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Introduction and Key


David S. Clark - The Message From Patmos: A Postmillennial Commentary on the Book of Revelation (1921) "This early twentieth-century Postmillennial commentary on the Book of Revelation, written by the father of theologian Gordon Clark, offers an easy-to-read alternative to the popular Pre-millennial/Dispensational views of the best-selling Scofield Reference Bible and a multitude of other dissertations on end-time prophecy that litter the shelves of Christian bookstores. "

The Braying of Heretics, or, The Heresies of Bray
(Or, Yet Still, Another One Bites the Dust)

By P. Andrew Sandlin
April 4, 2000

In his booklet The Rapture of Christians, Southern Baptist evangelist John Bray unambiguously endorses the Hymenaen ("consistent preterist") heresy: the denial of the bodily, physical return of Christ and the bodily, physical resurrection of the saints.

I document this charge below. He holds that the Second Advent occurred on or about A. D. 70, and that the resurrection of the saints occurs at their death. In other words, he denies the physical return  of Christ to earth in power and glory as well as the physical resurrection of the Christian. (What Bray really supports is not a resurrection, but a replacement.)

This is at variance with the Bible's teaching. It is also at variance with Christian orthodoxy, in other words, with Christianity. The doctrines of Christ's physical return and believers' physical resurrection are not secondary, though important, doctrines like baptism,
millennialism, and church government. They are at the heart of Christianity.   Christianity is not only a relationship with Jesus Christ (though it surely is not less than that).

In addition, it is an objective, historical religion whose cardinal  tenets one cannot deny without abandoning the religion itself. For instance,  one may claim he is a Christian, enjoying a relationship with Jesus Christ;  but if he denies the orthodox Trinity, his claims ring hollow. The doctrines  of Christ's physical return and believers' physical resurrection are no less core components of Christianity than the doctrine of the Trinity. These doctrines are jettisoned, or seriously redefined, by the Hymenaen heresy.

In his book The End of All Things: A Defense of the Future, C. Jonathin Seraiah refutes this heresy exegetically. This book, endorsed by R. C. Sproul, Jr.; Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.; Richard Pratt; and this writer, is available from Canon Press, .

What specifically does Bray teach? That there is no future Second Advent, for  one thing:

"I have come to the conclusion that the event which we have termed 'The Second Coming of Christ' actually took place in the first century during that generation of people who lived in the time of Christ, according to the prophecy and predictions of both Jesus and the writers of the New Testament.  All teaching, therefore, concerning the resurrection and judgment connected  with the Second Coming of Christ must be studied and understood in the light of this context." (page 2)

Note carefully that the re-definition of the Second Advent, to Bray's way of thinking, necessitates the re-definition of "the resurrection and judgment."

This, of course, is true of all Hymenaens. (Consider, but not too carefully, Ed Stevens' paper, as well as the Leonards' book, on this subject.)

Further, Bray asserts that the resurrection body is the body the saint receives at death, not a true resurrection at all:

"At death, which is not really death for the Christian (John 11:25-26), we receive our heavenly bodies, so that we shall not be found naked, but clothed upon (II Corinthians 5:4). This is our resurrection body! ' . . and so shall we ever be with the Lord' (I Thessalonians 4:17)." (page 30)

He contends on page 17 that the only resurrection body is the body the saint receives at death. No one, of course, holds that believers' bodies presently in graves have been resurrected; that would be the classic oxymoron.  Therefore, like all other Hymenaens, Bray must attack the physical resurrection of believers. If the great resurrection has already occurred, and if believers' bodies are still in the graves, then this, whatever it is, is not a resurrection.

But Bray not only attacks the precious doctrine of the resurrection. He mocks it:

"We are not interested in this old body surviving. Billions have turned back   into dust. Some have been eaten by wild beasts and sharks of the sea.  Some animals, after digesting the remains of a human body, are then eaten themselves by humans and, in turn, digested by them. Some humans have been eaten and digested by cannibals. Are these to be brought forth and reassembled and resurrected?

"If the old body is to survive in resurrection, which set of teeth will the Lord claim? Which set of hair? Which heart, or kidney, or other transplanted organ now belonging to someone else? If all cells in our bodies undergo change so that all cells are not the same cells they were several years ago, would just the cells at hand at the time of the resurrection be taken? No,  this is not what God is wanting to do. This old body is going to have to lie  down and die, and the Christian who lives therein will move out into a better one which is immortal." (page 24)

I have not read one orthodox exegete who identifies the "house" of 2   Corinthians 5:1 as a replacement for the resurrection body, as Bray and other heretics do. Some, like Calvin, admit it may refer to "a state of blessed immortality, which awaits believers after death, or the incorruptible and glorious body, such as it will be after the resurrection." It is either the believer's body resurrected and immortalized at the end of history, or a description of the intermediate state. It is not a substitute for the resurrection, Bray's views notwithstanding.

More egregiously, Bray's rationalist-empirical justification for denying the bodily resurrection undercuts in principle all miracles, were he to practice it consistently. After all, if it's incredible to believe that God could reassemble, resurrect, purify, and immortalize Christians' bodies, why should it be thought credible that He created the universe, or opened the Red Sea, or raised Christ from the dead? In fact, I'd very much like to know what Bray  believes about our Lord's resurrection body. For if, as St. Paul declares,  His resurrection is the firstfruits and guarantee of our resurrection (1 Cor. 15:12-23), did Christ have nothing but a "replacement body"?    In other words,  would Bray not be forced to argue that Christ is not resurrected just as (in his view) believers are not resurrected?

Bray, in short, is a "consistent preterist," i.e., heretical Hymenaen.   This is demonstrable. There is no dispute about this.

This heresy claimed
David Chilton before he died. It captured Walt Hibbard. It has seduced John Bray. He is the latest to bite the dust.

What is the attraction of this heresy? About its emotional, sociological or psychological attraction, I hazard no information. About its theological  attraction, I suggest two ideas.

First, in an age dominated by the erroneous dispensational view, it offers a  clear and immediate refutation. It wipes out the entire last days controversy by positing the last days as in the past. It also, unfortunately, wipes out a portion of Christianity. It seductively offers the silver bullet against
Dispensationalism, but it does this at the expense of disemboweling orthodox Christianity.

Second, it appeals, I believe, to curious, creative minds for whom theological novelty is especially appealing. These individuals rightly grasp  the fact of theological and dogmatic development (who but the most obscurantist would deny it?), but they do not believe that this development may occur legitimately only within the matrix of orthodox Christianity.   Any other theological and dogmatic development, whatever it may be, is not Christian. Christianity, while a highly traditional and historically anchored Faith, does carry in its bosom at any one time a number of gifted (or at least curious) individuals who are not quite satisfied with the doctrinal formulations of their time. Some simply wish to make the Faith relevant to their contemporary situation; and if they do this within the context of  orthodoxy, they may just break ground in advancing the kingdom (
Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Kuyper, and Van Til come immediately to mind). Others are merely arrogant, setting their own imagination against the entire testimony of the saints for 1700 years. To those for whom the constraints of orthodoxy Christianity are uncomfortably restrictive, their own gifted (or, in some
cases, ignorant) minds furnish a new and exciting (and heretical and damnable) alternative. I know of no devotee of this heresy, not one, who is deeply schooled in the history of the church or its theology. They may be exegetes or theologians (though there are frankly few of these), but they are not historians. Historians know better.

So, for that matter, do all orthodox Christians.

P. Andrew Sandlin is executive vice president of Chalcedon and editor of the Chalcedon Report and other Chalcedon publications. He has written hundreds of scholarly and popular articles and several monographs.

What do YOU think ?

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26 Nov 2003


Thanks for your opinions and comments about brother Bray. However,I donot find them compeling enought to overcome all the obstickles of the argument. To be objective in understanding the scripture as to make any sence at all , we must seek to interpret it in the proper time frame. As far as I can see,this is what John Bray is trying to do. To critize his ideas without other options as to understanding the scriptures is not right. Of course,orthdox Christianity does not all concure with his findings,(preterism) but is time I believe it is the only thing that adds up. ><> Dean

21 Dec 2003


Why was this trash allowed on this website? Sandlin obviously doesn't have a clue.

28 Jan 2004


True, the overwhelming tradition of orthodox Christianity posits a future final visible ressurection and judgement-atleast from 71ad to the mid 100's -(when the first non-Preterist writings began to surface. But New Testament Scriptures themselves can easily be filtered through Preterist concepts. I take exception with the authors assertion that Preterism's advocates lack credentials; for the most part, they are every bit as credentialed, I dare say, as the author. Further, Preterism has difinitive linguistic and cultural proofs derived from the original languages of both the OT and NT (if one simply wishes to limit the search to Scriptures Alone). The Preterist interpretations have the advantage of clearing up the so called "hard sayings" in the Bible, most of which in reality are only "hard" because they must be filtered through the preconceptions of traditional futurist doctrines, which, of necessity, strain the normal and more literal exegesis of same - the same problem encountered in Premillennial Dispensationalism.

20 Mar 2004


Mr. Sandlin. In Your arrogance and traditional dogmatism you are blinded to the realities within scripture of the nature of the ressurection and it's timing. IE: concerning the nature :scripture says "..,we are raised a "SPIRITUAL" body." IE: concerning the timing:scripture again testifies " .., when the last enemy is destroyed(death) the son will hand the kingdom back to the Father..,". The promise of ressurection was for the old covenant saints and martyrs up until 70 A.D.Those dead were spiritually raised from the grave, Those still alive were ensured their salvation in the heavenlies by the "ESTABLISHMENT " of the new covenant, which BTW ,could not happen until the old was taken out of the way. The new covenant posesses a better promise for those after 70 A.D. "WE WILL NEVER DIE". Don't mean to burst your self inflated bubble , but you need to study with God's spirit and not your own. thanks for your time

02 May 2004


John L. Bray is not teaching heresy regarding the resurrection. When Scripture is compared with Scripture it will be seen that the soul of the believer is resurrected and then after it is resurrected the soul is united with a new body which was prepared in heaven. Even though the soul is as mortal as the body it is, nonetheless, a distinct entity from the body. The resurrection of the Lord is set as a pattern and does not necessarily mean that the details in the process of our resurrection will be exactly the same. The Book of Corinthians says that we have an eternal (not temporary) body reserved for us in heaven. That was not the case with our Lord but the end result is the same for the Lord and His people - a new body.

24 Aug 2004


We will be raised with "spiritual bodies." This means that the body will be animated by the Spirit, not that the body will be made of spirit. I recommend reading The Resurrection of the Son of God by N. T. Wright to understand what I Corinthians 15 means by "spiritual body."

21 Sep 2004


mr. sandlin john bray doesen't deny anything. we preterist agree with jesus, and the prophets that all these things were fullfilled when they said it was going to be fullfilled in that generation not ours.

16 Dec 2004


Please publish a defense of Bray in full! Sandlin is no more an "authority" on orthodoxy than the popes who excommunicated the Protestant Reformers! He will discover this at his personal meeting with the Lord, to be sure. PAUL RICHARD STRANGE SR

16 Dec 2004


TDD: Due to Mr. Bray's request, none of his works are hosted at this site.. But I'll be most happy to post any defense someone would care to submit.

Date: 20 Feb 2010
Time: 14:01:40

Your Comments:

Remember that if Jesus spoke in parables, He did not to disclose what He was saying to the multitudes; only to His disciples. In the Bible, it clearly states the meanings of the parables after they were read... so if this is true, (which it is) why wouldn't the Bible go ahead and disclose the "true" meaning of Revelations, or of the Olivet Discourse? Why keep us all in utter confusion as to what the Bible "really" means? Huh? If Jesus was talking about he past generation only, and not the end times, don't you think He would have disclosed that to us Christians???

It is up to you what to believe in your heart of what the Word of God means to you, I will not judge, but do not be so quick to agree with some MORTAL man ie. John L. Bray... Who do you TRULY put your trust in? The Word of God, or some Baptist Evangical person who thinks he has finally figured out the Bible...

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
-Matthew 13:9



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