|Reply to "Absolute Refutation of Preterism"|
We now look at a critique of preterism, this one by a site that's a little more, shall we say, unusual. The owner seems to have an affectation of using Hebrew names (i.e., "Yahshua" rather than Jesus); in principle this is a matter of one's own conscience, but I would advise the owner to consider what kind of barrier this may be to evangelism. The site also seems to endorse Anglo-Israelism, and has a section of "awards" to various Christian leaders (some questionable, others not so) for "arrogance". (The owner might want to save one for himself; the title of his critique, "ABSOLUTE REFUTATION OF PRETERISM" in all caps doesn't bespeak a humble spirit, now, does it?)
Beyond that the scholarship of this site is fairly dismal, and its response to preterism specifically, fairly disoriented. The site (run by someone who labels himself DOV) tackles the full preterist view as though it were the only option (i.e., the resurrection has already occurred) and does not differentiate it, that I can see, from the orthodox preterist view. Hence we actually will not address much of what he has to say, but we will offer some comments on that which is relevant to partial preterism.
Here's a taste to begin of the sort of, er, affirmation we will find:
The doctrine of preterism claims that ALL Bible prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D.! They actually believe that YAHSHUA physically returned at that time, but that He did not stay very long. They do not have a record of this in the Bible and all they have is an alleged historical account recorded by Josephus. They claim that in his record of the fall of Jerusalem there is a description of the return of YAHSHUA. I have read it and I don't see it.
When the new world order is established believers in YAHSHUA IMMANUEL YAHWEH of Nazareth the Mashiyach will be hunted down and martyred by the millions. Only a few thousand will escape the slaughter and they will not escape martydom for long. Eventually all believers will be exterminated from planet Earth. That is what the preterist worldview is. It is the most depressing and debilitating worldview imaginable!
Let's also have a look at how DOV thinks we need to do our studies. As for scholars who have done the legwork, DOV has little regard for them:
No true believer who is taught by the HOLY SPIRIT can misconstrue these clear statements.
I have heard Gary [DeMar] on the radio and his understanding of eschatology is extremely limited.
I have [Sproul's] book on eschatology and will soon refute it. From what I have heard him say his understanding of eschatology is dreadful!
The worst thing to do is to study a doctrine by using the writings of fallible men. A true Bible student studies every passage in Thee Infallible, Holy Word of YAHWEH Elohim dealing with a specific doctrine (Acts 17.11) and relying on the HOLY SPIRIT to teach him (I Yochanan 2.20,27). After he has put all the passages together in a harmonious consensus he can then consult commentaries, books and bishops to see if he has been given the proper understanding. The worst thing a Bible student can do is study commentaries, books, tapes, etc. to come to an understanding of a doctrine.
It probably doesn't occur to DOV that 1 John 2:20, 27 comes in the middle of one of the most didactically-oriented letters in the NT. If believers had the Spirit to teach them literally everything, why was there need to even write letters?
Actual arguments against preterism -- such as they are -- do get produced, but improve little; to wit:
To believe that ALL Bible prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. the preterists claim that virtually every prophecy is symbolic. The belief that the vast majority of last days prophecies in the Old and New Testaments are symbolic means they do not believe that YAHWEH Elohim say what They mean and They do not mean what They say! Is that blasphemy?
Every bit as blasphemous, I suppose, as saying that the trees of the field will not actually clap their hands (Is. 55:12). DOV tells us that there is "ONLY ONE hermeneutical principal [sic] for understanding Thee Infallible, Holy Word of YAHWEH Elohim: 'Take everything literally in context, unless the Scriptures say it is symbolic or unless it is physically impossible for it to be or to take place.'"
Hmm. Checking Is. 55:12 I don't see anything saying it is symbolic. As for that "physically impossible" routine, well -- it is physically "possible" for God to give the trees hands to clap, isn't it?
DOV invokes the urgent hermeneutic thereafter: "Those who reject this principle can make any passage say whatever they want it to say!" They can try, but that's why scholars and apologists are here, to put a stop to them. And I've seen plenty of people use that "principle" and STILL make passages say what they want them to say. Now we only need to know: Where exactly did DOV find that "principle" in Scripture?
And so, after a few threats, and a statement that seems quite un-humble ("As far as I know no one or no group has done a written exegetical study on every passage in the Bible dealing with the last things (eschatology) and put them together to come to a proper understanding of eschatology. I am working on it and have already realized that preterism, amillennialism, postmillennialism, dominion theology, covenant theology, historicism, pre-tribulationism, mid-tribulationism, post-tribulationism and pre-wrath late tribulationism are all wrong!"), we get to where DOV refers to "Fundamental Doctrines That Are Denied by Preterists".
Many of these entries refer to FULL preterism, and we'll just skip those. DOV is right-on about the resurrection body, and about Rev. 20-22 being already fulfilled, though his method of argumentation in some cases leaves a lot to be desired, to wit:
Preterists also deny that we will rule the Earth with YAHSHUA during the Millennial Kingdom. They claim that the Millennial Kingdom is symbolic of a change in the covenant and that we are ruling with YAHSHUA in a spiritual sense. This understanding is based on personal opinion rather than on Scripture. Since all personal opinions are worthless concerning Scripture -- their doctrine about this is worthless!
