To begin with, let me point out that as a Full Preterist (“Hyper-Preterist”), I have offered more than a review of this book – being one of the co-authors in a Full Preterist book which is a direct response to WSTTB. This is a line by line, gracious, logical, and exegetical refutation of WSTTB. Our book can be ordered here on Amazon through Tree of Life Ministries House Divided: Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology – A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?
The authors of this book (WSTTB) combined (represent the Reformed community as a whole) do not refute “Hyper-Preterism,” but FORM a “House Divided” apologetic and ironically, actually form the “Hyper-Preterist” position. Let me explain from some of the evolving postions the authors of this book are taking (such as Mathison & Gentry) combined with some of its more traditional ones (such as Kistemaker):
1) The NT only teaches ONE Second Coming and the imminent time texts that are connected to this coming “demands” that it took place in AD 70.
a) A Tradtional Amillennialist such as Kim Riddlebarger notes that partial preterists (such as Gentry and Mathison) make the same mistake that the Dispensational secret rapture position does, because both end up teaching a version of three advents of Christ: “What is worse, if dispensationalists are correct about a secret rapture, then Jesus does not have two advents but three.” “This same difficulty must be faced by so-called “moderate” preterists, who tell us that the Parousia of our Lord already occurred in A.D. 70. “…If the Parousia actually occurred in A.D. 70 and if the second coming of Christ is still yet to come, how many coming of the Lord are there?” (Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism Understanding the End Times, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 130, 143, 260 n. 21). Traditional Amillennialists are also good at pointing out that the references to Jesus’ coming in the NT are inseparably tied to the general judgment and resurrection of the living and the dead when the principle of the analogy of Scripture is followed (which partial preterists are in absolute denial of, for to do so would to become a “hyper-preterist”). Simon Kistemaker who is an author in WSTTB would be a good example of an Amillennialist who denies the imminent time texts and yet can clearly see there connections to other passages that partial preterists aren’t willing to make (cf. WSTTB, 215ff.).
b) On the other hand, we are told by the Reformed partial preterists that the coming of Christ in the NT which is associated with the imminent time texts “demands” a preterist and AD 70 fulfillment/interpretation (Kenneth Gentry, FOUR VIEWS ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998, 43). Gary DeMar states, “Any student of the Bible who does not interpret these time texts to mean anything other than close at hand is in jeopardy of denying the integrity of the Bible.” (Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church, 4th edition Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1999, 393). To put a finer point on it, R. C. Sproul suggests that any eschatology which denies a literal interpretation of the New Testament’s time texts has adopted a liberal or neo-orthodox view of God and time: “When F. F. Bruce speaks of faith making the time be `at hand,’ this sounds all too much like Rudolf Bultmann’s famous theology of timelessness, which removes the object of faith from the realm of real history and consigns it to a super temporal realm of the always present hic et nunc [here and now].” (R.C. Sproul, The Last Days according To Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), 108-109). Sadly, this same view is so commonly articulated among Reformed and Evangelical believers that few seem to recognize its liberal and mystical implications or its exegetical lack of support. In the interest of preserving eschatological futurism, many have compromised the principle of scriptural analogy by sweeping away the plain and obvious meaning of the imminence texts. For example Anthony Hoekema, claims that in a “sense” the end is “always near,” (Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979), 126). To the contrary, this is nonsense! In so doing, conservatives such as Hoekema are unwittingly handling the Scriptures like Bultmann.
2) Traditional Amillennialism teaches us that the “last days” end with Christ’s one and final Second Advent to end the church age. Yet, partial preterists such as John Owen, Gary DeMar, David Chilton, and James Jordan tell us that the term “the last days” describes the end of the old covenant age in AD 70 (quotes and citations available in our book available on Amazon – Tree of Life Ministries).
3) Traditional Amillennialism teaches us that the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 16:27, Matthew 24-25 is describing Christ’s final Second Advent to usher in the general resurrection and judgment. Yet, partial preterists such as Keith Mathison and Gary DeMar claim that the coming of Christ in these passages took place between AD 30-70 and are being applied today in the new covenant age [the NT’s “age about to come”] (Keith Mathison, FROM AGE TO AGE THE UNFORLDING OF BIBLICAL ESCHATOLOGY, Phillipsburg NJ: P&R Publishing, 380; Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness Obsession of the Modern Church, Powder Springs, GA: Fourth revised edition, 1999, 189-201). Interestingly enough, Mathison changed his position that Matthew 25:31 was the “actual” Second Coming, to now claiming that the orthodox world and “Full Preterists” merely assume that it is a description of the Second Coming. Mathison and his co-authors in WSTTB main objection to “hyper-preterism” is that one cannot find our exegesis supported in the early church fathers. Question, “Mr. Mathison, where in the early church was Matthew 25:31ff. not understood as the final Second Advent and judgment and resurrection of the living and the dead?” Apparently Mathison can come up with evolving “new” “hyper-preterist” “private interpretations,” but we can’t. What DeMar and Mathison are unwilling to submit to, is that Matthew 24-25 FORM the FOUNDATION to the rest of the NT’s understanding of eschatology in such passages as 1 Thess. 4-5; 1 Cor. 15; 2 Pet. 3; & Rev. 19-22. Gentry now concedes that Mathison and DeMar’s preterist interpretations of Matthew 24-25 being fulfilled in AD 70 is still not a problem and doesn’t lead to full or “hyper-preterism.” Unfortunately for these men, no one and their Grandmother are buying that pitch or simply stated – bluff!
4) The Traditional Amillennialist and even Mathison himself, understands the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 unto everlasting life or shame, to be a description of the last and final judgment and resurrection event (WSTTB, Mathison-161, Strimple-297). And yet Kenneth Gentry has now changed his position to a “Hyper-Preterist” one claiming this resurrection was fulfilled in AD 70 (Kenneth Gentry, HE SHALL HAVE DOMOINION THIRD EDITION: REVISED & EXPANDED, Draper, VA: 2009, 538. Gentry’s objection to Dispensationalism’s teaching on multiple resurrections has now become moot; in that Gentry himself teaches multiple comings, judgments, resurrections, end of the age(s), Great Commissions, etc… If you thought Dispensationalism was seeing double, read Gentry!
5) The Tradtional Amillennialist teaches that the “end of the age” is a description of the end of the church age or new covenant age – throughout the gospel of Matthew and the rest of the NT, describing Christ’s Second Advent and the judgment and resurrection of the living and the dead. However, a partial preterist combination of Gary DeMar, James Jordan, and Peter Leithart teach us that the “end of the [this] age” in Matthew 13:40-43 & or Matthew 24:3 is a description of the end of the old covenant age in AD 70 (again, citations provided in our book available here at Amazon – Tree of Life Ministries).
6) The Traditional Futurist position in 2 Peter 3 is that this is a description of Christ’s final return to dissolve the “elements” of planet earth. However, Reformed partial preterists such as John Owen, John Lightfoot, Gary DeMar, Peter Leithart, James Jordan, etc…, understand this chapter to be describing the “elements” of the old covenant heavens and earth in AD 70. (Citations available from our book on Amazon – Tree of Life Ministries).
7) Most understand Romans 8 to be a description of the planet earth and yet John Lightfoot agrees with us that the “creation” here has nothing to do with the literal planet, but rather the hearts and minds of men (see my chapter in response to Mathison for the references). Reformed theologians combined take the “redemption” and “salvation” or “gathering” and “catching away” of Luke 21/Matthew 24 and Romans 8:18-23YLT; 13:11-12; 1 Thess. 4:15-17 as the same events and or were fulfilled in AD 70. Again the partial preterist postion that requires a first century fulfillment of the coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25 and the Amillennial position that uses the analogy of Scirpture principle to unite all of these texts, FORMS the full, true, or “Hyper-Prterist” position.
8) Many within the Reformed tradition such as Mathison and Gentry understand that the saving of “all Israel” in Romans 11 is future. And yet their Reformed partial preterist colleagues and friends such as Gary DeMar and James Jordan believe this passage was fulfilled by AD 70 and that there are no longer any legitimate covenantal Jews or Israel today. We agree.
9) These are concepts and citations that the authors of WSTTB hid from you and thus deceived the Reformed community.
10) The most ink in WSTTB was spilled over and dedicated to the argument of – “Hyper-Preterists can’t be correct because their view wasn’t taught by the early church fathers or the creeds which we all now contain interpretations of the Scriptures that are “infallibly certain” and thus cannot nor should be challenged!” They have come up with “private interpretations” of the Scriptures!” This of course is the regurgitation of the Roman Catholic apologetic used against Luther when he was accused of being prideful and coming up with his own private interpretations of justification. Where was the Reformed view of forensic justification ever taught prior to Luther among the early church fathers or in any creed?!? We thus answer their foolish argument according to its own folly. And it simply is not true that we have come up with our own private interpretations, we have combined the exegesis of the Reformers into a consistent and exegetical position that honors the analogy of Scripture. We honor the creeds when they state that they indeed historically have been in error (and can be now) and are thus subject to change under the authority of God’s Word. Therefore, our approach is both Reformed and Orthodox – “Semper Reformanda” (“Reformed and Always Reforming”) and “Sola Scriptura” (“by Scripture alone”). Unfortunately the authors of WSTTB have adopted a “Solo Creedo” or “Hyper-Tradtionalism” approach to eschatology and in their “debate” interaction with us.
11) In our book, “House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?, Ramona, CA: Vision Publishing, 2009, we expose Mathison and his co-authors – demonstrating that indeed the emperor has no clothes on! I hereby challenge Keith Mathison to a formal debate at any Reformed seminary over our respected chapters in both of our books. A good Calvinst isn’t afraid to have someone read an Arminian book along side of his in order to form an educated decision over the debate. Often times Arminians are so scared of Calvinism that they purge their pulpits in their churches of men beginning to see the light, or the teaching staffs and libraries in Bible Colleges of anything Calvinist because they have seen the power of the exegesis and logic of the position. As Calvinst Full Preterists, we aren’t afraid of you studying both sides of the debate. We welcome continued and even oral debate – unfortunately the authors of WSTTB do not. Read both books prayerfully and make an exegetical and educated decision and not an emotional one. To my 5 point Calvinist colleagues and brothers in Christ, remember there was probably a time when you first heard of limited atonement and thought to yourself, “Are these people crazy, have they not even read John 3:16?” And once you actually took the time to study the position you embraced it as not only being logical but exegetical. I remember when I was at the Master’s College and when I converted from 4 point Calvinism (“confused Arminianism” according to Sproul) to 5 point Calvinism in the early 90’s, many IGNORANTLY called me a “Hyper-Calvinist.” I of course was not as I neither a “Hyper-Preterist.” They make up their own terms in order to scare people away from studying our position. Besides studying my way out of the compromised and illogical postion of 4 point “Calvinism,” I also converted from the traditional Amillennial view of one Second Coming and the compromised and inconsistent partial preterist view of R.C. Sproul’s (“confused futurism”) to the exegetical and Biblical preterist position. I am watching many students doing the same in spite of the dishonest approach from men such as the authors of WSTTB have taken.
In Christ (2 Cor. 1:20),
Michael J. Sullivan
PS – “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience would be neither right nor safe. God help me. Here I stand, I can do no other.” MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546)