You are hereFull Preterism vs. Idealism Part 1&2
Full Preterism vs. Idealism Part 1&2
by Nathan Dubois
The question has been raised with the intent of learning the difference between Full Preterism and Idealism. The Full Preterism being discussed is more directly aimed at the Reformed Full Preterist interpretation. In this stage of Full Preterism, which I have recently come out of, there is the tendency to hold onto Reformed soteriology in the face of Full Preterists who would take the view all the way to Universalism. I was one of those preterists. It was clear to me that Universalism was not correct according to Romans, but it was also abundantly clear that Full Preterism was crumbling from beneath me in the light of Consistent Cessationism. The question has been raised with the intent of learning the difference between Full Preterism and Idealism. The Full Preterism being discussed is more directly aimed at the Reformed Full Preterist interpretation. In this stage of Full Preterism, which I have recently come out of, there is the tendency to hold onto Reformed soteriology in the face of Full Preterists who would take the view all the way to Universalism. I was one of those preterists. It was clear to me that Universalism was not correct according to Romans, but it was also abundantly clear that Full Preterism was crumbling from beneath me in the light of Consistent Cessationism. In order to battle the Universalist logical conclusions of Consistent Cessationist Full Preterism, many Cessationist believers are giving ground to the idea that all Biblical offices, gifts, and patterns still continue in a milder, less structured sort of way. For instance, there are no teachers and preachers, but there are still elders that teach. There is also the debate that the gifts of the Spirit are not applicable because they were in part, but the Spirit still moves people to Christ as He did in the transition period. In fact, the Spirit always moved the elect to God and the truth even before the New testament time frame.
Basically, some of the Idealist understandings I hold to are also being grasped by those Full Preterists who were close to “throwing out the baby with the bath water” because they were consistently following the logical conclusions to Full Preterism. However, rather than give in to Universalism, because Universalism is clearly against scripture, they grabbed back (or just held on tighter to) their Reformed soteriology while maintaining a Full Preterist position, creating a very inconsistent version of Full Preterism and back tracking on many of the leanings they were headed toward when following the Full Preterist logic.
I was in exactly this same boat. There are some basic logical conclusions to Full Preterism that cannot be ignored. Some may try to excuse or wiggle out of the conclusions by going back to their incorrect denominational mindset, but none the less, these conclusions are the only logical answer to many questions in the Full preterist framework. I will address these in this study but first I want to lay down a few rules that show the weakness of Full Preterism.
1. If the same punishment is declared for (2) agencies in scripture, then the SAME RESULT must ensue for both agencies.
2. If something arrived for a “special purpose,” and did not exist in the actions of God on earth prior to that point, then they MUST CEASE when the purpose for their existence is taken away or completed. If they DO NOT cease, they were always in existence, and were only being revealed in a new way during that “special purpose” timeframe, which then consistently allows them to continue afterward.
3. Scripture continues to interpret scripture. Like Matthew parallels Luke concerning the same judgment, so other passages parallel each other when talking of the same event.
4. God’s attributes come into play for everything. God does not change and His character does not change. Just because God acted in time, those actions did not benefit, make different, cause change to, or halt His ways. He is the same today as He was in Genesis.
5. Man and God MUST be viewed differently. Just because man and the nature of humanity follows a pattern, does not mean God follows that same pattern in respect to HIS nature. Until made perfect in Christ, man is always finite, the ways of nature are always finite. God has always been infinite. His ways and His holiness always was. “I AM” is about the most literal description for God I can think of.
6. All attributes of God apply to Christ.
Most of what I wrote above will be easily agreed to by the Reformed Full Preterist. There are maybe a couple they would dispute because they know why I say it and know where I am heading. It doesn’t make the logic any less true. Examples for each rule will be contrasted in this explanation of the (2) views that I am going to discuss (FP vs. PI).
