Statue of Alfred the Great, Winchester, England
Preterism, or, Covenant Eschatology
Preterism (from the Latin, præter or “past”) is a biblical hermeneutic or interpretive method consistent with process theism. A preterist biblical theology denies that the Bible sets out the story of humanity from the creation of planet earth when God breathed life into the first human until the end of the world at the Second Coming (the Parousia) of Jesus Christ. Rather, the biblical narrative has to do with the rise and fall of Old Covenant Israel. On a preterist reading, the bible story will not support a futurist eschatology which still awaits the return of Christ at the end of the world. Preterists hold that the clear text of Scripture shows that all of the biblical prophesies of a new heaven and a new earth, not just those in Revelation, were fulfilled in AD 70.
In that year, Christ returned to oversee the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the physical center of the old heaven and old earth occupied by God’s first people. In the Book of Revelation, we see the Old Covenant world of Israel sinking into lakes of fire, while the New Covenant world enters into history. The Jerusalem Temple makes its exit in a spectacular cataclysm; a new creation becomes incarnate in the church, the ecclesiastical Body of Christ. There the bible story ends.
The preterist hermeneutic is also known as “covenant eschatology”. That is to say, the biblical narrative is consummated by the fulfillment of the covenant promises to carnal Israel. This was the end of the old age; it was then, that “the first heaven and first earth” long-symbolized by the Jerusalem Temple, “passed away.” It was with the end of the Old Covenant that the promised resurrection of the saints was fulfilled. This consummation was a process of spiritual renewal, begun by the resurrection of Jesus the Christ as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). As the “Holy City, the new Jerusalem” came down from God, “a new heaven and a new earth” came into being (Rev. 21:1-2) thus inaugurating the church age.
This preterist vision of the resurrection at “the end of the age” is quite different from O’Donovan’s mainstream futurist eschatology. On his reading, “it is given to nobody but the risen Christ to raise the dead, the church’s authority does not rest in exercising that power by delegation, but in pointing to its future exercise in an act of testimony.” O’Donovan, like another well-known Anglican theologian, N.T. Wright, looks forward to the parousia of a “global Jesus” at some point in our own future. Wright portrays Paul as the one who prophesies the still-future transfiguration of the entire cosmos, the moment when all those who belong to the Messiah “are themselves raised bodily from the dead.” Wright very explicitly ties the victory over death promised by Paul and Jesus to a physical resurrection of the dead. If death is to be defeated, he declares, then “anything other than some kind of bodily resurrection, therefore, is simply unthinkable.” In stark contrast, preterists contend that “the covenantal eschatology of national Israel offers a much more persuasive hermeneutical framework within which to interpret Paul’s understanding of the resurrection body.”
Samuel G. Dawson, for example, points out that Paul publicly declared that he “was saying none other things but those which the prophets and Moses did say would come” (Acts 26:22). Dawson contends that “Paul’s concept of the resurrection wasn’t that fleshly (or even transfigured) bodies would come out of holes in ground at all, because that’s not what Moses and the prophets taught.” Instead, Moses taught “the resurrection of Old Covenant Israel from the death of its fellowship from God”.
Dawson breaks even more dramatically from Wright when he observes that Paul never speaks of resurrected “bodies.” Instead, Paul refers only to “the resurrection of one body, the Old Covenant faithful who were being transformed into the body of Christ.” The hermeneutic problem here, Dawson concludes, “comes down to whether the resurrection Paul spoke of was one body in his present time or billions of bodies more than two thousand years in the future.”
If Dawson is right, then the early church effectively replaced Israel as the people of God. The God of history ordained that old national Israel fulfill its telos through one final, fiery sacrifice on the Temple Mount. A new age dawned in which the historical process of interaction between God and national Israel, as recounted in the biblical narrative, expanded to incorporate both the Greek and Latin civilizations of the Mediterranean basin. In effect, Old Covenant Israel was superseded by the development of European Christendom.
O’Donovan explicitly rejects any such supersessionist interpretation. National Israel, he asserts, can never be replaced. The Old Covenant remains in force for the Jews. Because Jesus the Christ represents God the “Kingdom’s representative must suffer the resistance of Israel on God’s behalf; but representing Israel’s cause, too, he must suffer God’s resistance on Israel’s behalf”. In the end, however, O’Donovan returns to the utterly ahistorical claim that the representation of Israel “opens out to the representation of the human race”. In this new creation, however, O’Donovan insists that “the continuing Israel…is not to be dismissed as an irrelevant survival from the past”. The Gentiles have been grafted onto Israel’s root; we only await the moment when carnal Israel comes to see “the possession of the law fulfilled in Christ”.
O’Donovan maintains that “until the last reconciliation the two communities must coexist”. Gentile Christians “cannot ignore the community into which they have by faith been grafted”. In effect, therefore, when carnal Israel speaks, Christians must listen. One might expect, therefore, that even if O’Donovan’s political theology does not require the criminalization of acts which “deny” or “downplay” the Holocaust, he would never condone such blasphemy.
