The FIRST of several podcasts about the “Three Questions Letter” controversy has been made public for all the world to see. By scrolling down to the end of this article, you will find the link. I will be recording a SECOND podcast to be posted soon after. Depending on how far I get in the SECOND podcast, there will most likely be a THIRD. What I can guarantee is some very interesting information on a topic that needs to be discussed and studied. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, I encourage you to tune in. I understand if your mind is already made up. That’s OK. I’m not going to condemn you for it, and I can assure you that you’ll never get a letter from me!

The heart of the matter is what does the Bible teach, not what does Gary believe.

J. L. Neve states that “. . . the time of the Apostolic Fathers, like that of primitive Christianity, was thoroughly eschatological in tendency. Men had the consciousness that they were living in the last times. The immediate return of Jesus was anticipated. It was this expectation which held the congregation together.”[1] George Eldon Ladd notes: “The early church lived in expectation of Christ’s return.” Ladd quotes 1 Clement 23 in support: “Ye perceive how in a little time the fruit of a tree comes to maturity. Of a truth, soon and suddenly shall His will be accomplished, as the Scripture also bears witness, saying, ‘Speedily will He come and will not tarry,’ and ‘The Lord shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Holy One, for whom ye look.’” Ladd continues:

To deduce from this attitude of expectancy a belief in a pretribulation rapture and an any-moment coming of Christ, as has often been done, is not sound. The expectation of the coming of Christ included the events which would attend and precede His coming. The early fathers who emphasized an attitude of expectancy believed that this entire complex of events—Antichrist, tribulation, return of Christ—would soon occur. This is not the same as an any-moment coming of Christ.[2]

Many ante-Nicene writers “thought that the Roman persecution which they were undergoing at the time was the foretold tribulation period and that the current emperor was the Anti-Christ. Therefore they were expecting the return of Christ momentarily to deliver them from the tribulation and the Anti-Christ.”[3]

The time texts—“near,” “shortly,” “quickly”—could, if stretched, still be interpreted somewhat literally in the second and third centuries. As time passed, however, a reassessment of these time texts in relation to world conditions had taken place. A strong futurism replaced preterism. “From the 4th century on, the belief in the millennium declined. . . . The persecutions against the church drew to an end with the conversion of Constantine, and the church saw a new day of peace dawning.”[4] Biblical scholars began to reassess prophetic texts. Most adopted a futurist view, reinterpreting and relativizing the time texts and, thus, obscuring the plain teaching of the Bible.

Last Days Madness

Last Days Madness

In this authoritative book, Gary DeMar clears the haze of ‘end-times’ fever, shedding light on the most difficult and studied prophetic passages in the Bible, including Daniel 7:13-14; 9:24-27; Matt. 16:27-28; 24-25; Thess. 2; 2 Peter 3:3-13, and clearly explaining a host of other controversial topics.

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Gary received a letter signed by several individuals looking for answers to three specific questions. In this first podcast of several, Gary gives his side of the “controversy” and why he won’t simply answer their questions. A large part of the issue is how the questions are worded. The heart of the matter is what does the Bible teach, not what does Gary believe.

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[1] J.L. Neve, A History of Christian Thought, 1:43. Quoted in William Everett Bell, A Critical Evaluation of the Pretribulation Rapture Doctrine in Christian Eschatology, 1, note 1 and 49. Emphasis added. Also quoted in Boyd, 28, note 1.

[2] George Eldon Ladd, The Blessed Hope (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans,1956), 20.

[3] William Everett Bell, Jr., “A Critical Evaluation of the Pretribulation Rapture Doctrine in Christian Eschatology” (unpublished doctoral dissertation, New York University, 1967), 54. Conclusion based on P. Allan Carlsson, “A Historical Approach to the Doctrine of the Rapture” (unpublished Master’s thesis, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, 1956), 119–24.

[4] Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, 366.