Posts Tagged ‘Preterism’

Book Plunge: With The Clouds of Heaven

January 27, 2015

What do I think of James Hamilton Jr.’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

With The Clouds of Heaven

With The Clouds of Heaven is a look at Daniel and the role it plays in the whole of Scripture, which is indeed a major one. I got this book largely because I do have a great interest in eschatology being an orthodox Preterist. So how did it deliver?

I thought Hamilton’s start was excellent at the beginning talking about how we have an assumed background knowledge when we make a statement. This is what we call a high-context society and the social science studies of the NT world are starting to bring this out more. Hamilton uses the example that he started writing this after the Super Bowl in 2013 where the Baltimore Ravens won. No one needs to be told what the Super Bowl is and no one thinks Hamilton is talking about a bunch of birds in Baltimore. Even I who is absolutely clueless on football knows that. Hamilton gives an example of what he said at his church as the pastor (And might I say it’s wonderful to see a scholar being a pastor too). His church does not have Sunday evening services so in the morning he said during announcements:

Warren and Jody are opening their home this evening to all and sundry. Evidently, there’s something happening on television tonight, maybe you know the details, apparently some commercials are going to be aired. If you’d like to watch the proceedings with others from our congregation, you’re welcome to bring a bag of chips, a jar of salsa, or a two-litre to Warren and Jody’s house.

According to Hamilton, when it was said that something was happening on TV that evening, there were smirks and snickers. Nowhere in this do you see the terms “Super Bowl” or “football game”, but everyone understands. I could go further and say nowhere do you see explained what a two-litre is, and yet Hamilton’s audience no doubt understood this term even if a reader unfamiliar with the language would not. Hamilton is also certainly right that many such allusions like he has in the announcements at his church take place in Scripture. A snippet from somewhere can bring to mind a whole passage.

For example, how many of us could be watching a show and hear a saying like “The Prodigal son returns.” When we hear this, we’re supposed to bring to mind the whole of the prodigal son story. None of this needs to be explained. It’s assumed that even if you’re a non-Christian, if you live in a Western culture, you know at least that even if you don’t believe Scripture, what the story of the prodigal son is. You know it’s a story about a wayward son that comes back home.

I appreciate also Hamilton’s insistence that Daniel is rightly in the canon and that a date that is more traditional does matter. I do wish there had been more on this as he compared Daniel with other writings at the time to show that they relied on it and thus it would have been accepted instead of being something new, but it would have also been good to have seen archaeological evidence presented, such as it now looks like Belshazzar was a co-regent and that’s why Daniel was offered the third highest position in the Kingdom. A later writer would not have known this.

The writing on how Daniel is laid out is also very interesting. Hamilton points to several chiasms that take place in the book. It is truly a marvelous work of literature. He also looks at the four kingdoms. I found it interesting on how after Daniel’s explanation of the dream of the statue with the gold head, Nebuchadnezzar makes a whole statue of gold, as if to say that if he is the gold, then he will make sure he is treated like he deserves.

When we get into eschatology, I did not find the stance of Hamilton too clear and what I did find, I do disagree with. I do not think there is anything in Daniel, especially the ninth chapter, about an antichrist figure. I’m convinced that Scripture does not speak of an antichrist person as much as an antichrist attitude. In that, everyone is either for Christ or they are antichrist. It’s interesting that John is the only one who uses the word, and yet nowhere in Revelation do you find anyone described as the antichrist. I in fact think the abomination described in Daniel 9 is that the pure Son of God was crucified in Jerusalem. What happened in the Middle of the week? That was when Stephen was stoned. It’s noteworthy that when that happens, he says he sees the Son of Man (How often is Jesus called the Son of Man outside the Gospels) standing at the right hand of God. Why standing? Hebrews says He sat down. He’s standing because that’s what you do when you judge. Jesus is pronouncing judgment on the Jews who have now killed the first Christian martyr.

