The Past-Trib Blasphemy

By: Pastor Kenneth Kirkland, Valdez, AK

[An article from "The View from the Lighthouse" newsletter, April-May-June issue, 2001. It is not our normal policy to "name-names," however, the most significant idividual who introduced Preterism and Amillennialism into the Oneness movement is named. This is not a personal attack, our purpose in doing this article is to sound the alarm about this doctrine. This article is only an introduction, the sequel to it, “A Closer Look at Past-Trib” is a more in depth article.]

Back in 1995 I was privileged to be part of a history making event, the first “Apostolic Post-trib Prophecy Conference” in Tampa, FL. As one of the speakers, my subject was "Being Prepared for the Endtimes," in which I mentioned the different beliefs on the tribulation: pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib, pan-trib, and PAST-trib. I had studied past-trib, was strongly opposed to it, and felt it should be mentioned. However, it was a non-issue. Most were aware of pre, mid, post, and "pan" (everything is going to pan out in the end) doctrines, but who ever heard of "past"- trib?

Little did we know at the time that one in our midst was to become the ringleader of this doctrine in the Apostolic movement. In conferences, revivals, tapes, and written material, he preaches the "Preterist" doctrine. "Preterist," derived from the Latin "praeteritus" meaning what is past, thus, my name for it, "Past"- Trib.

  We have observed him in his departure from post-trib truth, how he has went step by step into doctrinal error. I have nothing against him personally, but I have plenty against the doctrine he is spreading everywhere. The damage being done constrains us to mention his name, Larry Smith of El Campo, Texas.

  At our next prophecy conference at Nashville, Tenn., my subject was "Prophetic Beliefs in Church History." Bro. Smith was there as one of the speakers. I stressed how the testimony of history supports the post-trib, premillennial second coming of Jesus Christ as the oldest prophetic belief in church history, going all the way back to the earliest years after the Apostles. Predating all other beliefs. Bro. Smith left our fellowship after that meeting.

 The writings of one John Bray, a Baptist writer, strongly influenced Smith. John Bray preaches the twin doctrines of Amillennialism and Preterism. Larry Smith and I sharply disagreed, first, on the millennial, later, on past-trib. He spiritualized the thousand years of Rev. 20, placing the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6) all the way back at the beginning of the Church age. By doing so, the first resurrection is spiritualized.

Furthermore, at the beginning of the Church age, the devil was supposed to be have been bound, chained, and sealed up in the bottomless pit (Rev. 20:1-3). Thus, Bray and Smith say our present church age is the millennium, and the devil has been sealed up all this time in the bottomless pit! Hmm. I’d say we’ve got a serious flaw with this doctrine, or else the seal that God used to seal up the devil HAS GOT A BAD LEAK! And doesn’t Rev. 20:1 say the devil gets chained? Judging by all the damage he’s doing, it must be a very long chain!

  As typical of false doctrine, one error usually leads to another. Amillennialism has started many on the road to Preterism. You see, the context of Rev. 20 won’t allow you to get by with merely spiritualizing the 1000 years, you have to deal with what precedes it. Revelation identifies tribulation martyrs among those who enter the millennial: those "which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads…and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years," Rev. 20:4. Its obvious, the millennial must follow the tribulation.

  Rev. 20:4 forces them to place the tribulation first. They can’t have the tribulation as not happened yet, else the millennial hasn’t happened yet. That’s where PAST-trib comes in. You simply place the tribulation in the past, waaaay back in the first century AD. This means the beast, his mark, and the martyrs "which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads," go back there too as part of the events, they claim, leading up to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. The Roman Emperor, Nero, was supposed to be the antichrist, etc. They claim the day of the Lord with the sun and moon darkened, the stars falling from heaven, was the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70! Seals, trumpets, vials, and Armageddon, the whole nine yards. And, get this, They Claim The Coming Of The Lord Happened In Ad 70 Also!

 To put it simply, for the Preterists, the book of Revelation is the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. So, you see how they solve the problem of Rev. 20:4. A spiritualized millennium fits rather nicely in the scheme.

