Kenneth Gentry: Confused, Confusing and Desperate – #3
This is installment #3 of my response to four articles by Kenneth Gentry, posted on his blog, in which he attacks my new book, Watching for the Parousia: Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused? Be sure to read those first two articles #1” href=”https://donkpreston.com/kenneth-gentry-confused-confusing-desperate-1/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>#1 #2” href=”https://donkpreston.com/kenneth-gentry-confused-confusing-and-desperate-2/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>#2.
The thing to notice is that Gentry’s response / review of my book is the very epitome of an ad hominem attack. He offers no exegesis. He simply engages in acerbic, caustic, and insulting verbiage that has no evidentiary or probitive value. None.
He even goes further! He complains that “the modern commentators . . . forcibly impose the concept of ignorance or confusion onto the apostles” (p. 103).
So the commentators “forcibly impose” their views on the apostles? That is a rather absurd, bold, and vacuous charge!
This bold, proud thinking leads him to state of the commentators’ arguments on the issue before us that the interpretation of “most commentators” is “arrogantly” ascribed to the apostles (p. I)! “Arrogantly”? According to the Marum- (Sic) Webster dictionary “arrogant” means “exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one’s own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner.” Thus, for Preston “most commentators” are not simply mistaken in their views, but overbearingly proud and pompous in asserting them to be the views of the apostles! This is an absolutely incredible charge!
Later he asks: “Does it not border on theological arrogance to claim — as Gentry and others do — that the disciples were so horribly confused when in fact they affirmed their understanding?” (p. 92). So I and the commentators are caught up in “theological arrogance”? This is not only incredible in itself, but is itself an arrogant charge.
In addition, in Preston’s view I am not only “ignorant” and “arrogant,” but actually a fraud and a huckster. For he is concerned that I engage in intentional deception: “the text proves that Gentry is either ignorant, perhaps confused himself, or perhaps even willfully hiding important text evidence from his readers” (p. 98). So I am “willfully hiding” information? Thus, he charges that “Gentry tries to avoid” certain issues (p. 61).
False charges based on erroneous understanding
The reader needs to remember, as I have documented, that Gentry takes a decidely and admittedly non-historical, non-creedal view of Revelation. Does that not mean that per Kenneth Gentry, almost the entire church, the vast majority of scholarly commentators, the creeds, have exhibited ignorance and arrogance? Essentially, Gentry is saying that those commentators and creeds, and the early church were all ignorant, they were confused, and they, “forcibly impose (d) their ignorance and confusion onto the church for almost two millennia!”
Regarding the disciples’ confused question at Matthew 24:3, Preston misconstrues my point (which is not surprising). He claims I argue that, “the apostles were sinful men [which] proves they did not know what they were asking about!” (p. 6). This is incredible. I actually claimed that they suffered from a “sinful dullness” on several occasions. I was not writing them off as “sinful men.” I never say their problem is that they were “sinful men.” For they remain sinful men even though they are used by God to write Scripture (e.g., Rom. 7:8–11; cf. Gal. 2:11–14). Divine inspiration does not depend on human sinlessness, as we can see in that sinful Solomon wrote several books of Scripture. Otherwise, we would not have any Scripture. Amazing! This is a falseood. Flat out falsehood! (DKP– Oops!!! Notice the mis- spelling of “falseood”, i.e. falsehood. Perhaps Gentry should have been more cautious about attacking the typos in my book?).
Notice that Gentry simply affirms “the disciples’ confused question” in Matthew 24:3. He asserts but does not prove. He does this repeatedly. He seems not to understand that surprise is not the same as confusion.
