Preterist Response to a Futurist

Below is a three-part response on my part, defending Preterism against what I believe are ill-conceived objections against our view. I was originally going to rework all of this into a separate article, leaving out the give-and-take. But, partly due to a lack in time (We are on our way to China on just a few days) I will just post these here as is, changing just the names and leaving out a few personal details. Also, I hate to leave so much typing and study just go for naught.

Preterist Response to a Futurist

All of the underlining is mine, in order to draw the portions especially commented on.

Quote Originally Posted by M View Post

Of my past theological mistakes, a certain few stick in my side more than others. Full preterism was one of my mistaken ventures, and as such I try to show current full preterists why I believe it is an error. One of the most profoundly erroneous parts of it is that full preterism puts the resurrection of the dead entirely in the past, or as an ongoing event. In contrast, I maintain that the resurrection of the dead is wholly in the future, with the sole exception being Jesus himself. Because a physical resurrection of the dead is practically impossible to believe in while also being a full preterist (i.e. how come no one in the first century reported a mass disappearance of bodies, let alone that they were all Christians? how come, when Christians die now, their bodies don’t simply return to life, or vanish altogether?), the majority of full preterists uphold a spiritual resurrection, as opposed to a physical one. This happened en masse in the first century, and has continued to happen afterward (variably said to happen when an individual is saved, or when a saved person dies).

Like I said before, M, and with all due respect, I don’t think you ever were a card-carrying Full Preterist. You may have thought you were one but, based on what I read below (which I will get to) I don’t think that, in your case, Full Preterism ever “took”. And to have a “mistake” there has to first be a “take”.

As far your “impossibility” is concerned, I agree. I don’t see how an FP (Full Preterist) can believe in a physical resurrection of believers. What I am unclear of is your (i.e.) section. Are those comments those of your Preterists? (After all, “i.e.” means “id est”, “that is”). Or is it your response against FP?. I’m not sure, so I will move on.

There are several reasons to object to a spiritual resurrection. I’ll briefly outline three of these objections, before moving on to a fourth objection in regards to the only Biblical text that full preterists can substantially claim supports their position.

I always appreciate when people do this, provide an outline of where they propose to go. I wish that more would do what you did here, M. I would disagree with your “briefly”, but I’m not the one to talk!

(1) Historically: It is irrefutable that, prior to Jesus, the resurrection was a uniquely Jewish concept. In every case where resurrection is spoken of or described by ancient Jewish texts, both before, during, and after the time of Jesus, the resurrection is always seen as a physical raising of the dead, that the bodies which they died in would physically return to life. The only exceptions to this come from writers who were obviously influenced by Grecian philosophers who taught that death was an escapist release from the corrupt physical world. This is ultimately the origin of the variant gnostic religions as well; the idea of a spiritual resurrection literally has more in common with Greek and gnostic philosophies than it does with Jewish theology.

OK, already we have problems. There really is no need to speak of “ancient Jewish texts”, as far as I am concerned, nor of Grecian philosophers. The issue here is Scripture. If it is not Scripture, I am not interested – at least not for this discussion. Biblical terms cannot be very well-defined outside of the Bible. (I used to believe otherwise.) And as far as the gnostic philosophy is concerned, I came to expect that. Every other writing against Preterism plays that gnostic card. I will get back to your “escapist” comments later.

Needless to say, I disagree entirely with your last statement.

(2) Linguistically: The Greek word used for ‘resurrection’ in Scripture literally means ‘to stand again’. By definition, a person who has been spiritually resurrected cannot be said to have ‘stood again’, if they are experiencing something for the very first time. There is no ‘again’ to speak of if they’ve never experienced it before. Prior to the time when the Jews developed their concept of the resurrection, the Greek word in question was only ever used by Greek writers when they spoke of a person being physically raised back to life from death, and that it was an impossible thing to happen. On this linguistic basis, everyone who spoke Greek would have immediately understood ‘resurrection’ as used by Jesus and his Apostles as speaking about physically raising from the dead, not spiritually transmigrating to another plane of existence. No linguistic evidence supports a concept of ‘resurrection’ being used of a solely spiritual event by either Jews or Greeks.

I have a Hindi friend who told me about when he used to (his English is better now) say, “My bike understands the tree – so it won’t get wet.” He meant that he stood (propped up) his bike under the tree, that it was under the tree.

M, you are doing the same thing here. You see the prefix “ana” and think that it has to mean “again”. (Yet, I have to believe that you are at least aware of the other very common meaning of that prefix. “above”) So you have a faulty etymology. And you make this faulty etymology your foundation for what follows – and come back to it later in your post. You do not have “linguistic basis”, but rather a faulty linguistic theory.

