can see.

I did, indeed, say that some of Don Preston's arguments were good, because some of them were. Of course, some of the arguments for Calvinism and some of them for a flat earth also sound strong, at first blush, but are not fully persuasive to a careful analyst.

Also, of course, the majority of passages expounded by a full-preterist would be understood the same way by a partial preterist, so I have no difficulty registering my agreement with many points, and acknowledging the prima facie strength of some arguments with which I disagree.

Some of his arguments were, in my judgment, fatally weak (e.g., his explanation of Jesus’ statement about no marriage in the resurrection), and proved that there are scriptures concerning the second coming that one can't really make good sense of from his system.

One reason I don’t deal with the subject more often is that I have not been able to get excited about this controversy. It has never been a front-burner topic for me. I have never, when questioning full-preterists, been able to elicit a sensible answer to the all-important question: “How would my becoming a full-preterist enhance my walk with Jesus every day?” Since they cannot give (and I cannot imagine) a credible answer to this essential question, I have seen the whole controversy only as a slightly-annoying distraction from Christian priorities.

I am willing to discuss and debate many theological controversies that are merely matters of curiosity (and often do so). However, I can only really get excited about questions that are relevant to discipleship—since a man holding a wrong view of eschatology may be held in as high regard before God as a man with a correct view on it. However, one will not be held in high regard before God who devotes his ministry to sowing discord among brethren (Prov.6:16-19). I become concerned about any otherwise-godly man who devotes the majority of his ministry to a doctrine that has no practical ramifications for Christian obedience, and which has no effect on the church other than to agitate and divide the brethren.

I believe that the church has been correct—for the past 2,000 years—on a few things, at least. One of them has been its unanimous belief in a future, literal resurrection from the dead (one of the foundational issues of the true Christian faith—Hebrews 6:1-2), and full-preterism has not been able to successfully assail that central truth with anything really threatening to an honest biblical exegete.

When I first became a partial-preterist, of course, the most natural question was, "Should this idea be applied, perhaps, to all eschatological passages?” I considered it with an open mind, but had to rule it out. Full-preterist exegesis paints (to my mind, recklessly) with a broad brush. Responsible biblical exegesis, like mathematics, has to be done with a pencil and an eraser.

Blessings!

Steve Gregg
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Re: Answering a correspondent about full-preterism

Postby mattrose » Sat Jul 21, 2018 9:47 am

Quote from the email you received...
"I live in New England and it has divided so many people in the body of Christ"

This is the line that struck me. I've been pastoring in NY State, now, for 15+ years and I can honestly say I've NEVER come across full preterism other than on the internet. Of course, I'm not accusing the emailer of lying about their context. I just find it interesting. It has been my experience that full-preterism has been simply an internet phenomenon and not a real point of division in local churches. Probably the only reason anyone in my area would have even 'heard' of full preterism is if I happened to mention it.
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Re: Answering a correspondent about full-preterism

Postby Paidion » Sat Jul 21, 2018 7:18 pm

Matt, have you ever heard of "pantelism"? Even on the internet? One might say it's full preterism carried to its utter limit. But I'm not even sure of that. Most of the time I can't make sense of it.
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Re: Answering a correspondent about full-preterism

Postby steve » Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:48 am

There has been continued dialogue on this question on Facebook. One correspondent in particular, named Alex, has stepped up to my challenge. He and I have sparred a bit, in the following posts:

Steve, I would disagree with your statement about preterism being “a doctrine that has no practical ramifications for Christian obedience, and which has no effect on the church other than to agitate and divide the brethren.” I can think of two very important reasons why this issue is so important.

First, as you know, the main argument against Christianity is that Jesus was a false prophet. In the Bible, Jesus and his disciples said over and over, in many different ways, that he would return in that generation (before they tasted death, soon, etc). You can try to explain away the time texts all you want, but the words of Jesus and his disciples are clear—and any unbiased reader sees it. Preterism turns this argument against Jesus into an argument for Jesus.

Second, how many Salvation Armies have NOT been started because of futurists proclaiming that Jesus is coming soon to fix the world? If Jesus already returned (like he said he would), then that means it is up to us Christians—his hands and feet—to fix the world. The sooner the Church realizes this, the better off the world will be.


Hi Alex,

Neither of your points are telling against my assertion.

First, because partial preterism does as well as full-preterism in proving Jesus' predictions to be true. The partial preterist does not compromise the time texts, but does not find time texts associated with every predicted event—e.g., the resurrection and the end of the world (I guess there is a time-text for those, but that time is called "1,000 years"—Rev.20).

I am arguing that moving from partial to full-preterism has no impact practically on one's behavior. It would certainly not have an impact on your first point.

