Kenneth Gentry -V- Kenneth Gentry| Postmillennialism Against Itself
Kenneth Gentry is a man that I respect a great deal. He is an excellent writer and his work on the dating of Revelation is, in my estimation, the best work available on the early dating of Revelation. Of course, Gentry is a futurist, of the Postmillennial view. He has also written the best modern day apology for that eschatological perspective that is available.
Gentry is also an outspoken critic of Covenant Eschatology, i.e. the full (true) preterist view. The trouble for Gentry is that his attempt to refute CE (Covenant Eschatology) demonstrate the intrinsic falsity of his Postmillennialism and futurism as a whole. I would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate that claim in formal public debate, but, Gentry has adamantly and persistently rejected numerous invitations to debate me. But, that invitation stands open.
While there is an incredible amount of material that can prove Gentry’s self-contradiction, this short article will focus on Romans 11:25f contrasted with Gentry’s view of Revelation. The reality is that Gentry has destroyed his personal eschatology from his own key-board.
Gentry and Postmillennialism on Romans 11:25f – The Salvation of “All Israel”
Dr. Gentry espouses the classic Postmillennial view of Romans 11:25f on the doctrine of the salvation of “all Israel”: “Postmillennialists sees here the promise of world conversion as finally including Israel herself.”…. “We must understand that since Israel’s loss is almost total (only a remnant remains, 11:5), her ‘fulfillment’ (Gk, pleroma) must be commensurate with her loss, which means it must be virtually total. Hence, postmillennialists believe in future, massive conversions among the Jews, not only due to general systematic requirements of world salvation, but also due to this exegetical evidence.” (Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, (Draper, VA., Apologetics Group, 2009)254. (A growing number of Postmillennialists now believe Romans 11 was fulfilled in AD 70. See Gary DeMar’s comments here: http://www.preteristsite.com/docs/demarisrael.html).
Per Gentry, the salvation of “all Israel” will come at the Second Coming of Christ, at the end of human history, the end of the Christian age. (This is the classic postmillennial view. Cf. Keith Mathison, in Age To Age: The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology, Phillipsburg, NJ, P & R Publishing, 2009)582.
Okay, so, per Gentry and postmillennialism, Romans 11:25-27 will be fulfilled in the future, at the end of human history and at the second coming of Christ. But, let’s turn now to other of Gentry’s writings in which he seeks to respond to the true preterist view of Luke 21:22.
Gentry has felt the pressure and power of Luke 21:22, where Jesus, speaking of the coming judgment on Jerusalem in AD 70, said, “these be the days of vengeance when all things that are written must be fulfilled.” Preterists continually appeal to this text and so, Gentry wrote an article in which he claimed that the preterist appeal to Jesus’ words is totally misguided and wrong. As proof of this claim, he offered this:
“The grammar of the passage (Luke 21, DKP) limits the declaration. Jesus speaks of ‘all things which are written’ by employing a perfect passive participle: ‘gegrammena’ (‘having been written’). This refers to prophecies already written – when he speaks in AD 30. Yet we know that more prophecies arise later in the New Testament revelation. Once again we see a limitation on Jesus’ statement. Furthermore, technically it does not even refer to any prophecy which Christ speaks. For these are not prophecies that have already been written. That being the case, the final resurrection (for instance) is outside of this declaration (Jn 5:28-29). Thus, Jesus is referring to all things written in the Old Testament. At this stage of redemptive history those are the only prophecies that had already been written.” (Gentry’s comments can be found in his book, He Shall Have Dominion, (2009, 542f).
I must confess that I could hardly believe what I was reading from Dr. Gentry. Let’s look closer.
Gentry and Postmillennialism On the Fulfillment of All Things That Are Written
Here are a few thoughts taken from a book that I am currently finishing. It is a book on Daniel 12 and the question of whether Daniel foretold the general resurrection or a limited, typological resurrection. Lord willing, that book will be published next year. Here are a few edited excerpts in response to what Gentry wrote.
