Home | | E-Mail | | Contents | | V&FT


The Christmas Conspiracy


KENNETH GENTRY'S DEFENSE OF MEDIEVAL ERROR


My comments are hyper-linked to Dr. Gentry's article. You may begin reading his article, jump to my comments, and then jump back to Gentry's article.
Subj: Ken Gentry's ANALYSIS of HP
Date: 97-04-30 02:25:13 EDT
From: ctay@vcn.bc.ca (Colin Tayler)
Sender: owner-Theonomy-L@dlh.com
Reply-to: Theonomy-L@dlh.com
To: Theonomy-L@dlh.com
CC: Theonomy-L@dlh.com

Theonomy-L submission from Colin Tayler <ctay@vcn.bc.ca>

I've been given premission by Dr. Gentry to post this on T-L.
-Colin
---------- Forwarded message ----------

There seems to be quite a controversy over "preterism," especially "consistent preterism" (or as its detractors frequently call it, "damnable blasphemous heresy"). For years "preterism" was standard fare among Reconstructionists, who combated premillennialism with Scriptural proof that many "end-time" prophecies (e.g., Matthew 24) were actually prophecies about events in the "last days" of the Old Covenant and the destruction of the temple in AD70. But now a growing number of Christians are arguing that all New Testament prophecies concerned events in the first century A.D., and there are no prophecies of a yet-future "Second Coming." Chalcedon has published a special series of articles against "consistent preterism" (or as Chalcedon calls it, "The Hymenean Heresy"). Kenneth Gentry, who has written some fine books, has permitted his analysis of "hyper-preterism" to be published over the Internet. It is also available at the Chalcedon website: A Brief Theological Analysis of Hyper-Preterism.

This is my analysis of Gentry's article. At this point I have not resolved the question in my own mind. I object, however, to those who attempt to pressure others from even asking the question.

A BRIEF THEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF HYPER-PRETERISM

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Th.D. C 1995

Comments by Kevin Craig

"HP" = "Hyper-Preterist," "-ists," or "-ism," depending on context.

Creedal Failure
Hermeneutic Failure
Resurrection Errors
Christology Implications
History and Church Errors
From time to time I receive letters from men declaring themselves "reconstructionist" and "consistent preterist." The "consistent preterist" believes that all prophecy is fulfilled in the A.D. 70 destruction of the Temple, including the Second Advent, the resurrection of the dead, the great judgment, and so forth. Due to my primary writing ministry against rapidly changing dispensationalism, I have not had time to deal extensively with the issue, but I do have some random thoughts that I will make public in this article. These thoughts are based on readings from their monthly publications and books, of which I have a great number.

General observations:

It appears that Gentry is not addressing this article to HP's, but to traditional post-mils. He is, as it were, preaching to the choir. We should not expect a scholarly, in-depth response to HP arguments. This article should not be considered a good excuse for not reading Russell's The Parousia or at least checking out HP web sites.

Second, virtually the entire article deals with one HP doctrine of a future vs. past resurrection.

Much more is involved that just the Resurrection. In my own mind I have separate questions on each of the "end-time" events. I can deny that Christ is physically coming again and still believe that after I die I will be resurrected. I can believe there was a resurrection after Christ's resurrection and before AD70 (Matthew 27:53) and another resurrection in the year AD70 (prophesied but unrecorded in Scripture). I can believe that these resurrections affect me in some way, even if I can't be more specific as to how. Very little in Gentry's article affects HPers who are opposed to Neo-Platonism, deny a future Second Coming, and have a different view of the resurrection of the dead than the HP view with which Gentry is apparently familiar.

Let me begin by noting that, in the first place, I do not know how anyone could credibly claim to be postmillennial and hyper-preterist, nor do I understand how they could claim to be reconstructionist, while maintaining their hyper-preterism. If all prophecy was fulfilled in the first century events, then who is to say it is the will of God for the gospel to exercise world-wide victory? There is no remaining word of prophecy to inform us of such. Furthermore, the hyper-preterist position cannot be theonomic in that in their view the Law came to fulfillment in the passing away of the Jewish order (Matt. 5:17-19). So a hyper-preterist cannot be a reconstructionist (theonomic postmillennialist) on exegetical grounds (although his heart might wish for the reconstructionist worldview). Q.: Can HP's be post mils?

