Since the reader will no doubt notice how confusing it is to navigate all the websites talking about “preterism” — because so many of them are caught up in petty inter-personal feuds — I would like to present the state or condition of the preterist movement from 2010 and entering 2011.
Maybe the reader will consider that my objectivity for this task comes from the fact that both the “preterist movement” AND the “anti-preterist movement” consider me an enemy. As well as they should since I believe both “movements” suffer from the same Proverbs 26:12 mentality. I am NOT trying to say Roderick Edwards is the guy with the right view and everyone else is wrong. As a matter of fact, I do not present a “personal view” but instead constantly point to the fact that historic Christianity is united on basics and that is “my view“. This upsets hyperpreterists and the anti-preterists alike who then go on to malign historic Christianity as if it hasn’t been united. The hyperpreterists point to Martin Luther and claim things like the doctrine of “justification by faith alone” [forensic justification] was a completely new doctrine, implying we should then allow for hyperprets new doctrines. Whereas the anti-prets are content to present things like “Realized Preterism” which in turn lends to the hyperpreterist notion that historic Christianity never had a developed eschatology and thus there is need to put forth one now. So, both the hyperprets and the anti-prets MUST undermine historic Christianity for them to come out on top.
Now, let us review 2010 and what has happened within the “movement“.
Hyperpreterism has been on the downward spiral since at least the year 2000 after the great exodus away from the premier hyperpreterist website; PlanetPreterist.com. That site’s owner, Virgil Vaduva spent years trying to foist Emergentism and postmodernism on his fellow “full preterists” but eventually even Vaduva’s most staunch supporters saw they had to break with him. Several new “full preterist” websites started becoming more prominent for being “conservative“. The main competition to Vaduva’s liberal playland became “Sovereign Grace Preterism” or SGP [preterism.ning.com]; started by Jason Bradfield and Michael Bennett. SGP even has as its ORIGINAL tagline: “Conservative, well tested theology…We don’t make blind LEAPS of faith and we don’t JUMP to conclusions” — ref#1
So, as you can see, no matter what the founders of SGP say today, they were originally created to contrast the liberalization going on within the movement — which was mainly Vaduva’s brand of hyperpreterism.
About this time, another brand of hyperpreterism was beginning to build: “Covenant Creationism“. This brand of hyperpreterism originated with Tim Martin who was later joined by fellow hyperpreterist, Jeff Vaughn. These men advocate that the Genesis account is allegorical and should be as “spiritualized” as hyperpreterists spiritualize many “endtime” passages. This led to Martin and Vaughn concluding that Adam was most likely not the first created human but merely the first into which God entered a “covenant“; thus Covenant Creationism (CC). Further, Martin and Vaughn put forth that the entire Genesis creation account is not really talking about the material formation of the universe but merely the creation of Abrahamic/Israel covenant people. Also, that the Flood account was not a planet-wide event but merely a localized Flood, killing off covenant breakers. These conclusions were promoted in several booklet editions by Martin and then Martin and Vaughn penned a more systematic book. I have critiqued this view here.
At first, some of the “CC” hyperprets wandered over to SGP but as SGP stated it was to be a “conservative” group, the CC were treated with hostility (ref#2). SGP even had in its ORIGINAL tagline: “a ‘conservative’ reading of the Genesis account“. This led to more division within the movement and a hyperpret named John Scargy started yet another website called “Death Is Defeated” or DID [deathisdefeated.ning.com] where CC could be openly discussed and eventually promoted.
Most of 2010 was marked by battles between the SGP and CC hyperprets.
During 2010 to 2011 the anti-prets, mainly led by a woman using the pseudonym name, Dee Dee Warren has also been in disarray. Ever since the hyperpreterist compromisers, Dr. Kenneth Talbot of Whitefield Theological Seminary and men like Phil Naessens and PaulT Gates have been allowed to enter the arena, there has been more hypocrisy within the anti-pret group than ever.
Talbot is considered a compromiser because it was Talbot who for 10 years coddled then hyperpret leader Sam Frost, never saying anything substantially public while Frost heavily promoted the heresy. To make matters worse, Talbot even invited Frost to help develop student materials for Talbot’s supposed “Christian” seminary. Could you imagine a Christian seminary allowing say a Mormon to help develop materials for use in the seminary. If I was student of WTS, I’d demand a refund and go elsewhere. (ref#3)
Ever since Talbot was confronted with his embarrassing support of heresy he has been hostile and even vindictive to me; attempting to paint me as “threatening” his work. I have no desire to threaten Talbot’s work. I’m sure he has done and continues to do many great things for the Faith but on this issue he was wrong and I only wish he was humble enough a man to admit to it.
