MY HYPER-PRETERIST FRUSTRATIONS (2)

PMW 2021-012 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my previous posting I opened a quick two-part testimonial explaining why I do not like interacting with Hyper-preterists. Their argumentative method is terribly frustrating. I will now continue with and conclude my testimonial.

REGARDING PRESTON’S THIRD ARTICLE

Preston:
He writes: “The reader needs to remember, as I have documented, that Gentry takes a decidely [sic] and admittedly non-historical, non-creedal view of Revelation.” A few paragraphs later, he writes: “Gentry, when defending his own unorthodox, non-historical, non-creedal views that stand in opposition to the long standing scholarly consensus on Revelation…”

Gentry:
Once again, Preston is confused. What ecumenical creed takes a position on the interpretation of the Book of Revelation? He simply does not understand what creeds say, what they are, or how they function in evangelicalism. Creeds arose in antiquity in order to summarily instruct new converts in the faith and to counter doctrinal error arising in the church. They make no mention of how to interpet the Book of Revelation.

Preston:
Preston claims that I argue that: ‘the apostles were sinful men [which] proves they did not know what they were asking about!’ (p. 6).”

My reply:
Preston is once again quite confused. Consider this fact: the apostles remained “sinful men” their entire lives, until they died and left this earth. Thus, if I argued that their being sinners “proves” that they did not know what they were saying, I would be discounting everything they said — because they remained sinners until they died and entered into heaven. That would be ridiculous for any Christian to assert. Rather, I said they had a “‘sinful dullness’ on several occasions.” But they were sinners on all occasions! Preston has a frustrating tendency to re-cast his opponents arguments in a bad light.
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Preston:
“Reader, Gentry did argue that the apostles misunderstood because they were ‘sinful men.’ He has been caught in his own words and is now denying them — or trying to explain them away!” A little later Preston states: “ note how Gentry doubles down on the “sinful dullness” of the apostles, even though he claims that I misrepresented his comments in this regard. No, I did not.” Still later Preston states: “Gentry most assuredly DID ascribe the apostles confusion to their being sinful men, possessing ‘sinful dullness.’”

My reply:
Preston simply is not thinking clearly here. Not only do I never charge in this context that the Apostles’ problem is that they were “sinful men.” His quote marks make his reader think that I said that — and that this is my argument for their confusion. But being a “sinful man” is not the same thing as suffering from “sinful dullness.” We are always sinners, but not always sinfully dull. By God’s grace and the sanctifying influence of his Spirit our sinful condition does not always dominate us so that we never think clearly.

Preston:
Preston complains regarding the commentators who disagree with him: “are we to attribute such utter, abject ignorance to Jesus’ apostles? To do so stretches credulity far beyond it limits.” Then he writes in response to me: “The commentators may not use those precise words, but they assuredly do — as Gentry — accuse the apostles of possessing sinful dullness, and thus, being confused.”

My reply:
Preston exaggerates and overstates his case constantly. Here he speaks of the Apostles being dull as if such could be characterized as “utter, abject ignorance.” And then he tries to write this off by a wave of the hand: “The commentators may not use those precise words.” In fact, the commentators use words quite different from Preston’s characterization.

Preston:
After citing my concern regarding his attitude, he responds: “Evidently it is wrong, arrogant, ridiculous and childish for Preston to challenge the views of the scholars who disagree with him.”

My reply:
Here we have another overstatement. Again: he has a tendency to take an argument from an opponent and re-cast it in a bad light. Where do I say his attitude is “childish”? I never use that term or even imply it! I am concerned with adult error, not childishness.

Nevertheless, in the conclusion of his third article Preston does declare me to be “childish.” He writes that my argument “is literally childish and petulant, the furthest thing from a serious, scholarly analysis of my work.” Not just figuratively childish, mind you. But literally!

I must admit. though, that he is correct. After making my arguments I have read a number of journal articles by young children who make the same arguments as mine regarding a narrative critical analysis of Matthew 24:3, the historical complexities of first-century rabbinic scholarship, and the didactic failure of the first-century synagogue system in Jesus’ day. I found these articles in several of the leading children’s journals: Children’s Magazine, Ladybug Magazine, Ranger Rick, The Week Junior magazine, and Highlights for Children.

Not only so, but I will admit that my argument is the “furthest thing from a serious, scholarly analysis.” I have researched the matter and found that according to The Guinness Book of World Records (p. 544), no scholar has ever gotten farther from a serious analysis than I did. At least I was mentioned in Guinness, so I’ve got that going for me!

(But since Preston does not have a sense of humor, I should explain that my statements just above are tongue-in-cheek.)

