R.C. Sproul, Sr.
POSTMILLENNIALIST PARTIAL PRETERIST
“Maybe the terms that best describe the two positions are full preterism and partial preterism. Both are preterist with respect to some eschatological events, but both are not preterist with respect to all eschatological events..” // “Obviously the full preterists have no desire to deviate from Scripture. They bear the burden in this controversy of showing that creedal orthodoxy has been wrong at crucial points of eschatological understanding.” (The Last Days According to Jesus, pp.156-157)
“…skeptical criticism of the Bible has become almost universal in the world. And people have attacked the credibility of Jesus. Maybe some church fathers made a mistake. Maybe our favorite theologians have made mistakes. I can abide with that. I can’t abide with Jesus being a false prophet, because if I am to understand that Jesus is a false prophet, my faith is in vain.” [Covenant Eschatology Symposium in Florida 1993]
“I share Gentry’s concerns about full preterism, particularly on such issues as the consummation of the kingdom and the resurrection of the dead.” (Sproul, Quoted by Swanson – Reformation or Retrogression?)
“No one, with the exception of Karl Barth, ever had as many American students study under him as did Berkouwer. Among those students was R. C. Sproul.”
Luther’s Baggage: Israel in the Eschata, Part 3 of 3 “Sproul says that in his eschatological pilgrimage, he has fluctuated, at times being drawn to the amillennial position and at other times, the historic premillennial view. However, despite having given little credence to postmillennialism in the past, he says: “Yet to my surprise, I have found myself more and more attracted to an orthodox post-mill position with its moderate preterist perspective”.
“I can never read the New Testament again the same way I read it before reading The Parousia. I hope better scholars than I will continue to analyze and evaluate the content of J. Stuart Russell’s important work.”
“Russell’s book has forced me to take the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem far more seriously than before, to open my eyes to the radical significance of this event in redemptive history. It vindicates the apostolic hope and prediction of our Lord’s close-at-hand coming in judgment. My view on these matters remains in transition, as I have spelled out in The Last Days According to Jesus. But for me one thing is certain: I can never read the New Testament again the same way I read it before reading The Parousia. I hope better scholars than I will continue to analyze and evaluate the content of J. Stuart Russell’s important work.” (“Forward,” in The Parousia (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999)
(On the Significance of A.D.70)
“We conclude that the day of visitation refers partly to the incarnation. This event brought a double-edged crisis. Jesus’ earthly ministry brought the gracious presence of God’s redemption to those who received him, but set the stage for a soon-to-occur visitation of wrath and judgment to Jerusalem and the impenitent children of Israel.” (R.C. Sproul on Luke 19:43-44 , The Last Days According To Jesus, p.81)
“The most significant, redemptive, historical action that takes place outside the New Testament, is the judgment that falls on Jerusalem, and by which judgment the Christian Church now emerges as The Body of Christ.” (R.C. Sproul, Dust to Glory video series, 1997)
“While partial preterists acknowledge that in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70 there was a parousia, or coming of Christ, they maintain that it was not the parousia.” (The Last Days (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998, 158.)
