A Clash Between Jewish Salvation History, the Bible and Competing Systemic Theories

The

C E R T A I N T I E S

 

OF FULL PRETERISM

 

ANALYZED AND QUESTIONED.

BY

MARK MOUNTJOY

 Introductory Remarks

"For my own part I hate and distrust reactions not only in religion but in everything. Luther surely spoke very good sense when he compared humanity to a drunkard who, after falling off his horse on the right, falls off it next time on the left. I am convinced that those who find in Christ's apocalyptic the whole of his message are mistaken. But a thing does not vanish—it is not even discred­ited—because someone has spoken of it with exaggeration. It remains exactly where it was. The only difference is that if it has recently been exaggerated, we must now take special care not to overlook it; for that is the side on which the drunk man is now most likely to fall off."--C.S. Lewis, The World's Last Night.

The First Group of Connected Challenges

As the proverbial die sets, pressing issues face all of us.  The notion of falling off either side of a horse, or even of "throwing out the baby with the wash water" are almost irristable metaphors for the fifty year-old phenomenon of Full Preterism and if, for a variety of reasons, people believe Jesus is coming in the future, for a different set of reasons a growing number of people believe Jesus came back the second time in the past.  And it is this belief in a past Second Coming that we find more questions than answers confronting us when we ask, rhetorically, Why is Full Preterism in a rut; how did it get this way?  Where do we go from here?  Where do we go from here now that the fear of the "end" has been, forever, put to bed. But the question of, Where do we go is not only a rhetorical one, but an essential one and an absolutely practical one.

An All-views-are welcome-here "church", fortunately, or unfortunately does not exist, and even if it does exist (somewhere) how much could it be enjoyed?  But on the other side of that coin, what happens when there is literally no place to go?  Such a situation almost universally obtains in the wake of the spread of Full Preterism and, in this essay, we want to examine and question what is fast becoming 'common knowledge' among a growing number of people who, if things continue as they are, will not have the pleasure of fellowshipping in anything remotely ressembling an ordinary Christian church or living their lifetime in any New Testament Christian social setting.

Christian particularism problems.  Christian Particularism has to do with self-identity, meaning and meaningfulness of the Bible, God, the Gospel, the kingdom of God and the significance and importance of Christians on this earth and amongst the world of mankind.  These ideas and the sense of the uniqueness of Jesus, among the gods and Christians, among competing religious groups, is inviolable and cannot be threatened, infringed upon or dishonored in any way, shape or form without automatically destroying a wide componant of what the Bible advocates about the People of God and God's promises us: A holy and beautiful city, as a reward of faith (Hebrews 11:16 cf. 1 Peter 1:4; Revelation 21:1-27 and 22:1-19)).  And so, the idea that one has to be a Christian in order to be saved is not an attractive or popular one, but it is a "must" (Acts 4:12).  Nevertheless, it seems to take a big hit and the marching orders Jesus gave in Matthew 28:19-20 come into question where, after misunderstanding what should end (the Jewish age or the Gospel itself?1), subsequent steps away from the New Testament show an "understanding" that the New and and what is actually attested as "permanent" suffers as much damage under Full Preterism as anything else that is touched (as we will see below in our discussion about the Church and missiology). 

Is anything as important as being an example and sharing the Gospel with friends, neighbors and strangers necessary if Jesus' second coming was fulfilled in A.D.70?  From the looks of it, apparently not! But we do not believe, and nobody can make a case that the New Testament was, somehow, written to explain a span of time lasting only for the salvation of people in within only four decades. 

What, then makes Christians special, the possession of God?

It all has to do with Who Jesus is and that he fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the Law . . .

Through his body and by his blood, we have been purchased and before his Sacrifice we were worthless; now we are destined for a City . . .

Through his death, burial and resurrection he has made us into a nation, and the kingdom he gave us has no end . . .

By faith and hope and love we show forth his marvelous glory, virtue and light, till the earth is covered in righteousness as the waters cover the sea.

The fact remains: If enough of Gospel issues are misunderstood or misconstrued, then the manifestations of these ideas is going to show up as the exact opposite of what one would expect of any people claiming themselves to be Christians (even to the point of irreconcilable confusion, decline and extinction) as we already see happening!  

Fellowship problems.  It is saying an awful lot when a chance is missed to fellowship with people you claim share beliefs and to love and cherish.  How many times have I had a phone conversation (some even lasting 9 hours and more) only to have that same person be in town and consciously and deliberately not make every effort to meet up with me?  This has happened too many times to be a coincidence and is startling because, among other Christians, the urge is the exact opposite, on all occasions.  But this is not by accident!  The truth is this: Full Preterism does not put a premium on fellowship at all.  It is not a fellowship, but a mental reservation about the validity of Futurism, rather than a commitment to Jesus as Lord and fellow Christians as comrads on a journey to Zion. 

This festering problem of being uprooted and unmoored and at odds with Christianity means that loneliness and isolation will always be the rule, rather than the exception and, I implore you today to reject this negligent and derelict way of life, for Christ's sake and for the sake of the kingdom of God, if you really believe it to be real.  It would be tragic for an awareness of actual facts to create a 'hard people' such as the Sadducees, of whom Josephus said, they were rough and harshest toward all in their legal pronouncements and despisers of things they could no see, hear, smell, taste or touch.  In our own day we see the same thing happening in the phenomenon of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society where compassion, graceousness and interpersonal generosity is almost entirely missing yet, I would dare say, there is more concern there, than there is for anyone in Preterist circles, because nobody can be bothered when supposedly everything was fulfilled in A.D.70! 

Was your obedience to God fulfilled in A.D.70?  Was love for your fellow human being fulfilled then?  Was love for your enemy realized then?  Did you pray without ceasing in 70?  Did you visit the fatherless and the widow and feed the poor then?  Was faith, hope and love fulfilled in A.D.70?  Or are these things which we should strive to experience, exude and practice in our lives in the kingdom of God today?  Just asking!

