What are the first steps in coming to Preterism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
On my journey in eschatology, I had heard about Preterism before. The sad reality is, I did not know what it was. I thought I knew, but I didn’t know. I remained convinced that Preterists believed that everything had happened in the first century and that there was no resurrection and no return of Jesus. I’d see Christians I know who would have defenses of Preterism and I would just wonder about it. “Why would they do that?”
It’s not uncommon. I had someone leave a comment here recently asking if I knew any Preterists who held to the creedal statements of the church, especially on doctrines like the future resurrection of Christians and the bodily resurrection of Jesus. I replied with what I now know to be the truth. All orthodox Preterists hold to those doctrines. That doesn’t make us partial-futurists. That makes us Christians.
This is also why I don’t call myself a partial Preterist. The idea of so-called Full Preterism is that everything has happened and I consider that a heresy since it can lead logically to the denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. I think it has to even. It doesn’t work to change the rule and say Jesus is the exception. If we are raised like He was raised, then we are either both spiritual or both physical.
I am not a partial heretic. It’s my stance that so-called Full Preterism is denying the physical resurrection of Jesus at least implicitly and thus puts us in the area of heresy. That is also a term I do not use lightly. Not once in all of this have I referred to dispensationalists who I disagree with incredibly as heretics. They are my fellow Christians, all things being equal.
I am an orthodox Preterist instead, and what really led to me embracing that? It happened back in 2006, a year I can easily find out since I am wearing a t-shirt now for TheologyWeb convention 2006. TheologyWeb is a site I help moderate on and have my own section on.
You can come here if you want to join. You can find sections for debating every area of theology, other religions, atheism and agnosticism, politics and history, as well as areas just to have fun. There’s also a Deeper Waters section where you can interact with other people on the material that I write here. People of all faiths and no faiths are welcome. Also, after you’re done signing up, your breath will feel minty fresh.
Anyway, at this convention, I did something unusual really. I joined in a talk where I sat down with two people who hold to Orthodox Preterism that they were giving and I listened and asked questions. What they said that I can remember, I will try to explain in future posts, but I want to get to this part first off.
If you want to know about a position, one of the best ways to do so is to just talk to someone who is informed on the position and holds it and ask honest questions. It’s easy to think the worst of your intellectual opponents at times. Generally, there’s a rule that if you can make a position look absolutely ridiculous, you probably haven’t understood it.
Years ago, TheologyWeb had a section for remedial Christian teachings where I would answer questions. Now what if someone wanted to hear an answer from the dispensational position? This was an easy chance for me if I wanted to take it to come up with an answer to make dispensationalism look really stupid and thus get more people to Preterism.
Never took it. Instead, I would find a well-informed dispensationalist that while I disagreed with, I knew had studied the issue, and asked them to give the best answer from their position. I want people to have informed opinions.
This works politically too. I remember reading a story and I think it was about Matt Damon about how he went and interacted with several Trump voters somewhere. He walked away saying “Those people really aren’t the way that I thought they were.” Now that doesn’t mean he went and put on a MAGA hat, but he did at least understand their reasoning.
The sad reality for me is I could have cut off years of time in my search if I had just done this. I just always assumed I knew what was meant by Preterism and what a shock to find out that I didn’t. That is why I say when I entered that talk, I was doubtful, but when I left, I had enough questions answered and no remaining doubts strong enough to overcome the conclusion that the Preterist position had the best arguments.
So over the next few posts, we’ll be talking about those arguments. For this one, I just want to encourage you to really listen to someone about a viewpoint. Ask questions, but try not to be antagonistic. Consider this a fact-finding mission, like being a detective. Maybe you’ll change your mind. Even if you don’t, you’ll at least have a better idea of what you disagree with and a better idea of why the other person holds what they hold.
Give it a try.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)