Archive for the ‘Eschatology’ Category

End Times Hopscotch

January 27, 2014

Are we really reading the passages the way they were meant to be read? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I was asked to reply to a video found here. I think it is important to respond to such videos because frankly, the end times can be scary for a lot of people. When I was a pre-trib, pre-mill dispensationalist, I found it frightening also. Yeah. It’s kind of neat thinking the rapture can happen at any time, but kind of frightening too, and what about all those people left behind? What about all the destruction to come on the Earth? What about the antichrist?

With movies like “Devil’s Due” coming out, we can be sure end times mania is not far from people’s minds. That and I understand that a remake of Left Behind is in the works. It can hardly be the case that a ruler in the Middle East will sneeze without prophecy experts showing up immediately. Unfortunately, these experts have a great track record of being wrong as J.P. Holding of Tektonics shows in this video and in this video.

This is also why I think it’s important that people get their bearings straight on eschatology. Even if you come from a different view than I, at least know what you believe. That way, you won’t be able to be blown around by everyone who comes along with a new interpretation.

So let’s look at this video that I’m writing about together.

The video starts early saying not many people know what the Bible says about the second coming of Jesus Christ and therefore, they are in danger of being deceived.

As an orthodox Preterist, I think too many already are unfortunately. A first century event has been turned into an event sometime to occur in the distant distant future. Now some people hearing me identify myself as a Preterist might wonder what I’m talking about. For that, I recommend that you go here and here. I’m sure the makers of this video will count me as one deceived. Oh well if they do. In order to do so, they will need to address my criticisms.

Next we are told that on the day Jesus returns, there will be a polar reversal. What I’m wondering immediately at this is not about the polar reversal (Although I am wondering what passage of Scripture says this), but rather about that word “return.” Are we talking about the second coming or return? Are these one and the same?

This is a problem I have with futurists often. What do the words mean? Does the rapture count as a coming? Is it maybe a half coming since Jesus never fully comes to Earth supposedly but just appears? If this is a return, then is it the event described in Matthew 24? If so, then that leads to even more concerns. Paul ties in the return of Jesus with a mass resurrection in 1 Thess. 4 and in 1 Cor. 15. Nowhere in Matthew 24, Mark 13, or Luke 21 do we read anything about a resurrection. Why would Jesus not mention that and that be the main event Paul mentions?

According to the video, Isaiah 24:20 says “the Earth will shatter and crack and split open. The earth will stagger like a drunk, and sway like a hut in a storm. The world is weighed down by its sins. It will collapse and never rise again.” Immediately after this, the speaker jumps to Revelation 6:12.

Shouldn’t we finish looking at Isaiah 24 first?

You see, this is what I call Biblical hopscotch. You take one passage here and then hop over to another passage and then hop to one more passage never staying in any book for long to get a real taste of it. Imagine going to a restaurant and going to a buffet line and just taking a little piece of so many foods but never really sitting down and enjoying a meal. That’s the kind of picture that is taking place here.

So the futurists I meet are all about taking the text “literally” (A term that is highly misunderstood and as I show here led to disaster for the opponents of Jesus. Most people don’t understand that literally really means “According to the intent of the author.”

The video wants to move past Isaiah 24. I don’t. If we take it literally, then what happens? The earth is split. The text says cracked and shattered as well. And yet, somehow, the Earth supposedly has remained in one piece. Well maybe it’s not that literal…..

It’s literal except for the times that it contradicts the theory apparently, and then it’s not literal.

What’s going on is that the prophet Isaiah is giving descriptions of judgments on the nations around Israel. The language is apocalyptic to describe in cosmic terms the political events that will take place. An example of this is Isaiah 13.

9 See, the day of the Lord is coming
—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
to make the land desolate
and destroy the sinners within it.
10 The stars of heaven and their constellations
will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened
and the moon will not give its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil,
the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people scarcer than pure gold,
more rare than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble;
and the earth will shake from its place
at the wrath of the Lord Almighty,
in the day of his burning anger.