Local church problems. It appears that the local church problem stems from the aversion to "organized religion."  While it is true that abuse has come from organized religion, it is not true that abuse can only come from organized efforts, as such.  Individual acts of abuse has happened to many and it does not take an organization to have propiety problems or abuse.  Abuses can also happen just because there no agencies to prevent it (think of sex traffic rings and how organized efforts are the only way they can be brought under control).  And think of any time in your life where one someone was your foe and caused you grief, anger or even harm.  Groups have erred and individuals have erred and there is also such a thing as neglect and abuse stemming from the very lack of organizational structure.  Many rights and privileges that we enjoy and take for granted are the direct result of organizational efforts of Christians as well as ordinary concerned citizens.2

But there are serious disadvantages to the mantra that organized religion is to blame for everything that is wrong in the Church or in the world.  Can you name any instances where organized religion mobilized and fought and, eventually won civil rights for people who had been denied them?  Organized groups of religious people are working very hard to stop the genocide of countless innocent human beings who, living in an embryonic state, have not had a chance to defend or speak for themselves! 

In the Full Preterist movement, apparently, it is every man for himself (and whatever you need to do for God or genuine fellowship needs, good luck with that!).  For any single Christians, the chances of finding a suitable mate, who already agrees with Realized Eschatology, is difficult to come by,(because of almost a total lack of congregational entities anywhere).  And, along with this, there will be no weddings, commensal gatherings accompanied by fellowship and food, or, funerals, where eulogies and the celebration of a life is given the dignity of the time of day.  The loss of these civilized impulses is a great out-point, loss and a blow to anyone who can appreciate what is right and good and noble about a well balanced and humane Christianity.

Missiology and Relevance of the Church problems.  It is only too easy to point fingers and criticize different groups in the Preterist world, yet a sense of missiology and the relevance of the Church, are problems that really go hand in hand.  For one thing, the Church comes first, and she must truly be loved as an entity beloved of God, if not, all efforts to reason and persuade are lost and futile.  Now, the Church, is that two or three Christians who serve the Lord with gladness and worship his name on a agreed upon basis (on the first day of the week and any others, as varying schedules permit). 

The mission/ missiology of the Church is that impulse to invite others in (in Christ/ into fellowship).  This initial path of faith in God, for the new person, culminates in baptism into Christ in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  But if there is no Church (fellowship) it is kind of hard to invite someone to join, isn't it?  And the group, if it is a church at all, and has the impulse to woo, could quickly fall to pieces if some false imperatives of CENI were to have its insidious, petty and austere dictates imposed upon the people.  What do we mean by CENI?

CENI is an interpretive construct which demands that Christians do only those things in the New Testament from which can be drawn: Command, Example and Necessary Inference.3  It is a contentious and unforgiving rule; one that guarantees strife and interpretive stinginess and meaness.  Christians coming from certain sectarian backgrounds need to be sharply disabused of CENI, by us at the very start.  What it demands is that Christians can really only authoritatively meet with one another on the first day of the week (even though, in the Book of Acts Christians met daily and from house to house, Acts 2:46 and 5:42), Christians cannot use mechanical instruments of music (even though Christians in heaven get to use them Revelation 15:2).  Christians cannot have a building or, if they have a building, it cannot have a kitchen or a dining room and other amenities (even though the average house in Judaea probably had both). 

Now we can disprove this false criterion, very easily: The proponents of CENI squabble all the time about minutia like church cooperation and kitchens, instrumental music, how many cups at communion, bake sales and buildings and church kitchens, but we have to realize that, in the first place, the early Christians met in the Second Temple on Solomon's Porch, if instrumental music was an abomination that would be the very last place they should have been near.  Furthermore, the Apostle Paul's commandments around singing do not direct Christians to sing, and sing and sing.  When he uses three different words he means three different things and, by the use of psallo, authorizes plucking and other instruments that are part of the sacred texts of Psalms.  To prove this is the case, one need only note that the Book of Revelation depicts either Christians singing with instruments or sinning with instruments (See Revelation 14:2 and 15:2).  The second texts says very definitely that those Christians had the harps of God in their hands, so all controversy is ended unless someone want to protest that, in heaven, our voice box will be in our hands!

Like we said, above, advocates of CENI fret over minutia, in the matter of church cooperation, the early Christians in one region gladly sent money to Christians in other regions to assist in material help or to help fund missions in territories and provinces where the work could not be supported by believers in the area (Acts 16:9 cf. 2 Corinthians 8:7-15).  The Christian church at Philippi was a generous source of financial giving and that certain remains an "example" of cooperative giving by Christians living in the ancient everyday (Philippians 4:15-17).4  

Another negative for CENI is the horrible light it casts upon realized Bible eschatology, being totally and irrationally against it and violating its own mantra of "example and necessary inference."  On the matter of the coming of the kingdom of God "soon" and the "soon Second Coming", there should be no problem for the CENI crowd to see what the truth is, plain as day; yet out of pride or out of fear, they won't use CENI to get at the truth on these sensistive issues.  So the capricious attention to details and the sometimes valid and sometimes arbitrary interpretations that are coming out of the CENI approach to the Bible are not very good, in my opinion.

Another thing about CENI is that it definitely supports the idea that Christianity is a pastoral effort, sanctioned by God himself: He wants mankind to be churched and he wants his people to be imbued with instruction in righteous, not wandering about as vagabonds and subject to immoral and amoral tendencies.  Now, although first century Israel had no shortage of leaders, the shepherds of Israel failed at their job because of distractions to their spiritual calling.  From this dereliction of duty Jesus say the state of the state for what it really was:-

"When he got out of the boat, he saw a large crowd. He had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things" (Mark 6:34 cf. Matthew 9:36)

We want to explain and describe what we mean by "pastoral".  We mean guidance, instruction, direction, admonition, even supportive and protection.  Jesus exemplified that in his ministry and he taught his Apostles to exemplify that in theirs.  Acts and the letters of Paul and Hebrews, Peter, James and John, too, are "pastoral" in many ways.  They guide, remind, admonish, and support the cause of sancitification and holiness and the successful path of Christians, in many and timeless ways, ways not restricted and narrowly related to a coming disaster in either the first of second century, but applicable to social confusion, unrest and change in any generation and, it is to be noted, it could very well be the case that would be leaders in the Preterist world, surrender, adbicate or refuse this role under the mistake notion that the pastoral role of Christainity is an illigitimate exercise from A.D.70 and anytime thereafter.  But if this were true, it would mean that ANY instruction that any should not instruct and any endeavor to disssuade from guiding would itself be off limits, too.

