My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

24 December 2006

Creeds vs. Hyper-preterism

A comment in a post below contains a somewhat-common sentiment - Why use creeds to determine orthodoxy? Why not just use Scripture? In response to that question, and to encourage all of us toward more submission to the creeds, I'd like to line out for some of the arguments given by Doug Wilson in his chapter "Sola Scriptura, Creeds, and Ecclesiastical Authority" in When Shall These Things Be? (side note: despite some recent controversy, Wilson does support and submit to the church's creeds and offers clear thinking on the issue ...and this chapter has nothing to do with the federal vision controversy.) The length of this post reflects on the importance I place on this subject.
  • The debate between the church and hyper-preterists isn't really about the timing of eschatological events; people within orthodoxy debate those things all the time. Rather, the debate is over things the church has settled a long time ago, especially the resurrection of the dead. The debate hinges on the question of authority.
  • If the hyper-preterists are right, then the church has been wrong for a very, very long time on some very, very important issues. This means that the HPists must have for their goal the restoration of some purer form of the church than has existed for two millennia. If this sounds familiar, it's because this is the same thinking ("arch-restorationism") behind Mormonism, who take the idea of restoring the true church to an extreme.
  • Wilson argues well that many semi-restorationists have been and are orthodox; the Church of Christ (Campbellites) would fall into this category. But they are orthodox through inertia, because they have inherited from the saints before them creedal Trinitarianism and creedal Christology, even though they would never admit it.
  • The response from HPsts is "Sola Scriptura! We must submit to Scripture, even if it means calling 2000 years and millions of saints dead wrong in what they believe." Wilson: "But the definition of Scripture itself is a creedal issue, and if one is consistent in a disparagement of the creeds, he finds that 'just me and my Bible' is soon replaced by 'just me.'"
  • The enemies of creeds love to proclaim their dependence on Scripture. But how do they know what Scripture is? How do you know what books to include and Scripture and which are apocryphal? They know because the church has defined the canon through her creeds! "...restorationists of all stripes have no foundation for their appeals, and hence their appeals are consistently parasitic. They get their Bible from the historic church, and then use it to attack the historic church. Another name for this is sawing off the limb you are sitting on." Later: "If everything in the creeds is up for grabs, then sola Scriptura is up for grabs."
  • Some view creeds as helpful tools without any real authority, preferring to stick with Sola Scriptura. (Ed Stevens, a prominent HPist, wrote that creeds have "no real authority anyway.") The problem: even sola Scriptura is a creed. The second problem - they don't understand what sola Scriptura really means. "Sola Scriptura, rightly understood, means that Scripture is our only spiritual authority that is ultimate and infallible. Other spiritual authorities exist and have genuine authority over us." All the great theologians you love viewed church tradition, as encapsulated in creeds, as a "subordinate norm" or a lesser, but very real, authority. To fight Rome, the Reformers went back to the creeds, to the church fathers, as well as to Scripture. Go page through the Institutes and see how often Calvin is quoting someone with an odd Greek name.
  • Though the church has never totally agreed on eschatology, she has always agreed on this one point of eschatology, that Christ is returning in the future to judge the quick and the dead and to raise the dead to life. "In short, the only eschatological position that the universal church has been able to agree on thus far is that hyper-preterism is wrong."
  • It follows, "authority need not be infallible." Example 1 - parents' authority over children. Example 2 - the church over the flock. The creeds (namely, Apostles', Nicene, and Chalcedonian) are the height of the church's real-but-fallible authority. If the fallibility of the church presents a problem for you submitting to her creedal authority, realize that she is also the pillar and ground of the truth - capable of error, but also enabled by God to be the guardian of His truth. Or else your kids don't have to submit to your fallible authority anymore...
  • Flippantly dismissing the creeds' authority shows a lack of historical humility, something vital whenever considering important doctrines.
