Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Fruitcakes of End Times Future

Most people hate fruitcake. I’m one of those rare individuals who, at Christmas time, looks forward to it. I can’t understand why other people hate it so much. But anyway, fruitcake gives me a chance to thematically introduce something else. What an excuse for a holiday segue, eh?
Inevitably, maybe in 2-3 years, I’m going to return to the subject of eschatology in my studies, and there will be a Tekton book in which I expect I will explain, define, and defend my preterist viewpoints. And inevitably, that will mean confronting dispensational fruitcakes like the one who wrote an item titled, “Preterism’s God-Ordered Holocaust.” (No, won’t I link to him. You know better than that. But he is named in the label at the end.)
The fruitcake who wrote this has a serious binge against preterism – including, rightly, against heretical “full” preterism, though it is often not clear which brand he is actually addressing at any given time. The entry addressed what are called “liberal Preterists” though it is impossible to discern if this is meant as, “preterists who happen to be liberal also” or “all preterists, who are all liberals”.
Whatever it means, “liberal preterists” are set against “Evangelical Bible-believing Christians who accept the plain interpretation of prophecy” (read: those who simplistically read it in English without respect for genres, contexts, or linguistics) who “have often been beset and attacked” by these vicious liberal preterists.
Beset? Attacked? I last saw paranoia like that emanating from a psychiatric ward. OK, I admit it: I frequently sneak into the Lifeway store and shift copies of Left Behind novels into the store’s wastebasket. I also have sent Tim LaHaye stink bombs in the mail, and when Hal Lindsey was asleep once, I put his hand into a bowl of water.
But anyway, according to Fruity, preterists say that “Christ’s parousia was less redemptive than punitive” and what happened in 70 AD was “a God-ordered holocaust.” It is then said:
After reading the views of Liberal Preterism, I often wonder why Hitler never consulted the Preterists before he put 6,000,000 Jews to death. He had no clue that they were not the natural descendants of Abraham. I’m sure Hitler would have been surprised to find out that his plans to destroy Israel had already been anticipated by the Roman armies. He saw the nation as a real threat to his dreams of world power. But his administrative efforts proved abortive.
Say what?
Sorry, but no. Hitler’s Final Solution had very little with seeing Jewish persons as a “threat to his dreams of world power.” It had more to do with faulty eugenics, and even more with a despicable and stereotypical racism. Oh, to be sure, there was much rot about things like “Jewish bankers” who controlled all sorts of purse strings, but note that such people didn’t account for very many of the 6 million of Jewish allegiance Hitler destroyed.
Other than that, let’s not forget that in 70 AD, a good chunk of Jews didn’t live in Palestine: They were in the Diaspora, relatively unaffected by the events in Jerusalem. One may also just as well refer to God’s judgment on Israel at the time of Babylon’s height a “God-ordered Holocaust” since it was a fulfillment of Deuteronomic pledges that promised all sorts of mayhem and war and death if the Jews became disloyal to YHWH.
Fruity says, then, of preterists “in effect they agree with Hitler.” Godwin himself couldn’t have formulated it better, but in reality, preterists agree with Deuteronomy and what it promised would happen if the former covenant was not honored.
There’s a lot more Fruity has to say, but I’m not really feeling that masochistic right now; maybe I will in 2-3 years. So I’ll close with a comment on his use of Jer. 31:35-37, which he says is an “infallible answer to liberal Preterism”:
Thus saith the Lord, Which giveth sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, Which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of Hosts is His name. If those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before me forever. Thus saith the Lord, If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord.
My own view of the current state of Israel is that it has no role in Biblical prophecy whatsoever. It’s a political ally of the United States, and we have policy interests related to it that should determine how we treat it. Its people should be accorded as much respect as any other people. But that is all.
I presume Fruity thinks that the above passage indicates that the nation of Israel will always be around as God’s covenant people, and this in spite of the Deuteronomic curses. But that won’t exactly wash. “Before me” essentially means, “to my face.” It’s a relational concept, which means that the covenant people, if they disqualify themselves, can re-organize themselves all they want, but God will not “recognize” them as a nation. Men might. God won’t. In practical terms what that means is there will be no entity with which God can conduct covenant dealings. It doesn’t give warrant for anyone to persecute anyone else, or kill anyone else, or to do bad things to anyone else.
Then there’s that last bit, “If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,” which is no doubt taken to mean “no way will I ever cast off Israel.” But here we need to remember the context of dramatic language: This is the sort of hyperbole that was customary for an oriental potentate. It can’t be said to not brook an exception. Let’s also remember that this is spoken to Jeremiah in light of the Babylonian captivity; the promise, too, must be grasped in that light, as one of return from that captivity – not necessarily any other, later misfortunes that result from later disobedience.
I don’t think the church has replaced Israel. I think Israel has always meant, those loyal to YHWH (per Romans), and that in effect, that has meant that Israel has expanded numerically, such that the church is within its historic boundaries, along with those who prior to Jesus were loyal to YHWH. Adherents to the former covenant were ordered to be on the lookout for a prophet like unto Moses (Deut. 18), and I take that to have been Jesus – which means that any adherent to the former covenant who rejects Jesus is in rebellion against the covenant.
That’s all we’ll say at present. One of these days, it’ll be time to take on Fruity and his ilk and set the eschatological record straight.
For now, since it’s close to Christmas, I thought I’d get a taste of the fruitcake.

2 comments:

  1. I'm in agreement that Israel was never replaced, rather it was expanded (I even appeal to Romans 11 here).

    But- for the sake of argument- even if we grant these guys the assertion that Israel was replaced, that's still a VERY far cry from the Anti-Semitism they want to pin on Preterism. I don't really know how they go from "Israel is no longer special," to "Israel is inferior to everyone."

    Perhaps Captain Morgan and his girlfriend Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds have something to do with it?

    By the way... I'm one of those guys who doesn't mind fruitcake, but still enjoys cracking jokes about it. :p

    ReplyDelete
  2. I suspect it has a lot to do with the black and white thinking fundamentalism engenders -- you have to either love or hate Israel. There's no in between.

    In that sense I do think fundamentalism is a drug more dangerous than the others alluded to. I mean, look what it did to people like Ed Babinski!

    ReplyDelete