Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hyperpreterist Buffet: A little here and a little there

Tsau latsau, kau lakau
One of the main arguments surrounding Hyperpreterism is the FACT that it can't be shown to be taught in the history of Christianity prior to the late 18oo's and specifically in 1971 with Max King. Hyperpreterists have made various attempts to answer this issue, for example Hyperpreterist teacher, Edward Stevens posits there was a 1st-century rapture that removed all of the "first-rank" Christians leaving only so-called "second-rank" Christians to build the post-AD70 Church and therefore Stevens concludes that it should be no wonder that for 2000 years Christianity has taught nothing such as Hyperpreterism. Stevens' contention is that the second-rank "Left-Behind" Christians didn't really understand what happened in AD70 and therefore initiated the supposedly erroneous eschatological view that UNITED Christianity has espoused for 2000 years (source).

Other attempts by Hyperpreterists to reconcile the issue have come in the form of advocating that "full preterism has always existed in trace form". Or yet another tries to justify Hyperpreterism "new doctrine" by claiming Martin Luther and the Reformers were advocating new doctrine with justification by faith alone; Hyperpreterists will even quote Reformed theologians who seem to agree that Luther was teaching something new. Ultimately, the Hyperpreterist argument and overarching premise is that for whatever reason, God was either unable or unwilling to sustain a basic understanding of His eschatological plan among His community of saints; as if 2000 years of Christianity has been in gross error. Most Hyperpreterists have no problem with this premise and don't seem to understand that the consequences leave them and Christianity itself as bogus and doubtful. I mean, if God hasn't sustained truth, then why trust any doctrine we have within Christianity? Why even trust that the Bible we have today is the Bible; since perhaps there are missing books or books added that God didn't intend. This notion of God having not sustained basic understanding within His collective new covenant community leaves us prepped to accept the next Muhammad, the next Joseph Smith Jr., the next Charles Taze Russell, the next Max King that comes claiming what Christians have always believed is in gross error and these men somehow figured out the truth.

In my ongoing interactions with Hyperpreterists, one named Dan Delagrave he seems to have understood the dilemma Hyperpreterism is in and so he attempted his own answer. In one of his many rambling and smug emails to me, he says:
"[Roderick] I have followed your appeals to "Mother Church" and "historic Christianity" and "God's soveriegnty" as pertains to eschatological doctrine. There is something I think you have not considered in this regard. God said through the prophet Isaiah that truth is learned "line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little". Does this not make room for a progressive understanding of doctrinal truth which may entail not having it completely right at all times in history???" -- Hyperpret Dan Delagrave
By this reasoning Delagrave thinks (much like hyperpret Sam Frost with his "progressive/deductive logic" approach) that the reason Hyperpreterism isn't found in historic Christianity is because like the "trace form" argument it supposedly has taken this long before people taking "here a little, there a little" finally put it all together. Not only is this a very postmodernistic and Emergent approach, it is a complete erroneous use of Isaiah 28:10 from which this sentence comes.

In reply to Delagrave, I wrote this (pay especial attention to the FULL CONTEXT of Is 28:10):
While you denigrate 2000 years of united Christian interpretation, just keep in mind that you are acting as an island to yourself; part of a heretical, cultic group that claims as its overarching premise that God was either unwilling or unable to maintain truth. You pick out OT text, such as the Isa 28:10 verse and think it negates the fact that Jesus came to reveal and fulfill; that the things long hid in shadow mystery were being explained by Jesus and the Holy-Spirit led apostles. Further you seem to ignore the context of Isa 28:10 since the verse before even says:

"Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast?"

-then the 3 verses that follow Isa 28:10 say:

Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues
God will speak to this people, 12 to whom he said,
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest";
and, "This is the place of repose"—
but they would not listen. 13 So then, the word of the LORD to them will become:
Do and do, do and do,
rule on rule, rule on rule;
a little here, a little there—
so that they will go and fall backward,
be injured and snared and captured

The idea of "do and do, do and do" is a condemnation. It is about people who only get a "little here and a little there", piecing together their belief and faith instead of having FAITH ONCE AND FOR ALL.

