THE HERESY OF CONSISTENT PRETERISM
By Doug Newell
Pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church
II Timothy 2:16-18
Preterism is a belief that the return of Jesus Christ has already taken place
and that all prophecy has been fulfilled.
Proponents of this system will have you to believe that it is merely a
slight difference of eschatological opinions; however, I contend that it is a
dangerous, cancerous false doctrine that has dire consequence to the faith of
some who may fall prey to its malicious teaching.
It is a form of the same ancient heresy Paul warned Timothy about in II
Timothy 2:15-18 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman
that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane
and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word
will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is
past already; and overthrow the faith of some" (Emphasis
Hymenaus and Philetus also taught that the future resurrection had
already taken place just as modern consistent Preterism teaches today. Unfortunately,
it does not stop with the resurrection, but to be consistent they teach that all
prophecy is fulfilled.
Any prophetical passage in all of Holy Scripture you can name, any future
event in God's Word, it has already taken place; everything to the point
they teach we are now living in the new Heaven and new Earth.
Through the course of this discourse I intend to bring to light this
heresy, which I believe to be in many cases, is a damnable heresy, and show why
it is indeed a dangerous error, not simply another view of a "non-essential"
is not a new doctrine, and is believed and propagated even among those that call
themselves Landmark Baptists.
Hymenaus and Philetus might have taught church truth.
You may have heard a hearty amen from them hearing a message on the
doctrines of Grace; but they taught a deadly heresy, and there are some who do
They say they agree with us on church authority, and closed communion;
they say they agree with us on other Baptist distinctives, but spread a
First, let's look at some of the major points of heresy that the advocates of Preterism hold that makes this doctrine RANK heresy. Preterism teaches that Jesus Christ came back and fulfilled all prophecy contained in Holy Writ in AD 70. In the year AD 70 Rome destroyed the temple in Jerusalem lead by Emperor Titus, just as Jesus foretold.
This destruction is a historical fact and it did happen; but the basis of
this teaching is that ALL prophecy was fulfilled at this time.
They take the works of Josephus and other secular histories to be their
authority on the matter as it is necessary for them to rest upon secular
accounts as their foundation and not God's word.
Indeed, some of the things in the first 14 verses of the Matthew 24 were
fulfilled, but not in total.
The first 14 verses of Matthew 24 deal with the entire time period prior
to the rapture, and then, up through the first 3 & 1/2 years of the tribulation
were not fulfilled in total in AD 70.
Jesus mentioned the destruction of the temple in Matthew 24:2
"And Jesus said unto them, See ye
not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one
stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."
Jesus is speaking of the AD destruction of the temple by Rome.
But the next verse is very important to understanding the rest of the
as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately,
saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy
coming, and of the end of the world?"
The disciples after having thought of what the Lord had said asked three
questions. Question 1.When shall these things be?
Question 2. What shall be the sign of thy coming? Question 3. What shall
be the sign of the end of the world?
Jesus answers these three questions throughout the rest of the chapter.
The rest of the 24th chapter is not dealing explicitly with verse two,
but answering the questions of verse 3. The premise that all things were
fulfilled at this time is taken by the Preterists saying that the remainder of
the 24th chapter of Matthew deals with verse two and the year AD 70,
and this assertion forces all prophecy into that time period by taking scripture
out of context, or spiritualizing the scriptures instead of a literal
interpretation of scripture. They rest their proof of Christ's so-called AD 70
coming on the historical works of men, and Josephus in particular.
You cannot take the scripture and prove such a belief system.
A person could read their Bible and learn from the Bible alone the truth
of the church and desire to be a Baptist, a person could read their Bible and
learn the truth of Sovereign Grace from the Bible alone; however, you could not
read your Bible and become a Preterist because they rely extensively on
extra-biblical testimony. "Let
God be true and every man a liar." In
order for this theory that Matthew 24 was fulfilled in AD 70 to fit, everything
else in scripture has to shift to make room and thus the dangerous descent of
Preterism must then find someplace to put the time of Jacob's trouble,
so they teach the tribulation period was from AD 63 to AD 70. However, dealing
with the end of the tribulation God's word says in Revelation
he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced
him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."
Every eye did not see the Lord Jesus Christ.
When He comes, EVERY eye shall see him!
