In the last part of this review, I talked about Preterism and why Skyview Church is such an important voice in our community. And that is because as far as I know, they are the only “Preterist” voice. But what is “Preterism”?
Very simply put, Preterism is the belief that all of the prophecies of the Bible have been fulfilled. Some of them may be ongoing forever, but bringing them into action has been fulfilled. For example, Christ has risen. That is a fulfilled prophecy. But the effects of His resurrection are ongoing and last forever. And because it has been fulfilled, we can now, all of us, receive the blessing of this fulfilled prophecy, which is salvation. But bringing the prophecy into action, with that being what I mean by “fulfilled”, well, that took place almost 2,000 years ago. We are not waiting for it today!
And as for me, I am glad that they have been fulfilled! People often ask me; “Well, if all of the prophecies of the Bible have been fulfilled, then what good is it [the Bible] to us today?”.
I’ll get to the answer to that question in a few minutes. But first, it is important to note that ones end times view is not just a small side issue as many would claim, but rather, an extremely important part of the Christian faith! And there are multiple reasons for this:
1) It is the second most talked about thing in the New Testament (after initial salvation).
2) It is the theme of the entire Bible as a whole (the Gospel does not end at the cross).
3) It determines ones entire outlook on the Christian faith!
And you see, the reality is that unfortunately, many people who study the Bible are not doing because of the Gospel message in it, but rather, they’re playing “the prophecy game”.
What do I mean by this? Very simple. They read the books about how we, today, are the ones in the end times. They watch the TV shows that are wholly about this very same subject. And they buy all of the study materials that lay out the timetables for the end times, which of course, are always about our generation today. Not the one before us and not the one after us, but always this one! And of course, when it comes to Jesus’ statement in Matthew 24:34 in which He is clearly speaking of His own generation, they claim it’s about ours today. And this claim is made, even though with every other identical statement in the New Testament, they acknowledge the simple fact that He is speaking about His own generation. But when it comes to the exact same language (the original Greek) used in the Matthew 24:34 verse, they claim that; “What Jesus really meant, was ‘the generation alive at the time these things happen’.”.
I’m sorry, but where are all of those extra words found in that verse? And where is the authority for adding those words to the Scriptures and for this sudden shift in thinking?
You see, what they do, is they take their view of how the prophecies were to be fulfilled and then add words to what Jesus said about when the prophecies were to be fulfilled, to make it fit with their Futurist end times view.
And so when dealing with these prophecies, including prophecies in the Old Testament that they claim are about the end times (but which have usually been fulfilled thousands of years ago, in previous battles), they do the same thing, cementing their end times view first and instead of reevaluating it when the Biblical facts don’t line up with their view, they instead try to force fit the events and prophecies of the Bible into their preassumed end times doctrine. And therefore, instead of arrows being arrows and horses being horses, arrows become missiles and horses become tanks. Even when they admit that it has been proved to them that an Old Testament prophecy that they thought was about the end times was actually about a past event, they still refuse to even think about examining the rest of their claims about various Scriptures. And this, no matter how many pegs you knock out from under their doctrine.
And while I’m not saying that these people never study any other subject in their Bibles, when these people talk about studying their Bible, what you mostly hear from them, or see written in an online post, etc. (and bear in mind that this is after watching the news and programs about how the news today is found in the Bible) is;
“I can’t wait to go home to study and see how the prophecies of the Bible are being fulfilled before our very eyes!”
And thus we have the “prophecy game”! This is where these people spend their time trying to force the daily news into Bible prophecy and vice-versa. And no matter how many times their predictions fail, no one of their “end timer heroes” is ever “wrong” to them. There’s just the prediction, based on the next news broadcast, which of course holds the key to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy! Because to these people, if the Bible’s not all about us today, then it is of no use!
Don’t believe me? Just ask one of these “end timers” a very simple question; “But what if you found out that the prophecies of the Bible were already fulfilled a long time ago?”.
The answer would probably be something along the line of; “Then the Bible wouldn’t be of any use to us today!”, or the same thought in question form.
Now isn’t that interesting! They go right by the entire message of salvation! The only use that the Bible has to them, is if they get to make it all about us today! And if that’s not the case, then they have no use for it! Take away the whole concept of the prophecies of the Bible being all about us today (not before us and not after us, but about us today) and I believe that you would find these same people no longer have the desire to open their Bibles anymore, or at least very little! You see, their interest in the Scriptures would drop off to almost nil, if they would still have any interest in studying it at all!
