This article was orginally published in TFC Magazine at TFCMag.com.
A couple years ago, at the first Annual Bible Conference at Blue Point Bible Church (January 2014), I met a gentleman named Donald Perry. He mentioned that he wrote a book and held to an understanding that while it acknowledged the efforts of Preterism (which I hold to in regards to eschatology, and as a proper method of understanding Bible prophecy), it was different in the approach of how fulfillment applies to our lives.
Within recent months, now 2016, Mr. Perry gave me a call to remind me about reading his book and considering his position, and ….am I open to possible debate. I’ve debated before of course, however I have recently come to a ‘new perspective’ on debates – which all too often seem like a “I’m right, your wrong”, silly conversation of completing missing and talking past each others points, rather than honest conversation and willingness to challenge one’s position in light of a different perspective. So…I’m not too sure I want to debate Mr. Perry. Especially after my most recent debate which for my “opponent in debate” seemed to be a host of academic and intellectual dishonesty. See for yourself by watching the debate on Youtube,http://www.preteristdoctrine.com/category/16/miano-whitsett-debate
I didn’t really feel that it was fruitful or edifying to anyone. Save maybe me. I like how Mr. Perry explained a proper outlining of our views in his book, wherein he said, “It is through the gathering of opposing argument such as in a court room, and not being too quick to judge, that the truth will appear to be correctly plausible. If one thinks they are correct, they are always susceptible to error until they themselves have first tested it to see if it is true”.
I took the time out last week to read through Mr. Perry’s book, Redirectional Idealism. I was able to get through it by marking out at least 4 hours of reading time in 3 days. I would say as an overall review the book had a bumpy start since it just jumped right into dealing with the details and doctrine of “Soteriology” – the study of Salvation by Grace and Election to be specific. I’m usually the guy that get’s frustrated when I hear a message that does not support it’s point by first creating a foundation for clarity and understanding.
However, when I met Mr. Perry, I remember some of his points being similar, which rather than “bash” him, I appreciate. He is a thinking man, and wants to demonstrate various points by citing their truth, which he does in person, as well as very ‘pointedly’ in his opening chapters of ‘Readirectional Idealism’.
For example, he makes statements like:
“As long as you are your own savior your salvation is not in God’s hands, and you are making yourself out to be God”.
“Election is “not of him that wills” (Romans 9:16). not of the will of man but of God”.
And then he goes on to talk through the details of repentance as a manner of life, Paul’s heritage, Election of the nations, Limited free will of man and other great doctrinal points.
All throughout my copy of ‘Redirectional Idealism’, you will find asterisks, underlining, and notes – sometimes question marks or a “huh?”, however many times a “well done” or “amen”. So all in all, a good read, if you are mining the read for good parts.
All that noted, I am not necessarily a fan of the ‘Idealist’ position. Many-a-times, when discussing the Bible with those who hold to the position of “Idealism”, I find myself confused and not getting clarity on how the details could find fulfillment, and yet still be viewed and followed as unfulfilled. I believe I will qualify some of my reservations in the rest of this review. Maybe….these points will be clarified by Mr. Perry in another forum, and I will gladly follow up through Youtube video and my radio show at www.MianoGoneWild.com. Matter of fact, I will be asking Mr. Perry if he will join me on an upcoming series looking at the different “Flavors of Preterist Thought” coming in late July 2016 on MGW Online Radio. Keep your eye out for that.
Redirectionalism claims to be “Absolute Orthodox Idealism” which when broken down into a basic explanation is a claim to be the right belief on ‘idealism’ which is a rather varied and confusing philosophical perspective. You can read more at this link,http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_idealism.html
In his book, Mr. Perry explains his view of “Redirectionalism” in this manner:
“In short, we believe them (the Apostles), that we are to follow their example and not some newly invented eschatology or idea that we make up after A.D. 70. We believe we are redirected by the Apostles to follow them, and I think it is still possible to do that.”
“Our generation is redirected to live as those to whom the NT was addressed, understanding our New Testament consummated in Christ at the cross. Our lives are to be lived out like unto the maturity of the church as it was in the generation Christ spoke of, unto a perfect witness and unto His coming and His kingdom”.
“Why should any Christian have a problem with following the Apostles’ example?”
In these details I would tend to agree with Mr. Perry’s sentiments. I sense subtle “stabs” at various efforts that have explained “How Shall We Live” after A.D. 70 in Mr. Perry’s tone. I would say each person on the Earth needs to be “redirected” or maybe ‘restored’ to follow the proper way of man – manifesting dominion and living life to the full (might we say “restored” to the reality of the Garden of Eden).