In modern speech, we might read Isa 28:9-13 this way:

"Who is it that needs teaching? Are these people ignorant and childish that they can't understand? With them it has to be do a little here and there. They can't handle the bigger concepts. These people are so dense, it is like the teacher is speaking a foreign language. The Word of God to them is like disconnected, out of context phrases they must string together little by little, so that these people will fail to understand it and fall into error"

So, Dan if you want to base your belief on hodge-podge "do and do", no wonder you continue to hold to hyperpreterism. -- Roderick to a Hyperpret
So, as you can see the misuse of Is 28:10 to try to claim we should piece together our faith is yet another attempt by a Hyperpret to justify their arrogant and wrongheaded approach. Is 28:10 isn't an example of how we're supposed to do theology but rather a condemnation of people who grope about piecing together "here a little, there a little". As a matter of fact, here are just a few summary quotes from commentaries on Is 28:9-13
"The prophet here complains of the wretched stupidity of this people, that they were unteachable and made no improvement of the means of grace which they possessed; they still continued as they were, their mistakes not rectified, their hearts not renewed, nor their lives reformed...What little effect all this had upon the people. They were as unapt to learn as young children newly weaned from the milk, and it was as impossible to fasten any thing upon them...[The Word] made no impression upon them; they had the letter of the precept, but no experience of the power and spirit of it; it was continually beating upon them, but it beat nothing into them." -- Mt Henry
"For there was no one that was able to understand any good doctrine: but were foolish and as unfit as young babes...They must have one thing often repeated." -- Geneva Study
"Here the Prophet shews by an expression of amazement, that the disease of the people is incurable, and that God has no other remedies adapted to cure them, for he has tried every method without effect. When he calls wanderers to return to the right path, and unceasingly warns those who are thoughtlessly going astray, this undoubtedly is an extraordinary remedy; and if it do no good, the salvation of those who refuse to accept of any aid from a physician is utterly hopeless...This shews plainly that the Lord complains of spending his labor to no purpose in instructing this unteachable people, just as if one were to teach children, who must have elementary instructions repeated to them over and over again, and quickly forget them, and when the master has spent a whole day in teaching them a single letter, yet on the following day and afterwards, the same labor must be renewed, and though he leave nothing untried that care or diligence can do, still they will make no progress under him. Those who change the words of this verse, in order to avoid offending the ears of the readers, obscure the Prophet's meaning through a foolish affectation of copiousness of language, and even destroy the elegance of the style; for, by using the same words, he intended to express a repetition which is constant and unceasing, and full of annoyance. The metaphor, as I have already said, is taken from children, to whom teachers do not venture to give long lessons, because they are incapable of them, but give them, as it were, in little drops. Thus, they convey the same instructions a second and third time, and oftener; and, in short, they continue to receive elementary instructions till they acquire reason and judgment. By a witty imitation he repeats the words, 'here a little, there a little.' " -- Calvin's Commentaries
As is seen from the various commentaries, my interpretation of Is 28:9-13 is not unique. The above commentaries conclude that Is 28:9-13 ISN'T an example of how to approach theology, but rather it's a condemnation, a ridicule of how some people (specifically in this case the Jews of that time) are so dense that though they are being taught like little children, in small bits, they still can't put it together. So, when Delagrave appealed to Is 28:10 to try to answer the issue of why Hyperpreterism isn't found taught in historic Christianity, Delagrave simply showed he doesn't understand what the Bible is saying, ironically enough even when the Bible is ridiculing Delagrave's dense approach to the Bible. Delagrave's and his fellow Hyperpreterists attempt to take "here a little and there a little" and string it along into a new doctrine is as flawed as Delagrave's attempt to use Is 28:10 to justify himself. This buffet approach to theology of taking a little from here and a little from there and adding it to your doctrine plate is a very destructive approach.

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