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Church-State Relations and the Book of Revelation
An Introduction to The Parousia: A Careful Look at the New Testament Doctrine of the Lord's Second Coming
by James Stuart Russell (1878) // Written by
Todd Dennis, Curator

Jason Bradfield's Testimony

February 2011

Tim asks, "Would you mind telling us how the Lord delivered you from that error? I have a dear friend who is caught in that morass . . ."

Well, there are a number of factors. Looking back, I think a lot of it has to do with how i entered into the view. I embraced "full preterism" out of frustration and impatience. At the time that i decided to go all in, i was a pastor-in-training at a reformed baptist church that taught postmillennialism from the pulpit. So i was already a "partial preterist" for about 2 years. One of the things i struggled with was how and when to make the distinction between the ad70 "coming" and a future one. This was just a natural question i had before ever hearing about "full preterism". Then one day i was reading RC Sproul's book the "Last Days According to Jesus", in which he interacts with J.S. Russell. I then read Russell's book "The Parousia". Russell is like 99.9% full preterist. The only verses in Revelation that he had going beyond ad70 was the "thousand years". One of the biggest shockers in that book was his reprint of a lecture by John Owen who taught that 2 Peter 3 was fulfilled in ad70.

I started asking the elders what they made of all this. I was honestly struggling with the question of where to *stop*. I mean, if one is going to interpret 99% of the Bible as fulfilled, including a passage that is almost always understood to be future (2 Peter 3), then why hang on to the 1%? Why not go that route, rather than hang on to a few verses in Revelation that were problematic to start was my thinking. But rather than sit me down and work through various texts, they pretty much had the attitude that i needed to shut up and sit down. When i told one elder, who was a big fan of Owen, about Owen's treatment of 2 Peter 3, he accused me of lying. When i showed him the lecture a week later, he scanned over it, handed it back to me, then turned around and walked off. No apology. No, "hey Jason, sorry for accusing you of lying, but i still disagree with that interpretation and here's why...." None of that.

While i take full responsibility for my actions, i think the treatment i got from my elders once i started asking some questions, didn't help me at all. I've learned alot from that as well. While i certainly agree that heresies and heretics exist today, some christians could do much better in how they handle these people. They didn't view me as honestly struggling. They immediately viewed me as some cancer to get rid of.

So i finally, at one point, just had to throw my hands up out of frustration and dive in. I didn't know what else to do because the only people i had around me to help wouldn't help; other than to beat orthodoxy into me. lol.

One could say then, that i kinda went into full preterism on some shaky ground. While i saw a strong preteristic leaning in Scripture, i still had a ton of questions, especially how such a view would jive with my calvinistic beliefs, which i saw just as strongly. But again, since my church wasn't much help, i dove in thinking, "well, i'll work all this out somehow." It was more wishful thinking than anything.

Shortly after, i was booted from the church and around that same time, i was playing basketball at Briarwood Pres. in B'Ham one saturday, and ended up running through a glass pane. It sliced my knee and i had to have surgery. Then i couldn't work (foreman, lawncare) So here i was without a church, lost most of my friends, and lost my job. During this time, i had got in contact with a full pret in Tampa named Sam Frost. He had a reformed background (two Masters) and was pastoring a "full pret" church. I told him about my situation. A week or two later, one of the pastors there called me up with a job offer at an appraisal company. I thought, "well, i can move to Tampa, start working again, and attend a church where i would be welcomed." So i went.

I think that move to FL was another huge factor, because once i got into an atmosphere where i was welcomed, all that pressure and sense of urgency to work out the systematic/reformed questions was put on the back burner. I wasn't in any rush. My fellowship wasn't being threatened, etc. Sam then introduced me to the full pret community online, and that gave me a lot of comfort. "Wow, there are hundreds of people just like me." When you get a bunch of people like that together, who share similar church battle stories, there's just something about it. You feel important. You feel like your part of something again.

I became part of a "community" that was basically in the same place i was...saw strong preteristic leanings in Scripture, wasn't sure how to stop going the full route, got into some battles with churches, gave up out of frustration, and dove in.

All during this time though, i always left a foot in the "orthodox" door. 99% of my library is orthodox, so i never just completely removed myself from it. So the questions of how full preterism and reformed thought jived still loomed around in the back of my mind, but all the excitement of the "community" and the thought that we were leading a "new reformation", got the best of me.

Looking back now, i can see that what was needed was something to jar me out of this wishful thinking...get my head out of the clouds. Something to force me to answer these systematic/reformed questions. That's when 'Covenant Creationism' showed up.

