The Preterist movement as a whole is not very big, and the number of Full Preterists are fewer than our Partial Preterist counterparts. Nevertheless, this has not stopped Full Preterists from taking the initiative to spread our message around the globe, and now, for the first time, a Filipino Full Preterist author, Tim Liwanag, has added what may arguably be one of the most beneficial tools the Preterist movement has had in decades: Fulfilled Eschatology.
The book begins by asking the questions we have all pondered: When is the end of the world? Can we know when Jesus Christ will return? Which prophecies still need to be fulfilled before said return? We have all no doubt asked ourselves such questions. For most of us, we begin our spiritual journey as Futurists, believing in the future destruction and re-creation of our planet at the coming of the Lord, in which we'll spend a thousand years of bliss on Earth, before returning to Heaven with the Lord. And it truly sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Despite the hopefulness this may provide, have you ever challenged these ideas and tested them with the scriptures?
You might think, “Of course such beliefs are scriptural! They have been taught in the church for years!” And sure, they have been taught for years. This, of course, does not make something true, and as Tim Liwanag addresses, such beliefs are nothing close to scriptural, providing hundreds of scripture citations to prove his points. His exegetical work demolishes Futurist presuppositions, providing assurance of a fulfilled life through our savior, Lord Jesus Christ, and his atoning work on the cross and fulfillment of promises.
One of the strongest statements the author makes is at the beginning of chapter one:
“Christian Futurists are discarding biblical prophecy in favor of a 'doom and gloom' stance. Others are willing to disregard the 'analogy of faith' [Scripture interprets Scripture] method in order to not frustrate the 'Second Coming' expectation among all professing Christians. In other words, vain imaginations or sheer speculations have overrun biblical prophecies that were already fulfilled. True exegesis seems to be waning even among the most conservative church members” (p.13)
In the Church, Christians concern themselves with orthodoxy and church membership, rather than an accurate understanding of scripture. The appeal to church fathers and creeds, rather than the words of the prophets, apostles, and Christ himself, is overwhelming. Such time indicators, as “soon,” “at hand,” and “near,” are discarded in favor of eisegesis and lies, all to maintain church membership, credibility, and to avoid the dreaded heretic label.
Fulfilled Eschatology does not shy away from the truth in spite of this. The author does a profound job teaching the reader about the use of prophetic language, how to interpret it, and how to apply it. His emphasis on proper hermeneutics in chapter one provides a strong, sound foundation for readers, so that they can further equip themselves for not only what is to come in the the book, but their own biblical studies, as well.
The emphasis on Christ in the second chapter helps direct the reader to the understanding that all scripture is Christ-centered. The Bible is not merely a compilation of historical facts, parables, and prophecies; everything is tied together as part of a single plan—a revelation, if you will—and Christ is at the center of it all. From the promise of salvation in the garden to his parousia at the end of the age, without Christ as the focal point of all prophecy, one cannot properly interpret said prophecies. And, as the author points out, we must acknowledge Israel's role in it all, for “[w]e are not the original audience of the prophets who spoke in God's name and by his authority (Exodus 7:1). We are not born of Jewish blood, the ethnic and physical Israel, or physical descendants of Abraham; therefore, we have to make sure that we understand the written Word and not misinterpret the promises and prophecies that were originally addressed to God's chosen people in the Old Covenant period (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)” (p.21).
The importance of audience relevance is discarded by many Futurists. It is generally ignored by pastors, scholars, and casual believers alike, trading solid hermeneutics for personal application. But in doing so, one cannot interpret prophecy correctly, as every prophecy had an intended audience, whether near or far from the time the prophecy was given, and to reject this fact in favor of personal application leads to misinterpretation, even private interpretation (cf. 2 Peter 1:20-21). This, however, is not to say there is no scripture applicable to us today, rather that we must bear in mind the original intended audience and interpret scripture in light of that audience. Chapter two does a fine job of providing the proper means of understanding these things.
Chapter three is an especially powerful chapter. Picking up from the chapter two's message of Christ-centered interpretation, Liwanag provides important emphasis on “purpose-fulfillment, which he defines as “the fulfillment of God's redemptive purpose” (p.25). The way the author explains this on pages 25 and 26 is done very cleverly in his explanation of Israel's Babylonian captivity and the eventual release by Cyrus.
But, as Liwanag further notes, God's redemptive purposes were not fulfilled solely through what we read of historical Israel, but also through the promise of the Lord's coming, reign, and kingdom (p.26). The call for repentance was to all nations (cf. Matthew 28:19-20), and God would provide a solution to a problem that had begun thousands of years prior in the garden of Eden. We find the fulfillment of this solution through the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and the full establishment of his kingdom and covenant with all who come to him, near and far.