Only gross spiritualization of Holy Writ could explain away such passages
as "every eye shall see him when He comes in glory". Matthew
"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then
shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man
coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." It is hard
to nail down the whole of Preterism, because like most heresy, there are so many
One interpretation of this verse is that Christ's glory mentioned here
was the glory of Emperor Titus and the Roman army and that Christ was guiding
the army as He did Israel in the wilderness. This scripture is referencing the
second advent of the second coming of the Lord Jesus.
There will be a sign in heaven, and all the tribes, notice, all the
tribes, not just Jerusalem, but from America to Australia, all the people of the
earth shall mourn, and they, the whole earth, shall SEE the Son of man coming in
the clouds, with power and GREAT glory.
You would think that if the Lord Jesus Christ came back in great glory,
and an event that the whole world saw and mourned over that it would be
documented by every tribe and people on Earth.
It is not documented because it has not happened yet.
The most vital
point of the Christian faith that Preterism stands contrary to, is on the
resurrection, claiming it is already past and even goes so far as to a complete
denial of a bodily resurrection, claiming only a spiritual resurrection. In
order to make their AD 70 theory fit, their doctrine now has to do something
with the resurrection. Preterism,
like most dangerous heresy, will use the same words as you and I, but apply
their own definition.
For example, if you ask a Preterist if they believe in the resurrection,
they will answer yes.
If you ask them if they believe in the resurrection of Christ, they will
say yes; but what they mean by resurrection and what the Bible means by
resurrection are two completely different ideas.
Preterist, when speaking of resurrection, mean a spiritual resurrection,
or the new birth, it has nothing to do with the body, and if you press a
consistent Preterist for an answer they will, if they will be honest with you,
deny Christ's bodily resurrection as well.
Very deceptive, isn't it?
That's why it is dangerous, you must define the terms every step of the
way to find out what they truly believe.
General questions, unfortunately, will not get you to the bottom of their
Notice, in the frequently asked questions of a prominent website
dedicated to Preterism, which we will continue to refer to, concerning the
resurrection: "Preterism does teach the Resurrection of the dead, however it
does not subscribe to a physical resurrection of bodies"
(PlanetPreterist.com FAQ ).
What kind of resurrection is that?
What blatant double talk.
Preterism is directly contrary to the Word of God which very
clearly and quite often speaks of the bodily resurrection of the saints of God. Romans
if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that
raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his
Spirit that dwelleth in you." The danger of this teaching is if our
resurrection is past and if there is no bodily resurrection for us, then there
was also no resurrection of Jesus Christ, and if no resurrection of Christ, our
hope is in vain!
Please read the 15th chapter of I Corinthians.
Our future resurrection is tied to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Paul put himself on the line, his credibility; the faith once delivered,
salvation and the work of Christ all on the fact and necessity of the
If Christ did not rise, then, like a house of cards, it's all coming
He is RISEN, and risen BODILY.
You have hundreds of eye witnesses, credible witnesses of the friends of
Christ, also the enemies of Christ, most of all, the divinely inspired record of
the Holy Scriptures; and I know by faith, the faith given to me by the risen
Lord that He bodily arose from the dead.
This makes Preterism a damnable heresy.
If you deny our resurrection, you deny the resurrection of Christ, if you
deny the resurrection of Christ, you are not saved!
No matter what you say about doctrines of Grace, the church, Landmarkism,
baptism, if you deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, you are on your
way to Hell.
"But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is
Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified
of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not
raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them
that slept. "
Preterism teaches that the time of Jacobs trouble, or the great
tribulation period, has already taken place.
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning
of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was not the worst tribulation the world has ever seen.
For the people who lived during that time, it was indeed terrible tribulation,
but can it be said that it was worse than the Sodom and Gomorrah,
the Genesis flood, or more recently, WWI and WWII?
Can that time be said to be worse than the Jewish holocaust,
the millions killed by Communist China,
the countless massacres that fill the pages of history?
With the innumerable times of tribulation that was before and since that time,
it cannot be held that 70 can be considered the worst time of tribulation.
Without question, there will not be a worse time on the face of the
earth than that great tribulation period
8: 7- 13). "Woe,
woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the
trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!" Not
woe to Jerusalem or woe to the Middle East, but woe to the inhabiters of the
problem with this philosophy is there is always a slick answer for everything,
but not a scriptural answer for it and "by good words and fair speeches
deceive the hearts of the simple."
With this doctrine they must also say that God is finished with Israel,
contrary to Romans 11.
