An Apology to the Public Regarding Preterism
By Jason Bradfield
Because it only lasted a week or two, it probably went unnoticed that i had virtually shut down, internet-wise. I removed a few accounts i have with preterist sites including a site i help create; i deactivated my facebook; i privatized this blog and most of my work on RCM. I basically wanted to *disappear* for awhile, avoiding all the distractions that take place in preterism and get back to some good ole’ studying, like i used to do.
I still do. But i’ve been swiftly rebuked by a number of people for wanting to drop everything so fast. After chewing on it some more over the past week, i decided to give in…just a little. I reactivated my facebook but narrowed down my list of 300+ “friends” to about 30 and i have reactivated this blog. As for the rest, i’ll leave it as it is.
Now, to the point of this post.
Let me explain what has led up to all this.
~ The online Preterist community is an embarrassment on many levels. And by “preterism”, i am referring to full preterism.
Now, as I list reasons why, let me also be clear by adding that i am preaching against myself as well. I have been guilty of some of these things. Hence, one of the reasons i wanted to take a break and reassess things.
1.) Ignorance. Very few within the movement are systematically trained. What do i mean by that? The Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God. And as such, it presents to us a logically coherent system, or worldview. It is the expression of a rational God for rational creatures. Everything is connected. Some beliefs are more fundamental than others, but they are all connected nonetheless. It’s kinda like that game Jenga. 54 wood blocks are placed in a tin can, all nice and neat, to form a “tower”. The can is then lifted. Each player takes a turn removing a block from the tower and then places that block on the top to balance things. Eventually, someone is going to remove a piece that topples the whole thing and thereby loses the game. Some pieces can be moved with little notice. Some blocks are more important though, upon which these seemingly less significant ones rest. But even these less significant blocks will eventually fall as well, when the foundation is constantly picked at. It’s all connected.
The Bible presents to us a strong tower of beliefs. A superior philosophical view of men and things of which no other worldview can compete. The problem is never the Bible. The problem arises when we start playing around with the blocks. We remove a block here…remove a block there. Some of them we never put back. Some of them we’ll add back to the top, but entirely out of place, causing imbalance. And if we keep doing this for long, the whole thing topples. Again, it’s not that the Bible itself topples. No man can destroy or “topple” the mind of God. Let God be true and every man a liar. Instead, it is our perception of the Bible that fails and is in turn relayed to others, causing distrust, unbelief, etc.
When you start playing around with, say, the doctrine of the Trinity, this in turn affects other doctrines. To be more exact…If one argues that Jesus was only a man, then this in turn will affect the doctrine of the atonement. An atonement by a mere man is no atonement at all. Thus, you destroy hope of salvation….on and on it goes. Remove that block, and others fall with it.
Let me be real frank: the online preterist community, by and large, is playing games with the Bible.
Not only are most not systematically trained, but “systematics” has actually been frowned upon and discouraged, even in some of preterism’s most popular conferences. I have heard often that a systematic approach would “destroy” preterism. Now, because i have always been pro-systematic, i would just respond by saying, “No, that’s nuts. It has to be systematized. But now i wonder, “maybe that’s the problem…it can’t.” If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the discussion forums involving preterists, you will see nothing but one crazy disjointed claim after another. Especially among the camp called “Covenant Creationists”.
They will take a verse and say, “this means that”, being totally oblivious to the incoherency it causes elsewhere in the Bible. And when it is pointed out to them, they actually BOAST in the incoherency! We are given excuses that “logic is man made anyways”; that the “original hebrew mind did not think in such strict terms.” blah, blah, blah.
And what has really got my attention as of late is that this irrational mindset is not only present among the “liberals” of preterism, but is prevalent among the so-called “conservatives” as well. Some of these excuses used by the covenant creationists are some of the same excuses your typical preterist uses against futurism. Like appealing to an original hebrew mindset as though every hebrew thought alike and things like, “well, if that word means this there, then it must mean that here.” I am ashamed to say that i have even used that last one. I have been told that the most fundamental doctrines of our faith involve “irreconcilable apparent contradictions”! Which is really just another way of saying, “This stuff don’t make any sense, but we’re called to believe it anyways. That’s faith.” The heck it isn’t. Absolutely nowhere does the Bible present to us such ridiculous notions of faith and knowledge. Blocks being removed…
Now, i am perfectly aware that irrationalists exist in every camp. I’m not going to get away from them by leaving preterism. However, it is so prevalent among preterists that it has seriously caused me to pause for a second and question why that is.