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! Here is the quote from his own blog that I cited:
How can this be? How can these hand-picked “disciples” (learners) misconstrue the three-year, daily instruction of their Master, known as “Teacher” (Matt. 8:19; 9:11; 12:38; 17:24; 19:16; 22:16, 24, 36; 26:18) regularly misunderstand Jesus’ instruction? The short answer, of course, is: the problem is not in Jesus’ teaching ability, but in his Disciples’ sinful dullness (cp. Matt. 8:17; Luke 24:25; John 14:9). (Gentry’s Blog post)
And based on those comments he then says:
And is not my understanding of their frequent dullness clearly the case? Before Jesus died and was resurrected, the disciples did not believe he would be resurrected (Mark 16:7–13; John 20:8–9). And this is despite the fact that he taught it several times well in advance (Matt. 16:21; 20:17–18; 28:6a; Mark 16:10–11). This is no small error. For his death, burial, and resurrection are the very reasons for his taking on a human body and coming into the world in the first place (Heb. 2:9, 16–17; 10:5; 1 Pet. 2:24). I would say this is surely an issue showing “dullness.” After all, not only did he teach them this over his three and a half years of ministry, but his death, burial, and resurrection were even “according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3, 4), for “it is written of Him” (Matt. 26:64) and was spoken of him by “the prophets” (Luke 24:25–27). This is significant in that Preston frequently and forcefully argues that they would definitely know of his parousia and the resurrection coming in AD 70 because it was taught in the prophets (e.g., pp. 16, 26, 28, 29, 136, 163).
And so, Gentry speaks of the apostles’ “sinful dullness,” He can deny this if he wants, and all he wants, but his own words betray him.
And notice once again that Gentry constantly appeals to the apostles’ confusion on other occasions and on other subjects, and he projects that confusion onto the apostles’ understanding of eschatology. That is improper.
I note that Gentry posted, 11-24-2020, on his “Postmillennial World View,” a quote from the noted author Milton Terry, in which Terry, in his Biblical Apocalyptics, (p. 477-478) claimed that the apostles were confused in regard to Jesus’ eschatology. What is interesting, which Gentry admits, is that Terry denied that the apostles were confused in Matthew 24:3! So, on the one hand Terry claims that the disciples were sometimes confused about Jesus’ teaching on eschatology, but, in regard to the critical text of Matthew 24:3, he denies that they were confused! Thus, Gentry’s citation of Terry clearly backfires on him.
(Gentry offers no citations or examples from Terry about the apostles’ confusion on eschatology. And, by the way, Terry was convinced that all of the temporal statements of the imminence of the coming of the Lord had to be applied to Acts 1:11! Does Gentry accept that?– Milton Terry Biblical Apocalyptics: Baker Book House; (1898), 246-247).
In fact, the disciples did not simply misunderstand this supremely important issue regarding Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection until it actually happened, John 2:21–22; 20:8–9). (DKP- Note the lack of initial parenthesis before the scripture referent!)- But they even, “were afraid to ask Him” about it: “He was teaching His disciples and telling them, ‘The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.’ But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him” (Mark 9:31–32).
Indeed, on another occasion after Jesus presents a parable, Peter asks him to explain it to them (Matt. 15:15). Jesus responds: “Are you still dull?” (NIV, Matt. 15:16). The word translated “dull” is asunetos, which is a word Paul applies to the “foolish heart” of unbelievers (Rom. 1:21). And on another occasion, when Peter resists Jesus’ teaching that he must die, the Lord even rebukes him by calling him “Satan” (Matt. 16:23). I would say that certainly represents a serious level of “sinful dullness.”
First of all, 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. Just read his comments above carefully. Gentry tries on the one hand to deny that their “sinful dullness” had anything to do with their confusion, but then turns around and tells us that they were confused because of their “sinful dullness.” It certainly appears that Mr. Gentry is confused about what he actually said.
And then consider the following:
1. The apostles were not afraid to ask about the end of the age.
2. The texts that Gentry cites tell us of their confusion about other subjects, but none of those texts say one word about the Lord’s parousia and the end of the age.
3. The Olivet Discourse has no such information about their confusion.
Gentry’s comments are nothing but deflection and obfuscation. He tries to make it appear as if he is making a strong point by pointing out the occasions that the apostles were confused when the reality if that in my book I make the very point that they were confused on other occasions, and about different subjects. Gentry tries to cloud this issue by pointing to those other different occasions and different subjects seeking to prove that they must have been confused about eschatology, even though they denied such.
