Friday, January 1, 2010

An Exegetical Interaction with Hyperpreterism #1

Soon after I left the Hyperpreterist Movement in late 2007, many hyperpreterists leaders started saying I had no “exegetical” case for rejecting hyperpreterism.  They gave all kinds of wild speculations as to why I left though I told them over & over that my reasons were both exegetical & practical (practical in that hyperpreterism in consistent practice leads to corrupt character because it unhinges a person from the continuity of Christian morality by claiming much of it is “only a 1st-century thing”  — see link).
I have purposely been focusing on the aspect that caused me to be a hyperpreterist for 15 years — which is an erroneous understanding of Sola Scriptura (Bible Alone).  Many modern Evangelicals think Sola Scriptura means, “just me & my Bible & my own interpretation”.  That is NOT what Sola Scriptura means — that concept is actually SOLO Scriptura where the person exchanges the Pope in Rome for the pope in the mirror. 

They discount 2000 years of UNITED Christian interpretation on the basics & claim they found something “new”.  It was this erroneous understanding of Sola Scriptura that allowed me to get suckered into hyperpreterism & kept me in bondage to it for so long.  Thanks be to God for all the prayers on my behalf & the work of godly men & women (such as Dee Dee here) that helped free me from that heresy.
But now, I want to enter the next phase of using “what men meant for evil & God meant for good” to help others.  As a Reformed/Calvinistic Christian, I believe & practice that all things have a purpose which ultimately glorifies God, so my time among the hyperpreterists has not been a complete waste.

