Friday, January 1, 2010

Why Hyperpreterists Can’t Use the Bible

In interactions with hyperpreterists, one of the first claims they make is that they are just reading the Bible for what it says.  First, we must ask then why 2000 years worth of Christians who have read that same Bible, some people even in the original languages & some people who had ONLY the Bible as reading material — why didn’t these people conclude anything like what Hyperpreterists claim they see in the Bible?
But even BEFORE we get to that question we must ask another question of the hyperpreterists:
I mean, why 66 books & no more or no less?  Who decided this?  Why does the hyperpreterist just accept it?  You’d think that since hyperpreterism MUST claim 2000 years of Christian interpretation has been wrong that the hyperpreterist would first take a look at the Bible those 2000 years of Christians have been reading.  Maybe those supposedly dumb Christians messed up there too eh?

If a hyperpreterist is REALLY going to be “consistent” & honest, he would start by questioning the validity of the canon.  If God, Jesus, the hand-picked apostles, & the Holy Spirit were supposedly unable to make sure even a small minority of Christians understood the supposed truth of the hyperpreterist interpretations, then why rely that we have the correct Bible?
So, next time a hyperpreterist claims he has “Sola Scriptura” on his side, ask him why…why does he believe the book we call the Bible is actually God’s intended revelation?  I mean, if 2000 years of Christianity was supposedly too dumb to get the major, major DIFFERENT interpretation that hyperpreterists say is right there on the pages of the Bible, then how can we trust the thing we call the Bible was accurately transmitted, passed down & carried on.  It is quite a pinch that the hyperpreterists have themselves in.  While they want to refuse that Jesus was actually successful in making sure people understood what He meant & while the hyperpreterists want to deny that the hand-picked apostles could effectively teach those early Christians, making sure they too understood, & while the hyperpreterists want to claim the Holy Spirit hasn’t really guided the Church in the basic & united doctrines of Christianity — somehow hyperpreterists want to claim the construct of the Bible was untouched by all this dismal failings of God’s plan.
So, again What is the Bible?  See — hyperpreterism saws off the very limb they claim to be sitting on when they want to paint historic Christianity as a giant mess of contradiction & competing beliefs.  Yet, the truth is whether we are talking about pre-Roman Catholic, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Reformed/Protestant, Anabaptist, or Modern Evangelical — ALL of historic Christianity has been UNITED on exactly the 3 points hyperpreterism denies;
  1. Jesus’ yet future to us return
  2. The yet future to us bodily resurrection of the believers
  3. The yet future to us judgment of the wicked & righteous
To conclude; hyperpreterism has both the Bible AND Christian history against them.  The very table of contents in any Bible speaks against the premise of hyperpreterism since hyperpreterism MUST start by claiming there has been a 2000 year conspiracy.
THIS is why I don’t discuss the Bible with hyperpreterists — they have no business using a book that according to hyperpreterism’s own premise may very well be nothing but a collection of man-made traditions, heavily edited & redacted.  The hyperpreterist is in the same position as an atheist that wants to talk about morality without God — both are without a foundation.  The atheist can’t claim anything is right or wrong without an unchanging standard & the hyperpreterist can’t appeal to the Bible since according to them, it may be as flawed as the Christian history that produced it.