Then Preston continues — thinking he is scoring big:
Gentry is essentially saying that he is not a man of ‘sinful dullness’ while Jesus’ own chosen apostles, instructed by him and later inspired by the Spirit, were indeed dim witted, ignorant and confused. (p. 6) (no period– Typo)
I absolutely say nothing of the kind — either about myself (and the many other commentators who hold the same view as I do) or the disciples. And what in the world does the apostles being “later inspired by the Spirit” have to do with their current confusion? For as Preston notes, “the Spirit had not yet been poured out, as he was in Acts 2” (p. 117).
Folks, let me be very candid here. Gentry most assuredly DID ascribe the apostles confusion to their being sinful men, possessing “sinful dullness.” He ascribes their confusion to their “sinful dullness” as his own words given above prove beyond refutation. So, in Gentry’s own words, the apostles’ confusion was directly due to their “sinful dullness.” Again, Gentry can deny that all he wants, but I have copied and pasted it directly from his own blog. Thus, the reality here is that Gentry is claiming that he- an acknowledged man of sinful dullness (as we all are, he says), and yet, he claims to know more about the apostles’ comprehension of Jesus’ words than the apostles themselves.
Preston continually fails in engaging in the logical fallacy of “emotive appeal.” This fallacy substitutes emotional appeal for facts. And the emotive appeal fallacy is constantly engaged by Preston’s use of terms that are commonly associated with the fallacy. Scholars note that such words as Preston uses in responding to critics betray this fallacy. For instance, Preston presents his views as “indisputable” (p 97), “undeniable” (pp. 91, 105), “irrefutably true” (133), and so forth.
Reader, if you want to see an “emotive appeal” fallacy just read Gentry’s comments carefully.
And speaking of logical fallacies, Mr .Gentry’s entire article is full of them. Let me offer a few examples:
Gentry makes strong appeal to tradition and church history– argumentum ad antiquitatem.
He appeals to the popularity of the masses (7.5 Billion people disagree with Preston!) – an argumentum ad populum.
He appeal to scholarship – argumentum ad verecundiam. Remember that Gentry himself admits that this kind of argument proves nothing!
He makes the argument from passion – argumentum ad passiones.
He is guilty of what is known as Petitio Principii. This means that he “begs the question” assuming to be right when he does not prove that he is right. He simply states as a fact that since the apostles were surprised at Jesus’ prediction of the coming judgment, that they must have been confused. Upon what basis does Gentry make this claim? His own unproven claim that they were confused. Surprise does not equate to confusion! I have surprised my wife on several occasions by sending flowers, (just recently as a matter of fact!!), but that does not mean that she – or I– was confused about anything!
Of course, the irony here is that Gentry, when defending his own unorthodox, non-historical, non-creedal views that stand in opposition to the long standing scholarly consensus on Revelation, he makes the following comments:
An appeal to venerated scholarship (an argumentum ad verecundiam) cannot settle the issue, to be sure. But the very fact that a good (and growing) number of astute biblical scholars hold to the minority position should at least forestall too hasty a dismissal of that position.” (Beast of Revelation, P. 107).
So, once again, Gentry has no problem rejecting the consensus of scholarship and history when it suits him, but he vehemently condemns true preterists for rejecting that same consensus when the scholars stand opposed to the clear testimony of scripture.
And I would also note that, “a good (and growing) number of astute biblical scholars hold to the minority position” of the true preterist view! Thus, perhaps, just perhaps, Bible students “should at least forestall too hasty a dismissal of that position.”
For instance, Preston summarizes his argument on the disciples’ question in Matthew 24:3. Then he states 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” (p. 29). “The commentators” do not speak of the “utter, abject ignorance” of the apostles! Nor are they guilty of stretching “credulity far beyond its limits.” This emotional statement sounds rather “arrogant” of Preston.
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, whereas Gentry and those commentators ascribe perfect understanding to themselves! Make no mistake about this. Gentry says that he and the scholars know more about the apostles intellectual understanding than the apostles themselves. That is an amazing claim, and should be viewed very carefully with great caution.