This means that, among other things, the interpretation of Hebrews 8:11 and 1 John 2:275 do not mean what it may appear to mean at first glance.  Herbews 8:11, for example, may simply mean the end of the ligitimacy of the Levitical pedagogy that had lost its direction and way, radically so, in departing from Moses, and critically in the repudiation of Jesus as Lord.  1 John, in the same vein (and on similar grounds) may very well be an admonition to Asian Christians to resist influences from local synagogue ideologues.

Among the dangers, as we have it told us in Josephus, was the spread of the virulent Fourth Philosophic teaching which he, at the beginning of his dissertation on the rebellion against the Romans, blames on sophists who arose and walked in the footsteps of Judas the Galilean.

Mentorship, Instruction and discipleship problems.  Which brings us to our next problem: Even though people don't want to be left alone, like vagabonds, nobody wants to be told what to do, if it might possibly lead to yet another organization.  Nobody expects to be instructed and are learning that no instructions are coming down from anywhere.  So where are discipleship classes pertaining to these goals?  If these are neither needed or wanted, do teachers still teach?  Teachers, indeed, still teach, but they teach, in Full Preterism, that teachers are no longer needed (except to teach people that they don't need teachers).  Does anywhere see a real and basic problem here?  Might we ask, If it is allowable for teachers to span the globe, in person, or through the internet, to teach people that they do not now need teachers, why can't people be allowed to teach people to live according to the responsibilities of Christians as handed down by God in the New Testament?

It seems that, on one hand, a message of negation is allowed, but on the other hand, a message that adds discipline, values and empowerment to fledgling individuals and groups, isolated by their acceptance of Realized Eschatology is, for some reason, not optimal and an unworthy goal to persue.  I am asking you to ponder this deeply and consider if  this sense of priorities and these attitudes are right or wrong?

The Danger of marginalization because of Humpty Dumpty theology and heretical concepts.  When the decision is made to renounce being a Church, either by choice or, very simply, by default, the danger of cooling zeal for the Father, the Son and the Spirit of God definately becomes a looming and awful possibility.  There is, after all, such a thing as doing what the Lord wants with imperfect knowledge, but also, doing nothing at all with a perfect knowledge.  So who would win a race?  Is it the man who runs, but imperfectly?  Or is it the man who knows everything about running, running shoes, the track and the terrain and refuses to move a muscle?  But the Bible says,

"If any man strive for mastery, yet is he not crowned, lest he strive lawfully." 

The knowledge of Jewish and Christian antiquities and even Roman history cannot hold a candle to the obedient actions and impulses of Christians who do not have a vision or an interest or the slightest idea about these and other verities.

One is going to be marginalized and could end up becoming an unprofitable servant if and when one caves into the idea that we have a right to stand idly by while others, doing the best they can with what they know, are making a difference for Christ in the world today.  We should not be fooled or lulled into slumber by any knowledge that leads to drifting far away from what are clear mandates of the Christain faith; mandates that are a call worship God through his Son, in the Spirit in regular assemblies with fellow Christians;  this is a call to action to both the great and the small, alike.

Closure problems.  Coming to a completely different understanding of the process of Bible prophecy (an understanding that actually cuts across all conventional notions of what that even looks like) creates its own necessities: Can two walk together except they be agreed?  On ideological terms, do opposites attract?  Opposite propositions might co-exist, but they would do so uneasily, but would it not guarantee perpetual confusion, doubt and agnst?  Do we need to take a bow to social circles where we once shared the same views to enjoy a honeymoon with new colleagues and peers with whom we see eye to eye?  One would think! 

But if not, where does that leave oneself, socially speaking?  There is no command or inference, in the Gospels or the epistles, for Christians to "go it alone" or isolate themselves from their fellow believers.  Yet this is the inevitable outcome of the anti-institutional, anti-congregational attitude prevading the Preterist world; it is also very Western and has no connection to the norms promugated in the teachings of our Lord and his Apostles, in fact, the very opposite is urged,

And let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). 

This commandment is very hard to fulfill if each individual is off on his own with his head in a book or preoccupied on a blog, perpetually engrossed in thought; distracted.  The closure problem also rears its ugly head when, for fellowship, one is forced to attend an assembly which is almost the epitome of everything one has come to believe is the way things should not be: idols of plaster, silver, diamonds and gold, and homilies, sermons and lectures longing and begging God to finally bring realities that have already been established and complete bewilderment towards any standard that would check rampant spiritual superstitions; these superstitions are fertilized and infused with the force of truth and, because of time and antiquity and familiarity, seem as if they have been believed and practiced from the very beginning.

Leadership and collaboration problems.  To begin with, anyone that could conceive of a venture called Two Guys and a Bible are thinking on pretty slim terms in relationship to what we, as Christians, need to in terms of leadership and collaboration.  Instead of two people and a Bible, it would be far better if, as a group, the thinkers, writers, editors, speakers, leaders, elders and ministers among us could put their talents together to produce a comprehensive correspondence course and kick off an international Bible study that includes multiplied thousands of Christians and truthseekers.  This kind of leadership would be sure to foster a sense of belonging and participation and, to boot, would help us get on the same page of basic issues that could ground us in the necessary aspects of the Christian faith, self-identity, life and destiny.

I continue to urge Christians to join forces with us and help us to evolve this ministry so that what happens could truly be a joint effort that could benefit the lives of thousands, perhaps millions and, in the end, leave a legacy for generations of Christians who will exist in the future.  However, in order to fulfill this, we need feedback, advice and directions from those whom God has given the gift of consultation and strategizing.  This is important because the abundant life cannot be lived absorbed in books, ideas and unfruitful obsessions, but in the real world where faith in God put in action can make a big difference in people's lives.

