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Watchman Magazine: A Refutation of the A.D. 70 Doctrine
by Stan Cox
A doctrine exists which asserts that all Biblical prophecies regarding the end times were ultimately fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in A.D. 70. It is known by several names. It is referred to most commonly by the awkward “A.D. 70 Doctrine”, technically by the term “Realized Eschatology”, recently by some of its adherents as “Transmillennialism®”, and less precisely by the more generic term “Preterism.”Definitions
A.D. 70 Doctrine. As indicated above, the generally accepted date of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman general Titus is A.D. 70. The doctrine this work examines asserts that all of the “end time” prophecies and references in the New Testament refer to that event. It is contended that at that time, Jesus came for the second and final time. At that time, taking the language of 2 Peter 3, (and wresting it, we might add), “both the earth and the works that are in it” were burned up; and the “new heavens and a new earth” were established. Though it is not a phrase used by the adherents of the doctrine, it is descriptive and appropriate.
Realized Eschatology. The term eschatology is defined by Webster as “the branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or mankind.” Or, secondarily, “any of various Christian doctrines concerning the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment, or the nature of human existence upon the completion of history” (New Collegiate Dictionary, 1977). In the term realized the doctrine is identified as contending all of these events to have already happened.
Transmillennialism®. Max R. King is the person most responsible for popularizing this doctrine among churches of Christ. He was an institutional preacher in the 1960’s and early 1970’s who published a book titled The Spirit of Prophecy in 1971, in which he made public his peculiar defense of this doctrine. His youngest son Tim is an ardent and active defender of his father’s teaching, and has written a very revealing “definition” of the term transmillennialism®.
In the summer of 1999 we invented a new word – “Transmillennialism.” As a new term, this could stand beside ‘pre-,’ ‘a-,’ and ‘post-’ millennialism, the final forms that had developed in Christian eschatology.
As a prefix to millennialism, “Trans-” means “across” or “over” or “on the other side of.” It also means “above and beyond, transcending” such as “transatlantic.” The “trans” part of Transmillennialism™ stands for moving through or beyond what has gone before. (1)
As you can see, the King family made up the word themselves. Interestingly, they have trademarked the word. As you will see in our examination of their doctrine, we will see that this is not the only time they have arbitrarily defined words to suit their purpose. In fact, it is characteristic of their treatment of God’s word.
Preterism. The term preterit is defined by Webster as “bygone, former” and indicating “action in the past” (ibid). Though we do not have access to an unabridged dictionary, one source indicated that the 1913 edition of Webster’s unabridged dictionary defined the term preterist as “One who believes the prophecies of the Apocalypse to have already been fulfilled. (2) So, Preterism would be the doctrine that “the prophecies of the Apocalypse have already been fulfilled.”
It is important to note that the A.D. 70 Doctrine is only one of numerous Preterist doctrines.