Dismissive Preterism

I’m a fan of the explanatory power of preterism regarding the relevance of A.D. 70 to a number of teachings in the New Testament. But I’m not a fan of the dismissive use of preterism to hollow out the ongoing relevance of teachings in the New Testament.

One potential example: The Sea Beast and the Land Beast of Rev. 13 were respectively fulfilled by blasphemous Rome and apostate Jerusalem, therefore I don’t have to make continuing applications about blasphemous governments aided by apostate religions.

Anecdotally, two examples come readily and repeatedly to my mind over the years …

No. 1: The “present distress” in 1 Cor. 7:26 gets handled this way so that it’s used to empty the weight of Paul’s teaching about the practical value of celibacy. “That was just for then; we don’t have to think about it now. Let’s specialize in prescribing marriage and families as our strategy.”

I’m not particularly sure what the impending downfall of rebellious Jerusalem had to do with the everyday affairs of Corinthian Christians. But even if that passage is about what was coming in A.D. 70, how does the application fail to carry over to any other situation where Christians in a cultural context of present distress ought to consider prioritizing their callings accordingly?

No. 2: Passages such as Titus 2:11-15 and 2 Peter 3:10-13 regarding the impending Day of the Lord and a particular attitude and way of life attached to the reality of that looming event. “The time to worry about doomsday events is past; time to plan on a long future.”

If these passages become exhausted by the day of the Lord’s visitation and vengeance upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and that’s the reference to the end of the age, then I’m not certain what the apostolic teachings in the New Testament have to say to our present situation after A.D. 70. Seems like a convenient way to import any ethos you prefer.

This goes hand-in-hand with a Reformed Retrolapsarian Prosperity Gospel.

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