Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Where I Stand

Full Preterist Michael Miano has been interacting a bit with me on Facebook as well as reading the Recovery Room series on Unpreterist.blogspot.com.  He wants to know where I stand on Full Preterism, Partial-Preterism and such.  First, let me say that the Recovery Room series was written in 2007-2008 as I was leaving the Full Preterist movement after being part of that movement for nearly 15 years.  Although installment 4 does address "anti-Full Preterism" it doesn't spend enough time addressing what has become known as the "anti-prets". I admit that I may have been harder on Full Preterists than I should have been, especially since in retrospect, the so-called "Partial-Preterists" are directly to "blame" or credit for creating Full Preterists. However, I stand by the series because it does appropriately address how a person begins to accept Full Preterism, how to avoid accepting it, and how to undo, or recover from accepting it.

I've clearly been on record as saying Full Preterism is "heresy", but then again Protestantism was once considered "heresy".  I'm not down playing that Full Preterism is heresy.  It is not merely heresy because it goes against some majority but because it goes against ALL of historical Christian eschatology.  Unlike Protestantism, which is heresy only because it goes against Roman Catholicism.

Having said this, I have NEVER claimed any place that ANY Full Preterist is "going to hell".  That simply isn't within the individual Christian's knowledge base.  I don't even believe the Church itself can say whether or not someone is ultimately going to hell.  However, the Church universal does have the authority to declare what is and isn't heresy.  Since, Full Preterism goes against ALL, united historical Christian eschatology; if anything can be classified as heresy, Full Preterism certainly can.

Does this mean I won't talk with or interact with Full Preterists? Or that we should be rude or hateful toward Full Preterists?  Certainly not.  Most Full Preterists are simply following the premises of Partial-Preterism.  They are following the mantra, "Sola Scriptura"; although not realizing that the Reformers who championed that concept also considered that the "ancient faith" (the practice of it), is also a partner with Sola Scriptura...a partner in that the Bible doesn't interpret itself but has been interpreted and expressed by historical Christianity, since day one.

So, Full Preterism is completely the child of Partial-Preterism and its "time-statement" premises, its "Sola Scriptura" (Solo Scriptura) convolution.  I have sympathies for Full Preterists and completely believe that God didn't cause/allow me to be Full Preterist all those years to simply walk away and do nothing with that experience.

While I've never been keen on the term Partial-Preterism and have in the past tried to make the case that so-called Partial-Preterism is really "historical preterism" or "classical preterism" (ie, just plain preterism), I have reconsidered this position.  The theological stance called "Preterism" was never a very well developed or expressed view. There really is no "school" or theological group called "Preterists", even though there is some obscure reference to "Praeterists" throughout history.

R.C. Sproul Sr. once said:

"Maybe the terms that best describe the two positions are full preterism and partial preterism. Both are preterist with respect to some eschatological events, but both are not preterist with respect to all eschatological events.." -- source
One reason why so-called "orthodox preterists", such as Dee Dee Warren and her cronies so oppose the use of the label "Partial-Preterism" is because it reveals that their position is...well, partial or underdeveloped. (ref)  If Warren and the others allow themselves to be defined as Sproul defines it then the battle is already over.  If any group would have rights to the term Preterists, it would be those who developed it the most...the Full Preterists.

Partial-Preterism uses the same premises that Full Preterism does so that non-Preterists often become confused about the difference and why the Partial-Preterists stop where they do...which is not always in the same place.  The issue used to be where a person split Matthew 24.  You would be considered a Partial-Preterist if you placed some of the verses in Matthew 24 in our yet future.  But even that is often ceded by current Partial-Preterists.  For example, "Partial-Preterist" Gary DeMar once said:

"By taking the time texts seriously, assessing the historical context of the period, and relying on how the Bible applies its well-known symbols to make theological points, we can come to no other conclusion than that Jesus was revealing to John prophetic events that were 'about to come upon the whole world' (Rev 3:10) in his day. There is no need for either sophisticated technology or reading into the Bible to see things that just aren't there. This creates a future fulfillment of events that the Bible clearly says are to happen "shortly" (Rev 1:1,3)" -- End Times Fiction pgs 170-171
Using DeMar's teaching, why shouldn't someone take it all the way to Full Preterism?  Partial-Preterist works are littered with these kind of statements that if logic is applied should show that a person is correct to conclude Full Preterism, yet Partial-Preterists continue to hypocritically label Full Preterists as "heretics".

First, it needs to be understood that what is often labeled as "anti-preterists" are usually those who fervently oppose Full Preterism while claiming they and they alone represent Preterism.  Ironically enough, these "anti-prets" are often either former Full Preterists or compromisers with Full Preterism -- compromisers in that many of their statements actually have promoted a form of Full Preterism.  For example, Kenneth Talbot who is perhaps the "leader" of the anti-prets has put forth a new personalized form of preterism he calls; "Realized Preterism".  The problem should be obvious.  If there was this supposed "historical" preterism, why would there be a need to present a new kind of preterism?????  Further, Talbot claims his Realized Preterism is "akin" to the kind of preterism David Chilton was advocating.  Listen to 5 second audio of him saying it. Chilton accepted Full Preterism and retained that belief unto his death in 1997.  Even Full Preterists, such as Mike Bennett sees that Realized Preterism is merely a pathway to Full Preterism.

Here is what I see happening as a general path to FULL PRETERISM.

Arminian => Dispy => Reformed => Ammilenial => Partial Preterist => Preterist Idealist => Realized Preterist (soon to complete the path) => Full Preterist -- source
The point is, these so-called "anti-prets" are  against letting anyone but them define what Preterism is, especially since Full Preterism is the only "true" Preterism thus I call even the "Partial-Preterists" that oppose Full Preterism as "anti-prets".

So-called Futurism makes little sense as a label.  I never liked it even while I was a Full Preterist.  There is no Christian that believes all prophecy is yet future.  If Preterism, as Full Preterists claim means that all prophecy has been fulfilled in that past, then Futurism would seem to mean that all prophecy is yet to be fulfilled in the future.  If anything, so-called "futurism" is really "Partial-Futurism" or even "Partial-Preterism". The label futurism is useless.  It is clearer to define eschatological positions as premil, postmil, amil and dispensationalist.  This leaves Preterists in their own category, and again; only Full Preterists really have a claim to the term Preterist.

Here, the reader may be asking, "What do you believe Roderick?" Well, I have repeatedly said I am NOT any sort of Preterist.  I am not even an "anti-preterist" because my mission is not to set up any form of preterism against any existing forms.  I consider myself what I simply label as holding to historical Christian eschatology.  This means I hold these 4 things:

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

Now, keep in mind I don't ignore the so-called "time-statements".  For example, on Jesus' imminent "coming", I would point to a combination of Dan 7:13, Mt 21:33-46, Mt 26:64 as showing that Jesus was ABOUT TO COME...not back to earth but to the Ancient of Days in glory and vindication.  The judgment on Jerusalem and the Temple in AD70 was the Landowner/Father coming in judgment for those killing His Son/Heir.  It was NOT Jesus coming in judgment -- as even many Partial-Preterists have erroneously claimed.  If Jesus came BACK in AD70, even if it was BACK in judgment, then the Full Preterists are correct that the Partial-Preterists are as "heretical" as the Full Preterists, since they have Jesus coming BACK a 3rd time in the future.

As for the Resurrection, I think one problem is that people often see only a one time resurrection.  Even Martha in her conversation with Jesus in John 11:24-26 seemed to narrowly think the Resurrection was only about some future reanimation of the human body, but Jesus seems to tell her that there is ALSO another type of resurrection that happens immediately upon belief (see also Jesus' convo with Nicodemus in John 3:1-15).

Some people cannot abide with not trying to explain every eschatological nook-and-cranny. But one problem with our theology is that we attempt to fill in what we think are gaps when perhaps God has seen fit to just simply not elaborate on every detail.  It is not that I wouldn't want to know every detail but to force an interpretation is wrong and leads to all sorts of errors.  It is my motivation to hold to the most basic and most unified positions in Christianity.

1 comment:

Stephen Whitsett said...

That's why I am calling the in between idea, "Middleism"..
It reject the extremes of both sides.