Chapter 18 - Problems with Preterism and Amillennialism
Preterism and Amillennialism both have their problems deeply rooted in the mystique surrounding the personage and deity of Jesus. The relationship of the terms are similar in comparison to Dispensationalism and Millennialism in that both schools of thought compliment each other. Preterism is the acknowledgement that most of the prophecies and predictions stated in the New Testament canon have been fulfilled. Therefore, Preterism seems to be the logical conclusion but with two problems: The divinity of Jesus and the seven decade cycle. Therefore, Preterism's belief system still accepts the idea of Jesus' physical return. For example, it is simply accepting the statement in Revelation 1:1 and Revelation 1:7 (The Gospel of John 19:34) as an infallible and true prediction of the writer because he properly predicted the fall of the Roman empire. The observation is then deducted that the writer of the Book of Revelation is truthful in his predictions and therefore the rest of the last three chapters of the Book of Revelation have yet to be fulfilled. While, Amillennialism states that most of the predictions are spiritual manifestations and therefore it covers a broad meaning of events since A.D.70. Both of these schools of thought in christian eschatology ignores, again, two things: The divinity of Jesus and the Temple's seven decades cycle. First, let us observe the evidence for the term "Millennialism" in Latin within the verses of Revelation chapter 20:
3 et misit eum in abyssum, et clausit, et signavit super illum ut non seducat amplius gentes, donec consummentur mille anni: et post hæc oportet illum solvi modico tempore.
4 Et vidi sedes, et sederunt super eas, et judicium datum est illis: et animas decollatorum propter testimonium Jesu, et propter verbum Dei, et qui non adoraverunt bestiam, neque imaginem ejus, nec acceperunt caracterem ejus in frontibus, aut in manibus suis, et vixerunt, et regnaverunt cum Christo mille annis.
5 Ceteri mortuorum non vixerunt, donec consummentur mille anni. Hæc est resurrectio prima.
6 Beatus, et sanctus, qui habet partem in resurrectione prima: in his secunda mors non habet potestatem: sed erunt sacerdotes Dei et Christi, et regnabunt cum illo mille annis.
( 1 ) Mille means a 'Thousand' and Anni(Annis) means 'year'. A 'Thousand Years' theme derives from Psalm 105:8. Therefore, "A" in Amillennialism means "not" or "nil". The term 'Preterism' contains the Latin praeter, which is a prefix denoting that something is "past" or "beyond", expressing that either all or majority of the prophecies or predctions in the New Testament canon were fulfilled by A.D.70. The followers of preterism are commonly known as preterists.
( 2 ) The Temple's desecration takes seventy weeks of purification (Daniel 9:27) while its destruction takes seventy years of purification. The seventy years of purification is enacted only through God's divine intervention (Isaiah 56:8) and only through God's hands or "divine" intervention will the Temple be rebuilt (Isaiah 44:28). There is no argument, most Preterists believe that the Beast of Daniel is Antiochus Epiphanes but this stance goes in conflict with some portions of the New Testament canon predicting a desecration (Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14, 2nd Thessalonians 2:4). The problem with Preterism is the verse contained in Daniel 9:2 in comparison with the previous false prediction of a desecration, where the absence of the Temple in 140 A.D. or the absence of a physical return of Jesus did not materialize (Revelation 21:22). Preterism's argument is much convincing and stronger compared with the rest of the schools of thought in Christian eschatology. To believe in Preterism, would mean that something new was revealed which would have abrogated Daniel 9:2.
( 3 ) Again, the problem with the theory or belief of Preterism is the absence of a verse to abrogate Daniel 9:2 which accompanies Daniel 9:27. Any verse which addresses Paul's Dispensationalism is in error because there was no desecration but rather a destruction therefore it is a false prediction. The event of A.D.70 refutes Matthew 24:36 because it is intertwined with the failed Dispensationalist prediction of Matthew 24:15 and Matthew 24:20 or the main theme of Matthew chapter twenty-four. A suspicion is also raised by a later revision in Mark 13:18 removing the term "sabbath" which is noticeable. Therefore, Matthew 24:36 would not be a proper verse to abrogate Daniel 9:2. If we are to follow the words of John, in the Book of Revelation, this would mean that atleast two Gospels(Matthew and Mark) could not be trusted and followed because of the error of Dispensationalism contained therein. Again, there are no verses to abrogate Daniel 9:2 and no clear indicator from the Book of Revelation which could clarify a stance on the issue of the seven decade cycle. In other words, there is no statement or verse saying that the seven decade cycle no longer applies. However, knowing that some of the writers of the New Testament falsely predicted a 'desecration' (Derived from the Book of Daniel) it is very possible that this issue was ignored or suppressed after nothing happened in A.D.140 concerning the seven decades cycle.
