PMT 2015-044 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
A reader named Rick wonders if preterism is spiritually depressing. Here is his lengthy question. As you can tell from the involved nature of the inquiry, I will have to break it down into manageable chunks.
In this article I will basically present his question, then break it down into numbered sections for later analysis.
I checked out your website and that makes a lot of sense. I can understand most of your teaching regarding Revelation, but some of it is fuzzy. I can really see most of the history you describe and what has happened, but I have a hard time believing that much of the judgement is over unless it’s a foretaste/foreshadow of what’s to come. I know that some hold this view even though I didn’t pick it up from anyone else.
(by Ken Gentry)
A defense of theonomic ethics against a leading Reformed critic.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
For example, a mountain burning like fire, a possible asteroid/meteor, being thrown into the sea and destroying everything is not an impossible or unreasonable thing. I know some Preterists may look at these big catastrophes in the book of Revelation and try to narrow them down to a very small thing in a small area such as the “mountain burning like fire” being a rock on fire used in a catapult by the Romans. I don’t think we should limit God’s ability to literally use the apocalyptic scenes, as described in the scripture, against the wicked one of these days. Any thoughts on this? I am in no way saying you are saying this, but I would like to know what you think when you get the time.
Some of the Preterist teachings have almost ruined my faith because there just doesn’t seem to be anything really to look forward to based on those teachings. No heavenly Jerusalem because it was never literal, no earthly judgement on the wicked avenging God’s people that have been massacred up to this point because it was already accomplished, no Jesus coming in glory as King in a supernatural setting because it was never literal, and so on.
It just seems when we start ridding the amazing supernatural scenes from the scripture that only Almighty God can accomplish and limiting his abilities to accomplish these amazing works, all we get is just another religion of the world with a God who cannot really do what he says. I by no means believe that. I believe Almighty God can accomplish any amazing work and means what he says. Any thoughts?
This has really been weighing in on my chest lately because it concerns me. If Revelation is 99% accomplished, what is there to really look forward to? What applies to us today? Why does Almighty God not speak to us today about anything coming if it has already come? What is our relevancy in this corrupt dark world?
(by Keith L. Mathison)
An important critical evaluation of dispensationalism from a Reformed perspective
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
I have no desire to live in this broken world and this broken world is not heaven to me. I remember hearing someone say that we should be in heaven on this earth right now. That doesn’t mean much to me. I understand from a spiritual viewpoint, but hopefully, not from a physical viewpoint. This world is chaos.
Thanks for your time!
Upon considering his complex question, I will break it down into the following questions.
- What is the mountain burning with fire in Rev 8:8? That text reads: “The second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood.” Preterism seems to reduce this enormous catastrophe to a relatively minor occurrence.
- Why can we not interpret Rev 8:8 as referring to a meteor strike and the enormous consequences resulting from it? Why should we discount a more literal understanding when it is entirely feasible? Are we limiting the supernatural power of God?
- Does preterism discount our eternal hope in a glorified estate? If the new Jerusalem and the new heavens and new earth have already begun, what comfort is that since so much in the world is in such bad shape? Such thinking has almost ruined the writer’s faith.
- If Revelation is basically fulfilled, what do we have to look forward to in the future as Christians? Is any of Revelation applicable to us today?
These are good questions, written under a genuine spiritual burden. I will interact with them in a brief series. Hopefully others will find these thoughts helpful.
Tagged: burning mountain
Ken, I’m very glad you chose to address these points, since they seem to come up fairly often. As an initial observation, I couldn’t help but think that I hope Rick is aware of the difference between “partial preterism” or “orthodox preterism” (the view held by you and most of us here) and something like “full preterism”. a.k.a. “hyper preterism”, which is a very marginal and fringe view that denies certain basic tenets of the faith, such as the future bodily return of Jesus Christ, etc.. Obviously, you and most of us reject hyper preterism, so I hope Rick is careful to make that distinction. Otherwise, one could possibly see some merit in his statement that we have nothing to look forward to in the future.
Rick said: “Some of the Preterist teachings have almost ruined my faith because there just doesn’t seem to be anything really to look forward to based on those teachings.”
I know you’ll address this point, along with Rick’s other points, in your usual gentle and often humorous, yet bold and detailed, way, but in the meantime, and at the risk of stealing some of your thunder, it’s hard for me to see how one could come to this conclusion. It actually shocked me to see that we who are postmillennialist and partial preterists have nothing to look forward to.
Basically, what we have to look forward to is that Christ, who’s presently reigning at the right hand of the Father, fully intends to defeat all of his enemies over the course of history, by means of the gospel, the “foolishness” of preaching, as it were, and through discipleship and Christian nurture. When God promises such things, and that he will accomplish it through the Spirit-empowered church, it gives us EVERYTHING to look forward to, because we know that NOTHING can thwart the will of God. Also, it should give us purpose and motivation to carry out the Great Commission, as Jesus Himself commanded, and it gives us hope for the future, in that God fully intends to defeat his enemies in history on earth prior to entering the final eternal state.
Rick if you’re reading this, keep praying and keep seeking, brother. As Ken will explain, God has a GLORIOUS plan for the future! So, be of good cheer, for the news is good!!
It seems to me that a great deal of the angst around orthodox preterism and postmillennialist is that people seem to have replaced Christ and the world transforming power of the gospel with a Hollywood-style Rambo-Jesus coming back with the latest special effects to rescue His poor, powerless church.
That said, may I humbly suggest that if preterism shakes your faith, it may be that your faith is somewhat misplaced (I speak from personal experience).