Is it heretical to think some prophecy has been fulfilled? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
I wrote recently about my position as an orthodox Preterist. What’s amazing to me often times is how many people assume I’m teaching some heretical doctrine right at the start. I hold to every doctrine that is essential for salvation. I am right up there with the Trinity, deity of Christ, salvation by grace through faith, future bodily resurrection, past bodily resurrection of Christ, etc. I also hold a high view of Scripture.
Yet this misnomer gets tossed around regularly and what’s really stunning is that most people who say it to me freely confess they have not studied my position at all. Even worse, most of them think that they don’t need to. Meanwhile, when I spoke about this at my old church in Charlotte, I got several books on dispensationalism to make sure I was representing them properly. I was further convinced by reading them, but I gave them a chance.
Little tip here. If you’re sure your position is correct, why should you fear the other side? On the other hand, if you come and treat my view in a way I see as ludicrous, why should I be convinced?
I’d like to give an analogy of the way I see prophecy. Suppose you live in 50 A.D. and you are a Christian in Jerusalem. You are talking to a person who is a Jew and does not believe in Jesus as Messiah. When reasoning with a Jew, the Old Testament prophecies will be an essential part of your evangelism. Here are some objections you could hear.
“How could Jesus be the Messiah if we have not been restored to the Davidic Kingdom?”
“Wouldn’t the Messiah make sure that Rome is eliminated?”
“We still have demonic activity here with our exorcists having to work. Wouldn’t Jesus eliminate that?”
“Isn’t there supposed to be universal peace?”
Couldn’t you point to some of your own prophecies? You could. You could say some have been fulfilled in Christ. Here’s some responses you could hear back. (I do realize chapters and verses weren’t added until later so please excuse that anachronism)
“Oh? You say John the Baptist fulfills Isaiah 40:3? Maybe Mark should have told you the next part:
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Obviously, the valleys were not raised up and every mountain and hill made low! We still have them! You’re just spiritualizing the text!”
“Isaiah 53? The same one that says:
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
Don’t allegorize the text!”
“Zechariah 9? Yes. It says he’ll come riding on a donkey. What else does it say?
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
I don’t see that rule going on right now! Don’t allegorize it!”
What has happened? You believe some prophecies have had a past fulfillment. With regards to the coming of Messiah, you believe some prophecies are past. You do believe some are future still, such as what is to happen at the return of Christ or as the Kingdom spreads, but obviously, some prophecies are you are not taking literally. You don’t believe the coming of John the Baptist means the topography of Israel was literally changed.
In those days, you would be a Messianic Preterist talking to someone who believes the Messiah is future, a Messianic Futurist.
Note also, with regards to the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24, you would also still be a futurist as 70 A.D. had not happened yet.
Why do I say this? Because just like you in 50 A.D., I look at Jesus and say some prophecies he made have already been fulfilled. I could be wrong, sure, but what is inherently heretical about that? For instance, if I think he prophesied the destruction of the temple and I see that the temple was destroyed and to beat that, within one generation, am I not justified in that?
You could say that it could be my stance on the nation of Israel. If I don’t believe in a future fulfillment or a third temple, I am not in line with orthodoxy. How could that be? Our doctrinal statements are about Christ and not about Israel. Note also orthodoxy is what you believe about Christ, not antichrist.
If you lived in the first century in 50 A.D. you would say some prophecies have been fulfilled even if not literally. I am doing the exact same thing today. The Jew back then would have said you were not being a true Jew even though you certainly were being one. The problem is he’s assuming Scripture must be fulfilled the way he thinks.
It would be a shame to make the same mistake.
Again, I could be wrong. If my eschatology is wrong, I’m open to it. My simple stance is people who disagree with me should be open as well. Even if another view is wrong, it can help you understand and appreciate yours more when you see what the other side says. Give it a try.
Note: Please keep in mind that eschatology will be part of the discussion this week on the Deeper Waters Podcast. It’s on Saturday from 3-5 EST.