The claim has been made that “Gary DeMar has changed his eschatological beliefs” or that he’s been “bewitched.” Not so. These types of comments show how desperate some people are to avoid answering the hard questions. The questions I was asking in 1998 are the same ones I’m asking today (see below). The difference is that I have studied the topic in greater detail, but the original questions and thoughts I had then are part of the discussion I have been engaged in today.
Andrew Sandlin knew what I was saying in 1998. Someone even commented that he saw what I was getting out as far back as 1989. Sandlin responded to comments that were posted on the Christian Recon group in 1998 … a quarter of a century ago! He argued for his position over against my comments the same way he is doing it today: the creeds and confessions on the topic of eschatology are not to be questioned. Andrew and I have spoken at conferences together over the years, had dinner in the home of one of American Vision’s board members, and yet he never offered to engage in a conversation with me about my comments from 1998.
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.Buy Now
Why would Andrew ask me to write an article on eschatology for The Failed Church: Restoring a Vision of Ecclesial Victory that he edited? The title of my chapter is “Failed Eschatologies and Their Consequences.” Since knowing my views going back 25 years and his response to them then, why would he ask me to write on eschatology? Here’s some of what I wrote:
While the creeds and confession of the church are important, they are not equal to Scripture. The Westminster Confession (WCF) Chapter 31 [also see 1:10] says as much: “III. All synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith and practice; but to be used as a help to both.”
In a footnote, I wrote the following: “On the limited scope of topics related to eschatology covered in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, see Gary DeMar, “Creeds, Confessions, and Eschatology,” American Vision (July 12, 2021).”
Why am I being attacked now? Why has it taken 25 years? What’s changed? The following are some of what I wrote in 1998:
Hi Ed [Stevens]
I will do. The Ch-Recon list has been fairly quiet up till about a week ago until David Chilton and Consistent Preterism was mentioned. This sort of woke things up a bit. I include a few more postings from Gary DeMar and one from Andrew Sandlin in response to Gary.
Jon D. Phillips
[Gary DeMar’s response to] Jay Rogers,
If the Apostles’ Creed is a statement of what the Apostles believed; and if the Apostles’ Creed teaches that Jesus will “come again to judge the quick and the dead”; and if the Apostles stated this belief prior to the parousia coming of Christ in AD 70, then how can a consistent preterist be out of accord with the Apostles’ Creed?
The WCF [Westminster Confession of Faith] states that “All synods or councils since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred; therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice, but to be used as a help in both.”
The WCF stated in 25:6 that “The pope is the antichrist, the man of sin.” While some old-line Reformed types still maintain this position, most do not. This is why I have insisted on EXEGESIS in this discussion. If I were a consistent preterist (I am NOT), I would maintain that my position is in accord with the basic tenets of the AC or based on the WCF dealing with “Synods and Councils,” such creeds “since the apostles’ times” have erred. I question the consistent preterist position based on exegetical arguments. I have asked for exegetical work on 1 Thess. 4 and 1 Cor.15 by consistent preterists.
John Bray has met the challenge. As far as I know, he’s the only one. Now it’s time for the critics to answer his exegesis. Show him where he’s wrong. Similar work needs to be done with Acts 1:9-11. If you are not willing to engage in scholarly exegetical work, then stay out of the debate.
[Gary DeMar’s response to] Tom,
The history of the exegetical work done on eschatology is pitiful. Froom’s The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers runs to 4000 pages in four volumes.
There is no consensus except that the Pope is the antichrist. Is he? Most of the passages that partial preterists use to support an AD 70 fulfillment were used by many to support a future second coming. By the way, where do we find the twin doctrines of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide in these early creeds? Your response is a cop out.
[Gary DeMar’s response to] Chris,
My development in eschatology began when I could not reconcile dispensational arguments with what the Bible seemed to be saying. Kik’s An Eschatology of Victory [where his original book Matthew 24 is republished along with his book Revelation 20] showed me that the Bible was a book that could be trusted without having to treat it like Silly Putty.
I still have lots of questions, but I do not retreat to the creeds for shelter. Some would consider me a bad churchman for this. If I am not convinced of a passage’s meaning, I put it in my question box. A time may come when I get further insight into a text’s meaning. I never say, “Thus spake the creeds, therefore no additional research is needed.”
I hesitate to get involved in this forum since I have seen very little scholarly work. Most of these guys still don’t get it.
[Gary DeMar’s response to] Tom,
The Apostles’ Creed is incomplete, and so are the rest of the creeds. While the AC states that Jesus is coming again to judge the quick and the dead, it does not state that His coming will be bodily or seen by all. After A.D. 70, there is little that can be relied on by the ante-Nicene writers. Their understanding of the Bible is too inconsistent to be trusted.
The consistent preterists have not stated their concept of the resurrection in terms that I can understand. While I’m just a physical education major, I’m not stupid. I’ve told Ed Stevens that I want to see a clear exegetical treatment of what consistent preterists believe on the resurrection. I’ve always had trouble with the notion that when a Christian dies his spirit (soul) goes to be with the Lord while his dead and decaying body remains in the ground until the time that it is resurrected and rejoins its spirit (soul) self.
Soul sleep does not seem to be an exegetical option. Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus on the Mount with Jesus. They were seen and recognized. Where did they get their bodies? Were their bodies temporary until a yet future judgment day? Consistent preterists claim they can solve the dilemma.
I want to see the exegetical proof. Until then, I’m stuck with what the church teaches on this, although I’m not satisfied with the church’s answer.
Keep in mind that the above comments are from 1998!
Matthew 24 Fulfilled
In his book, Southern Baptist Reverend John Bray states: Present-day students of eschatology seem woefully ignorant of the writings of past theologians on these subjects. There was a time (prior to the mid-1800s) when the most prominent interpretation of Matthew 24 was from the preterite standpoint, and the dating of Revelation was believed to be at an earlier date than is now believed.Buy Now