  • Sola Scriptura was never meant as a license for each individual to come up with their own interpretation of Scripture for themselves - though, judging from the American church, that is precisely what has happened. Needed: a balance between overly-individualistic interpretation of Scripture and overly-heirarchical interpretation of Scripture. "Balance" itself is usually something rejected by those pushing an aberrant exegetical agenda.
  • Scripture was given to the church as a whole, not only individuals - "orthodox creeds, councils, theologians, and individual layment line up against their heretical counterparts...the Word of God is given to us so that we might come to confess it together."
  • In some corners of the church, anti-intellectualism still reigns - look for those who proudly claim to be a "layman with no formal seminary education." This is a good thing?? Of course we don't believe that seminary education renders one infallible or necessarily more capable. But there is a reason the church has valued the training of her pastors for centuries - because when unsubmissive men with little exegetical skills study God's Word apart from the historic teachings of the church, very bad things happen (see: Jehovah's Witnesses).
  • Also, be wary of those who want a "New Testament church" - rather, view the New Testament church as the New Testament does, as "an historical phenomenon, one that was intended to develop over time...into greater and greater maturity..." Remember the gifts Christ gave to the church (Eph. 4:11-16), gifts intended to make the church able to grow. And though the church isn't perfected by any means, there have been great points of catholic like-mindedness, teachings of Scripture which everyone in the church got behind - for one, the coming return of Jesus Christ. For two, the idea of sola Scriptura (which is, to repeat, a creed itself).
  • To those who would call for us to show more charity to HPists, to spend more time in debate, etc., we only need to remember that loving the sheep means fighting wolves. If we're not sure if someone is a wolf or not, we extend charity until we're sure one way or the other; but if they growl and devour the sheep like wolves (my, what big anti-resurrection teeth you have!), we don't wait around for our asssumptions of their wolfiness to be confirmed.
  • Charge: Adherence to creeds is inherently Romanist (oh snap! he said "romanist") because it gives authority to infallible men. Response #1: The HPsts are closer to Rome because they believe "that there can be no church authority without church infallibility. Rome agrees with this fully." Response #2 - HPists maintain the church cannot speak authoritatively unless she speaks infallibly; apply this to marriage and see how your wives start acting. Response #3 - The HPist himself must submit his own "readings" of Scripture under this charge; is he infallible? If not, then he ought to toss his writings into the fire along with the creeds!
  • Charge: The creeds were "Hellenistic" and therefore their relevancy is bound to that culture. Response - rather, the Nicene and Chalcedonian creeds stood strongly against any who would make accommodations to Hellenism, strongly supporting the real, corporeal body of Jesus Christ (a totally anti-Hellenistic idea). The creeds were used by God to keep Hellenism at bay.
  • Charge: Adherence to creeds keeps folks from really examining any theology which contradicts them. Response #1 - great! This is what they're for, to "help many laymen recognize faulty theology when they do not have time to study everything for themselves." Response #2 - The truths of the creeds are "theological prerequisites. A student is not going to get on very well in fifth grade if he has to restudy and reexamine everything he learned in first grade." Assumption of truth gets us going somewhere! Rejection of it, contra HPist rhetoric, is boring and stagnant. [I.e., there is no semper reformanda apart from the creeds. The church is progressed and beautified when she stands upon the foundation of the forefathers, not when she forgets how to speak and babbles like an infant again.]
  • What to do with HPists? If they are teachers of HPism, they are wolves and must be treated as such. And the church's shepherds must name them for what they are. If the HPists in question are followers but not teachers, "we must...grab them by their baptism." We must exhort them to repent of their beliefs and be faithful.
  • "If we are headstrong and unwilling to study the faith of our fathers carefully, then we are headed for trouble. If we insist on individual 'veto power' over all the creeds of men, we have not successfully gotten away from all man-made creeds. We have simply submitted to the creed of one, a creed that is often composed on the fly...which conveniently leaves me by myself, in charge of myself."
We ought to be thankful to God for the creeds of the church; we ought to know them, measure our beliefs by them, measure our teachers by them - not as a denial of sola Scriptura, but as the only real way of holding to sola Scriptura faithfully.


