Two men have asked about Lk 21.22 and why I left hyper-preterism. Here’s a brief answer where I address both of those questions:
There are various reasons, but what finally did me in was this:
What is full preterism? It is the belief that all prophecy was fulfilled by the end of the first century. So how would a person arrive at that conclusion? I can only think of two legitimate ways: (1) exegete every prophecy and show how it was fulfilled and/or (2) find Scripture that basically does the work for you by saying, in essence, “all of this will be fulfilled by then.”
Regarding (1), there is not a single full preterist who has done this. In fact, if you combined all of the work that full prets have done, you still would not account for all prophecy, and I doubt you would account for a fourth of them.
When I raised this objection years ago, seasoned full prets like Dave Green and Michael Sullivan said I was ridiculous for demanding such a thing. One objected, “but futurists haven’t even done that.” But futurists aren’t the ones claiming that all of it has been fulfilled.
When Sam debated Miano, my friend asked Miano to explain some prophecy in Daniel, and Miano said, in essence, “I don’t know. I haven’t studied that.” Yet, there he was, in a debate, defending the theory that all was fulfilled. How could he claim that all was fulfilled when he has yet to study all prophecy? This leads me to the second way.
(2) A passage that basically does the work for you by saying, in essence, “all of this will be fulfilled by then.”
This gets to the heart of why full prets embrace their theory. They believe the “time texts” provide the shortcut. If you ask any full preterist, they will tell you that the “time texts” got them going. It’s the first thing they go to. So, I spent time on the “time texts” and asked whether there was a single one that restricted the fulfillment of all prophecy, without exception, to the first century, and there wasn’t one.
The closest you get is Luke 21.22 because it says, “for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.” It is assumed, however, that the word “all” there means “everything without exception.” That’s not the meaning of the word “all.” “All” means “the sum total of a group of particulars.”
No doubt, Jesus said, “all things that are written….” But we must ask, “all things written about WHAT?” What particulars are in view?
Full preterists would have us believe that “all things that are written” refers to the whole of Scripture! Now, is such an interpretation possible on literary grounds alone? Sure. It’s possible. The word “all” can include the “particulars” of every single prophecy. But the context defines for us what “particulars” are in mind.
There are a couple of reasons why the full preterist interpretation of defining the “particulars” of Lk 21.22 as referring to every single prophecy fails:
1. The immediate context of Lk 21.22 is clearly speaking of judgment on Israel. Therefore, the “particulars” in question are “all” of that which attends the judgment of Israel…nothing more. In other words, “all things written” about Israel’s judgment will be “fulfilled.”
2. The Scriptures clearly speak to a time following the destruction of Jerusalem, i.e., the age to come. Even full preterists acknowledge this except for a few they call “hyper-preterists.” And to this, we would point out that these “hypers” are actually consistent with the full preterist interpretation of Lk 21.22 as argued by men like Don Preston, for this simple reason: if ALL Biblical prophecy (unqualified) was fulfilled by 70AD, then the Scriptures have no prophetic relevance for the world beyond 70AD. Full preterism leaves us in complete darkness, but the Bible does not.
3. Full preterists love to cheer on the principle of analogia fidei – the analogy of faith. This principle, simply put, is that Scripture interprets Scripture. Of course, there is more to this principle than what full prets let on. For starters, this principle involves more than just cutting and pasting together a bunch of verses that use the same words and then hollering for “consistency.” The principle assumes that the challenging task of exegesis, which considers the whole of Scripture, has taken place. And systematic exegesis (exegeting in light of the whole) does not exist in the full preterist world. They have not even come close.
Let’s pretend that it does exist and go along with their superficial understanding of analogia fidei. If we flip just a few chapters back in Luke, we find the following:
“And taking the twelve, he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.” (Luke 18:31-34 ESV)
Did you notice that? “Everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.” When? “See, we are going up to Jerusalem.”
Is Jesus saying that every single thing that has ever been written about Him will be accomplished upon entering the city of Jerusalem? Luke is using the same language he used in chapter 21! Does it not CLEARLY say, “everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished” then?!
If it is, then not only is “partial preterism” false, but full preterism is also false. Did the “coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of glory” happen then? Nope, not even for a full preterist.
Again, we must ask the question that every interpreter does ask, even the full preterists, with this verse: what “particulars” does the word “everything” refer to in context? And the answer is simple: “For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”
“All” of those particulars will come to pass when the Son of Man enters Jerusalem. “Everything that is written” about those particulars “will be accomplished.”
Here’s another one:
“Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.” (Acts 13:26-31 ESV)
Did you see that? “When they had carried out ALL THAT WAS WRITTEN OF HIM, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.”
Even a full preterist would have to admit that it would be absolutely insane to argue that every single prophecy that was written of Christ (unqualified) was fulfilled while Christ hung on the cross.
“But it says, ‘they had carried out all that was written of him ‘, does it not? Does ‘all’ not mean ‘all’ here?”
Well, of course, it does. “All” always means “all.” That isn’t the debate. The debate is, “all” of what? And for whatever reason, full preterists completely ignore this natural and necessary question regarding Luke 21.22. Even when we lay aside, for the sake of argument, the fact that full preterists misuse the principle of analogia fidei, and we attempt to read Lk 21.22 as full preterists should read it (principally), we still can’t arrive at their interpretation of v.22 “consistently.”
We must ask what particulars the “all” of Lk 21.22 include. And the context of Lk 21 spells that out plainly, with the whole of Scripture informing us of what it does not include.
I finally came to see that full preterists did not start by examining these “time texts” in light of the whole, rightly understood, but started with “time texts,” wrongly understood, because they ignored the rest of Scripture and lost the restraining effect the rest of Scripture has in determining what “all” could include. As a result, the rest of Scripture gets pigeonholed into 70AD, and texts like 1 Cor. 15 are made to say something they clearly don’t say. Then Genesis comes next (Covenant Creationists – Genesis isn’t about the earth). Then Isaiah. Then Romans. On it goes.
And here’s the kicker: they are actually guilty of doing the very thing they accuse creedalists of doing…forcing everything to fit a man-made creed, except that their only unquestionable, undebatable proposition of ‘orthodoxy’ is their faulty interpretation of a time text. Everything else is up for grabs.
And what you eventually end up with, when this new orthodoxy is carried out, is something wholly contrary to the Christian faith.