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What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

Duncan’s post on the narrative of Revelation has sparked an interesting dispute about the relationship between an emerging theology and preterism. Since the conversation isn’t directly relevant to the post, I wonder if we might explore its implications separately. It’s an opportunity to think a bit about what we mean by an emerging theology and how we might negotiate the boundaries between different dogmatic traditions as well as between modern and postmodern ways of thinking.

In an attempt to impose some gentle editorial discipline on proceedings, I made the following comment:

Gentlemen, could I remind you that the express purpose of this website is to develop an emerging theology for an emerging church? That can be interpreted in many different ways, but it is not such a broad purpose that any and every theological dispute can be accommodated. My view is that eschatology is of considerable importance for an emerging theology, but that needs to be demonstrated, not assumed. Please do not simply import these aggressive preterist discussions into Open Source Theology without asking how they are constructively relevant to the stated purpose.

This elicited what I regard as a thoughtful and helpful response from plymouthrock (I’m not sure why John took exception to this).

My (rather patronizing?) intervention was directed far more against Roderick’s persistent and shrill complaining than against Duncan’s post, but it reflects the fact that I’m not at all sure how to police the troubled and ill-defined frontier between an emerging eschatology and preterism. Of course, ‘police’ may be entirely the wrong word to use in the context of an ‘open source theology’, but it certainly feels that way at times.

More to the point, no system of thought will survive or develop without some sense of internal consistency and awareness of its boundaries. What I don’t want to happen is for this site to become yet another theological forum for people to air willy nilly their peculiar views. ‘Open source’ does not mean unbounded or free-for-all or aimless. I think that the broad notion of an emerging theology - emerging from the collapse of modern and Christendom theologies - is serious enough and coherent enough to warrant a deliberate focus.

I agree with plymouthrock that preterism is likely to have continuing relevance for the ‘reexamination of the metanarrative of Scripture’, but I am very nervous of the baggage that it brings with it - mainly on the evidence of some rather unseemly interactions that have occurred on this site. I am concerned, too, that an emerging theology may get so entangled in disputes over eschatology that we lose sight of its missional, communal and (using the term carefully) ‘evangelical’ aspects. This is why I argue in Re: Mission that although a historically framed eschatology is essential for understanding the story of the New Testament, it works nevertheless within a larger story about the bringing into existence of a ‘new creation’ people.

I’m not sure it makes sense to say, as plymouthrock does, that The Coming of the Son of Man ‘owes much to preterism even if its author knew nothing of it when he wrote it’. The book owes much, in my mind, i) to historical-critical scholarship, and ii) to some sort of postmodern-emerging reorientation of an ‘evangelical’ (same caveats apply) theology towards narratives of authentic human experience. That convergence (approximately Tom Wright meets Brian Mclaren?) seems to me to be characteristic of - if not definitive for - much of the theology that currently carries the ‘emerging’ sticker.

My feeling about Duncan’s original post is that although it can be made to fit the purpose of developing an emerging theology, it is presented in the style and idiom of a defence of a certain preterist position - though to be fair, the appended comment regarding Wright’s views helps offset that impression. I think preterists will need to take a step back from their particular dogmatic commitments - indeed, we all need to do this in our different ways - and find a place from which we can explore the metanarrative constructively together without descending into sectarian polemics and name-calling. A comment by callmeed on the Mark Driscoll, the church and the supremacy of Christ thread highlights the difficulty of doing this, but I think that in some rough sense it can be achieved. I would stress, of course, that taking a step back from our prior commitments does not necessarily mean abandoning them.

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Comments

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

Andrew, I love the title of your post. 

If I may offer some feedback, I believe that what is being perceived as "agressiveness" with some preterists is in fact excitement to share with the community something relevant and something one perceives as crucial or critical in his or her understanding of Scripture.  I submit that the reason that some preterists may react to criticism the way they do is because simply many have been literally hunted down as heretics by their churches and even families; when they are being accused of heresy, gnosticism, you name it, it becomes rather difficult to interact on a level that is conducive to further fruitful conversation.  I would personally expect better treatment of preterists from most people here, but again, fault can be found with everyone.

Also, one does not have to attach a label called "preterism" to his eschatology in order to hold to a highly contextualized eschatology placed in the first century.  I’ve met so many people who were already there and had no idea there was a name for this thing. Whether it’s Eusebius, Wright, King, McLaren, DeMar…even you…you guys all contributed to the shaping of an eschatology which is fundamentally preterist in nature.  This is not something to be proud of or be defensive of - it’s a matter of what you said, the development of an emerging eschatology that is relevant to our families, our communities, our churches. Congrats…you are a preterist…fundamentally! :)

Preterism is very non-systematic and organic by its very nature - it cannot be otherwise.  This new eschatology we are striving for cannot be systematic, otherwise it will fail to be relevant. It has to be an organic eschatology, post-preterist, post-emergent, post-modern, post-dispensational in nature, otherwise it will again become an elitist system that is only relevant to seminarians (no offense to any of the ThDs frequenting OST), disconnected from people’s hearts and lives.

