BOOKS: BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)
AD70 Dispensationalism: According to
that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'.
Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking
the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only
Herod's Temple in Jerusalem
fell. Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old
Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of
Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
AD70 Dispensationalism: According to that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'. Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only when Herod's Temple in Jerusalem fell. Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
material is being archived for balanced representation of all preterist views,
but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond
the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The
classification of all full preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built
upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and
the convictions of
the website curator (a
former full preterist pastor). The HyP
theology of final resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70
(end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors
through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up
to 1845, when the earliest known full preterist book was written.
Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between
Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and
THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"
"Full preterist" material is being archived for balanced representation of all preterist views, but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The classification of all full preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and the convictions of the website curator (a former full preterist pastor). The HyP theology of final resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70 (end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up to 1845, when the earliest known full preterist book was written. Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and fundamentally different.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"
SOME DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES OF SYSTEMATIZED HYPER PRETERISM
It is important to keep in mind that many ideas and doctrines full preterism appeals to - such as the complete end of the Old Covenant world in AD70 - are by no means distinctive to that view. Many non HyPs believe this as well, so one need not embrace the Hyper Preterist system in order to endorse this view. Following are exceptional doctrines which, so far as I've seen, are only taught by adherents of Hyper Preterism.:
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY STANDARD FULL PRETERISM
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY VARIOUS FORMS
By Tracy D. VanWyngaarden
Historically, preterism (the view that all bible prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70 (Luke 21:24) has been regarded as a theological option in the study of last things (eschatology). J.S. Russell’s seventeenth century work; “The Parousia: A critical inquiry into the New Testament doctrine of the Second coming”, was regarded by scholars of his day, as being “injurious to nobody”. The recent republication of this work contained positive remarks from the some of the leading preterist writers of our time. Among these are “R.C. Sproul, Gary DeMar, and Kenneth L. Gentry. Since this time, something strange has occurred among these authors and their peers. The view that preterism is a viable option in the church, being “injurious to no one” has been replaced with the view that preterists are damned heretics! As such it is their position that all who hold the preterist view of eschatology must either recant their position or be excommunicated from the church.
This condemnation is the current view being proposed by those who call themselves theonomic postmillennialists, and who are also partial preterists. Not all partial preterist have adopted this view publicly. It is therefore improper to refer to all partial preterists as having adopted this view of preterism. However, since this charge of “damnable heresy” has originated from those within their ranks, I will refer to those who have laid this charge against preterists as partial preterists, or, theonomic postmillennialists.
Why have partial preterists changed their position and taken such a sharp view against preterism? Why have they broken with the historical church’s acceptance of the preterist view as a non-damnable, viable option to the study of eschatology? Why do they seek to excommunicate those who have historically, since the reformation, been regarded as “brethren”? Essentially, by doing so, they are seeking to distinguish themselves, and their partially preterist views of prophecy, from those who hold a full preterist view. Their preterist interpretations of prophecy, most of which we are in total agreement, has been getting a wide reading, and a significant amount of exposure among the predominantly futuristic oriented Christian public, through the recent publication of “Four views of the book of Revelation” and “Three views of the millennium and beyond” (both published by Zondervan). In addition to this, R.C Sproul, a well known author of non-prophecy oriented books, has recently published a book on eschatology that sets fourth both the partial preterist view and the full preterist view (Quoting Russell, approvingly, on many occasions”). By distinguishing the full preterist view as heretical and the partial preterist view as non-heretical (orthodox preterism) they believe they can avoid being associated with full preterists in the minds of the Christian public. This is beneficial to them because in addition to preterism, they are also promoting theonomic post-millennialism. Theonomic postmillennialism is essentially the belief that the world, its government, culture, and society will eventually, through the preaching of the gospel, and the application of biblical Law (including the moral and judicial aspects of the old covenant) will become Christianized before the second coming will occur. It is in this expectation that their futurism comes into focus. In order for their theonomic postmillennial futurism to work or, if a future utopian society is contained in the eschatological outlook of the scriptures (as they interpret them) then they must necessarily be “partial preterist”. Gentry claimed that a “feature of theonomic postmillennialism (though not essential to it) is its preterist approach to a number of the great judgment passages of the New Testament” (Three views on the millennium and beyond, p, 21). In my opinion, this is a gross understatement. Not only is preterism not essential to theonomic postmillennialism, it is detrimental to it. For this reason, partial preterists need to create a sharp distinction in the minds of Christians by calling the preterist view “heretical”.
Unfortunately, their “anathema” against preterism is beginning to have repercussions that they were not expecting. Some futurists have followed their lead in anathematizing brothers, charging that all “preterists”, whether partial or full, are equally damned. Their reason for this is based upon the fact that partial preterists are inconsistent hermeneutically. The logical, consistent application of the hermeneutic principles employed by partial preterism is indeed full preterism. From this perspective, perhaps, the only reason partial preterist’s have launched such a frenzied attack against preterism is in an attempt to be the first ones to actually make the charge of preterism stick. By doing this they hope they will be able to distance themselves from preterism in the minds of the Christian public, avoiding the charge of heresy.
Unfortunately this tactic will not save them from the charge of heresy that will inevitably come back on them for the simple fact that both preterism and partial preterism is derived from the same hermeneutic principles. Partial preterism is only inconsistent in its application of those principles. If this trend of damning brothers continues, if the partial preterists do not retract their condemning statements, I fear that both full preterists and partial preterists will suffer the damaging effects of strife and division. It is my hope that partial preterists will come to see that it would be beneficial for both preterist camps to stop the anathemas.
Creeds: The Only Line of Defense
The basis upon which partial preterists have charged full preterists with heresy has been the ecumenical creeds. Since the ecumenical creeds refer to the Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead and the judgment of the living and the dead in a futuristic manner, and full preterists affirm the fulfillment of all three events in a historical, or preterist, manner, full preterists deviate from the ecumenical creeds. This deviation is said to be what “damns” full preterists. It must be seen, however, that full preterists believe 100% in the events themselves and the occurrence of these events. It is the nature and the timing of these events that is an issue.
Sproul has observed that the full preterist “position is greeted by partial preterists with the charge of heresy and heterodoxy. Full preterists agree that their views depart from creedal orthodoxy, but insist that they do not depart from biblical orthodoxy.” However, I believe he goes too far in saying, “Both sides agree that in the final analysis the test for orthodoxy must be the bible, not the creeds”. (The Last Days According to Jesus, p.159). Evidently, creedal orthodoxy is all that most partial preterists are interested in. This has become evident in that with very few exceptions, the creeds have been referred to as the sole test of orthodoxy. In fact, partial preterists refuse to exegete scripture with full preterists. The reason for their heavy reliance upon the creeds is that if they were to refute preterism from the scriptures they would lose! They would inevitably have to either accept full preterism (as this is the end result of consistently applying the interpretive principles that lead to a preterist view of prophecy) or deny their partial preterism. Therefore, they must cling to the historical understanding of the nature and timing of the eschatological events under discussion as they are represented in the ecumenical creeds.
The charge of heresy against preterists is centered on the most fundamental aspect of both full preterism and partial preterism—timing. Basic to any preteristic interpretation is the appearance of time indicators such as near, at hand, quickly, this generation, and some standing here shall not taste death. Gentry stated that “When a contextually defined passage applies to the A.D. 70 event, the hyper-preterists [full preterists] will take all passages with similar language and apply them to .AD 70, as well. But this similarity does not imply identity…I hold that passages specifically delimiting the time frame by temporal indicators (such as ‘this generation,’ shortly,’ ‘at hand,’ ‘near,’ and similar wording) are to be applied to A.D. 70, but similar-sounding passages may not be so applied” (Gentry, Brief theological analysis of Hyper-preterism). In the above statement, Gentry is attempting to mislead the reader into thinking that the resurrection of the dead, and the judgment of the dead do not appear with temporal indicators attached to them in scripture. This is not true, as we shall momentarily see. Since temporal indicators do appear in contextually defined resurrection and judgment passages it is apparent that he does not hold that ALL “passages specifically delimiting the time-frame by temporal indicators…are to be applied to A.D. 70”. Only SOME passages with temporal indicators may be so applied, or, all passages except the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked and the judgment of the living and the dead.
Gentry stated that the appearance of temporal indicators such as “near”, “at hand” and “quickly”, “opens the question of the meaning of the event expected, not of the temporal significance“ of the temporal indicators themselves (Four Views On The Book of Revelation, P.41). Paul’s usage of the temporal verb “mello”, in Acts 24:15, “There is about to be (Greek, mello) a resurrection of the dead” and Peter’s declaration that God was “ready to judge the living and the dead” should not be treated in any other manner that the rest of the scriptures Gentry cites approvingly as having a preterist application. In fact, according to Gentry’s own argument, the use of such temporal statements “opens up the meaning of the event expected”. By refusing to allow the temporal indicators (That appear “surprisingly” in passages that deal with the resurrection of the dead and the judgment of the living and the dead) to actually indicate time, (Opening up the question of the nature of the resurrection and judgment) he has undercut his own preterist position. By refusing to acknowledge the fulfillment of the temporally expected events (resurrection of the dead and the judgment of the living and the dead), as well as the non literal (non-physical) nature of these events, he has aligned himself with the multitude of interpreters who have traditionally sought to maintain the inerrancy of the bible, yet explain why, for some reason, eschatological expectations failed to take place when they were so expected.
