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Smashing Brian Simmons’ Attempt to Smash Full Preterism

Smash full preterism now! That is the title of a podcast series by Brian Simmons[1]. According to the description, the podcast is “for listeners looking for a Scriptural answer to full preterism.” Why are they looking for a Scriptural answer? Because they don’t have one. Why not? Because there isn’t one. But Simmons makes an attempt to find a Scriptural answer to give to people who are trying to find one.

Think about it: Why are people looking for a Biblical answer to full preterism? Because full preterism is convincing. And since people have been taught that they need professionals to help them understand the meaning of the Scriptures, in spite of the fact that the truth is clear and obvious, they look to the professionals for help because the Bible can’t possibly be that clear. So instead of believing what they themselves have seen with their own eyes, they look for the more difficult meaning that fits what they have believed all along. Enter Simmons.

He starts by refuting partial preterism, and might I add, does a superb job. He demonstrates from Matthew 24 and 1 Corinthians 15 that the resurrection happens in conjunction with the parousia. Therefore, if the parousia happened in 70 AD, then the resurrection happened in 70 AD. He quotes 1 Corinthians 15:51 to demonstrate that Paul expected the resurrection to occur in his lifetime. Paul was indeed including himself in the word, “we.” He expected to be in that number that would not sleep. Thus, the resurrection was expected to happen in the first century. The Partial preterists say the resurrection didn’t happen. Simmons states that full preterists “spiritualize” the resurrection and that both partial and full preterists place the parousia in 70 AD. Then he goes on to say that they’re both wrong because there was no physical resurrection in 70 AD. Thus, since there was no physical resurrection in 70 AD, then there was no parousia.

Yet Simmons never demonstrates that the resurrection is physical. He assumes it because his listeners who are looking for a Biblical answer to full preterism also assume it. After all, since the majority of Christians today believe in a physical resurrection, then it must be biblical. Majority determines truth, right?

Simmons makes a passing remark that in Matthew 24:3, the Greek word for “sign” always refers to something that is visible. He doesn’t elaborate on it, but gives the impression that Matthew 24 is about the resurrection, and therefore, the resurrection must be visible. But the focus of Matthew 24 is not the resurrection. Rather, the focus is the destruction of the Temple buildings that would be destroyed – a fairly visible event.

Simmons quickly moves on to state that the phrase “end of the age” is very important. Why? Apparently, it isn’t important because it’s referring to the end of the Old Covenant age which would come via the destruction of the Temple. According to Simmons, the phrase is important because Christ already defined it in Matthew 13: The parables of the mysteries of the kingdom. Let’s follow Simmons: In Jesus’ interpretation about seed sown among thorns, the word “world,” in verse 22, is the same word that the disciples used in Matthew 24:3. In Luke 8:14, Christ interprets “world” and “age” as “life.” According to Simmons, this is the period when people are saved by the seed being sown. Therefore, the parables are about the time since 70 AD and before: that is what “this age” is all about.

In response to Simmons, the first thing to note is that the parables are spoken to and about Israel. Jesus’ ministry on earth was to the house of Israel. Second, the distinction between Jew and Gentiles was dissolving under the ministry of apostles. Thus, there was no more focus on physical Jews receiving the Word with joy after the parousia because the distinction between Jew and Gentile was obliterated. Third, Simmons leads his listeners to believe that the parables are about everybody that will ever exist. Yet these parables are NOT about what would happen after the parousia. Simmons eisegetes much into these parables. The context of the parables is about seed going out during the age they were living in. They teach nothing about the age to come. It is not a good and necessary inference that the parables imply that seed will stop being sown after the end of the age.

The point is, Jesus is teaching what the kingdom of heaven would be like until the end of the age. Simmons attempts to make a whole case against preterism by producing an existential argument using a text that cannot substantiate his claim. Just because Simmons says that the continual spread of the Gospel today means we are still in that “present age” does not make it so. In other words, the continual spread of the Gospel today does not mean that we are still in that “present age.” All it means is that the Gospel continues to spread.

Fifth, Simmons is really grasping at straws by trying to make a case out of Luke’s use of the word “life” instead of “age” or “world.” Again, just because Luke 8:14 speaks of the worries and riches and pleasures of “this life” does not imply what Simmons wants it to imply about the “age to come.”

The same goes for Simmons’ interpretation of Galatians 1:4 concerning “the present evil age.” Simmons says, “The age is characterized by evil. It is evidential in nature. To say ‘this age’ ended is to overthrow the moral teachings of Jesus and to overthrow the Gospel.” How so? All of the arguments presented by Simmons completely ignore the Biblical framework of full preterism. He assumes a literal rendering of any Biblical text that helps him “prove” that all the prophecies have to be fulfilled in an evidential way. Anyone who comes to Simmons for professional help in defeating full preterism will be satisfied with his answers only if they are content with a framework that makes cartoons out of prophecies.

The Smash Preterism Now podcast states, “This podcast will be found essential to a right understanding of what Christ and His inspired apostles meant when they placed the parousia in a first-century context.” Simmons has yet to explain, in his podcast, what Christ and His inspired apostles meant. He assumes a physical resurrection and claims an evidential problem. Where is the evidential problem? Just because Simmons claims that the texts that he gave are about physical things does not make it so. He has proven nothing except that partial preterists are inconsistent. People who are “looking for” a Biblical answer to full preterism will be content with Simmons’ answer because they have the same unsupported presuppositions that he does.

