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An Open and Public Letter to Keith A. Mathison Editor of “When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism”

Dear Mr. Mathison,

 

I did want to formally respond to you concerning who actually “bears the burden” in this debate to respond and your communication with me as to why you have not responded let alone acknowledged that a full preterist response has been given to your book, When Shall These Things Be?  A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism vs. our Second Edition of House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?  I would also like to extend to you the opportunity for us to discuss our respected chapters/responses and these issues at Ligonier Academy and have the faculty and student body ask questions.

Who “bears the burden”? 

Curiously, your mentor R.C. Sproul wrote,

“Obviously the full preterists have no desire to deviate from Scripture.  They bear the burden in this controversy of showing that creedal orthodoxy has been wrong at crucial points of eschatological understanding.”[1]  (p. 157).

He likewise produced this insufficient (and now outdated) chart seeking to make a definite distinction between partial and full preterism:

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

My Response: 

The problem with Sproul’s chart is that it demonstrates a lack of knowledge on what some partial preterists have taught (past and present).  As I document in chapter four of HD, The Eschatolocial Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be?, is that there are many more doctrinal agreements between progressive partial preterists and full preterists than you men apparently 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[2]

yes & no

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

yes

No

yes[3]

yes & no

United Matt. 24-25 one parousia in AD   70

yes

No

yes[4]

yes & no

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

yes

No

yes[5]

yes

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

yes

No

yes[6]

yes & no

2 Peter 3 fulfilled

yes

No

yes[7]

yes & no

“All Israel” in Rom. 11:26 saved

yes

No

yes[8]

yes & no

Acts 1:11

yes

No

yes[9]

yes & no

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

yes

no

yes[10]

yes & no

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 “rapture”

yes

No

yes[11]

yes & no

Perhaps the most significant change is that your progressive partial preterist colleagues (in their attempts to overthrow full preterism) such as Gary DeMar, Kenneth Gentry, and James Jordan have oddly enough stolen the full preterist view of the judgment and resurrection of the living and dead and now accept 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.[12]  So your demonstration of continued and heightened confusion at this point only warrants more of a formal response to HD.

As I document in our book and as the chart above demonstrates – perhaps throughout church history (past and present) the “burden of proof” is no less upon the progressive partial preterists to demonstrate historically and exegetically that the judgment and resurrection of the dead took place in AD 70 than it is for the full preterist?  I think for you personally Keith, you might want to begin by demonstrating that the coming of the Son of Man with angles in Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24-25 is not descriptive of Jesus’ Second Coming (contrary to Luther, Calvin, the WCF, and full preterists).  And that these eschatological events are not the same “paralleled” events and thus form Paul’s eschatology on the Second Coming as is in 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 1 Corinthians (per the Reformation Study Bible of which you helped edit).  For men like Gentry, DeMar (AV publications), and Jordan, these men need to prove exegetically and historically, that there are two fulfillments of the judgment and resurrection of the living and dead (contrary to the creeds and confessions).

And perhaps the larger “burden of proof” which rests upon Sproul and reformed eschatology in general is my/our premise in HD that full preterism is actually the organic development (“reformed and always reforming”) of partial preterism and the classic amillennial views:

“It is more than difficult to understand how the authors of WSTTB can portray their historical positions as unified when between their two systems (partial preterism and amillennialism) two contradictory propositions emerge:

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.”[13]

This being the case, the reformed creeds need to be revised to fit a full preterist consistent, accurate, and exegetical approach to the Second Coming, judgment and resurrection of the living and dead, and arrival of the new creation.

Addressing your excuses

When I first sent out a copy of HD to you, you mentioned that it would take a while for you to read and then respond to my chapter/response.  This of course was five years ago sir and throughout that time I have sent you emails requesting when a response might be forthcoming.  Your reply has always been something like – “I don’t have time” or “it’s on the backburner” etc…  These excuses seem reasonable for maybe the first six months to a year.  Maybe two to three years might be stretching it a bit – but five years?  I would agree with one of your fellow partial preterists Gary North who has mentioned (in their debate with dispensationalists) that the side in the debate which stops responding to the other in print, has in essence lost the debate.  Are we at that point?  It sure seems like it to me.  And Mr. North where are you in this debate?  Very silent indeed.

