Preterism and the Necessity of Honoring the Timing Statements of Christ’s Return

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Logos1, Oct 3, 2011.

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  1. Logos1

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    Preterists view the time statements found through out the New Testament as proof that Christ said he was coming back soon. There are many such statements:

    Matthew 24:33-34

    So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

    Matthew 10:23

    When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

    62And Jesus said, "I am, and you will see the Son of Manseated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven." (in response to the high priest)

    1 Thessalonians 4:15

    For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord….

    Revelation 22: 7

    Look, I am coming quickly

    Revelation 22:12

    Look I am coming quickly

    Revelation 22:20

    …Surely I am coming soon." Amen.

    And in Matthew 24 he linked the destruction of the Temple which occurred in 70 AD to the end of the age and his return—all three events happening at the same time.

    So he has addressed the subject from several angles ( this generation, Thessalonians still being alive, the High Priest seeing him return, the temple being destroyed, the statements of Revelation) all pointing unmistakably to a short period of time. And these aren’t even all the verses assuring his audience it will be a short period of time till his return.

    There are no verses which say he will return a long time into the future.

    Yet those who look for a return of Christ in our future usually point to 2 Peter 3:8:

    But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

    Their argument is that God’s time table is not man’s time table and what is a short period to God seems like a long period to us. So of course the answer to this riddle is that God and man are not on the same page so to speak. We understand in a limited way what God is saying to us.

    If this line of thinking is correct then it undermines every tenant of Christianity. Once you establish the principle that God doesn’t speak to us in language we can truly understand then nothing God says to us can be depended on since he might not be on the same page there either. How are we to know if our interpretation of the main points of Christianity are really what God is saying to us or like our not being able to truly comprehend the time statements regarding his return the other statements are also actually different than we understand them to be.

    This means that maybe we aren’t saved by faith alone—maybe God meant it differently than we understood it.
    Maybe Christ didn’t rise from the dead—after all maybe he was speaking here in some way different than we normally use such language.

    One could continue these examples with every thing Christ said, but I’m sure you get the picture.

    God either speaks to us in language we can rely on or he doesn’t. You can’t cherry pick which time he is speaking to us in the normal use of the language just to make it fit a certain view point such has he is really going to return thousands of years in the future.

    Hence we can see that changing the timing of Christ’s return from a short period (which would have been 70AD) to a long time in the future is really an assault on every promise we hold on to as Christians. It does nothing less than undermine everything we think we know.
     
  2. Iconoclast

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    The time statements are important. This is overlooked by many because it does not fit their calendar.

    I believe the first 19 chapters of revelation were completed by 70ad.

    I do think their is yet chapters 20-22 still to unfold in time.

    The coming was in judgement....there remains a return on the last day.

    Do you see the passage in 2thess1 as only metaphorical?

    Explain your view of this passage as time permits....logos....thanks.
     
  3. revmwc

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    So you believe when John wrote revelation in 95 to 98 A.D. he was looking back at what had occured?
    You see the churches being no more but a look back at their states at that time.
    You believe that Christ had come and destroyed the beast and false prophet and cast them in the lake of fire?
    While you believe that at the same time time the unbelievers were slain with the sword as Revelation 19:21 says?
    You then hold that there were at the time no unbelievers left and all the people on earth are descendants of those believers? Whether Jew or Gentile so the American Indians would have ben descendants from those believers in 70 A.D. and migrated to the Americas after that time are those your beliefs? Because for Revelation 4 - 19 to have occured in 70 A.D. that is what we would have.
     
  4. thomas15

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    What do you base this belief of yours on? Is it a careful study of the Scriptures or a reading of a book by Gary DeMar?

    If your placing the importance in time statements is your main consideration what do you do about the literally 100s of other escahtological details that did not happen in the first century? Could you even entertain the possibility, however slight that you are forcing a view, one of several possible views it fit your overall theological stance?