A.: No and yes. "Post-mil" means the "Second Coming" is after ("post") the "millennium" (i.e., the present age). HP's deny a future "Second Coming." They do not believe in a future post- (or pre-, or mid-[?]) millennial return of Christ. Ergo, HP's cannot be "post-mils."

However, in the current eschatological debate, "post-mil" is often a shorthand for someone who opposes the "pessimillennialism" of a-mils and pre-mils. An optimistic dominion-oriented HPer is fairly labeled "post-mil" in the current context.  [return to Gentry]

Q.: Can HP's be Reconstructionists?

A.: Why not? (See above: "An optimistic dominion-oriented HPer is fairly labeled "post-mil" [read: "reconstructionist"] in the current context.") As Gentry puts it at the end of the present paragraph, "[the HP's] heart might wish for the reconstructionist worldview." No problem here. [return to Gentry]

Q.: Are there any prophecies remaining to be fulfilled?

A.: Of course there are! Let's assume for a moment that we are in the New Heavens and the New Earth. What should we be doing? One quick glance at Isaiah 65 will answer that question:

  • We are to put the old man (and his memories) to death (v.17);
  • We are to be glad and rejoice (v. 18);
  • We are not to complain (v.19);
  • We are to fulfill our days (v.20);
  • We are not to be sinners (v.20) [thus presupposing the existence of God's Law (1 John 3:4, WLC Q.24)];
  • We are to build (v.21);
  • We are to plant (v.21);
  • We are to work (v.22);
  • We are to bring forth children (v.23).

Building, exercising dominion, obeying God's Law. Is there any part of the "Reconstructionist" program that is not included here? That should be enough for a start; plenty to work on, plenty to hope for.

(If you think I'm pulling law and prophecy out of thin air, may I suggest you read my essay, "How to Worship God's Law."  [return to Gentry]

Q.: Did the Law pass away in AD70? (Matthew 5:17-20)

A.: Something did. Notice Matthew 24:35. Every post-mil agrees that verses 1-35 are speaking of AD70. The context speaks of "heaven" passing away in that generation (vv. 29, 34). If verse 35 refers to 70 AD, why not Matt. 5:17-19? Of course, the Law which Theonomists defend existed before Sinai (Gen. 26:5), and even in the Garden of Eden. It did not "pass away" in AD70 in the sense that we HPers are no longer required to love God, our neighbor, and to till the garden. HP's can therefore be "Theonomists," though perhaps not "Bahnsenian Theonomists." Gentry's questions generate more emotion than analysis.  [return to Gentry]

Furthermore, there are numerous exegetical and theological problems I have with the hyper-preterist viewpoint. I deem my historic, orthodox preterism to be exegetical preterism (because I find specific passages calling for specific preterist events); I deem Max King and Ed Steven's views to be theological preterism or comprehensive preterism (they apply exegetical conclusions drawn from several eschatological passages to all eschatological passages, because of their theological paradigm). Let me quickly list some of my present objections; hopefully I will later find time to sit down and work on this whole issue (since dispensationalism is in such radical transition and I have a ministry toward dispensationalists, I have tended to focus any spare time I can afford on dispensationalism). Q.: Is HPism based on exegesis or a theological paradigm?

A. Both, as is all theology. The reason why we experience a "paradigm shift" is that the older paradigm is unable to explain all the facts; the new paradigm is able to offer a satisfactory explanation. All of our paradigms are marred by our egotism and sin and are therefore subject to a future "paradigm shift."

The nice thing about a good paradigm is that it explains facts which were previously a mystery to us. What makes HPism so attractive to many is that it offers a coherent, satisfactory explanation to previously-unexplained facts. The NT texts foretelling an imminent Second Coming were troublesome to many, including 19th century liberals, who found in those texts evidence of a fallible Christ and an errant Scripture. The liberal attack ("modernism") had a profound effect on the Church, resulting in Fundamentalism and its mutant descendants, such as Dispensationalism. The Church has still not recovered. Futurism has been a disaster. Full acceptance of dominion-oriented worldviews may be waiting for the consistent Preterist Paradigm.

Creedal Failure

First, hyper-preterism is heterodox. It is outside of the creedal orthodoxy of Christianity. No creed allows any Second Advent in A.D. 70. No creed allows any other type of resurrection than a bodily one. Historic creeds speak of the universal, personal judgment of all men, not of a representative judgment in A.D. 70. It would be most remarkable if the entire church that came through A.D. 70 missed the proper understanding of the eschaton and did not realize its members had been resurrected! And that the next generations had not inkling of the great transformation that took place! Has the entire Christian church missed the basic contours of Christian eschatology for its first 1900 years?

