I have a friend who has pointed out problems he has with some of your response to HyperPreterism. He asked me these questions about you: Why do you not publicly debate HyperPreterists? And: In your chapter in Mathison’s book against HyperPreterism, you focus solely on the creedal argument. Does creedalism preclude exegesis? L.F.R, NC
Dr. Gentry’s response:
Thanks for your inquiry regarding my position as expressed in my chapter in Keith Mathison’s When Shall These Things Be? I generally make it a practice to avoid direct interaction with HyperPreterists for several reasons:
- According to a friend of mine, they have posted on one website prayer for my death. Why should I give them a portion of my life? Is that any way to conduct theological debate (outside of Islam, that is)?
- They tend to be rude, argumentative, and simplistic in interacting with others.
- They have difficulty understanding historic orthodox positions, such as their misconstruing what I am saying in my chapter in Mathison’s book.
- They seem to have only one mission in life: to argue HyperPreterism. I have to make a living!
However, I do occasionally make an exception to cordially expressed inquiries (when I have time!). So I will answer your question as to whether my position in Mathison’s book entails the impossible and absurd position that “We must reject preterism before we can consider preterism.”
In response, please note:
- It is simply a naive and grandiose overstatement to say that I argue that Christians must reject HyperPreterism before they can consider it. After all, how would you know whether it should be rejected if you do not first consider it? Your friend’s argument simply does not make sense! Whoever your friend is, he is simply not thinking clearly if he surmises that I (and the other men in Mathison’s book) hold such an obscurantist position.
- What is worse, your friend has grossly misread my chapter in Mathison’s book. And I would even suspect he has not read it at all (this problem is a constant frustration among many who have interacted with HyperPreterists: HPs too often fail to carefully analyze arguments). I do not argue as your friend thinks I do, as anyone reading my chapter should understand. Ironically, I have written hundreds of pages in numerous books arguing the exegetico-theological case for my eschatological views. I have only engaged the historico-creedal argument in a few places (Mathison’s book being the most voluminous and obvious case). In addition, I was asked to provide ONE chapter in a multi-chapter book which was to offer other arguments.
- Your friend should note that my chapter is replete with documentation from numerous Christian scholars regarding the role of creedal orthodoxy in framing the faith of the church. I cannot understand why your friend presents my position as if it is unique to me. In fact, some criticisms of my chapter have noted that I engage in documentary overkill by proving what everyone knows: Christianity has a long established a creedally-framed orthodoxy. I feel that I am caught between a rock and a hard head by such complaints.
- The careful reader should note that in my “Introduction” on the second page of my presentation I forthrightly contradict your friend’s assertion. There I state: “We open with the creedal argument, not as the final word in the debate, but as the first word – – – not as our only concern, but as a crucial concern.”
Please note that I am simply setting the context of the debate: historic, Christian orthodoxy v. Nouveau unorthodoxy. I am opening the argument; I am not concluding it or closing it down. Orthodox Christians simply want unorthodox men to know where they are coming from. In fact, I did not even write the chapter for HyperPreterists, but for young Christians who may be subjected to the tempting lure of HyperPreterism: “Come, join with us: We are starting a New Reformation! Get in on the ground floor of a new church!” Sounds exciting. But the young Christian needs to realize what he is leaving behind if he succumbs.
- Actually what I was saying was: The universal, historic, corporate Christian church has a biblically based, exegetically derived, systematically organized, clearly enunciated, publicly stated, creedally-secured, theology that affirms (for instance) a future, bodily resurrection and a future, visible Second Coming of Christ. Whether or not any individual wants to adopt the faith of our fathers is his own decision to make. What I argue in my chapter is: When a person adopts an historically unorthodox position he MUST understand that he is placing himself outside of the faith of the historic Christian church. HyperPreterists should simply declare: “We know what the historic Christian faith affirms, but we simply do not believe it and we do not care whether we are outside of orthodoxy.”
My chapter notes that by slipping loose from the anchor of historic orthodoxy, HyperPreterists are adrift on the tides of wholesale theological change. I note by way of introduction that many great doctrines of the faith are gradually being eroded by the relentless tides of hyper-preterist experimentation.
We all know that HyperPreterism is a new movement. I am simply calling upon Christians to recognize that it is new and potentially dangerous. In my “Conclusion” I state: “A critique of any new theological construct or religious movement must consider it on the basis of the historic creeds of orthodox Christianity as an important first step.” My chapter should not be interpreted to be the only step in theological reflection; I expressly affirm the opposite position. I argue there that we must “get our bearings” and note our “theological orientation” as we move into a consideration of a new theology.