Skip to comments.Timely Questions about Preterismand its Reconstruction Ally
Posted on 04/10/2007 10:07:35 AM PDT by xzins
Questions about Preterism
and it's Reconstruction Ally
This article was originally from two timely editorials of The Standard Bearer Vol. 75; No. 10; February 15, 1999 (A Timely Question about Preterism), and Vol. 75; No. 16; May 15, 1999 (The Preterism of Christian Reconstruction).
A reader has asked about "preterism." The question is occasioned by the series of editorials defending (Reformed) amillennialism (Standard Bearer, Jan. 15, 1995 - Dec. 15, 1996). The subject is worthy of editorial treatment.
The question and my response follow.
I have read your articles on amillennialism and have learned much. I have some dealings with people who hold to a postmillennial view. Lately, some people have come to our church who hold to a preterist view. Do you know much about this view? Do you know what good books or articles I could read? They deny the second coming of Christ and many other important truths. I hope that you can help me.
Michael Mc Cullough
What "Preterism" is
Your question is timely.
"Preterism" is a heresy that, astonishingly, is creeping into Reformed and Presbyterian churches. That it does so is largely due to postmillennial Christian Reconstructionism. Against this error I was fighting in the series of editorials that occasioned your question.
Your question is also timely because preterism is about time, specifically the time of Jesus' second coming, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, and the renewal of the creation.
Preterism holds that the time of Jesus' second coming (Greek: parousia) was A.D. 70. The second coming of Jesus was the destruction of Jerusalem in that year. Preterism holds that the second coming of Christ promised in Scripture was exclusively the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. A.D. 70 was the end of the ages prophesied by Scripture. Christ came then; the dead were raised then; the final judgment took place then; creation was renewed then.
To expect a visible, bodily coming of Jesus, a resurrection of the dead, a final judgment, and a cataclysmic destruction of the present creation in the future on the basis of any prophecy of Scripture is mistaken. All is past.
Hence, "preterism." The term itself derives from a Latin word meaning 'past.'
Basic to the heresy is its interpretation of Matthew 24 as referring exclusively to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The preterist insists that verse 34 is decisive for this interpretation: "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."
Preterism also makes much of the fact that Scripture teaches that Jesus' coming is "near," or "at hand." Explaining this "nearness" in terms of a very brief period of time according to man's standards, preterism concludes that the New Testament predicted the coming of Christ within 40 years at the most. This prediction was fulfilled in A.D. 70. It was completely and exhaustively fulfilled in A.D. 70.
A recent book promoting preterism is The Promise of His Coming: Interpreting New Testament Statements concerning the Time of Christ's Appearance (Chicago: Laudemont Press, 1996), by R. C. Leonard and J. E. Leonard. The book contends that all the eschatological prophecies of Scripture have been fulfilled in the past, in A.D. 70.
Since the coming of Christ, as predicted in the New Testament documents, has already taken place, little scriptural basis exists for perpetuating the doctrine that it still lies in the future (p. 216).
We have presented the evidence that the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 represents the fulfillment of what the apostolic church knew as the promise of Jesus' coming and the end of the age. The future hope of today's church, therefore, lies in another direction (p. 219).
For today's Christians, the last days to which the New Testament refers lie in the past. Our task is not to anticipate the end, but to live in the new community inaugurated by Jesus Christ (p. 220).Present-day preterism, including the teaching of the Leonards, draws heavily from a book by the 19th century Congregational writer, James Stuart Russell. The book is The Parousia: a Critical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord's Second Coming. A new edition of this work, first published in 1878, was published in 1996 by Kingdom Publications in Bradford, PA. The references that follow use this recent edition.
