Todd Dennis: Preterist Idealism Explained

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“Preterist Israel” — aka “Israel after the flesh” — found its beginning and end in the process of time.  “Idealist Israel” — aka “the Israel of God” — is that eternal nation in Jesus Christ for which the temporal nation only served as an objective representative


Preterist Idealism Explained: The Advancement of Seeing AD70 as Symbol, not Substance

By Todd Dennis
2017


INTRODUCTION TO IDEALISM

In addressing the theological superiority of the idealist view attention must be paid to the millennia of work that has gone into developing this method of interpretation.  Speaking of the prominence of the view in Christian history, author Glenn Kreider noted,

“This view dominated the history of interpretation from Augustine through the Reformation.” (Jonathan Edwards’s interpretation of Revelation 4:1-8:1)

In addition to its development alongside traditional Christianity, the Idealist method of interpretation has had a long association with the concept of fulfilled prophecy.   Most often, fulfillment of prophecy in the ministry of Jesus Christ is used to teach moral lessons applicable to the entire church age.   Examples can be traced back to St. Augustine, Origen, Justin Martyr, and to the author of Hebrews — not to mention John in his Apocalypse.  

Starting in the Reformation Era, the fall of Jerusalem in AD70 began to receive similar attention as an objective show of God’s eternal power. The works of Anabaptists like Bunyan, the Spiritualists, and the Quaker denomination all addressed many like ideas. Recent scholarship has developed these themes to an even greater extent.

Charles Homer Giblin (1929-2002) expresses the theological employment of idealist concepts as they relate to the end of the Jewish State well:

 “The fate of Jerusalem is brought about by two major facts. First, the people are insensitive to the terms for peace…  Second, the rulers of the people (the Romans not excepted, but not considered as primarily responsible) have committed injustice and thus bring about the ruin of the people. The fate of Jerusalem, however, is not ultimately weighed as an event in itself – it is a sign for others, and is expressly related to time for judgment of nations. All this proves to be relevant, parabolically, to Luke’s readership, a man of affluence and influence, educated, who is expected to perceive in “a history” what should be done and what should be avoided, to discern models of good and of evil, with their consequences for society as he knows it. In effect, Luke’s lesson apropos of his account of Jerusalem’s destruction is to be construed as a question prompted in the typed reader’s mind: If this is what happened to Jerusalem because of the way Jesus and those who represent him, his disciples, were treated, what will happen to my city/nation/society if he (and his followers, who stand for him) are treated similarly? What am I, as a respected man with some influence, expected to do?” (The Destruction of Jerusalem According to Luke’s Gospel: A Historical-Typological Moral, Biblical Institute Press, 1985, viii )

The basic ideas behind the need for a method of interpretation that seeks to explain spiritual ideas has long been associated with preterism (many, most, or all prophecies of the Bible fulfilled by AD70) but never, to my knowledge, has a system been offered with the view that all of Israel’s national eschatology was fulfilled by the end of the Jewish State.  

Preterist Idealism, first released on PreteristArchive.com in 2006, uses elements of preterism to modify an overall idealist system.   This is why it is labeled Preterist Idealism.  Those views which seek to apply idealist element to modify an overall preterist system are to be labeled properly as Idealist Preterism.

Though idealism can be traced back to before the Christian era, the first systematic theological applications of the method arose surrounding questions regarding the fall of Jerusalem.  Some considerations were offered during the approach of the event, such as in the case of the Book of Hebrews, but it wasn’t until the old Mosaic system finally vanished that it became a worldwide phenomenon.

As Jews and Christians struggled to explain the end of the ancient Jewish religious system, writers turned their attention to the other-worldly nature of the Kingdom of God.  For Jews, this resulted in the synagogue approach developed at Jamnia.  For Christians, explanations were found in the sayings of Jesus regarding His kingdom being “not of this world”.