This sounds to many people like the end of the world. It’s not. It’s judgment on Babylon. Some readers might be thinking “Well obviously, Isaiah is talking about a Babylon that will show up in the far far distant future.” Why think that? Israel was concerned about Babylon then and this can show a fulfillment.

In Isaiah 23 we start to hear about the destruction of Tyre. Why think the prophet will suddenly interrupt this to talk about the world being destroyed? Listening to many of these end-times experts, you’d think the only time on Earth that the prophets were concerned about was a distant time when followers of YHWH supposedly won’t even be on Earth! (Save for “tribulation saints.”)

And besides, if the Earth is never to rise again, then how can it be that Christ will rule on the Earth? Is Christ going to rule over ruins? I thought His Kingdom was supposed to be a glorious Kingdom!

Once again, if you read it in a wooden sense, it cannot be consistent.

So let’s go on to Revelation 6.

In the NIV, the passage cited reads “12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.”

We’re given a detailed scientific account of what’s supposed to happen. Okay. I’m not a scientist. I can’t comment on that. Savvy readers who are skilled in the sciences are welcome to leave a comment about the matter. I am sure of this point.

If one star were to fall and hit the Earth, we would be doomed. I’m also quite sure that if the sun turned black, we wouldn’t be able to see the moon at all to tell what color it is.

The speaker goes to Psalm 97:5 that says the mountains melted like wax before the presence of the Lord to illustrate this.

Little problem there. Psalm 97 has everything in present tense. It is describing realities going on right now. The point is not global upheaval. The point is that all creation is to submit to the ruler YHWH. If the way the video reads the Psalm is the way we are to read it, then Psalm 98:8 will be an exciting time when the rivers clap their hands and the mountains sing for joy.

Okay. That would be a cool video to see.

Now we jump to Revelation 16:20 which says that every island fled away and the mountains were not found. Then there’s an immediate jump back to Revelation 6:15.

Exactly how are we to read the book of Revelation? Can we just jump wherever we want to and apply it in whatever method we want to?

Interestingly, 6:15 speaks of evil people who go to the mountains and ask them to hide them from He who sits on the throne and the wrath of the lamb.

You know, those mountains that the video just said had crumbled and the ones that Revelation 6 says were removed from their place prior….

Yeah. I don’t get it either.

The video then tells us that the global earthquake will cause every building to fall. Isaiah 30:25 calls it the day of the great slaughter.

Really?

What else does Isaiah 30 say?

Well actually, it’s not a prophecy of destruction at all!

“23 He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. 25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.”

Note that it says the land will be rich and plentiful. We are told streams will flow on every mountain (Those mountains that had either crumbled or been removed) and every lofty hill. The moon will shine like the sun! (The moon that was supposed to be blood red and the sun that was supposed to be dark) and the sun will be seven times brighter. (Yes. That dark sun will be seven times brighter.)

And you know, if this was really a time of great blessing, it would not be a blessing for the sun to be seven times brighter in a wooden sense.

And what’s going to happen? God will heal his people. This is not judgment! Unfortunately, too many people will just hear what the vid says and not really look up the references. Understandable unfortunately, but a mistake.

Next, it’s back to Revelation 16:21 and hailstones about 100 pounds each falling.

So apparently in this time of great prosperity for God’s people, there will be giant hailstones falling on the Earth. Seriously. On what grounds does one have the right to jump from Isaiah 30 and suddenly go back to Revelation 16 like this?

Okay. Now we move on to Matthew 24:30 with the sign of the Son of Man appearing in the heavens. Every one will see him and He will come on the clouds. The video also goes to Revelation 1:7 saying everyone will see Him, even those who have pierced Him.

All of whom, by the way, are dead now….

And let’s talk a little bit about coming and clouds. These are words of judgment as well which show that the deity is acting. In 2 Samuel 22, David describes a past event and says

“7 “In my distress I called to the Lord;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears.
8 The earth trembled and quaked,
the foundations of the heavens shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
9 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
10 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the Lord,
at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

Notice that David is talking about a past event, but read through the books of Samuel and you will not find this literally taking place. You will not find God hitching up his angels to go on a ride and shoot arrows at the bad guys. What will you find? David’s enemies regularly got judged, and often through natural means. But for the ancients, the deity (or deities) were involved in everything. Notice also the language David uses. He speaks about the Earth shaking and the foundations of the heavens trembling. This is language of destruction, but we have no record of a great earthquake in the lifetime of David.

