Did Christ teach that we should watch for the end times?

End Times
dwilkins
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Re: Did Christ teach that we should watch for the end times?

Post by dwilkins » Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:47 am

Just to be clear, I'm not saying that Paul is predicting that these things are ready to happen. I don't think he is claiming that he is predicting the future that they will. My point was simply to focus on the scope of the term that he is using by saying that he, personally, is ready for these things. In other words, he is ready to go at any moment, and there is no implication in the use of the term that Paul is saying that he has to do anything to get ready or prepare any further.

But, if that's not persuasive then we can switch to engidzo, or "draw near" (and other cognates). This term has a longer list of examples, but maybe that will improve the argument. The following is engidzo separated into non-eschatological uses (for context of the use of the word) and eschatological uses:

G1448
ἐγγίζω
eggizō
eng-id'-zo
From G1451; to make near, that is, (reflexively) approach: - approach, be at hand, come (draw) near, be (come, draw) nigh.

It occurs 63 times in the New Testament. In addition to “near”, it can mean “at hand”, and to “approach”. Unlike mello, there doesn't seem to be any ambiguity in the timeliness of the term. Not all of these references are eschatological. However, below, I'll list a number of non-eschatological uses that, just like mello, will prove helpful in seeing how the term can be used in context. Like mello, not all of the non-eschatological uses will be included (though there might be some interesting insights into past fulfillment of prophecy):

Matthew 15:8 (NKJV)
8 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.

Matthew 21:1 (NKJV)
1 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,

Luke 7:12 (NKJV)
12 And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her.

Luke 15:25 (NKJV)
25 Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.

Luke 18:35 (NKJV)
35 Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging.

Luke 19:29 (NKJV)
29 And it came to pass, when He came near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples,

Luke 22:1 (NKJV)
1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover.

Luke 24:28 (NKJV)
28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther.

Acts 7:17 (NKJV)
17 "But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt

Acts 10:9 (NKJV)
9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.

Acts 22:6 (NKJV)
6 Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me.

Philippians 2:30 (NKJV)
30 because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.

Hebrews 7:18-19 (NKJV)
18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness,
19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

Matthew 21:34 (NKJV)
34 Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit.

Luke 15:1 (NKJV)
1 Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.

Luke 19:41 (NKJV)
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,

Luke 22:47 (NKJV)
47 And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him.

Luke 24:15 (NKJV)
15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.

Acts 9:3 (NKJV)
3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.

Acts 21:33 (NKJV)
33 Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and he asked who he was and what he had done.

Acts 23:15 (NKJV)
15 Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander that he be brought down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to make further inquiries concerning him; but we are ready to kill him before he comes near."

Matthew 21:34 (NASB)
34 "When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce.

Luke 15:1 (NASB)
1 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.

Luke 21:8 (NASB)
8 And He said, "See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not go after them.

Luke 22:47 (NASB)
47 While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him.

Matthew 26:45-46 (NASB)
45 Then He came* to the disciples and said* to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.
46 "Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!"

Mark 14:42 (NASB)
42 "Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!"

Luke 18:35 (NKJV)
35 Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging.

Luke 18:40 (NKJV)
40 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him,

Luke 19:29 (NKJV)
29 And it came to pass, when He came near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples,

Luke 19:37 (NKJV)
37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen,

Luke 19:41 (NKJV)
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,

Acts 22:6 (NKJV)
6 Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me.

Matthew 26:45-46 (ESV)
45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, "Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand."

Mark 14:42 (ESV)
42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand."

Mark 11:1 (ESV)
1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples

Luke 7:12 (ESV)
12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her.

Acts 21:33 (ESV)
33 Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done.

Luke 12:33 (ESV)
33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.

dwilkins
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Re: Did Christ teach that we should watch for the end times?

Post by dwilkins » Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:50 am

Eschatological


Luke 10:9 (NKJV)
9 And heal the sick there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'

Luke 10:11 (NKJV)
11 'The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.'

Luke 21:20 (NKJV)
20 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.

Luke 21:28 (NKJV)
28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."

James 5:8 (NKJV)
8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Luke 21:8 (NKJV)
8 And He said: "Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time has drawn near.' Therefore do not go after them.

Matthew 4:17 (NASB)
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Matthew 10:5-7 (NASB)
5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;
6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'

Mark 1:15 (NASB)
15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

Romans 13:12 (NASB)
12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

1 Peter 4:7 (NASB)
7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.

Luke 10:9 (NKJV)
9 And heal the sick there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'

Luke 10:11 (NKJV)
11 'The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.'

