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Preterist Gangrene: Its Diagnosis, Prognosis and Cure

Martyn McGeown



I. Introduction
II. Diagnosis: Gangrene!
III. Prognosis
IV. Cure
V. Conclusion


I. Introduction

The Apostle Paul warns in II Timothy 2:17-18 of two false teachers in the church at Ephesus. These two heretics, Hymenaeus and Philetus, were preterists. They taught that the great eschatological event of the resurrection of the dead was past already. In doing this they overthrew the faith of some in the church (v. 18). Paul warns Timothy that heresy, and this preterist heresy in particular, would eat "as doth a canker" (v. 17). The word "canker" means gangrene. The warning is clear. Heresy spreads. It spreads like gangrene, the death of body tissues resulting in black, putrefying, foul-smelling flesh. Gangrene untreated spreads along the affected limb and leads to the death of the body. Usually the only remedy is amputation of the diseased area.

Preterism is the heresy which maintains that most or all of the eschatological events prophesied in Scripture have been fulfilled already in the past. Postmillennialists, who envisage a "Golden Age" for the Church in which the world is Christianised, consign the New Testament prophecies concerning the Great Tribulation and persecution of the Church, the fearful and widespread apostasy from the truth, and the rise of Antichrist to the past. These events were fulfilled, say the postmillennialists, in A.D. 70 when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans. Some are moderate, partial or inconsistent preterists. Full, extreme, consistent or hyper-preterists relegate not only those prophecies to the past, but they also teach that all New Testament prophecy, including the resurrection of the dead (which they, like Hymenaeus and Philetus, spiritualise), the final judgment and even the Second Advent of Jesus Christ occurred in A.D. 70. There is therefore no future coming of Christ at the end of the world. We are already in the new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness dwells (II Peter 3:13). This world will probably go on forever, or, if it does not last eternally, the Bible has nothing to tell us about the future.

How are preterism and gangrene related? This paper will expose the preterism of modern postmillennialists, especially the Reconstructionists. We will concentrate our attention on the Reconstructionist movement because the men of that movement are the most prolific authors in the Postmillennial camp and the most vocal opponents of Reformed Amillennialism, which they deride as pessimistic eschatology or "pessimillennnialism." Representative figures in that movement are Gary North, Gary DeMar, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., and David Chilton. This paper will argue that their preterism is spreading like a gangrene through the body of Reformed truth, devouring vital doctrines and key texts, leading eventually and inexorably to full-blown hyper-preterism. For now modern postmillennialists are resisting hyper-preterism1 but this paper will contend that eventually their system must collapse under its own inconsistency. It must succumb to the gangrene of the Philetian and Hymenaean heresy.


II. Diagnosis: Gangrene!

In order to assess how serious the condition of the modern postmillennial Reconstructionist patient is, we will first examine how much of his eschatology has been consumed thus far by the preterist gangrene.

A. The gangrene has devoured Matthew 24:1-34 and most of Revelation

Signs of disease begin to appear first in the preterist exegesis of Matthew 24 and in the interpretation of the book of Revelation. Gary DeMar writes concerning the Olivet Discourse, "All of the events in Matthew 24:1-34 are fulfilled. Their meaning is associated with a past generation. When we read of wars, earthquakes, plagues and famines in our generation, they are not prophetic signs for our day."2 David Chilton is more emphatic:

Everything Jesus spoke of in this passage, at least up to verse 34, took place before the generation then living passed away. "Wait a minute," you say. "Everything? The witnessing to all nations, the Tribulation, the coming of Christ on the clouds, the stars falling … everything?" Yes.3

Concerning the book of Revelation Chilton writes, "For us, the great majority of the Revelation (i.e., everything excluding a few verses which mention the end of the world) is history: it has already happened."4 He adds a few pages later:

The Book of Revelation is not about the Second Coming. It is about the destruction of Israel and Christ’s victory over Rome. In fact, the word coming as used in the book of Revelation never refers to the Second Coming. Revelation prophesies the judgment of God on the two ancient enemies of the Church; and while it goes on to describe briefly certain end-time events, that description is merely a "wrap-up," to show that the ungodly will never prevail against Christ’s Kingdom. But the main focus of Revelation is upon events which were soon to take place.5

Kenneth Gentry, Jr. agrees: "The references in Revelation to [Christ’s] coming have to do with His coming in judgment, particularly upon Israel."6 R. C. Sproul, a popular Evangelical, but not a Reconstructionist, is also infected with the preterist disease: "I am still unsettled on some crucial matters. I am convinced that the substance of the Olivet Discourse was fulfilled in A.D. 70 and that the bulk of Revelation was likewise fulfilled in that time-frame."7 Happily, Sproul does not rule out a future fulfilment:

That does not exclude the possibility of a future manifestation of the beast in accord with a primary and secondary schema of prophetic fulfilment. But is such a schema necessary if the events foretold in Revelation concerned the imminent judgment of the Jewish nation and the destruction of Jerusalem?8

These first signs of gangrene are alarming.

B. The gangrene has eaten key eschatological figures

The church has nothing to fear from a future, persecuting Antichrist according to leading postmillennialists. He died in the first century. The prevailing view among preterists is that the Beast of Revelation was the Emperor Nero who died in A.D. 68. Gentry identifies both the Man of Sin (or Lawlessness) and the Beast as Nero: "The Man of Lawlessness is Nero Caesar, who also is the Beast of Revelation."9 The restrainer in II Thessalonians 2 is the Emperor Claudius:

The Man of Lawlessness was alive and waiting to be "revealed." This implies that for the time being Christians could expect at least some protection from the Roman government … When Paul wrote II Thessalonians 2, he was under the reign of Claudius Caesar … While Claudius lived, Nero, the Man of Lawlessness was without power to commit public lawlessness. Christianity was free from the imperial sword until the Neronic persecution began in November, A.D. 64.10

Concerning the "Man of Sin" DeMar writes, "Without ever being able to identify the man of lawlessness we can conclude that he appeared and disappeared in the first century."11

Gentry has dedicated a whole book to the thesis that the Beast of Revelation was Nero: "It is evident that the initial, paradigmatic role, extreme cruelty and length of Nero’s persecution of Christianity fit well with the role required in Revelation for the Beast."12 Therefore, concludes Gentry, "we do not have the Beast and a Great Tribulation to look forward to in our future."13 Lorraine Boettner, a non-Reconstructionist postmillennialist, writes, "The best opinion, we believe, identifies the man of sin with the Roman emperor, or the line of emperors at that time."14 Chilton claims that because of the "Emperor cult" by which the Roman Caesars demanded worship "Paul called Caesar the man of sin."15 DeMar agrees: the Beast is "buried somewhere in the world today."16 A few pages later he writes, "Two beasts are mentioned in Revelation 13: a sea beast representing Rome and a land beast representing Israel. The land beast promotes the efforts of the sea beast and can only operate under the direction and authority of the sea beast."17 Gentry identifies the second beast as arising from Israel. It ought be noted that Gentry and other postmillennialists insist that the judgments poured out upon the earth in Revelation refer to the "land" of Israel, hence they translate the Greek (ge) as land, not the earth: "The ‘second beast’ is a minion of the first beast (Rev. 13:11-12). He arises from ‘the land’ (tes ges), i.e., from within Palestine. This is probably Gessius Florus, the Roman Procurator, who caused the Jewish War," writes Gentry.18 Chilton identifies the second beast as the Jews: "The Jewish leaders, symbolized by this Beast from the Land joined forces with the Beast of Rome in an attempt to destroy the Church."19 As for the Antichrist, Gentry depersonalises him: "Antichrist is not an individual, malevolent ruler looming in our future. Rather, Antichrist was a contemporary heretical tendency regarding the person of Christ that was current among many in John’s day."20

