PMW 2022-085 by Richard L. Pratt, Jr. Professor of Old Testament
Hyper-preterism, the belief that the New Testament expectation of Christ’s return in glory has already occurred, has taken at least two basic forms. On the one hand, it has become a fairly standard part of critical approaches to biblical faith as they have developed during the modern period. Critical theologians tend to reject the expectation of a future cosmic consummation of the Kingdom of God because they hold that modern rational people can no longer embrace such hopes. Their reflections tend to focus almost exclusively on what Christ has already done, rather than on what he may do in the future. On the other hand, hyper-preterism has also taken root in recent years within circles that are otherwise orthodox and evangelical. These theologians affirm classical views of biblical authority and build their distinctive views of the return of Christ on these assumptions of biblical authority. As strange as it may sound, these conservative hyper-preterists insist that belief in biblical authority requires believers to reject the notion that we are still waiting for a cataclysmic return of Christ. A central line of their reasoning has to do with their understanding of biblical authority and prophecy. In this article, we will explore the contours of this line of reasoning.
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).
Recently a reader wrote to me regarding an article by Sam Frost that I published. He commented:
“Thank you for sharing this! Mr. Gentry, I enjoyed your book Before Jerusalem Fell. As far as ‘full’ and ‘partial’ preterism; I have a lot to learn and am still undecided. If Jesus will literally return in a physical body, could you please explain 1 Cor.15:45 to me?”
Thanks for reading. And for writing. I appreciate your studying God’s word. And I certainly hope and pray that you won’t drift away from historic, orthodox Christianity!
The Interpretive Problem
What does 1 Corinthians 15:45 say that might confuse folks and encourage an aberrant movement? The Mormons love 1 Corinthians 15:29; the hyper-preterists love 1 Corinthians 15:45. This passage reads:
“So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”
How are we to understand this? Was Paul teaching us that Christ left his material body behind in becoming a non-material spirit-being? And that we also are to anticipate the same? Not at all! Has the universal, historic, orthodox, public, systematic, corporate church been mistaken since its very beginning? Absolutely not! What then is going on here? Continue reading →
In this article I am concluding a three-part series on our resurrection as taught by Paul in 1 Cor 15. This continues the previous presentation outlining Paul’s second argument in his great resurrection chapter. The other two articles need to be consulted before jumping into this one. Unless you are good at back masking, and you can hum well..
(3) Paul’s parallels and contrasts show his concern is not physical v. immaterial, but perishable v. imperishable (v. 42), dishonor v. honor (v. 43a), and weakness v. power (v. 43b). Our resurrected condition is so governed by the Holy Spirit that the weaknesses of our present condition will be totally overcome by the transformational power of the Spirit. Indeed, he emphasizes the difference of glory as the key (vv. 40-41). Continue reading →
In my previous posting I opened a quick two-part testimonial explaining why I do not like interacting with Hyper-preterists. Their argumentative method is terribly frustrating. I will now continue with and conclude my testimonial.
REGARDING PRESTON’S THIRD ARTICLE
He writes: “The reader needs to remember, as I have documented, that Gentry takes a decidely [sic] and admittedly non-historical, non-creedal view of Revelation.” A few paragraphs later, he writes: “Gentry, when defending his own unorthodox, non-historical, non-creedal views that stand in opposition to the long standing scholarly consensus on Revelation…” Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
This is the second (and final) presentation of an interview conducted with me on preterism and postmillennialism.
Interviewer: Shifting to a related topic. Do preterist and non-preterist postmillennialists differ significantly in their reading of Matthew 24? Are there different interpretations of the two “days” even among preterists?
Gentry: Matthew 24 has been subjected to a fairly wide variety of interpretive approaches. Perhaps the more widely endorsed one holds that the Lord more or less jumbles together material on A.D. 70 and the Second Advent, in that A.D. 70 is a microcosmic precursor to the Second Advent. This view makes it difficult to sort out the verses in regard to which event the particular verses focus on. Among evangelical preterists two basic positions prevail: that 24:4–34 focus on A.D. 70 and 24:36ff focus on the Second Advent (this is my view, and the view presented by J. Marcellus Kik). The other view holds that all of Matthew 24–25 deals with A.D. 70. Continue reading →
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