Most of you don’t get to see the many encouraging emails I get on a daily basis. I tend to comment on the negative ones. (They’re much more fun.) I’m a “the glass-is-half-empty” kind of guy. That way I’m not disappointed if things turn sour. It’s what I expect. The following email was sent to me yesterday. It details how American Vision’s books and articles are having an impact on people around the world. (I’ve been invited to speak to 300 pastors in Kenya.) This is why AV does what it does. Eschatology is a big-issue topic. It comes up everywhere I speak. I am amazed how steeped people are in the dispensational interpretive paradigm and how debilitating it is. (I know there are exceptions, but mostly with caveats.) My comments usually bring on stunned silence from first-time hearers. At John Piper’s “Desiring God” conference there was a round-table panel discussion on the topic of eschatology. One comment by a viewer caught my attention: “The mere fact that a preterist/postmillennialist [Douglas Wilson] was even asked to take a seat (let alone given a mic) at a round-table discussion at a major evangelical conference . . . is a monumental victory.” Amen! And there will be many more. The following article was sent to me. I thought you would be encouraged by it. I certainly was.
I just wanted to write a short fan mail to say thank you for your work in eschatology and to give a small testimony of its impact in my life.
I attended one of your seminars on Preterism at a church in Dallas, way back in 1993. At the time, I had never heard of Preterism. However, by my own study I had become very perplexed by the belief that Jesus had not yet returned (which I assumed was a universally held belief throughout Christianity), and the apparent tension of that belief with what the New Testament actually said. I was particularly troubled by the NT’s seemingly pervasive message that Jesus’ return was soon, imminent, very close, close at hand, etc. for its original readers. And that message of imminence seemed everywhere in the NT—gospels, epistles, etc. And also, I couldn’t help notice that Jesus’ original hearers would have had absolutely no way to know that Jesus wasn’t coming back for 2000 plus years—in their original context, all of Jesus’ words would have led His hearers to believe that He was coming back in their lifetimes.
For me, this caused more than an academic problem: it had direct implications on the nature of God. How could God so intentionally mislead his closest followers? I was perplexed that God would do such a thing, and it was seriously disturbing my faith.
I think I mentioned my dilemma in my small group at church (Christ Church, Plano). One of my fellow members was familiar with your work, and by God’s providence that was apparently right at the time you were coming through the Dallas area, promoting Last Days Madness. So my friend invited me to your “prophecy seminar”—without telling me the nature of the seminar I was going to!! I went along—but glumly so. I had assumed this was going to be another one of those things where the speaker tries to get everybody riled up, anxiety-ridden, and oohing and ahhing about how many “signs were being fulfilled” that Jesus’ return and the end-of-the-world were imminent.
Boy, was I in for a shock.
As I recall, your seminar was a full six hours long. By the end, I was feeling elated, and my head was swimming! I felt enthralled by the Preterist viewpoint. But it seemed too wonderful to be true. How could so much of Christendom have gotten it wrong? And yet, the arguments you presented that day seemed powerful and persuasive. Preterist arguments really seemed to respect the text of the Bible, and history, far better than arguments of other viewpoints did.
However, despite liking what I heard that day, since I didn’t know you and the viewpoint seemed so radical, I didn’t trust you. So I did a little research of my own. I found out that the University of Texas at Dallas library happened to have, in their stacks, the works of Josephus. Since many of your arguments in LDM relied on quotations from Josephus, I figured I would check you out there. My fear was that maybe you were somehow quoting Josephus out-of-context. So I set aside time, and spent several weekends at the UTD library, checking up on your usage of Josephus. Thinking that you might be twisting quotations in some way that was not legit.
Well, that turned out to be an exercise in futility.
I soon came to the conclusion that LDM’s use of Josephus was on the level. And not only that: I came to the conclusion there was additional material in Josephus that supported the Preterist viewpoint. Additional supporting material that LDM hadn’t even bothered to use! (maybe because LDM’s arguments were already adequately strong?!) So, I had gone in to this little endeavor looking for misuse of quotations, and instead, I found even more supporting evidence.
So at that point I joyfully accepted the Preterist viewpoint.
I hope you enjoyed that little story of how your work has impacted me. Thanks again for your work in this area. Encountering Preterism has been a joy to me and enriched my faith. It certainly resolved the dilemma that I faced in my faith at the time. That was years ago, but I wanted to express my gratitude, and give witness to some of the fruit of your work. Thanks so much, brother!