A Hyperpreterist Replies…Sort Of

Mike Sullivan, the hyperpreterist against whom I wrote the Romans 8 article has replied to me…sort of. There is really only a few things of substance. However, I wanted to give you an idea of the rhetoric that you hear from these folks.

Here is Mike Sullivan’s first response:

Uh, maybe you might want to read the lead article off of my site which deals with Romans 8 instead of trying to interact with an article that really is addressing Daniel 12/Matt. 13/Matt. 24?

You might also want to be honest in that “hyper-preterists” aren’t making the parallels between Matthew 24/Luke 21 and Romans 8/1 Cor. 15/1 Thess. 4-5, we are just agreeing with Reformed theologians in their “Scripture interprets Scripture” hermeneutic. AND we are agreeing with “orthodox” partial preterists that interpret Matthew 24/Luke 21 as fulfilled in AD 70. Your article is either ignorance of the exegetical and historical facts or just willful deception.

Well, there you go. If you disagree with someone, you are just ignorant of the facts or just engaging in willful deception. First of all, hyperpreterists do not interpret scripture with scripture. I will have a full article coming out on this soon, but the important thing to remember is that scripture is written in human language. There are many aspects to human language, and, when you isolate context, grammar, structure, syntax, cotext, authorial context, audience context, historical background etc. from one of the texts, then you are not taking the entirity of the text of scripture, but are isolating certain aspects of the language in order to pull out of it what you want. That is not using scripture to interpret scripture, but is a totally arbitrary hermeneutic that can be used to prove practically anything you want.

Now, anyone who has read my article knows that I am making a linguistic and exegetical attack on hyperpreterism. Of course, my point was not to give a complete response to the whole article, but to illustrate a common exegetical fallacy that hyperpreterists do, in fact, commit. In fact, I go on to give a linguistic critique of that very procedure. Had Mr. Sullivan actually read my article, he would have known that.

He also wrote this note to me:

Carson is listed as a source of authority in your article. Does Carson make parallels between Matthew 24:30-31 and 1 Thess. 4:15-17 (D.A. Carson, “Matthew,” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Espositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 vols., 8:489)? I am excited to discuss the use of “parallels” with you, Roderick and Dee Dee – to see how you will graciously and most importantly EXEGETICALLY lead me out of my “heretic” status.

If you take the time to read the CONTEXT of my Romans 8 article, you would see that I’m BUILDING upon the observation made by John Murray that the redemption of Luke 21 is the same redemption of Romans 8. You also use as a source in your article the WCF, so please address John Lightfoot’s (a major contributor to the WCF) view that Romans 8 is not addressing the physical planet – which you claim is “obvious.”

Like I said, you are just ignorant of these things or just willfully misrepresented the facts to the limited audience you are seeking to refute my position to.

This is about the only thing Mike wrote of substance, and, again, one has to wonder if he has read my article because he keeps making the exact same mistakes.

First of all, who said I had to agree with Lightfoot? Very good scholars can say very dumb things. Just look at the theory that says that the lamed with the verb “to be” in Genesis 1:14 means “to become a division.” However, it is absolutely grammatically impossible as the inifinitive construct of badal is not feminine! And yet, some very good scholars hold this view. Also, notice that Mr. Sullivan provides us with no quotation. We cannot even go back and check to see if he is right about Lightfoots position.

Also, of course, the citation of Carson is irrelevant, given that Carson gives a different exegesis of the Olivet Discourse than do hyperpreterists [not familiar with Murray’s position, but it would not surprise me if he likewise took a different interpretation of Matthew 24]! Again, this is basic, fundamental semantics. When you have a disagreement about what the original cotext of your target text is referring to, it is going to effect how you understand parallels. Not only that, but Mr. Sullivan also showed that he didn’t read my article, in that he also did not get the fact that I can even agree that there are parallels between Matthew 24 and Romans 8, but that does not mean they are talking about the same thing. That is the point. I said that parallels need to be thought of in terms of a ven diagram, with one circle representing the meaning of the one text, and another circle representing the meaning of the second text. Where those two circles overlap, and only where those two circles overlap can you say they are referring to the same thing. However, to push the two circles together as if they are referring to the same thing just because there are parallels is, again, the exegetical fallacy of parallelomania.

For example, I am friends with a family that uses references to short lines from movies a whole lot. They are very clearly creating parallels to phrases and words stated in movies. However, does that mean that they are saying that we are in the movie, actually wearing the same clothes, and going through the same motions as the actors? Of course not. They are using the parallels to show overlap between the situation in life, and the situation in the movie, and other times just simply for comic relief. Indeed, even the way parallels are used can have multiple usages. Even that has to be defined by the context of the original text.

The simple fact of the matter is that the Bible is written in human language, and the procedures that Mike Sullivan and other hyperpreterists use to interpret scripture could not be used to interpret any other document. When you have to arbitrarily treat the text of scripture in a way that you would not treat any other document, that should tell you that your interpretative methodology is flawed.

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