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY:
This introduction to what I am going to write is by no means meant to insult or enrage anyone. I have been asked to address the difference between Full Preterism and Preterist Idealism. I am writing from personal experience, 8 years worth, of being an active participant in the Full Preterist circle. I am writing about views I held and tendencies I saw in myself and others. This does not mean I think myself better than others. This does not mean I think I am further evolved or wiser. It simply means I have been granted a different perspective on Preterism. I saw the tendencies and I turned away from them. I could find no consistent, satisfactory, alternative answers to the questions raised against the logical conclusions of Full Preterism.
Further more, the Bible was being viewed as a book that I needed to pick apart and decide what applied and what didn’t apply. What ceased in AD 70 and what did not. With those cessations, what can I continue to do or not do as a member of the Kingdom.
Lastly, I came up with an important conclusion. Any theology that breeds an attempt to define love as anything other than “self sacrifice,” is a VERY WRONG theology. this led to the most inconsistent application of Full Preterism that I have seen yet. It is the biggest factor in my embrace of Idealism over Full Preterism and I will discuss that in length throughout this work I am embarking on.
FULL PRETERISMS ACHILLES HEEL (Part 2)
I had spent all my time in Full Preterism, when defending against Universalism, using the Romans 1-5 passages which declare that it is only "those that are his at His coming" or those "in Christ" who are declared to be saved. I still believe this is absolutely true. Reformed Preterists all agree there is an element of the "all" that refers only to the elect. "All in Christ" or "all His children" is the proper context of the Romans passages. What has not been answered, and cannot be answered with satisfaction is the element of the lake of fire, leading us to the first inconsistency of Full Preterism.
1. If the same punishment is declared for (2) agencies in scripture, then the SAME RESULT must ensue for both agencies.
For these issues I will go right to the source and use some quotes with links for those who have argued the positions being addressed.
Rev 20:10 The Devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. 11 Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. 12 I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. 13 Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. 14 Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
The Reformed Full Preterist view declares the Devil was a literal angel who was the accuser of the elect and he is now in the lake of fire. Being in the lake of fire, as far as the devil is concerned, means to the FP that he is no longer able to tempt, accuse, perform. He is every bit as irrelevant to us today and unable to affect situations today as the souls of "anyone not found written in the book of life." This would be consistent, and they declare it. Hades also meets the same fate and they are every bit as consistent with Hades, a place they consider a literal spiritual holding for the saints prior to AD 70 which, because thrown into the lake of fire, is no longer used or relevant.
Where the consistency goes right out the window is where death is addressed. For the Devil, Beast, False Prophet, Hades, and more importantly to the non-Universalist FP, the souls of the saved, they are all in eternal torment unable to reach out from beyond the grave to affect mankind today. Evil is explained by the wickedness in mankind.
The laws of logic get tossed right out the window when death, who "were thrown into the lake of fire" is still able to continue to this day, defeated only "in Christ." The FP applies an application of the lake of fire where it DEFEATS death for the saved, but does not DESTROY death or its power ultimately for anyone else. All humankind are affected by death, which suffered the same penalty as the souls, Hades, the Devil, etc, yet its power and its reach is unaffected like the others.
I repeat: The SAME RESULT must ensue for all agencies receiving the same punishment!
Here is an exerpt from Sam Frost concerning death.
"In Greek, it is "the Death" and "the second one, the Death". The First Death came through Adam and is equal to "the condemnation" (Rom 5). So, why would we not think that since the Tree of Life is now manifest in God's People, that the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil ceased? Man has two trees to eat from. Following the pattern, the eternal reality of creation is seen also in the Age to Come new heavens and new earth. You have two Trees. Dismiss the Tree of Life (fail to submit to the King of all the Earth and who is King over all the kingdoms of the world), and is there not to be any condemnation? The new covenant is not a condemnation-less covenant! No universalist can get around the FACT of The Second One, The Death." Dennis says this is "redefinition". In what way he never explains. He just makes the charge and moves on, parading the universalists as the most consistent FP system!...If the death is still around, then so is your condemnation. With the destruction of the Death, the condemnation in Adam was effectively removed. Dennis asks how can this be for the believer, but not for the wicked. This is answered by replacing the First Death with a new heavens and new earth Death, the Second one. Had this not been revealed to us, and had this verdict of God's court been uttered, then universalism can make a case. As such, it cannot. The Second Death prevents universalism from being true. It is like God saying, "the Gospel is going to the world, to being healing to nations and reveal my son, Jesus. But, not every one is going to see my glory. Some will refuse it, and for them, I have decreed a Second Death for those who reject the New Tree of Life." Pretty simple to me..."