We see the language of coming in Exodus 3

“7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.”

God has come to rescue His people? But God Himself didn’t show up in Egypt. It was Moses who showed up and performed the works of God.

And in Matthew 26:64, Jesus says this to the high priest at his trial.

““You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.””

Note what Jesus says. From now on, Caiaphas will see this. This is not a one-time future event. This is going to be a continuous event. Note also that Jesus will be coming and at the same time, sitting at the right hand. How is this possible, unless coming is a way of saying that Jesus will be judging! This court that has convened to judge Jesus will actually be judged by Jesus. Caiaphas himself will see this.

So either, this has happened, or else Jesus gave a false prophecy. Your choice.

And in Revelation 2:5, we read this to the church in Ephesus.

“Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

So if this church does not get its act right, the second coming will take place?

Now of course, the video goes to 1 Thess. 4 and we hear about the rapture. Therefore I am once again wondering about the viewpoint of the video. Are they post-tribulational? Are they mid-trib? Yet they say the Christians will be saved from this terrible wrath. How can that be if this wrath has already started and the Earth is reeling, which is necessary since they say this is how every eye will see Jesus? Again, I am confused.

And as for meeting him in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord, does that mean we are always going to be remaining in the air? Once again, the text is to be taken literally, except for when it is not to be taken literally.

The video also goes to 1 Cor. 15 yet my question still remains, where in Matthew 24, Mark 13, or Luke 21 do we see this resurrection take place? Why did Jesus leave out such an important detail?

The video then says that we will all be gathered with the Lord to defend Israel. (Kind of odd that Jesus leaves out that bit too about defending Israel. Kind of odd especially since passages like Matthew 24 actually describe judgment on Israel and not a hint of deliverance. In fact, Christians are told to flee Israel at that time.) The text jumped to for this is Rev. 19 and Zech. 14:4.

We’re told Jesus and His army, notably us, go out to wage war against the many arab nations and the antichrist, that figure who has not been spoken about this time, but is apparently enjoying a successful career reigning where every building has been destroyed! Apparently, all these tanks of the enemy are going to fight just fine despite the sun being darkened.

We go to Joel 3:16 for this one.

“The Lord will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem;
the earth and the heavens will tremble.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.”

What is going on in Joel? Well, we’re not told. Joel is a difficult book to date. Some date it to the 6th century. Some date it to the 9th. It does describe present realities going on and an army that God will defend His people from. Note however what is said in verse 18.

“In that day the mountains will drip new wine,
and the hills will flow with milk;
all the ravines of Judah will run with water.
A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house
and will water the valley of acacias.”

Those mountains again. They’ve been destroyed and they’ve been removed both, but now they’re going to drip wine. Let’s hope this doesn’t interrupt the singing they’re supposed to do in Psalm 98.

We go back to Rev. 19 long enough to hear we’re riding on white horses and dressed in some fine white linen. (Note that Rev. 19:8 says that fine linen stands for righteous acts of God’s people. I mean, yeah, the text explicitly tells you that the term it uses just a few verses later is symbolism but hey, details, who needs them?) From there we jump back AGAIN to Joel 2 and start at verse 4.

4 They have the appearance of horses;
they gallop along like cavalry.
5 With a noise like that of chariots
they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
every face turns pale.
7 They charge like warriors;
they scale walls like soldiers.
They all march in line,
not swerving from their course.
8 They do not jostle each other;
each marches straight ahead.
They plunge through defenses
without breaking ranks.
9 They rush upon the city;
they run along the wall.
They climb into the houses;
like thieves they enter through the windows.
10 Before them the earth shakes,
the heavens tremble,
the sun and moon are darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
11 The Lord thunders
at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
and mighty is the army that obeys his command.
The day of the Lord is great;
it is dreadful.
Who can endure it?