This affects how I also read the way Hamilton thinks the rest of the NT interprets Daniel. I do think the section is interesting as it is a contrary viewpoint as far as I’m concerned, but I just don’t find it convincing and I leave it to readers to see the data that Hamilton provides.

If you like to study eschatology, I do think this is an important book to read and there needs to be serious look at Daniel and not just about eschatology, but how it relates to all of us as a whole. While I disagree with a good deal of what Hamilton says, he has done his homework and that is commendable and I do think again, that a church with a pastor who is also a scholar is indeed blessed. If only more of our pastors would strive to be if not scholars, at least be scholarly, we would all be better off.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/24/2015: Dee Dee Warren

January 22, 2015

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast this Saturday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Often times, we can approach the topic of abortion without thinking about the person involved. This is somewhat understandable when we see statistics. Who of us could think about 4,000 individual babies dying every day? Who of us in turn could think about 4,000 individual mothers and fathers out there who to varying degrees are involved in the choice to end a life?

My guest this Saturday however is a reminder to me that we need to keep that personal aspect in. This Saturday, I am pleased to have Dee Dee Warren as my guest on the Deeper Waters Podcast.

DeeDeeWarren

DDW, as I normally call her, has been a friend of mine for several years. We first met through the medium of TheologyWeb.com, an online place to debate many issues, including apologetics issues as TheologyWeb has a number of atheists and non-Christians that post there, some of whom I understand even contribute financially to the site. It is a place that I think helped shape me tremendously in the work that I do today and I even have my own section on there now next to that of my ministry partner, J.P. Holding.

Some of you may also know DDW from her excellent work in eschatology. If you all want to know who was the main factor in turning me into an orthodox Preterist, look no further than DDW. DDW hosted the Preteristsite.com for several years and the Preterist Podcast and is the main force out there that i know of in dealing with Neohymenaeans. (Those who prefer to call themselves Full Preterists.) She has written also an excellent commentary on Matthew 24 that I understand will be published soon and yes, I hope to have her back on after that to discuss the apologetic value of the commentary.

But that is for another time. This time we are going to be talking about abortion and this is an issue DDW knows quite well and i would say she would encourage us all to do more about abortion than to just post something on Facebook. DDW knows how abortion affects real people and she has put in her service to help stop the act from taking place. I have heard her story on this issue and I found it one to be incredibly gripping and knew I needed to have her on.

Also, I plan on us discussing a more therapeutic side. How do we approach people who are considering abortion on a personal level? What if we meet people who have had abortions in the past? Are there any resources that are available to help them find grace and forgiveness? Not only that, but what about men? Believe it or not, men can suffer from abortion if they had their wives or girlfriends get one and realize later what they did. Men need healing too.

So I hope you’ll be watching your podcast feed for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I hope it will be a story that you will never forget.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/1/2014: David James

October 30, 2014

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A few months back, my wife saw something on television where a book called “The Harbinger” was being discussed. That aroused my suspicion since I’d heard concerns about it from a friend of mine who came out of the occult. Around that same time, a former pastor of mine contacted me and said his church was asking him questions about it and asked if I had anything on it.

I went and got the book myself and wrote a review of it. After that, I decided to look online to see if anyone else had written a review and might have pointed out the errors. No need to reinvent the wheel. I was pleased to find someone had and he sent me his own book in response. As a preterist, I was surprised to find this was a futurist critique as well. I decided then to have him come on the show. His name is David James.

Dave 02 - 400x400

Who is he? In his own words:

David James has an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, a field in which he worked for five years.

After he and his wife were saved in 1984, they attended the Word of Life Bible Institute in the U.S. in 1985. The next year Dave then went to Dallas Theological Seminary where he received his master’s in biblical studies.

He and his family served with Word of Life for 21 years, with 16 of those years as missionaries in Hungary where Dave was the founding director of the Bible Institute, and later the associate country director.

