O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
s it just me or does it seem as though too many preterists are isolated? I have tried twice to fit in at futurist churches. Twice now I have been disinvited because of my preterism--even though I was not trying to proselytize and I did not speak in opposition to the pastor. I communicated my beliefs with him alone. One pastor shunned me and kicked me out of the Kingdom (as if that's possible). The other has been more kind because my family members (futurists) also attend the church, which is very creedal and REFORMED. He wants to keep communication with me open because he is deeply concerned for my soul (he considers me part of a cult).
I am once again without a church. I will no longer attend any futurist church. I live in the Kansas City, Kansas area, but I have had a difficult time finding other preterists. I understand that Tony Denton has a directory of some kind but I have not seen it.
It seems as though there should be an easier way of connecting. I am certain that there MUST BE other preterists in an area this big. Please pray for fellowship for me. Thanks.
I pray for you to get fellowship with other Preterists as soon as possible.
Thanks, Stairway To Heaven. I suspect that I am not the only isolated preterist out there. There needs to be a better type of networking. We cannot hope to start local fellowships if preterists can't find each other!
I, too, have had to break fellowship this year with our home church after 16 years or more of membership there. Just as in your case with your last church, my pastor was very kind, but much concerned that I am making an idol of Preterism at the expense of fellowship with other believers. Like you, I have tried for 4 years to blend in and serve unobtrusively and not make issues, but have found that it is impossible to fellowship with a muzzle firmly in place. Preterism has given me such a joy and a confidence in Christ as a promise-fulfilling God, that it feels literally painful NOT to share this with others. I have not felt such a close connection to my Father and His word since I experienced a revival in my own faith at 15 yrs. old, and have decided to choose fellowship with Christ over fellowship with church members, such as it was. It just seemed very odd to me that the main purpose the church was gathering for - fellowship around study of the Word of God - was actually discouraged when it came to anything that would shake the traditions or dare to question them. If one cannot submit to the leaders under these strictures, then it is best to depart if the situation doesn't appear to be changing. My husband is still there at this church, since they ordained him as an assistant pastor 5 years ago after he finished seminary. He is Southern Baptist, reformed, and holds to the historicist position, without sharing much at all of my eschatological beliefs.
As for finding those like-minded to connect with, God has always preserved a remnant of 7,000 in every generation who follow hard after Him, and "have not bowed the knee to Baal". I pray that you find some. In the meantime, the internet is a real blessing. It doesn't take much observation to see that this generation is in a transition period. The staunch, tradition-bound church types are becoming outnumbered by those who have grown up in a vacuum without much or any scriptural instruction at all. In one respect, this is pitiful, but in another, a blank slate is much easier to inscribe truth on without having to erase a bunch of error. I am very vocal with my own adult children, and you, too, may find that a younger, untutored generation is more receptive to you than your peers when it comes to Preterism. We may have to wait until the older "Scofield" generation's influence passes away to get a real breakthrough in these matters. Rather like the Exodus generation passing away in the wilderness to make way for their children to inherit the land.
Thanks for the encouraging words, Patricia. You understand what it means to have a futurist spouse. I have to try to get past the hurt of knowing my family members (except for one preterist son) belong to a church whose pastor considers me a cultist and a heretic and who is concerned for my soul. The sad thing is that my children do not even want to discuss the issues. The youngest does not even KNOW the issues. She is content with her friendships and is not interested in going beyond the basics at this point. She does not see the significance of it all. We still have a very close relationship--I just have to leave my preterism on the shelf! Part of me does not WANT them to look into it. When I consider the loneliness and rejection experienced by many preterists, I ALMOST want them to live in blissful ignorance where they have friends and fellowship. ALMOST! The hardest thing to accept is that my husband (a partial futurist-aka partial preterist) is comfortable under the teaching of a pastor who considers his wife a cultist and heretic. When I questioned him about that, he said, "Can't I like both?" I expressed that as member of that church, HE should be concerned about my soul, and HE should be doing all that he can to "save" me from my "heresy." He chooses to go along to get along. It is hurtful because I KNOW that if he cared enough to study the issues, he would become a full preterist. How do I get beyond feeling that I am not worth the effort?
I spent three hours with the pastor before I agreed to leave the church before he had to take action. I could see that doing so would have brought him much pain and discomfort. We expressed our love for each other, and I could tell that he is genuinely concerned about me. I was actually pained as I saw the anguish on his face when I expressed my views. He told me that he considered me no different than a JW and that my views placed me outside of orthodoxy (he used that term a lot) and dangerously outside of the body of Christ. He said that he wants to keep communication open and he willingly accepted my gift of Alan Bondar's, Reading The Bible Through New Covenant Eyes. His reaction was much different from that of a former pastor who shunned me and refuses to discuss anything with me. His CREEDS have condemned me so there is no need to open the Bible!
