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12.2.5. Damaging God’s Word

There are so many problems and dangers associated with preterism, it is difficult to know how to enumerate them. Here we will touch on our main concerns regarding this system of interpretation and the damage it does to God’s Word:

  1. A Denial of Predictive Prophecy - Preterism removes the capstone of God’s written revelation. The last book of the Bible no longer includes information covering the entire sway of history through the physical Second Coming of Christ, but has largely spent its significance as a historical document concerning events over 1900 years ago involving Rome and Israel. All that remains is a hazy notion that somehow the eternal state must be what we are experiencing on earth now.1
  2. A Denial of Global Judgment - Preterism localizes the book of Revelation making it nearly impossible to see how God could have described events truly global and future if that had been His intent.2
  3. A Denial of Reality - If we are in the new heavens and new earth of Revelation Rev. 21:1+-Rev. 22:1+ as preterists would have us believe, then Scripture means nothing. Either that, or we need to begin embracing a dualistic view of reality which denies our common senses, similar to that of Christian Science. The transition set forth in the creation of a new heavens and a new earth and a complete removal of the curse of Genesis is simply not evident to any objective observer. If this is the new heavens, Jesus was a charlatan.3 Moreover, it would be news to most people in the world that the decisive victory of Satan portrayed in the book of Revelation has already been accomplished.4
  4. A Blurring of Canonical Boundaries - Preterism majors on searching first-century non-canonical writings for “fulfillments” to predictive prophecy. The results are predictable. Teaching and writing by preterists invariably draws almost as heavily from non-canonical writings (the “fulfillments”) as Scripture (the predictions). We have witnessed the effects of this blurring of the boundary of the canon firsthand, especially on new untaught believers. The result is the elevation of faulty historic writings and the denigration of inerrant Scripture. There is also the danger of pointing inexperienced believers to errant and uninspired apocryphal and historical writings as the main diet in the place of God’s Holy Word.5
  5. A Denial of the Imminent Second Coming - As more and more passages dealing with Christ’s return are interpreted as first-century “cloud comings,” the imminent expectation of His Second Coming, so central to the expectation of the New Testament, fades. Commenting on the writing of commentaries, preterist Chilton observes, “Indeed, if my eschatology is correct, the Church has many more years left to write many more words!” [emphasis added]6 So much for an expectation of the imminent return of our Lord!

Notes

1 “The preterist has an interpretation which has a firm pedestal, but which has no finished sculpture to place on it.”—Merrill C. Tenney, Interpreting Revelation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1957), 144.

2 Concerning Revelation Rev. 10:11+ wherein John is told, “And he said to me, ‘You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.’,” Chilton says, “St. John’s prophecy regarding the destruction of Israel and the establishing of the New Covenant will encompass the nations of the world. . . . John is to extend the proclamation of [the] Gospel to all nations.”—David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance (Tyler, TX: Dominion Press, 1987), 270. But this is a misreading of the text. The text states that what John will yet reveal in the book is about these global entities not to them. The passage has nothing to do with proclaiming the gospel, but everything to do with proclaiming the revelation which is being given to John which concerns these peoples, nations, tongues, and kings. The fact is, the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 is just not that big of a deal to the modern man in Siberia and is not what is in view.

3 “The city of God, described in the last chapters of the book, is obviously unrealized. Even if it be regarded as a symbol of some perfect state of human society, it has not yet been achieved. The preterist view simply does not account adequately for the claim of Revelation to be a prediction of the future.”—Tenney, Interpreting Revelation, 137.

4 “The major problem with the preterist position is that the decisive victory portrayed in the latter chapters of the Apocalypse was never achieved. It is difficult to believe that John envisioned anything less than the complete overthrow of Satan, the final destruction of evil, and the eternal reign of God.”—Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), 41-42. “[Mild preterist] Gentry actually believes we are in some way in the new heavens and the new earth of Revelation Rev. 21:1+-Rev. 22:1+. If this is true, then we all must be living in the ghetto side of the New Jerusalem. But there is no ghetto in the New Jerusalem.”—Thomas Ice, “Some Practical Dangers of Preterism,” in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 420.

5 “Because of their first-century template for interpreting Bible prophecy, preterists come close to investing certain historians with canonic authority. . . . Should Josephus’s writings become the sixty-seventh book of the Bible?”—Larry Spargimino, “How Preterists Misuse History to Advance their View of Prophecy,” in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 219.

6 Chilton, The Days of Vengeance, xiii.