You are hereThe Pretzel Logic of "Orthodox" partial Preterism
The Pretzel Logic of "Orthodox" partial Preterism
by Duncan McKenzie
This is an excerpt from my book, The Antichrist and the Second Coming. The book is done but I am still revising and refining it. I am still not sure how I am ever going to get the thing into print. It has three strikes against it: 1. It is written from a preterist perspective. 2. It is too long (about 850 pages). I am technically not qualified to write it. I have a Ph.D. but it is in psychology not theology. Please pray that God makes a way.This is an excerpt from my book, The Antichrist and the Second Coming. The book is done but I am still revising and refining it. I am still not sure how I am ever going to get the thing into print. It has three strikes against it: 1. It is written from a preterist perspective. 2. It is too long (about 850 pages). I am technically not qualified to write it. I have a Ph.D. but it is in psychology not theology. Please pray that God makes a way.While I am what Kenneth Gentry would term a hyperpreterist (I believe the Second Coming, resurrection and judgment happened at AD 70, or more correctly the resurrection and judgment began at AD 70 cf. Rev. 14:13), I am not a full preterist. I do not think all prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70 (I still look for Rev. 20:7-10 to be fulfilled). I find J.S. Russell’s position to be correct. He saw the Second Coming, resurrection and judgment as happening at AD 70 but saw that as the beginning of the millennium (full prets. say AD 70 was the end of the millennium). I think the book of Daniel backs up Russell on this (see my article, “J.S. Russell’s Position on the Millennium, the Neglected Third Way of Preterism” http://planetpreterist.com/news-5017.html (or click on my name on the left under columnists).
The sequence shown in Daniel 7 is the following: God comes and defeats the Antichrist (the little horn) and then thrones are put in place as the court is seated and the saints receive the kingdom. This sequence is shown three times: .Dan. 7:7-11, 19-22; 23-27. The same sequence is shown in Revelation 19:11-20:4. The Word of God comes and defeats the Antichrist (the beast) in Rev. 19:11-21 and then the saints receive the kingdom in Rev. 20. This sequence explains why some of those who come alive at the beginning of the millennium had been killed for not taking the mark of the beast (Rev. 20:4). This is a direct reference to the events of Revelation 13 (which were about to happen when John wrote). These souls of believers (cf. Rev. 6:9) had been killed during the tribulation of AD 67-70 (Rev. 13:4-7) and are being resurrected at AD 70 to share in the millennial reign. The martyrs of the beast being resurrected at the beginning of the millennium in no way fits the AD 30 beginning of the millennium that full preterists teach. It is a huge red flag that should not be ignored.
Enough about that, however, I am here to critique traditional partial preterism, not full preterism. I just want the reader to know that just because partial preterism is wrong, that does not mean that full preterism is 100% right. There is something in-between. Now that I have stepped on the toes of my full preterist brethren let me get back to the task at hand, stepping on the toes of my partial preterist brethren.
One does not have to look too hard to find problems with partial preterism. The partial preterist position argues that the tribulation happened at AD 70 but the resurrection happens in the distant future. Look at Daniel 12, however. It shows the resurrection happening right after the great tribulation. These events were to happen at the AD 70 shattering of the Jewish nation:
At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt…it shall be for a time, times, and half a time, and when the power of the holy people has bee completely shattered all these things shall be finished. Dan. 12:1-2, 7
Partial preterists usually try to get around this in two ways:
1. They say there is really a gap of thousands of years between vv 1 and 2. That is about as convincing as the gap of thousands of years that dispensationalists claim happen between the 69 and 70th week in Daniel 9:26-27
2. They say that this is not the resurrection but is some sort of national resurrection. This is wrong because it is clearly showing a resurrection of individuals. If one wants to see what a national resurrection looks like see Ezekiel 37. Added to this, Daniel’s people are shattered at this time (Dan. 12:7); that is hardly showing a national resurrection. By the way Revelation 11:15-18 shows the same thing, the resurrection happening at the AD 70 destruction of those who were destroying the Land (gē is often better translated as “Land,” the Land of Israel, in Revelation rather than “earth”).
The partial preterist position of two separate comings of Jesus can lead to some very questionable distinctions between the supposed comings. Consider the following comments by Gentry in discussing 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2.
Though he [Paul] speaks of the Second Advent just a few verses before ([in 2 Thess.] 1:10), he is not dealing with that event here [in 2 Thess. 2:1-2]. Of course, similarities exist between the Day of the Lord upon Jerusalem in AD 70 and the universal Day of the Lord at the Second Advent. The one is a temporal betokening of the other, being a distant adumbration of it. The Second Advent provides a final hope for the eternal resolution to their suffering; the A.D 70 Day of the Lord affords an approaching temporal resolution (cp. Rev. 6:10). Orthodox scholars from each of the millennial scholars agree that Christ brings these two events into close connection in the Olivet Discourse, Indeed, Christ’s disciples almost certainly confuse the two (Matt. 24:3). The same connection seems to exist here as well. [Kenneth L. Gentry, Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil (Texarkana AR: Covenant Media Press, 1999), 100]
I invite the reader to look at first and second chapters of 2 Thessalonians (see below). See if you can find the two different comings of Jesus supposedly found there; they are three verses apart! Maybe I am missing the adumbration. Gentry maintains that the first coming (2 Thess. 1:7-10) is a reference to the future Second Coming and the next (2 Thess. 2:1) is to the AD 70 coming. I have underlined the supposed two different comings of Jesus.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-2:3
Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed [Gentry sees the preceding as referring to a future Second Coming]. Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, [Gentry sees this as referring to the AD 70 coming] we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition. brackets mine
Gentry is saying that Paul is talking about a future final advent in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 but a mere three verses later switches to the AD 70 coming 2 Thessalonians 2:1! Gentry is forced into this far-fetched position because 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 is talking about the judgment (which Gentry says is still future) while 2:1 is talking about the AD 70 gathering of God’s people (cf. Matthew 24:29-34, which Gentry correctly believes is AD 70). Such are the extremes that partial preterists are forced into to try and maintain their distinction between an AD 70 coming of Jesus and a supposed future final advent.
