Praying & mulling over how to best address this situation, I have decided to focus on helping people leave or avoid hyperpreterism completely. If you are looking for a way out of hyperpreterism, this blog is written for you.
In the coming installments I shall outline practical issues & exegetical issues. I will address some of the pointed questions I had as I considered leaving hyperpreterism; such as what alternatives are there? I mean, isn’t futurist dispensationalism still wrong even without hyperpreterism? Aren’t some of the arguments of “partial preterism” inconsistent? What about all the apparent biblical support that seems to point to an imminent, first-century return of Christ? Do we just chuck all of that? I plan to interact with that in an exegetical manner & without offering some other “ism” for the person to embrace.
ADMITTING THE ADDICTIONOnce a person embraces hyperpreterism they will soon find it affecting everything – they don’t call it a “paradigm shift” for nothing. It is indeed a complete “culture” change.
I know at least two men personally whose divorces were directly related to their hyperpreterism. It was not due to the mere beliefs of hyperpreterism but more so with the detrimental side effects of those beliefs. Some side effects include licentiousness & antinominanism – or bluntly a lack of general morality or “godliness”. And I’m not talking about “self-righteousness” but rather the same humble fidelity (faith) we should be showing Christ (just as there is supposed to be humble fidelity between you & your spouse).
The reason there seems to be inordinate & more damaging instances of immorality among hyperpreterists – from perpetual drunkenness to perpetual infidelity is because it is built into the very premises of hyperpreterism. Hyperpreterism by nature is an egotistical, “self-revelatory” belief. Hyperpreterism’s premise is that for 2000 plus years the historic Church has missed what hyperpreterists have only recently been able to figure out. This is hardly a “humble” position. From there, a hyperpreterist finds himself looking down on historic Christianity as dupes & fools – as “closed-minded, dull-headed fundamentalists”. This in turn causes a hyperpreterist to question not only the historic Church’s interpretation of eschatological events but even the interpretation of practical biblical precepts – such as many hyperpreterists’ unhealthy infatuation with alcohol or foulness of speech. These are but the simplest things to fall under the hyperpreterist antinominanistic mindset, it gets worse even to the point that some hyperpreterist leaders have advocated that whether someone drinks alcohol or not should be used as a type of test of faith (open-minded, tolerant faith). Or that it is wrong to ask God to forgive us of anything because by so asking we imply God hasn’t actually forgiven us of everything. Or that Christians should no longer have shame about anything (this one really plays out, since many hyperpreterists are in fact shameless in behavior — just spend time at their forums & you’ll see). Or there are some hyperpreterists even now advocating that polygamy is acceptable, all against the direct precept of Christ that marriage is of one man & one woman (Mt 19:4-9). It is true that you can find some of this even within general Christianity but it is not only more pervasive within hyperpreterism, again it is built into much of the premises of hyperpreterism. For instance, suppose as a hyperpreterist I used Mt 22:30 to argue that since the Resurrection has already occurred that traditional marriage is no longer necessary, especially since I could claim it only was a metaphor for Christ’s marriage to the Church which is now consummated & that instead we should share ourselves with multiple partners, freely floating from one to another like “angels”? There was actually a group of 19th century hyperpreterists called “The Oneida Community” that practiced this very thing – calling it, “complex marriage” – just another term for polygamy.
Hyperpreterism becomes an addiction, affecting everything. Those who embrace it will often find themselves talking more about the “ISM” than about the Bible, or about the Gospel or even about Christ (except only in a redefined, parsed, pre-qualified manner). Hyperpreterism is a cult, but not in the traditional sense. Some people mistakenly think that a cult is only defined by a group of people blindly following some singular charismatic leader even to the point of drinking poisoned kool-aide. Hyperpreterism is a cult in the fact that its adherents spend an inordinate amount of time “cultivating” the “culture” of hyperpreterism. Hyperpreterist often exhibit the traditional behaviors of a cult in how they will swoon over, not just a singular leader but over their favorite hyperpreterist authors or speakers & following them around like pre-pubescent groupies.
The first step in leaving hyperpreterism even BEFORE we get to the exegetical reasons is to admit its addicting qualities. Once you can admit that, you can begin to determine how you actually reached this state of being.
Stay tuned for the next installment of the Recovery Room, where I will discuss the four prerequisites before a person submits themselves to the hyperpreterist premises.