It is sad to me that there are so many preterists who are isolated from one another. I feel as though we must find some way of gathering together or the growth of the truths of preterism will be seriously hindered. Together we stand; divided we fall! I find it difficult to believe that "I" am the only preterist in the Kansas City area. HOW do we find each other? I am especially concerned for my preterist son. He is 30 years old, unmarried, and in need of fellowship with like-minded believers.
Sometimes I feel like Elijah. But he was wrong about his isolation; I hope that I am as well.
Thanks again, Patricia, for taking the time to write. It helped greatly. "Let God be true and every man a liar."
Yours sister in Christ, Judy
Hi again Judy,
The similarity in our experiences would be laughable if they weren't so poignant. I also spent 3 hours across a table from the pastor trying one last time to express just why I considered this issue so indispensable to my life in Christ. One of the main hurdles that just can't be overcome by these we are trying to convince is that they think there is a lack of physical evidence for what we are believing. I mean, it is rather like trying to convince Doubting Thomas that Jesus has arisen. I hear exactly the same language from them: "Except I can put my finger on an ostraca with a date stamp of AD 70 on it, and thrust my arm into a pile of papyrus scrolls with this evidence on them, I will not believe." The testimony of Christ's words themselves should be enough for us, and I find it astounding that those who are leading congregations could use this as an excuse to reject these beliefs. "Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed", Christ said.
There is one thing that helps me with this feeling of isolation, and that is that I have ALWAYS felt isolated. First, by a childhood raised under parental Calvinist teaching while sitting in a Christian Fundamentalist school system with zero friends to connect with. Later on by living through military deployments with my husband gone much of the time. Still later on by surviving 16 years of what could only be called a cult church with extremely squelching doctrines regarding women and their "position". By now, I'm used to being the oddball. If you find that you simply have to connect with someone regarding these things, you may want to try the route I used, and HIRE someone to listen to you. After a half a year or more, that woman I speak with on a semi-weekly basis has been exposed to more Preterist views than anybody in this city. It helps me vent, and prevents me from engaging in fruitless , heated discussions with my spouse, which go nowhere and profit no one. Christ feels closer to me now than any husband could be anyway, and I am clinging to Him and His Word daily.
And I wouldn't be discouraged that Preterism might fizzle. Just like Gamaliel testified in Acts 5, "If this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought; But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it..." Truth has a life of its own that refuses to be put down. Personal example here: out of the blue, God led an older man to visit our church a couple years ago that, with a few pointed, full-preterist comments, got me started on a couple major full-preterist studies that blew the covers off my Bible and opened it wide to my understanding. Then he promptly was hit with major surgery and was never able to attend regularly again, to my vast disappointment. But it was exactly what was needed to propel my preterist understanding further forward at the time. I believe a God that is capable of raising up children of Abraham out of the stones at His feet is perfectly capable of creating preterist believers out of thin air. It's just a matter of His timing.
Wow, we really do have a lot in common, Patricia. My husband recently retired as a LTC Army chaplain after 30 years. He was rarely home, so I pretty much raised our five children myself. Even when he was home, he was so busy he had little time to spare. He is now involved in a residency in a teaching hospital and is training to specialize in working with transplant patients and their families. Very noble and needful occupation, but once again, he will be consumed by his job.
Actually, I am not concerned that preterism will fizzle--truth always endures. My concern is with the rate of its growth. If we do not someone come together in local communities and let our presence by known, how will we be found by those seeking truth? When I spoke to the pastor who disfellowshipped me, he used my inability to find local fellowship as a condemnation of preterism. If it were founded in truth as I claimed, why was I having so much trouble finding others with whom to fellowship. He used this fact as a warning to me that what I believe is false.
Also, I have a 30-year-old son who needs to associate with other young people. He is the only other preterist in my family. It is not difficult for me to continue on my own, but he is a young man looking for a future soul mate of like beliefs. He is not content with watching YouTube videos, although he faithfully does that on Sundays and other times.
If there are not a good number of preterists in the Kansas City metro area, then I fail to see this great proliferation of preterism so many FPs keep talking about. I have been given e-mail addresses of preterists who are supposedly in this area (e.g. Joseph Vincent), but I have not heard back from any of them. Where is everyone? I'm trying not to get an Elijah complex!