There are of course other issues as well that are very telling.  As already mentioned, it is a stretch at this point for me or anyone else to take your five year delay seriously, but when we compound it by six other authors (Gentry Jr., Hill, Pratt Jr., Kistemaker, Wilson and Strimple) it becomes almost impossible to believe.  All seven authors of WSTTB? over the last five years are too busy to respond to our public response to them?  This reminds me of the many Arminian or dispensationalist Pastor’s, Bible College or seminary instructors that I ( and no doubt you) have encountered over the years that are always just “too busy” to respond to Calvinist or covenantal theology arguments/challenges to their views.  We both know why in most of these cases they are “too busy” to respond and I’m wondering at this point why that same conclusion shouldn’t be reached of you and your six co-authors?  Gentry has gone into print as teaching that when one examines old school dispensationalism in light of what progressive dispensationalists are teaching – there is nothing left of the dispensational system and to be more consistent progressives need to move into covenant theology.  You have stated similar things.  Perhaps these men don’t address your arguments because they can’t or are unwilling to accept what you are saying about their system is true and that at that point they would “have to count the cost” so to speak?  Perhaps this is what is taking place with you and your co-authors taking your time or simply your inability to respond to our formal response to your book?  Our book on virtually every page demonstrates how you and your co-authors actually form full preterism – not refutes it.  And it demonstrates that unless reformed eschatology embraces full preterism, its divided house is left to fall apart in the coming years at the feet of full preterism.

Your alliance with American Vision

Now granted you and Gentry have endorsed Sam Frost’s little pamphlet on why he left “full preterism” (which is a contradiction – see later below), but this is not in any way a response from you and Gentry or any of your co-authors in WSTTB.  Furthermore, unlike your five years and counting delay and denial, we began immediately refuting Frost’s many exegetical and logical blunders on public lists, articles, and now in the appendix section of this second edition of House Divided.  I heard that you told someone that you really didn’t even read much of his pamphlet.  Is this true and yet you endorsed it?

I will not produce the entire appendix here, but I will address Frost’s #1 reason/”argument” (if one can call it that) he gave as to why he allegedly thinks full preterism is false.  Since you have attached you name to this “argument” I will have some follow up questions for you.  But first our response on pages 239-242:

“Infinity

The first argument that came from the internet critics was, interestingly enough, an argument about infinity.  According to the argument, the kingdom of God’s elect cannot numerically increase forever in time and space, because that would mean there would be an infinitely increasing number of events and of saints, which God could never fully know, because God cannot possibly fully know a series that numerically increases into infinity.  Therefore, since God is unable to create a kingdom that lasts forever in time, it follows that the time-space continuum must come to an end, that the elect must one day stop being born, and that the kingdom must eventually end up existing in a state of “timelessness” wherein there are no series or sequences.  Full preterism must therefore be wrong.

Our response: 

The idea that God cannot “fully know” something if it lasts forever in time, because that would be too much for God to grasp, reduces Yahweh to the level of Zeus and Superman.  Whereas Zeus and Superman could not create or fully know a series that increases into an unending future, there is no biblical reason to think that Yahweh is limited in that way.

The internet critics who said that Yahweh can neither create nor grasp a series that infinitely increases in time and space, also said that Yahweh transcends time and space and is not bound by time and space. For some reason though, it did not occur to the internet critics that if Yahweh “transcends time and space” and is not bound by time and space (i.e., if He is above and beyond time and space), then He can certainly create and fully know a never-ending time-space universe and an ever-increasing kingdom.  As Augustine put it:

. . . The infinity of number . . . is . . . not incomprehensible [to God]. . . All infinity is in some ineffable way made finite to God. . . .  All infinity . . . is comprehensible by His knowledge. . . .  God . . . comprehends all incomprehensibles with so incomprehensible a comprehension, that though He willed always to make His later works novel and unlike what went before them, He [would ] produce them [with] foresight, [and] conceive them . . . by His eternal foreknowledge. (Augustine, The City of God, Book XII, Chapter 18, “Against Those Who Assert that Things that are Infinite Cannot Be Comprehended by the Knowledge of God”)

And as R.C. Sproul (Sr.) put it:

God can understand infinity, not because he operates on the basis of some kind of heavenly logic system, but because he himself is infinite.  He has an infinite perspective. (R. C. Sproul, Chosen by God, page 47) And as Isaiah (God) put it:

And He doth call His name . . . Father of Eternity. . . .  (Isa. 9:6,

YLT)

“Eternity” was defined by the internet critics as the “timeless state” into which the Earth will enter after the end of world history.  If “I AM” is the “Father” of the eternal/timeless state, and can therefore “fully know” it, then it is certainly not difficult or impossible for Him to create and fully know a state that is “below” the “eternal state,” i.e., a neverending time-space continuum.