Hope that helps, and by the way, I dislike the word "preterism" as much as you. Unfortunately we do have to use some sort of descriptors when we discuss those complex issues.

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

"Conversation is a game with some hard rules: say only what you mean; say it as accurately as you can; listen to and respect what the other says, however different or other; be willing to correct or defend your opinions if challenged by the conversation partner; be willing to argue if necessary, to confront if demanded, to endure necessary conflict, to change your mind if the evidence suggests it."

David Tracy. Plurality and Ambiguity, p. 19.

The problem with being part of an "ism" is that the last phrase of Tracy’s definition of a conversation almost never comes into play.

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

Very well said, and that is one of the problems with preter-ism! On the other side of the coin,  I’ve been hanging out in emergent circles for several years now, and I am observing the same tendency to be drawn to a sort of emergent-ism, attempting to systematize things and develop some sort of list that one can hand to someone and say, "hey, this is my -ism…I am emergent!"

Ultimately is a human tendency to try to settle on an issue and decide you have arrived and you are done, that conversation is over, that there is nothing else to talk about.  McLaren put it best when he used "unfinished Christian" in the subtitle of his Generous Orthodoxy book.  Maybe we can all stand to realize on a daily basis that we are on a journey and we are ultimately unfinished.

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

Andrew,

I hear what you are saying but I am not totally clear on its meaning. I think the key to it is in the following quote; could you elaborate a little more on it? Thanks.

More to the point, no system of thought will survive or develop without some sense of internal consistency and awareness of its boundaries. What I don’t want to happen is for this site to become yet another theological forum for people to air willy nilly their peculiar views. ‘Open source’ does not mean unbounded or free-for-all or aimless. I think that the broad notion of an emerging theology - emerging from the collapse of modern and Christendom theologies - is serious enough and coherent enough to warrant a deliberate focus.

PS

I do find it a little amusing that what I wrote became more acceptable when I quoted Wright. I will have to do that more often ;- )

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

Andrew,

Thanks for your thoughtful words. I am glad you received my post in the way I intended.

Virgil’s post somewhat centers my thoughts. Namely, we (various preterists who regularly write on planetpreterist.com and other sites) are very excited about sharing and learning here on OST with no agenda other than that expressed on this site.

I think the preterist camp (I so hate the word too) and the emerging camp (especially the thoughtful writers here) have much in common and have much to learn from each other. It seems to me that we are all interested in bringing clarity to Scripture so that we might bring healing to the world.

I hope we can foster continuing dialogue. I for one am glad about our interchange and I think we are making great strides in creating synergy.

An Emergent Smoke Detector?

After reading this post, I can imagine an Emergent smoke detector, that because of so many postmodernists’ reluctance to call "evil evil & good good" (Is 5:20) such a smoke detector may sound something like this: "There may be a fire but I am uncertain & to label anything is too ‘shrill’ & I would not want to sound like I am complaining that there might be a fire so just forget I alarmed & go back to whatever you were doing".

Sheesh, postmodernists are as elitist & "agenda" oriented as they come.

www.thekingdomcome.com

Re: An Emergent Smoke Detector?

Roderick, a fire isn’t always a bad thing - you can use it for cooking, smelting, refining, reshaping metal, burning refuse, clearing waste ground, and so. It can get really frustrating if a smoke detector goes off everytime a fire is started. So the issue is what sort of ‘fire’ we are dealing with - and is that even the most appropriate metaphor?

And where are the postmodernists on this website who are calling evil good and good evil?

Re: An Emergent Smoke Detector?

Very good Andrew, now we are getting somewhere — the question is — is Hyperpreterism "good"?  But even BEFORE we get to that question, we should ask IS HYPERPRETERISM EVEN CHRISTIAN? (this is a Christian website right?)

Look, Andrew you obviously have a lot of hyperpreterists here who are trying to make their point.  You obviously have an interest in it (by joining the main hyperpreterist website).  So, here again is my point.  HYPERPRETERISM IS PRESENTING SOMETHING NEVER BELIEVED BY HISTORICAL CHRISTIANITY.

 That…

1. Jesus returned once & for all in AD70

2. The resurrection of the believers happened in AD70

3. The Judgment of the wicked & righteous happened in AD70

and I am saying that this is NOTHING like ANYTHING historic Christians have EVER believed.  It seems it is worth the smoke detector to be sounding on this.   Even Virgil Vaduva, the de facto current leader of hyperpreterism AGREES WITH MY ARTICLE that hyperpreterism can’t ever be systematic when he says on this very forum: 

Preterism is very non-systematic and organic by its very nature - it
cannot be otherwise.  This new eschatology we are striving for cannot
be systematic, otherwise it will fail to be relevant.
(source)

So why are you berating me for what I’m saying? 

