Preterism and End Times
Another view of the ‘end times’ known as Preterism differentiates between the concept of ‘end times’ and ‘end of time’, and promotes a different understanding of these prophecies, in that they took place in the first century, more specifically in year AD 70, when the Jewish Temple was destroyed, and animal sacrifices were stopped. In this view, the ‘end times’ concept is referring to the end of the covenant between God and Israel2)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antinomianism, rather than the end of time, or the end of planet Earth. Unlike all the other Christian theological systems, Preterism holds an exclusive and unique view on the nature and timing of the ‘End Times’, in that Preterists teach the ‘end times’ to be in the first century AD.
Preterists believe that prophecies such as the Second Coming, the defiling of the Temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, the advent of The Day of the Lord and the Final Judgment were fulfilled at or about the year AD 70 when the Roman general (and future Emperor) Titus3)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple, putting a permanent stop to the daily animal sacrifices.
Proponents of Full Preterism do not believe in the bodily Resurrection of the dead and place this event as well as the Second Coming in AD 70, whereas proponents of Partial Preterism do believe in a bodily resurrection of the dead at a future Second Coming. Full preterists contend that those who consider themselves to be partial preterists are actually just futurists since they believe the Second Coming, Resurrection, Rapture and Judgment are still in the future.
Many preterists believe the first-century living Christians were literally raptured off the earth to be with Christ. At that time, their bodies were changed to be like Christ’s. Preterists also believe the term ‘Last Days’ or ‘End Times’ refers not to the last days of planet Earth, or last days of mankind, but to the last days of the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant which God had exclusively with Israel until year AD 70.
According to Preterism, many ‘time passages’ in the New Testament indicate with apparent certainty that the Second Coming of Christ, and the ‘End Times’ predicted in the Bible were to take place within the lifetimes of Christ’s disciples: Matt. 10:23, Matt. 16:28, Matt. 24:34, Matt. 26:64, Rom. 13:11-12, 1 Cor. 7:29-31, 1 Cor. 10:11, Phil. 4:5, James 5:8-9, 1 Pet. 4:7, 1 Jn. 2:18.
Preterism is a view in Christian eschatology4)http://www.theopedia.com/preterism
Which holds that some or all of the biblical prophecies concerning the Last Days refer to events which took place in the first century after Christ’s birth, especially associated with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The term preterism comes from the Latin praeter, meaning past, since this view deems certain biblical prophecies as past, or already fulfilled.
Preterism is most dramatically contrasted with Futurism5)http://www.theopedia.com/index.php?title=Futurism&action=edit&redlink=1, the view that most prophecies regarding the End times, and passages referring to Last Days, Great Tribulation, and Judgment are still future and will immediately precede the return of Christ.
Proponents of preterist views generally fall in one of two categories: Partial Preterism or Full Preterism.
Partial Preterism, the older of the two views, holds that prophecies such as the destruction of Jerusalem, the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, and the advent of the Day of the Lord as a “judgment-coming” of Christ were fulfilled circa 70 AD when the Roman general (and future Emperor) Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple, putting a permanent stop to the daily animal sacrifices. It identifies “Babylon the great” (Revelation 17-18) with the ancient pagan City of Rome or Jerusalem.
Most Partial Preterists also believe the term Last Days refers not to the last days of planet Earth or the last days of humankind, but rather to the last days of the Mosaic covenant which God had exclusively with national Israel until the year AD 70. As God came in judgment upon various nations in the Old Testament, Christ also came in judgment against those in Israel who rejected him.
These last days, however, are to be distinguished from the “last day,” which is considered still future and entails the Second Coming of Jesus, the Resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous dead physically from the grave in like-manner to Jesus’ physical resurrection, the Final judgment, and the creation of a literal (rather than covenantal) New Heavens and a New Earth, free from the curse of sin and death which was brought about by the Fall of Adam and Eve.
Thus partial preterists are in agreement and conformity with the historic ecumenical creeds of the Church and articulate the doctrine of the resurrection held by the Early church fathers. Partial preterists hold that the New Testament predicts and depicts many “comings” of Christ.
They contend that the phrase Second Coming means second of a like kind in a series, for the Scriptures record other “comings” even before the judgment-coming in 70 AD. This would eliminate the 70 AD event as the “second” of any series, let alone the second of a series in which the earthly, physical ministry of Christ is the first.
Partial Preterists believe that the new creation comes in redemptive progression as Christ reigns from His heavenly throne, subjugating His enemies, and will eventually culminate in the destruction of physical death, the “last enemy” (1 Cor 15:20-24). If there are any enemies remaining, the resurrection event cannot have occurred.
Nearly all Partial Preterists hold to amillennialism or postmillennialism. Many postmillennial Partial Preterists are also theonomists7)http://www.theopedia.com/Theonomy in their outlook.
Partial Preterism is generally considered to be an historic orthodox interpretation as it affirms all items of the ecumenical Creeds of the Church. However, Partial Preterism is not the majority view among American protestant denominations and meets with significant vocal opposition, especially by those which espouse Dispensationalism.8)http://www.theopedia.com/Dispensationalism Additionally, concerns are expressed by Dispensationalists that Partial Preterism logically leads to an acceptance of Full Preterism, a concern which is denied by Partial Preterists.
Full Preterism differs from Partial Preterism in that it sees all prophecy fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem, including the resurrection of the dead and Jesus’ Second Coming or Parousia. Full Preterism is also known by other names, such as Consistent Preterism or Hyper-Preterism (a somewhat derogatory term). A related but more recent term is Pantelism10)http://www.theopedia.com/Pantelism, which some regard as an extension of Full Preterism rather than the same thing.
Full Preterism holds that Jesus’ Second Coming is to be viewed not as a future-to-us bodily return, but rather a “return” manifested by the physical destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple in AD 70 by foreign armies in a manner similar to various Old Testament descriptions of God coming to destroy other nations in righteous judgment.
Full Preterism also holds that the Resurrection of the dead did not entail the raising of the physical body, but rather the resurrection of the soul from the “place of the dead,” known as Sheol (Hebrew) or Hades (Greek). As such, the righteous dead obtained a spiritual and substantial body for use in the heavenly realm, and the unrighteous dead were cast into the Lake of Fire.
Some Full Preterists believe this judgment is ongoing and takes effect upon the death of each individual (Heb. 9:27). The New Heavens and the New Earth are also equated with the fulfillment of the Law in AD 70 and are to be viewed in the same manner by which a Christian is considered a “new creation” upon his or her conversion.
Although Full Preterism is viewed as heretical by many, this condemnation is not universal. Many of those who condemn Full Preterism do so not based solely upon the historic creeds of the church (which would exclude this view), but also from biblical passages that they interpret to condemn a past view of the Resurrection or the denial of a physical resurrection/transformation of the body, doctrines which many Christians (but not all) believe to be essential to the faith. Critics of full preterism point to the Apostle Paul’s condemnation of the doctrine of Hymaneus and Philetus (2 Tim 2:17-18), which they regard as analogous to full preterism.
Adherents of Full Preterism, however, dispute this assertion by claiming that any biblical condemnation of a past resurrection was written during a time in which the Resurrection was yet future (i.e., pre-AD 70) as well as claiming different interpretations of other proffered biblical passages.
Furthermore, Full Preterists reject the authority of the Creeds to condemn their view, stating that the Creeds were written by uninspired and fallible men and are simply in error on this point and need to be reformed. A growing movement, there has been a strong push by Full Preterists for acceptance as another valid Christian eschatological view; however, to date, no major conservative denomination or group has officially accepted this view as normative, though several have issued a condemnation.
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