Matthew 3:2 (ESV)
2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Matthew 4:17 (ESV)
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Matthew 10:7 (ESV)
7 And proclaim as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'

Mark 1:15 (ESV)
15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

Romans 13:12 (ESV)
12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

1 Peter 4:7 (ESV)
7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

Hebrews 10:25 (ESV)
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

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Homer
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Re: Did Christ teach that we should watch for the end times?

Post by Homer » Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:41 pm

Seems to me this supposed "second coming happened at 70AD" and all prophecies about the second coming were fulfilled at that time requires quite a stretch of certain scriptures.

Consider:

John 5:28-29, New American Standard Bible (NASB)

28. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29. and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.


Which appears to be the same occasion as:

Matthew 25:31-33, New American Standard Bible (NASB)

31. “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33. and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.........


Which will not happen until:

Matthew 24:4-14, New American Standard Bible (NASB)

4. And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

9. “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.


I can not believe that the gospel was preached to all nations in the whole world prior to 70AD. It might be argued that "the whole world" was a limited region around the Mediterranean in the minds of the people in Israel at the time but surely Jesus knew better and intended in His commission to be worldwide.

dwilkins
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Re: Did Christ teach that we should watch for the end times?

Post by dwilkins » Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:28 pm

Homer,

I appreciate your response because it's concise. The issue is essentially the promise in John 5 the final judgment of those who'd died in Matt. 25, and the Great Commission. I'll address them in that order.

In John 5 Jesus says that those who were dead at the time of the 2nd Coming would come forth for a judgment by God. I presume that this is the judgment that occurs in heaven per Revelation 20. I have no problem with this. In fact, it's integral to my argument. I'll cite the relevant portion of Revelation 20 below (though I'd argue that vs. 4-6 are part of this scene, I'll leave them aside since that would probably be disputed):

Revelation 20:11-15 (NKJV)
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

The first thing to appreciate about this passage is that all of the dead, from all of the mythological places where they might be stored, are gathered together for this judgment. There is no reference to killing the rest of humanity who managed somehow to survive the Tribulation in order to make them part of this judgment. Second, it's important to understand that both Death and Hades was considered to be personified and discreet characters of mythology. In other words, the regular definition of death (which in the Hebrew world resulted in a trip to Hades), and Hades (which was literally the place where the souls of dead people were stored) were both in view in verse 14. That system, death resulted in a trip to Hades, was eliminated in 70AD. The present paradigm a trip straight to the White Throne Judgment, an ongoing and perpetual institution, has redefined the meaning of death and eliminated the role of Hades. Thus, they've both been destroyed as they were conceived of in that era. That happened to all dead people per John 5 at the time of the inauguration of the GWTJ. I don't think that, in the end, we are arguing differently on this point. And, I'm certainly not trying to make more of John 5 than it actually says on paper.

My comment on Matt. 25 will be brief. I think it represents the judgment against all who'd died up to that point in history. It's specifically focused on how people of that generation had treated the Apostles and Disciples.

As far as the Great Commission goes, please pay close attention to how Paul uses the same language in two passages. It will be different than how you're used to hearing it, but the language would only have meant what people in that generation thought it did. Our fantasy about what they meant by various terms or phrases is irrelevant:

Romans 16:25-27 (NKJV)
25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began
26 but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith--
27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

Colossians 1:21-23 (ESV)
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,
22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Paul is using the same vocabulary that Jesus does to describe the success of his mission. Paul declares unambiguously that he has successfully completed his mission, which is the Great Commission. This will, I guarantee, sound odd to you because you were raised in an Evangelical church. But, the text is the text.

In my opinion, the commission, as it's found in the NT, was accomplished in the time of Paul. That doesn't mean that there is no further work to do, as we see in Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 22. I'll post two parallel passages from those books to describe what I think our current goal is (and, I think are just about past the ankle stage, BTW).

Ezekiel 47:1-12 (ESV)
1 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar.
2 Then he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and behold, the water was trickling out on the south side.
3 Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep.
4 Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep.
5 Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through.
6 And he said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?" Then he led me back to the bank of the river.
7 As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other.
8 And he said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh.
9 And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes.
10 Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to En-eglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea.
11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt.
12 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing."

