You are hereAn Analysis and Critique of Taken to Heaven in A.D. 70: Blessings Expected at the Parousia (IPA, Inc., 2005)

An Analysis and Critique of Taken to Heaven in A.D. 70: Blessings Expected at the Parousia (IPA, Inc., 2005)

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By Sam - Posted on 16 August 2005

by Samuel Frost
When a book is hailed as “a classic in our time” and is expected to be one of the “most influential and significant preterist books to be published in the last two centuries” then, as a preterist scholar, I had to take a look.When a book is hailed as “a classic in our time” and is expected to be one of the “most influential and significant preterist books to be published in the last two centuries” then, as a preterist scholar, I had to take a look.I must, however, take a positive approach to the contents of this book before I take a negative approach. Readers who are not familiar with scholarly definitions, and who are more or less inclined to political correctness, will find the word “negative” as somehow meaning that I am an crusty old man with nothing better to do than criticize things. Well, let the reader understand that in scholarship, “analytical” “critical” and “negative” are not emotional terms. They are academic terms and nothing else. When a person shows up on your doorstep to offer you the latest “product” that will clean your carpets, are you “accepting” and non-inquisitive? Or are you “critical” and a little “skeptical” before you buy his spiel? In short, I will disagree with this book in many areas, but this is a critical analysis coming from a scholar that is quite optimistic about the preterist future within Evangelicalism.

There is an increasingly surfacing division current within preterist studies between the “heaven now” denomination and the “heaven when you die” one. Such is to be expected. Ian D. Harding has recently penned Taken to Heaven in A.D. 70 (335 pp.), published by Ed Stevens’ publication arm, International Preterist Association, Inc. The book is endorsed by Arthur Melanson and Walt Hibbard on the back cover. It is important to the preterist movement because it is the first major work on noting the differences within the preterist camps.

Harding assumes the preterist framework, so the reader is not going to get “another” exposition on Matthew 24, Josephus and “this generation.” Rather, as Harding himself states, the book is directly written to those preterists who hold to what has been called the “heaven now” view (Harding, xiv). This view, in his words, if true “takes away all meaning of language” (107). It is to be admitted that the view expounded upon by Max King in Cross and Parousia of Christ and the view represented here are two completely different approaches within preterism. They both operate from the same framework, of course, but the agreement ends there and this book makes it clearer than any other I have read.

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DanH's picture

I don't know if any of you have read Hibbard's review of Frost's critique, but in case you are interested, my rebuttal to Hibbard can be found at


Malachi's picture

It is disappointing to me that Preterism is being divided between two equally untenable views: The "corporate body" view and this new "literal rapture" view.
The corporate body view is frivolous because it fails to distinguish between regeneration and resurrection. The eschatological resurrection was Hadean, plain and simple; souls were take from Hades to Heaven. See Revelation 20:11-15. No corporate body view here! The living underwent a covenantal 'change' in which they received the long awaited atonement and remission of sins, but this is regeneration, not resurrection.
The literal rapture view overlooks the fact that I Thess. 4 never says the saints alive at the eschatological resurrection would be caught up AT THAT TIME to meet the Lord in the air. That is the critical issue. The more defensible view is that they were caught later, at the time of their own physical death and not before. II Cor. 5 makes this very plain when it says "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." When were they caught up? When they absented their physical bodies at death. Simple!

The corporate body view and this new literal rapture view are erroneous and should be rejected.

KingNeb's picture

Are you 'away from the Lord'? Chapters 1-4 come before 5. Read it in context.

Malachi's picture

We walk by faith, not by sight. It is only when we put off the body in death that we are in the visible presence of God in heaven, not before.

dkpret's picture

Good job, as always, Sam. I had contemplated doing a review of the book myself, but time just has not permitted. Ian is to be commended for addressing some interesing issues, and Ed S. is to be commended for trying to address the perplexing issue of the silence of the patristics. However, I am not at all convinced that the literal rapture idea is the solution. I have a MSS all but finished, an indepth analysis of 1 Thessalonians 4:13f, in which I not only respond to the overall futurist view of the text, but to the preterist rapture view as well.
In my estimation, while a lot of research needs to be done in the area of the patristic and apostolic writers, work that you are doing, the idea of a literal rapture is emphatically refuted by the scriptural testimony. I hope to be able to publish my book within a year or two. Right now, the revision and reprinting of my Babylon and 2 Peter 3 books are top priority.
Anyway, good job, Sam!
Hey, have you read R. Hays' newest: "The Conversion of the Imagination?" Really great stuff!!
Don K

Sam's picture


Thanks. Any compliments coming from you I take to the heart! Yes, I have the Hays book and it is wonderful.


