By Dr. Samuel M. Frost
Dedicated to Bill Evans
David Oktavec, an advocate of the one of the many growing variegations of Full Preterism taught by Ed Stevens, recently sent me a free book by Michael Biehler, Bamboozled Believers (Copyright Michael Biehler, 2015). I like books I don’t have to pay for, and am appreciative of the gift from David. It is an attempt, I suspect, to get me to see the light of Full Preterism(s). That is, since I endorsed Max King’s ‘corporate body view,’ as opposed to Stevens’ ‘individual body view,’ my version of Full Preterism was faulty, and because of that, I left. If I just had the correct version, or what some call, ‘true Full Preterism,’ I wouldn’t have left. What this kind of thinking from them assumes (and I hear this a lot), is that I am not familiar with Ed Stevens, or his view. I personally knew Stevens, and taught with him at several conferences. I actually adopted the Russell/Terry/Stevens view initially as a Full Preterist, until I read and began to know Max King.
In typical FPist fashion, the back cover of the book states that Christians (you and me, and everyone else since the first century AD) have been “bamboozled.” This error is “so big and so obvious,” the claim goes on to say, that it is a wonder how anyone missed it (stupidity, perhaps?). Taken as dogmatic assumptions, the NT writers “expected” Jesus to return withing their lifetimes, and, hence we begin as all FPist arguments begin: the “time texts.” For the FPist, the “time texts” (TTs) are the Holy Grail of any and all interpretation when it comes to NT eschatology. I often hear this from gleeful adherents of FPism, acting as if they have discovered plutonium, a treasure no one has seen until now. And, coupled with this unbridled enthusiasm, Biehler notes how “clear” this is, how simple it is. For me, however, the more “simpler” this appeal makes NT eschatology, renders the early centuries of Church theologians believers dull in understanding. That is, they got the NT Canon right, and the extreme difficulty of trinitarian theology right, but they just couldn’t understand at all what Jesus meant about coming again to judge the wicked and the righteous, and so, failing to take into consideration what “near” meant in their own Greek language, they just blindly read it into their own future. You can’t blame them since they were being persecuted by their visible government, wars were afoot, a volcano’s lava covered Pompei, and there were famines. We Christians have been blindly following them ever since, without any awareness at all of the tensions living in the world with an Invisible King would create. Biehler puts it even more forcefully: “If he did return, all of our futurist eschatologies are nonsense.” Let that sink in. All – every single one – eschatologies are nonsense except for FPism. Got that? It’s one thing to pronounce as “erroneous” a certain viewpoint among the various eschatologies Christianity has deemed tolerable, but to pronounce that every single one of them not your own are all wrong is a brazen claim. That is, I can live with (and do) brothers and sisters who hold to Dispensationalism, or Historic Premillennialism, or Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, or several graded forms of Preterism. There is a lining among these views that holds them all in the single bag of Christian eschatological hypotheses. But, the claim here is that every single one of these views are all wrong. FPism alone (well, the version Biehler teaches) is the only correct view.
What is more amazing, before we even get into the book, is that he has a quote from Atheist, Carl Sagan, from which he gets the title for the book. “We are no longer finding out the truth,” says Sagan. And Biehler adds, “Carl Sagan describes the condition of most modern-day Christians.” Get that? The Atheist god hater accurately describes the “condition” of “most” Christians you encounter, serve, love, help, pray for, and work with. Not only this, but this damnable prose is not just applied to modern-day Christians, but for the billions of Christians since the end of the first century that have come and gone. I want this claim to sink in. Let it sink in deep. Let the arrogance of this claim, the superiority of it, the dogmatism which declares that unless you believe in what Biehler is getting ready to teach you in this book, then you have been “bamboozled,” “wrong,” in great “error.” “If he did not return, the Bible is nonsense!” he says (italics mine). One wonders, then, how in the world did Christianity survive for 2000 years? Secondly, with the great successes of Christendom, capturing the West, shaping it and laying foundations for it, yet doing so under such a bamboozling error that renders the Bible as nonsense unless true, wouldn’t this render “eschatology” in general as irrelevant? I mean, did having such an erroneous, nonsensical error of whatever eschatological view one had render what noted Historian, Tom Holland, described as, ‘the most powerful of hegemonic cultural systems in the history of the world’? impotent? Folks, I have not even opened this book yet.
