Your Questions

Your Questions Dec. 6,2006

Question:

 

Do full preterists hold to full biblical inerrancy and are full preterists found across all the denominations? In other words, are full preterists found in Reformed and non-Reformed; Calvinistic and Arminian; Believer’s Baptism and Paedobaptism; Pro Women’s ordination and anti Women’s ordination etc denominations and congregations?

Answer:
Obviously, I cannot speak for every preterist. However, I think I am fairly familiar with the trends within the preterist movement. I can say this, preterism crosses all denominational, and even creedal boundaries. To my knowledge, the preterists that I know are fully committed to the full biblical inerrancy and infallibility. It is this conviction, that scripture must be fulfilled, and cannot be broken, that has led the preterists that I know, to seek solutions to the conundrum of the problem of the timing of the parousia.

2. Full Preterists and Creation.

Do full preterists believe in a six literal 24 hour day creation or Day-Age theory etc? Is there liberty on these issues?
Response: I would say that that great majority of the preterists of my acquaintance do believe in the six day creation. I am friend’s with, and highly respect Timothy Martin of Montana, however, and Tim does hold to the Old Earth posit. While I know some preterists that object to his positions, I am unaware of any that are attempting to "drum him out" of the movement. Tim is currently writing a book on his ideas. I have been privileged to get a glimpse of some of it, and, while I do not agree with some of his points, he has some very challenging material and thoughts.

What I am driving at here is to establish whether full preterism is a water-tight theological system ie a monolith which tends to settle all the other issues? Or is there liberty among full Preterists to differ on baptism, Lord’s Day observance, communion, Calvinism or Arminianism,

Church Government etc based on exegesis of those biblical texts which bear on the issues?

Response: Well, there are several things here: 1.) Preterism is, and will be shown to be, a comprehensive systematic theology, that touches on virtually every theological motif imaginable. 2.) There is a unifying aspect to preterism that I have personally witnessed.  3.) Does #2 mean that we have solved all the theological debates? No! I will say that there is definitely better dialogue, and attitude among Armenians and Calvinists and the other varied paradigms than I have ever personally witnessed in my lifetime. The willingness to re-think, to re-consider, to go back over even hallowed ground, is part and parcel of the preterist mindset. Now, there are exceptions to this, and there are some within both the Armenian and Calvinistic camps that call on their respective members not to have anything to do with the "other side." This is lamentable to me, and I have personally seen that "hard line" marginalize a lot of those who take that position. 4.) So, with that said, I am finding a great deal of liberty in the preterist movement. There is the core belief that others are doing their best to come to grips, honestly, with the Word.

3. Full Preterists and Hell.
Here is the thing I really struggle with – if the second coming of Christ and all the attendant judgments happened in AD 70 is there a literal Hell for unbelievers? Are full preterists biblical universalists or do they believe in a traditional hell? What do full Preterists believe about the nature and character of hell – is it literal or symbolic? When are unbelievers judged and when are believers rewarded?

Response: Well, this is an issue (Hell), that I am personally struggling with, and, I might add, so are a lot of other preterists. There are those who do take a hard line on this, but as I have stated to some of them (good friends of mine), until I can be shown that this is an issue of salvation, I am not going to take that hard line. To this date, no one has convinced me that this is an issue of salvific faith, so I am not going to disfellowship those on either side of the issue! I find that a lot of the passages that I have traditionally applied to an eternal concious torment, do not have that application. On the other hand, I am not totally satisfied that there is no merit to that idea either. There are passages that, to me, teach the reality of
punishment after death.

Where I am at for the moment (I call this my A-T-T position, because it is where I am at "At This Time"), is that the wicked are punished, without any doubts whatsoever. I think Revelation  presents this clearly, for, after the time of the end, there are still nations outside the city, and outside the city are those who reject the Truth, liars, etc.. Those outside the city can, however, enter the city for healing! That punishment of the wicked is eternal. Permanent, unchangeable. I thus reject the doctrine of universalism, and have written against it
in my book on 2 Peter 3. A person is judged today, when they either come into Christ, or reject Him. When they die physically, they receive the results of that judgment.

(Incidentally, if forgiveness is not judgment, I guess I don’t understand judgment!).

I think that this addresses your questions, but, if not, please feel free to correspond further. I look forward to hearing from you again very soon!


Sent: Sunday, December 03, 2006 7:49 PM

Subject: Re: Preterist Eschatology

 

Thank you so much for your reply which – for the most part – I have found satisfying.

I am satisfied that a person could hold to Calvinism or Arminianism, Believers Baptism or Peadobaptism, Creation in six literal 24 hour days or Day-Age theory etc and be a Full Preterist based on the full inerrancy of the Bible.

I am also entirely satisfied that Full Preterism crosses all the denominational and creedal divides. Amen!

I am further satisfied that, as a system of theology, although Full Preterism does not preclude a person from being a Biblical and Christian Universalist based on an exegesis of those passages that bear on the issues in actual fact most Full Preterists would – like yourself – believe in eternal and unchangeable punishment for unbelievers.

I am happy with all this. I am strongly attracted to Full Preterism and I must say I like your manner and style in presenting it. Like myself you strike me as a person who delights in a positive presentation of the truth of God rather than indulging in controversy for controversy’s sake.

However, at this time, I cannot commit myself to Full Preterism as I have some significant difficulties with the position that are "road blocks"  precluding my embrace of the posit.