It seems that what would make prophecy look goofy to the unbeliever would be if you told Him that Jesus came back in AD70, emptied all the graves, carried the living saints into the clouds, destroyed this cosmos and replaced it with a new one, destroyed the devil, who had been the inspiration for all evil behavior for the previous 4000 years (have you noticed the improvement?) and that, since that time, people no longer either marry nor die. Hey, I'm not even an unbeliever, and that even makes it sound hokey to me!

Second, the failure to evangelize is aggravated, in some cases, by bad eschatology—but only in people who become so obsessed with eschatology as to be distracted from the main issues of Christianity. But the only people I know who seem to fit that description are certain dispensationalists and full-preterists.

The great missionaries and world changers in Christian history have been believers in a future second coming of Christ. There is no evidence that any of these people would have become more effective or energetic in their efforts had they converted to full-preterism.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, but I have to stand by my statements.


Steve, I agree that partial preterism answers the time texts better than dispensationalism, but it still denies an awful lot, which cannot but effect skeptics and believers alike. For example, most partial preterists would deny that the Son of Man came in the glory of his Father with his angels and repayed every man according to his deeds…even though Jesus clearly said that would happen before his first-century audience "tasted death" (Mat. 16:27-28). Explaining away such obvious statements is like saying Jesus was wrong, which gives skeptics (atheists, Muslims, etc.) a reason to reject Christianity. And this also sows seeds of doubt in believers too, as to whether the Bible is actually true. And doubt cannot but affect a believer's behavior and choices.

It may seem hokey to you that this could have happened, but what if Jesus’ coming was never supposed to be any different than the many Old Testament comings of Jehovah? And what if bodies were never supposed to literally be resurrected? Didn’t Jesus say things like “he who obeys my commands will never die”? That sure seems spiritual to me. And the fact the Hymenaeus and Philetus could become a “cancer” also seems to indicate that the resurrection was not physical. After all, all he would have had to do to stop this “cancer” was take them to a graveyard, dig up a grave, and prove that the resurrection had not happened yet.

As for there not being any time texts related to the resurrection, I would disagree. Here are a few:
--First, Acts 24:14 says that there was (in the first century) “about to be a rising of the dead” (Young’s Literal Translation). Other passages say there was “about to be a judging of the living and dead” (1 Peter 4:5; 2 Timothy 4:1—YLT).
--Second, the first century Christians expected to be alive at the resurrection: “We who are alive and remain…” (1 Thes. 4:15-17); “We shall not all sleep…(1 Cor. 15:51-54).
--Third, Matthew 13:36-43 said that the judgment would happen “at the end of the age,” and Jesus said the “end of the age” would happen before his generation passed away (Mat 24:3, 34).
--Forth, Daniel 12:2-3 said the resurrection would happen right after the tribulation, and the tribulation happened just before the temple fell in 70 AD (which means the resurrection did too). Further, Daniel 12:3 said that after the resurrection, the righteous would shine like the sun…which Mat 13:43 said would happen at the “end of the age” (again, which Jesus said would be in this generation).

As to changing the world, you’re right that futurists have done great things (and some bad, I might add). And you’re also right that I don’t have evidence that futurism has de-motivated people to act. However, common sense seems to suggest that if you believe someone else is going to fix something, why do it yourself…especially if you believe the world is destined to go to hell in a hand basket and there is nothing you can do about it? This too effects believers.


Hi Alex,

Thanks for writing. For almost every point you raised, you can find my answer in my verse-by-verse lectures on those passages.

I think an exception would be in the use of "mello" (the Greek word for "about to..." in Acts 24:15 (and quite a lot of other passages—some of them about eschatological events). Like every translator (except the Amplified Bible, of course) Young has to choose one English word or phrase to translate each Greek word, even if the Greek word is known to have various meanings or nuances.

"Mello" often does mean "about to..." and that is the choice Young's Translation chooses—very legitimately, I might add. However, mello does not always mean that a thing is "about to" take place, but only that it "will certainly" take place because of a divine decree. Hence the lexicons define it thus:

“…signifying intention, being about to do something…certainty, compulsion or necessity; to be certain to act…” (Zodhiates, Lexical Aids to the New Testament)

“…to be on the point of doing or suffering something…intend, have in mind… As in Greek writings from Homer down, of those things which will come to pass (or which one will do or suffer) by fixed necessity or divine appointment…in general, of what is sure to happen…” (Thayer’s Lexicon)

“ be on the point of, about to…be destined, inevitable…intend, propose, have in mind…denoting an action that necessarily follows a divine decree—is destined, must, will certainly” (BAG—Baur, Arnt, Gingrich Lexicon)

1. Cases where mello probably speaks of things fulfilled in AD70 (Rev.1:19)

2. Cases where eschatological events are said to be “about to” take place” (Matt.16:27; Acts 17:31; 24:15, 25; 2 Tim.4:1; 1 Pet.5:1)

3. Cases where thing not impending were referred to as "mello" (about to) happen (John 6:71; Acts 13:34; 26:22; Rom.5:14; Gal.3:23; Heb.11:8, 20; 2 Pet.2:6)

Don Preston leaned heavily in his debate upon the use of "mello" in several important passages. The problem is that, none of the cases necessarily must be translated as "about to."

