AD70 Storyline Fundamentally Different from Historical Christianity
By Todd Dennis
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures”
The battle lines in the preterist movement are as clearly drawn as they have ever been. The key distinction is between “AD30 Preterism” and “AD70 Preterism”. AD30 Preterism is completely orthodox in its historical Christian orientation, and is often called Partial Preterism. AD70 Preterism has no historical Christian orientation aside from 19th Century Universalism, and is often called Full Preterism. AD30 Preterism focuses on the events surrounding Calvary, seeing this as the period of arrival for redemption in Jesus Christ. AD70 Preterism focuses on the events surrounding the fall of Herod’s Temple, seeing this as the period of arrival for redemption in Jesus Christ.
Though many of the finer points of AD70 Preterism can be displayed in detail, doing so can often be hard to understand for those unstudied in biblical theology.
As with currency, the best way to spot the counterfeit is to know the genuine article very well. And so, perhaps the easiest way to show just how different this error is from the entire scope of historical Christianity is to point out the view’s vastly different storyline. Throughout Christian history, the focal point for the total revelation of New Covenant redemption has always been the cross of Jesus Christ. This is the genuine article.
Most Christians are probably aware that the removal of separation between man and God is a gift revealed in its fullness by Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. These same people may be surprised to hear that, according to AD70 Preterism, the cross of Jesus Christ was insufficient for this purpose, and needed to be augmented by the fall of the Jewish temple 40 years later. So far as I know, every outlet of this doctrine endorses the view that the the fall of Jerusalem in AD70 was the “consummation of the ages” event that removed the separation between man and God.
Not until forty years following the cross, it is taught, was the New Covenant finally established in its fullness, and the separation between man and God removed. This is the counterfeit.
The teaching that the New Covenant wasn’t in its full establishment until long after the cross event shows how AD70 Preterism is fundamentally different from Christianity as it has always been known. This “AD70 storyline” is foreign to the Bible, and to Christianity as a whole throughout all of its centuries and denominations. Only the Universalists of the last 200 years have embraced this type of AD70-centrism.
“IT IS FINISHED”
When the life of Jesus was draining away on the cross, He Himself noted that the redemptive work had been accomplished in saying “it is finished”. John 19:30‘s word for “It is finished” (Tetelestai), comes from the verb teleo, means “to complete, to accomplish” (as all preterists know). The parsing of this Greek verb shows that it is only this sacrificial death of Jesus which saves, and that nothing else can be added to that finished accomplishment.
“The word occurs in John 19:28 and 19:30 and these are the only two places in the New Testament where it occurs. In 19:28 it is translated, “After this, when Jesus knew that all things were now completed, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, he said, ‘I thirst.’” Two verses later, he utters the word himself: “Then when he received the sour wine Jesus said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (bible.org)
Though this view tends to diminish the meaning of the cross and Jesus’ declaration prior to His sacrificial death (which diminishment in itself serves as a litmus test for error), it was of the utmost significance. In fact, in order to maintain continuity with Christianity, it must remain the central focus. To diminish the centrality of the cross for redemptive accomplishment is to fundamentally alter the message that has been handed down and delivered throughout all generations.
To diminish the cross event is not just a small matter of end times disagreement; Rather, it is an attack on the very foundations of Christianity.
Undoubtedly to underscore the central focus and total accomplishment of God’s redemptive purposes, God in His Sovereignty tore the “veil of separation” that hung inside the Jewish temple. Undeniably, this signified the ceasing of separation between God and man, through the cross of Jesus Christ.
This event was also attended by other signs and wonders — all given, Christianity teaches, to segregate the cross event as the most significant moment in world history. And yet, to listen to the presentation of this view, it was AD70 that was the most significant moment in redemptive history. See Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:28; 26:28.
In my honest opinion, this is gross heresy which is worthy to be vigorously opposed. It is certainly as bad – if not much worse – than the Dispensationalist teaching that animal sacrifices will be re-instituted in a salvation-sense in a rebuilt temple!
WAY INTO HOLIEST OF ALL PRIOR TO AD70
And so, in short:
Instead of fixing upon the “it is finished” declaration of Jesus, AD70 Preterism demands another 40 years before believers were allowed to enter “within the veil”.
Paul, in Hebrews 8-10, makes a rock solid case that access into the holiest places were already then a present reality in Jesus Christ. In many forms he refers to the good things which have come in Jesus, with absolutely no reference to more work that needed to be done in order to accomplish the redemptive work of God.
Only through a horribly mangled usage of Hebrews 9:8 and 28 (grandly mistaking not only the meanings of “the way”, “made manifest”, “first”, “tabernacle”, “had standing”, and “unto salvation”, but also the very intent of the entire verse, chapter, and book!) is this AD70-centrist view able to to support the devilish doctrine of the non-occurrence of prophecy at the cross.
In Hebrews, Paul was looking back to things that had already been fulfilled in the fall of the GREATER TEMPLE – not something future depending on the fall of the LESSER TEMPLE. (Lesson: In the Bible, the “lesser” points to what is accomplished in the “greater”, and not the other way around)
There are many essential differences between the narrative storyline of AD70 Preterism and that of Christianity. These are just two of the profoundly divergent story lines between the standard held by hyper preterism (AD70) and that held by the entire scope of historical Christianity (the CROSS).
And even though, through ignorance of what is being taught or through the old debater’s trick called “misdirection”, certain ones who embrace this view may claim that AD70 isn’t really the focal point of their doctrine, all evidence points to the contrary.
One of the most revealing comments ever given by a (now former) teacher of this view is that their form of “Preterism is an interpretive system that is locked on the events of 66-70 A.D.” (Frost)
Even without such a claim, all one has to do is listen and read to the bulk of materials coming from the movement. The basis and total thrust of all such preterist evangelism is the fall of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple.
The fall of Jerusalem is very often noted as the focal point for the actual full start of the New Covenant “Age to Come” era. (I am not accusing these men of diminishing the cross; rather, I am saying that the doctrine being taught diminishes the cross. These are not bad people, this is just bad doctrine. Please note the difference. These quotes are given fully in good faith.)
Don Preston – “The New Day fully came in 70 AD when Jesus returned in judgment of the Old World of Darkness and brought the New Day of Salvation. The Day has come.”
Michael Sartori – “I would contend that the O/C passed away in AD70 and the N/C commenced in AD70, at the destruction of Jerusalem. “
Though many others could be added, I would like to turn attention specifically to the Most Holy Place, and the teaching that entrance was not given until 40 years after the cross of Jesus Christ.
Despite the demand of AD70 Preterism, entrance into the Holiest of All was not dependent upon AD70, but upon the self sacrifice of Christ, who is the anti-type to all the Old Testament shadows of the centrality of the offering. It is this point, in particular, which reveals how the one foundational error yields others. Notice how this issue is so fundamental to this theology:
William Bell – “We all know when it fell, in A.D.70! Entrance into the Most Holy is a blessing of the “age to come.” Entrance was opened up at the fall of the temple. Therefore, the blessings of the “age to come” were opened up or received at the fall of the temple, specifically ETERNAL LIFE!“
Ward Fenley – “Paul saw such importance in the holiest of all that he could with full assurance declare that while they were still out of the holiest of all they were STILL in the OC body of death, from which Paul was longing to be delivered.. What Paul was declaring in Romans 8 is that without the complete salvation and growth of the first century church AS A WHOLE, there would be no complete salvation, for God promised He would SAVE HIS people from their sins.”
“The promise of God to give His people a new heart and a new spirit and to cause them to walk in His laws through the righteousness of Christ was finally initiated at Pentecost by the Spirit. This was ultimately consummated at the Parousia of Christ when He returned at the destruction of the Jewish Temple and nation and brought to completion the Heavenly Jerusalem, the church, the body of Christ. Since that time the elect of God are given faith and regenerated by the presence of God in their hearts.”
