In The Last Days According to Jesus, RC Sproul states the following: “The great weakness of full preterism—and what I regard to be its fatal flaw—is its treatment of the final resurrection. If full preterism is to gain wide credibility in our time, it must overcome this obstacle.”[i]
There is great irony in Sproul’s comment above. The irony is this: According to Scripture, it is the futurist treatment of the final resurrection that presents a fatal flaw for the traditional view. No matter what view of the resurrection may be held by full preterists, each and every one of them resolves the Biblical problem that futurists have. The fatal flaw of the futurist treatment of the final resurrection is quite easy to demonstrate, as you will see below.
“22To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”
In verse 23, Paul states that Christ was the first to rise from the dead. He affirms this in Colossians 1:18:
“[Christ] is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.”
He affirms this same thing again in Revelation 1:5. Now, futurists argue that in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is teaching that believers will be resurrected after the pattern of Christ’s biological resurrection. The problem is that verses 20-23 state the following:
“20But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
Paul affirms once again in 1 Corinthians 15 that Christ was the first to rise from the dead. And here he teaches that believers will be resurrected after the pattern of Christ’s resurrection. So futurists are correct to note that Paul taught that the resurrection of believers would follow the pattern of Christ’s resurrection, but the fatal flaw of the futurist treatment of what that pattern looks like contradicts Paul’s doctrine of the resurrection of Christ.
Paul taught consistently that Christ was the first to rise from the dead. Yet we know that Christ was not the first to rise biologically. Thus, the resurrection of Christ that Paul had in mind CANNOT be His biological resurrection. So how is it that Paul can teach that Christ was the first to rise from the dead and that believers would follow that pattern of Christ’s resurrection, and yet, it is argued, that the pattern to be followed is the biological resurrection of Christ?
Sproul’s comment that full preterism has a fatal flaw in its treatment of the final resurrection is rooted in tradition, not in the Scriptures. Therefore, if futurists are to continue to claim that Scripture is the ultimate authority for truth, then it is time they adhere to Sproul’s recognition that full preterism should gain wide credibility in our time because any full preterist treatment of the resurrection easily overcomes the obstacle and the fatal flaw that actually belongs to the futurists.
[i] RC Sproul, Last Days According to Jesus (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 203.