Skip to comments.MacArthurís Millennial Manifesto: Together for the Gospel?
Posted on 08/15/2007 7:00:24 AM PDT by topcat54
MacArthurs Millennial Manifesto Chapter 9: Together for the Gospel? Of Panmillennialism and Hyper-Preterism!
There are, of course, eschatological issues that impact our understanding of the Gospel. Wemany of us at leastare accustomed to thinking of eschatology as merely a secondary issue. We have all heard the one about Panmillennialism. (You knowHes the Christian who tells you lightheartedly that his eschatology is that everything will pan out alright in the end.)
There are some eschatological disputes, however, that are important enough to bring up in the discussion of issues essential to the Gospel. Here is where I sympathize with MacArthur. MacArthur (without explicitly calling it by name) brings up the issue of Hyper-Preterism (the view that all prophecy was fulfilled in A. D. 70 and that Christ came back thennever to return again). I agree that extreme Preterist views do impact our understanding of the Gospel story and should not be glossed over in any togetherness for the Gospel. Here is MacArthurs reference to Hyper-Preterism.
But let me tell you something, folks, as wacky as that world of Dispensational eschatology is, it is no more wacky than the interpretation of many Amillennialists whose fictional eisegesis reads everything into 70 A.D., and Ive read that kind of stuff and its just as crazy.
In the context MacArthur is referring to some of the extremes of popular Dispensationalism. Let me just say, Amen, John! to what MacArthur says about Hyper-Preterism here. In fact, let me say that Hyper-Preterism is much worse than the Dispensational extremes he describes. At least such extremist dispensational teachers believe in the Second Coming of Christ. This is more than can be said for Hyper-Preterists. Of course, I do take exception to MacArthur identifying such Preterist extremes with Amillennialism. Let me just make clear that as far as I am concerned Hyper-Preterism is heresy, and I reject it even more emphatically than I reject Dispensationalism. Historically, Preterist views of prophecy (though not Hyper-Preterist) have been identified with Postmillennialism and not Amillennialism, but, as we have seen, MacArthur really cannot see the difference between these two views.
So I feel some sympathy for MacArthurs desire not to shelve the subject of eschatology in being Together for the Gospel. The problem is that when MacArthur actually raises the eschatological issue, he does so in a way that does not carry my judgmentif I take him seriously. Listen to what he says:
Now at this point, I feel the vibe coming from those of you who are saying, Oh no, we came to a pastors conference, and its turned into a Dispensational conference. Next thing hes going to do is drag out Clarence Larkin charts, and were going to get a really nice leather-bound Scofield Bible, and then were all going to get the Left Behind series. Ah, were reduced to rapture fiction. Then hes probably going to tell us there are seven Dispensations, two kingdoms, two new covenants, two ways of salvation. Relax. Forget Dispensationalism. Im not talking about that, even though every one of you is a Dispensationalist.
As I have previously said, in statements like this MacArthur appears to distance himself from Dispensationalism. In this and other statements he presents himself as merely championing the cause of Premillennialism and not the cause of Dispensationalism. Of course, MacArthur here implies that he is a Dispensationalist, but it is clear that this is not the issue he wishes to raise. The issue he wishes to raise is (he wants us to understand) simply Premillennialism.
MacArthur is, of course, wrong here. In raising the issues of supersessionism and replacement theology and in denying that the Church is the Israel of God, he has placed himself squarely in the camp of Dispensational Premilllennialism. As I have shown, he has actually rejected Historic or Covenant Premillennialism. MacArthur is not, then, simply defending essential Premillennialism. He is asserting a variant modern form of Premillennialism that differs from Historic Premillennialism. Historic Premillennialism actually has as much or more in common with Amillennialism and Postmillennialism as it does with Dispensationalism.
But let us leave all this aside. If I take MacArthur at face value, if I really accept that his point is simply to defend Premillennialism per se and not Dispensational Premillennialism, then I think his injecting this issue into the coming together of Reformed Evangelicals over their common understanding of the Gospel is indefensible. Why do the other Premillennialists involved in this movement not feel the need to raise this issue? It is, I think, because they are not Dispensationalists. They realize that the mere issue of whether Christ comes back before or after the millennium does not radically affect ones understanding of the Gospel or Christianity. I think they are right. Premillennialism (pro or con) need not disrupt the unity of Together for the Gospel.
"For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." (Luke 21:22)
This is the problem I find with the situation. I believe MacArthur is simply trying to defend modern Premillennialism (not historic) but in doing so he cannot reconcile the dispensationalist view. All one has to do is ask MacArthur who the chosen people are to understand how far he is moving from orthodoxy in his eschatology views. In the end he comes off muddling his message.
I just wanted to make the comment that in my understanding of the Hyper-Preterism which I've never heard called Hyper-Preterism that I've heard it called Full Preterism from all I've seen. Also from my understanding of the Full-Pretist position I don't think they would hold to the view that Christ left after all was fullfilled.
It appears to me that Sam Waldron who wrote this article doesn't really understand any of the various positions on eschatology. I don't know what he would call his position but in a play of words I call it pretty Hyper.
Full Preterism, aka Hyper-Preterism, Pantelism, or Hymenaen Preterism, is the heterodox view that all prophecy related to the second coming was fulfilled in the events of AD70.
I did not find anything faulty in Waldron’s analysis. He clearly distinguishes between orthodox preterism and hyper-preterism.