It is noteworthy that the argument from human creeds is Gentry's first argument. Most of Gentry's article is, in fact, a "paradigmatic" approach. No one who has worked through Russell's The Parousia and undergone a "paradigm shift" will return to Gentry's paradigm. Gentry's article is designed to keep those who have not experienced a "paradigm shift" from looking at Biblical data in a way that will prompt such a change. I find this obscurantism most objectionable.

Consider the approach to Luke 20:25. I must confess this verse strains my paradigm. But Gentry is disingenuous if he presents his paradigm as somehow unchallenged by this passage:

25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.
26 And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?
27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.
(Mark 12)

Gentry wants to emphasize the "tangible, physical" nature of the resurrected body, yet angels (v.25) are not easily described in this way. Further, Jesus proves the Biblical doctrine of the Resurrection by appealing to Moses, in a way which (by Gentry's logic) proves that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had already been "resurrected." Yet the resurrection Gentry defends is yet future. This passage strains both paradigms. But Gentry will not admit the difficulties on his side. It is as if he argues, "The HP paradigm is wrong because of part A of this passage, but my paradigm is correct in spite of part B." On balance, I am satisfied that the HP paradigm accounts for more verses than the traditional paradigm.  [return to "paradigm" in Gentry's Intro]  [return to Gentry's point "Seventh"]

Q. Is "hyper-preterism" heterodox?

A. Historically, yes; Scripturally, no. There was a time when Hitler and Mussolini were socially-accepted "scientific" reformers, who "made the trains run on time." Those who opposed them were subsequently referred to as "premature anti-fascists" (a bizarre term, implying that there is a time when it is genuinely inappropriate to oppose fascism). When the concept of a future physical return of Christ is shown to be without Scriptural support, those HP'ers who today oppose the doctrine may be called "premature anti-adventists," or something like that.

Unfortunately, "orthodoxy" is often defined by democratic vote, rather than Scripture. [And, too often, not a vote among all believers, but only among those who, because of the respect they had by virtue of their high rank in the hierarchy of the Roman Empire, were quickly promoted to positions of authority in the ecclesiastical hierarchy.]

Credal orthodoxy serves the valid purpose of making one slow down when challenging a well-established doctrine, even when the challenge comes from Scripture. Eschatology, however, is the least well-established doctrine in the creeds, and has never been fully debated. Even the Apostles at first entertained a form of premillennialism, and too many converts from pagan Rome brought a premillennialist interpretation to Scripture and put it in the creeds.

This is a phenomenon which began as soon as Imperial theologians began entering the church, as Van Til has shown (see his book, A Christian Theory of Knowledge, esp. ch. iv. "The Church Fathers," and ch. v, "From Sovereign Grace to Synergism"). We need a book which discusses the eschatology of the church fathers in the same way Van Til discusses "Christian" philosophy. (We also need a book which discusses Roman Law and Roman politics in the same way Van Til discusses Roman ["Catholic"] theology.)  [return to Gentry]

Q. Has the entire Christian church missed the basic contours of Christian eschatology for its first 1900 years?

A. This sounds like such a rhetorically-decisive question. Who are these HP nuts to go against 1900 years of church history?

But isn't it true that the answer to this question is YES? The basic contour of mainstream eschatology has been waiting around for the Second Coming. Oh, sure, be "watchful," and "take time to be holy," but Christianize the planet, including all civil governments? When was the term "postmillennialist" even coined? Why is it still controversial?

But if a day is to the Lord as a thousand years, then the church is only finishing its second day of history. How many Reconstructionists who were converted to Christianity under premillennialist ministries had their theology all worked out after only two days of new birth? Two years? Even if the church's future is limited to another 10,000 years (cf. Gentry, HSHD, p. 336) the church is still in her adolescence. The time is appropriate not for shutting off eschatological debate, but for inaugurating it.

Consider a couple of examples of how the "universally accepted" doctrines of "catholic orthodoxy" can be mistaken.

Question 56 of the Westminster Larger Catechism asks,

Q.: How is Christ to be exalted in His coming again to judge the world?

and answers in part,

[He] shall come again at the last day in great power.

The proof text is Matthew 24:30, universally recognized among Reconstructionist scholars as referring to events in AD 70. "Orthodoxy" clearly blew it. Am I "outside the faith" if I refuse to believe a teaching which is clearly erroneous?
The Bible does not teach this. This is a mistake. This reflects a premillennial, not a preterist, hermeneutic.

