Thursday, December 2, 2010

Answering Hyperpreterists

Whether interacting with Mormons, JWs, Muslims, or Hyperpreterists; a Christian should start first with the cultist's overarching premise. For example, before we even get to Scripture with a Mormon, we should first address the Mormon premises that;
1. a group of Jews/Israelites settled in America pre-Columbus.
2. that Jesus' statement in John 10:16 of having "other sheep" was a veiled reference to those supposed Jews in America.
3. the entire Mormon premise of Joseph Smith Jr. as the last prophet.
In the same way, over and over again a hyperpreterist will begrudgingly posit that the hyperpreterist premise is that God, Jesus, the hand-picked apostles, and the Holy Spirit were such ineffective teachers that supposedly the day after AD70, all Christians of any mention until present have been believing and practicing a grossly erroneous eschatology. According to hyperpreterism, Christianity, in the eschatological sense (which is a very large part of Christianity) has more or less been non-existent until the 1970s when Max King began to promote hyperpreterism. Indeed, Max King often claims to be the "founder" of hyperpreterism (he calls, "covenant eschatology" or "fulfilled eschatology").

But hyperpreterists don't like to DEAL WITH their premises but instead try to bully people into "answering their questions" (built and based on the false hyperpret premises). Typically, I refuse to interact on the false premises of hyperpreterism, just as I would refuse to discuss which "green laws" should or shouldn't be implemented BEFORE discussing the credibility of the "Global Warming" premise. However, I have answered hyperpreterists in the past, usually by simply offering them the Christian interpretation upon the texts in question.
Specifically, the hyperpreterist Mike Sullivan, often known for his chest-thumping accusations that people "can't answer" him; including using this mantra against his fellow hyperpreterists, such as Sam Frost -- I have answered Sullivan in the past but he likes to pretend if an answer isn't what he wants to hear, that it isn't an answer. My previous answers to Sullivan can be found as follows:
However, Sullivan CONTINUES to act like I haven't answered his questions and likes to claim I am a "coward". I finally was able to get Sullivan to post all of his questions in one place. I will once AGAIN answer these questions and only these. Any subsequent questions by Sullivan will be considered OTHER questions, which I will not answer, simply because this entire exercise is to show that Sullivan, along with his fellow hyperpreterists are behaving like the person in 1 Timothy 6:4 and 2 Timothy 2:23.
What follows is Sullivan questions, in once place. I will answer according to the Christian interpretation, not my own. Unlike the radical individualists of hyperpreterism, I am not out to create some new theology. I will utilize 3 main commentaries, rather than go about quote mining; which is a typical course of hyperpreterists. 1) Matthew Henry Commentary, which represents general non-Reformed Evangelical commentary. 2) Geneva Notes, which represents a more common-man Reformed position since the Geneva Bible became the standard Bible version for the Reformed community. 3) Calvin's Commentaries, for a more comprehensive and "scholarly" Reformed position. Along with these commentaries, I will provide plenty of further exegetical explanations, but never outside historic Christian belief. I am a contender of the Christian faith once and for all delivered to the saints ( Jude 1:3).
Question 1) What wrath, kingdom, and harvest was "at hand" in (Mt. 3:2-12) and when was the "chaff" thrown into unquenchable fire? Is there a theological and contextual connection between this harvest and the one described in Matthew 13, John 4, Rev. 14, 1 Cor. 15?
ANSWER 1 Actually, as can be seen there are 3 questions posed here.
a) What wrath, kingdom, and harvest was "at hand" in Mt 3:2-12?
b) When was the "chaff" thrown into the unquenchable fire?
c) Is there a theological and contextual connection between this harvest and the one describe in Mt 13, John 4, Rev 14, and 1 Cor 15?
First, ANSWER (1a)
I wonder why we don't start with verse 1 of Mt 3, which sets up the context. This is John the Baptist, the last of the O.T. prophets speaking about the coming kingdom, a kingdom long coming. The "fullness of time" had come -- not in AD70 but at the start of Jesus' ministry. How can this be? Did this mean everything was fulfilled in 30AD? Of course not. Specifically to the wrath, verse 7 is directed to the Pharisees. Verse 12 speaks of the " gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." First, let us consider the implied hyperpreterist premise; that this happened in AD70, and was the same as the final judgment. If this is so, then we wonder why all hyperpreterists are not either, "logically" universalists or annihilationists, since according to their own premises, there is no more judgment, no more gathering of wheat or burning up of the chaff.
Now, for the Christian interpretation, About the kingdom being "at hand/near" --
"...the covenant of grace, the opening of the kingdom of heaven to all believers, by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a kingdom of which Christ is the Sovereign, and we must be the willing, loyal subjects of it. It is a kingdom of heaven, not of this world, a spiritual kingdom: its original from heaven, its tendency to heaven. John preached this as at hand; then it was at the door; to us it is come, by the pouring out of the Spirit, and the full exhibition of the riches of gospel-grace." -- Mt Henry
"The kingdom of Messiah, whose government will be heavenly, and nothing but heavenly. -- Geneva notes (Did the kingdom start in AD30 or AD70???)
"The kingdom of God among men is nothing else than a restoration to a happy life; or, in other words, it is true and everlasting happiness. When John says, that the kingdom of God is at hand, his meaning is, that men, who were alienated from the righteousness of God, and banished from the kingdom of heaven, must be again gathered to God, and live under his guidance...In a word, the kingdom of heaven is nothing else than 'newness of life,'" -- Calvin
So, as exampled by the more "dispensational-like" Mt Henry to the fully Reformed Calvin, this idea of the coming kingdom WASN'T merely something to happen at AD70 as the hyperpreterist premise would imply, but began at the very moment of the preaching of the Gospel and was a "gathering" of alienated men to live once again under the guidance of God. Unfortunately, much of hyperpreterism is merely a reaction to 200 years of Dispensationalism's influence, wherein they see the kingdom as not being yet here.
As for the "wrath" and "harvest", it too in this specific instance spoke of the dividing of those who from that time to present are either living with or without the guidance of God.
