You are hereHow to Accomplish Small Things: A Guide for Small People

How to Accomplish Small Things: A Guide for Small People

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By Virgil - Posted on 24 January 2006

A couple of weeks ago I made the following remark to some critics of Planet Preterist’s openess: "I for one am an unfinished Christian, am still on the journey and choose to respect those who disagree with me. I want to study my map and find all the details on it. I want to refrain from condemnation and let God handle the judgment. I want to create relationships, not tear them down.. I am taking thousands of people with me on this journey, people who are growing spiritually and learning more about God's living presence." Oh boy, if creating hypertension was a gift of the Holy Spirit, I would certainly have a prime-time spot on TBN.In response to my statement, and my general aggressive attitude in promoting Preterism, I was called a "thief" for trying to "take over" the movement. One guy said "nobody is following you anywhere Virgil." A few found my "extreme pride" and "boasting in numbers" extremely troubling. Another guy said that I committed sins of “pride and tantrums” and that I was "fierce." Someone else said that I "declared myself the leader of Preterism." In my defense, someone said, "Virgil is from Romania (which I believe, is more or less a Euro-Mediterranean country), which could account for his "extreme" pride, could it not?" That comment made me think of some Discovery Channel show describing some exotic animals inhabiting Eastern Europe, with the narrator, say Patrick Steward or Anthony Hopkins, saying something to the effect "In their natural habitat, Romanians can be extremely proud, but fierce. They should never be incited or fed in wilderness..."

But humor aside, this is a serious matter, on which I have spoken several times before. There is a tendency within Preterism to "play the martyr." Obviously, there are clear instances in which many of us have been abused by churches and even family members. Some have lost jobs, others were "kicked out" of the church, and the list goes on. But what is surprising to see, is that those who do have success in what we do, when pointing out the accomplishments, we get labeled with all kinds of vicious labels.

The Gates of Hell will not prevail

When we read in Matthew 16 that Jesus traveled with his disciples to Caesarea Philippi, he laid out a natural context for what was to follow. Caesarea Philippi was a very interesting place, to say the least. It was the place where the Greek god Pan was being worshipped by his followers, worship which often involved sexual acts with goats and animal desecration. Pan was a goat-god, and his temple was built on the side of a great crack in the mountain, which was described as being "without bottom." This hole in the ground was called "The Gates of Hell (or Hades)" by the population at that time, believing that it was the crack in the earth from which devils and evil spirits would come out from Hades into the world. This is the context in which the events of Matthew 16 unfold, and this is the place in which Jesus tells his disciples "on this rock I will build my assembly, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18).

The Gates of Hell
in Caesarea Philippi

Now what is interesting is that Jesus is using subtle language here. He is referring to Peter as "the rock" but also he seems to be referring to the place in which The Gates of Hell and Pan’s temple were. In essence, Jesus is saying, "these people, the goat-worshipping people are the people who will join me and follow me, and absolutely nothing will prevail against them."

What, you will say, but how can that be? Jesus was to build his Kingdom out of goat-worshippers who were performing sex acts with animals, sinners, pagans, idol worshippers? That is repugnant and unacceptable!

The evidence suggests that Jesus came into this world to turn the ordinary into extraordinary, turn the average, into fantastic, and that is what many so called Christians today find unacceptable and disgusting.

Come, Follow Me

In Israel, education was crucial to all families. By the time a boy was a teenager, he would have had the entire Torah and Prophets completely memorized, and would have spent almost a decade in a rabbi’s care learning about the Torah, and learning about the Prophets. But when the education was over, a rabbi would have to ask the boy to follow him, or if the boy wanted to follow the rabbi, the rabbi would question him to find out if he was good enough to make the cut. Those who were not good enough would go about their family trade to be bakers, farmers and fishermen. Working the fields or a trade meant you did not make the cut to follow a rabbi.

