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Who has the Real "Anti-Semitic Bent"?

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"ArtIm:

After writing “Debunking ‘Last Days Fever’ at Charisma” I received the following from a friend who got an email from someone who did not like my article. Here’s a portion of what the critic wrote:

I have preached through the Book of Revelation twice, verse-by-verse, in a 38 message series. I study the Greek New Testament nearly every day. I do not profess to know everything, but I am 100% convinced that Preterism is a fable and patently unbiblical. Gary North, Hank Hanegraaff, Demar [sic] and others flat out do not know what they are talking about. Many of them, such as the late North, have an anti-semitic bent, where he said that he would rejoice in the day that the Arabs pushed Israel into the sea! God’s immutable promise to Abraham is that he would “bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee” (Gen. 12:3).

A couple of preliminary points are in order. First, there are many people who have preached through the book of Revelation, some have even written commentaries (e.g., David Clark, David Chilton, Kenneth Gentry), who are very well versed preterists. Our emailer needs to take a look at Steve Gregg’s Revelation: Four Views—A Parallel Commentary and C. Marvin Pate’s Four Views on the Book of Revelation.

Second, I invited this man to come on my radio show to demonstrate that “Preterism is a fable and patently unbiblical.” I’ve made this offer to others who have written similar things to me in emails. So far no one has taken me up on the offer. Maybe this person will be different, but I don’t think so. I’ll let you know if he accepts my offer.

Third, Hal Lindsey tried the anti-semitism charge when he wrote his book The Road to Holocaust. Peter J. Leithart and I wrote The Legacy of Hatred Continues in 1989 as a refutation. It’s never been answered. We showed that it was Lindsey’s dispensational system that has it in for the Jews after the “rapture,” a point I made in my article in response to the “Last Days Fever” article that appeared in Charisma. Dispensationalists teach that two-thirds of the Jews will be killed during their version of a future Great Tribulation, and that prior to the rapture Israel has no prophetic significance since God is now dealing with the church. Lindsey describes the judgment against Israel in A.D. 70 as a “picnic” compared to his super holocaust that will kill billions of people, including two-thirds of the Jews living in Israel.[1] Kay Arthur, another dispensational author, has stated publicly that what lies ahead for Israel will make Hitler’s Holocaust look like “a Sunday school picnic.” In her novel, Israel My Beloved, “Arthur has the heroine standing in a massively destroyed Jerusalem, dead and dying Jews littering the ground around her as she whispers in horror, ‘Auschwitz was never like this.’” Let’s not forget Israel’s Final Holocaust by Jack Van Impe. Chuck Missler has called Auschwitz “just a prelude” to what will happen to Jews in the Last Days. Consider what Thomas Ice writes in his article “What do you do with a future National Israel in the Bible?”: 

The Bible also indicates that before Israel enters into her time of national blessing she must first pass through the fire of the tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Jer. 30:5–9; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:14–18). Even though the horrors of the Holocaust under Hitler were of an unimaginable magnitude, the Bible teaches that a time of even greater trial awaits Israel during the tribulation. Anti-Semitism will reach new heights, this time global in scope, in which two-thirds of world Jewry will be killed (Zech. 13:7–9; Rev. 12). Through this time God will protect His remnant so that before His second advent “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:36).

In reality, it’s “all that’s left of Israel that will be saved.” In a December 2, 1984 sermon, the late Jerry Falwell said the following: “Millions of Jews will be slaughtered at this time but a remnant will escape and God will supernaturally hide them for Himself for the last three and a half years of the Tribulation, some feel in the rose-red city of Petra.”

Fourth, I don’t know why this person refers to the “late [Gary] North,” since he is very much alive. In fact, I just saw him yesterday! On North’s comment about Arabs pushing Israel into the sea, here’s what he actually wrote: “Should Israel ever be ‘pushed into the sea,’ these people will have to face what the rest of us began facing early in life: the prospect of our statistically inescapable physical death.” North’s point is quite clear: If anything happens to Israel, either their being pushed into the sea or “converted to Christ,”[2] dispensationalists will have to do a lot of explaining. Their hope of the rapture will be gone, and they will die! Who does believe that Israel will be thrown out of their land? Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a dispensational premillennialist:

The present state of Israel is not the final form. The present state of Israel will be lost, eventually, and Israel will be run out of the land again, only to return when they accept the Messiah as Savior.[3]

Fifth, the use of Genesis 12:3 is curious since the “thee” is singular and refers to Abraham.