Connected Problems and Self-Defeating Imbroglios

Teaching out of a job problems.  If the symbol of a pretzel is emblematic of Full Preterist exegetical logic, then a man standing on a limb and eagerly cutting it with a saw near the trunk is the picture of a person so desperate to prove a point that they end up sawing off the very limb they are standing on!  Now, Full Preterists, when they cut off prophecy, prematurely at A.D.70 they, at the very same time, make who they claim to be irrelevant and the subject they are talking about irrational and non-sensical.  Nothing makes sense if even the Church was fulfilled in A.D. 70!  There is no point in talking about God, Jesus, the Bible, the Church, Christians, prophecy, heaven or hell, angels, or demons if everything was fulfilled then!  But Full Preterists want their cake and eat it, too!  They are going to declare certain functions to be done and over, yet they will be forced to perform those very functions to even get anyone to stop see them as valid exercises in faith and it is something to behold because, after everything is said and done, nobody should be able to preach or teach about a single thing related to Jewish Scriptures (which includes the Old and New Testament)!

Besides that, no Christian in any antiquity ever believed all Bible prophecy was fulfilled in A.D.70.  What they say is totally made up and, really, is just a bold faced lie, if we want to call it what it is.  This doctrine is so evil and menacing and convoluted that it will literally put preachers and churches out of the soul saving workfor good.  The Church will dwindle and shrink because, after everything is said and done, being a Christian and working together as fellow-servants for God as the New People of God is cut, mortally, by the fatal and imaginary deadline of A.D.70.  Other Christians, who know nothing about the deadline, but are engaged in the everyday life of being Christians, are looked upon as deluded wannabes who ought to be "disabused" of their zeal with a nice shot in the arm: The "Good News" that Jesus already came back and your life as a child of God is OVER.  The crux of the deception was developed by Full Preterists in the 80s and 90s all across the U.S. and then, when everybody stood still in shock over their self-made imperatives and impositions of "can't do anything" and "Need-to-do-anything" and "Yay!-Jesus-came-back and-we-aren't-going-anywhere!", all of a sudden a great defection happened and, ironically, it took place just when the same ones who proposed and perfected an existential paralysis turned around and, almost overnight, changed their minds and become the most fanatically ardent anti-"Hyperpreterists" you ever wanted to see! 

One such former Full Preterist had friends who pled and clawed away at him the whole time he was entangled in it.  When he finally came to his senses and let go, he claimed he left because he could not believe this world is "all there is."  Go figure!  He should have already believed this world was not "all there is" if he had kept his faith in Jesus as God and the New Jerusalem as the destiny of the People of God, but he got wrapped up in the worship of a cocophony of dangerous, flawed and false ideas: Full Preterism. 

If he had believed the Bible he would never have fallen for the stupid teaching that the Church ended at the Second Coming.  If he had examined first and second century ecclesiatical history he should have known the Church survived the Jewish wars precisely because of the providential help of God.  And, in that case he would never have came to believe that we are in the New Jerusalem while living in his mortal body.  He gave himself nothing to do (the will of God) and nothing to be (a Christian) and no place to go (the New Jerusalem).  What was left if you deprive of yourself of your entire foundation?  It was a pitiful thing he was into, but he (and others) helped craft it and then, in a panic, shock and dismay, they turned around and abandoned the ship!  Ironic, no?

Support problems.  Problems consequent to being frozen or booted out of your fellowship, association or denomination would be compounded when you find their is NO SUPPORT network of any kind in the Full Preterist world.  You are on your own.  Good luck with that!  Once you realize there is no sense of responsibility or service or duties the slippery slope towards nehilism and, perhaps, atheism could rear its truly ugly head!  Here you are with a basketball, but there is no team.  You go to training, but you have no true colleagues.  No basketball courts exist and no games take place.  Basketball, for all practical purposes, is a non-issue.  This is, in a way, how the Full Preterist world is, a handful of Bible churches, but by and large you are definitely on your own.  When I came to Denver and sought a Full Preterist preacher to be an adjutant for him, I was told he gave up and was teaching square dance classes.  On the way to Pheonix, Arizona I sought out a Christian who I was told lived in Colorado Springs and found out he had moved to Georgia WITHOUT EVEN LEAVING A CONGREGATION IN THE SPRINGS! 

I looked for yet another brother in Flagstaff, Arizona, and he was nowhere to be found!  I was absolutely disappointed and shaking my head and asking myself, What is the matter with these people!?  A trait I see in Full Preterism is irreligion and irreligiousity.  Some people think that religion is a bad thing, I do not agree.  And, the truth be told, anything can be a bad thing: Religion has no monoply on misconduct and all religious people are not engaged in mischief.  Many Christians are quite religious and very conscientous and, when you need help, you know where to find them (and they will help you).  That is not a bad thing, in my opinion!

A Second Group of Connected Challenges

Roman history problems ('Exhibit A' of the Core of Confusion: Fourth Kingdom fact challenges).  As strange as it may at first seem, part of the confusion around prophecy comes down to a mathematical problem: Counting from one to four.  This is a surprisingly hard task when one considers that, among cults and sects, logic dictates that seven kingdoms (stretching from Sinnacherib's Assyrian Empire to a future Roman Empire), actually equates to the four kingdoms of Daniel 2 and 7 (hint: They do not!).  It is surprisingly difficult, but also surprisingly easy to demonstrate that, counting from the Babylonian Captivity to the Maccabbe victory over the Seleucids has to be what was intended: Revolutionary Judaea would reject its Messiah and fall head over heels to accept someone who, in the end, was the Son of Perdition.  This is the basic gist of Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, 2 Thessalonians and the Book of Revelation, but is complicated and stretched into a long yarn by superfluous Futurist imperitives.  But Preterist imperatives still linger on pretentious possibilities, too!

A number of years ago, two very prominant men agreed to debate, one was Preterist and the other was Christian, but Jewish, by birth.  Admiring both and hoping that the Preterist could wow and convince the Jewish Christian I wrote, basically begging him to leave out all talk about Nero being 666, but stress instead, the bandits and pretenders as the likely culprits, but guess what?  Everything I said fell on deaf ears!  I was not angry, but chagrinned!  There was a chance to make a difference and not fall into that Nero was the Sea Beast and his name = 666 blah, blah, blah, but it was not to be!  It sounds like a cinch to Full Preterists, but anyone who knows the Bible knows the Jews would never fall for Nero as a Messianic claiment!  And no Christian, at the time, regarded Nero as anything other than a tyrant, and if they believed any other thing about him like (e.g., Nero Redivus), as usual, time itself, proved even that notion to be completely untrue! 

