JESUS AND PRETERISM (3)

PMW2019-082 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is the final article in a three-part response to Dr. Wayne Briddle of Liberty University. He presented a paper critiquing orthodox preterism and asked me to reply. These articles represent my reply.

Matthew 10:23

As I noted (too briefly!) at the ETS meeting, I disagree with Dr. Briddle’s observation (drawn from Toussaint) in his third paragraph. He states: “At the time that Jesus sent out his apostles, he was enjoying great popularity. There is no evidence that the apostles were in this kind of danger until after the crucifixion of Christ.” I disagree with this on several grounds:

(1) Even if Jesus was enjoying popularity among the common folk at the time, we surely could not say that the religious leadership found him popular. And they were the ones who would have him crucified. In fact, in John 2 (near his first miracle) he gives the cryptic statement about destroying the Temple and his raising it up, which was really speaking of his crucifixion. Much earlier than 10:23 he urges his hearers to a better righteousness than that of the scribes and Pharisees (5:20) and he rebuts the sayings of the elders of old (5:21ff), so that the people are impressed with his teaching as one with authority (7:28-29). He warns about “false prophets” who are “ravenous wolves” (7:15). In Matthew 9:10 (before 10:23) the Pharisees were charging that “he casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” Continue reading

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JESUS AND PRETERISM (2)

PMW 2019-083 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my previous article I began a brief response to Dr. Wayne Briddle of Liberty University regarding his critique of preterism. I recommend reading that article before reading this one. In this article I will briefly respond to various issues in a running, seriatim fashion.

Hyper-Preterism/Extreme Preterism

I do not know of any contemporary proponent of Hyper-Preterism who teaches that history may, in fact, come to an end. In fact, it seems to be a distinctive of this heterodox movement that it holds that the earth has been established “forever.” John Noe’s book drives this point home repeatedly. And as far as I can tell, this is commonly asserted in that movement. Continue reading

JESUS AND PRETERISM (1)

PMW2019-082 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

A few years ago I was privileged to hear Dr. Wayne A. Briddle of Liberty University deliver a cogent, careful, and cordial critique of evangelical preterism (which he designated “partial preterism”). Dr. Briddle graciously allowed me a few moments at the end of his presentation to respond. He also asked if I would mind providing him some sort of critique of his presentation for his better understanding of the issues from my perspective. Here is my reply.

Introduction

In his paper, Dr. Bridle provided a helpful summary statement regarding the nature of and evidence for preterism. His summary was apparently designed for an audience not thoroughly familiar with the debate. I commend him for his careful introduction of the topic. His summary should aid any one interested in the basics of preterism and its variant forms (from heterodox Hyper-Preterism or Full or Extreme Preterism to the Orthodox (“partial”) Preterism of R. C. Sproul, Gary DeMar, and Kenneth Gentry). Continue reading

AL MOHLER DISSES POSTMILLENNIALISM

PMW 2019-081 by Gary DeMar (American Vision)
Al Mohler has written “Evolving Standards of Decency? How Progressivism Reshapes Society.” My question: “Where were Christians when the Supreme Court codified “evolving standards of decency”? Mohler writes that we share with progressives a belief “in a linear view of history…. We also believe that history doesn’t go forward and backward in time. But we do not believe as Christians that the world is always getting better and better. That’s actually a deformation of Christian doctrine. The reality is that the biblical worldview is so honest about the power of sin that we come to understand that societies do move forward in some terms economically, politically, certainly technologically, but they don’t move forward uniformly certainly when it comes to morality.” Continue reading

THE 144,000 IN REVELATION

PMW 2019-080 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I have been giving a brief survey of Revelation beginning in Rev. 4. Now we must note that as the wrath of the Lamb against the Jews builds, we will witness a surprising pause in the horrifying drama. Four angels hold back the wind from “the land,” i.e., Israel (Rev. 7:1-3). This act is symbolic imagery, relating what Robert Thomas calls (at another place) “picturesque apocalyptic.” The angels are not holding back literal winds, but the winds of destruction (cp. Jer. 49:36-37; 51:1-2). The first six seals represent the early stage of the Jewish War wherein Vespasian fights his way through Galilee toward Jerusalem. But before he has an opportunity to besiege Jerusalem the action pauses as these angels seal the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel (Rev. 7:3).

The number 144,000, as most commentators agree, is surely symbolic. In fact, in Revelation perfectly rounded thousands all appear to be symbolic. Ten is the number of quantitative perfection, and one thousand is the cube of ten. Frequently Scripture uses 1000 as a symbolic value, not expressing a literal enumeration (e.g., Ex. 20:6; Deut. 1:11; 7:9; 32:30; Josh. 23:10; Job 9:3; Ps. 50:10; 84:10; 90:4; 105:8; Eccl. 7:28; Isa. 7:23; 30:17; 60:22; 2 Pet. 3:8). Continue reading

THE SEVEN SEALS OF REVELATION 6

PMW 2019-079 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In Revelation 6 Christ begins opening the seals. As Robert Thomas, Marvin Pate, and other commentators note, there is a “close parallelism between Jesus’ Olivet Discourse” and the seals of Revelation. And as the preterist reminds them, the contexts of both of these prophecies relate to first century events (cp. Rev. 1:1, 3; Matt. 24:2-3, 34). Interestingly, church father Eusebius (A.D. 260-340) uses Josephus’s history of the Jewish War (A.D. 67-70) to illustrate the fulfilling of the Olivet prophecy (Eccl. Hist. 3:5-9).

The rider on the white horse “bent on conquest” (Rev. 6:2-3) represents the victorious Roman march toward Jerusalem to engage the Jewish War in the Spring of A.D. 67. The rider on the red horse (Rev. 6:4) who takes “the peace from the earth” (Rev. 6:4; cp. Matt. 24:6-7) speaks of the surprising disruption of the famous pax Romana, an enforced peace that prevails throughout the Roman Empire for many years. For example, Epictetus (A.D. 60-140) writes that “Caesar has obtained for us a profound peace. There are neither wars nor battles” (Discourses 3:13:9). The Jewish revolt against Rome temporarily interrupts this famous peace. The red horse especially highlights that civil war occurring in Jerusalem itself (where Jesus utters his prophecy, Matt. 24). Continue reading

THE THRONE AND THE SCROLL IN REV. 4

PMW 2019-078 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In Revelation 1:12-20 John’s first vision shows Christ in history (spiritually) walking among the churches as their ever-present Protector and Head (cp. Matt. 18:20; 28:18, 20; Acts 18:9-10; Heb. 13:5). The focal judgments of Revelation do not begin until Revelation 6. In Revelation 4 and 5, though, God braces John for those coming fearsome judgment scenes by spiritually transporting him above history to God’s throne room in heaven (Rev. 4:1-2).

The Heavenly Throne

Here in Revelation 4 John sees God sitting on his judicial throne actively ruling over all creation (Rev. 4:2-6, 11). The four “living creatures” closest to the throne seem to be angels of the highest order: they ever watch (they are “full of eyes,” v. 6) over creation (they appear as creatures and sing of creation, vv. 7, 11), ready to do God’s holy bidding (they have six wings to swiftly fly and they sing of God’s holiness, v. 8) in all of creation (their number represents the four points of the compass, v. 7; cp. Rev. 7:1; 21:13). Whatever John witnesses thereafter — however terrifying the judgments, however vicious the opposition — he may rest assured that not only does Christ concern himself with the affairs of his people in history (Rev. 1), but that God is actively controlling all things from above history (Rev. 4; cp. Dan. 2:21; 4:35; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11). Continue reading