What follows is a posting I’ve begun on another forum where I intend to exegetically go through the basic concepts & proof-texts of hyperpreterism.  These posts will be structured as:
  • MAIN TOPIC = main posting
  • SIDE ISSUES = issues brought up on the forum
Hyperpreterism’s hermeneutic is based on the so-called time-texts. They will often claim that though the Church has had the “nature” of Christ’s return correct, the Church has somehow missed the timing. The following link is perhaps the most comprehensive list of these time-texts. The list was put together by a hyperpreterist by the name of Dave Green. We were close associates while I was a hyperpreterist & I think he may be reconsidering hyperpreterism.
I’ve noticed that some of the translations are uniquely Green’s so you may want to consult an actual Bible.
101 TIME-TEXTS (<== click link)
The conclusion hyperpreterism wants you to draw from reading these texts is that something was ABOUT to happen. The question (& the real deal of the issue) is WHAT was it?
I’m not certain if we want to go through each one, we can go back & do that if people want but for now, let me touch on some points. I will address 3 concepts & then more in the next posting.
1. “The Kingdom at Hand” — Obviously from a dispensationalist perspective the “kingdom” has not yet arrived, but from historic Christian interpretation, the “kingdom” was “at hand” during the 1st-century AND is ALWAYS “at hand” for those not yet Christians. Historic Christianity has understood this principle of the kingdom. (see Lk 17:20-21). For example Augustine wrote of the “invisible” & visible nature of the kingdom in his work, City of God & Luther wrote of it in his concept of The Two Kingdoms. Hyperpreterism likes to contrast itself with dispensationalism as if they are the only alternatives — & if it was I think I’d be an atheist.
So, when Jesus & the apostles speak of the “kingdom at hand”, it is perfectly in line with Christian thinking to see the kingdom as coming in the 1st-century & coming to individuals even today. Most of historic Christianity HASN’T been waiting for a day when Jesus is to come & sit on a literal throne in Jerusalem. Had that been His goal, he could have easily taken the opportunity when the Jews were ready to make Him a King (see John 6:15). These texts are NOT proof-texts for hyperpreterism.
2. “About to come” — There are texts that speak of events “about to” (Greek: mello) come — such as wrath about to happen (Mt 3:7) & the age about to come (Mt 12:32) & the Son about to come to repay men per their deeds (Mt 16:27). You will often see hyperpreterists make a lot of noise over the word “mello”. But as we look at the various texts how final is “about to”? Will it end when it happens? If I’m about to whoop on someone, does that mean I’m going to do it that moment & then stop? Could it be perpetual? On top of that, we would need to find out what this wrath was that was “about to come” — Most of historic Christianity looking at Mt 24/Mk 13/Lk 21 have interpreted this wrath as the destruction that was “about to come” on Jerusalem (see various commentaries). This is NOT unique to hyperpreterism — they borrow it & then contrast themselves with dispensationalism so that when a Christian who has not had a good grasp of historic Christian interpretation sees a hyperpreterist RIGHTLY attribute the wrath to come to the destruction of Jerusalem, the Christian may be infatuated with what they think is a “hyperpreterist interpretation” — Hyperpreterism stole it from historic Christians. Wrath & judgment on the Jews & the end of the Jewish AGE was ABOUT TO COME…& it did, BUT the story doesn’t end there as hyperpreterism wants us to think it does.
3. “Some Standing Here will not die until they see the Son of Man come” — This is perhaps one the the most used proof-texts for hyperpreterism. (Mt. 16:28; cf. Mk. 9:1; Lk. 9:27). Hyperpreterists want you to conclude that Jesus was telling them He was about to RETURN & some of them would be alive to see Him return. Without further context it certainly looks like that is what Jesus is saying.
The problem is, what does it mean for Jesus to “come into His Kingdom”? We can better understand it when we look at Dan 7:13.
Dan 7:13 NKJV
I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.
Notice that Jesus ISN’T here “coming back to earth” but He is “coming with the clouds of heaven” TO the Father. For Jesus to “come into His kingdom” is like an idiom or figure of speech meaning He is going to be shown/manifested as the King He has been claiming to be. And though the apostles may become discouraged because it may at first look like the world is against them & their little group might get stamped out — Jesus was saying, “Look, I’m about to show everyone I am the King & they’re gonna know it”. First with the rapid growth of Christianity, next with the fall of the Jewish age, & then the very overtaking not only of Rome but of the world as the Gospel began to spread. Yes indeed some of them standing there would not die before they saw all of this. This is NOT a proof-text for hyperpreterism.
1. Pronouncing Preterism/Preterist (Pret like bet) Pret-er-ism/Pret-er-rist
2. Hyperpreterism & Hell — Most hyperpreterists may still think hell exists but what they talk about more is Hades. Hades, according to Bible & historic Christianity is like a Jewish purgatory (a temporary place between physical death & judgment). It is the contention that Hades was where people went PRE-AD70. After AD70, people now go heaven or hell. (see Bible links, see Sheol, see Discourse on Hades originally but erroneously attributed to Josephus). Most hyperpreterists DO think there is still a place such as hell where condemned will go, though there is a growing number of hyperpreterist annihilationists (soul destroyed) & universalists (all saved).
3. Hyperpreterism & Heaven — Early on there were two factions of hyperpreterists; “Immortal Body at Death” (IBD) & “Immortal Body Now”. (IBN) (see ref). The dominant faction has been the IBN group who will tell you that Christians have an immortal body now & that “Heaven is now” (see ref), though they are hard pressed to explain how that all works.
4. Hyperpreterism & the Resurrection — We’ll get into this in more detail in future posts, but just let me say, MOST hyperpreterists DO advocate Jesus’ physical resurrection BUT they claim the believers resurrection was”spiritual” & restricted to only the 1st-century believers. Even worse, the often claimed “founder” of hyperpreterism Max King (see ref) claims that the resurrection was merely a resurrection of the Old Covenant people into the New Covenant people — it was a status change & nothing more. So, yes — most hyperpreterists will claim there is no future resurrection for anyone. It was all 1st-century.
5. Addressing individual hyperpreterists — Sometimes an individual hyperpreterist will claim I must reference his material when making this assessment. No, I do not. This isn’t about him, it is about hyperpreterism in general. We aren’t assessing the personal beliefs of one person but rather the entire movement as a collective. I will referenence many sources as I go & I urge people to check out all the links to make sure I’m accurately representing hyperpreterism as a whole. If an individual hyperpreterist’s says, “But I don’t believe that” it doesn’t change that many or influential hyperpreterists do.

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