QUESTION 101: Jesus said that if you call your brother "fool," you will be liable to be thrown into the fire of Gehenna. Does this mean that the word "fool" is a taboo word that can bring damnation if we utter it?
ANSWER: The context of Jesus' warning about calling a brother a "fool" concerns those who have an unjustified and murderous anger against their brother. (Matt. 5:21,22) Jesus was speaking specifically of Jews who were soon to be casting "insults" (such as "Raca!" and "Fool!") at His disciples, persecuting them and saying all kinds of evil against them falsely. (Matt. 5:11; Acts 9:1)
It was as a result of their unlawful hatred of the Lord's disciples, and their refusal to become reconciled with them, that the Jews of that generation were cast into the "prison" of the Great Tribulation, and were not let out until the last cent was paid in 70. (Matt. 5:23-26; Lk. 19:43,44; Rev. 18:2).
That generation was not condemned because it used the word "fool." "Fool" is not taboo. It is not a word to be superstitiously avoided or neurotically dreaded. (Matt. 23:17,19; I Cor. 1:25; 3:18; 4:10; cf. I Cor. 15:36) It is only a word. What brings down the fire of God's wrath is the baseless, slanderous, derisive and murderous hatred that the word "fool" denotes in the context of Matt. 5:22.
QUESTION 102: Hebrews 9:8-10 plainly tells us that when Hebrews was written in about A.D. 65, the temple already no longer had a "standing" in God's sight, and that the animal sacrifices of Moses were already no longer "imposed." Yet preterists boldly contradict God's word and say the exact opposite! They say that when Hebrews was written (some 35 years after the Cross), Herod's temple still had "standing" in God's sight and that the animal sacrifices of Moses were still "imposed." How can preterists have such a low view of Christ's work and of Scripture that they blatantly contradict God and make the temple services and animal sacrifices actually continue to be imposed by God years after Christ's work on the Cross?
ANSWER: The King James translators erred repeatedly in their translation of Heb. 9:6-10. There are thirteen critical KJV errors in those five verses. Here they are in red:
"Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation." (Heb. 9:6-10)
Here is a more accurate translation:
"And these things thus having been prepared, the priests are going into the first tabernacle through all, completing the services, but into the second the high priest [goes] alone once in the year, not without blood, which he is offering for himself and the ignorances of the people; the Holy Spirit showing by this that the way of the Holies has not yet been manifested, while the first tabernacle is yet having standing; which [is] a parable for the present time, according to which both gifts and sacrifices are being offered which are not being able as to conscience to perfect the one serving, but [stand] only on foods and drinks and various baptisms, even ordinances of flesh, being imposed until a time of setting things right." (Heb. 9:6-10)
(Compare: Friberg's Analytical Greek New Testament; Thomas Newberry's Englishman's Greek New Testament, Jay P. Green's Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, the New American Standard Version, the New Revised Standard Version, Richard Weymouth's New Testament in Modern Speech and various other translations.)
The KJV's mistranslations in Heb. 9:6-10 mislead the reader to think that the old-covenant temple system ceased to stand and ceased to be imposed, on the day that Christ died and the veil of the earthly temple was rent in twain in A.D. 30.
According to the KJV:
1. The way into the holies had already been made manifest. (Heb. 9:8)
2. The first tabernacle was already no longer "standing." (Heb. 9:8)
3. The ordinances of Moses were already no longer imposed. (Heb. 9:10)
4. The time of reformation had already come. (Heb. 9:10)
Yet the scripture actually says that when Hebrews was written:
1. The way into the holies had not yet been made manifest.
2. The first tabernacle still had standing.
3. The ordinances of Moses were still imposed.
4. The time of reformation had not yet come.
The worldly temple order, with its first / outer tabernacle (the Holy Place) and its second / inner tabernacle (the Most Holy Place), was "prepared" under Moses; and that worship-order continued to be "imposed" after the Cross into the apostolic era (Acts 21:26; 24:17), during which time the Levitical priests continued to complete the services in the first tabernacle, and the high priests continued to offer blood in the second tabernacle once a year.
The continuation, or "standing," of the earthly, Mosaic worship-order into the apostolic era was a "parable" or figure for the "present [apostolic] time." By it the Holy Spirit was demonstrating to the apostolic church that "the way of the [heavenly] Holies" had not yet been manifested. Whenever believers saw the worldly temple still standing in Jerusalem and saw the Levitical priests still performing their fleshly services, they knew from this that all things had not yet been put into subjection to the Son (Heb. 2:8), and that "the way of the Holies" had therefore not yet been manifested.