The belief in the Roman fourth kingdom is a powerful one; its appeal, for one thing, is that, even by default, practically every idea about eschatology, somehow, figures that Rome and the Romans played or will play a dominant, significant and decisive role.  This is understandable, given that Daniel 7 describes the fall of the Fourth Kingdom in preternatural and supernatural termsstill, the $64,000.00 question is: Is it describing the public and pyric destruction of the Second Jewish Commonwealth or is it describing something to come in a billion years or more at the end of time?  For the Bible answer, we need to continually remind: John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary, Jesus, the Apostles did not think so, if they did, the New Testament would never have assume that the telos was anywhere near to being fulfilled in the sixth decade of the first century or finalized in the third decade of the second century A.D.  History, (specifically Jewish salvation history) in hindsight, tells us exactly what Christians expected and the events that befell the Hebrew world and it in no way proved to be a disappointment to any Biblical expectation.

This issue relates to and connects with the problem of the fourth kingdom and Nero's ficticious role in eschatology; so they are interrelated.  The Roman history problem centers around interpretations of Daniel 2, 7, 9 and 12, as well as 1 Corinthians 15, and a smattering of chapters and verses from Revelation chapter 13 through chapter 20.  It was believed by Hasidim (within 88 years of the Maccabee revolt) that the Romans represented the fourth kingdom which was destined to swallow Judaea up, but itself to be destroyed by a warrior Messiah who would save Israel from such a Gentile foe.

This teaching became stronger and more prevasive once John II Hyrcanus and Aristobulus II had squandered the throne of Judaea to Aemilius Scarus and Ganeus Pompey Magnus in the 60s of the first century B.C.  When Jerusalem fell to the conquest of the Roman Republic in that same decade, one could say, the prophecy was confirmed and a "last days" where Rome's days were numbered, became a reality (if only in the minds of the Jews) but it was not so in any alternative reality.  So the belief in the fragility, temperariness and impending end of the Romans was the proverbial spur that excited the Jewish imagination and Jewish insurrections starting, as we are told, with Judas of Galilee, but culminating with the ginormous affair of Simeon Bar Kokhba, in the second century A.D.

On Christian terms, too, this belief bled into the original thesis of ancient Amillennialism and found its support in Paul's words recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:24—a belief that has been shelved, since the fall of the Roman Empire on May 29, 1453yet it has not died, but still lives on strong in Dispensational Premillennial notions [of the future] and Preterist ones [of the past], too.  In either case, the teachings of Jesus, in Matthew 21's Parable of the Vineyard, and Parable of the King's Son's Wedding (found in Matthew 22) militate against a Messianic conquest directed against the Romans.  Moreover, upon reflection, so-called applicable verses in the Book of Revelation (e.g., Revelation chapter 13:1ff, 16:2-11;19:14-21 and 20:8-9, for example, can only, with tremendous mental gymnastics, be contorted to say that the Romans engaged in such sinister ambitions and suffered such categorical and catastrophic defeats at the hands of God's Son in any first or second century setting—history demonstrates the very opposite to be the case.

The Nero problem ('Exhibit B' of the Core of Confusion).  Poor Nero has to be the unlikely leader of the Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire, in the Full Preterist paradigm.  And in The Parousia, the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord's Second Coming, the Magnum Opus of the movement, poor Gessius Florus had the misfortune of being the False Prophet beholden by the Jews at that dark and terrible hour!7  This truly outlandish, crazy, and easily disprovable theory of Roman political history in the A.D.60s was penned by James Stuart Russell in the 1800s and reprinted, more than once, by Full Preterists to help them get the word out acrue more adherents.  When I read what Russell said about Nero it immediately made me think of how odd it would be to depict and insist that Martin Luther King was, in the middle of the 1960s, the head of the Ku Klux Klan (and to actually believe it!). 

Now, out of everything the Bible says about the Son of Perdition, the Man of Sin, and the False Prophet, it is perfectly clear that these dangers and these threats are emanating from unscrupulous nationalist figures—Jewish nationalist figures; people so thoroughly anti-Roman as to be depraved and hatefully virulent (if anything Josephus says about the rebels is to be believed). No syllogism, contrived by Full Preterists, can salvage one messy argument after another, and it is no wonder that many Christians, who embrace their ideas, after years of holding the view, turn around and collapse under the weight of too many silly, false and self-contradictory ideas; notions that have no basis in any facts or any history, Biblical or otherwise.

Then why did Russell, the eloquent and intelligent writer that he was, go there?  We may never know, but one thing is sure, standing back and looking at this argument from afar, it is ridiculous and would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic!  How could it be that Nero, the man who actually gave the Jerusalem Church a place of succor for three and a half years, is to be nominated the Bible's Boogeyman in Full Preterism? And Gessius Florus, a thoroughly wicked Roman procurator who had no sympathies for Jewish prophecies, or apocalyptic ambitions and, was a "Monster of Avarice" a Jew would not believe on any account, is refashioned into a "false prophet" the Jews were beholden to—but nothing could be further away from the truth!  Such scholarship is too terrible to even be called fiction!  

A dozen Roman soldiers lose their lives.  Now, Revelation chapter 19:11-21 is but a case in point about the mistaken focus of Full Preterism about the alleged downfall of the Roman armies in A.D.70.  We want to ask ourselves, Who are the armies of the Beast that Jesus and his angels are going after in the aftermath of the Destruction of Jerusalem?  Does this one chapter describe Jesus' dealings with the armies of Rome, to kill them and have them fed to the beasts of the field and the fowl of the air?  Well, if we look at the history of the aftermath we will be able to answer this question with some degree of confidence: A dozen Roman soldiers lost their lives, while Josephus declares the

"not one of the Jews escaped out of this battle, for, says he, they were all killed, being in the whole not fewer in number than three thousand, together with Judas, the son of Jairus, their general: concerning whom we have before spoken, that he had been captain of a certain band at the siege of Jerusalem and by going down into a certain vault underground, had privately made his escape" (Wars 7.6.5:214-215).

