Friday, January 1, 2010

Dictating Discussion By Defining Definitions

Whether in politics or theology, whomever determines the definitions of terms, dictates the direction of discussion.  We see this in politics how one group is labeled; “pro-choice” whereas the other is labeled “anti-abortion”.  One engenders positive thoughts of freedom & rights whereas the other engenders negative thoughts of restriction, opposition, perhaps even hateful motivation.  The same can be seen in issues like homosexuality, where one side is considered to be asking for “tolerance”, “acceptance”, “equality” whereas the other side is portrayed as “phobic”, “bigoted”, & “discriminatory”.
This attempt to dictate the direction of discussion by determining definitions is no less at work within the Hyperpreterist Movement.  For a long time, hyperpreterists have been trying to paint a dichotomy of “Preterists vs Futurists” but the distinction is patently incorrect.  There really is no such thing as a “Futurist”, though unfortunately some otherwise orthodox speakers/writers have all but acquiesced to the hyperpreterist effort — even allowing themselves to be described as “futurist” or even “partial-preterist”.  The truth is, if “preterite” simply means “past” (ref), then ALL Christians are “preteristic” since NO Christian believes all N.T. prophecies are yet future.  Further, there was NEVER really such a school of theology called “Preterist” or “Futurist” — these are artificially & specifically defined terms to create the level playing field hyperpreterists so desperately seek.

If there is any historical “preterism” it is what is now commonly  & erroneously called “partial-preterism”.  It makes no sense to call the original of something, merely the “partial” form.  It would be like calling historic Calvinism merely “partial-Calvinism” & calling the “hyper” form merely “Calvnism”.  Rather, the form that goes beyond the scope & intent of the original should be labeled as HYPER (ref).
Hyperpreterists realize whoever determines the definitions dictates how the discussion progresses.  This is the reason hyperpreterists have been busy trying to dictate these terms.
First, we can cite the example where one hyperpreterist named Virgil Vaduva (a mover & shaker early on but waning in influence) attempted to actually trademark the word “preterism” (ref).  Vaduva was/is also very active in dictating how preterism is defined on wikipedia (online open source encyclopedia) & was so adamant that he be allowed to dictate the definition that he at one time even threatened to sue wikipedia if it didn’t allow him to do so:
you are asking for legal trouble by continuing to allow the labeling of a large group of people as “heretics” - PRETERISM is a registered U.S. trademark and you continue to allow the mark to be denigrated and allow Dee Dee Warren to create business losses for our organization. Either put a stop to this negative attack on PRETERISM, or remove the definition completely from your website. I am tired of trying to negotiate with you guys and getting nowhere with you.” (Vaduva threatening wikipedia — source)
Amazingly, many hyperpreterists to this day have not condemned this behavior & some actually defend it.
Many NON-hyperpreterists, who call themselves “Preterist” must constantly clarify that they are not THAT (hyper) kind of Preterist.  To me, the term has become all but useless.  It has been as high-jacked by the hyperpreterists as the term “gay” has become high-jacked by the homosexuals.  However, I think it may be a good thing, since by Christians distinguishing themselves as “preterists” or “futurists” they were actually undermining the continuity of the historic Christian interpretation.  You see, whether you look at pre-Roman Catholic, Roman Catholicism, Greek/Eastern Orthodox, Syrian, Protestant/Reformed, Anabaptist, or Modern Evangelical — ALL of these expressions of historic Christianity have ALL AGREED on the exact main points that hyperpreterism denies.  So, in reality, the dichotomy ISN’T “Preterists” vs “Futurists” but Christians vs Heretics — hyperpreterists being outside of ALL historic Christianity.
The idea that much of the Olivet Discourse (Mt 24/Mk 13/Lk 21) was directly fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem & the Temple is NOT new — the hyperpreterists like to make it look like it is either their interpretation or dispensationalism (Left-Behindism), but in reality, hyperpreterists are trying to high-jack historic Christianity & claim that the hyperpreterists are the “true preterists”, the true progenitors of Christianity.  This is just plain false.
Lastly, we see how desperate hyperpreterists are to dictate terminology in this recent (Aug 2009) article by hyperpreterist Ward Fenley:
“Full preterism is simply the view that all eschatological events necessary to secure complete redemption for all believers, past, present, and future have been fulfilled…Hyperpreterism is the belief that no one after AD 70 will have eternal life and that no soteriological benefit (i.e. salvific benefit) extends beyond AD 70. They (hyperpreterists) may believe that those particular events happened, but because they do not believe they apply past AD 70, they, by sheer virtue of their own confession, do not believe in the need for forgiveness of sin.” (Hyperpret redefining terms — source)
Fenley’s definitions are not only arbitrary & without historical basis, if we really look at how he defines “Full Preterism”, then EVERY Christian is a “Full Preterist”, since ALL Christians do NOT see any future event as “necessary to secure complete redemption for all believers, past, present & future”.  Most Christians will even declare that salvation was SECURED/COMPLETE at the Cross — (aprrox AD30-33) & did not need to wait until AD70 — that would make most Christians more “past-redemptionists” than even hyperpreterists who claim AD70 as their marker.
Hyperpreterists just don’t seem to get it.  Christians do not see their salvation or Christ’s victory as far off in the future.  Christ conquered in some respects ALL enemies, including Death & including Sin during His work on the Cross.  The effect & outworking of that victory will culminate but it is no less complete now than it was at the Cross.  When Jesus said, “It is Finished” in John 19:30, hyperpreterists must claim it wasn’t really finished.  When Jesus said in John 17:4 that He “finished the work” He was sent to do; hyperpreterists can’t believe this.  And it is this myopic mindset that causes hyperpreterists to claim Christians are being “inconsistent” or “contradictory” when we like Jesus claim our salvation was SECURED/COMPLETE/FINISHED at the Cross, YET there is culmination of God’s plan in the future.
Hyperpreterism is really nothing more than the flip-side of Left-Behindism — where the Left-Behinders shoe-horn texts one way, hyperpreterists shoe-horn it the other way.
It is unfortunate for the hyperpreterists that they can’t call Christ, King until AD70, whereas true Christians perceived their Lord & King, Son & Heir even BEFORE the Cross, let alone before AD70.
To conclude, as odd as it may be for me to say on a site with this name, I ask you dear Christian to NOT adopt any of these arbitrary labels such as “futurist”, “preterist”, “partial-preterist” — unlike how it has been portrayed, eschatology is perhaps the MOST SETTLED DOCTRINE within historic Christianity.  Look, whether you claim you are a Calvinist, Arminianist, paedo-baptist, credo-baptist & such; ALL of these expressions of historic Christianity have ALL AGREED on the exact things hyperpreterists deny.  Not only is the historic Christian house, NOT divided on this — it is the most UNITED in this area.  Do not allow those who seek to preach a contrary & divisive doctrine (Romans 16:17-18), beguile you or discourage you.  If you allow them to define & dictate terms, they will also define & dictate the discussion.  You see how they have behaved dishonestly even in the definitions, let alone their doctrine.

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