In my last post on hyper-Preterism, I pondered whether hyper-Preterism is a false Gospel. This post is simply meant to be an interlude as to where I presently stand.
As I may have said before, I have had very little contact with hyper-Preterism. I don’t even know anyone personally who believes such. In a lot of ways, the arguments remind me of flat-earth arguments. As Simon Cowell would say, “Sorry.” From a theological standpoint they seem to be very unsophisticated and short-sighted, without a broad knowledge of theological inquiry. It would seem that they take a few problem issues and suppose “simple” solutions that create many more serious problems that seem to escape their notice. Because of its viability, biblically and historically, I did not even include it in the course on eschatology in The Theology Program. (Plus, I ran out of room.)
I understand that some of people who have responded to my last post are hyper-Preterists and I do appreciate their contribution here as well as the tone they have brought. Please forgive me if I seem to be talking down to you who are hyper-Preterists, I don’t mean to (I am sure you get it a lot). But try as I may to understand and find some degree of legitimacy in your theology, I can’t.
I am still not ready to say that it is damnable, but it seems to me to be an extremely serious departure from some essential elements in the Gospel. No matter how one defines orthodoxy, I cannot find a place for the eschatology of the hyper-Preterist. It is about as far as one can deviate from the beaten path.
You must understand where I come from. I make my living at trying to see the other side of theological issues. People who know me know this. So please don’t see me as simply brushing this option off because I feel uncomfortable with it or am so steeped in my tradition that I am unable to consider it. I by no means claim that I can be completely objective, but I do a pretty good job of training my bias to be my slave. It is one thing that I am really good at.
I will continue to examine this in the future, but have yet to find anyone who is balanced and a hyper-Preterist. When too much passion is thrown in the direction of pushing someÂ eschatological issue—whether dispensational, preterist, or otherwise—red flags go up all over. Perspective must be maintained. If someone were to say, “This is what I believe (i.e. hyper-Preterism), but I very well might be wrong and I am not sure about this issue, it is just where I lean,” then I could take them more seriously. I would see that they recognize the enormous problems created by this system and in this recognition display intellectual honesty. I have yet to find this in the hyper-Preterist camp. What I have seenÂ are booths at ETS giving away hyper-Preterist material saying everyone has wrong eschatology but them. I have seen books and websites that seem to think they have solved all the problems in biblical eschatology with a very simplistic answer. I have seen those who arrogantly and confidentlyÂ dismiss the body of Christ’s consensual agreement about the future coming of Christ. They do this without fear saying, “We have it all figured out…it is so simple, there is no future resurrection!”
Buggers. How did we all get it so wrong?
To claim, as some often do,the legacy of the Reformers would be a serious misunderstanding of doctrinal development and the issues of the Reformation. The hyper-Preterist option to reform eschatology is not in any way parallel to what the Reformers brought to the table with regards to the doctrines of justification or authority. The Reformers did not produce an antithetical option of a historicallyÂ established doctrine in either case. They had a great fear of introducing something new or outside of established orthodoxy. What they said was that the instrumental cause of justification, faith, was being blurred by works. They sought to reform this doctrine. As well, they believed that the authority of Scripture was being usurped by the institutional church. They sought to reform this as well. In both cases, their reform, agree with it or not, was not antithetical to any historically establishedÂ truths. It was a correction, not a new creation.
Hyper-Preterism, on the other hand, is different. Not only does it create more seriousÂ biblical problems than it solves, but it produces a completely new eschatology that somehow has escaped the notice of the Church for 2000 years. It is not viable with any view history and the providential care of God over his Church. With this view of history, the Gospel that is producedÂ must draw from the restorationist philosophy of the Jehovah’s Witness’ or Mormons. It says that the Church—Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic, indeed, everyone—have the Gospel wrong with regard to our future hope. The redemption of all things, the coming of Christ, judgment, resurrection, and the new heavens and earth is a past or present reality. We have a new Gospel for you. It is based in Scripture.
Sure it is. I challenge you to find one heresy that does not make such a claim.
In the end, I am still wrestling with to what degree this affects the Gospel. Either way, I do believe that hyper-Preterism corrupts the Gospel seriously, I just don’t know whether it produces a different Gospel to the degree of other “Christian” cults.
God help us to deal with such issues wisely.
P.S. Different issue: Do you think this type of posts will get the anti-Emergents off my back? . . . nah . . . I will get under their skin again later.