"Catholic orthodoxy" has long been tarnished by this premillennial hermeneutic. Eventually the Church is going to have to re-write her creeds, purging them of this premillennial hermeneutic and crafting them into explicitly optimistic/preterist/dominionist confessions.

IMHO the basic problem with the premillennial approach is that its view of the Kingdom is that of a militaristic, socialistic, top-down hierarchy. It views Christ's work at His first coming to have been something of a failure, a "Plan B" as it were, with Christ returning again to implement Plan A. A decentralized Kingdom sociology — which is what I learned from Rushdoony and the Reconstructionists — does not require a "second coming."

The "Ecumenical Creeds" reflect an immature premillennialist perspective. This failed paradigm, presently (but not unamendably) a part of "catholic orthodoxy," was evident in the First Pope, who resisted Christ's decentralized Kingdom of service, and justly earned Christ's searing rebuke: "Get thee behind Me, Satan; you value the things of man over the things of God."

Just as many Reconstructionists once believed that Matt 24:1-35 was speaking of a future "second coming," so the Church must grow out of this way of thinking. She must amend her creeds.

"Creed" comes from the Latin "credo," "I believe." What I believed 20 years ago is, Praise God, not what I believe today. I have matured. The Church is only completing her second day of history. The Church is still in her infancy. Those who question the very salvation of those who question the Creeds in terms of Scripture are engaged in a "Revolt Against Maturity."

Gary North writes,

"The heart of Luther's message, salvation through faith alone, necessarily challenged the sacerdotalism of his day, and it earned him excommunication. He had denied the mediatorial position of the priesthood as the sole agency for the dispensing of personal salvation to church members. In opposition to sacerdotalism, Luther preached that most protestant of doctrines, the priesthood of all believers.

"(Actually, this was not the most Protestant of doctrines. The one doctrine universally held in the seventeenth century by every Protestant church, from the highest of high church Anglicans to the wildest of the Anabaptist of Fifth Monarchy sects, was the identification of the papacy with the antichrist. This doctrine was inserted into the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter XXV, section 6, to the embarrassment of modern American Presbyterians, who have seen fit to footnote this passage into oblivion, and quite properly so. However, it is interesting to witness the most orthodox of Presbyterians drop the one doctrine which was the touchstone of Protestant orthodoxy from Luther's day until about 1930. At least they set a most-needed precedent, namely, confessional revision of even the most universally accepted traditions of Protestantism. They recognized that the presence in the Confession of unsubstantiated human opinion, in contrast to clearly revealed biblical truth, should not be tolerated, once men realize that the traditional opinion is incorrect. It is a precedent that should be honored.)"

Gary North, "Family Authority vs. Protestant Sacerdotalism," Journal of Christian Reconstruction. IV:2:87 (Winter 77-78)

We can and must criticize the creeds when they are not Biblical, even if they are "universally accepted."  [return to Gentry]

Second, hyper-preterism has serious implications for the perspicuity of Scripture. This viewpoint not only has implications for the later creeds, but for the instructional abilities of the apostles: no one in church history knew the major issues of which they spoke - until very recently! Are the Scriptures that impenetrable on an issue of that significance? Clement of Rome lived through A.D. 70 and had no idea he was resurrected! He continued to look for a physical resurrection (Clement 50:3). Jude's (supposed) grandsons still sought a physical resurrection (cf. Eusebius, EH 3:24:4). Whoever these men were, they come right out of the first generation and in the land of Israel - with absolutely no inkling of an A.D. 70 resurrection or a past Second Advent. See also the Didache 10:5; 16:1ff (first century); Ignatius, Trallians 9:2; Smyrnaens 2:1; 6:1; Letter to Polycarp 3:2 (early second century); Polycarp 2:1; 6:2; 7:1. See also Papias, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr. Q. Didn't the Apostles believe in a future Second Coming?

A. Maybe; were they right in so believing? Was Peter right in looking for Christ to be crowned a king in Jerusalem (Matt 16:23, cf. Luke 24:21), and in refusing to eat with Gentiles (Gal 2:11)? Did Peter believe that the planet was soon going to be destroyed (2 Peter 3)? Was he right? Is it possible that the Holy Spirit inScriptured Peter's words even though the Spirit intended something different than Peter did? Did Isaiah give a sign to Ahaz, or to those living seven centuries later (Matt 1:23, Is 7)? Did Isaiah have in mind what Matthew did?

