PMW 2023-033 by Andrew Sandlin
The following article written by Andrew Sandling, President of Center for Cultural Leadership explains why he (and I and many others!) did not notice Gary DeMar’s commitment to the core principles of hyperpreterism until recently.
Gary DeMar’s Heretical Eschatology: What Did I Know, and When Did I Know It?
By P. Andrew Sandlin
I don’t intend to pursue further the controversy over Hyper-Pretersim (HP) brought to light by this letter signed by a number of Gary’s friends.
But I feel obliged to respond to Gary’s statement that he hasn’t changed his views in about 25 years, and that I have continued to promote him during that time, and only lately have I objected to his views. Have I just over the last few months become more severe in my judgment on heresy? Was I tolerant of Gary’s false teaching for a quarter century and only in the last few weeks become publicly intolerant of it?
The short answer is no. Here’s the longer answer:
Gary is quite correct that I had concerns over his eschatology 25 years ago. The (HP) heresy was rearing its ugly head. Its books were being carried by the late Walt Hibbard at the now defunct Great Christian Books, which was influential in the Reformed camp at that time. By reliable accounts, noted author David Chilton had embraced the HP heresy before his premature death. Many people seemed to have had the impression that to embrace postmillennialism was to embrace preterism, and even heretical HP.
At the time I was at the Chalcedon Foundation, a postmillennial (but non-preterist) ministry, and I publicly opposed the HP heresy. I published an article by Ken Gentry opposing it. Since I knew Gary as a preterist was speaking very publicly about eschatology, I asked him if he embraced HP. His response was annoyance, and, as I recall, even indignation. I made an assumption at the time, and it now appears it was an incorrect assumption: that Gary was indignant that I would dare to ask him if he held to orthodox Christianity, since he obviously did. I now see he was indignant that I would question him about his beliefs at all, and that already, at that time, he was moving to the edges or outside the Christian Faith.
In the intervening years, I have read almost nothing of Gary’s eschatology. I assumed that he was a partial preterist like Ken Gentry. Ken has always been solidly orthodox, and I assumed that Gary basically agreed with Ken. Anything I’ve read of Gary’s the last 25 years has dealt with his cultural critiques, which have been excellent. When I asked him to write the chapter on eschatology for our recent book Failed Church, I certainly did not believe he stood outside the orthodox Faith, and that chapter does not express any heresy. It appears now, as a result of Gary’s recent, or at least recently publicized, statements, CCL will need to exclude that chapter from the book. I certainly would never have recruited Gary to write had I known his actual views.
The late Ken Talbot, founder and president of Whitefield Seminary, called me four or five years ago to warn me that he thought Gary was moving into the HP heresy. He said that Gary was speaking at HP conferences, and while there would never offer any kind of distinction between his view and theirs. Because I try to avoid guilt-by-association, I didn’t assume this meant Gary himself was HP. I believe Ken told me that he either left or was voted off the American Vision board because he took a stand on this issue. I don’t know the details about this, but I’m certain that’s what he told me. Ken was a strong opponent of the HP heresy.
Only in the last year have I become increasingly aware of Gary’s eschatological heresy. I was first alerted to it when early last year I listened to a podcast of his in which he answered a listener’s question of which NT texts teach the Second Coming. His response was that those who believe in the Second Coming refer to several biblical texts. He did not state that he believes the Bible teaches the Second Coming.
And then I noted that Gary refused on Facebook to answer Ken Gentry’s basic questions about whether Gary believed in the future bodily Second Coming, and the future bodily resurrection and judgment of the righteous and unrighteous, all of which all orthodox Christians affirm. Gary had consistently prodded Ken with public questions that, at best, indicated a tolerance for HP. Ken assembled a group of Gary’s friends to write him privately about this. Gary did not respond. We sent this letter twice, and I engaged with Gary privately about it, though Gary abruptly ended that exchange. Some have suggested that we should have contacted Gary privately before publishing that letter. We did. Several times.
It was that collaborative private letter that, with cosmetic revision, we published recently. No fair-minded person could claim this letter is bitter, mean, bullying, or unloving.
Over the last two weeks, several friends have provided me with evidence that, unknown to me, over the last two or three years Gary has been bold to deny fundamental elements of the Christian Faith. Here’s a clip filmmaker Nathan Anderson provided me from an interview within the last couple of years in which Gary denies the future physical resurrection. This episode was especially troubling since it seems Gary was being interviewed on a non-Christian program. And then Matt Doyle wrote this on his Facebook page:
“The fact is Gary has exegeted 1 Cor. 15. He just doesn’t want us to know that since it conflicts with his present HP views.
