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Disregard the Details. Just Be Encouraged.

Kingdom of God

Please allow me to explain the title of this blog. I am writing this as a review of the recent ‘Kingdom of God Conference’ that was held at the Church of the Intercessor in Malverne, New York. The host was Deacon Eddie Pirro and Sam Frost was the guest speaker. As one who has appreciated the world Sam Frost offered in his days as a Full Preterist, and being rather confused on his constant switching of views in the last 5-6 years, I surely wanted to hear what he had to say to a local congregation within my “mission ground”. Good ole Long Island, New York.

I must say from the outset that I appreciated the encouraging tone that seemed to be the focal point of the conference. I surely found myself in agreement with both Eddie and Sam when they spoke of the Victorious Church and the advancing Kingdom of God. I surely found myself encouraged in that regard. However, I must admit frustration with the seemingly intentional overview that was provided, all the while disregarding the details of how we end up with such an optimistic perspective of the Kingdom. It’s not like Sam is ignorant of the views.

As many of you may already know, I debated Sam Frost regarding Preterism in 2013, and have continued to try and follow the logic of his views. You can watch that debate on YouTube at the following link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz4JEGAsumE

So what I intend to do with this blog is highlight some of the things that were brought up and taught to the congregation. I imagine this will demonstrate the confusion that often comes as a result of conferences that seek to encourage the saints about certain topics but choose to ignore the necessary details that go into that discussion. Even more so, I imagine this will demonstrate the further confused road Sam Frost has continued to follow. Also, if you would like to read about and hear a recent interview Sam Frost had with Travis Finley, which surely demonstrated the problematic theology he asserts, here is a blog I had written on the topic, https://powerofpreterism.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/sam-stop-talking-a-review-of-the-smackdown-on-rr/
I walked in the door and heard Sam teaching on the Book of Daniel. He noted that Daniel chapter 2 is a text intending to inspire us about the Sovereignty of God and notes our rejoicing in the Kingdom. Well, surely I agree, and loved the emphasis on “God being in control”. However, Sam provided his details on Daniel in a 30 -45-minute lecture. The whole Book of Daniel in 30 minutes, and not a notion of the controversies that have arisen from the text. There was a lot of talk about “Church History”, so I don’t find it too far off base to include a quote by St. Augustine, a 3rd century church father, regarding the fulfillment of Daniel in AD 70, “For let us not suppose that the computation of Daniel’s weeks was interfered with by this shortening of those days, or that they were not already at that time complete, but had to be completed afterwards in the end of all things, for Luke most plainly testifies that the prophecy of Daniel was accomplished at the time when Jerusalem was overthrown.”

Eddie Pirro gave a lecture on Revelation chapter 20, specifically detailing the “first resurrection” and the “binding of Satan”. While I am still confused in how Eddie explained Revelation chapter 20’s fulfillment to be taking place in heaven, when the entire text speaks of things “coming out of heaven”, I did think his presentation was done well. I find myself in agreement with him about the “first resurrection” and faith in Christ (as per John 5:24 and 1 John 3:14). Also, I loved his detailing the “binding of Satan” as fulfilled through Jesus’ ministry (cf. Matthew chapter 12). I didn’t hear Eddie detail much about the “loosing” and “destruction” of Satan. What really baffled me was rather than further detail these things exegetically, Eddie began to speak enthusiastically about our life in Christ and the fact that Satan has no power over us – completely disregarding the details of Revelation chapter 20. Surely, I was disappointed. If you are looking for exegetical details in that regard, here are two resources. (1) An article that shows the Full Preterist understanding of Revelation chapter 20 by Mr. Michael Sullivan, http://www.fullpreterism.com/five-brief-points-which-prove-the-full-preterist-view-of-the-millennium-of-revelation-20-is-exegetical-and-orthodox/
(2) Here is a link to the YouTube video I had done a while ago explaining theology on the Millennium, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tWWid6lDIU

Another rather frustrating thing was his emphatic assertion, seemingly out of nowhere, that “we all know Christ resides in His body at the right hand of the Father. It says this in Colossians 2:9”. No, that text does not say Christ still has a physical/biological body during the time of His ascension, rather it declares the power of God, the fullness of God, that was evident in the Lord Jesus Christ (a connecting text would be Philippians chapter 2). Unfortunately, known of the historic commentaries demand the same assertion Eddie put on this verse. Look for yourself at the following link, http://biblehub.com/commentaries/colossians/2-9.htm