We Who Are Alive and Remain Until The Coming Of The Lord
Paul’s statement that, “This we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain untill the coming of the Lord will not precede those who have fallen asleep”, has been interpreted by full preterist’s in the same manner that we interpret the words of Jesus in Matt. 16:27-28,
“For the Son of Man is about to (mello) come in the glory of His Father with His angels; an will then recompense every man according to his deeds. Verily I say to you that there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
In both passages the “coming of the Lord”, or the “coming of the Son of Man” is said to take place before all “taste death”, or “all sleep”. The obvious similarity is compelling, not just to full preterists, but also others who have no prerogative to prove preterism, even among liberals who doubt the authenticity of Jesus’ sayings. E.P. Sanders made the observation that “the general theme of a heavenly figure who comes with angels is very early and quite possibly goes back to Jesus. The earliest evidence is 1Thess. 4:15-17. Paul writes that it is [according to] ‘a word of the Lord’ that,
‘We who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of a trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air’…
Sanders continues saying, “the similarities between this passage and the synoptic depiction’s of the Son of man coming with angels, accompanied by the sound of a trumpet, while some are still alive (Matt. 24:30f. and parr.; Matt. 16:277 and parr.), are so close that it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that both reflect a tradition which, before Paul, was already attributed to Jesus. The similarities between Paul and Matthew are most striking, for only Matthew has a trumpet (24:31). But even without this phrase the relationships are close”. (E.P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism p.144.
Strangely, partial preterists do not recognize that either the explicit reference to the “word of the Lord” nor the explicit statement that “we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord” (both of which obviously directs our attention to Matt. 16:27-28 and Matt. 24:30:34) indicates that Paul has the AD 70 event in mind. Gentry would rather qualify our “connecting” 1Thess 4 with Matt. 16 and Matt. 24 as merely “similar wording” which “may or may not be so applied [to AD 70]”. I guess whether or not it is applied to AD 70 or not depends on whether or not Gentry SAYS SO. As one preterist writer once said, “Israel has no monopoly on blindness”.
The Harvest Was Ripe
In addition to the explicit references of nearness of the resurrection and judgment of the dead above, the fact that Christ is identified in scripture as “the first fruits” (1Cor. 15:20) is significant. Ladd observed that, “First fruits were common in Palestinian agriculture. They were the first grain of the harvest, indicating that the harvest itself was ripe and ready to be gathered in. The firstfruits were not the harvest itself, yet they were more than a pledge and promise of the harvest. They were the actual beginning of the harvest. The act of reaping had already begun; the grain was being cut” (Ladd, A Theology Of The New Testament. P. 362). This fact lends support to the preterist contention that the eschatological resurrection was regarded, in the New Testament, as imminent. Indeed, “the act of reaping had already begun: the grain was being cut”. This poses a significant problem for all futurists. Ladd deals with it by saying that, “The temporal relationship is unimportant. It matters not how long an interval of time intervenes between these two stages of the resurrection. This does not affect the logical relationship or, it would be better to say, the theological relationship” (Ladd. 362). How could it not affect the theological relationship? If the expected harvest did not follow soon from the cutting of the firstfruits then it follows that the harvest was not even ripe at the time the first fruits was cut. Or even worse, if the field was already “ripe” and “the Lord of the harvest” never sent his reapers to harvest the field, then either the first fruit was not accepted and the field burned, or the wheat died out (weed infested)! Contrary to Ladd’s observations, there is a significant theological implication involved in the timing of the resurrection as Jesus related it to Palestinian agriculture. Are the partial preterists going to present these same tired arguments—arguments that attempt to explain the non-occurrence of the imminently expected harvest? Hear Jesus on the matter, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal” (John 4:35,36). Regardless of what interpretation Gentry and his peers insist on placing upon the meaning of the “end of the age” in Matt. 13, the fact of the matter stands—the harvest was ripe in the first century and, therefore, is temporally conditioned.
Essentially, partial preterism is a system of interpretation based upon eschatological dualism. What I mean by “dualism” is that they must duplicate many, if not all, of the eschatological events that they believe occurred in A.D. 70. As a result, the AD 70 “consummation of the age” is stripped of its rich, consummative, redemptive significance. The redemptive significance of AD 70 can be seen in Luke 21:28, Jesus said that “when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Peter also claimed that the those in his day were “protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1Pet. 1:5) The “outcome of [their] faith” was nothing less than “the salvation of your souls” at “the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1Pet. 7,d 9, 13). Peter indicates that this “salvation ready to be revealed” is nothing less than that which the Old Testament prophets sought for as their eschatological expectation (v.10).
When partial preterists assert that new testament scripture looks forward to two comings, two passings of heaven and earth, two new creations, two judgments, two ends of the age, etc., they must either downplay the near future expectation of redemption contained in these passages or down play the consummative significance of the near futuristic expectation, or sometimes both. For the most part they down play the consummative significance of redemption/salvation delivered to the saints in AD 70, when the Son of Man “came on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory”, placing the “consummation” at a future-to-AD 70 coming of the Son of Man “in glory” and with “clouds”. Despite the fact that Gentry claims his “preterist understanding of Revelation…explains the enormous redemptive-historical change from the old covenant economy to the new” (Four Views on The Book of Revelation, p.91), the redemptive implications of theonomic postmillennial partial preterism are ultimately futuristic. This means that no matter how “enormous” the redemptive-historical change that took place in AD 70 is described, it did not fulfill Old and New testament expectation of consummated resurrection change completely. Sin still has its place in the body of Christ (which is his church). Although they will probably deny this, it remains that for them, death still has its sting which is sin (1Cor. 15:54) so long as “this mortal” has not yet “put on immortality” (1Cor. 15:54). Separating redemption into two categories (e.g. the soul now vs. the body later) doesn’t relieve them of this problem, “do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ” (1Cor. 6:14)?
The Redemptive Implications of Eschatological dualism
The consummative, redemptive significance of A.D. 70 can be seen in that it was expected to be the time when Jesus would “recompense (reward) every man according to his deeds” (Matt. 16:27,28; Rev. 22:12). Partial preterists rightly claim these passages were fulfilled in AD 70 because Jesus said He would come “quickly”, before “some standing here…taste death” (Rev. 22:12; Matt. 16:28). However, for them, the “reward” that Jesus rendered to “every man” does not fulfill the reward of Matt. 25. Most partial preterist regard Matt. 25 as referring, not to AD 70 but rather, to a future, bodily coming of Christ that will end history. In Matthew 25 Jesus said that “when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, that then he would reward the sheep with their inheritance (“inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”) which is also “eternal life” (v. 46).
Historically, full preterists have argued that the language in Matt. 16:27:28 is virtually identical with that in Matt. 25:31. Both passages relate the coming of “the Son of Man” in “glory” and “with angels”. They also both relate the universal judgment of “every man” (Matt. 16:27), or, “all the nations”. Partial preterists have attempted to get around this similar language by arguing that similarity of speech does not suggest identity of subject matter. Although they are correct in principle, nevertheless, similarity of speech is strongly suggestive of the identity of subject matter; especially where there is not any clear statement to the contrary. Perhaps this is why even those from within partial preterism have regarded Matthew 25 as referring to A.D. 70. Gary DeMar once held a preterist interpretation of Matt. 25, whether he still holds this view is uncertain; especially in light of Gary north’s recent condemnation of J.S. Russell for having a preterist interpretation of Matt. 25.
Immortality and Eternal Life
However, another line of argumentation that demonstrates the preterist interpretation of the consummative significance of A.D. 70 inherent in Matt. 16, 25, and Rev. 22:12 can be seen in Rom. 2. Paul recognized that those in His day, both Jew and Gentile (vv. 9-12), were “storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to His deeds; to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation” (Rom. 2:5-9). It seems clear enough that Paul had the words of Jesus in mind when he referred to the “day of wrath” as a time when Jesus would “render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6; Matt. 16:27; Rev. 22:12). However the reward that the saints in Christ were seeking for, and would receive, was nothing less than “immortality” and/or “eternal life” (v.5). The “immortality” that those, “in doing good seek for” is nothing less than the expectation of the consummated “change” wherein “this mortal will have put on immortality” (1Cor. 15:45). And the “eternal life” associated with “the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” is nothing less than that which Jesus said belonged to his sheep at his coming (Matt. 25:31,36). Can there be any doubt that Paul has the AD 70 “coming of the Son of Man” in mind? What partial preterist teaches a future “day of wrath” (v.5), “tribulation”, “distress” (v.9) and “judgment” (v. 2,3,5,12,16) for those “under the law”, or “the Jews” (Rom. 2:12)? I don’t know of any. Indeed, they assert that all the prophecies about “wrath upon this people” (the Jews) were fulfilled in AD 70.
One Future Day of Judgment
Furthermore, Paul says that this “day of wrath” is “THE day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (Rom. 2:16). According to Paul’s gospel there is but ONE day when God would “judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus”. Partial preterists must have at least TWO days! Consequently, this ONE day when, God “will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” is also the ONE day when “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2Cor. 2:10).
The Already the Not yet and the Much Later
The eschatological hope of the Old Testament saints and New Testament saints is rooted in two redemptive focal points. In scripture, the two eschatological focal points that encompass the complete fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan, are the cross/resurrection and the Second Coming. These two focal points mark out the “consummation of the ages”. As the author of Hebrews noted, “but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself… having been offered once to bear the sins of many, [He] shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him”.
As a direct result of the cross/resurrection, the “new covenant” and “age to come” had been inaugurated (Heb. 9:15, 6:5) while the “old covenant” and the “present age” had not yet come to an end (Matt. 24:3; Heb. 8:13). Also, believers in Jesus became entitled to inherit the blessings of salvation as “sons of God” since the Holy Spirit had been “given as a pledge of our inheritance with the view to the redemption of God’s own possession” (Eph. 1:14). Because of the fact that the cross\resurrection is the coherent center of eschatology and soteriology, the first century saints sometimes proclaim a realized eschatology. This can be seen on numerous occasions: “we are children of God”, “in Him we have redemption”, “in Him we have also obtained an inheritance”, “but now [His purpose] has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”.
At other times the expectation of a future day, when eschatological hope is realized, comes into view: “now our salvation is closer than when we first believed”, “even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body”, “He must reign until He has put all His enemies under his feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death”. Without any doubt, the futuristic focal point is the Second Coming Of Christ (Heb. 9:28).