You cannot say that all Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled at the AD 70 parousia of Christ without admitting to the AD 70 fulfillment of Romans 11. Romans 11 predicted the salvation of “all Israel” in fulfillment of three Old Testament prophecies (specifically three, but, others also). Those specific OT prophecies are, as admitted by virtually all scholars, Isaiah 27:10f; Isaiah 59:20f and Jeremiah 31:31f. I do not feel it necessary to document that; it is admitted by virtually all commentators. It is beyond dispute.
With this in mind, consider what this does for Dr. Gentry and Postmillennialism:
All Old Testament prophecy would be fulfilled by the time of and in the events of the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Kenneth Gentry).
But, the Old Testament predicted the salvation of “all Israel” (Isaiah 27; 59; Jeremiah 31 being the specific source of Paul’s expectation of the salvation of Israel).
Therefore, the salvation of “all Israel” was fulfilled no later than the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
This point alone destroys Gentry’s attempt at refuting Covenant Eschatology, and needless to say, destroys the Postmillennialism that he espouses.
Notice carefully that Gentry makes no qualifying comment. He says “Thus, Jesus is referring to all things written in the Old Testament. At this stage of redemptive history those are the only prophecies that had already been written.” (My emphasis, DKP).
Consider then the following argument in light of the question of eschatology as a whole:
All things written in the Old Testament, i.e. all Old Testament prophecy, was fulfilled by the time of and in the events of the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. (Kenneth Gentry).
But, the Old Testament prophesied the resurrection of the dead (Acts 24:14f; 26:6f; 26:21f, Romans 8:23-9:1-4, 1 Corinthians 15:55-56).
Therefore, the prophecies of the resurrection of the dead were fulfilled by the time of, and in the events of, the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Notice the fuller argument in bullet points:
✮Gentry posits the future salvation of all Israel in fulfillment of Romans 11.
✮Romans 11 posits the salvation of Israel at the coming of the Lord.
✮The coming of the Lord of Romans 11 is the second coming of Christ – Gentry.
✮Romans 11 posits the salvation of Israel at the coming of the Lord in fulfillment of OT prophecies (Isaiah 27 / 59 / Jeremiah 31).
✮ But, all OT prophecies were fulfilled no later than AD 70 – Gentry.
✮Therefore, the salvation of Israel at the second coming of Christ, was fulfilled no later than AD 70.
This argument is prima facie, indisputably true. Postmillennialism is refuted.
It is incontrovertibly true that the Old Testament foretold the salvation of Israel, the resurrection of the dead and the second coming of Christ. Gentry agrees. For instance, he appeals (at least he has in the past) to Isaiah 26 as a prediction of the final resurrection (Dominion, 1992 edition, 283, 284). In that same book, however, he also appealed to Daniel 12 as a prediction of the final resurrection, but he has since rejected that view. He now accepts the true preterist position that Daniel 12 foretold the resurrection of the corporate body of Israel as the body of Christ in AD 70. So, while he cited Isaiah 26 as an OT source for a literal resurrection of decomposed bodies I am uncertain if he still does, since he does not cite the text in his 2009 Dominion work.
It is irrefutably true that Romans 11, the prediction of the salvation of all Israel, and that all New Testament prophecies of the resurrection and parousia are drawn from and are the reiteration of the Old Testament prophecies.
It is undeniable that Jesus said that all things written would be fulfilled by the time of, and in the events of, the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Gentry is correct in affirming that all Old Testament prophecies would be fulfilled at / in AD 70. And this proves, beyond refutation, that the salvation of all Israel in Romans 11, the resurrection of the dead and second coming of Christ came at the dissolution of the Old Covenant age of Israel in AD 70.
So, since Jesus in Luke 21:22 was referring to the fulfillment of all OT prophecies, he was in effect referring to the fulfillment of all NT prophecy. There are no “new” eschatological prophecies in the New Testament.
