A Critique of the Preterist View of the Olivet Discourse -- By: Stanley D. Toussaint
BSac 161:644 (Oct 2004) p. 469
A Critique of the Preterist View of the Olivet Discourse
Stanley D. Toussaint is Senior Professor Emeritus of Bible Exposition, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.
In recent years an increasing number of people have accepted the belief that many of the prophecies in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24–25 were fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The word “preterism,” which describes this view and related views concerning the Book of Revelation, comes from two Latin words praeter, “beyond,” and ire, “to go.” Preterism looks at certain biblical predictions as having already been fulfilled. This article discusses and critiques the views of preterists on the Olivet Discourse.
As Ice writes, “It would be an overstatement to characterize the popularity of preterism as even approaching the dominance of futurism within American evangelicalism at the close of the twentieth century. On the other hand, preterism has seen significant growth from hundreds of advocates to thousands.”1 He describes three forms of preterism—mild, moderate, and extreme.2 He states, “Mild preterism holds that the Tribulation was fulfilled within the first three hundred years of Christianity as God judged two enemies: the Jews in A.D. 70 and Rome by A.D. 313; but adherents still look for a future Second Coming.”3 They see the Book of Revelation fulfilled in the downfall of Israel as a nation and the overthrow of pagan Rome.
“Extreme or consistent (as they like to call themselves) preterism believes that the Second Coming, and thus the resurrection of believers, is all past. For all practical purposes all Bible
BSac 161:644 (Oct 2004) p. 470
prophecy has been fulfilled, and we are beyond the millennium and even now in the new heaven and new earth. They believe that if there is an end of current history it is not recorded in the Bible.”4 This “consistency” leads to the conclusion that the Second Coming occurred in A.D. 70. Therefore there will be no bodily resurrection; believers have already been spiritually resurrected and at death will live eternally with spiritual bodies. This viewpoint denies the future second coming of Christ and the future bodily resurrection of believers and unbelievers.
“Moderate preterism sees the Tribulation and the bulk of Bible prophecy as fulfilled in events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem an...
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