Early Christian works, such as the Odes of Solomon and those by Justin Martyr, sought to paint Israel as a picture of Jesus Christ and the Church yet still failed to offer a systematic approach to the entire Bible.   Saint Augustine (A.D. 354 – 430) is generally credited as being the “father of Christian idealism”, as he was the first to offer a systematic approach to the heavenly nature of prophecy.  Consider his highly developed idealist mode of thought, which makes the visible manifestations of history the copies of everlasting forms:

“Ideas are certain original forms of things, their archetypes, permanent and incommunicable, which are contained in the Divine intelligence. And though they neither begin to be nor cease, yet upon them are patterned the manifold things of the world that come into being and pass away. ” (De diversis quaest., Q. xlvi, in P.L., XL, 30).

This distinction between the primacy of the real over the revealed is precisely where idealism differs from preterism today.  Though certain preterists seek to explain the fall of Jerusalem as being the focal point of prophecy in itself, idealists tend to see that event in history as an expression or manifestation of permanent and incommunicable realities in Christ.  

Over the centuries, the tendency to look beyond the mere facts of history for a fuller explanation of their meaning has developed into very prominent schools of thought.   The Middle Ages, in particular, saw intense development of modes of interpretation that relied on the tools of allegory (spiritual meaning hidden behind symbolism) and tropology (symbolism stressing moral metaphor).  These methods were expressed systematically in the works of the School of Saint Victor in France, among others.

In the past centuries entire nations have been caught up in developing methods of interpretation which stressed a hybrid of preterism and idealism.  German seminaries in the 19th century devoted the most energy to this pursuit.   As a result of this two-thousand year development, idealism has been recognized as a fundamental approach to theology, philosophy, artistry, and even politics. 

DEVELOPMENT OF BIBLICAL CONSISTENCY

Today, there are a number of different theological systems which employ some degree of an idealist perspective.  Some are futurist in orientation, some are preterist in orientation, and yet there has been a lack of systems which have dispensed with either extreme of these historical perspectives.  Among modern preterists, there is a profound recognition of the events of the first century as signifying eternal realities which find like application throughout every generation.  The problem with all branches of preterism, however, is found in the assumption that these applications had a beginning in the scope of history — most often with the arrival of a supposed “age to come” in AD70.

Steve Gregg, representing one form of preterist investigation into idealism, has commented on the need to find a consistent approach.   In his book “Revelation: Four Views,” he notes the profitability of synthesizing what he calls the Spiritual/Idealist view with preterism:

“Most modern commentators, both of the evangelical wing and of the literary-critical type, have mixed some of the ideas of the spiritual approach with one of the other historically-based approaches.  This is not a difficult merger to effect, as Pieters rightly observes: [Spiritual] interpretations combine readily with those of the Preterists or of the Historicists, because any symbol, understood by them to refer to a certain force or tendency may be considered fulfilled in any event in which such a force or tendency is dominant.”

“The most common tendency is to mix the spiritual approach with the preterist and then either call their view preterism, leave their view unlabeled, or give it an original name.” (Revelation: Four Views, p. 44)

The problem with the work of all of these preterists, however, is that their resulting interpretations were ultimately bound to historical timelines.  As it turns out, the boundaries of the preterist method inherently restrict the potential outcomes.  Put another way, preterism could only go so far towards explaining immaterial things, and idealism could only go so far towards explaining material things.

Therefore, in the attempt to find most consistent and biblically accurate expression of both preterism and idealism, it became clear that an entirely new hermeneutic needed to be developed from the very foundation.  This was the system I set out to develop in 2005.

MODERN IDEALISM – AKA PRETERIST IDEALISM

The work of expressing eternal realities through historical events was not hard to accomplish.  In the end, the more difficult solution was to express historical events through eternal realities.

All it required was a proper view of Christology and the role of historical revelation as a means of manifesting Jesus Christ’s work as consummated in the eternal council of the Trinity before creation.  That others had been unable, or unwilling, to put these two pieces together in proper order is only explainable as a hesitancy to stray from existing hermeneutical prejudices.

The fundamental approach of my preterist idealism may best be encapsulated in an axiom derived from II Cor. 4:18:   That which is seen in Israel’s history is only the temporal shadow of the eternal substance found in Jesus Christ.   The historical nation of ancient Israel (which Paul called “Israel after the flesh”) was given as a manifestation of the ahistorical nation of Israel (which Paul call the “Isael of God”)– which is the Body of Christ throughout all ages.

