Monday, August 9, 2010

The Failure of Preterism in the Olivet Discourse

Important aspects of the Olivet Discourse which factor into this article:

1) The occassion of the discourse was a question from the disciples after Jesus stated that not one stone would be left upon the other in Herod's Temple complex. Though Luke and Mark record virtually the same question, the detail of the question in Matthew tells us most specifically what was asked, and what Jesus was responding to. Matthew's question: "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" directs us to the end of time rather than to 70 CE.

2) The woe upon the pregnant and nursing seems clearly to refer to the same circumstance in all three accounts, and therefore can serve to "align" the details of three accounts. In doing so, it makes Luke's unique language describing the misfortune coming upon the Jews and Jerusalem merely a different description the same events presented in Matthew and Mark. Therefore, there is no description whatsoever in the Olivet Discourse of events occurring in 70 CE.

Specific Prophecies that Prevent a Preterist Intepretation
  • "The beginning of birth pangs" in regard to earthquakes in various places, famines, and plagues seems a lot to jam into the space of time from 30 to 70 CE
  • "A great falling away" which never occurred before 70 CE
  • "The Gospel preached to every nation," which only now is a possibility ("then the end will come")
  • "The Abomination of Desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel" has not been fulfilled yet
  • "Great tribulation like never before and never again" could in no way describe events before 1940 because of the nature of the Holocaust
  • "Immediately after the tribulation of those days" could not have happened before 1940
  • "The Son of Man comes in the clouds" has not occurred even yet
  • "Angels gathering the elect" (from the earth and heaven) has not occurred yet
  • "When we see all these things happening, this generation will not pass until all these things take place" binds the prophecies in the discourse into a unit (at least from the gospel being preached to all nations) that will be seen in its entirety by the generation that sees these signs
A preterist interpretation of the Olivet Discourse is unwarranted and untenable. The Olivet Discourse starts with some general discriptions of what history would hold for the disciples until the end came. The end itself would not come before the Gospel had been preached to all the nations, and when the end finally came, it would be most saliently signified by the Abomination of Desolation which is described by Daniel. The end itself, is nothing other than the Return of Christ, and that just has not happened yet!