The glaring problem in the partial preterist system is that scripture never duplicates eschatological events. In scripture, the two focal points are the cross/resurrection and the Second Coming. But these two eschatological events are NEVER duplicated. Just as “now ONCE at the consummation of the ages He has put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” and, “inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die ONCE”…”So Christ also…shall appear a second time” only ONCE “for salvation…to those who eagerly await Him”.
For Partial preterists, the “salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1Pet.1:5) cannot be equated with that which was received “already” prior to A.D. 70 because, for them, ”present” salvation stands over against “future” bodily resurrection (redemption of the body). For them, “present” salvation was already complete before AD 7 in as much as it pertains to the “spirit” or “soul” of man. Whereas, the “future” expectation will be equally as complete in as much as it pertains to the “body” of man that goes to the “dust of the earth”. In this construct, partial preterists have no place for the redemptive significance of obtaining “redemption” (Lu.21:28), “salvation” (1Pet. 1:5) or “the eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15) in AD 70. In their view, whatever is to be equated with A.D. 70 can only be a progressive aspect of the Kingdom and not the consummative aspect of the kingdom. Hence, the first century saints could not have possibly expected consummated redemption in A.D. 70. However, Peter instructed the church to “set your hope completely upon the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. Why would Peter tell the church to set their future expectation of “hope COMPLETELY upon the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” in AD 70 if AD 70 did not fulfill their futuristic expectation of “hope” COMPLETELY? It should be obvious that the AD 70 “coming of the Son of Man”, or “revelation of Jesus Christ” did, in fact, fulfill the futuristic expectation of redemption rooted in the eschatological prophecies of the Old Testament and The New testament COMPLETELY. It should be apparent that ALL futuristic hope was directed to the one “revelation of Jesus Christ” that occurred in AD 70-not some alleged future-to-AD 70 coming of Christ at an alleged end of human history. AD 70 was the time of consummation fulfillment, not merely a progressive aspect of the kingdom devoid of consummative significance.
What scriptures apply to what end?
What scriptures do partial preterists use to support their post-AD 70 continuation of pre-consummative history? What scriptures refer to the end of human history? What scriptures deal with the consummation of redemption? If scripture CLEARLY refers to two events, both called the “coming of the Son of Man”, one which consummates the old covenant age, and the other which consummates earth history, we would expect those who claim such notions to agree with one another as to which scriptures apply to which “end time”. However, this is simply not the case. In fact there is a large degree of diversity among partial preterists as to which passages refer to AD 70 and which passages refer to the alleged “end of earth history”. To begin with we will look at How Partial preterists have interpreted redemptive history and the meaning of the term “last days”.
Eschatological History and the Last Days
All partial preterists affirm that earth history will end at the alleged future second advent, which will witness the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked and the judgment of the living and the dead. It is affirmed by partial preterists that the “end of the age” that transpired in AD 70 when “The Son of Man [came] in the glory of His father, with His angels [to] recompense every man according to his deeds” (Matt. 16:27-28; 24:3), did not witness the resurrection and judgment. Since, for them, AD 70 did not did not witness the fulfillment of bodily redemption (resurrection), whatever “history” came to an end in AD 70 must be distinguished from earth history because earth history, obviously, continued beyond AD 70.
Beginning with the covenant between God and Adam, Gentry traces what he calls the “redemptive historical flow of postmillennialism” through history until messianic victory is accomplished in history. Referring to Gen. 3:15, Gentry stated that “This passage anticipates struggle in history; the seeds of the representative participants in the Fall will engage in mortal conflict. Ultimately, this is a cosmic struggle between Christ and Satan, a contest played out on earth and in time between the city of humanity (under the dominion of Satan) and the city of God. Its historical nature is crucial to grasp: the Fall occurs in history; the struggle ensues in history; the focal seed of the woman appears in history (the historical Christ, who is the incarnation of the transcendent Creator, John 1:1,3-14)… Postmillennialists emphasize the covenantal crushing of Satan in history at Christ’s first advent, with its results being progressively worked out in history on the plane of Adam’s original rebellion, Satan’s consequent struggle, and Christ’s incarnational intrusion. The protoevangelium promises in seed form (no pun intended) the victory of Christ in history, just as the Fall and its effects are in history. The first Adam’s fall will be overcome by the second Adam’s lifting up. God does not abandon history” (Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond p. 28).
Much of what has been said by Gentry (above) is affirmed by full preterists. The only difference between full preterists and partial preterists is that partial preterists believe that the first Adam’s fall has NOT been overcome by the second Adams having been lifted up whereas full preterists believe Christians, TODAY, have overcame Adams fall COMPLETELY through Christ’s historical “lifting up” and his future appearance “a second time… for salvation” (Heb. 9:28). It is true that partial preterists believe Christ Himself has overcame the effects of Adams fall “in history”, but ultimately, according to their futuristic interpretation of the resurrection of the dead and the second advent, Christians today have not yet overcome the effects of Adams original sin. In fact, according to their interpretation of “the end” in 1Cor. 15:24, those ‘in Christ” will never obtain Christ’s victory over Adams “sin” and its effects (death) in history because in their view, the resurrection must occur at the end of earth history. Consequently, contrary to Gentry’s assertion that his postmillennial views of Messianic victory provide evidence that “God does not abandon history”, It would appear that this is the logical conclusion of his futurist position. History will never witness the consummated fulfillment of Christ’s victory over Adams sin.
The distinguishing factor between partial and full preterism with respect to “history” can be seen in that the “history” that “messianic victory is tied to”, is identified by Gentry as “preconsummative history, before the renovation of the present universe and the establishment of the eternal new heavens and earth”. Gentry sees evidence of this in Ps. 72, “He will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, throughout all generations. He will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth. In his days the righteous will flourish, prosperity will abound till the moon is no more He will rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth”. Gentry wrote that “Our eschatological future up to the Second Advent is continually unfolding in the present era—the “now” time. No additional redemptive-historical era remains”. For Gentry, “the “now” time is also the last days”… the fullness of time”. (Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, p. 134).
Again, neither partial nor full preterists disagree that the Messianic reign of Christ in VICTORY will have consequences in earth history. Nevertheless, Messianic victory, “when He has abolished all rule and all authority and powers”, “the last enemy” being “death” (1Cor. 15:24, 26), or, when “death is swallowed up in victory” (v. 54), occurs at “the end” (v. 24). If “the end” means the end of earth history, which is also preconsummative history, then how can Messianic victory be tied to preconsummative history? How can the protoevangellum promise the victory of Christ in history? It simply cannot for the simple fact that Messianic victory is consummative. Gentry uses the term “Messianic victory” in a generic sense. In his view, victory is a progressive, preconsummational aspect of the kingdom as well as a consummational aspect of the kingdom. There is nothing inherently wrong in this. However, this is misleading to the reader who is uninformed of the “generic” usage of the term “Messianic victory”. As I am sure Gentry would agree, Messianic victory must ultimately be distinguished as the end result or goal of His preconsummational reign. Victory is not true victory until “he has abolished all rule and all authority and power…the last enemy… [being] death”. In the postmillennial scheme this aspect of victory must ultimately be disconnected from earth history. In saying that, “The protoevangelum promises in seed form (no pun intended) the victory of Christ in history”, he is misleading the reader (in my opinion) into believing that his optimistic postmillennialism sees true victory for Christ and His church in history when, in fact, Gentry does not believe this.
Full preterists can rightly say that Christ reigns in victory with His Church (his body) in victory (when he has abolished all enemies). We affirm that Messianic victory has, and will continue to have, positive effects in human history because preconsummative history is not identified with human history in terms of eschatological history. What this means is that preconsummational, redemptive history can and does have an expression of its own that stands beside time and earth history. Evidence of this can be seen in the fact that A.D. 70 was the “end” or “consummation” of a determinate segment of history, or, an “age”, that ran its course from beginning to end independently from, along side (or within), ordinary history. As Gary DeMar rightly observed, “Therefore the expression “end of the age” refers ‘to the end of the Jewish age’” (Last Days Madness; Obsession of the Modern Churchp.57). And in this sense, “an important covenantal era was about to end, the era of ‘the fathers in the prophets; (Ibid. p.28). DeMar went on to say that “The last days were in operation in the first century when God was manifested in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ… in AD 70 the last days ended with the dissolution of the temple and the sacrificial system.” (Ibid. p. 28). Chilton also remarked that “The Biblical expression Last Days properly refers to the period from the Advent of Christ untill the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, the “Last Days” of Israel during the transition period from the Old covenant to the new covenant” (Days of Vengeance, p.16, footnote). He recognized that “The meaning of Israel’s history is the bearing of the Manchild, Jesus Christ” (P583), apart from this fact their history “has no significance” (Ibid. p. 300). It follows, naturally, that if the “last days” of Israel’s history transpired in AD 70, and the meaning of their particular history is bearing the seed of Christ, then it is through their particular history that the promised seed (Christ) effected redemption. Indeed, Chilton goes further in stating that “Israel was laboring to give birth to the Christ, to bring in the Messianic age” (Ibid. p.300). Chilton rightly observed that “As the Old Covenant was the era of (relative) Night, the New Covenant is the era of the Day, for the world moves eschatologically from Darkness to Light… The New Covenant is thus the promised “age to come” (Ibid. P. 584). We are in complete agreement with Chilton on these points. However, we are in total disagreement with him when he refers to the “messianic age”, or the “age to come” in temporal terms. Where In Jesus’ teaching did he ever say that the “age to come” would end? Where does scripture teach the end of the new covenant? If Chilton is correct that the world moves eschatologically from the old covenant era of darkness to the new covenant era of light, and the new covenant era does not contain the consummated eschatological hope of the old and new covenant saints, then what covenantal era will witness consummated fulfillment? In Chilton’s view the new covenant era of light must end. For him, the Post-A.D. 70 era, the “kingdom age” is also the Millennium. As such it exhibits a “limited, provisional nature as a pre-consummational era” (Ibid. p. 507). In other words, the redemptive significance of Israel’s bringing fourth the seed of Christ, and the Messianic age that ensued, still cannot provide the church with consummated redemption. In fact, the age that was established by means of the cross/resurrection, and the inherent “powers of the age to come”, must end, and indeed, be completely replaced. If the old covenant and its age of preconsummative history cannot fulfill God's promised redemption, and the age produced by the consummation of the old covenant age (e.g. the new covenant and its age) cannot fulfill God’s promised redemption as an alleged preconsummational age of history, then what will? Is there to be another “covenant”? Is there to be another “age” that has more “light”? To these questions partial preterists must answer “ yes” and “yes”. This is untenable from the perspective of the entire bible.