The case of the heretics, Hymenaeus and Philetus, who claimed the resurrection had passed is an interesting one (2 Tim.2:18). How did they make their case? I suspect it is just as you would suggest—namely, they spiritualized the resurrection, and denied a physical resurrection altogether. This is why they were regarded as heretics.

By claiming the resurrection was only spiritual (and thus imperceptible by human eyes) they could fool the gullible, just as Seventh-Day Adventist Ellen G. White, and also the Jehovah's Witnesses, were able to persuade their followers that their failed predictions of Christ's coming actually occurred invisibly. Who can prove them wrong?

And those who wished to spiritualize the resurrection could even point to John 5:24 in favor of such a resurrection, or even to Paul (Eph.2:5; Col.2:12). But, of course, both Jesus and Paul spoke of something that had occurred in the believers at conversion, and long before AD70. It was not future from Jesus or Paul's standpoint. The "spiritual resurrection" occurring at conversion was a the only "spiritual" one mentioned in scripture. However, Jesus and Paul both spoke, additionally, of a future, physical resurrection on the last day (John 5:28-29, 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 1 Cor.15:12-26). It is apparent that the two heretical teachers were affirming only the spiritual, and denying the physical, resurrection—the same error as you are making.

Don Preston (apparently, like yourself) thinks the resurrection is spiritual because he believes that the death incurred by Adam's sin was strictly spiritual. In response, all I can say is, if Adam incurred a spiritual death when he sinned, God did not mention it (Read Genesis 2-3), nor did any biblical writer.

What God mentioned was that Adam's physical body, which had been made of dust, would return to the dust (Gen.3:19), and God assured this result by banning him from the tree of life, which would have granted him physical immortality.

Preston's argument partially depends upon his claim that the New Testament usage of the expression (in Greek) "the death" (including the definite article) is a technical term referring to something other than physical death. However, the Greek New Testament does not agree with him (see the Greek in Matt.15:4; 2 Corinthians 1:9; Col.1:22; Rev.9:6, where "the death" occurs).

As for your other points, I recommend you hear my commentary in my lectures, as it would clearly take thousands of key-strokes to adequately cover them here. Or you can trust me, that I (and the church through the ages)have an exegetical solution that does not require twisting scriptures to deny one of the major Christian doctrines taught by Christ and the apostles. If you listen to those, and find my answers inadequate, feel free to bring them up here for further discussion.

As for our original point, I would be blessed to hear your personal testimony of conversion to full-preterism—specifically, how it has caused you to live a humbler, holier life, and to love more sacrificially, than you did before adopting the view. That is my primary interest.


Hi Steve. Thanks for taking the time to respond. Although there are way too many subjects to address here—we’ve opened a can of worms—I’ll respond to some of your points.

First, you say that John spoke about a future physical resurrection on “the last day.” However, by the time of John’s later writings, it was not only the last day, it was already the last hour! (1 John 2:18). To get 2000 years (and counting) out of that “last hour” goes against what the Scripture says. I think it makes much more sense to say John’s “last day” referred to the last day of the Old Covenant, which officially ended in 70AD. That’s the reason for all the immanency on just about every page of the New Testament. Time was almost up. Jesus was coming—soon! (not thousands of years later).

Regarding John 5:25-28, the time that “now is” probably referred to Christians that were at that time being “resurrected” (made alive) at their conversions. And “the time that is coming” probably referred to the future-to-them 70AD resurrection of the Old Covenant saints that were waiting in Hades. These resurrection verses in John 5 are no more physical than Ez 37:11-14. They both have to do with restoration of God’s people into relationship to God—not bodies literally coming out of graves.

By the way, I think you have a good point about the pre-70AD resurrection passages regarding Christians, but these things may have been said proleptically. In other words, maybe even Christians were not technically resurrected before 70AD—until Jesus returned a second time to bring salvation to those waiting (Heb 9:27). But in any case, since Jesus and his disciples said over and over that he would come within that generation, I take the Bible over the creeds.