Consider the words of Duncan McKenzie, a columnist for Planet Preterist.
"The Coming of Jesus in Revelation 19 is referring to the one and only Second
Coming at AD 70. With harlot Israel destroyed, Jesus comes and defeats the beast
from the abyss."
They teach that Israel is destroyed.
Israel is MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND
ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH according to their heretical doctrine; which also
causes God to disannul His everlasting covenant with Abraham and David.
A slippery slope, for now the logical and natural consequence is that God
has denied Himself, lied to Abraham and David, and gone back on His word.
The consequences here are dire.
proves God's promises are sure for us because they were sure for Abraham,
and God is unchangeable and cannot lie.
For this cause we have full assurance of hope and we have an anchor of
the soul, both sure and steadfast.
If the promise to Abraham was no good and could be disannulled, so could
the promise to us.
But praise God He cannot deny Himself, and His word is sure.
Preterism teaches the Satan is now in the Lake of Fire, that he is out of
If Satan is at the present thrust in the Lake of Fire, what about I Peter
sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh
about, seeking whom he may devour."
According to Preterism, this verse has nothing for us
in our day because Satan is bound and merely a historical figure.
All the scripture concerning the Devil doesn't apply to us anymore by
the accounts of this heresy.
It's all historical information.
This points us to another great problem with Preterism; it takes
away so many promises and warnings in the scripture that are directly related to
the second coming of Christ and future events.
Notice the scripture that we just quoted. For
the Preterist, since the Devil is out of the picture, we have no need to be
sober, but let's look at the context of the passage in verses 6-10. "Humble
yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due
time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your
adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may
devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are
accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace,
who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have
suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." The
challenge for the Preterist is to tell us what is historical and what is not.
If the verse in the middle is historical about Satan, what about the
sentence before telling us that Christ cares for us?
Does he care for us, or only those historical characters that had to
resist the Devil?
Proper interpretation and plain sense tells us that those whom Christ
cares for are also the very same that are to be sober and vigilant.
The command to be sober goes with the same thought as the promise of
Christ making us perfect, stablishing and strengthening and settling us. Who
is scripture written for, and how are we to read scripture if the commands of
the New Testament no longer apply to us?
Denial of scripture is a fruit of Preterism, which leads to picking and
choosing what one wants to obey, and casting aside what you don't.
I was once told that the New Testament is to be read no differently than
genealogies of the Old Testament, it is God's word but you have to pick out
what you can use, and view the rest as historical information.
That, unfortunately, is their view of scripture, and only the beginning
of the errors.
There are far too many scriptures that are directly tied to future things
to list everyone here so we will consider only a few.
Many of our blessings, encouragements, commands and warnings are tied
into the teaching of the coming of Jesus Christ, thus making the verses
irrelevant to us if what they teach were true.
Not only those particular verses, but the entire context of the verse are
lost as well as we have seen in our example of I Peter 5.
But why stop there, if the context of the passage does not apply, what
about the entire epistle? Notice a few scriptures that are linked with the
Bible says to look for the Saviour (Titus 2:12-13), if He has already
come back, then that verse doesn't apply to us anymore which tells us to deny
ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly and godly in the present world
while we are looking for Christ to return.
Preterism destroys our hope, consider Romans 8:24-25
"For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what
a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."
Please consider the context of this verse, this is not merely hope in
going to Heaven, Romans 8:23
"And not only
but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves
groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption,
of our body."
The preterist believe that the only resurrection is a spiritual
resurrection that happens when you are saved; but how can one hope of the
adoption, the redemption of our body with a spiritual resurrection?
If the resurrection takes place at salvation, how could a saved person be
looking towards it?
That is how Preterism destroys our hope, you can't hope for something
in the past, but you can only hope for FUTURE things. Look in Titus 2:13 again
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great
God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."
Our hope (future) is the glorious APPEARING of Christ, so we have no
blessed hope any longer according to their tenets.
Also, the weapons of war God gave us are both useless and unnecessary if
this teaching is true.
my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the
wiles of the devil." Why have amour to protect and war against an
enemy that is already gone? When
pointing out their error, I have found that one of the cries of Preterism is
they claim to hold to ‘scripture only' and put no value on confessions or
creeds, as if to say that they are relying only upon the Scripture.
