PMW 2022-003 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Preterism is anti-Semitic. Pure and simple. To the core, through-and-through. It denounces Jews and Israel. And it must do so to maintain its distinctive theology. It involves a persecutional mindset.
At least that is what prophecy populists maintain, and what a number of scholars (who should know better) argue. But why do they make this charge?
Preteristm teaches that several New Testament prophecies apply to the AD 70 destruction of the temple. Is preterism’s focus on the Jewish judgment in AD 70 anti-Semtic? This is a serious moral charge. How does the preterist postmillennialist answer it? Are we guilty of such a sin?
Before I can respond to the charge I must first consider the historical backdrop to it, then the actual moral charge deemed to be within the system.
Two issues merge today in prompting the anti-Semitism charge against preterism.
The first is the horrific Nazi holocaust that ruthlessly slaughtered so many Jews. This enormous evil has rightly impacted our psyche regarding both the suffering of the Jews and the sinfulness of man. Its impact is widely felt in biblical and theological studies, just as it is in historical, sociological, political, psychological, and other fields of academic endeavor.
The second is political correctness, with all of its absurdities and hyper-sensitivity. We are all familiar with this liberal mindset and its heightened sensitivity to any sort of perceived slight to any people group — except for Christians, especially evangelical Christians, and most especially white evangelical Christians. Combined with an extreme relativism, the very facts of history are either totally suppressed or radically reinterpreted in order to promote the new values inherent in this perspective.
BEFORE JERUSALEM FELL
Doctoral dissertation defending a pre-AD 70 date for Revelation’s writing (459 pp; pb). Thoroughly covers internal evidence from Revelation, external evidence from history, and objections to the early date by scholars.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
In this sort of environment any promotion or defense of Christianity, especially regarding its truth claims and its history-altering impact, is fair game for intellectual derision and academic assault. The modern mind stands aghast that we believe Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life.” The notion of Jesus as the only Savior is an anathema that is condemned with all the vitriol that can be mustered — which is quite a bit.
The preterist “sin”
Furthermore, the preterist approach to NT prophecy makes the matter supposedly worse by (allegedly) adding the additional baggage of overt anti-Semitism. This is because preterists believe that two series of events from the first century are foundational to NT prophecy and the future development of human history. The first set of events involve the birth, life, work, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. The second includes the destruction of Jerusalem, the collapse of the Jewish temple, and the permanent cessation of the sacrificial system. (I should note, however, that as Richard Gaffin and others notes, the AD 70 judgment is really an extension of Christ’s first coming. Thus, technically these are not two series of events, but one elongated one.)
In the preterist system these two event-series dramatically demonstrate the wrath of God against Israel, combining to:
• legally effect the ending of the old covenant which was God’s revelation for governing Israel
• permanently disestablish Israel from its central role in redemptive-history
• establish forever the new covenant and its final reorganization of the people of God in the Church of Jesus Christ
This is anathema! Such a theology should be denounced in the public square, not given a hearing! How can we even think that God judged Israel in the first century merely for rejecting the their Messiah, the Son of the living God, and persecuting his followers? And especially in affirming this world-conquering religious construct, preteristic postmillennialism! The secularists complain: “Aren’t all religions equal?” “Isn’t truth relative?” “Wasn’t Jesus just a first century itinerant preacher and mystic?” “Away with this man, we have no king but Self!”
BLESSED IS HE WHO READS
By Larry E. Ball
A basic survey of Revelation from an orthodox, evangelical, and Reformed preterist perspective. Ball understands John to be focusing on the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70. Insightful. Easy to read.
For more educational materials: www. KennethGentry.com
So then, preterism exalts Christ as the only Savior, affirms Christianity as the only approach to God, promotes the Bible as the unique, infallible, inerrant, authoritative revelation of God. And — God forbid! — we see the judgment of first century Israel as the will of God and the fulfillment of biblical prophecy in clearing the way for the ascendency of Christianity. This, according to the modern mindset, is anti-Semitism in all of its ugliness and simplicity.
Have you heard this anti-Semitism charge? Perhaps you could post a note regarding your experience with it.
I will continue this in my next post.