One of the early attempts of the internet critics to explain how everlasting life can happen if God can’t grasp an ever-increasing series of events was the “continuous loop” argument:  We will not have an endless series of thoughts or actions in eternity, but will instead repeat the same finite number of actions and thoughts.   So infinity will not happen in eternity.

This cyclical view of eternity is more akin to Hinduism than Reformed Christianity.  But that was their argument.  The problem with it, of course, is that the 67th time you repeat an action would still be categorically different from the 1,067th time you repeat it.  The count of repetitions themselves would be an infinite series.  Or in argument form:

1)  If we continue to repeat the same event over and over in eternity there will be a 67th time we repeat it, a 1,067th time we repeat it, and a n+1 time we repeat it.

2)  n+1 represents an infinitely increasing series.

3)  Therefore even if the same events are repeated in eternity, there is still an infinite series of repetitions.

The final attempt to rescue their infinity argument was to claim that we become part of the “One” and do not have experiences or thoughts in eternity that can be counted.  The weakness of this response should be apparent.  It reduces the Christian promise of eternal life to a Buddhist promise of being “one with the universe.”

It may seem shocking that the primary attempt to refute preterism was to reduce God’s abilities and change eternity into an eventless, thoughtless state of existence.  The fact that the anti-preterists reduced God to a Zeus-like deity shows the desperation of their attempts to refute what they know in their hearts to be the teaching of Scripture. But what may be even more shocking is that Ken Gentry has actually expressed his agreement with the “infinity” argument proposed by the internet critics.  In fact, Ken Gentry, Keith Mathison, and Gary DeMar have all generally endorsed the, at times transparently wrong and dangerously erroneous, arguments of the internet critics.”

Mr. Mathison, do you concur with the quote we have used of your mentor Mr. Sproul Sr. or do you support and endorse such an anti-biblical and illogical “argument” as the one you have attached your name to?  Also I have another clarifying question for you (and I may be mistaken so this is why I ask), but I have heard that this Gordon Clark type “argument” or view Frost is using here was rejected by Van Till and others as not being Scriptural nor should it be considered as reformed.  Is this true?  If so, why would you and Gentry endorse it?

But I was also curious in why American Vision’s or Gary DeMar and Joel McDurmon would publish this little pamphlet.  First, DeMar takes the NT’s use of the “last/later days” to be from roughly AD 30 – AD 70 as we do.  Yet Frost in the pamphlet would refer to this as a full preterist “scheme.”  If the pamphlet can’t even persuade its publishers that they have fallen prey to “full preterist schemes” on something so simple as the NT’s teaching on the “last days,” how is it supposed to persuade us or anyone else?

And a curious note – American Vision publishes and promotes John L. Bray’s preterist book on Matthew 24 Fulfilled, and yet John L. Bray has written of our book, “I’ve not seen another book as strong as this defending the preterist position.”  Since DeMar promotes Bray and Bray promotes us, maybe DeMar needs to answer some of the challenges I and my co-authors have directed towards him in HD?

Although Frost backed out of a debate with Don Preston, in McDurmon’s debate with Preston, it turned out to be a total disaster for partial preterism and American Vision in general.  It’s been a while since I listened to it, but if I’m not mistaken he conceded that there “could” be an AD 70 fulfillment of such resurrection and judgment passages as John 5:28-28; 1 Cor. 15; and Rev. 20, but allegedly these passages also can teach there awaits a final and literal fulfillment.   That is an exegetical and hermeneutical nightmare to prove (two fulfillments that is – as I have addressed in HD and in articles from my www.fullpreterism.com).  This is truly an admission that “gave the farm away” to full preterism.  And yet you men are still in denial that your writings don’t lead people to full preterism – amazing!

