With a heavy heart this private letter to Gary DeMar has been approved for public posting by its signatories: Andrew Sandlin, Ken Gentry, Doug Wilson, Jeffery Ventrella, Phillip Kayser, John Frame, Ardel Caneday, Jeff Durbin, James White, Brian Mattson, Keith Sherlin, Jason Bradfield, Sam Frost, and Uriesou Brito
Please be in prayer for Gary, that he would return to orthodoxy on these important redemptive-eschatological issues. Here is the letter we sent twice to Gary in private:
We are your brothers in the Lord, long-time friends, supporters, co-laborers in his Word, and co-promoters and defenders of the Christian worldview. We have contacted you privately twice in the last few months regarding our concerns, with the following:
We are writing to you once again with an earnest plea regarding your doctrinal transitioning that we are witnessing. Gary, we seriously and deeply hope that you will receive this as from deeply-burdened hearts and that you will respond to us as to those who love you in the Lord and have appreciated your public ministry.
As you know from our previous correspondence, we are deeply concerned over the eschatological direction you seem to be taking of late. Andrew Sandlin heard you speak at a conference in Texas about a year ago. At that time he was surprised that you would not acknowledge whether you believe in a future final judgment and a future physical resurrection of the dead. When asked, you also stated that you would not call full preterists “heretics.”
Due to certain statements you made publicly on Facebook recently, Ken Gentry asked you if you would affirm three simple, basic doctrinal positions. These questions have intentionally been kept limited and simple in order to avoid entangling interaction with the many variations within and permutations of Full Preterism (aka Consistent Preterism; aka Covenant Preterism; aka Hyperpreterism). Furthermore, they have also been confined to doctrines clearly declared in the American Vision Statement of Faith (https://americanvision.org/about/statement-of-faith/).
Those simple yes-or-no questions are now simplified and clarified even more:
Do you believe in a future bodily, glorious return of Christ?
Do you believe in a future physical, general resurrection of the dead?
Do you believe history will end with the Final Judgment of all men?
To refuse to affirm the future, physical resurrection, the final judgment of the righteous and the unrighteous, and the tactile reality of the eternal state is to refuse to affirm critical elements of the Christian faith. To contradict these doctrines is not merely to contradict a few specific biblical texts, it is to contradict indispensable aspects of the Christian faith and the biblical worldview.
As blunt as it might sound, it is to strike at crucial aspects in the very heart of the Christian faith.
This private letter of inquiry has been agreed upon by the signatories listed below. Please, Gary, receive this not as an attack upon you, but as a humble concern for your doctrinal orthodoxy and the integrity of American Vision. Please set the matter straight regarding these three fundamental issues so that we can lay this matter to rest.
We love you and are continuing to pray for you,
In the love of Christ the Lord,
Andrew Sandlin, Ken Gentry, Doug Wilson, Jeffery Ventrella, Phillip Kayser, John Frame, Ardel Caneday, Jeff Durbin, James White, Brian Mattson, Keith Sherlin, Jason Bradfield, Sam Frost, and Uriesou Brito
That is the end of the letter. Here is Gary’s response regarding interaction regarding the letter with his good friend, Andrew Sandlin (President, Center for Cultural Leadership):
I didn’t know about this letter until Gary did a podcast on it. From what I recall he categorically affirmed he believes #3 in that podcast.
Actually he said he believes the world will end. But in other contexts he said that he believes the world could end by a meteror strike or nuclear war. He was not talking about prophecy regarding God’s ending of history with a Final Judgment.
Why is full preterism heretical?
Is postmillennialism consistent with partial or full preterism?
I am not ready to declare it a “soul-damning” heresy (and it is not up to ME to declare such) that condemns one to eternal hell. But it is heretical based on its denial of certain fundamentals of the faith that are rooted in Scripture and formalized in the ecumenical creeds of the historic, universal, Christian faith. It cannot affirm the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed because it denies (among many other things!) that Christ is returning in the future in a physical body (the Second Advent), that we will receive a physical body at the future resurrection, and that there will be a Final Judgment that concludes history.
