The Reformed community is (just recently, 2023), officially up in arms because popular and influential speaker and author Gary DeMar, of American Vision, (Powder Springs, GA), has had the temerity to challenge the Westminister Confession of Faith (WCF) as the final authority in Biblical doctrinal matters. When DeMar posted the statement from the WCF, in which the creed itself says that creeds are subject to error and that the Bible and the Bible alone is the ultimate authority, many leaders in the Reformed community just could not take it! So, they have established a website, on which they have a list of“faithful” and “orthodox” ministers who stand united in opposition to DeMar’s audacity- and who, of course, are all (ostensibly) faithful to the Creed. All of the signers of the declaration affirm that full preterism is heresy of the highest order and must be rejected by all the faithful. Interestingly, and perhaps, revealingly, on that website they give no opportunity for readers of their Inquisitional Letter to respond or make any kind comment. Hmmm.
Among the signers of that Letter, were Kenneth Gentry, Doug Wilson, Jeff Durbin, James White, and several others. The reader will perhaps be interested to know that each one of these men has been, repeatedly in some cases, challenged to meet me in formal debate, whether in person or on YouTube. Gentry has invariably said he is “too busy,” while Durbin, White and Wilson have failed to respond in any way. (At the posting of this article, [3-16-2023] I posted under a video by Wilson issuing my challenge once again. In addition, I posted another challenge to James White. I also posted to Jeff Durbin urging him to sponsor such a debate at his congregation. I did this because Durbin presents himself and his ministry as “apologists” which suggests that they are willing to stand up and defend the Truth. We shall see if there is any response – but I suspect I already know the answer)!
The reader also needs to know that Gary DeMar has offered to financially support a written debate between a full preterist and any of the leading signers of the decree. When he made that offer, I immediately volunteered, but there has not been any response from the other side.
Similarly, Allyn Morton has offered to help fund a formal debate– up to the amount of $5000.00– for any of the leading signers of the Letter to debate me. His only stipulation was that neither Sam Frost or Jason Bradfield be the representative for the other signers. This comes after a series of exchanges between Frost and Bradfield in which Morton became convinced of their dishonesty and ungodly behavior. Once again, no one of the other signers has stepped forward to accept that challenge Here is the challenge as issued by Morton:
//I have made an offer to Don Preston to put up a certain amount of cash to pay the expenses of two participants in a debate over the validity of Full Preterism.
I am extending this offer for over a period of time from now until September 2023.
It will be up to Don get it organized but the debate must be with one of the signatories of the open letter to Gary DeMar, excluding Bradfied and Frost (who are very irrelevant). Preferably the debate would be between Preston and Ken Gentry.
I have set up a goFund project here.
If you would like to contribute an amount for this debate to happen, please let me know and get on board with me.//
With all of this said, let’s turn our attention to the letter as posted on the website above. Below is a summary of full preterism as perceived by the signers, copied and pasted directly from that site. Again, this is their assessment of what preterists supposedly believe. (Some of their claims are not totally representative of preterists).
I am not going to write a dissertation in response to these seven points. That will not be necessary to expose the presuppositonal and un-Biblical nature of the claims.
1 – That original sin plunged Adam into spiritual death only, and not into physical death [Genesis 2 & 3; Romans 5:12-19; Ephesians 2:13].
Response: God said to Adam, warning him of eating the forbidden fruit: “Of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will not eat thereof, for in the day that you eat, you will surely die.”
This is really quite simple. Did Adam and Eve die physically the very day they ate the fruit? Yes or No?
The verbal gymnastics and mechanizations employed in a vain attempt to prove that Adam and Eve somehow did die physically that day are not examples of sold and sound exegesis, but of eisegesis. See my book, The Death of Adam / The Life of Christ, for a full discussion of this foundational issue. But let me just say that if the Death of Adam was not biological death, then all traditional concepts of the resurrection are falsified!
2 – That Christ does not have (or retain) a physical body consequent upon His resurrection from death [1 Corinthians 15:3-8; John 20:25-28; Romans 8:34]; or
Response: The foundation of this claim is the insistence of the signers that if Jesus is not still in his incarnate physical body that he is somehow not human. (It is also intrinsically interconnected with the claim that the “death of Adam” was physical death). Yet, all the signers would– ostensibly- believe that the dead, Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. mentioned in, say Hebrews 11, are still, not “human” since their bodies have long ceased to exist! Did they cease to be human when they went into the grave? Was / is Adam still Adam, was Abraham still Abraham, after he went into the Hadean realm? Did Jesus cease being a human, while his body was in the sepulchre?
3 – That the sacraments (ordinances) of the church no longer exist for this generation, that the institutional visible Church does not exist, refusing to recognize her officers, authority, and membership [Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 11:25-26]; or
Response: This broad brush accusation is not accurate. There are indeed some (I am not aware of many) in the preterist movement that say that the church ceased to exist at the parousia. This is an issue of discussion, just like in the Reformed Movement, there are areas of on-going discussion and debate.
