PMW 2020-054 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
The Hyper-preterist movement has gained a small foothold among some evangelical Christians. Unfortunately, this aberrant movement makes the same sort of error as Hyper-Calvinism: it takes certain biblical teachings and presses them beyond their Scriptural warrant. By using actual biblical truths and specific Scripture verses, the Hyper-Calvinist can make a doctrinal error sound quite persuasive, as can the Hyper-preterist.
For instance, Hyper-Calvinism recognizes the biblical teaching regarding the absolute sovereignty of God. But they then push the “logic” of this truth beyond its biblical constraints. Curt Daniel defines Hyper-Calvinism as “that school of supralapsarian Five Point Calvinism which so stresses the sovereignty of God by overemphasizing the secret [will of God] over the revealed will [of God] and eternity over time, that it minimizes the responsibility of Man, notably with respect to the denial of the word ‘offer’ in relation to the preaching of the Gospel of a finished and limited atonement, thus undermining the universal duty of sinners to believe savingly with assurance that the Lord Jesus Christ died for them.”
Similarly, Hyper-preterism employs actual biblical truths and a few specific Scripture verses to promote their faulty doctrines. As a consequence, many Christians are frightened away from a preterist analysis of certain passages of Scripture because they fear the end result of unorthodox theology.
Hyper-preterism is especially dangerous for two key reasons: (1) It has taken a hermeneutical tool (preterism) and transformed it into a theological system. And (2) the resulting theological system is contrary to the historic, corporate, public, universal, systematic Christian faith, being outside of the main stream of Christian doctrinal orthodoxy.
When Shall These Things Be?
(ed. by Keith Mathison)
A Reformed response to the aberrant HyperPreterist theolgy.
Gentry’s chapter critiques HyperPreterism from an historical and creedal perspective.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Thus, Hyper-preterists denounce orthodox (partial) preterists as “futurists” because we hold to a future Second Coming, Resurrection, and Final Judgment — as has the Church throughout its history. This rejection of orthodox preterism as “futurism” shows their wholesale commitment to their new theology: it can allow no future, unfulfilled elements in prophecy. But this causes the Hyper-preterist to shoot himself in the foot.
J. Stuart Russell
By way of illustration, I would point to J. Stuart Russell, who wrote a book in the late 1800s that has been something of a “Bible” for the Hyper-preterist religion: The Parousia: A Study of the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord’s Second Coming. Surprisingly though, he holds that there are still some unfulfilled prophecies, thereby breaching the Hyper-preterist theology that demands we understand all biblical prophecy as being fulfilled by AD 70. Consider the following.
Regarding the millennium in Revelation 20, Russell follows orthodox preterist Moses Stuart in recognizing that the thousand year reign of Christ moves way beyond AD 70 and into the distant future. Russell writes regarding Stuart’s observation:
“We believe … that this is the solitary example which the whole book contains of this excursion beyond the limits of ‘shortly;’ and we agree with Stuart that no reasonable difficulty can be made on account of this single exception to the rule. We shall also find as we proceed that the event referred to as taking place after the termination of the thousand years are predicted as in a prophecy” (p. 514).
This to the Hyper-preterist is heresy! For they believe all prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70.
Russell states this again on p. 522:
“It is evident that the prediction of what is to take place at the close of a thousand years [i.e., Rev. 20:7–10] does not come within what we have ventured to call ‘apocalyptic limits.’ These limits, as we are again and again warned in the book itself, are rigidly confined with a very narrow compass; the things shown are ‘shortly to come to pass.’ It would have been an abuse of language to say that events at the distance of a thousand years were to come to pass shortly; we are therefore compelled to regard this predication as lying outside the apocalyptic limits altogether.”
According to Hyper-preterist doctrine, this is futurism, a form of heresy to them that must be scorned.
But Russell continues (p. 522):
“We must consequently regard this prediction of the loosing of Satan, and the events which follow, as still future, and therefore unfulfilled. We know of nothing recorded in history which can be adduced as in any way a probable fulfillment of this prophecy.”
In the Days of These Kings: The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective
by Jay Rogers
This orthodox preterist analysis of Daniel is not a book, but a library. Extremely helpful for the postmillennial orthodox preterist.
For more study materials, go to: KennethGentry.com/
Then he adds (p. 523): “This we believe to be the sole instance in the whole book of an excursion into distant futurity; and we are disposed to regard the whole parenthesis as relating to matters still future and unfulfilled.” Has the man no shame!? He must be a dispensationalist!
Elsewhere he even writes as a postmillennialist holding to a future prophetic development of God’s kingdom on earth (p. 553–54): “Surely, it was not in vain that Jesus said, ‘I am the Light of the World.’ ‘God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.’ ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself.’” He continues:
Paul “does not hesitate to affirm that the restorative work of Christ will ultimately more than repair the ruin wrought by sin…. It does not fall within the scope of this discussion to argue on philosophical grounds the natural probability of a reign of truth and righteousness on the earth; we are happy to be assured of the consummation on higher and safer grounds, even the promises of Him who has taught us to pray, ‘Thy will be done in earth, as it is done in heaven.’ For every God-taught prayer contains a prophecy, and conveys a promise. This world belongs no more to the devil, but to God. Christ has redeemed it, and will recover it, and draw all men unto Him.”