Now some of you might have caught on to that I look at the whole context and figured “Aha! I have you now! Look at what is said in verse 2!

” a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.”

Never was in ancient times and never will be in ages to come! This must be a grand climatic final battle!

Well, no.

For one thing, the author assumes history will keep going because there is a time after when this will supposedly never be again.

But this is typical hyperbolic language. If you’re going this way, you have some problems. For one thing, consider 1 Kings 3:12 when this is said to Solomon.

“I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”

So realize what this means! By this interpretation, Solomon was wiser than Jesus was. Do you want to say that?

For another example, look at 2 Kings 18:5

“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.”

Wow. No king like him before or after. (Did Hezekiah trust in God more than Jesus did?)

Yet in 2 Kings 23:25 we read

“Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.”

So did the writer of Kings totally forget about Hezekiah who he wrote about just a few pages earlier, or is this just hyperbolic language used to describe a great event?

In 2 Chronicles 30:26 we read about Hezekiah’s Passover that

“There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.”

Yet in 2 Kings 23:22 we read about Josiah’s Passover that

“Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed.”

The same situation is being described. It’s hyperbolic language.

So what about the rest of the passage?

Noteworthy is the sun and moon are darkened and the stars no longer shine. Will they make up their minds what they’re going to do? If Isaiah 30 had been taken in its full context, the sun would be seven times brighter. Now it’s no longer shining. Did it burn itself out or something? The stars will no longer shine? I thought they had all fallen earlier! What’s going on?

And heck, I think it’d be pretty sweet to see armies of horses entering buildings through windows! Why can’t I see a vid of that?

The vid goes on to talk about the antichrist and his mark and false miracles and the Lake of Fire. (And apparently, this army is advancing just fine despite the sun being dark.) And hey, at least this video gives us a really cool fire-breathing Jesus!

So what’s the next passage in this vid? Ezekiel 39:6. It reads “I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.”

Well isn’t that special?

Let’s see what else the text says!

Speaking to Gog, the villain in the passage, we hear that

“3 Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. 4 On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. 5 You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. 6 I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.”

So apparently, this army of the future will be fighting with bows and arrows. They will also fall on the mountains of Israel. (Will those mountains again decide what it is that they’re exactly doing? Are they crumbling? Are they being removed? Are they singing?) The animals and carrion birds will eat the armies as food. (Because those animals will surely survive well in a devastated wasteland where they can’t see because there are no lights in the sky shining.)

Then in verse 9 we read

“Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up—the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. ”

So these wooden weapons will be burnt and used for fuel. Sure, the vid shows tanks and not shields and clubs and spears but hey, details. Who needs them?

Hopscotch continues with Revelation 20 and the binding of satan. So satan, a spiritual being, is being bound with a chain and locked up somewhere. Once again, the language is meant to be metaphorical and it’s important to note it doesn’t take the Son of God to defeat the devil. One angel can do it. The great power raised up against God can be dealt with by one angel. (Empowered by God of course)

Then we go to Matthew 25 and the parable of the sheep and the goats. The problem with a passage like this being used is that it leads to a works salvation when not understood properly. The reality is that these good deeds are not done to obtain salvation. They are done because one already has salvation. Such misuses have produced unnecessary fear in the hearts of Christians who simply want to know they are in the right with God.

I have seen a longer version of this vid where there is an ending with a message of salvation. That’s important to have, but still lacking. It ends with a “Sinner’s prayer” and then says go find a good born-again church. (If you’re a new Christian, how are you to know what that is?) Our churches today unfortunately stress highly the concept of having conversions. They do not stress discipleship.

And besides, I’m concerned that this focus of evangelism will only work if you already accept the premise that the Bible is true. If you don’t, it’s just fearmongering. The apostles went a different route. They said Jesus is the risen Lord and King of the universe. Caesar is not! Get in line!

How much better off we’d be if we got that message instead?

What can be learned from this. Always check the context! We’ve found a great game of hopscotch going on in the biblical text, but the interpretations just do not hold up. There has not been given a methodology whereby we are to know how one is to apply which text where and listening to this kind of material, you’d think the only time the prophets were interested in talking about was this time in the future.

