POSITIONS IN THIS ARTICLE:
SOME DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES OF SYSTEMATIZED
It is important to keep in mind that many ideas and doctrines
full preterism appeals to - such as the complete end of the Old
Covenant world in AD70 - are by no means distinctive to that view.
Many non HyPs believe this as well, so one need not embrace the Hyper
Preterist system in order to endorse this view. Following
are exceptional doctrines which, so far as I've seen, are only taught by
adherents of Hyper Preterism.:
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY STANDARD
All Bible Prophecy was Fulfilled By AD70
Atonement Incomplete at Cross ;
Complete at AD70
The Supernatural Power of Evil
Ended in AD70
The Spirit of Antichrist was
Destroyed in AD70
"The Consummation of the Ages"
Came in AD70
"The Millennium" is in the Past, From
AD30 to AD70
Nothing to be Resurrected From
in Post AD70 World ; Hades Destroyed
The Christian Age Began in AD70
; Earth Will Never End
"The Day of the Lord" was Israel's
Destruction ending in AD70
The "Second Coming" of Jesus
Christ Took Place in AD70-ish
The Great Judgment took place
in AD70 ; No Future Judgment
The Law, Death, Sin, Devil,
Hades, etc. Utterly Defeated in AD70
of the Dead and Living is Past, Having Taken
Place in AD70
The Context of the Entire Bible
is Pre-AD70 ; Not Written To Post AD70 World
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY VARIOUS FORMS
Baptism was for Pre-AD70 Era (Cessationism)
The Lord's Prayer was for Pre-AD70
The Lord's Supper was for Pre-AD70
The Holy Spirit's Paraclete Work
Ceased in AD70 (Cessationism)
The Consummation in AD70 Caused
Church Offices to Cease (Cessationism)
The Resurrection in AD70 Changed
the "Constitutional Principle" of Marriage (Noyesism)
Israel and Humanity Delivered into
Ultimate Liberty in AD70 (TransmillennialismTM)
The Judgment in AD70 Reconciled All
of Mankind to God ; All Saved (Preterist Universalism)
Adam's Sin No Longer Imputed in
Post AD70 World ; No Need to be Born Again (Preterist Universalism)
When Jesus Delivered the Kingdom to
the Father in AD70, He Ceased Being The Intermediary (Pantelism/Comprehensive
The Book of Genesis is an
Apocalypse; is About Creation of First Covenant Man, not First Historical
Man (Covenantal Preterism)
Hibbard Reviews Sandlin's Review of Sproul
By Walt Hibbard
See All Three Parts:
1. Sandlin's Review of Sproul's "Last Days" | 2. Hibbard Reviews Sandlin's Review of Sproul | 3. Sandlin Responds to Hibbard
When a Christian Reconstructionist such as Andrew Sandlin decides to review a significant, postmillennial, partial preterist title such as R. C. Sproul’s THE LAST DAYS ACCORDING TO JESUS: When Did Jesus Say He Would Return? (Baker Books, 1998), one would expect at least a careful line-by-line exegetical evaluation of Dr. Sproul’s recent study. What we get, however, is not this, but rather a puzzling series of statements where one can glean nearly as much from “between the lines” as from Sandlin’s review itself. Some important and unusual things are happening these days in the “partial preterist” camp.
Sandlin is concerned that Sproul’s book, while clearly postmillennial in viewpoint, is more principally occupied with defending “partial preterism.” Likely Sandlin is correct here, since in much of the book Sproul presents almost a “running survey” of the full preterist, J. Stuart Russell’s THE PAROUSIA (Baker Books, 1999) along with his own comments, all of which are very incisive and instructive. But the discerning observer will notice here that Sandlin is beginning to set the tone for the rest of the review.
It is an attempt to suggest to the reader that “partial preterism” and “postmillennialism” don’t always have to be taken as “one indivisible unit.” Again, Sandlin is correct; these terms at least historically are not always bound together. Yet in Reconstructionist circles these days (including much of the material that has appeared in the Chalcedon Report) there has been a close identification of these two terms. This has come about principally through the writings of Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., the early David Chilton (who later became a full preterist) and even Sandlin himself. Now Sandlin wants to make sure his readers don’t miss the absolute non-connectiveness of the two terms. You may wonder why this is. Soon we will find out.
