Saturday , July 22 2017
Breaking News
You are here: Home / Michael Sullivan / A FULL PRETERIST RESPONSE TO GARY DEMAR’S ARTICLE “ANTI-POSTMILLENNIALIST MAKES WEAK CASE” – ARE POSTMILLENNIALISTS WINNING THE DEBATE ON ESCHATOLOGY WHEN THEY STEAL OUR AD 30 – AD 70 JUDGMENT AND RESURRECTION OF THE LIVING AND DEAD VIEW?!?

A FULL PRETERIST RESPONSE TO GARY DEMAR’S ARTICLE “ANTI-POSTMILLENNIALIST MAKES WEAK CASE” – ARE POSTMILLENNIALISTS WINNING THE DEBATE ON ESCHATOLOGY WHEN THEY STEAL OUR AD 30 – AD 70 JUDGMENT AND RESURRECTION OF THE LIVING AND DEAD VIEW?!?

I have been a full preterist now for well over 20 years and have been following Gary DeMar and American Vision’s (AV) writings the entire time.  And there is nothing more upsetting to me than to watch DeMar and AV make these kind of claims:

  • DeMar and his postmillennial partial preterist colleagues are allegedly winning the debate on eschatology.
  • Full preterism is “heretical” but won’t accept that according to the bible and reformed theology their theonomic postmillennialism should be considered “heretical” and a “Jewish dream.”
  • No one (including amillennialists or full preterists) apparently do any exegetical work except what Gary or AV is producing on bible prophecy (and or their postmillennial partial preterist affiliates), paralleling Matthew 24-25 with other NT eschatological texts.
  • Gary continues to deny that his teachings and that of AV are leading people to full preterism.

In this article I want to challenge these claims while also interacting with DeMar’s recent response to amillennialist David Engelsma, Anti-Postmillennialist Makes Weak Case.[1] Unfortunately I’m not sure either Engelsma nor DeMar are prepared to accept that full preterism is the organic development of both of their views or is the “x factor” so to speak which bridges the gap between their conflict, but I can at least throw it out there for them and the public to weigh in on.  But since full preterism bridges the gap between Engelsma’s amillennialism and Gary’s postmillennial partial preterism, full preterism is the view which is winning the debate over eschatology and will continue to do so.  Now let’s counter Gary’s claims and provide the evidence that we are winning the historical and exegetical debate.

Is Gary DeMar and American Vision “winning the prophecy debate”?!?  Do their views lead to full preterism?

Gary writes,

“Over the weekend I spoke at a conference on postmillennialism in Torrance, California, on the topic, “Evidence that Postmillennialists are Winning the Prophecy Debate.”[2]

Let’s review a little bit on full preterism being present in this debate.  In 1998 partial preterist R.C. Sproul produced the following chart trying to make a definite distinction between partial and full preterism:[3]

Full Preterists

Partial Preterists

A.D. 70

At the end of history

A.D. 70

At the end of history

Coming   (parousia) of Christ

Yes

No

Yes

yes

Resurrection   and rapture

Yes

No

No

yes

Day   of the Lord

Yes

No

Yes

yes

Judgment

Yes

No

Yes

yes

The problem with Sproul’s chart is that it demonstrates a lack of knowledge on what some partial preterists have taught (past and present) and is very outdated not showing all of the ground that men like Gary DeMar have given to full preterism.  As I document in chapter four of House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be? — is that there are many more doctrinal agreements between progressive partial preterists and full preterists than they want to share with the public in this debate:

Full Preterists

Partial Preterists

A.D. 70

At the end of history

A.D.   70

At the end of history

NT use of “last days” from old   covenant to new AD 30 – AD 70 only – not end of Christian age

Yes

No

yes[4]

yes & no

“This age” = old covenant age “age to   come” = new covenant age transformed in AD 70

Yes

No

yes[5]

yes & no

United Matt. 24-25 one parousia in AD   70

Yes

No

yes[6]

yes & no

Resurrection and judgment of living   and dead between AD 30 – AD 70

Yes

No

yes[7]

yes

Glorification in Rom. 8:18-23 YLT   “about to be revealed”

