Do Preterists Spiritualize Prophecy?

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Don K. Preston

Thomas Ice, an outspoken critic of Covenant Eschatology,  says, “Preterists,…overall tend to allegorize key texts (i.e. Matthew 24:29-31). Allegorization occurs when an interpreter brings into a text a meaning, based on ideas, from outside the text. Thus, their interpretation cannot be supported from a normal reading of the words and phrases.”

This is a very serious charge. To bring into a text what is not there is called eisegesis, and is a distortion of the meaning of any text. So, if preterists are guilty of allegorizing the Biblical texts (which is not even a technically accurate term for Ice to use) then this would amount to a falsification of the preterist perspective.

However, preterists do not allegorize. We do honor the metaphoric nature of apocalyptic language. We honor the type/anti-type use of language. Even more importantly, we honor the inspired application of O. T. prophecy by N. T. writers. And this is where Ice and dispensationalists fall so short.

Where in the words “animal sacrifices” is one compelled to see Jesus’ sacrifice? “Lamb” does not mean “Jesus.” Yet, “Christ is our Passover.” Does the literal word “Temple” mean “church?” No, but that is how the Hebrew writer interpreted the typology of the OT temple (Hebrews 8:1; 9:24f). See my book Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, for an in-depth discussion of how Old Covenant Israel and her cultus was, from the very beginning, only a shadow of better things to come. This is a huge issue that is essentially ignored by the premillennial world. A dispensational reading of the OT would not allow that Israel was a shadow of good things to come. But again, this is a fatal error on the part of the millennial paradigm.

The NT  writers clearly viewed Israel’s history as typological: “those things happened as types of us” (literal rendering of 1 Corinthians 10:11). This cannot be over emphasized. It is not allegorization for the NT writers to make spiritual application of OT language! It is inspired application!

Preterism honors the shadow-v-reality doctrines. The NT inspired writers say that the literal realities anticipated coming spiritual realities. It is not “allegorization” to honor these applications. Israel failed to see the spiritual realities, and they killed Christ because he did not fulfill their nationalistic and literalistic expectations.

So, when the NT writers make a spiritual application of OT prophecies, it is not allegorization. Through inspiration, they revealed what those OT realities foreshadowed. In other words, the spiritual meaning was there all along, recorded, but “unrevealed.”

To reject the spiritual application that the NT writers make of OT prophecies therefore, denies the inspiration of the NT authors who claimed to be revealing what the O. T. prophets foretold, but did not understand (1 Peter 1:10-12).

So, preterists do not allegorize or spiritualize Bible prophecy. We do however, honor the inspired interpretation of prophecy as given by the NT writers, who all inform us, in unequivocal language, that what the Old Testament prophets foretold was being fulfilled in their day, in Christ and his body.

I have had several debate encounters with Thomas Ice. DVDs of our 2003 formal public debate are available from me here. That debate was a thorough refutation of Thomas Ice and Mark Hitchcock who also participated in that debate.

One Reply to “Do Preterists Spiritualize Prophecy?”

  1. [Thanks, Bro. Preston, for your thought-provoking blog. Here is a decent exposure of some of your critics that I discovered on the informative web. Alastair]

    Pretrib Rapture Pride

    by Bruce Rockwell

    Pretrib rapture promoters like Thomas Ice give the impression they know more than the early Church Fathers, the Reformers, the greatest Greek New Testament scholars including those who produced the KJV Bible, the founders of their favorite Bible schools, and even their own mentors!
    Ice’s mentor, Dallas Sem. president John Walvoord, couldn’t find anyone holding to pretrib before 1830 – and Walvoord called John Darby and his Brethren followers “the early pretribulationists” (RQ, pp. 160-62). Ice belittles Walvoord and claims that several pre-1830 persons, including “Pseudo-Ephraem” and a “Rev. Morgan Edwards,” taught a pretrib rapture. Even though the first one viewed Antichrist’s arrival as the only “imminent” event, Ice (and Grant Jeffrey) audaciously claim he expected an “imminent” pretrib rapture! And Ice (and John Bray) have covered up Edwards’ historicism which made a pretrib rapture impossible! Google historian Dave MacPherson’s “Deceiving and Being Deceived” for documentation on these and similar historical distortions.
    The same pretrib defenders, when combing ancient books, deviously read “pretrib” into phrases like “before Armageddon,” “before the final conflagration,” and “escape all these things”!
    BTW, the KJV translators’ other writings found in London’s famed British Library (where MacPherson has researched) don’t have even a hint of pretrib rapturism. Is it possible that Ice etc. have found pretrib “proof” in the KJV that its translators never found?
    Pretrib merchandisers like Ice claim that nothing is better pretrib proof than Rev. 3:10. They also cover up “Famous Rapture Watchers” (on Google) which shows how the greatest Greek NT scholars of all time interpreted it.
    Pretrib didn’t flourish in America much before the 1909 Scofield Bible which has pretribby “explanatory notes” in its margins. Not seen in the margins was jailed forger Scofield’s criminal record throughout his life that David Lutzweiler has documented in his recent book “The Praise of Folly” which is available online.
    Biola University’s doctrinal statement says Christ’s return is “premillennial” and “before the Tribulation.” Although universities stand for “academic freedom,” Biola has added these narrow, restrictive phrases – non-essentials the founders purposely didn’t include in their original doctrinal statement when Biola was just a small Bible institute! And other Christian schools have also belittled their founders.
    Ice, BTW, has a “Ph.D” issued by a tiny Texas school that wasn’t authorized to issue degrees! Ice now says that he’s working on another “Ph.D” via the University of Wales in Britain. For light on the degrees of Ice’s scholarliness, Google “Bogus degree scandal prompts calls to wind up University of Wales,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “be careful in polemics – Peripatetic Learning,” and “Walvoord Melts Ice.” Also Google “Thomas Ice (Hired Gun)” – featured by media luminary Joe Ortiz on his Jan. 30, 2013 “End Times Passover” blog.
    Other fascinating Google articles include “The Unoriginal John Darby,” “X-raying Margaret,” “Edward Irving in Unnerving,” “Pretrib Rapture Politics,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrets,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” and “Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism” – most from the author of “The Rapture Plot,” the most accurate documentation on pretrib rapture history.
    Can anyone guess who the last proud pretrib rapture holdout will be?

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