Monday, November 9, 2015

Semitis Antiquis: The Old Paths

Martin Luther is often cited by preterists as the example of someone that went against the status quo, against "traditions" and "creeds". He is that man, they say that used "the Bible alone". He made a purely "scriptural" argument; after all the phrase "sola scriptura" is associated with Luther. But Luther was no theological anarchist. A quote by Luther you almost NEVER see from a preterist is:
"A council has the power, and is bound, to suppress and condemn new articles of faith according to Holy Scripture and the ancient faith." -- On the Councils and the Church, Martin Luther 1539.
 Notice the date; 1539 which is 22 years AFTER Luther nailed the 95 Thesis on the Wittenberg door, so this a maturely developed sentiment by Luther that "new articles of faith" should be condemned by the Holy Scripture AND the ancient faith.

What is it if not "new articles of faith" that preterism proposes. They certainly can't make the case that what they are proposing is the ancient faith. The Bible says:

Thus says the Lord: "Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’" -- Jeremiah 6:16
Further, in his more famous speech Luther said:

"Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen." -- source
But preterists claim to want to argue from "scripture alone". They ignore that there is an ancient faith or they think it has been corrupted. If a person cites anything from the ancient faith they are accused of ignoring scripture or following the "creeds". If you appeal to the other part of Luther's methodology; "plain reason", you will be accused of avoiding scripture.

One of the first approaches to plain reason is proposition. The proposition against preterism is that preterism is a "new article of faith" -- it is something that is NOT within the teaching or belief of historical Christianity.

Propositional logic does not necessarily prove something true or false, rather it allows for the evaluation of validity of multiple statements. In this case, the logic or plain reason against preterism starts in the fact that billions of Christians the day before and the day after AD70 did NOT believe anything like preterism. These same Christians reading scripture did not conclude anything like preterism. Sure, we could dismiss this by saying:

1. Christians weren't smart enough understand that the Bible is supposedly teaching preterism.
2. Christians have purposely corrupted not only translations of the Bible, but interpretations of the Bible.

Which proposition do preterists want to apply, because they CANNOT prove from plain reason or from the ancient faith that the Bible teaches anything like preterism. Quoting verses to appear to prove this or that doctrine (ie proof-texting) is arbitrary and does NOT mean the interpreter is actually following the Bible. The Jehovah's Witnesses started out by calling themselves "Bible Students".

So when preterists claim to be getting their interpretations simply from reading the Bible alone, they are admitting that they leave out the ancient faith and plain reason. They leave out that Jesus didn't come to found a Church of private interpreters but that He hand selected apostles to be the foundation of the Church and that those apostles appointed elders and that together they taught the revealed Word of God and that that teaching is believed and taught the same as the day before and the day after AD70.

All the attempts to reinterpret Scripture differently than how it has been interpreted collectively by Christians since the time of Christ, amounts to nothing more than creating "new articles of faith" -- or in the words of most 1990s preterists; a "radical paradigm shift".  Preterism is as foreign to Christianity as an American espousing Communism is foreign to the "old paths" of America's founding principles.


Tom Mills said...

There are some preterist ideas in traditional Christianity. Eusebius said around 300AD "When, then, we see what was of old foretold for the nations fulfilled in our day, and when the lamentation and wailing that was predicted for the Jews, and the burning of the Temple and its utter desolation, can also be seen even now to have occurred according to the prediction, surely we must also agree that the King who was prophesied, the Christ of God, has come, since the signs of His coming have been shewn in each instance I have treated to have been clearly fulfilled."Demonstratio Evangelica - Book VIII.
The Geneva study bible published in 1599 also interprets much of Daniel in a preterist way, especially with relation to Daniel 9.
In addition a find ave 1 where the dead sea scrolls were found had a papyri that said this, "And we recognize that some of the blessings and curses have come, those written in the Book of Moses; therefore this is the End of Days" Dead Sea Scrolls 4QMMT (4Q397-399).

Roderick_E said...

Hello Tom, please refer to this 2011 article which answer the idea that Christian theologians were "preterists". Thanks