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Who Is Roderick Edwards?
I've tried to keep the focus of this site on the content and not on the person, but as more people want to know the person behind the content I think it right to share a little about the person; Roderick Edwards.
I am also preparing a testimony and statement of faith so that everything is very clear.
Who is Roderick Edwards?
I've always tried to be very open, very honest with both friend and foe. That honesty has allowed foes to attack. But you know, when I look at people, I look more at who their enemies are than who their friends are. You can tell a lot about a person by who opposes them.
But now, let's see who Roderick Edwards is as a person rather than just some nameless poster of content on the Internet.
Roderick Edwards was born June 28, 1968 in Indianapolis Indiana. He was adopted at age 3. He has 3 sisters and a brother. As of this writing, he is uncle to 6 nieces and nephews. (I'm speaking of myself in the 3rd person so as to be more objective).
Roderick was raised in Indianapolis, attending public school. Unfortunately, by the time he was 7 years old his adoptive parents divorced. However, even through all of these experiences, he has always been a happy person. Cheerful, curious, and typically positive.
Roderick was an average student in school, except perhaps in English and History where he was operating at a college level while in 7th grade.
Roderick met his future wife while he was in High-school. As of August 2010 they will have been married 20 years. Two years after marriage, Roderick's wife gave birth to their only child, a daughter, who at the time of this writing is age 16.
Roderick's education extends to merely a few Christian philosophy courses at a local college, but years and years of intense personal study. His employment field has included anything from fast-food while he was a teen in High-school, to Training Manager of 3 call centers with a phone company with over 250 employees, to auditor for an International logistic firm. Most of his work has been in the area of information, whether it be training materials or reading and interpreting health and life insurance contracts.
Now, I've related all of this personal information to show you a little who I am as a person before we get to theology. I am obviously not perfect but I want you to see I'm just a normal guy, with a family, with common employment and common interests. I hope that I am well-rounded and stable in life, as I try to be. I mean, what good is a person's theology if it doesn't have positive effects on their own life?
What is Roderick Edwards' Theological Background?
Roderick was not raised in a Christian home, although his grandparents were nominal Christians and Roderick was baptized in a Presbyterian church as a child; besides attending summer Bible school, there was not much Christian influence in Roderick's childhood.
At about age 16, Roderick began attending a small, country baptist church with his girlfriend (eventually his wife). Roderick's girlfriend was also not raised Christian but had a friend that invited her to church. At some point, Roderick's girlfriend made a profession of faith and became a Christian. Roderick began to study the Bible on his own besides attending this church.
Studying the Bible like any other book, Roderick started at the beginning. At first it appeared that the Bible was about some bloody cult that went about killing animals. As time went on, Roderick's life situation grew dim (or maybe it was simply the typical stresses of being a teenager trying to see where they fit into the world). At any rate, like most people at some point in their lives Roderick at age 16 contemplated suicide. Well, he began to jump ahead in the Bible, thinking if he was going to end his life soon he should probably see if there is anything to this "God" thing. He began praying more as well, "God, whoever you are, whatever you are, please reveal yourself to me. Help me understand." As Roderick read more from the Old Testament and from the New Testament something struck him.
WOW! The Bible wasn't merely a blood-cult myth. There was a point in all the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament, something innocent dying in the place of something guilty. Roderick Edwards saw he was that guilty sinner in need of looking upon Christ who was lifted up. Amen and amen, Roderick Edwards was saved not only from physical ruin but from eternal damnation.
Roderick made a profession of faith and began reading the Bible more intensely, sometimes many hours at a time with lexicons and concordances spread out on the floor (this was a time before the computer and Internet). He and his girlfriend were now both dedicated Christians. They would speak of their future life together and how it was to be Christ-based.
About six months before their marriage, Roderick and his girlfriend were visited by two men from another local baptist church. Everyone shared their testimonies (something not often done anymore) and Roderick and his girlfriend were invited to attend this baptist church. They did and stayed there 11 years. They were married in that church, raised their daughter in that church, had their daughter attend that church's school from kindergarten to sixth grade.
The church was a typical independent, fundamental, dispensational church. Roderick and his wife were quiet but faithful members. Most of Roderick's and his wife's friends were from the church and they'd often host dinners and such.
