Monday, June 27, 2011

Ain't Got Answers to This One

One thing I have become accustomed to as a preterist is having folks misunderstand what I believe as a preterist. I've been mistaken for being a heretical "full" preterist; I've been told I don't believe Jesus will return, and so on. There's a bit of that going on, too, in an article at the apologetics website gotquestions.org (which ordinarily I think is pretty sound, if not complete at times) in an article titled, "Question: Is partial preterism biblical? What do partial preterists believe?"

The answer starts with an accurate description in the first paragraph, but then immediately goes downhill:

However, the partial preterist view does not have good biblical support. Those who hold this view do not interpret these Scripture passages/books in a normal sense, but rather interpret them allegorically. Scripture should be read in a normal sense, taking into account the historical setting, the grammar, and the context of the Scripture in order to determine the meaning that the Lord intended.

Um, hold on a second.

Actually, no: My preterist views do take into account historical setting, grammar, and context. What's actually happening here is a problem I have run into with many errant believers, and not just with preterism: The problem is that their set of "contexts" isn't as informed or as extensive as mine. In short, calling their interpretive views "normal" is like a 98 lb weakling calling himself "average" and then calling a 200 lb weightlifter a freak.

But in terms of showing preterist interpretation wrong, the site doesn't do what I'd call a bang-up job. Only two passages are discussed, from Daniel 9 and Matthew 24. It starts by saying that preterists "would say that Daniel 9:26-27 refers to Christ rather than to the antichrist/beast who will appear in Revelation," which poses a problem for me only inasmuch as I "would not" say that -- I'd say the Roman Empreror Vespasian filled that bill; Jesus would be my second choice, but only in the sense that he is using Rome's armies to judge Israel. I imagine some preterists may think Jesus is the guy in 9:26-7, but I don't, so there's not a whole lot I can say in reply.

However, the site offers the sort of contrivance that can only come from dispensational reckonings:

Verse 26 also says, "The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary." This speaks of the Roman Empire destroying Jerusalem and the temple, which occurred in A.D. 70. It should be noted that the prince was yet to come; only the people of the prince were the ones who destroyed Jerusalem. This also tells us that the antichrist/beast will come from a future revived Roman Empire.

Er -- it does? How? Since they have just said it was fulfilled in 70, why should we think it has anything to do with a "future revived Roman Empire"? This begs the question of double fulfillment -- and therefore admits that this verse by itself doesn't support the dispensational paradigm. Verse 27 is likewise plotted for future use, and again, preterists are dismissed for making the beast into Jesus. Sorry -- I don't follow that one. (For what I do follow, see link below.)

The example from Matthew 24 doesn't hit home any closer. It is said, "in order for the events of
Matthew 24:15-30 to have already occurred, Christ would have returned bodily in A.D. 70." Really? Why? Unfortunately, why this is the case is not explained, much less is any serious preterist exegesis (like mine -- see second link below) interacted with. This, actually, is a classic example of a dispensationlist missing a context that I don't. Particularly, the strong use of imagery in language, and the dramatic orientation, of Biblical peoples. The key textbook for this is Caird's Language and Imagery of the Bible -- but these guys haven't read it yet; what they prefer is what they call a "normal reading of the text."

No, sorry --inadequately informed does not equal "normal". The article also mentions that preterists take "this generation" to mean those living at the time of Jesus, but doesn't explain why that is not correct, rather only presenting the dispensational view.

The charge in close: "The partial preterist viewpoint is unbiblical due to its inconsistent hermeneutics, subjective interpretation, and allegorization of many biblical prophecies that are best understood literally." Well, sadly, of those three charges, they didn't bother to try to prove #1 above, and #2 and #3 are really two ways of saying the same thing -- and while an attempt was made to validate that charge, it was based on a lack of knowledge of an important context. So in the end, when it says, "partial preterism is an attempt to explain difficult prophecies in Scripture, it causes far more problem than it solves," I can believe it -- in the same way it can be said that when you have a flat tire, you'll always think removing the engine block "causes far more problems than it solves."


Daniel

Olivet



1 comment:

  1. In an ironic note, Got Questions was how I found tectonics.org. At one point, this was 4 or 5 years ago, they had it listed on their apologetics page.
    -Reagan

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