Friday, January 1, 2010

Historic Christianity Versus Creeds

For awhile now I have been advocating against hyperpreterism by appealing to “historic Christianity”.  Many of the hyperpreterists assume that when I say “historic Christianity”, I really just mean the creeds.  Although it’s interesting that I hardly ever cite any specific creed.  Some hyperpreterists, have even taken to calling Christians; “hyper-creedalists”.  Again, these Christians hardly ever reference specific creeds.
So, what do we mean when we appeal to historic Christianity?  Do we really just mean the creeds?  No.    Rather, the following analogy may be helpful to clarify this issue.

In America, we are guided by many factors; one of the main being the Constitution.  In this analogy, the Constitution represents the creeds; of which we all agree both creeds & constitutions are composed by fallible men, prone to err.  The Constitution continues to be revised to consider more understanding or contemporary situations.  The question would be, can a person be an American & yet not agree with every element of the Constitution?  Indeed!  For instance, I believe the U.S. Constitution should have stipulations that enforce Article Two, Section 1, Clause 5 by irrefutable documentation proving a Presidential & Vice-Presidential candidate are natural-born citizens of the United States.  I would even go so far as to require them to be at least second-generation natural-born citizens, since there are many immigrants that have come to America & have not assimilated into the nation; thus their children are also not really assimilated into the nation. The point is, whether someone agrees 100% with the U.S. Constitution is not what makes them American.
Now, for the second part of the analogy.  Besides citizenship; a true American has adopted the principles of “historic America”.  This includes a capitalistic mindset, a liberty-loving mindset, & a self-sufficient mindset.  Without these elements of “historic America”, even if the person is a natural-born citizen, are they really an American?  We see it in politics today where liberal politicians are trying to undermine the capitalistic framework, where they are undermining liberty & engendering reliance on government instead of self.  Those principles AREN’T historically American — even if the majority of Americans adopt those liberals principles.  Even if activist judges rule in favor of such un-American principles.  Even if the Constitution itself is changed to reflect those socialistic principles.  This is what I mean when I talk about “historic Christianity”.  It ISN’T just about the creeds.
Historic Christianity is how Scripture has been interpreted over the bulk of Christianity. Historic Christianity is how Christians have believed & practiced.  Historic Christianity is NOT just creeds, but is the mindset.
When it comes to hyperpreterism, they are not just going against falliable creeds, they like the liberal in politics are going against the very essence of historic Christianity.  You will hardly ever hear me argue strictly from the creeds; though I believe the creeds for the most part are excellent guides since the creeds are the interpretative conclusions from Scripture — not just of one expression of Christianity, but a wide cross-section.
And the more I look at it, though hyperpreterists try to make it look like eschatology is the most “unsettled condition” of the Church; eschatology is actually probably the MOST UNIFIED doctrine within the Church.
Though some hyperpreterists have taken issue with my inclusion of Roman Catholicism in this list; whether we  look at pre-Roman Catholicism, Roman Catholicism, Greek/Eastern Orthodox, Syrian, Protestant/Reformed, Anabaptist, or Modern Evangelical — ALL of these expressions of historic Christianity have agreed on the exact 4 points hyperpreterism denies. (Jesus’ yet future return, physical resurrection of the believers in the future, judgment of the wicked & righteous in the future, end of sin & culmination of God’s plan for the world).  This is significant & places hyperpreterists OUTSIDE of historic Christianity before we even crack open a creedal argument.
It is further interesting that some hyperpreterists exclude Roman Catholicism as EVER being an historic expression of Christianity.  The Reformers were NOT opposing the whole Church but rather they opposed Papalism.  Even more interesting is how these same hyperpreterists didn’t take issue with me including the Anabaptists as an expression of historic Christianity, since many of the Reformers actually DID place the Anabaptist out of the faith.  I guess I am more “inclusive” than they thought.  Or at least, I don’t assume Christianity began with me & my pet-doctrines, or with my particular denomination, or only really in the 16th century.
To conclude, I just want it to be understood that when we say hyperpreterism is outside historic Christianity, we don’t just mean the creeds.  I’m sure ALL Christians vary with some creedal point somewhere, but what hyperpreterism does in departing from historic Christianity is NOT a simple creedal disagreement.  Hyperpreterism, as they admit themselves is a radical paradigm shift. Hyperpreterism is not merely a “reformation” but rather a revolt, rebellion, unheaval, deconstruction, destruction, redefinition, massive departure from ANYTHING that could be recognized as historic Christianity.  What hyperpreterism does is make Arianism (anti-Trinitarians) look like a trifle disagreement.  What hyperpreterism does is make the Dispensationalists look like a little too much swerve to the speculative & sensational.  These previous errors against the Church pale in comparison to what hyperpreterism proposes & what it would do if it actually became mainstream.  Just as much if America was suddenly dramatically altered by left-leaning, socialist politicians who were able strong-arm in historically UN-American policies.
Let us pray neither happens.  Amen?

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