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Preterism, or Covenant Eschatology is a variant of Christian eschatology that holds that all the prophecies in the Bible about 'the Last Days' were fufilled in the first century (see Luke 21:20). The name is derived from the term preterite, or past perfect tense. Adherents of this view are known as Preterists.

Preterists believe that prophecies such as the Second Coming, the defiling of the Temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, the advent of The Day of the Lord, the Resurrection of the dead (though they do not believe in bodily resurrection) and the Final Judgment were fulfilled at or about the year 70 AD when the Roman general (and future Emperor) Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple, putting a permanent stop to the daily animal sacrifices. Preterists also believe the term 'Last Days' refers not to the last days of planet Earth, or last days of mankind, but to the last days of the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant which God had exclusively with Israel until year 70 AD.

Like most theological disputes the divide between Preterism and its opposite, Futurism, is over how certain passages of scripture should be interpreted. Futurists assert that Preterists have spiritualized prophecies they see as describing literal, visible events. Whereas Preterists believe that Futurists do not take certain passages such as Mathew 16:23 literally enough and don't give sufficient weight to scriptures that seem to show that the first century Church believed the Second Coming would occur in their lifetime. Many 'time passages' in the New Testament indicate with apparent certainty that the Second Coming of Christ was to take place within the lifetimes of Christ's disciples: Matt. 10:23, Matt. 16:28, Matt. 24:34, Matt. 26:64, Rom. 13:11-12, 1 Cor. 7:29-31, 1 Cor. 10:11, Phil. 4:5, James 5:8-9, 1 Pet. 4:7, 1 Jn. 2:18.

Those that believe that most 'end times' prophecies have already been fulfilled but that the Second Coming, the bodily Resurrection of the dead and the Final Judgment are yet future call themselves Partial Preterists.

Full Preterism is sometimes referred to as Hyper-Preterism or Hymenaeanism to distinguish it from the more widely held Partial Preterism whis is sometimes referred to as Hypo-Preterism. Many Preterists believe the label Partial Preterist is misapplied, pointing out that all schools of eschatological thought hold that at least some prophetic events have already occurred and that 'Partial Preterism' is more accurately classified as a form of Futurism.

See also: prophetic futurism prophetic historicism

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