My Hyperpreterist Tragedy
I have a story about where full preterism takes a person.
Before I was married, I moved to Atlanta and ended up in a housechurch. The elder there used to run a blog called the New Testament Restoration Foundation and was heavily involved in housechurch circles, particularly in the Atlanta area. I was there for a little less than a year before I got married. The church ended up splitting over preterism.
Someone there got a bee in their bonnet and started teaching about it. It went on for months and months. There were Bible studies where I was the only female there because none of the other women would listen to it. Those who held to preterism were very, very insistent that we hear them out, study, listen ad nauseam, quit singing things like “It Is Well With My Soul” and other hymns that indicated a second coming. They said the second coming had already happened in 70 AD, so there was nothing to look forward to. No third coming. No heaven. This IS the spiritual heaven, they said. I remember pouring myself into studying it all because, my goodness–if I’m wrong, I want to know it and fix my theology. I read books, I asked questions (as I could–I was an unmarried woman, after all, so I had to be very, very careful not to upset a man), and learned as much as I could.
I got married and moved to Miami where my husband was in grad school. There he was involved with a housechurch that was much smaller. There was only one married couple and three single men. One of whom I married. I thought I was escaping some of the chaos from Atlanta. The church split over it. It was horrible. The preterists WOULD NOT STOP. So I got married, and to my horror, the newest topic at the housechurch down there was preterism. They ALL believed it. Every one of them, except the man I married wasn’t fully convinced.
I heard it all, again and again and again. How there was no second coming of Jesus, how all prophecy in Scripture was fulfilled, how everything in Revelation was fulfilled, and there’s literally nothing to look forward to except physical death.
Because this church was smaller, I could ask questions. I didn’t ask during “church service,” because I wouldn’t speak, as a woman, even though the “church” consisted of 6 people. I waited till afterward to ask what we ARE looking forward to. What we ARE waiting on. What IS going to happen in the future? The answers were full of ecstatic excitement at their new discovery: awed incredulousness that the Lord was so gracious as to show them insight that they were willing to share with me. Of course, I’d heard it all before. I’d just been through that nasty church split. But I was willing to hear them out.
I finally came to this: What difference does it make in my day-to-day life? It doesn’t matter what I make for dinner, how I handle my baby, if I homeschool or not, etc. My daily life doesn’t change. I still love Jesus, I still live for His glory, I still on a daily basis need to make meals and do what needs to be done. So on a daily basis, it doesn’t matter what I believe about a second coming. Whether Jesus is coming tomorrow or 4000 years from now or if He came in 70 AD, I still have to cook dinner.
The other folks did NOT like that at all. But after months (really about a year) of mulling over it, that’s what I came to. It doesn’t matter on a day-to-day basis. Their argument was that if I’m still looking for Jesus to come back at any moment, I was sorely mistaken because He already had. I said, “OK. I still have to make dinner tonight.” They were not happy with my conclusion!
THEN one of the 30-something single guys in the group finally admitted to living with his girlfriend. She was a practicing witch.
So we had a “come to Jesus” meeting, wherein all the truth came out…the logical conclusion of full preterism. Since the judgment already happened, and the second coming already happened, and this is the new heaven and new earth spiritually, and we stand in God’s eyes completely innocent and sin-free, it means there IS NO SIN anymore. This is heaven (spiritually). We’ve been reborn, we’ve been redeemed, and that’s it. Jesus died, Jesus rose, Jesus returned, and this is it. Heaven on earth. Spiritually. We enjoy Him fully now. Nothing else matters at all. Which means nobody should care if a man in the church is sleeping with a practicing witch. There is no sin in God’s eyes.
That’s where full preterism took him. The other single young man said he couldn’t be so bold, but that in theory he couldn’t condemn his actions because, theologically, he was right. There is no sin. It wasn’t sin in God’s eyes, so it couldn’t be sin in ours.
We discontinued meeting with them after that.
Since then, any time I’ve run into preterists, I don’t hesitate to tell this story. If they’re consistent and they take it to its logical extreme, this is where it leads. Does the logical extreme mean the position is wrong? No, but one must go there in one’s mind to at least consider where it leads.