Continuing, Sandlin suggests that “Sproul’s eschatological viewpoint was less exegetically and theologically than apologetically driven. He is deeply concerned that the critics of Jesus Christ not get an upper hand. In the context of eschatology, the prime charge of critics which troubles him most is that Jesus is a false prophet in that Jesus claimed that his Second Coming was near, or virtually imminent, while clearly the physical Second Advent which the Bible predicts was not.” Indeed, Sproul is very much concerned about the many critics who are able to grasp what Jesus was promising in the imminency statements and who then inform their audiences that it didn’t happen. And rightly so! Should not Sandlin be as much concerned as Sproul to defend the Faith against these liberals? Sproul’s book is a powerful apologetical tool because he has done his homework exegetically and theologically in arriving at his conclusions. Is Sandlin hinting that there is something lacking in Sproul’s exegetical and theological work since Sandlin thinks he comes across as overly concerned with defending the faith?
Sandlin continues: “This eschatological interpretation (preterism-WCH) does have some historical precedent... Sproul adopted this position because it accounts, in his way of thinking, for those texts which describe the Second Advent as ‘near’ or ‘at hand.’” Sandlin’s phrase “in his way of thinking” would suggest that he takes exception to Sproul’s solution to the New Testament imminency passages. Has Sandlin come up with a new and innovative interpretation of what “near” and “at hand” really mean? He doesn’t say. He just casts doubt on Sproul’s exegesis. The plot thickens!
While being careful to distance Ken Gentry from the more consistent “full preterists,” Sandlin seems to defend the “partial preterist” view as thoroughly orthodox. Yet in spite of this, Sandlin pounces on Sproul’s statement that “the preterist is a sentinel standing against frivolous and superficial attempts to downplay or explain away the force of these [eschatological time] references” (p. 203). He suggests that Sproul may be saying that any orthodox, non-preterist interpretations of the imminency passages are “frivolous and superficial.” This reviewer would agree with Sproul’s assessment of preterism’s strength. Clearly Sandlin does not.
In the most revealing part of his review, Andrew Sandlin takes sharp issue with the typical preterist understanding that A.D. 70 constitutes the “end of an age” and “is supposed to be the end of the Old Covenant era, God’s dealings with the Jews. I fully dissent from this interpretation....” He goes on to explain that his August 1998 editorial in Chalcedon Report presents Robert S. Rayburn’s idea that “the Old Covenant and the New Covenant refer not to historical epochs at all, but to the experiences of individuals -- equivalent to the ‘old man’ and the ‘new man.’ The Old Covenant was no more concluded in A.D. 70 than the New Covenant was instituted in A.D. 33. Both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant pervade both the Old and New Testament eras -- and today’s world.”
Obviously Sandlin has abandoned preterism! He “fully dissent(s) from the view held by Kenneth Gentry and a host of Christian Reconstructionists, who base their understanding on the scholarly exegesis of J. Marcellus Kik. There is discord in the Chalcedonian camp! What strange camel has stuck its nose into the tent?
Let’s examine for a moment what Sandlin says about his new view, based on the book by Robert S. Rayburn. He apparently has come to the conclusion that the Old and New Covenants don’t refer to historically defined ages or eras, but rather to the experiences of individuals (old man/new man). He says that “the Old Covenant was no more concluded in A.D. 70 than the New Covenant was instituted in A.D. 33.” Surely an intriguing view, but as far as conveying the intention and meaning of the Old and New Covenants, neither Sandlin nor Rayburn get a cigar!
The writer of the Book of Hebrews, far from even suggesting such a view of the covenants, tells his readers in Heb. 8:13 (NJKV) “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” Sounds like the inspired author takes issue with Sandlin and Rayburn here. Does the concept of “vanishing away” in reference to the Old Covenant really mean that it is NOT vanishing away at all, but continuing? This kind of muddled thinking reminds me of the spin that otherwise capable biblical exegetes assign to the imminency passages, making them say precisely the opposite to what a natural reading of the text would indicate.
The Apostle Paul, writing his Second Epistle to the Church at Corinth, speaks of the greater glory of the New Covenant in contrast with the Old. “For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.”(II Cor.3:11) Here again we get a strong impression that the Old Covenant is about to pass away and the more glorious New Covenant is to take its place. Tell us, Rev. Sandlin, which covenant are we as Christian believers really under today? Is it the New Covenant or is it the Old Covenant, or is it BOTH?