Preston even claims that commentators who believe the disciples were confused in Matthew 24:3, believe that the disciples were “completely ignorant,” “totally ignorant” (p. 28, ¶3, 4, 5), suffering from “abject ignorance” (p. 29 ¶3), were “so ignorant” (p. 25 ¶2), “horribly confused” (p. 92, 117), “lamentably ignorant” (p. 93), “amazingly dumb” (p. 34), “dense” (p. 81), “abysmally ignorant” (p. 119), had “thick skulls” (p. 103), were “dim-witted” (p. 103), and “blithely ignorant” (p. 163). This is ridiculous! In fact, it is downright childish. And only those who follow Preston blindly could avoid wincing at such charges. Being confused on a point is not evidence of “abject ignorance” or evidence someone is “abysmally ignorant.” Preston’s attitude (which generates such wild charges) is why few reputable scholars dialogue with Hyper-preterists.
More “attitudinal problems” from Mr. Gentry. Evidently it is wrong, arrogant, ridiculous and childish for Preston to challenge the views of the scholars who disagree with him, but, it is okay for Gentry to call Preston, arrogant, childish, blind, “hyper” and a host of other adjectives that he employs. And it is just fine for Gentry to challenge and condemn as error, the longstanding, scholarly consensus of the historical church in regard to Revelation. 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. That is tantamount to saying that the entire eschatology of the historical Reformed church, supported by longstanding scholarly consensus, is wrong, and has been wrong for centuries!
Let me point out again the ad hominem nature of Gentry’s comments. Where is his logical argumentation? Where is his exegesis? Where is his proof of any of his claims?
On pp. 32–33 Preston goes to Matthew 13, which highlights the “end of the age” (vv. 39, 40, 49). At the conclusion of his Kingdom Parables Discourse, Jesus explains the parables in private to his disciples (vv. 36ff). Then he asks: “‘Have you understood all these things?’” to which “they said to Him, ‘Yes’” (v. 51). Here Preston states: “unless the disciples lied — per Gentry — about understanding Jesus’ discourse about the end of the age in Matthew 13….” “Lied”?! Did I say they lied to Jesus? According to the Marum-Webster dictionary: to “lie” is “to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive.” (Sic– Mis-spelling! Typo! What is the Marum -Webster Dictionary???)
Let the reader take careful note of the following:
Jesus told the parable of the end the age.
The disciples came to Jesus and asked for him to explain it.
Jesus explained the parable.
The parable posits the end of the age at the time when Daniel 12:2 would be fulfilled.
Daniel 12:2 would be fulfilled in AD 70 – the time when Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed, as Jesus predicted in Matthew 24 – and as Kenneth Gentry agrees!
The disciples said they understood Jesus’ explanation of the end of age and thus its application to AD 70.
But, Kenneth Gentry says No, they did not understand, they just said they did!
Who are we to believe here, the apostles who, after being instructed about the meaning and application of the parable said they understood, or Gentry, who, in order to sustain his fundamental eschatological paradigm, simply must be able to prove that in spite of their assertions, they only thought and said they understood. They really didn’t, cause Gentry says he knows better than them!
How does Gentry try to “prove” that although the disciples said they understood, that in fact they did not? Well, he reminds us that as humans we often think we understand something when we actually don’t. Clearly there is no doubt about that! But the question is, where is the evidence, where is the proof, that the apostles truly did not understand what Jesus taught them about the end of the age? Where do we find the “post facto” comments informing us that they did not actually understand, although they said they did?
And Preston repeatedly brings up this charge of my (and others!) claiming the disciples lied to Jesus (pp. 29, 32, 79, 80, 81, 83, 91, 139). I absolutely did not make such a ridiculous charge.  Besides, Preston himself recognizes the disciples were often confused. For instance, he states: “Make no mistake. The disciples were often confused about Jesus’ teaching” (pp. 86; Emp. his; cp. p. 87). Preston even notes that on one occasion “his own disciples were … shocked at such an abhorrent idea as eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood” (p. 88). That certainly involved confusion. Consequently, by thinking that they had understood Jesus, the disciples could well have been confused about what they thought they knew. But it is absurd to claim they were lying to him.
