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IS PRETERISM ANTI-SEMITIC?

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  August 4, 2014 — 2 Comments
Anti semitism 2

Preterism teaches that several New Testament prophecies apply to the AD 70 destruction of the temple. A good number of scholars and even more prophecy populists complain: “Preterism is Anti-Semitic.” But is preterism’s focus on the Jewish judgment in AD 70 anti-Semtic? This is a serious moral charge. How does the preterist postmillennialist answer it? Are we guilty of such a sin?

Before I can respond to the charge I must first consider the historical backdrop to it, then the actual moral charge deemed to be within the system.

The backdrop

Two issues merge today in prompting the anti-Semitism charge against preterism.

The first is the horrific Nazi holocaust that ruthlessly slaughtered so many Jews. This enormous evil has rightly impacted our psyche regarding both the suffering of the Jews and the sinfulness of man. Its impact is widely felt in biblical and theological studies, just as it is in historical, sociological, political, psychological, and other fields of academic endeavor.


The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (booklet by Ken Gentry)
Brief argument for pre-A.D. 70 date; shows Revelation is
God’s covenant divorce decree against Israel.
Overview of main movements of Revelation.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


The second is political correctness, with all of its absurdities and hyper-sensitivity. We are all familiar with this liberal mindset and its heightened sensitivity to any sort of perceived slight to any people group — except for Christians, especially evangelical Christians, and most especially white evangelical Christians. Combined with an extreme relativism, the very facts of history are either totally suppressed or radically reinterpreted in order to promote the new values inherent in this perspective.

In this sort of environment any promotion or defense of Christianity, especially regarding its truth claims and its history-altering impact, is fair game for intellectual derision and academic assault. The modern mind stands aghast that we believe Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life.” The notion of Jesus as the only Savior is an anathema that is condemned with all the vitriol that can be mustered — which is quite a bit.

The preterist “sin

Furthermore, the preterist approach to NT prophecy makes the matter supposedly worse by (allegedly) adding the additional baggage of overt anti-Semitism. This is because preterists believe that two series of events from the first century are foundational to NT prophecy and the future development of human history. The first set of events involve the birth, life, work, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. The second includes the destruction of Jerusalem, the collapse of the Jewish temple, and the permanent cessation of the sacrificial system. (I should note, however, that as Richard Gaffin and others notes, the AD 70 judgment is really an extension of Christ’s first coming. Thus, technically these are not two series of events, but one elongated one.)

In the preterist system these two event-series dramatically demonstrate the wrath of God against Israel, combining to:
• legally effect the ending of the old covenant which was God’s revelation for governing Israel
• permanently disestablish Israel from its central role in redemptive-history
• establish forever the new covenant and its final reorganization of the people of God in the Church of Jesus Christ

This is anathema! Such a theology should be denounced in the public square, not given a hearing! How can we even think that God judged Israel in the first century merely for rejecting the their Messiah, the Son of the living God, and persecuting his followers? And especially in affirming this world-conquering religious construct, preteristic postmillennialism! The secularists complain: “Aren’t all religions equal?” “Isn’t truth relative?” “Wasn’t Jesus just a first century itinerant preacher and mystic?” “Away with this man, we have no king but Self!”

So then, preterism exalts Christ as the only Savior, affirms Christianity as the only approach to God, promotes the Bible as the unique, infallible, inerrant, authoritative revelation of God. And — God forbid! — we see the judgment of first century Israel as the will of God and the fulfillment of biblical prophecy in clearing the way for the ascendency of Christianity. This, according to the modern mindset, is anti-Semitism in all of its ugliness and simplicity.

Have you heard this anti-Semitism charge? Perhaps you could post a note regarding your experience with it.

I will continue this in my next post.


Spiritual Function of God’s Law (3 CDs)
Three sermons on the spiritual implications of God’s Law.
Underscores the continuing significance of God’s Law in the world today.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

 


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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

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Ken is a Presbyterian pastor and the author or co-author of over thirty books, most on eschatology. He has been married since 1971, and has three children and several grandchildren. He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (B.A., 1973), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1977), and Whitefield Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1986; Th.D., 1988). He currently pastors Living Hope Presbyterian Church (affiliated with the RPCGA) in Greer, SC. Much of his writing is in the field of eschatology, including his 600 page book, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology and his 400 page, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (his Th.D. dissertation). He contributed chapters to two Zondervan CounterPoints books on eschatological issues: Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (edited by Darrell L. Bock) and Four Views on the Book of Revelation (edited by C. Marvin Pate). He also debated Thomas D. Ice in Kregel's The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? His books have been published by American Vision, Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, P & R, Greenhaven Press, Nordskog, Wipf & Stock, and several other publishers. He has published scores of articles in such publications as Tabletalk, Westminster Theological Journal, Evangelical Theological Society Journal, Banner of Truth, Christianity Today, Antithesis, Contra Mundum, and others. He has spoken at over 100 conferences in America, the Caribbean, and Australia. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and a Church Council Committee member of Coalition on Revival.

2 responses to IS PRETERISM ANTI-SEMITIC?

  1. Thanks for your article, Dr. Gentry. Not only are we (postmils) considered anti-semitic to the pagans, but we are often condemned for antisemitism within our churches. By not supporting the current state of Israel as a fulfillment of Bible prophecy, many in our churches (those who grew up under Dispensational teaching) consider Postmil ideology outright heresy. The mixing of a smidgen of Bible knowledge, a dab of reading the “right books” (like the Harbinger), and a double portion of nationalism, has turned many Christians into warmongers and huge supporters of national Israel. To say, “Israel is irrelevant to Bible prophecy” is akin to bashing grandma in the head in their eyes. The question they simply can’t answer is: how will Jews, who reject Christ, be saved? I haven’t heard a good response to this yet.

    • Thank you Pastor for this article as well as the books & lectures on this most debated subject. I personally believe Dispensational/Premill tampers with The Gospel.
      I agree with the comment from Marc as I have taken some heat in recent weeks for not “Standing With Israel” and condoning murder, only asking that Christians pray for our Brothers & Sisters all around the globe that are suffering tribulation. ~

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