OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.

The Rainbow Over

Traditional evangelical theology is rather selective in ending the primaeval story at the fall. Mankind is lost, fallen from an original state of perfection, we are told, the next best thing for us being the advent of the Messiah. One could be ultra pernickety and suggest that by keeping us in a depraved and fallen state, we are more easily controlled since we have to do what we are told in order to receive salvation. Church doctrine is then about power and salvation is administered by those in power. It is in the church’s interest therefore to end the primaeval story at the fall.

To be generous though, perhaps we are all just simply deceived and are blind, unable to see what is plainly in the inspired texts. The primaeval story does not really end at all and proceeds smoothly all the way to the no doubt historical Abraham. No doubt this smooth transistion is the writer’s way of suggesting the perfect validity of the primaeval history as an explanation of the real, historical world we are alive in now.

But one aspect of the primaeval history that sits rather badly within the theology of orthodoxy is the flood. Relegated in recent years to the demeaning debate between literalists and atheists, this story carries both a violent beauty of its own and stands in utter derision of the simplistic orthodoxy of the fall. For we find, when taking the fall in the light of the flood, that mankind did not suddenly change from being in fellowship with God to being by nature out of fellowship but rather mankind was simply sliding inexorably to destruction due to its own propensity to be wicked. Man was no more wicked after the fall than before it. If this were not so, God would not have regretted that he had made man. He would have regretted that man had fallen.

The flood recognises man’s propensity to wickedness but at the same time shows God as a God of mercy: God accommodates himself to man’s wickedness and promises to refrain from further judgement against him. This gives the lie to the simplistic orthodox assertion that man is destined to eternal torment unless he believes in the Messiah. God has already promised not to visit man with global judgement again. As a species, we are simply born, live and die like every other living thing. And of course we are subject to death ever since the primaeval act of Adam and Eve.

But the curses were not the judgement, the judgement came later in the flood after many generations of God holding back. Death was not a judgement, simply the result of making the wrong choice at a pivotal moment in primaeval history. Perhaps it is even the story of everyman today rather than just one pivotal primaeval man, that we must all choose knowledge over innocence as we grow into adulthood. Whatever, the flood is not just another event that happened later but describes the relationship that present man has with God, such that we are living under his mercy, mortally and prone to wickedness. The promise of the Messiah is given in that context such that individuals are offered a gracious alternative, to be saved and inherit God’s glory and immortality.

And of course the primaeval history is no more than the Biblical way of explaining why we are what we are now. Other cultures have other methods and literary themes and we should not be overly focussed on the historicity of such events. We can be thankful that one man, however primaeval, found favour with God and perhaps if we ourselves have faith, God will also accept that as an offering of universal worth. The literary explains the real: if the universe is open (not predestined) then the flood never happened, Adam and Eve never happened, but it is a real explanation just as Jesus is a real Messiah, the real image of the invisible God, the real hope of resurrection and salvation.

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Re: The Rainbow Over

I think we tend to miss the point of "judgment" under the old covenant.  The flood does not necessarily "recognise(s) man’s propensity to wickedness" - it rather illustrates God’s willingness to judge mankind.  Judgment in the old covenant was not something negative, it rather brought about God’s mercy, grace and blessings over one.  David often asks God to judge him; Israel’s judges were in place to protect the nation and instill God’s will and blessings over the people.

The motif of the flood as a cleansing judgment action repeats itself typologically thoughout the scripture; it appears in the New Testament and culminates with Revelation where the "great city" is "judged" by fire and cleansed by God in order for the kosmos to be prepared for his presence.  This is the judgment, resurrection and salvation promised by our Creator from the beginning :)

Re: The Rainbow Over

Virgil, in your short post you have given me a lot to think about! I feel it is certainly a valuable theme to note that judgement is curative rather than destructive. However, it surely goes too far to suggest that judgement (under the old covenant) was not negative. Obviously such value judgements depend on perspective and there are not many today who would commend the worldwide flood as positive. In the same way, many have difficulties over the Holy War narratives.