"The way of the Holies" was not manifested until the worship-order of "the worldly tabernacle" (the world of Law, Sin and Death) was loosed / dissolved in the (yet-future-to-the-book-of-Hebrews) "time of setting things right." That "time" came in 70, when the worldly tabernacle, and the entire old-covenant worship-order ceased to have "standing" and was "thrown down." (Matt. 24:2; Mk. 13:2; Lk. 21:6; II Cor. 5:1)
When the worldly house fell and the old covenant vanished through the cosmos-changing power of the Cross of Christ, (Heb. 8:13) the "Most Holy" (the Father and the Son) came down "from out of Heaven," (Jn. 14:2,3,23; II Cor. 5:2; I Thess. 4:14,16; Rev. 21:2,10) and indwelt and clothed the Spirit-sanctified Church; and the saints in Christ became God's "Most Holy."
Thus were the saints "manifested" with Christ in His Parousia, when the worldly sanctuary fell. They were "changed" into His "image." They became "like Him." They became the Tabernacle of "God Himself." (I Cor. 15:49-52; Col. 3:4; I Jn. 3:2; Rev. 21:3)
QUESTION 103: The book of First John is dated around A.D. 85-95, yet it speaks of a future coming of Christ. Doesn't this disprove preterism?
ANSWER: If John wrote First John in about 85-95, then he would have been one of the only, if not the only, surviving Apostle at the time. But I Jn. 1:1-5 implies that when John wrote, the other apostles were still alive and laboring in the Gospel.
Also, many or most scholars believe that John wrote his three epistles at about the same time that he wrote his Gospel. John 5:2 indicates that John wrote his Gospel before A.D. 70.
More important evidence though for a pre-70 date of First John is found in I Jn. 2:18:
“Even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.” (I Jn. 2:18)
The knowledge that John and his readers were living in "the last hour" was based on the promise of the Lord. Jesus prophesied on the Mount of Olives that just before the end (i.e., just before the destruction of the temple in their generation [Matt. 24:1,2,34]), many false christs and false prophets would appear and perform great signs and wonders. (Matt. 24:23-31; Mk. 13:21-27)
When John wrote his epistle, "many antichrists" (false christs and false prophets) had appeared. "From this," based on the word of the Lord, John and his readers knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were living in "the last hour" before the fall of the temple and the vanishing of the old covenant. (Heb. 8:13)
"The world is passing away." (I Jn. 2:17)
When John wrote those words, he echoed what Paul wrote in I Cor. 7:31:
"The form of this world is passing away."
Paul wrote those words about fifteen years before the fall of the temple. He was anticipating the "passing away" and abolition of the old-covenant world. (II Cor. 3:7-18)
So was John.
John and all the other apostles lived in the last days prior to "the end" of the Mosaic age. (Matt. 24:3,6,14) The only difference is that John, when he wrote his epistles, was living in "the last hour" of those last days.
QUESTION 104: Galatians 3:28 says that for believers, "there is neither male nor female," because all of us together are "one in Christ Jesus." Doesn't this mean that in the New-Covenant world, men and women are now absolutely equal in every way ("one") and that men no longer have any authority of any kind whatsoever over women?
ANSWER: Some preterists have interpreted Gal. 3:28 that way. However, that interpretation is based on three unbiblical premises, which are these:
Unbiblical Premise #1: "One" means "absolutely equal in every way."
Unbiblical Premise #2: "Authority" implies "separation" / "division."
Unbiblical Premise #3: "Subjection to authority" implies "bondage."
In contrast to those three premises, the Scriptures teach us that the Father and the Son are "One" and that the Father has "authority" over the Son. (Jn. 10:18,30; 17:22; I Cor. 15:24,28)
"Union" ("oneness") and "authority" co-exist in the Trinity. Yet according to the three faulty premises above, if the Father and the Son are "One," then the Father has no authority over the Son, and the Father and the Son are "absolutely equal in every way," and the doctrine of the Trinity is a falsehood.
Also according to the three false premises above, if the Father has authority over the Son, then the Father and the Son cannot be "One," and the Father and the Son are separated, and the Son is in "bondage" to the Father, and the doctrine of the Trinity is again turned into a falsehood.
The three false premises above are premises of theological Feminism.
Thus a feminist interpretation of Gal. 3:28 serves to destroy the Faith.
