Critique of Kingdom Counsel’s
Review of My Book:
Babylon – The Great City of Revelation
By Joseph R. Balyeat
you for publishing Ken
Davies’ thoughtful review of my book Babylon: The Great
City of Revelation. Of course, while Davies’ was in
agreement with most of what I have written, he did take issue
with the fact that I do not hold to a “full” preterist position.
Certainly I make no bones about the fact that I do believe
someday (perhaps as much as 34,000 years in the future) there
will be a final physical resurrection and a Final Coming of
Christ to a redeemed world.
to Objection #1 by Ed Stevens in
"Answers to Balyeat's Question: 1.
Only 34,000 More Years Ahead of Us?"
However, I have also stated publicly that all Biblical
references which include “imminent” time references were fulfilled
in A.D. 70. In fact, the highlight of my most recent editorial
column read, “Every single New Testament reference to a
‘soon coming’ Day of the Lord was fully and remarkably fulfilled
when our Lord came in judgment on apostate, Christ-rejecting
Jerusalem in 70 A.D.”
Where I am at variance with
the full preterist position is that I believe there are certain
passages about a future final coming of Christ which do not
include ‘near at hand’ time indicators, and which are most
naturally interpreted as a literal rather than symbolic return
While I do not disagree with
Brother Davies’ analysis of my position, I do take issue with
the “straw man” argument he builds for me, in direct contradiction
to what I have said in the very sentence he quotes from my
book. Davies states that I apply Matthew 24:27 to a future
second coming. He writes: “Balyeat insists that this [Second
Coming] is yet to come at the end of history, a ‘coming’ that
will be visible across the whole sky - from East to West.”
If he had quoted my entire sentence, it wouldn’t take a rocket
scientist to see that I actually said exactly the opposite
of what Davies claims:
Despite the fact that Jesus
said this sign would be one of those fulfilled within that
generation futurists have erroneously concluded that
the coming of the Son spoken of in verse 27 is His Second
Coming at the end of history a coming that will be visible
across the whole sky - from east to west. (p. 117, 217).
I then proceed to point out
that, contrary to this futurist interpretation, a more reasonable
understanding of this passage is the preterist one. I paraphrased:
“When you see lightning in the east, you know a storm will
soon be here in the west. Even so, when I come in judgment
on Jerusalem you will see armies approaching from the east.
Then know that soon these foreign vultures will pick the carcass
of Jerusalem clean.” In fact, I clearly state in numerous
places throughout my book that “all of Matthew 24 is talking
about first century events” (e.g., p. 215). Thus, it is unfortunate
that Davies muddied the preterist waters by misquoting me
and giving the impression that my rejection of “full” preterism
was based on such flimsy and flawed Biblical exegesis.
To the contrary, my rejection
of full preterism is based upon four arguments. First, as
I have stated previously, certain passages alluding to a “Final
Coming” of Christ do not include time indicators. While
all those passages which do include “near at hand”
time indicators are easily and most naturally applied to A.D.
70; it is interesting that the passages which do not include
such time indicators can only be applied to A.D. 70 under
the most strained, super-symbolic interpretations. For example,
I simply cannot yet buy the extremely tenuous full preterist
interpretation of 1 Thess. 4:13-18.
to Objection #2 by Ed Stevens in
"Answers to Balyeat's Question: 2.
The Coming of Christ"
Nor can I yet accept the full preterist interpretation
of the two resurrections depicted in Revelation 20; especially
when this passage is compared with Jesus’ comments in John
5:24-29. Here Jesus seems to indicate clearly that the first
resurrection is a spiritual one (i.e., when we are “born again”
at conversion); and this is contrasted with a yet future bodily
to Objection #3 by Ed Stevens in
"Answers to Balyeat's Question: 3.
Likewise, I am in complete agreement with you that “the
last days” (plural) spoken of in scripture are certainly the
last days of first-century old covenant Israel and not the
“wicked last days of the world” as so many doomsday prophets
have misled us to believe. However, there are several other
passages which speak of a great and final “Last Day” (singular)
and which include statements about a bodily resurrection that
can only be interpreted under the full preterist system if
one is willing to “swallow a camel”. (e.g., see John 6:39-54,
to Objection #4 by Ed Stevens in
"Answers to Balyeat's Question: 4.
The Last "Days" versus the Last "Day""
Secondly, it seems to me that full preterism at times
suffers from the same chronological blindness which preterists
are so quick to criticize futurists for. I agree with you
that it is quite ridiculous for futurists to claim that “soon”
means 2,000 years and “the time is at hand” means 2 millennia.