Having a belief that differs from the faith of the historical Baptists is
supposed to be a pious badge of honor and an example of their stand for God's
Word rather than men; which is good and right, we should never, ever, ever put
the words of men above the words of God, but this is a deceptive tactic to hide
their error and validate the fact of being opposed to historic Christianity. Beware
of anyone who will not put into writing what they believe or those who object to
written statements of belief.
We too believe that scripture is sole authority, but as Baptists, we have
never been afraid to have what we believe about the scriptures written down for
all to see.
It is an cop-out to say "I don't live by confessions or creeds or
articles of faith, only the Bible"; the person who says that, oft times has a
false doctrine or false teaching they are trying to hide or are embarrassed by
This is indeed dangerous teaching for it does away with much scripture.
If what they say is true, we are living in the new heavens and new
earth."Therefore what makes the Heavens and Earth "new" is not an
act of God physically re-creating them, but a renewing and reconciliation of all
things in Christ, through his sacrifice, resurrection and return in A.D. 70. The
very presence of Christ (his parousia) is what gives the Heavens and Earth a
renewed character." (Planet Preterism).
Here is what God says: Revelation 21:1-4 "And I saw a new heaven
and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and
there was no more sea.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of
heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of
God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and
God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall
wipe away all
tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor
crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed
we know that God has not wiped away all tears, and we know that there is pain
this very hour.
We can look out our window and know that New Jerusalem is not here and
that Christ does not dwell bodily with us now.
Do you live in the world of Revelation 21:1-4?
I don't, not yet anyway.
I look about and see war, famine, murders, destruction, poverty,
pollution, crime, and all manner of sin.
I live in a perilous (II Timothy
of world .
To say that we live in Revelation 21:1-4 is absurd and preposterous. It
is hard to believe that one could say they believed the Bible and hold to such
If this is the new heaven and new earth, and this is what a life with no
pain, tears sorrow is all about, I am of all men most miserable.
If Preterism is true, there are a lot of unanswered questions. Why preach
or baptize? Matthew
28:18-20 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto
me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and,
lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
If all has been fulfilled and we are in the end of the world that means
our job is done.
Also, the Preterist that does preach the gospel should have many saved
when witnessing, because Satan is not here to hinder the gospel (II Cor. 4:1-6).
The Bible teaches that the work of the church and preaching of the gospel needs
to continue until the end of the world, and being in the end of the world
according to Preterism, then why serve God in His church? Why
take the Lord's supper?
We are to take it "till he come" (I Cor. 11:26-27) and if He has
come then we should have stopped taking it a long time ago and taking the
Lord's Supper would be a vicious, deceptive lie according to Preterism.
Why is there no post AD 70 biblical instruction?
Since the Bible was penned before the end of the first century, and all
things came to an end in AD 70, why not provide us with some instruction?
Why didn't John, or Paul or Peter give us some idea what WE should do
once all things were fulfilled?
The answer is because when all things are fulfilled, we will be with God,
we will dwell with Him through all eternity, and our hope will be realized!
In fact, most scholars believe that the book of Revelation was written
well after AD 70, some put the date almost 30 years after, thus making John a
historian rather than penning a prophecy despite John saying seven times in the
book of Revelation that it was a prophecy.
let me show you some of their so called 'proof texts' of Preterism.
10:23 "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for
verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till
the Son of man be come."
They claim that Jesus was telling the disciples that once they preached
over the cities of Israel, Jesus would return.
But Jesus was telling the disciples that He was coming after them, as
they preached, he would come to them again before they were finished.
When you are persecuted in this city go to another, and you won't have
preached in all the cities before I come behind you.
This is His earthly ministry Matthew 11:1
it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples,
he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities."
claim that Matthew
16:28 "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not
taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom,"
refers to his second coming, but he is speaking of what happened in Matthew
17:1-9, the transfiguration.
24:34 "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these
things be fulfilled."
Preterist claim ‘this generation' is the generation standing with
Christ as he was speaking.
But Jesus was speaking to the generation that shall see the signs he
spoke of, not the generation standing with him. Matthew 24:30-34 "And then
shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes
of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of
heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great
sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four
winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree;
When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is
nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near,
even at the doors."
Cockrell, in his book An Exposition of
Matthew 24 well says "I believe that 'this generation' must be
This is the natural and normal meaning of the world in the Bible ... Hence
the meaning is the generation that lives to see the specific signs of the Great
Tribulation and the signs in the heavens will also witness the return of Christ
and the setting up of the kingdom."
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726