Todd Dennis, who owns Preterist Archive, which is celebrated as perhaps the best Preterist website out there, has recently publsihed material from Daniel Lamont, D.D., Professor Emeritus of Practical Theology in the University of Edinburgh ; President of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship (1945-46). Good company.
Lamont wrote, Studies in the Johanine Writings, which, according to the edited version:
The following Studies in the Johannine Writings were originally prepared by the late Dr. Daniel Lamont as a series of twelve Lessons for the Bible School conducted in the pages of the weekly religious magazine The Life of Faith. They were written in the winter of 1944-45, that is, during the final session of Dr. Lamont’s occupancy of the Chair of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology in the University of Edinburgh; but owing to continuing restrictions in the supplies of paper they were not published until the autumn of 1950. Dr. Lamont had already passed away on 4th May of that year. Actually only the first ten of the Studies were published, and the last two, in which our Lord’s parousia and related themes are discussed, appear now for the first time.
The Editor of The Life of Faith, the Rev. H. F. Steverson, in the issue fo the magazine of 6th September, 1950, announced the forthcoming series of Lessons in these words: “These Lessons represent the eminent Scottish theologian’s last contribution to the study of the Scriptures. They are characterized by all his profound learning and convinced Evangelical faith ; and they are written in a style which even beginners in Bible study will be able to follow. they present a unique opportunity for study the Word of God under the direction of one of the most eminent scholars of our generation.” ..
- George R. Logan., Helensburgh, 1955
This is staggering. Edinburgh, for my Reformed readers, is company to William Cunningham and James Bannerman – Reformed stalwarts of the faith.
What I wish to bring out here, though, is what Lamont wrote concerning the parousia. I fell out of my bed when I read this and my wife was alarmed! “What’s wrong?!” “I can’t believe what I have just read! I just wrote along these same lines the other day! This guy has nailed it!” Then she went back to blow drying her hair. Well, it’s earth shattering to me! Here it is in full (bold mine):
“If we are right about the date or dates when the Apocalypse was written, it was on the eve of the Jewish catastrophe that John had his visions of those “things which must shortly come to pass.” He repeats from his nearer standpoint what his Lord had predicted from His more distant standpoint forty years earlier. He further interprets some aspects of the predictions of Jesus which could not well have been clear, even to the disciples, when these predictions were first uttered. The Parousia of Jesus was probably that which had been least understood. Parousia means Presence, though in our Authorized Version it is rendered coming. Jesus had foretold that His Parousia would take place within the lifetime of some to whom He was speaking, and it was inferred in some Christian circles that those who were alive when it occurred would not have to pass through the gates of death (John’s Gospel, 21:23). In his Apocalypse, the Apostle corrects that misunderstanding.
What did our Lord mean by His Parousia, which He foretold was to take place some forty years from the time when He spoke of it? It was not the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. That Jewish catastrophe was only to be the sign of His Parousia (Matt. 24:3,30). His Parousia, in its essence, was something which was to happen in the unseen world. It was to be in the realm of superhistory (Matt. 24:31). John in the Apocalypse connects the historical event of the destruction of Jerusalem with the superhistorical event of our Lord’s Parousia, as our Lord Himself did, and brings out the meaning of the connection, thus correcting current misunderstandings. He does not use the word Parousia, perhaps because of these misunderstandings. In 11:8 he is speaking of the last days of old Jerusalem and then goes on to say that when “the seventh angel sounded” (11:15), thus announcing the destruction of the city, there were loud shouts of triumph in heaven (11:15-19). In this significant passage, note two things: (1) there was given “reward” to departed saints (11:18); (2) when the temple of God was destroyed on earth, the temple of God was opened in heaven (11:19).