Let the reader note that Gentry is attempting an “end run.” He says, “Preston himself recognizes the disciples were often confused. For instance, he states: “Make no mistake. The disciples were often confused about Jesus’ teaching” (pp. 86; Emp. his; cp. p. 87).”
What Gentry ever so conveniently fails to share with his readers is that I stated that the disciples were indeed very often confused, BUT, that the only way we know that is true is BECAUSE THE BIBLE EXPLICITLY SAYS THEY WERE CONFUSED! Why did Gentry fail (refuse) to tell his readers the full story of what I said?
Here is the reality: The apostles were often confused, and scripture tells us of that, but, we have NOT ONE example of the Bible stating, suggesting, hinting, implying or inferring that the apostles were confused about Jesus’ teaching on the end of the age! Gentry conveniently ignores this fact which I stated repeatedly and documented thoroughly. And so, when Gentry gives examples of the apostles being confused about other subjects, keep in mind that he does not give a single example of the apostles being confused about the end of the age! NOT ONE! And that is because he can’t.
Did Preston lie from the pulpit through the early years of his ministry when he was a futurist? In his We Shall Meet Him in The Air (p. 81) he writes: “I personally taught for years, that the time of the resurrection is associated with the end of time, the destruction of material creation.” Or does he now view his earlier view as mistaken, as misunderstanding what he thought he understood well enough? I suspect the latter. Later in We Shall Meet Him in The Air (p. 144) he writes: “My personal journey has caused me to jettison many of the theological beliefs handed to me by my forefathers.” Using what he calls “logic,” we could say that when he taught these views in the past, he was lying.
Later in Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused?, Preston returns to this incredible charge of lying, applying it to other “desperate [i.e., non-Hyper-preterist] commentators.” There he writes: “do you realize how desperate commentators such as Kenneth Gentry (and others of course) have to be to deny that the apostles did understand, in spite of their affirmation? They said they understood, but Gentry says they really didn’t — they must have lied” (p. 80). I never said “they must have lied”! I never even implied it. And I do not believe it. They were not lying; they simply did not understand as much as they thought they did.
On p. 83 he once again writes: “consider how desperate a measure it is to actually accuse Jesus’ apostles of lying to him, after he had told them he was giving the parables so that they would understand.”
And I know of no reputable commentator who even suggests the disciples were lying! For instance, Grant Osborne’s commentary on Matthew 13:51 states: “This does not mean they understood fully; in fact, in 15:16 they are reproved for being so dull. But they are beginning to perceive the reality of what Jesus has been teaching them” (Osborne, Matthew [ZECNT], 543). Leon Morris agrees: “This may perhaps be a trifle glib, for there is evidence in the remainder of the Gospel that their understanding was somewhat imperfect” (Morris, Matthew [PNTC], 256).
This is a quite common human failure. Have you, my reader, ever confidently held to a particular understanding of a Scripture passage and taught it to others, only to eventually realize your understanding was mistaken? Did you go around to those whom you taught and confess to them that when you said you understood that passage you were lying? Preston is making a ridiculous charge.
Again, Gentry is conveniently ignoring the indisputable fact that Jesus explained the parable to them, and applied Daniel 12 – which Gentry applies to AD 70.
He is ignoring the fact that:
In all occasions of misunderstanding / confusion / retrospective recognition of confusion, etc., the Biblical text emphatic tells us of that confusion and how they now understood. Every time, without fail.
We never read how the apostles confessed- ever- their confusion about the end of the age. No. We have just the opposite, their affirmation that they were NOT CONFUSED.
Where is that correction of the apostles’ confusion in the Olivet Discourse? It is not there. It is not hinted at. It is not inferred. It is not implied. There is not a syllable of correction of any misunderstanding on the part of the apostles. Gentry does not give it, does not even try– simply re-asserting– with not a keystroke of proof, that in Matthew 24 we find their confused questions! Petitio principii in full bloom!
