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MY TESTIMONY ON HOW I BECAME A FULL PRETERIST – MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN

Here is the short version:  The Lord providentially guided me and opened my eyes to Full Preterism by allowing me to first experience the frustration, confusion and errors of Dispensationalism and then later seeing that a synthesis between the classic Amillennial view and the Partial Preterist view seemed more exegetical and Biblical (ie. Full Preterism – which for a brief season I didn’t know even existed).

Now the slightly longer and more detailed version.

Dispensationalism

As an aspiring young man seeking the ministry shortly after my conversion to Christ, I attended Calvary Chapel Bible College (CCBC – affiliated with Pastor Chuck Smith) and graduated in the late 80’s.  There I was indoctrinated in the confusing Dispensational system with all of its two programs and comings (for the Church & Israel) – 1. a secret “rapture” coming for the Church and 2. The second coming designed to establish an earthly 1000 years millennium for Israel  separated by two resurrection etc… .  And who can forget all of those very confusing colorful charts as well, trying to make sense of it all along with 3.  this alleged “gap theory” between Daniel’s 69th “week/seven” and the 70th etc… .  What a mess!

After I graduated CCBC, I went back to my home Church – Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and I began getting involved in the Jr. H.S. and H.S. programs.  I remember one New Year’s Eve – Pastor Chuck Smith was giving one of his famous “Prophecy Updates.”  His approach just didn’t sit well with me after being trained in hermeneutics and expository preaching – he simply read select passages out of Matthew 24 and assumed that everything that was happening at that time in the Middle East (and other current events “signs”) were for our generation and that he was “convinced” that the “Lord was coming soon to rapture” the Church.

Classic Amillennialism

After a brief stay at my home church I decided to further my theological training and attended another Dispensational Bible College – The Master’s College (affiliated with Pastor John MacArthur).  It was there that I was doing a report on “the kingdom of God” and had read several books – but this time a great deal of Amillennial or Covenant Theology material mixed in with Dispensational sources.  I quickly was converted to Amillennialism in that I saw no Biblical support for these Dispensational doctrinal distinctions such as:

1. Jesus allegedly offered a literal earthly kingdom to Israel.

2.  This kingdom allegedly got “postponed.”

3.  There wasn’t this major distinction between the Church and Israel – in particularly noticing that the Apostles hermeneutic in interpreting the OT was vastly different than Dispensationalism’s – applying OT promises to the Church (the very thing Dispensationalism said couldn’t be done etc…).

4.  The Amillennial hermeneutic and its use of the analogy of Scripture was so much simpler and better in that there was only ONE coming of Christ, attended with one judgment and resurrection of the dead at the end of the age.  I thought all of my eschatological wows had ended!  But…

Partial Preterism

On a spring break from The Master’s College I met a former student in Post Falls ID, that was Reformed.  We had so much to talk about and he gave me one of his Pastor’s articles that he had written for a local News Paper.  The article was on how Dispensationalism was false teaching and he simply went through Matthew 24 demonstrating how all of the signs were fulfilled by AD 70 and that exegetically “this generation” was the AD 30 – AD 70 one.  He briefly touched upon NT imminence as well I believe.  Well, this just seemed so “exegetical” and simple too!  I began getting a hold of every Partial Preterist book I could – David Chilton, Kenneth Gentry, Gary DeMar, Marcellus Kik, Greg Bahnsen, etc….

It wasn’t too long that the uneasiness I felt about Dispensationalism began coming back.  The “double vision” hermeneutics and confusion that I had left behind in Dispensational came back this time “seven fold” in the form of:  1. two comings of Christ – one in AD 70 to end Israel’s eschaton and the second (third?) coming to end history and end the Churches eschaton.  2.  Two Great Commissions to bring an end to… 3. Two end of the age(s) to… 4. judge the dead (one spiritual in AD 70 and an alleged literal one at the end of world history)… that would 5. Usher in two New Heavens and Earth(s) (one spiritual in AD 70 and an alleged physical one at the end of world history) etc….