(On Early Date of Revelation)
“If the book of Revelation was written after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, it seems strange that John would be silent about these cataclysmic events. Granted this is an argument from silence, but the silence is deafening. Not only does Revelation not mention the temple’s destruction as a past event, it frequently refers to the temple as still standing. This is seen clearly in Revelation 11 …Gentry gives impressive evidence to support this conclusion.” (Last Days, pp.147-149)
“If the Book of Revelation was written after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, it seems strange that John would be silent about these cataclysmic events. Granted this is an argument from silence, but the silence is deafening.” (The Last Days According to Jesus, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998; p. 147)
“If the sixth king is Vespasian, then we still fall short of the reign of Domitian, which is the time-frame usually given for the book of Revelation.” (The Last Days According to Jesus; p. 146)
“A more natural approach, however, is to begin the list of kings with Julius Caesar, as was the custom of ancient historians such as Josephus and Suetonius, as well as Dio Cassius. In this series (see table 6.3, option 3), the sixth king is Nero. If he is the king referred to in Revelation in the present tense, then this adds considerable wright to the argument for dating the book in the mid- to late-sixties.” (ibid., p. 147)
(On Matthew 16:27-28)
“If the Olivet Discourse refers primarily to events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem and if the word generation refers to a forty-year period, then it is possible, if not probable, that Jesus’ reference to his coming in Matthew 16:28 refers to the same events, not to the transfiguration or other close-at-hand events.” (The Last Days According to Jesus, p. 55)
(On Matthew 24:1-3)
“To first-century Jews it was unthinkable that such catastrophic events as the destruction of the Herodian temple, the devastation of the holy city of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jewish people to the four corners of the earth could take place in the foreseeable future. Such events were eminently not foreseeable, save to one who had information from the omniscient God himself.” (Last Days, pp.13)
(On Matthew 24:34)
“The most critical portion of this text is Jesus’ declaration that ‘this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” (The Last Days According to Jesus, p.16)
(On Creeds and Tradition)
“Personally, I cringe at the idea of going against such a unified and strong testimony to the historic faith, even though I grant the possibility that they [the historic creeds] are wrong at points. All who are inclined to differ with the creeds should observe a warning light and show great caution. Of course this warning light pales in comparison to the authority of Scripture itself …. To be completely candid, I must confess that I am still unsettled on some crucial matters.” (Last Days, pp. 157-158)
“Obviously the full preterists have no desire to deviate from Scripture. They bear the burden in this controversy of showing that creedal orthodoxy has been wrong at crucial points of eschatological understanding.”(The Last Days According to Jesus, RC Sproul, pp.156-157)
(On Second Coming and Deity of Christ)
“..the skeptism expressed by [Bertrand] Russell on these matters is by no means limited to him, but is the axe that is ground by a host of higher-criticism scholars of the Bible.. the chief ground for the radical criticism of modern biblical scholarship, which has resulted in a wholesale attack on the trustworthiness of Scripture and a far-reaching skepticism ..is the thesis that the Gospels’ records of Jesus’ predictions contain glaring errors and gross inaccuracies ..The problem, however, is that Russell’s is not a lone voice in recent history. His criticisms are echoed by a multitude of highly learned specialists in the field of biblical studies… In seminary I was exposed daily to critical theories espoused by my professors regarding the Scriptures. What stands out in my memory of those days is the heavy emphasis on biblical texts regarding the return of Christ, which were constantly cited as examples of errors in the New Testament and proof that the text had been edited to accommodate the crisis in the early church caused by the so-called parousia-delay of Jesus.” [The Last Days, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 14-15).]
“It is my fear that evangelicals today tend to underplay the significance of the problems inherent in Russell’s assumptions.” (ibid, p. 17)
“..skeptical criticism of the Bible has become almost universal in the world. And people have attacked the credibility of Jesus. Maybe some Church fathers made a mistake. Maybe our favorite theologians have made mistakes. I can abide with that. I can’t abide with Jesus being a false prophet, because if I am to understand that Jesus is a false prophet, my faith is in vain.” (“The Problem of Imminency” presentation, Covenant Eschatology Symposium, Mt. Dora, FL 1993)
The World in Matthew 13:38-40
|The field is the world, the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;||The field is the world, the good seed are the sons of the kingdom; but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.||
|the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.||The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are the angels.||
|As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.||Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so will it be at the end of this world. (R.C. Sproul, Last Days)||
Objection to Modern Preterism “To maintain that these events [the Olivet teaching] were indeed fulfilled in the first century, one must interpret the relevant passages in a way that makes early fulfillment possible. The most severe obstacle [to that] is the absence of any historical record that the rapture of the living and the resurrection of the dead occurred.” (R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus, Baker Books, 1998, pg 161)
“The first difficulty is that it [Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 15] involves propositions and assertions that can be neither verified nor falsified empirically. … if one announces or predicts things that will take place in the arena of real history involving physical reality, then empirical verification becomes relevant and crucial…It is unfortunate that the apostle failed to alert the Corinthians-and us, by extension-that he was speaking of a secret, hidden, spiritual resurrection. His language certainly suggests something else, particularly as Paul so clearly conjoins the resurrection of our bodies with the resurrection of Christ’s body. The resurrected Christ is the firstfruits of all who will be raised.” (R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus, Baker Books, 1998, pg 162)
“To be completely candid, I must confess that I am still unsettled on some crucial matters.” (Last Days, pp. 157-158)
“Maybe the terms that best describe the two positions are full preterism and partial preterism. Both are preterist with respect to some eschatological events, but both are not preterist with respect to all eschatological events. The terms full and partial can then be safely applied to these two positions.”