I think you might have missed my point about H & F (the heretics of 2 Tim 2:18). They claimed the resurrection had already happened, and Paul said their teaching was spreading like “gangrene.” (I take that to mean they were convincing many Christians.) But if the resurrection is supposed to be physical—as you say—all Paul would have had to do to stop this “gangrene” from spreading was to take his disciples to a graveyard, dig up a grave, and prove that the body was still there. However, if the resurrection is spiritual—as I say—that would explain how H&F could become “gangrene.” A spiritual resurrection would not have been so easy to disprove.

As to “twisting scriptures to deny one of the major Christian doctrines taught by Christ and the apostles”… I think we have to be careful not to elevate the word of man (the creeds) above the Word of God. If the Bible says Jesus would come within a generation—and it does, again and again—then we have to believe it, especially since we have all the proof in the world in the events of 70AD. Jesus came in the same way Jehovah did in the many Old Testament comings! Like Father, like Son.


Alex,

As I said in my original post, the matter is not a front-burner issue for me, as it is to full-preterists, which means it is hardly worth my time to repeat the same points endlessly in a dialogue with those whose paradigm seems to take precedence over exegesis. I cannot continue to answer every point here—only because I know it won't end there—or ever! I have higher priorities—for the very reason I gave in my original post: It has zero practical importance.

I originally answered you because you challenged this very point made in my assertion that full-preterism has no direct benefit to a Christian's holiness or walk with God. You gave two arguments, which I refuted (above).

You have now drifted from that to the general defense of full-preterism, with which I am very familiar, and against which to argue is like beating one's head on a brick wall, so far as progress in understanding is concerned.

I would still welcome you to consult my verse-by-verse lectures on any of the verses I have here left unaddressed. Those lectures are more thorough than you might imagine.

In your most recent post, you apparently fail to see the obvious fact that every point you made works as well for partial-preterism as for full-preterism—meaning, nothing you wrote serves as an argument for your specific position, as opposed to mine.

Observing that Ezekiel 37 uses imagery of resurrection in a figurative sense (as do Hosea 6:2, Romans 11:15, 2 Cor.1:10, and other passages) produces no justification for neglecting the contextual exegesis of Jesus' and Paul's resurrection teachings. One might as readily point out that a "lamb" is used symbolically in Revelation, and, on that basis, to assert that every reference to lambs in the Bible must, therefore, be non-literal.

As for your thinking I missed your point about the two heretics, I did not miss it. It actually seems that you missed my point in my answering it. Let me state my answer more clearly:

Christians like Paul believed in two resurrections—one spiritual, which takes place at conversion (no evidence for prolepticism in Paul's teaching on this can be adduced without the imposition of an artificial paradigm), and one physical. The latter is said to have its analogue ("first fruits") in the resurrection of Christ Himself, which was physical. Where the first fruits of a harvest is a physical resurrection, there are no grounds for denying the same character of the whole harvest.

The heretics in question were teaching that the first of these resurrections was the only one promised by Christ, and that there would be no additional, physical resurrection in the future.

There would seem to be no motive for them to fabricate such a doctrine, unless they were gnostics (which seems almost certain), and their objection to the second resurrection was due to its physicality. We find that this was the great point of contention between Christians and Greeks, as it was between Pharisees and Sadducees.Their denial of the physicality of the resurrection would be the heresy that Paul found objectionable, not only in them, but also in the heretics of Corinthians 15:12. We know that the Greeks denied physical resurrection, and even mocked at Paul's reference to the resurrection of Christ (Acts 17:32).

You ask how the church could come under such deception, if, in fact, the physical resurrection was the true doctrine they had been taught by Paul? Are you unaware of church history? Large sectors of the church have departed from apostolic doctrine as soon as the first heretic comes along to contradict the apostles (Gal.1:6).

Almost every truth that Paul taught was challenged by libertines, Judaizers, gnostics, etc. The fact that all of these doctrines were the exact opposites of what Paul taught did not prevent them from spreading like cancer in the churches. That is the clearest thing we gain by reading Paul's letters.

To say, "Paul did not preach a physical resurrection, because this would have prevented gnostic heresy to take hold in the churches," is as reasonable as saying, "Jesus never said that church leaders should be servants (Matt.20:26-28), or else we would not find leaders like Diotrephes who loved to have the preeminence (3 John 9).

It is terrible exegesis to decide what Paul must, or must not, have believed by appeal to the misrepresentation of the heretics.



Steve, with all due respect, I don’t think you refuted my original two arguments. And I don’t think I drifted; you did by claiming there are no time texts referring to the resurrection, and then calling my view "goofy." And now you’ve said something else I don’t agree with, and that is that Scripture teaches a second (physical) resurrection.

