John Calvin vs. John Locke on Natural Law or Reason

John Calvin

As to the will, its depravity is but too well known. Therefore, since reason, by which man discerns between good and evil, and by which he understands and judges, is a natural gift, it could not be entirely destroyed; but being partly weakened and partly corrupted, a shapeless ruin is all that remains. In this sense it is said (John 1:5), that “the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not;” these words clearly expressing both points—viz. that in the perverted and degenerate nature of man there are still some sparks which show that he is a rational animal, and differs from the brutes, inasmuch as he is endued with intelligence, and yet, that this light is so smothered by clouds of darkness that it cannot shine forth to any good effect. In like manner, the will, because inseparable from the nature of man, did not perish, but was so enslaved by depraved lusts as to be incapable of one righteous desire…Since man is by nature a social animal, he is disposed, from natural instinct, to cherish and preserve society; and accordingly we see that the minds of all men have impressions of civil order and honesty. Hence it is that every individual understands how human societies must he regulated by laws, and also is able to comprehend the principles of those laws. Hence the universal agreement in regard to such subjects, both among nations and individuals, the seeds of them being implanted in the breasts of all without a teacher or lawgiver. The truth of this fact is not affected by the wars and dissensions which immediately arise, while some, such as thieves and robbers, would invert the rules of justice, loosen the bonds of law, and give free scope to their lust; and while others (a vice of most frequent occurrence) deem that to be unjust which is elsewhere regarded as just, and, on the contrary, hold that to be praiseworthy which is elsewhere forbidden. For such persons do not hate the laws from not knowing that they are good and sacred, but, inflamed with headlong passion, quarrel with what is clearly reasonable, and licentiously hate what their mind and understanding approve. Quarrels of this latter kind do not destroy the primary idea of justice. For while men dispute with each other as to particular enactments, their ideas of equity agree in substance. This, no doubt, proves the weakness of the human mind, which, even when it seems on the right path, halts and hesitates. Still, however, it is true, that some principle of civil order is impressed on all. And this is ample proof, that, in regard to the constitution of the present life, no man is devoid of the light of reason.– Institutes 2.2.12 & 13

John Locke

CHAPTER II: Of the State of Nature

Sect. 4. To understand political power right, and derive it from its original, we must consider, what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.

A state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another; there being nothing more evident, than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection, unless the lord and master of them all should, by any manifest declaration of his will, set one above another, and confer on him, by an evident and clear appointment, an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty.

Sect. 5. This equality of men by nature, the judicious Hooker looks upon as so evident in itself, and beyond all question, that he makes it the foundation of that obligation to mutual love amongst men, on which he builds the duties they owe one another, and from whence he derives the great maxims of justice and charity. His words are,

The like natural inducement hath brought men to know that it is no less their duty, to love others than themselves; for seeing those things which are equal, must needs all have one measure; if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire, which is undoubtedly in other men, being of one and the same nature? To have any thing offered them repugnant to this desire, must needs in all respects grieve them as much as me; so that if I do harm, I must look to suffer, there being no reason that others should shew greater measure of love to me, than they have by me shewed unto them: my desire therefore to be loved of my equals in nature as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to them-ward fully the like affection; from which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn, for direction of life, no man is ignorant, Eccl. Pol. Lib. 1.

Sect. 6. But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of licence: though man in that state have an uncontroulable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions, yet he has not liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any creature in his possession, but where some nobler use than its bare preservation calls for it. The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by his order, and about his business; they are his property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another’s pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another’s uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for our’s. Every one, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his station wilfully, so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not, unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another.

Sect. 7. And that all men may be restrained from invading others rights, and from doing hurt to one another, and the law of nature be observed, which willeth the peace and preservation of all mankind, the execution of the law of nature is, in that state, put into every man’s hands, whereby every one has a right to punish the transgressors of that law to such a degree, as may hinder its violation: for the law of nature would, as all other laws that concern men in this world ‘be in vain, if there were no body that in the state of nature had a power to execute that law, and thereby preserve the innocent and restrain offenders. And if any one in the state of nature may punish another for any evil he has done, every one may do so: for in that state of perfect equality, where naturally there is no superiority or jurisdiction of one over another, what any may do in prosecution of that law, every one must needs have a right to do.

Sect. 8. And thus, in the state of nature, one man comes by a power over another; but yet no absolute or arbitrary power, to use a criminal, when he has got him in his hands, according to the passionate heats, or boundless extravagancy of his own will; but only to retribute to him, so far as calm reason and conscience dictate, what is proportionate to his transgression, which is so much as may serve for reparation and restraint: for these two are the only reasons, why one man may lawfully do harm to another, which is that we call punishment. In transgressing the law of nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule than that of reason and common equity, which is that measure God has set to the actions of men, for their mutual security; and so he becomes dangerous to mankind, the tye, which is to secure them from injury and violence, being slighted and broken by him. Which being a trespass against the whole species, and the peace and safety of it, provided for by the law of nature, every man upon this score, by the right he hath to preserve mankind in general, may restrain, or where it is necessary, destroy things noxious to them, and so may bring such evil on any one, who hath transgressed that law, as may make him repent the doing of it, and thereby deter him, and by his example others, from doing the like mischief. And in the case, and upon this ground, EVERY MAN HATH A RIGHT TO PUNISH THE OFFENDER, AND BE EXECUTIONER OF THE LAW OF NATURE. — Two Treatieses of Goverment Ch. 2,  Sect. 4-8

Sermon for Oct. 26, 2008 “The Death of Moses” Deut 34:1-12

Fairmount ARP Church                                                                             October 26, 2008

Scripture Lesson                                                                                                           Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Sermon                                         “The Death of Moses”                                                      Benjamin P. Glaser

Audio of Sermon

In the closing days of the Second World War Franklin Delano Roosevelt succumb to the effects of a hardening of the arteries surrounding his brain. He had been President for over 12 years at the time of his death; having directed the United States through the Great Depression and the vast majority of World War II. FDR was responsible for leading us through some of the toughest and harshest days this nation has ever known, before or since. Whether he did a good and commendable job in his control of our nation’s government is up to the historians but there is one thing that we can be sure of in looking back to those days. Franklin Roosevelt was unable to see, unable to experience the spoils of victory, which included deliverance of the Jews from the Concentration Camps, the release of Chinese nationals from the Japanese labor camps or even to see the surrender of his enemies, but probably most importantly for FDR he did not see the day where the men fighting overseas were able to come home and be out of harms way. As well FDR saw the foundations of the future of this country. Although he was all but being assured of the victory in Europe he knew that the alliance he had made with Joseph Stalin and the Russians would lead to a long and protracted time of tension between the Soviets and the West. Things were less than settled when he died in April of 1945. It would be safe to say that on the day that FDR died there was still a great discomfort and a guarantee that much more would await America in the years to come, for the people he had led the last 12 years.

In our Scripture lesson for this morning we read of the death of Moses on Mount Nebo, but before we speak about Moses death I’d like to spend a little bit of time reminding us about why it was that Moses was not allowed to enter the Holy Land. Because it should seem a little strange to us that the man responsible for leading the Israelites out of Egypt, by God’s power, parting the waters of the Red Sea, providing for the worship of the Lord our God, receiving the Law, guarding the chosen people of God for over 40 years in the desert, among many other things that he had faithfully and willingly done for the Glory of God in his life should be kept from experiencing the joys and wonders of the Promised Land of Israel? I’d like for you if you might to turn with me to Numbers chapter 20 verses 1 through 13 as we read together the background for the reason for God’s refusal to allow Moses into the land promised to Abraham. You can find it on page 000 of your pew bible. [pause for 7 seconds] Starting at verse 1, “In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Sin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried [who was Moses’ sister remember]. Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD! Why did you bring the LORD’s community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!” Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them. The LORD said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” So Moses took the staff from the LORD’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the LORD and where he showed himself holy among them.”

Now at first reading it seems God was a little harsh to Moses and Aaron. Moses did what the Lord our God had instructed did he not? I mean Moses hit the rock just as the Lord had commanded? So why were they punished? Well Psalm 106 provides us with a little commentary on why it was God had punished Moses. Verses 32 and 33 from Psalm 106 say, “By the waters of Meribah they angered the LORD, [they being the Israelites] and trouble came to Moses because of them; for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses’ lips.” So here we have Moses being punished, one for his failure to control the people of God and for his and Aaron’s immature, almost childlike screaming at the people and their taking credit for the miracle of God. Look again at verse 10 in chapter 20. Moses says. “”Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Now who brought water from the rock? Did Moses bring the water from the rock? I do not think so. Moses in taking credit for the work of God had committed sin, the same sin that the representatives who had gone in chapter 13 of Numbers to explore Canaan had committed against God, not trusting in the Word of God to provide His people with the necessities that they needed and with the promises of His Word. This is key for us to understand in this time of great upheaval in our nation. Shall we be like the Israelites challenging God and His will in these times and shall we be like Moses reacting with anger and resentment, lashing out in rashness? We must trust in God, trust that God is not only in control of everything that is happening but also that it has a purpose in his providential hand and will in due time prove beneficial to God and His people. We must also remember that it is God who provides for us and must never come to the understanding that we can provide for ourselves using the means God has commanded for us as Moses tried to do here in this passage from the Book of Numbers, because we have seen what the punishment for such a lack of trusting and understanding in what God has planned for us in his Divine Hand.

Moving back to Deuteronomy 34 and our Scripture lesson this morning we have come to the end of Moses life, the wandering in the Wilderness of Sinai has ended. The last of those God had promised would have to die before they could enter the Promised Land has passed away and now God has allowed for the Israelites to approach the River Jordan to begin the process of preparing to take control, to annihilate the residents of Canaan as God had commanded them. Starting in verse 1 we read, “Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole land—from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” John Calvin at this point in his commentary on this passage makes a statement that we must understand at this juncture in the Scriptures, he says, “Now, the ascent of Moses was equivalent to a voluntary going forth to death: for he was not ignorant of what was to happen, but being called by God to die, he went to meet death of his own accord.” We observe in verse one that Moses, though of an advanced age required no assistance to scale a large mountain, which tells us that he was not in poor health. I do not know about you but I am a young, spry 28 year-old man and I could not imagine being like Moses who was 120 at the time of his death climbing all the way to the peak of Mount Nebo in the mountain range of Pisgah. Also we notice that Moses died alone with God on the top of Nebo, with none to hold his hand, alone to face the reality of his sin. [pause for 5 seconds] Though why is any of this important? Why does it matter if Moses went on his own accord to die upon the mountain? Why should we feel sorry for Moses? Firstly it matters because it had been appointed by God that it be so. It matters because Moses was a faithful follower of God’s call and God’s will, knowing that God had commanded that he should not enter the Promised Land. He was perfectly satisfied by God’s providence to get an understanding of what God has provided in the boundaries of the Kingdom that will come to be in Palestine, Moses knows by faith that God will be true to his promise and give him a gaze into the blessing which God had promised, that which was but a type of the blessing Moses himself was about to receive in his death. Moses had learned from his earlier sin at Meribah. He had learned to trust in what God had called him to do. Though most importantly these verses of God’s Holy Word teach us something even greater.

I ask you now to think of anybody else in Scripture that this reminds you of, anyone else in Scripture who went willingly to His death on a mount, who otherwise was in perfect health, who lovingly carried out the will of His Father who is in Heaven. Who else died alone on a mountain? Who also was given a glimpse of the glory that awaited Him for following the Will of God?

