Cross-Examining the Critics of Preterism
A Response To Kenneth Gentry
© Copyright by Edward J. Hassertt – Oct. 20, 2005
All Rights Reserved.
Edward. J. Hassertt
18928 NE 150th St
Woodinville WA 98004 USA
cell phone: 425-330-5673
When addressing the scholars of the Reformed community, care must be taken to get our facts, logic, and scripture correct. Unfortunately, those scholars do not take the same careful approach in dealing with Preterist Theology or the people involved. These scholars play loose with the facts, use logical fallacies, special pleading, and personal attacks. What is even more disturbing is their pointed criticism of the “difference” in theology shown by preterists when even those organized to argue against it (e.g., the contributing authors in Mathison’s book) cannot agree on the interpretation or application of the key eschatological texts of Holy Scripture. Despite the overwhelming fact that they cannot agree on the most simple aspect of their own eschatology, these glass-house dwellers try to dispel their own disunity by casting stones at those trying to be biblically consistent with their theology and hermeneutic. If internal confusion and hasty attack were sound argumentative techniques, the responses to preterism would be daunting. As it is, however, they represent nothing more than a loud, shrill, persistent (but not ultimately significant nor convincing) critique of preterist theology.
As an introduction to the type of criticism being leveled against biblical preterism I will first deal specifically with the introduction to the Keith A. Mathison edited book, “When Shall These Things Be”, penned by R.C. Sproul, Jr. I will follow with a thorough cross-examination of the testimony offered in the chapter authored by Kenneth Gentry. In the end the evidence will show a consistent misrepresentation of the preterist position and its adherents. It will also demonstrate that the criticism is unfounded being precariously founded on ill-formed arguments and attempts to impugn preterist through constant repetition of guilt by association claims. The attack on preterists for using improper hermeneutic and argumentative tactics fails due to lack of evidence with regard to either charge. Without showing any preterist who uses the techniques they condemn, there mere assertion proves nothing. With regard to the argumentative techniques they criticize it is quite telling that Dr. Gentry often uses the same tactics he previously condemned. This inconsistency in the facts and the form of their arguments should be enough to give any reasonable reader pause. In my case it invokes a need for a deeper investigations into what they are attempting to prove. But such a deeper look, only reveals a dependence on history unsupportable from scripture, with little else to back it but the traditions of men. When we cross-examine the testimony of these men against preterism we form more than a reasonable doubt that their claims are true, we find their evidence insufficient to even form a prima facie case against preterists and preterist theology.
Contrary to the assertions of these men, not being radical Anabaptists, Reformed Preterists hold great respect for those who have traveled this path before us. But as we examine such people, we can find great inconsistency in how key scriptures are interpreted. Contrary to the constant refrain of the critics of preterist theology, there has never been a period of consensus and unity on doctrine among members of the body of Christ. The diversity even in the Reformed community, with many arguing vehemently that certain scriptures are yet to be fulfilled, while other Reformed scholars claim the very same verses are examples of fulfilled prophecy, should give any reader pause when the current witnesses claim that a difficulty with the preterist position is diversity of opinion among preterists. Such inconsistency should at least open the door for reasonable mind to consider the preterist thesis. The volume in question, instead of a coherent, unified, biblical response to preterism, reads more like a knee-jerk reaction, mixed with ad hominem attacks, straw-man arguments, proving very little. In the end, all Sproul and Gentry seem to offer us, as an answer to the compelling preterist interpretation of scripture is an old playground taunt, “because I said so.” Actually the form is “because the man-made creeds say so,” but the general effect, and evidentiary value, is the same.
Since this is an important issue and both Sproul and Gentry think they have made a definitive blow against biblical preterist eschatology it is important to dissect their case piece by piece. As we examine their evidence, cross-examine their witnesses and dissect their arguments, we will see that their prosecution of the preterist position, falls far short of creating the guilty verdict they attempt to thrust upon us. As a lawyer, I will present my case against their positions, show their inconsistencies, and bring in supporting evidence from many Reformed scholars, to show that their claims are little more than a smokescreen that hides their elevation of man-made creeds above the scriptures. While others will deal specifically with the creedal arguments, my position is that the inconsistencies in the arguments and evidence presented by these men, and other Reformed scholars fails to show that biblical preterism is heretical, or that it is not the true interpretation of scripture. Since their case fails to prove what it claims, the charges against preterism fail as well. The rest of this volume presents the positive arguments for preterism.
Now I will begin to examine the argument presented by these two men. The introduction to the volume gives us a key insight into the direction of the entire volume. Since the “opinion argument” of this case against preterism is written by R.C. Sproul, Jr. I will first interact with his statement. A very key starting point to responding to this volume is that early on we realize that this argument is not about sola scriptura for the Reformed futurists. R.C. Sproul, Jr. does not begin his address from scripture, but instead from the creeds. What is a derivative from God’s word becomes a substitute for God’s word in arguing against preterists. Is it any great wonder that most preterists find these arguments unconvincing? Sproul asserts that “the Spirit of God tells us that doctrine unites.” And then proceeds for several pages to show why doctrine should cut off the Reformed preterist from fellowship with the Reformed futurist. If that is not using doctrine to divide, we must be dealing with a radically different definition of unity than the one Jesus himself uses in John 17:20-21.  Where does Jesus say anything about the contrived “unity of doctrine” invented to drive out dissenters and silence arguments?
Sproul claims that preterist want to “crash” the party by telling a different story than the one found in the confessions. Unfortunately for him, the Roman Catholic Church consistently used the same arguments against Calvin, Luther and the other Reformers. As, I am sure Sproul, will agree, their “party crashing” was a necessary Reform of the corrupt doctrine represented by the Roman See. I for one am proud that he uses the same label for us, which a Pope once used for Luther, “aberrant.” (Mathison, viii)
Sproul disingenuously cites the differences between preterist concerning the nature of the Resurrection, calling it bickering, yet fails to address the constant bickering we see among Reformed churches on such foundational issues as justification, biblical law, common grace and polity. If such disagreement is a sign of poverty in preterist theology, it must point to an absolute state of bankruptcy in Reformed circles since their disagreements are legendary and span many generations!
Sproul betrays his argument by calling preterism “the brave new world,” (Mathison, ix) in a misguided attempt to impugn preterists with Huxley’s label. Since the Reformation could rightly be called a brave new world in Christendom with regard to justification, it would not be improper to consider the possibility that preterism represents a brave new world with regard to eschatology.