Thus, Gentry’s illustration of my early years when I taught futurism, and his question of whether I was “lying” is totally off-base. Guess what? I did not have Jesus personally explaining the “end of the age” to me! I was operating on the “faith of my fathers” (read that “the traditions I had received”) and not my own careful Biblical research. When I discovered that my church tradition was wrong, I rejected it as false. I would have been lying had I continued to preach as truth what I had discovered was false, however!
What Gentry is doing is making an unfounded, unproven and unprovable assertion and assumption. Here is what Gentry is arguing– as I set forth in my book.
Jesus’ apostles were very often confused about Jesus’ teaching. This is true of course, as I document extensively in my book.
Because the apostles were often confused – about other issues and subjects– this supposedly proves that they did not understand the issue of the end of the age. This in spite of the fact that although they said they were not confused, and although they stated emphatically, unambiguously and explicitly that they DID understand, they were nonetheless confused, they were still ignorant, they just thought (wrongly) that they understood – all because of their “sinful dullness.” Gentry is guilty of an illegitimate transfer and illegitimate projection of other contexts, and other subjects onto the text of Matthew 24.
And the disciples struggled with fully understanding Jesus on several occasions. Often they only gradually came to a fuller realization of what he was teaching. For instance, in Matthew 15:10–11 we read: “After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, ‘Hear and understand. It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.’” He was explaining to the crowds and his disciples what his parable meant. But just a little while later we read this interchange between Peter and Jesus about that which he had just explained: “Peter said to Him, ‘Explain the parable to us.’ Jesus said, ‘Are you still lacking in understanding also?’”
The disciples’ gradual understanding of what Jesus is teaching occurs often. Notice also John 12:16: “These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.”
And notice Matthew 16:6, then compare it with vv. 7–12. Or Luke 18:31–33, compared to v. 34. This is why Jesus can say on one instructional occasion without rebuking them: “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter” (John 13:7).
Remember folks, I am the one that makes the point about the apostles’ confusion on other occasions, on other subjects in my book. Gentry is not “proving” anything different from what I said repeatedly in that work. The fact that the apostles were confused about other subjects, on other occasions is NOT the question and Gentry knows it. The question, that I pose repeatedly in my book, Were the Apostles Confused? is, where is the evidence, from the text – any text– to prove that in spite of their asservation of understanding in Matthew 13, that in reality, they did not understand? Let the reader take careful note that Gentry does not give us a word of proof. Not one text, not one argument.
We have not one retrospective comment from any Biblical writer that says, “after Jesus’ ascension the apostles understood his teaching on the end of the age.”
We have not one retrospective comment from any Biblical writer, that says, “after the sending of the Spirit the apostles understood his teaching on the end of the age.”
We have not one word in the Olivet Discourse, in response to the apostles’ questions, in which Jesus, cognizant of their supposed ignorance and confusion, in which he said, “Guys, you don’t get it! You are conflating the end of the age and my coming with the coming destruction of Jerusalem! You are wrong! Those events are– will be – separated in time by countless thousands of years!”
We literally have not one word of correction, not a hint of disappointment by Jesus at their confusion (Cf. John 14), not one word of not a hint of a clue of a suggestion that Jesus was even slightly perturbed at the continuing ignorance.
All we have is Gentry’s insistence that although the apostles said, emphatically, that they understood, after Jesus instructed them about the meaning of the parable of the end of the age, in reality, they were still confused, they were still ignorant.
Then again later in his book, Preston charges: “Stunningly, the fact is that Kenneth Gentry all but accuses the apostles of lying” (p. 80). Then on the next page (p. 81) he writes: “it takes an amazing amount of arrogance to say they were lying” (p. 81). This is preposterous. It takes an amazing amount of arrogance for Preston to charge that I accuse the apostles of lying. And such balderdash is why I normally do not read Preston.
