Preterism? Many notable scholars are coming out in favor of Preterism. Futurists are denouncing Preterism as heresy. Is it that serious of an issue? I will be devoting a series of posts to weighing the issues surrounding Preterism. I have come across a presentation of Preterism that seems reasonable and does not stray outside a certain set of boundaries, which is a good thing. Scot McKnight is a very respected theologian and blogger. His essay on Preterism is available on the web. Read about it here.
I think it is great that he left it in its original public lecture format. The reason being is that I have heard Scot speak publicly. He has a great sense of humor, and although he reads his papers word for word, it comes across as quite quaint, personable, and engaging. As I read through Scot’s essay, I can almost hear his tone of voice, see his sometimes silly grin, and know that the audience is fully enthralled with his delivery.
But what about the content? Does Scot present a good case for Preterism? Let’s examine Scot’s work and application of the scriptures. Hopefully Scot won’t mind, in fact, I’m sure he’ll appreciate the attention. If you don’t go and read Scot’s work as a whole, I will include just enough information for my posts to make sense. For the serious eschatology scholar, it would be good to read his entire work on the subject.
Scot’s style is really one of accounting his personal journey. So we read with great entertainment how he was raised a Fundamentalist, and therefore, like all good Fundamentalists, he was PreTrib. He then describes his time at college where he read Ladd’s The Blessed Hope and Gundry’s The Church and the Tribulation, which he wholeheartedly agreed with at that time. Note: this means he became PostTrib. He notes his discovery at seminary that most all professors and student peers were PostTrib. This did not carry over into the pulpits as they began to teach and preach. In Scot’s mind, they sold out not wanting to be controversial. But in the mind of seminary professors and students as a whole, the debate was settled. There was not going to be a PreTrib rapture.
Then Scot comes to the place where instead of "Catching the Wave", he is "Facing the Tsunami". Instead of the PreTrib versus PostTrib, is it Trib at all? He begins examining the idea of 70 A.D. fulfillment for all of Christ’s prophecies in the Olivet Discourse.
Scot then makes the assumption that a futuristic interpretation of the Olivet Discourse began only with the rise of Dispensationalism, which of course equates to the PreTrib rapture. So now Scot’s journey brings him to the place where he is lumping all futurists together as dispensationalists, and then refuting the position. He informs us that others term his position as Partial-Preterism and that it is linked closely with TransMillennialism [trademarked] (which in my view is just a new invention of Preterists trying to have their own Millennial position.) He notes that some may see his view as either Realized Eschatology or even the more controversial Consistent Eschatology, but I notice he avoids Ladd’s term of Inaugurated Eschatology, which I had thought that Scot was a kindred spirit with. To me this shows Scot’s desire to distance himself altogether from Futurism. And since these are Scot’s only comments concerning these terms, that’s where I will leave it as well.
There are at least two significant issues that I want to settle in separate posts before I get to the actual content of a Preterist versus Futurist interpretation of the Olivet Discourse. These may not seem like significant issues to you, but modern scholarship has taken quite a few turns in the past century. Before we can begin an honest to goodness dialogue between views, we need to be on common ground. The two issues are the Historical Jesus and Prophetic Tension. After posts on these issues, I hope to examine Scot’s views of the Olivet Discourse.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman