What Say Ye, Christians??
Don K. Preston
June 7, 2007
"Time makes the Christian doctrine of a second coming of Christ’ lose all credibility. If Jesus promised to come back shortly and the disciples expected so strongly to see Jesus return and establish the kingdom of God and neither event occurred, for what can the church still hope? In essence, Christian theological speculations on the "second coming of Christ" represent nothing more than the systematization of a mistake.
No amount of Christian theological acrobatics will ever solve the problems engendered by the historical reality that a promised imminent fulfillment made two thousand years ago did not occur as expected by the New Testament. Simply stated, Jesus is never coming back, not then, not now, not ever."
The historical reality and veracity of Christianity is under an all out assault, as can be seen in the quote above. The enemies of Christ know that he and his disciples predicted the end of the age and the parousia in the first century. They also know– or they think they know– that Jesus and the disciples were wrong. And as one our readers, who sent us this quote stated: "Isn’t it interesting how most of Christian eschatological hope today rests upon the same factors that create Christian eschatological denial in other religions." Interesting and ironic, to say the very least!
Do you catch the power of this problem? The entire evangelical Christian community admits, as John MacArthur wrote, "James, Peter, John and Paul, and the writer of Hebrews all believed Christ’s return was very near–‘at the door’ (James 5:9); ‘at hand’ (Philippians 4:5; 1 Peter 4:7); ‘approaching’ (Hebrews 10:25); ‘coming quickly’ (Revelation 3:11; 22:7)."1 He continues, "Skeptics often ridicule Christianity or challenge the inerrancy of scripture on that very ground…How can it be, then, that 2000 years later Christ still has not returned? Could the disciples have been in error about the timing?" (Coming, 56+) He then claims that the NT writers were not mistaken and that, "The judge is still at the door. The day is still at hand." To claim however, that events that were near in the first century are still near today is specious and illogical.2
So, the Jews say Jesus did not come, even though he said he would, and the evangelical community says he did not come, even though he said he would!!
Christian, what say ye? The modern evangelical community must awaken to this long standing problem, and realize how serious it truly is! The skeptics will not go away. They are pressing forward on the attack! The Jews, the Moslems, the atheists believe they have found the Achilles Heel of Christianity, and much to our shame, most Christians are either blissfully unaware of the problem, or, they hide their heads in the sand as if the problem does not exist! Worse, some are now, seemingly, saying we should not be concerned about the historical fulfillment of the parousia anyway!
Peter, inspired apostle, urged his readers to be ready to offer an apologia, a logical, orderly, formal defense of their faith (1 Peter 3:15f). Yet, for too long, Christian ministers and leaders have failed to either equip their flocks to meet the challenges, or, worse, they have failed to equip themselves to meet the skeptical attacks.3
The kind of "faith" that says, "You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart," will convince no one that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God! The kind of "faith" that disparages logic, hermeneutics, contextuality, audience relevance, and solid evidence, will only contribute to the further erosion of the Christian faith. "Better felt than proven" is not the Christianity of Jesus!
Jesus challenged his unbelieving audiences: "Do not believe me for my words sake, believe me for my works. If I do not do the works that my father has given me, do not believe me." (John10:36f). Yet, far, far too many Christians claim that we don’t have to prove anything, all we have to do is believe! Let me be very blunt here: That is nonsense, and it is as unbiblical as it gets!
Let’s apply Jesus’ challenge to the issue of eschatology.
One of the works that the Father gave the Son was the work of judgment and the resurrection (John 5:19-23).
Jesus said that if he did not do what the Father gave him to do, we are not to believe him (John 10:36f).
So, if Jesus did not come in judgment and the resurrection, then the skeptic, the Jews, the Moslems are right, we are not to believe him! The reality of faith in the heart is to be based on the historical fulfillment of what Christ predicted he would do! No fulfillment means no faith!
Christian, what say ye? Is the fulfillment of Jesus’ eschatological promises important, indeed, vital, to the Christian faith, to Christianity itself?
Covenant Eschatology, i.e. preterism, is the only Christian view of eschatology that can and does answer and refute the skeptics.
Only the preterist does not have to attempt to explain away an entire vocabulary of words.4
Only the preterist fully acknowledges that Christ did in fact predict his coming in the first century.
Only the preterist fully acknowledges and teaches that Christ kept his word.
Only the preterist fully acknowledges that Jesus did the works that the Father gave him.
Only the preterist does not have to make excuses for Christ’s supposed failure.
Only the preterist can appeal to the historical fulfillment of the parousia as the sure ground of faith for today and the future.
Christian, what say ye? Will you continue to ignore the problem posed by the enemies of Christ? Will you continue to act as if the problem does not exist? Will you seek to discount the problem? Will you claim that all that is really important is faith, regardless of whether there is ground for that faith or not?
To depreciate the problem does not solve the problem.
To deny the problem does not refute the skeptics.
To seek to negate the importance of proving our faith is to deny the words of Christ.
The issue is real. The challenge is great. The need is before us.
Christian, what say ye???