After admitting in his writings that he believes that Jesus’ and Paul’s use of “this age” is the old covenant age and the “age to come” is the new covenant age arriving in AD 70, McDurmon oddly then wanted to argue that the resurrection of Luke 20:27-40 was a literal resurrection to take place at the end of time.  No, exegetically the resurrection takes place after the old covenant age “this age” gives way to those who “attain that [coming new covenant] age” (Luke 20:34-35).  After all American Vision authors have stated that there was a spiritual resurrection for the dead out from Hades or Abraham’s Bosom at the end of the old covenant age in AD 70.  So this begs the question as to why Jesus does not have that AD 70 (American Vision) resurrection in view here and in any NT resurrection passage.

Getting back to Frost.  There are many exegetical and logical problems with Frost’s little pamphlet that you and Gentry signed off on which are addressed in our book and therefore I refer you to them.  There are other issues that I have documented on my site where Sam told me that he wanted to teach in a reformed seminary but knew the only way he could do that would be to “compromise” what he knew the bible to be teaching on fulfillment.  In our first edition Frost wrote, “Gentry…fails to logically connect the dots,” because the creeds do not allow him to do so.  (One could also lose one’s job for connecting the dots.)” (HD, 228).  Then according to Frost’s statement and what has transpired shortly thereafter (ordination within Talbot’s made up reformed denomination, further employment with his seminary, etc…), perhaps he left what he knew the Bible was teaching on fulfillment in order to now find a creedal job?  If not why not?  When Frost approached us (after we were 98% done with HD) wanting to get into our book, David Green and myself drilled Sam for his flip flopping and desire to compromise in order to not “bite the hand that feeds” (his words) which were problems we and others had seen in him in the past.  He assured us that things had changed and that we could trust that he was stable.

It is difficult to even get past the title of Frost’s pamphlet.  It suggests that he left “Full Preterism.”  But after the first edition of HD was printed, we found out that Frost was trying to marry traditional postmillennial literal and futuristic “Paradise Restored” type fulfillments with full preterism.  We confronted Frost on this and that his views on Isiah 65 for example were not only unbiblical, but they did not fall under full preterism but were more akin to postmillennial partial preterisms teachings.  He was trying to say that as the gospel advances people and the creation will undergo radical changes such as men beginning to live to 900 years old again as they did in the early chapters of Genesis etc…  Apparently Frost was thinking (and as far as I know continues to think) that lions will one day in our future actually change biologically and eat straw and not meat.  The only difference now is that Sam believes this will take place before Christ’s (third) coming to consummate and glorify the planet earth, whereas before he was a confused partial preterist and had no NT coming to bring about “an end” or consummation to this literal and progressive fulfillment that was lacking beyond AD 70.  I challenged Frost that according to his postmillennial “Paradise Restored” type hermeneutic, if we too should be expecting 900 year old men to be walking around naked and unashamed before Christ’s (third) coming in the distant future – but Sam was apparently unavailable and too mad to answer the question.  Thus according to how Sam himself defines full preterism in his pamphlet  — proves he was never a “full preterist” to begin with!

However, even after leaving what he confusingly says was “full preterism” (for in reality again it was just another confusing version of partial preterism) he demonstrated that he was utterly lost and unstable.  At first Acts 24:15 YLT was referring to AD 70 then it wasn’t.  If I recall he said Romans 8:18 YLT could have a double type of fulfillment but couldn’t exegetically prove it.  Then he didn’t know for sure if there was one parousia in the NT (example even in 1 Cor. 15) that began in AD 70 and would culminate/manifest at the end of history or if there were two parousias – one in AD 70 and one at the end of time.  He still embraced and may continue to do so – that the millennium of Revelation 20 was fulfilled between AD 30 – AD 70.  Of course I would have loved to have added that admission to the chart above addressing partial preterist admissions to full preterism, but he continues to changes his views on key texts faster than we can read his previous ones, so I thought it may be wise to wait!  He is a good librarian and is capable of telling everyone what “some scholars believe about this and others that,” but that’s about it.  In fact that’s about all your approach was in WSTTB? Keith – pure and utter confusion.  His approach reflects your confusion and problems and therefore he is your problem now.  Were you and Gentry so desperate that you had to sign off on someone so new and unstable (out of a heretical cult per you) to do work you are too lazy to do?  Is that even scriptural to do?   And on that note of your confusion and that of reformed eschatology in general let me move on to my request to solve the problem not just document it.