Another source of uneasiness was that in all of the Partial Preterist material I had (to that date) gave a lot of exegesis of Matthew 24:1-34, but really none beyond verses 35-36 which were practically assumed to be referring to another coming of Jesus thousands of years removed from the one in the previous verses.  These two issues brought much uneasiness.

I remember giving a “persuasive speech” in my speech class and it was designed to convince the class (virtually all Dispensationalists) that the Great Tribulation is past, all the signs were fulfilled by AD 70, and that “a” parousia/coming of Christ took place at that time as well.  I thought it went well until the Q & A session kicked in.  Virtually every question or comment came out, “Aren’t you saying that the second coming took place then too if these other events were fulfilled in AD 70”?  I of course had to remind them that there were two comings in the NT which was followed by comments such as, “Yeah, but that doesn’t make much sense etc…”  I was thinking to myself that this two coming theory didn’t make much sense to me either – but I couldn’t let them know that!

Synthesis of Classic Amillennialism & Partial Preterism

I remember doing a study on Christ coming as a thief in my dorm room at The Master’s College and looking at the various conflicting views on this subject and the NT texts which developed it.  It was in that study I stumbled upon David Chilton’s comments that he took the coming of Christ as a thief in Matthew 24:43 as being fulfilled in AD 70:

“This interpretation [on the New Heavens and Earth of Rev. 21 and 2 Peter 3 arriving in AD 70] is confirmed by St. Peter’s further information:  In this imminent “Day of the Lord” which is about to come upon the first-century world “like a thief” (cf. Matt. 24:42-43; 1 Thess. 5:2; Rev. 3:3), “the elements will be destroyed with intense heat” (v. 10; cf. v. 12).”  (David Chilton, Days of Vengeance, p. 542, emphasis mine).

I thought to myself, “finally, someone that actually goes beyond verse 34 in Matthew 24, and sees what I’m seeing!”  When it was confirmed to me that there was only ONE coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25, it became clear that the rest of the NT follows that pattern and that the ONE Second Coming event was fulfilled in AD 70.  First let me provide you with a chart that gives you a visual of what I was looking at when it came to the conflicted nature of the Church on Christ coming as a thief, then I will provide another chart that shows once Matthew 24-25 is not divided, the rest of Pauline eschatology follows suit.

Christ comes “as a thief”

Passage

Partial Preterism

D. Chilton

Partial Preterism

K. Gentry

Pre-Trib. Rapture

J. MacArthur

Amill & Hist. Premill.
Matt. 24:43 AD 70 Future  Second Coming Future  Rapture Future Second Coming
2 Peter 3:10 AD 70 Future  Second Coming Future

Second Coming

Future  Second Coming
1 Thess. 5:2, 4 AD 70 Future  Second Coming Future  Rapture Future  Second Coming
Rev. 3:3 AD 70 AD 70 Future  Rapture Future  Second Coming
Rev. 16:15 AD 70 AD 70 Future

Second Coming

Future  Second Coming

This is what was going through my mind at this point:

Premise #1If it is true that the coming of Christ as a thief is both the Second Coming and Rapture event (Matt. 24=1 Thess. 4-5=2 Pet. 3=Rev. 3; 16),…

Premise #2 – …and if it is also true that Christ coming as a thief was imminently and spiritually fulfilled in AD 70,…

Conclusion – …then it necessarily follows that when Christ came as a thief spiritually in AD 70, that is when the Second Coming and Rapture event was fulfilled.

I said to myself, “Really, is this someone [David Chilton] who sees what I’m seeing?  There isn’t this “two sections” or “two comings” of Jesus in Matthew 24?!?”  Well, providentially I was coming up on another break from college and my roommate invited me to stay at his house (in Sacramento, CA) so I tagged along with him.  I noticed that David Chilton didn’t live far away from this area and so I set up a lunch appointment with him.  When we met, I almost immediately brought up what he had written and asked, “If you take Christ coming as a thief in Matthew 24 to be AD 70, then you don’t divide Matthew 24 into two sections or comings – do you?  And if you don’t, perhaps you are seeing what I am, in that there is only one second coming of Jesus mentioned in the NT and it happened in AD 70?”  His response was priceless – he simply smiled at me and said, “Mike, there is a book you need to read by James Stuart Russell, The Parousia.  From there he invited me over to his house for a while and he just wanted to have small talk.

