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The Death of Preterism?


By Roderick - Posted on 03 May 2004

by Roderick Edwards
In a recent article on PlanetPreterist.com, a well-known associate of Presence Ministries International (PMI) ™ basically pronounced the end of preterism as it’s currently known.In a recent article on PlanetPreterist.com, a well-known associate of Presence Ministries International (PMI) ™ basically pronounced the end of preterism as it’s currently known.“With apologies to planetpreterist.com, "Preterism," IMO, is history. It has been weighed and found wanting. It never got out of New Hampshire in the presidential race. It failed with Sproul to lead the church into a new day, because it could only lead from the past. It failed with the Evangelical Theological Society to influence academic scholars. It authors failed to break into mainstream Christian publishing, because of their caustic tone. Preterism is history. It must die. Either it finds a way to cocoon itself and be transformed into a butterfly, or it will die crawling on the ground, just like it did a hundred years ago.” – Jay Gary, PMI associate (full text of comment)



Now, I do advocate and want to maintain a continued alliance with PMI and the group called “Preterists”, but I must take issue with the notion that Preterism is dying or dead. On the contrary, the concept of Christ’s victorious return and eternal presence is picking up steam in this generation as never before. And it must be noted that even the opponents of Preterism realize this. For it is not books against PMI that are written but books against Preterism.
It is the spread of Preterism that they fear.



The growth and dissemination of Preterism seems comparable to the growth and dissemination of what may be termed as “evangelical” theology of the 16th century. Certainly there was the so-called “High” church in Protestantism that was comprised of the Lutherans, the Calvinists and the Anglicans but it would seem the most effective and enduring element that rose out of the Reformation would be those deemed the “Low” church. It was the “sectarians”, the “enthusiasts” that have had the most impact on the world. This is not to say the “High” church is wrong or without benefit but only a warning that we ought not repeat the errors that occurred in the 16th century. We ought not separate so far from High and Low forms of the fulfilled eschatology that we can no longer interact.
Both Preterists and those in the PMI camp can benefit from each other by moving in the same circles and continued dialogue.



So, far from reading the eulogy of preterism we ought to be shouting (even if that shout is merely done by living it out) the victory of Christ as an eternal new birth announcement to the world. I for one have no problem working within the title and label of Preterism. It very well could be that the label “Christians” as found in Acts 11:26 was originally meant to be an insult, as if this group formerly called The Way was merely a cult following a false prophet. And the label “Protestant” was certainly meant as a negative term – for who would wish to be labeled as a “protester against the Church”? I will wear the badge of Preterism as an honor.



But, if in the future a time comes when this term is no longer used, then so be it. I hope future generations will see the contributions made by this group just as other groups ought not be despised. Even if we do not agree fully with groups such as the Puritans, the Lollards, the Calvinists and others these groups have explored areas that I am indebted to them for. They were pioneers in areas I no longer have to venture into blindly.



May God richly bless us all as we explore new areas and leave our lives for those who come after us.

In Christ

Roderick

xsteve's picture

It's encouraging to see people such as Jay Gary and Kevin Beck beginning to reflect the completion of the plan of God in their comments. It is without question a new time -- new ways of teaching the precepts of love and forgiveness must be initiated. I hope that the PMI group will follow the path to universal brotherhood as Israel's Messiah taught.

http://www.preteristarchive.com/Preterism/smith-steve_03_p_03.html

Steve Smith
Forum Host and Moderator
Fulfilled Theology

JayGary's picture

Julie, Jim, Malachi, Virgil, As much as I enjoy a good hamburger once a month, I don't consider myself a compulsive skewerer of sacred cows. But apparently I slaughter dearly prized icon when I wrote that "Preterism is dead."

I meant no personal offense to any of you. I was merely saying that for me, and a growing number of others influenced by Covenant Eschatology, that we have "died" to preterism.

I made this "Preterism is dead" statement in the context of an earlier thread where I sensed people were pressing for Presence to "act" and look like a "preterist" ministry.