4 – That the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is already past and fulfilled (AD70) therefore denying a physical visible return of Christ at the end of history [Acts 1:8-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17]; or
Response: Preterists simply affirm what the Bible teaches, i.e. that Christ and his apostles all taught that the Lord’s return was to be in the first century generation (Matthew 16:27-28 / 24:29-31 / Hebrews 10:37 / James 5:6-9 / 1 Peter 4:5-17 / Revelation). Let this soak in: preterists are the only believers that accept and teach that the Lord kept his word, and came back as and when he said he would! The irony here is that many of the signers of the Letter would affirm that many of these texts DO refer to the Lord’s coming in AD 70, all the while labeling preterists as heretics, although we agree with them on the proper application of these critical eschatological texts.
5 – That there is no physical Resurrection of the bodies of believers and non-believers at the consummation of history [John 5:21, 28-29; Romans 8:22-23; Philippians 3:21]; or,
Response: The irony here is incredible! As Mike Sullivan has shown, many of the signers of the Letter agree that Daniel 12:2-7 posits the resurrection in AD 70! Yet, they overlook (or ignore) the fact that Daniel 12 lies firmly as the foundation of John 5:28-29 / Acts 17:30-31 / 24:14f– which of course demands that these NT texts likewise anticipated fulfillment in AD 70! Mike has been gracious enough to allow me to copy and paste his helpful chart here, so that the reader can see for themselves how egregiously the signers of the “Letter” contradict each other on key, foundational texts concerning the end times.
Examine the chart carefully to “catch the power” of how seriously these men contradict each other. Specifically note how some of the leading men on the list claim that Acts 24:14-15 and Philippians 3:20-21 was also fulfilled in AD 70, while others insist it is an end of time resurrection text!!
Here is the chart that Mike Sullivan sent me.
//“A STATEMENT ON UNORTHODOX ESCHATOLOGY” CONCERNING A VISIBLE SECOND COMING / JUDGMENT AND RESURRECTION / AT THE END OF HISTORY Hyperpreterism.com
Nine Passages the Confessional signers [and their esch. system] surrender to AD 70! Only 3 Passages the signers “unite” on:
1). Acts 1:8-11 (Milton Terry / Gary DeMar)
2). 1 Thess. 4:13-17 (Milton Terry / Philip Kayser)
3). 2 Thess. 1:7-10 (Milton Terry / Gary DeMar / Doug Wilson)
4). Rms. 8:18-23YLT (Philip Kayser / Gary DeMar / John Lightfoot)
5). Mt. 13:36-43 (Milton Terry / Joel McDurmon / Gary DeMar)
6). Acts 17:31YLT (Philip Kayser / Gary DeMar)
7). 2 Pet. 2:4-9 (Philip Kayser / Gary DeMar)
8). 2 Pet. 3 (Jeff Durbin / Doug Wilson / John Owen / John Lightfoot / Peter Liethart / Gary DeMar)
9). 1 Cor. 15:23 (Milton Terry / Philip Kayser) 10). Jn. 5:28-29 – BUT this is the fulfillment of the eschatological “HOUR of the end” of (Dan. 12:1-4, 7 OG LXX) that some of them teach was fulfilled in AD 70 (Kenneth Gentry / Philip Kayser / James Jordan).
11). Jn. 6:40 – BUT this is the resurrection of Jn. 5:28-29 / Dan. 12:1-4, 7 and some of the signers see the “last day” here being the last day of the NT’s “last days” period while other signers admit the “last days” were from AD 30 – AD 70. Thus, the “last day” logically is the last day of the old covenant age in AD 70 or the “end” of the old covenant age of Dan. 12:1-4.
12). Phil. 3:21 – BUT commentators agree the “at hand” “Second Coming” of Phil. 4:5 and the resurrection of Phil. 3:21 are the same event with many of the signers admitting the “at hand” coming of Christ in Phil. 4:5 was fulfilled in AD 70. Thus, the “at hand” Second Coming fulfilled the resurrection of this “already and not yet” resurrection passage.