Clearly, God would rather not have judged, they were final expedients. And in the case of the flood, the text states that God intended to destroy the whole of mankind as well as all other life. It is always possible to argue that judgement is cleansing: if God had destroyed all life, it would have been a cleansing of the Earth. If he had destroyed the whole of the Earth, it would have been a cleansing of the Solar System. Whenever something is destroyed, something else is cleansed. But there must surely come a point when it is no longer meaningful to look positively at it. Personally, I can look positively at the Holy War narratives but I would find it much harder with the flood. As you can probably guess, I don’t have an issue with the flood anyway, because I regard it as a literary effect, not a historical reality. I guess that the judgement of Jesus is along the same lines - God’s mercy to mankind through the judgement of just one man. At least I think that is what Paul is getting at in Romans.

Re: The Rainbow Over

As you can probably guess, I don’t have an issue with the flood anyway,
because I regard it as a literary effect, not a historical reality.

That’s interesting because I have discussed this issue as well with some friends.  If I may, I highly recommend a book titled Beyond Creation Science and I anticipate you would enjoy it based on the comments you made; the authors deal with many of those issues, such as Creation, the Flood and the eschatological importance of all those things integrated in a bigger story. You can probably get a copy of it at http://beyondcreationscience.com

Beyond Creation Science is a hyperpreterist tool

The book Beyond Creation Science (BCS) is being put forth (even here) under false pretense as if it is merely a book about creationism — it is actually a front book for introducing the reader to a belief called "hyperpreterism". Hyperpreterism is the belief that Jesus came back in AD70, the resurrection of the believers is past & the Judgment is done. Vaduva administrates a website community where hyperpreterists congregate. I would urge the readers of opensource to consider this when reading comments by Vaduva as everything he posts has the intent to get you to consider hyperpreterism as valid.

The author of BCS even tells his readers:

“This book is
written from the perspective of the preterist implications on the Genesis
flood. However, the main points can be made in reverse. Just as a
regional interpretation of New Testament prophecy implies regional events in
the flood account, so accepting a regional flood implies a regional
understanding of New Testament prophecy. As a regional flood view is
accepted among Christians in the future for various reasons, a great
opportunity for the widespread acceptance of preterism awaits.


See, it is all about getting more people to "accept" hyperpreterism. Back in 2006 I reviewed the second edition of BCS chapter by chapter, yet the authors have yet to answer any of the questions I had (see here: http://www.thekingdomcome.com/bcs.pdf)

Don’t be fooled folks, the hyperpreterists are trying every door to see if they can get in. They want you to believe that 2000 years of historic Christian interpretation has failed to rightly understand eschatology. These AREN’T little tweaks to your theology, this is a complete revolt against anything that is recognizably Christian. The hyperpreterist contention is as NON-Christian as the Mormon contention. Even the author of BCS realizes this when he says: “Mistakes made here [in Geneis] will inevitably ripple across the
rest of the Bible.”
and indeed, if a person buys the hyperpreterist premise even in Genesis then that erroneous premises "ripples" across every aspect of the Bible.


Re: Beyond Creation Science is a hyperpreterist tool

Vergil and Roderick,

I can’t reasonably accept that the Flood story is intended to be historical. Therefore some of the presuppositions of BCS are outside my sphere of consideration.

Agreeing with Roderick, I don’t see why belief in a historical worldwide flood makes you automatically a dispensationalist but I would however agree with BCS that there is a potential for a correlation between the two.

However, I would also suggest that there is a negative potential for correlation between preterist and Calvinist viewpoints because preterism favours openness whilst Calvinism views history as predestined - mutually exclusive points of view.

Of course, there is nothing fundamentally illogical in being Calvinist-preterist but I feel that I would need further explanation of this because intuitively these are at least inconsistent: the abandonment of the idea of a return of Jesus to come is usually associated with an open view of history. If history is completely directed, then there is no true history at all.

The other thing that mystifies me a lot is the paucity of historical evidence that the church believed that Jesus returned in 70 a.d. in judgement. I can see the scripture texts but there surely needs to be a lot more than that.