And, once again, it seems you are delving unto language that is unsubstantial as it is pejorative: as if my belief is similar to that of “spiritually transmigrating to another plane of existence”.

I hate that I am getting bogged down here (and almost closing time!) Later on you do have some more substantial points that I look forward to getting to. But I’m afraid that this is all I have time for now.

Re: The resurrection hasn’t happened yet (An argument against full preterism)

My response, part 2. Comments of mine are interspersed and in blue.

Quote Originally Posted by M View Post

(3) In Example: Scripture makes it abundantly clear that Jesus was physically raised from the dead. Not only does this completely fit with the concept of resurrection that the Jews and Greeks understood ‘resurrection’ to be (even if the Jews affirmed it would happen and the Greeks denied it could happen),

I believe you are making too much out of his unanimity on both parts.

but full preterists agree on this. Every single time Jesus’ resurrection is mentioned in the gospels, Acts, the epistles, or Revelation it is always implicit or explicit that his physical resurrection is in mind, whether by mentioning his body decaying, his body being buried, his body having scars in his hands and feet, etc. The point of contention comes up when writers like Paul or John state clearly that Jesus’ followers will be resurrected in the same way Jesus was.

Do you really believe this? In the same way? His resurrected body demonstrated pierced hands, feet, and sides. Will believers be resurrected he same way? What of all those whose martyrdom entailed disfigurement, beheading, skinning?

Full preterists must interject that Christ was spiritually resurrected at the same time that he was physically resurrected, because otherwise the readers (the original audience being Jews and Greeks who only ever thought of ‘resurrection’ in terms of a physical rising from the dead) are most naturally left with the impression that because Jesus was raised physically immortal then his followers will be raised physically immortal.

“Most naturally” indeed. However the basis of our discussion is the supernatural, inspired Bible, not the “natural” and limited understanding of fallen humanity.

Hence the objection: if Jesus’ resurrection is the model for our resurrection, and nothing in Scripture suggests that Jesus was resurrected spiritually, only ever physically, it can’t be claimed on this basis that our resurrection is a solely spiritual event.

I am not if “model” is the word you want. That word implies an example to consciously follow. In what way – other than in spiritual obedience – do we follow Christ as a model in our resurrection? But maybe this is just word that you chose hurriedly and meant something like “precedence”.

(4) Because of full preterism’s insistence in a ‘spiritual’, unseen resurrection, it sees its strongest Scriptural foundation in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, in which he speaks of the resurrection.

Absolutely not. Full Preterism (FP) does not need special passages to over-emphasize at the expense of others.

Throughout 1 Corinthians 15, Paul contrasts the present body with the resurrection body. The present body is described as earthly, perishable, dishonorable, weak, and natural. The resurrection body is instead heavenly, imperishable, glorious, powerful, and (here’s the trick) ‘spiritual’.

Actually, the trick is in using that word “trick”, trying to prejudice instead of argue. Do you not see in that word an insinuation. If I, as an FP, would use that word I would get another rebuke from one of the moderators here for my “jab”. But I have come to expect an uneven playing field. And to expect this from most futurists. Thankfully, not all.

According to full preterists, since Paul says the resurrection body is ‘spiritual’, it can’t be physical, since (as Jesus himself said) ‘a spirit does not have flesh and bones’. Thus full preterists, having already arrived at the necessity of a spiritual resurrection by virtue of the claim that all prophecy was fulfilled in the past, find this as their proof that the Apostles taught such a thing.

See? Now this shows me you were never were a real card-carrying Preterist. You never came to grips with it, or you wouldn’t have written this. You have the order reversed. The proof led to the necessity, not the other way around. It was Scripture – and not just this passage, either – that led me to the conclusions I am now arguing for. Having read many accounts from other FPs I have come across similar testimonies. They never engaged in such a retro-logic as you describe.

Note: All of the above is (Tom FP’s) words. I don’t know why it isn’t all in blue. It should be.

But the game played here is hard and fast.

Tell me about it.

The interpretive method has degraded before we’ve finished the first sentence of the chapter. Generally full preterists delve into all kinds of depths in the Hebrew and Greek in order to make their cases for certain parts of their eschatology. Not so in 1 Corinthians 15. At least, not in terms of what Paul says about the resurrection. Paul didn’t say that we would physically die only to be turned into spirits,

“Only”? God is “only” a Spirit throughout eternity, as are the angels throughout eternity. What is the onliness of that? Read Hebrews 12:22-23:

“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,”

but rather that we would be resurrected (‘stand up again’) with spiritual bodies.