In 2009 they returned to the United States to establish an apologetics and discernment ministry, The Alliance for Biblical Integrity.

As part of this ministry, Dave continues to teach for Word of Life nationally and internationally, as well as at other schools, churches and conferences. Besides teaching, he also does much writing, and weekly national radio interviews on important theological issues affecting the church.

In addition to The Alliance for Biblical Integrity, he works with the ministry of Prophecy Today, where he administers and teaches in a master’s and doctoral-level program in advanced eschatological studies.

He has been married to his wife Karen since 1980. They have two adult children who are married.

I have had a problem with much end times talk since so much of it relies on conspiracies and eisegesis of Scripture. Let it not be said I’m going to my fellow preterists on this one. With talk of blood moons and everything else being discussed these days, Christians need to not chase after the sensational in studying eschatology but need to rely on that which can be soundly backed.

I’m glad to have David James be my guest this Saturday to discuss this topic and hopefully it will clear up some confusion, especially since the author of the Harbinger has recently come out with another book that is already selling well in Christian bookstores. I hope that you will be listening to our show as well and watching your ITunes feed for it.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Jesus, The Temple, and the Coming Son of Man

September 30, 2014

What do I think of Robert Stein’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

There are many secondary debates in Christianity that I just don’t care for at all. I have no desire to touch a debate on Calvinism with a ten-foot pole for instance. Eschatology, however, is an exception. I’m not sure why that is, but I just happen to really enjoy eschatology. It could be in our culture if we live in America, we grow up in a culture that has what Gary Demar calls “End Times Madness” and we have to find our place in it.

When I started my journey, I was a pre-trib, pre-mill dispensationalist. I was a full supporter of the rapture and just couldn’t see why people couldn’t see that in the Bible. Now I’m pretty much opposite. I have reached the conclusion where I am an orthodox Preterist and wonder how it is that anyone can see a rapture in the Bible.

That’s one reason I was curious to see a book such as Robert Stein’s on Jesus and the Olivet Discourse, that is Mark 13. What was his view on the little apocalypse that Jesus gives in this chapter? Would he match up with my Preterist understanding or would he challenge it or would he fall somewhere in between?

Right off, any reader who is thinking he will affirm a view that is more in line with Left Behind will be sadly disappointed. In fact, that position is largely argued against in the footnotes. There really aren’t many people in the scholarly world, even those who are Christians, who take such a position any more. It’s largely also an American phenomenon.

I happened to agree with many of Stein’s viewpoints and interestingly, he places them in the context of historical Jesus studies not only showing what he thinks that they mean, but showing also how they fit in with the quest for the historical Jesus, which largely sought to remove much of the eschatology from Jesus or else totally redefine it with something that would fit in more with an Enlightenment point of view.

I also liked that he did say much of the discourse has to apply to 1st century Judea. It would not make sense otherwise and it would only apply to those who were living in Judea. There is no general command for all Christians to flee to the mountains. There is only the command to do so when you are in Jerusalem and you see what you will know as the abomination that causes desolation. (To which, his candidate for that is entirely plausible.)

I did disagree on some points. For instance, when it comes to the coming of the Son of Man, I do see that as a coming that is heavenly. It is the sign that Jesus has been vindicated. I base this largely on Daniel 7 where Jesus approaches the Ancient of Days. If He is doing that, then it is clear that He is going up. He is not coming down.

I also would have liked to have seen a bit more on the passage that no man knows the day or hour but only the Father. It would have been good to have seen how this would reflect the high Christology that Stein says is in Mark, especially when it says that the Son of Man will send forth His angels. (note the use of His.) This is indeed something the church would not have made up as it would be embarrassing, but how are Christians to understand it?

The book does have several helpful references in it including pointing out the hyperbole that is often used and the constant comparison to Old Testament language. If we are to understand Jesus, we must understand him in the cultural matrix He spoke in, which included a culture that was saturated with the Old Testament and the thinking of Second Temple Judaism. Much of our misunderstanding in eschatology comes because we do not make this distinction.