Now let’s take a look at what non-dispensationalists (mostly postmillennialists) believe about the future of Israel. In the mid-seventeenth century, the Westminster Larger Catechism, in the answer to Question 191, outlined the hope for a future conversion of the Jews. Part of what we pray for in the second petition, “Thy kingdom come,” is that “the gospel [be] propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fullness of the Gentiles brought in.” In his commentary on the Larger Catechism, Thomas Ridgeley (1667–1734) wrote, “Hence, we cannot but suppose that those prophecies which respect [to the conversion of the Jews], in the latter day, together with the fullness of the Gentiles being brought in, shall be more eminently accomplished than they have hitherto been.”[4] Ridgeley spends a number of pages refuting “ancient and modern Chiliasts, or Millennarians”[5] and defending what can only be described as postmillennialism over against premillennialism.

We freely own, as what we think agreeable to scripture, that as Christ has, in all ages, displayed his glory as King of the Church, so we have ground to conclude, from scripture, that the administration of his government in this world, before his coming to judgment, will be attended with greater magnificence, more visible marks of glory, and various occurrences of providence, which shall tend to the welfare and happiness of his church, in a greater degree than has been beheld or experienced by it, since it was planted by the ministry of the apostles after his ascension into heaven. This we think to be the sense, in general, of those scriptures, both in the Old and New Testament, which speak of the latter‑day glory.[6]

* * * * *

We have, hence, sufficient ground to conclude, that, when these prophecies shall have their accomplishment, the interest of Christ shall be the prevailing interest in the world, which it has never yet been in all respects; so that godliness shall be as much and as universally valued and esteemed, as it has hitherto been decried, and it shall be reckoned as great an honour to be a Christian, as it has, in the most degenerate age of the church, been matter of reproach. . . . In short, there shall be, as it were, a universal spread of religion and holiness to the Lord, throughout the world.[7]

Ridgeley knew his history well enough to know that the majority of theologians in the seventeenth century held to an advancing kingdom through the proclamation of the gospel which includes the future conversion of the Jews. Amillennialist Johannes G. Vos, in his commentary on the Larger Catechism, takes a similar view.[8]

In the same way, the Westminster Directory for Public Worship instructed ministers to pray “for the Propagation of the Gospel and Kingdom of Christ to all nations, for the conversion of the Jews, the fullness of the Gentiles, the fall of Antichrist, and the hastening of the second coming of the Lord.”[9] In 1652, a group of eighteen Puritan ministers and theologians, including both Presbyterians and Independents, affirmed that “the Scripture speaks of a double conversion of the Gentiles, the first before the conversion of the Jews, they being Branches wild by nature grafted into the True Olive Tree instead of the natural Branches which are broken off. . . . The second, after the conversion of the Jews.”[10]

What dispensationalists like the person who claims that preterists have an anti-semitic streak need to explain is how their regard for the future of Israel means that two-thirds of the Jews will be slaughtered before the promises are fulfilled (Zech. 13:8) in what Charles Ryrie has described in his book The Living End as “the worst bloodbath in Jewish history.”[11] Then they need to answer what postmillennialists have always believed: “the conversion of the Jews.”

Endnotes:

[1] Hal Lindsey, The Road to Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 1989), 220.
[2]
Personal letter from Gary North to Peter Lalonde, April 30, 1987.
[3]
Stated on Dallas, Texas, radio program (KCBI) in a debate with me on May 15, 1991.
[4]
Thomas Ridgeley, Commentary on the Larger Catechism, 2 vols. (Edmonton, AB Canada: Still Waters Revival Books, [1855] 1993), 2:621. Ridgeley’s original work was titled A Body of Divinity: Wherein the Doctrines of the Christian Religion are Explained and Defended, Being the Substance of Several Lectures on the Assembly's Larger Catechism and was published in 1731.
[5]
Ridgeley, Commentary on the Larger Catechism, 1:558–562.
[6]
Ridgeley, Commentary on the Larger Catechism, 1:562.
[7]
Ridgeley, Commentary on the Larger Catechism, 1:563–564.
[8]
Johannes G. Vos, The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary, ed. G. I. Williamson (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2002), 552–553.
[9]
Quoted in J. A. DeJong, As the Waters Cover the Sea: Millennial Expectations in the Rise of Anglo-America Missions, 1640–1810 (Kampen: J. H. Kok, 1970), 37–38.
[10]Quoted in Iain Murray, The Puritan Hope: Revival and the Interpretation of Prophecy (London: The Banner of truth Trust, 1971), 72.
[11]
Charles C. Ryrie, The Best is Yet to Come (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1981), 86.

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