Tuesday, July 19, 2011

CLASSIC DISTORTION OF PRETERISM

Dear Lord Jesus, please let this video-embed code work!!! Amen



Whew! Thank you, Lord.

With that, I bring you a video slam from Dr. James White aimed at us preterists who are seeking the Truth in all of Scripture-- not just in that which lines up with church history, the creeds, and my home congregation, etc.

I want to transcribe and comment on this video because it is so classic a caricature of preterist thinking that I can refute its validity, point by emotion-driven point. I have the highest respect for Dr. White-- except when he slams me/us like this.


Begin transcript:

Caller:  “Brother, how you doin’?”
JW: “Doing good.”

Caller:  “You are already aware, I think, of the question I’m going to ask you. I was concerned about a verse in Luke 21:22, where Jesus says, ‘because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled,’ considering these questions that His disciples have just asked Him about His Second Coming.  I just wonder if you could maybe explain to me what the Lord meant when He’s saying—especially where He uses the words ‘all things which are written will be fulfilled.’  Is this simply to the destruction of Jerusalem?”


JW:  “Yeah, well, look at the context. It’s always good to avoid looking at a part of a sentence (laughs), because the sentence starts in verse 21, ‘Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.  Woe to those who are pregnant, and to those who are nursing babies in those days, for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people, and they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations.  And Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentles are fulfilled.’ Of course, that phrase, ‘times of the Gentiles’ goes back to Daniel 8 and the issues related there, too.  


So, if your question, if your concern, is that hon ta ta ge gramena “all things which have been written” means a fulfillment of all prophecy, well, given that there is a specific subject under discussion, that would be an unwarranted leap.  If I’m talking about the birth of Christ, alright?  If I’m talking about the incarnation in Bethlehem, and I say, we see here that all things which are written concerning the Messiah were fulfilled, I’m not, by saying that, ignoring the cross or ignoring the resurrection or ignoring the Second Coming or anything else.  I’ve already defined my categories by what I’m saying in regards to the topic that’s under discussion.”


Caller:  “Right. It’s just the issue right here immediately that He’s speaking of.”


JW:  “Well, yeah. I mean, that would be the natural way to take what He is saying. It would be very unnatural to take anyone who is talking about a specific subject and think that when they say, ‘all things which are written,’ oh, that means every prophecy about everything, including Second Coming or incarnation or cross or whatever.  No, it’s defined by the context in which it’s being discussed.  This is another—this would actually be one example which you could use in talking really to anyone about where pas pas hupon, ‘all things,’ has to be defined by the context in which it’s used.”


Caller:  “Right. In other words, the ‘all’ is limited--”


JW:  “By the context.”


Caller:  “--according to the context.”


JW:  “Oh, yeah, sure.”


Caller:  “I go to a church that is reformed in its soteriology. But it is futurist in its eschatology.  Like most churches with new visitors, you run into a kaleidoscope of people with differing beliefs.  Recently, I’ve talked with a fellow that’s extremely erudite, much more so than I. But he considers himself a preterist.”


JW:  “Okay.”


Caller:  “Do preterists—or, at least, do some preterists, believe that Jesus actually returned—“


JW:  “Yes.”


Caller:  “--in the Roman armies, and that He was invisible?”


JW:  “Yeah. What you’re, what would normally, historically what you’re discussing here is called ‘pantellism’ from pas pas hupon, from a text like this.  All things have already been fulfilled.  We are already in the eternal state.  The Second Coming took place in A.D.70.  The resurrection took place in A.D.70.  Everything was fulfilled at that point.  Now, I don’t know about you, but if this is the eternal state, I’ve got some real problems!”


Caller:  “I think that’s error.”


JW:  “No, it’s not just error. It’s heresy because it ends up denying the—many of these end up denying the physical nature of the resurrection of Jesus, and they end up with all sorts of problems.  There’s a book which we probably should carry but don’t. But you can find it online I’m sure.  And I was looking at it yesterday, because I was digging through all of my boxes looking for a particular book and of course, guess where was it?  The last box I looked at!  Of course, where else would it be?  An hour worth of just looking for one book.  And I’m—“


Caller:  “Thinking of the title.”


JW:  “Yeah, I can see the book and I—oh, the fellow works for Ligonier Ministries.  Doggone it!  ‘When Shall These Things Come to Pass,’ I think is what it was called.”


Caller:  “Okay.”


