Heretical, Full-Preterist View
The Testimony of Jesus, Chapter 15
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Even so. Amen. Revelation 1:7
In Chapters 11, we examined briefly the most recent and most popular of eschatological views, dispensational pre-millennialism. While the dispy-premil system holds a high view of Scriptural authority by its attempts at “literal” interpretations, an extreme view of distinct and separate functions, fulfillments, and futures for Israel and the New Testament church seems to diminish the gospel and Christ’s redemptive work. Keep in mind that this view has its strengths among its many weaknesses and difficulties.
In Chapter 12, we briefly examined the strengths and weaknesses of post-millennialism. This view posits a strong emphasis on Christ’s gospel, expressing its power to not only change lives, but also its power to change societies and nations. Its proponents, however, still have difficulties in sufficiently answering several questions consistent with the truth of Christ’s suffering church, characterized by the promises of the Lord Jesus whereas believers will be hated by the world (John 15:18), suffer tribulation in the world (John 16:33), and receive persecution from the world (2 Tim 3:12).
We also briefly examined the strengths and weaknesses of amillennialism in Chapter 13. This view presents an extremely exalted view of Christ’s atoning work, as well as an elegant and elevated view of Christ’s glorious church. The view is not without its difficulties, however; unable to sufficiently reconcile passages of Scripture which seem to hint at a reign of Christ upon earth whereas the “wolf shall dwell with the lamb” (Isa 11:6), “the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Isa 11:7), and “the young man shall die a hundred years old” (Isa 65:20), among other like-difficulties.
Finally, in Chapter 14, we briefly examined the strengths and weaknesses of the oldest of the four end times scenarios, the historical pre-millennial view. While the historical pre-mil view takes a high view of Scripture and promotes patience, growing endurance, and strength of faith, its proponents have not sufficiently addressed its difficulties, namely explaining who will populate the kingdom in its golden age after Christ’s return and how Gog and Magog will rise at the end of Christ’s earthly reign (Rev 20:7-9).
Today we take a brief look at the full preterist view of Revelation.
Preterism is a Christian eschatological view or belief that interprets some (partial preterism) or all (full preterism) prophecies of the Bible as events which have already been fulfilled in history. [online source]
This statement can only be partially true; that is, as it pertains to partial preterism. The amillennial eschatology (study of the end times or last things) interprets some of the prophecies as having been already fulfilled in history. Therefore, the partial preterist interpretation of biblical prophecies in general, and from the book of Revelation in particular, would be a legitimate “Christian eschatological view.”
Full preterism, a belief that all the prophecies of the Bible have already been fulfilled, as a “Christian eschatological view,” would be ironically contradictory because it is neither Christian nor eschatological. It is not Christian because it contradicts many of the statements of Christ and His apostles which look for a hope that is yet future. It is not eschatological because the word “preterism,” comes from the Latin, praeter, which is a prefix denoting something is “past” or “beyond.” Therefore, full preterism cannot have anything to do with eschatology, the study of “last things,” when it is a faith squarely rooted upon the fulfillment of “past things.”
The full preterist view had its origins in the Counter-Reformation efforts of the Roman Catholic Church. Since many Protestant Reformers viewed the pope in Rome as antichrist (if not the antichrist altogether), a Jesuit theologian from Spain, Luis del Alcázar (1554-1613), proposed that, except for the last three chapters, everything in Revelation had already taken place before John had written the book during his banishment on the Isle of Patmos. Luis del Alcázar’s book, Vestigatio Arcani Sensus in Apocalypsi, was published posthumously in 1614.
The first notable acceptance of full preterism among Protestants was a Dutch lawyer, theologian, and humanist named Huig de Groot (1583-1645); also known by his Latin name, Hugo Grotius. He entered Leiden University at age 11. Heavily influenced by Arminian theology in its early stages of development, Grotius enthusiastically sought to bridge Protestantism and Roman Catholicism through a preterist interpretation of Scripture. His 1640 treatise, “Commentary on Certain Texts Which Deal with Antichrist,” was his first attempt at reconciling Protestants with Roman Catholics, arguing that the fulfillment of Antichrist occurred in the first century of church history. His “Commentaries on the New Testament,” published between 1641 and 1650, further developed his full preterist interpretations upon both Christ’s teaching on the Mount of Olives (Matt 24:3-25:46) and the entire book of Revelation.
Other historical adherents to full preterism: Thomas Hayne (1582-1645); Joseph Hall (1574-1656); Henry Hammond (1605-60); and the heretical Frenchman who promoted an Arianist view of Christ, Firmin Abauzit (1679-1767).
PROBLEMS FROM SCRIPTURE
Full preterism is not considered orthodox by any means. In this post-modern era, however, full preterism is becoming more popular among liberal, post-modern theologies, viz., the Emergent Church.
While several passages of Scripture can be used to refute the heretical view of full preterism, one portion of Scripture stands out above all others:
v1Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to Him, we ask you, brothers, v2not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. v3Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, v4who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. v5Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, emphasis added
From this passage, “the man of lawlessness” or “son of destruction” are just two other names for the antichrist or false messiah. If the desire of most full preterists is to establish some sort of unity or common ground between Protestants and Roman Catholics by interpreting away the Roman Catholic pope as the Antichrist to come, then he must be “revealed” (2 Thess 2:3) by his blasphemous deeds (2 Thess 2:4). Moreover, from the third verse, that Day of the Lord Jesus Christ’s return will not come until Antichrist is revealed.
A common misunderstanding of the word antichrist, the Greek ἀντίχριστος (an-TEE-xris-tos), is that it means “against Christ.” While the Antichrist to come, as well as the many antichrists which have existed, and do and will exist until Jesus returns (1 Jn 2:18-22), does oppose Christ (2 Thess 2:4), the meaning of the original Greek word means a thing or person who is “in the place of” or “in the room of” or “instead of” Christ. The antichrist or false messiah will be one who is a deceptive imitation and false counterpart of Christ.
Moreover, the full preterist view was an unnecessary defense of the pope as the future Antichrist to come. Jesus said,
“I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.” John 5:43
One of the Latin titles for the pope in Rome is Vicarius Christi, meaning “in place of Christ.” While Roman Catholic popes are like the many antichrists in the world that John speaks of (1 Jn 2:18), the pope could not possibly be the future Antichrist to come. Interestingly, this past year I have been asked more than a few times of my opinion concerning certain persons of current political note, who might be the viable candidates for the Antichrist to come― Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Hillary Clinton. Here’s my opinion on the matter (which has been my opinion for about the past 30 years or so, though rarely expressed it out loud) …the future Antichrist and false messiah to come must be a Jew; or at least he must deceptively suggest to the leaders of the nation of Israel that he is of Jewish descent. When the entire world stands against Israel, while the leadership of the Jewish state will give an approving nod to anyone who will broker peace, they will only proclaim one “peacemaker” as messiah― and he must be a Jew in their minds for that to happen. Yet that Jew will come in the power and might of his own name, not the heavenly Father’s.
PARSING THE BOOK
In the next chapter, we will parse the entire book of Revelation so we can have a roadmap of sorts to understand its majestic and mysterious imagery.
May the Lord Jesus continue to bless and keep you.
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 The Latin title, Vestigatio Arcani Sensus in Apocalypsi, means “A Trace of the Mysterious Meaning in the Apocalypse.”