Yes

No

yes[8]

yes & no

2 Peter 3 fulfilled

Yes

No

yes[9]

yes & no

“All Israel” in Rom. 11:26 saved

Yes

No

yes[10]

yes & no

Acts 1:11

Yes

No

yes[11]

yes & no

Hebrews 9:26-28 Second Appearing of   Christ at end of the age

Yes

No

yes[12]

yes & no

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 “rapture”

Yes

No

yes[13]

yes & no

Perhaps the most significant change is that DeMar and American Vision authors and associates have oddly enough stolen the full preterist view of the judgment and resurrection of the living and dead and are now accepting that this was a progressive, corporate, covenantal, process between AD 30 – AD 70 resulting in the souls of the righteous being raised out of Hades or Abraham’s Bosom at Christ’s parousia in AD 70 to inherit the kingdom and eternal life.[14]

Now I have charged that Gary and AV have “stolen” full preterist views without giving credit where credit is due.  So let me continue applying the measure in which Gary has judged others eschatology and writings with that of his and AV.  In HOUSE DIVIDED THE BREAK-UP OF DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY pages 367-370, DeMar makes Hal Lindsey look stupid and charges him as being “fraudulent” with his “sloppy scholarship” charging that he stole what he wrote from others and didn’t do his own research (pp.367-370).

Well since Gary North (AV) has written this:  “Anyone who equates the fulfillment of [the parable of the wheat and tares] with A.D. 70 has broken with the historic faith of the church”  and  DeMar publishes McDurmon and has a co-author (Peter Leithart) who has also gone into print taking a preterist view of this passage ——-WHERE DID THEY COME UP WITH IT, IF IT CANNOT BE FOUND WITHIN “…THE HISTORIC FAITH OF THE CHURCH?!?”  Did they not get it from full preterism and were they afraid to cite their references and or research because it would once again demonstrate how DeMar and AV writings lead their readers to full preterism (something they continue to blindly deny)?

DeMar also publishes James Jordan’s commentary on Daniel.  Will Gary please provide one early church father, creed, or confession which takes the judgment and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-4, 13/Revelation 20 as fulfilled in AD 70 – in any way?  Where can the view which states Daniel’s soul was raised out of Hades or Abraham’s Bosom at Christ’s parousia in AD 70 be found within church history — if not within full preterism??? 

*  Now isn’t it amazing how I have been after Gary DeMar for over 20 years (as others have) on Daniel 12:2-3/Matthew 13:39-43 asking questions which he  couldn’t and wouldn’t answer —– and yet now our views are showing up in books HE PUBLISHES.  Wow the pure arrogance.  And he wants to charge others as being “fraudulent,” and not citing where they get their research and views from?!?

So I think any objective reader can see how DeMar (and partial preterism in general) is not only losing the debate with full preterists, they are in fact needing to steal some of our views to try and work out the consistent implications of what the NT teaches on imminence.  Giving so much ground and crucial eschatological texts to us doesn’t sound like they are “winning” to me – does it to you?

The other issue here is that it is impossible for either of these futuristic views of Englesma (amillennialism) or DeMar (postmillennial partial preterism) to claim they are winning the battle over bible prophecy when in fact they actually form full preterism!  As I wrote in the second edition of HD:

1)     “Partial Preterism – Imminence and fulfillment are accepted.  Christ appeared a second time at the end of the old covenant age.  There was a spiritual, corporate, covenantal judgment and resurrection of the living and dead which was attended by a passing of the old creation and arrival of the new in AD 70 (Dan. 12:1-4; Matt. 5:17-18; 13:39-43, 24-25; Acts 1:11; Rom. 8:18; 13:11-12; Heb. 8:13; 9:26-28; 10:37; 1 Peter 4:5-7; 2 Peter 3; Rev. 1-22).

2)     Classic Amillennialism – The New Testament teaches only one future coming of Christ, general judgment, and resurrection of the living and dead attended by the restoration of creation at the end of the age.

How can these things be indeed? The only way both of these propositions can be true at the same time is if full preterism is true.

