Kenneth Gentry: Confused, Confusing and Desperate–
My Third Response to his Fourth Article
As with Gentry’s first three articles I am copying and pasting the entirety of his article so that the reader and see all that he says. I have deleted ads for his books and irrelevant verbiage that is not germaine to his article.
This is my third response to his fourth article.
Be sure to go back and read all of my responses to his articles.
ANOTHER CONFUSED DISCIPLE (Matt 24:3) Part 4
AD 70, Matthew 24, Olivet Discourse November 20, 2020
PMW 2020-101 by Kenneth L Gentry, Jr.
Sixth, regarding Issue 3 and the disciples’ instruction in the synagogues and the temple:
Preston asks: “May we believe that the disciples were “blithely ignorant” of what had been taught in the synagogues and the temple?” Well, … yes! Again, we must recall that the disciples were “blithely ignorant” of what Jesus directly and specifically taught them about the most important part of his earthly mission, his death, burial, and resurrection (see Second comment above). Why would it be surprising if they were confused about the prophetic statements, which we know to be sometimes difficult (e.g., Acts 8:26–31; 1 Pet. 1:10–11; cp. Isa. 6:11; Dan. 7:15–16)? Daniel shows his difficulty in understanding Jeremiah’s prophecy regarding the Babylonian captivity (cp. Dan. 9:1–3, 22–23; Jer. 25:11–14).
More diversion and deflection. Gentry focuses on the confusion concerning Jesus’ passion and extrapolates from that to confusion about eschatology. Yet, to repeat our oft made point, we know that the apostles did not understand about Jesus’ coming passion because the Bible tells us so. But we have not one text that says, that suggests, that hints, that the apostles– in spite of their asservation that they did understand– were in fact confused. Not one.
Now, notice that Gentry appeals to Daniel 9 and Jeremiah 25, trying (hoping, I suppose) that the reader will not pay close attention to what was going on in those texts.
But, ever so briefly, consider this:
The ancient rabbis knew, they understood, that Daniel 9 foretold the first century events. They also understood that other OT prophecies foretold the AD 70 destruction. Yohannan Ben Zakkai, very prominent first century rabbi, commented on Zechariah 11: “Open they doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may consume you.” He applied this prophecy to AD 70 as early as 30 A. D. ( Lloyd Gaston, No Stone On Another, Leiden; Brill Academic, 1970) 465). And consider the fact that according to Gaston the post AD 70 Rabbis lamented, “All dates for the end have expired and the matter now depends solely on repentance and good works.” (Gaston, Stone, 464). Thus, very clearly, even the early rabbis understood that the time for the appearance of Messiah was to be in the first century. Does this demand that they understood every nuance of eschatology? No, but they assuredly had a clear cut concept of when Messiah was to appear– and they were right about that.
It should be pointed out also that based on Daniel 2 & 7, those same rabbis calculated that the days of the fourth beast were the days of the Roman empire, the first century, for the appearing of Messiah. Were they wrong? Were they confused about that? Did their “sinful dullness” prevent them from understanding when Messiah was to come? Patently not, and Gentry knows this.
The point here is that Gentry ponders: “Why would it be surprising if they were confused about the prophetic statements, which we know to be sometimes difficult…?” This is assumption and presumption. To ask, “Is it possible that the apostles were confused?” is not to establish in any way that they were confused! To ask about the possibility of confusion has no probitive or evidentiary value. It is not an argument. And again, Gentry knows that the ancients properly calculated the time of the fourth empire as Rome, and they knew that the time for Messiah to appear had come. Were those prophetic time indicators so difficult to understand? Why didn’t their “sinful dullness” prevent them from understanding what time it was?
Let’s not forget that Jesus castigated the Jews for not understanding — even in their sinful dullness, -what time it was: “He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:2-3). Seems to me that if those folks were supposed to know – based on the Old Testament prophecies – what time it was, that even their “sinful dullness” was not sufficient to prevent them from seeing the signs and discerning the times.
After all, did not all the first century Jewish religious leadership miss the appearing of the Messiah and even condemn him to death (Luke 23:13–21; 24:19–20; John 11:47–50)? And this despite his death, burial, and resurrection were “according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3, 4), “written of Him” (Matt. 26:64) and spoken of him by “the prophets” (Luke 24:25–27). These temple and synagogue teachers were supposedly “experts” in God’s word and had access to copies of it (unlike the fishermen disciples), but badly misunderstood it. And they certainly wrongly taught it.
