Friday, June 4, 2010

Atheism: The Last Stop for a Hyperpret?

Last StopPeriodically, otherwise gong-ho, high-profile hyperpreterists give it all up for some sort of atheism. We saw this happen with a guy named HL James (aka "purgos") on an online live chat forum called Paltalk. HL James was online teaching hyperpreterism almost 24/7. And whether hyperpreterism is a heresy or not, HL James taught it well. But eventually HL James talked himself out of religion altogether. I mean, if a hyperpreterist is consistent, and God wrapped it all up in AD70, "gathered the Elect from the four winds" as Mt 24:31 says, then who are we??? It appears God just left the planet to run itself. His plan complete, having redeemed his Chosen people via the Seed of Abraham, and the "fullness of the Gentiles" brought in. What would be left?

Other high-profile hyperprets turned atheists include Jared Coleman, once considered the administrator of the most popular hyperpreterist community site (pre-NING format), PlanetPreterist. There is also Bryan Lewis, a guy who thought he was going to take the movement by storm.

And now I find out that apparently yet another high-profile hyperpret has thrown in the towel. Jerry Bowers (aka Eschatology 101) known for his presence on the live chat forum, PalTalk sent these messages a while back:
Eschatology 101: <<(03/27/10 11:53 AM EDT)>> Last night, I reached the lowest point I have ever felt; psychologically. No more, never again. I am stronger than that, I am better than that. I am finished with religion; it is bondage, hopelessness & defeatism. God in me, tells the world to kiss my ass.

Eschatology 101: <<(05/05/10 12:37 PM EDT)>> To all my paltalk friends: When the permeating belief that God is blind, oblivious or apathetic to the affairs of humans; becomes popular, I must retreat. I have no interest in a God, who has no interest in humanity. This is Deism; the most destructive teaching possible for Theists.
Now, I know hyperpreterists may want to point out how professed Christians throughout history have also went into atheism but there are a few important points to consider with a hyperpreterist that does this.
  1. Ratio -- It is different when we're talking about hundreds out of billions of Christians going into atheism as compared to tens out of thousands (if even that many total) Hyperprets going into atheism.
  2. High-profile -- These aren't lower-rung hyperprets, these are very vocal advocates.
But the worst of it is that where else does a person go after hyperpreterism?? Hyperpreterism claims to be the peak of theological understanding. It claims that 2000 years worth of Christian interpretation has been wrong and that Hyperpreterism figured out the real plan of God. Let's be frank here, if you start doubting Hyperpreterism and you don't want to look back into historic Christianity; what options are left? You could do like some of the latest "renouncers" have done and try to latch onto a sort of "Hyperpreterism-lite" like the one Kenneth Talbot is putting forth, called "Realized Preterism". But in that you will soon realize (ironic) that you've simply "re-gifted" your same dilemma in a different box with a different bow...that is if you are honest with yourself.

Atheism or some form of it is really your only consistent option. Look at Jerry Bowers words above. Those are perhaps the most sincere words I've heard from the several years I've known the guy. He is finally acknowledging that "god" according to hyperpreterism has become nothing. The world, according to a hyperpret hermeneutic really ended in AD70. There isn't really any plan in the Bible for the world after AD70, if that is how a person concludes it. No wonder hyperprets like Ward Fenley have to come up with theories about people on earth being in "heaven now".

It is all very sad. I say, but by the grace of God there go I! I was a hyperpreterist for 15 years and in the last 5 of those years I seriously considered the route of atheism, but then I stopped and considered that maybe I was the one that was wrong, and not 2000 years of historic Christian interpretation. I certainly didn't go back into Left-Behind Dispensationalism (I got out of that long before I ever became a hyperpreterist). Instead, I have parked where ALL of historic Christianity agrees. The minimal eschatological points of ALL of Christianity are as follows:
  1. Jesus will return in our yet future (how is moot)
  2. The collective resurrection of the believers is in our yet future (However, resurrection is often too narrowly defined since Jesus speaking to Nicodemus and then to Martha spoke of a person being "born-again" and if they believed in Him, having life and never dying -- all of this was even BEFORE AD70, yet the disciples continued to speak of a collective resurrection).
  3. Judgment of the wicked and righteous in our yet future
  4. End of sin and culmination of God's plan
These four things have been the UNITED Christian view of eschatology. Perhaps the MOST SETTLED doctrine within the Church; since whether we are talking about pre-Roman Catholics, Roman Catholics, Greek/Eastern Orthodox, Syrian, Reformed/Protestant, Anabaptist, Modern Evangelical, Arminian or Calvinist -- ALL of these expressions of historic Christianity have been UNITED on these four points despite any other doctrinal disagreements they may have.

This is significant and if a person can actually deviate from these basics and still think they are Christian, then yes, they are really fooling themselves. Such a departure from these basics is perhaps the most profound heretical move of all (I'm not talking about their salvation, only God knows that).

So, whether you hyperpreterists hate me out there or not, listen to men like Jerry Bowers, one of your own. His sincere words may become yours unless you figure out what you are doing. Hyperpreterism isn't a minor tweak or add-on to your previous perspective. Hyperpreterism is a radical "paradigm shift" away from anything that has EVER been considered Christianity. Hyperpreterism MUST claim 2000 years of united Christian interpretation on the basics of eschatology has been in gross error. What then do we think about God's ability to sustain truth, especially a truth that was supposed to be a "better covenant", a revealed mystery, a no longer behind-the-veil-of-Moses community of saints? You can't point to the Jews missing their Messiah and claim the Christians have done the same. There is no more "Newer" Testament to be written that will explain the supposed missing info (well unless you want to go into a cult like Mormonism or Islam). The 2000 years of united historic Christianity, is what it is, whether you like it or not. If you want to chuck it and start over, then what you have is NOT Christianity. And someday, like Jerry Bowers, like HL James, like Jared Coleman, like Bryan Lewis, you too may reach "the lowest point" and be finished with religion altogether. Think about it.

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