You are hereTheological Observations From A Malcontent Ph.D. Candidate
Theological Observations From A Malcontent Ph.D. Candidate
by Samuel Frost
Preterists, by and large, seem to have a large problem in dealing with the “age to come.” They operate as if the entire Bible was “fulfilled” in A.D. 70, leaving the Bible “silent” on matters concerning those who live in the age to come. But, this very assumption is false in that it contradicts itself. If the “age to come” is part of the biblical eschatological framework, then it, too, must be prophetically spoken of in the Bible!Preterists, by and large, seem to have a large problem in dealing with the “age to come.” They operate as if the entire Bible was “fulfilled” in A.D. 70, leaving the Bible “silent” on matters concerning those who live in the age to come. But, this very assumption is false in that it contradicts itself. If the “age to come” is part of the biblical eschatological framework, then it, too, must be prophetically spoken of in the Bible!If this is not the case, then the Bible remains silent on that very age of fulfillment (the eternal age of the new covenant)! This would make no sense whatsoever.
All of the passages that speak of the new covenant equally speak of the “eternal covenant.” From Genesis to Hebrews the term “eternal covenant” is used. Several “covenants” were used to move along this one, singular eternal covenant. Each new covenant God made, from Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, etc. brought mankind closer to the final covenant; the covenant after which there would be no more covenants made. This is what is typically called “the new covenant.” It is a covenant made with the people of God, those of His choosing, from then on out.
The nature of a covenant is not just for the present generation. If one looks at Noah or Abraham, those covenants had future generations in mind, explicitly. To think that the covenant made in Messiah Yeshua would have no future generations in mind would simply be unthinkable in light of the pattern.
Paul is most explicit in speaking not just to his own generation, living at the edge of the end of the age, but to those of all generations to come in the ages (plural) to come. That would be me and you.
Now, since Paul merely preached “that which was written in the torah and the nevi’im” and did not “go beyond what was written”, it follows that his notion of future generations and ages after the “end of the ages” had come in his time is also taught in the Tanakh. It is. Therefore, it follows, too, that if Paul was merely teaching what the Hebrew Bible taught concerning future ages and generations after the Consummation, and these future ages and generations concern me and you, then the Hebrew Prophets must have had us in mind as well. Let’s go further: if God has inspired and “moved along” the Prophets according to His will (as Peter said), then God did not “forget” about those living after He would consummate the ages of the past. Rather, all of the covenants, ages, and efforts to bring about the Consummation of the Ages was meant to bring in our own ages and generations: a new heavens and a new earth. In other words, Paul’s generation, whose makeup of brave and religious souls destined to be at the point in time they were, were “lead like sheep to the slaughter” in order to bring in the “age to come” heavens and earth promises. It was not God’s intention to have that generation be the supreme example of God’s people. They were in transition from old to new. They were “filling up” the marks of Christ. They were maturing into a New Man, a Spiritual Body. What, then, of those who, born of the Spirit after the parousia of the High Priest?
Those born of the Spirit after the parousia would not be born into an incomplete Temple. They would not be born into a maturing New Man. They would not be brought into a Body that was becoming a Spiritual Body from a Natural Body. Rather, if logic tells us anything, they would be born into a completed Temple, New Man, Spiritual Body; mature, complete, lacking nothing, never to be blown around again by doctrines, never to be torn asunder, never to be exiled and never to be sent away from the Garden for breaking torah. These generations are the perfect generations, and these ages are the perfect ages.
The Bible does not stop at 70 C.E. God forbid. The Bible says a great deal about living in the ages of the new heavens and new earth. Isaiah 65.17-ff speaks plenty about it. Ezek. 40-48 speaks a great deal about it as well. These large portions of Scripture are in parallel with many hundreds of other passages, like Isaiah 60.1-ff. They all speak of our own ages and generations. No, far from it, the Consummation of the Ages would not bring about an end to history, but a new beginning to a new history of a new people in a new heavens and a new earth. In seminary it is called Church History.
We don’t like that word, “history” and some of us do not like the word “church.” After all, Church History is filled with murderers, rapists, Crusades, Puritans and Pelagians. Witches are burned, children are spanked and adulterers are put to death. Surely, Church History cannot possibly be the story of a new beginning of a new people in a New Temple in the New Heavens and New Earth under a New Covenant can it? Well, it depends. If you look at your brothers and sisters of the past (and they now number into the billions), do you look at them through the law or through grace? After all our modern Churches of Christ have had affairs, lawsuits and just recently a pastor’s wife shot her husband. Our Calvinist churches have had the same. So have the Charismatics. The secretary that Jim Baker and another prominent minister had an affair with went on to pose in Playboy magazine. Nothing new here, is there?
The same old dead mentality of judging people by appealing to those who they “associate” with in the past is still among us, even recently published here in Planet Preterist. We have some that are still Roman Catholics….and we know of the history of those Roman Catholics! Well, we must judge them all the same! And those Calvinists! O’ have you read the history of Calvinism? We must judge them the same! Oh and those Churches of Christ! Those Liberals! Those Presbyterians! Those…those…. Nope, if we continue to act like we are under the law, then we will continue to write papers condemning “others” who are, in fact, no different from any of us.
Rather, I approach history anymore by looking at “what is good, what is lovely, what is noble.” Pope Gregory, Saint Augustine, Chrysostom, Thomas Aquinas are all great Roman Catholics. R.C. Sproul, James Kennedy, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon are all great Calvinists (name one preterist that has impacted American philosophy like Edwards!). See, instead of seeing the tremendous impact of Edwards’ philosophy, and instead of seeing Edwards as a CHRISTIAN born anew in a NEW COVENANT and therefore PERFECT, many can’t see beyond the LAW and only SEE Edwards as a Calvinist, and Calvin was a murderer, and some Calvinist preterist today are mean people, therefore, Edwards’ IMPACT is lost…and no GOOD can be seen. The same can be said for John Calvin (who every historian has admitted to the massive impact he had on Western economics, politics, religion, and government), or Thomas Aquinas (since he is a Roman Catholic, his massive impact on systematic theology is missed).
Here’s what happens. One man of a particular systematic bent will be credited for starting a movement. Nothing wrong with that. Where historical honor is due, let it be due, so said Paul. And then, let’s say, that that movement produces bad effects, too. The good gets overshadowed, because we love to concentrate on the bad things about people. We love the horror stories of Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart. We love to poke fun at the allegedly goofy statements of Benny Hinn. We love to recite how Calvin “murdered” Servetus (though he never laid a hand on him). We love the bad news. We love to connect that bad news to those in our present day. We don’t think we are doing this (and never will admit it), but that’s what we do. One of the real evils of it is that our critiques are “in love” (or at least masked as such). But, in light of the generations of the ages to come that Paul spoke of, which included these baaaad Christians, were they Perfect? Mature? Spiritual? Made Holy? Glorified? According to the preterist framework, they all were.
Who can write about the good, the lovely, the noble and the pure things Calvin, Aquinas, Luther (that Jew hater), and Edwards did? Wesley? Finney? Hinn? Name one Preterist that has made a difference like Hinn. But, see, your law buzzers are going off: “but Hinn is a false prophet who teaches false things and….and….” Yes, and what has God done with your sorry ass? Now, see another buzzer: “oooh, he used a cuss word!.” No, only the biblically astute will get my joke: God used the jawbone of an ass, what has he done with yours (providing that you own one)? Am I saying that God can use Calvin for good? Hinn? You? Me? YES!
You see, that’s the point. We can live under law all day long and criticize according to the law all day long. The fact of the matter is is that God has perfected Hinn and Calvin, and therefore can use them IN SPITE of their being human beings susceptible to errors, false prophecies, idiotic behavior, or the like. It’s called grace. Preterists might want to look into it. Especially those who say that they have it the most.
Now, as to our current situation: people from the Planet Preterist “camp” writing about how “hateful” and “mean” those in the Calvinist-Preterist “camp” are. It’s funny in this light. Perfected children of God united in One Spirit under One Lord with One Faith in One Body behaving like children under the law. Rather, why not see the Lord as using for the good those in the one camp, and those in the other camp seeing the same thing? When it is recognized that Church History is a display of “the nations” (remember, the nations were divided at Babel) learning to come together and learning to make their spears into pruning hooks then we will also learn a valuable thing Church History has taught me under the Preterist Framework: it ain’t gonna be pretty. We like our spears and weapons. Fighting is much more fun than farming, especially with this idiot!
Much theological underpinning is the motive for what I have said here. True Preterism offers an entirely different approach to doing church history (which is why I love creeds, councils, and confessions and still study it…after all, they are my arms, legs and shoulders of the Body). It is paradoxical, to say the least, that the church was matured and perfected at the parousia of Christ, and then turn around and talk about the new beginning of the Church. Well, not really. God created ‘adam, a new man and a new body, did He not? In this sense, this ‘adam was perfect. But, it was only the beginning. ‘Adam had a lot to learn. The church has a lot to learn. The difference (and this is HUGE) is that ‘adam was booted out for breaking one command. The perfect man was booted out! But the New Perfect Man, the Body of Christ, cannot be condemned, ever, under the New Covenant because it is perpetually, eternally forgiven and perfect. This is what it must learn to SEE in EACH of its MEMBERS, regardless of the imperfections (little “i”). That means that Calvinists, Free-willers, Mary-lovers, and Candle-burners don’t necessarily have to change their theology (it may be right!)….but they do have to learn to change their attitudes. As far as I can tell, that attitude is sorely lacking all the way around the preterist world.
What is being asked for here is a different way of settling matters. I have tried to practice this, and to date, as far as I know, do not have any enemies. I have “banned” no one from our website, in spite of personal attacks. Heck, I even get along with a anti-preterist blog writer that likes to have scantily clad pictures of Lucy Lawless decorating their site. Believe me, I can’t stand some of the stuff I read, but I still link it to our site. O’ some wimp may yell, “yea, but he hurt my feelings. He has tried to destroy my family.” Really? Destroy? You mean, Charles Manson style? Let’s give up the language of politically correct “bashing.” Leave that to the liberals. If I say, “sodomite”, they cry, “bashing.” For a preterist to express and show love, and receive love, tough skin is needed with a gentle heart. Personally, hypocrisy has gone all the way around on some of these issues. “He quoted my site out of context” “Well, I never said that.” “You misunderstood me.” “I am not having you on my site anymore.” “Waa, waa, waa.”
Some folks have asked why I still hang out with those that drink, smoke and chew….Why? Do you need to ask? They know how to party! I have witnessed storms in our neighborhood, and I have witnessed them solved over a sixer of Natural Light. Sometimes, the unchurched have a better idea of getting along. Then, of course, I tell them that they are behaving as Christians should behave. And then one will say to me, “that’s why I don’t go to church!” I laugh, crack another one open, light up a cigar and turn up the Aerosmith and say, “I hear ya, man. And I understand…..” (this last bit of material was meant to show my own weaknesses in some areas, lest anyone think I am boasting about how humble I am….see you in the funny papers).