“partial preterists acknowledge that in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70 there was a parousia or coming of Christ, they maintain that it was not the parousia…Partial preterists understand that there are nuances to biblical terminology regarding the coming of Christ and the day of the Lord, nuances that make it possible and necessary to speak of more than one event that encompasses all these things at once.” (Last Days pp.158-159)
“I am persuaded that, in the main, Russell is essentially correct”
The Judgment on Jerusalem according to History
Destruction of the temple Heavenly phenomena – A star resembling a sword
– A comet (Halley’s Comet)
– A bright light shing around the altar and the temple
– A vision of chariots and soldiers running around among the clouds and all cities of Palestine.
(reported by priests)
– A quaking
– A great noise
– The sounds of a great multitude saying, “Let us remove hence.”
Source: The Last Days According to Jesus, R.C. Sproul
Contemporary “Partial Preterist View”
|A coming (parousia) of Christ
A day of the Lord
The end of the Jewish Age(Source: Last Days According to Jesus)
|The Coming (parousia) of Christ
The Day of the Lord
The Resurrection of the dead
The Rapture of the living
The (final) Judgment
The end of history
Book Review: The Last Days Acccording to Jesus
Author: R.C. Sproul; Publisher: Baker Book House; Length: 253 pages; Available From: Evangelical Bookshop
I’ve read a few of R.C. Sproul’s devotional books in the past and I didn’t like them as they were a bit on the flowery side, and, subsequently, sold them (that’s just my opinion though, don’t let me put you off). However, I’ve had my eye on this book for a while (about five years) and eventually bought it recently. What a pleasant surprise to find that, in a more distinctly theological work, Dr. Sproul writes in a very clear and logical manner. Part of the motivation behind the writing of this book was to answer the claims of higher critics and other rejecters of Christianity (such as Bertland Russell) who regard the New Testament as fraudulent because of the time indicators in the Olivet Discourse which suggested that the second coming of Christ would occur relatively quickly. Basically, Dr. Sproul refutes such critics by showing that the passages which seem to indicate an imminent coming of Christ, refers to His coming in judgement on Jerusalem with its destruction in 70 A.D. He believes that the predictions of Matt, 24:1-34, and much of Revelation, were fulfilled within a generation of Jesus making His pronouncement (Matt. 24:34).
This position is known as orthodox or partial preterism; however, Dr. Sproul refers extensively to the writings of a hyper-preterist James Stuart Russell. Although he clearly distances himself from hyper-preterism – which is a damnable heresy that insists that the resurrection and final judgement took place in 70 A.D., consequently, it denies the resurrection of the body (if this is right then the Christian faith is useless 1 Cor. 15:12-58) which is part of Biblical salvation – I would seriously question the wisdom of referring so much to the works of a heretic. Apart from that, it is a carefully written and thought provoking book. While I may not be entirely convinced of everything that partial preterist’s say, it is a view I have been attracted to for a number of years, and one I would substantially agree with. One area in particular, which R.C. Sproul defends, is the dating of Revelation; for me it is entirely inconceivable that the traditional date ascribed to it (usually about 95 A.D.) could be correct. It must (as Ken Gentry has extensively argued) have been written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., because how could the old covenant be officially and finally abolished while the books of the New Testament were not written? This obviously has a profound effect on how one views New Testament prophecy, and The Last Days According to Jesus would be a good place to begin your analysis.
posted by Daniel Ritchie at 3:17 PM
What do YOU think ?