"For a good part of men, in order to escape the wrath of God, withdraw themselves from his guidance and authority. But all that the sinner gains by fleeing from God, is to provoke more and more the wrath of God against him...because God then separates his own people from the reprobate, and because his wrath is kindled anew by the ingratitude of the world. So that we have no reason to wonder, if the preaching of the gospel and the coming of Christ laid the axe for cutting down barren trees, or if the same causes daily advance the wrath of God against the wicked." -- Calvin
Hyperpretrists, be it with the concept of "coming in/on/with the clouds", or "resurrection", or "judgment" seem to be myopic in that they want to always relate everything to a limited AD70 context. This is the start of the hyperpreterist folly.
As pointed out in Answer (1a), the historic Christian position is that this dividing is a general dividing of those entering the kingdom Jesus announced and initiated during His earthly ministry against those who would to even this present day be outside that guidance. Of course, the physical example of that division was the Jewish/Israelite rejection of Jesus as their Messiah and the ultimate downfall of the Jewish/Israelite religion. But again, it doesn't only relate to those AD70 events, otherwise to be "logical" and consistent, hyperpreterists should be either universalists or annihilationists. They can't have a "fulfillment" with ongoing application/manifestation and yet deny that same route to historic Christianity which doesn't limit these fulfillments to AD70 alone.
First, in almost every question posed by a hyperpreterist (or any cultist) we must consider what is the behind or the premise motivator of the question. In this case, the hyperpreterist is trying to limit the dividing to an AD70 only fulfillment. Let us keep that in focus as we answer this question. Now, of course there is a "theological connection" between the harvest in Mt 3 and Mt 13, but a "theological connection" doesn't mean they are the exact same thing. There is a "theological connection" between the bonding of Adam and Eve and the bonding of Christ with the Church, yet they are not the exact same thing. Historic Christianity has interpreted Mt 13; of the good seed "Gospel" sown on different types of "ground/hearts" and the subsequent "harvest" or/and failure to produce fruit and "harvest" as both immediate context of whenever someone hears the Gospel, to the eventual "harvest/judgment".
"There are eight parables recorded in this chapter, which are designed to represent the kingdom of heaven, the method of planting the gospel kingdom in the world, and of its growth and success." - Mt Henry
"Christ shows in another parable of the evil seed mixed with the good, that the Church will never be free and rid of offences, both in doctrine and manners, until the day appointed for the restoring of all things comes, and therefore the faithful have to arm themselves with patience and steadfastness." - Geneva notes
"It may only be necessary, for the present, to remind the reader, that if those who ran from distant places to Christ, like hungry persons, are compared to an unproductive and barren soil, we need not wonder if, in our own day, the Gospel does not yield fruit in many, of whom some are lazy and sluggish, others hear with indifference, and others are scarcely drawn even to hear...The general truth conveyed is, that the doctrine of the Gospel, when it is scattered like seed, is not everywhere fruitful; because it does not always meet with a fertile and well cultivated soil...Christ does not now speak of the perfection of faith, but only points out those in whom the word of God yields fruit...This [phrase of "casting them into a furnace of fire"] is a metaphorical expression; for, as the infinite glory which is laid up for the sons of God so far exceeds all our senses, that we cannot find words to express it, so the punishment which awaits the reprobate is incomprehensible, and is therefore shadowed out according to the measure of our capacity...But as soon as Christ has gathered a small flock for himself, many hypocrites mingle with it, persons of immoral lives creep in, nay, many wicked men insinuate themselves; in consequence of which, numerous stains pollute that holy assembly, which Christ has separated for himself." - Calvin1 2 3.
So, as you can see; the Christian interpretation of Mt 13 and the concept of the the Gospel seed falling on different ground/hearts, and the fruit or lack of it, and the harvest is considered to have ultimate "theological connection" to the final judgment BUT also and immediate "theological connection" the moment the Gospel is preached. This is the Christian interpretation.
John 4, especially verse 34-38 are also of these same sow-reap/harvest theme, and here too the Christian interpretation is as it is with Mt 13.
"...crowds of Samaritans are coming out of the town over the fields that are ready to receive the gospel;" probably there were many now in view. People's forwardness to hear the word is a great excitement to ministers' diligence and liveliness in preaching it...This, therefore, was a time for the preachers of the gospel to apply themselves to their work with the utmost vigour, to thrust in their sickle, when the harvest was ripe, Rev. 14:15. It was necessary to work now, pity that such a season should be let slip. If the corn that is ripe be not reaped, it will shed and be lost, and the fowls will pick it up. If souls that are under convictions, and have some good inclinations, be not helped now, their hopeful beginnings will come to nothing, and they will be a prey to pretenders." - Mt Henry (notice even the connection to Rev 14)
"When the spiritual corn is ripe, we must not linger, for so the children of this world would condemn us...The doctrine of the prophets was as it were a sowing time, and the doctrine of the gospel, as the harvest: and there is an excellent agreement between them both, and the ministers of them both." -- Geneva notes
"In short, since the coming of Christ brought along with it present salvation, we need not wonder if the Gospel, by which the door of the heavenly kingdom is opened, be called the harvest of the doctrine of the Prophets. And yet it is not at all inconsistent with this statement, that the Fathers under the Law were gathered into God's barn; but this comparison must be referred to the manner of teaching; for, as the infancy of the Church lasted to the end of the Law, but, as soon as the Gospel had been preached, it immediately arrived at manhood, so at that time the salvation began to ripen, of which the sowing only had been accomplished by the Prophets... Judea was indeed the Lord's peculiar field, which he had cultivated by the Prophets, but, as some small portion of seed had been carried into Samaria, it is not without reason that Christ says that there also it reached maturity. If it be objected that the Apostles were chosen to publish the Gospel throughout the whole world, the reply is easy, that Christ spoke in a manner suited to the time, with this exception, that, on account of the expectation of the fruit which already was nearly ripe, he commends in the Samaritans the seed of prophetic doctrine, though mixed and blended with many weeds or corruptions." - Calvin
Again, the Christian interpretation of John 4, like Mt 13 is that of immediate sowing, reaping and harvest of the Gospel in the hearts of men, both at that immediate context with the Samaritans to today with anyone that hears the Gospel preached. The urgency is always there.