There were many church fathers who were waiting for Jesus to set up a militaristic kingdom at His Second Coming. Their concept of "the Kingdom" was Jewish, not Christian. Their concept of "Law and Society" was Roman, not Hebrew (Theonomic). To cite the names of all such Church Fathers who lived through and after AD70 and still believed in a future Second Coming proves very little. Their unScriptural concept of the Kingdom undergirds an equally unScriptural eschatology.

This is an area where further research and debate — not dogmatism — is appropriate.  [return to Gentry]

Berkouwer rightly notes that the reason the resurrection found early creedal acceptance was because of the clear emphasis of the New Testament. The hyper-preterist view has serious and embarrassing implications for the perspicuity of Scripture - and despite the fact we are now (supposedly) in our resurrected states and have the outpoured Holy Spirit and His gift of teachers who were to protect us from every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4)!

Third, the hyper-preterist system leaves the New Covenant Christian (in our post A.D. 70 era) without a canon. If all prophecy was fulfilled prior to A.D. 70 and if the entire New Testament spoke to issues in the pre-A.D. 70 time frame, we do not have any directly relevant passages for us. The entire New Testament must be transposed before we can use it.

Q. Doesn't the HP paradigm relegate all Scripture to the pre-AD70 period.

A. Yeah . . . which paradigm doesn't? Isn't it a fact that Paul wrote Ephesians to a group of Christians living in the Mideast 1900 years ago, and not to us? Which part of Scripture was written to Christians living in North America at the end of the second millennium AD? What relevance does Matthew 24:1-35 have to us in the late 20th century? The fact that the individual components of the Canon were not directly addressed to us does not mean that Scripture is not relevant or applicable to us living today. (See discussion above.) [return to Gentry]

Hermeneutic Failure

Fourth, hyper-preterism suffers from serious errors in its hermeneutical methodology. When a contextually defined passage applies to the A.D. 70 event, the hyper-preterist will take all passages with similar language and apply them to A.D. 70, as well. But similarity does not imply identity; Christ cleansed the Temple twice and in virtually identical ways; but the two events are not the same. Furthermore, we must distinguish sense and referent; there are several types of "resurrection" in Scripture: the dry bones of Eze. 37; spiritual redemption in John 5:24; physical redemption at the grave in John 5:28; Israel's renewal in Christ in Rom. 11:15; and of the Beast in Rev. 13:3. I hold that passages specifically delimiting the time-frame by temporal indicators (such as "this generation," "shortly," "at hand," "near," and similar wording) are to be applied to A.D. 70, but similar sounding passages may or may not be so applied.

Q. Shouldn't we regard as fulfilled only those prophecies that are explicitly referred to AD70 in the context?

A. That sounds good, but how wide is the "context"? Sometimes Jesus refers to His coming without a reference to time (John 21:22). I can't speak for all HP's, but I don't have a big problem with this paragraph of Gentry's article. We just apply different meanings to the word "context."  [return to Gentry] | [return to "Resurrection Errors"]

Resurrection Errors

Fifth, there is a serious problem with the removal of the physical resurrection from systematic theology. Christ's resurrection is expressly declared to be the paradigm of our own (1 Cor. 15:20ff). Yet we know that His was a physical, tangible resurrection (Luke 24:39), whereas ours is (supposedly) spiritual. What happens to the biblically defined analogy between Christ's resurrection and ours in the hyper-preterist system?

Q. Didn't Jesus have a "tangible, physical" resurrection body?

A. I honestly don't know what kind of post-resurrection body Jesus had. Perhaps we should "search the Scriptures" (Acts 17:11). Consider the following: Luke 24:31,37,51; John 20:19,26; 21:4. Will our resurrection bodies look exactly like Jesus' (Rev. 1:14-16)? These are not passages which justify dogmatism and excommunication. The only thing I know is that for many centuries the church has held that a number of passages of Scripture waited for a future fulfillment, and I believe we are discovering that they have already been or are now being fulfilled.  [return to Gentry]

Q. What happens to the biblically defined analogy between Christ's resurrection and ours in the hyper-preterist system?

A. Lots of writing has been churned out by HPs on this analogy. But it sounds like Gentry is making more than an analogy; his is an equation. His argument against the HPs is simply the bare rhetorical assertion that in the HP system there is no analogy between Christ's resurrection and ours. Max King's big book would surely have been a lot shorter if there were no analogy!  [return to Gentry]