Covenant Creationism is a movement within full preterism that began to take the "local", "Israel only" eschatological understanding of full preterism and read that back into the Creation account. They argued that if full preterists were going to be consistent, they needed to match the end of the Bible with the beginning. Thus, Genesis 1 is no longer about creation. It's about the formation of Israel as a nation. And many of the elements (lights, seas, etc.) were turned into metaphors. This, of course, then allowed evolution and other crazy stuff to creep in. And then the question about Adam came up. Was he historical? What about Romans 5? So on and so on.

I witnessed this group go down this path of just complete craziness, toppling over a lot of what i deemed to be 'essential' doctrine. And even full pret friends of mine who didn't agree with the Cov Creationist, still thought it should be given a platform. As the creator of one of the most active full pret communities online, i had a serious problem with this and started using the network to go after the Cov Creationists.

This battle with them did three things: (1) The sense of 'unity' that i thought i had with full prets was shattered. The Cov Creationists were saying that I could not even call myself a full preterist unless i went that route. I found myself now fighting more with other full preterists then i did with non full prets. (2) I began to notice that many of the arguments used to make their case were very similar to how full prets argued in general. Things like, "well how would the original audience have understood it?" and "well if that word means this here, then it must mean that there". (3) Because their conclusions were so radical, i began to appreciate more the whole "systematics" issue, which in turn forced me to start addressing the stuff i had laid aside.

I would say that all this triggered it. But there's one more important factor. My buddy Sam, who was fighting these cov creationists as well, was reading something in Clark about "infinity" and then it dawned on him, "how can the doctrine of election jive with a view that teaches that the number of elect will go on forever?" This then led him back to systematics and reviewing the nature of God, etc. He ended up concluding that there was no way this was possible, and argued that there had to be a future consummation.

The guys at Triablogue have actually brought this issue up years ago, but none of the full prets did anything with it. They wrote,



"Many HPs consider themselves to be reformed soteriologically. That entails believing that God has ordained a particular number of people to everlasting life. The number is set, no more no less. So, it may be, 100,000 million, for all we know. The problem is that HPism teaches that the earth will remain forever and there will be people entering into the New Covenant for the "rest" of time. If so, there is not a specific number elected to eternal life but an infinite number. Also, there will be an infinite amount of people in heaven and outside the city. Since the earth goes on forever, and people will forever be put into one of those places, then both places will have the same amount of people! This is like "Hotel Infinity:"

So basically, Sam, doing his own thing, hit this same wall, even taking it further than Triablogue did by asking how a view of "infinite history/procreation" relates to the nature/knowledge of God, and tried to work out a solution and couldn't...well, at least without going down some semi pelagian/open/process route. He produced a number of articles on it

At first, i couldn't wrap my mind around it, but eventually i came to agree with Sam. There has to be a telos, if reformed thought is to be maintained. And there was just simply no way i was going to dump all of my reformed thought for some ill-defined view that was getting crazier and crazier over time.

This then led me back into Reformed Systematics and as i read it now, i have come to appreciate more and more the "system" aspect of theology. Reading things in light of the WHOLE.

This infinity issue also brought out some strong criticisms from some of the "grandfathers" of full preterism, in which they have stated clearly that full preterism was originally developed within a church of christ/semi-pelagian view of things. Many of the original big shots within the camp have argued that one MUST leave behind, not only reformed thinking, but even things considered fundamental to Christianity in general.

I know anti-full prets have been saying this for years, but i guess i just had to learn the hard way. What they "talked about", i actually witnessed and experienced for 7 years.

The full pret community is made up of a TON of folks who have a very poor understanding of how the WHOLE of theology works....systematics.

I don't know where your friend is at in relation to reformed thought, but i would say that that is what eventually "saved" me. Full Preterism and Reformed thinking can not mix. If he claims to be "reformed", as many full prets do, you need to press him on this, systematically, and show him how full preterism topples ALL of it over. If he's arminian/semipelagian/pelagian, then, well, i don't know how far you'll get, because in my opinion, the "potentiality" view of the future that full preterism has to teach (no scriptures speak to our future) fits right in with such thought. The King group (Max, Tim) have gone right into process theology.

Well, that's my short answer. rofl. Help any?

I see you're from Canada. You're not referring to Jean-Pierre of Chateauguay/Montreal, are you?

Last edited by king neb; 02-08-2011 at 10:32 PM.

Jason Bradfield
Seeking Membership, SGM
Knoxville, TN

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