Futurism is an eschatological view that interprets the Book of Revelation, Daniel, and all other prophecies dealing with future end time events in a literal, apocalyptic, and face value context. Other forms of eschatological views, such as preteristism interpret these passages as past events in a symbolic and historic context, and approach eschatology in a non-literal and spiritual textual manner. The dividing line between Futurist and Preterist is futurist assign most of prophecy as yet future, just prior to the Second Coming of Christ while Preterist view all of prophecy as fulfilled in A.D. 70.
In response to the preterist, if they are correct in their theory, the future from A.D. 70 to the present and beyond is unwritten as Thomas Ice states:
“If preterism is true, especially full preterism, then we are already at the end of history and don’t++ really know where it is headed. If preterism is true, then the New Testament was written primarily to believers who lived during the 40-year period between the death of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Therefore, virtually no part of the New Testament applies to believers today, according to preterist logic. There is no canon that applies directly to believers during the current age.”1
This means the Church has been drifting in uncharted waters for two Millennium having an unconventional future. Modern preteristism is a blend of Reconstructionism with charismatic extremism and is the root of Kingdom Now Theology. In their view, today we are witnessing a “new” charismatic age of the Holy Spirit that would establish a new religious order.2 Dominionism and Kingdom Now Theology with its radical views of Preterism and Reconstructionism are simply designed to seduce the Church into trusting in the strength of the flesh (Jer. 17:5), to trust in this life and in the New Apostolic Agenda.
And what exactly is the New Apostolic Agenda? It is the Christianization of the world resulting in the progressive and ultimate triumph of the Church over the seven Cultural Mountains (Arts & Entertainment; Business; Education; Family; Government; Media; and Religion). In their opinion, the church is not to expect an increasing apostasy as the end of the age draws near but should expect the increasing Christianization of the world.3
Theologically, the Social Gospellers seek to operationalize the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:10): “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” They are postmillennialist who believe Jesus Christ established His kingdom on earth in the first century and now empowers the Church to disciple all nations (Matt. 28:19). Their goal is to immanentize the eschaton to bring about the final heavenly stage of history. Of sorts, they believe they can “make that which belongs to the eternal happen here on Earth.”
There are some Futurist who purpose a prophetic progression from the historic now to the eschatological future, men such as Ron Wallace, Jacob Prasch, and Barry E. Horner. They teach Matthew 24 takes us from the perspective of pre-AD 70 to post-AD 70 to the future apocalyptic return of Christ, with various degrees that is. For instance, Ron Wallace teaches that Matthew 24:4-8 are pre-apocalyptic, playing out during the course of the Church age. Jacob Prasch, while mainly PreWrath, leans to dispensationalism seeing the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 as periods of time throughout the church age culminating with the church in Laodicea. Barry E. Horner see’s all of Matthew 24 as a progression from the pre-70 era to a latter eschatological era. In other words, all elements listed in Matthew 24 are present in all generations leading up to the final conflagration of God’s Wrath. Others like myself view Matthew 24 through a proleptic lens, that is, a near/far lens, a first and last generation view, seeing a relationship between the first generation and the last generation. Some of what Christ taught in the Olivet Discourse was fulfilled in AD 70 (Matt. 24:1-2) while most remains unfulfilled until the parousia of Christ and the Eschatological Day of the Lord. In my mind when you consider Matthew 24 grammatically, the events are in secession to one another and are eschatological in nature. The hinge point is found in Matthew 24:3 between, “…when will these things be (and) what will be the sign of your coming?” “These things” referring to the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 while the sign of His coming is eschatological. However, unlike many others, I see a progression of apostasy building up to the main event which opens the way to the revealing of the man of sin (2 Thess. 2:3-10).
Hermeneutics, the key to interpretation
As already mentioned, modern preterist form what is known as reconstructionism who believe they can reconstruct society according to New Testament principles and the Law of Moses resulting in a golden age of prosperity that will “in time” lead to the return of Christ after this golden age. However, to arrive at such a conclusion, prophetic Scripture is approached with an allegorical and Spiritualized method of interpretation. As a result, for example, they are proponents of what is called replacement theology. The promises given to Israel now belong to the church and a Millennium Kingdom comprised primarily of Jewish believers will never occur.