Right off the bat, we get the very tired urging of learning to “think outside the box” (v). Apparently, the author is not familiar with Gadamer, but I’ll let that slide. Then there is the FPist claim of being the victim of “ungodly” attacks by ministers who “feed fables” (anything not FPism) to their flocks. (The FPist desperately seeks attention and acceptance from the mainstream world of Christianity). We read that anyone not FPist is merely touting “traditions of men” over Scripture, as if that’s the way ministers think today: “You know what, I know what the Bible says, but I am going to teach traditions of men instead, because I like spoon feeding fables to the ignorant,” says Joe Minister. Biehler mentions that he and his family “have suffered” because of their calling out Christians as being in gross error, and bamboozled. Biehler has “suffered” because he demands of the Church at large to hear his claim: all of your thinking about the future is error, and if it is true, the Bible is nonsense. Mormon Founder, Joseph Smith, “suffered,” too, and eventually was shot in Carthage, Illinois. His “family” was ran out of multiple towns. They treated folks differently back then, didn’t they. Today, we live in a culture that is so “sensitive” and “victimized,” that we dare not say anything that would hurt anyone’s feelings. Well, this does not seem to apply to the FPist, however, because I daily witness on Facebook jabs, wild claims, accusations, motive-gathering, and character assassinations by FPists concerning their ignorant and blind “fellow Christians.” Tu quoque, anyone?
There is a note of progressive thinking in that Biehler claims to have a greater advantage of knowledge than those before the computer age (x). That is, “computer software makes it easier to analyze Scripture…”(x). Well, easier, yes, more knowledgeable, no. They had concordances, lexicons, analytic works of each and every word and verb form, and a thing called, ‘a Library.’ All that software has done is shrink this into a gigabyte. Same material. Second, software does not change the thinking that goes behind analysis of data. You still have to use your brain.
Right off the bat, page 1, Biehler quotes Matthew (Mat) 16.27. ‘Some of you standing here….’ We all know it. It is one of the ‘prooftexts’ of Preterists, and Full Preterists. Is this verse talking about the ‘end of the world’? Some think it is. Some don’t. I don’t. It is talking about his Ascension, which, interestingly enough, Biehler never considers (so much for thinking outside of the box). Like many, Preterists and non-Preterists, Biehler skips over Ascension. I have several commentaries, as Biehler notes some of them, that offer the Transfiguration as the ‘coming’ in 16.27. Nope. Others have the Day of Pentecost. Nope. Still others, who are not Full Preterists, have 70 CE. Nope. I was just talking to a fellow the other day, Benjamin Colson, who noted the same observance: they all skip over the Ascension. You know, the Ascension, the fulfillment of Psalm 110.1, and Psalm 2. Remarkably, there are many scholars to day seeing this problem, and noting that Daniel 7.13-14/Revelation 5 are Ascension passages, and these two passages speak of the son of man ‘coming’ (16.27, Daniel 7.13, and Revelation 5.7 all have the son of man/lamb ‘coming,’ using the same Greek verb, erchomai). Biehler never mentions this alternative interpretation, and thus easily “writes off” the others – rightly so.
While doing this, Biehler remarks on one scholar I happen to read and love: the late Henry M. Morris. Morris, as you may know, is a young earth creationist. Apparently, Biehler is, too. Bravo. However, Morris remarked that Mat 16.27 refers to the Transfiguration event. There is an important note here in the way he deals with Morris. Morris is, according to Biehler, is to be held ‘in the highest regard’ (3). He has a ‘powerful intellect’ (3). However, because he fails to properly interpret Mat 16.27, he ’contradicted Jesus’ assertion’ (4). He used ‘intellectual contortions’ (4). ‘Even the godliest men will twist Scripture to preserve their delusion’ (4, italics mine). It is here, in conclusion, that Biehler states, ‘If he did not return [in 70 AD], then the Bible is nonsense’ (5). Let that sink in, again.