Indeed, O’Donovan explicitly joins with Christian Zionists to accord carnal Israel a theopolitical status unknown to other nations comprising the eschatological society of the human race. Whether other families, tribes, and nations have an eternal destiny may be open to debate; but there is no doubt in his mind that “Israel has one—is that not enough?” A positive response to that rhetorical question, turns on the truth or falsity of the futurist eschatology upon which O’Donovan’s political theology rests. My own view is that Old Covenant Israel is not the only nation through which God has worked in this world. The English, too, once saw themselves as a “holy nation”. With the grace of God, other British-descended peoples can and should strive to emulate that godly objective.
Process theism, when combined with the historical theology inherent in preterism, leads inexorably to Kinism, or, as some would have it, “the Christian doctrine of nations”. The Old Covenant bound the holy nation of Israel to God; the New Covenant offered the grace of God to every nation (ethnos) of the known world (oikumene). The leaves of the tree of life in the New Jerusalem were to serve for “the healing of nations.” Old Israel was no more. On Judgement Day, Christ sentenced the stiff-necked synagogue of Satan to spiritual death. Only a righteous remnant was left to carry the holy seed of Israel unto the nations. For almost two thousand years, every Christian nation adjured Jews within the realm to recognize their Redeemer, thus ending their age-old rebellion against God. In sharp contrast to the Jews, Anglo-Saxons eagerly entered into the new covenant world.
Attuned to racial and ethnic differences, kinists understand the powerful biocultural affinity between the early Christian church and the pagan tribes of Anglo-Saxon England as well as the prominent place occupied by covenants in tribal social structures. Conversely, once their churches downplayed the importance of blood covenants to the spiritual life of both family and nation, the ancestral attachment of Anglo-Saxon Protestants to the Body of Christ was bound to fade away. The creedal religion of the modern Anglican church denies that either faith or political allegiance is passed on through the blood of the large, partly-inbred extended family that constitutes the Anglo-Saxon ethny. No modernist “proposition nation” grounded in the universalist ideology of secular humanism, least of all the one abjuring its ethno-religious roots in the sacred blood and faith of the Old English people, can ever again be a holy nation in the eyes of God.
For kinists, the Christian nation rests upon a covenant, under God, between the dead, the living, and the unborn. The living members of the nation, according to R.J. Rushdoony, “see themselves as the trustees of the family blood, rights, property, name, and position for their lifetime. They have an inheritance from the past to be developed and preserved for the future.”
Royalty plays a central role in the bible story. Jesus the Christ traced his descent to King David. As the very model of an English David, Alfred the Great established a Christian kingdom in England. The hereditary monarch of the British dominions once served as trustee-in-chief for his realm. The ecclesiastical significance of the monarchy was given formal recognition when Henry VIII, his heirs, and successors were declared to be Supreme Governors of the Church of England. The Royal Supremacy played a significant role in the rise of the broad-church movement in Victorian England. It has since become little more than a mere manifestation of the shapeshifting Crown manipulated for its own ends by the (imperial cum globalist) government of the United Kingdom.
Anglican royalists should create an Angelcynn Network of ethno-religious activists to liberate the captive Crown in right of the Royal Supremacy. The Crown has become little more than a rubber stamp for corrupt politicians with no discernible interest in the spiritual welfare of Anglo-Saxons “at home” or in the diaspora. Once the Royal Supremacy over the Church of England has been insulated from political control, it should be extended to every reformed Angelcynn Church, not just in the United Kingdom, but throughout the British dominions as well. In time, it may become possible for the Crown to charter Angelcynn churches even among the Anglo-American remnant population in the failed American republic.
In the eighteenth century, Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke hoped that a Patriot King would re-awaken the English nation from its spiritual slumbers. The appearance of such a patriot prince would have been a miracle indeed. In our own time, it is doubly hard to imagine a British prince daring to stand against a government determined to maintain its control over the royal prerogative in ecclesiastical affairs. But, as Bolingbroke wrote, those who pray for such a deliverance must not neglect such means as are in their power “to keep the cause of reason, of virtue, and of liberty alive.” The blessing of a patriot prince might indeed “be withheld from us” but to “deserve at least that it be granted to us, let us prepare to receive it, to improve it, and to co-operate with it.”
Bolingbroke knew that were a patriot prince to campaign in defence of the monarchy, he would be subject to a raging torrent of criticism and abuse. Yet when a good prince is seen “to suffer with the people, and in some measure for them…many advantages would accrue to him.” For one thing, the cause of the British peoples generally “and his own cause would be made the same by their common enemies.”
What is the nature of that cause? In short, a patriot prince will call forth a spirit of resistance to both managerial statism and the abstract universalism of globalist plutocracy. He will do everything in his power to civilize those wild and immoral forces. But the appearance of a Patriot King is not inevitable. Indeed, only a people whose lost liberties are restored to memory will recognize his coming as an opportunity to reshape their allegedly preordained future.
The Idea of a Patriot King as Messianic Mythos
A postmodern neo-Angelcynn political theology could resurrect the hope of a nation re-born through the appearance of a genuinely godly Patriot King. A diasporic network of Angelcynn evangelists should work to ignite the mythos of a patriotic British monarch acting as Supreme Governor of their ancestral church throughout the Anglosphere.