Rod Edwards, I am grateful to you and many "preterists" who are part of a "deviant" edge. If and when, as you say, the fulfilled prophecy moves on beyond the mid-1990 "preterist" culture wars, I hope your contributions are not forgotten.

But I am at a stage in life where I am done defending denominations or single-cause movements as silver bullets. I've found they only deal with effects, rather than identify causes of our modern sickness, and "the decline of the West." And in so doing, silver-bullet ideologies usually create more problems, than they solve.

Like Kevin Beck, Elton Foster, Joanne Gerety and hundreds of others, we have quietly "moved beyond preterism." We are looking for a more charitable path, for ourselves and others.

So please don't quote me adnausem in saying "Preterism is dead." People are choosing to die to "preterism" and finding greater organizing & biblical motifs for their lives.

Rather that talk about the "preterist" world, or "preterist eschatology," I would suggest those of you who would like to reach out, to speak of the "fulfilled" view, or some other synonym of Covenant Eschatology, when emphasizing our common heritage.

What we are all looking for is a new Bible study culture that can shape the next 500 years, like the Protestant world shaped the last half millennium.

I would hope that the fulfilled community might have something to offer this transmodern world, but it cannot create the next civilization alone. It will take other explorers along the way, with different focuses, to create the faith communities of tomorrow.

So Preterism may be dead for some people (like me). But the fulfilled view is flourishing, where people see it as a seedling to be cared for, rather than ammunition in a theological gun.

Jay Gary, jaygary.com

Jay Gary, Helping Faith Communities Cultivate Foresight, http://www.jaygary.com

pretgirlinca's picture

Hi Jay,

I am not “personally” offended by your remarks in regard to Preteristism and I think, to a large degree I understand where you’re coming from.

Forgive me if I cross a line here but as I see it, the real issue is not preterism but preterists.

I don’t see you moving beyond preterism but moving away from preterists. Whether or not you are justified in doing so I can't comment but ultimately, it does cause a division.

You said:

“Rather than talk about the “Preterist” world, or Preterist eschatology, “I would suggest those of you who would like to reach out, to speak of the fulfilled view, use some other synonym of Covenant Eschatology, when emphasizing our common heritage.

Well, Jay…a rose by any other name is still a rose. As I said, I don’t think it’s the titles and labels that are the problem but the people who consist of those titles and labels.

In truth, and I do not mean this critically but if we, those of us who want to reach out and speak of the fulfilled view were to follow this example we would only be creating more “subgroups” and with that, more division.

(btw... Subgroups in and of themselves don’t have to be a negative thing if we will be strong enough to support each other even when we don’t see eye to eye.)

I’ve looked back in history and I have yet to find one time where everybody was on the same page at the same time, singing the same song. It’s not going to happen. I think we need to come to terms with that reality as well.

Again you said;
I would hope that the fulfilled community might have something to offer this transmodern world, but it cannot create the next civilization alone. It will take other explorers along the way, with different focuses, to create the faith communities of tomorrow.

I agree with this statement and I share this hope but I also know that men are men and with these various explorers and different focuses will also come distension and strife.

Unless we get a grip on how we can allow each other the freedom to follow our hearts and convictions and yet still walk in unity as part of a bigger picture, none of us are going to realize success.

It’s not the names that need to change it’s the hearts of the people. At least, that’s how it looks to me.

Peace,
Julie
Ps...exacatly what does a "preterist" ministry look like anyway?
:)

Roderick's picture

Jay,
I appreciate you responding. I half figured you would not respond. I do understand your intent in proclaiming the death of Preterism, but again I hardly think Preterism can be deemed as dead when so many people are now being affected by fulfilled eschatology under the term of Preterism.

I understand that you would like to move beyond the outworking of people coming out of their previous paradigms and sects – and that is admirable.

The issue I want to raise before any of us move on is the underlying tension between the so-called Transmil® and Preterists camps. We need to figure out a way of reconciling this issue, not simply ignoring it so that potshots are made when we attempt to get together.

I know it hurts when we name names but it is time that the issue is brought to light. It is hinted at in the “Give Me This Mountain” book by Tim King (see review), when Tim mentions an “opportunist” that hindered a meeting between R.C. Sproul and Max King.