As Josephus recounts, several years after the Destruction of Jerusalem a dozen soldiers lose their lives while better than three thousand Jews lost theirs, so that, along with the Roman militia being the larger of these combined troops, the ratio of death in the Judaea Capta period continued to climb at a time when Full Preterists want to the world to think everything was said and done in A.D.70.  This continued to be the case even into the middle teens of the second century, but it gets even worse: The situation is magnified and still more grossly outlandish in the second century affair of Simeon Bar Kokhba, the people of Israel and their Gentile sympathizers, once again, the Jews and their defenders had the larger of the contingencies and, again "many of the many" died, but fewer of the few died and this ratio of staggering casualties (not on the Roman side, but on the Jewish side) is all wrong and cannot be explained on Full Preterist terms!  Why not?  We have waited for years on end, and still no defense has emerged (because none can). But this is not all!

Invisible Parousia problem ('Exhibit C' of the Core of Confusion).  Saying that 'Nobody saw Jesus come back in the clouds of heaven in the first century is a very dangerous thing to say and believe, but some Preterist take this tact.  This means that not only was Josephus lying when he reports that armies were seen flying in the clouds and around the cities of the Israel, but the Bible itself is misleading the first Christians to believe there would be a visible epiphany, parousia and apocalypse.  In fact, these three words mean something visible, present and revealing would be seen by all parties involved at that exact moment in history that the time was right; we can't just up and declare that nothing happened without immediately impugning both the testimony of Jesus and of the surviving historical account that tells us that that was a time when bizarre and very unlikely paranormal incidents did not fail to manifest themselves to people, on both sides (Jewish and Christians) who read them to mean different things about the outcome of the impending Jewish rebellion.  And so, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21,Acts 1:11; 17:31 and Revelation 1:7 go down the drain as soon as the sophistry of exegetical wisdom applies itself to deny what the Bible plainly says, and corresponding history literally records: Visible prodigies were expected to attend the end of the world and did!  

Revelation 20 problems ('Exhibit D' of the Core of Confusion).  Somebody, (Duncan McKenzie?) somewhere made a comment in his writings about people with their "pretzel logic".  It's one of the features of Full Preterism that has caused some church of Christ critics, like W. Terry Varner and Gus Nichols to quip that they "jacknifed" Revelation 20 back into A.D.70.  Indeed they did!  But, once again, the people that go for this, for reasons known only to God, cannot see that this timeline is shaped like a pretzel and takes them back to a time which cancels everything out of Revelation 13.  Why they follow this "strategy" it moves them through a conceptual loop that ends up neutralizing all the claims they make about A.D.70!  They do not yet understand that nothing that requires the events in Revelation 13 to happen in A.D.33 can turn around and also assert that Nero is a part of it when he was born in A.D.36.  And if Nero was not alive in A.D.33 then neither can Revelation 20:1-4 being referring back to anything that far before Revelation was even written.

But it is clear from my many discussions with Full Preteris that they could care less about an inconvenient fact like the birth of Nero and when and where Revelation 13 and 20:1-4 really belong.  The real issue is not the truth, but the ideological imperatives the reign supreme in their minds: ALL THINGS WERE FULFILLED IN A.D. 70 no matter what!  We do fool ourselves that we can change their minds, but this essay could serve as a cautionary notice to any who are not already blinded by the "light" that is Full Preterism.

A Look at Facts and Numbers

As the saying goes, we are allowed to have our opinions, but we cannot make up facts, and: Numbers do not lie.  Let's first look at facts and let's use Revelation chapter 19:11ff as a jumping off point: What Full Preterists allege about the Roman Empire contradicts Roman history in almost every way and every respect.

In pre-war circumstances and in Providential disturbances, the Romans stepped into the war, but they did not initiate it (Wars 7.8.7:383-388).  In war-fortunes, they started off organized, but surprized and floundering, but in charge, ultimately.  At the very beginning of the hostilities it was Jews and not Romans but, for Russell to be correct, it has to be the Romans and the Romans only, how got beat, not Jews.  The history handed down to us has to be completely reversed to make sense of Russells mistaken claims!

Now, in domestic affairs, admittedly the Romans had a track-record of being heavy-handed with the Jewish people and, through graft, violence, curfews and other stiffling social controls, the Jews felt themselves boxed in and at the mercy of cruel Roman whims.  A number of objectionable and scandalous incidents happened in Jerusalem and at various sacred places in Jerusalem and in the Holy Land.  These insulting and disrespectful instances could not endear either side and did much to enflame the passions of those activists in Israel who were all for going to war, but once war became a reality, at first it was easy for the Jews to believe they could carry it through from success to success, but that was not the case at all!  The Jewish numbers were not great or promising at all.  Look at them:

John of Gischala, followed by 400 vagabonds from Tyre (Wars2.21.1:588), grew to up to 10,000 people by the time he made his initial entry into Jerusalem.7  The Idumeans, numbering 20,000, under four commanders, come to John's rescue (Wars  4.4.2:234).

Simon Bar Giora  60,000, 40,000 of which were unarmed (Wars 4.9.5:515 and 4.9.7:434).8

Eleazar Ben Yair, grandson of Judas of Galilee, was leader of the Sicarii, numbering just over  960 people, initiated the revolt when they ambushed the Roman cohort of the Fortress of Masada in A.D.66 (see Wars 7.8.6:323-8:383).   Seven years later they killed themselves in a mass suicide to avoid being captured and enslaved by the victorious Romans.  This calamity happened on 15 Nisan A.D.73 (Wars 7.9.1:401).

The signs, symbols and metaphors in Revelation chapters 11 and 13, 14, 15, and 16 show terrible losses, but these cannot be interpreted as happening on the Roman side, which numbers were about 75,000 strong (and they had the upper hand after the Jews spent all their time injuring and killing themselves or committing suicide in large groups out of dispair and hopelessness). Then, after three years of ruining repeated chances to work together, the end loomed: Revelation chapters 17, 18 and 19 show the JEWS experienced more heavy losses. There was a extremely successful Roman expedition in the N Galilee and the decisive phase leading to Rome's victory would not be denied; it came during Passover of A.D.70 and ended in success against the rebels on the 9th of Ab of that same year. 