Other major eschatological figures are "preterized" as well.21 Gentry is "convinced beyond any doubt" that Babylon or the Harlot of Revelation is "first century Jerusalem."22 Chilton agrees with Gentry: "Babylon, that Great Harlot-City, is old, apostate Jerusalem."23

C. The gangrene has swallowed key eschatological events

The preterists consign not only major eschatological figures, but also important eschatological events to the past. The "falling away" (i.e., the apostasy) of II Thessalonians 2:3 was the Jewish rebellion, not a falling away of professing Christians from the truth of the Gospel. Boettner writes, "The apostasy or ‘falling away’ (v. 3) was then the Jewish apostasy which would not reach its climax until the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersal of the Jewish people."24 Writes Gentry concerning this text:

Probably Paul merges the two concepts of religious and political apostasy here, although emphasizing the outbreak of the Jewish War, which was the result of their apostasy against God. The emphasis must be on the revolt against Rome because it is future and datable, whereas the revolt against God is ongoing and cumulative.25

Concerning the warning about "perilous times" in the last days in II Timothy 3:1 ff., Gentry writes that Paul

… is speaking of things that Timothy will have to face and endure (v. 10, 14). He is not prophesying regarding the constant, long-term process of history … It is the logical error of quantification to read this reference to (some) seasons of perilous times as if it said all times in the future will be perilous … Postmillennialists are well aware of the "seasons" of perilous times which beset the church under the Roman Empire and at other times.26

Chilton agrees: "The ‘Great Apostasy’ happened in the first century. We therefore have no Biblical warrant to expect increasing apostasy as history progresses; instead, we should expect the increasing Christianisation of the world."27

The Great Tribulation also occurred in the past and will never be repeated. Chilton claims, "The Great Tribulation ended with the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70."28 In his commentary on Revelation, Chilton makes the same claim: "Every Biblical indication regarding the Great Tribulation leads to the plain conclusion that it took place during the generation after Christ’s death and resurrection."29 The opening of the seven seals (Rev. 6) spells the doom of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The first seal (the white horse) is "a picture of the Roman army victoriously entering Israel toward Jerusalem."30 The second seal (the red seal) "speaks of the eruption of Jewish civil war."31 And on it goes. Locusts from the bottomless pit (Rev. 9:2) have already been unleashed upon Jerusalem:

Jerusalem is given over to Satan and his demonic legions which flood the city to possess and consume its ungodly inhabitants, until the entire nation is driven into suicidal madness.32

The "great mountain burning with fire" which was cast into the sea was apostate Israel which was destroyed in answer to the prayer of Matthew 21:21-22.33 Such is the calibre of the preterist exegesis of John’s Apocalypse!

Gary North is another advocate of this view. Lampooning the modern evangelical obsession with end times’ prophecy he writes,

Customers of most Christian bookstores too often prefer to be excited by the misinformation provided by a string of paperback false prophecies than to be comforted by the knowledge that the so-called Great Tribulation is long behind us, and that it was Israel’s tribulation, not the church’s.34

Boettner also rejects emphatically a future Great Tribulation "at the end of the age."35 Gentry concurs with Chilton and North:

We do not have the Beast and a "Great Tribulation" to look forward to in our future … the Tribulation has already occurred, as Scripture said it would, in the first century "birth pangs" of Christianity (Matt. 24:8, 21). Revelation, then, does not leave us with biblical warrant to view earth’s future as a "blocked future" of despair. The woes of Revelation have already occurred!36

There is abundant, clear evidence that the Great Tribulation was an event of the first century. It punctuated the end of the Jewish era and the Old Covenant: the separation of Christianity from its Jewish mother, as by "birth pangs" (Matt. 24:8).37

D. The gangrene has consumed key eschatological concepts

Reconstructionists teach that the New Testament terms "the last days," "the end of the age" and other concepts refer to the age of the Jews before the Christian era which began in A.D. 70. This gives the preterist gangrene ample opportunity to spread. The word end (Greek: telos) in Matthew 24 (vv. 6, 13, 14) "is not the end of the world, but rather the end of the age, the end of the Temple, the sacrificial system, the covenant nation of Israel, and the last remnants of the pre-Christian era."38 Chilton continues

What is often missed is the fact that the expression the last days, and similar terms are used in the Bible to refer, not to the end of the physical world, but to the last days of the nation of Israel, the "last days" which ended with the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.39

The period spoken of in the Bible as the "last days" (or "last times" or "last hour") is the period between Christ’s birth and the destruction of Jerusalem.40

Gary North agrees with Chilton’s assessment,

Christians have jumped to the conclusion—a wholly erroneous conclusion—that the "last days" spoken of in the New Testament refer to the last days of the church (or to the misleadingly identified "Church Age"). This conclusion is not warranted by the various biblical texts. The last days spoken of in the New Testament were eschatological last days only for national Israel, not for the New Covenant church. The "last days" were in fact the early days of the church of Jesus Christ … we are not living in the last days and never will be.41

If "the end of the age" texts and the "last days" texts refer to the period before A.D. 70, such texts cannot be used as proofs of a future Second Advent of Christ. Behold how gangrene spreads!

E. The gangrene destroys the Christian hope

Gentry vigorously denies that the postmillennialist "discourages hope in the second advent in deference to the historical conquest of the kingdom."42 Nevertheless, his colleagues are quite happy to imagine that the Second Advent is in the distant, distant future. This does not perturb them in the least. Chilton writes,

The "1,000 years" of Revelation 20 represent a vast, undefined period of time. It has already lasted almost 2,000 years and will probably go on for many more. "Exactly how many more years?" someone asked me. "I’ll be happy to tell you," I cheerfully replied, "as soon as you tell me exactly how many hills are in Psalm 50.43