Consider this: did not Peter promise Jesus that he would never forsake him? But then he did! This was also true of the other disciples, for we read: “Peter said to Him, ‘Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.’ All the disciples said the same thing too” (Matt. 26:33–35). But then in Matthew 26:56 we read: “all the disciples left him and fled.” Peter and the other disciples were not lying in verses 33–35. And Jesus does not call them liars.
Preston’s charge is absurd. The disciples were not lying; they were over-confident, spiritually weak, and naively unaware of the enormous difficulties they would have to face during Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. I never said or even implied that the disciples lied.  Preston is committing the Fallacy of Bifurcation: He believes there are only two options for understanding their response: the disciples are either (1) intending to tell the truth or (2) intending to tell a lie. But there are other options: they could well have believed they understood, only to find out later that they did not fully understand or properly understand. This is not lying. This bifurcation problem is much like asking the question “Have you stopped beating your wife?” It wrongly assumes only two possibilities.
Where is the proof? Of course we as humans sometimes think we understand when in fact we don’t. That was certainly true in my case– as Gentry ponders– when in my earlier years I thought I understood eschatology. But Gentry’s anecdotal “argument” has no probitive force because we are still waiting for him to produce the singular text that speaks of the apostles coming to understand that they did NOT after all, understand what they were asking about in the OD.
But, here is the reality. While Gentry does not overtly call the apostles liars, he makes the unproven assertion that they only thought they understood Jesus’ teaching about the end of the age. As Jesus continued to instruct them, they came to realize that they had not, after all, understood. But, as already noted, in stark contrast to the other situations, adduced by Gentry, and many times in my book. At the risk of redundancy, let me say again:
✖ We have not one text that says that after further instructions the apostles realized that they did not understand.
✖ We have not one text in which Jesus said they were still confused.
✖We have not one text in which they confessed any ignorance concerning that which Jesus had explained to them in Matthew 13.
✖ We have not one text– certainly none in the Olivet Discourse – in which Jesus expressed disappointment, chagrin, or exasperation at their failure to understand the end of the age after he had instructed them on the meaning of the parable.
Gentry needs to face the fact that his claim of the Fallacy of Bifurcation, suggests that there is another option, another possibility (which he conveniently fails to give): The Apostles truly did understand Jesus’ teaching on the end of the age, just as they said they did. And unless and until Gentry can produce the evidence, not just his words, but the actual textual evidence to prove that the apostles were truly confused, in spite of their words, then fairness suggests that we accept their words as truth.
If you go through the torture of reading Preston, be careful about his quotations. He stumbles there as well. For instance, on p. 83 we read:
With these things before us, we are ready now to address the objection — Gentry’s key argument (and others agree with him) — that says, “Jesus’ disciples were constantly confused or ignorant and simply dull. That is true on many occasions. It is therefore entirely possible — if not probable — that they were confused when they asked their questions in Matthew 24:3.”
Well, I must confess to a bit of chagrin, a bit of confusion, and even a bit of amusement here. See my fuller explanation immediately below, but let me make an observation. My books generally go through a minimum of three separate proof readers, all of whom have varying degrees of professional proof reading / editing experience. For instance, my wife was employed by a newspaper as proof reader for a couple of years. A good friend, Scott Fisher has done professional proof reading. I could name others who assist. What does this mean?
Well, as anyone who has published a book can attest, there is no such thing as a “perfect” book. I have lots and lots of scholarly books that have been through arduous editing / proof reading and yet, you find typos, grammatical errors, and shock and dis-belief, sometimes even quotations are not present!
Now, does this mean that those books– futurist books in 99.9% of the cases, were being sloppy or that they were “stumbling”? Well, the proof readers did miss the errors, but anyone with a sense of fairness – and especially someone who has published books themselves, as Gentry has– should not be hyper-critical about such things. Gentry is patently being “hyper-critical and nit-picky.” And speaking of typos and proof-reading. I have found no less than five– perhaps six- typos, i.e. misspellings, missing periods, missing quotation marks, etc. in Gentry’s article. Was he being “careless,” or “sloppy”?
