IS THE “END OF THE AGE” AD 70?

PMW 2022-038 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I am not always able to engage in theological discussion by email, due to my time constraints and the number of requests for such that I receive. But occasionally I will engage a discussion briefly. Here is one I just had with a PostmillennialWorldview reader. It regards the two-age structure of history.

PMW reader wrote:

I have a question to throw in the works if I may: Matthew 24:3 says ” What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

This could mean the end of the Old Testament age. I back this up with Jesus comments on the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will not be forgiven “in this age or the age to come” (Matthew 12:32.) Continue reading

IS THE SECOND ADVENT “IMMINENT”? (2)

PMW 2022- by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my last article I opened a brief analysis of the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ. I began setting up the matter and also showing its problems for dispensationalism. In this article I will conclude the study.

Often dispensationalists try to distinguish between Christ’s return being imminent and its being soon. This strives to protect them against charges of date-setting. This does not protect them from the charge, however, because it is inconsistently held.
In a letter to me dated June 1, 1994, from Thomas D. Ice, Executive Director of the Pre-Trib Research Center, Ice writes: “We distinguish between imminent and soon in the sense that soon would require a near coming, while imminent would allow, but not require a soon coming.” Bundled in that very letter was his first newsletter entitled: “The Pre-Trib Research Center: A New Beginning.” The first sentence of the newsletter (once past the headings) was: “Our purpose is to awaken in the Body of Christ a new awareness of the soon coming of Jesus.” The system giveth and taketh away. In fact, in a book edited by Ice, Tim LaHaye speaks of “the soon coming of Christ.” Continue reading

IS CHRIST’S RETURN “IMMINENT”? (1)

PMW 2019-086 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

A most remarkable feature of prophetic interest is the Christian’s conviction that we are living “in the shadow of the second coming,” that we are in a “countdown to Armageddon.” We often find linked with a radical misunderstanding of the last days the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ, especially among dispensationalists and premillennialists — but also even with amillennialists.

I will deal with the question in two articles. In this one I will set up the matter; in the next one I will answer it. I will focus largely on the dispensational approach to the question. Interestingly, the doctrine of imminence is simultaneously one of dispensationalism’s most potent drawing cards while being also its most embarrassing error.

John F. Walvoord explains imminency for us: “The hope of the return of Christ to take the saints to heaven is presented in John 14 as an imminent hope. There is no teaching of any intervening event. The prospect of being taken to heaven at the coming of Christ is not qualified by description of any signs or prerequisite events.” Continue reading

DEFINING POSTMILLENNIALISM

thumbing-bookPMW 2022-057 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

From time-to-time a review is helpful for understanding a system of thought. And basic definitions are therefore in order. This is especially true in presenting postmillennialism because it is widely misunderstood and subject to radical misconceptions. This is a particular problem for attempting to explain postmillennialism to someone who has been a dispensationalist for a long time. Continue reading

DISPENSATIONALISM, ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH

Jews rulePMW 2022-035 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Classic dispensationalism has virtually disappeared among academics. Replacing it today is “progressive dispensationalism.” But though the head has died, the body yet liveth. In the lives of untold millions of unthinking Christians. Therefore, it is important to rebut the system in order to make the case for postmillennialism. This is another installment in my critique of dispensational errors.

House and Ice (Dominion Theology, 29, cp. 166) are correct to point out that “Reconstructionists appropriate for the church (seen as the new Israel) the material blessings for obedience–and curses for disobedience–originally promised by God to defunct national Israel.” How they could possibly set this forth as a “Reconstructionist” distinctive is beyond us, however. The dispensational view is the one with the distinctive element! Continue reading

THE STRENGTH OF PRETERISM IN REVELATION

PMW 2022-034 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I am an exegetical preterist. By that I mean that I come to the text of Scripture and am led by the textual indicators in many biblical passages to adopt a preterist analysis of those passages. I am not a theological preterist. A theological preterist is one who comes to Scripture with the pre-commitment that all prophecy has been fulfilled and preterism controls all of biblical eschatology.

Many theological preterists (aka Hyper-preterists) began as partial preterists but in their excitement they took a bridge too far. This is like an enthusiastic Calvinist who becomes a Hyper-Calvinist. He refuses to do personal evangelism and invest in missions because God is absolutely sovereign and will see that all the elect are saved. The Hyper-Calvinist is certainly Calvinistic, but he has abused the Cavinistic system. Sadly, the Hyper-preterist has a heavy-duty HP hammer and every Bible verse he sees looks like a nail to be driven into his system. Thankfully more and more of those who shot beyond the bounds of historical preterism to become Hyper-preterists are beginning to make their way back to a full evangelical faith.

Unfortunately, like a squeaky wheel those who abuse a system tend to get much attention for the grating noise they make. And even more sadly, it is easy to write-off a system because of some proponents who have taken it too far.

But the orthodox preterist must answer serious objections to the preterist system. And in the book of Revelation there are many issues that can raise serious objections. One objection that I often hear is: Since Revelation is almost wholly fulfilled it is irrelevant to use today. There seems to be no point in our having it in the Bible.

