QUESTIONS ON DOCTRINE AND THEOLOGY (Winter of 2016/17)

The God Club: Why I Protest Protestantism – Part Two
February 8, 2017
UCC Show: Bumper Stickers, T-shirts and Billboards
October 11, 2017

There were a few questions of a theological nature which we were unable to answer during our Q&A shows on the 2/21/17 and 2/28/17 broadcast dates of the UCC Show. Rather than wait until the next Q&A episode at an undetermined time, we’ve decided to take the opportunity to answer them here.

 

The first question was regarding an End Times doctrine.

What is Full Preterism and why is it something to be concerned with?”

 

No doubt the listener submitted this question after downloading “End Time Philosophy” (Episode 3.23 from our archive) wherein we all but labeled Full Preterism a heresy, yet a few members of our discussion panel promoted a Partial-Preterist view. Why the stark distinction?

For the benefit of those who do not know, Preterism is a doctrine of eschatology which teaches that biblical End Times prophecies pertain to the first century church. Partial-Preterism rightly focuses on the lives and times of the New Testament writers in order to give context to the prophecies that the Holy Spirit inspired them to record, but it stops short of Full Preterism which limits New Testament prophetic fulfillment to the first century alone. That extreme view was first recorded in the 16th century by Father Francisco Ribera as part of the Counter-Reformation. It has since been labeled Pantelism by many scholars (from the Greek words “pan” and “tel” to mean “all is complete”) in order to differentiate it from historical, or partial, Preterism.

Why is it borderline heretical? In much the same way that Dispensational Premillennialism (first taught by Father Manuel Lacunza, another product of the Counter-Reformation) came out of Historical Premillennialism, the doctrine of Pantelism or Full Preterism is also a relatively new spin on an orthodox (original) teaching of the early church. Specifically, it asserts that events such as the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead already happened within the first century. Such assertions are patently and observably false through both the internal witness of scriptural consistency and the external witness of the early church – the “song and dance” required to deem every single nuance, jot and tittle of New Testament prophecy as fulfilled within the first century A.D. falls radically short of any critical examination. To get around the inconsistencies,  many Pantelists go so far as to assert that the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead and other such events were spiritual only without any physical component or fulfillment. These errant speculations and forced conclusions, and all others like them, force us to give proper warning for the uninformed Christian.

This does not mean that Pantelist/Full Preterist Christians are unsaved or heretical. UnCommon Christianity Ministries maintains that eschatology is not an essential doctrine, and therefore we do not consider differences of End Times beliefs as a valid reason to break fellowship with other believers. Andrew and Lisi lean Premillennialist, Nathan and Cordell lean Amillennialist, and Dina, Kim, and Robyn lean Panmillennialist (“everything will pan out in the end”), yet we serve with one another in love and in one accord.

 

Another outstanding question is regarding a controversial topic.

The Bible can be interpreted differently by many different methods, so homosexuality is not necessarily a sin. So my pastor said. Agree?”

 

The Bible can certainly be interpreted in a number of ways, but as Paul so famously admonished: “All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial.” As applied to biblical interpretation, just because a passage can be interpreted a certain way does not mean it is beneficial to do so. Sin is generally defined as “missing the mark,” and there are many different synonyms used for it in the Bible—lawlessness, transgressions, iniquity, etc., all with various nuances.

Regardless of your view of any sexual perversion, it will fall within one of those categories which makes them all sinful. There is no interpretation of the Bible which allows for anything else and it is a misinterpretation to say otherwise. However, homosexuality is not the end-all sin, as only one has that distinction (Matthew 12:32) and homosexuality isn’t it. In fact, if you were to rank homosexuality by number of mentions, it would fall rather short of such sexual sins as adultery and divorce, ranging somewhere between incest and bestiality in regards to references.

That’s the hard truth, but it’s not the only one. In the same way that the fundamental law of gravity is superseded by the aerodynamic law of lift and thrust, the answer to sin is not condemnation but resurrection (John 3:16, 17). Whether or not you interpret homosexuality as a transgression, an iniquity, a poor lifestyle choice, or an unfortunate twist of genetics which predisposes one to religious stigmatization, the answer to all sin, homosexuality or any other, is still Jesus Christ and His crucifixion.

In other words, you do not have to beat someone over the head in order to convince them that Jesus is the answer—they likely already want what He alone can offer. And, whether or not they think He can or should deliver them from homosexuality, our job remains unchanged: proclaim the Good News to all people. The Good News is not that our human weaknesses turn out to be acceptable before God, but that divine grace has awarded us the nature of Christ which manifests the strongest in our weakness. The power of Christ rests upon the homosexual as surely as upon the adulterer. No matter how you or your pastor choose to phrase it, be sure that is the faith which is demonstrated in every word and deed.

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