While Chilton "cheerfully" contemplates a Second Advent many more years in the distant future, the Reformed Amillennialist prays even more fervently, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus!" More depressing still, or it would be, if it were true, Chilton writes, "This world has tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of years of increasing godliness ahead of it, before the Second Coming of Christ."44 This is depressing because a world of "increasing godliness" is not our hope. A world of increasing godliness is not the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. In a world of "increasing godliness" there will still be sin and death. Even if much lawlessness is restrained by Christian governments, something the Postmillennialists envisage occurring in almost every nation of the world during their much vaunted "Golden Age," there will still be that ongoing struggle with sin against which we must struggle our whole life long (Rom. 7:24). That "Golden Age," no matter how glorious the Postmillennialist’s description of it might be, is a poor substitute for what we long for: perfect fellowship with Jesus Christ, the resurrection of our bodies on the Last Day and the final vindication of our God on the Day of Judgment. We desire to see every knee bowing to Jesus Christ and every tongue confessing that He is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11). We desire to see all the wicked rooted out so that there is no blaspheming tongue left to insult our Saviour, Jesus Christ (Matt. 13:39-40). We echo the words of W. J. Grier, who was writing in a slightly different context:

Those who are already citizens of heaven, and have such prospects of enjoying the full privileges of their citizenship, may well turn up their noses at ten thousand times ten thousand millennial grapes. Like the patriarchs, "they desire a better country, that is an heavenly" (Heb. 11:16). Their affection is set on things above, not on things on earth.45

We turn up our noses at the Postmillennial dream. Elsewhere Chilton writes, "we probably have thousands of years to go before the End. We are still in the early Church."46 This is bad news, an intolerable delay. Must we endure tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years in this sin-cursed world? Will it take that long to gather the elect? Must the creation continue to groan for millennia before Christ returns? We hope not. Nor do we believe so. Gary North has no sympathy for the prayer of the Reformed Amillennialist. Only one dangerously benumbed by preterist gangrene could write the following horrifying paragraph:

That prayer (i.e., "Come quickly, Lord Jesus") is legitimate only when the one praying it is willing to add this justification for his prayer: "Because your church has completed her assigned task faithfully (Matt. 28:18-20), and your kingdom has become manifest to many formerly lost souls." This is surely not a prayer that is appropriate today. (It was appropriate for John because he was praying for the covenantal coming of Jesus Christ, manifested by the destruction of the Old Covenant order. His prayer was answered within a few months: the destruction of Jerusalem).47

We ask with bewilderment: when will it be appropriate to make this petition? When the world is Christianised may we pray it? If a Christianised world is really the apex of the Kingdom of Christ would it not be impious to pray for its end when we see it established? Should we not rather keep asking God to delay the Second Advent so that we and our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren may enjoy the "Golden Age" for millennia, so that Christ can be glorified in His Kingdom on earth for as long as possible? Thus the Second Advent is postponed indefinitely, at least in the mind of the Postmillennial Reconstructionist infected with preterist gangrene.

F. Other gangrenous errors

Chilton’s erroneous preterist interpretation of Revelation leads him into two other errors. First, he teaches the abhorrent idea that God divorced His adulterous Old Testament wife in order to marry the Church, the Bride of Christ. Other Reconstructionists concur with this revolting teaching. Writes Chilton, "With the final divorce and destruction of the unfaithful wife in A.D. 70, the marriage of the Church to her Lord was firmly established."48 "The destruction of Jerusalem was … the final declaration that the Harlot has been divorced and executed, and God has taken to Himself a new Bride."49 Gentry agrees: "Revelation was given as God’s divinely inspired and inerrant pre-interpretive Word on the destruction of the temple order and the divorce of Israel as God’s covenant wife."50 "The Seven-Sealed scroll seems quite certainly to represent God’s "bill of divorcement" handed down by the judge on the throne against Israel."51

God never divorces His wife in order to take to Himself a new spouse. The Church of the Old Testament, the true Israel within the nation of Israel (Rom. 9:6) was always married to Jehovah God. The reprobate within the nation were never married to God, although outwardly they belonged to the covenant people and were obligated to be faithful to Him. Jeremiah 3 teaches that God gave Israel a bill of divorce (v. 8), yet a few verses later God exclaims, "Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you" (v. 14). The lesson is clear: God does not divorce his elect church in order to remarry. He declares Himself—despite her apostasy—still to be married to Israel. Ezekiel 16 is even more striking. After the prophet describes in great detail Israel’s whoredom and unfaithfulness, God promises mercy: "Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant" (v. 60). The Old Testament Church and the New Testament Church are the same woman (Gal. 3-4), grown to maturity. The woman who brought forth the Messiah (OT Israel) is the same woman who is then persecuted by the dragon (the NT Church), as Revelation 12 clearly teaches. God did not stone to death one woman in order to marry another as Chilton and his ilk teach.

Chilton’s second error is his sacramentalism. He interprets the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:9), which occurs after the destruction of the harlot, as the Eucharist. Chilton makes the characteristically non-Reformed statement concerning public worship, demonstrating how preterist gangrene has eaten into his ecclesiology: "The Eucharist is the centre of Christian worship; the Eucharist is what we are commanded to do when we come together. Everything else is secondary."52 He even tries to argue that "one of the primary issues in the controversy of the Protestant Reformation was the fact that the Roman Church admitted members to the Eucharist only once a year."53 Thus Chilton denies that the preaching of the Gospel (not the sacraments) is the chief means of grace in direct contradiction of the Reformed creeds (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 25).

G. What the gangrene has left

We have seen how far the preterist gangrene has spread. Only a scant eschatology remains after preterism has devoured most of the New Testament prophecies. Many Postmillennialists such as Gentry, DeMar, North, and Chilton are not yet full-blown, consistent preterists. Not yet. One full-blown preterist was J. Stuart Russell who taught that the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment and the Second Advent of Jesus Christ are all in the past. There is, according to Russell, no future Coming of the Lord Jesus. All was fulfilled in A.D. 70.54 Russell’s preterist gangrene was fatal. Like Hymenaeus and Philetus, Russell denied the Christian hope, he erred concerning the faith and was guilty of "profane and vain babblings" (II Tim. 2:16-18). Like Hymenaeus and Philetus, Russell’s word eats like gangrene. Despite the fact that Russell was obviously a heretic, Christian Reconstructionists laud his writings. Although Gentry refers to Russell as an advocate of "radical preterism," he still praises The Parousia as "masterfully written."55 DeMar expresses similar sentiments.56

Of the remnants of eschatology which have not yet succumbed to the spread of preterist gangrene mention may be made of the Second Advent, the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment. DeMar writes that the bodily coming of Christ is "still a future event."57 Gentry concedes that "it is true that [Christ] will come at the end of history, bringing about the resurrection and the judgment (Acts 1:11, I Thess. 4:13ff., I Cor. 15:20-26)."58 Chilton condemns a denial of any future bodily resurrection or judgment as "a heretical form of preterism."59

The question is, can the preterist gangrene stop here or will it spread further?


III. Prognosis

A. The gangrene is spreading

The preterist gangrene has not stopped at eating up the Antichrist, the Man of Sin, the Great Tribulation, the Apostasy, the Olivet Discourse and almost all of the book of Revelation. Not at all. This gangrene is particularly voracious. Astoundingly, Reconstructionist writings are replete with examples of specific texts concerning the Second Coming of Christ which they claim have been completely fulfilled in the past.

Titus 2:1360 does not teach a future Second Advent according to DeMar. This appearing

… is neither a distant event, nor the bodily return of Christ … The blessed hope, therefore, is the coming of the fullness of the gospel in the "glory of Christ." This fullness was accomplished with the obliteration of the symbols of the Old Covenant: the temple, the priesthood and sacrificial system.61

Chilton’s preterism eats up key texts in Paul’s epistles to the Thessalonians. About I Thessalonians 5:1-362 and II Thessalonians 1:6-10,63 Chilton writes, "clearly Paul is not talking about Christ’s final coming at the end of the world."64 Concerning II Thessalonians 2:1,65 II Thessalonians 2:866and Hebrews 10:2567 Chilton avers:

The first generation Christians were continually exhorted to look forward to the fast-approaching Day when their adversaries would be consumed and the Church "synagogued" as the definitive Temple.68

DeMar agrees: "there is no doubt that Jesus’ ‘coming’ in II Thessalonians 2:1 should be attributed to the first century."69

Chilton deals likewise with Hebrews 10:37.70 According to Chilton, James 5:7-9,71 I Peter 4:772 and Philippians 4:573 were all fulfilled in A.D. 70.74 Chilton even argues for the fulfilment of II Peter 3:10-1375 in an appendix to DeMar’s Last Days’ Madness.76 DeMar himself alludes to this when he writes that "the horrendous events of A.D. 70 silenced the mockers [of II Peter 3]."77 Later in the same book DeMar is more emphatic. Since the same simile "like a thief" is used in II Peter 3:13 and I Thessalonians 5:2, "it is obvious that [they] … are speaking of the same day."78 If that is the case, II Peter 3:13 (the melting of the elements with fervent heat, the new heavens and new earth, etc) must have occurred in A. D. 70! Gentry, however, disagrees with Chilton’s interpretation: "It seems clearly to refer to the consummation, and not to A.D. 70 … he is not contemplating the destruction of the old Jewish order, but the material heavens and the earth."79 How can Gentry escape the logic of DeMar’s position if he remains consistent?

Incidentally, if the "coming" of the Lord in James 5:7 refers to A.D. 70, one wonders how that "coming" (the destruction of Jerusalem) would offer any succour to believers oppressed in their wages (vv. 4-9). It fits perfectly with the Second Advent when all wrongs will be put right in the final judgment.

North shows how far the gangrene has spread in his theology when he writes:

The fact is, the vast majority of prophecies in the New Testament refer to this crucial event (i.e., the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70), the event which publicly identified the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, and which also marked the triumph of rabbinic Judaism over priestly Judaism, Pharisee over Sadducee, and the synagogue system over the temple.80

Preterist gangrene!

B. The Prognosis is poor

The prognosis is poor because the same arguments used to "preterize" Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation can be used to "preterize" many of the remaining texts to which inconsistent preterists appeal in order to teach a future Second Advent.

Consider I Thessalonians 4:13ff. Chilton was able to "preterize" I Thessalonians 5. What logical reason is there not to preterize I Thessalonians 4 with it? There is nothing in the context to suggest that the "day of the Lord" (v. 2) is a different event from the "coming of the Lord" (4:15) in the previous chapter, especially since chapter divisions were not in the original. In fact the context shows that Paul has not changed the subject at all. Do there appear to be insurmountable obstacles to "preterizing" I Thessalonians 4? The only obstacle is a lack of imagination. True, I Thessalonians 4 demands the sound of a trumpet (v. 16). That did not stop the preterists in Matthew 24:31.81 Gentry spiritualises the trumpet: "Matthew 24:31 portrays the ultimate Jubilee of salvation, decorated with the imagery from Leviticus 25. Following upon the collapse of the Temple order, Christ’s messengers will go forth powerfully trumpeting the gospel of salvific liberation."82 Moreover, it should be noted that a trumpet in Scripture is associated with the resurrection of the dead on the last day (I Thess. 4:16; I Cor. 15:52). In addition the words of I Thessalonians 4 (I argue as a fool, a preterist fool) suggest that Paul believed that he would be alive at the Coming of the Lord ("we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord …"). Normally, such language gives the preterist justification to "preterize" a text. This is how men such Gentry, DeMar and Chilton deal with the language in Matthew 24 ("they shall deliver you" [v. 9]; "when ye therefore shall see" [v. 15], etc). Why not here also?

Jonathan Edwards offers an excellent explanation of this kind of language (where the apostle writes "we" instead of "they" in I Thessalonians 4 and in other places, as if he expected personally to be alive at the Second Advent):

We have a instance of a like nature with this, in the words of Joseph to his brethren, Gen. 50:25. "God will surely visit you and ye shall carry up my bones from hence." He does not say, God shall visit your posterity, and they shall carry up my bones from hence. Yet it cannot be argued, that Joseph concluded that the redemption out of Egypt would be in that generation.83

Only inconsistency prevents the "preterization" (for now) of I Thessalonians 4.

The same problem exists in Philippians. Having "preterized" Philippians 4:5 it can only be a matter of time before the gangrene spreads and eats up Philippians 3:20-21.84 If the Lord is "at hand" (meaning, according to preterists, that He was coming within a generation) in the former text (4:5), how can the same awaited Lord from heaven in the latter text (3:20-21) be coming in the distant future? If the gangrene is allowed to devour this text, the resurrection of the body on the last day will disappear from Reconstructionist eschatology.

Preterists insist that the end in view in Matthew 24 is the end of the (Jewish) age, not the end of the world. After Jesus makes the startling prediction of the destruction of the Temple in Matthew 24:2, the disciples ask in verse 3, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" We note that the end of the world here is literally "the end of the age" (sunteleias toou aioonos). DeMar seizes on these words and writes "these questions are related to the destruction of the temple and the Old Covenant redemptive system and nothing else."85 The argument from the word "age" is a dangerous one, however. Jesus uses the same language elsewhere to describe the end of the world. He employs the word "age," which is common in the New Testament. Consider the following. How long can the gangrene be halted so as not to swallow up these texts?

Matthew 13:39 speaks of the harvest at the end of the world (sunteleia toou aioonos). At this time the tares are burned (v. 40) and the wicked are severed from among the just (v. 49). In addition Matthew 28:18-20 speaks of the Great Commission and the promise of Christ’s presence with the Church until the end of the world (sunteleias toou aioonos). Why must preterists consider this worldwide preaching of the Gospel to be future when the worldwide preaching of the Gospel in Mathew 24:14 occurred according to them by A.D. 70? Chilton appeals to Colossians 1:23 and Romans 1:8 as "proof" that "the gospel was indeed preached to the whole world and to every creature (incidentally, the same language is used in Mark 16:15, MMcG), well before Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70. This crucial sign of the end was fulfilled."86 Probably the main reason the postmillennial preterists desire to keep Matthew 28 is because they need it as a "proof" of their precious, future Christianizing of planet earth, a "worldwide transformation of society through the preaching of the gospel and individuals’ widespread positive response to the message of redemption."87

Preterists are wrong in their identification of the two ages. They are not the age of the Jews and the age of the New Covenant. Rather they are this present age and the eternal state. Luke 20 makes this clear. Christ speaks there of "the children of this world" (Greek: aioon, i.e., age, v. 34) and the ones "worthy to obtain that world" (Greek: aioon, i.e., age, v. 35). The difference between the two "worlds" is that in this age men marry; in that they will not. It is simply a distinction between time and eternity.

