Monday, September 19, 2011


About ten years ago I did a study on preterism. I read a number of preterist books, mainly by Gary DeMar and Ken Gentry. I was never fully convinced of the preterist interpretation, although I grant some of their points are intriguing. 

While going through a box of old cassettes, I came across a brief review of preterism by Lee Irons that was part of the materials I used for the study. Back then, it was near impossible to find reviews of preterism. I re-listened to the recording, and I thought that others might find his review interesting. Lee gave me permission to post the recording:

A Review of Preterism by Lee Irons


Viisaus said...

PARTIAL preterism can still be within limits of acceptable eschatological disagreement, but full preterism is not.

FP is an inherently GNOSTIC worldview - "resurrection" becomes re-interpreted in a New Agey way as merely an allegory for rising to a higher state of consciousness. This sort of "mental resurrection" (that had already supposedly happened in the souls of individual believers) is very probably the "cancer" that Hymenaeus was peddling.

The fate of the physical body did not interest the Gnostics who concentrated only on "spiritual" things, and likewise heretical full-preterists do not see the vital need for physical resurrection of the body at the end of days.

Ken said...

The partial - Preterists need to do a better job of separating themselves from the full preterists.

And Irons seems to lump them together also.
I was surprised that Irons thought 70 was so minor, however. The Romans destroying the temple seems to be a confirmation of the once for all sacrifice of Christ and fulfillment of Daniel 9:26-27 and at least parts of Matthew 24:1-15. Matthew 23:36 (judgement on this generation) points to it also. It seems to me the disciples question in Matthew 24:3 is assuming that all three things are the same event and time, yet they are not. the end of the age and the sign of His coming are different and later than "when will these things be?", meaning when the temple be destroyed ( 70 AD).

They (especially Gentry and DeMar) are so adamant at fighting Millennial Madness and Dispensationalism (which is good, but sometimes they are over-zealous), that there presentations sometimes give the impression that they don't believe in the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead; until you read deeper and ask questions of them.

Sproul and DeMar need a chapter at the beginning of their books that clearly affirms the second coming and resurrection of the flesh/bodies and final judgment. They need to clearly list the clear Scriptures that do teach the future second coming to us such as:
I Thess. 4:13-18
2 Thess. 1:3-10

2 Peter 3:8-18 (DeMar tried to say that was 70 AD, in an early edition of "Last Days Madness", but I think he backed off of that after much criticism, because later additions of his book took out the original appendix on that chapter.)

I Corinthians 15:23-28; 15:50-58 (These seem to be the only verses that the Partial Preterist guys emphasize that are about the final second coming and judgement and resurrection of the bodies in order to stand before God in judgement.)

Hebrews 9:28
John 14:1-3
Matthew 24:36 ("But of that day" - they say "that day" is different than 70 AD) - through chapter 25
Acts 1:11

Matthew 13:39-43 seems clearly about the second coming in judgment (future to us), so I disagree with Sproul and others who said this passage was also about 70 AD.
(Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus, p. 71-74.)

Ken said...

One of the big strengths of the Partial Preterist view is to able to say that Jesus was right about His "soon" coming in judgment on apostate Israel. (Sproul, "Last Days according to Jesus", about Bertrand Russell, p. 12-13; on Matthew 10:23 and 16:28 and 24:34 It provides an apologetic against skeptics who use it to attack Jesus and say He was mistaken and gave a false prophesy, etc.

I thought the Neron Qaesar (Nero Caesar) in Hebrew as coming out to 666 was an excellent point.

But then again Irons made a good point if indeed Irenaeus and none others ever thought Nero was the anti-Christ.

And Irons made a good point of Revelation 1:7 - the partial preterist view of that verse that it was 70 AD, seems forced; even though I think Daniel 7:13-14 seems to be about the ascension - going up with the clouds" - as in Mark 14:61-62 - more about the ascension and session and ruling there.

Also the seven hills and seven kings of Revelation 17:9-10 has a lot going to the partial preterist position.