Kurt said...

I wish I had the time and wherewithal to respond.

For the time being, I'll just say that if I had to choose one's view of orthodoxy, I'd kinda have to go with J. Gresham Machen's over Doug Wilson's....even though I admire Jared's extreme graciousness and magnamity in not holding Doug Wilson's views in other areas against him when writing on the issue of orthodoxy. :>)

Kurt said...

On second thought, while we can flounder upon the rocks of periphery issues such as should we begin with the Creeds or Scripture, let's cut to the chase and take a brief look at what the Gospels & our Lord teach about His Second Coming.

Here is a summary as outlined on pages 139 & 140 (described in great detail and exegesis from pp. 13-140) of James Stuart Russell's The Parousia: The New Testament Doctrine of Christ's Second Coming:

1. We have the link between Old and New Testament prophecy in the announcement by John the Baptist (The Elijah of Malachi) of the near approach of the coming wrath, or judgment of the Theocratic nation.

2. The herald is closely followed by the King, who announces that the kingdom of God is at hand, and calls upon the nation to repent.

3. The cities which are favored with the presence, but reject the message, of Christ are threatened with a doom more intolerable than that of Sodom and Gomorrha.

4. Our Lord expressly assures His disciples that His coming would take place before they should have completed the evangelization of the cities of Israel.

5. He predicts a judgment at the "end of the age" or aeon, a phrase that does not mean the destruction of the earth, but the consummation of the age, i.e. the Jewish dispensation.

6. Our Lord expressly declares that He would speedily come in glory, in His kingdom, with His angels, and that some among His disciples should not die until His coming took place.

7. In various parables and discourses our Lord predicts the doom impending over Israel at the period of His coming. (See Luke 28: parable of the importunate widow, Luke 29: parable of the pounds, Matt 21: parable of the wicked husbandmen, Matt 22: parable of the marriage feast).

8. Our Lord frequently denounces the wickedness of the generation to which He preached, and declares that the crimes of former ages, and the blood of the prophets would be required at their hands.

9. The resurrection of the dead, the judgment of the world, and the casting out of Satan are represented as co-incident with the Parousia (2nd coming), and near at hand.

10. Our Lord assured His disciples that He would come again to them, and that His coming would be in 'a little while.'

11. The prophecy on the Mount of Olives is one connected and continuous discourse, having exclusive reference to the approaching doom of Jerusalem and Israel, according to our Lord's express statement (Matt 24:34,Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32).

12. The parables of the ten virgins, the talents, and the sheep and goats all belong to this same event, and are fulfilled in the judgment of Israel.

13. The disciples are exhorted to watch and pray, and to live in the continual expectation of the Parousia (2nd coming), because it will be sudden and speedy.

14. After His resurrection, our Lord gave St. John reason to expect that He would live to witness His coming.

Just click my name at the beginning of my comments to visit the online version of The Parousia.

Dee Dee Warren said...

Awesome post Jared, I wil be putting a link to it on my blog

Jeff Kessler said...


You should probably read everything Machen has on the subject of creeds and confessions. A guy who names his seminary "Westminster" is probably not too down on creeds. Read his book "Christianity and Liberalism". This quote is from that book: "The Unitarian Church is frankly and honestly just the kind of church that the liberal preacher desires-namely, a church without an authoratative Bible, without doctrinal requirements, and without a creed."

All of Jared's post is excellent on creeds and confessions. I would add the following works to consider: "Sola Scriptura" by Keith Mathison and "Foundations of Social Order: A study on the councils and creeds of the early church" by R J Rushdoony.

Partial (or orthodox) preterism can answer all of the questions/ideas that you mention above (w/ the notable exception of #9) w/out being anti-creedal or doing damage to Acts 1:11. The key: there are diff. comings in the Bible...not all are physical, but are comings of judgement. Dispensational theology thinks all "comings" are yet future and in my opinion is almost as bad as full preterism. Full preterism thinks everything is over and misses the second physical coming (Acts 1:11) and the bodily res. This is the comeing Jesus is teaching when He tells us to observe the Lord's Supper till He comes.

Kurt: I would be very careful about the way you talk about full-preterism. It seems that you are promoting the idea and not just asking questions on a public forum. At the very least, I think humility would require a long (months, perhaps even years) period of time of study and prayer before promoteing any idea that is opposed to all the creeds and confessions of the church as well as against what all the elders of your church would tell you is unbiblical. Giving you this advice is diff. than telling you to quit thinking.

Often it seems, that when trying to correct an error in the church, part of the church swings too far the other way. There is no doubt that dispenstionalism is a serious error. I've said (perhaps even on Jared's blog) that disp. is the most serious error of the last 200 years in Christian theology among those who are truly Christian (as opposed to errors of cults or liberals). However, swinging to full-preterism--denying the future physical coming of Jesus, and the bodily res. of the saints--is going too far the other direction and an even more serious error.

Jeff Kessler

Kurt said...