I am increasingly concerned more and more with a church that is caught in Last Days Madness, but is not growing in the knowledge of who Christ is and learning what it means to say Jesus is the resurrected Lord or learning more about their Bibles and how they have been handed down. Christians today often cannot defend the resurrection of the Lord, the central foundation of the faith, but they can sure bring out their charts and graphs to explain the end times!

Unfortunately, videos like this just add to the hype and in my opinion, increase the biblical ignorance. The Bible is a rich literary work that needs to be read in its proper context. When we treat it like a document written in our way of speaking, we do it, and its divine author, a disservice.

Keep in mind that in this post, I have certainly not disproved a futurist or dispensational approach. I disagree with those, but that is not my intent here. My intent is simply to show that I think a sort of sloppy reading of the text has taken place. Such reading has had a history of producing apostates of the faith who still insist other Christians read in a wooden literal sense. Let us seek to return to treasuring the Bible as the rich work that it is and realize understanding it is not a simplistic approach, but a difficult one that will require our time and effort.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Some Questions Concerning My Preterism

August 14, 2013

Why do I hold to the eschatological view that I do? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I normally don’t write about secondary issues, but eschatology is one subject in this category I do enjoy and I also think it has direct apologetic relevance, such as when asked about if Jesus got wrong the time of His coming. Last night at an apologetics meeting, a loyal reader of the blog asked if I would write about this again. This got us into a conversation that our group leader soon joined in on. I’d like to take some comments and questions from that discussion and present them here to explain my position.

“Are you a true Preterist?”

Yes. I am certainly not a false one. I am a true one in the sense that I hold to what Preterism really teaches. I hold to the Olivet Discourse being fulfilled and to the fact that Jesus did have his coming to his throne in 70 A.D. as shown in the destruction of Jerusalem and that one day He will return to meet the living and raise the dead, those who have done good to a life of eternal joy, and those who have done evil to a life of eternal torment. (Note. Some Preterists would hold to a position of annihilationism.)

“Where do you depart from the Preterism that says everything has been fulfilled?”

This has it backwards. It is not the case that my belief is a departure from that viewpoint. It is that their viewpoint is a departure from not only mine, but from the historic Christian faith, that has held to the fact of the bodily return of Jesus just as much as the bodily resurrection and the final judgment. Believing in these events is one of the core doctrines of Christianity and a statement of eschatology upheld in the creeds of the historic Christian church.

“Do you think when Jesus returns He’ll become the King of the Jews?”

Not at all! You might as well ask if I’ll become human on my birthday next month. How could I? I am already human. In the same way, Jesus is already the King of the Jews. He is the King of everyone. He’s the King of this universe entirely and just because someone does not recognize that does not make Him any less Lord. Caesar was not Lord in the Roman Empire because of popular vote or personal choice. Caesar was Lord because he ruled. Christ is Lord because He rules as well.

“When will Christ return?”

Beats me. We don’t make those kinds of predictions. My thinking is that it will happen when the world has been evangelized and more and more people have come to the gospel. That is my guess from Scripture, but that cannot be put in a time frame. I do note that 2 Peter 3 says we can speed His coming and I think this is through the work of evangelism. Do you want Jesus to return soon? Don’t go trying to make a red heifer or set up a temple in Jerusalem! Do evangelism! You know, that thing that he’s already commanded us to do anyway!

“What about all the work to build a temple in Jerusalem?”

What about it? People are doing it, but it’s an exercise in futility. Want to see the real temple of God? Go look in the mirror! Paul told us while the old temple was still standing that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God dwells in us. To return to a temple is to return to a system that has been abandoned.

“What about the land promise to Abraham?”

What about it? The promise was set in place until the one through whom it was meant for. That is Jesus. Jesus has come. Because of that, the covenant is done and we are in the new covenant. Why return to the old? In fact, those who are in Christ, the true children of Abraham, are told that they will not just inherit a piece of land, but will in fact inherit the whole world!