The points that I disagree with are not primary to eschatological understanding and overall, I agree with the bulk of Stein’s approach. I also find it interesting that he chooses Mark to focus on since so much of even the early church just didn’t seem to care too much for Mark. It’s good there is a scholar who does really appreciate this Gospel and wants to bring out all the gems we might have missed.

Therefore, if you want a good look at the eschatology of Jesus with some historical Jesus studies thrown in, I think this is one you should add to your library.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?

September 1, 2014

What did I think of David James’s book responding to the Harbinger? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Most people who read my material know I am not a friend of dispensationalism. I consider it to be a belief that has zero Biblical support and think that orthodox Preterism awaiting the return of Jesus and the bodily resurrection is the true message of Scripture in regard to eschatology. This does not mean that dispensationalists are my enemy. I married one. (Although she does hope my view is the true one.) I have many friends who are of a futurist persuasion. 

Despite this, if I’m cruising around on Facebook and see some sensationalism on the walls of Christians friends, it usually has to do with end times. Just this past week, I’ve had to deal with the claim that Jesus said the name of the antichrist was Barack Obama (And I am no fan whatsoever of The Empty Suit) and that Obama is also planning to implant RFID chips in people which as we know just has to be the Mark of the Beast!

Unfortunately for the dispensational camp, the sensationalists usually do carry the day. Right now, one of the big items going around is Blood Moons. I still remember being in a Christian bookstore with an aged pastor talking to the clerk about wanting to read the book on it and about his excitement with “Biblical Prophecy.” 

Sadly, I’m sure books by N.T. Wright, Mike Licona, and William Lane Craig are being neglected while Christians read spiritual junk food.

Another big one in recent times was the Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn. Cahn is of the opinion that he saw a message from God that everyone else missed in the 9/11 attack and the following economic collapse and all of this was said to happen according to what was written in Isaiah 9:10. Of course, this is done by selective usage of facts and horrible Scriptural interpretation, but hey, details. Who needs them?

It’s natural that a Preterist like myself would condemn such a work.

It’s a breath of fresh air that a dispensationalist like David James does.

Yes. James’s book is definitely worthy of praise. James does not go in for any of this in the book. He has nothing against Cahn as a person, but he does think that Cahn’s idea of America being given a warning of judgment starting with 9/11 has no backing whatsoever. He does think that Cahn is right in that America needs to repent, and I do agree with that point, but the warning has not happened the way Cahn thinks it has.

Naturally, James and I disagree on a number of points. We could probably sign the same statements on the veracity of Scripture and of course, we would agree on the great creeds of the church. Each one of us has a viewpoint that falls within the realm of orthodoxy. Still, I would not agree with his view that much of prophecy is future with the rapture of the church coming and I would not agree with his views on Israel. (I also don’t care for the term “replacement theology.” I prefer the term “Grafting in theology.” God did not replace Israel. He expanded it beyond what it was to include people in all places, of all languages, and all cultures, and all times.)

That’s what makes it so wonderful. This isn’t a battle of dispensationalism vs. Preterism. This is good interpretation vs. bad interpretation. This is also a danger of getting into the sensational. In a private email with James, I even told him that as I was thinking about futurism, I decided to use Blood Moons as an example and said “Suppose for the sake of argument that these were true messages from God. So what?”

Seriously. So what?

Are we to say that if you knew Jesus Christ was going to return in say, a year, that you’d suddenly start living differently? Then you have a problem right now. If you are truly living a Biblical life, and to be fair none of us truly are definitively, then it should not matter to how you live your life really if you know Jesus will return tomorrow or if it will be 1,000 years from now. Your marching orders are still the same.

Fortunately with the Harbinger, James has done his research and he has done it very well. He looks at each and every piece of information given by the prophet in the story and shows how it doesn’t line up. He shows that Cahn is highly selective in the material that he chooses to presents and ignores quite often the historical, linguistic, and cultural context of the information. In many places, he is quite loose with the facts.

