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The Prophetic Paradigm Shift

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“I will never purchase a book published by Tyndale again.  If they are going to publish that trash by Hannegraff [sic] I have no more time for them.” This emailer was responding to American Vision’s offer of the latest novel by Hank Hanegraaff that takes a preterist perspective on Bible prophecy. While the Left Behind series, also published by Tyndale, places the NT prophetic texts in our future, Hanegraaff’s The Last Disciple and The Last Sacrifice show that their reference is to events leading up to an including the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

I’m almost positive that the emailer has not read either of the novels and is not aware that the prophetic perspective of the two fiction books have a great deal of biblical support behind them. He probably does not know that preterism has a long and distinguished history in Bible interpretation and that futurism of the dispensational variety only goes back to the nineteenth century. In fact, after the publication of the first edition of the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909, many considered its teachings to be heretical. Even so, “Scofieldism,” as it was first called, created a paradigm shift. It replaced several prophetic interpretive models: preterism, relating to the timing of the “last days,” and historicism,[1] a way of interpreting Revelation that took in the entire scope of earthly redemptive history. Scofieldism, better known today as “dispensationalism,” replaced these well respected interpretive models. Unfamiliar with this irrefutable history, millions of Christians today believe that the eschatology found in the Left Behind series has a long and distinguished history, so much so that they believe it has creedal status.

Consider that preterists have had to suffer with publishers who have been spewing out dispensational nonsense for decades. Zondervan made a financial killing with Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth in the 1970s as well as with the prophetic works of John Walvoord and Dwight Pentecost. Tyndale has made hundreds of millions of dollars on the Left Behind series. Did any of this stop me from purchasing their good books? It would be foolish, childish, and counterproductive to dismiss everything a publisher puts into print because of some bad books. AV got an email from a reader because we offered a book with an animal on the cover. It seems that animals that are given human characteristics help support evolution. Some will object to a book or two that we offer because of one thing they’ve read that they do not agree with. They bluster that they’ll never support us again.

The same day I received the above email, I received the following:

Please remove me from your mailing list. Your Preterist viewpoint flies in the face of biblical truth and I have no interest in it or anything Mr. Hannagraf [sic] has to say. There is enough confusion in today’ “religious marketplace.” I pray your endeavors will not achieve success.

This man is equally ignorant of the doctrinal and interpretive history of eschatology. I sent him a brief email to assure him that preterism does not fly “in the face of biblical truth.” But there is a greater problem than this man’s ignorance. When Christians shut themselves off from critical thinking in one area, you can be sure that critical thinking has been turned off in other crucial areas as well. A study of eschatology exposes it, because it shows that people have bought into a system that they have never questioned (Acts 17:11).

There’s an inevitable paradigm shift taking place in eschatology. Millions of Christians are beginning to recognize that dspensationalism’s pretribulationism is not a biblical system. How do I know this? Because pretribulationist John F. Walvoord makes the case for me. In his “50 Arguments for Pretribulationism,” he doesn’t offer one verse that clearly teaches it. That spells trouble. I’m working on a book that will finally expose this unbiblical system. The tentative title is Why There Won’t be a Rapture. After reading Mark Hitchcock’s Could the Rapture Happen Today?,[2] I am even more convinced that dispensationalism is biblically defenseless. Not once in the book’s 189 pages does Hitchcock deal with the one interpretive system that offers the greatest challenge to pretribulationalism—preterism. You know a doctrine is in trouble when it fails to answer the objections raised by its most articulate critics.

Endnotes:

[1] “From the 1790s to the mid 1870s most premillennialists advocated historicism, believing that some events in Daniel and most of the Revelation refer to the church age.” (Richard R. Reiter, “A History of the Development of the Rapture Positions,” The Rapture: Pre-, Mid-, or Post-Tribulational?, ed. Ben Chapman [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984], 12).
[2] Mark Hitchcock, Could the Rapture Happen Today? (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2005).

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