The reason creeds were established was to define and defend the historic Christian faith against various perversions within and challenges from without. See my chapter in Keith Mathison’s “When Shall These Things Be?”
Yes, I and many current-day postmillennialists are preterists (aka partial-preterists). But we see preterism as a hermeneutic tool for explaining certain time-delimited passages. We do not see it as a whole systematic theology. Hyperpreterists (by whatever label they choose) see all theology through the lense of AD 70, even where time limiters are not present or any other disambiguating terms are found.
So the beef with Gary is that he appears to be gravitating towards full P which is considered heretical (maybe). Though he still maintains postmill position (secondary issue at best). Sorry, I don’t see why everyone is upset. I myself am reformed (Baptist, 1646 London statement) and postmill (recent) after being mentored decades ago by DTS people, dispensationalists, Arminians, and antinomian all of which I consider much more problematic.
I didn’t know about this letter until Gary did a podcast on it. From what I recall he categorically affirmed he believes #3 in that podcast.///
Huh? Did you “miss” this?
Question 3 from the online letter to Gary DeMar:
Do you believe history will end with the Final Judgment of all men?
“I don’t know (I rarely say this) and I really don’t care. Whatever God decides to do with the end of history that’s fine with me.”
Apparently he is also denying that he is “postmillennial.” Everyone is upset with Gary’s denial of the physical resurrection of the body, the future physical second coming of Christ, and the future end of history at the final judgment which introduces the consummate order. These are three fundamentals of the faith.
That’s your problem. If you don’t think full preterism is heresy then everything Gary says isn’t a problem for you. However, in so saying you are in direct conflict with 2000 years of church and theological history.
Yes, after I posted that I read the article you posted and certainly understand the beef now. Greg Bahnsen would be very upset with Uncle Gary right about now if he indeed is denying the postmill position after so much work on it.
Thank you Gary for dealing with the text. All these critics should try that instead of attacking you.
Actually our letter was simply asking him three questions in order to see where he stands on the issues. Several of us are close personal friends. Read the letter again: we were cordially asking simple questions. The reason we are asking is because he originally held totally opposite (and orthodox!) views on these questions.
For instance, here is what he stated in the 1994 edition of “Last Days Madness.” Notice how confident he was and how orthodox he was. Something has radically changed that concerned his friends and associates:
“Jesus coming in 70 AD was a coming in judgment upon and apostate nation. When Jesus returns bodily–a still future event–He will have “abolished all rule and authority and power,” having put “all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death” (1 Corinthians 15:24-26). We await this glorious coming.”
Last Day Madness (1994), p.318
“The chapter (1 Cor. 15) deals with the resurrection not the Rapture: first, the resurrection of Jesus; second the resurrection of Christians. Without the resurrection of Jesus there will be no resurrection of Christians. The resurrection of believers comes just before the end: “But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when he delivers up the kingdom to God the Father, when he has abolished all rule and all authority and power (15:23-24). The “resurrection of the dead” occurs after the period of the kingdom (there must be something to deliver up) and just before “the end.”
Ibid, p. 192
”As has been demonstrated in the previous chapters, the events rehearsed in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) are signs leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. These chapters have nothing to do with when Jesus will return at the final judgment. There are no observable signs leading up to His bodily return!
”So then, when will Jesus return? The only “sign” the Bible gives us is the fullness of the kingdom, “when He has abolished all rule and authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:24-25). We know that Jesus is presently reigning over the Universe from heaven. Heaven is His throne and earth His footstool (Isaiah 66:1). He will continue to reign in this manner until all his enemies are put under his feet (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:35). When this is accomplished, Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead. It will be at the time when “the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).”
Ibid, p. 151
They are not simple questions. Many of you who signed the letter disagree on various texts. Some do not see a divided Olivet discourse. I will just name one and why people are confused and asking questions. Jeff Durbin’s sermon, “The New Covenant Heavens and Earth”. He teaches that Revelation 21 has been fulfilled, the old heavens and earth have passed away and the new heavens and earth have arrived. He teaches the new Jerusalem has come down out of heaven to the earth. Since Revelation 21 comes after Revelation 20 it seems Jeff has a problem unless He teaches that they are not chronologic. Of course Jeff would answer the 3 questions the way that maintains his orthodoxy but honestly I don’t know how He can get there scripturally while teaching what He does. Olivet discourse not divided, We are in the New Heavens and Earth, The New Jerusalem has come down, The Old Heavens and Earth have passed away, etc. I simply think We should have an abundance of grace to our brothers in Christ while we discuss these difficult issues. And Gary is certainly our brother in Christ. God bless and thank you for responding.
