You are hereCalvinism and Preterism: An Appeal to Sanity.

Calvinism and Preterism: An Appeal to Sanity.


By Sam - Posted on 27 January 2005

by Samuel Frost
I mused a great deal about how to deal with the controversy Virgil Vaduva, a dear brother, decided to create with his bold statement that Calvinism and Preterism cannot mix. And you know what? He’s right.I mused a great deal about how to deal with the controversy Virgil Vaduva, a dear brother, decided to create with his bold statement that Calvinism and Preterism cannot mix. And you know what? He’s right.Now that I have your complete attention, let me say that Arminianism and Preterism cannot mix. What makes Arminianism a “non-futurist” system? Last I checked, every Arminianist since Jacobus Arminius was a futurist. What Virgil has attempted to do is to simply recast Arminianism within a Preterist framework. Why, then, cannot the Calvinist do the same?

Traditional Calvinism cannot be compatible with Preterism precisely because it is a system built upon an end of history. However, cannot one take the principles of what Augustine and Calvin taught (along with Luther) and rework them so that we can drop what needs to be dropped (like progressive sanctification), and keep what can be kept? That is exactly what Virgil has done with Arminianism and his Arminianist definition of “freewill.” For example, sola Scriptura is a tradition. Did the Scriptures cease to be inspired now that Jesus has returned?

I decided not to go into a tit for tat argumentative article. Read Gordon Clark’s Biblical Predestination, or better yet, Luther’s devastating work against Erasmus, The Bondage of the Will. I would much rather see that type of critique. It’s more academic. I imagine that Virgil would be just as shocked if I said, “the Church of Christ and Preterism cannot stand together.” I don’t believe that they can, because the Church of Christ is basically a futurist outfit. In fact, no system that has come down through the last two-thousand years can mix with Preterism. Name one system that has not been based on an end to history. Just one.

Therefore, when I say Total Depravity, I mean Total Inability. “No man IS ABLE to come to the Father unless by me.” That is, no man, in and of himself, and all that is within him, by his own merits, strength, mental prowess or good deeds can come to the Father UNLESS Christ, by the Spirit, FIRST ACTS. I don’t think we need to go far to find proof of this. God acted first when he created the world. He consulted no man. In fact, he created the will of man. Paul says that he marks out the territories of man, and that “in Him we live, move, and have our being.” Philosophical terms if there ever were any. He sustains our life (not natural law). He sustained Jeffery Dahmer’s life while he was taking a drill to a homosexual lover’s head. All men “move” (motion, volition, will) in God. Adolph Hitler was sustained, given life, and moved by God. Who would say that Adoph Hitler was an independent life force apart from the will of God? These are principles that Preterism hardly effects, since they have to do with, not Eschatology, but the nature of God as God. The Bible says, “I am not a man, and I change not.” It also says, “He is the same today, yesterday, and forever.” Therefore, the way that God superintends, provides, guides, sustains, operates and moves “in all things” which were made “by him, for him, through him and in him” does not change just because I believe Jesus has already returned a “second time.” The Bible describes salvation as receiving a “new heart.” That must mean that something is wrong with the “old heart.” Unless Virgil is able to argue that every human being now has a new heart, then some of them must have old hearts, and old hearts cannot do the things new hearts can. Old hearts cannot do anything except what old hearts do.

Did God “use to” take care of the universe, as the Psalmists so plainly states hundreds of times, but since Jesus came back, sparrows now fall to the ground without His knowing it? Did God use to know the numbers of hairs on your head (omniscience), but, since Jesus came back, he doesn’t? Sure, God changes “laws and set times” and certainly he used to make ax heads float in water. But, I actually heard one Preterist say that man’s will “used to” not to be free, but after the coming of Christ, it now is! It is at these times I thank God for seminary.

Thus, on Total Inability, I see no reason whatsoever to say that man is now, part from God, able to enter in through the “gates” of the New Jerusalem on his own accord, strength and goodness. Heck, why even need Jesus (as many Preterists and some Transmillennialists are saying). One Transmillennialist told me that Buddhists are going to heaven, too, along with Muslims simply because they have faith, a good heart and God “saves all men.” Great! Debates over. I am heading to the bar!

Unconditional Election is the next thing that follows. It logically follows, though. If man is unable apart from God to come to God, and God must make the first move, then we have two choices: universalism or particularism. Virgil must decide what to do with those millions who have never heard of Jesus, the cross or the book of Revelation. Does God save them apart from “faith” (one Preterist said yes). But, if you accept the biblical fact that not “everyones name is written in the Lamb’s book of life,” then you must ask why “some” are saved and “some” are not. Some have never heard, but if faith comes by hearing, then why did not God bring someone to preach to them? Oh, right, he cannot move anyone against their Supreme Will. God’s in a predicament! Without laboring this point, unconditional election is how God saves today, yesterday and forever. He makes the first move, and without that move, no man is saved. Now, granted, I am an ecumenicist. Roman Catholics are my brothers and sisters, as well as Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Serbian Christians, Armenian Christians, Coptics, Baptists, Church of Christ, etc. God saves all who believe that Jesus was dead, buried and raised to newness of life. It’s that simple. So, before you pigeon hole me in as other Calvinists, don’t. I am a Preterist.