According to Russell, the second coming of Christ that is foretold in I Thessalonians 4:13-17 and in II Thessalonians 1 and 2 happened in A.D. 70 in the destruction of Jerusalem (pp. 165-190). The resurrection of the dead promised in I Corinthians 15 happened in A.D. 70 in the destruction of Jerusalem (pp. 199ff.). The public, final judgment of Matthew 25:31-46 is not the future, "final judgment of the whole human race, but that of the guilty nation of Palestine whose day of doom was now near at hand" (p. 108). The renewal of creation described in Romans 8:19-22 is not a coming deliverance of the "irrational and inanimate creation," but the liberation of groaning, "suffering and down-trodden humanity" when "the whole visible fabric and frame of Judaism were swept away" in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (pp. 222-232).
The entire book of Revelation, with the embarrassing exception of the millennium of chapter 20, found its complete fulfillment in the destruction of Jerusalem (pp. 362ff.).
Russell's preterism is consistent. Every prophecy of Scripture about the coming of Christ and the end of the world was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
We are compelled to conclude that the Parousia, or second coming of Christ, with its connected and concomitant events, did take place, according to the Saviour's own prediction, at the period when Jerusalem was destroyed, and before the passing away of "that generation" (p. 549).
As this quotation indicates ("according to the Saviour's own prediction"; "passing away of 'that generation'"), Russell's interpretation of New Testament eschatology is squarely based on his explanation of Matthew 24 as referring exclusively to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Russell affirms that the language of Matthew 24 (and 25) "is not only appropriate as applied to the destruction of Jerusalem, but that this is its true and exclusive application" (p. 82).This is heresy.
It is gross denial of the second coming of Christ and, with it, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, and the renewal of the creation of the heaven and the earth.
No one can possibly fail to detect the false doctrine.
Preterism destroys the Christian hope: the soon-coming of Jesus Christ our Lord in the body to raise our bodies from the dead and to take us unto Himself in the perfected fellowship of the covenant. With the scoffers of II Peter 3:4, it asks, "Where is the promise of his coming?" With Hymenaeus and Philetus, it says that "the resurrection is past already" (II Tim. 2:18).
It is rejection of the Christian hope with a vengeance. Nothing of our hope is left.
Russell admits as much. Having annihilated the expectation of Christ's coming on the part of the church and the Christian, he imagines his readers asking, "Whither are we tending? What is to be the end and consummation of human history?" Indeed! What are our prospects? What were the prospects of the believers and their children after A.D. 70?
"Scripture prophecy guides us no further" (p. 549).
And, "Where nothing has been revealed it would be the height of presumption to prognosticate the future" (p. 550).God's Word leaves us completely in the dark as regards the future.
The church and the believer are hopeless. Since we are saved by hope, according to Romans 8:24, preterism strips us of salvation.
The Preterism of Christian Reconstruction
This grievous heresy, postmillennial Christian Reconstruction is promoting in Reformed and Presbyterian churches today, although it claims to avoid full-blown, consistent preterism. The close relationship between the fully developed, consistent preterism of James Stuart Russell and the Leonards on the one hand and the less fully developed, inconsistent preterism of Christian Reconstruction on the other hand is evident.
The new edition of Russell's The Parousia features glowing recommendations of the book by Gary DeMar and Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. DeMar writes: "Russell's Parousia takes the Bible seriously when it tells us of the nearness of Christ's return . Reading Russell is a breath of fresh air in a room filled with smoke and mirror hermeneutics." Although not agreeing with all of Russell's conclusions, Gentry praises the book highly and confesses his own dependence on it:
I highly recommend this well-organized, carefully argued, and compellingly written defense of preterism to serious and mature students of the Bible. It is one of the most persuasive and challenging books I have read on the subject of eschatology and has had a great impact on my own thinking.DeMar and Gentry are mainstream champions of Christian Reconstruction.
Also, the Leonards, consistent preterists, appeal to Christian Reconstructionist David Chilton in support of their consignment of the whole of the book of Revelation to the past (The Promise, p. 156).
In addition, the reading of Russell's The Parousia brings to light the dependence of the Christian Reconstructionists on Russell for their interpretation of such passages as II Thessalonians 2 and the entire book of Revelation.
As for the protest by Christian Reconstruction that it wants to retain the hope of a future coming of Christ and a future resurrection of the dead on the basis of a few New Testament prophecies that still apply to the church today, that is, that it wants to hold an "inconsistent preterism," three things make this impossible.
