REVELATION AND LITERALISM? (2)

Literal butterflyPMT 2016-031 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is part two of a two-part study on the question of literalism in Revelation. Despite televangelists and rapture-predictors, Revelation is not to be interpreted literalistically. I examined three reasons why this is so in the previous article. I now would like to present one final argument against literalism:

Even if we set aside John’s own opening announcement regarding the symbolic nature of his prophecy, and his explanation of his very first vision, and his interpretive practice elsewhere in Revelation, we should avoid literalism on the basis of common sense. Consider the following absurdities that would arise on the literalist approach. Continue reading

REVELATION AND LITERALISM (1)

Literal hand soapPMW 2020-043 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

By all accounts, Revelation is a difficult book. But naive Christians make it even more difficult than it needs be. A serious problem tripping up the modern would-be interpreter is the assumption of literalism when approaching Revelation. Too many contemporary prophecy students resist the symbolic approach to John’s glorious prophecy. “Literalism!” becomes the rally cry for those who believe Revelation lies in our approaching future.

I would point out that despite the popular claim of literalism: no one takes Revelation literally. We take it as God’s truth, to be sure. And it certainly deals with factual historical events. But we cannot take it as God’s truth in literal form. Let us see how this is so. Continue reading

GUMERLOCK’S “REVELATION AND THE FIRST CENTURY”

Gumerlock bookPMW 2020-042 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

The preterist approach to Revelation holds that Revelation is to be understood as already fulfilled in the first century. Consequently, it has a strong historical interest.

Ironically though, many critics of the preterist approach to Revelation attempt to discredit it on an historical basis. They argue such things as:

“Preterism goes against the witness of the very early church” (Mal Couch).

“Alcazar, a [17th century] Spanish Jesuit, started the idea that the Apostle John . . . was writing about what was happening in his own day, and that his Antichrist was probably the Emperor Nero or some other early persecutor” (Duncan McDougall). Continue reading

THE GATES OF HELL IN MATT 16:18

PMW 2020-041 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.gates of hell

In Matthew 16:18 our Lord spoke these famous words to his leading disciple:

“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.”

This passage has generated significant debate because of grammatical difficulties within it. Some scholars even emend the text to “straighten out the problem.” There is an awkwardness in having stationary gates actively attempting to prevail or conquer the church. How can gates attack?

Another problem is determining what Jesus means by hades. This Greek word is the common translation for the Hebrew word sheol in the OT. Sheol (and therefore, its Greek translation hades) can refer to the place of the dead, signifying either the place of rest for God’s people or the place of torment for the sinner (hell). Or it may simply mean “the grave,” without any other connotation one way or the other (it represents death irrespective of reward or punishment). The NT uses each of these meanings in various places. Continue reading

OF PRETERISTS AND POSTMILLENNIALISTS (2)

PMW 2020-040 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is the second (and final) presentation of an interview conducted with me on preterism and postmillennialism.

Interviewer: Shifting to a related topic. Do preterist and non-preterist postmillennialists differ significantly in their reading of Matthew 24? Are there different interpretations of the two “days” even among preterists?

Gentry: Matthew 24 has been subjected to a fairly wide variety of interpretive approaches. Perhaps the more widely endorsed one holds that the Lord more or less jumbles together material on A.D. 70 and the Second Advent, in that A.D. 70 is a microcosmic precursor to the Second Advent. This view makes it difficult to sort out the verses in regard to which event the particular verses focus on. Among evangelical preterists two basic positions prevail: that 24:4–34 focus on A.D. 70 and 24:36ff focus on the Second Advent (this is my view, and the view presented by J. Marcellus Kik). The other view holds that all of Matthew 24–25 deals with A.D. 70. Continue reading

OF PRETERISTS AND POSTMILLENNIALISTS (1)

PMW 2020-039 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Awhile back I was interviewed about the relationship of postmillennialism with preterism. Here is the interview. I hope it will provide some insights for you as you discuss such issues with your friends.

Interviewer: Dr. Gentry, when we speak of “schools” of interpretation or theological opinion — like “theonomists,” or “postmillennialists,” or “preterists” — there is a tendency to think of these groups in monolithic terms, as if all their proponents hew exactly to a single “party line.” In what ways, if any, does the contemporary revival of biblical postmillennialism differ from earlier versions within the Reformed tradition (e.g., Puritan postmillennialism)?

Gentry: You are correct that we need to be aware of a lack of lock-step unanimity in any millennial viewpoint, including postmillennialism. “Puritan postmillennialism” is so widely variant that for sorting through the various positions, I highly recommend reading Crawford Gribben, The Puritan Millennium: Literature & Theology 1550-1682 (Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts Press, 2000).

But in broad strokes we may distinguish between an historicist postmillennialism (held by the Puritans) as opposed to a preterist postmillennialism which is currently the more popular view. Continue reading

AMERICA’S CHRISTIAN FUTURE?

A book endorsement by Ken Gentry.

I have come across a book that ought to be read by all Christians concerned with America’s future. The book is authored by Bobbie Ames and is titled Land That I Love: Restoring Our Christian Heritage (324 pp; Nordskog Press, 2020). I am offering this brief note due to the gravity of our current situation and the lethargy of the contemporary church in America.

Ames engagingly chronicles the astonishing original Christian character of the United States, resulting from God’s unique Providence among his people. From the beginning, God placed His Word in peoples’ hearts in such a way that for the first time in history, Christians thought they could form their own civil communities, with only Christ governing them as King. Continue reading