The people who have insulated Talbot from admitting to his fault include; Dee Dee Warren (whom Talbot gave a free tuition for defending him — ref#4), PaulT Gates (an underlining of Warren’s), Phil Naessens (wanna-be “elder” with no real creds), and Sharon Nichols (an ex-hyperpret that Talbot considers his first “win” to proving he is more effective in fighting heresy — she’s his trophy). These people will defend Talbot at all costs. PaulT Gates even once said to me something to the effect, “Roderick, I don’t care if everything you say about Talbot is true. We must protect his reputation“. So, while Talbot may be trying to get trophies, Talbot himself is the trophy of the anti-prets. They longed for a “big name” to give them umph and Talbot was it. He just wasn’t used to fighting battles free-style. Talbot is like the old elitist European generals of the pre-American revolution which fought by special “rules of engagement” and would line up and shoot until the other side sued for peace. When Talbot entered the “blogosphere” battles, his ivory-tower mindset was blown away. He couldn’t believe that people didn’t automatically treat him with “ahem”, due respect simply because of his title. This has caused Talbot to retreat from the battlefield but his minions still fight on his behalf. Thus, Dee Dee Warren, PaulT, Phil Naessens, and Sharon Nichols have been considered “Talbotites” or “Talbot-bots“.
Perhaps the worst of these compromisers is Phil Naessens. He even does a joint podcast with a hyperpret named Mike Loomis. The podcast is billed as “The Antithesis Hour” but most of the time Naessens and Loomis talk like a couple of buddies out for drinks, talking about sports and politics and then usually within the last 5-15 minutes of the hour-long show, they finally get around to something that might be a little “anti” (opposing views). Typically Naessens lets Loomis go on and on about how every one is on a “journey” and how we all just need to be more “accepting” of one another. Naessens even ends shows by telling Loomis “God bless you” and sometimes calls him “brother” (ref#5). I used to call Talbot on this for calling Frost a “brother“. Hyperprets are NOT Christian “brothers” and to call them such only validates their heresy. And no, I’m not saying hyperprets are going to hell — that is only God’s place to say, but whatever hyperpreterism is, it is something OTHER-THAN-CHRISTIAN.
THE SAM FROST STORY: 2011
Perhaps the biggest event within the movement in 2010-2011 is former hyperpret leader Sam Frost recanting his 10-15 years of hyperpreterism. And actually it was Frost’s long-time friend, Jason Bradfield who first recanted. (ref#6) At first Frost continued to try to remain in the movement — to try to “reform” it; much as I tried while I was a hyperpret. Frost even tried to downplay Bradfield’s message but eventually Frost himself admitted that hyperpreterism is incompatible with Christianity (ref#7).
This major loss of one of their main leaders has left the movement in a free-fall. Already they are trying to revision what happened. Some claim Frost was never a “full preterist“. Some are claiming he only left because he wants to be accepted by the Reformed Christians. Who knows yet. The biggest detractors of Frost are found on a hyperpret group called PretCosmos [preteristcosmos.com] ran by Dave Green. Green had been considered perhaps the most “honest” hyperpret leader within the movement…until he co-authored a book with Frost, Michael Sullivan and Ed Hasserrt. Since that time, Green has been found to be more hypocritical in his actions and comments. It is no wonder that Green and company would be the most hostile toward Frost, since he embarrasses them as having been a co-author of a book that was supposed to be the definitive response to objections against hyperpreterism. With Frost now recanting hyperpreterism, the book is a laughing-stock. I mean, if one of its authors recants just one year after it was published, just how much stock should someone place in the book?
As Frost and Bradfield will soon experience, if they have not already there is no leaving the hyperpret movement unless you leave quietly. If you turn against the heresy, you will be marked for destruction by all the hyperprets. Frost and Bradfield are the new enemies #1 on the hyperpret list. AND they could easily become the new pawns of the anti-prets. I now see I allowed myself to be somewhat used by Dee Dee Warren and her snarky, untouchable website. I will no longer be beholden to such people. I will only be accountable to Christians that defend the historic Christian Faith and not some “movement”, be it the hyperpret movement or the anti-pret movement –both are wrong.
The state of Preterism from 2010-2011 is such that Christians MUST address it whenever it rises within the evangelical body, however preterism is in so much confusion; whether “partial” or “full”, I expect it to continue to degrade; especially now that hyperpreterism has lost its “presumed scholar”. The only thing hyperpreterism has left is Max King; an old, untouchable, out of touch recluse and a used-carsalesman-like Don Preston with his worn-out old debate-tactics; or hyperpreterism has the relativistic mentality of men like Mike Loomis and Larry Siegle who are always trying to get people to “tolerate” and “accept” hyperpreterists — much like the tactic of the homosexual movement. What becomes of hyperpreterism is yet to be seen but I expect its fate will be sealed by the end of 2011 as more people bolt.