As director of The Power of Preterism Network (www.powerofpreterism.com) my tagline and hashtag, especially when sharing posts related to Biblical prophecy and necessary reforms to be had in contemporary Christianity, has been #PowerOfPreterism.
When highlighting the ‘power of preterism’, my intention is to demonstrate how edifying it is to understand what Bible prophecy points to (the consummated Kingdom of God), and how important it is to study through correlating and syllogistic Bible texts, and always aim for consistency and intellectual honesty regarding interpretation of Biblical texts that may run counter traditional thought (especially regarding eschatology – the study of last things). Many of the problems and divisions found in the Body of Christ could be alleviated by proper Bible interpretation (namely discerning audience relevance before applicational relevance) and a desire for contextual teaching rather than proof-texting and isolating passages to fit our our interpretational whims.
One method I have continued to labor in regarding helping others see the necessary reforms of and power of Preterism in the Church is participating in public debates. Admittedly, the goal is never so much to change the mind of the person I am debating, but rather to allow those watching the debate to see the need to study through certain areas and to foster the desire for consistency in Biblical interpretation and explanation. Another method I utilize is listening to sermons and lectures by preachers and teachers I disagree with in an effort to challenge my own study and to demonstrate how I would go about explaining the points in a manner that I would agree with. I am glad that I am not alone in this attitude and methodology because due to the many efforts that are out there we have continued to see the progress of Preterism in the likes of individual’s understanding, Preterism being preached from pulpits (rather than deferred hope; cf. Proverbs 13:12), and various ministries and websites popping up to further work out the ethics of a Preterist worldview.
All of that said, recently I had the privilege of listening through some podcasts produced by Gary DeMar, the president of American Vision (www.americanvision.org), (and one wherein he was a guest). I’d like to share some notes I took and make some assertions in an effort to hopefully foster discussion with Gary and others of similar interpretational persuasion, as well as edify those who mighty study through these things. I have had passing Facebook conversations with Gary usually aimed at challenging him to help with the advancement of Biblical eschatology, and he has continued to challenge me that the necessary component of advancing Full Preterism is to “produce books on how a comprehensive worldview flows from FP”, and these should include details on topics such as economics, government, education, etc. I may agree with such an assertion, however as you read through the notes I will share below, I believe it will be apparent to any informed and honest Bible student that just being honest with the details we have from the Scriptures demonstrates the power of Preterism (and to be clear, I speak of Preterism as the understanding of past fulfilled Bible prophecy, the whole ‘partial preterism’ category is simply avoiding (and many times confusing) the consistency of the Biblical details).
Let’s first consider the podcast titled, “Is Full Preterism Heresy” produced on April 28, 2021. (1)
Gary started out by detailing that there are “different types of Full Preterism” and that “there have always been Preterists, this isn’t something new” (and then he mentioned that Full Preterism is new). Unfortunately, in detailing Full Preterism, Gary chose to highlight the ‘hyperpreterist’ perspective that, “Every prophetic event and it’s significance is done” (which is viewed as an aberrant view by many Full Preterists), and he mentioned the name of Dr. Don K. Preston (who does believe in the continuation of the Kingdom of God since it’s consummation in AD 70). I’d be interested to hear what Gary thinks the significance of AD 70 was, what did it point to, and what the implications of a yet 2nd coming are (which is my estimation is rather problematic). Our study group noted all the verses that were mentioned in the discussion (Hebrews 9:28; Revelation 20-22; Acts 1; 1 Corinthians 15; and 1 Thessalonians 4). He mentioned two resources – a book by James Orr and a podcast with Doug Giles that he was interviewed on (I will speak on that below). Gary mentioned the problems with a ‘creedal view’ of the resurrection, namely because the creeds have differences (resurrection of the flesh, the body, or the dead) and was awfully comfortable agreeing with the thoughts that “The Bible is a big book” and “We just don’t know”. If that be the case, how could Full Preterism ever be considered heresy?!?!? Lastly, Gary spent considerable time urging Christians to focus on their calling, noting that we are “brothers of the 2nd Adam doing what the 1st Adam should have done”. He spoke a bit about the Christian worldview and God’s law (which he referred to as the particulars) and noted that each of us should be asking ourselves, “What should I be doing, generation to generation”. As Gary concluded the podcast I was left with the nagging thought, so as this supposed future coming of Christ – will my calling to teach and preach the Gospel cease? Doesn’t that impede upon the eternality of the Gospel (cf. Revelation 14:6)?
