Eschatology refers to the study of end-times. Victorious eschatological is a believes that the kingdom of God will grow and advance until it fills the earth. The Church will rise in unity, maturity, and glory before the return of Jesus.
Most of the great leaders throughout Church history held to a victorious eschatology.However, during the twentieth century, Christians became increasingly skeptical and pessimistic about the future. During World War I, Christians in Europe began to embrace a negative view of the world. Christians in North America followed suit during the Depression and World War II. As the world was thrust face-to-face with challenges and the wickedness of war, people embraced a negative view of humanity and a pessimistic view of the future.It was during those trying periods when many Christians embraced a more pessimistic eschatology. They came to believe that the world is gradually slipping under the influence of wicked leaders and eventually Satan will take control of the economic and religious systems of the world. Preachers who embraced that pessimistic view began to teach that an anti-christ figure will soon rise to prominence and then deceive most of humanity.They also taught about a coming great tribulation during which God will pour out His wrath, judging and destroying the earth.
Most of the great leaders in Church history held to a more victorious eschatology. The pessimistic view did not enter into Christianity in any significant way until the publication of the Scofield Reference Bible (1909), which proposed in its footnotes a very negative scenario of future end-time events. Since that time, hundreds of scary end-time books have been promoted within Christianity. The most widely read are known as the Left Behind series, written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Such books and the associated teachings have become so commonly accepted inthe modern Church that the negative eschatology has become the most popular view. It is important to note,however, that this view has been popular in Christianity for only the past 60 years. It reached its zenith of acceptance just before the close of the last millennium,when Christians became fascinated with the possibility of the world ending in the year 2000.Now that we have crossed into the new millennium,Christians are lifting their eyes to the future. Many leaders are discovering that the Scriptures give us a more optimistic view than they previously had believed.They are embracing a victorious eschatology that teaches that Jesus Christ and His Church are going to reign over this world, not Satan.
The theological label that is used to refer to the victorious eschatology presented my book, Victorious Eschatology, is the partial preterist view. In contrast, today's popular view is called the futurist view.These theological labels, the partial preterist view and the futurist view, refer to when the prophecies in Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation are fulfilled.The word "preterist" comes from the Latin praeteritus,meaning "that which has past." So the partial preteristview is that which sees part of the prophecies in Matthew24 and part of the book of Revelation as already fulfilled. In contrast, the futurist sees virtually all of the prophecies in Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation fulfilled inthe future.
As pastors, we (Harold Eberle and Martin Trench)used to believe and teach the futurist view. However,even as we taught our church congregations the related ideas, we both realized that there are many scriptures that simply did not fit into the scenario of events proposed by the futurists. After several years of in-depth study, we have come to believe that the partial preteristview is more true to the Scriptures. This we will show you our book.
In addition to studying specific Bible passages, we include a few quotes from well-known preachers,teachers, and reformers that show how the fathers of the faith shared a victorious eschatology. Not every leader throughout Church history would explain every verse of the Bible the same as we will; however, the fundamental view that the Church will rise in victory and power before the return of Jesus Christ has been the predominant view of the Church for the past 2,000 years.
For more on this topic, check out Harold Eberle's book Victorious Eschatology.