The Non-Preterist Historicalism of John Calvin and the Westminster Standards

Futurism teaches that most Biblical predictions will only start being fulfilled in the yet-future (such as after a questionable future "rapture" of the Church before or during a questionable future "great tribulation"). Both Historicalism and Preterism firmly and rightly oppose Futurism. However, they also oppose one another.

Preterism teaches that most Biblical predictions were finally fulfilled within the same generation in which they were given. In its extreme form, this would mean that the promised "seed" in the Protevangelium of Genesis 3:15 refers neither to Christ nor to Christians but solely to Abel (and to other 'good' descendants of Eve within her lifetime). In its extreme form, it would also mean that the final coming of Christ referred to in Matthew chapter 24 and Second Thessalonians chapter 1 already occurred during the apostolic age.

Historicalism teaches that most Biblical predictions would be fulfilled only some considerable time after they were given — fulfilled either once or repeatedly during the whole course of world history. Thus Historicalists regard the promised "seed" in the Protevangelium of Genesis 3:15 as referring not principally to that generation's Abel and Seth etc., but principally to Christ and His Christians (only to be born many centuries later).

Historicalists would agree with Preterists that there is indeed a very important sense in which Christ did come (invisibly) to Jerusalem, in punitive judgment, during A.D. 70. Yet historicists regard the various mentions of His coming inscripturated in Matthew chapter 24 and elsewhere, to refer to events throughout world history which all point principally toward His still-future visible coming on the clouds of heaven in power and great glory at the final judgment. Second Thessalonians chapter 1.

I much respect many elements in Preterism.   Yet I believe the consistent teaching in eschatology of the infallible Word of God — is Classic Historicalism.   Certainly that is the position of the mainline Christian Church reflected in: the Patristic Fathers; the Mediaeval Scholastics; all of the many Protestant Reformers; the 1561 Belgic Confession (arts. 28 & 29); the Preamble to the 1619 Canons of Dordt; the 1645 Westminster Directory for the Publick Worship of God (in the middle of its Public Prayer before the Sermon); and the unadulterated Westminster Confession of Faith 23:4o & 25:6o B to all of which documents I myself am a Strict Subscriptionist.   

Genesis and Calvin on the historicalism of the very first predictions

When God created the first human beings — He appointed them to have dominion, and blessed them. Genesis 1:26-28. This was not a preteristic suggestion merely to Adam and Eve alone that they dominate solely the garden of Eden. This was a historicistic mandate to the entire human race in every age, to subjugate the entire globe.

As Calvin comments,1 God here "appointed man…lord of the world…. This authority was not given to Adam only, but to all his posterity as well as to him…. Adam with his wife was formed for the production of offspring, in order that men might fill the earth…. The earth everywhere lies open, that it may have its inhabitants — and that an immense multitude of men may find, in some part of the globe, their home."

After the end of the sixth day, God rested and blessed His seventh day. For "on it He had rested from all His work which God created, in order to make it" — la'a:soth B through mankind! Genesis 2:3. God's sabbathing in mankind, is thus co-extensive with the whole of world history — from the past appearance of the first Adam, to the future reappearance of the Second Adam.

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