Revelation 22:1-5 (ESV)
1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.
4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

If, because you thought you were familiar with the material, you skimmed the long list of time statements I posted, I would challenge you to read them slowly. There are more than 180 that I've found so far (so this list is a very short one compared to the full compilation). I could easily be wrong about the mechanics of how all of this works out, but if we want to take the language of scripture seriously, strictly, then we need to take the time statements that way too.

Doug

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TheEditor
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Re: Did Christ teach that we should watch for the end times?

Post by TheEditor » Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:42 am

Hi Doug,

Just a quick question for clarification; Does the Full-Preterist position maintain that all of the Gospels and Epistles were authored before 66 AD?

Regards, Brenden.
[color=#0000FF][b]"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."[/b][/color]

dwilkins
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Re: Did Christ teach that we should watch for the end times?

Post by dwilkins » Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:56 am

TheEditor wrote:Hi Doug,

Just a quick question for clarification; Does the Full-Preterist position maintain that all of the Gospels and Epistles were authored before 66 AD?

Regards, Brenden.
It depends who you ask. Stevens would say yes. He is a very skilled historian of the church, and has proven to my satisfaction that there was a distinct gap in Christian writings from the time of the Roman war until about 105AD. He, and I, would argue that scripture was wrapped up before 70AD (and I'd rely on J.A.T. Robinson and Gentry for additional arguments here as well). He'd go a step farther and say that the closing date was 66AD, since he believes that is the point of the rapture (in more popular terms he follows a pre-wrath rapture chronology, while I think it's more likely to be post-Tribulation).

But, to be clear, I'm not actually a Full Preterist. Full Preterists (according to their own definition) believe all prophecy was completely fulfilled by 70AD. I'd argue that it was all either fulfilled or started by then. The difference is that I see ongoing fulfillment of a number of elements of things that were predicted such as the millennium (think of it as Amillennialism without any particular end). This might seem like splitting hairs, but they would object to me calling my position Full Preterism, so I don't.

Doug

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Ryan07
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Re: Did Christ teach that we should watch for the end times?

Post by Ryan07 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:26 am

how is a pre-wrath rapture possible?

dwilkins
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Re: Did Christ teach that we should watch for the end times?

Post by dwilkins » Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:38 am

If I were to try to fit myself into a traditional rapture position I'd be post-trib. So, I'm not saying that I think pre-wrath is correct. I'm only saying that Stevens' system follows essentially a pre-wrath chonology so that the saints are raptured in 66AD, about 3 years before Jerusalem is sacked.

Having said that, one of the most clearly written theology books I've ever read is by Heidi Nigro who is proponent of Pre-wrath rapture. She effectively smashed my pre-trib position. For any pre-tribber who thinks he knows it all, I highly recommend it.

http://www.amazon.com/Before-Gods-Wrath ... YJ8TAP1WZ6

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Homer
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Re: Did Christ teach that we should watch for the end times?

Post by Homer » Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:40 am

Hi Doug,

You wrote:
As far as the Great Commission goes, please pay close attention to how Paul uses the same language in two passages. It will be different than how you're used to hearing it, but the language would only have meant what people in that generation thought it did. Our fantasy about what they meant by various terms or phrases is irrelevant:

Romans 16:25-27 (NKJV)
25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began
26 but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith--
27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

Colossians 1:21-23 (ESV)
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,
22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
The problem you have here is that the verbs in both cases are aorist participles, not past tense. Both NT Wright and John Piper state that "proclaimed" does not mean that the proclamation has already occurred in the past. Daniel Wallace in his "Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics" says that the aorist tense in such cases denotes no specific time. The statements could be a prophetic prolepsis. Many regard Paul to be speaking hyperbolically, which, as you know, is very common in scripture. Consider a similar statement:

Luke 2:1-3, New American Standard Bible (NASB)

1. Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city
.

We wouldn't want to claim the census decree was carried out worldwide.

If it is as you say, that Jesus commission was fulfilled in Paul's day, then we have none. And it would seem that the terms of the commission "he that believes and is baptized", confession, and repentance are not in effect since that time. Commission completed, terms of commission void.

I am curious about the origin of preterism. It seems to have been concocted first in the 16th century, by the Catholic Luis De Alcazar, as a defense of the office of the Pope, similar to the beginning of dispensationalism. Do you know of it in the early church? I know the Didache, Clement, Justin, and Irenaeus all clearly spoke of Jesus' future second coming in their day. Surely they would not have missed the idea that He already came. After all, the Apostle John lived well past 70AD and would have corrected a mistake about this.

