Kenneth Gentry: Confused, Confusing and Desperate – #1
The following is the entirety of an article posted by Kenneth Gentry, in response to my new book: Watching for the Parousia: Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused? I am copying and pasting the entirety of his article, with the exception of ads, some unnecessary end notes, and a few superfluous comments. With those exceptions I am giving the entire article by Gentry so that the reader can see for themselves all of what Gentry says– and how he says it. Take note also that I will be responding to Gentry’s articles on my YouTube channel in the near future, so be looking for that.
I have been an avid reader of Gentry’s writings for many years. I even sell some of his books on my websites, since I consider them to be excellent. This is particularly true of his Before Jerusalem Fell, and his The Beast of Revelation. Both of these works are extremely helpful in establishing the early dating of Revelation.
Not only that, Gentry’s books have laid the foundation for untold numbers of Bible students to become full (true) preterists. I hear from them very, very often! They testify to me about their journey to the full preterist view, and their indebtedness to Gentry, as well as DeMar, even Mathison and McDurmon, for providing the solid hermeneutic that led them to accept Covenant Eschatology.
In person, I have found Gentry to be cordial, if not warm. In private correspondence, he has been very cordial indeed. However, as the reader will see, in his article, Gentry takes the gloves off in his diatribe against me and my new book. And, let me say this: In all of the years I have been reading Gentry’s writings, (and including videos of debates), I have never– NEVER – read anything that comes remotely close to the vitriolic, caustic, sarcastic and demeaning verbiage that he launches against me (and preterists as a whole). He simply never uses such abrasive and insulting language in his debates and refutations against Dispensationalists, for instance. As you read his comments take note of the adjectives that he uses. It appears more than obvious to me that my book hit a nerve, and that Gentry literally lashed out, with his salvo of insulting language.
It is important that the reader realizes how important it is for Gentry to prove– to prove beyond dispute – that the apostles of Christ were confused in regard to what they were asking about in Matthew 24:3. It is not enough for him, and the majority of commentators, to simply claim that the apostles were misguided, ignorant and confused. That has to be proven. If Gentry cannot prove that the apostles were confused, then his entire eschatology is called into question – and he knows it. I suggest that this is why my book, Watching for the Parousia: Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused has spurred such a vehement, strident and caustic reaction from Mr. Gentry. The book strikes at the very foundation of his eschatology, and the book effectively undermines that foundation.
Gentry’s foundational assumption – totally unproven – is that the apostles ignorantly, in a state of confusion, conflated the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, foretold by Jesus, and the (supposed) future coming of Christ at the end of human history. They supposedly, as John Calvin opined, could not imagine the destruction of the grand Herodian temple unless it were at the end of history and the planet. Mind you, Gentry takes it for granted that the Bible predicts such an event. (This is not the place to discuss whether the Jews even imagined an “end of time” “end of history” eschatology, but, many world class scholars deny such a belief in the Jewish eschatological narrative).
My book, discussed (attacked) by Gentry, is, as noted above, Watching for the Parousia: Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused? It is unique in that it addresses the question head on, and demonstrates how the scholars take for granted the apostles’ confusion, without ever actually engaging in attempts to prove that assumption to be correct. There are some notable exceptions such as N. T. Wright (e.g. Jesus and the Victory of God, Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1996), 346).
Matthew 24:3, therefore, is most naturally read, in its first century Jewish context, not as a question about (what scholars have come to call, in technical language) the ‘parousia’, but as a question about Jesus’ ‘coming’ or ‘arriving’ in the sense of his actual enthronement as king, consequent upon the dethronement of the present powers that were occupying the holy city.
To my knowledge, there is not another book like my Watching, that so directly, so specifically and so thoroughly addresses the question of the apostles’ supposed “confusion.” It is heavily researched, heavily documented, with scholarship from a wide spectrum of perspectives. In the estimation of numerous readers and reviewers, the book establishes beyond refutation that the apostles were not confused when they asked their questions in Matthew 24:3.
The bottom line is this: If the apostles were correct -if they were not confused as Gentry claims – to link the coming of Christ with the end of the age, and the judgment on Jerusalem, then all futurist eschatologies are falsified. Thus, to reiterate, Gentry knows that the foundation of his futurist eschatology is at risk. He MUST prove that the apostles were confused. Unfortunately, instead of doing a cool, calm scholarly review of the book, Gentry has launched into a very personal attack of not just the book, but of me personally. This is truly sad. When one reads his diatribe it is actually easy to understand why Gentry has refused to engage me in formal public debate, even though he has been challenged many times to do so.