First, Christian Reconstruction teaches that Matthew 24:1-35 applies exclusively to the destruction of Jerusalem, not at all to the coming of Christ in the future. Such is the basic importance of the prophecy of Matthew on the reckoning of everyone that if Jesus' eschatology has only the destruction of Jerusalem in view the same is true of all the eschatology of the New Testament. Matthew 24 is the issue. The interpretation of Matthew 24 is the difference between the hope of the Christian faith and the hopelessness of preterism. The four articles in which I examined, criticized, and refuted J. Marcellus Kik's preterist interpretation of Matthew 24 and then set forth the right explanation of the passage were the heart of the series of editorials, "A (Reformed) Defense of Amillennialism" (SB, April 1, April 15, May 1, and May 15, 1996).
Second, Christian Reconstruction insists on explaining the New Testament's teaching that the coming of Christ is "near" and "at hand" as meaning that Christ would come in the second coming within a few years, that is, in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. If this is, in fact, what is meant by "near," "at hand," and "quickly," Christ came in A.D. 70, and everything connected with His coming, e.g., the resurrection, took place at that time in the past. Scripture's prophecy of the end has been fulfilled. It has been fulfilled completely. It has been fulfilled completely in the destruction of Jerusalem. There is no further revelation of any future coming.
Third, Christian Reconstruction is committed to a consistent preterism, despite its protestations to the contrary, inasmuch as the one, great good in the future that Christian Reconstruction has its heart set on, looks forward to, and hastens toward is the earthly kingdom of its dreams. The hope of Christian Reconstruction is not the second coming of Christ. To a future coming of Christ, Christian Reconstruction pays lip service. The hope of Christian Reconstruction is a carnal kingdom of earthly power, prosperity, and peace.
When the Leonards-consistent preterists-get around to telling us why they have shoved all of New Testament eschatology into the past, thus annihilating the expectation of Christ's coming, this is what they say:
(This) provides the incentive for the church militant, the followers of Jesus Christ engaging the distortions and inequities of a godless culture, and laying the foundation for the continual reconstruction of society according to the principles of God's covenant law. Christians have no biblical warrant for withdrawing from this struggle in the hope that Christ will appear, sooner or later, to execute the sanctions of the end. The last days have come and gone, leaving the church on earth where Christ intended it to be (The Promise, p. 208).Sound familiar?
The carnal kingdom of "Jewish dreams"!
Christian Reconstruction is committed, willy-nilly, to the full-blown, consistent preterism that strips the church and the Christian of all hope and all salvation.
The gospel of hope is Reformed, amillennial, biblical eschatology.
Jesus Christ is coming. He is on the way now. He will come in the future. He will come personally, bodily, and visibly. He comes quickly. His coming is near. We live daily in the expectation of Him. His coming is our hope.
Come, Lord Jesus!
Although this author is amillennial, he raises some interesting concerns about preterism and reconstruction.
So we already know he spiritualizes *everything*. Right? Why should his perspective be trusted?
Or is this a case of "any enemy of my enemy is my friend"?
Besides attempting to paint all postmillennialists as consistent, i.e. heretical "full" preterists who deny a literal, future Second Coming - despite all claims to the contrary - what other concerns does he raise?
Englesma, whom I normally have great respect for, muddles the water by falsely charging Reconstructionists with a belief that "Christ would come in the second coming within a few years, that is, in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70", Englesma IMO is deliberately confusing his opponents' view of His "coming in the clouds" (the judgment of Israel) with His Second Coming, i.e. His literal return. No Reconstructionist work I have ever read has ever proposed that the two "comings" are the same event.
It is rejection of the Christian hope with a vengeance. Nothing of our hope is left.
As I said, it raises some excellent concerns.
Perhaps now we know where our friends gets it from. Reading people who paint with a broad brush when they write about other people.
As mentioned to TC on a different thread, when one is so focused on building the kingdom here on earth, it gets easier and easier to “spiritualize” the return of Christ, and especially since everything else has already been spiritualized.