Now, after launching into an attempted ‘exegesis’ of Mat 24, which I don’t have to cover here (see my other articles on the matter), I want to focus in on Biehler’s own church experience. Apparently, and I have no reason to doubt him, he was an Elder of a local church board (9). He was also a ‘member’ (9). His Pastor had him ‘removed’ and ‘excommunicated’ (9). Well, this I can understand, since Biehler thinks the Pastor, and the entire congregation, and all of the other local churches are ‘bamboozled.’ Not just bamboozled, but have ‘twisted Scripture’ to ‘preserve their delusion.’ You can understand removing someone like that, right? I can. And would. Look, Elders among many have often major disagreements, but these can either be ‘tolerated’ and ‘worked around,’ or both. I have seen that happen many, many times in 30 some years of being involved in church work. But, here, in Biehler’s case, what he is offering is a wholesale upsetting of fundamental, foundational, and fermentative matters of doctrine. Now, if he was merely insisting, as Preterists do (and, mind you, I make a distinction between Preterists, and Full Preterists, like Biehler), that Mat 16.27 is referring to 70 AD, but that the Second Coming, Resurrection of the Dead, and the End of Time are still in the future, fine. We can squabble and disagree on that. But this isn’t what he is doing. And, yet, he appears shocked that he was ‘removed.’ I don’t buy that for a second.
The other point is this: can a godly man, a towering intellect, a giant in the field, also be one that twists Scripture to preserve a delusion, a contradiction, a contortion, and be bamboozled? Can a ‘godly man’ – a true follower of God I presume – do such things, and still be held ‘in the highest regard’? This prompted me to ask, can a Full Preterist, who I believe denies certain fundamental doctrines of the Church, who contorts, twists, and is bamboozled by the shiny object of 70 AD, be a follower of God; a godly person? That is the question of the hour as we ponder current events with a certain ‘revered’ teacher, Gary DeMar, President of American Vision. If so, then we have a teaching that ‘godly men’ in every other respect, can, and do ‘twist’ the Bible, the words of Jesus himself, and ‘contort’ God’s word into something it is not. And this, dear readers, would be sinful, not ‘godly.’
Interestingly, on page 11, Biehler recommends DeMar’s books, and also a book by David P. Crews, Prophecy Fulfilled-God’s Perfect Church on Earth (11). Christians have screwed things up for so long that even translations of the Bible are ‘biased translations’ (27). In fact, Martin Luther is pegged as the ‘man most responsible for the biased translations’ (27). This statement is entirely without any historical, or academic support. It is simply a bald-face claim (Luther was not the first person to translate the Bible into German, or any other language).
One example Biehler gives is that the phrase ‘end of the world’ (a bias translation), and ‘end of the age’ are not the same thing. Apparently, Biehler is entirely unaware that aion (‘age’ in Greek) most certainly can be translated, ‘world.’ One has to know Greek in order to understand this fact. For example, in 1 Corinthians 1.20-21, Paul uses ‘world’ (kosmos) and ‘world’ (aion) in the same sentence, referring to the same content. Ephesians 6.12 speaks of rulers of the world (kosmokrator), or ‘rulers of the earth’ (Isaiah 40.23), or ‘rulers of the aion (world),’ in 1 Corinthians 2.6. ‘World,’ ‘age,’ ‘earth,’ ‘inhabitable land’ and other terms can be used interchangeably. Biehler, however, makes ‘end of the age,’ in an ironic Dispensationalist fashion, the end of the Jewish Dispensation in 70 CE. There is not a single shred of Scripture that speaks of a Jewish ‘age,’ or Age of the Jews. Not one. Yet, because aion is dogmatically ‘defined’ as the Jewish Age, then every reference to aion in the NT is referring to that ‘fact.’ This ‘present evil age’ is, instead, this present evil Jewish age that ended in 70 CE. The ‘rulers of the aion’ are the Jewish rulers of the aion of the old covenant. Folks, this isn’t exegesis. It’s eisegesis, pure and simple. Don’t be ‘bamboozled.’
Now, I said this won’t be your usual book review. There is, again, no need for me to go through the unsubstantiated, undocumented claims in the book. However, since I was a FPist, and know their arguments like the back of my hand, there is something I saw in Biehler’s work that, if he ‘connected the dots,’ so to speak, he would have the answer to the claims of Hyper Preterists, and Preterists who narrowly, by the skin of their teeth, avoid Hyper Preterism. In fact, it’s right there in black and white.
Biehler starts off with Mat 16.27. Good. Biehler also connects this verse with Daniel 7.13, and Mat 26.65. Very good. So, here we have three verses, and one that he does not mention, that is mentioned in 26.65: Psalm 110.1. What Biehler does, however, with these verses is locate them to 70 CE fulfillment. This is error. Gary DeMar writes on Daniel 7.13, ‘Notice that the coming of the Son of Man in Daniel 7 is not down, but up!’ (italics his). Biehler, who recommends DeMar’s book, entirely overlooks this fact. If Jesus is referring to his coming in Daniel 7.13 in Mat 16.27, and in Mat 26.65 states, “from this time onward” (33 CE, when he said it), “you will see the son of man sitting at the right hand of power coming on the clouds” – then clearly, Psalm 110.1, which is quoted throughout the NT as having been fulfilled at his Ascension, infers that Daniel 7.13 is referencing the same Exaltation and Enthronement of King Jesus of Nazareth, born of the House of David, of the Tribe of Judah, sitting on “the throne of David” (Acts 2.30-ff, where Peter quotes Psalm 110.1). Therefore, Jesus is not referring to 70 CE in Mat 16.27, but to his ‘coming’ to the Ancient of Days, who dwells ‘with the angels,’ in order to be ‘given authority, power, and a kingdom’ (Daniel 7.14). The authority to ‘reward each man’ – an authority held by God alone – has now been given to the son of man, and he will reward each man according to his deeds, whenever he is told to do this. The emphasis is on the Lord Jesus Christ, not 70 CE. In fact, Mat 28.18 concludes, after Jesus has ascended, ‘all authority on heaven and earth has been given to me.’ Indeed, in Daniel 7.14, ‘authority’ (same word) is ‘given’ (same verb) to the ‘son of man’ when he ‘comes in his kingdom’ to the Ancient of Days in heaven. ‘Nations’ are also ‘given’ to the son of man in 7.14, which is why Jesus now instructs his disciples to go the nations! Rather than limiting them to the cities of Israel (Mat 10.1-ff.), their mission expands because Messiah has come into his power, authority, kingdom, and the nations are given to him as his possession (Psalm 2; 110). We have conveniently skipped over the Ascension as a ‘coming of the Lord.’
This interpretative understanding of the Ascension of Christ to the Ancient of Days, which is described as a ‘coming of the son of man’ (same exact language in the NT), solves a great deal of exegetical matters in the NT. The ‘presence’ (parousia) of the son of man at the right hand of God is not a one and done event. It is a description of his powerful exaltation which resulted from his death and resurrection over the wages of sin. It is a description of his current reign ‘in heaven,’ ‘where he is’ (Colossians 3.1) at God’s right hand, presently. Yes, Jerusalem’s demise was an execution in power of the man, Jesus of Nazareth. A human being, one of us, is ruling the world, the nations, and all things in heaven and on earth. David died. Solomon, the son of David, died. This son of David died, and lives forever! His throne has been eternally established. His power will never be stripped from him. There are no enemies that will ever vanquish his kingdom, which was given to him when he ascended to God, the Ancient of Days, or, more intimately, ‘my Father in heaven.’ To make 70 AD the almost sole, myopic focus of NT eschatology is entirely missing the point of the Exaltation of Jesus Christ – which is where the focus should always be. To repeat, Biehler places Daniel 7.13 to 70 CE, but recommends DeMar’s book (Last Days Madness), who places it in 33 CE, at his Ascension. Where is Michael Sullivan’s charts when you need them?
I may write more on Biehler’s book, but there would be nothing, really, to comment about that I have not written elsewhere on this blog. His arguments are nothing new. They are standard FPist flare. He does have an intense dislike for John Calvin (177-ff; 119-ff.). He advocates the ‘rapture’ view, which is taught by FPist, Edward Stevens. Stevens’ and Don Preston, who is, hands down, the most prolific author and voice of FPism today, debated each other over this embarrassing view. Preston, rightly so, realizes how utterly indefensible this view is, and wishes to have nothing to do with it.