Jesus was physically resurrected, yes. And, yes, Jesus was the “first fruit.” However, since Jesus was NOT the first to be physically resurrected, that means “first fruit” cannot possibly refer to Jesus’ physical resurrection. Instead, “first fruit” refers to Jesus’ spiritual resurrection. Jesus’ physical resurrection was a sign (John 20:33-31) that proved the unseen spiritual resurrection. It’s like when Jesus healed the paralytic to prove that he could forgive sins; or when Jesus told Caiaphas that he was the Son of God, and would prove it when he came on clouds of glory in 70AD. Talk is cheap, but visible signs/miracles proved the unseen things.

Moreover, you cannot put a 2000 year gap between the “first fruit” and the rest of the fruits. The “first fruit” signified that the harvest was at hand! As I already said in my previous post, I believe John 5:28’s “hour that is coming” referred to the future-to-them resurrection of the Old Testament saints who were in Hades (which happened in 70AD). It has nothing to do with a physical resurrection.

Further, Jesus and his disciples said over and over that all the promises made to Israel had to be fulfilled in that first century. In Matthew 5, Jesus said not one jot or tittle of the Old Covenant would pass until all (of the promises) were fulfilled. In Luke 21:22, Jesus said that those first-century days were the days when all things (promises made to Old Testament saints) would be fulfilled. Peter said those first-century days were the days that the Old Testament saints longed for (Acts 3:24). The resurrection of Old Covenant saints had to happen before that old covenant passed away.

Add to this all the resurrection time texts in my previous post (which I know you tried to explain away). There are just too many verses, Steve. The evidence is overwhelming against your view—no matter what the creeds say.


Alex,

I did indeed refute your two original points—and you acknowledged this yourself, in your response. In case you forgot my arguments:

1) Partial-preterists make as good sense out of the time texts as do the full-preterists, but without involving themselves in ridiculous claims; and

2) Futurism, not full-preterism, has inspired the majority of missionary movements and social reformations that have taken place in church history.

You partially acknowledged the first, and fully acknowledged the second. You should have fully acknowledged both, since both are fully true.

************************************

It is interesting that you are so certain that the resurrection is not to be physical, when there is not one verse affirming your view of its non-physicality.

There is even a whole school of full-preterists who agree that the New Testament predicts a physical resurrection, who are thereby forced to the absurd claim that all the dead physically rose, and all living Christians were raptured, in or about AD70.

Who can blame them? Their paradigm forces them to say everything happened by AD70, and the evidence for the physicality of the resurrection is overwhelming. By contrast, the biblical statements about the non-physicality of the final resurrection are...well, where ARE they, exactly?

Paul said his view of resurrection agreed with that of the Pharisees (Acts 24:15), who believed in a literal resurrection on the last day, not a spiritual one. Jesus said (John 5:28) that the second resurrection would involve the emptying of the "graves" (that's where dead bodies are, currently).

He was not referring to the same thing as was Ezekiel 37:12, since Ezekiel's prophecy was fulfilled in 539 BC. Ezekiel's metaphorical resurrection only involved God's own people in exile, returning to Palestine. Jesus' resurrection includes the good and the bad (John 5:28-29), and consigns the two groups to eternal life and to condemnation, respectively. Any attempted parallel between Ezekiel's prophecy and Jesus' is a tortured one.

***********************************

I have asked full-preterists numerous times, and I will ask you now, what exactly changed in the spiritual experience of the Christian Church in AD70, that they did not already have from Pentecost, AD30, onward? The New Creation? Nope, that existed earlier (2 Cor.5:17). Passing from spiritual death to spiritual life? Nope, that was before AD70 also (John 5:24; Eph.2:6; 1 John 5:11-12). The saints being spiritually elevated to heaven? Nope, that had already happened too (Eph.2:6).

So, if there was this earth-shaking change in the church's spiritual fortunes in AD70, what exactly was it? What did it look like? Would the ultimate hope and glorification of the church, when it happened, add nothing to what the church had from the beginning?

What was its significance to the church? Vindication against its Jewish persecutors? When, then, might we expect the church's vindication against its Roman, Papist, Communist and Islamist persecutors in the centuries that followed? These took a much worse toll on the saints than did any Jewish persecutions prior to AD70.

Was the church better off after AD70 than before?—subsequent church history would not encourage this suggestion.

******************************

I have discounted no time-texts. To say that something is "about to" (Gr. mello) happen is not a time-text, any more than "Moses and the prophets" speaking about New Testament events "about to" (mello) happen could have been construed as a time-text (Acts 26:22).