Seven hills of Rome

5 kings have fallen, one is (alive at the time of writing) - Nero

if one starts with
1. Julius Caeasar
2. Augustus
3. Tiberias
4. Galigula
5. Claudius


Which if true, indicates that Rev. was written around 68 AD before Nero killed himself. and the 70 AD judgment as a fulfillment would validate a lot of the "soon" and "quickly" language all through the NT.

That was a very powerful exegetical and historical point that they make.

Also the adulterous woman (apostate Israel, Pharisees, etc. who "play the harlot and go after the Baals" - by rejecting the true God, their Messiah, they are like Israel of old that has "played the harlot" and they are like Sodom, Gommorah, Babylon, Egypt - they have become like the enemies of God.
(Rev. chapters 17-18)

Rev. 11:8 is also a strong point for the Partial Preterist position. calls Jerusalem in a spiritual meaning of "Sodom" and "Egypt".

The judgement of that generation goes with the curses and woes of Matthew 23 and 24 on the temple and seems to harmonize with Rev. 11:8 and chapters 17-18.

However, beyond that, there are lots of unknowns that make most of the rest of the book of Revelation of chapters 6-22 future to us. There seems to be a healthy tension between "the already" and "the not yet" all throughout.

Ken said...

2 Thessalonians 2:1 is hard to believe that is 70 AD - because of "our gathering to Him"

DeMar and Gentry say that means to be gathered into the church and the change from the Old covenant of Israel to the New covenant of the church - they do the same thing with Matthew 24:31 and say it means the end of the Jewish age and the beginning of the church age - "gathered" synagoge into churches as God's people.

that point is harder to see and seems forced.

but the historical data of Caligula (and Nero and or Titus later) trying to set up his image in the temple, (or Roman pagan standards/flags, etc.) but pulling back at the last minute lends credibility to v. 4 and 70 AD coming afterward; and other Hebrew priests who desecrated the temple before 70 AD and that the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, etc. seems to point to something at that time that the Thessalonians would know about. (2 Thess. 2:3-7)

And the temple was still standing ( v. 4.)

Viisaus said...

I myself believe that we might well see the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem and temple as a PRE-FIGURATION of the Last Judgment. Not the thing itself, but its symbol.

In 70 AD, the people of Old Covenant was judged. At the end of days, the people of New Covenant will be judged - and as Christ was greater than Moses, so the second judgment will be greater (to put mildly) than the first one.

James Swan said...

The partial - Preterists need to do a better job of separating themselves from the full preterists.


Recently I picked up the book, "When Shall These Things Be?: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism." I've only flipped through it, but Ken Gentry (one of the book's authors) does this very thing.

James Swan said...

I thought the Neron Qaesar (Nero Caesar) in Hebrew as coming out to 666 was an excellent point.

On one of the old Iron Sharpens Iron shows, I called in to ask a question to a Preterist guest. If I recall correctly, he was saying how he uses only the Bible to interpret the Bible, and that's what Preterism is all about.

I brought this very example up of Nero and 666. I asked him where in the Bible it explains that 666 means Nero. He fumbled around for some sort of answer which I don't recall. Then about 10 minutes later on the broadcast, he addressed me again, because I guess the question was still stinging him.

If I can locate the broadcast, I'll post it.

Ken said...

I listened to that Iron Sharpens Iron back when you posted it. You did a good job of challenging the guest and he was not the best spokesman for that position, as I recall. Gary DeMar would have been much more aggressive and confident, if he had been the guest.

As far as the dating of Revelation, the 96 AD date is strong when one takes Irenaeus and Eusebius as the authority on that. (During the reign of Domitian.) However, Gentry makes a good case for the ambiguity of the Latin, and that we don’t have the original Greek of Irenaeus, and argues for “he was seen” (rather than “it was seen”)– John was seen still alive in Domition’s time, not the vision of Revelation; but the Revelation was given and written earlier in 68 AD. But that is also using something “outside”. The partial –preterist position is strong because it uses more internal indicators to arrive at a pre-70 AD date, say 68 AD while Nero was still alive, before he killed himself.

If one starts with Rev. 17:9-10 as the basis for seeing Nero in 13:18, then it is based on internal evidence in the text of Revelation. (This is one of the great strengths of Gentry, DeMar, and Sproul in my opinion.)

If one starts with Rev. 17:9-10; and if that is proof that the King who "is"; "one is"; is one living at the time of the writing of Revelation, and the seven hills are Rome, etc. then that is pretty good evidence for Nero; then the interesting phrase, "Here is the mind which has wisdom" (Rev. 17:9) naturally causes us to look at Rev. 13:18, "Here is wisdom", which connects it to Nero, if indeed he is the one who "is" in 17:9-10. He was also called a "beast" by Roman writers. (Suetonius and Tacitus, without digging that out, I think they are the ones- DeMar and Gentry have a lot of material on this.)

Then the charts that show the Hebrew letters of "Neron Casar" adding up to 666 becomes pretty powerful.

This is one of the strongest arguments IMO for at least a partial preterist view of Revelation, but, there are also lots of weaknesses of some of the aspects of the Partial Preterist position also (especially the details of the visions of chapters 6-19); and there are even more weaknesses for the full/hyper-Preterism.

Ken said...

I think that DeMar, Gentry, and Sproul are weak on Revelation 1:7 though, and it does seem like more of statement on the bodily second coming of Christ, as in Acts 1:11. I also can see Rev. 19 as about the second coming, and that Matthew 24:16-34 are mixing 70 AD with the final end and second coming. The language is too much for only a “lights out” in 70 AD strict interpretation, because the “day of the Lord” in the prophets was like that also, and they were sometimes about Babylon attacking and sometimes about the future 70 AD, and sometimes about the end and the “new heavens and new earth”. Yet, for me 2 Peter 3 is clearly about the “Day of the Lord” final second coming and ushering in of the new heavens and the new earth. There is some justification for seeing some prophesies as having several fulfillments in the future. A classic example is Isaiah 7:14 – the surrounding context looks like something happening in Isaiah 8-9, but Matthew 1 tells us it was about the virgin birth.

Matthison's book, “when will these things be?” was not out when I studied Gentry, DeMar, Chilton, and Sproul on this issue years ago; but I can see now I need to get that book.

It seems to me that when John says that he is fellow partaker in the tribulation (Thipsis) and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus" in Revelation 1:9, we have a key that points us to the "already, but not yet" - there will always be tribulations and persecutions until Christ returns; there is some sense that the kingdom started at the first coming, but it is growing as the gospel goes to all nations, but another sense that it is not here in fullness yet, until Christ returns; and that the book of Revelation teaches us to persevere in persecution and goes from John's time to the second coming and we should not teach it like, "thank God we won't be here during all this stuff, since we will be raptured out".

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Just to touch on something Ken said--

I think another thing moderate preterism has in its favour is in dealing with the transfiguration. Sproul (and others) make a good point about the language of Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1 and Luke 9:27.

Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. Matthew 16:28

The Kindgom of God (of Heaven) is a present reality with the advent of Christ. So in this sense, the Kingdom has already come (it is upon you). But it's very difficult to imagine that Jesus was speaking of His transfiguration on the mount, which happened just a week later, as if He had expected the majority of his followers to be dead by then. It really isn't the kind of language one would use regarding a near event. For example, I wouldn't say to my family, "Some of you will still be alive and will see me when I am ordained in six days." Doesn't make sense. But in any case, if the coming of Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration is a coming of sorts, then why isn't His coming at judgement on Israel in 70 A.D. also a coming of sorts, and one which He clearly announced by way of a time-frame reference?

It may be correct to assert that partial or moderate preterists need to distance themselves better from full preterism, but if I've learned anything from Dr. White, it's that the one critiquing the position also has a duty to represent that position fully and correctly. In my view, Irons could have done a better job of delineating the differences between full and partial preterism.

That being said, I thought it was a good presentation overall, though it doesn't persuade me that moderate preterism is on the wrong track.