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What is the "preterist" view of the book of Revelation?

Are you a person who is concerned with getting to the heart of the truth on difficult biblical passages such as those concerning eschatology?

A few years ago, I produced a video (now on DVD) that explores the preterist view of the book of Revelation. This presentation continues to have a shelf life in that more and more people are turning to this view as they see false predictions related to the dispensationalist view of the End Times fall flat.

The Beast of Revelation: Identified
is the best primer on the preterist view available on DVD.

People who like to debate eschatology are those who have their minds made up and are passionate about a particular view. People who don’t like these arguments are usually those with an untenable view or one they find impossible to articulate. Even so, no two “experts” have the same view on the Book of Revelation. That doesn’t mean, however, that there is not a consistently correct view that may be understood. It just means that we need to work harder at it.

The heretical view of preterism can be distinguished from partial preterism in that the latter suggests that many of the prophecies of scripture are fulfilled, but obviously some have yet to come. When I speak off preterism, I am speaking of the “partial” preterist view. Futurism is the “end-times” view of prophecy, while preterism is literally the “before-times” view.

A quick web search will give you the basics. Beware though that some of the information is written by “full” or “consistent” preterists, a view that is seriously deficient in many respects, the main heresy being the denial of the Second Coming of Jesus. The partial preterist view is orthodox in terms of looking with a joyful hope in the bodily Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

John Calvin wrote a preterist commentary on Daniel. I post this at my Daniel website.

Most theologians until the rise of dispensationalism (1800s and 1900s) held a preterist view of Matthew 24 — the so-called Olivet Discourse. R.C. Sproul in his book, The Last Days According to Jesus, outlines this viewpoint.

Preterism has always been a minority view of the church in interpreting the book of Revelation — there are some ancient writers who refer to Nero as the “beast of Revelation 13” but it is only in a cursory manner. The fully developed preterist view did not come until after the Reformation when the Bible proliferated in the 1500s and afterward.

I find this strange because Revelation is the “capstone” of other biblical prophecies found in Daniel and Matthew 24. It is inconsistent to interpret Daniel and the Olivet Discourse as having taken place by the time of AD 70, but then place events that are described in Revelation in similar language at the end of human history. A correct view will interpret scripture with similar passages of scripture.

With regards to the book of Revelation, the modern primers on preterism are the writings of David Chilton and Ken Gentry. They draw most of their material from several authors of the late 1800s. You can get the PDF files of all their books for FREE at: http://freebooks.com/

There are other “primers” on preterism. I wrote one as part of the Rebuttal to Amillennialism in my book, The Four Keys to the Millennium.

Comments

Your comments are welcome!

I'll have to do some more reading into the preterist argument, as the material that you have listed is really interesting. I've always been somewhat passive/apathetic about the events that are to unfold (or already have unfolded?) in the Revelation account.
While I think Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry makes some good points about Revelation events that may have already taken account, there are so many dramatic, remarkable events in book of Revelation, such as accounts of the stars darkening, large portions of fish dying in the seas, rocks falling from heaven, etc, etc, that it's difficult to imagine that this was all completely symbolic of past events.

On the other side, I've long considered it silly how some denominations have the "end time" dates and events figured out to a specific year/hour/minute/second at a specific location globally. That just doesn't seem right to me.

Regardless of the viewpoint, the thing I consider notable about Revelation is that right in vs. 1:3, that comment about "blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it." I think there are definitely blessings to receive from studying deeper into Revelation.

Posted by December Sun Blog on 09/11/2006 02:56 PM #

What you are saying in effect is that this cataclysmic language in Revelation cannot be symbolic.

Some of this language is symbolic, but some calamities actually happened during the great tribulation (AD 67 to 70) during the seige of Jerusalem.

Do you think that the book of Revelation predicts a future world full of sea beasts, dragons, harlots, four faced beasts, horses with riders -- or are these symbolic of the nations, people and spiritual forces at the time of the writing?

Most would interpret these symbols as the latter. Why is it then a stretch to say that the natural calamities in the book of Revelation are also symbolic?

Consider Peter's quote of the prophet Joel in Acts 2:

"But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:14-21).

Peter says clearly that the prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost early in the first century. If the prophecy is past tense, then what do you do with the cataclysmic language:

"And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood."

This all sounds as if the great and terrible day of the Lord is still to come as some future cataclysmic event, but Peter says: "This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel." All of this happened on the day of Pentecost.

Signs in the heavens in biblical language (and in all the ancient world) were signs of kingdoms being overthrown. The star of Bethlehem signaled the birth of a new king to pagan astrologers. Likewise the stars falling to earth (literal stars cannot fall to earth) signify that "the Kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ."

Posted by Jay Rogers on 09/11/2006 06:10 PM #

There are 10 times as many expositors who believed progressive historical interpretation of Revelation as all the other views together. This began with Geneva Bib le, 1560 and continued until "The Great Apostasy" (Rev 20.7) in 1959.
sidwms@gmail.com

Posted by sidwms on 09/04/2008 07:24 PM #

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