It is good to see that Russell holds to some futurist elements in his otherwise “full” preterist system. Unfortunately, his new theological paradigm undercuts major eschatological positions the Church has long held: a future, visible, physical Second Advent; a future, bodily resurrection of the dead; and a future Final Judgment of all men.
As an aside, it is unfortunate that some of Russell’s “futurism” allows for continued divine revelation: “There is no presumption against further revelations. Why should it be thought that God has spoken His last word to men?” (p. 552). This is one area in which he should not have allowed a futurist element.
Milton S. Terry
Interestingly, the futurist charge can be levied against Milton Terry, as well. Despite the very strong preterist stance he takes, he nevertheless holds a postmillennial eschatology that looks forward to future blessings. In his Biblical Apocalyptics Terry writes:
“It may require a thousand times the number of years Christianity has been already operating in the world, but ultimately the psalmist’s ideal is to be realized, and Jehovah will give his Son ‘the nations for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession’ (Psalm ii, 8).”
Regarding the loosing of Satan in Revelation 20, Terry declares on p. 451:
“The thousand years is to be understood as a symbolical number, denoting a long period. It is a round number, but stands for an indefinite period, an aeon whose duration it would be a folly to attempt to compute. Its beginning dates from the great catastrophe of this book, the fall of the mystic Babylon. It is the aeon which opens with the going forth of the great Conqueror of xix, 11-16, and continues until he shall have put all his enemies under his feet (1 Cor. xv, 25)…. How long the King of kings will continue his battle against evil and defer the last decisive blow, when Satan shall be ‘loosed for a little time,’ no man can even approximately judge. It may require a million years.”
Thus, he also holds, with Russell and Stuart, that the thousand year reign of Christ extends far beyond the near-term reaches of Revelation’s primary concern. He states (p. 453) that:
“the great events symbolized are not sharply separated from each other in time. Most of them, if not all, are coetaneous, and extend through the entire period of the Messianic era, the symbolical thousand years. Through what historic stages the conflict is to pass; what particular forms of government may arise and exhibit more or less of the spirit of the beast and the dragon; what mysteries of iniquity may work against Jehovah and against his Anointed during the thousand years — these and such like are not written, and their details do not seem to come within the scope of prophetic revelation. But the millennial era of conflict and triumph is prophetically presented in one great field of view. …. The millennial era is to end with the utter defeat and destruction of the old serpent, the Devil, thus fulfilling at the last the prediction of Gen. iii, 15.”
Terry also writes of Satan’s defeat recorded in Revelation 20:7-10 that “the final victory is in the far future, at the close of the Messianic age, and it is here simply outline in apocalyptic symbols” (p. 455).
Hyper-preterists should quit citing these futurists!
For more information, see: https://www.cruciformministries.org/a-purchased-victory
Tagged: futurism, hyper-preterism, J. Stuart Russell
Interesting article, Dr. Gentry. As you may know, In my book, I cite “The Parousia,” Terry’s “Biblical Hermeneutics,” as well as Chilton’s “Days of Vengeance” and your “Before Jerusalem Fell” as all playing a critical role in my views on eschatology. Now, while I find the extent of Russell’s claims a mite much, he certainly doesn’t go off on a futurist tangent. These areas of Scripture in question are the most difficult to untangle. And while I have found that whenever I think I have something figured out, I realize that no one has it all figured out. I do get a little frustrated with man’s doctrines because he has a habit of taking things too far. Then he tries to pigeonhole others in an effort to dismiss them. I definitely do not consider myself as hyper, but I’m not quite as liberal as you are. For instance, I recently asked you about whether you see the great tribulation as starting at the killing of Stephen and you said no. I believe it did and culminated in AD 70. That’s what Daniel prophesied as the time of distress. Otherwise what is the time of distress and the great persecution, and how do they differ from the great tribulation?
You are correct that I don’t believe the great tribulation started with Stephen’s stoning. That doesn’t seem to be the greatest tribulation ever to occur. I see the great tribulation as focused on the events surrounding the destruction of the temple.
“These areas of Scripture in question are the most difficult to untangle. And while I have found that whenever I think I have something figured out, I realize that no one has it all figured out.”
I concur wholeheartedly with this comment. While we carry the burden/opportunity of seeking absolute truth, we should never be so bold as to assume we have finally come to a complete and perfect understanding of scripture.
True, and that is a part of the Hyperpreterist tragedy: this is a new movement, led by non-scholars, who have set themselves over against historic Christianity while claiming to have all the answers. Sad situation.
So, the great tribulation had to start somewhere. If not at the stoning of Stephen, when? And what was it that Daniel called the time of distress, in the same breath as the resurrection? To me it is the same event.
Good post as usual, Dr. Gentry. When one looks into hyperpreterism one finds an absurd amount of rescuing devices, even to the point of what they call “covenant creation” which allegories the entire creation account. They also claim bizarre situations as the fleshly body of Jesus being stored on a hanger in heaven. Truly, one error leads to another. Hyperpreterism, in my opinion, has no staying power over the long run because, if for no other reason, it robs us of an end to sin and a universal, righteous judgment of the wicked. I’ve also seen some who I hold this view fall into universalism and allegorizing hell.
The great tribulation circles around the destruction of Jerusalem. Stephen’s stoning was a tribulation for him and the Jerusalem disciples who fled because of it. But it (1) doesn’t meet up to the greatest ever tribulation and (2) is not directly related to the destruction of Jerusalem.
Perhaps the beginning of The Great Tribulation was when Vespasian invaded Israel.