No, Paul never said that phrase.

There is quite a difference between being a spirit and being spiritually oriented.

I have no idea where that comment (about Preterists avoiding the Greek here) is coming from. Of course, playing to a forgiving crowd, as you have here, you wouldn’t be called to task for making these cartoony generalizations about those nasty Preterists. At any rate, I hope this Preterist will satisfy you with a closer look at the Greek of this passage. In fact, I believe that is where one of your weakest point of argumentation is. Somewhere online I have an article entitled, “Weak arguments from Strong’s Concordances”. What you wrote (especially below) brings that article to mind.

Paul has already spent a good portion of this passage (verses 12-23) pointing out that the resurrection of the dead will follow the example of Jesus’ resurrection, and how our resurrection relies on Jesus’ own. We saw that Jesus’ resurrection was inherently physical in nature; he was not simply a spirit walking around in the disguise of a physical body. Even full preterism agrees on that. It then makes little sense that Paul would thus claim that our resurrection would follow after Jesus’ resurrection, yet that his and ours would be two entirely different types of resurrections. To this end, in order to justify that the general resurrection must consist of an invisible ‘resurrection’ (though it doesn’t even fit the definition of the word) as spirits, all of the emphasis is placed on Paul’s statement that we will be raised in ‘spiritual’ bodies. Spiritual! Spiritual! Spiritual!

You have the words right, but the tune wrong, as Mark Twain would say.

The obvious downside here is that once this proof-word is noticed, full preterism pays little-to-no attention to what Paul says as a whole about it.
He doesn’t say that our physical bodies will die and be replaced by an invisible spiritual existence. What he says is:

  • What is sown (the present body) must die in order to ‘come to life’ (the resurrection body). His analogy to a seed shows a direct continuity between the former state and the latter state, even if the former is inferior to the latter.
  • The perishable is raised as imperishable; the mortal is raised as immortal. ‘Perishable’ means subject-to-decay. ‘Mortal’ means able-to-die. The present body, the one able to die and decay, will be raised as unable to die or decay. It is the selfsame body, but with different qualities. Otherwise it can’t be said to be ‘raised as’ if it’s discarded entirely.
  • It is sown in dishonor and weakness, it is raised in glory and power. Again, a spiritual resurrection has nothing being ‘raised’. The physical body is abandoned to the dirt forever, replaced by a spiritual existence.

First: You wrote (underlining mine) “The present body, the one able to die and decay, will be raised as unable to die or decay. It is the selfsame body“.

@@@@@@@@Note again: Below comments in section should be in blue@@@@@@@

Paul wrote, 15:36-38:

“Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:

But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.”

It is not “the selfsame body”. “Thou sowest not the body that shall be.”

I certainly agree with your last characterization of what FP believes.

“The physical body is abandoned to the dirt forever, replaced by a spiritual existence.”

You also said that there is “continuity“. Yes, there is. But not the kind that you envision. The continuity is in the the spirit, not (as you affirm) in the flesh. The flesh will be destroyed, dissolved – λύω. Our souls are and will exist forever. – somewhere. The continuity is in our invisible part, 2 Cor. 4:16 – 5:2.

Let’s look more closely at that very passage that you say Preterists avoid in Greek, especially verses 42-44:

“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”

Notice that this resurrection of the dead has a fourfold contrast:
It is sown in corruption (φθορά); it is raised in incorruption (ἀφθαρσία):
It is sown in dishonour (ἀτιμία); it is raised in glory (δόξα):
it is sown in weakness (ἀσθένεια); it is raised in power (δύναμις):
It is sown a natural (ψυχικός) body; it is raised a spiritual (πνευματικός) body.

I realize that the sticking point here – I will refrain from calling it a “trick” – is in that ψυχικός. But I want to first note that this sowing, described in fourfold aspect, is not at the time of death. A corpse, for instance, would not be characterized as “weak“, but lifeless. Further proof that Paul is not thinking of sowing as dying is the fact that he had earlier (vs. 36) distinguished the two, making one contingent upon – but not simultaneous with – the other.

But now, about this ψυχικός, “natural” or “soulish”, I think was your word for it:
You seem to be arguing that this is part of our continuity, that our ψυχικός part will not be destroyed, but restored. But this cannot be. All four of those things being sown – and I assume you see that they are all part of our fallen nature – are to be destroyed. To argue for the destruction of three, but the restoration of one is to be inconsistent. If (as you write later on) these “selfish, imperfect (physical) bodies” will be “restored as spiritual, perfect (physical) bodies” you do not have the ψυχικός being destroyed, but merely changing.