The reason I LEFT 15 years of being a hyperpreterists is that I finally realized that to be a hyperpreterist meant that I could no longer consider myself a Christian…at least not in the historic sense.  And other hyperpreterists, including one of Virgil’s own co-admins for his website realized this & instead of returning to historic Christianity, has become a functioning atheist.  Andrew, you can hate my guts, you can get annoyed when a smoke detector goes off when you are merely trying to cook dinner, but if you take the battery out, just wait until a real fire comes.  I submit to you & the readers of opensource theology, that hyperpreterism is a REAL FIRE which will consume your faith & life just as it has so many others.  You should tell these hyperpreterists to pack their bags & stop trying to weasle their way into your lives.

And before someone comes & tries to make comparison of hyperpreterism to the Reformation as if the points of the Reformation were something completely unheard of, let it be known that the Reformers believed historic Christianity was on their side.  They appealed to it & even wrote many confessions & documents in defense of it.  Hyperpreterism MUST abandon historic Christianity.  For example, a main proponent of hyperpreterism, Ed Stevens, utilizing J.S. Russell’s book The Parousia attempts to insert a 1st century rapture, in this way he claims all true Christians were removed from the planet leaving only behind "second rank" Christians.  In this way, he tries to explain why no Christians immediately AFTER AD70 held to anything like hyperpreterism.  See, are hyperpreterists going to tell you about that? If you are only going to listen to the hyperpreterists then you are going to get a "closed-source" view on this topic.

Thanks for the opportunity to bring this forth,

In Christ & His Church,

 Roderick

www.thekingdomcome.com

Re: An Emergent Smoke Detector?

Roderick,

So, because you are no longer a preterist and because Jared Coleman is an atheist, believing full preterist theory makes one not a Christian?

Here are a few authors, the list of which suggests full-preterist ideas as early 300 AD, not including, of course, the words of Christ and the apostles:

Eusebius (Proof of the Gospels, the Theophania circa 300 AD), Luis Alcasar (Vestigatio arcani Sensus in Apocalypsi, 1614), P.S. Desprez (The Apocalypse Fulfilled in the Consummation of the Mosaic Economy, 1854), F.W.Farrar (The Praeterist Interpretation from his book The Early Days of Christianity, 1882), Moses Stuart (Commentary on the Apocalypse, 1845), John Calvin (Preface to Commentary on Daniel by Thomas Myers, 1852), Marion Morris (Christ’s Second Coming Fulfilled, 1917), J.S. Russell (The Parousia, 1878), John Owen, Ernest Hampden-Cook (The Christ Has Come, 1891), the Weymouth New Testament, Samuel Lee (All Prophecy is Fulfilled, 1851, also discovered and edited Eusebius’ highly pret work The Theophania, above).

Now, to get to some of your points. Is a doctrinal proposition true simply because its found in the creeds? Is a biblical truth dependent upon what distinguished persons have or have not commented upon it or embraced it? I think you will agree with me that the answer is no.

Ultimately, I think you do damage to your arguments when you present them in such a vitriolic fashion. Perhaps, if you support your assertions with more biblical proof, others would listen more intently to what you have to say. If one wishes his or her arguments to be respected in the arena of biblical discourse, one must use biblical proofs to score points.

I think your presentation ultimately fails because you seem only to suggest that full preterist positions are invalid and should not be countenanced here because no one in history has ever embraced them. That, to me, seems a bit spurrious, given the list above and the fact that your assertions lack a biblical core (at least from what I’ve read so far).

Again, this site, as Andrew has clearly stated, is about formulating an emerging theology. If preterists or any others put forward compelling biblical reasons why their thoughts should be part of this emerging theology, then so be it. But I don’t think anyone here is going to stop considering a valid observation simply because someone is angrily huffing and puffing about a viewpoint’s alleged novelty or unprecedented status. It is innovative biblical scholarship that attracts the positive attention here not rants and raves. Sorry.

I, personally, would love to hear your biblical reasons why full preterist ideas should not be part of an emerging theology.

Yet, keep in mind, what we are engaged in here is writing and examaning the Code of the new theology, using civil discourse, well reasoned postulates, scholarship, ingenuity, and love. And quite frankly, your posts seem to comport with another set of ideals that aren’t a part of the intended culture here. It is not that others do not wish to read your work, we just wish to read it without all of the unnecessary personal attacks and nonsense, which have no home here. Here, please try submitting loving, collegial, biblical posts engendered toward finding the truth of Scripture for a new and emerging theology. Thank you for your time.

Re: An Emergent Smoke Detector?

Roderick, first of all, you don’t have to shout. I can hear you perfectly well without the capital letters and bold text.