With all of this said– and I have much more to say – we turn now to our examination of his article.
ANOTHER CONFUSED DISCIPLE (Matt 24:3) Part 1
AD 70, Matthew 24, Olivet Discourse November 10, 2020.
PMW 2020-098 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Gentry opens with this:
One of my readers who thought I was not busy enough sent me a copy of Don Preston’s book Were the Disciples Confused? (At least I think that is the title. The front cover of the book is itself very confusing in this regard. The largest typefont on the cover reads: “Watching for the Parousia.” The spine even has: “Watching for the Parousia: Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused?” It is not until you get to the title page that you find what perhaps is the official title: Were the Disciples Confused?)
This is a review criticism? This is an issue? This is an argument? This is nothing but “hyper-criticism.” Why make a mountain out of such an ant hill? Now, if my book were loaded with grammatical errors, typographical errors, numerous referential problems, then perhaps he would have a bit more to talk about. But, while the book is not perfect– few, if any are – for Gentry to launch his attack on the book with this strikes one as petty, even nit-picking.
Just what point is Gentry trying to make, that he focuses on such a minor detail? This is surely grasping at a “broken straw.”
Gentry claims that the front cover is confusing. Well, I must confess to a bit of confusion myself. He says that both the cover and the spine say, “Watching for the Parousia: Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused?” But then he says, “It is not until you get to the title page that you find what perhaps is the official title: “Were the Disciples Confused?).”
As I type this, I am sitting here looking at a copy of my book, and the cover, the spine and the title page all say, “Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused?” I suppose it is possible that Gentry may have an early “first run” copy, in which the title page does have, “Disciples” but in the currently available, edited and corrected form, there is no such “confusion.” (Of the editing of books, there is no end!)
As I read through the book I thought that Preston must have left the Church of Christ and joined the Disciples of Christ denomination. For while claiming to be a disciple, he himself is confused. Now having read the book, I too am confused!
Well, yes, it does appear that Gentry is confused! What point is he trying to make by commenting on my denominational affiliation? Is there a logical connection? What does my church affiliation have to do with the content of my book, the validity of my arguments, and the issues raised there? This is a totally irrelevant comment that has no bearing whatsoever on the content of the book or the issue at hand. This is nothing but a smokescreen by Mr. Gentry. It smacks of desperation.
Perhaps some day — if I ever finish my several current contractual obligations! — I may find time to engage Preston’s arguments presented in this book. Despite Preston’s insistence that I spend more of my time dealing with him, for now I want simply to show how that in especially one particular chapter (ch. 3) Preston thinks he has accomplished something that he has not. In fact, as he challenges me, he misses my point. Entirely. His third chapter is titled “Jesus’ Earlier Predictions of The Destruction of Jerusalem.” (Besides my many time-dominating obligations, this is another reason I do not set aside my life and deal with him: it is too frustrating to clean up after a bull in a china shop.)
It is interesting that Gentry keeps telling us how busy he is. Well, I am sure he is, but I can assure you that he is not one bit busier than I am, and I am taking the time to address his diatribe here, and will continue to do so, as he offers us other articles. I will comment more on the issue later, but take note of Gentry’s verbiage, as he seeks to poison the minds of his readers. “Preston is like a bull in a china closet!” Reading Preston is just frustrating, be sure and don’t read his stuff!” This is an attempt to poison the well, and an unbecoming “debater’s trick.”
In this chapter Preston is largely (but not solely) responding to an argument I present on this blogsite (e.g., see his pages 5, 7, 8, 40, 59–62, 135). And of course I am most interested in his argument against my statements on this site. I argued that the disciples were surprised when Christ prophesied the destruction of the temple (Matt. 24:2). Preston even admits their surprise, for in another book he writes: “Jesus’ response shocked the disciples” (Preston, We Shall Meet Him in The Air, 2). I noted that their surprise at his prophecy led to their confusion in their questions (24:3). That is, in their confusion they wrongly linked the temple’s destruction historically to the second coming (parousia) and the end of history (sunteleias tou ainos, “the end of the age“).