The only solution that can relieve partial preterists of their problematic views of temporality in the new covenant/age of Christ is to recognize that eschatological history is the particular history of Israel, and not earth history. Eschatologically, history has ended. The “age about to come” in the new testament came. It is as eternal as the risen Lord. It exists along side of ordinary earth history in the same way that old covenant history existed along side ordinary earth history. The difference is that consummated redemption has been effected in Christ and can be obtained freely by all those who come to him in earth history from A.D. 70 onward. This does not mean that earth history will necessarily continue forever. What it does mean is that biblical eschatology is not concerned with the end of earth history as such. As Chilton observed, the history of Israel would have been meaningless apart from the fact that the seed of Christ came through their history. Indeed, in the old testament historical account, the history of nations and peoples outside of the covenantal history of Adam, Abraham, Israel is meaningless. So why should we ascribe eschatology to a history which has no meaning redemptively? For this reason the history of Israel is eschatological history. This “history within history” was consummated in Israel’s bringing fourth the promised seed of Christ who delivers humanity from the effects of Adams transgression—death.
The “powers of the age to come” consist of the cross/resurrection and the parousia of Christ. They are effectual in the new covenant through which “the great shepherd of the sheep” was “brought up from the dead” (Heb. 13:20). Resurrection life is covenant life. The covenantal resurrection life obtained by Christ in his resurrection is devoid of sin, hence “death is no longer master over him” (Rom. 6:9). Accordingly, Paul recognized Christians to be “dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (v. 11). This life that is “in Christ Jesus”, and imparted to believers, is as eternal and complete as the age to which it belongs. Whether earth history ends or continues on for eternity, it does not affect the duration of the new covenant age. The “end” of the old covenant age had nothing to do with the end of human history so why should the eternal age of the church be affected, or, affect the continuation, or, discontinuation of human history?
The Last Days According To Gentry
As we pointed out already. Gary DeMar and David Chilton both recognized that the last days refer exclusively to the transition period from the cross to AD 70. However, not all partial preterists recognize this. Kenneth Gentry believes that the last days refer to the period of time that extends from the first advent to the second advent at the end of earth history (Three Views on the Millennium, p. 134). Keep in mind, partial preterists need to have scriptural evidence that preconsummational history continued beyond A.D 70 if they are to even begin to effectively refute the full preterist view. If they cannot produce exegetical evidence that redemptive history continued beyond AD 70 they cannot thereby “prove” a second, second coming”. Gentry attempts to find evidence for the post AD 70 continuation of preconsummative history in the term “last days” and the “fullness of time”. Perhaps he has recognized the weakness in DeMar and Chilton’s “dualism”—that nowhere can it be determined from scripture that there are two sets of “last days”. Nevertheless, the view adopted by Gentry, that “Christ is the center point of history, dividing it into two parts… the B.C. era and the A.D. era, between the past (before Christ’s incarnation) and the present (after his incarnation)” (Ibid. P, 134), is not without serious problems. The most glaring is evident in the meaning of the words themselves. The eschatological term “last days” comes to us from the Old testament. The Hebrew word “acherith” (last) denotes “the hindmost part”, or the “furthermost part”. When coupled with “hajammim” (days) it denotes the hindmost part of the days, or literally, the end or completion of the days. The Greek “eschatos” is also to be understood as “last” in the sense that it represents the further most point. It does not denote “last” in the sense of being contrasted with the “first, or, the “latter” with the “former”. The way the Hebrews understood and used the term “acherith” can be illustrated with an analogy drawn from a child who is told by his parents to go to the end (acherith/eschatos) of the line. The Child does not think of relocating to a spot somewhere just behind the middle person. He does not think of anywhere between the middle and the end. He knows to go to the furthermost part—the end. By forcing the last days to mean almost two thousand years (and still counting), Gentry has clearly missed the meaning of the term itself. When the authors of the New testament affirm that “the end of the days” are present, they are affirming that “the end” is upon them. From this perspective the imminent eschatological expectation of the new testament authors rings clear; “Children, it is the last hour” (1John 2:18), “the world is passing away” (1John 2:17), “the time has been shortened”, “the form of this world is passing away”, (1Cor. 7:29:31), “The end of all things is at hand”, “they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1Pet, 4:6-7; “Behold the Judge is standing right at the door (James 5:9,); “There is about to be a resurrection of the dead” (Acts 24:15); “set your hope completely upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1Pet. 1:13); ”awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Cor. 1:7-8).
The term “fullness of time” must really be interpreted as only half full in Gentry’s view. If we were to think of time itself as a container, and the container is said to have been “full”, then how does Gentry continue to pour two thousand years into it without it running over? When Jesus told the Pharisees to “fill up the measure of the sins of your forefathers”, a generation did not pass before “wrath has come upon them to the uttermost”. Yet, strangely, when time is said to be already full in the first century, Gentry continues to fill it up with twenty more centuries. Indeed, time is running out! (pun intended). I think Gentry is making a mess that he needs to clean up! The fact that time was full is an indication that the time for consummative fulfillment was at hand. There is not any logical way around this—and certainly not any scriptural way around this. Biblically, the term “last days”, “fullness of time”, and “Consummation of the ages” all refer to the final days of the Old covenant economy. They span from the first advent to the second advent in AD 70. Partial preterism does not receive any support from scripture in an attempt to extend preconsummational history beyond AD 70 based on the last days, or, the fullness of time”.
Sproul and the Age of the Gentiles
has attempted to find evidence of post-AD 70 preconsummative history in the term “times of the gentiles”. This phrase is found in Luke’s account of the olivet discourse; “And Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke. 21:24). Sproul comments that, “Fundamental to preterism is the contention that the phrase ‘the end of the age’ refers specifically to the end of the Jewish age and the beginning of the age of the Gentiles, or the Church” (Last Days according to Jesus, p. 71). Furthermore, “Since the New Testament does speak of the age of the Gentiles, it is reasonable to assume that this age is in contrast to some age of the Jews” (p. 84). Sproul is incorrect in pointing out that it is “fundamental to preterism” that the phrase “end of the age” refers to the end of the Jewish age “specifically”. This is true for full preterism but not partial preterism. Fundamental to partial preterism is the contention that the end of the age refers only sometimes to the end of the Jewish age (Matt. 24:3). Other times (Matt. 13:46) it is fundamentally referred to as the end of earth/human history. Furthermore, DeMar, Gentry, and Chilton, all believe that “the times of the Gentiles” in Luke 21:24 refers to either the “forty-two” month period mentioned in Rev. 11:2 (the Jewish war against Rome) or the time during which Jerusalem was ruled over from the time of the Babylonian captivity to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
This raises the question of whether “the New Testament does speak of the age of the Gentiles” or not. There is certainly an “age that is about (mello) to come” in new testament scripture (Mark 10:30). It is also certain that “the present” age was about to end” (1Cor. 10:11). Also, that the “present age” was characteristically “Jewish”, that is, characterized by the Jewish particularism of the Old covenant economy, can be seen in 1Cor. 2. Paul wrote that,
“We do speak a wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to out glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1Cor. 2:6-8).
The “wisdom” referred to by Paul is “the word of the cross” that is “the power of God”. Paul preached “Christ Crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to the Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom”. For Paul, however, this “wisdom” is “not of this age” (1Cor. 2:6). For the wisdom and power of God through the cross are “powers of the age to come” that were already being “tasted” in advance of the end of the present age (Heb. 6:5). Since the “powers of the age to come” are evident in Christ crucified and the “power of God” that effects salvation, then the “age about to come” is necessarily Christian. It is, however, devoid of particularism, whether Jew or Gentile. It is not “the age of the gentiles”. It belongs to “those who are called, both Jews and greeks” (1Cor. 2:23). That Paul is referring to “this age” as the old covenant age is clear in that the “rulers of this age” were those who “crucified the Lord of glory” (v.8). This is a reference to the Jewish rulers (chief priests) who demanded his crucifixion not the Romans (They found no guilt in Him). Hence, they were “passing away” with their age (1Cor. 11:15; 1Cor. 7:31; 1John 2:17).
Having pointed out the above, I hope the notion of particularism in the new covenant age, e.g. that the “christian age” is an “age of the gentiles”, can be put to rest. Also, hopefully it can be seen that the supposed evidence for extending preconsummational history beyond the end of the age that occurred in AD 70 is quickly dwindling. Scripture breathes not one word about unconsummated, eschatological history beyond the “consummation of the age” (Matt. 24:3) that Jesus said would occur before “this generation” passed away (v. 34), nor “the end of all things” that Peter said was “at hand” (1Pet. 4:7), nor the time when “all things written” would be “fulfilled” (also before “this generation” passed away”, Luke 21:24). Also, hopefully those who have been with me so far can see the non-sense in partial preterists claim that scripture CLEARLY teaches a distinction between the end of the Jewish age and the end of earth history. For the most part, partial preterists don’t even agree upon which passages clearly relate an alleged continuation of preconsummational history beyond AD 70. Later we will show that this is true also, regarding which passages teach the alleged “destruction” of the physical universe. The fact that they do not all agree shows that their eschatological dualism is not as clear as they would lead us to believe, and ultimately utterly false.