Yet, elsewhere in the book of Revelation (chapter 20), we
read about events which were not to happen “soon”, but rather
“at the end of 1,000 years”. These events include: the release
of Satan for a short time to gather the remaining ungodly
from the dark corners of the earth; the final judgment and
second death of the wicked, etc. While I agree that the 1,000
years was not meant to be literal, it certainly does indicate
a very long period of time. Yet the full preterist position
argues that even these events were fulfilled in A.D. 70 or
shortly thereafter (i.e., the Bar Kochba rebellion in A.D.
135). “Consistent” preterists become very in-consistent
when they rail on futurists for saying “soon could mean 2,000
years”, while they themselves say “1,000 years could mean
soon”. Are the time indicators relevant or aren’t they?
to Objection #5 by Ed Stevens in
"Answers to Balyeat's Question: 5.
How Long is 1,000 Years?"
Thirdly, I cannot accept the “full” preterist interpretation
of 1 Cor. 13:8-12. It is a “camel-swallowing” feat of great
proportions to argue that the church saw and continues to
see Christ “face-to-face” in A.D. 70 and the centuries that
followed until today. In fact, I suspect that many of your
readers do not realize the full “anti-miraculous” implications
of full preterism when applied to this passage. If the “coming
of perfection” spoken of here is applied to an A.D. 70 parousia
instead of a future final “Great Day”, it would preclude any
and all miraculous giftings in the church: whether healing,
prophecy, or any other miracles; both today and throughout
Yet we have many well-attested
statements to the contrary – that miraculous giftings were
evident in the Church well beyond A.D. 70. Church historian
Eusebius quotes Justin Martyr (circa A.D. 150) stating that
“right up to his own time prophetic gifts were a conspicuous
feature of the Church.”
I first came to Christ through
the charismatic movement, yet I sadly agree that much of what
pass-es for the miraculous today (particularly “prophecy”)
is nothing other than pure emotionalism and personal eschatological
bias passed off on duped audiences as “Thus saith the Lord”.
I am presently researching for a book on that subject, entitled,
Pentecostal Prophecy and Predictions of Doomsday.
However, on the other hand
I have personally witnessed and participated in many medically-attested
miraculous healings and have also witnessed other miraculous
gifts (including prophetic utterances). While full preterists
might argue that I am letting my experience get in the way
of sound scripture exegesis, I argue that your prior “anti-charismatic”
bias is forcing you to adopt an extremely strained (and in
my view faulty) interpretation of 1 Corinthians. To cover
all the different facets of the “miraculous gifts” debate
(e.g., Acts 2) would require another book (or two), so let
us drop that subject and go on to my final argument.
Objection #6 by Ed Stevens in
"Is It Consistent to be a 'Partial
Fourthly, I have not accepted “full” preterism because
it appears to be inconsistent with the overwhelming majority
of opinion in the early church. More specifically, I am alluding
to the fact that the creeds of the early church all referred
to a future second coming of Christ, even though they were
written after A.D. 70.
However, at the same time,
I do not agree with those who argue that full preterism should
be rejected categorically as heresy simply because it doesn’t
agree with the creeds. I am in general agreement with most
of the arguments on this subject made by Edward Stevens in
his excellent article recently in Kingdom Counsel, “Creeds
and Preterist Orthodoxy.” I underlined his comments extensively.
Unfortunately, from my perspective
there is a very wide gulf between “not heresy” and “correct”.
Thus, while I do not go to the extreme of rejecting full preterism
as heresy simply because of the creeds, I do believe that
certainly some weight must be attached to the creeds, and
when this is coupled with the exegetical problems I outlined
above, I believe the partial preterist/postmillennial perspective
is a more correct interpretation than “full” preterism.
to Objections #7&8 by Ed Stevens in
"What If The Creeds Are
As Christ continues to mold and shape His church, it is
imperative that we within the church be able to discuss vital
issues and important doctrinal differences with great grace;
not quick to pin the “cult” and “heresy” labels on one another.
Likewise, as we debate these issues, it is only proper that
we represent each other’s views honestly and carefully. If
you are interested in seeking truth (and I firmly believe
you are), please consider publishing this letter and then
address your arguments to my real concerns, not mis-representative
“straw man” positions which I clearly do not hold to. Hopefully,
in the interest of your readers, future issues will attempt
to tackle some of the hard questions I have posited above,
as you have already done so effectively in your article on
the Creeds and Preterist Orthodoxy. Until then, despite re-reading
and re-reading J. Stuart Russell and all the other prominent
“full” and “consistent” preterists; I remain your faithful,
partial preterist/postmillennial, partial charismatic, and
(most importantly) “full” and “consistent” Christian
to Objections #7&8 by Ed Stevens in
"What If The Creeds Are
by Kenneth J. Davies