Biehler’s attempt to exegete 1 Corinthians 15 is also lamentable. Basically, all the saints until May 9th, 70 CE, were in Hades, the Greek conception of the Netherworld. When the temple began to crumble, these souls ‘were released from Hades’ (90). This is called, ‘a holding tank’ (91). It has, now, been thrown into the Lake of Fire, and because of Jesus dismantling the temple through the human agency of General Titus, we can now ‘go directly to heaven’ (91). However, in this passage, Biehler expresses doubt. He can’t seem to be sure about the meaning of ‘death’ being thrown into the lake of fire (91). ‘It can’t be physical death..because people still die’ (91). Well, it can’t be spiritual death, because people are still, in his view, spiritually dead! They need Jesus and evangelism according to Biehler (where is Israel Only when you need them!). It must mean, then, Hadean death – but this fails because Death and Hades are treated as two different things! Hade is not Death. Death is Death, and Hades is Hades. Instead of realizing that it is his paradigm that creates this kind of confusion, Biehler candidly admits, ‘I’m not really sure…One thing I do know for sure is that Revelation indicates over and over again that it is referring to events that were about to happen 2,000 years ago’ (91). Let me translate that for you, as a former FPist thinker: The time texts mean everything, and everything must be interpreted within the straight-jacket of the time texts, even if it leads to absurdity, doubt, unsureness, or the overturning of every other doctrine. I encounter this in personal chats with FPists who are desperate to see their way out of the mess. It’s become a near full-time job. Many have left, and many have abandoned Christianity altogether. That’s the fruit I witness on a monthly basis. I repented, and Christ had mercy on my soul for spreading such a vile delusion. I didn’t know I was “bamboozled” when I was in it, and thought that it was “the word of God.” It wasn’t. It was error. Gross error.
Let me end on this note. Biehler has stated that someone like Henry Morris, who he believes is ‘saved,’ can contort, twist, manipulate and entirely fabricate a theological message at the same time. That is, a truly saved person can also teach a gross error of the Bible. I have not ever questioned the election, or salvation of the FPist. I am not God. That’s His decision. However, I cannot allow for historic Christianity, as outlined in the Apostles’ Creed, which is about as general as one can get, to continued to be watered down, stripped away, whittled down to allowing what FPists believe concerning Soteriology, Ecclesiology, Christology, and Eschatology be called, also, ‘Christianity.’ It isn’t. The fact that they are so desperate to have a seat at the table of Christian theology, as a legitimate theological paradigm among other viable, working theoretical ones should be noted. They are getting beat up out there. Today, they are not so much wanting Christians to convert to their view, but to merely just accept their view as one among many others that are ‘tolerated’ within Christendom. They hate the fact that I daily attack their position from the inside out. And, I hear the daily slurs that I am “obsessed,’ or ‘delusional,’ or ‘filled with anger,’ ‘smug,’ ‘hyper-credalist,’ etc. I, actually, by the grace of God, have a fairly decent life – with its usual ups and downs. Obsessed with FPism? No. It has been roundly defeated, and will never be accepted in mainstream Christianity, which numbers into the billions of souls. It is largely an American product of disillusioned souls – maybe even Christian, saved souls (God’s mercy is beyond my understanding). I get it. I, perhaps, should empathize more with it, as Bill Evans suggests. I do get it, however. I understand from the heart why a person would go down this rabbit hole, and I greatly sympathize with it as one who sold all that they had for it. I didn’t just ‘teach’ FPism, I lived it, ate it, slept on it, dreamed it, and breathed it. Sold my six-figure business for it, and my home. Relocated my family for it. FPism was my life (and Jason Bradfield can attest to this as well, my fellow soul-mate). So, maybe…just maybe, Bill Evans, David Octavec, Gary DeMar, and many others…just maybe, ole Sam Frost has something to say, something of an insight you fellows are missing. Of course, this would require you to humble yourself, as you require me to humble myself, so that I can hear you, right?
So, perhaps that round table will happen…eh, Bill?
 Tom Holland, Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World, (New York: Basic Books, 2019), 10.
 Biehler spends a good deal of time writing anti-Calvinist prose, which is largely caricature of the good Reformer, and there is a large body of FPists (Church of Christ laden) that abhore the fact that there are Calvinists in their rank. When I debated Holger Neubauer, he stated that the problem with FPism today is the Calvinist insurgence within FPist ranks. What needed to be done is to “rid” (quote) Calvinism from FPism altogether.