Sixth, there are numerous other theological and exegetical problems with a spiritual-only resurrection. For one thing, the hyper-preterist view tends to diminish the significance of the somatic implications of sin: Adam's sin had physical effects, as well as judicial and spiritual effects; where are these taken care of in the hyper-preterist system? Death's implications are not just judicial and spiritual, but also physical (Gen. 3:14, 19; Rom. 6:23). If Christians now are fulfilling the resurrection expectation of Scripture, then the gnostics of the early Christian centuries were correct! The physical world seems to be superfluous, in the hyper-preterist viewpoint. The anthropology of hyper-preterism is defective in this, not allowing the theological significance of the body/soul nature of man (Gen. 2:7). This can also have implications for the person of Christ and the reality of His humanity. Q. The physical world seems to be superfluous, in the hyper-preterist viewpoint.

A. I don't understand this argument. The effect of the HP framework in my own life has been to give me a radically new appreciation for the present age and has inspired me to take dominion over this physical world with greater appreciation for its place in the plan of God. I have come to shift my emphasis to this present age — in all its physicalness — from the pie-in-the-sky harp-plucking cloud-bouncing postponement theology which makes this present age a parenthesis before the REAL millennium is ushered in at the Second Coming. And I'm talking about non-HP postmillennialism, not premillennialism. Gentry's argument should not keep one from investigating the claims of the HPs that there is no prophesied future Second Coming of Christ.  [return to Gentry]

Seventh, regarding the teaching of Christ and the Apostles, we must wonder why Paul was mocked by the Greeks in Acts 17 for believing in the resurrection, if it were not a physical reality. We must wonder why Paul aligned himself with the Pharisees on the issue of the resurrection (Acts 23:6-9; 24:15, 21). We must wonder why we Christians still marry and are given in marriage, since Christ said in the resurrection we will not marry (Luke 20:35). We must wonder why the apostles never corrected the widespread notion of a physical resurrection, which was so current in Judaism (cf Josephus, Talmud, etc.). We must wonder why we "resurrected" Christians must yet die; why should we not leave this world like Enoch and Elijah? Furthermore, where and what is the resurrection of the lost (John 5; Rev. 20)? Paul considered Hymeneaus and Philetus as having made ship-wreck men's faith by saying the resurrection is past (2 Tim. 2:17-18). A wrong view of the resurrection is a serious matter to Paul.

Eighth, practically I wonder on the hyper-preterist view what the difference our resurrection makes in this life? We get ill and are weak on the same scale as those prior to the A.D. 70 resurrection. Did this glorious resurrection of the "spiritual body" have no impact on our present condition? A hyper-preterist analysis might leave us to expect that Paul looked to A.D. 70 as an agent of relief from the groanings and the temptations of the flesh (Rom. 7:25), yet we still have such - despite the supposed resurrection.

Christology Implications

Ninth, Acts 1 clearly defines Christ's Second Advent in terms of His ascension, which was physical and visible. For example, in Acts 1:8-11 Luke is careful to say the disciples were "beholding" Him as He ascended; He was received "from the eyes of them" (v. 9b); they were "gazing" as He was "going" (v. 10); they were "looking" (v. 11); they "beheld" (v. 11). Clearly His ascension was a visible and glorious phenomenon involving His tangible resurrected body. And there was an actual visible cloud associated with it (v. 10). The angelic messengers resolutely declare "this same Jesus" (i.e., the Jesus they knew for over three years, who is now in a tangible resurrected body) will "so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (v. 11). The Greek on tropon literally means "what manner." The Greek phrase "never indicates mere certainty or vague resemblance; but wherever it occurs in the New Testament, denotes identity of mode or manner" (A. Alexander, Acts, ad loc.). Consequently, we have express biblical warrant to expect a visible, bodily, glorious return of Christ paralleling in kind the ascension. The hyper-preterist position goes contrary to this clear teaching of Scripture.

Tenth, if A.D. 70 ends the Messianic reign of Christ (cf. hyper-preterist view of 1 Cor. 15:24, 28), then the glorious Messianic era prophesied throughout the Old Testament is reduced to a forty year inter-regnum. Whereas by all accounts it is a lengthy, glorious era. A problem with premillennialism is that it reduces Christ's reign to 1000 literal years; hyper-preterism reduces it further to forty years! The prophetical expressions of the kingdom tend to speak of an enormous period of time, even employing terms that are frequently used of eternity. Does Christ's kingdom parallel David's so that it only lasts for the same time frame?