Key Eschatological passages not listed in this confessional statement which they didn’t want to tell you they also surrendered to AD 70
13). Mt. 24:3, 27-31 (Doug Wilson / Jeff Durbin)
14). Mt. 24:30-31 (Ken Gentry)
15). Mt. 24:3, 27-31; 25:31 (Keith Mathison / Gary DeMar / Milton Terry)
16). Mt. 16:27-28 / Rev. 22:7-12 (Ken Gentry / Jeff Durbin / Doug Wilson)
17). 1 Pet. 4:5-7, 17 / 2 Tim. 4:2 / Rev. 11:1-18 (Ken Gentry / Jeff Durbin / Doug Wilson)
18). Acts 24:15YLT / Dan. 12:2-3, 7 (Philip Kayser / James Jordan)
19). Rev. 1:7 (Ken Gentry / Jeff Durbin / Doug Wilson / Gary DeMar)
20). Rev. 21–22:10, 20 (Ken Gentry / Jeff Durbin / Doug Wilson / Gary DeMar)
Reformed and Evangelical commentators agree that the coming of Christ, judgment, and resurrection of the dead event in these passages are the “consummative” “end” and are parallel to all the above passages listed in this confessional “Statement.” In short, the signers of this confessional statement did not refute Full Preterism – they CONFIRMED it! Now we know why Gary DeMar is asking them to address the exegetical questions and challenges for “consistency” from Full Preterism or Covenant Eschatology.//
I suggest that anyone examining this chart objectively has to see and admit that the signers of the letter are not even close to “united” and are not consistent! Mike’s chart is extremely revealing– to say the least!
6 – That there is no future Final Judgment of all men [Matthew 13:36-43; John 5:28-29; Acts 17:31; 2 Peter 2:4-9]; or,
Response: This is a somewhat misleading claim. Do preterists believe that the distinctive, end of the age, judgment took place in AD 70? Yes!
Does that mean that preterists do not believe that men today are held accountable for their actions? NO! That is not only un-Biblical view, it is untenable.Needless to say it is a misrepresentation of the full preterist view.
It is also to be noted from a look at Sullivan’s chart, that some of the men on the list posit the judgment of Acts 17:30-31 as fulfilled in AD 70, while the “official” position of the “Letter” is that it refers to the “end of time.’ Are those men who posit Acts 17:30-31 to be considered heretics???
Contrary to these futurist claims, preterists believe that sin, evangelism, salvation all continue after the parousia, the judgment and the resurrection. After all, according to Jesus, in the resurrection age– which was to follow the age of Moses and the Law – sons of God would be (are) produced through resurrection (Luke 22– if this text is applied to a future eschaton, it demands that sons of God will be produced in the future, “age to come,” through resurrection)! Both the OT and New clearly teach that after the Day of the Lord, life on earth, including physical death, sin, evangelism, would continue!
7 – That there is no end to history in which Christ completes His victory over sin and death. [1 Corinthians 15:22-26; John 6:40, 44, 54; 11:24; 2 Peter 3:12-13]; or
First of all, Christ’s parousia to put down his enemies, as depicted in Luke 19:11f, is clearly posited at the time when the citizens who said, “We will not have this man to rule over us” were judged and destroyed. That parable is not a timeless, generic story. It applied to the Jews who cried out, “We have no king but Caesar!”
Second, the time for that coming of Christ at “the end” was posited by Peter as having arrived (1 Peter 4:5, 7, 17). And notice from Sullivan’s chart that Gentry, Durbin, and Wilson all agree that 1 Peter is reference to AD 70! Not only that, some of them also posit 2 Peter 3 as fulfilled in AD 70! Well, that judgment in 1 Peter was the judgment of the living and dead, which is nothing other than the resurrection! Not only that, to admit that 2 Peter 3 was fulfilled in AD (perJeff Durbin / Doug Wilson / John Owen / John Lightfoot / Peter Liethart / Gary DeMar), 70 demands that the New Heaven and Earth was fulfilled at that time.
Third, Christ’s rule on the throne of David has no end (Luke 1:32-33). How then can it be posited that at the end of the Christian age, Christ surrenders his throne / rule?
Fourth, the Bible knows NOTHING of Christ surrendering his rule / reign / throne. In every single text that speaks of Christ and his throne at the time of his coming, it affirms that he enters fully into that reign (Cf. Matthew 25:31f). Put another way, the Bible says that at his coming, Christ would present the church, as his bride (Ephesians 5:25-26). As William Bell is fond of (aptly) saying, the Bible teaches that at his coming, Christ would sit on the throne, not quit the throne!
Needless to say, my responses here are ultra brief, but, sufficiently probative to demonstrate how presuppositional and presumptive the Letter posted on the Net truly is. There is more than sufficient reason that these presuppositions need to be examined / re-examined.
The subject of eschatology is a vast, comprehensive and fascinating study. The subject runs from Genesis to Revelation. As one past writer said, in spite of the three popular competing futurist views, the study of eschatology is the last frontier of the church to explore.
It is truly sad that when a group of men, from the “protestant” tradition, and specifically the Reformed view, have decided that they are now the official Inquisitors, in the fashion of the ancient Inquisitors so vehemently opposed by the “Reformers.” My, how the worm has turned!!
It is long past time for serious dialogue, even debate, of eschatology, instead of the stone throwing and threats of being “burned at the proverbial stake” (being kicked out of the synagogue!) that are being made! As noted above, I have personally extended a challenge to engage in serious, respectful and collegial discussions. So far, my challenge has been met with total silence. Not a keystroke of response. Why are those men so willing to issue a public condemnation of DeMar, and preterism, but not willing to publicly defend their charges?