“The ministration of righteousness, the N.C. kingdom, was exceeding in glory while the ministration of death, the O.C. kingdom, was diminishing in glory. In fact, though the literal veil was torn in two at the crucifixion of Christ, the actual veil of spiritual death was still upon the elect unsaved Jews, but was in the process of being done away as the remnant according to the election of grace were believing in Christ. Not only this, but for those who were believers, the veil was in the process of being removed as they had not yet entered into the holiest of holies.”
Again, these claims of the non-occurrence of prophecy regarding entrance into the Most Holy goes directly against Paul’s explicit testimony to the contrary in Hebrews 10:
“19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God..”
F.F. Bruce and C.H. Spurgeon are quoted now, not in support of this historical Christian view (which needs no proof), but just as an expression of it:
Bruce: “He who, by “virtue of his own blood, entered the holy place once for all” (9:11) has procured for his people equal right of entry there by means of that same blood – that is, on the ground of his accepted sacrifice.” (Hebrews, p.250)
Spurgeon: “Did not the miracle also mean that from that hour the whole system of types, and shadows, and ceremonies had come to an end? The ordinances of an earthly priesthood were rent with that veil. In token of the death of the ceremonial law, the soul of it quitted its sacred shrine, and left its bodily tabernacle as a dead thing. The legal dispensation is over. The rent of the veil seemed to say—”Henceforth God dwells no longer in the thick darkness of the Holy of Holies, and shines forth no longer from between the cherubim. The special enclosure is broken up, and there is no inner sanctuary for the earthly high priest to enter: typical atonements and sacrifices are at an end.. In actual historical fact the glorious veil of the temple has been rent in twain from the top to the bottom: as a matter of spiritual fact, which is far more important to us, the separating legal ordinance is abolished.“
We have a choice: Agree (as with the entire spectrum of historical Christianity) that full entrance into the Most Holy Place was given based upon the fall of the Temple of the King of Kings, or (as with Hyper Preterism) that entrance awaited the fall of a temple built by an apostate king.
In my opinion, there is no way in which the fall of a building in AD70 could ever compare with the cross event of Jesus’ passion narrative. No amount of fallen stones could ever challenge the cross of Jesus Christ for the scope or significance such sacrifice has been given by the Father.
The 40-year delay of Hyper Preterism – though seemingly a small matter – is of the greatest significance when it comes to the centrality of Jesus Christ’s body in redemption, among many other reasons. The cross of Jesus Christ – though not as significant to HyP in redemption as it is to historical Christianity – cannot be matched in its great significance for the accomplishment/fulfillment of redemption.
Paul specifies that the only grounds upon this entrance is “through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” – in other words, through his sacrificial blood shedding. To side with HyP that we enter through the veil by the (re)tearing of the temple’s veil in AD70 is just simply divergent from historical Christian doctrine.
Robbing the meaning of “it is finished”, by stitching the torn veil back together theologically (just as the temple priests had in actuality), is to radically and fundamentally alter the message of the New Testament and the historical Church.
And then, of course, this judgment-worthy brutality to the person of Jesus Christ is finished off by teaching that today’s Christians live in a fundamentally different dispensation (this age / age to come) than those of the pre-AD70 era of the New Testament writings.
In many different ways is revealed the same truth. Separation between man and God being totally accomplished in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. There are many other passages which point out these truths which will be dealt with in time.
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18)
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16)
I pray to the Lord of Glory that those sincere students of the Word who currently embrace hyper preterism will no join those HyP leaders who are trying to silence or disqualify all critics. Rather, I pray that all such Bereans will be given the wisdom to understand how far from the received gospel the HyP view truly is. Perhaps as this concept being exposed to them, love for the old rugged cross will inspire a sincerely critical examination of the “salvation in AD70” view.
For a fuller look at just how radically different HyP’s storyline is from historical Christianity’s, read Spurgeon on The Rent Veil
All power and glory to He who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty!
These passages are included below with those which speak of the pre-AD70 possession of realities (eternal life, raising of the dead, the end of the law) which the typical full pret system says were not obtained until after the Jewish temple fell:
Luke 10:11 “Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.”
