ESCHATOLOGICAL DIPLOPIA?

Double visionPMT 2015-053 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

From time-to-time I get personal emails seeking answers to eschatological questions. This one is a question I hear quite frequently regarding both the Olivet Discourse and Revelation.

Question

“Thanks for the constant supply of good articles & blog posts. Here is a question for you that I thought might be a good one for a blog post sometime. If you also think so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

When I’m discussing passages such as the Matthew 24: 1-34 or other related passages with dispensational friends and I’ve shown them how clearly these passages relate to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, they usually can see that its pretty clear, but unable to let go of their pet position on the subject, they often retreat into their immune fortress of … “Dual Fulfillment”. I try to explain that biblical prophecies that have a literal historical fulfillment sometimes also have a foreshadowing of something spiritually fulfilled in Christ, but aren’t typically fulfilled twice in a literal historical context, but this doesn’t sway them from insisting on Dual Fulfillment. I find that a hard nut to crack and I don’t feel I have a great way of responding to it. Have you encountered this much and if so what is your response to it?”

Answer

I have a four-fold response I give in conferences or in radio interviews. Perhaps this will be helpful for you.

  1. Unnecessary complaint

The first point I like to make is as follows: Obviously you have seen the exegetical warrant for preterism. You have not cast out the preterist perspective regarding Olivet. And for good reason: the exegetical evidence is quite strong. But you still try to get around the “problem” for your eschatology by supposing it could occur twice.


Lord of the Saved
(by Ken Gentry)
A critique of easy believism and affirmation of Lordship salvation
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


Consequently, you are admitting the preterist perspective. You are being pushed by your eschatological presuppositions, even though you have the preterist evidence causing you to stumble. You ought to let the biblical evidence inform your eschatological position, rather than vice versa.

  1. No exegetical warrant

Despite your theological presuppositions, we have clear indications in the Olivet Discourse that Jesus specifically taught that the events would be soon: “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matt 24:34). There is no way around it.

You also see the reason for the Discourse: because of Jesus’ pronouncement against the Temple to which his disciples were pointing: “Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down” (Matt. 24:1–2). That Temple is gone. Just as Jesus prophesied. And in the time-frame he prophesied.

But when you look for an indication of double-fulfillment, you can find none. The text is clear as it stands. The exegetical evidence you need is lacking.

  1. Contextual contradiction

What is more, this approach not only empties Jesus’ express declaration of its meaning (“this generation will not pass away until all these things take place”). But it also contradicts the lead-up to the Olivet Discourse.

In Matthew 23 Jesus is denouncing the scribes and Pharisees. The scribes and Pharisees of the first century. The scribes and Pharisees who no longer exist. Jesus concludes his denunciation with a clear time reference: “Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (Matt 23:32–36).

This also is very clear. Thus we have exegetical evidence within the prophecy (Matt 24:2). And we have exegetical evidence leading up to the prophecy (Matt 23:36).


Olivet Discourse Made Easy
(by Ken Gentry)
Verse-by-verse analysis of Christ’s teaching on Jerusalem’s destruction in Matt 24
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


Historical absurdity

It requires us to believe that the Temple will be rebuilt and will be taken apart stone-by-stone once again in history. And that there will be another “abomination of desolation” (Matt. 24:16). And another “great tribulation”such as “has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will” (Matt 24:21).

Yet by your own admission, these events have already occurred. It is absurd to require them again, simply because of your system’s need. This is simply another evidence of what Jay Adams has called “eschatological diplopia”: double-vision.

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6 thoughts on “ESCHATOLOGICAL DIPLOPIA?

  1. David Paulk May 1, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Thank you for this article. It was very helpful. I have argued similarly with others using two of the points you made. Now I have two more! I actually emailed one prominent Amillennialist author how those who hold to the double-fulfillment position as you have described avoid the charge of their position being seen as completely made up as they retreat from the facts of the text and the strength of the partial-preterist position. I was actually more diplomatic than that. I asked him how they avoid the charge of their position being seen as ad hoc. That was two years ago, and I have yet to hear back from him.

  2. Kenneth Gentry May 1, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Great minds think alike. And so do you and I. 🙂

  3. Andrew K May 1, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    As I encounter this “diplopia” relatively often, this is very helpful! From my experience, every time I encounter this dual-fulfillment objection it becomes quite clear that while the person is able to grasp the evidence, they’re unwilling to be changed by it. Thanks for an excellent article! T

  4. rob westerman May 4, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Greetings Ken,

    Thank you – you’ve presented a good case. I too have had similar “discussions” and have had pretty much the same response as your other reader(s) have.

    I think it will take an event of Biblical proportions before those that have been taken captive by false doctrine will be willing to “see” Truth.

    2 Timothy 4:3-4

    Rob Westerman

  5. B. Newton August 6, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Ken,

    I was reviewing this material, as I, too, have dealt with various brothers along these lines. Do you think a supposed double fulfillment of Revelation could be argued along similar lines as the Olivet Discourse? Perhaps you’ve discussed that elsewhere, and I’ve just forgotten it…

    My approach on Revelation is somewhat like you suggested here, which is that there is no exegetical warrant for supposing dual fulfillment. That is, there are no textual controls in place to allow for double fulfillment. After all, why couldn’t there be triple or quadruple fulfillment using that unconstrained approach, rather than simply double fulfillment?

    At the same time, it seems one could argue that there is Scriptural warrant for double fulfillment, particularly in the OT. Therefore, one might ask why it would be inappropriate to apply such reasoning to the book of Revelation.

    Please forgive me if I’ve restated a previous question and/or response found elsewhere.

  6. Kenneth Gentry August 6, 2015 at 11:44 am

    I personally don’t believe Olivet is to be interpreted in terms of double fulfillment. That is, the events prophesied do not occur twice. I believe there is a division at Matt 24:34-36 which moves the prophecy from the first century to the last. But this is not double fulfillment, each portion only occurs once — either in the first century or in the past.

    This is my understanding of that question: http://postmillennialismtoday.com/2014/02/17/double-fulfillment-in-revelation/

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