Contrary to theological feminism, "union" and "authority" are not mutually exclusive. They are not incompatible. They are not contradictory. If they are, then the Trinity is a lie, and a different religion than Christianity, such as Islam, is the truth. (One of the ironies of Feminism: It validates Islamic theology.)
Male and female are "one" in Christ Jesus because in Him, "all" are priests unto God. In Him, "neither male nor female" stand in need of men (such as the Aaronic priesthood) to minister before God on their behalf.
It is in this sense that in Christ, men no longer "rule" over women, (Gen. 3:16) nor over any other social class in the Kingdom. Within the context of the question of who may worship God, there are no class distinctions today (such as "Jew," "free man" or "male") as there were before Christ. Instead, in Christ "all" are united in the Father. We are "all" sons of God through faith in Christ. We "all" bear His Image and co-reign with Him through the Gospel.
This is the union of the saints, male and female, in Christ. This union in no way conflicts with, contradicts or nullifies the authority-structure that God instituted between a man and a woman before the Law, and before the Fall, in the beginning. (Gen. 2:23; I Tim. 2:12,13)
Biblical marriage, wherein the husband is the head (authority) of the wife, is a living reflection of the union of Christ and the Church. (Eph. 5:22-24) And the authority of a man over a woman in the Church is a living reflection of Christ's authority over man. (I Cor. 11:3,7) The Christ-like authority of a man over a woman was instituted in the Garden of Eden. (I Cor. 11:9,10) Therefore that authority is "very good." (Gen. 1:31) It is not "bondage." It is a distinction, not a separation, in the "one" Body.
The authority of a man over a woman is based on the authority of Christ over the Church, which is based on the authority of the Father over the Son. Therefore, if men and women are absolutely equal in every way, according to the feminist interpretation of Gal. 3:28, then Trinitarian Christianity is a false religion. It follows then that we must choose between modern theological Feminism and Christianity.
FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: You implied that the Father and the Son are "not absolutely equal in every way." But I thought that the doctrine of the Trinity states that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are "co-equal." Doesn't this mean that They are "absolutely equal in every way?"
ANSWER: Though the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God, one Substance / one Essence, equal in eternality, glory and incomprehensibility, They are nevertheless three distinct (not absolutely equal) Persons. They are not three Fathers or three Sons or three Holy Spirits. The Son is begotten of the Father; the Father is not begotten of the Son. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father; the Father does not proceed from the Holy Spirit. The authority of the Son and of the Holy Spirit comes from the Father. The Son and the Holy Spirit do the will of the Father. Therefore the three Persons, though unfathomably One God, are not absolutely equal in Person, office, work or authority.
QUESTION 105: The Apostle Paul made it clear that believers were no longer under the Jewish Law. Doesn't this contradict Christ who said in Matthew 5:18 that not one law of Moses would pass away until all things were fullfilled?
ANSWER: Paul taught gentile believers to refuse to be bound to the fleshly ordinances of Moses, but Paul never taught Jewish believers to abandon Moses. Paul himself, as a Jewish Christian, continued to observe the Mosaic rites and taught other Jewish believers to do the same:
"...They have been told about you [Paul], that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. ...Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses in order that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law. ...Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple, giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them." (Acts 21:21-26)
See also Acts 24:17,18:
"Now after several years I [Paul] came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings; in which they found me in the temple, having been purified..."
The God-imposed obligation of Jewish Christians to observe the Mosaic flesh-ordinances remained upon them until the old covenant vanished in A.D. 70. (Heb. 8:13; 9:8-10; Col. 2:17) As Jesus said, He did not come to destroy the Law of Moses. He did not come to refute it and replace it with a separate and unrelated law. He came to fulfill the Law, to transform it from within by bringing Israel into that which the Law itself foreshadowed.
If the Apostles and all the other Jewish believers had instantly abandoned the rites of Moses on the day of Pentecost in A.D. 30, while the old covenant remained imposed until A.D. 70, that would have meant that the Church had cut itself off from Israel. It would have meant that Christianity was a completely new and different religion than the one that God had given to His covenant-people. It would have meant that Christ had come to tear down and refute the Law and the Prophets, to exclude the dead from His Kingdom, to overthrow the God of Israel and to set up His own revolutionary kingdom. (I Cor. 15:27)
But Christ came to save the world, not to condemn it. (Jn. 3:17) The Church was Israel fulfilled, not Israel replaced. A.D. 30-70 was the time of Israel's transformation, not her destruction. Israel was "changed," not abandoned, through the world-regenerating work of the outpoured Holy Spirit; and that change was consummated when the Lord Jesus, the promised Messiah, came to inhabit the Jew-gentile Church in the "time of restoration" in A.D. 70.