Request for an open dialogue with you at Ligonier Academy to discuss our chapters or an opportunity to present full preterism as a theological movement

I want to review first your utter confusion in WSTTB? and then ask you if this is something your conscience feels good with and do you think students want to know about the plethora of confusing futurist views, or if their hearts are craving for what Jesus and the NT really teaches about “the time of the end” (not the end of time)?

“It is ironic that the title of Mathison’s book is When Shall These Things Be?  Not only is there no consensus among the authors as to the answer to that very question, but Mathison himself (the only author who attempts to answer the question) fails to arrive at an unequivocal and decisive answer.  Within a span of six pages (177–182), Mathison tacitly admits that the question is a problem for futurism, and offers seven or eight possible “solutions.”

If we were to apply Mathison’s method in eschatological matters to all other areas of life, we would be certain of nothing; we would all be postmodernists.  The truth would become unknowable.  Mathison himself, in his book The Shape of Sola Scriptura, teaches that “clear” and “firm scriptural proof for every article of faith” is a “necessity.” Yet in WSTTB, Mathison demonstrates with his plethora of “possible interpretations” that he lacks “clear” and “firm” scriptural proof either for futurism or against preterism.  Nevertheless, he feels at liberty to anathematize us for our preterist challenge to futurism (213).

Mathison claims that Christ died to leave the church, for 2,000 years and counting, in an “evil age.”  As my editor has said, “Joy to the world!”  Postmillennialists such as Marcellus Kik and Keith Mathison have produced not so much an Eschatology of Victory or An Eschatology of Hope, as a “sick” eschatology, because, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life” (Prov. 13:12).  Preterism will stand the test of time; and as godly men embrace it and teach it, it will bring healing to the “eschatological schizophrenia” of Mathison et al, and to the eschatological division within the church as a whole.”[14]

It is my sincere prayer and desire that after presenting such a confusing chapter and book for the reformed community to swallow and after five years of avoidance and apparent denial of our book’s existence, that at the very least we can sit down in front of faculty and students to discuss these issues.  Hopefully you and Ligonier Ministries are truly interested in “clear” and “firm” scriptural proof for every article of faith and not just interested in turning future Pastor’s into mini seminary instructors only capable of giving multitudes of futuristic interpretations of eschatological texts as they pass along your confusion to the layman?  Please allow me to speak to the faculty and students about full preterism as perhaps not just a theological movement (“heretical” or not), but what it truly is – the organic development of reformed eschatology.

Conclusion

Per your request I sent you an electronic version of the second edition of HD for you and your co-authors to read.  Please take the time to respond and encourage your co-authors to attempt some kind of response as well – if not in book form at least in a critical article posted in a theological journal or reputable web site. Again, if no written or printed response is forthcoming I will conclude with the kind of thinking that Gary North has provided for your movement in that the side which stops responding in print in the debate has then in reality lost the debate.  There is no response because a consistent and exegetical one cannot be given.  However, I appreciate the work that you, your co-authors and anti-full preterist associates have done thus far in demonstrating that the “one” Second Coming “THE [one] parousia” of Christ attended with the one judgment and resurrection of the dead took place spiritually and corporately from AD 30 – AD 70 at the end of the old covenant age resulting in the souls of saints being emptied out of Hades or Abraham’s Bosom to inherit the kingdom and eternal life.  Keep up the good work.

In Christ,

Michael J. Sullivan

Keith Mathison’s (2-11-14) response to my letter (2-10-14):

The context of Mathison’s reply was to my public letter directed towards him individually and also questions I had for him regarding my recent response to an article Gary DeMar has written entitled, Anti-Postmillennialist Makes Weak Case.  I was seeking an explanation of how partial preterists over the last 7 years or so can steal the full preterist view of the judgment and resurrection of the living and dead (between AD 30 – AD 70) and yet at the same time claim we are heretics or that somehow they allegedly are still winning the debate on eschatology with their views not leading to full preterism?

Mathison’s response:

“I haven’t read DeMar (or anybody else) on the subject of preterism in years, so I’m not up to speed on what he has said or is saying. I know I can’t explain it to you in a way that you’ll understand, but from my perspective, all the years I spent reading and writing and talking and emailing about preterism were completely wasted time, and I just don’t feel like spending any more time on it.”