It should be more than evident that Dr. Gentry has completely falsified his own view – (and Postmillennialism) – of Romans 11. His argument on Luke 21:22 – being true as it is – demands that the salvation of Israel, the coming of Christ and the resurrection was fulfilled in AD 70.
If Gentry is right in his comments on Luke 21:22 – and he is – he thereby (logically) becomes a full preterist.
I strongly suspect that this article will be ignored, or, that at some juncture, Dr. Gentry will come up with another, different view and argument on Romans 11 and / or Luke 21:22.
Perhaps Gentry will even abandon the classic Postmillennial view, and adopt yet another non-creedal view of Romans 11. Will he accept the view of Seriah, who claims that Romans 11:25f was fulfilled at the cross? (Jonathan Seriah, The End of All Things, A Defense of Futurism, Moscow, Idaho, Canon Press, 1999)108-109. This is easily refuted.
Perhaps he will now accept the true preterist view of Romans 11, as DeMar has done, seeing the fulfillment occurring in AD 70. Note: I had originally provided a link to Gary DeMar’s comments on Romans 11. However, it now seems that for some reason DeMar has removed the link / article. I do not know the reason why.
Gentry may possibly resort to arguing that Romans 11 had a typological fulfillment in AD 70. This would raise all sorts of additional thorny issues for him, and will not work. See my book, AD 70: A Shadow of the “Real” End? for a thorough discussion and refutation of the claim that AD 70 was typological of another future coming of Christ.
This would be a radical change – not to mention non-creedal – but, as we noted above, he has been willing in the past to change his views (e.g. Daniel 12) and accept a non-creedal view – an admirable trait. (Of course, the irony of this is that Gentry has often strongly condemned preterists because we are not “creedal.” Yet, he increasingly takes non-creedal positions on key eschatological passages).
It will be interesting to watch and see what happens with Ken Gentry in regard to Romans 11 – and perhaps even Luke 21:22. The fact is that from Gentry’s own writings, Postmillennialism has been refuted.
8 Replies to “Kenneth Gentry -V- Kenneth Gentry – Postmillennialism Against Itself”
I know other post mil people that have no problem with Romans 11 being fulfilled in 70AD. Odd that Gentry would “go to the mat” over this verse. I have a hard time getting anything specific about a future return of Christ in the future out of post mil believers, they mostly stick with 1 Thessalonians or revelation 20 to make some sort of point, which ultimately fails as well. I don’t think most post mil people would agree with him about Romans 11…
There has been a radical change– as I note in the article – in postmillennial thought on Romans 11. Historically though, Romans 11 has played a key role in the Reformed community as an “end time event”. That is true of both Reformed Amillennialists and Postmillennialists. So, for creedalists to abandon that view is more than a little remarkable. Thanks for visiting our site!
Isn’t using Luke 21:22 like that an over-application of the words of Jesus? Without pre-supposing on the text, Jesus called these the “days of vengeance”. Without much thought, this appears to be speaking of Leviticus 26:25, executing “vengeance for the covenant”. Looking at Leviticus 26 we see the summary punishments for disobedience to the covenant. They will be punished (with 70 years of exile, 2 Chron 36:21; Lev 26:34), and if they continue in disobedience, they will be punished more. Either 7-times more (7+1=8), or 7-times total, depending on which case. In this light, it seems the 70 7s of years are the decree of meted out additional judgment upon Israel for their stated disobedience in, say, Daniel 9:14b, “…but we have not obeyed”. The final fulfillment of Daniel, of course, is the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem, and the scattering of the power of the holy people (Daniel 12:7), or the breaking of the Jewish nation, the dismantling of their spiritual center and temple, and the scattering of the people. This is the outcome through history, and is the stated end of Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28 (see v48), as well as Daniel 12 (v7, as well as Dan 8:19; 11:36).