Turn with me if you will to the book of Matthew chapter 27, verse 41, which is page 000 in your pew bibles. [pause] Starting at verse 41, “The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ “In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him. From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus here like Moses went freely to His death. He also like Moses died alone, abandoned by the disciples, abandoned by His people, to die an excruciatingly painful death upon the Mount of the Skull outside of Jerusalem. There was isolation in that hour of unexplained desertion; misery and loneliness that is unfathomable to us. Christ sounded an intense cry quoting the 22nd Psalm, of which we can barely even begin to understand, this chasm that was created between God and Jesus in Christ’s death was greater than any expanse we can imagine. We get a picture of this chasm in our Scripture lesson when we read of Moses’ separation from the Promised Land. Moses was looking out across the plains of Moab, across the River Jordan in to the land that would be Jericho’s, the plains which Joshua would lead the Israelites in battle against all who currently lived in the Land God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses was barred from this place because of the sin of his people and his own personal transgression. Alexander MacLaren writes, “Christ was parted from God in His death, because He bore on Him the sins that separate us from our Father, and in order that none of us may ever need to tread that dark passage alone, but may be able to say, ‘I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me’—…Christ died that we might live. He died alone that, when we come to die, we may hold His hand and the solitude may vanish.” Christ died alone so that we who call upon Him and receive Christ as our Savior will not die alone as Moses and Jesus himself did at Mount Nebo and on Calvary.

Most hospitals in this country have a policy that no one is to die alone and when someone is close to death the nurse is required to contact the on-duty chaplain so that even those with no family present can have someone hold their hand as they die. They do this because even they recognize the idea that there is something intrinsically wrong with dying by yourself, with no one to share in your pain and in your ache. If those outside of Christ see the agonizing sadness of dieing alone how much more do we who are the followers of Christ have not to fear dying by ourselves because we know that Christ is with us?

In closing, Moses had been called by God to save his chosen people from the chains of slavery in Egypt. Moses had led them through the Wilderness, providing for them in every way that God had commanded him to do. In the same way Christ had been ordained by God, born of a virgin in the City of David, to die so that we, God’s chosen people, the Israel of God may live in the Promised Land of the Age to come. Moses got a glimpse of that land from far away but those of us who live in Christ Jesus are greater than Moses, we have been given the opportunity, the ability in Lord’s Day worship to experience the glory and the power and the presence of Jesus Christ and his Spirit here today. Let us not take for granted, as many have done, the pleasures of worship and the glory that we are able to enjoy because of Christ’s atoning death. Because of Jesus’ work on the cross we who have been blessed to be in Christ because of God’s choosing get to receive this glimpse of the Promised Land each and every Lord’s Day right here at Fairmount Church. Just as Moses was allowed a glimpse of the Promised Land, Christ is our promised place of refuge and peace. So as we go out into a world that is hostile to the Word of Christ let us remember one thing, that we go not alone even to our death. For Jesus Christ, our Savior and King, is with us always, even to the end of the Age.

To God Alone Be the Glory, this day and forevermore, Amen

Class Schedule For My Last Term In Seminary!!!

I am filled both with unending joy and a bit of fear in knowing that I have signed up for the last slate of classes I will ever take in my M. Div program. While I plan on doing work on a Th.M in the near future (which because of some other issues has been put on hold for the time being) this will be the last term and I will graduate with an M. Div at the end of February. I am also currently beginning to send out “applications” to open pulpits throughout the country. So without further ado here are the classes with the book lists…

Classes at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

NT 12 Interpretation of the Bible

Biblical Hermeneutics, Milton Terry

An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics, Walter Kaiser & Moises Silva

The Literary Structure of the Old Testament
, David Dorsey

PT 42 Marriage and Family Counseling


Christian Living in the Home
, Jay Adams

Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible
, Jay Adams

Solving Marriage Problems, Biblical Solutions For Christian Counselors,
Jay Adams

Strengthening Your Marriage
, Wayne Mack

Sword and the Shovel, George Scipione

A Homework Manual For Biblical Living Vol. II, ed. Wayne Mack

Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Trip


Classes at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

MI 02 Missiology

Ministry of the Missional Church, Craig Van Gelder

Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission, David Bosch

Operation World, Patrick Johnstone

Suffering and Glory in the Mission of God, Scott Sunquist

OT 02 Prophets and Psalms

A History of Prophecy in Israel, Joseph Blenkinsopp

The Destiny of the Righteous in the Psalms, Jerome Creach

To Answer a Few Questions

David,

“Would you consider writing an idiot’s guide to preterism? I find it compelling yet know that guys I respect and trust would almost rather that I was Dispy-leaning rather than preterist leaning.”