( 4 ) There are atleast three verses in the Book of Revelation which could indicate that the writer intended something to happen in A.D.140: Revelation 1:1,1:7, and 20:6. The last verse is associated with the 'Hymenaeus controversy' stated by Paul in 1st Timothy 1:20 and 2nd Timothy 2:17-18. The statement in Revelation 20:6 refers to Matthew 27:52-53 (Hosea 6:1-3) and this would explain 2nd Timothy 2:18. The supporting evidence is through the next verse, 2nd Timothy 2:19 associates with Revelation 9:4. John agreed with Paul's PERDITION (2nd Thessalonians 2:3 and Revelation 17:8,11) which indicates that John revised Paul's Dispensationalism and replaced it with his own Millennialism associated with the destruction of the Temple. The absence of clarifying whether the seven decades cycle ended is evidence that something was expected to happen in A.D.140. Would it be fair to suggest that this absence of a verse could be evidence that the abrogation of the seven decades cycle was intended? The supporting evidence and indicators above would suggest that something was expected to happen soon knowing that John closely followed Paul's false prediction of a desecration labelled as "Dispensationalism". The main supporting evidence would be 1st Corinthians 7:26-29 indicating an event closely associated with Paul's Dispensationalist rapture. The conclusion would be that John's Millennialism started when the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 and falsely predicted an expected event in A.D.140.
( 5 ) Preterism would then be refuted by what is stated in number four. The divinity of Jesus is then refuted by the failure of Jesus' appearance in A.D. 140. Therefore some of the Gnostic Jewish-Christians and Gnostic Jews produced 'Gnostic Gospels' during and after A.D. 140. Preterism is then a partly true and partly false school of thought. Moreover, Preterism's foundation is based on texts which are doubtful and therefore its rationale is refutable. Furthermore, Preterism is more stronger than most schools of thought in Christian eschatology but its foundation is flawed. There is a doctrine - The AD 70 doctrine - which suggest that all of the Book of Revelation was fulfilled between A.D. 70 and A.D. 140 suggesting the last three chapters to be a spiritual expression by the writer. 'The AD 70 doctrine' is part of the Full-Preterist doctrine.
( 6 ) Amillennialism is simply stating that all of the symbols and themes in the Book of Revelation is a form of spiritual symbolism and therefore it is timeless with exception to the belief in the physical return of Jesus. Nevertheless, this doctrine or school of thought is much safer and even reasonable in the face of the surmountable evidence against the various false predictions and "prophecies" in the New Testament Canon. Moreover, it lacks the central theme or idea concerning the importance of the Temple as a guidepost. It was already proven through the words of Paul and John that the Temple's existence was central to a proposed timeline to the physical return of Jesus in A.D.140. In this doctrine, every single item is presented as a spiritual manifestation but this method also created the 'Gnostic Gospels'. No doubt, that Amillennialism is the modern form of Biblical Gnosticism expressed in 1st John 4:1-6 and this form of gnosticism existed among the Jewish communities during the time of the messianic movements. Moreover, the previous passage in 1st John also eludes to an actual physical return of Jesus which has been proven false. Therefore, both Preterism and Amillennialism would have problems because they do not clarify or properly defend the physical return of Jesus(which proves his 'divintiy') and the abrogation of the seven decade cycle. The very statement in verse 1st John 4:3: "...Jesus Christ is come in the flesh..." is a refutation to the early attempts to spiritualize the very personage of messiah Jesus.
( 7 ) For example, Ezekiel 37:25 is a reference to Zerubbabel (Haggai 1:14) and other Jewish figures to handle the rebuilding of the Temple. Therefore, Revelation 21:22 was a spiritual allegory in reference to the Ezekiel verse and supposed literal event which happened four years before the Temple's destruction. However, a form of Amillennialism may have already existed within the Jewish community by the time the Romans appeared on the scene. Ezekiel is clearly a false prediction but many readers of this passage would have read such verses and spiritualized its meanings. Hence, the creation of "Amillennialism" among the Jewish-Christians and Jews in general in the previous 1st John passage. Another evidence of this type of spiritualism would be the statement in Malachi 4:5 concerning the return of Elijah. The passages in Matthew 11:12,17:12 seems to suggest a pre-Amillennialist trend within the Gospels. The previous example only shows that 'spiritualizing' the verses of the Old Testament was an attempt to explain away a false prediction within the Old Testament canon. The Matthew passages may be solid evidence for this proposed hypothesis and exposes the root of modern Amillennialist in the interpretation of the predictions in the New Testament. Moreover, the contradiction between Dispensationalist and Millennialist verses are not solved by the adoption of Amillennialism. The second problem with Amillennialism would be to believe in a physical return of Jesus which is associated inexplicably with the previous contradiction. However, it would be possible to believe in Full-Preterism but this stance run counter to the clear contradictions of the Dispensationalistic passages or verses in the stated Gospels.