I'm sorry now that I missed your 2nd hour series on Revelation. I would have loved to see how you dealt with our Lord's view of His Second Coming in the Gospels and how it ties in with Revelation, especially a point by point repudiation of Russell's book, including how Scripture unequivocally exegetes a physical return of Christ, including why it is necessary.

That is the kind of interaction that would be helpful in getting to the truth of the matter.

Jeff Kessler said...

In my comments above, I mention that partial preterism can answer all Kurt's ideas "with the notable exception of #9". I probably should include #12 as well.

#9 actually mentions three events. The last of these events (the casting out of Satan) did happen during the earthly ministry of Christ...or during the judgement of 70AD, and is probably related to Satan being bound (Rev.20:1-3). This however, should not be confused with Satan being cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10), which seems to be an event reserved for the last day judgement and yet future.

Jeff K

Jared said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jared said...

I'm on vacation and my time with computers is short...but I just want to point out to Kurt that, rather than deal with the arguments I've laid out in my post, you keep trying to move the discussion around to suit your tastes. That is, since you asked "Why use creeds?", I answered - because I believe it's an incredibly important topic.

Rather than take my answers seriously and deal with them, you reject them out of hand and continue to shift the discussion. [Questions about Scripture and the creed are not periphery! They are absolutely central to dealing with this heresy.] This isn't to say there aren't answers to your questions (Jeff K. would be the answer man for this arena), but to encourage you to be intellectually honest with my arguments.

Kurt said...


I regret that you feel that I didn't take your answers from Doug Wilson seriously about the creeds and Scripture. I've always been a kinda "meat and potatoes" man and like to get to the bottom-line: It's really all about what Scripture says, not what the Creeds say. Don't get me wrong - tradition and men's writings are important - but they are not the final standard. I hope you can see my point in wanting to get the crux of the matter. Please forgive me for not previously staying on track. My, how did we get all the way out here, when we simply started out by you wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! :>)

Jared said...

Kurt, your comments do get us back to the point of the post, which I'd still like you to wrestle with: creeds do matter and are part of the crux of the issue. Wilson's writings point out at least two errors here:

First, you have no Scripture without creeds. That is, the reason you know which 66 books are Scripture are not because God has revealed that in Scripture, but because the church has defined them through creeds.

Second, by claiming to want to get to the "crux" of the issue by resorting only to Scripture and evading the authority of the creeds, you (and many others) would pull the church back to infancy rather than progress in her maturity. That is, your plan ("let's just go to Scripture") isn't "meat and potatoes" as much as it is "baby formula and mushed carrots."

Kurt said...

"First, you have no Scripture without creeds. That is, the reason you know which 66 books are Scripture are not because God has revealed that in Scripture, but because the church has defined them through creeds."

Wow. Jared are you really saying that the creeds determined what 66 books should be Scripture? I'd like chapter and verse in church history on that!

My understanding was no human declaration of any kind determined the canon, but because of their constant use throughout the first couple of centuries by the body of Christ, we came to understand them as Scripture by the fruits of their usage, not a declaration by creeds, councils, or pope.

Kurt said...

For those of you who would like an analysis of the state of reforming going on in our contemporary Calvinist community, James B. Jordan's article "The Closing of the Calvinistic Mind"  is a must read.

Barry York said...

Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Jared, and I hope you don't mind a longer post for the sake of perhaps helping Kurt.

HPs err the same way the dispensationalist does, just in the opposite direction. The dispensationalist reads every coming of the Lord as future to us; the HP reads every coming as past to us. The greater problem with the HP is that he has to deny the resurrection to uphold his wooden method of interpretation, and when pressed to explain what happens after death for the post-70 A.D. believer they teach the Gnostic heresy of the replacement of the body. This makes them far more dangerous than a dispensationalist, taking the idea of "Left Behind" to heretical heights.

To support your post and to help shed light on the exegetical problem of HPs (here I now quote from some of my previous writing), note the Westminster Confession speaks of two PHYSICAL, REDEMPTIVE appearances of the Lord, which are 1) His incarnation and 2) His future return in judgment at the end of the world (which they did hold to, as seen in Chapter 33 of WCF and Question 56 of the Larger Catechism). Yet this does not rule out other ways the Lord can come to His people or on behalf of the people. Matter of fact, besides His PHYSICAL, REDEMPTIVE comings, can we even number His comings because there are so many ways the Lord can come to His people? For instance, He said He would come through the presence of the Holy Spirit given to the church (John 14:16-18). The Lord came to the Apostle Paul at His trial before the council (Acts 23:11). His coming in destruction of Jerusalem was not a physical coming, but His sending the armies of Rome in destruction upon the Old Covenant people (The language He uses to describe this is perfectly consistent with Old Testament prophecies when it would speak of His day of coming on apostate people through the sending of foreign armies). He promised to come to the church at Laodicea in blessing if she would be zealous and repent (Revelation 3:19-20). The Word of God promises the Lord will come to believers in times of distress (Psalm 23:4). Jesus announced that His kingdom had come and was at hand (Mark 1:15), yet He also told us to pray that it would come in fuller manifestation and power (Matthew 6:10). And He promised He would come in the final resurrection and judgment of the world (John 5:28-29). None of these are inconsistent with the teachings of the Confession of Faith. Yet full or hyper preterism must deny chapter 33 of the WCF.

Kurt, that is why I have Russell's Parousia on my shelf with "Heresy - Research Purposes Only" written on the front and back cover.

Jared said...

Barry, thanks for the great comment. I trust readers will take it to heart.

Kurt, in response to your question, allow me to clarify - it is the life and practice of the church that slowly developed the lines around the canon as we have it now. But the authoritative declaration of what's included in the canon and what's not doesn't come from each believer himself or herself - rather, the church made clear authoritatively what the church had come to know practically.

In 367 AD Athanasius wrote in a letter the first recorded list of the canon as we have it now. His list was affirmed by a council in Rome in 382.

Further, we being in a confessional church also have the Westminster Confession, which wisely lines out for us exactly what is and what isn't Scripture.

My point is this: if you don't have the creeds, councils and confessions authoritatively stating what belongs in the canon, then you have no way of guarding against canonical interference today. That is, I could spend some time reading Esdras and decide that it should be in the canon. I could probably rally some support for that idea historically and claim that it was used powerfully in my life. If all you have is the church's "experience", then you can't really tell me that my book isn't in the canon too - after all, I have experience as well. Therefore, God led the church through councils and creeds to define the canon against attackers.

Kurt, Please understand that I am not afraid of dealing with the heresy of HPism exegetically from Scripture (take to heart Barry's and Jeff's comments above!). But *this* post is about the creeds and the authority of the church to define orthodoxy and from what you've written it seems to me that you haven't yet really dealt with that issue.

This is why your desire to deal with "meat and potatoes" is really baby food - not because Scripture is baby food, but abandoning 2 millennia of the church's exegesis on Scripture and the church's creedal authority would only mean resorting to a childlike definition of truth...whatever I can come up with from Scripture must be true. So there. :)

Kurt said...

Thanks for your clarification, Jared. So, after two thousand years, we Christians have finally got it right! :>)

So, please tell me, what does it mean, then, "Reformed, and ever reforming?" (Remember, I'm still relatively new to the reformed faith). Does it mean "ever reforming (as laity) to meet the Church's (and you do mean "church clerics'" by your implication) exegesis on Scripture, considering that laity reading of Scripture is a "resorting to a childlike definition of truth?"

Note: It's interesting that Luther's superiors in the Roman Church laughed at his notion of laity reading the Word and coming to an understanding of it, without "proper interpretation" by "the Church" (i.e. Church clerics), and that Luther, alone, claimed to have the truth in direct opposition to the Church's position.


Kurt said...

Bary York said, "Kurt, that is why I have Russell's Parousia on my shelf with "Heresy - Research Purposes Only" written on the front and back cover."

Barry, I guess R.C. Sproul has a little different take on this book than you do as he says, "I believe that Russell's work is one of the MOST important treatments on eschatology that is available to the church today" (emphasis mine).

Jared said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jared said...

Always reforming means the church is always seeking to come into greater faithfulness to the Word of God. But if we abandon the creeds and the if we abandon church history, we're assuming outright that those who went before us didn't get it right. Instead of standing where we are in church history and progressing forward, we're like folks who should be sophomores in college wanting to go back to kindergarden because we're not sure they taught us how to read right.

What "semper reformanda" doesn't mean: "no book but the Bible, no creed but Christ", every man for himself, holed up in his shed determining for himself what truth is apart from any reference to the church or her very real authority. I know this sounds like "Rome" to you, but to me it sounds like Biblical ecclesiology. God gave preachers and teachers to the church for a reason, because she needs them.

This isn't a denial of the priesthood of believers or the importance of personal Bible reading. Rather, it's a call to live in the church according to Scripture - to submit to our elders as they rule over us with a God-given authority, to fight to keep the faith once delivered rather than abandon it to chase a resurrection-denying fad.

And while we're here, let me point out again that it seems you either haven't or you're refusing to deal with the thorough arguments given in the post.

Barry York said...

Kurt - I readily grant R.C Sproul can trump me on most any issue. However, his comment on Russell's cover is unfortunate, as are DeMar and Gentry's. In light of the subsequent rise of Hyper-Preterism, Gentry at least has acknowledged his regret in not being stronger with his statement on the cover about "not agreeing with all the conclusions" of Russell's book. These men have also gone on and clearly identified HP as heresy. So please do not be misled in thinking they support this teaching.

Kurt said...

Jared said, "But if we abandon the creeds..."

Jared, no one ever said, that I'm aware of, including myself, to "abandon the creeds." We have just said that we can't treat the creeds as The Standard. The creeds can be fallible, but Scripture can not. Not to be able to question the creeds and possibly find them wanting in an area or too, seems to be your implication. I'll stand by your right to support the creeds as important, but in conscience, I can't say that they have the same authority or supercede Scripture.

Jared said, "But the authoritative declaration of what's included in the canon and what's not doesn't come from each believer himself or herself - rather, the church made clear authoritatively what the church had come to know practically."

Jared, declaring it so did not make it the reality. The use of it by the believers did that. I think you put too much emphasis on this. The fact that we have had the 66 books since the beginning of early church attests to their usage and acceptance by the body, not church leader's declaration. If the "church leaders" didn't have the support of the "body," it wouldn't have gone over. It started with individual believers ended with the "formal" declaration, just as the the "body" decided who elders were to be in the local assembly, and merely "confirmed" by the Apostles because it was due to their fruits and the people accepted it. You see it is "laity"-driven, not "clergy"-driven. The era of the divine-right of kings and popes is over. :>)

Kurt said...


Since it is hard to judge men's motives and we know how peer pressure can affect us, I think I'll have to go with Sproul's,DeMar's and Gentry's comments on the book cover. Beside, DeMar still carries the book on his website and offers the following review:

By James Stuart Russell

This book written in 1878, is the most popular introduction to and defense of the preterist view of Bible prophecy in print today. Most theologians in Europe a century ago took a preterist approach, so it is not surprising to read some of Russell's well-known contemporaries say nice things about his book. Charles H. Spurgeon, who did not hold to the preterist view, stated that the book "...throws so much new light upon obscure portions of the Scriptures, and is accompanied with so much critical research and close reasoning that it can be injurious to none and may be profitable to all." Dr. R.C. Sproul (Ligonier Ministries) states, "I believe that Rusell's work is one of the most important treatments on Biblical eschatology that is availbable to the church today." Gary DeMar says that Russell's book is a breath of fresh air in a room filled with smoke and mirror hermeneutics.

Barry York said...


Because I wanted to be careful not to put words into his mouth, I wrote Gary DeMar to tell him some took his endorsement of Russell's book to suggest he endorsed Full or Hyper Preterism (HP) and asked him what his position was. Below is his response. Also, the first article below shows he clearly separates himself from it, and the second by Mathison supports well Jared's thesis of how HP denies basic theology crucial to the gospel that has been held by the church in her historic creeds.

E-mail from DeMar:


Thanks for writing. I do not take a HP position, and anyone who positions me as a HP knows better. What “people” are you referring to? Russell’s book is helpful, although I’m not sure that I’ve ever quoted him.

Gary DeMar

Kurt said...


I've never, nor has anyone else that I know of, said that Gary DeMar was a Preterist. The point is that he hasn't "gone on and clearly identified HP as heresy" as you previously stated. I'd love to see you get a statement from him on that! :>)

Kurt said...


I saved you the trouble.

Here is Gary DeMar's email response to my inquiry:

"As far as I know, I have
never said that FP is heresy. I don't use the word lightly. I've said that FP have asked some good questions that need an answer. Calling them heretics does not settle the issue for lots of people who are not creedal.

