Monday, July 19, 2010

Chris Calls In to "Stand to Reason"

Some of you may be familiar with Greg Koukl's "Stand to Reason" apologetics ministry. They have a weekly radio show, archived in podcast form, and I've recently begun listening. In a couple of recent episodes, callers in have asked about preterism, and Greg (and the callers in) has distinguished between preterism and hyperpreterism using the abhorrent "partial" and "full" prefixes, against which Dee Dee Warren of the Preterist Podcast has rightfully railed (see this blog post, a shorter version of Dee Dee's article, "Perfuming the Hog").

Being new to Greg's show but having developed a respect for him and his aim toward teaching Christians how to think, rather than merely what to think, I decided I'd call in and humbly request that he change his terminology. I agree with Dee Dee that the terminology we employ is important, and likewise wrote about it in "A War Over Words". If you would like to listen to my discussion with Greg, check out his podcast and listen to July 18th's show, "Reflections on UK Vacation." I was the first caller in the second hour of the show, and you can fast forward to 00:59:43 if you want to skip to my call.

Now, keep in mind I was terribly nervous; I've struggled with stage fright all my life. As such, I likely spoke too quickly at times, missed certain points I shouldn't have and failed to clarify certain of Greg's statements. For example, I said at one point that preterists would agree to an extent with hyperpreterists concerning the "time texts," but should have clarified that we don't think those refer to the Second Coming. Also, when asked what hyperpreterists think the resurrection was, I said they believe that refers to the spiritual rebirth all Christians undergo, otherwise known as being "born again," but I am not certain that that's the case and should have prefaced my statement with, "I believe" or "I think." Other examples, I'm sure, could be identified (and I encourage you to let me know so I don't make similar mistakes in the future).

Nevertheless, I'm pleased overall with how things went (despite Greg's having mistakenly called it the book of "Revelations;" I can forgive him for that). In the end, Koukl seemed to agree with my reasoning, said I put my request well, and I gather that in the future he will use terminology which more clearly distinguishes the orthodox view from the heretical one. Let me know what you think!


  1. I think you and Dee Dee are right about the historical meaning of "preterism", but I also think you should cut the rest of us some slack when we lapse into the habit of saying "partial preterist" and "full preterist." After all, all languages evolve, and words take on new meanings with time. As long as everybody is clear on what is meant by "partial preterism" and "full preterism," I don't think it's quite the problem that you seem to.

    And don't worry. I have a terrible case of social anxiety, and whenever I've called the radio station, I've been a nervous wreck. I'm always embarrassed when I listen to it later, and it makes me not want to call again. I just can't think when I'm so nervous. So I understand that you're not at your best when you call in, but I still think you did a good job. Much better than me.

    There was one point that either you or Greg made that I disagreed with. I don't remember which one of you said it, but you claimed that hyperpreterism is a heresy because it is condemned by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:18, where he condemned those who say the resurrection has already happened. I don't think that argument is sound because a hyperpreterist could agree that when Paul wrote that letter, the resurrection had not yet happened, but that it has happened since then. And if they are right to say it has happened, then it isn't a heresy.

    After all, what are we going to say once the resurrection actually does happen? We all agree the resurrection will happen at some point, but obviously we aren't going to become heretics once it does. So the only way to accuse hyperpreterists of heresy is to say that the resurrection still hasn't happened, but then you'd just be begging the question against them. That's why I don't think it's a sound argument.

  2. Hey, Sam. First, thanks so much for the words of encouragement. Listening back to my call, I was actually more pleased than I thought I'd be with my voice and speech. I was sure my nerves were more evident than they turned out to be =) Anyway, yeah, thanks again! By the way, I was really encouraged by your comments on the blog re: Pete, and am looking forward to reading your blog.

    As for the terminology, you say we should cut you some slack but I think you misunderstood. I didn't intend to suggest that non-hyperpreterists--whether dispensational, premillennail, whatever--are intentionally doing something wrong by using "partial" and "full." Rather, it is the hyperpreterists who unjustifiably have coopted "preterism," and I just don't think non-preterists realize the damage it does. I'm just saying, Dee Dee and I are not condemning you or anybody else, just trying to humbly request you use better terminology. And just because words do sometimes change meaning does not mean that we should allow that to happen.

    Now, as to whether or not it does, in fact, do damage, I most certainly think it does, and I think Greg, in the end, agreed that it might as well. Furthermore, I posit that the intensity with which hyperpreterists battle to justify their having coopted the historic term is evidence that they, too, realize what it does. As I said on-air, it lends an air of legitimacy to their view, and it casts a negative light--even if only subconsciously--on the orthodox view by virtue of associating the orthodox view with the heterodox one in the eyes of those not deeply familiar with the views. You and I may have to agree to disagree about that, and that's fine.

    Finally, you object to my pointing to Paul's condemnation of Hymenaeus as evidence that hyperpreterism is heresy on the grounds that if, in fact, the resurrection has already taken place, then it's not heresy. With all due respect, I think you're missing something. Any time two professing Christians disagree, at least one of them is wrong, but merely being wrong doesn't make it heresy. I'm a Calvinist, and I don't think Arminianists are heretics; I'm a Young-Earth Creationists but I don't think OEC's are heretics. And so forth.

    Yet, Christians throughout history have affirmed that there are certain beliefs which are, in fact, heresies. This means that it's not the fact that a belief is false that makes it a heresy. We have to look at other factors to determine that, and in this case Paul's condemnation of Hymenaeus tells us something. It tells us that if the resurrection has not yet taken place, then to affirm it has taken place is heresy.

    So it's not the fact that hyperpreterism is false which makes it heresy, it's the fact that its claims, if false, are so contrary to the gospel that Paul would call it heresy. And since the Church has stood so united in proclaiming the future, bodily resurrection of the dead in accordance with the Scriptures, hyperpreterism falls firmly in the camp of heresy.

    Even if you still disagree, do you see why this is a better argument than perhaps you initially thought?

  3. Yes, you are making a better argument than I thought. I misunderstood you to be using Paul's condemnation of Hymenaeus as an argument against hyperpreterism, which struck me as circular reasoning since the issue under dispute is whether the resurrection has happened since Paul wrote that letter. I mean obviously we can't use Paul's words to deny that the resurrection has happened forever since sooner or later it will happen.

    But I see now that you're arguing that if the resurrection hasn't happen, then hyperpreterism is a heresy. And you deny the resurrection on grounds other than Paul's condemnation of Hymenaeus.

  4. Yes, you've got it. Good points, though. I'll try to be clearer about this in the future.