In the body of his argument Sproul cites personal reasons for wanting the story to be his way, his own failing body and his daughter’s health. While my compassion runs deep for him as a fellow Christian and father, personal feelings are no basis for a theological position. Yet, since Sproul does not present a biblical argument against preterism that is all he leaves us to go on as his Forward closes. Of course he must lash out with one ad hominem, just for good measure, but preterism is far from a “hopeless folly” as it gives us true hope, in the true promises of God’s word, instead of the fantasyland created by disparate futurist visions of the coming world.
While Sproul’s dismissal of preterism with a creed and an emotional appeal is unconvincing and void of any evidence, Gentry’s contribution goes beyond this lack into a real effort of manufacturing evidence and creating conspiracies where none exist. If we accepted guilt by association, Gentry’s arguments may work. But the problem is that his arguments would deal a much more devastating blow to his Reformed faith than he could ever meet against preterist positions. I will now turn my cross-examining eye to the criticisms offered by Dr. Gentry.
It should be telling to the lay reader that Dr. Gentry, like Sproul, does not start his argument from scripture, since that is the Achilles heal of futurist criticism, but instead begins with the creeds. My opinion, take it for what it is worth, is that if there were a convincing scriptural argument against preterism, Dr. Gentry would start with it, camp on it, and conclude with it. His failure to use Biblical exegetical argumentation tells us something significant.
Dr. Gentry has testified concerning consistent preterism and his view of biblical orthodoxy. He has also made several accusations concerning the intelligence and character of preterists as well as the threat that preterists pose to the Christians’ faith and practice. We need not make a supposition concerning Dr. Gentry’s views, we can read the constant barrage of logical fallacies, personal attacks and “chicken-little” prognostications in Dr. Gentry’s own words. The problem is, that once the rhetorical smoke clears, there is little substance, almost no evidence and little real force to his criticism of preterism. His arguments amount to the claim that preterism is bad because it disagrees with other Christians and because he says it can lead to bad things.
By the underlying standard of Gentry’s argument, there are very few Christians that could pass muster. It is a fact of history that very few Christians have agreed with each other on doctrinal issues at any given time in history, outside of the violent imposition of tactics like the Spanish inquisition. It is also a fact of history that sinners, evil men, and corruption of Christianity have emerged from all types of Christian groups, including Gentry’s own brand of Christian orthodoxy. If we applied Gentry’s standard to any group of Christians, the same condemnation could be made. This, in the end, makes Gentry’s arguments little more than a subjective dislike for preterism, instead of any logical or biblical presentation of theological criticism. But let’s cross-examine the witness and see if his testimony is consistent and probative on the issue of the accusations of heresy and danger to the Christian faith.
In his opening statement of purpose for writing Gentry leads with his conclusion, which we will see is unsupported by anything that follows. He calls preterism “a corrosive theological fad.” (Mathison, 2) He also claims that he is defending “the historic, corporate, public, universal, systematic Christian faith,” and adds “ We do so against the eroding forces of novelty flowing from the tributaries of historical confusion, exegetical failure, theological naiveté, and logical fallacies.” While this is clever sounding prose, it begs the question of the nature of preterism. But it is only fitting, when looking at the rest of his arguments that he would lead with a logical fallacy as his foundation.
Gentry suggests that the argument should begin with the creeds. This is exactly backward, as theology should begin with God’s word, and the creeds should spring from them. It is Gentry’s mistaken foundation that leads to many of his faulty conclusions and misstatements in the rest of his article. The creeds, while very important, should always be subject to the test of scripture. Unlike his accusation, preterists are not calling for individual interpretation to trump the interpretation of the corporate church any more than Calvin wanted his individual interpretation to trump that of the Roman Church.
Dr. Gentry starts early with his accusations. He claims that .“Hyper preterism has arisen among Christians who express little interest in the creedal integrity of the historic faith.” (Mathison, 3) As we cross-examine such bold claims we must ask Dr. Gentry, what his evidence is for such a sweeping generalization. Of course anyone who makes such a claim would need to provide compelling Biblical argumentation, or see his case summarily dismissed on grounds of insufficient evidence. The only evidence Dr. Gentry provides is a statement by Edward E. Stevens that the time has come for the creeds to be revised. This is hardly supportive of his contention that Stevens has little interest in the creeds. A claim of necessity for revision of the creeds, far from being “little interest” in creedal integrity, shows a great deal of interest by wanting the creeds to be as biblically accurate as possible. Stevens did not call for a rejection of the creeds, which would support Dr. Gentry’s accusation of anti-creedalism, instead he calls for revision along biblical lines. Contrary to Dr. Gentry’s claim, the call within Reformed Preterism is not the abolition, but reformation of the creeds in conformity (orthodoxy) with scripture. This shows much more interest in creedal integrity on Stevens’ part than Gentry’s refusal to apply scripture to the creeds in a meaningful way. Gentry assumes the creeds are absolutely infallible, and then uses the creeds (without Scripture) as if it is all he needs to overthrow another creedal system (preterism). Gentry is merely pitting his futurist creed against the preterist creed. But one creed cannot refute another. Only scripture (sola scriptura) can decide which creed is orthodox (straight in line) with scripture. So Gentry’s faith in his futurist creed as sufficient evidence against preterism is misplaced, and his creedal arguments carry no weight. All true Reformers (not Romanist-leaning, pseudo-protestant, pseudo-reformers) know that ultimately only scripture (sola scriptura) can expose the flaws in a creedal system (regardless of whether it is a futurist or preterist creed).
There was indeed a time when none of these creeds existed. By Dr. Gentry’s account of the situation, those who formed these creeds would have to have “little interest in the creedal integrity of the historic faith.” They changed the prior regime, to draft the new creeds in light of biblical truth. The accusation that Gentry makes against preterist could equally be made against those who formed the original creeds, as well as the Reformers in whose shoes he tries to step. If Reformation to bring the Christian faith back in line with biblical truth is showing “little interest in the creedal integrity of the historic faith,” then Gentry’s accusation is as true of Calvin and Luther as it is of the preterists. And as those of us who know church history realize, the same accusation was made against those men by the Roman Catholic church of their time. So the best we can say about this criticism of preterist is “we are in good company.”
Dr. Gentry, repeatedly criticizes preterism for the diversity that exists within its ranks. This is the height of hypocrisy from Dr. Gentry, as he contradicts his own claims. He states “although some contributors to this book are not preterists, I am-in the historic and orthodox sense of the term.” If disagree is not a sure sign of a heretical view for his fellow contributors, it could hardly be one for preterists. Since this argument from diversity is easily refuted by analogy to other Reformed Christians, it hardly warrants any more attention.