Secondly, the question is not ‘Is hyperpreterism even Christian?’ The question is ‘What can the emerging church learn from preterism?’ It’s at the top of the page. I presume that ‘hyperpreterism’ refers to some rather extreme form of preterism. If that’s the case, then there is already a likelihood that your reaction to the question will miss the mark.

Thirdly, this is not, in my view, fundamentally about the rights and wrongs of preterism. It is a matter of hermeneutics: How do we read the New Testament? How do we think about its relation to history. How do we develop from it a viable belief system? As I’ve said before, that conversation can be had quite reasonably on literary or historical grounds without reference to preterism in any form and without the participation of preterists.

Fourthly, I agree that the consistent historical reading of the New Testament is likely to conflict with ‘historic Christianity’ at a number of points. Tom Wright’s work (and he is only the visible tip of a rather large iceberg of moderately conservative scholarship) has challenged a number of traditional, Reformation, and popular theological assumptions. My argument would be that we are at a juncture when the whole structure of Christendom theology (which to a large degree is what we mean by ‘historic Christianity’) needs to be reassessed, and that the only way we can do this is by trying to understand the nature of the New Testament in particular as a historically grounded text. I think we should give biblical Christianity priority over historic Christianity.

That means, finally, that I refuse to conduct this debate as a slanging match between rival eschatological positions, or as a witch-hunt, no matter how well intended. We can look at the biblical texts. We can discuss the history of the early church or of theology. We can discuss respectfully the dynamics and difficulties of contemporary theological conversations after Christendom and after modernism. But I won’t put up with intelligent contribution to the debate being condemned by labelling.

So if anyone wishes to defend the three statements regarding AD 70 that you list on the grounds that they are consistent with the premises and scope of an emerging theology, then they are welcome to do so. Then we can consider whether they make sense exegetically, how they work within the whole biblical narrative, and whether they really misrepresent biblical Christianity as badly as you seem to think. I just don’t see that we are helped very much in that process by a strident polemic against hyperpreterism.

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

So, because you are no longer a preterist and because Jared Coleman is an atheist, believing full preterist theory makes one not a Christian?

The issue, at least for me, is that full-preterism leads to a direct denial of a future bodily resurrection, eradication of death, and new creation. If resurrection already happened, what is left for the believer today? A dualism that borders on Gnosticism. At least in my opinion, bodily resurrection is fundamental to the Christian faith; it is present in the Apostolic Fathers, the Apologists, the Creeds, the Reformation, and so on. Consider 1Co 15:13, for example: “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.” I think to believe that Jesus rose from the dead is also to hope for vindication. This hope is both challenging and absurd to most of the world. What happens when we throw it out and replace it with something else?

I don’t think we should be so dogmatic or “us against them” in discussing theology; that’s definitely not the purpose of Open Source Theology. But I also think we need to draw a line: there are certainly fundamentals to the faith that cannot be discarded. For example, some consider Marcus Borg a Christian, but he denies that Jesus rose bodily from the dead, so is he really a Christian? If Marcus Borg is a Christian, then what in the world is a Christian? Maybe we need to answer these questions before we support or oppose a condemnation of full-preterism.

Andrew made a good point, though. Are we trying to learn from the dogmas of preterism or from the hermeneutics behind preterism? I think the hermeneutics behind preterism have much to offer, but I think some full-preterist doctrines (or denials of doctrines) are dangerous. However, it seems to me most of the full-preterists that come to this site, as well as their opponents, are more interested in their own dogmas than hermeneutics. In other words, they are more interested in bringing individuals from an opposing camp to their own than deconstructing both camps and seeing what makes them tick. Maybe I have the same problem – maybe we all do.

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

Please excuse me if I bristle a little here. Why are preterist perspectives labeled as dogmas? Enarchay, you made some very dogmatic statements about the resurrection. That fine, but let us all admit we have strong opinions on things. I believe that progress is made through the sharing of those ideas and opinions (iron sharpening iron).

The article I wrote on the narrative of Revelation was not some dogma I read in a book. It was my own; I have never seen it put quite the way I did in that article (maybe I need to read more ;- ). As to hermeneutics, the single most important hermeneutic principle in interpreting Revelation is to fully look at (or unpack as Andrew might say) the numerous OT allusions in the book. That is how one strips away some of the traditions that hamper us seeing Revelation as its recipients did. I did some of that in my article.

For all the comments that have come up not one person has really interacted with the article. No one has said that is interesting but here is what I perceive the narrative of Revelation to be. The only thing I have seen is implicit criticism of it because it is a preterist perspective.

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

Please excuse me if I bristle a little here. Why are preterist perspectives labeled as dogmas? Enarchay, you made some very dogmatic statements about the resurrection. That fine, but let us all admit we have strong opinions on things.

