A friend and fellow blogger asked me to elaborate on a prior post as to why I’m preterist in my view of Revelation. I did say I would visit the topic again, so here are a couple of reasons why I buck the dispensational trend.
For starters. the word preterist refers to something that has occurred in the past. Therefore, a preterist view of Revelation sees all of Revelation (Full Preterist) or part of Revelation (Partial Preterist) as having happened in the past. In this case, it is a prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem that John is writing about. I would actually call myself a partial preterist since I see the second coming of Christ as still future and referred to in the last chapters of the book.
The view taught in most churches today is called dispensationalism and it focuses on a future fulfillment of Revelation. It uses elaborate charts and inspires a lot of fantastical books and movies, but I think it is a total misinterpretation of Revelation.
So, why do I think Revelation is about the fall of Jerusalem and not a future tribulation? Well, my first clue comes from the imminent time references that John uses. The first one is found right there in Rev. 1:1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants things which must shortly take place. And again v.3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. Some would argue that “shortly take place” means rapidity of execution rather than happening soon, but I disagree. Anytime I read that something is going to shortly take place then I think it is happening soon and I think the preterist view makes the most sense of this.
Preterism also makes more sense of the symbolism used throughout the book. Revelation is written in the Apocalyptic style which is known for using symbolism and Revelation definitely holds true to that style. Whether it’s referencing cities, names, cosmic disruptions, numbers, beasts, etc., it’s all symbolic. Therefore, as a preterist, I don’t have to try to fit all that into a present day scenario. I don’t have to look at world leaders and wonder which one is the antichrist or obsess over everything that happens in Isreal and the Middle East.
Probably one of the most controversial aspects of preterism is the denial of a secret rapture of the Church. Often, the rapture is deduced in Rev. 4:1 where John is caught up into Heaven and this is supposed to be symbolic of the Church being caught up prior to the great tribulation. This is one time when the dispensationalist uses a symbolic approach, but in this case, it is unwarranted.
I understand why so many believers are attracted to dispensationalism, I mean, who wouldn’t want to be raptured before the great tribulation starts. However, I don’t read that in the text and I never would have considered it if I didn’t read it from a dispensationalist writer. I understand where dispensationalist get it, but they really have to interject their brand of thinking to get there.
Now, I know there is much more to the argument than this and I have no intention of presenting that here. There are plenty of books and websites that already do that. In fact, a book that helped me understand the different views is Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary by Steve Gregg. It’s written with equal consideration for each view and doesn’t try to sway the reader in any way toward the author’s preference. I’ve read other books on dispensationalism and on preterism along with listening to various teachers on the subject and I find the arguments for preterism are much stronger.
I know that believing anything other than dispensationalism makes me a heretic in the eyes of a lot of people. I just ask that they take off their dispensational colored glasses and then read Revelation again.