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31 Aug 2003
What does A.D. stand for?
07 Sep 2003
Sproul is one of the greatest theologians and men of God of our time!
11 Dec 2003
A.D. is an abbrieviation for ‘anno Domini’ which is Latin for ‘year’ (anno) of the ‘Lord’ (Domini). It refers to a year in the Christain era.
09 Jan 2004
Some dispensationalists argue for two parousias, a secret one and the final one. So too partial preterist, the one on AD70 the final one. Only one is mentioned in scripture or do we conclude from the Olivet discourse Jesus actually spoke of two depending where you break the thought. Do the Apostles ever speak of two? Dr. R.C. Sproul ,Sr. is, in my humble opinion, the greatest theologian in my life time. If the Lord tarries generations to follow will read his works just as ours read the works of Augustine and Calvin and the like. Therefore I do not discount anything he says and like him there are unanswered questions in any eschatological system. As I become older one thing I am persuaded of is the more I learn the more I become aware of how little I actually know. Mike Hayes
01 Apr 2004
I notice that some people say that Sproul is one of the greatest theologians of our times. I know that many would disagree because they do not agree with him, etc. I would like to add however, that I have been fortunate enough to have talked with him (as well as his son) on occassion, an while I agree with a great deal of what he teaches, the greatest reason for me to respect him to such a high degree is this: When we were talking about eschatology, (this was a few years ago) he stated as plainly as he could what he believed, but then even more clearly stated that he just didn’t know when it came to some things. He said that he was on the same path to wisdom that everybody is on and he can say no more than that. I received an almost identical response on another topic that came up as well. That said, what I truly appreciate was the fact that he was humbled before the Lord and felt no shame at admitting he didn’t know some thing or another. I truly appreciate that from someone in his position. Whether I agree with him or not on many or few subjects, I will always have great respect for the man because of his humble servant character that I witnessed. He sheds a little light on this in his works on eschatology in particular when he says that he feels best whispering where he believes God has whispered. He said that he was not willing, personally, to shout where he had not yet received “shouting” knowledge. Just wanted to share that.
21 Apr 2004
Is kjv the main and true word for word bible? and is it the bible that everyone should read instead of the New age bible that are coming out? Can you tell me please
21 Apr 2004
one other question, there is alot of church out there one for example, is Fundamental and the other liberial.. Fundamental: use King Jame Bible only not any other new age bible..they believe that it’s the only bibe is word for word.. Liberial: use all sorts of bible, for example, NIV,NASB,NLB and etc.. WHY IS THAT?
26 Apr 2004
I will have to agree about Sproul being one of todays leading teachers. I am an x Mormon and when I became a Christian I was flooded with Gods Truth but, I mistakenly swallowed the Left Behind Lie alone with Salvation. That was in 99/00 and in 2002 after a very disappointing ‘lesson’ during revivle on the Rapture of the Church all I could think about was the simarlites to the Mormonism. Maybe not in actual content but in interpreting practices. A peice here, there, and then over here a piece. Then with the plain context disregared a different meaning is approved. But as God opened my eyes to Christ, He again has chosen to show His faithfullness thru His Word to me. I’ve been a preterist for several years and love every new Truth that I learn. Thanks to Sproul and those like him that preach and teach the whole Word. Remember, Mormonism was basiclly started as an END TIMES CULT!! Thanks and let the Truth be True Hank
03 Jun 2004
Sproul is always very enlightening…
27 Sep 2004
I believe after reading his book the last days according to Jesus I am more convinced that the 1830 interpretation of the scripture is a news paper exposition to God’s word. I believe Russell did a fantastic exposition of Mathew Chapter 24. but as RC says there is still more to learn about the subject. I agree with this also let every man Including the church father be liers and God be true in every thing. Jesus never lied or made a mistake but I think men made mistakes. who would stand and make this decleration to historical Christianity and creed. It has to be a man or a woman that would take the scripture as the ultimate authority to all believers. Jamal Bishara
29 Sep 2004
What do you think of Watchman Nee’s teaching especially the subject of spirit,soul and body
17 Jan 2005
He has done much to give this respectability, but perhaps not enough to give a complete theory.
