Variations of Preterism
[Letter to the Editor of The Clinton Journal - 03/24/12]

Dr. Weinberg addressed the theme of preterism in his article from March 23rd. Overall, he did a good job with a complex subject in a short amount of space.

Preterism is certainly a flexible term; it has different meanings to different folks and thus is ambiguous. I hold certain tenets of preterism but rarely refer to myself as a preterist since such can be easily misconstrued.

Much of what Weinberg wrote would pertain to what some would call "Radical Preterism" (i.e., the notion that all end-time prophecies were fulfilled by A.D. 70 when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem). This vein of preterism is radical because it even affirms that Christ's second coming has already happened (and we missed it!). Such cannot be substantiated without a lot of twisting of God's word (cf. II Pet. 3:16).

Personally, I hold to a more moderate form of preterism. I believe John's Revelation was penned near the end of the first century and that a major focus of the book is upon the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, which would be a relief to the Christians suffering such brutal persecution for resisting emperor worship, etc. I believe that most of Revelation deals with matters that were fulfilled within a few hundred years of John's writing. One of the strongest points in favor of this view is the opening verse of the book itself - "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John" (Rev. 1:1; emp. add.). Jesus affirms that the things in the book would begin being fulfilled soon (not 1900 years later) and that John's writing would be primarily signs or symbols (which means they should not be understood literally).

My view is not without its difficulties; this I freely confess. I believe Revelation has been fulfilled except the last couple chapters of the book, which deal with the entrance of the faithful into heaven (the abode of God) at the second coming of Christ (which has yet to take place, as I understand).

Revelation is a most difficult book to interpret consistently. The major theme of the book seems simple enough, however, and I try to focus on it: In the end, God's faithful will be victorious! (cf. Rev. 2:10). I am doing my best to be among God's faithful and encourage you to do likewise.

It would be my pleasure to study any of these matters in greater depth with any interested party.