Every so often, a former Full Preterist will contact me to discuss where they landed after they left the movement. This is always difficult because I want to be mindful and tactful. After all, they left the heresy of "hyperpreterism". But the problem is, is that they don't always end up in a better place. Just look what happened to the Talbotites with their lives in ashes. A fellow by the name of Donald Perry wrote me a few weeks ago to discuss a book he wrote called Redirectionalism Volume 1-2. Perry warned me that his writing style is difficult to follow, but he graciously sent me his book anyway. When I received the book, I was eager to get right to it. But Perry wasn't kidding about the difficult structure. Unlike most books, where the context builds on the pretext, which builds on the table of contents; Perry's book has no discernible table of contents. It isn't until page 27 where I could follow some amount of structure in his Question/Answer format. Apparently, these are questions he has been asked throughout the years. But even here, there is no sequential order.
WHAT IS REDIRECTIONALISM
But let me leave off critiquing the structure; after all, Perry warned me. I sifted through the first few pages to see if I could find a summary of what is meant by Redirectionalism. From what I could gather, Perry is trying to say that even if some or all of the prophecies in the New Testament were originally for the audience of that time, we Christians in this time and times since AD70 should redirect or apply much of that to ourselves. Perry says as much on pages 27-28;
In phone conversations, Perry inferred that his Redirectionalism is a form Idealism. On page 28 he states the question; "How do you define Idealism?" and then begins his answer like this:
"We are not the firstfruits, but man has not changed and neither has God, therefore the same warnings now apply to us that applied to them in Revelation 1:3"
"I would not define it in the way Christianity has defined it thus far."
This is a problem. It is like a person being asked to define a 3 pointer in basketball and them starting off by saying they would not define it in the way the NBA has defined it thus far.
While Perry is a likable fellow, and again I want to be careful not to offend people leaving the heresy of hyperpreterism; we can see that Perry is still plagued by the kind of thinking that allowed him to get hooked by hyperpreterism in the first place. It is this almost rabid, and dare I say dangerously arrogant need or desire to claim we can define things differently than they are normally defined. Or specifically to hyperpreterism; to interpret things radically different than "Christianity has interpreted it thus far". Who do we think we are?
I'm all for a person NOT being a mere sheeple follower of some loud-mouth preacher/pastor who may know less about the Bible and Christian history than the average person, BUT I'm not for some lone-ranger ignoring all of Christianity and claiming they know better than that. And before anyone quotes it; Martin Luther's exchange with Johann Eck was NOT about Luther going against all the Church. Luther was going only against Papalism, not against all of Christianity. So, when I say we should not go against all of Christianity, I mean all of it. I mean that we MUST believe that Jesus and the apostles were effectively able to convey the basics of what they wanted Christians to know and believe. And that Christians before, during and after AD70 did know and believe those basics.
Hyperpreterism MUST dismantle this notion that Jesus, the apostles and the Holy Spirit have guided Christianity in the basics. Hyperpreterism must claim that something went wrong; that people were dumb or corrupt or even as hyperpreterist Ed Stevens says; raptured in the first century, leaving only the weak and unknowing Christians behind. In this way, hyperpreterists try to give an answer for why NO ONE before Max King really taught anything like hyperpreterism.
Back to Perry's book.
Much of Perry's Question/Answer pages, while far more readable than other parts, still are very unorganized. Further, many of the answers are thin on content and seem more as sheer opinion. However if a reader wades through, you will pick up pieces such as the following on page 31:
Question: "Is it necessary to clearly understand Preterism in order to rightly understand Idealism?"
Answer: "It is impossible to fully understand why we are right about Redirectionalism, and its Futurist arguments, unless one is able to understand the weight of Consistent Preterist arguments."
This is important as it shows that Perry's Redirectionalism is in fact built on Full Preterism. As he says, it is impossible to fully understand his views unless one is able to understand [Full Preterism]. Maybe he means that to understand how he reached this point, one must understand what he went through -- Full Preterism.
I fear what has happened to Perry is what often happens to many former Full Preterists; they latch on to or build some other ism. We see this with Kenneth Talbot's Realized Preterism which he proffered to give Sam Frost and other Talbotites something to shift to as they supposedly left the movement.