Full-preterists always say that Paul affirmed the resurrection and second coming would come in the lifetime of himself and his readers (the so-called "original audience" interpretation of "we"): e.g.,"We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord..."(1 Thess.4:15). "We" speaks of some solidarity of which Paul regards himself and his readers a part. Who is, and who is not, included in that solidarity?

The "original audience" interpretation, affirmed by all full-preterists, imagines that "we", in Paul's mind, could only include himself and the original readers in Thessalonika. To admit anyone outside Thessalonika would immediately cause their "original audience" limitation to fall to pieces. He only wrote these words to the Thessalonians specifically living at the moment he penned the letter.

Did he have no one else in mind? Not the Christians living in other churches in other towns? If he did, then we cannot affirm the "original audience" limitation on "we," since his "original audience" was limited, in both time and space, and we are violating the space limitation. To allow that Paul thought other contemporary Christians, living further away, would also experience what he is describing, and that he would include them in his "we," the interpreter would have to say that "we" means "I and you in Thessalonika—as well as other Christians now living in other places who are not you and I."

But then we give away the whole farm! If Paul's solidarity of inclusion includes Christians living at other places that in Thessalonika, we have crossed the spacial boundaries of the "original audience." Might we, then, be forced also to include Christians living at other times in that solidarity, as well? This will not do for full-preterism.

Let's be very strict, and say that, when Paul says "we," he only means himself and the original Thessalonian Christian readers. But what if additional children were born to members of that church, who were not yet part of the Thessalonians church when Paul wrote? Would they be excluded from Paul's solidarity?

If we might allow, in Paul's solidarity of fellowship, Christians in Thessalonika not yet born when Paul wrote, are we not endangering our "time-text"? After all, if "we" might include Christians not yet born when this was written, why could it not include the children of those children, and their grandchildren, and great, great grandchildren? Once we let that horse out of the barn, there is no getting it back in! The solidarity might include all Christians of all time!

To avoid including Christians living in the 21st century from Paul's inclusive "we," the interpreter must insist that only the church members living at the moment Paul wrote (not their children, and possibly grandchildren, who might be born in the 20-year interim between the date of writing and AD70) are in Paul's mind.

If Paul's "we" means only "Paul and those he is immediately addressing," (which I and the historic church would deny), and if he was talking about AD70, then he was quite wrong, at least about himself, since he died no later than AD 68. If he was mistaken about one party of the "we," then there is a good chance he would be wrong about the others in the "original audience" that he was addressing. Maybe he just missed the whole prediction by a mile!

Of course, Paul did not affirm any such thing, except in the imaginations of some who have no idea how Paul understood the whole body of Christ throughout all ages as one "new man" (Eph.2:15) with many members (1 Cor.12:12-13). This is the only solidarity with which Paul identified.

*********************************

You reaffirmation that the Old Testament prophecies came to their fulfillment no later than AD70 is not disputed by partial preterists. So again, you have done nothing to make a case for your specific claims—the ones under dispute.



Steve,

Since you apparently did not like my answer the first time around, I’ll try again. Maybe you will like it better this time:

1. While partial preterists do better with the time texts (than dispensationalists), they still explain away many obvious time texts because of their adherence to their all-important creeds. Here is an example of a verse I’ve specifically heard you try to explain away:

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Mat 16:27-28)

Now, while partial preterists are busying themselves trying to explain away these kinds of verses, skeptics are concluding (and telling everyone) that Jesus was a false prophet. And Christians who read the Bible wonder about these verses too. They too see the discrepancy between what the Bible says, and what their favorite futurist tells them it says. These Christians may not come right out and say it, but deep down, they are thinking to themselves: If the Bible is wrong about that, what else is it wrong about? I better not put all my eggs in this Christian basket. I better hedge my bets a little.

Maybe this explains the why we have a church on every street corner, and yet our culture continues its steady slide towards Gomorrah. Maybe this explains why, according to many studies, there is no real difference between Christians and non-Christians when it comes to abortion rates, etc. Maybe this explains why the younger generation—the information generation—is dropping Christianity like a hot potato. With Google, people today can—in a matter of seconds—get a list of all of Jesus’ supposed false prophecies (that futurists keep insisting on sticking Jesus with).

Only preterism silences the skeptics, and completely builds up Christians’ faith.

2. As to futurism inspiring people to good deeds, I would fully admit that Christianity motivates people to good deeds. However, we don’t have any hard evidence as to whether preterism or futurism motivates people more. But I would suggest that common sense tells us preterism does. What message would you rather use on your kids to get them to clean their rooms:

1. God is coming (soon) to clean your room.
2. Your room is going to get messier and messier and there is nothing you can do about it (because it is destiny, according to Revelation).
3. God proved himself real when he came in glory in 70AD, and he wants you to clean your room.