We saw how the concept "the last days" refers, in the preterist mind, to the last days of the Jewish system, which was dismantled in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the Temple and the nation of Israel.88 If that is the case, why cannot "the Last Day" (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24; 12:28) be the last of those days, and therefore a day which is past? I John 2:18 speaks of the last time (lit., the last hour), which, according to DeMar, refers to the past.89 How can the "last hour" be past, but the "last day" be future? Such a riddle must be solved by the preterists. The best solution, of course, would be repentance from their preterism. The "last day" must be protected from preterist gangrene because it clearly refers to the Second Advent of Christ with the final judgment and the bodily resurrection of all men. Chilton sees this. He is not ready to "preterize" the bodily resurrection: "Wherever the Bible mentions the Resurrection it is speaking of the Last Day – the final judgment, the ultimate day of the Lord."90 How long he and his preterist colleagues will be able to maintain this inconsistency remains to be seen.

It is also dangerous to "preterize" Titus 2:13. The word "appearing" (epiphaneia) in one of the three main words used by the Spirit to denote the Second Advent. This noun appears also in II Thessalonians 2:8 which, we pointed out, has already been consumed by preterist gangrene. Moreover, the word appears in II Timothy 4:1, 8.91 Guard these texts well from the spread of gangrene because they teach the final judgment of the "quick and the dead" at the appearing of Christ. If these texts are lost, so is the final judgment from the eschatology of preterists.

The second word denoting the coming of Christ is "revelation" (apokalupsis). Since Chilton was able to preterize II Thessalonians 1:7 where the words "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed" are literally "in the revelation of the Lord Jesus," he may soon find himself "preterizing" I Corinthians 1:792 where the same Greek word is used. Indeed, DeMar already shows a tendency in this direction.93

The third and most common word for Christ’s Coming is Parousia. Of the instances of this noun the following texts have already been "preterized" in the Reconstructionist camp: Mathew 24:3, II Thessalonians 2:1, 8 and James 5:7-9. The word Parousia is also used in Matthew 24:37, 39 in which the days before the Coming of Jesus are compared to the days of Noah. Not a Golden Age by any means! DeMar writes, concerning these texts,

Is the "coming of the Son of Man" in Matthew 24:37 different from the "coming of the Son of Man" in verses 27 and 30? There is no indication that Jesus is describing two comings separated by an indeterminate period of time … Similarly there is little evidence that the "coming of the Son of Man" in Matthew 24:27, 30, 39 and 42 is different from the "coming of the Son of Man" in 25:31. Compare 25:31 with 16:27, a certain reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.94

These words are ominous. Matthew 25:3195 refers to the final judgment! Is nothing safe from the preterist gangrene? The remaining texts which contain the word Parousia are I Corinthians 15:23 (a reference to the resurrection of the dead), I Thessalonians 2:19, 3:13 (which are dangerously close to the already "preterized" I Thessalonians 5:1-3) and I John 2:28.

Once preterist gangrene starts it spreads inexorably!


IV. Cure

To prevent the death of a man infected with gangrene radical treatment is required: amputation of the infected limb! We now take up the scalpel and cut out the preterist gangrene. If it is too late to save the Reconstructionist, whose prognosis is poor, we can at least cut out the first sign of gangrene as a warning to others.

A. Cutting the preterism out of Matthew 24

Matthew 24 does not refer exclusively to A.D. 70. It is true, of course, that Christ predicted in astonishing detail the horrors which befell Jerusalem that fateful year, but this in no way exhausts the fulfilment of Christ’s Olivet Discourse. Preterists point to their favourite text in an effort to dispute this. Did not Christ say, "this generation will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled" (v. 34)? He did. We have no quarrel with the preterists on the word generation. Like them we believe that this word (genea) refers to the people living when Christ spoke these words. We do not explain this by trying to render the word translated "generation" as "race," so that Christ would mean that the Jewish race would not pass away until all these things are fulfilled.

The main point missed by the preterists in Matthew 24 is simply this: Christ’s disciples asked Him about two events, the destruction of the Temple and the end of the world. This the preterists vehemently deny. Chilton is representative: "it cannot be made to fit into some 'double-fulfilment' scheme of interpretation."96 Chilton’s protest notwithstanding, we have shown that the phrase "end of the world" (v. 3) refers elsewhere to the end of all things (Matt. 13:39-40; 28:18-20). Given this truth it is the contention of the Reformed Amillennialist that in Matthew 24 we have the blending of two events, and the use of typology. The conflagration of A.D. 70 is an historical type of the end of the world. All these things were fulfilled upon that generation as to their historical type, but not in reality or exhaustively. This is Anthony A. Hoekema’s position who describes the passage as an "intermingling" of language appropriate to A.D. 70 and Christ’s Second Advent. The language of Matthew 24 has a Jewish flavour.97 Christ speaks "in terms which had local ethnic and geographic colour. We are not warranted, however, in applying these predictions only to the Jews, or in restricting their occurrence only to Palestine."98 Kim Riddlebarger, another Amillennialist, agrees:

The destruction of the temple, cataclysmic as that would be, was not the end of the age, nor did the Lord return in A.D. 70 … [In Matthew 24] the Bible does not teach a coming of Christ in judgment which is invisible and localized to Jerusalem. Christ’s Coming is the Day of Judgment on the nations when the inhabitants of the earth, great and small, cower in fear.99

The Great Tribulation with the abomination of desolation was fulfilled in its type in A.D. 70. At that time the Romans did indeed desecrate the Temple. Cornelis Venema points out, that just as Daniel’s original prophecy of the abomination of desolation had a double fulfilment (in Antiochus Epiphanes and in A.D. 70), so we can expect a further fulfilment of this prophecy as well: "According to this understanding, the tribulation which characterizes the circumstances of the faithful church in the interim period will reach its most intensified expression in the period preceding his second coming."100

It is simply absurd to teach that everything in Matthew 24:1-34 was neatly fulfilled in its entirety in A.D. 70. The sorrows (birth pangs) of verse 8 did not bring forth the Christian church out of her Jewish womb,101 rather these earthquakes are the groaning and travailing (in birth pangs) of the creation described in Romans 8:22, which passage has in view the bodily resurrection of the saints on the Last Day. The signs set forth in Matthew 24, although many of them (war, famine, earthquake, persecution, false teachers, apostasy, etc) characterized the period before A.D. 70, continue throughout the New Testament age. They continue to be signs to us. The Coming of the Son of Man has not yet occurred. It was not merely a coming of Jesus in judgment upon Jerusalem. It will be as visible as lightning (v. 27), the inhabitants of the world will "see" it (v. 30); it will be cataclysmic (v. 29) and audible ("with a great sound of a trumpet"). It will involve the gathering of the elect (v. 31). None of this occurred in A.D. 70. The preterist exegesis of Matthew 24 is no less absurd than the premillennial dispensationalist twisting of I Thessalonians 4 where a "shout," "the voice of the archangel" and "the trump of God" (v. 16) can be interpreted to mean a secret, silent, pre-tribulationist rapture!

