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Protectors of the Holy Grail Doctrine

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I got another one of those nasty emails—all accusation but no substance. These types of emails generally come from people who have little regard for the history of biblical interpretation, use a system-approach to Bible interpretation instead of allowing the Bible to speak for itself, and believe they have been charged with protecting their idea of the Holy Grail doctrine. Here’s the latest installment:

Your preterist stance in interpretation is clearly a sign, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. You and Hank [Hanegraaff] are nothing more than disbelievers of Jesus Christ. Your trust is in scholars, and your pride. “As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” There have arrived false prophets, and you and Hank should repent. It’s too late for Calvin, not you.

For those not familiar with “preterism,” let me give you a very brief definition. A preterist is someone who believes that certain prophecies in the Bible have already been fulfilled as opposed to a futurist who believes that these prophecies are yet to be fulfilled. This position is defended by an appeal to the Bible in Is Jesus Coming Soon? and Last Days Madness. There’s nothing new in this position. It can be traced back to the early church which Frank Gumerlock and I demonstrate by a study of original sources and present in the book The Early Church and the End of the World. Moreover, you will find some of the finest Bible expositors the church has ever produced holding a preterist interpretation of passages like Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2, and Revelation.

If we were to follow the flawed logic of the angry emailer, we would have to condemn countless numbers to perdition who believed that Jesus was right when He said, “THIS generation will not pass away until all THESE things take place” (Matthew 24:34). As I pointed out in yesterday’s article, there is no way around what this verse is saying unless you interpret it in terms of an already developed “system-approach” to interpretation. Accordingly, we are told we must follow the interpretive methodology of prophetic prognosticators who continually revise their end-time views as surely as editors will change tomorrow’s newspaper headline.

These protectors of the Holy Grail doctrine (dispensationalism) must rely on “historical amnesia” to maintain the charade that the latest book on prophetic forecasting is new and fresh. They either don’t know or they’ve forgotten that so-called prophecy experts have walked the path of prognostication before and have been discredited by the sands of time. You’ve read how in 1926 Oswald J. Smith predicted with certainty that Benito Mussolini was the predicted antichrist. Mussolini’s execution in 1945 muddied the certainty of that prediction. You might recall that it was Hal Lindsey who told us that the 1948 reestablishment of Israel set the terminal generation in motion toward its predicted end in 1988. We must not forget that it was Edgar Whisenant who assured us that there were 88 reasons why the rapture would be in 1988 and then told us that “the first century A.D. was a short year.” In case you don’t realize it, we are nearly 20 years beyond 1988, and still the prophecy experts, the true defender of Jesus’ words, are still at it. If you want a detailed history of this kind of nonsense I recommend that you get a copy of Frank Gumerlock’s The Day and the Hour.

Even with all these well-known facts, it’s Gary DeMar and Hank Hanegraaff who should repent because they believe that Jesus was right when He said that He would return in judgment to destroy the temple in Jerusalem before that first-century generation passed away. So here’s the question: Who are the REAL “disbelievers in Jesus”? Those who take Jesus at His Word, or those who really do “distort. . . the scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16) by making “this” mean “that” (Matt. 24:34), “near” mean “far” (Rev. 1:1, 3), and “up” mean “down” (Matt. 24:30)? “Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar. . .” (Rom. 3:4).

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