Full Preterists, in order to maintain the integrity of their hermeneutic, choose to take the timeline-based answer (it is new) over the non timeline-based answer with which they also agree (it is not new). However, it is a plain contradiction to have something new that is eternal.
By Nathan DuBois
Full Preterism vs. Idealism – Part One : Introduction | Part Two – Full Preterism’s Achilles Heel | Part Three – Full Preterism’s “New” Gospel | Full Preterism vs. Idealism: Part Four : Full Preterism’s Single Dimension Focus
Full Preterism vs. Idealism
Part 4: Full Preterism’s Single Dimension Focus
The focus on strict time line theology has led many to miss important personal elements of the walk with Christ. Constantly bringing the kingdom into the realm of time, by establishing it’s beginning in time, while explaining it’s location as being one in time, has left out what the kingdom really is.
In Full Preterism you have study after study about how the kingdom “came down” and whether or not the kingdom is “inside you” or “among you.” The constant temporal focus of the kingdom has kept Full Preterism in the blind to both the individual and eternal dimensions of the kingdom. Over and over again there is a debate on when the kingdom arrived temporal and where the kingdom is temporal.
In a study by a Partial Preterist we can see what he considers the three important questions when discussing the kingdom:
“The problem comes when so many modern Christians are confused as to the nature and timing of the Kingdom. How are we to seek what we don’t understand? When is this Kingdom!? Where is this Kingdom!? What is the Kingdom!? Ever since that time, Jesus has been reigning over his Kingdom. First Corinthians 15:25 states, “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” Jesus, our victorious King, is in the process of conquering his enemies on the earth…”To better understand this interesting passage we must realize that the events in the book of Revelation were to happen in the first century…we again we see that the Kingdom of Christ began in the first century, is a present reality, and will consummate in the future. Let us be encouraged that our Lord is on the throne and that he is putting all of his enemies under his feet!”
This is a good charge by a Partial Preterist and a good example of how Full Preterism must leave consistency or give in to another form of theology. If death is destroyed then Christ must have handed the kingdom over to His Father and He is also subjected to Him. If the kingdom is a “when” and a “where,” and death is defeated, then the kingdom is handed over and He is no longer in charge! The Full Preterist could go the Partial Preterist route and declare that the kingdom is to be consummated at some end of time, or it could go the Universalist route and declare that the kingdom is completely consummated and the Father is in charge because there is nothing left for the Son to do, or it could go the Idealist route, and see the kingdom for what it is — an everlasting throne and habitation in the eternal realm.
Isaiah 9:7 The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.
There is never a time when the kingdom ends. He is always reigning over it from the right hand of the throne. Yet there is clearly a time when He hands it over to the Father. So which is it? Or is it both? Did Christ just have a 40 year reign from AD 30-70 or does He reign forever? Looking at a beginning and a handing over in a strict chronological view cannot consistently answer this question! Having a single dimension focus completely reduces the kingdom to something it is not. No matter how the Full Preterists declare it is a spiritual kingdom, Full Preterism puts temporal characteristics on it’s nature.
This is noticeable in many FP writings on kingdom verses, such as “World without end” — which is absolutely not talking about natural, chronological history, despite FP usage of this verse as a proof text that the world will exist forever.
The funny thing about the quotes above is though he declares he will discuss the “nature” of the kingdom, he never really does. He only goes into discussing it’s length, which is still distorted by his timing. The reason to me is plain. Partial Preterism is time driven, as Full Preterism is time driven, and neither one is able to correctly address the beginning (none), end (none), and true nature (spiritual and individual) of the kingdom. This is not only a sign of the incorrectness of the focus of both systems, but also of the ultimate bankruptcy of the theologies built upon that incorrect focus.
Looking at the kingdom with a microscope will either force the Full Preterist into seeing the eternal and individual dimensions of the kingdom, or their systematic approach will distort it and keep them blind and putting it into a box (wet, soggy, and torn apart after the flood rains come.
Christ had more in mind when He made this famous and theologically abused statement:
Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
According to the historical focus of Full Preterism, the rules of logic supposedly dictate that the kingdom has a discernible beginning point. This is assumed because no matter how much Christ said about it, they do not understand what the kingdom is! If we look at the descriptions Christ put on it, and the actions that make someone a part of it, we see that it transcends time.
Being a part of the kingdom had everything to do with the manifestation of the new heart by those who believed. Those who had faith (within) would act rightly (without). Those poor in spirit internally would be meek, give the shirt off their back as well as their coat, take the low seat in the house, carry their brothers burdens, and have ears to hear — all evidences of a softened heart to the gospel. Those who lacked faith would contrarily manifest the fruits of the flesh. We know Christians by their love, so beware of those who claim the name of Christ yet manifest the opposite.
