Bible Editorial seeking to add insight on related spiritual topics
The opinions expressed here are only opinions. Authors will endeavor to base their conclusions on Scripture while subject to “reproof or correction” or a hearty “Amen” through public comment. Contributing authors are welcome to publish by getting in touch.
Preterist Preacher Holger Neubauer and the AD70 Doctrine
Published On: August 9th, 2023|1285 words|6 min read|By D Brackett|Views: 262|
Preacher Holger Neubauer is one of several out-spoken proponents within the “Churches of Christ” who actively and aggressively argue that the second coming of Jesus happened in AD70. He publishes public videos via Facebook where he promotes his books, has several videos on YouTube, and has done at least one public debate in 2020.
This site documents at least a couple of Holger Neubauer’s specific false claims and refutes dozens of AD70 teachings with Scripture. To date, none have been rebuffed by Holger Neubauer or any like-minded “preachers”. However, the playbook they use in order to foster their error is repeated again and again.
The Preterist’s Playbook
There is a repeated strategy that Holger Neubauer and his cohorts consistently use to create and defend their misrepresentations of God’s word. We don’t claim this “Preterist’s Playbook” is a coordinated work. In other words, we don’t think they sat in a room and all agreed to follow this playbook. However, it emerges as a pattern that’s repeated in point after point that Holger Neubauer and others make.
Step 1: Elevate One Passage or Concept
You don’t have to listen to a Preterist’s sermon long before you hear the single, central concept upon which they interpret everything else in Scripture. To say that the idea that the second coming of Jesus happened in AD70 is central to Preterist doctrine is an understatement. In fact, we’d venture to say that at least 90% of sermons preached by Holger Neubauer and the like are preached in order to make that point.
However, the practice of scripture weighting doesn’t end there. There are numerous straw-man arguments supporting the central “Jesus returned in AD70” claim. That conclusion is formed by requiring any statement regarding time (e.g. “soon”, “quickly”, “at hand”) coupled with Jesus’ return must be taken literally even though they are relative measures. Furthermore, such words must be defined in man’s temporal measuring of time.
Never mind that God exists in eternity where there is no “time” at all. How else could the Father communicate urgency to mankind but in relative, short measures we could understand?
Never mind that “concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36) None of God’s messengers could quantify a temporal timing of the second coming/final judgment…because they didn’t know!
Never mind that when someone (for example, Habakkuk) questions God on His coming, His response is “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” (for more on this see “What is God’s time in relation to man’s?”).
It’s interesting how much their practice of scripture weighting shares with other “one-verse doctrines”. Premillennialists have their Rev 20:7, “Grace only” has their Eph 2:8, and the “Sinner’s Prayer” folks have their Rom 10:13. All of these first define the single passage and then define the rest of scripture through the lens of that first passage/definition. Now we can add the Preterists to that list.
Step 2: Assume Interpretive Rules
The Preterist is quick to proclaim that they are “only speaking where the Bible speaks”. Of course, this is common with any false teacher. They know that any seeker will tune them out if that disclaimer isn’t present.
But just as quickly as they boast about their “strict” adherence to Scripture, they will introduce interpretive rules that must be adhered to by any “good Bible student.” Here are just a few that we’ve noted:
The necessity to date certain people or events (e.g. when the book of Revelation was written or how long the apostle John lived),
The insistence of what a prophet meant or that another is quoting said prophet even though the inspired writer makes no such claim. Examples:
The dependence on knowing for fact what Jewish culture was like or how a first-century Jew would have understood some particular passage.
The emphasis we placed on each of those words is intentional. The Preterist must have these (and other) rules in place for their interpretations of what’s been elevated in Step One to make any sense at all. The damning problem is that all of these “go beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6) in some way or another.
Are we to believe that what God wrote to us could only be understood with unverifiable, extra-biblical information? No! In fact, the Bible claims just the opposite. We don’t need to know when the book of Revelation was written to interpret it or any other part of God’s word.
Holger Neubauer and the Preterist’s extra-biblical rules of interpretation require answers to questions that are literally impossible to answer with Scripture alone. God saw fit to reveal to us what was necessary for salvation. Instead of staying within the authoritative confines of the Divine’s Word, the Preterist wants to be their own authority and cast aside Paul’s entire point that “we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:13)
From one passage they either assume something’s literal, something’s absolute, or INSIST it was what a prophet meant (when the inspired writer makes no such claim). They are their own “inspired writers”, the gnostics (secret knowledge) of our day.
Step 3: Ignore and Deflect (and cry “Debate!”)
When confronted or challenged on their suppositions the result is always the same. They won’t engage in any substantive discussion. They won’t answer a question. They won’t acknowledge the often dozens of other passages contradicting their position (see “Was the end of all things ‘at hand’?“).
They will only ignore, deflect, and possibly ridicule. In this way God’s question still rings true, “Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?” (Ezekiel 34:18-19)
The preterist preacher makes an absolute mess of scripture, just like the priests in Ezekiel’s day did. Their positions don’t stand the scrutiny of the full weight and analysis of scripture. They ignore the fact that “the sum of [God’s] word is truth.” (Psalms 119:160)
There is a reason that the only forum or format they will provide any defense of their position is in a public debate. It’s uncanny, but Holger Neubauer and other Preterist preacher(s) are constantly pushing for this. Why is that? Well, we have a few suppositions on that as well:
This supposed “structured format” is the perfect format for them to execute this 3-point plan. They don’t have to remain on a single point and are free during “their time” to not answer specific questions and challenges. Ironically, the debate rules actually give them permission to execute ‘Step 3: Ignore and Deflect’.
They love the attention. They seem to thrive on the publicity of it and take care in having an opponent and venue that will garner enough visibility for their ego…which leads to the final reason…
They are targeting other churches of Christ. They seem desperate to justify their position by pulling vulnerable Christians or entire congregations into their ranks.
I have lived most of my life as a Christian but admittedly not a serious Bible student until mid-life. I don't hold any theological degrees nor is my profession related to the church or ministry. However, Scripture tells me that God has given us His Word for any layman like myself to understand.
Authors are free to express their conclusions about Bible topics and others are free to offer their thoughts through public comment. In keeping with the mission of this site, all commentary is expected to be based on and backed up by Scripture that is – to the best of the person’s ability – used as Scripture itself would interpret it.
lendyour own studyto the discussion
PUBLIC COMMENT POLICY While your email is required, it will not be posted publically. All comments are vetted for potential spam before being published, but will not be restricted otherwise.
Connect with us if you would like to discuss any of the content on this site or would like to contribute. Periodically, we also host a virtual Bible answer discussion aimed at refining and improving questions already published.