By this event in superhistory, John surely means that the saints who had died, many of them in “the great tribulation” (7:14), were now raised to the Presence (Parousia) of Christ, in fulfilment of our Lord’s promise (Matt. 24:31), the same promise that John reports in his Gospel (14:3) in non-apocalyptic form. The Parousia is thus seen to be the completion of our Lord’s redeeming work for men. He needed to pass to glory before He could “prepare a place” for His people and open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers. According to His own word, the Gospel had first to be preached to all the nations (Matt. 24:14), “the end” in that verse meaning “the consummation.” It should be noted in passing that wherever our Authorized Version speaks of “the end of the world” we should read “the consummation of the age.” That consummation was not only the termination of Israel’s spiritual leadership of the world (Matt. 21:43) but also the inauguration of the new age in which the sting of death is removed for the people of God and they pass at once when they die into the nearer Presence (Parousia) of their Lord.
This is a difficult subject as is shown by the immense variety of views which have been held on it. Among scholars the prevailing view is that either our Lord or His Apostles were mistaken in this prediction of “the consummation of the age” before the close of the generation to which Christ came. this view I cannot for a moment accept. Some persist in saying that Jesus predicted “the end of the world” within His own generation. There is absolutely no foundation for this. Others persist in saying that Jesus foretold His return to earth in bodily presence within that generation. This is to misconstrue our Lord’s use of apocalyptic forms. It is turning poetry into prose. But worse still, it reckons either our Lord, or His Apostles in reporting Him, as having made a serious mistake in predicting something which never happened. The view which appeals to me has been accepted by some sound scholars and has the advantage of preserving the unity of the New Testament and the reliability of the testimony of the Apostles. Some ask: “Can you really believe that the departed saints of God were raised up about the year 70 A.D and that since then all His saints at death pass immediately into the Presence of Christ?” I ask in return : “Is it more difficult to believe that Christ came to take His own folk, who had fallen asleep in Him, home to Himself about the year 70 than to believe that He will do the same thing at some time in the indefinite future?”
“The dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16) said Paul, writing before, but in expectation of, our Lord’s Parousia. Here in these verses (1 Thess. 4:13-18) he uses apocalyptic language, but there is good reason to believe that he means exactly the same as John in his Gospel (14:1-3). Christ will come for His own people as they pass one by one from the earthly scene, but this He cannot do till the age of His Parousia begins. the fulness of His Presence will be available for His people from that time onwards.”
The import on I Thess is right on the money with what I have been developing. Patrick Stone appeared (as well as Dr. Birks) to confirm this more broad reading of I Thess 4. This is not a single, once and for all, one time event: it is an ongoing reality to the Presence of God – IN the Parousia- the dead would be recieved. This view does not negate the final outworking of being in the Presence (that is, having glorification at the end of history, which Lamont believed). It confirms it.
Lamont does not see all of the developments that I have been working on in terms of the final judgment and such, but with this idea here, one can begin to develop similar ideas of “ongoing” judgment, resurrection, restoration and such as comprehensive terms (umbrella terms). This view respects the time texts, and at the same time, respects the promises of God’s ultimate and final manifestation of the restoration of all things which “began” in AD 70 and will end in God’s ultimate display of that which Jesus has already obtained: rule over all things. The faulty Full Preterist contention of endless, infinite evil and decay, infinite sin and corruption, and an infinite amount of God’s people must be jettisoned is the good work of many Full Preterists is to survive. It is my prayer that many will see these issues and abandon hyper-preterism that has “all things” exhaustively and absolutely “FULLfilled” in AD 70 in a one time, never to be repeated, once and for all time event. The Prophets did not stop with the righteous coming of the LORD. They spoke beyond it as well and it is high time self-sanctifying Full Preterists of this ilk get off their high horse and realize that the Church may indeed have something to say on this matter, even though they may have gotten some of the details out of order or wrong. We do not have to go back to the draw board and redefine the most fundamental doctrines of Christianity in order to save a wrongheaded eschatology. We can combine them. We can unite them. We can work towards a day when all insights worthy of believing can be united into a grand systematic faith. When this happens, the world will crumble before us.