History and Church Errors

Eleventh, hyper-preterists eternalize time, by allowing history to continue forever. This not only goes against express statements of Scripture, but also has God dealing with a universe in which sin will dwell forever and ever and ever. There is no final conclusion to the matter of man's rebellion; there is no final reckoning with sin. Christ tells us that the judgment will be against rebels in their bodies, not spiritual bodies (Matt. 10:28). The hyper-preterist system does not reach back far enough (to the Fall and the curse on the physical world) to be able to understand the significance of redemption as it moves to a final, conclusive consummation, ridding the cursed world of sin. The full failure of the First Adam must be overcome by the full success of the Second Adam.

Q. Don't these texts disprove the HP theory:

A. Paul claimed that Christ rose from the dead. The Greeks mocked the idea. I don't see anything in Paul's discourse that clearly refutes the HP theory that there was a resurrection soon after this discourse.  [return to Gentry]

A. In Paul's day, two heretics were teaching that the resurrection was past. Paul was teaching that it was future. HPs agree that in Paul's day it was future. Problem?  [return to Gentry]

A. When Paul uses the term "flesh" in this context, he is not speaking of our physical bodies. This is not neo-platonic. He is speaking of our old nature.  [return to Gentry]

A. The typical concept of the Second Coming is a majestic return of a conquering King — visible to the entire nuclear war-devastated world — of the physical, resurrected body of Christ, coming with the spectacular if not blinding glory of millions of glorified saints and glorious angels. In Acts 1, a passing-through-the-walls Jesus slips almost unnoticed into the clouds (cf. Luke 24:51), witnessed by a disoriented handful of disciples. Excuse me for not seeing the striking parallel.

And excuse me for thinking that Gentry is a bit overstating the case when he says, "The hyper-preterist position goes contrary to this clear teaching of Scripture." "Clear?" Eschatology is probably the least clear of all the loci of systematic theology, probably because it has never been subject to ecumenical debate.  [return to Gentry]

A. Gentry is somewhat inaccurate in his criticism, yet also unwittingly accurate. When Jesus accomplished His work, he turned the Kingdom over to His Father. Thus Jesus' work in "the last days" was an "inter-regnum," as Gentry puts it, that is, a period between two reigns (two "worlds"), the Old and the New. We live in the New. The OT describes what life in this age would be like; is Gentry postponing those prophecies till after the Second Coming?  [return to Gentry]

A. Gentry writes, "Christ tells us that the judgment will be against rebels in their bodies, not spiritual bodies (Matt. 10:28)." HP's agree that the destruction of Jerusalem was a physical judgment. There was a "body count" when it was over.  [return to Gentry]

Twelfth, hyper-preterism has serious negative implications for ecclesiastical labor. Is the Great Commission delimited to the pre-A.D. 70 era, due to the interpretation of "the end" by hyper-preterists (Matt. 28:20)? Is the Lord's Supper superfluous today, having been fulfilled in Christ's (alleged) Second Advent in A.D. 70 (1 Cor. 11:26)? Q. Is the Great Commission limited to the pre-A.D. 70 era, due to the interpretation of "the end" by hyper-preterists (Matt. 28:20)?

A. Yes. However, the Dominion Mandate (Gen 1:26-28) is still in effect. Everything that Gentry is afraid HP's will neglect by relegating "The Great Commission" to the "inter-regnum" period (i.e., the "last days" of the OT) may "by good and necessary consequence be deduced" from other Scriptures. There is just as much for Christians to do in an HP framework as there is under the traditional framework. This argument is an emotion-manipulating straw man.  [return to Gentry]

Q. Is the Lord's Supper superfluous today, having been fulfilled in Christ's (alleged) Second Advent in A.D. 70 (1 Cor. 11:26)?

A. I believe so, but that's another whole web page. (!) This argument is also designed to shut off debate before it happens. It presupposes an ecclesiology which IMHO should be debated.  [return to Gentry]


It's better to be attacked than ignored. Please write me. Kevin4VFT@aol.com

Patriarchy and Preterism: A New Reconstructionist Paradigm

The Vine & Fig Tree Home Page


Vine & Fig Tree
12314 Palm Dr. #107
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
[V&FT Home Page]