Category Archives: preterism

The Beginning of Rethinking the End

Early depiction of IguanodonSome of my earliest memories are of reading books about dinosaurs. Perhaps it is because, to a child, dinosaurs are “other-worldly” creatures that invoke a considerable measure of awe and fascination. They cannot be seen in zoos or found in the wild, for all that is left of these creatures are their fossilized remains. So when a child sees pictures of dino-bones and the artist’s accompanying illustrations of what it may have looked like in real life (to varying degrees of accuracy), dinosaurs take on an entirely new dimension. What I find interesting is that when one compares artistic renditions of dinosaurs throughout the last 150 years, beginning with Benjamin Waterhouse Watkins’ 19th-century illustration in which the bipedal Iguanodon’s thumb spike ended up on the snout of a quadruped Iguanodon, our modern depictions of dinosaurs don’t even come close. Gone are the illustrations of “Ford Model T” dinosaurs – those sprawling, sluggish, tail-dragging reptiles with which we grew up. Instead, continued study over the last 50 years has refined our perception of how these mysterious creatures lived and breathed, resulting in a contrast so stark that the fast warm-blooded, feather-laden, therapods of today’s dinosaur-loving generation look like Lamborghinis by comparison.

As new Christians, armed with only the Bible from which to draw our mind-pictures, certain eschatological passages regarding the so-called “Second Coming” of Jesus Christ – upon a cursory glance – can invoke a similar reaction to that which those original dino-artists experienced. Our tendency as modern, 21st-century readers, informed by a woodenly literal hermeneutic, is to ignore the original “environment” in which those bones scriptures were originally buried written. That cursory glance, without the aid of deeper study and respect for certain literary genres, can produce “other-worldly” End Times scenarios and expectations that invoke just as much (if not more) awe and fascination as dinosaur bones do for children. The result of this is, I think, a vastly different picture of how and Christ’s Second Coming was originally understood and experienced. For most, it will take a significant amount of patient study – both biblical and extra-biblical – in order to shed the old paradigm in exchange for a new one. Ironically, it is our scientific mindset, bereft of any ancient Near Eastern paradigms or sensitivities to the concept of “audience relevance,” that has produced within the Christian community an eschatology that fails to recognize how, when, and why Christ returned. (No, my use of the past tense is not a mistake.) What may be even more shocking is that this scientific mindset existed within the Church from the very beginning, producing eschatological error almost from the outset.

It is because of similar (if not identical) errors that a overwhelming majority of today’s Evangelicals fails to claim explicit biblical promises meant for the here and now. Instead, we wait. And wait. And wait for those promises to be fulfilled. If the eschatology I began embracing nearly a decade ago is the correct one, then the catastrophic events that those in my worship community believe will precede the receipt of those aforementioned biblical promises will never come to pass. And we will continue to wait. To be sure, many find themselves heartsick as they approach the end of their mortal lives, having failed to witness the Day that they believed – with every fiber of their being – would surely come to pass before they tasted death (see Proverbs 13:12a). Without radical reformation of the current eschatological paradigm in which Evangelicalism finds itself, the Evangelical portion of the Body of Christ will always fail to live up to its full potential.

Just as I hope that my journey in “rethinking the αlpha” will help bring my fellow Christians to terms with evolution and propel them into a healthy respect for man’s scientific endeavors and a deeper love for the Creator, it is my sincere hope that my journey in “rethinking the Ωmega” will help bring my brothers and sisters in Christ to terms with the past and pave the way to a more prosperous future, both materially and spiritually.

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Filed under eschatology, futurism, preterism

Seeing Evolution Through New Covenant Eyes

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of conducting a 90-minute radio show with New Covenant Eyes Church (Ft. Meyers, Florida) staff Alan Bondar and Bob Lucas.  (It can also be downloaded directly.)  Since New Covenant Eyes Church is a thoroughly preterist congregation, the opportunity was absolutely well-timed considering I had that weekend just revamped my Creation of an Evolutionist blog into its current format with the intention of discussing my journey from premillennial eschatology to preterism.

It was an eye-opening experience for me because I was interacting with some of my preterist brethren who hadn’t yet been exposed to the concept of evolutionary creationism.  In fact, the congregation is much more familiar with covenant creation, as detailed in the book Beyond Creation Science:  New Covenant Creation from Genesis to Revelation by Timothy P. Martin and Jeffrey L. Vaughn (Whitehall, Montana: Apocalyptic Vision Press, 2007), a publication with which I was involved quite intimately during my transition away from young-earth creationism. (Instead of being theistic evolutionists, Martin and Vaughn are merely old-earth creationists and, taking cues from 19th-century biblical scholar Milton Terry, propose that Genesis 1 is apocalyptic literature that finds its primary prophetic fulfillment in the book of Revelation.  According to covenant creation, Genesis 1 is not an ancient Hebrew account of material creation that uses mythological language, as I believe, but rather a purely literary account, with anchors in what is thought to be actual human history, of God’s original covenant with man, filled with symbolism intended to find one-for-one correspondence with various elements in the New Covenant instituted by Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry.)

I must admit, it is a challenge to explain to someone why it is that I, as an evolutionary creationist, believe Genesis 1 to be a material creation account (vice purely functional/teleological a la John Walton) at the same time that I reject the foundational, pre-modern scientific cosmology that pervades the Hebrew account.  The “secret” to my approach, as I explained in a pre-broadcast discussion with Alan, is the fine balance of intellectually rejecting Genesis 1’s ancient Hebrew cosmology and respecting the literary genre in which Genesis 1 was written and the ancient Near Eastern worldview with which the account is infused.  With this literary appreciation in hand, it becomes an academic exercise in separating the infinitely more valuable theological message of Genesis 1 and the fallible literary vessel in which the theology finds itself.  We are, in essence, to avoid keeping new wine (theology) in old wine skins (ancient cultural paradigm) for too long, or else the wine skin may burst and you find yourself spending valuable time and money trying to remove the wine stains from the plush carpet that is our faith.  It is better, then, to store new wine (theology) in new wine skins (modern cosmology), to adopt new techniques of applying our theology within modern scientific paradigms, and allowing our theology to expand and reform along with new scientific discoveries, all the while keeping Jesus Christ at the center.

As a result of this interview, I’ve decided to create a new Q&A page that will address what I believe Genesis 1-3 to be teaching.  Therefore, I invite my readers (both old and new) to submit questions about Genesis 1-3 for inclusion into a permanent Q&A page, answers for which I will provide over the course of time.  Even if you agree with my approach to Genesis 1, I still invite you to submit questions that you struggled to answer during your own scientifico-theological journey.

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Filed under ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cosmogony, eschatology, evolutionary creationism, preterism, protology