That is when the old things (the Mosaic "shadow," the "reminders of sin") were finally abolished and fulfilled in the heavenly Antitype. That is when all the saints, Jew and gentile, living and dead, were finally redeemed from the curse of the Law of Moses and were raised up together and united in the one, universal Body of Israel's Messiah.
Every "jot and tittle" of the Mosaic Law remained imposed upon Jewish believers until "heaven and earth" (the old-covenant world) passed away in A.D. 70. Gentile Christians however were never called to partake of the body of the Mosaic ordinances, because gentile believers were becoming sharers in Israel's promised spiritual things, not in Israel's decaying system of "shadow." (Rom. 15:27; Col. 2:16,17)
QUESTION 106: In Question 105, you mention that gentile Christians were "never called to partake of the body of the Mosaic ordinances, because gentile believers were becoming sharers in Israel's promised spiritual things, not in Israel's decaying system of "shadow." But if water-baptism was an old-covenant ritual that symbolized a greater spiritual reality to come (Matt. 3:11), then why were gentile Christians commanded to be baptized?
ANSWER: Christian water-baptism was not an old-covenant ritual. It was an eschato-Christological ritual that heralded the impending fulfillment of the prophets. Compare Isa. 32:15; 44:3; 45:8; 52:15; Eze.36:25; 39:29; Zech. 12:10 with Jn. 1:25. As with the eschatological gift of tongues, one of the primary purposes of Christian water-baptism was to manifest the Son of God to unbelieving Israel in the Last Days (Jn. 1:31; I Cor. 14:22).
Christian water-baptism was a sign that was in process of fulfillment, and it was fulfilled by the Advent of that which it signified: The clothing of the Church with the perfected, anointed Most Holy Place (Christ Himself) from out of Heaven (Dan. 9:24; I Cor. 15:53,54; II Cor. 5:2,4).
Although Christian ritual-baptism was not one of the Levitical sprinklings and pourings (baptisms) of the old covenant, it was nevertheless, like the Levitical baptisms, an outward "purifying of the flesh" that God "imposed" until the "time of making things right" came in A.D. 70. (Jn. 3:25,26; I Peter 3:21; Heb. 9:10,13) The eschatological rite remained imposed while the Kingdom of God emerged from out of its natural body (the Adamic world of types and signs), until the body was finally "changed" through the indwelling of the Spirit of the Father in A.D. 70. (Rom. 8:11; I Cor. 15:51,52; Heb. 1:12)
"Behold, I am making all things new." (Rev. 21:5; I Cor. 15:51)
QUESTION 107: In Rom. 8:11, Paul said that God was going to give life to the “mortal bodies” of believers. How exactly was this fulfilled at a first-century Parousia of Christ? If the "mortal bodies" of those pre-parousia saints were cast off and remain in the dust to this day, how could their “mortal bodies” have been made alive?
“And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through the indwelling of His Spirit in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." (Rom. 8:10-13)
The word “body” / “bodies” in Rom. 6:6,12; 7:24; 8:10,11,13,23 (and in parallel Scriptures) does not mean “the physical part of man.” The "body" does not refer to a part of man. The "body" is man. It is "man" himself (Rom. 6:11,13,16) in the context of his covenant-world. Whether the word is used in reference to a collective humanity or to individuals, the "body" is man as he is defined by and wholly summed up in Adamic Sin or in Christological Righteousness.
The constituent parts of man in Adam (i.e., the "members" of the Adamic body) were the sinful practices committed under the condemnation of God's commandments:
"Therefore put to death your members on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry" (Col. 3:5).
"...If you through the Spirit put to death the practices of the body, you shall live." (Rom. 8:13
Whereas the "members" of man in Christ (i.e., the "members" of "the new man," the Christological body) are the Spirit-empowered practices of those who are no longer under the condemnation of God. The two contrasting bodily states in Rom. 6-8 therefore depend on neither physicality nor non-physicality. They depend only on one's relation to Adam or to Christ. They depend on whether one is in Adam (i.e., of the old world, under the law and dead in Sin) or in Christ (of the new world, under grace and indwelt by the life-giving Spirit). Whether biologically alive or not, all the elect before Christ were the very embodiment, fullness and habitation of Sin. But now in Christ, through faith in His shed blood, all of His saints in heaven and on earth are together the embodiment, fullness and habitation of God Himself.