But so that Sullivan and his fellow hyperpreterists will be denied any opportunity to claim I have not answered all of their questions, I will continue to Rev 14 and 1 Cor 15, though we belabor the point.
Rev 14, especially verses 14-20 as already alluded to in the Mt Henry commentary on John 4:34-38, has "theological connections" in the same way as all of these sowing, reaping and harvest of the Gospel in the hearts of men passages have. However, here in Rev 14, we see historic Christianity laying more emphasis on the final judgment.
"Some think that these two [two angels with sickles] are only different emblems of the same judgment; others that they refer to distinct events of providence before the end of all things...But here we are left of doubtful conjectures. Perhaps this great event has not yet had its accomplishment, but the vision is for an appointed time; and therefore, though it may seem to tarry, we are to wait for it." - Mt Henry
"Have you seen how since the time that the light of the gospel began to shine out, and since prophecy or preaching by the grace of God was raised up again, horrible wars have been kindled in the world? how much human flesh has been thrown to the earth by this divine reaping? how much blood (alas for woe) has overflown for these 100 years almost? all history cries out, and our age (if ever before) is now in horror by reason of the rage of the sickle which Antichrist calls for. In this place is the first type, that is of the harvest." - Geneva notes (applying the reaping and harvest to the time up to and of the Reformation)
Calvin did not comment on Rev 14 in his commentaries, however unlike how hyperpreterists often try to portray, it does NOT mean that Calvin didn't interact with eschatology, as we most certainly see he did. The book of Revelation is considered a summary of eschatology in general, thus when we read Jesus' own eschatology pointed out specifically in the Olivet Discourse, we certainly have historic Christian commentary on those books and chapters.
As for the conclusion on Rev 14, we can see that although it appears the historic Christian interpretation places fulfillment at the final judgment, it is careful to warn the reader about how quickly people can go into "doubtful conjectures" which is the majority of the hyperpreterist "hermeneutic", since their theology is based on speculations about what may or may not have happened in AD70 and after -- since the Bible speaks of nothing after AD70, except that the Gospel continues to advance, the Church continues to exist and that the culmination is AFTER that time, wherever that may be.
Onto 1 Cor 15, especially verses 35-44 which keep to the sow-reap-harvest theme being addressed in this answer. Hyperpreterists like to try to use 1 Cor 15 to advocate for merely a 1st-century "spiritual resurrection". Let's see how historic Christianity has interpreted this text. One thing that should be pointed out here is that this "sowing" in 1 Cor 15, ISN'T the same as sowing the Gospel in Mt 13, John 4, and Rev 14. This demonstrates again the folly of hyperpreterists shoehorning words to one definition.
"The apostle comes now to answer a plausible and principal objection against the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead...Such sort of men those seem to have been who among the Corinthians denied the resurrection of the dead, and object here, "How are they raised? How should they be raised? Is it not utterly impossible?" The other part of the objection is about the quality of their bodies...The former objection is that of those who opposed the doctrine, the latter the enquiry of curious doubters...this [talk of different kinds of bodies] is to intimate to us that the bodies of the dead, when they rise, will be so far changed, that they will be fitted for the heavenly regions...All this carries an intimation along with it that it must be as easy to divine power to raise the dead, and recover their mouldered bodies, as out of the same materials to form so many different kinds of flesh and plants, and, for aught we know, celestial bodies as well as terrestrial ones...It is laid in the earth, a poor helpless thing, wholly in the power of death, deprived of all vital capacities and powers, of life and strength: it is utterly unable to move or stir. But when we arise our bodies will have heavenly life and vigour infused into them; they will be hale, and firm, and durable, and lively, and liable no more to any infirmity, weakness, or decay...The sum is that the bodies of the saints, when they shall rise again, will be greatly changed from what they are now, and much for the better. They are now corruptible, flesh and blood; they will be then incorruptible, glorious, and spiritual bodies, fitted to the celestial world and state, where they are ever afterwards to dwell, and have their eternal inheritance." - Mt Henry
"...seeds are sown, and rot, and yet nonetheless they are far from perishing, but rather they grow up far more beautiful. And whereas they are sown naked and dry, they spring up green from death by the power of God: and does it seem incredible to you that our bodies should rise from corruption, and that endued with a far more excellent quality?...Therefore there is no reason why we should reject either the resurrection of the bodies, or the changing of them into a better state, as a thing impossible, or strange...He applies both the earthly naturalness of Adam (if I may so say) to our bodies, so long as they are naturally conversant upon earth, that is, in this life, and in the grave. And also the spirituality of Christ to our same bodies, after they are risen again" - Geneva notes
"There is nothing that is more at variance with human reason than this article of faith. For who but God alone could persuade us that bodies, which are now liable to corruption, will, after having rotted away, or after they have been consumed by fire, or torn in pieces by wild beasts, will not merely be restored entire, but in a greatly better condition. Do not all our apprehensions of things straightway reject this as a thing fabulous, nay, most absurd?...For he [Paul] shows, that the resurrection is so far from being against nature, that we have every day a clear illustration of it in the course of nature itself - in the growth of the fruits of the earth...God clearly shows, that it is no difficult thing with him to renew our bodies by changing the present condition of things...For he [Paul] is not arguing as to what difference of condition there will be among the saints after the resurrection, but in what respect our bodies at present differ from those that we will one day receive...Christ will change our vile body, that he may make it like to his own glorious body...Let us, however, always bear in mind, what we have seen previously - that the substance of the body is the same, and that it is the quality only that is here treated of...But then it [the image Adam being conformed to the image of Christ within us] will be fully restored both in body and in soul, and what is now begun will be perfected" - Calvin
Unfortunately, hyperpreterists are reacting to 200 years of Dispensational influence that almost brings to mind carcasses popping out of the grave, simply being reanimated and flitting up through the air. The historic Christian interpretation, as you can see does NOT simply have a human body being reanimated but has God making a significant qualitative change to it -- though not completely discarding the first body, anymore than Jesus' earthly body was discarded when He was resurrected.