It seems our differences shown their head when we begin to understand the “goal” or what would be called the “telos” in Greek. This term is used to detail what the ‘end all’ goal of Christ’s work was intended to be. The glorious reality of the New Covenant Body of Christ! The New Covenant. The Kingdom of God manifested through the Church (cf. Ephesians 3:15).
Mr. Perry in talking about salvation makes the remark, “…this has already taken place in some sense”, and then goes on to say, “Our conclusions result in an interpretation that salvation is “already but not yet” (Luke 10:18) process for each individual and the church the exact same way it was for those who lived during the generation of Christ”.
Are we to continually repeat the first century events, or has the completion of Christ’s work from the sacrifice on the cross, to His coming as the worthy eternal High Priest in AD 70 (cf. Hebrews 9:28) established a greater reality? In reading the Book of Hebrews it would seem that the “already but not yet” reality was to be consummated and invite in a greater ‘bodily reality’. This is where ‘Idealism’ loses me because it wants us to continually repeat a cycle (kind of, but not really), instead of relishing in its completion and what that establishes. That seems rather frustrating in my opinion.
I do get the point though. It is common and popular in Christianity to try and live as much like the ‘apostolic generation’ in an effort to be pleasing to God. I myself have taken up efforts to live in this manner in many regards- even considering what it called ‘new monasticism’ to go back to the “go and sell everything” manner that characterized that generation. It’s when I took time to consider what the point of their ‘apostolic work’ was that I came to understand Preterism, the Kingdom of God, the Gospel, and so forth. Even so, marking out our difference there, when I read the completion of the “new heaven and new earth” reality in Revelation chapters 21-22, I see plenty of room in a fulfilled view (definitely different than an “already but not yet” recapitulation) for agreement with Mr. Perry in this regard – “We today must look to…..bring men out of darkness into the New Jerusalem. Those in the first generation are the example as to how to bring this about”.
Mr. Perry simply does not agree with Preterism. His view is not a view within Preterism, it is simply Futurism trying to borrow the details of Preterism (that clearly show the proof of Christ’s accomplished and fulfilled work) and mold it with a “Futurism mindset”. Mr. Perry is simply trying to offer his view of “Redirectionalism” as an alternative to some of the questions within Preterism, namely the ‘Torah to Telos’ argument between Dr. Don K. Preston and Kurt Simmons (varying views are held regarding what was accomplished at the cross and what was to await His coming – a question that would have been largely popular even in the 1st century church). Some quotes from the book in this regard were:
“The cross should be our focal point, not A.D. 70”.
“Preterist eschatology has also changed their soteriology”.
Mr. Perry even confounds his own confusion in this area when he makes the following statements:
“Everything that seperated us from God that Christ came to remove regarding our atonement was forever removed once and for all in the cross (Hebrews 1:3, 9:12, and 10:10-12). This did not happen at the destruction of the OT temple.”
Was not the ‘shifting of covenants from Old to New’ a matter of Christ eternally ‘atoning’ His people? Is not salvation a matter of atonement (cf. Hebrews 9:28)? If all was overcame at the cross, why then does Mr. Perry go on to say, ”At the end of the OT system, end of the OT temple, …the bride of Christ replaced Hagar and overcame for the perfection of the dead saints”?
Mr. Perry and others with this confusion would do well to read Dr. Preston’s 2-volume work, ‘Torah to Telos’:
All throughout the book, Mr. Perry makes some unfounded claims against Full Preterism. For example,
“And the danger of Preterism is that Preterism naturally leads to a “Heaven Now” view in which sanctification becomes a thing of the past and the believer becomes equal to Christ in unity prior to having been resurrected and separated from his flesh. This was the error of Hymenaus and Philetus spoken of in the New Testament”. Well, I for starters think that Mr. Perry’s understanding of ‘resurrection and separation from the flesh’ is rather Gnostic than Hebraic (which the hope of resurrection in the Bible was – Hebraic not Greek/ Gnostic). Also, this was not the error of Hymenaus and Philetus either – Gnosticism as a philosophical thought didn’t begin until later. Rather, the heresy of Hymenaus and Philetus was an early’Messianic Judaism’ heresy- that in Christ, Believers were still required to follow the rules of the Temple (ie., sacrifice, legalism, circumcision, separation from Gentiles in worship, etc.). This clearly violated the details of Ephesians 2:14-18.