That brings me to the next podcast, wherein Gary Demar was a guest on the Warriors and Wildmen podcast (2). Much of the same stuff as detailed above was mentioned, also Gary went to great lengths to show the problems with Dispensationalism. However, the most poignant detail from the podcast was when the host, Doug Giles, remarked that the only passage he asserts regarding eschatology is Luke 19:13, wherein Jesus Christ shares a parable that says, “occupy until I come”. This leads in on the thoughts I mentioned above. Does the occupation of the Kingdom remnant end at some point in history? Is that what we read in Scripture as the finality of Bible prophecy? The failure to correlate this parable in Luke 19:11 – 27 with other parables told by Jesus (and the details in the other synoptic gospels) regarding His coming and bringing judgement seems to allow for a Futuristic reading. A great resource to gain an understanding of Jesus’ Kingdom parables fulfilled in T.J. Smith’s book, Kingdom Come: Messiah’s Methodical Manifesto Hidden In His Parables. In that book, T.J. Smith writes, “Nothing about the parables of the Kingdom are about our future (except our inclusion into the Kingdom)…Sadly, millions of Christians world-wide miss the entire message of God’s Kingdom and the full victory of Christ because they are taught to believe their hope is in a future fulfillment. “Already but not yet” as they say. This teaching and belief of a “future fulfilled but presently an incomplete Kingdom” robs Jesus of His majesty, dominion, power, faithfulness, authority, victory, destiny, and in turn, deprives believers of the very essence of God’s love and absolute sovereignty”.
In his podcast, The Rise Of The Antichrist (3), Gary expounded upon heresy in the 1st century (leaning in on audience relevance) and said, “They were more focused on the shadows of the Old Covenant promises than the light of the reality which was embodied in the person and work of Jesus Christ”. Amen! Sadly, as Brian Martin noted in his book, Behind The Veil of Moses, the same blindness that kept many in the first century blind to the reality of God, has unfortunately effected many in the Futurist camp today. Instead of seeing the fullness of what God has provided, many want it to be according to their own interpretations, whims, and desires. Furthermore, Gary dispelled the common notions of Futurist thought regarding the coming Antichrist by asserting, “…the Biblical definition of antichrist is someone who denies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, as well as those who deny the relationship between the Father and the Son”.
“The Last Days Are Past Days” (4) was the fourth podcast I listened to by Gary DeMar wherein he asserted, “This idea that the majority of the New Testament passages relating to the end times relate to the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was a popular position…I’ve got a library full of books that make that case”. That should cause any honest Bible study to question, well then, what happened? How has Dispensational thought crept into churches and pulpits at some an alarming rate that the majority of Christians have no idea what to believe Biblical about the last days? How and why is the Full Preterist demonized at every turn (it should be noted that so much has been done to keep Full Preterism from advancing in the local church – hereticizing, ostracising, and ignoring those who feel compelled to bring these truths up)? Gary offers up am simply solution regarding the topic of the last days, we must ask “the last days of what?” and contextually “for whom”?
Last but surely not least, was the podcast “So What’s Left?” (5).
It’s important to note that much of the discussion Gary and his cohost were having about these things spawned from their reading through, Paradise Restored, by David Chilton. In the book, David Chilton aims at the Full Preterist hermeneutic and refers to it as “post everythingism”, however Gary honestly admitted that prior to his passing away, David Chilton had seen the consistency in the Full Preterist view. There are quite a few resources around the web that one can find to learn of Chilton’s transition into Full Preterist thought and even some lectures that can be found (I have some information and links for those a bit more interested in that regard – simply message or email me). Gary likes to use the phrase, “Well, that’s the traditional thought”, which more often than not seems like he is hiding from the consistency of the Scriptural details. He asserted the following 3 Bible texts as pointing to a yet future coming, Acts 1; 1 Thessalonians 4; and 1 Corinthians 15, but admitted, “There is debate out there about what these passages are saying”. There sure is! And frankly there are so many teachings from Full Preterists (myself included) on those texts I don’t know how or why using them to bolstering Futurism is even possible. Gary did admit his need to continue studying through these things, which I hope is a sure case. Oddly enough, Gary mentioned his lack of knowledge regarding what happens to our bodies (after death and/or in the future), which is odd to me because I have previously been hereticized for sharing the exact same thought. Gary said, “The most important thing is that when you die you are going to be with Jesus. Whatever happens after death, I’m not worried about it…So if your resurrection begins when you die, that you get a brand new body, praise God. If it’s till sometime at the end of time that we are going to be reunited, praise God. It doesn’t change the way I live here in the present”. I’d agree, however that’s also largely due to the fact that Gary is heretized for saying such things, when hosts of Full Preterists have said similar and are cast out. Even more odd was the assertion Gary made, borrowing thoughts from Barna Research Group, regarding “only 6% of Christians having a Biblical worldview”. If that be the case, and Futurism is the popular eschatological view, how can it be demanded that the Full Preterist outline a comprehensive worldview to be viewed as a viable option? Maybe just maybe, Full Preterism does indeed offer the proper Biblical worldview that so many lack (I.e., “the power of Preterism).
To conclude my thoughts I hope this review of these blogs was informative and edifying, in the very least challenging each of us toward Biblical context, clarity, and consistency and will foster discussion in these areas. I regular cite 2 Timothy 2:15 wherein we read that those who study to show themselves approved by rightly dividing the Word of Truth need not be ashamed. The reversal of that is that if we are not studying and rightly dividing these things we should be ashamed (which I believe to be the case illustrated by the 6% figure given above regarding contemporary Christians). There is plenty of study, work, and strategizing that needs to be done regarding the advancement of the power of preterism, which I continue to believe will take place in and through local churches.
Submitted by: Michael Miano