Sunday, December 12, 2010

Types of Preterists Reviewed

It is difficult to categorize something that is in constant flux, but since many people wonder how many types (factions and sub-factions) of preterists there are and how each developed, I will attempt to categorize the types of preterists -- with source documentation of course. I hope to offer resources that you will not find any place else, either among the hyperpreterists or those fighting against hyperpreterism. I'd especially warn against the wikipedia entry on Preterism, as it was mainly authored by hyperpreterists and slants definitively in the hyperpreterist direction. I will attempt to give links to NON-hyperpreterists sites for the non-hyperpreterist references, but of course expect to be linked to hyperpreterist sites for hyperpreterist references. I will sometimes utilize wikipedia reference specifically because those references are open source and can be publicly challenged.

I. Historic Christianity (always advocated some N.T. prophecies fulfilled - ref).
___1. Roman Catholicism (via Luis De Alcazar)
___2. Reformed/Protestant (always advocated much of Mt 24/Mk 13/Lk 21 fulfilled in AD70 & "Death" defeated -- ref#1, ref#2, ref#3)
_____A. Reconstructionists/Theonomists/"Partial Preterists" (1990s, Chilton, Sproul, Gentry, DeMar) Originally called themselves "Preterists" -- ref#1, ref#2, ref#3, ref#4-Chilton adopts "full" or hyperpreterism 1997. DeMar blurs the line between "partial-preterism" and hyperpreterism)
___3. Evangelicals (non-Reformed) (J.S. Russell, Hampden-Cook and others, mostly writing in the late 1800s, many of these authors had little impact at the time but are making inroads in the 21st century) Some of these authors went into universalism. - ref#1, ref#2, ref#3
___4. Modern "Partial-Orthodox-Historic Preterists" (this group has mainly grown from the work of Gentry, Sproul, DeMar and others, yet more are hearing just the premises and then launching into "preterism" without further reference to those men)

