The following is an introduction to an 80-page discussion dealing with controversies regarding preterism. It’s not designed as a published work. It’s more of an accumulation of material to help people work through the debate. It goes along with two abbreviated talks I gave at Berean Bible Church’s conference “How Shall We Then Live?”
You can read and/or download a copy of the 80-page study here.
My first foray into the topic of eschatology was not a directed attempt to answer dispensationalism. When I was hired by American Vision in 1981, I concentrated on worldview issues with the first volume of God and Government that was published in 1982. I would often lecture on the subject. Invariably, there was always someone who would ask, “Why are we talking about these subjects because the Bible predicts that before Jesus returns world conditions will go from bad to worse?” This was more than 40 years ago!
While I had embraced the position of J. Marcellus Kik in his book Matthew 24 while I was in seminary at the height of The Late Great Planet Earth craze, I had not thought that much about prophecy including ultimate end-time events. Heaven, hell, the resurrection, what type of body we might have, the dead not getting their bodies until Jesus returns or new bodies at death, were not topics I thought much about. You can tell this from my books and articles on the subject. Eschatology was important as an apologetic to help Christians to move from “why polish brass on a sinking ship” to let’s rebuild the ship of state and everything related to it (self-, family, church, and commonwealth). That’s what God and Government and Ruler of the Nations were about.
The hermeneutic I used to deal with prophetic passages helped me and others better understand God’s Word more consistently. As more questions arose, however, I had to deal with additional texts. Over time, with lots of study and comparing what other solid commentators and scholars came up with, I began to scrutinize some traditional interpretations of specific passages that did not seem to fit into the standard eschatological box that we were called on to confess. In doing this, I noted a lot of inconsistencies. After the publication of The Reduction of Christianity (1988) and many editions and printings of Last Days Madness (1991-2022) and numerous radio interviews and debates other people noted them as well and would often contact me and ask for help. This forced me to do more study.
The Reduction of Christianity
We don't have to accept reduction in order to avoid seduction. We can contend for the Faith without condensing or abbreviating it.Buy Now
As a result, I became the go-to-guy to be approached by people who had questions about eschatology. They asked questions about inconsistencies among prophecy writers. This can be seen when Ken Gentry is compared to Phil Kayser and Doug Wilson is compared to Kenneth Gentry on specific texts (see chart on page 80). I bring them up because they signed the infamous “Three Questions Letter” calling on me to affirm three eschatological questions that had no Scripture passages attached to them. I refused.
In addition, I could also show inconsistencies among people they often call on for exegetical support to defend their prophetic works (e.g., Milton Terry, John Lightfoot, John Owen). I spotted these inconsistencies in the 1990s, and I said so. I would often be asked, “Why does the hermeneutic used to critique dispensationalism not apply to similar passages that are said not to apply to AD 70?” A good question that many of my friends who deal with prophecy questions refused to answer.
Through all of this, I’ve met many people who are true believers in every sense of the word. Many have never heard of the Nicene Creed or the Westminster Standards. You could never satisfy them by appealing to creeds and confessions, and I never have. They are looking for people to make the case from the Bible. This is my world. It is not Ken Gentry’s world. Gentry avoids engaging with people who ask questions of him when he is challenged and changes his position. He writes and critiques from a safe distance and is protected from people who point out his interpretations and inconsistencies. He refuses to answer. Andrew Sandlin, one of the Three Questions Letter signers, takes a similar approach. He does not engage in debate with “heretics.”
For me and many others, the following from the WCF rings true and should be followed:
The Supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture. (WCF, 1:10)
I cannot at this point in good conscience—“Christ alone is the Lord of the conscience”—affirm fully the content of what’s being asked by the three questions if I am not permitted to ask questions without being labeled a “heretic” for asking what might be perceived to be uncomfortable questions.
One of the instructions we were given in math class was, “Be sure to show your work.” It wasn’t enough to get the right answer; it was important to show how you got the right answer. Knowing how to get the right answer goes a long way to help students get to solve the next problem, maybe you copied the answer from the person sitting in front of or beside you. How did a teacher prove you might be cheating? By giving you a similar math problem and asking you to work on the problem to get the answer.
Sometimes you showed your work and got the wrong answer. That often happened. By examining the work, your math teacher could determine where you went wrong. In a similar way, I’m asking people to “show their work” rather than pointing to creedal or confessional statements that can err or supply the incorrect biblical support or none. In my line of work, it’s “show your sources.”
For example, what Scripture passages did the bishops at the Council of Nicaea use when they formulated the phrase “from thence he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end”? Did they appeal to Matthew 16:27-28; 24:27, 30, 37, 48, 50; 25:19, 31-32; Acts 1:11; 17:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2; Revelation 1:7; 2:5, 16; 3:3, 10; 19:11-16; 22:7, 10, 12, 20? What combination of verses did they exegete to come to their conclusion on the eschatology clauses? Do we know?
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
 Matthew 22:29; Matthew 22:31; Ephesians 2:20; Acts 28:25.