I would say that post-millennialism is a great danger to post-mil Christians.
That aside, though, I can certainly see how preterism is a HERETICAL danger that will easily betray post-mil Christians.
Only if you are close-minded regarding the truth.
Bump for later
Title and article header, should be “its Reconstruction Ally.”
(Sorry to pick, but it’s a school day :-).
I don’t see how my being alerted to concerns that I’ve been unaware of to this date is an indication of close-mindedness.
I’d think it would say the opposite.
And, not being an amillennialist, this was a difficult article for me to post. But the concerns about preterism destroying Christian hope are legitimate.
Do you know anyone on this board or in person who holds to this view?
Oh, don't get me wrong, there are a few. In fact, the Reconstructionist Chalcedon Report and orthodox preterist Ken Gentry have written volumes againt this form of preterism, which they call the Hymenaen heresy.
Engelsma knows this, which makes his tome far less important than it could be.
I noticed another mistake in the article itself, but I don’t remember where.
Christian hope being destroyed was Engelsma’s concern, and I agree. It is certainly a danger.
I picked up a couple of mistakes just on a quick reading, but the error in the title was the most obvious.
But you are tilting at windmills in this forum. There are no Hymenaen-style preterists around (that I'm aware of).
Are you getting it yet?
Let me know when it becomes a reality.
Sorry, but that IS the definition of preterism.
Others go out of their way to back away from it, because they realize how heretical it is.
Like being proud to call yourself a semi-pelagian, even though real pelagianism is so unworthy of the gospel of grace.
Better to warn about the heresy of preterism first.
So many are unfamiliar with it, and are seduced by virtue of their ignorance regarding the destination to which they are being led.
Have you ever heard of the term “guilt by association”? That was the author’s tactic in this hit piece.
Well, then I don't know any preterists around here and I suspect neither do you.
But they DO use the label of PRETERIST with a modifier.
Besides that, partial PRETERISM is little improvement. As pointed out, preterism’s addiction to spiritualizing things is both a danger and is itself destructive of Christian hope.
Using a debater's trick, MacArthur begins his analysis of nondispensational eschatology by assessing full-preterism. Full-preterists believe that all the New Testament prophetic passages were fulfilled in A.D. 70. Thus, there is no future bodily return of Christ. The resurrection is also given a non-traditional interpretation. Of course, I have no problem with someone debating the merits of full-preterism or partial preterism. R.C. Sproul engages in a debate with full preterism in his The Last Days According to Jesus, and Ken Gentry has written extensively on the subject. I've had numerous discussion with full-preterist writers and have voiced my dissatisfaction with a number of their interpretations. While MacArthur admits that partial preterism is not heresy, he goes on to write that "it is clear that the hermeneutical approach taken by [partial] preterists is what laid the foundation for the hyper-preterist error." The old slippery-slope argument.
Gary DeMar in Defending the Indefensible
Tut, tut, tut. And you a man of the cloth. You are beginning to act like a lawyer. Let’s see now, from all the threads on eschatology and systems of theology.
All Dispensationalists are Dispensational.
All Pre Millennials are Pre Millennial.
All Pre tribs are Pre trib.
All Post Millennials are Post Millennial.
All Amillennials are Amillennial.
All Preterists are Preterist.
This is a typical ploy of deception -- create something new and label it with the name of your opponent.
Sort of like saying Arminius was a Calvinist.
Postmillenialism is simply a belief that the spread of the Gospel and the fulfillment of the Biblically-mandated Great Commission will enrich our society and profit all who hear it.
It sure can't hurt.
Christian Reconstructionism simply says the Great Commission is our responsibility to perform, by the grace of God.
And before the world become so skittish and politically-correct, most Christians actually believed in both presuppositions.
"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." -- Matthew 28:18020
"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." -- Isaiah 55:11
"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." -- Matthew 28:18020
Why do we really fight in Iraq, x? Yes, it's for U.S. defense and protection and stability.