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Re: Did Christ teach that we should watch for the end times?

Post by dwilkins » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:36 am

Whether it was strictly past tense for Paul or simply a generic statement about things that were happening in his ministry is not important for my point. Either way, it would have been associated with his generation. There is certainly no objective reason to say that this aorist sense should continue for 2,000 (or 4,000, or 10,000) years. My point about the vocabulary is that he claims to have reached as least as wide of an audience as Jesus' commission reflected, using the same type of language (and even more inclusive that Jesus', I'd argue), so I think it's precarious for us to graft our own favorite definition of these words over the top of theirs.

The history of preterism is something that has interested me for quite a while. One of the points of the book that I wrote was to track some of the key elements of eschatology in the early church and what they considered orthodox. Justin Martyr, one of the first patristic writers, is clear that he believes the Olivet Discourse was fulfilled in the Roman of 66-70AD. Clement of Alexandria shares this (as do most writers of the time, including the first church historian Eusebius), and adds that the prophecies of Daniel were wrapped up there as well. Most of these men (at least mot of the writers we're still aware of), to a greater or lesser extent, looked forward to a future Second Coming. I'd say that this makes their theology incoherent, but that they certainly recognized a dramatic importance to the sacking of Jerusalem. They didn't have the term "preterism", so they couldn't have claim to be it. The didn't have the terms amillennial, premillennial, dispensational, or pretribulationalist either. Each of these groups has to try to find the elements of their system in early writings in order to claim them. One possible exception to this might be the premillennialists. The term chiliast, referring to the future 1,000 year reign of Christ, was part of their vocabulary. The early church in the 381AD revision to the Nicene Creed deliberately declared it a heresy because they wanted to emphasize that the 1,000 period was symbolic of an age that would last forever. They didn't seem to be aware of the implications of that decision, but it does show some awareness of that position by early writers.

You are right that Alcazar wrote as a preterist. But, I see the history of eschatology a bit differently than people who generally use him as a foil. In my opinion, very strong themes of fulfillment have been part of church writings since the very beginning. They immediately concede that critical predictions such as the Olivet Discourse and the prophecies of Daniel were fulfilled in the first century. They also vaguely look for a Second Coming. But, they don't seem to appreciate that these events are intimately connected. This is likely due to a focus on more important theological issues of the time such as Christology. The Roman Catholic Church absorbed most of western theology before anyone made a priority of studying eschatology, so there has never been an era of focused study on eschatollogy in the history of the church (until now, I'd argue). But something both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches share is a vague sense of disinterest in eschatology. It's never been a subject of any interest to them. The Syriac Church of the East, the largest element of the Church in the first few hundred years, demonstrates this even more strongly. I'm suspicious that this is because their essentially Amillennial view of the kingdom means that there's not much left to study. They (though the Syriac Church less so than the others) were more interested in expanding the kingdom than wringing their hands about when it was going to start.

I'll wrap this up before I go way too long. About the time of the Reformation eschatology came back into focus, at least in the west. The Reformers were almost all Historicists, declaring the Roman Catholic Church to be the end times bad guy. Along with Alcazar, the RCC produced an update to premillennial eschatology as well (the allegation from the point of view of the Reformers was that these were both distractions to keep people from being Historicists, though that argument has fallen out of favor since almost all Evangelicals are now premillennial). Once the Reformation kicked off and people had widespread personal access to scripture the study on eschatology took off. So did support for preterism. One of the most interesting dynamics of Todd Dennis' site (a former Full Preterist who is now an Idealist Preterist) is that as you look at the dates and categories of the writings that he archives (http://preteristarchive.com/) there is an obvious one way march of evolution from very vague older systems to very strong and specific new ones. In other words, the evolution since the Reformation has be decidedly towards very strong expressions of preterism. Essentially, it has become obvious through generations of study as well as newer very powerful study tools that certain things are connected in ways that no one ever expected. Immediately after the Reformation you started seeing preterist thinking (Lightfoot is a good example), but the arguments have only gotten stronger and more tightly reasoned.

The end game of this can be tough to see. I see this era (and for the next few hundred years) as the time that the church is finally looking seriously at eschatology, and thus preterism. I think the death of the European church and the widespread access to powerful independent study tools will result in Chinese and African church leadership in a few hundred years that will be based much more honestly on the text than the European leadership has shown. They might come up with completely previously unexpected conclusions. But, I suspect that preterism will be a major player in the church in the next 100 years.

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