Writer warns about ‘preterism,’ a false teaching by some churches

Published 8:14 am Monday, February 24, 2020

To the Editor:
A false teaching that is far out of the mainstream and even taught in Elizabethton is preterism. According to Jonathan Brentner, preterists believe all Biblical prophecy has been fulfilled: this includes Matthew 24 as well as the entire book of Revelation. They claim everything happened before and during AD 70 when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. They even believe Jesus returned as the city fell fulfilling His promise to return to earth. Below is a summary of four key errors of this flawed teaching by Jonathan Brentner.
First, “preterism diminishes the glory of Jesus.” The promise of Psalm 2, Isaiah 9:6-7 and Revelation relate to a time of a 1000 years when Jesus will physically govern all nations of the world. Can you imagine God the Father reneging on His promise to His Son Jesus regarding the nations? This is what preterists ask us to do through their denials of a future physical kingdom with Jesus ruling over it, which is what God the father promised to the Son.
Second, “preterism exalts the church rather than Jesus.” Preterists teach the church will convert the world to Jesus and bring in a glorious reign of righteousness over all the earth. Such teaching exalts the church, not Jesus. The Bible teaches Jesus will bring in this glorious kingdom of righteousness, not the church. Jesus warned His followers the world would hate them and most would reject the Gospel. Jesus never said our proclamation of the Gospel would result in the salvation of all humanity. Jesus taught in Matthew 12:19 many seeds of the gospel would fall on hard soil where Satan the “evil one” would snatch them away before they could take root. One preterists teacher said the devil is “disempowered” denying the reality of our current world and contradicts many Bible passages such as Ephesians 6.
Third, “preterism negates the Biblical hope of believers.” Peter said, “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13) By claiming Jesus already fulfilled the prophecies of the Bible, preterists shift the hope of believers to the church and this world. Many New Testament verses show God intended our future expectation to be on Jesus’ return for His Church, at which time we receive glorified bodies (Phil. 3; 1 Cor. 15), experience eternal victory over death (1 Cor. 15; 1 Thess. 1&4) and be caught up to be with the Lord Jesus forever. To claim as preterism does we have no unfulfilled prophecy after AD 70 goes against the flow of Scripture and character of God who loves to declare the end from the beginning (see Isaiah 46:8-11). Preterism disobeys 1 Thessalonians 5 that says “despise not prophesyings.”
Fourth, “preterism errs in its claims regarding church history.” Preterists claim John wrote the book of Revelation in about AD 65-67. If John wrote Revelation after AD 70, then preterism isn’t true since John would be writing about the future return of Jesus after they believe it took place. The entire false teaching of preterism beliefs depends on this early date for the writing of Revelation. Many of the earliest writers in church history say John’s banishment to the Isle of Patmos and the writing of Revelation was late in the reign of the Emperor Domitian,who ruled over Rome from AD 81-96. Irenaeus who grew up in the church at Smyrna and later became a writer in the early church stated John wrote Revelation during this time. If Jesus returned in AD 70 as preterists claimed why did church fathers still look for it as a future event in the early centuries of the church? Leaders such as Papias (70-163), Irenaeus (130-202), Justyn Martyr (100-165) and Tertullian (155-240) all wrote about Jesus’ future return to rule over the world. It would be impossible for the entire church to have missed Jesus’ glorious Second Coming in AD 70. The testimony of church history completely disproves preterism. All prominent writers of the second and third centuries placed Jesus’ Second Coming in the future. Almost all witness to a later date for the writing of Revelation than preterist do. Jonathan Brentner said, “Don’t let anyone take your eyes off Jesus; He’s the prize and your only refuge in a troubled world. He’s coming soon!”

D.D. Nave

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