Friday, January 1, 2010

Preterism and Emergent Eschatology

Andrew Perriman of was recently interviewed by a hyperpreterist about Andrew’s views on eschatology (”endtimes”).  During the interview it became apparent that the interviewer was constantly trying to associate Andrew’s views with his own.  By the end of the interview, Andrew appeared to be a little annoyed with the interviewer’s constant appeal to his own sectarian views.
The interviewer holds a belief which is commonly called, “Hyper-Preterism” — it is called hyper not as a derogatory term but as a technical & grammatically accurate term since “hyper” is often used in theology & sciences to indicate a position that goes beyond the intent & scope of the original — such as “Hyper-Calvinism” or “Hyper-Inflation”.
Thus, we should begin our inquiry with what Preterism is in its original form.  First off, Preterism as a term is of fairly recent usage, but as a concept it is as old as Christian interpretation (source) since most of Christianity has held to the historic & original form.

The historic form of preterism perhaps is best summarized by saying it is a view that advocates that most of the Olivet Discourse (Mt 24/Mk 13/Lk 21) was fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem & the Herodian Temple in the year AD70. Since the early 1980s, more & more Reformed/Calvinistic Christians were utilizing the label of “preterists”. (Kenneth Gentry, R.C. Sproul Sr., Hank Hanegraaf & others)
Hyper-preterism can be traced to perhaps the early 1800s at the earliest (source) but its modern expression started in the early 1970s with a “church of Christ” minister named Max King.  In King’s biography, written by his son Tim King, Max King is even considered the “founder” of the “fulfilled” view (source).  The label has gone through several transitions with perhaps its first being “Covenant Eschatology”, then “Consistent Preterism”, then “Full Preterism”.  The King faction eventually moved away from those using the label of “preterism” & have since actually trademarked a term they call “Transmillennialism(tm), yes they actually trademarked a term. What is amazing is the interviewer had actually at one point tried to personally trademark the term “preterism” (source)
The King faction even agrees that the label of “preterism” actually belongs to the Reformed group mentioned in the above account of Historic Preterism.
“Preterism is essentially a subset of Reformed Postmillennialism. Full Preterism as a term was not in common use until the early-90s when a handful of Reformed Presbyterians started using the term.” (source)
As stated in the section about Historic Preterism, it does not differ from historic Christianity except that the label is rather new in usage.  Just like ALL of historic Christianity, Historic Preterists AFFIRM the 3 major eschatological events as yet future to us; (1) the yet future return of Christ (2) the yet future resurrection of the believers (3) the yet future judgment of the wicked & righteous.  It can be shown that on these 3 points, there is UNITY among ALL expressions of historic Christianity be it pre-Roman Catholic Christianity, Roman Catholic Christianity, Greek Orthodox Christianity, Syrian/Aramaic Christianity, Protestant/Reformed Christianity, Anabaptist Christianity, Modern Evangelical Christianity & I’d suspect even most of the Emergent/Postmodernists.
Whereas, Hyper-preterism DENIES some or usally all 3 of these historic Christian doctrines.  Hyperpreterists advocate:
  • 1) That Jesus came back once & for all in the 1st-century
  • 2) That the resurrection of the believers happened in the 1st-century
  • 3) That the judgment of the wicked & righteous happened in the 1st-century
This is in contradiction to how Christians have interpreted the Bible for 2000 years.   When asked how this can be, hyperpreterism MUST insert one of 3 possible answers: 1) that there has been a 2000 year conspiracy where the supposed truth of their doctrine has been silenced. 2) that 2000 years of Christians were just too dumb to understand basic eschatology 3) that there was a 1st-century rapture/removal of all true Christians & no one was left to record the supposed return of Christ & other events hyper-preterists claim happened.
All of these theories undermine Christianity’s integrity at the core.  If God is not sovereign enough to maintain at least the basic beliefs within His Church throughout history, then maybe the Mormons & JWs & Muslims are correct when they claim they are the restored expression of God’s plan.
This is a new term to me, something I think Andrew is trying to put forth.  But I bring it up here as it relates to the interview.  During the interview, the interviewer was constantly making references to “Preterists” & “Preterism” yet making no distinction between the historic form & his “hyper” form. He could have at least called it “Full Preterism” or something to clarify the distinction.
The interviewer even appeared to insult Andrew when he asked: Some people are wondering, is then anything new at all about an Emergent eschatology, or is it just “Preterism re-imaged?”
Whatever Andrew’s concepts of an “Emergent eschatology” may be, there was enough in his comments to show it is NOTHING like a HYPER-preterism re-imaged.  During the interview, Andrew stated: the essential missional vocation of the people of God, which is to be a renewed creation in the midst of the nations and cultures of the earth, having the hope to which the resurrection crucially points that ultimately even death will be defeated in a final act of judgment and renewalWhen the final enemy is destroyed, there will be no more need for Jesus to reign as king over his vulnerable people, and the kingdom will be given back to the Father (cf. 1 Cor. 15:24-26). What follows that is not kingdom but new creation.”
As you can see Andrew’s concepts of an Emergent Eschatology has NOTHING in common with hyperpreterism yet the interviewer seems to ignore this & continued to press his not so hidden agenda of marrying hyperpreterism to Emergent/Postmodernism & even says:
“I personally see a strong possibility of Preterism and Emergent/Emerging eschatology becoming eventually synonymous. Do you think this is a possibility, and is there enough space for all of us to learn from each other and grow together?”
This is another insult & complete disregard for what Andrew is putting forth.  Notice also the last sentence where there is this not so subtle plea to have hyperpreterism seen as valid & sit at the theological table with historic Christianity.
Andrew concludes the interview upon being asked if he has any “words of wisdom for [his] Preterist readers”.  He responds:
“Yes, though more of a question, and it may come across as rather impertinent - so I apologize. I would ask why they need to identify themselves specifically as ‘Preterist’ readers? I would ask them to consider what theological battle they understand themselves to be engaged in.
An astute observation Andrew, hyperpreterists are “engaged” in the “battle” of legitimacy.  They are doing all they can to put forth themselves & their views as legitimately Christian even though historic Christianity has NEVER advocated ANYTHING like what hyperpreterism advocates — not even the worst of sectarian groups have gone as hyper outside of Christianity as hyperpreterism.
Anyhow, thank you for the interview.  It was very informative on many levels.
source link to the interview:  — Warning, this is an avid hyperpreterist site.

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