03 Mar 2005
I don’t see any denial of essential historic biblical christianity in partial preterism, so I think that as long as Sproul or anyone else, affirms with the new testament the future bodily resurrection of the saints and a new heaveans and new earth as per Rev. 21-22 and 2 Peter 3:13, there is no real problem. Full preterism seems to flat out deny this rather straight forward teaching of the new testament and I think Sproul maybe has done a possible dis-sirvice to christians for not more strongly warning against this, unless he has changed his mind on this too???
03 Mar 2005
I don’t see any denial of essential historic biblical christianity in partial preterism, so I think that as long as Sproul or anyone else, affirms with the new testament the future bodily resurrection of the saints and a new heaveans and new earth as per Rev. 21-22 and 2 Peter 3:13, there is no real problem. Full preterism seems to flat out deny this rather straight forward teaching of the new testament and I think Sproul maybe has done a possible dis-service to christians for not more strongly warning against this, unless he has changed his mind on this too???
Date: 03 Apr 2005
Sounds like R.C. adopted preterism because he thinks it’s the best way to answer the higher critics. Not just preterism but his own version–partial preterism.
Reminds me of the time when Darwin introduced his theory of origins and the Christians ran for the tall grass until they could concoct something that satisfied the liberals. It was called Theistic-Evolution.
Eventually, the higher critics will come up with something new and I bet R.C.’s position will evolve accordingly.
Date: 29 Jul 2005
First, I had a very similar experience with both RC and junior. I was most impressed with his humility. I had met him in person (and his son) and it was so refreshing to hear someone I respected tell me that he “just didn’t know for sure” when I asked certain questions.
Second, for another reviewer who seems to think he knows why Sproul “adopted” preterism – partial preterism is certainly not sproul’s own “version” of preterism, in that he somehow developed it. And your additional comments are just silly and unnecessary.
About his views…I respect him a great deal as he was one of the first bible teachers and theologians who made me realize it was ok to search, seek and question along the way. I felt that I went “onto the meat” after reading him and since then have gone on to study further. I think he brings up some good questions with regard to eschatology and he admits he is still searching himself, which again, is refreshing.
Date: 14 Jan 2006
Sproul insists that Full Preterist must prove their theology from early Church fathers writings while at the same time admitting they may have made a mistake. I am disappointed that he is unwilling to leave tradition behind and declare “Sola Scripture”.
Date: 21 Jan 2006
Well…I’m about 2/3rds through the book “Parousia” and I have concluded that this is the most thought-out, biblically accurate book on eschatology I’ve read in a long time. It has critics, of course, but most use inflammatory words that rest on creedal and traditonal (recent) arguments and not on scriptural proofs. They seem to feel that “we couldn’t have been wrong for so many years, right?” I have yet to find on the internet any valid argument against the basic proofs that James Stewart Russell proclaims. I’ll keep looking, even though I would be considered a fanatic in my church for doing so.
Date: 03 Feb 2006
I have read both “The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church” by Marvin Rosenthal and “The Sign” by Robert Van Kampen. In these two book I have found what I beleive to be the first soundly scriptural and consistent hermanutic of the end time events. I have studied this area for 35 years and am satisfied at last that there is scriptural clarity to the events surrounding the end of this age, the return of Christ, and the day of the Lord.
Dr Jerry Schweitzer, Ohio
Date: 22 May 2006
the Apostle Paul was very clear that his resurrection and our resurrection was and is (respectively) a spiritual resurrection, i.e. 1cor.15:44 the body is sown a natural body , it is raised a spiritual body . (NOT a physical body) also . 1cor.15:50 flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Sproul claims Paul was not clear . I disagree with Sproul. If Scripture is true then these verses above are true too, and very clear.jwr apopka fl.
Date: 07 Jul 2006
The clearest and best organized study of End time
events is contained in the book “Footsteps Of The
Messiah” by Dr, Arnold Fruchtenbaum of Ariel
Minsistries. I strongly recomment it!
