Preterism is just as wrong as Futurism/Dispensationalism

Chart from Divine Plan of the Ages, Studies in...

Wrong way to read Scripture. Fun, but wrong. 

There are plenty fo subgroups in each of those camps; however, keep in mind that what I am about to write applies to all of them regardless of how they differentiate amongst themselves.

Everyone generally knows what a Futurist or Dispensationalist believes — Christ is still to return, bible prophecies remain unfulfilled, and the like. A Preterist believes, for the most part, that all of the biblical prophecies have been fulfilled. As previously discussed, prophecy is not about the future, about about revealing the ongoing move of God in the world around us. A prophet, then, did not issue foretellings about some long distant event, but told what was happening or what was about to happen. Seeing as I believe this, then I cannot be a dispensationalist.

On the other hand, I find Preterism as equally repugnant because it still misuses the idea of prophecy. Revelation is not a book written in 60 about 70. Instead, it is a book written at a particular time about a particular set of events. We find something similar in the Esdras apocalypses among others. They were coded messages of hope for a particular community against a particular threat. To say, then, that there were real prophecies is not accurate because it misuses the term and suggests that the author was not writing for his community in his time and place.

Preterism, then, is just as wrongheaded as dispensationalism.

Thoughts?

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Post By Joel Watts (10,048 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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11 thoughts on Preterism is just as wrong as Futurism/Dispensationalism

  1. Joel

    Prophesy, in so far as it involves foretelling, is, if it is fulfilled, fulfilled by God’s assent that it should be so fulfilled. God is not only the initiator of the prophesies we are discussing and that foretell of events to come; he is also their fufiller, their director and their manfestor . That is, he governs the way in which they manifest themselves, and the circumstances in which they manifest. This I think, is solid so far?

    A strength, a purpose, of The Bible, is believed by many, and I guess I’m one, to be that its is God’s vehicle for gradual revelation; especially and specifically in regard to the arrival of an Incarnate Messiah.

    This idea of The Coming of Jesus builds incrementally and is added to in substance, expectation, and distinctiveness in a more or less chronological progression.

    Once Jesus has Come and is Incarnate, he himself uses the writings of the Old Testament, ‘The Psalms, The Law and The Prophets’ in his own teachings and explanations of his teachings. Commonly a phrase like ‘In your hearing today this scripture is fulfilled’, is attributed to Jesus, and to all intents appears to be authentically ascribed to him.

    Don’t ask me how I know this is ‘authentic’ – I just get a strong assent inside that ‘yes, that sounds like Jesus speaking’. Not much to go on, I guess.

    So having said all this, I would argue that foretelling indeed looks to be a part of prophesy and as such is a part of the Prophetic cry recognized and accepted and even ‘groaned for in the spirit’ by those ‘who longed to see [His] day and did not’.

    I believe we must try hard to cultivate patience. To cultivate patience with ourselves, within ourselves, for others, and for God. So much there is we don’t know; and which we shall never know, with any certainty. Our outlooks are extremely limited; even the best of us; even the greatest polymaths, the deepest thinkers, the most resonant empathisers; all of us are in the dark for the most part.

    So patience with ourselves is forgiveness of our own foibles and peccadilloes, once we have made our peace with God concerning them. This, our own incompleteness and so fallibly, is the rock on which we have to try to build our patience and liberal outlook towards others, also incomplete and so fallible. ‘Forgive us our trespasses,as we forgive them who trespass against us’.

    And with wrestling for patience can come, if a person is fortunate, an insight, a gift graciously and divinely given, that realizes for a person that there is no need for certainty, or to seek for or to reach out to certainty ; not least because certainty is elusive, even illusory, and a ‘hook’ we might want to hang hats on, but which is not efficacious or beneficial to assume.

    On the contrary, certainty is capable of much grief and harm, in many instances when it has been thought to have been found.

    So what we are left with is trust, hope, faith, and charity; all of which are in my opinion close to certainty; closer than most facts or most strongly held beliefs or convictions.

    In the play Hamlet Shakespeare has Hamlet sing a ditty to his love Ophelia; a ditty which gets at were I’m trying to go:

    ‘Doubt that the sun doth move
    Doubt that the stars are fire
    Doubt Truth to be a liar
    But never doubt I love’

    I guess then, the bottom line here is that we relax, and really not get upset or dogmatic about prophesy and its various roles and other persons’ understandings of these roles for prophesy.

    There’s enough room in Heaven for a lot of we erroneous creatures of the half-light; and a few discrepancies between us about how we view our life hope and our life need are graciously and patiently waived and counted not as points to be held against us. Of this I am pretty certain/ regards/Peter

    • Peter, besides some sort of gut feeling that Mormons, Muslims, pedophiles and everyone else with something to prove has, could you give me solid, historical scholarship as to why you believe what you believe?

      I have linked to mine and I could add scholars after scholars. No gut feeling, but sound conclusions drawn from accurate information and evidences.

      You are going around in circles, and that’s fine, but all you have really proved is that in the end, you will only go with what feels right — to you you.

  2. “Preterism, then, is just as wrongheaded as dispensationalism”. Have to agree. Use to think I was a partial preterist. Everything complete except the 2nd coming. Too many references to “soon” to ignore. Now I favor Revelation as pious fraud. War propaganda, about 70 AD, but written afterward, to boost Jewish pride, and insult Rome, In a back-channel way. Influenced by Pagels, who I know you don’t like. But I think she has got it right.

    • Gary, to each his or her own! But I wouldn’t call it a pious fraud. It is as it was, if we understand it. I think it was (an)Jewish-Christian to be sure, written after 70? to detail something more than an insult!

  3. To be honest, I’m not an academic, but admire what I know of their work. Yet, I have a question. Why didn’t Jesus choose a single academic to be in his core group of followers? There were certainly plenty around, many of whom apparently having an extraordinary knowledge of the written Scriptures. ??? And yet it seems, the world was turned upside down…???

  4. ” to detail something more than an insult!”. Certainly more. Hope, revenge, scared straight repentance. I see it in the same light as Deuteronomy being accidentally found in the temple under construction under Josiah. Same pious fraud. Good intentions. But not prophecy. Revisionist history to keep the faithful (as few as there might be), in line.

    • But, isn’t that nearly the same thing as prophecy? That unveiling of the hidden political realities?

      And yeah, it does compare to Deuteronomy – which is in of itself a prophetic book. (that is, if we understand prophecy right – if we understand prophecy a part from the current evangelical perversion of the concept.

  5. Ok. On to turkey or tofu. I’m just thankful we don’t have to do any wave offerings, and rip the poor birds apart ourselves. Now we have butchers do it instead of priests. Makes the altar much more sanitary. There is a reason to like ancient Romans after all.

  6. Hi Joel , may I ask what your eschatological views are? Do you share the views of scholars like Stark , Ehrman and possibly Allison , that Jesus was wrong? Been reading quite a bit lately , and this was on my mind!

    • Paul, I don’t think Jesus was wrong – I just think we were wrong about what we think Jesus meant and said!

      My views are this – Jesus, if he said what he said in Mark 13, was right on the money when the Temple was destroyed.

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