Let’s see, what’s next? Oh yes, Limited Atonement. Well, that follows logically, too. The Bible says that Jesus saves His people. But, clearly, not all are saved. If Christ’s blood was shed in vain for just one man, it was shed in vain for all men. If the blood of Christ is simply a possibility offered for salvation provided that the Supreme Will of Man “accepts it,” then it is not the blood that is saving but man’s Supreme Will that makes the DECISION. Man, thus, saves himself, and Christ is only a secondary matter that “covers him” (atones) if and only if Man invites Jesus to do so. Therefore, since the blood of Jesus offers only the possibility of salvation, then it is entirely possible to imagine a world where Jesus died, but no one believed, and, thus, it is entirely possible to imagine that Jesus died in vain. Poor, poor Jesus.

Now, the next pedal on the TULIP is irresistible grace. Yet, if what I have said so far is correct, then this logically follows. God makes the first move and “no plan of the Lord’s can be thwarted.” “He does whatsoever he pleases” and “he turneth the heart whithersoever He willeth.” “Who can resist His will?” I could quote hundreds more, but surely none of these are overturned because Jesus came back already! If all men “live, move, and have their being” in God, and if all men’s breath is from God, then, unless a universalist, why does not God save all? Why only some? And when did God make this decision? Did he know all his children before he made the universe? See, now we have Open Theism and Universalism knocking on the door (logical conclusions when the principles of Sovereignty are rejected). I see no reason in light of the Second Coming of Christ to think that God does not now know all things. All things that he knows originated with His own mind and has always been known. There was never a time when He did not know all things, every atom, every speck of dust. “Who has taught the Lord?” No one. God did not “learn” things by peering down the corridors of time (perhaps one of the most lame arguments ever made). And, thus, those whom God foreknew he predestined and He has known them forever in his mind. God saves only those whom He has known from eternity that he would save, not one more, not one less. And, thus, when he comes calling on that old heart, that old heart still “outside the gates,” he gives a “new heart” solely by His own doing. It is by GRACE that you are saved, and that NOT OF YOURSELF. Now, is someone going to argue that since Jesus returned the statement should be, it by your receiving Jesus into your heart by your own strength and will that you are saved, and that is entirely of yourself?

Then we come to Perseverance of the Saints. Eternal Security is another name for it. I believe that once God causes me to come into the New Jerusalem, I can never, ever, leave. Nothing impure shall ever into it, nor any who does wickedness. Hmm, that must mean that I cannot do anything that would eject me from the City. See, Adam could. Adam was threatened with a curse and exiled from the Garden/City. In light of Preterism, such a relationship between God and his children has changed. Man in Christ can never be condemned, never expelled, never exiled. And, so, working Preterism into the picture allows me to see that I am eternally secure, and I can so live my life knowing that while “in the world” I shall have difficulties, failures, weaknesses and occasional whippings from Daddy-God, but He disciplines those He loves. Thy rod and thy staff comfort me. Nothing shall separate me from the love of God in Christ.

And, so, in conclusion, if Virgil can work out Arminianism within Preterism (free-will, the possibility of losing salvation, resistible grace, universal but ineffective atonement and election based on man’s decision), then so can the former Calvinists. And I have. I do, though, want to say one thing. To bring in the old, traditional Arminianism/Calvinism debate is, in and of itself, not Preterism. The entire debate itself needs to be REWORKED, and that includes the old definition of “free-will.” It’s a debate based around progressive sanctification looking forward to the END. Preterists believe, at least this one does, that we ARE sanctified, period, end of story. I am not “being made holy” any more than I am “being transformed” into Christ’s image. I am made in His image and reflect His image since I have been changed in His image. That is my new covenantal standing with God. So, Virgil, relax on the Calvinism thing. Of course traditional Calvinism needs to change in light of Preterism, but, brother, so does Arminianism.

paul's picture

Thanks so much, Pastor Frost! Indeed, it is true that the emergence of preterism seems to have been forged by an active interraction between two very doctrinally-minded groups:

1. non-Calvinist Churches of Christ; and
2. Covenantalists of Reformed heritage.

Many other Christians have (joyfully for the great success we anticipate!) joined in the preterist movement.

It was probably inevitable, therefore, that believers whose starting points are skeptical of the value of creeds, and believers whose starting points are conservative, believing that preterism has much to build on in the creeds and confessions, would find themselves wrestling through these issues.

Thankfully, for the cause of preterism, you and Virgil are men with love for history, and on the side of demonstrating the kind of integrity which brings glory to the study of Scripture.

I am Covenantal, believing in predestination, and yet, very willing to rejoice in the exchange of these weighty matters with brothers and sisters who are not. I like what one Calvinistic theologian said of himself, "I am a Calvinist who sweats". Thanks for the manner in which both you and Virgil engage in debate. It is very necessary for the edification of all who love the Word of God!

Paul Richard Strange, SR.
dadprs@hotmail.com
Waxahachie Texas 75165

paul's picture

Thanks for this article. God willing, from a hands-on, grassroots, workaday evangelical point of view, I may write something about another question, "Why has it been, as an apparent matter of unexplainable providence, that large numbers of people who confess that Jesus Christ is Lord cannot overcome what they perceive as the negative implications of what is nicknamed "calvinism", and the other half of persons who call upon the name of our Lord and confess Him gladly as Lord cannot help but see that these vital teachings are a necessary preservative of justification by grace through faith, itself" ?
This question is not a defense of either side, in this case, (even though I cannot claim to be unbiased as one who sees no other rational way to explain God's sovereignty but an exploration of what we might be able learn about why the same convictions which provide me with joy are alarming to many others who do not seem to reject many other areas of taking a stand.