Do we not see constant debates between Jesus and the Pharisees regarding the proper interpretation of various portions of Scripture (e.g., Matt. 12:2, 5; 19:3) leading Jesus to warn the disciples about these religious authorities (Matt. 16:6, 11)? Jesus even calls the Pharisees “blind guides” (Matt. 23:16, 17, 19, 24, 26) who “tie up heavy burdens” on men’s shoulders (v. 4), “shut off the kingdom of heaven from people” (v. 13), whose converts are “twice as much a son of hell” as they themselves are (v. 15). He also warns his disciples regarding “the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matt. 16:12). How much accurate instruction would the disciples have received in the temple and the synagogue from such men?
Did the first century rabbis miss the time when Messiah was to appear? Gentry knows they did not.
Did the Pharisees and rabbis miss the nature of the Messiah’s work? Sure did! That is clear and undeniable. But again, did the first century rabbis miss the time when Messiah was to appear? Gentry knows they did not.
Was there debate in the synagogue about the proper interpretation of scripture? No one denies that. There were numerous concepts about the proper hermeneutic and the proper application of the ancient prophecies. Does that debate mitigate my point, that the apostles were almost undoubtedly aware of the prophecies of the AD 70 destruction?
So, Gentry is, sadly, guilty of trying to argue that since there was a good bit of confusion in the synagogues and the temple, and that since the Pharisees were “blind leaders” etc., that this somehow demands that the apostles were totally confused about eschatological matters. But again, that simply does not follow, as I have proven. This is a good bit of projection taking place.
A difficulty I will deal with later
On pp. 199ff of We Shall Meet Him in The Air Preston makes an enormous gaffe that absolutely undermines his entire argument. He is attempting to argue that Matt. 24:36 does not preclude our knowing the nearness of Christ’s coming. Thus, he is arguing against orthodox Christianity’s view that this verse states that we cannot know when Christ’s Second Coming is near, because Jesus says that only the Father knows this. Preston thinks he is scoring big against this view when he writes on p. 199:
An appeal to Matthew 24:36, to mitigate the apostolic statements of the nearness of Christ’s coming is an implicit denial of the inspiration of the apostles. It was the Father — who knew the day and hour — who sent the Spirit to the apostles, to show you things to come.’ Thus, all apostolic declarations of the nearness of the end were, in fact, statements from the Father!
In his mind, this allows that we can know the nearness of Christ’s coming, the day and the hour, after the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost (around AD 30). And of course for Preston that “coming” is not the historic Christian view of the future, bodily Second Coming but is the Lord’s (metaphorical) judgment-coming against the temple in AD 70.
I will not show how three rather clear observations destroy his argument, causing him to shoot himself in the foot. He stumbles badly here, but I will demonstrate this in a future Olivet Discourse book, which I am currently working on. Stay tuned. But for now, I will just simply state that this is a self-destructive argument for Preston. I will leave my reader with a challenge: Think it through. Perhaps you will see his error, since once you notice it, it sticks out like a black fly on a white wedding cake. But for now, I must close. Prior obligations are calling.
Wow! So, here is Gentry saying: “I found a huge gap in Preston’s argument but I am not gonna share it with you yet, so you have to wait for it until I publish it in an upcoming book!” We have to wait for his book to be published to find out what my massive mistake is? Makes me wonder if we have to wait as long on that book as we have been waiting for his book on Revelation which has been, literally, years now!
Seriously, I am on pins and needles! From my quote above that Gentry shares, I fail to see any fallacy in my argument, but perhaps Gentry can reveal my error. Hopefully, for him at least, he will do a better job of that than he has done in his four articles.
Gentry claims that he has found the key to Matthew 24:36 that will somehow mitigate the revelatory work of the Spirit regarding the timing of the Lord’s coming? Now, that will be more than interesting to see. After all, since it was the Father who knew the day and hour of Christ’s coming, and it was the Father that sent the Spirit to the apostles to inform them that, “the end of all things has drawn near”, and “the parousia has drawn near,” etc. then I fail to see where and how Gentry can find fault with those facts. I mean, Paul said repeatedly, through that revelatory Spirit, that the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3) and the Romans (13:11f) knew what eschatological time it was! Did the Father not reveal the truth about the imminence of the end, and Christ’s parousia?
