PMT 2014-117 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.
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.
Evangelical Preterism v. Hyper-Preterism
On page two of your paper (in the first paragraph) you (correctly) note that most partial preterists regard full preterism as heretical. This is certainly true, and important. In fact, Keith A. Mathison has edited a book demonstrating this, When Shall These Things Be?.
When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyperpreterism
(ed. by Keith Mathison)
A reformed response to the aberrant HyperPreterist theolgy.
Gentry’s chapter critiques HyperPreterism from an historical and creedal perspective.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
To fill out your materials in this regard I will cut-and-paste a brief note I provide in my new edition of The Beast of Revelation, which points interested in persons to various critiques of Hyper-Preterism:
A view currently gaining a cult-like popularity 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. This view is not supported by any creed or any council of the Church in history. A “Foreword” to a book by John Noe from this movement inadvertently highlights the (all too typical) problem:: “John is not a professional theologian. He has had no formal seminary training, but that may be an advantage.” Then again, lacking training in biblical languages, exegetical principles, and formal theology may not be helpful at all. The origins of this modern movement arise out of and are fueled by many either presently or previously within the Church of Christ sect (e.g., Max King, Tim King, and Ed Stevens). Some “hyper-preterists” have even become Unitarians (see: Edward E. Stevens, “Wanda Shirk & PIE,” Kingdom Counsel [April 1994-Sept. 1996]: 3-17).
Others have begun to apply the biblical references to 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, Wash.: Gospel Themes, 1997). The theological foundations of the movement appear to be continually mutating, which is expected when the position has no creedal moorings and is adrift on the sea of untrained theologians. For helpful rebuttals see: Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology (3d. ed.: Draper, Vir.: ApologeticsMedia, 1997), App. C: “A Brief Theological Critique of Hyper-Preterism.” Jonathan Seraiah, The End of All Things: A Defense of the Future (Moscow, Ida.: Canon, 1999). R. C. Sproul, “. . . in Like Manner,” Tabletalk 24:12 (December 2000): 4-7. Vern Crisler, “The Eschatological A Priori of the New Testament: A Critique of Hyper-Preterism,” Journal of Christian Reconstruction 15 (Winter, 1998): 225-56. Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1999), App. C.
Wayne, you may be interested to read my forthcoming article on 1 Corinthians 15, which will appear in the May issue of The Chalcedon Report: “Christ’s Resurrection and Ours.” In that article I counter the Hyper-Preterist misunderstanding of Paul’s reference to the “spiritual body.” I strongly assert the physical resurrection of the believer at the end of history is demanded by the physical resurrection of Christ in the first century. I provide a running exposition of key points in Paul’s argument.
Gospel Texts Used by Preterists
In your first sentence under this heading (on p. 3), you might want to restructure your statement. You state: “I wish to deal primarily with the issue of whether Jesus’ eschatological teaching conforms to the claims of partial preterism.” I believe this should be inverted to say: “I wish to deal primarily with the issue of whether the claims of partial preterism conform to Jesus’ eschatological teaching.” Jesus’ teaching is obviously prior to our teaching, and is certainly absolutely true. So I believe that your task should be to see if our teaching conforms to his. He certainly doesn’t have to answer to us.
I would also urge you to consider restructuring your second sentence in that paragraph. You currently have:
“Three texts in the Gospel of Matthew are most frequently used by preterist proponents in order to show that when Jesus talked about coming back to judge the world and inaugurate his promised kingdom, he always had in mind the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in A.D. 70….”
I (we) do not believe this. For instance, I hold that the Kingdom Parables look to the distant Second Coming of Christ to end history with the judgment and the resurrection of the dead. I also believe that Matthew 25 has Christ dividing and judging the nations at his Second Coming. There are other texts I would urge in this regard, as well.
Consequently, I would recommend that you divide your statement into two sentences and rephrase it as follows (italics show my changes;
strikeouts my recommendations for dropping words):
“Three texts in the Gospel of Matthew are most frequently used by preterist proponents. These are used as evidence
in order to show that when in some places where Jesus talked about coming back to judge the world in ‘cloud-judgment’ and to inaugurate his promised kingdom in power, he always had in mind the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in A.D. 70….”
In the next article I will consider some of your observations under the sub-heading on page 3: