Preterist Gangrene: Its Diagnosis, Prognosis and Cure
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
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
A. The gangrene has devoured Matthew 24:1-34 and most
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
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
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
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,
C. The gangrene has swallowed key eschatological
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
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
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
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
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.
D. The gangrene has consumed key eschatological
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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,
B. Excising the preterism from key eschatological
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
2 Gary DeMar, Last Days’ Madness: Obsession of the Modern
(Atlanta, GA: American Vision Inc., 1997), p. 327.
3 David Chilton, Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology
(Tyler, TX: Dominion Press, 4th printing, 1994), p. 86;
Paradise, p. 164; italics Chilton’s.
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.
Last Days, p. 189.
L. Gentry Jr., He Shall Have Dominion (Tyler, TX: Institute for
Christian Economics, 1992), p. 389.
Dominion, p. 390.
Madness, p. 260.
Beast, p. 55.
Beast, p. 182.
14 Lorraine Boettner, The Millennium (Philadelphia, PA:
Presbyterian and Reformed, 4th printing, 1966), p. 214.
Paradise, p. 177.
Madness, p. 240.
Madness, p. 246.
Dominion, p. 410.
Paradise, p. 182; note his translation of earth (ge) as
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.
Dominion, p. 379.
23 David Chilton, Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book
(Tyler, TX: Dominion Press, 3rd printing, 1990), p. 583.
Millennium, p. 214.
Dominion, pp. 388-389; italics Gentry’s.
Dominion, p. 493; italics Gentry’s.
Paradise, p. 225.
Paradise, p. 88.
Vengeance, p. 114.
Dominion, p. 403.
Dominion, p. 403.
Paradise, p. 170.
Vengeance, pp. 238-239.
34 Gary North in Gentry, Beast, p. xviii.
Millennium, p. 202.
Beast, pp. 182-183.
Dominion, p. 349.
Paradise, p. 89.
Paradise, p. 112; italics Chilton’s.
Paradise, p. 115; italics Chilton’s. See also Chilton,
Vengeance, p. 198.
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.
Paradise, p. 199.
Paradise, pp. 221-222.
J. Grier, The Momentous Event: A Discussion of Scripture Teaching on
the Second Advent (Edinburgh: Banner, repr. 1997), p. 55.
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.
Vengeance, p. 473.
Paradise, p. 191.
Beast, p. 183.
Dominion, p. 401.
Vengeance, p. 476, italics mine.
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).
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,
Madness, p. 256.
Beast, p. 25.
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."
Madness, p. 216.
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."
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."
Paradise, p. 120.
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."
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."
Vengeance, p. 392.
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.
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
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."
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.
Madness, p. 189.
Madness, p. 266.
Dominion, p. 304.
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."
Dominion, p. 349; see also DeMar, Madness, p. 172 and
Chilton, Paradise, pp. 103-105.
Edwards, Works, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974), p.
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.
Paradise, p. 91; see also DeMar, Madness, p. 64.
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).
Madness, pp. 27, 29.
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
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."
Madness, p. 460.
Madness, pp. 189-190.
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:"
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.
Venema, The Promise of the Future (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth,
2000), p. 154.
Gentry, Beast, pp. 182-183; Dominion, p. 349.
102 Gentry in Thine is the Kingdom, pp. 96, 127.
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
(Grand Rapids, MI: RFPA, repr. 1986), pp. 475-476.
Vengeance, p. 436.
in When Shall These Things Be?, p. 231.
Works, vol. 2, p. 467.
in When Shall These Things Be?, p. 202.
Amillennialism, p. 238.
in Thine is the Kingdom, p. 101.
in When Shall These Things Be?, p. 53.