Chapters three and four provide much more for the reader to take in, and I encourage every reader to spend much time in these chapters, as the details the author provides are critical for every believer to understand. Part 1 of Fulfilled Eschatology concludes with the fourth chapter.
In part two of the book, I find my first point of major disagreement in the author's understanding of the terms of the new covenant, as explained in part two's introduction. Fortunately, this does not do much harm to the overall points being made, though I find the section on immersion one of the weakest points in the book as a whole. Though, for those who agree with his understanding of the terms of the new covenant this will be no problem at all. The reader simply makes up their own mind as to whether the author is correct, and should not feel discouraged to continue should they not agree with this point.
Where chapter one lacks, chapters two and three shine. I found the section titled, “The Indwelling God in the Days of Christ's Glory” (p.63), especially enlightening, as the topic of the Holy Spirit's indwelling is a subject of dispute among Futurists and Preterists alike. The topic of Spirit baptism was also handled very well, though I believe it lends further confusion as to the author's understanding of new covenant terms. Nevertheless, I do not find disagreement here, only with the implications it carries in contrast to chapter one.
Furthermore, chapter four's discussion of the remnant and the chosen generation is a huge hammer to popular Futurist views regarding God's chosen, and chapter five's discussion of the new creature is especially powerful. Both chapters provide the kind of foundational knowledge necessary for proper understanding regarding the fulfillment of God's promises in the establishment of the new creation, from timing of fulfillment to the specifics of the resurrection. Very powerful chapters, indeed.
While parts one and two are used to create a stable biblical foundation (and successfully do so), part three, “Fulfilled Prophecies,” gets into the meat of the book. Initially, I had reviewed this section in detail, but given its nature (interpretation of prophetic texts) I have shortened my remarks, as it requires too much space to provide commentary on every major point.
Chapters one and two effectively engage Futurist views regarding the signs of the times and the timing of the last days. Futurism and Preterism are such separate views because of these issues. While Futurism seeks the signs of the times per what I call newspaper exegesis (using current events to interpret prophecy), Preterists know to let scripture interpret itself. And thus, as the author makes us aware, when Jesus was giving his listeners the signs of the impending end of the age (their age, not ours), we must understand that the end of the age was coming to a close soon, not two thousand years later.
Chapter three provides one of the most sound arguments for the identification of the two witnesses I have read in years. Whether one agrees with the author's conclusions is simply up to the reader, though I encourage those who disagree to challenge every point of the author's exegesis before discarding it. Chapter four's discussion of the harlot city, Jerusalem, is equally powerful, though I expected this chapter to be much longer. Identifying Mystery Babylon is key to interpreting the book of Revelation, and it felt as though proper emphasis was not given to this subject. Nevertheless, the author manages to nail very huge points in his limited space, points which cannot be refuted by any school of eschatological thought.
And just as chapter four deals a huge blow to the Futurist interpretations of Mystery Babylon, chapters five and six give the reader another paradigm shift, this time addressing the topic of the antichrist and the man of sin. Those familiar with the Left Behind-esque interpretations of modern Dispensationalism should be no stranger to the misconception of a single world ruler in the future—Satan incarnate. Liwanag does away with this belief quickly and efficiently, leaving little room for doubt as the author points fingers at the Herods. And if that wasn't a shock to Futurist interpretations, identifying the restrainer as the Caesars may seem even more mind-blowing. But with every interpretation the author gives, he provides the scriptural and historical sources to support them.
Chapters seven through eleven deal heavily with the book of Revelation's imagery of beasts and dragons. Among Futurist camps, the interpretations are removed from the time of the Roman empire (cf. Daniel 2 and 7), despite such interpretations actually identifying the fourth beast as the Roman empire (i.e., while identifying this beast appropriately as the Roman empire, they unfaithfully insert gaps and re-write history to appease their interpretation of a future Roman kingdom via the one world government). Liwanag puts a stop to this, observing the line of Caesars and Herods as a whole and identifies their roles during the last days leading up to the tribulation (addressed in chapter eleven).
The rest of part three covers virtually every remaining major point of the book of Revelation, and then some!. At this point, the author has put the nail in the coffin, so to speak, regarding the timing of Revelation's fulfillment and the completion of the last days. When the reader completes the book, there is no doubt about the first century fulfillment of the last days.
It is important to understand that we live in the new heaven and the new earth, as citizens of the new Jerusalem—the bride, the Church! The Church has been wedded to Christ, the old covenant is obsolete, and Christ thrives in all who come into his covenant with him; the covenant Jesus Christ shed his blood for so that we may live!
Become the new creature today! Bask in the Lord's glory and the fulfillment of his promises!
P.S. Please send a message to Tim Liwanag via his Facebook page for your chance to receive a FREE electronic copy of this incredible book! (https://www.facebook.com/tim.liwanag?fref=ts)