Presuppositions are impossible to escape. They are the warp and woof of everything a person does. A person goes to sleep at night presupposing the sun will shine the next day and the bed in which he lies will provide a good rest. Some presuppositions are insignificant, others are monumental. A scientist working on the hypothesis he has drawn presupposes knowledge and experimentation to be reliable; otherwise, he would not be a scientist. Students of the Bible carry presuppositions with them as they read certain texts as well. In as much as presuppositions establish stability they also impede maturity. Sometimes one’s presuppositions are false and they way out of such a slough is arduous.
This essay will explore the possibility that an historical doctrine of the church has been established upon faulty presuppositions. Having such a faulty paradigm blinds the reader of scripture from seeing the plain meaning of the story and it leads him to deny what appears to be a prima facia truth. Of course, this essay is based upon certain presuppositions leading to challenge the status quo, but the attempt at fair play is also…presupposed. This essay is an experiment, if you will. It might not be valid and if so, the author welcomes wise council.
The presupposition that will be evaluated in this essay is the church’s belief that the “coming back” passages in the Gospels teach that Jesus will return bodily in the future to conclude all history and usher in the eternal, renewed universe. It is the presupposition of this writer that the only expectation in the New Testament is the vindication of Jesus’ ministry as prophet to Israel.
note bene: Notice I did not say that I do not expect a future resurrection. I am not a full preterist, but a postmillennial one.
Anyone reading the story of the New Testament a priori will expect exactly what the text presents: Israel will fall under the judgment of Jesus at the appointed time. This is what the entire New Testament is about. From the beginning of Matthew to the end of Revelation, the story is singular:
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near and
You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee the wrath to come? The axe is laid to the root of every tree not bearing good fruit which will be thrown into the fire and
Fill up the measure of your fathers, your serpents—brood of vipers! How will you escape the sentence of gehenna? Therefore, behold! I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some you will kill and crucify and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city. This will be so that upon you will fall all the righteous blood shed on the land from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah…whom you murdered between the altar and temple. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
The kingdom of the world has become our Lord’s and of his Anointed One and he will reign ages of ages and
Praise Yahweh! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God because his judgements are true and righteous for he has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the land with her immorality and he has avenged the blood of his bond- servants on her…Praise Yahweh! Her smoke rises up ages of ages.
It is the working hypothesis of this writer that the only judgment expected and presented in the New Testament is one: Israel will be punished for her sins. The expectation of a 2nd coming of Jesus still future is a foreign and imposed reading on certain texts. There is no reason to expect a final coming of Jesus based upon many of the typical proof texts of the New Testament and to say so is to misread the text by imposing one’s presuppositions upon those texts. Anyone in the generation of Jesus who heard the message of the euangelion and the subsequent messages found in the letters of the apostles, would not read anything into time beyond the first century. The safe guard for error is the resurrection. When a passage is clearly referring to the resurrection, this is still future.
Again, while I am fully preterist in my reading of the NT, I am postmillennial in my view of the kingdom. See my essay on Olivetianism.