Long before “the kingdom came in AD 70” (which assumption I dispute), there were men who were every bit as much citizens and participants within it because of their faith. Many of the most recognizable names of such people were recorded in Hebrews. Abraham, Moses, and David were all “sons of the kingdom” long before it ever came to be manifested in the historical realm. Now I know the arguments that say that these fathers of faith were hanging out in a very heaven like spiritual realm called Hades until the earthly time line of AD 70 was concluded (a spiritual realm that is supposedly in the lake of fire suffering eternal torment, for that is what the lake of fire is), however this is also due to the incorrect view of taking God’s eternal timelessness and making His realities subject to our time.
Here is another example of this mistaken presumptive approach from Michael Bennett.
“Under a New Covenant where Christ said “in order for there to be a change in Priesthood there must be a change of the law”. Then the “new commandments” which really “are not new” are “new” none the less.”
This is how it is explained — by not explaining it. It is new because he said FP based logic dictates it, even though it is old and eternal and the original. So what makes it new? It cannot be answered properly within the FP framework, because the proper answer obliterates the time line anchor of the entire theology. The biblical answer is “it is not new!”
Full Preterists, in order to maintain the integrity of their hermeneutic, choose to take the timeline-based answer (it is new) over the non timeline-based answer with which they also agree (it is not new). However, it is a plain contradiction to have something new that is eternal. It is claimed that it was eternal BEGINNING AT A CERTAIN POINT IN HISTORY, assuming that the rules of time and space on earth are precisely what governs the eternal realm as well.. as though God uses the 12 month based calendar. Though “logic” may dictate this, considering references such as ’12 manner of fruit in their seasons’ in Revelation, it is much better to reckon this type of communication as being a timeless God in a timeless realm utilizing what man knows (time and space) to get his point across. This principle is the foundation of a proper approach to prophecy, yet which ultimate meaning is completely lost with Full Preterism, as it takes the communication method as being the entirety of the message!
Instead, it is a much more faithful reading of scripture — and one which provides great internal blessing for God’s people — to recognize that the kingdom is eternal; however, with the removal of the temporalizing veil, it is seen for the first time for what it truly is. It is new to those who are seeing it, as it is newly revealed. It is new in the same way my old car can be “new” to someone who just purchased it. Salvation is “eternal” but it is “new” to the person who just received it.
Here are just a few of a multitude of verses which demonstrate the hidden/revealed dynamic of the kingdom:
Mt 10:26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
Mt 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidthese things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Joh 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”
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;
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.
The kingdom was being revealed in its fullness by the eternal One from the very beginning. The failure to see the things on earth as a revelation of the eternal, instead making them into that which creates the spiritual, is the single biggest difference between the Full Preterist and the Idealist positions. Nothing done on earth started or stopped the things that are eternal (Law of Christ, Kingdom of God, the Word, Sabbath, etc). When Christ referred to the kingdom as something coming, when He gave the AD 70 parables to the disciples and multitudes, it was not to tell them that something NEW was being instituted, but to reveal to them the way it was always supposed to be, and the way it always is for those who “seek ye first the kingdom of God,” just as Abel or Abraham did. They followed the law of Christ and were “sons of the kingdom” long before AD 70.
What Full Preterists have forgotten or simply not grasped — and this is what helped me in my change — is that AD 70 was a revelation of who Christ and the “sons of God” were.
When I presented that point of view in defiance of a literal rapture, but from a Full Preterist perspective, all my Full preterist friends were right on board. However, when I was hit over the head by the Spirit with the revelation that “it was ALL about revealing Himself and who we are in Him,” and was about nothing else, then I was chastised for abandoning the time line theology.
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed.
All of the warnings to live right, maintain unity, etc. were given to that typological generation because they were about to be vindicated for the whole world to see. They would be revealed as the true sons of God. This is what the transition period and the war between the Jews and the Christian was all about. It is why it was a war where “vengeance is Mine,” where “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.” The vindication was a revelation. All of it was a revelation of the eternal. They were not entering something new, they were being confirmed that they were a part of it already, and that they had been on the right side all along. Abraham never received this type of confirmation until his death, that is why it is said that he never entered the rest they did. However, once they had received that confirmation, then it as assured that Abraham had as well.
There is no question that many Full Preterists would agree wholeheartedly with much of this material, yet still hope to maintain their fundamentally chronological approach. However, by considering the eternal aspects simply the “applications” of the natural fulfillment, they miss out on how the very same eternal work is alive today, and operating in their lives, whether they recognize it or not. When the eternal starts to be applied and realized as eternal, and not as beginning in or being caused by AD 70, the attitude changes… as does the personal profitability of the study for our walk with Christ, and our victory in the midst of the perverse generation alive today.
One of the biggest attitude changers for me — and what was one of the easiest reasons to grasp the fundamentally different approach with Idealism — was the fact that realizing that the law of Christ and the kingdom are eternal in nature, yet are revealed in the process of time. This recognition allowed me to stop wasting time looking at what “time” it arrived and what ceased thereafter. This freed me to look at what the heck it actually is, and what it means for me today. Recognizing this intensely personal work of the Spirit is something very lacking in Full Preterist circles, and is actually mocked by many as being wimpy or subjective or “seeker sensitive.” Other times, when preterists start evolving into a deeper and more profound relationship with eternal things, they are called “postmodern,” “a cult,” and (insert the name of your theological enemy here).
