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Is Gary DeMar Secretly a Friend to Hyperpreterists?

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“What do you say in response to all of the people saying that you are secretly a friend to hyperpreterists?” -- Question submitted by Aduro in The Christian Worldview Forum

I am a very visible friend to a number of hyperpreterists. There is nothing secret about it. I am also friends with dispensationalists. I count Tim LaHaye, Thomas Ice, and Mark Hitchcock as friends, although I can’t get them on my radio show. It’s important at this point to lay down some background information for those who may not be familiar with the prophetic debate that’s going on.

I get a lot of questions related to eschatology. Many of the terms used are rarely defined. I wonder what some of our readers think when they come across words like preterism, futurism, dispensationalism, postmillennialism, and even the word eschatology? “Eschatology” is the study of events related to the future. Preterism is a term that has received recent attention, but it has a long history. Charles H. Spurgeon defines preterism in his book Commenting and Commentaries this way: “1. Preterists. The prophecies contained in the Apocalypse were fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem and the fall of heathen Rome.”[1] Technically, “the word comes from the Latin praeteritus (‘to go by, pass’) which, in turn, is based upon praeter (‘that which is beyond, past’).”[2] In simple terms, a preterist is someone who contends that certain prophecies have already been fulfilled; their fulfillment is in the past. For example, all the prophecies related to the first coming of Christ have been interpreted by Christians in a preterist fashion: They were unfulfilled prophecies when given; they are now fulfilled prophecy. Their fulfillment is in the past. This is the essence of preterism. New Testament preterism relates to prophecies that were fulfilled in events leading up to and including the destruction of the temple and the judgment on the city of Jerusalem that took place in A.D. 70, in particular, the Olivet Discourse in the Synoptic Gospels (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21), the Man of Lawlessness (2 Thess. 2), passages related to the Antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7), and, of course, Revelation (1:1, 3; 22:10).

Preterism of this type has a long and distinguished history. On the abomination of desolation, Eusebius (c. 263–339) writes: “And from that time a succession of all kinds of troubles afflicted the whole nation and their city until the last war against them, and the final siege, in which destruction rushed on them like a flood [Dan. 9:26] with all kinds of misery of famine [Matt. 24:7], plague [Luke 21:21] and sword [Luke 21:24], and all who had conspired against the Saviour in their youth were cut off; then, too, the abomination of desolation stood in the Temple [Matt. 24:15], and it has remained there even till to-day, while they [i.e., the Jews] have daily reached deeper depths of desolation.”[3] I could cite many more preterist advocates.

So then, there is no debate over the historical and biblical data regarding certain forms of preterism as I have outlined them above. The big debate among preterists is how far does preterism go? Is all prophecy fulfilled? Full preterists say yes. Partial preterists say no. In between there is a lot of work yet to be done on specific passages. The tendency of full preterists is to fit everything into an A.D. 70 matrix. They do this with 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, 1 Corinthians 15, and Revelation 20. A similar approach is followed with a number of Old Testament prophecies (e.g., Ezek 38–39 and Zech 12). I am willing to listen to their arguments since preterism in its present form is only now coming to its own as we shake off the dust of dispensationalism that has so distorted our interpretation of prophecy. I am willing to cut those full preterists some slack who are attempting to do real exegetical work. Many partial preterists are not willing to do this. To my mind, this approach is counterproductive. Honest analysis of the Bible is required. I want to be challenged by the best arguments possible, whether they come from full preterists or dispensationalists. I refuse to adopt a position because I’ve been told to do so. To quote Posey from The Dirty Dozen, “I don’t like being pushed.”

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[1] Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, [1876] 1969), 198.
[2] Jay E. Adams, Preterism: Orthodox or Unorthodox? (Stanley, NC: Timeless Texts, 2003), v.
[3] Eusebius, The Proof of the Gospel, trans. W. J. Ferrar, 2 vols. in 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1981), 2:138, (403: b-c).

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