Jesus: A Preterist Or A Futurist? -- By: Richard L. Mayhue

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 14:1 (Spring 2003)
Article: Jesus: A Preterist Or A Futurist?
Author: Richard L. Mayhue

Jesus: A Preterist Or A Futurist?

Richard L. Mayhue

Senior Vice President and Dean

Professor of Pastoral Ministries and Theology

This essay examines Dr. R. C. Sproul’s thesis in The Last Days According to Jesus,1 that moderate preterism as it relates to Christ’s second coming is convincingly proven by three time-indicators in the Gospels2 and the writing date for John’s Revelation.3 The essay evaluates each of these four time referents historically and/or exegetically in order to determine if Sproul’s claims can be biblically substantiated. The three Matthean time-frame references have better alternative interpretations (both before and after A.D. 70) in regard to time of fulfillment than the A.D. 70 date, which preterism requires of all three. Also, the late writing date for Revelation (mid-90s) has the preponderance of evidence on its side; this one conclusion alone invalidates postmillennial preterism. Since these time-indicators that are critically important to the preterist position do not support the system’s foundational claim that Christ’s parousia occurred within the lifetime of His disciples, this reviewer4 concludes that Scripture does not teach preterism, moderate or otherwise, as claimed by Dr. Sproul. Therefore, Jesus was a futurist in regard to biblical prophecies of His second coming.

The English word “preterist” comes from the Latin term praeteritus which basically means “past” in regard to time. Thomas Ice explains that there are three types of preterists/preterism.

It is important to realize that there are three kinds of preterism that I have labeled as (1) mild; (2) moderate; and (3) extreme. 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. Moderate preterism, which is the position of Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., sees the Tribulation and the bulk of Bible prophecy as fulfilled in events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70; but they still hold to a future Second Coming, a physical resurrection of the dead, an end to temporal history, and the establishing of the consummate new heaven and new earth. 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 ...

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