Do Different Greek Words Refer to Different Comings?
Gentry’s defense for his distinction of the two separate comings in 2 Thessalonians 1-2 is that the word that Paul uses for the Lord’s final advent in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 (Gr. elthe) is different from the word he uses for the advent in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 (Gr. parousia). [Gentry, Perilous Times, 100-101] It is hard to take this distinction very seriously, however, since Gentry himself says that the word parousia (which he applies to AD 70 in 2 Thess. 2:1) refers to the final advent in 1 Thessalonians 4:15. Thus Gentry makes his elthe/parousia distinction in 2 Thessalonians 1-2 where it suits his position and ignores it in 1 Thessalonians 4 where it doesn’t!
Preston astutely critiqued the inconsistencies in Gentry’s attempts to use the Greek to differentiate the AD 70 coming of Jesus from a supposed final Second Coming:
Gentry says 1 Thessalonians 4:13f and 2 Thessalonians 1[:7-12] are the same event, i.e. the Final Advent. But there is a major problem here for Gentry. Remember that he delineates between 2 Thessalonians 1[:10] and chapter 2[:1] because of the use of elthe in chapter 1 and parousia in chapter 2. [But] 1 Thessalonians 4[:15] and 2 Thessalonians 1[:10] contain the same ‘different words’ as do 2 Thessalonians 1[:10] and 2 Thessalonians 2[:1]! In 1 Thessalonians 4 Paul uses the word parousia (v. 15, the same world used in 2 Thessalonians 2:1), to describe the coming of the Lord. However, remember that in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 Paul uses elthe, and Gentry insists that this word indicates a different coming than parousia. Why then does he not delineate between [parousia and elthe in] 1 Thessalonians 4[:15] and 2 Thessalonians 1[:10]? This is inconsistency exemplified.
Here is what Gentry does:
1 Thessalonians 4:15- parousia is final coming
2 Thessalonians 1:7f- elthe, is final coming.
So, Paul uses different words to describe the same event, and Gentry has no problem with this.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 is parousia, and is AD 70, but,
1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17 is parousia and is the “final coming.”
So, Paul uses the identical words, and in both contexts he speaks of the gathering of the saints. But, Gentry insists that these are two totally different events, disparate in nature and time.
If the use of different words (parousia-v-elthe), does not demand different events in Gentry’s application of 1 Thessalonians 4 [:15] and 2 Thessalonians 1[:10], then why does the use of those same different words demand two different events in 2 Thessalonians 1[:10] and 2 Thessalonians 2[:1] (elthe-v-parousia)? And, if different words can be used describe the same event, then why does not the use of the identical words demand the reference to the same event (1 Thessalonians 4:15, parousia / 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, parousia)? [Don Preston The Elements shall Melt with Fervent Heat: A Study of 2 Peter 3 (Ardmore OK: JaDon Productions LLC, 2006), 223-224 Great stuff Don!]
Is Paul talking about a different coming in the first chapter of 2 Thessalonians than he is in the second chapter? How could the coming in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 (These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes in that Day to be gloried in His saints…”) be referring to end of time and the coming in 2 Thess 2:1 (Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him…) be referring to AD 70? Again, the supposed two different comings are only three verses apart and no distinction is made between the two!
If that isn’t bad enough, the coming of Jesus with His angels in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 (which Gentry says is the end of time) is said in Matthew 16 to happen within the lifetime of some of Jesus’ hearers. Compare 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8 with Matthew 16:27-28; I have included A and B for points of comparison.
Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us [A] when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire [B] taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who don’t not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8
[A] For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and [B] then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. Matt. 16:27-28
Gentry says 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 is the end of time but is forced to admit that Matthew 16:27-28 is AD 70 (because of the time referent it contains in v. 28). Both of these sections, however, are talking about the same thing: A: Jesus coming in God’s glory with the angels, and B: the judgment. Again, Gentry’s partial preterist distinction doesn’t hold up to biblical scrutiny.
If Paul is talking of two different comings of Jesus in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-2:3 he certainly did not make it very clear. Gentry seems to be suggesting that Paul didn’t make the distinction because he wasn’t totally clear on it himself (“Christ’s disciples almost certainly confuse the two [comings in] Matt. 24:3. The same connection seems to exist here as well”). For Gentry to suggest that the distinction between the supposed two comings of Jesus may not be clear because the NT writers may not have been clear about the comings puts him on very thin ice. If the NT writers were not clear on two separate comings of Jesus then it would mean that they were not making the distinction between two comings of Jesus that partial preterists do. If that is the case then the teaching of partial preterism on this issue is superior to the revelation of Scripture. This is thin ice indeed.
It is indefensible distinctions between an AD 70 coming and the supposed true Second Coming at the end of time that leads me to reject the traditional partial preterist position; it just doesn’t hold up to biblical or logical scrutiny. The Coming of Jesus in Revelation 19 is referring to the one and only Second Coming at AD 70. With harlot Israel destroyed, Jesus comes and defeats the beast from the abyss. This was the Parousia; it was the beginning of the judgment and resurrection (Dan. 12:1-7; Rev. 11:15-18) as well as the millennium (Dan. 7:7-12, 21-22; Luke 19:11-27; Rev. 19:11-20:4).