It seems that these former Full Preterists also hold on to false premises as well; such as saying there is a thing called "Futurist/Futurism". In reality there is no such thing as Futurism versus Preterism -- all Christians believe some N.T. prophecies are yet future, and some are past. It is only the hyperpreterists whom place themselves outside of Christianity by saying ALL is past. By claiming there is a dichotomy of Futurists versus Preterists, the Preterists attempt to position Christianity as a mere subset and as if Preterism has always been an equal part of Christianity. This is not so. Preterism; in the sense that people like Gary DeMar and Kenneth Gentry and Talbot put it forth, is just a new and novel as hyperpreterism -- in fact maybe even newer since at least hyperpreterism started about 1970 with Max King. The current version of "partial-preterism" came into being about the 1990s as more of a synthesis or compromise with hyperpreterism.
Indeed, forms of preterism or at least preteristic thought existed before 1970 and 1990, but we're talking about the current movement. The "preterism" of the 1600-1800s never was much a movement.
REDIRECTIONALISM VS PRETERISM
Perry clearly states in several places that his Redirectionalism is offered in opposition to Preterism. However, on page 33, Perry references books by "partial-preterists" and Full Preterists as "similar works" as Redirectionalism and even tells us "they are very helpful in seeing the need for and in some cases explaining the doctrine."
On page 49, Perry makes it clear that he continues to hold the Full Preterist idea that the physical world will remain. He says:
"If we carefully read the Bible, we find that these verses about the Last Days are foremost speaking of the destruction of the old covenant world, foremost in that generation of Jesus Christ."So, like Realized Preterism or the views of Full Preterist John Noe or Kelly Birks whom both claim they aren't actually Full Preterists, we see that Perry too has not really moved away from Full Preterism. He has kept much of the guts of the belief and simply renamed, and redirected it.
I'm sorry that I could not be more kind to Perry's Redirectionalism, but I found it too much like Full Preterism to make much of a difference. It seemed like on page 62 Perry advocated for a future Resurrection of the believers, but even J.S. Russell advocated something like this.
Redirectionalism seems more like a private conversation between Perry and himself; trying to work his way out of Full Preterism. He certainly re-inserts the idea of "already-not-yet" into his views. On page 384, the last page, he even states:
"Is He [Jesus] coming? Again Christ reminds us He comes quickly. Let us never suppose that Christ is not coming. Will we be ready to meet Him? These are the last verses for us to remember."
So, while Perry clearly has Jesus coming again, so does Noe, who has Jesus coming multiple times in multiple ways, but with no real culmination to the plan of God.
My suggestion would be that no one tarry too long on any replacement ism for Full Preterism. Instead, move to be part of historical Christianity as believed and taught by the bulk of Christians throughout history. There is no need to come up with a new idea. Christ has not failed us. The apostles have not failed us. The Holy Spirit has not failed us. They all conveyed exactly what they wanted us to believe before, during and after AD70. We do not need another Max King to tell us Christianity got it wrong any more than we need a Joseph Smith Jr. to claim it. We don't need a Don Preston to pretentiously claim he is just following Jesus when in reality he is ignoring that Christianity was DESIGNED to be a collective -- not a lone-ranger, private interpreter's musing.
It is time to undo the damage that was done first by the Dispensationalists (whom are what Preterists really mean by "Futurists") and also undo the damage being done both by the so-called Partial-Preterists like DeMar, Gentry, and Talbot and the Full or Hyperpreterists like Preston, Stevens, and Noe.
Perry has told me that he has revised this book several times, even deleting several chapters at a time. This should tell him something. That as I said, this book is merely his working himself out of Full Preterism. The problem is, there are so few places where solid eschatology is being taught, where do people go? Instead, it seems people are left to create personal "isms" to try to answer the questions they have. Dispensationalism has so twisted what Christianity originally taught and believed about eschatology, and then come the preterists of all kinds who make it sound like that the Church never had a unified eschatology; we cannot blame men like Perry who wants to settle these issues in their own minds. Oh, Lord God, I pray that You help us navigate these issues and get back to what Jesus, the apostles and the Holy Spirit conveyed in the pages of the Bible; minus both the Dispensationalist and Preterist spin. In Your Name, So be it!