One day, Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, and he notices two guys casting fishing nets, working their trade. So he tells them, "come follow me" and they "at once" dropped their nets and followed him. They were the "not-good-enoughs" and the dropouts, yet Jesus asked them to follow him. In essence, Jesus is telling them "you can be like me" because a rabbi believes in his students and their abilities, and he expects his students to believe in themselves. A rabbi expects his students to follow him in all things and do and learn all things in his image.

That is why when Rabbi Jesus walked on water, Peter did what was natural, he got out of the boat and walked on water; he did what his rabbi did. And for a very long time I was convinced that Peter’s failure, and Peter's sinking into the water was due to his doubts in Jesus and his lack of faith in Jesus, but I have come to realize that perhaps Peter’s failure is more about lack of faith in his own abilities and in himself rather than in Jesus.

If we have been called to be disciples of Christ, then why do we have so little faith in ourselves? Rob Bell speaks at length on this topic: "If the rabbi calls you to be his disciple, then he believes you can actually be like him. As we read the stories of Jesus’ life with his talmidim, his disciples, what do we find frustrates him no end? When his disciples lose faith in themselves. He even says to them at one point, 'You did not choose me, but I chose you.' The entire rabbinical system was based on the rabbi having faith in his disciples." (Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, p. 134)

When Jesus left this earth and ascended, he more or less left the disciples in charge, and told them "go change the world." Jesus trusted them, and they trusted themselves, and amazingly, they did change the world. How much more can we trust ourselves today since we profess the Parousia to be a reality?

Preterism should not be a movement of losers, whiners and martyrs, but a movement surging with confidence and success. When our critics see us "boasting" with millions of web visits, published books and successful conferences, they should rather say “good job” and not display disdain and criticism, and not mingle confidence with pride. They should be happy that so many people are being reached daily with the truth of Covenant Eschatology. Instead, many are burning with invidious egoism and are turning any rock trying to find something to use in order to smear our success. So, if you want to continue to be small and insignificant, and if you want to continue to accomplish small things, by all means, continue to focus on negativism and criticism, it is a recipe for success (or failure depending on what you are after). We choose to think big, focus on trust, relationships and we will put a new face on Preterism, whether our critics like it or not. We will drag them kicking and screaming, and confidently we will reassert that Preterism is about the Kingdom, not about being right on eschatology; it is about having confidence in others (like the goat-people), as they perhaps will learn to have confidence in us; it is about believing that Jesus has confidence in us and expects us to have confidence in ourselves and our abilities. We are the new proud and confident face of Preterism, so learn to live with us; it is not a demand, it is simply a fact.

And to conclude, I have a message for you who are reading and hearing us: We can change the world together. Come, follow us, because The Gates of Hell will not prevail against us!

UncleJesse's picture

"but I have come to realize that perhaps Peter’s failure is more about lack of faith in his own abilities and in himself rather than in Jesus."

This gospel of self-esteem won't save anybody. We can't walk on water if we believe in ourselves! How outlandish! "If you think your perfect, try walking on water."

Good research on the Gates of Hades! I'm still chewing on the doctrine of hell.

Virgil's picture

We can't walk on water if we believe in ourselves! How outlandish!

That is not what I said. You are commiting a logical fallacy by superimposing what I said about Peter into a contemporary application of Peter's faith.

UncleJesse's picture

Without Jesus, Peter couldn't have walked on water. No matter how much he believed in himself. The moment when he was sinking, he cried, "Lord, Save Me." Peter soon confessed, "You are certainly God's Son."

Your right about me commiting a logical fallacy in my last post.

Kyle's picture

Velvet Elvis!

Virgil's picture

I know...I think Bell will soon sue me for being inspired by too much of his material :)

MiddleKnowledge's picture


I almost fell over when I read:

"Preterism should not be a movement of losers, whiners and martyrs, but a movement surging with confidence and success."

This one sentence captures my heart's desire for the movement. You have hit the nail on the head with that one, my friend. No more whining and grumbling. It's "forward march" time.

When people get busy they will find they have no time for nitpicky narcissism.