This answer is by no means satisfactory for one reason, which Sam Frost himself brings to light. "The First Death came through Adam and is equal to "the condemnation" (Rom 5)...If the death is still around, then so is your condemnation. With the destruction of the Death, the condemnation in Adam was effectively removed." No matter how much explaining away he does about the second death, he gave his own arguments right back to the Universalist. He declares that the first death is the death that brought condemnation under Adam. The Reformed Preterist believes that the sin and condemnation under Adam continue for those who are not saved, and explain the evil that is still in the world, even with an irrelevant suffering Devil who is in the lake!
The "condemnation" from Adam MUST continue for men to be considered guilty today! It was condemnation under the first Adam that condemned men, brought the law, made the need for a redeemer in the first place! To remove this condemnation from the world, as they do the devil and the souls of the dead in the lake of fire, they must declare that men are no longer condemned! Instead, Sam entirely eliminates the sin brought by Adam (leading to the "first death"), and creates a new sin leading to condemnation of the "second death" for those not in Christ. In other words, the problem brought into the world through Adam was NOT conquered by Christ, the wheel was simply reinvented. Not only is Romans 1-5 the undeniable proof that only those "in Christ" are saved, but it is also the biggest part of scripture used to show WHY we need a savior!!! Because under Adam all men are condemned!
Full Preterism has taken a new twist, the entire book to the Romans has become irrelevant in Sam's new law and new death scenario. I will deal with the idea of a "new law" or a "new death" later. The idea that the spiritual came after the natural occurrence is backward but I cannot address that here in this step. Even though both "new" things go against the fabric of Reformed thinking. But the point over all is even if a "new death' or "new law" were NOT created, we have different results from the same judgment.
The issue here is the consistency in the approach. The devil is gone and inactive, irrelevant and being tormented, and so is death. The same punishment for both MUST produce the same results. Do I really need to do a study on Romans to show that the death from Adam is still going on today? Do I need to state anymore that the only way for Full Preterism to answer the devil and death problem is to invent a "new law" that humans break after AD 70, and a "new death" to explain the lake of fire that Universalists get wrong? Reformed Full Preterism must either depart from the Reformed grounding, lead to a Universalist approach, or lead to an Idealist approach.
So what is the Idealist approach that makes the view of this different? Idealism sees the lake of fire as the hyperbole to show the utter defeat of the devil, the grave, the false prophet, the beast, and the souls of those not found in the book., as being defeated only IN CHRIST. The events of AD 70 are the same as those of 4000 B.C. When Abraham was called from Ur, when the Israelites were lead from Egypt, when the Christians fled to Pella, when we die to the “old man” and enter into Christ. The prophecies of Revelation 20 are hyperbole to tell this story.
The devil is not dead or gone, he is utterly defeated by Christ, and those “in Christ” share this victory over him. He is in the “lake of fire” (under His feet!) Death is not gone and reinvented as the “lake of fire.” Death is utterly defeated by Christ, and those “in Christ” share the victory over it, and never die. Those outside of Christ still die. They suffer that utter defeat of a rebellious heart against God, eternally.
Idealism sees that the stories of the Exodus and AD 70 are pointing to a higher spiritual truth. The truth that Christ came to REVEAL in His time on earth.
“John 14:6 Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Where Full Preterism fails this truth is to put it in time. Christ is eternal, he did not become the way, the truth or the life because of any act performed in finite time. He is eternal. He was such when he declared He was. We was such from the beginning. The events that occurred become the fulfillment of something that was always true “in Christ.” In doing so, and making the eternal a matter of time, they run into the forced and unavoidable inconsistencies as shown above.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.
5 That light SHINES in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.