Question to Full Preterists (from Baptist theology): PANTELISM!

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Eric B, Dec 7, 2005.

  1. Eric B

    Eric B
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    So now; I see where the chief preterist Grasshopper has gone.
    Anyway, even though we battled like crazy over this, and I am still not convinced of things like the resurrection and other sense and scope aspects.
    However, my debating on preterism over on the PreteristArchives had exposed me to a view called "Pantelism" or "Comprehensive Grace".

    I have become alittle more open to the other views now, but, I could see a "completely fullfilled" view being plausible only under three conditions:

    1) Ed Stevens' "Literal AD 70 Rapture"

    2) An actual visible sighting of Christ suggested by full preterist Dave Green based on some possible evidence from Josephus' writing.

    These both would fulfill the clear sense statements. No more need for ridiculous "figurative" meanings!

    3) Comprehensive Grace, which says that when the temple was destroyed in AD70, then spiritual death completely passed along with it!

    Full preterism, as Grasshopper and Eschatoligist and others have been presenting it, still maintains people dying lost, and needing to be saved in this life. The continuance of spiritual, as well as physical death forever was one of my big objections to Preterism. But if you really want to be consistent with the significance of the passing of the old age of death, then that should have passed as well.
    This would truly fulfill the full scope indicators of the Kingdom. ("Outside are the dogs..." etc would apply to those who perished in AD70, not those afterward.

    This had such an impact on me; I added a special section on it at the end of my Preterism page:
    http://members.aol.com/etb700/preterism.html#compgrace
     
  2. Eric B

    Eric B
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    Here are some excerpts:

    At first, upon looking up a definition of "pantelism", it looks to be synonymous with full preterism. It means "ALL fulfilled". But in actuality, this is different from full preterism, because pantelism says that salvation is completely fulfilled, meaning everyone is now saved, while full preterism still maintains that people are still getting saved now. The position is articulated at http://www.presence.tv/cms/compgrace.shtml"

    Finally, on the flipside of this doctrine is something I had also noticed would be consistent with it; though it is not held by all. If all of the Bible's prophecy was about Israel only, then so is all of its pronouncements of judgment; including for unbelief! This would possibly free the rest of the world to be the recepient of God's grace to all, even if they don’t ever profess faith in Him; though it could also leave open the possibility (if consistent) that God was just a tribal deity only concerned with that region and its people, and not God of the whole universe, as I had been pointing out to one of the pantelists. (i.e. if all the symbols of prophecy regarding "the earth" refer only to that region, and "Heaven" refer to the government of Israel, then "God of the Earth", or "God created the Heavens and the Earth" can justifiably be taken to mean God is only creator and lord of that area!) But let's give the benefit of the doubt; that God is the one Creator of the universe.

    Recall, the thing that opened my heart up to the Bible in the first place was [Herbert Armstrong's] idea that all were not automatically "lost" to the fate of an ever burning Hell. Now, I'm seeing the same promise again, from another system of eschatology, but this time with seemingly more biblical support; though there are still many aspects of preterism that I have not been convinced of after much debate.

    So this raises so many questions.
    One thing I have noticed in "born again" Christianity is the persistence of an element of fear. CG is so hard to believe because we are so used to reading all of those scriptures on "persevering", "making your election sure", "examining yourself to see if you are in the faith", and not "drawing back unto perdition", as we see all over the New testament. We are warned of "trampling underfoot the blood of the Son of God", and "For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries”. From all of this, battles rage on among the different groups over "eternal security" versus "losing salvation". Even five point Calvinism, I find has loopholes that allow for falling away. After all, they have to explain those scriptures mentioning that. So the Calvinists I debated with [here] even admitted that their "faith" could be "false", and they "believing in vain". Many Calvinist Churches are therefore just as legalistic as the most Pelagian holiness churches who believe you can lose your salvation over and over again. So all across the board there is this element of fear of Hell that remains. After all, nobody alive has lived their whole life and "persevered till the end". So nobody can even say with absolute certainty that they will die in faith, or even that they really have a true faith to begin with. We all struggle with doubt and unbelief, and ultimately, who can know where you draw the line in not being "saved by faith"?