After lunch, Sam Frost launched right into a rant about the creeds. A statement that he made that I found rather odd was, “I take unity wherever I can get it”. Yikes! This hardly sounds like the man who wrote the creed challenging book, Misplaced Hope. Of course, he repudiates the book now, but one day I’d love to dig up my notes and share some of the poignant points he had made in that writing. As he began to talk about Matthew chapter 24, he surely sounded confused (I was dismayed that Sam has now joined the ranks of those who divide Matthew chapter 24). He continued to make empty statements like “We must not get locked into a certain view” and “I always keep in mind I am capable of error”, which I have often noticed are attempts to feign humility (yet he surely knows I am a heretic, blah, blah, blah…which were his comments to me later that evening on social media).
In talking through Matthew chapter 24, Sam tried to make a big deal out of the “sign of His coming” as mentioned in verses 3 and 30, but seemingly failed to notice that if you read verse 30 all the way through, and not try to insert confusion, the text is all too clearly speaking about His coming. Sam tried to assert it’s speaking about the sign of His coming, not His actual coming (Parousia). Wrong! I was even more baffled when Sam tried to use Matthew 24:7, “kingdom will come against kingdom”, to assert Futurism. Sam jokingly boasted from the pulpit, “When has anyone ever seen a time when kingdom did not come against kingdom – never!”. Wrong! So ensued my post about the Pax Romana on Facebook. Not only did Origen, a 2nd century church father, note in his writings that Christ was born in a time of relative peace, we also see Roman historian Tacitus, in his writing ‘Histories’ mention that this time of peace existed, virtually undisturbed (despite some regional wars) up until the time of Nero.
Talk about total disappointment with Sam’s seemingly theological dishonesty. However, I did rather enjoy Eddie presentation on the early date of Revelation and textual evidences he provided from the Bible. I know some who attended spoke of wanting to know how Eddie would deal with Revelation 21-22, knowing the implications of what he mentioned in Revelation chapter 20, as well as his understanding the time-frame of fulfillment of Revelation. As he said to me when I left the conference, we shall continue to talk.
I will conclude with this point. Sam seems rather content with vague references to Biblical details. He mentioned to me that “the congregation warmly understood him”, to which I would respond, “Of course”. The whole premise of the conference was a pat on the back, not a look into the details. The long story short of the conference was that we are in the Kingdom (to which I would say, Amen!), or as Sam said, “The Kingdom takes place in the heart”, however the details of the fulfillment of the Kingdom (which much of the New Testament is detailing) are not important. Just be encouraged.

I’ll surely share the videos or audio from the conference for further review once they are made public.

Gladly, there are many hungry to know more about the knowledge of God as revealed through the Scriptures, and desire to see it relayed with consistency, clarity, and context. Granted, when honest with these things, we still have questions. So…we look forward to the Examining Crossroads: Biblical Controversies Conference taking place at The Blue Point Bible Church in March 2018. For more information in that regard, you can visit www.bluepointbiblechurch or the Facebook invite at the following link, https://www.facebook.com/events/493019257765681/?event_time_id=493019271099013

Saints, may we continue to press in, proving all things (1 Thess. 4:21) and understanding the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan, so that we may share that story with those “outside the gates” and bring forth the “healing of the nations” (cf. Revelation 22:1-17)

With Sincerity in Pursuit of Him,
Pastor Michael Miano

P.S. – It is worthy to note that I do anticipate further discussion with Eddie Pirro. Eddie has continued to say that his problems with the Full Preterist view are (1) the understanding of the nature of Christ bodily, and (2) the anthropology of man. So…I gave him a copy of Alan Bondar’s recently published book, Journey Between the Veils (which deals with some of that conversation), and I look forward to more dialogue with him in that regard.

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My Defense and Explanation of Full Preterism

In 2010, I underwent a rather intense paradigm shift. For those who do not know what a “paradigm shift” is, it is a change in the way you approach a given situation or the assumptions you may have had. Basically, a change of thought.