Now what is that, when your view is that in order for the Bible to hold any interest for us today, is that it has to be all about us today; our generation?
Well, I call it one very large ego! It’s vanity in its extreme! I mean think about it. If the most important book (set of books and letters) ever written isn’t about them and their time today, then as far as they’re concerned, it’s of no use to anyone today? What else would you call that, but ego and vanity?!
It’s certainly not the view that Jesus taught! And vanity and ego is certainly not the view promoted in the Gospel!
But I don’t blame them entirely for this view. You see, they’re taught in their churches and in TV programs and books to watch the news and to force fit what they see into the Bible. Thus, it never occurs to them that arrows are arrows and horses are horses, instead of missiles and tanks. After all, how could it, when they are taught to first begin with the presumption that the prophecies of the Bible are all about us, today? And of course, it doesn’t help that they’re completely ignorant of the history involved in the times, places and peoples of the Biblical texts and that they try to make everything in the Bible something to be understood as if it were written by 21st century Gentiles. But again, they’re not entirely to blame. This is what they’re taught from the start.
But the real problem sets in when they know enough to know enough and they begin to play “the prophecy game”. And this is what they’re interested in. Not in the true Gospel. I.e., they don’t open their Bibles because they want to study by first realizing that they need to know something about the times/places/peoples in the Biblical texts. Instead, they begin by assuming that because they have their end times view, of course everything they read in the Bible should be understood in that light.
And so, when an end timer (one who thinks that the prophecies of the Bible could only be about us today) is asked the question, their response will almost always be; “Then what good is the Bible to us today?”.
And so, to answer the question asked earlier in this post, as for me, when someone asks me that question(“If the Bible isn’t all about us today, then what good is it?”), my response is; “Are you serious? Let me tell you what, my friend… All of the prophecies being fulfilled makes the Bible even more valuable to me today! You see, while you’re sitting there waiting for things to happen, I can point to and show others where and when the Lord kept His word and did exactly what He said He was going to do! Now how exactly does that make the Bible less valuable?!”
The truth is folks, it is a far better message to preach! :-)
As for the “how”, I know you have your views. But if the Lord said that it was going to happen within His generation (the Greek phrase there is always used to mean that same generation every other time it’s used in the NT), then dont you think that you ought to at least think about whether or not your view about the “how” is correct?
There is a simple rule in proper Biblical interpretation. And that rule is that you interpret the fantastic sounding, by the clear and simple, not the other way around. Now what sounds more fantastic? Saying; “this generation”? Or saying; “and the Lord will ride a cloud”? Which one is more likely to be figurative, or possibly metaphorical speech?
The problem here, is that they have been taught that the fulfillments would be all about the physical, instead of the spiritual. And so they wait for Jesus to physically appear in the sky for the whole planet to see, even though that would be physically impossible! And they bring up Scriptures like Rev 1:7 which says that “every eye will see him”, but they reject the simple fact that from the original Greek, it simply means the people of that same land (there is a different Greek word used when speaking of the planet, than the one that appears there). And they reject the history of those people and their religion that tells you that they were using hyperbole, just as they did throughout the Old Testament. Read Isaiah 13:6-10. It is a fulfilled prophecy about the time that Babylon conquered Judea, that uses the exact same wording that Jesus did! But they, the Futurists, reject these things, not because they actually believe that these facts are wrong (they admit to these proofs). But because they interfere with their desire for it to be all about them today, which is vanity driven and their desire for it to be all about the physical world, because contrary to what Jesus taught, that’s where their heart is! It’s not that they can’t see it. It’s that they don’t want to see it! And so when it comes to the New Testament, they have no problem claiming that Jesus spoke of the physical and was being physically literal, regardless of the fact that the #1 rule in Scriptural interpretation is that “Scripture interprets Scripture”. Instead, to them, “Futurist doctrine interprets the New Testament”.
Now I do know that ones doctrine is a hard thing to let go of! But there has to come a time when we all take responsibility for ourselves and put the truth before out own personal desires and of course, our own egos.
As for the beliefs held at SkyView, they are what some would call, “Partial Preterist”. This simply means the belief that almost every prophecy has already been fulfilled, except those that speak of the return of Christ; the “Second Coming”.
Let me say something here. And that is that I do not like all of these added categories to Preterism, because in truth, there are no such categories. I have used the term “Partial Preterist” in conversations sometimes, just for ease of understanding, but I have also made the facts clear.
You see, the word “preterist” comes from the Latin word “praeter”, which means “past”, or “in the past”. This plainly means that believing that anything has yet to happen, takes one out of that realm and makes theirs a Futurist belief.
It doesn’t matter how much you believe is still in the future. Futurists have varying degrees of what they believe has been fulfilled and what hasn’t. It is the very idea that you believe that any prophecy has yet to be fulfilled, that is what makes you a Futurist.
In other words, have you ever heard anyone being called a “Partial Futurist”? No, of course not. And that’s because there is no such thing as “partial” anything when it comes to end times beliefs. You are either a Futurist, or you are a Preterist. There is no middle ground! And people wanting to add them into belief systems, does not change this truth!
To repeat and expand; There is no such thing as a Futurist who believes that ALL of the prophecies in the Bible have yet to be fulfilled. They all believe that only some of them have yet to be fulfilled and different Futurists believe in different amounts of them having been fulfilled. But regardless of how many they believe have/have not been fulfilled, they are still Futurists.
A Futurist is anyone who believes that any, no matter how many of the prophecies in the Bible, still have yet to be fulfilled.
A Preterist is the person who holds the position that ALL of the prophecies in the Bible HAVE been fulfilled. The very definition of the word belies any other approach to the subject! There is no such thing as a “Partial Preterist”. It just doesn’t exist and claiming it does, does not make it so.
To their credit, the elders at SkyView are quite knowledgeable about the Scriptures. But when I first started attending there, I quickly realized that they were in the line of thinking that “Partial Preterist = Full Preterist”, which is not the case. But this they thought in ignorance, as we all have done many times in our lives. But the important part, is that they did it with a heart that wants to be Scripturally correct and that is the important thing, as one is open to learning from that standpoint and wisely, they are always learning, as we should all be. And they are open to learning more every day, instead of being like so many, who look down their noses! I found true humility at Skyview! And I found a heart true to God! How much more can you ask for? Seriously.
And remember that technically being a Futurist church does not mean that they do not have a good message to offer! They do! And it is a view that is important in our community, because even at the “Partial Preterist” stage, it is a message that is not heard in our community otherwise (as far as I know) and it is one that could lead people to the “Full Preterist” view, which Skyview may already now hold.
So personally, I think that Skyview should make a much bigger deal out of this part of their preaching, as far as letting people know that they hold the Preterist end times view (meaning somehow advertizing this fact). When you consider that after initial salvation, the return of Christ is the most preached about thing in the New Testament, this is an important thing for people to know! And I think this would cause any Preterists in the area to come out of the woodwork and would really increase the attendance there! And I think they’d find out just how loyal Preterists can be. And of course, I’d be glad to help them out with this if they wanted. I can “put out the call”, if they ever are of this mind.
Of course, this is if they have finally swung away from the Futurist view and have converted fully to the Preterist view. I have had some discussions there and I hope that I have offered a seed there, that I hope will grow to its full maturity! And of course, I am always here and am always wide open any and all discussions, or even (friendly) debates about this.
However, just to be clear, this does mean that as I said, unless they have changed to what many people would call “Full Preterist”, then they are technically a Futurist church. And that is because they believe that there are prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled, albeit not many of them. But even if that’s true today, they teach more truth at their church, than any other church that I have ever attended! And I highly recommend that you attend it as well! Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll even see each other there. :-)
Knowing that at least at this point in time, I am not capable of running a church myself, I consider Skyview to be my home church, even though I am physically unable to attend (but hope to stop in pretty soon and possibly attend a study share what I can and hopefully learn something new). I still think of them that way and stay in touch. I also still contribute financially whenever I can and as much as I can. And I say that not to credit myself, but because those who know me, know that I would not contribute to any church that I did not feel was truly out to preach the message of God and therefore, to encourage you to go there and see for yourself how worthwhile Skyview is as a place of worship and community and to contribute there, if you feel so led to do so! For whatever it’s worth, that is how highly I think of these people and how they approach their faith!
I hope this post has been helpful to you and even if you do not live in this area, I hope that this message will prompt you to examine your own selection process and hopefully, to examine your end times view. Praise God and peace to you!