I have a friend who is pretty well versed in the scriptures. We have been talking and now she is wanting to discuss her preterist views. Now before I put my foot in my mouth unnecessarily, are there any foundational points that I should consider before discussing anything further. I know that you discussed this once but I do not remember which email it was in. What about the resurrection already having taken place in her view. Please drop a few pointers to me. Thanks.
If ever there was an interpretation getting away with exegetical ‘murder’, it’s certainly preterism. They are forced to separate what God has joined. For example, it is exegetically impossible to separate the day of the Lord from the destruction of Jerusalem. The day of the Lord is the hope of Israel in the OT and the church’s hope of Christ’s return in the NT. Orthodox preterists rightly recognize the NT’s references to the day of the Lord as still pertaining to the church’s “blessed hope” of Christ’s return, but inconsistently deny its relation to the tribulation and Jerusalem for entirely dogmatic reasons.
To do this, they must deny that the post-tribulational return of Christ described in the synoptics (MT 24; Mk 13; Lk 21) is connected with the church’s hope of Christ’s return, which, of course, the NT itself unambiguously identifies with the still-future day of the Lord (1Thes 5:4 et al). Thus they must make the return of Mt 24:29 a mystical return that is alleged to have happened in the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem.
But who can fail to see that all of the language that Jesus uses to describe this coming is manifestly taken from OT passages describing the day of the Lord, and in all of those OT contexts, the final unequaled tribulation revolves around the issue of Jerusalem and the Land. Separation is impossible. They must commit the same exegetical violence by separating this from two other inseparables, namely, the three and one half year advent and career of Antichrist (compare Dan 11:36 with 2Thes 2:4, 2Thes 2:8) and, of course, the resurrection itself, which Dan 12:2 places immediately AFTER the tribulation, just as Jesus puts His return in glory “immediately AFTER” the tribulation Mt 24:29 (compare also Dan 12:1 with the context of events in Rev 12).
Check it out, brother! The whole end time is built around a final, unequaled tribulation, a final personal Antichrist, Jerusalem, the covenant (Dan 11:28, 30, 32; Ezek 38:18; Joel 3:2), the land, the everlasting hatred of Esau (Ezek 35, 36, Obadiah), the return of Christ, the destruction of the Antichrist (Dan 7:11; 11:45), the resurrection, and the final deliverance of captive Israel at the day of the Lord. The relationship is indivisible and undeniable!
Yet, because the 70 AD fall of Jerusalem did not include the literal return of Christ in glory at that time, the vision was reinterpreted and consequently lost, along with the apocalyptic urgency of the early apostolic witness. After that, the church interpreted all of this allegorically in relation to itself, and unfortunately the reformers didn’t adequately ‘reform’ the eschatology inherited from Augustine, on whom the reformers relied heavily for his thoroughgoing Pauline soteriology.
Because of such an esteemed tradition, many continue to uncritically adopt the reformers amillennial-historicist approach to eschatology. It is amazing that, due to its replacement presuppositions, the church itself keeps the issue of Jerusalem and a coming time of Jacob’s trouble from being declared from the roof tops. And the pre-tribulationists do little better, despite their futurism and zeal for things pertaining to Israel, since they assure us that Jacob’s trouble is really only “Jacob’s problem”, as the church will be long gone.
So it is the church that is cheating the world of one of the greatest apologetics for the faith, which if rightly used, could set the whole redemptive plan of God in clearest relief. So the church, through its loss of the apostolic perspective, is actually missing its most golden opportunity to invoke the powerful evidence of prophecy in order to press the claims of Christ on the conscience of a skeptical modernity.
Your brother, Reggie
For a more detailed statement see the article “Preterism’s Achilles Heel“