Friday, January 1, 2010

Navigating the Factions of Hyperpreterism

When someone first encounters hyperpreterism, one of the first things they experience is that the “movement” is highly factionalized.  There seems to be no unified expression of hyperpreterism, yet four things that identify a person as a hyperpreterist are:
  1. Belief that Jesus came back once and for all in the first-century
  2. Belief that the resurrection of the believers happened in the first-century
  3. Belief that the judgment of the wicked and righteous happened in the first-century
  4. Belief that there will be no culmination/conclusion of the physical planet
Now, a person need not believe all of these points to be considered a hyperpreterist, though the more of the points they believe the more “consistent” they will be. Over-arching these beliefs, ALL hyperpreterists, whether they admit it or not MUST believe God/Jesus/the apostles/the Holy Spirit were unable or unwilling to maintain among the Church even a most basic correct understanding of God’s eschatological plan. 

Since right after the year AD70 and for 2000 years, Christianity has been UNITED in affirming AGAINST the four main beliefs of hyperpreterism, the only “logical” conclusion a hyperpreterist can come to is that the Church has been in gross error for over 2000 years.
Hyperpreterists are often seen showing contempt or disdain for “traditional” Christianity.  They often will attempt to utilize theologians like Martin Luther & other Reformers and claim they too are challenging the status quo.  But the reality is, hyperpreterists are more like the “radical reformers” who wanted to chuck it all and start over with a “new kind of Christianity”, much as the current Emergent/Postmodern movement advocates today.
In 2009, the hyperpreterist movement could be divided into four main factions:
1. Transmills — Max King/Tim King/Kevin Beck. This group has distanced itself from the wider hyperpreterist movement.  The Transmills advocate a vague universalism & Emergent-like social “gospel”.
2. Covenantal Creationists — Tim Martin/Jeff Vaughn/Tami Jelinek/Ward Fenely/John Scargy. This group’s main focal point is using a hyper form of “Old Earth Creationism” to smuggle in hyperpreterism.  They believe most of the Creation/Flood account is “covenantal” or metaphorical in nature.  Some even claim that the animals spoken of in the Flood account were representative of people.
3. Cosmological Creationists/Calvinists — Sam Frost/Kelly Birks/Jason Bradfield/David Green/Mike Sullivan. This group claims to be “Reformed/Calvinist” but often uses the term “Sovereign Grace”.  While their original focus was on a “Calvinistic hyperpreterism” which sprang from the concepts of David Chilton & has been utilizing works of “partial-preterists” such as Gentry, Sproul, & DeMar to piggy back people into hyperpreterism, this group has moved away from “Reformed” positions.  This group has a large “Clarkian” element that claims to embrace “Sola Scriptura” but is actually private interpretation alone.  They often clash with the “Covenantal Creationists” faction.
4. Universalists & Loners — “Davo” David Emry/John Noe/Ed Stevens/Jerry Bowers jr./nameless others. This group was originally forming as a strong faction within hyperpreterism under the banner of universalism.  It petered out sometime in 2006-2007.  Many within this faction drift in & out of the Transmill faction.  The “loners” are hyperpreterists that don’t really fit into any of the current factions.  The loners are not necessarily universalists, but do advocate very erradic doctrines, even more so than the main factions. While Ed Stevens may be closer aligned with the “Cosmological Creationists/Calvinists”, his 1st-century rapture view has relegated him to the fringe.  John Noe, whose works used to be a mainstay with the movement has since gone off on some vague form of personal “idealism” wherein he claims “many comings” of Jesus.
For a long time, hyperpreterist Virgil Vaduva, son-in-law to Terry Hall was the main conduit these factions would use to launch their “careers” within the movement.  Since about 2003, the influence and necessity of Vaduva has been waning.
Navigating the numerous factions within hyperpreterism can be difficult and almost arbitrary but if you keep in mind that the hyperpreterist movement is mainly comprised of individuals that have been disenfranchised from various denominations and have pooled together around rabid private interpretation, you’ll have a better understanding of what motivates the typical hyperpreterist.

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