As we continue we note that Dr. Gentry is not beyond the use of hearsay and innuendo to make his point either. As flimsy as his biblical evidence is, his physical evidence borders on chimerical. He cites anecdotal evidence of ”immature Christians,” “cultish arrogance,” preterists disrupting “the unity and peace of the church,” and “obsessive single mindedness.” For now we will overlook the consistent theme that such accusations were often made of the reformers, since that point has already been made. We will just move on to examine Gentry’s evidence for such bold and inflammatory accusations. Of course any Christian interested in truth would want clear evidence before making such claims about others, would he not? So what is the good Doctor’s evidence for making such vile accusations against fellow Christians? Let us examine his own words to see:
The first evidence Dr. Gentry provides is embedded hearsay. Gentry tells the reader of the stories pastors have told him about what others have said or done. He is not specific. His claim amounts to nothing more than hearsay about hearsay. Such statement are the flimsiest of evidence not even admissible in most pre-trial proceedings, let alone in indictments of the nature Dr. Gentry makes. Of course, he thinks you, the reader, will not catch one to how tenuous this evidence is and will just nod your head in agreement and move on to his next point. The only possible shred of real evidence is his claim to have “witnessed hyper-preterists causing problems because of their obsessive single-mindedness.” Single-mindedness seems to be contagious if we try to follow the criticism of preterism. Once again, the disruptions and single-mindedness he accuses preterists of could easily be descriptive of many Reformed Christians with whom Dr. Gentry does fellowship. Like his argument from diversity, his argument from disruption fails to prove his point against preterism.
Just to add a little historical perspective to Dr. Gentry’s accusations look at what the church authorities said of the Reformer Martin Luther. Johannes Cochleaus is summarized as saying:
Luther is a child of the devil, possessed by the devil, full of falsehood and vainglory. His revolt was caused by monkish envy of the Dominican, Tetzel; he lusts after wine and women, is without conscience, and approves any means to gain his end. He thinks only of himself. He perpetrated the act of nailing up the theses for forty-two gulden- the sum he required to buy a new cowl. He is a liar and a hypocrite, cowardly and quarrelsome.
I guess, once again, preterists are in good company as Luther was divisive (quarrelsome), disagreed with the creedal church of his day and a heretic!
It is hard to understand how Dr. Gentry could find his arguments persuasive, especially being Reformed, not Roman Catholic. We can see a bit of Dr. Gentry’s motivation from a psychological level, however, as he laments his treatment at the hands of his ordination committee. (Mathison, 4) It may be his attempt to distance himself from the criticism leveled against him at that point in his life which leads him to such unfounded conclusions and accusation against Reformed preterists to this day. We will probably never know how this has affected his judgment on this matter. Experience suggests however that it could still be a quite prominent event in his thinking and the shaping of his theological arguments. None of us has our thinking, even in theology, untainted by our past. Dr. Gentry is a biased and hostile witness on these issues because of the events that happened in his past which directly relate to the issue of preterism.
Dr. Gentry is still not content to turn to theological or other argumentation concerning preterism. He must still remain on the level of personal attack as he declares about preterism that “its enthusiastic adherents loudly demand that those who disagree with them stop their full-time labors and deal with all their questions – or die the death of a thousand e-mails.” We need not address the lack of truth in this statement since it is obvious that most preterists who are addressing these issues have full-time jobs themselves. It seems Dr. Gentry is perfectly content to criticize preterists from a distance. He of course refuses to obey Matthew 18 and discuss his accusation with preterists personally and appears to see such an exercise of biblical restraint as offensive. Dr. Gentry may consider himself to be so important in the Christian world that he is no longer required to practice biblical charity or consideration for biblical modes of conflict resolution. He seems to find such attempts annoying, possibly because he has no real answers to give. Of course in keeping with this elitism he complains of the role of theological laymen in preterism completely ignoring the fact that most preterist teachers are highly experienced pastors and educated laymen. Since his accusation would clearly count against several of the apostles as well, we can dismiss them as the puffery that they are. This argument from elitism is no more persuasive than his previous in personum attacks.
The more we read the critics of preterism, it should be obvious to all but the most stalwart members of the opposing party, that most of the arguments leveled against preterism amount to little more than personal attacks and vain prognostications. It is sad that this is all that we seem to be offered, but not surprising since a direct attack through scripture is impossible. Scripture supports Preterism consistently as the other contributors to this volume have so adequately demonstrated. In lieu of a biblical argument, Dr. Gentry resorts to the ad hominem. We can closely examine the arguments he presents against Stevens since these are indicative of his contempt for all preterists. Dr. Gentry has made his attacks personal, rather than Biblical or theological, but we will attempt to focus on the issues instead of on Dr. Gentry personally. We can only pray that in the future, he will extend the same courtesy to us.
It seems redundant to keep reiterating the historic irony of Gentry’s claims against preterism, but he repeatedly belabors the issue of creedal history as if it is the most significant argument anyone could ever consider against preterism. He laments what can happen when preterism “shakes itself free of creedal constraints.” (Mathison, 6) He then continues by claiming that “hyper-preterism is constructing a new, aberrant theology; it is radically reworking the Christian system.” (6) Gentry’s article in Mathison’s book is his attempt to prove these unfounded claims. But as our cross-examination of his arguments will show, these accusations lack the support that even most rumors can boast.
While others in this volume have addressed the issue of the Resurrection, something must be said of the political hay Gentry tries to make of the resurrection. The first of his many tactics is the use of “guilt by association” to equate preterism with cult groups. This would allow him, by mere suggestion, to use weak arguments to do the heavy lifting for his insupportable claims. He tries, albeit in a footnote, to mention Mormons along with preterists in a vain attempt to invoke guilt by association. (footnote 20, page 7) This is such a cheap tactic of misdirection and obfuscation that it seems out of place in the writings of a man of the caliber of Dr. Gentry, yet this footnote is just his warm-up. He revisits this same logically fallacious nonsense over and over again throughout his chapter.