James also looks at Cahn’s behavior since the publishing of the Harbinger and how many times, while he denies being a prophet (And probably the son of a prophet) and denies that this is really a prophecy about America, his actions seem to say otherwise. There are many chances he’s had to clear it up naturally and it hasn’t been taken.

Also, later in the book, he shows Cahn is entering quite dangerous territory with using material that could be considered more occultic in nature, like the Zohar. While I have no problem with extra-biblical sources, I do think some can be quite dangerous at times not because of challenging ideas, but if there’s the possibility of the occult, we must be careful. Even if it is not so, Cahn gives a more dangerous spin as inspiration seems to play a role into what goes into the Zohar.

James also deals with the idea that America is a covenant people. As I have said, a covenant requires agreement by two parties. Anyone can stand up and say they’re in a covenant with God. It isn’t one until God returns the deal somehow. No one can force God to be in a covenant. He is the initiator of the covenant. 

Unfortunately, the sad reality is more people will read Cahn’s junk food than will read James’s antidote, and this is a shame. In our society, too many people only want to read or pay attention to that which agrees with their own conclusion and do not show any proper interaction with the other side. I am sure James’s character would also be attacked if more people knew about this book. (Well obviously, he’s just resisting the Holy Spirit.) Such is the way of thinking, or rather non-thinking, in our culture.

While I disagree with James ideologically, I find in this book he is entirely level-headed and not going for the sensationalist stuff that too many dispensationalists are and sadly, that group that is sensationalist becomes the group that most people perceive the whole as being like. I only wish there were more out there who were like James. While we disagree on many issues, our disagreements will focus more on Scripture than anything else. I urge dispensationalists, preterists, and everyone in between to read this book. If you know someone who has read the Harbinger, get them to read this one as well.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Apostles Creed: From There He Will Come

July 11, 2014

What does it mean to say that Jesus will come? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I hold to an eschatology that is preterist. That means that I believe a lot of fulfillment of prophecy is in the past. In fact, if you’re a Christian, so do you. You believe the Messianic prophecies have been for the most part fulfilled in Christ. I also hold that much of Revelation and the Olivet Discourse is also past.

So when it comes to the coming of Christ as it is stated in the Olivet Discourse, I don’t think this means coming to Earth, but rather coming to the throne of God and sitting at the right hand. Yet when it talks about coming from the throne, then I believe we are talking about a coming to Earth.

There is a viewpoint out there that is known often as full preterism or hyper-preterism. I prefer to call it Neohymenaeanism. Some people have asked me why I don’t call myself a partial preterist. The reason is because I believe the teaching of Neohymenaeanism is actually a heresy and if that’s what you call full preterism, I will not be considered a partial heretic.

I think the ultimate problem with the Neohymenaean position is not what it says about eschatology so much as what it says about Christ. Much of your study of the end times will revolve around the question of who you think Jesus is. We are told that our resurrection body will be like that of Jesus. If the resurrection is something spiritual, then that would mean that Jesus’s resurrection is just a spiritual resurrection as well. We’re into the territory of the Jehovah’s Witnesses with this one.

We can be told that Jesus is the exception, but that is not what I see in Scripture. I see instead that we shall be like Him and we shall be like Him when He comes. Since I hold to the bodily resurrection of Jesus, I hold also to the bodily transformation of those who are His when He returns.

Some of you might think that my holding an event to happen in the future makes me a partial-futurist. It does not. It makes me a Christian. The return of Christ has been a part of the Christian creeds, such as the one that we see here in the Apostles’ Creed. It is part of orthodoxy to believe in the return of Christ to put an ultimate end to the problem of evil.

Let’s also all be wary of one really foolish tendency that seems to exist among Christians. Do not attempt to date when the return of Christ will happen and if you believe in the rapture, don’t attempt to date that either. If you do so, you run the risk of embarrassing not just yourself, but the Christian faith.