My response:

Although his response is disappointing on many levels, at least after five years of emailing him for a response to my chapter – it appears I finally got it.  Let me now respond:

First, it is difficult to understand how studying the climax of redemptive history as contained in the pages of Scripture can be considered “wasted time.”  Mathison wrote a book entitled, Postmillennialism An Eschatology of Hope.  Now the study of the Christian’s “hope” today — be it future or realized today in the Christian new covenant age (cf. Proverbs 13:12), is most assuredly not “wasted time” spent!

Secondly, there seems to be a hint here of what I have called in the past “false piety”/”hyper-spiritual”/”I’m more spiritual than you” type of trying to quietly slip out the back door so speak going on here.  Let me explain.  Over the years at Calvary Chapel (and Calvary Chapel Bible College) and Grace Community (and The Master’s College) in my discussions and fellowship with believers and in my interactions with fellow students and professors regarding either the doctrines of grace vs. Arminianism or discussing the errors of dispensationalism, when someone couldn’t answer a passage or argument I was presenting I got this kind of response:  “Brother you need to stop studying theology and doctrine so much and just love Jesus.”  As if to say somehow that they are loving Jesus more than I am because I am studying Scripture and doctrine and having an answer for what I believe verses them loving Jesus by not having an answer for what they say they believe or have been taught is “loving Jesus” or is being in tune with the Holy Spirit more?!?  Confusing indeed.  Granted, Mathison’s response is not exactly that, but it does have some hints to it.  I may be mistaken, but that is how I interpreted the tone.

Perhaps further evidence to this tone may be gleaned from the context of his response to me.  He mentioned that he knows I don’t deny the Trinity but that he was reading a good book on that subject and made a recommendation for me to read it as well.  I responded by saying I think the Church has sufficiently worked through that doctrine, but obviously his book WSTTB? demonstrated that the Church has not sufficiently worked through her eschatology.  So the undertone here seems to be that he is studying more spiritual things now than eschatology.  I personally enjoy studying how the Triune God came to make His home/dwelling within the believer/His Church and is now “all” (the Trinity) “in all” (Jew and Gentile) and has overcome the curse of “the death” for his blood bought Church.  Which brings me to my next point I gave him…

Thirdly, Mathison’s response resembles the common notion and thinking within academic circles and even church circles — that somehow soteriology (and to some extent the study of God – His attributes etc…) can be separated or systematized away from eschatology.  Systematic theology has its place, but unfortunately it often times creates this kind of harmful and unbiblical kind of thinking.

Fourthly, and related to the above points, is this notion that the study of eschatology isn’t as important as other doctrines and thus can be put “on the backburner” (Mathison’s exact words).  But the truth of the matter is this – Mathison and the church as a whole are so confused and frustrated on the subject, that this is the reason Mathison and others put it on the “back burner” for study/responses and turn their attention to other subjects and projects.  Like I’ve said many times if Sproul is correct that a 4 point Calvinist is in reality a “confused Arminian,” then the reality here is that Sproul and Mathison’s partial preterism is really “confused futurism.”  It’s their confusion and inability to present a consistent exegetical refutation of full preterism that is the issue here.

Fifthly, as I stated in the letter and elsewhere — it is the postmillennial partial preterist kind of thinking “dominion” and rhetoric of which Mathison swims (ex. Gary North) that has communicated the side in the debate which stops responding in print in essence has lost the debate.  I will now accept Mathison’s response as just that.  Do his co-authors of WSTTB? also want to accept defeat in this debate?  Hopefully they can be reached for comment.  In my recent response to Gary DeMar’s article in which he says he just got back from speaking on a seminar dedicated to the imagination that “Postmillennialists are winning the debate on eschatology” — I must respond by clearly stating that this is not reality at all.  Good marketing rhetoric like Gary North provides for the movement, but simply not reality.

Here are some comments made by my friends and co-authors of HD:

David Green:

“Mathison is the quintessential futurist. He can’t reconcile futurism with the Bible, so he dismisses it and brushes it aside as just “eschatology”: “It’ll pan out in the end.” “We have more spiritual things to concern ourselves with.” “Let’s not obsess over eschatology.” 🙂 Sadly for Mathison, that “excuse” doesn’t work when it comes to full preterism, because full preterism isn’t about Cobra helicopters or people disappearing in the Rupture. Full preterism is all about the New Testament, and the Gospel, and the Christian/Messianic age. Definitely, NOT a “waste of time” for any believer.