Mr. Gentry makes a huge leap in logic, when he claims that because the apostles were surprised, that this necessary means they were confused. But, surprise does not suggest ignorance, and does not demand confusion.
For Gentry’s claim to have any merit, he must prove, definitively, that although the apostles knew of the many OT prophecies of the coming fall of Jerusalem, that in reality, they did not understand even one of them.
He must likewise prove that although some leading rabbis of the day– contemporaries of the apostles – foretold the coming destruction, as I document in my book, that the apostles did not know of that.
And, Gentry must prove beyond doubt that although the apostles had asked Jesus to explain the parable of the end of the age, and he did so, that when, after explaining that parable he asked those apostles, “Do you understand these things?”, and they said “Yes,” that in reality, they did not understand.
Gentry must be able to demonstrate that the apostles even had a concept of “the end of the world” as he claims. Many noted scholars deny that the Jews had such a belief.
Another thing that Gentry must answer is why would the apostles think about the end of the Christian age, when Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple? That temple did not represent the Christian age! Gentry knows this! And yet, he insists that Jesus’ prediction prompted the apostles to think, not of the end of the age that the Temple represented, but the end of the Christian age which had no connection to that temple!
And don’t forget that the end of the age parable that Jesus explained to them cited Daniel 12:3 in v. 43. So, Jesus said that the end of the age would be the fulfillment of Daniel 12. He explained that to the apostles; they said they understood. The amazing thing is that Daniel 12 foretold the destruction of Israel in AD 70. And you must catch the power of this: Kenneth Gentry understands that application of Daniel 12.
Gentry once applied Daniel 12:2 to the end of human history resurrection of human corpses out of the ground (Kenneth Gentry, The Greatness of the Great Commission, (Tyler, Tx., Institute for Christian Economics, 1993), 142). However, he has radically changed his position on this. He now says,
Daniel appears to be presenting Israel as a grave site under God’s curse; Israel as a corporate body is in the dust (Daniel 12:2; cp. Ge. 3:14, 19). In this he follows Ezekiel’s pattern in his vision of the dry bones, which represents Israel’s ‘death’ in the Babylonian dispersion (Ezekiel 37). In Daniel’s prophecy many will awaken, as it were, during the great tribulation to suffer the full fury of divine wrath, while others will enjoy God’s grace in receiving everlasting life (He Shall Have Dominion, (Draper, VA., Apologetics Group, 2009), 538).
Unfortunately, although Gentry understands that Daniel 12:2 foretold the spiritual resurrection of Israel in AD 70, even though Jesus cited Daniel 12 as being fulfilled at the end of the age, Gentry applies Matthew 13:39-43 to the end of the current Christian age. In other words, he claims that while Daniel 12:2 foretold AD 70, and even though Jesus cited Daniel 12:3 (the prediction of the righteous shining as the brightness of the firmament at the end of the age) in Matthew 13:43, Gentry claims that the time of the end of Daniel 12:4 must be the end of human history and the end of the current Christian age (which is unending). That means that Gentry inserts a gap of (so far) 2500 years between Daniel 12: 2 and Daniel 12:4! (And Gentry claims to reject the Dispensational practice of inserting long periods of time, i.e. gaps, into texts where no gap is suggested, hinted at, or permissible). But the reality is that the time of the end of Daniel 12:3 is the time of the resurrection of v. 2. Since Jesus applied Daniel 12: 3-4 to the coming end of the age, then Matthew 13 is about AD 70.
I should note that the time of the end of Daniel 12:4 is (kairou suntelias) is a cognate of Jesus’ reference to the suntelia tou aionion of Matthew 13. Gentry claims that Jesus’ use of sunteleias tou aiwnos – consummation of the age- is totally distinctive and demands that he was speaking of the end of human history. But if Jesus was drawing from Daniel 12, as is undeniably true, then how can Gentry apply Daniel 12:2 to AD 70, and ignore the narrative flow in Daniel that links Daniel 12:2 with verses 3-4? Again, that would mean that Gentry is incorporating the Dispensational Gap Doctrine in order to maintain his view of Matthew 13. There is no justification whatsoever for inserting a gap of 2500 plus years between Daniel 12:2 and Daniel 12:3-4. Thus,
The end of the age resurrection of Daniel 12 was in AD 70– Kenneth Gentry.
But, the end of the age harvest / resurrection of Matthew 13:39f is the end of the age resurrection harvest of Daniel 12.