Though amillennialism touches on much of the same thinking, that view is also limited by it inherent materialism, as it sees the temporal church as the focal point of prophecy.  As with both preterism and amillennialism, attempts to fit prophecy into a well-defined chronology fail to see the Bible from God’s perspective, rather explaining it from the vantage point of mankind.   

The temporal manifestation of the pre-existing eternal is not the substance of the kingdom in itself but is merely a time-bound shadow.   

To break down the label “preterist idealism” according to this revelation of Israel, the natural “Israel after the flesh” is seen as “Preterist Israel,” whereas the eternal “Israel of God” would be the “Idealist Israel”.  The incarnation of Jesus brought Preterist Israel face to face with Idealist Israel and those of the flesh would not have Him rule over them because of the way in which He challenged their materialism.  The modern idealist approach, therefore, serves as a bridge for uniting fundamentally opposed views, as it oversteps the dispute regarding the “when” by focusing on the “where”.   The realm of consummation is much more important than the time of consummation, yet it is precisely this timing issue that drives every major theological system’s salient points.

Being united in the eternal realm — where all prophecy finds its true substance in Jesus Christ — we find that not only is there no male nor female in Christ, but that there is also no futurist nor preterist.   By focusing on the “everlasting age” (which Jesus brought with Him, as declared with numerous statements such as “the kingdom is at hand”) as the ultimate realm of fulfillment, this view has appeal to any person who is willing to see beyond prejudices of materialistic perspectives to recognize that the true transition takes place internally and individually in Jesus Christ — and not externally and collectively in history (cf. Luke 20:35 ; II Cor. 5:17).

This approach can be a particularly appealing to those partial preterists who can clearly see the many things that full preterism has to offer, yet will not accept that “the resurrection was in AD70”, for instance.   It certainly was not in the past, but it also will not be in the future, as it relates to a chronological year of this realm.

DEMANDING BETTER ANSWERS

Preterist idealism is not just another form of preterism or amillennialism.   Rather, the view approaches the Bible from a completely opposite direction.   That is not to say that there are not a lot of beneficial aspects to materialistic views; however, they are not to be considered a final form of the study.   Instead, they are both good points of reference in our ascension towards God’s eternal point of view as revealed in the Bible.  Whereas in the past I had believed that partial preterism represented half of the biblical story of prophetic fulfillment, it is now seen that all preterism — having nailed down the historical scope of Israel’s prophecies and fulfillments, but generally neglecting that to which they pointed — is but a “half-way point” to a proper comprehension of the everlasting substance of prophetic fulfillment, which is found only in Jesus Christ, not in Israel’s history.

Accordingly, the differences between preterism and idealism are actually of a fundamental nature, resulting in a countless number of divergences from that initial point of distinction.   The key difference is where one sees the ultimate realm of prophetic consummation.  Does one see prophecy referring exclusively to natural events (with perhaps consequential spiritual application) fulfilled once-for-all in history, or in seeing Israel’s prophecies and natural events as pictures signifying the greater realities only fulfilled in Jesus Christ?  This distinction will be explored in greater depth below.

IS THE SPIRITUAL THE APPLICATION OR THE AXIS?

Though most preterist systems don’t deny that spiritual truths can be applied from the events of AD70, the idealist hybrid being presented in this article takes exactly the opposite view — that AD70 itself was the application of everlasting spiritual realities determined and consummated before creation.  Therefore, by focusing primarily on the shadows and types given to signify true prophetic fulfillment, one misses their true significance altogether.  This is not to dismiss the natural show, but rather to illuminate it, allowing the temple to stand (and fall) for that which it was always intended – a natural show of the work of Jesus Christ’s eternal kingdom.  As we learn in Sunday School, the flesh has its place, and must be kept in its subservient position to the spirit.  To glorify natural things is roundly rebuked by all Christian testimony.  AD70 and prophetic consummation should not be exempted from this rule.