I found a PDF of Gary DeMar’s 1999 edition of Last Day Madness which was a revision of the original 1994 edition.
‘Jesus coming in 70 AD was a coming in judgment upon an 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) — Gary DeMar, p. 318
In comparing it to the fourth edition (1999) what did I find? It had been edited out. So as long as 24 years ago Gary was headed down the HP path. When in recent times I asked him to affirm that he still held this view he refused to answer.
As further proof I call your attention to this:
In a recent article (“The End of the Age” (Part 1) https://bit.ly/3DmhmPS he said this:
“‘The end’ in Matthew 10:22; 13:39, 40, 49; 28:20; Mark 13:7, 13; Luke 21:9; 1 Corinthians 1:8; 10:11; 15:24; Hebrews 3:6, 14; 6:11; 9:26; Revelation 2:26 means nothing more than the end being described in the context, not the end of everything.”
Notice that he quotes 1 Cor. 15:24 as being in this category. This is a complete contradiction of what he said in Last Day Madness in 1994. Is there any wonder that when he is asked to give passages for where the yet future, bodily, Second Coming of Christ appears in Scripture he does not cite 1 Cor. 15:24-25 (or any other passages) as he did in Last Day Madness? He no longer holds that it is about “the end” of all things but only the “end of the age” in 70 AD. If that is not Full Preterism, then I guess I don’t know what is.
Also, do you think Gary would affirm this today?
“…believers will not enter the kingdom with disembodied souls. They will enter the final kingdom with resurrected, spiritual bodies (emphasis his). Jesus ate with His disciples after His resurrection (Luke 24:40-43). His disciples were able to touch and see Him. He even called attention to His ‘flesh and bones’ (Luke 24:39). Yet, he was raised with a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:45-46).” The Reduction of Christianity, (1988), p.154
I cannot verify all of Matt’s original sources, but you might understand how these revelations troubled me.
Gary has begged for patience while he works through these eschatological issues. For awhile, I referred to his views as “agnostic” and “ambiguous.” It is clear to me now that his views are no longer agnostic or ambiguous at all. He simply denies the orthodox Faith. Indeed, he mocks it, as he does here from a public statement over the last few days:
These are not the assertions of a man on a theological journey, but a man who has arrived at a comfortable residence safely ensconced outside orthodox Christianity.
I am now willing to acknowledge Gary has held his present heretical views for 25 years. My honest explanation for why I’ve continued to promote him during that long time is that I did not know he held these views. Perhaps I’ve been naïve in not investigating further, but when these views did become apparent to me, I did confront Gary.
My opposition to heresy and false doctrine is not severer now than it was 25 years ago. I abominate the heresy when the theological liberals mock the future bodily resurrection, and I abominate it when Gary mocks it. Both are destructive heresies.
I did not know until very recently that Gary has now embraced full-bore heresy. I know it now.
And I oppose (and have always opposed) these views — without apology, and without qualification.
Addendum by Ken Gentry
Gary used to clearly and forcefully declare orthodox eschatology. Now he attempts to side-step the issues by refusing to answer directly. Consider his earlier views. See if he will affirm them or affirm American Vision’s Statement of Faith. Note the following quotes from Gary:
“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
For more excellent articles by Sandlin and his associates, see the Center for Cultural Leaderhip website.
Where-s the link to the clip Nathan Anderson provided in which Gary denies the future physical resurrection?
I will be posting a brief article responding to your question. It is in the queue and will appear on May 30. Persevere to the end and you will be saved (from your confusion over the matter).
There is always a danger in quoting someone without context. The DeMar clip when considered in isolation is very disjointed and needs clarification. However I don’t get the sense that he is rejecting the future bodily resurrection at the end of time or the second coming of Jesus. Rather, I understand from this that he is opposing (a) the idea that people receive a new body immediately after death, and (b) the existence of the intermediate state or disembodied spirit. I would also understand from the clip that he is referring to the future bodily return of Christ as a third coming (the second in Demars understanding is presumably (70 AD) . Its probably too late for this but it would be better in my view to have a face to face meeting with Demar for clarification rather than engage in a cyber war of words.
He most definitely has rejected a future bodily resurrection. He believes we are “resurrected” at the moment of death and that our “resurrected body” is spiritual, not material.
..yes i agree this is feasible but then a “resurrected body“ that is spiritual only is a self contradiction and he did say in the clip that the very idea of the spirit being separated from the body is depressing. So could/might he be referring to some form of “soul sleep” where both the spirit and the body are raised together on the last day. Just a thought !
No. He definitely believes we step immediately from this world into the next where we immediately attain a spirit-body.
