The Preterist View Heresy (I)
About a year ago Brother Max King, of Warren, Ohio, came out with his new book, entitled The Spirit Of Prophecy, advocating a Preterist-View of prophecy. This teaching has caused a mild furor among the liberal brethren (as respects institutionalism and centralization) wherever it has had a hearing. The following series of articles will review this novel doctrine, as set forth in a series of lectures by King before the Brookwood Way church of Christ, Mansfield, Ohio, in the summer of 70 (a taped recording of which I have), in several presentations which he and C. D. Beagle made before groups of liberal preachers last year (71) (and also recorded), and in Kings book. In this series I will use footnote1 to refer to the recorded series in Mansfield, footnote2 to the tape-recording of the discussions before several "preachers meetings" last summer, and A- (plus a number) to refer to his book and page, number.
The word "preterit" means past. I am told that he used "preterit" or "preterist" in his series at Brookwood Way; perhaps he did. However, it aptly describes his doctrine: all prophecy is fulfilled and there is no event yet future from today referred to in the Scriptures. So, there will be no future, physical resurrection of bodies from the grave, no coming of Christ in judgment, no future place called "heaven" to enter. Everything is in the past, as of A.D. 70, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem!
King once preached as we still do whom he calls "A.D. 33 Advocates," A-208 with a "Pentecost view." A-207 He should not object, then, to our referring to his Preterist-View, kind to his being an A.D. 70 Advocate!
After setting forth Kings novel doctrine, by quoting from his speeches and writings, this series will discuss Pauls allegory of Gal. 4 which allegory King perverts beyond what the apostle Paul would recognize! Doing some additional allegorizing of his own, King takes his perversion of Pauls allegory and makes it the premise of his Preterist-View heresy. So much is his perversion of Pauls allegory essential to his view of prophecy that he has said: "That allegory of Paul, Gal. 4, is rich in giving us the key of the Bible, changing from the fleshly to spiritual. It is the key passage because here we come from Ishmael to Isaac. And when are we going to come to Isaac? at the fall of this world (pointing to his chart and referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, A. D. 70-BHR) and bringing in the new." "This allegory of Paul, its living-its good!"
King affirms: "Throughout the brotherhood I have found a tremendous change to this view." Maybe his adjective is a little strong, but what false doctrine has ever wanted for adherents? It has already caused trouble near the area of my labors.
Following the treatment of the Gal. 4 allegory, I will take up some different aspects of Kings doctrine and examine them. We will notice how he plays on words throughout his presentations, making subtle shifts from one word to another, leaving the impression that such and such passages are talking about what he is! I will give some examples of his misrepresentations of our positions. I will discuss some of the passages which he considers his big guns, and they will be spiked! We will read sonic of his pitiful explanations of texts so obviously against his heresy. There is so much to expose! As a friend remarked to me: "It would take a whole year to answer all the error in that book!" I have no intention of burdening this publication with an endless review of the innumerable errors of Kings book, so, at the close of this series, if anyone would care to communicate with me on any given point in his teaching, I would be happy to offer any help that I can, from copious notes taken on more than 200 passages presented by him in his presentations.
Throughout the book King broadcasts a host of scripture-references, which impresses the unwary. I have just taken a random sample of ten pages and find on each one an average of fourteen passages cited! Yet, he runs silent on references when occasionally the consequences of his doctrine are pressed. For example, "Where does man go today when he experiences physical death? A-179 On the next page he cites 1 Cor. 15:57, but he is committed to apply that text to the "victory" realized by A.D. 70! A-202 His impressive array of texts reminds us of the tactic of the Baptist debater in presenting a long list of texts on "faith", in support of his proposition of salvation by "faith only." It looks good, but what does it prove?
King is cautious as he addresses himself to the task of implanting his doctrine in the minds of his brethren. He is well aware of how foreign is his doctrine to the "traditional" view ("It may be a different concept than is traditional A-204 Maybe, indeed!). Throughout the book such expressions as the following are employed: "there seems to be," "if this be the meaning" (referring to his own conclusion!), "it is only reasonable to assume," ..... this hardly seems reasonable" (Objecting to his opponents position), "seems fairly obvious", "if this view is correct," "the thought or idea seems to be", "the N.T. seems to deal with," "quite likely," "it appears," "as intimated," "it seems to be dealing," "seems more agreeable," "may be intended," etc. Would King use such terms in a debate with a Baptist teacher on the essentiality of baptism for the remission of sins? Now, can you imagine Kings referring to a position purportedly taken by us and then saying to us, "Proof, please"? A-85 But of his own positions it suffices to speak thusly, "The author believes so." A-94 He must have proof, but we should content ourselves with his "think-sos."
Kings doctrine, like all false doctrines (e.g., the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, the "societies" of the denominations, the "sponsoring-church" of our erring brethren, etc.) must have a specially created vocabulary, or lingo. He invents phrases and employs them as if they were obvious in the references cited. He speaks of Christs "hidden divinity," A-108 "times of Christ," A-98 "raise up to its rightful place" A-144 (in reference to "deliver up," 1 Cor. 15:24), "undelivered kingdom eternal or delivered kingdom," A-202 "resurrection of the saints into their own land," A-173 "full heritage in their new heaven and earth," A-215 etc.
Take from him his "King-size" convenience of special vocabulary and lingo, and his case becomes hopeless. So important is this necessity that he begins his book, giving his reasons for the constant use throughout the book of the terms "spiritual" and "literal." Monotonously lie speaks of "spiritual" versus "literal, 11 although lie himself admits that these two terms are not true opposites! "The two methods of interpretation that will receive primary consideration are the literal and the spiritual. The literalists object to making literal opposed to spiritual because in true definition (emphasis mine-BHR) literal does not necessarily imply material or non-material states. But the same problem exists with reference to the term figurative, which is the true opposite of literal . . . Thus, the advocates of literalism" King does not say "the literal method"-BHR) do not want their material concepts represented by the term literal, and the advocates of the spiritual method (King does not say "spiritualism," and so throughout his book he subtly switches terms-BHR) do not want their non-material concepts represented by the term figurative." A- 1
The true opposite of "spiritual" is "material," and of "literal," "figurative." King admits it. Furthermore, he concedes: "It is not the writers purpose, however, to . . . imply that material things are by nature opposed to spiritual things." A-8 But King is going to push his doctrine by consistently throughout the book making literal mean material, and spiritual mean non-material; and that, regardless! If one does not accept his "spiritual" interpretation, then by implication he is dwelling in the flesh and is materialistically minded. King never finds "spiritual" opposite "literal" in the Scriptures, but after quoting texts that contrast "flesh," for example, he immediately reverts to "spiritual" versus literal," and that for a purpose! This effort is designed to deny any literal resurrection, judgment day, and a place called heaven to be entered at a time future from today!
King attaches to his chosen terms his own peculiar meanings and then plies the minds of his hearers and readers with them hoping by this bit of psychology to lead their thinking to his conclusions. He plays with words constantly throughout his speeches and book. We will try to find space in these articles to cite a number of examples). He quotes texts using such terms as "world," "earth" "land," and "age," and runs them together to suit his purpose, ignoring the different Greek words from which they are taken. He likes the KJV of the Scriptures, when the English words lend themselves to his suggestions, but leaves it for Berrys Interlinear Greek N. T (word-for-word translation) when that suits him. He indeed (and with admitted capability) has employed many devices of sophistication in the composition of his book.
In the next article we will quote him, to set forth a summary of what the Preterist-View of prophecy is all about, and then we will deal with his perversion of Pauls allegory, Gal. 4, Rt. 3
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 9, pp. 5-7