You are hereMy Conversion to Preterism Is ''At Hand''
My Conversion to Preterism Is ''At Hand''
Hi, everyone. My name is Mike Beidler and I … am a future preterist. Until early 2000, I was firmly entrenched in pre-tribulation dispensationalism. It was about that time that my best friend, a devout Roman Catholic, challenged me to defend the pre-tribulation rapture viewpoint using Scripture. Fancying myself fairly knowledgeable in all things Bible, I took his challenge to heart with a smug smile on my face.I began to write a personal commentary on all passages in the NT dealing with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and to develop a timeline of eschatological events from scratch to see if I came up with the same conclusions the Tim LaHaye crowd does. I never did finish that commentary; I never got around to completing the timeline either. I began to see that I had been inserting my own views on eschatology, the nature of the church, current events, etc., into the Scriptures.
Just prior to my daughter’s birth in early 2000, I came across a used book titled The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church, by Marvin Rosenthal. Skimming through the book, I was surprised to see that the argued viewpoint didn’t accept any of the major tribulation/rapture viewpoints as wholly correct. Figuring a good laugh was worth a few bucks, I bought the book and began to read. The “truth” presented in this book hit me like a Mack truck and I was forced to abandon a pre-tribulation rapture for a pre-wrath rapture viewpoint, which is essentially a synthesis of all the “truths” found in pre-, mid-, and post-tribulationism. The biggest “truth” I found in this book (as well as Robert Van Kampen’s The Sign and The Rapture Question Answered Plain and Simple) was that the “signs of the end” detailed in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse paralleled the opening of the seals of Revelation 6. (Allow me to digress for a moment and give you preterists a piece of advice: if you want a pre-tribulation rapturist to eventually convert to preterism, get him to become a pre-wrath rapturist first. It’s a real nice stepping-stone. The pre-wrath rapture viewpoint puts most of the eschatological events in the right chronological order, with the only problem being its futuristic timing.)
For the most part of two years, I preached the pre-wrath viewpoint and began to associate myself with The Sign Ministries (now a part of Sola Scriptura: www.solagroup.org). Then I asked a new friend of mine what he thought of the End Times, thinking he was a pre-tribulation rapturist, and that I could divide and conquer this man’s eschatological heart. He straight up told me: “Mike, you’re not ready for what I believe.” Refusing to back down, he directed me to R. C. Sproul’s The Last Days According to Jesus and David B. Curtis’ Berean Bible Church website (www.bereanbiblechurch.org). I wasn’t particularly convinced of Sproul’s position and I thought Curtis was a heretic.
But the seed was planted … Several months ago, I was surprised to find a member of my Sunday School class teaching on what he believed to be the correct eschatology: partial preterism. He had not thoroughly researched the topic (and I was more informed on the finer points than he was), but simply wanted to present the ideas he had come across in his search for “the truth.” He relied primarily on Sproul’s The Last Days … companion video series for his information. I asked to borrow them and, suffice to say, I was floored. (Another piece of advice: don’t have a potential convert to preterism start with Sproul’s book; have him or her start with Sproul’s superior video series.) After viewing this series, I rushed out to buy Kenneth Gentry’s Before Jerusalem Fell, Jonathan Seriah’s The End of All Things, and J. S. Russell’s The Parousia. Starting with Russell’s book, the seed began to sprout. In this case, the seedling was a bamboo shoot. (Have you ever seen bamboo grow???) As I began to research the partial preterist position (because, as you all know, consistent preterism is “heresy”!), I was still uncomfortable with some logical inconsistencies relating to issues such as a “Third Coming” of Jesus, two separate resurrections of the righteous and the wicked (whereas Daniel and John speak only of a general resurrection), etc. I began to wonder what the full preterist thought of these things. I was pleasantly surprised to find those inconsistencies resolved. I also discovered that the consistent preterist position was not heretical or offensive to my spirit, and I've begun to tread down this path to see where it takes me …
The reason I call myself a future preterist is because I know in my heart of hearts that preterism is the most hermeneutically correct eschatology, but I am still searching for answers. Some of the questions that I have are these:
(1) Why do consistent preterists not believe in the physical resurrection of believers, especially in the light of Corinthians 15? (And what exactly is the nature of Revelation 20’s “first resurrection” and logically assumed “second resurrection”?)
(2) Why do consistent preterists tell me to take the time-frame references literally, but they make the Millennium only forty years long? The severe truncation of the “thousand years” to a mere forty years does an injustice to the text. (However, Duncan McKenzie’s “premillennial preterism” is attractive to me and appears more scripturally solid.)
(3) Why is there a lack of patristic evidence in favor of a consistent preterist view?
(4) Why is there a lack of convincing commentary on Zechariah 14 from consistent preterists? (Heck, even Gentry’s weak “commentary” doesn’t convince me.)
Thanks in advance, everyone, for humoring my questions and being patient with me during my trek into this unknown country known as preterism.
Mike Beidler, future preterist