KingNeb's picture


wow..look forward to your book!

I've read that Hays! He's right on top of it.

KingNeb's picture

What i find interesting is that you get the same response from the 'rapture' preterists that you do from futurists:

"Is this it?"

sounds as if we've gotten over the whole 'salvation of souls' thingy.

Paige's picture

Yes, I keep coming back to the propensity we human beings have to see the "promised land" as less than everything it IS and represents to God. IOW, our physical experiences and eyes become the interpretor to reality rather than what God pronounces reality to be.

What God has called clean, we must not call unclean.

davo's picture

Paige: What God has called clean, we must not call unclean.

Yes indeed Paige. It almost smacks of gnosticism - this world is so evil it must be escaped [raptured] from - mentality.


Virgil's picture

Davo, exactly...the same observation I've made. The idea stems less from theological reasons and more from the presupposition that the world is so evil, bad and so far beyond repair that God cannot transform us while inside it. It makes God look ridiculous.

KingNeb's picture


that is right on the money! ( :

leslie's picture

God has taken me the way I am. Dirt and all. I always knew that I was in Heaven. In His Grace.


Brother Les

Virgil's picture

Yes, a greater irony yet is the preoccupation of those folks with "universalism" as the ultimate Preterist heresy and at the same time obsession with physical rapture. Very puzzling indeed.

Paige's picture

"One thing, however, I can take from this book is that it is representative of an attempt of systematizing issues other than Mat 24. That is where, I believe, preterism is woefully deficient. Harding is to be congratulated in this regard. I am glad to have read the book. Perhaps, in the best case scenario, preterists can start a dialogue/debate over these things that stand between us. In order to get a firm grasp on the vocabulary of those differences, this book is a must. It’s another step in the direction of clarification."

Very true, Sam. There is a lot more writing and dialogue that needs to be happen on these foundational issues. I enjoyed reading your review.

Paige's picture

Very good Sam. Your observations of this view are some of the exact reasons I found futurism to be inconsistent. Since seeing scripture in light of covenantal contrast, I can't see it in any other way.


Virgil's picture

Sam...this is some interesting analysis. I have not yet read the book so I can't speak to specific issues, but just one thing that comes to mind is Paul's description of the "now."

The idea of a physical rapture being necessary in AD 70 is sadly taking roots in Preterism today - I see it as a forced conclusion as you said, and an assumption that the "age to come" was so unimaginably glorious and magnificent (and incompatible with the physical realm) that believers would have to be "raptured" into it.

This also continues the idea that there is something ireversibly WRONG with the physical realm that is impossible to fix - this doesn't give much creedance to God's sovereignty does it? :)

At last, in 1 Cor. 2 Paul is quite clear about the power of the "now" vs. what was to come:

but just as it is written "THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God."

This creates a huge problem for the scenario of the AD 70 rapture. The things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard were ALREADY revealed to Paul and the believers in Corinth, so not to sound too stupid, why in the world would they need to be "raptured" away? How would that give them some better understanding of God and how would that bring God closer to them in any way?

I see this as a sad and unfortunate regression in Preterist theology.

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Being an AD 70 "rapturist" myself, I don't necessarily see the validity of our view as contingent upon the perceptions and understanding of the First Century saints, Virgil. They didn't "need to be raptured away" to perceive what was prepared for them - but they DID "need to be raptured away" to enjoy what Christ Jesus promised them, in John 14:1-3, [b]"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, [i]I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.[/i]"[/b]

The thrust of this passage, contextually, is the REMOVAL of the saints from this life and realm, to that in which Christ Jesus took up residence, personally, post-mortem (after His ascension) - that of [i]spirit[/i]. I think it's rather clear in John 14, Virgil. Those saints experienced Christ Jesus' return uniquely, and part of that unique experience was their being "caught away" to spend eternity with Him in the heavenly Land of Promise, where the mansions he had prepared for THEM, were waiting.

I don't see this whole discussion as being necessarily conclusive in relation to the whole AD 70 rapture question, or even all that relevant to it, for that matter. Maybe I'm missing something you're seeing though.


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