Moreover, the Romans continued to dominate the situation as it lead out of that year and beyond the scope of Jerusalem.  These were places where thousands of survivors of the generation of Jesus' day escaped by foot or on horseback to Machaerus NE shore of the Dead Sea, or to the Forests of Jardin and, of course, Masada, SE of Jerusalem. No such history could, on any account, be superimposed upon any Roman history, in the first or second century. 

Now, none of these numbers comes close to justifying the Bible saying the number was "as the sand of the sea" on either side, Jewish or Roman.  See?  The Jewish armies were so hopelessly divided that, the majority of the time, they spent killing each other off in raids and battles and mass suicides, but we come to something completely different by the time the Jewish State had reached its Waterloo . . .

Under Simon Bar Kokhba we have optiministic numbers that seemed to suggest a better outcome would prevail: 200,000 to 350,000, but, according to Casius Dio, 580,000 died as a direct result of the war, including sympathetic Gentiles (Source: here).  See Oppenheimer here.  What is worse, though, the Rabbis report,  that four billion (some reports say eighty millionpeople perished in all as a result of these unusually dangerous developments. Under the Emperor Hadrian: There were twelve legions and two auxiliary units, however, five of the twelve legions disappeared from the face of the earth!  But in the end, once again, the Romans won, with some effort.  Now, such outcomes befell the Jews and marked the definitve end of their state, the results, willingly or unwillingly, taken to be a cautionary tale against any such future steps against Roman rule for the remainder of the Roman Empire's existence.

All this is a far cry from the indifference and disregard shown to such indelible outcomes, as told in the Full Preterist history timeline, which abstracts prophecy, signs and symbols and bends them into fanciful and imaginary constructs, all built on top of and around A.D.70, to the detriment of the subject they wish to hold forth and to guide to an understanding—yet they do not explain anything, but obscure everything and call it an "exegetical interpretation"!

"This Generation" problem.  If every grandmother and every grandfather and every son and every daughter alive and well in A.D. 30-33 was killed, to the very last person in A.D.70, the Full Preterist contention about "all Bible prophecy was fulfilled in A.D.70" would stand on its on two feet.  But since people escaped from Jerusalem, and others were carried away captive as prisoners of war, that cannot be said or proved. And so, when Full Preterists allege that all Bible prophecies were fulfilled at and by A.D.70 they are, at the very same time, claiming that the Times of the Gentiles was fulfilled at and by A.D.70., their argument for this position fails, hands down.   

But what is another way of understanding their claims?  To look at what they are saying another way, we could use the multi-faceted image King Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream of the Stone striking the figure upon its feet and a great mountain immediately growing out of that concussion and sweeping over the whole world, Roman Empire and all.  Would this be an accurate portayel of anything we know happened when Jerusalem fell in the first century?

It does not make sense because steps and processes are omitted.  What about the pulverization of the parts of the image by the Stone?  The Bible does not teach or imply that the Great Mountain pulverized the image at all!  What about the great wind blowing the chaff in all directions and "no place was found for them"?  Does the Bible teach or infer that the Great Mountain is responsible for removing the chaff of the summer threshingfloor, or does the Word of God say a mighty wind did this?  In the Scriptures, in Daniel's reading of what the king's dream was, it is directly said that the Mountain came out as the last and final result of:-

(1) the Stone hitting the image on its feet (Herodian Judaea in the throws of the First Zealot Revolt against the Romans),

(2) the Stone pulverizing the entire image till it was entirely reduced to the consistancy of chaff on the summer threshingfloor  (this would be continued Jewish losses from Masada, Machaerus, Forests of Jarden, Cyprus, Cyrene, Alexandria, Mesopotamia, etc, stretching out into the second century away from the Destruction of Jerusalem during the so-called millennial period) and,

(3) a Great Wind carried all these particles away "and no place was found for them" (the nullification and erasing of all Bar Kokhba's carefully laid plans and efforts to bring Israel's carnal messianic hopes into concrete fruition). 

(4) Then (and only then) did the Stone transform itself into a Great Mountain and fill all the earth (this would be the Christian world literally ejected out of the Jewish disaster of the final revolt into its own, from then on).  All this is literally four important steps away from the original destruction of A.D.70 and finds absolutely no resonance in Full Preterist convictions or claims! 

So why are these phases so important for this discussion and for our consideration?  It is important because the history we are attempting to locate in time and antiquity cannot be seen or verified with steps skipped and made up tales.  We certainly cannot find the remotest resemblence of a breakdown of the Roman Empire in anything we see Daniel explain about the fate of the fourth kingdom, or the destiny of the entire image in anything coming close to a forty year window, composed and offered by Full Preterist exegetes.6  To offer what they do amounts to a mockery of common sense, since, at the end of the day they are asking the world to believe them on their word that something truly tragic and final happened to the Roman Empire as a result of the Romans actually winning their military confrontation with the Hebrew rebels in the A.D.70 debacle. 

Full Preterism doesn't make sense, on a veriety of levels and it, rather, contributes to a mockery of a subject we sincerely hope and pray every Christian would take the time to study in order to see why and how the Church emerged out of the world of the Synagogue over, basically, a one hundred year span of time.  But Full Preterism misleads people to think of this study as a ridiculous exercise in assembling disparate and contradictory facts while neglecting duties, but the danger of Full Preterism is graver than a difference of opinion because the view leads to an abridgement of a process that leads from the scattering of the power of the Holy People to today's realm: A Great Mountain that is connected and contiguous with it in every way.  Hence, Full Preterism's negation of the process strongly implies that we, too, have nowhere to be, no race to run and, in the end, no place to go.

And the rejection of the four stage process after the Stone hit the feet is precisely why the Judaea Capta period and its violent and astonishing loss of life in wars carried out in Crete (two-hundred and fifty thousand deaths) Libya and Cyrene (death toll unknown), Egypt and Mesopotamia, and then the Kitos Wars of A.D.116-117 MAKE NO DIFFERENCE AND ARE IGNORED COMPLETELY BY FULL PRETERISTS (because everything associated with their eschaton was done at and by a fictitous deadline that even excludes the disappearance of the Jewish State in the A.D.132-136. And it is from that last and final act that the scattering of the Jewish people was realized and from that tragedy appeared the Great Mountain, a realm in which we live and move and have our being as Christians. 

Now, the contours of this deadend theology, if accepted, puts ministers out of a job and gives the false impression that A.D.70 was an abrupt drop off and there's nothing to do but study the Bible as history and basically await death as either a history scholar or a loner, but certainly not as a minister or a worshiper and a doer of God's will in the world.  This is a grave and serious matter and I do not make these allegations lightly or in order to bring embarrassment or shame on anyone. 

Conclusion

All points listed: On being Christians and why this ordinance from the Most High should and must be honored; the validity of the Church and its work and how it should and must be cared for and supported; how history problems need to be looked at, modified and revised; obvious interpretive problems and how CENI or any other interpretive theory needs to be used honestly and not selectively and capriciously; timetable problems: why the Pentecost A.D.70 notion is a non sequitur and needs to be abandoned for something that can be demonstrated in the history of Israel.   Full Preterism also has a big problems with numbers and says, without any justification, that the Romans, not the Jews, were the ones who had the largest casualties along the continuum of time leading from A.D.66 to A.D. 136, BUT THAT IS NOT TRUE! 

Finally, Full Preterism's interpretation of "this generation" a forty year block of time imposes artificial constraints, resulting in the affairs they are discussing is wishing to be explain non-sensical because it can't fit into the window now matter how hard they try.  The Full Preterist die may have set and maybe it cannot be changed, but what can arise out these warnings about the chaos of Full Preterism is a worldview, not totally dissimilar from an ordinary Christian church (which is what we envision and what we work, hope and pray for).  The reason we strive for this is precisely because we believe the Church is the genius of God and represents his purposes and his lone plan for mankind, throughout all ages, world without end (Ephesians 3:21). 

As can be seen, above, the Church is more than a craving to understand curiousities and facts, but a quest to know and adore God through his Son, Jesus.  It is not then, ultimately, about studying and intellectualism, but about the warrant for a relationship with a Deity whose claims have proof and what he asks for has legitimacy and merit, not that we should fly away from Christ our Savior in all directions, but that all the people should gather around him, and ever more closely because of this new information about his actions in Jewish antiquity coming to us anew.

Consequently, to worship and emulate his life and teachings automatically means something must happen in our lives above good thoughts and good intentions, because he himself was more than good thoughts and good intentions: He was a living example and gave, not just ideas, but bread, fellowship, inspiration, meaning and direction.  We must not ignore or forget this lest we stand naked and barren before God at the end with only excuses, blame and rationalizations.

In the final analysis, all elements listed above mean that Full Preterism is a menace and represents a quagmire that should be avoided at all costs.  The Israel Only phenomenon is actaully the least of the worries here, the Full Preterist conundrum represents, in our minds, a corruption of Christianity to almost atheistic nihilism.  This all started when something true in the Bible (Jesus' claim that he would come back in the generation of his contemporaries) was mixed with attempts at James Russell's Roman scholarship that, upon inspection, would not be expected even from a rookie. 

Out of the train-wreak of Russell's work an ability to know enough about a subject to be dangerous is looming in the world.  And this is a condition we want to be sure to fight and counteract with all due diligence in everything we do and say.  We need to be perfectly clear about what we do and do not believe.  We need to be sure to understand who Jesus is, what his Cross and pecious blood means for us and how salvation and the grace of God are fully applicable and beneficial to all men and women in the here and in the now, tomorrow and forever.  And since who and what Jesus is, and what he did continues to reverberate, it is incumbant upon us to be Christians in more than name and more than ideas, but in practice and in action.  And if we fail to accept these challenges; if we shrink from the good work set before us, we will have no one else to blame if the results of our efforts leave the tragedy of wreckage in its wake and fruitless results at the end of the proverbial day.

Notes

1 It could not mean the end of the Gospel when, as the roof of the Second Temple was coming down, an angel heralds the everlasting Gospel (Revelation 14:6-7).  This evidence supports the procession of the Gospel era out of the crucible of sectarian Second Temple Judaism, not the end of the work initiated by Christ.

2 Organized efforts of Jesus led to the early Christian church; organized efforts of the apostles helped spread the letters of the New Testament; organized efforts of bishops, some facing persecution and death, helped Christians make it through the Judaea Capta Period; organized efforts established help networks throughout the Roman Empire led to diocesan development and greatly assisted Christians in the transport of material help in times of great needs and impoverishment.  An organizational entity is not evil of itself, but, like anything, could be one or the other, depending on the goals and integrity of the individuals involved.  In the U.S. and in the world today, their are groups and interests, religious and otherwise, who are working diligently to see that the day comes when their group will have both its say and its way.  It would be disappointing and tragic for Christians to suddenly decide that being a people with a purpose, goal and destiny, and having joint activities and interests was not a worthwhile thing, while thousands, all over the world, are dying because of addictions to drugs out a sense of meaninglessness, purposelessness and a potent exitential boredom.  

3 More on CENI here.

4 See this study on ministry support and the New Testament.

5 Teaching was a reality, because 2 John 9 and 10 show, not the rejection of all teachers, but only those who do not confess the coming of Christ in the flesh.  Moreover, James 3:1ff and Hebrews 5:12 do not support an interpretation that the New Testament forbade teaching, then or now.  The combined information, instead, seems to throw caution on the source of teaching and the legitimacy of teachers of the Law (Titus 1:11)

7 See the Biblehub entry on the entrance of John at the beginning of the First Jewish Revolt against the Romans here.

8 The Jews beat Cestius and Gessius Florus, Life 6:24 and 7:28, so J.S. Russell's claims about Gessius Florus being the False Prophet of Revelation 13: 11-17 are not only unhistorical, but also illogical.

9 "Full preterist" material is being archived for balanced representation of all preterist views, but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The classification of all full preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and the convictions of the website curator (a former full preterist pastor). The HyP theology of final resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70 (end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up to 1845, when the earliest known full preterist book was written. Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and fundamentally different."  (My emphasis, MEM). Source: Preterist Archive.com