Furthermore, when we look at the NT evidence, even a Levite named Joseph, also called Barnabas, sold his land in Acts 4. Why would a Levite sell the promised inheritance? Probably because he understood that it was not going to be worth anything. Jesus was going to judge the place soon and the old system was done. In fact, if you want to see that this is what the early church was teaching, just look at Acts 6:14.

“So you don’t see any connection with prophecy and what’s going on in the newspaper today?”

Nope. Not a bit. There have been several “prophecy experts” throughout the years. Here’s something they all had in common. They were all wrong! Every one of them! So if I’m approaching a group that has a track record of always being wrong, why should I listen to them? We make a point that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have always been wrong about prophecy, but then we ignore the most popular teachers today that are always wrong about prophecy and want to say “Yes. Well that was that generation, this generation is the one!”

Something that’s been said by most every generation.

“What about the evil in the world? How can you say Christ is King now?”

Again, what about it? Christ on this Earth said that if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God is among you. Thus, Jesus was bringing the Kingdom in their very midst and yet there was the devil right there at work. In fact, we could say the devil was the most active during that time.

Also, look at Psalm 110, one of the most important chapters for studying eschatology in the Bible. “The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” Please observe that. Jesus is sitting at the right hand, a place of rule, UNTIL His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. It does not say He will sit there when His enemies are made a footstool. Jesus is at the right hand right now. What does that mean? It means He reigns right now!

“Don’t you know that there were worse things that could happen than what the Jews under went in 70 A.D.? A nuclear holocaust would be much worse!”

This is problematic in that it’s saying “If you can think of anything worse than the destruction that happened then, then you haven’t thought about the worst tribulation. Okay. Then should we reject that in Revelation itself if taken as futurist? After all, we have passages that talk about, say, 7,000 being killed. Make it 70,000. That’s worse. What about if 1/3 of the Earth is killed? Okay. Make it 1/2. That’s worse.

I also always ask if Solomon was the wisest king who ever lived. He was promised that in 1 Kings 3. Does this mean Solomon was wiser than Jesus? We are told about how Hezekiah was the most righteous king who had a Passover unlike any before. We are told none after him or before him were like him in 2 Kings 18:5.

We’re also told the same thing about the righteousness of Josiah in 2 Kings 23:25.

So not only was the author foolish enough to contradict himself in such a short time, but apparently, both of these kings were more righteous than Jesus!

The language is clearly hyperbolic. Just look at old destructions. What about the flood? What about Sodom? What about the plagues on Egypt? All that is being said is a superlative, much like Nebuchadnezzar being called King of Kings. That’s how people did superlatives back then.

“I can’t accept everything as hyperbole.”

Nor am I asking you to! The idea is that Preterists allegorize and make the text hyperbolic. The reality is we ALL know there are allegories and hyperbolic statements in Scripture. Despite what is being said by some, Jesus does not really want you to HATE your parents. He instead wants you to realize that compared to Him, your devotion to your family must be secondary.

We also know that there are allegories, yet I don’t know a single Preterist who would say everything in the Bible is allegorical or everything in the Bible is hyperbolic. Instead, we simply try to study the Scripture to find what the original author wanted us to get. In fact, we hold our position because there are some indicators that we indeed think should be taken literally.

These are timing indicators. Before entering the apocalyptic mode of Revelation, we are told that these things will take place soon. In Matthew 24, we are told that this generation will not pass away. If you look through all of Matthew, every reference to “This generation” refers to the generation that Jesus interacted with. Am I supposed to think that the meaning suddenly changes when it reaches its grand finale in the greatest generation claim of all?

“I just don’t see it.”

In reality, I totally understand this one! I think most Preterists would in fact! I used to be a pre-trib, pre-mill dispensationalists. I have no problem with recognizing such as my brothers and sisters in Christ after all. Why would I? I’m married to one. We agree on the essentials. They’re just wrong on eschatology.

Most of us hold this view I suspect because we grew up with it and we’ve heard it all our lives and it usually seems like the simplest view, but I honestly cannot hold to it. I can safely say there is not a single verse of Scripture on this that makes me wonder if such a scheme might possibly be true. That is how sure I am that at least the normally default position is incorrect.

