Final Thoughts on the Revelation Symposium

by | Mar 8, 2013 | Eschatology, New Testament, Systematic Theology

I thought I would conclude these blog posts with a few stray comments on the Revelation Symposium.

First, I wanted to say more, but had no opportunity at the Symposium, about the danger of Partial Preterism. But let me first qualify what I want to say.

I admit the difference between partial and full preterism. It is important to acknowledge that partial preterism lies within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy, while full or hyper-preterism does not. It is important to make clear that Gary Demar and many others reject hyper-preterism as heresy. He said so at the Symposium. That is all good. I think he is right about hyper-preterism.

But now let me give my worry. To put my concern in a nutshell, it is this. The same hermeneutic which can ascribe everything in Matthew 24 to the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and can understand Revelation 1:7 (BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.) of the same event must lead, it seems to me, to full preterism. Yes, I know that Gary and others do not want it to go there, but I think it does. They have probably have attempted it, but they need to explain why it does not. If these passages can apply to AD 70, why not 1 and 2 Thessalonians and every other reference to the parousia of Christ in the New Testament? Partial Preterism is responsible for the logic of its hermeneutic.

And along this line I have another worry. The assumption that the language of shortness and nearness necessarily implies an event within the generation of those living at the time of Christ’s first advent is the very logic that full preterism uses to teach its views. An examination of the uses of “near” and its relatives in the New Testament show that it is used of Christ’s Second Coming bodily and visibly in glory, I think. Look them up, and if you can take all of the events described as near as a reference to AD 70, you will be on well on your way to hyper-preterism!

I have responded to this assumption about nearness in the essay: “A Reply to the Hyper-Preterist Argument from Imminence.”  Though the linked essay is addressed against full preterism, its reasoning applies to the partial preterist argument as wells.

Second, wanting to be an equal opportunity offender, let me say that one thing that Jim Hamilton said also worried me. Before I tell you my worry, I do want to say that I do deeply appreciate Jim and his labors. Having said that, however, and before I come to my deepest worry, I have to say that I think it is mislabeling to call Jim’s position, futurism. He thinks that the seven seals refer to events characteristic of the entire inter-adventual period. He thinks that the 1260 days of Revelation 11 refers to the church age and the two witnesses to the church. He is correct, I think. But this is not futurism. He should have made clear at the symposium that he was defending a highly modified form of futurism.

But here is my worry. Jim said in the roundtable q&a that every ethnic Jew alive at Christ’s coming would be converted by seeing Christ’s return. My response at the time was, “Wow, really?!” I am really surprised that Jim believes this and hope that I misunderstood him, but I do not think I did. Again, I do not want to make Jim responsible for actually holding what I believe are the logical implications of his position. He is responsible, however, for the good and necessary consequences of what he believes.

What are they? First, being converted by seeing Christ return is not salvation by faith, it is salvation by sight. Sight and faith are two different things (2 Cor. 5:7). Second, the Bible teaches that people must repent before Christ’s return. Christ delays His return so that people can be repent before He comes (2 Pet. 3:9). No Jew and no Gentile will be saved unless they repent before Christ’s return. Third, if the privilege of being converted by Christ’s Second Coming only applies to the Jews, then you have the return in principle of the Dispensational tendency to teach different ways of salvation for their two peoples of God. Fourth, neither Romans 11, nor Revelation 1:7, requires this interpretation. Even if you think Romans 11 teaches a mass conversion of the Jews–and I doubt it–, you still do not have to say that they are converted by seeing Christ’s Second Coming. In fact, in context you have to say that they are justified by believing in Christ before He comes again. Neither Revelation 1:7, nor Zechariah 12:10-14, requires this kind absolute universalism of the conversion of every ethnic Jew. Nor should they be used to contradict the clear NT teaching that men must be saved by faith prior to the Second Coming of Christ.

But let me conclude by once more congratulating both Jim and Gary on their fine presentations and faithfulness to God’s Word as they understand it!

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