I believe there are fundamentals Christians across denominations should be able to agree on, so I think there is a difference between debating eschatology and whether or not resurrection is bodily. For example, the early Christians did not all come to an agreement on a coherent eschatology, but most if not all of them stood against the Gnostics who denied bodily resurrection.

The question then is: what are the fundamentals of Christianity? It seems many within the emerging church are weary of trying to answer a question like that because of the baggage the answerer brings with him and the division (warranted or unwarranted) his answer may cause. However, if we let the line between Christian and non-Christian – dare I say, orthodoxy and heresy – fade too much, we will not be able to tell the difference between the two anymore.

To elucidate the point I was trying to make in my previous post, consider debates between Jehovah’s Witnesses and fundamentalist heresy-hunters. Both have strong convictions, but the convictions are structured into denominations. It seems to me that some preterists – and I didn’t really think this about you through your post – structure their beliefs into a system (labeled preterism) to which they try to recruit others. Equally, their opponents (like the heresy-hunters) attack them for the structure without even addressing the beliefs of which it is composed. I think the problem with some preterists and anti-preterists is they come to Open Source Theology with the structure or an attack against the structure instead of discussing the hermeneutics or beliefs that make up the structure. Does that make much sense?

I had some trouble trying to get my thoughts into coherent writing, so please forgive me, especially if you thought I was attacking you.

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

Enarchay,

I thank you for your tone of reconciliation. My bristling was over the fact that preterism and dogma kept being equated. I hear what you are saying about structures, but in the same breath you are strongly advocating a structure (and even questioning whether one is a Christian if they do not agree with that structure). Again we all have our structures we need to acknowlege them to ourselves and others (even arguing that there should be no structures is a structure of sorts!)

Andrew has said he wants to deconstruct Scripture. I think what he means by that is to strip away tradition and look as much as possible at the original message of a book or passage (please forgive me in advance Andrew if I am misunderstanding you). One way preterism can help with this is to advocate that one should follow the timeline that Scripture gives for a certain issue without presupposing what the fulfillment of that issue is. That is, to put aside one’s preconception of the fulfillment and let the timing given in Scripture help one to formulate what the fulfillment is.

For example the usual approach to the Second Coming has been to see it as a physical event. If that is the case then all the many verses of the nearness of the parousia have to be explained away. The concept of imminence (the idea that the parousia could happen soon, not that it would) is used by many to do this. The concept of two parousias is used by partial preterists. Other Preterists say (correctly I think), wait; look at the timing given and let that help one in formulating what the Second Coming entails rather than starting with a preconceived notion of what the Second Advent entails and trying to make the timing fit that notion.

When it comes to the resurrection I do not know what the fulfillment entails. Our body is sown a natural body it is raised a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:35-50). What exactly that means I do not know and do not particularly want to debate. I do however see a timing given in Scripture that I think gets swept under the rug because of preconceived notions of what the resurrection entails:

For example I see the tribulation happening and then the resurrection at the AD 70 shattering of the Jewish nations. Daniel 12:1-7.

I see James saying the Judge (and thus the resurrection and judgment) was at the door. James 5:9.

I see the dead being judged at the destruction of those who were destroying the Land (of Israel) in Rev. 11:15-18 (again equating the beginning of the resurrection with the AD 70 destruction of Israel).

I see those killed by the beast being resurrected at the beginning of the millennium (which I see as starting at AD 70). This is not just a spiritual resurrection, it is the resurrection of dead believers killed by the beast (Rev. 20:4; cf. Rev. 6:9-11); it is called “the first resurrection.”

I see Jesus saying “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done” Rev. 22:12; cf. Matthew 16:27-28

Personally I see the resurreciton and judgment as beginning at AD 70 and being ongoing from that time. I see belivers today as being those spoken of in Rev. 14.

And I heard a voice from heaven saying write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’ ‘Yes’ says the Spirit, ‘so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.’ Rev. 14:13

OK I have spent way too much time on this (I am trying to finish my book, The Antichrist and the Second Coming). My hermeneutic point in all this is to say that one way to get a fresh understanding of Scripture is to put one’s preconceived idea of the fulfillment of a given issue to the side and simply follow the timeline given in Scripture and see where that leads. Then come back and see if you can integrate the tension that is often created between the two.

So one way Preterism is helpful is that it holds one’s feet to the fire when it comes to the timeline found in Scripture.

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

I hear what you are saying about structures, but in the same breath you are strongly advocating a structure (and even questioning whether one is a Christian if they do not agree with that structure).

Not exactly. I am advocating a belief that belongs to a/the structure of the Christian faith I fear will collapse without it.

Our body is sown a natural body it is raised a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:35-50). What exactly that means I do not know and do not particularly want to debate.

If you are so unsure, then why are you so sure Jesus rose bodily from the dead? I believe the early Christians looked at Jesus when they looked at their own future, so whether a resurrection happened in the past or not, Jesus is the model to which it must conform.

