David Green's response to Keith Mathison:


Thank you for forwarding me your brief comments on Preterism and the Ecumenical Creeds. Thank you also for your willingness to interact on this issue. Forgive me that in this brief response I repeat some of the arguments that were in my article; I do so only because, to my understanding, the arguments have not yet been sufficiently addressed by any of the creedalists.

As I understand what you wrote, the creedalists' (and your) position essentially is this:

Because preterism changes a teaching of the historic Church regarding an essential, non-negotiable doctrine (the Resurrection), preterism must necessarily be a damnable lie.

I do agree that preterism changes a teaching of the historic Church regarding an essential, non-negotiable doctrine, but I do not agree with the necessity of the conclusion, that preterism must be an error. Here's why:

An error about an essential, non-negotiable doctrine may be damnable, but such an error is not necessarily damnable. Some errors regarding the Resurrection are not, in themselves, damnable (for example, "Rapture Fever," date-setting, etc.)

But in using that argument I am not saying that preterism "can be considered a non-damnable error." (Indeed, if consistent futurism is true then preterism is damnable. --II Tim. 2:16-18) Instead, I am saying that futurism can possibly be a non-damnable error. (For if preterism is true, that does not mean that futurism is necessarily damnable.)

Since not all errors that touch upon the Resurrection are inescapably damnable, and since non-damnable errors can exist in the historic Church and in her Creeds, as we agree, and since (more importantly) the grammatical-historical exegesis of Scripture is offering strong support for preterism, then futurism could possibly be a non-fatal, historic Church error.

Ergo, preterism could be true, and the only way to determine if it is, is by "the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture" (WC of F, Chapter I, Section X).

At what point do you perceive the above reasoning to fail?

[Keith Mathison]
...then on what grounds could we say that denials of the Trinity or the deity of Christ are more than non-damnable errors?

Andrew Sandlin has asked a similar question:

"If we can jettison this aspect of Christianity [the physical Parousia/Resurrection], why not jettison the doctrine of the Trinity, or of Christ's death for our sins?" (Andrew Sandlin, A Statement from Chalcedon on Walt Hibbard's Position Concerning "Full" Preterism)

I have a similar question for the creedalists:

How do we know that Christ shed His blood for us, and that it is essential for our salvation that we trust in His blood for remission, justification, redemption and life? (Note: The blood of Christ is not mentioned in the Ecumenical Creeds; it is only mentioned in Scripture --Jn. 6:53; Rom. 3:25; 5:9; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:22: "...without shedding of blood is no remission.").

When the creedalists answer that question, then perhaps they will be more receptive to the preterists' scriptural answer to Andrew Sandlin's question.

By the way, the Deity of Christ is also authoritatively taught, implicitly and explicitly, throughout the Scriptures (as you know). If you have time you may want to see my article on the overwhelming Scriptural testimony concerning the Deity of Christ, at:


The exegetical case for futurism however, is weak ...at best. The creedalists demonstrate that this is so by their refusal (inability) to disprove preterism with the Scriptures.

[Keith Mathison]
...Mr. Green writes, "The basis upon which the creedalists have categorically rejected preterism (and preterists) is arbitrary: The creedalists unauthoritatively assert that God would not allow His Church to make a serious, non-damnable creedal error. Then from that assertion, they unauthoritatively pronounce preterism a damnable heresy." This is an inaccurate statement as should be evident from the previous statements.

The creedalists presuppose that the Creeds absolutely cannot contain a serious, non-damnable error. Is that not one of the creedalists' presuppositions? If it is, the creedalists have no biblical support for that belief. Yet, it is upon that baseless supposition that they condemn us.

Therefore the creedalists' standard for condemning their brothers is unauthoritative. This means that the creedalists are in sin --possibly in a particularly odious sin (Matt. 5:22; I Jn. 4:20).

[Keith Mathison]
I would obviously disagree with Mr. Green's assertion that the only way the debate will ever be resolved is through Scriptural exegesis and reasoning.

Thank you again for writing me, Keith Mathison.


In your main paper you write, "We are not free to refute or nullify any of the cardinal elements of the Christian Faith." But in your most recent response [to Keith Mathison] you wrote, "I do agree that preterism changes a teaching of the historic Church regarding an essential, non-negotiable doctrine..."

What exactly do you perceive as the difference between a "cardinal element of the Christian faith" (which you say we cannot reject) and an "essential, non-negotiable doctrine" (which you say preterists have rejected)?

I was making a distinction between a cardinal element of the Faith, and a teaching of the Church about a cardinal element of the Faith.

The Church is inescapably in possession of the non-negotiable, cardinal elements of the Faith; but it is possible that the historic Church may, for a time, teach non-fatal errors about some of those cardinal elements.

Preterists acknowledge that the Parousia and the Resurrection are definitely non-negotiable, cardinal elements, but preterists are proposing that futurism is a non-fatal, historic Church-error that has been taught about those cardinal elements.

Since it is possible that the Church can teach non-damnable error, and since the preterists are saying that futurism is a non-damnable error, the Church is drawn to go to the Scriptures to prove or disprove the preterists' charge against futurism.

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