It was dawning on me- “What if the Amillennial view is correct in that there is only one second coming being discussed throughout Matthew 24-25 and the Partial Preterist view is correct that the Son of Man coming on the clouds and or “the parousia” happened in AD 70 (ie. that the second coming of Jesus happened in AD 70 and has already been fulfilled)?  This was followed with me doing my own study comparing Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and charting out the parallels and noting that these were one and the same coming of Christ!  It became very obvious to me that the Amillennial view which taught Matthew 24=1 Thessalonians 4-5 was accurate (ie. a correct use of the Analogy of Scripture hermeneutic), while at the same time the Partial Preterist view was accurate in that the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds – at the sound of a trumpet, happened within the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (ie. an exegetical approach to the use of apocalyptic language and NT imminence).  The following chart expresses what was going through my mind at this point.

If A (Matt. 24) was fulfilled in AD 70 and yet is = to B (1 Thess. 4-5) and B (1 Thess. 4) is = to C (1 Cor. 15) then A (Matt. 24) is = to C (1 Cor. 15). And therefore, both B (1 Thess. 4) and C (1 Cor. 15) were also fulfilled in AD 70 just as A (Matt. 24) was.  Two or More Things that Are Equal to Another Thing Are Also Equal to Each Other:

Since A (Mat. 24) = B (1 Thess. 4)
Christ Returns from Heaven 24:30 4:16
With Voice of Arch Angel 24:31 4:16
With Trumpet of God 24:31 4:16
Caught/Gathered Together with/to Christ 24:31 4:17
“Meet” the Lord in the Clouds 24:30 & 25:6 4:17
Exact Time Unknown 24:36 5:1-2
Christ Comes as a Thief 24:43 5:2
Unbelievers Caught Off Guard 24:37-39 5:3
Time of Birth Pangs 24:8 5:3
Believers Not Deceived 24:43 5:4-5
Believers to Be Watchful 24:42 5:6
Exhorted to Sobriety 24:49 5:7
Son/Sunlight Shinning From E. to W. / Sons of the Day 24:27, 36, & 38 5:4-8
And B (1 Thess. 4) =  C (1 Cor. 15)
The Sleeping to Be Raised 4:13-14 15:12-18
The Living to Be aught/Changed 4:15-17 15:51-52
Christ’s Coming (Greek: Parousia) 4:15 15:23
At the Sound of the Trumpet 4:16 15:52
Encouraged to Stand Firm 4:18 15:58
Same Contemporary “We” 4:15-17 15:51-52
Then A (Matt. 24)  =  C (1 Cor. 15)
Christ to Come (Greek: Parousia) 24:27 15:23
His People to Be Gathered/Changed 24:31 15:52
To Come with the Sound of a Trumpet 24:31 15:52
To Be “The End” (Greek telos, the goal) 24:3, 14 15:24
Kingdom Consummation (goal reached) Luke 21:30-32 15:24
All Prophecy Fulfilled at This Point Luke 21:22 15:54-55
Victory over the Law/Temple Mat. 24:1 15:55-56
Same Contemporary “We” Mat. 24:2ff 15:51-52

Two or More Things that Are Equal to Another Thing Are Also Equal to Each Other.

Matthew 24                     1 Thessalonians 4          1 Corinthians 15 

At His Coming (24:27-31) = At His Coming (4:16) = At His Coming (15:23)
At the Trumpet (24:31) = At the Trumpet (4:16) = At the Trumpet (15:52)
Dead Raised, All Gathered (24:31) = Dead Raised (4:16) = Dead Raised (15:35-44)
All Living Gathered
(24:31)
= Living Caught Together to Him (4:17) = Status of Living Changed (15:51)

