Understanding Preterism

I am currently a thirty-five-year-old seminary student, and I have been on an eschatological pilgrimage, if you will, and I am leaning postmillennial, but I am researching now partial preterism and full preterism, and I just wanted to know more about it. What is your take, and where do you stand on such things?

I talked about this a little bit on yesterday’s broadcast along with the Facebook Live that I was doing, which you can also find on YouTube. There are two kinds of preterism that I have been asked about. One is hyper-preterism, or full preterism, and the other is partial preterism. The actual word has to do with the past (preterism is from the Latin word praeter, meaning “past”). This is the view that eschatological events prophesied in the Scripture have already taken place. The manifestation of preterism comes in the forms that I just talked about — partial and hyper.

The partial preterist is within the pale of orthodox Christianity. It postulates that the bodily return of Christ, the bodily return of the dead (i.e., the general resurrection), the restoration of creation, and the final resolution of sin is yet future.

However, hyper- or full preterists contend that all prophecy, including the Second Coming of Christ and the resurrection of Christians, has already been fulfilled. That is why I said on yesterday’s broadcast, and I will repeat today, full preterism is heresy. Flat plain heresy. Of course, you have many full preterists that have called me over the years that would dispute that, but I think it is heretical to say that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ has already taken place, or the bodily resurrection of Christians has already taken place. Full preterists think all biblical prophecy—all—was all fulfilled by the end of the first century, especially with the judgment of destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

The problem is always the same. Hyper-preterists must redefine many essential teachings in order to fit their preconceived notions or their paradigms. The resurrection to eternal life, the resurrection to eternal judgment, the restoration of the cosmos, the second appearance of Christ, all of that has to be redefined. Therein lies the problem of hyper-preterism. For as the Nicene Creed states, the Lord Jesus Christ “ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; His kingdom will have no end….We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come” (see Matthew 19:28; John 5:28–29; 14:1–3; Acts 1:9–11; 3:19–21; Romans 8:18–27; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 15:23–27, 51–54; 16:22; 2 Corinthians 5:9–10; Ephesians 1:9–10; Philippians 3:20–21; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17; Titus 2:13; 2 Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 9:28; 11:13–16; 2 Peter 3:5–13; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Revelation 3:12; 21:1–27; 22:1–5 [cf. Isaiah 65:17–25; 66:22–24; Dan. 12:2]).

Oftentimes people fail to recognize that the word “coming” used in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:1–51; Mark 13; Luke 21:5–36) and certainly in John’s expanded version of the Olivet Discourse — the Book of Revelation — can be used in different ways. Coming can mean the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, although Hebrews 9:27–28 talks about the second appearing of Jesus Christ. It is not as though He is coming from somewhere far away and He has to travel back here. The same is just as if one were to say, “He ascended into heaven, and He had to travel a long time to get there;” that of course is reading the text in a way that it is not intended to be read. When we talk about Christ’s ascension (cf. Acts 1:9–11; cf. Luke 24:50–51), we are really in essence talking about Him transcending time and space, transcending this time–space continuum, and only God can do that. When Christ appears a second time, He will appear. It is not as though He is a long way away. He will appear, as the writer of Hebrews puts it. We can use coming in that sense. The sense of Christ appearing a second time.

We can also use coming in an altogether different sense — Christ coming in judgment. This would be in concert with how the Old Testament prophets used the language (cf. Isaiah 19:1–25). Christ is obviously a greater prophet than them all; He uses the language of the Old Testament prophets and now He applies it to His coming in judgment of those who say, “Crucify Him!” “Crucify Him!” “His blood be on us and our children.” (Matthew 25:22, 23, 25; cf. Luke 23:27–31). Those who do not recognize Messiah in their midst. Those who want luminous limestone and glistening gold, as opposed to the crystal Christ, the paragon of virtue in their midst.

— Hank Hanegraaff

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27–28 NIV).

For further study, please access the following:

Is “Coming on Clouds” a Reference to Christ’s Second Coming?

Which Generation Is “This Generation”?

When Do We Receive Our Resurrected Bodies?

The following e-store resources are also recommended:

The Apocalypse Code (B1026) by Hank Hanegraaff

Afterlife: What You Really Want to Know About Heaven, the Hearafter, & Near-Death Experiences (B1076) by Hank Hanegraaff

Last Days According to Jesus (B512) by R. C. Sproul

Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (B793) by Steve Gregg

This blog is adapted from the October 25, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

One Response to Understanding Preterism

  1. ANY preterism is a false system. What about the Pretribulation Rapture of the Church, the rise of Antichrist, the One World Government, the time of Jacob’s trouble, the Battle of Armageddon, and all the OTHER things the Bible says WILL happen? They are curiously MISSING from your article. I think they are missing because you don’t, like all preterists, believe they will happen.

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