The book of Hebrews reveals this relationship between the natural and the spiritual, and in every case presents the spiritual as “better” and the “true”.  The natural, however, is presented as the “figure” or “example” given to convey the nature of the true :

  • Heb 8:5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

  • Heb 9:24-24 “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself.  “

  • Heb 10:1 “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.”

Natural elements are given to assist the understanding of eternal things we can not comprehend with the natural mind.  To understand the substance of prophecy it helps to recognize the schoolmasters, which are given to teach a greater lesson.  

In this light, the Roman-Jewish War was an even more significant event than was appreciated by even the most informed Jew or Christian seeking its explanation.   It was, after all, the dramatic end of the people of God as a separate external nation, forever ending those religious and political rites which were only ever “in part” or “copies of the true”. It was also the visible show of God’s invisible hand as it had worked, and continues to work, throughout all generations.  To focus on the shadow as the substance of prophecy is to give greater glory to the type than to the substance above it.  This is also to neglect the proper glorification of the Lord to which it ministers.  To worship the creation in this manner is idolatry.

MATERIAL MANIFESTATIONS OF IMMATERIAL CONSUMMATION

Much is made in this article of the distinction between the consummation  of a reality (the point at which a subject is complete), and its manifestation (an object that clearly shows something).   The completion, note, of the object is not the completion of the subject.   In many cases, the subject becomes complete long before the object is realized.  This “subject primacy” is the case with the person and work of Jesus Christ.

This is particularly obvious in the object lesson of the kingdom of Christ.   Though some say that the kingdom began in the first century (preterists), and some say that the kingdom will begin in the future (futurists), they are both pitifully mistaken.

The kingdom that David characterized as being “from everlasting to everlasting” is the very one that some preterists declare not to have been established until AD70!  Note that the subject is “from everlasting”, regardless of when it objectively appeared.  Certainly it can be claimed that the kingdom was objectively manifested in the events of AD70, but so it also was it in the physical presence of Jesus Christ (“the kingdom of God is among you”).  

Consummation (subject) and manifestation (object) are not synonymous, despite heartfelt appeals to the contrary.   Something can long be a reality, and yet have been made manifest.  This is old covenant Israel in a nutshell.   Though “that which is in part” may serve to point to the perfect reality, its removal doesn’t equal the establishment of “that which is in full”, it simply reveals what was always there.

To put this in terms every preterist can understand: The fulfillment of Bible prophecy in AD70 doesn’t mean that AD70 becomes the subject of the prophecy.  AD70 is the only object which reveals the subject’s eternal consummation.  To state otherwise is no different than to worship the bronze snake on a stick.

THE BIBLICAL PROOF OF THE PREEXISTING SUBJECT

Moving on to a fuller explanation of the nature of the modern idealist system it becomes important to present numerous texts from the Bible.   Though some will consider the volume of citations tedious, I find them glorious.  There is such solid backing for this system that it astounds me nobody bothered to preach it.  Again, the biases of our own materialism are our own loss.  Most often, people believe in something because they haven’t thought of anything better yet.

Following is a list of verses which record Jesus and others speaking of the revelation of the subject which had been hidden since the creation of the world.  It makes no difference whether one wishes to make this world the old covenant age or the material creation.   Both premises will serve to show that what is being characterized as the consummation is really only the manifestation.

That which is by nature “hid” ; “covered” ; “veiled” ; “not seen”:

  • Mt 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

  • John 12:40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

  • 1 Cor. 2:7,10  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

  • 2Co 3:14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.

  • 2 Cor 4:4 In whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

  • 2 Cor 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

  • Ga 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

  • Eph 3:5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

  • Eph 3:9-10 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now, unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God

  • Col 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

And that which is being “revealed” ; “manifested” ; “seen”:

  • Psalm 98:2 The Lord has made known his salvation; in the presence of the nations he has revealed his righteousness.”

  • Mt 11:5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

  • Mt 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

  • Lu 17:30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

  • Ro 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

  • Ro 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

  • 1Co 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

  • Eph 3:5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

  • Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

  • Col 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

  • 2 Tim 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

  • Heb 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

  • 1Pe 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

  • 1Pe 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

This distinction between the shadow and the substance (as well as the hiding and the revealing) will serve as a springboard for many different items of consideration at PreteristIdealism.com.  