But after about the 9th year of attendance, something happened. The issue of the KJV-only became more prominent within the congregation. Roderick even attended a few Dean Burgon Society meetings just to see what it was all about (see here). The church even had some professors and students from a local baptist bible college come to speak. Roderick even considered applying to the college at one point but found the dean to be very arrogant and caught up with a person's outward appearance more than with what they believed. That was a turn off.
The deeper Roderick became involved in the KJV-only issue, the more he began to see some troubling issues. The only Christianity he'd known was filtered through the baptist-mindset. Roderick began to attend free courses offered by the baptist bible college, but held in the church. One such course was "Baptist Distinctives". This course attempted to show why baptist were different. This opened the door to the history of Christianity. Like most Christians, Roderick's concept of the history of Christianity didn't go much further back than the moment his church was incorporated or to some vague portrayal of the rise of protestantism which was often clouded.
One of the reference books in the course was a booklet called "The Trail of Blood - Following the Christians Down Through the Centuries From The Days of Christ to the Present Time" (see here). This booklet among other things implied that baptists never came out of the Reformation/Protestantism but were the true Christians come "down through the centuries".
The more Roderick studied, the more a whole other world of Christianity began to open up. Christianity had a rich heritage and it was not as this booklet depicted. This began to cause some tensions as Roderick would challenge the course instructors on some of the things they were teaching, such as when they claimed baptists always immersed (dunked under water).
Further, the KJV-only issue caused tension when Roderick asked why the KJV uses the word easter in Acts 12:4 rather than a direct translation of the Greek which is passover. I mean, if the KJV is supposedly a literal word for word translation, why the discrepancy here? The pastor said that the KJV translators must have known something we do not. This was a bit much for Roderick. See translation comparisons of Acts 12:4 - ref, see original Greek and notice the word is pascha - ref.
The more the apparent cover-up went on, the more Roderick investigated historic Christianity compared to baptists. Now, let it be known, that I do not consider baptists to be unChristian, merely that there are some discrepancies with handling history when it comes to the baptists with which I was part.
At some point, another member at this baptist congregation began to discuss with Roderick and his wife something called, "the doctrines of grace". At first, to Roderick it appeared that the man was saying mankind had no freewill and that God arbitrarily chose some people over others. This seemed preposterous. Roderick tried to reject the notion. But the more Roderick studied not only the Bible, but historic Christianity, he began to see that for the most part of Christianity, Christians had believed and advocated something like the doctrines of grace. As a matter of fact, it was a hallmark of Protestantism or Reformed theology. Roderick began to ask the pastor and assistant pastor about these things. They dismissed it as heresy and "Calvinism". This brought a whole new perspective; what is heresy? Is heresy simply something one group labels another group simply because they disagree?
The tensions continued. The man and his family who introduced Roderick to the doctrines of grace left the church (they too had been long time members). Roderick and his family remained, trying to sort things out. Eventually, the assistant pastor told Roderick that if he didn't stop studying "Calvinism" he would have to kick him out of the church. Soon, Roderick and his family left the church too. In retrospect, that was wrong. I should have remained and worked it out or made them remove me publicly so that the issue would be moved to the forefront. Ironically enough, AFTER I left, within a year or so after the church split precisely over Calvinism because the new pastor was Calvinistic (not really a Calvinist) and the emeritus pastor and he built up sides. When the new pastor left, many of the younger people went with him. I found that whole thing sad and actually privately supported the pastor emeritus and thought it wrong how the Calvinistic pastor behaved.
Now, being without a congregation the family that originally introduced the doctrines of grace to Roderick and his family were meeting with others in their home, in a type of house church. Roderick and his family joined this group and this went on for about a year or so. The group attempted to form a church and even have "covering" from a "Reformed Baptist" church in Louisville Kentucky. There were many meetings between the Louisville church and the group and it seemed like everything was moving forward. But the group had issues with one guy attempting to be the de facto pastor (not Roderick).