PAUL RICHARD STRANGE, SR

revkev201's picture

First of all I want to say thanks to Sam for his eloquent delineation of God's soveriegnty. That is why I consider myself to be a 'calvinist'. Not because I adhere to everything that Calvin taught, but because the term most accurately expresses what I believe to be biblical truth.(especially considering that Calvin's comments about predestination amount to little more than a footnote to what Luther wrote on the subject.)
Also, I really appreciate what Roderick wrote in his comment when he said:

"This is another reason I don't prefer a well defined "systematic" of preterism at this time. This movement, as it relates in the 21st century and beyond is still too young to be wrapped up. Many are still pushing the bounds. Perhaps as it continues it will be seen some pushed too far and others not far enough -- we'll see. "

I fully agree. It is too early to fully attempt to systematize "pret" anything. We should instead CONTINUE to have these discussions, and yes debates. Iron sharpens iron as it were. Weren't the other doctrines of Christ, salvation, the church, sin, etc. all debated vigorously and studied dillegently by those who came before us? Yes, on both sides. Now please do NOT read into what I'm about to say as an attack on Tim King, or on Transmillenialism. It is not. We may have some disagreements, but I love and respect Tim, and others in the movement. What I can't accept however, is what I've heard from SOME in Transmillenial circles who say that:

"Preterism is dead and is obsolete because there is too much infighting. you prets can never DO anything or move forward because you are too busy arguing over doctrine!"

My major problem with that line of thinking --and I hope you will agree-- is that God has in HIS soveriegnty, allowed theologians to argue and debate and bicker, while at the same time they have managed to push the kingdom agenda forward into history. This has been going on for centuries, perhaps millenia, but has God's purposes been held in check? I say NO. So why should this (Preterism) be any different? I see no reason at all. So what if the progress we all want to see doesn't happen as fast as we'd like it to happen? Since when has God ever moved on our schedule? Not once that I'm aware of. So I say bring it on! Let's argue every fine detail. Let's debate the thorniest points of doctrine. Let's even occasionally in our weaker moments call each other dunderheads (that and worse have already been done). And afterwards by HIS grace let us repent and forgive one another. How else will we get to the point when we can systematize? How else will we be able to say that we've been good stewards of HIS gifts? And while we are doing all this we will also be pushing the Kingdom of God forward through HIS grace. Just like in the past, so on into the future, until eventually the people of God will look back on us and refer to us as "the early church". I don't think that it is worthwhile to keep silence for the sake of unity because we may end up united in falsehood. Rather we should realize that we are ALREADY united in Christ, and continue to try to understand, as best we can, what HIS word means. Then, when we are sure of the interpretation, then we have a solid foundation for application. Was there a physical 'rapture' at 70 AD? I don't think so, but this (just used as an example because it came up recently) and other issues in the realized eschatology/fulfilled eschatology/preterism/putyouradhere view of doctrine need to be hammered out. We won't do that without chipping a few fingernails folks. Work is indeed a four letter word, but that's what it takes.

One last parting shot for all of those who are going to explain to me why I'm wrong biblically... Keep up the good work!

Grace,
Kevin Cox

SuperSoulFighter's picture

I find your perspective refreshing and honest, Kevin! That comment was a real treat!

The move to set aside all points of doctrinal disagreement and "move on" to more "practical", everyday matters such as "what do we do now?" is touted by the pragmatists as "the next phase" in Preterism's "evolution". But in reality, those who carry on with a disciplined re-evaluation of every area of doctrine and theology will reap the greater rewards in the long run.

I won't be one of those who object to your comments on Biblical grounds, Kevin! I believe your perspective is commendably Berean, and beneficial.

Keep up the good work youself, sir! Your insights and observations are a blessing (despite the fact that you are an admitted "calvinist").

John

revkev201's picture

Thanks for the love John! I am more used to hate mail than I am to kind words like you gave me. Thanks! That was really encouraging.

Grace,
Kevin Cox

SuperSoulFighter's picture

You're very welcome, Kevin!

Grace and peace to you also,

John

MichaelB's picture

Never the less death reigned from Adam to Moses.

You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Death reigned from Adam to Moses even without the law.

The only way out of Adam is to be BORN AGAIN under the 2nd Adam.

Are we to believe that we now can CONTROL who is born again or does the SPIRIT go where He pleases still?

Good stuff Sam.

Mike Bennett

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Did God “use to” take care of the universe, as the Psalmists so plainly states hundreds of times, but since Jesus came back, sparrows now fall to the ground without His knowing it? Did God use to know the numbers of hairs on your head (omniscience), but, since Jesus came back, he doesn’t?

It's one thing for God to monitor the animal kingdom via His angelic surveillance team, Sam - it's quite another for him to keep track of every hair on every human being's head that has ever lived or WILL ever live. When you check the context on that statement Jesus made, you will discover that Jesus was speaking to God's highly specific knowledge involved with a very UNIQUE, SELECT group of people - the uniquely "elect", "called" First Century disciples and followers of Christ. That initial generation of pre-AD 70 believers (Christ's "Body" and "Bride") were a "chosen generation". God had EXTREMELY detailed knowledge of THEM as people. A case for God's universal knowledge of each and every individual in the human race at any given moment in time CANNOT be made on the basis of Jesus' statements to His disciples that you are citing in your comments, above (Matt. 10:30,31 - note the First Century context established in vss. 16-18 of that chapter; Luke 12:7).

But, I actually heard one Preterist say that man’s will “used to” not to be free, but after the coming of Christ, it now is! It is at these times I thank God for seminary.

