Kenneth Gentry Versus Kenneth Gentry on The Harvest / Resurrection
Kenneth Gentry has been an outspoken critic of Covenant Eschatology. He claims that preterists use a flawed hermeneutic and bad logic– not to mention that we are in violation of church history and the creeds. While Gentry has a history of public debating, he has persistently refused to debate me– the latest refusal coming in February of 2016. Personally, I am not surprised that Gentry continues to refuse to debate this issue, as I and others, e.g, Michael Sullivan for example, have exposed Gentry’s multitudinous fatal self-contradictions repeatedly. The fact is that if Gentry were to step on the polemic platform, with a well read, well informed true preterist, he would not be debating scripture, he would be debating his own writings, seeking desperately to explain those many self contradictions.
Consider Matthew 13 and the parable of the Wheat and Tares. Gentry applies this parable to the end of the current church age that will supposedly terminate human history. (House Divided, the Break-up of Dispensational Theology, Tyler, Tx., Institute for Christian Economics, 1989)196. It is not too much to say that Matthew 13 is a lynchpin of the postmillennial view. Well, actually, we should note that there is a growing, radical development in the Postmillennial ranks in regard to Matthew 13 and those changes are leading more and more Bible students directly to the truth of Covenant Eschatology.
Joel McDurmon, with whom I had a formal public debate in July 2012, says Matthew 13: “Describes the then soon coming end of that old age and the destruction of its children, and the beginning of the gathering in of the true children of God’s kingdom. It should not be understood as teaching anything beyond this.”(Joel McDurmon, Jesus -v- Jerusalem, (Powder Springs, Ga., American Vision, 2011,49– Just scroll down the page). So, Gentry posits Matthew 13 as the end of human history, but, McDurmon says it applied to AD 70.
Take careful note also that McDurmon not only said that Matthew 13 applied to the AD 70 harvest, but, “It should not be understood as teaching anything beyond this.” Well, if (since) that is true, then down goes Gentry’s claim– a claim, by the way, repeated by McDurmon himself on other occasions!!!– that the events of AD 70 were typological of events beyond AD 70! So, McDurmon says AD 70 did not point to anything beyond those events, but, on the other hand, AD 70 does point to events far, far beyond AD 70! But, let’s look closer at Gentry’s position on the harvest / gathering / resurrection.
One of Gentry’s favorite claims is that because different words are used in different texts, e.g. Paul used “elthe” (a cognate of erchomai) in 2 Thessalonians 1, but he used parousia in chapter 2, that this demands he spoke of two radically different events to take place at two widely separated times. See my full refutation and exposure of this facile argument in my book, We Shall Meet Him In The Air. Gentry’s claim is specious in extreme.
When speaking of the resurrection gathering in Matthew 13, Jesus used the word sullego (v. 40, 41). This word is used eight times in the New Testament, six of times in Matthew 13. Significantly, in Matthew 13:47, Jesus used a cognate of episunagogee to illustrate sullego. Thus, episunagogee and sullego are used synonymously by Jesus. Notice the connections of the words:
☛ Sullego = episunagogee (Matthew 13).
☛ Episunagogee = parousia (2 Thessalonians 2:1; A. D. 70, Gentry).
(It is worthy of note that episunagogee is used nine times in the New Testament, including cognates and parallel texts. However, with the exception of the cognate used in Matthew 13:47, it is never used in a text that Gentry would apply to the “final coming.” All of the eschatological texts that use episunagogee are applied by Gentry to the A.D. 70 coming of the Lord (Matthew 23:37f; 24:31; Hebrews 10:25)! So, we have in episunagogee a word used virtually (we would argue without any exception), without exception to refer to A.D. 70. But, in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, episunagogee is used synonymously with parousia! Does this not demand that the parousia– thus, the parousia of 1 Thessalonians 4– was the episunagogee, the A.D. 70 coming of the Lord? This distinctive word, and its un-exceptioned application to the A.D. 70 coming of the Lord is powerful proof of the fallacy of Gentry’s hermeneutic).
Kenneth Gentry- Resurrection – Different Words Mean Different Events?
☛ Thus, sullego, is synonymous with episunagogee, which is synonymous with parousia = A.D. 70.
☛ To continue: parousia = elthe in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 2 Thessalonians 1 (Gentry).
☛ But, since episunagogee = parousia per Gentry in 2 Thessalonians 2, this demands that parousia in 1 Thessalonians 4 is referent to the A.D. 70 parousia.