I would like this story and issue to stop being told in the shadows and come to light so that we can all see and know how these issues have progressed. THEN & ONLY THEN can the reconciliation process begin and potshots from both sides end. Oh, it will be ugly at first but necessary to end the tension.

The Transmil’s have tried to do the honorable thing and just move on, but I don’t want them to just move on without us – the believers in Christ’s victorious return ought not “move on” without each other, otherwise we are making the same mistakes as the first Reformation. Let’s keep all lines of communication open so that we can benefit from each others witness. --- thanks – that’s all I have to say

Roderick

JayGary's picture

Rod, I'd recommend the book, _The Tale of Three Kings_ by Gene Edwards. Perhaps you have read it. See http://www.presence.tv/cms/books232.shtml
Through a three act play, Edwards lays out the biblical dynamics between Saul, David and Absalom. Only after the forty-year drama did the nation of Israel realize who had a heart for God. Even in the midst, God did not answer David's prayer of Why, "Why was my king throwing spears at me? Do I serve a mad king?" Then David faced the mirror dynamics, within his own family, of Absalom's revolt. In the end, the lesson for you and I, and those you refer to is "that nothing happens to us, it always happen *for* us." We may have spears thrown at us, or estranged sons seeking to overthrown us, but God is not moved. God allowed Saul to throw spears at David so the Saul in David would die. What is biblically true in relationships may also ring true for our prized paradigms, especially in any interregnum, the period between two kings.
--Jay Gary jay(at)jaygary.com

Jay Gary, Helping Faith Communities Cultivate Foresight, http://www.jaygary.com

Apollos's picture

Jay,

Your clarification is much appreciated. Words have meanings and we all need to be careful in using them. If all you object to is the word preterism, so be it. Different folks object to different descriptions because they conjure up images they don't like.

We agree that biblical eschatology has been fulfilled and the glory of the Lord continues to fill the earth. I don't think any of us see fulfillment in A.D. 70 as the end of the story.

I've been accused of being an idealist all my 56 years (as recently as last week). Long before I understood fulfilled eschatology I longed for, and believed possible, a better world through the power of God's people living out their faith in the world. Now, I am more positive in this regard than ever.

I don't like labels at all, so I won't be a "preterist" or "Transmillennialist" or any other kind of "ist." By the grace of God, I am His child through the atoning work of Christ. Many other words may be employed to describe me, but none of them can define me. While some may make more of preterism than is warranted, I employ it only at its root meaning. All the "preterists" I know take it the same way. Perhaps others have built a huge construct around preterism and set it at center stage, but I am not aware of them.

I don't see Transmillenniasts(R) as second class citizens of the kingdom or enemies and I am at a loss to understand why such disdain is held for those who simply use the "P" word to describe their view of eschatology. I thought we were all working to advance the kingdom of God on earth. Am I mistaken?

Your last paragraph is a parting shot at preterism. I hope you can see the irony in that. I'm having a good chuckle but you would do well to realize you are still packing heat. :-)

Peace my brother,

Jim Wade

JayGary's picture

Jim, yes, I am chuckling with you over your "still packing heat" come back. We all need to engage in 2nd tier or higher order thinking, ie. be self-reflective about how we do SEE the Bible and each other. Thanks for your collegiality in Christ.

Jay Gary, Helping Faith Communities Cultivate Foresight, http://www.jaygary.com

Apollos's picture

There is a big difference between being "stuck in the past" and rooted in the past. I have great regard for what Max King and others have done to bring us to this point in understanding scripture. What troubles me a bit is one preterist group (Transmillennialism(R)) seems dedicated to exaliting itself above the others.

Sproul Jr., Mathison, Gentry and others label the view as hyper-preterism in an attempt to cast it in negative light. Most preterists I know recoil at this description, yet Jay Gary employs it to support his perspective that preterists are divided. Somehow it escapes his attention that Transmillennialism(R) is just one more of the many groups seeking to work through the implications of fulfilled eschatology.