The problem with this complaint is that we could do away with much of the Bible on that basis. For instance, Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church is very personal and deals with several local issues troubling that church 2000 years ago. Yet, what Christian would declare 1 and 2 Corinthians to be irrelevant to us today?

Properly considered, Revelation is somewhat like 1 Corinthians in that it deals with ancient issues, but in a way that establishes abiding principles for us today. I will have more to say on this in a later PostmillennialWorldview article. But for now, we need to press the point that: When Revelation was written, it was much needed in the era of the establishing of the new covenant church in the world.

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The Book of Revelation Made Easy

This book introduces the reader to the reasons for the preterist analysis of Revelation. Very helpful for those who are not acquainted with the strengths of preterism in Revelation.

This book is available at : http://www.KennethGentry.com

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Three of the leading strengths of preterism are due to its original relevance:

First, preterism’s relevance. Preterism retains and emphasizes the relevance of Revelation for John’s first-century audience (the seven churches in Asia Minor and apostolic Christianity more broadly, Rev. 2–3). The nascent faith was enduring a worsening period of persecution and oppression (1:9; 6:9–11; 14:13; 17:6) that would require Christians to strive to “overcome” (2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21).

John writes to a particular people at a particular time, and those people are urged to carefully “hear” (1:3) what Revelation presents. As Isbon Beckwith (319) well notes: “Like ‘every scripture inspired of God’ the Apocalypse was certainly meant to be to those to whom it first came ‘profitable for teaching’ (2 Tim. 3:16), and so the writer must have counted on its being understood in its chief lessons.” This differs radically from futurism which must argue that “the full meaning of the Apocalypse shall only be understood ‘when all has come to pass’ (Abraham Kuyper, p. v). John Walvoord (8) admits that “as history unfolds and as prophecy is fulfilled in the future, much will be understood that could be only dimly comprehended by the first readers of the book.”

Second, preterism recognizes John’s time-frame. Preterism takes seriously Revelation’s time-frame indicators: “the things which must shortly take place” (1:1, 22:6) in that “the time is near” (1:3; 22:10). These temporal qualifiers appear in the introduction and the conclusion of Revelation, so that any unprejudiced original reader should expect that what he will hear and what he should understand is a prophecy about fast-approaching events. Not only so but these temporal delimiters appear well before and immediately after the perplexing symbolic visions. Consequently, they appear in the more didactic and less dramatic sections.

Third, deals with a fundamental redemptive-historical issue. Preterism dramatically presents major redemptive-historical matters: the demise of Judaism and the temple system (after 2000 years of Jewish focus and 1500 years of tabernacle/temple worship) and the universalizing of the Christian faith as it permanently breaks free of its maternal bonds to temple-based Israel. We must understand that “the patriarchal family was only a stage in the development of the people of God, so national and territorial Israel in the Old Testament period was a stage toward the development of an international and global people of God. This is not just a ‘Christian idea’ but intrinsic to the Old Testament itself” (N. T. Wright 1994: 2). Wright notes the OT evidence, citing especially Zech. 2:11a: “And many nations will join themselves to the Lord in that day and will become My people.” See also: Gen. 12:3; Psa. 22:27; 47:8ff; 72:17; 86:9; 87:1ff; 102:13–22; Isa 11:1–9, 10, 12; 19:19–25; 25:1ff; 42:6; 44:5; 45:22ff; 49:6; Jer. 16:19; Amos 9:12; Hag. 2:6ff; Zech. 8:20—23; Mal. 1:11.

During its earliest years Christianity gravitates to the temple (e.g., Acts 2:46; 3:1; 5:20, 42; 21:26; 22:17; 24:11) and Jerusalem (e.g., Acts 1:4; 6:7; 8:1; 15:2; 19:21). Thus, this covenantal transition is a major, recurring theme in the NT. We see this especially in Hebrews which has this as its central, controlling point: John “depicts the replacement of the Old Covenant by Christianity in language reminiscent of the epistle to the Hebrews” (Martin Hopkins, 44). But we also witness numerous allusions to AD 70 in many texts in the Gospels (e.g., Matt. 8:11–12; 21:43; 22:1–7; 23:35–38; 24:1–34) as well as elsewhere (Acts 2:16–21, 37–40; 7:48–53; 1Thess. 2:14–16).

Fourth, preterism establishes an example for all ages of the church. By enduring such catastrophes as appearing in Revelation, the first-century church serves as an example of Christ’s providential protection of his people — giving hope for not only that day but all ages. If Christ can deliver the church in its infancy during its weakest stage of development from two ubiquitous enemies, then the future looks bright with hope.

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The Book of Revelation and the Postmillennial Hope (DVD lectures)

These three 50-minute lectures explain how Revelation does not contradict the postmillennial hope, as many assume.

This DVD set is available at : http://www.KennethGentry.com

JESUS REPEALED CAPITAL PUNISHMENT!

PMW 2022-031 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I was just kidding. But now that you are here, I want to consider the question: Did Jesus repeal capital punishment when he was challenged regarding the woman caught in adultery? Continue reading