What I advise is to just let people be willing to examine the reasons why people like myself hold the position that we do. An excellent book on this is Gary DeMar’s “Last Days Madness.” Another excellent resource is the Preterist Podcast of DeeDee Warren, which I am largely indebted to for providing much of the substance I have on orthodox Preterism.

I hope this clarifies my position. Do note I am definitely not making a statement about the salvation of someone who holds to a dispensational position. I hope in turn that others will realize that my position is also not a salvation issue. Those of us who are orthodox Preterists hold to essential Christian doctrine.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Demon-Haunted World?

August 9, 2013

How is a Christian supposed to reply to the demonic? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

One of my good friends is Jeff Harshbarger, who wrote two books on the occult which include personal testimony of his involvement with demonic powers and how he came out and is now a Christian. He is now the head of his own ministry, Refuge Ministries, where he uses counseling to help people get out of the occult.

But here’s something I really like about Jeff. He’s someone who admits the reality of demons, but he’s not someone who sees demons every where and despite having personal experience in the past with demons, he warns Christians to not spend too much time thinking about demons and not to worry about them.

Now keep in mind in all of this, I am indeed affirming that yes, I do believe demonic activity is real. I’ve heard too many accounts from people who I know to be intelligent and reliable that are firsthand accounts that I cannot deny that it has happened. I also have of course, as a Christian, biblical testimony to the fact.

Yet we must approach this realistically. As C.S. Lewis said in the Screwtape Letters “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

I have written plenty of times about my problems with a materialist view of reality, so if you’re on that side, this blog is not written to argue against you. This blog is written to deal with the problem that Jeff sees as well, and that’s Christians having too much of a fascination with demonic activity.

In fact, these Christians in having this can often take a view of Scripture that I consider to be occult. Scripture is treated as if it was a magic book and if you say this passage, you will ward off any demons that are in your presence. Now do I deny that there is power in the truth of Scripture? Not at all. What I have a problem with is its careless usage without a proper understanding of what is going on in a text of Scripture.

For instance, how many times have I seen a Christian use the passage about “My word will not return to me void.” When saying it, these Christians take it to mean that if you cite a passage of Scripture, it will be used and it will come back with results. I don’t think this is a Christian view of Scripture but an occult one.

For one thing, the passage is about the pronouncements of God Himself and what He’s saying is “If I make a statement, you can be sure that I will deliver on it.” It does not mean that we are the ones who can always deliver on His statements. God is not obligated to do our bidding. We are obligated to do His.

Furthermore, we often see people misuse Scripture, such as the devil in the temptation of Jesus, groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, and of course groups like the Word of Faith community that think faith is a force whereby they can shape reality.

When we have this fixation on the occult, it will not keep us away from it, but will in fact draw us into it. Up and coming apologists. I make this warning to you. There are many areas in apologetics I try to at least have a basic knowledge of. This is not one of them! I have been warned by those much greater in the field than I and much more skilled NOT to even touch this stuff. In fact, they themselves don’t do it because the occult has such a drawing power. That’s why I leave it to people like Jeff.

We will also have undue fear in our lives of anything that could seem to be “occult” when we have this focus. I have interest in many activities that I’m sure a lot of Christians with this kind of fixation look at as occult. I play the Final Fantasy games regularly. (In fact, one of the songs played at our wedding was from Final Fantasy) I have every Harry Potter movie that there is and I’ve read all the books. I make it a point to know the difference between fantasy and reality.

Here’s something more important. I make it a point to know Scripture even better. It is in knowing the true God that I am supposed to be drawn to Him more and more. It can be good and helpful to have a good angelology and that includes knowing something about demons and any student of Scripture should know something about them, but that is as a metaphysical topic and not an occult topic and is not meant to be a fixation.

When we live in fear of everything around us and constant worry about the occult, we also have the sad condition of making ourselves look ridiculous to the world around us. Most of the world around us already thinks we’re crazy. We don’t really need to do anything to add to that.