Simmons presents four texts that contain conditional elements that full preterists use to demonstrate that the parousia happened in 70 AD. These texts are Matthew 10:23, Matthew 16:28, Matthew 23:39, and Matthew 24:34.

Each of these verses contains the Greek double negative – the strongest possible negative in the Greek language. The latter clause in each of these verses contains the untranslatable word, “an”, which renders the force conditional. This conditional particle makes the first part of these verses conditional upon the second part. According to Brian, the subjunctive verb in these verses makes the case that the condition stated may or may not take place. Thus, according to Simmons, Christ is saying that the first half of each verse will not take place unless the second half might or might not take place. The condition might take place. Then again, it might not take place. To state Simmons’ position clearly: Christ is just wasting his breath. Let’s take a look:

Matthew 10:23: “And whenever they may persecute you in this city, flee to the other, for verily I say to you, ye may not have completed the cities of Israel till the Son of Man may come.”

Simmons states that the interpretation of this text is a matter of Grammar. So in essence, Jesus is saying, “You might or might not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man might or might not come.” If this is the case, then Jesus isn’t a prophet at all. He isn’t stating anything that anybody couldn’t state. Anyone can say, “I might or might not finish eating this sandwich before I might or might not get indigestion.” This is the absurdity that Simmons’ argument amounts to. If Jesus can be a prophet by stating these types of prophecies, then I guess I’m a prophet too!

Matthew 16:28. Simmons conveniently leaves verse 27 out of his lecture so that his listeners who are looking for a Scriptural answer to full preterism will leap for joy. Here are both verses together:

27`For, the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of his Father, with his messengers, and then he will reward each, according to his work. 28Verily I say to you, there are certain of those standing here who shall not taste of death till they may see the Son of Man coming in his reign.’

Simmons states that understanding verse 28 is a matter of Grammar. He also believes that Young translates verse 28 correctly, according to Grammar. Does Young translate verse 27 correctly, according to Grammar? There are no conditions in verse 27. The Greek word, mello, is correctly translated by Young as “about to.” Again, according Simmons, verse 28 means, “There are certain of those standing here who shall not taste of death till they might or might not see the Son of Man coming in his reign.” So once again, Jesus is essentially telling those standing there that they might or might not die before they see the coming of Christ. Taking Simmons’ line of reasoning, Jesus actually told us nothing about when His coming would happen. He simply played mind games to astonish a bunch of brainless followers.

In each of the verses that Simmons presents, we have a definite conditional clause. For Simmons, understanding their meaning is a question of Greek Grammar. The fulfillment of the statement is contingent on the fulfillment of the condition. And what is the condition according to Simmons? The condition of Christ’s coming is Jewish national repentance and their acceptance of Him as Messiah. What text does Simmons use to make his case? Acts 3:19-21, which teaches that the condition for Christ’s return is Israel’s repentance. And, according to Simmons, since Israel never repented, the parousia of Christ never happened.

Yet Simmons conveniently fails to read the rest of the passage. As it turns out, the number of believing men that day “came to be about five thousand” (4:4). Simmons believes in a literal interpretation of Scripture. Well, Peter was literally speaking to those men of Israel when he gave the condition: 19“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you.”

Further, Simmons fails to read verses 22-23: 22“Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. 23‘And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.'” What Simmons fails to communicate is that Israel was repenting and turning to the Lord. But Simmons must believe that every physical Israelite alive on earth prior to the coming of Christ will repent in order to fulfill the condition stated by Peter. Yet, if this is true, then according to verses 22-23, the coming of Christ will never happen because “every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.” Who are “THE” people? Are they people of planet earth? Of course not. The context is Israel. So according to Peter, every soul that does not heed that prophet will be destroyed; yet Simmons appears to be arguing that every Jew must be saved in order to fulfill the condition for Christ’s return. If, on the other hand, Simmons will concede that every Jew doesn’t have to be saved, then he loses his proof text for an unfulfilled condition of Israel’s repentance. Acts 3-4 tells us that about five thousand men were saved. Prior to this, about three thousand Jewish souls were saved in Acts 2. So what’s the magic number? What number will Simmons give that fulfills the condition?

Simmons applies the condition of Israel’s repentance to all of the time texts that Jesus spoke and states that they all must be interpreted in light of that condition. Yet, not one of those time texts contains any hint of such a condition. He tries to demonstrate this condition of Israel’s repentance by using a series of Old Testament texts as examples of conditional prophecies.

Interestingly enough, Simmons is arguing the same way that Richard Pratt argues in, When Shall These Things Be?, even to the extent of using the same Scriptures. One must wonder if Simmons learned his arguments from Pratt’s chapter. Pratt’s arguments are dealt with in detail by Edward J. Hassertt in House Divided: Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology. A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?. Since this article is long enough, I encourage the reader of this article to read House Divided, especially Hassertt’s response to Pratt. Suffice it to say that the end result of Pratt’s and Simmons’ arguments is that there is no certainty about anything because nothing that God predicted will ever happen since everything is contingent upon conditions placed upon humanity. As it turns out, their theology is nothing more than Open Theism.


[1] The podcast can be found here: http://antipreterist.podbean.com/2009/06/26/how-to-refute-preterism-part-1-smash-preterism-now/

About Alan Bondar

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