Thursday, August 12, 2010

Preterism Fails from the Start in the Olivet Discourse

Through Matthew's account we learn that the discourse was an eschatological one. The question Jesus was actually responding to was about his return and the end of the age. His comment about the Temple's destruction was only a means to stimulate the eschatological question.

Through all three accounts we learn that there will be many Messianic pretenders claiming they are the Christ and gaining a deceived following. How many years does it take for there to be many pretenders? History tells me a lot more than 40.

Through all three accounts we learn that an indeterminate period of rather normal, nondiscript, sociopolitical history will unfold, in which nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be wars and rumors of wars, none significant of the end. Though it is possible to conceive of 40 years of war filled time fulfilling this aspect of the prophecy, I don't think that I would peg those between 30 and 70 AD as doing so.

Through all three accounts we learn that in that indeterminate period, there will also be seasons of famine and occurrences of earthquakes. M&M say that this period will be the beginning of birth pangs, which would imply that war, famines and earthquakes would be cyclical with increasing intensity over time, culminating in some grand conclusion. Luke adds pestilence, terrors and signs in the heavens to the mix. Is the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD really up to the hype of such a description?

There is no way I would describe the history that actually unfolded between 30 and 70 AD as remotely matching the descriptions above. In my opinion, nothing in the Olivet Discourse conforms to a preterist understanding! I would, however, have no problem describing the history that has unfolded from 30 AD to the present the way it was described prophetically in the discourse. Hmmm... makes me wonder how Jesus, the Truth incarnate, intended us to understand this. 

2 comments:

  1. I'm not sure that someone needs to literally claim to be the messiah to be a false christ (though as you point out many have made that claim)

    There are so many today who claim to be God's specially anointed servant, whose ministry should not be questioned. They often hide behind statemements like "touch not the Lord's anointed" to discourage opposition.

    False Christs = false anointed ones.

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  2. Onesimus,
    The Greek texts of all three accounts make it clear that the false Christs are specifically claiming to be Jesus. All three accounts have these imposters coming in the name of Jesus ("in the name of me"). Mark and Luke have their actual claim as being "I am", whereas Matthew has them claiming "I am the Christ."

    I certainly do agree with your second paragraph. Of course, if those self-aggrandizers get to use it, any of us could throw it back at them with good reason--for we are all the anointed of God in Christ Jesus. They shouldn't touch us to take advantage of us or woe is them!

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