Luke 11:20 “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Luke 19:9 “And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham”
John 4:23 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”
John 5:24-25 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. “
Romans 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Rom 10:4 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
Rom 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it
2 Cor 1:9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us
2Co 1:21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
2 Cor 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation
2 Cor 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Ga 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us”
Ga 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Eph 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Eph 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)
Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Eph 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses
2 Tim 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace,
1Jo 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
Date: 08 Aug 2011
Greetings Todd! Long time know audio/video man! I pray that all things are well with you.
As you know, I left HyP quite a while ago and it was based (largely) on the fantastic work of Tom Wright (which, ironically, got me looking into AD70 in the first place). His book, ‘The Resurrection of the Son of God’ was THE book that shot holes all through HyP for me.
In his book, Wright points out that the term ‘resurrection’ ALWAYS meant a re-embodiment of the dead. It never meant the gooey, dance-around, misinterpreted ‘spiritual body’ that HyP put on it. The idea was a body just like Christ’s – a physical body but a transformed (glorified) body. Wright’s book is almost a thousand pages and well worth the read.
It’s with this in mind (the resurrection) that I want to respond to your post here.
Often (in fact I had a conversation with some good folks a couple of months ago about this), the emphasis is placed on the cross – ‘Christ died for me. He took my sins upon himself on the cross.’ And rightly so as your post points out. However, I want to point out something that Wright stated that I thought was so deeply insightful. Also, I would suggest to a couple of passages that most people seem to miss that, to me, are the real game changers of the whole cross event.
Wright points out that we have at least a dozen or so would-be Messiah’s a hundred years either side of the life of Jesus. And they all were killed. And in every single case, one of two things happened: 1) The followers looked for a family member to replace the ‘Messiah’. ‘Oh! We must have had the wrong guy! His brother is the real Messiah.’ Or, 2) The group disbanded. In other words, just because someone died for the cause didn’t mean that people’s relationship with God was changed.
In Romans 4, Paul wrote, ‘[Jesus] was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.’ In other words, the only way the cross works is because of the resurrection. Notice, if Christ wasn’t ‘raised to life’ we would not be made ‘right with God’.
Paul sharpens the point 1Corinthians 15. 16-18. There he wrote, ‘[If] there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost!’ Once more we see that if Christ was not raised, then we ‘are still guilty of [our] sins’. That is, without the resurrection, the crucifixion of Christ has no effect.
Lastly, I want to point to Acts 17 where we see this played out in a very practical way. As you know, was in Athens and spoke on Mars Hill. Starting at verse 22 (CEB), we read:
‘Paul stood up in the middle of the council on Mars Hill and said, “People of Athens, I see that you are very religious in every way. As I was walking through town and carefully observing your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an unknown God.’ What you worship as unknown, I now proclaim to you. God, who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn’t live in temples made with human hands. Nor is God served by human hands, as though he needed something, since he is the one who gives life, breath, and everything else. From one person God created every human nation to live on the whole earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands. God made the nations so they would seek him, perhaps even reach out to him and find him. In fact, God isn’t far away from any of us. In God we live, move, and exist. As some of your own poets said, ‘We are his offspring.’
“Therefore, as God’s offspring, we have no need to imagine that the divine being is like a gold, silver, or stone image made by human skill and thought. God overlooks ignorance of these things in times past, but now directs everyone everywhere to change their hearts and lives. This is because God has set a day when he intends to judge the world justly by a man he has appointed. God has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
When they heard about the resurrection from the dead, some began to ridicule Paul. However, others said, “We’ll hear from you about this again.” At that, Paul left the council.’
Notice that Paul doesn’t talk about the crucifixion! Not once. But he does talk about the resurrection. Again, the crucifixion without the resurrection is just a horrible tragedy. But with it, well, it changes everything. The only way the rest of the NT (and the early people of ‘The Way’) makes any sense is because of the resurrection. It was because of the resurrection that the NT writers could reflect and see the sacrificial system in the death of Jesus. And it is because of the resurrection that we today need to see new depths within Christ’s death.
I pray that this resonates within your spirit, my brother.
In the Love of the Three in One,
[TD: Great post Jack! Thanks for sharing… agreed 100%]