Preconsummational History in Romans 9-11
Before moving on, it is important to note that Gentry sees in Rom. 9-11 a future of Israel that necessarily extends beyond A.D. 70. In his contribution to the book “Three views on the Millennium and beyond” (Zondervan) Gentry challenges the view of Robert Strimple (amillennarian), a view that does not see a “future mass conversion of Israel” before the second coming of Christ, stating that “The presently operating ‘now’ time witnesses Jewish disobedience and Gentile conversion; the remaining portion of the ‘now’ time will eventually witness the return of Israel to God” (Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, p.135). Gentry stated that he believes Romans 9-11 teaches that "the state of affairs in the first century (and even to the present) has the majority of both Gentiles and Israel in opposition to God. But once the Gentiles are saved in full number (in this continuing age), [which Gentry believes is also the “last days” and “the fullness of time”] then the Jews will return to God in full number, upon completing this “wave action” the world as such will be saved.” (Ibid. p, 141) Gentry obviously attempts to see a future day of mass conversion of Israel beyond the “consummation of the age” in AD 70. For him, the restoration of “all Israel” can only occur when Gentiles come in to the church “in full number”.
Since his understanding of “fullness” is quantitative (in terms of numbers) rather than qualitative, (as pleroma denotes “fullness” in the sense that the church would attain to the “fullness [pleroma] of Christ”, Eph. 4:13), the Gentiles coming into the church “in full number” (pleroma) could not have been accomplished in AD 70 nor any time in history. Gentrys futuristic interpretation of the restoration (the salvation of “all Israel”) presents two insurmountable problems. One affects his “postmillennialism’ and the other, his preterism.
First, by interpreting the “fullness of the Gentiles” quantitatively he has undercut his postmillennial interpretation. This can be seen in his response to Strimple who asked, “How an age could follow after the fullness of both the Gentiles and Israel”. Gentry replied that “The answer appears simple…once the Gentiles are saved in full number (in this continuing age) then the Jews will return to God in full number…This does not however entail an each-and-every universalism. Consequently, a threefold task remains: (a) Continue proclaiming the gospel to the lost, though they are now a minority. (b) Sustain the majoritarian influence of Christianity on succeeding generations through family nurture, Christian education, and gospel proclamation. (c) Develop the cultural implications of the Christian worldview in all of life on a scale theretofore unknown. (Ibid. p, 141, 142)
The inadequacy of Gentry’s response should be glaring. If the gentiles and Jews are saved in full number then how do more Jews and gentiles continue to be brought into the church to be saved? Again, Gentry tries to fit more and more into that which is already full! He has severely undercut his postmillennial position. If “fullness” refers to numbers then Strimple is right; salvation history (as he interprets it) is discontinued. If all that will be saved are saved then what further need is there for task A: Continue proclaiming the gospel to the lost, though they are now a minority”? Or, if the lost continue to be saved, then how could the fullness (as Gentry interprets fullness) of the Jews and Gentiles have already been fulfilled? Gentry says that by the bringing in of the fullness of Jews and Gentiles “History no more has to end simply because the race is saved than we must die when we are saved” (Ibid. p, 141). On the contrary, according to the Postmillennial view history must end. If all that will be saved are saved, then there is no longer any need to cary out the great commission. If the full number of all the called and chosen from the history of humanity is saved in full number, and Christ is with his church in fulfilling that task “even to the end of the age” then it naturally follows that for postmillennialist’s the “end of the age” (the end of earth history) is the end of the great comission. Strimple rightly said that in the postmillennial schema there is no place for their “millennium” in their interpretation of 1Cor. 9-11.
It is not my intention here to defend the full preterist view of Rom. 9-11. I would refer the reader to Max Kings chapter on anillennialism in his “the Cross and the Parousia of Christ; the two dimensions of one age changing eschaton”. King convincingly shows that the AD 70 demise of fleshly Israel was by no means devoid of restoration in a “heavenly commonwealth” that fulfills Paul’s words in 11:26 (all Israel will be saved). Who could deny that Jesus referred to Israel’s fleshly demise as “birth pangs”? (Matt. 24:8).
The Infamous Gap Theory
Second, in Daniel 9:24 it was revealed to him that “seventy weeks have been determined for your people and hour holy city to finish transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place”. Partial preterist postmillennialists strongly ridicule dispensational premillennialists for placing gaps in this “seventy week” prophecy. Dispensational premillennialists believe that sixty-nine of these weeks were fulfilled consecutively leading up to the cross They disconnect the last week (seven years) and insert the church age. They believe that the prophecy will resume in the future, witnessing the great tribulation and second coming (Matt. 24), leading into the millennial era. Gary DeMar said, “There is no biblical warrant for stopping Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks after the sixty ninth week. The idea of separation and the placing of an indeterminable gap between the two sets of weeks is one of the most unwarranted and non-literal interpretations of Scripture found in any eschatological system This interpretation is taught by those who insist on a literal hermeneutic”. (Last Days Madness, P. 77) Gentry also noted that, “The convenient and surprising imposition of enormous time gaps in prophecy such as…in Daniel 9 where the gap stretches from Christ’s ministry to the future Great tribulation—despite Daniel’s providing a careful, unified measure of “seventy weeks” (Three Views on the Millennium, p. 255), is a “theological problem” for dispensational premillennialism.
In spite of their view that Daniel 9 does not contain gaps, their interpretation of the future resurrection of all Israel necessarily requires it. Indeed, DeMar (unknowingly) recognized that “This interpretation is taught by those who insist on a literal hermeneutic”. Partial preterists insist on a literal hermeneutic when it comes to the second coming, the resurrection of the dead, and the passing away of heaven and earth at the end of human history. Although they do not teach a gap theory, their theology necessarily requires it in that sin can never be completely eradicated until the bodily resurrection. Paul is clear on this matter. The “last enemy” is “death”. Only “when this mortal shall put on immortality” can “death” be “swallowed up in victory. The sting of death is SIN and the power of sin is the law”. Therefore in order for the determination “to make an end of sin” to be fulfilled for “your people” (Israel) during a unified seventy weeks, the resurrection must necessarily be a past event. The “resurrection” of “all Israel” can be seen in Daniel 12. It is no coincidence that it is tied to the time when the “regular sacrifice is abolished”. The regular sacrifice for sin was no longer needed because of the sacrifice of Christ. The fulfillment of the day of atonement in Christ's second coming (the priest returns from inside the sanctuary after making atonement for his people, Heb. 9 ff); evidences the “end of sin” determined for “your people” in Daniel’s seventy week prophecy. This is why Paul identified the time when “all Israel will be saved” with when “The deliverer will come from Zion, he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sin”. Israel’s sin is removed (made an end of) at the second coming.
Also, it must be seen that Paul dealt with “their transgression” as that which effects gentile salvation. Admittedly, he is thinking in terms of the cross. But their “transgression” does not end here. For Paul, the “hardening” of Israel is tied to their transgression. And until that hardening was lifted, the Jews were transgressors.
“By their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be…For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead”? (Rom. 11:11-15).
Israel’s transgression/rejection stands over against their fulfillment/acceptance. Until their “fulfillment/acceptance” is accomplished, their “transgression/rejection” is not “finished”. The determination made upon “your people” to “finish transgression” cannot be fulfilled during the time frame of Daniel’s seventy weeks unless a gap is imposed upon the prophecy. This is the logical conclusion of Partial preteristic postmillennialism. To project Israel’s resurrection, their “acceptance”, beyond the A.D. 70 Coming of Christ requires the very thing partial preteristic postmillennialism refutes—a gap in Daniel’s seventy-week prophecy.
The “thousand years” in Revelation 20:2 is probably the only passage that partial preterists agree refers to the post-AD 70 Christian age as a “preconsummation era”. Partial preterists essentially all agree that the “thousand years”, that takes in the “binding of Satan” and the “coming to life/reign” of the saints “with Christ”, takes in the time period that spans from the first advent to a time in our future, shortly before the end of earth history. Full preterists agree with their view that the millennium began in the first century when Jesus “bound the strong man” and “carried off his property” (cast out demons). We also agree with them that the reign of the saints “with Christ” takes place in the final preconsummational era. We simply disagree with them that this preconsummational era continued beyond the “coming of the Son of Man” in AD 70 (Matt. 16:27-28; 24:3,34). In my view, (which is the common full preterist view) the “thousand” years began when Jesus “bound the strong man” and was completed when Satan was “released from his prison” at the outset of the Jewish war (Rev. 9:1-11). The “short time” of Satan’s release from his prison is the “great tribulation” that Jesus said would be “cut short”. Satan’s deceptive influence on the nations, “to gather them together for the war” is witnessed in the battle for Jerusalem with the saints entering the new Jerusalem. For more information on my views of the millennium see my article titled, “Problems With Premillennial Preterism” at the preterist archive [its somewhere in there].
Gentry either misrepresents, or misunderstands the preterist view of the millennium in his “brief theological analysis of hyper preterism” stating that “If AD 70 ends the Messianic reign of Christ…then the glorious Messianic era prophesied throughout the Old Testament is reduced to a forty year inter-regnum. Whereas by all accounts it is a lengthy, glorious era. A problem with premillennialism is that it reduces Christ’s reign to 1000 literal years; hyper-preterism reduces it further to a forty years! The prophetic expressions of the kingdom tend to speak of an enormous period of time, even employing terms that are frequently used of eternity. Does Christ’s Kingdom parallel David’s so that it only lasts for the same time frame?”
Contrary to Gentrys misrepresentation (or misunderstanding) of the preterist view of the Messianic reign of Christ, preterists believe His reign is ETERNAL. Gentry admits that the old testament employs “terms that are frequently used of eternity”. This is an understatement. The Old testament frequently tells us that the Messianic kingdom IS ETERNAL.