THE EVERLASTING KINGDOM OF THE ETERNAL KING

Having seen the usage of that which is “hidden” which was going to be “revealed” in a general way, we can begin to look more closely to theological issues at hand.  For starters, we can refer back to the question of the kingdom that was identified by King David as being “from everlasting” and “to everlasting”.

Though not all preterist approaches teach that the kingdom and “age to come” were established in AD70, it is taught by most.  If we recognize that the kingdom existed before creation, and had sway on Earth from the beginning, then this suggestion may begin to appear materialistic.   Passages such as 2 Cor. 5:17 show that the passing away of the old things (by Christ) was a reality prior to AD70, even if it had not yet been made manifest in the events of Israel’s history.   In other words, even though followers of Christ were the true sons of God, there was definitely an expectation for the manifestation of who indeed were the sons of God.

There are, in fact, many other passages which likewise speak of the transition as being in Christ, not in history.    A major problem with the historical viewpoint is reading once-for-all historical time into passages which refers to each individual in their time.  For instance, terms of proximity (near, at hand) coming out of the mouth of Christ are often taken to mean 40 years later, when this idea is completely foreign to the intent.  These kingdom passages are included below with those which speak of the pre-AD70 possession of realities (eternal life, raising of the dead, the end of the law) which the typical hyper preterist system teaches were not obtained until after the Jewish temple fell:

  • Luke 10:11 “Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.”

  • Luke 11:20 “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

  • Luke 19:9 “And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham”

  • John 4:23 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”

  • John 5:24-25 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. “

  • Romans 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

  • Rom 10:4  “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

  • Rom 11:7  What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it.

  • 2 Cor 1:9    But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us

  • 2Co 1:21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;

  • 2 Cor 5:17  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

  • 2 Cor 5:18  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation

  • 2 Cor 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

  • Ga 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us”

  • Ga 5:1  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

  • Eph 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

  • Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

  • Eph 1:22  And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

  • Eph 2:1  And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

  • Eph 2:5   Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)

  • Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

  • Eph 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

  • Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

  • Col 2:13   And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses

  • 2 Tim 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace,

  • 1Jo 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

Shockingly, full preterism has been defended against this charge by the declaration that in the Bible past tense usually means future tense.   Clearly, therefore, this has become the razor sharp point upon which full preterism is either defended or disqualified.  If any one of these passages actually means what it says — that the subject of kingdom fulfillment was available even before the full outward signal — then the point has been proved.

And it is not like there are just a few passages which speak of believers partaking of the promises even before the full manifestation to the world at large.  Not at all.   The “time” of fulfillment can be taken back farther and farther — as far back as you could ever wish to take it in history, and then even farther still!   David often spoke of the kingdom as a present reality, and Christ as the everlasting King even in his day.  Here are just a few examples of King David, in what could rightly be labeled Jewish Idealism, referring to his present King, Jesus Christ.

  • Ps 5:2 Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.

  • Ps 10:16 The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.

  • Ps 24:8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.

  • Ps 29:10 The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever.

  • Ps 47:2 For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.

  • Ps 89:18 For the LORD is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king

  • Ps 93:2 Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.

  • Ps 145:13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.

  • Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

During the Exodus, Jesus Christ was more than revealed to the people — He was their actual source of nourishment:

  • 1Corinthians 10:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.  

    For more on what is meant by “followed them” as it relates to this subject, see my article Jesus in the Wilderness

Long before David or the Exodus, Abraham saw Christ’s kingdom, and was glad.  In fact, we are told that the gospel itself was revealed to Abraham:

  • Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

  • John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

Job recounts the possession of the prophetic blessings for those who call upon the Lord:

  • Job 33:23-26 If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him; and he is gracious to him, and says, `Deliver him from going down into the Pit, I have found a ransom; let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’;  then man prays to God, and he accepts him, he comes into his presence with joy. He recounts to men his salvation.