The errors of Reconstructionism, Replacement Theology, Hyper-Preterism, Post Millennialism and Kingdom Now/Dominion Theology cannot be stressed strong enough, all are an over-realized Eschatology. Major problems exist with the view of replacement theology, such as the continuing existence of the Jewish people throughout the centuries and especially with the revival of the modern state of Israel. If Israel has been condemned by God, and there is no future for the Jewish nation, how do we explain the supernatural survival of the Jewish people over the past 2000 years despite the many attempts to destroy them? How do we explain why and how Israel reappeared as a nation in the 20th century after not existing for 1900 years.
“Replacement Theology” can be paraphrased as such: “Israel has been replaced by the Christian Church, so the promises and prominent position once held by God’s chosen people are now held exclusively by the Church.” Scripture clearly teaches Gentile believers are grafted into the vine of Israel. (Rom 11:17-21) There is no replacement.
By now you can see the many pitfalls that arise from the preterist view. Without exception, every time you Spiritualize and or Allegorize Scripture, error is always the final outcome. Opposite the allegorical and Spiritualized method of interpretation are those who take a literal approach to prophecy, those who believe the Lord will rapture His people before He unleashes His wrath upon an unrepentant world, followed by a literal thousand-year millennial reign of Christ on earth. So on the contrary, without exception, every time you use a literal (face value) method of interpretation you always achieve harmony. The final outcome of a literal method of interpretation will always be sound doctrine!
Let me give you an example at how grossly some wrest the Word of God to forward their preterist agenda:
“There is a new move of God, with new mindsets, leading to cultural transformation. Our eschatology is working against our ecology. What we believe about the end effects the way we treat the planet. Cities and nations are being restored, as it becomes “on earth as it is in heaven.” Chris Vallotton
Notice it is a “new move of God,” with a “new mindset” that is leading to a cultural transformation according to Vallotton. Where is this taught in the New Testament? Where is this taught anywhere in Scripture? It’s not! He’s wrong on two points in the first sentence alone, nowhere is it stated that God moves in a new way which in turn causes us to acquire a new way of thinking. This is the first problem, secondly, in Eschatology, as found in the Scripture, there is never a hint of cultural transformation, it’s just not a New Testament teaching.
We are in a dissolving world and it is impossible to reform the world. Luke 17 reads, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives…until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came…” I disagree entirely with the “social and cultural mandate” to Christianize the world through political and social means. You cannot Christianize the world, the end time is going to be like the time of the Flood, the condition of the modern world proves that we must preach more than ever, “Escape from the wrath to come.”
e time of the Flood, the condition of the modern world proves that what we must preach more than ever is “Escape from the wrath to come!”… e time of the Flood, the condition of the modern world proves that what we must preach more than ever is “Escape from the wrath to come!”But hold on, it gets worse! According to Vallotton, our eschatology is working against our ecology, what we believe about the end effects the way we treat the planet. What I want to know is, what planet are you from Chris? It must be nice for these guys to have their heads stuck in the clouds where they see the world through rose colored glasses because the last time I checked our Cities and nations are not being restored. Quite the opposite, our world is coming apart at the seams, society is un-raveling at an exponential rate. But now here’s the kicker, Vallotton ties all this together with a partial verse, and miss quoted it to boot, “as it becomes on earth as it is in heaven.” Here is where he totally distorts and Wrest the Scripture. You see, Matthew 6:10 says; “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Christ’s kingdom will only be realized when Christ Himself sits on His earthly throne in His Millennial Kingdom, exactly as the Scripture says.