“In those days (the days of Rome) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed…it will endure forever” (Dan. 2:44).
“His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:14)
“His Kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey him”(Dan. 7:27).
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.” (Is. 9:7).
Although Gentry does not state it outright, he believes this Messianic era will come to an end! Remember that for partial preterists the Messianic age, the new covenant order, and the millennium, are all one and the same, representing “the last days”, or “preconsummative history”. As such it MUST end in order for it to be replaced by an age that can provide consummated redemption. To show that I am not mistaken on this read for yourself,
“Preteristic postmillennialism sees in these passages [Rev. 21,22] the coming of the new heavens/earth/Jerusalem in the permanent establishing of Christianity in God’s judgment on Israel when he destroyed the old Jewish order in A.D. 70. Consequently, the new order began legally and spiritually under Christ and his apostles…it was confirmed publicly and dramatically in A.D. 70 by removing the typological, old covenant order…so that the final new covenant order could be firmly established.” “The seed principles of the new order are legally established in Christ’s redemptive work (A.D. 30) and publicly demonstrated in Christ’s judgment of Israel (A.D. 70). The outworking of the Kingdom/new covenant/new creation/millennial principle begins progressing in an upward and linear fashion by incremental development through history. Ultimately this upward progress will be superseded by the final perfection at the second advent, which will establish the consummate, eternal new creation order” (Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, P. 234, 235, 236).
Gentry rightly sees the PERMANENT ESTABLISHING of Christianity in AD 70 as the “coming of the new heavens/earth/Jerusalem. He rightly sees that the new order BEGAN under Christ and his apostles. He rightly sees that the new covenant order is FINAL. He rightly sees that the PERMANENT, FINAL, new covenant creation (Kingdom) that ALREADY BEGAN at the cross progresses “in history”. But then he flat out contradicts this in saying that it must all be “superseded” by an altogether different “final new creation order”! If the new covenant creation order that BEGAN and was ESTABLISHED in A.D. 70 is FINAL and PERMANENT then how can another order follow after it? This is “eschatological dualism” at its most ridiculous. Gentry has TWO FINAL, PERMANENT, NEW CREATION ORDERS; one begins in A.D. 70 at the end of the old covenant age, when Christ “came in the glory of His father, with his angels” (Matt. 16:27-28). The other begins at the end of history, “when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with him” (Matt. 25:31). Gentry Has Christ coming back at the end of history to replace, or in his words, supersede that which He died to establish! Who can believe this nonsense? Partial preterists do!
Similarities Between Partial Preterist Postmillennialism and Dispensationalism
Furthermore it should be seen that in addition to the problems he has reconciling his “futurist” views of Israel’s salvation with Daniel’s seventy-week prophecy (like dispensationalism), he must also align himself with the dispensationalists on another matter. Gentry criticizes dispensationalism’s view that “the millennial era [is seen] as a complete replacement of present conditions on earth with a new world wide and multi-national world order” (Ibid. p. 255). Although it is not the “millennium” that Gentry replaces the present “new covenant creation” with, there is a manifest congruity between his views and those of dispensationalism. This is because of his literal hermeneutic. Dispensationalists interpret prophecies in the old testament about Israel’s national restoration under a Davidic King on earth literally and attempt to locate that kingdom in a future millennium. However, per the literal interpretation of the passing of heaven and earth in Rev. 20:11, and the new creation that follows, the fulfillment of their literally restored Israel under the Davidic/Messianic king must come to an end. This contradicts the eternal, permanent nature of the Kingdom that is tied to those same Old Testament prophecies. Similarly, Postmillennial partial preterists interpret those same old testament prophecies non-literally, applying them to the church. They believe the kingdom anticipated in old testament prophecy began at the first advent (A.D. 30). However, like dispensational premillennialists, their literalistic interpretation of the passing of heaven and earth in Rev. 21:11, and the ensuing establishment of the new creation order, replaces, or supersedes all that has gone before it. Hence, the kingdom that Christ established, which is the fulfillment of the old testament prophetic expectation, is stripped of its eternal significance. In our view, which is the scriptural vie, whatever Christ established at the first advent always answers to the old testament eschatological expectation and is eternal.
I find it interesting that Gentry criticizes Dispensationalism for their eschatological dualism saying, “In multiplying eschatological coming, resurrections, and judgments, premillennialism suffers from what Jay Adams calls eschatological ‘diplopia’ (Three Views on The Millennium and Beyond p. 243). How is this any different than Gentry’s eschatological dualism? His system multiplies the one end time, one second coming, one passing of heaven and earth, one new creation, one resurrection, one judgment and one hope. Doesn’t this qualify as “eschatological diplopia? Gentry’s views apparently have much in common with dispensationalism.
The Passing of Heaven and Earth
Gentry’s admission that the “new heaven and earth” in Rev. 21:1 began in A.D. 70 is tantamount to realized eschatology. His exegetical maneuvering is a sight to see. Let me show you what Gentry does. In Revelation 21 John says that he “saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and earth passed away”. Gentry admits that the new heaven and earth was fully manifested in A.D. 70. But John says that at this time the “first heaven and earth” had passed away. Instead of going back only FOUR VERSES to Rev. 20:11 to find the meaning of the “heaven and earth” that passed away, Gentry must go elsewhere! Why is this? Its because his theological, indeed creedal, constraints wont let him. Rev. 2:11 relates that John “saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them”. He goes on to say that, “I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne…and the dead were judged”. Then when John is done relating the judgment of the old creation He says “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and earth have passed away” (21:1). The heaven and earth that passed away in 21:1 is OBVIOUSLY the same heaven and earth that passed away in 20:11! I would like to see, in writing, Gentry’s reason for maneuvering around the ‘passing of heaven and earth’ in 20:11 to find the meaning of the “passing of heaven and earth” in 21:11, as I am sure it would be hilarious! Seriously, this is the kind of exegetical work Gentry applies to the word of God. I do not mean that he willingly demonstrates irreverence for the scriptures, but I am saying that his interpretation reflects his theological opinion in more cases than it does the meaning of scripture itself.
In addition to the fact that the meaning of heaven and earth in 21:1 (that passed away) is logically the same as the meaning of heaven and earth in 20:11, John seems to explicitly compare the “new creation” with that which passed away in 20:11. The creation that passed away in 20:11 had a “sea” from which the dead were called fourth, whereas, John says the new creation has no “sea” (20:13; 21:1). At the judgment of the old creation, death “gave up the dead which were in [it]” and death was “thrown into the lake of fire”. By way of comparison, in the new creation “there shall no longer be any death” (20:13, 14; 21:4). Gentry rightly observed that “the coming of the new Jerusalem down from heaven…logically should follow soon upon the destruction of the old Jerusalem on the earth…rather than waiting thousands of years” (Four Views on the Book of Revelation, P. 87). Shouldn’t this same reasoning also apply to the new creation? Indeed, it should. The new creation, wherein “there shall be no more death”, should logically follow the destruction of the old creation where “death reigned” (Rom. 5).
Most partial preterists do see a “passing of heaven and earth” in A.D. 70, but they duplicate this event and apply its “genetic twin” to the alleged end of history. Chilton sees the AD 70 passing of heaven and earth in the de-creation language in the olivet discourse, (including his words in v. 35, “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”, 2Pet. 3:10, “the earth and its works will be burned up”), and Heb. 12:27, “This expression, “yet once more” denotes the removal of those things which can be shaken, as of created things”, Rev 6:13, the de-creation language, and heaven “departed like a scroll when it is rolled up”, and in Rev. 21:1, “the first heaven and the first earth have passed away”.
Gentry agrees (to the best of my knowledge) with all of these except Matthew 24:35 and 2Peter 3:10. On 2Peter 3:10 Gentry says “we find revelation on the consummate new creation in 2Pet. 3.” (Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, p.131) This is a strange assertion for two reasons. First, if he is correct then this is the only place in the whole bible that teaches “literally” that heaven and earth will pass away. Second, Peter explicitly states that he was “stirring up your mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken before had by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord spoken by your apostles” (3:1-2). This seems to indicate that he was reminding them about the passing of heavens and earth that had previously been revealed to the prophets. He was expounding upon a previously revealed truth contained in the prophetic utterances of the Old Testament. This is significant for two reasons. First, this cannot be a new revelation about the passing away and coming of a new creation. As such (according to Gentry’s view) there is not any “new” revelation of an alleged “literal” new creation (or passing away of the old creation) other than that which is non-literal, and therefore fulfilled in A.D. 70). Second, it is, therefore, almost certain that Peter has the words of Isaiah (65: 17-18) in mind—words which Gentry believes are fulfilled in the new creation order that began in AD 30.
Why is the judgment scene in Revelation 20 necessarily futuristic? Paul wrote that God was “about to (mello) judge the living and the dead” at “His appearing” (2Tim. 4:1). In his defense before Felix Paul affirmed that “there is about to be (mello) a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” (Acts 24:15). Peter wrote that the wicked in his time would “give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1Pet. 4:5). These passages seem to indicate that the judgment of the living and the dead, the righteous and the wicked, as well as the resurrection of the living and the dead” was considered to be, by both Paul and Peter, at hand. We are left wondering why prophecies with such clear time indicators are not given the same treatment by Gentry as the multitude of other passages of scriptures are so treated by Gentry.
Gentry, who recognizes that the book of revelation frequently employs recapitulations, has somehow failed to recognize that the judgment scene in Rev. 20:11 is hinted at earlier in Revelation in contexts that he himself recognizes to have application to A.D. 70. In Revelation 20:11 it is from the face (presence, or parousia) of Christ who sits upon the throne that heaven and earth fled away. In Rev. 6:14-16 it is “from the face (presence, or Parousia) of him that sat upon the throne” that “heaven departed like a scroll when it is rolled up and every mountain and island were moved out of their places”. These two events are identical. Yet Gentry would have us believe that this is merely similarity of language that does not require identity. Although Gentry is correct in principle, it seems very unlikely that John, who frequently employs recapitulations, or, reappearing of images of the same events (as Gentry accepts and teaches), is revealing two distinct events separated by thousands of years.