Acting as though such claims can be persuasive about the truth of preterism he continues stating that “we should note that some of Stevens’ followers have even become Unitarians.” (8-9) Why Dr. Gentry thinks this is relevant to his argument against preterism escapes even the farthest speculation of the logical mind. Does the fact that Arminius was Reformed disprove Reformed theology? Does the fact that many liberals, skeptics, atheists, Universalists, Amyraldians, and Hyper-Calvinists have come out of Reformed churches need to be noted as proof against Reformed theology? The fact that sinners who reject God’s truth exist in all churches is no more an argument against preterism than it is against Dr. Gentry’s own brand of Theonomic-Reconstructionist theology. Dr. Gentry, quite frankly, should be ashamed to have to resort to such low-ball tactics, but the fact that he does reveals volumes about his lack of any serious biblical arguments against preterism. If he could have refuted preterism with properly exegeted Scripture, he would have. Instead, he resorts to these shameful tactics that, if they were proper to be used, could be used to speak much more against his kind of theology, than ours. What does it tell us that most preterists come from the Reformed camp? Should this be noted as well? Perhaps that is why Mathison produced this book with Sproul’s and Gentry’s uncharitable articles at the front, to be used to “poison the well” and scare their people away from preterism before they get a Berean chance to examine the Biblical evidence for it. No objective truth-seeker should fall for that high-handed tactic.
Dr. Gentry continues such claims throughout his chapter. But he should realize that his claims are a two-edged sword that cut more against futurist Reformed theology than against preterism. Many more “heretics,” atheists, and deniers of scripture have sprung from Reformed churches than from preterist circles. Knowing that this tactic is not proper we do not wish to use it against Dr. Gentry, but he seems content to level such a specious argument against preterism. Instead of scripture, he brings the old shibboleth of “guilt by association.” How sad to have to read such tripe from a man of Dr. Gentry’s scholarly stature.
In keeping with this pattern of argumentation, Dr Gentry again makes a baseless accusation, supported only by his own presupposition: “Hyper-preterism, untethered from the anchor of historic Christianity, is being blown about by every wind of doctrine.” (10) This claim is not substantiated with any different or more compelling arguments than the Roman church’s claims that the Reformers were untethered from the One True Universal Church. Of course Dr. Gentry does make the promise that he will show that “hyper-preterism” is heresy, but as we examine his arguments and illogic we will see that he does no such thing. (10) As we move though Dr. Gentry’s arguments they become less and less grounded in scripture and reason and much more speculative and personal.
As we saw earlier, Gentry claims that tolerance and diversity were welcomed among those who drafted the volume against preterism, and then from the other side of his mouth, he claims that such tolerance is a sign of theological relativism and “extremist theology.” (10) Which is it Dr. Gentry? Or is it merely that diversity of opinion is allowable for those who agree with you against preterism, but unallowable for preterists? This is the old “privilege character” idea. Gentry seems to reserve for himself the freedom to take exception to certain articles in the creeds and confessions, but will not allow that same freedom to preterists? These double standards strike another blow to the credibility of Dr. Gentry’s testimony against preterists.
In our examination of Dr. Gentry’s arguments to this point, we should note that Dr. Gentry has still not addressed preterism from a scriptural standpoint. Instead he is making arguments about those who depart true Christianity from the preterist ranks (just as they do from his Reformed ranks). He is discussing what he sees as an unusual tolerance of differing opinions (which earlier in his chapter he called for among the various eschatological opinions of the writers of the current volume). For good measure he also uses progressive “guilt by association” fallacies. The latter was exhibited as he tried to associate preterists with theological liberals, Unitarians and Mormons with little more than a passing reference to the groups as being similar. If there are doctrinal linkages between preterism and those other groups, they definitely should be documented and refuted with Scripture, but Dr. Gentry offers little more than his own assertion that preterism is connected with these groups in some doctrinally-significant way.
Unfortunately, Dr. Gentry is not through. Just in case anyone is still scratching their head at his sleight of hand, he throws out the name of Jehovah’s Witnesses as well. He seems to be hoping that the mere mention of such groups will scare his readers away from preterism and make it unnecessary for him to provide any Biblical argumentation. (12) This is nothing more than “guilt by association” and “poison the well” tactics, and does nothing to substantiate Dr. Gentry’s case against preterism. It is mere political grandstanding, playing to the crowd, preaching to the choir. Surely Dr. Gentry can produce a better (Biblical) argument than this?
Since most heretical groups have sprung from futurist churches, the long list of associations would weigh more against futurists than preterists, if indeed such an argument were valid. But unlike Gentry, preterists need not resort to such desperate measures to make our point, when we have Scripture on our side. This is why we can progress through most of Dr. Gentry’s pages without quoting a single scripture. All one needs to refute a bald (unsupported with Scripture) assertion is another bald counter assertion. Most of the scriptures he does cite are often on tertiary subjects. Refusing to address preterism from Scripture, and instead relying on association, innuendo and creeds (instead of God’s Word), should signal to any Berean truth-seeker that foul things are afoot in Dr. Gentry’s claims against preterism.
Dr. Gentry wrote a tract entitled, “The Usefulness of Creeds.” By observing how he seemingly prefers using the creeds (instead of Scripture) against preterism, it implies that he considers creeds more valuable and authoritative (and useful) than Scripture. It is interesting to note here that the Roman Church leaders similarly found their creeds quite useful against the Reformers.
Dr. Gentry quotes what he calls an old adage, “Men are seldom opposed to creeds, until creeds have become opposed to them.” (13) Does that sound more like the Romanists or the Reformers? Of course it fails to substantiate his point on any level. Most soldiers are not opposed to a foreign nation until that foreign nation is opposed to them in war. That kind of argument fails to prove that opposition to the creeds is illegitimate. In fact, it is putting a stamp of approval upon the Romanist use of the creeds against the Reformers. I can just see the Romanists smiling at Gentry’s use of their argument and saying, “Reformers are seldom opposed to Roman tradition, until Roman tradition has become opposed to them.” They love Gentry’s seeming approval of their extra-biblical approach, and would not skip a beat turning it back upon him, demanding that he “come back to mama!” (i.e., “mother church” Rome) They can legitimately and consistently use that approach. Gentry cannot. Therefore, we have to reject his creedal arguments as “illegitimate, nugatory, and gossamer,” as David Chilton would say.
Of course Dr. Gentry is quite accurate in his claim that “breaking with historic Christian doctrine is a necessary starting point for cultic aberrations.” (13) But as an argument against preterism it begs the question, since it represents two uses of that fallacy. It begs the question that preterism has broke with historic Christianity, and it begs the question that preterism is a cultic aberration. These are both ideas that Dr. Gentry continues to assume as the foundation of his discussion. Dr. Gentry then elevates begging the question to an art form as he cites his arguments; he claims that preterism displays “a few danger signals that suggest that we may be witnessing the sprouting of a new unorthodox sect that could eventually blossom into a full-fledged cult.” Now he is not going to waste any space trying to prove these assertions or even show that they even support his conclusion. Dr. Gentry is merely waving his magic wand and hoping that by mere suggestion of guilt he can get the reader to overlook the unfounded nature of his mere assertions. I ask our readers not to be distracted by the thin facade of Dr. Gentry’s criticism and look beyond it to see the deeper biblical truths of preterism.