By the way, good luck on finishing your book.

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

I don’t think we should be so dogmatic or “us against them” in
discussing theology; that’s definitely not the purpose of Open Source
 Theology.

That doesn’t make any sense, and this is the second time you are throwing out garbage blanket statement attacking preterists and mentioning gnosticism. You just finished preaching to all of us what your dogma is and why we should all agree with you while in the same breath you are saying we shouldn’t be dogmatic. Not cool…I am glad someone else pointed out too.

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

That doesn’t make any sense, and this is the second time you are throwing out garbage blanket statement attacking preterists and mentioning gnosticism. You just finished preaching to all of us what your dogma is and why we should all agree with you while in the same breath you are saying we shouldn’t be dogmatic.

You missed the big but difficult to define “But”…

Plus, I admitted, “Maybe I have the same problem.”

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

We are all dogmatic about issues we feel strongly about - the key for me is not as much dogmatism as it is being respectful of other opinions.  To me the whole conversation falls aparts when someone tells me that what I believe leads to heresy and gnosticism; there is no reasonable response I can give to that.  The logic would lead one to believe that Christianity leads to bombing abortion clinics or emergent theology leads to denial of truth.

I think we can all try to get this thing out of the gutter and do better without having to offend. If you have concerns about preterism leading to gnosticism, you need to perhaps lay them out exegetically or provide hermeneutial grounds for such a statement, and I think folks would be happy to continue the conversation in that vein. I know I would;a lot more people would benefit greatly from such an exchange :)

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

Sometimes I feel sorry for God. I feel sorry because he has created such a miserable, stiff-necked people to worship Him. These posts have everything to do with what human creatures are, and not much to do with what God is and what God wants us to be. He offers to all of us his friendship and commands we do the same to and for each other. I feel shame.

Pray for me and I will pray for you.

May you find peace.

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

Your comment reminded me of Paul’s words: "O wretched man that I am"

I will trade you prayers brother.

A house of straw...

And therein is the problem.  If we are just sharing "opinions" — who cares.  If faith & the truth of God is all relative to what someone "thinks" of it, then all this "conversing" is a waste of time.  I WANT TO INTERACT with someone who believes there is MORE than his mere "opinion".  If I spend lots of time in a conversation just to find out the people I’m talking with don’t REALLY believe anything, then I feel robbed of my time.  I’d rather discuss issues with people who at least believe something — whether we call that being "dogmatic" or not.  I have no time for some guy who wants to talk & talk & talk & never come to any conclusion.  That is like building a house out of straw bales & dropping out of society.  Let the hippie-wanna-bes sit around & talk about "opinions".  I am in this Creation to learn more about God in a definitive & definite way…otherwise I might as well go the way of the many former hyperpreterists turned atheist.

Secondly, I keep seeing this notion that we are trying to "build a new theology" — see, that is a complete disconnect from historic Christianity.  Why does it have to be "new"?  What was wrong with the Christianity that has been passed down through the ages?  I’m all for Reform, but to have this notion we are supposed to scrap the old & start over — that is NOT Christian.

www.thekingdomcome.com

Re: A house of straw...

Roderick,

Perhaps this isn’t the forum for you.

Free-Hand

I think what you really mean is, "perhaps you want me to go away because it is difficult to propagate your hyperpreterism with me telling people the truth about it". 

www.thekingdomcome.com

Re: Free-Hand 2

Roderick,

And yes, I am anxiously waiting for you to present you biblical case against “hyperpreterism”

And as that post, if ever produced, is likely not going to fit the mold for this site, you can email it to me at eval(unescape(‘%64%6f%63%75%6d%65%6e%74%2e%77%72%69%74%65%28%27%3c%61%20%68%72%65%66%3d%22%6d%61%69%6c%74%6f%3a%74%68%65%72%6f%63%6b%62%6f%74%74%6f%6d%73%40%67%6d%61%69%6c%2e%63%6f%6d%22%3e%74%68%65%72%6f%63%6b%62%6f%74%74%6f%6d%73%40%67%6d%61%69%6c%2e%63%6f%6d%3c%2f%61%3e%27%29%3b’)). In this way, you can present a candid case without spectators.

Sincerely waiting,

Plymouthrock

Re: Free-Hand 2

Nice touch plymouthrock…implying I’m afraid to present in front of spectators.  You can keep "anxiously" waiting for something I’ve done time & time again ALREADY.

If you are talking about talking with you as if hyperpreterism is valid, again to discuss "green legislation" makes no since UNLESS first the person buys into the whole global warming premise.  I don’t buy into the hyperpreterist premise so why would I discuss hyperpreterist conclusions as if they are valid?  Nearly 2000 years of historic Christian interpretation (pre-Roman Catholic, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Reformed/Protestant, & Modern Evangelical) stands against what hyperpreterism advocates.  So Plymouthrock, if you aren’t going to consider that, then nothing I would say no matter how much Scripture text I quote would convince you.  I’m not into talking & talking with people & them never wanting to actually conclude anything.