JW:  “Um, oh, drat it all!  Maybe somebody in channel, uh…  Yes!  Mathison, thank you.  Yes, ‘hopester’ up in Idaho just saved me.  Keith Mathison…”


Caller:  “Keith Mathison, yeah.”


JW:  “Keith Mathison has written a book on the subject of what I would prefer calling hyper-preterism, because there is partial preterism, which would be more the standard Reformed viewpoint, that certain elements of Matthew 24, Luke 21, are fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70—but not all. To say that everything [is fulfilled] becomes hyperpreterism. 


Caller:  “Right.”


JW:  “So, there’s a real dividing line, and unfortunately, individual writers and people like that are not necessarily overly consistent in their utilization of the language.  So, preterists who are actually hyper-preterists will simply call themselves preterists, and partial-preterists will call themselves preterists.  And so it can be very, very confusing.”


Caller:  “Right.”


JW:  “And it’s, to be honest with you, is an area that is-- I would say there’s a number of areas in systematic theology that would keep me from ever writing a book on systematic theology because I just don’t enjoy the discussion of them.  And this would be one of them, and that’s why I would refer you to something like Keith Mathison’s book on that particular subject to provide you with a good response.”


Caller:  “Don’t these folks have some real problems, though, with a text of Scripture like, you know, even in this passage. I mean, right when it describes the Second Coming, it talks about the signs in the sun and the moon and the stars? I mean, these supernatural events…”

JW:  “They would actually connect those to Old Testament prophecies in reference to limited judgments upon Israel in the past.”


Caller:  “Uh huh.”


JW:  “Believe me, once you accept the overarching interpretive hermeneutic of hyper-preterism, they can come up with an answer for anything.”


Caller:  “Yeah.”


JW:  “The problem is, the result is, something that has almost no resemblance to historic, Biblical Christianity at all.  It’s really a mess. So, I would refer you to Mathison before I end up saying things that I would probably…”


Caller:  “It’s called, ‘When Shall These Things Come?’ ”


JW:  “Um, you know, all you’d have to do is Google “keith mathison” or Amazon “keith mathison.” I think that was the title.  But, off the top of my head, I wouldn’t be able to give you the specific title.”


Caller:  “You know, Dr. White, it’s amazing how intelligent that someone can sound, and how well-read that they can be…” 


JW:  (laughs)


Caller:  “…and yet, I mean, because, you know, I don’t feel like I’m that much of an intellectual when it comes to these things.  I have to read—you know, it amazes me how you remember so many-- you must have a brain like a big hard drive on a computer, because I can’t remember this stuff without it in front of me. But yet, it’s just like you said, I mean, here I’ve got a really nice guy, this guy’s a really wonderful guy—“


JW:  “Yeah.”


Caller:  “Very intelligent sounding. But yet, you know, according-- you just called him a heretic!”


JW:  “Well, yeah, you got to remember something.  First of all…”


Caller:  “That’s not the first time I’ve heard that said about preterism!”


JW:  “First of all, it’s called, “When Shall These Things Be: A Reformed Response to Hyperpreterism.”  It’s on Amazon for $12.59.  I just popped it up real quick.”


Caller:  “Great.”


JW:  “Secondly, remember, heresy is not a matter—okay, let me back up.  Heresy is not always a matter of intellect.  In fact, while heresy often is due to a lack of teaching—Scripture talks about, you know, watch your doctrine, and those who are untaught and unstable.  But, you see, you can be taught and unstable, and still fall into error. In fact, knowledge puffs up, and when someone becomes puffed up, to the point where they are unwilling to be corrected, or think that they can see things no one else has ever, ever, ever seen in the text of Scripture…”


Caller:  “Right.”


JW:  “That’s always a danger.  And let’s, let’s, let’s-- I’m going to be very honest here, and, folks, if anyone misrepresents me on this, and misquotes me on this, there’s nothing I can do about it.  But there is a danger amongst Reformed people to get into these kinds of things, because they start realizing, they start seeing the connections in Scripture about certain doctrines, and all of a sudden they start, they get on their hobby horse and start running.  If they’re not grounded in a good church, if they’re not grounded in teaching, if they’re not grounded in ministering to the saints, and things like that, they can become so puffed up and arrogant in their thinking, that they end being succeptible to all sorts of stuff like this.

"There is a balance that must be maintained. The Scriptures tell us that we must love the truth. That means loving all of the truth. We can, in our arrogance, endanger our own souls by not having the balance that we need to have in being a part of the church, and ministering to others and sometimes intellectuals think that this might be just a little bit below them.”


End of transcript
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