Does it stand to reason that, out of the four things being sown (all clearly bad), only three of them are to be destroyed or done away with, but the last merely restored?

Another argument that is made is the close relationship between ψυχικός and ψυχή (Spirit, spirit, breath, life, depending on context). But this is not a valid proof. I had written about this in my article earlier. Two words may have been related etymologically but diverged considerably in usage. And that is the case here. ψυχικός is to ψυχή (that is, “soul” is to “soulish“) as “self” is to “selfish“.

“Self”, like “soul”, has generally kept its good or neutral connotations. (“Save yourselves from this evil generation.”, etc.)

“Selfish” is like “soulish” in that they both share a worse connotation. They are both products of the Fall. ψυχικός is found here in the New Testament: 1 Cor. 2:14; 15:44 (twice); 46; James 3:15; Jude 10, 19. In all of these ψυχικός is shown to be undesirable, art of those things that have no part – even in reconstituted form – in the New Creation.

I believe the biggest initial obstacle for those considering what I am arguing for – a spiritual resurrection – is an unwillingness to think outside the body. Christ said that in the resurrection we “will be like the angels”. The fact that so many are against this is, I believe, because of a culturally inherited predisposition, not the biblical evidence.

This is the last of my posts on M’s OP. My comments are in blue:

Quote Originally Posted by M 

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul does not speak of our physical, visible bodies being replaced by a spiritual, invisible bodies, as full preterism requires. What he speaks about is our selfish, imperfect (physical) bodies being restored as spiritual, perfect (physical) bodies.

The meaning that M is trying to overlay psuchichos with has been dealt with in my previous response.

What full preterism lacks is a hope for this world. It is an escape for the righteous, but ultimately an abandonment of what God once called ‘good’.

This is a common complaint against Preterism, easily refuted. First of all: Guilty as charged. Preterism does indeed “lack … a hope for this world”. The Bible has many proofs of this “lack”:

1Jn 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1Jn 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
1Jn 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
1Jn 2:18 Little children, it is the last time [lit. “last hour”]: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time [“hour”].

This passage has a twofold usefulness for Preterism:

1. It shows (once again) the shortness of the time just before the Parousia. It is unfathomable that we should go from “last hour” in the 60s to “last couple of millennia”. There comes a point when stretching a word just becomes embarrassing. Or so I would think.The world was already spoken of as “passing away” in that “last hour”. But timing is off topic here…

2. It shows that this world was not (past tense) what God was trying to save. He was rather saving His own out of the world.

“Abandonment of what God once called ‘good'”? Well, God called the dinosaurs “good” too, and trilobites, and the whole pre-flood eco-system. All of these were … “abandoned“. So was the whole Jewish system of worship, the Old Covenant. These were all good in their time, and according to their own purpose.

In a manner of speaking, God has turned his back on his creation. Full preterism does believe people are still saved in this world, but this world will perpetually suffer the effects of sin. Sin will abound unendingly, and God will do nothing to permanently overturn it. The problem is left unresolved.

Resolved it is. Perhaps not to your satisfaction, but the issue is fully – and in an ongoing manner, as you mentioned – resolved.

Jesus’ work on the cross was the beginning of the restoration of the world. The age to come manifests itself through his Church, through the springing to life people experience as they hear and believe in the gospel. The future resurrection broke through into the present age with Jesus being raised from the dead. And this future resurrection, which we still await, is going to be God’s great way of restoring humanity to its original intent, to live in this world according not to our own souls, but to his spirit.

@@@@@All comments from here on are mine, should be in blue. I am noot happy with Word Press in their making it so difficult to correct.@@@@@@@

No, this is not the original intent, not precisely. The original intent is – well, let’s just quote Scripture…

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:”

There was a down-payment of that intent in Creation, of course, and a further realization in the new creation (the new creature) as we turn to the Lord. We went from mere God-consciousness to (at least degree of) Christlikeness.

Much more could be said about this, and the part the Parousia plays here, but I want to finish up with some comments on this chapter in Corinthians, getting back to things you touched upon.

I brought up Christlikeness because that is an essential topic of 1 Corinthians 15. I suppose it is obvious to say that a Christian enjoys two stages of it. God’s Spirit working in us produces a certain degree of it, but after this life we will have much more of it.