I am deeply saddened at DeMar’s defection from evangelical orthodoxy. DEEPLY saddened.
What has happened to Gary? He used to be trustworthy and sound. I really admired his writing. But now he is saying that his first decade of writing was mistaken. I like the earlier Gary. Well, this just shows you can’t put your trust in man.
I was able to track down a DeMar podcast called “The Burros of Berea” Episode 77 around the 1:29 mark , in which DeMar was asked what he believed regarding life after death. Demar replies that “ …but I believe that when you die you go to be with the Lord, and you get a new body at that time – a spiritual body…” ( nigel comment : not a spirit-body)
Now DeMar didn’t elaborate in the podcast on exactly what he means by “spiritual body” but in 1 Corinthians 15 : 42-53 I find the same term used by the Apostle Paul where he writes of the “natural body” and contrasts it with the “spiritual body” at the resurrection of the dead. Evidently, the Apostle Paul means us to understand that our resurrected bodies which he calls the “spiritual body” will be made of flesh (like Jesus’s body is ) but a different kind of flesh than we have now.
Any further thoughts on this are appreciated. e.g. is the issue with DeMar to do with the timing of this new resurrected body or is it to do with the properties of the new resurrected body ?
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! I have followed Gary for a long time. I began to be a little concerned a few years ago. But now my worst fears have been realized. WHY has he become a Hyiperpreterist?
The “spiritual” body is the body fully controlled by the Spirit, not a body made up of spirit. This is why Paul can speak of earthly Christians as “spiritual” (1 Cor. 2-3). He is not declaring that these flesh and blood Christians are made of spirit, but are controlled by the Spirit. Yes, our bodies will be transformed; but it is our BODIES that will be transformed. We will not receive a new body. And our bodies will be transformed on “the last day” (John 6:44), not gradually, one-by-one over the entirety of history since the first century.
This is devastating to me. I have long fought against hyper-preterism. I often used Gary’s arguments against them. Now I am finding out that he has dismissed his earlier positions and has sided with the hyper-preterists. This explains why he speaks at some of their conferences. But he won’t be speaking to me anymore.
I am proud of Sandlin for confessing his oversight. I am disappointed in myself for not seeing where Demar was headed. He is off the rails. And this is quite disturbing. I can no longer support his ministry. Thank you, Dr. Sandlin for your boldness.
I am very disappointed in De Mar. I long followed him, but now he has shown himself to be confused. How could someone who studied the Bible for so long be confused. It makes no sense.
I read the gracious letter that started this controversy. De Mar should have answered it forthrightly. Instead he has danced around the issue. This is not confusing those who are orthodox. But it is confusing some of his follower who simply follow him without thinking. Truly sad. A real commentary on the current sad circumstance of evangelical Christianity in America.
Unlike Jesus, our bodies will be subject to decay and often cremation after we die, so in that sense at least we can expect a “new body” at the resurrection. It seems clear from the Corinthian passage that Paul refers to our new resurrection body as a “spiritual body”. Im just concerned that the 2 sides in this issue might be talking past one another which is why i would really hope that DeMar could join in a face to face round table meeting to explain exactly what he means before we start using the ‘H’ word.
What IS it that atracts good people to bad theology? I am flabbergasted that Gary has gone this direction. Thanks for the heads up.
Your point would only mean a “newly reconstructed” body, not necessarily a new body. As in Ezekiel 37 (though metaphorical) God brings together some dry bones to form the body once again. There ARE two sides to the issue: the orthodox view of historic Christianity and the unorthodox view.
Gary has defected from orthodoxy and even mocks it! Despicable.
People used to call Gary North “scary Gary” because of his forecasting of negative social matters. That title, “scary Gary,” can now be transferred to Gary DeMar because of his defection from orthodoxy and, basically, his attacking it. And even I have the name “Gary.” Disturbing. Quite disturbing.
I used to be a Gary fan. But his unorthodoxy and his refusal to answer simple questions clearly have turned me off.
Much unlearning has made him mad. So disappointing. Hopefully prayer will bring him to his senses.
Thank you, Andrew Sandlin. It has been surprising to me how long Gary was able to fly under the radar. Your letter with co-signers was well put, loving, and important. I was not surprised Gary would not affirm your questions. I fear how far he will slide now that he has been exposed?
I am flabbergasted. DeMar always seemed to have a good ability to explain the Bible. Now he doesn’t even know for sure what he believers, except that he is sure it is not historic Christianity. Prayer time!
I can’t say I am surprised about Demar. I have seen this coming on slowly but surely for some time. I can say I am dismayed. I liked him a lot. But I will warn people away from him now.
SO disappointed. We need a book burning of Demar’s works.