 But, I probably will stop posting here for a while.  I’ll wait 6 months & pop in & see how much hyperpreterism has been allowed to influence this forum. 

www.thekingdomcome.com

Re: Free-Hand 3

That’s great news Roderick! See you in six months.

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

Roderick,

Well, for starters, I am not a hyper-preterist, but whatever works for you.

But, I meant what I said. Given what you wrote in your last post, this may not be the forum for you.

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

I have some questions:

Let say “the” preterist view on eschatology is correct. (I am aware of the different views within preterism).

- How should we define our new relation or coventant with God? What is the new dynamic in this relationship? What is “new creation”, what is “ressurection”?

- Can we use or transport prophecies from the “old era” before it’s fulfilment in Christ live, death and ressurection, into the “new era” beyond 70AD?

- The same question: can we do that with the NT texts even if they are fulfilled in 70AD. Are there still judgements like the judgement on Jerusalem or Rome? Is it trasportable, and, if so, by what hermeneutical priciple?

- Is the “new creation” and the “judgement over Jerusalem and Rome” working towards a “christendom” mindset or should it lead to a more monastic view of church and politics?

- What are the ethical and political implications for a “post-biblical” time. What is the role of the church over agains the powers and political arena’s?

- What is the “eschatology” within a preterist mindset? What should we expect? What do we hope for? And what should the mission of the church be, flowing out this futere hope? What is our mission? Is it consummation in stead or new creation?

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

Those are questions that not just "preterists" struggle with - anyone who sees a large number of prophecies as having been already fulfilled asks those questions.  I will tell you where I am in my journey, I cannot speak for anyone else.

How should we define our new relation or coventant with God? What is the new dynamic in this relationship? What is “new creation”, what is “ressurection”?

We are the New Israel of God, his new covenant people.  "Old" Israel seems to be a physical shadow, an example to illustrate a spiritual reality of a new covenant, a new relationship between the creator and his people.  We are now in God’s presence, with direct access to him, unfettered by a temple, a curtain or sin which separated humanity before.  We are all priests, able to walk straight into his presence.  We are the "new creation" (Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, all things have become new - 2 Cor 5) I see little to indicate that Paul is refering to the re-creation of the entire physical universe - rather he is speaking in terms of covenants, relationships, systems of worship.

Can we use or transport prophecies from the “old era” before it’s fulfilment in Christ live, death and ressurection, into the “new era” beyond 70AD?

I think that’s quite possible and I don’t see a reason for fulfilled prophecies to be contemporary relevant to all people in all times.  I have already written something here on cyclical narrative and eschatology.  I hope you find it interesting.

The same question: can we do that with the NT texts even if they are fulfilled in 70AD. Are there still judgements like the judgement on Jerusalem or Rome? Is it trasportable, and, if so, by what hermeneutical priciple?

If you are speaking in terms of general principles, I believe that is the case.  God pronounced his judgment on Israel and Rome as a result of their persecution and rejection of his people.  I am not sure you can justify this conclusion hermeneutically alone, but historical observation seems to indicate that God is actively involved all or many aspects of his people’s lives.

Is the “new creation” and the “judgement over Jerusalem and Rome” working towards a “christendom” mindset or should it lead to a more monastic view of church and politics?

Many Christians today see "the Kingdom of God" in terms of conquering non-believers or Jesus coming back to vengefully and fearfully convert the entire world.  To me, the Kingdom of God needs to match Christ’s description: my Kingdom is not of this world…the Kingdom is among you…the Kingom is within you, etc.  Clearly, the Kingdom, however we choose to describe it, cannot "arrive" through political or military force. For quite a while now I have seen this Kingdom as a matter of interconnectivity between people and their hearts, people and their God.  A genuine desire to fulfill Christ’s words and walk his walk will naturally result into a physical reality that is an illustration of his words and walk.   This makes us equal partners in God’s plans for the future of humanity, not spectators watching the future unfold.  That is MY hope, that we become active parts in building the Kingdom, not sit back and wait for it to come about.

What are the ethical and political implications for a “post-biblical” time. What is the role of the church over agains the powers and political arena’s?

I am still trying to deal with those issues; much of this question was answered above, but many "preterists" are trying to iron out the implication of their theology/eschatology.

What is the “eschatology” within a preterist mindset? What should we expect? What do we hope for? And what should the mission of the church be, flowing out this futere hope? What is our mission? Is it consummation in stead or new creation?

