Preterist Circles Continue to Experience High Ideological Instability
by Mark Mountjoy
Within the past few weeks I have made it a point to re-engage myself into Preterist discussions and debates on Facebook. The experience has been both hopeful, insightful and sobering. On a hopeful note, I have met Christians who are seriously seeking answers to make sense out of Preterism in the face of Futurist logic which still exerts unwanted tension in their lives. These are people I want to help free from the matrix of self-contradictory answers that Full Preterism generally holds (a 40 year generation, a Roman fourth kingdom, Revelation 20's alleged fulfillment inside an A.D.30-70 framework, which, by the way, which makes no sense, etc., etc).
Engagement has also allowed me to have insight into some of the dynamics which I was unaware are playing a big and detrimental role in the movement's state of mind and mood. Israel Only, though a small group, plays a very big role in upsetting and agitating Christians with the false idea that they are nothing and have been abandoned as worthless by a God who left the human scene in A.D.70. This atheist leaning doctrine is highly poisonous and its adherents are both hardhearted and hardheaded. Their intent is to play a role in Preterism (without Scriptural justification) whilst denying anyone else the notion of having a place in God in the here and now. The impact of Israel Only on the Preterist world is monumentally discouraging and can be compared to termites silently, but determinately eating through structures made of wood.
No reasoning shakes their arrogance and no amount of logic pierces their fierce commitment to be a thorn in the side of Christians. They will continually remind Christians that Jesus died for only Israel and that anyone claiming to be a Christian today is a "wannabe." On the other hand, there are other aspects of my experience that tend to reinforce my feeling that Preterism is still not reaching beyond a virtual presence to become a bonifide pastoral entity. I do not think its progress is going anywhere near the right direction. And what is that? The right direction is being a local church effort where Christians actually know each other, not a virtual debate or discussion forum.
There are too many issues being grappled with in virtual reality that, as soon as the discussion gets heated up, one party disappears and the discussion comes to an untimely end. Nothing is resolved and there is no personal contact to begin with. The taunts and trolls peppered into this by I.O. make for a surreal and sad experience (to be sure!).
I still feel that Full Preterism is a negative force and there are too many things that are bleeding into it for it to form into something definite that has real leadership, doctrinal clarity and directional strength. Some of the main things that Atavism seeks to combat are the very things that some Preterist enthusiasts are determined to reinforce: A Judæao-Romano eschaton and off-topic theories about so-called Ottoman fulfillment of the Gog/Magog prophecies.
This effort to get Revelation 20 away from the downfall of the Synagogue world is destructive because it goes beyond what is written and what was believed by the early Christians about the Church being the New Israel after the Jewish State vanished in A.D.136. We have done everything possible to make Christians aware of the Bar Kokhba situation and yet there is only so much you can do if the underlying theme is not believed to be Jewish efforts to set up the kingdom of God by force of arms. These efforts surely did not end in 70, but if it is artificially believed to be that way, efforts at collaboration are futile, ultimately . . .
Now, what is even more sobering for me is the realization that Preterism cannot and will not succeed unless it finds its center in Jesus and his authority. If Jesus is God and if his Word is taken to be the ultimate authority, then most of the things that are dragging Preterists down can be offset. But, so long as Christians ignore and disregard Jesus' statements about "this generation shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled" trouble will continually roil the movement. I noticed that there are too many people who call themselves "Preterists" still believe Jesus is coming again. This makes no sense! All this means is that these people still don't "get it" and there is no possible way this thing can congeal into a coherent group.
The movement is too fluid and is tossed to and fro because, on one hand a numerical value is falsely attached to the statement "this generation." Jesus does not have a numerical value in mind when he uses this expression! HE HAD HIS CONTEMPORARIES IN MIND. Some died before A.D.70, some died after A.D.70 and some lived long enough to participate in the Second Jewish Revolt. But many Preterists have innate issues with allowing the possibility that anyone from the first century was still alive in 132 or 133. According to history, Joseph Ben Akiba was born in A.D.40. In Preterist thinking, he (and any others) are excluded from the generation of A.D.30 to 70 because he was born in 40. But what about the people that were born in A.D.18? or A.D.25? Which generation did they belong to?
The problem with Preterism is that they think of "this generation" as the number forty instead of the contemporary period. By taking this route, though, none of the history or prophecy they teach matches what actually happened! In other words, where the Bible has the Jews falling and rising again (Luke 2:34), Preterism has them falling once and that was the end of the story. The rest of the story is bled off out into Roman explanations (abomination of desolation, Neronian mark of the beast, etc) which veers way off course every time.
Why does all this matter? It matters because the process of prophecy should lead one to the fully developed Church and the New Jerusalem, functioning pastoral expression, protection, accountability, and discipleship, regular worship and societal expansion, but in Preterism is does not necessarily happen and probably it will not be the rule if things continue as they are! The New Testament story is mutilated throught recapitulation, Modalism, atheist trolling by I.O. enthusiasts and a variety of other bizaare theories that deviate wildly from sound New Testament theology.
This is what I have observed within the past two weeks. I want to encourage anyone who has a vision for the Church to join New Testament Open University on Facebook. The group is Trinitarian, not Modalist, and now has 186 members, but I would like to see it peopled with motivated members who will write essays on central issues and help us form a strategy of discussions that can help find our center in Jesus Christ. We need to quit wasting time and putting up with distractions! Our time on earth in limited and we should be mindful that God put us here to do good and have the widest possible impact that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. If this entreaty resonates with you, please lead and contribute yourself and your ideas.
Adam Maarschalk Presentation on Revelation 20