I would choose #3.

+++++++++++++++++

What changed in 70AD?

Jesus came just like he said he would, which means we can have full confidence in him, his promises, and in the inspired Word of God. This confidence is what propels people to live the Christian life! Before 70AD, we had promises; after 70AD, we have proof, confidence, and assurance.

Proverbs 13:12 says: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

+++++++++++++++++

RE: Your discounting of time texts such as these:

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.” (1 Thess 4:15)

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor. 15:51-52)

I’m glad you see the power of these verses enough to try to explain them away (haha). In these verses, all Paul meant was that his generation would be still be alive when Jesus came (and the resurrection happened). Nothing more. There is no need to try to parse words here. It is no different than the following verses that basically said the same thing (using different language):

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Mat 16:27-28)

“For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone [preached] through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (Mat 10:23)

“They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”…. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” (Mat 24:30, 34)

“It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mat 26:64)



Hi Alex,

I am pretty anal about answering every question and challenge posed to me (how I wish those who seek to debate me would show the same respect!). I have pasted almost your entire last post below, and answered you sentence-by-sentence. Your comments are bracketed (//...//):

//1. While partial preterists do better with the time texts (than dispensationalists), they still explain away many obvious time texts because of their adherence to their all-important creeds.//

You have made several references to the non-full-preterists’ dependence upon, or loyalty to, creeds. This is a non-starter in our conversation, since I cannot recite any of the creeds, and have never read most of them. I have been influenced exactly zero % by the creeds. In fact, I have often contested even the “Apostle’s Creed” in its affirmation that Jesus “descended to hell.” I have often pointed out that the Bible says nothing about such a descent, and that I doubt it. My views are exegetically arrived at. I place minimal authority in the creeds.

//Here is an example of a verse I’ve specifically heard you try to explain away:

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Mat 16:27-28)
//

Can you demonstrate the difference between “explaining” and “explaining away”? This would be a good starting point to give me a basis for respecting your argument.

//Now, while partial preterists are busying themselves trying to explain away these kinds of verses, skeptics are concluding (and telling everyone) that Jesus was a false prophet. And Christians who read the Bible wonder about these verses too. They too see the discrepancy between what the Bible says, and what their favorite futurist tells them it says. These Christians may not come right out and say it, but deep down, they are thinking to themselves: If the Bible is wrong about that, what else is it wrong about? I better not put all my eggs in this Christian basket. I better hedge my bets a little.//

Can you name two or three Christians who have these secret thoughts? I have never had such thoughts, so they certainly can not be universal. How do you know that you are not simply making up what you think people are secretly thinking, just as you invented the fact that futurists have no interest in doing good and changing the world (which you had to retract when I challenged you on that). You said that common sense would tell you that people will react this way. Do you have any case studies? None of the true Christians I know (few are full-preterists) appear to be plagued by these doubts. Have they confided in you about this?

//Maybe this explains the why we have a church on every street corner, and yet our culture continues its steady slide towards Gomorrah. Maybe this explains why, according to many studies, there is no real difference between Christians and non-Christians when it comes to abortion rates, etc. Maybe this explains why the younger generation—the information generation—is dropping Christianity like a hot potato.//

Wow! And full-preterism is the cure for all these things? Here and I thought it had to do with carnality and immaturity! Who’d have thought all the church’s ills have come from the Christian’s expectation that Jesus will come back someday?

//With Google, people today can—in a matter of seconds—get a list of all of Jesus’ supposed false prophecies (that futurists keep insisting on sticking Jesus with).//

If you would notice, on Google you can instantly get lists of all the pagan god myths that were borrowed from by those who manufactured Jesus, or all the contradictions in the Bible, or any number of other faith-blasting non-sense. Anyone can post on the internet. Most internet searchers don’t know the first thing about biblical exegesis (which is why full-preterism flourishes, by the way). A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Even the dispensationalists cannot be blamed for that.

//Only preterism silences the skeptics, and completely builds up Christians’ faith.//

Nonsense. Can you give any examples that this has proved to be true? Are most of the apologists who have reached skeptics and strengthened the faith of the saints been full-preterists? Has even one of them been?

//2. As to futurism inspiring people to good deeds, I would fully admit that Christianity motivates people to good deeds. However, we don’t have any hard evidence as to whether preterism or futurism motivates people more. But I would suggest that common sense tells us preterism does.//

I will be more interested in seeing evidence than the speculations of what someone thinks “common sense” tells us. If full-preterists have been more motivated to do good and change the world than other Christians have, I am waiting to see my very first example. In fact, All of my contacts with full-preterists have given me no reason to believe that they busy themselves with anything but attacking orthodox Christianity. Please list two or three preterists who are more outstanding than most furturists in terms of changing the world for good. If you can do this, then your “common sense” may be, in measure, vindicated. If not, then your ideas of common sense might need to be questioned.