It might even be acknowledged that Adam was in the kingdom before being cast out.   After all, how can we be restored into the kingdom, if Adam had never dwelt therein?  Additionally, the tree of life is seen in the Apocalypse of John as being in the New Jerusalem.  At any rate, it can be taken back even farther… to before the very creation.  This is where we get much closer to the subject at hand, so pay particular attention to these: 

  • Psalms 103:17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;

    • Prov 8:22-23 The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

  • Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.  

  • John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

  • 2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.

THE EVERLASTING COVENANT FROM THE COUNCIL OF THE TRINITY

Though all history-based systems assume that the covenant and the kingdom and the age to come were all to be established at some point in history, it will be more helpful to see that it was the manifestation of those eternal subjects that was in history, not their consummation. The mystery and the grace were in full existence even before the foundation of the world.  Before identifying what, in particular, took place prior to creation I’d like you to note the distinction between the subject existing before the world and the objective manifestation of that reality:

    • 1 Cor. 2:7,10  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
  • Eph 3:9-10 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now, unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God

  • Col 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

  • 2 Tim 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

Notice how many of these passages have been pointed out above in their constituent elements of teaching, that 1) the mystery existed before the foundation, 2) that it has been hidden from the foundation and 3) that it is revealed in Christ.  

What was hid from ages is the council of the Trinity.  Before creation the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit determined and consummated the entire scope of history with complete sovereignty.   In this design, they ordained an object lesson in the form of ancient Israel.   Additionally, your very life was determined and ordered in such a way as to serve as an object lesson for your growth and for those around you.

For those interested in pursuing the concept of the everlasting covenant and eternal kingdom more, I suggest reading John Gill’s “Body of Divinity”.  In it, he states:

“When we speak of the Abrogation of the [Old] Covenant this is to be understood, not of the covenant of grace, as to the matter and substance of it, which remains invariably the same in all periods of time; it is an everlasting covenant; it is ordered in all things and sure; it can never be broken and made void; every promise of it is unalterable, and every blessing irreversible; the covenant of peace can never be removed; it will stand firm to all generations; but with respect to the form of the administration of it only, even the form of it, under the former, or Old Testament dispensation, before described; and in order to set this in its true and proper light

And here is Spurgeon, preaching on the same subject, from the same pulpit, 100 years later:

“Now, in this covenant of grace, we must first of all observe the high contracting parties between whom it was made. The covenant of grace was made before the foundation of the world between God the Father, and God the Son; or to put it in a yet more scriptural light, it was made mutually between the three divine persons of the adorable Trinity. This covenant was not made mutually between God and man. Man did not at that time exist; but Christ stood in the covenant as man’s representative.” (The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant)

So there you have it.  Preterism has been weighed and found wanting.  Idealism is the answer in that the subject is to be found consummated in the eternal realm.  But unless that idealism is modified by preterism — that is, by seeing AD70 as the culmination of the object which points to the subject — then it will be mired in materialism, causing it to fail as well.  

It seems rather simple, doesn’t it?  Well, it is.  Why nobody else has done it before is a mystery.  Perhaps the historical prejudice against preterism kept theologians looking in the wrong direction for fulfillment of the object, rendering them unable to come to terms with the subject of Bible prophecy – Who is Jesus Christ, the eternal King from everlasting to everlasting.

  • Rev 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
  • 2 Cor 1:20 For all the promises of God have their confirmation in Him, unto the glory of God by us.

For more information, visit Jesus Christ, the telos and eschatos of Bible Prophecy

Best of success in your studies.  If you have any questions you can contact me at todd@preteristidealism.com or on Facebook at /PreteristArchive.  Feel free to leave comments below. 


What do YOU think ?
Submit Your Comments For Posting Below


Date: 10 Sep 2006
Time: 17:40:12

Todd,

When I first came across modern preterism a few years ago I felt like I was just placed inside of a vacuum bottle.

Part of the problem is that I was raised mostly (and only) on the popularized futuristic dispensational views of the “millennium” and the “second coming”. So when it is now announced that the Parousia occurred in AD 70, my mind subconsciously brings along with it those popularized views. This is guaranteed intellectual disaster. It is pending shipwreck to put forth eschatological views isolated from a harmonious soteriology.