Such is not the case within, say, reformed circles. Yes, among the “reformed”, you will read some of the most irrational nonsense you have ever read in your life, but there is almost always a huge number of other “reformed” men who quickly respond. Historically, the reformed faith has placed an important role to the intellect and systematics. Logic is not frowned upon. It is deemed necessary.
It is getting to the point with preterism that i no longer feel that backing. Things that should be fundamental are just thrown to the wind. Now, it may be that i am suffering with Elijah syndrome, but if there are 7,ooo that haven’t bowed to the knee to irrational nonsense…where are they? I don’t see them. By the way, this is why i was careful in saying that the “online” preterist community is a joke. I know that there are some offline preterists out there that abhor what they see going on. They just don’t blog about it. So i am not talking about “all” preterists. However, this is prevalent among those regarded as “leaders” and if it isn’t enough to make me rethink the foundations of preterism, it at least makes me want to disassociate myself from it. But again, because it is so prevalent, i am open to the possibility that preterism itself is the problem. When the loudest and most public figures within preterism are telling people to embrace nonsense, i have to step back and reassess why that is. If preterism requires me to embrace “irreconcilable paradox” and downplay systematics, then i say to hell with preterism.
2.) Arrogance. Arrogance and ignorance are two separate things, thus i made this (2). However, this problem overlaps with the first one.
Not only are many preterists ignorant and willfully so of systematic studies, historical studies, original languages, etc; but they boast in it as well. Now, here is why i really have a problem with this. We, as the preterist community, are telling the world that the church has missed the boat on so much over the past 2,ooo years. Ok…fine. But what do we replace it with? The downplaying of systematics; the degrading of logic; a “make it up as we go along” approach; and all this by men and women who, as i have said above, are not trained and often speak on things they know nothing about!
Two covenant creationists wrote a book in which many linguistic claims were made about the hebrew and greek text. First years students were able to quickly point out their error. Yet, what was the response? “Well, you’re only saying that because you’re not a preterist…or…you’re not a consistent preterist.” blah, blah, blah.
We often portray ourselves as leaders of a new reformation. Ok…fine. But don’t you think the leaders of this new reformation should at least be able to read Greek and Hebrew when commenting on it? And don’t you think our “leaders” should be able to tell you why “irreconcilable paradoxes” are a problem?! We have seriously lowered the standards as a whole.
We even have some of our “leaders” questioning the inerrancy of Scripture, for crying out loud!
Again, i know someone is going to say, “Yeah, but Jason, this goes on everywhere. Baptist, methodist, presbyterian and so on…” And yes, i understand that. But again, you will also find STRONG opposition within those same camps. They didn’t play around it. They didn’t push it to the side for the sake of the “movement”.
About the only thing preterists are dogmatic on is that “Jesus already came.” Ok…fine. But what about the rest of it? I have noticed more and more a tendency to entertain things that are just flat out ridiculous from the start, all in some effort to preserve a “new reformation”. Everything else seems to be up for grabs; we just need to get people believing that Jesus already came back.
So let me get this straight…we want to correct every other christian on their nonsensical views of end-times, etc., for a view that is just as nonsensical at times, if not worse? For a view that is creating more problems than what existed to start with?
“You’re wrong. Now come join us as we ever-journey with speculation after speculation; downgrading absolutes, logic, and systematics, and never really arriving at any answers.”
In fact, stuff that is just about universal among Christians is now being toppled over by preterists. We are told that nowhere does God give us an account of creation. We are told by men who ignorantly twist Augustine that man was NEVER made in the image of God. We are told that the reference to “animals” on the ark were really “people”, because God wouldn’t hold an animal accountable for killing someone. We are told that the Trinity doesn’t make any sense; we have to flip our rational minds off and just accept it. We are told that Adam was not the first man. We are told that science gives us truth. We are told that the Bible only contains truth in some places. It is errant in others. On and on it goes.
Oh, we’re “reforming” alright. Reforming the WHOLE kit and caboodle! Heck, we have practically toppled the whole of Christianity and are playing with a different set of blocks! And what have we constructed thus far? “Well, we know Jesus came back. That will be our foundation block…now lets build on top of that. The rest of this stuff…well…let’s just converse about it.”
Just what exactly are we putting in its place? Right now, it looks like a bunch of nonsense. And it is a bunch of nonsense by AMATEURS! And yes, i include MYSELF in that!