Preston:
“And make no mistake, Gentry stands in direct opposition to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the ‘second Bible’ of Gentry’s Reformed views, in regard to the identity of the Man of Sin, in 2 Thessalonians 2.”

My reply:
Though he calls on his reader to “make no mistake,” Preston here makes another mistake. He does not realize that American Presbyterianism (to which I have subscribed by my ordination vows) removed the statement about the “man of sin” in its 1788 revision. WCF 25 previously stated (in part): “Nor can the pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof: but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.” The 1788 revised Confession dropped all reference to the pope as “that man of sin,” by stating merely: “there is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof.”

But again, and more importantly, this is a denominational confession not an ecumenical creed; it defines Presbyterianism, not Christianity. There is an enormous difference between the two. Preston does not seem to understand the difference. Presbyterianism is a particular movement within historic orthodox Christianity.

Preston:
“Gentry is conveniently ignoring the indisputable fact that Jesus explained the parable to them, and applied Daniel 12.”

My reply:
Preston overstates his case. Again. It is not an “indisputable fact” that Jesus applied Daniel 12 to his kingdom parables. Jesus may be doing this. Or he may simply be engaging in an allusion to Daniel or a “re-application”of it, whereby he borrows the language and applies it in a wholly different context. If this is the case, it would be like his borrowing and re-applying the language of the collapse of Babylon and Idumea to Jerusalem in AD 70. This is why many scholars do not mention Daniel 12 when discussing Matthew 13. And they surely would if it were an “indisputable fact.” But it simply is not “indisputable,” though that grandiose statement sounds good for Preston’s followers.

Preston:
He correctly cites me as stating: “Preston charges: ‘Stunningly, the fact is that Kenneth Gentry all but accuses the apostles of lying.’” He then cites me as stating: “it takes an amazing amount of arrogance to say they were lying.” But then a part of his response is: “While Gentry does not overtly call the apostles liars, he makes the unproven assertion that ….”

My reply:
Note that he is stunned that I accuse the Apostles of “lying.” And he complains that I engage in “an amazing amount of arrogance” by saying “they were lying.” But then he admits I did not do so! I did not “overtly call the apostles liars.” How can I stun readers and engage in amazing arrogance regarding something I did not say? But then, once again by the wave of his hand, he sweeps away his bold overstatement by admitting I did not actually say that!
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Preston:
He correctly quotes me as stating: “Despite [Preston’s] quotation marks, I never made that statement.”

My reply:
Then he waves his hand once again and says: “Well, I was putting Gentry’s sentiments, and those of the scholars, into a quote for convenience sake.” But it is not very convenient to make it appear that he presenting a quote of mine when he is not.

REGARDING PRESTON’S FOURTH ARTICLE

Preston:
He cites my statement, which reads: “But earlier, on p. 8 [Preston] wrote: ‘I have demonstrated that in virtually all other occasions, the only way that we know the disciples were mistaken is because the Gospel writers tell us so — very clearly.’ Well, which is it? Does Scripture tell us so ‘on all other occasions’ or does it tell us so in ‘virtually all other occasions’? ‘Virtually’ means ‘nearly.’”

My reply:
After citing my complaint, Preston offers another wave of the hand reply: “Well, I suppose I should beg forgiveness for using the word ‘virtually.’”

Preston:
“Gentry scoffs at the power of the fact that on all occasions when the disciples were confused we have the firm statements of the text informing us of that confusion and yet, we have no such comments about the supposed confusion about eschatology. His entire position is therefore built on arguing that the silence of the texts concerning the apostles’ confusion about the end of the age proves that they were confused.”

My reply:
This is quite ironic! He points out that I say the disciples were confused in Matthew 24:3 even though there are no “firm statements of the text informing us of that confusion.” But he dismisses my approach (and that of many scholars) in which I claim they were confused because there are no “firm statements of the text informing us of that confusion”! Apparently, those who disagree with him need textual statements but he does not.

Not only so, but Preston does not understand that biblical arguments often must depend on “good and necessary consequence” when specific affirmations are not announced. For instance, where in Scripture does he find the “Trinity” presented in “firm statements”?

Yet, many scholars argue for the Apostles’ confusion in Matthew 24 by the Apostles bringing up issues Jesus does not mention in rejecting the temple in Matthew 23 (e.g., parousia and “end of the age”). They also note that in the way he structures his Discourse, he allows a distinction between the temple’s destruction and Jesus’ Second Coming/Final Judgment (per arguments by France, Gibbs, Wilson, Kik, Brown, and others). I know Preston does not like our structural analysis, but truth does not require that Preston believe it in order for it to be so.