Of course, as a matter of legal formality, the Queen already plays this role in England. Constitutional reality is quite otherwise; her role as head of the church has been usurped in practice by the Prime Minister. The Crown has been reduced to a rubber stamp. Pending the constitutional reformation of the ecclesiastical body politic, the Anglecynn Network must develop a political theology which conceives the existentially political friend-enemy distinction as constitutive of the relationships between Angelcynn peoples and other peoples or states (including “our own” states which now employ their power over us, in part, by admitting alien peoples, in huge numbers, to citizenship on equal terms with British-descended host populations).
In other words, an authentic, autochthonous, neo-Angelcynn political theology would understand the church as an ethno-religious institution safeguarding the ethnic interests, spiritual welfare and godly character of the British-descended peoples. The theological justification for such a church polity is essentially biblical. That is to say, that the Bible tells the story of a historical process of interaction between the divine, God, or Yahweh, (whichever name you prefer) and a particular people or nation; namely, the Israelites. That nation developed into a medium through which God manifested his real presence in the world.
Significantly, the Angelcynn people in the time of Alfred the Great modelled themselves on ancient Israel. During the Golden Age of the early church—the Age of Incarnation—the Angelcynn church was seen as the spiritual avatar of the emergent English nation, working in partnership with the king. That ethno-religious symbiosis of nation, church, and kingship was disrupted radically during the eleventh-century by the Norman Conquest and, shortly thereafter, by the Papal Revolution which created a church-state claiming jurisdiction over the whole of Christendom.
The old symbiosis was not, however, restored by the substitution of a state church for the Papal church-state during the Reformation. By that time, the Age of Disincarnation driven by the scholastic rationalism and legalistic absolutism of the papal church-state had all but eliminated the explicitly ethno-religious character of the English church. Anglican Protestantism became just another creedal religion, inevitably spawning countless doctrinal schisms down to the present day.
A genuinely neo-Angelcynn political theology would aim to restore the spirit, if not the letter, of the original symbiosis between British-descended peoples, the church, and a British monarchy. Such a church might become capable of regenerating a Volksgeist serving as the seed-bed for the advent of an actual Patriot King of the sort envisioned by Viscount Bolingbroke in the eighteenth-century.
Under present circumstances, every once-proudly Anglo-Saxon country throughout the Anglosphere, is now subject to states which have reduced the WASP founding stock to a de facto stateless people. Both the globalist state and cosmopolitan Anglican churches embrace the multiculturalist program, according no special status or formal recognition to the British-descended peoples. The informal alliance between British states and Anglican churches has, in effect, transformed WASPs into an invisible race. That process was well underway by the early twentieth-century.
In retrospect, had an ethno-religious Angelcynn political theology existed as an autonomous force (i.e., one not bound hand and foot to the imperial state) during the first half of the twentieth century, church leaders might have recognized that the British and Dominion governments were acting in opposition to the best interests of the British peoples by twice declaring war on Germany.
Prior to 1914 or 1939, Germany did not conceive itself as an enemy of the British people. Both the Kaiser and Hitler declared themselves ready, willing, and able to recognize, defend, and co-operate with the governments and peoples of the British Empire. Indeed, in the late nineteenth century, many leading figures in both Britain and the United States (e.g., Cecil Rhodes, W.T. Stead, H.G. Wells, and Andrew Carnegie) not only promoted greater unity between the Anglo-Saxon nations but also believed that they should ally with their racial cousins in Germany. Accordingly, Rhodes included students from Germany as well as those from America and the Commonwealth in his famous scholarship program. Unfortunately, other, more powerful interests within the British state were determined (e.g., Winston Churchill, in both wars) to treat Germany as an enemy that must be destroyed (ideally by re-creating the fragmented statelets that existed prior to 1870).
Clearly, the idea of a Greater Britain withered away during and as a result of the world wars of the twentieth century. For a time, during the century-and-a-half following the American revolution, the Anglo-Saxon world developed a unique geopolitical personality. The Anglo-Saxon peoples anchored their collective identity in constitutional exoskeletons, creating a commonwealth of states sharing a common “British” civic identity. In all of those nations, civic identity has been progressively drained of ethno-religious meaning.
In the nineteenth century, the Church of England and its colonial, dissenting, and American offshoots endorsed a secularized “political theology of cosmopolitan nationalism”. Anglo-Catholics, evangelical Protestants, and Christian Zionists jointly hailed the ecumenical lordship of global Jesus while awaiting his return in power and glory at the end of history. What they didn’t expect was the First World War.
With the foundation of the Kaiserreich, however, the German Question reared its ugly head; it was not at all clear how the mercantile, thalassocratic ideal of cosmopolitan nationalism could be reconciled with telluric power of a militarized German Empire. Unfortunately, the Anglican political theology of cosmopolitan nationalism did not preclude the defeat and destruction of that Empire. Indeed, it eventually spawned the global hegemony of a godless, increasingly demonic, transnational corporate plutocracy.