As a comparison of Col. 2:11 and Col. 3:9 confirms, the “body” of Sin was the “old man” (Rom. 6:6; 7:24):
"...the putting off of the body of the sins...." (Col. 2:11)
"...having put off the old man with his practices." (Col. 3:9; cf. Eph. 4:22)
Compare also Rom. 6:6 and Rom. 8:10:
"...Our old man is crucified with Him..." (Rom. 6:6)
"If Christ be in you, the body is dead..." (Rom. 8:10)
The "body" of Sin was pre-Christ humanity. It was man as the whole organization of Sin and Death. It was man in slavery and bondage under the reign of Sin and Death (Rom. 6:1,2,7,9,13,14,17,19,20-23; 7:6,9-11,13,14,23; 8:2,6,10,15,21). It was unredeemed man alienated from God, under the condemnation and obligation of the letter of the law (Rom. 6:14; 7:4,6; 8:4,7,12,23). It was man in futility and fruitlessness, under the control of Sin, unable to avoid the condemnation of God's law (Rom. 7:4,5,15,18,19,21,23; 8:7-9,13,20). It was man living in spiritual "weakness," "dishonor," “corruption” and "mortality" under the sin-increasing power of Sin through the law (Rom. 5:20; 7:8,13). It was "natural" / "fleshly" man indwelt by Sin instead of by the Spirit of God (Rom. 7:5,14,17,18,20,23,25; 8:3-5,9,12,13).
In the Last Days of the Adamic ages, the Holy Spirit made His dwelling in believers through the righteousness of Christ; and through that indwelling, their body of Sin and Death (their old world-identity, they're Adamic "man" or self) died (Rom. 8:9). Through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, believers were buried bodily with Christ into His death (Rom. 6:3-5). They died bodily with Christ to the old world of Sin (Rom. 6:2,7,8,11). Their “old man,” the “body of sin” --the whole Adamic cosmos-- was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 6:14). Insofar as believers were being conformed to Christ's death through the eschatological, covenant-changing work of the Holy Spirit, their old, Adamic selves were dead and their life was hid with the soon-to-be-revealed Savior of the world (Rom. 6:11,13; Phil. 3:10; Col. 3:3).
Believers "worked out" their death with Christ in the last days of the Adamic ages by daily putting to death their old "man," that is, by daily "mortifying" the practices, or members, of their "earthly [Adamic] body" or humanity. The goal of their dying was that the "body of Sin" would be abolished in Christ and that Sin and Death would no longer reign through Adam (Rom. 6:12; 8:13; Col. 3:5).
Thus, it was through the same indwelling of the Holy Spirit that their mortal bodies were consummately changed and made alive on the Last Day. As Paul said later in his epistle to the Romans, believers were putting off the works of darkness (putting to death the deeds / members of the body) and were putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. Each individual believer was putting off the body of Sin and Death and was putting on the body of Christ (i.e., the new Christological Humanity which would be the eternal embodiment and habitation of the Righteousness and Life of Christ) (Rom. 13:12-14).
The world-changing / man-changing / body-changing work of the indwelling Holy Spirit was consummated in the Parousia of Christ, when God swept away the Adamic, pre-Christ world of Sin, Death, condemnation, slavery and futility; when God threw down the earthly, mortal, man-made tent / house / body (the old-covenant world) and clothed His Spirit-sanctified, universal Church with the eternal Tabernacle / House / Body of God from out of Heaven in A.D. 70 (I Cor. 5:1-4).
That is when all the saints, living and dead, were redeemed. That is when their Adamic "body" / "man" was made new, was conformed to the image of the Son of God (sonship), and was made the eternal Temple of the Triune God (Rom. 8:23,29; I Cor. 15:49; II Cor. 3:18; Gal. 4:5). That is when their “mortal bodies” (their old, sinful selves in Adam) were abolished, resurrected, transformed / changed and clothed with eternal life (Rom. 6:6; 8:11; I Cor. 15:22; Phil. 3:21).
QUESTION 108: We cannot find even one full preterist anywhere in history until the 19th century. If the historic Church is "the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth," how could the Church have totally missed the greatest events in all redemptive history: The Second Coming and the Resurrection of the Dead? If the Church was so radically blind and deaf and steeped in error that it could not see and teach the fulfillment of those cardinal doctrines for about 1,800 years, then the historic Church was the Pillar and Foundation of a LIE. Therefore, as orthodox Christians, we must conclude that preterism, and not the historic Church, is the damnable Lie. If you preterists claim to be Christians, how do you get around this devastating logic?
