WHAT IS “SUFFERING”?

Jail BiblePMW 2033-054 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I am continuing a postmillennial response to the evangelical claim that the church is called to suffer in history. If so, this would undermine the postmillennial hope. Postmillennial victory cannot be true if the church is always to suffer.

Now we must note:

Persecution is serious external oppression

As we reflect on this point in the debate we must bear in mind a vitally important matter: The only kind of suffering that contradicts post-millennialism is suffering rooted in dangerous external threats and oppression (especially when designed to suppress or punish the Christian faith). The New Testament era Christians are indeed a suffering people, enduring “threats and murder” (Ac 9:1–2), capital punishment (Ac 7:59; 12:1–2), and imprisonments and beatings (2Co 11:23–25), while being made a “public spectacle” and having their “property seized” (Heb 10:32–34). And were these conditions to continue until the end, postmillennialism could not be true. Continue reading

QUICK ARGUMENT FOR REVELATION’S EARLY DATE

PMW 2022-052 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Introduction

Revelation 17:8–10 is an important passage that helps us determine the date in which John composed Revelation. That passage reads as follows:

[17:8] The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. [17:9] Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, [17:10] and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.

Since there is a serious debate over the dating of Revelation, and since we are in one of the passages that offers us evidence for its date (Rev. 15–19), I thought I would introduce you to the debate. Continue reading

JESUS WAS A PRETERIST (3)

PMW 2022-052 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is the final article in a three-part response to Dr. Wayne Briddle of Liberty University. He presented a paper critiquing orthodox preterism and asked me to reply. These articles represent my reply.

Matthew 10:23

As I noted (too briefly!) at the ETS meeting, I disagree with Dr. Briddle’s observation (drawn from Toussaint) in his third paragraph. He states: “At the time that Jesus sent out his apostles, he was enjoying great popularity. There is no evidence that the apostles were in this kind of danger until after the crucifixion of Christ.” I disagree with this on several grounds:

(1) Even if Jesus was enjoying popularity among the common folk at the time, we surely could not say that the religious leadership found him popular. And they were the ones who would have him crucified. In fact, in John 2 (near his first miracle) he gives the cryptic statement about destroying the Temple and his raising it up, which was really speaking of his crucifixion. Much earlier than 10:23 he urges his hearers to a better righteousness than that of the scribes and Pharisees (5:20) and he rebuts the sayings of the elders of old (5:21ff), so that the people are impressed with his teaching as one with authority (7:28-29). He warns about “false prophets” who are “ravenous wolves” (7:15). In Matthew 9:10 (before 10:23) the Pharisees were charging that “he casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” Continue reading

JESUS WAS A PRETERIST (2)

PMW 2022-051 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.

Hyper-Preterism/Extreme Preterism

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. Continue reading

JESUS WAS A PRETERIST (1)

PMW 2022-050 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

A few years ago I was privileged to hear Dr. Wayne A. Briddle of Liberty University deliver a cogent, careful, and cordial critique of evangelical preterism (which he designated “partial preterism”). Dr. Briddle graciously allowed me a few moments at the end of his presentation to respond. He also asked if I would mind providing him some sort of critique of his presentation for his better understanding of the issues from my perspective. Here is my reply.

Introduction

In his paper, Dr. Bridle provided a helpful summary statement regarding the nature of and evidence for preterism. His summary was apparently designed for an audience not thoroughly familiar with the debate. I commend him for his careful introduction of the topic. His summary should aid any one interested in the basics of preterism and its variant forms (from heterodox Hyper-Preterism or Full or Extreme Preterism to the Orthodox (“partial”) Preterism of R. C. Sproul, Gary DeMar, and Kenneth Gentry). Continue reading

HOPELESS HOPE? (2)

HopelessPMW 2022-049 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my last blog post  I began a consideration of the question: “How can we have hope today?” Is hope hopeless. And if it is, what is to become of the postmillennial hope. This is the second and concluding article on that question. I hope you will read the previous article first (see there is hope!).

Earthly Hope in History

The early ante-Nicene church struggled mightily in their task. Initially, they were but a “little flock” (Luke 12:32) who humbly committed their lives to a despised, rejected, and crucified Lord (1 Cor. 2:8). Initially, they were hunted down by the mightiest empire of the world, to be thrown to the beasts for refusing to worship Caesar, to be burned in the fires for affirming Christ’s lordship. Surely their times were fraught with unspeakable terror such as we have not known in modern America. Yet by the grace of God, a little over 200 years after the Apostles left the scene the emperor Constantine professed faith in Christ, lifting the earthly burden from our spiritual forefathers. Christ’s little flock was witnessing His kingdom coming with power, His gospel exercising a growing influence in the world. Continue reading

HOPELESS HOPE? (1)

PMW 2022-048 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.Hope

In his letter to the troubled Corinthian church, Paul lists three Christians virtues while exhorting them to a closer walk with Christ: faith, hope, and love (1 Cor. 13:13). This three-fold cord of holy values provides a strong bond of commitment for the Christian, and has tied the Church of Jesus Christ together throughout the ages.

Faith and love are not only beautiful threads knitting together the fabric of the Christian life, but are easily recognized as such. They weave a strong carpet for the Christian walk; they serve as dual strands tugging us forward in our holy calling. And though hope is certainly not a detached thread from the Christian garment, it has been snagged loose and at best is only partially visible to the eye of faith today.

Certainly all Christians are united in recognizing our ultimate, glorious resurrection hope in our heavenly home. We know that the present fallen order is not all that we may expect in our experience of God’s grace. The beatific vision in Scripture encourages us to keep a hopeful eye on heaven above even as we watch our steps in the earth below. And though eternal life in the presence of God is the ultimate hope of the Christian and the abiding consequence of the gospel, it does not exhaust the full significance of biblical hope. Continue reading