Those are words that will live in infamy. I can hardly believe he said it! Like Mike said to Mathison, it’s all about soteriology! So according to Mathison, understanding the meaning of “the tabernacle of God among men” –i.e., the establishment, nature, and meaning of the Gospel and of Christianity itself– is “a waste of time.”

Mike, this reminds me of when the “Talbots” scattered into the shadows. It’s the same level of victory. To say you won this debate with Mathison is an understatement! Your Mathison chapter in HD was the steamroller to Mathison’s blade of withered, dead grass.”

Ed Hassertt:

“I cannot believe the response he sent you, talk about a cop out!  That seems like a dig against those of us still writing about it, more than anything.  And since eschatology is found throughout scripture it almost makes studying scripture a waste of time, doesn’t it?  Mathison has sure lost this debate!  The critics of preterism are dropping like flies.   ;-)”

I have encouraged my co-authors to also write open and public letters to their respected opponents/chapters in HD/WSTTB? in this debate in order to see if they agree with Mathison’s defeated comments and or ask for an explanation of their 5+ years delayed response.  I will then post them on this site for public record.

“Is there no one else?!?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAFnbkEwqjI

 



[1] R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 1998), 157.

[2] David Green, Edward Hassertt, Michael Sullivan, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be? (Ramona, CA:  Vision Publishing 2014, Second Edition), 80-84.

[3] Ibid., 91.

[4] Ibid., 97

[5] Ibid., 87-95.  See also Michael Sullivan, A Full Preterist Response to Kenneth Gentry’s Articles:  DANIEL 12, TRIBULATION, AND RESURRECTION and ACTS 24:15 AND THE ALLEGED NEARNESS OF THE RESURRECTION http://fullpreterism.com/a-full-preterist-response-to-kenneth-gentrys-articles-daniel-12-tribulation-and-resurrection-and-acts-2415-and-the-alleged-nearness-of-the-resurrection/  And Keith as I mentioned in an email I didn’t have a lot of space in my chapter to address Gentry and Jordan’s progressive partial preterist view on the judgment and resurrection of the dead, but would refer you to this article.

[6] Michael Sullivan, House Divided, The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be?, 116-123.  This begs the question that DeMar has not answered in that if the “glory” was “about to be revealed” in Romans 8:18 YLT, then contextually so was the liberation of creation from its bondage, the full adoption of the sons of God, and the redemption of the body.  I also quote one of DeMar and Gentry’s favorite partial preterists (John Lightfoot) where he admits that the “creation” groaning in this passage has nothing to do with the planet earth (not even poetically) but rather men under sin (which is the full preterist view of the creation here).  I have been asking Gary to comment on this for many years now, but like you and your co-authors — you all seem “too busy” to comment.

[7] Ibid., 122-123.

[8] Ibid., 126-128.

[9] Ibid., 102-109.

[10] This should have been footnoted on page 139 of my chapter in reference to Hebrews 9:26-28 but it got deleted for some reason in the editing process.  The admission here is from Milton Terry, “The ‘end of the age’ means the close of the epoch or age—that is, the Jewish age or dispensation which was drawing nigh, as our Lord frequently intimated. All those passages that speak of ‘the end,’ ‘the end of the age,’ or ‘the ends of the ages,’ refer to the same consummation, and always as nigh at hand.” “…the writer regarded the incarnation of Christ as taking place near the end of the aeon, or dispensational period. To suppose that he meant that it was close upon the end of the world, or the destruction of the material globe, would be to make him write false history as well as bad grammar. It would not be true in fact; for the world has already lasted longer since the incarnation than the whole duration of the Mosaic economy, from the exodus to the destruction of the temple. It is futile, therefore, to say that the ‘end of the age’ may mean a lengthened period, extending from the incarnation to our times, and even far beyond them. That would be an aeon, and not the close of an aeon. The aeon of which our Lord was speaking was about to close in a great catastrophe; and a catastrophe is not a protracted process, but a definitive and culminating act.” Milton S. Terry, Biblical HERMENEUTICS A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, (Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 441-442.

[11] Michael Sullivan, House Divided, Ibid., 112, footnote 45.

[12] Ibid., 89-95, 178.  In first edition, 89.

[13] Ibid., 139-140.

[14] Ibid., 140.

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