ANSWER: I agree that it is impossible that the historic Church has been preaching a damnable Lie. However, as every believer agrees, it is possible for the Church to be caught in an eschatological error and to remain at the same time “the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth.” It is therefore not impossible that the historic Church was caught in an eschatological error for 1,800 years and at the same time remained “the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth.”
Eschatological error does not necessarily imply radical, Gospel-overthrowing blindness, deafness and heresy. Even a major eschatological error is not necessarily a Gospel-nullifying Lie. For instance, premillennialism contradicts the orthodox eschatology of the Apostles’ Creed itself. The Creed states that when Christ comes back, He will “judge the quick and the dead.” Yet premillennialists maintain that when Christ comes back He will not judge the quick and the dead, but will instead set up his earthly kingdom for a thousand years. Premillennialists are thus diametrically opposed to a cardinal element of traditional, creedal, eschatological orthodoxy.
But who among those who believe the eschatology of the Apostles' Creed would say that all premillennialists must be excommunicated from the universal Church? Or who among premillennial believers would say that all who believe the eschatology of the Apostles' Creed must be excommunicated from the universal Church?
If we agree then that a significant or major eschatological error is not necessarily a damnable error and that believers can be steeped in eschatological error and still be saved, we must also agree that the traditional, creedal, historic Church could have been caught in a major eschatological error (futurism) and at the same time remained “the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth.”
Usually the ecclesiastical implication of preterism –that the historic Church missed the fact that all things have been fully fulfilled– seems outlandish because many people unwittingly approach preterism using futurist categories. It would indeed be unbelievable that the Church missed a literal “thousand years,” and a literal return of Jesus-in-the-flesh, and a literal “rapture,” and a literal “resurrection of the dead,” and a literal destruction of the universe, and a literal “new heavens and new earth.” Thinking in those futurist terms, the suggestion that all the Scriptures that predicted those events were fulfilled without the Church knowing that those Scriptures were fulfilled is preposterous.
This is why we must think in terms of the preterist paradigm if we are to judge preterism righteously. From the preterist perspective it is not unbelievable that the historic Church had an exegetical misunderstanding about the fulfillment of all things written if the events were fulfilled spiritually according to the preterist interpretation. And from the preterist perspective, the Church’s failure to recognize that many prophetic passages are fulfilled does not imply that the Church “missed” the fulfillment of those passages. It only implies that the Church failed to connect all the right Bible verses to the Christological fulfillment that the Church truly and knowingly sees and embraces.
Despite futurist errors regarding various prophecy-texts, the Church has actually been teaching (full) preterism for nearly two thousand years now. For instance, according to preterism the Parousia was the Coming of Christ Himself to destroy the enemies in His sinful (old-covenant) Kingdom and to indwell His saints. Many or most of the Church Fathers believed that the indwelling of Christ Himself in His Church (in consummation of the work of the Holy Spirit) was already fully fulfilled in history. For example, Mathete’s Epistle to Diognetus, chapter 7 (written about sixty years after the fall of Jerusalem):
...Truly God Himself, Who is almighty, the Creator of all things, and invisible, has sent from Heaven, and placed among men, Him who is the Truth, the holy and incomprehensible Word, and has firmly established Him in their hearts.
The early Church, from the preterist perspective, did not “totally miss” the Parousia. The Church consciously recognized the coming of Christ Himself to indwell His people, and that indwelling, in the preterist framework, is itself the full fulfillment of "the Hope of Israel."
In Ignatius’ Epistle to the Ephesians (written about fifty years after the fall of Jerusalem), in chapter 19, he said that the destruction of Death took place from the time of the Incarnation to the destruction of "the old kingdom." Ignatius and other Church Fathers likewise connected the abolition of Judaism with the gathering of the elect.
From the preterist point of view, it is not a stretch to say that many or most of the Church Fathers perceived the Parousia-Presence of Christ (“Christ in you”) and perceived the destruction of Death and the establishment of the Kingdom in the destruction of Jerusalem ("the old kingdom"). They understood those preterist realities. They recognized them. They described them. They had a preterist understanding of their timing, nature and benefits. They praised God for them. They in no way failed to see them. Their only error was that they failed to connect what they knew and saw and embraced to all the right Bible texts.
The failure of the Church Fathers to connect all the right Bible verses to what they saw and embraced, is a long, long way from the Church Fathers “totally missing” what they saw and embraced.