Tim Martin

Virgil's picture

Tim, I know why your heart jumps when you read this. Your attitude on the "flood" topic alone tells me you are on the right path and you have a wonderful mindset about where our movement is heading. :)

Keep on rockin! :)

Jer's picture

Well said, Virgil. The preterist community often uses its knowledge, whether real or imagined, to clobber other Christians. I've been guilty of this myself in the past. Then, I took a step back and looked at "us" from the outside. I saw a group of people whose driving force is conflict, both internally and with other Christians. I know there is good work going on, but the public (online) image of this community isn't that great. Have you ever seen a preterist "exegete" John 13:35? (Can't recall that verse? Can you quote Matthew 24:34?) There has to be more to preterism than arguing and drawing lines of demarcation. If all we do is talk about ideas that make no practical difference in the way we live or in the way we treat our fellow man, then what are we doing? Let's take the gloves off and build on what we have in common as Christians.

Virgil's picture

Yes Jeremy, I am also guilty of the same thing. In fact, if you read some of my old articles, you will see that I was often leading the charge. I feel bad now, but we all recognize that we grow and progress in our understanding of relatinships and understanding our differeces. So, here we are. A new day, a fresh future. We have the freedom to define it :)

psychohmike's picture

Hey Virgil...Don't feel bad. If it is of any consolation to you, I've been reading and learning from the things that you feel bad about. I do agree with and am wrestling with the comment about John 13:35. Mainly with, "What does love tolerate?" Is it loving to let a brother continue in error. This one is making my head hurt.

The last thing I want to do is end up being one of those guys that stands outside of a Billy Graham crusade with a sign that says, "Graham leads to Hell!"

I dunno...I think I'm ready to throw off the eschatological name game and simply become an "unfinished christian."

Ed's picture

Mike asks: "Is it loving to let a brother continue in error"?

I think that's the struggle I have. In the first century context, the error that they were not to allow their brother to continue in was summed up in that verse - if they were to have love for one another, and thus fulfill the law, then those who were trying to "keep the law" were in fact those in ERROR.

In today's application, we should be encouraging one another onto good works (love, mercy, forgiveness, grace) rather than letting them stay in "dead works" (pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, etc.).

However, we also need to understand (and I find this difficult at times - errr, most of the time), even those wallowing in their self-righteousness are still loved by God their Father, and HE WILL DEAL WITH THEM IN HIS TIME. We are to LOVE, one another and even our enemies (i.e., those who curse us due to their self-righteousness).

I really love what God is doing here. There is something happening in the world today that in a generation or two will change the world - I really believe it).



Papa is especially fond of us

amie's picture

Mike asks: "Is it loving to let a brother continue in error"?

I used to struggle with this one as well. It is even true that we have control over another human being?

I think that is a common underlying belief and one that has been a false one in my experience.

I have both been the one trying to control other people, and the one that other people has tried controlling. Neither feels good.

Also in my experience (I am open to learning from the experience of others as well), pushing my views on someone has the opposite result. (Success is measured by result)

On the other hand, when I have accepted their point of view and continued in relationship with them, they in turn begin to accept me for who I am. In the process, we learn about one another and we learn from one another's views. Maybe they agree, maybe not. Maybe we agree to disagree, maybe the openess has illuminated my own err (lots of "maybes", lol!).

To be forceful is like saying "I want you to have an open mind. Mine's alittle closed right now - but you open yours." haha..


When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.


amie's picture

"It is even true that we have control over another human being?"

Supposed to read -->

"Is it even true that we have control over another human being?"

Sorry 'bout that, lol!

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.


Virgil's picture

Well, welcome home mike :) I did the same thing a while back and I am much happier...

Jamie's picture

I like that...'unfinished christian' :)

Virgil's picture

Mark Twain said something that would go well with some of this.

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

Virgil's picture

In essence, that is exatly what Jesus said to his disciples: "You can be like me." Imagine God, saying that to us. That's one great quote dude...

Virgil's picture

Awesome quote, BP!

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