Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Preterist vs Futurist vs Christian

The main premise of Preterism, not just Full or Hyper-preterism but all types of preterism is that something went terribly wrong; somehow God's eschatological plan was either grossly misunderstood or covered up until almost 2000 years later when the Preterists came to fore.  They explain that what mostly likely happened, since the bulk of historical Christianity has not believed the Preterist interpretation is that fallible men messed up.  And what Christian wouldn't agree that men fallible and prone to fail to understand?  Thus opens the door for the Preterist to walk in and relabel historical Christianity as merely "Futurism".  Thus begins the dichotomy of the supposed "Bible-alone" Preterists against the supposed "Bible and Creeds" Futurists. And oddly, many Christians will lay down and accept being labeled as "Futurist" and will call themselves by this term.

While I clearly understand the need for more detailed descriptors, false or inaccurate descriptors should be rejected.  For example, it would be wrong to call one person a Pro-Choice advocate and the other an Anti-Choice advocate.  In the same way, Hyper-preterists are fond of claiming they are "Full Preterists" while others are "Partial-Preterists".  This is a false descriptor since it implies that one person takes things fully while the other only partially.  Of course, no one committed to something wants to be considered to be "partially" committed to it, thus already prejudicing judgment against the so-called "Partial-Preterist" position.

Rather, the historically and grammatically accurate descriptors are "Hyper-Preterists" and "Preterists".  Hyper is not meant as a derogative but a sense of "beyondness".  Hyper means to go beyond the typical.  For instance in another area of theology the descriptors are "Hyper-Calvinists" and "Calvinists".  No one would dare interject "Full Calvinists" and "Partial-Calvinists" into the mix.  It would make absolutely no sense.  The starting place is the typical, historical or traditional position and then from there someone may branch off and innovate any sect.  So, there could be "Hyper-Calvinists", "Calvinists", and "Partial-Calvinists" or some other sort but the baseline would always be the typical, the historical, the traditional; Calvinists.

This is why it is erroneous for people to try to describe some Christians as Preterist and some as Futurist.  The descriptors paint a false picture since there is no Christian that believes all New Testament prophecy is yet future just as there had been no Christian that believes all New Testament prophecy is past.

The historical Christian position has been 100% united on four main or essential eschatological points:

1. Jesus is yet to return.
2. The collective resurrection of the believers is yet to be.
3. The Judgment of the wicked and righteous is yet to be.
4. The will be an end of sin and culmination of God's plan for planet earth.

No matter what other differences the various expressions of Christianity have had, they agree on these main 4 doctrines.  This includes; pre-Roman Catholic, Roman Catholic, Greek/Eastern Orthodox, Syrian, Protestant/Reformed, Anabaptist, Modern Evangelical, Calvinistic, or Arminianistic Christianity.  This is significant and ought not be dismissed lightly.

So, when a Preterist comes along trying to re-label a Christian as merely a Futurist; it is erroneous and dishonest.  There is no such thing as a "Futurist" when it comes to Christianity since no Christian believes all N.T. prophecy is yet future.  And since it is the Preterist who is being the innovator; branching away from the baseline 4 eschatological beliefs of historic Christianity, it is the Preterist who bears the new label alone.  The baseline Christian belief needs no new labeling.  It is the "normative" position.

In conclusion, I urge all Christians to avoid calling themselves or allowing themselves to be re-labeled as "Futurists".  It is simply a divisive tactic to take away from the Christian his or her baseline position.  If someone wants to call themselves by some other name other than Christian; let them do so but do not allow the Preterist to inject a false dichotomy.  They are the new kids on the block.  They are the innovators.  They are the ones departing from the baseline Christian belief.  Let them bear that burden on their own.

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