In that light, since Jesus set the context by calling it the “Days of vengeance”, if He is indeed referring to Leviticus 26:25, all things being considered, He is speaking of the “vengeance for the covenant”. Hence, the referent of “all things written” is stated ‘the covenant’ as referred to in the verse. “All things written” concerning the covenant of Moses, the Torah, and the full written judgments of the entire command of Moses. It should not go unnoticed that Leviticus 26 is the penultimate chapter in this book, and, like Deuteronomy 28, represents the final closing of the covenantal writings for Jewish life. As Daniel 12:7 indicates, the end time of this “indignation” or “vengeance” utter destruction of Israel. And, as Luke 21:22 puts it, the “time of vengeance [for the covenant]” fulfills all of what was written regarding that covenant, regarding that vengeance, with the final punishment upon Israel, thus fulfilling all of what was written in Moses. Such that, God’s plan has moved from a national Israel to an “international house of prayer”, that is, the church.
The issue being, “all things written”, need not apply to anything other than the clear referent in the verse itself, the closing of the ‘writings’, that is, the words of Moses. Thoughts?
Benjamin Hoogterp, thank you for your comments. I agree – in principle – with what you are saying, but, let me offer a thought or two.
The fulfillment of Covenantal Wrath in AD 70 proves several things:
1. It proves that Torah had not passed at the Cross. For Covenant Wrath to be applied, the Covenant had to be in effect.
2. The fact that AD 70 was when “all things written” concerning Covenant Wrath is, prima facie, proof that all eschatology is fulfilled. This is true because throughout the Tanakh, the New Creation, the Resurrection of the dead, the Day of the Lord, are all posited at the time of that consummative covenant judgment of Israel!
3. Paul and the NT writers are very clear, emphatic and explicit that their eschatology was nothing but the hope of Israel found in Torah, and the consummation was near.
So, while on the one hand it is appropriate to say that Luke 21:22 was saying that the full outpouring of Covenant Wrath is what was included in “all things written” that demands that all eschatology was fulfilled. You cannot divorce the time of Covenant Wrath on Israel from the eschatological consummation.
Mr. Preston – I appreciate your response. In it, however, I cannot follow you in the assertion that “You cannot divorce the time of Covenant Wrath on Israel from the eschatological consummation”, because, in my mind, they were never married. I believe we exchanged briefly before regarding Matthew 24, esp v29, “eutheos” need not be rendered “immediately”, as the lexicon also supports “directly” or “straightway”. The word merely means “straight”, and, depending on context, can support a time-gap. Similarly, Daniel 12:2-3 appear to make use of the ‘prophetic perfect’, in that they switch context to events that are on-going (shining like stars in heaven forever), and are not fully and perfectly accomplished in any time period (they are ‘forever’). Also, the ‘little Apocalypse’, of Is 24-27. Perhaps there are more thoughts to consider, but I do not see the need to connect the time of covenant wrath, particularly, the new creation…
But, even beyond that, I cannot follow the logic. After all, there is the covenant of Moses contained in the Torah, but there is more in the Torah than simply the covenant of Moses, let alone the rest of the Tanakh. If one accepts the referent to be the “covenant” (as per Lev 26:25), then it is specifically the covenant which is being addressed, and not even the entirety of the Torah, is it not? Neither the historical segments, nor the wisdom and psalms, nor the prophetic writings need be included. So, the whole thing hinges on your point #2, whether the ‘judgment’ of the covenant need be in direct temporal correlation (“immediately”) with the rest. I understand it is widely accepted as it is, but I do not see it in the text.
One side question that comes to mind from the Gospels… If the Torah has passed, as I believe you hold (Mt 5:18), and not being a universalist (“all are saved”)… Does John 3:18b still hold, “…those who believe not are condemned already…”. And, if so, on what grounds are they condemned? Just curious your response.
Benjamin, Let me offer a few thoughts:
1. Covenant Wrath and the consummation are in fact inseparable. The New Creation would arrive when Old Covenant Israel would be destroyed (Isaiah 65:13-19; 66: 4ff)).