I would latter write David Chilton a private letter expressing that his smile made me feel uncomfortable in that it communicated to me that he knew what the truth was but he was sitting on it or compromising it.  He wrote me a scathing letter back expressing how my view would never amount to anything except to be a footnote in one of his books.  This letter was responded to by my second, in which I told him I would be praying that the Lord would discipline Him for compromising and suppressing the truth and for his pride.  Within a year or two, I had moved to Sacramento, CA (having dropped out of Master’s College – no need to go in debt for a theological education that was bogus) and was living two blocks from the hospital David Chilton ended up staying in (after his heart attack).  I took the church I was attending (a small Sovereign Grace Full Preterist Church) and our worship team and visited David in the hospital where we sang worship songs (I didn’t mention our correspondence).  We would later have lunch again, and David apparently did remember our correspondence and apologized to me for his letter and did say that he knew that the second coming happened in AD 70.  From there he contacted other Full Preterists such as Don Preston and would be more vocal about his convictions.

Then I would begin writing Gary DeMar and realized that he too did not believe Matthew 24 could be divided into two comings of Christ.  He assured me he would be addressing this issue in his next edition of Last Days Madness, which he did.

Let’s first get a bird’s-eye view of where everyone is on 1 and 2 Thessalonians and then I will address Gary’s problems:

Passages Full Preterism Partial Preterism Milton Terry Partial Preterist Gary DeMar Partial Preterist Keith Mathison Partial Preterist Kenneth Gentry Amill. &

Hist. Premill. 

 

1 Thess. 1 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 Future Future Future
1 Thess. 2 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 Future
1 Thess. 3 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 Future Future Future
1 Thess. 4 AD 70 AD 70 Future Future Future Future
1 Thess. 5 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 Future Future
2 Thess. 1 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 Future Future
2 Thess. 2 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 AD 70 Future

But here are the problems with Gary’s current position which he has held to for way too long without progressing or “continuing in doctrine.”

Gary DeMar believes 1 Thessalonians 5 was fulfilled in AD 70.  One of the reasons he does so is because Paul uses the same phrases Jesus uses concerning the coming “birth pains” and Christ coming as a “thief” in Matthew 24.  Look at numbers 7 and 9 below:

Matthew 24 – Fulfilled in AD 70 1 Thessalonians 4 – Still Future?
1.  Christ comes from heaven (24:30) 1.  Christ comes from heaven (4:16)
2.  With archangelic voice (24:31) 2.  With archangelic voice (4:16)
3.  With God’s trumpet call (24:31) 3.  With God’s trumpet call (4:16)
4.  Gathered/Caught to Christ (24:31) 4.  Gathered/Caught to Christ (4:17)
5.  Believers meet Christ in clouds (24:30) 5.  Believers meet Christ in clouds (4:17)
Matthew 24 – Fulfilled in AD 70 1 Thessalonians 5 – Fulfilled in AD 70
6.  Exact time unknown (24:36) 6.  Exact time unknown (5:1-2)
7.  Christ comes like a thief (24:43) 7.  Christ comes like a thief (5:2)
8.  Unbelievers caught unaware (37-39) 8.  Unbelievers caught unaware (5:3)
9.  Birth pains (24:8 – fulfilled in AD 70) 9.  Birth pains (5:3 – fulfilled in future?)
10.  Believers are not deceived (24:43) 10.  Believers are not deceived (5:4-5)
11.  Believers told to be watchful (24:42) 11.  Believers told to be watchful (5:6)
12.  Exhortation against drunkenness (24:49) 12.  Exhortation against drunkenness (5:7)
13.  The Day, shinning from east to west, (24:27, 36-38) 13.  The Day, sons of light, sons of day (1 Thess. 5:4-8)

But why wouldn’t DeMar address the remaining 6 parallels or phrases Paul is getting from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24 and import them into 1 Thessalonians 5? Because to do so, would bring to much attention to this parallel hermeneutic and have people asking and demanding why he doesn’t follow this same approach in paralleling Matthew 24:30-31 with 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 (see #’s 1-5 in chart)?!?

This begs another question for DeMar to answer – since he publishes James Jordan’s commentary on Daniel 12 – which supports Daniel (his soul) was raised out of Abraham’s Bosom or Hades at Christ’s parousia in AD 70 to inherit eternal life, then why isn’t 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 descriptive of this spiritual AD 70 fulfillment?!?