    In fact, we can see from all of this, that it can be argued that much of Christianity has been but a "redoing of the Old Covenant" as one person on a board which advocates CG and pantelism said. Just look at how for centuries the church has thundered at individuals in their own midst, as well as the world, for their "sins". We still pronounce "curses" on the whole nation for "turning her back on God", with tragic events as the punishment, just like in the Old Testament. Some go as far as positing "generational curses", and and the like. People were judged by the Church for their acts of sin, even moreso than for not believeing in Christ. Of course, what they were trying to emphasize was that people were condemned because of the sins they were committing, and needed to hear this in order to see their need for Christ. But it did not come across this way. So basically, the church in effect lifted the entire Law from the Old Testament (and how many of those old fiery sermons were based on the Old Testament?) and moved it over to the New, only replacing the 7th day Sabbath with Sunday, the Jewish holy days with gentile holidays with Christian meanings pasted over them, and the animal sacrifices with a sinner's prayer, or liturgy, or whatever. But otherwise, it was basically the same system, with all the condemnation and judgment still there. (circumcision and the kosher laws were about the only ones which were replaced with their true spiritual meanings).

    And Hell continues to be depressing. While there are a lot of people who I would like to see judged; still, as the person on the CG forum noted: While it is very hard to imagine the people that have done bad actions here, in heaven, would anyone say that it is more Godly to hope for their demise as opposed to their eventual repentance?. That is what I realize I really want for people who have sinned against me (and supposedly "gotten away with it"), or done things heinous in general. Often, when I would complain about some mistreatment, or unfairness in general, the only consolation I would get from Christians would be the scriptures on the judgment of unrepentant sinners. It was like I was supposed to get some kind of joy at the idea of people's torment in Hell; but I knew this was opposite the attitude of forgiveness that we are supposed to have. I would rather see those people perhaps be made to feel the way I (or their other victims did) for a while; followed by repentance and reconciliation.

    I argued that while it may technically be a work, still according to the Bible's own classification, such "faith" is clearly contrasted with "works" which generally mean physical acts (penance, deeds of the Law, etc). Still their arguments about receiving Christ being a "work" stick. When we evangelize, all the focus is on getting the person to do this one thing: "receive Christ", usually evidenced by some definite "sinner's prayer" or confession. It's this one act that determines salvation, and without it, there is no salvation, even if they were sincerely unconvinced, or even if is because they have never heard of Christ. Calvinism simply said "well, God just doesn't will many people to be in Heaven anyway, so all those people were just 'passed over' to suffer the Hell they 'freely chose' anyway". On the other hand, many, who could not swallow either position, have compromised a bit, at least for those who have not heard. So people such as Billy Graham and several other well known "evangelical" leaders are being frequently criticized by both Calvinists and Arminian revivalistic fundamentslists alike for "no longer saying Christ is necessary for salvation", and while this could be a bit exaggerated, apparently, they have made some sort of allowance for those who have never heard to end up in Heaven.

    Now, enter the Primitive Baptists. They basically are on the side of the Calvinists in the debate, but still, in the one-upmanship fashion common in Christian debates, they criticize Calvinism, even disclaiming the label for themselves often; saying that even Calvinism "still maintains that 1% man's work" in salvation. In other words, even if God grants man the ability to receive Christ, placing salvation on that act of man is still having man doing a "work"! In order for God to truly be "monergistic" (i.e doing ALL the "work"), salvation must be granted to men regardless of their choosing Christ. A person believing in Christ may be an evidence of salvation, but not necessarily.

    According to the Primitives, God is free to save those who have not heard without their having to have heard, been convinced, and "accepted" Christ. The Primitives (and the Pantelists as well) insist that the "faith" that saves in Ephesians 2:8 and elsewhere, is what they call "the faith OF Christ", rather than man's faith 'in' Him. (this would be consistent with the idea expressed by both Calvinists and Primitives that 'faith' itself is the "gift" mentioned in that passage). Even though I argued against all of this on the Predestination page, this did seem to make a lot of sense in a way. For one thing, as Calvinists even acknowledge, our "faith" is often imperfect and weak, So you could wonder how our salvation could be placed on that. (However in the world of mainstream Christianity, especially Calvinism and fundamentalism, with their various "scandalous doctrines", "makes sense" is often like a dirty word.