Also, in Revelation 11:15-19, when the seventh trumpet sounds, “The Kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ and He will reign forever and ever.” This is the fulfillment of delivering the kingdom to the father, “when He has abolished all rule and authority an power” (1Cor. 15:24). This was accomplished through the preconsummative reign of Christ, “thou hast taken Thy great power and hast reigned”. This is important to see. It is because of Christ’s regal activity (Thou hast reigned) that the kingdom of the world became that of our Lord (the Father) and of His Christ. This is a sequence of events that demonstrates what 1Cor. 15:24 relates about Christ’s delivering the kingdom to the father at “the end” in connection with the resurrection of the dead. The kingdom that was formerly “of the world” has been conquered by means of Christ having reigned. As Paul stated, Christ “must reign until he has put all His enemies under His feet”. Having accomplished this in Rev. 11:16, the “kingdom” that was formerly “of the world” is now “of our Lord and of His Christ”. Christ is now “ruler of the Kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5), hence, “the nations were enraged” (11:18). The earth/world/kingdom is delivered over to the father otherwise it would not be “of our Lord and of his Christ”. Partial preterist’s futurize 1Cor. 15, and preterize Rev. 11. However from the perspective of Rev. 11, that which 1Cor. 15 says will be delivered to the father is now the fathers possession. It has become his kingdom.
The recapitulative connection between Rev. 11:16-19 and Rev 21:11 can be seen in that Rev. 20:11 presents Christ judging the living and the dead (according to their deeds, cf. Matt. 16:27-28, Rom. 2:6; 2Cor. 5:10; Rev. 22:12) after which time the new Jerusalem is open for the saints to enter. This is a recapitulation of Rev. 11:16-19 in that the consummation of the Kingdom witnesses “the time…for the dead to be judged and for giving reward to your bond servants the prophets and to the saints and to those who fear Thy name, the small and the great”. Immediately after which, “the temple of God which is in heaven was opened”. The opening of the heavenly temple is nothing less than the opening of the new Jerusalem. Indeed partial preterists believe this “judgment of the dead” was fulfilled in AD 70. So how do they avoid the conclusion that Rev. 20 is a recapitulation of the A.D. 70 judgments? They do this by rendering “judged” as “avenged”. Gentry attempts to align the judgment of the dead in Rev. 11 with the inter-millennial "coming to life” of the saints in A.D. 70 rather than the post-millennial judgment of the dead (righteous and wicked) that, in his view, must occur at the end of history. He sees only the righteous dead being vindicated from their oppressors in A.D. 70. We agree with Gentry that A.D. 70 was a time of vindication for the righteous. However, we recognize that this vindication was not only for the sorely tested saints of the first century, but also those who belong to the entire history of the old covenant era. As such, how could the historical people of Israel be truly vindicated apart from the judgment (rendering according to their deeds) of the Old Testament persecutors of the Old Testament prophets? Indeed, there is a lot of merit in Chilton’s observation that ‘The word judgment, when used of God’s people, generally signifies vindication and vengeance on their behalf” (Days of Vengeance, p. 291). I would only add that it can also signify the receiving of a righteous mans reward”. However, in the context of Rev. 11:18 judgment of the dead immediately follows from a declaration of divine wrath, “Thy wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged”. This declaration is to be taken as a unit. Wrath is the judgment of the enemies of God’s holy saints and prophets”. From the judgment of dead follows the vindicative, actually as John presents it, the “reward to Thy servants the prophets and to the saints and to those who fear thy name, the small and the great”.
Their reward is the new creation that became manifest after the departure of the old creation that witnessed the judgment of the dead (Rev. 21:1; 20:11-15). Their reward is to enter the New Jerusalem that became open for them after the High priest came out of the sanctuary in fulfillment of the day of atonement (Heb. 9). This is the redemptive significance of the second coming. As the author of Hebrews indicated, entrance into the holy place was “not made manifest” until the destruction of the earthly tabernacle in A.D. 70 (Heb. 9:8; 12:14).
In the May 2001 edition of the Chalcedon report Gentry charged that,
“Unfortunately, a distortion of preterism is currently gaining advocacy a view variously designated as "hyper-preterism" (Gentry), "Hymenaenism" (Sandlin), or "pantelism" (Jonathan Seriah). A cult-like enthusiasm fuels this unorthodox movement, which teaches that the total complex of end time events transpired in the first-century: the Second Advent, the resurrection, the rapture of the saints, and the great judgment. It is to preterism what hyper-Calvinism is to historic Calvinism: a theological pushing beyond Biblical constraints. This view is not supported by any creed or any council of the church in history.
He further stated that, “The origins of this modern movement arise from and are fueled by many Christians either presently or previously within the Church of Christ sect (e.g., Max King, Tim King, Ed Stevens, and others). Some hyper-preterists have even become Unitarians; see Ed Stevens' own lamentation: "Wanda Shirk & PIE," Kingdom Counsel (April 1994-Sept. 1996): 3-17. Others have begun to apply the Biblical references about hell to the events of A.D. 70, thereby denying the doctrine of eternal punishment. See: Samuel G. Dawson, "Jesus' Teaching on Hell: A Place or an Event?" (Puyallup, WS: Gospel Themes, 1997). The theological structure of the movement appears to be continually mutating.”
Later Gentry remarked that, “Orthodox preterism is not so much an eschatological system as a hermeneutic tool. It recognizes the interpretive significance of: (1) time-frame indicators (e.g., Mt. 24:34; Mk. 9:1; Rev. 1:1, 3); (2) audience relevance (e.g., the Seven Churches enduring tribulation, Rev. 1:4, 9); and (3) the possible non-literal character of apocalyptic imagery ("falling stars" may indicate "collapsing governments"). However, evangelical preterism refuses to allow one or two time-tied texts to become a black hole that sucks in all other texts that are merely similar. That is, preterism should not make the mistake of averring similarity entails identity, which is the informal logical fallacy known as converse accident (i.e., hasty generalization). That is, just because two texts are similar does not mean they are speaking of the same events (consider the various "Day of the Lord" prophecies in the Old Testament).”
Gentry’s comments above contain a wealth of argumentative material. First notice that he refers to preterists as “Christians within the church of Christ sect”, yet he also labels these Christians as “unorthodox” in the sense that they deviate from the historic ecumenical creeds of the church. Therefore, as an “unorthodox” movement, he is saying that they are not even Christians at all.
Second, he states that some “have begun to apply the Biblical references about hell to the events of A.D. 70, thereby denying the doctrine of eternal punishment”. The application of biblical references about hell (eternal fire, the gehenna, eternal destruction, etc.), along with “the Second Advent, the resurrection, the rapture of the saints, and the great judgment”, qualifies as “a theological pushing beyond biblical constraints”. However, as we have already shown, the resurrection of the dead, as well as the judgment of the living and the dead, and the righteous and the wicked are, in Gentry’s words, “time-tied texts”. Whatever Gentry wishes to say about hell and its application to A.D. 70 pales in comparison to the fact that scripture, even Jesus himself, indicates that eternal judgment transpired in A.D. 70. Hear Jesus on this matter,
“Fill up the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the judgment of Gehenna.”
Gentry rightly sees that these men did in fact “fill up the measure of the guilt of [their] fathers” and were judged for their guilt in A.D. 70. Gentry must believe that the judgment of Gehenna, that Jesus said they would not escape, did not transpire in A.D. 70. Although I am not certain why, I can speculate that he would argue that Jesus did not say the judgment would transpire in 70, only that when it did happen (at the end of time) they would not escape it. The problem with this view can be seen in v. 36. Jesus said “Truly I say to you that all these things shall come upon this generation”. “These things” includes the judgment of Gehenna! Indeed the rest of what Jesus said would come upon this generation is claimed to have happened by Gentry. Strangely, Gentry must deny that their judgment in AD 70 was the judgment of eternal fire (Gehenna).
Not only does Gentry abandon his hermeneutic tool of time-indicators; he also abandons audience relevance. This can be seen in Matt. 25. The sheep and goats are judged positively (inherit the kingdom/eternal life) or negatively (go away into the eternal fire) when they are separated at the coming of the Son of Man. However, they are judged according to the way they treated “these brothers of mine” (v.40). Who can deny that Jesus’ audience would have immediately thought of those disciples that stood by His side? Indeed, they would have recognized that they themselves would be judged by the way they treated Jesus’ disciples This is exactly what Matt. 23:34 relates,
You brood of vipers, how shall you escape the judgment of Gehenna? Behold I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed upon earth…truly I say to you that all these things shall come upon this generation.
Both Matt. 23 and 25 teach the exact same thing: eternal judgment for negative treatment of His brothers, indeed, his first century brothers. Matt. 24 explicitly places that eternal judgment (the judgment of eternal fire, or, Gehenna) within a delimited time period—“this generation”.
Furthermore, Paul stated to the Thessalonians that,
“After all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflicted you and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed” (2Thess. 1:5-10).
When did the Lord give the Thessalonians and Jewish Christians (“us as well”) relief from the afflictions of their afflictors? Genrtry must know that it was in A.D. 70. If it wasn’t AD 70 are we to believe that they are still being afflicted by first century persecutors of the church? Paul says that their relief would come when the Lord Jesus “shall be revealed from heaven with His angels in flaming fire”. Paul says, at that time, their afflictors, “will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord”. Gentry is correct in that we see a “similarity” of language between this passage and Matt. 25. In both passages the Son of man comes with his angels. In both passages he punishes individuals for negative treatment of his brothers. In both passages the wicked receive eternal punishment “away from the presence of the Lord” (Depart from me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire”, Matt. 25:41). However, in the same way that Jesus tied eternal judgment to the Jews who would persecute his disciples in Matt. 23 to “this generation”, Paul indicates that eternal judgment is tied to the time of the Thessalonians obtaining their relief from their afflictions “when the Lord comes”. This is more than mere “similarity” it is identity! Eternal punishment is biblically applied to the A.D. 70 vindication of the church from her oppressors, both Jew and Gentile.