Now I must skip through some of his final failures in his 95+ pages of argument so that I can get to work and remain gainfully employed.

Preston:
“Unless he can prove — contra his own writings — that parousia is a distinctive word used exclusively of the imaginary ‘end of the Christian age’ his point is moot and meaningless.”

My reply:
It would be a mistake for me to say that parousia is used “exclusively” of the end of the “Christian age.” The word parousia is used in several non-technical places, sometimes speaking of the parousia of Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus” (1 Cor. 16:27), of Titus (2 Cor. 7:6), and of Paul (Phil. 1:26). Yet this word can and sometimes is used in a technical, eschatological sense of the final coming of Christ in certain places. Preston is reading into my statements a false understanding.

In my forthcoming commentary on Matthew 21–25, I will argue (as do France, Gibbs, Wilson, Kik, Brown, and others do) that in Matthew’s Gospel the word parousia is only found in the Olivet Discourse. We must ask why this is so. This at least potentially raises the question of why it is employed here. And I and various competent scholars believe it is a tip-off that something needs to be carefully noted in the Discourse.

OTHER STATEMENTS BY PRESTON

Preston:
“One should take note that Gentry assiduously avoids speaking of ‘the end of the Christian age.’ Why? Because he knows that the temple did not represent, in any way, the Christian age! Thus, he carefully avoids using ‘the end of the Christian age’ realizing that is a problematic issue, and speaks instead of ‘the end of human history.’”

My reply:
Preston is wrong again. He tries to attribute his Hyper-preterist. two-age theory of redemptive history to me (and other evangelicals). But the fact is that most evangelical scholars believe the two ages are: history (“this age”) and eternal estate established at Jesus’ Second Coming (“the age to come”). In this understanding, the new covenant (church) phase in “this age” is an overlap between the two ages. So I never mention the “end of the Christian age” because I hold to the broader evangelical view of the two ages. And thus, I refer to “the end of the age” as the end of history. I am attempting to avoid a doctrine I don’t hold!

Preston
“Gentry appeals to Ezekiel 37:26 to speak of the everlasting temple, as if that were a prophecy of the continuance of the Herodian temple.”

My reply:
Preston is misreading my argument. Again. I state in full: “Could the disciples not believe that the reconstituted people of God (cf. Matt. 6:10; 8:11–12; 12:32; 19:28; Luke 22:30) might well use this temple for God’s worship? Especially since the OT has prophecies about the continuing temple as everlasting (Eze. 37:26, 28; 43:5–7)?”

In these comments I am not presenting my own view of the temple’s permanence. Rather, I am asking a question: “Could the disciples not believe….?” I am presenting an Old Testament text that the Jews of the first century could have used for believing in an eternal temple (Eze. 37). Preston states at the opening of his first rebuttal to me that: “I have been an avid reader of Gentry’s writings for many years.” Thus, he knows full well that I reject dispensationalism and do not believe the temple was to be eternal. Besides at this point in history (2021), the temple has been gone for 2000 years! Why would I claim the Bible teaches that it is eternal since it has not existed for 2000 years? That don’t make no sense, to quote Pete Hogwallup.

Preston
“There is something else here. Gentry offers this: ‘Jesus twice “cleansed” the temple to make it suitable for God’s continuing worship (John 2:13–17; 21:15).’ So, Gentry says Jesus cleansed the temple, making it suitable for God’s continuing worship. Okay, then why did it have to be destroyed at all?”

My reply:
The answer to this question is quite obvious and simple: Jesus cleansed the temple, but the Jews did not follow through with an appropriate response. Jesus did his part, making it suitable for true worship. But the temple authorities did not engage the true worship that was required of them. This is why Jesus later weeps over Jerusalem: they rejected him and his calling (Matt. 23:37). So he then declares that their house was being left desolate for this reason (v. 38). This is why it had to be destroyed.

Preston:
Regarding my stating that God must endure a rebellious universe forever and ever, etc., etc., Preston writes: “Yes, Gentry actually did type, or cut and paste, or however he did it, the word ‘ever’ 1079 times (according to my Word Perfect word counter).”

My reply:
Finally something I agree with Preston about: I too use WordPerfect (since 1986 when Gary North gave me my first computer as I began writing for him: a Leading Edge Model D double-floppy drive computer)! So now I will end on this positive note. 😉

CONCLUSION
I had more to say. Much more. But I do not have the time to say it. Or the energy. Banging my head against the wall is no fun. This and my previous article were written to show why I do not want to waste time fooling with his arguments. He too often misconstrues what he reads. Of course, I believe he is doing that in his reading of the Bible. But I also believe he is doing that in reading me, as well.


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Source: Kenneth Gentry

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