PMT 2014-071 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Preterists believe that Jesus called down judgment upon Israel, and that this judgment was deserved by the people of Israel. Because of our modern historical situation — post-Holocaust — this view is deemed by some to be an immoral position because of its latent anti-Semitism. But is the charge legitimately brought against the preterist?
This is the second in a series on the question. More will follow. But now let us consider:
Before I even start with the general defense of preterism against this charge, I will clearly and forthrightly state: anti-Semitism is evil and should not be held by any Christian. You cannot be anti-Semitic and follow Jesus’ command: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I will also declare that I myself am opposed to anti-Semitism and have never held to it or any form of racism.
A Revelation of the Revelation (6 CDs by Ken Gentry)
This lecture series was designed to introduce the preterist approach to Revelation
to those who had never heard of it.
Very helpful for personal study, small group Bible study, or Sunday school classes.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
But this issue is not about me. So I must speak to the broader issue regarding whether or not preterism as such is anti-Semitic. My answer to this question should be surmised from all that I have said before: No. Preterism as a theological construct is not anti-Semitic. Let me now respond to the “preterism = anti-Semitism” charge.
Defending by defining
I would point out that we need to define our terms. What is “anti-Semitism”? This term is thrown around a lot, but not often properly interpreted.
First, a basic, sufficient definition is found in Webster’s New Twentieth Century Unabridged Dictionary. There we learn that “anti-Semitism” is: “1. prejudice against Jews; dislike or fear of Jews and Jewish things. 2. discrimination against or persecution of Jews.” This is the only legitimate definition in alleging anti-Semitism. No plank in the preterist system suggests that preterism dislikes Jews, fears them, or wants to discriminate against or persecute them.
The belief that God will not once again exalt Israel above all other nations (as in the OT, e.g., Dt 7:6-8; Psa 147:19-20) is not anti-Semitic. It may be contra-Judaic, but it is not anti-Semitic. That is, preterism certainly contradicts religious Judaism theologically, but it does not seek to persecute ethnic Jews socially.
Second, I would point out another necessary definition in the debate. Preterism teaches that (1) God punished Israel; and he did so (2) in the events of the first century. Preterism holds neither that Christians were ever called upon to persecute Jews (in either the first century or today) nor that God’s judgment wrath is to continue against them today. The prophetically-determined, biblically-defined judgment of God came against them in the concrete, historical, non-repeatable events of the first century in that: this was the generation that rejected Christ, and the temple around which he ministered was the focus of his wrath. Those people of that generation and that institution of that covenant have long since perished.
Satan Issues (CDs)
A two-message consideration of Satan.
Actually one of the messages exposes a misunderstanding about Satan (he is not Lucifer),
while the other demonstrates that Satan was bound by Christ in the first century.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
We need to distinguish between an interpretation of a book written 2000 years ago in the context of great struggle for the life of the church and the ravings of modern racists, zealots, and hotheads. I am interpreting a book regarding events that occurred 20 centuries ago; I am not calling for a continued pogrom against the Jews. In fact, my evangelical Christian theology forbids it (“do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) as well as my postmillennial expectations (“every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues” will be saved) — as well as the obvious fact that my Savior (“Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham,” Matt 1:1) and his apostles (Matt 10:1ff) were Jewish.
In my next blog I will continue my preterist response to the anti-Semitism charge.
In one of my latest reads, a memoir by a woman who left her Hasidic roots, she claims that her grandparents, among other faithful Hasidic Jews with memories of the holocaust, are vehemently opposed to the Zionist movement. The impression is that they scornfully regard Zionism as an opportunistic group of Jews who are taking advantage of the holocaust sympathy element to advance their national interests, but who have no true religious devotion to their Jewish traditions .
This is not exactly related to the perspective of the preterist posItion, of course, but in your experience, have you found this attitude to be true, Dr. Gentry? It would seem at first glance to be a contradictory position for a Hasidic Jew to take – believing that Zionism denigrates the suffering of the holocaust survivors.
We should recognize that no group or movement is monolithic. There will be various positions among them.