B. Excising the preterism from key eschatological figures

The preterist teaching that Nero was the Beast is wishful thinking. Since Gentry looks for a world in which "external persecution must gradually fade away" and "for a day in history when evil will be reduced to negligible proportions" Antichrist must not be allowed to loom on the horizon to spoil his postmillennial dream.102 Simon Kistemaker points out the difficulties with the preterist argument concerning the number 666:

First, to arrive at the number 666 as the numerical value of Nero’s name, one has to add the name Caesar … Only when one adds an extra letter n to the name Nero, resulting in Neron Caesar, is the full number 666 achieved. But then one has to resort to the Hebrew spelling of Neron Caesar.103

As Hendriksen points out, numerology gets one nowhere, because "the Apocalypse is a book of symbols; it is not a book of riddles!"104

Revelation 13:18 teaches that the number 666 is the number of a man. This could be translated the number of man, since Greek has no indefinite article. The absence of the article underlines the essential nature of the beast. He is thoroughly human and his kingdom is anthropocentric. This gives us a valuable clue, not to identifying who exactly the Antichrist will be, but to understanding his nature. Hoeksema gives a good explanation of the number. Seven is the number of God’s covenant, and six is one short of seven:

The world with all its fullness, with all its powers, but without God, under the influence of sin – that is the symbolism of the number six … [The Beast] is the climax of the development of the Man of Sin. It is the kingdom of man, of the creature, without God, without the seven.105

Another argument used in favour of Nero’s being the Antichrist is that he is the sixth king of Revelation 17:10. Writes Chilton, "The first five Caesars were Julius, Augustus Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius. One is: Nero, the sixth Caesar, was on the throne as St. John was writing the Revelation."106 Kistemaker shows this line of argument to be highly dubious: "There are at least nine different ways of counting these Roman emperors, and a lack of consensus is evident."107

The first Beast from the sea is the political aspect of Antichrist. The second Beast is ecclesiastical, the false church, which serves the first Beast. The meaning is clear. Political Antichrist will be aided and abetted by an apostate ecclesiastical body that calls itself (falsely) the Church of Christ. The second Beast is not Israel, for Israel is not Christian in any sense. She never identified herself with Christ. She openly repudiated Him. The second Beast looks like a lamb (i.e., like Christ) and speaks like a dragon (i.e., like Satan). This is the false church, whose heretical teachers look like Christians, call themselves Christians, but who spew forth the doctrines of devils to deceive the people (Rev. 13:11; I Tim. 4:1).

Preterism’s "trump card" for identifying the Antichrist as Nero is the chronological element. The Beast had to be a figure of the first century because the book of Revelation makes clear that the events described in the book would occur shortly after they were written. Christ was only coming quickly (in judgment upon Jerusalem) in the first century. Now He comes slowly. The "time texts" do not pose a problem for the Reformed Amillennialist. Jonathan Edwards points to some Old Testament time texts which are relevant to this debate. For example, in Haggai 2:6-7 God declares that he would shake the heavens and the earth in "a little while." This was fulfilled in Hebrews 12:26, over 500 years later.108 As Mathison writes, "The Old Testament prophets regularly used terms implying ‘nearness’ to describe events which did not occur for centuries."109 In addition, if Revelation was exhaustively fulfilled in A.D. 70 and was written before Nero’s death in A.D. 68, it had relevance only for a few years. To modern Christians it has nothing to say. We are now left completely in the dark as to what the future might bring. Prophesy ended with A.D. 70. God has told us nothing except that there will be a Second Advent in our future at the very end, but since this is preceded by no signs, we have no indication when that will be.

Our contention is that this prophecy has abiding relevance to all of history. It shows how Christ is realizing the divine decree concerning all things for the good of His Church and with a view to His Second Advent. Christ is coming quickly. He was coming quickly in the first century. Throughout history He has been on the way. He is coming quickly today. He is preparing all things for His Coming. There is no delay, only a seeming delay (II Peter 3:9). All the elect must be gathered, the wicked must fill up the cup of their iniquity, Christ’s sufferings in His body, the Church must be completed (Col. 1:24). This takes time. From our perspective it requires a lot of time. We see the signs of His Coming and with outstretched necks we look for that glorious day (Luke 21:28).

C. Amputating the preterism from key eschatological events

The Man of Sin in II Thessalonians has not yet been revealed. The Apostasy will prepare the way for Antichrist’s appearance. Preterism’s exegesis of II Thessalonians 2 is erroneous. The falling away (the apostasy) in verse 3 is not a reference to Jewish rebellion. It is the apostasy by those who professed Jesus Christ from the truth of the Scriptures and therefore from Christ Himself. The Jewish rebellion against Rome before A.D. 70 is irrelevant. The apostle emphasizes apostasy from the truth in this chapter. The ones who apostatise "received not the love of the truth" (v. 10). Therefore they believe a lie (v. 11). These apostates are contrasted with the Thessalonians who believed the truth because they had been chosen unto salvation (v. 13). The conclusion is an exhortation to stand fast in the truth (v. 15). The apostasy cannot refer to thoroughly apostate Judaism, represented by the Pharisees and Sadducees of Christ’s day, because the falling away of the text is future to the Apostle Paul. In Paul’s day Judaism as represented by its leaders was already apostate. Only an elect remnant believed in Christ.

The preterist gangrene has blinded the Reconstructionists to the fact that apostasy has characterized the Church from the very beginning. Most of the Epistles of the New Testament are written to correct doctrinal errors as churches departed from the truth. God has been pleased to exercise His Church by the scourge of apostasy and heresy (I Cor. 11:19). The early church fought Arianism and a host of Christological heresies. Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism plagued the Church in the Middle Ages and developed into Romanism. The Reformed churches had constantly to battle heresies. Today whole denominations are swallowed up by apostasy. Postmillennial preterists, who cannot see this obvious sign of the Coming of Christ, deride Reformed Amillennialists as newspaper exegetes. We reply that they are Josephus exegetes. They appeal to Josephus’ writings concerning the events around A.D. 70 to support their exegesis. This becomes evident as one reads their books.