Therefore, the end of the age harvest / resurrection of Matthew 13:39f is the end of the age resurrection harvest of AD 70.
(Please note: the page references in the comments in this and my next blog articles refer to pages in Preston’s Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused? unless otherwise noted.)
In the first two of my four-article presentation, however, I must express my frustration with Preston’s attitude. This attitudinal problem almost invariably annoys anyone who is not a Hyper-preterist (and there are 7.2 billion of those people). In the third and fourth articles I will highlight some problems I have with his actual argument. I have long realized that discussing eschatology with a Hyper-preterist is like trying to saddle a wild moose: it is a whole lot of trouble and not worth it. So by way of introduction, I will just briefly mention a few of my particular frustrations arising from his attitude exhibited in this book.
We find here the first of many logical fallacies from the keyboard of Mr. Gentry. Notice that resorts to an appeal to the popular / majority view (argumentum ad populum). How can 7.2 Billion people who are not preterists, be wrong??
Mr. Gentry, there are almost 2 billion Muslims in the world, all of whom reject Jesus as the Son of God. What does that prove? There are just over 2.3 billion Christians (most of whom would disagree with Gentry’s view of Revelation by the way), meaning that there are over 5 billion people who reject Gentry’s brand of Christianity. Perhaps Gentry could inform us of how much probitive value his comment here truly has? The point is that Gentry’s appeal to the billions of non-preterists means nothing, and Gentry knows this.
Gentry engages in more “poisoning the well” tactics, by speaking of how often Preston annoys people. Now, to be sure, I never set out to annoy people, but, in my long experience on the front lines of the polemic discussion of preterism, I have found that those who cannot answer the arguments do indeed find my arguments to be annoying, quite upsetting actually. Even more than annoying, even maddening! That is, lamentably, a bit of human nature at work. When you realize that your traditions will not stand the test of public examination, polemic engagement, then you label those who have exposed your fallacies as annoying and you label them as “confusing” or “rabid and argumentative” and a host of other insulting adjectives– those used by Gentry.
Furthermore, let me take note that Gentry surely annoys the Dispensationalists and the Amillennialists with his Postmillennial and Reformed doctrine! Just what does that prove? Not only that, I am confident that Gentry knows that Jesus, his apostles , and all those who have (and do) sought to correct error in the church have “annoyed” the traditional, well entrenched, orthodox leaders!!
Now, to be sure, I never set out to annoy people, but, in my long experience on the front lines of the polemic discussion of preterism, I have found that those who cannot answer the arguments do indeed find my arguments to be annoying, quite upsetting actually. Even more than annoying, even maddening! That is, lamentably, a bit of human nature at work. When you realize that your traditions will not stand the test of public examination, polemic engagement, then you label those who have exposed your fallacies as annoying and you label them as “confusing” or “rabid and argumentative” and a host of other insulting adjectives– those used by Gentry.
It is more than revealing that Gentry attacks what he calls my “attitudinal problems.” But his entire post literally shouts of Gentry’s attitudinal problems!
According to Gentry, full preterists are like Mormons.
According to Gentry full preterists are “cultic.”
According to Gentry preterists are guilty of a “full-blown, radically new theology.”
According to Gentry preterists have our own “holy days.”
According to Gentry, preterists are “rabid and argumentative.”
According to Gentry preterists are like Nancy Pelosi. I suspect he purposefully mis-spelled her name as Paillasse out of disrespect– or is this just a typo? I mean, a paillasse is a thin mattress filled with straw. So, I am a bit “confused” by Gentry’s spelling here. To be sure, I share his rejection of Pelosi’s politics and find her truly dangerous and disgusting. I can assure Mr. Gentry that if I were truly like Pelosi, then I would treat his article like Pelosi treated President Trump’s speech! Instead, I choose to actually engage with what he says.
I will let this suffice as article #1 in response to Kenneth Gentry’s “review” of my book, Watching for the Parousia: Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused? Get your own copy of this book to see for yourself the amazing amount of evidence that I bring forth to prove that the apostles were not as confused as Gentry and other commentators claim– and yet, which they must prove– to sustain their futurist eschatologies. (When we come to examine Gentry’s seemingly foundational argument for proof that the apostles were confused, you will literally be amazed at how bad — and how self-contradictory!- it is, so stay tuned!)