My main concern though is the direction that some “novice preterists” have taken. For example, some of those novices have concluded that John 3:16 only has a pre-70AD application.

So I have concluded that any form of modern eschatology that obliterates the love of God (or reduces it to a footnote) shall be where I concentrate my challenges. The love of God was not opened up to us in the destruction of Jerusalem, nor even in the resurrection of the dead. So I am pressed to first seek out those things that makes everything else look like a footnote in comparison.

Thank you for sharing your concerns.

-EM


Date: 16 Sep 2006
Time: 19:48:27

My name is Juan C. Pena Marrero. Iam a pastor from Puerto Rico. Since The Presterist Archive started I have read several articles of this preterist eschatology. I understand that you are entering in a more comprehensive understanding of the scriptures by taking the best of full presterist with the idealist view understanding that the spiritual things are invisible and we all have to recognize this reality to participate in our internall process and redemption. I hope that a more clear understanding be for you in this process. Be the Lord Jesus with you in it. Amen.


Date: 20 Sep 2006
Time: 06:02:03

Thanks Todd, You have been an ongoing inspiration to me and PA is a regular landing pad. Curiously the other day I was struggling with similar issues to yours. I seem to have landed at something like the Idealist/Preterist position.

For what it is worth, be encouraged to steer away from the need to criticize hardcore MPMer’s. I think we are all heading to some form of idealism.


Date: 26 Sep 2006
Time: 13:03:49

Isn’t the main point of preterism the fact that all men no longer need rely on other men/rituals to be in God’s presence/kingdom. No waiting necessary either, ala dispy futurism, as now the kingdom of God IS WITH MEN. Be in Christ , and you are in God’s presence/kingdom.jwr


Date: 29 Sep 2006
Time: 07:02:05

So how many more views are there when it comes to Preterism? Each view are claming that they are correct and the others are wrong.

A “House” divided will fall. The scriptures only have ONE meaning not many. Now we have FP. MP, PP, LP, HP, IP, what is left.

In teaching Preterism, which type do you teach? Which one is “Truth”?

Richard K.McPherson
www.preterism-eschatology.com


Date: 02 Dec 2006
Time: 06:25:35

Todd,

It really doesn’t matter which view of Preterism you believe in. Sure the Bible is for us and not to us, but it still shows us how we should live and act in everyday life.

Preterism is just a name and there is nothing in a name. I am a FP or MP. That doesn’t mean I believe what another FP believes. Knowing who God is and what He has done in all that matter. Todd, I read why you left “FP” to become IP. It make sense, but what is in a name. I am a FIMP.

What is the duty of man? It is not to have a certain believe name, but to fear, honor and love, to live your life that the world may see Him in you. I know this was coming when the name was changed from Covenant Eschatology to Preterism to FP and PP to FP, PP, HP, MP, and IP. All of them have their good and bad points. Any type of Preterism goes too far in certain area, but that make life so fun to life. Each person is different. Why do we live, to get the message out on what God has “really” done for us is such hard work. That is why we pray for wisdom. Each person is different in their walk with God.

To love our spouses and children and to be faithful to Him that gave us more than what we deserve. Freedom, and with that freedom come responsibility.

Keep up the good work,

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year,

Richard
www.preterism-eschatology.com


Date: 20 Nov 2006
Time: 09:04:16

Why does it seem to me as I view the general direction of thought that there’s an inevitable tendency back towards the broad theology found in the Catholic Church where actual differences of opinion seem to be tolerated without arousing the need to slaughter one’s opponents albeit only verbally. Sadly I suppose that it is at the root of Protestantism that proud independence and an unconscious self-aggrandizement will always emerge as the dominant spirit. Mcpherson states the scriptures have only one meaning, how absurd a suggestion when the gospel writers employ the OT in an entirely new way, but how reflective of a dogmatising and dictatorial tendency that desires to think independently. Peter’s insistence that Christ operate according to his view was met with ‘get thee behind me Satan’ and do we not all fall foul of Peter’s error when we elevate our own opinion above the unity of the body which is Christ?


