Shane’s recent post about millennial views got me thinking again.  Here I am with so many theological thoughts, and still not stand on eschatology.

When I was thirteen, I had my first introduction to eschatology.  Our youth pastor did a whole series.  I learned about the rapture, the tribulation and so on.  We even watched the old 70’s movie, A Thief in the Night.  I had all of the scripture references, even underlined in my Bible.  But it was about that same time, that I realized that there were differing views, and that maybe not everything that I had been taught in Church could be proven with scripture.

It was at summer camp that same year, and years to follow that there were more series on eschatology.  I would annoy the teacher with my questions.  "So where is that in scripture?"  That seemed to be the question asked the most.  "Is that what it really says, because I am just not seeing it?"  And the teacher would respond "Yes, that is what it says."  After a while, I just left it alone.  For years in fact.

And then I became a Calvinist, and ultimately reformed altogether.  At some point I studied eschatology again.  Of course only to find out that what I had been taught previously was not held to by Reformed Theologians.  Of course not all reformed people agreed on eschatological views.  I met the Premillennialists and the Amillennialists.  Having respect for Kim Riddlebarger, I obtained his series on amillennialism, and maybe even called myself an amillennialist for a few days.  But I really wasn’t totally convinced.

I came into contact with some partial preterists.  I pretty much wrote them off as they tended to have other crazy views.  Sometimes they were theonomists, or tended towards extremism.

And then I met Dr. Kelly Birks.  He attended our Church for a while.  I knew he was a full preterist, but I really didn’t think a lot about it.  That is until we developed a relationship with him.  I respected much of what he taught, and at some point decided to listen to his 2nd Coming Series series.  Of course I did so amongst the eye rolling of many friends.  In fact some people treated me as if I was considering joining a cult, light interventions and all.

I have found that most people have views on preterism, and yet they have not studied it.  I am not a preterist at this point, but what I can tell you is that after listening to the 2nd coming series, I do understand why some hold to it.  It does need to be pointed out that there are differing views even within preterist camps.  There are many respected theologians with preterist leanings, like R.C. Sproul and Hank Hanegraaff.  In fact when I wrote to one of the smartest theologians I know, he even expressed that he was himself leaning towards a partial preterist view after studying the subject.  He said that he had looked into Josephus’ writings of events during A.D. 70 and was surprised to read accounts of chariots in the sky and other events that seemed to support preterist views.

All of this to say, that eschatology is not an easy subject.  As with anything, it is important that we go back to scripture, and be careful to not to quickly take a stand on something just because others we know and respect do.  And most importantly, let not even this study be a distraction to what is really important, the clarity and preaching of the gospel, and living now to the glory of God.

11 comments
  1. Hi Coleen,

    I suppose what concerns me about full preterism is how such a position would require either a dismissal or idiosyncratic reading of the last article of both the Apostle's and Nicene Creeds, (We believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come) whereas partial preterism, amil, pre-mil, & post-mil all engage the Scriptures from within a common confessional stance that is virtually as large as historic Christendom itself.

    Presently, I find myself leaning in a partial preterist/post-mil direction. But I too find these boundaries and definitions pretty fuzzy at times. Although I'm not a theonomist and while I wouldn't consider myself extreme, I have been known to take dessert first at our church potlucks on occasion. 🙂

    Peace,

  2. Thanks for your comments. Please know that I was wrong to think that it was just theonomists and extremists that tended toward the view. While I think it can attract those sorts of people, I have actually been very surprised to find how many theologians that I respect who actually lean that way.

    And if you prefer to enjoy dessert first at a Lord's Day meal, then why not partake?

  3. You are, of course, correct to note that many within the scope of Christian Reconstructionism identify with preterism to some degree or another. The larger problem with that group in my opinion is the problem of triumphalism. Progress in history for the church, like progress in our individual lives, is alway cruciform.

    NT Wright's works on the gospels (which are superior to his work on Paul, INHO), offer a lot of insights that would mesh with partial-preterist concerns.

  4. Maybe it is because of NT Wirght's current stuff, but I tend to run as fast as I can. I know some of his earlier stuff was better than the current. But still. . .

    You get into some of this deeper theological stuff, and we run into all sorts of problems. In the circles that I run in, especially in view of the reconstructionists, I see a tendency towards things like extremism, and even a lack of basic Christian charity. Even some sort of weird balance between theonomy and antinomianism, (oxymoronic I know). Enough to make anyone want to run from preterism, theonomy and in some cases Reformed Theology altogether. If only we were not grouped in the same camp as all of these (even those hypercalvinists.)

    And if I have listed you in any of these groups, I apologize. I don't think so though.

  5. I suppose it all goes back to the fact that you can't pick your relatives. 🙂

    Know as well that I didn't take any offence at your earlier comments. It just gave me an opportunity to say something.

  6. Too many people hear of a position and study against it instead of what people say are their scriptural arguments for it.

  7. With his statement, “full preterism is how such a position would require either a dismissal or idiosyncratic reading of the last article of both the Apostle's and Nicene Creeds, (We believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come).”

    Not saying that is you specifically, but it can be a problem… (remember my comment regarding the Emergent Church, this is an issue with a number of them).

  8. And just to clarify, I don't have a position at this point. But I welcome any info. In fact, I would love to hear what swayed you. I have a lot of amil friends.

    My main point is that Kelly actually does a good job of explaining his position, especially using the original text. It has been a while since I listened to it, but for instance, Christ's proclaiming that He would come back soon, and some of the original text translation meaning within their generation. I do not know what to do with that if you are not a preterist.

    And let it be known that I was shocked to find out how many respected theologians hold to all or part of this view.

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