    It is true that there have been some dispies who have made some end time statements that have turned out to be false. It would be an error thought to think that dispies are the only ones who do this. In another post the preterists among us were highly amused when another poster made the comment that the kind of thinking that preterists use have given us Jehovahs Witnesses, Mormons, Adventists and Harold Camping. Having spent several years studying the JWs in detail, I can tell you that the closest thing to their end time thinking within evangelical circles is the preterist view. You may not like this but that is the truth. None of these groups are/were dispensational in background, you have to be post mil to even come close to their theology. Mormons and Adventists pre-date Darby, the JWs (C.T.Russell) probably were not aware of of Darby and Camping is a confirmed in the reformed tradition.

    So, what careful rendering of the Bible do you rely on to come up with a theology that states Rev ch 1-19 are past history?
     
  5. thomas15

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    On edit, should read "may pre-date Darby" and Russell seems to be unaware of Darby, I have never read anything by him (Russell) that indicates that he factored his writings into his theology.
     
  6. Iconoclast

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  7. Winman

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    Jesus NEVER said he was coming soon, you cannot show that in scripture, he said he was coming quickly, which means suddenly or abruptly. I don't know what other versions say, but in the KJB Jesus never says he is coming soon.
     
  8. Logos1

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    Hello Iconoclast,

    Basically I view all of it as literal and happening in 70 AD. The one aspect of it that is metaphorical is in verse 7 in the reference to the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels. This is a direct reference to several old testament passages which are actually Jewish references to the presence of the Lord. Some of them are

    Deut 33:2
    He said:
    The LORD came from Sinai
    and appeared to them from Seir;
    He shone [on them] from Mount Paran
    and came with ten thousand holy ones,
    with lightning from His right hand for them.

    Psalm 68:17
    God's chariots are tens of thousands,
    thousands and thousands;
    the Lord is among them in the sanctuary
    as He was at Sinai.

    Here is a reference to 70 AD in Zech 14:5
    You will flee by My mountain valley, for the valley of the mountains will extend to Azal. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come and all the holy ones with Him.

    The verse in Thess referenced back to here. In none of these instances did anyone actually see God physically appear in the sky with thousands of holy ones or chariots this was a reference to his presence.

    V 7 in Thess is also literal in the sense that it uses this New Testament wording to express the idea of Christ’s presence being behind what follows in the next verses. This is to say it verifies that the fire and retribution heaped on the nonbelievers in 70 AD is not by accident—the audience is to understand that the Roman Army is the retribution of God on the Jews for persecuting the Christians.

    V 8 The flaming fire was literal as Jerusalem and the temple burned and the Jews inside suffered a horrible fate to pay them for their persecution of Christians.

    V 9 Is literal in that they will be literally be separated from the Lord’s presence forever.

    Logos1
     
  9. Logos1

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    Rev,

    Well actually I know Revelation had to be written before 70 AD, but that is another story. Preterism doesn’t need Revelation to be written before 70 AD to be the accurate view of eschatology and the coming of Christ.

    I could refute this many ways, but let’s just humor you and say Revelation was written in 95 AD and none of the judgments, casting into the lake of fire, etc, etc or other events associated with the Lord’s return had happened yet by 95AD.

    None of that would change the point I’m making in this post or reconcile the tension between the soon coming prophecies about Christ’s return having to be true if the balance of what Christ tells us about Christianity and salvation are to be believed.

    Soooo, if he hasn’t come back by 95 AD and we have all those verses (many of them not in Revelation) saying such things as this generation (by 95 AD that generation would be fast running out of time) the high priest seeing him come, the ones who pierced him seeing him come, Apostles not finished going through the cities of Israel before he comes, the Thessalonians still being alive as Paul stated, the verses in Revelation promising he would come quickly, etc. –then all these things would have to happen quickly after 95AD or you would certainly violate any pretense that humans can understand the meaning of Christ’s statements to us.

    We still have the exact same dilemma that we had whether Revelation was written before 70 AD or 95 AD. By insisting it was written in the 90s AD you have just boxed youself into the same dilemma only added a few years to it.

    Either way the point here is the same and not affected by a few years shift. If God speaks to us in a way that is different from the normal usage of language that most people would understand it to mean thus rendering us incapable of knowing what his timetable is because we can’t depend on the normal interpretation of His words then we can’t depend on understanding any other basic tenants of Christianity either.

    If we have to say when he tells us in so many different ways that he is coming back soon and we don’t really know what soon means then we have established that we can’t know that we are on the same page with God on any other matter either.