The idiot’s guide to Preterism is as follows:

Preterism is the belief (distinguished from hyper-preterism) that some of the events prophesied by Chirst in the Olivet Discourse, by Daniel in chapter 7, and John in Revelation 20 specifically have already been fulfilled in the events surrounding the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.

Now there is some nuance within the Preterist camp as to which ones have been fulfilled but generally one can look specifically at Matt 24:1-28 as having been fulfilled as well as much of Revelation up to the last couple of chapters.

Viola,

“Benjamin, how is amillennialism different or the same as Peterism? I notice that doesn’t get mentioned in this essay. I guess I could look it up but I’m lazy tonight.”

Viola, A-millenialism deals with the nature of the Millenium in Revelation 20. Preterism deals with what prophecies have been fulfilled so while they both deal with eschatological questions they have different emphasis in the discussion. For instance both Post-Millenialists and A-Millennialists believe that the Millenium is symbolic and not a literal 1,000 time period that began with the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. However few A-Millenialists are Preterists. Just different categories.

Cameron,

I’m interested in your reasoning why a “thousand years” did not mean a literal one thousand years.

Marcellus Kik in his book An Eschatology of Victory does an excellent job in laying out why this is the case. But for this purpose let me tell you this way. If you read the first part of Revelation 20 is highly symbollic. Look at the binding of Satan for example. Satan is a spirit how would one chain a spirit? Is it a literal key and chain? Do the saints sit on literal thrones? So if this be the case why would then the thousand years alone be literal?

TJ,

Ben, may I assume that Gentry is speaking of preterism broadly and that he would make a distinction b/t the partial and hyper/full flavors?

Yes that would be a safe assumption. Gentry and many others are trying to reclaim the word “Preterist” though they can be safely categorized as “Partial-Preterists” in today’s nomenclature.

Hope this answers some of your questions. If you have any others please feel free to ask them.

2008-09 Hunting Season

I have been pretty busy the last couple of weeks so this blog has been unfortunately semi-active. Thanks for your patience.

Well the 2008-2009 Hunting Season is upon us and I’ll begin my annual trek towards futility (hopefully not). Tomorrow my buddy Jon and I head out to Indiana County, PA (just past Saltsburg for the locals) for the opening day of Muzzleloader. Jon uses one of those new fangled flintlocks while I hunt with this beauty.

Well the 2008-2009 Hunting Season is upon us and I’ll begin my annual trek towards futility (hopefully not). Tomorrow my buddy Jon and I head out to Indiana County, PA (just past Saltsburg for the locals) for the opening day of Muzzleloader. Jon uses one of those new fangled flintlocks while I hunt with

this beauty.

I just pretend the Deer are Yankees.

The Preterist Perspective

Back to the Future – The Preterist Perspective
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Th.D.

With a recent flurry of books and conferences, the preterist perspective is beginning to make its presence felt in current prophecy discussions. Unfortunately, dispensational eschatology, which arose in the 1830s and is built on the futurist system, thoroughly dominates evangelical preaching, education, publishing, and broadcasting today. Consequently, evangelical Christians are largely unfamiliar with preterism, making it seem to be the “new kid on the block.” Preterism, however, is as hoary with age as is futurism. And despite its overshadowing in this century, it has been well represented by leading Bible-believing scholars through the centuries into our current day.One of the best known and most accessible of the ancient preterists is Eusebius (A.D. 260-340), the “father of church history.” In his classic Ecclesiastical History he details Jerusalem’s woes in A.D. 70. After a lengthy citation from Josephus’s Wars of the Jews, Eusebius writes that “it is fitting to add to his accounts the true prediction of our Saviour in which he foretold these very events” (3:7:1-2.) He then refers to the Olivet Discourse, citing Matthew 24:19-21 as his lead-in reference and later Luke 21:20, 23, 24. He concludes: “If any one compares the words of our Saviour with the other accounts of the historian concerning the whole war, how can one fail to wonder, and to admit that the foreknowledge and the prophecy of our Saviour were truly divine and marvelously strange” (3:7:7).