Re: Beyond Creation Science is a hyperpreterist tool

On two important points we agree Desert Reign,

#1 The a Calvinist-preterist is almost oxymoronic in that Calvinism sees a God who plans the beginning from the end (determinism) whereas [hyper]preterism MUST claim God failed to teach his Church correct eschatology for nearly 2000 years.

#2 The paucity of historical evidence that the Church has EVER believed anything like [hyper]preterism is enough to claim that [hyper]preterism is NOTHING like anything that has ever been considered historically Christian.



Re: Preterism and Openness

Thanks Roderick.

I’m not so sure that we agree though. I wasn’t sure what you were getting at in your linked article when you said that you were yourself

a fellow preterist (& a Sovereign Grace/Calvinistic Christian)

so I don’t know what to make of your statement #1 above. I would be interested in hearing how you relate a broadly preterist view with a closed or predestined view of history.

Also, as to your point #2, it is true that there is a paucity of evidence that the church believed Christ returned in 70 ad. However, if I have perfectly reasoned arguments for rejecting the prevailing orthodoxy of Calvinism, (predestination) which has been the bedrock of doctrine and practice for the last 1600 years then whatever else is left is going to be at very least a minority view. This kind of argument has not stopped reformers of all kinds down the centuries from exploring possibilities and following their consciences.

For myself, I simply don’t know. I know that I have rejected Calvin / Augustine and have adopted a broadly open view of the universe (i.e. history) as a hermeneutical principle for reading the Bible and doing Christianity. I wouldn’t say that I was a preterist (or not a preterist). Rejecting the view of another is much easier than creating a view yourself which is coherent and will stand the test of time. I have refuted the Calvinist and the Platonic orthodoxies entirely by myself as an independent exercise and the conclusions I have reached are mine. After all that hard work and soul searching and questioning of things that were ingrained in me or dear to me, let alone the people involved, I am not simply going to swallow the first replacement theory presented to me but obviously I would like to weigh the evidence carefully in just the same way.

So, rather than hear how the hyper-preterists are the worst people on Earth, (referring to a number of your recent posts) I would be extremely grateful to you as you seem to have a lot of light to shed on the matter to shed some of it on me in a positive manner, i.e. how your own beliefs hang together, what was Josephus recounting, what kind of age are we living in now, what can we look forward to, etc., etc. and what justifications you have for them.

Many thanks.

Re: Preterism and Openness

Hello Desert Reign,

I’m no longer a hyperpreterists & my point is, even while I was one, being a hyperpreterist & a Calvinist is as you pointed out, a conflict. Most hyperpreterists actually come from a very, very Arminianistic background, being mainly from the "church of Christ" background (this includes, Max King — the man credited with "founding" hyperpreterism in 1971, Tim King his son, Don Preston the chief spokesman for hyperpreterism, Virgil Vaduva the number one promoter of hyperpreterism & a whole host of others) This isn’t a slam, it is simply a fact. The correlation between the "church of Christ" background of hyperpreterism & a NON-determinist view is that hyperpreterists, like "church of Christ" advocates believe God allowed the the Church to fall into complete apostasy in one way or another (see Restoration Movement) where the true Church & Gospel had to be "restored". Thus it is easy for a "church of Christ" advocate to go from this to the notion that hyperpreterism is true, in complete contradiction to EVERYTHING that has been considered historically Christian. Again, not a slam — just a fact.

This ties into point #2 where Christian history refutes the hyperpreterist premise. It is important to note that the Reformers were NOT advocating the Church had completely apostasized as did the later faction called the "Restorationists". As a matter of fact, the Reformers didn’t just oppose Roman Catholicism but the Reformers ALSO opposed what was considered "radical reformers" who like the Restorationists wanted to pry up everything that went before in Christian history & completely start over. This is also why the hyperpreterists think that hyperpreterism & Emergent would be a good match — since people like Brian McLaren for instance have advocated what he calls "a new kind of Christian[ity]" — implying that Christianity has been wrongheaded all of these years.