2. I still disagree with your assessment of eutheos. It simply cannot be extrapolated into a long period of time.
3. There is no switch of context in Daniel 12. The grammatical construction does not permit that. There is no contextual justification for inserting a gap into the text. Verse 6 asks when all of the previous things would be fulfilled– not just some of them.. Verse 7 says all of them, not just some – would be fulfilled when Israel was destroyed– thus establishing again the interconnectedness of Covenant Wrath and the eschatolon.
4. There is no justification for dichotomizing the Tanakh into Covenant and non-covenant. No Hebrew would ever think such a thing! They referred to the entirety of the Tanakh as “the law” for instance. It is wrong for us moderns to create a distinction as you are positing. The prophets did not predict a different judgment from that in the prophets or the Psalms.
5. The covenant sanctions of Leviticus cannot be divorced from, for instance, the Song of Moses, and the Law of Blessings and Cursing, which anticipated Israel’s last end.
6. Faith in Christ is indeed fundamentally essential today.
Of course, your use of Isaiah 65 rests upon the spiritualization of the passage (which may or may not be passable). I, for one, do not find imagery such as the “wolf and the lamb” feeding together or the lion eating straw like an ox to be overly symbolic in their setting. It would seem, from such plain usage of words, that the literal is in view, and anything otherwise would be diminishing the passage. Regardless, the passage certainly speaks nothing of time frame. Even if you could extrapolate “sequence”, there is nothing about “when” the New heaven and Earth would come, only that they would, in their time.
As for ‘eutheos’ and Daniel 12, I would simply point out with the one that the New Testament usage of the word already accounts for hours, days, and even months in the usage of the Word. The context clearly supports it. If I could post an image here, it might clear it up. Imagine a road stretching off into the horizon for infinity. Like in Acts, “street called straight”. That is “eutheos” (Acts 9:11). Now, imagine a cul-de-sac, a little circle at the end of a virtually non-existent road. That is “no-middle”, or “immediately”. “straight” has no constraint on length, only lack of curves. Daniel 12, while we have discussed before, could likewise refer to the many saints who came alive at the time, and were seen by many. As we have discussed before, I simply do not agree with your summary.
But, I was not dichotomizing the Tanakh, only saying that the Torah and the prophets, and perhaps some of the wisdom and psalms literature sometimes appear to speak to different events, some of which fall AFTER 70 AD. For instance, Zechariah 11:17 appears to be speaking of the death of Simon Bar Koziva in 135 AD, ending the 2nd Jewish revolt. At least in some Rabbinic literature, Bar Koziva kicked a fasting Rabbi in anger, causing him to die. According to the account, a voice spoke from heaven and, more or less, quoted Zech 11:17, leading to the fall of Betar, and the death of Bar Koziva. Link provided:
Thus, I don’t see a need for, say, all of Zechariah to be fulfilled by the end of 70 AD. Why should it have been? I don’t think this is “dichotomizing” the Tanakh, any more than to say that “and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Dan 9:27) could well be speaking of the both the first (70 AD) and second (135 AD) Jewish revolts, in that the first revolt was bad enough, leaving it desolate, but in the consummation, that which was determined was poured out upon that which was ‘already’ desolate’.
Again, I see no ‘dichotomy’, rather, an over pre-conceived notion (in my mind) of 70 AD, and an undue weight placed on a phrase ‘all things written’ (which just as well could just apply to ONLY the “days of vengeance” part of the covenant, meaning, specifically, Leviticus 26), leads to an unnatural, and unintended reading of the text, and results in eisigetical interpretations (as I see this rendering of Luke 21:22, currently). It need not apply beyond the application of the “days of vengeance” itself, limiting the focus to only the four-fold, 7-fold increases in punishment.
But, you miss my point. I’m glad to see you’re not a universalist (there’s plenty out there who are these days), but the question was, on what basis, under John 3:18, are unbelievers condemned? What are they condemned for, if I can ask, if not the law? And, if not the law, were they condemned for the same reason in the days Jesus was preaching (law or not law)? What is the basis for the condemnation in John 3:18?
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