JOHN NOE'S PRETERISM
REFUTED
By Joey Faust

 

DISCLAIMER: Other teachings by Joey Faust

I have had many recent responses to my articles from furious Preterists.

(Some have, however, been courteous and brotherly.) Full-Preterists believe that the "last days prophecies" have ALREADY been fulfilled in A.D.70, when Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome. I view this revival of Preterism as a fulfillment of premillennial prophecy itself. The Bible predicted "scoffers" in the last days, who would mock the fulfillment of Bible prophecy in regard to the second coming (2Pet.3:3). The current popularity of (Preterist) books by R.C. Sproul, and others, is now setting the stage for this prophecy in 2 Pet.3:3. I do find it amazing. We have Israel back again as a nation. (I know some Preterists continue to deny that they are "real" Jews. But ask a modern Muslim what he thinks about that.

All his animosity isn't for nothing!) We also have weather changes and increases in earthquakes. We have a revival of Rome uniting all religions. All we need is the "scoffers" to show up to a degree to justify the Holy Spirit mentioning it as a sign in the Bible. And now we have it. Just when the stage is almost perfectly in place for the Tribulation to begin (the time when one would least expect a revival of Preterism!), here it comes. The Bible is amazing.

One Preterist brother (Ron W.) was kind enough to mail me a book supporting his view. It is called, "Beyond The End Times" (1999) by John Noe. Since most of the objections I have received in regard to my articles are also found in this book, I will respond to this book and therefore answer those who have written me all at once. If I leave out an argument, or if there is need for further objections, I am of course willing to resume Biblical debate individually at the conclusion of this series of articles.

Noe's book contains 14 chapters (plus Appendixes). This week, I will answer the various arguments found in his first two chapters. (All sentences in quotations are from John Noe's book):

"Full Preterists believe the appointed time of the end came long ago." (p.1)

The whole problem with Preterists is their failure to grasp the Biblical teaching in regard to DOUBLE APPLICATION. Many Bible prophecies have historic, as well as future fulfillments. Thus, any argument in regard to past, partial fulfillments is beside the point. I have written a lengthy article that proves double application from the Scriptures. It also reveals how widespread the view has been throughout Christian history. I go further and show how the principle of double application can change how we view other prophecies in the Book of Daniel once the principle is properly and fully extended. (You can read this article on-line at: http://www.rkjbc.org/kalerts/kamail.htm )

What a premillennialist (armed with the Biblical principle of double application) calls only a "partial" fulfillment in history past, the Preterist calls a "full" and complete fulfillment. The premillennialist awaits the "full" fulfillment in the future. The Preterist sees nothing left for the future in the prophecy. But how does the Preterist account for the missing details that were not fulfilled in history past? He simply maintains that the details were never meant to be fulfilled LITERALLY. Thus, the Preterist must take some details literally and others figuratively. The problem is that many of these details are in the SAME Bible verse. For example notice Luke 21:25:

Lu 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

The Preterist would take "distress of nations" literally; but he must take "signs in the sun" figuratively. Examples such as this abound. But more on this later.

"Farmers have learned to count on the future. Not so for masses of people in our world today. They have been programmed, by church people and nonchurch people alike, not to count on the future. Chalk it up to 'millennial madness'..." (p.3)

This is a straw man. The argument would hold some weight if premillennialists were found teaching that very soon all humanity will be destroyed and the Earth will evaporate and everything will fade away into nothingness. Yet, this is NOT what premillennialists teach. We teach that Christians will be resurrected; and many people will enter Christ's glorious, future Kingdom ON EARTH to reign for 1000 years. Does this therefore teach that Christians should not "count on the future"? No! In fact, it gives us confidence of a future. The future does not depend on man. The future is in God's hands and it is on His timetable. If man blows up the world, God will restore it and usher in His Kingdom.

"Televangelist Pat Robertson, during a week-long fundraiser on CBN's The 700 Club...pleaded with viewers...'We are possibly talking about the final age of humankind, right now. Let's work together while we have a chance. Please call and make a pledge." (p.7)

Excitement about Bible prophecy has stirred the godly motives and actions of Christians for 2000 years. Oswald J. Smith, in his early days, is said to have raised more money for missions than anyone in history. Even Noe calls him, "one of the leading missionary statesmen of his day." (p.27) Smith was influenced by great premillennialists such as D.M. Panton, who taught that Christians need to be ready if they will reign with Christ when He comes. Therefore, compelling Christians to give and live holy by stirring them to look at what the Bible teaches about the end times can accomplish much.

It is proper and Biblical. On the other hand, I would not compare Oswald J. Smith in his early days to Pat Robertson. One must be careful of Christian leaders. One must demand financial statements, and make sure one's money is going to a worthy cause that Christ would approve of. The fact that many use Bible prophecy as a gimmick to make money does not mean that Bible prophecy itself is at fault. That is the modern "gun control" argument (i.e., "take away the guns and criminals will not kill.") No, it would not be wise to reject end time Bible prophecy, simply because some people use it in an evil manner. End time Bible prophecy is the very thing that predicts and warns us that people will use the Scriptures to "make merchandise" (2Pet.2:3, 2Tim.3:1,6,13).