Question 2) Contextually, what "end of the age" is under discussion in (Mt. 24:3ff.)? What "orthodox" view are we supposed to follow as you lead us out of our cult? Is it that this is addressing the end of the old-covenant age, or the new? What verses apply to an AD 70 coming and which ones to a future? Do verses 30-31 refer to the resurrection of the flesh at the end of time as some "orthodox" Reformed theologians insist based upon the historic record of the church, or was this Christ coming on the clouds - a spiritual event/gathering that happened in A.D. 70 and is continuing to be applied and fulfilled spiritually today? What connections are there to the OD and 1 and; 2 Thessalonians? Please list which are "obvious parallels" and which are not? What are AD 70 events that were fulfilled in 1 and; 2 Thess. and which are not?
What are the "all these things" in Daniel 12:7? Contextually, is not the resurrection and judgment among those "things"? What are the eschatological events Jesus is addressing in Matthew 24:15 and Luke 21:20-22? What are the events Peter is saying would be fulfilled in his day in 1 Peter 1:4-12?
Just as with question 1, it is really multiple questions, as if hyperpreterists are throwing as much at the wall as they can to see what might stick. However, to satisfied the promise, I will answer all of these original question, no matte how convoluted they have been posed.
In regards to what "end of the age" means contextually in Mt 24:3 (and really in Mk 13:4 and Lk 21:7), again hyperpreterism suffers from a Dispensational reactionary focus. It does not take much reading for a Christian to see that historic Christianity has interpreted these verses as apply to the end of the OT age.
"I rather incline to think that their question looked no further than the event Christ now foretold; but it appears by other passages, that they had very confused thoughts of future events; so that perhaps it is not possible to put any certain construction upon this question of theirs.
But Christ, in his answer, though he does not expressly rectify the mistakes of his disciples (that must be done by the pouring out of the Spirit), yet looks further than their question, and instructs his church, not only concerning the great events of that age, the destruction of Jerusalem, but concerning his second coming at the end of time..." - Mt Henry
"The destruction of the temple, city, and whole nation is foretold, and the troubles of the Church: but yet there are many comforts added, and last of all, the end of the world is described." - Geneva notes
"Accordingly, as soon as Christ said that the temple would be destroyed, their thoughts immediately turned to the end of the world; and-as one error leads to another-having been convinced that, as soon as the reign of Christ should commence, they would be in every respect happy, they leave warfare out of the account, and fly all at once to a triumph. They associate the coming of Christ and the end of the world as things inseparable from each other; and by the end of the world they mean the restoration of all things, so that nothing may be wanting to complete the happiness of the godly. We now perceive that they leap at once to various questions, because they had given way to these foolish imaginations, that the temple could not fall without shaking the whole world; that the termination of the shadows of the Law, and of the whole world, would be the same; that it would be immediately followed by the exhibition of the glory of Christ's kingdom, which would make the children of God perfectly happy; that a visible renovation of the world was at hand, which would instantly bring order out of a state of confusion...They received an answer very different from what they had expected; for whereas they were eager for a triumph, as if they had already finished their warfare, Christ exhorts them to long patience...Now while this chapter contains admonitions highly useful for regulating the course of our life, we see that, by a wonderful purpose of God, the mistake into which the apostles fell is made to turn to our advantage. The amount of the present instruction is, that the preaching of the Gospel is like sowing the seed, and therefore we ought to wait patiently for the time of reaping..." - Calvin
As we see, the overall Christian interpretation of this text understands a "theological connection" to the immediate events of the first-century BUT it also understands an application to the future, just as we saw with the sowing, reaping and harvest. This is what eludes hyperpreterism; they want to make everything limited to AD70.
The "orthodox" view of "end of the age" is as stated above, but see hyperpreterists want to pretend there is no consistent view. Again, they want to make it out that 2000 years of Christian interpretation on the "end of the age" has been the same as the Dispensationalists' view and not until the hyperpreterists came along has there been a correct view. Unfortunately, many well-meaning Christians DO in fact find the historic Christian view to be strange, simply because they have only had the influence of Dispensationalism. The question by Sullivan about " leading him out of his cult" is no more a sincere question than all of the questions he has posed. He has stated several times he doesn't care what answers I give, because like a true hyperpreterist, Sullivan dismisses the historic Christian interpretation with a wave of the hand, as if Sullivan and his fellow hyperpreterists know more than all of the billions of Christians that have come before them. Hyperpreterists suffer from Proverbs 26:12.
As to which verses apply only to AD70 and only to some future time, this is one of the main issues with hyperpreterism; it has a myopic limiting of verses to only one instance. It is no wonder then, they get upset when guys like the hyperpreterist "Rivers of Eden", come along and CONSISTENTLY apply the hyperpreterist hermeneutic to "all things fulfilled". (see example 1 and 2). Hyperpreterists CAN'T have it both ways. They can't tell historic Christianity that it can't see fulfillment in the first-century and application and manifestation in the yet future. This attempt at arbitrary verse splitting by some so-called "Partial Preterists" has only given the hyperpreterists more ammo. Since God speaks; yes directly to humans in time and space, but since He is eternal much of the Bible is posed as a reoccurring past tense, present tense and future tense. This is much of what Jesus' discussion with Martha was about in John 11 and Nicodemus in John and Peter in 1 Pet 1:22-23. There is what is called the "already-not-yet" concept, where we see Jesus speaking of things happening immediately, having happened in the past, and yet to happen in the future. Hyperpreterists can't stand this concept yet they too must employ it, otherwise they couldn't have had a Resurrection in AD70 since Jesus told Nicodemus and Martha that a person is "born again" or "resurrected" to never die at the moment of belief.
Matthew 24:30-31 is cited by hyperpreterists because many hyperpreterists like to equate "gathering the Elect" with the Resurrection. Again, as pointed out in Answer 2c, hyperpreterists can't ignore the "already-not-yet" model and claim the resurrection was in AD70 when Jesus clearly said anyone who believes on Him had "resurrection" life immediately upon belief. However, to "gather the Elect" in the case of Mt 24:30-31 is less about resurrection and more about the general spread of Christianity beyond just being a Judea-movement.
