Friday, January 1, 2010

Why Hyperpreterism Can Never Be Systematic

When a premise, assertion or formula is put forth, the true way to test it is to push it to its conclusions. Systematically applying a premise will quickly reveal if the premise itself is flawed.
When it comes to hyperpreterism, it is built on 3 primary premises with 1 overarching premise.
  1. That Jesus returned once & for all in the year AD70
  2. That the resurrection of the believers happened in AD70
  3. That the Judgment of the wicked & righteous happened in AD70
  • That for whatever reason, God for nearly 2000 years has been unable or unwilling to make sure that the Church has a basic & correct understanding of eschatology.

If you keep these points in focus, you cannot & will not be duped or conned by hyperpreterism’s pretended “exegesis”. Hyperpreterism is mainly an eschatological movement & typically does not venture too far from that scope, but when it does the fatal flaws of the hyperpreterist premise glare like a shard of glass stuck in the sole of your foot.
Let’s take a look at a few ways hyperpreterism reveals its flawed premises when applied to other “ologies”.
When the 3 primary hyperpreterist premises are applied to soteriology (salvation issues), it must conclude with some form of universalism (no one is ultimately condemned). Look, if Jesus has already come then a major purpose of His return is complete — that some have been resurrected unto life & others to eternal damnation (Mt 25:46). If the Judgment of the wicked & righteous is complete, then there is no more condemnation & no one can rightly speak of hell or even annihilationism (even the soul/spirit ceasing to exist). Most hyperpreterists try to reject this “logical” conclusion (as I tried while I was a hyperpreterist) but the facts are the facts. If someone tries to “consistently” apply hyperpreterism to soteriology, the only conclusion is some form of universalism. Only hyperpreterists that either do NOT consistently apply or have not considered how hyperpreterism applies to soteriology can avoid from becoming some form of universalists. Hyperpreterism indeed has quite an active & vocal faction of universalists.
Another area where hyperpreterism has attempted to venture is in the area of Creationism.
Because asserting the 3 primary premises of hyperpreterism requires a radical redefinition of historic Christian interpretation of the Bible, this redefined approach opens up hyperpreterists to not only redefine eschatological interpretation but also to press their wild speculations into other areas. They often try to “hyperpreterize” the Creation & Flood accounts so that those events aren’t about the physical universe or the physical planet but merely about some “spiritualized” notion. (see a review of Beyond Creation Science, a hyperpreterist book on this topic). In this hyperpreterist redefined Creation story, we are told that Genesis isn’t about the creation of the planet earth, nor of physical beings such as animals or humans. As a matter of fact we are told that Adam was NOT the first human being, but merely the first “covenantal man”. We are led to believe that other humans existed BEFORE Adam (hence evolution). A small, but growing faction of hyperpreterists adhere to this “covenantal creationism” as it is called. At any rate, hyperpreterism breeds rabid speculations such as this.
It is only a matter of time before the hyperpreterist penchant speculation catches up to other “ologies”.
Hyperpreterists are rabid rejectors of anything “traditional” — they MUST be since all of historic Christianity is against them — this includes pre-Roman Catholic Christianity, Roman Catholic Christianity, Reformed Christianity, & Modern Evangelical Christianity. They love to try to project themselves as staunch advocates of the concept of “Sola Scriptura” (Bible alone) but instead of holding to the same notion as that motto first declared by the Reformers…the REAL Reformers, the hyperpreterist version of “Sola Scriptura” really amounts to “private interpretation” (2 Pet 1:20) & to hell with nearly 2000 years of unified Christian interpretation. So, when hyperpreterists get around to applying their heresy more “consistently”, they will soon see that they have no room for a Triune God — I mean, antitrinitarians have been claiming the concept of the Trinity isn’t even biblical, that it was merely an “institutional Church” doctrine imposed upon the Church, that some creed or council merely dreamed it up & forced it on other Christians — This fits perfectly with anti-creedal, anti-council, anti-confessional hyperpreterist mentality. But even if a hyperpreterist somehow still adheres to the Trinity, if you apply the hyperpreterist premise about everything ending in AD70 you might conclude that the only purpose of the Holy Spirit was to guide those original apostles into “all truth about things yet to come” (John 16:13). And now that that goal is complete according to hyperpreterists — what need would there be of a Holy Spirit? I mean, according to hyperpreterists we’re supposed to simply apply their redefined hermeneutics & wala! we all can become hyperpreterists.
Watch for these & more wacky conclusions as you see hyperpreterists try to “consistently” & “logically” apply their flawed premises.
Though there are certainly more systematic breakdowns we could discuss when hyperpreterism’s premises are applied, I want to finish on the catch phrase “out of the box” thinking. A hyperpreterist will often attempt to get an unsuspecting Christian to “think outside the box” & what person wants to be viewed as narrow minded, so of course many Christians will fall for this ploy by the hyperpreterists. What the hyperpreterists REALLY MEAN by this catch phrase is for you to think outside of the Bible…or at least outside of the 2000 years of historic Christian interpretation of the Bible. Again, hyperpreterists will employ the slogan, “Sola Scriptura” & unfortunately many Reformed Christians hear this phrase & get all starry-eyed & ready to buy anything the person says — because they think that person must be a type of reformer. The hyperpreterist premises are NOTHING like anything in historic Christian understanding. Even the Reformers did NOT depart from historic Christianity — they merely opposed Papal Roman Catholicism. The Reformers immediately penned numerous confessions & other documents that AGREED completely with historic Christian interpretation. Hyperpreterism asks us to “think outside the box” when in reality they mean to think outside the historic, biblical scope of Christianity & instead embrace the novelty & heresy of hyperpreterism. Don’t be fooled.
To conclude, I’d like to quote the 19th century American theologian, Samuel Miller regarding how heresies operate & sneak their way into Christianity:
When heresy rises in an evangelical body, it is never frank and open. It always begins by skulking, and assuming a disguise. Its advocates, when together, boast of great improvements, and congratulate one another on having gone greatly beyond the “old dead orthodoxy,” and on having left behind many of its antiquated errors: but when taxed with deviations from the received faith, they complain of the unreasonableness of their accusers, as they “differ from it only in words.” This has been the standing course of errorists ever since the apostolic age. They are almost never honest and candid as a party, until they gain strength enough to be sure of some degree of popularity. Thus it was with Arius in the fourth century, with Pelagius in the fifth, with Arminius and his companions in the seventeenth, with Amyraut and his associates in France soon afterwards, and with the Unitarians in Massachusetts, toward the close of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries [& hyperpreterists in the twenty-first century -- my addition because it fits so well in this list of heresies]. They denied their real tenets, evaded examination or inquiry, declaimed against their accusers as merciless bigots and heresy-hunters, and strove as long as they could to appear to agree with the most orthodox of their neighbours; until the time came when, partly from inability any longer to cover up their sentiments, and partly because they felt strong enough to come out, they at length avowed their real opinions.
Samuel Miller, 1841

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