I suppose this could be called, "Argument by Manic Declaration." At any rate DOV finally does get to a key for partial preterists, the "time texts" which speak of Jesus' parousia as near, soon, etc. Unfortunately for DOV all he has to offer is confused:
We know for certain that the phrases that speak of the "nearness" of the Day of the Lord are not statements that YAHSHUA would return in a matter of months or years. They are mis-translations. They should have been translated that the Day of YAHWEH is "nearer." The Yavan (Greek) makes this perfectly clear and so does the context.
The Greek makes this perfectly clear? Not that any commentary or expert in Greek has ever said. DOV doesn't tell us what he knows about Greek, but even if right that would not help such passages as the "this generation" passages or lessen any preterist interpretation, since even if 70 is the target, it would still be "nearer" than before.
Absolute proof that this is the correct understanding is found in 2 Yahshua-Isaiah 13.6, Yechezqel-Ezek. 30.3 and Zephaniah 1.7,14. The statement that "the day of YAHWEH is near" could not mean near in months or years because they were made hundreds of years before 70 A.D., the alleged time of their fulfillment! Those three passages totally demolish the preterist doctrine.
Unfortunately again for DOV, "the day of the Lord" is not a phrase that is uniquely associated with any particular eschatological event. No matter how assertively it is stated, that won't change rational, contextual exegesis.
The phrase "the things which must shortly take place" (Rev. 1.1) should have been translated "the things which must take place in a short period of time." YAHSHUA merely said that the events described in the revelation would take place in a short period of time rather than drag on for decades.
We aren't given any documentation or proof for this stunning new translation; apparently "should have" is based only on, "I say so" -- so far, at any rate; later we are vaguely referred to a "footnote" in the NASV, with no explanation given and no bibliographic data.
DOV does argue that tachu can mean "suddenly" or surprisingly, and that is indeed possible, but one might consider that such a long chain of events as described in Revelation is a little hard to swallow as being described that way. One may as well say that we will take a hike in the woods "suddenly".
Note as well, despite DOV, that the texts do not merely say that Jesus' return will happen tachu; it says that the things will happpen tachu. DOV protests that the context of a surprise (1 Thess. 5:2-4, Rev. 3:3, 15:15) prefers his view, but it has actually no more advantage if tachu means "soon" since something coming soon can surprise someone unprepared just as easily as something coming suddenly. Unpreparedness gets the same penalty whatever the case.
After this DOV says, "The phrases 'the day is at hand' (Rom. 13.12), 'The end of all things is at hand' (I Keph 4.7) and 'the coming of the Lord is at hand' (Yaq. 5.8)", he mumbles, "are statements of edification. It is a way that the Lord encourages all believers to keep spiritually alert."
That's true, but "at hand" says at hand. So now, DOV, is God lying to us just to keep us spiritually alert? That's not very nice, is it?
DOV next drops some non-specific comments about the "Tribulation" (using the usual popular exegesis that mixes together 1 Thess. 5/2 Thes. 1-3 and Revelation, without any textual justification at all) and then tries this tack:
We also know for certain that these phrases have nothing to do with the passage of time because Yaaqob wrote his letter in the 40s about 25 to 30 years prior to the alleged return of YAHSHUA in 70 A.D.. There is no way that 25 years can be considered "at hand." I might believe two years is "at hand" but not 25 years!
So, does this mean that God fibbed even worse because he told people that his day was 2 years or less away, and did that happen? Can we get a consistent answer, here? We'd also like some justification for that idea that "at hand" can't mean 25 years. After all, 25 years is a mere blip compared to the time-history of the Jews as a whole; like "soon" it is a relative term. We can say "soon we will go shopping" and mean 1 day; we can say "soon men will be able to land on Mars" and mean 20-30 years. If we take Matt. 26:18 into account "at hand" means "in the next few hours."
DOV offers another explanation about Revelation:
If Yochanan (John) wrote it in 66 A.D. as the preterists claim -- believers had less than four years to study it. It took time for the manuscript to be circulated throughout the Roman Empire and the vast majority of believers never read it. The few who were fortunate to read and study it had very little time to. Less than four years is not enough time to be able to understand it unless someone was studying it eight hours a day.
Well, no, it would take no more than a year (not "several years") for the manuscript to be circulated to churches throughout the Empire -- less if in the springtime -- and keep in mind that this was a high-context society, so that all of the symbols and words were much more "at hand" than they would be to us living to the 21st century in a low-context setting. They would not need years of study to get the job done. They knew what everything meant in ways WE don't.