"Another thing remarkable concerning the gospel, was, its strange success in those places to which is was spread; it gathered in multitudes, not by external compulsion, but as it were by such a natural instinct and inclination, as brings the birds of prey to their prey; for wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together (v. 28), where Christ is preached, souls will be gathered in to him. The lifting up of Christ from the earth, that is, the preaching of Christ crucified, which, one would think, should drive all men from him, will draw all men to him, according to Jacob's prophecy, that to him shall the gathering of the people be...and the gathering of his elect (v. 31) signifies the delivering of a remnant from this sin and ruin." - Mt Henry
"He describes the effect of his power, that he will send his angels to gather his elect from the most distant parts of the world; for by the extremity of heaven is meant the most distant region. But Christ speaks hyperbolically, in order to show that the elect, even though they were carried away from the earth and scattered in the air, will again be gathered, so to be united in the enjoyment of eternal life under Him as their head, and enjoy the expected inheritance; for Christ intended to console his disciples, that they might not be altogether discouraged by the lamentable dispersion of the Church." - Calvin
As we can see, there is no reference to this gathering to resurrection, yet even if there were, the word "gather" can be used in more than one context. Note how Calvin specifically says Jesus was speaking "hyperbolically". Christ continues to "gather" the elect from all corners of the world.
Sullivan asked this question before about the connection between the Olivet Discourse and Thes -- This was ANSWERED previously. See: and
Next, Sullivan rattles off a barrage of questions which we shall attempt to do as the Bible states, do all things orderly, and answer orderly. First, about the "all things" in Dan 12:7. Hyperpreterists folly is they get a hammer and then begin to see nails everywhere. I would think that Sullivan claiming to be "Reformed" would understand that when the Bible uses words like "all", it is constrained to the context. For example, Mt 3:5 says all of Judea and the whole region of Jordan went out to see John the Baptist. But more specifically, in Lk 18:31 Jesus specifically told the disciples," We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled." So much for waiting until AD70, if we took the hyperpreterists' shoehorn approach to Scripture. So, in Dan 12:7 when we read "all these things will be fulfilled/completed/finished" we have to understand how Scripture speaks.
As to Mt 24:15, which speaks of the abomination of desolation, it appears Sullivan is trying to pin the Dispensational interpretation onto historic Christianity. It is however ironic that on Sullivan's own forum (PreteristCosmos), many of his fellow hyperpreterists are presently reminiscing how they have been long term Dispensationalists (31 years for one poster). This is often the problem with hyperpreterism, it is merely a knee-jerk reaction or over reaction to Dispensationalism, not realizing or acknowledging that Dispensationalism doesn't represent the bulk of historic Christian interpretation.
"Some understand by this an image, or statue, set up in the temple by some of the Roman governors, which was very offensive to the Jews, provoked them to rebel, and so brought the desolation upon them...Others choose to expound it by the parallel place (Lu. 21:20), when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies. Jerusalem was the holy city, Canaan the holy land, the Mount Moriah, which lay about Jerusalem, for its nearness to the temple was, they thought in a particular manner holy ground; on the country lying round about Jerusalem the Roman army was encamped, that was the abomination that made desolate...Christ refers them to that prophecy of Daniel, that they might see how the ruin of their city and temple was spoken of in the Old Testament, which would both confirm his prediction, and take off the odium of it. They might likewise from thence gather the time of it-soon after the cutting off of Messiah the prince; the sin that procured it-their rejecting him, and the certainty of it-it is a desolation determined. As Christ by his precepts confirmed the law, so by his predictions he confirmed the prophecies of the Old Testament" - Mt Henry
"The abomination of desolation, that is to say, the one who all men detest and cannot abide, because of the foul and shameful filthiness of it: and he speaks of the idols that were set up in the temple, or as others think, he meant the marring of the doctrine in the Church." - Geneva notes
"Because the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem, together with the overthrow of the whole Jewish government, was (as we have already said) a thing incredible, and because it might be thought strange, that the disciples could not be saved without being torn from that nation, to which had been committed the adoption and the covenant (Romans 9:4) of eternal salvation, Christ confirms both by the testimony of Daniel As if he had said, That you may not be too strongly attached to the temple and to the ceremonies of the Law, God has limited them to a fixed time, and has long ago declared, that when the Redeemer should come, sacrifices would cease; and that it may not give you uneasiness to be cut off from your own nation, God has also forewarned his people, that in due time it would be rejected." - Calvin
As you can see, the historic Christian interpretation of what the abomination of desolation WAS, is not like the wild-eye fancies of Dispensationalism and its revived Roman Empire and rebuilt temples. Hyperpreterists, being so heavily influenced by Dispensationalism miss this point. Along with answering about Mt 24:15, we can see that even in the Mt Henry commentary there is mention of the NEXT "proof-text" by this hyperpreterist; Lk 21:20 and the surrounding of Jerusalem. However Sullivan is most likely trying to get an interpretation of the phrase "fulfillment of all that has been written" in verse 22. Again, the shoehorn effect of hyperpreterism. I wonder how hyperpreterists can have any ongoing application if they REALLY think this "fulfillment of all that has been written" means everything. If this is really their thought, they should join the consistent hyperpreterist, "Rivers of Eden".
I'm not certain what Sullivan stumbles over with 1 Pet 1:4-12, seeing how "salvation" comes immediately upon belief. I suppose he wants his hyperpreterism-dispensational synthesization to either make salvation come in AD70 or postpone it until some future date. Again, as Jesus pointed out to Nicodemus and Martha, their resurrection was immediate AND yet future. The same is true of salvation.
Question 3) Did the Law and the Prophets predict the Second Coming, judgment, Resurrection, and end of the planet earth? If so what are those passages? Did the "heavens and earth" of the old covenant pass away in A.D. 70? If so please cite those passages. Roderick, help us out and show us which "orthodox" view of the passing of the heavens and earth we are supposed to follow regarding Mt. 5:17-18; 2 Peter 3; 1 John 2:17; and Rev. 21:1ff.? Do you believe the Mosaic old-covenant law has passed and has been fulfilled? Is there today a national and ethnic Israel and "Jew" awaiting the promises of their old-covenant torah to be fulfilled? If the Mosaic law passed and has been fulfilled please cite those passages. If not, please cite those passages.