M. G. Horton, Jr. MD
Date: 28 Oct 2006
You are speaking, then, of two parousia-s. What is the diffuculty? This seems to be common sense in accordance with both testament predictions. I think it would help to address most people’s mononlithic minds. The futurists can only think on one plain and therefore only see things their way – Such a shame. Please continue with your incites and insight
Date: 11 May 2007
While it is right to search and seek as you will find and ask as it will be given to us,it is very very wrong to question GOD or his WORD.We should always pray for understanding and seek it but what is said is said and the words are sealed.
I hope that the knowledge we seek is not the knowledge that puffs up,let our knowledge be the one helping us to fullfil the whole law of God.
Let us give the Glory to GOD for revealing himself to us rather than to R.C. After all it is only by his spirit that we can know his mind.Give the glory to GOD, remeber he often says he will not yield his glory to another.
To GOD be the Glory
Date: 26 Jul 2007
for the last few months i have been studying on revelation,and i would say i lean toward amillennialists,but i am still working on that ,more then conguerors is very good book on amillenniallists view but i have read last days madness by gary demar but hendriksen make more sence to me now,but this web site help me alot keep it up
Date: 06 Apr 2009
I thought the Temple was destroyed the day of Jesus’s crucifixation 70 A.D.; earth quake, and curtain torn assunder, now it was destroyed by the Romans and Burnig??.
Which is it?
Have we all been lead down the wrong path???
Date: 13 Jun 2009
The Bodily Resurrection Occurred in the First Century. Matthew 27:52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
so Christ’s resurrection was a physical resurrection. The resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27:52 was a physical resurrection.
But the ressurrection of those believers after Jesus’ physical resurrection was / is a spiritual resurrection , as Paul teaches in 1 corinthians 15:42-44
Let God be true and every man a liar
jwr apopka, fl.
Date: 23 Jun 2009
You cannot be a partial preterist just as you cannot define Jesus as just another prophet or good man. You need to fish or cut bait on Matt 24:34. He said until “ALL these things come to pass”. The stars have not fallen, the moon has not turned to blood, etc………. This whole twisted debate is designed by Satan to prepare false believers to accept the Beast and the False Prophet when they arrive and to prepare for more persecution of the Jews by a deluded religiousity that arrogantly claims that God is done with His Chosen People.
Date: 17 Nov 2012
I think RC Sproul teaches a confusing, unbiblical theology. Wow. Unbelievable how many are falling for this. It’s certainly not a Gospel you can preach to the persecuted church.
Date: 01 Aug 2012
While teaching the book of Matthew I was really challenged with the context of that book. I know it seems as if I am reinventing the wheel, but I cannot see how Matthew 24-25 is speaking about the second coming as that goes against the context of the book. In the context of Matthew John the Baptist starts teaching about the coming kingdom. Then when Jesus starts His ministry He teaches the same thing “the kingdom is near” (Matt. 4:17). Then in Matthew 10:23 He tells His disciples that they will not finish preaching to Israel “before the Son of Man comes”. So keeping the context of the book Jesus adds to that in Matthew 16:28 that some of them “will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom”. First He tells the disciples that the kingdom is coming then He will come then He tells them that He will be coming in His kingdom. So the context tells us that this is what the disciples were told and therefore asked the question in Matthew 24:3 “what will be the sign of your coming?”. Reading this in its context would lean towards ‘what will be the sign of your coming in your kingdom’ (first coming) rather than what will be the sign of your second coming which Jesus never taught them about before the cross. The more I get acquainted with Matthew the more the theme stands out in Matthew 24 of the King coming in His Kingdom which is His first coming. This was fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus and His claim to now be the King of His kingdom in Matthew 28:18-20. Matthew starts out with ‘the kingdom is coming and then He (Jesus) will be coming and again He will be coming in His kingdom. Matthew ends with the fulfillment of exactly that. So in the whole context of Matthew the verse in 24:34 will make sense of the first coming of Christ in His kingdom. I think that if Matthew 24:3 is seen as the second coming then verse 34 will not make sense. Gerald Frank