No preterist I know is hung up in the past. Everyone I know is anxious to move believers through the process of understanding the view so we can effectively engage one another on the implications for daily living in the spread of the kingdom. In fact, most people I study with are anxious to get to implications BEFORE they engage the study of preterism because they want to use the implications to argue against the view. We must lay a proper foundation and that is takes time.

As Virgil has noted, there is a difference between the theology of the matter and its application. Whether we like it or not, most believers today don't have a fulfilled view and living a fulfilled view requires a basic understanding and acceptance of it. This is not an "either or" issue. Moving forward will continue to require addressing the past because it is the substance out of which the future emerges. It is impossible to understand the present, or the future if they are alienated from the past.

Presence Ministries is focused on application while others are remain focused on the huge task of helping newcomers understand the past and how it should shape our lives today. I don't diminish the work Jay Gary and others are doing, and it concerns me they find it necessary to cast a shadow on the work of so many others who are not on the Transmillennial(R) "bandwagon."

Jim Wade

Batman's picture

Amen! I could not have said it any better. Thank you Jim!

--Batman

--Batman

William's picture

If you haven't read Kevin Beck's article on presence.tv then may I suggest you do. It'll give some of us good insight into what Jay Gary is saying.

It's called Moving Beyond Preterism.

William Cheriegate
doctrine.net

Virgil's picture

Preterism is a theological position. You can't "move" beyond it...unless you reject the basic preterist position, which is that Jesus returned in A.D. 70. All you can do is let your life and actions be influenced by preterism in such a way that you unite believers and give them the ability to think beyond just theological matters. This is the essence of Christianity itself, which most believers (preterists and otherwise) fail to understand today.

Seeker's picture

We can't really move beyond preterism, but we can move beyond "just" preterism. This new paradigm should cause us to rethink other areas (besides eschatology) that the Church may have gotten wrong.

Seeker

Seeker

pretgirlinca's picture

Hi Roderick,

I enjoyed your post this morning and of course I concur.

I'll make this brief as I'm pressed for time but one thing I think is missing in our mindset today is the focus of longevity. I think it's important to remember and perhaps even "relearn" this concept.

It's not just about you and me in the here and now it's about all of us forever and ever amen.

The folks of old knew and understood this in a way that we clearly, do not. They moved on faith because they knew God was faithful and they did it seems, one man at a time.

We know God is faithful too and we need to operate with a faith and a heart that will effect many generations to come.

We have the advantage of numbers now. A man doesn't have to stand alone but it's up to us to lift each other up.

Labels will come and go. God's intentions will be realized with or without us.

I'm glad I understand this today, because yesterday, the words of Jay Gary might have scared me. :) (no worries Jay.)

Blessings to you all!
Julie

Roderick's picture

Amen Jules!!!

Longevity -- we are not merely vapors anymore but as Jesus said when He corrected Martha --
"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" -- John 11:21-26

Jesus seemed to be clearly teaching a longevity mindset. Almost as if he were saying, Look Martha, don't wait around for some future resurrection, you have life now and eternal if you believe in me.

Thanks for your great observations Jules. You always inspire me!!! May the Lord keep blessing you with these wise words.

your brother
Roderick

Virgil's picture

Roderick, I certaintly disagree with what Jay said, however you have to try to see where he is coming from also. To him, all he sees coming from "preterism" is theological bickering. That is a serious problem! Preterism needs to become more than what it is today, which is simply a doctrinal wissue. We need to turn it into a way of life, a world-view which we can use to relate to everyone around us.

Preterism is of course not "dead" - far from it! We do however, need to be very wary of where we are heading with it, both on a personal level and as a whole movement. Since there isn't one clearly defined leader or organization that can lead, where will Preterism go tommorow or 25 years from now? Will we have any credibility at all to make any demands from the Christian publishing industry from example, or from politicians who continue to fuel unrest in the middle east?

What defines Preterism today, and what will definte Preterism tommorow? These are the questions that need to be answered...

Batman's picture

The Reformation had these same struggles. We should expect nothing less. This is nothing new. We are not being patient. It will take time to formulate these things. Right now I see the right questions being asked.