As that tension continued, Roderick resumed more of his personal studies and found it curious that "Reformed Baptists" spend a lot of time utilizing material from Presbyterians, Reformed Presbyterians. Why? I mean, if Presbyterianism is supposedly correct on so many points, why not consider what they say about baptism? Roderick asked these kind of questions to the group and even asked if they could all attend a local Reformed Presbyterian congregation as a group. You would have thought Roderick was asking the group to sell their souls. "We will not worship with baby-baptizers!" Yet they were happy to use their materials. Roderick and his family attended a local Reformed Presbyterian church anyway.
Now let's pause here for a moment to assess what has happened. Roderick started out as a nominal, but faithful Christian. Not a trouble maker at all but rather quietly attending church and participating with others without conflict. As time went on and questions were being raised, the answers to those questions ranged from stifling to pat, to incorrect. There was even a point where I was ready to just cast off Christianity altogether, it appeared to be a collective chaos built on division and lies. I saw everything from the institutional churches to the house churches as filled with nothing but egotistical men attempting to preserve their little piece of the pie. I was not and am not a trouble causing rebel-rouser. I just wanted to know the truth and not be given the run around. Nor was I some guy being tossed to and fro by every new doctrine, rather I was trying to get to the heart of what is the Christian doctrine. Not merely the baptist doctrine, or the Reformed Baptist doctrine, or the Presbyterian doctrine. I wanted to know if there is a Christianity that transcends denomination.
Resuming, as Roderick and his family began attending the Reformed Presbyterian congregation, everything seemed to be falling into place. Here was a people humble yet dedicated to what they believe. During that first week, Roderick even saw the workings of how an excommunication worked. It wasn't a hush-hush thing, but the entire church was asked to pray about and understand why the actions were being taken. It was due to some sin the individual was involved in, I don't recall now but I was impressed by the fact that the church didn't hide even the underside of these issues.
Again, all was going well. Roderick was studying the Bible more, studying Christian history more. Building fellowship with the members. They felt like they were finally home. At some point while studying Roderick read a book by John Owen called "The Death of Death in the Death of Christ" -- ref The book is about soteriological or salvifici issues but even the title has eschatological implications. Roderick considered, that if the Bible says, the death is the last enemy and that death is destroyed then what does that mean eschatologically?
Here is where it is important for Christians to have mentors, guides. Knowledgeable, honest people to help them understand. Pastors are often considered to be these people, but often a pastor is too busy or tells a congregant to not read/study anything except what the church gives them.
Roderick, using his typical Christian yet wrong view of "Sola Scriptura" (Bible alone) coupled with Owen's book began to seek out what it means eschatologically. Roderick began to disconnect more and more not only from the congregation but from historic Christianity itself. THAT is where the flaw comes in. Christianity is supposed to be a communal faith, not some carved out denominational refuge like some of those baptists; nor is Christianity supposed to be some guy with his Bible alone interpreting the text disconnected from 2000 years of Christian interpretation, no matter how "noble" it sounds to spout off that "I'm just reading the Bible for what it says". It is important to understand this so you can see where Roderick Edwards is about to take a major wrong turn in his life.
As Roderick began to look into how death is already defeated, it took Roderick into the movement of what is called Hyperpreterism. Hyperpreterism, claiming to use the Bible and only the Bible (see how noble that sounds), advocates 4 things in denial of historic Christianity:
Now, how in the world would ANY Christian ever believe anything like this? Well, unfortunately Roderick would soon fall prey to this REAL heresy. It starts with a person believing it is possible to disconnect yourself from all of Christianity and privately interpret the Bible yet claiming it is "Sola Scriptura". Perhaps in Roderick's case another problem was his years of seeing how people would directly lie or cover-up the truth. Roderick became very distrusting of people. This is a recipe for disaster.
The more Roderick would ask about eschatology, the more he was given pat answers, conflicting answers. It seemed more and more, as the hyperpreterists would encourage that a person was best just paving his own way. So, Roderick did.
Roderick buying the hyperpreterist overarching premise that 2000 years of Christian interpretation has mostly been in great error on the "endtimes" eventually became a "preterist" himself and remained a "preterist" for about 15 years. At first, this didn't cause too much problems with the Reformed Presybterian congregation which had everything from dispensationalist elders to so-called "partial preterist" elders. Can you see the train-wreck coming? Note also, I NEVER claimed to have been a member of this church. I only attended. I knew it would not be right for me to join.
The Reformed Presbyterian church experienced problems independent of anything Roderick was doing, and went through several months without a pastor (teaching elder). Eventually, the congregation did get a new teaching elder and it was here where the problems started. Roderick's interactions with this new pastor became more intense and eventually Roderick and his family were asked to leave. At the time it was tense, but in retrospect the pastor's course of action was correct. The only thing that may have been better is if somehow the elders could have gotten to the heart of the problem which isn't hyperpreterism as much as it is a wrong view of "Sola Scriptura". But, Roderick like most hyperpreterists would not have heard anything like that but continued to justify himself as a person that is "just reading what the Bible says".
Roderick the Heretic
As noted, Roderick embraced and began advocating hyperpreterism. He was very prolific and perhaps had more Internet articles posted than any hyperpreterist at that time. (see here) There would obviously be clashes with his fellow hyperpreterist, since hyperpreterism as a movement was being shaped and was in flux and as some of the old guard conflicted with the newer. Roderick also saw that egos ran rampant within the movement. So, many of "leaders" were out to make a name for themselves. One guy even tried to actually trademark the term "preterism" -- ref. Eventually Roderick wondered what he got himself into. For the last five years of being a hyperpreterist, Roderick was often in open conflict with fellow hyperpreterists, mainly due to the fact these hyperpreterists would be caught in lies between their public and private emails.
Roderick continued to press on thinking that perhaps if the movement could just remove the liberal elements, then it could be seen as valid. But more and more Roderick kept asking a specific question to himself and to his fellow hyperpreterists; How can they claim to be Christian yet disconnect themselves from everything that has ever been considered Christian?
The more Roderick would question the faulty premises and conclusions of hyperpreterism AND yes, the often corrupt character of its "leaders" the more tension was caused and the more Roderick would be attacked. At some point, Roderick had his family's life threatened, had his website attacked with vampire scripts by hyperpreterists, had websites made about him, had people claim he was an ex-con from NY (that's the funniest one). All because Roderick was about to leave the cult which is hyperpreterism.
In 2007, Roderick publicly renounced hyperpreterism as the REAL heresy it is. It's heresy because whether you look at pre-Roman Catholic, Roman Catholic, Greek/Eastern Orthodox, Syrian, Protestant/Reformed, Anabaptist, Modern Evangelical, Calvinist, Arminian, or any expression of historic Christianity, ALL of these agree on the basics of eschatology where hyperpreterism wants to deny. If anything is a heresy, hyperpreterism is a heresy.
I eventually returned to the Reformed Presbyterian congregation and repented and was forgiven. I considered trying to become a member but too much damage was done and I had too much baggage to bring. It would not be fair to the congregation. I didn't go through all these things so I could sit down and be quiet about it. For example, people who go through years of being in a cult often end up being the best apologists against the cult. Imagine what would happen if they were told to never discuss it again. So, until a congregation is willing to support and accept what God has done in my life, I can't see how I can be a member of a church.
After leaving hyperpreterism in 2007, I spent some time working with a ministry that was also fighting against hyperpreterism. Though that was a bit helpful in my recovery, much of it has been damaging, more so because many of the people within the 'cause' against hyperpreterism are also arrogant, egotists out for themselves and their own reputations - men with ministries named after themselves even. So, I have left that group too and just focusing on historic Christianity and what it means to be a historic Christian.
Whew, what a sordid past. Believe me, I would love to go back to the early days of my faith in that baptist church. But you can't unring a bell. God is sovereign and all the things, right or wrong that I've gone through serve some purpose. I am now at the point where I simply want to adhere to the basics of Christianity. Though I sporadically attend various congregations, it will be some time before I join one again. You often hear about "seeker-friendly" churches, well I'm looking for a church that is seeking Christians, even Christians with a past like mine.
So, reader now you know a little about Roderick Edwards. I'm just a guy trying to live the Christian faith to the fullest. Have I failed at some points? Yes, and in major ways. I simply want to be open and honest and deal with reality.
Now, if you have anymore questions about who Roderick Edwards is, feel free to ask me. I'd be happy to answer as openly and honestly as I have here. Do you see many other people being this open and honest? I just want the reader to know what they are really getting when they read the content here. Thank you.
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