"If the 'end of the world' was an established fact, it would be tragic for most if not all people alive at the time. But, as we shall see in this book, it's not the truth...the message that there really is no future, at least here on this earth, is the one being presented by many influential groups and people." (pp.14, 23)

Often, Noe defines the "end of the world" in a way that no Biblical premillennialist would ever define it. Again, this creates a straw man. Premillennialists, by definition, believe that Christ is soon coming to THIS EARTH to set up His wonderful Kingdom and reign:

Re 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Mt 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Mt 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Therefore, the "world", as it refers to this physical earth, will be restored and regenerated from a state of calamity and tribulation (like never before in history) at the Second Coming. It will not therefore end in the sense of "never existing anymore". The word "world", in English, often means:

"Any state or sphere of existence; any wide scene of life or action; as, the world to come." (Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, 1956)

Therefore, Biblical premillennialists believe that this world (i.e. age, state of things) will end; yet only in the sense that it will pass into the "world to come", which is a better "time":

Mr 10:30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in THIS TIME, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the WORLD TO COME eternal life.

Thus, premillennialists see a better "time" coming on a renewed, and better earth (which is simply this same earth with the curse restrained). Biblical premillennilaists should not therefore be lumped together with doom and gloom environmentalists, "The Celestine Prophecy", Nostradamus or any other devil-inspired writer without the true, Biblical hope.

"...as quoted in 'The Last Times', by Joseph A. Seiss..." (p.26)

Noe gives a small list of Christian writers that he quotes out of 'The Last Times" by Seiss. "The Last Times" is one of the greatest premillennial works ever written. It alone refutes Noe's whole book. It is ironic that Noe gleaned most of his quotes from Christian leaders (who thought the world was soon the end) from Seiss's book. Noe's implied point is that "there is a lesson to be learned here". (p.24) Yet, Joseph Seiss (one of the most influential premillennial writers of all time) did not believe the world would end in his day. He was watching and ready; nevertheless, he wrote:

"In what year of the world's age we are living, it is not possible at this day accurately to ascertain. According to the common reckoning, it will yet be about one hundred and thirty-five years to the end of the six thousand."

He preached those words in 1865. Seiss and many other popular premillennialists suggested the year 2000 (or thereabouts) for the end of this age. This certainly does away with the implied argument that "all prophecy writers thought the world would end in their day". Some of the most influential and well-known premillennialists looked onward to our day (though they were watching and ready in their own day).

I have shown in many articles that the world will not end in the year 2000. The pre-trib, first-fruits rapture may happen. It might happen today! Yet, the world will not end in 2000. I certainly believe the Tribulation Period is very near.

"The cumulative effect of end-of-the-world beliefs...creates an 'abandon-the-farm' attitude and takes the significance out of human action." (p.31).

This might be true in regard to unsaved "gloom and doomers", but this is certainly not true in regard to premillennial CHRISTIANS throughout history! Think of the premillennialism of men such as the Wesleys (I know Charles Wesley was premillennial; for one, I possess his Joseph Mede commentary with his writing in it), John Fletcher, A.N. Groves, R.C. Chapman, John Wilkinson, Hudson Taylor, Horatius & Andrew Bonar, Oswald J. Smith, Spurgeon, Cumming, George Mueller, Duff, McCheyne, Phoebe Palmer, Moody, Talmage, Duffield, Toplady, Thomas Chalmers, etc. etc. This is to simply name a FEW popular leaders (out of multitudes) who were well-known for evangelism, missionary zeal, holiness and preaching. I chose these premillennialists because they put an end to the argument that "premillennial thought" causes a stagnation in holiness or zeal! There are hundreds of other holy men and women that could be listed to disprove that argument.

"In reality, this fear approach has had more of an opposite effect, fostering complacency, ineptness, and laziness...Another pastor commented, 'Any religion that uses fear is questionable. Fear is the devil's tool...Prior to the 20th century, the Church as culturally relevant, involved, and positive. Not so anymore."

The above statements are amazing in light of the fact that the majority of Christians who were accomplishing anything in earlier ages were premillennialists who were looking for the Second Coming of Christ and FEARING God! It is not the prevalence of premillennialism that has caused complacency; it is the lack of the fear of God in the lives of Christians. Show me a holy Christian in past ages who "accomplished something" and I will show you in his writings where he FEARED God. The problem with the last days is a lack of fear. And, when premillennialsm is denied, the whole foundation for Christian responsibility and accountability is undercut:

Jude 1:12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves WITHOUT FEAR: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

Ro 3:17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is NO FEAR OF GOD before their eyes.

A Christian should not fear losing his or her salvation. Yet, there is still MUCH to fear. Noe blames Hal Lindsey's premillennialism for a moral decline in the 20th century. (pp.38,39) Yet, it is not premillennialism that caused the decline. The differences between Hal Lindsey's brand of premillennialism and earlier brands, is that earlier premillennialists taught the FEAR OF GOD. They viewed either the rapture, the Millennial Kingdom (or both) as rewards for holy living (e.g. Pember, Govett, Seiss, J.R. Graves, I. Haldeman, Roadhouse, Oswald J. Smith, Hudson Taylor, R.C. Chapman, A.N. Groves, G.N.H. Peters, D.M. Panton, John Wilkinson, Samuel Wilkinson, Watchman Nee, J. Penn-Lewis, etc. etc.) Thus, these earlier saints "moved with fear". They got so many people saved that people still look at their days as "the good old days".

This revival of Preterism will only stifle what little life is left among Christians. It will take away the only thing that is making many pay attention. Preterism will immerse multitudes into the world. The result will be doctrinal compromise for the purpose of social change (see the news article about the Vatican at the start of this Update.)


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