16819Questions for Preterists
- Sep 19, 2009
The entire foundation of the Praeterist interpretation is that certain key prophecies were written specifically for the first generation of Christians, in order to instruct them, warn them, and give them confidence in God’s prophetic word. The Praeterist interpretation therefore suffers if it cannot be demonstrated that the earliest Christians understood these prophecies in the way that the Praeterist claims they were intended to. The Praeterist argues:
That these prophecies were to be fulfilled completely in the first century, That for this reason they were written in language immediately accessible to the believers of the first century, That the true understanding of these prophecies is to be reached by interpreting them in the manner which would have been most natural to the earliest Christian expositors, to whom the prophecies were specifically addressed.
If this argument is true, then we should find:
That the writings of the earliest Christian expositors will provide us with guidance for the correct interpretation of the prophecies, That the expositions of the earliest Christians demonstrate that they held the Praeterist interpretation.
We ought therefore to find that the earliest Christians understood the following prophecies to have been completely fulfilled in the first century:
Daniel 2 Daniel 7 Daniel 9 The Olivet prophecy 2 Thessalonians 2:3-9 Revelation (to at least chapter 20)
The Praeterist insists that the language of these prophecies was chosen specifically with the first generation of Christians in mind. The Praeterist interprets these symbols in a manner which they claim would have been perfectly natural and comprehensible to the earliest Christians. If this is truly the case, then we ought to find the earliest interpretations to be consistent with the Praeterist understanding. Indeed, evidence of such an understanding by the earliest Christians is to be expected if the Praeterist case is true.
But is this what we find when we examine the earliest Christian expositions of these passages? It is not. A close reading of the earliest Christian expositors reveals that none of them understood these prophecies to have been fulfilled in the first century, with the exception of Daniel 9. This undermines significantly the Praeterist case.
The Praeterist claims that contemporary expositors do not understand these prophecies because they were written with the early Christians in mind, and that contemporary expositors lack the mindset shared by the earliest Christians. If the Praeterist interpretation were true, then we would expect to find that the earliest expositors of these prophecies understood them as the Praeterist does. We would expect to find that the earlier the commentator, the more Praeterist would be his view. We would expect to find clear evidence that these prophecies were first understood according to a Praeterist interpretation, and that the later commentaries would become increasingly less Praeterist, as a result of later expositors living in an environment increasingly removed from the original context in which the prophecies were intended to be read.
But in fact, what we find is the complete opposite. We find that the earliest expositors and commentaries do not reflect the Praeterist position. They reflect the Historicist position. Not only that, but we find that it is the Praeterist view which emerges very late, not the Historicist position. In fact, we find that modern Praeterists are compelled to appeal to expositors and commentaries which were written centuries after the earliest Christian commentaries, and we find also that a complete Praeterist exposition does not appear until the late 16th century.
This is the absolute opposite of what the Praeterist insists we should find, and it is encumbent upon the Praeterist to explain this anomaly in his claims.
(Source for the above)
(1) If Nero was the 6th head reigning in John’s day, who is the beast who had the wound and revived, synonymous with the 8th head? If you take Chilton’s route, and tell me it switches from Nero to the Roman Empire after Nero’s suicide, you will then have more problems with which to deal. Such as:
The head does not commit suicide, it receives, “as it were” a deadly wound, but it is HEALED. Preterists take the position that Nero was the one who persecuted and murdered the saints for 42 months, yet the beast isn‘t said to make war against the saints until AFTER the healing of the wound....which would be AFTER Nero's death!
(2) If the Revelation details the destruction of Jerusalem and the Roman persecution under Nero, as Preterists contend, then why are those events described by John in the reverse order of their historic fulfillment? The Roman persecutions under Nero came first, then came the destruction of Jerusalem!
(3) If you, like Chilton, believe the millennial Kingdom of Christ was “inaugurated at Christ’s First Advent, has been in existence for almost two thousand years, and will go on until Christ’s Second Advent at the Last Day” (Chilton, Days of Vengeance, pg. 494), can I also assume, if you believe that, that you believe the sequence of Empires in Daniel chapter 2 to have been:
If so, then you must believe Dan 2:44 has reference to Christ’s first coming, which poses another problem for you. The Roman Empire continued some 400+ years AFTER Christ’s crucifixion, at which time it was THEN divided into 10 kingdoms. Notice that the stone cut out without hands is said to smite the image AFTER the kingdom of iron divides into 10 kingdoms, not BEFORE. It is at that time - “in the days of these kings (kingdoms)” - that God sets up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.
(4) Modern day Preterists have become fond of citing a portion of the Muratorian Canon, in support for an early date of the book of Revelation. It reads thusly:
As for the Epistles of Paul, they themselves make clear to those desiring to understand, which ones [they are], from what place, or for what reason they were sent. First of all, to the Corinthians, prohibiting their heretical schisms; next, to the Galatians, against circumcision; then to the Romans he wrote at length, explaining the order (or, plan) of the Scriptures, and also that Christ is their principle (or, main theme). It is necessary for us to discuss these one by one, since the blessed apostle Paul himself, following the example of his predecessor John, writes by name to only seven churches in the following sequence: To the Corinthians first, to the Ephesians second, to the Philippians third, to the Colossians fourth, to the Galatians fifth, to the Thessalonians sixth, to the Romans seventh. It is true that he writes once more to the Corinthians and to the Thessalonians for the sake of admonition, yet it is clearly recognizable that there is one Church spread throughout the whole extent of the earth. For John also in the Apocalypse, though he writes to seven churches, nevertheless speaks to all.
The highlighted section is they key, and Preterists who have latched onto this supposed 2nd century witness (with a total disregard for the fragment’s reliability, it seems - even though famed Preterist Moses Stuart, himself, states that "no great reliance can be placed on this incondite composition" (Commentary, vol. 1, pg. 266) - have managed to overlook one tiny detail:
If the Revelation was delivered to the saints shortly after John's return from Patmos (his return taking place after Nero’s death), the only way John could have been Paul’s example and predecessor, would be if Paul, who suffered under Nero, wrote his Epistles after his own death!
(the following additional questions were posed by Historicist Jon Burke, a member of the Bible Truth Discussion Forum, to Dee Dee Warren (a pseudonym), a Preterist from the TheologyWeb Campus):
1) I want you to find some expositors who held to your entire eschatological position, lived before the events it describes came to pass, and predicted them accurately.
2) Please show to me the first Christian interpretation of:
a) Jersusalem as the 'Babylon' in Revelation
b) Revelation as a prophecy of the events of AD 70
c) The entire book of Revelation as a prophecy of events which have already occurred in AD 70, and which are not yet waiting to be fulfilled
3) I want you to find the earliest expositors you can who understood that all of the Olivet prophecy had been fulfilled in AD 70, and that none of it was going to happen in the future, even as a double fulfillment.
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