It sounds like whichever Preterist you are quoting had both grammatical AND theological issues, Sam! It is when I am involved in discussions like this that I thank God I did NOT attend seminary. Seminarians are routinely assured of enhanced accuracy in their exegetical treatments of Scripture by those who have indoctrinated them according to whichever paradigm is consistent with that particular Seminary's doctrinal statement. There are not many "trans-Creedal"(or "A-Creedal") postgraduate institutions devoted to theological study and the pursuit of Truth.

Thus, on Total Inability, I see no reason whatsoever to say that man is now, part from God, able to enter in through the “gates” of the New Jerusalem on his own accord, strength and goodness. Heck, why even need Jesus (as many Preterists and some Transmillennialists are saying). One Transmillennialist told me that Buddhists are going to heaven, too, along with Muslims simply because they have faith, a good heart and God “saves all men.” Great! Debates over. I am heading to the bar!

Is that a reference to the "bar of Truth", Sam, before which we all stand? Actually, if you're thinking of liquid refreshment, I'd be happy to join you at a pub. By the way - I'm pretty sure Tim King and his crew over at LivingPresence.org (the "leading lights of Transmillennialism") are Seminary-trained. Just trying to put it all in perspective for ya, Sam!

Unconditional Election is the next thing that follows. It logically follows, though. If man is unable apart from God to come to God, and God must make the first move, then we have two choices: universalism or particularism. Virgil must decide what to do with those millions who have never heard of Jesus, the cross or the book of Revelation. Does God save them apart from “faith” (one Preterist said yes). But, if you accept the biblical fact that not “everyones name is written in the Lamb’s book of life,” then you must ask why “some” are saved and “some” are not. Some have never heard, but if faith comes by hearing, then why did not God bring someone to preach to them? Oh, right, he cannot move anyone against their Supreme Will. God’s in a predicament! Without laboring this point, unconditional election is how God saves today, yesterday and forever. He makes the first move, and without that move, no man is saved. Now, granted, I am an ecumenicist. Roman Catholics are my brothers and sisters, as well as Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Serbian Christians, Armenian Christians, Coptics, Baptists, Church of Christ, etc. God saves all who believe that Jesus was dead, buried and raised to newness of life. It’s that simple. So, before you pigeon hole me in as other Calvinists, don’t. I am a Preterist.

You are a Preterist with some unfortunate Creedal baggage, Sam! You're generous inclusion of ("all"?) RCs, Russian Orthodox, Coptics, etc. etc. as your fellow saints and Kingdom citizens fails to take into account the resistance on the part of most of those involved with these "churches" to acknowledge the Truth concerning the current, eternal, fully-established and manifested Kingdom of Heaven.

Your "case" for "unconditional election" is a house of cards, Sam. I would blow on it gently, and collapse the whole thing but a separate article of my own addressing this issue would probably be better. So I'll examine some of these (what I believe are mistaken) ideas you (and others) have in an article here in the next few days. Just for the record, though - apart from the initial provision of "salvation" and spiritual regeneration via faith in Christ Jesus, God does NOT "make the first move". His regenerative work within the individual is predicated upon THAT INDIVIDUAL'S autonomous acknowledgment of His Truth and Person as valid and desirable. The appropriation of the Truth by faith on that person's part is an AUTONOMOUS act, rendering them susceptible to God's "rebirthing" power and intervention within them.

I do, though, want to say one thing. To bring in the old, traditional Arminianism/Calvinism debate is, in and of itself, not Preterism. The entire debate itself needs to be REWORKED, and that includes the old definition of “free-will.” It’s a debate based around progressive sanctification looking forward to the END. Preterists believe, at least this one does, that we ARE sanctified, period, end of story. I am not “being made holy” any more than I am “being transformed” into Christ’s image. I am made in His image and reflect His image since I have been changed in His image. That is my new covenantal standing with God. So, Virgil, relax on the Calvinism thing. Of course traditional Calvinism needs to change in light of Preterism, but, brother, so does Arminianism.

What needs to be "reworked", Sam, is our soteriology (and every other aspect of our theological paradigms) according to consistent PRETERIST HERMENEUTICS. I don't believe "Calvinist Preterism" or "Preterist Calvinism" have as close a relationship to the Truth of the revealed Word and Will of God in history as that proposed by Virgil and myself. Let's see where the point of disagreement leads.

John

Sam's picture

John,

I'll look forward to your anti-missionary, anti-scholar, hypercessationistic, lone ranger article. You can mention that you are a Universalist (which, Tim King, a dear friend of mine for years - he wrote the forward to my book-denies) and a Reincarnationist. By the way, John, how does God even know your name? I have a question: How do you know that God even knows who you are?

Samuel Frost

SuperSoulFighter's picture

By the way, Sam - concerning the Transmils, I found these comments interesting. They are taken from Tim's site, expounding upon the fundamentals of Transmillennialism.

Just as Evangelicalism differentiated itself from Fundamentalism in the mid-20th century, so Transmillennialism™ has differentiated itself from preterism, a literal expression of fulfilled Bible prophecy in the Reformed world, that developed since 1994. Through narrative theology, Transmillennialism™ aims to transcend the Modernist-Fundamentalist debate and the tendency to appeal to Enlightenment based-philosophical "foundationalism."

Transmillennialism™ -- the belief that the millennial reign of Christ brought about the change, or transformation of the ages, from the Old to the New Covenant in A.D. 70. Also known as covenant eschatology, or a preterist view of Scripture.