Gentry believes that episunagogee speaks of Christ’s coming in AD 70, in Matthew 24:31 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2. He fails to tell his readers that 2 Thessalonians 2:1 uses parousia and episunagogee synonymously. For Paul, the episunagogee (gathering) would occur at the parousia in 2 Thessalonians 2:1. Yet, the parousia is what he discussed in 1 Thessalonians 4, which Gentry insists cannot be the episunagogee of 2 Thessalonians 2! This is a major inconsistency. So, while sullego is used synonymously of episunagogee, which Gentry says is A.D. 70, sullego is never used in a text with parousia, yet Gentry insists that Matthew 13 (sullego), and 1 Thessalonians 4 (parousia) are parallel texts.
If episunagogee is referent to AD 70, why did Jesus use it in a passage that Gentry insists can apply only to the end of human history (Matthew 13:47)? Further, why did Jesus use a word in Matthew 13, sullego, that neither he nor any of the New Testament authors ever use again to speak of the gathering of the elect? This is truly a distinctive word. Why didn’t Paul use sullego to speak of the gathering in 1 Thessalonians 4. Why did he use a different word? In fact, he used a word (harpazo), that is never used in another eschatological text!
Consider then: Jesus used this distinctive word (sullego) in Matthew 13 to describe the gathering of the elect. That word is never used in any other eschatological text. Thus, per Gentry’s hermeneutic, this should demand that Matthew 13 speaks of an event totally different from all other eschatological texts that speak of the harvest and gathering. Yet, Gentry rejects such a delineation.
Furthermore, Gentry’s argument about the use or non-use of words falls on hard times in regard to the coming of Christ in Matthew 13. Gentry believes that Matthew 13 speaks of the final coming of Christ at the end of human history. Yet, strangely enough, the text says not one word about the coming of the Son of Man! (In a book designed to refute Covenant Eschatology, editor Keith Mathison argues that the Son of Man passages in the New Testament refer to the A.D. 70 parousia. He fails to inform his readers that Matthew 13 and Matthew 25:31, passages that he applies to the “final end,” are Son of Man passages! Thus, on the one hand, Mathison affirms that the Son of Man texts are not future, and on the other hand, he affirms that some of them are! (Keith Mathison, When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, P and R Publishing, 2004)180+.
In Matthew 13, Jesus did not use the word erchomai, its cognate elthe, the word parousia, epiphany, apocalupsis, or any other of the normal words used to describe his coming! So, if one wished to use Gentry’s hermeneutic, then since the text does not actually use any of the words for “coming,” but instead speaks only of the Son of Man “sending forth his angels,” then Matthew 13 must refer to some event different from 1 Thessalonians 4:13f or 1 Corinthians 15, or….. Yet, Gentry has no problem applying both passages to the same event.
Notice the elements omitted in Matthew 13, that are included in 1 Thessalonians 4: the parousia, the Trumpet, the coming on the clouds, the Shout, the Arch-Angel. However, most of these elements are included in Matthew 24:29-31, a text Gentry applies to A.D. 70! See my chart in the We Shall Meet Him book that illustrates the powerful parallels between Matthew 24:29f and 1 Thessalonians 4.
So Matthew 13 contains a distinctive word for gather, sullego, a word not used in any other eschatological text. But, sullego is used synonymously with episunagogee. Not only does Matthew 13 use a totally distinctive word, it also omits major elements, and critical words, i.e. parousia, that are found in 1 Thessalonians 4, the Trumpet, the Shout, the Arch angel, the clouds. And, 1 Thessalonians 4 likewise incorporates a word unused in any other eschatological text harpazo, and includes all of these elements, yet, it says not one word about the end of the age.
Does not Gentry’s hermeneutic demand that these two texts are speaking of different events, at different times? How can Gentry justify the delineation between 2 Thessalonians 1, and chapter two because of the difference of one word, and the inclusion / exclusion of one motif (angels), while in other texts, you not only have the use of different words, but the inclusion / exclusion of many major elements? To say the very least, this is horrifically inconsistent.
Clearly, Gentry’s hermeneutic is fatally flawed. In fact, Gentry would not for one moment accept the application of his own hermeneutic when applied to the passages we have noted above. The attempt to create a doctrine of several parousias of Christ, two different “end of the age” eschatologies, of contrastive nature, based on the use of different words, is untenable. It is just another of the many examples of Gentry -V- Gentry.