    Of course, the "scriptures" are those like Acts 16:31 "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved", and 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved", and then of course, the ever familar John 3:16ff. The Primitives as far as I have seen would never really answer this. Yet, they maintain the traditional doctrine of Hell, as well as Calvinistic unconditional election and reprobation, so it ends up that people basically, are randomly assigned to Heaven and Hell despite their profession or lack thereof, of Christ. "Just according to His good mercy", which is the same thing Cavinists constantly reply when asked what makes God choose some and pass by others.
    But one thing I notice, is that Acts 4:12, which is the clearest expression of the exclusivity of Christ, does not say anything about man having to "believe" to receive the benefits of salvation; only that salvation is because of Christ. The other passages do say one must "believe" of course, but they don't exactly say "this applies to every single person from now to eternity". The pantelists could argue that these were written before the destruction of the Temple, which removed the curse of the Law, which is what caused the condemnation in the first place. (For Gentiles sinning without Law, and Jews still sinning even with the Law). Recall, that in all forms of preterism, the "new Covenant" was actually a "transition period" between the Old covenant of the Law, and the full fruition of the New Covenant of Grace. While Christ's death and resurrection opened up salvation to all, it would not be until that last vestige of the Law was removed —the Temple, that salvation would be finally secured. This would explain all those scriptures saying that salvation could be lost; that one could "draw back unto perdition" (which in that case would refer to a Jew or Gentile proselyte renouncing Christ and going back under the Law to appease the Temple system which was persecuting them, which would be a great affront to Christ, hence "trampling on the Blood" in Heb.10:29. Hence the need to "persevere until the end" —the end of the covenent, to be saved!) This seems the only way to harmonize this apparently conflicting "eternal security" debate. Eternal security purely by grace and nothing we did is what Christ ultimately promised, but those in the "transition period" (especially those to whom "much was given" in that they saw Christ and His works, and His works continued by the apostles) had to persevere in good works to be saved. Afterwards, all of that would be settled for good.

    All of this seems to explain so much, as we see so many things fitting together under this theory. It provides a [biblical] "covenental framework" for a universal or near universal salvation (or any salvation outside a personal belief in Christ); where other attempts, such as Unitarian-Universalism, Armstrongism, and the compromise of some new-evangelicals do not. The big difference from those views is that this view would still maintain that Christ alone saves: "no other name under heaven". Unlike those views, man is not saved by his good works, or other gods, leaders, religions, or even by "sincerity" and helplessness (i.e. couldn't help being born a sinner, so he is not at fault; didn't hear about Christ, so God cannot judge, etc), or sentiments about God, such as "a loving God would not damn any of His children to Hell", "that would not be fair", etc. Salvation would still be purely because of Christ, whether the person knows it or not, and in spite of themselves. "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their tresspasses unto them, and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation".
    So CG does remove the fear. And another great support is the scriptures which say "there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18). But there are so many other scriptures which speak of "fear of God", or even "saving them with fear". Of course, most of these are interpreted as referring to the first century only, when the world of Israel stood under the judgment of AD70. In fact, "salvation" seems to refer to the destruction of AD70 more than any judgment in the afterlife! Still, as far as this departs from "traditional orthodoxy", I of course remain reluctant to embrace it. There are still several unresolved questions that need to be addressed before accepting something as radical as this.

    So what does everyone think? Especially the preterists here.

    [ December 07, 2005, 02:58 PM: Message edited by: Eric B ]
     
  3. BobRyan

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    Which is still the error of universalism.

    The problem is "not" that we are "unwilling to forgive" since "we" don't send people to hell to begin with.

    The problem is that the Bible does not describe universalism as the future. IF indeed universalism IS the future then God is guilty of scare tactics, falsehood and other misdemeanors. Who could then "trust" the Word of Scripture?

    That would be the "real problem".

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  4. Jo$h

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    Eric B,

    After I became a preterist there was a period of time I considered universalism also. Because of the preterist hermenutic there are passages that can appear to be supporting universalism or comprehensive grace. Sometimes in accepting preterism there is a tendency to go outside of orthodoxy on all views and begin to reinterpret passages accordingly. Here are some preterists sites that would hold to a view of eternal punishment for the lost and their explanation of universalism.

    http://www.bereanbiblechurch.org/transcripts/colossians/1_20.htm
    http://www.newjerusalemcommunity.com/articles/271/1/Universalism-and-Preterism%3A-Bedfellows-or-Bedlam%3F
     
  5. Eric B

    Eric B
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    Well, the theory I am discussing is not based on most of the scriptures those sites are addressing.
    And remember, the key point in the matter is: "If all of the Bible's prophecy was about Israel only, then so is all of its pronouncements of judgment; including for unbelief!"
    So even though the CG advocates I spoke with confessed "universalism", I would say it would not be exactly true (If CG is true), because those who perished back then were said to suffer eternal death. (The CG people could never explain those scriptures, but insisted they would still end up in Heaven; perhaps after some period of retribution, or whatever).