Do you see the same contradiction here that I do, Sam? They acknowledge that their interpretive position on the Scriptures is PRETERIST, in the brief definition, but in their attempts to put a "post-modern" slant on Transmillennialism, they try to hard to dissociate themselves from Preterism as a MOVEMENT (comparing mainstream Evangelicalism to Fundamentalism, and the supposed "parting of ways" that occurred between the two).

I find the Transmils to be heavy on trendy, abstract terminology and speculative ideas and short on actual doctrine/theology. They appear to place a higher value on social engineering and taking the lead as "architects of the future" than they do a solid understanding of the Truth. I'm not saying they are totally erroneous in their understanding - just that their focus appears to be in the wrong direction. But we'll see. Maybe I'M wrong to remain true to my convictions, prioritizing assessment and analysis of the Truth as I do (paramount to all other considerations).

And by the way, the following statement seems to set forth a rather "pluralistic, universalistic" worldview to me:

OPENNESS: Transmillennialism™ embraces the "openness of God" and the "open society." Eschatology is not realized in the state, church or ideology, but in the human person and their context. The healing of the planet and the human spirit is embraced through a "new creation" faith that trusts God to make all things new. "missio Dei" is seen as encompassing all generations, all peoples, all cultures, all sciences and all technologies. As in math or physics, a centered-set paradigm for conversion, rather than a boundary-set is envisioned.

Since Tim's a good friend of yours, Sam, and you clearly advocate his position (as he does your ideas), perhaps you could offer a clarification and defense for the statements made, above.

Many thanks!

John

SuperSoulFighter's picture

I'll look forward to your anti-missionary, anti-scholar, hypercessationistic, lone ranger article.

Thanks for that somewhat negative pre-critique of my views, Sam! Nothing like a "rave (or rant) review" to pique everyone's interest, eh? Even "bad press" is better than none at all (or so the saying goes).

You can mention that you are a Universalist (which, Tim King, a dear friend of mine for years - he wrote the forward to my book-denies) and a Reincarnationist.

By "universalist" you obviously refer to my belief that EVENTUALLY everyone will likely enter the presence of God - possibly after several lifetimes. I do NOT advocate the view that EVERYONE in the human race is currently restored to fellowship and relationship with God. Spiritual development and the ability to acknowledge and appropriate the Truth for oneself is a progressive process - potentially involving many lifetimes to achieve.

By the way, John, how does God even know your name? I have a question: How do you know that God even knows who you are?

God "knows my name" the same way He knows YOURS, Sam - via surveillance and the collection/management of data on the human race. I "know" that God knows who I am BY FAITH (the same way YOU "know" that God "knows who you are"). Even though our beliefs where God's knowledge are distinctly different, Sam, our understanding of man's need for Covenant relationship with the Creator and the benefits of such a spiritual relationship are not that different. Keep that in mind.

And thanks for asking!

John McPherson

Parker's picture

Did the Scriptures cease to be inspired now that Jesus has returned?

Of course they did, if you consistently apply the hermeneutic of John McPherson and his followers. Actually, since all scripture is written to and for the pre-AD 70 world, they are now irrelevant.

Not only, but the Hebrew god also ceased at AD 70, and all pre-AD70 understandings of him are obsolete as well.

If you don't agree, you must be a "partial preterist." Hehe.

Virgil's picture

Parker - you know very well that John McPherson doesn't believe that scriptures ceased to be inspired, or that God ceased to exist at AD70. I am not sure what your motives are, but you are not adding anything positive to the conversation...

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Thanks, Virgil! You are correct in stating that I believe the Scriptures did NOT "cease to be inspired" (whatever that means) OR that "God ceased to exist at AD 70" (one of the more absurd, outlandish charges that has been levelled at my views).

What Parker fails to understand is that the term "inspiration" involved a time-limited event in which the original scribes of Scripture were prompted by God, directly, in their choice of every WORD they wrote. When God's promptings of their minds was finished, the Scriptures were complete. This process of "inspiration" was finished not long before 70 AD (as we both know and affirm).

Parker's misuse of "inspiration" to refer to the activities of the post-AD 70 classicists who were involved in the canonization of the Scriptures is thus evidence of an apparent lack of understanding on his part. He fails to grasp the significance and implications of the term "inspiration" and the process involved with it.

And I believe he feels obligated to attack my views at every opportunity because they represent a very serious challenge to everything he treasures and values above all else (spiritually and theologically speaking).

JM

Parker's picture

VIRGIL:
you know very well that John McPherson doesn't believe that scriptures ceased to be inspired, or that God ceased to exist at AD70. I am not sure what your motives are, but you are not adding anything positive to the conversation

PARKER:
Virgil, it was Sam that quipped that the scriptures ceased to be inspired. Sam makes a valid point to preterists that see no continuity between the AD 30-70 generation and those which preceded and postdated it. The argument that pre-AD 70 theology doesn't apply after AD 70 is stupid. Sadly, that's McPherson's basic presupposition.

McPherson doesn't seem to realize that it's irrational to use pre-AD70 time-restricted scripture to formulate post-AD70 doctrine. In fact, if we consistently apply McPherson's presuppositions and hermeneutic, we see that the scriptures themselves were necessary for only the pre-AD 70 generations. They were part of the Old Heavens and Earth. They spoke to pre-AD 70 people concerning the Mosaic Age.

Virgil's picture

Some things changed, some things didn't. That's why we are talking...making fun of each other doesn't benefit anyone Parker. I am sure you can learn just as much from John as he can learn from you.

Parker's picture

Virgil,

McPherson and others like him have set themselves up as the official arbiters of what "things changed" and what things "didn't." Quite plainly, John thinks of himself as the magisterium for preterism.