In order to “totally miss” the fulfillment of all things written, one would have to deny the abolition of Judaism, and deny the gathering of the universal elect in the Christian age, and deny the establishment and presence of "Christ in you," and deny the establishment and presence of the Kingdom of God, and deny the presence of the Church as the established New-Covenant Temple of God, and deny the presence of all the saints, living and dead, as being one body or “communion” in Christ. Those realities are the sum total of (full) preterism. Therefore, if you believe in all those things (and many futurists do), you are a preterist, even if you are an exegetical futurist.
The Church Fathers did not “totally miss” the fulfillment of all things written. They exegetically mis-categorized it. They merely appended an extra-biblical scheme of future events onto their biblically sound, soteriological (full) preterism. The only thing the post-70 Church “totally missed” was the fact that it did not miss the fulfillment of all things written.
So from the standpoint of the preterist interpretation, the eschatological error of the historic Church was not a radical or fatal error. And since it is historically possible that the Church could have been steeped in a non-fatal eschatological error, the historical possibility remains open that preterism is true and that it represents a God-ordained correction of the historic Church’s understanding of certain eschatological texts.
QUESTION 109: I have a question about your article on tongues. I cannot argue with anything in the article as far as fulfillment. However, why would there not be churches today that prophesy and speak in tongues en masse, of course "in order"? As you said, there is a possibility God would have someone do it today. He is God. He can do as he pleases. Why would He not have it en masse for the same reason today as in the 1st century A.D., for the unbelievers?
ANSWER: If churches speak in tongues en masse today, then tongues did not "cease" (I Cor. 13:8,10,11). Then "that which is perfect" (i.e., the perfect Man, the Mature Body of Christ, the completed Temple of God, the more perfect Tabernacle, the House from out of Heaven) never arrived through the consummated work of the Holy Spirit at the Parousia in A.D. 70 (II Cor. 5:1,2,6; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 2:21,22; 4:11-13; Col. 1:27; Heb. 9:8,9,11; I Peter 2:25). Then prophecy was never "abolished" and "sealed up" (I Cor. 13:8,10,11; Dan. 9:24,27). Then the prophets were never removed (Zech. 13:1-6). Then the old covenant never passed away and God's people have never yet worshiped Him face to Face (I Cor. 13:12; II Cor. 3:6-18). In other words, if churches speak in tongues en masse today, we are lost.
When I admitted the possibility that God could cause someone to miraculously speak in a foreign language today, I was speaking in terms of theoretical possibility. Does the cessation of tongues allow for the possibility of isolated occurences of tongues throughout the centuries? I don't know. What we know for certain though is that tongues ceased. God can do what He pleases, but He cannot please to contradict Himself. Therefore, the phenomenon of tongues no longer exists as it did up to A.D. 70, because God said it would "cease."
Tongues was not a "sign" of spiritual power in general. It was a sign to the Jews ("those not believing") that signified that an army which spoke a foreign tongue (like the Assyrians in the book of Isaiah) was storming the gates of the kingdom and that fleshly Israel's destruction and disinheritance was impending (I Cor. 14:21,22a; Isa. 28:11,12).
QUESTION 110: What does Matthew 11:12 mean? Who were "the violent" ones who were causing the kingdom of heaven to suffer "violence" since the days of John the baptist?
“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence , and the violent take it by force."
"The violent" ones in Matt. 11:12 were believers ("every man" in Lk. 16:16). Those who believed the Gospel of the Kingdom were "forcing their way into" and "seizing" the Kingdom of Heaven. The "violence" was not bloodshed or persecution. It was the storming of believers into the Kingdom against the will of the scribes and Pharisees, who had shut its door and had taken away its key (Matt. 23:13; Lk. 11:52).
QUESTION 111: How does the doctrine of perseverance change, if at all, with a realized point of view? So much of the exhortation of the epistles addressed the perseverance of the saints (through times of tribulation and suffering), emphasizing the work of God to bring them to a successful "conclusion." Is post AD70 salvation/perseverance organically different in some way(s)? I am also thinking specifically of Paul's "filling up that which is behind of the sufferings of Jesus Christ." Do we still do that?
The last-days church was living in a unique time and undergoing a unique experience. It was being built up to become the Temple of God (Eph. 2:21,22). It was suffering the eschatological attacks of Satan, who was working in a furious panic to keep the building of that Temple from being completed (Rev. 12:12). The Holy Spirit sovereignly led and "preserved" the elect through that once-for-all time of intense, age-changing suffering. Because of the Spirit's work in that generation, the Accuser is today in the Lake of Fire and the universal Church of the redeemed is the eternal Habitation and City and Kingdom of the triune God.