Partial Preterist Keith Mathison in his book on Postmillennialism  took 1 Thessalonians 5 as fulfilled in AD 70.  One of his reasons for this was because of Paul’s use of “birth pains” (again see #9 below) and paralleled this phrase with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24:

Matthew 24 – Fulfilled in AD 70 1 Thessalonians 4 – Still Future?
1.  Christ comes from heaven (24:30) 1.  Christ comes from heaven (4:16)
2.  With archangelic voice (24:31) 2.  With archangelic voice (4:16)
3.  With God’s trumpet call (24:31) 3.  With God’s trumpet call (4:16)
4.  Gathered/Caught to Christ (24:31) 4.  Gathered/Caught to Christ (4:17)
5.  Believers meet Christ in clouds (24:30) 5.  Believers meet Christ in clouds (4:17)
Matthew 24 – Still Future? 1 Thessalonians 5 – Fulfilled in AD 70
6.  Exact time unknown (24:36) 6.  Exact time unknown (5:1-2)
7.  Christ comes like a thief (24:43) 7.  Christ comes like a thief (5:2)
8.  Unbelievers caught unaware (37-39) 8.  Unbelievers caught unaware (5:3)
9.  Birth pains (24:8) 9.  Birth pains (5:3)
10.  Believers are not deceived (24:43) 10.  Believers are not deceived (5:4-5)
11.  Believers told to be watchful (24:42) 11.  Believers told to be watchful (5:6)
12.  Exhortation against drunkenness (24:49) 12.  Exhortation against drunkenness (5:7)
13.  The Day, shinning from east to west, (24:27, 36-38) 13.  The Day, sons of light, sons of day (1 Thess. 5:4-8)

But what about the other 7 phrases and parallels Paul uses in the rest of 1 Thessalonians 5 that He is getting from Jesus in Matthew 24? If Mathison is consistent in his use of parallelism and in using an identical phraseology heremeutic, then this disproves his first theory (he too no longer divides Matthew 24 – see his new book, From Age to Age) that Matthew 24:36ff. contains eschatological material that needs to be fulfilled in our future.

If parallels and similar phrases from Matthew 24 prove that 1 Thessalonians 5 was fulfilled by AD 70, then why wouldn’t the same hermeneutic of parallels and similar phrases prove that 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 was also fulfilled in AD 70 (again #’s 1-5)?

Partial Preterist Kenneth Gentry cites authors to support Paul is following Matthew 24 when he parallels and makes his Preterist case  that 2 Thessalonians 2 was fulfilled in AD 70.  But those same sources he uses, produce these parallels as well which Gentry arbitrarily ignores, because he knows if he was consistent in this use of the analogy of Scripture principle of interpretation, it would lead him to Full Preterism.  Here is how Gentry understands Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4-5:

Matthew 24 – Fulfilled in AD 70 1 Thessalonians 4 – Still Future?
1.  Christ comes from heaven (24:30) 1.  Christ comes from heaven (4:16)
2.  With archangelic voice (24:31) 2.  With archangelic voice (4:16)
3.  With God’s trumpet call (24:31) 3.  With God’s trumpet call (4:16)
4.  Gathered/Caught to Christ (24:31) 4.  Gathered/Caught to Christ (4:17)
5.  Believers meet Christ in clouds (24:30) 5.  Believers meet Christ in clouds (4:17)
Matthew 24 – Still Future? 1 Thessalonians 5 – Still Future?
6.  Exact time unknown (24:36) 6.  Exact time unknown (5:1-2)
7.  Christ comes like a thief (24:43) 7.  Christ comes like a thief (5:2)
8.  Unbelievers caught unaware (37-39) 8.  Unbelievers caught unaware (5:3)
9.  Birth pains (24:8 – fulfilled in AD 70) 9.  Birth pains (5:3 – fulfilled in future?)
10.  Believers are not deceived (24:43) 10.  Believers are not deceived (5:4-5)
11.  Believers told to be watchful (24:42) 11.  Believers told to be watchful (5:6)
12.  Exhortation against drunkenness (24:49) 12.  Exhortation against drunkenness (5:7)
13.  The Day, shinning from east to west, (24:27, 36-38) 13.  The Day, sons of light, sons of day (1 Thess. 5:4-8)