At this time I think that it is more important to help as many Christians understand this position in order to bring in many minds. Many Christians can help formulate and refine these arguments. It's hard when we are a small rag-tag bunch. With many individuals helping to systematically define these things, it becomes easier. Time is on our side. God will work these things out to glorify Himself over time. Let's do our part to get it right! Spread the message of fulfillment!

--Batman

--Batman

Virgil's picture

Yes Batman! I agree...time is definitely on our side, and so is God. We can certainly forge ahead and except wonderful results. :)

Seeker's picture

I only hope we have better results than the reformation had - don't get me wrong the reformation brought to light some wonderful things, but look how many denominations we have within protestantism! Nobody could agree on key issues. I see the same thing within preterism. There are more forms of preterism than you can shake a stick at. I worry that we're splintering into too many different groups too early. Too many people, when they come to the knowledge of preterism, question and rethink their eschatology, but that's as far as it goes. If the Church got that wrong how many other things did it get wrong? These are some of the things we need to prayerfully consider.

Seeker

Seeker

rfwitt's picture

I think Jay Gary is confusing two different eras. One hundred years ago the means of communicating ideas was very different then today. The internet has been a great help in spreading the information about the preterist views. As a matter of fact I never heard the teaching of preterism until I came across it on the internet. In addition there are so many preterist sites for Christians to go to and explore the preterist views. No, IMO I think the internet serves as the alternate media as opposed to the media that sticks with the old way of thinking. This is also the case with the secular news media which was controlled for years by the liberal left - think of how the new media (the internet) has impacted the news. I believe we are just at the beginning and since we are Preterist we ought to take the long view of the impact of the teaching of Preterism. I agree we should be less caustic in our approach since we are dealing with people who have a mindset that was developed from futurist teaching over many hundreds of years. Let us run the race with patience.
Richard......

Roderick's picture

Amen! I can't help but to believe there is a reason the first Reformation came about at the time and place of the advent of the printing press and now this second Reformation (as many call it) is coming about during the advent of the Internet. Freedom has a way of spawning truth and truth has a way of spawning freedom -- God is to be praised!!!

And the idea that Preterism died in the 19th century with J.S. Russell, F.W. Farrar, Philip Mauro, and others is preposterous. It would be like saying the idea that God saves the elect died with Augustine just because it didn't really come to force again until Calvinism picked up steam. Or that justification by faith died with Wycliff and Huss 100-200 years before Luther came on the scene. This is the reason I must take issue with the conclusion about the fate of Preterism. It is obvious that the Jews figured that this litte sect (Acts 24:5, 28:22) would pass if it was ignored (Acts 5:35-39).

And as I have stated before, it is obvious that the so-called High Church of the Protestants thought the Low Church (which was mainly driven by the peasants), would dissipate. No -- what makes so-called grass-roots movements so difficult to stop is that there is no clear leader to target, to bring down. What the Jews in Acts 5:35-39 misunderstood is that these followers of Jesus weren't merely following a man, but God and the freedom God brings.

The victory of Christ, currently advocated via the term of Preterism is certainly here for the long haul. Granted the terms may change but the idea is unstoppable.

Roderick

chrisliv's picture

Sure,

Preterism and .75¢ will get you a cup of coffee and a good conversation, in many places.

But it's my impression, as someone who holds preterist view, that most preterists are every bit as statist as most futurists are. Thus, Preterism has yet to promote little more than mindless robots for the Lordship of Caesar; although ones who do verbally ascent to a theoretical Reign of Christ.

For me, Preterism is a beautiful compliment to a non-statist life under the Lordship of the only True King. History proves that all others are petty antichrists.

Peace be with you,
C. Livingstone

blackpreterist's picture

Very insightful words Roderick. Whether we call it Preterism or use some other name, need to be bold and proclaim (either in word or deed) the news of Christ's victory. Mr. Gary and others are right about giving Preterism an application in daily life, but this is far from saying that Preterism is dead. Whether the term "Preterism" is used or not, the same principle will be at work and this view is indeed spreading.

Kenneth Perkins

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