In the chapter we have a series of contrasts between the new life and the old, the things we will become contrasted to those things we are being saved from. Those good qualities of the new creature (v. 42-44) are: incorruption, glory, power, spiritual. Then we read about the originators of the two classes, Adam and Christ. Adam “became a living being”. Christ, “a life-giving Spirit.” KJV unhelpfully provides “became“, which is not at all the point.

Then we come to a very important, oft-overlooked, detail. Overlooked in application, the origins of these two persons. (Skipping v. 46 for this post):

“The first man is of the earth (ἐκ γῆς), earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven (ἐξ οὐρανοῦ) .”

This passage is a continuation of verse 40: somata epigeia and somata epourania now become “ek ges” and “ex ouranou”. This preposition (ek, ex – the forms only differ because of euphonics) shows origin. Adam came from the earth, from the dust. This brings to mind the very passage from Genesis. The “Second Adam” came from heaven. Note: In both cases, the origins determine the essence of who these two are – and (v. 48) the essence of their “followers”.

Verse 49 says that “we shall [or “let us”] bear the image of the heavenly man” (the Second Adam, from heaven).

Now here is the Preterist application:

We shall be like Christ.
And what is Christ like – according to this passage? He is like He was when He came to Earth. He is spiritual.
Was Christ fleshly before he came here to Earth? No. He was pure Spirit.
We – according to this passage – will also be like Him.
Pure spirit.

We cannot have part Adam’s essence (“dust”) and part Christ’s, seeing that we could not then “enter into the Kingdom of God”. “Dust” has to do with “flesh and blood”, not spirit.

BTW, the next few verses (I realize that this was not part of the OP) have an interesting relation to John’s book of Revelation. I believe that Paul was consciously drawing upon it here. Consider these cross-references:

“Last trump” (1 Cor. 15:52 – Rev. 10:7; 11:15, seventh trumpet)
“mystery” (1 Cor. 15:51 – Rev. 10:7)
“Kingdom transfer (1 Cor. 15:24-28 – Rev. 11:15).

About asterisktom

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2 Responses to Preterist Response to a Futurist

  1. I know that this is probably a mystery that won’t be totally solved until we are visibly in His presence but, do you think that His body, which we see after the resurrection, as when He walked through a locked door, or when He was cooking a fish on the beach for His disciples, was still human, flesh and blood, if so how did He walk through a locked door, and if He wasn’t how did He eat with them? OR…. was He changed into pure spirit on His way back up to heaven. OR…does Jesus retain some form of His earthly body forever yet not being of flesh and blood? This seems to be the point of contention between the IBV and the CBV. As I said before, I do lean towards IBV even though two of my nearby preterist friends are CBV. I remember back in the late 70’s when the “Jesus died spiritually” idea first came out of the Tulsa heretics, so I immediately tensed up when I saw this in the Pret group, I even stopped watching Don Preston’s morning musings at that point. I do like DP and appreciate all his fine work for the cause but I had to draw the line at that point. And one more question if I may, what’s your opinion of John Noe’s Idealism?


    • asterisktom says:

      Good questions.

      I think that we Christians – like everyone else – have a hard time of thinking outside the box, so to speak. Or outside the body, I should say. It is hard to see beyond our won frame of reference. But I do not think that the body that Christ showed immediately post-resurrection is the same body He had – has now – post ascension. I think the locked door encounter was still part of His Incarnational mission, the “days of His flesh”, as Hebrews 5:7 puts it. I think there is a hint of this also in 1 Tim. 3:16 (ESV)

      “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
      He was manifested in the flesh,
      vindicated by the Spirit,
      seen by angels,
      proclaimed among the nations,
      believed on in the world,
      taken up in glory.”

      These are all in the past tense, or at least, because the last of the six events is clearly in the past the preceding five ought to refer to events before it.

      In the light of Hebrews 2 I am convinced that Christ being in the flesh was mission-specific.

      “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,”

      Some people assert that Christ is flesh and blood now because of 1 Tim. 2:5

      “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (ἄνθρωπος Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς),”

      But this does not prove that Christ is flesh and blood, but that He is the God-Man. And this begs the question: What does it mean to be human? Is flesh and blood required for that? If so, then my Christian father ceased to be human five years ago when he died. And all the saints who died in Christ also lost their humanity. But I cannot accept this. They joined “the spirits of just men made perfect”, Heb. 12:23.

      Well, I wrote a lot more than I intended to. Like I said, good questions. I did not get to the rest of your comments. Maybe later. I think I will use this topic for a new article.

      Take care.


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