Another ancient document applying Matthew 24 to A.D. 70 is the Clementine Homilies (2d c.): “Prophesying concerning the temple, He said: ‘See ye these buildings? Verily I say to you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another which shall not be taken away Matt. 24:3; and this generation shall not pass until the destruction begin Matt. 24:34….’ And in like manner He spoke in plain words the things that were straightway to happen, which we can now see with our eyes, in order that the accomplishment might be among those to whom the word was spoken” (CH 3:15).

Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150-215) discusses Daniel’s seventieth week as a past event: “The half of the week Nero held sway, and in the holy city Jerusalem placed the abomination; and in the half of the week he was taken away, and Otho, and Galba, and Vitellius. And Vespasian rose to the supreme power, and destroyed Jerusalem, and desolated the holy place” (Miscellanies 1:21). The famed premillennialist Tertullian (A.D. 160-225) writes of the Roman conquest: “And thus, in the day of their storming, the Jews fulfilled the seventy hebdomads predicted in Daniel” (An Answer to the Jews, 8).

Even the Book of Revelation is applied to A.D. 70 by many in antiquity. In his Interpretation of the Revelation Andreas of Cappadocia (5th c.) noted that “there are not wanting those who apply this passage to the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Titus” (Rev. 6:12). Later he commented: “These things are referred by some to those sufferings which were inflicted by the Romans upon the Jews” (Rev. 7:1). According to noted church historian Henry Wace, Andreas’s commentary is “the earliest systematic exposition of the book in the Greek church.” Andreas himself informs us that he wrote it in order “to unfold the meaning of the Apocalypse, and to make the suitable application of its predictions to the times that followed it.”

Arethas of Cappadocia (6th c.) also provides us a commentary on Revelation which, according to Wace “professes to be a compilation” though “no mere reproduction of the work of his predecessor, although it incorporates a large portion of the contents of that work.” Arethas specifically applies various passages in Revelation to A.D. 70 (Rev. 6-7).

Jumping ahead in history, we find the Spanish Jesuit Alcasar (1614) who greatly systematized the preterist approach to Revelation. About this same time great reformed preterists flourished, such as Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) and Jean LeClerc (1657-1736). In fact, one of the finest intellects of the Westminster Assembly was a strong preterist: John Lightfoot (1601-1675). In his Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1674; rep. 1989) Lightfoot offered a fine preterist exposition of Matthew 24 (2:308-321), with allusions to 2 Thessalonians 2. Of the Thessalonian passage he argued that the “restrainer” therein “is to be understood of the emperor Claudius enraged at and curbing in the Jews” (2:312).

Lightfoot even adopted the view that Revelation 1:7 speaks of “Christ’s taking vengeance on that exceeding wicked nation” of Israel (2:319 and 422). There he interpreted Christ’s coming as a providential judgment upon “those who pierced him” (the Jews) from among “all the tribes of the land literally” (Israel). This committed Lightfoot so strongly to preterism that he suggested Revelation’s overall theme is Israel’s judgment: “I may further add, that perhaps this observation might not a little help (if my eyes fail me not) in discovering the method of the author of the Book of the Revelation” (3:210). This led him to conclude that the “judiciary scene set up in Rev. 4 and 5, and those thrones Rev. 20:1″ speak of “the throne of glory” and “is to be understood of the judgment of Christ to be brought upon the treacherous, rebellious, wicked, Jewish people. We meet with very frequent mention of the coming of Christ in his glory in this sense” (2:266).

Moving even closer to our own day, the great hermeneutics scholar Milton S. Terry (1840-1914) published much on the preterist scheme. His preterist convictions abundantly appear both in his classic text Biblical Hermeneutics (1885; rep. 1974) and in a separate work Biblical Apocalyptics (1898; rep. 1988). The renowned Swiss-American church historian Philip Schaff (1819-1893) also published a preterist view of Revelation in his classic History of the Christian Church (1:825-852).