We are making HUGE claims as a preterist community…do you not think that we should at least sit on this for awhile and get some ducks in a row, making darn sure we have examined this from every possible angle instead of flippantly coming up with stuff on a daily basis for “conversation” all the while telling the futurist community how screwed up they are?!
If you are going to lead the world into this new understanding of the Bible, could you at least learn some frickin’ Greek?! Yes, rapture crazy Harold Campings know Greek. But at LEAST they know Greek.
We are not raising the bar…we have lowered it! And we parade around as new reformation leaders?!
Arrogance, folks. Plain and simple. As far as the Bible is concerned, not just anybody could step in and start teaching. There were qualifications. There was a standard. With preterists? Everyone thinks they’re a teacher. And what they teach one week totally contradicts what they’re teaching now.
What is wrong with just sitting down and listening for awhile? Did you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, in 2,ooo+ years of theological history, someone has already addressed your so-called huge discovery?
Do you realize how ignorant and stupid you look and make the rest of us preterists look when you make some big ordeal about your new found discovery that Genesis is “covenantal” when theologians have been saying that for centuries?
Do you realize how amateurish you appear when the problem of induction is brought up to you and you respond with, “Induction? What’s that?”
Who are we kidding? The preterist community is largely made up of bunch of ignoramuses. And YES, MYSELF INCLUDED.
It would be one thing if we were in some private forum somewhere, politely discussing these matters and seeking help from others. Sitting on it for years, heck, decades. But oh no…we parade around with our conferences and radio programs, leading this new reformation of “sanity” with some of the most insane stuff ever produced. All the while removing one “christian” block after another.
Did it really get that bad? Did God really let the church go that far into darkness, up until a few ignorant systematic haters showed up on the scene to straighten us all out with irreconcilable paradoxes?
Something is wrong. And to be honest, i still consider myself a preterist. That’s just where i am right now. But up until recently, what i thought might have been just some quirks with a few preterists is turning out to be indicative of the whole. And that concerns me. It raises some flags. It makes me stop and think, “dang, maybe this is the result of an error that is toppling everything else.”
I’m willing to reassess that. I’m willing now more than ever to think twice about this. I’m willing to admit that i’m an amateur theologian and take a seat for awhile. And i’m sure some will agree with that and boast in their expertise, like the wonderful pretcosmos gang and our consistent covenant creationists friends. But look at their fruit, folks. Look as they are tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine on an hourly basis. Writing things in books that they even admit they were unsure about when writing it!
Do we preterists not have any reverence whatsoever for the word of God? Are we concerned at all with the souls of those who wander onto our sites? Is there not any fear at all about the consequences that are possible with our constant “journeying” and “questioning” but never “answering”?
It concerns me, and that is why i’m taking a break from it all. And i owe people an apology. I apologize for ever recommending certain sites, like PretCosmos. I apologize if by reading their material, you were shaken in your faith more than you were strengthened. I apologize that by attempting to cooperate some with certain covenant creationists, that i misled you into thinking that they had anything worthy of thought. And i apologize if my own writings misled you into thinking that preterism is a lot more solid than it really is.
Reality is, we have offered very little. And what little we have offered has been, by and large, nonsense and has created more problems than it has solved. Preterism seems to be more about bullying you into it than it is about presenting a coherent worldview. And bullying is, most of the time, a sign of ignorance.
Before you sign on with this “movement”, you might want to think twice about how just about everything we have known as “christianity” is getting toppled over. There is nothing wrong with exercising caution. And don’t let these bullies tell you otherwise. Yes, i know it will be difficult not to lower yourself to their level as they psycho-analyze your supposed motives and speculate and slander your name for weeks on end based off a google map search, but don’t do it. We’re not playing Jenga. Souls are at stake. And i realize this might hurt some of your site stats and sales, but i urge all prets to seriously just step back for a second and look at what is going on. How far are you willing to go?
Me? I’m pausing. Something’s screwy. via iPhone
What do YOU think ?
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Date: 06 Oct 2011
there are errors ,misquotes , verses added and verses taken out of the scriptures. If one does not see this he is possible blinded by self interest. We, as the church need to address these issues honestly and reasonably. All the crying and finger pointing within the preterist camp(s)shows an immaturity liken to the scare tactics also seen within these communities.., shut up , grow up , read up and maybe you can come back with logical , non-sensationalistic exegetics sans the tears