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Difference Between Futurism and Preterism

Futurism and Preterism are distinct ways of looking at times and events.  In particular these two perspectives look at biblical times and evidences of the bible.  Futurism looks at things to come while preterism looks at things predicted to happen but they feel these events have been prophesied and fulfilled already.  The preterist sees predicted events in Revelations and other books of the bible have actually already happened.  The preterist claims events in the bible were destined to happen in the generation  was of the early Christian church.  Futurists claims some events are still going to happen.  Both these words relate to historical events and the passage of time but the difference is one school of thought claims the predictions have passed and the other has a mindset to say there are still things to come in the future.  

The Definition of Futurism

The idea of futurism began as an artistic movement in the early twentieth Century.  Speed and technology were important aspects of futurism.  The futurists wanted to take away traditional artistic movements and focus on technology and the dynamic of cars, trains and planes.  Futurism started in Italy, the home of great artists and art museums.  The artistic futurists developed new techniques and ways to express speed and motion.  Futurists were wanting to focus on change and their ideals influenced paintings, architecture and even literature.   Portraying the world and culture in a more modern fast-paced picture than the traditional characteristics of art and culture was its aim.

Futurism is a Christian eschatological perspective of the bible.  Through futurism certain books of the Bible are interpreted as being futuristic.  Revelations, Ezekiel and the Book of Daniel fall into this category.  The futurist divides the Book of Revelation into three categories.  What has been seen in the past, what is happening now and what will be in the future.  There is a belief in an eternal state of being when all believers will be called to a second coming of Christ.  The revelation of the future.

The definition of Preterism

Preterism teaches that in terms of biblical prophecy everything has been fulfilled.  This belief includes the second coming of Christ.  According to preterists the Antichrist has been dealt with and the kingdom of God has arrived.  The person who believes in preterism believes that all biblical prophecy has been fulfilled.  However, there are descriptions in the bible of a return of Christ in bodily form and the events to support this happening.  The preterist believes this took place in the past.   Preterism comes from the Latin praeter, a prefix meaning something has past.

The preterist refers to several passages in the bible that boost the argument for the fact that everything in the bible, in terms of prophecy, has come to pass.  Matthew 24v34 is taken as Jesus saying that everything in the bible as prophecy will come to pass before the end of one generation. Matthew 24 says:

“Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”

The preterist believes Jesus is saying everything he has prophesied will happen in the first century generation.  The destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 was therefore judgement day.  There are flaws and discrepancies to be found in the preterisms beliefs and these always give rise to debate.  Some preterists are not as radical as others believing there will still be a second coming of Jesus in bodily form but that the fall of Jerusalem had all the signs of the end times in the historical perspective of the events in 70AD.

Two views linked to the Book of Revelations


Christians will still witness the end times and the second coming of Jesus.


Prophecy of the end times has come to pass.  The world will continue to evolve and the Book of Revelations has played its part in predicting and witnessing the end times through the fall of Jerusalem.

Books of the Bible that are believed to be prophecy, and therefore Futuristic or Preteristic.

There are several books in the bible that predict events to take place in the future and fulfil the beliefs of the futurists who say there are events to come and prophecy is real.  These prophecies are upheld by the preterists as having already been accomplished and that there is no further prophesy to be expected. Prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah make reference to last battles, hailstones and earthquakes and nations being gathered into war.  Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah and Malachi refer to a second advent.  They talk of signs in the sky and a remnant being saved.  Preterists believe all these signs and events have passed and the prophecies have come to pass according to the bible and history.   

Chart to compare the differences between Futurism and Preterism


Futurism and preterism are basically two opposing ideologies.  They both look at biblical times and in particular the prophesy read in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament of the bible.  Their opinions differ because one party is looking at the future and the other at the past.  The common question is about the prophesy of the end times.  Is this an event still to come or is it been and gone because Jesus predicted all the expected end times events would happen in the first century.   Therefore it is clear that the debate between the two ideologies is about the timing of events in the bible and predictions or recollections of the same events.

FAQ, Frequently asked Questions about Futurism and Preterism.

What are the characteristic styles of Futurism?

The futurists style was one of embracing modernism and moving away from traditional artistic styles.  The futurists developed new ways to depict speed and motions.  They published written works to communicate their ideals and their new innovative techniques in the world of art and literature.  Originating in Italy, futurism denied the past and used elements of cubism and impressionism to perpetuate its art forms.

What was the importance of Futurism?

The importance of futurism was its ability to break away from the old school and bring in a new school and tradition of art.  Futurists deliberately set out to provoke thought and responses from the public.  They wanted to change the world through printing and publishing their own books and enlighten people through entertainment, literature and art.

What is the Preterist View of the End Times?

The practice of full preterism leads people to believe that all gospel predictions and prophecy has already taken place.  The coming of Christ and the final judgement came in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70.  The Great Commission has been fulfilled and the old heaven and earth have passed away so the new heaven and earth have come.  The world now continues in this way forever.  The study of this belief reveals that insufficient notice is taken of the pattern in the New Testament that calls on believers to accept the pattern of events that have not yet come.  Partial preterism believers state most biblical prophecy is fulfilled but not all.  In light of the ‘Énd Times’ and the Book of Revelation, the preterists believe this book was written after 70AD.  They try to link the prophesies with historical events and the idea that Jesus said in Matthew 24 verse 34 that this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.  This put the fulfilment of prophesies to be events happening in the generation of the first century church and the apostles with the disciples.  The preterists see many of Jesus passages saying his return is soon or near and therefore the prophesies of the Book of Revelations, according to their teachings, has happened.

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References :

[0]Abrahams Daniel 17th March 2020 www.africathegospelcoalition.org 4 Ways to Read the Book of Revelation. Pub TGC The Gospel Coalition .INC.

[1]Gross Terry. 7th March 2012. www.npr.org.Book of Revelations: visions, Prophecy and Politics. Pub. Verb8tm.inc

[2]Written by Art Story Foundation. February 5th 2019. www.theartstory.org The Futurism Movement. Pub Amproject.org.

[3]Image credit: https://us.123rf.com/450wm/radiantskies/radiantskies1211/radiantskies121102679/16528718-abstract-word-cloud-for-preterism-with-related-tags-and-terms.jpg?ver=6

[4]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Retro-futurism.jpg

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