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12.2.1. Types of Preterism

Mild or partial preterism holds that most of the prophecies of Revelation were fulfilled in either the fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) or the fall of the Roman Empire (A.D. 476), but the Second Coming of Christ is yet future. This form of preterism is orthodox and is the most frequent view encountered in our day.

Moderate preterism has become, in our day, mainstream preterism. Today it appears to be the most widely held version of preterism. Simply put, moderates see almost all prophecy as fulfilled in the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem, but they also believe that a few passages still teach a yet future second coming (Acts Acts 1:9-11; 1Cor. 1Cor. 15:51-53; 1Th. 1Th. 4:16-17) and the resurrection of believers at Christ’s bodily return. . . . In addition to R.C. Sproul, some well-known moderate preterists include Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Gary DeMar, and the late David Chilton (who converted to full preterism after all his books were published).1

Full, extreme, or consistent preterism holds that all the prophecies of Revelation are already fulfilled, that we are currently living spiritually in the “new heavens and new earth” and denies a future bodily return of Jesus. Full or consistent preterism is heretical.

Extreme or full preterists view themselves as “consistent” preterists. . . . Extreme preterists believe that “the second coming MUST HAVE already occurred, since it was one of the things predicted in the O.T. which had to be fulfilled by the time Jerusalem was destroyed” . . . This means there will never be a future second coming, for it already occurred in A. D. 70. Further, there will be no bodily resurrection of believers, which is said to have occurred in A.D. 70 in conjunction with the second coming. Full preterists believe that we now have been spiritually resurrected and will live forever with spiritual bodies when we die. . . . Full preterists say . . . we are now living in what we would call the eternal state or the new heavens and new earth of Revelation Rev. 21:1+-Rev. 22:1+. Champions of this view include the originator of full preterism, . . . J. Stuart Russell . . . Max R. King and his son, Tim . . . David Chilton . . . Ed Stevens, Don K. Preston, John Noe, and John L. Bray.2

Although mild (partial) preterism is considered orthodox, full (extreme, consistent) preterism denies the bodily Second Coming of Christ and so is outside of orthodoxy. While one is most likely to encounter the mild preterist view in reading commentaries on the book of Revelation, one should be aware of the tendency of mild or partial preterism to develop into full or consistent preterism, thus crossing the line between orthodoxy and heresy. “Extreme preterism is sometimes known as ‘consistent preterism’ because it consistently applies the principles of preterism to all prophecy. If moderate preterists were consistent, they unavoidably would be extreme preterists, and would have to deny the reality of the eternal state.”3

Since full (extreme, consistent) preterism is heretical and less frequently encountered, we will focus primarily upon mild (moderate, partial) preterism which seems to be increasingly popular in our day.

In its approach to the book of Revelation, partial preterism divides into two primary views concerning what events are foretold by the book: “Preterists hold that the major prophecies of the book were fulfilled either in the fall of Jerusalem (AD 70) or the fall of Rome (AD 476).”4 “The second form of preterist interpretation holds that Revelation is a prophecy of the fall of the Roman Empire, ‘Babylon the Great,’ the persecutor of the saints, in the fifth century A.D. The purpose of the book is to encourage Christians to endure because their persecutors assuredly will be judged.”5


Notes

1 Thomas Ice, “What Is Preterism?,” in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 22-23.

2 Ibid., 23-24.

3 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), 19.

4 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), 41.

5 Gregory K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 45.