FINDING & DEFINING “NORMATIVE PRETERISM”
Seeking the Equivalent of a “Preterist Kerygma” (AD70 as God’s Wrath for Calvary)
Can theology be art? Absolutely! And as with all artistic works, systematic theologies are but manmade reproductions of the True Substance (as with Moses’ revelation of the earthly tabernacle being just a copy of the heavenly temple). That being said, the various systems of preterism revealed throughout Christian history are worthy of notice as being works of art on par with Handel’s Messiah or Kaulbach’s Zerstörung — depending on their various levels of simplicity, coherence, and Calvary-mindedness.
In this PreteristArchive.com section’s main page, Christian history and its generally preterist presuppositions were considered. This subsection will focus on the varied nature of the preterist assumptions, and their success — to a greater or lesser degree — in meeting the criteria previously mentioned. (Some are so brutish they are hard to judge – these works will migrate into their own subsection in time.. the help of masters is always solicited.)
As always, there was a broad range of opinion regarding the AMOUNT of prophetic fulfillment in AD70. To the best of my knowledge, however, no FULLY preterist system arose until the middle of the 19th century among the American Preterist Universalists. Being deemed ultimately – (yes) – toxic and cancerous, these heretical forms will not be discussed here. Rather, this section will include those theological artist who have not divorced themselves from standard evangelical orthodoxy, and who were never seriously censured for their work as a result of this split.
Though works on the subject of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks will be given particular focus, there have been many brilliant examples of preterist doctrinal synthesis in all fields of theology dating back to the earliest days — notable in the work of Barnabus, Justin Martyr, and Hegesippus.
Perhaps the most glorious outcropping of preterism in history came straight from the throne of the world’s leader in the early 4th century, in collaboration with the Roman Church’s true first “pope”. Constantine’s labarum should be considered the pinnacle of historical preterism, but is largely unknown or ignored — especially among the crowd which sees prophecy extending no farther than ad70. Preterism effectively became the ruling theology of the entire world due to the combined work of Caesar Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus and Eusebius. Check it out!
More than a few classical preterist theologians have noted the connection this has to prophetic fulfillment.. without straying into the bog of Historicism. The eschatology of early Eusebius (which was that the fall of Paganism in the rise of Constantine is the pinnacle of Bible prophecy) has been very popular through the ages, being held by many luminaries, such as our all-time #1 preterist theologian, Dr. Samuel Lee — who influenced an entire generation (and undoubtedly James Stuart Russell) by championing this eschatology.
Such is the idea with this page —
1) Defining “Normative Preterism” (i.e. not “hyper”) – This won’t be difficult, because this site has for years been gathering the source materials. At this time, John Lightfoot – a Modern Preterist held in great esteem – serves as the template for normative preterism. He is a very advanced preterist, as is provable by his Commentary of the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1658). Lightfoot’s line between normal and hyper preterism is therefore PreteristArchive.com’s default for Normative Preterism. (VERY pleased to be standing directly behind Johannes)
2) Displaying Normative Preterism’s March Throughout History – As seen in Church History’s “Preterist Assumption”, the preterist view of eschatology has a long and glorious place in Christian history. Literature is the primary lens through which the march of history’s building preterist movement will be seen.
3) Honoring those who have held back against theological extremism – See also the historical bearers of preterism in their never ending struggle against hyper preterist extremism. The united voice of pre-19th century authorship, being themselves zealous for the “Preterist Truth,” was never willing to let a few spoiled eggs ruin the lot! The authors of the 19th century deserve particular attention, as they fought a real war against the many unorthodox systems which arose utilizing preteristic eschatology (The German School, American Preterist Universalism, English Schismatics, etc.).
WHOLLY ENDORSED, YET VERY PROGRESSIVE:
The Catholic Preterism of Alcasar, the Protestant Preterism of Hugo Grotius, the English Preterism of Henry Hammond, the Westminster Preterism of John Lightfoot, the Postmillennialist Preterism of Daniel Whitby, the Canturbury Preterism of F.W. Farrar, others.. under construction below.
THE TOP THREE SCENES CHOSEN AS THE CLIMAX OF BIBLE PROPHECY FROM A SURVEY OF HISTORICL PRETERIST PERSPECTIVES
Rome – AD312/325
ROME’S ALLEGIANCE TO JESUS
CREATED IN THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH OF THE CHRISTIAN TAKEOVER OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. THEOLOGY ENDORSED BY EMPEROR.
CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY OF ENDORSEMENT
“It was evident, then, that Christians understood the establishment of the Roman Empire under Christian jurisdiction as a new exodus and restoration of the land. Christians compared the church to Solomon’s temple, and the revival of the body of Christ to the resurrection of the dead. The age to come had come; the kingdom was established; the promises had been fulfilled.” Bill Archive in The Consequences of the Covenant
Eusebius: “The newly built houses of prayer, assembling of bishops, and the congregation of members of Christ’s body from far away places, in Eusebius’ judgment, were fulfillments of Ezekiel’s prophecy that bone would be joined to bone and joint to joint. [Ezek. 37:1-14; HE X.iii. 1-3]” (Quoted in The Consequences of the Covenant, p. 319)
“Just as we have heard, thus we have also seen in the city of our God.. And in what city but that newly constructed and God-erected [city], which is the living church.” [Ps. 48:8; HE X.iv. 3-6 HE X.iv]” (Quoted in The Consequences of the Covenant, p. 319)
“Glorious things have been spoken concerning you.. city of God”
Froom: “When Grotius’ authorship of the book was detected, it turned all orthodox theologians against him’, (‘The Prophetic Faith Of Our Fathers’, volume 2, page 510, 1954)
“Luis de Alcazar of Seville went even further along the preterist road, assigning only the final two chapters to the end of the age. He understood the first beast to represent the Roman Empire and the second beast as pagan Rome’s carnal wisdom.. Constantine was the angel who bound Satan, whereupon the Millennium commenced.” (David Brady in The contribution of British writers between 1560 and 1830)
“Hammond in turn attached the words of Mt. 24.34 (“this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.”) to the events of the Apocalypse and suggested that chapters 4-11 described the infancy and growth of the Church of Christ up to its gaining possession of the Roman Empire.” (The contribution of British writers between 1560 and 1830)
Jeffrey K. Jue
“Henry Hammond followed the example set by his Dutch apocalyptic mentor. He also began the millennium with Constantine in his interpretation of the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse. “And he apprehended the devil.. and bound him for a space of a thousand years, noting the tranquility and freedom from persecution that should be allowed the church of Christ from the time of Constantine’s coming to the empire.” Moreover the first resurrection (20:4-6) was not a literal resurrection, but a description of “Christians living in tranquility and peace during the millennium or Christian state of peace under Constantine.” Finally, Hammong consistently followed Grotius in identifying Satan’s release at the end of the millennium as “the rise of the Mahomedan religion” Grotius and Hammond both believed they were living in the period after the millennium, during the release of Satan, and awaiting the final apocalyptic resolution in the return of Christ to bring the final judgment.” (Heaven upon earth: Joseph Mede (1586-1638) and the legacy of millenarianism, p. 155)
“Like Alcazar before him, Bossuet expounded the Apocalypse as alluding in the major part (as far as the Millennium) to the first three centuries of the Christian Church” (David Brady in The contribution of British writers between 1560 and 1830)
“English Christians burning churches, defacing tombs and graves of the death, destroying the monuments of Christianity, and in fine cutting the throats of English Christians, all the while that they were ruining the whore of Babel, and cutting antichrist’s throat.” “He asserted that the main scope and drift of the Apocalypse was to foretell the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity, the climax being reached with the coming of Constantine, followed by the Millennium (interpreted in a spiritual sense).” (David Brady in The contribution of British writers between 1560 and 1830)
Brian Simmons (2008) “Leeism” may be defined as a tendency of thought promoted by Preterist Samuel Lee (1783-1852). Though a rabid proponent of the “Past Fulfillment” of New Testament prophecies, Lee saw the consequences of his hermeneutics, which would tend to destroy and dissolve the doctrines of Christianity. Though denying futuristic eschatology for the most part, he was no cessationist, but taught that eschatology is now consummated upon the death of the believer. That is, the coming of Christ and the “resurrection of the body” are fulfilled when we die. His teachings did not have very great impact during his own age, although his “scholarship” was highly regarded by the savants of his day. Lee’s theories illustrate what typically occurs when Preterists straddle the fence–adopting a “compromise” which allows them to keep their faulty hermeneutics, while at the same time retaining a “form” of New Testament doctrine. Hence, those whose theological tendencies lie in this direction may be classed as “Leeists.”