Amillennialism is correct that there is only one future coming of Christ in the New Testament.  And partial preterism is correct that the future coming of Christ in the New Testament was fulfilled in AD 70. Thus “orthodoxy” teaches us that the one Second Coming of 1 Thessalonians 4-5 is the same coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25, and that it was fulfilled in AD 70. But since futurism errs on the nature of the resurrection, assuming it is biological and at the end of time, futurists are forced into an either/or dillema, when the truth is both/and.”

I think one can see the problem that the authors of WSTTB are sweeping under the rug when they speak of their “shoulder-to-shoulder” unity.  The choice is simple. Either one continues propagating the myth that these two propositions within the futurist paradigm do not lead to a contradiction, or one accepts the organic development of full preterism which unites them.”[15]

We will examine more of these “contradictions” between Englesma’s amillennialism and DeMar’s postmillennial partial preterism below. 

DeMar Complains about Romanist arguments being used against him: 

DeMar goes on,

“Englesma spends more time on the creeds and confessions than he does on Scripture. Instead of offering a detailed counter exegesis to a preterist interpretation of Matthew 24, he assumes, like dispensationalists, that it is a prophetic description of end-time events: “This interpretation of Matthew 24 is basic to the postmillennial denial of apostasy, Antichrist, and great tribulation for the church in the future,” he writes. “For in the light of this explanation of Matthew 24, the postmillennialist goes through the entire New Testament rigorously applying all prediction of such things to the destruction of Jerusalem.” When a prophetic passage is about a soon coming judgment, then yes, the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem is in view, and Prof. Engelsma doesn’t give any exegetical evidence to the contrary.

While I am impressed with creeds and confessions of the church, they are not equal to Scripture. The Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 31 says as much:

III. All synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.”[16]

And again,

“Prof. Engelsma is fond of quoting confessional statements while giving little regard to biblical exegesis in his article “Jewish Dreams” that appeared in the January 15, 1995 issue of The Standard Bearer. Have we become Romanists?[17]

Here is what the best and brightest of DeMar’s postmillennial partial preterism and Engelsma’s amillennialism brought against us in WSTTB and so let’s analyze what consumed the bulk of its content:

Recap of When Shall These Things Be?

For those who are familiar with how our critics usually respond to “hyper-preterism,” it should come as no surprise that a full 42% of the Mathison book was an appeal to the authority of the creeds, the authority of the church fathers, and the authority of historic, Mother Church (Gentry, Hill, and Wilson respectively).

The historicity of futurism is indeed an important and legitimate issue to discuss, but the prominence and place this issue is given by anti-preterists reveals the exegetical weakness of futurism.  When it comes to refuting preterism, futurists usually find it convenient to rid themselves of the nemesis of exegesis (cf. WSTTB, 118).  When they do employ exegesis, it is tendentious and often padded with rhetoric.  Doug Wilson is altogether mistaken when he says in his chapter that preterism is effectively refuted “simply on exegetical grounds” by one or more of his co-authors (258).

About 19% of WSTTB (less than half the space given to creedal issues) was dedicated to a broad, quasi-exegetical defense of the Resurrection of the Flesh (Strimple).

About 16% was dedicated to establishing the following two concepts:

  1. Ascertaining the true interpretation of the time texts of the New Testament has been a difficult and perplexing problem for centuries and the true interpretation remains an open question for debate.  There are many possible interpretations of the various time texts. (Mathison)
  2. A study of the time texts absolutely, positively, and finally disproves hyper-preterism once and for all. (Mathison)

About 11% of WSTTB was dedicated to the late date of the book of Revelation and to an idealist, soon-means-two-thousand-years-or-more interpretation (Kistemaker).

About 9% was dedicated to the unfortunate proposition that God Himself predicted, on three separate occasions, thousands of years ago, that the promised eschatological blessings would take place soon; but God’s predictions failed, and the eschatological blessings remain indefinitely delayed until further notice (Pratt).”[18]

Because partial preterist admissions are so devastating in any debate with full preterists, Kenneth Gentry (one of the guest speakers DeMar mentions in this article) was put in charge of regurgitating Roman Catholic “arguments” against us in WSTTB!  And AV associates and colleagues of DeMar such as Gentry and North are very active in trying to get full preterists put under church disciple for being in violation of the creeds etc… So it’s a little difficult for me to find a tear to cry for DeMar here.

