IS CHRIST’S RETURN “IMMINENT”? (1)

PMW 2019-086 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

A most remarkable feature of prophetic interest is the Christian’s conviction that we are living “in the shadow of the second coming,” that we are in a “countdown to Armageddon.” We often find linked with a radical misunderstanding of the last days the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ, especially among dispensationalists and premillennialists — but also even with amillennialists.

I will deal with the question in two articles. In this one I will set up the matter; in the next one I will answer it. I will focus largely on the dispensational approach to the question. Interestingly, the doctrine of imminence is simultaneously one of dispensationalism’s most potent drawing cards while being also its most embarrassing error.

John F. Walvoord explains imminency for us: “The hope of the return of Christ to take the saints to heaven is presented in John 14 as an imminent hope. There is no teaching of any intervening event. The prospect of being taken to heaven at the coming of Christ is not qualified by description of any signs or prerequisite events.” Continue reading

IS THE “END OF THE AGE” AD 70?

PMW 2019-085 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I am not always able to engage in theological discussion by email, due to my time constraints and the number of requests for such that I receive. But occasionally I will engage a discussion briefly. Here is one I just had with a PostmillennialWorldview reader. It regards the two-age structure of history.

PMW reader wrote:

I have a question to throw in the works if I may: Matthew 24:3 says ” What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

This could mean the end of the Old Testament age. I back this up with Jesus comments on the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will not be forgiven “in this age or the age to come” (Matthew 12:32.) Continue reading

JESUS AND PRETERISM (3)

PMW2019-082 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 AND PRETERISM (2)

PMW 2019-083 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 AND PRETERISM (1)

PMW2019-082 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

AL MOHLER DISSES POSTMILLENNIALISM

PMW 2019-081 by Gary DeMar (American Vision)
Al Mohler has written “Evolving Standards of Decency? How Progressivism Reshapes Society.” My question: “Where were Christians when the Supreme Court codified “evolving standards of decency”? Mohler writes that we share with progressives a belief “in a linear view of history…. We also believe that history doesn’t go forward and backward in time. But we do not believe as Christians that the world is always getting better and better. That’s actually a deformation of Christian doctrine. The reality is that the biblical worldview is so honest about the power of sin that we come to understand that societies do move forward in some terms economically, politically, certainly technologically, but they don’t move forward uniformly certainly when it comes to morality.” Continue reading

THE 144,000 IN REVELATION

PMW 2019-080 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I have been giving a brief survey of Revelation beginning in Rev. 4. Now we must note that as the wrath of the Lamb against the Jews builds, we will witness a surprising pause in the horrifying drama. Four angels hold back the wind from “the land,” i.e., Israel (Rev. 7:1-3). This act is symbolic imagery, relating what Robert Thomas calls (at another place) “picturesque apocalyptic.” The angels are not holding back literal winds, but the winds of destruction (cp. Jer. 49:36-37; 51:1-2). The first six seals represent the early stage of the Jewish War wherein Vespasian fights his way through Galilee toward Jerusalem. But before he has an opportunity to besiege Jerusalem the action pauses as these angels seal the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel (Rev. 7:3).

The number 144,000, as most commentators agree, is surely symbolic. In fact, in Revelation perfectly rounded thousands all appear to be symbolic. Ten is the number of quantitative perfection, and one thousand is the cube of ten. Frequently Scripture uses 1000 as a symbolic value, not expressing a literal enumeration (e.g., Ex. 20:6; Deut. 1:11; 7:9; 32:30; Josh. 23:10; Job 9:3; Ps. 50:10; 84:10; 90:4; 105:8; Eccl. 7:28; Isa. 7:23; 30:17; 60:22; 2 Pet. 3:8). Continue reading