    The promises of Christ we thought we understood we would now have to admit we don’t know what that really mean because we have established that Christ doesn’t always talk to us in ways that we truly understand what he means. We have established that we can’t depend on his language to us.

    So you have succeeded in destroying all the fundamental tenants of Christianity. We don’t really know what raised from the grave on the third day means—that is a time statement too—but if soon doesn’t mean soon then we can’t know that third day actually means the way we normally interpret the meaning of third day.

    We can’t know that we are saved by faith since words don’t mean what we think they mean.

    Either we can depend of the words of Christ being true and faithful or we can’t. If we ever establish the bible is not inerrant or that we just can’t comprehend what it means because God talks to us in ways that we can’t understand then all of what it says is up for grabs.

    P.S. I doubt many of us really understood that reference to American Indians, but it certainly added a nice laugh to the end of your post. Thanks. You should do that more often rev. It’s a nice touch.
     
  10. Logos1

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    I think this post has really shook up the futurists and rightfully so. I see three panic threads attempting to discredit Preterism, but none of them address the point of this post they just attempt to whack away at the basic credibility of Preterism.

    I can understand their panic and fear and having to give up what they have been taught all their life. It was uncomfortable for me at first to give up being a dispy and realized Christ had already returned and it was just different than what I had always been taught.

    But now that I’m a full (or hyper whatever term you want to use I don’t care) Preterist the bible makes so much more sense to me and doesn’t have any seeming contradictions.

    After you get over the initial shock of accepting that Christ returned in 70 AD you realize everything will be alright. Since that was God’s plan it has to be alright or else he would have done things differently and we don’t have to be afraid of the Lord’s divine plan and will for us. It can only be good.

    Futurists can claim that Revelation was written after 70 AD, they don’t see how the judgments spoken of can have come true, this or that wasn’t fulfilled in 70 AD etc., etc. none of it trumps the simple fact that we have to be able to understand and depend on what God and Christ tell us or else our religion is a false one. If we can’t truly understand basically simple concepts like Christ was coming back soon and be assured that we know what that means then how can we hope to grasp more complex concepts like saved by faith alone? If Christ befuddles us by speaking to us in riddles on his return then how do we know he isn’t befuddling us on how to be saved or any of the other promises he made to us? Either we can understand him or we can’t—if Christianity is worth anything then we have to be able to depend on our understanding of what we are told.

    If futurists don’t understand how this judgment or that event or the next one have taken place then obviously they have found yet another way to confuse themselves just like they have confused themselves with the matter of timing. The events just happened differently than they have been taught just like Christ’s return was different than they were taught and they choose not to admit they can accept it.

    Admit it or not openly—most futurists are smart enough to know they can’t plead ignorance on the time statements yet they can understand everything else perfectly. Deep down they know Christ had to come back soon as we understand the term or else they are undermining every other aspect of Christianity. That is the logic box we are in. It is what it is—whether it fits preconceived notions or not.

    It takes time to reconcile yourself to something different than what you were brought up believing, but deep down futurists can’t escape that nagging kernel of truth—that still small voice that speaks from within.

    I know because I have been there myself.
     
  11. DHK

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    I don't know of any that have been shaken at all. I think most are just ignoring what has been posted. The denial the second coming of Christ, the denial of the physical ascension of Christ, very basic orthodox doctrines of the Christian faith are being attacked under the name of Preterism. Most can see past the "eschatological" name-tag.
    God's promises are true. They have not all been fulfilled. But they will in time. To boldly state without a shred of evidence that Christ came back in 70 A.D. is nothing short of delusional. There is not a history book--secular, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant--nothing! Absolutely nothing about Christ returning in 70 A.D. We have over 500 that witnessed his resurrection, a physical resurrection, but not one single individual that witnessed this so-called returned in 70 A.D. So, why assert something that is as good as false. If there is no evidence there is nothing to base the statement as truth. And the promises are still future. Your whole argument falls apart for lack of evidence. It is akin to a myth, a story, something without evidence. In fact all evidence works against it.
     
  12. Logos1

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    Dear DHK,

    I can rest assured in the logic, common sense, and validity of my position since you didn’t even attempt to debate it on logic, you didn’t offer any evidence to the contrary –you just went on a rant against it. You in effect validated my point even more. Thank you kind sir.
     
  13. Iconoclast

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    Yes....I have seen these verses before:thumbs::thumbs:
     
  14. HankD

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    Here are statements easy to understand.

    In fact these statements are/were so easy to understand that from the early church fathers (including those whose life span began and ended before and after AD70 to several centuries later) were futurists.

    Matthew 24
    29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
    30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
    31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.​

    Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.​

    Acts 1
    8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
    9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
    10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
    11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.​

    1 Thessalonians 4
    14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
    15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
    16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
    17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.​

    2 Peter 3
    7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
    8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
    9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
    10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
    11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
    12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
    13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.​

    If what you say is so easy to understand why did it take approximately 2000 years for preterism to be discovered?​

    Personally brother, I would rather deal with "quickly" and the scriptural answer to what that means than to deal with such a host of problems preterism presents which can only be dealt with by a spiritualization of an abundance of scripture.​

    Psalm 90:4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.​

    Luke 12:38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.


    HankD​
     
    #14 HankD, Oct 4, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2011
  15. thomas15

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    One of my co-workers asked me to help him replace a headlight bulb in his car. I'm one of those handy do-it-yourselfer types and have replaced bulbs many times in the past. Instead of the bulb twisting into the socket, this car though has a spring clip holding the bulb in place, a set up I have not seen before.

    I asked him to double check the car's owners manual for instruction. He did, I followed the step-by-step and in moments the headlight was good as new.

    The Bible is our God given owner's manual. If we follow the step by step we will be doing the will of God. His ways will become our ways. And we will know how this age will come to a close because He chose to give us enough information in our owners manual to make this determination. Part of this owners manual was written in koine greek, the language of the common person. It has a common theme, is easy to understand but the owner has to take it out of the glove box and consult it for it to be of any practical use.

    There is no possible way that the common man, nice as he is, could ever come to the preterist conclusions regarding the end of this age without consulting opinions outside of the Bible. Dispensationalism takes the owners manual and lays out the case. It puts it into a systematic format. When that format is put together it makes sense, it answers the "why" and the "when" for our times. The novelty of the rapture is in my opinion on a par with the novelty of the flood during Noah's time, the defeat of Pharo by Moses, the resurrection of Christ. If the Bible teaches it, it will happen just exactly as the Bible teaches. If the details of the event are not recorded history, then the only possible conclusion to be drawn is that the events are future.

    Preterism takes the covenant position, a position held first by the eastern and roman church which places the Kingdom of Jesus in the here and now. It (preterism) attempts to answer a criticism of the a-mil/post mil postion, that is the fact that the Bible teaches that things will get worse and worse before Jesus returns not better due to the preaching of the gospel or the labors of the church. If Jesus already returned and the judgements of Revelation are past, then the gospel could have dominion over the people of the earth. This is why seemingly rational people take the irrational position that we are now in the promised Davidic Kingdom, it is the desire of man to be right regardless of what Jehovah clearly teaches in His word, the owners manual.

    The claim of some in this thread that futurist like myself are in panic mode due to the preterist argument here is absurd to the point of not being worth the effort of responding to. But it points to a flaw in the overriding theology of the preterist thinking that is we, the church are not tasked with building the Kingdom of Christ as the preterist think, no we the church are tasked with telling as many people as we can about the saving power of Jesus and leave the Kingdom building to God.

    I don't know about the pretersts in this club we have here but I stake my claim to salvation on a literal reading of Bible verses such as John 3:16. I'm not worried that there is some kind of higher spiritual meaning in those words. I take them at face value. I see no rational reason not to approach the rest of the Bible the same way. If the Bible employes literary devices to make a point I recongnise that. But on those occasions where literary devices are used, I make no excuse to avoid the obvious lesson Jehaovah has for me, literally.

    The preterist sees things different though and instead of letting the Bible teach them, opt to consult a guide book(s) that tries to explain the real guide book, the Bible. The result is that they end up spending far too much time getting their headlight to work properly. If anyone outside of the cults (JWs, Mormons, ...) have sucessfully attempted to make the Biblical case that the theocratic Kingdom of Christ is working side by side with the unholy kingdom of man in this age I have not seen it. Why is that? Because my Bible teaches that when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom he will rule with absolute power in accordance with the will of God, there will be no haze or fog or doubts about him the Lord Jesus being in charge.
     