You have to keep in mind that Gentry brings a world of presuppositions to his view of Matthew 24:36. He assumes that the apostles had asked about the end of the current Christian age, and Christ’s literal, physical bodily coming. He assumes without proving.
Then, taking that for granted, he comes to Matthew 24:36 and in his writings claims that there is a strong adversative in that text when Jesus said “but of that day and hour.” He assumes that “that day and hour” must be the end of time that the apostles supposedly asked about.
I won’t take the time to share how Gentry totally ignores Jesus’ allusion to the Jewish Feast day of Rosh HaShanah in this verse. But his oversight is common– but harmful to proper understanding of the verse.
Let’s not forget that Gentry is very clear in affirming the first century imminence of the Lord’s coming in AD 70. Where did the apostles get the knowledge of that? I am pretty sure that Gentry is going to tell us that the NT shows that Christ would go away “for a long time” (Matthew 25:14f), and perhaps he will claim that “long time” must be 2000 years. But that argument will not hold water. It is full of false presuppositions.
And of course, we cannot ignore the fact that once again, Gentry appeals to “orthodox Christianity’s view” of Matthew 24:36, all the while admitting that church history, the consensus of scholarly opinion, and the “orthodox” Christian view does not determine truth. Let me remind the reader – one more time – that Gentry admits that his own eschatology is not that of “orthodox Christianity’s view” and is not that of the great scholarly consensus! So, while he constantly condemns Preston and preterists for opposing orthodoxy and the scholars, it is perfectly fine for Gentry to stand opposed to it!
So, Preston’s arguments simply do not hold water. His arguments about the disciples’ confusion are themselves confused. He certainly has a fertile imagination. But sometimes I worry about what he fertilizes it with.
1. As I noted in my opening article, I am not entirely sure of the title to Preston’s book. The front cover of the book is itself very confusing in this regard. The larger type font reads: “Watching for the Parousia.” Though just below it is a much smaller font stating: “Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused?” But the spine has: “Watching for the Parousia: Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused?” It is not until you get to the title page and back-of-title page that you find the apparent official title that he would have submitted for its ISBN: Were the Disciples Confused?
And as I noted in my response, What in the world does this snide attack have to do with the content of the book and my arguments? I have shared that corrections have been made, and Gentry has even read my earlier articles, so why does he continue to bring up this issue, since it truly is irrelevant and meaningless. This is nothing but poisoning the well and obfuscation. It actually reveals that he has nothing of true merit to offer, so he just continues to make his totally irrelevant, snide and sarcastic comments.
What is more, Preston’s larger (450-page) work, We Shall Meet Him in The Air, is laid out in quite a bizarre way. The first page you see when you open the book contains the material that is invariably put on the back of the book’s title page (publishing information, copyright, etc.). Then the next thing you read is the Table of Contents. Then after the Table of Contents comes the Foreword. And then comes the title page! I have never seen such a strange layout. Plus, I don’t know why the definite article “The” in the title is capitalized. Perhaps his untraditional layout is an acted parable about his untraditional theology.
And so, once again, Gentry lays aside any attempt at Bible arguments, and attacks the layout of my book? For what purpose? I suppose when you know you don’t have actual Bible arguments, exegetical arguments, then you resort to this kind of “response.” But, it is really quite demeaning – and revealing about Mr. Gentry. Think seriously about this!
2. I am aware of the views of the Hyper-preterist regarding the parousia and “the end of the age.” But I will deal with their errors on these issues in another context.
Well, on the one hand, Gentry said he was only going to have four articles, but now, he informs us that there is more coming! Was he confused when he said “four”? Was he misleading us? Why delay sharing what he claims is a bombshell discovery of fatal error on my part? I mean, get it out there so that the world can see it– ASAP!
This concludes my response to Gentry’s four articles. However, I will be addressing some other revealing things about Mr. Gentry’s eschatology in an upcoming article, so be looking for it.
In the meantime, be sure to get yourself a copy of my two books that Gentry assails:
We Shall Meet Him in the Air: The Wedding of the King of kingshttps://www.store.bibleprophecy.com/product/we-shall-meet-him-in-the-air/
Watching for the Parousia: Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused?