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When Shall These Things Be?: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism Paperback – February 20, 2004
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About the Author
Mathison received a B.A. in Christianity and political science from Houston Baptist University and then studied at Dallas Theological Seminary for two years before completing his M.A. in theological studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He earned a PhD in Christian thought from Whitefield Theological Seminary. He is director of curriculum development for Ligonier Ministries.
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Overall, orthodox preterists still have more exegetical and hermeneutical work to do to tie things up a bit more neatly, but this book is a good starting point for people who are finding themselves tempted by the quasi-Gnostic, neo-Hymenaean, anti-authoritarian, hyper-spiritualizing, history-ignoring gangrene which is hyperpreterism and all of its attendant bleak outlooks on the (lack of) this world's redemptive future.
Lord protect your Church from such grave error, as you have for ages (contra restorationist claims). Amen.
I simply wanted to offer a very brief summary of what I learned from this book.
It seems clear to me that the bodily, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most emphasized doctrines of Scripture, and in fact, is one of the best attested facts in ancient history (see The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach ). He rose visibly and physically, he appeared visibly and physcially to his disciples, and he ascended into the sky visiby and physically.
Therefore, any eschatological system, like hyper-preterism, that denies the physical, bodily resurrection of Christ, and the ensuing physical, bodily resurrection of the saints on the last day, seems to me to be a denial of Scripture and of history.
But more importantly, if I am living in the resurrection, the New Jerusalem, the consummated kingdom right now! then what is there to hope for? I want to live eternally with a body. I want to see Jesus face to face, man to man. I long for that. And thus, hyper-preterism leaves me very cold.
This book may be a bit scattered in its opinions, and certainly inconsistent at times. But it does show that hyper-preterism is not as clear, undeniable, and irrefutable as hyper-preterists like to think it is. There are lots of ways to look at Christian eschatology, and they can't all be right. But the one that denies the physical, bodily resurrection of Christ and his saints is certainly wrong.
One need only peruse some of the one-star reviews of this book to know that hyperpreterists are nothing if not passionate about their theories. While there are certainly some who have become arrogant cultists, many if not most I suspect can still be reached, as the careers of Roderick Edwards and Todd Dennis show. But if they are reached, I don't think it is going to be by this book. Why? Because pointing to the creeds is not going to be convincing for someone who does not accept the creeds' authority.
The question of how to reconcile the dogmatic core of Christianity that "Christ will come again," with the exegetical insights that find the coming of the Kingdom in the life of Jesus and his disciples, will require a work of constructive theology of real genius. And let's face it: evangelicals do not produce works of theological genius, instead living off of the borrowed capital of Luther, Calvin and their associates. We may admire that the seminaries represented by the men in this volume teach the historic Christian faith, but they are out of their depth in addressing this profound a question.
Like many preterists, or in fact any modern student of the New Testament, I could see that Jesus and his disciples expected the great denouement in their lifetimes. But the apocalyptic language must be about something more than simply the destruction of the Second Temple, as it has always been read by the Church (as Hill's essay so admirably demonstrates). I looked in vain for a theological work that would bridge this gap. I finally found it in perhaps the greatest Roman Catholic theologian of the twentieth century: Hans Urs von Balthasar. His 5-volume "Theo-Drama," in particular "V. The Last Act," finally provides the synthesis needed. As you might envision, it involves giving priority to the Johannine portrayal of Christ and his saving work, rather than to Paul and the Synoptics.
Reformed and evangelical Christians need to get out of the cultural and intellectual ghetto represented by works like "When Shall These Things Be." There are no answers here.
that being said, this book accurately sums up the criticisms of hyperpreterism from amillenial and postmillenial theologians. i recommend both books.
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