However, through close examination we learn that McPherson's determinations are presuppositional and never *explicitly* taught in scripture. His arbitrary determinations are conspicuously fashioned more by postmodern thought and other contemporary ideas than by anything scripture actually states. That's unacceptable as a standard.

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Parker: McPherson and others like him have set themselves up as the official arbiters of what "things changed" and what things "didn't." Quite plainly, John thinks of himself as the magisterium for preterism.

It's interesting that I rely so heavily on the Scriptures, continually declaring them to be the ultimate standard of Truth, and yet somehow it is MY OWN authority (rather than theirs) that I supposedly exalt as the basis for my views and position? You have no basis for such charges, Parker. Yes, I take a dogmatic stance when expressing my views, but it is incumbent upon the reader to verify whether what I say that I BELIEVE are the clear teachings of the Scriptures is ACTUALLY what was intended by their Divine Author. I invite respectful challenges of my statements and propositions on the basis that others see seeming contradictions between my beliefs and the Scriptures. This is how we LEARN together. And when I state that I'm not prepared to be dogmatic on something - it is because I am RESEARCHING IT FUTHER MYSELF. Tell you what, Parker - I'll work on expressing myself in a less dogmatic way, adopting a slightly modified, less authoritative, more moderated tone. Will that suffice?

However, through close examination we learn that McPherson's determinations are presuppositional and never *explicitly* taught in scripture. His arbitrary determinations are conspicuously fashioned more by postmodern thought and other contemporary ideas than by anything scripture actually states. That's unacceptable as a standard.

Through close examination of YOUR comments and responses to my articles, we find that YOU have no basis for declaring that my "determinations are presuppositional", "never explicitly taught in Scripture", and that they are no more than "arbitrary determinations" yadda yadda yadda. You need to do better than that, Parker. You're still not offering us anything of substance, Scripturally speaking.

JM

Virgil's picture

Sam - as someone already pointed out, I am not an arminianist, nor am I reframing arminianism from a Preterist perspective. Subscribing to a free-will position doesn't make one an arminianist, just as believing in God's sovereignty doesn't make one a calvinist.

What I see you doing, is taking one huge step to the left, avoiding the issue's I raised in my last column.

There will always be disagreement over the extent of man's free will. I will leave that to those who are much smarter than I. My fight is with those who insist on labeling "children" as "totally depraved", and mankind as lacking any ability to do good at all because of Adam's sin. This was both Augustine's and Calvin's position, and is a remnant of futurist theology, maintaining that there is something physically wrong with the world around us. That's my beef with calvinism.

Now, if you want to redefine calvinism so a pseudo-calvinist doctrine, that's fine - maybe we can continue to disagree on only one issue: free-will, because what you defined as "total depravity" is not the calvinist definition of "total depravity."

I am with you - we all need to relax - so maybe the calvinists calling me "blind, sorry, foolish, heretic, vain, sad, nauseating, hypocritical, and sinful" need to rethink their own relationship with God. I am starting to wonder if self-proclaimed "elect" people think they can get away with murder simply because they think they are the elect...

I must say that I will put together one last column on this topic to deal with points raise by you and Roderick - and thanks for keeping the conversation on a civil level.

Sam's picture

Virgil,

I am not sure as to the extent that you have read Calvin's works, but find me one quote where he denied that man is incapable of doing any good. Man is incapable of doing any good in terms of MERITING FAVOR from God. If that were the case, then you can easily see that the faith in Christ is no longer necessary. I can "be good" without Him and "get in" with God's favor. Paul, as Saul, could boast that "according to the Torah, blameless" and, thus, he was "doing good works." Yet, in Romans 7, he can say, before conversion to Christ, "there is no good thing in me." Therefore, the Bible understands that even the worst atheist in the world is capable of donating the largest sum of money to charities (Ted Turner). But, does this "earn" Ted a way into God's heart? Calvin understood the two distinctions of "good." Secondly, I did not invent "total inability". Calvinists have used that term for centuries to more accurately describe what Calvin meant by "depravity." He did not mean that Stalin could not love his children...he most certainly did, but was Stalin "good"? Stalin was "depraved" in the sense that, as the Bible says, "even the plowing of the field by wicked men is evil." Plowing a field is good, but it is also wicked in that it gives no thanks to God who gives the ability to plow. This is not "pseudo-Calvinism" (which is a derogatory term) any more than your definition is scot-free from Arminius' definition. Are you, then, a "pseudo-Arminianist"? Finally, in the "age to come" the Bible pictures men as "outside the gates" and those who have come "inside the gates." You enter in through faith, and that faith "is not of yourselves, it is a gift from God." In theology we must define our terms and define them in accordance with the Bible. Thus, in your next article, you might want to
define "will," "volition," "motion," "free" and "good."

Samuel Frost

DougShuffield's picture

I agree that there seems to be a vast misunderstanding of what "total depravity" really means. It does not teach that each and every person is as evil as he could be. I can even imagine that Hitler could have been more evil than he was. It also does not teach that a person can not do "good" toward his fellow man. "Good" being defined only in relation to acts performed by others of the human race. What it does teach, as Sam points out, is that we can not do anything to earn God's favor in and of ourselves. Even the "good" we do is corrupted by sin. For example:

Isaiah 64:6
But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

Romans 14:23b
for whatever is not from faith is sin.

Mark 10:18
So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.

- Doug

hardshellbaptist's picture

Article was good till you said that Romanists and CoC are saved. Arminianism is another gospel and those holding to it are lost. It doesnt save.

djelectrop's picture

I wonder what position the thief on the cross took regarding free will? What about his view on transubstantiation? Certainly he was a young earth creationist. This dogma list could go on for days.