 I have written on this in detail and extensively on this blog and in my book, The Parousia of the Son of Man (Lulu Publishing, 2019).
 New Light Pub; 1st edition (January 1, 1994). Crews, in chapter 8, ‘The role of Christianity – “But what then shall we do?”’ describes the current situation as, ‘As human beings, we are limited by and restricted to our physical bodies. These are themselves created forms and cause us to sense time and make us to be bounded by the laws of physics and of entropy.’ This is pure neo-Gnosticism. But, further, Crews sounds the alarm on how the moral degradation today has waned because of ‘futurism.’ ‘Perhaps it is time for the Christian world to awaken to the need to create or recreate a moral human world. In this land, at least, we can speak freely and influence the system toward the righteous form we know it should be.’ It isn’t about Jesus Christ and him crucified. Jesus can ‘remake’ this world at any given moment, but instead, chose the cross, and instructed us to do the same. These new social-Gospel activists, instead of saying, ‘pick up your cross,’ command, ‘pick up your picket sign, and protest.’ It’s about losing ‘power’ and ‘influence’ over culture, which is the real fear here. The Left, or Democrats, or Liberals, or LBGTQ or whoever are ‘taking over’ and ‘ruining’ the good life for comfortable Christians, and the comfortable Christians need to ‘take back America’ so that they can have their tax breaks, earned income credits, and investments yield a better return…”for Jesus,” of course. Without reviewing Crews’ book (which I have a copy of, and have read years ago), the fact that Biehler endorses this, coupled with the extremely close association with Postmillennialism, is to be noted. Crews wrote, ‘Let us, then, put aside the pessimism that says the world is doomed and that we should not concern ourselves with it. Let us renounce the fatalism that believes that the immoral world forces are bound to win the battle of influence and control in our government and our society.’ One could not tell the difference between Christian Nationalism, and a Full Preterist here. However, in another place, Crews wrote, ‘The answer is that God never promised or intended to remove sin and evil from life.’ This is about, rather is the most pessimistic message ever. The biblical view is that God will rid the world of sin and evil from life. The irony here is telling. I do not wish to lump classic Postmillennialism with Hyper Preterism, but there are many among Postmillennialists today that are adopting this message, or at least making “bedfellows” with it. Crews says nothing about the ‘church’ today in terms of any structure. There is no ordination, elders, congregations, or anything like that at all. These are all ‘old institutions’ that may have worked in the past, but now are no longer needed. Since all things are fulfilled, each believer is a church unto themselves. This is not biblical exegesis, but American individualism wrapped in pious fraud.
 Gary Demar, Last Days Madness, (Smyrna, GA: American Vision, Inc., 1997), 161. DeMar quotes from Harold Fowler’s excellent four volume commentary on Matthew, where Fowler notes that this is the Ascension. Again, DeMar quotes from another great commentary by R. T. France, who notes the same fact of Ascension. Because Jesus’ ‘coming’ is his Ascension, and that happened immediately within the time frame of those standing there, France writes that since Jesus has been enthroned, then it is ‘that authority he exercised in 70 AD’ (DeMar, 162). On page 163 of the same book, DeMar notes that Jesus’ Ascension, which is a coming of the son of man, is ‘Jesus’ reception of the kingdom.’ However, on page 48 DeMar states that the coming to the Father in Daniel 7.13, and the coming in judgment to Jerusalem in 70 CE, are ‘two events.’ Indeed. So, which coming is Jesus referring to in Matthew 16.27? See also, Herman N. Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1962).
 Ed Stevens, Expectations Demand a First Century Rapture (International Preterist Association, 2003). I spoke at the conference hosted by John Anderson of the same year, 2003, in Sparta, North Carolina, where we pleaded with Ed not to speak on this subject. Ed, being who he is (and he is a very likable fellow), spoke on it anyway, to the great embarrassment of all there. Realizing that Ed’s argument of a literal rapture of Christians around the Roman world in 70 CE is entirely a fabrication, and rejected by most FPists, even strongly debated by Don Preston, it nonetheless demonstrates the extremes FPist will go to twist Scriptures to their 70 CE “box.”