But I do think one has a legitimate right to look at my chart above and the research I documented in HD, and ask how can all of these partial preterist doctrinal admissions and NT texts be fulfilled in AD 70 and yet at the same time these same texts and eschatological doctrines are applied in the reformed confessions and creeds as having a future fulfillment at the end of history or end of the Christian age?  It’s time for Gentry and DeMar’s Romanism to be legitimately applied to their partial preterist system – perhaps the measure of judgment they have been giving us should now be applied to them?  And why not?  These men can’t even get this right in their own house – Gary North (a contributor and speaker for AV) must condemn his own son-in-law Joel McDurmon for taking the parable of the wheat and tares as fulfilled in AD 70:

“Anyone who equates the fulfillment of [the parable of the wheat and tares] with A.D. 70 has broken with the historic faith of the church.”[19]

DeMar wrote,

“When a prophetic passage is about a soon coming judgment, then yes, the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem is in view…”

But what DeMar is hiding here is that the imminence in the NT, the “end of [the old covenant] age,” and or the “destruction of Jerusalem” in AD 70, is connected to the judgment and resurrection of the dead in such passages as Matthew 13:39-43; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24-25; Acts 17:31 YLT; Acts 24:15 YLT; Romans 8:18-23 YLT; Revelation 11, 7, 14, 20.  The fall of Jerusalem is not the only thing that is said to take place “shortly” — Satan’s final destruction is also stated to take place “shortly” (Romans 16:20/Genesis 3:15).  Interestingly enough, most of these passages that Gary says were fulfilled in AD 70 he also says cannot have multiple fulfillments – unless it deals with Satan or the judgment and resurrection of the living and dead apparently (ie. anything that violates the creeds of course).

Again, there is some irony on this issue of imminence and multiple fulfillments because in most places Gary won’t allow for it (such as in Matthew 24 and most of Revelation) and yet he sends Joel McDurmon from American Vision to debate Don Preston and all Joel did was have to admit that such judgment and resurrection passages such as John 5:28-29; 1 Corinthians 15; Revelation 20 “could” have been fulfilled in AD 70 but they point to a greater fulfillment at the end of time.  And yet Gary claims he and AV are winning the battle on eschatology and their views don’t lead to it?!?  If you are buying that I have a bridge to sell you.  Amazing.  If you are growing tired of the inconsistencies and hypocrisy of DeMar and American Vision when it comes to them trying to accept the imminence in the NT while at the same time pacify their creedal supporters and creedal critics – then you are not alone!

DeMar complains about his Postmillennial Theonomic “Jewish dreams” being exposed

For the record it is true that the early church creeds and confessions were primarily amillennial and did renounce premillennialism and thus similar hyper-literal postmillennial manifestations/fulfillments of the kingdom on earth to be “heretical” and on par with “Jewish dreams.”  That’s just a historical fact.  I would like Mr. DeMar to comment on if he thinks these Theonomic Postmillennial progressive type “Paradise Restored” “dreams” will come true in the future before Christ’s (third) coming takes place:

  • Will lion’s biology and anatomy change and eat straw instead of meat before the “final” eschatological manifestation/fulfillment to end world history?
  • Will the gospel manifest itself in scientific advances in genetics and cause men to live to be 900 years old again like they did in the early chapters of Genesis (AV Sam Frost)?
  • As all the nations of the world allegedly get Christianized, will unbelievers (and “heretics” not conforming to theonomic postmillennial covenant standards) be given three opportunities to repent before being stoned or shot – per the teachings of North or Talbot (also AV affiliates and supporters)?  If North and Talbot’s Postmillennial “Jewish dream” were manifest today, would AV North and Talbot give AV Joel McDurmon three opportunities to repent (because he does not believe the OT Sabbath is applicable today) before stoning and shooting this “heretic” being in violation of the covenant?