From the outset let me say that I have dear friends and brothers who are fellow Christians and labourers for Christ who hold to a preterist position. The point of my articles is to engage myself on these doctrines. However it is not to prove that my partial preterist friends are heretics, they are much loved brothers. Furthermore the aim of these articles will not be to cause division, an individual who divides over eschatology (which remains within orthodox Christianity) is a divisive man who should be avoided. I have and always will recommend people to partial preterist churches, even though I disagree with them on this issue.
This first article is just to give a brief breakdown of the terms used and the two camps.Following from this the doctrine will be engaged.
Normally when people talk about eschatology (doctrines of the end times) generally they are defined by their millennial position (premillennialism, amillennialism, or postmillennialism). However the question we will be discussing here is ‘Are you a preterist or a futurist?’ The argument is really about when the prophecies of the Olivet Discourse in the Gospels (Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21) and the book of Revelation are fulfilled.
The term preterism is from the Latin (praeter) which means “past.” Preterists suggest that the above mention eschatological texts are really prophesying the events of the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem. Preterism says that, these prophecies were fulfilled in the Roman siege and destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. At this point let me say that there is a difference between partial and full preterism. Full (or hyper) preterists believe that all of the prophecies regarding the second coming of Christ, most significantly the “resurrection” of believers, were fulfilled in the first century. Partial preterists hold that the majority of what is declared in the book of Revelation (and the Olivet Discourse) was fulfilled in the first century, yet there remains a future judgment, a resurrection of the dead, and a bodily return of Christ. Preterists theologians which I will be engaging are only from the partial preterist camp. Generally, both partial preterists and futurists see full preterism as outside the realm of “the faith” in accordance with Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 15.
Futurism (which I hold to) posits that the main eschatological texts of the New Testament prophesy about the events surrounding the return of Christ which will complete history. Many eschatological positions are within futurism, their common link is that the Olivet Discourse and book of Revelation will principally be fulfilled in the future.
To put it in a nut-shell: Preterism is the system of interpretation that understands the Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation to primarily prophesy the events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, which is in the past. Futurism is the system of interpretation that understands the Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation to primarily prophesy the events surrounding and including the second coming of Christ, which is still in the future.