//What message would you rather use on your kids to get them to clean their rooms:

1. God is coming (soon) to clean your room.
2. Your room is going to get messier and messier and there is nothing you can do about it (because it is destiny, according to Revelation).
3. God proved himself real when he came in glory in 70AD, and he wants you to clean your room.

I would choose #3.
//

This is a false trichotomy. Two dispensational options and one full-preterist. No room for biblical preterism in that group?

//What changed in 70AD?

//Jesus came just like he said he would, which means we can have full confidence in him, his promises, and in the inspired Word of God
.//

What evidence are you leaning upon for your claim that "Jesus came just like He said He would?" Nothing visibly changed in or for the church—at least nothing that you or I could confirm from history. Your proclamation is based entirely on the presumption that your interpretations of ambiguous texts are invariably correct, and so these things MUST have happened.

How is that a better basis of assurance than was the assurance provided by God’s faithful promises before the event? I was asking for something that is real and can be believed without being asked to trust the words of someone who is simply a “true believer” in a historically heretical viewpoint. Am I to assume there is no answer that fits these criteria?

//This confidence is what propels people to live the Christian life! Before 70AD, we had promises; after 70AD, we have proof, confidence, and assurance.//

Paul wrote all his letters before AD70. I find no evidence of less assurance in Paul than I have found in any Christian living after AD70. Even Paul’s converts had received the Gospel in “power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance” (1 Thess.1:5). This was when only the promise was available. Have you any historical evidence that their assurance was increased after Jerusalem fell?

//We may not see it day to day, but the world is getting better and better. I’d much rather live today than at any other time.//

I will not argue that the world is not improving. Postmillennialists and optimistic amillennialists have always said this, without the albatross of full-preterism to diminish their credibility. I don’t see how full-preterism can instill any assurance about a better future, if, by definition, all predicted things were fulfilled in AD70, there can remain no predictions of a better world on which to rely.

+++++++++++++++++

//RE: Your discounting of time texts such as these:

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.” (1 Thess 4:15)

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor. 15:51-52)

I’m glad you see the power of these verses enough to try to explain them away (haha).
//

Again, I am waiting to hear your explanation of the difference between explaining and explaining away. One difference between your approach and mine is that I at least do explain the texts you present, giving exegetical basis for my rejection of your interpretations. You, on the other hand, make bare assertions, without even attempting exegetical explanations.

//In these verses, all Paul meant was that his generation would be still be alive when Jesus came (and the resurrection happened). Nothing more. There is no need to try to parse words here.//

You are naïve in the extreme, if you think the verses you quoted can be said to prove your claims without parsing the Greek sentences—or even the English! Are you unaware that virtually all Christian scholars of greater ability than you or I have read these verses in the original languages without imagining for a moment that Paul was claiming Jesus would come in that generation?

I have been teaching from these verses for half a century, and to this day cannot see your meaning in them—even now, having become a preterist myself 30 years ago! I suggest that you read what I said about them in my last post. If you find my explanation unpersuasive, instead of simply claiming your interpretation is obviously correct, try answering my actual explanations—showing where the explanation breaks down I realize I am asking the impossible, but it is the least you can do in return for my humoring you this long and actually taking the pains to frame real exegetical answers to your challenges (as if I thought you really wanted aanswers!).

One way to get me out of a debate (I assume this is your goal) is to ignore every argument I present, as if I had not presented it, and then to steamroll on through with a repetition of your same refuted points. I eventually leave debates when my correspondent displays such disingenuous patterns of non-argument. I also block them from further participation on my page—so let’s don’t go there. Just respond to my arguments, if you think you can.

//It is no different than the following verses that basically said the same thing (using different language):

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Mat 16:27-28)

“For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone [preached] through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (Mat 10:23)

“They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”…. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” (Mat 24:30, 34)

“It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mat 26:64)
//

Actually, it is very different from those verses, since none of those verses tell us of a resurrection of the dead to occur within any particular time frame. Of course, you are trying to lure me into what I said I have no time to do—that is to write out the expositions of these verses, which I already told you that you could find in my lectures. By the way, you will find that I cite every one of those verses and exegete them in my lectures on eschatology, as well. If you are interested (apparently not) you are free to find my explanations there—or you can simply resort to “common sense”, which is the approach I employ in my exegesis. If you try that, you and I may end up with the same conclusions.
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