We trudge along answering the disorganized, multiple-part false premise questions by Sullivan. First, note how Sullivan once again combines the Second Coming, the Judgment, the Resurrection and a supposed "end of the planet earth" together. Note that even the order is wrong. Biblically, resurrection comes BEFORE the Judgment. But further, Sullivan's constant Dispensationalist influence shows through in how he attributes to historic Christianity, an "end of the planet earth". What we've said in the 4 point historic Christian eschatology is that there will eventually be culmination for humanity. Whatever that entails isn't necessarily spelled out in Scripture.
The short answer to Sullivans question is YES, the Law and Prophets (the OT) did predict the 3 main eschatological events. However, I will merely cite some verses and let Sullivan look them up. When it comes to the Second Coming, the Jewish concept of the Messiah was that He would come and rule physically from Jerusalem forever. We see this even in a statement made to Jesus. --John 12:34 " We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up [die]'? Who is this 'Son of Man'? " So, much of the OT makes it sound like the Messiah only comes once. Jesus came revealing many things that were not as clear to the OT saints who were operating "behind the veil of Moses" (Ex 34:35, 2 Cor 3:13-15) as demonstrated in Mt 19:18 when Jesus clarifies what God intended from the beginning concerning monogamous marriage.
  • Second Coming - Dan 9:26, Zech 14:1-9
  • Resurrection - Is 26:19, Job 19:25-26, Dan 12:2
  • Judgment - Gen 18:25, 1 Sam 2:10, 1 Chron 16:33
There is no need to cite any verses about an end to the planet earth, since that is Sullivan's false premise he is trying to force onto historic Christianity.
Sullivan continuing to find something that might stick then trots out the implied notion that "heavens and earth" is always seen as physical by historic Christianity. He then goes on to disparage Christianity as it there really is no "orthodox" position when we have ALREADY demonstrated that there are 4 main, basic eschatological points that ALL of historic Christianity has believed and taught since before and AFTER AD70. If Sullivan really wants to leave the cult of hyperpreterism, he could start by at least holding to those 4 main points. Sullivan's desire ISN'T to really be convinced, except to be wise in his own eyes (Proverbs 26:12). Now, as for the question as bogus as it is; if we define the "heavens and earth" as the seat of the Jewish economy, then yes every indication is that it did indeed pass away at its demise in AD70. Former hyperpreterist, Todd Dennis has done a fine job of cataloguing some commentaries that point sometimes using "heavens and earth" to indicate the Jewish world -- But Sullivan is slyly trying to equate all mention of "heavens and earth" to the same thing. For example, Mt 5:17-18 is an idiom as well as 1 John 2:17. Whereas 2 Pet 3:11-13 makes a more specific reference which could be interpreted as physical yet here it how historic Christianity has interpreted the text.
"Here we have an awful account of the final dissolution of the world, and which we are yet more nearly concerned in. The ruin that came upon the world and its inhabitants by the flood, we read, and hear, and think of, with concern, though those who were swept away by it were such as we never knew; but the judgment here spoken of is yet to come, and will surely come, though we know not when, nor upon what particular age or generation of men; and therefore we are not, we cannot be, sure that it may not happen in our own times...but the ruin which yet awaits this world, whenever it comes, will be absolutely a universal one; there will not be any part but what the devouring flames will seize upon, not a sanctuary left any where for the inhabitants to flee to, not a single spot in all this world where any one of them can be safe." - Mt Henry
"A very short description of the last destruction of the world, but in such sort as nothing could be spoken more gravely." - Geneva notes
"But the heavens and the earth which are now. He does not infer this as the consequence; for his purpose was no other than to dissipate the craftiness of scoffers respecting the perpetual state of nature, and we see many such at this day who being slightly embued with the rudiments of philosophy, only hunt after profane speculations, in order that they may pass themselves off as great philosophers. But it now appears quite evident from what has been said, that there is nothing unreasonable in the declaration made by the Lord, that the heaven and the earth shall hereafter be consumed by fire, because the reason for the fire is the same as that for the water. For it was a common saying even among the ancients, that from these two chief elements all things have proceeded. But as he had to do with the ungodly, he speaks expressly of their destruction." - Calvin
As we can see, there is a sense of some sort of universal destruction but Calvin also implies that God is speaking expressly of the destruction of the ungodly. At any rate, all usages of the phrase "heavens and earth" are not the same. No amount of a hyperpreterist quoting Eph 3:20 ("world without end") in and attempt to cancel out one verse with another; especially since in translations other than the KJV from where that quote comes, the phrase is interpreted as "generations, ages forever and ever" and per the context seems to apply to the eternal glory of Christ, not the world/planet. See various translations.
So, yes the Old Covenant has "passed away" as far as it was "fulfilled" in Christ -- Mt 5:17
Why does Sullivan ask about the status of a national or ethnic Israel/Jew? Again, he is trying to foist upon historic Christianity a Dispensationalist notion that somehow God isn't done with the OC people, as if there is a separate plan for them that will resume after God finished with the "Gentiles". How long must we point out Sullivan's influence by Dispensationalism and utter ignorance of historic Christianity's position on Israel/Jews? I think the issue is that many hyperpreterists, like Ward Fenley so hate any notion of Israel or the Jews, that they want to see modern Israel dismantled. Indeed, many hyperpreterist think the only reason Muslims are hostile to America is because we support modern Israel. They are again ignorant of the FACT, that since America's very founding before there was a modern Israel the Muslims have been hostile to the West and America as well. See reference. There is a difference between "national", "ethnic", and "covenantal" Israel, though to see hyperpreterists use these terms they make them all mean the same thing as they often do with other terms. Of course there is a "national" and "ethnic" Israel and Jews today, however that has nothing to do with a "covenantal" Israel/Jew. That was distinguished in Gal 3:28 and Col 3:11. The special status that God afforded the "sons of Abraham" back in Deut 7:7-9 came to its fruition with the people of Christ. Compare with Mt 3:9 and 1 Pet 2:9-10 wherein Christians are that special people in realization.