Sandlin quotes Sproul’s excellent statements: “All who are inclined to differ with the creeds should observe a warning light and show great caution. Of course this warning light pales in comparison to the authority of Scripture itself... To be completely candid, I must confess that I am still unsettled on some crucial matters.” (pp. 157-158) From these affirmations gleaned from Sproul’s book, Sandlin deplores the suggestion that Sproul “leaves the reader with the distinct impression that he may be willing to (deny creedal Christianity -WCH) if he were convinced that the Bible taught this. However, to alter one’s views of a future physical Second Coming, resurrection of the just and the unjust, and the final judgment, is to restructure Christianity itself.”
But should not any Protestant believer legitimately ask the question, “What is wrong with denying the creed if one is convinced that the Bible teaches something different?” Or, do we view the uninspired interpretations found in the creed as determinative of how we are to understand the only-inspired Word of God, as creedalists, like Andrew Sandlin, clearly believe? The fact that Sproul is “unsettled” in his eschaology makes Sandlin very nervous and suspicious of where Sproul will move next. All true Christians should praise Dr. Sproul for publicly confessing that the authority of Scripture is supreme. But Sandlin’s criticism of Sproul makes one wonder where Sandlin stands in this all-important matter. This reviewer gets the impression that if Sproul makes any future adjustment of his eschatological views, it will only come about after a diligent exegetical study of Scripture. And that is good!
But a lingering question remains: In light of Sandlin’s public approval of the strong statement calling for excommunication and anathemas against full preterists by the Western Classis of the Reformed Church in the United States, drafted by a trustee of the Chalcedon Foundation, would he call for disciplinary ecclesiastical action against Dr. Sproul if he were at any time to become a full preterist? There seems to be little evidence to suggest anything to the contrary!
And finally, Sandlin observes that “Protestants correctly hold that the Bible as our sole authority is never uninterpreted” and quotes Schaff and Hodge, as they speak of traditional considerations, to support his statement. He seems to be saying that the creeds furnish us with the correct interpretation, but his statement is seriously flawed. Rather, it is the Scripture itself which is its own best interpreter, as the Christian reader compares all the texts that relate to the subject at hand in order to draw out “the analogy of faith” under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The creeds pale into something less than fully authoritative for the Bible student, pastor and scholar when searching for the best understanding of a text, especially in eschatology.
Sandlin concludes, “To a certain extent, Sproul’s recent book does this (defends the Holy Scriptures and the Faith -WCH), but it leaves too many questions unanswered and, in this reviewer’s opinion, makes far too many concessions to heterodoxy -- all, ironically, with the noble intention of fully answering skeptics of the Bible.” If it is true about Sproul’s far too many concessions to full preterism that Sandlin mentions, maybe Sproul is close to believing that the only adequate refutation of the liberal view is full preterism! No doubt about it, Sandlin is uneasy with Sproul’s partial preterism as well as his charitable attitude toward full preterism. Did not Sandlin -- speaking for Chalcedon -- attempt (without success) to persuade Sproul to denounce full preterism at his recent Orlando Conference on eschatology? But Sproul, far from heeding Sandlin’s request, actually made new concessions to full preterism in his Orlando lectures beyond what were written in his book!
What does all of this mean for us today? In my opinion, simply this. The Reconstructionists have long basked in the pleasant waters of the preterist’s sauna bath of spiritual insight! Now, with the full preterists exegetically and theologically producing convincing arguments for a more consistent stance, Reconstructionists should logically be enjoying the refreshment and comfort even more. But instead, Sandlin grabs his towel, bails out of the warm and pleasant preterist sauna bath and dives headlong into the shockingly icy waters of unscriptural covenantal speculation!
Andrew Sandlin, a voice for Christian Reconstructionism, is leading the way to a contrived view of the covenants which denies the historical framework within which God imposed these covenants, and ignores God’s Word about the Old Covenant being “ready to vanish away.” By means of clever rhetoric and nuances of interpretation, he may be able to confuse and baffle a few of the “partial preterists.” Whom shall they follow now, Sandlin or Gentry? But an even more intriguing question is: How many of these Reconstructionists will continue to enjoy the increasingly fragrant aroma of the preterist sauna bath..... and become full preterists (like David Chilton did)?
What do YOU think ?
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- 01 Oct 2003
This was a WELL written response and I am greatful for having Mr. Hibbard taking the time to write it. It says it all and saves me some soreness in the wrists. -SOLASPATIA