  Preterism and a spiritualized millennium go together like a hand in a glove. It’s not just Revelation, except for the very end of the millennium this doctrine forces every prophetic part of the Bible into an AD 70 fulfillment: The O. T. prophets, Matthew 24, and the epistles. Basically, the entire Bible.

  Not all preterists believe every aspect of what we have just described. Some call themselves "full preterist," while others are "partial preterist." Or, "consistent preterists" as opposed to the "inconsistent preterists," who, it is claimed, shirk the implications of their position. The so-called "inconsistent preterist" modify things here and there trying to dodge the radical image of their doctrine.

Now, you might be saying, this is interesting, but it’s preposterous! How can sensible people fall for such? But they are. Smith has gained quite a following. To the unsuspecting, to the vulnerable, those not versed in prophetic doctrine, Preterists appear to make a convincing case. It is a mistake to underestimate, or take lightly this doctrine!

  It has a certain appeal. Just think of it. No more anxiety about the tribulation, antichrist, or mark of the beast to fret about. No need to pay any attention to the Post-Tribs always going on about the church going through the tribulation, why, for that matter, the whole pre, mid, and post-tribulation controversy is just silly. To the preterists, its ALL IN THE PAST! Whoopee! Now, then…with dread out of the way, let’s have REVIVAL! How wonderful. More accurately, how insidious. I am all for revival, but, I wonder, to what are their converts being won?

The Bray/Smith doctrine has a special attraction to Pre-Tribs. They have followed the likes of Hal Lindsey, Jack Van Impe and others now for a hundred years, and have seen their predictions fail time and time again. Many Pre-Trib/Dispensationalists are disenchanted, and are ripe for an alternative. Here is how one writer put it:

 "Whereas the hallmark of Dispensationalism is elaborate charts [Larkin] and comic-book scenarios of the future, the Preterists have no charts at all. For them there is nothing to think about; all prophecy is fulfilled--no charts at all. Life is easy. Eschatology is the easiest of all. They peer into the future and see nothing. Amazingly, the Preterists have chosen to combat dispensational eschatology with an eschatology that is no eschatology at all."

 Suspecting there must be something wrong with the Pre-Trib scenario, casting about, trying to find something with which they can avoid having to go through the tribulation, Pre-Tribs think they have hit the jackpot with this scheme! Isn’t it amazing the alternative schemes the devil cooks up for those who do not want truth?

  Why are we so down on this doctrine? As if the placing of the second coming of Jesus Christ as an already fulfilled event in the past is not bad enough, this doctrine sets one up for the mark of the beast, and whatever other deceptions the antichrist will throw at us! When it comes, the Past-Tribber will not believe that it is the real antichrist, nor the real mark of the beast. It contains the seeds of deception to lead many to the Antichrist and to embrace his agenda. It is hard to imagine a more insidious doctrine!

  Worse yet, it is blasphemy. This scheme of interpretation makes one giant stride from the fall of Jerusalem in the first century, to the end of the millennium. Prophecy, in the entire intervening space, doesn’t give us the time of day. To the preterists, the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6) is in the past. In fact, it is the placing of the first resurrection in the past (synonymous with the coming of the Lord, as they are one and the same event), that constitutes blasphemy.

  See the passages below. Notice, Hymenaeus, Philetus, and Alexander placed the first resurrection IN THE PAST! The Apostle Paul was constrained to name these people out. He described their doctrine as cancerous in the body of Christ, it causes spiritual shipwreck, and it is blasphemous.

 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneaus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.                         (2 Tim. 2:16-18)

Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.   (1 Tim. 1:19-20)

The Hymenaenists say the day of the Lord and cosmic calamities in the sun, moon, and stars were fulfilled figuratively in 70 AD. They say Jesus came figuratively in the clouds in 70 AD. They say the first resurrection is figurative, and in the past. They say the devil was bound, chained, and sealed figuratively in the past. We say these await fulfillment. We say those in the graves still await the first resurrection, and the second coming of Jesus Christ has NOT happened yet!


  K. Kirkland, Pastor - This article is Copyright © 2002, All rights reserved.


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