Reformed folk are often accused of advocating "Replacement Theology", wherein it is claimed we "replace" Israel with the Church. Rather it is "fulfillment theology" where the Church in Christ is the fulfillment of Israel. You would think Sullivan would know this, and I think he does but his motivation for posing such questions isn't to get at truth, it is to promote hyperpreterism and pin Dispensationalism onto historic Christianity.
As for the passing of the Mosaic Law, people define that differently. Do we mean only the 10 Commandments or do we mean all things added, such as the Levitical codes? Either way, I think again the only verses that need to be cited are Mt 5:17, Mt 22:40, Rom 8:4, Heb 8:6, and Heb 12:24 which doesn't abrogate the Law but has put its focus where it always was intended, internally. Sullivan knows this, he is just trying to use this notion to claim "if the Law is passed, then 'all things' must be fulfilled" as per Mt 5:18. The hyperpreterist contention is that if all things AREN'T fulfilled then we should be keeping every jot and tittle of the Law. That wasn't even the case BEFORE AD70, much of the Law was already being lived internally among Christians as Gal 5:14 examples. (Readers, Sullivan will not take the time to look at the verses referenced, but I urge you to)
Question 4) How many Great Commissions does the NT teach? If one please cite. If two please cite. Are we currently living in the "last days"? Is the "last days" in the OT and NT addressing the end of the OC age or the NC age? Which "orthodox" view are we supposed to believe and follow in being led out of our mindless heresy in identifying when the "last days" ended or will end - Owen, Chilton, DeMar, Jordan, Sproul, or Mathison?
Right off the bat, Sullivan launches into yet another false premise based on his Dispensationalism influences.
His false premise is that accordingly the Great Commission can't be fulfilled unless everyone has heard the Gospel. He gets this from combining Mt 28:18-20 where Jesus instructs the disciples to go making disciples of all nations and baptizing them and teaching them; and that He would be with them until the very end of the age. With Mt 24:14 where the Gospel is preached to the whole world and then end comes. Then, like a good hyperpreterist Sullivan now doubt wants to reference verses like Col 1:23 where it says the Gospel had been preached to "every creature under earth". So, from all this we are to conclude; 1) the Great Commission was constrained to the first century 2) that the end came in the first century, 3) that the Gospel has been preached to all the world. I wonder then why any hyperpreterist evangelizes...well maybe it isn't the Gospel they are preaching when they spend time at ETS and such places trying to convince people of their hyperpreterism.
The specific "commission" in Mt 28:18-20 to the disciples was for them to go forth in put into practice what Jesus had hand-picked them to do -- found the Church (Eph 2:20), however the commission doesn't stop there as Christians from generation to generation are to pattern themselves after Christ and the apostles in preaching the Gospel to "every creature under heaven". Again, UNLESS Sullivan wants to claim we should stop preaching the Gospel because it was supposedly completed in Col 1:23???
Historic Christianity agrees, or rather I agree with historic Christianity's interpretation once again, unlike Sullivan and his fellow hyperpreterists who at every turn are trying to disparage and hold in contempt the historic Christian interpretation.
"The commission he gives to those whom he sent forth; Go ye therefore. This commission is given, (1.) To the apostles primarily, the chief ministers of state in Christ's kingdom, the architects that laid the foundation of the church. (2.) It is given to their successors, the ministers of the gospel, whose business it is to transmit the gospel from age to age, to the end of the world in time, as it was theirs to transmit it from nation to nation, to the end of the world in place, and no less necessary." - Mt Henry
"Christ not only encouraged the Apostles to full confidence in the discharge of their office, but confirmed the faith of his gospel in all ages...the Lord commands the ministers of the gospel to go to a distance, in order to spread the doctrine of salvation in every part of the world...It ought likewise to be remarked, that this was not spoken to the apostles alone; for the Lord promises his assistance not for a single age only, but even to the end of the world...In like manner, experience clearly shows in the present day, that the operations of Christ are carried on wonderfully in a secret manner, so that the gospel surmounts innumerable obstacles...[Christ] would defend his doctrine, so that his ministers may confidently expect to be victorious over the whole world." - Calvin
As pertaining to when or what the "last days" are or were, Sullivan implies reference to texts such as Acts 2:17 which was fulfilled at Pentecost, 2 Tim 3:1 which speaks of an at the time, future whereas Heb 1:2 indicates the "last days" were present in the first century. When we go to a movie and when it is over it says "The End" do we suppose there will be no more movies or that it was merely the end of that movie? In the same way, there are "last days" of many things. The Old Covenant was certainly in its "last days" in the first century. However, there are more "last days" to come unless Sullivan is ready to embrace "Rivers of Eden's" consistent and "logical" brand of hyperpreterism's premises and conclusions?
Note how Sullivan shows the typical mantra of hyperpreterists, as if historic Christianity is a chaos of opposing beliefs, yet Sullivan won't even start to get out of his "mindless heresy" by at least adopting the 4 main eschatological beliefs of historic Christianity. Instead, Sullivan wants to do everything he can to distance himself from historic Christianity, apparently even if that means creating an new OTHER-THAN-CHRISTIAN religion.
As for Chilton, DeMar, Jordan, Sproul, Talbot and some of these others; let them speak for themselves since they are the ones who get themselves in these messes by trying to be crafty and coming up with new eschatological systems like "Realized Preterism" rather than simply advocating the historic Christian eschatology that was once and for all delivered to the saints. Jude 1:3
Question 5) When was "every man" rewarded in (Mt. 16:27-28; Rev. 22:12)? What are the reward(s) and at what eschatological event would they be given? Is the book of Revelation addressing two comings or just one? Is it written in a recapitulation parallel structure or not? If so please explain. If not please explain. As you lead us out of our mindless cult, which "orthodox" view of Revelation are we supposed to follow: 1) The Book is only addressing one future Second Coming inseparably tied to the judgment and resurrection, or 2) The time texts are to be taken literally and apply to Christ's return in A.D. 70? Can we double fulfill the Book of Revelation or the prophecy of the Olivet discourse? If so what cannot be double fulfilled and what can and why? What "mystery" is John discussing in 10:6-7? What seventh and last trumpet in chapters 10-11 is being addressed and which "orthodox" Reformed view do we follow to see its parallels in the rest of the NT? When were "the dead" judged 11:18-19? When and how were the "living and the dead" judged in (1 Pet. 4:5, 7, 17)?