I'm confident that Christ took all of those things into proper account before granting him a place in paradise. (That was sarcasm, just in case there is a nitwit out there cheering me on.)

:)

Lucky for me...it's not my imperfect grasp of the Word that saves me. It's the Word's perfect grasp on me that saves.

Brandon

Sam's picture

Brandon,

Well said, and Amen!

Sam

leslie's picture

Some people say the funniest things. He should have kept going with his list. Like, say 'Free Will" Baptists. And ya know I am a Southern Baptist and I've 'heard' that 'we'are all Calvinists, well they forgot to ask me and hundreds of other 'Free Will' Southern Baptists that I personaly know that lean in the Arminian direction. Thank God for Grace, for we all fall short in the sight of God for Salvation. Thank-you Sam and Roderick, for your input on a subject that divides. One Christ, One King, One God. Leslie

Brother Les

davecollins's picture

And ya know I am a Southern Baptist and I've 'heard' that 'we'are all Calvinists, well they forgot to ask me and hundreds of other 'Free Will' Southern Baptists that I personaly know that lean in the Arminian direction.

Leslie, they probably meant the Biblically astute Southern Baptists':>)

leslie's picture

So that is what the problem is. :) I need to read more of the material in the 'lesson' books from the 'Home Office' of the 'Convention' and a lot less reading of my outdated, false doctine KJV. I don't have enough margin notes in it I guess.

Brother Les

Sam's picture

Arminianism is not another Gospel. That's silly. I have heard the argument from folks like you, and it does not wash. The Gospel is: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, was buried but God raised him from the dead, and exalted him above all things. If you believe that, you are saved. Period.

Samuel Frost

Virgil's picture

Well, are you not a condescending jackass?! Arminianism is another gospel, and Calvnism is God-breathed scripture?! Who else is disqualified from salvation by your all-sovereign god?

Islamaphobe's picture

This a well-written and well-reasoned piece that helps to clarify the issues that exist among different schools of thought within the preterist movement. For people like myself, that is, for those who lack formal training in theology and biblical studies, such articles are invaluable. I just hope that we preterists do not get so bogged down in factional disputes that we cannot maintain the unity that we must maintain if we are to succeed in reforming mainstream Christianity. When Sam writes that "no system that has come down through the last two thousand years can mix with Preterism," I believe that he is absolutely correct.

Roderick's picture

Sam,

I appreciate that you have written this article and that you have pointed out that "recasted" terms and labels are in essence still the same as the original. That is one reason I use terms like "Calvinistic" to hopefully show that I mean "like Calvinism" but not necessarily after every aspect. Thus, you are correct when you say what is being proposed about "free-will" is Arminianistic - or "like Arminianism".

I know many of us hate to be put in various boxes and categories, indeed some may even purposely change positions to avoid this, but the reality is there are only so many positions and eventually a label will catch up with people.

WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

So, it seems there are at least 3 major groups of people here at Planet Preterist:

  • Arministic Preterists
  • Calvinistic Preterists
  • Open Theism Preterists
  • How will these groups continue to interact? Sure, sure its easy for someone to make a broad statement like: "Why don't we all focus on what we have in common? -- preterism" But the other "ologies" will come to bear or be borne upon, so simply ignoring the other "ologies" exist will not rectify the periodic disputes.

    How about the old adage: Agree to disagree? That has worked to some degree even with the "church issue". Yet, we seem to still interact on certain levels with respect and kindness.

    This is another reason I don't prefer a well defined "systematic" of preterism at this time. This movement, as it relates in the 21st century and beyond is still too young to be wrapped up. Many are still pushing the bounds. Perhaps as it continues it will be seen some pushed too far and others not far enough -- we'll see.

    So, I hope we can all continue together in this discovery, acknowledging that there is centuries of history and discovery that went before. As we go to drop various parts of everthing that preceded, we must DE-construct piece by piece. This is one reason I have trouble with the Transmil(TM) movement -- they don't appear to have done any deconstruction, they simply moved on leaving all the brokeness in their wake. They seem more like a philosophical organization than one that is subject to the Bible and its precepts (and its the precepts that we as a group must discuss and understand -- not run away from or simply recast).

    May we all stick closer than brothers (& sisters),
    In Christ compassionate,
    Roderick

    revkev201's picture

    "This is another reason I don't prefer a well defined "systematic" of preterism at this time. This movement, as it relates in the 21st century and beyond is still too young to be wrapped up."

    I agree with this whole heartedly. If complete "wrapping up" could be attained, we would have it somewhere by now. For 2000 years theologies have changed and condemned one another. Guess what, only one simple truth remained the same: Jesus came and died and rose again so we might have life.

    I disagree with a lot of people but I still count them as Brothers. I am resigned that I will think and hold to some things as being right and true, but being finite, I may not truly have a complete perspective of that infinite reality that I have only a piece of.

    As preterists we should never try to think we have it wrapped up or box ourselves in with creedal statements or systematic theologies. That will only create more divisional sects than we are already overwhelmed with now.

    God Bless
    Nate

    DrDre's picture

    Roderick said, "[TM] seem more like a philosophical organization than one that is subject to the Bible and its precepts (and its the precepts that we as a group must discuss and understand -- not run away from or simply recast)."

