- Dr. Timothy X. Merritt
Strategic Foresight – Axes of Uncertainty
Debunking Preterism by Brock David Hollett:
This book grew on me. My initial interest in Christian eschatology was sparked by Preterist writings, especially those of Brian Godawa. Most compelling to me were the “Time Statements” found in many parts of the Bible that seem to indicate that the final Day of the Lord was coming soon:
The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. (Rev 1:1, NIV)
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (Rev 3:11, NIV)
Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (Matt 24:32-35, NIV)
The many time statements like these that give rise to the Preterist position clearly state that the final day will come soon. Surely these statements didn’t mean a long wait of more than 2,000 years? Hollett takes on these types of statements and puts them into context with Old Testament writers who used the same kind of language to illustrate the essential concept of “Already and Not Yet” eschatology.
At first, I did not care much for Hollett’s polemic style when addressing the Preterist position. As I mentioned, I had been deeply influenced by Preterist teachings, and I took Hollett’s arguments personally. Hollett started to win me over, eventually, when he addressed a very troubling aspect that arises from considering the full Preterist perspective, namely, what does it all mean for us now?
Suppose all the prophecies of the Book of Revelation were fulfilled in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. What does that mean concerning Jesus’ promise to return to earth and for the final destruction of evil on earth? Is Jesus here now in the form of the Holy Spirit? Does human history mean a slow and gradual elimination of evil forces toward some kind of utopian future? What about Hitler? What about Mao? I’ve watched ISIS members slaughter innocent victims on live TV. Do you mean to tell me that we are living in the Millennial Kingdom now?
Hollett argues that if all prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70, then the promises from the Lord in Revelations 21:4 to “wipe away every tear” must be dismissed as allegory, leaving no grounds to suggest that sin and death will be terminated at any point in the future.
As I mentioned, I did not at first care for Hollett’s polemic style. But then I returned to Godawa’s work and found that he also employed a polemic style against the Futurist position; I just hadn’t noticed it because it served as my introduction to the subject. My view is that both perspectives can and ought to be used together to map out the truth. Godawa could represent one end of a spectrum, with Hollett representing the other. In my novel, instead of having two people argue over such a complicated subject, I have my characters employ the technique of Reflective Listening Visualization (RLV) to describe each other’s points of view to the listener’s satisfaction.
Using the techniques of Strategic Foresight, the spectrum between Preterist and Futurist becomes the horizontal axis for the Axes of Uncertainty tool. This will be both the subject and the title of my next novel. These book reviews serve as just the barest hint of a very deep dive into an incredibly complex problem. I can’t wait!