But don't you also believe that the spread of Christianity to a Muslim nation will truly benefit that region?
Don't you also believe that all those Bibles being smuggled into China will truly benefit that continent and enrich the lives of all who hear the word of God?
If you are going to rely on faulty logic like Engelsma and MacArthur, and if you are not going to believe what people tell you to be true and take it on face value as honest, it only demonstrates that your approach to interpreting the Word of God may be suspect as well.
There is nothing faulty about pointing out what preterism is any more than there’s something faulty about pointing out what pelagianism is.
And, then there’s the argument of “poisoned fruit.”
The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.
As the Professor pointed out in “A Defense to Reformed Amillinialism”, Post-millinialism preaches a coming ‘golden age’ rather than warning saints of the anti-christ.
What is a pelagian?
What is a semi-pelagian?
Extremely good point. You are correct.
But don't label it as "partial preterism" because it isn't.
And contrary to what blue-duncan was trying to tell you, the difference between partial and full preterism is clear and simple, unlike the many, varied and confusing beliefs listed under the heading of dispensationalism.
Engelsma knows this, which makes his tome far less important than it could be.
Amen. If this is the best they can do to refute the truth, then the truth stands strong.
The entire book is free online at the above link.
Orthodox preterism did not "fall from the tree" of the Hymenaen heresy. You are engaging in faulty logic and debaters tricks. I suspect the reason why is that you have no arguments of your own, so, like Engelsma and MacArthur, you resort to clouding the issues by insisting black is white and up is down.
This is interesting.
Each of you give a list of those prophecies that are already fulfilled?
"Rather than"??!! Short reading list, I suspect.
The false dichotomy of pessimistic eschatologies like amillennialism and dispensationalism seem to want to see everything as "either/or" rather than "both/and".
Christ is reiging both in heaven and on earth by the power of the gospel over the nations.
"Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison." (Rev. 20:7)
The apostasy at the end happens after the "thousand years" is concluded. So it does not need to be "either/or" as the amils seem to suggest, or "rather than".
"Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour." (1 John 2:18)
Postmillennialists can read the Bible, you know.
I’d realy like an answer to my questions...
We fight in Iraq to maintain and preserve U.S. defense, protection and stability. Do you also believe that...
1) The spread of Christianity to a Muslim nation will truly benefit that region?
2) Bibles being smuggled into China will truly benefit that continent and enrich the lives of all who hear the word of God?
Christians need to be warned of Satan who takes on many guises. This is much simpler than a lot of people want to make it.
When this country was founded, Postmillennialism was the dominant belief. No coincidence it's taken a beating as the Gospel gets shouted down from within as well as without.
Are people really so deaf and blind that they can't see some temporal powers of this world want us all to believe ONLY in spiritual bad guys? Because what this ultimately does is frees the real, human bad guys on the planet to keep right on deceiving and manipulating the masses.
I would say you are wrong. An eagerness to proclaim that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords is the heart of our evangel. The proclamation of a Jesus who confines His work to "the heart" lobotomized and emasculated evangelical Christianity over the course of the last century. If all I want is a "personal spiritual adviser," I can go visit Madam Rose the tea leaf reader. For a few extra dollars, she'll even throw in a few extra thrills.
Discovering that Jesus is Lord over the universe around me as well as the "universe" within me was truly liberating, transforming my walk with God, my family, my vocation, and my effectiveness as a Christian. You might say the proclamation the "Jesus is Lord" (not "will be any day now," but is) can restore the Christian man's mind, and balls. Let me cite G. K. Chesterton's rollicking rebuttal to the value of mere mysticism, from his book Orthodoxy:
Of all conceivable forms of enlightenment the worst is what these people call the Inner Light. Of all horrible religions the most horrible is the worship of the god within. Any one who knows any body knows how it would work; any one who knows any one from the Higher Thought Centre knows how it does work. That Jones shall worship the god within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon, anything rather than the Inner Light; let Jones worship cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the god within. Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards, to behold with astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain. The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognized an outer light, fair as the sun, clear as the moon, terrible as an army with banners.My soul is far safer in the keeping of my Lord, than it was when I sought a cosmic guru.