    Roderick,

    I agree that there seems to be something not quite right with the TM movement. They gave a presentation at the Truth 2004 conference last year that had me a little uneasy. One of their principles seemed to be leaving certain practices in a "culture" alone. In other words, the culture doesn't need to be transformed biblically. An example was the clothing issue in some societies (nakedness).

    Dr. Dre

    djelectrop's picture

    "What Virgil has attempted to do is to simply recast Arminianism within a Preterist framework."

    I may need to re-read Virgil's essays, but I don't recall seeing him argue in favor of an Arminian soteriology.

    If "non-Calvinism" automatically equals Arminianisn...then I fear we have a mighty broad definition of the Arminian doctrine.

    Though I'm a Calvinist, I sympathize with Virgil's need to be quoted accurately.

    Kent's picture

    Calvinism is a pre-70AD doctrine. The text that Calvist uses are correct, but from a pre-70AD view point. The other side, Arminianism is also wrong.

    So, which one is correct, both. One must look at the whole picture. If Jesus came for only a certain group of people than that would make the OC still active for the other people and look at the other problems that would cause.

    Go to www.preterism-eschatology.com, the fourm section and this is discussed.

    Richard K. McPherson

    Virgil's picture

    I made this very clear in my last column - both positions are wrong - Jesus came for all mankind, including the people who don't recognize him today. They all have been reconciled to Him...it's quite simple. It's not rocket science...

    Sam's picture

    Virgil,

    Are you, too, now a Universalist? If "all mankind" has been reconciled, then no one is lost. Therefore, one does not have to even "recognize" God today. Is this what you are saying?

    Samuel Frost

    SciotaMicks's picture

    We are so focused on spending eternity in Heaven we neglect the true reason God sent Christ to die for our sins.

    Christ's purpose was to reconcile mankind. Meaning, Christ's sacrifice removed the sin which seperated God and man by His sacrifice on the cross. Yes! This was a gift from GodMany of us are content to end the story there.

    The Preterist sees the Big Picture as God's plan of redemption did not halt at the cross. We come to realize that the entire purpose of Christ was to remove the stumbling block so that God could restore His relationship with mankind...

    to restore His creation to its original purpose where man and woman walked with Him unimpeded by sin.

    Christ died for everyone's sins whether you believe He did or not. Thus tossing a wrench in both Calvinist and Arminian doctrines.

    The end goal shouldn't be, "I believe Christ died for my sins so I'm going to heaven".

    Rather, we are to be in constant affinity with our Creator God and serve him continuously throughout our lives. It is this choice which determines who is lost and who is saved.

    Universalism as far as Christ's sacrifice is concerned, non-Universalism as far as who is truly saved.

    Virgil's picture

    Well said Armothe...

    Virgil's picture

    Did any of you guys actually read the entire column I wrote on Calvinism, especially part 3?

    Sam's picture

    You are comparing two different things. Notice what I wrote: "recasting Arminianism", then you wrote, "I don't recall seeing him argue in favor of an Arminian soteriology." I did not say that he was arguing for an Arminian soteriology, I said he was arguing for a RECASTED VERSION of Arminianism IN LIGHT OF Preterism, making the necessary changes Preterism forces upon it. I am not arguing for a pure Calvinism, either, but a Calvinism IN LIGHT OF (recast) Preterism. Traditional Calvinism will not work IN LIGHT OF Preterism, and neither will traditional Arminianism (which Virgil understands). Secondly, I was not "quoting" Virgil at all. He never intimated such a thing, so I did not "quote" him. This was MY observation. And, yes, there have been basically two models within traditional Systematics: Determinism/Arminianism. A third sort has arisen, Open Theism, but this is an attempt to blend both systems (see Pinnock, Boyd, and Rogers). "Calvinism", though unfortunately taken from the name of a mere man, represents Determinism (all things are pre-determined by the council of God). There are not too many "alternatives" to such an approach. The basic core of Arminianism is "free-will" and the basic core of Calvinism is a determined will. Within that, you have a blend (Open Theism). But, I hope no one is seriously considering Open Theism, and I know Virgil isn't.

    Samuel Frost

    SuperSoulFighter's picture

    Within that, you have a blend (Open Theism). But, I hope no one is seriously considering Open Theism, and I know Virgil isn't.

    I advocate "Open Theism", Sam. And yes, my soteriology is a "blend" (or, better, balance point) BETWEEN Calvinism and Arminianism. I refer to it as "Autonomism", and am very confident that I can make a thoroughly Biblical case for its valdity.

    I'm sorry to hear you expressing thanks for "seminary", Sam. I think those institutions tend to mislead their students more than anything. They become indoctrinated in flawed hermeneutics, and this is most evident in the efforts of anyone attempting to "rework" Calvinism to fit the Preterist paradigm. Such an attempt is doomed to failure, unfortunately.

    John

    Sam's picture

    John,

    When you read your English translation of the Bible, thank a staff of Seminary trained scholars, bud.

    Samuel Frost

    SuperSoulFighter's picture

    Sam, there is certainly value in advanced learning and study of the Scriptures and their original languages. Unfortunately, the ATTITUDE that goes with this learning too often defeats the true purpose thereof.

    Seminarians feel that they have an "edge" over all other Christians, and as academics, they feel obliged to manifest their supposed exegetical superiority over all others, too often losing sight of the forest for the trees.

    I sensed some of that attitude in your off-the-cuff remark concerning your own appreciation of a Seminary education. It came across as a little more than simple gratitude. Implied was a snide superiority to the other Preterist's perspective due to your education. I don't think I'm reading anything into your statement in saying this, but I felt obligated to point it out in defense of my comments, above.

    John

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