See my answer two questions back.  Revelation 22 describes a river of life, with a tree of life in the middle of the New Jerusalem.  To me this is clearly prophetic language describing God’s Church, his New Jerusalem, with Christ, the tree of life offering healing to all the nations (the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations).  The narrative of Revelation describes relationships, both horizontal and vertical. Note that all things are centered in the tree of life; note that the city has no need for light, because God dwells there - a direct allusion to the temple menorah being the only source of light in the holy place. 

Clearly, in this new creation, whether it is past or future, there is and will be a real need for the "healing of the nations."  I believe that is another thing we should hope for, and I believe that is our mission together with Christ: to facilitate healing for the world.  I don’t think many people know what that means exactly, but we are in the process of trying to figure it out.

I hope this helps. :)

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

There is considerable congruence between the conclusions presented by Virgil in his responses to jjterbeek outlining his own preterist interpretation of the NT, and those of Andrew arising from his own historical realist interpretation. Virgil seems to have rather more to say than Andrew in relating his views to a faith worked out within the contemporary world - but quite what ‘healing for the nations’ might actually mean, apart from ethical platitudes, is another question.

My perennial observation with Andrew’s position, and with the preterism which Virgil represents can be summarised thus: that both interpretative strategies find little place for the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in the present experience of the believer (or the believing community). Ulterior to this is a toning down (or outright avoidance) of the issue of sin as a central concern of the scriptures - not simply in the experience of Israel, but in relation to creation in general.

In previous discussions with Virgil, I have observed that Virgil limits the significance of sin in the current experience of the believer to simple issues of obedience and disobedience to God’s commands. My understanding of the NT, and of Paul in particular, is that sin is seen as a much more deeply seated problem, requiring nothing less than an entire recycling of the believer - beginning with a deposit of the Spirit, concluding with a bodily resurrection.

Obviously in today’s emerging theological climate, there is a reaction against a narrow focus on the individual which this particular take on the cross and resurrection can produce. It is healthy to focus on the implications of the gospel (depending on what we mean by that word) for the world as a whole, and creation in general, and not simply for the individual. However, it is a mistake, I believe, to promote one kind of theological emphasis by rejecting another. Theology needs to be aware today, as it has done in the past, of the dangers of false antithesis.

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

Peter,

Call me old fashioned (just don’t call me modern ;- ) but I see a very individualist emphasis at the end of Revelation:

And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness, and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy. Behold I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murders and the idolators and everyone who loves and practices lying. I Jesus have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright and morning star. The Spirit and the bride say ‘Come,’ and let the one who hears say ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost…He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes I am coming quickly.’ Amen, Come Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:10-17

There is a lot in this quote; much more than I can deal with in this post, but let me just say the following:

I see the message we should be taking to the nations today as still being, Let the one who is thirsty come to Jesus (and become part of the New Jerusalem wife, cf. Rev. 21:9-10) and freely take the water of life. This is still quite relevant today. If we are only blessing the people of this world with good works and are not directing them towards Jesus, that is only half the gospel. Even though I am a preterist, I in no way see the great comission as ending at AD 70 (Matthew 28:18-20).

Re: What can an emerging theology learn from preterism?

Some comments in response, Peter:

1. A historical reading of the New Testament (which concerns not merely eschatology but also notably soteriology) does not mean that the Bible has nothing to say regarding the life of the believing community today. The issue has much more to do with how we account for the life of the believing community: are we defined or determined diachronically by historical narrative or synchronically by way of something that functions much more like myth? But under the historical reading we still remain subject to Christ as Lord, our life is shaped by the Spirit rather than by the Law, we have a complex ‘missional’ relationship to the surrounding culture, we declare that the God of the biblical narrative is sovereign over the nations, we articulate a divinely inspired wisdom, we practice mercy, compassion, justice and peace, and so on.

2. The historical reading also does not preclude the thought that the relationship of the believing community to God is made possible by, and is entirely dependent upon, the death of Christ. The family of Abraham was saved from complete destruction by the faithfulness of Jesus, his obedience unto death; and that is the basis for its ongoing ‘rightness’ before God. The fact that this was a historical event does not mean that it has no enduring significance. The exodus was a historical event through which a people was saved from slavery, but it remained determinative for Israel’s self-understanding.

3. Anyone who becomes part of this believing community must leave behind or repent of what belongs to the ‘macrocosm’ and become part of a transformed creational ‘microcosm’ - a people that owes its continuing existence and effectiveness to the pioneering faithfulness of Jesus. That is not a superficial or easy realignment: it involves, as you say, the ‘entire recycling of the believer’. But my  view is that, if we are to be faithful to the biblical narrative, the individual narrative must be assimilated into the prior corporate narrative - the story of a people delivered from the historical crisis of the wrath of God. I would also venture to say that there is a danger in modern evangelicalism of overstating the mythical, mystical, almost magical significance of Jesus’ death ‘in the present experience of the believer’. It easily becomes an excuse not to act as part of the people of God.

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