    (Also, Bob, you have to understand this in the context of preterism, which says "the future" only referred to that generation. It would have been a real promise of judgment to those people, and not an empty scare tactic. If ths sytem is true, then it was the later Church that was guity of such "scare tactics". Also, another problem for this along with all forms of preterism that still stands is how the Church lost this "truth" so quickly anyhow).
     
  6. Grasshopper

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    Sorry so late, internet problems.

    I reject #1 and #2. I would still hold to the ridiculous figurative meaning.
    Now as for #3 let me first say I reject universalism and would leave preterism before adopting that view. Here is a good article on this very topic: (you might have to register first?)

    http://planetpreterist.com/news-2625.html

    You do bring out some very good points that I have been struggling with as I am one who is more Reformed in my thinking. How far do we take the promises made to Israel? Is eschatology truly covenantal in nature and is it the eschaton of Old Covenant Israel?

    Jer 31:31 Behold, the days come, says Jehovah, that I will cut a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah,
    Jer 31:32 not according to the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which covenant of Mine they broke, although I was a husband to them, says Jehovah;
    Jer 31:33 but this shall be the covenant that I will cut with the house of Israel: After those days, says Jehovah, I will put My Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

    So does Jer 31 apply to us today or was it strictly for the House of Israel? Are we under the New Covenant? Clearly it had a 1st century fulfillment, but does it go beyond that?

    Heb 8:9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day I took hold of their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt," because they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not regard them, says the Lord.
    Heb 8:10 "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My Laws into their mind and write them in their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

    When Jesus instituted the New Covenant was that for us? Why does the modern Church observe the “Lord’s Supper” if the New Covenant was not for us?

    I still believe we are the recipients of the New Covenant and those promises did apply to the house of Israel and do now apply to us. However these are very important questions that need to be addressed. I’m just not smart enough to figure it out.

    Another point, clearly Jesus did abolish spiritual death:

    2Ti 1:10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

    Since people still physically die then we know he is not speaking of physical death. So does it mean that spiritual death is abolished for all? I would tend to believe it is for only those in Christ. Those outside of Christ still suffer the consequences of Adam’s Fall.(Spiritual separation/death).

    Again, I am in over my head on this at this time, but I will watch this thread with interest and see where it goes.
     
  7. eschatologist

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    I am a preterist as well and will soon too enter the fray. Eschatology is a great subject, yet NOT for the narrow minded! I will be back soon(and I do mean 'soon' and not 1000 years!!!).
     
  8. Eric B

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    Any particular reason why? I've read Dave Green's response to #1, but it didn't say much. He argued that this would "remove the Kingdom from earth when the Kingdom is to endure on earth forever". But that is not true, as the Kingdom would still continue on earth; it's only the saints from that era who are "removed" to "reign over" the world with Christ, as the scriptures tell us. It's no different from the Preterists' belief that our "reign" with Him continues after we die and go to Heaven! (He must not have understood the position fully, then).
    Green himself was the one who suggested #2, and I have never seen anyone else address that.

    Maybe I'll get to that in the coming week. I hate having to register just to read something, and I'm not planning to join the discussion, but whatever.
    But once again, keep in mind, that I don't believe it's really total universalism, (even though its advocates say it is), because those who rejected and perished back then were eternally lost. One of the Reformed movement's biggest mistakes (including its preterists such as Green) was taking Romans 9 as a discussion on why the entire world outside of Christ is lost, rather than seeing its context as applying specifically to Israel (v.3, 4, and this whether CG is true or not). So those people back then were the "vessels of wrath".
    I forgot to mention the significant point you bring up here, and that the pantelists (at least the ones I've spoken to) do insist that even the New Covenant has ended, which preterists reject. I wasn't thinking in terms of that, but to me, as far as the discussion goes, it is a semantical issue. What is sure is that the Old Covenant has ended, but the question that remains, is in the NT, were they under a "transitional period" between the two covenants, and if so, what would the end of this transition mean for the world? (I guess then, if they see the NC as ending, then there was no "transition" between old and new, but still, the New can be seen as the "transition" to whatever they see us as in now).
    The point would be that all would have been unconditionally, sovereignly placed under Christ. The only ones "outside of Christ" would be those who rejected Him back then.
     
  9. Eric B

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  10. hillclimber

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  11. Eric B

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    :confused: :confused: :confused:
    What does that verse have to do with this?
     
  12. hillclimber

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    Absolutely nothing, wrong verse.
     
  13. Eric B

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