I’m not here to say "hyperpreterists are the worst people on Earth" but simply alert the motivations behind the hyperpreterists attempted relationship with the Emergent community. So also, in that way I’m not here to promote "my own belief" — nor do I think Andrew would appreciate me highjacking the threads anymore than it seems I have. Lastly, we have to be careful because the way you framed it ALREADY accepts the hyperpreterist premise. It is similar to the environmentalist movement which demands we enact "green laws" without letting people even debate if the entire premise of global warming is correct or not. They want us to start with their premise whether true or not & then rangle over details which may be altogether refuted by correction of the premise.

My purpose of any interaction with hyperpteterism — at least for the next few years — is not to get into the details with them UNTIL first we look at whether the premise is true or not. Hyperpreterism wants us to believe God did NOT guide His Church for nearly 2000 years when it comes to the important aspect of eschatology. Is this premise sound?



Re: Preterism and Openness

Thanks for explaining all that Roderick and it was helpful. 

No I don’t think your premise is sound. Not logically anyway. But as I previously said, I probably agree with it anyway. It is not sound logically a) because it is possible that God did try to guide his church but that no one was around at the time who was open to listen to him, b) because it is also possible that God didn’t think it was important enough a subject to merit particular attention and that in keeping with his grace and gentlemanliness, he didn’t want to make a big thing about it. More important was that people understood the demands of holiness such as with Ananias and Saphira, c) because absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

My own view is probably best expressed the way Andrew expressed his here.

I would reiterate that Virgil’s view is unacceptable to me on the simple argument that the flood story is not intended to be historical, combined with an open view of history. There can’t therefore be a parallel in any historical sense with New Testament events. However, I would have one reservation about rejecting it altogether and that is this. There is an argument that prophecy can have multiple fulfillment. Although Andrew is not explicit about this in his article linked above, it seems to be an assumption of it. Thus, Jesus may have visited in judgement in 70 ad. but that does not preclude him from visiting in judgement at a later point. Typololgical principles almost demand this. But the argument from typology or from multiple fulfillment is only correct when based on hindsight. It’s an alluring argument based on God’s own consistency but it’s not watertight and effectively allows you to believe whatever you want about prophecy.

If the argument is wrong, then we are possibly left with a situation where Jesus did in fact come back in 70 ad but that there will be a resurrection and final judgement at some other time which is not associated with Jesus ‘coming back’. Perhaps that is what Andrew would understand anyway, I don’t know. There are clearly limitations in the arguments on both sides and both sides have options, sometimes well disguised, to allow their beliefs to be justified even though they are potentially false.  The argument must stand or fall on the positive evidence and so in that sense I guess I would be more willing to listen to the details of the system and debate them than perhaps you are at this point. Which is why I asked you specifically about Josephus. But don’t feel you have to respond to that particularly if you don’t want to as I daresay there are other places I can find out more about it.

Keep it friendly

Roderick, I appreciate the fact that you have strong views about the terrible ‘hyperpreterists’, but please don’t turn it into another slanging match. If you do, I will simply unpublish your comments. I’m happy to host a considerate discussion about how we interpret biblical texts, no matter how controversial, but not a partisan squabble. Thanks.

Re: Keep it friendly

 No slanging match here, simply alerting you to the FACT that hyperpreterists (terrible or otherwise) aren’t always upfront with their perspective audience & the offering of this book as a mere creationism book is an example. 


Re: The Rainbow Over

And of course the primaeval history is no more than the Biblical way of
explaining why we are what we are now. Other cultures have other
methods and literary themes and we should not be overly focussed on the
historicity of such events.  … The
literary explains the real: if the universe is open (not predestined)
then the flood never happened, Adam and Eve never happened, but it is a
real explanation just as Jesus is a real Messiah, the real image of the invisible God, the real hope of resurrection and salvation. 

Great post!  I’ve recently come to believe this is all too true.  Denis Lamoureux recently published an exegetical masterpiece, Evolutionary Creation, that would be right up your alley in regard to the historicity of Genesis 1-11.


Mike Beidler

Re: The Rainbow Over

Thanks Mike.

I am thinking of a new thread subject which will expand on this idea. It has to do with the nature of the universe as open, although seen not as a physical concept but more a logical one, i.e. determining modes of thought rather than actual or physical matter. Don’t hold your breath too long though…


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