Well, after receiving several private communications from hyperpreterists trying to take me to task about this article & after seeing the Sammy SGP Patrol out in force in damage control mode (& yet STILL ignoring the blatant sin/lies of their leaders), I thought I should add some follow up comments.
I will make my appendix by addressing the more sincere communications I received.  One hyperpreterist fellow wrote & said:
“The only problem is that you seem to apply your logic to everyone else, but you.  I agree with you to an extent.  But think you have a problem: The Bible has not always been what we know it to be today and the Church has made errors in what they included and do not include in the canon….so yes I must admit I am always open to the fact that we have verses in the bible that are not inspired and possibly books.”
Ah, so my point is proven before he even gets past his first paragraph.  Let me explain.
  1. He says “The Bible has not always been what we know it to be today”
  2. He says “The Church has made errors in what they included and do not include in the canon”
  3. He says “I am always open to the fact that we have verses in the bible that are not inspired and possibly books”
There you have it.  Why should I have a discussion with hyperpreterists ONLY using the Bible we have today if (1) They don’t believe it is the same Bible Christians have accepted throughout Christian history.  (2) They believe the present Bible may have errors.  (3) They allow for the possibility that the Bible is incomplete or contains uninspired verses.
These are the people who want to chant “Sola Scriptura”????
The fellow goes on to cite examples of where extra-biblical books were sometimes referenced as “scripture” by “church fathers” & then in relation to that citation the fellow says:
“Your logic states that if a [hyperpreterist's] think that the Church could get something so big, so wrong, then they can’t use the Bible because the Church is who decided what the Bible would contain?”
Did I say the Church is who decided what the Bible would contain????  See, herein lies the issue with hyperpreterists — they are REACTIONARY.  As a matter of fact, it is no coincidence that modern hyperpreterism sprang up in the 1970s at about the same time as “Left-Behindism” — they are two-sides of the same coin.  My contention is that God guides.  Jesus Christ came to guide.  The hand-picked apostles were guiding.  The Holy Spirit guides.  All of this happens EFFECTIVELY & SUCCESSFULLY.  Again, what has been my argument about hyperpreterism???  That it MUST have as its over-arching premise, a 2000 year failure…& hyperpreterists prove their reliance on this premise every time they try to escape it.  I NEVER said the Church decided what the Bible would contain — I said, Christian history produced it — that encompasses ALL of the guidance — from God, from Jesus Christ our Lord, from the hand-picked apostles, from the Holy Spirit — we honor them ALL by not doubting their ability to effectively relate & make sure we understood the basic intentions & plan of God.
Next, the fellow tries to claim that the textual criticisms over the underlying texts — such as the Textus Receptus over the Alexandrian text. — are indications that there has been major mistakes in the transmission & reception of the Bible.
This is YET ANOTHER tactic I have seen within hyperpreterism — I call it the scorched earth policy.  They think that undermining the overall validity of Christianity somehow is helpful to them.  No wonder, for many hyperpreterists, the next stop is functional atheism.  They unwittingly undermine their own faith, even in hyperpreterism so as to undermine faith in God’s ability to guide the community of saints.
Here is the issue.  Every Christian MUST have a starting point.  Here is mine & most of historic Christianity’s starting point:
Hyperpreterists CAN’T start there and STILL claim historic Christianity has majorly, majorly messed up on the fundamental plan of God.  They have to be as consistent as this hyperpreterist fellow who wrote me.  They MUST claim that we may not actually have the correct or complete Word of God.  Thus, since the hyperpreterists CAN’T honestly say the Bible we have today is the Bible God guided us to have, they therefore have no business quoting from the Bible.
Hyperpreterists can quote theologians all day long in an attempt to pit the Bible against the Church (more of hyperpreterism’s scorched earth policy), but it ISN’T about  the Bible vs the Church (the quotes you will find are often of Reformed theologians making a distinction between the Bible & Papalist Religion) — The real distinction is about whether a person believes God is guiding, guiding not just an institution but the entire community of saints throughout history.  Again,  whether you look at pre-Roman Catholic, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Protestant/Reformed, Anabaptist, or Modern Evangelical — ALL of these expressions of the community of the saints have UNITEDLY AGREED on EXACTLY the 3 things hyperpreterism DENIES.
Hyperpreterism, though it may appear appealing to those who felt outcast by their traditional churches, or appealing to those who have done independent Bible studies (I call it Bible study without context, for an example of this — see link) — hyperpreterism is NOT HISTORICALLY CHRISTIAN.  It CANNOT use the Bible to defend itself since as we see from the words of the hyperpreterist fellow above, they don’t even think the Bible is really authoritative.  If not the Bible & not the totality of historic Christian interpretation — who IS the final authority  for a hyperpreterist????  YEP, you guessed it — THEMSELVES & their own private interpretation.

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