Patricia, have you found local fellowship? Tony Denton has a preterist registry with nationwide preterist. Maybe some are in your area. We are in Texas. TJ Smith
Thank you for your concern on this - I did check into Tony Denton's page where he had a contact email address for submitting one's name and email address to network with other Preterists, but for some reason my computer won't allow me to access his email. I bookmarked the page for checking into it again later. Maybe it's just a glitch.
Dr. Kenneth Gentry (who I believe attends a church in Conestee near me) also has a short list of Preterist-leaning churches on his website, "Postmillennial worldview", and I think a couple of them are fairly close to where I live.
The problem with locating a church to fellowship with is that I am not only Preterist with Calvinistic beliefs but I am also convinced that God has always intended to include women in the teaching ministry also. I believe that the "office" of being a pastor is a mistranslation, and that the pulpit has turned into a gross distortion of the more understated shepherding type of overseer role that God intended it to be. The book of II John which was written to a woman leading a church fellowship in her home is only one example in the New Testament of a woman filling this role. Considering the district I live in, with churches that are more or less comfortable with the patriarchal system in place, my beliefs on this subject leave me very little option for fellowship with likeminded believers. Frankly, I would be content with a little store-front assembly or even an in-home church group that has no huge edifice to maintain, with the complications and expenses of staffing that naturally accompany a large church building.
In the meantime, I post comments regularly every week on a few websites that you might also be familiar with. (On Adam Maarschalk's Pursuing Truth site - who I salute for his patience with me - I post comments under my real name. Most of my writing goes under the intentionally anonymous username "3 Resurrections" on the gracecentered Christian forums, where Preterist comments are allowed, but heavily opposed. I believe I have recognized some of Judy Peterson's past comments there also. Dr. Gentry will occasionally put up some of my comments on his site after moderation, but naturally, he restricts most replies to those that are sympathetic with his views.)
In spite of the price I have paid with reduced local fellowship over the past five years or so, I couldn't possibly wish to return to the state of ignorance that I was in before I encountered Preterism on the pages of scripture. Truth may bring you loneliness, but there is no substitute for the sense of peace it gives when you can understand what the Word of God is really saying.
Blessings as you worship in Texas, TJ !
Judy, have you found local fellowship? What city are you in? Tony Denton has a nationwide preterist registry that might include people in your area. My wife and I are in Texas and feel your pain, but you are not alone. Blessings, TJ Smith
I am still looking, TJ.
It took me a few years but I no longer feel the need to attend a pre-70ad temple conveniently called a church building, putting yourself under the authority of a pre-70ad pharisaical priest who now calls himself a pastor, being told “what” you must believe just like they did pre-70ad so that you are saved from the already fulfilled pre-70ad wrath to come, pre-70ad tithing (did you ever hear a sermon about not being under the law yet they keep coming back to tithing and the percentage you need to give?), listening to pre-70ad sermons, ad nauseam.
“God is spirit, and his worshippers “must” worship in the Spirit and in truth.” You can’t do that within a pre-70ad system. It’s impossible, or you will be the one to compromise “that truth.” Or you’ll go nuts just being there. I left and never felt better.
God created us with a natural need and desire to commune with one another. Furthermore, to intentionally isolate one's self from the body is to prevent one from aiding others and knowing the needs of his brothers and sisters in Christ.
I am sorry you had such a bad experience, but I do not want to judge all gatherings by one bad outcome. I do not agree that one cannot worship God in Spirit and in truth in a pre-AD 70 "system." All true worship is in Spirit no matter where someone is. I am not looking for the traditional "church" setting. I am simply looking to fellowship with other preterists. You appear to not understand the ramifications and the far-reaching biblical scope of full preterism. Preterist churches, where the Bible is accurately and faithfully taught, cannot avoid teaching preterism. It is not some peripheral doctrine that can be divorced from preaching in order to concentrate on other issues. It permeates the Scriptures and cannot be avoided. Yes, there are other topics that can be addressed (e.g. marriage relationships, interpersonal relationships, child rearing), but ultimately they fall under the umbrella of the preterist paradigm.
Furthermore, I have a 30-year-old, single preterist son who is in need of friendships and fellowship with other like-minded young people. Having been booted from futurist churches unjustly and unbiblically, we seek association with those who will uphold us and encourage us to study the Scriptures as good Bereans. We seek communion with those not enslaved to creeds and church tradition.
By the way, I have not heard one preterist pastor insist on tithing. Where have you attended?
Again, I am sorry for your bad experience, but isolation is not the answer. We are a BODY--each member bringing something needful and helpful for the health of the whole.
The following is one of my favorite poems that I feel is very appropriate to this discussion. I hope you like it.
NO MAN IS AN ISLAND - John Donne
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.