Gary DeMar

Jared said...


Re: I would argue that the HPists do indeed want to abandon the creeds. Not in toto, of course, but they simply want to keep them around as nice study aids. Problem is, creeds are creeds because they carry authority - strip them of their authority to define the bounds of orthodoxy and all you have is another piece of paper, with the same authority and weight as anything anyone else would write. In this way, HPists do indeed want to abandon the creeds.

I've never once said that creeds supercede or match Scripture's authority. What I keep trying to do is simply to show that the creeds have real authority which the HPists deny. DeMar's comment is telling - that "calling them heretics does not settle the issue for lots of people who are not creedal." Fact is, we (you included) are creedal. We are a confessional church and that means real things for the life of the church, including a submission to the historic standards of orthodoxy. If you want to live outside the bounds of the creeds' and confession's authority, then you also ought to be prepared for our wives and children to continuously question our "infallible authority."

I can probably speak for Barry in this as well - we don't use the word "heretic" lightly either. But I am definitely willing to use it for those who deny the resurrection of the body, one of the central promises of the gospel.

I cannot stress strongly enough how egregious it is to so flippantly and pridefully set aside the bounds of orthodoxy Christ's church has always maintained simply because "we've finally figured out the truth about 70 AD - truth that those living at that time never knew."

Kurt said...

Jared said, "I can probably speak for Barry in this as well - we don't use the word "heretic" lightly either. But I am definitely willing to use it for those who deny the resurrection of the body, one of the central promises of the gospel."

Let's be clear about this. Here's my understanding: It has historically been a sign of "heresy" from almost all Christian perspectives whenever a person claiming to be Christian denied the Resurrection -- but, the Resurrection that was always in focus of that denial was the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, not the Resurrection of Believers. I don't know any Preterists (except perhaps John McPherson) that denies Jesus was Resurrected bodily. Nor are there any preterists that deny the believers' resurrection.

This is where the accusers are able to make their readers think Preterists are heretics, because they know that historically denying the Resurrection is heresy -- except they don't realize it was a denial of Jesus' bodily Resurrection that made one a heretic. The form of the believers' resurrection has always been debatable.

An excellent discourse on the subject of the resurrection is in Murray J. Harris' book From Grave to Glory: Resurrection in the New Testament Including a Response to Norman J. Geisler.

Jared said...

Kurt, if I had meant to speak of Jesus' resurrection, I would have said so. My language of "the resurrection of the body" is lifted directly from the Apostles' Creed and refers specifically to the resurrection of the bodies of believers, not to Christ's resurrection (referenced in the creed several lines before). So my previous comments stand as posted.

Kurt said...

Jared, can you suggest some scholarly works that give a historical account of the formulation of the Apostles' Creed?

Thanks in advance.

Jared said...

My first suggestion would be Credo by Jaroslav Pelikan. Then probably Schaff's three-volume work on the creeds (though I don't have access to that one yet).

Kurt said...

Thanks, Jared. But, they are a little pricy for me right now.

A question I'm pondering...Does the word "body" in Apostles Creed mean that our "flesh and blood" bodies rise from the dead at the resurrection? And if not, then it wouldn't be a "physical" rise from the ground/graves, would it?

Jared said...

Yes, "body" specifically refers to our own flesh and blood bodies, made perfect (like Christ's - Philippians 3:21), all glorified-like.

Kurt said...

Jared said..."Yes, 'body' specifically refers to our own flesh and blood bodies, made perfect (like Christ's - Philippians 3:21), all glorified-like."

Wait a minute...

Didn't Paul say that "flesh and blood" can not inherit the Kingdom of God? Doesn't Scripture also say that it is appointed unto man once to die, and then the Judgement? But, didn't Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, only for him to die again? Wasn't there also a resurrection of the dead at the time of Jesus' crucifixion, and then all eventually died again a second time? Didn't Paul say that those who are alive (and that would have to be quite a few!) at the Second Coming would not taste death, but be instantly changed and meet the Lord in the air?

I'm confused. Doesn't sound like it could be "our own flesh and blood bodies" at the Resurrection as you say. :>)

Jared said...

Kurt, please know that I'm not ignoring your last comment. I'd like to give it some good study, so I'll probably post on it in the future. -Jared

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