From a piece by Gary DeMar entitled, “The Devil’s In the Details” —
“A few days after having sinus surgery, Amanda Bower of Time magazine called American Vision to set up an interview with me. She was working on a four-part article on the debut of Tim LaHaye’s tenth volume in the Left Behind series, The Remnant: On the Brink of Armageddon. I spent about an hour on the phone giving her an alternative perspective. The interview went very well.
When I first picked up a copy of the July 1 issue of Time, I expected to find at least some mention of the interview. Nothing. Instead, there were more than ten pages of what looked like advertising copy for the series. Since when is Time magazine not being critical of a Christian movement that is generating a billion dollars in sales?
Just this year, LaHaye signed a $45 million, four-book deal with Bantam-Dell, whose address, ironically, is 666 5th Avenue, New York, NY. Secular publishers are bottom-line oriented. Bantam wants a piece of the $1.77 billion book publishing industry, even if its from Christians. They’ll hold their nose as they make their bank deposits. Why make Christians angry since they’ll be the ones who will help Bantam make back that $45 million. To further insure that the investment pays the necessary dividends, LaHaye had to be introduced to the secular market as a likable guy even though he believes in a Christian America and opposes abortion and homosexuality. One article even showed Tim and Beverly hugging. The feminist and homosexual writers and editors at Time must have puked as they put the make-nice story together.
My negative interview would have kicked sand in their face. Publishing deals had been made. LaHaye had to look good no matter what else he might believe. AOL Time Warner, owner of Time magazine, has a strategic alliance with Barnes & Noble. B&N operates more than 1000 super stores and mall-based stores, and operates barnesandnoble.com. Go into any B&N and you will find stacks of Left Behind books. B&N has made a fortune with Left Behind. AOL Time Warner has set up a Christian book division in Nashville, Tennessee, home of Christian publishing powerhouses Thomas Nelson and Broadman & Holman. As one publishing insider writes, “Ruffling feathers at AOL, B&N, Amazon.com, or Time Warner just doesn’t have any appeal.”
One last connection. Bantam is the U.S. subsidiary of Bertelsmann, the third largest media company in the world, with majority ownership of barnesandnoble.com, AOL online services in Europe, France, and German. What’s good for Tim LaHaye is good for AOL, which is good for AOL TimeWarner, which is good for Time magazine and vice versa
For years I wondered why the liberal Oxford University Press published the Scofield Reference Bible. I have come to believe that the best way to get Christians out of politics is to neutralize them. Dispensationalism is the best neutralizer going. Millions of Christians, most of whom are politically conservative, will see no reason to get involved politically because the rapture is just around the corner. Oxford knew this at the turn of the twentieth century, and AOL Time Warner knows it today.”
"It would be easy to show that at our present rate of progress the kingdoms of this world never could become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. Indeed, many in the Church are giving up the idea of it except on the occasion of the advent of Christ, which, as it chimes in with our own idleness, is likely to be a popular doctrine. I myself believe that King Jesus will reign, and the idols be utterly abolished; but I expect the same power which turned the world upside down once will still continue to do it. The Holy Ghost would never suffer the imputation to rest upon His holy name that He was not able to convert the world."
- C. H. SPURGEON
"...I have come to believe that the best way to get Christians out of politics is to neutralize them. Dispensationalism is the best neutralizer going..."
It's no coincidence Ronald Reagan was largely funded, philosophically supported and theologically nourished by the same Christian Reconstructionists who are now marginalized by the American press.
It is also no coincidence America flourished in the 1980's, the Berlin Wall came down and the 70-year-old Soviet Union was dismantled.
A friend sent me a copy of your February 15, 1999, issue of the Standard Bearer on the subject of preterism.