Dr. Gentry begins to cite these “danger signals” which he seems to have cleverly crafted to form his argument against preterism alone. His first “danger signal” is Creedal Resistance (13). Once again we see his sleight of hand as he tries to show how preterists and cultic groups share anti-creedalism. Of course he is insinuating such a common bond necessarily is evidence against preterism. This is again begging the question. Dr. Gentry has failed to show that preterists are anti-creedal just because they seek revision of the creeds as even his Reformed sect has done in the past. It would be just as illegitimate to say that the fact that Reformed churches use instruments in worship is a “danger signal” of liberalism because Unitarians use instruments in their worship. The logic is tenuous at best, and deceptively formulated at worst. The argument ignores the truth in favor of swaying opinion by emotion and rhetorical sleight-of-hand. Of course, thinking this to be a valid way of proceeding, Dr. Gentry, who seems to forget his Introduction to Logic course, uses the same fallacy to association preterist with Jehovah’s Witnesses. (14) Does Dr. Gentry believe that continual repetition of the same logical fallacy will eventually cloud the judgment to of the reader and help her forget that he has not produced a single scriptural argument against preterism? All we see from Dr. Gentry is rhetorical word play and logical fallacies.
Dr. Gentry’s second “danger signal” is a surprising one as it represents the missionary zeal all Christians should display. A zeal for truth should permeate all Christians, yet Gentry makes it a point of disdain calling it “Zealous calls to Follow” when preterists act like other Christians in this area. Of course knowing how weak these two points are, Dr. Gentry tries to go back to his well-worn path of guilt by association. He tries to “prove” that preterism is wrong by linking its past to the Church of Christ. It would be the same as a Baptist condemning a Reformed believer because they came out of the Roman Catholic church. Dr. Gentry’s attack is emotionally charged, yet quite ineffective in proving his claim.
Dr. Gentry’s further danger signals would almost be laughable if they were not so serious and not intended to damage to Christians. He laments that preterists celebrate the Lord’s Supper instead of remembering it. (19) Guilty as charged! I would only pray that all Christians would learn to celebrate God’s gifts. He also complains that Christian who are preterist see the Parousia as an important historical event. Again, guilty. Scripture also seems to think it is an important historical event (even most futurists agree on that point). Finally, Dr. Gentry decries the production of a preterist study bible. Since we have a Reformation Study Bible and a Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible used by many Reformed Christians once again, Dr. Gentry’s criticisms of preterism are equally applicable to his own brand of Reformed theology.
After much name-calling, bad logic, and personal attacks, we now proceed with the hope that Dr. Gentry will get into the substance of his argument a he begins a section entitle “The Importance of the Creeds.” (20) Dr. Gentry finally presents his first actual scriptural claim, that “scripture required the church to produce” creeds. Since most Reformed preterist do not deny this to be true, it is mere blustering to use such an argument as in opposition to preterism. Most of us would indeed agree with Dr. Gentry’s claim and especially with his quote from A. A. Hodge that “In a fundamental sense the creed is simply the way the church reads scripture.” If we take Gentry’s quote as true, then what, I must ask, is wrong with the church changing the way it reads scripture as God imparts continued grace and spiritual growth. Many former Arminians changed the way they read scripture when they became Reformed. Many atheists changed the way they read scripture when they became Christians. Many Roman Catholics changed the way they read scripture when they joined the Reformation. Since, as Dr. Gentry seems to agree, creeds are just the way the church reads scripture then it is hardly an argument against preterists that they do what the Reformers and converts have done consistently in the past.
If the Roman Catholic church was correct in the way it read scripture, the Reformation would not have been necessary. If all churches were correct in the way they read scripture, an eschatological Reformation would be unnecessary. But, the Reformation proves the church sometimes reads scripture wrong. It,, by simple syllogism follows, if creeds are simply the way the church read scripture, then creeds can sometimes be wrong. Simple logic prevails over veiled rhetoric.
Even in his creedal adherence Dr. Gentry picks and chooses which creeds to which he adheres. It is quite telling that in his recitation of creeds that the church follows, he fails to mention creeds that the church has followed with which he disagrees. If he can pick and choose which creeds he will follow, why does he have such a problem with preterists simply trying to bring the creeds more in line with the teaching of scripture? Why are some creeds definitive for Dr. Gentry, while others are not even worthy of being mentioned?
Dr. Gentry does hit the nail on the head with regard to the purpose of the creeds, although he fails to follow it to its logical conclusion. HE cites the Apostles creed as a creed formulated specifically to combat the Gnostic heresy. It was a polemical and militant creed, designed to preserve the church from the assault of Gnosticism. As such it must be read the Gnosticism in mind, not as a declarative of all that scripture teaches. If the creed fails to match the teaching of scripture, why should it be upheld for all generations? It makes me wonder what Dr. Gentry is trying to hide from searching minds when he constantly ridicules anyone who wishes to compare the claims of the creeds to the teaching of scripture. Even though he complains about such statements, it is indeed true that God’s word is inspired and infallible, manmade summaries of scripture are not, no matter how much Gentry seems to wish they were.
The Nicene Creed, as Gentry clearly points out, fills out, the doctrine of the deity of Christ. This necessary revision of or addition to the apostles creed brought creedal recitation more in line with scriptural teaching on the Trinity. But what was necessary for the Council of Nicea, is now called heretical and cultic by Dr. Gentry. Once again, the double standard of judgment sheds light on the weakness of futurist claims against preterism. Does Dr. Gentry have a clear answer as to why it was proper for Nicea to revise the Apostles creed to show the proper view on the deity of Christ? If as he has claimed, such revisions are a departure from the historic Christian faith at what point in history did it become so?
For a moment we need to turn the tables on Dr. Gentry briefly. Where in the historic Christian church is there any evidence of Dr. Gentry’s eschatological views? Since he reads his view back into the creeds instead of reading them out of the creeds, he is guilty of the same anti-creedalism he attacks preterists for, but on a much subtler, more nuanced way. The fact that he is able to hide his beliefs without a reinterpretation of the creedal language does not make him more historical linked to the church of the ages, it instead just makes him more creative. At least preterists are honest is saying that their view is not present in many of the creeds. Dr. Gentry cannot provide a single shred of evidence that those who drafted or used the creeds for centuries contemplated his eschatological views. The real problem is that he fails to see the real inconsistency in accusing others of undermining the creeds, while he himself departs from the spirit to live under their letter.