Well it looks like Sullivan waited until the last "question" to give it his all.
Like John 3:16 is the favorite isolated proof-text of Freewillers, so Mt. 16:27-28 is probably the favorite proof-text of hyperpreterists; especially verse 28. Let's take the verse 27 first which back in April of 2009 I extensively addressed here. Where has Sullivan been except perhaps stuck in his private interpretation "territory". Jesus talks about rewarding people,
"Observe, First, Jesus Christ will come as a Judge, to dispense rewards and punishments, infinitely exceeding the greatest that any earthly potentate has the dispensing of...Secondly, Men will then be rewarded, not according to their gains in this world, but according to their works, according to what they were and did. In that day, the treachery of backsliders will be punished with eternal destruction, and the constancy of faithful souls recompensed with a crown of life." - Mt Henry
"Christ places before our eyes the future judgment;...Christ summons believers to his judgment-seat, to lead them to reflect at all times that they lived for no other object than to long after that blessed redemption, which will be revealed at the proper time. The admonition is intended to inform us, that they do not strive in vain who set a higher value on the confession of faith than on their own life." - Calvin
So, as we see from these two commentaries there is an expectation of future judgment but within that Calvin shows that we Christians "at all times" to reflect on this end. This is the very thing that is often missing from Christianity today; basic holiness -- trying to live to our calling, not to gain merit or be self-righteous but as a reflection of the love Christ has bestowed toward us. We are being "rewarded" already. The context of Mt 16 from the first verse is that in AD70, the Jews would get their "reward" for rejecting the Messiah, and yet in the future there will be a final judgment.
This brings us to verse 28 -- " Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." From this, the hyperpreterists want us to conclude not all of Jesus' apostles would die before His Second Coming however it doesn't address the Second Coming but rather His "coming in His Kingdom". Despite what hyperpreterists believe, they are not the same thing. Jesus as assuredly about to/soon/at hand/shortly/within that generation/and before some standing there tasted death; come into His kingdom. This is even confirmed by Jesus' reply to the thief on the Cross. - Lk 23:42-43 Even more notice Jesus comment to the High Priest in Mt 26:64: " I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." How could this be if it was speaking of AD70 since the High Priest Caiaphas was most likely already elderly when Jesus said this and would have to wait almost 40 years before AD70? This "coming on the clouds" was what was referenced in Dan 7:13; the Son of Man "coming on the clouds" in glory and vindication not back to earth but before the Ancient of Days, the Father in Heaven. No, Mr. Sullivan it ISN'T just about Jesus ascension; it is about His vindication. It is about people realizing that He is the Messiah. -- Acts 3:13 and Acts 5:30.
So, there is no need to disavow the "time texts", in that indeed they do speak of Jesus' impending first century coming in the clouds; but not back to earth but before the Father in glory and power! And there certainly is no need to take things to the hyper ends and attempt to overthrow all of historic Christian interpretation by our own wild-eyed private interpretations.
The book of Revelation is a summary of the rest of the Bible and is written in a very cryptic style which has lent to fanatics of all sorts to seize upon it in misuse; why then should we expect different from hyperpreterists, a group even the Arians, the Nestorians, and the Arminians would reject as heretical. Since Revelation is addressing everything in summary and cryptic fashion it is not wise to use Revelation as our primary eschatological source. Jesus Himself has spoken more plainly about eschatology than the book of Revelation but fanatics of all sorts like to hide in Revelation's pages because therein they can confuse and lead people astray. The books speaks of all the various "comings" of Christ -- His first; earthly ministry, His coming in glory and power AND His Second Coming. The book cannot simply be called a recapitulation parallel as it is addressing so many topics in a very brief manner and some may or may not be in chronological order.
All the other questions Sullivan asks are so imbued with his false overarching hyperpreterist premises, the difficulty to unravel them further than I have already would be a book in itself.
First, let me ask Sullivan for forgiveness if I had previously not answered any of his ORIGINAL questions though in good faith I had believed I had in the 4 links posted at the start of this response. I will not squabble over it now but will accept Sullivan's charge that I had supposedly not answered his questions whether it was the case or not. However NOW with this lengthy response to all 5 "questions" I have answered ALL of Sullivan's questions even if I have answered specific ones generally. He should cease from saying I have not answered him, even if he does not like the answers I have provided. And YES, these answers contains lots of commentary references as well as Scripture references because I wanted to make sure I was not merely providing my "own view".
Whether Sullivan and his fellow hyperpreterists like it or not, the historic Christian position on basic eschatology is a UNITED position and has been the position the day before and the day after AD70. So, whatever hyperpreterism is, it is something OTHER-THAN-CHRISTIAN.
I do pray for Sullivan and his fellow hyperpreterists to come out of this heresy but until they DEAL WITH the overarching premise of hyperpreterism, which is that supposedly God, Jesus, the hand-picked apostles, and the Holy Spirit were such ineffective teachers that 2000 years of Christianity on eschatology has been in gross error -- until hyperpreterists DEAL WITH this, all of the engagement in their proof-texting is as productive as engaging a Mormon in their proof-texting without first addressing their claims of Joseph Smith jr being a prophet. I would suggest that Sullivan spends less time trying to look smart such as when he attempt to write articles about John McCain but did such a poor job on research that he kept referring to McCain as "MacCain" ( see here until he changes it). If this is the kind of "quality" work Sullivan expects me to take seriously, he'll be waiting a long, long time.
May God bless and keep those who are His,
Roderick Edwards Dec 2010 -- free to distribute without alteration

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