COMING OF THE LORD/ SECOND COMING
Mr. Perry’s confusion really shows up when he begins to explain his understanding of Christ’s coming and the ‘resurrection of the dead’. One can clearly see how in his confusion, he is trying to make ‘Idealism’ a molded view between Preterism and Futurism, but in the end all it amounts to is a rather confusing “Futurism”. In one sentence in speaking about the ‘coming of the Lord’, Mr. Perry writes,
“Christ’s coming was to establish His body (the church) in the midst of the world (John 17:21, 23; Matt. 17:1-13; Daniel 9:26,27), and punish that generation that could not keep either His Old or New Covenant and killed Him, and well as His Apostles and prophets (Rev. 11:8; 18:20; Matt. 23-24)”.
In that statement he is absolutely correct. However, if at His coming He established His Body (the new glorious, incorruptible Body of His people) and judged that generation of all that was cited against them in Matthew chapter 23, was that not the “change” (Greek term alasso) that was promised? Before, I cited Mr. Perry as saying a change did not occur after the cross, and you will see in a moment I cite him saying a coming is still going to occur.
What is is? Has it occurred or not?
If it has, these statements make no sense:
Foremost our duty as Christians is to see Him who is, that when He does appear we will not be ashamed at His coming”.
“He will come again for the same reason He came to the seven churches (Malachi 3:6)”.
If He has not, then how in the world does this statement by Mr. Perry make sense?
“When we examine all the parables prior to this point in Matthew 24:3, we discover they point to that generation alone”.
So is Jesus Christ faithful, or did He deceive that generation?
RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD/ RESURRECTION OF THE BODY
Furthermore, I ask…..Is the resurrected Body of Christ (his people moved from the death of the Law to ‘eternal life’ in Him) a Spiritual Body? How is it that so many miss the reality that the ‘resurrected Body’ that was promised in Scripture is the ‘corporate body of Christ’ that was established in A.D. 70, at the judgment of the “living and the dead”. Many of the dead being raised to “eternal life” in Christ! I simply cannot understand how and where Mr. Perry finds validity in stating, “If we are in Christ, we are presently part of the quickening Spirit in glory and power, yet at the same time we still await a resurrection in the glory and power into a Spiritual body at the coming of Christ the same way the First-fruits did”.
And to further confuse us in this manner, he writes:
“Our physical resurrection is a focal point of Christ’s coming when we are perfected and Christ’s work for us as mediator ends with Yom Kippur typology”.
“Christians cannot be living in the presence of the Lord without flesh and bones…Believers do not rise from the dead without physical bodies….and that is because there is a rule in Scripture that says as it was with Christ so it will be with us, if you do not have a body, you need to get resurrected so you can ascend to the Father (Romans 6:5). When we are absent from this world, we stand before God (Hebrews 9:27-28)”.
“But yet our bodies get resurrected from the grave all at the Second coming of Christ. As Jesus had the same body before and after His resurrection, so we shall have a body like His only because of Him”.
“We have yet to be resurrected, so for us we are not yet in the fullness of the New Jerusalem”.
Again, this is simply not Preterism. In one sentence, Mr. Perry says the coming of Christ was done, then he says we are to wait for it, and he simply seems to miss the entire point of what the ‘resurrection of the dead’ was speaking of – surely not some “bodies of flesh and bones”- rather a Spiritual “body” (Greek ‘soma’ which in context of the Hebraic hope is speaking of ‘slaves to a system’ as the word means in Greek, and is expounded upon in the Old Testament).
In the latter part of his book, Mr. Perry offers a commentary on the Book of Revelation. I enjoyed reading through his great insights as I read Revelation sitting on a park bench. He makes the following point about the book itself, “What the book of Revelation is concerned with is the revelation of God about Himself, and His Bride, it is not simply the plan God has for the future”.
He only goes on to confuse us when he tries to insert his ‘idealist notions’ of us living in a “parallel generation” with the same exhortations and expectations, and that we are not wholly in the new heavens and earth yet” otherwise the commentary is surely recommended.
While I disagree with the perspective of ‘Redirectional Idealism’ as a proper way for us to interpret Scripture, all throughout the book by that title there are some great points made in reference to Preterism. It seems Mr. Perry’s concern that Preterism changes the mind and hope of the Apostles, by living in the fulfilled reality, rather than “already but not yet” frustrates his understanding of Preterism.
I surely believe, Preterism is in step with the “same conclusions as the Apostles’” (as is the goal of ‘audience relevancy’) and then therefore in the words of Mr. Perry, “…then we can rightly identify heresy and its activity in the church”.
I simply don’t think we need the seemingly confused view of “Redirectional Idealism” to “redirect the course of Christianity”, rather we restore Christianity to it’s truth and power by understanding what the Apostles were hoping for – and living in it’s fulfilled reality!
If you feel so inclined to do some further research on “Redirectional Idealism”, here is a link from Mr. Donald Perry,http://redirectionalism.com/