The question is, how does Gentry’s hyper-critical comments have anything whatsoever to do with the validity of the teaching in my book? Now, if my book was so filled with grammatical errors, typos, etc. – as some books I have personally reviewed have been– that a person could not cut through all the errors and focus on the contents, then perhaps Gentry would have a point. But my book is not like that, and he well knows it. He is desperately grasping at a broken straw in his attack of my book.
As to my books being “torturous” to read, I can produce the testimonies of countless readers, including professional academics, who praise my books for their clarity, their logic, the proper application of exegesis and hermeneutic and their depth of research. So there is that.
Despite his quotation marks, I never made that statement.
Well, I was putting Gentry’s sentiments, and those of the scholars, into a quote for convenience sake. Notice that I did not give a page number from Gentry which I would have done had I actually been quoting him. He thus misrepresents what I was doing.
Then, in his footnote #4, Gentry says: “Apparently Preston is committing his own “illegitimate, artificial hermeneutic of ‘Missing Words / Missing Elements” when analyzing what I say, or rather, don’t say.”
Perhaps Mr. Gentry does not fully understand what I mean by the Missing World Hermeneutic– (I suspect he does, since I discuss it length in my We Shall Meet Him In The Air: The Wedding of the King of kings that he cites in his current article!). But wants to simply muddy the waters. This is a blatant “apples to oranges” mischaracterization. For those who wish to read my thoughts on the horrible Missing Word Hermeneutic that Gentry and a host of others employ, and to understand how misguided his current claim is, read my article on this issue, and get a copy of my book just mentioned.
In Gentry’s third installment of his series, which is just another attack on my “attitudinal problems” he hints that his real argument is that, “Jesus does not mention either the parousia or the “end of the age” in the immediately preceding context so as to spark their questions as uniquely framed. But these are the very issues raised in their questions (Matt. 24:3).”
This is indeed a form of the Missing Word Hermeneutic, but since Gentry did not develop it in that third installment, I will wait to read his entire, developed argument, before I offer a critique. I will simply say that just because Jesus had not used the word parousia prior to Matthew 24 does not support Gentry’s claim that the apostles were confused.
On p. 33 he writes:
I shared earlier a quote from Craig Blomberg:
“The disciples conflated (Blomberg) all of this (end of the age and the parousia, DKP) into what Jesus announced….”
But this (and the full citation that he gives) is not a quote from Blomberg. This is a quote from Sam Frost, which Preston gave earlier in his book on p. 4. There he noted in introducing the quotation: “In a 2019 FaceBook exchange with Sam Frost, former preterist, he made the following statement…..” Then follows the quotation given verbatim on p. 33. I even noticed several places where he had an opening quotation mark, but no closing mark. This makes it difficult to determine how much of a statement was quoted.
So, it is not just the confusing cover of the book that you have to consider. But the confused attributions of quotations that Preston gives.
Funny that Gentry calls my book, including the cover, confusing. The amazing thing is that I have heard from a very large number of people who think that the book is anything but confusing. As one reviewer on Amazon stated: “Dr. Preston (as is his usual practice) gives a though refutation of the idea that the Apostles were confused when they asked the questions in Matthew 24.” This reviewer surely thought he understood my points clearly enough. I could produce several similar quotes.
Now, Gentry has indeed called attention to the fact that on page 33 I ascribed a quote to Blomberg when in reality it was a quote from Sam Frost who was citing Blomberg. I had given that quote from Frost on page 4, and later on page 33, I wrongly credited it to Blomberg. (Blomberg did indeed say that the apostles wrongly conflated the fall of Jerusalem with the end of the world). So, it was Frost who cited Blomberg, and I wrongly ascribed the entire quote to Blomberg on page 33 and not Frost. Thus, I actually appreciate this being noted, and in the future I will do my best to correct this ascription.
I will conclude this third installment here. Let me remind you that I am offered a great discount on my book, Watching for the Parousia: Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused. Be sure to take advange of this great price!
My next article #4 will be my final response to Gentry’s first article. After that, I will address the rest of his articles in order, so stay tuned!