II. Heretical/Hyper/Full-Preterism (called "heretical" because it has not been demonstrated that anyone in ancient Christian history taught or believed it. "Heresy" in the basic sense, means to depart from accepted teaching. The label is NOT meant to be derogatory or "ad hom", it is etymologically accurate to label hyperpreterism a "heresy". As a matter of fact, of all the beliefs that have claimed to be "Christian" and yet have been labeled as "heresy", hyperpreterism most fits the definition since, whether we look at pre-Roman Catholicism, Roman Catholicism, Greek/Eastern Orthodox, Reformed/Protestant, Anabaptist, or Modern Evangelical ALL of these expressions of historic Christianity have held the exact unified eschatological basics in opposition to hyperpreterism. Called "hyper" again not as a derogatory label but grammatically "hyper" means to go beyond the original intent and scope. Heretical Preterism goes beyond any "preteristic" manifestations in historic Christianity -- ref)
___1. 19th Century Evangelical - Some authors from the Historic Christianity category #3 actually fell into muted forms of hyper-preterism. For example, J.S. Russell, author of "The Parousia" advocated many hyperpreterist beliefs EXCEPT that he still advocated a future millennium. These authors never gained wide acceptance in their life times and no real movement developed. -- ref#1
___2. "Church of Christ -- coC"/Transmillennialism (Max King, 1970s -- Although other authors in the 20th century had expressed forms of hyperpreterism, King was really the "founder" of modern hyperpreterism, as even his son Tim King relates on the back of the biographical book about Max King, Give Me This Mountain - "Now for the first time the founding story of fulfilled Bible prophecy is told. From its roots seventy years ago in West Virginia to its breakthroughs in biblical renewal today—all across the world." Although King originated in the coC denomination, it should not be understood that all of coC are hyperpreterists or apt to be hyperpreterists. As matter of fact, the coC was rocked by King's "70AD Doctrine" and opposed it vigorously -- ref#1, ref#2, ref#3. However, the coC is woefully unable to counter the hyperpreterist movement because of the coC founding principles -- which as the coC came out of the "Restoration Movement", the coC has as it's founding principle that the true Gospel and true Church ceased and thus had to "restored" -- ref. This plays squarely into the over-arching premise of hyperpreterism which claims either God was unable or unwilling to maintain the most basic eschatological understanding among the Church for 2000 years, or that 2000 years of united Christian eschatological interpretation has been in gross error. Once a person believes that kind of failure took place, it is easy to supplant historic Christianity with any kind of heresy. Thus, it should not be overlooked, that the first and still most vocal hyperpreterist leaders come from the coC denomination; Max King, Tim King, Don Preston, Terry Hall, Virgil Vaduva, Jack Scott, Wm Bell, Larry Siegle, Kurt Simmons, Ed Stevens and more. Lastly, Transmillennialism is a term trademarked by Tim King and Kevin Beck in an attempt to distance this group from the rising non-Kingite hyperpreterists. An early term utilized was "Covenant Eschatology" and is still often used by the coC hyperpreterists such as Don Preston.
_____A. Modern Hyper-Preterist Movement 1990s (Although there were a smattering of online hyperpreterist groups, perhaps the start was with the website, PreteristArchive ran by Todd Dennis. To follow came Planet Preterist ran by Romanian immigrant and son-in-law to Terry Hall; Virgil Vaduva. Many of the early sites "borrowed" material from Dennis' massive collection. It should be noted that Dennis is NO LONGER a hyperpreterist and does work against the movement. Planet Preterist was the premiere launching point for most would-be hyperpreterist leaders. Vaduva gave them a forum and organized conferences. At one point, Vaduva even attempted to trademark the term "preterism" and threatened to sue people who were critical of the movement; claiming the criticism was "creating business losses" ref#1, ref#2. Planet Preterist eventually waned as Vaduva tried to move it more into a post-modernist/Emergent/Universalistic direction. This is where I will relate the various hyperpreterist factions.
_________1. coC/Covenant Eschatology -- This group might be considered the "old guard" hyperpreterists. This would include men such as Don Preston, Wm Bell, Jack Scott, Virgil Vaduva and others. They mainly spend their time on speaking circuits at various hyperpreterist conferences or authoring books often over the same introductory hyperpreterist subjects.
_________2. Preterist Universalists -- Originally a rising group in the early years of 2000's but have dramatically waned. ref#1, ref#2
_________3. "Sovereign Grace Preterists" -- Originally a term coined by hyperpreterist teacher Ward Fenely, ref. This term was "borrowed" by other hyperpreterists that considered themselves, "Reformed". This "Reformed" group is more or less led by hyperpreterist teacher, Sam Frost, pupil of orthodox Reformed seminary president Dr. Kenneth Talbot of Whitefield Theological Seminary, ref. This faction also encompasses Ed Stevens' group, while Stevens was originally a coC hyperpreterist, he likes to call himself "Reformed" though it appears to be more a "RINO" form -- "Reformed in name only". Stevens maintains a private group and is relegated to the fringe of the movement ever since he attempted to teach a 1st-century rapture theory to explain why hyperpreterism hasn't been advocated in historic Christianity -- ref#1, ref#2. Frost continues to try to portray hyperpreterism as an acceptable, "scholarly" alternative, but for the most part besides a few who, such as Gary DeMar validate him, Frost's "quasi-conservative" form of hyperpreterism is making no inroads and is often considered "inconsistent" by other hyperpreterists.
________4. Covenant Creationists CC -- This faction is perhaps the most "consistent" in applying the full force of hyperpreterist premises and conclusions to their beliefs. People within this group include, Tim Martin, Jeff Vaughn, Tami Jelinek, Ward Fenely, John Scargy, Norm Voss and others. Their main point is that the metaphorical methodology applied to eschatology that has allowed people to come to hyperpreterism should also be applied to the rest of the Bible, beginning specifically with the "creation" account. The CC hyperpreterists claim that the Genesis account isn't really about God creating the physical or cosmological universe but is "apocalyptically" about the creation of a "covenantal" world. And instead of seeing Adam as the first created human being, CC's see Adam as the first "covenantal man", the first to enter into a contract with God. This faction and the faction led by Frost are often at odds. ref#1, ref#2

This concludes the presentation on the types of Preterism. Anyone is allowed to copy and utilize this presentation without alteration -- please. Thanks Roderick Edwards, 15-year long FORMER hyperpreterist.

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