  16. DHK

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    I don't boast in education, and neither will I here. But in science (knowledge gained by observation, then properly classified) there must be an observer, otherwise it is not science. We accept Creationism, for example, because it is in harmony with science not against it. The Bible is not against science, but neither is it a book of science. Again science is knowledge gained by observation. There must be an observer. When considering the origins of the universe (Big Bang for example), there was no observer. That puts it outside the realm of science and into the realm of the metaphysical. It must be accepted solely by faith. We accept Creation by faith but it lines up with scientific fact better than evolution.

    Why do I say all this. The gospel is based on fact. There were those who were witness to the birth of Christ. There were those who were witness to the death of Christ. There were those who were witness to the burial of Christ. There were those who were witnesses of the resurrected Christ--over 500 of them. We accept the gospel because there is empirical evidence. We accept the bodily ascension of Christ because of the evidence that was there. They saw Christ ascend into heaven. They observed him go into the clouds. It is empirical evidence. It is written in history.

    But that is not true with the Coming of Christ in 70 A.D. There is no evidence that Christ came. There is nothing empirical, nothing scientific, nothing observable to say that he came. We can only treat it as a myth, a story. Where is the evidence that he came? Who saw him? Those are the questions that the Preterist must answer. And until they do their position holds no water.
     
  17. Martin Marprelate

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    I know of no covenant theologian who supports the Hyper-preterist theory. All the Reformed (covenantal) statements of faith speak of a literal physical return of Christ.

    I would also add that Amillennialism does not teach that the world will get better and better until Christ returns. That is Postmil. Amil acknowledges that 'In the last days perilous times will come' (2Tim 3:1. cf. vs 2-4; Matt 24:12 etc.). However nor does it forget that 'This Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world' and therefore does not discount the possibility of great revivals such as have happened in the past in your country and mine, and are also happening right now in China, Africa and South America. So Amil sees the world getting worse in some ways and better in others. Pretty much what we are seeing today. :thumbs:

    Steve
     
  18. John of Japan

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    Don't really have much time to spend on this, since we're on the road on furlough. However, since this thread starts out with the time statements, I'd like to mention something I've mentioned before that was never answered--ignored even--by the hyper preterists.

    My point was (and is) that the preterist has just as big a problem with the time statements as we do who believe in the precious imminent 2nd coming. Think about it. If a Rev. time statement is any length of time at all before the supposed 2nd coming of 70 AD, then the coming was not "soon." If Rev. was written in 69 AD even (unprovable), then the preterists has a problem.

    Think of this. If I say, "I'm going back to Japan soon," what would you think? you certainly wouldn't think I plan to go back in another 10 months or more, as is the case. Soon would have to be days, maybe a month at the most. But if John wrote Rev. even a month before the destruction of Jerusalem, what would be the point? There would be no chance for the book to circulate before Christ supposedly came. So the preterists have a big problem with the time statements.
     
    #18 John of Japan, Oct 4, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 4, 2011
  19. thomas15

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    Steve,

    It was not my intention to place a-mils into the same box as preterists so I hope you are not offended. However, it is impossible to be a preterist without being covenant. Preterist simply take covenant theology to the extreme.

    A-mills hold as do the post mills the "already, not yet" theory that believers are in the millinnium now but that all of the functions of that period will come into effect when Jesus returns. A-mills rightfully see that in the church the details of the theocratic kingdom are not all in place. Preterist on the other hand lack any kind of interprative ethic that would give them the disclipline needed to see just how far they have strayed from Biblical truth. I believe that if preterists were not preterists, many of them would be your classic protestant liberals. I would not say that about most A-mills.

    Still, a-mills are in error in that the millinnium begins not when the individual places their trust in Jesus but rather when Jesus returns with the believers to set up his kingdom. And according to the Bible, that Kingdom will last for exactly 1000 years. There is simply no other time given in the Bible for the length of the Kingdom except 1000 years.
     
  20. thomas15

    thomas15
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    This is correct John. At AD 70, there is a good chance that many of the established churches didn't even have a copy of the completed (less Revelation) New Testament.
     
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