In trying to support the tenuous suggestion that his eschatological views were at least contemplated or allowed within the drafting community of the creeds, Dr. Gentry claims that “many items of eschatological interest have been left out of creedal constraints for further elucidation.” (26) He spends some space quoting others against the view that creeds are comprehensive, systematic and complete, to defend how his own novel theological concepts fit within the creeds, yet denies the same consideration to others. His reinterpretation of the creeds for his own use while decrying others for doing the same thing is either the height of hypocrisy or the height of self-deception. I see no other way around his constant inconsistency in condemning preterists for doing what he himself does while all the while maintaining that he is not doing it. Methinks he doth protest too much… Of course he attributes the confusion to others, despite his inconsistency and failure to apply the same standards to himself that he applies to others. I eagerly await his proof that any of those who wrote the creeds had his form of postmillennial preterism in mind when the creeds were drafted. Otherwise his theological view is just as much a departure from the spirit of the creeds as he claims the preterist departs from the letter of the creed. His is a technical adherence without the spirit while ours is a truly spiritual adherence without being bound by any text that violates scripture. By reading his theology back into the creeds, Dr. Gentry does the same thing as preterists, merely without the same level of integrity to admit that revision of these man-made, fallible, words of sin-filled humans may be necessary if they do not conform to the teaching of scripture.
It continues to amaze most preterists, how men like Dr. Gentry can respond to biblical arguments with quotes from men instead of God’s word. He outlines what true orthodoxy is by quoting Philip Schaff. (28) Do not underestimate the significance of this. He is attempting to show that preterism does not fit in history, but that is not the point. He must show that preterism does not fit with scripture, something that he does not even attempt in this response. The Reformation did not fit with history either, yet that was not the issue for the Reformers, scripture was. The reason the Reformers acted was not because of history, but because of scripture. Now Dr. Gentry tries to make history, the “we have always done it that way” argument, a refutation of preterism. It is baffling how he imagines this will hold any weight with anyone not already convinced.
Dr. Gentry turns his attention to specific views of preterists with which he disagrees. At his point in his discussion, he does engage in a type of pseudo-scriptural discussion in his comparison of interpretations of the resurrection. Seemingly knowing how weak his argument is he again resorts to his now tedious guilt by association argument. He again hopes that by merely mentioning cultic groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the same paragraph as preterists, he can create an emotional reaction that will overshadow his lack of evidence, logical argumentation, or refutation of preterism that was promised at the beginning of his chapter.
Of course this would be the perfect point in the discussion for Dr. Gentry or present his scriptural argument that refutes the preterist understanding of the resurrection. But once again we here from Clement, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and others. (30) Why the preterist should accept the authority of these men over scripture is something that Gentry fails to explain. His question begging is all too obvious. He claims the historical position on the resurrection is right because it has been the historical position. It is hardly the kind of evidence he promises, yet he finds it convincing. I can only pray that others will see through this thin veil of reason disguised as history and search the scriptures instead of Tertullian. We can indeed learns a great deal from the cloud of witnesses that have gone before us, but I daresay that there are many theological issues with which Gentry disagrees with the historical church. What makes the historical view authoritative on issues Gentry agrees with but irrelevant in issues he disagrees with? The inconsistency of Gentry’s position opens wide the chasm of doubt in his method and conclusions.
Moving from the resurrection, Dr. Gentry uses similar historical, but not scriptural, arguments against the preterist view of the Second Advent. He cites a future advent as “the virtually universal belief of the ancient church.” (32) The same argument has indeed been made of other theological viewpoints that Dr. Gentry consistently denies. Anabaptists make the same claim about adult-only baptism and immersion.  Roman Catholics make the same claim about sacramental re-sacrifice based on the statements of many of the same men Gentry quotes to support his eschatological viewpoint.  Why these men are authoritative for Dr. Gentry on eschatology, yet easily dismissed on sacramentology is a wonder. Where is the consistency in that? Chiliasts make the claim that pre-millennialism was the original view in the early church.  Why doesn’t Gentry accept their views of eschatology since they are using the same kind of historical approach to buttress their eschatology that Gentry is? One must wonder about Gentry’s consistency when he arbitrarily accepts the testimony of the early church on certain issues that he agrees with, while rejecting their testimony regarding things he disagrees with. Such appeals to uninspired and unauthoritative tradition are flawed from the outset. Ultimately, it matters not whether every uninspired church father in church history taught a certain doctrine. Christians do not decide truth on the basis of majority vote, nor on who can stack up the most or the earliest church fathers on their side. The only thing that can validate a doctrine is rightly-interpreted, inspired, infallible, and absolutely authoritative Scripture.
Gentry’s inconsistency seems even worse when we remember that he already applies many of the endtime prophecies to AD 70 in the same way we do, including many of the so-called “second coming” texts which two-thousand years of church tradition (including even “Reformed” theology) has consistently applied to the future. For instance, he has written two whole books, Before Jerusalem Fell and The Beast of Revelation, arguing strenuously for a pre-70 date of the book of Revelation and a pre-70 Nero beast. This forces him to apply many (but not all) NT eschatological texts to AD 70. And it appears that he arbitrarily assigns the rest of those events to the future because of his desire to remain within what he believes are the boundaries of the historic (i.e., creedal) church. It doesn’t look good for Gentry when the only justification he can muster for his arbitrary application of these eschatological texts to the future is that it is consistent with the creeds. He rejects the creeds’ future application of some of the eschatological texts, yet accepts the future application of others. Then he clobbers us for consistently applying all the eschatological texts to AD 70 using the very same hermeneutics that he uses for his AD 70 texts. What goes here? Is Gentry a privilege character? Is he the only one who has the right to arbitrarily pick and choose which creedal applications he will conform to? I fail to see any consistency in that.
I admit it is sheer speculation on my part and would welcome a showing by Dr. Gentry that his objections to preterism are scriptural and not merely a misguided loyalty to the traditional interpretations of the historic (i.e. creedal) church. He, like most protestants, pick and choose which historical positions to adhere to, so it seems disingenuous to reject some of that history while calling others who follow the same pattern “heretical.” Dr. Gentry draws an arbitrary line in the sand between what portions of church tradition he accepts and rejects. He does the same thing with prophecy, drawing an unnatural line between fulfilled and unfulfilled prophecy so he can still call himself creedal. If Dr. Gentry is able to decide which parts of church history are viable by reading them through the lens of scripture it makes one wonder what kind of special pleasing allows him to condemn preterists for exercising the same discretion.
Dr. Gentry makes a radical overstatement when he claims that “creeds arose as a response to division and error; they did not create the divisions.” This is historically naïve as the creeds were originally and often used as a power-base for the church in its persecution and excommunication of others in their midst who disagreed with the formula. While these actions may have indeed been the proper actions, to label such division as “unity” is doublespeak at its best. The irony of this statement springs to the fore as Gentry spends 60 plus pages using the creeds as a means to divide preterists from the rest of Christianity. He is using the creeds as a tool of division while claiming the creeds are not such tools.
While another able defender of biblical preterism is addressing the creedal objections specifically, I will cross-examine the “evidence” Dr. Gentry claims the preterist view of creeds presents against the truth of preterism.
First, Dr. Gentry claims that Stevens “poisons the well” by correctly pointing out that the creeds were formulated by majority vote and power struggles within the church. (34-35) Of course, as with his other arguments, Gentry offers no evidence that Stevens’ characterization of the creedal formulation is wrong, he just acts as if such a claim is offensive without telling the reader why. Why is speaking the truth about history somehow poisoning the well? It is quite ironic, once again, that Dr. Gentry laments the inconsistency of preterist argumentation while ignoring his own inconsistent application of the creeds, church history, and scripture. (35)
In an interesting twist, Dr. Gentry curiously accuses preterists of having “faulty assumptions that the theologians of the ancient church had no systematic, exegetical foundations for their eschatological views.” (36) Gentry himself declares the creeds only give us “a bare-bones eschatology.” (26) He also favorably quotes John Murray’s “The Creedal Basis of Union in the Church” as saying that the creeds do not represent “a commentary on the whole of scripture nor is it a systematic theology.” (27, quoting The Collected Writings Of John Murray, 1:283). Which is it Dr. Gentry? How can he commend one writer for saying that the creeds are not a systematic theology and then condemn another for saying basically the same thing? Again, inconsistency seems to be the watchword of Dr. Gentry’s criticism of preterism, as this conflicting view is expressed within 10 pages of his commendation of the same view! As another footnote to this discussion on ancient theologians, Dr. Gentry laments the lack of reading of the church fathers by preterists (36), a claim that again is based on his petty speculation with no evidence whatsoever. Interestingly, he also subtly contravenes this argument by never once quoting those church fathers and instead only quoting what others have said about them. He wishes for preterists to use these theologians works, but seems to find little or now value in them himself. He wishes to hold preterists to a higher standard than he is willing to impose upon himself.
As this portion of his argument winds down, Dr. Gentry provides a long litany of men who support the use of creeds to divide one group of Christians from another. (37-40) Of course it need not be mentioned that Dr. Gentry has already said that such division is not the role of the creeds; More inconsistency. Unfortunately, Dr. Gentry’s quotes are still begging the question. He has yet, 40 pages into is article, to prove that the creeds should hold such authority. He just says they do and then quotes others who say they do, without ever proving the case to be true. Historical practice can be wrong, even if thousands of people support it. The Reformation should have taught us that lesson. But some, like Dr. Gentry, still seem to need to learn that lesson again.
As expected Dr. Gentry tries to sidestep the scriptural argument by claiming that he has published several works that argue for “the historic, orthodox Christian view of eschatology.” (42) Since even contributors to the volume in which he makes this statement differ with his view of what the historical orthodox Christian eschatology is, we can dismiss such a claim as much puffery as much of the rest of his argumentation. Where is there any evidence of the partial preterism he espouses in the historical church?
To emphasize the bankruptcy of Dr. Gentry’s arguments, I would like to do a word experiment with one of his statements. He states, as a response to what he wrongly calls a false dilemma between scripture and the creeds: “Which would you rather throw our the window, the novel theological position of Ed Stevens or the conviction of the universal church of all ages?” (42) Now it takes very little imagination to recast this to prove its absurdity and the disingenuousness of Gentry’s attacks on preterists. One could imagine the Papal bull which declares “Which would you rather throw out the window, the novel theological position of Jean Calvin or the convictions of the Universal Christian church of all ages.” If the argument would hold no force against Calvin, it holds none against Stevens. Gentry then wants to move on to new ground.
Again, almost intuitively knowing the weakness of his argument, Dr. Gentry resorts to his “guilt by association” argument once more. Since the logical reader will see the hole in his argument, he tries to sway by emotion by labeling preterists as being “like” the Jehovah Witnesses. (42) The association holds no more weight at this point than it did in the earlier parts of Dr. Gentry’s chapter. But Dr. Gentry, after his interlude, wants to steer the discussion back to the creeds.
Although Dr. Gentry denies claiming that the creeds are infallible, he plays words games, making a statement that makes the same truth claim without saying the exact words. He calls the doctrines of the creeds “infallibly certain.” (44) Only the most imaginative lawyer, who argues the meaning of “is” and “property” on a regular basis could convince anyone that claiming that the doctrines of the creeds are “infallibly certain” differs in any real way from claiming the creeds to be infallible. Is pure sophism on Gentry’s part that tries to make a distinction between the two claims that encompass the same proposition. The proposition is more simply stated that the creeds cannot possibly be wrong, hence are infallible.
As the argument progresses, Gentry, seemingly realizing, he is losing the logical battle, decides he must, once again resort to personal attacks. He claims that the debate is with a “band of untrained theological innovators in the present.” (45) Since theological seminaries of are a novelty of the recent past, I can only assume that Gentry only calls preterists untrained because they did not attend the same school he did. Since many of the preterists involved in this debate have a great deal of ministry experience and a high level of advanced education, I can only assume the Dr. Gentry is willfully ignorant of these facts and hopes his impugning of the education of preterists somehow wins his argument for him. Unfortunately for him, the education of an individual, is not a logical evaluator of the truth of their arguments. God has often chosen the foolish to confound the wise. So even if Gentry’s statements about preterists were true, which they are not, it holds no force in proving preterists to be wrong. It is mere elitism masked as an argument. Even a basic logic course would teach Dr. Gentry how futile such a claim is to prove his point.
In a curious claim, Dr. Gentry cites the writing of new confessions in the Reformation as a view of creedalism he embraces. (46) In this case why would he object to preterists drafting new confessions as well? It would seem from Gentry’s accumulated argument, as long as preterists hold to “a” creed that is written and uniform among preterists, he could have little objection. If it was acceptable for those in the Reformation to draft new statements of belief, it is hypocritical to deny the preterists the same consideration today.