The Man of Sin was not a Jewish high priest, Nero or any other first century figure. None of those men sat in the temple of God declaring themselves to be God. The Man of Sin will arise out of the professing Christian church. Nero was not consumed with the spirit of Christ’s mouth and destroyed with the brightness of Christ’s Coming (v. 8). That wretched enemy of the church committed suicide. Clearly, at the time of the Second Advent Antichrist will be enthroned, man will have reached the height of his power with his thoroughly man-glorifying and Christ-defying kingdom of 666 and the true Church will be suffering severe persecution. The Church will be called to suffer for Christ. As Riddlebarger explains it, "Christ’s church will be a suffering church because heresy and false teaching will rise from within and because Christ’s enemies will persecute his people from without."110 Does this mean a failure for the Church as the postmillennialists imagine? Is success for Christ’s Church to be measured by numbers converted, and the earthly power and influence of Christians? If that were the case Christ has never been successful in history. This is not the victory of Christ’s Church. Christ is victorious when His elect are all gathered, preserved and defended (no matter how many of them there are in comparison to the wicked). Christ’s people conquer even when they are counted as the off-scouring of all things. Indeed in all these things (not through avoiding all these things) they are more than conquerors (or "hyper-conquerors") through Christ who loves them (Rom. 8:37). Even Gentry admits this: "Those Christians who faithfully endured the persecutions of the first (and later) centuries were indeed victorious."111

With this assessment of the last days the Reformed creeds agree. Lord’s Day 19 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks what comfort it is to the Reformed believer that Christ will judge the living and the dead. The answer is "That in all my sorrows and persecutions, with uplifted head I look for the very same person, who before offered himself for my sake" (Q. & A. 52). Clearly the framers of the Catechism expected Christ to return to a persecuted church, not one exercising earthly dominion. The Second Helvetic Confession smites postmillennialism, thrusting the scalpel deep into its preterist gangrene:

And from heaven the same Christ will return in judgment, when wickedness will then be at its greatest in the world and when Antichrist, having corrupted true religion, will fill up all things with superstition and impiety and will cruelly lay waste the Church with bloodshed and flames (Daniel 11). But Christ will come again to claim his own, and by his coming to destroy the Antichrist, and to judge the living and the dead … We further condemn Jewish dreams that there will be a golden age on earth before the Day of Judgment, and that the pious, having subdued all their godless enemies, will possess all the kingdoms of the earth. For evangelical truth in Matthew 24 and 25, Luke 18 and apostolic teaching in II Thessalonians 2, and II Timothy 3 and 4, present something quite different (Second Helvetic Confession, chapter 11).

The future is rosy for the Church in that she will have the privilege to suffer for Christ’s sake (Acts 5:41) and that, despite all the machinations and cruelty of the Antichrist, the gross deception of the false prophet, and the abounding apostasy all around her, not one elect believer will ever be fatally deceived as to depart from Christ (Matt. 24:24). The Church will be gathered, every elect person will be brought to repentance (II Peter 3:9) and then Christ will return on the clouds of heaven and in the glory of His Father to deliver His Church. Satan’s attempt to build his kingdom of godless man will end in damnation for him, for the Beast, for the false prophet and for all the reprobate wicked. The future is not rosy for the Church in the sense that she can expect to be snatched away in the Rapture before the Man of Sin is revealed. Nor can she expect to exercise earthly dominion.

The Church must be warned. Perilous times shall come (II Tim. 3:1). There will be massive defections from Christ. The love of many will grow cold (Matt. 24:12). Men will not endure sound doctrine (II Tim. 4:3). Godless men will gather themselves together against Christ and His Church. Pressure will be put on the Church to compromise with the world. Christians must not be taken by surprise and lulled into a false sense of security either by premillennial Dispensationalists or by preterist Postmillennialists. The Church needs warnings. Nevertheless, the Church must not fear. Christ is at the right hand of God, directing all things, including Antichrist, apostasy and tribulation, to the goal of His own Second Advent for the salvation of His Church and the glory of God.


V. Conclusion

It is revealing that the Holy Spirit uses the word "gangrene" to describe heresy in general, and preterism in particular. Gangrene means the putrefaction of tissues. It causes death of the flesh making in turn black and emit a revolting stench. It causes the tissues to swell, and if untreated causes septicaemia and finally death. Gangrene spreads rapidly to the nearby tissues, destroying them also. It should be treated as a medical emergency. Heresy is the same. It, too, is a stench in God’s nostrils, and offensive to the Christian who loves Christ and His truth. It spreads rapidly through the body of the church, poisoning and killing members and sometimes destroying whole congregations and denominations. The Scriptures are replete with warnings concerning the spread of heresy.

We have demonstrated that Postmillennial Reconstructionists are preterists. Gentry classifies himself a preterist, albeit an "orthodox" one.112 The champions of postmillennial Reconstructionism all teach that Antichrist, the Great Tribulation and the Great Apostasy occurred in the past. Therefore the Church, unencumbered by any threat of a future Antichrist, a shrinking Church and widespread persecution, must be busy christianising the world and bringing about a carnal kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth. The gangrene of preterism begins there. Crucial eschatological chapters (Matthew 24, II Thessalonians 2 and most of the book of Revelation) are swallowed up in this way. We saw as well how key texts, which have traditionally been used to prove the Second Advent, no longer do so as preterism eats them like a canker. We have demonstrated the inconsistency of the preterist and argued how other texts may be "preterized" as the gangrene spreads inexorably up the limbs of Postmillennial Reconstructionism.

The question must be asked: given that most of the eschatological texts have been devoured by the preterist gangrene, what is there to stop the men of Postmillennial Reconstructionism from adopting full-blown preterism? We appreciate the fact that a future Second Advent still occupies a place in their theology, but after "preterizing" most of the New Testament, where will they find Biblical evidence to support this eschatology? Principles work through. How many generations will it take before the Reconstructionist movement, whose champion David Chilton happily informs us that the Second Advent is probably hundreds of thousands of years in the future; whose champion Gary North argues that the prayer "Come quickly, Lord Jesus" is inappropriate for today’s Christians; and whose champion Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., extols the book of hyper-preterist J. Stuart Russell as "masterfully written," will adopt full-blown preterism’s denial of a future Second Advent, a final judgment and a bodily resurrection of all men?

Let us beware of the preterist gangrene. It is spreading in reputedly Reformed churches. It is tolerated or even promoted by influential men. Reformed ministers must repudiate it and warn their people against it. At the first sign of the disease Reformed elders must act swiftly to eradicate it. Preterists must be disciplined, for their own sake and for the sake of the Reformed body, lest they overthrow the faith and the hope of the Church. That hope is the certain, future, promised Second Advent of Jesus Christ. The Christian hope is not the postmillennial dream. We do not have our hearts set on a Christianised world. Our hearts are set only on the Second Coming of Christ. We echo the words of the Belgic Confession 37: "Therefore we expect that great day with a most ardent desire to the end that we may fully enjoy the promises of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Even, so, come Lord Jesus, come quickly!