The Idealist standpoint chooses to look at the WHAT and not so much at the WHEN. It looks at the actual message meant to be conveyed by the chosen method, and not just at the method itself. Unfortunately, when in Full Preterist circles, the focus on the “when” completely distorts the “what” — and declares that the “what” is not even for today, as it was fulfilled and terminated thousands of years ago!
What do YOU think ?
Submit Your Comments For Posting Below
Date: 02 Jun 2007
After reading this section, I think I may see where you are coming from more clearly. I can’t say that I disagree with any points that you have come to from your perspective. In many cases I already believe much of what you say. I may be more of an idealist than I thought without even realizing it. One of the points that really stuck out is when you brought out the fact that the New Covenant is only “new” to us because of it being revealed for the first time in the 1st Century. How can I disagree with that? I can’t. I think that is something we all need to take a moment and consider.One thing I can say is that your article definitely provokes me to reconsider and test many of the things I believe.
Good work, Nate.
Date: 04 Jun 2007
Cute concept Nate – but it does not match up with ALL of the scripture.
70 weeks of Daniel was fulfilled…
A) In eternity only?
B) Never fulfilled?
C) ad 30 – 70 sometime?
It says nothing about revealing what “already” happened.
24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.
Date: 04 Jun 2007
ad30-70 sometime? not very precise for such a clear timeline. 40 year leeway in a 490 year prophecy… thats an 8% error margin
Don Preston on the 70 Weeks :
“Every mathematical calculation that I have ever seen cannot arrive at the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem. The destruction is, in my estimation, undeniably confined within the parameters of the 70 weeks (“seventy weeks are determined for you people and for your city.”). I just don’t see a way to say that the fate of the people and the city lie outside the divinely mandated period.. Now, while I am like you, and do not like, and reject, the idea of “gaps” what I see here is not a gap in the dispensational sense of things..”
what calculation do you use?
Date: 10 Jun 2007
The most important error in all of “idealism” is the failure to attribute a gammatico-historical interpretation to the bible. Idealism allows an infinite number of conclusions to the bible, since it ignores the contextual application of the new covenant to those who were under the old. On what possible basis could anyone say that the new covenant was made with the pagan nations of the world? Better review the understanding of what “gentile” means and who the bible’s message was written to.
Date: 01 Jul 2007
I’m beginning to understand more and more of what you’re explaining. It is comforting for me in many ways. The one thing I don’t understand is about the resurrection in relation to this idealist approach. While AD 70 and all other temporal events happened in time to reveal the eternal realities, where are the temporal revelations of the resurrection? Where can we see any of the resurrection promises given by Paul having taken place in time in order to reveal the eternal realities, as we can look back at AD 70 and other events to see what those things revealed?
This is far more consistent contextually. The power of the kingdom was around them in Christ and in his miracles. This is the point he was making.
But anyway, more to the point:
The Idealist standpoint chooses to look at the WHAT and not so much as the WHEN. It looks at the actual message meant to be conveyed by the chosen method, and not just at the method itself. Unfortunately, when in Full Preterist circles, the focus on the “when” completely distorts the “what” — and declares that the “what” is not even for today, as it was fulfilled and terminated thousands of years ago!
Herein is the issue:
Your view seems to perpetuate the “enemies” so as to maintain circular motion.
The finality of the “revealing” is that God has no more enemies. They were all put down.
[This is an over simplification but my time is limited today]
The old economy is attached to the self defined “ego” of man (through the knowledge of good and evil).
In short, man makes himself an enemy of God. And then lives the life of this projected “ego”. This is the old economy in its historical outworking.
The point of the “revealing” is to historically end this.
The “What” is that God has no enemies.
What you have done in essence is found another way to maintain the old economy (as a system of belief).
Now that Christ has handed over the kingdom to the Father, people can be “enemies” only in their “mind”.
Their is still a continuing “reign” of Christ but not from an “enemy undermining” position. That position of reign ended and so is handed over in the sense of the historical work of fulfillment of all things written.
So then Nate, this is what I see. You still need your enemies. So that the “What” of the kingdom is not fully seen.
Eze 16:60 Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.
Eze 16:61 Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant.
Eze 16:62 And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I [am] the LORD:
Eze 16:63 That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I AM PACIFIED TOWARD THEE FOR ALL THAT THOUR HAST DONE, saith the Lord GOD.
The old covenant can be summed up as the historical outworking of making ourselves the enemies of God on an egocentric level. Historical Israel is the catalyst of course.
All the righteous blood recorded in the scriptures that was shed came upon the terminal generation of vipers. This is an historical outworking.
There is no more historical outworking of the old economy.
For is there was then we would by necessity need another “filling up” and an new or maintained eschatology.
The end of eschatology is the end of “enemies”. Otherwise one must maintain a new “filling up” or a continuity of the old “filling up”.