After many pages arguing that the creeds are universal statements of Christian belief from which true Christians cannot depart Dr. Gentry gives up the force of his argument in providing a quote from J.N.D. Kelly. He Quotes Kelly as stating that the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed was the only one for which “universal acceptance can plausibly be claimed.” (46 quoting Kelly, Early Christian Creeds, 296). Dr. Gentry has spent much ink and paper trying to prove that preterism is outside of Christianity because the creeds it seeks to revise were universally accepted through church history. He then quotes favorable a statement which directly contradicts that claim. Now the inconsistency in Dr. Gentry’s testimony against preterists reaches a fever pitch.
We see from these statements that Dr. Gentry defines the entire a debate which ensures that his unhistorical views are acceptable while those of the preterists are seen as heretical. Nowhere is this clearer than in his dispatch of Stevens’ claims concerning the creeds. Gentry states that “Millennial systems are not the issue.” (49) Of course they cannot be the issue or Dr. Gentry would have to defend his position as well. The historical church has no signs of his eschatological view either, but he must frame the debate to make inquiry into his own departure from historic eschatology irrelevant instead of the large beam that obstructs his view of the specks he seeks to remove from the eyes of others. Every single criticism Dr. Gentry levels against preterists could just as easily be used by other eschatological views against Dr. Gentry’s views. His views are novel; were not included in the original understanding of the creeds; and mark a departure from the historic Christian faith. It is only his mere unsupported assertion that makes his views immune to these criticisms while subjecting preterists to them.
Of course departure from confessions which other Reformed scholars deem to be as certain as the creeds is acceptable for Dr. Gentry. He allows for his departure from the Westminster confessions through amendments but denies preterists the same freedom. (54) Inconsistency has become the watchword of Dr. Gentry’s arguments.
Dr. Gentry showing signs the force of the arguments against him continues to poison the well, again mentioning Stevens’ past as being one who came from the Church of Christ. (56) Was Calvin wrong because he used to be a Roman Catholic? Hardly. Such fallacious arguments continue to mount as a frustrating part of Gentry’s entire argument against preterism. One hoping for a sound, scriptural, logical argument against preterism must look elsewhere, away from the name-calling, ad hominem, well-poisoning, and guilt by association arguments that represent the entire bulk of Gentry’s objections to preterism.
It should speak volumes to those honestly exploring these issues that Gentry takes several pages quoting and arguing that the language of the creeds are superior to the language of scripture and claiming that anyone who wishes to use the language of scripture is following the “pattern of ancient heretics.” (59) Since Gentry does not use scripture to support his claims against preterism and then laments those who see scripture, God’s infallible word, as taking precedent over man-made creeds, we must wonder where his loyalties lie. His fear of scripture and the Holy Spirit transform faith into scholastic dogmatism. In his conclusion, Gentry again tries to use his Guilt by Association argument this time with Joseph Smith. (61) Unfortunately for him, as the eyes of the reader is opened we can see that the same arguments are just as applicable to the Reformers and Gentry himself.
I must give credit where it is do and concur with one approach of Dr. Gentry. The inconsistency of his arguments and reliance on logical fallacies and guilt by association show “why many of us find interaction with” critics of preterism “frustrating, wasteful, and counterproductive.” When we want to discuss God’s word, they continue to discuss the words of men. When we want to discuss the biblical record, they want to play games and try to find someone to associate us with for emotional force. Instead of openly debating us they would rather caste aspersions and insults to try to dissuade people from listening without even disproving what we are saying. They apply one standard to their theological novelty and another to what they call aberrant in our theology. Such tactics are indeed frustrating and unbecoming those who claim to be leaders in the Reformed community.
Somehow Dr. Gentry is convinced that saying that preterists say similar things to group “x” somehow makes what preterists say untrue. He also seems to be convinced that saying that preterists disagree with man-made creeds automatically means that what they are saying is untrue. Finally, Gentry is convinced that the education level of a person determines whether their statements are true or false. All of these claims are not only wrong, they border on absurd. But they are the only arguments presented by Gentry against preterism.
As we assess the overall force of Dr. Gentry’s response to preterism we realize that he is dismissive and argumentatively weak in his assessment and criticism of preterist theology. I had hoped for a more substantial response from someone of his caliber and learning, but the name-calling, guilt by association arguments, and rhetoric gamesmanship are a thin veil over a weak argument. He presents very little evidence to support his accusation and connection between preterists and cultic groups, yet uses them to do most of the heavy lifting in his argument. Use of scripture is sparse and hardly ever on point. Finally, even where Gentry presents an occasionally cogent argument, the same argument could be used just as equally and with just as much integrity against the position of any Reformed believer as against the preterists. Dr. Gentry’s case is only able to stand up in a book sold to people who already believe its proposition. In genuine debate or in a court of law his flimsy evidence, hearsay, and logical fallacies would prove nothing other than a personal bias unfounded by fact, and more importantly unsupported by God’s word.
My only prayer is that, you, the reader, will evaluate these arguments for yourself and not let the emotional appeals, name calling, and associations drawn by Dr. Gentry to deter you from seeing what scripture itself teaches. In the end it does not matter what Dr. Gentry asserts, or what Ed Hassertt, or David Green argues. In the end the only question that needs to be asked is, “What does God say in His Holy Word?”
This article is not meant to be an exegetical defense of preterist theology, but rather an explanation of how weak Gentry’s arguments against preterism really are. Others in this volume present the biblical, historical, and theological basis for the truth of consistent preterism. With such sound, solid, biblical reasoning supporting preterism, and such bankrupt, incoherent, inconsistent, arbitrary, and illogical arguments raised against it, I pray that the reader will take the noble-minded Berean approach by “searching the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) Look to scripture and see if what we are saying is consistent with God’s infallible word. That, in the end, is what really matters about preterism – not how many insults a leader of the Reformed community can sling at it; not how many cult groups he can associate us with hoping to sully our name; not how many scholars he can get to agree with him; not how many creeds or church fathers he can stack up on his side. Only what God has revealed to us matters on this question. God’s Word is explicitly clear for those who honestly examine it. An honest examination of scripture can allow for no other conclusion than preterism. Read the rest of this volume closely. The lack of evidence, biblical exegesis and logical argument seen in Gentry’s criticism, is filled in exceptionally with the work of able biblical scholars and logicians. God is calling for a new Reformation away from the speculation of futurist theology and to a realization of all God has completely accomplished in history as predicted and revealed in His Holy Infallible Word.
I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word,that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
 Joseph Lortz, The Reformation in Germany, trans. Ronald Walls (London: Darton, Longman & Todd 1968), 1:296.)
 See: Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1); Justin Martyr (First Apology 66); Irenaeus (Against Heresies 4:33–32); Tertullian (The Resurrection of the Dead 8)
 See: Justin Martyr (Dialog with Trypho, sec. 2)