To raise a standard one must have a standard. It's one thing to disagree with a position and those who hold it, it's another thing to lie about what people actually believe. The ninth commandment is still in force. Your editorial is an example of very poor scholarship. It's embarrassing to think that it was written by a seminary professor who is supposed to be preparing students for ministry and truth telling. I will be using it as an example for my students how not to argue. You do your cause no favor by printing such half truths.
Let's have a debate at your seminary. Have your students decide who's telling the truth. Assign them Last Days Madness.Let's see if they come to your conclusions. They should also read Ken Gentry's Before Jerusalem Fell.
I did not use Russell for my research. I was most influenced by the Hebraist scholar John Lightfoot, one of the participants at the Westminster Assembly. He, along with many other commentators, showed that Matthew 24 and II Thessalonians 2, to name just two passages, have a preterist fulfillment. If you read my Last Days Madness and follow its arguments, you might not be so quick to misrepresent a brother in Christ. Will you also attack C.H. Spurgeon for his endorsement of Russell? (See the first reprint edition by Baker.) What about Baker Book House for twice reprinting it? And then there's R.C. Sproul and his endorsement. In fact, he wrote the foreword to Baker's latest reprint edition. Why didn't you mention Sproul and his preterist conference with nearly 4,000 in attendance? Are you afraid that your entire case would be considered suspect if people learned that Sproul holds a similar position and stood with a number of reconstructionists on this issue?
Why don't you do substantive exegesis instead of name-calling.
You state that Jesus' coming is "near." What do you mean by "near"? You never tell your readers.
Hope to read better arguments in the future.
President, American Vision
A member of our editorial committee alerted me to your February 15 editorial, "A Timely Question About 'Preterism.'" It was so twisted in its depiction of the Christian Reconstructionist position that I prefer to assume you are simply misinformed for, certainly, one would otherwise be guilty of slander to so egregiously misrepresent the documentable view of Christian Reconstruction. For example, David Engelsma sweepingly declares: "Christian Reconstruction is committed, willy-nilly, to the full-blown, consistent preterism that strips the church and the Christian of all hope and all salvation."
This is flatly wrong. Christian Reconstruction and "consistent preterism" are antithetical positions, and we made this point categorically in the July, 1997 issue of the Chalcedon Report. Christian Reconstruction embraces the orthodox Christian Faith, crucial aspects of which the "consistent preterists" deny. Some Christian Reconstructionists hold that certain parts of Matthew 24 and the Apocalypse were fulfilled in AD 70, but all of them affirm the future physical Second Advent of Christ, resurrection of the just and unjust, and final judgment. That is, all are orthodox eschatologists. If they were to adopt "consistent preterism," they would thereby abandon Christian Reconstruction - and, for that matter, orthodox Christianity.
Nobody at Chalcedon is a preterist - certainly not as this is today defined. Rushdoony and I hold that most of Matthew 24 and the Apocalypse describe events of much of the interadvental era, including, to be sure, the destruction of Jerusalem. (I myself think Matthew Henry's view is quite on target.) You assert that Russell's view in locating the Second Advent at AD 70 is heretical. We agree, and do not in any way endorse his pernicious work, The Parousia. While some Christian Reconstructionists have more recently accepted a mild, orthodox form of preterism, this interpretation is in no way endemic to our position.
Perhaps to you the Hymenaen heresy ("consistent preterism") offers a convenient issue by which to dismiss our consistently Reformed approach to the Faith, and to advertise your own highly defeatist and implicitly Manichean amillennialism. In any case, if you are committed to attacking our position, please have the courtesy to attack our distinctives: orthodox, catholic, Reformed Christianity; VanTilian presuppositionalism; biblionomy; postmillennialism; and dominionism.
Preterism has never been a distinctive of Christian Reconstruction.
Your readers deserve to hear the facts of this letter.
(Rev.) Andrew Sandlin
Editor, Chalcedon Report
Amen. This has been our experience, too.
When a person realizes that the Holy Spirit is truly guiding his walk, he is strengthened by that knowledge and walks a little straighter, tackles problems more assuredly, and sleeps better knowing God is in control, always confident that "he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours." -- John 4:34-38
"Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours." -- John 4:34-38