Of course this assumes that Revelation was meant to be written for everyone to read anyway, which is also open to question. If, as is held in preterists of all stripes, Revelation is a "covenant lawsuit" document against Israel, it was not intended for mass consumption but was more along the lines of legal documentation. It might shock DOV (and others!) to hear that some books in the Bible, for example Leviticus, were never meant to be sat down and read through by every person on earth.
DOV asks, "It is also absurd to think that the Lord would give to Paulos revelation concerning His return about 15 years before He gave His revelation to Yochanan. Paulos wrote only a few passages about the Second Advent (I Korinthians 15; I Thessalonians 5; 2 Thessalonians 2). Why would YAHSHUA give those revelations to Paulos 15 years before He gave His most detailed prophecy to Yochanan?"
If Revelation was a covenant lawsuit document, then it makes perfect sense that it would come out in 66 AD, just as the application was heating up. It would have been at the end of the chance for Israel to change its ways. That's why it makes no sense to DOV: He hasn't studied these materials in context, he's just read them "straight" assuming he can understand them as is with the help of the Holy Spirit.
YAHWEH Elohim made prophecies through Their prophets that were not fulfilled for several hundreds years. Why would They change that pattern in the New Testament dispensation and make prophecies that were fulfilled in a matter of a few decades and in the case of the book of Revelation less than four years?
We find OT prophecies that were fulfilled within days, don't we? What about the prophecy of Jezebel's death (2 Kings 9:10)? And it doesn't even account for their present-orientation.
DOV offers up one more argument section, "YAHSHUA Told His Disciples They Would Not See His Return!" This we are told is another "irrefutable proof that the preterist doctrine is wrong" (polish that arrogance award!) but the one referral given is Luke 17:22, "The days shall come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it."
Well, all that says is that, with reference to a specific desire, they will not see it; that does not mean they will never see it, and its not like the desire would be 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Moreover, if this is a specific indication that those present will NOT see this AT ALL, then of what use were the early admonitions to be watchful?
After addressing a claim about Jesus' promise before the Transfiguration which we do not share, DOV tries to pull the "this generation" texts into submission, but his only answer is that "the context forces one to understand that it is the generation that is alive when the predictions begin to be fulfilled. Since none of the things predicted by YAHSHUA took place around 70 A.D. save the destruction of the temple -- it is an assumption to believe 'this generation' was the First Century A.D. generation."
Not at all. It did all happen and we're still waiting for word from DOV on why it didn't, other than the vague accommodation re literal and figurative above which doesn't answer the question.
"Here are just a few of the things YAHSHUA said would take place before He returned that did not," he tells us:
The Gospel was not preached to all nations (Mk. 13.10)!
Actually, yes it was -- DOV chooses the Markan version, which is less specific than Matthew, which uses the word oikuemene denoting the Roman Empire. Mark never uses this word in his Gospel (though Revelaton does!). Contextually, then, and by the parallel, "nations" means those of Rome.
All the nations did not come against Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (Zech. 14.2)!
We haven't looked closely at Zechariah in these terms yet; however, offhand, if "nations" again means just those of Rome, then this did indeed happen as Roman forces composed of persons from around the Empire came against Jerusalem.
Half of the residents of Jerusalem were not led captive into all the world (Zech. 14.2; Lk. 21.24)!
Actually, they were. But we'll see that in more detail soon. Note as well that Luke uses "nations" with specific reference to the oikoumene (Luke 21:25-6).
Jerusalem was not trodden down by the nations (Gentiles) until the times of the nations were fulfilled (Lk. 21.24) -- a period of at least 42 months (Rev. 11.2)!
This is yet another bad exegesis -- there's no call at all to link the period of Luke 21:24 and Rev. 11:2 as being the same. On the 42 months see here. As for the time of the Gentiles, Jerusalem is of course still not wholly in Jewish hands, even if we could argue that the Jews of today are equal to the Judaens of yesteryear.
The Gospel was not preached to all the nations in the world. Even if you believe "all" refers to the nations in the Roman Empire the Gospel was not taken to all of them. It was not preached in all of the British Isles, France (Gaul), parts of Germany, North Africa and Libya.
That's a little presumptive. Tradition tells us that the Gospel reached these places before 70, and if it reached Rome by the early 40s then it made it over halfway there in less than half the time required. That response just won't cut the mustard.
All the nations of the world did not fight against Jerusalem in 70 A.D. unless you believe "all" refers to the nations of the Roman Empire.
We do, for reasons noted above.
Since the preterists claim YAHSHUA returned in 70 A.D. when General Titos [sic] took Jerusalem it was impossible for the residents of Jerusalem to be led captive into all the world (Zech. 14.2; Lk. 21.24; Rev. 11.2) before YAHSHUA returned!
Excuse me, but where does it say that the leading into captivity will be finished, and every man in place, before the parousia? None of these verses say, "They will be led into captivity, and THEN the return will happen." Not one of them, and not one says that every person intended for captivity will get in that state at the same time and before the parousia. This is just doesn't grasp that the ancients didn't always write with strict chronological order in mind.
And that's all we need to say. DOV is not a serious critic of preterism, despite the pretensions.