Date: 14 Apr 2007
Time: 10:20:37

I’m reminded of a simple quote that goes like this:

“The rulership of the world by the British Empire (New world Order) is a usurpation of the sovereignty of Jesus Christ.” The Union Jack

To recognize it, all you have to do is look for some concept of a kingdom of God on earth as opposed to Christ’s spiritual Kingdom which is “not of this world.”

The New World Order is not new at all. It can be traced continuously back to Genesis 4:7.

Larry


Date: 26 Apr 2007
Time: 14:08:03

Rev. Dennis,
Thank you for your exposition on the subject of Preterism (full) vs. Idealism. Several years ago I was led (immediately) to your website after earnestly praying that The Lord would help me understand the truth about his “Second Coming”. Since that time I have indeed felt the “what now?” syndrome. How ought one live in view of this information? The Word (except for specific readily identifiable passages) is the “Living Word” applicable today and throughout eternity forever. Idealism and the timeless application of historical manifestations tends to put matters into better perspective for me. I eagerly look forward to reading more of your insightful expositions on the matter.

Eternally His,
<Al><


Date: 16 Feb 2008
Time: 11:29:51

You state that ALL forms of Preterism is wrong, which includes yours.

The OT, does that not deal with “History” of the Jews and God’s relationship wtih them.

The NT, continues with that “History”. Jesus’ death, buried and resurrection, is that History fact?

How many meanings does the Bible have? You are no better off than the rest of the world. 600+ different views (denominations) and all of them are claiming to be the true.

What makes you all of a sudden right and everyone else wrong?


Date: 19 Feb 2009
Time: 20:14:06

Well done Todd. Andrew Corbett (www.andrewcorbett.net)


Date: 28 May 2009
Time: 22:19:17

Todd–I run a web ministry for a reformed church. The Pastors and I are researching the preterist position and would like to talk to you. You can contact us here. www.reformedapologetics.net

I am listed as (Webministry, Darin)
Thanks


Date: 13 Jun 2009
Time: 02:25:47

See my Idealism Commentary at Lulu.com under REDIRECTIONALISM. I formally had a preterist view, but now understand these things to pertain to ideas, thus making AD 70 only the ultamate type. Questions: Directionalism@yahoo.com / Donald Perry Kearny, NJ


Date: 07 Sep 2009
Time: 10:59:24

Todd, I think Benjamin David Olsen’s work clears up so many of problems. I would like to send Chapter 20 from his “The Revelation Unveiled”. It is about 4000 words. How do I send it to you?

Jim Adams
Oroville, CA


Date: 23 Dec 2009
Time: 03:40:05

Thanks for the very interesting explanation on preterism from an ex-preterist POV. I have been on a journey of enquiry on this subject for some time and can see most scripture as ‘double-sided’ in interpretation such that it can satisfy both a futurist and preterist interpretation as desired (that’s often the nature of scripture and how people choose to understand prophecy). However, I am stumped by Hebrews 10:37. The writer of Hebrews clearly believed Jesus was returning very soon. Either he was correct and preterism is sound or he was misguided which brings into question the inerrancy of scripture and how we interpret epistles. Any thoughts?

James


Date: 30 Mar 2010
Time: 11:34:26

Todd –

Wow – I bookmarked your site early on as a (hyper) preterist resource, and had not kept up with your journey and changed POV. While I am not familiar with many of your terms, I do understand your basic arguments against hyper-preterism and hope to articulate them to some of my HP friends.

For those still searching for answers against hyper-preterism, I have found Mathison’s collection (referenced in your archive) valuable, especially Richard L. Pratt, Jr.’s artical on Unfolding Biblical Eschatology.

Thanks so much for sharing your journey – it gives me hope for my friends.


Date: 28 Mar 2011
Time: 15:35:17

Todd,

I did not understand where you were coming from before, but this article helped clarify things for me. I started my journey here in 2003, left for a bit, but am back now. Thank you my brother.

Chris