Tue, 3 May 2011
Kids for Congo...some young Iowans want to make a difference. Then, Gary Demar sorts out the battle of the billboards...between the atheists and the end-of-the-worlders. He has an upcoming prophecy conference... here's his email. And Gary responds to one of the critical comments from Mike.
The following email was sent to Jan Mickelson in response to his interview with me on his radio show on May 3, 2011.
Concerning Gary DeMar, it must be noted that he is a Preterist, and sees eschatology through that lens and the presuppositions that come with that system. Preterism is just as much a "fringe" group as is Camping and his followers, just opposite ends of the spectrum. Any well studied historical pre-millennialist (which was the predominant view of the early church up until Augustine) would be able to answer his assertions.
Let me say that I enjoy and welcome debate on the subject of eschatology. The claim that “any well studied historical pre-millennialist . . . would be able to answer” my exposition of a passage like Matthew 24 remains to be seen since I have repeatedly answered them in six books and numerous public debates. It’s getting harder and harder to find anyone who will defend a futurist interpretation of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) over against a preterist one. I invited a number of notable published futurists to participate in a public forum on the issue at our National Prophecy Conference (June 1-4 at Asheville, NC). They all declined for one reason or another. In addition to the work, I’ve already done on the subject, I have answered every new argument raised by futurists. When a new one arises, I’ll study it and offer a studied response.
Yes, I am a preterist, just like some of the greatest Bible expositors the church has ever produced, past and present (see below). What is a preterist? A preterist believes that certain prophecies have already been fulfilled. Preterist means “past.” If you are a Christian, then you are a preterist. You believe the prophecies concerning the first coming of Jesus Christ have been fulfilled. Their fulfillment is in the past.
There are numerous NT prophecies that have been fulfilled. Jesus predicted his death and resurrection. These have been fulfilled. Then there are prophecies concerning the destruction of the temple that we know were fulfilled within a generation. Jesus states that not one stone of the temple would remain. Sure enough, the temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. There were prophecies about earthquakes and famines (Matt. 24:7) and false prophets (24:11). These, too, were fulfilled within a generation. A great earthquake shook the prison that released Paul (Acts 16:26). The history of the period before the fall of Jerusalem confirms that earthquakes were common. There was a famine that extend throughout the Roman Empire (Acts 11:28). John says there were false prophets alive in his day (1 John 4:1).
Even the prediction that the gospel would be preached throughout the inhabited earth (Matt. 24:14: not “world” [kosmos]; see Luke 4:1 where the same Greek word [oikoumene] is used and means the political boundaries of the Roman Empire) was fulfilled before that generation passed away (Col. 1:6, 23).
Notice the use of the second person plural (“you”) throughout Matt. 24. Then there’s the use of “this generation” (24:34). Each and every time “this generation” is used in the gospels it ALWAYS refers to the generation to whom Jesus was speaking (Matt. 11:16; 12:41–42; 23:36; Mark 8:12; Luke 7:31; 11:30–32, 50–51; 17:25). It never refers to a future generation or a race of people.
There’s much more that I could say on these matters. For a more detailed, verse-by-verse exposition of Matthew 24, see my books Last Days Madness (http://bit.ly/ixLxgN) and Is Jesus Coming Soon? (http://bit.ly/gxJJHH).
On the historical side, preterism has a long and distinguished history. It can be found in the writings of Eusebius (c. 263–339), in particular his The Proof of the Gospel (Demonstratio evangelica), as well as other pre-Augustinian writers. Then there are commentators like John Lightfoot (1602–1675), Henry Hammond (1605–1660), John Gill (1697–1771), N. A. Nisbett (1787), Philip Doddridge (1702–1751), Thomas Newton (1704–1782), Thomas Scott (1747–1821), Adam Clarke (1762–1832). These were standard commentaries in their day. You can also find a pretrist interpretation of the Olivet Discourse in conntemporary writers like J. Marcellus Kik, William Lane, John Nolland, G. R. Beasley-Murray, R. T. France, and R.C. Sproul.
The argument that the early church was nearly universally premillennial is a myth as Francis X. Gumerlock and I show in our book The Early Church and the End of the World (http://bit.ly/ic1hSh). And even if it were, this would not make it biblically correct.