So why wouldn’t Gentry parallel Matthew 24:36-49 with 1 Thessalonains 5:1-8 to prove that both of these sections are to be fulfilled in the future?To do so would have Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 use the “birth pains” (an alleged future fulfillment) parallel to Matthew 24:8 – which he says was fulfilled in AD 70. This is a similar problem Gentry has if he compares Matthew 24 with Luke 17, in that Luke 17 makes it clear there are not two comings of Christ in view.  Luke mixes up AD 70 events to alleged future events, and allegedly future events, he places to be fulfilled in AD 70.

To make all of the 7 parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 5 would end up “proving to much” – in that everyone would be asking why not make the parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4 then?!? If Paul is following Jesus’ material in 1 Thessalonians 5, why isn’t he following it in 1 Thessalonians 4?!? (again #’s 1-5).

Another problem Gentry has created for himself is that he now teaches the resurrection of Dan. 12:2 was fulfilled spiritually at Christ’s parouisa in AD 70. Therefore, this begs another question for Gentry to answer – WHY isn’t 1 Thessalonains 4:16-17 descriptive of the spiritual coming and spiritual resurrection of Daniel 7:13/Daniel 12:2 — that he says was fulfilled in AD 70?!?

It should be abundantly clear that Paul is following Jesus’ teaching Matthew 24=1 Thessalonians 4-5.  As G.K. Beale points out in his commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians – Paul practically follows the exact same chronology of Jesus in Matthew 24!  This is why the Classic Amillennial view and the Full Preterist view either have all of Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4-5 as fulfilled in the future or fulfilled in AD 70.  The analogy of Scripture demands one or the other.  But the first century imminent expectation demands the Full Preterist interpretation.

Full Preterism

At this point I was a Full Preterist (in the broad sense of the definition) and didn’t know it.  After I got back to The Master’s College and received Russell’s book (from Walt Hibbard’s GCB’s) and read his exegesis of Matthew 24 – I remember jumping up and down in my dorm room shouting, “YES!  I found someone that believes what I do (the NT only teaches one Second Coming and it was fulfilled in AD 70)!”  But then the depression and lonely feelings came back as I noticed that this author wrote the book in the 1800’s and was dead.  But I was determined to find out if there was anyone (alive that is) that believed and saw what I did.  I got onto the Internet and began debating my position on Matthew 24 with others online to see what would happen.  It wasn’t long before I got into contact with Ken Davies and David Green.  I was finally at peace and have been a Full Preterist now for 26 years and have never even thought of looking back.

Although the Lord (at least up to this point) never called me to be a Pastor, He did open the doors up for me to be a Full Preterist theologian, apologist, and author.  I enjoy writing Full Preterist articles on my two web sites:  www.fullpreterism.com and www.treeoflifeministries.info.  I  have also been blessed to be a co-author in House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?  In the book I wanted to have as our guiding foundation and apologetic to be the one that actually led me into the Full Preterist movement – that is a synthesis between the Classic Amillennial view and the Partial Preterist view (or simply put – one of the Reformation’s cries, “Reformed and always reforming”).  The Full Preterist movement is nothing other than the “organic development” between these two Reformed eschatological views.  As I wrote in HD:

“1)  Partial Preterism – Imminence and fulfillment are accepted.  Christ appeared a second time at the end of the old covenant age.  There was a spiritual, corporate, covenantal judgment and resurrection of the living and dead which was attended by a passing of the old creation and arrival of the new in AD 70 (Dan. 12:1-4; Matt. 5:17-18; 13:39-43, 24-25; Acts 1:11; Rom. 8:18; 13:11-12; Heb. 8:13; 9:26-28; 10:37; 1 Peter 4:5-7; 2 Peter 3; Rev. 1-22).

2)  Classic Amillennialism – The New Testament teaches only one future coming of Christ, general judgment, and resurrection of the living and dead attended by the restoration of creation at the end of the age.”