Also, our culture has a fixation on end times. Most readers of this blog know that my view in end times is that of orthodox Preterism, but I’m happily married to a dispensationalist and I have several good friends who are dispensationalists.

If you want to be one, be one, but this is a problem I often warn against for dispensationalists. Make your fixation be Christ. Some are unfortunately so caught up in knowing the identity of antichrist that they do not pay as much attention to the identity of Christ, the one who they are to stake their whole identity in.

Now in all of this, there is no saying that Christians should be reckless, but do not let your Christian walk be defined by paranoia of anything that could have a negative reputation. Take the time to examine each issue and be settled in your own mind. If you disagree with your brother, feel free to make a case, but listen to his case back on why he doesn’t have a problem with what he does. It could be you’re wrong. It could be he is. Follow the admonition of Paul. Let each be convinced in his own mind.

And overall, remember to focus on God and His revelation in Christ. Christians are not to live their lives in fear, and that includes fear of the demons.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why I Call Myself A Preterist

March 6, 2013

Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say I’m a Partial Preterist? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Yesterday, after writing a review of Ehrman’s “Jesus — Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium”, I got a number of requests on Facebook. To be precise, four friends asked me about my view and were asking me “So are you a Full Preterist?” or “Why don’t you call yourself a Partial Preterist?”

I had planned to write about why I hold the eschatological view that I hold today, but I wish instead to write first about why I call myself what I call myself.

I suspect most of my readers are likely futurists. I have nothing against futurists. I’m married to one. I just think futurism is wrong. It is still well within Christian orthodoxy. Futurism basically thinks that much of prophecy is yet to be fulfilled seeing great significance in Israel coming back as a nation and looking for a third temple, a reign of antichrist, a great tribulation, etc.

Preterism on the other hand refers to past fulfillment. We believe the majority of prophecy has been fulfilled in the coming of Christ and is being fulfilled right now. Just last night I was discussing this with someone who started telling me “Assuming Revelation is linear” to which I said “I don’t assume that.” I happen to see Revelation as cyclical, the same story is told over and over and in grander tones each time.

I was asked “Do you believe in a great tribulation?” I responded that I did and when asked when I thought it might be, pointed back to the destruction of Jerusalem. Now of course, we who are Preterists can interpret passages differently. My view of Revelation might not be held by all. Yet what we have in common is we see much has happened, particularly in 70 A.D. The Olivet Discourse with the saying of “This generation” was an accurate prophecy.

Note at this point I am just explaining the view. I am not defending it. What we all look forward to still is the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked and to the bodily return of Jesus. That does not make us partial futurists. That makes us Christians. The creeds tell us that we look forward to the return of Christ and the resurrection.

There are people out there that call themselves Full Preterist, True Preterists, or just Preterists. I prefer to call them “Neo-Hymenaeans.” These people think there is no future resurrection, we’re in our new bodies now, and there is no future return of Jesus physically. My friend DeeDee Warren at the Preteristsite.com has the best material in dealing with this group that is a full heresy.

That’s not just my opinion. Look at the quote she has from Neo-Hymenaean David Green on her site. (Note that for Green, Preterists like myself are considered futurists since we believe some things are future.) Green’s quote is as follows:

“Keith Mathison was correct on this point: If futurism is true, then [full] preterism is definitely (not “possibly,” as I said) a damnable doctrine.”

I happen to agree with him. This view is heretical.

So why not call myself a Partial Preterist?

Because if Preterism is used to describe a heresy, why would I want to call myself a partial heretic? You might as well consider being a partial modalist or a partial Arian. I am not partially a heretic in any way. I am entirely orthodox.

Thus, I prefer to call myself simply an orthodox Preterist. I hold a view that is within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy believing all the essentials of the faith. I refuse to let the name of the view that I hold in eschatology be tarnished by people I consider heretics. The name “Preterist” means something to me and I will not let someone else control the words.

I hope that is enough to explain to people why I call myself what I do. Now why do I hold the view I do? That is another question and one that we will discuss another time, maybe even tomorrow.

In Christ,
Nick Peters