Is full preterism a new doctrine? (revised)

Who said this?

But the things which took place afterwards, did our Saviour, from his foreknowledge as THE WORD or GOD, foretell should come to pass, by means of those which are (now) before us. For He named the whole Jewish people, the children of the City; and the Temple, He styled their House. And thus He testified, that they should, on their own wicked account, bear the vengeance thus to be inflicted. And, it is right we should wonder at the fulfilment of this prediction, since at no time did this place undergo such an entire desolation as this was. He pointed out moreover, the cause of their desolation when He said, “If thou hadst known, even in this day, the things of thy peace:” intimating too His own coming, which should be for the peace of the whole world. But, when ye shall see it reduced by armies, know ye that which comes upon it, to be a final and full desolation and destruction. He designates the desolation of Jerusalem, by the destruction of the Temple, and the laying aside of those services which were, according to the law of Moses, formerly performed within it. The manner moreover of the captivity, points out the war. of which He spoke; “For (said He) there shall be (great) tribulation upon the land, and great wrath upon this people : and they shall fall by the edge of the sword.” We can learn too, from the writings of Flavius Josephus, how these things took place in their localities, and how those, which had been foretold by our Saviour, were, in fact, fulfilled. On this account He said, “Let those who are in its borders not enter into it, since these are the days of vengeance, that all may be fulfilled which has been written.” Any one therefore, who desires it, may learn the results of these things from the writings of Josephus.

Reformed critics of full preterism usually argue that the notion that all of prophecy was fulfilled in the first century is a recent doctrine, sometimes attributed to Luis de Alcazar in the 17th century or James Stuart Russell in the 19th century, oftentimes with full blame also given to Max King in the 20th for its recent revival. In order to call it heresy (as almost all of them do), they have to refer to it as unorthodox – something that the historic Christian Church has never believed. The quote above is from the period around the time of the first Council of Nicaea, an ecumenical council whose resulting creed is usually used by the Reformed as proof positive for a future return of Christ and final judgment. It was written by one Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea and preeminent Church historian. When Eusebius wrote this in the Theophania he had already begrudgingly signed the Nicene Creed, and afterward said other things that did not seem to altogether uphold it. This casts an aspersion on the ability of the ecumenical councils to stand as the supreme trump card divinely ordained. For that matter, where did those ecumenical councils go? If they are all the Reformed think they are, we could use a few nowadays.

Meanwhile, I reserve the right to affirm full preterism as a doctrine that has “historical Church” credentials.


The original quote that I had up there was by Samuel Lee, the translator, as his summary of what he believed after reading Eusebius. It is decidedly more full preteristic than Eusebius’ own words. I have replaced Lee’s words with some of the words of Eusebius that influenced Lee so strongly. What is stated here is common to both partial preterism and full preterism, and is thus not the argument that I thought it was. Unfortunately, the full futurists who find out that an ECF believed something or other don’t generally care what those ancient, “Catholic” guys thought and will go on believing what our modern end-times “experts” tell them. I do put some value on what the ECF believed (as much as I do any sincere Christian), but I never believe what they said just because they said it.

All those concessions aside, Eusebius’ quote above does put the Second Coming in the first century. I am a full preterist for exegetical reasons: there’s no way you’re going to convince me there’s some sort of gap somewhere in Matthew 24 that magically splits prophecy of first-century events from prophecy of events to take place no earlier than the third millennium (that’s now). The Second Coming occurred in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem: any other “coming” we’re waiting on is a third coming not promised in Scripture.

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