Without a biblical foundation you have no foundation and are standing on quicksand. When one substitutes the literal sense of the Scripture for a deeper spiritual meaning they always come up short. Too often those spiritualizing and or allegorizing Scripture interpret it to suit their own bias rather than accepting the clear intent of the biblical writer. Only when you interpret Scripture with a face value hermeneutic is the confusion expelled and truth is established. As Robert Van Kampen says: “If the plain sense makes sense, you have the right sense.” “The text must be understood at face value, in its most natural, normal, customary sense, making allowance for obvious figures of speech, its context, and all other passages of Scripture dealing with the same issue. When in doubt, let Scripture interpret Scripture! Once the common denominator is found that harmonizes all the passages, without contradiction, then we have truth, but not before. And once we have truth, that truth stands in judgment of us; never do we dare stand in judgment of it!”4
The Preterist Diorama
Preterism can be understood as a narrow miniature three-dimensional spectacle. First is their compression of New Testament prophecy into the pre-70 AD generation. Second is their single-minded understanding of Matthew 24:34. And third is their rudimentary conjecture of an early date for the writing of the book of Revelation. These three are the gest of their foundational credo which are seriously flawed and when compared to Scripture from a face value approach is found doctrinally inadequate lacking any Scriptural support.
So the question which arises is, from a Biblical perspective, is Matthew 24:34 speaking of the first generation to which Jesus is speaking to, or to the generation living at the end of the age? The answer lays with one’s hermeneutical method of interpretation of the context. If you’re a preterist, you interpret Eschatological text from a symbolic and historic context, approaching Scripture with an allegorical mentality. However, this method is always faulty leading to error. Others interpret Eschatological texts from a face-value approach to which we will briefly look at three different but similar views.
Dual Fulfilment or Near/Far Prophecy
Some prophecies have their complete fulfilment in the long term, but in the short term there is a partial fulfilment in events which are types of the complete fulfilment. The near far fulfillment nature and character of biblical prophecy is the view accepted by many that speaks of an event in the near future of the life of the prophet or the nation while at the same time speaking of an event and fulfillment in the eschatological future. The prophesied event soon to be fulfilled is a type and pattern for a later and more exhaustive eschatological fulfillment.
In the Olivet Discourse there is the overlapping fulfilment of short-term and long-term elements, such as the siege of Jerusalem, Antiochus Epiphanes, the destruction of the second Temple by Titus Flavius are only partial fulfilment of Matthew 24.
Midrash is a Jewish Hermeneutic which simply means to “enquire into.” For example, looking at John chapters one through three the Jewish interpreter sees a parallel relationship between the Scriptural narrative of these three chapters and the Genesis account of creation in Genesis chapters one through three. The Jewish interpreter reads Scripture exegetically seeing the meaning of a word and the context as important, but also looks for a consistent theme or pattern to explain it in Scripture.
With the Midrash method of interpretation there are many types or shadows, but one ultimate fulfillment. Jewish prophecy is made up of patterns, one Scripture interprets another and all must fit together as a whole. Revelation chapter 13 presents the Antichrist and his image, historically, Antiochus Epiphanes partially fulfilled this in 168 B.C. when he sacrificed pits on the altar in the Temple and set up an image of Zeus, yet in Matthew 24 we see Jesus teaching that it was going to happen again, eschatologically. In fact, historically, there have been many Antichrist who have appeared in history, but Scripture teaches one Antichrist personified in the end times. Much of what is Biblically Prophetic is witnessed in history but serves as a type of the final ultimate fulfillment. The Preteristic approach to eschatology and those holding to the Dominion Theology position among hyper-Charismatics that the Olivet Discourse was totally fulfilled in AD 70 along with the prophetic predictions of the Book of Revelation is easily dismissed by the plain teaching of Jesus and its context.
What happened in AD 70 was realized in Antiochus Epiphanes but will also be consummated in the Antichrist personified eschatologically. It is true as Jesus taught it in the Olivet Discourse, it is also true in the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation.
A proleptic expression is the representation of a thing as existing in the now before it actually occurs. It speaks of a future event as happening in the present;
“Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are one.”
The Lord Jesus anticipated His return to His Father and prayed as if He had already gone. Proleptic expressions simply show the link between the present and the future and are frequently employed in Scripture. Much of Prophetic Scripture is proleptic, meaning future events described in Scripture are resigned to a period earlier than the actual one, it’s the representation of something in the future as if it already existed or had occurred;
“Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Therefore, all hands will be limp, every man’s heart will melt, and they will be afraid. Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; They will be amazed at one another; Their faces will be like flames. Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth and the moon will not cause its light to shine.”
