PMW 2022-057 Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Though Hyperpreterism (a.k.a. Full Preterism) remains a small movement, it also remains a tenacious and noisy one. While Hyperpreterists believe they are giving sound advice regarding biblical interpretation and scriptural eschatology, they provide 99% sound and only 1% advice.
Yet Hyperpreterism does exist and it is present in some evangelical communities and local churches. Therefore, it is deserving of evangelical critiques. And Steve Gregg has provided a helpful, large-scale critique and rebuttal of this eschatological error, titled: Why Not Full-Preterism? A Partial-Preterist Response to a Novel Theological Innovation. Gregg is the host of the national Christian talk show, The Narrow Path. He is also the author of the invaluable book Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (1997; rev. 2013).
Why Not Full-Preterism? presents a 370-page analysis of and rebuttal to Hyperpreterism. In his fifteen chapters, the interested evangelical can find a thorough and insightful study of the theological system and its historical development. Though Gregg is an amillennialist (p. xix), as a postmillennialist I find his work even-handed and valuable.
Early on his book, Gregg presents an important notice: “I am not writing so much to attack as to defend the long-settled Christian understanding of the coming of Christ” (p. xx). As I and other orthodox preterists note, Hyperpreterism is not simply an error on a few debatable points of eschatology. Rather it is a wholesale re-structuring of some of the most fundamental aspects of the Christian faith. And one of the key issues that it rejects is the historic doctrine of the future physical resurrection of the dead at the end of history.
The apostle Paul warns about the rejection of the doctrine of the physical resurrection in his lengthy affirmation of physical resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. There we read in part (vv. 12–26):
“Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”
Thus, in Why Not Full-Preterism? Gregg provides a special focus on this Achilles’ heel of Hyperpreterism. Notice these four chapter titles:
7. The Resurrection According to Scripture and History
8. The Resurrection & Rapture According to Full-Preterism
9. Key Disputed Passages on the Resurrection
10. No Marriage in the Resurrection
Gregg notes how the resurrection is even a problem causing disunity in the hyper-preterist movement itself. On p. 19 he writes: “Their conflicting positions concern fundamental matters in the movement. Did such a physical resurrection and rapture of the Church, as most Christians still anticipate, occur (though apparently unnoticed and unrecorded) in A.D. 70, as one camp (e.g., J. Stuart Russell, Milton Terry, Edward E. Stevens) claims? Or were the Resurrection and Rapture invisible, spiritual phenomena by which the Church became glorious and inherited all of her spiritual privileges (equally unnoticed and unrecorded), as others (e.g., Max King, Don K. Preston) insist? Or is the Resurrection the personal experience of every Christian, receiving a new, body [sic] in heaven at the moment of death, while the old one remains buried on earth (apparently held by most full-preterists.”
He notes also that “full-preterists can’t seem to make up their minds as to whether the Resurrection should be viewed as a one-time event, in A.D. 70, or as a process continuing forever as each individual experiences his or her own death” (p. 24).
Why Not Full-Preterism? A Partial-Preterist Response to a Novel Theological Innovation
By Steve Gregg
A powerful, lengthy analysis of and rebuttal to Hyper-preterism.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
As Gregg engages in their strange arguments, he well notes: “from my reading of full-preterist authors (and debating some of them), I have gained the impression that the most necessary tool in their hermeneutical kit is a shoehorn” (p. 26). Elsewhere, the shoehorn has certainly been useful in the way Jehovah’s Witnesses deal with verses on the deity of Christ. The cover to Gregg’s book is quite appropriate: it shows square pegs breaking as they are being driven into round holes.
Though I have only engaged in presenting some observations from its earliest pages, I hope these will whet your appetite to get a copy of the book. It also offers two chapters on the Olivet Discourse (chs. 13-14). It is one of the better critiques of this aberrant theology that I have seen. I am thankful for Gregg’s labor in this important work. Though I do not agree with all of his observations, I do highly recommend it as a valuable resource.