Michael Miano June 17, 2013
My Eschatological Position: A Journal-Entry Style Essay
Max King made the following statement in his book, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ:
“We must put the battle of Armageddon back in its proper place in history, and then the gospel and Christianity will have power….Christianity will have much greater power and appeal in the world of humanity rather than being seen as propagating a hope of life that is antithetical to and therefore beyond life on earth. Christianity will be seen, accepted and appreciated as a fulfilled hope that brings everything associated with life on earth into proper perspective”.
I would wholeheartedly agree with Max King and have seen the fruit of putting Armgeddon in its proper back in history. I hold to what is called “Covenant Eschatology” and would happily call myself a “Preterist” (so says the new tattoo on my arm: Preterist- Christ Has Come).
Utilizing the acronym of H.E.A.R.T.S. is what I believe is the best way to sum up my views and also helps to understand the “whole story” of Scripture. Hebrew Exclusivity is the understanding that God began a covenant with the Hebrew people, which I would trace back to Adam and Eve in the garden. Many people believe that Adam and Eve were the first and only people on the planet in the beginning of Genesis- this is someothing I have come to disagree with. Instead, I believe God “covenanted with” Adam and Eve and this was the beginning of the story of Israel. Eventually the “death” of “sin” was revealed by the Law (1 John 3:4; Romans 5:20) and Israel being in bondage to sin was in dire need of a Savior. Jesus Christ, came on behalf of the Jews (Romans 15:8) to fulfill the promises that were given to them (Romans chapter 9). I believe proper context of the need for a savior (Israel under Law) allows for a more comprehensive understanding of what Jesus Christ came to do- save His people- Israel. This was the Old Covenant which was passing away in the first century (Hebrews 8:13) and the “end of the age” would fully consumate the New Covenant.
Sadly, a lack of “Audience Relevance” has led many to develop a false view of Scripture and inserting themselves into the text. This is illustrated by the popular teaching of “futurism”- which hopes for a yet future return of Jesus Christ, a yet future resurrection of the dead (falsely putting the physically dead as those who were to be resurrected rather than the dead under the Law, as the context of the Bible is dealing with). Audience Relevance admonishes us to take into consideration the original audience to which things were said, things were written, and so on. For example let’s look at Matthew 16:27-28:
“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father which His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom”.
Now, clearly Jesus is speaking to His disciples, as per verse 24, yet many will read this statement and believe that the “coming of the Lord” has not yet occured (what many erroneously refer to as the “Second Coming, as allusion to Hebrews 9:28). Audience Relevance demands that some of those standing their where alive when the coming of the Lord occured.
Time Statements are pretty much what sum up my “eschatological view”. When the disciples came to Christ after he delivered a harsh judgment upon the religious leaders in Jerusalem (Matthew chapter 23-24), they asked him “When will these things happen, and what will be the sign of your coming, and the end of the age (Matthew 24:3). Jesus began to explain the things that they would see happen as precursor to the “coming of the Lord” to bring judgment upon Jerusalem (or “oikumuene”- the known world, which was from Jerusalem to Rome).
One would think that when Jesus said TWICE in Matthew chapters 23-24 that “this generation will not pass away until all things are fulfilled” would make it clear to us today that these events happened in history. Yet, sadly a failure to understand the seemingly “cataclysmic language” like “the sun being darkened”, the stars falling from the sky, and surrounding of clouds as “apocalyptic language” and Hebrew idioms describing judgment (as the Old Testament clearly illustrates in Isaiah chapter 13, Isaiah chapter 34, Zephaniah chapter 1, Jeremiah chapter 4, and many other places – leads many to continue to look for these events in the future.
Author and scholar, J. Stuart Russel sums up the claims of the Preterist view quite well:
“…either the whole group of predictions, comprehending the destruction of Jerusalem, the coming of the Lord, the resurrection of the dead, and the rewarding of the faithful, did take place before the passing away of that generation, as predicted by Christ, taught by the Apostles, and expected by the whole church; or else, the hope of the church was a delusion, the teaching of the apostles an error, the predictions of Jesus a dream…”.
In conclusion, my eschatological view allows for the Bible to be a clear and consistent “true truth” as Francis Schaeffer would have said it. The “end” that the Bible speaks about what the end of the Old Covenant age- which Jesus came to fulfill.
This view isn’t exactly widely accepted in the Church today, which is clearly why many of the issues of confusion and the lack to give a true and reasonable expression of the gospel to the world, the “healing of the nations”, has yet to be accomplished. R.C. Sproul Jr. said it like this:
“The sickness that is an epidemic in the evangelical church is the disease of dispensationalism, and more particularly dispensational eschatology. These doctrines not only twist and distort the Scripture but bring the Church to near paralysis. The harder we work to build Christ’s kingdom, the more we delay it.
Thankfully, God in His great mercy has done a great work in waking up many people to their condition. The rapid spread of the doctrine of Preterism has been a welcome tonic”.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: I preached about this topic from the pulpit yesterday, June 16, 2013 at The Blue Point Bible Church. Here is the podcast: