Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Before You Debate A Full Preterist

Okay so you just found out about this weird position called Full Preterism; that says Jesus came back in the year 70A.D. and you want to clobber the next Full Preterist you see with a storm of proof-texts you have ready to whip out. I mean, it should be easy enough to show that Full Preterism can't be true because a lot of things haven't happened yet right? But before you slip on your theological boxing gloves, consider what you're getting yourself into.


Are you really ready to take on a Full Preterist? Do you know their proof-texts? What about all the places in the Bible where Jesus talks about coming soon/at hand/shortly/quickly? Do you know their answers to all of your silver bullets, because I promise you they have an answer whether you think it is convincing or not. If you are not careful, as you attempt to debate a Full Preterist, you may either find yourself become one or making your audience consider becoming one...if you're not ready.


Perhaps the worst way to take on Full Preterism is by arguing from a so-called Partial-Preterist position. Partial Preterism, such as advocated by "bigs" like Gary DeMar, Kenneth Gentry, and Kenneth Talbot is so convoluted and self-contradicting that a Full Preterist will tear these arguments apart. This is why you never see these men directly engage a Full Preterist. And when some in their company try; such as Joel McDurmon from DeMar's American Vision ministry; they are flatly stomped.  Does this mean I think Full Preterism trumps all other eschatology? Certainly not, only that arguing from a Partial-Preterist position is not merely flawed but hypocritical. So many of these Partial-Preterist advocates' own teachings have bred Full Preterists that it isn't funny. Partial-Preterism is often considered the "gateway drug" into Full Preterism.


What I mean by this is that you need to find out that there IS a historical Christian eschatology; before Dispensationalism's whacked out "Left-Behindism" surfaced. What is it that 100% of Christians across all denominational lines hold in unity on eschatology? Sure, there may be variation on when or if there is a literal 1000 year millennium. There is disagreement over the intent and/or identification of the "Beast". But what four things has ALL of Christianity believed on eschatology and the four things that if a person doesn't believe then they really can't consider themselves part of the "group" called Christians. Note; I'm not questioning who is or isn't saved by what they believe on eschatology, only who is or isn't historically and classified as Christian in the shared-doctrinal since.


So, before you pick up a sword stamped "Partial-Preterism" or any other prefix such as Talbot's "Realized Preterism" and try to start swinging it at Full Preterists; keep in mind that by doing so you will in effect be saying there never was a united Christian position on eschatology. You will be saying that not until present times has the Church been able to clearly define its eschatology. If and when you say that, the battle is already lost, because THAT is exactly the reason Full Preterists will say they should be allowed to at least help develop Christianity's eschatology. They will claim they are like little Martin Luther's helping to set the Church right on its last major doctrine.  How can you refuse this premise if you take up an equally new eschatology called Partial-Preterism or Realized Preterism or any other name you want to give it.

Instead, outline the Christian eschatology:

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

These four things have been the part of EVERY Christian expression of eschatology.  Outside these four essential eschatological doctrines there may be variation, but casting off one or more of these puts a person outside the group called Christianity. It is like a person who advocates Communism still trying to claim they are representing the ideology of the United States of America as founded. That person might even be born in the USA but in principle, ideology, and historical position; that person ISN'T American. In the same way, a Full Preterist can argue and cite (twist) scripture until they are blue in the face; but they still would not be in principle, ideology, and historical position advocating Christianity.

Some Full Preterists have started to become honest about their relationship to Christianity. They realize that what they are advocating puts them outside historical Christianity -- and we aren't talking merely about "creeds" but about ALL of Christianity. However these Full Preterists believe that either God failed to maintain the most basic understanding among His people of His eschatological plan OR that people were able to so quickly corrupt that plan that even the day after A.D. 70, we find virtually no one advocating anything like Full Preterism. OR as Full Preterist Edward Stevens has suggested, there was a "rapture" in or around A.D. 70 that took all the true Christians away so that only second-rank Christians remained and that the left-behind group hasn't properly related what happened in A.D. 70. Any of these options besmirches God's ability to sustain His truth among Christians. Believing any of these conspiracies would and should lead a person to question the accuracy of the Bible. Perhaps it too has been corrupted by these second-rank "Christians". Or worse yet, maybe we could conclude that God isn't really all powerful. Or He "allowed it to happen". If so, what other corruptions might have happened?

To conclude, once you  adopt the notion that there hasn't been an united Christian eschatology; you MUST allow the Full Preterists a spot at the theological table. If you don't, you are dishonest and without integrity; much like DeMar, Gentry, and Talbot -- well, DeMar does let Full Preterists at most of his "tables". In fact, I'd argue that his main forum partners are Full Preterists and his main audience are Full Preterists. And Talbot will let Full Preterists literally eat with him if they pay him money to attend his seminary to be trained as a "minister" as Talbot did with Full Preterist Larry Siegle.

So, taking up the weapons of these Partial-Preterists will only open the way to you falling on your own sword and conceding the fight to the Full Preterists; much like Dee Dee Warren did after Talbot gutted her and her ministry with his Romans 16:17-18 subsuming. She is a mere carcass of her former self.

Before you debate a Full Preterist -- know what you're talking about. Know the players. Know the "agendas" of even so-called "allies". It is a dirty business.

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