As a Christian, I believed that the ancient Scriptures contained in the Bible are the way to know the “gospel” – the good news that Jesus came to take away sin and death. I believe that Jesus Christ was Lord and Savior. I also took serious the teachings which Jesus taught His disciples about the “end times”. I was taught the Christian view that the end times were soon. Jesus Christ could come any day, I didn’t agree with what was called the “pretribulation rapture”, but instead believed that everyone would be caught up with the Lord at the Second Coming. I believed that we were living in the end times and should take that serious. If people were going to live in a world of “great tribulation”- what were we doing to prepare? Wouldn’t that be the most loving thing? I could not understand why people didn’t seem to take serious what the “end times” would be about. I desired to see sinners repent and put their faith in Christ so they could enjoy eternal life both here and in the afterlife as well as urge people to take the teachings of Jesus Christ very seriously.

It was in the midst of this passionate following of Jesus Christ and seeking to “study to show myself approved ()” that I underwent the “paradigm shift”. I was challenged with a historical approach to properly understanding the “literary genre”, the original audience, and the context of the story contained within the Bible. However, I resisted and argued because as Maimonides once said, “…. those opinions of a man to which he has been accustomed to from his youth, he likes them, defends them, and shuns the opposite view”.

I’ll never forget the day that Pastor Alan Bondar of New Covenant Eyes Church met with me for lunch and told me that he believed that the “coming of the Lord”, what many refer to as the ‘Second Coming’ already happened. It seemed like a joke. Who believes that?!?!?! I wanted to prove this wrong and “defend the faith”, just as I had done with atheists, Jehovah Witnesses, and others who argued against the truth of God. The more I studied, seeking to “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and show why I believed what I believed and that being what Scripture is about I began to realize how true the following statement by J.I. Packer really was:

We do not start our Christian lives by working out our faith for ourselves; it is mediated to us by Christian tradition. In the forms of sermons, books, and established patterns of church life and fellowship. We read our Bibles in light of what we have learned from these sources; we approach Scripture with minds already formed by the mass of accepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the Church and the world…It is easy to be unaware that it has molded us. But we are forbidden to become enslaved to human tradition, either secular or Christian, whether it be “catholic” tradition, “critical” tradition, or “ecumenical” tradition. We may never assume the complete rightness of our own established ways of thought and practice and excuse ourselves the duty of testing and reforming them by Scriptures” (quoted from Fundamentalism and the Word of God).

 Pastor Alan Bondar’s belief in “preterism” surely seemed laughable because of what I believed, but even so, I did the Biblically correct, least lazy, and ‘intellectually honest” thing to do- sought to prove it wrong by using Scripture.

It was then through actually reading the writings contained in the Bible in their context and allowing them to say what they said to who they were written (without putting myself as the primary audience) that I realized this view “Full Preterism” had some merit to it. I began looking around to see what others said about this “preterist” stuff. To my surprise, many popular teachers within Christianity believed in some parts of Preterism- what they call “Partial Preterism” but called “Full Preterism” heresy. I wanted to figure out why and prove this to Pastor Bondar.

I remember when Pastor Bondar first asked me, “Mike, what do you believe happens when you die?” I began to explain how the dead go into the grave, and then at the coming of the Lord they will be raised in the twinkling of an eye (1 Thessalonians chapter 4 & 1 Corinthians 15 seem to speak of this). Pastor Bondar explained this was called “soul sleep” and would have been foreign to the Jewish mindset and their view on Sheol/ Hades. I did my research and sure enough Pastor Bondar was right. This peaked my interest.

Reading through Matthew chapters 23-24 realizing that Jesus was giving His actual disciples answers to the questions they were asking. He was telling them about the soon coming destruction of the Temple and the “end of the age” (age does not mean world, instead it means the end to a period of time). Sure enough, reading the things Jesus spoke about in Matthew chapters 23-24 in light of the historical account that Apostles do in the New Testament (gospel being preached to the whole world- Romans 1:8, Romans 16:19, Colossians 1:6, 23 ; persecution – a read through the book of Acts will serve well, not to mention 2 Thessalonians chapter 1; false teachers – again are seen throughout the New Testament however read 1 Timothy 1:3-6, 2 John chapter 1, for some insight; and the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus’ written accounts of the Jewish-Roman War.

After hearing Pastor Bondar explain that he believed the resurrection of the dead already occurred I knew I had him pinned as a “false teacher”. I approached him with 2 Timothy, and how the early church was warned to stay away from those who were saying the resurrection had already occurred. The first point Alan made was – if the resurrection of the dead was understood to be biological corpses coming out of the graves – how in the name of reason could people convince others that this had occurred and they had missed it? I had to admit that was a rather good point. Alan also pointed out that in 2 Thessalonians chapter 1, there were some who believed the “coming of the Lord” already occurred. It forced me to face the fact that the physical sighting of Jesus Christ that I demanded must happen in the future was an error. Actually stood in direct contrast to some of the things Jesus Himself said in John chapter 14.