I would like to share these with you over a series of emails if you are willing and ok with this.

I will share one significant "road block" with you for now and allow you to respond and then share another objection – in future emails – and allow you to respond and so on and so forth.

In my opinion, you have not tackled in a comprehensive and coherent way the nature and character of Hell. If you believe in Hell – and you say  that the punishment of unbelievers is eternal and unchangeable – you have not articulated what scripture teaches about Hell. My concern is that you have by passed many scriptures which are "future oriented" that do speak of Hell and future retribution to comply with your assertion that all the attendant judgments took place in 70AD.

But what about the Great White Throne Judgment in the book of Revelation?

Now surely that did not happen in 70 AD? To propose otherwise is to impose on the Book of Revelation a chronolgy of events that the internal ethos of the book simply will not bear.

I am quite sure in my own mind that – despite Full Preterism’s appeal and attraction in so many areas – that this lack of coherence in understanding and describ
ing Hell is its glaring deficiency and yawning flaw.

Is the fire in Hell literal? If you say that it is then you have conceded that this is in the future and Full Preterism collapses like a pack of cards. To be consistent, you must say that Hell is in existence now and that unbelievers have been judged and experience eternal, unchangeable punishment now. But where does scripture explain this?

In a nutshell, you need to explain to me:

1. Where is Hell
2. What is its exact nature and character?
3. When does Hell come into existence?
4. Is the fire in Hell literal?


Sent: Tuesday, December 05, 2006 7:33 AM
Subject: Re: Preterist Eschatology

I will be more than happy to correspond with you, and to share with you my understanding of scriptures. I can assure you that my one and only concern is the Truth, no matter what it is.

Let me address your concerns, in no particular order.
You state:
"My concern is that you have by passed many scriptures which are "future oriented" that do speak of Hell and future retribution to comply with your assertion that all the attendant judgments took place in 70AD."

Response: The problem with noting the passages that are "future oriented" is that we must ask ourselves the questions:
1.) Future to whom?
2.) Is that futurism limited, i.e. do the texts in which that futurism is posited, give us any indication when that futurism would find its terminus in fulfillment?

Now, it is most assuredly true that all of the tradional "hell" passages have a futurist orientation. However, it is also true that those passages posit their fulfillment as, 1.) being very near, 2.) being fulfilled at the time of the judgment of Old Covenant Israel.

A good example is Matthew 8:11f where Jesus spoke of wailing and gnashing of teeth, and being cast into outer darkness. Traditionally, that sounds like "hell" and has been, and is, normally interpreted as predictive of the "final judgment at the end of human history as we know it." This will not work, however.  The framework for the fulfillment of the text is when Abraham would sit down in the kingdom, at the Messianic Table. This is the feast that Jesus said was near (Matthew 22), and that John said would come with the judgment of the city "where the Lord was slain" (Revelation 18-19; 11:8). Second, this Banquet (and the attendant casting into the outer darkness, etc.) would occur when the "Sons of the kingdom are cast out" and those from the east and west joined Abraham at the Table.

The Sons of the Kingdom are O. T. Israel/Judah, and the time of their casting out was in A.D. 70.  Thus, we are given a framework that prevents us from applying that
"futurist oriented" text to our future. Same is true of the Great White Throne Judgment.  I take the judgment of Matthew 25:31f and the Great White Throne judgment
to be the same. I find no justification for delineating between them. With that said, and I will be happy to comment further on this if need be,  take note of the following:

Jesus was to come, with his angels, in the judgment of all men, in the kingdom, in the first century generation (Matthew 16:27-28). But the coming of Christ, with his angels, in judgment of all men, and in the kingdom, was to be the Great White Throne Judgment of Matthew 25:31f  (and Revelation 20).
Therefore, the Great White Throne Judgment of Matthew 25:31f (and Revelation 20), was to be in the first century generation.

So, the futurist oriented "hell" passage of Matthew 25 is also posited within a framework that we cannot dismiss and ignore.

With this framework established, other questions, about the nature of "hell" must be answered within that framework, regardless of preconceived ideas. Thus, questions about whether the fire is "real" or "literal" etc. do not negate the framework issue, they must simply be answered within the framework that is clearly established by the divine texts.

The bottom line reality is that the nature of hell, the reality of the fire, and the questions of "eternal punishment" are not related to whethe or not the Lord came in A.D. 70. They are questions that must be answered within the framework of the when of fulfillment, and that framework of fulfillment was unequivocally near in the first century, and within the framework of the judgment on the Old Covenant world of Israel.

The claim that if the fire of hell is literal, that it must therefore be yet future, is a non-sequitor (It does not follow). For instance, the land of Edom, destroyed long, long ago, was to be set on fire and burn forever (Isaiah 34). Edom was destroyed, and does not exist today. Yet, there is no literal fire burning in the region where Edom once existed. There is no literal fire, yet, her punishment was fulfilled. Does the fact that the fire was not literal say that she was not destroyed? No, for Malachi 1:1-3

says she had already been destroyed. So the literalism or non-literalism of fire does not determine futurism or past fulfillment. Only if our assumptions demand a certain view of fire would this be true, but then, we are not exegeting scripture, we are eisegeting.  There is no logically compelling connection between the nature of fire and the necessity of futurism. Thus, to assert that preterism would crumble like a deck of cards if the fire of hell was/is literal fails.

 

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