There’s a lot of ground I didn’t try to cover in this study.
For instance, I didn’t try to go into the heresy of Hymenaeus and Philetus, who said that the resurrection had already come. It would seem that these two had the same conception of a much more spiritual interpretation of parousia that some Thessalonian Christians had. (I think it’s intellectually dishonest to accuse preterists of this heresy and of hypocrisy, when it’s pretty obvious that these two “godless chatterers” lived before the time that preterists think Jesus was revealed, at the destruction of the temple in AD 70.)
I didn’t try to give definitive answers to troubling questions. True to my nature, I just raised more of them. But as don pointed out in a comment a few posts back, it’s the questions that help us think and pray and propose our own interpretations – rather than just gobbling up the latest theory in paperback and, having no time to research others, accept it at face value as the truth.
I didn’t mean to slight tumultuous events in the world today (like the London transit bombings) which make folks wonder if we’re living in the last days.
And I didn’t point out why I thought it was important to spend all these pixels on this study.
What we believe about Jesus’ parousia affects every other aspect of our belief: our theodicy, our views of servanthood, fellowship, grace, love and faith itself. Most importantly, it affects the way we respond to God’s love toward us. It even affects our personalities.
I occasionally used to read the content of a preterist-view Web site operated by a brother in my fellowship. Though I disagreed (and still do) with many of the conclusions there, I was always impressed by the scholarship; the passion for truth, for scripture, for others and their beliefs on the matter. Lately, though, the personality of the site’s caretaker seems to have changed, and it saddens me. Recent posts there exult in the cowardice of disagreeing brethren in refusing to publicly debate him. The site has become more about him than about eschatology and the parousia of Jesus.
It’s not a subject about which we should be choosing up sides and smelling armpits. What we know about it is what God has revealed through His Spirit in His Word. Whether my interpretation, or this brother’s, or that sister’s, is correct really doesn’t matter one atom; it will be fully revealed in God’s time.
We need to preach what we know. Christ promised to return for us. We need to watch, anticipate, be alert, be ready, look forward to it, pray for it, and bless again as Christians once did with the phrase maranatha:
Lord, come quickly!