Third, he criticizes the preterist movement saying that its “theological structure…appears to be constantly mutating”. I would only add that this is rightly so. Preterism has only recently (since J.S. Russell) been studied by a significant number of scholars and laymen alike. Since it is obvious that we believe the church, historically, taught a futuristic eschatology erroneously, it only follows that the paradigm of futurism is constraining to the human spirit. How much labor has Gentry poured into his anti dispensational (premillennial) campaign? Dispensationalism is only a recent theological understanding based upon the erroneous futuristic concepts of Church history. Gentry knows how difficult it can be to lead dispensationalists away from their theological paradigm. Were it not for his efforts (along with others) to change that paradigm Dispensationalism would not be in flux right now. My point is that it would be erroneous for the preterist movement (full) to claim that the church has been wrong for centuries on the timing of biblical eschatology but now we understand it completely, or, “we have ALL the answers”. Due to the magnitude of the paradigm shift of preterism, and the nature of man’s spirit (hard headed), it will probably take many more century’s of intense theological study before many of the deeper truths of fulfilled eschatology are realized. The paradigm shift we are talking about begins with the application of the hermeneutics mentioned by Gentry above. The evidence of hard headed man is Gentry himself. And I don’t mean this in a derogatory manner. Gentry has the key but he refuses to use it. He would rather remain within theological, creedal constraints than be subject to a movement that he claims pushes, “beyond biblical constraints”.
Fourth, were Gentry to apply his hermeneutical tools in a consistent manner he would see that we are not pushing biblical constraints, rather, we are pushing the constraints imposed upon hard-headed man by hard-headed men. We are not constrained by a futuristic paradigm that covers our eyes from the clear statements of imminence relating to the entire complex of end time events.
Fifth, Did you notice his statement about “one or two time tied texts”? In the course of this refutation I think we have produced more than “one or two” texts. Gentry is attempting to down play the fact that the resurrection of the dead, the judgment of the living and the dead, and eternal judgment all appear in scripture with time indicators that indicate a near future event.
Sixth, if Gentry insists upon his dualistic eschatology, he should at least be consistent and say that since time indicators are in fact tied to the resurrection and eternal judgment of the living and the dead, and since there are two eschatons in the bible, there are two resurrections and eternal judgments of the living and the dead! However if he were to say this I don’t see anyone believing him. Yet strangely, this is the logical conclusion of partial preterism—eschatological dualism straight across the board.
The Parable of the Tares, the Olivet Discourse and Daniel 12
One last scripture I would like to look at is Matt. 13; 40-42. Gary North wrote that according to the full preterist view of Matthew 13, ‘The tares will occupy the field of history eternally, right alongside the wheat. Matthew 13 will never come to pass as the end of history. ‘As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world; The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth’ (vv.40-42).
Anyone who equates the fulfillment of this prophecy with AD70 has broken with the historic faith of the church. Such a view stands out most clearly in its rejection of the post-resurrection fulfillment of verse 43; ‘Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.’ Heretical preterists refuse to hear.”
Exegetical reasons why Matthew 13 verse must be equated with AD70.
The time of fulfillment is the “consummation of the age”. For North, this must be the “consummation of history”. Partial preterists (indeed, all preterists) interpret the meaning of this same phrase in Matt. 24:3 to mean the end of the Jewish age, or, the age of old covenant Israel. Why do partial preterists assign different meanings to the same phrase? Partial preterists would have us believe that its so obvious that to refute them, and therefore assign both passages one meaning, is to refute orthodoxy! Undoubtedly, they will say that Matt. 24:34 demands a first century “consummation of the age” in Matt. 24:3 (Jewish) whereas Matt: 13:40 does not contain any such temporal indication. However, not having a time indicator such as “near” or “this generation” does not automatically make this “consummation of the age” different in time and event” from that in Matt. 24. Neither does this fact alone provide grounds for excommunicating preterists. So for them the “clear” reason why this is not A.D. 70 lies in “the post-resurrection fulfillment of verse 43”. Note, however, that North claims our view of past fulfillment “stands out most clearly in its rejection of the post-resurrection fulfillment of verse 43.” What preterist “rejects” a post-resurrection fulfillment of verse 43? On the contrary, this is what we affirm! What preterists reject is the post-A.D. 70 fulfillment of verse 43.
If the “resurrection” (that is clearly implied in v. 43) is necessarily futuristic (per the historic creeds of the church) and this resurrection occurs at the consummation of history (per the assumed meaning of v.40 by the historic church) then the consummation and resurrection cannot be equated with AD70. And in his view “Anyone who equates the fulfillment of this prophecy with AD70 has broken with the historic faith of the church” and is thereby a heretical preterist. It is uncertain whether he means that preterists who hold a past fulfillment of the resurrection have broken with the general “faith of the church” that leads to salvation or if he means preterists have broken with the traditional historic understanding of the church (as represented in the creeds) in looking forward in “faith” for the resurrection. I believe he is probably implying both. That our view has broken with the historic understanding of the historic church cannot be denied. However, that we have broken with the “historic faith of the church” so as to be outside salvation (damned) we must wholly deny. To prove this we must first recognize the “historic faith” of the Old Testament saint, Daniel, as he looked forward in “faith” to the very events under discussion.
It was revealed to Daniel that when “Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people”, would “arise”, His contemporaries would witness “a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time’. And “at that time your people, everyone who is found to be written in the book, will be rescued. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. And those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:1-3). It was then revealed to Daniel that these things would be fulfilled when “they finish shattering the power of the holy people”. Daniel “could not understand”, asking “what will be the outcome of these events”? He was told that the words were “sealed up until the end time.” It was further stated that “from the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be1290 days. How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1335 days! But as for you, go your way to the end: then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age”.
The piercing question for partial preterists such as North, Gentry, De Mar, etc. is this: which “consummation of the age”, or “end time”, is being revealed to Daniel? It is common knowledge among preterists of both camps that the “time of distress”, “shattering of the power of the holy people (Israel)” abolition of “the daily sacrifice”, “abomination of desolation”, and “end of the age” are all contemporaneous with the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. As Jesus CLEARLY taught His disciples saying: “this generation will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled” (Matt. 24:34). Therefore, it would appear that the A.D. 70 “consummation of the age” is that which is in view in the book of Daniel. But wait a minute. It was revealed to Daniel that “at that time… many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt"”. If this were not enough, the very scripture from which Jesus was quoting in Matt 13:42 appears, “those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever”! And even still, “go your way to the end: then you will enter into rest and rise for your allotted portion at the end of the age (lit. days).” Partial preterists must cross their eyes to see two end times here!
Now, lets get our eyes strait, and see which preterist camp refuses to hear.
In the parable of the tares Jesus said that the post-resurrection glorification of the “sons of the Kingdom” (their shining fourth in the kingdom of their father”, or “shining brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven…like stars forever and ever.”) would happen at the “consummation of the age”.
In the olivet discourse Jesus also said that the “abomination of desolation (spoken by Daniel the prophet)” would signal the beginning of a time of “great distress” bringing “great wrath to this people” (e.g. “your people” [Dan 12:1:2]) resulting in the fall of the earthly temple at the “consummation of the age”. He placed these events before or at AD 70.
Daniel, who was explicitly quoted by Jesus in the olivet discourse (Matt. 24:15), and implicitly in the parable of the tears, wrote that the post-resurrection glorification of “those who have insight” would occur at the same time as the “abomination of desolation”, “great distress” and “abolition of the daily sacrifice” (e.g. in the temple). He called this time “the time of the end” and “the end of the age”.
Therefore, the parable of the tares, and the olivet discourse must refer to only one “consummation of the age” that witnesses the goal of what Daniel, in faith, looked forward to as the fulfillment of the his eschatological expectation. An expectation that included the resurrection of historic Israel: “your people” (Dan. 12:1-2). This “consummation” must be “equated with the prophecy of A.D 70” for the simple fact that scripture DEMANDS it.
The reason that “Matt. 13 will never come to pass as the end of history” (as North understands eschatological history) is because Jesus never intended His words to be interpreted to mean that human history would end at the “consummation of the age”. Indeed, Jesus only spoke of “this age” and “the age to come”. The transition between these two ages is marked by “the consummation of the age”. The disciples heard his teaching on the two ages and the parables where he spoke of the “consummation of the age”. They had no problem equating the “consummation of the age” that marks the transition between “this age” and “the age to come” with the fall of Jerusalem instead of the alleged end of human history. Are we to suppose (as partial preterists do) that when the disciples responded to Jesus’ declaration, that the city of Jerusalem and its temple were to be destroyed, with the question “when will these things be and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age” (Matt: 24:2-3), that they were inquiring about a “consummation” that had not been revealed to them by our Lord? Or should we be directed to the only two recorded parables where Jesus explicitly taught on this subject prior to his discourse on the Mount of Olives (Matt. 13), parables that they explicitly stated they understood (Matt. 13:51)? Nowhere in the recorded history of Jesus does he ever teach that there are two consummations of two ages. For the “age to come” is characterized by “eternal life”. Therefore the “age to come” is necessarily “eternal”. Therefore the “consummation” can’t be applied to the age to come. Where does this alleged “third age” come from, to which the alleged second “consummation” applies to? It would appear that where the scriptures are silent, some, who claim to “have ears to hear”, may actually be hearing only voices in their head.
What do YOU think ?
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