1 Keith A Mathison (ed.), When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism (Phillipsburg, PA: P&R Publishing, 2004). It ought to be noted that not all the contributors to this work are postmillennialists.
2 Gary DeMar, Last Days’ Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church (Atlanta, GA: American Vision Inc., 1997), p. 327.
3 David Chilton, Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion (Tyler, TX: Dominion Press, 4th printing, 1994), p. 86; italics Chilton’s.
4 Chilton, Paradise, p. 164; italics Chilton’s.
5 Chilton, Paradise, p. 166; italics Chilton’s.
6 Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., The Beast of Revelation (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 2nd printing, 1994), p. 26; italics Gentry’s.
7 R. C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998), p. 158.
8 Sproul, Last Days, p. 189.
9 Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., He Shall Have Dominion (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1992), p. 389.
10 Gentry, Dominion, p. 390.
11 DeMar, Madness, p. 260.
12 Gentry, Beast, p. 55.
13 Gentry, Beast, p. 182.
14 Lorraine Boettner, The Millennium (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, 4th printing, 1966), p. 214.
15 Chilton, Paradise, p. 177.
16 DeMar, Madness, p. 240.
17 DeMar, Madness, p. 246.
18 Gentry, Dominion, p. 410.
19 Chilton, Paradise, p. 182; note his translation of earth (ge) as land.
20 Gentry, Dominion, p. 374.
21 The verb "preterize" is one invented by the preterists and indicates that a verse or concept has been so interpreted as to apply only to the past. In this sense it will be used throughout the paper.
22 Gentry, Dominion, p. 379.
23 David Chilton, Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Tyler, TX: Dominion Press, 3rd printing, 1990), p. 583.
24 Boettner, Millennium, p. 214.
25 Gentry, Dominion, pp. 388-389; italics Gentry’s.
26 Gentry, Dominion, p. 493; italics Gentry’s.
27 Chilton, Paradise, p. 225.
28 Chilton, Paradise, p. 88.
29 Chilton, Vengeance, p. 114.
30 Gentry, Dominion, p. 403.
31 Gentry, Dominion, p. 403.
32 Chilton, Paradise, p. 170.
33 Chilton, Vengeance, pp. 238-239.
34 Gary North in Gentry, Beast, p. xviii.
35 Boettner, Millennium, p. 202.
36 Gentry, Beast, pp. 182-183.
37 Gentry, Dominion, p. 349.
38 Chilton, Paradise, p. 89.
39 Chilton, Paradise, p. 112; italics Chilton’s.
40 Chilton, Paradise, p. 115; italics Chilton’s. See also Chilton, Vengeance, p. 198.
41 North, in Gentry, Beast, pp. xiii-xiv; italics mine.
42 Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. (ed.), Thine is the Kingdom: Studies in the Postmillennial Hope (Vallecito, CA: Chalcedon Foundation, 2003), p. 164.
43 Chilton, Paradise, p. 199.
44 Chilton, Paradise, pp. 221-222.
45 W. J. Grier, The Momentous Event: A Discussion of Scripture Teaching on the Second Advent (Edinburgh: Banner, repr. 1997), p. 55.
46 Chilton, Vengeance, p. 56.
47 Gary North and Gary DeMar, Christian Reconstruction: What it is, What it isn’t (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991), p. 179; italics mine.
48 Chilton, Vengeance, p. 473.
49 Chilton, Paradise, p. 191.
50 Gentry, Beast, p. 183.
51 Gentry, Dominion, p. 401.
52 Chilton, Vengeance, p. 476, italics mine.
53 Chilton, Vengeance, p. 477. Chilton’s references to Calvin merely prove that Calvin preferred frequent partaking of the Lord’s Supper, not that frequency was a "primary issue."
54 J. Stuart Russell, The Parousia: A Critical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord’s Second Coming (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, repr. 1983).
55 Gentry, Dominion, pp. 270-271.
56 Quoted in David J. Engelsma, Christ’s Spiritual Kingdom: A Defense of Reformed Amillennialism (Redlands, CA: The Reformed Witness of Hope Protestant Reformed Church, 2001), pp. 134, 144-145.
57 DeMar, Madness, p. 256.
58 Gentry, Beast, p. 25.
59 Chilton, Vengeance, p. 531.
60 Titus 2:13: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."
61 DeMar, Madness, p. 216.
62 I Thessalonians 5:1-3: "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."
63 II Thessalonians 1:6-10: "When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day."
64 Chilton, Paradise, p. 120.
65 II Thessalonians 2:1: "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him."
66 II Thessalonians 2:8: "And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming."
67 Hebrews 10:25: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
68 Chilton, Vengeance, p. 392.
69 DeMar, Madness, p. 256.
70 Hebrews 10:37: "For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry." See Chilton, Paradise, p. 121.
71 James 5:7-9: "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord … the coming of the Lord draweth nigh … the judge standeth before the door."
72 I Peter 4:7: "But the end of all things is at hand."
73 Philippians 4:5: "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand."
74 Chilton, Paradise, pp. 121-122.
75 II Peter 3:10-13: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
76 Chilton in DeMar, Madness, pp. 485-498.
77 DeMar, Madness, p. 189.
78 DeMar, Madness, p. 266.
79 Gentry, Dominion, p. 304.
80 North, in Gentry, Beast, p. x; italics mine.
81 Matthew 24:31 "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
82 Gentry, Dominion, p. 349; see also DeMar, Madness, p. 172 and Chilton, Paradise, pp. 103-105.
83 Jonathan Edwards, Works, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974), p. 467.
84 Philippians 3:20-21: "or our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."
85 DeMar, Madness, p. 43; italics mine.
86 Chilton, Paradise, p. 91; see also DeMar, Madness, p. 64.
87 Gentry, Dominion, p. 232.
88 DeMar writes, "In A.D. 70 the ‘last days’ ended with the dissolution of the temple and the sacrificial system" (Madness, p. 26).
89 DeMar, Madness, pp. 27, 29.
90 Chilton, Paradise, p. 140.
91 II Timothy 4:1, 8: "I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and kingdom … henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing."
92 I Corinthians 1:7: "So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming [i.e., revelation] of our Lord Jesus Christ."
93 DeMar, Madness, p. 460.
94 DeMar, Madness, pp. 189-190.
95 Matthew 25:31: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:"
96 Chilton, Paradise, p. 93.
97 For example, in the chapter Christ speaks of "the holy place" (v. 15), "Judea" and "the mountains" (v. 16), "the housetop" (v. 17), the difficulties of travelling on the Sabbath day (v. 20), etc.
98 Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, repr. 1994), p. 149.
99 Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2003), pp. 161, 241.
100 Cornelis Venema, The Promise of the Future (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2000), p. 154.
101 See, Gentry, Beast, pp. 182-183; Dominion, p. 349.
102 Gentry in Thine is the Kingdom, pp. 96, 127.
103 Simon J. Kistemaker in When Shall These Things Be?, p. 228
104 William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: private printing, 1939), p. 273.
105 Herman Hoeksema, Behold He Cometh! An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: RFPA, repr. 1986), pp. 475-476.
106 Chilton, Vengeance, p. 436.
107 Kistemaker in When Shall These Things Be?, p. 231.
108 Edwards, Works, vol. 2, p. 467.
109 Mathison in When Shall These Things Be?, p. 202.
110 Riddlebarger, Amillennialism, p. 238.
111 Gentry in Thine is the Kingdom, p. 101.
112 Gentry in When Shall These Things Be?, p. 53.