One of the finest preterist commentaries on Revelation ever published was Commentary on the Apocalypse by the noted American Congregationalist, Moses Stuart (1780-1852). The still popular commentary on Revelation by Methodist scholar Adam Clarke (1762-1832) follows much of Lightfoot’s commitment to an A.D. 70 focus, as does that found in The Early Days of Christianity by renowned Anglican historian, F. W. Farrar (1831-1903). Baker Book House recently republished The Message from Patmos (1921, rep. 1989) by David S. Clark, father of Presbyterian apologist Gordon S. Clark.

Entering our own generation, several reformed expositions have helped fuel the current revival of preterism. J. Marcellus Kik’s The Eschatology of Victory (1971) developed the Olivet Discourse in great detail for us. Even more recent works include: David Chilton’s The Great Tribulation (1987), Gary DeMar’s Last Days Madness (1991), and my Perilous Times (1998).

The first phase of the current revival of preterist commentaries on Revelation include The Time Is At Hand (1966) by Jay E. Adams and Search the Scriptures: Hebrews to Revelation (1978) by Cornelis Vanderwaal. More recently still we have The Days of Vengeance (1987) by David Chilton, Revelation: Four Views (1996) by Steve Gregg, and my contribution to Marvin Pate’s Four Views on the Book of Revelation and my forthcoming A Tale of Two Cities (1999). R. C. Sproul’s The Last Days According to Jesus (1998) employs preterism as an apologetic tool in defense of the integrity of the prophecies of Jesus (Olivet) and John (Revelation).

As we consider the history of preterism we should be aware of its various branches. Just as premillennialism has cultic (e.g., Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses), dispensational (e.g., Scofield and Ryrie), and historic (e.g., Ladd and Kromminga) expressions, so preterism has three main divisions today.

Liberal preterists (e.g., James Moffatt, Expositor’s Greek Testament 1940) generally view prophecies of A.D. 70 as ex eventu pronouncements, that is, as “after the event” pseudo-prophecies. Revelation especially is deemed an editorialized compound of various Jewish and Christian oracles generated from historical responses to Jerusalem’s destruction. Liberal preterists correctly recognize the A.D. 70 focus of many judgment prophecies, but wrongly deny the predictive nature of inspired prophecy. Their works often contain valuable historical and grammatical gems that may be sifted from the rubble of critical exegesis.

Hyper-preterists (e.g., J. S. Russell’s, The Parousia, 1887, rep. 1983, 1997) provide many fine insights into preteristic passages. Unfortunately, they go too far by extending valid observations gathered from temporally-confined judgment passages (texts including such delimitations as “soon” and “at hand”) to passages that are not temporally constrained and that actually prophesy the future Second Advent of Christ. This school of preterism tends to focus all eschatological pronouncements on A.D. 70, including the resurrection of the dead, the great judgment, and the second advent of Christ. Consequently, they leave the stream of historic orthodoxy by denying a future return of Christ and are even pressed by system requirements to deny the bodily resurrection of Christ. This view has developed a cult-like following of narrowly focused and combative adherents.

Evangelical (and reformed) preterists (e.g., R. C. Sproul) take seriously the time texts of Scripture and apply those prophecies to A.D. 70, a redemptive-historical event of enormous consequence. They argue that there God finally and conclusively broadened his redemptive focus from the Jews to all races (Matt. 28:19), from the land of Israel to all the world (Acts 1:8), and from the temple-based worship to a simpler spiritual-based worship (John 4:21-24). Where such time markers are absent from eschatological texts, though, evangelical preterists apply the prophecies to the Second Advent at the end of history. The judgments in A.D. 70 are similar to those associated with the Second Advent (and to the Babylonian conquest in the Old Testament) and are actually adumbrations of the Second Advent.

So, the preterist urges the Christian interested in biblical prophecy to go “back to the future.” That is, in many cases we must go back to the original audience and look to the near future. And to understand the historical nature of preterism itself, we must look beyond the current debate to the stream of interpretation running throughout Christian history.