Unlike the church in the New Testament, we're not being carried through a time of universal Body-suffering and Body-death for the purpose of overcoming the pre-Christ world and establishing the New-Covenant world. The Church is no longer putting to death the Adamic body in order to become the resurrected Body of Christ. That Spirit-empowered work was consummated in the resurrection and change of "the Body" in A.D. 70.
Believers still suffer, and stumble in sin, and battle temptations, and forsake sin, and learn obedience, and grow in the faith, and endure to the end of their earthly lives through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God; but the Body of Christ is no longer undergoing the eschatological, covenant-changing process of cosmic suffering and "dying with Christ" and "dying to Sin" and "dying to the world" and being "buried with Christ."
Though those doctrines have individual applications for us today, their primary world-changing meaning was applicable only to the eschatological church. Believers today are not putting to death the dead-in-Sin, unredeemed world of God's people. Believers today are covenantally defined, not by suffering and death, but by "newness of life," because the Adamic/Mosaic world-body of the Law, Sin and Death was long ago swept away through the consummated, world-mortifying work of the indwelling Holy Spirit, at the Parousia of the Father and the Son in A.D. 70.
The doctrine of the "perseverance of the saints" is not changed, but it is established in the New-Covenant world, because it is only in the Messianic world that those who were chosen of the Father are finally granted eternal (uninterruptible) life and righteousness. The New-Covenant world is defined by the Holy Spirit sovereignly transforming the hearts and minds of the elect, by the Son sovereignly forgiving the elect of their sins, and by the Father sovereignly uniting His elect in one universal Body. Life for Israel under the New Covenant is the sovereign work of God, from beginning to forever:
"This is the [New] Covenant: ...I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And I will remember their sins no more" (Heb. 8:10-12).
QUESTION 112: In Matt. 16:18,19, Jesus promised Peter that he (Peter) would be the "rock" upon which Jesus would build His church. Jesus then gave Peter "the keys of the kingdom of heaven." In Isa. 22:22, when God gave Eliakim "the key of the house of David," that meant that Eliakim had been uniquely placed into a dynasty as "prime minister" under the king. Since Eliakim had successors, this must mean that Peter was the first in a line of successors who are "prime minister" under the King. As history makes clear, the unbroken line of successors of Peter's bishopric in Rome have been the Popes. Thus the Pope, sitting in the inherited seat of Peter as the "rock," always rules as head of the one, holy Catholic Church. How do you answer these arguments?
Before the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost, the scribes and the Pharisees had been in possession of the "key." But they refused to open the door so that men could enter the kingdom (Matt. 23:13; Lk. 11:52). On the day of Pentecost, Peter became the first, though not the only, believer to receive "the keys" and open the door of the kingdom of heaven through the preaching of the knowledge of Christ (Acts 2:14-41).
The "key" of the kingdom is the gospel, and everyone who walks according to the gospel possesses the "key" of the kingdom (I Peter 1:10,11). At Pentecost, Peter commenced the apostolic work of dispensing "the keys" to all who believed. (Note the plural "keys," in contrast to Eliakim's "key.") It was through the foundational ministry of Peter and then of the other apostles and of the Christian prophets that Christ built up His church in the last days (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 2:20).
As the first, but not the only, "rock" of the church's establishment (Rev. 21:14), Peter's office/position was foundational, not multi-generational. He was the first of many "foundation stones" in his generation; he was not a universal head. He was "the apostle to the circumcision," not the apostle to the universal church (Gal. 2:7). Peter was the first to preach the gospel to the Jewish church, and he nurtured, fed and led that foundational assembly according to Christ's commission to him in Jn. 21:15-17.
Through Peter's ministry in those formative decades, the Jewish church endured in the faith of the gospel until an "entrance" (i.e., an unlocked and open door) into the kingdom was supplied to her, when she conquered Death and Hades and inherited eternal life in the consummation of the ages (Matt. 16:18; I Cor. 15:55; II Peter 1:10,11; Rev. 20:13,14).
Eliakim's worldly authority in Isa. 22:22 was merely a type of the spiritual gospel-authority that was given first to the apostle Peter, and then to the whole "royal priesthood" of believers (I Peter 2:9; Rev. 5:10; 20:6; 22:5).
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