“…The choice is simple. Either one continues propagating the myth that these two propositions within the futurist paradigm do not lead to a contradiction, or one accepts the organic development of full preterism which unites them.” (HD Second Edition, 139).

My exhortation to the reader studying Full Preterism

And again, here is a small portion of our conclusion in HD that I made a contribution towards and want to pass on to you as you study the Full Preterist position:

“As a Reformed believer, dear reader, you know that there is no middle ground between Arminianism and Calvinism.  You may have tried at one time to say that you were neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian.  Or you may have acknowledged that the Bible teaches Calvinism, but you rejected the teaching because you were troubled by its implications.  Or you may have even been a closet Calvinist for years.  Though the road was perhaps difficult, you eventually embraced the doctrines of grace, and now you know there is no compromise position between the two doctrines.

Many Reformed believers today are having the same experience with the doctrine of preterism.  They are learning that it is also a hard pill to swallow and that it is nevertheless the doctrine of Scripture.  They are learning that it represents “the whole counsel of God” in the area of eschatology.  After we are confronted with biblical preterism, we may try to straddle the fence, but there is truly no middle ground.  Just as R.C. Sproul (Sr.) would consider a four-point Calvinist to be in reality a “confused Arminian,” more and more futurists, on their way to biblical preterism, are beginning to see that partial preterism is just “confused futurism.”  There is no biblical basis for “partial preterism” even as there is no biblical basis for “partial Calvinism.”  This is why partial preterism invariably leads to full preterism.  This is why Keith Mathison and Ken Gentry have both come closer to “hyper-preterism” since they wrote WSTTB.  Mathison now believes that the prophecy of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 was fulfilled in AD 70 and Gentry now believes that the resurrection in Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled in AD 70.  This is why partial preterist theologian David Chilton became a full preterist before he passed away, even though he knew he would be creedally anathematized by partial preterists such as his publisher Gary North.

Though we consider futurists who condemn us to be our brothers in Christ, we must acknowledge that they have been confronted with the truth, and rejected it, and declared us to be accursed.  They would have done well to heed the wisdom of Gamaliel:  “And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God” (Acts 5:38-39). But instead, they are persecuting us and suppressing the truth, though ultimately to no avail.

The biblical record from cover to cover teaches us that taking a stand against traditions and authorities which nullify Scripture is not easy.  When leaders take their stand against the teachings of Scripture for the sake of tradition, that is when God raises up “the things which are not” (1 Cor. 1:28)—fishermen, shepherds, janitors, waiters, drivers, etc.,— to stand in the gap.  The rise of Reformed preterists within the history of the church can be likened to the conflict between David the shepherd and Saul the king, and between Luther and the One, Holy, Roman Catholic Church—small and humble beginnings, with powerful and profound results to be looked for in the future.

Preterists have been forced into the wilderness and caves by those who have felt threatened by our stand for the Word of God; and God continues to add to the number of men and women who are shunned by creedal futurists.  These believers have been driven out by Saul-ish spear throwers, but they find their purpose in defending the truth at all costs.  And as a result, they become God’s valiant warriors.

It took only a handful of committed Christians with a passion for God’s word to turn the Jewish and Roman world completely upside down with the gospel. God is not calling closet Calvinists or closet preterists, but faithful men to boldly proclaim His truth to His flock.  Be assured that persecution and tears will come, but if you faithfully proclaim and trust in God’s Word, He will keep your tears in His bottle and turn back your enemies, and in one way or another, He will vindicate you and the truth together in Him (Jer. 1; Josh. 1; Ps. 56).” (HD, 235-236).

This is why every HD book I sign and mail off, I list Jer. 1; Josh. 1 and Psalm 56 – because this has been my experience and exhortation I want to pass on to you.  That is, tears of pain and tears of joy will enter your heart when you see this truth and rejoice in God’s Word – and yet at the same time you will always have to be “strong and very courageous” never being “discouraged” to “fear the faces of men” or seek to compromise, for He will fight your battles, turn back your enemies, and His Word will not return to Him void!  This is your calling, your duty and your privilege.  Peace – Selah.

About Mike Sullivan

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