These are VERY simple questions. They are Yes-or-No questions. You either believe one or more of the three questions or you don’t. It is that simple. The questions do not ask WHY you believe them. They did not ask for the exegetical foundations of the questions. They simply asked WHAT do you believe — on the three issues.
There are differences on various texts. The issue is not lock-step agreement on ALL eschatological issues. It is a confirmation of the public, universal, historic Christian faith in the fundamentals. The core fundamentals have been declared in the ecumenical (not ecclesiastical!) creeds. The creeds were the summary results of exegetical analysis of the core of Christian theology, which was being defended against heretical incursions and external assaults on the Christian faith. All signers affirmed their commitment to a future bodily return of Christ, a future physical resurrection of the dead, and a future final judgment.
The more podcasts Gary does talking about why he is not answering these 3 questions, the bigger hole he seems to keep digging in my opinion. Sure seems like he isn’t answering because he doesn’t affirm them.
I do have questions for the folks signing at this Unorthodox Eschatology site though. Why would you put your name on something with such debatable scripture passages? I personally could not in good conscience sign that statement due to the scripture passages being cited.
You didn’t say which verses were problematic for you. But in light of this it is a good idea for you not to sign it! Especially if you don’t believe the doctrines declared therein.
The issue is that some people who signed the letter are teaching things that are not in line with the creeds while claiming to believe the creeds. Perhaps that is okay with you, but I believe they need to explain how they exegetically can affirm the creeds. As I pointed out previously if Revelation 21 is a current reality, has been fulfilled, I do not see how they in good conscience they can give a yes to the 3 questions. I simple want all of you to honestly discuss these issues. I have been studying this for over 40 years and respect and appreciate the work many of you have done. But the questions Gary is asking have not been answered. Perhaps Jeff Durbin can explain the apparent contradictions that his sermon that I mentioned leads to. I am trying to see what the scriptures teach. An appeal to man made creeds is not sufficient. The sermon Jeff gave could have been given by a FP and then He claims He is not a FP. He needs to explain this. Do in part to a rise in a postmillennial worldview these questions are not going to go away. There will be a growing interest in the FP or covenantal eschatological view if these questions are not addressed.
Thanks again for your time
You apparently do not understan the Now/Not Yet principle of biblical interpretation. Some redemptive issues that we enjoy NOW are to be enjoyed more greatly in their ultimate fulfillment, which is NOT YET. For instance, we are now spiritually resurrected (John 5:24) NOW, but are NOT YET physically resurrected (John 5:28-29). Thus, we enjoy a spiritual resurrection, but not a physical resurrection. But since man is a two-part being (body and soul, Gen. 2:7; Matt. 10:28), he must receive his full salvation in BOTH soul body. The same interpretive principle is true of the new creation: we spiritually enjoy it as a seminal reality NOW (2 Cor. 5:17), but in the future (NOT YET) we will enjoy it physical, therefore in its fullness (2 Pet. 3:10ff). On and on we can go with various elements of our salvation. Currently we have tasted the powers of the age to come, though we haven’t received its fullness yet (Heb. 6:5).
Similarly, in Rev 21-22 the new heavens and new earth has begun NOW, but is NOT YET in its final, full form.
By the way not ALL THINGS are taught in the creeds. Just some of the foundational issues (especially in response to early corruptions of and challenges to the Christian faith). The ecumenical creeds draw the outlines around the Christian faith; they do not detail the whole Christian faith (the Bible does that). Thus, premill, amills, postmills are all covered by the ecumencial creeds because they hold to the foundational issues (a future physical return of Christ, a future physical resurrection of hte dead, and a future final judgment of all men).