What was Isaiah prophesying? In his historical present it was that the Medes were about to put an end to the glories of the Babylonian Empire. But there is partial truth here with regard to the historic present, what was left out concerning the eschatological future is what makes a vital difference. Verse 10 is quoted in Matthew 24:29 and was not part of the localized judgment of a world power that existed in Isaiah’s day. Its significance concerns the eschatological future, far beyond that of Christ’s day to the end of the age.
“Draw near, O nations, to hear; and listen, O peoples! Let the earth and all it contains hear, and the world and all that springs from it. For the LORD’S indignation is against all the nations, and His wrath against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to slaughter. So their slain will be thrown out, and their corpses will give off their stench, and the mountains will be drenched with their blood. And all the host of heaven will wear away, and the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; all their hosts will also wither away as a leaf withers from the vine, or as one withers from the fig tree.”
Clearly we have here a declaration of God’s wrath and prospective judgment against the nations that surely to date have not known fulfillment. Yet verse 2 proleptically declares “For the LORD’S indignation is against all the nations, and His wrath against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to slaughter.” Here this divine intervention is spoken of as having been accomplished, the reason being that its eventual fulfillment is certain.5
In other words, proleptic expressions within eschatological context simply means its eventual fulfillment is certain. It is, the very essence of our faith! As believers, we walk in the present “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). This then evolves into believers living in the future, presently. We live having a proleptic existence.
Having a “proleptic existence” signifies a spiritual orientation determined by the anticipation (proleptic) of the future Coming of Christ, His Milliennial Kingdom, and a new heaven and new earth. Let me give you a few examples:
Abraham lived with a proleptic existence, he demonstrated his faith by living in obedience to God’s Promises, leaving his Native Land in Ur and journeying to an unknown land, living many years in the Promised Land as a foreigner, yet never himself saw God’s promise fulfilled but looked beyond this life “waiting for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10). In fact, all of the Patriarchs of Faith never received the promises, but saw them afar off.
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13).
Even Moses, who…”By faith, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26).
Moses lived in a proleptic existence, “for he looked to the reward.” The word “looked” in the Greek is apoblepo, and literally means “to look away from everything else in order to look intently on one object.” He looked toward a messianic future. That’s the kind of faith I want to walk in! Understanding this makes Hebrews 11:1 so much clearer, it is the future Messianic Kingdom which is the substance of things hoped for, it is the evidence of things not seen. We are to look so intently to the Coming of Christ everything else in this life becomes of no significance.
In a strange way, both the world and Christianity is heading in the same direction, let me explain. The world today is looking for a coming transformation, a higher plain of existence for humanity. Christianity also looks for the coming of Christ where in the resurrection we put on immortality. The world believes they can provide a sustainable and healthy society through technology such as genetics, life extension, stem cell research and nanotechnology. The difference is, one is the truth, the other a lie. One is reality, the other a pipe dream. One is God and His Promises, the other is man. One is God, the other wants to be god. A.W. Tozer said it so eloquently when he said; “(A) reason for the absence of real yearning for Christ’s Return is that Christians are so comfortable in this world they have little desire to leave it.” It is this reason that preterist fail in their attempt to interpret eschatological texts. Mankind since the fall has always strived for immortality outside of the confines of God’s Sovereignty, a thing only obtainable within the provisions of God’s Sovereignty. We must with all earnestness heed the words of Scripture;
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” ~ Col. 3:1-4
It is the power of the Gospel which preps us for the future, it is the life-changing power of the gospel which draws our attention and affection towards heavenly things, which we are now identified with Christ in death to this life and empowered for the future by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We carry within our bodies the seed of resurrection life in Christ only to be revived through the death of this flesh. The two most astounding truths of the New Testament is summed up in this, “Christ came and will come again.”
- Thomas Ice, “Some Practical Dangers of Preterism,” Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, The End Times Controversy, pp. 420‐421, 426.
- James Jacob Prasch, “The Dilemma of Laodicea,” pp.117-118
- David Chilton, Paradise Restored: An Eschatology of Dominion, p. 225.
- Robert Van Kampen, “The Rapture Qustion Answered Plain and Simple; p.32
- Barry E. Horner PDF “The Olivet Discourse” Matthew 24, Futurism and Preterism. P.14-15
Notes 1,3,5 were taking from Barry E. Horner’s PDF “The Olivet Discourse” Matthew 24, Futurism and Preterism.