Too many Christians have tried to find loopholes in what Jesus said. “Oh we won’t know the day or hour, but we can know the year!” This is just trying to do what Christ would not want us to do and this kind of energy could be better spent in other ways, such as fulfilling the Great Commission.

To which, if you ask me, that is how we speed the return of Christ. I find this based on the end of 2 Peter 3 that we live godly lives so we may speed His coming. Besides that, even if I’m wrong, we have our marching orders to do the Great Commission anyway so there’s no reason not to. Sounds like a good deal. We do what we’re supposed to do and if I’m right, well then we have the ultimate end of evil all the sooner.

Go out and be looking for the return of Christ, but don’t just look. Work also. You have your marching orders regardless of your eschatology. Do them.

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

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

Book Plunge: Jesus – Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium

March 5, 2013

Did Jesus fail at prophecy? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Just yesterday, I finished reading Bart Ehrman’s “Jesus – Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.” Before I had even started the book, I made a prediction on Facebook. I predicted, as an orthodox Preterist, that not once would Ehrman mention Preterism in his book.

Turns out, I was right.

Makes me wish I’d made a bet with someone….

Honestly, I don’t even think he mentioned dispensationalism or any form of futurism by name. Christian eschatological systems were absent, which is quite odd. It’s why I found this book to be quite a mixed bag. Of course, there’s the usual material about historical methodology, which is fine, but yet while there was much talk about apocalyptic thinking, there was not much looking at apocalyptic thinking.

At the start, Ehrman wants to paint a string of predictions from our time down to Christianity. He first starts with Edgar Whisenant and then Hal Lindsey. Next we go to the Millerites. Then, it’s Joachim of Fiore around 1200. After that, Montanus at the end of the second century. From this, Ehrman concludes every generation has had its own apocalyptic visionary.

Could be, but looking at such a sparse sample in 2,000 years does not show it. It gives the impression that Ehrman has looked at a sparse sample and made a strong conclusion based on it. Of course, his case could be correct still, but the problem is that there was not sufficient evidence given.

Of course, for Ehrman, the first examples of this were Jesus and Paul. So does he make that case well?

Before making his case, Ehrman wants to tell us about the historical method and how he studies the text. It’s at this point that those who read Ehrman frequently, like I do, start to hear repetition going on. If you have read one Ehrman book, you have read all of them essentially. You’ll find the same themes and the same arguments, a number of times they’re even quoted verbatim. (I checked. pages 114-115 quote much of page 241 in the third edition of his NT introduction word for word. Of course, it could be I’m just mistaken and both times he copied from an E document….)

Of course, when reading a book like this, it’s important to note the concessions he makes that most internet atheists would run in terror from. For instance, on page 22, he says the best sources, of course, are those nearest the time of Jesus Himself.” He then says “It turns out, as I’ll show later, that the oldest narrative accounts happen to be the four Gospels of the New Testament.”

Interestingly, when talking about the authorship of the NT, he says on page 43 that the tradition from Papias needs to be considered seriously. Apparently, it wasn’t serious enough that students reading the NT introduction needed to consider it. Ehrman also makes the statement about how Eusebius thought Papias was a man of exceedingly small intelligence, not mentioning that Eusebius said this because of Papias’s views on eschatology.

Ehrman tells us the testimony is 100 years later and looks suspicious. Why? We are told that Irenaeus would want apostolic origins for the gospels. Then why have Matthew, Mark and Luke? Matthew was an apostle, but he certainly wasn’t the most famous one of all! If you’re making up an apostolic name, why not Peter or James? Why would you have Mark be the author of a text instead of just saying Peter? Why would you choose Luke?

And of course, a more fundamental question, when is the source for the claim that Plutarch wrote the works of Plutarch? For all of Ehrman’s suspicions, it is appropriate to just ask the question of other historical accounts of the time that we accept on much less evidence.

Ehrman makes the claim about bias we’ve seen often. On page 89 we read, “Whenever you isolate an author’s biases, you can take them into account when considering his report. That is to say, statements supporting his bias should then be taken with a pound of salt (not necessarily discarded, but scrutinized carefully.)”

Can I not look at this and claim “I’ve seen Ehrman’s bias. He’s a non-Christian wanting to argue for the unreliability of the biblical account. Therefore, I should take his claims with a pound of salt.” Of course, someone could take the same approach with a Christian author. My contention at this point is simply that bias is often an excuse.

Bias can make people color reports, but it can also lead to increased accuracy. Holocaust museums ran by Jews are quite accurate. Does anyone want to deny that they have a bias? Is there any doubt the NT authors had a bias? None whatsoever. Yet how does that lead to the conclusion they would make inaccurate reports? It’s just as arguable that they would realize the importance of their mission and how essential the claims were and want to make doubly sure they were accurate.

On page 195, Ehrman writes that “For events in the ancient world, even events of Earth-shattering importance, there is sometimes scant evidence to go on.” He had earlier said on page 57 that the eruption of Vesuvius was only mentioned by one author. Unsaid is that that was an off-the-cuff remark even. The purpose of the writing was not really to tell about the eruption. If this is the case, what’s the big deal with no one mentioned an empire-wide census on page 39?

When he talks about apocalypticism, he does make the case that I would make in many instances. We need to talk Jesus’s claims about a kingdom coming seriously. We need to realize what he was doing with the sermon on the mount and with miracles. We need to realize that he was showing what the kingdom of God would be like.

The problem is that Ehrman dances all around the edges without really considering what he’s arguing. For him, the end of the world did not come and the kingdom supposedly did not come and so Jesus was wrong.

If Jesus had been thinking about the end of the world, it is a wonder why he would tell people in the Olivet Discourse to flee. If the world is coming to an end, there is really not much place to flee to. Ehrman’s problem is the same one he had as a fundamentalist. Actually, he’s still a fundamentalist which is the problem. He is taking the text literally. He is assuming there must be a grand cataclysmic judgment. (Although to be fair, there was. It was the destruction of the temple, something unbelievably huge for the time.)

Could it be the Kingdom came and Ehrman didn’t realize it?

Could it be that the spreading of the Christian gospel and the name of Jesus being spread through all the Earth is the Kingdom coming? Could it be billions of people on Earth proclaiming that Jesus is Lord is showing that He is king? Could it be that the Kingdom is indeed growing as a mustard seed?

Ehrman has the same problem as he often does. He does not interact with contrary ideas. He has instead made a weak case that only depends on a literal interpretation of the text and therefore says that the case is made.

My Preterist self is not convinced.

Frankly, I’m enjoying being part of the Kingdom and especially love seeing that it demonstrates that Jesus was right.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Note: We will be discussing this book 3-5 EST on Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast. Why not join in? http://www.cyiworldwide.com/deeper-waters.html

Book Plunge: The Destruction of Jerusalem

January 8, 2013

What hath 70 A.D. to do with Christianity? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Awhile back I posted on Jehovah’s Witnesses and Doomsday and stated that I am an orthodox Preterist in that post. What that means I believe that much of prophecy has been fulfilled, including the Olivet Discourse found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. I look forward to the bodily return of Christ and the bodily resurrection from the dead. It’s my thinking that God will redeem the Earth for man to live on forever with Christ ruling as king.