Pastor Bondar then explained how what we read in the New Testament is referring back to things in the Old Testament. Jesus made it very clear He came to fulfill the Law (the Old Covenant/ Testament). It was His blood that was establishing the New. The Apostle Paul was emphatic about the fact that the gospel he preached was the hope of the forefathers of Israel, “the hope of Israel”, which was detailed in the Law and the Prophets (Acts 24:13-16; Acts 26:22; Acts 28:20). It is vital that we understand what the Old Testament before trying to understand or interpret the New Testament.

A major aspect of the Old Testament is the use of “prophetic language’. The Hebrew Metaphors and idoms that are used throughout the Old Testament are foreign to our common thought. Imagine trying to explain to an ancient Hebrew the expressing “It’s raining cats and dogs”. This would be just as confusing as them trying to explain how they used language such as “hearts melting” (Isaiah 13:7) and the sun turning black (Joel 2:21; Matthew 24:29) to depict the coming war with a foreign nation. I remember as I sought to understand how the ‘original audience’ would have understood these phrases, it caused me to change the way I understood writings in the New Testament. For example, if throughout the Old Testament the prophets used phrases such as “coming of the Lord” to speak about invading armies- why would we interpret Jesus’ words any different? Why all of a sudden to Jesus’ words mean literal cosmic events and a literal Jewish man coming out of the sky? Where do we get this understanding?

After understanding the use of the language, I then was able to pay attention to what are called “time statements” in Scripture. In speaking about the “end of the age” or the “coming of the Lord”, Jesus’ seemingly gave time frames when these things would happen. Obviously, the “end of the world” had not happened yet because I was living in it and there is no historical record of a man coming out of the sky. However, when the “prophetic language” is properly understood we realize the Scriptures speak of the “end of the age”, which was the “present evil age” the 1st century Jews were living in which would change at the “coming of the Lord” (again, I point out that this was a term depicting judgment of God that would come through foreign armies. An in-depth study of the following passages proves this point: Genesis 18:21; Exodus 3:8; Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 64:3; Matthew 24; Luke 21; 2 Thessalonians 1-2, and so many more!

I knew that embracing the truth as I was seeing it, through a view called Full Preterism, was quite controversial and stood in contrast to the ‘traditional thinking’ most Christians utilize. However, I came to a point where I had to choose from what the Bible teaches in context or the comfort of tradition. This is what men of God like John Wycliffe and Martin Luther had to deal with. If these men where not ‘intellectually honest’ and had the courage to challenge the ‘status quo’, we would hardly have the Christianity we know of today.

By understanding the historical and redemptive context of the Scriptures, as is weaved through the Bible in a beautiful way, we can truly understand the Bible as the original audiences would have understood each of the writings. The Scriptures are not dealing with world history, that is why we do not read about those people in Australia or the natives in the Americas in the Bible. Instead, the Biblical writings are dealing with the God of Israel and His relationship with His people. The Messiah of Israel comes and through His fulfilling their promises, He invites others “through Jesus Christ” to enjoy the blessings of being “in covenant” with Him. That my friends is the glorious gospel as revealed through Scripture. The ‘death’ that Israel experienced in Adam, was taken away in Christ. Those that were without God, without hope, “far off” from covenant relationship with God, “the Gentiles”, were called to the New Covenant (Ephesians chapters 2-3 explains this).

So, all of this serves as my defense of my position as a “Full Preterist”. I have been willing to debate and defend these views- firstly, because I believe my position is correct. If you would like to discuss these things in more detail, I would love to explain. Secondly, I have been wrong once and am humble enough to be wrong again. However, I seek to be faithful to understanding Scripture in an effort to truly understand God- therefore I ask to be shown if I am wrong through the use of Scripture in context and not what ‘tradition’ teaches. I see much hypocrisy alive and well in the Church when it comes to “proving all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and instead of doing so, many have a “zeal without knowledge” as the first century Jews who persecuted Christ did (Romans 10:2). They believed they were right and the Christians were wrong- how do you suppose the Truth was made known? Go and read Acts 17:11- ‘SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES”. Scripture commands that we “study to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15)” and therefore I ask you, the reader of this document, to not only prove what I am saying wrong (if I am wrong) and prove your position through a historical and Biblically consistent examination.

 

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