Being an owner of a Kindle now, one advantage is that old books are so easy to come by. You can get several for free. The one I’m reviewing today is not free, but recently a Christmas gift didn’t work out and I was told in exchange “Get on Amazon and buy within this price range.” So I did. One book I got was one that my friend DeeDee Warren, of the Preterist Podcast, recommended to me. It’s called “The Destruction of Jerusalem: An Absolute and Irresistable Proof of the Divine Origin of Christianity”, by George Holford

Something else important about this book. It wasn’t free. Many old books are, but it wasn’t. I suspect it’s because it is reprinted a number of times. In fact, the original one was written in 1805. This is not a new idea that is being presented. If anything, the futurist idea that is most common today is the new kid on the block. In responding to objections even, Holford doesn’t even mention anything about not taking the text literally or something of that sort. There is no mention of a futurist idea.

What do we have instead? We have a description of the destruction of Jerusalem. Our main source if Josephus, but Holford gives a good basic run down. I can warn people that if you are squeamish, this is not the book for you. In fact, if you are really that bad, this might not even be the blog post for you. We can look and say “Jerusalem got destroyed. Was it really that bad?”

Let’s see. Blood pouring through the temple. Trees being cut down just so everyone could be crucified. Bodies being cut open just so that thieves could get to the precious metals that people swallowed hoping to pass out through their system later. Mothers having to cook their children just so that they could have something to eat.

Yes. It was that bad.

And that’s just a minor sample of it.

So what has this to do with Christianity being true?

All of this was prophecied by Jesus. Jesus was seen as just a carpenter’s son. He was not a statesman or a politician. He was a teacher and yet, he made this prophecy. What it says about Him then is that He had divine knowledge about what would happen, which was never amended with “Thus says the Lord.”

Instead, Jesus spoke as if in the place of God. Why was the temple destroyed? Because Jesus was the Messiah and in rejecting Jesus, the Jews at the time broke the covenant with YHWH and thus, He abandoned the temple and left it to be destroyed by the Romans.

This would mean that Jesus was who He claimed to be and the charge of rejecting Him was incredibly serious. Of course, Holford deals with objections to his idea such as maybe Jesus was just fortunate or maybe the accounts were written after the events took place. For the latter, we today have the blessing of further scholarship which can make a powerful case that the accounts are indeed written before the fall of Jerusalem.

A negative point is that Holford does make a point about Israel not being reinstated until they repent. Unfortunately, they have been reestablished as a nation. It is my contention that this has zip to do with prophecy. Why? Check the OT. The requirement for returning to the land and restoring the covenant was national repentance. Has anyone seen repentance on the part of Israel on a national level and them turning to their Messiah?

As an aside to this, I will stress that I do support the nation of Israel still, but not for theological reasons. I support them for political reasons. I see Islam as a threat and I see Israel as a buffer to them over there. I don’t center all my policies on Israel, but I certainly don’t think America should abandon such a strong ally.

Also, I think if you have a good defense of the resurrection, that would be an excellent supplement to this book, but I would hope something like this could at least open the door to the possibility that maybe Jesus had some divine insight and maybe if Jerusalem was destroyed in this way, the claims should be taken seriously.

Skeptics need to read this book in order to get an understanding of what exactly happened and consider the possibility that maybe prophecy be real. This is especially true in a day and age where so many skeptics say “Jesus could not have been the Messiah since He even got wrong the time of His return.” (I would contend He said zip about His return. He was talking about His coming to His throne.)

Futurists should read this book in order to consider the possibility that maybe the Preterists have a point. I meet too many futurists who think they don’t need to read anything on Preterism because we don’t take the Bible literally there and so it’s ipso facto absurd. (For interpretation, the best resource is Last Days Madness by Gary DeMar.) If you have a view you think is true, you should have the courage to read one who disagrees.

Preterists need to read this in order to have a good explanation of why this is so important. One blessing with this is our futurist friends can read this book in a day. I did. In fact, it’s just 69 pages long. You could read it in a couple of hours. Also, if you are unfamiliar with DeeDee Warren who recommended this book, I will include a link to the Preteristsite which also has a link to the Preterist Podcast.

I highly recommend this book. It’s a good short read that would be a complement to any library.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The book can be found for sale here

The Preteristsite can be found here